We safely returned from our trip to Arizona! We were greeted in Memphis by grey, rainy weather and a temperature of approx. 50 degrees (approx. 30 degrees cooler than it was in sunny Phoenix). Something about stepping off the plane into that made the whole trip more worthwhile. (Especially because word on the street was that it was rainy/grey/cold on my birthday [Sunday] which frankly, I think would've brought me down a little.)
So our trip was good, overall. There was a lot of family time, which also translated into a lot of time in transit (to pick up/drop off/meet up with said family). Phoenix is huge - so even though my grandmother's condo complex probably isn't that many miles from where we were staying, it still took awhile to get her. My cousin & her boyfriend stayed at a hotel close to ours. But then my aunt (who just moved to Phoenix) is in Scottsdale, which was a good 35 minute drive from the hotels. Lots of time in transit.
The first night we were there, we all went out to my aunt's house for dinner and birthday cake. It was nice to see her new place and play with her adorable golden retriever Buddy - but because of a situation with their movers, they didn't have any furniture. Like, none. She had to borrow a couple folding tables and 13 chairs from a friend.
My birthday (Sunday) was really enjoyable overall. I woke up in the morning and walked/ran 5 miles on the treadmill (wearing my awesome new birthday present from Jonathan). Then everyone (sans the aunt/uncle in Scottsdale) came over to our hotel for a pool day. We ordered food in for lunch and just hung out swimming, tanning, reading, and chatting. I wouldn't have wanted anything else. Then at 4, our whole family (dressed in khaki and white, mind you) went up to Camelback Mountain to a beautiful house and had a professional photographer take some family pictures. We followed that with drinks at a quaint little outdoor patio restaurant in Scottsdale. I wish we could've stayed there all night because it was lovely; but since my grandmother needed to get home, and since we were pretty far away from the hotels, we needed to get back. So after dropping her off, we all went to a restaurant by our hotel. The highlight of the restaurant was that it had a whole vegetarian menu! That is, the item would be listed as "bacon cheeseburger," but that part of the menu was all non-meat, so the "bacon" and "burger" were soy-based. I had a "chicken sandwich." (I also had two beers. It was my birthday.) Overall, that was a great day.
Another fun highlight of the trip was going out to one of the mountains one day for hiking (Phoenix sits in a valley, so there are different mountains on all sides). The desert landscape is just beautiful in its own little way, so it was fun to see all the rock, sand, cacti, and desert plants. We did a hike that led to a "waterfall," which was quite literally a trickle that landed in a hot tub-sized cold mini lake. But it was just so nice to be outside that I didn't care what we saw on the hike (as long as it wasn't a scorpion).
And another highlight of the trip? The weather. I spent many of my childhood Spring Breaks at my grandparents' house and I don't remember the weather being so perfect. I guess when you're a kid it doesn't matter? But anyway, it was in the 70s-80s during the day, and then dropped into the 50s at night. There's no humidity and the sun pretty much always shines. It felt crisp at night (enough to wear pants and a light sweater) but not cold, for some reason. And there was an awesome breeze during the day, so it was never hot. It was, in a word, perfect.
Overall, I'm really glad we got to see my family. And I'm especially glad Jonathan got to meet my grandmother. It was so nice to be at the pool on my birthday and to be able to just lay around and not worry about anything. And coming back to a super short week at work? Fan-tas-tic! I'd call the whole thing a success.