I spent the first half of my Christmas break here in Utah with the entire family (minus a few cousins). For a partial report on that, check my sister Robyn's blog. It was good to see everybody and be with family.
Unfortunately, before the dust could settle, Christmas was over, my mom and dad were back in Nashville and my sister Kimberly was in Cedar City. With the family gone, I went the way of the Snowbirds down to Arizona.
My roommate Cody lives in Scottsdale and invited me down for the week after Christmas. Always up for an adventure, I couldn't say no.
You've met Cody before. Just in case you've forgotten who he is, here's a picture.
Cody and I spent the week doing all things Scottsdale. From mountain biking and hiking, to cruising Scottsdale's malls, sneaking onto the local golf course after hours, going to a Sun's game, and ringing in 2009 on the Pima Reservation, we did it all. We logged a lot of hours in Cody's car, visited with friends, and enjoyed our last week of vacation before the new semester started up.
It was a great week.
Of special interest in Arizona was the local vegetation. In a weeks time, my Arizonan friends made a special effort to teach me everything there is to know about it. From the "dangerous" nature of the jumping cholla to the local laws regarding the treatment of the saguaro cactus, I am now an expert. Ask me what the Five C's of Arizona are, and I'll say "cattle, citrus, climate, copper, and cotton."
All it took was a week, and I was ready to settle down and stay. The locals told me I'd think twice if I knew what July was like.
To make the trip complete, Cody and I decided to come back to Provo via Las Vegas. Originally, we were going to stay with our friend Natalie in Henderson. When she left for Provo early, Cody and I were left with no other option than to stay at the Riviera Hotel on the Strip. It was no Bellagio or or Venetian, but the price was right.
On the way to Vegas we stopped for lunch in the Route 66 town of Kingman.
We had to choose between Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner and fast food. After eating there, I would recommend it to anyone. Everything was what you would expect, right down to the bickering waitresses.
After Kingman, our path took us by the Hoover Dam. I was a dam first timer , so we stopped to get the full dam experience. We took a dam walk and some dam pictures. Dam, it was big. We had a dam good time.
After the dam, Vegas was just a few minutes up the road. With only one night to take advantage of the "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" mantra, we had to do as much as possible with the time we had. For two Mormon boys, this entailed walking from one end of the Strip to the other and back. We made sure to take in all the sights (while trying to not look at the ground).
We watched the Volcano Show at the Mirage.
Gawked at the lights and crowds.
Payed homage to the Bellagio Fountains.
And dropped our jaws in at least 17 different (but identical) malls.
By the end of the night, we had walked at least 12 miles and seen everything free that Vegas had to offer (with the exception of the video black jack machines, which are not free, despite how lucky you feel).
After our "wild" night in Vegas, we were a little more ready to head back to Utah, school, and the snow. Besides a stop at my sister's house in Cedar City, the rest of the trip is history.