Way Back Wednesday

#WayBackWednesday - Big Bend

I've been thinking of Big Bend often and I can't wait to schedule a trip back out there.  The park entrance is about 7.5 hours from my house, with another hour or so of driving within the park to get to the Chisos Basin Campground.  Big Bend is HUGE and it can easily take all day to drive through if you're stopping for little hikes and viewpoints - as we did.  I'd really enjoy going back to spend time exploring one area or backpacking a specific trail. Being honest with myself, I'll go back in any way I can and with anyone willing to enjoy the experience.  Here are some photos from a trip in January of 2014 with my other half and one of our best friends. 

Classic entrance sign photo

A view while driving down into Big Bend

Morning views from the campsite in Chisos Basin Campground

More driving views

Rio Grande!

Sotol Vista Overlook views

Santa Elena Canyon views

Santa Elena Canyon Trail friendship selfie. <3

#WayBackWednesday - Cedar Breaks National Monument

In honor of booking my flight for the 2nd Annual BFF Adventure, I'm throwing it back to our 1st annual trip.  I originally planned a solo excursion to Utah, but my BFF Molly decided to go and now it's an annual adventure for us.  Once spot we visited last year really stuck out for me and that was Cedar Breaks National Monument.  What a breathtaking, intense, and gorgeous place to feel small.  While I don't see us getting back to Cedar Breaks, I'll always have these memories - so enjoy a few photos.

Classic sign picture

View from the rim

Spectra Point - was a bit overwhelming to feel so high above the hoodoos

What do you spy with your little eye?

This year, we'll be hitting the ground in Utah again!  Molly has not been to Arches National Park, so we'll spend the majority of our time there.  I hope to hike to Delicate Arch right away, before crowds and heat, and then hit up the rest of the park after that.  So much to do, so little time!  Where is your favorite place in Utah?  After a Saturday in Arches, what would you recommend for half a Sunday?  Comment your idea or send me an email!  As always, thanks for following along and happy trails!

#WayBackWednesday - An August Weekend

At the cottage with my grandparents was one of my favorite places to be.  We always went on boat rides in the evenings, during cocktail hour before dinner, and spent the days prior soaking up the sun or swimming after yard work.  I miss being so close to the cottage, I miss Phil, I miss their old dog Abbey.  Things have changed so much, but I will never forget the good times that are frozen in time with these photos from August of 2009.  Forever my favorite place, with some of my favorite people.

The back of our family's cottage - my grandparents lived out here from late spring til fall.

View of the cottage from the front, out on the water.

Coreopsis - my grandmother's favorite

Clematis crawling all over the garage

My "step" grandfather (he was part of my life 1991 til his death this year) and my grandmother, on our evening cocktail pontoon cruise

Abbey the dog, in some of her best years.  This dog was just the best - lovable, fun, friendly, and always up for a boat ride.

Crescent Island - out in front of our cottage.

Nothing caps off a day on the lake quite like a sunset over the bay.

#WayBackWednesday - Grand Canyon North Rim!

This week, the Grand Canyon North Rim opens for visitors.  It's a special place, and it's only open until early October.  I visited in October of 2011, and it was magic.  The aspens were yellow, the sun was bright, and the crowds were minimal.  This was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon, and it set a pretty high standard for the South Rim.  I finally visited the South Rim in 2013, and I must say the North Rim is my favorite but they're both spectacular.  Can't wait to make a trip back to the North Rim, but until then I'll just enjoy the memories through these photos.  I hope you you can find the time and resources in your life to visit this special place - it'll take your breath away in person.  Enjoy the photos and have a great hump day.

We arrived in the evening, here's the moon over the Grand Canyon.

Good morning North Rim!

October 2011 - Yellow aspens, snow on the ground.... almost closing time for the North Rim.

#WayBackWednesday - Delicate Arch

In today's look back, I'm going to Arches.  I've been there a few times, but one of the best visits included the hike to Delicate Arch in 2010.  This was back when I was still pretty inexperienced with hiking, so I remember the trek getting to the arch pretty vividly.  We hiked over expansive red rock surfaces, across streams of melting snow, and through snow that still existed in the shade.

Once at the arch, you realize that rock formation you saw from distance is HUGE.  It's overwhelmingly large, actually.  Stand there, at Delicate Arch, you feel small in only a way the best things in nature can do.  The red rock swirls around, there are formations in the distance, and mountains through the clouds.  We were lucky, the sun came out and it didn't rain/snow on us like it was off in the distance.

A year prior, my friend and I camped at Arches NP and hiked to many of the other popular landscapes, but the hike to Delicate Arch always sticks with me.  For more information on the hike, history, etc, check out this link to the NPS website.

Where have you hiked that left a particularly memorable impression?

#WayBackWednesday - My first visit to the Pacific Coast

In 2007, I saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.  Two of my friends and I were on a road trip to see the country because we grew up in Northern Michigan without many trips out.  When I tell stories about adventure or finding my passion for public lands, they all start with this road trip in 2007.  I was 23 years old, didn't know what I wanted to do with myself, and was STILL in school because I was afraid to move on/got real lazy towards the end.  The trip of 2007, that had me seeing mountains, deserts, and the ocean for the first time really did change my perspective on life. 

Since the 2007 trip was adventurous and successful, we wanted more for 2008.  In 2007 we planned a bit, but much of it was improvisation.  For 2008, we planned a bit more and added thousands of miles to the itinerary to include a variety of landscapes.  In 2008, I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  Ten years and one month ago, I was driving south on US-101 from Washington to Redwood National & State Parks.  To this day, I can remember one of the morning drives and the smell of the sea air.  My first visit to the Pacific Northwest/Pacific Coast was memorable to say the least.  We stopped at many little beaches, got our feet wet, and watched the sun dance on the water.  Here are a few photos from that time in 2008 that continued to change my outlook on life, one gorgeous rest stop after another.  Is it any wonder why I've been obsessed with the Pacific Northwest since 2008?

#WayBackWednesday - Something I made up to talk about the Desert

I can remember when I first visited the desert; the year was 2007 and the locations varied through Western Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas via a road trip with friends.  I grew up with hardwood forests featuring scattered evergreens, rolling hills, and the Great Lakes.  My adventures prior to college consisted of trips within Michigan or Canada, staying close to the Great Lakes landscape.  When I visited the Mountains of Colorado and then the Western Slope, I was stunned.  Driving further south, I felt as though I was on another planet taking it all in, mile after mile trying to process this landscape.  I wasn't really fascinated with the desert after that trip, but I was introduced.  Years following, I visited more desert landscapes - Death Valley, Southern Utah, parts of Arizona, and New Mexico.  With each visit, the desert landscape was burned into my brain and quickly became something I couldn't stop thinking about.

Favorite Desert Things:

  • After the rain, when the ground is dark and plants are vivid shades of green
  • The plant life - from the resiliency to the variety (the ecology of a desert is fascinating)
  • Landscape - red/brown hills, snow capped mountains, fields of sand...it all looks good to me
  • When there's the bluest of blue skies with white puffy clouds above a desert landscape
  • The variation in weather/climates per the elevation and location

One of my favorite memories, though we didn't see much, was when my buddy and I drove from Houston to Tuscon just to see Saguaro National Park.  This trip captured the spirit of our past college road trips while incorporating my love for the desert.  I saw those giant, noble Saguaros, and I'll never forget them.  I saw the other wildlife too, and the experience as a whole sparked my fascination in desert ecology.  After the Tuscon trip, I was fully hooked and I needed to go back.  In 2013 I visited New Mexico and Arizona, in 2014 it was back to Utah, and 2015 took me back to Arizona.  It's been a while since I enjoyed the desert landscape, and I'm ready to go back.