Hybrid: \hī-brəd\ something that is formed by combining two or more things

For a long time, whenever I heard the word hybrid, images of Toyota Priuses formed in my mind.  Then, during the darkest days of the pandemic, the term inspired a more loathsome reaction from Educator Me as I stumbled my way through hybrid teaching.  Now, though, my feelings about the word have swung back into positive territory, due in large part to a very pleasant trip I took recently.

A milestone birthday was the impetus behind a week in the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Paradise Valley area of Arizona, a region that “cools down” to the mid-80s in October (which is right about the time we Minnesotans are starting to break our wooly sweaters out of storage, drink hot cider by the gallon, and grudgingly move the snow shovels from the back of the garage to their seasonal battle stations near each exterior door).

October in America: A Tale of Two Regions. Source: express.co.uk

My requirements for the trip were similar to those I employ when I search out spring break locales: warm weather, direct flight, nearby hiking (for the mornings), and poolside cocktails (for the rest of the day).

What made it hybrid was that I would be vacationing solo until the husband was able to join me five days into the nine-day trip.

Eight and a half hours after leaving home, I finally arrived at Mountain Shadows Resort. Opening the door to my “Immerse” room, I saw that it looked just like the picture on the website, except it was the mirror image of the photo I’d been gazing at longingly for months, bringing on a strong bout of what I like to call Target® Syndrome.*

*Target Syndrome: an intense sense of discomfort and disorientation when entering a Target store that is set up in the mirror image of the Target store you usually patronize. (Note: this unpleasant phenomenon can occur in any number of settings—not just Target.)
I feel dizzy. Don’t you feel dizzy?

The orientation switcheroo wasn’t what inspired me to request a room change, though.  My room overlooked the pool, which was rather full of noisy wedding-goers.  (The resort hosts several weddings every weekend, a downside I had failed to consider when booking the place. My focus had been on avoiding “family friendly” resorts and the screaming children that go with them.) The staff were very accommodating and the next morning I entered my new room on the quieter side of the resort, which had two bonuses.  First, the room was set up in a way that my brain could make sense of . . .

Ahhhh . . . that’s better.

. . . and it also had the view of Camelback Mountain I’d been seeking, viewable from both the balcony and the tub.

This west-facing room meant the balcony was a blinding sweat lodge for an hour or two each afternoon, but the sunsets and the view made it worthwhile.

I’d love to report all the exciting and varied things I did each and every day, but I fell into a routine pretty quickly.  Up before dawn each morning (as is my way), I often saw the bobbing headlamps of early-morning Camelback Mountain hikers who were keen to avoid the crowds, catch the sunrise, or both. By 6:30 I was down in the hot tub watching the light change on Mummy Mountain, the other large hill whose shadows (presumably) helped give the resort its name.

Camelback Mountain from the restaurant.

After a $12 bowl of oatmeal (!) or other charge-it-to-the-room-I-don’t-want-to-ruin-the-fun-by-looking-at-the-bill pre-excursion sustenance from the resort’s restaurant, I’d make my way to the base of a hike and spend the next couple of hours hiking up and down Phoenix-area mountains.

Chain link fencing – both ugly and useful.

Read more: Hiking In & Around Phoenix, Arizona

The afternoons were spent sipping drinks and reading by the pool. After dinner I’d hang in my room watching a movie or reading or taking a bath while admiring the way the evening light settled over Camelback (hey, I’m an introvert and a homebody) before getting sleepy and drifting off, only to repeat the whole stressless, blissful routine the next day.

One afternoon, though, I did take a break from my regularly scheduled programming. When I was researching things to do in Phoenix and came upon The Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale, I was instantly ready to hand over my $45 and pack on the pounds.  Further research, however, revealed that the tour was no longer in operation.  More digging (in the face of a potential chocolate tour, I’m nothing if not dogged) brought to light a post at chocolatour.net that detailed the stops on the now defunct tour.  Armed with this crucial intel, I decided to create my own tour.  I would not charge myself $45, but I would still be prepared to pack on the pounds.

The original Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale:

  • Zak’s Chocolate
  • See’s Candies
  • The Herb Box
  • Sugarfina, inside Nordstrom (no longer there)
  • Caketini (permanently closed)
  • Sprinkles
  • Classic Cakes & Bakery (temporarily ? closed)

My Bespoke Chocolate Tour, which—totally coincidentally—fell on National Chocolate Cupcake Day, netted these results:

Then suddenly, my solo trip became a duet when the husband’s flight touched down at Sky Harbor Airport.

Oh God . . . he’s dressed like a hipster Texan. I did not authorize this look.

“My” routine quickly became “our” routine, except that I was now compelled to follow my early morning hot tub soaks with lap swims.

I normally hate lap swimming, but under these conditions it was delightful.

I led him up two of the best hikes from earlier in the week, and one afternoon I managed to drag him poolside for some non-swimming relaxation.

Acrophobia and basophobia are incongruous in this setting.
A humbuggy attitude is incongruous in this setting.

Like the solo portion of the trip, there was one significant deviation from the daily norm—the Desert Botanical Gardens.  A worthwhile excursion.

So that was it, really.  It might not satisfy the extroverted, life-of-the-party, go-go-go types, but it was just the birthday trip I was seeking. And having it half solo/half duet? No offense honey, but I think I want to hybridize all my vacations from now on. 😉

I’ll leave you with two random bits that just didn’t fit anywhere else:

Have dinner at Lon at the Hermosa Inn and order the Churro Tree for dessert. It comes with spicy Mexican chocolate sauce and spicy Mexican caramel sauce. With your mouth tingling pleasantly, you will thank me.
In case you’re thinking of moving to Phoenix, just know there’s a market for this kind of thing down here. With my snake history, this is a deal-breaker.

30 thoughts

  1. This sounds like a great getaway! I love PHX this time of year. I chuckled at the hipster Texan comment. Sean is guilty of unauthorized dressing also. He has this shirt that looks like it’s from the 90’s…he LOVES it. Someday that thing will mysteriously disappear 😂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Is there anything more special than throwing open the curtains on the first morning of your holiday to reveal an incredible view? Looks like you had a fantastic trip and I very much love the idea of hybrid travel. Happy belated Birthday to you! 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was just in Arizona in October, although I didn’t get to hit the Phoenix area (went straight to Sedona). But your time spent at the resort looks like a wonderful time: those chocolates (especially that Earl Grey lavender) look divine…See’s Candies are actually from Los Angeles, so they’re an institution here (although I can understand why you find them mediocre; I admit, I think they’re just-okay, too…). I think a hybrid of nature/hiking and relaxing by the pool makes for a fulfilling, hybrid of a vacation, so I’m glad you had a great time in Phoenix!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh, I hope you’re planning to blog about Sedona. I was there for about half a day maybe 15 or 20 years ago while on a long road trip, but I had a spring break trip planned in 2020 that got ruined by COVID. I’m now scheduled to go there for spring break in a few months. It’ll actually be a pretty similar trip to the Phoenix one in terms of how I spend my time, but I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I intend to blog about Sedona (and my road trip, in general), but expect the posts to come out next fall, as I’m currently backlogged with other posts to be published! XD

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks perfect! I love the photos of the mountain at sunrise from the hot tub (I can’t believe you get up pre-dawn even on vacation, but it’s so worth it and I wish my body clock was like that!). The chocolate also looks amazing, as do the hikes. We don’t have anything like cupcake ATMs in the UK, but when we came to New York and got one we thought it was the best invention ever made….perhaps we should start them in England!!! What a great break and happy belated birthday 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes! During our long summers off I sometimes drift toward waking up closer to 6:00, but it’s gradual. I’ve been reading a lot about honesty boxes in your country lately (wasn’t there just one mentioned in your post?). Maybe an honesty box of fabulous cupcakes is just the thing, though they’d empty quickly, leaving the rest of us cupcakeless.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks and sounds like another one of your lovely vacations. I like the idea of Phoenix more than the reality of Phoenix. Should I/we ever return I’m going to stay where you went because it looks infinitely more agreeable than the Marriott where we stayed [work related].

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like a fun time! $12 oats does hurt the heart more than it helps it though, lol. And we’re the same during travels. I try my best to get the ‘quietest room in the premises’, whatever that means. It differs every place. Being next to a pool is a huge no-no, family-friendly or not. Always enjoy seeing you get up to your shenanigans, and your outings are always so adventurous. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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