A good vacation should transport you. This past week in Scottsdale, Arizona and surroundings, we wanted to feel transported to the Southwest and tap into our inner cowboys. While I’m not willing to camp out under the desert stars with the rattlers, we did our fair share of hiking and visits to Greasewood Flats, Rawhide and the Rusty Spur.
The differences between the Midwest and Southwest as rediscovered through a 5 and 7-yr-old were heightened and interesting again. I recalled many times my memories of 6 maybe 7 extended trips to the area from ages 7 – 15. From temperature to landscape and language to lifestyle, everyday things continued to keep the inquisition flowing. Not to mention the nagging question for me, why didn’t I go to ASU? The kids wondered about the faraway illusion that cactus needles are soft and the close-up reality of their prickliness. Could you actually eat the oranges and lemons on the trees in our VRBO home’s backyard? Where did they come from? (we get ours at the store) Why can’t we start a fire at a bar in Minnesota?
Our answers unfolded throughout the short 4-day stay. It started with a trip to Greasewood Flats. This southwestern hang-out came straight out of Radiator Springs of Cars movie fame. The winding unpaved dusty roads leading to the joint had separate dunes breaking out horse, biker and truck parking. You could actually gather your own firewood and start a fire near your outdoor picnic table. There was live music, spurs, spit and dust – authentic alright, and a tough crowd you wouldn’t think sympathetic to my chasing a madder than all-get-out sleep deprived son around the premises. We left early.
Next day. An hour-long hike around Piestewa Peak (formerly known as Squaw Peak). And at 3:00p.m. in the afternoon, the trails had a hot and dusty, lazy feel to them. We took the circumference trail and shied away from the summit (the next day, grown-ups realized this was a wise choice).
There were at least four different major cacti that this city girl could discern. The terrain was rocky in parts, but very manageable for kids, not much traveled and satisfied their desire to explore. I’m happy to report that the only critters seen were in our ZipLoc bag of animal crackers Calvin couldn’t live without for the duration.
We spent the next few days living it up by the pool, golfing and visits to Taliesin and MIM and on the last day we went to Rawhide. Similar to the devastation that only a Griswold has felt, we arrived at the boarded up, shut down Rawhide at 1:00 in the afternoon. Apparently, Ghosttown was being featured that aft. (They are open 5-9 nightly). Sadly, we trek it back to Scottsdale.
Scottsdale’s Old Town was a easy visit. Ava and Calvin chatted it up with the locals. We bought some special “rocks” – jaspar and the like. After the women and children shopped, we met up with the boys who wandered into the Rusty Spur Saloon. Surprisingly good Mexican food and a live guitarist taking requests. We heard our second request of the vacation for Seminole Winds live (a favorite of Papa’s) and called it a vacation at that.