Phoenix In January is Heaven

In the middle of a cold, dark January, Phoenix is a warm haven of happiness, al fresco dining, and palm trees.  During the summer it gets pretty dang warm (and by warm I mean cooking an egg on the sidewalk warm), but this weekend, 70 degrees has never felt so good.

In addition to the Rock n’ Roll race that brought in hoards of runner people, Tough Mudder Arizona  and some sort of big deal Super Cross event happened on Saturday, so the city and every restaurant/bar/hotel in it were pretty full of crazy athletic types along with Super Cross types (whatever that means…they were all wearing “Monster” shirts).

We went for the half-marathon and made a long weekend out of it.  Aaron actually lived in Phoenix for a few years during college, so he knows his way around the city.  This is a good thing because it is one of the sprawling urban masses and I would have gotten very very lost had he not been navigating. Not good when it seems every freeway exit lets you off in a different suburb.

Even though I’ve probably been there well over a dozen times, I’ve never really explored all there is to do in Phoenix.  Of course I’ve been to Scottsdale’s Fashion Square and toured the ASU campus in high school, but surely a city that size has more to offer than Louis Vuitton and dorms.  At least let’s hope.

Unfortunately we didn’t really explore this time either.  With all the race weekend activities, we didnt’ have too much extra time to get down and dirty in the desert.

But we did….

…stay at the Doubletree on 44th Street (all the rooms are suites, and you get free breakfast). We made friends in the hot tub with marathon people from Montana and Tucson.

…run through Papago Park (an inner city desert and likely home to lots of rattlesnakes but oh so scenic).  Also, I’m going through a weird phase where I make myself look ridiculous in  photos.  It just happens. I can’t stop it. I call the thumbs up pose “The Cheryl”  after its creator, my sister.

…ride the Light Rail ($3.50 for a day pass.  HELLO cheap public transit!).

…go to the awesome RnR Race Expo.

…enjoy the really good beer at Four Peaks Brewing Company (if you like microbreweries, this is the place for you in Phoenix).  I recommend the Oatmeal Stout and Kilt Lifter. Notice that we are seated OUTSIDE!

…carb load at Oreganos, where once again we ate OUTSIDE!

race our little Rock n Roll hearts out.

…jam to the B-52’s.

…eat at In n’ Out (a Phoenix/ California MUST in our book). We may have missed out on some of Arizona’s natural wonders, but by golly at least we got our Double Doubles with Cheese. You’ve got to have priorities.

…go to Four Peaks again to meet up with a Beer Runners Group (Run4Beer) I found on facebook (the couple who runs it is from Florida and they post running/ beer drinking inspiration all day long.  They were also in town to run the race and organized a happy hour). Very cool meeting people with similar interests from different parts of the country! If you like running and beer, you should “like” them on facebook!

meet my college friends Luke and Allie for dinner and drinks at Z-Tejas in Tempe. I’ve only seen them one other time since Allie and I graduated 5 years ago, so it was great catching up.  I’m also a little freaked out with how grown up we all look.  Weren’t we just 21 the other day?

Here’s what we looked like when we were 21 (College 70’s night.  It was the only picture I could find with all three of us in it…I promise we didn’t dress like that all the time!). How far digital cameras have come! (I’m the one in the center, Allie is to the left, and Luke is in the back).

shop at Ikea (we don’t have one so we have to stock up on the unassembled goodness when we can).

eat at In n’ Out. Again. Ok. If you are wondering why I would pass up what I’m sure is plenty of Phoenix culinary goodness to visit a fast food joint twice in a 24 hour period, let me just say, BEST BURGER EVER! Five Guys doesn’t come close.  Barbara Streisand used to fly to California just to eat there.  That’s saying something.

It was a short vacation, but a wonderful, somewhat relaxing and warm one. Even though we didn’t get to do a ton of stuff, we met some great new people, reconnected with old friends, ran the good race, and enjoyed some tasty food and beer. And really, what else is there?

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