Sunday, April 7, 2013

Checking in from Phoenix, Dinner in LA

I'm sitting out the Cleveland Orchestra concerts of this weekend -- partially because I'm not a fan of Mitsuko Uchida, but more importantly, because I just got back from a week on the road.

Sunday evening saw me flying to Phoenix via Houston -- where due to weather everything went a little crooked (the net result was both my inbound flight and my connection were delayed; for a little while there was talk of possibly diverting to Amarillo due to low fuel).   Being Easter, I checked in to the hotel three hours later than expected and sans the In-N-Out that I had been craving.

Monday morning I awoke to this glorious sunrise view from my hotel bed. (The tranquil feeling was soon dismissed by the sounds of lawnmowers on the golf course, immediately followed by the golf starter on a booming public address system, but c'est la vie... I would have had to have actually gained consciousness sooner than later anyway)

Room 5011 - Embassy Suites Phoenix/Scottsdale
Although my first time in Phoenix and my first visit to this particular campus, I was actually visiting one of my favorite clients. (For better or worse, I think I'm now one of the few people who has actually visited all three of their primary sites -- Rochester, Minnesota; Jacksonville, Florida; Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona). The sign at the entrance to campus leaves no doubt that I was in the right place:

Guess who? Guess where?
Note the cactus in the background. They were everywhere.
Easing things a bit, my primary contact at this campus is actually a recent transferee from Rochester with whom I had worked on some projects up there. The days were full, but not particularly stressful and the whether was spectacular for the week I was in town -- only starting to get really warm towards the end of the week.

Unfortunately long days and a 3-hour time difference didn't leave much room during the week for sight-seeing, but as the project wound down, I had a little bit of time to sneak in a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West campus.

Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and still serves as the winter home of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the headquarters of the FLW Foundation. The tour, at $32 is a little steep, but a requirement to see the site.

Don, our guide, was particularly relaxed but covered a ton of information about the history of the property (starting with the fact that it was purchased for $12.50 an acre) and the architecture of the site, making this one more enjoyable than many of the "school tour/hit you over the head" guides I've had in the past. As a result the 90-minute tour flew by.

While I took many pictures on the tour, none of them really adequately encompass the entire setting (you really need to be there). Though I thought these two, taken from essentially the same location, provide an interesting contrast:

Some of the never-ending maintenance required on the studio building
Raw Desert!

At the conclusion of the tour, Don asked how many people had been to Falling Water. Of the 30 or so in the room, I was the only one who raised his hand [Rachel and I visited just over a year ago]. Don impressed the importance of visiting that site, and mentioned that it was with the much-needed money from that commission that Frank Lloyd Wright purchased a few hundred acres of land in the desert... for $12.50 an acre. Talk about bringing it full-circle.

Leaving Taliesin West I checked into my second hotel for this trip -- my theory was that it would be closer to the airport. In reality, I'm not sure that that was true or that it mattered. On the road leading to the hotel, though I found a warning sign that I can't say I've seen before, and I actually walked about a half mile back to take a picture of it...
Alas, no horses -- wild or otherwise -- were seen on this trip, but with the view, it was easy to imagine encountering wildlife

The next day it was time to head home. When I booked the trip, one of my options was a long connection in Los Angeles. Given that my dad lives about half an hour from LAX I called and asked if he was going to be in town and wanted to meet for dinner. Score.

Having only had In-N-Out five times over the course of five days it was still an option, but also having also been curious about the restaurant in the Theme Building on site at LAX, and with Mary being not a huge In-N-Out fan, that route was chosen instead.

While the food and service were somewhat less than thrilling, Encounter -- the aforementioned restaurant -- offers an amazing view of the activity at LAX, particularly, as it seems, at sunset.

Dinner and margarita finished, my dad and Mary walked me back to Terminal 6 where I passed through security for the second time that day, and boarded my red-eye flight back to Cleveland.


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