Here’s a recap of one of the best weeks, ever: Spring Break 2017!

••• Day One •••

On Saturday, March 4th, Jenna, Abi & I headed to Sioux Falls, SD to board our flight, bound for the Phoenix-Mesa Airport. I’m sporting my new pineapple tee and my wedges, ready for a week of sunshine. We’ve packed and counted down the days the past week. We arrive and our bag is overweight… We shuffle items amongst the carry on and our backpacks. We make it work, we get through security, and we walk onto the plane to begin our weeklong vacation.

As we make our way to our assigned seats on the plane, my nerves hit me as I will be sitting among strangers… see, it costs more to sit together, and we were frugal as heck with this trip… I end up next to the window, to look down at the beautiful lights of the largest South Dakota city, and am seated beside a lovely college-aged couple. The girl and I talk about our various spring break plans, joke about how she forgot to leave her winter coat in her car, and bond over our love of Candy Crush – Jelly Saga. As the plane takes off, I watch as her boyfriend reaches his hand over and slides it into hers and squeeze gently. I sigh at this simple, happy, love-filled gesture.

We arrive and are greeted by warm air in the open structure of the Phx-Mesa airport as well as our host and hostess. With tears in her eyes, ‘Auntie Joy,’ Abi’s aunt, smiles with gratitude that her neice has joined them for a visit. She hugs each of us, as does her husband, Dan. We are excited to get to know them better.

We return to the house, eat, and go to bed. We fall asleep with smiles on our faceswe  and excitement for what is to come.

••• Day Two •••

It was our original plan to see the Grand Canyon on our first day in Arizona, but unfortunately we brought the cooler temps with us from SD. We were very worried that eight hours in the car for four miserable, cold hours at the ‘Canyon wouldn’t be worth it. I was a little bummed, but still excited to see what the day had in store.

Instead, we traveled North just two hours and visited the lovely artisan city of Sedona, surrounded by beautiful, multi-colored sedimentary rock formations. The gorgeous reds, oranges, and light purples of the mountains are sure different from the Black Hills that we call home. We stopped roadside and took photos before traveling to their quaint downtown shops.

After stopping at numerous shops, we settled on a Mexican cafe called ’89Agave’. With a vegan (Jenna) and someone who has a plethora of intolerances (Abi), it is sometimes difficult to find a restaurant that can accommodate us all. However, this lovely restaurant was more than willing to take off the sour cream and cheese for Jenna, and to check if they had any unseasoned fish for Abi. They did both, and we all enjoyed a meal that we could eat!

After lunch, we looked a few other places and then returned ‘home’ to Chandler, AZ. Joy and Dan made their home so welcoming to us. They had stocked their pantry and their hearts to welcome us. We had chicken breasts and fruits, and then headed out to the Jacuzzi! At a lovely 104 degrees, the jacuzzi was absolutely blissful before we headed to bed.

••• Day Three •••

This morning, I woke up and threw on a tank top to head out to the dewy grass to do some lovely sunrise yoga. I was feeling refreshed and blissful. We then got ready and headed to the nail salon to begin our lovely girls’ day. Joy, Abi, and Jenna opted for pedicures and I indulged by getting myself some new acrylics. In the process of trying to pay, however, I realized that I did not have my debit card. I hoped it would be back at the house, and tried to keep my spirits up as we headed to Whole Foods.

Keep in mind that Abi and Jenna have food needs… so Whole Foods was paradise for them. Seeing Jenna’s eyes light up at the “Go Vegan!” sign and the entire Vegan section of options just for lunch was so worth it. Abi and Jenna, future Dieticians, had a hayday in Whole Foods. It was kind of adorable.

We then returned to the house… where I discovered that I left my debit card back in my coat pocket, in Jenna’s Car, in Sioux Falls. Whelp.

We then headed to San Tan Village in Gillbert, AZ for some retail therapy 🙂 We hit up Charming Charlie, Francesca’s, and H&M… safe to say, money was spent. (Thanks for covering my bills for the week, Abi!)

A quiet night at home, some light reading before bed, and lights out.

••• Day Four •••

We knew one thing we wanted to do when we decided to head to Arizona was to go Hiking. We took this up on Tuesday and headed to the Hieroglyphics Trail in the Superstition Mountains near Gold Canyon, AZ. It was a three mile hike up the the oasis, where their was a waterfall and rocks decorated with hieroglyphics from people long ago. The view was GORGEOUS. I hope I never forget that view. I love the cacti, the mountains, the wide expanse… there’s nothing like it.

After hiking back down, we headed home and laid beside the pool… meanwhile, carefully nursing our sunburns we gained during our hike! Later, we had supper and game night with Dan & Joy. We played Code Names, which was really fun! We also watched the Jacks win on TV 🙂

••• Day Five •••

On Wednesday, we headed out in the morning to visit the ASU campus in Tempe. If dreams came true, Abi would have gone here to school and we wouldn’t have been on this spring break trip! Jenna and I are so glad she chose SDSU and I am so glad she became my roommate, though! We visit one of their bookstore/shops and got our very own ASU gear! Fork ’em, Sun Devils! We also visited their stadium.

We then hopped in the car and continued our loop into Old Towne (Downtown) Scottsdale, to visit the “LOVE” sign/statue. We took lots of photos and then hopped back in the car to head to Phoenix! We stopped at Dan’s office and visited with him on his lunch break.

For our lunch, we headed to a place that Jenna had seen on one of her favorite vegan foodie blogs, called ‘nami’. It’s a vegan sweets shop! We all enjoyed vegan ice cream and desserts for lunch! It was so fun for me to see Abi and Jenna enjoying sweets that they could actually eat… and it was really yummy! I never would have guessed it wasn’t “real” ice cream.

We then continued our loop, and I napped along the way. When I woke, we had arrived at the nearby park where Chandler’s annual festival would be held. Not any ordinary festival, though… Chandler has its very own OSTRICH festival. Due to the ostrich farms that are near Chandler, they celebrate these huge birds every year in March. Since the Ostrich farms near Chandler do not have domesticated ostriches, a man from Kansas brought his ostriches, camels, and zebras to the festival. We got to meet him and talk to him for quite a while about his life owning such exotic animals. He told us about his exotic B&B in Kansas… he even has giraffes there!! (Which is so on my bucket list, now!) We took lots of fun photos of these animals, too.

Again, we headed back and hit the pool with our books in hand. I finished two books throughout the week.

Wednesday evening, Dan, Joy, Abi’s grandma, Abi, Jenna, and I went out for dinner to Joe’s Farm Grille, which has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! It’s a lovely farm-to-table restaurant and we all enjoyed our food! Afterwards, we stopped and viewed ‘Top Golf,’ which is a tourist attraction throughout the US, but especially popular for the golf lovers in AZ. While we didn’t golf, we really enjoyed looking around!

Then… off to bed. 🙂

••• Day Six •••

We didn’t have much planned for today.. so we went shopping again! We hit up Forever21, Charlotte Ruuse, and AE and scored some major deals. We stopped by some tourist shops in downtown Chandler on the way back, and Abi grabbed some much-desired sushi! Then… I got my much-desired very first In-N-Out Burger! It was absolutely delicious.

We then headed back and relaxed by the pool alllllll afternoon. It was an absolutely lovely way to spend our last afternoon in sunny Arizona.

That night, we played Word On The Street and then gave Joy & Dan their gifts from us: SDSU t-shirts! We were and still are so continually thankful for all they did for us and gave to us during our time at their home. They are truly some of the kindest people I’ve ever met!

••• Day Seven •••

The (dreaded) last day in Arizona.

We spent our morning in the jacuzzi, then had some much needed girl talk with Auntie Joy. We all feel comfortable calling her that, now. She shared some words with us that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. She said, “If I teach you nothing else while you’re here, remember that Hope Happens.”

As I look back on this amazing trip, I can see all the small moments of hope. A couple on a plane, a kind waiter, a fun board game, vegan ice cream, sunshine.. and so much more.

We ate lunch at the Pita Jungle, hit up Whole Foods for some comfort dessert, and then headed to the airport to head for home.

••• Conclusion •••

My favorite quote of all time is by Miriam Adney:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” 

This is so true for our time spent in Arizona. I left a piece of my heart in Dan & Joy’s home, I left a piece atop the Hieroglyphics Trail, maybe even a piece at the outdoor shopping mall… I feel so blessed to have taken this trip with two of my best friends by my side and the big man upstairs looking out for us and showing us that Hope Happens along the way.

This trip, #GirlsGoneMildAZ, was one for the books. A trip to remember. Memories to cherish.

Hope Happens.

I sure hope that you happen to have an amazing spring break like this some time in your life.



2 thoughts on “#GirlsGoneMildAZ

  1. What an incredible writer you are! You took a part of our hearts back home with you all too! It was our sincere pleasure to have you in our home for the week and we hope you come back again anytime you want! Blessings and love! Auntie Joy


  2. Great job Alex! I ended my reading with tears in my eyes. I am realizing how grownup you girls are and I am proud, thankful, and blessed to have you be the BEST friends my daughter has ever had. Love you MORE!


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