Friday, November 18, 2011

Lakeshore Restaurant at Saguaro Lake

The view from the Lakeshore Restaurant, which overlooks Saguaro Lake, is lovely.

Sit on the patio on the warmer days to take in the sights as you dine. Warning: You'll notice lots of hungry birds.

If you'd like to see more, consider a Desert Belle boat cruise. Last year I found a Deal Chicken offer for two for about $24 including one drink per person. It's a leisurely way to spend an afternoon. The boat approaches the lake's towering cliffs for incredible views, and we even spotted an eagle perched overhead.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My first half: 3TV Phoenix 10K and Half Marathon

If someone would have told me two years ago I would go on to run a half marathon I wouldn't have believed it. I detested running. It's hard. But last year I adjusted my attitude and signed up for Pat's Run, mostly to force myself to get some exercise after sitting in a cubicle most of my week. The thrill of racing with thousands of others lured me in, and I kept it up. After successfully completing a 10K in March and somehow staying motivated enough to run in oven that is Phoenix in the summer, I moved on to my next challenge: conquering a half marathon.
I signed up for the 3TV Phoenix 10K and Half Marathon in August, with some encouragement from my boyfriend. With the e-mail confirmation and the $80 payment, it became real. I researched 12-week running plans online and found one that worked for my schedule. For the most part, I stayed on track, with the exception of my week in Maui. (What a wasted opportunity not running in Maui was.)
The week of the race I picked my race packet up from Runner's Den near 16th Street and Bethany Home Road. The "packet" was the T-shirt, race bib with timer and some promotional cards, unlike other races I ran that included more swag.
Then came the morning of the race.  I was nervous to the point of being nauseous. On the plus side, the half marathon was in its first year, so the course was not as populated as it appeared to be during the 10K. Toward the end of the course, though, I ran into 10K runners headed in the opposite direction, and they crowded much of my side of the course. It didn't bother me much, but I heard some other runners complain. Overall I liked starting at CityScape and finishing by heading south down Central Avenue.
Once I started running I realized it was no different than my training runs, until I hit Mile 10. That's when my hips and knee started to ache, but I incessantly repeated "You're almost done!" until the finish. It felt so good to finish within my goal of under 10 minutes per mile, or 2:10:41. What an accomplishment for someone who could barely muster the energy to run 1 mile a couple of years ago.

Another plus of the race not being so crowded was being frequently photographed along the course. There were six photos of me available to purchase.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Slide Rock State Park

Can you believe I've lived in Arizona my entire life and had never been to Slide Rock before last week? I crossed another Arizona destination off my list with a visit to this popular landmark, which was teeming with visitors, so many that each car had to wait until a car exited the parking lot to enter. (It didn't take long, maybe about 10 minutes.)

I even cliff-jumped (scary):

Cliff-jumping was a popular activity that day, and while it seemed like a good idea at the time, I hurt myself in the process. For a week I had pain in my chest and ribs --enough that I saw a doctor.  I clearly have not mastered the art of the the cliff jump. Please be careful if you partake.

Things I wish I had known before I went to Slide Rock State Park:
  • Parking costs $20, and when it's crowded, you must wait for a car to leave. Visa debit cards are accepted.
  • The place is packed on weekends, so avoid it if you can.
  • Be careful cliff-jumping!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hiking Humphreys Trail to highest point in Arizona

It took about 8 hours, but I felt so accomplished for making it to the summit of Humphreys Peak.

Bring enough water and food, along with a sweatshirt or jacket, even in the summer. While the temperature was mild at the base, it's windy as you ascend.
The trail starts at the entrance to Snowbowl.  
It's a 4.8-mile hike to the summit. 

Notice the elevation change on your Humphreys Trail hike.
We took a break upon reaching the saddle to have lunch. We spotted some snow that hadn't yet melted.
At last, we reached the Humphreys Peak summit.

If you make the hike, be sure to leave some in the time capsule for fellow hikers to enjoy. We also signed our names in the guestbook to document our efforts. 

Take your time and soak in the views from the top. Face north and you might spot the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain

Cholla Trail is what I call the easy side of Camelback Mountain. Easy is probably the wrong term, because the trail offers a hearty workout, though compared with Echo Canyon it's a walk in the park. I often hike here when I don't want to deal with finding parking on the "good side," or when I hike with friends who aren't sure they can make it to the top.

On the plus side, parking is much easier to find. Drive east on Camelback Road to Invergordon Road, turn north, and parallel park anywhere alongside the resort. Beware of parking in a residential area where you could get a ticket, though. Then walk to Cholla Lane, through the neighborhood and to the trailhead. 

You'll see a golf course near the trailhead.
As you ascend, you'll see surrounding homes and resorts.
Whether you hike Echo Canyon or Cholla Trail, you'll be rewarded with the same city views at the top.
You might spot some wildlife, too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Final spring-training game of the year at Surprise Stadium

We wanted to spread the love among as many spring-training facilities as possible, so my companions and I chose to watch the Kansas City Royals play the Chicago White Sox at Surprise Stadium today. While it's quite a drive from the Tempe area, it's a nice stadium and, unlike other venues, parking is free. I was also pleased to find that lawn tickets were $7 instead of $8. The lawn section was the least crowded of all the games I attended this year.

Next year, I'd like to try this deal:

It was a nice day overall, despite the disappointment of not winning the 50-50 raffle. Someday!

The moral of the story is that no matter what spring-training stadium you choose, March weather, food, drinks and baseball will ensure a good time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My favorite place for late-night grub: Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe

I usually order the Thai hummus ($7.50), but this night I opted for the spinach and artichoke dip ($9), which comes with tortilla chips and pita bread.
 Also delicious is the turkey club sandwich ($9) on marble rye bread.You can get it with pasta salad or fries.
Find the full menu here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring training: D-Backs vs. Angels

Today we watched the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Los Angeles Angels at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. We did not plan ahead, there were only two afternoon games today and it's spring break. The result: We paid a man $20 each for lawn tickets to the sold-out game. But with temperatures in the 80s and lots of sunshine ... we had no choice. ;)
View from the top of the lawn
Angels players leaving the field

Hohokam Stadium

This time my spring-training buddies and I went to Hohokam Stadium to watch the Chicago Cubs play against the Colorado Rockies.

This stadium, while it looked older than the others, drew much bigger crowds than other Cactus League venues I've seen. And lawn seats were only $8.

I tried some Island Noodles with teriyaki chicken.

Final score: Rockies 4, Cubs 2.

The only downside to the day was waiting too long to exit the parking area (grass, not an actual lot) outside the stadium. Plus parking isn't free, like at some other facilities.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New D-Backs, Rockies stadium: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Seattle Mariners (March 2)
View from Section 121

Things you should know:
  • Parking is $5.
  • Programs are $1.
  • There are Chase ATMs inside. 
  • Food carts are cash-only, but concession stands take credit cards.
  • Free sunscreen is available near lawn areas.
More information: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

    Spring training at Camelback Ranch Glendale

    White Sox vs. Milwaukee Brewers (March 1)

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Taco stand outside Charlie's nightclub in Phoenix

    After my birthday celebration, I was taken to what I was told was the best taco stand in Phoenix. I wasn't disappointed.

    Of course I didn't pay for my own meal on my birthday, but I believe you can get tacos for $1.
    The family sets up most weekend nights. I was there around 3 a.m. on a Thursday night. Affordable, delicious and convenient! Foursquare and Yelp (under the entry for Charlie's) have plenty of reviews and more information than I can offer.

    Have you tried them?