Most of the afternoon was just hanging out with the in-laws, and getting to see their new place (they'd moved out to AZ last year after "seeing one too many hurricanes" in Jacksonville, FL). We ended up going out to a place in a mall in Glendale called Mimi's for dinner. A lot of what we did out there was go to places in malls. I guess I've not spent enough time in the suburbs ... as the whole weekend seemed to focus on hours in the car to get to a mall ... it appears that's what suburban folks do ... the step-mother-in-law seemed to be very excited about the variety and convenience of the various cookie-cutter stores/restaurants in the nearly identical malls.
On Saturday we went over to the Desert Botanical Garden in time to have a guided tour by "Cactus Jack" ... it was interesting enough, especially the bit about the little bug that lives in the cactus and is ground up for the red coloring in a lot of foods and cosmetics! They also had a butterfly tent exhibit, but we're a bit spoiled for those because of the permanent one at the nature museum here ... I would have advised the in-laws against spending the extra money for it, but I guess they wanted to see it.
That evening we went to a pretty decent Mexican place called Macayo's which was in another mall somewhere (Glendale, again, if I'm not mistaken) ... they're part of a small family-owned chain down in Arizona. Their decor was a bit "Disneyesque" but stayed on the cute side of the cute/tacky line (which was well trampled when it came to their souvenir glassware!).
On Sunday morning we first went downtown to look at the Capitol (and the memorial mall in front of it), grabbed lunch over by the ballpark (at Steve's Greenhouse Grill), before eventually heading over to Pueblo Grande, as detailed in my previous post. I am never quite so happy as when I get to meander around archaeological sites ... and I'd not had a chance to do so in quite some time, so I was thrilled to check this one out, as limited in scope as it was. This is not to say it wasn't interesting, as the museum there did a very nice job of putting the ruins in context of the area and the historic timelines. I'd previously read that most of Phoenix's irrigation canals were simply the old Hohokam canals re-used in this century ... and they had some impressive maps of the extensive irrigation system the natives had created a thousand years back.
Sunday was probably our "busiest" day there, as we went from Pueblo Grande down to South Mountain, and drove up to the outlook up top there. The Girls wanted to do more "mountain climbing" than we really had time for, but I think this was their favorite part of the trip. The views from up there are pretty amazing, looking out over the whole Phoenix area (although the picture here is looking off towards the mountains south-west of the city). The Wife had made dinner reservations for us to take the in-laws out, and we had to hurry off of the mountain to drive the hour plus back to Peoria, get changed, and then drive another hour plus out towards Cave Creek, in the mountains north-west of Phoenix. We ate at a place called Cartwright's which was a fancy "Sonoran ranch house" serving a remarkably sophisticated menu for being where it was (I had a "Coffee & Cocoa Roasted Half Duck with Chokecherry Sauce, Sweet Potato Hash, Vegetable & Cotija Stuffed Ancho" where the ground coffee and cocoa had been rubbed into the skin before roasting, leaving an interesting smoky residual which tasted of neither in particular, but which was very tasty with the sauce).
On Monday we wanted to get as far out of town as possible (because the damned immigration protests were going to be tying everything up in Phoenix proper), so we headed out towards the Superstition Mountains (home of the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine and the rumored hidden treasures therefrom). This was another Very Long Drive, which took us up into the Tonto National Forest. After stopping for a few photo ops on the way, we ended up in Tortilla Flat (official population: 6), and had lunch at the very bizarre Superstition Saloon (where nearly every flat surface other than the tables was covered with $1 bills with messages on them!). From there we headed out a while further on the Apache Trail until we got to another view spot (where I took this shot), let The Girls hike along some trails, and then loaded into the van and drove back to Peoria.
On Tuesday, we basically just got packed and headed to the Airport ... we had to be there by around noon, so there wasn't much time to do anything other than to grab some breakfast at the in-law's subdivision's clubhouse. Southwest has got to be happy about the flights down there, both outbound and return flights were 100% booked ... making them a lot less comfortable than they might have been!
Anyway, that's what I was up to over the past few days ... as if anybody is bothering to read this shit ...