This weekend I had the fabulous opportunity to visit Scottsdale, Arizona — my first time in the state. It was as beautiful as I imagined, though not as warm as I’d hoped 🙂

I hopped across the country for a small blogger conference sponsored by The Franklin Center and got to hang out, learn and brainstorm with some awesome political bloggers. I’ve gotten to know some over the years but also met some new folks that were absolutely wonderful!

My friend Tabitha, who works at Franklin, organized the conference. She does a fantastic job of outreach and bringing like-minded bloggers together to help us all learn, connect and grow.

We were able to take a really cool jeep tour through the desert on Saturday. It was awesome to see things I’ve only known in photos before. Luckily, I remembered my good camera and was able to take some awesome photos.

Though there are parts of DC or Indiana that are gorgeous, nothing really compares to the West. It’s some of God’s finest work and being in the midst of it is a privilege.

I wish I had more time to hike, explore and spend some time with the people. But, I take what I can get and a weekend gave me lots to see.

One thing our tour guides drilled into our heads? You can’t get water from a cactus! Much of the West, they say, is totally stereotyped by the movies.

The tour guides were actually really fun, totally decked out in western gear and full of cheer, jokes and lots of information.

I was pumped to get to know a few new people this weekend, including Kira, Brandon, Breanne, Bruce and Diana!

Also caught up with a few old friends like Melissa, Kathleen, Jim, Michelle and Maggie.

Me, Kira, Breeanne

We spent the two days hearing from a few great speakers and talking about ideas on how to be better bloggers, work together and get our message out there.

While we were speaking specifically of politics, I find my work and pleasure overlap very easily. Tips I learn at political conference help me in both my job and my side love, The Sweet Life. Similarly, when I attend fitness blogging events, I learn things that I can use for both things as well. It’s a great deal for me!

TIP of the weekend: Google picks up even when you just bold or underline phrases and gives them more “Google juice.”

Quote of the weekend: “Overcome your shit and do it anyway.” — Melissa Clouthier

I am grateful for the heart and soul of those I got to hang with this weekend. Even though politics can be divisive, it is refreshing to be around people who truly believe in something and work very hard to make a difference. 

Didn’t think I would skip my workouts did ya? 

Thursday: Crossfit at 6am before heading to the airport
Friday: 3 mile run, 30 min. elliptical, 15 min. arms at the resort gym
Saturday: 2 mile walk, 2.25 mile run

I’ll tell ya, Friday and Saturday were rough. I barely made it through either, Saturday especially. But I woke up and took a walk in the cool, quiet morning. After a nice little 2-mile walk, I felt inspired to get a jog in so I’d really feel ready for the day.

This was a shot I took of Camel Back Mountain I took from just behind our hotel, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. I didn’t get to climb it, unfortunately, but apparently it’s a must-do for next time!

For once, it was nice to take a walk in silence without the pressure of run, run, run. I seriously just took in the views and blue blue sky. Not a cloud all day, amazing.

Here’s a shot of some more desert. I couldn’t believe how many houses were embedded into mountainsides and strewn in random desert areas, including a Four Seasons that looked totally out of place!

After our tour, we headed back to downtown Scottsdale and had dinner at Cien Agaves. It was amazing! Not only did they provide excellent service for a group of 16 (no mistakes in food or bills, as well as quick service thanks to our server Sunny!), but the food was awesome. I had a Habernero Lime Margarita, shrimp taco and the tinga taco. So glad I got some great Mexican food while there!

Then, it was off to karaoke! I was really wanting to go home but didn’t want to turn down the fun so I went ahead and joined the group for some fun. I considered reviving my famous rendition of “Redneck Woman” (and dedicating it to my funnest of friends, Meghann!) but the line was too long!

Still got to see some other fun peeps get down with their bad selves. This pic is actually not from last night but I wanted to include:

Me, Michelle, Bruce, Kathleen

So I was up late before getting up at 7 to make my flight home. I battled some terrible aiport security lines but eventually made it home exhausted!

I’m so glad I finally got to see the beautiful home state of my fiance and spend some time in the West. Additionally, I met some great people and learned a few things too.

Have you been to Arizona? What do you love about the Western U.S.?

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