A Night In Vegas

Once we were done hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park, we started our journey back to Las Vegas, Nevada. We had a super early flight the next morning, and had to return our rental car back to Hertz before 5pm.

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The drive took about 2.5 hours and was just as beautiful as the first day. Since we were out west, we had to stop for lunch at In N’ Out Burger. When we passed it on our first day, we knew that we wanted to stop on our way back. Taylor had been looking forward to it all week!

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For our last night in Vegas, we stayed at another Airbnb, just because it was easy and simple. We know it isn’t expensive to stay in the hotels on the strip, but since we were only there for one night, we didn’t feel the need for a hotel room. Before we checked in, we explored the old strip for a few hours!

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We had no luck at gambling, so we stopped at Starbucks before heading to the airbnb. It was only a short 15 minute drive from the strip.

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When we arrived at the house (click HERE to see it), it was very clean and the host was very welcoming. They showed us our room, gave us water, and stayed out of our way. Since we had to return our rental car, we quickly showered and changed, then set out for Hertz.

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Once we dropped off the car, we ubered to the strip!

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We walked for miles, weaving in and out of the different hotels. Everything really is bigger and better in Vegas! Since we had a very early flight the following morning, we didn’t want to stay out extremely late.

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We ended the night by watching the famous Fountains of Bellagio in front of the Bellagio hotel.

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Headed back to the east coast!!

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Not only did we have an incredible time in Utah and Vegas together, but it has been so much fun writing about the adventures and experiences we had. This will be a trip we’ll never forget! Thank you for following along! 🙂

The Narrows of Zion

Our last night camping went well, and we were woken up around 8am to the blazing sun. At this point in the trip, we were pros at taking down the tent and packing everything into the rental car. Once everything was packed up, we stopped at the bath house on the way out to change and get ready for our final hike.

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We couldn’t come to Zion without seeing the Narrows!

There are 3 ways to hike the Narrows.

  1. A day hike from the bottom and back: you will start by hiking the Riverside Walk and make your way to the river. In less than a mile, you will be hiking in some of the narrowest parts of the canyon. There is no end destination, so you will have to hike up and return the way you came. You don’t need any permits for this option.
  2. Day hike from top to bottom: This get’s even more difficult. Round trip, this is an all day, 16 mile hike that absolutely requires a permit.
  3. Overnight hike from top to bottom: A strenuous hike requires 2 days, along with a permit to complete. You can only stay a maximum of one night, and need to be cautious of flash flooding. Also, it’s important to pack accordingly.

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Thankfully, there is an easy route that can accommodate people who have less time, young children, or aren’t ready for such a strenuous hike. If you want to experience the beauty of the Narrows without all the fuss, you can complete the Riverside Walk. This is a paved trail that follows the Virgin River up to the start of the Narrows. To access the Riverside Walk, you’ll need to hop on the Zion shuttle bus and take it to the last stop.

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Zion National Park uses a fantastic system to help cut down on the traffic in the park. During their busy season, they close down the scenic drive that leads to a majority of their trail-heads. They restrict all parking to the main parking lots, or the small town outside of the park. Then, a shuttle system runs up and down the scenic drive taking people to their desired trails. This helps tremendously, and they run a multitude of buses at once so you’ll never wait more than 10 minutes.

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After hopping off the shuttle, we began the Riverside Walk. As a suggestion, we recommend wearing warmer clothing for this hike. Not only is the water freezing, but the breeze is cool and it’s hard for the sun to reach you when you’re walking alongside the river.

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As you’re walking, you’ll notice that the water is a gorgeous emerald blue. If you have time, you can take a break and enjoy it!

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Only a select few will actually hike the entire 9.4 mile trail. At least 60% of this hike is spent in the water. The further along you go, you can find yourself walking, wading, or even swimming! Once you make it to the end of the Riverside walk, you have the choice to enter the water, or turn around. What most people do, is they complete the riverside walk, which is very simple. When they get to the part where they need to start walking through water (which is the start of the Narrows), they either turn around or they just walk through the water for a little bit. We would highly recommend walking through the water, just so you can get the real effect and take in the amazing views.

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When you first enter the water, there will be a ton of people. We recommend going a little further than most of these people, just because you’ll have the opportunity to take everything in without all the screaming kids and other tourists.

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Be mindful of the weather, because flash flooding within the Narrows can be deadly!

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We spent about two hours wandering and taking pictures of everything. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and Taylor and I decided that we are going to do the full 9.4 miles the next time we we’re visiting.

Hiking the Narrows was a great way to top off our time in Zion. Next stop, Las Vegas!

 

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! 😉

 

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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. 🙂 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! 🙂

ACC Championship & NASCAR

This past weekend, Taylor really wanted to travel up to Raleigh, North Carolina for the ACC Baseball Championship game because Clemson was playing against Florida State. He also wanted to drive to Charlotte to see the Coca Cola 600 Race…so we did both!

It was a VERY long day! We left the house at 6am Sunday morning in order to make it to Raleigh on time for the baseball game. We also picked up two of his friends along the way! Raleigh was experiencing really bad weather so we were nervous that they would cancel the game as we were driving up. Thankfully, they just delayed the game an hour, which worked out fine.

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thumbnail_IMG_3342We were able to purchase 4 tickets under the awning! Although we were able to stay dry, it was still hot and humid.

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This was one of the best baseball games we’ve ever been to because Clemson was playing SO well against Florida State. By the fourth inning, the score was 18 to 1. We even made it on TV!

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Due to a downpour of rain, they had to delay the game for almost 2 hours. Since we wanted to see the race later that evening, we couldn’t stay to finish the game.

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On our way to Charlotte, we stopped for some Chipotle! YUM!

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The drive was a little over two hours because we had to stop and pick up our tickets. Taylor bought 4 from someone off of Craigslist.

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Since we arrived about 20 minutes before the race started, we didn’t hit any traffic. AND Taylor found us FREE parking right at the entrance because the ladies managing the lot were about to leave when we pulled in. The lot was normally $30. Taylor is the best at finding great parking spots…just like my dad!

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For the race, you were aloud to bring one cooler or backpack per person into the stadium. Your cooler couldn’t be larger than 14 x 14 x 14, so Tay picked one up from Target the day before.

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I was not prepared for how loud the race would actually be! About 100 laps in, Taylor went and bought me some earplugs because my eardrums felt like they were going to explode.

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Surprisingly, the race went really smoothly and there were no major wrecks. This made the laps fly by!! We ended up leaving around 10:30pm because we were exhausted from the day and wanted to beat traffic.

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With Clemson winning the ACC Championship and then watching my very first NASCAR race, I would say it was a successful day!!

Destin Recap

As said in previous posts, our trip to Destin was filled with relaxation and enjoying time with family. We spent most of our days sitting beside the beach or pool and our nights eating way too much food and laughing until our stomachs hurt.

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One morning, we all decided to sleep in and make a huge breakfast! We had eggs, grits, toast, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and biscuits!

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This may be the only table that can comfortably fit all of us! We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun.

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For dinner that night, we ate at a family favorite, Red Bar!! IT WAS AMAZING! Since we went during the middle of the week, we only had to wait 45 minutes. Honestly, 45 minutes may seem like a long time, but we had a group of 20 people! The restaurant is pretty small and during the summertime it can become very crowded. The fact that we only had to wait 45 minutes was very impressive. While we were waiting, we took some pictures by the beach.

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Look Mom! I found a coconut! 🙂

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Romper: Dottie Couture Boutique

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The best part about Red Bar is that there are only 5/6 items on the menu each night. It makes it easy to decide what you want and your food is delivered a lot quicker. Our waiter did an incredible job taking care of us and everyone really enjoyed their dishes.

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thumbnail_IMG_3201About midway through the week, the boys wanted to spend the morning playing golf. Those of us who weren’t playing, decided to hit the outlets for some shopping and a lunch at McGuires Irish Pub. We decided to split a ton of delicious appetizers! The portion sizes were massive so we had plenty of leftovers to take home to those who played golf all morning. I think we had about 8 boxes total!

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Before we headed out for the night, we swam in the pool!

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Several evenings, we walked around the pier while trying different foods and drinks! That way, everyone got a little of something they really wanted.

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Romper: Dottie Couture Boutique

The ENTIRE time we were in Destin, we would always check to see if the Krispy Kreme Donut “Hot Now” sign was on. (We had to pass it to get back to our house.) To keep an eye on it, I downloaded the Krispy Kreme app, which let me know exactly when the sign was on! The only time it was on was when we were on our way to get ice cream…so we did both!

We ordered a dozen of the Hot Now donuts and 3 cups of milk! Like always, they were divine. After, we chose to get ice cream at Kilwins, which is an amazing place to get anything sweet! I was already extremely full from dinner and donuts, but I can’t turn down ice-cream, so I stuck with one scoop of cookie dough ice-cream. Taylor was half asleep and decided not to get anything.

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Out of the entire week we were visiting, there was only one rainy day and it was our last! We didn’t mind because most of us were burnt anyway! We started the day by eating breakfast together at the Donut Hole. Then, we all split up and spent the day packing and doing last minute activities.

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As everyone continues to get older, it’s nice to spend quality time together without the distractions of life. I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity to travel along with Tay!

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Thank’s for following along! 🙂