I’ve been talking about taking a solo vacation for a very long time and guess what? I finally did it!
The weekend definitely had a few awkward moments (trying to take a selfie at the top of a scenic overlook and eating alone at a hip and happenin’ restaurant top that list) and sometimes you wish you had someone with you to point something new out to, but overall I had a fantastic and relaxing weekend.
Scottsdale and Phoenix are a bit like like Dallas and Fort Worth in that I never know which one I’m in or supposed to be in. I flew into Phoenix and landed early enough to visit the Desert Botanical Garden before it was scorching hot. If you don’t consider 92 degrees at 8:20 am scorching hot.
These little chipmunk-prairie-dog guys were just the cutest.
I then made my way over to Scottsdale to check-in at the Westin Kierland Resort and claimed the adults only pool as my own for the rest of the day.
We all know that room service is one of my favorite things in life, so breakfast the next morning was delivered promptly at 6 am so I could stake my claim for another afternoon by the pool.
The whole reason for visiting Scottsdale was to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. The house has been at the top of my to-see list since reading Loving Frank and seeing Ken Burn’s documentary years ago. Growing up outside of Chicago I’m familiar with Wright’s Oak Park homes and influence on the city’s architecture, but Taliesin exceeded all of my expectations.
The land was purchased with Wright’s commission from Fallingwater. Each winter a group of architects, craftsmen, creatives, and Wright groupies would caravan out to the property to work on the structure. When summer came, they’d caravan back to the original Taliesin and spend the summer in Wisconsin.
I’ll spare you all the details in case you ever want to visit yourself (Wright was such an interesting and eccentric individual and I could talk about what I know and learned all day) but it’s amazing to think that Taliesin West was built by hand by unskilled laborers and that it was meant as a temporary structure. To this day, the Taliesin Fellows program is in operation and some of the original fellows who worked with Wright still live and teach at Taliesin West. If it weren’t for the living in tents bit, I might consider applying. My mom always said I should have been an architect.
There’s a large portion of Taliesin where photography is not permitted, including the Wright’s living quarters and much of where the fellows live and work (I heard someone mention there’s a pool with a diving board around back), which is understandable but still a bit disappointing. I did get to sit in one of Wright’s original origami chairs in the living room, and if a mini replica is $1,140, I don’t want to know what an original costs (and bless the volunteer’s hearts with that spelling of origami).
Since the original Taliesin burned to the ground (twice), Wright had a well dug (800+ feet — but he did hit water!) and filled fountains and pools strategically around the grounds. The property continues to pull from the original well and isn’t tied to the city’s water supply.
The dining room where the fellows eat together every day at 12:30 and 6:30. The Wright’s believed that living in such close quarters inevitably created conflict between fellows, but having to be social twice a day could curb the attitudes.
There’s an extensive collection of Asian art throughout the home, including 12 scenes placed around the property that were meant as mental triggers to inform the visitor that they’re leaving one space and entering another. This was is from the path on the brow of the property overlooking Scottsdale into the social quarters.
The last day, I did some roaming around town, hiked some baby trails, and saw giant cacti I thought only existed in Westerns.
I had dinner at Pizzeria Bianco on the recommendation of several friends. Chris Bianco won a James Beard award in 2003 and the NYT said their pizzas might possibly be the best in the US. I don’t know if it’s the best, but the Biancoverde (fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta, and arugula) was delish.
I also couldn’t resist a stop at Talking Stick Casino where I put in $20 and promptly won and lost $250. The Eames inspired elevator foyer is a bit of a slap in the face to Wright, right?
All of this is to say Arizona is lovely and that I highly recommend solo travel. I’m already thinking about where to go next!