Zion National Park

Happy Friday! Here is part 2 of my trip and it was my favorite part. On Monday morning we woke up early and checked out of the yurt and headed to Zion National Park. The drive into the park was incredible and so pretty. Coming from that side we were able to drive through the mountain in a lonnngg tunnel. It’s hard to describe how amazing it is without seeing it in person. I highly recommend going to Zion if you’ve never been there. Adam and I kept joking the whole trip that there were so many people there who flew thousands of miles to see it and we have lived in Utah our whole lives and never been.

We chose to hike to Angel’s Landing first and we lucked out because the hike had been closed due to flash flooding and had only reopened that weekend. It is about 5 miles round trip and is not a hike for someone who is afraid of heights because about the last half mile you are holding onto a chain to get up there. There is a picture later of it.

We lucked out because the sun wasn’t hitting the backside of the mountain yet on the way up so it wasn’t too hot. It was really hot on the way back down and there is not a lot of shade cover. I personally would not suggest doing this in the middle of Summer. September was perfect because it wasn’t too crowded either.

This is at the very top with the amazing views.

There is that chain I was talking about. It wasn’t climbing like that the whole way up but I definitely felt better having the chain for stability.

There was a good stopping point where most people stopped before the chained part. There was only about a half mile left.

We made it to the top!

After hiking Angel’s Landing we went and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Bumbleberry Inn. They had a shuttle to the park right outside the hotel and they gave us free breakfast vouchers to a restaurant in the morning. To me, having free breakfast with the hotel is a pretty big plus. The rooms were really clean and our room was at the back of the hotel that overlooked the mountain.

For dinner we walked to Zion Pizza and Noodle Co. and had a delicious Thai Chicken Pizza. Adam and I were fighting over the leftovers when we got home.

The last morning we got up and headed into the park to hike the Narrows. You can rent shoes or waders in the park if you want because you will be walking through the rivers and getting wet. After recommendations from friends, we each took one trek pole and we bought neoprene socks off of Amazon and just wore tennis shoes that we were ok getting wet.

It can be about a 15-mile hike but we hiked about 3 miles in and stopped when the water was going to hit our waist. I had started getting cold from walking through cold water for 2 hours. But it was so fun! We couldn’t decide if this was more fun or if Angel’s Landing was.

Some people had no trekking poles and some had two. I liked having one hand free and then I would use the pole for stability walking over slippery rocks that you sometimes couldn’t see in the water.

Luckily, neither of us slipped and went all the way in! The pictures don’t do it justice because the rock walls went all the way up and we had to keep remembering to look up and see everything.

This trip was unlike anything I’ve ever done before and it was one of my favorite trips I’ve ever gone on. It was so beautiful and it’s hard to capture that in pictures so take my word for it! Adam and I both come from families that don’t do vacations like this which is totally fine but we were excited to get out and try something new like this. We have a national park pass for another year and we’re hoping to be able to see some of the other parks in Utah like Arches or Glacier National Park before it expires. I hope we keep going to new places and trying new things we’ve never done before together because it has been so fun breaking out of our shells like this!

Have a great weekend!

Bryce Canyon National Park

We spent two nights last weekend at Bryce Canyon National Park before we headed to Zion National Park. They’re only about 1.5 hours apart. We stayed in a yurt that we found through Airbnb and it was great! Hotels are expensive there and I think it was a cool experience. It still had full plumbing and electricity but it’s not really insulated so we had to turn on their space heaters in the morning. But it was really nice to be out in an open space. We saw an antelope right outside our window.

Our first night there we walked around the park a little and took in the views. They were pretty incredible.

The next morning, we had scheduled a tour through the canyon above on horses. It was about 4 hours long and totally worth the sore behind I had the rest of the trip. I don’t think we would’ve been able to see so much of the park if we were just walking around.

Stumpy was my horse and he minded me pretty well but Adam got Dandy and he was so stubborn! Kind of fitting because Adam is very stubborn. Every time Adam tried to get his horse to go faster, he would turn around and try and bite Adam’s feet. My horse must have eaten something bad the night before because he was passing gas the entire time and everyone could hear and smell it. I thought it was so funny especially because Adam was right behind us.

Shockingly, Adam and I took a lot of pictures on this trip compared to what we normally do! But I’m really glad we did since we both agree this has been one of our favorite vacations. I’ve been looking into making some Chatbooks and organizing my pictures. I’ll let you know how it goes if I do.

Come back on Friday and I’ll post about part 2 of our trip when we went to Zion National Park!

Xoxo, Steph

Steph’s Travel Necessities

I am in Zion National Park right now and I will post about it when I get back but since I was packing up, I thought I would tell everyone what my travel necessities are. I’m going to focus what would be in my carry-on if I was flying or what my bag would have on a road trip since they have a lot of the same things.

The first thing you need is a good sized tote. The one I’ve been using the last few times was actually a gift from my friend Alicia when I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. It’s great because she specifically gave it to us to use when we travel and it holds so much! It looks really shiny in the picture but it’s nylon so I think it’s the way the lights hitting it.

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  • I always freeze in the car or on planes so a comfy sweatshirt is a must. Mindy Mae’s Doublehood Sweatshirts have been my go-to hoodies lately. I want every single one so check them out. They can also double as a pillow if you need that.
  • A good chapstick or lip balm for when your lips get dry with the climate changes. You know I’ve been loving my Clinique Chubby Stick in Super Strawberry. Then I feel slightly put together when I’m likely dressed in sweats.
  • A water bottle or empty water bottle if you’re flying!
  • I’m an avid reader so I will always have a book ready on my Kindle Paperwhite or a normal book to read when I get bored. The Kindle is my preference because it takes up very little space and the battery lasts FOREVER.
  • Ziploc bags because you never know what is going to happen and you’re going to need them. I like to have a couple of sizes on me too.
  • Whether you’re flying or driving, it’s important to have headphones just in case you want to listen to music, podcast or to watch a movie. One thing I didn’t think about the last time I was flying was that Adam uses wireless Bluetooth headphones and he couldn’t use them to plug in and watch a movie on the plane. Luckily, I had my pair so he was able to use mine but it’s something I never would have thought about.
  • You never know when you’re going to need a breath refresher or to try and pop your ears so always buy a pack of gum.
  • I hate washing my hands and then having my hands feel dry so I always keep some lotion in my bag and especially if I’m traveling. I like to make sure it’s something I would feel comfortable putting on my face because sometimes with travel, it seems to dry up.
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This just made me laugh. I definitely do this if I’m going to a new place. It’s so hard not to!

Lake Powell

Hello! Sorry we’ve been a little MIA lately. Life got a little crazy and then I was at Lake Powell last week.

Lake Powell is probably my favorite place in the whole world to go and vacation. I grew up going quite often and then I went a few times in college with friends. It had been a while since I had been and last Christmas my parents surprised us all with a trip to Lake Powell! This lake is huge and the water gets pretty warm in the summer. With the water levels changing I feel like it looks different every time I go.

This trip definitely got off to a rocky start the first day but after that, it was pretty relaxing. We were just a little limited in what we could do. When we got there the water was a lot lower than it had been and as we were on the ski boat looking for a place to park the houseboat we hit a rock that you couldn’t see in the water going full speed. It jerked everyone pretty good and knocked the wind out of our friend Craig who graciously came with his wife and let us stay on his houseboat and use his ski boat. Craig was pretty sore the next few days and unfortunately, the boat started taking on water in the engine and when we pulled the boat out of the water you could see there was a hole in the bottom.

Luckily, my dad was able to rent another boat. It was just a lot smaller and more limited in what we could do. So we found a place to park the houseboat and tied it up for the night. There was also some steering and electrical issues that came up on the houseboat so the boys spent a lot of their day working on those. That night we did get some paddleboarding in. I was really excited to try this.

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I could barely stand up on the board at this point but by the end of the trip I could stand and paddle for a bit.

You can see the clouds rolling in and that was the start of the long night. A lot of us were planning on sleeping on top of the houseboat because you can watch the stars and it cools down very nicely at night. It started getting quite windy and then started pouring rain. We tried to move under the roof overhang but with the wind, the rain still hit us pretty hard. Most people moved downstairs but Adam and I just hid under our sleeping bags. It got so windy eventually the houseboat broke free. Craig very carefully drove the houseboat to a random person’s houseboat buoy for the night.

The rest of the trip was spent swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, going down the waterslide and playing games. The rental boat wasn’t great for tons of skiing or surfing so there wasn’t a lot of that but there were plenty of other things to do.

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Adam tried his hand at fishing and the last night he said he was going to fish all night if he had to and luckily he caught a fish pretty quick!

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Overall, I still had fun on the trip and Lake Powell is still one of my favorite places. I highly recommend you go if you ever have the chance. We had a lot of fun with family and the little kids. It’s also so pretty there and the rock formations are amazing. I wish I had more pictures of that.

Xoxo, Steph

Travel Tips: Where to Stay

One of the things I’ve always been in charge of during trips is finding where to stay. I love to find a really good deal for places that are going to be cute and comfy. While I know there are people that don’t care about where they stay during a vacation because the goal is to “spend all your time exploring”, I prefer to have a nice place to come back to so I can relax.

When I went to Hawaii three years in a row (and went for a week or two), people were a little shocked because they were wondering how I could afford a hotel in Hawaii for such a long time. Little did they know, I’m super big on research!

I find that if you’re only going to stay with one other person, it’s pretty much sixes as to whether you check hotel sites or sites like Airbnb because paying for two people is going to be about the same. But whenever you’re planning on going with a lot of people, these sites I’m going to talk about are the best!

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The Wyndham Bali Hai Villas we stayed at in Princeville, photo courtesy of Club Wyndham

One of my favorite places to look at when I’m trying to find a place to stay is Airbnb, especially if I’m going on a trip with a group of friends. Not only are there tons of people renting out their places through Airbnb but there are so many types to choose from! The last time I went to Hawaii, I went with 5 other people so we found a great Airbnb in Princeville on Kauai that had two bedrooms and three beds, as well as a kitchen and two bathrooms with showers. It was perfect!

Wyndham Airbnb

*Note: the pricing shown may be different than what I originally paid as prices fluctuate depending on dates.

We stayed 8 nights at this place and the total amount was $1550, which came out to only $258 per person for lodging for the entire trip! It was a great deal. That’s like one night at a 5-star hotel but we spent 8 nights in a gorgeous condo! It’s definitely worth checking out Airbnb.

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Kauai Beach Resort, photo courtesy of their website

Another website I swear by is VRBO. The first time we went to Hawaii, I wanted to make sure we were getting a great deal and it wasn’t going to be super expensive. There were only four of us on this trip. I found a hotel room at the Kauai Beach Resort that someone owned privately and was renting out. It had two beds, which was perfect for the 4 of us and allowed us to use all the amenities of the resort!

Kauai Beach Resort VRBO

Let me tell you what a great deal this was by breaking it down:
Currently, a room with two beds at the Kauai Beach Resort ranges from $329 to $619 a night. Pretty steep…
We got the deal of $95 a night (is your mind blown yet?) and paid a total of $528.70 for 5 nights! Divided by four people, we each paid $132.18 for lodging during that trip.

You guys have to check out VRBO because it’s honestly the best.

When I was growing up, my parents would always surprise us with last minute trips where we’d get home from school and they’d be like, “Hurry and pack, we’re going to San Francisco!” My little anxious heart doesn’t like surprises because I’m a legitimate planner but I’ve gotten better at this. Back then, people didn’t book rooms as much as they do now so my parents would just find a hotel and pay whatever rate it was.

Today, my parents still like taking spontaneous trips (like to the Hoover Dam or when we went to Seattle a couple months ago) but this time, I’m more prepared. We usually drive to these places so during the drive, I look through Expedia and see what I can find.

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Highland Estates Resort, photo courtesy of Hotels.com

When we went to the Hoover Dam, we left later in the day than we were planning so we were all exhausted by the time we were reaching Mesquite. We decided to stay there so when we passed St. George, I got on Expedia’s website and found a two-room suite at the Highland Estates Resort in Mesquite for $169.22. We only needed it for one night but my sister and I got our own room & my parents had their own (which helped with my dad’s snoring) and it had a kitchen and living room! It was super spacious and we wished we could have stayed longer.

Highland Springs Expedia

I used Expedia as well when we went to Seattle and found a brand new hotel that had only been open a week! It was awesome being one of the first people to sleep in a bed, let’s be real.

You can get really cool deals sometimes when you reserve hotels last minute although it’s a risk I don’t always love to take. Personally, I think you can find really awesome deals if you plan ahead but there are always options if you forget.

What are your favorite places to find hotel deals? If you end up trying any of these and LOVE it, let me know!

xoxo

Weekend Highlights

Hi everyone, it’s Steph here. This weekend, I went camping with my brother and sister and their families. We went up by Mirror Lake Highway that is up past Park City. I thought it was nice that about 20 minutes away, I lost service on my phone so I was forced to stay unplugged and be more present. I have a problem with that sometimes like I think a lot of people do.

Adam and I drove up on Friday night with my sister and hurried and set up our tent before it got dark. My brother was already up there and he has a trailer so everyone else slept in there. We aren’t huge campers but I try to have all of our gear organized into bins so we can pretty easily grab them and go minus whatever food and clothes we need. In one bin, we have the tent, air mattress, and some air pumps. Adam has this really cool tent that is made to be set up in his truck bed so you’re still sleeping off the ground and then there’s an air mattress made for the truck bed too so it’s a perfect fit. Anyways, in our other bin, it’s got our little camper stove, paper products, garbage bags, a lighter, etc.

Saturday morning, we woke up to my brother starting to cook breakfast for everyone. It warmed up pretty quickly so after breakfast, we walked down to the river. If I was warm up there, I can only imagine how hot it was down in Salt Lake.

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The water was pretty chilly but I get crazy hot feet so it felt awesome to me. The little kids got in and even my brother laid down in the water. I thought he was nuts to do that! It was so pretty up there and the skies were completely clear most of the time. We could see tons of stars at night too which was awesome since Salt Lake has been kind of muggy with all the wildfires.

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Adam and I both got new hiking boots last week for our trip to Bryce Canyon/Zion in a few months and he was breaking his in. His are so cool to me because he was just walking through the water in them and his feet didn’t get wet at all and yet they looked breathable! My favorite since my feet get so hot and I hate wearing shoes that require socks. So he was testing them out every time we went to the water.

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Later, we hung out at the campsite and relaxed for a while. I took a nap in the shade until we decided to go for a drive and see Mirror Lake. I wasn’t great about taking pictures there, unfortunately. My sister-in-law took a picture of Adam and I and it would’ve been really cute except of course my eyes are closed. I swear I do that all the time! Drives me nuts.

We came back for an early dinner and then played Jokers and Marbles until we all decided to go to bed. I was bummed that we weren’t allowed to have a campfire. I really wanted to make tin foil dinners and sit around the fire. I had even found a great post about some fun tin foil dinner ideas! You can find that here.

We packed up early Sunday morning and headed home to clean up. Even though I had fun this weekend, I think Adam and I realized that we are one night campers. I really enjoy showering every day and Adam has a hard time relaxing and just hanging out for too long. He’s definitely a busybody and needs to be doing something where I am perfectly content to just hang out and read a book. I am reading a great one right now that my sister recommended called The President is Missing. Has anyone read that one? If so, what did you think?

I hope everyone else had a great weekend!

Seattle

I just recently got back from a quick (and by quick, I mean quick) trip to Seattle over Memorial Day Weekend. My dad is a big fan of road trips and by total coincidence, I am not. But alas, here we are.

We left super late because my cousin’s graduation was at 3 and didn’t get over until 5 PM. Not to mention that the parking lot was an extreme mess and it took us another hour to even get out of there. To make a long story short, we didn’t leave until 7:45 PM.

My sister and I drive on road trips because if my parents did, we’d never get there. My sister was getting tired so I switched her and ended up getting PULLED OVER before I hit Boise. Suffice it to say, I didn’t drive the rest of the trip.

We spent one full day in Seattle before we had to make the (long) trip back so here’s what we did:

First and foremost, PIKE PLACE. This is not news to anyone that has heard of Seattle.

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Pike Place Fish Market was so fun! They basically put on a show and give you free samples of fresh crab. Win win.

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A must for all ladies is buying fresh flowers while you’re at Pike Place. They sell the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. I bought & carried around this gorgeous $10 bouquet for the rest of the day. No complaints here.

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We didn’t have time to go to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) and I’m still so upset about this but look at how cool the outside of their building is? #pinkvibes

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The Space Needle is a must. The views from there are amazing! The famous restaurant at the top was under construction so one of my goals is to go back and have dinner up there.

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We didn’t have time to catch a game but here’s where the Mariners play, Safeco Field. I would have included a picture of CenturyLink field where the Seahawks and Sounders play but folks, taking pictures while the car is moving is not great.

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After my parents were ready for bed (at 6 PM), my friend Albert, who lives in Seattle while he works for Amazon, took us to get ice cream and see some other last-minute must-see sights! This was the view from Kerry Park.

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This was all the way on the other side of the Space Needle at Gas Works Park! My phone did a little better here than at Kerry.

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And last but not least, do you remember this from 10 Things I Hate About You? I’m sure it’s been on other things too but this is the only reference my mind had. This is the troll on Fremont Street.

This trip was way too short for my liking so I will be back & will give you some better insights into the less touristy things to do. If you’ve been to Seattle or live there, leave a comment and tell us what we should do next!