The trip started out with flying out last Tuesday. We flew from Columbia to Charlotte to Phoenix without any trouble (except I did get a bit of motion sickness). Then we picked up our rental car and drove 3 hours to Williams, Arizona to The Grand Canyon Railway. It was a long day of traveling, but the hotel there was very nice and we got a good night's sleep before taking "The Train" to the southern rim of The Grand Canyon on Wednesday. The entire day was unbelievable. The train ride was fun. We had a great hostess, and there was a Navaho guitar player and a really good banjo player to entertain us on the ride. Once at The Grand Canyon, you have a few hours to explore the area as you wish. We got the 1 day package, so we decided we'd rather hike the trail along the rim to really take in the sites. It was an easy hike and the view was spectacular. We took a lot of pictures but honestly, pictures don't do The Grand Canyon justice. It's also impossible to have enough time there. There's so much to see and do. But our time was limited, so we made the most of the hike and shopping around the village and took The Train back to Williams.
The Train arrived in Williams at 5:45 and it was time to drive back to Phoenix to turn in the car. We weren't really hungry because the hotel had a huge breakfast, and we ate lunch at the village and had snacks on the train. So we drove straight back to Williams. Sunset over the mountains in Arizona is beautiful! I wish there had been places for us to pull off and take pictures but as it is, there was only 1 spot and we passed it after dark both days. Oh well.
We got to Phoenix around 9:00 and turned our car in. We thought about keeping it but frankly, the rental had unlimited miles and was so expensive that we said heck with it - we heard you could walk in Scottsdale and that they had a free trolley. We got a cab from the airport to Hotel Valley Ho and checked in there around 10. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that's the nicest place we've ever stayed in. They have a mid-20th century theme, but don't let that fool you - the place is magnificant! My meetings were on Thursday from 1-5 (but I did get out early that day, around 4), on Friday from 8-3, and on Saturday there were meetings from 10-1, but I had to leave at the 10:45 break because we had a 1:15 flight back home. It's a good thing I got the earlier flight too - more on that in a minute.
After the meetings each day, we walked around the historic district of Scottsdale. Thursday night was Art Walk night and that was great. It was amazing to see the artist displaying their work and letting us see them painting current projects! There were also street musicians and tons of great art around the city, and more resturants than you could enjoy in 10 lifetimes. That was a lot of fun and, of course, there was souviner shopping along our walk. On Friday, we walked to the 5th Avenue Shops and the mall. More great stuff (and great art) to see there, including the canal running off The Salt Lake. We came by the canal around sunset and that was beautiful.
Saturday was time to come home. It was tough, because the weather was beautiful in Scottsdale - it was in the 70's, sunny and clear the whole time we were there. But we were homesick and ready for our birds, our home, and our own bed and bathroom. We took a limo from the hotel to the airport (which, ironically, was cheaper than a cab) and the flight from Phoenix to Charlotte went like clockwork. It was when we got to Charlotte that we found there had been problems there. There were flight delays in the morning due to weather, and that threw off flights all day - every flight was running behind. Our flight was delayed for three and a half hours (and the gate was moved twice - that I know of). It was a bit frustrating because we were supposed to land in Columbia at 9:15, but as it turns out, we didn't leave Charlotte until 11:10 and we were close to midnight arriving in Columbia. My poor parents were so patient with us. They didn't complain the first time about the excessive delays, or for being put out to pick up us much later than expected. And they really enjoyed keeping Zack, Chloe and Ollie too. It sounds like they had a lot of fun.
Despite the delayed final flight, it was a great trip. Arizona is so nice! It has to be the cleanest place on earth - I don't believe we saw as much as a crumpled up napkin anywhere the entire time we were there. The people were friendly too. If you even look like you need anything there, any number of people are willing to help. All you have to do is ask and they'll do whatever it takes to help you.
And yes, I did do some work while I was there. The conference went well and it was good to see the other executives and board members from the other states there. That's a great group of people and I always enjoy being around them. We learn a lot from one another.
On a scale of 1-10, this trip is a 20. It was amazing! Best business trip ever, no doubt. If you're interested in seeing my pictures from the trip, I have them posted on Flickr. Feel free to check them out, and to share them with others.
So it was a great trip - but it's also good to be home. It's exciting to see new places and different people, but it also makes you appreciate the comforts of home. And who knows? We might make our way back there someday.
That's all today.