Our first visit out to Arizona was long and short at the same time. Long in that we drove, stopping at my parents on the way out and my sister's on the way back, meaning around 24 hours of driving. Short, because we didn't actually stay all that long. This visit was to just give us a taste (Ed couldn't take off too much work) - we'll be out for a longer stay in April.
We started on toll roads leaving Orange County and were soon in the desert approaching Palm Springs, and the windmills I remembered from childhood.
We tried without avail to stop in "Desert Center" - I thought it'd be like the water museum off of 5. Instead, it's a depressingly run down area full of decapitated palm trees and little else. We finally found a workable rest stop, and switched drivers in Blythe, CA, the last real CA town before we crossed the border.
In just a few more hours, we started see signs of civilization and soon started recognizing the names of towns from our research. In just a little while longer, we saw the tell tale skyline of a big city; We had reached our first destination, downtown Phoenix.
First impressions? It reminded me of Downtown San Jose (not that I've actually spent much time there). It seemed clean and pretty, and not incredibly desert-y.
We immediately headed to lunch in the downtown heritage square, to Pizza Bianco, a great pizza place Ed was taken during his interview.
Sitting outside as we waited for our table, I felt great! I was loving basking in the low 70 degree weather, taking in the beautiful green trees and pretty flowers (who knew these things were in the desert?). I felt like I could still be back home.
Inside, the restaurant was small, heavenly smelling and very inviting. A huge brick, wood-burning oven took up almost a quarter of the inside space, as delicious pizzas were placed in and taken out in rapid succession.
Ed insisted I get a beer to celebrate our Arizona adventure, so I got a local brew from the San Tan Brewing Company in Chandler.
We did a half and half pizza - half fennel sausage, carmelized onions and cheese, and half 3 cheese and arugula. Both were great, but the one with sausage was spectacular.
Once we ate our fill, we walked around the square on our way back to the car, taking in the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, places we will certainly be visiting after our move.
I'm not exactly sure what is housed in this building, but it certainly is gorgeous.
As we neared the car, we decided we should be taking note of all the landscaping and plants that we like. There are a surprisingly lovely amount of trees in this area!
Of course, after this high, there couldn't help but be a low. Driving from downtown to Tempe, the starkness of the landscape overwhelmed me. So much redness, so much barren rock. My mood just plummeted. The final straw was driving over what I thought was the Tempe town lake, completely dry. I just sank, wondering how on earth I was going to like living here.
Ed and I decided that we wouldn't visit the ASU campus yet, but we did want to find out if the lake truly was dry. We saw a sign that said "beach access" and parked. Sure enough, there was all the water promised to us, making this not such a dry desert after all.
This will be a great place to come to run and even kayak!
So, with moods going every which way, we escaped into our hotel to rest up before we continued our exploration of our new home.