Our Week in the Desert Sun

This was our trip to escape the dreary Seattle rain and take a few sunny road trips to see different parts of Arizona.

A Remarkable Mission

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ak1 on April 7, 2009

San Xavier del Bac Mission is a Spanish Catholic mission that has been situated in the Santa Cruz Valley of Tucson since 1783. Currently the church is going through a restoration process but it is still a fully functioning church, the day we visited they were having baptisms.

The inside of the church is unbelievably astounding: painted ceilings and domes, beautiful arches, an extravagantly ornate alter and reverent wall paintings. During their restoration process they hired painters who worked on the restoration of the Sistine Chapel to do some of their interior repairs.

The outside of the church is beautiful as well, it is also referred to as the White Dove of the Desert. The outside middle façade is a Terra Cotta color with ornate statues watching over the entrance to the church. San Xavier de Bac was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The church was built from 1783 to 1797 and little is known about the who built it and the architect. The other mystery about the Mission is why one of the towers was never completed.

Grotto hill, although apparently not part of the mission’s property, paying homage to the Virgin Mary and gated by lions at the entrance makes this landmark all the more intriguing and mysterious.

San Xavier del Bac is a beautiful church rich in history and splendor located in the midst of the desert on an Indian Reservation with wavy hills as surroundings. This is a must see destination for anyone visiting or living near Tucson who enjoys old architecture.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
1950 West San Xavier Road
Tucson, Arizona, 85746
+1 520 294 2624

Great Food & Service

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ak1 on April 7, 2009

My fiancé and I have always been fans of Omaha Steaks and we heard that they had a steakhouse restaurant in Phoenix at the Embassy Suites so we decided to give them a try while we were in town.

We went on a week night and pretty much had the entire dining room to ourselves. Thankfully they seated us at a large comfortable booth that overlooked the pool area.

I ordered the 3 onion and 3 cheese soup for starters and my fiancé had a salad, both were excellent, I loved the flavor of the soup and loved that it didn’t taste overwhelming for being an onion soup. Then for dinner I ordered the Filet and my fiancé had the Ribeye. My filet was good but possibly a little overcooked for my liking. I tasted Ryan’s Ribeye and it was pretty dang good, the Yukon potatoes were also excellent that came with the meal. For dessert we ordered the Obnoxious Chocolate Cake to go. Unfortunately I didn’t find it to be that obnoxious, it was more like a milk chocolate rather than a dark chocolate and it didn’t quite put my taste buds over the top.

All in all this was a great meal; wonderful friendly service, pleasant atmosphere in a very beautiful dining room.
Omaha Steakhouse
2630 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, Arizona, 85016
+1 602 553 8970

An Amazing Historical Hotel

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ak1 on April 7, 2009

We got off the plane in Phoenix and headed for the Arizona Biltmore. Although we weren’t staying there, I had previously read reviews about how it was a must see destination while visiting Phoenix. It sounded extra appealing because it is also in the Waldorf-Astoria Collection of Hilton Hotels.

The hotel was designed by architect Albert Chase McAuthor although Frank Lloyd Wright consulted on site for four months and his architectural style is very present at this hotel. It is the only existing hotel to have his direct influence. The hotel was built in 1929 and was one of Arizona’s first resorts. Since then many Hollywood Celebrities and American Presidents have stayed at this hotel.

The lobby showcases some of the old Hollywood Celebrities who stayed at the Hotel, in one picture they showed Clark Gable golfing with a group of people. They also show off some of their old china and other treasured items of the hotel in these showcases.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful, several fountains, flower beds and lush green grass make you forget your visiting desert country although you can still see Desert Mountains in the background. The hotel is rich in history and has a very comfortable atmosphere. This excursion was well worth the trip.
Arizona Biltmore
2400 E Missouri Ave.
Phoenix, Arizona, 85016
(602) 955-6600

Very Fascinating Pueblo Ruin

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ak1 on April 7, 2009

Tuzigoot is an Indian Pueblo ruin in the Verde Valley that was once inhabitant by the Sinagua Indians. This ruin consists of two and three story pueblos that still partially stand there and the largest of them use to consist of 110 rooms.

Tuzigoot is interesting because you get the opportunity to go inside to see things first hand and although things have been reinforced and redone for the publics safety, you can still see some of the original architecture of the walls. These pueblos didn’t have standard doors; everything seemed to be accessible by ladder through the ceiling in order to get to other rooms.

The visitor center at Tuzigoot had a lot of interesting artifacts and information on how these Indians lived. It’s still fascinating to me that no one knows why the Sinagua Indians left the area in the 1400’s.

Although the area that you can wander at Tuzigoot is fairly small, if you enjoy the history and Arizona scenery then you’ll enjoy your visit to Tuzigoot.

Tuzigoot National Monument
P.O. Box 219
Camp Verde, Arizona, 86322
(928) 634-5564

Much More Than Just a Well

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ak1 on April 6, 2009

Eleven miles from Montezuma’s Castle is Montezuma’s Well in which a natural well and ruins of the Sinagua Indian cliff dwellings exist. 1,400,000 gallons of water flow through this well on a daily basis. The water flows through 150 feet of limestone before coming out of an outlet and flowing into an irrigation ditch. This water has been used for many centuries to irrigate the land.

In order to get to the Well there is a series of steps and paved pathways leading up to the top of the Well. Along the top portion of the rock that the Well is located in, there are cliff dwellings. Along the trail there are some remains of pueblo ruins. The most fascinating place for me along this trail was the path that took us down by the limestone that the water flowed out of. It was interesting to see the layers in the rock up close and to see the irrigation ditch that flowed out along the trees.

Montezuma’s Well is very unique because it contains species of animals that only exist there. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see anything too out of the ordinary while I was there besides two small lizards playing tag with each other as they passed me up on the trail.

The scenery and the views of the nearby hills were breathtaking and well worth the drive over to the Well.
Montezuma Well
Off I-17
Camp Verde, Arizona
(928) 567-3322

Truly an Amazing Dwelling

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ak1 on April 6, 2009

This was quite a sight to behold; this is a finely preserved cliff dwelling in the Verde Valley that was used by the Sinagua Indians until the 1400’s. They entered their home by a series of ladders and usually carried water and necessities in pottery on their heads. It is a five story stone and mortar dwelling inside a limestone cliff that contains about 20 separate rooms and once was home to around 50 people. Unfortunately visitors are no longer allowed to climb up to the dwelling because of the damage it tolled on the landmark. Inside the visitor center they have artifacts and pictures on display from the inside of Montezuma’s Castle.

On the same cliff you can see a ruined dwelling that was larger in size than Montezuma’s Castle but it was ruined by a fire. It is still interesting to see the holes in the cliff where some of the rooms use to be located.

Montezuma’s Castle was only a short walk from the visitor center. The paved pathway is adorned by white barked Sycamore trees. Opposite the cliff is Beaver Creek which is one of Arizona’s few perennial streams. There are several great places along the path to picnic and take in the scenery. It is a beautiful park like setting with a great historic landmark which was very fascinating to see in person.

Montezuma Castle
Off I-17, Exit 289
Camp Verde, Arizona, 86322
(928) 567-3322

A must for Plant Enthusiasts

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ak1 on April 6, 2009

This was my most anticipated outing on my vacation, not only were we going to see the Desert Botanical Gardens but we were in town the same time as the Chihuly Art Exhibit was going to be on display in the gardens.

From the second we pulled into the Desert Botanical Gardens we knew this was going to be an amazing Chihuly Art Glass exhibit. From the road we could see a tall yellow intriguing piece in the midst of desert plants. As we got closer to the entrance there were some vibrant glass pieces that were even more breathtaking than the first one we saw.

Entering the gardens was almost an overwhelming feeling for me; there were so many things to see and quite a few pathways to choose from. The plants were already amazing, huge cactuses in every variety imaginable and then with the added beauty of the Chihuly Art Glass it made the gardens absolutely beautiful.

The glass on display was mind blowing, everything was out in the open, several large pieces were put together by a bunch of smaller pieces of glass; it made me wonder how on earth they got it there and how long it took their teams to assemble everything.

The Desert Botanical Gardens consist of 50 acres of outdoor exhibits. It was established in 1939 at this location and has more than 21,000 plants and many endangered plants also have a home here.

We were thrilled with our visit to the gardens and I will have to say it was one of our neatest experiences on our Phoenix trip. With or without the Chihuly Art Glass being on display I would definitely recommend seeing the desert botanical gardens because they were fascinating to see.

Desert Botanical Gardens
1201 North Galvin Parkway (southeast Of Mcdowell Road & 64th Street)
Phoenix, Arizona, 85008
(480) 941-1225


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