Family life

The importance of a mother-daughter trip

Tracy Chappell and her daughter create lasting memories on their trip to Phoenix, Arizona.

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Anna gets caught up in the Old West. Photo: Tracy Chappell

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

Getting the chance to soak up a little sunshine in the middle of bitterly cold January is such a gift. Anna and I loved our first couple of days in Phoenix, and the second half of our trip was full of adventure.

We spent a sun-filled day at the Goldfield Ghost Town in Mesa. One of my favourite things about this day was the drive out to Mesa with our lovely guide, Kara. It was our first real chance to see a long stretch of the desert landscape and breathtaking mountain ranges that surround Greater Phoenix. Goldfield is located on the Apache Trail, near the Superstitious Mountains. I just couldn’t get enough of the view.

Goldfield was a mining town in the 1890s, and had bursts of prosperity in the early 1900s, but essentially, the ore went bad and everyone moved on. Now it’s a big tourist destination, attempting to revive the spirit of the Old West. It’s kitsch at its best — make your own “Wanted” poster, pan for gold, walk down the dusty lane where they reenact gunfights on the weekends. We took a tour of the actual gold mine and heard stories of the scary, hard lives of the miners and how they extracted all the gold in the old days. Anna had a blast. No pun intended.

We checked into our new “home” — The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, on the border of Phoenix and Scottsdale. Just gorgeous. Of course, I could only really explore it from our balcony because Anna had come down with something and she was running a bit of a fever and crawled into the big, comfy bed at 5 p.m. and fell asleep. So it all looked nice — the next day we discovered it certainly was.

Phoenix in January isn’t hot. It’s quite cool in the mornings, and it cools off in the late afternoon again, so we had a precious handful of hours of beautiful sunshine to explore. They have this cool scavenger hunt for kids — you pick up “The Compass: A Trailblazer’s Guide to The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa” which is a booklet containing pages for different locations in the resort along with historical facts about Arizona. It gave us a great way to check out places we might not have gone — the golf club, and different restaurants — and collect stamps. At the end of our visit, Anna checked in at the desk, and got cool lapel pins for all the locations she’d stamped (all of them!).

We got to learn about snakes and the lizard-like Gila Monster at a lobby reptile presentation and soak up the sun for about an hour at the beautiful pool and lazy river. It was so nice to be lounging in the water. Anna got a lesson on the resort’s FlowRider, which is a surf simulator. It scared her, even though she was doing really well bodyboarding, and we put a quick halt to that.

In the evening, a Scottish bagpiper plays at sunset, and it was just beautiful. My grandma loved bagpipes and I admit I got a little teary when I told the piper how moving his performance was (he was one of the “stamps” we had to collect for the scavenger hunt). After dinner, we roasted s’mores on an open pit. They have flavoured marshmallows and chocolate — I chose a chocolate marshmallow on a peanut butter cup (delish!); Anna chose a carmel marshmallow on cookies & cream chocolate (eww — but she said it was delish).

And then it was back to our room for packing, finishing my book (Gone Girl — which I loved until the ending. I was so disappointed with the ending!), Anna finishing up her travel journal, and then to bed.

We were both excited to get home to see Sean and Avery, but it was so nice to have some one-on-one time with Anna, making memories that will last a lifetime. I’ll definitely take both my girls back to Arizona someday to tour the Grand Canyon. In a way, I’m glad that wasn’t part of this trip, so I can show them that spectacular world wonder at the same time.

What cool places have you travelled with your kids?

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