Southwest 2018 Part 5 // Back to Scottsdale!
With this blog post, we wrap up our amazing 16-day trip throughout the Southwestern region of the U.S., connecting the dots between three different work conferences that Wiehan attended in October last year. Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of our Southwest 2018 adventure! And here's a link to our latest video! Want to know how we keep our immune systems boosted while out on the road? Check out a video on the topic here!
Having begun the trip in Las Vegas, Nevada, we then drove east, into Arizona, to see the Grand Canyon, which led to a quick one-night stop in Scottsdale, and then we looped around further west for several nights in Los Angeles, California, and down the southern coast to San Diego. We came full circle back to Scottsdale for the last conference of the trip. While Wiehan worked, I went out exploring the surrounding area. Arizona captured my heart with a landscape so different from home.
Both mornings, I ate breakfast at Hash Kitchen. I had a hot cup of peppermint tea, along with the Build Your Own Scrambler, choosing bacon, avocado, mushroom and spinach. The Scrambler comes with a side of hash potatoes, but I was going through a strict "no potato" phase and the waitress was so kind to substitute those out for fruit instead. It tasted like the sort of food that I'd make at home, which is basically my biggest compliment to a restaurant because I'm ridiculously picky about how I like my food prepped, so kudos to Hash Kitchen! The atmosphere is also very nice!
With a full belly, I quickly headed out the door to make it to my 9am tour at Taliesin West, a desert laboratory, founded by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright's main home, named Taliesin, was located near his childhood home in Wisconsin and has a history filled with scandal and tragedy. Both the Wisconsin and Arizona homes were named after a Welsh poet from the 6th century AD. Taliesin translates to "shining brow," which Wright considered an appropriate description for the way in which he laid the building within the landscape. Later on in Wright's older years, when he grew tired of shoveling snow in the north, he made his winter home in Scottsdale, at the base of the McDowell Mountains. In both homes, he and his third wife built the Taliesin Fellowship, through which students had the opportunity to learn by practice from the master. Wright, together with his apprentices, built the landmark by hand. Native American petroglyphs, prehistoric stone etchings, were discovered in the landscape surrounding Taliesin West. Wright was fascinated and influenced by the primitive designs, even physically moving some of the boulders from the outlying hillside to the property. One particular marking, described as clasped hands, is the inspiration for the logo of Taliesin West. All-in-all, it was a fascinating tour, helped by the fact that I had an incredibly knowledgable and animated guide!
This was really an ultimate day of exploration for me, because after a morning full of history and art, I drove 45-minutes south the Gilbert, Arizona. Whenever I have some leisure time on my schedule while traveling, I look for urban gardens to check out. It's such an interesting way to see and photograph a piece of the local community. In this case, my Google searching led me to Agritopia, a modern take on the American farm. Here lies 160 acres of land where hay is known to have been grown as far back as the 1920s. In the 60s, the land was purchased by the Johnston family, becoming a farm on which cotton and wheat was grown. At the turn of the 21st century, the family transformed the land into what it is today: a suburban development that maintains 12 acres of organic farming, while offering a community garden to residents, as well as an elementary and middle school, senior living community, coffee shop, burger joint and a creative space for a select group of artisans.
My first stop after arriving to Agritopia was The Coffee Shop for a latte. Then I meandered through the community garden. I am always amazed by the fact that elements of a community garden can look so similar no matter where you are in the world. The crops and climate might change, but the evidence of the human hand working a small patch of land is universal. I especially loved the palm trees gracing this garden, as well as the sculpture of retired bike wheels.
For lunch, I visited Joe's Farm Grill. The structure is actually the Johnston's former ranch-style farmhouse, built in 1966. It has maintained its retro 60's style through the years. I had the Chicken Farm Salad with sweet potato fries. Agritopia is certainly an interesting concept for modern suburban design, and I can see how it would attract families and seniors alike who are seeking a pleasant community atmosphere, with nearby dining options.
Returning to Scottsdale in the late afternoon, I looked up nearby parks and found the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trail. I stood completely in awe of the landscape, with the dusty path and the incredible desert vegetation. There are tons of trails at the preserve, but I stuck to the short 1mi / 1.6km Saguaro Loop Trail. It's name did not disappoint, as I walked amongst the saguaro cacti soaring high in the sky when standing in near proximity. The next morning, I insisted that Wiehan get up early for a run at the park so that he could also see this amazing landscape. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to peak above the horizon. Not having a lot of time before his work day would begin, Wiehan went for 2 laps up and down the Saguaro Loop and he, too, was struck by its beauty.
After a few hours of meetings, it was time to pack up the car and head off to the airport. All in all, we enjoyed our time in the Southwest tremendously. We saw so many incredible sights, from the Grand Canyon to gorgeous beaches and amazing desert landscapes. At the same time, we were able to balance work and play, while maintaining our health and fitness while out on the road. Then again, the Southwest is such a great destination for health and fitness, so it's really no surprise. We hope you enjoyed all our videos and blog posts documenting this fun adventure!
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Tell us! If you had a day to spend all to yourself, with no work or chores, what would you do?