Oahu, Hawaii – Days 3 & 4

Welcome back!

Did you read about our first two days in Hawaii? You should! ūüôā Just click the link HERE. Taylor and I had a blast driving around Oaha the first two days together, but we had an even better time on the 3rd and 4th day!

We started our 3rd day the same way we started every other day…in the car. On this day, we were heading to the North Shore! On our way North, we stopped at the Aloha Stadium and walked around their flea market. The market is held every Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and I truly believe it’s the best market for all gifts and souvenirs. You’ll also find the prices way better than anywhere in the city. If you can make it out, I’d highly recommend it. It’s $1 per person.IMG_8056They also offer tours of the stadium now! This was perfect for Tay and I. A little football and a little shopping. ūüôā IMG_8060.jpg2Once we were done, we finished the beautiful drive to the North Shore. The nice thing about Hawaii, is that it’s very easy to drive all over the island! Our stomachs were grumbling at this point, so we stopped for brunch at Cafe Haleiwa. This was such a sweet, locally owned place. I ordered their huevos rancheros with a cold brew latte and Taylor had their french toast! Both were amazing.¬†IMG_8071.jpg1IMG_8074After stuffing our stomachs, Taylor told me that he wanted to stop at Turtle Beach. After complaining about how I didn’t want to stop because there wouldn’t be any actual turtles, I was proven very wrong. There were so many sea turtles floating in the ocean and it was really special to see them! I couldn’t get any good photos, but you can see the shadow of some in the picture above. Pictures would never do it justice anyway. You just have to be there. I switched over to metal straws last year to help save our sea turtles, so this was such a special moment. I’m glad he made me get out of the car. ‚̧ IMG_8073We continued our drive along the coast, and found a beach to rest on. The North Shore is famous for it’s massive waves, so we sat and watched the incredibly talented surfers. The waves were actually so big that nobody could even touch the water unless they were professional surfers. Not that I minded anyway, I wouldn’t dream of getting into waves that size. For some reason I didn’t capture any pictures of the big waves. I guess I was too mesmerized. LOLIMG_8072.jpgIMG_8109.jpgFor lunch, Taylor ordered a BBQ chicken platter from Winna Chicken and¬†I ordered the garlic shrimp from Giovannis. (*peep the new hawaiian shirt ūüėČ )¬†IMG_8112.jpgNot to be dramatic or anything, but this was the best shrimp I’ve ever had in my life. ever. I’m still dreaming about it. I discovered all the amazing reviews of this place online and it not disappointed. We took our lunch and sat in the park overlooking the water. IMG_8113IMG_8117IMG_8119For a sweet treat, we split a Hawaiian ice. When in Hawaii right?!¬†Untitled designWe were having the best time together!IMG_81101After stuffing our bellies with delicious food, we drove back to the apartment and showered off before watching the sunset on Ala Moana beach. A sunset in Hawaii is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see in life. The colors are stunning and everything is perfect. IMG_8136IMG_8125Travel the World in Style-2IMG_8142.jpg

The next day was sadly our last day in Hawaii. To start the day, we woke up early and drove to Diamond Head. I completed this hike on my last trip to Hawaii and enjoyed it so much that I knew Taylor would love it too! It was a much nicer day this time around.¬†IMG_8155IMG_8156Untitled design-3IMG_8151 Unfortunately, parking was full by the time we got there (around 9:30am) so we had to park a half mile away. Just keep this in mind if you plan on driving. I wouldn’t recommend going anytime later than 10am. When we were on the way off the mountain, there was a line of people trying to get up and it was extremely crowded.IMG_8168We chose to eat lunch at Waikiki Brewing Company after our hike. We ordered some nachos and the bratwurst sandwich. This was a really cool place and the service was awesome!IMG_8172.jpgUntitled design-4The rest of our day was spent shopping downtown and packing our bags for our return to China. ūüė¶¬†IMG_8192This view didn’t make leaving any easier. Tay said he loved his first trip to Hawaii, and we’re already planning our next visit! Although we were only visiting for a few days, we had a blast driving around the coast and enjoying each other’s company. Trips like this are always my favorite.

Thank’s for reading!

xoxo

Getting Lost on Purple Mountain

Hello!

I hope ya’ll had a great week!! In my last post, I talked about how we visited a local park in Nanjing on our Monday afternoon off. Well today’s post is all about what we did the very next day! If you didn’t know, our weekends are Monday’s and Tuesday’s rather than the typical Saturday’s and Sunday’s.¬†We wanted to spend our Tuesday afternoon casually exploring Purple Mountain. This is a famous area in Nanjing because you can hike, walk through the botanical gardens, or see the¬†Xiaoling tomb of the first Ming emperor.¬†What was supposed to be a casual hike up and down the mountain with a little exploration in the middle, turned into an all day hike trying to get off the dang mountain. I started the day recording our “small” adventure, but called it quits on filming after we were lost and confused and everything turned into a hot mess.

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When hiking the mountain you have three options. You can take the stairs straight up, walk along a winding road, or get inside a cable car. We chose to take the stairs because we wanted to hike it. After huffing and puffing for 45 minutes all the way up, we sat and looked out at our city below to catch our breath.

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When we were done soaking in the foggy view, we began walking down off the mountain together. The map showed a path that connected the mountain to the botanical gardens and Mausoleum down below, so we set out to find it. After walking a mile straight downhill, we came to a gated dead end. We had to turn around and walk uphill another mile. This just kept happening. I’m not kidding when I say it took us HOURS to get up and down this mountain. The paths were not labeled correctly and the maps weren’t accurate. #china

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My muscles are still aching!! Once we finally made it down off the mountain, we took a taxi to the gardens and Mausoleum. Turns out, it was a lot further than we thought it would be.

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It’s believed that the emperor is buried somewhere in this amazing courtyard.

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The Purple Mountain park was closing at 6pm that day, so we only had about an hour to walk around and explore. Thankfully, this meant it wasn’t overcrowded. Truth be told, I don’t know if I could’ve explored any longer than that anyways because I was so exhausted.¬†We drove straight to dinner afterwards because we were starving and ready for bed. I don’t think we’ll be hiking Purple Mountain again anytime soon. ūüôā

Thank’s for reading! xoxo

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. 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Stay tuned for more posts about our trip! ūüôā

Bryce Canyon & Zion Canyon

Our second night camping was another success! The Wonderland RV Park was so great, that we hated to pack up and leave the following morning. Once we loaded up the car, we drove towards Bryce Canyon National Park.

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We were very excited to visit this next park because it’s one of the top National Parks in Utah’s Mighty 5, along with Zion.¬†Bryce Canyon’s entrance fee is $30 per vehicle. At this point, we had paid off our annual pass!

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We took a photo apart, but the people taking our photo insisted we stand together since we were an engaged couple…

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Like every other park we visited, we stopped at the visitor center to find a map. (Taylor and his maps) While we were inside, Taylor wanted to crawl under the fake rock display and stick his head up through the bubble. While he was under there, the other children let him know that he was too big…ha!

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We parked our car and started hiking the Navajo Loop! This is a moderate hike that requires 1-2 hours to hike 1.3 miles. Trust me, you will want to take your time because it is a beautiful hike! You will see some geological sights known as Wall Street, Two Bridges, and Thor’s Hammer on this short but steep trail.

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Thor’s Hammer

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This was one of our favorite trails! We had SO MUCH FUN together as we walked up and down the switchbacks, and took in all the red and orange colors that hovered over us. We had never seen anything like this before.

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As suggested by the trail name, you hike a complete circle. You start at the top of the canyon and hike down, then you hike back up to the top. It starts and ends at the same place, so you can choose to go either way, but they recommend going clockwise.

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Once we hiked to the canyon floor, we sat under a tree to have lunch! We ate our sandwiches and enjoyed the afternoon, UNTIL A SNAKE CRAWLED OUT IN FRONT OF US.

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Bryce Canyon was so much fun! At this point in our trip, it was Thursday and we would be flying home early Saturday morning. Since our flights were in and out of Vegas, we wanted to spend some time in Vegas before heading out! We also wanted to spend more time in Zion National Park because our time was limited on our first day. For this reason, we didn’t camp in Bryce. Instead, we drove an hour back to Zion.

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The campground within the park was full, so we had to travel outside a few miles to stay at the High-Road Campground.

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This was our least favorite campground out of the three we stayed at. It was basically just dirt and a few trees, with an outhouse. It cost us $30 for one night.

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On the other end of the campground, there was a full bathhouse. It was really unclean, and only 1 toilette (out of 5 or 6) was working. Also, the women’s shower was out of order and you had to go around the back, in the dark, to the backside of the men’s bathroom where a curtain was hung to shower. No thank you. If you plan on camping in Zion, make sure you book one of the other campgrounds months in advance, as they fill up quickly.

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After setting up our tent, we found a great Italian place in town! Zion Pizza & Noodle was such a great place to eat after hiking all week.

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They have huge pasta dishes and even better pizza! We ordered cheesy garlic bread with marinara, and a BBQ chicken pizza!

Both were fantastic! When we come back to¬†Zion in the future, we will be eating here again. Maybe next time we’ll order a pasta dish.

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Once we were finished eating, we wanted to go on a short walk, so we headed for the Lower Emerald Pool trail. This is 1.2 miles, and they recommend leaving an hour to complete it. The trail is paved with minor drop-offs and connects to the Upper Emerald Pool trail.

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It was a nice short and sweet walk after dinner, but it was slightly disappointing. The name of the trail leads you to believe that it’s going to be this beautiful waterfall with emerald water, but the picture above is what it really looks like. Maybe the upper trail is prettier?

This really pretty river below is located across the street from the Zion Lodge. During the day, you will find a ton of people walking through it.

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As the sun sets, several deer come and munch on the grass in front of the lodge. They are completely unphased by all the people. The lodge fills up quickly too, so we’d like to try and stay there next time. It was so beautiful and is a great place to come and relax.

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Finding a seat on the bench and watching the deer and the sunset was the best way to end the day.

 

Canyonlands & Capitol Reef

Our first night camping in the desert went well! While planning this trip, we really had no idea what to expect weather wise. We knew it would be scorching hot during the day (which it was), but we weren’t sure if it would be warm or cool during the night. On our first night camping in Arches, Taylor said he froze. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been more content. We will tell you this, the temperature can heat up or cool down within minutes. We never needed to set any alarms because the heat always woke us up¬†as soon as the sun rose.

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While Taylor took apart our tent, I walked to the bath house to change and get ready for the day. The bath houses at the Moab RV Resort and Campground were clean and nice! They had a lot of stalls and showers, so you never had to wait. The one thing we forgot to pack on this trip, was a towel. We are those people who ALWAYS forget towels. Whether that be a beach towel or a shower towel, we WILL forget it. Over the years, we have purchased so many overpriced towels because we’re the ones who never remember to pack them. Instead of renting one from the desk for $3, we just used our old t-shirts to dry off…disgusting yes, but¬†sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

Before we left, ¬†I grabbed some complimentary coffee. The coffee was surprisingly delicious! Sometimes, you just can’t expect much when it’s free. We also needed to fill up on gas, and get some new ice for our cooler. There was a McDonald’s down the road that had bags of ice for only .99 cents!

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As soon as we were done, we started our drive towards Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. These¬†are the two least visited parks within the Mighty 5 in Utah. When we arrived to Canyonlands, we immediately went to the visitor’s center to find a map and fill up on water. (Without an annual pass, it will cost you $25 per vehicle to enter the park.) Right across the street, there is a breathtaking view of the canyons, that you MUST stop and see.

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Canyonlands National Park consists of 337,598 acres of truly breathtaking canyons! The entire park is divided into four districts, Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon.  The view in the pictures above is on Island in the Sky.

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The Green River

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After snapping some pictures, we decided to hike the Mesa Arch trail, which is only 0.5 miles round trip. They recommend 30 minutes to enjoy everything, and it’s a short hike that leads to a cliff-edge arch.

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We were in awe of the views that constantly surrounded us. We decided to drive around the park and stop at some overlooks for more pictures. This was such an interesting park because it had those coppery red-toned rocks with arches, and then it also had very white, sandy buttes in another area.

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Once we were finished exploring Canyonlands, we headed towards Capitol Reef National Park.

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It only costs $15 per vehicle to enter this park because it’s not as popular as the others and there isn’t as much to do. There are a few trails, but it’s mostly a very long scenic drive.

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The famous Capitol Dome in the picture above looks so similar to the US Capitol building, that it inspired the name of the Capitol Reef National Park.

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Carvings and paintings that date back to 300 to 1300 CE, can be found on the rock walls. This shows that people used to call this place home a very long time ago. We got to see some of them, but forgot to take a picture…oops!

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Nobody knows why there is a giant crater in the rocks, from the picture above. They think either something hit it years ago, or there used to be a body of water that has dried up.

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As it was getting later in the afternoon, we headed out of the park to go find a place to camp and eat dinner. After comparing campgrounds within the area, we chose Wonderland RV Park, in Torrey UT.

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Of all the places we camped during our trip, this was our absolute favorite. The staff was incredibly sweet and everything was extremely clean and well kept.

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The grass was so lush and green and they even had divider walls between each tent site. Their bath houses were the cleanest we’ve ever seen and they had entire shower rooms, which made you feel like you were in your own home. The best part? We only paid $26.50 to stay here. This was the cheapest AND nicest place! We cannot say enough good things about this campground!

After setting up camp, we ate at Slackers’s Burger Joint. The service was great and they had so many different options to choose from. We even got some ice cream for our scenic drive around Capitol Reef as the sun went down.

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We had a great day enjoying both Canyonlands and Capitol Reef together.

 

Arches National Park

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We had a really¬†difficult time leaving the Grand Canyon Lodge after the perfect day we had before, but we needed to continue our trip by heading to another park. Due to the time difference, we woke up early and walked over to the “Saloon” to grab breakfast and coffee.

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This adorable cafe was filled with yummy coffee, tea, and pastries! Taylor ordered a huge homemade cinnamon roll and I got an iced vanilla latte. YUM!

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Back in the day, they used mules like this to carry everything up and down the canyon.

We took our breakfast to the back porch of the lodge and sat in the rocking chairs overlooking the canyon. It was still fairly early, so everything was calm and peaceful. This was one of my favorite moments during the entire trip.

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After we were done eating and rocking, we reluctantly packed up our bags and headed towards Arches National Park. We had to leave early because Taylor wanted to take the scenic route. This was the longest drive we took during the entire trip, but it was easily the most beautiful. The views were so stunning that we had to stop several times alongside the road to take pictures.

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Leaving with a new rock! ūüėČ

 

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To pass time during our long ride, we turned on some comedy podcasts and started dreaming of ideas for the wedding!

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It’s easy to feel small driving through mountains like this for several hours.

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After 8 hours of driving, we finally made it to Arches National Park!! As soon as we arrived, we headed straight for the visitor center so we could fill up on water and find a map. Out of all the trails, we decided that we wanted to hike the Delicate Arch and pack our dinner for the sunset. Before we could start hiking anywhere, we had to find somewhere to set up our tent.

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We chose to stay at the Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground for $33. It was located right outside the park, and was a great place to stay!

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They have RV hookups, cabins, and tent spots along with an in-ground pool, WIFI, and a nice bath house! And, if you’re looking to spend¬†a few nights in Arches, they also have premium sites for tents that have a huge tent shading you! This way, your belongings don’t bake in the desert sun all day long. We were only going to be here one night and it was already late afternoon, so we didn’t need a premium spot.

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Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at this campground! The staff was super helpful and friendly! They even had complimentary coffee. ūüôā Once we set everything up, we packed our dinner and headed to the Delicate Arch trail.

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The trail is 3.0 miles round trip and they recommend giving yourself 2-3 hours to complete it. It’s also rated as a “strenuous” hike, but after our hike in Zion the day before, this was a walk in the park.

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Most of the hike is on slick rock and you really have to watch your footing. Since there is no shade in the desert, starting this hike in the evening was perfect!  We began around 5:30 as the sun was beginning to set. One of the biggest mistakes we made the day before was starting the hike at noon!

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It was so windy when we made it to the top that we were afraid we would blow over if we stood for too long!

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After enjoying the view for awhile, we began our hike back to the bottom.

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When we made it to the car, we drove to another trail so we could eat our sandwiches while watching the sunset.

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We hiked to the perfect overlook!

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As soon as we were done eating, we headed back to the car. Now, here’s where things get interesting. While we were walking back, a small rabbit moved to the right of me and it scared the daylights out of me!¬†A few minutes later, I spotted several deer in some bushes directly in front of us and I was completely terrified! Taylor just laughed at me, but I think it was because my heart was still pounding from the rabbit incident.

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Once we made it back safely to the car, Taylor really wanted to park the car and look at the stars. Arches is one of the best places to do this because it is so far away from any light pollution. I wish we could’ve captured it on our camera, but you’ll have to take my word for it. There were several other cars stopped alongside the road, just so they could look up.

Next up in the Mighty 5, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef!!

Thank’s for following along! ūüôā