Hoodoo you love

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No this post is not about the musician George Thorogood, although I do like his song “Who do you love“.

This post is all about Bryce Canyon National park with those strange but awesome formations, the hoodoos.

What are hoodoos?  For those who have never witnessed them in person, they are a sight to see.  Very unique formations.   As the National Park Service website describes them; “Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands”.  In the northern part of the park the hoodoos are the most abundant of any place in the world.
For more information on hoodoos click on this link from the National Park Service 

Many people have asked, what was your favorite of the trip?  I always answer, I could not pick one place but there are ones that stand out.  Bryce Canyon is one such place for many reasons.

*Note: This list is in no particular order

1.  The campgrounds
They rank number one on my list of best campgrounds on our 6 week long trip.  Each site was spacious.  The bathrooms were very modern including energy-saving lights. Each of the restroom buildings included a small wash room with a double sink and a counter to dry dishes.  This may not seem like a big deal but when you are tent camping this little perk is invaluable.  Dish time was much easier at Bryce because of this detail.

At Bryce the campgrounds usually fill up by early afternoon during the summer months. We left Moab by 8:30 a.m. to make it to Bryce before all of the sites were taken.  When we arrived at 1 pm only 6 remained.  In less than an hour the remaining sites were full.

July 08, 2014_Bryce Canyon

Our home for 4 nights.  Plenty of space to spread out and lots of trees to provide shade throughout the day.July 08, 2014_Bryce Canyon

July 07, 2014_Bryce Canyon

This guy and several others would scurry about our campsite looking for food left behind. They were quite the opportunistic little fellows.

2.  The General store
This was the most well equipped general store that we found on our trip.  They had a little of everything you could need while camping in Bryce.  As a matter of fact we did not have to leave the park for supplies in the 4 days we were there.  Firewood, vegetables, camp supplies, snacks, and much more were all available at a very reasonable price.  To top it off they had delicious micro-brews for $1.50 a bottle.  The general store also housed nice clean showers and laundry facilities.  It felt like we were staying at a nice outdoor hotel with plenty of creature comforts.  The best part of the general store they had #3!

3. The ice cream
I know I started this post talking about Hoodoos and now I’m listing ice cream as a reason Bryce Canyon is so wonderful.  What?  The general store sold the best ice cream I have ever tasted!  Another reason I could have stayed forever.  What could make this even better?  The price.  For a $1.25 a cone you could pile the ice cream as high as you wanted.  Believe me after a long hike this was a fantastic treat along with a delicious cold beer. I joked about moving into the park, they had everything I could want.  :-)

July 10, 2014_Bryce Canyon

That’s me about to dive into my delicious ice cream.  Only one of those is mine, although I could have eaten both.  Thanks to Shane for taking this photo.

4.  The hikes
In a word, stunning.   We enjoyed the Queens Garden, Navajo Loop and the Peek-a-boo loop trails.  The beauty of Bryce can be appreciated from the top but hiking into Bryce gives you a whole new perspective as the view changes dramatically as you descend.   Hikes here are the reverse of mountain hikes.  Save your energy for the climb out.

July 08, 2014_Bryce Canyon

Triston looking back, waiting on Amanda, she is in blue.

July 08, 2014_Bryce Canyon

One of the many zigzags needed to reach the top.  Otherwise your climb out would have been a steep slope up.  Triston and Amanda are in gray to the left of this photo.

July 08, 2014_Bryce Canyon

Another perspective of the climb out.

July 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonSlot Canyons – a popular hike in Bryce

July 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

Horseback riders along the trail give a nice perspective.

July 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

As do Triston and Amanda in this shot.

July 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

Similar shot without them.  July 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

A place to hang my hat while taking a break in the shade.  This hat proved to be invaluable at keeping the sun off my face and neck, thus keeping me cooler.  July 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

5.  The night sky
Due to its location, Bryce is known for its night sky.  Sadly, we did not get the chance to fully experience this.  In the four days we were there the moon was full and the sky was overcast every evening.  However, we had a small peek at the night sky one evening and it was beautiful.

6.  Meeting a fun couple from the Netherlands
Part of travel is the joy of meeting new people from all over the US and the world.  On our last night at Bryce Canyon we had the privilege of enjoying the evening around a campfire with Leon and Sita.  Triston & his girlfriend made s’mores for them, which they had never had.  They shared their beers with us and we swapped stories about our lives. It was such an enjoyable evening spent under the stars learning about the differences in our two countries and cultures. (I am pretty sure we were the last group up).  They were early on in their spectacular 4 month trip through the US and South America.  We just happened to cross paths.   What a fun evening spent with such a great couple.  Check out their travels on their blog.

Bryce Canyon

A great shot of Leon and Sita from Shane’s phone.

7.  The hoodoos
Back to what I started this blog with.  The hoodoos are really quite amazing.  Therefore I will let the pictures do the talking.

July 08, 2014_Bryce Canyon

July 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 08, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 09, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 09, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 09, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 09, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 09, 2014_Bryce CanyonAs I recall this is referred to as Thor’s Hammer.

Bryce Canyon was an amazing place and with plenty of time to explore, it was difficult to narrow down the photos to share on this blog.  Here are a few more.

July 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

A storm approaching while on one of our hikes.  At this point my son was saying “come on mom, enough photos we need to get moving”.  :-)

July 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonNatural Bridge

July 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonThe gang clowning on a rainy day.

July 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonNotice the people at the overlook on the left hand side next to the trees.  The view from here was breathtaking.

July 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonJuly 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonTriston and Amanda on the edge.

July 10, 2014_Bryce CanyonIt seems I have very few photos of myself on my camera.  I wonder why.  Finally I am on the other side of my Nikon.  Thanks Shane for this capture.

Fond memories of this wonderful place.

Up next:  Our adventures hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon

A peek into Bryce Canyon

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Hello folks.  I had the best of intentions to write a fabulous Bryce Canyon blog post today.  Instead I had little motivation.  I slept in and once I did manage to get up I felt more like lounging on the couch and finishing a book.  It was that kind of day.  After a heavy day of editing yesterday I guess you could say I was ready for a me day.  So I will be back next week with a post full of Bryce Canyon photos and stories to share from our three-day camping excursion.  I hope you understand.  A long yoga session is calling my name at this point and I think I need to answer :-)

July 09, 2014_Bryce Canyon

“A window into Bryce Canyon”

Happy Thursday!  I promise to give Bryce Canyon the time and attention it deserves next week.

One Lovely Blog Award

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The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer or up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and to also help the new blogger reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow-blogger who chose them. This award acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with their viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines.

The guidelines for the One Lovely Blog Award are:
•Thank the person who nominated you for the award
•Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog
•Share 7 facts/or things about yourself
•Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog

Thanks to LeftatLouie for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award.  I really enjoy reading his blog posts so if you have a chance check out his blog.
Well I guess I had better get to it.  So I am to share 7 facts/or things about myself.  Hmmm…this should be interesting. Do I share regular everyday facts or a mix of funny, little known facts about myself?   Good question. I think I’ll dive right in and see what comes out on this blog post.

1.  I  am a yoga addict.  There I have said it.  I have to do yoga daily, honestly I cannot make it through a day without it.  It is my addiction :-)
2.  I love to travel and yet I have only been to two other countries not counting my own.  Yes those two would be Mexico and Canada.  (Mexico barely counts as I only went across the border to say I did, while stationed in San Diego).  Anyone willing to fund or donate to f-stopmama’s travel fund let me know. :-)
3.  Going along with #2, I was in the Navy for 4 years straight out of high school.  What an interesting experience that was.
4.  I love to eat.  Not just to eat but to eat really good food. Fresh fruits, veggies, good quality meat, cheese and milk.  Oh and the occasional handful of chips and my delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies.
5.  My job list has included fast food worker, military, accounting, lab, and now photographer.  What a mix of completely unrelated jobs.
6.  I might be borderline obsessed with Stephen King novels at the current moment.  Seriously he may have a twisted mind but his novels suck me in.  “The Shining” is one of my favorites.
7.  I live a simple life, no fancy car, house, really nothing fancy at all.  And that’s the way I like it.

Now for the nominating part.  I follow several wonderful, established bloggers so my list will break the rule a bit.  I am nominating 9.

Check them out when you have a chance:

1. http://briangaynorphotography.com/

2. http:/spatchesfromthepotomac.com/

3. http://brownvagabonder.com/

4.  http://jorgeledesma.co/the-old-fashion/

5.  http://msdeebs.wordpress.com/

6.  http://whatipic.com/

7. http://talktodiana.wordpress.com/

8. http://extradrymartini.com/

9. http://myswede.wordpress.com/

Happy Monday fellow bloggers!

Dead horses, vast canyons and a splash of Arches

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First off I should point out this post does not contain photos of dead horses.

You are safe to continue reading this post.

Dead Horse Point overlooks the Colorado River and Canyonlands, providing stunning views. However Dead Horse Point does have a rather unsettling history depending on which story you hear.  One of the stories goes something like this.  In the late 1800’s cowboys used this area as a natural corral for wild mustangs.  They would chase them to this point, corral them and then pick their favorites.  Once, for reasons unknown, those not chosen were left to die of thirst at the edge of this 2000 foot drop off with the Colorado river within sight.  Sorry for the not so happy story.  The name describes the place a little too well.  Despite this story the place is nonetheless amazing.  July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointIt seems to go on forever.
July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointNotice the bright blue bodies of water.  What are they?

July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointAnswer:  Solar Evaporation Ponds.  Click on the above photo for the larger version to read about these ponds.

July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointHere plants have adapted to living in such a dry and hot climate by growing very slowly.   The rain shower off in the distance never reached us.  Although we could see the storm clouds all day.

July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointTrees here do not boast great heights but they can be hundreds of years old.

July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014_Dead Horse Point

July 05, 2014_Dead Horse PointJuly 05, 2014 Dead Horse PointSheer drop offs at every turn.

July 05, 2014 Dead Horse PointThere is a $10 admission fee to this state park (National Park Passes do not work here).  It is well worth the fee.  The views are stunning and there are plenty of places to enjoy a picnic.  Also a short walk allows visitors a look at this beautiful place.

Canyonlands National Park is a short drive from Dead Horse Point.  However Canyonlands is vast. There are 4 distinct areas separated by miles of canyons.  Some areas are only accessible via off-road vehicles. Also note you can not drive directly to the other districts from any one district.  They are only accessible via roads outside of the park.  Island in the sky is the closest entrance to Dead Horse Point and that is where we headed for the afternoon.  Due to the higher elevation the heat was not as bad here despite the close proximity to Moab (30 miles away). As you will recall from my previous post the Moab summer heat made it next to impossible to hike during the day.  Here the slightly cooler temperatures made hiking accessible.

This was an area I wish we could have spent a week or more.  Unfortunately for us we only had the afternoon.  But the afternoon we spent here was absolutely beautiful.  It literally seems as though the canyons go on forever.  They are so expansive.  If the campgrounds had not been full we would have camped here for a few nights, allowing more time to explore.

Upon advice from one of the park rangers in the visitor’s center, we headed out for a hike to Upheaval dome.  {Note:  If you ever have a chance to visit any of the national parks in the U.S. and are not sure where to start, I highly recommend talking to one of the many park rangers.  They are a wealth of information and they are great about suggesting hikes, scenic points, etc depending on how much time you have. }

July 05, 2014_Upheaval Dome

A view of Upheaval Dome.  Very strange and interesting formation.  For a moment I felt like I was on another planet.

Geologists are unsure how it was formed but there are two theories, the salt dome theory and the impact crater theory.  If you would like to know more check out this link on the national park website.

July 05, 2014_Canyonlands

July 05, 2014_CanyonlandsA lot of the trail was along open rock with small rocks to mark the way.

July 05, 2014_CanyonlandsThe sheer vastness of this place makes you feel like the smallest ant.

July 05, 2014_CanyionlandsJuly 05, 2014_CanyonlandsJuly 05, 2014_CanyonlandsJuly 05, 2014_CanyonlandsAs we headed out we were treated to the beautiful “golden hour” of the day.  July 05, 2014_Canyonlands

I could have stayed for hours.July 05, 2014_CanyonlandsJuly 05, 2014_CanyonlandsJuly 05, 2014_CanyonlandsOne of the many off-road trails throughout Canyonlands.July 05, 2014_CanyonlandsCanyonlands left us breathless and wishing we could have stayed longer.  This is a place I will plan to visit again and with more time available to explore.

Lastly, a splash of Arches National Park. This is one park I had been waiting to explore and after driving by it the past couple of days I was ready.  But time had other plans. Again due to the summer heat we had been unable to hike during the day.  The one opportunity we had to explore was early evening.  With only a couple of hours before sunset we truly did a drive by (or in this case a drive through) of Arches.  I wish I could share a bunch of photographs of arches but sadly I only captured two and those were hurried.  Disappointing to say the least but I will be including Arches in a return trip to the area and during a different season.

July 06, 2014_Arches

Balanced rock was a great stop and where we spent most of our time.  I loved the golden glow the sun cast on the rocks at this time of day.  July 06, 2014_ArchesAnother side of balanced rock. July 06, 2014_ArchesIt’s neighboring rock formation.July 06, 2014_CanyonlandsNot the best shot but here you get a sense of how big this rock formation truly is.

July 06, 2014_ArchesJuly 06, 2014_ArchesJuly 06, 2014_ArchesJuly 06, 2014_ArchesJuly 06, 2014_ArchesThe most uninspiring shot of Delicate Arch from afar. (I’m giving myself that award) Most everyone else had hiked out to the perfect sunset spot to capture this arch in all of its beauty.  Time was not on the side of this disappointed photographer.  Despite this I really enjoyed our short time in Arches.  It was beautiful at every turn.

July 06, 2014_ArchesI actually liked this sunset photo of the path leading to the viewpoint of Delicate Arch more than the actual photo of Delicate Arch.

July 06, 2014_ArchesMy attempt to at least photograph one more arch before we left.

Yes for a park that boosts over 2000 natural arches this photographer managed to only capture two.

Arches I will be back and I will see more of you next time.

Up Next:  I was honored to receive the One Lovely Blog award from a fellow blogger, LeftWithLouie.  Check out his blog and stay tuned for my acceptance post.  Then our journey will continue on to Bryce Canyon.  Two word description, wow & wow!

Happy Thursday!

Moab in a word, HOT!

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Let me rephrase that, Moab in July is HOT!  The nickname of this city in Utah is “the Red Desert” so the heat came as no surprise.  The problem being the places we wanted to visit were too hot to hike during the day.  Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park are all located within 30 minutes of Moab.

As the sun crested over the red rock on our first morning we realized how unrelenting the sun could be when we woke up to an already hot sun at 8 am.  Despite all of the research I had done prior to the trip I failed to research other options during the day’s heat.  Lucky for us the internet was at our fingertips.  We found a popular local watering hole to spend the day cooling off.  Mill Creek delivered!  Along the hot hike out we were rewarded with a gentle creek to cool off.  When we reached the end the pay off was even bigger.  A beautiful pool of water, a plunging waterfall and a cliff side for those daring enough to jump off into the water.   It doesn’t look too high up, until….July 05, 2014_untitled_291 You get to the top and reconsider the jump.

All three of my companions did it!  I volunteered to document their jumps, therefore giving me a great excuse not to jump. :-)July 05, 2014_untitled_292

My son going for it as the first jumper.  Somebody has to go first.

With a few days in Moab we needed another cool spot to hang out during the day.  While hanging out in the cool water of Mill Creek we met a few locals who suggested the Negro Bill trail leading out to the Morning Glory natural bridge.  The trail followed a small stream out to the natural bridge.  Although it was hot out in the open, plenty of shade along the way and access to the stream kept us all cool.  July 06, 2014_Negro Bill Trail, MoabJuly 06, 2014_Morning Glory Natural Bridge, MoabThe Morning Glory Natural Bridge.

This area was much cooler, shaded by the large natural bridge.  It made for a great afternoon hangout.

July 06, 2014_Morning Glory Natural Bridge, MoabJuly 06, 2014_Morning Glory Natural Bridge, MoabWhile hanging out enjoying a snack and the cool refreshment of this place, a hiking group begin repelling down through the natural bridge.  One of the locals had mentioned guides take groups on a hike to the top of the bridge and after repelling down they take the trail back we had just taken.

July 06, 2014_Morning Glory Natural Bridge, MoabSetting up the first person.

July 06, 2014_Morning Glory Natural Bridge, MoabThis looks like way too much fun.

July 06, 2014_Morning Glory Natural Bridge, MoabAfter watching her touch down safely it was time to start our trek back.

July 06, 2014_Negro Bill Trail, MoabJuly 06, 2014_Negro Bill Trail, MoabA shot back at the Morning Glory natural bridge.  Notice how it blends in well with its surroundings.

July 06, 2014_Negro Bill Trail, MoabJuly 06, 2014_Negro Bill Trail, MoabAlthough neither of the above excursions were part of our plan while visiting Moab, both were an unexpected good time.  Sometimes the best things are those that are unplanned.  We truly enjoyed staying cool while enjoying some of the beautiful scenery Moab has to offer.

Once back at camp we were treated to this sunset over the Sand Flats recreation area.

July 04, 2014_Sand Flat RA, MoabMoab is truly a treasure and one I would highly recommend.  With plenty of local shops, restaurants and pubs there is something to do even when the temperature is in the triple digits.

Up next:  Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point & Arches

Happy Thursday!

 

Can we say remote?

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After a full day near the Colorado Springs area we were heading to our first campsite of the trip.  I had booked the site a couple of weeks before to ensure we had a spot for the evening.  It was July 3, a holiday weekend can be hard to book in the US.  Lucky for us we only needed the one night.  Everything was booked up for the 4th through the weekend.  By then we would be in Moab where campsites were easier to come by, due to the heat.

We had no idea what to expect.  All I knew was the name of the place, Eleven Mile State Park and it’s location.  An area roughly an hour west of Colorado Springs.  As we neared the park we joked that the campground may not even exist or it may be in someone’s back yard.  It’s location was quite remote.  Eleven Mile SPAfter checking in at the office we drove the length of the lake on one side.  Yes you guessed it, 11 miles long.  Then up and around to one of many remote campgrounds.  All told it took almost 30 minutes just to drive to our site from the main office, where the showers, modern restrooms and firewood were located.  The roads here are partially paved, gravel and some dirt.  Free roaming cattle add to the remoteness of this area.  It was in a word, stunning!

Eleven Mile SP~The view from our campsite upon the hill~

Campsite at Eleven Mile SP~Plenty of space to spread out~

Eleven Mile SP~Another spectacular view from our campsite.~

Without knowing what to expect, this place more than delivered.  A beautiful lake side campsite with mountains as our backdrop, this was a perfect first campsite of the trip. At $16 a night for a non-electric campsite the price could not be beat.  Seriously with this view and remote location I would have gladly paid more.

Eleven Mile SP~This beautiful blue water gave the evening & early morning a slight chill with the wind blowing off the lake.~

Eleven Mile SPI spent the next morning snapping pictures of this beautiful local.  My excitement of being out west would not allow me to sleep in.  There was too much beauty to sleep the day away.

Eleven Mile SP~Early morning stroll along the lake path.~

Eleven Mile SP~A nice bonus to being up early, hot air balloons launched on the other side.~

If you ever find yourself around the Colorado Springs area, looking for a campground, this is the place to go.  Bring supplies, a warm blanket/clothing, firewood and your favorite bottle of wine.  Set up camp and then sit back and relax.  In case you forgot anything there is a small store just before you get to the park.  They were very reasonably priced.  Coin operated showers are available for those tent camping.  However if you stay on the opposite side like we did your shower will entail a 20-30 minute drive one way.  Well worth it for the space to spread out, the night sky to enjoy and the sheer raw beauty of this place.

Up next:  Moab, UT

July 04, 2014_Colorado Mountains

~July 4th drive over to Moab.  This was just one of many views we had on our drive over.  Can we stay forever?  :-) ~

Happy Thursday!  See you next week.

1st up Colorado!

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After an 18 hour drive through Illinois, Missouri and the longest state ever, Kansas, we arrived in Colorado Springs.  As we all poured ourselves into bed with exhaustion the mountains of Colorado awaited us only a few short miles away.   From our breakfast spot the next morning we were greeted by a beautiful mountain peak.  We had arrived!   Now it seemed real and we could not wait to explore .

First on the agenda was Garden of the Gods.  We visited at high noon so the lighting was not ideal for photography.   But I reminded myself this trip was not just about photography but also experiencing this beautiful part of the country.

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is easily accessible with a paved path throughout.  Of course there are spots to climb over rocks and go off trail for those who like to explore.

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

July 03, 2014_Garden of the GodsHowever, if you are interested in rock climbing, a permit is required.  There are signs posted throughout stating a fine will be imposed if you are caught beyond a certain point without a permit. My dare-devil son ventured a little past the signs here and there despite the warnings.  Note to self, rules will be broken when you bring along an 18-year-old :-)  Lucky for him he was not caught by park officials.

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

~ Triston needing some assistance getting back down from this particular spot :-)

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

~Beautiful red rock jutting out of the surrounding landscape

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

~While we were visiting, an art class was enjoying some outdoor instruction.  This is my kind of classroom!

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

July 03, 2014_Garden of the Gods

~Off in the distance our next stop, Pike’s Peak.

Garden of the Gods was beautiful but it was a warm up for what awaited us at the top of Pike’s Peak. The drive to the top is 19 miles long and the views are incredible. In many places I leaned away from my passenger side window. The drop offs on my side were just too close for comfort.

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~Notice the curvy roads, it is almost snake like as you make the ascent

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~A few of the many views on the way up

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~Triston & Amanda enjoying a stretch and the view as we continue on to the summit

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~Almost there

Once we reached the top and stepped out of our CRV we were all greeted with an almost euphoric feeling. Now I know what they mean when they say Rocky Mountain high. The elevation change was noticeable, with thinner air it took more effort than normal to simply walk and climb over rocks. We spent the afternoon on top of that beautiful mountain peak exploring and taking in the views.July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~We made it!  Pictured above myself & Shane in our favorite yoga pose.  Below Triston & Amanda showing of their muscles.

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

July 03, 2014_Pike's PeakUp here snow stays year round and there is a noticeable difference in temperature from the bottom.  Bring a jacket even in July, you may need it. July 03, 2014_Pike's PeakAnother option to reach the summit is via the railway. Since we did not go that route I cannot comment on it but it looked like fun.

July 03, 2014_Pike's PeakJuly 03, 2014_Pike's PeakThe cost of $40 per car (up to 5 passengers) was well worth it. Again the drive and the views were unbeatable. Another thing to note many daring cyclists bike to the top and back down so be aware of this if you go and share the road.

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~Overlooking Colorado Springs

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~More breathtaking views from the top.  We could have stayed here all day!

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

July 03, 2014_Pike's Peak

~A storm approaching as we started our descent

July 03, 2014_Pike's PeakWe stopped at this lake on the way down (the name of which escapes me).  I was the only one who got out to take photos, everyone else was ready for a nap.  Needless to say our first day felt like several days, we were all tired from Day 1 of exploring!

Up next our very secluded first campground of the trip. Seriously beautiful and out away from everything. See you next week.

Overview of the Great Out West Adventure

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As I sit here writing this blog post from my backyard, my thoughts return to the absolute beauty we had the pleasure to experience this summer.  I miss being on the road.  Everyday was a new adventure   However, on the other hand, I simply adore my new lifestyle.  Taking the plunge into self-employment has felt empowering and oh so freeing.  One of the things I love most is having complete freedom to decide how to use my time.  This allowed us to take this tremendous trip over the summer.  Simply, I cannot think of a better way to have spent the summer.

Over the next several blog posts I wish to share a glimpse into our trip, along with tips and of course lots of photographs. Photographs are at the heart of this blog and my passion in life.   I hope you enjoy as much as I enjoy sharing.

Before diving right in I would like to take a moment to give you a short back story.  If you have been a long time follower feel free to skip this paragraph.
The quick story is this. About two years ago I decided to come up with a plan to get out of my lab job and into full-time photography. Through a lot of patience, diligence and meticulous planning I was able to accomplish this goal this past May. I paid my debt off, starting saving money & vacation time at work and during my off time I begin working on my business. At times I would lose motivation but I kept at it and finally on May 29, 2014, I left the lab behind and struck out on my own.

Was it scary? Of course! Was it worth it? Absolutely!

Today, only a few short months later, I am healthier, less stressed,and much happier. I eat better, practice yoga everyday, sleep soundly, cook at home daily, eat out less, and spend a lot less money. Money has become unimportant to me. I recognize I need some to live but I DO NOT need much. Today I am less rich in terms of money but exponentially more rich in time. To me that is the most valuable commodity we have at our disposal.

So where does the trip fit into all of this? As part of my strategy in leaving the lab I also put aside the money to make this trip possible. After all, part of reason for the lifestyle change was to travel more. At most jobs (in the US) you earn a finite amount of vacation days. For me this was not the problem, instead my issue was the amount of time I wanted to take at once. Regardless of my vacation balance my lab job only allowed me to take x amount per year and x amount at one time. In my opinion if I work hard and earn the time I should be able to take it as I see fit.  I knew we would need at least a month for this trip to the western United States. So this trip became part of my plans for exiting.

What did I envision for this trip?

The trip originally started as a high school graduation gift to my son and it morphed from there. The original plan included a huge loop from Indianapolis to Seattle to San Diego and back to Indianapolis with many stops throughout. (As a side note, my son was born in San Diego and we had not been back in 14 years) After doing some research I realized a month would not be enough time for this trip.  We decided to do the west coast part of the trip at a later date.  However, other circumstances entered the picture and once again the trip morphed again. In the end my son and his girlfriend went along for the first two weeks of the trip. Shane and I, having more time at our disposal, decided to extend the total length of the trip to about 6 weeks and included most of the west coast.

The final trip remained close to the original plan minus San Diego. San Francisco was as far south as we went in California. It was an adventure we will never forget. We both came back enriched and truly new people.

Welcome to Shamy’s great adventure out west! (As another side note, Shane & I have inherited the nickname Shamy from all of our friends and I will use it throughout this blog)

As an introductory post I wanted to give you an overview of the trip through photographs.

First, here is the quick list of the states covered: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa.

And now onto the good stuff, the photographs!

July 03, 2014 Pike's Peak

 

A cyclist (he is the tiny speck at the top of the hill) walks his bike after almost 19 miles of an uphill battle at Pike’s Peak, Colorado.

July 05, 2014_ Dead Horse Point

A brave photographer stands on the edge to snap a great shot of Dead Horse Point, Utah.

July 09, Bryce Canyon

Shane admires the view on the other side of this rock passage at Bryce Canyon, Utah.

July 14, 2014_Grand CanyonPeople admire the sunset over the Grand Canyon from a North Rim viewpoint (they are located in the lower right hand corner), Arizona

July 17, 2014_Hoover DamWhat an amazing engineering marvel!  The Hoover Dam, located on the state lines of Arizona and Nevada.  Only the top third of the dam is pictured here.

 

July 20, 2014_YosemiteOne of the many beautiful views of Yosemite, California.  This particular viewpoint is from the top of Lembert Dome.

July 26, 2014_California CoastA beautiful day along the California coast near Ft. Bragg.

July 27, 2014_Oregon CoastSunset along the Oregon Coast.

July 30, 2014_Mt. RainierWildflowers in bloom with Mt. Rainier in the background, Washington.

July 31, 2014 SeattleFresh seafood for sale in Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, Washington.  (Looks like someone is reaching for their favorite fish)

August 04, 2014_Mt. BakerThe view from Mt. Baker, Washington.  Lots of snow still remained in late July along with crystal clear streams.

August 09, 2014 Glacier National ParkA beautiful, relaxing view from Lake McDonald.  The largest lake in Glacier National Park, Montana.

August 15, 2014_Devils TowerOne of the many sides of Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.

August 15, 2014_Buffalo traffic Buffalo traffic jam in Custer State Park, South Dakota.  As you can see this particular buffalo was in no hurry :-)

August 15, 2014_Mt. RushmoreGeorge Washington with Thomas Jefferson in the background at Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota.

August 16, 2014_The BadlandsThe beautiful and varied colors of The Badlands, South Dakota.

This is a quick snapshot of the many places we visited.  There will be many more photos to come over the coming weeks.  

 

 

After 7,591 miles we are home!

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We are back from our travels to the great American West.  What an adventure it was!

Here are a few stats from our trip:

7,591 miles traveled via Honda CRV
15 states covered
11 National Parks visited
6 weeks and 4 days on the road
39 days tent camping
7 nights spent in a hotel/friends’ home
4000 + photos taken 
 

All of this equals memories to last a lifetime and two people not wanting to return home.

Sadly this particular post does not include a single picture or story from our trip but merely a preview of things to come.

Now that I am a self-employed photographer, this blog will get the love and attention it has been missing.  So starting next week I will be posting about our trip.  Expect to see lots of pictures and hear lots of stories of our adventures.  There will be top 10’s, best of list, tips and tricks we learned long the way and much more.

Watch over the coming weeks as fstopmama’s blog undergoes a transformation.  Originally I had planned to start an additional blog that would chronicle our lifestyle change and include our travel that would accompany that change.  But after some thought I have decided to combine the two into this blog.  I hope you enjoy all of the new content.

Smiles,

~fstopmama~

A quick post from the road

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Shamy is enjoying the great American West!  It is true, everything is bigger out here.  We have enjoyed the varied landscapes so far with many more to come. During our first two weeks we have enjoyed Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.  Next up California, Oregon and Washington. 

Here are a few quickly edited photos.  Many more to come when we return from our travels.

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The four of us on top of Pike’s Peak.

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Our very remote campsite in Colorado at Eleven Mile State Park.

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My work station on the road.  Not a bad office!

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Shamy heading through Colorado.

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Beautiful view from Dead Horse Point.

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Canyonlands National Park

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The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon

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Our refreshing oasis down in the Grand Canyon. Time for lunch!

Looking forward to sharing more!

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