Farewell Phoendish!

Dave came up with the moniker “Phoendish” for Phoenix and it stuck!  This post covers our final weeks in Phoenix/Scottsdale including:

  • Desert Botanical Garden
  • Taliesin West
  • Mexican Cliff Swallows
  • Final Thoughts on our Arizona Adventure

Desert Botanical Garden

  • 140-acre botanical garden in Papago Park
  • Established in 1939
  • More than 21,000 plants
  • Definitely worth a visit, though recommend going when it’s cooler as the sun and heat are oppressive!  They have a special evening light display running through the spring that would be interesting to check out.
  • The desert wildflower collection was in full bloom, it was fun to spot the hedgehogs and the hummingbirds, and the cactus were super impressive!  The setting itself is quite pretty as it’s surrounded by a pretty mountain backdrop.

Wildflower Trail:

Desert Discovery:

Chihuly glass


Orange Sky for Sunset & Different Pointe of View for Dinner

Taliesin West

I am so glad my Mom and I made time for the signature 1.5 hour Insights tour.  Taliesin West and the Musical Instrument Museum are my top 2 tourist activity picks for Phoenix/Scottsdale.  Our guide was top notch and really brought Frank Lloyd Wright’s career and personality to life for us.  Having basically become a Chicago ‘native’, you naturally become a fan of his given his influence in Chicago and the Midwest.  And, if you read The Devil in the White City, you may find yourself appreciating architecture even more!  My only complaint were the other guests who were disrespectful photo hogs (this is coming from someone who takes WAY too many photos, Eileen used to as well, with the disposable camera :)!!

Some key tidbits about Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin from the tour:

  • The architecture school continues the long-held tradition of a mobile lifestyle – they study/work in Taliesin in Wisconsin in the summer and then they move to Scottsdale (Taliesin West) for the winter!
  • He made more money collecting and selling Asian art than he did as an architect!  You’ll see some examples in the photos!
  • He was a huge fan of simplicity – if his architecture apprentices couldn’t explain a line on a draft, it had to be removed.  On a related note, he despised stylized imagery and photos – he wanted photos to depict what the eye sees (I can appreciate that, and often feel guilty Photoshopping too much 🙂
  • He preferred high school, not college-educated apprentices
  • He claimed everything he knew he learned from Louis Sullivan
  • In Taliesin West he used very few right angles as he wanted the buildings to blend into the desert environment.  He also minimized right angles in the interior as it leads to more noise (think of a cafeteria full of kids – right angles = more noise.
  • He was an inventor: of floor lighting and radiant heat floors, but  he didn’t seek notoriety or money for these creations – he did want people to improve on his ideas, and not copy them
  • The walls are made of cement embedded with desert stone found on the property.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright was appalled at the sight of power and phone poles affecting his view of the desert valley – It is pretty ugly


Drafting Studio – Look at the door to the studio in the first image below – may be hard to see/appreciate, but Frank Lloyd Wright designed doors for people his height – 5’8″, and no taller!  Chairs also designed by Wright.

“Garden Room” with Wright furniture

Private quarters

Movie Room – Frank Lloyd Wright was a huge movie fan.  This room was pretty slick – incorporated various lighting features into this room for optimum viewing.

Cabaret Theater – built for optimum acoustics and guest comfort

We also saw the Wright’s private office (which included a bed for resting) & bath, the music pavilion, and the outdoor sculpture garden.

Mexican Cliff Swallows – our cute neighbors!!!

We’ve really enjoyed the Mexican Cliff Swallows living right outside of our door in their mud nest.  Typically they build their nests on cliff edges, but they have been edged out of their natural habitat unfortunately – so an outside corner of a condo in Paradise Valley it is!  They were very cute and while initially skittish (according to Dave all animals on our African safari were also ‘skittish’!), I think after a few weeks they realized we’d do them no harm.  We named the birds Juan and Juanita and regularly talked to them while coming and going (thankfully I don’t think anyone overheard us!)  We got to see them building their nest over a period of few weeks with little pieces of mud – eventually the opening became extremely small as their  babies were about to hatch!  Up until our departure, we were trying to identify them flying around after seeing little broken shells outside of our door.

Here are a few pics:

Downtown Scottsdale

Sunset from our Complex

Around town

Final Thoughts

Some final thoughts and impressions of Phoenix:

  • The people here are super-friendly, could be the many Midwest and Canadian transplants!
  • I’ll miss my awesome exercise classes – great instructors, fun participants (leaving Fitness Formula Club was a big deal for me when I left Chicago – you get used to a certain class and instructor and it’s tough to leave, especially since I had been with them from 1998-2014!)
  • We’ll miss getting together with local friends in Phoenix:  Joe & Jeannie from Chicago and Bob & Susie (Dave has skied with Bob for more than 20 years out in Utah!)
  • We weren’t crazy about our semi-suburban location where you take your life into your hands crossing Shea Blvd and 5 lanes of traffic! We enjoy being in highly walkable areas and not having to drive all the time (I’m glad Dave rented a work apartment in walking distance to Downtown/Old Town Scottsdale as he’ll be back 1-2 times per month for work.)
  • While the weather is amazing here, the air quality is not so good – I was often sick from allergies, so was Dave – we both aren’t feeling allergies at all in Vancouver.
  • We are looking forward to higher quality accommodations in Vancouver and hopefully in Chicago (not holding my breath – vacation rental market is dreadful in Chicago.)

Next up is our first taste of Vancouver!  We are enjoying our stay so far!  More to come!!

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