Arizona Trip — Days One and Two

Hi! I had hoped to have a recap of my trip to Arizona posted last week, but between catching up with work and getting back on track with workouts and sleep, my week has been a little crazy. I spent four days in Arizona last week, so I thought I’d share my travels with you in two to three posts. We packed a lot into four days! The first post will provide highlights from days one and two. I haven’t decided if I would write a separate post about my race, or include it in days three and four. Either way, this post is a long one, so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, sit back, and enjoy.

Here we go!

A little over a week ago, I took off to Arizona with a couple of my friends to do some exploring as well as participate in my first trail race. My adventure started off bright and early Thursday morning. I woke up at 3:30 to catch a 6:00 am flight to Phoenix. Those who know me well, know I am not a morning person. There are only two reasons I would get up before the sun: travel and races. I met my friends Mike and Dewey at the airport with minutes to spare before boarding. 5 1/2 hours later, we landed in warm, sunny Phoenix. On a side note: I *would* pick the weekend where Boston was in the 60s and 70s for a cooler climate of 40s! After waiting what seemed to be forever for our rental car, we were finally on our way north to Page.

We didn’t have many concrete plans for the weekend other than the race and visiting Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. We decided we’d stop anywhere along the four-ish hour drive from Phoenix to Page if we saw something of interest. I do have to say, it was mostly a beautiful drive — I enjoyed watching the landscape change from cactus all over the place to monuments (which we learned how they’re formed!). We drove for a short bit on Route 66 — long enough to find a cheesy diner for a late lunch. Bucket list item? Check!

After a couple more hours on the road, we finally made it to our hotel. Unfortunately, Mike was feeling under the weather, and I think Dewey was wiped from a day of traveling, so I ventured down to the hotel bar and enjoyed a small dinner and a local beer (Lake Powell Amber). After dinner, I headed back to my room and called it a night. The travel and the long drive wiped me out — I was asleep by 10, which is early for me! Side note: we stayed at the Lake Powell Resort and I highly recommend staying here if you’re in the area. We were in town during off season, so it was very quiet — I think most of the guests were there for the race. It was also extremely reasonably priced. I would like to come back during peak season so I can take advantage of all the fun lake activities.

Friday morning started bright and early with a cup of coffee while enjoying the lake views. After a quick shower, I met the guys downstairs to head to a local diner for breakfast. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to restaurants while traveling, I like to ask the locals for recommendations. The concierge at the hotel recommended the Ranch House Grille since we were in the mood for a homestyle breakfast. I wanted a breakfast full of protein since we were probably going to have a light lunch, so I ordered ham and eggs, which came with the crispiest homefries. It definitely hit the spot and kept me full throughout the afternoon.

After breakfast, we dropped Mike off at the hotel so he could rest before Dewey and I head out for our canyon tour. But first, we stopped briefly at the Glen Canyon Dam for a few photo opps. This dam is apparently one of the largest man made reservoirs in the US. I’m glad we made the quick pitstop since I’d never seen a dam before! After a few photos, we drove to Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. We had pre-purchased tickets, but since we arrived a bit early, we were able to get in on an earlier tour. It’s a good thing, since the time we started our tour was apparently best for the light. Score! Our Navajo guide (I am having such a brain cramp remembering his name) was knowledgeable and entertaining. He led us down some pretty sketchy ladders into the lower canyon and told us stories as he took us through our hour long tour. I swear, each turn we made was more amazing than the last. Our tour ended with our guide demonstrating how monuments are formed — it was pretty cool! I highly recommend touring the Lower Antelope Canyon if you have the opportunity.

After our tour, we headed back to the hotel, picked up Mike, then went to get our race bibs. This was my first trail race, which happened to be held at the same time as a 55k and 50-miler, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Check-in went smoothly and everyone was super nice. The pickup was held outside with a handful of vendors. Since it was so chilly (low 40s), there were some fires going, and you could even toast marshmallows! After checking in, we briefly looked at the merchandise. I purchased a new handheld water bottle on a whim (clearly, it was on a whim, since I didn’t look at the price and had a bit of sticker shock when I went to pay!), and a couple of Clif nut butter bars.

After bib pickup, we ventured out for an early dinner. I should point out that many restaurants in the area close early (10ish?) — I’m not sure it’s because it was February or if restaurants normally close that early, but it’s something to consider if planning a trip to the area. We ended up at the Dam Bar & Grille where I had a salad with a burger on top. I was trying my best to eat somewhat healthy, which is always a challenge while traveling, but I think I did fairly well. I also tried another local beer, Dam Amber, because carbo-loading. Since we had an early morning for the race, we headed back to the hotel for a little more relaxation.

Check back in later this week for another vacation recap. In the meantime, here’s the video of our canyon guide demonstrating how monuments are formed. Sorry about the noise from the wind!

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