Zion – Angel’s Landing in Winter

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. zionnationalparkimg_2227

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. zionnationalparkimg_2230

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PC : John Thomas

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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.zionnationalparkimg_2243zionnationalparkimg_2249zionnationalparkimg_2254zionnationalparkimg_7679zionnationalparkimg_7681

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! zionnationalparkimg_7682zionnationalparkimg_7686zionnationalparkimg_7689

Someone even took the time to make a snowman!

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PC : Chelsea Thomas
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PC : Chelsea Thomas

Heading back down – on the way up this trail was full of people… now it is deserted.

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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!! zionnationalparkimg_7698zionnationalparkimg_7703zionnationalparkimg_8293

Felling really amazing after this hike!zionnationalparkimg_8298

Spotted some wildlife!zionnationalparkimg_2255

Now headed to Zion Mountain Ranch… our home for the next two days! Time to relax. zionnationalparkimg_2389

From Kanab, Utah to Bryce Canyon

What a beautiful view to wake up to! Driving out of the campground during sunrise was another one of those wow, beautiful, amazing moments. img_1973

Only 19 degrees, we sure got cold packing up our campsite! img_1976img_1979

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.

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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!

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Despite or maybe because of the crazy circumstances of the morning this breakfast was especially good!img_1983

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.

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We may have tried to dig out the car tires with our camp cups… Definitely needed a beer after that undertaking! img_1996

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When hiking in a Canyon you should always wear layers as it tends to be colder inside the canyon than hiking around it. img_2001img_2002img_2005img_2006img_2014img_2020img_2019img_2047

Once we hiked around the canyon we drove back out to the highway and made our way towards Bryce to catch the Sunset.

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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!

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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.

Grand Canyon to Horseshoe Bend

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! grandcanyonthumb_img_1724_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1727_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1733_1024

Don’t mind my sweatpants… we literally jumped out of our sleeping bags, packed up the car and bounced.grandcanyonthumb_img_1737_1024

Photo Cred to the random foreigner smoking a cigarette. Thanks.grandcanyonthumb_img_1739_1024

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.grandcanyonthumb_img_1743_1024

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.”

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P.C. : Chelsea Thomas

I look very bundled and it was cold but probably not that cold!grandcanyonthumb_img_7285_1024

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!

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P.C. : Chelsea Thomas
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P.C. : Chelsea Thomas

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.

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Information at one tour company.

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.

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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.

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Amazing!

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A photo of Laura taking a photo of Scott! 

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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.

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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.

From Vegas to the Grand Canyon

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.grandcanyonthumb_img_1596_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1607_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1606_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1603_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1602_1024

A stop in Williams, Arizona will drop you to two… that is right… two, Arizona based Breweries. Historic Brewing Co and Grand Canyon Brewing.

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!

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Side note: You can take the train from Williams, Az to the Grand Canyon… how cool would that be?!grandcanyonthumb_img_1617_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1616_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1621_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1618_1024

A little map planning and beer tasting.grandcanyonthumb_img_7210_1024

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.grandcanyonthumb_img_1643_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1652_1024

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!grandcanyonthumb_img_1672_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1698_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1702_1024grandcanyonthumb_img_1714_1024

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! )

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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!

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A trip to close out 2016 and welcome 2017!

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.

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Trip Planning over beers at Historic Brewing in Williams, Az
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A view of the Canyon while hiking the Bright Angel Trail.
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Photo of Navajo Nation Flag by Chelsea Thomas
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Parking Lot Party
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Horseshoe Bend… more magical than all the insta posts!
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Off road slot canyon adventure
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Sunset at Bryce Canyon
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Zion National Park

Pretty special, right?!

A Wedding Weekend in New Awlins

A few weeks ago I had the immense pleasure of going to New Orleans to be a part of my best friends wedding!

This was my first trip to New Orleans and it won’t be my last…might be last time in August…the humidity is real.

We stayed at the Hotel Provincial which had a great location for heading out to the French Quarter. Friendly staff, quaint courtyard and one of the most haunted places. I fortunately did not encounter any ghosts while we were there. The bar on site was really fun and had one of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever had.

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One of my favorite things about New Orleans is the beautiful buildings and plants.img_9407img_9408

My friends wedding took place at Muriel’s, right here on the Balcony outside. The day of the wedding was perfect. By far my favorite part of the day was the Second Line Parade. I loved the experience of celebrating their commitment with a parade around Jackson Square and down Bourbon Street. img_9409

No trip to NOLA would be a trip without hitting Cafe Du Monde. We came here daily and I miss their strong chicory coffee and sweet sweet beignets.img_9410img_9411img_9414img_9416img_9417img_9418

Jax Brewhouse is a fun place to stop and grab some go cups for the road. img_9420img_9422img_9423img_9426

Bourbon Street was pretty quite at this time of day/year and I can’t imagine being here on Mardi Gras or Halloween! img_9427

A must visit is the Carousel Bar & Lounge – fun experience and great cocktails.img_9428img_9436img_9438img_9439img_9440

We went to Domenica for their Rehearsal Lunch and the food was really amazing – fresh local flavors were paired with delicious wines.img_9442img_9444img_9445img_9446img_9449img_9451img_9454img_9457img_9459img_9460

Not photographed was our time spent on Frenchmen Street, I had so much fun dancing on the street to amazing musicians. It was such a cool experience to hear such great music at every corner. The Frenchmen Art Market is a must hit – unique, one of a kinda art, photos and craft.

I absolutely loved New Orleans and would love to go back and explore more.

 

TRI-rrific weekend in Malibu

I am currently coming down from the high of an amazing weekend!

Two of my best friends were competing in the Nautica Malibu Tri  and being the good friend that I am I decided I would join them to cheer em’ on! Didn’t hurt that it was taking place in a beautiful spot.

We had the fortune of staying in my friends parents airstream at Malibu Beach RV Park. They had the spot booked for months but it seemed that there were many open spots.

The park was very clean ( probably the nicest camp bathroom I have ever seen )  and we met really friendly people!

They have nice hiking trails near the park that we used to hike down to Malibu Seafood as well as the beach and up to a peak for sunset views.

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Here was the Tiny Tin set up! Amazing people and a great view set the backdrop for the best weekend. img_9931

I have been on the side lines of a few Tris before by chance but have never watched any friends compete. It was such a fun experience to walk around to the different areas to wait for your friends to race by! We lucked out and were able to see them compete in every leg of the race.

Here is their section getting ready for the swim! The ocean was super bleak at 8 am.

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Bikes, on bikes on bikes.

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Really awesome sand sculpture.img_0009

We caught them before the race!img_0011

Here they are ready to go! img_0013

Laura got the top box for her age group! It was PRICELESS to witness my best friend do so well. img_9977

What is a race without post race grub?!! Loved Malibu Seafood! It is so fresh and our fav… BYOB!

Fear not the 76 station .5 miles away will have beer if you ran out!img_9988

A WELL deserved post race BREWSKI!img_9993img_9996img_0001img_0004

Also noteworthy but not photographed was Sunlife Organics  – amazing backstory, great products and delicious fresh juices and foods!

Head to A-town for some great grub!

To continue on with a little Central Coast Lovin’ we head up North to Atascadero. You might be saying Atasca-what?? For starters …it is a little town nestled between Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Now, I am not the biggest expert on Atascadero but I will say if you are there for any reason and you need to eat stop into Dan’s The Grub Shack. Super friendly staff and I think the food speaks for itself.

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Everywhere we go my Dad only gets WINGS… I told him he needs to start a blog and share his favorites!

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Looking at these pictures makes me wish I was back in Atascadero feasting on their amazing grub!

Santa Breezy

A little over 24 hours in Santa Barbara and you are left wanting more, trying to find a way to get back to this little slice of coastal heaven. I am no stranger to Santa Barbara as I grew up about two hours North but this was my first rendezvous as a post 21 year old…shameful I know! On this particular weekend the weather was perfect and I had the most amazing guide who showed me the best time, thanks Baby Krause!

We began the day with breakfast downtown and then headed to Montecito for a little hike and beach time!

We lazed on the beach for a while before renting some paddle boards. Gazing up at the coastline and foothills/mountains ( prob foothills – I don’t think they have mountains ) was truly breathtaking and I thought to myself ‘What a lucky life’ moments that are simple but beautiful really make you appreciate what you have and for myself contentment with the life I have created for myself.

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No trip would be complete with out a little brewery hopping and while SB has a ways to go before they are a beer destination ( def more options for winos) I enjoyed sampling what they had to offer while working on my sun burn ( sorry future self! ).

Pure Order is a fun spot with games as well as live music and a food truck on a Saturday afternoon. img_9337img_9338

After we spent some time at Pure Order we walked to the Funk Zone and tried Brass Bear. I tried their beers as well as one rotating tap that was really delicious.img_9342

At this point it was high time for some grub so we ordered a meat and cheese plate it was satisfying and helped us make it to dinner time! img_9346

Right across from Brass Bear is Municipal Winemakers tasting Room. Fun decor and great outdoor space. I hear their Rose is amazing but on this fine day it was sold out so we opted for the Bright White – cool, crisp and so refreshing!img_9348img_9349img_9350img_9354

If you haven’t been to Lilly’s Taqueria head there – now – or at the very least make an effort to hit it when you are in Santa Barbara. I am pretty sure all they do is Tacos and they do them really well. img_9392img_9358

No weekend in Santa Barbara would be complete with some wheel action. They have fun little beach boardwalk where you can blade which is my favorite pastime and something I don’t get to do enough since I am living in Oakland… not too many blading trails… img_9363

Finally, to close the weekend we hit up a hybrid bar coffee shop and got the most delish cold brew. Melissa had the smartest idea of doing half/half sweetened cold brew and unsweetened cold brew. Such a genius idea!img_9365img_9366img_9367img_9369

SO sad to leave and can’t wait to go back!

Snapshots this Week

Went to Mamacita’s Cafe in Uptown for the first time and can’t wait to go back! Delicious coffee and great mission!IMG_7129

Driving from the bay to my parents house on the central coast makes for amazing views! Sometimes you have to pull over and snap it up. IMG_7149

I am going to guess that you haven’t been to Parkfield, Ca. They have a population of 18 and claim to be the earthquake capital of the world… if that isn’t enough to get you to head over the cafe has in the top two best burger I have ever had… The first being from The Hitching Post in Buellton. IMG_7151

Fun bar stool!IMG_7152

The reason for heading to Parkfield last weekend was their Annual Bluegrass Festival. It was the best festival experience I have ever had and I hope we make it a yearly tradition.IMG_7167IMG_7161IMG_7166

Weekday lunch with my Dad and I am oh so thankful for moments like this together.IMG_7180