The Year 2013: A Review

Hi friends,

Well it’s that time of year again — the one where everyone takes a couple minutes to take stock of how the past 12 months have gone? This year has been a particularly important one for myself and Chris. It was our first year of married life. It was a year spent celebrating our marriage around the world with family and friends. It was a year that we made some pretty big decisions about our future (not yet shared here!), and one that had a lot of amazing traveling in it …

Continue reading “The Year 2013: A Review”

Our Final Day in Arizona

Hi Friends,

So back to our last day in Arizona, which was last Saturday. (We caught the red eye home. There’s a story about that, too!)

We woke up around 7:30 a.m. all prepared for a hike up the Cholla Trail on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. Mina, however, had come home from her early morning run with her running club and was a bit worried. Everyone was telling her she was crazy, she said, that it was way too hot to take us out for a hike on that mountain … that surely it wasn’t a good idea.

Looking back at this now, I think it’s funny that I didn’t pay attention to their warnings. I mean … I HATE hot weather! I’ve never pretended that I like it. I do nothing but complain about it. Not liking something and allowing that to stop you from doing something are two different things, though, and I scoffed with Chris and Mina at the thought. “We’ll be totally fine!” I laughed.

Boy was I wrong. But I’ll get to that.

Anyway, we stopped off at the Gilbert Farmer’s Market in the morning to grab breakfast before we headed out. This allowed me to take some photos of the cute downtown area, as well:







So that’s the downtown Gilbert area in a nutshell. I thought it was very cute, and all the people we met seemed to be super friendly. I give it an A+.

After our breakfast it was on to Scottsdale for this doomed-from-the-start hike. I think I need to not make a big deal out of what happened, because honestly it could have been a lot worse, and I think I caught it in just enough time before that happened. Essentially the hike is about 1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles back, so all in all, not too long of a hike. However, by the time we started at 10 in the morning, it was already 100 degrees outside.

Me no likey .. to say the least. The second we stepped out of the car I felt like I had been punched in the face by a heater. Dry heat, my you-know-what. It’s a myth, to me at least, that dry heat makes anything better.

But I digress. So as we started into this journey of ours, I was perfectly fine. I was taking it slow, stopping along the way to snap photos of our beautiful surroundings:










Then, suddenly, at about 15-20 minutes into our (strenuous, if you ask me!) hike, I started to feel it. To be honest, I can’t even really describe to you what it was, exactly. I felt like someone had hit the ‘off’ switch to my body, and I simply could not go any farther.

Now if you know me, friends, you’ll know that I don’t like to give up. I’m competitive and stubborn (annoyingly so, some times), and throwing in the towel less than halfway through this hike is pretty much the last thing I wanted to do.

Which is why I knew something was really wrong … because that’s exactly what I did. Realizing that we had quite a while to go still in this upwards climb, I knew that there was no way that even if I made it to the top (which to be honest was highly unlikely), there was no way in hell I’d be making it back down. My legs were shaking. I felt like I couldn’t even be bothered to talk I was so exhausted.

And so we turned back around. And just as quickly as we started our last hike in Arizona, I ended it. Chris, in all of his loving husbandness, offered to run (RUN! In 100+ weather! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is), back to the car, turn it on, blast the air and drive to pick us up. The next stop on our list for that day was Mina’s parents’ house for lunch, and I laid in the back seat of Mina’s car for the 20+ minute drive there, just doing everything I could to cool down.

By the time we arrived at her parents’ house, I was starting to feel a bit better, but I have to say that I think that’s really because I made us stop as soon as I started to feel evenly remotely off. I never felt nauseous, or got a headache, it was just that my body felt physically unable to move anymore.

I suppose it could have been much worse, right?

Besides that bit of scariness, we ended up having a lovely rest of the day. Mina’s parents are Persian, and they cooked us the most delicious lunch. Then we went back to Mina’s place and hung out in the pool a bit, before heading out to Nando’s Mexican Cafe to have the final couple margaritas of our trip. (Oh, and a tequila shot, of course!)

Spending only two full days in Arizona felt like a bit of a jip, to be honest, but at the same time we managed to cram quite a bit in. Mina and I would love to do a little elementary school reunion of sorts in Arizona next year with a couple other of our close friends. Maybe do the Grand Canyon, or Fossil Creek, which was closed while we were there this time because of fire hazards.

And that was it, my friends …. the end of our little getaway! It was short but sweet (except for the heat exhaustion thing!), and we’d love to make it back some time soon for more hiking adventures.

Oh and so about the flights. Randomly, and for reasons that were never explained to us, Chris and I were upgraded to first class on our red eye back! It was sort of a waste of first class seats, since we pretty much slept the entire time … but still, I’ll take it! I’ve never slept more comfortably on a flight in my life! Maybe, finger’s crossed, this will happen to us on our trip to Australia in September?

What? It could happen ….

July 4 2013: Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona

View from our hike on our last day.
View from our hike on our last day.

Hi friends!

The few days since Chris and I got back from our trip have been a bit crazy, but I really wanted to take some time to post thoughts from our trip as soon as possible. So without further adieu, last Wednesday Chris and I were in a cab and off to La Guardia to catch our flight …

Continue reading “July 4 2013: Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona”

Arizona In Instagram Pics

Hi friends!

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend! For reasons that I will go into in more detail in my full trip post, I ended up taking the majority of my photos on this trip with my iPhone … which of course meant posting them directly to Instagram.

So I figured I’d just post a quick preview of things to come in my full-on post by uploading all of the Instagram pics here. But before I do that, just some highlights from our trip:

  • We spent 12 hours in Charlotte after missing our connecting flight to Phoenix because of rain delays, but that’s okay because we got to eat a wonderful brunch and check out the downtown area because of it.
  • We went on amazing hikes, ate delicious food and drank lots of tequila.
  • I experienced a slight case of heat exhaustion … not fun, my friends! And after all that research I did to avoid it!
  • We did lots of swimming in my friend’s pool.
  • We were randomly, and for reasons still unknown to us, upgraded to first class seats on our flight back from Phoenix. Not too shabby!

Here’s a taste of what’s to come …

^^Rain made things pretty, but is not optimal for flying.
^^Rain made things pretty, but is not optimal for flying.
^^Bloody Mary's in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.
^^Bloody Mary’s in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.
^^Biscuits and grits. This is Charlotte.
^^Biscuits and grits. This is Charlotte.
^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.
^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.
^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.
^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.
^^Welcome to Sedona!!
^^Welcome to Sedona!!
^^Porous shoes on a 7-mile hike = lots of stopping to empty them out.
^^Porous shoes on a 7-mile hike = lots of stopping to empty them out.
^^Sedona hike--unbelievable.
^^Sedona hike–unbelievable.
^^Man and wilderness.
^^Man and wilderness.
^^Downtown Sedona.
^^Downtown Sedona.
^^Canyon Breeze views.
^^Canyon Breeze views.
^^Spinach enchilada with a mango margarita.
^^Spinach enchilada with a mango margarita.
^^Bye-bye Sedona. It's been real.
^^Bye-bye Sedona. It’s been real.
^^Gilbert Farmer's Market.
^^Gilbert Farmer’s Market.
^^Vegan quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberry scone and iced coffee.
^^Vegan quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberry scone and iced coffee.
^^99 degrees? Check. I will be hiking to the top of this mountain. Wish me luck. (Hint: this is where the heat exhaustion came into play... duh duh duhhhh!)
^^99 degrees? Check. I will be hiking to the top of this mountain. Wish me luck. (Hint: this is where the heat exhaustion came into play… duh duh duhhhh!)
^^View from about 1/4 mile up Cholla Hike, Scottsdale.
^^View from about 1/4 mile up Cholla Hike, Scottsdale.
^^Cheers to you, Arizona!
^^Cheers to you, Arizona!
^^Who got a free upgrade to first class on the way home? This guy! (And the gal he was with!)
^^Who got a free upgrade to first class on the way home? This guy! (And the gal he was with!)

So that’s it for now, my friends! I’ll be back soon with the full details of our (amazing and very hot!) trip.

Bis bald!

A Slight Change in Plans …


As Chris and I get ready to head to Arizona tomorrow, our travel plans are slightly dampened by the news that 19 firefighters died in Arizona on Sunday while fighting a fierce fire outside of Yarnell. As the NY Times reported, the loss of these heroic men was the greatest for firefighters in a single disaster since September 11.

It’s so sad.

Fire is a fact of life in dry, arid climates like Arizona, as Chris and I are coming to learn in the days leading up to our trip. If I wasn’t already slightly worried about the fact that we’re heading to Arizona in what may very well be one of the hottest weeks they’ve seen in a long time (yikes excessive heat warning and 100 degree + temps!!!), a text from my friend who we’ll be visiting put me ever-so-slightly-more on edge:

“They’ve closed fossil creek due to extreme fire hazards. It’s hot and hasn’t rained in a while. I’m going to look into a couple of other hiking areas in the Sedona area.”

She followed up quickly with a note that we’ll try heading to Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock, but I’m already on full alert. I’m still looking forward to the trip, don’t get me wrong, but I just thought it wise to perhaps do a bit of research ahead of time regarding staying hydrated and healthy while exercising (aka hiking) in 100 degree + heat. Here’s some of what I’ve found:

  • For starters, it’s important to know and be able to recognize signs of heat exhaustion, which include general fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps and an increase in body temps. As WebMD reports, temps above 104, combined with an inability to sweat, acute respiratory distress and loss of consciousness can be signs of heat stroke, which is much more serious than heat exhaustion.
  • Experts suggest drinking 20 ounces of water two hours before exercising, at least 8 ounces of water shortly before going outside in the heat, and gulping water every 15 to 20 minutes during the exercise. You should also be sure to drink fluids throughout the day as a precaution.
  • Perhaps most importantly (and something I will continue to convey to Chris) is it’s important to be okay with being slower when temps get this high.
  • Wear lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat, and wear light colors that reflect the sun, not attract it. If you’ll be wearing a helmet (or in our case, a hat), remove it during times of rest to allow your head to breathe and cool off.

My friend’s already told us she’s taken care of the sunscreen and the bladders, and she’s a seasoned hiker in the Arizona heat who I trust to keep us safe while we’re en route.

But trust me, I’ll be on guard the whole time we’re at it … it only makes sense to be as smart as possible when it comes to heat and your health.

Okay friends–wish us luck! It’ll be an adventure (and quite interesting!) for sure! I’ll be back next week with what I’m sure will be amazing photos.

Bis bald!

Making the Most of Summer … Starting With a Trip to Arizona!

Hello Fossil Creek Canyon! I think I will visit you, thank you very much ...
Hello Fossil Creek Canyon! I think I will visit you, thank you very much …

Hi friends!

Welcome officially to summer! I must admit something that I realize makes me relatively unpopular — I normally hate the summer. (My husband is either laughing or shaking his head right now. We have a running joke that he’s going to count the number of times I complain about summer this summer. If you’re reading this husband: This doesn’t count …)

I know, I know. Summer means visits to the beach and sleeping under the stars and spending hours outside in the sun. Problem is … when you live in New York City, it can be hard to fill your summer days with these activities, and if you instead end up spending most of those summer days within the confines of this concrete jungle (Jay-Z’s words, not mine), those days are actually nothing short of hot, sweaty and stinky.

I’m sorry, but it’s true. I have no illusions of what the city is like in the summer.

So my solution to my souring mood in the summer is to plan lots of exciting trips for this year. Next weekend my sister and I are heading to Bradley Beach while my sister-in-law (who’s visiting with her boyfriend from Australia … a wahoooo!!!) are in Boston, and then Chris and I fly out to Arizona to visit an old friend of mine for the long July 4th weekend.

In fact, said friend just sent me and Chris the itinerary for our trip. It includes a 4 a.m. wake-up call on July 4th so she and Chris can run this race, followed by a barbecue and swimming and lounging about with drinks in-hand. Then on Friday we’ll be heading to Strawberry, AZ, to hike Fossil Creek Canyon. I’m beyond excited for this outing … I just hope I can keep up with those two, who are, let’s say, slightly more in shape than I happen to be at the moment. Dinner Friday night will be in Old Town Scottsdale, which sounds lovely as well.

Needless to say, starting the summer out with some trips planned outside of the city makes me able to look forward to this season a bit more than I have in past years.

And speaking of trips … Chris and I have started working on what could potentially be some very exciting travel news in the upcoming months. I’m not going to share here just yet, since we’re only in the very beginning stages of planning, but let’s just say … I really, really hope we can make it all work! Promise to share more details as soon as we know more about what we’re actually doing.

Okay bis bald, friends! Hope you all have some amazingly fun plans for the summer, as well!

Photo courtesy of turnuptherad

P.S. Isn’t the tune for the Jersey Shore ads quite catchy? I kind of love it–go visit the Jersey Shore!

Arizona Here We Come! (In 27 Days ….)

I received a text from my friend in Arizona who we’ll be visiting over July 4th weekend yesterday that said: “Starting to plan our trip now … can’t wait!”

I seriously cannot wait. I’ve heard so many great things about the area, and my friend really loves hiking and camping, so I’m sure she’ll take us to some pretty fun places. I mean look at this:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 6.16.18 PM

Can you even take it?

Do you guys have any fun plans for July 4th weekend? (Yes, I’m aware of the fact that it’s barely June 4th, but a gal can dream, can’t she?!)

Bis bald!

The Excitement of Upcoming Travel

Hi friends!

Well we’re firmly into the second quarter of 2013 here, and it’s time for me to start getting excited about some of the trips we have planned for the rest of the year.

So let’s see. For starters, my in-laws will be making their way to the U.S. the week after next, and Chris and I will be heading to London with them to watch Chris run the London Marathon:

100_6027^^A little flashback to when Steph and I first visited London back in 2010

Then, Chris and I booked a trip out to Arizona to visit an old friend of mine for the weekend of July 4th. Neither one of us has been before, so we’re super excited. We’re going to go camping and hiking, and visit Lake Powell and Havasu Falls:


September will be a big month for us, too. We’ll be heading to Australia to celebrate our wedding with Chris’s side of the family, and then taking a couple-day honeymoon to The Great Barrier Reef:


^^A little memory from our last trip to Australia (written about here and here). That’s Shawn the Koala, the subject of my soon-to-written children’s book series. Seriously. It’s coming.

There will be another trip in September two weekends before Australia, but that’s super secret for now, as it’s a surprise trip in honor of Chris’s 30th birthday. Let’s just say—I’m super excited about it!

And that’s about it (for now)! Bis bald, friends! I’ll catch up with you again super soon …