Friday, May 29, 2009

Whirlwind Tour of AZ

We had originally planned to blog while Steven's parents were here, but that did not happen. They arrived on Tuesday afternoon after driving across country on I-40. Ironically, the night before they arrived, we had a monsoon like storm blow through the area. Despite sudden clouds and coolness, we began a whirlwind tour of Arizona.

Wednesday began with a drive up South Mountain to Dobbins Lookout and then to the top where the TV towers are. When then drove down the mountain and right down Central through Downtown Phoenix to give them a quick tour. We continued on to Camelback Mountain and then Scottsdale. We took some time to walk around Papago Park where Hunt's Tomb and to the Hole in the Rock. Finally, dinner was at our favorite seafood restaurant, Pacific Seafood.

Thursday we took the light rail to campus and we gave them a tour of ASU and had lunch on Mill Ave in Tempe. We then took the light rail to the Downtown Campus and walked back to the Arizona Center looking at all of the sights along the way. My Dad especially liked the art in front of the Herberger Theater near the Convention Center. Finally, we took a look at the US Airways Center and Chase Field before heading back home to have dinner at Organ Stop Pizza. This was also the last day of school for the girls.

Friday was the big day. We took a drive out to the big hole in the ground, the Grand Canyon. We started out around 6:30am and drove in the rain most of the way there. It was cold (at least to us) in Flagstaff where we had a very late breakfast and then we were on to the Canyon. When we got there, the place was cloudy and we were able to see the other canyon outlook just down from us due to the clouds in the Canyon. Then suddenly, the clouds poured out of the Canyon and we had great views despite the overcast sky. We were all over the South Rim including the Bright Angel Lodges and Hopi House. Then we had a long wet drive back to Mesa, but not before stopping at a country dinner on Route 66 in Williams, AZ.

On Saturday we relaxed a bit and host a cookout so some of our neighbors could meet my parents and vice versa. Sunday was another packing and relaxing day. Finally on Monday, they packed up the girls and left for Virginia. We had a great time here with them and wish they could have stayed longer, but we are also looking forward to hearing about how much fun the girls have visiting Virginia.

See all of the pictures from the visit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Keeping busy

First a little catch up, Lexi had won tickets from Radio Disney when we were at the Tempe Bike-A-Palooza for the Monster Truck Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. That event was two weeks ago. We had a real good time watching the trucks with jet engines speeding down the track as a "warm-up" before the main event. Because the track is a drag strip, the trucks started by jumping one at a time off a ramp, the doing wheelies down the track, and jumping over piles of tires. The second round featured the truck jumping over cars and smashing RVs. Several trucks "broke" during the event, but one "broke" spectacularly when it found itself driving on top of the wall at the edge of the track.

This past Friday was my sixth of twelve furlough days. I had a hard time choosing how to "stay busy" with a forecast of high temperature of 103 degrees. I decided to bike to Camelback Mountain and hike not just to the top, but from the east side over the top to the west side and back. But once again, there was a problem with the plan - about twelve miles into the ride, I punctured my bike tire and I did not have any spares with me or at home. Since Dawn was at home studying for her exams, she was able to pick me. However, she dropped me off at Camelback and the race was on.

I managed to get up to the top of Camelback in less than 45 minutes, and then I went down the very steep and rocky west side. The west side is very different from the east side that Dawn and I had been hiking on in the past. I made it down and fortunately I was able fill up one water and take a quick break in the shade before heading back up. On the way up it started to get hot and the steepness was pretty tough. When I got the to top, I was the only person up there since the heat was had driven everyone away. One the way down, the rocks were getting too hot to touch for too long. But I managed to do the entire hike in just over three and a half hours. The hike was only 6 miles long; however, there is a 1300 foot elevation gain over 1.8 miles on the east side (Cholla Trail) and on the west side (Echo Canyon Trail) there was a similar elevation gain over 1.2 miles and the trail was strewn with boulders.

My legs were still very sore from the hike, but we had free tickets to an ASU baseball game that I won from a drawing with the Tempe Bike Month for being a bicycle commuter. ASU had been number 1 in the nation, but recently fell to fourth and this game feature Winthrop University, which ASU beat 10-9. I caught a flyball that was hit towards our seats and I exchanged it with Lexi who caught a t-shirt a few minutes later. But the best part was that they pulled two volunteers to compete in a push-up contest. The person who could do fifteen push-ups the fastest won two tickets to see the Diamondbacks play. The two people competing were Lindsey and Lexi - Lexi claimed the tickets! The best part is, the girl would have already left for Virginia, so Dawn and I have a date together for a MLB game.

Monster Truck Nationals at Firebird International Raceway

Hiking Camelback

ASU Baseball vs Winthrop