Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Busy Week in Arizona

We had another busy week that started with another ballooning experience and ended with a short vacation.  We decided three years ago that we were going to travel each year to some place we could not travel to in the RV.  Since we are planning to take these vacations will signed up for a travel club and received several "free" stays.  We had one that was good for four days so we went to nearby Scottsdale to be pampered and to visit some of the sights.  When I started researching for our fulltiming lifestyle one thing I read was that we would probably end up doing a lot of the same things we did when we lived in a stix and brix.  This has turned out to true as we now go out to dinner more often and this kind of little escape was something we often did when we lived in a house.   
Mike called and wanted to know if wanted to crew again.  We love seeing Mike and T and the whole ballooning thing so we are not going to miss a chance to fly even if it means setting the alarm and getting up at 6AM.  Look who got to fly again and loved it even though it was a bit chilly.  Mike's niece and I served as their chase crew, a new experience for me following the balloon through the streets and driving across an empty field where they landed.
The air was a bit clearer than last weekend so Nanc had a great view.
That is Daniel's balloon Morning Wood being inflated.  T was Daniel's chase crew.  Look closely and you can see me holding the crown line. 
We have always been big Frank Lloyd Wright fans and try to see any of his buildings that are in the areas where we travel.  The Arizona Biltmore hotel was built in Phoenix by Wright in 1929.  It was the must do stop for the rich and famous of the time and continues to be a world class hotel.
The building was typical of Wright's structures with all the ornate concrete blocks made on site.  The spire and low structure blending into the surrounding land are common features of many Wright buildings.
This spire was designed by Wright in 1957 to be part of the Arizona capitol but was not built there. In 2004 it was built in Scottsdale.  It is set in a small park with several sculptures and is lighted at night.  If you are a Wright fan there is a link to all our Wright blogs under the labels on the left.
We stayed at the Zona Hotel in Scottsdale with our "free" voucher and got to enjoy the more upscale Fairmont that was next door.  The Christmas decor was fantastic and even included an ice rink.  For a couple of nights the temps were cold enough that the ice needed no cooling.
Another reason we wanted to be near the Fairmont was because we had Spa Finder gift certificates that we used for a wonderful spa day at the Willow Stream Spa.  We had access to all the resort facilities including the fitness center, pools (to cold), sauna, steam room and whirlpool in the spa.  We had a great couples' message to top off a fantastic day. 
When we were in Arizona two years ago we visited the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park where they have different sized trains, from this full size train above to the model trains below.  Here is a link to that visit when we rode one of the small scale trains.
 What we wanted to see was how far along the model train displays had come in the last two years.  They have come a long way since our last visit, but as you can see they still have a long way to go.  There are three separate areas, one for O gauge, one for N and one for HO.  One thing I learned was that the smallest N gauge can have trains with over 100 cars.  If you like trains on any scale the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park is a must do and it is free.

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