Jun 022015

Okay maybe that’s a little dramatic, but let me back up. :)


Anna and I had planned on going for a hike while we were in Tucson so she reserved a Zipcar for the day on Monday. We got a little Dunkin Donuts breakfast and coffee (god I adore their iced coffee) and we got the car. It was parked in Zipcar parking at the University so it was a two block walk from the hotel.



We drove to Oro Valley and stopped at Trader Joe’s to grab food for lunch. We planned on doing a hike in Catalina State Park. I did one with my parents last time I was in Arizona. This time we did the Romero Pools Trail. It was classified as “moderate” and sounded like a nice way to spend the day. (I looked up the trail info for more details when I got home and apparently it was 5.6 miles roundtrip to the Pools, over 7 if you do the whole canyon trail. 1000 feet elevation gain.)


It was a lot hotter out on Monday than the rest of our trip. We packed a ton of water and I had one bottle of Gatorade, too. We were definitely well-hydrated, which was good. (Last trip to Arizona my family hadn’t hiked long because we didn’t pack enough water.) Us girls got a later start in the day than ideal but it worked out alright.


We set out on the trail through the wash and the easy, wide part where the horses were. We even saw some horses!



The trail started to go uphill a little. We were blazing a trail in the beginning and as the hike went on, the elevation climbed and the day got hotter we slowed down. There was a part of the trail that had “stairs”, which was nice.


Then the trail started to turn into a rock “scramble”. It wasn’t rock climbing, but there were many, many parts of the trail where it felt kind of like it!


Thankfully most of the trail wasn’t on the edge of a cliff, which is a no-go for me. I felt relatively safe for most of it.



We saw some creatures. Geckos and lots of hummingbirds! Whenever I reached out to use a rock for assistance in the climb I ALWAYS looked first to make sure there weren’t scary or deadly critters waiting to get me. This little guy looked harmless though.



There is something kind of magical about being in the tan, brown, gray desert and all of a sudden seeing splashes of color. The desert flowers that bloom are particularly colorful and pretty!



It was a really popular trail. As we were climbing up, most of the people we saw were heading down the trail. Whenever we found shade (which wasn’t very often) we took advantage of it and took a break. We stopped often for water breaks, too.


I was wearing the sunshirt I bought in Maui and wearing lots of sunscreen! Thankfully neither of us got too burned on the hike and re-applied sunscreen several times.


We seemed to be near the top of the ridge. We asked a few hikers if we were close to the pools. We got different answers from everyone. Some people said we were almost there and it was worth the hike. Some said we were halfway! Some said it was another 15 minutes…well, we finally arrived at the top and then the trail went downhill.

Then we were at the pools!



The secluded canyon had a lot of shady areas, which was nice, and there was a cool breeze that felt wonderful! Here is the calorie count for the hike up:


We set up our picnic lunch in the shade on the rocks and relaxed. Lunch was courtesy of Trader Joe’s: a small loaf of Asiago and black pepper bread, sliced Gouda cheese, sugar snap peas and Rainier cherries. It was the perfect lunch!



After relaxing, cooling off and eating lunch, we explored the pools a little bit. I really wished I’d brought my swim suit! It looked like a wonderful place to cool off.


We decided it was time to head back down. It was getting hotter in the day and would soon be the peak. We had enough water to last us the hike down, so that was good. I never felt dehydrated, also good.


We hiked back up to the top of the ridge. Then started to come down the trail.

Then I stopped.

And took two steps backwards.


Anna was behind me and said “OH MY GOD IS THAT A SNAKE?!”

Um, yes, yes it is a snake. And it’s a big one.

So I’m gonna just stand back here and let him pass by his merry way and not bother him.


I let the snake slither across the trail (it was moving VERY slowly) and took a photo of it. Thank goodness for zoom lenses because eff that! I’m not getting close to that thing. But I wasn’t going to make any sudden movements, either. So I just stood there and waited. Once it was in the brush I decided it was okay and I ran (leaped) down the trail past the snake and then coaxed Anna to follow. She freaked out a bit and then followed.

Further down the trail we came across some other hikers who asked if we’d seen a snake. Apparently they’d heard Anna’s screams. :)

Here is Anna before the SNAKE INCIDENT:


Carefree and happy…It was definitely a heart-pounding experience. I don’t know what kind of snake it was. I wasn’t looking too closely. I showed the picture to a friend later who’s local and she thought it was a Diamondback but I’m not sure. I don’t recall if I saw rattler at the end of it. I wasn’t looking too closely.

OKAY. Ready to exhale now.


The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful. It was kind of harder to go down the mountain, honestly. My knees were doing okay, but I had to take some very long, high steps to climb down. I pulled my thigh muscle a little bit but didn’t hurt it too much, thankfully, and there was no lasting injury. Both of us were experiencing shaky legs as we climbed down.


There were many spots where it was just safer and easier for me to sit down on my butt on the rock and slide down to get sure footing. I’m surprised at how long it took us and how many calories I burned climbing back down the mountain–nearly the same number as the hike up!


Finally we were off the mountain and back to the wash, then the parking lot. We high-fived and congratulated each other on NOT dying and then we guzzled some water in the car. On the drive back to the hotel we made a stop at In-n-Out for the most amazing milkshakes ever. It was so tasty and cold after being in the hot hot sun (91 degrees) for four hours. (I’m kicking myself for not getting a burger at In-n-Out).


After cleaning up after the hike we met a friend of Anna’s from the Peacecorp. He saw some of her Facebook posts and they arranged a meeting. We met them at Thunder Canyon Brewery for happy hour and had honestly the worst food I’ve ever had. It was truly atrocious (and it made me kick myself even harder for not getting In-n-Out!!!). But the company was fantastic and it was fun meeting him and his girlfriend.


Anna and I flew home to Oregon on Tuesday mid-day, feeling refreshed and happy and sunkissed and both wishing we didn’t have to go back to reality. It was a fantastic trip and I had so much fun. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the desert a little bit!

Jun 012015

I left off with Anna and I lounging like lizards by the pool. It was blissful! I needed some relaxing time and some sunshine. I love the desert…

We cleaned up and got ready for the wedding and took the street car downtown. The wedding was at the Z Mansion. It was such a cool building! (When we got there we explored a little bit and there were secret passageways and all sorts of neat things.)



There wasn’t much around there and we hadn’t eaten lunch (the vodka and pineapple didn’t count LOL). We wanted a snack so we ended up going to a Mexican restaurant across the street and sharing a snack of guacamole and chips and a quesadilla.


Then it was time for the event! We hung out and explored the mansion a little bit during cocktail hour.


I LOVED the wallpaper. I wonder if Michael will let me do this to our house…..? I know I just remodeled my bathroom but now I wish I had peacocks on the wall…



The wedding was outside in the backyard. It was an intimate wedding under the trees that were decorated with fairy lights. There was a gazebo and a fountain. The colors were a creamy ivory and sage green. I loved the colors.


Christine looked gorgeous! Her dress was simple and looked breezy and comfortable (and perfect for a hot Arizona day). Everything looked magical. I was so happy for the couple!



She walked down the stairs and then her dad met her and walked her down the aisle. Christine and Jeremy had a very sweet, romantic and unique wedding ceremony. They each talked a little about how they met and it was funny! I was so impressed they were able to like have SPEECHES! And an ACT! Michael and I wrote our ceremony and vows so that our friend Star was the one saying everything and we just said “I Do” because we both knew we wouldn’t be able to talk much up there.



It was very romantic and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house–even Anna who didn’t know the couple was bawling her eyes out. LOL

After the ceremony they got group pictures of all the guests and then we all kind of hung around by the bar area while we waited for the tables to be set up.



Anna and I won the lottery with the table. Table 8 ruled! We made lots of new friends and had a blast!


There was drinking, dancing, food, lots of laughing.


They had anyone who wanted to come up and give a speech. Apparently I’d had just enough wine to feel bold enough to go up there. Eeeek! Had I known this was happening I would have written something but I went up there, heart pounding, and winged it.

I think my speech started off with… “Picture gray, rainy Seattle…it’s the 90’s. I’m obsessed with Nirvana and Christine is obsessed with Soundgarden. I think we both have braces and are beyond awkward…” And then Christine jumped in and said yes, and something to the effect of still being awkward (truth). I talked a little about how I met Christine in middle school and said some nice things about her and then of course, Jeremy, her new hubby, I had to comment on his excellent taste in beer. I was told later the speech was ok. I was so nervous I don’t remember much!


We stayed pretty late and danced into the night with Awesome Table 8 (Anna suggested we have a 10 Year Table 8 Reunion) and then we walked back to the street car and headed to the hotel. It was a great wedding!


We slept in and decided on having a very leisurely day. We got breakfast at Dunken Donuts (across the street from our hotel). I love DD!! The iced coffee is amazing. And I love how quick and easy, low-calorie and delicious the breakfast sandwiches were. That became our breakfast norm.


Then we took the street car back to 4th Street so we could finish our sightseeing and shopping and then we checked out the University Campus.



Lunch was Mexican food at B-Line, a cute bistro with delicious food. I got the Carne Asada tacos. It was just the right amount of food and really tasty. Another place I’d recommend if you visit Tucson.


After that more walking, more shopping, and then back to the hotel to spend the day by the pool. I finished reading my book and started the next one, took a nap, relaxed. It was lovely! I FaceTimed with Michael and Bella by the pool. :)


I had some time to kill before dinner so I ended up going to the hotel gym for another quick elliptical workout.


Dinner was at Hub. We cleaned up and took the streetcar back downtown. The place was huge and packed! But we got a table immediately. We got tasty beverages.



And I ordered the Veggie Burger. It was a Chipotle black bean patty with roasted red pepper aioli on a delicious brioche bun. I got a salad instead of fries. The whole meal was fantastic! I was really impressed with the food and the vibe was pretty cool.


It had high ceilings, exposed brick walls, cool decorations and apparently they are known for their ice cream because there was a huge setup for that too. Sadly, we had to skip the ice cream because we wanted to make the last train of the night back to the hotel. We could have walked it but…we didn’t want to! So we hustled back to the train. I think on Sundays they stop running at 8pm. It was a really perfect day and I happily fell asleep early and slept like the dead.