Tears running down my cheek, dirt all over my body, and my face mask snug around my ears...this was Camelback Mountain. I wanted to squash my travel bug but hadn’t realized I’d be rock climbing to do so! Camelback veterans were jetting past me and my roommates. We trekked up Echo Canyon Trail to get to the summit. Our blood, sweat, and tears were worth it once we saw the view at sunset. This 2.5-mile hike was the hardest and most rewarding trail I’ve experienced. I absolutely loved taking photos from the mountain top because I had never seen Arizona look more beautiful.
Of course, we couldn’t leave with only one trail complete. We finished up our trip hiking Pinnacle Peak before heading back to Chicago to quarantine. Camelback was full of enormous rocks and Pinnacle was full of huge cacti. Thankfully Pinnacle Peak was easier, however, I still ended up out of breath at certain points marching up. It was crazy to see the immense amount of people outside enjoying the 70-degree weather in December. This really made me wish there were additional opportunities for outdoor activities year-round in Chicago.
While you can’t go kayaking in Chicago during winter, you can in Arizona. My roommates and I spent two and a half hours kayaking Saguaro Lake and I believe my arms would have fallen off if we went any longer. I’m embarrassed to say but even a few days after I was like ‘oh I am STILL feeling the burn’.
I can’t end this blog without giving a shoutout to my three favored restaurants! Hash Kitchen was the first place I’ve ever had a mimosa flight at...it was amazing. We had Kiwi, Strawberry, Pineapple, and Orange flavored mimosas. I can’t wait to go back when their DJ can hype everyone up, out of their seats, and dancing. In Old Town Scottsdale we went to Barrio Queen for dinner. Unfortunately, that night I was on my rum and coke kick and decided to forgo their yummy margarita. From tacos one night to shrimp and pasta the next. The Vig’s pasta was so spicy I had to take breaks eating for my mouth to cool down but by far my favorite.
On our first vacation as roommates, we were able to stay safe while engaging in a majority of activities that we would have planned during a normal year. As news of the vaccine rollout remains positive and prominent, I am looking forward to more fun and safe trips in 2021.