Women share their sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, always true experiences on the road - and how to laugh AND win at business travel.

Stories from the Road

  • Charlie Vascellaro

Now Get Out and Stay Out!


The vibrant tourist industry in and around Scottsdale, Arizona, took a big hit during the past year, and the effect of the pandemic on businesses still lingers. But conditions are easing as visitors have adapted, spending more time outside among scenic surroundings.

“We are doing a lot of hiking, checking out outdoor restaurants and patios,” said Dawn Denberg, who writes for Marin (as in the county) magazine.

Denberg recently flew to Arizona with her husband and dog (more on that later). They checked into the Hotel Valley Ho, a venerable landmark built in the 1950s, and had a fine time hanging around the hotel, enjoying nature and keeping their distance.


“We just kind of walk around the grounds,” Denberg said. “It’s not a mega-resort like some of the other places in Scottsdale. It’s walking distance to Old Town. Take the dog for a walk with the morning coffee.“

Denberg said she’d “had it with staying in one place,” and pitched a story. Arizona “is a good market” for Marin, she said. She calls the trip a “working vacation.”

So, about the dog. That would be Mort, a terrier mix. Mort and the people he owns flew into Phoenix International Airport on JSX, a hop-on jet service that allows pets.

“When I do one of these stories about traveling with your dog, it really has to be someplace that is either driveable or easily-accessible by plane,”Denberg said.

“You can go anywhere you want with your dog. This is almost a straight travel story for readers because things you would do with your dog are not too dissimilar from things you would do without.”

That includes hiking the Lost Dog Wash Trail. That’s the name. But don’t worry, Mort remained in plain sight the entire time.

The vistas and desert terrain “have been a big thing for us,” said Kristin Heggli, public relations director for the Valley Ho and its sister property, Mountain Shadows resort. Both feature patios with every guest room

“At Mountain Shadows you have the golf course,” Heggli said. “At Valley Ho you have two pools. There is plenty of outdoor space and most of the year you can enjoy the weather. Even in the summer we had people coming from California and Colorado.” (Heggli’s own business travels were curtailed, relegating her national media pitching to virtual contact).

Meanwhile, writer Lanee Lee experienced the outdoor spaces when she, her husband and baby drove from Los Angeles to their new home in New Mexico. They stopped at the Valley Ho along the way ‘’to do some stories on Scottsdale because we were driving, anyway.”

Lee said she was “pleasantly surprised” by how “open,” Scottsdale was. That feeling quickly dissipated, however.

“Scottsdale kind of thumbed its nose at everything,” she said. “We were coming from L.A., which was completely shut down. Nothing was open.” Shortly after arrival, she said, someone asked what she planned to do. “Nothing,” she replied. “This is Scottsdale, we don’t shut down,” was the inquisitor’s response, she said.

“I thought it sounded bad,” Lee said.

Then they headed into the great outdoors. “I found it fabulous,” Lee said.

Eventually, Lee felt comfortable enough to venture into a restaurant for the first time in more than a year. Tables were at least six feet apart, customers and servers wore masks..

“We loved it,’ she said. “Finally it felt like some kind of normalcy.”

Normalcy is returning to the Valley of Sun, and elsewhere, although many continue to flout common sense and safety. For the more rational and reasonable, you have to know where to go.