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,
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,
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.
Beautiful mountains, fresh air, my best friend, my heart is full.
Never stop exploring,
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,
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 🙂
Until next time,