I am newly in my 30s. Well, two weeks into them anyway. And, so far, so good. I was a bit nervous about turning 30. But, really, I think it was more the actual “turning” 30 that was bothering more than the “being” 30. I’m very much looking forward to my 30s. I think they’re going to be great. I’m happier, healthier and more confident than I’ve ever been in my life. I am, on most accounts, the best version of myself I’ve known.
So, I welcome my 30s. And what better way to welcome them in than a wonderful vacation with my very best friend, who also happens to be my darling sister. So, the Rosebud Sisters (yeah, that’s what we call ourselves) headed west. Arizona, to be exact.
It was a random place to go. Still not exactly sure how I decided on Arizona, but I knew that I wanted to have an active, fun 30th birthday playcation. And, I’d been to the Grand Canyon before but only stayed for an hour or so. And, I figured a little break from Michigan’s snow would be welcome, come the end of February. (You’ll notice in the photo above that that part of the plan didn’t quite work out.) Plus, I had some frequent flier miles that needed some cashing in — and a flight to Phoenix fit in perfectly.
Our whirlwind of a trip, Friday-Tuesday, included a lot of exciting adventures:
- Land in Phoenix
- Drive to Tucson
- Watch the Tucson Rodeo
- Run a 4-mile race
- Drive to the Grand Canyon, winding our way through Sedona
- Hike the Grand Canyon
- Drive back to Phoenix
- Fly home
So, yeah, it was a very quick trip. But it was just what the doctor ordered — for both my sister and myself. First up was something I’d been wanting to do since I hit my 100-pound loss mark. My treat to myself for losing 100 pounds was a new tattoo, one to even out my back — where I had a tattoo in the center and one to the right. So, on the recommendation of a friend’s friend, we got an appointment for tattoos and made that the first item on our Arizona itinerary.
Al spent quite some time making sure the new tattoo complemented the two (a butterfly and an ink well) I already had. It made me so happy because I love when things are even and straight and balanced. Not only did my new owl tattoo help celebrate my major life changes, it brought me a feeling of balance.
Next up: the Tucson Rodeo. We’d never been to a “real” rodeo before, and after we booked our flights, we found out the rodeo was going to be in town. What better way to spend a warm, sunny Saturday in Arizona than the rodeo? Well, minus the “warm” part, the rodeo was pretty much a win. It was great being outside and watching the different events. Plus, everyone we ran into was super nice and friendly. My sister said this was her favorite part of the trip.
Our second batch of Tucson excitement came in the form of a 4-mile race through town on a lovely path. It was a good race — even if the morning started with snow. Yeah. Snow in Tucson. I’m pretty sure I was complaining more about it (mostly in my head) than any of the Tucson residents — but only because I was so looking forward to “growing” some more freckles on vacation. I totally miss my summer freckles. Anyway. The race. It was lots of fun. My sister and I have a deal: I can run ahead at my pace, and she runs at her pace, but we always finish races together that we start together. So, I always go back to meet her and finish the race together. Since this race wasn’t chip timed, we actually even got to cross the finish line together.
After the race, we checked our directions to the Grand Canyon hotel and realized we had about 6-1/2 hours ahead of us in the car if we wanted to check out any of Sedona. So, we grabbed a quick lunch. Well, really, frozen yogurt — there was a lot of frozen yogurt consumed on that trip.
Anyway … after the yogurt, we packed up the car and headed north — eager to make it to Sedona in time for sunset, and hoping to make it to our hotel at the Grand Canyon before we got too tired. Well, we made it to Sedona in perfect time, watching the glorious sun set over the red rocks. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. I’m sure my sister grew tired of my “Ooooooh!” every time we rounded another bend in the road.
After an hour-long detour due to blowing snow closing down the main route we’d had mapped to the Grand Canyon — and a trip through a town that had a sign announcing that it was “on the wrong track” — we finally made it to our hotel. We had a lazy, sleepy night at the hotel and a super enjoyable continental breakfast. (Confession: One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is free continental breakfasts — particularly the ones featuring a healthful selection of fruits, hard-boiled eggs and oatmeal.)
We woke up the following morning to a glorious blue sky and chilly temperatures. As we drove to the Grand Canyon, we watched the temperature go from 17 degrees to somewhere in the 20s. We had a hard time deciding what to wear on our big Grand Canyon hike. The decision: T-shirts with light jackets, sunglasses and baseball caps. Pants, of course, were a given.
I cannot begin to describe the scenes and experiences that followed. There were not many other people at the Grand Canyon — I think the five inches of snow might have scared them away. So, it was pretty silent and still. My sister kept stopping us to listen to the melting snow and flowing rivers of water running through the various crevices. We could actually hear the icicles melting as the sun rose higher in the sky. It was — well — awesome. I have no other words to describe it. My last Grand Canyon experience was in late May, and this trip was like visiting a totally different world.
I could write and write about the joys of hiking the Grand Canyon in the winter. But I won’t. I’ll simply say that it is something everyone
needs deserves to experience. By far the favorite part of my vacation, the Grand Canyon hike left me feeling inspired, refreshed and appreciative. This world we live in is truly amazing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I enjoyed have this time with my sister. While we’ve always been really close, I think this trip brought us even closer. This shared experience gave us so many memories — and private jokes — and I wouldn’t trade that time together for anything. I was reminded, continually, on this playcation what an amazing, inspiring person my sister is. And what a joy she is to be around. She continues to motivate me. What’s more, she makes me laugh and reminds me to take things as they come. She’s a real go-with-the-flow gal, and she helps me remember to take some time in life to smell the roses.