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I'm Back! Did you miss me? I have had a whirlwind week and a half since my last abysmal post. To answer any lingering questions - I have forgiven myself for my brash and outspoken stupidity, and it seems I was pardoned by the parties I didn't mean to judge and insult - but did because I didn't think before I spoke. The old ego is a bit bruised from verbally flogging myself and while blackbird pie might be delicious in an old nursery tale but it doesn't taste good when you have to eat crow for an apology. 'Nuff said on that topic.

I went to Arizona for a few days to visit with my best friend, Rachel. While I was there I also caught up with some other old and good friends, Michael, Scott and Chip, and Kathy. It was good to reconnect with old Philadelphia friends who have relocated to Tucson and Phoenix. This was a short visit packed to the brim with visits, sight seeing and touristy things, and lots of great dining. I went on a real Southwest Mexican food kick - you can't help but have excellente Mexicanno food when in the Southwest. We ran the gamut on low-country Southwest style Mexican, dined at a few local landmark old timey Mexican Restaurant chains, to a high-end haute cuisine hotel restaurant that served up the prettiest meal I've eaten outside of my own kitchen!
I am hoping that I didn't put on too many pounds from all dining out. I tried to be very health conscious and make smart choices but it does get hard when there are so many delicious salsas and chips presented, scrumptious refried beans and fideo, fish tacos and Oaxaca style creamy rice dishes. A girl could pack on the pounds fast. Thank goodness I'm back home, safe and sound and ready to return to my Weight Watchers meeting on Monday!
Yes - there were other things that I did on this trip besides eat myself silly.

We went to Phoenix and saw the Diamondbacks beat the pants off the San Diego Padres.

We had a fantastic visit with my friend Scott and his partner Chip and their three dogs,

Macy,

Checkers


and Bosely.


On Sunday we drove up to Sedona, taking in the sights, such as the Havillina statues placed throughout the town of Sedona.
We did a little hiking along the red rocks and dried out river bed along the Bell's Rock loop.
Monday was devoted to some shopping and walking though the gorgeous Tucson Botanical Gardens.

The flowers were still in bloom in the gardens as well as in the dessert. The timing was nearly perfect to see the desert before all the color is drained from it and everything turns brown.
We also went through the Tucson Barrio district, a colorful area that is home to many WPA Era Adobes, Casitas and adorable cottage style homes. Some of the homes are in disrepair, while others have been gentrified or left in their wabi sabi style - paint fading but still interesting to see.



Before I knew it, it was time to repack all of my stuff and head for a long day's travel home. I was lucky enough to get an upgrade option to first class - so naturally I took it. So that's what I've been missing all these years! Service, good food, free wine, attendees who are pleasant. Hot towels and warm cookies (I only had a bite!) Yeah Baby! Wish I could get first class accommodations all the time on the cheap.

Trying to eat sensibly while away and exercise proved to be a bit of a challenge. With all that we did in such a short period of time, I still thought I'd be walking, hiking and possibly biking to work off some of the good eats in which I indulged. The best work out I had was going to Rachel's gym on Monday and doing a Brick workout - a run/bike/run set, which was actually an elliptical machine, run, elliptical workout instead. Seems like every time I was ready to get on the one bike the gym had, someone else was already riding it. I did get in a hard workout though, completing a training set and running almost 2 miles. Once home, I got in a few more workouts through the rest of this past week. I rode about 16 miles and went to the gym to do a weight training session on Wednesday; Friday I rode 33 miles; I went out to Paoli and took my bike on the train and then rode back to the city. I can feel the difference in my workouts and endurance levels. Hills that a few months ago stopped me dead and left me breathless and walking my bike up them are now not a problem. The ride home from Paoli is fairly easy - it's a lot of downhill riding with not as many inclines to navigate. Still, my stamina is better, my navigation was sure, and without the cold wind ripping into my lungs, I had a lot of energy left after I made it home. Today, Sunday, I swam some laps at the gym. The swimming part of my training is actually proving to be my biggest challenge - I haven't fit it into my routine yet. Now that I'm back from vacation and so may visits with friends here there and everywhere, I'm hoping to get more of a training routine rhythm going. I should be able to get to the gym a lot this week to get in all of my training; running, weights, swimming, as well as getting ready for the big 5 Borough Ride this coming weekend. Whew! So much for endurance! I have a few posts I'm working on for great recipes. Dining out gave me a number of new dishes that I'm eager to try - fresher salsas, fish tacos with interesting ingredients, great new vegetarian sandwiches and cookies. Stay tuned for a whole new season of Mexican-inspired cuisine!

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