We left home early enough to eat at a fast food Mexican restaurant (Mexican Meal #1) on the way, to prepare ourselves for the delicious Mexican food that would soon be available to us.
We arrived in Arizona around 5:30pm--the flight had been delayed 30 minutes. By the time we picked up our rental bus (12 passenger van) and got to the hotel (Pointe at Squaw Peak) it was 7pm. I checked in while D. and the kids wandered the resort, partly to stretch their legs, partly so the staff wouldn't be aware that there were really 9 of us instead of the 6 I told them and partly so we could carry our own bags and avoid the massive tip we'd have to leave. We had 13 items of checked luggage and an additional 7 carryons.
We let the kids go for a swim, and then went to eat dinner. It was now near 9pm, and the waitress commented on how good our kids were. Since it was nearly midnight Eastern time, they were basically asleep in their chairs, too busy keeping themselves awake and upright to cause any mischief.
We hung around the hotel, which had a water park, until 3pm. Then we headed north to Sedona. Along the way we ate at little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint (Mexican meal #2) which was delicious! We just hung out and watched movies that evening. I was still pretty congested and pretty tired.
We spent the early part of the day at Red Rock Crossing along Oak Creek, a truly beautiful and sacred spot, which we had visited many times when we lived in Arizona.
We spent the afternoon around the pool. For dinner, we asked the concierge to recommend a good Mexican restaurant (Mexican meal #4). We were all standing there in front of her, dressed and ready to head out the door of the hotel. She looked at us and said, "Somewhere that can seat all of you?" D. very politely said, "That would be preferable." We should have taken that ridiculous question as an omen.
She called a restaurant and had them reserve us a table so we headed right over. We were seated on a patio with heaters. Most of the tables around us had families with only 1 or 2 children, and we soon became aware that we were being stared at. People were literally pointing and counting heads, nudging one another to point us out to their companions. After about half of a potent margarita, this started to seem somewhat amusing. D. had to restrain himself from standing up and holding up 7 fingers to the crowd, and yelling "Yes, they're all ours!" The restaurant had a glass window that looked out on the patio and the diners inside were checking us out as well. During dinner we managed to spill 2 drinks (the kids, not the margarita soaked adults) and have a (mercifully short) toddler moment. One woman brought her little girl over to "see the baby" which gave her an opportunity to check us out more closely and ask me a few questions. By the end of the meal, we were laughing hysterically. I was the last one out, and I hurried to buckle A. into her carseat, knowing that I would be cornered. Too late, some nearby diners seized the opportunity to ask if they were all mine, tell me they couldn't do it, and bless me for it.
Although we've attracted attention in the past, it was never like this. Bizarre to have an entire restaurant full of people watching you.
D. took the 3 eldest children to the Grand Canyon. They hiked 4.5 miles down and back up and had a great time. I stayed at the resort with the 4 younger kids. I., who had been behaving as a true princess, complaining about the food in restaurants and refusing to eat, whining that she didn't have flipflops, refusing to sit where we told her on the airplane, etc. was perfectly happy and very helptul that day. I don't know if it was just that laying around the pool, watching TV while K. napped, and laying around the pool some more was right up her alley, or whether it was the fact that she was now the oldest child. Anyway, I'd been worried that it might be a drag of a day for me, but while it was a little boring, it was a very easy day.
We layed around the pool all morning, then had lunch in Sedona and drove down to the Valley of the Sun (as the Phoenix area is known to locals). We met friends for dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants (Mexican meal #4). This just about caused an uprising, since the kids were tired of Mexican. Unfortunately, this restaurant featured the worst service I've ever had. We were there for an hour before we even got drinks. Since we'd been munching chips and hot salsa, we were VERY thristy. After about 45 minutes, D. went and inquired, and they said the drinks were coming right up, but it was still another 15 minutes before they materialized. The restaurant wasn't very busy, so I have no idea what the problem was. We spent that night at a Comfort Inn in Tempe, so as not to interfere with our friends' getting ready for school and work.
D. had to work this day, he was training with neurosurgeons at Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix. The kids and I went to breakfast at the Wildflower Cafe, my favorite bakery, and then the phone started ringing, girlfriends wanting to know when they could see me. Sharon, who had invited us to dinner that evening, was surprised to learn that we were in town since she had thought we would be there the following Friday. She had a very nice drinks and appetizers get together at her house that evening and other friends stopped by. We spent the next 3 nights with the H. familly, who has the most space.
The women hung around the house while the men took the older kids hiking up Camelback mountain. Friends came over and visited. My friend had arranged a babysitter for evening, so a dozen adults (and A.) went out to dinner. We had a lovely time, staying out late.
We ate breakfast at the Wildflower again, then headed out to the desert for a hike in the Superstition Mountains with some friends. We even found a geocache! It was a lovely day. Afterward, we went out for ice cream and then met more friends at the park where we all used to play when the kids were little. Our hosts made a lovely dinner for us that evening.
We flew home.
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