Touristy Tuesday: Fresno, CA Edition

Let me start off by saying that when we told people we were going to Fresno we heard absolutely NOTHING positive. Not one kind word about the city. Ghetto, hot, and boring were all common ways to describe the place. Personally, my only familiarity with Fresno was from the Fresno Bulldogs, a violent urban gang featured on the show Gangland. Abe and I had low expectations for the place, but I am excited to report that Fresno was an absolute and total blast.

Touristy Tuesday this week doesn’t actually start in Fresno though. As soon as Abe and I got into town we stopped by Hertz and I picked up a rental car for the night – I was headed off to Monterey! Remember Cleveland Dave who I met in the tattoo parlor while we were in the area with work? Well, Fresno isn’t too far from Monterey so we planned a little spur of the moment rendezvous.

When I left Fresno it was 107 degrees. By the time I pulled into Monterey the sun was replaced by dense clouds and the thermometer was reading 58 degrees! I had quickly forgotten that Monterey doesn’t do summer!

What was memorable about Monterey was the great dinner Dave took me out to on our last night in town. He kept his track record up by taking me out to the Whaling Station – a fine steak and seafood restaurant right off Cannery Row.

This place didn’t joke around with their steaks. Our waiter showed us all of the (enormous) cuts of meat they had available and also told us about the fresh salmon that was caught that morning.

I couldn’t resist! Dave ordered the biggest steak on the menu (or waiter commented it was definitely a “man’s meal”) and I went with the salmon – both were incredible choices. There wasn’t a bite left to be had of either!

The waiters were absolutely hilarious and completely charming. They let us both try cuts of the prime rib that they serve table-side. If you get the chance to have dinner in Monterey, this is the place for good wine and good food!

After dinner we headed out on another adventure – dessert at the Navy Lodge. Being in the Army, Cleveland Dave had the hookup with the coolest place to stay in town. (No question it easily beat out the Best Western Plus of Salinas!) It was a beautiful, historic hotel with 12′ ceilings – I felt like I could have been staying at the White House in my corner room!

I kept the theme of recent Touristy Tuesday posts alive with my choice of dessert for the week – S’mores! On the way into Monterey I stopped and grabbed wine and the fixings for my favorite treat.

After having two delicious variations the last two weeks, it was awesome to have the real deal. Granted, we made them in the microwave, but still delicious.

Because we only had one day off this week I had to say goodbye and take off for Fresno early in the morning. On the way there I had passed one of those brown interstate signs for roadside attractions that had caught my eye – Dinosaur Point. Eager to get into town I had forgone stopping, but on the way back I just couldn’t resist and pulled off the highway.

Luckily the drive was absolutely gorgeous because the final destination was a bit of a disappointment. I was expecting a geologic marvel. Turns out it was named Dinosaur Point because from the sky this portion of the reservoir kindof-sortof-but-not-really looks like a dinosaur. Luckily I asked the park ranger what the deal was before paying the $10 park entry fee!

With our one day off, Abe and I made the most of it. First on our agenda was a tour of the Kraft Capri Sun plant. You get special treatment with the Wienermobile sometimes and because Oscar Mayer is also a Kraft brand we were lucky enough to score a private tour. Unfortunately, due to top secret German engineering, I don’t have any pictures to post from inside the plant. What is interesting though is that Capri Sun and Kool-Aid Bursts are both made start-to-finish, including the packaging – nothing is shipped in! We saw the bottles and packets being made, then, filled, then packaged!

After our insider look at the technology behind the favorite drink for sack lunches, Abe and I went to check out the Forestiere Gardens. This was a TripAdvisor find of the highest quality.

The gardens were developed by a Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere who originally worked as a subway tunneler in New York after coming to America. He moved to Fresno to start his own citrus garden though and eventually the heat inspired him to dig out a space underground to stay cool. From there, his two passions collided and he started burrowing out rooms.

Baldassare wanted to create an entire underground resort and over the course of decades he dug out almost five acres, complete with a ballroom, chapel, bedrooms, and a kitchen!

Each room in the garden had an individual skylight which allowed the trees to grow upward.The amount of engineering and science, combined with the necessary green thumb, was incredible. It was very cool to see this guy’s life work!

Friday we were off to work at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, CA. Let me get this right, I get to essentially work on the set of Top Gun for the day? Best. Job. Ever. We were at the Commissary and then surprised the daycare with a visit as well. I bet those daycare workers really appreciated our visit after we gave all 80 children Wiener Whistles!

While on the job we also met the base Fire Department. Perfect timing because it was our day to wash the company car. They said they would help us wash it, so we headed over to the station after work. Immediately they started hosing it down and Abe and I asked how we could help, to which they replied, “sit back and relax.” They washed the whole thing for us! How awesome was that? Thanks guys!

 Because Abe has a military ID our day on base continued with a trip to the gym. It’s not every day i get to workout with our Military Might!

After our workout Abe and I cheers’d in the one way that’s OK in the company car – to muscle milk!

Although we left Lemoore after that, my day wasn’t done with men in uniform! Cleveland Dave was making the same drive I did the day before and coming to visit me in Fresno! He had a little better ride though – an absolutely beautiful Sebring Convertible! I don’t know what looked better – him or the car!

We grabbed dinner at a local “creative Japanese cuisine” place. Sushi is a cuisine I admittedly haven’t explored much and have been reluctant to try. Trusting Dave, with some Sake for liquid courage, we tried three different rolls!

Saturday Fresno got even better! That evening Dave let me drive his rental, and I have to say – it just might be better than the Wienermobile!

I had been running in Woodward Park all week, which is this absolutely fantastic park that the Eaton Trail begins at. In addition to some gorgeous views, the park is also home to a Japanese Garden that I took Dave to.

It was beautiful and at $3 it was a fun and cheap date!

After that we met up with Abe and Matt, a friend he met while I was in Monterey, at this wine bar called Vino & Friends. (My two favorite things!) You could order wines by the half-glass or glass and they had what was essentially a wine vending machine.

The dispenser allowed you to try 1oz, 3oz, or 6oz pours of different wines – from $7 to $70 wines. Abe just loved all the red wine options! Dave got the boldest red wine on the menu, and again the server commented on the manliness of his choice. Noticing a trend here? Matt and I both went with the sweetest white wines available!

This was easily the best night of Fresno and the new friends were a blast to hang out with, not to mention absolutely hilarious!

I spent Sunday night recovering from the weekend with a 10.5 hour nap, followed by an 8 mile run Monday morning.

Monday made for a great last day in Fresno. Professionally, it was fantastic – we had six interviews with local Fresno media!

After work, we celebrated by checking another item off the Abe & Kelly bucket list – going to the shooting range. This is something we wanted to do since Prescott, but didn’t get the chance to until Fresno. We got a .22, some zombies for target practice, and grabbed a lane. This was my first time shooting (outside of summer camp in middle school) and I couldn’t believe how much fun it was! Maybe I lived in Missouri too long, but I could definitely see myself buying a gun now!

I’m glad Abe was with me because his military experience was really helpful in teaching me the best way to stand and hold the gun. I didn’t kill any kids, so that was a plus.

We offset the bruteness of the afternoon activities by a nice Italian dinner to carbo-load for my morning run. Matt joined us for dinner again and I got to pick his brain about his job. He works for the Economic Development Council for Fresno and told me all about what he does. How have I never heard of this job before?! It seems right up my alley! After filling up for the morning run I went back to the hotel and promptly entered a food coma.

This morning I took advantage of my final chance to enjoy the running trails of Fresno. We lucked out and our hotel was connected to a fantastic bike path that went up to Woodward Park and connected to the Eaton trail. The views from it were absolutely spectacular.

Today I checked my long run off for the week with a 16 mile run, which went great. I decided to transition from the water belt to the full-on Camelbak – you know that means these runs are getting serious.

I did reminisce for a bit about my last 16 mile run, which I did along the Charles River in Boston over spring break. It seems so crazy to think I was doing the same run, just four months ago, on the verge of finding out I was about to become a Hotdogger driving the Wienermobile!

So that was Fresno – more new friends, lots of adventures, and quite a few good stories from it all. Now we’re off to Susanville, CA (yeah, who knows where that is – Mt. Lassen anyone?) and then Salt Lake City later on in the week!


Touristy Tuesday: San Francisco and Monterey, CA Edition

-Each Tuesday I post about my last week in a new city. These tend to be more like travelogues, but you might find some running anecdotes scattered in here too! But be warned, these post always end up being novels!–

After two weeks in the Arizona heat Abe and I headed back to California! Coming from 118 degree weather, we were anything but prepared for the 68 degree days that we experienced over the last week! Despite the unexpectedly chilly weather, I was pleasantly surprised with all that the area had in store for us.

San Francisco

With two days off right away, Abe and I rented a car and headed to San Francisco. It’s always a nice reprieve from the company car when we splurge for a rental and it set us up for a few low key days to just be tourists! Immediately we plugged in the gps coordinates for our first stop: the Golden Gate Bridge!

What a spectacular sight. The Grand Canyon was an unbelivable natural wonder, but the Golden Gate Bridge was a man-made architectural marvel. I had no idea it was just so big! Yes, yes, yes – I’ve seen the history channel “making of” shows that illustrates how thick the cabling is, but I think it is definitely something you have to see to really understand the magnitude of. Did you know that bridge is 1.6 miles across?! How is that even possible?

I, of course, was delighted to acquire one more stamp for my National Park Passport. Naturally, it was the second time in a row I forgot the darn thing and just had to stamp some scrap paper to paste in later.

Abe and I walked about halfway across the bridge, overlooking the bay and Alcatraz.

From the Bridge we continued on our tour of all the great San Francisco tourist stops. First, we drove through the Presidio.

Then we headed up and down those crazy San Francisco streets to Lombard Street. It was just like in the movies! Not only would the hills have killed the company car, but I don’t know how well the 27′ long hot dog would have done on those curves down Lombard.

I was glad we actually got to drive down it, instead of just walk, because that was an absolute blast!

With the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard street checked off our bucket list, we had to experience true San Francisco culture and off to Castro Street we went! We knew we had made it to the right area when we were greeted by the football field sized rainbow flag. Ok, that might be an over-exaggeration! I’m not exaggerating though when I say that we saw a handful of naked men on a street corner – I’ll spare you that photo though!

From there, we scouted out our home for the night – a youth hostel on Union Square. This was Abe’s first stay in a hostel and it didn’t fail to deliver on the grimy, yet eccentric experience you expect from a hostel.

We had to go down a shady back alley, and up the walkup, but eventually we made it to our cozy four-man room that we would be sharing with a French couple.

Since it was no Four Seasons, we dropped our bags and grabbed a bite to eat.

Over dinner we decided it was time for Abe to experience another first: an authentic musical. The Scottsboro Boys, a Tony-nominated musical based on 1930’s racist America, was playing just down the street from our hostel. At only $15/ticket it was a steal!

The musical was fantastic. Even though it was a dark story line, recounting the wrongful convictions for several African American boys, it was done in such a way that it was actually very engaging and fun.

The next day we were supposed to head to Alcatraz, but we missed the memo that you have to buy your tickets days in advance for that! Bummer!

Cutting our losses, we decided to go for breakfast. One of the previous Hotdoggers had recommended an app for my phone called TVFoodMaps. The app maps out all the restaurants around your location that have been featured on TV food shows, like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Talk about the best app ever! At it’s suggestion, we decided to try Dottie’s True Blue Cafe.

We knew it would be good when there was a line out the door. Waiting to be seated, I had plenty of time to peruse their menu and scope out all the pastries they had on their counter. They’re known for blueberry cornmeal pancakes, but what caught my eye almost immediately was this enormous s’mores bar.

Abe and I ended up being seated next to another duo, all at the same table. I couldn’t resist this s’mores bar (even at 10 in the morning) and saw the perfect opportunity to make friends. I ordered one for the table, they heated it up, and we split it four ways. Talk about five-star sanctimonious! The girl said, “alright, I think it’s time to get each other’s names now,” and we officially met Holly and Josh.

Breakfast was an absolute delight. I had a spice pancake with pepper jelly. Abe had these black bean cakes that were also to-die-for! Holly let me try the Whisky Fennel Sausage Scramble that Dottie’s is known for, which was out of sight. I can definitely say the best part of traveling is making those unexpected friends.

After they rolled us out of breakfast, we crossed the Bay Bridge and went off to UC Berkeley. Abe and I wandered around campus for a bit before going to Sather Tower, their 307′ clock tower, the third largest bell-and-clock tower in the world! For only $2 we went up to hear the noon 61-bell carillon performance.

We also poked around their law school for a bit. With the current job only lasting a year, Abe is on the lookout for his next steps. I had the privilege of teaching a lecture at this high class establishment.

Our last stop in San Francisco was a very special one to me. My mom, whose blog about being an expat in Istanbul you can read here, is a librarian. I grew up with some simply fabulous books, one of which was “Fanny at Chez Panisse.” It’s the story of Chef Alice Waters’ daughter and her adventures at Chez Panisse, a fine dining French restaurant in the bay area.

Abe and I originally planned to have lunch at their cafe, but because we left breakfast at 11:30 and our lunch was planned for 12:30 we were just too stuffed with s’mores and had to cancel. I still went to check it out though and bought an autographed copy of the book! And with that as our final stop, we headed back down to Monterey.

We did head to Milpitas, CA one evening to have dinner at Abe’s friend’s house. Max, who Abe knows from their service together in Kuwait, Erich, and their parents put on an incredible meal for us – all with very unique and ethnic food, much of which I had never heard of much less tried!

We started with Jack Fruit, which was this sticky, tropical goodness.

For dinner we had chicken hearts and gizzards (yes, I tried them – yes, they were tasty!) and a goat curry. Their mom is from Seychelles, an African island, and a lot of the food was native to her culture. I also tried mussels for the first time. (How did I get this far in life without trying all these foods?!) Abe and I have really lucked out with these homemade dinners recently! We may be back after a meal like that.


The next few days we actually got some work done! After working, Abe and I went for a nice run along the trails in Ford Ord Dunes State Park. I ran there earlier in the week when it was cloudy and overcast. The second run there it was sunny and spectacular. This time I went the opposite direction of my first run (which had disappointedly ended up running along the streets) only to discover how how beautiful, yet hilly that side of the park is. It’s like there were sand dunes or something there!

Nothing beats a good seven mile run like a walk on the beach. Although that was almost a workout in itself!

That night we headed down to Cannery Row in Monterey at the suggestion of just about everyone, including my very trustworthy Grandma. We had dinner at a pretty good Mexican restaurant, which should have included “breath-taking views” on the menu. Abe and I look out our window overlooking the ocean only to see two seals!

Also on the agenda for that evening was going to a tattoo place so Abe could get a new tattoo. Anyone who knows me, knows I love going with people to get tattoos – especially if I’m the one who convinced them! Anyone who knows me also knows that I’ll claim to get a tattoo or piercing with them, but would never actually follow through!

(The one footnote there is the great Nose Piercing Incident of 2008, when my girlfriends made me go first! The nose piercing lasted a whopping three months, but I did it!)

2008 Throwback pic!

While I was waiting for Abe to get his tattoo set up, I perused options for myself. They had this wall with countless frames and I told Abe to give me the coordinates for a frame and I would get something tattooed from one of them. D-8 tattoos were all bleeding skulls and H-12 consisted entirely of bald eagles. Abe clearly wasn’t any good at picking coordinates, so I had to enlist the help of someone else to help me pick out my first tattoo – that’s how I met Cleveland Dave.

Dave was in the shop getting WANDERLUST tattooed on his legs. Once I heard that, I knew this guy was going to be awesome! He was doing WANDER on one and LUST on the other, and I warned him that he better not to lose a leg, because then he’d just end up a lustful one-legged guy! Putting up with my bad jokes, he was still down to try his hand at picking out coordinates. Unfortunately, I wasn’t up to get a magic 8 ball and that game ended pretty quickly! (I hope you’re happy Mom and Dad if you’re reading this!)

Abe and I ended up leaving that tattoo parlor both bare because they couldn’t do exactly what Abe was looking for. Oh well, I love going on adventures like that!

Then, our last day in Monterey turned out to be, by far, the best day on the job yet! It’s awesome that the last two Sundays have been our best days in each place. We’re certainly setting a pattern of ending on a high note.

Sunday started with an absolutely excruciating run along the ocean, but I’ll be dammed if I didn’t feel awesome after it! I think I was just exhausted when I started, but after running next to the coastline I couldn’t have been in a better mood. At one point during the run I heard some barking – turns out there were a pack of seals on the rocks down by the beach!I mean, how cool is that? My runner’s high at the end of the run was sky-high and that pretty much continued for the rest of the day.

So why was the rest of the day so incredible? Well, let’s start with our event – the Carmel Beach Dachshund Society Wiener Roast. Yep – wiener dogs, wieners, and the Wienermobile! We pulled up, a full 45 minutes before the event was actually going to start, to more than 50 little Doxies!

And just like that, I spent the entire day just playing with dogs! How could I have had more fun?

Assured this was probably the coolest thing happening in the area, I invited Cleveland Dave down for all the fun!

After the event Abe and I had plans for one more touristy thing we had not yet done in the region, the scenic 17 Mile Drive around Carmel and Monterey. Dave, relatively new to the area with the Army, hadn’t been so he came along too.

What an asset he was to the trip – he narrated the trip for us in fantastic British accent!

Disappointingly, I was not able to get a stamp for my park passport on this drive! For $9.75 you saw some gorgeous coastline, some incredible houses, and a lot of golf courses. For the more golf-savvy that course might have been a big deal, but for as an amateur put-putter it left little impression on me.

With our bucket list for the area complete, it was time for dinner! Abe opted for Mexican food back at the hotel, and so Dave showed me around to the best Thai place in Monterey! I have been craving Indian or Thai food for awhile, but since Abe knows the best mexican places everywhere we go I haven’t been able to indulge!

We headed down to a quieter downtown area of Monterey that wasn’t the tourist trap of Cannery Row. Not only was the area perfect, but the restaurant was also one of the best yet! At 7:00 on a Sunday you would expect any restaurant to be dead, but this place was packed, with a wait! Definitely worth it!

I had a pineapple coconut chicken curry and Dave went with basil pork. Normally one person always orders something that’s the standout winner, but both of these dishes were delicious!

The dinner was topped only by the conversation. With an undergrad and masters degree in history, I was already impressed. However, Dave is also studying Farsi at the military language institute in town! That’s not something you hear every day. He also backpacked through Europe by himself for six weeks after graduating school. You can see where the WANDERLUST tattoo stemmed from!

I think I need to get back to Monterey just to hear more about all these awesome adventures and get ideas for my own travel bucket list!

And that was it for Monterey! With an absolutely incredible last day, start to finish, I headed back to the hotel to pack for the next adventure: Los Angeles!

Where I Ran (and didn’t run) This Week

Well, it had to happen eventually, right? I missed my first run for this round of marathon training. Here was my mental dialogue for yesterday.

4:45 a.m. – “Let’s do it! I mapped this run out yesterday and it’s going to be a beautiful sunrise beachfront run!”

10 minutes later – “Gotta stop to get some fuel for the run. What – they don’t have my favorite power bar? How am I supposed to run under conditions like this?!”

5 minutes later, driving – “Dammit! I forgot my Garmin. Now I can’t track this run and I don’t have time to go back and get the watch! Oh sure, I’ve got a cell phone and could still time it and vaguely GPS it with Map My Run, but oh no – that’s just not good enough for me. If I don’t have Garmin data it’s like I didn’t even do it. Yep – can’t do it now, better turn back.”

5 more minutes later, driving home – “*#@^#&@!”

And just like that, even though I had compelled myself to get out of bed at 4:45 a.m. on my day off, I talked myself out of running. Do you ever do that and just instantly regret the decision?

The rest of the day we were busy and then we drove up to meet some of Abe’s friends for dinner. By the time we got back to the hotel it was already 11:00. I thought about running, but it wasn’t the best day and I really just bailed on it.

So here’s my question: You miss/skip a marathon training run. Do you just write if off your schedule? Do you do a double later on in the week? Do you skip your next rest day? How do you account for the lost miles?(It was only a 4 mile run, for context) I’m thinking of doing a day of two 4 miles – one set in the morning, one in the evening. Does that count?

That training flop aside, today I managed to get back out on the pavement. Someone I met recently on my travels introduced me to the idea of “asphalt surfing” where you’re driving and finally are able to clear your mind. For me, running is my version of asphalt surfing and is equally cathartic.

I know this is more of a running/travel blog, but I’m going to break from that for a bit to discuss something else that has been big in my life recently – weight loss maintenance. (Feel free to skip down four paragraphs until I’m back on the subject of running, but this being my blog and all I feel entitled to write about whatever I need to!)

Since losing weight, maintaining it has been a challenge. Losing is awesome – you’re constantly reaching new goals, being motivated my others, and receiving positive affirmation my friends, family, and even unknowing strangers.

Maintenance, on the other hand, is a whole different game – no encouragement (because – hello, shouldn’t you be able to handle this now?) and no reaching new goals. You no longer hear “You look so good,” and while it’s not because you DON’T look good necessarily, it’s simply not something people are going to say constantly. Regardless, you begin to doubt yourself and you’re afraid the next thing they’re going to say is, “you USED to look so good!”

For me, maintenance has been a constant stress of apprehension about what I can eat, what I can’t eat, and how to balance it all. Recently, being on the road, it’s become even more of a challenge. This is a year I want to look fabulous, but I’m in a situation with very limited control of where, what, and when I eat. Managing it all is no easy task. And even with the marathon training, I know I can’t eat an entire box of Cheerios. And yes, I actually did that yesterday – like I said, not a good day.

The next few weeks I’m really going to try to let myself live a little. Stay healthy, but not obsess. If I had just had a few slices of the (yes, I’ll say it) Little Caesar’s $5 carry out pizza I had been craving, I still would have consumed far less calories than in an entire box of Cheerios (who does that anyway?!) So that’s that. Running today really helped me to just step back and realign my thoughts again.

Has anyone else struggled from the transition of weight loss to weight maintenance? Any suggestions on dealing with it in a healthy and mindful way?

So where did I run that allowed me to clear my mind? The Monterey Peninsula coastline! You know those gorgeous scenic drives? They’re even better when you’re running them!

I found out about this specific run from the Monterey Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website. Having worked at a CVB myself, I know understand how awesome these are! The CVB had runs ranging from 3 miles – 9 miles! (Of course I went for the 9 mile one! Totally killed that last mile!)

I was in the company car and I thought I had gotten close to where the start of the run was when I saw two parking spaces available. When you’re trying to park a 27′ long hot dog, parallel parking is something you avoid at all costs! So I nabbed the spaces and hit the trail. I was definitely a little off in my estimation of where I was. First, here was the run I wanted to do and second, below, is the run I actually did.

Half of this run was supposed to be along the historic and scenic 17 mile drive from Monterey to Carmel. With my new and improved version of this route I went about 0.25 miles on 17 mile drive before hitting the halfway point and turning back. Oops!

Still, talk about gorgeous! For part of my run I was running on a sand path. Whoa – that was a challenge! I would consider that my first introduction to trail running – haha!

I finished looking absolutely glamorous. This is what a serious runner looks like.

Oh – are you wondering why I’m in running tights and a long sleeved shirt? Besides being dumb and wearing cotton (a mistake I make frequently, having not yet become a member of the Lululemon cult) the outfit was certainly called for. Monterey is FREEZING! Why didn’t anyone tell me how cold it is in this part of California?! Brr!

So that’s where I ran this week! I wanted to run across the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, but I’ll update you on that in my next Touristy Tuesday post! Farewell until then!

Touristy Tuesday: Lake Havasu, AZ Edition

We knew Lake Havasu, Arizona was going to be awesome before we even got to our hotel. I’m not kidding – before we checked in we had already made friends!

Abe and I had just crossed the London Bridge and were attempting to find The Nautical Beachfront Resort, to no avail. We pulled into a beach trying to turn around, but as it tends to happen with the company car, we were stopped by an enthusiastic crowd of paparazzi. I hopped out, partly to help with crowd control, partly to help us back out, and that’s when I met Ashish. After snapping a few pictures, he asked where we were headed and it turns out we were all staying at the same place – The Nautical.

Come to find out we actually have a lot more in common than what hotel we’re staying at. We followed him to the hotel and then shared introductions. It turns out that Ashish and his family are from the Chicagoland area! He lives in Naperville, IL (outside Chicago) and his family is from Freeport, IL. As a Rockfordian in my high school years, I am very familiar with the Freeport Pretzels!

Either out of excitement from seeing the company car (the likely reason) or from meeting another Northern Illinois Native, Ashish had extended an invitation to join his family on their pontoon boat before we even got our room keys!

In a rush to check in and get on the boat, Abe and I didn’t even have a chance to peek around the resort. Just some foreshadowing – we were not to be disappointed!

So off Abe and I went, on our first adventure of Lake Havasu. We joined Ashish, his wife, and her entire family on their pontoon boat. We crossed the lake (straddling the California and Arizona state lines) and headed up the channel. It was an absolutely gorgeous ride as we passed beautiful red rock cliffs.

After an hour and a half going up the river, we found a nice cove perfect for enjoying the water. The weather in Lake Havasu had been mild that first day, which still means triple digits. Up river it was warm, with a slight breeze, and ideal water temperatures. Neither Abe or I had our swim suits, but that didn’t stop us from wading out and taking it all in. The river was packed with the holiday crowds and people watching was just as much fun as the scenery!

When we went to head back to the resort we heard a sound no boat owner wants to hear – nothing. No revving of the engine, sound of the wake, or wind in the hair. The engine was dead. Were we worried? Hell no! More time on the channel! And the moms of the group were well prepared with snacks and beverages for us.

After the men of the group diagnosed the problem (it was in boat language, which I don’t speak, so I can’t translate for you) it was determined we would need a tow. One of the gentlemen caught a ride back to the resort in a speed boat to go pick up his own. While we waited for him to return I caught some Zzzz’s.

The way back we slowly but surely headed down the river. The Sea Tow (it’s like AAA for the lake!) stopped by and they decided to have it take the pontoon the rest of the way.

In the sake of efficiency, it was deemed a few souls would be voted off the pontoon and onto the speed boat – Abe and I, with all the eating out we’ve been doing, got the ax! Haha! It was great – we had the nice leisurely pontoon ride up and then flew back to the resort at 80 mph in the speedboat! I didn’t have sunglasses so I felt like Woody in Toy Story being propelled by a rocket! (90’s reference – I can’t help it, I’m a product of my generation.)

Wind-blown hair and slightly sunburned, we were back at The Nautical. Eager to get on the boat, we hadn’t had a chance to take it all in.

The biggest infinity pool in Arizona, our own beachview balconies, and a sandy white beach steps from our door – Abe and I were in heaven.

Of course with a start to a city like that you have to keep it going and we gave ourselves one hour to go from disheveled to dapper and dazzling. Challenge accepted and mission accomplished. (How many cliches can I use in one blog post? Should we start counting? Haha!)

Always trusting the locals (and a few tourists as well) we went to a dive bar downtown. Looking back, maybe not the nicest establishment, but we still had a blast. Half of the bar was made up by three types of people: enlisted Marines on liberty, UFC fighters taking a vacation before the Vegas fights that weekend, and people going to the Vegas fights. What I can say for the rest of the crowd is that you just never know who you might meet, especially this close to Hollywood…

The next day was the 4th of July. After a failed attempt at my weekly long run, and a TV interview on the local news, Abe and I were able to enjoy the holiday. I spent it grilling out, watching an absolutely gorgeous sunset over the Lake Havasu bluffs.

Nothing says the 4th of July like hot dogs and burgers, potato salad, and apple pie!

If I had planned ahead I would have loved to contributed one of my finer culinary works, the 4th of July fruit cake that I made in San Diego two years ago.

Having been on both a pontoon boat and a speed boat, we felt we needed to get one more outing on the lake the next day to call it complete. Naturally, we wanted to Jet Ski. Unfortunately, the banks of Abe and Kelly preferred to kayak.

We made it about 50′ out of the dock before we decided it was a little more physical than we were expecting, especially after that 4th of July feast! Our hour (which turned out to be closer to 35 minutes) on the water, was characterized by both of us just laying out, riding the waves back to the dock.

Even when your job seems like a vacation, eventually you have to get to work. This was the forecast for us. Yep, triple digits every day.

Between work and the lake, I also made sure to stick to my marathon training. I made it outside for two runs around the island during our time in Lake Havasu, for the four mile runs. For all my longer runs though I headed to Havasu Fitness downtown.

Excuse me while I sell out, but this place was AWESOME! Talk about the most friendly staff you could have at a gym. They were fantastic! I swear, I got in some of those workouts just because I liked seeing them. (I ended up getting in a total of 31 miles this week!) Friday night Abe took the company car to a BBQ we were invited to (I politely declined in order to finish 11 miles for the day) and the gym owner drove me back to The Nautical! What a doll she was!

On our last day in Havasu we ran into some friends we met earlier in the week. Like Abe and I, they drive a pretty attention-grabbing car.

Bonding over all the head-turning we create, Dale and Mindy invited us over for steak and lobster! I can honestly say I’ve never had the pleasure of Surf & Turf, and what a delight it was. Dale was an extraordinary chef and everything was delicious!

The meal was rivaled only by the company. Dale and Mindy easily one-up us for the coolest cars in the area.

From a 1929 Rio with wooden wheels to their Taxi, the two of them are known for taking awards like ‘Best in Show’ at car shows across the country.

Right now they’re in the running for the Sweetest Lemon to Grand Marshall a parade in Monterey, CA. Vote for them here!

It was our first night on the road where we got a slice of home. Hanging out with their son, dogs, and neighbors – it was the low key evening we were needing.

With that, we were back on the highway headed toward Monterey in the morning. The drive was long, but only because Abe and I stopped for just about every roadside gimmick and attraction available.

Vintage diners and berry picking? Yes and Yes!

Berry picking was fun, but we really only scored a bag full of blackberries. Easily my favorite (luxury, buy-only-when-on-sale) fruit, I was happy with our loot!

The trip ended on a high note. Last stop: In-and-Out Burger! Can’t go wrong there.

Up next: Monterey, Carmel Beach, and … a road trip to San Francisco?

Do you have any touristy tips for this coming week? I want to hear it all – where to eat, what to do, who to meet up with!