Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The 48th State

I just returned from a trip to Arizona, the 48th US state and I'm still dreaming of the warm terracotta tones of the red rock landscape. I had two reasons for going. First I'm trying to finish THE PARASITES, the sequel to THE FOREVER ONES and since much of it takes place in Las Vegas and the  Grand Canyon area, I thought that revisiting the place would give me a much needed boost after the lousy, grey winter we've had. Second, I wanted to see the place that so many Canadians flee to in droves when the winter weather comes blowing in. I know so many people who have invested in condos and houses in Phoenix and surrounding areas, and I wasn't disappointed when I got there.

Elton John's Million Dollar Piano set at Caesar's Palace

FIRST STOP: The Mirage, Las Vegas. Flew in for one night and after watching the amazing Sir Elton John and his Million Dollar Piano, we wandered along The Strip. I took in the blaze of neon lights, the flashing digital signs and non-stop action, a far cry from the bleak futuristic vision I've tried to portray in THE PARASITES. Oh - and I also dropped a few bucks in those lousy machines!!!
NEXT STOP: Flagstaff, Arizona. Stayed overnight and visited the famous Lowell Observatory. the place where Pluto was first discovered. Really interesting tour and got to look through the Pluto telescope and at the sun through a special telescope to see solar flares and sunspots!
NEXT STOP: Sedona, Arizona. Drove through the most breathtaking red rock scenery. Just like the backdrop for a million Hollywood Westerns. I kept expecting John Wayne to ride out from behind the  rows of incredible giant cacti that lined the way and stretched up into the mountains.

A beer and a breathtaking view




Tried out some gorgeous restaurants in Sedona. One in particular I'd recommend is Rene's Restaurant and Wine Bar at Tlapequaque Village. Gorgeous food and great service. The waiter turned out to be a professional photographer. Check out his gorgeous work here.
NEXT STOP: Scottsdale, Arizona. After a beautiful drive and a shaky start with directions, we really did grow to like the quiet, clean comfort of Scottsdale, probably one of the most desirable suburbs of Phoenix. We wandered round Old Town Scottsdale, avoided too many trinket stores, marvelled at the lush golf courses, the ultra luxurious resorts, the pristine shopping centres at Kierland Commons and Camelback Road, visited the incredible Musical Instrument Museum, where we witnessed an impromptu performance from a visiting Austrian Boys' Choir, and walked through the exotic scenery of the Desert Botanical Gardens. We also ate at the marvellous Tanzy's Restaurant, where the waiter puts on an incredible display working with baked mozzarella,  cooking and seasoning it at your table.
Old Town Scottsdale
The gorgeous colours of Arizona

Glass displays in the Desert Botanical gardens.


FINAL STOP: Back to Vegas and the fun surroundings of Planet Hollywood Resort. Stayed in the Charlie Chaplin Hip Hollywood Room. Took in the Pawn Stars Store, a comedy and burlesque Show and even went to see Britney Spears. Surrounded by hordes of screaming loyal fans, I can't say I loved her singing, but she's a great performer/dancer and the sets were incredibly elaborate. Didn't learn my lesson and dropped more money in those darned machines!! Then it was goodbye to the warm desert sunsets and back to the still grey skies of home.