exploring lower antelope canyon in page, arizona

Hey guys! Life has been extremely busy for me with all of the traveling I have been doing, but I am finally home for a while (until other adventures pop up)! I decided that I would write about my most recent trip to Arizona and break up all of the things that I saw there since we were alllllll over Arizona. It was pretty amazing. So to start, I figured we could take a look at Lower Antelope Canyon!

The slot canyon is located a little outside Page, Arizona. There is also an Upper Antelope Canyon, though the two are not connected. Both canyons are located on Navajo land so you must have a guide to go explore. I was kinda bummed about having to book a tour because I really don’t like touristy things, but for this it was worth it! Mitch booked an afternoon tour for us with a company called Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours and it was a little over $38 per person to be down in the canyon for an hour. A little disclaimer: if you are driving to Page from Phoenix, you will go through an area that is in MDT instead of MST which will confuse your GPS and claim that you will be late for your tour. Have no fear! The time zone is in fact MST in Page and you will be just fine!

We arrived 30 minutes early for our tour and were separated into small groups and paired with a guide. Our guide’s name was Orin and he was great! He was friendly and helped change settings on phones and cameras to have the pictures turn out just right. We started our walk down to the stairs that take everyone to the entrance of the canyon and it was hard to imagine what we were going to see. The top of the canyon looked like this and if you weren’t paying attention, you would walk right past it!

 Pretty decieving, isn't it?
Pretty decieving, isn’t it?

We waited our turn at the top of the stairs as other groups went down to the canyon floor. Just looking around at the red rock that was surrounding us. Once we were told it was time to go, the stairs took us down about 115 feet and were steep! The bottom of the canyon was sandy and every corner we went around, provided beautiful views. Take a look!

The total distance for the tour was a little over a mile and every inch was wonderful. I am always so amazed by the art of nature and the way beautiful places like this are created. That water pouring through the canyon created all of the ridges and curves. So neat!

Since we were on the final tour of the day, we were able to spend about an hour and fifteen minutes exploring and taking awesome pictures. Everyone seemed to enjoy it! I know I did!

 We even managed to get a group picture!
We even managed to get a group picture!

This was a perfect start to our Arizona adventure. It was an easy, neat place to visit and set the tone for the entire trip! Have you been to Antelope Canyon? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

a morning in grindelwald, switzerland

I am so excited to share the first portion of my Switzerland trip with you! It has taken a while to recover from the jetlag and a mini vacation that I went on to Texas (a post will come up about that too!) but I have finally found time to write about one of the places I visited during my stay. So let’s go!

All of my travel took place over the weekends. I would wake up early, grab an espresso, and hop on a train to my destination! I had decided to go to Grindelwald because it looked like a beautiful mountain town. I am completely enamored with mountains and Grindelwald did not disappoint! Once getting off of the train, I was greeted by mountains.

The town was stunning! As I continued to walk past the train station, I could not believe that places like this exist. I had only been to a couple other mountain towns like this in my life and it was so picturesque. Eiger towered beautifully over the houses and shops. In a matter of minutes, I was so pleased with my decision to come!

I had decided that I would ride a cable car up to First to get a better view of the valley and the surrounding mountains. Super touristy, I know, but I had to take every chance I could to be in the mountains. I miss them dearly in Ohio! I arrived at the cable car station to find that it was closed so I decided to find a place to sit down and have breakfast.

I found a little restaurant called Alte Post that was cute and cozy so I decided to give it a try. I ordered a salad and espresso for breakfast and just chilled. I enjoyed how quiet the restaurant was. It was Sunday after all and barely anyone was out. This probably added to why I liked Grindelwald so much!

I finished breakfast and head back to the station. I bought my round trip ticket and I was on my way! The ride was probably 15 minutes in total and was so worth it, even though I was a little scared in the beginning. The view was so nice. I loved being able to relax and just soak it all in.

Once I made it up to First, I couldn’t stop smiling! Just look at the view!

Even though it was cloudy, I didn’t mind. I was just happy to be outside. Since I was up early, the cliff walk and terrace were not crowded. Such a huge bonus!

The cliff walk was also a tad scary! I wasn’t a huge fan of being able to see through the metal grating on the walkway but reminded myself that my mantra for this year is to get out of my comfort zone. I think this fit the bill!

The pictures really don’t serve justice to the beauty of First. I wanted to sit there all day! I even made some friends and we shared some travel stories. I love meeting people while adventuring! After taking some pictures and wandering around a bit more, I decided to head down. I had plans to go to another town the same day and I didn’t want to get there too late!

When riding the cable car down, I reminded myself to live fully in the moment and take in everything. Even though I was alone, it is still easy to get caught up in rushing to the next thing. I think this really made my trip to First very memorable. The last thing on my list for Grindelwald was to visit a gorge that was right outside the town. It is called Gletscherschlucht and a walkway was built into the side of the gorge, allowing people to pass through. It looked incredibly neat! However, when I arrived it was closed for the season due to repairs and would re-open in May. Oh well! It was still pretty from the little bit that I could see!

I had a small snack at the entrance of the gorge and then meandered back to the train station. I laughed a lot as I walked back because I was still in awe of the beauty of Grindelwald. I just could not believe that places like this exist, let alone that I get to see them. I reflected on my life and how lucky I felt (and still feel) and thanked my adventurous spirit for driving me to explore.

If you have any questions about my trip, feel free to reach out! I would be happy to answer any questions! Also, look out for a new post about Lauterbrunnen coming soon!

yosemite part 3: cathedral lakes

The stories all start the same for hiking, as in, Mitch and I wake up early to be the first ones on the trail. Gotta beat the crowds, people! Really though. We parked on the shoulder of Tioga Road across from the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead. As Mitch was packing up the bear canister, I of course was observing the clouds and sunrise across Tuolumne Meadows. If you don’t know me, I deeply love clouds. I could watch them all day.

 Ugh. Pictures can't fully capture the beauty of this sunrise.
Ugh. Pictures can’t fully capture the beauty of this sunrise.

Since we chatted about clouds, we can now go back to the hiking story. We popped our bear canister in a food locker and we were on our way! We were still the only ones at the trailhead and I was pretty happy about that!

We started our ascent up the trail. Surrounded by lodgepole pines and mountain hemlock, we were shaded the majority of the hike. Everything was lush and beautiful. As we took our time hiking, we soaked in the silence of the woods and the clean air. Nothing is like mountain air. I wish I could bottle it up and take it home with me each time I leave moutains but that is another story. The switchbacks weren’t as bad as the previous hike but we could still feel a slight burning in our quads. We would stop occasionally to take a look at how far we had come, really admiring the elevation.

The entire hike to the split in the trail for the upper and lower lakes, we only saw a couple of backpackers. It is always fun to see where they are going and how long they have been out. Some of them had been out for over a week just hanging out in the wilderness! So amazing! Be friendly to fellow hikers, it is always fun to learn from them (if they are chatty of course)! At the split, we thought we were heading for the upper lake when we actually were on our way to the lower lake. The lower lake of course did not disappoint! The trail crossed a river, a rock fall area, and eventually made its way to a lush clearing.

A river wound its way through the meadow, making the ground soft and mushy (bring it on mud!). We had a good time going off trail and just hoping across the channels to make it to the lower lake.

The lower lake was so cool. It was essentially nestled in a big granite bowl and the granite happened to make the perfect place to rest and snack. Mitch and I reclined on the rock, watching the clouds roll by and listening to the water gently lap the granite shore. The amount of contentment that washed over me while we sat there was enormous and even writing this several months later, I can still feel how calm and happy I felt in that moment. The sun on my face. The gentle breeze. The wispy clouds. So so amazing.

After relaxing on the shore for a while, we decided to head to the upper lake. We backtracked along the trail and eventually made it to the spot where we were supposed to turn initially. Though going to the lower lake first was certainly the best in my opinion.

The upper lake was just as beautiful, presenting awesome views of Cathedral Peak. I spotted a rock that went out a little bit into the lake and decided that we had to go there. It was the perfect spot to dip our feet into the crystal clear water. But don’t be fooled. Just because it was sunny doesn’t mean the water was warm because it most certainly was chilly! It was totally worth it though because now we can say we put our feet in an alpine lake (later on this trip, Mitch jumped into one at 10,300′ which was way cooler than me just dipping my feet in).

We hung out for a bit just admiring the views and chatting with fellow hikers. Since it was getting close to the afternoon, we decided to head back down to the car. At this point, the trail was pretty crowded and noisy. It was nice to enjoy our morning solitude while it lasted.

Overall, the hike was pretty relaxing, totaling out to be around eight miles. It had to be an easy hiking day since we were moving to Yosemite Village tonight and hiking Half Dome the following morning. We were both pretty excited to head to YV because there were showers! It had been a couple days since we were clean! We really take for granted how nice showers are since we have them everyday. Go a couple days without one and it is one of the most amazing experiences. Try it. Clean has a whole new meaning.

 Half Dome Village sign feat. a clean Katie!
Half Dome Village sign feat. a clean Katie!

So. Half Dome Village is an interesting place. There’s camping, yurts, a lodge, a dining hall, a gift shop, and several other attractions in Yosemite Valley. We both thought it was an odd spectacle in the middle of the NP. The only reason we wanted to stay here was to be as close as possible to the Half Dome trailhead (other than getting the shower code). If you like peace and quiet, I would recommend that you don’t stay here since it was incredibly busy and everything was jammed together. Though we did see some very funny people there (imagine couples rolling massive suitcases through wood chips to get to their “fancy” yurt). On another note, it was very smokey down in the valley compared to our previous camping spot. You can see the smoke in the picture above. The wildfire smoke just settled here, especially if it wasn’t windy. We checked into our yurt and laughed since it was so expensive for essentially a tarp on top of a wooden frame.

 Inside our yurt.
Inside our yurt.

We organized our belongings, packed our bags for tomorrow, ate dinner, and showered. It was going to be an early night since we were waking up 3:30 AM to hike the first half of Half Dome in the dark. Cheerful from happy bellies, we hit the hay to prepare for our early morning.

our morning at brewnuts

You guys. This past Sunday was National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and of course Mitch and I participated! If you did not already know, I absolutely love ice cream and can really eat it at any time. There’s no limit on ice cream consumption. Also, if I am traveling, I love to try out local ice cream shops. So fun! There’s only a couple of ice cream shops in Cleveland that we have yet to try.

I have been craving donuts for a couple months now, so I was thrilled to see that Brewnuts was having a collaboration with Mason’s Creamery to make donut ice cream sandwiches. When I say thrilled, I mean incredibly thrilled. Thrilled as in text-Mitch-in-all-caps about-how-excited-I-am-about-this-and-how-we-have-to-go.

 I love the people in the front window looking confused at me. Ha!
I love the people in the front window looking confused at me. Ha!

Since I love to be on time, we arrived at 10 and thankfully beat a huge line that filed in after us; the place was packed! We decided to each get an extra donut to try as well to sample some of their standards (double the donuts, double the fun!). I love bacon so naturally I went with maple bacon and Mitch picked peanut butter Oreo.

An ice cream station was set up in the back of the shop where the sandwiches were put together on the spot! There were two different types of ice cream, frosting, and toppings which were all delightful. I chatted cheerfully while patiently waiting for our treats.

 Love at first sight!
Love at first sight!

Everything was great. The donuts. The ice cream. The sprinkles. We are certainly going back at some point! If you are in the Cleveland area, go check them out!

I mean, how could you not want to check them out when I look so excited? Thanks again Brewnuts for a great morning!