We left Canyon Ranch with the mellow vibe still in our bodies. I was excited to get on the road, but too relaxed to care much about accomplishing a great deal in our first day visiting Phoenix.
We stopped at Mission San Xavier Del Bac, the oldest European structure in Arizona (completed in 1797), and it was every bit as beautiful as it was in photographs.
There were some people setting up what looked like a bbq stand in the parking lot, which I thought was odd, but also really nice. What wasn’t being renovated on the inside was gorgeously painted and had crazy high ceilings.
The church has survived all kinds of natural disasters (earthquakes, lightning and water damage). My favourite part was the adjacent mini-chapel with everyone’s tributes to their lost loved ones. Hundreds of candles were lit and there were dolls in glass cages and pictures to represent the departed. The chapel emanates warmth and loving. If you are in the Tucson area, you should definitely go see it.
A biker gang had gathered outside as we returned to our rental car. I couldn’t think of a better way to travel Arizona.
The drive to Phoenix was full of mountainous beauty. I was itching to pull over and take photos, but instead avoided the hassle of having to pull over on a busy highway.
Our first stop in Phoenix was Green New American Vegetarian restaurant. The woman at the counter was lovely, and recommended we try the big WAC (vegan big mac) with their special coleslaw. It was pretty epic! I also sampled some Washington cider (Okanagan) which was the perfect accompaniment and to my delight can be purchased at my local LCBO.
Afterwards, we checked in with the sweet lady at the Marriott Residence Inn in Scottsdale and went about collecting our roadtrip necessities (cooler & George Forman grill for Yellowstone, groceries, snacks, etc.). One of the best parts about travelling is finding vegan goodies that I can’t get at home.
Everyone was super friendly in Phoenix.
We had a full day planned of exploring the city, but it didn’t quite go as planned.
Breakfast at Braggs Factory Diner was really delicious. I could not get over the adorable decor. It was in the cutest old building surrounded by planters wearing knitted cozies and string lights outside. I fell in love with these Arizona red pepper salt and pepper shakers. Sadly they were vintage and not available for purchase.
The arts district was quite difficult to find. I did manage to find the Songbird Coffee and Tea House, where I had the best latte of my life while nestled into the swing on their porch.
The arts district was rather shady, and there were a ton of homeless people milling about. Mostly there were a ton of buildings with graffitied murals.
The architectural drive downtown was pretty disappointing. The Orpheum theatre looked interesting enough from the exterior, but I didn’t bother venturing inside since I was feeling lazy and awkward. I’m pretty disappointed with myself for missing out.
The Phoenix Art Museum was fantastic. There was an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s work on at the time. I preferred the photography collection, and I really enjoyed the museum’s suggestions they had posted on the walls of what to look for and things to consider while wandering around looking at the artwork. The absolute best part was throwing the helium balloon pillows around in this slow moving room in the Andy Warhol exhibit. The guy had to cajole me into the room. Unfortunately photos were prohibited. Some of Warhol’s earlier drawings were quite primal, so it made me feel better about my own drawing.
Another stop on our exploration of the arts scene in Phoenix was the Bentley Gallery in the Bentley Projects, an art gallery housed in an old warehouse. I think I enjoyed the space more than the art.
Since my mom was all about the donuts this trip, we made a stop at Nami, the sister cafe to Green New American Restaurant, but full of sweet goodies. We bought some awesome strawberry donuts, a peanut butter treat and a NO’s ‘n’ Mint tSoynami (soft serve ice cream treat which allegedly gives you super powers).
Mom discovered her fear of heights today while driving up the South Mountain Park roads to the pinnacle of the mountain. I had my head hanging out the window with my camera poised. I realized how slowly the car was moving and turned to find her trembling in fear driving in the middle of the extremely bendy road. I snapped a photo of her in mid freak-out when I hopped out at a view point.
I know this may qualify under TMI, but I have to say the most surprising experience I endured on this little trek was the outhouse style restrooms atop the mountain. Let’s just say it was quite breezy.
It was breathtaking up there. On the descent and near the end of the park there were a couple of cool vacant buildings. I wonder what Scorpion Gulch is… (apparently it was a trading post and home built in 1936 by William Lunsford).
When we returned to our hotel, I threw together a salad with the ingredients from our earlier shop at Whole Foods Market. I was pretty excited to have found a delicious almond cheese from Kite Hill and some marinated tempeh strips. It felt amazing to be eating ‘real food.’
It was straight to bed after the meal, I was so thrilled to sleep in my own room away from my mother’s newly developed super-cough. Onwards to the Grand Canyon in the morning! Hooray!