Shaking Off The Mold

Arizona Vacation – Day One

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la …

Let me preface all of these posts by re-iterating that I am an Irish girl born and raised in the Pacific Northwest with pasty white skin. All of my vacation photos will be blinding. I apologize in advance. 😉

Catalina Park

Michael and I flew from the moldy, rainy, gray Pacific NW into Phoenix where my parents picked us up and drove to Oro Valley. This photos was Michael and I grabbing a beer in the Portland airport before our flight (at Gustav’s Restaurant).


My dad retired this year and decided to rent a house from a friend for 2 months. Escaping the Seattle drizzle. Wise move, Dad, wise move. I have to say that this vacation was by far one of the funnest I’ve been on–ranking right up there with London and Chicago. On Wednesday morning I awoke in the warm desert (far from the bone-chill) ready to get THIS VACATION STARTED! Woot!

That photo was the backyard of the house my dad rented: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with a pool and hot tub. The pool wasn’t big enough for me to swim my laps in but I imagine it’s a refreshing thing to have when the temperatures reach 100 degrees!

The four of us ate scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast before we headed down the road to Catalina State Park for the first hike of the vacation. It was the middle of the week so it wasn’t very crowded. I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up. There were a lot of factors: my IT Band, my recent chest costochondritis BS…the elevation (2600 feet compared to Sea Level where I spend all my time). But everything held up.

Catalina Park

We hiked for about an hour and a half and did about 3 miles. It was a nice hike through the washes, up some hills (nothing compared to the NW) and it was a pretty easy hike.

It was cool seeing all the cacti up close. I don’t know why but I really think cacti are beautiful. I love how green, stark and romantic they are. I took hundreds of photos of the different cacti but I will spare my dear readers the monotony of those. 🙂

Catalina Park

Lots of Critters!!

After our hike we went back to the house for lunch and then headed into Tucson. Oro Valley is about a 12 mile drive from Tucson. That first day the temperatures in Tucson reached 93 degrees. It wasn’t miserable though. Which surprised me because anything over 80 in Portland is uncomfortable. Humidity I guess….?

We drove around downtown Tucson a bit, did a walking tour around downtown to see the courthouse and other city landmarks.


Then we saw the San Xavier Mission.

San Xavier

As a recovering Catholic who shuns all formalized religion for my own brand of hippie-worship, I can’t say that I was excited to see a church. In my teen rebel years I would have been defiant about visiting but I have to say that the Mission was an amazing, impressive piece of art. Take the religion out of it and it’s a beautiful specimen of architecture.

San Xavier

The Mission is on Indian land. There were Native Americans with stands set up selling Indian Fry Bread. I’ve had Fry Bread a few times before and this was by far the best I’ve tried. We all shared the fry bread with honey and it was decadent.

The Mission itself is gorgeous. Inside it’s rustic and takes you back to a simpler time. It was quite the enjoyable experience.

The Mission

Despite the 90+ degree weather, I wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, we were having a great time. I was diligent about sunscreen and making sure I was constantly drinking water.


Since we were downtown and it was reaching dinner time, a quick Google search with my iPhone brought us to the Old Pueblo Grille.


My mission for this vacation was to eat “authentic food.” I love eating whatever the local cuisine is. I wanted REAL Mexican food and REAL Southwestern food. The Old Pueblo Grill was delicious Southwestern food.

Michael and I both ordered the local brew and I enjoyed it a lot too. I ordered the Copperhead Pale Ale and liked it a lot.

They brought these spicy cornbread muffins to the table as an appetizer. Delicious.


I got the Pollo Asada dish that came with half a chicken and the fixings to make tacos with it — plus spicy Mac n’ cheese. Oh. My. God.

The chicken was tender and not dry, with a heaven-sent smokey flavor that you can’t replicate on a BBQ. I don’t know what they did to it but it was by far the best food of the trip.

Michael and I were exhausted by the time we got back to the house. Good food, stuffed belly, full day of activities = crash into instant sleep.

QUESTION: Have you ever been to Arizona? What did you think of it? What was your favorite thing to see?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

10 thoughts on “Shaking Off The Mold”

  1. In college I dated a guy from Phoenix and when I visited I was obsessed with the cacti! I think growing up in the NW (I’m a native Washingtonian like you) will do that.

    I am jealous of the sun. Very very jealous. We kept putting off planning a vacation and now instead we’re remodeling. not as fun!

  2. That looks so nice since we are getting snow today! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

    The closest I have ever gotten to AZ was living in Colorado and driving to Utah one year. Not really that close LOL!

    1. Colorado and Utah are on my list! I am DYING to go hiking in those areas!

      If it makes you feel any better, Lori, I thought of you in Tucson. I saw so many bikers and I thought “Lori would love cycling here!”

  3. I live here! Tucson is awesome, make sure you go to Sabino Canyon and hike the 7 falls trail. It’s long, but worth it. Food wise? Guadalajara Grill has amazing mexican food and they make your salsa table side! The desert museum is also a cool attraction.

    1. Laura–what part of town do you live in? We were staying in Oro Valley. I LOVED Tucson. I loved the hiking too. We did Sabino Canyon (I’ll write more about that later). It was a great hike.

      I wish we could have tried that restaurant or the seen the museum. We just ran out of time. 🙁

      1. I live centrally- which is nice because I am 15-20 minutes away from all the state parks! I’m glad you enjoyed it here, it was great weather for a vacation!

        1. We had a wonderful time. I bet it’s nice being so close to all the parks. I was impressed with how many Arizona had. Plus they were nice and well-kept. If I had more time we would have done Catalina Park again–the Romero Trail. And I would have tried trail running!

  4. Lisa-

    That vacation looks amazing! I could definitely use some warm, sunny weather right about now! Utah gets into the 90s and 100s during the summer, but it is not uncomfortable (unless you’re running!) because there isn’t much humidity. I’m grateful for that!

    Welcome back!

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