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Destinations Utah

Sand Hollow | Utah

The desert is a curious place. If you ever find yourself in a deserted place, away from wifi and cars, stop and listen. Do you hear the wind gently moving the smallest grains of sand? Do you hear unseen creatures calling to one another? The sun shines relentlessly, knowing you can’t hide. How could you? You’re in the desert after all. Even the shade produced by a nearby tree withers away within itself, surrendering to the sun. Soon enough you start to wonder if you’re seeing things. What was so simple at first – a pile of sand, rocks, and miscellaneous desert plants – soon becomes intriguingly complex.

On our way to Zion National Park, we spent some time in Hurricane, Utah. Alex was still working remotely, so he took advantage of our hotel’s wifi and air conditioning while I explored the area. I kept seeing a sign just across the street for Sand Hollow State Park, and eventually curiosity got the best of me. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I parked the car. Was this a mirage? Rich hues of blue and the brightest orange sand I’ve yet to see fought for my attention. Here, in the middle of the desert, was a beautiful reservoir. There was no one else around except for the worker inside the rental shop who told me it wasn’t high season so I had it all to myself.

I took some photos and enjoyed the scenery, but eventually the sun won, and I went back to our hotel room for water and rest. After telling Alex about it, we decided we would go back later that day when it cooled down. When we arrived, a family of 5 had rented a boat and were inner tubing. We also decided to go in for a dip, and kept yelping and laughing at how slimy and strange the sand felt in between our toes. We floated on our backs and watched as the desert around us transformed from warm fiery hues to shades of cool blue. Wispy clouds became thicker, covering the fading sky. It was truly beautiful.


I haven’t added or intensified any of the colors on these images. What you see is exactly what my camera and iPhone picked up, except for the slight vignette.

If you ever find yourself on your way to Zion and want to stop by Sand Hollow for some fun, you can rent boats, jet skis, and ATVs for the dunes 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Camille

 

Arizona Destinations Hiking Outdoors

Grand Canyon Sunset | Arizona

Hey there! It’s been a while since we’re last talked, hasn’t it? If your last couple of months were anything like ours it probably included a lot of festivities, running around, staring at at a calendar with a confused expression wondering how another week just sped by, making lists, checking them twice. You know the drill.

If this is your first time stopping by our little corner of the internet, welcome! If you’ve been here before, we’re glad to see you again, friend 🙂 Before we jump right back into the swing of things I wanted to give you a short update on what we’ve been up to.  Alex got the opportunity of a lifetime to work on the beautiful Central Coast of California, and for the last month we’ve been living the dream in the most adorable city we’ve ever lived in. Just because we have a permanent address, it doesn’t mean we don’t still have beautiful places to show you. I still have pictures from Arizona, Colorado, and Hawaii that I can’t wait for you to see! I hope they inspire you to spend more time outdoors enjoying this beautiful Earth we get to call home. Also, in a couple of weeks we will be going to Canada, needless to day there will be more nature pictures (and hopefully more doughnuts). And finally, we live in the land of romantic rolling hills, vineyards, and ocean sunsets, and I look forward to exploring every nook and cranny and posting them here for you to see and maybe even add to your travel list.

As a celebration of the first post of the year, here are some pictures of the Grand Canyon at sunset. On the day we took these we weren’t expecting to go see the Grand Canyon until the next morning, but our GPS surprised us and took us through the park at sunset on our way to our hotel. The sky was incredible, and the colors on this screen don’t do justice to the shades of fiery red, smoldering orange, and cotton candy pink that streaked the sky that night. We parked the car and ran through the park like two kids at a candy store. The wind was harsh and cold, sending away most of the tourists back to their warm rooms and leaving the viewing area almost all to ourselves. I hold this memory near and dear to my heart because it was my first time ever seeing the Grand Canyon, and I can’t imagine a more stunning way to experience it. If you’ve ever seen it in person you know what I’m talking about. You can’t help but feel connected to the Earth and humbled that you got to see something so beautiful with your own two eyes. Without further ado, here they are.


Thank you for reading! We can’t wait to see you again soon.

Keep exploring,

Camille

Destinations Sips & Bites Uncategorized Utah

Salt Lake City Sweets

Let’s talk about sweets. There are three types of people that eat out: those who order their meal and don’t leave room for dessert, those who order their meal and split dessert with someone, and those who order dessert AS their meal. I’m not ashamed to admit to being the latter. I used to have a naggy little voice in my head that would say silly things like “maybe you should order a salad first”, but honestly, why pay $15 for a salad when I can eat that at home? Can I get an amen?! Life is short, order the cheesecake.

Salt Lake City’s variety of sweets was the perfect excuse to indulge in some afternoon cappuccino and pastries. Usually I’d be exploring the nearest doughnut shop, but after typing “pastries” in yelp I realized that there were going to be some gems in SLC that I had never heard of. Before we talk about those, let’s start with the familiar, shall we?

Banbury Cross Donuts – I came here on a quest to get their blueberry cake or strawberry glazed doughnut, but when I walked in through the door almost all the flavors were sold out. Did it mention it was only 10 am? The interior of the shop is simple and unassuming, so I knew people weren’t coming here for the ambiance –these little morsels of fried dough were going to be tasty. The selection was limited at that time, all they really had left was the typical fare (sprinkles, glazed, old fashioned, etc) but I managed to find a cinnamon crumble doughnut that looked really promising. It was REALLY covered in cinnamon and brown sugar, so beware if you are really sensitive to spicy foods, besides that it was the perfect fall flavor. I also told the worker it was my first time there, and she gave me a free rainbow sprinkle doughnut. If you’re in town and are looking for a little adventure in your doughnut, I would definitely recommend this place, just make sure you come early 🙂

Vosen’s Bread Paradise – This small German bakery was a little slice of Europe. Walking in, I was instantly drawn to the fresh baked pretzels, spezi sodas, and every type of Kinder chocolate under the sun. After reminding myself to keep my eyes on the prize, I ended up getting what I came here for: the maple croliner. Have you heard of the latest cronut craze (the perfect offspring between a croissant and a doughnut)? Well, this is similar to that, but better. The croliner is filled to the brim with fresh, authentic Bavarian cream, and even though the exterior is rolled in sugar and topped with a maple glaze the sweetness was never over the top. This was the freshest cronut-ish pastry I have ever had. Not a big fan of maple? No problem. They also serve chocolate croliners.

Les Madeleines Cafe & Patisserie – Walking into Les Madeleines, I knew exactly what I was going to order. The internet was raving about something called “Kouing Aman”, and being the curious cat that I am I had to go try it. Moment of honesty: I definitely sat in my car by myself trying to find the right pronunciation for “Kouing Aman”. Was is it QUEEN-AH-MOHN, COO-ING AH-MAN?!? Who knows. I ended up just tapping against the glass with my finger and saying “one of these please”, and it worked! Sitting at my table, I stared at the small, funny-looking, too expensive pastry I just ordered and thought “this better be worth it”. I took one bite, closed my eyes, and made some strange sound that made the lady next to me look over her shoulder. My bad, I wasn’t expecting to be tasting heaven today. Actual pastry heaven; pure, buttery, caramelized sugar, moist perfection. The inside of the Kouing Aman is SO moist and delicious, a perfect contrast to its slightly flaky, crunchy, bronze exterior. I found myself taking smaller bites the closer I got to finishing it because I didn’t want the deliciousness to end. I wish I could forget the perfect sweet flavor of this incredible pastry so that I wouldn’t crave it anymore, but alas, life is cruel. There’s a reason why Les Madeleines has a limit of 10 Kouing Amans per customer. If you want to walk all that sugar off when you’re done, the Salt Lake City and County Building is right across the street, and it has a park and outdoor fountains for the enjoyment of the public.

Have you found something delicious on your travels that you wish you could have an endless supply of? Let us know what it is and where to get it on the comment section below. We love trying new things! Thanks for reading.

Bon Apetit,

Camille

Arizona Destinations Hiking Outdoors

Antelope Canyon

Our trip to Antelope Canyon was one of the highlights of our trip. My favorite part is how everything came together last-minute since we weren’t originally planning on visiting it. After our hopes of getting two permits to hike to Havasu Falls (if you’ve never heard of this place, please Google it. I’m sure it will be added to your “bucket list”) were crushed, we got in the car and started driving towards Colorado. “Hey, I remember seeing some beautiful canyons somewhere on Pinterest, I think they’re here in Arizona”, I casually mentioned as we drove through miles of desert. After pulling up a few pictures on our phones, and seeing that it was on the way to our next destination we were stoked! 

If you’re making plans to visit the canyons be warned that you can only get in with a tour company. A quick yelp search will give you many options to choose from. We opted for the Dixie Ellis Lower Antelope Canyon Tour, since they send out groups every 15 minutes, and most places were sold out or ridiculously expensive. To enter the Native American land you will have to pay for a “permit” per person, and this money does not go towards your actual tour. Bring cash since they don’t take cards and the nearest ATM is a good 15-20 minutes away. You’re in the middle of the desert after all.

My first glance as we were going into the canyon is one I’ll never forget. Smooth sandstone walls curving and swirling, almost like waves, created a beautiful maze leading deeper into the earth. Even though I was aware that the place was filled with tourists, it never really felt that way. The canyon is narrow is curvy enough to create different “rooms” as you make your way to the other side.

Do you see the face on that last picture? Some people call this wall “The Chief”.

This place is breath-taking, so serene and surreal. Every once in a while, the wind will blow over the canyon and shower you with the lightest dusting of sand. Depending on what time of day you’re visiting, the sand will show you the slivers of light shining into the canyon. Simply beautiful.

Never stop exploring,

Camille

Destinations Utah

Red Butte Gardens | SLC

Oh, Monday, please be kind to us today. Do you ever start your week feeling like you need a weekend after your weekend? We have driven a total of 20 hours in the last two days, and today is going to be another (at least) 6 hour-drive day. I’m currently in a coffee shop for an hour while Alex takes an important work call from our car. Our over-packed, muddy, has-anyone-seen-that-apricot-bar-I-dropped-yesterday car. Sigh. The glamorous traveling life.

In case anyone else just finished a hectic weekend, I wanted to share some pictures I took back in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago. It had been a busy week, and I needed somewhere quiet and green, somewhere I could hear my own thoughts, take a deep breath, and eat a bar of chocolate without having to share. Don’t judge 😉

Have you ever traveled somewhere and thought, “I wish ___ was here, they’d love this place”? That’s how I felt when I visited Red Butte Gardens. Walking through the lush gardens made me miss my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. As I sat on the benches under the swaying branches, I imagined how much they’d like to take a break from work schedule, child-rearing, and house cleaning to join me. So today I’m dedicating this post to these 3 wonderful women in my life. I learn so much from you 3, and I’m so thankful I get to call you family. I love you, and I’ll be seeing you soon. Maybe not underneath a swaying tree in Red Butte Gardens, but hopefully just as relaxing.

Here’s to us, Monday survivors; over-caffeinated and pushing through.

Until next time,

Camille

 

Destinations Sips & Bites Utah

Ritual Chocolate | Park City

Fall’s in full swing. The leaves have changed, the weather’s getting cooler, and pumpkin-spice has been infused into everything from lattes to deodorants (Someone, please stop this madness). I have found that few places are more beautiful than Park City during autumn. One day, as I was looking for a warm drink and coffee alternative to enjoy while on a walk, Yelp led me to Ritual Chocolate Factory. Don’t let the word “factory” fool you, this place is small, cozy, and owned by locals. They pride themselves in their knowledge of chocolate beans and ability to bring out its true flavor profile without the overwhelming sweetness that is so common nowadays.

Before you pick your poison, try out all the free samples against the wall. The workers there are  sweet and friendly and will encourage you to try all the flavors. When you’re done, you can pick your favorite and have it melted and blended into one of the many drink options they have available. So delicious! The bars are a little pricey, so I went with the sipping chocolate, which I’m pretty sure is just straight-up melted chocolate magic in a pretty cup. If you want to make a day out of it, check out their website for their factory tour times. One fun idea is getting a hot drink to go and taking the short drive to downtown to enjoy it. Either way, stop by this little gem for all your chocoholic needs 🙂

Did that last picture of the melted chocolate being poured into a cup make your heart beat a little faster? Yeah, me too. I can tell we’re going to be friends.

Happy fall y’all,

Camille

Destinations Hiking Oregon Outdoors

South Sister

When Alex and I went to Atlas for some delicious ciders, we had just finished our hike at Smith Rock. The bartender overheard us talking about it and asked, “have you been to South Sister yet?” That was all it took, challenge accepted. Immediately, we pulled out our phones to look at the size of the mountain. After checking out the altitude, different terrains, and clear views from the top we were sold.

The next morning we packed up, and up we went! We didn’t know this was Oregon’s third highest mountain, and it would have been a good idea to train more since we came from California sea level and were about to attempt reaching a 10,000 ft. summit. The whole trail added up to 12.5 miles round trip, but starting from the parking lot across the street adds an extra mile to the hike. If you’re planning on attempting this, bring LOTS of water, high calorie energy snacks, salty foods, wear good shoes, and apply that sunscreen like there’s no tomorrow. Hiking poles (I wish we’d thought of it beforehand) will make you way more comfortable and confident, especially on the steep downhill on the way back. You can pick some up at your nearest sporting goods store, or even at Walmart for $20. It’s worth it, I promise. Just ask my sad, squished, toes.

South Sister looks deceivingly less threatening from the road. The first few miles were nice and smooth, being shaded by trees with rolling inclines. Eventually, we started feeling the elevation, and the views were beautiful.

Reaching the glacial lake was beautiful, I didn’t know water could be that shade of turquoise. When Alex and I took a break before that last stretch, we smiled and said “we’re almost there! It won’t take long at all.” Hahaha… HAHAHAHAHA. Be warned, the last mile and a half are the hardest. We practically were hiking uphill in sand and loose rocks. Burn baby burn.

After catching our breath for a while, we did a victory dance at the top. I was in complete awe, not expecting to see ice and snow coating the top. It felt like we were walking on the moon.

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Beautiful mountains, fresh air, my best friend, my heart is full.

Never stop exploring,

Camille

Destinations Hiking Oregon Outdoors

Smith Rock

When I first learned that Bend, Oregon, was high desert, I was expecting 3 weeks of sand and cacti. Imagine my surprise when I saw that  it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful and lush forests I have ever seen, not to mention all the lakes nearby and the Deschutes River that runs right through downtown. Exciting, right? But I also felt a little lied to, I mean, what even qualifies the area as “high desert”? To me, Smith Rock is the answer to all those questions I was too embarrassed to ask the locals. Take a look:

From far away, Smith Rock looks like a solid mountain, but up close we were able to see that it’s actually made up of many different formations, with rivers and canyons spread throughout it. Alex told me he’d found us a “fun little hike”, so we packed our camelbaks and up we went! It wasn’t until the end that I found out the trail was named “Misery Ridge”. Don’t let the name scare you away, though! It’s only about a 4 mile loop with a 1,000 feet elevation gain.  Pack lots of sunscreen! We had perfect cloud coverage that day, but I can see it getting toasty during the summer months.

If you’re into rock-climbing, this place was crawling with climbers and fun routes! While hiking up, Alex and I seriously regretted not bringing our gear. See if you can find the climbers in the second picture :

The views from the top are spectacular! For the first time, I was able to see just how many mountains there were in the area. We were also greeted by some beautiful trees (SHADE!), and the perfect spot to re-hydrate and enjoy the fruit of our hard work.

The way down is as beautiful as the way up. I kept finding myself putting my camera away only to take it out again a minute later. This trail took us way longer than it should have because we were both so snap-happy, but it was absolutely worth it. No need to rush, can I get an amen?


Smith Rock, thanks for the fluffiest cloud show I’ve ever experienced!

If you want to hike Smith Rock without the 1,000 feet elevation gain, there’s a trail that will take you along the perimeter of the rock. It’s also shaded and remains pretty flat throughout. Keep your eyes on the trees, we spotted quite a few wild Bald Eagles. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures because I was in jaw-dropping awe and feeling extra patriotic. ‘MERICA!

 

Never stop exploring,

Camille

Hiking Outdoors Utah

The Wild Bison of Utah

Antelope Island State Park is one of ten islands in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. As soon as I heard they had free-roaming bison, I packed my bag and headed out the door, hoping I’d get to see them up close and personal (but not too close).

There’s nothing like seeing wildlife in its natural habitat. There are no fences, there are no limits to the possibilities. I was in their turf — a dangerous and captivating notion. If they wanted to chase me, they could. If they wanted to run from me, they could. Instead, we both found harmony, and I was able to capture these images from a nearby trail. It’s moments like these that make me feel an overwhelming appreciation for nature and all of its serene beauty. I could have sat on that rock all day watching the bison eat, scratch their head on their favorite rock, and play with each other.

I hope they make you feel as peaceful as I did while I took them. Enjoy the pictures 🙂

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Until next time,

Camille

 

Destinations Oregon

Exploring Downtown Bend

You know how when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, and people tell you to go to your happy place? Bend is my happy place. When Alex and I first started planning this trip, we knew we both wanted to be spending 2 to 4 days at a time in each city — Bend was the exception. Life in Orange County was as beautiful as it was hectic, and we both found ourselves needing an “OC detox”. Thankfully, three weeks in Bend was just what the doctor ordered. Here is a little glimpse at some of our favorite parts of downtown. We’ll have separate posts about our favorite nature areas, because let’s be honest, the lakes, rivers, and mountains were our favorite things about Bend!

1. Breweries

Not only is this city the home of Deschutes Brewery headquarters (shout out to Black Butte Porter fans), but the whole town is bursting at the seams with delicious breweries. 10 Barrel, located just a few minutes from downtown, was my favorite place to bring friends who came to visit us during our stay. I’ll be honest and admit that a huge part of that reason was their bacon-jalapeno mac & cheese as well as their S1NISTOR Black Ale. Typing that last sentence just made me drool a little.  Each brewery had its own personality, both in décor and brews, so we never felt bored or like we’d already seen all there was to see. Crux was another really fun place to grab a drink and watch the sunset. There were usually live bands playing in their outdoors grassy areas under twinkling lights. It was great seeing people of all walks of life, from new parents with wiggly toddlers to retired friends, all coming together and sharing the communal-style tables.

2. Deschutes River

The beautiful Deschutes River runs right through the heart of downtown, and there are many trails along the way that cater to bikers, runners, and walkers. Both sides of the river are lined with lush trees and gorgeous homes. Some areas, such as Drake Park, are open to the public for swimming, paddle boarding, and inner tubing.

3. Shops

This is the most diverse collection of shops I have ever seen in a small downtown. Although a huge part of Bend’s DNA is sports and breweries, it’s easy to find stores that go beyond that. Look past the big Patagonia store and bike shops, and you’ll find stylish home décor, the funky “Wabi Sabi” Japanese store, art galleries, and stylish boutiques, such as Faveur.

4. Art Alleys

Have you ever walked through a downtown and sped up your pace as you passed an alley? Me too. If you’re a woman, you’re probably familiar with running through self-defense scenarios in your head and trying to remember how to use your car keys as a weapon. Bend has the friendliest alleys, and I mean that in every way. The city has taken the time to install beautiful art pieces as well as twinkling lights to many of the alleys. Grab a scoop of gelato or a chai to-go and spend some time admiring this free art show.

5. Festivals

The people of Bend sure know how to celebrate! There’s always a festival of some sort going on or coming up. During our stay, the Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Festival was happening downtown. For a small fee, we were given taster glasses and 8 wooden coins that functioned as the currency. In order for breweries to be a part of the festival, they needed to have at least one barrel aged beer to offer, hence the name. The fun part was that those beers were especially crafted in small batches for this event, meaning that the only people who were ever going to taste it was us, the attendees. My favorites were the whiskey-barrel aged ciders, they tasted like autumn. Move aside pumpkin-spice, there’s a new cool kid in town.

6. Local Businesses

There’s some serious local business love going on in Bend! Every week there are farmer’s markets, both downtown and in other parts of the city, selling local produce, baked goods, jams, cookies, and all that is good in the world. I bought some cherry tomatoes for a salad, and they were the juiciest and sweetest tomatoes I have ever tasted. I kept saying “these taste like candy”, while passing them around to my friends and husband to make sure my taste buds weren’t hallucinating. The downtown businesses also participate in something called “First Friday Art Walk”, where place paintings and photography by local artists all over their walls for people to enjoy with a complementary glass of wine and appetizers. We met some really nice business owners during the walk, and the free wine was a great way to start the weekend.

7. Tin Pan Theater

I don’t know how my husband found this place, but I’m so glad he did. Tucked away in an alley is a really small theater that plays mostly indie films and documentaries. Alex used to do alpine climbing before he got married, and when he heard that Tin Pan was playing Meru, he was really excited about us seeing it together. Be warned that if you want to watch a movie here, you better come early and wait outside until the doors open (usually 30 minutes before a showing). The inside of the theater only holds about 30 people, so it’s really cozy. You can get a beer or cider for the show along with a champagne bucket filled with popcorn, making it a really unique experience. We highly recommend it!

If you don’t mind driving a little bit out of downtown, here are some other parts around Bend we really enjoyed:

1. Alpacas in Crescent Moon Ranch

Crescent Moon Ranch isn’t technically in Bend, it’s in Terrebonne, but if you’re on your way to check out Smith Rock and you have kids or an animal-loving wife with you might as well stop by. You can buy a bag of Alpaca food for a few bucks and hand feed them! The males in the back of the barn are the friendliest!

2. Old Mill District

The Old Mill District is the place to shop at if you’re looking name brand for stores. It’s located in what used to be an actual mill, so the historical aspect of it seemed appealing to my mall-fearing husband. The Deschutes River runs right alongside it, and you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and inner tubes that will float you all the way to Drake Park near downtown. Once you get there, a city shuttle will drive you back to your rental place. Also, if you happen to be in town while they’re doing concerts at the venue right across the river, you can make a reservation at one of the many restaurants and eat outdoors while hearing the show from a distance.

3. Lava River Caves

I can now say that I have been inside a lava tube. What a wonderfully random place to visit! You’ll see a lot of sharp volcanic rock surrounding the cave area, but the inside is very smooth and easy to walk on. Bring a light sweater and flashlights and you’re set to go. If you want, you can also rent a giant flashlight at the info center in the parking lot. You get to hike a mile in and a mile out, easy peasy. My favorite thing was seeing families come in with toddlers wearing light up shoes (so they wouldn’t lose their child), and other parents who would carry a flashlight and turn them off it the kids were wandering too far ahead (that way the kids had to stop walking because they couldn’t see). So clever.

4. The High Desert Museum

If you’re curious about the history of the area, stop by the High Desert Museum. I’ll be honest and tell you that the reason I went was because I wanted to see the river otters! Unfortunately, that exhibit was closed for renovation. There are still other animals, such as owls, snakes, eagles, lizards, and fish to check out.

Have you been to Bend and know of a fun area we missed? Please tell us! We plan on going back, and would love new suggestions. Also, if you like what we post, please subscribe with your e-mail address so you’ll be contacted as soon as something new is up! Thanks for reading 🙂

Until next time,

Camille