Going It Alone

IMG_7784I spend a lot of time by myself -partly by choice and partly by necessity. Sometimes it’s just to prove that I can. I’m happy to have company but am also happy to hike five miles alone, to eat alone in a restaurant or even go to a concert by myself. Solo road trips are actually a lot of fun because you don’t have to take into account someone else’s feelings and can just go where the wind blows you.

However, the one thing I had never done alone is fly.

I’m not really a seasoned air traveler and had never needed to go by myself. For some reason, this really had me psyched out when it came to planning my Utah trip. The thought of getting myself to the airport, through security and to the right place on time was intimidating. I’m not afraid to fly. I was just afraid of the rest!

Turns out, it was fine.  I flew out of Cincinnati rather than Columbus because airfare was significantly less and I was able to choose from several direct flights at different times of the day both coming and going. Think half the price for a direct flight that took a third the time as the ones offered from Columbus. 

I drove myself to the airport, found my way through the whole process and actually enjoyed my flight. Easy peasy.

Coming home wasn’t quite as easy. My flight was delayed and my bags heavier because I evidently am a champion packer who managed to fit a ton of stuff into a carry-on and personal item, making it tough to navigate the narrow aisles of an airplane and to drag through the airports.

Nonetheless, there was nothing to fear. In fact, I would be game to do it again soon if the opportunity arises.

What are you afraid to do alone? I can promise you, it won’t be nearly as scary as hiding from life and staying home all the time! Tell me all about it in the comments.

Staying In Moab

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Are you tired of hearing about my Utah vacation yet?

Good. Here’s more.

We spent the bulk of our week based in a tiny house just outside Moab. It was located on the outskirts of town close to the road to the national parks, the stores, downtown and pretty much anything else we needed.

Moab is an interesting place. Settled back in 1878, Moab today is largely a tourist community with a fun downtown district and rich history. My two favorite places here were a locally owned bookstore and a place called Moab Made that specializes in handmade jewelry, art and gifts.

We also liked the patio of a little Italian place along the main drag as well as the Sunset Grill which sits high above the city and offers the best food, views and even a great story. By the way, it has a great story and you can read about it here.

The area has a prominent place in pop culture too as it has been featured in a number of Hollywood films. It’s a long list but my favorite would have to be Thelma and Louise which was an ongoing joke for us gals as we adventured through our week.

The town has a great little museum that covers much of their history including ranching, the Uranium boom, the development of the parks, native history and a nice display on the Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was once here.

Moab is home to a number of companies that arrange adventure tours by air, land and sea. If you’re looking to fly, rock climb, off-road, kayak or do basically anything else outdoors, there is a tour operator here that can help.

If you go, consider taking the Airbnb route. Hotels here are pretty expensive and you could have a whole condo here for about half the price of a modest hotel.

What else? Oh. Look for the public art. There’s a lot of it around town and it does a lot to add character to the place.

I’m always on the lookout for my next great adventure. What town is your favorite place to visit?

Mom and Dad. I’m Fine

I am a grown adult but that doesn’t prevent my parents from worrying and stewing over their only child’s adventuring. In fact, they felt a lot of anxiety over my summer vacation.

My traveling companion found a fun video about a man who sent his mom pictures while he was out globetrotting. I liked the idea and ran with it, printing and laminating a sign that I dragged all over the country.

Here are a few of my favorites:

My folks loved receiving the pictures and thought it was a fun, reassuring way to keep track of my activities and whereabouts.

Fielding Garr Ranch

Yesterday I told you about dipping our toes in the Great Salt Lake and how there is a historic ranch located on Antelope Island State Park. It just so happens that this ranch was one of my favorite stops this trip.

The ranch was established by a fellow named Fielding Garr, who built the first log cabin in 1848 while acting on behalf of the Mormon Church. Cattle and sheep were ranched here and the ranch operated continually until becoming a state park in the early eighties.

Today you can tour the ranch house, barns and surrounding acreage. One highlight here is the herd of buffalo which are easily viewed from the barn yard. The barns and buildings are packed with memorabilia including old saddles and tools, vintage advertising, old radios and a wide variety of other items.

I also loved the ranch house where each room is set up to to represent a different era in the home’s history. My favorite room was the kitchen where I recognized a number of vintage utensils and equipment similar to what my grandmother may have used. I also loved the laundry room with its pink Kenmore washer.

Incidentally, this ranch house is the oldest home in Utah.

We found one thing that was especially unique, or at least, it was special to us. My traveling companion shrieked like a little girl when she saw this old bin in the blacksmith’s shop. Look at the brand on top. It was made in Wellston, Ohio – Johnna’s hometown.

I guess it’s true – you’re never too far from home.

The ranch was well worth the time to visit. Feeders draw in the hummingbirds and a host of other birds and wildlife call the island home. Large trees offer shade and the place is just far enough off the beaten path there is little noise from automobiles and motorcyles.

It is relaxing here as well as fun. 

And honestly, it’s just peaceful here – a welcome respite from the bustling traffic found in the city.

Want to visit Antelope Island? Click here for more. 

A Dip In The Great Salt Lake

blog 5When you think of Salt Lake City, you probably think of the Great Salt Lake and the Morman Tabernacle Choir. We didn’t get to hear the choir sing but we did spend a day roaming around Antelope Island which is in the Great Salt Lake.

The Lake is nearing historic lows and it’s pretty obvious when you walk around a bit. Antelope Island is accessible via a causeway and is about 45 minutes from where we stayed downtown. One thing that impressed us both is the sheer number of birds everywhere you look here.

The Island is a story unto itself as it boasts hiking trails, an historic ranch, wildlife, kayaking and other fun things. We set out that day  intending to hike but it was extremely hot and we got a late start (not to mention the triple berry pancakes with whipped cream and syrup were slowing me down a bit) so we opted to do several short walks that kept us close to the car. After all, there is essentially no shade here and there was high heat every day.

One of the trip highlights for me was taking off my shoes and wading in the lake. It’s just one of those things you should do at least once.

Please understand that this was a bucket list item for me but it isn’t necessarily the most pleasant experience in the world. From one parking lot there is a paved sidewalk that will take you down to the shoreline. We parked in a lot where you wade through deep sand to reach the water. I was fine with this as it adds to the experience and makes it seem more authentic.

However, something that doesn’t add to the experience is the smell. The lake smells a little bit like rotten eggs. There’s also flies and brine shrimp to contend with. However, if you can get past these things (I’m laughing as I’m typing), it really is a peaceful place and one that is beautiful for its stark simplicity. It’s lovely really, especially once you get used to the odor.

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I know this doesn’t sound so appealing but we really did have a great time! Wait till tomorrow when I tell you about the ranch at Antelope Island.

The Darkest Skies You’ll Ever See

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On our first night in Moab we made the journey down to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This is a sparsely populated area of the park and considered back country. There are no towns nearby, few houses and consequently, no light pollution.

These are some of the darkest skies in the country. It just so happens that our visit coincided with the Perseid Meteor Shower.

We found a place to park, spread our blankets on the ground and feasted on peanut butter sandwiches and cherries  while enjoying the show in the sky.

We had some really good meals but this was the finest one of the trip. 

We rested for a few restless hours in the car (ahem, next to a sign that said “No camping”) and were up at daybreak in time to see the sun rise.

I took no pictures of the night sky, choosing to just enjoy the experience rather than feel frustrated because my pictures were no good.  But I did take a lot of the sun coming up.

Isn’t it spectacular?

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A Big Adventure

I’m home now after a whirlwind adventure out west with a friend. There is so much to say about this trip that I don’t even know where to start.

The trip was to Utah. I flew into Salt Lake City where my friend Johnna picked me up at the airport and we were off and running for the next week. We spent a couple of days in Salt Lake and the rest of the week in Moab where we stayed in a tiny house (that’s what they called it on Airbnb – it was really a very nice house trailer) that was home base for shopping, sightseeing and hiking in the famed Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

I’ve flown over this part of the country before but this was my first time visiting. Let me tell you, friends – coming from the lush, green, overgrown southern part of Ohio, landing in Utah was about like landing on the moon. There’s little vegetation and instead lots of rock. Salt Lake City seems like a never ending sprawl of houses and development rimmed by mountains. To put things into perspective, the county where I live has about 13,000 people and literally more trees than people.

Rather than detail the entire journey in one post, I’ll tell you about a few things over time. Today, we’ll talk about hiking because that was my favorite part.

I went to see the sunrise over the desert and I was not disappointed. There is something magical about the desert around Moab and the way it changes with the light. I loved watching the way the landscaped changed as we stomped around on boulders, through sand and along rocky rim trails.

Starting early accomplished a few goals. Not only did we get to see the gorgeous morning sky, being out early kept us safe. Temperatures can easily rise over 100 degrees by lunchtime and our goal typically was to be back in the car and doing something else by then. I’m a fair complected person but with an early start, a lot of sunscreen and a lot of water, I managed to come home with no burns and no heat stroke!

My pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of this place but I hope you enjoy them anyway.

An aside – I love to hike but abandoned traditional hiking boots years ago. They feel too heavy and bulky for me. Instead, I opt for New Balance trail runners. They feel like a tennis shoe but have great treads that took me everywhere I wanted to go (and a few places I didn’t want to go) out there. I also carried a small day pack with supplies including a couple of extra insulated water bottles. Don’t bother with plain plastic. Your water will be boiling in no time.