southwest express

February 2, 2011

hello from AZ
thanks to that lovely 2 hour time difference, i am WIDE awake at 6 am AZ-time. we will probably take advantage of this little jump-start to leave pretty early for a day of hiking in sedona, but i wanted to say hi to you all first!

we haven’t gotten to take in much of the landscape yet (our flight was delayed a bit due to weather so we got in after dark), but what i’ve seen so far from above is pretty magnificent:

this is only my second trip to the southwest, and i’ve never been to arizona (that’s partly why we picked it!). the air really does feel super dry — sort of lighter than air back home. and the plant life is so exotic to me! i can’t wait to take a million pictures of all of it.

the little things
it may not be as dramatic, but you know what is almost as awesome as a panoramic view of the rocky mountains?

silver lining to our airline delay!
my toes were in need of some serious TLC and we had time to kill in the airport, so i figured . . . why not!? also, the staff at RDU were ridiculously nice and even let josh sit in a massage chair while i got my feet pampered.

the after. trust me, you don’t want to see the before.
one of our flights was ridiculously turbulent and i nearly lost it, but i’ll spare you that saga, too. just know that i finished battle hymn of the tiger mother and found it very interesting and fun to read! it was a thought-provoking book that made me really ruminate over what my own parenting style will be like someday, but i’ll save all of that for another post.

short + sweet
and that was pretty much our day! by the time we landed in phoenix, picked up the rental car (which has sirius/XM radio – score!), and arrived at the hotel, it was nearly 8 AZ-time and therefore 10 pm to us. only one thing to do:

drink some of this and crash!
we did manage to also eat dinner. i had made reservations at 5th and wine based on recommendations on tripadvisor and the chowhound boards. while i didn’t expect the place to necessarily be hopping on a tuesday, it was!

5th and wine isn’t super-fancy, and i really appreciated having a casual and comfortable place to just eat and relax on our first night in.

i think josh did too

their menu is pretty simple, but i was immediately intrigued by the bruschetta. so many interesting varieties:

click to enlarge if desired
we chose #2, #3, #4, and #5!

looking at this picture i wish we still had some left
i was expecting tiny pieces of bread, but these were each big enough to share easily and cut into 3 slices. and they were delicious.

vegetable salad with jicama, green beans, mozzarella, grape tomatoes + grilled shrimp
my dinner was also good, especially since i was craving FRESH + GREEN (my food log sadly reveals these was the first vegetables that passed my lips all day – i know, disgraceful.)

we admired the artwork on the way out . . .

um, ha!
and promptly crashed into bed at our hotel.

and now we’re off to sedona! i’m already a little sad our trip is going to be so short, especially since so many of you sent great suggestions of places to eat and things to do.

since you asked
finally, since i got this question in yesterday’s comments, i figured i’d address it!

hey sarah! quick question, how do you plan out the activities to do while there? just search “tourist activities?” I love vacations but always feel like once we get to our destination, we’re kinda at a loss of what to do. . .

i know you’ll be surprised . . . i start with my planner as always, looking at the amount of time we actually have. it sounds so simple, but this really helps me to lay out the overall flow/pattern of the trip. then, usually our vacations take on the following formula:

one day devoted to active/nature activity in sonoma, we did a biking/wine tour, and in st. maarten and ashevile we went hiking.

one day is devoted mostly to just RELAXING! i used to have to fight josh on this one (he’s more of an on-the-go traveler) but i think he’s begun to see the beauty of having one totally chill day. on this trip, this will include a massage (yay!) and maybe some shopping, but not much else.

one – two days are pure tourist fun. museums, interesting buildings, exploring the city. on this trip, for example, we’re going to do a walking food tour of scottsdale, and we will tour taliesin west. often we get these ideas off of tripadvisor, from guidebooks, or just word of mouth (or um, keyboard!)

bumping it up a notch: we definitely splurge a bit on vacation accomodations and food. as i wrote before, i’m willing to make a stay shorter if it means each day can be a bit more luxurious/special (and i think josh feels similarly). i love picking out restaurants in advance from chowhound reviews, and for hotel recommendations tripadvisor hasn’t disappointed us yet.

hope this helps! do any of you have more tips to add on designing a great vacation? i (and anonymous) would love to hear them!

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