Such A Great Birthday Surprise…. Phoenix, Arizona!

My Rooster turned 48 on March 31st, and this year instead of a thoughtful, needed gift that he would have returned for the next higher model, I decided to play a game.


Three weeks before his birthday I introduced it.  It was the first birthday-ish party he had.  I gave him a card and a balsa wood airplane.  The card explained that it was the best gift ever, but that he would have to guess.  Answers to questions would be yes or no.

He guessed.  “You bought me an airplane!”.


The second hint came when we went to see Sinbad at the Casino a week later.  A Connor McGregor bobble head.

“We’re going to Ireland to meet Conor McGregor!”……. Bzzzzzzzzzzzz.  No.

The third hint came just before we left for Easter weekend.  A bottle of spf 70 sunblock and a pair of sunglasses.

“We’re going to UFC in Vegas!”   Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.   No.

Then the final clue, on his birthday morning, the whole family was involved.

It was a canvas print of the Grand Canyon, but totally ambiguous….  It could have been Utah or Wyoming.     BZZZZZZZZ NO!

Inside of four taped up and superbly wrapped boxes, my Rooster finally found plane tickets, a car reservation and hotel paperwork for Phoenix.

Yes folks, this is a story about Arizona.

I was pretty worried about attending the last two days of bike week, without a bike, but my Rooster solved that by upgrading my car rental reservation to a 2018 Dodge Challenger with a Superbee, Hemi and 6.4 liter engine.

Can anyone say Racecar?  He was a little sad about no bike, but was satiated by being able to get up to 100 mph on the onramps.  He literally had to slow down to merge onto the freeways.

All of the links you find in this post will open in a new window.  Click away, but stay here too! Hooray!

Our first sojourn into the City brought us to the Hard Rock Cafe.  I will always be eternally grateful to Javi, our bartender for recommending several places to go.  It was right across the street from the Chase Field, the stadium that the Arizona Diamondbacks play at, complete with Randy Johnson Way, which of course brought back memories of when Randy Johnson knocked me down at the Phoenix Airport years ago, but that’s a story for another time.  It was awesome to see him being respected.

From there we went to Firehouse 22, a literal fire department, to procure a Fire T-Shirt of course.  My Rooster collects them, but equally nice was meeting the firefighters.  Good men, all of them.

We went to West World for the bike rally in Scottsdale our first night.  It was confusing since there were far fewer vendors than the last time we were there two years ago.  But, we did learn some things.  Apparently, the owner of Scottsdale HD, the largest Harley Davidson dealership in the world, blocked out the other 3 dealerships in the area.  He refused to let them exhibit at the show.  (ASS)

We went in the racecar of course and parked way far out.  The thing about the West World show is that it’s at a fairgrounds, and no one knows you brought the race car instead of the bike, it’s just a lot of walking.

We saw Shinedown (who have now all cut their hair), for a minute, then there was a power outage onstage.  They continued playing after an hour of frantic running around by stage staff, but the magic had left the building (outside stage), you know what I mean.

We were in our hotel before midnight, UFC fights were the next day at noon, and we couldn’t wreck that up.  The tickets cost too much, and it was the main event for this trip.

I totally recommend the hotel we stayed in for the majority of our trip.  The Best Western Inn and Suites in Phoenix was affordable and clean, it was a run of the mill room, but considering all we really did there was sleep, it was more than we needed.  They offer a daily breakfast buffet, and nice social hour with free beer, wine and snacks from 5-7 pm, every day.

The location is fairly central and the prices are good.  The pool and hot tub seemed nice but we never had the chance to partake.

On Saturday we headed out bright an early to find the Gila Arena in Glendale, home of our Adventure of the day.  It took some doing, as our fancy racecar had no built in GPS and our phones just did not want to cooperate.    We circled the Arena and figured that it was still too early so we headed off to the nearest Harley Davidson dealership (of course we did).

Arrowhead Harley Davidson is in Peoria, AZ.  It’s a good sized dealership with an extraordinary amount of motorclothes.  They were hosting their own Bike Week Rally at the Peoria Sports Complex across the mall.  BikeFest was so much better than West World.  We finally figured out where all the vendors went.  Katie at the dealership was the one to explain about Scottsdale Harley giving the other area dealers the boot.  BikeFest was Arrowhead Harley Davidson’s answer to the problem.  Buddy Stubb’s Harley does a similar rally in Cave Creek.

It almost makes it better though, travelling around to different sites.  It reminds of what has happened with Sun and Surf over the years, with the Quinalt Casino putting on their own rally of sorts.  But I’m getting off topic.

The UFC fights were incredible!  Our seats were good, we were close enough to see all of the fighters enter the arena and see their entourages.  We could see just over the edge of the cage.

The fighter in the main event that we rooted for was a hometown boy, Justin Gaethje had been in state wrestling matches in that same arena throughout high school.  The entire crowd was rooting for him and chanting his name.  I cannot even imagine the pride that his family felt for him.  What?  You didn’t catch the fight.  Click here to watch it for yourself.  It wasn’t very long.

Next on the Agenda was the Out of Africa wildlife park, it was less of a zoo than a refuge for safari like animals.  I got to feed a giraffe!  They are so big!  The one in the photo below was 18 feet tall, and apparently a bad animal, he was in the punishment field with an also misbehaving zebra.  Both were on their best behavior when we saw them though.

FYI, apparently giraffes are prone to fighting and zebras bite.  So there’s something new that you know.

Out of Africa also has bears, many  lions, several kinds of tigers, monkeys, ring tailed lemurs, birds, lizards, african antelope, water buffalo, ostriches and an incredible staff.  The animals are treated very well there and are encouraged to live as close to a natural life as possible.  I absolutely encourage you to visit.

Even as versatile as we are, it might have been a little too educational and natural, so we also rode the Predator Zipline.  We zoomed over the animals and back down to the visitor’s center.  At $25 it was a bargain thrill.  Also highly recommended!

Out of Africa was a fabulous stop just about halfway to our next destination.

THE GRAND CANYON!  We visited the South Rim briefly on Sunday and decided to stay the night outside the park for a more lengthy visit Monday.  The best part of our Sunday visit were the magnificent vistas at sunset, just a short walk from the visitors center.

A few notes on visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  There are several hotels in Tusayan, Arizona which is about a mile outside the park.  Rates were reasonable, not that much different from anywhere else, be aware though, that we visited in the off season, so they are likely to be higher in the summertime. There are also hotels inside the park, but these are always booked up (according to the ranger we spoke with).  They also have cabins, camping and RV parks inside Grand Canyon national park (south rim), but these book up just as fast.  Get your reservations in early!

The South Rim is fairly touristy, but rather than cheap souvenirs you will find authentic Indian (Hopi and Navajo) art, and not much else in terms of shopping.  Even the National Park visitors center had limited clothing, glasswear and other unnecessary labeled merchandise.

It is also a mecca for hikers and mountain bikers.  The visitors there were respectful and in shape.

Never fear there are parking lots at every vista and limited walks to view over the edge.  It was very windy and a little chilly up there, so be sure to bring a sweatshirt!

After having our fill of the magnificent views and stopping at every site there was something to see (look out towers, ruins and geological museums), we began the long trip back to Phoenix.  It’s easily a four hour drive, even in a racecar 😉

If you plan to visit from Phoenix, plan to stay the night.

We got back to Phoenix in time to join some friends for a nightcap and return to our last night in the Best Western.

The last partial day of our trip we spent packing, visiting, doing a little last minute shopping and finally….. after many days of trying, we caught up with our friend Breeze, who is a Sunbird.  She’ll be joining us back up here in Washington for the summer.

It turns out that the birthday trip plan was a huge success.  It cost a little more than whatever gift I might have found would have cost, but it also resulted in great memories and one of the best trips we’ve ever been on (again).

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Today’s moral is threefold………

Don’t be afraid to be creative and step outside of your usual box!

Life is what you make of it!

Get out there and see the world as much as you can, you will never regret it!


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