As our last few posts will attest to, we are having a serious winter up here in the Rockies of Montana. While we are definitely Winter People who live and die by the morning Ski Report, by the time March roles around we for sure begin to crave the feeling of the hot sun on our pasty white faces.
Palm tree lined entrance to the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale.
With that craving in our head, we decided to book an impromptu trip down to the deserts of Arizona for some pool time and Spring Training Chicago Cubs Baseball. With the help of StubHub and Google Travel, we had flight, hotel and Cubs tickets arranged quickly and soon the plane was touching down in the 90 degree heat of Phoenix. Ahhh.... so warm.
A friend recommended the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale as our home base. The resort did not disappoint! With beautifully manicured grounds, well appointed rooms and a huge pool, the Westin Kierland provided a 5 Star spa environment. And oh yeah... the poolside margaritas were amazing! As a bonus, if you are travelling with kids there are tons of activities within the resort for kids.... FloRide Surf pool, Lazy River, huge water slide, ping pong tables, basketball courts and also super fun hourly kid's events that are announced over the PA system (water balloon fight!)
However, we were there for one thing... Cubs baseball! I am a die hard Cubs fan (born and raised in Chicago...) so I was super stoked to see the new Sloan Park (opened in 2014) where the Cubs play their Spring Training games. As we approached the ballpark in our Uber the butterflies began to flutter as throngs of Cubs fans swarmed the surrounding neighborhood and parking lots. Not quite like game day in Wrigleyville but very exciting nonetheless!
After last season's thrilling World Series championship, Cubs fans from all around the country were pining for more baseball and Spring Training offers just that. The new Sloan Park was amazing (kinda like a little Wrigley Field...) and the energy from the Cub's fans was electric. Even though these games don't actually count, the crowd cheered and hollered like it was Game 7 of the World Series. Leave it to the Cub's organization to create such an amazing atmosphere.
While the games and the overall energy level of the ballpark were amazing, the best thing about my visit to Sloan Park was meeting my childhood hero Bill Buckner! Bill is now known mostly for his infamous error in the 1986 World Series but to me he will always be remembered as the only bright spot on some absolutely terrible Cubs teams in the 80s... he even won the NL Batting title in 1980. The guy was an absolute stick in his prime and was virtually impossible to strike out. I will never forget watching him rip base hits and race around the bases. I got his autograph and even got to chat with him a bit. Bill was a super classy and humble guy...
Dan and baseball legend Bill Buckner.
Food and Nightlife
Our resort was in north Scottsdale and most of the restaurants and bars were a 10 minute Uber ride to our south in what is referrred to as Old Town. Generally, Old Town was not for me (image obsessed ladies and muscle bound men soaked in Drakkar Noir...) However, we managed to find some great food and cocktails nonetheless. The stand out meal came from Steak 44 which had one the most eclectic and impressive steak menus I've ever seen. If you are cost conscience then stay far, far away as it was spendy as hell -but it was worth every penny. I did the New York Strip and Hassleback Potatoes with truffle butter. Absolutely devine! I actually dreamed about the meal that night while sleeping...
As impressive as the food was at Steak 44, just as impressive was the amazing quarter sawn walnut bar. I am an avid woodworker and admirerer of fine craftsmanship and I cannot quite recall ever seeing such a uniquely crafted bar top. With its rough, exposed edges and impressive length, the bar was very reminiscent of a George Nakashima coffee table and I felt extremely guilty setting my coastered cocktail down on it.
My other favorite restaurant experience was the Scallops at the Citizen Public House. Great flavor and they were willing to serve them medium rare... they were a succulent treat and oddly enough paired well with my margarita (doesn't everything pair well with margarita?)
Sadly, the trip was only three days long but totally worth it! We leave for Cabo in a few weeks so we'll get some more sun soon enough!
And oh yeah, this guy pulled up to us on our way to the game... you gotta love a place where penny loafers totally look normal when riding a moped... Enjoy!