Visiting the Yellow Mountain

Happy November 1st from China! I can’t believe Halloween is over and we’re entering the Thanksgiving and Christmas season already. Taylor and I have a lot of exciting trips coming up during the next few weeks, so be on the lookout for those posts! In the meantime, here’s a short post about our trip to the Yellow Mountain a few weekends ago. 🙂

Taylor and I had been itching to take a small trip somewhere new in China, and we thought it was the perfect time to visit the popular Yellow Mountain. We’d heard great things from other expects and Nanjing locals who’d visited in the past, and they said we’d really enjoy it. With the temperatures dropping and the changing leaves, we thought it would be the perfect time to head to the mountains for a weekend together! Facetune_21-10-2019-15-19-43

We took a train to Huangshan (3 hours) and then caught a bus (45 minutes) to the bottom of Huangshan Mountain (yellow mountain). Our total trip took about 4 hours, and it was simple to get there. Once we got off the bus, we grabbed some water and waited for our hotel shuttle. We stayed at the Huangshan Mountain Resort and Spa, and it was perfect! It was situated in the mountains and near the park we’d be visiting the following morning. This was the beautiful view from our hotel balcony! We could even see the stars at night, which I’ve never actually seen in China before. IMG_1846.jpgUntitled design

After visiting the Purple Mountain last year (why are all the mountains named after colors?), I assumed the Yellow Mountain would be comparable in layout and difficulty. I was VERY wrong. While the Purple Mountain is pretty flat and easy to get from one point to the next, the Yellow Mountain is literally one hike after the other. If you’re a big hiker, you’d love something like this! We took the sky car 10 minutes up the mountain, where we were met by A LOT of people and A LOT of stairs.IMG_1850.jpgIMG_1852 We found out the hard way that there are not flat surfaces on the Yellow Mountain, rather a bunch of staircases. The views were incredible from the top though! You could see nothing but mountains. I’m so happy we got to see it on a clear day!DSC_6476DSC_6492DSC_6494DSC_6487

I wanted to add the photo below because it really puts things into perspective. There are people who live on the mountain and their only job is carry the food from one point to the other… and some of those stair cases are STEEP. I was tired just carrying myself, I couldn’t imagine carrying food for the restaurants and hotels. If you ever find yourself complaining about your job, just remember this. DSC_6483

When Taylor and I were looking at the map, I told him the only thing I didn’t want to do was climb the highest peak in the park. I just didn’t have the energy to climb that amount of stairs and it looked terrifying. Long story short, we got our location on the map wrong and ended up climbing the highest peak unintentionally. The staircase path was extremely narrow and there were so many people that we couldn’t turn back once we realized we were going up the mountain instead of around it…DSC_6516DSC_6537.jpg*smiling through the painDSC_6529DSC_6532

This was one of the scariest and most high intensity hikes I’ve ever done in my life. Thankfully, the view made it worth it at the top. Also, aren’t these photos beautiful? Thank you Taylor for taking the camera because I couldn’t breathe and take photos at the same time. Ha! 🙂DSC_6508DSC_6554

There was a hotel at the top of one of the peaks and I’m still trying to figure out how guests are supposed to get to it…DSC_6550-2

We sat at the top of the peak for about 30 minutes, because neither of us wanted to move another inch. While we were up there, we decided to call it a day and head back down the other side. Neither of us had the energy to climb anymore stairs, and we were getting hungry. Thankfully, the decent down was 10x easier than the climb up. DSC_6513DSC_6559

We picked a great time to visit the Yellow Mountain because the weather was cool, the sky was clear, and there weren’t as many people as there could’ve been. Don’t get me wrong, there were a ton of people there, but it could’ve been so much worse during a peak travel time. Taylor and I would like to visit the Yellow Mountain again, because while we were there all day, we didn’t even see half of it! At the end of the day, my apple watch said I’d climbed 100 sets of stairs, and I couldn’t imagine seeing even more in one day.

We packed up and headed home the next morning, and we were really impressed with our weekend getaway to the mountains! 🙂


Yellowstone National Park & The Great Salt Lake

I’ve been slightly behind on writing about the second part of our trip to Yellowstone National Park. With all the packing and actually moving across the world, I think I have a valid excuse. 😉 After this post, I’ll start writing about our time here in China! For now, enjoy this post about our time in Yellowstone!

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After spending the first two nights in Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, we spent the next three days riding around in Yellowstone National Park. I was going to try and write about the days in order of what we did, but to be honest, we just spent a lot of time driving around and stopping at different lookouts along the way. Because of that, I’ve just compiled all the pictures I took within the park sporadically!

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We toured Yellowstone at the very beginning of the tourist season. Although there were still other people around, it wasn’t super crowded or overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it’s like during the peak of summer!

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I’d recommend visiting Yellowstone National Park during late May because this is when it’s less crowded and you’ll see more wildlife. After a long winter, animals like to graze on the freshest grass. While there’s too much snow left on the peaks of the mountains, there’s plenty of fresh grass at the bottom. Also, the animals aren’t used to so many people being around yet, so they’re more likely to be spotted out and about.


We came face to face with this female elk, who had just given birth minutes before this picture! She was very protective of her baby, so the park rangers were standing by to make sure nobody got too close. There were a few close encounters with foreigners who didn’t understand what was going on, but thankfully nobody got hurt.


There were SO MANY bison roaming around in Yellowstone. They were in the fields, on the road, and even in the parking lots! I have an abundance of bison pics!

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We had high hopes of spotting a bear before the trip began. After the first few days with no bear sighting, our hopes were dwindling. Thankfully, we spotted two different black bears towards the end of our time in Yellowstone! We also saw two bears running across the road one day, but the family is undecided about whether it was a black bear or a grizzly.


There is so much beauty and history in Yellowstone National Park. You can find some of the earths most active earthquake and volcanic systems here! According to the park website, Yellowstone became the very first National Park because of the geysers, hot springs, mudpots and steam vents.

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Before we entered Yellowstone, we rented a Gaper Guide for our van, which is a Yellowstone and Grand Teton GPS audio tour. This was AN AMAZING addition for us. Basically, it’s a device that connects to the audio of your car, and it talks about the area you’re in and all the history! There’s also more than 100 fun facts you can play along the way! Since we spent so much time in the car between sights, the Gaper Guide gave us our own personal tour of the area we were in! We HIGHLY recommend!


We experienced every season during our 3 days in Yellowstone! It was hot, cool, rainy, and it even snowed at one point!! Make sure you wear layers if you visit during this time of year yourself! 🙂


On our final day in Yellowstone, we packed up the van and drove back to Salt Lake City. Our flight back to Charlotte didn’t leave until late afternoon, so we stopped at the Great Salt Lake! I was just in Salt Lake City in January for a ski trip, so you can read all about that trip here!

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Taylor and I love exploring the National Parks of America. There’s so much to see and do, and each park is unique in its own way. This was a short and sweet family trip, but it was a great way to relax and be with family before we packed up and moved. Stay tuned for updates about our adventures in China!!

Grand Teton National Park

We just got back from our family trip out west, and I’m sitting here cuddling with Maybelle while writing/editing this post. I missed her terribly while we were away, and it was her first time being boarded (it didn’t go well)! It’s currently pouring outside, so I’m listening to the rain with coffee in hand, while May is snuggled up beside me in her favorite heated blanket.

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This year, Taylor’s side of the family decided to travel through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for the annual family vacay! In the previous years, we’ve visited Maine, Destin, and California! You can click on the links to read about those trips as well.

We flew out of Charlotte super early on Saturday morning, and arrived in Salt Lake City by 11am. It was a 4 hour flight through Delta, and everything went smoothly. Although none of us sat together on the plane, we had endless movies to watch on the TV screens in our seats. On the way there, I watched The Maze Runner-The Death Cure and a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory-Season 11. 


Like most of our family vacations, we rented a 15 passenger van at the airport. Once all our luggage was packed tightly into the back, we buckled up and drove 5 hours to Jackson Hole for our first adventure!

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We would only be in Jackson Hole for one night, so we made the most of our time there. We started by riding the Aerial Tram above the mountains. This was a great way to see the area, because there are windows circling the tram. This is not for those afraid of heights! Once you get to the top, you can see Jackson Hole for miles. The view is stunning and makes for a great photo opportunity!










By the time we got off the mountain, it was time for dinner. We all ate at MacPhails Burgers. This was a great spot to relax and enjoy a good burger. Afterwards, we walked around downtown Jackson Hole and visited the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We didn’t stay long before checking into our hotel and turning in for the night. I think it’s safe to say that everyone was exhausted from a full day of traveling. We stayed up as late as we could in attempt to help with the time change.

We started the next morning by loading up the van again and heading to breakfast downtown at Persephone Bakery. It was a small cafe, and since we were such a large group, we ate outside around the fire. The food was unique and delicious. This wasn’t your typical scrambled eggs and bacon, but we loved it! We had a great morning sharing plates of food and sipping on our coffee before another long day.







I ordered the Herbed Omelette, which had fresh herbs, red chile lemon ricotta, asparagus, radish, fingerling potatoes, dijon cream sauce, and toast. This was the best toast I’ve ever eaten before!







Taylor and I have been dreaming about visiting the Grand Tetons, but it’s difficult to get to. You can fly into the Jackson Hole Airport, but quite frankly it’s expensive and a long journey. With a group of 12 people, it was easier to fly into Salt Lake City and drive.



To be honest, I’m struggling to write about the beauty of the Tetons. I feel like no words or pictures can do it justice. They are truly a masterpiece, and you must see them in person. I could spend days driving through the enormous mountains, taking photos and letting it all sink in.



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We drove a short distance and found a small 1 mile trail to hike up to Phelps Lake. This was a moderate hike with amazing views at the top.














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Once we were done, we drove around some more and stopped at several lookouts before checking in at the Jackson Lake Lodge.




Once we got our room keys, we loaded into a different van and headed to a rafting tour on the Snake River!



We had an amazing time floating down the river and seeing all the wildlife. I didn’t want to take my camera with me, and it rained about halfway so I didn’t capture a lot of pictures. Looking back, I’m ok with this because I was able to be in the moment and enjoy the tour. This was probably one of the coolest excursions during the trip.


Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best experience at the Jackson Lake Lodge. In fact, I don’t even have any pictures of the inside. The lobby area was gorgeous, with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the Grand Tetons. However, when we brought all our bags upstairs after the rafting tour, 3 of the rooms weren’t cleaned. It was about 10pm, so we were ready for bed.

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They only had one available room left in the lodge, so a few of us had to move to the cottages surrounding the lodge. This was the first week they were open, so they were probably still working out the kinks, but it was disappointing. They mentioned that the rooms said “dirty” in their system so why would they even give us a key?? Weird.

Besides the room cleanliness though, we enjoyed our stay. We ate breakfast there the next morning and headed out towards YellowStone National Park.


Stay tuned for more posts about our trip! 🙂

Weekend In Utah

Bright and early Friday morning, we all bundled up and packed our bags for a day on the slopes! The hotel offered complimentary breakfast, but Lacie and I were dying to try the coffee shop across the street. Bjorn’s Brew was exactly what we needed to start the day! We were impressed with the service and how large the coffee was. I ordered a medium and it was massive! I couldn’t even finish it before we arrived to Park City. They even gave out adorable human dog treats with each order!




Lacie and I had both skied previously, but weren’t pros. We decided to spend most of our day on the green slopes and occasionally the bunny slope with all the kiddos learning to ski/snowboard.



Thankfully, Park City Mountain wasn’t super crowded and we never had to wait long in the chair lift lines.





The views from the top were breathtaking! These photos don’t even do it justice!

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Our second day in Park City began just as early as our first. Instead of spending the day skiing again, we opted to do a snowmobile tour through Lofty Peaks Adventures! This was recommended to us by a friend and it was SO WORTH EVERY PENNY.



Lofty Peak Adventures has amazing experiences for everyone, all year round! They have ATV, Snowmobiles, and Watersport adventures. I really enjoyed the snowmobile tour, so I’d love to do one of their other adventures during another visit.


In order to get to the snow mobiles, we had to take a gondola to the tippy top of Snowbird Mountain. I’m still not sure if this was one of the coolest or scariest things we did. They crammed over 100 people into that gondola! Although the view was great, we were SUPER high up.


Once we got to the top, we had to take a chair lift to the bottom of another mountain.




Our tour guide was phenomenal! He took us through the back country of Utah, and it gave us the chance to see views that we would never get to see on our own. We could see all the untouched snow plus witness even more breathtaking views.






Snowmobiling with two people is much harder than it looks. Lacie and I did well during the beginning half of the excision, but towards the end we kept tipping over. Thankfully, we never had any serious accidents, but it was frustrating in the moment. Now, we just laugh about all the silly things that happened on that three hour ride.





On our third and final day in Utah, we spent the day sight seeing on our own.








During our time in Park City, we caught the end of the Sun Dance Film Festival!








Once we were done exploring Park City for the last time, we drove to The Great Salt Lake! This was something we were all itching to see!









Although the lake had an odd smell, it was beautiful!








I guess we chose a good time to visit, because there was only one other family visiting the Salt Lake. We had the whole place to ourselves!









Lacie had to be back at the airport around 2, so we drove into Salt Lake City. Once we dropped her off, we wondered around the city and explored. We had several hours to kill, since our flight didn’t leave until 11pm.





We couldn’t leave Utah without seeing Olympic Park. The museum was really fun and interesting, plus the perfect way to end our trip!















This group trip was one I’ll never forget. Lacie and I don’t get to see each other often, but when we do it’s always a great time. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did during these three days! My abs were burning by the time we left from all the laughter, so that’s how you know it was a great trip. 🙂 I’m so thankful for the opportunity to travel to Utah with some amazing friends!