February 5, 2023

Visiting Old Friends in Phoenix, Arizona


Visiting Old Friends in Phoenix, Arizona
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 5, 2023

We spent a few days exploring Phoenix, Arizona and visiting old friends last week.

Our first visit was to see Jason and Jen.  They live on the outskirts of Phoenix right near the mountains.  I loved walking around their place and hearing stories of them seeing wild horses, coyotes, and other desert critters.

We went out to breakfast at a restaurant which I can't remember the name of, but they seemed to be awfully fond of Coca-Cola.

We then went for a hike at Papago Park.  Jen told us it is also called  the Hole in the Rock, but I couldn't figure out why.

As we got closer, I started figuring it out a bit.  There really is a big hole in the rock!  We liked going in and out of it over and over again.

We enjoyed spending the day exploring.  It probably helped that it was about 80 degrees warmer here than it was back home.  That always seems to make exploring more enjoyable.

We stopped by the Arizona Biltmore Hotel to have a drink.  We were able to finagle a private tour of their historic property that's hosted a bunch of celebrities and former presidents since it opened in 1929.  We even were able to get into the famed Gold, Mystery and History rooms which was quite the treat.

  Later that afternoon we made it over to Kim and Mike's house.  They have a lovely home near the heart of Phoenix and we enjoyed catching up on old times with them.

We also had the opportunity to visit with Chad and Riann who we haven't seen in person since before the pandemic began.  It was great seeing them again.

We have seen Chad and Teresa since the pandemic began, but probably not in the past year or so.  Kind of sad that we all still live in Minnesota together but have to travel to Arizona to hang out again.  We're going to have to fix that.

 Last but not least was the couple who gave us the reason to make a trip to Phoenix.  It was Vickie's 75th birthday and the family invited us to her surprise party.  

She had a whole bunch of friends and family show up for the party and I think she was pretty surprised to see everyone again all gathered in the desert.  As per usual, the family threw an amazing party complete with story-telling, skits, sing-alongs, and other general rooting and tooting types of activities.  We had a blast.

I moved to Clear Lake, Iowa my sophomore year in high school and the Hornbuckle family were some of my best friends.  I spent a lot of time at their house for various celebrations.  Some of which I was even invited to attend!

Their family has grown quite a bit larger since those days and they're all just a bunch of really good people.  Well, most of them are anyways.

We spent a couple of nights celebrating with one another and had plenty of laughs.  We also created some new memories that I'm sure we'll talk about for years.  

On Sunday, Miss Sheri and I went to do some exploring on our own.  We drove into the mountains to Canyon Lake.

I always try to get out on the water when on vacation even when we're going to the desert.  We found an excursion called the Dolly Steamboat which would take us for a 90 minute cruise through 6 miles of scenic Canyon Lake.

We got lucky and were able to find some seats at the front of the boat.  We braced ourselves for a tour to seek out some desert critters.

It didn't take long before we were rewarded with watching a big herd of bighorn sheep meander through the tops of the hills.  The captain seemed impressed that there were so many together all at once.  They were way up at the top so hard to see with the naked eye but Miss Sheri was able to capture some fun photos with the Zoom Lens.

We get to see more than our fair share of bald eagles back in Minnesota, but we still enjoy seeing them even out in the desert.

We stopped by Goldfield Ghost Town before heading back to town.  It's an actual old west town that was founded in 1893 after the discovery of gold in the nearby Superstition Mountains.  It's now been restored and serves as a tourist attraction with various folks dressed up as old west characters complete with a shootout in the middle of town.

We enjoyed visiting with the locals and checking out the shops and other buildings.  

Phoenix is a great place to visit!  I think we even caught a glimpse of that Chinese Spy Balloon off in the distance while we were there.


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