Minnesota & Arizona

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Hiking the Boulders, Arizona

Good morning from the top o' the rocks! Our second day at The Boulders, we took a walk to explore a bit, and walked up behind the pool to discover a thin trail that just went straight up into the heart of totally gigantic boulders leaning up against each other, piled up to make huge hills. It felt like we'd entered a giant's lair! We had no idea the trails were there and kept climbing up and up. And the rest of our time there, we just kept coming back. At night, Walk climbed up to catch the…

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Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

Serendipitously, when we were planning our trip to Arizona, we stumbled upon the coolest thing (in many senses of the word cool). I knew we'd be near my friend Naomi's place, so I searched nearby her address for attractions. I discovered the Desert Botanical Garden would be having their yearly winter luminary show while we were in Arizona. We showed up to a huge botanical garden that we could've spent hours in, lit by luminaries on the gourd, on ledges, on paths, and even on roofs. To round out…

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Nature Trails, Scottsdale, Arizona

While staying at The Boulders, we hiked hither and yon over some of the 1300 acres of the property. It was the biggest surprise of the trip that we could hike right out of our casita into the piles of boulders stacked on the hills. We walked and golf-carted around miles of Sonoran desert landscape. Before this trip to Arizona, I've never seen so many varieties of cacti, and for an East Coaster, it felt like I'd entered the magical world of Dr. Seuss. Starbursts and spike balls, purples and…

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The Boulders, Carefree, Arizona

In Scottsdale/Carefree, we stayed in the peaceful casitas of The Boulders, where our only fears were that we'd get splashed from a golf ball gone haywire, or the spa cafe would be out of gluten free blueberry muffins. This was Walker and I's first time at the resort and we were seriously astounded. From the moony cacti at the entrance, to the golf cart rides on demand, to the morning mists on the green, the entire stay felt like a deep exhale. Here's a peak into our casita (little house): We…

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Hiking near Scottsdale, AZ

After a few days under the rusty spires of Sedona, we headed back down to Scottsdale for significantly warmer weather, blue skies, and fields of cacti. I was completely smitten with the landscape and color palette of the Sonoran desert, so calm. In this post, I'll show you a few hikes we took, and next post, I'll share more details about our stay in Scottsdale. Here we go! Cave Creek Regional Park Our first taste of the tall saguaros was in Cave Creek. We had to pay a small entrance fee, and I…

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Sedona: Bell Rock

A month later in the seesaw rain and damp of February here, I'm still dreaming of the Arizona dry air from January. Our trip started off in Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Here's my final ode to the chalky dust of the Sedona rocks. After a warm hike at Marg's Draw and an incredible lunch at the most gluten-free friendly restaurant I've ever been (Picazzo's), we headed out for one last look around. Our first stop was a quick walk up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, snuggled up next to blaring…

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Sedona: Marg's Draw

Our concierge in Sedona recommended the Marg's Draw hike, and it was definitely my favorite hike of the trip. The trail, dotted with varieties of cacti with a deep, red soil running through, was so weedless it looked like a garden for miles. The path wound up and around dry gullies and a few streams. Meanwhile, above, there were always the stark red, rusted rock formations like stalagmites escaped from a cave and glowing in the sun. Halfway through the hike, a family passed in the opposite…

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Sedona

The first mention of Sedona that ever perked my ears was in Scotland, when one of my friends told me it was the most beautiful place she'd ever been. When we researched spots to stay near the Grand Canyon, the options were sparse, so we decided on Sedona, about 2 hours south of the Canyon, as our launching spot. Driving into Sedona right after sun set was like entering a red cave. The rocks we curled around in the slow evening traffic loomed, almost glowing overhead. The town of Sedona is…

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The Grand Canyon

The week after Christmas we glided over the Rockies to much warmer climes than the snows of the midwest to what turned out to be one of the most restful times we had all year. Wonderfully, I had over two full weeks of vacation for Christmas, the longest stretch of vacation I’ve had since moving to New York, and my in-laws generously planned a trip with us to the warmth of Arizona between Christmas and New Year. On the itinerary: the Grand Canyon, the red castle rocks of Sedona, and the boulders…