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desert storm

I’m finally getting around to writing about my (not so recent anymore) trip to Arizona! As the final weekend trip of 2011, the parentals and I spent a weekend in Scottsdale, using more of my free resort nights – what else? Seems to be a common theme of 2011 🙂 This trip was very much the epitome of how-to-fully-utilize-benefits-of-the-traveling-consultant-lifestyle:

  • Total Airfare: $200 (just had to buy a ticket for my momma, since I used points for my ticket and my Companion Pass for my father’s)
  • Total Rental Car Cost: $30 (used my Hertz points & just had to pay the airport tax + fees). Oh and I guess gas, too
  • Total Hotel Cost: $0

Glad to see that the 2+ years of traveling are paying off! We stayed at the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician – absolutely beautiful hotel & grounds. The desert scenery is completely unlike any other, and I realized just how pretty it is! Among all the cactuses (cacti?) and other desert vegetation, the hotel was also at the foot of the Camelback Mountain, which provided some amazing views both at daytime and night. We also hiked it on Saturday morning…so fun! I wish we had mountains to hike in Houston.

My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Grand Canyon!!! I had never been before, so I was super excited for our day-trip. It’s about 4 hours from Scottsdale, so we left bright & early on Friday morning. The drive there was so scenic and pretty and as we got closer, the temperatures started dropping lower & lower. By the time we got there, it was in the 20′s and the entire place was covered with snow. It’s incredible how the seasons are so distinctive – definitely not something we’re used to in Texas, haha. I’ve only ever seen pictures of the GC during summer and I can only imagine how HOT it is so it was really neat to see the entire place covered in snow. And it wasn’t hot OR crowded. Winner.

After taking a gazillion pictures, we left GC around 5-6pm, as it started getting dark. On the way back, the weather started to turn nasty. It was snowing and visibility was really low, so we were driving maybe 35 mph for a few hours. The weather started getting better once we hit Flagstaff and headed back towards Scottsdale, but it was pretty scary at times! Good thing father is a good driver 🙂 I’m so glad that we went on Friday because we later found out that they closed the entire highway on Saturday, due to the weather. We were lucky!

The rest of the weekend was packed with shopping (there’s this HUGE mall really close to the hotel) and eating. Yes, we ate at In-N-Out…twice. And it was awesome. And on Sunday, we stumbled upon the Arizona State campus and discovered this huge farmer’s market that was there for just that weekend only! Great way to pass the day, especially since the weather was so nice.

Another update in the traveling arena: I finally got a Starwood Ambassador!! I’ve been hearing my coworker talk about his for the past few years, and now I finally have one too!! Basically, I now have a personal customer service representative who will help me with anything travel-related, including (hopefully) hooking me up with some sweet upgrades and the like 🙂 Too bad I got one right as I stopped traveling…but hopefully I can pick it up again to start fully reaping the benefits!

So, 2012 travel plans are still very tentative (minus Iceland/Boston in February), but I’m pretty sure LA in May (for my cousin’s wedding) and…wait for it…AUSTRALIA in August are on the table. Get excited, because I know I am 🙂

The BEST holidays

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