J and I headed west to Arizona for vacation in Phoenix and Tucson. The main reason was the Arizona Taco Fest in Scottsdale, which I was supposed to go to a few years ago with LeighAnne but we had to cancel. We were also going to go to Tucson for the Titan Missile Silo tour, so we added that onto this trip too.
We headed out on Wednesday, flying to Phoenix and then driving to Tucson for 2 nights. We stopped at Wild Horse Pass casino for dinner at their Asian place, and got to our rental around 7:30. Settled in and then walked over to the 4th street area which had restaurants/bars and shops etc. We went to a brewery that had a 12 beer flight! Holy moly lol. The beer was ok, it had a weird mouth feel to it. Stopped into a bar that was having Geeks Who Drink trivia, helped out some strangers on a few questions before moving on to a “goth” place, Surly Wench (I think) and Che’s Lounge, who advertised a bloody mary on their sign, so I had to try it (not bad!).
Thursday was our free day in Tucson so we drove out to Biosphere2. I thought it would be pretty neat to see, and a place not many other people I know will ever go to. I honestly don’t know much about it, I just remember it being in the news ages ago. It was cool, J thought it was creepy. It is being used now by University of Arizona for climate experiments, no more locking humans in for years haha. We finished there and still had time and daylight, so we drove to the Desert Museum. We only had an hour to spend there before they closed, so we didn’t get to take full advantage of everything there was to see but that was ok. The museum is all outdoors in the desert, and has animal exhibits and info on the plants and environment. It was really really nice, good views of the area, etc. Drove back into Tucson stopping at a roadside pull off to take some photos during sunset, got dinner at the oldest Mexican restaurant in the country, and hit a few bars again before bed.
Friday was the Titan Missile Museum tour. We elected for the 4 hour “Top to Bottom” tour, which took you to all 8 levels of the silo, control room, living quarters, etc. There were 5 of us on the tour with 2 retired Air Force tour guides. I have been trying not to use the words “amazing” or “awesome” in daily life so much anymore, unless something is truly amazing and awesome, because they are so over used, but the missile silo tour was amazing and awesome. The tour was really fantastic, the guides were really knowledgeable and the tour was super thorough, explaining every piece of machinery used to operate the missile and silo, what it was like to work there, how things were created etc. It was great. You get to “launch the missile” and everything! haha. The missile that is in the silo isn’t the original, which was dismantled and removed, but a training missile that everyone learned on years ago. So of course, there is no warhead, and no danger. There were no engines at the bottom anymore either. The thing is massive and it’s amazing to think of what the military accomplished with 1960s technology. It’s really hard to believe at times. Now I feel like with all the technology we have the system would be so over complicated and fraught with problems, where the old tech that was a lot of manual or mechanical parts would be replaced with computer systems that’d have issues. It was super cool, so glad we paid the money for the longer tour. Highly recommend it.
After the tour we drove back to Phoenix for the rest of the trip. We were going to stop at this ostrich farm where you could feed them, and that had something called a “goat penthouse” !!! as recommended by Rebecca who I met on a NIN tour, but it had started to storm pretty badly. Because every vacation we take, it rains. There was a ton of dust being blown around, plus rain and lightning, so we had to pass. We also had to pass on the domes of Casa Grande, these weird abandoned dome structures Rebecca also mentioned. We got to our place in Scottsdale, but it was still storming, so we couldn’t really walk anywhere. Turned out to be ok, because we weren’t quite within walking distance of what I’d call “downtown” Old Town Scottsdale. We tried some beer at another brewery before dinner and walking around Old Town a bit.
Saturday we got up early again to take the behind the scenes tour of Taliesin West – Frank Lloyd Wright’s western “camp” complex and school. J had been there before, but he still enjoyed it. It was another several hour tour that got to see more of the complex than the other regular tours. The complex is pretty incredible and very beautiful. It’s the first FLW building I’ve toured, even though we have Darwin Martin House right here in Buffalo. Even though his intent was the “compress and release” feeling of being closed in before walking into a big space, it feels a bit too claustrophobic to me. It was a great tour, and they even give you some snacks and beverages while one of FLW’s original Taliesin students talked to the group.
The weather was pretty nice in the morning, but once we left and headed to brunch it got crap and poured and poured. Cuz as I said, vacation = rain. After brunch we went out to another Rebecca recommended sites, Goldfield mining town. It’s not a true abandoned mining town, though it really was a mine, but it was all rebuilt and is a tourist trappy little place. General stores, a brothel, a saloon, a train…that kind of stuff. We did go on the little mine tour, which was meh, and the mystery house that is always fun even if you know the story isn’t real. It’s so disorienting! Rebecca told us to go because the saloon’s porch has a great view of the Superstition mountains, so we stopped there for a bit and had some drinks, took some photos as the sun set and watched another storm roll into the desert.
After Goldfield we went back to Phoenix to The Duce, this crazy bar that had a boxing ring, and corn hole, and shuffle board, and a soda counter, and trailer serving food, and insanely overpriced clothing, and ping pong, and…yeah. Tons of stuff. It was on a list of things to do in Phoenix I found, but turns out it was also on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. It was neat and fun, kicked J’s ass at corn hole, but it was so expensive. Around the corner was Alice Cooperstown so we stopped in there to check it out before heading back to Scottsdale.
Sunday was Taco Fest!! We did VIP which got us 10 tacos and 5 drinks in the VIP tent, private bathrooms, etc. It was a pretty big festival, lots of restaurants participating in a big area, so it didn’t feel super cramped like Soup Fest in the convention center here. We picked Sunday because there was a chihuahua beauty contest LOL. It was cute, 18 dogs dressed up in costumes. The 3 legged dog won, even though the one dressed like a pinata was cuter. We sat in on a tequila seminar, and a bartender flare contest, which was good because it started to rain…of course. After that, a lot of places were closing up, and a bad storm was coming in so we stuffed ourselves with our last few tacos before heading back to our place. The tacos were all pretty good, a few better than the rest. In general all the mexican food we had was fairly mild. The only hot stuff was the salsas on offer, J trying a habenero one that was ridiculous. It was a good delicious time!
Monday was another free day, so we ended up going to Papago Park to climb the Hole in the Rock outcropping and to visit the zoo. The zoo was way bigger than Buffalo, we seriously walked so much. Lots of different animals to see, and I even got to see lizards in the wild haha. It was one of my goals of the trip. Pretty nice zoo I’d say. Good times.
Headed home Tuesday. It was raining. haha. Lots of fun, saw lots of stuff, ate lots of tacos.