Scottsdale, Arizona

On December 22nd, we made the drive from Lake Havasu City to Scottsdale, Arizona and FINALLY, we got to see some sunshine, flowers and plants with leaves on!  It was bliss to be able to walk around in short sleeves and feel the warmth of the sun with NO SNOW!

We sat outside, eating ice cream and watching the world go by in 5th Avenue, Scottsdale.

As well as cactus, palm trees are everywhere!
December 23rd – Scottsdale
It was another beautiful and sunny day, so we headed off to do some shopping in a large ourdoor outlet mall!  This mall boasts the nation’s largest Christmas Tree and we have to say, it was pretty big!
Shopping done, we decided to take a drive into Phoenix.  As we were doing so, we spotted the Arizona State Capitol Building. 
Outside was this large piece of petrified wood, (fossilised wood), which makes it feel just like stone.
We didn’t go inside this time, but as the weather was nice we did take a walk around the grounds which are known as Memorial Plaza.  A lot of the statues are military themed. 
It was really quite nice to stroll around.
This is a statue in recognition of the Navajo Code Talkers who developed the only unbreakable code in modern military history. They used the code during World War II.
This one symbolizes a fallen comrade in the battlefield
This is the Peace Officer Memorial, dedicated to all Arizona’s Peace Officers.
This is the canine memorial for police dogs.
As we were walking through the park, we saw (heard, actually!), this Woodpecker on one of the palms.
 We also saw some dates growing on a palm tree.
Christmas Day and what better way to spend it but at a magical Gingerbread Village!  The base of the viallage is 20ft x 25ft and it weighs 1,250lbs.

It has 350lbs gingerbread cookie dough, 220lbs chocolate, 75lbs dried fruit & nuts and 475 lbs candies and gum drops! 

 And it was really tasty…no just kidding!

After being used to snow and bare trees at this time of year, it was lovely to see lots of flowers and green everywhere.
After that, we had a little walk around the golf course, which was very peaceful and very well kept.
In the afternoon, just to work up an appetite for our Christmas dinner, we had a stroll around Old Town Scottsdale.  It is quite an arty area, so there are lots of sculptures dotted around.

 This one was quite good.  You could spin it around to make them dance!

Some of the old buildings.
Later that evening, we went to Fogo De Chao for our Christmas dinner.  It is a Brazilian Steakhouse.  There are quite a few locations and this You Tube Video explains the concept.  If you are in the US and you see one, it is delicious.
You come away completely stuffed! It was fabulous!
Next up was San Diego, but we’ll get to that at some point in the days ahead.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Continuing on from our Salt Lake City/St George blog…

So we moved swiflty on from St George (21st December). Next stop, Lake Havasu City, Arizona. This was only about a five hour drive.  It was still wet, but the roads and conditions were improving dramatically from everything we had experienced so far.  It was lovely to see “snow free” roads.

Lake Havasu City is a resort built on the Colorado River, which is popular with the land-locked citizens of Arizona. In 1968, Robert McCulloch bought London Bridge and transported it, stone by stone, to its current location. He was mocked by some, suggesting that he thought he had bought London’s Tower Bridge. There was more hilarity when it appeared that there was nothing for it to span! Undaunted, McCulloch (who always insisted there was no confusion over which bridge he had purchased) created a resort “island” by digging a chanel to divert water from Lake Havasu.

We stayed at the London Bridge Resort.

As soon as you step inside, you are faced with (so they claim) the world’s only replica of England’s Gold State Coach.

You can’t have all this water without the odd duck!
Well, it’s pretty much all about the bridge here, so here are some photos of it!  It did seem strange, seeing this transplanted British architecture in America.  We really could have been looking at a bridge over the Thames.  The sky looked pretty British too! 😉

 It looked lovely lit up at night too.


 The lights in the hotel grounds were also very pretty.


Salt Lake City, Utah

As the real estate market quietened down for Christmas, we decided to take advantage and planned an impromptu trrip to the US.  “Planned” may be too strong a word.  We only had a day to pack, figure out the route and book accommodations before departing on our nearly 5,000 mile round trip!

Our plan was to try and get ahead of the weather, but it unfortunatley stuck with us for most of the journey south! 

Our first day (17th December) took us across the border and down to Helena, Montana, which took us about 7 hours.  We stayed there overnight, before continuing down to Salt Lake City the next day (18th December), which took about another 7 hours. 

It was quite snowy for both journeys, but surprisingly, we made pretty good progress.  In good weather, we thought it might be quite a scenic drive, but we didn’t manage to see much through the blowing snow!

To have a bit of a break from driving, we decided to spend the next day (19th December) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As it was still very cold and snowy here, we had to find some indoor activities.  What better way to start than with some shopping, and with those American prices, we were like kids in a candy store!

In the afternoon, we thought we would keep warm in the State Capitol Building.  The building was apparently used in the film Legally Blonde 2!

If you follow our blog, you know we like to visit State Capitols (and Canadian Provincial equivalents).  They are usually pretty grand buildings to walk around, and this one did not disappoint. 
These four statues represent: Arts & Education
 Immigration & Settlement
 Land & Community
Science & Technology 
We also learned a little about Brigham Young, a major character in Utah’s history. 

 The finger on the statues hand is shiny where it has been touched by so many.

Utah is the “Beehive State” and there are beehives on everything!  On the coats of arms, on the flag, even on the police cars!
This case was packed full of “beehive” memorabilia. 
Even the doors had beehives on them!  The beehive theme relates to the early Utah pioneers who had little to work with and had to use great industry to produce their own supplies.
This was a view out of the window, which we are sure, on a clear day, would look stunning.
We took a brief stroll outside.  Unfortunately, because of the weather, we didn’t brave the grounds, but they appear to be very beautiful, well kept and tranquil – perhaps next time!
As we were leaving and the light was dimming, the building was looking lovely, all lit up.  It wasn’t quite dark enough for full impact, but it looked quite nice all the same.
 As we were driving through the City back to our hotel, we saw some more lovely buildings and decided it would be a very nice city to come back to and take a stroll around, in much better weather!

We also got a glimpse Eagle Gate.  Eagle Gate was built in 1859 as the entrance to Brigham Young’s farm. Originally 22ft/6.70m wide, it was several times enlarged to allow for increasing traffic and is now 75ft/23m wide. The gate is crowned by a massive eagle with a wing-span of over 20ft/6m.

On 20th December, we continued our journey south.  Next stop, St George, Utah.  This was a considerably shorter journey, at just 5 hours, although we still had snow, sleet and rain to contend with!  We were hoping to see the sun in St George but instead got incessant, heavy rain, (almost unheard of there, apparently).  Throughout our journey to date, we had got caught up in the massive winter storm which caused a state of emergency in California, with us feeling its effects as it made its way inland and across our route!