Last weekend, while Albany hunkered down for a powerful snowstorm and arctic temperatures, I hopped on a nonstop flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Ultimate destination: Miami Beach. Despite the government shutdown, my timing was good and I made it through Albany International (*giggle*) Airport security in no time and boarded the JetBlue flight in the second group, pretty much ensuring that there would be space for my carry-on bag. I’d been burned in both directions on my recent trip to California when I’d had to surrender my bag to be checked and I had no time to waste waiting on checked luggage on a tight weekend. Minutes count, you know?
Following a comfortable flight, my first on JetBlue, I was collected curbside by a very old friend and we headed to South Beach for drinks. It was Art Deco Weekend, an event with all sorts of activities like music, performances, dancing and food and drink related happenings. Ocean Drive was closed to traffic and under the light of an increasingly larger moon, we walked around checking out the scene. It felt incredible to be outdoors, walking with a mojito in hand, and my indulgent decision to take this trip was confirmed as the correct impulse. I was so happy to be there!
The remainder of my brief time in Miami was spent walking for miles, eating and drinking liberally, gazing at Deco buildings and the Atlantic, and simply relaxing whether that came in the form of a run, a nap, or a lounge chair with a view. And a cushion. I stayed with a friend (Thanks, MB!) and the location of his rental house was fantastic well within my range of walking distance from the terrace of The Standard, Lincoln Road Mall and the ocean. When the destination was deemed as too far, we Ubered and Lyfted, but I also noticed a free shuttle that might have been an option if your budget was particularly limited.
There was a bountiful meal at Mr. Chow in the W Hotel, the decided upon location when I explained that I needed a place to wear a special dress and delicious baked goods and cafe con leche from a place filled with flavor, both local and imported. I had a wonderful meal of the evening’s special preparation of red snapper at the bar of Stiltsville Fish Bar, watching the Patriots game, before we Ubered to a cash only dive bar, where the game continued. I drank too much tequila, but my sunscreen application was mostly on point and I came home a bit worse for the wear, but with a glow that was more golden than green. Or so I’d like to think.
I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again. It was a terrific little almost-mid-winter getaway. Have you ever split town for a weekend in a similar fashion? Where did you go?
Filed under beauty, breakfast, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Exercise, friends, ideas, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, snow, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, winter
Here are some photos from my recent trip to the desert. I’m already looking at the calendar for Christmas 2019. I need to get back there again to spend time with someone I dearly love and to soak in more of this beauty.
Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, Flowers, friends, Hiking, holidays, love, Observations, Recommendations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, winter
When I travel I refuse to overbook myself or make too many specific plans, preferring to be flexible because it’s vacation and having a rigid schedule sort of contradicts that concept for me. Prior to departing from home, I familiarize myself with some of the offerings and attractions available at my destination and try to determine what might need to be booked in advance. It sucks when there’s something you might want to experience when you’re visiting a new (or favorite) place only to learn that reservations needed to be made ahead of time – think the statue of David in Florence or the Washington Memorial in D.C.
Beyond those sort of points of interest, I’m all about getting a feel for a place, figuring out what can be accomplished without sacrificing my vacation vibe and seeing how the local weather influences which activities can be enjoyed. On this trip, my focus has been spending time with a dear friend, but I did have a couple of items on my hope-to-do list. On Friday I knocked two of them off.
I began with Joshua Tree National Park, a place I’ve never been before. As a person who considers U2’s 1987 album an absolute desert island record, checking out JTNP has long interested me. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown, along with a fierce and cold wind, made for a less than ideal visit. There weren’t any guided tours or services available and I was hesitant to hike any distance solo, so my explorations were limited to a short walk and some clambering up rock piles to access the best views – and what views there were! Every direction beckoned and I had to remind myself to not allow the vistas to tempt me into going further into the park (and away from where I had parked) in an attempt to see what might be visible from a different angle.
The wind was numbing and my hands were stiff from the cold, but the hour or so I spent looking around, climbing and shooting photos provided an introduction to a fantastic national resource that I hope to visit again under better conditions. With teeth nearly chattering, I made for my car and a destination that promised to warm me up – Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. I needed to soak.
It wasn’t easy to find a spot that offered mineral baths with a day use option, but the established Miracle Springs met my requirements of convenient location, multiple outdoor pool options and not expensive since I only planned to indulge myself for an hour or two. This place checked all the boxes and the $14 daily use fee was just what I was looking to spend. If you’re hoping for fancy this may not be the resort for you, but, if you’re satisfied with hot, bubbling water, sunshine on your face and a view of the mountains, perhaps you’ll be content. I was. Bonus if you, like me, enjoy a dry sauna because there are even a couple of those available. Not luxurious, but more than serviceable and a great way to warm up on a cool, high desert day.
Stretched & soaked
The other afternoon I hit the hills for a hike/run. The sun was warm and I was comfortable in a tank top and capri length pants – a treat to someone who has been layering up in UnderArmour for the past couple of months.
I made it up the first long, steep hill without pause, using my technique of only looking up to the top of the hill once before training my gaze to the ground more immediately in front of me. I find this A. helps me to not get intimidated by how much farther I have to go and B. limits my likelihood of tripping and falling down.
The next hill leveled me. Hands on knees, gasping, I took a moment to look around. The San Jacinto mountains divided the horizon between sky and desert and I was struck by my incredible good fortune. I got to be here, right now, stretching my legs and challenging myself by running up a friggin killer hill in the sunshine. How lucky was I?
As my breathing evened out, I considered that in 2018 I’ve run surrounded by some pretty incredible mountain views – Vesuvius, the Austrian Alps and now these brown mountains dusted with snow in the distance. My eyes welled up and a tear leaked out before I burst out laughing. What a gift, what a life, what a day.
I took a deep breath and started running again.
Filed under Austria, beauty, California, Exercise, favorites, Hiking, Italy, musings, Observations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation
Yesterday I spent a lot of time on my feet exploring and reacquainting myself with Palm Springs. In the morning, I hoofed it to Palm Canyon Drive to wander along the wide avenue, browsing shop windows and people watching. The cloudless blue sky and mild temperatures made it easy to lose myself for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed my alone time.
Later in the day, my friend R and I drove to meet a friend of hers for a walk, that is a walk for me to take with R’s friend, J. An MS diagnosis has caused my friend to curtail her activities and she wanted to give me a chance to exert myself, so naturally a hike with 80 year-old J was just what I needed. Um, ok.
I’ve walked and run these trails before and they are no bullshit. The grade can be pretty steep, the trail is often quite wide, but equally rutted and rocky and the surface is an unsympathetic sandy dirt. Introductions were made and a remarkably fit and youthful J and I headed up the hill in the warm sunshine.
It turns out that J, a retired Canadian teacher-librarian (!), and I immediately hit if off. Our conversation, between catching our breath from the demands of the trail, was easy and comfortable. We talked about sons and husbands and divorce and politics and life and the time flew by. Her fitness was impressive and she told me how conscientiously she has worked to stay active, how it hasn’t been easy but she feels rewarded by her efforts. She was a marvel.
We made our way down the hill to meet R, who we were going to walk a bit back up the hill with to cool down. As we collected R, another woman familiar to my friends joined us, E. Walking poles in hand with eyes of the brightest blue, E, another active 80 year-old, became part of our posse. I learned she was a retired physical therapist and it seems, judging from her level of fitness, she was good at her job. E made some suggestions to me to work on my bothersome piriformis muscle and shared some thoughts on staying active. Her walk with us was her second time of the day to hit the hill and she said it wasn’t unusual for her to visit the trail three times in a day. Wow.
Growing old can be daunting. We don’t do a great job taking care of the aged in our country and I could really get myself freaked out about staying independent and healthy, but after my time yesterday afternoon, I’m feeling more inspired and positive than I’ve ever been previously about what 70 or 80 might look like. Honestly, I’m hoping to grow up and become Rose.
The running here is magical. I’ve been known to take a run, drive back “home,” hear a good song and take a second run. True story.
Do I look like a desert girl to you? I said desert, not dessert, folks… As a fair skinned, half Irish person, I never imagined that I would be so captivated by the desert, specifically Palm Springs, but I absolutely love it there. There’s something about the dry heat, spectacular mountains and clear, cool nights that keeps me coming back for more and I’m excited to be visiting a close friend who lives there soon.
Have you been there? It truly is a desert oasis – gorgeous homes, beautiful people and a climate that during the winter and spring months offers fantastic running in the hills surrounding the city. Palm Springs is the place where I ate my first Mexican food and drank my first margarita, which obviously makes it forever special. I’ve also taken the aerial tramway to the top of the San Jacintos for a “hike,” spent a significant amount of time hanging out poolside, and, way back in the day, went as close to clubbing as I’ve ever been. It’s a fun, cool town and I’m looking forward to getting back there this winter.
Now, here’s where you come in – beyond the experiences I’ve already enjoyed in PS, what should I do when I’m there? I’ve been drawn to a mid-century modern aesthetic in recent years and am thinking that an architectural house tour might be fun. Have you ever done that there? The last time I was in Palm Springs I found a nice little hot yoga studio that I may hit up again, but maybe you have a recommendation for a place for a challenging class or two, preferably not Bikram? There seem to be hot springs in the area and I would love to soak outdoors in some hot and bubbly water. Suggestions? And, lastly, maybe you’ve been to the surrounding area? What else should I try to see when I’m there?
Filed under beauty, California, Exercise, favorites, friends, Hiking, ideas, Recommendations, running, Uncategorized, winter, yoga
While I don’t expect I’ll ever be blasé about running 13.1 miles, I do feel increasingly comfortable with the distance. I won’t say it’s easy, but it a manageable distance that challenges without much post-race discomfort.
Yesterday, I ran my 10th half, an accomplishment I never could have predicted when I did my first in 2016. This particular race was scheduled perfectly for my life, in that it was in Syracuse, where my brother lives, and on his birthday, which made it the ideal weekend destination.
I went into the race feeling ok about my conditioning, but not necessarily as well trained as I was for last month’s Newport Half. I anticipated some hills, which would slow down my pace, but hadn’t imagined the picturesque snow falling from the sky and completing the pretty, nearly winter conditions. It was cool and appropriate for snowy Syracuse.
The route began and finished at the OnCenter. The miles in between were primarily residential neighborhoods with some business/commercial areas thrown into the mix. The crowds were fun and supportive, especially in the early miles. For me, the last couple of miles were less than spectacular in terms of scenery and performance, but I pushed through and crossed the finish line in 2:14:17 – a new PR to best my Newport PR of 2:17:01.
I had kind of given up on ever completing a half in less than 2:15, so I’m thrilled with my time and super proud that I seem to be getting faster, not older.* The yoga class I took on Saturday, before we headed to Syracuse, definitely helped me physically and mentally. During the times when I felt most tired, I worked to release tension or tightening in all of my muscles which were not being put to use to propel me forward. Gripped fists? Let them go. Facial grimace? Smile. Weight of the world on my shoulders? Shrug it off. Thanks, Samara!
My race calendar is, sadly, pretty blank other than next month’s Last Run, but I’m looking at a few new events for 2019. Any favorite 1/2 marathon courses you might recommend?
*Credit for this wise statement goes to a special friend who joined me for the weekend. He’s smart, right?