If you hate public health and the environment, have I got a place for you…

It is called The Phoenician.

Look, I have to admit, I had a bias against Phoenix before I ever landed and stepped foot onto its dirt. On the approach into Phoenix’s airport, the flight attendant came up and asked me if I was feeling okay, because I was a large pregnant lady with a pained look on my face. “Oh no, I am not in physical pain”, I said, “It is just my suppressed rage looking at the window and seeing all of those green farms in the middle of a desert.” You see, ever since I learned about the poor, sad fate of the Colorado River in high school, I have had a hatred for farming in the desert Southwest and the cities of the Southwest.  Also, my great grandparents were poor cotton farmers in depression era Mississippi. Ask me how I feel about those large public works dams that subsidized cotton farming in ridiculous places like Arizona while my forebears struggled to make enough selling their unsubsidized cotton to feed their children. Nope. The bitterness runs deep with this one.

So if those are my feelings about Arizona, one might ask, well, why did you choose to go there?  That is an entirely fair question. Look, I will point out that I am a little bit of a hypocrite. I wanted to go somewhere it was hot and sunny, and I could go swimming every day.  As I mentioned before, the doctor said no to our Dominican Republic trip. I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been before, and in the U.S., that is fairly limited. Phoenix is probably the only major metropolitan area that I have never visited, considering my inherent bias has kept me away this long. Also, David’s brother and his family live in downtown Phoenix, so we also were able to see them.

So there is the background, now let’s talk about the Phoenician, where we stayed.  First off, like I said, I wanted to swim, which makes me feel like a terrible person in the desert; a truly awful, wasteful human being. But the pools themselves were generally nice.

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Fortunately, being on East Coast time, we woke up early every day and made it to the pools before they turned into “bro-town” and examples of what I term “Las Vegas Pool Loitering Culture” which is a phenomenon when a bunch of millennial kids stand around in pools (sometimes floating with the aid of “pool noodles”) holding fruity alcoholic beverages and exchange approximately 20 different vocabulary words (most derivations of common swear words) in different sentences intermixed with heavy usage of the word “like.” I am a type-A old person who wanted to swim laps (which is the most comfortable type of exercise for me right now), and then have a nice quiet atmosphere to read poolside. Yes, “bro-town, Arizona” did not fit with those wishes. So by midday, we had to abandon the pool for other options.

But what other options are there in Phoenix? Well, we walked a lot in the resort’s cactus garden. I can get behind a cactus garden in Arizona, because at least it doesn’t require the irrigation that all of the other landscaping around the property did.

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There was this bird (maybe some kind of wren?) on one of the cactuses which made it all feel even more natural, so it helped me relax a little bit more.

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So for a moment I relaxed and allowed David to take a picture of me looking like a lady far more than 26 weeks pregnant…

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And we decided to take some pictures of us together.

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I will have to say, from a health standpoint, the swimming and walking were great for me. Since I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, all of the exercise really helped keep my blood sugar numbers in check throughout the trip, even though I was eating out all of the time.

The rest of the grounds of the Phoenician really annoyed me. First off, the excessive water sprinkling: they were watering the lawns during the HEAT OF THE AFTERNOON. They were watering the golf courses at the same terrible times. I couldn’t see it without feeling the rage rising to the surface again.

We were there on Saturday when they had thunderstorms. Now in North Carolina, we have thunderstorms like this weekly, sometimes daily during the summer months. In Phoenix, these were a huge deal. The drivers went into a panic. Traffic lights were out all over the city and people didn’t realize that you treat traffic lights without power as four-way stops. The roads flood, because there is terrible drainage, which also enraged me, because I would think, if water was a precious commodity (as it should be in the desert), you would invest in some pretty good drainage systems that could store the water instead of letting it sit in giant pools on roadways to evaporate.

On the afternoon it rained, we had no choice but to head to the big mall in Phoenix where we were “forced” to spend money on more baby clothes from Janie and Jack and Neiman Marcus, because #consumerism is what Phoenix does best.

Our room at the Phoenician was generally fine, although probably in need of some refurbishment, but that isn’t anything I really make too big of a deal about, particularly since we used Starwood points to stay there. My rage however was once again brought out when it came to the shower (WAY TOO MUCH WATER PRESSURE FOR THE DESERT), the lack of recycling options (at least make a show of caring about the environment), and the fact that the light systems in the bathroom were entirely inefficient. You should have a separate light switch for the water closet, and shower; all the lights do not need to come on with one switch. I guess that hydroelectric power from those dams I hate is just too easy.

My worst rage moment came when I realized that the room’s ventilation system was clearly archaic. We awoke at 2 am one morning with a slight hint of cigarette smoke in our room that originated in the bathroom, coming from the vent over the water closet. Shortly, our room was filled with cigarette smoke. It was disgusting. We called the front desk who transferred us to the night manager. I explained that I was pregnant and I couldn’t be in a room filled with cigarette smoke. The night manager told me, “Well, we can send a security guard around to check things out. If someone is out smoking on their patio or balcony, unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it.” I was livid at this wording, “No, this is private property. Your resort can set whatever rules you want to set about smoking, including not allowing smoking on patios or balconies in the interest of public health. You choose not to have that policy, which is your resort’s choice, but don’t tell me that you cannot do anything about it, you choose not to do anything about it. Also, this smoke started in the bathroom and is filling our room, so I don’t think its origins are coming from someone’s balcony.” The security guard came over and confirmed our room was a smoky mess and they finally relented and gave us another room (which actually had been refurbished more recently than the original room we had been given, so at least there was that). It was so much fun to change rooms at 5:30 in the morning, let me tell you…

I know what you are thinking, so much rage, wasn’t this supposed to be a relaxing time? Maybe Leslie, you are an angry person and you need professional help. After all, Phoenix is a lovely place for strip malls, golf vacations, and flip flops. Millions of people keep moving there for a reason so they can’t be wrong, it must be you.

Well, there are a couple of things that I didn’t hate entirely. On Sunday afternoon, I had a nice series of spa treatments – a massage, facial, and pedicure. The massage therapist told me that my children’s auras were “purple” which means they were both boys, but in her words “not entirely masculine.” Also, I learned they would be born with a head of hair as thick as mine, and that they would weigh a little less than seven pounds at their delivery. So according to my massage therapist, I don’t need to worry about preterm labor, so I can just disregard what my doctor told me today about one of the babies having too much amniotic fluid putting me at risk for preterm labor. The massage therapist said that things would be fine! Also, at all costs, I should not have a C-section, because that wouldn’t be right for the babies and their auras.

Also, there was the Café Rio. I don’t fit the stereotype of a BYU grad in so many ways, but in one way I do it is my love of the Provo Café Rio of the late 90s and early 2000s. I ate there four times – twice during our layovers in SLC and twice in Phoenix. The second time I saw this car out front, which was a little piece of my childhood home in a far away place:
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We ate at two other restaurants for dinner that bear some mention. One was called Elements at Sanctuary, which supposedly has great views at sunset, but we got there too late to see that. Instead, the food was pretty mediocre and my eggplant/lentil fritters were burnt and not very appetizing.

The other place we went to dinner that I actually really liked was called Café Monarch. It was situated in an older house in what can be called the “quaint” part of Scottsdale, and I liked both the ambiance and the food. Unfortunately, our reservation there was the evening after the thunderstorms so their charming patio was closed off, but through the window, it still looked lovely.
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I would have to say, that restaurant was probably the bright spot of the entire trip. David and I both liked it a lot.

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Goodbye excessive water features of the desert! I don’t know when we shall meet again.

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