Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phoenix, Son!!

Searching for Arnold's dignity
Okay, so I’m back. I say that in a way that I hope doesn’t come off sounding like the ex-Governator. How bad have his last few months been? Brutal. And why is it that all the 80s movie stars are a-holes like that old Denis Leary song. Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen – these dudes all have serious issues. Fortunately, Stallone’s holding it down. His biggest blunder is that ill-fated foray into magazine publishing (“Sly Magazine” anyone?). I’m purposely omitting 2007 when he was caught with ‘roids in Australia because it doesn’t help my argument.

That's me!!!
As it were, the unemployed life has been busier than Scottie Pippen’s Twitter account. As anyone who’s been unemployed knows, looking for a job is a full-time job. That being said, my travels have gone on and then-some. Here’s what’s been cracking.
A few days after returning from Brazil, I headed out to Phoenix to meet with some friends and a TV station. I only spent a couple days in town, and as it were, most of that time was spent at said local TV station. However, I did find enough time to discover how outdoor-friendly a city Phoenix is. Known mainly for cacti, border issues, and a Charles Barkley team that lost to MJ in ’93, the 5th most populated city in the country has a multitude of hiking trails and canyons ripe for exploration.
There are nearly 200 trails in the greater Phoenix metro area. After my friends questioned my fitness level, I informed them I wanted to hike one of the more challenging. They suggested Echo Canyon Park at Camelback Mountain. It's actually a spot where the late Pat Tillman used to frequent.

I didn't realize there was an escalator on the other side. D'oh!

For some reason, I always felt like hiking isn’t real exercise. It’s not strenuous like boot camp or basketball. It’s just walking. Sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill, but either way – it’s just walking outdoors. That disrespectful notion would serve me like the Bachelorette. (No, I don’t watch, but this Bentley dude’s exploits are even on sports talk radio). After waiting for what seemed like hours for a parking space (190+ trails in Phoenix and everyone’s gotta go to the same place?), I grabbed my iPod and filled my backpack with a bottled water and jacket – just in case I got marooned. (Outside Adam Levine, “maroon” is a completely underused word.) 
The trail gets quite steep at time and requires the assistance of a hand rail. Instead of clear dirt paths, most of these trails consisted of large rocks. I don’t know how long the uphill climb was but it seemed to take forever. I even debated the merits of turning around several times but ultimately decided if I’d gone this far – I might as well go to the summit. Plus, Eminem kept rapping "won't back down" in my ear and I didn't want to disappoint Marshall.

Did you know cacti are like blueberry scratch-n-sniff stickers?

It was certainly worth it. The summit provides a fantastic 360-degree view of the city accompanied with a nice feeling of satisfaction. By no means is hiking Camelback the same as scaling Devil’s Tower, but it’s a solid workout that should leave you fatigued. My legs were toast.
8 minutes after this photo - the sun melted the city
That night I contemplated going skydiving the next day in Sedona, a gorgeous red rock canyon area about an hour-and-half out of Phoenix. It would’ve been right along my live-for-now mentality, but the TV station I was meeting with wanted me back for a formal interview the same time. It was the responsible thing to do during this period of irresponsibility. As it were, I didn’t end up working at the station and wonder knowing what I know now – whether or not I would make the same call. I would. But it sure would be nice to say I’ve been skydiving…
I swear it looks easier than it is
Notable Phoenix eats: Pane Bianco (hipster lunch spot, delicious fresh sandwiches), True Food (all organic – it’s a chain), Brick (pizza/pasta brewery – excellent hand-made pasta).

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