My Trip West

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Here I am, on top of the Grand Canyon.  It was extremely windy and my sunglasses blew off while trying to get this shot.   Luckily they landed in front of me!  I was slightly cursing Nick to hurry up and get the shot, therefore my feet got cut off.  Worth it!

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Experience a sunset on the Grand Canyon.  Breathtaking. 

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Valley of Fire State Park.  aka alien park.  aka rock climbers playground.   

Hi friends! I’m back from one of the coolest and most inspiring vacations I’ve ever been on. It also happened to be decided and organized on a whim, and turned out better than I can have imagined. The past few months I have been extremely stressed. Work has been crazy busy with me putting in 7 day weeks, dealing with some interesting (aka insane) individuals, and having no time for myself. Not to mention I got engaged (yay!!!) in February, and instead of wedding planning being a fun, creative, and let’s be real…an all about the bride experience; it’s been adding more stress to my life and catering to what everyone else wants, leaving my voice unheard! Enter how getting to watch the sunrise on the grand canyon and climb above the clouds on the Angel’s landing trail at Zion have helped me overcome these problems + so much more. (I’ll be doing a separate post on wedding planning and why I’m going to make my own cake soon!)

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Although I was less than thrilled waking up at 4:30am to catch the sunrise over the grand canyon, boy oh boy am I glad I did!!  Truly remarkable.

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We’ve all been there. Overworked. Exhausted. Stuck in the same routine. Feel as if you’re working so hard towards a goal you don’t even want. I needed a change.  I needed to turn my mindset around and figure out what’s important in my life.  I needed an escape from the daily grind to get some mental clarity.  With that in mind I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas with Nick, my parents, my sister and her fiance, plus my brother and his girlfriend.  Ok, I know what you’re thinking.  Not quite the relaxing and restorative vacation I was describing.  And believe me I thought the same thing at the beginning.  But I was so wrong.

Not for nothing, but it was COLD at night and in the early morning.  I think I had three layers on when we watched the sun rise but it didn’t stop me from doing some casual yoga on the rim of the grand canyon.  You bet I did sun salutations!!

I even got my mom to join me!  

I ate like a veggie goddess!  Seriously enjoyed having a kitchen everywhere I went with our RV.  Everyone thought I was crazy, until they asked for seconds of my cheesy lentils…

Ok, Antelope canyon was mind blowing!  Confusing when you pull up and it looks like a seriously mediocre desert.  And then you have to wait in the hot sun for over an hour in order to descend into the actual canyon.  But this was one of the coolest things I have even seen; put it on your bucket list people!!

After landing in Vegas, we stayed the night in the hotel Paris before really getting the adventure started.  (Let me just say I am totally baffled by how popular Vegas is.  Call me crazy but being surrounded by a haze of smoke and alcohol, plus more people than comfortable for a desert, not to mention an almost one to one ratio of slot machines to humans is not my idea of a good time.  It did serve it’s purpose as an airport so I can’t be all that mad.  End rant.)  The next day we picked up our RV’s that we would call home for the next week.  I was highly skeptical of this RV lifestyle, but now I can honestly say it’s the way to go!  If any of you followed my instagram and instastories during the trip, you know just how accommodating to my foodie lifestyle RVing is! I was able to cook up a storm and enjoy my usual “cheesy” lentils, warm salads, roasted chickpeas, figgy teff porridge, and so much more.  And yes, I did pack a container of sautéed broccoli, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, and chickpeas with a fork for my on-the-go trail lunch as we hiked through the national parks.  I don’t mess around when I say I’m a plant based foodie!

On the left: Me, on top Angel’s landing trail in Zion National Park, eating my casual trail lunch.  Top right: my lunch before hiking 3 miles down the grand canyon then 3 miles back up (a change of over 2,000ft elevation both ways!).  Same lunch (although in a super unsophisticated plastic bag) + the addition of green juice.  Last two photos are the results of the insane trek!  We were both covered in dust and amazed at what we had just accomplished!!

Yea, we hiked down and up that…

Always cool when faced with adversity.  We just had to get back to the top of the rocks behind me, no big deal!  I’d also like to point out that although it was cold in the dessert at night, it was hot during the day!  I’m simply terrified of the sun and stick to long sleeves, pants, and hats whenever outside for more than 30min.  Call me crazy, but in 30 years when I look 20 we’ll see who gets the last laugh!

Throughout the trip I saw some truly remarkable natural wonders.  There is something therapeutic about looking out over the vastness grand canyon and calming climbing to the top of a mountain in Zion park and eating a simple lunch feeling on top of the world.  It sounds cliche, but I needed the wake up call.  Over the course of the trip I was able to shut down my stress and open my mind.  And while it’s never a bad idea to take a trip to national park and view some breath-taking natural wonders, remember nature is all around us and there are ways to relieve our daily stresses no matter where you live.  My biggest take-away from the trip is inner peace is not a destination but a journey.  We drove over 4 hours at times, across three states and a time zone to fit everything we wanted to see.  At first I thought the drives would simply be a means to an end, but the open and constantly changing mountainous landscape and vegetation was breathtaking! We all have the ability to figure out what we want and change our current path to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

I took about 1000 pictures of the ever changing landscape on my phone.  I have never had so much fun driving!!

Extension of Angel’s landing at Zion National Park; Nick and I got about 1/4 way out and decided not for us!  It is treacherous terrain with only a metal chain to hold on to!  And if that wasn’t bad enough, there were a ton of people on it causing traffic jams in places that clearly lead to death if you so much as move an inch to either side.   I was happy with our decision.  Shout out to my bold a** sister and her fiance for actually getting to the top!  Nick and I had the most delicious cold-brewed iced coffee at the bottom while we waited 😛 

Although we did climb up this mountain before turing around (and this was only the halfway point!)

We stopped at a truck stop for lunch on our way to Valley of Fire state park (gotta love the RV life!), and this guy joined us!  

Valley of Fire was our last stop, and we were all exhausted by the time we got there.  The temperature was also reading 102F so that didn’t help.  Good thing we had quite a view! 

Remember I said how tired and drained I was?  Kidding.  As soon as we started down a trail I was ALL over the rocks!  They were super fun to climb!!

The whole trip I rocked comfy clothes, no make-up, and 0% cares on how I looked.  Oh wait, that’s how I usually am!  

Shut down stress and open up your mind.  Be open to new possibilities.  Do things that make you happy.  Find joy everyday.  Live a little!!

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