My Funemployment List…How’d I Do?

It’s with a bit of a heavy heart I have to announce that funemployment has come to an end. I’m pretty excited about my new opportunity (I started on Monday), but a little sad to be giving up my freedom. I think that’s what they call “being an adult” or something? Or, there’s always winning the lottery.

By the numbers, here are the good things that the last two months brought me:

8 trails hiked (including 3 alpine lake swims and one summit snowfall!): Oyster Dome, Lake Ingalls, Rattlesnake Ledge, Goat Lake, Margaret’s Way, Melakwa Lake, Annette Lake, Green Mountain

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Rainy Sunday at Goat Lake

6 books read: Euphoria, Love with a Chance of Drowning, Swerve, My Drunk Kitchen, Black Eyed Susans, The Santangelos

4 cities traveled to (overnights): Nashville, Phoenix, Bellingham, Hansville

5 series watched: American Horror Story (liked the first season, didn’t like/watch 2 or 3 and still working on 4), Jane the Virgin, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, Walking Dead Season 4 (still working on), Law and Order SVU (the handful of seasons available on Netflix)

127.5 miles run

11 items left on the bucket list! Too many, but they’re at least made their way back to my regular bucket list…it’s what nights and weekends are for!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Nashville

In a delightfully hasty decision, I booked a ticket to Phoenix by way of Nashville at the end of October.

First I had to drop off little Rigo at the boarders for the week. He was not as excited about his vacation as I was about mine.

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Then, I flew on a red eye to Nashville. Especially for long distances, this is just the way to go. I was worried I’d be wiped and I didn’t sleep a ton on the flight, but I got to my destination ready to party.

Oh, and yes, I went alone – it’s kind of hard to find someone else who can travel during the week with a few days’ notice – yay unemployment.

Why Nashville? Because I’ve always wanted to visit. Spoiler alert, I was right, it was amazing! Here’s the somewhat quick and dirty of my four-day trip.

DAY 1

Breakfast: Puckett’s Grocery
Coffee, coffee, coffee and eggs and such to fuel my busy day.

Nerd alert: Tennessee State Museum and State CapitolIMG_0074[1]

IMG_0076[1]Get your cruise on: Country Music Hall of Fame MuseumIMG_0084[1]

IMG_0085[1]airbnb: East Nash Room
For the first time, I stayed in a “private room” airbnb, meaning sharing a home with the homeowners. It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be, honestly. My hosts were, of course, super nice and the room was great and it was perfect for mostly just sleeping since that’s really all I needed it for. I was out and about most of the time anyway. (Also, a nice money saver when traveling alone!)

Nashville perk: Sam Hunt street concert
Is this real life? In Nashville it is! The concert was announced for Tuesday (the night before I got in) but moved to Wednesday due to weather! What a charmed life I lead!

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people's pictures.

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people’s pictures.

GNO round 2: John Corbett at City Winery
This was my original plan for the night. Yes, he sings. Yes, he sings country…kinda, it’s kinda like Southern rock. Yes, he’s still sexy. Yes, he’s actually pretty funny. I loved the intimate venue.
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Dinner and bed…I was zonked.

DAY 2

My hosts made coffee and blueberry muffins, which totally saved me from the struggle bus so I could start my day.

Local culture: The Parthenon
Yes, a full-scale replica in the middle of a nice, little park with some history.IMG_0139[1]

Local flavor: Loveless Cafe
Just yum. Like holy shit, but yum.IMG_0160[1]

Nerd alert: Cheekwood Botanical Garden (and art museum)
One of my favorites!

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I took a very important phone call here….couldn’t have asked for a better view!

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Pop culture must do: The Bluebird Cafe
Stood in line for a good chunk of the evening, but loved the intimate show – my favorite of the night was Michaela Anne.

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Local flavor: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden
I was (kinda) finally hungry again after breakfast and yum! Also, I met not one, but two, bartenders from Washington!

Nashvegas must do: hit the honky tonks, like Tootsies!

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DAY 3

Small town charm: Franklin, Tennessee

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History nerd alert: Carnton Plantation
Another highlight for me!
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Get in my mouth: Red Bull Vodka slushy
Found on tap while afternoon honky tonkin’. Obviously another highlight.

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Dinner #1: Five Points Pizza
Like a snack…don’t judge.

Classic Nashville: Grand Ole Opry
Friday night at the Grand Ole Opry! I saw, among others, Charlie Daniels playing the shit out of his fiddle and Brad Paisley. Brad Paisley! At the Grand Ole Opry!

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Local flavor: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hot chicken is a Nashville thing and Hattie B’s is the place according to friendly locals I met. It was good, but after three days of Southern cooking, I should have just tapped out.

DAY 4

Run it off: Shelby Park
Another perk of staying with hosts…finding out about the local running trails!

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IMG_0232[1]Breakfast: Noshville

See ya later from Bicentennial Park
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I loved Nashville! Everyone’s friendly and there’s a great, creative energy all around. Fall is such a gorgeous time of year to be there and and there’s plenty to do no matter what you’re in the mood for. I’m not always big on vacation repeats, but I will definitely go back to Nashville! I’ve hopefully already talked it up enough to my friends that there may be a girls’ trip in the works!

As for traveling alone, I actually liked it a lot. I’m very comfortable on my own and have done business trips and quiet, recharging road trips solo, but this one was bigger and made me somewhat anxious, but yeah, it was great. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer it, but given the option to travel or not, I’ll take travel TYVM!

My Latest Visitors

I spent this weekend on the Kitsap Peninsula. It requires a ferry ride, so just that in itself is pretty great. Life is a little slower there and it was a great place to seemingly say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Saturday was gorgeous, sunny and warm and we spent the afternoon outside playing lawn games, then enjoying a bonfire long after the sun went down. On Sunday, I woke up to an overcast sky, dropped temps and football!

While the summer here has been amazing, I’m looking forward to a real fall. With sweaters and rain and apple picking and baking and tea and fall foliage, which is already starting to show up on some of my hikes.

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Hike to Melakwa Lake

Before the summer ends, though, I have to share one of my favorite weekends I had this summer, when my parents came to visit me! It’s already been a few weeks since they were here; they came out in mid-August. When in the F does the time go?

They have visited Seattle a few times before – with me when I was looking at schools here and when they traveled through on their Alaskan cruise – so I tried to come up with some outside the tourist box ideas of things to do.

On their first full day, I had to work, so they did some exploring on their own before we went to the Mariners game. I don’t remember who they played, just that there was a second it seemed like they had a chance, then they lost big time! But, everyone stuck around because it was the last fireworks game of the season. It was a ton of fun. If you go to a game, I’d recommend upper level on the first base line, it gives you great views of the field and the city.

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Saturday morning we took the ferry to Bainbridge and walked around the town. They have a great farmers market on Saturday morning and just a ton of cute shops to wander.

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On their on-their-own day, my parents found the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. It’s really close to my place, but I’d never been there, so we went there on Sunday morning. It’s pretty incredible! The coffee is crazy fancy, which is a little overwhelming, but I love that it’s authentic coffee, not fluffy coffee. I could spend a long morning hanging out there!

Then we made our way to the Seattle Center to check out the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Again, overwhelming! The art is gorgeous and there’s so much of it!

Then we needed a little break. I was calling the days they were here “active rest” because we were hiking all over town and that was plenty of exercise to keep me sleeping soundly at night!

We went to check out the Ballard Locks, which allows large boats to go between the Sound and Lake Union. We were there for a while watching them load up the large locks, then filling it up and letting the boats go through.

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Definitely falls into the unique category for tourists, but I thought it was fascinating. There’s also a salmon ladder to help the little fishies go between, I still want to go check that out soon!

That night, we stayed in and my mom and I made chicken and waffles! Yum. I got to test out my new waffle maker and learn how to make our classic family meal from the pro.

On Monday, I took the day off work to share my love of Pacific Northwest hiking with them. I researched a few hikes to find something lovely and manageable and landed on a 3-mile hike in Mount Rainier Park, Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak.  It had a little elevation, a lotta awesome views of Rainier and we ran into a handful of PCT hikers heading to Canada! It was also very dusty and a looong drive, but worth it!

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And then, because it’s beautiful and because in Washington, you can go from mountains to sea (Sound), we spent some time at Golden Gardens, a beachy beach in Ballard, where we saw some seals playing not too far out from shore.

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We ended their trip with a tradition started on my last two trips to Seattle before my move – a last meal at Ivar’s on Lake Union. With great views of the city, the lake and of course, seafood, it’s a great way to say goodbye to my city love (only this time, I didn’t have to say goodbye).

I told them we were knocking out everything in the city because next time, I want to take them to the San Juan Islands, or maybe the Olympic Peninsula. There are just so many wonderful options!

Luck Be a Lady

My recent string of luck has me thinking it might be time to play the lottery.

I will make you mine.

I will make you mine.

Last month, I won a gift certificate to a home fitness store that basically will buy me a treadmill. I think. I’ve picked up the certificate (from the radio station that held the contest), but haven’t been into the store as of yet, but the prices they have online make me think it won’t be too far off. There may not be any real place to put it in my condo that currently houses two adults, two dogs and all of our stuff, but that is not the point and for the convenience of having a treadmill at home, I will work it out! Gosh, I hope I actually use it!

Then, last week, I won a trip for two to Myrtle Beach for a private concert from Dan + Shay. They are a newish country duo that has a song called 19 You + Me:

If you didn’t listen, the first line is, “It was our first week, Myrtle Beach, where it all began…” Get it?

hoffman-inventory-trends-myrtle-beach-grand-strandAnd gosh how I need a beach vacation. It used to irritate me when people who were no longer in school used the term Spring Break. I was all, “When you’re an adult, it’s called vacation” and now I’m all, “I’m going on Spring Break y’all!” Currently the weather calls for cool temps and rain, but there will be ocean and it will be amazing. And I will meet the babies named Dan and Shay and they’ll be like, “Sweet, a cougar.”

Both of the contests were held by different local radio stations (sports and country, duh), but no, I don’t have impeccable timing to be the 10th caller or anything, they were online entries. I had an unofficial goal for the year to win something. Unofficial because it’s silly and also because it’s not really something I can control beyond entering and thinking positively, but…check!

Believe it or not, my luck didn’t stop at awesome contest prizes…also last week, I got notice that my job had been eliminated. No, that wasn’t the sound of a record scratching to a stop, it was actually a good thing. Without too much detail, it is the best case scenario and I’ve happily accepted a new position already, about a week after getting the notice, which has to be some kind of luck too. I mean, I know I’m awesome and got it because I’m qualified and will kick booty there, but how was this wonderfully matched position available exactly when I needed it?!

If the universe could give you something you really need in your life right now, what would it be? I think I got mine (times three), but if there’s anything else in store, I’m game! Keep the positivity coming!

Going Rogue

My race calendar was pretty much set for the remainder of spring until a few weeks ago, Ashley from She Runs Strong did a giveaway for the inaugural Rogue Runner on her blog and I won! Even better, she was giving away two entries and my blog friend turned real-life friend and Ragnar teammate, Stacey, won the other, so I’d have a partner in crime for the race!

The race was on Saturday at McDowell Mountain Park, so it was actually an awesome and challenging 6.2 mile trail run in addition to being an obstacle course.

By the time we got our codes to enter, the earliest wave available was 11:30 and the high on Saturday was supposed to be 90, so I was a little concerned it would be too hot – that was a huge problem with the only other obstacle race I’ve done, the Lozilu, which took place even later into the hot Arizona spring/summer. Rogue before

The first half of the race was pretty warm and unfortunately the water stations were out of water! The obstacles offered a slight break because we had to wait in a line to go through them…we got to one and people were walking away saying they had been there for an hour already, so we skipped it as well.

Despite the heat, lack of water, my lack of recent training and Stacey’s hamstring injury, it was a great running day and we kept up a decent pace in between obstacles, not letting our Ragnar spirit die and chicked plenty of men along the way.

Finally, we made it to the mid-way point with its glorious stocked water station, port-a-potties and a water obstacle. Essentially it was a dumpster filled with water and you had to swim under three barriers. Kinda gross? Yes, but we were sweaty and dirty already and getting drenched to start out on the next three miles was actually quite welcome!

Then there was a slip and slide, which was super fun, some more military-style obstacles and more trail running, of course. There were a good amount of obstacles for the distance and they were spread out pretty well. Only once we ran for almost a mile between them, but the view was awesome and the trail made it more interesting. Then before we knew it (a little less than two hours after starting), we finished and got our sweet medals!

Rogue after

Lozilu was TOUGH, so I was worried about doing a longer course, but I guess with my yoga and swimming, I’m more strength-trained than I give myself credit for. I was sore for a few days, but it was a fun kind of sore.

This race did not feel like a first for Rogue Runner. It was well-marketed and brought in lots of participants and except for the water issue, it ran very smoothly. (I ran the first Neon Race the week before and it was fun because I was with friends, but logistical it was a complete disaster.)

The Rogue Runner course was legit – not just another copy-cat gimmicky run with more talk than walk – though it’s definitely an obstacle run, not fully a “mud” run. It definitely gave me the confidence boost I needed to get me thinking I can handle a Tough Mudder! I’m so happy I added this race to my schedule at the last minute, I had a blast!

Kick it!

I love the city I live in.  Sure, I miss Thousand Oaks sometimes, lust after Seattle and currently am dreaming of Charleston, but nearly every day I find myself having a “wow, I really love Scottsdale” moment, usually because of the breathtaking views, the sheer amount of things to do and see and places to go or just the energy of the area.

Golf courses, mountains, desert...that's us!

 I had a love-this-city moment over the weekend when I found myself at a kickball tournament sponsored by Scottsdale Healthcare and their new Fit City Scottsdale program.

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, I was just filling in as a token female to help balance a team, but I found out about the program when I got there and think it’s pretty cool!  I can pretty much get excited about anything that’s getting up and moving and encouraging others do the same.

On Saturday, my whole plan was to get up and move and show that being active and being good at kickball are not actually related – my “recruiter” technically never asked if I could play before we even got to the field!  The first time I got on base was because I was pegged in the ear by the other team’s pitcher, so I think I proved my point.

I did get better as the day progressed and the team did better than I think any of us expected and we ended up with second place…although with a little grumbling about sportsmanship and the spirit of the tournament, my whole team would tell you we won!

It was fun to do something out of the ordinary and my muscles definitely felt the effects of the different movement the next day (okay, and the day after).  Oh, and yeah, we play kickball in January in Scottsdale.  It was high 70s all weekend!

Friday’s child is loving and giving.

Does anyone else characterize the days of the week? Like Sundays are for being lazy? Mondays are for hitting the road running?

Last year I read Chasing Harry Winston and one of the characters had a No Human Contact Monday. It was her day of the week of just be alone and her friends and family learned to oblige her.

I definitely have a few ideas about how the days of the week are supposed to go and they change, but lately, Fridays have been for fierce workouts! In my last round of half-marathon training, Saturdays were my long run days, but then I started doing them on Friday…okay, okay, half to “get it over with” and half to start the weekend off on the right, sweaty foot.

Also, I just can’t kick the little kid mentality that the weekend is for F-U-N!  The weekend is a great time to be productive, but it’s nice to get the little stuff out of the way on Friday to have flex room for the things that pop up.

This morning I started the day with a list of things to do before the weekend starts…okay, okay, things to do before I let myself pick up Hunger Games knowing I’ll do nothing once I start reading (I just started late last night and put it down shortly after the reaping).

The list included my fierce workout:  a 45-minute fartlek from my training plan and a half-mile swim.  That’s a good Friday!

Now my house is clean, my well-exercised pup is conked out and THG awaits.

What are your weekly traditions? What day were you born and does the nursery rhyme hold true?

I was a Friday baby and of course, I like to think so!

Because pretty active is enough.

I recently read my About Me page and my first thought, aside from I need to update this – “training for a triathlon”? try “experienced triathlete,” boom! – was who is the crazy lady who wrote this?!

Thanksgiving 2007 Tread Break

I definitely have had my share of the kool-aid over the years…kickboxing, spinning (both of those had more to do with the awesome instructors), running, weight training and in the last year, triathlons and yoga, but I’m just not eating/living/breathing it in the same way lately.

It started with a thought, which I found myself thinking too often. Then I started vocalizing it…all I want to do is yoga and walk the pup and swim.

So, with that thought + the notion that you should just do what makes you happy, I’ve “quit” training.  To the best of my ability anyway. The question that nagged me when I was considering this was, “if I’m just doing what I like, do I really need a training schedule?” For me, the answer is yes.

I’m still going to do the races I have planned for this year, but without the expectations of a PR.  At the same time, I don’t want to injure myself or hit a total wall, so I’m keeping some key workouts on my calendar, but there is squish room for hiking or trying a new class or just doing what works for me!

The next four months in Arizona are filled with weather that is exactly the reason people live here and put up with the summers, so it’s the perfect time to just get out and be active instead of overthinking it!

New To Me

I got a new toy/hobby/way to cross train/lover.  Want to guess what it is?!

Give up?  It’s a new (to me) bike, silly!  Meet Meyer: 

He sleeps inside by my dirty laundry.  Now if he could only make himself useful and actually learn to DO my laundry. 

Our “how we met” story is coming soon, as well as tales of my adventures! 

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. – H.G. Wells

You’re welcome, H.G., you are welcome.