Celebration in Las Vegas

Over Labor Day weekend we surprised a most beloved cousin, Cole, for his 30th birthday in Las Vegas. We spent Friday night camping in Cedar City, UT. They have a cute Main Street where we spent some of the evening tasting wine and eating pizza.

We made it to Vegas Saturday morning and surprised our cousin at DW Bistro. Cole had no idea we were coming, his wife, Kelsey, did an excellent job at planning. Her sister and brother in law also surprised Cole for the weekend and w got to meet some other friends of there’s that live in Vegas as well. We had bottomless mimosas for brunch and then gambled a little on the strip. We ended up back at Caesars’ where our cousins were staying and relaxed poolside for awhile. We checked in to Alexis Park where we were staying for the night and got fancied up for a night out with dinner at Canalettos in the Venetian and drinks around the strip. That night we were also able to meet up with some friends from Texas who also happened to be there that weekend.

Sunday we checked out various casinos and did a little more gambling. We drank beers at Hop Nuts brewing and Banger Brewing on Fremont. We then moved over to Heart Attack Grill for delicious burgers and a unique experience complete with wearing hospital gowns and getting spanked when you didn’t finish all of your food! We casino hopped for awhile and then Derek and I headed to stay with my life long best friend, Sharon, her husband, Ricky, and their two kiddos for the evening.

Monday morning we went to breakfast with Sharon and her two kids at Makers and Founders. We said our good-byes and made our way back to Utah. We stopped in the Valley of Fire (aptly named since it was HOT) to enjoy a bit of nature before making it home.

It was another fantastic getaway although not long enough with people we love dearly!


Long weekend in Tahoe

This is definitely a late post, but I’m finally getting around to a small recap of a long weekend in Lake Tahoe, CA. Derek and some friends spent the weekend skiing at Heavenly and Kirkwood resorts, while I spent most of the weekend recovering from a knock out cold and a stomach bug. I had hoped to ski at least one day, but my body did not follow the plan. I ventured out long enough to explore the lake and snaps some photos and join the rest of the group for meals at local places such as Base Camp Pizza, Cold Water Brewery and Grill, The Brewery at Lake Tahoe, and sushi at Off the Hook. I hope to revisit Lake Tahoe when I am well and have the energy to do more!


National Park trip: Crater Lake, the Redwoods, and Lassen National Parks

One of our goals as a couple is to see all of the national parks in the U.S. We actually keep a little map in our house where we put stickers on the parks we’ve been to. This past weekend we ventured out on a mini road trip through parts of the northwest to hit 3 national parks.

Our original plan was to head west and spend 4 days in Sequoia National Park. Due to the fires in the area and a prediction of unfavorable conditions, we made a week of decision to change our course. We tossed around Bandlands, Yellowstone, or Tetons, but ultimately decided that since we had a few extra days off we were going to go as far as we could and see as much as we could. So, we plotted out a route to see Crater Lake, Redwoods, and Lassen Volcanic National Parks. 3 parks passing through 4 states in 4 1/2 days!
We left on Thursday afternoon and drove the long stretch from SLC to Crater Lake, OR. We decided to drive as far as we could and stop whenever we felt like we were done for the day. We have a 50/50 rule when it comes to driving so we each took turns behind the wheel. We drove through the desert of Nevada and enjoyed the sunset along the mountains. Time seemed to go quickly due to a binge listening of the Serial podcast. Derek had heard it before, I hadn’t; we listened to like 10 episodes back to back which is the time frame it takes to gets to Oregon! We made it to Klamath Falls, OR. One of the last little towns before the park.

After a brief hotel stay at an awesome resort ranch in the area (something Derek surprised me with), we drove the hour we had left to Crater Lake on Friday. Crater Lake is impressive. It’s beautiful and the water is just so blue! We drove the crater rim loop and stopped at various viewpoints as well as doing a short hike to Plaikni falls.



Although there is not as much to do in this park as others, we could have done some other longer hikes, but given our packed agenda we headed on to Northern California.  In 2010, for our first anniversary, we did a California roadtrip from the Redwoods down to San Diego. So, we have been in the Redwoods before, but it became one of our favorite parks after that trip and it was an easy decision to stop there again. On our first trip to the Redwoods we stopped in a little beach town for dinner. We were convinced this time around that that town was Crescent City. So all day Friday we were excited to stop and eat in Cresent City before setting up camp. Turns out our memories failed us and Cresent City was not the little beach town we remembered from before. We ate a platter of fried seafood there anyway after a scenic drive through Stout Grove and then set up camp amongst the Redwoods. On Saturday, we drove to the southern part of the park and stopped at various trails and beaches along the way back up to our campsite. The Redwoods are just incredible! You feel like a tiny ant as you walk among them. Derek said they almost seem aliens, like the don’t belong on this plant. We checked out out the Trees of Mystery and took a gondola ride up to the top of the forest, took a beach walk along Dry Lagoon, hiked the Lady Bird Johnson, Big Tree, and Cathedral Loop Trails, wandered through Fern Canyon, and ate dinner on the beach where the Klamath River meets the ocean. There we watched around 30 seals and sea lions frolicking in the waves where the river rushes in to the Pacific. We watched them chase birds, dive for fish, and surf on the waves.


After a pit stop in Trinidad (which turned out to be the beach town we were looking for earlier!) and one in Redding, we arrived in Lassen on Sunday afternoon. We hiked to Bumpass’s Hell (yes, that’s it’s name) which is a large area of sulphuric mud pits that you can view from pathways connecting them to each other. You smell the strong stench of sulphur and see the smoke almost immediately as the mud bubbles up from the pits. These sulphuric pits are in various parts of the volcanic park. We saw others right off the road at Sulphur Works after a short hike to two mountain lakes.


That night, Derek built a fire after we set up camp again, and we enjoyed the cool mountain evening under the stars. We packed up camp for the last time Monday morning, stopped at the Devastated Area and Manzanita Lake, and then began the journey through California and Nevada back to Salt Lake City.

Snow in Great Basinย 

This past weekend we ventured out to Great Basin National Park in Nevada with some friends. It is surprisingly close to Salt Lake, just about a 4 hour drive and short distance over the Utah-Nevada border. We set up camp at the Lower Lehman Creek Campground on Friday and hiked the Lehman Creek trail on Saturday. We went about 4 miles up to the base of Wheeler peak. The trail was still mostly covered in snow and there weren’t any noticeable tracks from the base up. The hike was beautiful and involved snow ball fights and me post holing so much my shins are black and blue (I’ve discovered I’m cursed when it comes to post holing, it seemed to only happen to me the entire 8 miles). That afternoon we passed the rest of the afternoon playing cards and corn hole and enjoying a camp fire. On Sunday we did the Grand Palace tour of Lehman caves. It has been quite some time since Derek and I have been in a cave, but it was a nice reminder of a favorite pastime. We headed back to Salt Lake that afternoon with a stop for some Mexican food in Delta, UT. Another National Park in the books.