Our Arizona Adventure, Part 2: the Planning

IMG_4122Okay, so as soon as we heard about the whole Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives plan of my dad’s, my husband and I had a confab.  My dad has few things he really enjoys, and eating is one of them.  My mom and my aunt and I were discussing which museums to visit and where the best hiking was, and my dad was trying to figure out where the best bowl of red chili is.  I wouldn’t want to take away his vacation fun, any more than I wanted him to tell me that hiking was out because he can’t walk that far.

So, we had to plan for this.

Exercise

The best way to offset all those calories is to burn them off with lots of activities.

In addition to trying to plan active fun things to do (like hiking), I also conferred with my trainer and yoga instructor for advice.  I packed my new yoga mat, resistance bands (much better for traveling that my free weights), water bottle, walking shoes and plenty of socks.  I also threw in my swimsuit and sport towel in case my mother and I decided to grab a water aerobics class at one of the gyms near our Mesa resort.

My trainer said I had permission to only do 5000 steps on traveling days, but that I needed to get my full 10,000 steps in the days we were not driving, and that I needed to do at least half of them outside.  Also, when the front desk receptionist said that one of the two rooms we had reserved was upstairs, my husband and I immediately said we would take it, saving my parents the climb and giving us an extra exercise several times each day.

My husband brought his brand new running shoes, and planned on doing as much running as he could – even some trail running in the mountains while the kids and I hiked.  We had planned on the kids being able to be watched by my folks, but the cold that they had prevented them from doing just about anything this trip.

Food

There was no way we were going to avoid Mexican food while we were in Arizona.  In fact, during the trip we went out to eat sushi (El Paso’s sucked with cold rice while Phoenix’s was surprisingly good); Afghani food, Mexican, Native American, even Sweet Tomatoes and crappy pizza buffet (this was for the kids’ sake).  We went out for Mexican food a lot. 🙂

So how do you plan to avoid loading on the calories when you KNOW what you really want is a chimichanga smothered in green chili and a big bowl of chips with red salsa washed down with a bottle of Dos Equis (not really a margarita girl)?  Well, me and my husband hit on a plan for that.  We shared.  Every plate that wasn’t at a buffet, every restaurant.  We would decide what we wanted together, not worrying as much about how fried or soaked in sauce something was, because we knew we would be eating a reasonable portion of it.  That fry bread taco I mentioned last time with the chorizo?  I only ate half.  And it was more than enough, especially since I took a slice of the cheese crisp and dessert fry bread we ordered for the table.

I think this was a great idea, and I’m going to try to convince him that we should do this from now on.  I don’t think it will be a hard sell.

IMG_3993Small Packing Space

Like I said: 4 adults, 2 kids, one minivan, 10 days.  I figured that we should just pack like we were flying and do laundry halfway through the trip.

This is what I packed for me, along with my pillow.  I had packed a change of clothes and my pajamas into my backpack so that at our stop in El Paso, I could just bring in the backpack and leave the suitcase in the car.  The kids were limited to one big bag for clothes, toiletries, and the quilt my son insisted on bringing.  Then they each got one backpack to fill with stuff to occupy them on the drives.

Everyone was also required to bring clothes suitable for the memorial (nice but not formal) and clothes suitable for hiking.

As far as clothes go, I brought:

  • new grey yoga pants (size 2X, because the 3X are now falling off my butt!)
  • navy slacks
  • jeans
  • brown skirt (which I never wore because it ended up being too cold, and I forgot to bring shorts to wear underneath)
  • grey workout shirt, suitable for wearing in public, too
  • white button down shirt
  • navy shell
  • ivory/brown dressy linen shirt
  • brown dressy t-shirt
  • appropriate undergarments (except the shorts)
  • brown dress flats
  • navy fake Toms style flats
  • walking shoes
  • a few pieces of jewelry
  • pajamas
  • big fleece pullover that I usually use for camping

I didn’t want to bring my BIG fleece coat, because it is big.  I got it before I started losing weight, so now it swallows me up.  So I brought the fleece pullover I have worn to every cold campout for a couple of years.  It’s warm enough for weather in the 50’s, which is what I expected to see based on weather reports.  I also like the fact that it now fits me correctly; before, I couldn’t pull it over my hips, now it hangs over them. 🙂 But I should have brought the big one, because I would have been better prepared for the weather we encountered later in the trip.

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New Shoes

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. . . and old shoes.  They are lost the exact same shoe, except I couldn’t find the old model number, which kinda irks me.  When I put those shoes on, they were as comfortable as if I had been wearing them for years – like old denim.  They were the first shoes I had bought in over a decade that were the right width (I have WIDE feet, and generally have to get a size or two larger than my actual foot just to get the width I need).  It made me think I could actually get my real shoe size.  I hated the style of the shoes (very orthopedic looking), but I quickly learned to ignore that in favor of shoes that actually FIT.

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But after 444 miles (according to my FitBit, so add some from before I got it), these shoes were ready to be replaced. The trip to Salt Lake City finally did them in.

The new shoes aren’t quite as perfect on the inside, and even more orthopedic looking on the outside – but they don’t cramp my toes, which can’t be said of 99% of shoes out there.  After 100 miles, they’ll be perfectly beat up and broken in. 🙂

(BTW – did you know that you should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles?  And if you are getting 10,000 steps in a day, on average, that means they should be replaced 4 times a year!)

What DID work – water bottle

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So I know it might seem kind of weird, but one of the things I wasn’t sure if I should bring was a water bottle.  Last Convention, part of the swag that everyone with a ticket got was a water bottle (the Girl Scout one in the pic above). It’s metal (so it gets dented), and has a narrow screw top (my least favorite style).  But you know what, it’s a water bottle, and I have to carry around a water bottle with me pretty much wherever I go, especially now that I am trying to lose weight and being more active.  I typically go through a gallon or more a day, not forcing myself to drink, just drinking when I get thirsty.

And that’s here in Houston, where the humidity ranges from 60-90%.

Salt Lake City has a year round average of 55% humidity.  Arid.  Desert-like. Oh, my poor gills! 🙂

So a water bottle was a necessity.  But, while I was planning my packing list, I tried to cut every ounce I could get away with, because I KNEW I would be coming back with STUFF.  So . . . do I pack my lovely favorite cherry blossom water bottle with a easy to fill wide mouth, but flip top lid, with a carabiner loop?!?!? (Yep, I seriously love this bottle) Or do I assume I’m going to get one in my swag bag?  Even if it’s one of those stupid pack flat bottles, It’s still a water bottle.  And I don’t have to bring it back home (just ask my pants).

In the end, I brought my bottle.  I knew I would want it in the airport and on the plane, so it was better not to have to wait until I was in the Convention Center to figure out if I was going to get a water bottle.  And if I had bet on getting a bottle in my swag bag, I would have been buying one at the Girl Scout Shop Booth – and my house does NOT need another water bottle.

What DID work – carry-on only

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See these two cute little bags?  They totally pulled it off.  I packed everything in them coming and going and carried them both on.  My little blue suitcase is not the maximum allowable size, so it easily slid into the overhead compartments of all three Southwest planes I flew on.  I probably could have even opened the expansion gusset on the way home if I had needed to.

But I didn’t need to.  I was able to bring back all my clothes (except those awful pants that were too big, but including the boots that I didn’t wear), plus all my new patches, plus all the paperwork and brochures and booklets, plus all the vendor swag (which I forgot to take a picture of before I gave it away to the girls in my troop), plus the dozen pencils I got for my troop (and they all arrived unbroken), plus the reusable grocery bag our swag came in, plus the freaking FULL SIZED BACKPACK that EF Tours was giving away!  Yeah, even though I brought a packable tote bag as a just in case measure, I ended up bringing home a freaking backpack.

And that was just in the suitcase.  My hygiene bag, SWAPs, water bottle, snacks, and other things I wanted to keep at my feet during the flights was in my tote bag.  Which working perfectly, as well.  It was perfect to take to the Council Session filled with my Delegate Workbook, notepad, cell phone, backup battery (which definitely got used!!), and patch bag.  Then it was also perfect for walking around the Hall of Experiences as a place to stuff all the vendor swag and brochures.  And it was perfect for doing some urban hiking around downtown.  And the big un-organized front pocket was perfect for dropping in the patches and SWAPs I received to keep them separate from my patches and not get lost in the bottom of the main compartment.

Also, I don’t know what they call it, but I LOVE the little pocket on the back of some bags (like my tote) with a zipper on the bottom which allows them to slide over the handle of a rolling bag.  LOVE IT.  Definitely look for one if you are looking for your next urban adventure bag.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, pt. 2

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I have now been using Dr. Bronner’s for about 3 or 4 months.   I’m a convert.  This soap works REALLY well for my hair, and works fine for my skin.

The hair thing is kind of unbelievable.  As I said, I have baby fine hair that gets weighed down by EVERYTHING I put in it.  And I live in a climate so humid the air conditioners can’t handle it.  Oh, and I have also come to realize, over the past few months as I have been changing my lifestyle, that I sweat from my head.  As in, I can spend a hard 30 minutes on the treadmill pushing myself, and I will have sweat pouring off my head in front and back – but my underarms? Dry as a bone.  I know, weird, but apparently, genetic since my mother is the same way.

And all summer long (except when actually working out), my hair was fluffy.  I mean, nice looking slightly volumized, fluffy.  Not static-y, because I used conditioner, but that weightlessness promised by so many products that FAIL for me.

My daughter, on the other hand, who has hair so massively thick we have to have the stylist thin it out  extensively, doesn’t like it as much.  So it’s not for everyone.  But if you have very thin hair that just lays there, you might give it a try.

I have also now tried the bar form, as well as the liquid form.  It works just as well, even for my hair.  I will say, though, that I believe the liquid has a stronger odor.  I have used both the peppermint liquid and the peppermint bar.  The liquid made me go, “Well that’s PEPPERMINT” (but in a good way).  The bar was more like, “hmmmm, if I stick it up to my nose , I can detect the aroma of peppermint”.  For both products, the smell washes away with the soap, which is nice if you don’t want it competing with your perfume or body spray.

I have tried the following:

  • Peppermint (L) – very strong peppermint smell, like a peppermint candy; be careful of fumes on face
  • Peppermint (B) – much weaker smell, I didn’t worry about the fumes, but I would still be careful of getting this in your eyes
  • Tea Tree (L) – strong herbal smell, not my favorite, but it makes you think “clean” – like the smell of bleach does
  • Lavender (L) – strong herbal smell, not sweet at all
  • Almond (B) – ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!! I am in love with this smell, and can’t wait to try it in liquid form.  This is sweeter than the lavender but not really “sweet”.

I like the fact that the smells are more like the essential oils than like a candy version.  It makes me think the Rose scent would be really lovely if you like walking through a garden.  I wonder if showering with a combination of the Peppermint and Eucalyptus scents would give me the same effect as those Vick’s Shower Soothers from years ago – I loved those when I was stopped up.

Trivial Details – Shoes

Do you know what shoes you’re wearing to Convention yet?  I do.  I just got them.  I love them.  Well, I will love them, once I have them broken in. 🙂  Are YOUR shoes broken in, yet?

I have super wide feet, and they are so fat that they are really tall, too, around the arch area (but my arch is fairly normal).  Which means, I have a hard time finding shoes.  If I actually find shoes my size, they are size 9EEEE (US).  Which means, I am pretty much limited to these.  So attractive, right?  Blech. (I do have a pair of these sneakers for walking, I’m almost ready to replace them, though, they’ve already seen over 150 miles in the past couple of months)

So, I generally have to buy men’s wide shoes and hope they fit and don’t look too “manly”, or get the widest women’s shoes in a size 10 or larger, and still my feet hang over the edges.  This is why I have a purse addiction instead of a shoe addiction.  Shoe shopping is no fun when nothing fits.

But I needed something that would look nice under my navy pants, and would work for walking around a convention hall, and around downtown Salt Lake City.  I’m a Quilt Festival veteran, so I know how important wearing comfy shoes is when you go to a convention.  I would love to wear sneakers, but as I said, I want to look nice. (I’m bringing my sneakers, though – I need them for working out each morning, so I will have them as a back up.)

So the search began.  And it has been long and hard.  Finally I found something promising.  Black ankle boots.  Plain toes.  Elastic gores on each side of the ankle.  And to top it off,  when I read reviews which talk about men having to add an insert because the shoes are just too wide, my heart starts racing.  Reviews that say they feel like mature versions of Doc Marten’s.  O. M. G.  Sold!!  Look at the nice round, boxy toe.  Real leather uppers that will stretch and eventually form fit to my feet.  Lug(ish) soles for traction on slippery convention floors, or for urban hiking, or for camping with my girls.

Now I just have to break them in, an hour or so of wearing every day around the house, plus maybe 10 minutes of just walking; and they should be just perfect by Convention.

Travel Planner

I admit it.  I’m kind of a planner addict.  I can’t help it.  Planners combine some of my favorite things into one super cool product.  Books – check, blank stationary – double check, pens of awesomeness – CHECK, and the ability to doodle out my stressful over-planning – DING, DING, DING, WE HAVE A WINNER!

Last year I finally allowed myself to look at the Filofaxing community online.  Whoa.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, this blog will give you an idea.  Who knew that keeping an organizer/agenda/planner/what-have-you would involve so much washi tape and stickers?  And the inserts on etsy?  OMG.

Even though I LOVE my iPhone, and use it religiously to keep almost all of my information.  I find that it is much easier for me to write something on paper than type it onto that tiny little screen.  I’m not slouch at typing with my thumbs, mind you, but I grew up in the era before laptops in school became commonplace.  I write very quickly, and (compared to my kids) very legibly (actually compared to my husband, too, which is why I have to fill out all documents that need to be read at some point).

I still have a tiny nubbin of a writer’s callus left on my middle finger.

So, I splurged.  I got myself on honest to goodness Filofax (a Compact Calypso in teal for other planner nerds), and when it arrived, I fell in love. The color is beautiful, the leather is wonderful, the size is . . . well, not that great for use as my regular life planner.  I decided that Personal is just too small for me and the 15mm rings don’t hold nearly enough of the things I would like to keep in my planner.

So, I’m thinking about using it for my planner for the trip to Utah.  There should be plenty of room for what I need to keep track of there.   I have searched and searched and SEARCHED for travel planning inserts.  There are some gorgeous ones on etsy, but many use just too much ink or are bundled in with too much stuff or are just way too kawaii for my tastes.  I like my cute in small doses, not blasted all over my life.

I will need to track:

  • airline and flight information
  • hotel information
  • contact information for other people from my Council
  • budget
  • list of souvenirs (for myself, my daughter, my troop)
  • daily schedule
  • Conversations I would like to go to
  • wardrobe planner
  • info on the proposals being voted on
  • journaling pages to just write down my thoughts in the evenings
  • maps of Salt Lake City (in case I get to move around the city), Utah (so I know where I am in the state), and Texas (to show people where I’m from)
  • researched lists of good healthy restaurants in the convention center area

What else would you want to keep track of in a travel organizer?