Early Christmas 2018

Continuing with my ‘I need to use my PTO’ theme, we took a trip to see the kids for an early Christmas. We left the springs late Thursday afternoon to get a jump on traffic for a 6:30pm flight to PHX out of DEN. I have been saving flight miles, rental car credits and hotel night for no particular reason, so time to use two of the three (hotel and car).

The Palomar in downtown Phoenix is one of our favorites, so we booked two nights there on credits (probably my last year as Inner Circle for a while with my travel being down) as our initial base of operations. The second two nights are at the Westin Phoenix to get me a little closer to Platinum for the 11th year in a row (yes,too much travel in the past).

Blue Hound EntranceThe Blue Hound is the restaurant and bar inside the hotel the used to have Lorie’s favorite cocktail ‘The Lawless’. Alas, it is no longer on the menu although I heard the roll it out for special occasions. This time of the year a company from New York turns various bars into ‘Miracle’ bars for the holidays. Blue hound was one of those bars transformed while we were there. They did a nice job decorating with the Christmas themed lights, chairs, wall decorations and drinks. It was a very busy Thursday night and we were lucky to Decorative Chairsget a table for all 5 of us. There were no serving staff, so all the orders had to be placed at the bar. It too a while to get two rounds of drinks, but we were in no hurry as we had lots to catch up on.

My favorite drink was the ‘Yippe Kay Yay Mother F@#$%r’. We all had something a little different and did a pass and sip. We stayed for a few hours and then called it a night as we did not land till 8:30pm and got to the hotel/bar at 9:30pm. A nice first night.

We slept in Friday morning (8 am is sleeping in) and then walked down to the lobby for some coffee. The Kimpton always has a good morning coffee spread and for the holiday they have a hot chocolate bar. I chose to combine the two this morning to make a nice unpretentious Mocha. We checked out of the Kimpton for our move over to the Westin (needed a few more Marriott/SPG nights).

We spent the day driving around to some of the old places we used to go to including a drive by of our house. We also made a trip to my favorite resale shop Well Suited to see if I could find a few bargains. We struck out at the Lincoln Village Location but I was able to find a Rockmount and Pendleton and a Tommy Bahama at the Desert Village at Pinnacle Peak location. Worth the trip. Matt and Jenna met us for dinner Friday night with their significant other for a little vegetarian food and good company. More catching up which was nice.

Saturday we slept in again, had more coffee and picked up Jen and did some shopping for her and Lorie. The day went by pretty fast between shopping, lunch and more shopping. We met again for drinks a a cool little bar called The Whining Pig and had a nice sour beer..or two.

Sunday was a coffee repeat but this time I walked down to the Starbucks near the convention center where I used to stop when I was working with the Arizona Department of Administration. Its nice to experience things that are the same but in a different context. We went to visit my friend Robert but he as off painting at his moms house (shame on me for not calling ahead). We at least got to see his his wife and two lovely girls for a little while. Some more coffee at Coffee Rush and we were off to Matts for our Early Christmas Eve.

Lorie had not met Teddy before, Matts one eyed pug, so she was excited to finally meet him and see Megan and her dog Bailey as well

 Lorie and TeddyTeddy

Matt has a nice spread for the six of us and Jenna was nice enough to being some vegetarian sausages for me and regular brats for everyone else. They tasted just like real meat but were friendly to the digestive system. We settled in for the Bears/Packers game, and thoroughly enjoyed the Bears victory, Jenna’s boyfriend is a big Packers fan so he did not have such a good time. Boo Hoo. Matt had a bottle of the same Lost Spirits rum that we had, as he had been to the distillery before us and actually suggested that we stop their on our LA trip. I enjoyed the dark liquid in moderation as Navy Strength rum can sneak up on you pretty quick.

We had a great tine catching up and playing some Nintendo Switch party games (Lorie and I lost) and were all pretty tuckered out by 9:30. Matt had to work in the morning and I had a hike to do with one of my co workers, at 6AM so we called it for the night.

I did my morning hike the next day at 5:45 am up Piestewa Peak with Simon from work. You can read about that hike here. and was back to the hotel by 7:30. We took our time getting coffee and getting ready for check out, then proceeded back over to Jennas to pick her up for lunch and a final visit. Following lunch we headed over to Matts store to say hi to his manager and pick him up for an early dinner before we had to head to the airport. He let us know that he unfortunately did not get selected to help open and become an employee of the new London store. He still has an opportunity to do a career experience like he did in Sydney, which would be temporary and not require him to move to the UK. He was hoping to get the full gig, but the door is still open for a smaller commitment.

The flight back was uneventful, and our checked luggage full of booze  made it back just fine. We had stopped at Trader Joes for the Muscato Lories likes that we cannot get in Colorado Trader Joes as they do not sell liquor.

This was the second Christmas we spent not in the same town as the kids, but at least we were able to go see them for this one. Last year was the first one spent apart and it was a little weird with just the two of us and the dogs. All in all a very pleasant trip.