Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Road Trip Part 3: Grand Canyon

After a really scenic drive past Flagstaff, we arrived at the Grand Canyon South Rim. 
Despite booking somewhat late, we lucked out and found a room at the Yavapai Lodge inside the Grand Canyon Village. The room was actually a lot nicer than I expected and it was nice to be right on the bus line.

On our first day, we started at Mather Point and we walked the Trail of Time towards the Bright Angel Lodge. The views were incredible and it was insane how little railing is at the rim! Our tour guide in Sedona told us that there are actually a lot of fatalities every year at the Grand Canyon, but most of them are kept quiet since it's such a tourist destination.  

On our second day at the Grand Canyon, we knew there was a chance of rain so we decided to do a hike first. We decided on the South Kaibab Trail. Hiking to the bottom of the canyon wasn't an option since we weren't camping at the bottom. There are actually signs all over reminding people that over 300 people have to be rescued every year from trying to make it down to the floor and back up in the same day (not surprisingly, it's mostly men between 26-40 years old). 

I was surprised at how thin the trails were and that a lot of it was slippery (due to gravel) with a long drop off. It definitely took a little bit to get comfortable. We hiked down to the 2nd checkpoint (which was about 1.5 hours) before hiking back up to the top of the rim. 
This is one of my favorite pictures from our trip, but was possibly not worth it. Jason was definitely being very risky and a small slip could have been treacherous!

Our little friend who came right up to us on the trail! He was so curious!
After the hike, we drove out to Desert View watchtower.It's a 25 mile drive with stops along the way. The craziest part of the drive was how extreme the weather conditions were. It was sunny and 55 degrees around Grand Canyon Village, but at one point during the drive, the vegetation completely changed. We saw signs that there were panthers in the area and then it started snowing profusely for about 5 miles! When we got to the watchtower, the weather was just like it was at the start of the drive; however, we had snow again on the drive back in the same 5 mile area!

The views of the Colorado River were best from the Desert View stop.
There were Elk everywhere!
For the last part of our night, we took the Hermit's Rest bus route (the shuttles inside the Village are all free and they come every 10-15 minutes). We got off at various stops (Mohave Point and Pima Point were our favorites). We decided to watch the sunset from Mohave Point and it was well worth it (despite the drastic temperature drop)!
We ended the night with pizza and beer at a pub inside one of the lodges. The great part about being at the Grand Canyon for 2 days was that we really got to see everything. If we ever went back, we'd definitely have to do back country hiking and camping.

Now on to the final stretch of our trip: Hoover Dam and Vegas!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Road Trip Part 2: Sedona

After a solid night's sleep in Phoenix (and an amazing spicy buffalo "wing" breakfast burrito), we hit the road towards Sedona. 
Our first stop was at Montezuma Castle, one of the oldest cliff dwellings in the US (dating back to around 700 AD). It's a shame that by the time it was discovered, most of the artifacts had been looted and that people can no longer tour the rooms, but still a really cool experience!

Once we got to Sedona, we decided to do a small hike at the Bell Rock formation. This was our first experience at Sedona's energy vortexes. I can't say that I felt any different although I oddly felt like it was harder to breath!
After the hike, we headed to the Chapel of the Holy Cross to find some great views of the local red rocks. 
We also did a drive to find a good view of the Cathedral rock formation. I even busted out some yoga with a tree pose.
We ate a great lunch at The Field restaurant before heading out for our last hike of the day. We drove down Boyton Pass to Doe Mountain. The surroundings were beautiful, but we never would have imagined the views at the top of the mesa. It was also so magical, because we were the only ones around. We even stopped to make wish rock formation (we have made these all over the world - including Peru, Costa Rica, and Mexico).

Pretty magical, huh?

On our last day, we decided to do the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow tour. Despite being VERY touristy, we actually really enjoyed it. Driving on the rock formations and learning more about the area was really nice. It was also great to have some of the rock formations pointed out to us, because there were definitely some that we would have missed.
We ate at a local vegetarian restaurant, Chocolatree, before heading towards the Grand Canyon. 

Just a heads up, our favorite rock formation was Snoopy Rock. Oddly the best viewing point for Snoopy was from the Starbuck's patio by the Sedona Hyatt shopping area. #livelikelocals

Stay tuned for the Grand Canyon and Nevada recaps!

Surf's Up

Lately I've been daydreaming about surfing...constantly. After mentioning it last week, I've been looking up pictures for inspiration. Until I can get to a beach, maybe I need long board and to just keep doing lots of yoga to build arm strength and core balance! 

Here are some of my favorite finds:

123456, 7

Monday, April 28, 2014

Road Trip Part 1: Arcosanti and Phoenix

Every year my company hosts a large conference for all of our retailer and product partners. For the first time, it was hosted in Phoenix this year. Since J and I had never been to Arizona, we decided to make a road trip out of my work trip to save on my airfare. 

J showed up on the last day of the conference and we immediately headed to In-N-Out for lunch before heading to Arcosanti. I was completely exhausted from all the early morning meetings and late nights during the conference so I was definitely a bit out of it for the first day and may have slept during the drives. Oops!
Arcosanti "is an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. [Their] goal is to actively pursue lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on Paolo Soleri's theory of compact city design,Arcology (architecture + ecology)." We did the tour of the grounds and it was really fascinating to learn that most buildings are oriented southward to capture the Sun's light and heat (the roof designs admit the most amount of sunlight in the winter and minimal amounts during the summer).
People come from all over the world to gain hands-on experience in a variety of fields such as construction, agriculture, archives, architecture and planning, facilities maintenance, or landscaping. About 80 residents live at Arcosanti and the rest are workshop volunteers. Most of the financial support for the project comes from the production of the Soleri Windbells.  The ceramic and bronze bells are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also produce a beautiful sound as they blow in the wind. 
After leaving Arcosanti, we headed back to Phoenix to check into our Airbnb. The small guest house was in such a perfect location and Sky was such a great host. I'd definitely recommend his spot if you're ever in Phoenix. 
Based on Sky's suggestions, we headed to the Roosevelt Row arts district to walk around. We loved all of the street art and met the coolest lady ever, Cole, at her gallery and boutique, greenHAUS. We also grabbed some drinks at The Lost Leaf - super cool atmosphere and they have free, live music 365 days a year! 
Our last stop was Green Vegetarian which was right by our guest house. 
The food was amazing! If you are ever in Phoenix and you are vegetarian/ vegan, then you must eat here. Their spicy buffalo "wings" and vegan ranch sauce were some of the best I've ever had. We even went to their sister restaurant (directly next door), Nami, for breakfast and coffee the next morning. It was that good.
After a long day, I was ready for bed and an early morning drive. 
Next stop - Sedona!
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