Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vacation in Arizona: Midweek check-in

Last month, my mother-in-law announced to me that neither her husband nor her best friend could accompany her on her annual trip to Scottsdale Arizona. She suggested that because she would rather not travel alone, that perhaps it would be "fun" for Jonah and me to tag along. And so here we are, in sunny Scottsdale Az, halfway through our vacation.

As usual with a one year old (and a mother-in-law) getting here was half the battle. The flight was nearly four hours long, which isn't terrible but also not a walk in the park. Jonah is at that wonderful age when he wants to explore every new thing. Airports and airplanes are no exception. He did well while he was in the carrier, waving to everyone and watching all of the happenings. When we got to our gate, I wanted to change his diaper and let him move around a bit. He loved looking out the windows at all of the vehicles on the runway (okay, I know that part isn't the runway, but I forget the technical term.)
He was so angry when they called boarding for our flight, that I ended up having to carry him upside down through the gate! He was trying to climb out of my arms, back to the window. The rest of the flight was pretty typical. He slept for about twenty minutes, until the flight attendant decided that a good place to scoop ice would be right next to a sleeping toddler's head. My mother in law found that doritos do not make an ideal snack for a toddler on an airplane (we both ended up covered in neon orange goo) and markers are a definite "no" for an activity. Her intentions were good, but I had to wonder about her logic on this one, since there were also crayons at the ready (which would have been a much better option.)

Despite gloomy forcasts, the weather here has been absolutely gorgeous. While I, having grown up in Ohio, think that it's been perfect weather for the swimming pool, short sleeve shirts, and capri pants, my mother in law (who grew up in Utah) has been wearing sweaters and complaining about the "cold." This is summer weather for me, at nearly 70 F and sunny!

It was so beautiful on Teusday that we decided to hit the outdoor activities. We headed about a half hour north for the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens. Because we are Toledo Zoo members, we got into this amazing zoo for half price! I was very excited to take Jonah here, because it is rated as one of the top five zoos for children in the country. The exhibits are amazing, and Jonah had such a great time. I think everyone's favorite was the Giraffe Encounter. For just $3 per adult, you can spend a few minutes with the giraffes, and even get to feed one! As the Toledo Zoo has a similar experioence for $45, we felt that this was a great deal. The giraffes were amazing! I've never seen one this close before.

Another favorite was the spider monkeys exhibit. This really was more like an experience than an exhibit. They had a pathway for visitors to walk through the monkeys' habitat, with ropes hanging above. You could literally get face to face with these amazing little creatures. There was also a childrens' area that had an American Farm theme. It was sponsored by Fisher Price. There was a playground that looked like the Little People farm set, and a snack shack that had healthy meal options (we discovered this after eating a complete lunch that consisted of junk food from the main food plaza.) There was a fake cow that children could milk, and a tractor to sit on and "drive." Jonah loved both of these activities. He wasn't sure that he liked getting the water on his hands when he milked the cow (yes, water came out when you milked the udders properly!) but he still seemed to enjoy it as long as he could wipe his hands off after each squeeze. But his absolute favorite activity in this area was brushing the goats. I cannot wait for him to walk, because I think that he would enjoy things like that even better with a little more independence.

While walking to the zoo exit and making a quick stop at the souvenier shop, Jonah took a pretty good nap in the stroller. He wore himself out! It took us about 45 minutes to get from the childrens' area to the car, so he had a good doze and was ready to go again by the time we got him in his carseat. Just a quick drive around the corner was the Desert Botanical Gardens.

While we only dedicated a couple hours to the gardens, it could definitely take a few days of exploring to see everything there. I had never seen a cactus before, and was awed by all of the varieties that could be viewed here. I have seen the tiny cacti that grew in the area of Texas that I lived in for a couple of years, but nothing like what they had here at the botanical gardens!

The rest of the vacation has been pretty low-key. Yesterday we took a silver jewelery making class here at the resort where we are staying, and Jonah and I have been spending a lot of time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine. Jonah has discovered the joys of playground slides, and is really enjoying being able to have free reign outside. I'm hoping to get him down to the pool area where they have a fountain for the children to play in, despite my mother in law insisting that it is too cold! It will certainly be hard to get off the plane in Detroit this Sunday, and face the winter weather once again.

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