Arizona Getaway!

Over President’s Day Weekend on of my close friends got married in Phoenix, so my college friends and I made a girls trip and flew down for the weekend to celebrate! I arrived on Thursday and got to spend that night and Friday with my brother who recently moved there. It was so fun to catch up with Blake and his girlfriend! I hadn’t seen them since my wedding last May, so it was awesome to see their new home.

FRIDAY

Blake took my friend Rachael and I to South Mountain Hike near his home in Tempe, and it was gorgeous! The weather was 65 and sunny and we had a blast exploring the desert. It was a really nice change of pace from the cold and snow in Utah.

For lunch we met up with my cousin and his family downtown Phoenix, and it was so good to see them and meet his baby girl Willow! I hadn’t seen them in a few years, so it was so nice to catch up with them and be with family in Arizona.

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We met up with my other girlfriends who were in town and went to our friend Kelly’s wedding that evening. The weather and scenery were gorgeous! It was a venue out in the country next to the mountains, and it had a vintage/rustic feel. Everything was outdoors, including the reception and dance and that was something I had never experienced before. It was an amazing atmosphere and I had a blast catching up with my girlfriends and the bride and groom!

 

 

 

SATURDAY

In the morning we went to OHSO brewery in Scottsdale and it was so cute! The back patio is huge and faces Camelback mountain. Every meal comes with a mimosa or beer which was so fun! Since we were so close to Camelback, we decided to do the hike afterwords! It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast hiking together and soaking in the sunshine. It was more challenging and steep than I anticipated, but it felt so good to do a hike again after only skiing for the past couple of months! The views from the top were also incredible!

The bride and groom hosted a cookout at their home in Phoenix that evening after the wedding, and it was a great chance to see them again and socialize with everyone at the wedding who stayed in town! They have the cutest back yard with a fire pit and it felt like a summer BBQ.

SUNDAY

On Sunday my friend Haley and I had brunch at the cutest crepe restaurant in Tempe, and it was nice to have the morning to relax before our flight home. I left that afternoon and came home to a blizzard and freezing rain, so I missed the warmth immediately. I’m so excited to have friends and family down in Arizona so I can go back and visit often!

 

Home for the Holidays

This year was our first Christmas as a married couple, and it was so fun to be back in Wisconsin for the Holiday’s with both of our families! We fit in so much during our 10 days home and I can’t wait to share our favorite traditions and memories back home. It was bittersweet coming back to Utah after such a fun week, but we felt ready to be back and start the new year in our new home.

HUDSON

We spend the first 4 days of our trip in Hudson, where my Husband Matt’s family is from. We got lots of family time with his immediate family and extended families on both sides. It was so great to see everyone! Some of the highlights were going to Christmas Eve Mass with Matt’s Grandpa, that is his favorite tradition. Another favorite memory was hiking at Willow River State Park with Matt and his siblings to the waterfall on Christmas Day. It is gorgeous this time of year! We also played lots of rounds of our favorite board game, Ticket to Ride.

LA CROSSE

The day after Christmas we went a few hours south to the La Crosse Area to spend time with my family. We got to see my parents, Grandparents, and a few friends! I missed not having my brother home since he recently moved to Phoenix, but I will get to celebrate with him in less than a month when I visit. A few highlights were going to our favorite spots in our college town, including Grandad’s Bluff, our college campus, and favorite Bar & Grill Howie’s. We also played lots of Ticket to Ride with my parents, and Grandma surprised us all being the champ her first time playing!

APPLETON

For the weekend after Christmas we traveled to the East side of the state to visit my extended family. On our way there I was able to celebrate my college friend Kelly’s bridal shower and see all of my college besties! After that we went to our family Christmas and did a secret Santa gift exchange and played lots of rounds of catch phrase. The boys pulled ahead this year, but I’m confident the girls will take back the lead next year 🙂

PACKER GAME

The next day we traveled north to Green Bay to cheer on our favorite NFL team, the Packers! It was a great experience being at Lambeau Field again, and the weather was around 30 degrees so we weren’t freezing! They had a tough season and didn’t score any points this game, but we still had a blast and the crowd is amazing.

NEW YEARS

After our long trip across the state, we decided to stay close to home & the airport for New Years, especially since we were flying back to Utah the next day. We spend New Years dinner with Matt’s friends and the evening in Minneapolis with my college friends! It was so fun catching up and playing our favorite game, salad bowls.

Overall it was a great trip back to the Midwest, but we are so excited to be making Utah our home. I can’t wait to make this a yearly tradition!

San Francisco Friendsgiving!

For Thanksgiving break I flew to San Francisco to visit friends from my hometown in Wisconsin! It was different not being home with family in Wisconsin, but we had so much fun exploring the Bay Area. Our hosts Gabby and Kyle planned out three packed days for us to see different parts of the city. They hosted the perfect weekend trip, and I can’t wait to go visit again, hopefully with my Husband next time!

DAY 1 – PACIFIC COAST

On Thanksgiving day we drove Hwy 1 and visited all of the small towns along the coast. It was my first time seeing the Pacific coast on the US side and it was beautiful! We started with the Santa Cruz pier to watch the surfers and sea lions and made our way north to Davenport, where we stopped for lunch. Next we went to the Pigeon Point Light House, and then drove to Half Moon Bay where we had a sunset picnic and went to Thanksgiving Dinner at the Moss Beach Distillery. The food, drinks, and company was amazing!

DAY 2 – SILICON VALLEY

On Friday we went to Palo Alto to visit Stanford University’s campus, downtown, and a few tech company headquarters. Stanford’s campus was incredible! We walked around the main quad, visited the bookstore, and pretended we went there 🙂 Next we visited downtown Palo Alto and grabbed brunch at Local Union and coffee at The Blue Coffee shop. Their downtown restaurant and shopping area was adorable and packed with black Friday shoppers! We visited Google’s campus and rode the bikes around, then saw Instagram and Facebook. Their campuses were pretty incredible! Our last stop before heading back home was for a Winery tasting and Thomas Fogarty Winery in the mountains. It was pouring rain and foggy at that point, so we didn’t get to see the incredible views of the bay but the wine was delicious! We went to a local favorite Mexican restaurant in Redwood City for dinner and had some drinks downtown!

DAY 3 – SAN FRANCISCO

On our last day we drove into downtown San Francisco to visit Gabby and Kyle’s favorite spots. We had just enough time to see the highlights of the city before I left for the airport. Our first stop was driving down Lombard Street. It was pretty cool to see in person! Next we get to the top of Coit Tower to see 360 degree views of the city. It was the first clear day in a while with no fog, so the views of the bridges and downtown were amazing! Next we drove to see the Golden Gate Bridge and took lots of pictures. We drove across the bridge to have lunch at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito, CA. The restaurant had great views of the Bay and the downtown area was very cute! We went to a spot north of the Golden Gate Bridge to take in views of the city from up above before heading back to downtown. We drove past the piers where there were tons of tourists, through the Little Italy and Chinatown neighborhoods, and stopped at the Painted Ladies houses from Full House before leaving for the airport. There were so many fun spots in the city and I can’t wait to come back so I can explore them more! Overall it was a great Friendsgiving trip to the Bay Area!

 

 

Escalante Road Trip!

I surprised Matt with a trip to Southern Utah this past weekend for our first Utah getaway! Our friends had been to Escalante and recommended a few hikes and camping in the Yurts (aka Glamping) 🙂 I booked one night in the Yurt, so we roadtripped early Saturday morning and came back Sunday afternoon! We had time to fit in two beautiful hikes and had a blast camping! I would highly recommend this trip for couples and groups of friends. The drive is only about 5 hours south of Salt Lake City.

PEEK-A-BOO & SPOOKY SLOT CANYONS

This hike was the most unique and mentally challenging hikes we’ve done. It is 3 miles and 500 ft of elevation, but the challenge comes in fitting through the slot canyon. The trail is only marked with Cairns (rocks stacked to mark where the trail leads), and you do not get cell service; I would recommend downloading the map beforehand. We were lucky to meet someone who had done this hike many times before, so he guided us to the trail loop and through the slot canyons. We started going up Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon and that was a little bit wider throughout the canyon. I could fit with my  backpack on most of the way through. The most challenging part was scaling up the rocks at the beginning. Next, we went down Spooky Slot Canyon; it was a lot smaller so we almost got stuck a few times and had to turn around. I ended up carrying my day backpack most of the way and both Matt and I had to squeeze through some spots. You have to climb down some boulders about 10ft high, but there are ropes to guide you. It is definitely not for people who are claustrophobic, but we felt so accomplished after! We visited one wider slot canyon after and headed back to the car. The trail is about an hour each way on a bumpy dirt road, so we were glad we took the SUV with a higher clearance.

YURT CAMPING

We stayed at the Escalante Yurts, and it was an amazing experience! The owners are fantastic, and we loved the size and amenities of our Yurt. We rented the smallest size, it had a King bed and a Queen pull out couch. They have yurts that fit up to 10 people. It had everything that a hotel room has like a bathroom, fridge, microwave, grill, heat & A/C, but it was located at a camp site. We were so happy we stayed here after a long day of traveling and hiking!

LOWER CALF CREEK FALLS

This hike is 5.5 miles and 500 ft of elevation. It follows the bottom of a canyon in Escalante National Monument along a river. The trailhead is located at a campground and easy to get to from the main highway that we took to get home. The the views were beautiful along the whole hike and the elevation was a lot of up and down. The waterfall at the end was amazing and it was probably the biggest I’ve ever seen. It was definitely worth the stop to hike on our way home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zion National Park

This past weekend my friend Maggie and I road tripped to Southern Utah to visit Zion National Park. It’s my first trip to a National Park in Utah, and it was an amazing experience. We left early Saturday morning and drove back Sunday evening. It was the perfect amount of time to fit in 3 hikes, camp, and explore the park and surrounding areas. I am so excited to share our favorite hikes and activities!

ANGELS LANDING

We left Salt Lake City at 6:30am Saturday morning and arrived at Zion around 11am. Parking is limited in the National Park, so we parked on the street in Springdale, UT and took the free shuttle to the park entrance. There is another free shuttle once you get into the park that takes you to 9 different stops with hikes at each one. That whole process took about an hour due to Saturday afternoon crowds. Angel’s Landing was at the top of our Zion bucket list, so we decided to spend our Saturday afternoon hiking to the top. It’s a 5.5 mile round trip hike with about 1500ft of elevation change. The first 2.5 miles are a series of switchbacks; the part of the hike with chains and a steep incline is about .5 miles long at the top. There are plenty of beautiful lookouts throughout the hike that you can stop at, especially for those who are not going to do the last part of the hike. The incline is scary looking at it from the bottom, but there are chains to hold onto almost the whole way up. Some parts are too narrow for people to go both directions, so we had to wait for groups to pass a couple of times. The views from the top were absolutely worth the climb, but I would not recommend for anyone who is truly afraid of heights or if the weather is rainy or snowy. The steep drop offs on each side are pretty intense. The way down was a lot easier and faster than the way up and the rocks are almost carved out into steps. Everyone on the hike is going at a different pace, so patience is key! I made sure to wear my Green Bay Packers shirt, and I met a lot of Wisconsinites and Packer fans along the way!

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LOWER EMERALD POOLS

On the way back from Angels landing, we decided to hike to the Lower Emerald Pools. It’s a 1 mile hike with less than 100 ft of elevation change. It is perfect for families and people of all hiking abilities. The waterfall was almost dried up from the summer, but it was still beautiful. It was a great way to end our Saturday in the park!

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BLM LAND CAMPING/RESTAURANTS

After our hikes we had dinner and a beer at the Zion Canyon Brewery, located near the Visitors Center at the edge of the park. It was a perfect day to eat on the patio and enjoy the views of Zion! After dinner we drove to Sheep Ridge Rd about 25 min outside the park where there is public BLM land to camp at for free. We set up our tent near a few other families with RV’s, but the wind picked up and it was constantly rattling our tent. We decided it wasn’t worth fighting the wind and not getting good sleep, so we ended up car camping and slept great! The next morning we woke up to the most beautiful sunrise over the park and then the storms kicked in. We knew that there was a chance of thunderstorms all morning, but we headed into the park again to take advantage of our last day. Although we planned on making camp food with our stove all weekend, we decided to grab coffee and breakfast at a local coffee shop in Springdale to avoid the rain and fuel up for our long hike.

 

OBSERVATION POINT

After breakfast, we arrived at the park around 9am. Due to the storms, there was plenty of parking inside the park and no crowds. We took the shuttle up to our trailhead and started hiking to Observation Point. It’s an 8 mile round trip hike with 2100 ft of elevation change. It was a gradual incline the entire way up, so it was perfect for conversation and soaking in the views! Maggie and I met our new friend Claire on our Angel’s Landing hike the day before, and we had dinner together Saturday night. Claire was traveling alone, so all 3 of us went on this hike together! The rain, hail, and thunderstorms were on and off the entire way up, so we were glad we came prepared with rain gear and warm layers. It was a total 180 from the weather on Saturday, but it made the hike fun and less crowded. At the top, we were so close to the thunder and lightning, but it was pretty cool to see the storm roll in over the entire Zion Canyon. The views were incredible despite the weather, and the storms cleared up as we made our descent. The landscape of the hike changed so much throughout the 4 miles, and there were parts that looked similar to The Narrows hike. We couldn’t do The Narrows hike due to risk of flash floods on Sunday, but it’s definitely on my list for next time we visit Zion!

 

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Overall it was an amazing first trip to Southern Utah, and I can’t wait to visit the rest of the National Parks in this upcoming year!

Jackson Hole Girls Weekend

Jackson Hole, WY was one of the places my family and I visited before I went off to college. We did an entire west coast road trip, and this was one of my favorite spots! Since I moved to Salt Lake City, I couldn’t wait to go back. Two of my friends from work wanted to visit as well, so we road tripped for the weekend and it was so fun to be back!

SATURDAY

Jackson Hole is a 5 hour drive from Salt Lake, so we started driving around 6am Saturday Morning. It was worth the early wake up call to get there by noon and check into our hotel before adventuring at the ski resort! We stayed at the Snow King Lodge in Jackson Hole, a beautiful hotel right up against the mountains.

We drove to the ski resort about 20 miles out of town, and we took the big ski gondola up to the top of the mountain. We were at around 10,000 ft of elevation at the top, and you could definitely feel the thin air. We were happy we decided to ride to the top and hike down instead of the other way around 🙂 The views from the top were so beautiful! You were surrounded by mountains and you could see Grand Teton National Park from there. We rode a smaller gondola down after our hike and had lunch at the bottom of the mountain. It was fun to revisit the same spots my family had been just 6 years earlier!

Next we visited Grand Teton National Park. We didn’t have time for a full hike, but we swam in Jenny Lake, one of the most popular lakes in the Park! The views were spectacular and the water felt so fresh and clean. We came close to a bear on the hiking trail to the lake, but thank goodness someone warned us before and we quickly turned around.

When we got back to town we had dinner and drinks at Melvin Brewery. We made sure to pick up some Utah beer to bring back to our Husbands!

SUNDAY

We explored downtown Jackson on Sunday and grabbed brunch at the Genevieve Cafe, it was so cute! The downtown has a western feel and is touristy. We did some shopping before checking out of our hotel and heading to our white water rafting adventure. We went rafting on the snake river with Dave Hansen Rafting Company and it was a blast! We got to meet so many people from all over the country who were vacationing in Jackson and the experience was so fun. After a few hours on the water, we made the trip back to Salt Lake on Sunday evening.

I can’t wait to go back to Wyoming and spend more time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks next summer!

Lake Tahoe

My husband Matt and I road tripped to South Lake Tahoe, NV for our friends wedding in September! It was a beautiful destination for a wedding, and we are so happy we could be there to celebrate with the new Mr. & Mrs. Orr! Tahoe is about an 8 hour drive from Salt Lake City, but we made a couple of stops along the way to break the trip up.

On Friday we road tripped to Reno, NV and stayed with some friends from Wisconsin. Saturday bright and early we went to the largest Air Balloon Festival in the country! People from all over the world come to race their air balloons around different parts of the city. It was amazing to be up close to see them inflate take off the ground. We got to see the sunrise as all of the air balloons were taking off, and it was one of the coolest experiences!

After the air balloon festival, we drove about an hour to Lake Tahoe where we had a beach day! The beach is hard to come by in Utah, so it was something we missed from back home in the Midwest and wanted to do while we were here. We parked at the Chimney beach trail head at the east end of Lake Tahoe and made the short hike down to the beach. It was a beautiful, quiet beach and we were some of the first people there that morning. The water was so blue, calm, and clear, something we had never seen before in a lake! The temperature was perfect for swimming and felt so refreshing. We hung out, swam, had a picnic, took a nap, and rode the waves in our inflatable tubes as the water picked up in the afternoon. It felt like we were at a wave pool back home in the WI Dells! It was definitely worth the trip.

After the beach, we drove about a half hour to South Lake Tahoe, were the wedding would take place. We got ready at our hotel and walked to the Edgewood Tahoe venue. It was a beautiful venue right on the water, and it had the prettiest views! We attended the wedding and got to meet so many new friends! It was a perfect night to celebrate and the sunset was amazing!

The next morning we checked out and went on a short hike overlooking the lake on our way out of town. It was a perfect 1 mile hike to stretch our legs before the long drive home! We definitely made the most of our 24 hours in Lake Tahoe, and we can’t wait to make this a yearly trip! Next time we’ll make it a long weekend and do some more hiking! 🙂