Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Sale!

The sale is on and will continue through the end of Friday (11:59pm PST). Thanks so much for even just perusing my shop. I appreciate it. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Day 4: On the road again

Finally back to my trip recap! I'm going to forget everything at this rate.

As usual, here's where I post links to the previous entries in case you're just joining us:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (Part 1)
Day 3 (Part 2)
Gallery of all my photos, most of which did not make it in the blog posts

Okay! On Saturday (back on October 10th), Dania and I had our last morning in Utah before heading back to Vegas. Before leaving Bryce, we wanted to check out the view in different lighting, and from a different point than what we had seen the day before.

We headed to Inspiration Point, which is at 8,100 feet elevation.

Even though these pictures are cool for me to look at, I know that they don't compare to real life. There are so many textures and colors and every angle is a little different. Plus it's just really interesting, and not the kind of terrain you run into every day (unless you live there, of course!). I'm getting broken record-y about this, but it was just such a unique experience to see this canyon full of spires and hoodoos.

Eventually it was time to get going, and we said goodbye to Bryce and started back on our longish drive (about 4 hours, I guess) to Vegas. It went pretty smoothly, and they let you drive fast in Utah. Sometimes the highway had an 85mph limit! I wasn't very comfortable maintaining that, though I'm sure I would if I had a bit more practice.

We stopped for lunch in...I forget the town. A place that has a university. Oh, Cedar City! I looked it up. That was probably the first normal-sized city we came across, and they happened to have a Zaxby's. I had only been once in NC years ago and remembered it being a yummy southern fast food chain. We picked up some lunch, made another stop at Walmart (I can't even remember why now), and then made it to Vegas in the early afternoon.

Since we had a bit of time before our flights, we made a couple of stops. First was to a mermaid show Dania had read about. This girl was the only mermaid that day, and she swam around and played little window games with the kids.

Then we decided to go back to the Bellagio. I really wanted to see it again because I loved it there and was eager to watch the fountain show again in daylight. First we walked through the lobby and conservatory, though.

You saw this from when we went on Wednesday, but it was night time then.

Check out this pumpkin made of roses.

I'm in ♥ with the Bellagio. I supposed to say "the" in front of it or not?

We watched the fountain show, and then went and had some gelato. Time was getting tight by this point, because everything takes longer than you think it should (like walking to the gelato place, waiting in line, finding the car, dealing with traffic). But we managed to get the rental car back in time and clear everything out.

After we were checked in at the airport, we eventually parted ways so that Dania could fly back to Sacramento while I flew to Albuquerque. It was a little sad to see this portion of the trip come to an end, but I was excited to see my sister's family for a couple of days! I can't even remember much about the rest of that night besides landing in Albuquerque and my sister and brother-in-law picking me up. We got back late, so most of the girls were asleep in anticipation of an early morning at the balloon fiesta. The oldest, L, was letting me use her bedroom and it looked so cute and tidy! And then we all went to sleep.

Hopefully soon I can talk about Sunday at the balloon fiesta and the remainder of my trip! Thanks for following along. As always, I have additional photos here in this gallery: Utah Trip Gallery

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Porcelain berries!

I still have trip photos to post, but I thought I'd take a tiny break for some porcelain berry photos. Mostly just because I freaking love these things!

I've been visiting the berries once or twice a week for the past month, not wanting to miss the leaves changing to yellow.

Last year I somehow missed them completely and they went from green to completely gone. I decided I would be much more attentive and I have stopped by on lunch breaks, etc. just to see the progress.

There are still some green leaves on one side, but mostly they are yellow and already drying up fast. Soon I'm sure they'll just be brown twigs lining the fence, so I didn't hold back on taking millions of photos. :)

Not that there's anything wrong with the green leaves, of course. The berries are beautiful throughout fall! But the yellow leaves really make the colors stand out.

In case you wanted some perspective. There are my fingers touching some beautiful turquoise berries.

Royal blue!

I gathered up some berries from the ground. Okay, mostly from the ground.  :] I wanted to try some pictures of them off the vine.

I stole this idea of a gradient. I saw someone on Instagram had done it and I wanted to try! The only shade that's missing is light green, since now it's too late and I couldn't find any.

I hope you're having a happy November! It has really cooled down here, and last night I had to resort to turning on my bedroom heater (usually I sleep too hotly for that). I had it set to 59 and I heard it heating away at various points in the night. It's cozy, but I hate how my electric bill goes up so much in the winter.

Have a great rest of our week!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Day 3 (Part 2): Paging Dr. Canyon

Happy November! It's not really my favorite month, but least I get some days off in the end. :)

Last I posted, I had talked about the first part of my day in Bryce Canyon (BC). You can go see the other posts for this trip here:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (Part 1)

 [View from the top before hiking down into that lovely darkness.]

After our driving tour of BC viewpoints, we did the hike from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point, which goes down Wall Street, and is apparently part of the Navajo Trail. (The reviews on this site give lots of impressions of this hike.) Basically you get to go down into the the small crevices between the spires and be surrounded by tall rock walls. It's so awesome!

 [It's kind of hard to tell, but this is a section of switchbacks where the path descends pretty steeply. It's okay going down, but the people coming up were obviously very tired and would have to break after even one switch. I'm so glad we were going the other direction!]
[That woman is probably wishing for a helicopter right about now.]

As you walk, it goes deeper and deeper. Just when you think you've reached the bottom of the canyon, there's a path that goes even lower. It's such a unique experience like nothing I've ever seen. Thinking about it right now makes me want to go back!

[That little spire/hoodoo on the right there is called Thor's Hammer, if I remember correctly. I don't feel like looking it up. Several of them have names but I haven't really researched it to learn them.]

Once you get to the bottom, the scenery changes and it's more open. The trail meanders through desert forests with shallow inclines at first. Then the last section back up to the top (Sunrise Point) gets steeper and it's pretty challenging by that point. The whole hike took about 1.5 to 2 hours. (I'm checking my Fitbit for reference, but it's hard to know since we had to walk from our car and then walked after the hike, too.) I felt pretty good, considering it's about 26ish flights of stairs from the bottom to the top. And high elevation! I was thankful for all the hills I had walked over the summer.

After I reached the top, I rushed to the lodge gift shop to use the bathroom. When I approached the clerk to ask about where it was, he gave me a free caramel! I love caramel. Then Dania and I looked around the gift shop briefly and then went back to our hotel.

There aren't many restaurant options in BC, especially not then, since the summer options were closed. The only one with decent reviews was a western theater place, and we were so not in the mood to sit and watch that. We just wanted food, so we ended up shopping at the little grocery store and picking up some items to heat in our room. It was the most expensive grocery shopping (per item) of my life, but I tried not to give it much thought since it was vacation. We ended up having pot pies and ice cream while we watched TV.

There was a beautiful sunset outside our room, over the small lake. Then when it got completely dark, we headed out again for some night photography. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this since there were clouds earlier, plus I was just tired. But Dania was very encouraging and a great sport about going. It was kind of spooky driving out to the main gates in such darkness. They had no one manning the gates, which was good since we had forgotten our pass at the hotel.

We found an empty parking lot and took a few pictures. I remembered why I don't practice this more--it's spooky! It's kind of unnerving being in such darkness. Who knows what animals could be around? We had flashlights, but it was still kind of cumbersome setting things up. Those people who do lots of awesome night photography deserve many props for spending hours in such dark locations. It's definitely harder than it looks to get a decent sky photo. Mine were somewhat successful, and you could see the Milky Way at least. It was a great view of the stars, but I didn't really have the right equipment. It was a learning experience, and a reminder that I have much more to learn! Then I was anxious to get back to the safety and warmth of the hotel. :)

Thanks for continuing to follow my trip journal! See more photos in the gallery. Stay tuned for Day 4!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 3 (Part 1): Bryce Canyon sounds like a soap opera name

Sorry for the delay. I had planned on continuing my trip log last weekend, but the Bryce photos were overwhelming me, so I put it aside. There were so many pictures to go through and prep, so I think I will have to divide this day into more than one post.

Here are some helpful links, if you haven't seen them yet:

Day 1: Vegas
Day 2: Zion
Gallery with more photos than I'm putting in my posts

Okay! After a quick hotel breakfast, Dania and I left Springdale to head to Bryce Canyon. To get there, you drive through Zion National Park for awhile. This was really fun and scenic. There are some tunnels through the rocks, including one that is over a mile long.

We stopped at a few outlook points to take pictures, and at one of them we saw several bighorn sheep! They were all likely female, so they just looked like deer with horns to me, but my Instagram and Twitter friends helped set me straight.

These photos are way out of order in terms of our drive. I messed up, but I'm not going to fix it. :) Just know that the Brycey ones are from later in the drive, and the non-Brycey ones are from earlier in our drive! I'm sure you'll need to mark your journal with this important info.

The scenery between Zion and Bryce varied from the orangey mountain walls to valleys with cattle grazing between curvy rivers. As I always do when I travel, I thought about what life is like for people living there, and how it would be to grow up in that area. I wondered about how much snow they got, and how the landscape changed with the seasons. It was very pretty, though I wouldn't want to live so far from major cities, myself. We passed through a couple of small towns, but things were quiet. I wanted to find a store and/or some food, but without options we just continued on until we reached Bryce.

It was too early to check into the hotel, so Dania and I got some mediocre lunch next door and then went into the park. BC--I'm going to just call it that now--is a very user-friendly park. There is a lodge and camping within the park, but then the city just a few miles outside has hotels as well. So it's easy access, and you can enter the park at any hour. The roads throughout the park are smooth and safe-feeling even as you're driving up to the highest point. There are some creepy drop-offs, but overall it felt much safer than some roads I've been on. There is decent parking at most of the lookout points.

The main road takes you past several viewpoints. It's a nice driving tour of BC. The highest/furthest stop is Rainbow Point. There's plenty of parking, bathrooms and amazing views here. I took a bunch of pictures, but it's very difficult to capture the scene in photos. When I look at them, they are underwhelming, but in person it's much more awesome.

I made a couple of panoramas that are lame (and one of them didn't even stitch correctly!), but they kind of give a better idea of the view. Click on these for a larger version.

After some time at Rainbow, we headed back, stopping at a few locations along the way. There was a bit of fall color, but not a ton yet.

Finally we checked into our hotel, changed and then headed back into the park for a hike. And that hike--one of the highlights of the trip for me--will be in the next post. :)

See more photos up to this point over in my gallery!


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