Is it necessary to know our roots for a sense of belonging? We're here already, whatever our ancestral origins are, life goes on and we're part of it! Of course, I'm proud to be British born and bred, and despite living in America and loving it here, I feel my roots lie in the mother land of England. If any other heritage exists besides my obvious British genes, then hopefully the addition of some good old "Heinz 57" variety has benefited me in some way.
It seems being married brings on additional symptoms of midlife, in that husbands become less adventurous. Wives on the other hand tend to kick things up a notch during their midlife, am I right?
As was the case this particular Sunday for us three girl friends. A spur of the moment idea, a day trip to Flagstaff for a hike, a brewery tour and a visit to Camp Verde. Granted, my first reaction was "What time are you setting off?", and my second reaction, irrespective of the early start time, a resounding "Yes!"
My husband didn't want to get up early and had a ton of work to do, another wanted to stay home and watch the baseball and the third wanted to take his new car for a spin... yawn! Midlife man symptoms, this is why you need girl friends ladies!
From Scottsdale, Flagstaff is just a two-hour drive along a mostly scenic route across the desert. Climbing in altitude along the way it starts out with the cactus-loving rugged terrain of the low desert and eases up into the lush green conifers and evergreen foliage, of which the ponderosa pines are among the most common. There is also a drop of 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's a great place to escape the summer heat of the Phoenix valley!
In Flagstaff we met Austin, our friend's son who was to be our guide. A young man still far from the symptoms that our midlife husbands display, so he was up for the adventure along with his adorable girlfriend and Luna the dog. I mentioned none of these midlife concerns to his sweetheart, besides, the fact that we three showed up husband-less may have been a red flag!
We hiked the Lockett Meadow on the Inner Basin Trail, about 12 miles north of Flagstaff on US 89. Warning, it's at 8000 ft elevation and the single carriage dirt road up to the trail head is long and winding with no barrier guard. I didn't fare well, intermittent screaming, lots of hyper ventilating made worse by the thin air, and almost on my friends lap much of the way. Nothing like a day out full of exhilarating excitement!
The hike was totally worth the aggravation of getting there. The aspen trees, which I had never seen before, grow abundantly along this trail and in October their leaves turn yellow and it will be a sight to behold.
The hike is steep but not rugged, so if you have good lungs and are reasonably fit, it's not too difficult. Scottsdale and the Phoenix valley is at about 1000 ft above sea level, and this hike starts out at about 8000 ft... just saying!
Next stop, a trip to the Historic Brewing Company in Flagstaff. Some of our other tennis friends were in Flagstaff that day, so we were able to coordinate a beer fest! A first for me, since I didn't drink beer but was easily persuaded after the adventures of the day thus far.
The brewery is in an industrial area on the outskirts of Flagstaff. Our hiking guide happens to work there, so we were rewarded with a tour and a peek into the art of beer making. I think he does this often, if you happen to stop by, tell him I sent you, it'll make up for the earlier screaming in his ear!
Even though this is where they make the beer, they have a bar set up among the fermenting equipment and have 15 of their regular, seasonal and limited release beers on tap as well as a taco themed food truck open Wednesday through Sunday. You can sample any of the beers before you order and it's $5 a pint.
Onward to Camp Verde, about an hour from Flagstaff and an hour from Scottsdale, located in central Arizona, sitting on the bank of the Verde River. This place is lush, green and peaceful, picket fences and horses give it an English country vibe. Camp Verde is the gateway to the Verde Valley wine region with vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms spread across the area, now we're in Karen land! It's also the home of the 104-acre Out of Africa wildlife park.
It was a short visit to say hello to friends. The locusts were busy in the trees singing their sunset songs whilst the neighbor's horses chomped on their supper. The mosquitoes munched at my dusty tired legs and I drank another beer and didn't care. It had been a grand day out!
The recent frenzy toward the smartwatch in the western world has reached epidemic proportions. Most adults don about their wrist a watch with a blacked-out face or a rubber tube with seemingly no face. We're walking around as though in a science fiction movie under surveillance by this tracking and communication device. The problem is, the average smartwatch is anything but smart! It lacks style and is far from down to earth, looking somewhat sinister by it's dark secrecy and monitoring of our every waking and sleeping moment!
Never fear, there is a hybrid here! Say hello to the Misfit Path, a smartwatch with more style than a rubber wrist tube can only dream about.
Every now and then I have a moment of madness! One of these days that moment may be considered pure genius, but for now they've mostly been considered worthy dinner party stories! My last moment of madness was just that, with a bonus... a return letter from Kensington Palace!
Using tennis as an excuse for a girl's trip to Las Vegas is a sobering thought. What could possibly go wrong? But it's as good an excuse as any given that these six ladies in their midlife have friendship in common because of tennis.
The trip had been in the pipeline for months until one evening at the bar during a happy hour gathering, and far from sober, dates were secured, and flights were booked right there on cell phones. A mere $45 each way from Phoenix to Las Vegas... cheers to Southwest Airlines!
As Valentine's Day approaches romance is in the air and spring tickles our senses with the melting of snow, peep shows of sunlight and flowering buds
Only recently did bike-sharing make its debut in Scottsdale AZ, although the program has been active in Phoenix (on a much smaller scale) and elsewhere within the US for several years.
They appeared like magic out of nowhere. Abracadabra... suddenly there were lime green and bright yellow bicycles left randomly on street corners, at bus stops or lined up in neat rows like soldiers.
Bicycles were multiplying across the city faster than you could say "on your bike mate"! We are being invaded by aliens disguised as neon colored bicycles!
In case you're unfamiliar with the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions, they are the car lover's dream and for those who can afford to bid, and win - perhaps a dream come true!
With high street shops and mall store favorites closing down on a weekly basis, we better get our heads around this online shopping malarkey. It's here to stay and millions of online vendors selling everything from cat litter to cat walk designer clothes are magically opening their virtual doors for business out there in the ether of internet land. So too are the plethora of "influencers" jumping on the band wagon from here to Timbuktu persuading their followers that this, that or the other product is the best. But it's not all bad... let me explain!
Ready for Christmas, I wish! It's a rare occurrence for me to be fully prepared for Christmas in advance of the actual due date, in particular the buying of gifts. Even less likely to be gift ready for those I know who celebrate Hanukkah since the due date for that is even earlier! You probably think I have a fear of deadlines... perhaps so!
At least I have the decorations up! Last year the hubby didn't erect the tree until it was so late I didn't have time to hang the baubles on it! We had a naked tree all through the holidays with the only consolation being that it's pre-lit so it sort of had it's underwear on!
Keeping up with the fast pace of fashion on a modest budget is a challenge to say the least. Just when you think you're covered with an outfit for every occasion, at the sight of an invitation to something you suddenly find yourself with nothing to wear! Have you ever pondered your closet and wondered if you hadn't bought so many clothes you could have purchased the Louis Vuitton purse or the Gucci shoes, probably yes! Well you still can, at a fraction of the cost. With a few extra pennies from heaven to help keep your closet current, consignment may keep the fashionista in you afloat!
Beside the obvious things like cleaning the house from top to bottom, the patio furniture, manicuring the garden, there are a host of other things you can do to make your guests feel loved and welcome. I moved to Arizona from England in 1999, so I've had more than my fair share of guests come off an eleven hour flight to visit me and inevitably stay at least two weeks to make the long journey worth their while! The truth is I love it, so I do everything I can to make them a return visitor - having a background in the hotel industry helps!
The Guest Bed
On a recent business trip to Houston staying two nights and two days, I was advised to take carry on luggage and dress comfortably as the days would be long and action packed. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect so I wanted to cover all my options and ensure I would feel confident and comfortable. Somewhat nervous that I wouldn't fit everything I might need in a carry on suitcase, I knew I had to be strategic in this effort. I'm happy to say I pulled it off with room to spare and an outfit for every occasion. Here are my tips on how to pack your carry on luggage to get the most into it, and ultimately the most out of it at your destination!
If you live around Scottsdale or have passed through recently, you may have noticed the giant white tents standing alongside Loop 101 and Hayden Road. For ten weeks at the beginning of every year as many as 100 of the finest artists from across the country gather in this enormous arena to display their work. Many of the artists create new work whilst visitors, art lovers and art collectors meander the studios taking in spectacular art in various forms from paintings to sculptures, and can chat with the artists and see how their work is created.
There is always somewhere good to be in Arizona at any time of the year, despite the soaring temperatures in the summer. It's a state with it's own climate control. A couple of hours north or a couple of hours south, we've got it all covered, just find your comfort zone. At this time of year, you want to be right here, Scottsdale and Phoenix, the places to be, weather included. With so much going on, from music festivals to rodeos, art shows to championship golf tournaments and everything in between. It's alive with life, the State's own entertainment capital.
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50