Monday, July 18, 2011

Flagstaff Fest 2011

Travel plans to Mexico fell through, so Brittney and I decided Flagstaff would make a great weekend getaway. One of my goals for 2011 was to make the extra effort to visit some of Arizona's famous landmarks and spend more time in the towns I have passed traveling through the state. This trip would provide an opportunity to do just that, and it turned out to be better than expected.

Arriving at Buffalo Park around 10:30am on Saturday, we unloaded the mountain bikes, packed our camelbacks for the day's ride, snapped a few photos, and headed off into the hills. After riding trails for a while, we took a more leisurely approach back into town by way of bike path, by this time the two of us were ready for lunch.

Flagstaff is such an interesting town, a crossroads to the West so to speak with a cast of characters unlike anywhere else I've been. There is definitely a little something for everyone here; history, art, music, culture, and of course, endless outdoor recreation for all seasons. We truly immersed ourselves downtown this weekend, and took in the best of what this place has to offer. The hotel Monte Vista is a fun hang out at night, especially to see some live music. The Weatherford hotel is very inviting, they have a great restaurant with excellent service, and pictures and artifacts that will certainly take you back in time.

The highlight of the trip may have been our visit to the Walnut Canyon National Monument just a few miles east of town off Interstate 40. I didn't know much about the site, other than that it holds NM status, so I figured it would have some significance to the state. To our surprise this place was fascinating, basically it's a canyon with tiered walls where natives built their homes underneath the rock overhangs. There is now a path which takes you through these well preserved villages for an up close and personal view of the ancient dwellings.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Windgate Loop - Trail Run

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
N. Scottsdale, Arizona
Mileage - 14.5
Time - 2:14:30
AEG - 2671ft

It's been a while since I have had (what I would consider) a really good run, today was a different story. My legs were firing on all cylinders as I cruised up the hills and ripped the downhills. Summer runs in Phoenix are tough, and even tougher when the monsoon storms roll into the valley bringing high humidity along with them. I lucked out this morning, an overcast sky provided enough relief for me to get in an exceptional multi-hour run on some of my favorite trails in the preserve.

The route looked like this:

Gateway trailhead to Windgate Pass (3.7m) to Dixie Mine trail (6.75m) to Coachwhip (9m) back up to Windgate Pass (10.8m) finishing up at Gateway (14.5m)

Watson Lake 07/09/11

Watson Lake, another gem in the great state of Arizona, and here it took me three and a half years to find the place. Resting only a few miles from downtown Prescott, the lake features fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, camping and provides a great place for picnicking. The lake is about 380 surface acres and is distinguished by its sky blue calm waters surrounded by granite boulders with protruding vegetation.

The Fossil Springs trip was so much fun, I wanted to plan another summer outing and Watson Lake seemed like the perfect day trip. I arranged solo kayaks for the ten of us to tour the lake and explore the coves and rock formations surrounding the majority of the area. We were treated to an abundance of wildlife, including a handful of cormorants and a large soft shell turtle. After a couple hours on the water, we had lunch, hiked a few miles, and ended the day with a water balloon fight (compliments of yours truly). Everyone had a blast, and I look forward to returning to the area sometime soon. Check out Prescott Outdoors for kayak rentals.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chicago Lakeshore Run

Lincoln Park Trail
Chicago, Illinois
Mileage 15.17
Time - 1:45
AEG - Zero

There were several things to be excited about as I returned to the city following a three and a half year absence. Visiting family was at the top of the list, along with a run by the lake, throwing the football around at North Ave Beach, walking through the green grass, riding bikes, watching a little baseball, and finding the nearest Caribou coffee.

Now let's talk about that run. Starting out, my legs felt good enough to put 4 or 5 miles in, after getting on the bike path, the excitement carried me through another 10. Other than the pavement, traffic, humidity, and crowds of runners and cyclists, it was a great run. The city skyline makes for an awesome visual backdrop, the vibrant blue color of Lake Michigan is quite refreshing, and the sheer volume of people exercising in one place is very motivating. Talk about a sensory overload!