A Quick Arizona Escape

This trip explores the three National Parks in Arizona, from north to south and some nice national forests, canyons and scenic drives in AZ. I am sure there are many, many more to explore, and visiting Arizona again is not out of the question. The only thing of popular note we missed is visiting the Havasu Falls area, which I heard inquiring a permit for is extremely difficult anyway. That will be for another time.

Day 1 – I landed in Tucson early morning and hopped in a car filled with friends, veggie wraps and cupcakes. We drove towards the Grand Canyon via Sedona’s Red Rock Scenic Byway. Taking this short 7.5 mile byway is well worth the extra half-hour.

Sedona Red Rocks

Going the scenic way takes five and a half hours, no stops. But, we got out and hiked around for a quick bit, enjoying our first bits of AZ sunshine. It gets cold up north.  We got to the Grand Canyon with dwindling crowds, not to mention it was a Wednesday, and we stayed for a most awesome sunset. The whole thing absolutely breathtaking, never ending, and bigger than anything I’ve seen here.


We stayed in Flagstaff for the night. It took little over an hour, but the hotels are probably cheaper – I never checked lodging pricing near the park, but the mountain-town feel of the hotels seem to be a tourist trap. Forgive me if I’m wrong.

Day 2 – Good morning! If you have an extra day and can successfully plan and get a camping permit for Havasu, go. It’s very close to the Grand Canyon. On our end, we picked through the complimentary breakfast and filled up our water bottles and bladders for the 3 hour drive to to Petrified Forest National Park. We followed Route 40 to the the north end, beginning at the Painted Forest Visitor’s Center.

Painted Desert, AZ

The drive is 26-miles of pristine road with perfect overlooks and paved trails. The most astounding thing is just how much the scenery changes. From red desert to rainbows of blue, the views are always different from each stop. Take the marked trails and explore what you wish, there are many.

Blue Mesa, the beginnings of the Petrified Forest
Crystal Forest, where the petrified wood shows off colors of Quartz.

I was pleasantly surprised. I did not think the petrified wood would spark my interest, but it was gorgeous! And to think the area used to be a lush rainforest for the dinosaurs. All in all, it took us to about mid day, choosing to hike only Blue Mesa and Crystal Forest, but stopping plenty of times. Time to drive south. We were pretty exhausted by the time we stopped in Show Low for food and gas, and I had to pull over on the drive home via Route 60 for the gorgeous views of Salt River Canyon – both to take pictures and to switch drivers. The elevation got me for the first time here.

Straight out of Jurassic Park – definitely can see dinos here.

Finally, we land just south of Tucson, popular for Saguaro National Park and birding.

Day 4 – We visited some short, uphill hikes where I was pushed to my limits and realized I hated hiking without the shade of trees when the weather is 85+. With trees, hiking a mile up Ramsey Canyon’s steep switchbacks and a ton of birders at the base had me looking up and around and everywhere. Hamburg trail led to a beautiful overlook at 6,200′ and also had me stopping every hundred feet or so to catch my breath. Again with the elevation. Nearby, we made another stop at Corondo Cave Trail for a short half-mile hike to the open cave and had some fun exploring. Past that, we took the dirt mountain road to the Coronado National Memorial scenic overlook at 6,700′. Mexico was on the other side.

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Did I mention southern Arizona had wineries? It does. I drowned my sunburn with crisp whites late into the day.

Day 5 – There was a rest day shoved in there somewhere. My flight was in the late afternoon and that means I can fit in just one more park. I went to see what Arizona looks like in the movies – Saguaro. These suckers are HUGE! And old. This is a short and sweet 8-mile drive through some scenic views and quick hikes. Unfortunately, it put the nail in the coffin for my hate of hiking in the desert. I feel bad for it, like I should be more grateful, but would you really think someone who loves the snow would love the desert, too? It doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful… I just liked it more from the car, with AC blowing in my face.DSC_1470DSC_1445

That’s it, thats all. See more fun posts of wineries and rainbow wood on Instagram – @christina_skis and let me know what else I should have visited on my way! Maybe I’ll come back after Monsoon season.




The 5-to-9 Microadventure

I fear that in the work-life balance triangle, career-relationships-self care, I have hypothetically circled work as one of my designated (you can have two, but not all three). My “millennial” mind rages at the choice. However, at the same time, people ask, “How are you, what’s new?” and I reply, “Oh, nothing, just working.” Where do we lose ourselves in this routine? Why can’t we have all three?

I feel that most people my age are caught up in the hustle of trying to advance in their job, continue friendships and keep their newly-built families happy. But where does self-care fall, the one that gets thrown to the wayside most of the time, at least for me?

In reality, “oh, nothing, just working,” is a lie.

What happens in the 5 to 9? How about the 60 hours between 6 pm Friday Happy Hour and the 6 am Hell of Monday’s alarm clock? That’s a lot of time not to be checking emails and to be free of the grasp of work.

I create my own microadventure. Some days, I hike with my dog. I am trying to walk every trail on the park map. I am going to complete the 52 Hike Challenge one of these years. Other days, I am working out to get ready for ski season so I don’t repeat what happened this season. Squeezing in Arizona to visit my best friend. Touring the hell out of a bunch of National Parks. Planning trips to local parks. Why does “just working” come out of my mouth?

Maybe it’s so people can relate. I used to get upset about how I don’t have many friends who enjoy skiing anymore, or the thought that nobody wants to hike with me. My problem was, I never asked. With the belief that people are caught up in their jobs, I also believe that not one of my friends would say, “no” to a 2-hour hike. In fact, I know a few acquaintances would me more than happy to join me on the slopes for the day. If I told people what I was doing, they’d probably come. It may take some coaxing to get out of their work state of mind, and even more so to unplug, but I’d love to inspire others that think they just can’t, to take a microadventure of their own. 

Backyard camping with a pool and a tent.

After all, you can have one out in the backyard, no traveling required. This is my kind of 5-to-9. Get out there and enjoy it.

This post was inspired by this article from the editor of Outside Magazine.

The Truck-load List

Why do we have to put it in a bucket? There are so many things I want to do and see in life, and opportunities to conquer those desires are few and far between. My life has consisted of a lot of “I want” instead of “I have done,” and this blog started as almost a half-push to get my ass going.

travel, states
This is the saddest visit map I’ve ever seen. Add California, Arizona and Texas if you want to count ages 0-1 years.
  • Australia, Philipenes, Galapagos, Brazil, Ireland, Greece, Italy (again), Spain (Again), too many to count. Don’t even get me started on the States. All of them, starting with Alaska. National Parks, State Parks, I want to see it all.
  • Skydiving – this is happening. I just so happen to know a guy…
  • Waterfall Hunting, everywhere. I will hit Rickets Glen, PA and Blackwater Falls, WV this summer.
  • Snorkeling… I would love to scuba but I am terrified of sharks. Need to do it now. Thank you media.
  • And of course, ski (or snowboard) unlimited powder runs all over the West, North and into Canada.
  • Bonnaroo. See Pearl Jam live. See a festival out of the country. A DJ Koze show. Beardyman live.
  • Ride a cutting horse. Compete in reined cowhorse competition. Show at Congress. Wait… own a horse.
  • Turn any children I have into little rippers immediately.
waterfall, nature, ice, winter
A Frozen Cucumber Falls – Ohiopyle, PA
trail, hike, trees, outdoors, woods
View from McCune Trail – Sugarloaf, PA

I can’t even fit most of my adventure dreams and travel lists into one bucket. I don’t even have one genre of bucket. Travel, adventure sports, horses, music… It’s all over the place. How can you ask me to fit THIS into a bucket? It’s a truckload.