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GO WEST!
ENJOY THE GREEN PHOENIX CONVENTION CENTER & THE LUXURY OF THE DOWNTOWN SHERATON
As most of the country starts to cool down for winter, ARA’s 70th Annual Convention & Exposition will just be heating up. Not only will you be able to bask in the pleasantly warm weather of Phoenix, Arizona, you are sure to fire up your brain cells as you interact with other recyclers and attend the “Industry Rising” Sessions and Expo, held Nov. 6-9, 2013 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, (www.sheratonphoenixdowntown.com) and Phoenix Convention Center, (www.phoenixconventioncenter.com) an award winning center for sustainability (one of its core values). The Sheraton Downtown Hotel is located adjacent to the Phoenix Convention Center, right in the heart of downtown Phoenix, making it convenient to visit attractions and restaurants. The four star luxurious Sheraton Downtown boasts 1,000 guest rooms and everything you need to stay connected while you are away from home.

For those of you who have the extra energy to burn, the Sheraton offers a complimentary 24-hour fitness center complete with an iPod docking station and full television programming on all of the cardio equipment. Or, you can take a quick dip at the outdoor lap pool or relax on the sundeck.

Explore over 50 restaurants within walking distance as well as museums, Chase Field, U.S. Airways Center, The Herberger, and Dodge and Orpheum Theaters.

THINGS TO DO IN PHOENIX

Phoenix is loaded with things to do, so the question is not what is there to do, but what to do first?  In November, the average temperature in Phoenix is about 64 degrees – with the average high of 76 and the average low of 53. So, it’s a good time for outdoor as well as indoor activities.

For those looking to learn about local culture, there are great museums nearby. The Heard Museum, (www.heard.org) is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and features an extensive collection of American Indian art. The Phoenix Art Museum, (www.phxart.org) is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday, and hosts art from collections featuring American, Asian,  European, Latin American, fashion,  contemporary, and modern photography and Western American works of art.

Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, located close to the hotel, is a treat for baseball fans. It was the first baseball facility to combine a retractable roof and air conditioning, with a natural turf field. Although the baseball season will be over, you can still see the field. According to online local journalist, Judy Hedding, you can view the field from Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill. It’s located in the left-field corner of the Ballpark and is open 363 days a year.

The Phoenix Zoo was voted one of the nation’s top five zoos for kids, and is also a popular attraction in Phoenix. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, it is a privately owned, non-profit zoo that is totally supported by donors and private organizations. It’s open 365 days a year. Fall will be a great time to visit since the weather is milder and the animals may be more active than in the summertime when soaring temperatures limit their activity.

For those wildlife and garden enthusiasts, Phoenix boasts several places to see exquisite examples of the desert wildlife that surrounds Arizona and the West. Located in Central Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden has one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. Enjoy 50 acres of breathtakingly gorgeous outdoor exhibits. It is home to 139 rare, threatened, and endangered species from around the world. It is also one of only 44 botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is another peaceful spot to admire over 3,000 different desert plants as you walk along its 1.5 mile trail. The arboretum features plants from many different and varied deserts and dry lands around the world and is also home to more than 250 species of birds.

Almost all of us have imagined being a cowboy or cowgirl at some point in our lives and for those who want to revisit the fun of childhood, visit Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse. You can take your kids or just treat yourself to a dinner and show. Once there, you can get a feel for the Wild West by experiencing gunfights, stunt shows, stagecoach rides, bull riding and gold panning. You can also take a desert train ride, ride a camel or go horseback riding. They also have a petting ranch, a working blacksmith that you can visit and western shops. Many of the activities at Rawhide charge an admission fee between $2 and $5. Also, make your reservation at their infamous Sundown Cookouts, coming back this fall (check rawhide.com/calendar.html for the schedule). Imagine an awesome chuck-wagon cookout under the stars surrounded by the beauty of the Sonoran desert sure to please the entire family.

For those willing to venture further afield, there are the more than 100 art galleries in nearby Scottsdale. Every Thursday evening, year round (except Thanksgiving) you can enjoy Scottsdale Art Walks, a stroll through the various galleries, from 7 to 9 p.m. Each week Scottsdale Gallery Association members host special exhibits and join together for an informal open house throughout the art district.

If you are feeling up for some outdoor adventure, you can also climb Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak. There are two major trails on Camelback Mountain that aren’t very long but are considered moderate to difficult hikes. Piestewa Peak, is part of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and has the elevation of 2,608 feet. Although this may not sound very tall, hikers of all levels can get a good work-out and a great view of the city, on this heavily used trail.

Whatever you do, one thing is guaranteed – you will leave the 70th Annual Convention & Exposition ready to take your business to a new level of excellence.

Michelle Keadle-Taylor is a freelance writer in Northern Virginia and a regular contributor to Automotive Recycling magazine.

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