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Our Last Weekend of Bicycling in AZ

Juan and I are trying to soak up our last weekend of bike riding in Arizona. The orange blossoms seem to be extra fragrant today. Juan loves this time of year and I feel he is getting something extra special where everything is in bloom.

Juan and I are so excited in this next chapter in our lives. Life is so short and we plan to try to live and enjoy every minute of it.

So today…the weather is gorgeous, very light veil of clouds and my Juan by my side…life couldn’t be any better.

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Urban Hobos-Patron Your Local Neighborhood Haunts!

I mentioned on several posts about our love of urban living…living small (right-size your life) and organizing your life to where you are not spending all of your time at work to now come home and spend hours managing a home that is too big. Again….everyone will have a different set of values on what is too big and what the right “downsize” would be. However, if you are not getting to enjoy life for all the hard work you out in to…then that is where “right-sizing” comes in.

Anyway, as “Urban Hobos”, Juan and I are passionate about walking or riding our bicycle as much as possible especially on the weekend. That is why we chose a home that was in a great neighborhood location and also near all the conveniences such as restaurants, markets. retail, grocers etc. I did suburban living and I am really glad I made the move to a more city/urban way of life.  Why???…great local/Mom & Pop places to visit and hang out.
One favorite destination for us is LGO or La Grande Orange Grocery. La Grande Orange Grocery and Pizzeria is an organic coffee/breakfast bar, café, pizzeria with a funky retail grocery. (Taken from their website) Their food is simple and clean with no hidden ingredients. It’s a one stop shop of happiness no matter what time of day.

Juan and I will head out on our bicycles early in the AM to LGO’s. We enjoy the ride especially this time of year as it is very chilly in the morning (Can be as low as 32 degrees which is cold for us) and our route takes us through beautiful mid-century modern homes and old style apartments to arrive ready for a large cup of HOT coffee at our destination.
It is a typical neighborhood friendly spot. It gets really busy yet everyone seems to be at ease chatting with friends and neighbors waiting for their orders while enjoying the cool early morning talking about their holiday plans for the next two weeks. The staff at LGO are always there to lend a hand, whether it is to answer a question or to help you to your table with an extra plate or two…always happy and eager to help!

So many ways to enjoy a meal; eat at the restaurant, order a quick breakfast/lunch/dinner meal to sit outside, take-and-go, or come in and wander the aisles for awesome baked goodies and treats. PLUS for you 40+ year olds…some very cool “old school” candies you haven’t seen in years! They also showcase local artists/crafts displaying unique table top gifts. Truly so much to see and do!

SO if you are in the Phoenix metro area, I encourage you to make a stop at LGO. You can sit in the Arcadia room enjoying fine wine, pizza and other specialties. Or you can order on the grocery side your favorite breakfast/lunch or take-and-go treat…or enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the cool early morning sun on the patio.
Question for you….Do you have a special local restaurant you enjoy to frequent that is nearby to your home? If so, tell me about it and send a picture or two, I would gladly POST on our site and showcase your favorite place!

 

Bicycling throughout Phoenix and Paradise Valley AZ!



You recently read “Juan’s perspective” on our bicycling adventure over the weekend and what it means to him to enjoy a simpler lifestyle and riding bicycles….well it goes the same for me. As I mentioned just the day before, you get an opportunity to enjoy the world passing by at a much slower pace.

I could ride all day long every day if I could. Of course the Arizona heat does not make it optimal bicycling weather, however, Juan and I get up before dawn in the summers to get in as much of a ride as possible. Now….it is just beautiful outside and I can ride all day…

The coolest thing we saw yesterday was something I had never seen before and was so amazed at the beauty of this sculpture. Obviously someone left a bale of hay for him to enjoy and what beauty this gorgeous steed is.

Imagine all the parts and pieces of yesterday’s history form this magnificent animal, right down to an old sewing machine that was plucked out in the midst of sewing.

Vacuum cleaner, silver pitcher, old ornamental ironwork, egg beater, tractor seat and so much more are the bones and make-up of this beauty.

So, Juan and I decided to stop and take some time to enjoy this beautiful piece of art. I see that the artist did sign his sculpture…his name is Carlos Cobos. I tried a “Google” search on his name and the horse and did find where someone from Paradise Valley purchased this piece about a year ago.

However, it is not placed in their backyard hidden from the public…he is proudly placed at the corner of McDonald and Tatum for all to enjoy!

We stopped to enjoy…. and so we mounted our steal steeds and ventured on back home. It was a beautiful day.

 

You never know what adventure the ride will bring….

An Urban Hobo Adventure

When we set out his morning, we stopped at the gate to decide where we wanted to ride? More to the point, it was a debate over who had the best coffee. Initially I had wanted to pick some place new. A place that might afford us a change in scenery. Ultimately we agreed on one of our usual hangouts (Einstein’s Bagels) because we love their coffee. We did however, decide to explore a new route.
A few minutes into the ride we had to pull over because I wanted to get a picture of my bike. Actually, my new kickstand. (It’s funny how excited I get over a new piece of equipment.) 


Treat #1. The first leg of our trip had us riding directly towards Camelback mountain. The “Praying Monk” was looming larger and larger as we continued on our Easterly course. We rode almost to the base of the mountain. In all my years here in Phoenix, I’ve never been this close to the Monk.
I thought the next leg of our trek was going to be  bit boring as we were riding down the sidewalk, next to the main street. Not too much excitement here. At the first stop-light, Shawn made another route suggestion and had us cut through the Chase parking lot at 44th street and Camelback (a gorgeous Mid-Century Modern  building.) We’ve ridden past here a thousand times and admired the architecture. Today, since it was Sunday,  we were rode on the actual customer sidewalk. Treat #2, a naked lady! Well, a statue of one anyway. There are several statue’s surrounding the perimeter of the bank. I’d never noticed them before. 
You see the most wonderful things from the seat of a bike!

A short time later, we reached our coffee stop. 



Over breakfast we planned out the return route. We were pretty sure where the road would take us, but had never driven/ridden this particular stretch. As we were riding along, enjoying the scenery  we pulled up short! Treat #3. We discovered the coolest statue I’ve ever seen. A life-sized horse made out of every imaginable salvaged item. The individual pieces were not very big, but together they formed the horse. There was even a fresh hay bale! We spent a considerable amount of time examining the statue from all sides. It was fascinating!



Back on the bikes and we continued on our way. Shawn’s guess was correct. We ended up at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard. Treat#4. We stopped off at the Barry Goldwater memorial. It’s pretty cool.
Back on the bikes and heading for home. We had a very fun ride along Lincoln Drive, up and down the hills. What started out to be a routine ride for coffee, turned into a great adventure. An unexpected ART ride! By throwing the planning out the window and looking for any route but the usual, we were treated to some very cool surprises. This was by far the most fun ride we’ve taken in a long time. It just goes to show that you never know what adventure the ride will bring. 
 

We’re Just Urban Hobos



Juan’s bike

 Several years ago, Juan and I got into bicycling. I found that when I’m on a bike it doesn’t feel like exercise. I can get on and go for hours.

For me….. one of the few things in life that can bring such wonderful memories of being a kid is getting on my bike. The world moves at a slower pace. It’s about you motoring the pedals and zipping through the neighborhoods listening to the surroundings, smelling the fresh air, feeling the breeze on your face….being free.

My bike

As Juan and I embark on almost a year of downsizing right-sizing our lives, we are learning to enjoy the simpler things in life. Since I recently posted mine and Juan’s perspective on becoming a one car family… what greater joy for us to embrace our bicycling and making it a part of our daily lives NOT just for exercise but a way of life.

We thought it would be fun to incorporate our bicycling into our blog to show you that living in a small space….right-sizing our lives and living a simpler lifestyle might get you thinking about what’s more important for you and your family. Not asking you to give up on the finer things in life (I have not given up on style, designer anything and my love of clothing) but to eliminate any excess you may have. Remember what I always go back to…. keep the things that are beautiful and you hold dear to you and use them. Use the nice dishes…use the silverware….use the fine furniture….enjoy your things.

I will add updates on our rides and how we incorporate bicycling into our daily lives. Today, we headed out for a ride to get some breakfast. The weather was perfect and we had an opportunity to see some frightening things along the way….

Boo

Beware all who enter!!!
Mwahh Haa Haaaaa (Must repeat in a scary voice)
I hope you will enjoy my quest for living in a small space, enjoying a simpler lifestyle and incorporating bicycling into our daily lives! In the meantime….I will enjoy my cup of coffee.


 

So You Are Now Minus A Garage…Now What?

When Juan and I decided to move into a smaller square foot home, we knew we were going to have to make some sacrifices and concentrate on the reason why we were doing this. One of the BIG BIG issues… A Garage. I know most men would whimper at the thought of eliminating the most precious room of the house (ask my middle brother). Even Juan was a little upset at first…heck I was too. It was great extra storage room. Yes, a place I could buy more STUFF and store it. However, there are truly great reasons for having a garage.
A place to keep your cars especially in the extreme heat of AZ
A great place for holiday storage (I know I am psycho about Christmas)
A place for those extra toys such as motorcycles, ATVs, and bicycles (Bicycles are the key for me and Juan)
A place to keep your tools for all the “Honey-Do’s” and carpentry work (Yes, Juan is very talented in that arena)
Let’s go back to the bicycles. When Juan and I made the decision to downsize, we each had five bicycles. Yes, I had five bikes and so did he. Why, you ask? Besides the LOVE of bicycles and bicycling….we had different bikes for different applications. (Mountain, Road, Touring or just Cruising)
So we decided that we truly needed to figure out the kind of riding we wanted to do and pare down to one bike a piece which is what we FINALLY did. Seriously it was just this past week that we did this. Even though we have been in the 900sqft home for months!
I’ve been asked on several occasions about storage and what were my thoughts about storing certain items especially bicycles. Many couples out there, like me, have been challenged with downsizing and losing the garage. What to do with bicycles that you still enjoy to ride but do not have the storage or garage space AND…do not wish to leave outside due to weather? Why can’t you integrate your bicycles with your décor? YOU CAN!
Our current set up in our spare room



Right now as Juan and I are still “editing” our spare room that will soon be an office/workspace/bedroom, we are creating a piece of artwork on the wall that is called our bicycles. Why not work it into your space? If you have a studio apartment, you can have a pulley system and have them hanging up high. Or you can do what we did and purchase a gravity rack that does not need to be bolted into the studs and hang a couple of bicycles.
HOWEVER, you can do one step better and purchase a beautiful bike shelf! Chris Brigham has created a beautiful bike shelf that, with simple instructions, you can mount on the wall and hang your bike. It is taking utilitarian one step further by making it useful yet beautiful and simplistic in design.
Chris spent his adult life as a Graphic Designer (Check out his website “About”) all along thinking about working with his hands. You see what an incredible and talented individual he is by visiting his website and checking out many of his designs. Chris had no formal training in furniture design, turned his garage into a woodshop and began building furniture. He taught himself and has built quite a successful business for himself (theknifeandsaw.com).  
Chris saw a need when visiting friends in San Francisco and NYC where storage is a challenge and where to put one’s bike. He saw a need for some “bike management” and created the bike shelf. It is easy-to-install (mount to wall studs) only leaving screw holes when gone (great for renters). It comes in walnut or ash and looks beautiful on the wall. You can add some books or other lightweight items (holds up to 40lbs) keeping more clutter out of the way.
Are you challenged with a couple of bikes in your small space…getting in the way? Do you find yourself moving your bike from one wall to the other to get it out of the way?  I would suggest you check out Chris’ Bike Shelf and get one…or two. What a great way to display your beautiful bike, add other accessories and have room to move around.

Chris Brigham can be reached at his website www.theknifeandsaw.com

 

Reason #3 Why We Love living In A Small Space…More Time For Living!

And A Little Bit OF History

This is what I love about living in a small space, simpler life and living more urban. We can get our chores done with ease…cleaning house, laundry etc and set out for some fun! With the weather being much more tolerable, (not two zip-codes past hell kind of weather we’ve been having), Juan and I can enjoy riding our bikes NOT just for exercise but our means for getting from here to there and everywhere. Case in point weekends! This is the time when Juan and I think of destinations we can head to on our bikes. We make it a goal to try and park the car Friday night and not get in until Monday morning heading in for work.

On Sunday, we headed down to the Willo District here in Phoenix AZ. This neighborhood is right in the middle of downtown Phoenix. This neighborhood reminds me a lot of where I grew up in El Paso TX.
There is such an array of homes… all different architectural styles! I believe building started in the early 1900’s and continued to build and grow up to WWII. In the 1920’s, many homes were built in the bungalow style. Then during the 1930’s, the Period Revival brought many more architectural styles such as Tudor Revival, Greek Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, American Colonial Revival, and Pueblo Revival. You also see some French Provincial and Monterey style.

The homes seemed to have gotten lost in downtown Phoenix as so much commercial building has “butted” up against these beautiful treasures. I read that in the 1980s’s, the residents of Willo lobbied for status as a special conservation district, achieving historic status and assuring that this gorgeous neighborhood with its myriad styles of homes will be preserved for future generations. (For more info, (http://www.willohistoricdistrict.com/)

They have an annual Home Tour, typically around the second week of February where you have an opportunity to tour many of these homes. It is great to visit with the owners and learn what they have done to restore the beauty of these homes and how much enjoyment these little homes bring them.

So I will end this blog with a short video montage (about 2 ½ minutes) of the homes we visited via our bicycles and iphone.

 
 
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