Tag Archives: Scottsdale

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Adventures in Scottsdale Old Town – Pt.I

Having had such a wonderful time there last spring, I decided to again visit the friendly Old Town Scottsdale as a Christmas/birthday gift to myself – and it was the bestest gift ever! Last time I stayed with my old Aussie mate, AJ, with whom I worked at a Toronto TV station back in 1999; this time I booked myself into the Holiday Inn Express Suites (pictured below) located close to all the tourist action and very affordable for an 8-day stay.20191218_113254 20191218_113219I took a late night flight out of Toronto and arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport around midnight and after a 15 minute cab ride, checked in and slept until dawn, and this is what I saw when I pulled the drapes back in the morning…..sunshine,palm trees and the pool!!20191213_162438After a quick breakfast, my Day One adventures commenced…the hotel offers a courtesy van that takes you to and from whatever destination you request within a 3 mile radius and my first trip was straight into the touristy hub where I dropped in to say hello to Diana at the Scottsdale Jewels store where I previously purchased some great bling…I wonder if she would remember me?20191212_110646You betcha she remembered! What joy to be welcomed back with a big hug. Diana showed me lots of new fine pieces, native American handcrafted silver and gems and yes, I did quite a bit of shopping there including rings, earrings and even some mini Kachina dolls (currently sitting on my kitchen island bar, waiting to be located somewhere special along with some Navajo “fetishes” I picked up at the Gilbert Ortega Gallery).20191221_175325There’s so much to see, try on and buy at Scottsdale Jewels and Diana is always happy to give shoppers a tour of the turquoise, silver, coral, spiny oyster and even introduce you to the bears!20191212_110609 20191212_11115220191212_11061820191212_110604 20191212_111200Check out their website: www.scottsdalejewels.com and if you visit, tell Diana (and the bears) I said hi!

Next, it was down a couple of doors to the wonderful Mexican Imports souvenir store…so much fun & soooo much to see. Picked up a few souvenirs and the lovely ladies there remembered me from my previous visit. They have very affordable trinkets and nic-nacs. You can see more on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MexicanImports20191212_134155

Time for a sit down and a latte and I was thrilled to discover Barista Brothers, a modest little cafe & gelato shop run by fellow Aussie, Chase. When Aussies connect, it’s time for a real chin-wag (chat) about back home, what we miss food-wise, etc. and he was kind enough to let me sit and upload pics & posts to my social media…thanks, mate.20191212_140039More wandering around, checking out all the touristy stuff, before finding somewhere for a late lunch…20191212_142607 20191212_143223 20191212_142632…and lunch was fabulous at the kitschy but deelish Sugar Bowl diner- a legend for frugal foodies!20191212_144603 20191212_144834I had the turkey dinner special with all the fixin’s, thanks to recommendations from fellow tourists I met outside. Looked like something out of Happy Days…all pink vinyl banquettes and kitchen chairs – I definitely recommend a visit. www.sugarbowlscottsdale.com/

Once my hunger was sated, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for “Art Walk” in the evening – every Thursday during the cooler months, the gallery district hosts open galleries and artist studios, welcoming art lovers  with wine & cheese soirees, live music on the street and all sorts of “meet the artist” events. Oh my, there must be at least 50 indie galleries in a 3 or 4 block area, all offering contemporary and native American paintings, sculptures and stunning hand-crafted jewellery and silver work. So much to see and photograph, although the dark night and modest illuminations made it difficult to really capture the colour and energy of the event…but here goes:
20191212_193751 20191212_194757 20191212_201652I started at the Wilde Meyer gallery (below) where I had already purchased a miniature I saw online a couple of months back (see last pic in this series) – they have lots of beautiful works on display so join me on a photographic tour of their gallery:20191212_19221920191212_19234220191212_19231220191212_19251320191212_19270320191212_19253420191212_19245620191212_193248Thanks, Laura, for greeting me and wrapping up my darling little saguaro cactus painting for a safe trip home.  www.wildemeyer.com

I also loved visiting the R.C. Gorman gallery featuring the work of the late artist of the same name. And I fell hard for the local Navajo fine jewellery – I just had to buy a beautiful ring that kept calling my name! www.rcgormannavajogallery.com20191215_13503120191215_13495620191215_13501520191218_150712I must have spent nearly 3 hours wandering the streets that night, stopping to enjoy the music from artists such as Mike Randall pictured below doing his best Buddy Holly, along with his lovely lady in the most beautiful red & white poodle skirt.  www.comebackbuddy.com
20191212_190645 20191212_194518 20191212_193903Thanks to all the gallery owners & curators, artists and entertainers – I had a blast meeting you and dropping a few $s into the local economy, too!  Back to the hotel for a well-earned rest, all set for the next day’s adventures….

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MY ARIZONA ADVENTURE (Pt. VI) – Dances with Butterflies

On my last full day in Arizona, my friend AJ took me to meet the tiny winged creatures living in Butterfly Wonderland located in Scottsdale. What a lovely way to spend a couple of hours walking through the gardens while thousands of tiny (and not so tiny) butterflies flitted around us.

It took a while for me to focus my phone camera – so many flutterbies to follow. There were a number of cute kids who were fascinated with them, too, so I just focused on one family….

I managed to capture some great shots of them as they sat in the sunlight, resting their wings…20190410_132718 20190410_134253 20190410_132647 20190410_134248I even picked up a hitchhiker…..the great butterfly escape of 2019!20190410_134055The park keeps chickens to eat up all the nasty bugs who are dangerous to the butterflies…this cute one kept clucking at me as I tried to snap a pic.20190410_132906Lunchtime….everyone in the fruit bowl!20190410_132358AJ had several butterflies use him as a resting spot…

And unbeknownst to me, I had been walking around for some time with this gorgeous wee beastie riding on my back.20190410_134342

 

AJ took lots of great shots I’d like to share with you…just look at these beauties:IMG_7648IMG_7697IMG_7729IMG_7731IMG_7750We were starting to get pretty hot and clammy thanks to the temperature and humidity of the “wonderland” so AJ and I went thru to the adjacent reptile rooms and found some pretty cool critters (in a much cooler environment…LOL). Check these out…20190410_135737 20190410_140109 20190410_140118What a blast!  Time for something to eat so we departed Butterfly Wonderland and headed out into the “mall” where we located a rather interesting restaurant….20190410_154125 20190410_145930 20190410_145959Yes, a dino-bistro complete with crazy ass dinosaur models! Food was pretty good – mostly Mediterranean style, and afterwards we walked around both levels of the compound…the sun shone thru the wrought iron railings creating some lovely shadow designs.20190410_154123If you plan on visiting Scottsdale/Phoenix, I highly recommend spending an afternoon here – lots to see and do, not just butterflies. And the souvenir shops are fabulous – lots of nifty things and very inexpensive.  For directions and details, visit their website: www.butterflywonderland.com

Back home to Camp Joy Ranch, enjoying the beautiful countryside for the last time….20190410_161841 20190407_172512 20190410_120828The following day, I had to fly back to Toronto, via Calgary, so this night, AJ and I had our “last supper” at one of the local steak houses…yummmm.IMG_7812I’ll be back for sure…even if it’s just for the amazing steaks!!

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My Arizona Adventure (Pt. V) – visiting Cave Creek & fab gemstone store

A little closer to Camp Joy Ranch, AJ took me to Cave Creek, another beautiful town with a distinct wild west atmosphere and lots of touristy stores and restaurants. The drive into the town was thru vast “forests” of saguaro cactus..I was half-expecting to see cattle rustlers or stage coaches along the way.20190409_122213Knowing that I wanted to purchase some genuine, quality turquoise and native American silver, AJ knew exactly where to take me: Rare Earth Gallery, a very special (and very large) store with just about every gemstone and earthly treasure from around the world.Mar400920190409_130847 20190409_132058 20190409_132226Out front of the store were several carved marble pieces, like this magnificent rearing horse….20190409_130252 20190409_130313…and AJ took an instant liking to this HUGE chunk of crystal (above).  They also had a wide selection of Tibetan salt lamps (below)20190409_132330And behind the cash registers were two beautiful back-lit artworks  (below) made with marble and precious and semi-precious gems mined in the surrounding Phoenix hills. You should see the outstanding amethysts and tourmalines that come from this region. 20190409_132353 20190409_132400I made a bee-line for the jewellery counters and found two stunning rings behind locked display case doors – please sir, may I try them on? Done…they fit perfectly…the rings are mine. One is a green-hued chunk of turquoise for my right hand and the larger one is made of blue turquoise and spiny oyster inlays, both silver. 20190420_162506 Mar4008Obviously a favourite shop of his, AJ purchased a couple more stones to add to his and Tom’s basket of stones in their front lobby (below) – very tactile home decor and each stone carries mystical powers to heal or energize.20190409_091157Once we stored our purchases into the car, we wandered across to where the “frontier town” was – today there were only a few tourists and it seemed a bit sad. We dropped in to the candlemaker (fragrances were a bit too strong for me to remain there), then a couple of the souvenir stores but I just couldn’t “get it up” to enjoy the silly crap on sale there. They had a great loo, tho. I wish I’d taken a few pics – lots of old photos of 30’s and 40’s Hollywood movie cowgirls as well as old rodeo ladies lined the walls so I was able to enjoy a tinkle under the gaze of those vintage wild west gals. 20190409_134936Next blog will cover my final full day in Arizona: we visit the incredible butterfly conservatory and reptile museum, and AJ and I enjoy our deelish “last supper” – more steak for me…LOL!IMG_7739

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My Arizona Adventure (Pt.II) – I visit Old Town & Western Heritage Museum

Saturday April 6th dawned bright and early for me…the sun streamed in my bedroom window (pictured below) by 6:30am and the birds were in full chorus! 20180406_165843Today was the day AJ was taking me shopping in Old Town, Scottsdale’s touristy section with all the souvenir shops and boutiques complete with wild west themed exteriors. Our first stop was the weekly farmers’ market – not your usual ramshackle clutch of stalls and tents, but a well laid out, clean and welcoming market with free samples, deelish healthy breakfast treats and tons of local produce. Everywhere you looked, there were flowers and happy smiling shoppers. 20180406_090834After indulging in a home-made quiche with honey drizzled over it (wow, so yummy) and downing cups of hot local coffee, we headed off to stroll the Old Town streets.  There’s a fabulous art gallery, home decor/accessories and artifacts called Bischoff’s Gallery that AJ wanted to show me so off we went, passing several stunning western sculptures…20180406_092133 20180406_092348 20180406_092455I found so many wonderful treasures inside Bischoff’s including this painted deerskin plus numerous kachina dolls20180406_094017 20180406_094026…and I picked up a couple of modestly priced carved wooden figurines – a coyote in full howl and a bunny rabbit, plus a string of tiny red glass chili peppers that are now hanging on my front door.  www.bischoffsgallery.com

More wanderings in and out of souvenir stores, picking up fridge magnets for friends as requested.20180406_092510 20180406_103518We came upon a stunning fountain with several galloping horses…20180406_110009It was getting just a wee bit hot so we ducked into the fab Berdena’s cafe where the staff prepared fresh squeezed orange juice for me and a tea for AJ. Friendly & welcoming staff made for a pleasant visit. www.berdenas.com20180406_111007 20180406_110704More schlepping around the streets before heading to the incredible Museum of the West where I was to find treasures from cowboy history, native American culture and some samples of the great western artist, Charles Russell.  I’ll let the photos do the talking…20180406_114636 20180406_115545 20180406_115615This next one is AJ’s favourite, as if you couldn’t tell!20180406_115641And these are two of mine….20180406_115655 20180406_115707They’re also heavy into pot…clay pots, that is…20180406_115738 20180406_115751 20180406_115811Lots of wild west memorabilia was on display…
20180406_120631 20180406_120656 20180406_12074820180406_121639 20180406_121730 20180406_121833 20180406_121928I was particularly drawn to the Charles Russell exhibition of his paintings and stories about the women in his life…20180406_120043 20180406_120027 20180406_115936And there were so many amazing bronzes of native Americans…just look at these regal warriors:20180406_120120 20180406_120152And of course I found my very own buffalo…Dances with Glenda!20180406_121022The museum has an outdoor courtyard filled with sculptures…20180406_121108 20180406_121147 …then back inside I discovered a tribute to John Wayne by his artist friend Harry Jackson near the gift shop:20180406_121409 20180406_121416The museum also had a “secret garden” of sculptures around back – look what I found there…20180406_123304 20180406_123441 20180406_123640Big thank you to Jeffrey in the gift store who pointed out some great western books to bring home as well as some cool cowboy fridge magnets (these ones are for me!). Learn more about Scottsdale’s Museum of the West by visiting their website: www.scottsdalemuseumwest.org

More Arizona Adventure stories coming from this lone ranger so stay tuned!20180406_133437

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MY ARIZONA ADVENTURE (Pt.I) – welcome to Camp Joy Ranch

It’s been 22 years since I took a vacation – working for one’s self means if you don’t work, you don’t make money so after all that nose-to-the-grindstone living, I finally accepted an invitation from old pal Anthony (AJ) Cavanagh with whom I worked at a local Toronto TV station back in 1999/2000, to visit him and his husband Tom on their ranch in Phoenix, AZ. If there is a heaven here on earth, Camp Joy Ranch must be it…or at least heaven-adjacent!

After coming in for the landing and seeing such a bleak landscape (below)…20190405_205210…I was surprised to learn that Arizona had recently experienced an unusual amount of rain and the desert was in “super bloom”  i.e. all the wildflowers and cacti were blossoming, bursting with colour and fragrance. After AJ picked me up it was pretty dark and as we drove thru the night about an hour or so out of the city, he explained that they have a law requiring street lights and commercial/retail lighting be turned off or down low in order to see the night sky. OMG…I have never seen such bright stars, the moon, all the constellations! But even more beautiful was the surroundings of Camp Joy Ranch when I woke up the next morning with the sun streaming through my bedroom window…20190407_07061220190406_10320520190406_10294420190406_102710The first thing I noticed, apart from the stunning vistas, was the sound of birds singing. Mourning doves coo’d, desert quails with their funny feathered top-knots warbled and the crows cawed high above as they rode the wind high above. I saw all sorts of birds including red cardinals, honeysuckers and humming birds (try taking a pic of them – impossible…LOL) as well as eagles and hawks, plus the bunnies came out to play every morning (below)20190409_091022After a great Aussie breakfast of toast & Vegemite, AJ saddled up the Prius and we headed out to Scottsdale for some serious shopping and touristy sight-seeing. I was so excited just like a little kid, knowing I was gonna be amazed and enthralled. My next blog post will show you what we saw so stay tuned.20190406_102808