Lake Havasu City converts desert dust to tourist gold

Upon first arriving in Lake Havasu City, it seemed like any other dusty desert town in Arizona, in need of a good hose-down and a fresh coat of paint. The town was incorporated in the early 70s and it looked like it hadn’t been touched since.

But first impressions are often wrong and this one definitely was. Just below that dusty surface is a whole treasure of experiences to be had.

For starters, there’s the London Bridge. You read that correctly. Lake Havasu City is the proud owner of the original London Bridge. It was brought brick by brick from London to Lake Havasu by Robert P. McCulloch, a chainsaw magnate and the town’s founder, to act as a draw for tourism–and it worked! There are boat tours, walking tours, and Segway tours, all based around the bridge as a focal point.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu Arizona

The London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

We were there to walk the 5K in the annual London Bridge Half-Marathon and 5K. The race trail took us over the bridge twice and we got to see other parts of town as well.

London Bridge Half Marathon and 5K

Team Dryja ready to walk the London Bridge 5K!

The lake is what really brings people to the area, though. It is a big boating community, so you can bring your own, rent one, or take a tour on one. We were told by several locals that Lake Havasu is the second-most visited place in Arizona, thanks to the lake. The Grand Canyon is the first, of course. But for the lake, the bridge probably wouldn’t be there either. It is a reservoir lake, made up of water from the Colorado River which is contained by the Parker Dam.

Since the water is why people visit the area, most of the activities revolve around it, but boating isn’t the only way to experience it. There are hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides, and ultralight aircraft tours. Hikers can explore the surrounding hills. Gamblers can check out the casinos. Campers can roll out their tents and sleeping bags in one of the campsites dotting the lake. If you like lighthouses, take a tour that points out the many replicas of North American lighthouses around the lake. There’s lots to do.

Lake Havasu lighthouses

Lake Havasu is dotted by replicas of lighthouses that can be found in their original forms in other parts of the world.

Did you know that this town of just over 50,000 people is also home to three pretty spectacular breweries? One of our favorite things to do while in Lake Havasu City was the brewery tour we took through Arizona Brewery Tours. Mike Moreno, Regional Salesman for Northern Arizona at College Street Brewerhouse and Pub was our tour guide. He made us feel like VIPs as we rolled from brewery to brewery in our private SUV. Mudshark, Barley Brothers, and College Street all made us feel like honored guests as the owners and brewmasters shared their stories, served tastings of their current offerings, and showed us where the magic happens.

Beer tastings at Mudshark Brewery

Just six of the 14 tastings Scott Stocking at Mudshark served.

Scott Stocking with tour group at Mudshark Brewery

Scott Stocking with our little tour group at Mudshark Brewery.

Tour group with brewmaster of Barley Brothers.

The tour group with Keith, Barley Brother’s brewmaster. We think he looked like George Carlin.

Colby Hansen, head brewer at College Street Brewery with tour group

The tour would be incomplete without a bearded brewmaster and Colby Hansen at College Street Brewery fit the bill to a tee!

Table of beer tastings at College Street Brewery.

Our table of tastings at College Street! We were the talk of the restaurant.

Mike Moreno gave a tour of Lake Havasu City breweries.

The tour would not have been as enjoyable if our guide had been anyone other than Mike Moreno. Thanks, Mike!

Let this be a lesson. Don’t let the “vintage” look of a place fool you, especially this place. Lake Havasu City is a first-class charmer. Whether you’re there for the gorgeous lake, the London Bridge Half Marathon and 5K, the busy brewery scene, or any of the other activities around town, this is a place worth visiting more than once.

Quick trip to the London Bridge

I have just arrived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. This is my first time visiting the city in the desert where the original London Bridge resides across a man made lake. Hubby and I will be walking across it on Saturday for the London Bridge 5K. I have to admit, it seems a bit odd to have a lake in the desert, much less the London Bridge, but it makes for some good tourism to a place no one would otherwise visit.

More to come!

Quality and kindness are the secret to success for My Fit Foods

Margo Brown’s review of My Fit Foods makes me want to check it out!

The Great Experimenters

When I walked into My Fit Foods there was a huge row of glass refrigerators that housed stacks of square plastic containers. I thought “Ugh, eating here is going to be like chewing on cardboard.” Quickly, I turned to look at the tables full of patrons and their reactions to the food. As soon as I did there was Bryan with an extended hand “it looks like this is your first time at My Fit Foods” Bryan said. Yes, it was and I had a coupon for a free meal but as they say, there is no such thing as a free meal and my mind began churning over the tasteless options waiting. I mean it all comes packaged up, probably frozen, healthy but tasteless. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Bryan patiently explained that all the meals are fresh, portioned controlled in color coded 3oz, 5 oz, and 8 oz packages that…

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Have dog, will travel: 10 items to pack when traveling with Rover

Our first road trip with the new furry family member is scheduled for next week! We’re headed back to San Diego, which is about six hours from Phoenix by car. This will be a way to see if Pup can handle longer trips next summer.

So far, he seems amenable to riding in the car.

Doggie is fastened and ready to go!

It’s been a while since we’ve traveled with a four-legged friend, and it took some time to compile a packing list. I figured I can’t be the only one trying to remember everything a dog needs when he travels, so I am sharing my list of 10 items to pack when traveling with your dog:

1. Seatbelt clip

One end of this seatbelt clicks into a regular seatbelt lock. The other end clips into the ring on Fido’s harness. It gives him some freedom of movement in the car, but not enough that he goes flying off the seat should you need to hit the brakes quickly.

Nylon car Safe-T-Belt clips into standard car seatbelt locks and onto your dog’s harness.

2. Microchip

This little rice-sized microchip carries your contact information should your pet become lost. Almost all vets, shelters, and pounds in the United States have a microchip scanner, so if a good samaritan takes your pet to one of these locations, or if the city pound picks her up, all they have to do is scan her back to find out how to contact you.

The microchip is injected in between your dog’s shoulder blades at a vet’s office. The cost varies per veterinarian, but it averages about $45 per pet. Home Again charges an annual fee of $18 to maintain membership, but having the peace of mind is worth it.

In the video below, Betty White provides some helpful information about microchipping your pet.

3. Leash and Harness

This is probably obvious, but it’s an important one for keeping Trixie safe whenever she is outside of the car, hotel, or vacation rental. Even well-trained dogs that normally walk off-leash can become overstimulated by new surroundings, so it’s a good idea to leash them up when traveling. Our particular dog is hard of hearing, so he can never go outside of a fenced yard without a leash.

A harness is a good option for most dogs because it doesn’t press against the trachea and cause them to choke.

4. Poopy bags

As a citizen of the world that lives with other citizens of the world, it only makes sense to carry poopy bags wherever you take your dog. No one likes looking at or potentially stepping in dog waste. Plus, because it is used by flies and other small creatures as a place to raise a family, as it breaks down and gets absorbed into puddles, ponds, and lakes, it can be a source of giardia, a nasty parasite that can take its toll on human and canine stomachs, should it be ingested during swim breaks or lapped up by a thirsty pup.

Our favorite doggie bags are the BioBags Dog Waste Bags. They decompose rapidly in the landfill. At the very least, we all have access to plastic bags from the grocery store. Those can also be used to clean up after your dog.

BioBags for Pet Waste.

5. Water bottle with built-in bowl

The Water Rover is a convenient way to carry water for your pooch when you’re out and about. The lid has a built-in bowl. When you pop the stopper and lean the bottle over, water pours into the bowl for your dog. When you’re ready to get back on the road, just tilt the bottle upright to let the water wash back into the bottle. Press the stopper back in place and you’re ready to go! It is also dishwasher safe!

Water Rover water bottle comes in a variety of sizes and colors.

6. Kibble + Treats

Pack up an airtight container of kibble to last the trip so you don’t have to race around to find a pet food store and your dog doesn’t have to get used to a new brand of kibble, should his brand be unavailable. It’s a good idea to throw in a measured scoop as well so, even if you’re overeating on vacation, Max can keep his sporty canine physique.

Favorite treats, especially those made by local barkeries, are helpful for those times when he needs extra motivation to get back in the car, or just as an additional treat while you enjoy your own lunch on the road.

Our favorite barkeries are Furbabies and Happy Tails. Furbabies Delectable Delights are available through their online store or in select Whole Foods. Happy Tails also has an online store, or if you’re local to Phoenix, they are at the Gilbert Farmers Market every Saturday morning.

7. Paper towels + beach towel or blanket

Paper towels come in handy to clean up muddy paws, drippy jaws, and anything else that needs mopping up.

According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a traveler should never leave home without a towel and that goes double for traveling with your dog. It can be used as a blanket. It can be folded and used as a bed or pillow. And, of course, it can be used to towel off a dog that has just come from romping in the lake, ocean, or pool.

8. Favorite toys

Having familiar things around, especially favorite toys, may cut down on a dog’s anxiety while traveling. It will also give him something to chew on, squeak, and destroy when he becomes restless from sitting in the car too long.

Playing with a familiar toy can ease anxiety for a dog.

9. Crate and/or Doggie bed

Whether your dog’s favorite spot is inside her crate or curled up in her special bed, don’t forget to bring it along on trips. It will help all of you rest easier during the trip and cut down on stress-related issues that might arise from your dog’s nervousness at being in a new place.

10. Scheduled stops along the way

Of course, you’ll need to include some stops along the way for potty breaks and to stretch the legs.

Look out world! Here we come!

Can you think of anything I’ve forgotten? How do you travel with your pooch?

Worldwide Recess Day is here!

Today is the big day: Worldwide Recess Day! What are you doing to get your 10-minutes of recess?

KEEN footwear is encouraging everyone to get out and play for at least 10 minutes today. Take a picture of your fun, upload it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TAKE10, and you could win a pair of KEEN shoes!

Here are five ideas for a fun day of recess.

1. Walk the dog!

If you don’t have a dog, volunteer at a rescue organization and walk some dogs who need it most. Better yet, adopt one of those dogs if you have the love and time to give a sweet pooch. You’ll receive far more from a rescued dog than you can ever give.

Don’t forget water and poopy bags to make sure your friend is well-hydrated and a good doggie citizen.

2. Invite a friend to coffee, and then walk there together.

Or, if you’re in Austin, Texas, walk to Gordough’s for a giant, made-to-order donut, then see if either you or your friend can finish one together.

You don’t feel so guilty about eating at Gordough’s if you walk there.

3. Play tourist for a day in your own town.

Put on some shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and sandals with black socks, and go check out the sights! Don’t forget your camera!

If you’re in San Diego, Washington, DC or Stratford, Ontario, take a walking tour. You can also Segway around the hot spots of San Diego if you opt to go with Another Side of San Diego Tours.

One of the many memorable moments we had during a walking tour of La Jolla, California with Bridgette of Another Side of San Diego tours.

4. Do a photo scavenger hunt with friends.

See who can find all the public art in your town first. If you’re in Chicago, you may need a whole weekend for this!

Agora in Chicago.

5, Make today a day of courage by doing something you’ve never done before.

Bonus points if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, such as riding in a hot air balloon or learning what it takes to be a dolphin trainer.

One of the most memorable days of my life was spent in a wet suit–and I’m afraid of the ocean!

Those are some of my ideas. Now, how are you going to play?

For more inspiration, check out KEEN’s Postano page.

New reason to get outside for Worldwide Recess Day

My husband and I have a new reason for getting outside on September 14th, which is Worldwide Recess Day. We just adopted a new dog!

Meet our newest traveling companion!

AZ R.E.S.C.U.E is an organization that rescues cats and dogs from the euthanasia list at the local pound. Our little guy came to them in very bad shape, in need of lots of medical attention, besides needing to be neutered. Three months later, he is shiny, happy, and hopefully ready for a life of love and adventure with his new bi-peds.

On the couch together, just a paw’s touch away.

Thank you to Vicky and Phil, his foster parents, for taking such good care of “The Big Guy”, giving him the love and attention he needed, to be ready to meet a new family. Your strength, compassion, and blessing on the world are beyond measure. Without the commitment of organizations like AZ R.E.S.C.U.E and foster parents, we would not know the pleasure of feeling his particular warm paw pads press against our elbow as he sleeps next to us, or the belly laugh that bubbles out when he races to the couch and bounds into our laps. May you all experience the rich blessing that you give to others.

5 ways to play in San Diego

A path along the beach on Coronado Island is one of the many places to play in San Diego.

For those who live in San Diego, there is always a reason to get out and play, but for those who are only allowed short visits, how do you pack all of paradise into a single weekend? Below are five ideas on how to get the most out of a weekend of play in San Diego.

1. Take a tour with Another Side of San Diego

If Another Side of San Diego doesn’t have a tour to fit your interest, time frame, and preferred mode of transportation, it doesn’t exist! Whether you’re in the mood for history, art, nature, food, or even beer, they’ve got a tour for it. Not only that, but you can pursue your interests by Segway, on foot, in a hot air balloon, on horseback, on a bike, or even in a boat! As long-time resident of La Jolla, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

To explore their tour options, visit their website. To book a tour, you can use their website or call them at 1-619-239-2111.

Another Side of San Diego tours has tours by land or sea. In La Jolla you can walk, Segway, or kayak to learn about this jewel of a town where seals and sea lions call home.

A tour of Balboa Park will introduce you to the natural wonders of Southern California, but you may also catch a concert at one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs!

2. San Diego Botanic Gardens

To get outside and get away from it all, head up to Encinitas and visit the peaceful San Diego Botanic Gardens. There you can walk to the music of nature: birds chirping, lizards rustling in the brush, lacy bamboo swooshing in the breeze. Find a bench alongside the waterfall in the Tropical Rainforest, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of water carry all your troubles away.

San Diego Botanic Gardens brim with life in all shapes and forms. Some shapes have more form than others, like this incredible statue made up of succulents.

On Saturdays at 10:30am, the gardens provide docent-led tours of the splendid variety of plants living in each section. Also, check their calendar for classes and other events, such as making your own succulent art work or cooking with an opera singing chef.

3. Take in a play at the La Jolla Playhouse

If you’re in San Diego to explore the beauty of their outdoor paradise, but you wouldn’t mind taking in a play while you’re there, you can combine the two by attending a Without Walls play through the award-winning La Jolla Playhouse. Over the last year, their Without Walls program has literally led audiences out of the theater and through garden paths or into the intimate surroundings of cars and martini bars.

“The Car Plays: San Diego” was a part of the Without Walls program and one of many brilliant plays hosted by the La Jolla Playhouse.

If there isn’t a Without Walls program running when you visit, it is still worthwhile to see one of their plays with traditional-style seating. It should be stated, however, that none of their plays can be considered “traditional”. Better words might be provocative, cutting-edge, soulful, and unforgettable.

4. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

With two locations to choose from and plenty of docent-led tours available, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego you can discover just how much you have in common with contemporary art. Take, for example, the current exhibit downtown by local artist Margaret Noble entitled “44th and Landis”. If you’re used to art being oil paintings hung on walls, you may wonder what you can get out of her paper dolls hanging from the ceiling and the wild noises crashing from her handmade speakers. But stop and look at the paper dolls. Listen to the sounds. Suddenly, you see familiar things, like the logo of a Peeps Marshmallow box or the chase of Ms. Pacman through a maze. You hear familiar sounds that take you back to 1982, when you lived for Space Invaders and chased the ice cream truck on your bike until it stopped.

If you didn’t grow up in the 80s, you may still connect with the artists that use light and space to evoke a feeling. Whole rooms are devoted to the sensations and emotions light can have on us. And, if that doesn’t do it for you, then perhaps you will marvel at the wall that breathes or connect with the massive iron heart that looks like a prison.

This Light and Space piece by Doug Wheeler is one you participate in simply by showing up and experiencing what shifts within you as a result of this space and its lighting.

5. FOOD!

San Diego is not only charmed with sunny weather and stunning ocean views, it is home to more than its share of talented chefs, fresh produce, and inspired craft beer brewmasters.

If you only have time and budget for one special restaurant, go without delay to Georges at the Cove in La Jolla. Chef Trey Foshee has won tons of awards for his California Modern cuisine, including the San Diego Chefs Hall of Fame and the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. There’s a reason for all these accolades. His food is consistently knock-your-flip-flops-off delicious; the kind of delicious that you remember and dream about weeks and months later. Even vegetarians can get in on the making of great food memories because they offer an entirely vegetarian menu and many of the dishes can be made vegan.

Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling 858-454-4244.

Georges on the Cove is definitely high-end food, but you gotta love a place that rolls up its sleeves with The People by serving donuts and coffee for desert.

If you go to Encinitas to visit the San Diego Botanic Gardens for an afternoon of peaceful retreat, spend your evening having dinner at Union Kitchen and Tap just down the road. They offer a variety of high-end tavern food (including vegetarian and vegan options) and they offer about 20 craft beers on tap, many of which are locally crafted.

Depending on what time you go, reservations may not be necessary, but if time is of the essence, it may be worthwhile to secure a table by giving them a call at 760.230.2337(BEER).

Where to stay

Hotel Parisi in La Jolla offers elegant and convenient accommodations for almost any sized group and any length of stay. The main sights, restaurants, and shopping opportunities are located just beyond the doorstep of this hotel.

Hotel Parisi also offers Parisi Apart, corporate apartments decked out with full-sized refrigerators, microwaves, silverware and dishes for travelers needing extended stays or those wishing to eat meals in the comfort of their own apartment.

The convenience of this hotel does come at a price, however. Prices start around $300 a night for a basic room and go up to over $400 a night for the extended stay apartments. Parking is an additional $15 per night and other fees may apply.

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These are just a few ideas. The possibilities are endless.

How do you like to spend time in San Diego? Comment below or email me at srdryja@jetplanesandcoffee.com with your ideas! With your help, we can put together a comprehensive list that will help others plan their weekend at play in San Diego!

Recess in La Jolla

KEEN’s Worldwide Recess Day isn’t for another week, but I thought I’d get a jumpstart by playing on the rocks in La Jolla, California.

One of the many stunning views in La Jolla. This one was had standing just beyond the wave’s reach atop the continental shelf at low tide.

Stay tuned for more photos from my weekend at play, along with tips and ideas for how you can enjoy “The Jewel” of California!

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Don’t forget to upload your photos to Twitter and Instagram on September 14th with the hashtag #TAKE10, for a chance to win a pair of shoes by KEEN footwear! And, although I can’t offer you a pair of shoes, I would still love to see what you’ve got planned for recess, so be sure to go to my Facebook page and post your photos there too!

Test driving SlimKicker.com

If you have read articles from my Walking America Series, you know that I use FitBit to track my steps each day. Recently, though, a new website came to my attention: SlimKicker.com. It is similar to websites like MyFitnessPal.com and FitBit’s website, which are built on the idea that if we track what we eat and how active we are, we have a better chance at achieving our diet and fitness goals.

The difference in SlimKicker seems to be that they offer “points” for each activity. Eat a serving of veggies? That’s a point (or more). Walk for 30 minutes? That’s 30 points. Add up the points and you make it to a new level. Make it to a new level and you’ll be reminded to reward yourself with something you choose as rewarding. For example, my first reward will be to buy myself some new traveling shoes for fall. Once I hit Category 2, boots, here I come!

Oooo. Boooots. But which color???

You can also set up challenges for yourself, friends who join SlimKicker, or people you meet through the site who want to take the same challenge. From everything I can gather, it is meant to make dieting and exercise like a game.

The idea of it sounds like a lot of fun. In the first evening I got excited by the number of points I racked up in a day. I will admit, though, that having to upload all my info and track all my food in order to get these points is a bit tedious, especially given that these days I’m in Maintenance Mode and not actually striving to lose weight or run a marathon.

So, that’s where you come in. I’d like to hear from you and know what your experiences are with SlimKicker.com. Have you used their website before? If so, for how long?

Drop me a comment in the section below, or email me at srdryja@jetplanesandcoffee.com. I’ll compile the responses into an article, giving you credit for the information you provided, and share it with the rest of my readers.

Waiting for the recess bell

Worldwide Recess Day is just 10 days away!

Here are some inspiring ideas from readers on Twitter and Facebook:

Becky from Arizona will spend the whole day in recess that day. She’s taking the husband and kids to Disneyland!

What better place to spend a whole day of recess than Disneyland? (Photo by Wikipedia User: RAGB.)

Maryellen from New York plans to go old school playing hopscotch and jump rope.

Magpie hopscotch at Morecambe Pier, England. Taken by Wikipedia User:Lupin, 11/Apr/2004.

She also liked the idea of calling all the school chums together for a rousing game of kickball.

Girls playing kickball in Central Park in New York in 1973. (Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.)

I like the idea of walking to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone.

Vintage neon Dairy Queen sign, Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Ian Muttoo.)

Or heading to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum to spy lizards and hummingbirds.

A trek through the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is my idea of recess!

Or how about a hot air balloon ride?

How about a hot air balloon ride?

How will you get out and enjoy being a kid again on September 14th? Send in your ideas and I’ll post them here!

For more excitement, upload a picture to Twitter or Instagram on the 14th with the hashtag #TAKE10. You may win a pair of shoes from KEEN footwear! KEEN will announce one winner every hour.

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Jet Planes and Coffee is not affiliated with KEEN footwear and will, therefore, not be giving away shoes. We do love a great opportunity to get outside and play, though, so get out there, have some fun, and share your experiences!