Dec 31, 2015

5 Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

I have always thought of Scottsdale as merely an extension of the Phoenix metro area. Despite having visited Phoenix many times, I never spent much time in Scottsdale until recently.

Scottsdale has much to offer, including plenty of eating and drinking options, opportunities to explore the great outdoors and even take in some culture.

Taliesin West

This is a must do for those who appreciate architecture. Taliesin West was the winter home and architecture school of Frank Lloyd Wright. It still serves as the campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

The property is accessible to the public by guided tours, which provide great insight into, not only the design of the buildings, but also into the man who was Frank Lloyd Wright.

Dec 24, 2015

Visiting Holiday Displays in Washington, DC

Christmastime is definitely one of my favorite times of the year to visit Washington, DC. The city knows how to deck itself out in the holiday spirit. This year, I only had a very small window of time in which to see some of the holiday lights around the city.

At the top of my list of things to see was The National Christmas Tree, which is located near the White House. This year's tree was decorated in gold and silvery white LED lights to commemorate the National Park Service's Centennial.

Sep 9, 2015

Freekeh Foods - Product Review and Giveaway

Fit Approach and Freekeh Foods recently teamed up to share a new-to-me food with me and my readers.

Source: Freekeh Foods

Before this project, I did not know what freekeh (pronounced: free-kuh) was. I learned that it is a roasted green wheat and is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.

According to their website, "Freekeh has up to three times the fiber and protein found in brown rice, and fewer calories than quinoa and white rice." Note that since freekeh is made of wheat, it is not gluten-free.

Aug 20, 2015

Running with Westin's Gear Lending Program and RunBoston

This marks the final post recapping my trip to Boston earlier this month. I did not get much exercise in during the conference because the conference organizers were a bit disorganized and did not tell us that we had access to a gym until after we had already arrived.

Since I only packed a carry-on bag for my trip, I did not have room to pack my running shoes. But I knew that I would be able to get some workouts in after I switched to the Westin Copley Place because of their partnership with New Balance. Westin and New Balance recently created a Gear Lending Program, where for a fee of $5 you can borrow a pair of running shoes during your stay. Along with shoes, you can also borrow shorts, tops, sports bras and socks.

After I checked into my room, I called the Service line and requested my shoes. I also asked for a top and shorts. After a short wait, this drawstring bag was delivered to my room. You need to be there to sign for the items.

Aug 18, 2015

How I (Accidentally) Walked 14 Miles in Boston - Part 2

Meanwhile, back on the Freedom Trail....

I dragged myself out of the comfy hotel room and back onto the sidewalks of Boston. I meandered my way past Boston Public Garden and Boston Common, towards Beacon Hill and spotted the beautiful gilded dome of the Massachusetts State House. It is hard to make out but the dome is topped with a gilded pine cone.

Aug 17, 2015

How I (Accidentally) Walked 14 Miles in Boston - Part 1

My conference ended on Saturday, so that gave me half the day to see some of the sights of Boston. I decided to walk the Freedom Trail, and somehow wound up walking 14.5 miles throughout the day, according to my FitBit...and my tired and sore feet and legs.

View of Charlestown

Aug 14, 2015

Pretty Views and More Boston Eats

On Thursday night of the conference, we had a lovely dinner on the campus of Northeastern University. I think we were on the 17th floor and had amazing views of Boston.

Aug 11, 2015

Greetings from Boston...

Except that I am now back home in Albuquerque. I started this post when I was in Boston for most of last week and never finished it.

I took a red-eye flight (upgraded to first class between Albuquerque and Charlotte. Woohoo!) and arrived in Boston on Tuesday morning. I was in town for a professional development conference and we were told that we wouldn't be able to check in to our rooms until noon, so I had a couple of hours to kill.

I decided to stick around the airport for a bite to eat because I didn't want to lug my suitcase around with me and had nowhere to store it. I grabbed a mug of New England clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods. Clam chowder was definitely on my extensive "must-eat" list even though I eat it all the time, especially at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes!

Aug 4, 2015

Rave Run: Redondo Beach

Last week, I was in LA for the weekend and had an 8 mile training run on the docket. Since it has been too hot for me to run outside in Albuquerque, I decided to hit the pavement while I was in sunny Southern California.

I ran from where I was staying in Torrance down to Redondo Beach.

Look at all of the palm trees!

Aug 3, 2015

Activities at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa

Our weekend at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa was super active. There are tons of things to do on property to keep both adults and kids occupied all day long! In fact, Tamaya was recently named one of the "10 Best Family Friendly Luxury Resorts" by USA Today.

Here is a look at some of the activities available at the Hyatt Tamaya.

Walking / Running / Biking Trails
The resort is home to an elaborate system of dirt trails that run along the Rio Grande and throughout the surrounding area. The first thing we did when we arrived at Tamaya was borrow two beachcruisers and bike helmets and enjoyed a 2-mile bike ride along the trails.

I loved biking among the cottonwood trees.

We had a lovely view of the mountains and the river.

Along one of the trails are a series of exercise stations (like chin-up bars, climbing walls and ladders), I remember playing on similar equipment when I was a child, so we had some fun on our bike ride and stopped at the ones we came across to have some vacation silliness!

The resort has three pools and a whirlpool for all of your outdoor water needs. The Plaza Pool is the main pool with its two-story water slide. There are plenty of lounge chairs as well as a bar adjacent to the pool.

Secondly, there is the Oxbow Pool, which looked to be a shallow depth kiddie pool.

Finally, the Kiva Pool is the adults only pool. This is a circular pool surrounded by a high circular wall, which is supposed to protect from the wind. I spent all of my pool time at the Kiva Pool because I wanted quiet, away from the screaming/splashing children, and it was heaven!

Outdoor movies are shown on a big screen at the Plaza Pool during the evening. On our first night there, they were screening one of the Toy Story movies. 

The Stables at Tamaya 
When we booked our trip to Tamaya, we purchased a package that included our hotel stay plus either two rounds of golf or two horseback rides at The Stables at Tamaya. Since neither of us enjoy playing golf, we decided to do the horseback rides.

Before our scheduled trail ride, we met at the concierge desk and were shuttled to The Stables.

In addition to the horses, there were lots of other friendly animals like these goats.

The horse I was assigned to is called Hollywood. He was gentle but loved to be at the head of the pack! We enjoyed a roughly two hour ride on the grounds of Santa Ana Pueblo. The brush was much taller than usual because of all of the rain we had been getting. It was like walking through a salad bar for the horses. 

After our ride ended, we headed back to The Stables. Look who else has visited! Jessica Alba!

I'm not one to have celebrity crushes, but if I were, my celebrity crush would be this guy: Tom Hiddleston! 

Evening with the Artist
On our first night at Tamaya, we attended this happy hour of sorts, only that we got to view beautiful sculptures by a local artist and speak with him, if we wanted to. It was near the tail end of the event, so after we looked at the art, we decided to grab some of the refreshments and enjoy them al fresco.

Pueblo Bread Tasting
Our last activity of our stay was attending the traditional bread tasting, freshly baked in the outdoor oven.

Along with the bread, delicious butters, like cinnamon, red chile and green chile, and jams (my favorite was the apricot) were used to accompany the light and fluffy bread.

Fitness Center
Located next to the spa, the fully-equipped fitness center is open 24 hours. It has everything from treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, free weights, kettlebells, stability balls and exercise mats. I stayed in the fitness center for two hours and no other guests used any of the equipment. There were a few people who stopped and poked their head in but no one else worked out.

Yoga classes are also available for a fee, but I was not able to attend any of the classes.

Other Activities
There is so much to do at the Hyatt Tamaya, and we definitely were not able to do everything. The weekly Tamaya Times  details all of the activities for the week. Many require an additional fee and include cultural and art classes, like leather stamping and jewelry making.

As I mentioned before, golf is available at the Twin Warriors Golf Club and there is a full-service spa.

With so much to do, you will be at a loss for how to spend your time at The Hyatt Tamaya!

Jul 23, 2015

Dining at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa

When one is on vacation, one sometimes cannot be bothered to look far for sustenance. Since the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is somewhat removed from civilization, and by removed, I mean less than 15 minutes away, we enjoyed some of our meals on property. There are several options for a meal, which range in price and ambiance.

The Corn Maiden
Raisin Bread and I enjoyed our first meal at The Corn Maiden, which is the property's fine dining restaurant and only open for dinner.

Everything from the dishes to the decor are heavily influenced by the Southwest. 

Our meal began with a selection of homemade breads. There was a garlic Parmesan breadstick, blue corn bread, and a jalapeno cheddar muffin, served with tomato jam and whipped honey butter. The jalapeno cheddar muffin was amazing! I had two of them.

To start, we shared the Local Goat Cheese and Tamaya Bees with petite flowers, dates, candied pecans and crostini. The "Tamaya Bees" was a bee pollen drizzle from the bee colony on property. So delish.

For my entree, I had the Lobster and Pasta (forest mushrooms, Campanelle pasta and English peas in a Champagne lobster sauce). The dish had huge pieces of lobster in it and was probably one of the best lobster pastas I have ever had.

Raisin Bread has the Lamb Umido (Apricot Nopalita Tortelloni, garden herbs in a peach-Grigio Demi). The server described the dish as more of a stew than a sauce and that is exactly what it was. It was a little too rich for the hubster and he wound up picking the pieces of lamb out of the sauce.

We were so stuffed by then that we could not have dessert. The server, instead, offered us desserts to go since we were celebrating a special occasion. We took a green chile apple pie and a lemon chiffon cheesecake to go. We also packed up these little chocolate with espresso bean truffles to go.

Dining Pool Side
I spent a few hours on two of the days we were at the resort by the pool. Dining poolside is super convenient. There are servers who make their rounds to take drink and food orders. I ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri and a chicken avocado wrap for lunch one of the days. They were both just okay, but I loved the convenience (i.e. not having to move from my pool chair).

Santa Ana Cafe
On the second night of our stay, we dined at the Santa Ana Cafe. This is a more casual option, which is open three meals a day and has both indoor and outdoor seating.

We went with the dinner buffet because it actually looked very tasty. They had salads, soups, fried chicken, tamales, veggies and the best mac and cheese I have had in a long time. There was also a variety of desserts to choose from. I, of course, chose the chocolate cake a la mode!

Other Dining Options
For one of our breakfasts, we grabbed some food from the Trading Post. It contains a Starbucks with the usual offerings like bagels, yogurt and muffins but also a wide selection of burritos.

Two options that we did not try were the Rio Grande Lounge, which serves bar food and also has indoor and outdoor seating, and in-room dining.

I was very happy with the quality of food and the range of alternatives available on property. While we did not have every meal at the resort, there were plenty of things to choose from and they were all tasty and enjoyable meals.

Jul 21, 2015

Hot Air Ballooning with Rainbow Ryders

We are back from a short staycation at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo. Since we were not able to properly celebrate our anniversary or Raisin Bread's birthday, we combined those two occasions along with my birthday and took a nice weekend away.

One of our activities for the weekend was to take a hot air balloon flight. When we visited Albuquerque for the first time in 2013, we booked a balloon flight, but it was canceled the morning of the flight due to bad weather. We had much better luck with the weather this time.

We checked into the Rainbow Ryders office at 5:30 AM on Saturday and got split into our flight groups. There were twelve people on our flight, plus Taylor, our pilot.

A short time later, we hopped into a passenger van and drove to our launch site. In addition to our pilot, our two member chase crew also joined us in the van.

Once we reached the launch site, the crew started setting up the balloon for our flight.

They gave passengers the opportunity to assist with blowing up the balloon as well, but we both stood back and watched.

Before too long, we hopped into the basket and were up in the air! Everything about the flight was so peaceful. I was expecting to be a little bit nervous but the flight was so smooth. All we needed to do was take in the views and the sunrise.

Taylor gave us a great experience. He took us about 8 feet above the Rio Grande River. I thought we might be able to reach down and touch the water. It seemed so close!

Then he took us up to 5,000 feet above ground level.

We, for sure, had the best pilot. He took us the highest up and the farthest out of any of the balloons up in the sky at that time. We had beautiful views of the river, the mountains and the city of Albuquerque.

At the end of the flight, we took the brace position and landed smoothly in a bank parking lot, where our chase crew was waiting for us. 

They packed up the balloon and then we headed to a park to enjoy our morning refreshments. 

I had a delicious mimosa to celebrate our successful flight. We wound up talking to some of our flight mates as well! Everyone was in a good mood after our fun morning adventure!

If taking a hot air balloon flight is on your bucket list, Albuquerque is a great place to check it off. Rainbow Ryders has sunrise flights during the summer and sunrise and sunset flights during the winter. If you choose Rainbow Ryders, be sure to get Taylor as your pilot. He was great and is very experienced!

Our sunrise flight was $159 per person and included our flight, post-flight toast and refreshments and a flight certificate. Flights during the International Balloon Fiesta are much more expensive though, so be sure to check their website for the most recent information.