No pictures from today, but here is a quick writeup of my trip to Arizona, and some initial thoughts.
I am in Arizona this week, attending a 3 day training class with my boss. We left Nashville at 1:15pm, and arrived in Arizona about 2:30pm. We actually made pretty good time on the way out and knocked about 30 minutes off of the flight. The flight was mostly uneventful, just some small turbulence as we came across this mountain range into the Phoenix valley. There was a cloud head hovering over the west side of the mountains, as we flew through it, there was some cool lightning just a little bit outside of the window I was sitting at. Pretty neat.
As we descended into the valley, I began to see a bunch of desert roads and trails running back and forth. I am going to seriously wish I had my bike with me out here, I can tell already. Desert riding never really jumped out at me before (seemed like it'd just be gritty and hot), but after checking there area out, I think I'm going to have to come out here and ride some time in the future, spring or fall.
We got off the plane, and walking down the jetway revealed how hot it was in Arizona. I mean, the walls of the jetway were HOT. And that was in the jetway that was connected to the air conditioned airport. Made it to the rental counter, got checked out quickly, and then went down to find that I got to choose the car I wanted and then just drive off. Pretty cool idea. They even had some SUVs, but I didn't feel like they offered any advantage of a car being only 2wd, so paying for gas on one didn't make any since. I ended up choosing a Honda Accord. Nice car so far, sort of plain looking, but decent.
Besides the noticeable heat (don't worry, it's a dry heat, whatever that means! 112 degrees is hot, dry or not!) it was really cool checking things out. We drove from the airport to the hotel in Scottsdale, checking out the building and outdoors along the way. There are a bunch of VERY cool rock formations in the Phoenix area, some really cool fracture boulder piles on the mountains and hills, things like that. They hide water tanks that are painted brown among the hills, making it very neat looking. The architecture here is very neat as well. All of the buildings are low, like they are sinking to the ground to avoid the sun as much as possible. I don't think I've seen a building (outside of the "scrapers" downtown) that has been taller than about 5-6 stories. Many of the houses and strip mall buildings seem to be short; maybe they are dug into the ground some? The stone walls, adobe work, and tile roofs are all very different to me, but I REALLY like the look of it all. Some of the buildings are quite square, and others do not have a straight wall on them. Very cool.
We got checked in at the Scottsdale North Hilton Garden Inn and I chilled out for a while in my room. We decided to head out to dinner and ended up driving down Scottsdale Avenue (the main drag) looking for somewhere to eat. Scottsdale is ENORMOUS. It's really weird to see a suburb of a city that seems to be like twice as big as the city. Anyway, we ended up going to Fogo de Chão for a Brazilian Gaucho meal. It was quite good, and a nice change for me. They have a really large and tasty salad bar (the mozzarella balls were not very good though) and then the grilled meats started flowing. I sampled a lot of the meats, probably 4 different grilled beef cuts, sausage, bacon wrapped chicken, and Parmesan crusted pork loin. It was all pretty tasty, but the garlic beef was probably my favorite.
As we left the restaurant, I noticed it looked really dark and like it might rain. Instead, it was a dust storm. Some of the locals were calling it a Haboob the next day, but it just seemed sort of dusky and dark, went back to the hotel and sort of forgot about it. Later, I was watching the news and realized it was apparently a quite large dust storm. A week or two ago an even larger one hit this area, but this one was a weird one as it was the third large one in about a month, and they don't usually happen this frequently here. Kind of cool to see it, even cooler to see the pictures on the news the next morning.