Camping on Lake Margaret

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Last weekend my husband and I decided to go camping just the two of us. We didn’t have any plans for the weekend and like to usually get out of the city come Friday, so we thought driving a few hours to nicer weather and a calming environment sounded just perfect. So we made our way towards South Lake Tahoe, and planned to hike the Lake Margaret trail.

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Every part of this trail is amazing, many people use it as a hiking trail but some backpack in and camp overnight. There aren’t any designated camp grounds, you hike 2.5 miles in and find an ideal spot to set up camp. We found the perfect spot away from the main path- it was open, empty, and right on the lake. We arrived, dropped our things, and jumped in the lake for the most scenic and relaxing swim that I can remember having.

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Since this is mainly used as a hiking trail, there are no bear bins or bathrooms- which makes for the fun experience. That being said, we made sure to bring rop, sturdy bags, freeze-dried camping food, small camping stove, and the essentials when sleeping among wild animals.

It was the perfect weekend; an easy hike, a beautiful hike, a relaxing 2 days. We didn’t run into any bears… and I’m okay with that.

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Cross Country Road Trip

Last November we made the official move from Boston to San Francisco. The natural two-part question I often get is Why the big move? and How are you liking it? The short answer is 1- we moved for a career opportunity and to experience life on the West Coast, and 2- we’re really enjoying it although at heart we’re truly East Coasters. What’s most memorable about the move so far was our drive out here, yes, we drove 3,000 miles across the Country in 9 days and loved every minute of it. As dull as it may sound to be in a car for day-long drives, some days just hours upon hours of nothingness… we made it a point to enjoy the moment and appreciate the hidden beauty.

The first day of our drive we made it just past Chicago, over 1,000 miles in 18-19 hours of straight driving. That was through NY, PA, OH, and IN where we were introduced to our first stretch of beautiful nothingness.

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The Second day we wanted to boot it as far as possible as well, so we made it to Denver. Our route was through Iowa (home of the World’s Largest Truck Stop)- we couldn’t help ourselves.

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and Nebraska… the largest stretch of open fields, driving on a single two-way road as far as the eye could see. Enjoying the moment, remember? In all seriousness, it really does take you to another place. Living in big cities all your life really makes you appreciate sceneries such as these. The one negative thing that did cross my mind was, ‘Gosh I’d hate to get a flat tire right now’ (no street lights, few cars, no businesses in site, yikes.) I guess it made things more exciting.

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I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived in Denver, I had never been and hadn’t thought much about visiting but fell in love with this charming city. We made a short stop in Vail, it was pretty quiet at that time but got to see their world-class mountains.

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From here on forward is where the real fun began, we had planned to take our time the rest of the way with some places we wanted to visit in mind. First stop was Moab, Utah to visit Arches National Park, world’s largest concentrations of natural sandstone arches.

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Also home to the famous Delicate Arch. It was under 2-mile hike to get to the famous arch, and usually packed with people- the hike is easy enough to bring in many of the tourists, especially around sunset when every semi-professional photog is patiently waiting for the perfect light to capture the perfect shot. Still very worth it even with the crowds. Little tip: On the hike, I suggest to stay to the left, it’s more difficult if you come from beneath the arch instead of from above.

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If you’re looking to do the trip on a budget, which we tried too as much as possible for A-the fun of it, and B-staying in fancy hotels each night can weigh heavy on the pocket. I recommend the KOA campsites, for about $40/night you get a heated cabin with bare beds and clean shared washrooms- bring your sleeping bag and you’re all set. We did this in Moab as well as in Grand Canyon and are glad we did.

Our drive to Arizona had me speechless, this was our view as we approached Monument Valley. I mean…

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In Arizona we visited one of my now favorite stops of the trip, Antelope Canyon. This is a photographer’s dream and probably nothing like you’ve ever seen before. The photos speak for themselves.

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You can’t really hike it, although, I hear some people do. The canyon is located on Navajo nation land, so you have to take a guided tour with them. It costs $31 per person (they only took cash at the time), and it’s worth it.

Then came Grand Canyon.

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We hiked to the first point of the South Rim trail- this is very doable in a day, in fact we did the whole section in about 2.5 hours. For a short scenic hike, this is great. There were plenty of signs warning us about the dangers of attempting strenuous trails in shorter times than recommended, so we decided to be on the safe side and turn back at the first point. No one wants to get stuck on a trail in the scorching heat after you’ve run out of water, food, and daylight. Apparently this happens more often then you’d think!

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Day 7- Before a quick stop at the Hoover Dam and Vegas (we had lunch and won $200 within an hour), we made it to California! in our little Passat.

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We spent Halloween night in Death Valley, coincidence? yes. Timing just worked out that way. Although fitting. The surreal openness of it all and eerie silence made for the perfect Halloween setting.

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Before finally making it to our new home in the city, we spent one last night in Yosemite. We’ve been back to Yosemite a couple of times since then, but got a perfect little taste on our way into a new California lifestyle.

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Day 9- We were in our new home. We’ve taken every opportunity since living here to explore and see as much as we could. We’ve made short weekend trips to Monterey, Carmel, Santa Barbara (our fave), LA, Tahoe, Yosemite, and have done many hikes in and around the city. However, the memories of our drive still make us smile and we would do it again if we had too. Maybe we’ll drive back one day…?

Kauai is Paradise

My husband and I just got back from the most wonderful (first time) visit to Hawaii. Although a short 4 days over the Memorial Day weekend, we spent a night in Honolulu and the remaining time in Kauai. I must say, we may just head straight to Kauai the next time, and there will be a next time. This island is beyond words, breath taking. Mike got to do some wreck dives and I had a ton of fun snorkeling with Honu’s (sea turtles.)

Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Faills

Hikes: We did an 8 mile hike to Hanakapiai Falls via the Kalalau trail- stunning. The first 2 miles are quite easy for those who are regularly active although the heat can be a problem (lots of water and spf). They certainly make you work the next 2 miles to falls, it can be pretty intense on slippery stone and mud, crossing streams on precarious rocks- I noticed people in their flip flops although I’m not sure I would’ve been able to keep up without my sturdy hiking shoes. Nonetheless, the effort was worth it. Once you make it, you can refresh with a swim in the lagoon and stand underneath the beautiful falling waters, which was amazing. We also did a short 2 mile hike on the other side of the Kalalau Trail, which we stumbled upon unexpectedly, it was sort of hidden and kind of quiet but that’s what was great about it.

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Food: I recommend this amazing little fish place for lunch, dinner, whatever time you like; called Kilauea Fish Market. They don’t have a licquor license but it’s byow! Amazing fish wrap (must try!) and fish taco. It’s very casual and they have a relaxing and evening romantic patio, surrounded by beauty and away from the noise of the main road. I need to give a shout out to the people that work there as well, very polite and helpful.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/kilauea-fish-market-kilauea

We’re a pretty active couple so we go to do a ton of things, but these were the highlights for me. Simply driving from place to place in the convertible we rented allowed us to see the stunning views, and we’d stop off spontaneously where we wanted. Kauai goes on my top favorite places list.

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My First Post

A little unsure and excited, this is my first blog… ever. I’m not quite sure why I’ve never started one in the past, I usually have a lot to say, on many topics, but here we are. To fulfil a course requirement I have created this blog and I hope it sticks beyond classroom assignments.