I’ll attempt to not spend a whole page talking about one of the biggest, and most fun, coincidences ever. Long story short – I had two childhood best friends. Ellie and Rachel. We’ll start with Ellie. She got married last September and moved to Phoenix with her new husband, Mark! Unfortunately their wedding was awful timing for me (just after Steve deployed amidst work chaos and adjusting to temporary single motherhood), and I was so sad to miss it. No matter how I recrunched the plans and made arrangements, we just couldn’t swing it. I could go on about how heartbroken I was (and still am, a little), but this weekend was surely a step to making up for the missed memories! Back to the story. It’s wedding season for a lot of our friends, because my other childhood bestie, Rachel, is engaged to be married in June! Since her bridal party is from allllll over the country, she picked Scottsdale, Arizona for the pre-wedding festivities! Beautiful sunny weather so all of us bridesmaids could work on our much needed tans… So she rented an awesome house with a pool (more on that next time)… Only SIX miles from Ellie’s apartment. Of all the places in the US, my two childhood best friends were going to be SIX miles from each other… On the SAME weekend…. And it was Ellie’s 27th birthday weekend! Count. Me. In.
I wasn’t 100% sure initially if I would be able to swing the trip. Military homecoming dates are so up in the air until they’re actually on the plane, and sometimes you only have days notice to when they’re coming home! I wasn’t sure if the Scottsdale festivities would be before, after, or during Steve’s deployment homecoming, so I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work out. It did, and it couldn’t have fell into place more flawlessly. I initially felt a little guilty scheduling a girl’s trip less than three weeks after the hubby came home. But knowing it was a once in a lifetime coincidence of a trip, he INSISTED, telling me that he would have a fun Daddy-toddler weekend and could use the time with the kids without me after ten months away. Marginally convinced, I booked my ticket and I am so grateful for his endless selflessness and support in so many parts of my life!
So off I went to Scottsdale. I’ve always been intrigued by Arizona, but haven’t spent time there to see if I love it. I love it. The weather was beautiful and the humidity was non-existent. The variety of the landscape. There was desert in one direction and mountains in the next. The hiking trails were beautiful and a short drive north gets you in skiing territory. Amazing. Scottsdale was an awesome city and I found myself wishing we could be stationed there! I haven’t decided whether I would grow tired of the lack of grass, but I’m already thumbing the calendar for the next chance to visit Ellie!
Growing up, Ellie was not my shopping and make-up friend. We spent all of our time outside. Often playing sports (we were on the softball, volleyball, basketball, and track teams together), and if we weren’t playing sports we were pretending we were little boys. Mountain biking, creek swimming, tree climbing, and all-around torturing our younger siblings. It’s amazing either of us turned out as girly as we did. And so when she asked if I was up for a few hikes when I visited, the answer was “duh.” Knowing the Rachel half of my trip would be filled up with pool lounging, I wanted to get out and explore!
We did two hikes. The first was Camelback Mountain. Y’all, if you’re considering this hike, I’ll warn you. It’s a huge tourist attraction. My midwest/east coast self had even heard of it. But if you’re thinking of an easy-peasy afternoon hike, this isn’t it. If you’re fit, it’s definitely doable, but we were taking “picture” breaks like it was cool. The view from the top (and the peanut butter granola bar) were even more rewarding, given how much effort the hike up took!
After a date to the dog park and a delicious girl’s dinner out, Ellie hosted me at their apartment and was so welcoming. I think it was probably our 487th sleepover over the years, but this time we now have husbands and dogs – weird. They have the sweetest little Vizsla puppy who snuggled up to me on the couch and I could have slept forever. But I didn’t, because the time change had me up and ready to go at 5:00. Which worked in my favor for once, because we had time to squeeze in a hike we didn’t originally plan on doing – Tom’s Thumb!
So we hopped in her trusty Jeep and off we went. The views getting to these hikes were spectacular. It amazed me that we could be in the cutest city and five minutes later we were driving with scenery like this.
We had yet another beautiful day for a hike. Tom’s Thumb was more remote than Camelback, and a good bit longer. Roundtrip took us about three hours, but we were taking our sweet time along the route.
We spent most of the hikes talking weddings and hometown and families. So much has changed since we were little sixth graders passing notes in Mr. Bartelli’s science class!
Eventually we made it to the top of the mountain! The views were, again, spectacular. I could have hiked everyday all week and been immensely entertained. Ellie showed me pictures from longer backpacking trips she and her husband have done together and hiking Arizona has officially made my bucket list. Steve and I will be back, someday.
I would have felt totally satisfied having only spent two days of hiking with Ellie and flying home to my family. But I wasn’t even halfway done with the weekend of festivities! We made a quick stop at Nordstrom Rack that wasn’t so quick (whoops, sorry honey!). The shopping in Scottsdale is ah-mazing! And then Ellie drove me the quick six miles to Rachel’s house! I bid my see-you-soon’s to Ellie, I’m seriously hoping to be back sooner rather than later, and I was off to celebrate the bride-to-be! How are all three of us going to be married in a matter of weeks?! Where does life go?! In the meantime, we are off to enjoy our mini family vacation in Florida! My family officially devoured the continental breakfast and the toddler energy is about to bust this hotel room at the seams! Be back soon with Phoenix – part two!