Finding Echo’s sister…what a small world

I found Echo’s sister ūüėÄ

What were the chances?? The other day someone liked Echo’s photo on Instagram and since I saw she had a puppy on her profile picture too, I looked at the photo. The puppy on the picture looked just like Echo, I was even confused for a split second thinking how did my dog get on her account?

So I messaged her and said that I know there is a very slim chance for this, but could those two dogs be related? I have seen lots of dogs from the same breed but none of them looked exactly like Echo. Her dog looked kind of young too, so who knows…things happen. She messaged me back asking where I got Echo from and it turned out that we both got our dogs from the same place in California. Then she told me her birthday and that is the exact same day when Echo was born. ūüėÄ So it turns out they are from the same litter.

Next time we are in California, we will meet and let the puppies hang out for a while. I wonder if they will recognize each other based on smell maybe? Or can they remember? The last time they saw each other they were younger than 4 months so I really don’t know how this works, but I hope they will have a great play date and will enjoy each other’s company when they meet.

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Echo is on the left ūüôā

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Knocking off two new places from the bucket list…

Welcome to the gorgeous Zion and Bryce Canyons!

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Echo, Ben and I left to visit Zion Friday morning. Originally we were going to leave on Thursday but I came down with a cold on Wednesday and had a fever so decided to take Thursday slow. I have been sick for almost two weeks, I lost my voice and was struggling with a pretty bad cough but Wednesday (of course, right before the planned trip) my body decided to have a fever too. I have never been to Zion and Bryce Canyon and they have been on my bucket list for a long time, so I was pretty dedicated to go. No fever was going to stop me. (maybe a little bit, but not really)

tom jouiceThursday morning I woke up pretty weak, but with no ¬†fever so that was a great sign. I poured myself a large glass of tomato juice ‚Äėcuz vitamins! Not a big fan of tomato juice but I have moments when it feels great to sip on a cold glass of it.

I took the day very easy, Ben was kind enough to make me breakfast, lunch and later dinner. I was just laying around, falling in and out of sleep, getting food served to me all day‚Ķjust like a princess.¬†ūüėÄ

That night we realized if we want to leave early enough in the morning, we have to start getting our thoughts together. We packed our suitcase and went to Sprouts to get some healthy snacks for the road. It is very easy to fall off the diet wagon when on a road trip. During long rides there is only so much to do and once you are done with playing games, reading, singing, the only things is left is snacking. Gas station snacks are delicious but not always the healthier choices so we wanted to be prepared for both the way there and back.

We got a bag of popcorn, plantain and apple chips, granola bars, kombucha, gummy squares and banana-coconut bites. I also prepared some veggies and fruits, looking at these now, I don‚Äôt know what were we thinking. Taking so much food for two haha, we brought back some of it¬†ūüėÄ

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Friday morning we left around 7:15am. Driving through Arizona can get a little boring after a while but we ended up going through some high elevation areas where we ran into very nice forestry areas with lots of trees and green…as you can see on the pictures…

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Echo is like: Guys?! Halo? Where are all the trees?

 

But putting the joke to the side, there are areas like that in Arizona, they exist, but I kind of dropped the ball on taking pictures about them…sorry…I guess now it must stay just a myth :)

I was zoning out a little bit towards the end of the drive but as soon as we arrived to the ‚ÄúZion National Park‚ÄĚ sign my eyes popped open.

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At the entrance we got a year pass to all national parks in the United States. It is definitely worth it, visiting Zion and Bryce would have came out to the same price and we are planning to see Yosemite and the Grand Canyon too this year so baaamm….doing math just saved us money. Math is good. (No this statement was not sponsored by Ben. It was my own, which kind of scares me, I might be spending too much time around him)

After going through the main entrance there is a 12 mile gorgeous drive to the visitor center. I couldn’t stop taking pictures but there were also times when I just started out the window and forgot that I even had my camera in my hands. We were driving through tunnels while spiral-ing our way down to the bottom of the mountain.

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Finding parking at the visitor center was a failed attempt, apparently everyone wanted to see Zion that same exact day so we parked outside of the park, approximately 5 minutes walk away. It was a perfectly fine parking, and we didn’t have to fight people for a spot.

From the visitor center we headed to the only pet friendly trail. Pa’rus is about a 3 mile long trail along the Virgin river with wonderful scenery and very friendly people coming towards you. You cross the river back and forth many times along your walk which caused Echo some serious stress at the beginning.

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Fun Facts about Zion from nileguide.com:

  1. Zion is Hebrew and it means a place of peace and relaxation
  2. Zion has over 900 species of plant groupings
  3. Kolob Arch in Zion’s backcountry is one of the word’s largest freestanding natural arches
  4. Humans have been around Zion Canyon for at least 8,000 years
  5. The Olympic Torch passed through Zion on its way to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games

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The trail is not a loop, it kind of just ends after a while and turns into a road so we turned around and walked back. Once Echo realized we are headed back he decided to forget everything he learned about walking on a leash and tried to walk ahead of us while chocking himself. It was very warm and no matter how many times we stopped to give him water he just didn’t care about any of that at all. So I started jugging next to him and this way I could keep up with him without him chocking on the leash…

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This little crazy gave me a serious work out. When we got back to the visitor center and Ben caught up with us, we sat down to relax for a little bit. We both got a little sun burnt (we left the sun screen in the car) and our legs were a little tired so before we made our way over to Bryce Canyon we took a little break, had some snacks and waited till Echo had about 17 cups of water.

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Are we there yet?

Driving over to Bryce Canyon was pretty quick, only about an hour and a half which makes it even more amazing to think about how close these places are to each other yet they are so completely different.

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Looking over the canyon, just staring into the nothing it is very easy to space out. In fact, spacing out over gorgeous natural views has became my new favorite thing to do. Just get there, space out …done. Bryce canyon reminds me of a city made out stone…and this color…I didn’t even have to use filter. Perfection.

Again, with Echo there was only one trail we could go on, from Sunset point to Sunrise point‚Ķbut we still saw everything we needed to. Hiking it would be amazing, maybe another day, but to be honest the people coming up from the hiking trail looked pretty exhausted so I was actually very happy with what we were doing¬†ūüėÄ

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There were benches along the trail. We stopped by one of them to rest our feet a little bit and zone out :) And then I realized I can take panorama photos. YAY!!!! (Echo still has to learn how to zone out, he kept interrupting our zoning out process)

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Fun facts about Bryce Canyon from nileguide.com

  1. Water, ice, and gravity are the natural forces that formed the geological ‚Äúhoodoos‚ÄĚ that make Bryce Canyon unique
  2. This park is named after Ebenezer Bryce, who started ranching the area in 1875. Upon showing the canyons to visitors, he is said to have remarked, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a hell of a place to lose a cow.‚Ä̬†ūüėĬ†ūüėĬ†ūüėÄ
  3. On a clear day, visibility from Bryce Canyon can exceed 100 miles
  4. Lions and foxes and bears, oh my! Foxes, mountain lions, and black bears inhabit Bryce Canyon, although they are rarely seen
  5. Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon. It’s actually a natural amphitheater

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Around sunset it started to become very cold and windy so we said our goodbyes to the canyon and headed to the hotel. We got a hotel room a little bit further away because the next day we wanted to check out Dixie National Forest so we kind of drove through it to drive back the next day…kind of miscalculated the situation there. Oh well, the scenery was fantastic and made up for the extra miles. After settling into our hotel room, we went to eat dinner. Ben found a cute little place close to the university campus. It is called the Pastry Pub.

It was a little bit empty when we arrived but at ordering the guy said they were out of a bunch of things because it was so busy all day…also finding a hotel was not easy either, almost every place in the are was full for the weekend because of some kind of convention. Everyone was so nice at the place we ordered and then just got quiet for a couple minutes. We were tired from walking all over the place.

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Since they had pastries we decided to order a dessert, which was of course a carrot cake. We agreed that from now on anywhere new we go to, we will try that city’s or country’s carrot cake! This blog is going to turn out to be a carrot cake judging site.

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After dinner we went back to the hotel and passed out. I wanted to go to the pool and hot tub so so badly but I was too lazy to walk down there…haha

Well, hope you enjoyed my little report on these two amazing places and our Friday. Now I got to cross out two more things from my bucket list. Yay!

To all the times Echo was busted for being sneaky…

So, I am just saying this to the people that might not know yet, but Echo is our little puppy. He is a 6 month old cockapoo and we got him in California. He is a very intelligent, super sweet and playful young man (dog), but he is also naughty as hell.

He likes to test his limits, I guess he is in that age, and figure out how far he can go, before we flip out. He knows exactly what is right and wrong; for example when we turn the other way he picks up a shoe and takes it with him, but as soon as we turn back he drops it,¬†and looks the other way and casually keeps walking. We look at him, and he looks back at us like: I have absolutely no idea how that shoe got there…I have nothing to do with it, I was sitting here, on the other side of the room, the entire time. You might wanna ask the neighbors…

Right!

I am slightly impressed with his sneakiness so it is hard to keep a straight face when he does something like that. There were times when he was so darn cute that I just had to take a picture of him. I know this kind of ruins the learning process for him…maybe…I don’t know, but I had to….

This is to the time that¬†Echo tried to sneak out from his crate, but got stuck in the middle and couldn’t go back or forward…

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These are¬†to the times when Echo stole my shoe and then realized I saw him so he decided to kick his legs back and act like he has been just chilling the whole time…

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This is¬†to the time when he stole a rug and was chewing on it and when we looked over he put his head down and pretended to be asleep…

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This is¬†to the time when he was chewing on my hair and when I wanted to take a picture of him he put his head down and put an innocent look on his face…

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This is¬†to the time when Echo started chewing on Ben’s shoelace and got caught but the lace got stuck between his teeth so he couldn’t drop it…

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This is to the time when he thought my bag tasted delicious but I walked around the corner and he looked me, like: What? I am just chilling over here

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So this is Echo…haha We love him very much, he is a character for sure. We got him when he was 4 months old and in the past 2 months he travelled with us to California twice, to Milwaukee, Chicago, Nashville, and Oklahoma.

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OHM…are we there yet?

Let’s tour The Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music…

When I told people that Ben and I are about to go and check out Nashville, I received a “what did you just say?!” look¬†from most of them…can’t even blame them…neither Ben nor I am big fans of country music, but luckily we are both interested in seeing new places and learning about history. I think that even if you are not a country music fan, you should visit Nashville once and get a feeling of the vibe of the city.

We decided to spend New Year’s Eve there and we also gave ourselves a couple days to look around before.

I will just go ahead and admit the fact that I became¬†interested in Nashville and country music, after watching the TV show called Nashville. (Don’t judge!) I really enjoy some of the ABC drama series, this one particularly. I fell in love with the actors, their stories, and I actually started enjoying the music itself as well.

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This christmas we decided to take a road trip to visit family and then take some time to go and see new places. We ended up picking Nashville, which was “only” 8 hours out of our way! It was a pretty intense time to visit, most streets in downtown were closed for the New Year’s Eve event, which included free concerts, food trucks on the road, and lots of people around. It was very fun, and I understand this is not what Nashville normally is, but in our memories that will always be part of it ūüėÄ We enjoyed how much music was around us, how many musical buildings, hall of fame, museums and culture surrounded us and everything was available right at downtown in a walking distance.

I could talk about Nashville for hours, but I will grab a little peace of history out and talk about our visit to the Ryman Auditorium, which is known as the mother church of country music. Pretty important one if you ask me ūüėĬ†The Ryman has hosted all the good lookin’ cowboy musicians, even the not so good looking ones, gave place to hundreds of concerts, and provided a cultural center for the people throughout the years.

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We chose the “self-touring” option to visit the auditorium, which was $20/person. After entering the building, we got guided up to the second floor (guided….self-touring…I will let that sink in…:D ), where we all got to watch a movie, about the history of The Ryman. It was literally the coolest presentation we have ever seen, which kind of set our mood for the rest of the tour. They say that the story of the building is so powerful and emotional that they needed an extraordinary way to present it to the visitors…well they kind of nailed that one! Unfortunately, it was prohibited to take pictures or video during the presentation (which makes sense), but¬†here is a little sneak peak from YouTube to get an idea:¬†Soul of Nashville¬†.

The story of the building – Soul of Nashville- was told by a hologram -kind of lady, Lula Naff, who used to be the manager and promoter of the building. The theater had multiple projectors and sound system hanging off the walls so they could use special effects and create a multidimensional presentation for the audience. It was such a wonderful and innovative (and unexpected) way to do it, that it kind of caught us off guard, but I have never seen 100 people be this interested in a history presentation before. There is a chance that none of us blinked for 20 minutes, just in case we would miss something.

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During the presentation we learned about the 125 year old history (how cute :D) and the legendary performances that came to life in the auditorium.¬†Lula Naff, was a very strong lady, and kind of undeservedly forgotten by our¬†society, who became the manager of the Ryman, even before women had the right to vote. She invited¬†the best¬†performers and various Broadway shows¬†to the Ryman such as¬†Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, ‚ÄúGuys and Dolls,‚ÄĚ and many more. She managed to bring the Ryman back to life, after getting¬†shut down for being too old (125 years, too old, haha) and dangerous…She created a fantastic gathering and cultural place for the people who enjoyed music and comedy.

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After the presentation we got to self-tour the building, check out the posters on the walls, see the auditorium and the stage, sit down and enjoy the squeaking noise of the benches. The braver and more talented ones got a chance to go and sing in the recording studio, while the less talented ones walked around and looked at the costume exhibition that had a pretty solid collection of the performing singers’ outfits. You can tell which category I am in based on all the following costume pictures ūüėÄ ūüėÄ

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The Ryman – not by accident – is #1 on the “Things to do in Nashville” list.

We had a fantastic time seeing history evolve, listening some good old country music, and getting to know more performers. It was a well invested $20 and I encourage everyone to go there once and check it out!!!! ūüėÄ

 

 

 

Echo was a good boy this year so Santa got him some delicious snacks…European Style

December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day!!! Best day ever as a child! Growing up we always grabbed our favorite boots the night before, cleaned them, and put them by the door so over night while we are asleep Santa can pack those boots with delicious snacks…this of course if we were good that year…if we were bad then instead of sweets we got a “virgacs” (no idea what this is in English) from the Krampus…which is the¬†mean to Santa’s nice.

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“Virgacs” for the naughty ones

So Echo, being a good boy in all his 5 months of being alive, he got some delicious treats from Santa. He was kind of getting impatient while I was taking the picture so he started “opening” the bag himself ūüėÄ He is loving his new chicken&cheese treats!

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Hope everyone had a good December 6th!!!!

 

San Diego Thanksgiving Adventure and Our First Turkey Meal Attempt

Weeeeeeeee road trip again. Ben, Echo, and I packed up the car and took off to San Diego for Thanksgiving. This dog is only 4.5 months old and has been in California more than I have …slight over exaggeration… but he has been adventuring a lot since he entered our little family which I am very excited about…he better get used to it ūüėÄ

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Look at his little nose and mouth…so adorable

Wednesday night we had puppy class, so we couldn’t get on the road until 7 pm. The trip took us almost 8 hours, so we were a little tired by the time we got to Pierre’s (Ben’s best friend) house…The driving part wasn’t too bad, we helped each other out, when Ben was driving I took a nap and then he took one when it was my turn to drive…Echo’s¬†contribution to the trip was that he did not get car sick which was huge!

We saw this sign on the highway. I am glad I got such a “good” picture of it so I can share it with you all ūüėÄ

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“Drinking and driving go together like peas and guac”

Thought it was a very clever sign…sorry about the terrible quality…:)

It was nice to arrive to San Diego and give Pierre a big hug! We talked for a little bit but then¬†passed out…we had a pretty challenging day ahead of us!

THURSDAY: Turkey Day/Thanksgiving!

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Let’s just start with the fact that none of us has prepared Thanksgiving meals before so we were expecting some major kitchen crisis, burnt turkey and unrecognizable stuffing outcome…

We started the morning by writing a grocery list. Pierre was looking up recipes and Ben was writing down the necessary ingredients that we had to get at the grocery store.

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Apple Pie backup, if the apple pie doesn’t turn out well?? ūüėÄ (Later we realized¬†we had a pro pie maker in the team)

Pierre got a 14 lbs ( 6.35kg) turkey earlier that week so we just had to buy¬†stuff for the side dishes…

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Here is the list of what we were planning on preparing with lots of confidence:

  • Turkey (Chef Pierre took care of this like a boss)
  • Mashed and sweet potatoes
  • Stuffing ( We cheated a little with this one and got a boxed version…muaha…but I still had to add water, onions, and butter to the mix so there was a chance that something was gonna go wrong)
  • Biscuits
  • Corn bread
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Green bean Casserole
  • Gravy
  • Apple Pie with vanilla ice cream

Pretty solid list, especially going into it not having the slightest clue what we were doing … Pierre’s friend, Perla, joined us later during the day, luckily she is a pro green bean casserole and pie (!!!) maker so we were set for at least one good meal and dessert…

We put everything out on the table and tried to organize the ingredients and what order we were going to with…

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Organized chaos

Pierre prepared the turkey! Let’s be honest he had the most pressure of us all, but he did great!

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The turkey hat power helped him out

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Ben took care of the cranberry sauce…

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I took care of the stuffing…

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And Echo was wondering what the heck was going on…plus he took care of the backyard digging some holes just for fun…:/

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This stove has never worked this hard in its entire life before…

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Cooking together was so much fun and we did better than we expected. There were no major crisis situations and the fire alarm only went on once!! ūüėÄ We were pretty busy though for a couple hours, I can’t even imagine how can anyone do this alone. All my respect!

And a quick 5 and a half hours later we had:

A beautiful turkey

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Some delicious cranberry sauce

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Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, biscuits, corn bread, and gravy…

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And some amazing company!

I tried to eat a little but it turned out to be a little more…

Very proper way of sitting

No need to mention the food-coma we were in for the rest of the day, had a hard time functioning, breathing and getting off the couch but it was so worth it…

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Hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving time with family and friends!!! 

Now it is time to get back into the gym ūüėÄ