Friday, February 22, 2008

~ Exploration of the Southside ~

Last Saturday we decided to explore some more of Phoenix. Specifically, we opted to explore the parts that we were told not to. (And the camera was not in my purse, so no pictures) We have been looking for a good Mexican store, to buy some hispanic food. We haven't been able to find them so we asked around at a little mexican restaurant and were told which area of the city to check out. So, on Saturday afternoon, while it was still light outside, we decided to go hispanic market hunting. And (drumroll) we were very successful. I suppose. We found a large flea market, reminding both of us of our missions. Pirated CDs and DVDs, along with cowboy boots, skanky clothing and beautiful dresses for little girls parties were abundant. They also had appliances, furniture and cars (can you believe that??). It was a lot of fun to walk around this flea market. It was pretty big, but not as big as some in Brazil. Everyone there kept looking at us like we were a bit out of place. We were the only Caucasians there, so I guess that we were out of place. But we had a great time. (I should have been less of a food snob - they had some candy that looked Brazilian, but I didn't try any. Next time I will, who knows - maybe I will enjoy it)

Then we went to one of the grocery stores in the area and they had a pretty good hispanic selection. When we left there we had some key limes and a whole lot of soda. We picked up flavors that reminded us of our missions but are hard to find generally. We laughed at ourselves when we looked at what we had bought. What we have had so far we really have enjoyed though. Yummers!

After that, we drove down VanBuren Avenue. Apparently this street is where the hookers hang out at night. It was still too light outside for them to be out, but we did drive past a couple of rescue missions that were beginning to draw large crowds. Hence, we kept on driving.

Then we saw a large, domed building and thought that it might be the capital building. It was. The dome has an angel on the top, it was pretty interesting. Next to the capital there was a large green beltway area with a lot of memorials. And at the other end was a large museum for mining. Ryan was so excited because they had HUGE mining equipment outside. It was too late to get into the museum, but we will be going back (I will read the information and Ryan will likely run around looking at the "big boy toys"). We will get some fun pictures, but it will be awhile, there are so many things that we want to do. We did park and go walk around some of the memorials. They have a memorial for everything and it is very tastefully done. One of the memorials is actually the anchor from the U.S.S. Arizona. They even have a big stone display of tablets with the ten commandments on it. It has been fun to be in a state where religion isn't such a big political factor (for instance we were on a college campus this weekend and there were advertisements about praying, that would never have flown at USU. And there are all sorts of anti-smoking laws, because here it is a health issue, not a religion issue). However, it was getting dark and some vagrants began to wander onsite, paper bags and all. So... we opted to bee-line it to the car and continue on our way.

Continuing our drive, we drove around downtown and checked out the area. Did you know that Phoenix has like 3 downtown prisons? We didn't. They are on corners surrounding the federal courthouse. They are pretty big too. However, we also found a whole bunch of arenas, theatres and museums. So... overall... worth it. And a good story besides, right?

When we finally got hungry we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. The 45 minute wait that they projected actually turned into a 1.5 hour wait. But, the food was predictable and good. (Predictable is a great thing here, it seems that when we go out on a limb for new places to eat we lose, losE, loSE, lOSE, LOSE!!!) Then, fed and happy, we returned to our apartment.

What a day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Superbowl Saturday

The Superbowl (...sadness for the Patriots...) was held in Glendale Arizona this year at the University of Phoenix Stadium (which looks like it could take off at a moments notice), about 15 minutes from our apartment. The whole week before the game there were tons of activities going on, all over the valley. We couldn't afford to go to most of the activities, but the night before the game there was a free block party in Tempe, about 45 minutes away. We decided that we could afford to go to that. After a $5 parking fee, a short walk, a stop at the porta-potties and a 10 minute security line we found ourselves at one of the best free concerts I've ever been at. The band Boys Like Girls played and I must say that I was impressed. While they played we walked around and checked out some of the vendors and the Superbowl hot air balloon (I have seen more hot air balloons here than in a long time). We then were treated to a free concert by the Counting Crows, it was wonderful. At the end of the night there was a GREAT fireworks show. The fireworks were set off from the bridge leaving the park, it was so close that we could feel the rumble as the fireworks went into the sky, and we loved it.
I love how many neighborhood activities are hosted here, it seems that if we research a bit we can always find something to do. And it's warm... what more could we ask for...

Superbowl Saturday

Some Happy Thoughts

Family and Friends in February

Last weekend we had the opportunity to return to Utah for a few days. It gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit with some of our family and friends. It was a blast to have so much free time to visit and talk - it seemed kind of odd. It has been a long time since we have been able to visit without having to worry about homework, primary lessons and work. We had a great time visiting with family in Heber, Logan and Salt Lake. Thank you to everyone that cleared portions of their busy schedules to make time for us. We love you!

(P.S. - Don't we have some of the cutest nieces ever?)

Family and Friends in February