Trail Tales – My Southwest Adventure (Part 1)


A couple of days ago I got home from the trip of a lifetime. 

I was invited by one of my best friends Meredith to tag along on her family’s week-long vacation to Arizona and Utah.

If you’ve never been to that part of the country, please please do whatever you can to get out there because it was so incredibly worth it.

I live in metro Atlanta, which is almost entirely developed and is not particularly breathtaking. There are a few charming pockets of nature, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any site completely void of signs of city life.

Of course, I took Meredith up on her offer. Traveling across the country with my best friend? Sign me up a thousand times.

Within moments of my ecstatic reply, I felt the haunting presence of my food anxieties creeping in.

A week-long trip?? What did that mean for me in terms of eating?

(Isn’t it terrible that these are the things I let myself fret over??)

As my thoughts began their venomous infiltration, I felt a stronger me fight back:

Do you really want to plague this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity by worrying about your macros?

Do you want to be a crazy person, or do you want to be a happy person?

I let myself choose happiness.

I decided to take the ENTIRE week off from tracking. The last time I took time off from tracking was in October at Disney World, but that was only for about three days. This was an entire week. For some people, a week off could really set them back. But for a stress-free week of adventure and exploration, I was willing to take my chances.

My mind, body and appetite were very appreciative.

I documented pretty much everything I ate and everything we did for the sake of this blog, though.

So, enjoy this three-part, half food diary, half life lesson series from my adventure!

Day 1: Travel Day, Camelback Mountain, The Escape Room

I left Atlanta on Sunday, December 13th. I had a direct flight to Phoenix, which is where I would meet Meredith and her family. My flight was at noon. I got to the airport around 10:15, but didn’t have my first meal until I was on the plane.

We needed to hike Camelback Mountain almost immediately after getting off the plane to beat sunset. Meredith and her family had already eaten a big lunch, but I wasn’t going to take the hike with just like, 260 calories to go on. So I grabbed this kind of sad little ham & cheese sandwich from the hotel.


Vanilla Almond Crunch Quest Bar and a Diet Coke

The hike was STRENUOUS. There were some parts where you really had to use all of your limbs to get up. But the weather was great…sunny and mild. I don’t really know how long it took us to get to the top, but I was super happy that I made it up there!


Cheesin over Phoenix


View from the Top

We had to book it down the mountain to make it to our appointment at THE ESCAPE ROOM!!! This was easily one of the highlights of our trip. We had an hour to escape an 80’s-themed room by finding and solving clues. We made it with just a few minutes to spare.


Nancy Drews

Which brings me to Day 1’s Lesson:

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.”
― Tupac Shakur

I don’t want to give too much away about The Escape Room, but I will tell you that there are lots of clues. Some are more helpful than others.

I found myself obsessing over something in the room which I was POSITIVE had to be a clue. I think I wasted about 20 minutes trying to make it work within the context of the game. Turns out that it had nothing to do with helping us escape the room.

Sometimes we get caught up in things that we believe will help us achieve our goals. Sometimes those things blind us from what our goals actually are. I have been guilty of believing that a lean physique is the key to my ultimate happiness. I dove deep in the process of achieving my leanest physique yet, but it did not make me happy. In fact, it made me kind of crazy!

I admit that I do like being aesthetically fit, but there are so many other things that are important to my happiness as well: my friends, having new experiences, eating (heh), learning, helping others…

I will try my hardest to not let one part of the equation overpower the rest of my life.


After all of that physical and mental activity, we were STARVING. One of the employees at the escape room recommended Grimaldi’s, which was just a few blocks down in downtown Scottsdale.



Left: Chicken Sausage & Bacon; Right: Pepperoni

I wasn’t too impressed with it, but that’s because I don’t really prefer thin crust pizza…I like a THICK crust. However, the rest of the group raved about it so I’m sure if you’re into that kind of pizza then you’d like it a lot.

It had been a really long day. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow.

Day 2: Taliesin West and Devil’s Bridge

I got tons of sleep that night, and I felt really energized so I did a light band routine in the morning:

  • Banded bodyweight squats: 3×15
  • Banded lateral walks: 3×10 left/right
  • Banded glute bridges: 3×15
  • Banded seated abduction: 3×30

I brought my resistance bands with me for a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew I was going to be in a pretty big caloric surplus throughout this trip, so might as well put those calories toward building muscle
  2. I wanted to avoid losing strength
  3. I like them

We all met downstairs for continental breakfast:


Ham, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (yes I put the jelly on the biscuit), Greek Yogurt with Some Pineapple and ONE GRAPE… oh and of course coffee.

I normally don’t eat breakfast, but since this was a pretty active vacation, I ate breakfast every day to avoid fatigue/hunger.

After breakfast, we drove out to Taliesin West, which was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home. It is now part of his architecture school and is open to tours.


A terrible photograph of the front of the house


A Lego model of the property! So CUTE.


Mer got to play on his Steinway!!!


Frank had these little scenes from a Japanese play all over the property. The pieces are broken because pack rats like to steal the shiny things, but they replace them with little pieces of succulents! Isn’t that sweet?

Inspired by Mr. Wright, I present Day 2’s lesson:

Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Mr. Wright had lots of jobs, from small residential homes to the Guggenheim Museum. He took great pride in each of them, regardless of their size or notability. Each of his designs are unique and true to his aesthetic.

I think it’s important that no matter what you do, be sure to give it your all. By forming a habit of high performance, you’ll be prepared to take on whatever goals you set for yourself. This is applicable to work, fitness, life, whatever.

I really enjoyed Taliesin. I like looking at houses and imaging what it’d be like to live there. But after almost two hours of touring the property, we were HUNGRY. I had my very first Rubio’s experience:


Mahi Mahi Burrito, Chips, and EVERY KIND OF SALSA

It was SO good. Oh my gosh. I wish they had Rubio’s in the Southeast. I had a hard time picking something from the menu because everything looked delicious, but I was very pleased with what I got!

On to Sedona!!!

Devil’s Bridge was one of the SCARIEST hikes we did! The trail was covered in ice/snow, and it was a pretty steady climb. But it was all worth it once we got to the top.


The Bridge!!! Much scarier from this vantage point than actually being on it.


View from the bridge…unreal.

It was from here that I realized just how beautiful the landscape is out west. There’s NOTHING like this down South. Everything is big…the sky, the mountains, the canyons… it’s unreal. I could’ve stayed up there all day to watch the sunlight change the face of the earth.

But we didn’t because it was freezing and we were hungry.

There was a restaurant called Thai Spices pretty close to our hotel, so we went there for dinner.


Panang Curry with Rice

I hadn’t had Thai in a long time prior to this meal. I really liked what I ordered, but my sweet tooth was starting to kick in. Luckily the hotel provided Chewy bars at check-in, so I had one for dessert 😛


Night cap!

Day 3: Cathedral Rock, Route 66 to Page, AZ

Woke up early and got another band workout in 🙂 Then went down to breakfast:


Weird pancake with chocolate chips all janky on top, southwest scrambled eggs wtih salsa, sausage patty, sugar-free syrup, and a piña colada parfait: Greek yogurt, pineapple, coconut!

Agenda for Tuesday: Cathedral Rock!

Cathedral Rock is a pretty popular hiking location because of its supposed “vortexes,” or areas of energy. I won’t attempt to explain it. Go here.

Despite its popularity, it was pretty barren when we got there because of the weather. You can’t really tell in the picture below, but the rocks were covered in thin layers of ice.


We attempted to go all the way to the top, but had to turn around when a huge patch of ice halted our plan 😦


Slidin back down

This is a pretty cliche lesson for the day, but it’s worth noting:


Really though, even though we didn’t make it to the top, we had SO much fun. I think the climb/descent of Cathedral Rock was one of the highlights of the trip. We made it as far as we could go (which was pretty high especially without snow gear on our shoes), and we laughed at ourselves as we slid down on our butts to the trail head.


Oh and we looked freaking amazing. That Arizona lighting, y’all.

We also visited the Center for the New Age to see all the …special… things people believe in.


Just some Christmas aliens.

After that, we made our way up Route 66 to Page, AZ. We stopped along the way for lunch in Williams, AZ, a historic railroad town. We ate at the Red Raven Restaurant.


“Medallions of Pork Salad: Char broiled medallions of all natural pork tenderloin served on a bed of fresh salad greens, lightly tossed with our citrus vinaigrette. Topped with a pineapple-cranberry salsa, pine nuts, grape tomatoes,red onion and feta cheese”

By this point on the trip I was craving a big salad. I usually have a salad every day because I like the volume and the versatility. The pork was PERFECT. I didn’t touch the dressing because the salsa was plenty for flavor.


Stopped for some saltwater taffy too! I think these were banana split and s’mores.

Once we got to Page, we went over to a viewpoint at the Grand Canyon:

It was very cold, so we took shelter by shopping  in some of the stores in the marketplace area of the national park. Then we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant near our hotel called Plaza Bonita.


I went a little crazy with these…


Some sort of white fish on a salad with mango and stuff

Again I ordered a salad, but that’s because I kind of filled myself up with chips and salsa and something about the mango was calling my name.


This is JUST THE BEGINNING! There are still five more days of adventure (and FOOD) to cover.

I still wish I were back there right nowwwww. Stay tuned for more Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Arches National Park!


3 thoughts on “Trail Tales – My Southwest Adventure (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Southwest Adventures – Part 2 | Quarter-Life Cassidy

  2. Pingback: Southwest Adventures – Part 3 | Quarter-Life Cassidy

  3. Pingback: Who Should We Follow…Today? – The Biggest Choice Ever, Happiness

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