Subject: Phoenix
I am one of those travelers who wants to go to Europe but have never been yet. Have plans to go to Paris in the spring, but for now, we tend to go places that our children live.... hence, we've been to Arizona 3 times now :-) I can tell you that the Comfort Inn Turf is quite clean and comfortable, with a lovely outdoor pool, although there's not much of a view, as it's right next door to the race track. We've only been there in July, so I can't tell you if it's very noisy the rest of the year. We had a fridge in the room, which was very handy, as we were able to buy a week's worth of water and keep it cool. A full breakfast was offered, but I'd stick to the fruit and cereal. The sausage and eggs were awful! We usually just had a bagel at Einstein's Bagels, a short drive from the Comfort Inn. There's not too much within walking distance, but there are some restaurants you can walk to. We rented a car this time, and we were so glad we did. Other visits our son drove us around, but this time he was not on vacation, and we had to fit visits in around his work schedule, so while he was working, we explored Phoenix.

I'm from Rockford, Illinois originally, where you can get great Italian food, so I know it when I smell it, and De Falco's Italian Grocery and Deli located at 2724 N. 68th St. #4 in Scottsdale has it. The meatballs melt in your mouth, and the simple salad of mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes we ordered on the side was wonderful. It's also very inexpensive.... a Peroni beer to go with our meal was only $2.50. Most places would charge at least $4.00 a bottle for imported beer. De Falco's is one of those places that you walk in, and there are bottles of olive oil, fresh Italian bread, and the smell of pasta sauce simmering. You just walk up to the counter to place your order, but there is a small seating area inside and also on the sidewalk. In the deli were several different kinds of Italian cheeses and meats and salads. Ah.... wonderful!

For a real western experience, we enjoyed going to Harold's in Cave Creek -- about half an hour from Phoenix. The food isn't extraordinary, but it's fun to watch the cowboys who come in, leaving their horses tied out back, and some nights they have a country band. This tends to be a touristy area and can be quite expensive, but Harold's wasn't too bad. The Satisfied Frog, another popular place, which was down the road, on the other hand, was quite expensive, and the food was not that good. I had fried chicken, and it was so salty that I could hardly eat it. My husband and son ordered burgers, and they said they were okay. They have a micro-brewery on the premises, and they're known for their chili beer. I found their wheat beer to be very good, but my son didn't enjoy the chili beer much. If you're longing for a good pizza, Pizza Farro's in the Cave Creek area is quite good, with a nice atmosphere.

A must see in Phoenix is The Heard Museum. It was incredible. Just be sure to get good directions from the people at the front desk. The first building is full of modern Native American jewelry, but you have to walk through that building and a courtyard -- delightful, with fountains and statues -- to the other building to see the huge collection of Native American artifacts and exhibits. It was excellent! Oh, by the way, if you're a member of AAA, there's a discount -- I was glad I asked :-) Oh, and there is free parking, if you're driving.

If you find the heat unbearable in Phoenix, take a drive up to Flaggstaff, which is 20 degrees cooler, but on the way, stop in Sedona. It is quite beautiful, with all the red rock. Sandy Illinois