Posted on November 18, 2009
Underneath The Blue Never-Ending Sky
Growing up on BC’s coast, I’ve always said that I adored living somewhere that the residents experienced four distinct seasons. It wasn’t until visiting the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale last week that I realized I really just tolerate the four seasons because it’s what I’m accustomed to. Once you realize that living without rain is an option, downpours are much more loathsome.
Photo: mikemac29 on Flickr
As I flew into Sky Harbor International Airport around dinnertime, I was instantly blown away by the sprawling size of Phoenix. Twinkling city lights stretched further than I could see through my sliver-sized window. Upon arrival, my host-with-the-most wasted no time in acclimatizing me to Phoenix nightlife. After a tasty little dinner at Hanny’s, a restored men’s department store, we walked a few steps to the US Airways Center to witness the Phoenix Suns completely slaughter the New Orleans Hornets.
Photo: jasontho on Flickr
To say I was instantly hooked would be an understatement. Between sitting fourth-row, center court and the hip hop music thumping while the teams were playing, the game had a genuine schoolyard feel to it. Steve Nash has quickly become a legendary name, but it’s only when you see him on the court that you understand why.
Being that it was Veterans’ Day in the U.S., a first-quarter patriotic display instilled swelling pride within the entire crowd. And sadly, it was the only time I took a picture during my entire trip.
Photo: Frank Kehren on Flickr
On the following day we found ourselves getting through a lazy morning with a trip to Nordstrom’s Last Chance outlet – one of only two in the U.S. I managed to score a current season DvF silk party frock for 85% off and a Marc Jacobs handbag for 90% off retail; he snagged some Diesel jeans down from $350 to $30. No word of a lie.
Shopping is exhausting work, so after a quick late lunch stop at The Vig (and believe me, the VigAzz burger lives up to its name), the rest of the day was a write-off. After seeing a bit of Scottsdale by bike, I was toast.
Photo: Daniel Greene on Flickr
It’s kind of impossible to visit the City of Scottsdale without partaking in their shopping – it’s practically a sport to some of their residents. Scottsdale Fashion Square is certainly the pièce de résistance as it stands towering over the canal-woven Scottsdale Waterfront. With in-mall shops like Barneys New York, Louis Vuitton and Burberry mixed in with Anthropologie, Forever 21, Sephora and J. Crew, it redefines the term “a shopper’s paradise.”
As we made our way through Old Town Scottsdale, we noticed crews setting up for that evening’s The Big Pour, a street festival of (mostly) local breweries. After heading home to engage in an entirely sweaty and intense game of basketball for two, we were ready to shell out $10 and purchased our passports to debauchery. By the time I’d indulged in more than my fair share of 4 oz. samplers, we decided to kick it up a notch by making our way to a hopelessly chic cocktail bar, AZ88, where the whiskey flows like milk and honey.
While dramatic art installations – like the Dead New York City Taxi Driver exhibit below – can largely be argued as the bar’s claim to fame, I must put in a vote for their vicious Sidecar martini. A healthy splash of Cointreau was enough to finish me off. The rest of the night was a blur, including a trip to the Mondrian. It may – or may not – have involved a burlesque swing, too often nearly falling down and puking onto Hayden Road from inside the hired car. (Damn you, Sidecar!)
Photo: cam.riley on Flickr
It should come as no surprise to any of you that Saturday was black-marked by a hangover, so after spending half my day in bed, I finally had it in me to get up and out into the sunshine. Like Greater Vancouver, Phoenix is comprised of neatly parceled suburbs.
Photo: Conekt on Flickr
After grabbing mondo-sized iced Americanos (note that it’s pronounced “Ameri-con-o” down there), we made our way to the southeastern neighbourhood of Tempe – home to Arizona State University. It’s entirely picturesque, featuring a gorgeous waterfront walk around Tempe Town Lake, stunning sunset views and fresh air. For dinner, the Vancouver girl that went all the way to Arizona had sushi. Though, I wasn’t complaining – it was surprisingly fresh and delicious. We capped the night off with a flick at Harkins Camelview, catching a showing of The Damned United. Cute British football movie but it never engaged me. Take it or leave it.
Photo: phxpma on Flickr
By the time Sunday arrived, I had a hard time believing I had to leave already. Normally whenever I’m away from home – even if only to Tofino or Seattle – I feel entirely unsettled and can’t relax, but my time in Scottsdale was amazing. Thankfully we had a bit of time (though not enough if it were up to me) before my flight for a short jaunt half-way up Papago Peak. The views were breathtaking and I can’t begin to convey the sense of absolute peace I felt sitting on those red rocks. My boots are still covered in dust from that desert and I hesitate to wipe them clean.
While some – mostly my mother – are disappointed that I neglected to take any photos, my reasoning was simple: why lose time clicking shots to capture memories when you can experience them? I wasn’t there to play the role of the tourist; I was there to just be there. My time spent there was entirely precious, rejuvenating and incredible to me, and it should come as no surprise that I can’t wait to return.