Sunday, April 24, 2016

Zion, Bryce and Nature, Oh My!!!

There is something quite healing about nature.  It calms the soul, it refocuses the mind, it brings inner peace ... ooohhhmmmmm.

But this is not what came to mind when planning our "2016 Girls Trip" to Southern Utah this year. We wanted adventure, memories and all the challenge that (almost)-50-year-old ladies could handle! And that's exactly what we got!  Rather than bore you with all the stories and belly laughter that happened on this trip, I'm going to pass along some how-tos about traveling to Zion and Bryce Canyons for YOUR trip of a lifetime.

1.  Plan at least a long weekend to hit both canyons.  We stayed two nights at the Desert Pearl Inn  in Zion and The Lodge at Bryce Canyon in Bryce.   We made our reservations about three months before we traveled.  Book early, the lodges fill up quickly!

 2.  Hike as much as you can.  Zion offers more hiking than Bryce, which is why we stayed two nights there.  Make time particularly for the Angel's Landing hike and the Observation Point hike, two of our favorites.  There are short and long hikes available to the visitors,  so do your homework and pick what works best for your group.  We are preparing to return to the Narrows hike in July.

 3.  Transportation within Zion National Park is done only by tram.  Whether you camp or stay in a lodge, keep in mind you won't be using your car much. What a treat!  These trams were convenient and ran from sun up to sundown.

 4.  If possible, take along an expert guide!  Lisa, our dear college roomie has been to both canyons numerous times and her information was invaluable.  Talk to people who have done the park.  Read up on social media.  It was nice to come knowing which hikes we were doing in advance.

5.  Pack appropriately.  You won't need heels, skirts or makeup on this adventure, but pack for quick changes in weather.  The vest I brought was the perfect outer layer to keep me warm after we summited Angel's Landing.  I was sweating on the way up, but cold on the way down.  Layers are your friend.

 6.  Bring cards!  We were pooped each night as we returned from our hikes, but card games kept the fun going and the laughter coming into the evening after dinner.  The Desert Pearl Inn "river" rooms face a beautiful babbling brook and emerald-green lawn with adirondack chairs for lounging and visiting.  All of these amenities make for splendid chill session at the end of a long day.

6.  Keep your iphone close by for spectacular scenery photos.  Ah-mazing.  

 7.  Be friendly!  There are people visiting the Southern Utah national parks from all over the world!  We met and made friends with travelers from New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark and France.  Don't be too shy to say a quick hello.  These folks have traveled around the world to see these sites -- let's represent our wonderful country with a polite greeting and a smiling face!  Interesting story, we said hello to a solo hiker who was sitting next to us on the tram to Angel's Landing-- saw him again when he was descening the trail -- saw him the next day at the lodge in Bryce -- and then again the next day on the Glen Canyon Dam bridge overlooking Lake Powell.  There are hundreds of thousands of adventure seekers on the same journey that you may be taking -- take the time to ask them about their adventure!

8.  Be accommodating.  Not every hiker is meant for every path.  Be aware of your limits and choose your hikes carefully.

9.  Stop and look down.  Or look up.  Don't rush your journey. The beauty is everywhere.  Enjoy...

10.  Leave a comment or email me with any questions.  I'm by no means an expert in these parks, but I can surely direct you to a good source for more information on Zion and Bryce!  Namaste.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Saying Hello, Again, To My Fitness Pal

In the never ending quest to BE BETTER, sometimes returning to the basics is a step in the right direction.  My Fitness Pal is that compass for me.

The My Fitness Pal app tracks everything you'll need to keep your body in prime condition:  calories, macronutrients, water consumption, weight, exercise and workouts.  If you're trying to lose or just maintain weight, it will help you set and keep track of a caloric goal.  I particularly love the bar code scanner for easy uploads when you are logging in your food.  For example, that sticker on an apple that you have to peel off before eating --- you know the one.  If you can point the scanner from your phone onto that apple,  your food recording is done! And amazingly, there is a bar code on almost every item you eat.

I also like using the computer to create a meal or a recipe that I eat regularly.  My "Almond Joy Smoothie" was a recipe I added into My Fitness Pal.  I created a name for it and stored it into my phone,  so now I can search and hit "add" so it is logged into the system, eliminating the time spent to record every ingredient every time.

And if logging your daily food intake seems daunting, consider the fact that thousands of restaurant meals and grocery items are already in their database.  So if you want that Chick-fil-a salad and are worried about adding every last ingredient into your account, don't fret!  That salad is already in their system and a simple search will provide all the info you need to log in that delicious dish!

I'm trying to stay dedicated to this app once again.  I believe it is a game changer.  It keeps you HONEST.  My daughter who had a baby last month is a dedicated user of this app, and she has inspired me to return to my roots of logging food.  It's the only way to be true to myself and BE BETTER.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The "WIN" Tunnel

 Last week was an epic week for me -- as it would be for any cyclist.  I got the chance to attend the Specialized Bicycle Components University (or SBCU) in Morgan Hill, California.  I spent time in the Level 2 Fit Class, getting better equipped to fit triathletes and mountain bikers on their bikes.   On the final day, one lucky participant was selected to be the guinea pig in the wind tunnel.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly experience something only a select few pros every get to do.  The class members helped fit me on my size cycle to determine the best position for me for maximum power in the most aero position possible.  I love the science behind this sport we call cycling. Amazing stuff.

Here we are with one of Specialized's physicists in action.  
This aero helmet was found to have the least drag. 

The team adjusting and tweeking my fit. 

If you can't maintain the position, it doesn't work.  But this felt dialed in.  

One happy SBCU camper.  We found the perfect fit! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The "Pony" Tale

'Twas the seconds before Ironman...

And I was in a panic. I had lost my hair tie. A level of dread suddenly rose in my chest. Could I survive the next 12 hours without something to hold my hair back? Ugh! I guess. But it would not be fun. No. No, I needed a hair tie. I fell to my knees patting the ground in search of the black elastic “pony” that had disappeared while I was securing my swim cap.

The National Anthem had been sung and athletes were beginning to file toward the swim start.  “Help!" I shouted.  "Can anyone see a hair tie on the ground?” I understood that most men wouldn't have a clue a) why I needed that tie b) why I was in such a state of stress and even c) what a “pony” even was.

But one friend did. SHE dropped down with me in search of the needle in the haystack and then jumped up and ran away. I thought she was headed toward the start with that “oh well” attitude. But seconds later she returned with the prized possession in her hand, begged off the wrist of a nearby lady spectator.

I secured my hair, gave her a hug and we joined the others down the boat ramp to start our day.

Now this may not seem like such a big deal to most. But I will never forget this act of kindness that filled my heart “three sizes that day”. In the midst of my turmoil, SHE thought not of herself, but of me.

In the spirit of Christmas and the upcoming New Year, may we be more like HER: A little more selfless, a little more loving and a little more kind. Happy holidays, friends. May your new year be wonderful and secure.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Let's Go Ride A BIke

If you've never witnessed the demeanor change in someone the minute they get on a bike -- I'm here to tell you, it's real.  I'm talking about the magical smiles that appear when a child or an adult straddles a bike and pedals off into the distance.

Working in a bike shop has taught me something about this great phenomenon.  There are times when a cyclist or triathlete comes in to pick up their hot new race bike with electrical components and lightning fast carbon wheels and aerodynamic frame.  It's like Christmas.  They oooh and aaah at their new ride, stroke it softly and crouch down to admire the gearing and pedals.  They roll it outside the store and carefully cradle it onto the bike rack and drive home with their precious cargo in tow.

Then there is the "off-the-street" casual consumer strolling by who gets a glimpse of our fat tire cruiser bikes.  They cross the street with a smile on their face to get a closer look at the delightfully colorful two-wheelers, imagining the slow speed cruising they could do around the neighborhood, or even better, as a vehicle for their next pub crawl.

Oh, but the kids are the best.  They come racing in the store to see the bike mom and dad just bought for them.  You can see the smile spread across their face and their eyes light up.  Instantly that child has a new sense of freedom.  They anticipate the feel of the wind rushing through their hair or the ability to have a little independence of their own.

If you get a chance -- go ride a bike.  Some of my favorite memories are renting the City Bikes in Washington, DC to quickly navigate the national monuments with my family.  And in Austin, my friend and I rented the City Bikes there to explore the wonderful trails and byways that were practically hidden by buildings and trees.  We laughed and smiled our way around the city for miles and miles.

It's no wonder that John F. Kennedy was quoted as saying "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike."  Take it easy or take it slow, whatever your pleasure, go ride.

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.