Moab Camping … Put This Place On Your Bucket List

Hi friends,

Last Friday Chris took a half day from work and we took off in our little Matrix hatchback filled with camping gear to cover the approximately 5-hour trip from Denver to Moab, Utah. We would be camping with three other (way more experienced than we are, thank goodness!) couples, and they had all headed up the day or so before to grab us what turned out to be an amazing camp site in some backwoods area off the beaten trail.

So I wish I had been able to take some decent photos of the car ride out to Utah, because I think it’s safe to say the gorgeous scenery starts pretty much as soon as you hit the mountains on the way out, and only gets prettier and prettier. The five hours seriously flew by, since we were down in the depths of canyons, passing through arid desert, traipsing through small mountain towns …. basically it’s a breathtaking and incredibly entertaining ride the whole way.

But wahoe, my friends! It only gets prettier the second (and I do mean second) you enter Moab territory. Red rock canyons for as far as the eye can see. After about 10 miles of hairpin turns and rocky climbing which I wasn’t totally convinced Manny the Matrix could handle (and which she did, with aplomb), we made it to our camp site.

Behold our home for the four-day camping trip:

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_DSC0989^^ Meet the Avocado, the adorable little camper one of our camping companions purchased a few years back for $4 grand and remodeled into an adorable little compact camping van. Doesn’t she just seem like she belongs out there?

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_DSC1073^^ That’s our little Manny, next to the tent we had to borrow from my sister’s sister-in-law, since we currently have no camping gear to call our own. Thanks, Rachel!

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Tent_View^^ The view from our tent every morning. Le sigh.

Smores^^ Enjoying smores by the camp fire.

_DSC1080^^ Sunsets each night produced this halo effect on the surrounding canyons, making it appear as if they were lit on fire from some unknown, hidden source. Breathtaking.

_DSC1082^^ See!

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_DSC1128^^ On our last night we hiked up onto one of the closer canyons near our campground and had a fabulous 360-degree view of our campground and all of the surrounding area.

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_DSC1138^^ Gloriousness all around!

So now comes the adventure part of our little trip. I’ve learned a lesson here, my friends, and it’s this: When you’re traveling with friends who are all marathon runners, take whatever fitness level they tell you the upcoming hike you’re about to partake in will be and multiply it by 10, and you’ll start to come a bit closer to what an average person would call the strenuousness of said hike.

That’s not to say that had they accurately described any of the hikes, that I wouldn’t have gone on them, but it’s just something good to be aware of, going into such physical activities.

For our first hike on Saturday, I’d call it a moderately strenuous rock climb. The first portion (and therefore last as well) consisted entirely of climbing up pretty vertical rocks, which I actually don’t mind doing, believe it or not. The views, of course, were unparalleled. Here are photos from that first hike, called the Hunter Canyon Rim Trail.

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_DSC0992^^ Cactus makes sense in the desert, but we were even more surprised by some of the random trees and wildflowers that grew out from the rock, clay and dirt. How do they even manage to live there? Nature is amazing.

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_DSC0998^^ Spectacular canyon views.

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_DSC1039^^ Feelin’ pretty happy with myself, if I’m being honest ;)

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After our three-hour hike we headed into the town (which, by the way, is totally adorable) and had lunch at The Spoke on Center Restaurant. My house-made veggie burger was something spectacular (although to be honest, at that point I was so hungry I probably would have eaten dirt), and they’ve got lots of local beers on tap, too.

Here’s actually a nice place to segue into some of the craziness of Utah. In a state whose population consists of many, many Mormons, it only makes sense that some of these laws would involve drinking. (Take, for example, the fact that beers are not allowed to be poured in front of the general restaurant — all of that has to be done in a kitchen, away from the eyes of the people eating.) In addition to the drinking rules, though, come some doozies like the fact that husbands are responsible for the criminal acts that wives commit in their presence, it’s a felony to persistently walk on the cracks between paving stones on the sidewalk, and women are not allowed to swear in Logan, Utah.

Oh, and dancing is illegal in Saint George, Utah, as well.

Sheesh. There’s too much to love about the outdoors in Utah to care about their crazy rules, though, so moving on …

On Sunday we hiked what’s known as the Top of the World Trail — a consistently uphill 4-mile (although this link says 5, so guess somewhere in between) trek to some of the most spectacular views you’ll find anywhere, ever, in your life. Be warned, though …. this hike isn’t for the faint of heart. The entire time it took us to hike it (about 3.5 hours up and back), we never came across any other hikers. Everyone else was riding up on either 4-wheelers or in their Jeeps or such, although we did see a few mountain bikers who I think were just about as crazy as we were.

This hike is also not for those afraid of heights. I mean I guess it’s okay to do the hike, but you definitely shouldn’t look at the end view if you’re afraid of heights, and if you can’t do that, well let’s be honest, what’s the point. From the Top of the World you can see Titan Tower and Fisher Towers, as well as a whole big huge portion of Utah in all of its splendor. We had picked up some bagel sandwiches from The Red Rock Bakery & Net Cafe in town before heading out, so we housed those in about 10 seconds flat, took in the amazing scenery, and then made our way back down.

This was our reward after all that crazy hiking (which, I cannot lie, may have caused me to shed a tear or two in leg pain anxiety … totally worth it!):

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The next day we were up early to head out to Arches National Park. Since it was Memorial Day and we had been told this was one of the busier ones that people in town had ever seen, we were a bit worried that we might have to wait in line quite a while to get in, but lucky for us, the wait was only about 10 minutes before we could ride right in.

You can choose to drive all the way around the park, if you want, and you can even see Balanced Rock this way (pictured below), but the best thing to do is drive some and get out and hike a bit. You’ll have to hike about 3-miles roundtrip (which includes some pretty hefty uphill rock face climbing on the way there) if you want to see the Delicate Arch, but I would highly recommend doing this — it’s more than worth the leg pain …

_DSC1167^^ Balanced Rock from the road.

_DSC1190^^ And the big kahuna — Delicate Arch. See what I mean — how amazing?!

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_DSC1206^^ Be sure to take the short trail off the Delicate Arch path to see the Moab Indian Rock Art that dates back to the late 1800s. It’s amazingly cool.

And that was about it, my friends! A short but totally jam-packed and beyond amazing camping trip. We have to really, truly thank our friends from NY for inviting us and showing us the ropes. Moab is huge and intimidating and extremely free-form … and Chris and I both agree that we probably would have wasted a lot of time trying to find our way around a map on our first trip out had it not been for our friends. So thanks guys — and please feel free to invite us back on your yearly Moab camping trips any time!

Bis bald, my friends!

Moab Here We Come!

Moab_Views
Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! I hope everyone has awesome plans! While I must admit that the above photo is stolen from a friend’s Facebook page (thanks Joe!), Chris and I will soon be heading to Moab, Utah, to meet up with said friend, and a few others, for a long weekend of camping.

I haven’t been camping since … oh … I think maybe the summer before my senior year of college? Sheesh. Wish us luck, friends! I’ll be back Tuesday with a 52 Project Photo of Moab, I’m sure, and then a longer post on the trip later.

Bis bald, ya’ll!

Making the Most of Summer … Starting With a Trip to Arizona!

Hello Fossil Creek Canyon! I think I will visit you, thank you very much ...

Hello Fossil Creek Canyon! I think I will visit you, thank you very much …

Hi friends!

Welcome officially to summer! I must admit something that I realize makes me relatively unpopular — I normally hate the summer. (My husband is either laughing or shaking his head right now. We have a running joke that he’s going to count the number of times I complain about summer this summer. If you’re reading this husband: This doesn’t count …)

I know, I know. Summer means visits to the beach and sleeping under the stars and spending hours outside in the sun. Problem is … when you live in New York City, it can be hard to fill your summer days with these activities, and if you instead end up spending most of those summer days within the confines of this concrete jungle (Jay-Z’s words, not mine), those days are actually nothing short of hot, sweaty and stinky.

I’m sorry, but it’s true. I have no illusions of what the city is like in the summer.

So my solution to my souring mood in the summer is to plan lots of exciting trips for this year. Next weekend my sister and I are heading to Bradley Beach while my sister-in-law (who’s visiting with her boyfriend from Australia … a wahoooo!!!) are in Boston, and then Chris and I fly out to Arizona to visit an old friend of mine for the long July 4th weekend.

In fact, said friend just sent me and Chris the itinerary for our trip. It includes a 4 a.m. wake-up call on July 4th so she and Chris can run this race, followed by a barbecue and swimming and lounging about with drinks in-hand. Then on Friday we’ll be heading to Strawberry, AZ, to hike Fossil Creek Canyon. I’m beyond excited for this outing … I just hope I can keep up with those two, who are, let’s say, slightly more in shape than I happen to be at the moment. Dinner Friday night will be in Old Town Scottsdale, which sounds lovely as well.

Needless to say, starting the summer out with some trips planned outside of the city makes me able to look forward to this season a bit more than I have in past years.

And speaking of trips … Chris and I have started working on what could potentially be some very exciting travel news in the upcoming months. I’m not going to share here just yet, since we’re only in the very beginning stages of planning, but let’s just say … I really, really hope we can make it all work! Promise to share more details as soon as we know more about what we’re actually doing.

Okay bis bald, friends! Hope you all have some amazingly fun plans for the summer, as well!

Photo courtesy of turnuptherad

P.S. Isn’t the tune for the Jersey Shore ads quite catchy? I kind of love it–go visit the Jersey Shore!

The Excitement of Upcoming Travel

Hi friends!

Well we’re firmly into the second quarter of 2013 here, and it’s time for me to start getting excited about some of the trips we have planned for the rest of the year.

So let’s see. For starters, my in-laws will be making their way to the U.S. the week after next, and Chris and I will be heading to London with them to watch Chris run the London Marathon:

100_6027^^A little flashback to when Steph and I first visited London back in 2010

Then, Chris and I booked a trip out to Arizona to visit an old friend of mine for the weekend of July 4th. Neither one of us has been before, so we’re super excited. We’re going to go camping and hiking, and visit Lake Powell and Havasu Falls:

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September will be a big month for us, too. We’ll be heading to Australia to celebrate our wedding with Chris’s side of the family, and then taking a couple-day honeymoon to The Great Barrier Reef:

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^^A little memory from our last trip to Australia (written about here and here). That’s Shawn the Koala, the subject of my soon-to-written children’s book series. Seriously. It’s coming.

There will be another trip in September two weekends before Australia, but that’s super secret for now, as it’s a surprise trip in honor of Chris’s 30th birthday. Let’s just say—I’m super excited about it!

And that’s about it (for now)! Bis bald, friends! I’ll catch up with you again super soon …

A Camp Weekend at Rockywold, New Hampshire

Hi friends,

Okay, so this past weekend I headed upstate (it took us about 7 hours to get there, with traffic, on Friday!) to New Hampshire and Rockywold-Deephaven Campgrounds for my cousin Courtney’s wedding. The cabins and grounds here mostly surround the fabulous Squam Lake, which makes for an awesome time of fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.

Which is exactly what we did:

Our 3-bedroom cabin came with a huge living room (where I slept!), a fireplace, a bathroom with shower and separate toilet room, and a kitchen and porches. Fabulous.

Our parents cabin was on the lake

A doc in the backyard? Yes, please!

Squam Lake

Canoeing

So Friday night, after arriving a little after 7 in a car full of strangers (who, by the way, all turned out to be totally rockin’!), we all quickly changed and headed over to the area where the barbecue was being held. And although it would have been awesome, the only thing that we weren’t able to do because of the weather for the entire weekend was a bonfire on Friday. I don’t think anyone missed it.

The happy couple addressing their adoring friends and family

Then Saturday, after a morning of canoeing and swimming and sunbathing and hiking, we all started getting ready for the 3:30 p.m. ceremony.

Now, getting married outside can be tricky business, right? But let me tell you something, this weather was specially tailored for Courtney and Charlie last weekend. The ceremony, held right on the lake, was breezy and beautiful, sunny and fabulous. Then, just about everyone got to take photos outside before it started pouring down rain. And even then, when the rain came, it stopped again right before we all had to head out to the place where the reception was.

Personal touches—like wooden direction signs made by Courtney and this chalkboard with all the ceremony info on it—really made the day belong to the couple.

Where the magic happened

Guests without seats stood on the porch for the ceremony, and everyone enjoyed a beer during the service

The bride looked beautiful, in a short, fitted strapless dress and hot pink sandal

So overall, I have to say that this campground is a fabulous place to get married, to bring your significant other, and even to bring the family. The kids in our family who joined in on the weekend festivities couldn’t have been happier.

Bis bald, friends! And get out there and go camping this summer!

We’re Back From Camp!

Who doesn't love a great lake?

As you may or may not remember, I headed a bit up North this past weekend (six hours up North, to be exact) to New Hampshire and Rockywold-Deephaven Camp on Squam Lake for my cousin’s wedding. Well I’m back—and it was awesome! I haven’t had a chance to download photos yet (and unfortunately my camera batteries were acting up, so I don’t have that many photos at all), but I’ll tell you this much—there was hiking, and fishing, and lake swimming, and canoeing.

All in all, a pretty fun time.

More details to follow soon, friends!

Bis bald.

A Camp Wedding Tomorrow!

I'm off—to a camp wedding

Alright friends, I’m off tomorrow morning to Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in New Hampshire for my cousin Courtney’s nuptials. If we are lucky enough to get fabulous weather, it appears there will be a lot of drinking by the lake, smores, campfires, games, and general merriment all around.

Update and photos on Monday!

Have a great weekend, friends!