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5 Fun Things to Do in Phoenix AZ

My parents moved to Phoenix, AZ a few years ago in their perfect retirement community. And every time I’m there I find so many fun and cool things to do, which I’d love to share with you!

Sharing is caring, y’all.

  • Take A Hike! Get your butt outdoors and breathe in the fresh air. Plus some exercise always does a body good. There are many great hiking trails but Camelback Mountain is the closest to my parent’s house so that’s the one I hike. Two main trails lead to the summit of Camelback, a camel-shaped mountain just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix. Both are rated extremely difficult. The Echo Canyon hike is the more rugged of the two and requires steep climbs and scrambling over large rocks. The Cholla Trail, while a little bit less strenuous, is also a little bit longer. The beginning of the hike is easy, with switchbacks and even terrain. The last third of the trail requires scrambling up steep grades with drop-offs on each side. Both hikes are a little under 2.5 miles long. Plan on taking two to three hours, depending on your condition, to make either of the round-trip hikes. Please don’t forget to bring lots of water to stay hydrated!
  • Go See A Show! It doesn’t matter if it’s theatre or ballet or opera or a concert. Whichever is your jam go do it. There are just so many opportunities in Phoenix to find something that you would love. I recently saw Wicked at the ASU Gammage theatre. Great show! Great theatre. In August, The Book Of Mormon (SO GOOD) will be performing there.
  • Visit A Museum! I love the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix. It’s one of the best places to experience the myriad cultures and art of American Indians of the Southwest. Since its founding in 1929, the Heard Museum has grown in size and stature to become recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, world-class exhibitions, educational programming and its unmatched festivals. Dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art, the Heard successfully presents the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective, as well as exhibitions that showcase the beauty and vitality of traditional and contemporary art.
  • Eat At A New Restaurant! Before seeing Wicked at the ASU Gammage we went to have an early dinner at Durant’s Steakhouse. We got there five minutes before actual opening hours, walked through the back entrance (through the kitchen – do it, be a regular), ordered martinis (extra dirty for me) and a brandy old fashioned for mom before we were seated. And speaking of seating, we slid into our red leather booth surrounded by red velvety wallpaper before having an excellent meal. Don’t get me wrong, Durant’s is not somewhere to get a quick, cheap eat. But if you want a culinary and cool experience go check it out. Quick fun fact – John Wayne, Clark Gable and Joe DiMaggio all frequented Durant’s.
  • Check out something just outside of Phoenix! Last time my mom and I went to see Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright‘s winter home and school. Ever since I was young I loved architecture and touring mansions – the Marland mansion in Ponca City, OK and don’t think I went completely insane in Newport, RI – The Breakers!!! Marble House. WOW, just wow. So definitely check out Taliesin West. But THIS TIME we went on a boat ride on Saguro Lake with my aunt and uncle who were visiting. Saguro Lake is about 45 minutes Northeast of Phoenix. The 1,200-acre lake is 10 miles long and reaches depths of more than 110 feet at its deepest point. Its 22 miles of shoreline include rocky crags, canyon walls, marshland, and desert shrubland. The area also offers a variety of recreational activities (kayaking, hiking, fishing, sailing) including a scenic and educational riverboat cruise. We took a ride on the Desert Belle riverboat, a 90-minute narrated cruise on the lake. Let me clarify, the Captain didn’t speak the entire boat ride, there were lots of groovy tunes and time to breath in the nature. Besides hundreds, if not thousands of Saguro cacti we saw a bald eagle and a bighorn sheep!!! I was super stoked about the sheep. I highly suggest to bring your binoculars.

Have a ton of fun on all your adventures. And I’d love to hear what you love to do in and around Phoenix. 🙂

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country · drinkin' · earth · familia · friends · hotels · oooooooklahoma where the wind.... · osu · paaaarty · restaurant · Road Trip · touristy · travel · usa · weird · wine · wisconsin

Midwest USA Trippin

Hello? Is this thing on?

I’ve been doing some major road trippin’ in the USA – visiting friends in Oklahoma, meeting up with my parents for a road trip to Wisconsin where I hung out in Madison, attended a wedding in upstate Wisconsin and then another wedding where my Mom grew up, small town Manawa, WI, then hit Grand Rapids, MI. And naturally, hung out with LOTS of relatives. Ahhhh, it was all good. It’s actually amazing how things can change so much in so little time – in both good and bad ways.

Let’s start with Oklahoma, shall we? Flew into green (!!!) and blazing hot Oklahoma via Will Rogers Airport in OKC.

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The lovely Amy W picked me up and we were off to Stillwater – home of Pistol Pete, Oklahoma State University and where I have a zillion fantastical memories of growing up. We were getting the gang together. These are my OK girls that I’ve known since I moved to Stillwater at the age of 10. We’ve been through a lot – roomies, yelling at strangers, proms, drinking, smoking, car accidents, marriages, divorces, singing at the top of our lungs, dancing, deaths, sickness, skylab fallouts, the tumbleweed, the strip, babies, time capsules, cars, coloring hair red black grey blonde pretty much any color and I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. These girls and I understand each other so well that it only takes a look to get a meaning across and we have so many stories that nobody will ever know about but us. It’s true love, y’all. And I got tears in my eyes posting this picture below. XXOOOOOO

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The weekend was filled with HEAT, drinks, laughter, QUESO!, lots of tears and just a bonding again that we really needed. It was emotionally exhausting but this time together was so important for us all. We celebrated a life, we celebrated an engagement, we celebrated us. It was another Loo meet-up for the books.

Where to hit in Stillwater? Well, it had been a good while since I was last there and Stillwater has grown a lot. Of course, there is always Eskimo Joe’s for burgers and beer, Mexico Joe’s for well, mexican. Don’t forget to hit the strip for Coney Island (now I’m craving about 10 of their hotdogs) and the strip has fun bars and shops to check out too. Walk around the beautiful campus of Oklahoma State (wave at my awesome Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house across from Theta Pond) and if you’re there during school time try to catch a football or basketball game.

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Next up, road trip with Mom and Dad. I do a lot of these with my parents and I cherish each one immensely, no matter how minute. They drove into OKC from Phoenix and I stayed one more night with Amy, I needed my Amy time!!

It took us two days to get to Madison, WI. (You can check out my post about Madison, WI HERE) Where I enjoyed the peculiar items at the road side gas stations (pickled bologna anyone?) plus the sites along the way. I got to see the St. Louis Arch! And yes, my parents are one of those rare souls who still own a road atlas. I love looking through it. 🙂

 

We stopped one night in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln –  Springfield, Illinois. And had a delicious dinner at the Chesapeake Seafood House. They serve yummy seafood, steaks and a raw bar in a mansion from the 1800s.

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Off to the small town of Manawa, WI, where some of my aunts, uncles and cousins live. My Uncle David lives on the farm where my mom grew up, it hasn’t changed too much but more wildlife have returned lately. YAY!! I love to hear that. We saw these two bald eagles fighting over a catch of something (hopefully not a cat which my aunt said an eagle caught last year). And I was gonna go for a run but heard there was a bear prowling around so I decided to nix that. Wisconsin is such a pretty state, with lakes, sprawling farms and dark forests as far as the eye can see. I feel back at home whenever I’m there. Oh, and of course I needed to try out the tractor. Yep, lil me drove that.

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Now we go to North Wisconsin to Eagle River. I’d never been to Eagle River before, it was niiiiice. It’s a chain of 28 lakes, the largest freshwater chain in the world! Yo. ANOTHER aunt and uncle of mine (my mom has 5 siblings) just bought a lake house on Cranberry Lake and it was lovely to just chill there and be one with nature. Plus my gorgeous cousin got married there and the wedding and reception was beautiful and so much fun. Whenever I get together with my cousins we revert back to age five and just find each other hilarious. Beautiful spot for a wedding, no?

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After the wedding I tried to relax and enjoy the peacefulness. Okay, so you do have boaters driving by but their house was set a bit back so it was quite calm. Of course we had to ride in their pontoon boat around the Lakes and one of the near neighbors owns the house that was used for the horror movie Damien II: The Omen. I was taking pictures of the boat ride and my picture of that house was UPSIDE DOWN. Freaky. Check it out. So. Weird.

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Isn’t that FREAKY?!?! I swear I didn’t flip it. And all my other pics that I took within minutes even seconds of that one are normal.

And somehow the stars aligned because I got to meet up with Jeannie in Grand Rapids, MI. – another American city that I’d never been to before. We stayed in the downtown area in two different hotels because one we needed to expense (the cheaper one) and one for fun. The JW Marriot was the one for fun. It’s on the river, has beautiful views, the room was clean and spacious and the steam rooms are free and lovely. The other was CityFlatsHotel and it was smack dab in the center. We could walk around to many bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a bit funkier with a big room but not as many nice amenities as the JW Marriot. I enjoyed them both.

My restaurant recommendations for Grand Rapids – Sunday night it was late and the only place near the hotel and open was the SpeakEZ Lounge. We walked there (bravely, I would say), the outside was a bit sketchy but we opened the doors to lots of people, a jazz band and a place in the back for us to sit. The food was good and I love a live band. HopCat is your typical American bar. They have TONS of beers and ciders on tap – Squishy cider was my fav (Squishy is a semi-sweet Fruit Cider fermented with Michigan apples, tart cherries, and English Cider yeast). For a breakfast/brunch place I can highly recommend Anna’s House. With an already extensive menu they have many gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options. The waffles with strawberries and the breakfast sandwich were soooo delicious and we got to-go cups for our coffees when we left. Two huge thumbs up. Jeannie even went back the next day before she flew back to NYC!

 

And for a bit more classy experience, try Reserve Wine & Bar. We ordered a brand old fashioned to start (it was the cocktail theme for my time in the states if you hadn’t noticed and they are the BEST in Wisconsin) and then we each ordered a flight of wine. Later we decided to share a charcuterie board of cheese and meat – really yummy. A bit on the pricey side but I feel it was worth the money. Also there is a fun bathroom downstairs with a big mirror for fun selfies. If you ask really nicely I can send a video of a head growing out of my shoulder. Ahhh, yes, my time with Jeannie is always a blast and always too short, 36 hours was not enough with her. But I will take any amount I can get. I love that girl to the ends of the earth.

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And that was it. Trip was over (insert major sad face). A lot of brandy old-fashioned sweets consumed, time with relatives, friends were had and enjoyed and I flew back home to Mallorca. I hope you enjoyed the post with lots of good recommendations. Maybe they aren’t always in the fanciest of locations but sometimes one must venture away from the busy lights and hustle bustle of those.

Until next time, y’all. Cheers!

 

 

earth · familia · friends · Girls run the world · love love love · Road Trip · touristy · travel · usa · wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

GOOOOOOOO BADGERS!!!

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Madison was famously described by a candidate for governor in 1978 as “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” He meant it as a dig, but many Madisonians embraced it, then and now. And for the record, it’s now 77 sq. miles.

Being born in Madison, WI and having lived there for the first ten years of my life, it holds a place in my heart that I will never let go. I think back fondly on that first house my parents built in DeForest, a suburb just outside of Madison. My brother and I making our first friends, running down to the lake behind us to throw bread at the ducks who always seemed to hang out on our yard and my mom letting me run up to my friend’s house for the very first time on my own. I can still picture the house, it was dark brown and split level, a pretty cool house that my parents designed. We drove by it when we passed through Madison last week, it’s now a beige color and I remembered it being a bit different but still put a smile on my face to see it again.

After DeForest we moved into a duplex in Madison. We drove by this too and I have even fonder memories of this house, but maybe not the scary basement – I still have nightmares sometimes of this basement. Fonder memories possibly because I was older and could remember more but maybe just because those first years of your life are quite meaningful.

 

 

I’m still in contact with a few of my friends from then – Jackie was my bestie in those years, Kathy lived the next block over and Joyce would visit from New York during the summer and sometimes at Christmas to her grandparents house behind ours. I would walk to John Muir School with my brother, slowly picking up our gang of friends along the way. After school we would walk over to the small store run by the chinese man where I would buy grape Hubba Bubba gum or those huge, chewy SweeTarts. I can still smell that gum when I think of it.

My gang of girlfriends ruled the neighborhood. We had our secret hideouts in the forest close to my house where I had my first kiss with Jason Cook. Oh those sweet innocent years in the 1970s. No cell phones, no Instagram, no need to make a duck face. In the summers we ran around from after breakfast til before dinner, we never wore bike helmets, we made gross concoctions of mustard, mayo, bugs and more to dare each other to eat and we still made it out alive.

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My Wisconsin girl gang. We were tough! 😉

The duplex is where my love of musicals began. I remember my parents taking me to my very first movie – Grease and I was in love. Not necessarily with Mr. Travolta but just the beauty of movies with singing and dancing. And the joy of music evolved from there – Billy Joel was my first record, then Xanadu, J. Geils Band, The Muppet Movie soundtrack – it wasn’t until my later years that I got into the big hits from the 70s – Joni Mitchell, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac.

My parents both graduated from UW – Madison so we drove around the huge campus while my parents told stories about their days. The campus has changed a lot since they were there and I loved all the stories. There was a terrible snowstorm and the streets were too icy and full of snow for any vehicles; Mom had to walk all the way from campus to our duplex – it took maaaaany hours and by the time she got home she was practically frozen. Another story – There is a statue of Abraham Lincoln that has watched over campus atop Bascom Hill for over a hundred years. Dad said the story goes that Abe would stand up whenever a virgin would walk by, and he hasn’t stood since 1953. Haha Dad.

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We parked the car and walked down State Street. A pedestrian street lined with shops and bars. And sadly this time we walked down it there were a lot of beggars. It was a bit depressing to see. It was really warm that day and I stupidly wore jeans for some reason so we rushed through it a bit but I can see where it would be a lot of fun during the night. Definitely go get a brat at State Street Brats!

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At the end of State Street is the Wisconsin State Capitol which houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. It is a beautiful building both inside and out. And it was air conditioned! ahhhhhhh

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The UW – Madison campus is so beautiful and next time I would like to explore it even more. Both my mom and I were craving a Garibaldi sandwich and a brandy old-fashioned sweet from Paisan’s so we headed there, enjoyed our food and drink and looked out over the serene view of Lake Monona. If you want a cool spot for dinner which also serves the Garibaldi go to Porta Bella just off State St. It’s funky, cool, old vibe, the small rooms and wooden booths make it perfect.

Madison, Wisconsin thank you and I love you.

england · familia · flying · food · friends · hotels · i loooooove advertising! · london · love love love · restaurant · touristy · travel

A hotel, a restaurant and an airline

I have three, no wait, FOUR, fantastic recommendations for you. I went to London the other weekend (no, not for the wedding, my invite must have been lost by the Spanish Post) and thoroughly enjoyed my hotel, found a great restaurant and a free product from the hotel which I recently ordered a larger bottle of their fabulous pillow spray.

Let’s start with the airline since I needed one of those to get to London in the first place. This was my first experience with Easy Jet and I was happily surprised at how smooth the transaction was with everything. I thought I had paid for my small suitcase to be carry-on but when I got to the gate she put a tag on it for me to check it when I boarded. In the end the plane wasn’t that busy so I was able to just keep it with me. With the return I did check it in London Gatwick and it was a super easy, do-it-yourself process. Plus the flight was pretty inexpensive and the flight attendants were some of the nicest I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Thanks Easy Jet! I will be a return customer.

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Okay, what do you want to hear about next? How about the hotel. I met Jeannie at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. There wasn’t a single thing I can complain about. The staff was delightful, the hotel was modern and hip, the room was spacious and clean. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of bustling East London, just next to the Liverpool Tube Station. We used the Central and Circle Line for getting around and getting back but it also connects with the Hammersmith and the Metropolitan. Perfect for traveling cheap!

The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a free (non-alcoholic) daily stocked minibar and we were welcomed with a lovely bottle of Prosecco in the room when we checked in. And in the room they also had a free sample of REN & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a soothing natural perfume, blending floral notes of lavender with deeply restful Frankincense, to relax both the body and mind. I loved it so much I just bought two larger bottles for my bedtime routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby.

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You also have free access to the Health Club, where we really enjoyed the steam room. And the free apples for after you have sweated everything out. The last night we were a bit tired and decided to try their sushi restaurant. Try the saki sampler!

But the best thing and maybe it’s just me but the hotel serves complimentary (that means FREE to me) wine and canapes (one night it was small sushi rolls and the other some bread with paté) from 6 – 9 pm. It was lovely to come back from a long day of sightseeing and relax in the lounge area with a snack and a glass of wine. Or two. 🙂 FOR FREE Y’ALL.

And now what I know you’ve been waiting for – FOOD. The restaurant. It was fabulous. If you love Indian food you must go. Dishoom in Shoreditch (they also have a few more locations around London) was where I had the best Indian food of my life. It’s a big restaurant and they only take reservations for parties more than 6. So arrive a little early, put your name on the list and head over to the bar for a tipple or two while you wait for your table. I highly recommend the whiskey sour.

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Jeannie doesn’t eat foods with gluten and they had a large variety of items that she could eat. So feel free to eat your heart out. We shared the Crunchy Pomelo salad (with fresh kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint and coriander) and the okra fries (not gluten-free but Jeannie had a few). I haven’t had okra since my Oklahoma days! For the main dish I had the lamb Sheekh Kabab and Jeannie had the Chicken Tikki. It did not disappoint. They are also open for breakfast and the menu and teas look totes amazeballs. Just go already.

And I actually have one more rec for you. The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you do go to the Dishoom Shoreditch locatation and you feel like going out and dancing a bit, stop by Momento Lounge bar for some drinks and good tunes from the live DJ.

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And there you have it. Great times are made even greater with a good hotel, good food and good experiences.

But nothing compares to GREAT FRIENDS. And when you have this kind of happiness and fun together, it doesn’t really matter where you stay or what you eat.

Happy weekend y’all!!

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drinkin' · england · familia · kate middleton · shopping · the royals

I Went To London and All I Got Was …

I went to London and all I got was a lousy cold and a coffee mug.

I’m not kidding.

But what a lovely coffee mug it is. 🙂

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Who’s ready for the wedding of the year?! Raise your mug! Ha. Okay, I’ve been a bit absent because my family was visiting for a week and then I went to London to meet my gorgeous friend Jeannie. But guess what? That means I got so many things to share with y’all.

Keep your seatbelts fastened and look for a new blog post coming soon. xo -k

familia · favorite things · food · love love love · usa

Thankful and Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving! Gosh I am so grateful for so much. I’m always surrounded by an amazing amount of love and support from Felix, my family, my friends; and grateful for a happy and healthy life. I get to be here this year in the states to celebrate turkey day with my parents, uncles and aunt. And tomorrow is Dad’s 75th birthday, so pretty much a celebration lasting through the weekend. Happiness and drinks all around!

And I got to enjoy one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But darn it, I missed Gwen Stefani’s performance. Oh well, I got to see SpongeBob.

Enjoy that turkey or fish or cranberries or stuffing, whatever is your favorite. Don’t forget the extra gravy. Big hugs to you and yours this Thanksgiving. #sothankful

macys tday

familia

Kiss My Grits, Cancer

Cancer can kiss my ass. Seriously. PUCKER UP! Pucker up big time.

An hour ago my mom was wheeled out of the OR from having a double mastectomy. My sweet, adorable, full of life, mama. I know she is hurting right now. She also had reconstruction with this surgery. I was trying to talk her into some double D’s, but no. She is gonna go for the nice perky ones. Right on, mama. You go.

She had a lumpectomy about ten years ago, then radiation, then special medication for five years. This time no radiation (thank goodness) but back on the meds for another five years. She is one helluva strong lady that I look up to and love very much. She is loved by her three grandsons, her two children, her husband, her brothers and sisters, friends, etc., etc. So, to put it plainly, she ROCKS.

Cancer is scary. Cancer creates fear and sadness. But you know what it can’t do? So much. I found this lovely poem online. Please read, feel inspired and tell cancer to suck it.

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Author: Dr. Robert L. Lynn