Yesterday morning we headed to beautiful Snowbasin. The boys and I did this hike with Melly last year and we all loved it. Consequently, I was eager for us to do it again. To get there, we had to drive through the beautiful canyon. The drive through this canyon takes a bit longer as it’s one lane each way and there’s some road construction. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular ride.
Snowbasin was quite busy when we got there due to a Xterra trail race that was happening that morning. Additionally, they also had a Germanfest starting at noon. Surprisingly the top of the mountain was not crowded. The ride up the gondola was breathtaking with fall colors all around us. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, we were all able to fit into one gondola car. Goalielocks and the Mayor in that close of quarters is never a good combination.
While we went to hike to the summit, my folks walked the area near the ski lodge. The trail up to the summit is fairly easy. Albeit it didn’t feel easy on the way up. The hike starts at 8,500 feet, so it’s only a gain of just over 500 feet. It, however, felt like I hiked an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful hike up to the summit of Mount Ogden.
We spent twenty minutes at the summit taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful views of the Great Salt Lake to the west and the valley and mountains to the east. As we sat, the boys started a game of seeing who could hit the sign with the most rocks. It was a funny moment and a great way to catch our breath before heading down the mountain.
After Snowbasin we headed back to the AirBnB to enjoy our leftovers from Hibachi. Post lunch Grandma, Jake, the Mayor and I headed to Walmart to pick up packing supplies and few additional items. I was anxious to get some chapstick as my lips were killing me. The air is so dry out here that I also had buy some hand lotion.
The rest of the day we chilled at home. For dinner, I made beef tacos. I cooked up three pounds of beef and we don’t have too much meat left. We’re trying to eat at the AirBnB as much as possible since it’s cheaper and healthier. After dinner, we played the game Hot Seat, which was a ton of fun.
Yesterday was all about acclimating to the altitude and celebrating Melly and her 20th birthday. It was fun to have everyone together here in Utah to celebrate with her. We started our day with a nice pancake breakfast in her honor. In fact, we even got to test the AirBnB’s smoke alarms courtesy of the pound of bacon the Hubby cooked.
After breakfast, we headed to Kohl’s to pick up some hiking boots for the boys and a new suitcase for Melly. Goalielocks had forgotten to pack his boots, while the Mayor had outgrown his old pair. While at Kohl’s I found the perfect opal bracelet for Melly. My parents, my hubby and I, Jake and Melly, and Goalielocks and Isa all started dating in October, so I bought both girls a piece of opal jewelry for their birthday. Jake treated us to Chick-Fil-a before we headed to the mall.
We spent the afternoon chilling at the AirBnb. Before we headed to dinner, we played a rousing and endless game of Uno. Apparently, they added a shuffle hand card with the new edition. Consequently, it turned Uno into a never ending game. Nonetheless, it was super fun.
For dinner, we headed to Tokyo Station in downtown Ogden. It’s a hibachi restaurant that happens to be the only one locally that has yum yum sauce. I’m not sure how a hibachi restaurant could function without yum yum sauce. The wait was long since they don’t take reservations, but the food was worth the wait. Most of us has the filet mignon, while Goalielocks and the Mayor had the chicken and shrimp pairing.
After dinner we headed back to the AirBnB to have birthday cake and play games. I had bought a cheesecake for Melly while we were out and about. Additionally, I had some super cute candles delivered with the cake. The card game was a ton of fun although the name escapes me at the moment. This morning we’re headed over to Snow Basin on the east side of the mountains.
Utah day one was a big success despite the lack of sleep the night before. Fortunately, our flights out West were smooth sailing. Thank you Delta! Once we got into SLC, I went to get the rental car set before my parents flight landed. Luckily, the logistics we planned worked out perfectly.
I ordered pizza to be delivered to Jake’s apartment as we drove North to Ogden. Since it was around 2:00 by the time we got to Ogden, it was still too early to check into our AirBnB. Thanks to Uber Eats and good timing, our pizza got to Jake’s about a minute after we arrived. Speaking of Jake’s place, it’s absolutely perfect for him. It’s a really nice place.
After hanging out at Jake’s for a bit, we headed over to our AirBnB. The place is just over 3 miles north east of Jake’s place, which is perfect. Thankfully, the AirBnB is as perfect in person as it looked on the website. Moreover, the owners decked it out completely with everything you could need and more. I love the place!
We spent the evening at home, I had groceries delivered via Shipt. Afterwards, we headed to Smith’s to buy meats for dinner. The house has a nice gas grill, which we were more than happy to use. For dinner, we had burger, brats and Luke’s grilled potatoes. It was really nice to be able to eat outside under the stars without sweating off my weight in water.
Today is Mel’s birthday, so we’ll be celebrating her all day as we acclimate to the altitude. We’re hoping to the mountains behind us tomorrow morning before heading to Antelope Island for family pictures in the evening. Hopefully, this time we’ll actually see some Antelope on the island! Utah day one was a success. I love Utah!
I’m on my way to see my boy!!! We left the house at 4:00 am, which sucked. Needless to say, we’re all going to need naps on the flight. Our first flight is a quick jaunt to Atlanta, so I probably won’t sleep until the second flight. I am hoping that the MacDonald’s in Atlanta isn’t out if egg mcmuffins again because that was a real buzz kill last time.
This is the first time I’ve taken a long vacation since starting my new job. I have to say it was nice setting the out of office notification and knowing I won’t check email until I’m back. Thankfully, its a complete 180 from my last job where the expected you to be plugged in 24/7. Obviously, I don’t miss those days at all!! Well, I’m on my way and I’m going to enjoy watching Dumb and Dumber.
Packing for the perfect beach vacation is key to a successful tropical vacation. If you forgot certain items, you can end up in tremendous pain. Hello my sunburnt legs! Fortunately, I’ve put together a list of must have items for any successful beach vacation.
Copious amounts of waterproof sunscreen that’s at least 50 SPF.
I love Sun Bum’s products as they protect well while not causing breakouts. Plus it’s reef safe, which is super important here in Florida.
Nice beach towels as you can’t rely on the hotel or AirBnB to provide enough. We learned this lesson the hard way at Hawk’s Cay.
A nice sun hat to protect your scalp. Nothing sucks more than a severely sun burnt scalp!
A high quality cooler, like a Yeti, for a day on the boat or at the beach. Otherwise, your food and drinks will soon be warm.
I also like to bring a cooler bag as they take up less room and are the perfect option for carrying snacks.
SPF clothing is crucial to protecting your skin especially if you’re out on the water. My SPF shirt protected my upper body. Unfortunately, I didn’t have SPF pants on and my legs paid the price. Lily Pulitzer also offers a full line of SPF protection clothing.
What would a day on the boat or at the beach be without some great music. A Bluetooth speaker, like this one from Bose, is the perfect way to bring the party everywhere you go.
Snorkel gear!! There’s no better way to explore at the beach than by snorkeling.
Naturally, you’ll need something to carry all this awesomeness in and a great beach bag is exactly what you need. I bought an expensive one years ago at Atlantis, but it quickly broke. This year I bought one by Shylero for under $50 off of Amazon. Honestly, it’s amazing for the price. It even comes with a waterproof bag for your phone and wallet. You can check it out here.
Another must have is after sun lotion or aloe Vera to help heal and moisturize your skin after a day in the sun.
These are some of the key items to have as you embark on your perfect beach vacation. Some of these items are a matter of convenience, but others are crucial to protecting your health. Now that my fabulous beach vacation is over, l’m making notes of my must haves for next year’s trip. All of which are in the list above. What are your must have beach items?
*I ran 2 miles and walked a mile. It went quite well.
*Did I mention it was vacation time?
*Tonight we’re enjoying ice cream and watching the NHL draft.
*Jake was able to have a nice lunch with Jon and Brandi before they headed for Yellowstone. I’m so jealous.
*For dinner, the hubby made vodka sauce pasta.
*My favorite surprise on the underwater cams, I watch during work, is seeing an octopus. Today I watched the safari cam, which never disappoints.
*Today’s word of the day is curvaceous. After eating too much on vacation, I’m more curvaceous than I’d like.
*I took my puppies including sweetAnakin for a walk. Today he didn’t pull my arm off or anything like that. I put on his harness, so I’d have more control over him outside. Also, the flies are still here. Did I mention I hate gnats, flies, and mosquitos? I was finally able to hang the fly traps. Nobody loves flies.
Monday was our boat day in the Keys. This was the first time we rented a boat and it will not be the last. Initially, our boat day got off to a bit of a rocky start since someone blew up the engine on our boat the previous day. Fortunately, the staff at A1A Watersports was first class and upgraded our boat, threw in some fishing rods and even knocked 14 gallons off our gas charge. We ended up with a Grady dual console boat, which was super nice.
After grabbing the boat, we cruised back to the house to pick up the rest of our group. As we left the canal to head towards the Gulf, there were dolphins swimming in the canal. I was a little nervous as there were dark clouds off on the horizon and some heavy rain in the Gulf. Fortunately, we ended up having perfect weather all day. I love being on the water!
Our first trip was out to the light house and Alligator Reef for some snorkeling. It was incredibly beautiful! As we headed to the location, the seas were pretty calm. Unfortunately, the seas picked up when we dropped anchor near the reef. They started rolling in at 3-4 feet, which wasn’t great for several of our passengers. All of us, except for Captain Hubby hit the water to swim and snorkel. The water was absolutely perfect, however, we had to head back to the house due to sea sickness.
Our second trip of the day had us exploring the islands on the bay side. It was pretty hot out there with little wind, so we ended up pulling up our rods almost as soon we we had put them in. Unfortunately, there was no good way to keep our sweet Ava cool. Thankfully, we hadn’t ventured too far from the house.
Our third trip was a mix of snorkeling and fishing. We had folks fishing on one side of the boat while others swam on the other. The fish, however, were apparently avoiding both sides of our boat as we got only a few bites. Consequently, we moved under the bridge into the Atlantic to see if we could get on some fish. Sadly, not everyone was happy with this move. T was mad at the Captain for not dropping him off at the bridge pylon. Naturally, the Captain had no idea that T was wanting to be dropped off.
Since we forgot to drop him off at the pylon, he decided he would walk to it and climb up it. Of course this was a bad idea given the strength of the current where the Atlantic and Gulf water meet. Not too mention that the barnacles would cut him up as he tried to climb up into the platform. You gotta love teenagers and their ingenuity.
Afterwards, we headed into the Gulf to find the fish. After a couple false starts, the Hubby guided us to the Gopher Cut. Finally, we were on the fish! They were biting as soon as the lines hit the water. In fact, the kids started reeling in some respectable snappers. Unfortunately, the sea sickness started to kick in again as we were anchored. We pulled up anchor and headed back to the house. Thankfully, the sea sickness abated as we started moving again.
Our last trip of the day had us heading back into the open water of the Atlantic. In the afternoon, the seas were significantly calmer. We initially started fishing off the waters of Indian Key, but had no luck. Goalielocks and Captain Hubby decided to head out to a wreck 3.5 miles to the southeast. Truly, we should have started there because the fish were biting like mad. Goalielocks girlfriend put her line in the water and pulled up three snappers almost immediately, I had a similar experience. On her next cast, she pulled up another three snappers. It was awesome! Not to mention it was an absolutely gorgeous location. Next time we’ll start our day at this location.
The boat cost less than $600 for the day and it was well worth every penny. We all carried away some wonderful and funny memories from our adventures on the water. Obviously, the sea sickness sucked and we weren’t properly prepared. Next time I’ll be sure to have Dramamine on hand to help mitigate the sea sickness. Lastly, after the sun and salt water exsiccate my skin, I’m going to be covered head to toe in sunscreen and spf clothing. Long story short if you are in the Keys and considering renting a boat, do it and use A1A Watersports in Islamorada.
As an aside, I think they were so generous to us because we were kind and patient when they told us our boat had broken. In contrast, an asshole form New York pulled an attitude with the entire staff (all of whom were super nice and professional) as soon as he got there. Keep in mind, his boat was there and ready to go immediately. The staff, in my opinion, was way more patient and professional with him than I would have been.
He was still complaining when we brought the boat back. The man was charged for 28 gallons, which was the amount of gas he used. Thankfully, we came off akin to angels due to his poor behavior. In fact, we used 44 gallons of gas, but were only charged for 30. I guess it pays to be nice.
We finished our night with an adults only dinner at Morada Bay’s Pierre. It was quite the contrast to their Beach Cafe, but the food was awesome. The service at Pierre’s is was impeccable. We enjoyed an appetizer of shrimp cocktail and escargot. Both are amazing. For dinner, I had the fish du jour, which was a snapper in browned butter sauce. Lastly, we capped off the dinner with a key lime tart and creme brûlée. I love it!
If you go, check out:
A1A Water Sports and Boat Rental in Islamorada had several types of boats, jet skis, fishing equipment and snorkel gear for rent at a great price point. There service is also fantastic. It’s the perfect place to supply your boat day!
Pierre at Morada Bay. Their price point is high, but so is the quality. You will love it! I recommend the escargot, shrimp cocktail, fish du jour and creme brûlée. The views of the sunset are first rate.
Our islandadventure in Islamorada sadly came to an end yesterday after an incredible weekend in the Keys. I unplugged completely from the blog and all social media. Honestly, it was fantastic. The truth of the matter is I was far too busy having fun and enjoying the company to be bothered with technology. That is the hallmark of a good vacation.
This year we stayed at Su Casa, in Islamorada, which is a private rental I booked on AirBnB. It was absolutely perfect for our large group. We had the main house and the one bedroom apartment. The two bedroom apartment was rented out to a fantastic couple from Sarasota. Additionally, it was on a canal and had a beautiful dock. Allegedly their are crocodiles in the canal, but I wasn’t lucky enough to see one. Honestly, I can’t recommend the property highly enough. It was absolutely the perfect spot for our island adventure!
Speaking of perfect, it’s location was superb. We had quick access to the gulf and ocean from the canal, which was nice when we rented the boat. Also, it was a short walk to Robbie’s where you can feed the tarpon, engage in a number of fun water sports, shop or get a nice drink at the bar. Robbie’s parking lot is always overflowing, so it was nice that we could simply walk there.
Saturday night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Morada Bay’s Beach Side cafe. The food was wonderful and relatively cheap given the size of our group. We were initially sitting outside, but it quickly became too hot. Fortunately, they were able to accommodate us inside near the bar. I ordered the Key West pink shrimp scampi pasta, which was awesome. For my drink, I had a nice vodka cocktail with watermelons purée and an herbal note. I highly recommend trying it if you ever find yourself there.
Post dinner, we headed next door to the sports store for fishing supplies. While there, Goalielocks, his girlfriend and I checked out the docks. Unbelievably, we saw a manatee eating the remnants of fish thrown into the water after having been cleaned and filleted. As the manatee munched away the fish, three sharks (two black-tips and a Bullsharks) circled the area hoping to get some fish. Needless to say that’s the closest I ever want to be to a Bullsharks.
Sunday morning we grabbed some awesome cafe con leche from Cuban cafe on Plantation Key. We also grabbed some empanadas, pastelitos, and cachitos. After breakfast we headed south to go fishing off a bridge. Last year, we had little success fishing from the bridge, so we were all skeptical. Fortunately, this year the bridge fishing delivered. All of us were on the fish almost immediately. We caught several pork fish, wrasses, and some snappers. After an hour or two, we headed back to the house to get ready for lunch.
Sunday afternoon Hanh and I took the kids on a kayak trip through the mangroves. The Mayor and I shared a double kayak, which worked well. Truly, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous, but of course the kids thought it was boring since we saw no wildlife. I had hoped to see a manatee or a crocodile, but I still enjoyed the beauty of the mangroves even though I didn’t see many animals.
Sunday nights we had an early dinner/late lunch at the house instead of eating out. While we were on the kayak trip, the Hubby and John cooked us dinner. After all, we had worked up an appetite on our kayak trip, so it was perfect timing on their part. The rest of the evening we spent chilling under the tiki hut watching the sunset and hoping to spy a croc. Meanwhile, the kids continued to fish from the dock. Incredibly, Goalielocks caught a nurse shark that evening.
If you go on your own island adventure in Islamorada, be sure to check out:
Robbie’s of Islamorada: it’s well worth the hassle of the parking lot, but being able to walk there was priceless. There is so much to do here and yes you should feed the tarpon.
Su Casa vacation rentals offered a superior vacation experience in Islamorada. Last year, we stayed at Hawk’s Cay, which wasn’t a great stay.
Mrs. G’s, located on Plantation Key, was our go to spot in the Keys for our morning coffee. It’s also an ice cream place, but we only went for the coffee and breakfast pastries.
Morado Bay has a casual option in the Beach Cafe and a formal option with Pierre’s on the same beautiful property.
All of Florida is tracking Elsa as she makes her way into the Caribbean. Right now we’re out of the cone of uncertainty, but that only means the center of the storm isn’t going to track over our area. Regardless of where Elsa ends up, our weather will suck Monday and Tuesday. Naturally, the poor weather falls on a Monday we all have off. Obviously, Elsa’s timing sucks.
In between Tracking Elsa updates, I worked for a bit this morning. Unsurprisingly, work was dead. Fortunately, we got to quit early due to the lack of volume. After work, I managed to go for a two-mile run. I didn’t feel like running in the morning, so opted for a post-lunch run. It went well, but my knee/it band was quite stiff at the end.
While I was running and couch surfing, Hubby took the Mayor to practice driving. The Mayor loves to drive and asks several times a day to practice. This is a huge contrast to his older brothers, who never wanted to drive. He’s a good driver and will be more than ready for his license when he turns sixteen. Meanwhile, Goalielocks recuperated from his early morning hockey practice with a nice nap.
After the Hubby finished washing the cars, took a shower, and came out wearing a shirt Jake and I bought him in Helsinki. It’s the first time he’s worn the shirt since we bought it. Undeniably, it brought back great memories of our travels in Finland. One night Jake and I found ourselves, perusing through Stockmann’s Department store off the Esplanade. It’s an incredible store! Jake and I try to buy a shirt every place we go as a unique, but practical souvenir. He bought something at Stockmann’s and I bought a shirt from Marimekko. I can’t wait until we can travel again!!!
Here’s a list of our day’s activities:
*I read Demons, by Dostoevsky. I am really enjoying this book so far.
*I ran 2 miles and walked a mile and it felt great!
* I made a new roast recipe in the Instant Pot tonight. I didn’t super love the recipe, but the roast was extremely tender and tasty. Truly, I was pleasantly surprised as the roast wasn’t completely defrosted when I put it in the pot. Now that I know the Instapot does a great job on frozen meat, I won’t be so frantic if I forget to defrost something.
*The family and I have been binge-watching Thirty Rock. It is such a good show.
*I spent my day with the puppies. Maya is feeling great and is super playful with her siblings. We are all relieved and grateful that she rebounded from her illness.
*I’m off to the long weekend and tracking Elsa as she looks to disrupt my long weekend.
*Today’s word of the day is venation. It has to do with insect veins, which is really more than I ever wanted to know about that.
*I took my puppies including sweetAnakin for a walk. Did I mention I hate gnats, flies, and mosquitos?
Yep, you read that right I was left on the mountain. It all happened at the Farmington Creek Trail just south of Layton. I picked this trail for our Thursday hike because it features: a car cemetery, two waterfalls (including the one you could rappel down to), and a moderate degree of difficulty. Admittedly, I am not fast on my ascent up the trails. Due to the Graves disease, I’m mindful of my maintaining my heart rate and regulating my body temperature. This, of course, is not always easy when hiking. Consequently, my ascent was slow, measured, and littered with water breaks.
On the flip side, the hike for my boys was quite easy. Goalielocks soon pulled away from both the Mayor and me as he ran up the trail. I was jealous at the ease with which he tackled the mountain. In protest, the Mayor sped ahead on his own. Fortunately, when the Mayor got to the first waterfall, he waited for me. On the other hand, I couldn’t find Goalielocks. The challenge became the fork in the trail. Unfortunately, the park service hadn’t clearly marked the trail. Fortuantely, we were able to ask local hikes which way to go. Meanwhile, we had no idea which way Goalielocks had gone at the fork.
I decided to follow the trail to the second waterfall hoping we’d find Goalielocks on the trail. Undeniably, I was nervous that nobody had seen him. At this point, we were so deep into the canyon that we didn’t have cell service. As we continued the trail, the Mayor again took off down the path. Meanwhile, I vacillated between anger, frustration, and awe. As I rounded the bend, I saw a vintage car overtaken by the forest with bullet holes all over. It was quite picturesque. At this point, the Mayor came back to me expressed his discontent with the hike, and headed back to the car.
Now they really annoyed me. Yet, I was determined to see the waterfall. I continued down the path looking for the ropes that would take me down to the base of the waterfall. As I searched the area, I finally got a call from Goalielocks who was at the car waiting. Eventually, I found the ropes that could take me down to the waterfall. However, with unreliable cellphone service and nobody near me, I wasn’t willing to risk a fall or injury by rappelling down to the waterfall. Consequently, I started making my way back to the car where both boys were impatiently waiting for me.
Since I knew they were safe at the car, I was in no hurry to finish my hike. The canyon and trail provided beautiful vista after beautiful vista that I wanted to take it all in. Also, the ascent wore me out as it was a vigorous hike. When I made it back to the first waterfall, I took a seat on a large boulder near the side of the stream and relaxed for a bit. In this spot, the mountain stream and shade cooled the air. It was a magical spot to rest and recover before tackling the sunny part of the descent to the car.
While I was sitting at the waterfall, the Mayor made his way back up the trail in search of water. I had brought my backpack, filled with water bottles and oranges to keep us nourished throughout and after the hike. However, since I was the only one willing to carry it, all of the supplies were with me. Consequently, when he got thirsty he had no choice, but to seek me out. Naturally, he received quite a tongue lashing from me once we met again on the mountain. Soon after we met up with Goalielocks, who had come up the trail looking for me out of concern it was taking too long. Of course, I had been almost four miles deep into the trail, so it wasn’t going to be a quick return.
Goalielocks took a left at the first waterfall, which took him on a significantly shorter trail. Eventually, both of the trails meet up near the second waterfall. However, his trail was overgrown as it approached the waterfall trail. Goalielocks headed back the way he came since he wasn’t sure where the trail led. The hillside where he hiked was filled with vintage cars, known as the car cemetery. On our descent, I learned that he had told his brother where he was going. Unfortunately, the Mayor neglected to tell me this. I was super annoyed with the Mayor at this point. I want to rappel down to the waterfall and I couldn’t because I was alone. Naturally, we spoke at length, on our way back to the Airbnb, about the importance of staying together during hikes.
Despite all the drama on the mountain, this was definitely one of my favorite hikes. The trail affords incredible views of the Great Salt Lake, the valley, the mountains and the canyon. Everywhere you looked, it was absolutely beautiful. Moreover, it was an incredibly peaceful hike as the trail was not crowded. I look forward to hiking this trail again with Jake and my hubby. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some fall colors on the hike and even have the chance to rappel down to the waterfall.
Here’s a list of our day’s activities:
*I read The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. This is an interesting book.
I’m one happy mama this morning. Yesterday I finally got to see my son for the first time since BMT graduation in February. Our flights were uneventful and quick. Needless to say, they couldn’t end quickly enough. The anticipation of seeing my boys reunited was killing me.
The reunion took place at Target since we don’t have security passes. It was an amazing and happy as I had envisioned. My boy looks great albeit quite grown up. Seeing them together made we one happy mama. Also, it was mighty convenient since we could pick up some supplies before heading to our AirBnB.
The weather was super hot with an ambient air temperature of 103 degrees. Fortunately, there is no humidity here at all. Consequently, it does not feel as miserable as South Florida. In fact, we got out of dodge just as a hurricane is bearing down on our coast.
Our AirBnB is on the Eastern side of the mountains in a small neighborhood. It’s a basement apartment in a single family home. The place is gorgeous and super nice, however, it was a bit hot last night. Nonetheless, it will serve as a perfect jumping off point for our Utah adventure.
Here’s a list of our day’s activities:
*I read The Song of the Lark, by Willa Cather
*We went to Scrambled for breakfast near the AFB. It was super yummy.
*We visited the AFB and shopped the BX before heading back to his dorm to hang pictures.
*Morning and afternoon meditation
*We’re going to go hiking this afternoon
*Today I wonder if anyone ever watched the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
*Today my hubby sent me the best picture of my sweetAnakin.
*We are watching the hurricane from a distance.
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