Two Days in Phoenix, Arizona

Wednesday was planned to be a very exciting, very busy day – confirming purchase of the motorhome, getting a lot of export/import paperwork started, and perhaps even getting the rig packed for the trip back to the Yukon. It didn’t turn out that way, though.

The day started early, with this view from my room on the 3rd floor of the Aloft Phoenix Airport Hotel at 05:42.
Sunrise from the Aloft Phoenix Airport Hotel, Arizona
I really like the design of the hotel – both my room and the public spaces. The main entry door is to the left of the reception desk seen in this photo.
Aloft Phoenix Airport Hotel, Arizona
The only downside to the hotel is that there is only one restaurant nearby, a Ruby Tuesday located right behind the hotel. It has excellent food and service, though. This pathway behind the hotel was very pleasant even in the heat of midday.
Walkway at the
Back at the hotel after breakfast, I went up to the 6th floor to see if the view was much better than from the 3rd. Maybe a bit, but not enough to change rooms. That’s Ruby Tuesday at the lower left. In the center is a Shell gas station that was very handy for fueling up my rental car.
View from the
The hotel’s pool area, though very nice, didn’t get much use.
Pool area at the
With daily high temperatures in the 105-110F range, I had expected Phoenix to be quite quiet, but that wasn’t the case. I hadn’t made a car reservation, and ended up taking a shuttle back to the airport when 2 off-airport locations I called didn’t have anything available. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Rental Car Center is an extremely impressive facility, a bit intimidating at first because of the size, but extremely friendly and efficient.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Rental Car Center, Arizona
Once I got my car, a black Charger, I drove about 15 miles to La Mesa RV to see what I hoped would be my new motorhome. I was quite stunned by the size of the operation – it is massive! My first guess was that the Delivery Center would be the place to go. It wasn’t, but I was soon taken to the person who could show the rig to me.
La Mesa RV, Arizona
It didn’t take me very long to confirm that the motorhome that Cathy and I had found online was as described, and that we would finalize the deal as quickly as possible. It’s a 2007 Fleetwood Terra LX 31M, a 31-foot-long “baby Class A”. A lot like a smaller version of the tour buses I drove for so many years. It would take a couple of days to get the rig registered in my name, the export paperwork had to be faxed to the border crossing at Sweetgrass, Montana, 72 hours before my arrival there, and a mechanic was already at work doing some upgrades we had agreed on.
2007 Fleetwood Terra LX 31M
After calling Cathy to get the payment wired, and getting all the paperwork started, I decided to do some tire-kicking while in the midst of such an amazing variety of RVs. The MSRP on this new Freightliner-powered Itasca Meridian is $394,868 – it’s quite nice inside 🙂
Itasca Meridian motorhome
With that stress out of the way, it was time to relax a bit. Before leaving home, I had contacted Shangri La Ranch, a little RV park/resort a half-hour north in New River, and that was my next stop. It turned out, though, that this is a very quiet place except on the weekends, and there was no place to get a drink or a snack. So, after about 3 hours of enjoying the sun and heat and pool, and chatting with some of the permanent residents of the property, I continued on my exploration of the country.
Shangri La Ranch, Arizona
When I was looking to buy a new car last year, the final 2 cars on the list were an AWD Charger and an AWD Cadillac CTS. I had never driven a Charger (or a CTS), though, so the rental was a great time to see if I’d made the right choice. I had, but the Charger is fun to drive. Driving the very aggressive-looking black Charger with Texas plates through the desert, though, I really felt like I should be “packing” 🙂
, Arizona
There’s not a lot of bird life – rather like the Yukon – but this White-winged Dove was a new one for me.
White-winged Dove in Arizona

I wandered around the country north of Phoenix until almost sunset, then headed back to the hotel to get some work done on the computer and plan out the next day’s activities.

I got a call first thing Thursday morning that changed everything. La Mesa had discovered that one of the air conditioners on the motorhome was dead, and a new one had to be shipped from Indiana. That meant a delay of about 10 days, so I would have to fly back home, and return in a couple of weeks to get it. I was disappointed, but in some ways it took a lot of pressure off, as the trip in 2 weeks wouldn’t have to be done in a hurry as this one did due to family arriving in Whitehorse for a visit. I booked flights back home starting very early Friday morning.

Thursday was now to be simply a touring day. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember – I was already a fan when he died in 1959 at the age of 91. A desk clerk at the Aloft had reminded me that Taliesin West, his winter home and school from 1937 until 1959, was just north of Scottsdale, and that was a must-visit while I was in the area.
Taliesen West, Arizona
I booked a 90-minute tour of the property ($32 for seniors), and it ran a fair bit longer than that due to most people’s high level of interest. For an artist, it’s an exciting property to experience. It felt like a cathedral in the sense that you know that every aspect, from the grandest to the tiniest, has been designed or placed with a specific effect in mind.
Taliesen West, Arizona
This tiny space is one of many examples of Wright’s use of “compress and release” – taking you from a tight space (such as undersized doors) into a grander space. It’s also a perfect example of his “organic architecture” concept of integrating design and nature. I converted 3 photos into this HDR image to enhance the textures.
Taliesen West, Arizona

I spent almost 3 hours at Taliesin West, and would have liked to stay longer. Next time I’ll take the longer tour. I had planned on writing a separate post about Taliesin West, but there just aren’t enough hours in my days right now. There are a huge number of books about Frank Lloyd Wright, but, exercising a great deal of self-control, I left with only a small interpretive guide to the property that I bought to read while waiting for my tour to begin.

Just a short drive from Taliesin West, I stopped a couple of times to compare architectural styles being used in the red rocks that border Scottsdale to the north. The bottom house could be sitting anywhere, the top one is in a position of power, and the centre one is very much in keeping with Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, beautifully blending in with the mountain.
Homes in the red cliffs north of Scottsdale, Arizona
This entire subdivision blends in nicely with the mountain, with no individual element really standing out.
Housing development in the red hills north of Scottsdale, Arizona

To keep Friday morning as easy as possible before a 06:00 flight to Seattle, I returned my car, took a shuttle bus back to the airport, and and called the hotel shuttle.

I saw this sign on the shuttle bus between the car rental center and the airport. No, I’m definitely not in Canada anymore. A forgotten weapon???
'A forgotten weapon', Arizona
Right across the street from the hotel is the Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, the perfect destination to finish off my touring day.
Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, Arizona
Pueblo Grande is a 1,500-year-old Hohokam village site with a partially excavated platform mound, a ballcourt, and several replicated houses. The Aloft hotel is at the upper right of this photo – very convenient. The 2/3-mile trail closed at 4:30, so my visit would be much shorter than I’d like, but much better than not seeing it at all. There are many interpretive signs along the trail, explaining about Hohokam culture in general, and the specific parts of the site being seen at that point.
Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, Arizona
I took a shortcut off the trail at 4:30, and then had 15 minutes to see the excellent displays inside the museum. Again, not enough time, but better than nothing.
Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, Arizona
I would have liked to take a ride on the light rail system that runs in front of the hotel, but I found the Web site to be very confusing. Now that I’m home, I see that they have a trip planner that makes it very easy to figure out, though. Maybe next time.
Phoenix light rail system, Arizona

With a 04:00 wakeup call Friday morning, I was in bed early, ready for another long day of travel.


Comments

Two Days in Phoenix, Arizona — 8 Comments

  1. Murray,
    As usual I enjoyed the pictures as well as the comments.If I cannot be there to all the places you go at least I can see them thru your eyes.I thank you for many years of enjoyment.

    Jackie

  2. What a nice RV you are getting! Fleetwoods are definitely my favorite RV company. I have a Fleetwood tent trailer and after looking at many trailers, I am most impressed by Fleetwood’s quality and lay outs.
    You will have to take some pictures of the inside!

    • It was this layout with the side hallway that got our attention months ago, and after finally seeing this one in person, I’m really happy with the Fleetwood quality. It was full of servicemen’s tools so I didn’t get any photos of the inside, but there will sure be some when I pick it up in a couple of weeks 🙂

  3. Inspiring Murray. You and I are cut from the same cloth. Great adventures.

    Keep the reports coming!

  4. Looking forward to seeing where the RV adventures go…my bucket list is a Sprinter van w a trailer for the ADV bike and space for mtn bike, camping gear and two of my home built kayaks…one day perhaps.

  5. We looked at getting a Sprinter to get the great fuel mileage, but the initial price sent us away. For now, the extra space will make travelling with 2 huskies and a cat much easier as well – when we start planning really long trips, the Sprinter may re-appear in the plans 🙂