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sir samuel graduated, i was born and we were married : it was time for a celebratory first vacation since our honeymoon !!

we stayed at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale. in a word : sublime.

so i like love the ayy zee. cowboy kitsch, spaghetti western, modern art, Native American jewelry and the desert – oh, the desert.

that place calls to me. when we rolled across the border into AZ leaving ugh LV behind us (no offense) the red desert opened before us like a massive wave, a page of The Book of Earth and unfolded it’s boldness. i was enthralled. i swear when the livster entered into AZ again this time, i’m about 110% sure an eagle and/or hawk swiftly flew high above my head, blotted out the sun for a moment and loudly cawed. meanwhile, some lifelong desert dweller beautiful child holding flowers (wait, it’s the desert, where did she get flowers??) heard the call, lifted her head and knew the land had shifted….

so yeah. i had a pretty awesome entrance.

we loved this trip. after years of year round school (even courses during Christmas break), both of us working multiple jobs and eveRAYthang else, us two avid, adventurous, bold travelers decided our goals on this trip were to:

– sit on our little bums and have people bring us fancy juices
– eat



mission. friggin. accomplished.

we loved it. we got to have all our favorite asian and other cuisines we can’t get here at home on the range, and we loved the super long drive down because we were in a car we weren’t worried would spontaneously implode.


we stayed in super cool hotels all along the way (apparently it was the off week for travel. expedia hooked us UP.)

i think both of our favorite part was the drive. the “most of the time” boring drive was never boring to us. not to be all schmoopy here, but we are like, umm, kind of super in love. we laughed sooo hard the whole 10 days and never once ran out of stuff to talk about in the car. that playlist turned out to be not so necessary. :)

scottsdale was just lovely. not even kidding, i think someone from above was looking out for us because for young people on a budget we crazy scored with the deals on this trip. that never happens to us.

i would highly recommend the Phonecian resort in Scottsdale. They upgraded us to a deluxe suite just because we had to wait a long time in line (thanks foreign tour group crowders) and when we replied that we were there celebrating our honeymoon they gave us a free package with free wi-fi (normally $35 a night) and lots of other goodies. every employee in every department in the hotel is so sincere and friendly and the TLC is amazing. we felt like, kind of a big deal. we tricked them good!

the best part though was the concierge. we don’t usually use concierges and we had restaurants mapped out in advance. but we got in later the first night and needed a quick recommendation. after we pulled up to the insanely crowded restaurant with people spilling out the sides, and we were whisked through by smiling happy faces to the best table in the house – we knew it was all uphill from there.

we booked with the concierge everytime and we got the best tables, royal treatment and TONS of free food! we were presented with at least a free dessert every place we went.

i kind of felt like michael scott from The Office with the concierge on his “international” business trip. our favorite concierge’s name was beverly so we called her concierge marie behind her back.

please enjoy the photos! they are all iPhone photos and a lot are taken while driving because:

Hi, my name is Livi and I incinerate in the sun even for a moment like the guys who touched the arc of the covenant in Indiana Jones. “Hi, Livi.”

Mazel Tov!





saw my good friend katie for the first time since college and we met each others husbands for the first time! growing up, weird! i so totally knew sam would think katie was awesome and he so totally did. we all were laughing it up.

one thing katie and sir sam both have in common: everyone loves and comments on their laughs and wants to sit next to them in funny movies. sam is a cool, mellow person but he has the most enjoyable laugh!


we visited sam’s ancestor’s original home which is now a public museum! sam’s antecedents are like crazy rad. english upper class gent who left to become a sailor, a whaler in the arctic, traveled the world, corresponded personally with Queen Victoria from his home in utah – yeah.

that was such a rewarding, treasured experience.


from the sidewalk of the home


i know I’m in the awkward moment of the kiss in this shot but that’s because sneaky sir samuel distracted me with his handsomely, romantical ways and took the shot! i was shocked, he hates photos! (bless his heart he is married to me.) #lordgivehimstrength

haha i had to include because, besides our wedding, we have zero kissing shots. we are just super private and not PDA. the officiator at our wedding ceremony even made us kiss better. we just made a small peck and he’s like, “um, try again. i think you can do better than that.”


I’m A Mormon! check me out on the sidebar

Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ (Latter-day Saint, LDS or Mormon)
Aren’t temples just beautiful?


temple doors






forgive the windshield. bugs were super suicidal on our truck the whole trip no matter if sam washed the windshield each time we stopped.


our INSANE room at the Wynn in LV. it was the best room (and not even the most expensive i’m lookin’ at you SLC…) we had a doorbell and everything. my favorite feature was the view, and the remotes that allowed you to control everything in the room from the bed – even the blinds!


this is a just awful photo, but this bridge INSPIRED me. memories of studying architecture and bridges from school came flooding back. what an amazing feat. it is SO much huger and more impressive than this pathetic shot shows.


likewise with hoover dam. looking at that thing built in the 20’s, 30’s makes you feel that you can do anything. like, anything. wow.



classy / completely terrifying quick bathroom stop at the last chance casino on the border. it was either that or the cacti. and hey, i’m not risking that with rabid animals and abandoned children roaming about.






view from breakfast each morning







grimaldi’s! a year and a half in New York and i never went. it’s kind of the thing you wait to go to until you take visitors because its so busy. i left NY very suddenly – so bummer, it went on my list of things i missed!

if this scottsdale location is any indication, the ‘maldis is insanely good. i usually do 4 pieces tops if I’m pushin’ it (Neapolitan/thin crust style). we inhaled this pizza. and not to brag, but sam is kind of the world’s leading connoisseur of pizza.


complimentary tower of mini desserts at brunch on my birthday!




Herb Box. Go.





can’t wait ’til ours opens! sam is now a believer.







Mesa, AZ Mormon Temple



oceans of cacti everywhere i looked. happy feelings inside




old Provo, Utah Mormon Tabernacle now under construction to become a Temple! This was fun to see as I had recently wrote an article on the progress.


sir sam served a church mission in Manchester, England. we visited a German friend from his mission he served with but had not seen since sam came home. thy described their house as being “a German fairy tale cottage.” bingo. so much cuter than the bad photo. don’t you love the glare??


the Grand American in Salt Lake on our way back. or as sam lovingly dubbed it, “The Grande Gringo”. We had an above stellar stay there.


best photo from this post / the trip. credit sirsamuelwhitaker.


and that screechy family from the previous rest stop really assaulted my idaho photo – op, but we were just glad to be home.

that is the mark of a good trip : you wouldn’t have wanted to come home any earlier, but you’re perfectly fulfilled and can go home happily.

i guess those siestas worked!

in case anyone is interested, let’s just be honest here, this trip turned to be about the food, so here is the list of restaurants we had excellent experiences at in Scottsdale and Phoenix

Blanco – Modern Mexican

Grimaldi’s – Italian

Herb Box – Modern American, Whole foods / mostly organic / vegan options

Roka Akor – High caliber Japanese sushi/seafood/beef/creative, filling dishes
tip: miso soup is terrible. it was the inky thing that wasn’t phenomenal

Soi4 – Thai

The Dhaba – Indian

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Meagan Briggs #

    Such a fun post! I love all the pictures. And you got to see Katie!!!!!

    October 18, 2013

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