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Sunday, August 9, 2015

CLASSIC TRIP: Scottsdale, Arizona, 2001

    The arbor at Taliesin West
When will some business people start to realize that if give a customer what they want and provide satisfaction, they will spend more than they planned?  I ask this because started off writing this report by doing what I usually do last...figuring out the budget.  This is because I felt I spent more than I planned and I was right.  About $120 more than what I figured before the trip.  

But you know what?  I don’t care because it was money well spent.

I know I’ve consciously avoided spending money on vacation at places where they don’t get this point.  The Congress Hotel in Chicago is a prime example of this.  By trying to squeeze every penny out of me and not providing what was agreed to, they lost more in the long run than they save...penny wise and pound foolish.  Whereas the merchants we visited in Scottsdale kept us happy and we spent money freely...more than we planned.  Those guys made out like bandits.

Which brings us to our trip report.  In short, these three days in the Valley of the Sun were much more fun than an entire week in the windy city.

Friday afternoon...a Memorial Day getaway from L.A.  A routine trip to the dentist delays our exit, so we get stuck in the peak of holiday travel traffic.  The jam lasts until Banning making what should be a 5 ½ hour drive into a seven hour trek.

We make it to the Quality Suites in Scottsdale around 11:00pm.  Check-in goes smoothly and we are soon in our room after a quick complimentary lemonade courtesy of the front desk folks.  

We are tired from the long drive and turn in immediately.

After a restful night, we head down for a complimentary fully cooked breakfast.  Love that word...complimentary.  You hear it a lot at this hotel.  In addition to breakfast, there is complimentary beer, wine, and soda in the evening.  After that, it is complimentary milk and cookies.  Round-the-clock it is complimentary lemonade.  The business center sits right off the lobby where there is a PC set up for complimentary Internet access.  Local calls are also no charge.  In fact, other than the in-room movies and small souvenir shop, it was hard to find anything to spend money on here.  All this was $59 per night plus tax and $10 for an extra rollaway bed.

And yes, they have accessible rooms too.

After eating, the three of us head north to Taliesin West.  In his last years, Frank Lloyd Wright used his 640 acres in the Arizona desert as his winter home and architectural school.  Apprentices would tag along and create their own shelters in the desert.  Wright and his disciples would test their theories here. (See pictures above and below)

Taliesin West 

What they have created is a marvelously ingenious compound of living spaces, studios, theaters, and landscape that is beautiful and practical.  Originally more of a camp, the buildings had no windows.  Canvas flaps covered the openings while in season.  During the summers, the canvas was removed and the building interiors were left to the elements.

Wright’s wife didn’t enjoy the cold that produced or sharing space with local wildlife such as snakes and scorpions and demanded her husband install windows and other shelter from the elements. 

We take the grand tour (there are 1 hour and 1 ½ hour versions of the tour) and found in completely accessible although some of the ramps were a bit steep.  In addition to being a museum and historic site, Taliesin West is still an architectural school, residence, and architectural firm.  The apprentices still live in shelters of their own design and construction scattered throughout the land (if there in winter, be sure to take the apprentice shelter tour).
It was a highlight of the trip and very beautiful except for the nearby power lines that mar the view.  Wright went all the way to President Truman to try to have the lines buried underground to no avail.

Afterward, it’s lunch at the Coyote Grill near the Scottsdale airport.  It is so delicious we make reservations to come back for dinner.  After an afternoon of swimming at the hotel, we come back for apple baked pork loin, pasta, and grilled fish while sitting on the wonderful patio here.  See what I mean about a satisfied customer spending more than they planned for?  Coyote Grill is definitely worth the trip. (Unfortunately, Coyote Grill is no longer there, it's now a place more like Hooter's - Ed)

Tim wanted to see the rides at Coasters ‘n Castles, an amusement park in north Phoenix.  We go but it is very cramped and none of the rides are accessible.  At least it didn’t cost us anything to find out.  I can’t really recommend this place to anybody with a disability.

The next morning we take in the Phoenix Zoo at nearby Papago Park.  An accessible tram provides guests with a quick overview of the zoo.  It also doubles as mass transit around the zoo for those who find walking a great distance too much.  There are four handy stops on the route and one fare allows you to board and alight from the tram as many times as you want.

The tram at the Phoenix Zoo is wheelchair accessible 

We are real impressed with the recreated Columbian rain forest here.  Starting off in a recreated Columbian town, an accessible dirt trail leads through the jungle where many animal inhabitants await such as Columbian bears, pirana like fish, alligators, monkeys, and many birds.  Misters do double duty making it more jungle like and cooling off the Arizona desert at the same time.

Lunch today would be at the Sugar Bowl in downtown Scottsdale where ice cream is the star of the show although they also serve sandwiches.  Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane is a regular here and his cartoons and doodles are very much in evidence.

As the temperature climbed into the afternoon, we settled into the cool waters of the Quality Suites pool where we swam the afternoon away.

Dinner tonight was at the Reata Pass Steakhouse in the northeast corner of Scottsdale.  This place is a real hoot.  Dining is outdoors where your steak is cooked over an open fire.  An Aussie by the name of Gary Lloyd serenaded the diners with some real good country western music and the steaks themselves were succulent and juicy. A flight of stairs will stop you in your tracks but just check with the bartender for the  accessible route to the dining area. 

This would be our last night here and all agree that there was way more fun in Scottsdale than we had time for.  Another weekend here is definitely in order.

Copyright 2001 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. Totally agree with you on the subject of customer satisfaction! Sounds like you had a great time in Scottsdale. I love visiting family in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. I'm also a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, but haven't made it to Taliesin West yet.

  2. We've done this, Oak Park (Chicago), and Falling Water. We also have a FLW house above us on the hill behind our house.

    Great vision, flawed execution sometimes, but what talent!

  3. Great piece, Darryl. We are going to Taliesin West this weekend. Excited about that.