Off-Roading Basics: Where To Off-Road In Arizona

In my past few posts I’ve brought up the fact that DH and I have been having weekly off-roading adventures throughout central Arizona.  Ever since we’ve gotten weekends off together and purchased our new Jeep Wrangler we’ve been hitting the trails each weekend.  Most often we hit one area on Saturday and then another on Sunday.  We are off-roading fools.

Jeep Off-Roading

I’ve been wondering how exactly I should share about our adventures.  Let’s face it, I’m not a fantastic story-teller that can weave words so eloquently that you feel like you’re riding along with us.  At the same time if I just share facts/directions of our trip it’s not all that fun either. I guess I need to find a mix of somewhere in-between. Just like I didn’t want my site to turn into all vegan restaurant reviews, my plan isn’t to be all about trails.  However, this site is about sharing my life and experiences so whatever is happening in my life you get to read about.  And as I’ve said in the past, I rely on reviews and feedback from others so maybe someone will stumble upon my site and find some helpful info.

Jeep Off-Roading Arizona

Although we are on our third Jeep Wrangler DH and I are pretty wet behind the ears when it comes to off-roading. You would think it’s pretty basic. You just get in and go, right? Yeah…to a certain extent. But some planning is required.  So that’s where I’m going to start….

Where do we off-road?
There’s so much land out here you’d think that’d be pretty easy to figure out. But we have to keep in mind that all land isn’t public nor is it accessible. Not to mention, we need to stay within the abilities of our Jeep….and ourselves. (Our Jeep is stock with no modifications…for now) The first thing we did was hit the internet. There are a ton of sites out there. Some are excellent with providing directions and coordinates. Others, not so good (hence why I think directions/tips should be including in my write ups).

Jeep Off-Roading Arizona

While there are many out there a few we’ve found myself frequenting is Experience AZ and  While DH and I haven’t joined the Virtual Jeep Club yet we’ve found an abundance of insight on their forum. We also purchased the book Arizona Trails Central Region which provides trails with varying difficulties from all over the region.  Not only does it give turn-by-turn navigation with mileage and map, but each listing has a little history write up. We will definitely be purchasing the other regional books in the series. The hiking maps I purchased when we moved here have helped a ton too…even though it’s time to invest in a few more.

Jeep Off-Roading Arizona

For now we’re content in sticking with easy trails so we can gain experience. So far we’ve driven up a mountain to a summit and down through a canyon filled with sand and water. We’ve also visited old abandoned mines and ghost towns along with other historical locations.  While we love to go out and just drive DH and I prefer to have some sort of mission or goal in mind.

Jeep Off-Roading Arizona

Because of that we’ve taken to rock hounding AKA rock collecting. I’m a firm believer in leave no trace so I must admit I was a bit unsure about taking anything from the land.  Quite honestly, I’m still unsure.  But DH really enjoys the hunt and I must say that I’ve fallen for it too. We are total novices so there’s a good chance that most of what we collect isn’t anything special or worth anything, but we’re not in it to make money.  More than anything it’s about simple enjoyment and the chance to learn about the earth, minerals, elements, and history, while still being considerate of the land. We have yet to find an excellent resource for rock hounding so for now we scour the internet and rely on our Rock Hounding Arizona book. However, it does sound like there are a ton of local mineralogical groups and we only live a couple hours from Quartzsite, home of 9 major gem/mineral swap meets that attract people from all over the world.

Rock Hound - Obsidian - Apache Tears

Just like hiking, each location is different in itself and most often the terrain changes throughout the trail.  You never know what you’ll find. There’s no doubt that Arizona has a little bit of everything to please almost anyone. When it comes to off-roading we’ve only traveled through the central region but we can’t wait to adventure and explore all over the state.

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)

Summer 2014: In Review

I saw this on Christine’s blog and really loved the idea. So hey, I’m going to run with it.

What was your favorite thing you did alone this summer?
Firefly Music Festival!  While I wasn’t ‘alone’ since I got to meet up with other Microsoft Nokia Influencers, I flew out to Delaware alone not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into.  But it was an absolute blast.

Firefly Music Festival #ListenWithLumia

What was your favorite thing you did as a family this summer?
DH and I finally had weekends off together so we took advantage of our new Jeep and hit the trails.  Although we’ve only just tipped our toe into off-roading we’ve had a ton of fun learning the ropes as we go. We’ve really taken to getting off-the-beaten track to exploreback roads, search for mines, ghost towns, and dabble in rock hounding. Anytime I’m outdoors I’m happy, but when DH and I get to adventure together you won’t find me any happier.

Picket Post Mountain Hiking

What books did you read this summer?
I tend to lean towards chick-lit or romance books.  Don’t get me wrong, good literature is great, but keeping it light and easy is what I prefer. Per my Goodreads account I’ve read 28 books so far in 2014 so I average a book a week.  You can find my most recent reads on my list.

What movies did you see this summer?
Since June we’ve gone to see Jersey Boys, X-Men: Days of Future, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Planes: Search and Rescue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and What If.  Just a guess but I think DH and I go to the movies more than the average person.

Movie Tickets

What do you WISH you had done this summer?
My parents recently retired and moved to Florida this past month.  I wish I had the ability to go visit them but that will have to wait…for now.

Where did you travel this summer?
Delaware for the Firefly Music Festival, Florida for my cousin’s wedding, and Mexico to visit Puerto Penasco.  Up next: Jamaica!


Did you grow anything this summer?
Well, I was growing my hair, but then I went and had it cut.

What was your favorite treat (as in dessert) this summer?
That’s like asking me what buzzbomb creature is my favorite!  I LOVE my sweet treats.  Lately I’ve treated myself to Sweet and Sara’s vegan marshmallows, Eat Pastry vegan chocolate chip chip cookie dough, Biscoff Cookie Spread, and Steve’s Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel non-dairy ice cream. I recommend all of them but they are addictive.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Steve's Ice Cream Vegan

What did you celebrate this summer?
31 years of life and 12 years of marriage.

What is a favorite post you wrote this Summer?
That’s a close one…I’d have to say it’s a tie between Welcome To The Family Ojo and Married At 18.

What is a favorite photograph you took this summer?
So many.  I’m going with this one. This was taken when DH and I recently visited Superior, AZ to explore the Picket Post Mountain area and rock hound for Apache Tears (obsidian).  Want to see some more of my favorite photos?  Check out our our Flickr account, DH on Instagram, or my Instagram account too.
David and Heidi Hiking

What do you want to do next summer?
Oh the possibilities are endless.  However, if you haven’t figured it out the one thing in life I really want is to travel. I’m grateful to already travel a decent amount but I’d love to have the opportunity to do so even more!

I want to know about your summer!  Pick any of the above questions and answer in the comments below.

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

…try, try again.

Have you ever had a time where you feel like you’re going backwards?  Yeah, that’s what I feel like right now.  Lately it seems that no matter how much energy I put into something it doesn’t seem to work out.  In addition I find myself having to re-do whatever it may be to fix the problem….even if there was no problem to begin with.  I’ve found myself shaking my fist at the sky in frustration and just overall grumbly. Unfortunately several of those exciting-to-me changes I brought to you last week didn’t initially pan out so well.

Difficulties #quote

One of the biggest things on my mind has been my hair. After dealing with the awkwardness of growing it out for more than a year I’m just done.  I thought coloring it would lift my spirits but that didn’t seem to do the trick since my hair didn’t take to the bright colors I wanted to infuse.  After thinking about it a bit more I decided that while I LOVE the color there’s obviously a reason my hair hasn’t kept the color.  Why in the world should I keep blasting my hair with chemicals when it’s blatantly refusing it? Just doesn’t make sense.

So I went back to the drawing board.  Thankfully a rad coworker who has an eye for fashion/style, Wadeh, pointed me in another direction.  Enter Salvador Calvano Hair.  You can read all about Salvador and Patty’s amazing work on their website.  In a nutshell? They’re legit stylists. From runways to magazines, they’ve traveled the globe doing what they love….and now they’ve set up shop in Phoenix.

Salvador Calvano HairSource: Salvador Calvano Hair

Their salon has an industrial chic feel with vintage items, photography, and artwork on the walls.  I read somewhere how someone described it as looking more like an art gallery than a salon.  Pretty spot on.  But it’s not like a stuffy art gallery where you can’t touch anything and people walk around with their noses turned up.  On the contrary, Salvador and Patty welcomed me with open arms making me feel more than welcome in their space. Within minutes I felt like I had known them for years.

Salvador Calvano Hair

As usual, I sat down, said that I’m open to anything, and let them do their thing.  After some discussion between the two they both agreed that they loved my natural waves and wanted to go with a wash, scrunch, and go style. No blow drying needed. Music to me ears. I’d say they read me quite well.  So that’s the direction we went.

Salvador Calvano Hair

After Patty cut my hair Salvador mixed up some hair color and went to work on my existing tri-colored hair.  As of now we’re not real sure how this color will take given my history with hair color.  For now it’s covering as we hoped and we all agreed that we love it.  The plan is to keep coloring my hair until my hair grows and we close the gap to my normal hair color.

Salvador Calvano Hair

I walked away from my experience at Salvador Calvano stoked.  I’m also excited to try their professional, self-formulated, vegan hair products, Extreme Therapy For Hair, and look forward to sharing more about them in the future.

Extreme Therapy Hair Products vegan cruelty-free

After living in Phoenix for 2 years I’ve searched high and low for a hair salon.  I’ve come across some great people and salons.  However, for some reason or another they just weren’t ‘right’ for me.  I think I may have found that fit.

A few other setbacks I’ve dealt with this past week are my new running shoes and prescription glasses. Unfortunately I found that while I loved the Brooks Ghost I needed to go up at least a half size.  Once I sized up I found that the Saucony Ride had a better fit for my foot than the Brooks Ghost.  I’m only a few runs in with the Saucony’s but they’re feeling good.Sadly, the foot discomfort that prompted me to go to the podiatrist is still persistent.  The weird thing?  I’m fine if I run on a treadmill.  It’s the outdoor runs that seem to bring out the issue.  I’d like to think and hope that it will get better once I adjust to my orthotics but I worry that I may find myself taking my treatment options a step further by going to a chiropractor.

Saucony Ride

As for the glasses…Something I didn’t bring up last time was that I had waited 3 months for them to arrive after ordering. Essentially they were on back order overseas which meant no glasses for me. When I finally received word they were ready I was beyond excited…only to have the disappointment that I couldn’t see when I put them on.  Like seriously, I couldn’t read words.  Mind you, my eyesight isn’t all that bad in the first place.  However, I took the advice of the eye care staff and gave time for my eyes to adjust.  After days of using every ounce of patience to allow my eyes to adjust I gave in and called the doctor.

Although I purchased the glasses in-network, I didn’t purchase them at the office where I had my eye exam. So to avoid a further mess I called my insurance and they authorized a second examination to verify my prescription at the office where I ordered the glasses.  Sure enough my eyes were examined and my initial prescription wasn’t correct.  So here I am waiting once again for my glasses.  But hopefully I’ll have them soon!

Heidi and OjoAt least Ojo approves of my old glasses

So that’s 3 of many random things on my mind lately. Alas, I don’t want to sit here and whine about my first-world problems when I can take a look at any media outlet (or just open my eyes to my surroundings) and see that my problems have got nothing on what others are dealing with. Not to mention, more than likely these ‘setbacks’ are just a reminder that all of this is just part of life.  Maybe it’s meant to be for me to have them in order for me to really seek out what is truly and right fit….both literally and figuratively.

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)

Sports Chalet Gift Card Giveaway: Meet The New SC Community & Expert Ambassadors

Disclaimer: While fitness gear may be given to me to review in the future I have received no compensation from Sport Chalet.

About a month or so ago I received an email from Sports Chalet saying that they named me as one of their Expert Ambassadors. WHAT?!  Me? Expert?  In running?

Not going to lie, when I first read this I had to giggle, especially since I do my best to stay away from the idea of being considered an expert on any topic.  Then again, even though I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to running I still I have a few miles and experiences under my belt. And, while I’m not a super speedy runner or someone that will taut a long list of races or PRs, I have my share of crazy experiences and made mistakes…. and have lived to tell about them.  I’m guessing that’s why Sports Chalet named me an expert.  Because I’m willing to share it all.

Not sure who Sport Chalet is? What started as a small ski shop in 1959 they now have 50 stores in 4 states. Talk about dreaming big and going for it!  Want to learn more about their history?  You can find more here.  

Sport Chalet Expert AmbassadorCheck out my bio on the Sport Chalet site

I am not the only Expert Ambassador for Sport Chalet.  With the launch of a brand new Sports Chalet site they’ve also introduced communities.  From running, fitness, cycling, scuba, and outdoors they’ve named ambassadors from all activities.  If you check out their Explore Your Community page and take a peek at their Experts you may see a few more familiar faces.

Sport Chalet Expert Ambassador

Once you click into your specific community you will find more info on your sport.  While the communities are in the beginning stages, look for activity to ramp up with videos and guides in the coming months.  That’s where I come in.  Myself, along with the other Sports Chalet Expert Ambassadors, will be sharing reviews and tips when it comes to gear, training, etc.

Sport Chalet Expert Ambassador

But the community doesn’t end once you leave the site.  We’re looking to build these communities all over social media and we’d love for you to join in.

Is Pinterest your thing?  You’ll find Sports Chalet pinning great stuff on their boards.  Once again, you’ll see there are boards for most sports.  Obviously I’ll be collaborating with them and fellow Sports Chalet Expert Running Ambassadors on the #RunAddiction board.

Sport Chalet Expert Ambassador

For those that are into Instagram and Twitter join the Sports Chalet community by tagging your photos with these hashtags:


Sport Chalet Expert Ambassador

All of this is pretty rad, but what makes it even cooler?  There’s a chance for you to win stuff ! Like, legit travel experiences and adventures.  Read: Visiting ASICS headquarters to get outfitted with gear, attending a training camp coached by Deena Kastor, followed up by VIP race experience in NYC.  Or a 10 day trek in New Zealand. Or an Ultimate CrossFit experience…and more.  Like I said, legit. Check out Sport Chalet’s  Adventures of A Lifetime Sweepstakes page for all of the details and to enter.

Sport Chalet Expert Ambassador

To celebrate the launch of their brand new site and communities I’m hosting a giveaway too!  Enter for your chance to win one of two gift cards up for grabs.

Grand prize wins a $100 Sport Chalet gift card and runner up will receive a $50 Sport Chalet gift card.

Enter below and don’t forget to share with your friends and family by tweeting about this giveaway simply by clicking this link.

Note: If you’re a 1st time commenter on my site your comment will not show up until it is approved by me.  No worries, it’s still counts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway runs from Wednesday, August 27, 2014 until 12:00 PST on Saturday, September 13, 2014.  Winners will be contacted by Wednesday September 17, 2014.

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)