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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My favorite light weight day pack - REI Flash 18 Pack

I rarely do gear reviews.  
But when I come across something I really like, 
I have to share it with you all. 

It can be hard to find a day pack that is light weight or a quick day hike, or easy to fit in a suit case. A lot of them are bulky and take up way too much room in my carry on suitcase. When I was flying to Puerto Rico and wanted a bag to throw in my suitcase, I could not find anything that was small enough to fit in my carryon, yet big enough to carry what I needed.  

One day, I was getting ready to go on a day hike, and was so unsatisfied with my bag options. My Osprey bag is great, but too big and bulky for an easy day hike. My running camelbak is a good option for size and weight, but doesn't have room to hold anything besides keys and water, and I like to bring snacks, my camera, and some things for Olive. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ferguson Canyon Hike - Waterfalls and Overlook

Near the top of Ferguson Canyon, Utah 
I had heard this name once before, but it didn't really stick.  On a Sunday evening after a long day of Spring Cleaning, I decided it was time to get out of the house and take the dog for a Sunday evening hike.  I was getting bored of doing the same close to the city spring hikes, especially here in Utah where there are so many amazing hiking options.  I did a little research on a dog friendly spring hike when I stumbled across Ferguson Canyon.  (side note: a good way to see if a trail is ready is to look it up on instagram!)

First Impressions:  One of my new favorite close to SLC hikes.  Following a creek almost the entire way, and several small waterfalls.  Shaded and green with wild flowers growing along the trail.  Amazing dog option as there is water for them the entire way.  Everything was so green, and the view from the overlook of the valley and into Big Cottonwood Canyon was an added bonus.   The trail reminded me of the Pacific Northwest and is a great workout with its steady steep climb to the overlook. 

Trail in Ferguson Canyon
Trail in Ferguson Canyon

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Top Six Favorite Trips

Today is a funky fun Friday.  
Two things for you today:

First, check out Naomi in Wonderland to read my interview on her blog.  Naomi is the gorgeous girl behind the Belgian travel blog.  She's currently in Australia and her posts are making me weak in the knees (diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef anyone?).  Naomi also has a soft spot for California (we share a deep love for Monterey), and I am proud to say I have even turned her on to visiting Salt Lake City and it got the number 9 on her 10 must see U.S. cities.  Utah Represent

Over on her blog she shares a monthly travel blogger interview series and I was over the moon when she asked me to be involved.  Head on over to her blog to see my interview, and read about the time I walked into a water fountain in Miami.  And then check out today's post where I share six of my favorite trips. 

I thought it was going to be really hard to pick a few of my favorite trips, but I am proud to say these six stood out to me more than most.  Looking back at these trips, I smile at all the awesome memories, disasters, and photos.  These are the six trips that make me stop and think how lucky I am to live this life.  Forward and onward: 

1.  Northern California Road Trip:  This was my first time to California, and there is nothing like seeing California from your car (trust me!).  Having the freedom to drive wherever you want and see so many aspects of the state on your time schedule is key.  We saw so much of Northern California from Lake Tahoe to Napa Valley, Sausalito over the Golden Gate Bridge to San Fransisco, Monterey, and driving the Pacific Coast Highway down to Big Sur.  California is truly a dream with mountains, oceans, and everything in between.  It is a state that has a little bit of everything, and then so many of the special little things.  Vineyards and sealions, I loved dipping my toes in the Pacific under CA's famous bridge.  This was definitely one of my best travel adventures so far and top 3 road trips. 

View of San Francisco from Sausalito 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mueller Park Trail - Bountiful, Utah

Oh mountain biking.
How we have a love hate relationship. I love being outside, fresh air sunshine dirt trails, and a happy dog chasing my bike behind me. But those first few rides of the season can be tough.  Now that I graduated, I don't spend a whole lot of time on my bike (I used to ride it to school), and with winter just wrapping up, I hadn't spent too much time on my bike on the trails. Matter of fact the last time I sat in my bike seat, was Navajo Rocks in Moab.
 Yep, over a month ago. 
It is a great workout and something I enjoy more and more, with the exception of those first few rides that remind me how out of shape I am.  Not even so much on my legs but man does mountain biking set my lungs on fire. If your legs don't feel like blocks of lead, then your lungs will surely feel like they are burning out of your chest after a few hundred feet (especially here where the air is already thin - sea level fo life). 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bear Lake and Scenic Byways

Sometimes life can be stressful.  Whether its work, relationships, family or friends, sometimes you just need to get away.  I had been toying with the idea of a few different trips, Portland, Nevada, and Idaho, and last minute decided to do a day trip to the closest one, Idaho.  Sometimes all the stress piles up and I get a feeling of crushing anxiety in this little apartment in the city.  So when life (and a few days of bad weather) has you feeling down, a road trip to somewhere new is in order. 

If you know me, you know I have a love for the water.  And here in Utah, the second most arid state in the country whose landscape involves a lot of desert (and mountains of course), water is hard to come by.  I spend a lot of time googling Utah's lakes and rivers. I have to admit I have seen many of them and they leave a lot to be desired (This New England native loves a good coastline and sandy beach). Let's just say I set my expectations high. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Hikes near SLC

I have the perfect post for you as you get ready to head into the weekend.  The past few weeks I have been doing a lot of research on "Spring Dog Friendly" hikes and really wasn't impressed with the google search results.  

It was a lot of work finding something close to downtown , that I hadn't already done, and that also allowed dogs.  I needed no to minimal snow, not too muddy, not too icey, the goldilocks of hiking trails if you will.  So I found some great hikes, did them all, and put together this great list for you.  With a few extras outside SLC if you are willing to travel.

Dog Friendly Spring hikes near SLC
Mount Van Cott ~ 3 miles 
Living Room ~ 4 miles 
Avenue Twin Peaks ~ 1-7 miles 
Red Butte Trails ~ 1-4 miles 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Hike: Red Butte Canyon Area

One of the best things about spring is the longer daylight hours.  Which means enough light for weekday evening hikes, the perfect way to break up any long work week.  With the warmer weather and summer around the corner (and working for home), I have been setting some "personal goals" on moving at least 3 miles a day.  Some days its just a walk around the city, picking up groceries or dropping off a book at the library.  But on these city walks there is the issue of Olive being on-leash the entire time, and scrounging for all the leftover food littered throughout the city thanks to our growing homeless population.
City life can be wonderful, right?  

At least once mid week its nice to take Olive out on the trails where she can be off leash, and run like a maniac. And I don't have to worry about her eating week old hot dogs off the ground.  A great midweek hike close to downtown, and early spring hike is the trails in Red Butte Canyon. 

First, let me be clear, these are not the trails within the Red Butte Garden itself.  The hikes in the garden require you to pay admission to the garden, and are not dog friendly.  However, there is a network of trails outside of the fence of Red Butte Garden, that crosses over where the entrance of Red Butte Canyon is closed to the public, and through some nice trails.    

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring Hike: Avenue Twin Peaks - Salt Lake City, Utah

Weekend plans can always change quickly around here.  

A planned trip to Moab was postponed due to a horse show over the weekend.  But the beauty of Salt Lake City is that there are so many "last minute" no plan needed hikes you can do close to downtown.  Today on the blog, I am sharing another great spring hiking option in beautiful SLC, and my last minute planned hike. Spring comes early here in Utah and when the temperature climbs and the sun stays out longer, I am itching to hit the trails.  Spring hikes around the city are sometimes my favorite because for a very short time, the mountains are oh so green. 

Hiking the Avenue Twin Peaks
Hiking to the Avenue Twin Peaks is a great low elevation hike, making it a perfect option in the spring when a lot of the other peaks are packed in with snow or mud.  This is a pretty (and exposed) hike with some mileage and elevation to make it a great workout. The peak is certainly not the tallest in the area, at only 6291 ft (1917 m). However, its proximity to downtown and steep climbs make this an easy access sweat on a weekday evening or weekend morning. If you are hiking it on a sunny day, make sure to bring lots of sunscreen and plenty of water as the trail is entirely exposed to the elements.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spring at Utah's Capitol Building

Utah State Capitol Building

While Salt Lake City surely has its up and downs, but no one can deny it is one of the prettiest cities.  The backdrop of the mountains on this beautiful landscape has me in awe every time.  It looks like someone pulled down a backdrop out of Ansel Adam's portfolio.  One of my favorite parts about living in SLC, is that spring comes early here.  I remember flying back East last year and I was astonished how brown and dead everything was there.  Here in Utah, end of March flowers are blooming, the grass in green, and spring is in the air.  

If you really want a sense of spring in SLC, there are a few places you need to visit:  
The Utah State Capitol to see the cherry blossoms, 
Temple Square to see the flowers, and 
Red Butte Garden to see their beautiful gardens in spring bloom.  

Because Temple Square and Red Butte already had their chance in the spotlight, today's post is all about spring at the Capitol Building. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Malan's Peak - Ogden, Utah

Spring hiking can be a little tough when you live in the mountains.  The high peaks are all covered in snow, and the lower trails are often covered in mud.  The flies take over Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island, and everyone and their mother is on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  Throw in the factor of finding a dog-friendly trail and you may be scratching your head on just where you should hike when winter slowly fades to spring.  After doing a little bit of research, I found a hike that we could do to a peak, that was accessible due to its (relatively) low elevation at 6,960 feet.
Guide to hiking Malan's peak

- - - - - - - - - - The History Behind Malan’s Peak - - - - - - - - - - 
"Malan’s Peak was named after an Ogdenite, Bartholomew “Tim” Malan. In 1892, Malan and his family carved out a path up the mountain side along the upper reaches of Waterfall Canyon, into what is now Malan’s Basin and built Malan Heights Hotel and also prepared a campground area. Malan charged visitors $1 per person to be hauled up to the hotel in a horse-drawn wagon that had a “poke” stick which prevented the wagon from rolling backwards down the hill. Passengers were treated to beautiful panoramic views, excellent meals, and lodging at $6 per week (steak included). Unfortunately, the Hotel burned down in 1906 and the only evidence of it’s existence left is the old cast iron boiler laying in the grass near the stream which leads to Waterfall Canyon.

Friday, April 1, 2016

VIDEO: Moab Trip and the Best of Groupon (Outdoors!)

I am slowly recapping my GoPro video montages of my previous trips (Yep, a little behind!).  So today's post is a pairing.  Shopping and a movie.  First, the recap of my Moab 2016 trip, camping along Potash Road, hiking Corona Arch and Mill Creek Canyon, and mountain biking Navajo Rocks and Lower Merrimack and Monitor

Followed by a little shopping. 

While I have more outdoor gear than I am willing to admit, there is no such thing as too much, right? I mean yes you have the bike but what about the bike cover for storing your bike outside?  Or a portable hammock for your next camping trip? While I usually use Groupon for activities, I recently started browsing their selection of outdoor and adventure gear. I was pleasantly surprised to see they have everything from tents to close, and even big name brands like Mountain Hardware. While I haven't purchased any of these items yet, these were the fun and useful items I found on Groupon that had good ratings, and a great price.