Posts in Field Notes
California, USA

In the summer of 2017, my wife, Sarah, and I decided to fly 4 hours into Reno, NV and road trip across California. Packing 5 days of camping gear into a suitcase, we set off for a 10 day adventure with only a camping spot reserved at Lake Tahoe and an Airbnb reservation set in San Leandro, CA 7 days later. 

The days between were blank pages waiting to be filled. We spent 10 days hiking, chasing fog, wine tasting, driving Highway 1, and exploring the Bay. Here is a collection of the images from our journey, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 

Field NotesCodyComment
Wandering In Wisconsin
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Life had been moving just a little too fast over the last few weeks so we decided to take a weekend and visit Wisconsin to get away. After grabbing a rental car we were on our way, Spotify playlist and relaxing thoughts in tow.

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First stop was Madison, WI. A place that all of our friends rave about, but Sarah and I had yet to visit. Upon arrival we quickly realized the "relaxation" factor we were searching for was nowhere to be found in Madison this weekend. Earth Day protests scattered the city leading to the capitol building's lawn. On top of the protests, the Midwest Horse Fair, and Wisconsin football spring game were also being held that weekend. Nevertheless, we wanted to see what Madison had to offer, so we enjoyed walking around town and soaking in the good weather.

Madison is a gem of a city, it has the perfect mix of college town and active city. Surrounded by lakes, mountain biking, and plenty of shops it would be hard to find yourself needing something to do. We headed to Tipsy Cow  for lunch and enjoyed the best cheese curds I've had in my life. They lasted maybe 3 minutes. From there we strolled back to our rental car and headed Lake Geneva, WI. 

Enjoying a beautiful Wisconsin sunset in our rear view mirror we used one of our favorite apps Hotel Tonight to book a room at The Abbey Resort, who kindly upgraded our room free of charge upon arrival! 

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Waking up on Sunday morning, we enjoyed breakfast at Lake Geneva's Simple Cafe followed by window shopping their historic downtown area. From there we headed to the Lake Geneva Shore Path, taking in the beautiful weather and views. The lake is lined with beautiful homes in every direction. 

We ended our time in Wisconsin with a quick picnic at the park, then headed back to Chicago for another busy week.  

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Hanging With the Howards - A Quick Weekend in Chicago
  Sunset over Chicago from the Signature Lounge at John Hancock Tower

Sunset over Chicago from the Signature Lounge at John Hancock Tower

One of the best things about living in Chicago is that it is centrally located and obviously a large hub of the country (and world).  We frequently have friends and family either passing through town or looking to spend a long weekend checking out the city.  Recently, we were able to show off the city to two of our good friends, Brady and Kelsi.  

  No trip to the bean is complete without a group selfie

No trip to the bean is complete without a group selfie

Our friends opted to take Amtrak to Chicago from Kansas City.  Traveling by train can be a relaxing alternative to the chaos of an airport or a tiring drive.  After we met up back up at our apartment, we took them to our favorite neighborhood taco shop, Antique Taco.  This taco shop on Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park, is often overshadowed by Big Star, which is located about two blocks away.  At Antique Taco, you won't have to wait 3+ hours for a table and the tacos, in our opinion, are much better.  Start the meal with chips and guac or their chili cheese curds, eat a lot of tacos, and end the meal with a slice of key lime pie from Bang Bang Pie

After dinner, we took Brady and Kelsi to a Chicago Bulls game.  With so many sports teams in Chicago, it is never a problem to find tickets to an in-season game.  Bulls games always offer a lot of additional entertainment throughout the game, adding excitement to the game itself.  After an exciting overtime game ending with a Bulls win, we wrapped up the evening at Scofflaw.  Located in Logan Square, this bar is cozy with fireplaces, couches, yummy gin and tonics, and most importantly, the complimentary, warm chocolate chip cookie at midnight.  It is a perfect place to unwind on a cold Chicago night. 

  Brady + Kelsi outside of the Tribune Tower

Brady + Kelsi outside of the Tribune Tower

The following morning Brady and Kelsi set out on their own to check out the Shedd Aquarium and Navy Pier.  We met up with them at Millennium Park to snap a few pictures with the Bean.  From there, we made our way to the John Hancock tower via Michigan Ave.  One of the best views of the city is at the Signature Lounge located in the Hancock.  At no charge (besides the cost of an overpriced cocktail) we took in sweeping views of the skyline. 

Is it really a trip to Chicago if you don't have deep dish pizza?  We don't think so.  We enjoyed some deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's.  We saved room for dessert and headed back to our neighborhood.  The best ice cream sundaes are found at Margie's Candies located at Armitage and Western.  Be prepared for a wait if you choose to sit inside or get it to go and eat it along the nearby 606 if weather permits!  Either way, think boats of hot fudge, mounds of whipped cream atop gobs of ice cream, and zero room for disappointment. 

Brunch is another popular activity in Chicago--really anything food related is great in Chicago if you haven't gotten that yet from this trip.  Brady and Kelsi enjoyed a final meal in Chicago at Kanela Breakfast Club.  Everything on the menu sounds delicious and is delicious.  You can't go wrong with whatever you choose.  

We love hosting and were happy to have Brady and Kelsi in town for a quick weekend.  Our guest room is always open if you don't mind a twin size bed! 

60 Degrees in February?!

When the weather takes a turn for the better, people come out of hiding in Chicago.  Everyone is out and about, getting their sunshine fix and enjoying what this beautiful city has to offer.  A few months ago we made our way up to Rogers Park, the northernmost neighborhood in Chicago.  We loved the eclectic mix of people and the quieter beaches.  

As soon as we knew the weather was going to warm this weekend, we wanted to return to Rogers Park and Edgewater, simply to walk along the beach.  Foster Beach is much quieter than North Avenue Beach while still large and accessible.  It is a great option for days like this weekend where we wanted a bit more solitude while still enjoying the lake and sun. The Lakefront Trail begins on Ardmore Street and takes you out to the beach and continues south until 71st Street on the South Side.      

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Five Reasons To Get To Your Local Conservatory

It's January in Chicago and we just had 60 degree weather... on a Saturday! We weren't sure to blame global warning or thank the Lord, but decided to get outside and take advantage of it. After enjoying a walk on the Lakefront Trail and through Lincoln Park Zoo, Sarah mentioned heading into the Lincoln Park Conservatory

After stumbling around in awe for the next hour or so we realized conservatories are some of the best kept secrets in Chicago (and probably every major city). We've taken it upon ourselves to brainstorm reasons why you too should go enjoy the closest conservatory. 

  1. Get Lost in Nature, While Living in a City
    Do you live in the city and ever just want to be out in nature? We do all the time.  It is a great way for us to witness the beauty of nature without leaving the city. It almost tricks your mind into thinking you've just started a hike in the jungle, until you remember there is a ceiling above you. 
     
  2. They are Romantic
    There is something about being surrounded by gorgeous greenery, bright flowers, and bubbling waterfalls that makes you want to be with someone you love.  A conservatory is a wonderful place to share a conversation or just hold your partner's hand as you meander through the lush scenery.   Take a seat on one of the benches and enjoy the company and beauty of your surroundings. 
     
  3. Practice Your Photography Skills
    Conservatories are a great place to practice and take photos of all types. Obviously you can take photographs of the beautiful plants, landscapes of the room, but we also witnessed a number of people taking engagement or portrait sessions with the plants acting as a beautiful backdrop. If this is your reason, we suggest visiting an hour or two before sunset to get beautiful golden rays streaming through the glass ceilings.
     
  4. A Beautiful Spot to Get Away
    Sometimes you just need some alone time. When we visited there were plenty of people enjoying books, meditation, or just relaxing on the benches scattered throughout. This is a quiet place to get some deep thinking done and escape any other distractions.
     
  5. They Are Free (At Least in Chicago!)
    If you are looking for a free way to spend the afternoon, conservatories are just the ticket. Whether it is in addition to any of the reasons above or just something free to do for a couple hours, the conservatory is not a bad option.  (You may have to do some research of your own to see if your local conservatory offers admission free of charge.)

These are a few of the many amazing reasons to visit your local conservatory. Your local park district does a stellar job of keeping them beautiful.  Now go take advantage of it!

 

Hail, Hail, Hail, Alma Mater
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Cody and I met back in college while attending Kansas State University.  We love our college town of Manhattan, Kansas and sharing the same Alma Mater makes our college years that much sweeter.  It also makes trip back to Manhattan filled with friends, laughter, and countless shared memories.

Although we have been married for almost a year and a half now and graduates of Kansas State for almost three years, we still had yet to return to Manhattan together since graduating.  While taking a trip to see family over Thanksgiving, it was obvious that we needed to stop in Manhattan for a football game against our biggest rivals, the Kansas Jayhawks.  

We knew that we would not have much time in Manhattan before we would have to continue home to Chicago, so we didn't book a hotel room or make any plans other than obtaining tickets to the football game.  

Sometimes not having a plan tends to work in our favor.  We left bright and early from Wichita to make time for tailgating before the game started at 11 AM.  If you ever find yourself passing through Kansas on I-70, Manhattan isn't a place to be missed, especially on a Saturday game day.  Tailgates spread across the open fields and parking lots.  We popped open a couple beers and enjoyed the time with old friends before heading into the game.

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Besides football, there is always something to keep one occupied in Manhattan, including lots of great restaurants.  After the game, we headed to our favorite place for a late lunch at Taco Lucha.  Lucha shares a kitchen and is connected with So Long Saloon, another great place to grab a bite. Taco Lucha offers the best tacos I have ever had.  (Sorry to the hundreds of places in Chicago).  We both started off with a Nancy-a pineapple beer- and their famous chipotle raspberry black bean dip.  That was quickly polished off and followed by a few of their tacos, including their buffalo chicken taco, our personal favorite.  

Some other phenomenal restaurants, bites, and places to enjoy friends are The Chef, Bourbon and Baker, Bluestem Bistro, Varsity Donuts, and Harry's Restaurant.  For as small of a city as Manhattan is, it has an incredible restaurant scene that will take anyone by surprise.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit all of them, but we will be back!

In the evening we hit up some of our favorite bars including Auntie Mae's and Rock-a-Belly Deli.  Both offer a broad drink menu sure to please everyone.  Auntie Mae's has a photo booth, that for $3, gave us some quality pictures during our college years.  We ended the night at the Varsity Donuts truck to really relive college by eating late night corn dogs and grilled cheese mac & cheese.  Neither are to be missed for those late night cravings.

Our favorite app for last minute hotel deals, HotelTonight, saved us again.  We were able to snag a room at the Bluemont Hotel.  The hotel is only a couple years old, offers spacious rooms, great service, and the best location in town.  It is situated on the corner where Aggieville, Manhattan's bar district, meets campus.  We highly recommend this hotel! 

Our time in Manhattan was too short but every minute was filled with laughter and lots of solid reminiscing.  We love Manhattan and we hope any and all visitors do as well! 

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One Night in Seattle

It's safe to say one night in Seattle will leave you only wanting more... but that's all the time we had. After taking a beautiful Amtrak ride from Portland, we arrived at a rainy Seattle with just over 24 hours to explore before our flight home. 

Thanks to Hoteltonight, we were able to get a great deal at the brand new Thompson Seattle, just steps away from Pike Place Market. It was easily one of the coolest hotels we have stayed in, the staff was very friendly, and the location could not have been better. It also has a rooftop bar with beautiful views of the city and Puget Sound.  We enjoyed getting to see these views at night!

Eat: 
With our limited time we did not want to spend it traveling around the city.  We primarily spent our time in the Pike Place Market area, besides heading to the Ballard neighborhood in the evening. After spending some time exploring the Pike Place Market area, we headed over to Athenian Seafood Restaurant & Bar. This gem has been open since 1909, was featured in Sleepless in Seattle, and will fill your stomach with great seafood while enjoying beautiful views of Puget Sound. Cody enjoyed a wild coho salmon & bacon sandwich.  Sarah had the NW salmon fish & chips. Both were delicious! Heading to the Ballard neighborhood, we met up with our friend, Declan, for drinks at Ballard Station, a cool little bar owned and ran by two friends. It offered great local crafts, shuffleboard, darts, and a few TV's. We had a great time catching up and then headed across the street to Pestle Rock for some killer Thai cuisine. All three of us had great entrees and it was packed the entire time we were there. Our only caution is to take their hot indicators seriously.  It can get really spicy, really fast. 

Explore:
Pike Place Market, is a famous and extremely popular destination in Seattle. This was Cody's first time in Seattle and was a must visit for us on our short trip. Pike Place has a very special atmosphere around it. Everywhere you look there are local vendors, fish being thrown, and people enjoying the moment. MarketSpice, has been located in Pike Place Market since 1911 and makes incredible teas. Do not leave Seattle without purchasing a bag of cinnamon-orange tea.  Post Alley features more local restaurants and vendors, located just across the street from Pike Place Market. You can also visit the original Starbucks.  We are big coffee fans, but due to the limited time we chose not to wait in the line to see the inside. The Gum Wall is another great spot to visit in the area.  It is massive and everyone is leaving their mark.  Olympic Sculpture Park is a free outdoor area that is ran by the Seattle Art Museum. It features 9 acres of outdoor exhibits that are open 365 days a year. We enjoyed a casual walk throughout the park before heading down to Myrtle Edwards Park, a beautiful waterfront park. It features beautiful views of the Sound, walking and biking trails, as well as a small fishing pier. It would be the perfect spot for a picnic in the summer months. 

That is a quick snapshot of our time in Seattle. We have more and more friends moving to the area and can't wait to spend more time there. Fingers crossed it won't be raining next time, but chances are it probably will. 

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48 Hours in Portlandia

Recently, we were able to spend a long weekend in Portland, Oregon. It is a destination we have been looking forward to reaching for a long time. Many of our friends have visited and had nothing but great things to say about this PNW oasis.  Now we can confirm, this is a must visit!

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Eat:
It seemed like everywhere we turned there were great restaurants. Whether it was a parking lot full of food trucks, a local brewery, or hole in the wall restaurant, everything was great. We suggest starting the day off with a bottled Stumptown cold brew and incredible doughnut at one of the Blue Star Donuts locations. If you're looking for something more hearty, head over to Mother's Bistro & Bar. A cute, homey atmosphere with great service and an even better menu. When hunger arose at any time after 12PM, we found 10 Barrel Brewing in the Pearl District to be a great spot for a beer and burger. Another wonderful spot was Stella Taco.  We visited the SE location on Division. We are a couple who really love a good taco and we can guarantee Stella Taco will not disappoint! If you have a sweet tooth like Cody, Salt & Staw is the place to go.  There are tons of ice cream options and each one is special. 

Drink:
Portland has a plethora of drinking options. From micro-breweries to dive bars, you won't go wrong. 10 Barrel is worth mentioning again, we loved our seasonal brews while there. 

Explore:
Most of our time in Portland was spent in the Pearl District, but each neighborhood we visited had it's own great vibe. We found the best way to explore what Portlandia has to offer was by renting bikes and just going for it. Powell's City of Books is a must stop for anyone who loves to read as much as Sarah. Be warned, you'll get lost inside for hours! If you are looking to get outside, the obvious answer is going to be the Columbia River Gorge. We loved our hikes at Bridal Veil & Multnomah Falls. Portland is also home to the largest wooded urban park in the states known as Forest Park. It features more than 70 miles of hiking trails, allowing you to get some quality nature time while still close enough to jog to a coffee shop. 

We had an incredible time in Portland and are already itching to head back. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know! 

Quick Hike to the Beautiful Bridal Veil Falls

Apparently we really like waterfalls.  Anywhere we travel to, we seem to seek them out on our adventures.  Another stop we made in the Columbia River Gorge was at Bridal Veil Falls.  The entrance to this waterfall is located just off the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway.  

Once parked, we jumped out of the car, excited to see our first Oregon waterfall.  Bridal Veil Falls was extremely accessible and just about anyone could make the trek to the bottom of the waterfall.  There were some steep switchbacks, but roundtrip the hike is less than 3/4 of a mile.  There is a viewing point that offered great views of the falls.

In addition to a trail to the waterfall, there is also a very short trail that leads to some vantage points of the Columbia River.  Although beautiful, we were unimpressed with the fact that we could see the highway below us, detracting from the natural beauty of the area.

Bridal Veil Falls offers a quick chance to stretch your legs and a beautiful waterfall for those in the Portland area!  

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Multnomah Falls - A View Worth Fighting Tourists For
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When we were spending our weekend in Portland, one of our "must do's" was to visit the Columbia River Gorge area.  We grabbed a Zipcar for the afternoon and headed west on 84. 

Upon arriving at Multnomah Falls, we quickly realized we weren't the only ones with this idea. This is a vast tourist destination and the parking situation reminded us of that right away. After finding a spot to park, we headed past the lodge and boom.. there it is. It is the kind of view that stopped Sarah in her tracks to let out a "wow." 

Many people stop at this first viewing area to take photos and enjoy the views.  We headed further up on a trail to the iconic bridge. We recommend bringing a rain jacket if headed to the bridge or beyond.  The spray from the fall got us damp.  The bridge is a beautiful structure and gave us a really cool perspective of the falls. 

  Small waterfall at the top of Multnomah Falls

Small waterfall at the top of Multnomah Falls

We chose to continue on the trail and head for the top of the falls. From here the quick adventure turns into about 1.3 miles of straight switchbacks overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

The view from the top makes the switchbacks worth it. We were welcomed by a small waterfall that feeds into the large drop of Multnomah Falls. From the viewing area at the top we were able to see everything below as well as the Columbia River Gorge in the distance. 

This is a beautiful and easy stop and we can't wait to come back! If you're in the Portland area, make this an afternoon adventure!

Pedaling Portland
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Portland is one of the most bike friendly cities.  Even those who might be apprehensive about city biking, should give it a whirl.  Bike paths and routes are clearly marked and many streets offer designated bike lanes.  Cars are respectful to bikers and usually give you the right of way.  

On our trip, we rented a pair of city bikes from Waterfront Bicycles located just south of Burnside Street across from Waterfront Park.  There were many bike options to choose from.  We were given a map with many different bike routes that are best to see the city.  

After we had gotten our bikes and looked at the map to get a general idea of what streets to go on, we headed out.  It was a beautiful fall day with clear skies and warm temperatures.  We primarily wanted to see Portland's northeast and southeast neighborhoods.  We first made our way over to Mississippi Street and enjoyed looking at all the cute shops and restaurants.  The next area to check out was Alameda Street featuring beautiful old homes and fantastic views of the city.  From there, we made our way south to Hawthorne and enjoyed a nice downhill ride to the Hawthorne Bridge. 

We had the bikes for about two hours and were able to hit up the majority of Portland's East side. Although we didn't make many stops, we did cruise by some tucked away parks, lots of restaurants, and a plethora of shops.  Being from Chicago, we only got honked at once for being too aggressive on our bikes. Anyone who wants to see Portland should definitely pick up some bikes for the day and enjoy the accessibility the city offers to bikers, both seasoned and novice.  

5 Reasons to spend a day at Causey Reservoir

During our time in Utah, we found a "diamond in the rough" if you will. Located northeast of Ogden, you will find a beautiful little reservoir that doesn't allow motor crafts on the water. If that isn't reason enough to visit, we've brought you our top 5. 

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1. Remote

Causey Reservoir is located in a relatively remote area.  (We did not have any phone service while there.)  The drive is beautiful and gives you a great view of the mountains and creeks aligning the area. As long as you pack everything you will need for the day, it's well worth the trip. Causey will be the only thing around so it is quiet, peaceful, and everyone there is enjoying it with you. 

2. Water Activities

The main reason we decided to go to Causey was that it is a non-wake reservoir. Meaning you won't find any powerboats flying around. This makes it ideal for Kayaking, SUP, canoeing, cliff jumping, and swimming. 

3. Hike or Horseback ride the Skull Creek Trail

There is a beautiful hike that explores the south side of the reservoir. At just under 5 miles total, it is an easy hike with wonderful views of the surrounding area.  It is an easy, shaded trail with no turnoffs.  Dogs are also allowed! When you reach the river you will find a nice little camping spot, which leads us to our next reason.

4. Camping

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Bring your day packs, hike the Skull Creek Trail (or kayak up the river) and camp! There is a great little camping area nestled at the end of the river with tree shelter all around. 

5. Pink Salmon

Yep, that's right. For anyone looking to fly fish or see some wild salmon, this is the spot. Throughout the late summer and fall, wild pink salmon will be swimming in the river. We saw quite a bit on our trip in September!

Well, there you have it. Those are our top 5 reasons to visit Causey Reservoir, we hope you get out there and give it a shot in the near future! 

Ending Summer in Sunny Salt Lake City, Utah
  Liberty Park  

Liberty Park 

For Labor Day weekend, we decided to pack up our hiking boots and head to Utah. This was Sarah's first trip to Utah and we were both ecstatic to enjoy the great outdoors. 

Salt Lake City is one of those places, that you get mapped out within the first few hours of being there. With an extremely easy grid system, you'll be able to get around in no time.... oh and everything is less than 15 minutes away. 

  Fresh peach from farmer's market  

Fresh peach from farmer's market 

Morning: 
If you happen to be in SLC on a Saturday, start your day off at the Downtown Farmers Market. While there, grab breakfast from any of the local company stands, food trucks, or shop from some of the merchants. From here you can head to one of the three Publik Kitchen locations to get some locally roasted coffee and stomach filling brunch. 

Afternoon: 
If you aren't planning on heading out of SLC for the afternoon to hike, paddleboard, ski, or any of the other adventures in the area you can still find plenty to do within city limits. Take a walk in Liberty Park.  This beautiful park in the middle of the city has a lot to offer. From ponds, walking/running paths, fire pits, tennis courts, to Tracy Aviary you can spend hours here without ever getting bored. Sugarhouse is another great park and neighborhood, with tons of cute homes and shops you can take your time to feel like a local. Another great shopping option is downtown at the City Creek Center.

Nightlife: 
Once the sun goes down, there are still plenty of things to do around the city. Whether you're attending a Utes football game, grabbing dinner at ninth & ninth, hanging out in the Sugarhouse neighborhood, or heading to one of the bars downtown, you'll find plenty of great options. Our favorite cocktail spot on the trip was Under Current, we loved the industrial vibe and the cocktails were great.  Another popular option is Beer Bar/Bar-X, a pair of bars right next each other owned by Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy on Modern Family) and his family. 

 

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below. We'll be sure to add them to our list of things to do when we return to SLC!

Watch a Sunset Over The Great Salt Lake
  Antelope Island State Park  

Antelope Island State Park 

If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, do yourself a favor and take the 45 minute drive to Antelope Island State Park. You won't regret it. 

On our last night in Salt Lake City, we decided to head out to Antelope Island for a quiet evening and were awarded with great weather and beautiful views.

  Free range bison grazing  

Free range bison grazing 

Antelope Island State Park is one of those hidden gems that is unlike anything else around. It feels like stepping back in time as you watch the herds of free range bison grazing in every direction. 

After parking it is a short 1/2 mile hike to Buffalo Point, a great spot to set up a picnic and enjoy the views. Looking back to the east, you see the seven canyons that surround Salt Lake City soaking up the last of the day. To the west is The Great Salt Lake, spreading across the horizon as the sun sinks. 

In case you can't make it, here is a quick timelapse from our trip.  

Trust us, the views are well worth the $10 entrance fee.

Donut Falls - A Tasty Utah Hike
  The final stage of the hike to Donut Falls

The final stage of the hike to Donut Falls

DISCLAIMER: There is no food provided on this hike, but we can promise you some fun.

One of the most popular hikes in the Salt Lake City area, is a short and fun hike to the magnificent Donut Falls. It is an easy 3.5 mile total out and back trail. The trailhead is right of of the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. This hike is located in the watershed area, so dogs and swimming are not allowed.

Starting with a gradual trail through a beautiful creek bed and cottonwoods area, it's calming and easy. After a few miles you come to the waterfall scramble, you hike through some shallow waters and start your way up weaving your way up the rocks.

  Donut Falls

Donut Falls

Eventually you reach the cave, where the oh so famous "Donut Falls" are. Due to the popularity of this hike you might have to wait to get into the cave. Once inside you'll be standing in icy mountain water, but with an incredible view of the waterfall.  

  Cody above Donut Falls  

Cody above Donut Falls 

From here you can head above the cave to do a little more scramble hiking up or turn back to the trailhead. Cody did a little exploring above the cave and was awarded with some beautiful aerial views of the landscape and countless hikers on the trail. 

If you are in the Salt Lake City area and looking for a short, easy, but rewarding hike we recommend Donut Falls... especially throughout the summer and fall seasons. 

Brighton Lakes, Moose, & Sunset Peak
  Sunset Peak overlooking Brighton Lakes

Sunset Peak overlooking Brighton Lakes

Looking back on our trip, our favorite hike was the Brighton Lakes hike in Brighton, Utah. It was perfect weather, beautiful scenery, and we ran into very few people on the trail. 

Brighton is a beautiful 40 minute drive southeast of Salt Lake City.  Driving on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road in September may be one of the most breathtaking drives we've ever experienced. Arriving at the trailhead on a crisp morning, we strapped up the hiking boots and headed out.  

The beautiful thing about this hike is that you can make it as easy or difficult as you would like. It is an out and back trail allowing you to turn back at any of the three lakes or press on to the top of Sunset Peak.  We decided on the latter. After a quick and somewhat steep elevation gain we ended the first mile with Lake Mary. The water was down after a hot summer, but the granite formation surrounding Lake Mary were so calming. We sat here a little while to take it all in and then headed on. 

  Sarah enjoying the view of Lake Mary

Sarah enjoying the view of Lake Mary

The second stop, Lake Martha brought us our first trail friend of the trip - a young moose, who lazily laid at the edge of the water until Cody got a little too close to take a picture. Bullwinkle (our name for him), then stood up to let Cody know who was boss. It was at that moment we decided it was best to say our goodbyes.

  Bullwinkle at Lake Martha

Bullwinkle at Lake Martha

Lake Catherine is the final lake on this hike, sitting perfectly between the peaks of Brighton.  We grabbed a quick snack and decided to shoot for Sunset Peak. From here it was switchback after switchback until we reached the top and realized this was our first summit together! It was a great and windy feeling.  We snapped a few photos and headed back down. 

Cody decided to take the "trail less traveled," which we quickly realized was just a water runoff. After what seemed like an hour of scrambling and Sarah whining that our lives were endangered we made it back to Lake Catherine.  From here it was a smooth sailing back to the trailhead. 

 

 

 

  Us after summiting Sunset Peak

Us after summiting Sunset Peak

Bells Canyon Waterfall Hike
 Bells Canyon Waterfall

Bells Canyon Waterfall

It has been awhile since we have had a post on here, but in January 2016 we sold our car.  Doing so we have found that it has been significantly harder to get out and explore! 

Salt Lake City has been on our list of places to visit for quite some time. We booked our trip back in June leaving us plenty of time to plan out our trip.  At the top of our list of things to do was hike as much as we could.  Something that makes Salt Lake City unique is its proximity to so many beautiful outdoor destinations.  

One of the resources we used to plan our trip was a website and app called The Outbound.  The Outbound offers trail guides, tips, and advice on everything from packing lists to directions to the trail head.  We came upon the Bells Canyon hike using The Outbound.

The trail head is only about 30 minutes outside Salt Lake City.  We went on a Saturday so the parking lot was full, but the trail is long enough that we only saw people in passing.  The beginning of the trail takes you to the watershed lake, which was nearly dry at the time we were there.  From the lake, we continued on up to the waterfall.  We got caught in a passing rain storm which gave us time to have a snack and take a few sips of water. The hike quickly turned into a near scramble as we huffed and puffed our way to the top.  

 Sarah enjoying the beautiful stream running off of the waterfall

Sarah enjoying the beautiful stream running off of the waterfall

Stepping out from the woods to see the waterfall made every step worth it.  Not only was the waterfall beautiful, but the views of the valley were unbelievable as well.  We took time to enjoy the view and explored around the top.  After snapping some pictures, we headed back toward the valley.

 A view of the valley from the top of the hike

A view of the valley from the top of the hike

Angel Oak Tree and Beaufort, South Carolina
 The Angel Oak Tree

The Angel Oak Tree

During our honeymoon, we took a few side trips to explore more of the area.  In between Charleston and Savannah, we stopped to check out a massive tree.  Located on Johns Island is a tremendously old oak tree called the Angel Oak Tree.  We were told to stop by to check out this insanely old tree.  We were definitely in awe as we walked up to the tree.  Standing beneath the tree, we fell silent as we looked up at the massive limbs twisting above us.

 Wires and beams holding up the ancient limbs  

Wires and beams holding up the ancient limbs  

For a little background on the tree, it is over 1500 years with a height of 65 feet and a circumference of 25.5 feet. Many of the limbs are so massive that they are supported by wires and beams so that they do not completely collapse.  

 We snapped a few pictures, but pictures don't really do this old tree justice.   The only way to understand how breathtaking this tree is, is to experience it yourself.  A day trip to the Angel Oak Tree is a must if you find yourself near Charleston, or a good pit stop between Savannah and Charleston. 

While on Fripp Island, we decided to explore the town of Beaufort, a historic town in South Carolina's low country.  Beaufort is the second oldest town in South Carolina.  I had heard that a lot of filming for the movie, Forrest Gump, had taken place in and around Beaufort and wanted to go check out its picturesque views.  While driving to Beaufort, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  The drive was relaxing and picturesque.  Once we arrived in town, we noticed that there were people everywhere and that there was a big festival going on.  Although we did not attend the festival, we enjoyed walking around and looking at the view the town had of the surrounding water.  

 Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort, South Carolina

On our way out of town, we noticed that the houses in Beaufort were incredible.  We drove around for about a half hour looking at the unique, old homes that all boast antebellum character and architecture.  We stumbled across some amazing properties that must be visited in person.  Anyone interested in old homes, beautiful scenery, and lots of history would love a trip to Beaufort, South Carolina. 

Fripp Island, South Carolina
 Cody with the welcome sign

Cody with the welcome sign

After spending the first few days of the honeymoon exploring cities, we were ready for some relaxing beach time.  The final two day on Fripp Island provided plenty of relaxation, sun, and sand.

Fripp Island is located north of Hilton Head Island in South Carolina's low country.  The drive to the island was beautiful with lots of open land, water, and tree covered roads.  Arriving on Fripp Island, we checked in with the security gate, grabbed our pass to our Vacation Rental By Owner, and drove onto the island.  The island was filled with beautiful homes, picturesque golf courses, and windy roads.  We arrived at our rental, which was part of an apartment complex.  The apartment had the most beautiful view of the ocean from the back deck.  When we weren't at the beach, we spent our time sitting on the deck.

 Pelicans flying over Fripp Island 

Pelicans flying over Fripp Island 

The best part of Fripp Island was the beach.  After dropping our stuff off at the apartment, we quickly donned our swimsuits and made way to the beach for an early evening swim.  The one downfall of the island was that while we were located very close to the beach, during high tide there was no direct route and we had to drive to get to the beach.  We also were unaware that the popular mode of transportation on the island was by golf cart.  Since we were only there for a couple days, we did not rent one.  If we ever return to Fripp (hopefully we will!) we will definitely be renting one.  There is something about getting into a hot car after being wet and sandy from the beach that is definitely uncomfortable.  

 Fripp Island beach

Fripp Island beach

Despite not having a golf cart, the time at the beach was wonderful. We spent a full day on it, soaking up the sun.  The beach on Fripp was very secluded with no more than five groups of people on it at a time.  We were able to stake out a part of the beach not near anyone and sink our feet into the sand.  As the day went on, the tide went out, creating sand bars on which we could walk way out into the ocean with the depth not ever passing our knees.  We spent most of the day just sitting in the water, enjoying the gentle waves and sand.

Our VRBO was great as well.  The complex had a shared pool which we enjoyed for a quick dip instead of going all the way to the beach.  All amenities were provided as well like laundry, towels, a fully stocked kitchen (minus the food), and an amazing view.  We woke up one morning just before sunrise to watch the sun break upon the ocean.  Despite the cloudy weather, it was still beautiful and worth the lack of sleep. 

Fripp Island was the perfect end to our honeymoon, providing the relaxation we needed after a crazy season of wedding planning.  If you ever find yourself in need of some time away from the hectic pace of the world, Fripp Island is the perfect place to unwind and relax. 

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Field NotesCodyComment
Savannah, Georgia
 Sunset over Savannah  

Sunset over Savannah  

Savannah is the next city we stayed in during our honeymoon.  We arrived early afternoon and quickly parked the car and started exploring.  We bopped into a few shops along Broughton Street.  This street had everything from unique shops to the big chain retailers to cafes and restaurants.  We walked in the direction of the river to discover some of the original stairs leading down to the historic riverfront.  The old cobblestone street really captures the history of the city.  We walked for awhile, enjoying the scenery before checking in at our hotel.

 River walk in historic Savannah

River walk in historic Savannah

We chose to stay at the Marshall House Inn, a historic hotel that was once a hospital during the Civil War.  It is conveniently located on Broughton Street.  We were located close enough to walk to everything including River Street, City Market, and Forsyth Park.  The staff at the hotel was kind and welcoming.  We also enjoyed the late afternoon wine and appetizers that were served daily.  

 Collin's Quarter

Collin's Quarter

Our one full day we spent in Savannah was jam packed with activity, starting with a trip to Collin's Quarter, a coffeeshop and brunch spot.  Since we already had breakfast at the hotel, we stopped for just their coffee.  It did not disappoint.  Cody thoroughly enjoyed his Flight to Oz, in which he enjoyed four different coffee selections.  I had the Spiced Lavender Mocha, which satisfied my taste buds immensely.  All the spices in it made it seem like it was perfect for a late fall drink.  But I still enjoyed it in July.  

Wanting to learn more about this historic city, we asked our concierge for recommendations for a tour of Savannah.  We were encouraged to go with Oglethorpe Trolley Tours.  We were picked up directly from our hotel and taken to the starting point of the tour, where we boarded a trolley and began a 90 minutes tour of the city.  We learned all about the different historic districts of Savannah, places to eat, where movies had been filmed, and made a quick 10 minute stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  The interior of this cathedral was exquisite and worth the stop. 

 St. John the Baptist Cathedral

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

After our trolley ride, we had a late lunch at Treylor Park where we had PB&J Chicken Wings followed by the Fish Stick Tacos.  Both were unique and delicious--and not so healthy :).  We walked around the city more, enjoying River Street and many of the shops around the area. Leopold's Ice Cream has been around since 1919 and we couldn't leave the city without trying it. Cody tried some of their original flavors and I had some newer classics.  Both were worth the wait.  After ice cream, we got caught in a passing rainstorm and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and wait out the rain.

Our last dinner in Savannah was at the Olde Pink House.  This was an old home that had been converted into a restaurant.  It had a cool bar in the basement where people dined by candlelight.  The upstairs consisted of many rooms of varying sizes.  We were seated in a part of the restaurant that had been a recent addition.  For dinner we started with a couple of appetizers of Southern Sushi and a Cheese Plate.  The Southern Sushi was grilled shrimp and grits made into a sushi roll.  The cheese plate highlighted honeycomb from the Savannah Bee Company.  We split an entree of pork tenderloin served with a sweet potato and collard greens.  Our server kindly brought us a congratulatory dessert in honor of our honeymoon, consisting of fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  All in all, the meal was delicious and the service was great.  

Savannah is another southern city with lots of charm and hospitality that we are both happy we had the opportunity to enjoy!  We hope you get a chance to walk amongst it's romantic squares and enjoy the beauty of it's Spanish moss.  

 Ferry in Savannah

Ferry in Savannah