Now that we’ve pretty much stopped drinking we find that we are often filling that time with hiking. (Actually, friends have also noticed this and pointed it out to us too , which is pretty funny) When I plan trips now, I no longer look for breweries or drinking establishments, I look for hiking spots. It’s our new favorite way to spend time together. There is no doubt, in either of our minds, that this is a much better way to spend our time together. I feel so much better and being outdoors and active is so much better for us as a couple. Traveling has changed a bit because of this lifestyle change though. We normally make it out to Arizona at least once a year to see my family but in the past it’s always been in the summer ,mostly because of Alex and school, and because my dad had a pool. Not a fancy pool by any means but a pool that I have enjoyed on and off for the past 25+ years of my life. He sold that house though and opted for a new house, in a new housing community, where the pool is a community pool. Now, I don’t have anything against community pools per se but the convenience of rolling out of bed, donning my swimsuit and jumping into the pool by 9:00am is gone. I am a little heartbroken about this still, btw. Anyway, because of his residence change, we opted to travel to Arizona in January this time. This worked out better with our current lifestyle too. In the past we would spend our time in Arizona visiting breweries and hanging at the pool because in Arizona, in the dead of summer, there isn’t much else to do. We stayed with my sister in Scottsdale for the first few days (my dad moved out to the middle of nowhere) so that meant our first hike needed to be near or around Scottsdale. Nate had already done Camelback Mountain years ago so I was looking for a hike neither of us had done before. Pinnacle Peak seemed like the perfect hike to start with. Not too long. Not to far from my sister’s house. (Nate hates how spread out everything is in Arizona). I read a few things about the hike and it seemed like it would work for us. Even though the weather in Arizona this time of year is wonderful it’s still 10 degrees more than we are used to. I had read that this hike was busy on weekends but I was not prepared for this kind of busy. It was almost like a conveyor belt of people. There was always someone right behind you or right in front of you. The hike itself was great. It’s been referred to as the “stairmaster” hike and that name fits it. It’s a steady climb up to the peak (1300 ft elevation gain) and the trail itself is only 3.5 miles round trip but the views of the Valley are great. The houses out there are amazing too. We spent some of our time discussing which house we would live in if we had that kind of money. It’s a fun hike but if you are looking for a one without tons of other hikers, this is not the trail for you. Can’t beat the view though. As I’ve grown older I’ve begun to appreciate the landscape of Arizona much more than when I was younger. I disliked everything about the desert when I was growing up here and couldn’t wait to leave it. Looking back now though I’m sure it was just that I was looking for a change. Looking at the familiar landscape now just makes me feel nostalgic and I appreciate the beauty of the desert.
We invited our friend Ian along for the hike and it is always fun to hang out with him. He and Nate have been friends since elementary school and I’ve always appreciated that when we’re in Arizona that Nate has someone he can also connect up with. Arizona trips are often filled with seeing my high school friends so it can be a bit boring for Nate when I’m off having lunch or shopping with girlfriends. Or dragging him to happy hour reunions filled with people he doesn’t know. Neither of us are good in new social situations so I can understand his anxiety when I drag him places like that. I appreciated that Ian came out and hiked with us. His wife and kids were out of town and he had a BBQ to go to but still he made time for us. We were rewarded with a special treat at the end of the hike too. One of the animal rehab organizations (Wild at Heart) had brought out a variety of birds/raptors for people to see. They had a Great Horned Owl, a Red Tailed Hawk, a Peregrine Falcon and an amazing Bald Eagle. I’ve never seen an eagle up close like this. It was a wonderful way to end our morning of hiking.Even though I wasn’t allowed to hug(or even touch) the hawk like I wanted to;)