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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Hotel Cooking, the Grocery List and Traveling Kitchen

My menu was made to try to not have the same meal over and over again, but to use the same items over and over again so they get completely consumed.  Kind of like a capsule wardrobe, only for food. 🙂  Here’s my grocery list, in case you want to replicate this menu:

  • 1 loaf of sliced bread
  • 4 muffins
  • 1 pack pita breads
  • 1 box granola cereal
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 quart of milk
  • 1 quart of vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 stick butter (or whatever the smallest amount you can buy)
  • Salad dressing
  • 1 pound sliced turkey
  • 4 slices muenster cheese (or whatever you think would go well with turkey)
  • 6 oz. hummus
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 single serving cup of applesauce (you only need about 2 T. per sandwich)
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • container pre peeled and cut carrot and celery sticks (or baby carrots)
  • 1 cucumber
  • bag of mixed greens
  • 2 tomatoes

Things I packed in my “kitchen”:

  • aluminum foil
  • paper plates
  • paper bowls
  • paper towels
  • spoons, forks, knives
  • serving spoon
  • large bowl for making salad and couscous
  • knife
  • small cutting board
  • ziptop bags for leftovers
  • a couple of plastic grocery bags to use as garbage bags
  • soap for dishes

I don’t think the housekeeping staff should have to clean up after we use the room not quite as the hotel intended, so I intend to make sure everything gets cleaned up by us.  Which is why all the disposables – again, I would rather spend my time with my family than washing dishes, and I definitely DON’T want to be trying to fish couscous out of the drain because my 7 year old forgot to wipe his plate clean.  The disposables all come from my stash of old birthday party tableware and take out utensils, though, so I’m not being completely wasteful.

Hotel Cooking, the Menu

Whether you are traveling by yourself, with your family, or with your troop – you have to eat!  And sometimes the best room for the trip is the one that doesn’t come with a kitchenette.  Or a microwave.   Or a refrigerator.  By Mercury’s winged sandals, there had better be a coffee maker!!

Ahem.  Moving on.

Cooking in your hotel is one of the best ways to save money on a trip.  Eating out 3 or more times a day, especially at a hotel restaurant, can get super expensive super fast.  And cooking can cut those costs dramatically (just like it does at home).  But you have to have some equipment.  In my experience, the hotel room without a fridge is becoming scarce, and the room without a coffeemaker almost non-existent.  But as far as actual cooking?  Well, sometimes you have a full kitchenette in your suite, sometimes you have a microwave in your room (or down in the lobby), sometimes all you have is a coffeemaker.

There are several good resources online already for showing you how to cook using what is commonly available in a hotel room (and I’ll link to some at the end of this series of posts).  This is my menu plan when faced with a lovely room that only had a fridge and a coffee maker.

Day 1

  • Breakfast – coffee in the coffee maker; strawberries, yoghurt and granola
  • Lunch – turkey paninis made with the iron, salad
  • Dinner at Sea World, no point in leaving before the fireworks! 🙂

Day 2

  • Breakfast – coffee in coffee maker; rest of the granola, milk, banana slices
  • Lunch – rotisserie chicken, couscous made with the coffee maker, salad or veggies (I used the FBC method, rather than the Gizmodo method for the couscous)
  • Dinner out

Day 3

  • Breakfast – coffee in the coffee maker; muffins, all the leftover fruit
  • Lunch – a DIY assortment of pita bread, hummus, leftover chicken and turkey, carrots, celery, and cucumber slices
  • Dinner with Shamu (one of the splurges we were saving for)

Day 4

  • Breakfast – coffee in the coffeemaker; applesauce sandwiches grilled with the iron (to use the last of the bread)
  • Lunch – on the road!

So, if you’ll notice, I don’t really trust the coffeemaker to do my cooking.  Also, it takes soooooooo loooooong to cook things using a coffeemaker, even using techniques that make me trust the idea a bit more (like double heating the water by running it through twice and insulating the carafe with foil to raise the temperature.  I would rather be enjoying time with my family than babysitting a coffeepot.  Also, I will now be thoroughly cleaning every hotel room coffee maker and running an empty cycle through as soon as I get there based on what I now know people are doing in there.  I think it might be worth it to go buy a small bottle of white vinegar, just to be sure.

But when we got to the hotel room, I was struck kind of dumbfounded when I saw this:

20140607-080345-29025731.jpg

Yeah, kinda like a Keurig machine, only not.  I didn’t feel the need to immediately scrub the thing to get hot dog germs out of it, but I also was glad I didn’t plan anything that NEEDED to use a carafe to cook in.  I still could have done the couscous, though.  I just would have had to make it in individual servings, freezer bag cooking style instead of in one big batch.

Delegate Wear

I have been going over and over the bazillion travel capsule wardrobe plans out there on the internet. I think they are a great idea, especially if you want to pack very lightly. But no one has really designed one for my specific need – being a Delegate at the National Girl Scout Meeting and Convention. Almost every capsule starts with the premise that you should have a foundation of black, because black goes with everything.  Many will give lip service to the idea of using other neutrals, like beige, brown, white, ivory, or navy – but they rarely show examples.  The Vivienne Files does have quite a few posts that focus on navy, as do some other sites, but many of those do not focus on formal business attire.  So, what is an adventurer to do?  Make her own.

The Rules:

  1. Navy formal business attire for Council Sessions.  Three days of them.  Don’t want to wear the same thing three days in a row.
  2. Try not to buy things I will never wear again.
  3. Must look good with the Girl Scout Scarf – so orange and red are out.  Would be anyway, since I don’t wear them.  Ever.
  4. I might get to walk around the Hall of Experiences, or do other things where I can wear casual clothes.
  5. I’m not wearing a suit on the plane.
  6. There is a Delegate Dinner and Party I would like to look pretty and non-suity for.

Here is what I came up.

Delegate Wear

Navy Suit Jacket, White Scoopneck Tank Top, Blue GSSJC Polo (I already own), white button down, Girl Scout Legacy Scarf, Navy Scoopneck Tank Top, Green to Navy Ombre Overtunic, Khakis, Navy Suit Pants (The suit pieces are from Jessica London, the polo is Land’s End, the other four shirts are from Catherines, and I haven’t gotten the khakis yet.)

  • Travel days – khakis and polo
  • Casual Activities – Khakis and polo, khakis and white shirt, khakis and navy tank and white shirt
  • Council Sessions – suit pants and white tank and jacket, suit pants and navy tank and jacket, suit pants and white shirt
  • Dinner, Party, etc. – either pants and navy tank and overtunic

I love that overtunic.  It screams Girl Scouts to me while not screaming GIRL SCOUTS, if you understand what I mean.  It’s sheer and floaty – no way to wear it without a tank underneath, but that’s okay.  The tanks are the same as one of my favorite shirts I already owned – in black.  I love the fit, the thickness of the material, the length (have I mentioned I’m really tall?), the collar, and the shoulder area.  I like that they don’t have the usual tank straps, so under a jacket it looks like I am wearing a regular shirt without all the extra fabric making me hot on my arms.  I would never feel really comfortable wearing a full business suit with long sleeve white button down shirt under a jacket – the heat would kill me!

Next, I have to sort out shoes and accessories.

Hygiene Kits (Packing Lists)

So, now that I’ve talked about why you should consider having 2 or 3 packed hygiene kits (or at least 2 or 3 lists), what should be in them, and what they should be in, how about some downloadable lists? 🙂 Your wish, yada yada . . .

personal

 

Individual Hygiene List – Camping

Individual Hygiene List – Roadtripping

Individual Hygiene List – Flying

Individual Hygiene List – Blank

Individual Hygiene List – All of the above in one .pdf

Take one, two, or all of them, whatever suits YOUR adventure.  And let me know what you think in the comments!

Hygiene Kit (Contents)

My travel sized hoard

So what to pack in your hygiene bag depends on you, for the most part, but there are some universals, right?

  1. You want your hair to be clean and nice looking (unless you’re camping and plan on wearing a bandana for the second and third day).
  2. You want your teeth to be clean.
  3. You want your face to be clean.
  4. You want your body to be clean (see #1, only sans bandana. That will not help hide your stinky body unless you are the size of a Barbie doll).

What I use for these 4 things will not necessarily be of any help to you, as you have your own issues and preferences. For instance, you might not have superfine hair that you need to volumize, you might not have a weird aversion to gel toothpastes, and you might have a lot more intense makeup regimen. So we’ll talk in generalities, mmmkay?

Camping supplies

Let’s face it, taking Brownies to one of your local Council’s camps is not “roughing it”. And while I have come to realize recently that our Council’s campsites are on the luxurious side (climate controlled bathroom units with showers, flushies, and OUTLETS), I believe that most Councils have set their camps up at least as well as state parks – with a central bathroom unit with showers in easy walking distance of the campsites. This means that you are going to be dealing with drains that feed into some kind of a septic system, which reduces the headache caused in picking out hygiene supplies.

When you start taking your girls on more primitive style camping trips, you will need to look into biodegradable soaps that won’t pollute the local water system, packing toilet paper in and out, and why a trowel is suddenly part of your “hygiene supply” packing list instead of fire supplies.

But at this point, the main thing to keep in mind is to avoid smelling like fruit or flowers. Fruit and flowers smell really nice for one reason: to attract animals. Which is the last you want to do at camp. Or you want your girls to do at camp. So no perfume, no body spray, unscented everything as much as possible.

Flying

We all know what the major issues with trips taken by airline are these days (as far as packing goes) – baggage fees and TSA restrictions. No one wants to pay for checked baggage or possibly lose a checked bag, so we are trying to use carry-ons only. But that means that our hygiene kit is now subject to the dreaded 3-1-1 rule. There are several ways to go about dealing with this:

  1. Collect samples and hotel supplies. As you can see, I have quite a collection of hotel soaps and shampoos and I can’t quite turn down a free sample. I haven’t had to buy travel toothpaste ever, thanks to my family dentist. And my travel deodorant needs have all been fulfilled by Walmart’s free samples over the last 10 years.
  2. Get a multitasker. Dr. Bronner’s soap has been touted for over a hundred years as the only soap you’ll ever need. From shampoo to body wash to floor cleaner to dog wash to toothpaste, it is said to clean it all! More nice things that make me want to try it: it is organic, biodegradable, and can be purchase in 2 oz. bottles.
  3. Go dry. If it isn’t a liquid, the 3-1-1 rule doesn’t apply. Things that come in solid form: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, sunscreen, perfume, laundry detergent, and makeup. You might want to test things out before your trip, though. It doesn’t matter how much space you save in your quart sized bag, if you hate the solid shampoo you packed!
  4. Buy when you arrive. Planning on staying a week or more? If you’re traveling in the US, chances are your favorite brand of whatever liquid is available at the local drugstore. Skip the hassle of packing up 3 oz. bottles, and just get a full sized bottle when you arrive. Especially when traveling with your family – get one bottle of shampoo for all instead of a tiny bottle for each.

Roadtripping

Pack what you want! Every lotion and potion that makes you feel clean and pretty at home can be taken with you when you no longer have to be concerned about TSA inspections. I do recommend continuing to pack liquids in plastic baggies, though, in case of leaks.

Next post: what do you pack all of this stuff in???

 

Updated Packing Lists

Greetings, fellow adventurers!  Okay, so I noticed that all the lists I was giving you looked . . .well,  . . .boring.  And they were the ones I had picked up from my Council, from my Service Unit, and from across the web.

So I decided to update them!  Click the pics below to get the new, pretty, coordinating PDF packing lists.  Let me know what you think.  If someone out there likes them, I might go ahead and make other forms that go with them.

 

Packing List (Girl)

Packing List (Girl)

Packing List (Troop)

Packing List (Troop)

Packing List (First Aid)

Packing List (First Aid)

The Other List (Craft Box)

The Other List (Craft Box)