First up Mesa Market Place Swap Meet. This place is HUGE! There are four incredibly long aisles inside of what could best be described as open sided implement sheds with vendors filling close to 1600 stalls - selling a seemingly endless array of merchandise! Given that it was only about 40F, it was surprising to see just how many shoppers were there - bundled in heavy coats, scarves and toques! Then again, snowbirds want to escape the winter but we are still a hardy bunch of savvy shoppers!
Despite the cold, we were there for about 2 1/2 hours and made it through the first two aisles! I found several items for gifts, souvenirs and items on my personal shopping list!
There were several jewellery vendors, but the knowledge, quality of stones and workmanship varied greatly. It really is a buyer beware situation, but also a lot of fun if you know what to look for! I thoroughly enjoyed talking with one vendor who was quite knowledgeable in the stones - I think she was also a bit surprised at my gem knowledge! I bought two pieces of "Sleeping Beauty Turquoise" set in sterling silver - a pendant and a ring (it was sized while I waited).
And yes, despite the cool temps, I even managed to do a few VERY cold but quick changes in a fitting room of a clothing vendor and bought 3 tops I really liked!
After thawing out with a soup and sandwich lunch at Streets Of New York, we hit several more stores in the afternoon! A very successful outing!
Monday, we also hit the stores - a must for me was to replace my pocket magnifier which I had somehow lost on the trip down. It took a few calls but we found a low vision centre a few miles away and I bought a couple spares! We also hit a couple malls and some box stores. Before heading home, we went grocery shopping at Costco and taste tested our way through the place!
Thursday morning, several of us gals headed to a nearby Rec Park for their weekly swap meet - a fraction the size of the weekend one, but still a lot of fun and some interesting things to see and buy!
I didn't quite spend my duty free limit but I had shopped like I might not get back! My luggage was well within the weight limits going down but JUST under the max on the way home!
Not all of my time was taken up with shopping and sightseeing. I enjoyed home-cooked meals of grilled pork chops, chicken caesar salad, grilled lamb chops (hadn't had lamb since I was a kid and didn't like it then but these were very good!) One night we had a Shrimp in Citrus & Garlic Sauce over Fettuccine that was TO DIE FOR!
Organ Stop Pizza was our supper destination on the Sunday night.
You order your custom pizza (thin crust), load up your plate at the salad bar, then find a seat in the long rows of tables and benches. The show starts, with the lights dimming, the sound of the music beginning and the organ rising up from under the stage. For our show, the opening was "Phantom Of The Opera". Now, to be honest here, I am not even remotely a fan of organ music so wasn't sure this would be a place I'd enjoy, but I LOVED it! The Wurlitzer Pipe Organ is HUGE and frankly, you have to see this place and hear the incredibly eclectic music that comes out! From classical to pop to musicals and more! The organist even played "Play That Funky Music"! My fave, was "Alley Cat" - a song I'll always remember my big sis playing on the piano when I was little! Everything seems to be animated and the atmosphere is abuzz with enthusiasm for everything! The pizza ain't bad either! I definitely want to go back!
A side note here, the show we saw, ended with the playing of both the Canadian and US anthems. We found it interesting that Canadians stood for ours and remained standing for the US, whereas everyone stood for the US. A bit sad and disrespectful to not stand for all anthems.
Another night, nine of us went out for Chinese food. The fam and some friends had been to a relatively new restaurant a couple weeks earlier and raved that it was the best they'd ever had! Well, in the short time since they had been there, the place had changed ownership, was under new management and had a new - very limited menu with only about seventy items! Despite all the changes, we decided to stay. The food was good but was only average. I've had better here in Winnipeg! Oh well, it was still a fun evening with fam and friends!
There was nightly happy hour before dinner. I'm not much of a drinker, but when I do imbibe, I generally stick with Vodka and 7 or more recently Bacardi Limon and 7. Not so this time around! I was introduced to a flavoured Vodka from Pinnacle called "Orange Whipped". For my tastes, it was a bit strong to have on the rocks - BUT add some 7 to it and it's like drinking a grown-up Orange Float! YUM!
After dinner dishes were done, we'd have another drink, nibble on bitter-sweet chocolate and play cards. We talked, shared stories and without exception, every single night we got to laughing so hard that we couldn't speak! Tears were flowing! We spent time talking as we did dishes together and went for walks. We truly enjoyed each other's company!
During my visit with the fam, I got to meet a number of their snowbird pals in AZ. Some are from Canada and some from the States. I've heard the names for years and it was a pleasure to finally meet and spend some time with them - over happy hour, dinner, shopping or just sitting around shooting the breeze!
Throughout my journey, I met several ex Winnipeggers, former Manitobans and numerous winter escapees. Regardless of the connections, it is always refreshing to make easy conversations with fellow travellers. The people who live and work in Arizona were friendly and welcoming!
The week went all to quickly and before I knew it, it was late Thursday aft and time to head to the airport. There were hugs and the tears flowed as we said goodbye. Saying Thank You seemed so inadequate for such a generous gift of the trip and the hospitality! There is no way I will ever be able to repay them for all they have done for me. It was a jam packed week of unforgettable experiences that I will always treasure.
I don't know if or when I'll be headed back to Mesa, but if I am lucky enough to be invited again, I've already started a list of things I'd like to see and do on that trip!