Our next morning started out at a newer SLO fav, Scout Coffee. They now have two locations in San Luis and we went to the shop on Foothill Foothill. The decor is on point and their homemade almond milk will make you sing.
I tried the scone with scallions and goat cheese which was delicious. The vibe was LOUD… I don’t know how someone could study there but maybe on a weekday it would be less rambunctious.
After our coffee and pastries, we headed to Avila to hike the Ridge Trail. This time we parked closer to Pirates Cove… off Cave Landing.
We started at the hill of doom, much better going up than down.
Once we caught our breaths… well once I caught my breath we selfied 🙂
SO amazingly beautiful and vast. Once we were leaving we noticed that it had gotten a lot more crowded. We were lucky that we had so much alone trail time.
Once in Avila, we stopped for lunch and brews and then headed back on the trail to finish our 5 mile round trip blade sesh.
Saturday Night, we had plans to camp at Montana de Oro State Park. This is probably one of the most beautiful places you will ever go in your life.
Is this real life??? Views and Brews?!! On this somewhat stormy Saturday Night Libertine Pub in Morro Bay was pretty empty but a live band came on at eight that brought in more of a crowd. We enjoyed dinner and a few brewskies.
Generally speaking when I am going to plan a vacation, I like to pick a place where I can eat good food, drink good drinks, be active ( in some capacity) and maybe throw in some time by the fire or on a hammock!
Palm Springs is a place that I had not been to since becoming an adult and as a Northern California dweller it takes a bit more to get there than from LA or SD. So when one of my Best Friends suggested we take a trip there for her birthday I very enthusiastically said , “YES”!
There was one caveat though… we were going in SUMMER! You might be thinking who in their right mind goes to the desert in the summer? Well people who love a good deal, and in the summer, Palm Springs has amazing lodging deals.
We took off from foggy San Francisco in the morning and landed in Palm Springs at potentially the hottest part of the day… walking off the plane was a rude awakening to say the least.
We assumed (wrongly) that we would be able to get a rental car since its summer… no one is in the desert right? Well without a rental car to our names we would have to uber/lyft/taxi/shuttle all around town.. which turned out to be a good option. The shuttle is great! Highly reccomend looking into it when you are there as a form of transportation.
We stayed at the Saguaro. If you aren’t living under a rock you have already seen its brightly colored, palm tree laden grounds all over instagram.
I would reccomend staying at this hotel if you LOVE to party all day and into the night… the pool parties are very popular here but also extremely annoying if that isn’t your steeze.
If I were to go back I would potentially stay at the Parkeror The Ace.
Once settled at our hotel we took a car service to Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway . We had booked a tour prior to arriving which I reccomend if you are interested. I haven’t made it to Graceland yet, so being somewhere that The King lived was a magical experience. It is hard to believe that this home is owned by a couple ( who are selling btw). To me, it seems like this house should be a museum. It is amazing though how little has been updated. The home maintains its original charm and finishes.
After our tour we were famished and in need of a bite to eat! Another note about Summer is that places close in the middle of the day/ or for the season so be prepared to not get to try all the places you have dreamed about on yelp/instagram.
Ready for day two! We started the day off with a breakfast reservation at Norma’s at the Parker ( ohh lala! ) Another summer tip – wake up early and nap during the hottest part of the day! Not rocket science!… but I thought I would share all the same!
After an amazing breakfast we strolled around the Parker grounds. Beautiful!
Next stop! Saturday morning Famers Market! and look what we found … Beer Tasting! I love to try some good local beer on all my trips so when we found Coachella Valley Brewing Co – I was stoked! Purchased a few beers for back at the hotel where we were headed for some R & R.
For dinner we headed to Birba. We went before the dinner rush and were able to be seated without a reservation.
Our meal and drinks were beyond! I highly, highly reccomend.
Then onto Tropicale, at this point of the night the air is balmy but cool enough for outside sitting and walking.
One final drink and some live music at the Amigo Room.
Day 3! Ready to indulge … yet again.
Elmer’s is a chain.. but a highly recommended chain so off we went to try it out!
After our filling breakfast we went to Moorten Botanical Garden. We thought it would be early enough to beat the heat… but we weren’t. We thought we were going to pass out after walking around, but it was beautiful!
After lounging pool side for the majority of the afternoon we got ready for dinner and drinks!
We went to The Purple Palm for drinks, I tried the Rio Rita with Ghost Pepper! Delish!
For our last lunch we hit Sherman’s Deli in Palm Springs – what a delight! It was so delicious.
After our meal we headed back to our hotel and off we flew back to the Bay! I had an amazing time in Palm Springs – the aesthetic, the food, I loved it all! I will definelty be back… would I go again in the Summer… tbd.
You may be going into this post thinking… The Narrows in the Winter?? It must be freezing and well you might be right… It would be cold without the proper gear.
We were recommended Zion Outfitter by a local for having the best Narrows Gear. Like I mentioned in my previous post – the staff is super friendly here, they fixed a crampon that I didn’t even buy from their store! Great service.
Another important tid bit is that you need to start as early as possible… I know its hards but it will make your experience so much better! Towards the end of our hike icicles were dropping which is terrifying.
The park ranger told us that a man got a perma dent in his head from an icicle falling on him. So set your alarm, get your booties in gear and get in the water early. You will also see way less people. We saw maybe 10 total while we were in the Narrows and a whole slew of people were coming in as we were leaving.
Falling icicles, no thanks…Get an early start – no melting ice!
Also… an amazing resource was a post from Just a Colorado Gal about her experience hiking The Narrows in the Winter. Great inspiration!
We found this map super helpful … well super helpfulish. I think we were walking faster than it guestimated. At any rate helpful to have!
All geared up! So cute and so dry!
I wasn’t expecting how much walking there would be outside of the water… many areas you could walk on dry ground.
Another potentially helpful tip would be to bring extra gloves… I fell in within the first 5 minutes so one of my gloves were wet the entire time. Actually, not terrible but if this would be a deal breaker for you… and you are falling prone than bring extra gloves. I think I fell a total of 3 times … maybe 4. haha
The views were truly unlike anything I have seen before. It was outer-wordly.
They say the camera adds 10 pounds… but I might say 20 lbs in this photo!
The best hydro sneaks – kept our feet SO dry!
If you prepare for The Narrows in Winter you will have an amazing experience. This will be an experiencing I remember for the rest of my life.
Our first full day in Zion and we needed some fuel so we stopped at Cafe Soleil . I ordered the breakfast burrito and dirty soy chai latte ( chai latte with shot of espresso! ). Very filling and great.
Next we headed to Zion Outfitter to inquire about hiking the Narrows the following day. How much for gear rental, weather conditions etc. This place was recommended to us by our bartender the night before as having the best equipment for the Narrows. I don’t have anything to compare it to but I had a great experience with everyone who worked here. I highly suggest purchasing your crampons beforehand ( much cheaper!) but they also had the good crampons not just yak tracks.
Finally headed into the park, lines get longer the later it gets. Loved this ‘RL GOOD’ license plate! After stopping at the visitor center and getting information about trail closures etc… we decided to start hiking at Lower Emerald Pool Trail and see how we were feeling. We had NO.. I repeat NO intention of hiking to Angel’s Landing. The park ranger specified how dangerous it was and that if we were to fall there would be no rescue party – yowzaaaa so we decided we would just build our own hike and see where it would take us.
From Lower Emerald Pool Trail to The Grotto Trail and Kayenta Trail then finally towards Angel’s Landing Trail itself. Once we were there we decided to just see how far we could go.. we all had crampons and hiking poles which made ALL the difference. People were hiking without but I don’t know why you would.
MADE IT TO THE TOP! WOOHOO – Amazing feeling, can not begin to describe! Don’t think I would do it again but it was invigorating. I almost feel that in the winter it might be better… this is because with the crampon you really dig into the snow instead of just climbing on rock.
I would definelty reccomend Angel’s Landing in winter but you 100% should have crampons and hiking poles!
Someone even took the time to make a snowman!
Heading back down – on the way up this trail was full of people… now it is deserted.
SO many switchbacks! I don’t know how I would have survived this without my poles or crampons.. I will keep saying it.. they were lifesavers!!
What a beautiful view to wake up to! Driving out of the campground during sunrise was another one of those wow, beautiful, amazing moments.
Only 19 degrees, we sure got cold packing up our campsite!
From our campground we had another 45 minutes to Kanab, Utah to see about getting a Wave Permit. I highly reccomend getting your permit online. You just need to know 4 months in advance and best case scenario be slightly flexible. If you are planning on trying to get a walk in permit get there at 8:30 – the lottery starts at 9 on the dot. They have 10 permits per day for the next day. Look at all these people hoping for a day of permit! Yowza – DEF reccomend trying to get one online.
Fortunately/Unfortunately we did not get the lottery but it was an interesting experience and I still want to do the wave but will plan in advance next time!
We decided to hang out in the parking lot and make breakfast while we chose what our next plan would be since we didn’t get the wave permit. A few guys got their car stuck o on a rock so my friend and her boyfriend helped them jack up the car and get them off the rock! Quite the scene!
Despite or maybe because of the crazy circumstances of the morning this breakfast was especially good!
We decided we would end up that night in Bryce Canyon National Park and on our way we would try to find another canyon called Peek – a – boo Canyon. It is off highway 89 N and there is a large sign that specifies a turn off for Peek – a – boo Canyon on the right hand side if leaving Kanab, Ut headed toward Bryce. If you park your car in the parking lot you will walk along the road towards the Canyon and end up with a 6 mile round trip hike. If on the other hand you attempt to drive to the canyon you will need a lifted 4w/awd vehicle. I would not reccomend attempting otherwise, at least when there is snow/mud.
We may have tried to dig out the car tires with our camp cups… Definitely needed a beer after that undertaking!
When hiking in a Canyon you should always wear layers as it tends to be colder inside the canyon than hiking around it.
Once we hiked around the canyon we drove back out to the highway and made our way towards Bryce to catch the Sunset.
Once we hit Bryce we went straight to Sunrise point and parked. Walked along the ridge to Sunset Point and back to the car. It was chilly but breathtaking! Those hoodos are one of a kind and covered in snow they are very magical. Not too crowded, perhaps because it was so cold!
We decided to book a room because the temps were getting into the negatives over night. We stayed at Bryce Resort in their last room! Not much open in Bryce this time of year! Very friendly staff and comfortable, clean rooms. The high season here in Bryce is April – October.
Looking forward to another day exploring in Bryce.
Sunrise in the Canyon! One of the most special sunrises I have ever experienced. Very few people out on the rim and for good reason… it was an icy tundra out there. Our phones kept turning off because they were so cold, we kept trying to warm them up so we could take some photos!
Don’t mind my sweatpants… we literally jumped out of our sleeping bags, packed up the car and bounced.
Photo Cred to the random foreigner smoking a cigarette. Thanks.
It is so hard to capture in a picture the shadows and shifts in light and color. It is such a unique and beautiful experience.
Naturalist John Muir described Grand Canyon: ” In the supreme flaming glory of sunset (Can I impose… sunrise?!) the whole canyon is transfigured as if the life and light of centuries of sunshine stored up in the rocks was now being poured forth as from one glorious fountain, flooding both earth and sky.”
I look very bundled and it was cold but probably not that cold!
Once you leave the Park at Desert View you enter into Navajo Land. You will see many road side stands and also paths for lookouts and paths. Get off the road and explore – another adventure awaits!
Stopped in Cameron. Basically, a couple buildings one of which was a massive gift shop with a fine dinning restaurant in the back… since that looked like the only place to get coffee we asked if we could sit at a table and write our post cards. They obliged and we spent a lovely time in their beautiful dinning room. Great view of the surrounding landscape.
We set our GPS for Antelope Canyon to check out and see what all the hype is about. From our online research it appeared that you had to pay a fee to take a tour to the slot canyons at Antelope both Upper and Lower.
We are not tour people so we knew we weren’t really interested in that but we were hopeful that we might be able to pay to go onto the Navajo land but make our own tour!
If you are a professional photographer OR fancy yourself one maybe it would be worth it for you to go, but for myself it just wasn’t worth it. There are a few different companies but a gentleman working at Kens Tours told us about ‘Waterholes Canyon’. Two miles south of Horseshoe Bend – if you have gone over the bridge you have gone too far. There is a fence with opening and it is likely you will see other cars parked to the side of the road.
There were maybe 5/6 other people milling about so we were able to see where to head down into the canyon. We spent about an hour walking through the canyon – SO awesome! Very few people around which made for a cool, meditative experience.
About thirty minutes before sunset we headed back over to Horseshoe Bend. Woah! What a difference – a ton of people were surrounding the famed bend. We guesstimated a couple hundred. The sign at the front specifies that no drones are allowed but of course a few people had them out buzzing around.
Despite the buzzing of the drones and women taking glamor shots on the edge it was still a must see and I would go back 100 times over. It is so amazing to see how water has shaped the landscape. I think if you tried to hit it at sunrise you would luck out with less people, just because people like sleeping in!
After sunset, we drove about 45 mins closer towards the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to a campground called White House Trailhead and Campground in Kanab, UT. We got there at dark, turned off the highway and drove two miles on a dirt road. Five dollars a night per spot – what a deal! We set up camp in the dark, with only the stars and headlamps as our guide. We decided to tent camp tonight because it was pretty nice out ( 39 degrees). Chelsea built an amazing fire and we enjoyed some time together looking at the stars and drinking a beer.
We planned to get up early in the morning to drive the rest of the way, another 45 minutes, to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to see about getting a wave permit for the following day.
Despite the cold temps overnight we were warm and toasty! Well rested for a day of adventures.
We set out for the Grand Canyon a little after 6 am and chose not to stop at Hoover Dam, I hear its cool if you are into that sort of thing… There are a couple big towns between Vegas and GC that have a Safeway/Vons in them. If you must have Trader Joes or Whole Foods you will have to wait until they open in Vegas.
The Road from LV to GC is beautiful, you will go from the desert to snow and travel parts of historic Route 66.
Unfortunately, GC Brewing wasn’t open since we were rolling through on Monday they opened at 2pm, but we weren’t too broken hearted because Chelsea spotted a little gem on the corner, Historic Brewing Co. Very thankful for keen eyesight and being flexible with our schedule!
Side note: You can take the train from Williams, Az to the Grand Canyon… how cool would that be?!
A little map planning and beer tasting.
Oh wow! We have arrived! Since we were getting in around 2:30 we quickly geared up with Crampons, Trekking Poles, Headlamps ( just in case ), and layers. We took off down the Bright Angel Trail and each switch back produced more awe inspiring views.
We encountered a few individuals who had camped at the bottom of the canyon and told us that they had a great time! No snow and warmer temps at the bottom… good to know for next year!
After this amazing, lung and bunz burning hike we headed to meet up with our friends, find a camp site and have dinner! We decided to eat inside at their cafeteria ( don’t let the name fool you… it is really nice! ) Chels and I split the tamale dinner and had a few more local brewskis while our friends got soup and salad, they were very pleased with the salad bar selection!
We stayed at Mather campground which was empty and covered in snow. The bathroom was luxurious and heated. Since we didn’t have a shovel we chose to car camp and decided to wake up to catch the sunrise the next morning before heading to Page, Arizona.
Really LOVING my new camo camp mattress ( Thanks JER! )
Once we were settled into the back of Chelsea’s car we popped open the popcorn tin for a little dessert. Don’t worry, we did brush our teeth afterwards!
You may not believe this but until this trip I hadn’t been to Vegas… it just isn’t my steeze and after going to Vegas I can safely say I don’t need to go back. The drive from LA to Vegas is rather beautiful. Lots of snow capped mountains and even some cool art instillations.
We all love Food Network and thought it would be fun to check out Giada’s restaurant. Her menu looks great with lots of smaller dishes to try and share. My favorite was probably the side of broccolini… delish! I also enjoyed the Tangerine / Tequila drink.
Really amazing parmesan crackers. Can I get those to go?
I have been to NYC twice and still haven’t made it to Serendipity so when in Vegas we finally had a frozen hot chocolate! I reccomend sharing with friends as it is extremely rich and sweet.
I was beside myself when I saw this Dolly slot machine. If I was a gambling lady I think this machine would have brought me luck!
The Bellagio botanical garden was decked out for Christmas and while it was extremely crowded it was also really beautiful.
This Joker was a little creepsville.
We then hit the Chandelier Bar in The Cosmo. Ironically, my friend, Chelsea, had been telling me about a drink she tried with a flower that made her mouth numb…say what? Then, our waitress told us about a drink they have with this same flower. It was a really crazy feeling. I did a little research and the flower is called, Acmella oleracea. Super fascinating and I highly reccomend trying this flower if you get a chance.
Not your typical Christmas Day but it was fun to see the strip lit up (more than usual) and the fun Christmas decor.
I love a good adventure so when two of my friends asked if I was interested in a road trip to Zion/Bryce for New Years I gave a whole hearted yes. This is our second year doing a road/camping trip for NYE. Last year we went to Joshua Tree and it was amazing but this year we decided to do something a little more exploratory!
Check out our map below and feel free to add and use as you please!
We began our trip on Christmas Day, December 25 and made it home January 2.
I can’t quite fathom the beauty that we were able to experience but I am excited to share with you what we did so that it might encourage and spur you on to take your own trip. These places are magical in the winter, still fairly crowded, but if you go far enough on a trail you will find that it is much more desolate than the rim or valley.
Here are a few pics to wet your appetite and get you ready for the posts to come. I plan on breaking down each day so you can get an idea of our road trip itinerary and how we made our trip awesome.
A little planning and lot of ‘be here now’ moments made for a trip that has impacted my life and also has encouraged me to live life outside more this year. My mind, body and soul crave the outdoors and I feel so fueled and ready to kick start my 2017.