Phoenix, Arizona. Better in the winter.

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We have been to Phoenix once before this trip. It was in the heat of the summer and we were not thrilled. We are not desert people. We like lush greenery, tall trees and seasons. Simon’s parents moved out there last Spring and have been hinting at us to follow suit.

Nope.

One thing I do love are mountains. I had the joy of spending extended periods of time in the White Mtns. in NH and VT. I fell in love. As we approached Phx, I was able to reach across a sleeping Cheesemonger and take some quick snaps of the interesting landscape. I’m not Ansel Adams, but I do like this snapshot. The mountain range in the background covered in snow and the sprawling mesas in the forefront give you a hint of what to expect when you land.

My goal for this trip was to simply spend time with family (especially a 2 year old blond headed cookie monster) jax.jpg

We found Phx in February much more tolerable and easy on the eyes. The once brown, chokingly dusty, terrain has developed a thin green veneer…multi colored cacti and trickling mountain streams. Now this is doable.

Our second goal was to eat. And eat we did. 5lbs later I am cursing Kevin Binkley. (more on that dinner to come. writing about 25 courses is time consuming)

We stopped at AZ Wines after we de-planed. az.jpg This place has lots to offer. We found their prices very reasonable and staff knowledgable and laid back. The joint had a full bar and a living room. Decked out with a flat screen TV and leather sofas. Who’d ever want to leave?? We had brought a case of wine with us, so we didn’t pick anything up. But we did take Si’s mom around and point out some winners for purchase at a later date. Lots of local brews were on hand at this store as well. If you are ever in Carefree, AZ…stop in and pick something up. They have great classes too.

For lunch, Big Earl’s. 59.JPGA former filling station turned burger joint. Reminded me of Austin kitsch. Burgers were great. Fries even better.

It was the bar we went to for drinks later that night that fueled my love affair with Scottsdale. AZ 88 . If you are wondering what happened to all the fabulous gay men from Club 54 in NYC….look no further. You just have to remember that they are all over 50 now….but none the less fabulous. (Hence the nickname GAY-Z 88).

An appropriate mural hung above the bar during Valentine’s Day week.love.jpg

**photo not taken on night of visit…daytime view pictured here. Still a fabulous mural done by local artist.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on what I loved about this place. Was it the local art? the amazing bathrooms? The simple, yet delicious food that is served to 1 am? The diverse crowd packing the place to the gills? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. We arrived early…around 8ish. The place had a large amount of senior citizens present. (Scottsdale/Phx is full of them!) I found it strange, but upon closer inspection, these were fabulous little old ladies and extravagant gay couples dining before they head out the theatre (located just across the park). Then, a wave of middle aged gay men arrived….looking fierce. When 9 o’clock hit, the flood gates opened. Dinner before hitting the dance clubs located a couple streets over. The buzz of the restaurant was amazing. The bar was packed and getting a table was even harder. We waited over an hour. We didn’t mind…we loved the people watching and were enjoying our spots at the bar. (and my brother in law didn’t make reservations). Once seated we took a quick glance at the menu and found a very unique, yet simple choices: burgers, salads, light apps and decandant desserts. I opted for the hell fire chips…perfectly cooked house-made chips with shaved blue cheese and hot sauce. Delish! As we finished up our little plates and had one more round, the late night young and hip of Scottsdale popped in. Feirce little art majors (who I assume were at the art opening at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemp. Art) popping in to get their long night started. Oh, to be young and feirce.

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