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).
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.)
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 . . .
. . . and it also had the view of Camelback Mountain I’d been seeking, viewable from both the balcony and the tub.
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.
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.
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)
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.
“My” routine quickly became “our” routine, except that I was now compelled to follow my early morning hot tub soaks with lap swims.
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.
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: