7.20.2017

Hiking Upper Antelope Canyon - Photo Tour


My summer was pretty packed and my first adventure was a trip to Lake Powell on a houseboat that a friend had organized. Lake Powell is in Utah and Arizona. T and I got there a day early to go hike the Antelope Slot Canyon.  A co-worker had recommended the “photo tour” and we went with Chief Tsosie Tours.  The photo tour was limited to six people and you needed to bring a tripod for the best photos because we were going to the upper Antelope Canyon to get the “light beams”.  It turns out that only photo tours are allowed to bring tripods into Antelope Canyon.


There are two types of tours in Antelope Canyon and two sections of Antelope Canyon where there are tours, upper and lower Antelope Canyon.  The canyon is on a Navajo Reservation so you have to go with one of the five tour companies and have a guide.  The companies truck you in (in the back of a 4X4 truck) over about a mile of very dirty 4X4 terrain.  The photo tour was in an air conditioned SUV and the guide (George) told us you didn’t want dirt to get in your camera so that was why the photo tour got an air conditioned SUV.

That reminds me, the day before our tour I found this video on YouTube about the 5 important tips for Antelope Canyon and it was pretty good.  The guy had gone on the photo tour and his tips were good. One thing he mentioned was to bring a scarf to cover your face as it can get really dusty in the canyon.


There were six people on our tour and our tour guide George was excellent when it came to timing the light beams perfectly.  There were lots of people in the canyon but the photo tours are the only ones who could have tripods and the only ones who could stop tours to take photos.  The rule was that you could only stop for 2 minutes so George (the other guides called him “Photo George”) would get everyone set up and then clear the space and start the timer to shoot.  He was the only guide that was not Navajo, but the Navajo guides seemed to like him because if their group was behind us they then got good photos too.  


One thing about the photo tour is that you don’t really learn anything about the canyon. Our friends had taken a different tour of Lower Antelope Canyon and learned about different names of places in the canyon and different places that were significant to the Navajo people.  I didn’t really hear that going on during any of the tours in Upper Antelope Canyon.  If you are interested in the cultural significance of the canyon to the Navajo, see if you can find a tour that covers that topic.  Our photo tour was all about the photos.

T was the one who booked this tour and he was really surprised at how busy and Disneyland-ish it was.  Not his style at all.  But George was awesome and we got some great photos.  There are slot canyons all over this area and T knew some people in college who used to travel to Utah for the weekend and shoot them.  We discussed doing that next time and not taking a tour like this again.


So bottom line, glad we did it and got amazing photos but won’t do a tour again.  I just don’t like feeling like cattle.  But as being part of the herd was the only way to see Antelope Slot Canyon, I am glad we got to be “Kobe beef” and be part of the photo tour!


7.06.2017

3-2-1 SUMMER!

4th of July has just passed and my summer is about to get hot. Literally and figuratively. I have four trips planned in the next month and two of them are to hot places. The funny thing is that all four of them are different and require completely different clothes, or “wardrobes” if you will. But I am really excited about ALL of them.

My first trip is to Lake Powell for an “epic” houseboat trip. At least that is how it has been described to me. The trip includes two houseboats and over 30 people. I have never been to Lake Powell and the photos look amazing. T and I are bringing his canoe for its first voyage! I have been told I only need to bring sunscreen and bathing suits. Lake Powell here we come!

T and I are arriving a day early to take a photo / slot canyon tour in Page, AZ and on the way home we are stopping in Las Vegas for a night. This is going to be a great trip.

My next adventure is a mountain biking trip to Lake Tahoe with the Little Sister. My Uncle lives up there and he is going to take us biking. I am a little worried that I am going to be the weakest link in our mountain biking gang. The Little Sister has been going on long rides for a while and my Uncle is a former Ironman Triathlete. Me…. I have been going to some spin classes at the YMCA and sometimes ride my bike 4 miles to work….my only (maybe) plus is that I spend a lot of time at high elevations in Mammoth so maybe that will help. I am also hoping we don’t do extreme mountain biking. I don’t think my bike can handle it. But once again, a whole new collection of clothes needed. I think about this because the trips are pretty close together and I am trying to figure out my packing….

The day after I get back from Lake Tahoe I leave for Boston, Massachusetts for a week long program at Harvard. I know, HARVARD! I am so excited. This is a work related thing and calls for a different wardrobe. The weather is going to be HOT and humid and the clothes need to be mostly professional. And then, even though it is hot, I have to have layers because the program is inside in air conditioning. I rented a studio apartment in Cambridge and am looking forward to my trip. I know it will be packed with work related stuff, but I am looking forward to visiting this area for the first time.

My next trip (four days after I return from Harvard) T and I are taking an Airstream trip to a bluegrass festival in Wyoming. We are going to Idaho and Montana on this trip and taking his canoe and our bikes. And Samson the cat. Samson is an Airstream cat. T wants to show me all his favorite fishing places on this trip and places he talks about moving to. I always ask him if there is an ocean there when he talks about moving…. I love living near the ocean…. This trip also has a completely different clothing need. What does one wear to a bluegrass festival anyway? I am excited to go on this trip and see all the places that T loves so much. It is going to be fun!

I pack for my first trip tonight and feel like the ball will start rolling downhill really quickly after that. I am excited to have so many adventures lined up this summer and look forward to sharing them with you here.

3….2….1…...SUMMER!

7.01.2017

June in photos

June is over already.  This might be a reoccurring theme, but this month flew by! What does Ferris Buller say?

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

So true Ferris, so true.

I think I looked around a little, but I need to look around more so I don't miss my life.  Here are a few moments I captured in June.

After graduation I went out with work people and eventually ended up at Silky Sullivan's listening to this band, Soul'd Out. 


I was working on a project at Chapman University and loved the stairs that led from the parking under the football field.  Well played Chapman.

Some friends of mine started a drink ware business (coffee junkies that they are) and I love seeing their products in stores!  Keep living the dream guys! The Created Co.

And then I went to Petals & Pop, a champagne / flower bar with vintage glasses.  Yes please!

Some time in June I was at Shuck having oysters and beer (for me), Prosecco for the little sister) when we decided it would be a good idea to order the lobster Mac N Cheese.  It was a good idea....

Speaking of the little sister.... the neighbor gave me one of those smart lightbulbs that you can program to turn on and off and she kept calling and calling.  I snapped this photo to text her so she saw I was busy and why I wasn't answering the phone.  It makes me laugh when I see it.

T the Middle Sister and I helped a friend host his company picnic.  These signs made me smile and later made me laugh when I realized they said "Ice Tea" instead of "Iced Tea".  I kept walking by them and couldn't figure out what was missing.

Summer time.  The only time I MIGHT eat tomatoes.  I don't like them but sometimes I find I have a batch of tomatoes from someones yard and T and I have really good caprese salads on the back patio.

And then there is Samson.  I swear this cat sleeps 21 hours a day....

6.28.2017

Hiking McGee Creek near Mammoth, CA

On the same trip that I hiked Parker Lake in the Eastern Sierra I also finally got to hike McGee Creek.  Sunset Magazine had a write up about McGee Creek Pack Station (horses) a few years ago and T has gone fishing there a few times.  We even camped right below this area last year on our way to Cherry Lake but I had never made it up to McGee Creek.  Until this year right after Memorial Day.

Even though it has probably melted by now, there's was a lot of snow on the ground still when I was in Mammoth after Memorial Day.  The McGee Creek hike was no different and the ranger at the visitor’s center had warned us that eventually snow would block our path.  She was correct, but it was a nice hike anyway.

Mo and I hiked McGee Creek after we had explored the Owen’s River Gorge closer to Bishop.  I think we hiked / walked the “lower gorge” as we dead ended at the power plant.  The walk was exposed and along a paved road that the Department of Water and Power (DWP) used to access the power plant.  We saw some climbers and fishermen but overall felt like it wasn’t really a nature hike like we were looking for.  It was interesting but very exposed.  I thought it would be cool to bike it before I realized it dead ended about two miles in.  We went to explore another section of the gorge but changed our mind as a big asphalt truck went by us.
Owen's River Gorge

The drive to McGee Creek Canyon switchbacks up a hill with beautiful views of Crowley Lake.  Drive past the campground and the pack station to the small parking area with a bathroom and a few camp spots.  The trail is easy to follow with a few different paths that get you where you are going.  We took the path that veered left to walk in the aspens and next to a very full and fast moving McGee Creek.  We walked through patches of snow and eventually met up again with the main trail. 


The beginning of our hike was exposed as we were walking in a canyon carved by a glacier.  Eventually we made our way into some aspen trees but not before crossing a few minor streams that had decided to flow in the middle of the trail.  Eventually we got to a place where we could not continue our hike because the snow blocked our path.  It was still a lovely day and we enjoyed the hike very much.


When we returned to Mammoth we tried a different brewery for "after hike beers".  This time is was Mammoth Brewing Company and for the first time I got to sit outside on their patio as I have only gone here in the winter before.  Mo and I agreed it was a great way to end our day.

6.14.2017

Current Crush: topless & barefoot, constellation, and hipsters

Crushes can be so fun! During the first part of them.

I mean they are are called "crushes" because they ultimately crush your soul.  At least the high school romantic varieties of crushes. I am SO GLAD that part of my life is over.  And as a romantic side note, I ended up marrying my college crush and am happy to report I have continued to have a crush on him for almost twenty years..... Holy CUSSword!  Almost Twenty Years.......
Torii and Elizabeth

Wow.

Okay, back to my current crushes that don't actually crush my soul and are not of the romantic variety.  I have three current crushes and they make me feel a little bit more giddy than might be normal.  I mean, these are just ordinary things that I have a little crush on.

First up:  topless & barefoot nail polish from Essie.  Described as a "barely there soft beige pink", I kind of love this nail polish color.  It just makes me happy when I paint my nails this color when it starts to get warmer.  It looks natural, or maybe I should say neutral, but a little polished.  I used to paint my nails all the time and have noticed that I am not so religious about it anymore.  Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but I do know that I always love it when I paint my nails this color!

hands hold mug
-----Essie Topless & Barefoot nail polish from laurens-list.com

Next crush:  Aquarius Constellation Ring.  I found this ring at a local store and kind of loved it.  Mine is silver with crystals as the stars, and it was a fun idea to wear my birth constellation as a ring.  I am not into "my sign" or horoscopes but this ring kind of charmed me and I smile when I look down and see I am wearing it.  I found some online at luulla.com if you are interested in having a constellation ring of your own!

constellation ring chart

Third crush:  Hipster Cocktail Radio on Pandora.  Pandora is a music streaming service that let's you create stations by songs, artist, or themes.  You can create a free account and thumbs up or thumbs down songs to curate your music stations.  Free accounts have a few commercials and paid accounts do not.  I stumbled across this music station in a store.  I was there with my sisters and we commented how good the music playlist was.  The girl working told us it was Hipster Cocktail Radio on Pandora and I have been hooked ever since.

So there you have my current crushes.  The everyday items that are making me a little more giddy about my day than I normally am.  And lucky for me, these crushes will probably turn into lasting relationships!

6.09.2017

A well placed accessory

This morning I wanted to wear my pajamas to work.

Figuratively.

I was tired and didn't want to get dressed.  It happens near the end of the spring semester.  The burn out / draining / do I have to go to work feeling.  I guess I should consider myself lucky that it doesn't happen more often.  I hear there are people that feel like this everyday they have to go to work......

So I pulled myself together and got ready for work and two things happened.

The first is that I put on a big black and white striped / geometric scarf that I got at H&M during the New Orleans trip and the second is that I wore jeans to work.

JEANS! What is happening to me?

The truth, my work fashion is evolving and I just realized it.

This blog is not a fashion blog but I do talk about what I wear sometimes.  Ironically my number one blog post is my Lucky Dozen Challenge blog post which is a post about a clothing challenge the Little Sister and I did some years ago.  It was when I was at my previous job and I had a lot of reasons to look very professional. During my nine years at that job I curated a specific look and had a lot of people tell me they were always inspired by my style.  You can see some of my other Lucky Dozen challenge photos on my Flickr account.

When I resigned, my new job was close enough to my house that I could ride my bike to work.  A lot of my old work outfits didn't work on the bike so I modified them and over the first year (which just ended) and realized my work look had evolved.

There are a number of reasons for this.  Riding my bike to work was one factor.  My job is different and not so "public" facing so I am not always on display.  A lot of my colleagues are casual (college professors) and the building where my office is has a mix of really nice dressed people (the president and vice presidents) all the way to the student workers. It is a fashion mix for sure.

My own style has been evolving over this past year and today I wore jeans for the first time to work.  They were new jeans.  Dark and boot cut.  Very flattering.  I got them a few weeks ago and love them.  Never underestimate a good pair of jeans.  This morning I just wanted to feel comfortable for work so I put on the dark jeans, a black sweater, and some cute flats.  I then added the geometric scarf and headed to work.

I was comfortable and looked put together.  A little French-ish actually.  My day was open so I didn't need to see anyone in a meeting.  I was walking across the lobby when a colleague saw me and said, "You look fabulous.  A well placed accessory is everything.".  And just like that, I realized my style had evolved.  And that I might even wear jeans again to work. And that scarves can take a boring outfit and change it into something special.  It is the power of a well placed accessory.... and a power i need to embrace more often.


6.07.2017

Hiking Parker Lake, June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra, California

It’s been a number of years since I started visiting the Eastern Sierra.  Sometimes it feels like I am stuck in the movie Groundhog Day and living the same day over, and over, and over again (hello ski season during the last drought).  Other times I am overwhelmed with how much I haven’t seen.  

The week following Memorial Day, Russia / Costa Rica / Iceland Mo and I spent five days exploring the Mammoth area.  One one of those days we hiked to Parker Lake.

Parker Lake Trailhead sign

Parker Lake is on the June Lake Loop.  The dirt path leading to the trailhead is off of Grant Lake.  The June Lake Loop is a road you can take that goes around June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake.  If you started the loop at June Lake, the turn off for Parker Lake is at the end of Grant Lake right before you hit Highway 395.  If you want to skip the June Lake Loop, you can catch the end of it on Highway 395 and drive into the dirt road for the Parker Lake trailhead.


Parker Lake was not on my radar and the reason we hiked it was because enough snow had melted that the trail was accessible and in good shape.  A ranger at the welcome center in Mammoth recommended it and I was glad she did.  It was a record snowfall this year and I didn’t realize how many hikes were still snowed in until this trip.  Mammoth Mountain (the ski hill) has said it will stay open for skiing until August if that helps to paint a picture.  Devils Postpile is hoping to open mid-July but still reports over 20 feet on the road.  Bottom line, California had a great snow year and I wasn’t thinking about that when this “hiking” trip was planned.  Lucky for us, we had Parker Lake.

My very old (1969) The Mammoth Lakes Sierra (Genny Schumacher) states the hike to Parker lakes is an “Intermediate Hike, 2 miles”.  I guess that is true.  My heart did get pumping during the first part of the hike, but then I got into a rhythm and it was a nice hike.  The trail was easy to follow and well maintained.  The first part of the hike is exposed (no tree cover) but then you come to some aspen groves for shade at different parts of the hike.  Starting out you are above Parker Creek and eventually the trail finds the creek and you finish the hike walking next to it to Parker Lake.


Parker Lake is another beautiful lake in the Eastern Sierra.  I don’t think they will ever stop taking my breath away. The U-shaped glacier carved valley makes a spectacular backdrops to the melted snow lake.  


 We did this hike on Memorial Day and there were a lot of hikers and even about four tents at the lake.  The day was sunny but not hot.  When we stopped at the lake for a snack and break, it was a little chilly in the shade.  As of the writing of this, the Parker Lake trail is dog friendly!

The hike back had a beautiful view of Mono Lake in the background.  


After the hike Mo and I drove the June Lake Loop back to June Lake.  Mo didn’t remember doing it before and it is a beautiful drive.  The area is technically called the “June Lake Basin” and in addition to the four lakes accessible by car on the June Lake Loop, there are numerous other lakes (like Parker Lake) you can get to by hiking.  I have hiked to Fern Lake before and was excited to see so many other lakes to hike in this area.

We ended the day at the June Lake Brewery and Mo took this funny photo with our beer and one of my water bottles.  Stay hydrated up there!  With water, not beer…..

5.11.2017

Camping at South Carlsbad in the rain

Airstream on ocean cliff

Last weekend T and I had a chance to camp with friends at South Carlsbad State Beach.  This is one of my favorite beaches to camp at because you are on the cliffs above the ocean and the pelicans fly by almost at eye level.  I have seen dolphins surfing the waves at dawn on past trips and have even camped there for New Years once.
Birds in clouds

This camping trip was a new experience at South Carlsbad because a storm came in and the wind roughed up the ocean.  I was glad I brought jacket!  Our friends were expecting the storm and had really anchored down anything that might fly away.  They also brought a fire pit with a lid that could be moved around if needed.  We moved  it out of the wind as much as we could and used it to stay warm.
Camp fire pit

The rain started late Saturday night and it was nice to listen to from inside the airstream.  The next morning everything in camp was wet and muddy as we packed up, but I had a great time.

We live at the beach and have amazing weather 98% of the time.  Being able to camp on the ocean cliffs and watch a storm come over the sea was a great way to spend last weekend!
Ocean and cliff