my western nest.

trail tuesday: holiday travels recap

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Jon and I are blessed to have family in all areas of the country.  While sometimes it’s hard to have the people the we love be so far away, the silver-lining is we have the opportunity to visit areas of the country that are both familiar and new to us.

Although somewhat overdue, I thought I would spend this post recapping some of the awesome experiences that we shared with our families over the holidays.  Also, I want to highlight some of the amazing trails that I was fortunate enough to run/hike during our 10 day sabbatical.


We began our holiday travels in Michigan visiting my family.  We were fortunate to celebrate Christmas a few days late, as well as New Years Eve. Some highlights of our trip included visiting with extended family, lots of really good food, seeing friends I haven’t seen in years, registering for baby gear, and of course, visiting our old stomping grounds in Ann Arbor for a very important announcement…that also happened to correspond with a basketball game.

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  • The Paint Creek Trail

My favorite place to run in Michigan is the Paint Creek Trail.  This trail winds through downtown Rochester. Runs along this trail go by quickly as you seem to seamlessly transition from woodlands to downtown, and then back to the woods.  I enjoyed a warm 5 mile jog and a chilly 4 mile run while visiting, and I was glad to be able to get some time on this trail.

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After 5 days in Michigan, Jon and I continued on to Arizona.  Jon’s sister and her husband live in Arizona, and we met Jon’s entire family and some extended friends for the remaining 5 days of our trip.  In all, there were 10 of us…a pretty large, and fun, group.  Some highlights (beyond the trails we visited) included an intense euchre tournament, a day of shopping in downtown Scottsdale, and an evening of golf and good food at Top Golf.

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  • The Grand Canyon

Not expecting snow, Jon and I packed a little light for this part of our trip.  However, we arrived at the Grand Canyon around noon to find it covered in snow.  After a tailgate-style lunch, a group of 5 of us took off on a snow-covered, easy 2 mile hike into the Canyon.  The views were positively breathtaking, and the fresh snow added to the quiet as we descended into the Canyon.  I’ve never experiencing anything so massive and spectacular.  These pictures truly don’t do it justice, it’s really something you have to experience in person.

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  • Saguaro National Park

During our second full day in Arizona, all 10 of us embarked on a moonlit hike through Saguaro National Park.  Right around 3 miles of walking, this trail wove through the dessert and exposed me to a view of the country that I’ve only seen in movies.  We followed our shadows back on a winding road lit only by moonlight; the whole experience was breathtaking.

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  • Pinnacle Peak

During our third day in Arizona, a small group of us decided to take a short trail run/hike at Pinnacle Peak.  Along with Jon and his brother, I decided to run the 3.5 miles.  Because I was 23 weeks pregnant, I ran it my own pace.  The views were amazing, but I am not used to the elevation gain (over 1,000 feet) of this trail.

The run began with more downhill than uphill, which made me nervous because I knew what was coming on the way back.  “What’s goes up, must come down,” was playing on repeat in my head as I chugged along.  Finishing this run with a 13:48 average, I was pleased.  Trails runs are always slower.  I was only pricked by one cactus, I had not fallen or even stumbled, and I got a little color on my sun-starved skin.

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My trail Tuesday recap of our vacation is something I feel so fortunate to be able to do.  I can’t believe all the we experienced in 10 short days. I am so grateful that I am healthy during this pregnancy so that I could experience it all.  I keep looking back at our photos, and though it makes me a little tired…I’d do it all over again if I could!

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