Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ride 'Em Segway: Scottsdale Segway Tours


 Discovering Scottsdale, Arizona on a Segway.

I have traveled to Phoenix, Arizona area many times to visit my grandparents. My most recent trip was this last November with my sister. Though I love visiting my grandparents, their age and health does not permit them to venture very far from home. 

It dawned on me on my last trip that I've never seen Old Town Scottsdale, though I have always wanted to. While in the hotel lobby, I found a brochure for a two hour Segway Tour. Perfect! A fun way to see Old Town without taking too much time away from our grandparents.





 Though I've been on a Segway before, my sister had not. At Scottsdale Segway Tours, they spent an ample amount of time in the parking lot making sure we knew how to operate the Segway. It's actually easy to learn. The slight lean to turn reminded me of downhill skiing and since we're both skiiers we caught on quickly.




 We'd like to think we were pros, but we never did get a job offer. I've stopped waiting for the phone to ring.
 After our training session, we followed our guides through the Scottsdale Civic Center. Vendors were setting up for an event. After posing for photos in front of the fountain, we had a chance to see Robert Indiana's famous LOVE sculpture. Scottsdale takes pride in promoting the arts and it is evident everywhere.





We worked our way toward the Soleri Bridge and Plaza. At the bridge, is an amazing sun dial (not pictured). I was glad I had the tour guides to show us how it worked. If I had walked to the bridge alone, I would have had no idea how they worked or what they were.


 .
Near the bridge is the famous Goldwater Bell by Paolo Soleri. Even if we act silly, we were in awe of the incredible talent of this great wind chime artist. I love discovering artists I have never heard of.



 Segways are great fun, even if the only time you get your heart rate up is if someone walks in front of you and you forget how to stop. Luckily, we didn't run over anybody.

The tour wouldn't be complete without a ride through Main Street where the sculptures reminded us that Arizona is part of the "wild west." Lots of restaurants and shops await for those who want to explore more of Old Town after the tour. Our tour guides did an excellent job narrating as we rode and made sure to stop at all of the highlights. They even took lots of pictures for us so we could keep our hands on the handlebars.



Jack Knife by Ed Mell





 Not only was the tour amazing, we couldn't ask for better weather. Blue skies and warm weather is not something we see where we're from. Thanks Scottsdale Segway Tours for a great time.

**Not a sponsored post.**


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Best City Winter Hikes: Salt Lake City Memory Grove/City Creek

Utah Capitol Building
        Memory Grove/City Creek

Just minutes from downtown, right behind Utah's Capitol Building is one of the best city hikes I've ever been on. What makes it so awesome is that you feel like you're in the mountains and yet it's in the Salt Lake City limits.

The official trail head to Memory Grove starts at State Street and Second Avenue and extends north to Bonneville Boulevard. However, there is also parking on the east side of the Capitol Building along the east side of the road. Along the road, there is a paved path that drops down into Memory Grove. This is the way I usually go when I'm on foot.

Meditation Chapel in Memory Grove
 Inside Memory Grove you will find the Meditation Chapel which is open to all for a quiet place to sit and collect your thoughts.

Heading north through Memory Grove is trail that travels along the creek. The "path" in City Creek is actually a paved canyon maintenance road just under 6 miles. For those who want to see the park on a bicycle or in a car, this is the path to use. In fact, during the summer months, the road is closed to vehicular traffic on odd days when only bicycles are permitted.
In winter, the road is well maintained for auto traffic.
Memory Grove


For hiking, I prefer to stay on the trail along the creek from Memory Grove. That way, you don't miss the view of the creek. As you work your way up the trail. you come to a small pond. Definitely the most scenic part of the trail during the winter.









City Creek



  


















The City Creek trail does intersect the Bonneville Shoreline trail which extends all of the way to Emigration Canyon (for those who have all day to hike). This is a great turn around point . I didn't keep track of the mileage from Memory Grove to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail but I'm guessing it is about a three to four mile round trip moderate hike. The trail is well traveled and dogs are allowed on the trail.


Trail intercepts Bonneville Shoreline

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Solo Adventures: Packing For Your Fears


Solo Winter Hiking

Let's face it. Solo adventures are sometimes scary. Even more so if you're a woman.
As much as we love the outdoors, most of us will admit we have one thing we're afraid of. I met a guy who did a solo bike trip from Canada to Colorado. I was picking his brain as I have planned a solo trip this summer to hike a 100 miles of the Great Western Trail. I wanted to know what to pack and what I could leave behind. He told me, "You pack for your fears." 

Fast forward two months later and I had to laugh at myself. As I was building my supply list and ordering online some of the items I didn't have and was sure I needed, this is the first thing I ordered.

 For those of you who can't tell what it is, it's a can of Bear Spray. The funny thing is that I'm not that afraid of being attacked by a bear. I'm afraid of being attacked. Period. I keep thinking of mountain lions more than bears.  Or what about the most dangerous animal of all? A man preying on a woman out in the woods by herself. I thought about bringing a handgun. My son and husband insisted it would add to much weight and probably not work like I want it to. I figured bear spray would work on bears, mountain lions, and a man so I did the most practical thing (NOT) I could. I ordered the biggest can of spray I thought I could carry. I made sure it had a belt pouch so I could carry it outside of my pack. Both my son and husband rolled their eyes when I opened it. "That's ridiculous," my son said. That's going to add too much weight.
 My response, "Then I'll buy a lighter sleeping bag, tent and take a smaller can of bug repellent." No matter what they say, I'm not leaving that can of bear spray behind. 

I'm not too proud to admit my fears. I've listed them in order from highest to lowest.
  • Mountain lion attack
  • Man attack (rape)
  • Bear or moose encounter.
  • Stepping on a rattlesnake.
  • Falling and breaking a bone and not being able to get help.
  • Running out of water and not being able to find a stream  
Fears can be irrational.
A quick scan of my list will reveal that the things that are most likely to happen are at the bottom and yet they are the things I'm least worried about.
Packing for fears can help prevent harm.
I may seem irrational to my family, but packing for my fears can avert a disaster and may even save my life. You can be sure I will have a back up plan for running out of water. I will also have an emergency plan for sending out a signal in case I get hurt. And that can of Bear Spray?  Yeah, it just may save my life.

What are your outdoor fears?
Tell me in the comment section what they are and how you pack for them.
 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hiking Havasupai Trail

Mooney Fall               
     Havasupai Trail

For years I had wanted to hike the Havasupai Trail to Supai village and the many wonderful water falls. I finally got a chance and the experience was better than I hoped for.  It's definitely worth the hike and more beautiful than other parts of the Grand Canyon I've experienced.




Hualapai Hilltop



Hualapai Hilltop

The trail begins at the Hualapai Hilltop which is located in Arizona (bordering the Grand Canyon) at the end of BIA Road 18. BIA is the Bureau of Indian Affairs and yes, the Havasupai Trail is on tribal lands. With this in mind, be respectful of the tribal people who run the operations and live in the village. At Hualapi Hilltop you must check in. Reservations must be made months ahead of time so don't just show up at the top of the trail and hope you will be allowed to hike the trail. At the trail head, pack mules are available for rent to help with carrying camping equipment to the campsite. My husband worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with him and all of the teenage boys on our trip (he was right) and insisted on renting mules to carry much of our gear. I have to admit, it made the trip much easier and quite pleasant. The only thing that bothered me about renting a mule is that many of them looked as if they weren't well taken care with visible sores and not well fed.

The Trail

The Havasupa trail is rated moderate. The first mile and a half of the trail consists of a
steep switchback and considered the hardest part of the trail on the return. I had no trouble navigating this part of the trail. It is wide and well kept.



The bottom of the trail is easier but gets rocky and uneven. The uneven surface can be hard on the feet, making them prone to blisters. A good pair of broken in hiking shoes, a pair of breathable socks (no cotton), and moleskin will help prevent blisters.

The Village

The Supai Village, home of the Havasupai Tribe, is eight miles into the hike. Here it's like taking two steps back in time and one step into the future. The dirt roads are void of cars. The main source of transportation for the villagers are mules and horses. There is a helicopter that brings in supplies and ferries tourists. The teenagers walk the streets with headphones and internet and phone service is available. All campers must check in here at the tourist office before continuing to the campground. The Supai Lodge is located in the village but reservations must be made ahead of time. It is a "no frills" lodge so don't expect luxury.


            The Campground

Another two miles from the village is the campground. Most sites sit along the stream. There are outhouses and potable water for services. Everything else must be packed in. We brought dehydrated dinners that merely required boiling water for preparation. They were quite good and light to carry. Some in our group set up tents, but I slept in a hammock as did my son and husband, and found it to be quite comfortable.

It takes a good part of the day to reach the campground. The guys reached it a little over an hour ahead me and the other gal I hiked with. We hiked in the fall so it wasn't too hot. However, during the summer, I would advise bringing extra drinking water as the temperatures get high.

The Falls

Navajo Falls

Navajo Falls is the first set of falls about a mile and half after leaving the village, on the left side of the trail.


Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls is a quarter of a mile from Navajo Falls. At nice pool for soaking tired feet lies at the bottom of the falls. It's fun to shimmy along the rock into the space behind the falls.

The clear blue water with the stunning red rock background make this one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world. This is what hiking Havasupai is all about.



                        Mooney Falls

After spending the night in the campground, we continued on to the lower falls which is past the campground. The hike to Mooney Falls can get your heart racing. It is a steep decline, through a small tunnel and down an unstable ladder. I took it slow and easy, though I was shaking by the time I got to the bottom. This part of the hike is not for the faint of heart.
Last ladder at the bottom of Mooney Falls

It was scarier going down than it was going up. However, it is well worth the hike. The rocks get slippery toward the bottom from the mist of the waterfall so best to take your time and climb down the ladder backward, using both hands to hang on.




Mooney Falls



At the bottom of the ladder is the Mother of the Falls, Mooney Falls. Twice as high as Havasu Falls, this waterfall is truly spectacular. A large clear blue pool sits at the bottom of the falls.







Beaver Falls

Beaver Falls.
Get in the adventurous spirit if you want to see the last set of falls. The trail to the left of Havasu Creek is harder to follow at times. Smaller waterfalls and pools along the way make for a scenic hike. At Beaver Falls, you will have to jump down the falls to finish the three mile hike which ends at the Colorado River. A rope swing at the bottom pool make for a great place to play before heading back to the campground. Total round trip from the campground is about six miles.




Pricing and Reservations

Pricing is subject to change. There is a $35.00 entrance fee per person.
Campground fee: $17.00 per person per night.
Environmental Fee: $5.00 per person
Reservations must be made by phone: 1-928-448-2121, 1-928-448-2141, 1-928-448-2174, or 1-928-448-2180
Office hours: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Lodge Reservations: 1-928-448-2111 or 1-928-448-2201
If you don't want to be hassled with making your own reservations, there are adventure tours that can do it for you. HERE

Recommendations

For experienced backpackers and hikers, the Havasupai hiking trip will be glorious. For those who like to be pampered, a helicopter ride in or a all inclusive tour might be a better way to see Havasupai. 

  For me, Havasupai was a five star adventure.









 **This post contains affiliate links.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Snowshoeing to Beat the Winter Blues

View from foothills behind Salt Lake City

              We are lucky!

 Just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City lie the Wasatch mountains and a vast winter playground. With wintery weather, it's easy to lock yourself inside and get the winter blues. I have found the best way to combat the blues is to head outside and enjoy the snow. However, I hate being cold. The first time my spouse suggested snow shoeing, I wanted to bite his head off. No way was I going outside to freeze. 
Begrudgingly, I tried it anyway and have never looked back. I love my spouse for getting me to strap on a pair of snowshoes. 



Snowshoeing has fast become one of my favorite winter activities. It's work that doesn't feel like work. However, since you're body moves, it stays warm. The spectacular scenery makes me feel like I'm hundreds of miles away.

Lake Blanche Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon
On days when the avalanche danger is low to moderate, the trails that end at a lake give me a great goal to reach. 
The Lake Blanche Trail, a few miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of my favorites. It's close to home with scenery to die for. 








                                    The trail leaves clues to what to expect to find around the corner.
     
Can you guess what animal this belongs to?
If you guessed I saw a moose, you were right. In fact, I didn't see just one but two. The good news is they were standing in the trees and not on the trail an merely watched as I walked by. The bad news is that they were in the trees and I couldn't get a clear picture of them.
View of Twin Peaks




Upon arriving at Lake Blanche, the view of Twin Peaks is spectacular, even on a cloudy day. As much as I love the Lake Blanche trail, it is not one I will venture out on by myself when the avalanche danger is high to extreme. When the avalanche danger is high, Millcreek Canyon's south facing slopes or roads such as Guardsman's Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon are better alternatives. In fact, Guardsman's Pass is a great spot for beginners or families as the road is wide with a gradual climb. Not near Utah, the U.S. Forest Service may be able to help you find great trails in your own state.

Sometimes the trails are packed down enough that snowshoes are an option. However, the cleats on the snowshoes help with the icy hills even on packed trails. For the brave, a winter campout is a great way to enjoy the longer hikes. I haven't tested my bravery to that extent. 

Brisk snowshoeing is definitely a great aerobic exercise that keeps me warm and build s endorphins to prevent me from getting depressed during winter. The more I snowshoe, the more I enjoy winter. I have made it a goal to venture out one to two days a week this year and it's been the best winter in a long time. In fact, I'll be a little sad when the snow melts. 

Cost of Snowshoeing

The cost of snowshoeing pales in comparison to other winter sports. Once you have a pair of snowshoes, it's just gas money to worry about. Snowshoes can cost anywhere from $99-$299, depending on the quality of the snowshoes. That is not much more than a good pair of running shoes. This time of year is a great time to find snowshoes on clearance. Not sure you will like snowshoeing? How about renting the equipment first. Sporting goods stores like REI rent all types of outdoor gear including snowshoes. 



Tips for Snowshoeing
  • Dress appropriately - Lighter, breathable jackets and gloves work best.
  • Pack food, water, extra warm clothing, and a shovel and beacon for backcountry.
  • Bring optional hiking poles.
  • Check avalanche danger.
  • Know the backcountry risks and plan accordingly.
  • Bring a buddy.
  • Don't forget your camera.


Leave a comment about your favorite outdoor trail?











**FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.





Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review: Custom Made Ski Boots by Dale Boots

Dale Boots Review Rating: ★★★★★



After years of ski misery, I had just about given up on downhill skiing. 
I love to ski, don't get me wrong. What I don't love is the pain I've had to endure with my ski boots. I had a pair of boots that were too loose and my feet froze in them. My last pair were too tight and I thought I would lose my foot to lack of circulation. After a couple of ski runs, my foot would go numb, then it would get cold. By the time I took my boot off, I literally wanted to curse the heavens. The pain was unbearable as the numbness slowly wore off.

Whoever taught the guys in the ski shop how to do a boot fitting must have been a real sadist. My past experience went something like this:

     Me: I need a good ski boot. I'm more concerned about how it fits then what it costs.
     Clueless boot fitter (CBF): Okay, what type of skier are you.
     Me: I am advanced, not too aggressive.
     CBF: Brings out several different boots, shoves my too big foot in them. "How does that feel?"
     Me: It hurts, I think it's too small.
     CBF: Tries a different brand, same size. "And this one."
     Me: Doesn't hurt as bad. "I think it's too small."
     CBF: Tries a third brand and looks exasperated but doesn't change the size.
     Me: "Still hurts, do you have a bigger size."
     CBF: Pulls the lining out, and shoves it on my foot. "This is the right size. This is how it is supposed to fit."
No matter how many times I try to convince the now exasperated boot fitter I need another size,          he is not convinced. Call me stupid, but I finally settle on a pair that feel the most comfortable in the size too small and writhe in paid over the next four years of skiing, trying to make the darn thingsstretch out.


                         Hallelujah!

I have finally found the only ski boots that I've ever loved.

I knew the only brand of ski boots made in the U.S.A was made in Utah, my home state. What I didn't know but discovered is that DALE BOOTS isn't just any ski boot. Their boots are custom made specifically for each foot. That means you don't walk into the store and walk out the same day with a pair of new boots. It also means for someone like me who has a foot a half size bigger than the other, that I can get one pair of boots that will fit both feet.

I recently had a chance to experience the process of purchasing a pair of Dale ski boots. I set an appointment for foot measurement. At my first appointment, the knowledgeable (note: not clueless) boot fitter (KNB) measured not just my foot but my calf as well. The boot fitter recommended the best boot for my foot and calf type. The boot would have to be constructed to fit my foot and I would have to return when it was finished which took about a week. The next appointment was for my actual boot fitting in which the liner would be fitted and molded to my foot. This process took about an hour and a half. The KNB placed the liners on my feet and added some pieces that would give me some spacing in my boots so they wouldn't rub. Then those liners were heated and I had to put them on and get into the actual boot. The next ten minutes was the worst as I had to stand in a skiing stance, while the liners molded to my foot in the tightest setting possible. Ouch! I have to admit it was uncomfortable but worth it.

With my past bad experiences with poorly fit ski boots, I have to admit, I didn't care how much a custom pair boots cost. I expected Dale Boots to cost over $1000. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they would cost less. The final price of $795.00 might be more expensive than some ski boots but for a custom fit boot, I think the price is more than fair and definitely worth it.

What I love about my Dale Boots.


  • Easy to get into and buckle.
  • Keep my feet warm.
  • Fits perfect.
  • Even on first use, my feet didn't get numb.
  • Can get additional adjustments after trying them on the slopes.
  • Great customer service.
  • Can get replacement buckles if they break.
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Adjustable buckles
  • Comfortable
So far, I have nothing I do not like about my custom made boots. 

I'm no longer the ski bunny sitting in the lodge. I'm out on the slopes getting as many runs in as my legs will allow. I think my husband is even happier than me. Since I got my Dale Boots, he hasn't had to listen to me moan about how much my feet hurt and how much I hate skiing because of it. For the first time in a long time, he had to wait for me to get off the slopes. Thanks Dale Boots for bringing me joy in skiing again.









**No compensation or product received for post. Not a sponsored review.