Peruvian Grooving 2017

Machu Picchu may have been a tourist destination since the 80’s (or earlier) once it was noted as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it seems as though everyone and their mother has been traveling to South America recently.  Really though – my own mom and dad took the trek this past summer to this New7Wonder of the World and I have four other friends who visited in the 12 months!  Meghan and I were lucky enough to plan this trip at the beginning of the year and despite accepting a new job and moving to California, we were still able to make the trek.  Of course, when you sign up and pay for the flights/trek, it really becomes a non-negotiable, even with a new job.

We both agreed that an active vacation would do us both good as we live our work lives behind a desk.   We also agreed to minimize our time in museums as our study abroad experiences had us in and out of museums galore.  After some perusing online, we decided to sign up for the REI Inca Trail Trek, a nine day adventure covering the Sacred Valley and four days of hiking the 27 mile Inca Trail until arriving at the “Lost City of the Incas”.  Sure, it was a bit pricier than some plans online but it was absolutely worth it.  Not only that but did you know if you sign up to be a lifetime member (only $20), you get a sick discount on adventures, special offers, an annual dividend, and have access to in-store garage sales!  Ultimately the best $20 I’ve ever spent.

** This is going to be a very long post but I hope it can help future trekkers down the line, entertain current readers, and remind me in a few years what we actually did. **

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What’s Good LA?

Hello, it’s me.  A girl trying to call herself a blogger who is also now back to her base in California and not sure what to do about a weekly post.  That’s not entirely true as I always seem to have ideas bouncing around – I even have oodles of ideas for throwback NYC posts.  I simply just don’t know when to dedicate the time to write.  It might help if I didn’t scroll on my phone at night and instead drafted up a post or two but alas, I’m only human and still breaking into a routine.

It’s only been two weeks but I’m still smiling from the love that I received my last couple of weeks in NYC.  I saw my favorite people, ran my favorite routes, ate some fun foods, and just left on good terms, which is important to me.  A lot of people asked whether I would miss New York and if I was sad to be leaving.  Well, yes I was sad to leave but I was excited to create a new life, find myself in a new role and new job, and explore the west coast.  We cross paths with people and live in places that have a profound impact on our lives but nothing lasts forever.

^^ Going to miss all of these gals + more people unpictured.  Beyond grateful for the surprise picnic or surprise guests because let’s be honest, I’m very difficult to surprise.  Somehow I’m just naturally curious and figure things out.  But I did not know that friends like Ali would show up and it meant the world to me, especially since she hasn’t been feeling super hot 😦 . Also make note of her parting gift – a stuffed animal llama who together we named Ellie Fwelling.

So what’s been going on over the last couple of weeks? Driving, driving, running, and driving 😉 I really have no room to complain because that’s LA and I agreed to this situation. Plus, it’s sort of fun to create new routines and I’ve seen so much more of the landscape by taking side roads to and from the office.

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People love to talk about their commute.  I’ve just gravitated from the subway lingo to the freeways.  For example I used to take the L to the Q to NP and then A to the L home from work. Now I just use freeways and because I’m a Southern California gal, I put THE in front of every freeway name.  My commutes have varied every single day, twice a day but so far I’ve taken the 2 to the 110 to the 5 to the 10 and I’ve taken the side streets to the 110 to the 2.  Most mornings range around 70-90 minutes (sweet spot on 80-85) and unless I’m staying late (which may be the case), evening commutes are about the same.  Wednesday was skewed since I drove 20-30 minutes to November Project and then 15 to the gym and 45 to work.  The worst part of that one was that I couldn’t find an accessible coffee shop on my side of the street.  Every time I passed a Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, there was either no parking space or it was on the other side of the street.

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^^ Long run views along the coast in Santa Barbara.  I’m blessed to have family that live in such beautiful places and now that I’m back with access to a car, you’ll find me living it up by the water or the mountains.

Podcasts – Do you ever find yourself annoyed by some voices early in the morning?  See, I have a not so “sunshine and butterflies” attitude at times 😉 Anyways, I finally discovered Mike&Mike while living in NYC.  They host from 6a-9a EST and it was perfect for walking to the gym or even the occasional solo morning run.  Well, now I discovered that their podcast is available that same day and because it’s in podcast form, it has WAY fewer ads (condensing an hour show into 36 minutes).  Winning.

I’m going to be so sad when it ends in a couple of months 😦 . It seriously makes my morning commute enjoyable and I like to think I’m gaining retaining sports knowledge.

I did test out the TODAY SHOW on SiriusXM but unfortunately for them, they will not gain a loyal member since I cannot stand the reception cutting in and out every other sentence.   So, any suggested podcasts?  I’ve gotten “The Daily” and been recommended Headspace.  I have yet to actually download/purchase those but any tips would be greatly appreciated.  Something interesting and potentially educational?  Or just entertaining.

Social Media – I used to be WAY better about responding to people via text message.  It really only has been a week or so but I’m finding that it’s a work in progress.  Anyone who has messaged me and I haven’t responded in my timely fashion, my apologies.  I’m doing my best to commute close to 2-3 hours and that means no texting.

^^ Labor Day Weekend adventures on Mount Baldy.  I’m debating a full post (<< something I say a lot) but if you want the short and sweet version, it was a great hike but actually taking the right path would have been helpful.  It took us 5 moving hours to cover 9ish miles and we definitely got lost.  The picture on the right?  We were totally not supposed to be scaling down that but had already committed.  Yolo?

Blogging – I’ve gotten a few questions about blogging in the last week or so.  I’m not sure where I stand.  I love Instagram and I really don’t want to be on my computer outside of work hours.  It’s bad enough I still sit in front of a screen for 8 or so hours and then sit in the car for upwards of 3 hours a day.  But, I do have some fun thoughts for posts and maybe when I get my personal computer back on wifi (<< another problem) I’ll throw some up there.

This weekend I signed up for a 24 hour adventure race called Questival, brought to you by Cotopaxi, an adventure gear brand with the appropriate moto “Gear For Good”.  Even better and quite possibly how I became attracted to the brand in the first place is that their logo is a LLAMA!!!  Now don’t ask me why I’m obsessed with llamas because I have no clue.  They are just so darn funny and I’m sorry if we as a society mix up alpacas with llamas.  The entire animal group is a hoot.  (Shout out to everyone who has sent me funny llama pictures and clothing ideas with the llama logo. Special shoutout to Ali who gifted me Ellie Fwuelling).

But back to this festival thing.  It looks extremely cool – you and up to 5 other teammates adventure around your city completing challenges that could include anything adventurous to philanthropic.  My only hesitation is the sleep aspect since I 1) don’t function well on little sleep and 2) know little sleep will affect me beyond Saturday and instead into the next week.  Time to live a little and suck it up and have some fun (but of course be safe!  Cotopaxi will not send out any notifications between 1a-5a but I think my sister and I will be a little generous with those hours…say 11:30p-6a?)

Other than that, I’m getting into the swing of running, making my way at the November Project LAX Tribe, and hanging onto my sister’s running club.  I’m serious when I say hanging on because a large majority of those folks are speeeedy.  Maybe if I hang on long enough, I can PR 😉

Alright, that’s all for now but I hope to put together some posts about NYC, some of my favorite food spots as well as odds and ends from California.

“Do what you love and love what you do”

Alaska Travels Part 2

Now you know that I wouldn’t come back from a two week vacation without hundreds of pictures, right?  In fact I wasn’t even the worst at being trigger happy because my dad had over 900 on his camera card!  Of course there were a few hundred that were just moving shots or blurry images thanks to the movement of the train and bus, but hey got to catch ’em all.

As noted on Monday, the first week was spent with Un-Cruise galivanting about Fairbanks, Denali, and then to the Knik River Lodge by the Knik Glacier.  This last spot may have been a favorite because of the glorious mattresses and the SLED DOGS!!!  If you ever have the opportunity to meet sled dogs and ride with them, throw caution to the wind and go.

Wednesday was one helluva travel day since we got up at the crack of dawn (5:30) to enjoy a 6 hour bus tour out of the park, 4+ hour train tour to Talkeetna for dinner, and then 2 hour bus trip to our final destination.  In the end it was all worth it because we witnessed several more bouts of wildlife, enjoyed a walk and tasty meal Talkeetna and made it to Knik River Lodge by bedtime.

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^^ Yep, this is downtown.  With a population of about 876 (back in 2010), no need to spend more than a meal in Talkeetna.  However, if you are interested in camping, that’s a different story.

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This was the view from our adorable little hut along the Knik River and Glacier.  Each hut could house up to one or two beds and I do declare they were the most comfortable beds I have experienced.  Meghan and I took to running two of the mornings that we stayed because well, it was week 1 of marathon training and I was already behind.

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Along with marathon training came some hiking or rather “bush-wacking”.  This entails one pushing through bushes without a very well defined path in order to reach your destination.  Rain pants are a must in this situation because otherwise you will have countless scratches, bruises, and even bug bites from the contact and exposure.

IMG_9079IMG_1810^^ 3 miles round-trip (1.5 up and 1.5 back with 1hr 20 up and 1hr back) for this beauty.  It would have been 10x better had there not been mosquitoes waiting around for us but who am I kidding?

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^^ Don’t you like my outfit?  Keeping things real attractive in the Alaskan countryside.

After our jaunt up the mountain, it was time to grab a quick lunch and then off to see the doggies!  There were about 4 groups visiting the group of dogs on the glacier throughout the day and we happened to be #3.  Fingers and toes were crossed that the weather would clear up because group #1 wasn’t able to land the helicopter due to the grumpy clouds chilling in the sky.  I know it’s for precautionary reasons but it would still suck to go all the way up and not be able to see them.  Not to mention hearts and souls crushed.  (minor exaggeration…maybe)

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Just take a look at that blue in the glacier!!  Fun fact – the blue color is actually what’s reflected within our eyes and not the actual color of the glacier.  Neat, right?

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Just two sisters getting along for 13 days of very very close proximity together.  😉  My dad actually asked me if I brought any clothing that didn’t have a November Project tag on it.  Um, yeah sorry no.  Guess it has to go in the Christmas card (again).

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Final dose of Alaskan adventure coming your way Friday!

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Meanwhile in Tuxedo

Another summer day and another outdoors adventure.  It’s safe to say that I spend more time reminiscing and dreaming about hiking now than I did when I lived in California.  I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I’m surrounded in concrete and yearning for that outdoors experience.  Although to be fair, I also spent a lot of time wishing I was spending more time outdoors in college and well, it was college.  I definitely could have done so back then.

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Anyways, thank goodness for active friends who are willing to try something new.  Even if it means taking New Jersey Transit from NYC to Tuxedo, New York to go hiking.  Yeah, I’m not sure how we got that one, but we made it.

Our options for the 4th of July weekend hikes were between Bear Mountain, Breakneck Ridge, and Beacon.  Many of us had raced Bear Mountain for the North Face Endurance Challenge and weren’t exactly too keen to revisit that course, but found a different part of the mountain to explore.

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^^ All set with the very smooth and tasty (yet a bit high on the sugar scale) Noosa and Califia experiment.  I’m much more of a fan of almond milk lattes with the barista blend, but this on the go brew was solid enough.  Some of the other folks picked up bagels near Penn Station at Best Bagel & Coffee but I was saving up for dinner at Parm.  More salivating pictures and reviews on that to come.

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We weren’t entirely sure what type of hike or route we were going to take but thankfully one of the gals had brought a map along with her, so we weren’t too terribly lost.

IMG_8519IMG_8527 13584748_10154295469682813_4783836227838467758_oIMG_8193^^ Huge fan of NUUN, an electrolyte tablet that you can pop in your water to shake up hydration.  It’s pretty popular among runners and folks on-the-go and as you can see, perfect to pop in any bag when traveling or even keep at work!

Those looking for the nitty gritty, the electrolytes packed in these tablets (namely >> sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium) help reduce cramps and improve muscle function and recovery.

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IMG_8520 IMG_8514IMG_8535 IMG_8518 IMG_852813567132_10154201007110330_6071703245614202437_nIMG_8529IMG_8531IMG_852213521918_10154201007200330_1973019190873832069_n IMG_8533IMG_8536^^ We may not have found a true look out point but this side of the mountain provided quite a nice view.  We even had an encounter with a deer! Don’t worry, we didn’t actually touch the deer, but I got some decent action shots.

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We made it back around 3:30 to catch the early afternoon train into NYC.  From there it was off to PARM and oh what a tasty treat that was.  To be continued…

“Whenever the sun is shining, I feel obligated to play outside!”
― Charles M. Schulz

Life of Late ~ 7.8.16

Well it looks like I have jinxed myself believing that we could get through a summer without humidity.  Mother Nature is probably laughing and thinking “as if”.  I’m talking it is SO HUMID.  I have beads of sweat dripping down my forehead the minute I walk outside and those spur of the moment thunderstorms make for a lovely walk home. Nothing like an east coast summer, right?

My plans of late have been organized anywhere from 2 to 24 hours before hand, which is quite different than growing up where we had everything planned out to the hour.  Each method has its positives and negatives but I’ve had to rely on more  “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” schedules here in the city.  I figure there are so many people coming and going, so many people asking each other plans so they can figure out what best suits their interests and schedules, and hey, if no one else wants to go somewhere I can do it on my own.  #independence.

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^^ Hometown BBQ with some friends.  We arrived to the Brooklyn joint around 4pm, which was perfect since I needed all those hours following the meal to digest.  Surprisingly there were quite a few parties already eating so they must have had the three day weekend BBQ plan in mind as well.  Looking back, I definitely give the cornbread, brisket, and potato salad two thumbs up.  The mac and cheese was solid but nothing seems to beat the Whole Foods spread.

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^^ Fast forward to Saturday morning after consuming a whole lot of water and TUMS, I met up with some November Project friends to go hiking.  I plan on doing a photo dump later this week since it was a neat experience.  But the soup to nuts version is that we took a train up to Tuxedo, finagled our way to a lake somehow, logged over 8 miles, and were back in the city by 5:30.  To think that I usually sit at my desk for that long…

^^ Another foodie adventure to Lil Frankies where an empty stomach and wallet of cash is necessary.  It’s actually not too pricey  but it is cash only.  You MUST get the burrata and lemon pasta.

When I’m home in a few weeks, I am thinking that some ice cream will be in order (when is it not?)  I would love to check off one or two of the top places to get ice cream in Los Angeles and having already been to Milk, it’s looking like Salt & Straw or Paradis in Montrose.  I’m 99% sure this location is actually related to the Paradis in Copenhagen!

November Project ~ “You’re more than what you do, you’re how you treat people” >> Another transition in leadership in the SF tribe with a so-long post, definitely worth shedding tears over.   To those thinking that they need to find some meaning in their job, their day to day, or whatever it may be – read this.  It’s just yet another reminder that we are multi-faceted human beings and are defined by so much more than our jobs.

Great Big Story ~ How cool would it be to work for something that produces this content?  Anyways, there was a short about Bodie, “The Ghost Town that Time Forgot“.  My parents took us on a short visit one time because it’s located right near our favorite mountain spot – Mammoth Mountain, snug in the Sierra Nevadas.  It also happens to be the namesake of our dog Bodie!  Take a look – the clip is less than 2 minutes long.

Currently Watching >> Whatever I can find on television that catches my attention.  Once I worked my way through ‘Grace and Frankie‘, it was onto ‘Orange is the New Black‘ (OMG…this season), and then … crickets.  Similarly to reading, it takes me awhile to find a show or novel that catches hold.  Once I do find something that I love, I’m hooked and terribly disappointed when it is over.   Other shows and documentaries include:

  • ‘Fed Up’
  • ‘Forks over Knives’
  • CNN’s ‘The Sixties’
  • ‘Uncle Buck’
  • ‘Seinfeld’

I’ve tried to get into older series like ‘The Twilight Zone’, the original ‘Star Trek’, Hulu’s 11.22.63, and even ‘Scandal’ but those are still sitting in my queue.

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^^ Last Sunday’s bRUNch! After five or so miles in the heat, I was ready for some ice cream or rather three full lemonades and then ice cream.

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On the actual fourth of July, I took a slow jog over the Brooklyn Bridge to meet my friend Jackie for a strength class of epic proportion.  It kicked our a$$ that’s for sure.

After a brunch at Le Pain, I made my way to the west side to hang out with friends, play the game Codenames, and earn a nice little sports bra tan-line.  That will be oh so attractive in my bridesmaid dress later this summer.  Although who knows how bad it’ll be by the end of the summer, so I’ll probably have to find some good spray tanner.

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^^ That evening I got together with a couple of different friends and we had a summer salad soiree. Between Annelise’s adult fruit salad, Melissa’s divine deviled eggs and my Greek salad, we were set!  Of course there were a few other items to make for quite a potluck spread for the three of us.  Our thought was to snack until the fireworks went off around 9:30 but of course we had consumed everything by 7:45 and the rain started to pour down around 8:45.

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^^ This is the FDR, which is NEVER this clear.  Not even at 11pm when I’m in an uber back from the airport.  Nope.

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^^ Despite the semi-surprise rain shower (it was supposed to rain at 11pm, not 9pm), we hopped back into Annelise’s apartment and then back out in time to see the Macy’s spectacular.  Successful check off the bucket list!

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It Went Down at Phoenix

Get ready for an epic length post of all the fun that was had this past weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.  For those who want the spark notes version (you miss out on awesome desert views), we ran a half marathon (got 3rd in my category and almost PR’d), had beyond amazing meals that were way cheaper than what you would find in New York City, and just had too much fun talking and catching up.  This is yet another trip that has reminded me how blessed I am to have found such clutch friends with whom I can spend my time, open up about anything, and just be myself.

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IMG_5696Sam and I arrived late on Thursday night and were greeted by our friend Zara in the amazing rental car she had picked up for the weekend.  CLUTCH move.  I didn’t really consider how we would get around otherwise and well, that would have been bad news bears.  We had so much more freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted and it was all relatively inexpensive!

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Friday morning jog and walk around the local canal.  It was a whopping couple of miles in the heat and we were ready for breakfast.  Hey, didn’t want to work too hard before Saturday’s race 😉

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Snooze Phoenix (on ASU’s campus)
A bright, retro chain right out of the movie Cars, serving breakfast & lunch & cocktails.
2045 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
*Possible wait because it’s oh so popular.  Put your name in, fill up on some complimentary coffee and sit outside to enjoy the sunshine. 
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Coffee and Donuts Pancakes
Buttermilk pancake “donuts” filled with spiced granny smith apples, topped with chai glaze, walnut streusel and accompanied by a wee cup o’ espresso cream.
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Winter Harvest Benny
Griddled sun-dried tomato and parmesan grit cakes topped with a ragout of brussel sprouts, kale and cannelloni beans with poached cage free eggs, cream cheese hollandaise and toasted fennel crumb.
*Breakfast hack: sub out the side for a specialty pancake and you get pretty much a FULL SIZE TREAT 🙂 This is also clutch if you are looking to be thrifty (full meal perfect for splitting) or get your bang for your buck (and a full stomach)
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Chile Verde Benny
Slow cooked pulled pork over a stack of green chile sauced tortillas and melted cheese with poached cage free eggs and green chili hollandaise, pico de gallo and cotija cheese.

IMG_8379 Once adequately stuffed, we rolled our way to bib pickup, walked around the expo, wandered through Target, picked up some excellent quality magazines and went to chill on the ASU campus.  We really didn’t have any plans besides hanging out, staying outdoors, and eating an early dinner.  Our bedtime was around 9pm (social butterflies) simply because the wakeup was around 4am.

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Here we are pre-race and post-bathrooms.  Boy was that one of the more stressful moments…waiting to get a porta-potty in hopes you still make the start. I did strike up a conversation with a few runners because why not.

Fueling Habits: (4:30am) small banana, Honey Stinger Waffle, and cold brew >> Mid race (after 60 minutes running or 8 miles) Honey Stinger Gel w/ a swish of water at every 2 miles.  The race started at 6:30 but the heat was already rising when the gun went off.

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No pictures were taken during the race simply because…it’s a race.  I considered going out and maintaining a 8:30 – 9:00 pace but when the race started, I felt so good that I ended up pacing around 7:45.  Once I reached 8 miles and knew I could maintain that pace and possibly hit a personal best, I really decided there would be no photography (like the street sign that said Pasadena) or goofing around.

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In the end, raced 1:40:58 and while I missed a PR by about a minute, buuuut I felt amazing, my nutrition was spot on, and because I was entered in the Athena category, I placed 3rd with my time! Note, the time above was a little off since I had to manually stop it after I crossed the finish line.

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^^ BEST BREAKFAST EVER.  BEST PANCAKES EVER. MUST GO BACK (and go back to get the water bottle I left behind…oops).  But back to the main point here.  I am picky about pancakes.  I went on a limb and ordered the Sante Fe Scrambler (chorizo, pepper, onion, cheddar cheese) and exchanged the hash browns for the Wildberry Bliss Cakes (stuffed with blueberries, layered with vanilla mascarpone, topped with vanilla cream, fresh wildberries & glaze).  So basically all those calories burned from running, were eaten back plus more.  #runtoeat

Butters
8390 East Vía de Ventura F108, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
*Like all fabulous brunch spots, there will be a wait.  Arrive early and grab a cup of coffee at the adorable java station next door. 

IMG_8404The rest of the day was spent lounging by the pool (thanks to Zara’s friends for letting us chill out 🙂 ), digesting the enormous brunch, and digesting all of those gossip magazines.  I rarely buy magazines but it just sounded like a perfect girls weekend.

IMG_5663Later in the afternoon we got cleaned up, had a perfectly filling Mexican meal (me eating my weight in sugar with a virgin piña colada) and then set out for Scottsdale to explore.

IMG_5668IMG_5671IMG_5666 ^^ Taking a trip down through Scottsdale.  We had heard there were a few hot spots for kids our age but for the life of us, we couldn’t find them!  Not that we didn’t have a good time wandering and exploring the art shops that were still open, or walking along the canal.  I just wouldn’t recommend it for those looking to really “go out” 😉  Of course, three girls who had been up since 4:15 didn’t really need to go clubbing.

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After a couple of hours in Scottsdale, we made our way back to the hub of Tempe and met up with some of Zara’s friends/acquaintances on Mills Ave.  This is THE bar/club scene and yes I really meant to write club scene.  We started a brewery like place called The Handlebar and ended up wandering and dancing our way through quite a few others.  Let’s just say my outfit was totally my style (jeans, jacket, Sperrys) but I did not fit in one bit with the rest of the crowd (booty skirts, obnoxiously high and skinny heels, and crop tops).

IMG_5661I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to post this, just because of the angle of the camera.  Superficial as it may be, but it’s not the most flattering.  But, running a speedy half marathon made me grateful for such a strong body so why not post proof of my few seconds on the mechanical bull.  Bucket list item CHECK.

IMG_5667^^ Oh the party animals that we are 😉 We ended up staying out until 1:45, about 3 or so hours after we normally go to bed.  No regrets, just good times.

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Sunday was spent with a quick breakfast at a local Mom & Pop shop (though we were still full from Saturday) and a walk around Papago Mountain before heading back to the east coast.

IMG_8386 IMG_8401 IMG_8390 ^^ The NP_PHX (November Project Phoenix) location where Zara and crew workout every Wednesday.  It’s actually located a mile or so away from the parking lot and requires you to jog across gravel and rocks – requiring way more dedication for folks to show up!  Apparently it’s also pitch black when they work out, so every member of the tribe shows up with a headlamp.  While I wasn’t able to make it there this week, I did leave my passport shirt with Zara in hopes of getting another tag 🙂

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It would have been wonderful to continue the trip, hike out in Sedona or even make it back to the Grand Canyon or Lake Powell.  But for now, it’s back to reality with the good memories of the weekend and the excitement for future adventures that await.

“Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain