From America to Italy in 15 minutes

Well kind of. My friend and I went to the local university where the Hotel and Restaurant Management students had to cook a meal and people could come in and grade their presentations, service, and of course, the meal itself. The theme of the day was Pasta Palooza, meaning that approximately for an hour we traveled to Italy to get lost in some delicious pasta meal, occasionally some desserts and drinks…

IMG_5453

I have been watching some cooking shows lately, for example the Great British Baking Show and the Worst Cooks of America. One is great for learning, the other is great for confidence boost-ing. I trust you will know which is which. (But putting the joke aside, the Worst Cooks in America is great for learning too, because you learn with the contestants along the way). Also, you learn how to judge food, what to look for and how to be super-duper (wow, I have never said or wrote this word before) picky about every little darn detail that you never even realized mattered before. I went to the tasting today with such high hopes for my newly acquired talent of judging food and people to the fullest and I am not gonna lie, when I left I was pretty disappointed in myself. My unconditional love for food over powered the newly graduated food-judge inside of me and no matter what I tasted, I was just happy. I didn’t need much. I just needed food…which kind of sums up my entire life.

My friend said it right: You have to judge them a little bit, so they can get better and improve, but to me all the food was delicious.

When we arrived we signed in and received 8 separate grading cards (for all 8 student tables) and an Italian “passport”. Each table represented a different city and when we tried their food, we got a food stamp in our passport, representing our little travels through the country…and maybe the fact that they were scared of us getting seconds 😀 Well whatever it was, focusing on the big picture, I think the idea is so darn cute that it makes me wanna squeeze the person who came up with it.

IMG_5451

First Stop: ROME

Rome was waiting for us with a wonderfully decorated table, big smiles and some delicious arrabiatta reginette with burrata and basil. Don’t worry, I have no idea what those words are either. I know “basil” and the word “with” and that is all, but it was ‘lecious and it had some cream cheese topping on it that was also very yummy and creamy (hence cream cheese…wow, I am such a great food critique) We got cream soda with the meal, it was pink, very creamy and super sweet. That was not my favorite, I just can’t get used to cream sodas…

IMG_5455

IMG_5456

After Rome we went to SOUTH TIROL

Soccer themed table was pretty busy when we got there, and since they made the food right in front of us, nice and fresh, we had to wait a little bit.

IMG_5460

The place was bumping, everybody wanted free food and felt like judging students. Dangerous combination.

IMG_5459

The only thing I kind of found weird here was the bowl they gave us, since the amounts were tiny, it kind of looked weird to hold on to a giant bowl but honestly who cares? Really! Bacon!!!!

IMG_5461

Leaving South Tirol we ended up in CAPRI

The beach themed table hit close to my heart. I love to be on the beach in the morning and watch the sun rise while sitting in quiet, looking at the water and thinking without any distractions. It is the BEST. Even though, I talked to a friend about this before, but the ocean and that huge amount of water, kind of scare the heck out of me, I am still glued to the view and the sound of the waves. Please notice all the blue cream soda on the table with whipped cream I am guessing…I didn’t even risk getting one.

IMG_5463

In Capri we got some pesto gnocchi caprese salad. My only problem with this one was, that I inhaled it in 2 seconds…wish I could have grabbed seconds…so good! I just love gnocchi so so much! ♥

IMG_5462

After Capri we visited the famous vineyards of TUSCANY

We were hoping to get some wine out of the deal, but then realized that it is 1 pm and we are on a university campus and this is a class… Here the students prepared some bite sized garlic bread and parmesan pesto tortellini that were actually pretty refreshing to eat. It was a nice little change.

IMG_5464

The cold apple cider drink felt great!

IMG_5466

Next stop: LAZIO

Lazio was mine themed in respect of all the men who have been grinding their butt off in the mines. Their ladies used to wait for them to get home with a delicious bowl of pasta carbonara with pancetta. The table decoration itself deserves an A.

IMG_5467

What a pretty presentation…

IMG_5468

From the mines to MOLISE

IMG_5470

Chitarra lamb and sweet pepper ragu from the southern Italian region…and here we also got some delicious pie that unfortunately, I forgot what it was but it was AMAZING!

Image
This is how they cut the pasta into such perfect stripes

IMG_5472

Leaving Molise we stopped by another ROME
(I understand how this can be confusing)

IMG_5478

Fettuccini with classic alfredo sauce which was apparently made to ease Alfredo di Lelio’s wife’s morning sicknesses during her pregnancy.
At this point of the visit the buttons on my pants were begging to get some outside help to hold my pants together and we still had 1 other table to visit…

IMG_5475

For dessert we got some peach and strawberry

IMG_5477

IMG_5476

Last but not least we finally arrived to NAPLES
(I’ll make him a lasagna he can’t refuse!”)

The Godfather himself welcomed us to the family while he put down the cat face stamp on our made up passport.

IMG_5481

IMG_5480

The gigantic amount of lasagna did not help my pants situation but how could I go against the Godfather and say no thank you…?!

We got vegetable lasagna rollups with stuffed mushrooms on top. Damn.
They served plain soda water with the meal, and I have to admit they got it right. That is exactly what we needed after so much food.

IMG_5482

We collected all of our stamps in our passport so we were ready to get back to reality again, even though it was hard to walk after.

IMG_5483

 

  1. What is your favorite Italian meal?
  2. Which table did you like the most?
Advertisements

Weekends are for recharging, we made sure we got the most out of it

Saturday Echo woke up at 8:30 in the morning…I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had a quick little talk with him and we agreed that everyone stays in bed until 9. He was luckily on board with that.

At 9 I put some work out clothes on and we I went for a mile long morning walk. It was gorgeous outside, we both loved it. Echo was sniffing around, picking up rocks, and enjoying the warmth.

IMG_5142

His leash is falling apart. He got ahold of it during a road trip and we didn’t notice that he chewed half of it up on the back seat. It is my fault, I did not hide it well enough and even though he is not supposed to chew stuff just because he is bored, I should have been more careful.

After the walk I dropped off Echo at home, fed him and I went down to the gym. My new favorite gym equipment is the stationary bike.  I always make sure to do 15 minutes on it, either before work out or after. I never tried it before because I always thought I would just sit down and be very slow and lazy but I realized how hard it can be if you push yourself to the max for a couple minutes. It gave my legs a really good work out and I am still sore, even a couple days after.

sat1

After work out I went home and found Ben awake in the living room. Echo was kind enough to wake him up too, he was ready to start the weekend and didn’t understand why would we want to sleep in.

We were all starving and have been craving some good old breakfast, so I showered quick and we started cooking. On Wednesday we got turkey bacon, whole wheat waffles and a dozen eggs…we have been waiting for this breakfast for a very long time. I made scrambled eggs, waffles and crispy bacon, while Ben made some hash browns. His project was a little bit more time consuming and complicated….breakfast turned out pretty nice. sat2

After breakfast we laid down and hang out for a while. Ben had to go teach tennis and he took Echo with him. I don’t know if other puppy owners feel the same way, but it felt so nice to be in the house and be able to clean without Echo running miles around me. Of course, I missed him 10 minutes right after but at the same time, it was so much easier to clean the house, do laundry and do all the dishes…By the time Ben and Echo got home, everything was nice and clean!

Saturday night we went for a walk, relaxed and played a couple rounds of cribbage. I lost to Ben again, even though I was in the lead for a long time…almost until the very last turn. So disappointing but I am starting to accept my fate. We made a pasta, pork and asparagus dinner :)

IMG_5129

Sunday was Echo’s 9 month birthday! We woke up and Ben made breakfast while I did some more laundry and folding. Folding is my least favorite part of doing laundry… But it had to be done so I tried to make it fun. Whenever I am folding laundry and all of a sudden it is too calm and quiet around me, I know Echo took off with a sock or underwear. I was right, this time too, so I chased him around for a while, until he got tired…

Ben had to go to work for an hour and while he was working, Echo and I went to buy a new leash, which was way over due, then we walked and enjoyed the sun until Ben came back. Then we went to PetSmart and got Echo a birthday present, a new crate! He outgrew his old one unfortunately. I wish he stayed as small as when I first met him, but time flies. We came home and put his crate together. He really enjoyed getting to know his new little safe spot…and of course, he helped a lot.

sut1

As soon as we were done with the crate, our friend Jordan picked us up and we went for a hike…well, we thought we were just gonna go for a walk in the meadow but the roads going up to the meadow were still closed because of the winter months so our little trip turned out to be a 6 mile hike! It was lots of fun and it was absolutely worth it!

This was our view on the way up! At least we had a good excuse to stop sometimes and rest…such a beautiful view 😀

IMG_5148

sun2 IMG_5219 sun6 sun5 sun3
IMG_5185

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

 

To Create a better me. Chapter 2/12 -How I fought back against my coffee addiction

Some says coffee is good for you, some says it is terrible for you. I am definitely one who says coffee is great for me…for my soul at least. I am  addicted to the taste and definitely I am addicted to the process of making coffee.

IMG_4456
I tried to be artsy with this picture, it did not work out.

 

I love the smell that spreads around the house when I make coffee at home. I love to grab my little mug and sit down on the couch, while reading, working on the blog, watching TV…whatever…but slowly sipping on a warm cup of coffee. It is soooo great.

IMG_4366

Especially when I am back home in Hungary, my dad usually makes coffee for my mom, sister, and I in the morning and comes upstairs to wake us up with a mug of freshly made coffee. Then we just sit in bed and talk …. sometimes for hours, sometimes for just couple minutes, but those times are always very valuable family times. It is the best ever. I drink my coffee with honey and a hint of creamer or if creamer is not available I use almond milk.

When I buy coffee in coffee shops though, I like the sugary, sweet, delicious – delicious lattes and mochas … which is a problem. So much added sugar, very little actual coffee. I know it is bad, I need to stop doing that or at least minimize those times…and this is how we arrive to my February challenge.

IMG_4941
I tried to be artsy here too, this one worked out pretty well

Like I mentioned in my previous blog, How I fought back against my chocolate addiction, this year I am doing something new each month. Something that is good for my mind, for my body, and for my soul. In January, I did not eat chocolate at all, which helped me lose weight, and helped me decrease my chocolate cravings. I guess this means it was good for my body, but was it good for my mind? Sometimes I felt like I was going to lose it, so it is questionable… But back to the point:

In February, I did not drink coffee.

I started drinking a lot more green tea, instead of all the lattes and it not only helped my weight loss, but it was easy on my wallet too. But damn it was hard… I missed the process of making coffee, I missed the taste and I missed my little coffee mug…ha…I can’t use that mug for tea or orange juice or milk…nono…that little mug is designated for only coffee drinking.

What changed?

  1. I lost weight! – 3 pounds which I believe is the result of drinking less sugary coffees. I also worked out, but not more than usually and did not change my eating habits either. So I would like to think that is the reason…
  2. Saved money!  – Every time I said…if it wasn’t for the challenge, now I would get a coffee, I wrote down $4 in my phone…turnes out in a month that saved me $56…eeek

What I learned…

  1. When ordering coffee at coffee shops, ask for sugar free options
  2. Do not go to coffee shops too often. I set my monthly coffee shop budget for $15…must stay under that price. No exceptions.
  3. I really do enjoy coffee and I am definitely going back to my home made morning ritual
  4. I love green tea and white tea

So this is the conclusion I got out of my February challenge. These challenges are nice because they make me realize things I haven’t realized before and make me change towards a better and smarter ($56??? What the heck was I thinking) me.

Image-1

Questions from me to you:

  1. What is your relationship with coffee?
  2. Do you prefer coffee or tea?
  3. How do you drink your coffee?

 

Finding Echo’s sister…what a small world

I found Echo’s sister 😀

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. 😀 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.

calandec

Echo is on the left 🙂

How to save $$ each month that you can put towards traveling…

There always comes a time when I feel like I have to organize my life a little bit. That includes me cleaning out the computer’s desktop, deleting all my un-read emails, sorting them out into folders and realizing how much unnecessary sites I am getting messages from that cluster my mail box. A couple months ago when I was on a roll organizing I decided to start writing down my expenses to see where and how could I save some extra money. During the months, this is what I learned from my notes. I decided to share them because they might be able to help you as well!

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  1. Record your expenses (for a month or so) to see what are those extras that you can easily cut out of your life. Prioritize what is really important to you and what is not so much.Writing down what my expenses were for two months helped me a lot to figure out where a chunk of my money went. Yes, it gets a little tedious and can be annoying but it really is worth the effort. There are many different phone apps (The best 7 apps according to Daily Worth) and websites ( The 10 best and free online budgeting tools according to Good Financial Cents) where you can record your expenses! Of course, if you don’t want to deal with these, you can use a plain piece of paper or an Excel sheet can do the magic too. I used a very bogus little piece of paper, all I wanted to see was how much the unnecessary numbers get up to…turns out, quite a lot.IMG_5035
  2. Create a savings account and put 10-15% of your paycheck towards it. If you can’t do 10-15%, then go with whatever you feel like you can do but make sure to commit to it! It might be a little amount but they will add up in the long run and you will always have a little money to rely on if something comes up. 

    You might be going: duuuh, a savings account! Thanks for the tip genius but I know how I thought about this when I was younger. I kept saying I will do it, it can’t be as important, and I also took money off of it very often, in fact so often that the bank changed it back to a checking account. Eek. Well in this case, there is no point to having a savings account. Make sure to put an amount to the side that you can live without with no problem and you don’t run out of money by the end of the month. Even if that money is a tiny amount, don’t worry about it, it will add up!

  3. Phone bills

    I heard some people got rid off their smart phones, to save money. To me that is a little extreme. I am way too attached to my smart phone because that is the only device that keeps me in touch with my family and friends back in Hungary throughout the day; Viber, Skype, iMessage, it would be hard to do without those. I am on a plan with my friends and had a contract of $50/month. The contract expired after two years, but since I took good care of my phone (I got a Lifeproof case that is pretty pricey but saved my phone million times, therefore saved me hundreds of dollars), instead of upgrading, I kept my current phone. There is not one scratch on it and it works perfectly fine but my monthly bill went down from $50 to $32. That is $18 savings each month. That might not seem like a whole lot, but it is something!

  4. Coffee and tea

    Buying coffee or tea in a shop every day can cost you a LOT! If we count with $3 on average, and 5 days a week that would equal to $60 A MONTH!!! But if you must pay a visit to Starbucks every day, make sure to get the phone app and take advantage of your discounts and occasional free coffee coupons.

    Image-1

    I have a friend whose high school economic teacher pointed out two girls from the class because they went to class with a Starbucks drink every single day. They spend on average $5 a day on fancy frappes and mochas. The teacher added it up and it turned out that with the money they spent on Starbucks coffee during the school year they could have bought a roundtrip flight ticket to Europe. That is a very eye opening example.

  5. Cancel Automatic payments for different websites

    Two years ago I ordered a pair of boots from a website for a great price but I didn’t realize that the great deal came with monthly commitments of a $35 auto payment. I was able to skip the auto payment each month but of course life happens and sometimes I forgot to take care of it. I didn’t want to cancel it because I felt like I did not want to miss out on the upcoming deals later on but it just never happened and the auto payment kept taking my money if I didn’t pay enough attention. So throughout the months I lost $70 on that deal and then realized that I don’t use their services enough to worth risking it (Took me way too long to give up on that but I did eventually) There comes an extra $35 each month!

  6. Prepare lunch and eat out less

    Not preparing lunch to work can cost you $8-12 each day 5 times a week which is about $10×5=$50 a week x 4 = $200 a month….holy cow!!!! Invest in a crockpot and prepare food for the week! Meal prep is not only healthy but budget friendly as well. Here is a geat website for amazing crockpot meal ideas for meat lovers, vegeterians, gluten intolerants etc.
    I know it is great to go out sometimes so I am not saying stop doing that completely. Have a budget for going out/month and make sure you don’t go over that.

    IMG_4555

  7. Don’t throw your coins away

    My husband’s friend in high school had a jar and put every coin in it that he found on the ground during the school year. By the end of the school year he had an extra $27. While that is a little extreme I also met friends who threw away their coins because the coins are “annoying”. Don’t be that guy! Have a jar or a piggy bank and put your coins in there. In a year we collect about an extra $50 dollars with that.

  8. Go grocery shopping with a list and a FULL stomach 

    Instead of going through the store and wandering without a purpose (which makes everything very desirable especially if you are hungry), go with a purpose and make sure you eat before so you don’t wanna buy and eat up the entire store. That will save you some money, trust me!

    IMG_5038

  9. Take fewer cab rides and use more public transportation

    However, I understand this is not too appealing, this can save you a whole lot of money. I admit, in America this is way harder to accomplish than back in Europe where most cities have great public transportation system. If you must, choose Uber or Lyft and save yourself some money.

  10. Look for clothes on sale and sell back your least favorite pieces

    Do some winter clothes shopping in the spring, or summer outfit shopping in the fall; look for clothing items on sale instead of full price! There are also great websites that take your clothes that you don’t use anymore so you can make money off of them. Another option is to donate those, there are many people out there who whould be very grateful for that piece of clothing you haven’t even looked at in years.

  11. Get rid of cable and switch to Netflix or Hulu

    Cable cost $30-100ish a month and Netflix cost $8.99 a month, while Hulu cost $7.99. Figure out if you can make those changes based on your needs because this can actually save you a whole lot of money. Also if you have a friend or family member, you can split the cost of the Netflix account and get it together.

    maxresdefault

  12. Get creative during the holidays

    Make your own gifts, use Google for ideas, there are lots of great and fun ideas on Pinterest for example. Get creative and create some memorable presents instead of just taking the easier road and buying another sweatshirt…or if you are really against that at least agree on a reasonable budget with your spouse instead of spending hundreds of dollars

  13. Drink water at restaurants 

    In my sophomore year at college, my tennis coach came up with a new rule where we weren’t allowed to drink anything else but water at restaurants. Now, she created the new rule so we don’t drink a bunch of sugary and terrible liquid before our matches but it made her realize that each time we ate, we saved like $20. That adds up to be $120 on a long weekend which is huge. I understand that your family is probably not 11 people but it still can save you some money each month.
    You can make your own lemonade in a restaurant too, by ordering water and lemon and adding sugar or sweetener to it. It tastes great and it is FREE!

  14. Lights off

    Turn off the lights when you leave the room. I noticed that people in America have the habit of leaving the lights on in every single room they appear to be in, or they leave the TV on when leave the house. To save money with the lights, turn them off when you leave the room, switch to LED, which might be a little more expensive, but lasts longer and saves you money on your electric bill. Turn the TV off when you leave the house! Also, and I make this mistake during winter months, don’t let your water run for a long time before you get in the shower.

  15. Do I really need this?

    Such an important sentence. If you are shopping online or in a store make sure to take a step back and count to 5…in some cases to 10 so you get a chance to actually think through whether you need that item or not. Making an emotional snap decision is very easy but you might regret it later. Take a deep breath, think it through, and ask yourself: Do I really need this?

  16. Pack food for road trips

    This is not only helping you to stay on track with your diet or healthier eating habits, it will also help your wallet. Prepare fruit and veggies, make sandwiches for the road or by bulk products and distribute them into small ziplock bags…instead of buying stuff at the gas station for ridiculously expensive prices, use this option to save money.

  17. For Pete’s sake, quit smoking

    People spend hundreds of dollars on smoking, it is not only a horrid habit that can ruin your health, but it is also an expensive hobby. How about putting all that money towards traveling or doing something much healthier? Is it hard to quit? Well, your health must be motivating enough for you to suffer through those couple days at the beginning. You will see how much better it feels to spend all that money on a great experience somewhere on a cruise ship or just buying more groceries, maybe pay back loans etc…

  18. Alcohol

    Well, I know this is going to be an unpopular one, but the truth is that some people spend hundreds of dollars on alcohol each month. College students too…those college students who always complain they have no money for anything, but somehow spend at least hundred dollars on alcohol during a weekend. I know them because I went to school with them. So be smart about it. I am not saying to quit drinking but have a reasonable budget and geez don’t spend $100 on a Saturday night, c’mon!!!!! ooor…if you do, just don’t complain later….

What do you think of these saving options? Just with some of these options I saved about $356 a month.

Do you have other tips and trick that you could add to this list? Do you have another approach or a different way to save some money? Please comment below!

Hope these were helpful to you!

After workout, good morning shake recipe …

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day! I always loved breakfast so it was never hard for me to sit down and eat a couple bites before starting my day but I know that not everyone feels the same way. Drinking a shake in the morning is not as overwhelming as eating a 10 egg omelette, 3 bacon strips and some hash-browns, but on the other hand it is very healthy and helps you start your day off right.

When I eat breakfast, I eat less the rest of the day and I also have more energy. Find out what works for you, a bigger meal, a cereal bar, a shake or whatever it might be, but make sure to not skip breakfast.

Here is a shake recipe I like to drink after my morning workouts:

IMG_5027

INGREDIENTS

1 BANANA

1 CUP ROLLED OATS

3 CUPS FROZEN MIXED BERRIES

1 SCOOP WHEY PROTEIN POWDER (optional)

1 TBSP HONEY

1/2 TBSP CINNAMON

1 TBSP CHIA SEEDS

1 TSP MATCHA POWDER

2 CUPS UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK

**ENJOY**

Knocking off two new places from the bucket list…

Welcome to the gorgeous Zion and Bryce Canyons!

zion n bryce

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 ‘cuz 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…just like a princess. 😀

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’t know what were we thinking. Taking so much food for two haha, we brought back some of it 😀

roadsnacks

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…

on the way tozion

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 “Zion National Park” sign my eyes popped open.

zion

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.

IMG_4654

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.

zion1

zion2

zion3

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

red travel shoe

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…

IMG_4734

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.

IMG_4751

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.

bryce1

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…but 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 😀

bryce2

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)

bryce3

Fun facts about Bryce Canyon from nileguide.com

  1. Water, ice, and gravity are the natural forces that formed the geological “hoodoos” 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, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.” 😀 😀 😀
  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

IMG_4888IMG_4891

IMG_4887

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.

pastrypub

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.

pastrypub2

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!