Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Arizona's Sunset Beach

   The Valley of the Sun is blessed with not only an abundance of summer sunshine but with many world-class resorts that offer tremendous deals for family stay-cations.  This year is no different, but the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort may have bettered its summer completion with the opening of their new Sunset Beach.
    No longer do you have to make that 6-hour drive to San Diego to enjoy lounging on the beach.  Some 830 tons of crystal white sand surrounds the Princess’s newest and biggest pool creating an ocean paradise just 40 minutes from north Phoenix residents.  Glamorous cabanas and 102 luxurious new, surrounding guest rooms make Sunset Beach not only a marvelous stay-cation but also a dreamy play-cation. 
    Each weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day a “Summer Beach Party” celebration will occur. This celebration is a splashy mix of fun throughout the resort with cool rides down waterslides, Techno Glo pool parties, Dive In movies, the new 4-story Aqua Flyer inflatable waterslide, the new Mermaid University, Swashbuckler Academy and three summer fairies, Dew Drop, Sparkles and Poppy Pixie, who are delightful new Fairmont friends to meet. Plus, the resort has two relaxing pools just for grown-ups.
    At the lagoons, fishing is fun with Ranger Rick, who also leads nature walks and bird watching with the resort’s falconers. Other unique experiences, for adults, include sampling any of 240 tequilas a La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval, escaping to Well & Being Spa, savoring a dish at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak or enjoy the sunset and Pan-Latin fare at Toro at TPC Scottsdale.
    Fireworks explode into the sky each summer Saturday evening as well as the holiday weekends of the 4th of July Freedom Fest and the Labor Day Dreamcation offering even a greater line-up of festivities.
    So this year you don’t have to go to California to enjoy the beach.  All you have to do is get out and make a 45 minute drive to discover the best white sand beach in all of Arizona - Sunset Beach at the Fairmount Scottsdale Princess.  The Sip, Savor & Sand Package start from $179/night with a $50 daily credit. 

Other Stay-cation offerings…

 -Copperwynd Resort and Spa, Fountain Hills (480-333-1900) - complete $5 million renovations-many offering for staycationers who are into fitness - from $157/night

-Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North (480-515-5700) - Monthly Mashup dinner series and Kids for All Seasons programs as well as resort’s #FSSummer Story social media contest - from $179/night

-Camelback Inn, Paradise Valley (480-948-1700 - the historic Camelback Inn offers the “Escape Your Way” package that include pools, spas and golf - from $159/night

-The Boulders, Carefree (480-488-9009) - the “Truly Boulders Package” includes the new “Waterfall Rapple” adventure - from $109/night

-Hermosa Inn, Paradise Valley (602-955-8614) - historic old inn decorated with the Western art work of Lon Megargee and the famous Lon’s restaurant.  The “80th Anniversary Stay Package” is more ideal for adults who enjoy great dining and longing in a smaller resort environment - from $179/night 

All Pictures belong to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princes Resort


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Saguaros and Cardóns

      The Sonoran Desert is located in both the southwest region of the United States as well as the northern region of Sonora and central Baja, Mexico.  Within the Mexican region is found the cardón cactus, a close cousin to the saguaro cactus of our Arizona.  Cardóns are the largest cactus in the world and unless one spends time in Baja California, not a common sight.

     But in north Phoenix, along Cave Creek Road, a local plant nursery has several specimens of the world's largest cactus growing.  Over the past two months we have photographed these cardóns as they bloomed, develop seed pods and then open those seeds pods to the birds and animals of the area.  Here are a series of 12 photos comparing the flowers, seed pods and fruits of the giant cardón and saguaro cacti.

Saguaro in bloom

Cardón in bloom

Closer look at cardón blooms

A cluster of saguaro seed pods in the center with a single cardón seed pod to the right

Some more cardón seed pods

Saguaro seed pods open exposing the thousands of tiny, black seeds

Cardón seed pod open exposing the thousands of tiny, black seeds

Saguaro seed pods open

Cardón seed pods with two that have opened
A cluster of cardón seed pods
Cardón seed pods - two open; one not yet ready

Another cluster of saguaro seed pods ripe and ready to open