So I had the opportunity this week to travel to Phoenix/Scottsdale to speak and be part of a panel at a work conference. It was a really nice honor to be selected and after a long day of travel, I arrived in paradise. I was fortunate enough for my wife to travel and meet me there and combine some vacation days in after the conference. Coming from Pa and getting to Az after the cold we have been having was certainly a blessing. Being from the south, I am a lot more partial to warm than cold.

I arrived at the airport Tuesday (3 hour time difference made for a long day) and my wife instructed me to meet her at the rental car center. Off to the shuttle I go to arrive to a bright red, Camaro convertible SS with 4k miles! Now I would never own this car, but as a rental for the week in the desert, oh hell yes I will! Off to the JW Marriot to check into our room. This place is simply majestic. Set at the foot of the mountains, this is an oasis of scenery and upscale living. This was proven later with the clientele for the restaurant and seeing the exotic car show in the parking lot. Super friendly staff, super clean and the food was great.

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Being a cigar guy obviously high on my priority of things to see and do was to visit local shops. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t work out exactly like I planned but…I did bring cigars and I did get to visit 2 local spots. Smoke and Joe (cigars and coffee, well done) and Ford on Fifth. For those of you that are on Instagram and Twitter you probably know FTB_Melanie and FTB_Anthony Cantelmo, Ford on Fifth is their shop. More to come on that.

After a successful conference on Wed and a wonderful fully catered dinner in the garden, I found a fellow cigar aficionado and he presented me with the offer of, you bring the cigars and I will buy the drinks. You sir have a deal! I enjoyed a Padron 1926 Maduro and a nice bourbon and he a Balmoral Anejo XO and scotch. After trying the Lagavulin he was having, I decided I needed to have some of that as well. That was my first time with that and I was not disappointed. Super smokey and a great pairing with the Padron I was having.

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Thursday was an early start and 5 hour drive up to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. WOW! I can’t begin to describe in words how breathtaking the scenery was there. Pics are nice but can’t even come close to the real life experience. After a long day of hiking, tours and moments of deep thought, we drove the 5 hours back, convertible top down, music cranked and cruising through some beautiful desert landscape.

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Friday was open to whatever so we went to some local spots to sight-see and do the tourist thing. As we were driving, my wonderful wife noticed Smoke and Joe and asked if I wanted to stop, I almost flipped the car doing a u turn to get there. Lol. Ok Not really but yes I did indeed want to stop. What a cool place. I should have gotten pictures but with jet lagged, time change, busy schedule and overall drag assing that was going on, I just wanted to smoke. My wife was kind enough to replace my Padron 1926 Maduro and bought me 2 house blends and the Full Metal Jacket cigar. Got to love it when the wife takes such great care of you! We sat outside and I enjoyed a L’atelier Limited Edition while talking with the owner for a few minutes. He is a pilot with Southwest and opened the cigar lounge. Nice selection, the lady at the counter was super friendly, the private lounge seemed very nice and the coffee bar was a nice touch.

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After that nice break, it was off to do some more sightseeing and photos. We found ourselves near Ford on Fifth so I decided to stop in and see if Anthony was around. He was not so I was a little bummed about that but no fear, the guy working at the time (I did not catch his name) was more than helpful in pointing me to the long time eluded Deliverance Nocturne that I have been searching for. Score! I picked up some of those and a Mi Querida from Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco. Steve was there on Tuesday night and unfortunately I missed him. I hoped to make it back later that evening to have a smoke but that didn’t play out. Ford on Fifth has some history behind it and has a small lounge and a nice humidor with a nice selection and a outdoor sitting area in the front.

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We headed out to our next adventure which was a sunset electric bike tour through the desert. What a cool concept and oh what a trip! The trails were a fun challenge, the views were terrific, the knowledge about the plants, desert, area etc was super interesting. A side from a brief encounter with a very large and very pissed off rattlesnake, we had a great trip. I highly recommend taking the tour if you ever visit. Hit me up and I will get you the info. Our tour guide was great and did a great job of getting video and photos on top of a great tour.

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We tried out a place called the Wild Thaiger we saw on Diners, Drivein’s and Dives for dinner. Very good Thai food and worth checking out. After a full week and an early start on Saturday of travel, sadly it was time to put Az behind us for now.

I say for now because my wife and I truly fell in love with the state. It is certainly on the top of our list for places to move. If I can make that work in the future, I certainly will do so. Until then, we will have to rely on photos and memories. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. I know this isn’t that much about cigars but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Feel free to drop comments or suggestions.

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