Archive for October, 2011

A very tired caterpillar and Charlie Brown



A very tired caterpillar and Charlie Brown, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Daddy and a tired caterpillar



Daddy and a tired caterpillar, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Ready to trick or treat.

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Ready to trick or treat.

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Tante Kari snuggles a baby



Tante Kari snuggles a baby, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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At the pumpkin patch



At the pumpkin patch, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Red Robin birthday



Red Robin birthday, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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My cute but fussy backpack.



My cute but fussy backpack., originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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IMAG0501.jpg



IMAG0501.jpg, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Three years ago today I had breakfast here and a baby 8 hours later! Happy birthday to my beautiful little big girl!

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Well Toto, I guess we’re not in Phoenix anymore.



Well Toto, I guess we’re not in Phoenix anymore., originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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“Are we there yet?”

We were treated to this little ditty on the way back from the store today. I had to video it, because it was either laugh or cry. Anyone who thinks the height of annoying children’s songs is “99 Bottles of Beer” or “The Song that Never Ends” wasn’t on this car trip.

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Road Food

We always seem to find some interesting places to eat while on vacation, and this trip has been no different.  It seems like every trip we add at least one more restaurant to our list of places to go, but never actually keep track (aside from thinking, the next year, about the “great [insert cuisine] restaurant we went to last year” but not remembering the place’s name).

Most of this is from memory, and I’m sure I’ll remember someplace we went later, so it may be edited (or may not, for that matter) to help us remember the great (or not so great) places we ate while on vacation.  Reflecting back on the past two weeks, we actually haven’t eaten out nearly as much as we typically would on vacation because we have a full kitchen at my parents’ condo.

El Pollo Loco- This isn’t in the fine dining cuisine category, but is a must-stop for Kristie whenever there’s one nearby.  Our first evening’s dinner was from El Pollo Loco, and provided tasty leftovers for lunch.  This isn’t KFC — real chicken (instead of mechanically separated chicken) is actually grilled in-store.  Good stuff.

Eden’s Grill Inn – One of Kristie’s friends actually tipped us off to this place.  We had originally been planning on going to get pizza at what is apparently the absolute best pizza place in Phoenix.  Unfortunately, it was on a Monday, and Monday was the only day they were closed.  A quick phone call later, and we had a recommendation to go to a really good Mediterranean restaurant relatively close by.  All I can say is Mmmmmm.  Kristie’s gotten the lamb kabobs the two times we’ve been there, and I have gotten the beef and chicken kabobs.  The seasonings they put on their meat are excellent, the grilled vegetables tasty, and the rice… pardon me while I drive over to get a to-go box of their rice.  Save room for the wedding cake for dessert.

McDonald’s - Not just any McDonalds, but the McDonalds of Quartzsite, AZ. We took a drive across the desert mid-vacation to visit family and friends in southern California.  The kids were ready to get out of the car when we reached the bustling metropolis of Quartzsite, which sites just a few miles on the Arizona side of the Colorado River.   This is one of those “Next Services 68 Miles” type of places — it’s really the first thing you hit, aside from a random truckstop or three, between the outskirts of Phoenix and the state line.  This was truly nothing special.  The one thing I remember about it was that the food was mediocre even for a McDonalds, and the ketchup had a strange taste to it.  They had ice, though, which was used to cool down Annie’s water bottle and prepare us for the drive across the Californian desert.

In-N-Out - No trip to California or Arizona would be complete without at least one stop at In-N-Out.  We’ve made two so far.  I do have to say that while I was not an In-N-Out fan at first (their fries always seemed to taste like they were cooked in oil well past its prime), my recent trips have been much better than first impressions.  If you’ve never been, make sure to study up on the In-N-Out secret menu.  Our first stop was a quick visit to the drive-through.  The second stop, though, was a needed respite before a LONG drive much later in the day than originally planned across the desert on a very hot day.  Let’s just say that before we pulled into the Thousand Palms In-N-Out, we had been serenaded by the most pathetic crying by the world’s-most-tired-and-out-of-sorts baby for what seemed like an eternity (probably an hour), and we needed a break.  Very tasty animal style burgers and fries, accompanied by a chocolate shake which Annie and I shared.

Pei Wei – This chain is actually owned by the same folks who own PF Chang’s, and is apparently used as a testbed for new dishes.  Needless to say, PF Chang’s should look at how successful Pei Wei is, and make modifications to the more expensive chain’s business practices.  When entering the restaurant, you’re greeted with giant electronic displays showing the day’s menu.  Ordering and the food are fast food style, though the food itself is very tasty, fresh, and does not taste like fast food.  I think we were in and out in around 30 minutes, and had a very tasty meal.

Waffle House – We’ve seen the Waffle House sign around town a couple times this trip, and both thought we needed to try the chain, which is well known for fast, cheap, and decent food.  The chain is so pervasive in the South that FEMA actually has a “Waffle House Index” which helps them identify how hard hit an area is.  I am not making this up. We stopped at the Waffle House just southeast of downtown Phoenix before our tour of Chase Field, and our visit to the Phoenix Children’s Museum.  Service was fast, the food was tasty, the wait staff was quick and competent, and we can now check another place off of our list to go.  I’d go back again – it’s nothing special, but seems to have more “real” food than IHOP or Denny’s. I’m amazed at how quickly they can turn out food… our order was done within around 5 minutes of the order being taken.

Carolina’s Mexican Food – Kristie gets the credit for finding this place, as is the case with many of the unique places we come across while traveling.  From the outside, it looks like a front for some type of illicit business.  Walking in the front door, it looks like a front for some type of illicit business.  Looking around inside, it looks like the type of place where all manner of shady dealings have taken place.  Eating the food, however, provides a great paradigm shift — this isn’t a shady place… it’s a place where all of their effort is put into making food instead of creating fake ambiance.  The flour tortillas were warm, so we got a half dozen on the side.  They were easily two feet in diameter.  The food was excellent, and tasted like everything (sauces, etc.) was cooked on site.  Get past the bars on the window… the food was great, and likely will continue to be great given the 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Yelp, with almost 200 ratings.  We walked in and ate at a little after 4, and the place wasn’t busy.  Things started picking up just after we got there.

Caramba - We haven’t actually eaten here yet, but Annie and I ate here last spring.  Kind of like Carolina’s only more upscale (i.e. they have their logo printed on the napkins instead of just using bulk Cash & Carry napkins).  From what I remember, it was very tasty food, was cheap, and the portions were decent.  Maybe lunch tomorrow?

The Good Egg – Another place we haven’t been to yet this trip.  This will probably end up being our last-day-in-Phoenix stop on Saturday, so we don’t have to do as many dishes before heading out of town.  The food is similar to what we get at Plum Delicious in Renton — tasty, solid breakfast food.  Not the Pancake Corral, but nothing can beat the Pancake Corral on breakfast.  The main problem is that there always seems to be a wait when we go (generally on a Saturday), and service is generally kind of slow.  Food, though, is tasty – this is the first restaurant I’ve come across that actually lets you add certain things into the pancakes (i.e. banana slices).

If there’s anyone actually reading this little tube in the series of tubes that make up the Interwebs, congratulations for making it to the end, and hopefully you will have some tasty places to eat when you’re in the greater Phoenix area.  If Kristie’s reading this, maybe we’ll actually remember where to go next year.

 

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I’m not sure what I like better in this picture–her eyes or her HAIR!



I’m not sure what I like better in this picture–her eyes or her HAIR!, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

Sent from my HTC on the Now Network from Sprint!

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Butterflies!

While in Phoenix, we try to make a stop at the Desert Botanical Garden, an absolutely amazing 65-acre slice of desert providing over 50,000 plant displays.  One exhibit which is always a treat is the butterfly house.  Normally when we come in spring, there are several species of butterflies co-existing in the habitat.  During the fall, the exhibit focuses on the Monarch butterfly, its migration patterns, and conservation efforts underway to protect the species.

With the butterflies come a ton of pictures, and this being Aria’s first trip to the Garden, I made sure to get a few more pictures.

Here’s (a very tired) Annie when she was almost 5 months old in the butterfly house:

 

And here’s (a slightly less tired) Aria at 4 months:

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Continuing the series.



Continuing the series., originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Visiting the Desert Botanical Garden

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“I know one thing: I love you! I love you, I love you, I love you!” Happy 4 months yesterday to my beautiful girl!

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“I know one thing: I love you! I love you, I love you, I love you!” Happy 4 months yesterday to my beautiful girl!

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Hip hip hooray for daddies who rock little pink sunglasses!



Hip hip hooray for daddies who rock little pink sunglasses!, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Yummy fists!



Yummy fists!, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Annie and Cousin Katie



Annie and Cousin Katie, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Ari and Great-Auntie Cathy have snuggles!



Ari and Great-Auntie Cathy have snuggles!, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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IMAG0320.jpg



IMAG0320.jpg, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Mijas



Mijas, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Nom nom nom!

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Playing with Daddy on one of our many stops across the desert.



Playing with Daddy on one of our many stops across the desert., originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Sleeping baby smiles



Sleeping baby smiles, originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Sleep-sucking.



Sleep-sucking., originally uploaded by walker_fam.

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Park #1

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