Zion / Grand Canyon / Phoenix ~ Spring Break 2018

The fog had rested over the red cliffs behind our tent after the thunderstorm during the night.

Finally getting around to blogging about my Spring Break Trip with two of the most wonderful people ~ Liv and Viv! I am so thankful for their friendship and their willingness to let me tag along on this 1,000+ mile, one-way drive, because it was full of adventure and lots of amazing photo opportunities. 

We left Boise at about 3:00 in the rain on the Thursday before Spring Break, which meant that we got to our campsite (near Zion) in the dark and even more rain at about midnight. We couldn't see anything as we hurried to unload what we needed for the morning and get into the tent before we got hit with a massive thunderstorm that shook our tent all night. Because of our limited visibility when we pulled into the campsite, our views in the morning were even more amazing.  

Each one of us let out a "WOAH" as we left the tent and looked onto the fog that was resting over the red cliffs behind us, which we had not known existed when we had pulled in. Liv, Viv, and I opted for a slow morning of getting ready and eating baked oatmeal before heading to Zion National Park.

Baked oatmeal for breakfast, and a scenic view of port-a-potties

Both Liv and Viv didn't love these photos, but I'm including them because #reallife

Zion

We were expecting rain while we were in the park, so we packed for the worst. However, when we arrived at Zion an hour later, there was still no rain, and we drove right into the park. (Which we later found out is a big deal because usually by the time that we had gotten to the park, about 10:00am, all of the parking is full and it can take hours to get into the park and find parking. Yay almost rain!)

Angel's Landing

Our first hike was Angel's Landing. With an elevation change of about 1500 feet, it winds for five miles along a river, up several switchbacks, along the side of a rocky, red cliff lined with chain link to hold onto, all to get to the best view in the park. The weather stayed at the perfect temperature for hiking, with only a few raindrops ever falling. Needless to say, it was an amazing hike that was definitely worth the view, and, more importantly, the sandwiches that we had at the top.

The start of the hike overlooks a small waterfall that is attached to the river that part of the trail follows.

Viv was way more excited about the sandwiches then the actual hike. 

The view from the top of Angel's Landing is pretty neat.

The Adventure Hat's inaugural hike was one for the books. 

Weeping Rock & Upper Pool

We got back to the base of the Angel's Landing with plenty of daylight left, so we took the shuttle to an easy half mile hike called Weeping Rock. It was a nice break for our legs after our first hike, and it lead to a desert waterfall that pours from the rocks. (I didn't really take any pictures there because of how wet it was).

After Weeping Rock, we shuttled over to the Emerald Pools. We chose to hike to the Upper Pool. We followed the three-mile trail to the Upper Pool through the Lower and Middle Pools. There's a section where we sludged through orange puddles of clay that suctioned to our feet as we climbed upwards behind a waterfall. Our shoes were covered at that point. At the top, we found ourselves at the base of a small waterfall, surrounded by greenery, which was seemingly out of place in the desert.

We were blessed with the weather ending up being different than the forecast, but even then, Zion was pretty crowded. I would say for anyone planning a trip to Zion, because a pass into the park is good for a whole week, it is definitely worth it to go even if the weather is not perfect! (Just be safe, you know, because flash floods and thunderstorms). 

We have fire

Twelve miles of walking and hiking later, we were exhausted and hungry and on our way back to the campsite with firewood in hand. We were very excited for a delicious campfire meal of potatoes, onions, peppers, and ground meat wrapped in tin foil. Unfortunately, thanks to the thunderstorm the evening before, everything, including our fire pit, was soaking wet.

Our first hour of attempts resulted in a lot of smoke and only a little bit of fire, but hungry women with fire starter (borrowed from our neighboring campers) should never be underestimated. After taking a break to watch the beautiful sunset, we continued our fire endeavors into dusk, where we had finally evaporated enough water from our fire pit to get our potatoes cooking and keep our hungry bodies warm. (The food turned out perfectly, and was even more delicious than expected, probably because we were so hungry).

Excited that there was a cool sunset despite the lack of food/fire.

As we sat by the fire (which was mainly just fueled by stubbornness), I propped my camera up on the arm of the chair using a paper bowl to keep the lens steady to capture some long exposure shots of the stars that were now peppering the night sky. These were some of my favorite photos of the entire trip, and I think they prove that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to take fancy pictures. (I have also had people ask if these were Photoshopped, and they weren't! Everything was done in-camera, besides minor sharpening and color correction in post processing).

I didn't realize that I had caught a shooting star until later when I loaded all of the photos onto my computer!

Grand Canyon

As the sun rose the next day, the three of us (sore, tired, and un-caffeinated), drove towards the Grand Canyon. The drive was through a lot of ghost-looking towns, like (Cliff Dwellers), that made Radiator Springs from the movie Cars look like Vegas. Others looked almost exactly Radiator Springs. Our search for coffee was a long one, and at one point we slowed completely to a stop in front of a bar/motel/grocery, which was the only building we had seen for an hour and also was surrounded by nothing else, only to drive off again as the old man that was sitting on the porch squinted at our car. Nonetheless, we found coffee at a tiny diner in the middle of nowhere, and finally made it to some Grand views.

A coyote greeted us at the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park

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We didn't do any hikes in the Grand Canyon, but we enjoyed the scenic outlooks a s well as some fun photo-ops.

Phoenix

We were greeted by Viv's family in Phoenix by warm hugs and even warmer showers (which were amazing because the Adventure Hat wasn't the only thing that smelled, if ya catch my drift.)

Roadrunner

The second half of our trip was quite a contrast to the first half of our trip; we spent the first evening in Phoenix at a bar that really let us experience the country part of Arizona. (Roadrunner) I am now on a mission to find a bar like this in Idaho, because it had it all -- bull riding (like, an actual rodeo), swing dancing, enthusiastic 20-somethings celebrating their friend's birthday, and a very redneck and wonderful bonfire. Here's a crappy phone photo that doesn't do this place justice: 

Spring Training 

Liv's one request was that we went to Spring Training while we were in Phoenix (mine was that we get Mexican food, imagine that) -- so we got $8 tickets to sit on the grass and watch the Mariners play the Padres at Peoria. Even though I don't like baseball, I felt like a true American sitting and watching the game while eating a soft serve cone. (And of course we took pictures because that's also the American thing to do).

Peep @ the guy throwing the peace sign

The rest of our time spent in Phoenix was either poolside, at a coffeeshop, at a restaurant, being tourists, or hiking Camelback (A great hike in Phoenix, especially if you like climbing rocks). We took more pictures, so captions are provided if they're at all interesting. 

Harriet the Hummingbird made a nest in Viv's parents' backyard, and is officially a mom at the time of my writing this post!

We ate at The Baked Bear, which specializes in doughnut ice cream sandwiches!!!

Liv was really excited about a bird in the tree

 At the top of Camelback

At the top of Camelback

I was sad to leave all of the adventures and new sights (This Idaho girl had no idea how tall cacti get!!), but I was so happy to get to share these experiences with two lovely ladies. I'll definitely have to make a trip back to Arizona soon. (Anyone wanna model for me in the desert???)


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