In the middle of February we took our annual school winter break trip to Arizona and California to visit the grandparents.
We had a little more than four days in Tucson with Carol's parents. We have some activities we always try to do, including visiting the go-kart track. Every couple of years we also visit Kartchner Caverns, which are fascinating and have an inspiring story.
Temperatures were in the 70s, which is just a little cool for swimming. But that never stops the girls. They made several trips per day to the pool.
We were joined at Kartchner Caverns by two of my longest-term friends: Barry and Rabih. I met Barry in my first professional job at Boeing in 1983 and I met Rabih a year later. 32 years we've known each other! It's one of those great friendships where we can go a few years without seeing each other and still pick up right where we left off. Something to be treasured.
Barry recently retired from Boeing after something like 35 years and they moved to Las Cruces, NM. That's only a four hour drive from Tucson, so we made plans last summer to meet during this trip. After the caverns we had a great lunch in nearby Benson, AZ. Then we made our way back to Tucson and just a few hours later had a great dinner at our favorite Tucson restaurant: Cafe Poca Cosa. It was wonderful to see them, and Grandpa Dennis and Grandma Mary and Barry and Rabih all enjoyed each other's company.
On Wednesday we departed Tucson after breakfast to drive to Palm Desert. We often drive on Interstate 10, which directly connects the two cities, but this time we opted for different scenery and took Interstate 8. It's much more remote. Then at Desert Center we turned north to pass by the Salton Sea before arriving in Palm Desert.
Both of my sisters were in Palm Desert when we arrived. We only overlapped with Tricia for one day but it was great to see her and congratulate her on her new job. Aunt Betsy is always at my parents' the same time as us during this trip. Aunt Betsy and Grandma Kay and Grandpa Doug told Carol and me to get lost for a couple days so we went to lots of movies and enjoyed time alone together. Grandma Kay and Aunt Betsy took the girls shopping.
We also celebrated both girls' birthdays again on different evenings. Grandma Kay made them each a cake and each girl got to choose her favorite grandma dinner menu. We also made our annual pilgramage to The Old Spaghetti Factory - a Seattle tradition that now has a restaurant near Palm Desert.
Last year we went horseback riding and really enjoyed it so this year we did it again. We only go for an hour ride but it's scenic and fun.
On Monday it was time to drive back to Phoenix where our flight back to Boston departed first thing Tuesday morning. We had decided to splurge on a nice hotel for our last night and stayed at the Hyatt Regency. Dennis and Mary decided to join us to celebrate their anniversary.
When we checked in we were given a room with a very unattractive view of the roof of part of the hotel. I went back to registration and asked very politely for a different room and the manager moved us to a very deluxe, remodeled top floor room with a very fancy bathroom with a humongous shower. The girls loved that. A good lesson in asking (politely) for what you want.
We all had a lovely dinner in the rotating restaurant on top of the hotel, the Compass Arizona Grill. It was a very pleasant end to the trip.