My Attempt to Love Camping

July 27, 2009

I really want to like camping. I camped with my parents when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure I liked it because mom and dad told me to like it. I haven’t really camped as an adult, until last year when I decided to try it again. We went to Assateague and I got eaten alive and did not have very much fun. Bill didn’t think we would be camping again.

I read an article in Sunset Magazine about the 50 best campsites in the West with a list that were local. So I made us a reservation at Pinnacles National Monument, about 100 miles south of us. This past weekend, we went camping.

It was one of the best weekends that Bill and I spent together. Especially so because it had the potential to be horrible. We had incredibly inconsiderate neighbors, I got a a blister within the first mile of our first hike, I was really struggling at the beginning part of the hike (which was the hardest part and pretty much straight uphill), it was HOT (95 on Saturday, around 100 on Sunday), and did I mention we had incredibly inconsiderate neighbors? But it was actually great.

We did a 9.25 mile hike on Saturday. It was a loop, with the hardest part in the first 2.9 miles. After the first half mile, we hit the intersection with High Peaks Trail which basically went straight up. As I mentioned, I got a blister shortly into the hike, but it really only bothered me when we were going uphill. It was a long stretch going uphill. My lungs were on fire. For every minute we spent hiking, we rested. And took in fluids. It was hard to remember to look around to take in the view. Reaching the top felt like a major accomplishment. It was also short lived because as soon as we hit the top, we started the descent. It was nonstop switchbacks on the way down. While it was easier on the lungs, I felt it in my legs and glutes. There was a ranger station at the bottom of our descent, and it was a great spot for a rest and some lunch. We were also able to fill up our water and use the rest rooms. The rest of the hike was mainly flat, and a little bit easier (although after you’ve been out for 4 hours, easy is a relative term). The highlight of the hike was our trip through the balconies cave. This was another potential problem spot because Bill is claustrophobic. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was amazing. We had to scramble and duck and crawl and scoot and it was dark so we needed headlamps. Bill was great and actually enjoyed it.

After being on the trail for 6 hours, were were unbelievably hot and tired and dirty. You can check it out here, and those aren’t tan lines. The cool (and I mean this literally) thing was that there was a pool at the campground. We rinsed the dirt off, put on our swimsuits and took a dip. It was so refreshing. I cannot even tell you how good it felt. Plus, I got to stretch out my muscles a bit. We showered and then headed back to our campsite and had a relaxing evening.

While it was 95 during the day, in the evening it was quite comfortable. We had dinner and played cards and read and made smores. We also did some stargazing and saw a couple of shooting stars. Really beautiful. We slept very well that night. Or I did until I woke up because I think our neighbors had raccoons in their campsite all night. That’s what it sounded like; I was too tired to check. On Sunday we packed up our gear, ate breakfast, and hit the trails.

We did a shorter hike, 4.5 miles. The first part was up to an overlook and it was very pretty. What made it worthwhile is that there was a park ranger at the overlook (she actually passed by us on the trail) but we got to ask her questions and she sold us on the second half of our hike which I had considered not doing. The second half of the hike went up to a cave and then UP through the cave. Lots of stairs. This cave was somewhat developed whereas the balconies cave was natural. By developed I mean stairs and handrails. It was necessary though, because you were going up and quickly. It was neat to see. About 5 minutes past the cave, we saw the reservoir which was unexpected. It was so dry everywhere and then suddenly, this beautiful water. A perfect place to take a short break. We finished our hike, ate lunch, and headed home.

All in all, it was beautiful.

But I have to briefly vent about our horrible neighbors. Bill summed it up best when he said they made an awful lot of noise for two people. Things did not start well when they pulled up at 11pm ( we were snug as bugs in our sleeping bags) and started talking at full volume. So that we could hear every word of their conversation. Including when they talked about their cup sizes and why one sleeps in her bra… And then they turned on their radio. This is the Cliffs Notes version and may not seem that bad, but if Bill thought they were obnoxious, they were obnoxious. Bill had no problem asking them to turn the radio off because it was quiet hours. I do admit that radios in nature is my pet peeve. I hate it at the beach, I hate it while camping. When I’m in the outdoors, I want to enjoy the outdoors. Hearing the trees rustle in the wind. Hearing murmurs of conversations and occasionally bursts or noise either from laughter or kids having fun. To me, those are the sounds of camping. First thing in the morning, they had their radio on but we left for our hike. When we came back to our campsite after hiking all day to hear their radio blaring, I was really unhappy. I mean Really Unhappy. So unhappy that we came very close to going home. But maybe they heard that we were back and out of consideration they turned the radio down and it was tolerable enough. And they turned it off around 9 so I was very happy. And they learned volume control for their voices. Maybe I’m overreacting with the radio thing, but it’s how I feel.

I figured out why I don’t like camping and it’s because so much of it is out of my control. Bugs. Inconsiderate people. It’s a lot of work for an unknown result. But maybe that’s also why it’s worth it. Because even with all the potential for problems, it can be really really great.


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I Heart Vacation

September 6, 2008

I just got back from an awesome vacation. Bill, Claudia and I went on vacation to Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. It was awesome! We were gone for a total of 9 days. It was supposed to be 8 days but we missed our flight coming home and got “stuck” in Chicago. Poor us… Yeah, right! We were so excited to be delayed. I called my dad and he picked us up and took us to my favorite pizza place. Yay! It was a wonderful night. We got to spend a few hours with my dad, serendipity! And I got to have one of my favorite meals. Deliciousness!

As for vacation. It was amazing. There were two parts to it. Part I was Glacier where we spent 3 days. Then we had a travel day and drove to Yellowstone. Yellowstone and Grand Teton were Part II.

Here’s how we spent Part I:

Day 1: Travel

Day 2: Glacier (Logan Pass)

Highline Trail to Haystack Butte (6.8 mi)
Sheep sighting
Goat encounter

Day 3: Glacier (Avalanche Creek/St. Mary)

Bill almost hits a deer
Trail of the Cedars (0.7 mi)
St. Mary and Virginia Falls (3.6 mi)
Sunrift Gorge
Baring Falls (1.2 mi)
Sun Point (1.2 mi)
Pie at Park Cafe

Day 4: Glacier (Logan Pass)

Hidden Lake Overlook (3.0 mi)
Hidden Lake (3.0 mi)
Pie at Park Cafe

Everything was amazing. The park is huge. We only saw half of it, but the half that we saw we did a good job of exploring. We did day hikes, and they were beautiful. The weather was perfect! It would be cool in the mornings (low 40s) and would warm up to the upper 70s by the afternoon. Perfect for hiking! We found this great place to eat in St. Mary that had the best pie. We tried to find a way to get pie on our way to Yellowstone but it was too far out of the way. We saw lots of goats. I wanted to make them into sweaters. We were totally disconnected from the outside world. No cell phones, no internet, no tv, and no national newspapers. It was crazy, but in a good way. We’d read or knit in the evenings, but we didn’t have that much down time by the time we’d showered and changed. The one night we were done early (which was around 7), we hung out by the Lake MacDonald and knit and read and enjoyed the view.

I was surprised by how green and lush it was. We were told that they had a good snowy winter which helped. There were wildflowers everywhere! it was quite colorful. You could trace streams from a snow patch at the top of a mountain, all the way down the mountain. It was amazing.

I loved Glacier. We have to go back. There’s so much more to see and do.

More on Part II later.


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A Fabulous Fourth

July 8, 2008

IMG_1382I’m back at work after a wonderful long weekend! Bill, CJ and I drove up to visit my mom and Jacob and Jacob’s parents for the 4th of July weekend. We left Thursday after work and the drive wasn’t bad. Maybe an hour longer than it should have been, but that was bearable. CJ was well behaved in the car. I saw at least 5 different towns setting off their fireworks. It was fun. We arrived late, but to my favorite homemade cake (yay, Mom!).

The weekend was a great balance of busy/relaxing. We spent the 4th relaxing on the beach, reading, eating… That evening we had a wonderful barbeque dinner a la Chef Bill. Saturday, we went shopping in New York City while Bill saw Spamalot. Mom and I checked out fabric stores in the fashion district (talk about overwhelming) and then took the subway to Purl. Bill took the subway and met up with us, then we walked from Purl to Pier 17 (about 3 miles) which gave us a great opportunity to check out the waterfalls. We sat outside and enjoyed beers and dinner. Then it was the subway back to Grand Central Station and onto another train and back home.

Sunday was relaxing. I found a quiet spot to read while Mom and Mrs. Jacob cooked an Indian feast. We had aloo gobi at my request and chole and some other yummy goodness that I can’t remember the names of. The best thing about the meal, was that we got to bring the leftovers home with us!!! It was so delicious. Bill took a long nap while Mom and I did arts and crafts (making recycled paper books) and then he helped us. In the evening, we sat around the table eating popcorn and playing Ticket to Ride (Europe Edition) (very fun game for the family).

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Monday was drive home and get settled. The dog was exhausted. She slept from the moment we walked in the door (3pm), through the night. She was a decent house guest. Jacob’s parents aren’t dog people and they were very patient with our hyper pups. She is cute and friendly, but if you’re not used to a wet nose and a drooly dog, it can be tough and we appreciated them putting up with her. She was pretty well behaved considering the circumstances. Mom may be cursing us in 9 months though, when she’s still finding CJ hair in her house!

It was great to visit with Jacob’s parents, Jacob and Mom. Bill actually had some time to relax and rest. I got to spend quality time with my mom. We got to read, shop, go to the beach. CJ got to play outside in the yard… Suffice it to say, being back at work is a shock to my system. But on the plus side, I got to sleep in. On vacation, CJ had us up starting at 5:30, then 6, then 6:30… Too much excitement for her to sleep.

Hope y’all had fabulous fourths too!

P.S. I finished 3 books this weekend.


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It’s Back To Work

September 3, 2007

On Saturday, I got back from a fabulous week at the beach. I rented an apartment in Ocean City, MD, for a week with a girlfriend because my husband had a big work deadline and couldn’t take any time off. He and another friend were able to join us for a weekend. It wasn’t long enough but he was able to recharge his batteries. The week was so relaxing. My days were spent on the beach under an umbrella reading. And napping. And getting a cannoli and coffee for a late-morning snack. For a change of scenery, we drove to Assateague and parked our umbrellas on a different island. It did have a different feel being a national park and not having a boardwalk. Plus there were the wild ponies and evidence of wild ponies. It was beautiful for a day, but it was so much easier to drag our chairs, umbrellas, mini cooler, towels and books a block and a half. And I swam with dolphins again! They were about a hundred feet offshore but it was the same water. They are so beautiful! I saw a pod on Friday and they seemed to be only 50 feet offshore. It seemed so close. I’m not sure if the dolphins were my favorite, or the amazing moonrise we watched. The moon was full and huge and bright orange. As it rose, at the very end it seemed like a drop was going to fall off but then it got sucked back in as the moon cleared the horizon. It was amazing.

Aside from my moonrise, my evenings were spent with Ugly Betty Season 1 on DVD and a project on my lap. If there was one thing I wanted to get done on vacation, it was Cozy. I am pleased to report that Cozy is complete!! More on Cozy in another post.

It was hard to say goodbye to the beach. As fabulous as vacation was, it is great to be home with my hubby and the dog and cats. Bill and I talked on the phone but it’s just not the same. And I missed my snuggly critters. It was especially nice to have two days to get ready for work instead of just one. And even with the extra day, I’m still not ready for work. I did get started on some ironing though.

framingAfter having spent 4 hours in the car driving home on Saturday, Bill and I got in the car and drove 50 minutes to The Stitching Post to pick up my custom framing. The pieces were ready on Friday and I had to get them ASAP. It was worth every minute in the car. Everything turned out so well! They do a great job. There will be pictures of the framed pieces, once they get hung. I’m so happy!! And of course I had to pick up a new project and I’m trying out a new fiber. So exciting!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day. My day was labor free. Except for the picking up and ironing. Poor me… I certainly enjoyed my time off. I foresee Bill putting me in the car kicking and screaming tomorrow…


Vacation Continued

April 25, 2007

mossycaveOn Thursday, we woke up and got in the car and did our last hike at Bryce Canyon. It was a short, one mile round trip hike to Mossy Cave and a small waterfall. Mossy Cave was interesting. The cave was quite cool and there were huge icicles. There are icicles in the cave for 10 out of 12 months. The weird thing about the icicles is that they appeared to be attached to the ground instead of the ceiling of the cave. After pondering this natural phenomenon, we walked over the the waterfall which was more of a trickle due to less than average snowfall during the winter. It was a quick excursion, but a pleasant way to start the day. We climbed into the car for our 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park, the fifth most visited national park. We didn’t know this until we got there. It was a park I added on since it was “in the neighborhood.” Zion was a different experience; mountain hiking versus canyon hiking.

zionWe arrived at Zion in the early afternoon and headed straight for the visitor’s center. Let’s just say that the visitor center is nowhere near the east entrance of the park. You enter the park, go through a short tunnel, and then go through another mile long tunnel. This is the darkest tunnel I have ever been in. Built in 1930, there are no lights in the tunnel. There are a couple of “windows”, but it is dark. Also, traffic occasionally gets held up because the tunnel is narrow. Traffic has to be stopped to let oversized vehicles (RVs) through. Then you drive down the mountain, switchback city. It is very nervewrecking. Poor Bill had to do this drive five times, including once at night. But as passengers, Claudia and I enjoyed the view. Our plan for the afternoon was to hike the Emerald Pools Trail. It was a nice, moderate hike. We ended up going twice the distance we planned due to our excitement and going out of the order we mapped. But it was a nice day and we didn’t mind the extra activity. We ate dinner in Springdale, the town right outside of the south entrance (very cute town). The park and town have a great shuttle system from town to the park, and you have to shuttle most places in the park.

wigglesFriday was the day of our big hike. We were on the trail by 10am and the plan was to hike up to Angels Landing. Well, from the start I did not have it. I hadn’t had as hearty a breakfast as I had before other hikes and I was feeling every ounce of water I carried in my pack. I off-loaded a bottle of water to Bill, took a goo pack, and ate some trail mix. After a short break, I gave it another go. Those three things worked a miracle and the hike turned enjoyable. It was beautiful. Refridgerator Canyon was gorgeous. And then we hit Walter’s Wiggles, a series of about 10 switchbacks. They weren’t as bad as they looked, or maybe it was the we stopped frequently for pictures. At the top of the wiggles was Scouts Lookout and we took a snack break. The plan was to continue on another half mile to Angels Landing.

angelslandingI should have taken the hint when the sign up for Angels Landing said “Strenuous hike. Do not attempt if you have a fear of heights or if it is wet or dark.” I have a fear of heights but it had really not been a problem. Well, they were right about the fear of heights on this trail. This part of the trail was insane. I felt like I was walking on the side of the mountain, which I actually was. There were chains so you could have a hand hold, but it was precarious. There was a point at the end of one section where it took all my upper body strength to get across and that scared me. I made it to a “landing” and thought I was at the top, but then I looked ahead and saw the rest of the trail. I told Bill and Claudia I wasn’t going another step further and to have fun. The rest of the hike took them about an hour roundtrip. I was ready to get off the mountain by the time they got back. After waiting an hour, I had worked up a good amount of fear for my short trip back to Scouts Lookout. When I made it back, I burst into tears. I was so unbelievably relieved to have made it back alive. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared. Once I calmed down, the rest of the hike was wonderful.

elkWe finished hiking in the early afternoon and we headed to Springdale and our favorite dining establishment, the Pioneer Lodge. I believe we ate all our meals at the Pioneer Lodge. After refueling, we fed some elk at a domesticated elk farm. They were so sweet and they have big tongues. I felt like a little kid, I was so happy to be feeding them. (The whole trip I had been dying to see an elk.) I even got to pet their noses. We also did a little souvenir shopping. After that we went back to our hotel where we relaxed and packed for our trip home. We had been hoping to do a short hike on Saturday morning, but couldn’t fit it in. As it was, we had to leave by 8am for the three hour drive back to Vegas. We caught our flight home and vacation was over. (Sadness.)

More pictures can be viewed at our gallery. Overall, it was a fantastic trip. I did things I had never done, I pushed myself physically and mentally, and I addressed some fears (though I can’t say I conquered them). I saw really beautiful things and I made great memories with my husband and friend. In looking back at the whole trip, the only things that I could have improved upon were to have had more time and to have stayed in Springdale. This was a really great vacation.


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Did You Miss Me?

April 10, 2007

Did you even notice I was gone, because I know I’ve been quiet in March?  But for the last 11 days I was on vacation, and then recovering from vacation.  My husband, friend and I went on a whirlwind tour of Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.  What an amazing trip!  Vegas was fun, fun, fun. We had two full days in Vegas - Friday and Saturday. The Cubs were in town so we saw their last spring training game.  We saw Legends In Concert, a great celebrity impersonator show.  And the rest of our time was spent on a wildlife tour:  big cats and dolphins at the Mirage, butterflies at the Bellagio, flamingos and turtles at the Flamingo, lion cubs at the MGM Grand, and sharks, fishes, and other sea creatures at Mandalay Bay.  This was a kid-friendly activity for those of you with little ones.  And of course we gambled a little bit.

gcsunsetOn Sunday we left early for the Grand Canyon.  Wow.  It is huge.  I knew it was huge from flying over it, but when you actually stand there you feel pretty insignificant.  Amazing.  We hiked part of the Rim Trail after we arrived on Sunday, and then hung around to see the sunset.  On Monday morning, we woke up to see the canyon at sunrise.  The change in colors of the canyon and the sky were fantastic.  After a hearty breakfast, we hiked the Bright Angel Trail down to 3 Mile Resthouse, a descent of approximately 2000 feet over 3 miles.  And then we hiked up.  It was tough.  I did pretty well up to 1.5 Mile Resthouse.  From about mile 1.5 to .5 I think I stopped at every switchback.  Finally I turned a corner and could see the lodge and I knew I would make it and I did the last half mile without stopping.  That might have also been about the time my goo pack kicked in.  But I did it, in 5 hours and 52 minutes (including breaks), and it was a feeling of accomplishment.  We rested for a little bit and got up to take a ranger led walk to view the canyon by the light of a full moon.  Tuesday we stopped to see the Watchtower and then started our drive to Bryce Canyon.

brycecanyonBryce Canyon was spectacular.  Completely different from the Grand Canyon.  We saw Bryce at sunset (Tuesday night), by the light of the full moon (Tuesday night, after we did laundry), and sunrise (Wednesday morning).  If we hadn’t seen the sign for the full moon walk at the Grand Canyon, we never would have thought to take in the view at either park, and was it something to see.  I was surprised by how much I could see, and it was like having the park to ourselves.  At Bryce, we really did have things to ourselves since we did the walk on our own, without a ranger, and I was very relieved we made it back to the car without having met up with a mountain lion.  After sunrise, we decided to take a spontaneous hike on the Rim Trail from Inspiration Point to Bryce Point.  Not the brighest move since we hadn’t eaten breakfast (or anything, for that matter) and we left our packs (with water and food) in the car.  After our 3.2 mile excursion (1.5 hours), we ate a hearty breakfast and prepared ourselves for our planned hike of the Navajo Trail to the Queens Garden Trail to the Rim Trail.

navajotrailGood thing we read our tour book because we knew to descend the steeper Navajo Trail and come back on the easier Queens Garden Trail.  Going down the switchbacks on the Navajo Trail, we were happy to know we didn’t have to dread them on the way back.  A portion of the Navajo Trail was closed due to a rock slide and we broke about seven different regulations to hike and see it.  Obviously we don’t recommend doing this, but the pictures do not do it justice.  The “rocks” were at least six feet tall and six feet wide.  It was nature having her way, but a shame because it blocked a very cool part of the trail.  We doubled back and caught the Queens Garden Trail.  Overall, it was a wonderful hike, actually walking among the hoodoos.  The trip back up to the rim was a comfortably challenging hike.  The total excursion took us a little less than 3 hours, including breaks.

This brings us to Thursday, which I will continue with in my next post. 


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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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