Sunday, October 26, 2008

Southwest Fox, Post-Conference

On Monday, Rick and Therese Schummer headed for Sedona for their annual "corporate retreat". I also planned to go to Sedona, but my wife Peggy and son Nick didn't arrive until Tuesday, so I spent Monday taking it easy: sleeping in, working on emails, and getting some exercise.

Before they left for home, Tamar, Marshal, and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden near the airport, where we had a great time seeing a lot of varieties of cactus and other desert plants. I picked up a car at the airport, went back to the resort, worked for a couple of hours, then drove Christof to the airport. When I returned, I hung out with Craig Boyd and Bo Durban for a while, who are here for a couple more days working on a project together, then worked for another hour or so before the three of us went out for Mexican.

Tuesday, I picked up Peggy and Nick and we drove to Sedona. Although I've been there several times on day trips, I've never stayed there, and Peggy and Nick have never been to Arizona at all, so we were all really looking forward to a few days there (it was my 50th birthday celebration). We stayed at A Sunset Chateau, a very nice bed and breakfast with a great view of the mountains. We met Rick and Therese and they took us sightseeing to some of their favorite spots around Sedona, then went to a Japanese restaurant for a great meal. Here are some photos of the area around Sedona:

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On Wednesday, we headed to the Grand Canyon. On the way out of Sedona, an engine light came on in the rental car, but it was for traction control, which I've had on my car from time-to-time, so I didn't think it was too serious. However, as soon as we got on the highway, I noticed that the engine was definitely lugging; I couldn't get the car to go over about 65 MPH even with the gas pedal floored. Since it was only about 40 miles to Flagstaff, I figured we'd get a replacement car there. Unfortunately, we didn't even make it that far: about 10 miles later, going up a steep hill and passing a slow-moving truck, the engine died and a message said that starting was disabled. It was a little scary trying to get the car off the side of the road with other cars zooming around us, and in fact I couldn't even get the car way all the way out of the right lane. I immediately told Peggy and Nick to get out of the car to be safe and flagged a couple of other cars over to help push it the rest of the way off the road. A nice couple on their way to Flagstaff gave us a ride to the Budget booth at the Flagstaff airport, where the folks there quickly got us going with another car. The rest of the way to the Grand Canyon was thankfully uneventful.

We had a great time at the Grand Canyon. It's one of those places that no matter how many times you go (this was my second visit), it's still awe-inspiring. We stopped at several viewpoints and spent several hours at the Grand Canyon Village. After a long drive back to Sedona, we finished with a very nice dinner at a gourmet pizza restaurant not far from our hotel. Here are some photos of the Grand Canyon. You can't really get a sense of the scale, especially in a photo, but the far side of the canyon is 11 miles away.

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We did some sightseeing Thursday, starting with Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock State Park. Slide Rock is a very cool place: a natural water slide you can have a lot of fun in. Unfortunately, it was a little too cool to go in the water, so we just enjoyed the vistas while Nick splashed around a bit. We then went to Tlaquepaque, a gorgeous Mexican-inspired village in Sedona full of art galleries and stores. After lunch, we did a bit of shopping on the main street in Sedona, then went on a Pink Jeep tour of Broken Arrow Canyon. Wow, that was amazing. The jeeps went places I didn't think any vehicle could go, including what seemed like nearly vertical inclines and declines. Highly recommended!

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We headed back to Phoenix on Friday and mostly took it easy: a couple of hours at Amazing Jake's riding go-karts and rock wall climbing (yes, even me), some pool time, a movie (Lakeview Terrace, with one of my favorite actors, Samuel Jackson), and then a very nice late dinner at Joe's Crab Shack.

Saturday's return home was uneventful, which is my favorite way to travel. All in all, a great family mini-vacation. Now it's time to catch up: it's been two weeks since I've been in the office and couldn't send emails since Tuesday (I had an Internet connection but my mail server would only let me receive, not send, emails).

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