Having been to Arizona so many times, I tend to repeat the same activities on most visits. Generally, these activities might include: Spring Training, Sedona, Old Town Scottsdale, hiking or cycling in the Valley of the Sun, visiting friends, visiting a few of the museums, and dining at some of my favorite places.
But here is something rather unique for Arizona:
When many think of Arizona, they think of oppressive heat, miles of sandy desert, and coyotes chasing road runners, so it might come as a surprise to know that Arizona has an ideal climate for growing grapes. It’s actually not all desert — there is a great variety of climates and a vast difference in elevations. Arizona also sits at 40 degrees latitude — the ideal growing conditions range from the 30 to 50-degree mark. Even the hot and flat parts see a great diurnal shift in day-to-nighttime temperatures. There are three main growing regions: hip Verde Valley which is just north of Phoenix, and the Sonoita/Elgin and Willcox regions are outside Tucson. The styles and grapes run the gamut, but the main grapes grown are chenin blanc, malvasia bianca, viognier, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, and mourvedre. (courtesy of Tasting Table)
Have I ever tasted an Arizona wine? Not yet, but I will on this trip.
Another, perhaps long-time aspiration is to visit the Relocation camp in Gila River where my parents were incarcerated after Pearl Harbor. I cannot imagine living in tar paper barracks, in the Arizona heat, with dirt and dust whirling constantly. My visit to Gila River will complete my research on my parents’ Relocation story. Though far from complete, this is a major piece of the puzzle, so to speak. See my separate email regarding this visit.
Phoenix has always been a special place to me. Why? My parents were married here, on a weekend pass from Relocation Camp in Gila. My Mom said she recalled wearing a blue dress, her favorite color, and mine too!
A spring visit to Arizona was part of our regular family activities when raising my children. Spring training was the big attraction, then we added golf when my son was about 10. Golf in the morning, baseball in the afternoon. Later, swimming was added to the routine when Sarah came along. And I really do miss those days!
I have not visited Saguaro National Park in several years. But if you have not, I strongly suggest a visit. Did you know the saguaro cactus is protected here? Did you know they can reach a height of forty feet, weigh up to six tons, and reach adulthood at 125 years? They produce flowers when they reach the age of 35. They can grow up to 25 arms (hear that Mr. Octopus?).
I enjoy the desert but only in the winter. It makes a great sunny break from the foggy, gloomy weather here in the Valley. And I enjoy the smaller ballparks here, particularly Scottsdale Stadium, home of my Giants.
Old Town Scottsdale, despite its touristy vibe, is still a good one- or two-hour visit. Over the years, we have purchased shoes, jewelry, candy, and T shirts. I miss the old Pink Pony, an old-style steakhouse where the Giants would hang out. Gone also is Don and Charlie’s, a real Spring Training institution. We enjoyed their BBQ ribs while my son would hop from table to table to get autographs of baseball stars, past and present.
Another favorite Scottsdale activity for families is Rawhide. The kids just love the western vibe, cowboys, and shootouts. And the food is pretty good as well. And the Scottsdale Musical Instrument Museum is also a very interesting visit.
Scottsdale must be the world’s center for plastic surgery. Enough said!
New baseball rules for this year:
Overall, the new changes will add a pitch timer, restrict defensive positioning and include larger bases to re-incentivize a faster and more exciting game. My opinion? They are doing this for the Millennials, since their time is so valuable. Much like golf, where they made the golf hole into the size of a large apple pie!!!
But in March, Scottsdale is all golf, baseball, and cycling!! And good food.