Cactus, cowboys, and more

Last week I made my annual trip to Arizona to visit my pal Ryan, and we had a great time filling the days with tons of attractions! We started with the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) which just opened this year, and I was really impressed with the displays gathered from all over the world, and especially their cool headphones system that lets you experience the sounds of all the instruments by automatically fading in based on where you stand. Next we had dinner at the famous Pizzeria Bianco, which is so well-known that people line up for hours before the place even opens! The food was delicious, and as soon as we finished we had to get to the baseball stadium for a Diamondbacks game (playing the San Francisco Giants), and it was cool to enjoy the action from some awesome club level seats!

The next day we drove to Tucson to visit some places Ryan enjoyed in his childhood, starting with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I really enjoyed the combination of zoo and science exhibits, including a great trail through the desert itself that makes you feel totally lost apart from civilization! Next we went to Old Tucson Studios, which has been around for 70 years as sets in tons of Western movies, and it was great to wander around the dusty streets like cowboys. We rode the train, drank sarsaparilla in the saloon, and even saw a gunfight! Finally we ate steaks at El Corral, which was a nice end to a Western-themed day.

In the morning we went to a check out the Westgate shopping area, which was cool since they have an action figure store where I bought some Disney toys from Japan! After shopping and ice cream we took a tour of Cardinals Stadium, which was amazing from an architectural standpoint even though I'm not really a football fan. Then we drove to the Tempe Center for the Arts to check out Chuck Amuck, an exhibit of the works of Chuck Jones (incredibly famous Warner Bros. animator), and after dinner and drinks we still stayed up and watched some of The Empire Strikes Back for the 30th anniversary (eating fresh-baked cookies at 2:00 AM)!

On the last day we saw a movie, did some shopping, ate at In N Out (which was delicious even though it wasn't Los Angeles), and played some games at Dave & Busters, which was nostalgic except for the fact that Ryan beat me at everything! That night we had a triple birthday party for Ryan, Jennifer's grandpa, and their dog Taylor, so Jennifer made an amazing salmon dinner for the occasion. The whole trip was a blast, and I can't believe how many things we crammed into our limited time. It's great to have such good friends to visit, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year!

View photos: Arizona 2010: MIM
View photos: Arizona 2010: Tucson
View photos: Arizona 2010: Cardinals Stadium