My last post was a recap of my stair race in Phoenix, but that wasn’t all I did in Arizona. It was my first time in Phoenix (excluding layovers at the airport), and luckily I have two really great friends that live there. And they’re both named Emily! One Emily is a great friend from high school, who is now a nurse and a competitive ballroom dancer. I got to see her compete the day before my race, and it was a blast.
I almost wore the exact same dress – that would have been awkward!
Emily has been dancing for years and years, but apart from some video snippets on social media, I had never seen her dance. Until that day, when I saw her do the waltz, Viennese waltz, fox trot, tango, mambo, rumba, bolero, and something that I’m forgetting. I couldn’t stay for the finals (the competition was an all-day event), but she ended up taking third place, and it was well-earned. Multiple couples dance at the same time – sometimes ten or more – and she and her dance partner stood out every time, with the most complex choreography and graceful execution.
It was easy to see Emily was having fun, and I had a great time being a very vocal supporter, the most vocal in the entire hotel ballroom, loudly cheering her on every chance I could.
I met the other Emily at my very first job in California, nearly 13 years ago, and we’ve been great friends ever since. She’s a Phoenix native that moved back to get a Masters degree, and I stayed with her during my visit. She had school commitments during the day, but we had a really fun evening the night before the race. We went to dinner at a wonderful, healthy restaurant, and then saw Kingsman: The Secret Service, a highly entertaining spy action movie (it’s very violent, too, so don’t bring the kids).
I didn’t get a photo with Emily, but I got a couple photos of things I loved in her completely awesome, jealousy-inducing house. One was this incredible monkey chandelier, which I could stare at for hours:
And she has a bunch of decorative vintage canned goods, and while most were for fruits and vegetables, this one definitely wasn’t, and therefore instantly became my favorite. Boiled mutton, anyone?
I went for a hike during my free morning, since there are mountains everywhere. Camelback Mountain is a big park in the middle of the city, and there’s a good, steep ascent. I liked the trail because most of it was navigating up and over rocks, so it kept me on my toes. This isn’t just a photo of pretty rocks… it’s the trail:
I didn’t make it to the top, because of time constraints, but I made it high enough to get a great view of the whole city. You can see the skyline in the distance, and I could make out the two towers I raced up the next day (although it’s hard to tell in the photo)!
In total, I hiked for about 1 hour, 45 minutes, and went 3.4 miles (although 1.6 of them was just getting from my car to the trailhead, because parking wasn’t convenient).
Speaking of my car, I drove from Los Angeles to Phoenix, and getting there and back took a combined 13 hours. I made sure I had plenty of healthy snacks (all of which are featured on my Twitter feed), and my favorite one was this tuna jerky I picked up from Daniel’s Really Good Fresh Jerky, a roadside store in the small desert town of Quartzsite, Arizona:
There were dozens of billboards all along the 10, in both directions, for Daniel’s, so I stopped for gas in Quartzsite on my way home so I could also hit the jerky store. This is where I also learned that jerky is mined, like coal or silver. Who knew?
I got a couple fun things to share before wrapping this up. One is that the folks at Bowflex invited me to write an article for their popular Bowflex Insider blog, which was an honor. My article was published yesterday, and I think you’ll like it. It traces how my love of stair racing grew out of confronting a fear, and I hope you’ll check it out by clicking this link.
Lastly, a Birthday Burpees update! My weekend in Phoenix was completely burpee-free, but I got back into my challenge when I got home. I did 80 burpees on Tuesday, and 130 on Wednesday. That bring my total to 900 burpees! Only 70 left until I reach my goal… I’m in the home stretch!
Keep it up, David!