The weekend of November 2-4 marked our second travel excursion of the month. This time to scenic Phoenix. Or something like that.
A little back story: Angelo grew up in Cleveland and one of his best friends still lives in Cincinnati. Needless to say, we don't get back much so we don't see him often. Andy owns a very successful dog training and boarding business and also competes in competition (more on that later). He helped us a lot as a sort of virtual trainer for the first few months that we had Arlo. When we found out he'd be just outside of Phoenix for a competition, we knew we had to go. And thus, this weekend adventure was born.
We got to spend a few nights in an awesome Airbnb hanging out with Andy and his girlfriend, watched him do what he is best in the country at (literally), ate some delicious food, and had a nice weekend away with the pup.
The sport Andy competes in is called French Ring. Here's the gist: a handler and a dog are the competitors. They go through a whole series of little events and challenges and are scored by judges. These events include agility drills (jumping over a wooden wall or long jumping), obedience drills (following commands, heeling, walking on leash, walking with a muzzle, ignoring food, picking up a thrown object, etc.), and drills with a decoy. A decoy is a guy in a bite suit. Andy is that guy. In fact, he's the best in the US. I should mention these dogs are Belgian Malinois and are trained as personal protection dogs. They are smart, fast, athletic, and scary - yet are great family dogs as well.
The decoy stuff was fascinating. The idea was all about role playing. The dog and handler are being judged on how well the dog listens to commands - like how quickly and accurately does he attack the decoy, but then let go and return to the handler when called. Or how well can he guard an object (like a basket) if the decoy approaches it. He gets points for how close he allows the decoy to come, when he leaves his guard to attack, when he goes back to guard, etc.
Much less about viciousness and much more about intelligence and obedience. It truly is a game for these dogs, and they're really amazing at it.
Poor Arlo looked like a chump.
Long car rides call for full blown podcast series. We were in the mood for something along the lines of Serial or S-Town and I had been recommended a podcast a few months ago from my friend Jeff. He recommended Dirty John.
Dirty John is a true crime story from the LA Times. It follows an Orange County woman who meets her "dream man" online. Of course, John turns out to be someone completely different than she thought.
It's fully of lies, deception, anger, emotion, sadness, and a little humor. And it's intense. Be prepared for that.
Also be prepared to want to scream at some of the main characters for not being able to see through this guy. It's infuriating. And straight up outta the OC.
After a long drive, all I want is food. After a little Yelping, I found The Coronado in Phoenix, which was a sight for sore eyes and the perfect stop before meeting our friends at the Airbnb.
An outdoor, dog friendly patio (yay!), super cheap happy hour prices, and delicious food made for a winning combination. We had a salad, a goat cheese and jalepeno jelly quesadilla, and grilled corn on the cob complete with cotija cheese and seasonings.
All the YUM!
We were on our own for our second night dinner as well, and ironically ended up across the street from The Coronado.
Green New American Eatery popped up on many "must eat" lists so we had to try it.
I'd compare it to SIPZ in North Park - tasty bowls filled with vegan protein, veggies, and rice, vegan buffalo wings (which were pretty damn good - the smell of buffalo sauce gets me every time), and plenty of healthy drink options.
Between a Thai inspired peanut bowl, a ginger and garlic bowl, and the wings we were happy campers...with just enough space in the belly for the last item on the list...
How to describe Nami? Vegan soft serve is the actual description, but it was so much more than that. Somewhere between soft serve and the texture of a Wendy's Frostie? With organic added mix ins? Yeah, that'll do.
I got the Haystack: vanilla soft serve with homemade marshmallow creme, chocolate sauce, and pretzel sticks. YUM.
Go hungry, they only serve one size and you will eat it all.
Also, it's next door to Green. So that's convenient.