Category Archives: Travelin’

Road Trip Diaries: Hellooooo Colorful Colorado – and Mesa Verde National Park

I’m sad to say that It’s been about four years since I last updated this blog. Grad school and working life has taken its toll. However…it’s back!

So, going back to July of 2013 – after our weeklong travels through the Big 5 of Utah, we made our way to the southwest corner of Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park. The weather, while still very warm, was noticeably cooler than what we experienced in Utah. After showering about two times during that hot, dry and sweaty week however, this was exactly what we needed.

 

 

Colorado, the “colorful” state, greeted us with this sign against a plain golden backdrop…

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The 2014 Bucket List

I just HAD to interrupt the continuing story of my 2013 National Parks Road Trip for this —

Check out: Buzzfeed’s Astounding Backpacking Trips All Over The World

Torres Del Paine perfection

Torres Del Paine perfection

GAWDAYM. I really, really wish I wasn’t in school sometimes. And…I wish I was married to some rich guy who also likes to travel. RICH MEN, COME TO ME.

So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been debating all the things I want to do now while I’m free as a bird (albeit in debt) and single (and childless – which may be forever, or not…)

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Road Trip Diaries: From Escalante National Monument to Capitol Reef National Park: AKA, The Day We Met The Thirsty Spirit (Part II)

(Continued from my previous post about our trip through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument)

After our fairly “exciting” adventures in the slot canyons, we said goodbye to Escalante and headed out on Highway 12 toward our next destination – Capitol Reef National Park. However, I had heard that the BLM campground at Calf Creek was pretty nice (it also contains the trailhead for the gorgeous-looking “Calf Creek Falls hike“), so we did a short pit stop to check it out.

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A site at Calf Creek campground

Oh man. It was pretty dope. The campground was small and so scenic. Almost every site was secluded and surrounded by trees and tall carved rocks. If you’re able to secure a spot (the campground seems to be pretty popular), that seems to be one of the best campsites to stay at in the Escalante area.

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Highway 12 to Capitol Reef

The sky darkened overhead as we tried to race toward our next destination before nightfall. As a light rain pelted our windshield, we watched as our surrounding scenery progressively changed around us. Instead of bare dry rock for as far as the eye could see, we were now surrounded by a mixture of tall dark pine and glowing white aspen trees along the highway. It was refreshing.

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As we began to approach the park, we could see tall, brightly colored rock formations rise up around us like sculpted rainbow mountains. I haven’t heard much about Capitol Reef, but it looks like a photographer’s playground.

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The aptly-named Fruita campground doesn’t have much to see outside of a large orchard of apricot trees on the side (Capitol Reef, by the way, allows visitors to come and pick fruit during the harvesting seasons!). The campground has a very basic “parking lot”type layout with just a few trees at a lot of lawn at each site – and absolutely no privacy. Despite the occasional patch of rain, timed sprinklers were still watering the lawns around us. I was tired, sweaty, and desperate to take a bath. Since there were no showers (just bathrooms) in our campground, I wandered over to a sprinkler with a rag and a towel to rinse my sweat-covered skin off

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Our “oh so scenic” site at the Fruita campground

Right after we arrived, Joy started to cook our pasta dinner (we took turns cooking each meal). The rain was still a bit of an issue, however. Since our site’s table and benches were cold and wet, I stayed in my tent and rested as she filled up our jugs with water and prepped our meal.

About two hours later, I heard her go into her tent and say, “OH MY GOD”.

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How To Make Traveling Work (AKA: Ballin On A Budget)

Sorry, I had to interrupt my regularly scheduled “National Parks Road Trip 2014” series to bring you this awesomeness right here:

I found this great blog post from a woman (who has traveled to over 70 countries) about the different ways you can make your dream travel plans come true. A lot of the tips are common sense; however they’re a great reminder that you should make traveling happen now before it’s too late! And by too late, I mean settle down and become a boring adult. Oh no, I’m not bitter…HAH!

From her Blog Post: How I Afford To Travel

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Zion National Park: Hiking to Angel’s Landing

So…I really wanted to update this blog on a weekly basis during our month-long National Parks road trip. I REALLY did. And I tried! But there was hardly any interwebs connection wherever we went, thus making it nearly impossible to do any blog updating. Plus we were camping or backpacking the entire time. No wifi there.

After we experienced pretty much THE BEST TRIP EVER, we came back in August and I had to go directly to grad school. Nowadays, I do NOTHING ELSE except read a shit-ton of books and try to not look clueless in class.

OH YEAH. I digress. Back to the main story…

Angel’s Landing. Yeah, it was awesome. I LOVE ZION NATIONAL PARK! Top 5 fer SURE.

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Waking up to this lovely sight of the sun coming up over the mountains from our campsite

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Our campsite at the South campground

The great thing about Zion is that we arrived in the height of camping season and STILL found ourselves a campsite! The South campground is first come first served, while the other one contains reservable sites. Reservations are not needed, however. It seems that most people camp just for a night or so, while other visitors stay at nearby hotels or lodges.

Even at 9 am, the day was already getting hot.  Joy and I took the free shuttle to the beginning of Angel’s Landing, where we began our 2.5 mile ascent to the top of the mountain. NOTE: Bring a lot of water and start the hike before 9 am, when the day is not too hot and the morning is beautiful. We saw way too many people hiking up the trail around 1 pm with a small bottle of water shared between them. You WILL pass out.

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The beginning of our journey to Angel’s Landing

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Our mascot, Rainbow Pony

The hike has a lot of switch backs on the hike up, but it wasn’t too, too bad. There are plenty of places to stop along the trail and take in the view. Plus it’s paved almost all the way up! Never seen that before.

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Rock scrambling pit stop

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UTAH: Nothing But Gorgeousness at Zion National Park

While we found Utah to be absolutely gorgeous the moment we passed over the state borders from Nevada,  our trip to Utah didn’t start out too well.

Immediate change of scenery

Immediate change of scenery

I got pulled over by a Utah Highway Patrol officer around 10 pm after leaving Nevada (note to California residents: Utah police cars are NOT Crown Victoria Cali cop cars. I tried to observe all the car lights in my side mirrors to weed out potential patrol members but I was foiled! Plus they are WHITE). On top of that, we tried to camp at some place (not to be named) that was COMPLETELY deserted. I mean, not a soul was in the  campground.  I was spooked, so we drove around and eventually settled on crashing an RV park an hour outside of Zion National Park (not meant for tents, but we were a bit desperate at this point).

Scary

Scary

As we put up our tent next to our car, a guy in the RV next to us offered to “help us out” (he kept saying that over and over again). Was he just a really nice Mormon man, or a bit of a creeper? Can’t really say. Neither of us slept much that night because we were afraid that he was going to come by our tent and stare at us as we slept. We left quickly at 6 am to get on the road to Zion NP and get out of that place!

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The Joyous one and me, by some waterfall on the river / Narrows hike in Zion

Zion was even more awesome than I remembered. I went there once with my family back when all we did was go camping for family trips. I used to complain to them, “Why do we have to go on all these hick family vacations?!”. I wanted to go to Mexico and Europe like the other kids. But now I”m extremely grateful, and camping has become one of the main loves of my life.

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35’s the New 21: Joy and Tiff’s Left Coast Road Trip 2013!

Gawwwdamn. It’s been a busy year! Returned from my two month trip to Peru and Bolivia in the end of February. Applied and got into grad school for the 2013-2014 school year. Just finished up my last day of my job (of the past nine years!) yesterday. I came up with this idea last year, but I never had a chance to execute it.

Joy and I are about to embark on a mini-bucket list dream of mine to hit up as many National Parks as we can from Cali to Arizona, up to Utah, Colorado and Wyoming…to our MAIN goal of reaching Glacier National Park in Montana, back down through Washington, Oregon, and back to the Bay Area. I guess it’s not so much of a “cross country trip” as it is just a “road trip loop” of the north and southwest United States. Except for Nevada. Ain’t nobody got time for Nevada!

Follow along with our adventures HERE!

CALIFORNIA

  • Blue Lakes Campground, El Dorado National Forest

ARIZONA

  • Grand Canyon (the cooler side)

UTAH

  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Arches National Park

COLORADO

  • Mesa Verde
  • Mt. Sneffles
  • Denver
  • Rocky Mountain National Park

WYOMING

  • Grand Tetons
  • Yellowstone National Park

MONTANA

  • Glacier National Park

IDAHO

  • Coeur D’Alene

WASHINGTON

  • North Cascades
  • Goat Lake
  • Olympic National Park

OREGON

  • Portland
  • Crater Lake

CALIFORNIA

  • Lassen National Park (?)
  • BACK TO THE BAY AREA!

Any recommendations on hikes to do, places to go, other parks to see? I know this is a bit of an ambitious list for a month, but we’ll see how it all goes!

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South America Travel Diary: Personal Reflections and Conquering Challenges

Every time I come back from a long trip (okay, I’ve only done two in my life, but STILL), I’ve found solo traveling to be a great time for reflection and realizations. Each trip has had its own themes. My first trip to Southeast Asia was all about learning how to live in the moment, accept the present, and have faith that I can make things work (my motto from that trip became: “F*CK IT! Who cares!”).

South America was a very different trip for me, however. Just a year after my last trip to Southeast Asia, I found this trip to be all about becoming a more resilient person. I also learned how to be successful with whatever challenge or hardship that came my way. Traveling’s also great for gaining a better perspective on your own life at home.

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Despite all the great, life-changing, and downright AMAZING times that I had during my travels throughout Peru and Bolivia, my trip to South America wasn’t easy at first. NEVER assume that you will have fun. Traveling can be  hard at times. It can get lonely, it can be overwhelming, it can be dangerous – just like anything else you experience in your own life back home. Traveling, however, at best, is all about gaining a better perspective and understanding, and being grounded – in all senses of those words.

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South America Travel Diary: The So-Called “Dangers and Annoyances”

(I got this title from the Lonely Planet books because that’s what they called this type of travel advice.)

So far, all I’ve written about are all the amazing things about certain countries in South America. This blog post, however, will be about some of the things we can do as travelers to be more mindful. There are many reasons why various social problems exist in other countries (especially those in the Global South, AKA “developing countries”), and most of the time they’re rooted in various political and economic issues on different scales (let us not forget the deep legacies of colonization or the impacts of unfair trade agreements). Most travelers have an incredible amount of cultural and economic privilege that gives them the ability to visit other countries – which often creates certain dynamics that may even be the reasons for the types of crime that may occur against us.

Of course every country, every city, and every situation is very different. Half of the time it’s about prevention and awareness, and half the time it’s just about luck.

Shopping all day in Las Brujas, La Paz

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The Best of Peru: My Top 10 Places to Go and Things to Do

Since I only spent about three weeks in Peru total (including transportation time), these are just a few recommendations that I’ve been able to compile with my limited experiences there (I have a new rule now: minimum 1 month per country. If you haven’t done so before, travel abroad for a month or longer and you’ll see why…!)

In no particular order:

1. El Camino Inka to Machu Picchu

Experience some gorgeous and amazing (4 days of) hiking while learning more about Peru’s Incan history and their temples along the way. Just make sure to respect the environment as much as possible and take it all in as a spiritual journey too. (Warning: All fitness levels are allowed, but not all make it to the end. And altitude sickness is about genetics, not physical fitness!). While it can be tragically way too touristy at the “end”, (AKA Machu Picchu) the history there goes deep. Those stone stairs on the way there are pretty rough, though…

day 1

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