Girl stuff

Hello friends!  I hope you are enjoying the warmth of spring wherever you may be.  I am enjoying (enduring?) what is more like summer in Canada than spring; this week will see “seasonal norms” here in Phoenix.

PHX celsius

(This little chart is for my Canadian connections.)

The above chart “translated” into Fahrenheit for my American allies looks like this:

PHX fahrenheit

Last week was actually nice, though, with cooler temperatures and rain.  I felt comfortable enough to check out a ladies’ group ride on Friday morning that catered to the working gal (6am start!!!!).  By anyone’s standard, I am no longer a beginner road cyclist, having done a double century.  However, I am a beginner group rider as I rarely rode with a group while training for that double century.  As a result, I am hesitant to follow too closely behind a cyclist I do not know (this is called “drafting” and the closer you stay to the wheel in front of you, the more efficient you are on the bike because you are letting the person in front of you act as a wind shield.  All you have to do is ride in their “wake.”).  What if the rider in front of me is a new rider and has yet to learn how to stop….or turn….?  What if the rider in front of me is an erratic rider and is unpredictable?  The other thing I have yet to learn about group riding is to trust that the person in front of me (and the people in front of the person in front of me) is aware of his/her surroundings and will warn me about obstacles and debris on the road.  When I am in someone’s “draft,” I often can not see in front of me because I am typically shorter than him/her.  It’s unsettling for me to ride my bike in a group without having a clear view of the road.

Anyway, the ladies’ group ride on Friday morning was very small (only 3 showed up), so I didn’t feel pressured or stressed at all.  Plus,  the pace was really moderate, almost bordering on slow.  But that’s ok because I wanted to meet some other women!  And I did.  I will join them again for a weekend ride, as that is when more ladies are able to participate and the rides are a little longer.

~~~

More girl stuff!  I met a girl at church who is also a Canadian (fellow Vancouverite!) and Asian….does that make us “Canasians?”  Haha.  Anyway, we took a spontaneous little field trip to Mexico this weekend while the guys were away at a retreat.  Many people from Arizona and Southern California visit Puerto Peñasco (known as “Rocky Point” in English) in Mexico, as it’s only a few hours away and it’s a different place to see the ocean.  We stayed at a cute little motel, ate lots of food, waded in the ocean, and checked out the shops and streets.  Puerto Peñasco really caters to American tourists, as there are bilingual signs and people everywhere.  The main industry used to be fishing, but I believe that tourism has taken over the #1 spot now.  The one thing that really struck me was the obvious difference between the wealthier tourist area with its resorts and the poorer residential areas with its sandy roads (i.e., unpaved), neglected houses, and wild dogs running rampant wherever you look.

mexico5 IMG_0199IMG_0210IMG_0212

(Photo 1: slightly neglected buildings on the beach; Photo 2: the nice, touristy part; Photo 3: a fancy residence that is very out of place in its neighborhood; Photo 4: across from the fancy house in photo 3.)

And now, here are some beach pictures!  The sunset was really pretty.

11174629_10155476544235375_5069211261762477867_o mexico16 IMG_0143mexico1

(The daylight picture was taken on another part of the beach on an old, abandoned lookout point.)

One of the funnier things we saw was a German-Mexican restaurant called the Kaffee Haus.  It is owned by a German man and his Mexican wife.  The husband was away when we visited, but the wife was really happy to chat with us and she even gave us a free brownie.  Their restaurant is super busy and caters to both the tourists and locals.  All of the German pastries are made by the German husband!

mexico6 (1)IMG_0217

(Photo 1: the pastry case; Photo 2: a taste of the German “kitschy” decorating!)

We had to remind ourselves to stop eating at numerous points during the weekend….and with that, I will end this post!

IMG_0202

New adventures

Well, it’s been 2 weeks in our new city and we’ve been preoccupied with unpacking, cleaning, and consulting some contractors for initial quotes for home projects (like replacing windows).  While we are motivated to get our (very 80s and very NOT upgraded) house in order, we also know that we need to take some time to get to know our new surroundings.  Earlier this week, I rode my bike up South Mountain for the first time, with my SAT (“self-appointed trainer” for those of you newer to my blog!).  While the climb is not as steep as the Red Rock scenic loop, it still affords road cyclists the opportunity to practice those important climbing skills, like breathing.  The view from the top is pretty scenic, as you can see most of the valley and the road is fairly smooth, much more so than in Red Rock Canyon.  Mileage is 7.5 miles one way and the overall grade is only 3%, but in all honesty, that felt worse at different points during the climb because I’ve not been riding my bike regularly!

IMG_0049

(At the top.  I would’ve taken more pictures, but it was getting warm and I wanted to go home!)

~~~

We went on our first group hike today and it was lovely.  I signed us up for a hiking group and the goal was to do the Tom’s Thumb loop, a total distance of approximately 12 miles and elevation gain of ~2700 feet/823 m.  The temperature hit about 90F/30C today, but the refreshing breeze present during most of the hike was splendid and a welcome relief.  We were delighted to see all the desert flowers in bloom and the many saguaro cacti acting as prickly sentinels guarding the land around us.

IMG_0059 IMG_0072 IMG_0062(Desert wildflowers!)

IMG_0084 IMG_0055

(A brightly colored reptile; standing in front of Tom’s Thumb.)

We live in the Sonoran desert, which is much more green and lush than the Mojave desert we left in Las Vegas.  From what I have read, the Mojave desert is higher in elevation and drier than the Sonoran (except Death Valley, CA) and its boundaries are generally defined by the Joshua trees found there.

joshuatree

(Joshua tree.)

The Sonoran desert is the hottest desert in the United States and is the only place in the world where the saguaro cactus grows in the wild.

IMG_0075 IMG_0079

(The trail and cacti.; A huge saguaro cactus waiting to give us a hug.)

All in all, a wonderful day with new friends!  I’ll leave you with a couple more pictures.

IMG_0071 IMG_0060

Does moving count as an adventure?

Hello dear readers!  I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend.  We spent most of ours moving all of our worldly possessions to our new home in Phoenix.  The past week has been determinedly focused on shoving our stuff into boxes, cleaning our condo, transferring said boxes into rental truck (thanks, Vegas friends!!!), driving to PHX, unloading said boxes into our garage, and playing a never-ending game of “Where’s the ____?”  (Fill in the blank with whatever item is currently needed.)  While we are sad to lose our outdoor playground of Red Rock Canyon and our outdoor playmates, we are excited about our new house (a house!  We are officially adults now!) and proximity to new and different outdoor playgrounds.  We are also excited by the 6 minute walk to Safeway, the bagel shop, and a bike shop (well, in all honesty, you-know-who is excited about that, but I am curious as well).

In the meantime, I am preoccupied with unpacking our boxes (and boxes and boxes) of STUFF.  Why does my SAT need 14 empty mason jars?  And 3957 pairs of socks?  How did I manage to accumulate 9572 bottles and containers of hair and beauty products?  I only wear makeup when I play a recital!  (And by “makeup,” I mean eyeliner and lipstick.  Anything more than that would reveal my total ineptitude at applying cosmetics.)

Here are a few photo highlights from the past week:

IMG_9990 IMG_9995

(Left: the last time I carried my bike down from my 2nd floor condo.  Right: our rental truck with car carrier and car.)

The “adventure” part of this post pertains to the piano.  As in, moving the piano down from my condo on the 2nd floor into the rental truck.  I hired professional piano movers to do that job and watching them in action was a bit nerve-wracking.  The entire process took less than 4 minutes.  Click here to watch the entire hair-raising video!

IMG_9983IMG_9987

(Left: my piano all locked down and loaded onto the dolly, ready to go.  Right: Almost on the ground….)

And finally, here is a snapshot of the kitchen area:

IMG_9998

In summary, I am dealing with a house that has thrown up on itself.