How Zion Stole My Heart

 

The last leg of our trip was scheduled for Zion… I’m gonna be really honest and say Zion has never been on the top of my list. It didn’t matter how many photos I saw, how many videos I watched, Zion was one place I had no desire to see… But as I drove on the winding road through the enormous rock formations that took us into a dark tunnel that had been blasted out I was slowly getting intrigued. The tunnel had these ginormous cutouts that gave you just a little peep to what was about to come. As the tunnel ends it opens up onto a curvy road that takes you down the side of a mountain and the view is impeccable. Pull offs are plentiful and everywhere you turn is the perfect spot for a photo.  We drove through the park and couldn’t help but notice how the landscape changes almost around every corner. My husband had chosen for us to hike Observation Point months before the trip. We parked right outside the park and used the parks free bus system to get to the trail. Observation point is a 4-mile strait up switchback and was easily one of the most challenging trails I’ve ever hiked… but was totally worth it and only furthered my love for this amazing park. This trail gave us the opportunity to really get deep in the canyon, play in some creek beds and see the park from the top. After hiking the full 8 miles (up and down) we were beat for the day and retreated back to our lodging. The next day in the park we relaxed, made a few side stops and took some time to view the wildlife.  Zion is a must see and I am so thankful I got to experience it for myself. Utah is truly full of surprises.

Addi Goes To Antelope Canyon

The last two months have been a complete whirl wind. After our trip from out west we immediately had to start preparing for all the festivities that come along with the Fall and Winter months. Besides Addi turning the big 10, we spent Thanksgiving in the Smokey Mountain National Park and as soon as we were home it was time for all the Christmas hoopla…

My last post left off with us leaving the Grand Canyon making our way around to Bryce Canyon… Between the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon we toured Horse Shoe Bend and Upper Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is something that I have had on my bucket list for years. The tour isn’t free but it is well worth the money. We booked through Navajo Tours and were fortunate enough to have a Navajo tour guide for the adventure. Laverne, our tour guide spent her youth playing in the canyon. Because of her knowledge of the canyon we were able to walk away with some beautiful photos of the light bouncing off the canyon walls and some of the history of the canyon. When arriving at Navajo tours you pull up to a building no bigger than a garden shed, a couple of port a potties and trucks that have benches in the back. When divided into groups you are loaded into the back of your tour guides truck and from there your driven about 3 miles into the middle of the desert. If you’ve never been to the desert the temps are all over the place so it was a cold, bumpy and beautiful 3 miles. Laverne lead us through each section of the canyon and when we reached the end she was kind enough to take some time with Addi to show her how the canyons were formed with water and the sand around the canyon. She also gave Addi a bag of the sand to take home to show her class mates how it was formed… that ultimately earned us a little extra time with TSA when we went to fly home. As we said goodbye to Antelope Canyon and we made our way down to Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend is as terrifying as it is beautiful. The steep drop offs, rocky landscape and emerald green water make it truly unique. Horseshoe Bend was extremely busy so we snapped a few photos and went on our way. Later that afternoon we pulled into Bryce Canyon. With only a short amount time to spend in Bryce, we quickly found our way to the Hoodoos to hike through them. Hiking through the Hoodoos as the sun went down was picturesque. We spent our time hiking a small switch back trail that lead us to Queens Garden. The trail was easy with wide paths so it’s a perfect trail for even those with little to no hiking experience. I would l have loved to have spent more time in Bryce but there is always next time. We watched the sun go down and made it to our lodging for the night. Next post I’ll share the last leg of our trip and what park I was so pleasantly surprised with… Until next time… Thank you for following along.

Grand Canyon Trip Pt. 1

 

I think I may have started this post twenty times and every time I would start to type I would be at a loss for words. I’ll start by saying due to the craziness of everyday life I didn’t get a few posts done that I wanted to get written before we left done and for the fact this is pleasure I didn’t want to force out just a post.  Several months ago, we booked another trip out west, this time we wanted to see the south west. This trip would include Addi’s first plane ride, seeing the bright lights on the Vegas strip, looking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, taking a tour of upper Antelope Canyon, peeking over the edge at Horse Shoe Bend, hiking through the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon and climbing the eight-mile round trip switch back trail to the Over Look at Zion National Park.  I’ll break this post up into a few parts since we could cover so much ground during this trip.

Part One:

We flew out of Cincinnati on October 1st to Vegas, little did we know we would be next to where the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history would take place that very night and how I had prayed so hard that God would keep us safe on the plane but he not only did that he kept us in that night away from the chaos. Thirty minutes before our hotel shuttle picked us up to drop us on the strip, Addi asked to stay in and swim, so we got our swim clothes on and decided to rest up, hit the pool and check out down town the day before we flew out.

Since we stayed right off the strip we were not on lock down and were able to leave the city early the next morning on our way to the Grand Canyon. I know I have told you all before but we are not big on fast food, so naturally our first stop that morning was Walmart.  We like to stock up on water, fruits and healthier snacks to fill the gaps between meals so were not forced to settle for fast food. This not only is better for you but seriously saves a ton of money. We took our time getting to GCNP and made several stops along the way. One of my favorite stops was Flintstones Bed Rock City, its super cheesy but a must, we found it on youtube a few years back and swore we would stop if we ever drove by it. The Grand Canyon has never been at the top of my must-see spots but it was a big beautiful hole in the ground… pretty much what I expected. It was crowded but not to the point I ever felt over ran. The small trail along the south rim that takes you to Grand Canyon village was nice and accessible to everyone. It was paved and pretty much flat. The trail offered beautiful views of the Canyon on one side as well as some elk taking shade on the other side of the path. What I was most excited about was the tarantula that crossed right in front of us, I had no idea they were so common there. Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is one of my favorite parts about exploring. Because of our late booking we had to stay a few miles down the road out of the park, I scored us a room at the Red Feather Lodge, it was cheap, clean and had been kept up well. We were pleased and would stay there again. Its located right across from the Big E steak house that I highly recommend. The food and service were both top notch.  Next post I’ll tell you about Antelope Canyon and how it’s a must see if your ever in Arizona. Thanks for taking the time to check out my post and as always if you have any questions please feel free to let me know.. Good night.

Do your kids love live music ?

I’ve always been a music lover and a concert fanatic! There is nothing like the feeling of the lights going dim and hearing the the first band start to play. So naturally Addi has grew up exposed to music and has became a lover of it herself.  Over the last couple of years we’ve worked to help her check off her “band bucket list “. One of the most recent shows we took her to was Twentyøne Piløts and honestly I enjoyed it as much as she did ! They are fantastic live and really make their self accessible to all their fans. They were in the floor , on the stage  and  in the nosebleed section! So if you have the opportunity to expose you’re little ones to live music , do it ! It will be amazing and is truly an adventure ! (Note : Be sure to purchase proper sound blocking headphones or ear ware ).

YELLOWSTONE

If you have talked to me in person in the last two years there is a good chance you’ve heard about our trip to Yellowstone National Park. I went expecting to give my husband a trip he had been dreaming about for years..(  My husband is a great guy, who  would give anyone the shirt off his back and bends over backwards to make sure we know how much were loved, so I couldn’t wait to give him the chance to check  this trip off his bucket list…..  well enough of me being mushy.. back to the point..)  It took a year and a half to plan our trip out west. I’m a planner and I wanted to know everything I could before we made this trip. I found out the hard way the Old Faithful Inn books up fast.  They start accepting reservations May 1ST for the following year so if you plan on staying there you’re going to want to make reservations way in advance. Also if you choose the OLD Faithful Inn be aware there is no air conditioning, telephones or TVs in any of the rooms ( this goes for all park lodging… you won’t find a chain hotel there ).  We love staying in the old part of the inn where there are shared bathrooms.. ( fancy shower house style). There are updated rooms with private baths so don’t let the sharing of bathrooms scare you away.  Since you are short on modern entertainment, every evening in the multi story lobby surrounded by twisted wood beams, huge rocking chairs and tables just perfect for cards   you will be entertained by live music.  The nights we were visiting the inn , there was a violist , cello player  and piano player.  The soft sounds of the music echoed through the lobby while the fire crackled and the chatter of people enjoying a perfect evening surrounds you.   The inn has a hot chocolate stand as well as a cash bar right next to the balcony where you’re able to get a great view of Old Faithful in action.  I could talk about this amazing lodge and all of its great detail but there is so much more to tell you about the actual park. So if you want more details about the inn just comment below.

Yellowstone has so much more to offer then just unique lodging.. the park is 3,468 square miles of wonder. It has an abundance of hiking trails, geysers and wild life that  is sure to leave you in awe and longing to see more. Board walks are placed around the geysers for their protection and yours ( be sure to read all the warning signs ).    Board walks allow everyone to have the opportunity to get  up close to all the geyser action. Its unique landscape offers mountains, waterfalls and lakes.  Several types of guided tours  can be booked ( at a cost ) to explore these beautiful landscapes  and there are usually rangers at most of the pull offs to answer questions and talk with you about Yellowstone.

I’ll have to say this was  my favorite trip. We made memories that will last a lifetime and we can’t wait to go back next summer. I feel like when I left Yellowstone I left a piece of my heart behind.   Look for another post about our drive out to Yellowstone, how I keep Addi entertained, what a car full of picky eaters eat on such a long drive some of the amazing places we stopped along the way. Thanks again for taking the time to share in Addi’s Adventure.

Sunday Drive to Virginia

A couple of weeks ago, a friend had tagged me in a post about the Devils Bathtub trail in Fort Blackmore Va. After a bit of research, I found that the trail was roughly about 3.5 hours from me so I just had to check it out. The drive there was beautiful. Kentucky is a little bit of heaven on earth. There is nothing like driving down US 23 looking at all the farms nestled in between the rolling hills. Upon arriving to the turn off, we noticed we would be going up and back over a mountain for the next 10 miles .. this we were later told was the scenic banjo route. If you have ever seen the movie Deliverance, then you totally get the picture. Once there, we were instructed to park about a half mile from the trail head due to the limited amount of parking. Once we reached the trail head it was right at 2 miles to reach the Devils Bathtub.  The hike was labeled strenuous, but we didn’t seem to have any issues being somewhat experienced hikers. The path was well marked and there was always someone around. I think I read there was a total of around 13 creeks that you cross making your way up the trail. At the end of the trail it opens into a big creek area with mini waterfalls, flowing streams and the tub that is about 8.5 feet deep. It was crowded but everyone was easy going, people were taking turns jumping in and there was plenty of room to find a space to relax after the hike. The water was a bit cold so Addi  really wasn’t too keen on staying to long after she jumped in. She was very proud of herself for taking the plunge! If you end up making your way to Fort Blackmore to the trail, be sure to find the back way in.

Niagara Falls

I love waterfalls and Canadian chocolate, so a trip to Niagara Falls  is perfect for both ! If you have never been to Niagara it’s simply stunning and accessible for everyone ! Adults will need a passport to cross the border into Canada , but kids ( under the age of 16) accompanied by a parent can get through with their  original birth certificate. Niagara is its own little community , everything is within walking distance and there is no lack of entertainment. If you love nature, there are parks on each side of the falls that offer great views of the falls and are perfect for people watching. If you want to get a better view of the falls, the Canadian side offers a fantastic boat ride through “Hornblower Niagara “,  an up close look from behind the falls with  “Journey Behind The Falls” tour, zip lining and a needle point view. We did everything except the zip lining ( we had to save something for next time ).  My favorite  activity was a toss up between  “Journey Behind The Falls” and the “Niagara Hornblower Cruise “, they both get you really close to the falls and are both  a lot of fun! Niagara is also great for couples or adult only trips. It offers a wide variety of casinos and shopping.  ( tip… if you want to exchange your U.S. currency for Canadian currency  the casinos do it for free!) Our favorite store to visit while we are in Niagara  is the Hershey store. We always spend more money in the Hershey store then we do on anywhere else.  Canada’s Hershey recipe is a bit different than what we use here in the states,  so their  Hershey bars are a lot creamier  ( they have  light blue stripe with writing on the outside of the package ). Another favorite chocolate we love is Kinder chocolate!  It can be found and most of the gift shops and convenience stores.  Most kids who watch YouTube  will know what a ” Kinder Surprise Egg” is ! They are hard to find in the US at the moment, although Kinder is coming out with a US version  ( fingers crossed its as good as the Canadian version ). Our favorite place to stay  in Niagara is the “Double Tree by Hilton” on the Canadian side, it has a fantastic saltwater pool and spa. It’s only a few short blocks from the falls and from Clifton Hill.  Clifton Hill is full of places to eat ( fast food and such ), touristy little shops and entertainment. It truly reminds me of downtown Gatlinburg, TN. If you’re looking for a great long weekend getaway Niagara is great place to explore.

 

Christmas All Year

There is a hidden gem on the outskirts of Cleveland Ohio. This Ohio town is home to the house that was used for some of the scenes from the cult classic ” A Christmas Story “. At 3159 W 11th St, Cleveland, OH 44109 you can relive some of your favorite moments from the movie. During the tour of the house you’re encouraged to climb under the sink just like Randy , solve little orphan Annies message using the decoder pen and take photos next to the leg lamp. After you’ve posed with the lamp, held the blue ball and walked down the staircase feeling like Ralphie your  guide will lead you across the street to an actual museum. At the actual museum you will find the real props from the movie including one of the original Red Rider BB Guns. Before you leave don’t forget to check out their huge gift shop where you can buy anything from a can of Simoniz to your very own bunny costume.   I love YELP and per their reviews  The Rowley Inn was the best place to get some grub close to this iconic landmark,  its located on the corner of the intersection right by the house. The food was fantastic and the portions were huge. Its a small bar  ( all ages welcome to eat ) and it gives you the feeling of what it would have been like to walk into Cheers. An added bonus, if you take your tour ticket with you, they take 10% off your dinner cost. So for all you Christmas lovers this is a great way to celebrate anytime of the year.

 

Acadia

This past May, we had the opportunity to explore the upper New England states with our main destination being Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island right outside Bar Harbor Maine. Maine is a picturesque state with its craggy cliff sides meeting the deep blue ocean.  Although Acadia is full of hiking trials we couldn’t seem to stay away from Sand Beach.  The water was a whopping 41 degrees but that didn’t seem to matter to most beach goers.  People of all ages were jumping in … and running right back out. The only hang up with Sand Beach were  the dang birds. They were as aggressive as the Squirrels  in NYC, so picnicking on the beach made me feel like I was back home hiding in the closet, stuffing chocolate in my mouth as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have to share with the kid…  ( you moms know what i’m talking about ). After surviving what felt like a reenactment of Alfred Hitchcocks the Birds we headed up to Cadillac mountain to catch the sunset.  Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard so it offers not only an amazing sunset but its the first place to catch the sunrise in the United States. So if you’re thinking about hitting the east coast I would consider taking the trip up to Maine. I’ll tell you more about Bar Harbor in an upcoming post, I will give you the details on the place we stayed, places we ate and things to see around that charming little town.