Grand Canyon National Park

This past month has flew in. Where has June gone? It’s already July tomorrow! Crazy-town. Please bear with me while I play a little catch up…normal service may or may not resume soon. I can’t make any promises. 

We got up early, grabbed breakfast and headed into the longest stretch of our road trip bound for the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon has been top of my to-do list for such a long time so I was especially excited for this stop-off. We were almost at the north-rim when we pulled off the free-way for petrol and a much needed leg stretch when we noticed a very large and imposing sign stating that the Grand Canyon North Rim was Closed until May 15. It was the 12th. We laughed, half horrified and half devastated. After some questionably sweet baked goods and the promise that the South Rim was “only around four hours away” we set back off on the road. We chatted, ate, listened to podcasts—spotted some tumble weed!!—snoozed and eventually arrived at the South Rim, tired and stiff. 

Holy shit. The Grand Canyon is seriously, well, grand. It was too much for my eyes to comprehend. We didn’t take many photographs because it didn’t feel like there was a point. You cannot capture this stuff on film (actual or metaphorical) because it’s just that big. The tiny snaking shoelace of a river is actually a raging waterway up close. Minor divots and cracks are actually sheer ravines and gaping huge caverns.

We didn’t hike or spend a huge amount of time at The Grand Canyon. We didn’t have time as there was another four hours of road between us and our flight back to Oakland. Dinner consisted of crisps and subway in the car while driving, which was quite an apt way to end a few days of truly terrible eating. (Rural Utah, you have excellent nature but terrible restaurants.) 

In short, The Grand Canyon was beautiful. You really should go, put it on your list and make your way there. No amount of google-image searching, pretty blog stalking or pinterest planning can do places like this justice. Nature like this needs to be experienced to be appreciated. 

We’ve got less than five months left on this side of the world and you can bet we’ve got a boat-load of adventures up our sleeves. Just you wait! 

Bryce Canyon National Park

After our hike in Zion we loaded our tired and sweaty bodies into the car and drove (or, in the girls’ case were driven) to Bryce Canyon. By the time we arrived it was dark and we checked into our motel, drove across the road to the only restaurant to eat and then crashed early. We were so tired. Bryce Canyon National Park is pretty unassuming on approach. It looks kind of like a sparse forest crossed with scrub land. There are deer hanging around and warning signs for moose (which we didn’t see, bummer!). We drove in a little deeper, parked and hopped out to take in the view. And wow. What a view. Bryce Canyon is, as the name suggests, a canyon. This means that it’s kind of like one of nature’s little secrets; you cannot see any of its vast beauty from the road. 

I captioned my instagram with something along the lines of ‘Bryce Canyon is the fakest looking real thing I have ever seen’ and that pretty much sums up my experience of this natural wonder. It looks like mars. It looks like those little sand people you make on the beach when you’re bored. It looks like a cartoon. It looks magical, beautiful, wonderful, unreal. Incredibly unreal. These photos are still captivate to me even though I’ve looked through them a hundred times already. 

Our legs hurt like hell and the hike—though much easier than Angel’s Landing—felt really tough to me. We walked and took photos and walked and stopped to eat apples and drink in the wonder of all this orange rock.

How is this real? Get yourself there. Your eyes need to see this. 

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Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the most beautiful place I have ever been. It took my breath away literally and figuratively. We chose one of the most strenuous trails—Angel’s Landing—on one of the hottest days. Countless switchbacks on the way up to Scout Lookout forced me to stop and pause for air and water, and to drink in that incredible view. The challenging conditions made reaching the peak all the more satisfying. 

Angel’s Landing is a five mile trail that beings with a series of steep switchbacks (with a 1488 foot gain in elevation!) and ends with a narrow single-file steep cliff-like walk with chains to hold on to, a 1200 foot drop on one side and 800 foot drop on the other. We were all pretty positive about doing the trail but secretly each of us had reservations and none believed that we would actually complete it. The funny thing is that once we got going I didn’t really feel afraid. While actually on this section of the trail I was so focussed on putting one foot in front of the other, maintaining the all important three points of contact (which according to Rich guarantees you will not fall) and manoeuvring around the tide of people coming back down the trail (it’s a single file system with two lanes of traffic…not ideal at points!) that I didn’t have any brain space left for fear. When we paused to admire the view, take photos or look out over the edge I began to feel a little freaked out but all in all my own bravery kind of took me by surprise. 

We hung out on the final landing for a little while , recorded some videos for our families and took a ton of photographs. It’s hard to capture just how high up we were, it was hard to even comprehend it when we were there! I’ll never forget this day, it was hot and scary and such a challenge. 

This is the view from Scout’s Lookout—the trail to Angel’s Landing is just ahead, up over the first orange-y peak and then onto the green one in the centre of the frame. It doesn’t look too impressive in this shot but believe me…it was insane.

These little chipmunks were running around everywhere. They are clearly used to hanging out around humans because they scrambled right up to us while we were eating our lunch, awaiting errant crumbs no doubt. 

This is the top of the landing. It was a busy day and the trail was packed. Hiking in America is a very different experience than hiking in Ireland. People tend to keep to themselves and it’s rare for people to greet each other or exchange pleasantries as they pass. It’s kind of sad considering how we were all experiencing this incredible thing together, but not really together. I’ve come to appreciate just how special the community spirit we have back home is. 

That was a pretty scary moment. The shuttle buses look like little ants they’re so far below. 

This photo makes my heart explode. This year has been the highest and the boldest and the hardest and the most full. Moments like this kind of push it over the edge. 

Look at this adventurer. I love him and how he convinces me I can do these insane things. Yay for more adventures and roadtrips and everything in between. To do this all together is such a treat. 

How is this real life? Seriously?! This world is awe inspiring. 

When we got to the bottom of the trail we waded into the river to cool off. It’s hard to comprehend that this now narrow, shallow river was once large enough to carve the enormous valley. 

There are so many trails and vistas left to explore, I hope we can make it back to Zion again sometime. If you have the chance to visit Zion, go. You could never regret it. 

Everyday Adventure

Since moving to the Bay Area in early November we have visited the Golden Gate Bridge numerous times. We’ve driven across it, walked on it and cycled across it. The San Francisco side of the bridge lies on the edge of the Presidio, a beautiful hilly park with numerous trails for cycling, walking and picnicking. Across the bridge lies Marin County…a series of hills with beautiful vista points. Midweek pedestrians and cyclists share one side of the bridge but on the weekends the left side of the bridge is available for cyclists and the right for pedestrians. This makes for a much easier and faster cycle across the bridge and a much less hazardous walk for pedestrians. The views from either side of the bridge (and especially from the middle!) are pretty spectacular. 

The above photos are from a gloomy day we drove across the bridge to Marin County, took a left and pulled in at the second view point. It’s all very easily done. We wandered down towards Kirby Cove but decided to leave that adventure for another day as we were without water or food or proper attire for the long trek back up to the car. 

There’s also the option to head right off the bridge and down towards Sausalito, a sleepy fishing town. If you’re cycling and head down to Sausalito you can catch a ferry back to the Ferry Building on Embarcadero in San Francisco; a worthwhile trip that our friends have done numerous times and we plan on doing soon. 

DIY Christmas Decorations.

For Christmas I made some of the littlest people I know decorations for their first (or in Emily’s case second) Christmas trees. It all started with some dresses I bought at the flea market a few weeks ago. I shortened the beige dress and so was left with a long piece of lace trim (it was on the inner seam of the dress) and a piece of material just wide enough to use to make decorations. I then shortened the blue dress and used its excess to make little outfits for the two bunnies and the bear. 

Here are the dresses in progress. 

Before and after of the blue dress, I haven’t taken an after of the beige one yet, but I didn’t change as much on it!

This is the pretty lace trim that was lining the hem of the beige dress. I picked it all off and used it on the little bunny and bear outfits. And thats the super complicated pattern I designed (for the bear I just made the ears shorter!). 

Here’s how they turned out! I’d like to think that the floral pattern on the beige fabric gives these little woodland creatures badass tattoos, haha. Either way I’m really happy how they turned out and I hope that they will survive for more Christmasses to come so I can see them in their intended habitat. 

Did you guys make anything sweet for your loved ones this year?

 

PS I’m always ever inspired by Artemis’ accomplishments, she is the Christmas crafting queen as far as I’m concerned ;)