Saturday, July 31, 2021

July Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 2019, and 66 books in 2020). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks because I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have at least two hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening this year. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in July:

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling - Well, if you read last month's book recap, you know I started the Harry Potter series thanks to a gentle nudge from a friend's daughter (one of my sweet pen pals!). I'll be honest and say this genre isn't my normal go-to choice, but the books have been entertaining enough thus far that I had to continue reading. I'd say I definitely liked this one more than the second book in the series. I felt like it kept me guessing a bit more than I was expecting and I appreciated more facetime of Hagrid ;) I loved the twists in this story (who doesn't love rooting for an underdog?!). Also, maybe it's just me, but I really liked that Voldemort wasn't the main villain (it seemed a little less about fighting evil and more about finding belonging, acceptance and family {however you define it}). It also took me until about halfway through the book to realize that the witches and wizards go to Hogwarts for seven years and there are seven books in the series so it'd make sense if each book focuses on a different grade level (sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake!). Watching the characters grow year to year is a pretty cool idea. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling - Well let me start off by saying the length of the books almost doubled from the third book in the series to this one. There were points that felt like it was long just for long sake. Maybe some of the details will become important in future books in the series, but at the current moment I felt like some of the chapters drug on and didn’t impact the story that much. I did like how the school year was a bit different than the previous years with the new competition, but otherwise I wasn’t as invested this go-around as I had been in previous books. I would say that I didn’t see some of the twists towards the end coming, which was a plus. I don't know that I loved the house-elf subplot though. I guess I was expecting the social commentary to be a little different (and the characters to react/ address it differently). It also felt darker too with the Death Eaters, the death of an important character and of course the developments with he-who-must-not-be-named. Obviously I will continue with the series (I mean, at this point I sort of have to see it through till the end, right?!), but I’d say this one “felt” long for me. I would give it a 7.5 out of 10.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - Oh my goodness. Before I get into my thoughts on the book, let me just say that it could have be split into THREE books! I was telling the hubby on how impressed I was that kids read this series. I mean, the audiobook was close to THIRTY HOURS (and that's just one of the seven books!). Major props to the children (and adults alike) who put the time into reading {there are definitely worse things you could be doing than broadening your mind}! Anywho, I would say this book seems to be a little more "grown-up" than the previous books. Harry is struggling with plenty of teenage angst while dealing with many adult issues (such as abuse, death of a loved one, etc). I'll be honest and say that although I was interested the entire time, there were plenty of scenes that could have been shortened or cut altogether (especially when the intended age for this book is 9-12 years old and there are almost 900 pages!). I don't think this one was a favorite in the series, but I plowed through it. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich - The hubby and I were looking for an audiobook to listen to on our Mammoth road trip and we decided on this one. As per usual, I didn't know much about it, but I had sent the hubby a few different options and he thought this one sounded the most interesting. Although this is a novel, the author pays homage to her grandfather in a story about the United States government {yet again} trying to steal the land from Indigenous Peoples in the 1950s. This book touches on many important topics such as murdered and missing indigenous women, systemic racism, etc. Along with the many thought provoking themes, there are also many storylines going on at the same time in the book. The character development was great, even while jumping back and forth between the different people. There was definitely a lot going on (at times I wish the author would've continued with one of the stories for longer because I would get wrapped up in it and then she would shift to another character), but we both really liked it. I would give it an 8.5 out of 10.

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowlings - I was happy to see the length of this book had gotten shorter (even though I'm listening to the audiobooks at 1.75x speed, these are still taking a large chunk of time to work my way through). I know I mentioned it before, but the last few books have definitely taken a darker turn. I did appreciate seeing a little more of Voldemort's past (I feel like sometimes an author will show you a villain's history so that maybe you feel a little more empathy for them, but this is not the case here... sure, you might get a little more insight into who he is, but I definitely didn't like him any more after looking behind the curtain). Obviously I won't spoil the book, but there was a HUGE shocker towards the end that I was NOT expecting. I'll also be honest and say I wish there wasn't a love story going on between Ron and Hermione. Yes, I know it happens with teens, but I was sort of hoping the story could just be about three best friends without the romantic aspect. PS Anyone else bummed that there was less quidditch in this one? With only one book left in the series I am interested to see how all of the loose ends and different storylines get wrapped up. (And then to decide if I want to watch the movies or not ;)) I would give it an 8.5 out of 10.

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowlings - I did it! I finished the series! Honestly, to all the kids out there who read through these books, you all get a HUGE round of applause from me - it is no small feat! Like I said when I started the series, this isn't my normal go-to genre, but it was fun and entertaining. I am normally a wimp when it comes to scary (I close my eyes and plug my ears at commercials for horror films), and I'll be honest, some of this is a little dark, but I was able to soldier through ;) I think this was my second favorite book in the series (after the third book). I was interested to see how everything would conclude and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I had guessed a few directions the plot could go, and I was wrong in just about all of them. I also would have loved more in the epilogue (I love watching the "where they are now" updates, so getting a look at he characters a few years down the road is always a favorite of mine), but was happy that we got a little nod to what came after. Now to decide if I want to watch the movies (let's be real, the books are better 99% of the time, so I don't know if I want to ruin them ;)). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • That Sounds Fun by Annie F. Downs - The title caught my attention (and the fact that it was so short after the length Harry Potter series), so I thought I'd give it a go. I didn't know it was a Christian book until after I got into it (I wouldn't say it screams Jesus, but the author definitely mentions she's a pastor and sprinkles in a bit about her faith throughout the story). Whether you are a Christian or not, I think a lot of people would enjoy listening to/ reading this one. There were a few great points that Annie made. I especially loved the topic of being an amateur at things in life. So often I don't want to do something if I'm not good at it right away, but she suggests finding things we aren't "professionals" at and allowing ourselves (and others) to be amateurs. This was a quick listen (there were three interviews at the end of the audiobook, but without those it was maybe 4 hours of book) and I felt like I was shaking my head in agreement throughout most of it. As always, I didn't know anything about the book prior to downloading it, nor did I know this was sort of based around the author's podcast, so maybe I'll have to listen through some of the episodes she has. I would give it an 8.5 out of 10.

  • Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga - With everything in the news recently about the residential schools many Indigenous children were sent to, I had seen this book referenced and knew I wanted to read it. I'll be honest and say this is NOT an easy read. If you know anything about the residential schools, you know there is much abuse, destruction and death surrounding them. The author digs into the lives and deaths of seven killed kids in the Thunder Bay area of Ontario. My heart broke page after page. I wish I could say I'm surprised at the continued racism and killing Indigenous peoples encounter, but if you know of the history surrounding Native people of North America you know that this happens continually (and STILL) and justice is rarely ever found. I appreciate the author's care at putting this expose together (as well as the friends and family members of the fallen feathers). I never want to find "entertainment" in someone else's tragedy but appreciate having my eyes opened to others' experiences (while looking for ways I can help in my own life). I would give it a 9.5 out of 10.

  • Run Well by Dr Juliet McGrattan - I was sent this book by the publisher to check out and I was intrigued from the jump. It is written by a general practitioner about different questions she has received as a doctor in regards to running. The book is broken down into nine different sections - the head, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the urinary system, the reproductive system, the musculoskeletal system, the skin and self-care. Obviously not all of health related questions were something I have had personal experience with, but it was still interesting to see how the body functions (properly or improperly) and how running may play a role in it. It sort of felt a little like a WebMD for runners. The information was easy to digest (ha, see what I did there) with plenty of facts, myth busting and personal stories thrown in (not just from the author but from different runners). If you've ever been curious about how running can/ does impact your body, this is a quick read to give you a brief rundown! I would give it an 8 out of 10.

With that, July has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list! 

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What's the best book you've read lately? 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Workout Recap - Week 30

Sunday, July 18th – Rest Day

Monday, July 19th – 10.10 mile run

Tuesday, July 20th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Wednesday, July 21st – 13.13 mile run

Thursday, July 22nd – 13.13 mile run

Friday, July 23rd – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Saturday, July 24th – 10.10 mile run 

If you remember last week, the hubby and I were in Mammoth Lakes camping and moved up our back-to-back long runs from our standard Saturday and Sunday to Friday and Saturday since we'd be driving home on Sunday. With that said, my Sunday run was included on Week 29, but it all evens out in the long run (no pun intended) so I'm not too worried about it. Also, the hubby was camping with some friends Friday night, so instead of doing our 18 mile run on Saturday and 10 mile run on Sunday (technically next week) we swapped them so we each did 10 on Saturday (I had to work at the running store, which meant I had to get in my run early in the morning and he got it done on his own when he got back from his night in Julian) and will get in 18 together on Sunday (I will have to work, but I don't start until noon on Sundays, so we have more time to get it in). Even with swapping around runs, I'm thrilled I was able to get in 46.46 miles after almost 70 last week. We are chugging right along with this training plan and everything's going great thus far - WHOOO HOOO!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Workout Recap - Week 29

Sunday, July 11th – 8.18 mile trail run with the hubby

Monday, July 12th – 13.13 mile run

Tuesday, July 13th – Rest Day

Wednesday, July 14th – 6.36 mile run with the hubby, 11.2 mile trail run, 6.2 mile run

Thursday, July 15th – Rest Day

Friday, July 16th – 14.75 mile run with the hubby

Saturday, July 17th – 10.15 mile trail run with the hubby

The hubby and I were in Mammoth Lakes camping for the week (we left after I got off work on Monday evening) so my runs got switched around a bit (normally our longer, back-to-back runs are on Saturday and Sunday but we moved them up to Friday and Saturday since we'd be driving home on Sunday). That means I got in an extra run during this week that normally would be counted towards next week (and next week will be one run "short"). I also went a little above and beyond on Wednesday while we were there. The hubby and I did a 10K before he started working for the day (he still had to work all day Tuesday and Wednesday {he currently works remote}, taking PTO on Thursday and Friday), then I had him drop me off at a trailhead so I could get in some dirt and vert (almost 3,000 feet of climbing in 11 miles) and, because he was working, I ran from the trail to our campground and got in another 10K of running. Yep, 23.76 miles on Wednesday helped bump me to almost 70 miles for the week (just under at 69.97). Running at elevation is no joke, but I'm stoked with how the body is feeling. (PS Our long run on Friday was supposed to be 16 miles, but we missed a turn on our loop so when we got back to the truck and were a little over a mile short we called it good and walked Walt for the remained.) 

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Workout Recap - Week 28

Sunday, July 4th – 7 mile run with the hubby

Monday, July 5th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, July 6th – 13.44 mile run

Wednesday, July 7th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, July 8th – 10.10 mile run

Friday, July 9th – Rest Day

Saturday, July 10th – 14 mile run with the hubby

Another week in the books and 44.54 miles done. It's been fairly toasty in SoCal recently, so I'm glad I am "forced" to get my runs in before work or else I might be melting during my workouts. Not only do I love running with the hubby, but I think my body has enjoyed the change of pace those runs have brought. I always say that if the hubby is willing to run with me, I am willing to run his pace with him - not to mention, I'm not training for any PRs or time goals right now, so I am absolutely okay getting in "slower" miles if it means I get to tackle some miles with one of my favorite running partners.  

How were your workouts this past week?

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Capitol Reef National Park

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a hot minute, you probably saw that the hubby and I had a bit of an adventure at the end of May. We drove from SoCal to Wyoming and back again - with a stop at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on the way to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Well, you didn't think the party was done when we packed up our AdventureMobile to head home, did ya?! Spoiler Alert: THE PARTY WASN'T OVER! On the way trip home, we planned to spend a day at Capitol Reef National Park {and this is my recap ;)}.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves... If you missed our road trip to Wyoming, you can check out the recap HERE. Also, if you missed Days 1, 2, 3 or 4 in Yellowstone National Park or Days 1 and 2 in Grand Teton National Park, you can catch up on them HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. And now that everyone's on the same page, we can proceed.

When we left off, the hubby and I had stopped at Mormon Row on the way out of Grand Teton National Park. Originally it was going to be our final place to visit on Day 2 of the Grand Teton portion of the adventure, but we heard the lighting is better in the mornings so we shifted it in the itinerary. {FYI: The hubby and I put a crap-ton of planning into this trip!}

John Moulton's Barn in Mormon Row

Once we walked around the area and snapped some pictures, it was time to hit the road. Our game plan was to drive for the majority of the day (about 8 hours/ 500 miles), that way on Sunday we could wake up and spend as much of the day as we would like exploring the new-to-us National Park (and relatively new National Park in general), Capitol Reef.

Well, a road trip wouldn't be complete without a little unexpected excitement, right?! Let me start off by saying the hubby is normally super diligent about keeping our cars full of gas (there's a possibility I almost ran us out of gas on the way to the Phoenix Marathon in 2016 and since then he lovingly harps on me about making sure the tank is full and that we know where gas stations are on our routes). I'm the type of person who wants to get as much of the gas out of the tank as possible before filling up, whereas once the tank hits about halfway, the hubby's on the hunt for a gas station. Well, although we bought our truck in 2019, I'd say we're still discovering some of the quirks and features. One such particularity is how much gas you have left in the tank when the "low fuel" light comes on. Yep, I'm sure you know where this story is going... The hubby had been driving for a while and hadn't really been on the lookout for a gas station (which is totally unlike him). By the time we got to about a quarter tank he had me look on our map for the next place to fill up. I asked him how long he thought we had and he guesstimated the distance. I found a gas station a ways before that and asked him if that would work. He said it would and we updated our navigation to route us there. About 15 miles before we got to said gas station (note - we were in a remote portion of Utah, so it wasn't like there were options at every exit... the services were very few and far between), the "low fuel" light came on warning us we were running low (DUH!). Our Focus' light pops on when we have enough gas to get approximately 50 miles so we assumed we were fine... As I'm sure you've heard before, you know what assuming does ;) Just about 3 miles from the exit the truck started sputtering and we ran out of gas! Originally I was thinking I could run to the gas station, get a gallon of gas and run back, but the temps were in the triple digits and I was worried I'd end up spilling the majority of the gas if I actually ran back to the truck. Thankfully we have roadside assistance and we were able to get someone to us within an hour to give us a gallon of gas. Okay, so I know I probably could've made this section like two sentences, but because I am normally the one in danger of running out of gas (but never have) and the hubby is on top of it 99% of the time, I just HAD TO record it in great detail ;)

Trying not to chuckle at the fact that it was the hubby who was at the helm when we hit E.

The hubby was frustrated he let us run out of gas, but eventually cooled down (once we got the gas and could turn on the AC, hehe). I tried to remind him that if we were going to run out of gas, this was the perfect time because we didn't technically have anywhere to be or do that day other than drive. Once our knight in shining armor a tow truck arrived with gas we were off to the gas station a few miles away and then back to our regularly scheduled program of chugging south. 

Having roadside assistance has been crucial for us, especially when we had our VW EuroVan!

Like the trip out to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we planned to stay at free campsites/ on BLM land on the way home. Originally the hubby had scouted a place a bit further away from Capitol Reef National Park (at Koosharem Reservoir), but when we got there we realized we still had plenty of time to get somewhere closer to the park so kept driving.  We actually ended up just a few miles from the entrance at the Capitol Reef Overflow Dispersed Camping - SCORE! The area seemed pretty busy, but we were able to find a little nook away from the hussle and bussle to set up "shop".

Although we have a small portable potty in the truck, we've never used it. We normally try
to find places to stay that have facilities (even if that is just a port-o-potty or a pit toilet).

If you're like us prior to starting to research for this trip, you may not know much about Capitol Reef. Although it is a fairly large (in size) National Park, it seems as though the main things to do and see are on one main drag. Our game plan was to get in a few hikes, check out some of the historical areas in the park and enjoy yummy PIE (but more on that soon ;)).


Similar to my Yellowstone and Grand Teton recaps, I thought I'd share the things we did/ saw, in case you were planning on visiting Capitol Reef and wanted suggestions for a {very rough} itinerary to follow (or modify to fit your needs/ desires). PS I numbered the stops on our original itenary and letter anything we added "on the fly". I did my fair share of research prior to the trip, but we usually find extras (whether we drive by or see it in a park map/ brochure) that we end up adding. 

[capitol reef graphic]

1. Capitol Reef Entrance Sign

I love taking pictures at the entrance of a National Park (and hopefully I'm not alone). The only issue with this stop was that we were starting early to try and beat the heat so the lighting wasn't super awesome. Even still, we HAD to stop.

My biggest tip for clothes in the desert?! LAYERS! The mornings start off chilly but the day warms up quick!

A. The Castle

There were plenty of stops we could have made before we even made it into the park and this was one of them. The rock formations in this part of the country are just amazing and it was hard not to want to pull over and stop every few minutes. The Castle is an iconic landmark just north of the park's visitor center, towering nearly 800 feet over the road.

Isn't nature amazing?!

You probably can't tell from the picture, but the layers in the rocks were so different, pronounced and AWESOME!

I can see where it gets its name.

The views went on for miles and miles.

2. Hike Hickman Bridge

Our first major stop in the park was going to be a hike to the Hickman Bridge. This was a short loop (less than two miles) with some awesome sights along the route. When we arrived there was plenty of parking, but I'd definitely recommend going early or late in the day to avoid the crowds (with it being near the entrance and family friendly, I can only imagine how busy it gets) and the heat (this trail is very exposed). For a fairly quick hike, the natural bridge is super impressive.

Let's do this thang!

Always take time to stop and smell the roses flowers.

And to play with panoramic pictures ;) 

Love how creation can still thrive in this environment! 

Hickman Bridge is a natural bridge 133 feet wide.


B. Behunin Cabin

We just happened to be driving by this cabin and the hubby wanted to stop. I'm not sure if the picture does it justice, but it was pretty small... AND A FAMILY OF 15 LIVED HERE (the older kids actually had to sleep outside because of the lack of space!)! It was built in 1883, but the family only stayed for a year because they found it inhospitable (crops washed away by flash floods, etc). I wouldn't recommend driving out of your way to see it, but if you're in the area it's an interesting stop.

I'm all about tiny houses, but this would be rough with that many people ;)

The AdventureMobile waiting for us to finish checking out the cabin.

C. Navajo Dome

You may not know this, but Capitol Reef got its name in part from the great white rock formations which resemble the U.S. Capitol building, and from the sheer cliffs that presented a barrier to early travelers. The Navajo Dome is one such dome. It was made by huge deposit of Navajo sandstone and is one of the more notable features within the park. (#RealTalk - The hubby thought it looked a bit more like a nipple than a dome {and, if I'm being honest, I had to agree ;)}.)

It's the whiter rock in the left half of the photo (if you couldn't guess).

The white sandstone definitely stood out amongst all of the red rock.

3. Walk Capitol Reef Petroglyph Trail

This is a super short "trail" (more like a sidewalk along the side of the road), but it was absolutely worth the stop to see some of the petroglyphs. The rock art created by the Indigenous Peoples can be seen in several places in Capitol Reef National Park. Most are attributed to the Fremont Culture, which lived in areas of Utah from approximately AD 600 to 1300. These Native Americans were contemporaries of the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) of the Four Corners area.

It seemed like the longer you looked at the walls the more you could see.

4. Fruita Schoolhouse

The land for this schoolhouse was donated in 1896, although classes in the Junction area (later named "Fruita") started a few years prior. This one room schoolhouse might not look super impressive, but what I did find fascinating was the audio recording from one of the teachers who taught there in 1934 {FYI: You can listen to the recording HERE if you're interested}. Not only was this building used for teaching, but it also held dances, town meetings, elections, church youth activities, box suppers, and celebrations. Classes were discontinued in 1941 due to a lack of students.

This was right across from the orchards.

The building wasn't open, but you could peer through the windows to look inside.

5. Visitor Center

We had to pop into the Visitors Center while we were in the area (even if it was just to go potty and stamp my passport).

6. Hike Fremont River Trail

The next hike of the day was the Fremont River Trail. This one is along the Fremont River (duh), then meanders up the side of a mountain and ends with a beautiful 360 view of the park. The part along the river is shaded and cool, but then you have to work a bit to "earn the views" at the turnaround point. {Side note: We didn't really know where the trail officially "ended", so there's a possibility we didn't make it the entire way, but the views were awesome nonetheless.}

Nature along the river.

Some of the views once we started climbing up away from the river.

The hubby might not have been warned about the climb towards the end ;)

Playing with the panoramic picture where we turned around on the trail.

There were some horses right along the fence near the river, so the hubby and I stopped to pet them (on the way back they were further out in the pasture so I'm glad we took the few moments on the way out to hang out with them). 

These ponies must get a ton of pets from all of the hikers going by throughout the day.

7. Gifford House

Okay, so if you know much at all about the hubby, you probably know that he is A. an AMAZING man, B. super loving, creative, fun and goofy and C. had a HUGE sweet tooth ;) When we were researching things to do at Capitol Reef we both came across the fact that the Gifford House serves fresh baked goods to hungry travelers (opening their doors every year on Pi Day for the season ;)). As I'm sure you could guess, this stop was TOP PRIORITY on the hubby's itinerary.


We heard that they can sell out of their individual hand pies quickly, so we figured that since they were open from 8am-5pm, we'd try and get in as early as possible. After we finished our Fremont River Trail hike (which starts and ends right near the Gifford House) we decided to head over and get in the long line - even if it was before 10am. #BreakfastPies

Apparently I totally forgot to take a picture of the homestead, so this little building in the yard will have to do ;) #BloggerFail

When we finally got through the line (due to COVID they were only allowing 10 people in the building at a time, so I think the line appeared longer since we were trying to practice social distancing), we got up to the counter to place our order. I went with the Strawberry Rhubarb pie (my mom makes a mean one!) and the hubby got the Apple Pie and Peach Pie. 

Find someone who looks at you the way the hubby looks at pie ;) 

(Note - Although we arrived at 10am, the hubby got one of the last three apple pies! If you want a pie, we recommend going early! We were told sometimes they sell out before they go to lunch at 11am and don't reopen for the afternoon!)

Of course he couldn't wait for me to take a picture, haha.

When we were there, pies were the only thing on the menu. You could grab a bottle of water or an individual scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, but other than there weren't any other treats (they did have some houseware items like cookbooks, aprons, etc available for purchase). But I guess you could say we were totally fine with the dessert options ;)

They didn't stand a chance... especially after we had already done a couple hikes ;)

PRO TIP: Travel with your own utensils to avoid single-use plastics. Put them in your car (even if they're from your standard silverware set) and grab them when you go somewhere that doesn't offer washable cutlery (i.e. Chipotle, etc).

Seeing as we were camping we had all of our own cutlery with us, but even if you aren't camping, it's always
a great idea to have some reusable items with you so you can limit your consumption of single-use plastics.

8. Ripple Rock Nature Center

Although we would have loved to check out the Ripple Rock Nature Center, it was closed. The details did make it seem a little more children-centric, but, shoot, the hubby and I are just big kids and I'm sure we would've enjoyed it. #NextTime

9. Hike Cassidy Arch Trail

After filling our tummies with breakfast pie yummies, it was time to tackle our longest and most difficult hike of the day, Cassidy Arch Trail. (Okay, okay, so slightly more than three miles and just over 650 feet of elevation gain isn't exactly "tough" for us, but compared to the other two hikes we did earlier in the day this was going to be the most strenuous.)

Let's get this party started!

And although Alltrails has the hike listed at 3.1 miles, we had to park quite a ways away from the trailhead because the parking was all full (it ended up adding another mile total to our hike). We also noticed that the sky appeared to be darkening in the distance. Mother Nature is NOT to be messed with, especially when you are in canyons. We had a serious discussion prior to the hike to see if we thought we could finish it with plenty of time before the storms potentially rolled in. We felt confident, but also decided that we would absolutely turn around early if the weather got closer.

The sky might not look 'that' threatening in the photo, but the weather app was
calling for thunderstorms and the dark clouds could be seen in the distance. 

I'll be honest, there were a lot of people on the trail who appeared to be in over their heads. I hope this doesn't come across as judgy, but I was worried about quite a few of them. Many appeared as though they weren't carrying enough water, didn't have proper footwear, etc. The hubby and I were doing our best to go as quickly as possible so we would be back to the AdventureMobile before the potential rains started, but I feared this would not be possible for many of the people we were passing. The terrain was pretty rocky and steep in sections and the trail was marked mostly with cairns. 

Gotta keep your eyes peeled on trails that aren't obviously marked.

We chugged along as best we could (with the potential rains on their way, there was thankfully a bit of cloud cover which was making it a bit cooler, but otherwise the trail is completely exposed), safely going around slower groups, checking in on hikers who appeared to be having a difficult time, etc, all the while keeping our eyes on the sky.

Gotta have a little fun along the way, right?!

When we finally made it to the arch, I was surprised that there wasn't anyone out on it. Now, wait, that may sound strange, but this is actually a natural arch that you are able to walk out on. Once I noticed no one was out there, I mentioned it to the hubby and one of the kids who we had been playing leapfrog with on the trail (us passing him when he stopped for a quick second, then him passing us when we would stop) overheard me and said he'd take our photo while we went out on it if we'd take his. SCORE! [We ended up hiking down with him and found out he was a traveling nurse from Michigan!]

Can you see us out there?!

This one is a little closer so you can see us better ;)

Before we made our way back down I snapped a couple last shots of the bridge and then we hightailed it out of there. 

When we got close to the edge you could actually see a few people who were canyoneering.

The arch is wide enough that you can walk out on it without worrying about falling (but if you're scared of heights
you still might want to think twice about walking out on it since it's about 400 feet above the ground).

When we got down we were thinking we could continue our hike with a short bit on the Grand Wash Trail since it goes back into slot canyons like The Narrows in Zion National Park, but with the weather looming we didn't want to risk it. 

10. Scenic Drive

The last item on our list was the Scenic Drive. This is a 7.9 mile paved road with two dirt spur roads. It's a "virtual tour" with numbered signs along the route corresponding to information about the area. We hadn't grabbed the info from the visitor center nor did we have cell service so we were on our own to make up what we were seeing around us ;)

Not a bad place to ride your road bike, but I would have gone earlier to avoid the rain...

Shortly after we started the rain started. We were stoked we finished our hike just in time and were in the comfort of the AdventureMobile. We drove the length of the paved road but decided to turn around once we got to the dirt section for a few reasons. First, we didn't want to be driving into a slot canyon when it was raining. Second, although the truck has four-wheel drive and absolutely could've handled the terrain, not all the vehicles going that way looked dirt road worthy and we were worried we'd get stuck behind someone who got stuck ;) Lastly, the road is a one way in/ one way out sort of road, which means you have to go at the speed of the car(s) in front of you. Although I'm sure it would have been awesome to see, we didn't love the thought of being potentially stuck in a slot canyon, crawling along through a crowded corridor.


After we finished I looked at my watch and noticed it was just after 1pm. I pulled up our navigation and saw it would "only" take a little less than eleven hours to get home. I asked the hubby what his thoughts were on driving straight through (instead of the original plan of stopping at Leeds Canyon Designated Dispersed Camping {where we had stayed on the way to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks for our birthday trip last year}). He was totally on board. Our thought was it would give us all day on Monday (which was Memorial Day) to unpack, do laundry, pick up the pup from our friends, get groceries, clean the AdventureMobile and get ready for the coming week after being gone for almost two weeks.

We made a brief stop in Las Vegas for dinner at Pizza Rock (let's just say that being off-the-grid for almost two weeks and then walking into the craziness that is Vegas was a bit of a HUGE culture shock, especially since for the majority of the previous 15 months we had been pretty isolated for the most part due to COVID) because it's one of the hubby's FAVES. We didn't realize that the Golden Knights were playing a play-off game at the exact time we were trying to roll in for dinner, but thankfully we were able to score two seats at the bar where we could scarf down our Detroit Style Red Top pizza.

I always chuckle at the bathroom signs here so of course I had to snap a pic along with a pizza shot ;)

Other than the brief stop for dinner, we were just keeping the pedal to the medal (and making sure we watched the gas gauge of course, hehe). We did hit a HUGE delay outside of Baker {what a way to welcome us back to California...}. It took us over TWO HOURS to go six miles. Literally we could've walked faster than we were "driving". And although sitting in traffic is not my jam, there was no way around it so we just had to do our best not to overheat (it was still 110* at 8pm) and keep smiles on our faces. Eventually we pulled up to the house a little after 2am (thanks to the traffic jam), jumped in the shower {because we could NOT get in bed after dirtbagging it for such a long time}, unpacked a bit and hit the hay.

We may have only spent about seven hours at Capitol Reef National Park, but we made the most out of it. The hubby and I would each give it two BIG thumbs up. We loved the relaxed vibe, fewer visitors and the pie... I don't know that we'd make a trip solely to go there, but if we're in the area again we'd absolutely stop by and hit up more of the trails. 

Have you ever heard of or been to Capitol Reef?