Monday, February 25, 2013

What I've been up to: Arizona trip

And I'm back!  Thanks so much for your patience while I took a little break from blogging.  I finally had a whole weekend free to myself for the first time since mid-January!  And I totally indulged in my freedom this past weekend, giving myself a hot-pink pedicure, going to the gym and buying all the exotic fruits I could get my hands on at the local Hy-Vee store during the Tropical Days sale.

I spent the first week of February traveling with a group of Iowa farmers to Tuscon and Phoenix, Ariz.  My boss was too busy to go on the trip this year, so he asked me to fill in for him.  Our group spent a lot of time on a bus, touring different types of Arizona farms.  It was a really fun group to travel with.  And I ate the most amazing food!

Check out this view from my room at the Loews Resort in Tuscon.  Each room had an outdoor balcony patio.

The first night in Arizona, we were treated to an evening reception. I had to take a picture of the guacamole bar.  They were mixing up the guacamole right in front of us!

Nachos, guacamole and Coronas.
 Bright and early the next morning, we hopped the bus to visit an Arizona pecan farm.  The trees were dormant, so there wasn't much to look at. But we did get a chance to shop at the farm store.  I brought home a couple packages of the most beautiful pecan halves I've ever seen. I'm planning to turn them into a pie!

Later in the day, we toured a produce warehouse along the Mexican border in Nogales, Ariz. It was a state-of-the-art facility, with technology for tracking each tomato from the field to the grocery store. They were also very stringent with food safety there, thus my fancy head gear.

Cherry tomatoes packed and ready to ship.
 The next day, we had a little more free time to explore the resort.  We spent some time feeding the fish in the hotel pond.

Then we went on a nature walk to learn more about all the different types of cactus in the Tuscon area.

In the afternoon, we hopped another bus to the Sonoran Desert Museum near Tuscon.  It's actually more of a zoo than a museum, but most of the animals were taking their afternoon siestas.  I did have fun watching the prairie dogs.  One of them came right up to the glass to check out my camera.

On Super Bowl night, instead of watching the big game, we enjoyed another amazing dinner.  Check out the tiny macaroon cookies on the tres leches cake!  I've never had a macaroon before, so I was pretty excited to try one for the first time.  And of course, I had to take pictures!

We spent the last few days of the trip at the Wigwam Hotel near Phoenix.  The landscaping at the resort was beyond beautiful!  It was so nice to see blue skies and green grass after leaving Iowa in below zero temperatures!

On the last night, I finally got a chance to see my mom and stepdad, who are Arizona snowbirds.  My mom and I enjoyed a little girl time (otherwise known as shopping), and they took me to a nearby In-N-Out burger for supper. Wonder if we'll ever see an In-N-Out burger in Des Moines?

When we got back to the Wigwam Hotel, all the trees were decorated in lights, and we sat by the gas firepit to warm up before my mom and stepdad left for home. Such a beautiful hotel!

So awesome to chat with my mom and stepdad by the firepit.  It made it hard for me to leave Arizona!

Now as I'm writing this, I'm looking out my kitchen window at the 5 inches of snow we received a few days ago.  The snow is pretty, but I'll be happy when I can get outside and garden and bike again!

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