Phoenix (Part 2)

**Long post warning! **

The second half of my trip to Phoenix was dedicated to celebrating my very favorite bride-to-be! One of my very best childhood friends, Rachel, is set to be married this June! It seems like they’ve been engaged forever, and I think I speak for all of the bridal party (and the bride) when I say we cannot wait for this wedding! Knowing her bridesmaids were from all over the country, it was a destination weekend, and everyone was able to make it! How awesome is that?! A few of her bridesmaids I knew from growing up together in the suburbs of Kansas City, but most of them were from her alma mater (Oklahoma State University), and I finally got to meet them. After months of an ongoing group text, I felt like I practically knew everyone already, ha! But by the end of the weekend, we all felt like we were all friends, so we can enjoy the wedding weekend together that much more!

Rachel picked Phoenix because it’s year round perfect weather there and the spring time feels like glorious summer anywhere we live. And let’s be honest, we all need tans for those bridesmaid dresses. Somehow our cloudy weekend fell in the midst of two weeks of sunshine, darn it. But I somehow still managed to get a little tan (it’s amazing how much a little color in your face can do!) and I am almost less pale than my red-headed husband. You know you’ve been stuck inside when your ginger family is all tanner than you! The house Rachel found had an awesome backyard pool, complete with a poolside bar, ping pong table, corn hole, fire pits, and a flat screen television. We probably could have just rented the backyard for the weekend and been perfectly happy, ha!

The theme for the weekend was cheetah, Cheetos, and pool floats.

The first night we stayed in and wore our pajamas. I knew I was going to like these girls when someone pulled out some cheesy pajamas gifted to them by Rachel’s grandmother. We ate about a pizza per person and the most delicious cheetah cake. After two hikes in two days, I was not arguing one bit with staying in and catching up on rest and chatting! Rachel’s mom and sister were also there, who I absolutely adore, and have since I was 12! It was nice to catch up on what they were doing since I don’t get to do that nearly enough living so far from my hometown. (Can they just start up a Marine Corps base in Kansas City please?) I should point out that Rachel has some seriously great friends. All of these girls are smart, pretty, funny, and so on, and so on. Out of this group here we had teachers, a real estate agent, a NICU nurse and an ICU nurse at a children’s hospital! (The same hospital that Nicki from Juan Pablo’s Bachelor season works at, I embarrassingly must add).  It was fun to talk to other working women. In the military community, I find so many friends who are stay-at-home moms. While I could admittedly talk about diaper changing and the daunting number of dirty bottles in my sink for hours on end, it was fun to connect with other working women for a few days!

On our second day we were all up early (time change gets me every time I travel). We were determined to hike Camelback Mountain. This is one of my hikes from a few days earlier, and a bit challenging. My best assessment of its difficulty level is if you’re fit, you can get up it. But if you don’t hike, I promise you’ll be out of breath. So off we went. We made it up about a third of the mountain before we decided the picture looked like we were on the top and we didn’t want to go any further. Our legs were burning and the pool was calling our name.

We saw another bridal party and they hopped in a picture with us! It must have been the bachelorette weekend in Phoenix because we ended up seeing so many!

I can’t believe I somehow didn’t get a picture of our transportation for the weekend. Rachel rented a 15 passenger monster of a van. Hilarious. We filled every single seat in there, and despite being a complete eyesore, it was comic relief when we saw Rachel’s mom pull up in the big white beast – and extremely functional, ha!

Phoenix is such a gorgeous city! I loved, loved, loved visiting here! It amazed me how flat everything is, and then mountain. There are so many cool hikes and beautiful scenes that us non-desert livers aren’t used to and I was soaking them up… mostly by taking 45 scenery pictures. After the hike, we loaded up the van and headed back to base. AKA our pool floats.
On Saturday night, we ventured out to downtown Scottsdale. Call us cliché, but the bride wore white and the rest of us black. It’s a tradition that can’t be broken – ask the three other bridal parties out on the same night wearing the same thing, ha! Before we left, we took a billion pictures in the backyard of our house… how could you not with the gorgeous lights everywhere?!

We ate at a restaurant called Culinary Dropout. This place was delicious, but by this time I was missing my husband something fierce because I had no one to finish the other half of my ribs! My frugal-mom side wanted so bad to take them home, but we were still going out of the night and apparently that’s not cool when you’re out on the town with the girls. Old habits die hard, I suppose. Does anyone else struggle leaving perfectly good food on the table?!

I would totally go back to this restaurant. One of the best parts was the live music! They had a guy with his guitar singing the whole time – this 60-something year old guy was serenading us with old Jimmy Buffett songs and I was loving it. After all, it was my first concert and I’m pretty sure I had every single album. Random guitar player and singer of covers named Kevin last Saturday in Phoenix – you were great!

And off we went for a few drinks on the town.

It was definitely a weekend to remember. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. I mean Rachel’s little baby sister (Julia – who is convinced we named our little Julia after her!) is a teacher. With her very own classroom next year. Graduated from college. It’s a little reality check when your friends’ younger siblings grace the professional world with such beauty, talent, and promise. Seriously, how did that happen?! The travel back was long. As usual. I don’t think it’s fair to travel to our local airport and not expect delays. But on the bright side, you’re always reassured you’re at the right gate in the airport by the tan backpacks covered in military patches and medium fade haircuts. Ah, the joys of living in a military town. And completely random, but I managed to sit next to a fellow college athlete who knew a classmate from our boarding school. Such a coincidence! I’ve been meaning to blog about our boarding school (Holderness School) for quite some time now. Maybe I’ll get to that soon, or before our tenth high school reunion – yikes! And last but not least, to Rachel. You are going to make the most beautiful bride! I’m honored to stand by your side as you marry the man of your dreams in a few short weeks. We’ve had the most amazing friendship over the last fifteen years, and I’m so happy you’re always a rock in my life!  Raise your hands if you love weddings… (insert hand raising emoji here). See you soon, bride!

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