The day after I arrived in North Carolina. I flew to Austin to go to Allison's grandmother's 80th surprise birthday party in Austin. We had some fajitas and lots of margaritas! My family was able to attend. You can see the two sisters above who were obviously enjoying their margaritas! After the party some of us took a trip up to the state capitol of Texas. The rotunda was beautiful at night. Ryan was given a Texas history lesson...he didn't know that we had been our own country at one point. Allison and I had to fill him in on what a great state Texas is! Here's a picture of my new roommates with me. I think we make a nice looking threesome! Always fun times had in Austin!
Kellyn came to visit the only time it rained in Phoenix the entire time I was there.
The family came out to visit me for Thanksgiving! Above we were enjoying cocktails before our wonderful dinner at Lon's. Dad seemed to miss being in any of my pictures, but I assure you that he was there for the visit. We went to the Phoenix Zoo for Zoo Lights. They dress up the entire zoo with Christmas lights and even a talking giraffe. It was a fun family experience to put us in the holiday spirit.
A few days before Thanksgiving, my friend Lauren made me hike Camelback Mountain with her. If you've been keeping up with my blog you know about my previous hiking adventure...I wasn't completely thrilled to take on the Camel. So we set out with lots of water. As seen in the picture above we had to climb a sheer rock face, very exciting! There is a railing for on the way down because it's so steep.
The hike was quite challenging with lots of boulders to climb over. We were passed by many, but eventually we made it to the summit! It was a perfect day in Phoenix and the view was wonderful. This mountain sits right in the middle of town. The picture above is a view from Camelback of the mountain I climbed in my first hiking adventure.
Look at Lauren and I, we're so cute and outdoorsy! You may have heard rumors, but yes we were hit on while climbing back down the mountain. The flirtatious gentleman climbed up and down the mountain 4 times in the time it took us to climb up and down once. He told us he had a record of 25 times in one day. These people are crazy!
I have always been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright since I learned about him in grade school. I had the opportunity this weekend to take a tour of Taliesin West here in Scottsdale AZ. This is his winter camp of his architecture school which is still mentoring students 75 years later. It was a beautiful day to take a walking tour and learn about such an interesting person. The above picture is looking at the studio that still has drawing tables that Mr. Wright used himself. It is a working studio with computers for the common day practice of architecture, but all students are still required to draw by hand.
This is the entrance into the community living room. A classic embrace and release entryway of Mr. Wright's, which includes a low dark entryway that transitions into a open multi-purpose space.
A view of some of the seating in the living room. The lighting is all natural and the panels were originally canvas and there was no glass used...so all the structures at the camp were open. The students and faculty stay in AZ in the winter months and go to WI for the summer months where there is the original camp simply named Taliesin. We even got to see the students and faculty at lunch in the dinning room. I highly recommend a tour for anyone who visits the area!
Allison (and Ryan) came to town this past weekend for the races in Phoenix. So I got to play with her for several days! She brought in tow with her the team for the #16 car. These characters supplied endless entertainment; including rubber snakes, water guns, nicknames and stealing alcoholic beverage mementos. Even got to see the whole crew in action during the race sitting at their pit stall. Needless to say I had a blast! I miss my friend and am seriously trying to go to North Carolina for my next assignment. Keep your fingers crossed!
My dad came for a visit and we decided to take the 5 hour drive to Las Vegas to try our luck! We started off HOT! Here's Dad trying his luck at the MGM on some Wheel of Fortune (our favorite slot machine).
Dad and I with the wonderful Tropicana in the background (haha). We went to see Love at the Mirage followed by a classic Vegas buffet. We seemed to lose our luck gambling after the show.
Finished the weekend with a champagne brunch. Cheers! We were happy to make back our money and came out pretty even all in all.
Alyson arrived in Phoenix without difficulty. Our first activity planned for the weekend was a trail ride. When we arrived at the OK Corral, Alyson was first most excited that Bess the barn cat was waiting to greet us. The cat lady was in full swing chasing Bess around the yard and shouting to take her picture. The ride took us around the desert (because everything is a desert here) near the Superstition Mountains. This is the view I had from Whiskey, my horse, of the trail ride and the most well known part of the Superstition Mountains. It was very beautiful and a nice cool morning in the low 70s at 8am. This was my view from behind. Alyson riding Poco, who was a little slow. And my friend Lauren behind her on Love. Love kept biting Poco because he was going to slow. It was a great time and I'm still sore a day later to help me remember. As a side note: I don't remember being this sore when I rode every summer as a kid.
We're getting ready for Alyson's visit. Elsie was helping me do laundry so Alyson would have clean sheets and towels for the weekend. Elsie has a passion for hot towels. I turned away and she climbed in the dryer when I wasn't watching. What a happy girl! Stay tuned for pictures from Alyson's visit.
Here is the traveling crew at the Coyotes hockey game. Going from left to right: Me to start, Lauren (works with me and is from Delaware), Meghan (from WI, works transplant), and Shawn (from MO, works Medical/Surgical ICU). Meghan's roommate works for the Coyotes and got us free tickets! Wayne Gretzky is the coach for the Coyotes. That's the best picture I have of the great one. We were 6 rows up from the ice. Here are the Coyotes themselves. They beat the St. Louis Blues in the end. There were a couple good fights and we had a great time! Wish the game could have gone on longer!
It's that time of year again when an ostrich, a penguin, and a quail must get together. I went to Austin for the weekend to enjoy UT Alumni Weekend. I think we are all much cuter now than any of our composite photos! Trust me...we checked!
We started with some Trudy's margaritas (and dinner too) and then hit 6th Street for a night on the town. That's right everyone...we got the party started on the dance floor!
We had fun without even showing our goodies! Let me tell you...wearing a red shirt on 6th Street will get you lots of attention. Who knew? We had some burgers at Players and stayed to watch the game on Saturday. We had to get milkshakes at halftime to try and cheer ourselves up. It didn't help, as the Longhorns lost the game. We went out for some great Texas barbecue to drown our sorrows. We finished the weekend with a walk down memory lane at the Alpha Xi Delta house. We actually made it to the sorority brunch this year. It was great to be in the house again and visit with everyone. We made one last stop at the Co-op before heading to the airport. It was a great weekend and I can't wait to go again next year! Val & Kathryn thanks for all the fun! Kellyn & Allison you better come next year!
I had my first over-night adventure to Sedona, Arizona. I stayed in a cabin off a narrow winding little highway through Coconino National Forest. The weather the afternoon I arrived was simply perfect in the high 70s/low 80s with a nice cool breeze and sunny skies. My cabin was part of a bed and breakfast and the owners were the nicest couple. They gave me a map and multiple ideas for ways to spend my afternoon.
So my first stop was a beautiful shopping and arts area. A brewery was recommended to me...so that was my first stop. Nothing like a refreshing beer on the perfect day.
I sat on the patio and had the seven dwarfs (7 mini beer steins, as seen in the picture, to taste all their award winning beers). An excellent choice I must say. After the beer I drove around a took in the scenery. Red rocks everywhere! This was taken near a chapel famous in Sedona for being built into the canyon by one of Frank Lloyd Wright's students. Later that night I opted for a prickly pear margarita. Yummy and pink! My trip to Sedona was prompted by wanting to take a hot air balloon ride. I was picked up at 5AM. The desert really does get cool at night it was nice waiting on my patio, quite a change from the blazing valley of Phoenix. There were 5 balloons total to take off. You can see a balloon being inflated in the picture above. As some have heard the balloon I was to ride had a large tear in the top of the balloon. So needless to say I did not get to ride in a hot air balloon. I was very disappointed. p.s. They found the tear before we every left the ground.
A pink jeep tour was recommended to me by some ladies from the hot air balloon fiasco. So I was on my way off-roading by 8AM. This is me standing on Submarine Rock in the middle of a canyon. There was a very nice couple from North Carolina that kept taking my picture for me. I didn't even have to ask...they would just say, "Give me your camera. That's a good picture." I have decided when I retire that I am getting my own jeep to go off-roading. The jeep tour was a great alternative to my aerial tour. I really enjoyed it. We did 45 degree angles and everything! This is me up on Chicken Point towards the bottom of the canyon. It was very windy at this point in the canyon. Needless to say the trip was wonderful even though it didn't go as planned. I recommend that everyone take a trip to Sedona at least once. Apparently the rest of the world likes to visit here in their retirement years. I was one of the minority of young people. Made me feel young and vibrant!
I hiked around and then up Piestewa Peak today. It's about 2,600 feet to the summit. I took a 3.5 mile hike around the mountain and then 1 mile up to the peak and another mile down. It took me a total of 2.5 hours to complete this task. I learned a couple things about myself during my hike. First, I'm more of a forest/woods hiker as apposed to a mountain climber/hiker.
The path is primarily rocky from start to finish as in the photo above. Second, I learned that you should really have a good pair of hiking shoes for this hike and not a pair of tennis shoes as I had. Third, I learned what heat exhaustion feels like. I bit off a little more than I can chew. I started hiking at 8am and the temperature was mostly in the mid to high 90s the entire time. When you get goosebumps in 90 degree heat that is your body's way of saying I've had too much. Once I made it to the top of the summit (1 mile straight up the side of a mountain) at which point I ran out of water (not a good thing)...I could see downtown Phoenix in the distance. See picture above. Let me tell you the glory of the Sonoran desert consists of rocks, cactus, and very little shade. I did see many lizards, some wild hummingbirds, desert ground squirrels, and one cotton tail.
This picture above is showing the parking lot below. If you can see the little black spot down where the road makes a culdisack, that would be my car. When I took the picture I was so ready to be down there with my car. The hike from here to the car is where I thought I might collapse. Don't worry my sister knew where I was and knew I should be checking in when I was finished. She was ready to send out the troops after me. I did pass a park ranger station near the bottom. So I knew if I really couldn't make it I could yell for help. Have no fear...I did make it home without additional help. One cold shower and many glasses of water later I was back to normal. I'm sure my legs will be telling me about it tomorrow. I am proud of myself for finishing, but no more hiking for me as this point.