Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sedona - Pink Jeep Tour

Most of the two hour drive from the Grand Canyon to Sedona was uneventful. The last 1/2 got a bit more interesting once we left the highway for Rt 89A. This road that goes through the Coconino National Forest is filled with hairpin turns, quick evelvation changes, views of mountain streams, and massive potholes. We hit two of them and were certain our tires would be shredded.

Downtown Sedona looked cute with all its shops, galleries, and restaurants. It helped having the red rocks in the background. Town was full of free parking areas, and luckily we got there before we had to hunt for spaces. For four of us our only activity in town would be the Pink Jeep 4x4 tour. We chose the Broken Arrow Tour which is described as "The Broken Arrow Tour takes you up and down for a thrilling off-road 4×4 adventure across Sedona’s outback. See Sedona’s famous red rock formations like Submarine Rock, Chicken Point, Mushroom Rock, Bell Rock, The 747, Chapel Butte and Rock of Gibraltar while you bounce and shake across a rugged trail. You want more adventure? How about a heart-pounding descent down The Road of No Return? This tour is high energy with high levels of fun." These folks have been in business since 1960 and they had the system in-place to process many tourists.

Scott was our driver and he was a lot of fun. Scott was within our age-range and shared many life stories, including the tale of evacuating his young family from the Mt. St. Helen's eruption. We shared our vehicle with a man from Milwaukee and his young son who tolerated our group of six well enough. As we traversed the trail Scott would stop along the way to talk about various plants and cacti and their uses in indigenous cultures. The big reward of the trip is the stop at Chicken's Point. The gorgeous red rock area was enhanced by the clear blue sky we had that day (a first for this trip). Our scheduled ten minute stop turned into twenty. The rest of the tour we stayed in the jeep as we traversed some rough terrain and took in some of our final views of the trip. We had a lot of fun.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chillin' in The Grand Canyon

We were lucky enough to have the nasty rain stop for the first portion of our drive from Apache Junction to the Grand Canyon. The trip would be a little over four hours long. Our luck didn't last for too long. Halfway into the drive we encountered rain and then snow. We arrived just as the last bit of any light was still available. Seeing the Canyon would have to wait until the next day.

We stayed at El Tovar, a historic hotel built on the edge of the south rim of the canyon. The hotel had no elevator and rooms were really small, but it's understandable for a lodge built in 1905. The lodge's small lounge was the perfect place for us to decompress from a lot of driving and running a marathon for two of us.

The six of us met up at 6:30am the next morning for a sunrise view. The temperature was around 25-30 degrees. It didn't feel so bad at first but it sure hit us after ten minutes. Dave remembered that he had hand warmers in his jacket pocket as we came back into the building. There was a bit of an overcast this morning so the sunrise was not spectacular, but it was still enjoyable watching the light change the colors in the canyon.

After a fantastic breakfast at El Tovar's main restaurant we headed out for the day. Leaving Grand Canyon Village we made our way to the visitor center. After watching a movie and presentation we talked to the rangers to formulate a plan. We opted not to go on a hike into the canyon because the trail was very muddy from the rain and snow the day before. Instead, we drove to the various lookout points along the south rim as far as Desert View. This occupied our day until we lost our tourist steam around 4:00. Fortunately the sun came out for part of the day.

After some much-needed snacks and drinks we headed out for sunset. More clouds so not the best viewing but we found a nice place to watch away from other folks. After sunset we had a great meal at El Tovar's restaurant. The food at El Tovar is really very good. After a long day we turned in early because we had another sunrise in our future.

For today's sunrise we headed over to the point by the visitor's center, along with everyone else. The clouds were still around but we did get a few minutes of sun bursting pink through the clouds.

We create a quick video of our first sunrise and sunset:

Once the glory of the moment was over we got into our cars and drove to McDonald's for to-go breakfasts. Our next activity was in 3 hrs - a jeep tour of Sedona, which was two hours away.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charity of the Month: water.org

Charity of the Month is a way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

February: In February we supported COPD Foundation with a $125 donation in memory of Holly's first manager. You can learn more and donate through their website.

March Charity of the Month:

water.org Buy a Lady a Drink Program

A few days ago we were watching the Oscars broadcast and the preliminary red carpet events. A couple times an ad comes on with Matt Damon talking about the global need for clean water. He states that in many places around the world women travel miles to gather water for their families and communities. We've witnessed this first-hand in some of our travels and it does put in perspective that we take our faucets for granted. Matt offers a way for us to help: Purchase a limited edition Stella Artois chalice and In-Bev (brewer of Stella Artois) will donate 5 years of clean water. Here's the ad:

The Stella Artois website further reinforces the message with more videos and images of the chalices. They are packaged in beautiful boxes and come in 3 designs: Brazil, Cambodia, Uganda.

From their site: Stella Artois has helped provide more than 800,000 people in the developing world with access to five years of clean water through the sale of more than 225,000 Limited-Edition Chalices and by directly donating more than $3 million to water.org. But we’ve only just begun.

We really liked this promotion. The glasses are very nice and a small donation goes a long way in helping others. The absolute last thing we need are more beer glasses. We donated a bunch of Stella Artois chalices a few years ago. But we figured out another way to participate. We will give some of our readers (heck probably all our readers) a chalice. Here's how it works:

  • Comment on this post directly, or on our Team Tizzel Facebook page under this Charity of the Month post with The words "water.org" and the country's glass you are interested in.
  • We will purchase and ship the glass to you if in a few days. If we need your address we'll find a way to get it from you.
  • Chalices ship via Amazon and with our Prime membership they will arrive quickly.

The rules:

  • First ten people that place a comment get the glasses. We buying 10 total.
  • One per household
  • We will only ship in the U.S.
  • If the country's chalice is not available at time of order we will pick one of the alternatives.
  • If chalices are no longer available we will make an equivalent cash donation and send you a picture of Tizzel electronically in its place.
  • If apathy or low readership don't generate ten purchases we will donate the equivalent of the remaining chalice balance directly to water.org.

We are hoping you will participate in this fundraiser and have us send you a glass? Maybe it will inspire you to complete the set on your own? This is a really creative promotion from water.org/Stella Artois and we enjoy the fact that we have the opportunity to give 50 years of clean water to people in need.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Killing Time in Rainy Phoenix

Holly signed up for The Lost Dutchman Marathon months before the event was to take place. We were excited to have an opportunity to leave the usual frigid conditions of Northern Illinois for the sun and warmth of the southwest. As luck would have it, we left record highs in Chicagoland for unseasonal rain and cooler temps in Phoenix.

We landed on a Friday night and headed toward Tempe. Our first stop was a brewery! Huss was only two miles from the hotel in a fairly new looking industrial park. To get there we took local roads and we were really surprised how the nice suburban area our hotel was in quickly turned into a questionable area. We took the highway back. Huss was great! 20 beers on tap with a bright and cheery tap room. The taps were balanced between dark beers and light with all ranges of IBU.

We woke up the next morning to full-on rain. We met our friends Stan and Pam for breakfast and had a conversation over what to do for the day. After too many Google searches of "things to do in Phoenix" and Holiday Inn Express coffees we decided just to drive to downtown Phoenix and figure it out. Our waypoint was Heritage Square: the oldest part of the city. On the way there we drove by Chase Field - where the Diamondbacks Baseball team plays. We went in so Stan could visit the gift shop and found out a tour of the park would start soon. We decided this would be a good way to occupy ourselves. For $7 each we spent 75 minutes touring the park including the club suites, press room, visitor's locker and, and the home team dugout.

For lunch we headed to Tempe's Four Peaks Brewery. What seemed like an off-the-path location was actually the neighborhood's most popular dining location. The very large former creamery was packed with tables and patrons. We enjoyed our lunches and the beers (you can get them at the airport from their pub in the terminal).

Picture found on the internet

We had to head to Apache Junction to pick up Holly's bib. Afterwards we met up with friends Michael, Lee, and Laura at 12 West Brewing in Gilbert. 12 West was in a semi-circle shaped aluminum roofed building - like something you'd see on Gomer Pyle. The space was also home to a pizza place, test kitchen, beauty shop, wood carver, and paper store. The beer was very good and the pizzas next door looked great.

The next day was the marathon. What a nasty weather day. We'll save those details for Holly's report. As part of the race experience runners could pay a few dollars to have showers in the Lost Dutchman State Park. While the runners were cleaning up Dave got a few minutes of full blue sky with desert scenery.

Once our runners were ready we started our 4+ hour journey north to The Grand Canyon.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017 Charleston Marathon Race Report and Video

Dave took care of the pre and post race fun of the Charleston weekend so now on to the race report.

The runners: Michael, Stan, Alex, Julie, Jessica and myself decided we would drive to the start location while our race chasers: Dave, Pam, Mike and Jan would drive right to their first cheer spot. This worked out well as the start area was a bit chaotic and I think it would have taken them a while to get out of there. Weather appeared to be pretty good, sunny but not very cool so that had us a bit concerned. The girls waited in the longest line for the bathroom ever while the guys “patiently” waited. We finally made our way to the start and only had a few minutes to wait before the National Anthem played and we were off and running.

We planned to take it easy and just have some fun today. The course in the beginning was great. We ran along the water, Battery Park and then ran ALL the way along King St. The race did a great job of having cheer stations throughout the course. Unfortunately after we left the downtown area of King St. (Around mile 5 or 6) the course stopped being scenic. In fact it got pretty boring. I think we rank by every industrial park and by every house in North Charleston via a series of left and right turns and out and backs. They never ended!

We still had a good time and made the best of it. We were all doing pretty well, but it was getting quite warm! We were all feeling it and we slowed down the pace to compensate. We did see an alligator on the course, well off the course thankfully but that was neat to see. Our race chasers did a superb job of tracking us down and kept us fueled with snacks, drinks and even a special “energy” drink toward the end.

We did have one more scenic section before Mile 25 but overall the course was really boring and all the turns were awful. I also did not feel well towards the end. Too much water and my electrolytes were all out of whack. Thanks to my friends for sticking with me and getting me to the finish line. I felt fine as soon as I had some salty chips at the end. I wasn’t used to running in the heat since it’s still so cold here at home.

The finish area was a nice party atmosphere with beer and shrimp and grits. It would be a fun place to hang out after the race and celebrate. We were all ready to go back to the hotel and get showers and go have some big burgers! While I enjoyed Charleston and I had fun running with friends, I wouldn’t rush back to run this one again. Good organization and the medal was cute, but the course leaves a lot to be desired.

Dave's Comments

The course was stupid. It wrapped around itself about 900 times and there were many traffic choke-points. We hit all of our spectating goals up through mile 9. Miles 10-14 were down a peninsula that seemed to only have two entry points: one was a total traffic choke and another about a mile north by the shipyard. Google maps satitle view confirmed streets and parking lots to cut through. We headed north and found those roads and lots were now a big field of grass. #thanksgoogle. The four of us had a 6 mile (one hour) break. There wasn't much in the area but we did have porta-potties to use near the free clinic. Chasing from that point on was fine except for the fact that our runners split into two groups which messed with the timing of making certain planned stops. We almost didn't see our runners finish because a freight train was stopped on the tracks blocking the finish area. We made it with about 5 minutes to spare.