Category Archives: Outdoor Adventures

In Search of: Fun Gifts and a Trip to the Springs Preserve

My weekend started with a trip to the mailbox and a super-awesome gift package from my friend, Christy. Christy has become my go-to travel buddy over the years. We travel well together. And that’s seriously saying something because I have little patience when it comes to traveling with other people. I don’t say that to be mean. It’s just who I am. Spending that much time with one person often puts me on edge. But not with Christy! She’s awesome, and we always have SO much fun together! She also happens to be the best person I’ve ever met when it comes to sending fun things in the mail. Whenever there’s a colorful, cute envelope in my mailbox, I don’t even have to look at who it’s from. She finds the cutest little things and just sends them — for fun — because why not?!? So one of the things in my package this time was a super cute little rope bracelet from her trip to Australia this summer. I wore it yesterday on my first day back to school — a nice little reminder of my future trip to Australia (likely next summer!). So thank you, Christy!! You always make me smile.

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The rest of my weekend was spent thinking an awful lot about having to return to work on Monday. (Ack! It’s always tough going back after summer break.) I also took a trip to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve with my friend, Justin. It was my first time there, and it’s a great spot. There are trails (which I didn’t take this time because of the heat, but I’ll do them when the weather cools and report back), some great gardens, a small museum and even a desert animal exhibit/show.

Of course, there was also that moment I almost got eaten by a mammoth…

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Soon after the mammoth incident, we spent the later part of the afternoon grabbing lunch at the cafe and enjoying this lovely view of the Las Vegas valley.

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Also posted in Ramblings and Rants Tagged |

In Search of: Cliff Jumping at the Colorado River

With less than two weeks left before heading back to the classroom, I realized I was in dire need of a little FUN. So I checked my bucket list and chatted with a friend about what could be done to remedy my problem. We came up with something — cliff jumping!! My friend, Terrell, knew of an awesome spot on the Colorado River that didn’t require a hike through scorching summer temperatures to get there. And it just so happened to be a popular spot for cliff jumping. Plans were made, and off we went — in search of facing my fear of heights by jumping off a cliff into the river.

And jump I did!! It was scary. But also boatloads of fun. Not to mention, the river was perfection, and we found the perfect spot tucked in some rocks that provided shade for our afternoon picnic. All in all, it was a lovely day!

Want to see proof? Here’s the video of my very first cliff jump:

And a couple of shots from the day:

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If you’re itching for an adventure, grab a friend, brainstorm ideas, and head on outside! I highly recommend it. :)

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In Search of: Turquoise Falls in the Midst of the Grand Canyon

I visited a place on my bucket list a couple weeks ago — Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon.  I’d seen pictures online several times and was a bit awe-struck by the turquoise waters.  Granted, I also thought said photos had been Photoshopped.  Nonetheless, I had to see for myself to judge.

Last February I shopped the idea around to friends.  Turned out, I had a friend that wanted to check it out too.  So I called the lodge at Supai Village.  Reservations start each year at the beginning of February.  I called at the end of February.  We’re booked all summer, I was told.  After a little maneuvering with my schedule, I made a reservation for September and waited impatiently for several months.  (The lesson here?  If you want a coveted spot at the falls during the busy summer months — call February 1, on the dot!)

During my impatient waiting, I tried to find as much information as possible about Supai Village and the lodge.  I didn’t find much.  What I did find did not paint a pretty picture.  Reviews online made it sound like I would be vacationing in South Central.  I was fully prepared to spend two nights among rude people in a garbage infested village overridden with crime.  I opted not to bring the fancy camera and prepared myself for the worst.  (I wouldn’t let anything stop me from visiting what had been lauded one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons on Earth.)

You will be happy to know (as I was) what I found was nothing like the battle weary town I expected.  The first local I encountered was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and although some locals were on the quiet side, I never felt unwelcome or concerned about my welfare.  The village was not overridden with garbage.  Yes, there was the occasional piece of trash on the ground, but it was obvious the locals tried very hard to keep the village clean.  They take the trash out of the canyon by mule, and there’s bound to be a stray fallen piece here and there.  The lodge itself was exceptionally clean.  The room was basic, but I already knew to expect that (the Havasupai website noted this).  Below are some pictures of the hike into the canyon, the lodge and Supai Village (please excuse my ridiculously dirty lens when looking at the pictures of my room at the lodge — I wanted to include the pictures anyway to give you a good idea of what a room looks like).

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After being pleasantly surprised with the village, we spent the second day of our trip at the falls.  From the village, the easiest to reach falls (Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls) are approximately a 2-3 mile hike.  Because we had the entire day to visit each of these falls, we were able to relax and enjoy the waters.  The weather was warm and absolutely beautiful, and the falls were beyond stunning.  I can tell you right now, those photos you see online when you do a search for Havasu Falls are real.  The water really is that blue — the turquoise color really is that bright.  It’s stunning.  Really, really stunning.  Here’s a bit of a warning for you though: if you’re afraid of heights (or falling, as I like to call it!) Mooney Falls is a bit sketchy to reach.  As you begin to descend the cliff, a sign states descend at own risk.  And boy does it mean it!  We had no idea what we were in for, and it’s a good thing no one was behind us.  There is a rather exposed section after you get through the tunnels, and I have to admit, there were a few points were I froze.  I had to take a few breaths to convince myself to move forward (and figure out where to put my feet next).  In the end, I’m glad we went ahead and descended.  Mooney Falls is beautiful, and how many time in my life will I have the opportunity to play in such amazing waterfalls in the Grand Canyon?  After returning home, I heard there were grape vines growing down past Mooney Falls.  I wish I would have realized this, as I wouldn’t have stopped my hike there.  Perhaps next time!  As for swimming, I think Havasu Falls takes the cake.  There are several areas perfect for swimming and lots of shaded picnic tables.  Navajo Falls surprised me most of all.  I could have spent the entire day at Navajo without feeling like I missed out on anything.  Ah, so many inspiring vistas!  How does one choose a favorite?  Here’s what I suggest:  make a reservation and choose for yourself!

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Also posted in Hiking, Non-Local Hikes, North America, United States, Weekend Getaways Tagged , , , , , |

In Search of: Lone Pine Lake at Mt. Whitney Portal

You may recall before I left to Guatemala, I decided to hike a big-ass mountain in the States.  Prior to the ridiculously long, 22-mile day hike, I trained for a couple of months.  And then on July 6, I headed up to Lone Pine, California, the city at the base of Mt. Whitney.  We arrived on the evening of the 6th and planned to acclimate to the elevation before tackling the peak on the 8th.  That left us with the 7th to entertain ourselves.

Lone Pine is a cute little western town (think old west or wild west), but if you’re not eating, there’s not much to do.  So.  We did what any sane group of individuals would do the day prior to a 22-mile hike.  We hiked the first part of the Whitney Trail up to Lone Pine Lake!  There’s nothing quite like a 5.6 mile hike the day before tackling Whitney.  Nope.  Nothing quite like it.

But here’s what I can say:  it was warm, the sun was shining, and it really was a lovely way to spend a day.  Enjoy the pictures!

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P.S.  I have to be honest — I only took a couple of these pictures.  Joe (the one in the pics above) had my camera, so he’s responsible for most of these awesome shots!

Also posted in Hiking, Non-Local Hikes, North America, United States Tagged , , , |

In Search of: Silly Swimsuits and a Sprint Triathlon

I’m interrupting my usual posts to chat about my next endeavor.  I’ve found I’m more motivated to keep up with my workouts if I have a goal.  And a goal I have!  Allow me to share…

It all started one Friday morning when I was bored in my classroom, grading.  Seeing as how I often want to take that red pen and poke an eye out with it, I welcome interruptions during such times.  One day last school year, another teacher came into my classroom and broke up the monotony.  We started chatting about training for her first triathlon.  I may have mentioned completing a triathlon was on my bucket list.  (It’s likely this situation is entirely my fault.)  She then invited me to train with her.  Off the hook.  Sorry, I can’t train with you — I’ll be out of town all summer.  I won’t even be here for the triathlon.  (There are occasions when putting something on your bucket list makes you question your sanity — just FYI.)

No problem, she quipped.  I’m doing another in the fall!

I was bored.  This somehow sounded like a grand idea.  I signed on.

Naturally, after returning from Central America, I attempted to talk myself out of the triathlon.  What are you thinking?  You’re totally not going to be ready for this!  Except I had already shared this goal with several people.  Of course, they asked about it.  How’s that training coming along?  I backpedaled a little.  I complained about not owning a bike.  I tried to think of an excuse.  There can’t possibly be enough time to train properly, right?

And then I had a few conversations with the guy I’m dating (yes, I totally just said that) about the tri.  He’s thinking about doing it with me.

Me:  I don’t have a bike.  And the cycling section is all up hill.  Do you know that road?  It’s hell.

Him:  I wouldn’t worry so much about the bike.  But swimming — do you swim?

Me:  Does snorkeling with a pair of fins count?

Him:  No.

Me:  Hmmmm.

So after all the hemming and hawing, I realized I need to at least attempt to train.  And with all my knee ailments, it couldn’t hurt to take up swimming.  If the triathlon doesn’t happen this season, so what?  Did you see the bodies of those Olympic swimmers?  Obviously, swimming is a grand workout.

But here’s what people forget to tell you right after they tell you the amazing exercise benefits of swimming: you look like an ass while doing it!  True story.

So I go to Big 5 with guy-I’m-dating, and he shows me goggles and swim caps and suits.  I take a few to the fitting room to try them on.  OMG.  I have back fat!  Seriously.  I never knew.  But all the things you never knew about your body seem ever so obvious when you put one of those things on.  They’re so tight.  And grippy.  Every inch of skin is pushed this way and that.  And did I mention the actual act of putting it on?  It’s like some sort of circus contraption.  Am I doing this right?  That’s what I thought as I hopped around the fitting room, attempting to get the damn thing up over my hips.  Maybe it’s not the right size.  I try on larger sizes.  Same issue.

Guy-I’m-dating:  You’re not getting anything?

Me:  No.  I think I need to do some research.

Guy:  There’s not much to research.  The best research is probably just trying them on.

Me:  No.  It’s scary.  I need research.

I researched the next day and watched YouTube videos of Michael Phelps kicking ass in the water.  I could be the next Michael Phelps!  Okay.  No.  I couldn’t.  But this inspired me to head back to the store, be brave, and get that suit.  So I did.  And then I went home and watched YouTube videos about how to put on a swim cap and how to put swim goggles on.  (Don’t laugh.  You would do it too.)

I put all my gear on and looked in the mirror.  And then I decided looking in the mirror was likely not the best idea.

I found swim workout plans and beginner triathlon training plans, and I started piecing this thing together.  I went out and tried swimming laps (I liked it!).

It’s official.  I shall attempt to train for the triathlon in October.  If I’m not ready in time, so be it.  But I’m super excited!  The ridiculous looking swim gear is actually kind of cool when you realize how much better you can swim with it on.  And the idea of being good at swimming, running and biking — at the same time — yep, that’s pretty much pushing me forward.  (Plus, how awesome would it be to say I’m a triathlete?)

So that’s what I’m doing these days.  That’s what’s got me moving.  What’s got you moving?

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