Great Basin National Park

This past weekend we road tripped to Great Basin National Park with 4 of our friends in Salt Lake. It’s a 3.5 hour drive and sits in the middle of nowhere Eastern Nevada. With so little civilization in the area, it’s the darkest spot in the continental US and the star gazing is some of the best! We got there around sunset Friday and we were able to secure a campsite at the 3rd campground we drove through within the park. We set up camp and stargazed that night before attempting to sleep during a high wind advisory..I think I slept about 4 hours and got the worst night camping sleep ever haha.

Saturday we attempted the hardest hike in the park, Wheeler Peak. It starts at 10,000 ft and the hike is 8 miles with 3,000 ft of elevation change. The first half was nice and gradual, and then we hit the 40 mph wind gusts at mile 3 when we were completely exposed to the valley on the other side of the park. We trudged our way up as far as we could before sheltering at the saddle, just before the last mile scramble of 1000 ft to the peak. On another day with lower wind speed, I think we would’ve attempted it. But we were proud we made it that far! I think 12,000 ft is the highest I’ve ever hiked to, as Utah peaks hit around 10-11K ft. We ate lunch, relaxed, and made our way down quickly as the winds picked up around noon. We stopped at an alpine lake briefly on our way down and then made it back to camp for a nap, dinner, and more stargazing. That night I got my full 8 hours of sleep!

Sunday, we packed up camp and made our way to the Bristlecone Pine Glacier Trail that also starts around 10,000 ft. It’s a 5 mile hike with 1200 ft of elevation change. It was a beautiful and gradual hike with lots of history about Bristlecone Pines along the way. The end of the trail leads you to a rock glacier with beautiful 180 degree views. I would highly recommend this hike, especially after attempting a peak it was very refreshing! I’m glad we visited and checked Great Basin off of our National Park bucket list; next month we will be visiting Glacier National Park in Montana for a long weekend!

 

 

 

DIY Kitchen Remodel

For the past month or so, Matt and I have been working tirelessly on making cosmetic updates in our home before we settle in. We moved in about a month ago, and Matt has been painting the kitchen cabinets ever since while I tackled painting the walls and unpacking and organizing our things. He finished last week, and now we are able to unpack and fully use our kitchen. I couldn’t me more excited with the results! I wanted to share the details of the process and what paint we used for anyone else out there DIY remodeling!

First, we decided on painting the cabinets white with black hardware. We liked the idea of white/grey walls, white cabinets, grey furniture, and black and wood accents in our home. We started by visiting the local Sherwin Williams for primer and paint, and Home Depot for a power sander, TSP wood cabinet cleaner, and we ordered new black handles on their website. Because of the texture of our oak cabinets, we went with the shellac primer and the pro classic semi-gloss paint for interior wood in the High Reflective White color. Matt washed and power sanded each cabinet and door before priming and putting 2 coats of paint on. He also hand sanded between coats to get rid of brush strokes and clumps. He used a brush for the detailed parts of our cabinets, and a foam roller for the backs and flat parts of the cabinets. After painting a few cabinets at a time and letting them dry overnight, I spray painted the old bronze hinges white and we were able to put the cabinets back on with the new black hardware. We ordered the Lindley 3 in.Center-to-Center Matte Black Drawer Pull and love how they look! For now, we are keeping the white laminate countertops and tile floor, but someday we hope to update those and extend the kitchen into the small dining room adjacent.

 

Matt also did the same process to our bathroom cabinets, and it brings a new and bright look to the home. We have a few more cosmetic updates to the bathroom fixtures and then those will be complete! Our home is slowly coming together and we can’t wait to do a few more projects on the basement and yard next!

Memorial Day Weekend Camping

For Memorial Day Weekend this year, we decided to camp with 4 other friends just an hour north of Salt Lake City in Ogden Canyon. We stayed at Anderson Campground for 2 nights next to Pineview Resevoir and did day hikes in the area. Although the weather was freezing for this time of year (lows around 30 at night), we had fun exploring a new area close to home!

On Saturday, we hiked Skull Crack Trail, about 30 min from the campground further in the canyon. It’s a 5 mile hike with 850 ft of elevation, and wraps around Causey Reservoir. The views were beautiful and I would recommend this hike to anyone in Salt Lake. If the temps were warmer, we probably would’ve rented kayaks to explore the reservoir that way!

On Sunday, we hiked Odgen Canyon Overlook Trail, about 15 min away from the campground. The trail is 4.5 miles long, with 950 ft of elevation and starts at SnowBasin Ski Resort. The views were also beautiful the whole way up and it looked down on Odgen Canyon at the top. Overall it was a great weekend to hike, and we survived the camping with lots of layers! We will definitely be back to hike around Ogden and ski this winter!

The Home Buying Process

This past weekend Matt and I closed on our first home! We are so excited to be homeowners and have some more space to live in, especially during this time of working from home. We were growing out of our 1 bedroom apartment, and our lease is up in a month so we figured why not start looking. Utah has some great options for first time home buyers, and interest rates are low right now. The process started a little over a month ago, and we didn’t expect it to go this fast in the crazy competitive Salt Lake housing market. However, because of Covid the competition decreased a bit and we were able to get our second offer accepted after about a week of looking.

The first step was getting pre-approved by our lender. We were able to do everything over the phone and email since everyone is working from home. This process requires a credit and income check, and it took less than a day. We started working with our realtor the following day to determine our wish list for a home and get set up on the real time house listing app. A few days later, our realtor set up some private showings in areas we were interested in, and we started touring! It was exciting to see what areas of town we could be living in, and what our budget would get us. After the first day, we became more flexible and realistic with what to expect for our first home in this market. We definitely saw a few amazing contenders, a few fixer uppers, and figured out what neighborhoods and suburbs we liked and disliked. It was so important to see the house in person and give it a chance, because the pictures do not always do the house justice.

We put an offer on a home at the end of the first day; we loved the neighborhood, curb appeal, and it had everything on our must haves list. After they accepted a different offer, we decided to take the backup position and keep looking. We didn’t love any on the 2nd day of looking, so we decided to check out the neighboring suburbs for the 3rd day. Our realtor set up 6 showings on the 3rd day, and 3 of them got cancelled because they were under contract in less than 24 hours, crazy! However, it ended up working out because we fell in love with the 2nd home that day and we’re able to go home and be the first to put in an offer! They let us know the next day that they liked our offer and the letter we wrote to the sellers about why we wanted the house. We were able to negotiate and settle on a price we were both comfortable with, and just like that we were under contract!

We knew before even going to see this home we were going to like it. It had a Midwest feel from the outside, and it reminded me of a lot of the homes in my parents neighborhood growing up. The neighborhood all has similar homes and good curb appeal, and that was important to us. The backyard views are also spectacular, and we can’t wait to spend our summer evenings outside around the bonfire. It had the right about of bedrooms and was mostly move in ready, but it definitely has a 90’s feel and needs a face lift. Matt and I are excited to do some painting, replace fixtures, and give the kitchen a cosmetic update first. It also has a good downstairs living area for having 1-2 roommates. Overall, it’s a good balance between move in ready and a fixer upper for both of us!

Applying for the loan, the inspections, appraisal, utility transfers, and paperwork took about 3 weeks. The sellers wanted an April closing date, so we had to make sure we were on top of getting our checklist done. There were some late nights of submitting paperwork and taking a homeowners class, but we got it all done by the day before closing. Working from home together was a blessing during this time and we were able to submit everything online or on the phone. We did the final walk through and closed on April 17th, so we are officially in the home. We are moving things in slowly and tackling painting the main level and upstairs bedrooms these next 2 weeks. We can’t believe it’s real and we are so excited to host guests and entertain when life gets back to normal! For now, we’ll be spending most nights after work and weekends fixing up the home and getting it ready for us to live in. It’s a scary and exciting time, and while we wish family was close to help us, they have been answering all of our questions via Facetime and we couldn’t be more thankful!

 

Jackson Hole Ski Trip

The first weekend in March Matt and I road tripped to Jackson, WY to ski with 6 of our Midwest friends that live in Salt Lake. We have visited Jackson a few times during the summer, but this was our first time skiing there. The city and ski resort are so beautiful during the winter! We drove up Friday after work, skied a full day Saturday, half day Sunday, and drove home that night. We stayed right in downtown Jackson about 20 min from the resort, and it was great to be in walking distance to restaurants and bars. We enjoyed dinner at Snake River Brewery and got drinks at the Cowboy Bar Saturday night. We also ate at a few restaurants at the ski resort during the day. The temps were warm and the conditions were slushy and icy in patches, making it the first weekend of spring skiing. The terrain is for intermediate to advanced with mostly double blue and black runs, so we were definitely sore after day 1! Day 2 was a little bit more relaxed, and we had time to explore most of the mountain in one weekend. We took the tram up to the summit to finish out the day Sunday before heading home. It was a great last ski trip with friends and we can’t wait to explore new resorts on the Ikon Pass next season! Writing this blog over a month later, it’s crazy to think that this was our last full weekend skiing for the season before all of the resorts shut down due to Covid. We would normally be spring skiing until this past weekend, but we will just have to wait until November. We are definitely ready for hiking and camping season!

February Visitors

This month was full of visitors and we couldn’t be happier! It was so fun to have both Matt and I’s friends in town from the Midwest to ski.

The first weekend in February we had my college friend Kelly visit from Phoenix and my childhood friend Brooke from Chicago in town for a ski weekend. The first day we skied Solitude and the conditions were amazing after a 5 day snowstorm! We grilled out and ended the day by going to Deer Valley for the Aerial and Mogul World Championships. The competition was intense and so much fun to watch! On Sunday we skied at Brighton for a half day and it was perfect conditions! It was a short weekend but worked out perfect to have both of them in town at the same time.

For President’s Day weekend we had my college friend Kristin in town. She was helping plan our friend Lauren’s Baby Shower, so we spent most of the day Saturday planning and celebrating her! We had dinner and spent time at Top Golf later that night with Lauren and her family. We ended the night with beer and games with some friends at Proper Brewery. On Sunday we had a chill morning with breakfast and yoga with Kristin since the weather was crappy, and later that day she spent some time with other friends in Salt Lake. On Monday I joined Kristin and our friend Maggie for the day at Solitude Ski Resort. The girls were able to ski while I worked from the lodge. It was a great long weekend catching up with Kristin and our other girl friends in SLC!

This past weekend we had Matt’s college and high school friends in town from Wisconsin. They came for four ski days and we had six people total in our one bedroom apartment. It was one giant slumber party and so much fun! We spent Thursday skiing Park City and ended the ski day at our favorite rooftop on Main Street, No Name Saloon, for drinks and apps. Everyone skied on the Canyons side of Park City on Friday while I went to work, and I met up with them for dinner at Wasatch Brewery that night. On Saturday we spent the morning at Brighton Resort, it was fun to explore the Millie side of the resort. Sunday morning we skied at Snowbird Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was our first time there and we loved the terrain and views. It’s steep and a little intimidating going down, but we’re excited to go more the rest of the season. After skiing we tried In N Out for the first time and it was actually pretty impressed! We packed up and went to dinner at Porcupine Bar & Grill before our friends went to the airport.

Overall it was a crazy busy month and we have this weekend to relax and celebrate another friend’s baby shower before heading to Jackson Hole Ski Resort beginning of March! We love having visitors and all of the winter activities we can do here in Utah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Ski Trip

This past weekend Matt and I road tripped with 6 other friends to Big Sky Resort in Montana. This resort is on our Ikon Ski Pass and has been one of my bucket list resorts to visit! We left Friday after work and drove back Sunday late afternoon, so we were able to fit in one full ski day and a half day. It’s a 5-6 hour drive to the resort from SLC depending on weather conditions, so it was a lot of driving for a normal weekend but it was worth it! We stayed in West Yellowstone about an hour from the resort to save money and get more space for the 8 of us staying there. We loved our Airbnb, but the roads to get to the resort are very remote and snowy so they usually require a 4WD SUV for safety. We loved skiing at Big Sky, it’s higher elevation so it has great snow conditions and the most runs I’ve ever skied at one place. We loved the long and wide blue and green runs, and there were a few heated chairlifts which helped block the cold temps. We already can’t wait to go back next year and stay for a longer weekend!

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Christmas in Wisconsin

For Christmas this year we went to Wisconsin to visit both Matt and I’s families. We were able to work from home and spend 5 days in each hometown surrounding Christmas and New Years. We got to see so many family members and friends all in one trip, and it’s one of our favorite times to be back in Wisconsin! We even got good weather which made it easy to do some of our favorite outdoor Christmas traditions.

First we flew into MSP and stayed with Matt’s family in Hudson for 5 days. It was so fun to catch up with his siblings and parents. Some of the highlights were visiting Sam’s Christmas Village, a new lights show in Somerset, WI. It was beautiful to walk around! Afterwords we had a drink at a new hotel/bar in Stillwater, MN, just across the border.

On Christmas Eve we went to mass and spent the evening with his Grandparents and cousins on his Mom’s side. On Christmas day we spent the morning together as a family and went on a sibling hike at Willow River State Park. It was snowy but we had fun doing the waterfall hike for the 2nd year in a row!

Christmas evening we had Matt’s cousins on his Dad’s side over for dinner. We got to meet his baby 2nd cousin Charles, he was so cute! We also got to hang out with Matt’s high school and college friends that live near Hudson during the trip. On the 26th we were off to visit my family in La Crosse!

We spent the first day in La Crosse having Christmas with my parents and Grandma that lives in town. After dinner and gifts we went to the Rotary Lights, our favorite lights show to visit around Christmas time. The next day we got to visit some of Matt’s friends and stopped by our favorite college spot Howie’s. We caught up with my high school girlfriends that night, and got to see my friend Sarah’s baby Leo!

That weekend we had Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family who road tripped from Appleton to see us. We got to do our Secret Santa gift exchange, play games, eat lots of good food, and watch the Packer game together! We also went to Rotary Lights for a second time with my little 2nd cousin.

On Sunday night we drove to the Twin Cities to see my college friends. It was a jam packed trip but we had a blast! We came back just in time to have a casual NYE with some of our friends in SLC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Phoenix

For Thanksgiving this year I decided to road trip with some friends to Phoenix and visit my brother Blake and his girlfriend Olivia! We have all been living out west for over a year, but we are 10 hours apart and haven’t spent a holiday together since Christmas 2017. It was so fun to travel with friends and see different parts of Arizona and Nevada along the way. We stopped at a Nevada State Park, 2 National Monuments in AZ, Horseshoe Bend, and had time to hike twice in the Phoenix area. It was the perfect balance of being active and relaxing while on Vacation, and I’m hoping we make this a yearly tradition!

We left Tuesday night after work and made the five hour drive to stay the night just across the UT/NV border. We woke up early on Wednesday so we would have time to hike and drive the other five hours of the trip.

Valley of Fire State Park

Our first stop was Valley of Fire State Park about an hour outside of Vegas. We drove through the iconic road inside the park and took some pictures, then made our way to Fire Wave Trail. It was about 1.5 miles round trip with 350 feet of elevation change. It was a nice way to stretch our legs and break up the drive, and the “Wave Rock” at the end was amazing!

Phoenix

We got to Phoenix around sunset on Wednesday night, and then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Chandler. Their downtown has tons of good restaurants, bars, and a fun atmosphere!

On Thanksgiving morning Blake and I went on a hike in Scottsdale. We parked at the Lost Dog Trailhead and made our way back to a lookout of the city on the opposite side. Overall the hike was 4.5 miles and 500 ft of elevation. Since it was sprinkling the whole time, there weren’t and crowds and it was the perfect pre-turkey dinner workout! We spent the afternoon with Olivia’s family in Mesa and had a great Thanksgiving meal and relaxing night!

On Friday morning I went to my friend Stephanie’s Pure Barre class in Chandler, and it was such a great workout! We went to OHSO brewery in downtown Gilbert in the afternoon for lunch and met up with our other friend McKenzie who was also in town from Tuscon for thanksgiving. The patio was super cute and dog friendly!

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On Saturday, Blake and I drove about 45 min NW of Phoenix to hike at Saguaro Lake.  It was a beautiful lake tucked back into the desert, and you would never expect it! We hiked Butcher Jones Trail and it was my favorite Arizona hike so far. It was 5.25 miles and 600 ft of elevation change. The trail wraps you around part of the lake and joins up with another lake at the end. It was beautiful hiking weather and we beat the crowds by going early in the morning! Also there is a daily parking fee, but it was totally worth it.

We had a fun last day in Phoenix exploring downtown Scottsdale with Blake and Olivia. We went to a cute coffee shop/brewery and had some drinks before dinner. After dinner we met up with my friends Kelly and Stephanie at Arizona Wilderness Brewery in Chandler. The patios in AZ are my favorite! It was a great way to end my time in Phoenix before heading home Sunday morning.

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Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument

On our drive home we stopped near Flagstaff, AZ at two National Monuments that were right next to each other. At Sunset Crater Volcano Nat’l Monument they had gotten a snowstorm over Thanksgiving, but it was still so beautiful! After that we drove about 45 north and visited Wupatki Nat’l Monument, it was red rock with lots of history, and it also had a snow covered backdrop. Overall it was a good way to break up the drive and see some beautiful sites!

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend was the most breathtaking stop along our trip! It’s located near the highway just south of the AZ/UT border. It was definitely worth the stop and parking fees to see the views. It’s about a 20 min walk down a hill from the car, and then the big rock curve comes out of nowhere. We went on off season and there weren’t very many tourists, so that made it much more enjoyable! After this stop, we drove about 6 hours to get back to Salt Lake and went straight to bed! It was such a fun trip, and we were able to avoid the winter storm by leaving early before it hit Salt Lake. I can’t wait to visit again next year, hopefully with Matt next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moab Road Trip

This past weekend Matt and I took a road trip to Moab, Utah to celebrate 5 years together! We have been there once before, but wanted to explore more of the National Parks in the area. Four of our friends were also going the same weekend, so we were able to meet up with them in the Park and for dinner Saturday night!

CANYONLANDS

We spent Saturday in Canyonlands National Park, since it is less crowded this time of year. The weather was perfect between 65-70 and sunny, and we didn’t have to deal with crowds on our hikes. We started towards the back of the park and worked our way out with 3 short hikes and a few lookouts.

Grand View Point Trail is a 2 mile hike with 200 ft of elevation change, it is perfect for beginners. We loved all of the lookouts during the hike and the end was beautiful!

Upheaval Dome has 2 lookouts, so you can make it a shorter or longer hike. We hiked about 2 miles and 300 ft of elevation to see both lookouts, and the crater view was beautiful!

Buck Canyon Overlook had some beautiful views, only a few steps from the car!

Mesa Arch was our last hike, and it was about .6 miles with less than 100 ft of elevation. We got there just in time to have the arch to ourselves for a few views and pictures! Shortly after we were done taking pictures, Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren showed up with a bunch of their friends and family! They were in Moab celebrating Lauren’s birthday, and we happened to run into them. It was so random but cool to see them in person 🙂

On our way out of the park, we caught the most beautiful sunset views at a lookout spot. It was the perfect way to end our day in the park! We loved Canyonlands, especially during offseason!

After the Park, we checked into our hotel with our friends and went to dinner at Moab brewery. It was so fun to see our friends and catch up on our days in Moab! The food and beer was also delicious, I would highly recommend even thought the wait for a table can be long!

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

On Sunday morning, we got an early start and went straight to hike Delicate Arch, the most iconic hike in Utah. It is 3 miles and 600 ft of elevation, so there are some steep parts but it is very enjoyable with the cool morning temps in the Fall. We missed the sunrise rush and beat most of the late morning rush, so we got the Arch to ourselves for some pictures! It is normally a very crowded hike, so we were lucky to have some time to explore on our own. We sat and soaked in the views and people watched after taking pictures, and it was really entertaining 🙂 We drove through the park and got back into SLC just in time to see the Packer game in the afternoon. It was the perfect weekend down in Moab!