Thursday, June 20, 2013

"What the hell... It's Bonnaroo!"

It's been far too long since I've posted about our trip...

Since Denver, we went to Bonnaroo and the Great Smoky Mountains. Now we are in North Carolina at Lake Normand visiting with Darren's family friends. It's beautiful here on the lake. We enjoyed swimming, sleeping in a comfy bed, doing laundry, and relaxing while here. There's not many pictures to share (Victoria took most of the pictures and will post those to FB from Bonnaroo), so this post will be short and sweet.

Darren and I highly recommend Bonnaroo! We had a great time with our friends Russell and Victoria and her family. We really want to go next year, and we think Molly and Greg would love to go too!!! I don't know the line up for next year yet, but if it looks good, you can count on Darren and me going. In that case, here are 10 things to remember for Bonnaroo 2014:
  1. Pack a pop-up tent to block the sun and keep dry in the rain
  2. Arrive Thursday morning
  3. Get a handicap tag for the car
  4. Get to the headliner stage at least 1 hour prior to the show
  5. Bring body paint
  6. Paint the car windows
  7. Don't eat the giant burritos
  8. Get your hair washed at the Garnier Fructis tent fo free
  9. Pack toilet paper in your day pack
  10. Bring head lamps to the last show of the day, so you can find your tent!
The best concert at Bonnaroo had to be Jack Johnson. I love him! His "What the hell... It's Bonnaroo" song was my favorite. Check it out here. My other favorites were Tom Petty and Macklemore. 

The Great Smoky Mountains were uneventful. It rained for 2 days. It was very green there. Other than that, Darren and I have seen more beautiful landscapes on our travels. 

Picture time

Professional spray painter painting of a bird at Bonnaroo

Paul McCartney!

The arch!

The mushroom fountain! Saw some interesting folks splashing around in here!

Elk Crossing in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mts.
We are headed in D.C. tomorrow to spend time with my cousin Jim! We should be in CT by Sunday. Wow... it's been over a month since we've left, and we've done and seen so much. I can't believe it's time to go home already!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Grand Canyon, Zion, and Denver Fun

Hello! After a long 10 hour journey, Darren and I made it to Denver yesterday evening. We're here visiting his friends from high school. We had a delicious dinner last night--turkey burgers, corn on the cob, and banana chocolate chip bread. YUM! Thanks Tessa, Tony, and Tyler! And a BIG THANK YOU to Brian for having us!

Before Denver, we were in the Grand Canyon for 2 days and in Zion National Park for 1 day...both had temperatures topping 107 degrees. Not my kinda weather for sure. Broke out in the typical heat rash and got a little sunburnt, but we're trying our best to stay cool!

The Grand Canyon was unlike any place we've seen so far. It's huge first of all!!! The views go on for miles upon miles. Darren and I camped just 45 minutes outside of the park at Jacob Lake campground. We spent the whole day in the park on Saturday. We hiked about 7 miles into the canyon from the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail. The whole trail runs to the Colorado River, but we didn't make it that far. It was the hardest hike I've ever done (harder than Mt Washington). The terrain was pure sand, which makes going uphill a harder challenge. The temperature was easily 107 and damn did it feel like it! I was so happy when we finished the hike. Fighting heat exhaustion was our focus over the beautiful views from the hike. Advice: don't do a strenuous hike in that kinda weather without 3 liters of water per person. Luckily, we had enough water and snacks!

After the hike, we went to the visiters center and took pictures from the North Rim. Then we enjoyed showers at the North Rim Campground. We were glad to get all the sand and sweat off from the hike.

On Sunday we drove 2 hours to Zion National Park. We camped in South Campground. Thank goodness we got there at 8 AM because they didn't have any vacancy shortly after we claimed a campsite. We set up camp, packed up our day pack, and took the free shuttle around the park. They use a free but mandatory shuttle throughout the park to cut down on car fumes and traffic--love it! Darren and I enjoyed the breeze from the bus (another 107 degree day) as we listened to a voice recording on the bus speakers of the history and info of the park. We got off at a few stops to explore along the way and did 2 hikes. We hiked a short distance to Weeping Rock, and we did a longer 3ish mile hike on the Emerald Pools Trail. It was beautiful to see the water literally weeping from the rock faces. The dripping water from above formed pools and waterfalls below. It was refreshing to step into the pools with our shoes after the hot hike.

After the hikes, we took the shuttle back to our campground and changed into our bathing suits. Then, we walked a short distance to the Virgin Rivers that runs behind the campground. We waded and swam in the river all afternoon in the evening. It was nice to cool off from the heat. Thank goodness for all these water features!

Now we are in Denver! Darren thinks the city reminds him of Chicago--with the wide sidewalks and clean streets. It's a neat place. Brian is trying to convince us to move here. We're not opposed! haha

We are headed to St. Louis tomorrow morning and spending the night. Then we will probably spend Wednesday night in Nashville and wake up early on Thursday morning to get our car in line at BONNAROO! It's almost here! WOOHOO! :)

Kaibab Trail into the Grand Canyon
The plants were taller than Darren!

We ate lunch on this bench. Jealous of our view?

Zion National Park

On the Emerald Pools Trail

Shuttle ride!

Lower Emerald Pool


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Viva Las Vegas

Time flies when you're having fun!

It's Thursday night, and Darren and I just finished a delicious meal at Sensi in the Bellagio. Holy smokes... our food was amazing! Darren had pork chops, and I had halibut. If you stay at the Bellagio the next time you're in Vegas, you gotta try this restaurant. They use natural, local foods, but it's not bland at all. 5 stars in our books!

Backing up...
Darren and I made it to Las Vegas today after a 7 hour drive from Sequoia National Park. We saw the largest tree on Earth there (General Sherman) and did a nice hike through the Giant Forest. WOW! These trees are HUGE! While on our hike, we had 2 different encounters with deer. What beautiful animals to watch. I'll admit, I was a bit scared that there was going to be a bear on our hike because we were in the thick forest, but luckily, we didn't see any. Some thunder during the hike made us pick up our pace a bit though. We had to rush back to the campground (Lodgepole Village) to throw our rainfly over the tent because we hadn't done it during our quick set up a few hours previous. The tent didn't get too wet in the rain. Phew! Overall, we had a great, speedy trip to Sequoia. Unfortunately, we didn't made it up to King's Canyon. Next time! We did see a bear though! Last night there were 2 black bear cubs in the campground. Didn't see Momma...

On Monday and Tuesday we were in Yosemite National Park... another beautiful place on Earth. The views from Glacier Point were beyond anything I've ever seen before. Darren and I also got other great views from the surrounding waterfalls and giant mountains from a river rafting adventure we did. We rented a raft and rafted down the river running through the valley over a course of 3 miles. Also, we hiked the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls. Gorgeous! I feel like I keep saying the same adjectives for every place we visit, but these places are really breathtaking. One downfall to Yosemite was Tamarack Flats, the campground where we spent 2 nights. As we turned left onto the road to the campground, we found it was extremely rough with potholes etc. Also, right next to the check in area, there was a heaping pile of trash on the ground. This is bear country people!!! Clean up your crap! The campground was buggy and had loud people that were up til 5 AM shouting, but nothing we could do about that. I was glad when we left the campground, but we didn't let it take away from the nice time we had in Yosemite.

Over the weekend, we visited Darren's friend Spencer. He lives on the Stanford University campus, so he gave us the tour. Wow... another beautiful place! He also brought us into Palo Alto that night to watch the Bruins beat the Penguins! Woot woot! Go B's!!! On Sunday, Spencer gave us a quick, touristy tour of San Francisco. We went to Fishermen's Pier, got clam chowder, saw the sea lions (loved em), got an ice cream shake at Ghirardelli, and went to the top of a hill to overlook the city. It was great to see a friend along the way since it's been 2 weeks or so since we've left. Thank you Spencer! We will come and see you again :)

Here's is the itinerary for the next several days:
Tomorrow: 5 hour drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Friday and Saturday nights: enjoy the Grand Canyon
Sunday: arrive to Zion or Bryce National Parks in Utah and spend 1 night
Monday & Tuesday: Denver to see another one of Darren's friends, Brian!

Hey sea lions!


Me, D, and Spencer

At the top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite

It was a long way to the top!

Yosemite from the top of Glacier Pt.

Half Dome view from Glacier Pt.


Largest waterfall in North America!

Time to go see General Sherman! Largest tree in the world!

That's a big tree up there!

General Sherman

A deer we spotted on the Congress Trail in the Giant Forest


So you get the perspective on just how HUGE this trees are

View from our hotel room at the Bellagio. We spent some of the afternoon swimming. It was 105 degrees here today!

Darren and I had an appetizer along The Strip just to the left of  the Eiffel Tower.
Until next time! Probably while in Denver I'll update again! xoxo