A few days in Scottsdale

The Scottsdale/Phoenix part of my trip is at an end and I couldn’t be happier. I am writing this from the loudest coffee shop I could find, and if I wasn’t waiting for Samer I’d start driving north right now. I’ll get back to my thoughts about this coffee shop, but let me fill you in on what I did the last few days first.

We got to Scottsdale late Sunday night and checked into the Mountain Shadows Resort. I loved this place. It was built-in the 1960’s but is currently being refurbished. Architecturally, it feels retro and decorating makes it feel really modern. The view was nice and the pool was excellent. I’d easily go back to this place. Everything about it felt very hip.

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I spent a lot of my time lounging around the hotel and reading a few different things. It was all very low-key. The first morning I went to Maverick Coffee for breakfast. This was my favorite coffee shop in the area. Cool staff, good food, and very good coffee. If you are hanging in Scottsdale you should stop in. I spent my morning at the pool and the gym. Afterwards treated myself to lunch at Simon’s Hot Dogs. A Colombian family runs this really good hot dog shop. It is great for a cheap eat. I had an all beef hot dog with pineapple on it. It was really good and I’d love to try some of the other ones on the menu.

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When Samer was done with his conference we went to the Desert Botanical Garden. This garden is beautiful and fascinating to someone who doesn’t have any experience with desert flora. I learned a lot about the plants of the Sonoran desert. There is a type of cactus that is called a cardon and it gets really tall. The botanical garden is big and takes quite a bit of time. The sun went down while we were there, which limited learning about the plants, but it made for a very peaceful walk.


We had dinner at Maria’s Frybread & Mexican Food. I have never had a frybread before, but my understanding is that it is a Navajo food. It’s basically a savory elephant ear that is covered with meat in a red or green chile sauce. They then add some lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese to it and it is a extremely heavy and delicious meal.

The next day I tried a new coffee place called Altitude Coffee Lab. I did not like it is as much as Maverick Coffee. The coffee was fine, the food was mediocre, and the staff did not have it together. It was nice to sit outside, but the old man who let his dog jump on me ten times and the dad laughing at his kid throwing rocks made for an annoying atmosphere. I would skip this place in the future.

Sam had half of a free day, so after the pool we had lunch at Grassroots Kitchen & Tap. I thought the place was good. I had a locally made hefeweizen with an order of shrimp and jalapeno cheddar grits. It  tasted great. It was heavy, but totally worth it. After lunch we visited the Musical Instruments Museum. This museum is excellent. They give you a set of head phones and when you walk close to a display the NFC technology causes the device to start playing. You do not need to type anything in.

I loved exploring instruments from all over the world. There were so many instruments.  I heard great reed based flutes from the Middle East and concertinas from Europe. You could easily spend all day exploring this place. We rushed it, because we got there late, which is a bit disappointing.  However, I did guilt Sam into playing the piano for a second.


On my last day I had breakfast at the hotel (Hearth 61). The chilaquiles were surprisingly good. I took the afternoon to visit the Phoenix Art Museum. It’s an okay museum. There is nothing bad about it, but I think the Philadelphia Art Museum has me spoiled. Very little of the collection was incredible. They did have some contemporary Brazilian art, which I liked a lot.  If I had to pick 1 museum in the area, I’d easily pick the Musical Instrument Museum.

When I left the museum I went across the street for a coffee and some space to write this very blog post. I stopped at Giant Coffee (where I am now.) The coffee is fine, but the music is too loud, the seats are uncomfortable, and they don’t have soy milk (only almond or oat. OAT MILK!) It’s not a great coffee shop, but I suffered through it for you, my loyal readers.

Scottsdale (with a few Phoenix excursions) was a nice break from everything, and I found some good things. I do think I have had enough and it is time to go.  If you are going to spend time in Scottsdale, here is what I recommend doing.

  1. Enjoy the sun by the pool.
  2. Get coffee at Maverick Coffee.
  3. Visit the Musical Instrument Museum.
  4. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden.
  5. Eat at Simons and Grassroots.
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Sedona, Arizona

I just visited Sedona, Arizona for the first time and I loved it. Photos do not do it justice. These red rock mountains are some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We stayed in a bed and breakfast called Adobe Hacienda. The rooms were great and the view was really spectacular. I am glad we stayed out of the town, because we really got to enjoy the solitude of desert.

We arrived late Saturday afternoon and had lunch at a place called Saltrock Southwest Kitchen. It’s a hotel restaurant, but it doesn’t feel like it. We ate on the patio and the view from it is really nice. The food was good and it was a great way to settle into Sedona.

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That night we decided to go stargazing with a local group. It was great. We met at a soccer field a few miles out of town to get away from as much light pollution as possible. A group of 12 of us met an amateur astronomer who had a lot of knowledge and a very powerful telescope. The first star we looked at was Albireo. It looks like a normal star to the naked eye, but through the telescope you realize it is a binary star system with one yellow and one blue star. We learned about the starts for about 75 minutes and it was really interesting. I also liked to look at the Andromeda galaxy, I thought the view through that was pretty incredible. Even without the telescope the sky was beyond description in its beauty and grandiosity.

The next day we did 2 hikes. We hiked the Devils Bridge Trail after breakfast and Bell Rock in the late afternoon. We tried to do the West Fork Trail but the line to park the car was really long and after we waited for 30+ minutes we decided to leave for Bell Rock. Devil’s Bridge is a fantastic stone arch that you can walk out on and look over the valley. Bell Rock is a shorter hike and there is a lot more climbing on the rock. Climbing makes me nervous but it was nice to be there at the end of the day. You could relax and watch the shadows of the other mountains expand in front of you as the sun set. It was really magical.

We had some good beers and barbecue at the Oak Creek Brewing Company between the hikes. There was no view, but a chilly locally made kolsch after a hike through the desert was perfect. Sedona is one of the most beautiful places I have even been. I want to go back and spend more time here. I took a lot of photos, but