Monday, December 31, 2012

I was supposed to be working toward goals?

I can hardly believe that another year has gone by! This year didn't turn out to be quite as productive as I would have liked, sewing/crafting-wise. I guess I should have revised my goals in April when I decided to start taking classes online and study for the crazy hard certification exam that I just took a few weeks ago, but I apparently have completely unrealistic expectations of what I can accomplish in my free time. That being said, here's a recap of my goals for 2012.

1) Make two quilts for charity.
This is the one I'm most disappointed to not accomplish. I didn't even start them! My original plan was to whip these up in September and October, but that didn't happen because during that time I was busy studying for my exam and any extra time I had was spent making gifts for my adorable new niece.

2) Say no to new fabric purchases.
Due to my lack of sewing time, this one was an easy accomplishment. The only new fabric that I bought was for the two knit dresses that I made during my sewing classes, and I only bought that fabric because I didn't have any other knit fabric in my stash. I was able to use a lot of cute fabric that I already had for the gifts for my niece and was super pumped that I made her entire quilt using only fabric from my stash! My stash is still  unruly and insanely large, so I'll still be focusing on completing the many projects for which I already bought fabric.

Baby Quilt

3) Make one quilt for myself.
I actually did start this quilt! All of the blocks are pieced and stacked in the order that I want to sew them for the quilt top. They have sat in this nice, neat pile since August. The good news is that I'm still just as excited about this quilt as I was when I picked out the fabric in May 2011 (ugh.)

Quilt Blocks

4) Learn how to knit in the round.
The furthest that I got with this goal was to buy a book on how to knit in the round. I did pick up a circular needle to knit Baby G's blanket, so at least I have the tools that I need to start getting going on this.

5) Beat our time in the Broad Street Run/exercise regularly every week.
I'd say that this was half accomplished. Nick and I did beat our Broad Street Run time by running a whole 10 minutes faster than we did last year, finishing in 1 hour and 45 minutes! And to celebrate, we decided that this would be our last year running. Ha! We love running the actual race, but the time it takes to train is just too much to commit to, especially now that I'll be going back to grad school again starting in January. So we're ending on a high note, which is good timing since this year they're switching to a lottery system because of how quickly it has sold out in the past couple of years. It would be a bummer if only one of us got selected to run. Don't worry, we'll still be running our many 5ks throughout the year.

I consider this goal to be half accomplished because my daily exercising dropped off in the last quarter of this year. In September I got smacked with a brutal sinus infection that lasted for weeks and then our home renovation/cramming for my exam came into full swing and somehow we ended up at the end of December and I haven't exercised regularly in months. The good news is that I haven't really gained any weight, just lost most of my muscle mass, so at least I still have a youthful metabolism on my side. I know that it is fleeting though, so I'll be back in the gym starting tomorrow.

Even though I had a poor showing as far as my goals are concerned, I did accomplish a few unplanned things this year. I grew a pretty decent first-time garden, but somehow managed to not take any proper photos of it. The tomato plants fared the best, growing crazy big and producing tomatoes well into October.  Forgive me for the sad phone photo. The plants ended up about two feet taller than this picture.

The second best performers were the wildflowers that I planted behind our patio fence. They were tall and beautiful when in bloom and I managed to take only one single phone photo of them. Craziness!

The herbs grew third best, although I don't have any photos of them at their biggest. Here they are when sprouting.


I also tried to grow spinach (which I got a few leaves from), a lettuce mixture, strawberries, and red onions, but none of them grew well. I'll be trying a new spot for the strawberries next year, but I think I'll be passing on the rest.

And of course, as I have mentioned a dozen times already, I completed an online certificate of courses and PASSED my certification exam. Thankfully all of that hard work and studying and neglecting my many hobbies paid off and I can now add three letters after my name in my email signature. Just kidding. It's a good certification to have for my career.

I'm so happy that 2012 ended on a positive note! I'll be back tomorrow with my plans for 2013. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gifts for Baby G

I’m back! I can’t believe I made it to Christmas break. The last few months have been madness, in between taking online classes, studying like a crazy person for a certification exam, and renovating the first floor of our house. But now my classes are done, I passed the certification exam (which was very exciting since it only has a 58% pass rate!) and the renovation is almost finished (the kitchen backsplash and the painting still needs to be done after the break. I'll share pics soon). And, more importantly, we’re officially on Christmas break until January 2nd!

I haven’t done much sewing since Halloween, when our house started being ripped apart and my hardcore studying for the exam started. But I did get some sewing done before Halloween to make sure I was ready to welcome our new baby niece into the world!

For my sister-in-law’s shower, I made a simple quilt entirely from fabric that was in my stash!


It’s a pretty simple pattern but I love how happy it is, especially those owls and polka dots on the back!


I am such a sucker for fruit prints too.



I also made the usual giraffe toy and tag blanket with the leftover fabric. A quilt, giraffe, and tag blanket are starting to be my signature gift for new mothers!


To greet baby G in the hospital, I made a knitted baby blanket courtesy of the pattern from The Purl Bee.


I love how simple it is and how plush it feels. Plus it can be machine washed and dried!


I’ve been looking forward to Christmas break for so long that I can’t believe it’s here! Lots of cooking, baking, crafting, reading, and relaxing are in store for the next week or so. Even though I’m starting some online courses in January, I expect to be back more often than I have been to update you on what I’m working on! Here’s to the start of a new year!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I feel the need… the need for feast!

Since I last checked in to let you know that I’m still alive, I have made good progress on the secret projects that I’ve been working on. Sorry, you’ll still have to wait until the end of the year to see them though!
What I can show you is the delicious food that Nick and I have been making. You’ll have to forgive my many instagram photos, but I was so eager to eat the yummy-smelling food that I didn’t want to waste time getting out my good camera. In some cases I thought ahead and got my camera out before cooking, but that mostly only happened when Nick reminded me.

I’m surprised that we haven’t been granted Mexican citizenship at this point due to how much Mexican cooking we’ve been doing. Sundays have become “Slow Cooker Sundays,” filling our house with amazing Mexican smells thanks to Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday. It has now overtaken The Joy of Cooking as the most-used cookbook in our house.

The great thing about Rick’s recipes is that they are delicious and healthy. They are focused on fresh produce and not mounds of melted cheese (don’t get me wrong: I do love love love cheese). His introduction discusses his journey through figuring out how to eat delicious foods and still be healthy. Basically he eventually realizes that, as humans, we have a fundamental need to feast and should allow ourselves to do so once a week without feeling guilty. The rest of the week you should watch portion size and eat fresh, low-fat and low-calorie meals, but once a week you should gather together with your nearest and dearest and enjoy an amazing meal together. The meal doesn’t necessarily have to be a large unhealthy meal, but the point is to enjoy the food that you’re eating and the company that you are keeping. Essentially, the meal is an event and not just something we’re doing so we can keep our bodies going. I can totally get on board with this. He also talks about regularly exercising. He practices yoga and includes this crazy picture of himself doing this crazy handstand—of course making it look super simple. The introduction legitimized my need to feast but also inspired me to get back into my regular exercising routine. It's really what's behind all of this cooking as of late.

Although, to be honest, some of the recipes have fallen a little flat and we’ve had to think of ways to kick them up a notch. Somehow they smell amazing but you don’t get all of that deliciousness in the taste. For instance, the Chicken a la Veracruzana is absolutely perfect when it has a dollop of the tomatillo salsa on top, but is just OK without it. Last Sunday we made chicken with jalepenos and potatoes and it needed a little something extra to give it some depth. We’re still trying to figure out what that something is.


A few weekends ago I made his creamy corn soup with chicken, poblano chile, and cilantro.


It was better the second night, which confirmed my suspicion that all soups need a day of rest in the fridge so that all of the flavors can meld together. Otherwise, the flavors were good, but it was still a little thin for my taste, probably because Rick has you blend the ingredients and then strain them. I might skip the straining the next time we make this. We added a side salad of arugula topped with a yummy but light dill and sour cream dressing that Nick whipped up. You only needed the tiniest amount of dressing, but it paired really well with the arugula.

We have been doing some non-Bayless cooking though. Last weekend we made lime soup and our very first completely homemade pizza. Both were hits! I got the lime soup recipe from my sister-in-law, who got it from the February 2011 Clean Eating.


I had never heard of that magazine before, but it appears that they strive for delicious and healthy recipes. I am resisting the urge to subscribe to it since they have a ton of stuff online. We first had lime soup when we were in Cancun in 2010 for a wedding and have been thinking about recreating it ever since. This soup was so flavorful, clean, and delicious, although slightly different than the soup we had in Mexico (it was essentially just a broth with chicken). The chicken is cooked with some cumin and jalapenos and then you add the broth over top of that, retaining all of that amazing flavor. Isn’t cumin the best? We use it, in combination with other spices, to flavor chicken for tacos and it just makes it. After the broth comes to a boil, you remove the pot from heat and add green onions, cilantro, diced tomatoes, and spinach. After letting it rest in the fridge for a night, we reheated it and added the lime right before serving. The original recipe calls for toasting tortillas and topping the soup with the tortillas and sour cream, but we skipped that and just ate the soup with a side of tortilla chips. Let me tell you, it was amazing. It was like taking the successful elements of the lemon and cilantro chicken soup that I made last year and adding it to a complexly-flavored broth. What might have made the difference was cooking the chicken and then adding the broth in the same pot. Nevertheless, it was perfect! We will make it again and again.

Last Saturday we had our most adventurous cooking experience yet when we made pizza entirely from scratch. A friend recommended Jonathan Waxman’s recipe for pizza dough in A Great American Cook, and, after seeing the photo of it in the book, we immediately snatched it up. Even though prior to learning how to sew, I was into baking, I have never made dough from scratch, especially one that utilizes yeast. The dough turned out a little sticky, so we had some issues transferring the pizza to the stone, which resulted in a bunched up, thick-in-the-center pie. Still, it baked well and it tasted amazing. Other than getting the dough right, the one thing I would change for the next time is to put the bacon pieces on top of the other ingredients so they crisp up a little bit more (this time they were buried under the tomatoes, cheese, and green onions).


The best part about all of this weekend cooking is that we just eat the leftovers during the week! We did this a few times last winter but then fell off the wagon when the weather got warm. I’m now determined to make at least one meal over the weekend that we can just reheat during the week to cut down on the cooking/clean up time on weeknights. It makes dinner so much more enjoyable!

Do any of you have any tried and true cookbooks that you absolutely love? Nick will probably disable my Amazon account if I buy another cookbook, but Christmas is coming up and I am always looking for gift suggestions!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Oh hi! I wish I had something finished to share, but sadly most of my free time lately has been devoted to online classes that I'm taking or the test that I'm studying to take in December. My poor dining table sewing table has been taken over by my studies. I keep my pressing tools and cutting mats out to remind myself that, one day, the table will return to its usual purpose of sewing. Those shirts draped over the chair aren't going to alter themselves!


I have been able to sneak in some work on a few secret projects that I can't share until the end of this year. That's right: I'm already working on Christmas gifts (mostly on the train ride home in the afternoon). Before you start thinking that I'm crazy, let me explain. Knowing that I'll have very limited free time this fall due to aforementioned courses and studying, in addition to the impending renovation of our entire first floor in the next couple of months (I hope! We're meeting with a contractor on Thursday!), I knew that I needed to start early in order to get everything done on time. I also had to limit the number of hand-made gifts that I'm giving this year, which makes me sad, but I know that it's necessary. So here are a few sneak peaks at what I'm working on.



I also have a bunch of half-finished projects. Sitting at the bottom of a bag in my closet are a half-made Cambie (which won't be worn until next summer at this point), a finished muslin of Simplicity 2475 waiting to be cut in real fabric, a half-complete muslin of the Lisette Traveler dress, and a stack of finished quilt blocks waiting to be pieced together to make the first quilt that I will keep for myself.


I'm working on the skirt as part of this session's sewing classes, but I'm guessing that the others won't get finished until I either finish the skirt and continue on to the next project or when I go on Christmas break for a week. Thankfully my courses and test will be over in mid-December, so I'll at least have a couple of weeks to cram in any last-minute gift making before Christmas. Hopefully I'll be back with an update for you before then!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cute little bike bag

On Saturday, Nick and I took our annual Fourth of July 20-mile bike ride up and down the Delaware River Canal Towpath. As luck would have it, at the end of June, Sew Mama Sew posted a quick little bike bag tutorial. This was great timing as I had been meaning to pick up a small bag to stash tissues and chapstick in while we're on our rides. Those are my absolute must-haves, of course!

The great things about this pattern are that it's super quick to put together and I was able to use scraps for the entire thing! These are leftover scraps from the backing on MaMotts' 90th Birthday Quilt. They're so bright and cheerful.


I guess I was eager to get going on our ride and didn't realize that 3/4 of the bag was in the shade. Don't worry, the fabric doesn't have any weird color issues.


The bag works great and will fit on many different styles of bikes because the straps are velcro. There is also a velcro strip on the inside of the bag to keep it closed. My only disappointment with the pattern is that you sew on the velcro after you make the bag, so you see the stitch lines for the velcro on the outside of the bag. Not a huge deal for a bag that is solely going to live on my bike, but if I was to make it again, I might try to figure out a way to have this not happen.

Anyway, I highly recommend it for a quick and easy project!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A sack and my first knits!

I finished this dress (New Look 6803) back in May but haven't worn it yet because I'm still searching for the right belt. It most definitely needs a belt, as otherwise it is a shapeless sack. This is because somehow I managed to cut out the wrong view (View C instead of View A) and, not wanting to make a tunic dress, I just kept the neckline intact instead of slicing it down the middle to make the tunic.  I was very disappointed because View A has such a cute neckline! In these pictures it even looks like a hospital gown. I assure you that the fabric is cute though, it's a gray swiss dot. It will be great for the fall/winter paired with a cardigan and tights, but for now I'm struggling. I'm thinking I need a medium to thick width belt, worn around my natural waist. Any other suggestions?


Now on to happier topics. During this round of sewing classes, we chose to work with knits. Having never sewed with knits before, I was a little hesitant, but my sewing teacher said I would have no problem using my sewing machine and not have to resort to using a serger.

Then I realized that I already had a knit dress pattern, New Look 2618. Most likely I had it because I liked the dress and didn't realize that it was meant to be sewn with knits. Oops! My teacher recommended Sophia knits, which thankfully were reasonably priced on I chose a cheaper knit to sew up my muslin.

After checking out the measurements and the amount of ease in the garment, I ended up cutting out a size 10, four sizes smaller than the pattern suggests for someone of my measurements. There is a ton of ease in this thing. I used a zig zag stitch with a .5 width and 2.5 length and had absolutely no problems sewing together my muslin even though my machine doesn't have a dial to change the presser foot pressure. The other great news is that my muslin fit pretty much perfectly! Yes, I realize I didn't match up the print, but I'm ok wearing this dress anyway.


Then I cut out the pattern using my nice knit fabric. This stuff is thick! In real life, the fabric is a nice and rich wine color, which is going to be great for the fall. I think the fabric is a bit too heavy to wear in the dead of summer, but it will be perfect come September and even into the winter if I pair it with a cardigan.


I think this is it for me with this pattern though, mainly because I am not fond of the seam hitting at the widest part of my belly. Also, the neckline calls for a facing and I'm not crazy about how this looks with the thicker knit.

Still, I loved sewing with knits! Who knew it could be so easy? When I ordered this fabric I also ordered some knit fabric in Jay McCarroll's Germania line to finally make a Renfrew. Hopefully that will come together just as easily!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Never fear...

...I am still alive and sewing, although you might have assumed that I abandoned sewing since I haven't posted a finished object since the beginning of May! I have actually sewn up three dresses and a bag for my bike, I just haven't gotten the chance to take pictures of any of them. I am making it my mission this weekend to document all 4 items, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Great Western Adventure: Days 18-24

Interested in what we did before we got to the Grand Canyon?
Days 1-4: Chicago, The Corn Palace, The Badlands, and Wall Drug
Day 5: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devils Tower 
Day 6: First Day in Yellowstone 
Day 7: First Camping/Kayaking Day in the Grand Tetons 
Day 8: Second Camping/Kayaking Day in the Grand Tetons 
Day 9: Back to Yellowstone and Visiting Old Faithful 
Day 10: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lamar Valley
Day 11: Kayaking on Lake Yellowstone
Day 12: The Roosevelt Arch and the Old Faithful Inn
Days 13-14: Driving to the Grand Canyon, Parts I & II
Day 15: Fossil Walk, Condor Talk, and Lightning!!
Days 16-17: Hike into the Canyon, Pictographs, and Four Corners

Day 18: Pike's Peak and Denver

We took a short drive over to Manitou Springs to take a cog train up to the top of Pike's Peak. The train was a really neat way to see the scenery of the mountain and the area below the mountain.


I couldn't believe that it was about 30 degrees cooler on top of the mountain than it was below. Thankfully I had my fleece!


We had a short break on the peak to take a look around and get a snack.


On the way up the guides were raving about the popcorn at the snack bar, so of course we had to try some. It was decent popcorn, but nothing you can't get anywhere else.


We saw more people doing stupid things on the side of the mountain, which sadly was par for the course for our trip across America.


Unfortunately the train ride down wasn't as enjoyable as the ride up. Shortly after getting on the train, I fell asleep, which isn't abnormal as I can fall asleep pretty much anywhere. I was jolted awake and then proceeded to feel lightheaded and started sweating profusely. After a struggle, Nick was able to take all of my things off of my lap so I could put my head between my knees. Needless to say, the people that were sitting across from us were a bit worried but thankfully didn't make a huge deal out of it and instead kindly opened the window so I could get some air. The biggest lesson we learned on this trip is that my body is overly sensitive to elevation, especially elevation changes.

Once we got off the train we were on the hunt for a good lunch spot. Manitou Springs is a small hippy town, much like New Hope if you're familiar with Bucks County, but more quaint. We found an organic cafe of sorts called Naturally's and I scarfed down the most delicious lunch. It was called a Black Diamond Burrito and had quinoa, millet, rice, beans, cheese, greens, cilantro pesto and a side of fruit. It was just what I needed after the cog train episode.

After lunch we drove to Denver for an oil change and then after freshening up at the hotel, took a cab into town for dinner at Table Six, which turned out to be one of our favorite meals on our trip. Everyone there was so genuinely nice and were super excited about our roadtrip. And the food was delicious. I got the best fried chicken I have ever had in my life! They tipped us off to a trail along a canal, so we headed there for a nice after-dinner walk before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Day 19: Driving from Denver to Broken Arrow, OK

Now we start the boring days of non-stop driving with the reward of delicious meals at the end of each leg to keep us going. To keep us interested throughout the drive, I downloaded Roadside America, an app that alerted us to quirky roadside attractions. Right outside of Denver, we came across the World's Wonder View Tower, which claimed that you could see 6 states from the top of the 65 foot tower.


This place is like the set of a horror film.


There are manikins in the windows of the tower and a bunch of crap on tables outside of the front entrance.


Despite the fact that the door said that they opened at 9:00am, it wasn't open when we arrived there at 9:30, and I quickly ran back to the car to get out of there.

Once we got into Kansas it started to get seriously hot. The temperature gauge read about 110 degrees and I was very thankful that our car was barreling through like a champ. We stopped in Oakley, KS, for lunch at Don's Drive-In Cafe, where apparently only Don was working as it took over a half hour to get our order of a grilled cheese, cheeseburger, fries, and their specialty, fried pickles.

By the time we got to our hotel in Broken Arrow that night, it was still in the 90s. Yuck.

Day 20: Driving to Jackson, MS

The drive from Broken Arrow to Jackson was pretty uneventful, except for our lunch stop in Little Rock at a restaurant entirely patronized by "ladies who lunch."

We stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn in Jackson, which I highly recommend if you happen to find yourself going there, as it has a locked parking garage. Jackson, or at least the part of Jackson that we saw, was pretty rough. The store space in the entire block across from the hotel was for rent. We got super lucky though as our hotel ended up being one block away from the restaurant that we had found for dinner.

Amen for Parlor Market, the saving grace of Jackson. We had the most delicious meal, complete with pre-prohibition cocktails (I had the Hemingway Daquari) and southern style. Everything we had was amazing: trout salad, strip steak, and rabbit, and then we got to the dessert. Oh wow, the dessert. We ordered the "Walk Down Memory Lane," which came in an old metal lunchbox and included assorted homemade childhood treats like an ice cream sandwich, pop rocks, a key lime push up pop, a brown butter Rice Krispie treat, and a chocolate mousse Snack Pack. If you are anywhere near Jackson, brave the frightening landscape and go to Parlor Market. You won't be disappointed.

Days 21-22: St. Simon's Island, GA

We had another day of driving ahead of us, but at least we would be arriving at a fun destination at the end of it: St. Simon's Island, Georgia, for a friend's wedding. We stopped in Montgomery, Alabama, for lunch at a farmer's market cafe. Montgomery was much cuter and nicer than Jackson and, from what we saw of it from the car, is what I imagine when I think of a southern town.

Along our drive, we saw this amazing sign.


Somewhere between Montgomery and St. Simons we encountered a bird dog statue marking the town as the Field Trail Capital of the World.


There were actual signs on the road pointing people to this statue.

We finally arrived at St. Simon's Island, where the groom grew up. It was such a cute, small beach town where everyone seemed to know each other. We cleaned up quickly at the hotel and then walked across the street to the lighthouse, where friends of the bride and groom gave speeches and told stories about the pair. It was a great time. Afterwards, Nick and I took a walk and ate a slice of pizza outside. It was the perfect summer night.

The next day, Nick and I walked over to a flea market, had some lunch in town, and then walked down the island to find a beach for a quick dip. The beaches are all eroded, so you had to walk up a set of stairs that led to a landing and then down another set of stairs that went directly into the water. It was so much different than any beach I have ever been to! The water was so warm and refreshing after our long walk. After a bit, we packed up and walked back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

The bride and groom are both ministers (the groom actually married me and Nick), so they pretty much did their own ceremony. It was so thoughtful and so them. The reception was held at an outdoor public park a short walk from the church. After feasting on a wide variety of ethnic foods, we danced like idiots for the rest of the night. It was a great night.

Days 23-24: Driving to Raleigh, NC and then Home!
After saying goodbye to St. Simon's, we were back on the road, only this time heading north! We stopped in Savannah, Georgia, for lunch, but being a Sunday, we had the worst trouble finding somewhere to eat that didn't have a crazy long wait.

We were originally bummed that we'd be in Raleigh over Labor Day weekend and wouldn't be able to go to our favorite restaurant there, Big Ed's. We happened upon Big Ed's the first time we visited our friend Steve in Raleigh and every time afterward we have made sure to go. You get a ton of delicious southern food for like $7. Thankfully Steve made it up to us by taking us to The Pit, an authentic Carolina barbecue place. It was seriously amazing. And I tried moonshine while we were there, which was surprisingly not strong at all. We are definitely going back there the next time we visit Steve. Along with Big Ed's, of course.

The next day was our last day of driving! We left Raleigh early not knowing what kind of traffic we would run into around Washington, DC. Strangely enough we ran into almost no traffic, so we decided to swing into DC for some quick sightseeing. We attempted to see the Lincoln memorial, but the traffic patterns there are so labyrinth-like that we ended up circling around 5 times and then gave up since there was no parking anyway.

Somewhere along that stretch of road, we saw this awesome sight. Yes, that is a dog on a motorcycle with doggles on. This was the most interesting thing we saw during that drive.


Thankfully we had dinner reservations at one of our favorites, Woodberry Kitchen, in Baltimore. We like Woodberry so much that we once drove there for dinner on a Saturday night without staying in Baltimore. Yes, we drove two hours there and two hours home just to eat their delicious, delicious food.

And they didn't disappoint this time. After being forced to eat so much fried crap in middle America (it was seriously all there was a lot of the places we went, especially for lunch), we were thrilled to eat fresh food. We ordered an appetizer that consisted only of slices of tomatoes and a few greens. The meal was almost like a cleanse. You may have heard of Woodberry if you watch the Food Network Show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. For their dessert episode, Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes and Ace of Cakes talked about Woodberry's CMP.

The CMP is a delicious small glass layered with malt ice cream, chocolate sauce, marshmallow fluff, and wet peanuts, topped with a disc of sugar like the top of a creme brulee. We get it every time we go!

Back on the very familiar 95, we made the last two-hour drive in the rain, and then arrived home tired and happy with the thought of sleeping in our own bed. Flick was so excited that we were home that he drooled all over me (he does that from time to time) and didn't leave our sides for a second. All told we traveled 7,447 miles, which Nick was very happy about as it is a palindrome.


We had such a great time and created so many fun memories that we still bring up every now and then almost a year later. I'm so glad that we were able to see so much of the country by driving. We saw so much awesome stuff! We're in the process of brainstorming our next big trip for next summer. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Great Western Adventure: Days 16 and 17

Interested in what we did before we got to the Grand Canyon?
Days 1-4: Chicago, The Corn Palace, The Badlands, and Wall Drug Day 5: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devils Tower  Day 6: First Day in Yellowstone 
Day 7: First Camping/Kayaking Day in the Grand Tetons 
Day 8: Second Camping/Kayaking Day in the Grand Tetons 
Day 9: Back to Yellowstone and Visiting Old Faithful 
Day 10: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lamar Valley
Day 11: Kayaking on Lake Yellowstone
Day 12: The Roosevelt Arch and the Old Faithful Inn
Days 13-14: Driving to the Grand Canyon, Parts I & II
Day 15: Fossil Walk, Condor Talk, and Lightning!!

Day 16: Hike into the Canyon and Pictographs

We woke up super early this morning in order to take a bus to the Kaibab Trailhead for a 7:00 am hike into the canyon with Ranger Eric, who happened to originally be from Lancaster, PA! Ranger Eric stopped us every so often along the trail to point out nice views, or what he called "ooo-ahhh" points, and to tell us some information about the different rock layers. He liked to say that we were going back in time on the hike, because we entered a different era of rock each time we descended lower into the canyon. The different colored bands of rock are each from a different era.


At about 1.5 miles down, we got to Cedar Ridge.


What an awesome view! We are all nerded out with our gear, which I was very thankful to have. After a bathroom and snack break, we started back up so we could get back up to the top before the shade went away. The last part of the trail was composed of a bunch of switchbacks. Can you see the tiny people on the trail?


Here I am battling the switchbacks.


By that time it was near 11:00 am and the sun was hot. Thankfully we got back up to the top without too much trouble.


After checking with our families, we found out that little Flick was just fine and that no one had any damage to their houses. We then felt relaxed enough to spend the afternoon napping and reading. It was a nice change of pace from the constant fast pace that we had kept up until this point on the trip. 

A little while later we took a short walk down the Bright Angel trail to find the pictographs on the canyon wall. They have blurred over time.


At the start of the trail we saw some more great warning signs.



We took a walk around the rim over to the artist studio that sits on the edge.


After a relaxing dinner and some more lounging, we turned in early to prepare for another early start the next morning.

Day 17: Driving to Colorado Springs

After a quick breakfast at the Bright Angel, we were back on the road at 7:00am heading north to Colorado Springs.


Before we pulled out of the parking lot, we made sure to fill up all of our Nalgenes with water from this free (FREE!) natural spring tap. It was delicious water.


On the way, we stopped at the Four Corners Monument, which is the intersection of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. The other people that were there were simply standing on the intersection, but not us! We had a limb in each state!


Supposedly this isn't even in the correct spot, but let's just pretend that it is.

We saw some neat scenery on this drive, but not much else happened! We had a lot of trouble finding a place to eat dinner, so beware if you're ever making this trek. We ended up scarfing down some pizza at a restaurant next to our hotel in Colorado Springs and then crashing in bed, per usual.

Next Up: I almost pass out on Pike's Peak!