Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I have been up for 22-hours.

Jonathan will be home from work pretty soon and then we are headed up to Charlotte for the beginning of our adventure! The only thing left to pack are our passports, and the only thing left to do is shower. It's actually unbelievable; I look grungy as all get out, sitting around the house in my underwear for the better part of the morning until I remembered I had to drop off some important paperwork to Human Resources which is about 10-min away from the house. I quickly put on a 4-yr old grey dress, slipped on some grey flip flops and bolted out the door, driving in an almost haze as my stomach grumbled from lack of sleep (Does that ever happen to you? If you work night shift it would!..or at least it does for me.). When I got to HR there were a bunch of firetrucks everywhere but I ignored them, flipped into a parking space, and practically jogged to the door (paperwork had to be in by noon; it was 11:55). I signed in and they told me the bad news - the elevator wasn't working. No problem, I practically ran up four flights of stairs and was impressed with myself that I wasn't out of breath. Handed in my paperwork to the appropriate person at 11:57 and ran back down to check out. As I was exiting the door into the -blistering- 96F heat, a woman commented on how beautiful I look in my dress. [Do you see these bags on my face? The smeared makeup? The sort of lost look in my eyes that happens after a grueling 12-hour shift and then hurriedly packing last minute items before a huge trip?] I smiled and continued almost running to my car.

Just checked in with the weather. It's still snowing/miserable in Yellowstone right now, but I have a feeling God is going to bless us while we're there! On June 3rd, which is as far as the forecast goes, we're looking at "mostly sunny" skies, high of 56 and low of 35. We might be dipping ourselves into the hot springs after all!

Some photos from Flickr to see what we will be adventuring in for the next two weeks:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mock Pack

I worked this M-W, so it wasn't until tonight that I have had time to compile this post. Loading these photos tonight also motivated me to [do the terrible task] check all of our CF cards and download "new" photos (from as far back as November 2010) to our external hard drive, freeing up over 22GB of memory space between all cards...Think that will hold us over for the first six days of vacation? (: Only 7 days until we head out!

A) Collapsable cooler
B) Two sets of hiking poles
C) My sleeping bag**
D) Husband's sleeping bag**
E) Two person tent
F) Sleeping pad 1
G) Tripod (which I later decided to forgo and pack the monopod instead)
H) Sleeping pad 2
I) Hammock (not sure if we will be able to use, but why not?)
J) Two headlamps (one not seen - Ashley is mailing one I forgot at our last trip), can opener, large knife, extra batteries
K) Medical supplies/first aid kid, pictured above the K, the yellow package to the slight northwest point of that; above and between K/J are two sets of "rain suits"
L) Two sets of plates, cups, bowls, spoon/fork/knife combo; cooking pans
M) Spare tent setup supplies (broom/dust pan, mallet, spikes)
N) Cooking pots in mesh bag
O) Antibacterial hand/face wipes
P/Q) Coleman 2L hydration backpacks
R) Where all of this minus ** needs to fit!!


So our sleeping bags will be going into one carry on suitcase. Our clothing combined will go into another carry on suitcase. The duffle bag above will be checked baggage. An interesting note about the sleeping bags: both J's and mine are the same exact bag, but I have the medium compression sack while he has the large. Isn't it amazing the difference in sizes makes? In fact, I am sort of having to shove his sleeping bag into our carry on while mine fits it quite smoothly.

In choosing clothing, I had to keep a few things in mind: what will the weather be like? how many days do I *have* to pack for? what pieces of clothing are absolutely essential? will there be laundering options available at any of the campsites? I made a huge pile of clothes on our bed and weeded through them. For this trip it's more about functionality and comfort than any type of stylistic approach (in my opinion). I love summer dresses but I do not want to hike 5-miles in one. From this huge pile, I was able to weedle in down to about five days worth of clothes, knowing we will have a lot of laundering options once we get out of Zion (and if you're following along, that's by the third day into our vacation). From what I have gathered, it is important to dress in layers in this part of the country, so for almost every "under" shirt I have a button down long-sleeve collared shirt.

The big conundrum is that Yellowstone/Grand Teton are supposed to be chilllllly (it was snowing in Yellowstone over the the middle of May!!), while all other parks will be lows of 50s (night) and highs of 78. Yellowstone/GT have an average of 20s at night! So in go the jeans and jackets filling up precious luggage space. /sigh/ On the day we leave, we plan to wear the bulkiest items, so on go our hiking boots/shoes and in go our hiking sandals. I imagine I will be wearing an inappropriate for SC coat the day we load the plane.

Do any of you have packing suggestions? How do you manage light packing with cold weather?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Our Upcoming Trip!

While financial/healthstuffs have been really stressing me out in the evenings after I get off of work, I am everyday looking more and more forward to our upcoming trip. I sort of forgot how soon it was (12 more days!) until our good friend Melanie, who we'll be visiting in SLC, recently emailed me about info. !!!!

In truth, I have been planning this vacation for over 6-months. Of course that wasn't every day planning by any means, but I made sure to book the necessary campsites exactly six months before our intended arrival to the several parks we'll be canvassing. These places get competitive! I'm really happy we're going right as the season opens because that should mean less crowds and crisp weather. I can't wait to fall asleep at night alongside my husband in the desert air.

I wanted to share our itinerary (shorthanded) with you all, as I think I did this for our Chicago trip. I was also going to provide a price breakdown, like last time, especially since I receive questions from friends about "how" we make travel happen within our budget and time. Yes, we will be spending a lot of our time driving. I'm sure by the end we will be sick of it, but I am excited to see everything outside of wintertime.


Day 0, May 25 -- leave CLT for SLC, arriving at night
Day 1, May 26 -- leave from SLC to Zion National Park, UT
Day 2, May 27 -- Zion
Day 3, May 28 -- leave Zion for Grand Canyon NP (North Rim), AZ
Day 4, May 29 -- leave Grand Canyon for Bryce NP, UT
Day 5, May 30 -- leave Bryce for Capitol Reef NP, UT (lunch stop), arrive in Arches NP, UT
Day 6, May 31 -- day in Arches, head back to SLC in the evening
Day 7, June 1 -- leave SLC for Idaho Falls, ID (lunch stop), arrive in Yellowstone NP, MT/WY
Day 8, June 2 -- Yellowstone
Day 9, June 3 -- Yellowstone
Day 10, June 4 -- Yellowstone
Day 11, June 5 -- leave Yellowstone for Grand Tetons NP, WY, arrive back to SLC
Day 12, June 6 -- leave SLC for CLT

Approximate Costs (for two people)

- Airfare: $612.80
- Car rental: $185.39
- Lodging: $141.00
- Fuel: $320.00 [based on approx. 2000 miles of travel (rounding up), a vehicle with 25mpg (rounding down), and gas $4.00/gallon (hopefully rounding up??)]
- Food: $150.00
- Activities: $150.00 (being generous, as most of our activities will be hiking)
--TOTAL: $1559.19 (and this amount reflects about 6-months of our allotted travel savings money)

I don't know what most of our friends spend on trips, but at $780 per person, I don't think this too much travel money for such a long trip to so many places, and for what we consider one of our "big vacations" of the year. We might be overdoing it with all of the driving, but that will be a lesson learned at a later date. Surprised by our car rate for 12-days of renting? I'll share details on that soon. Impressed with our lodging costs? Try camping next time you travel. This will be our first flighted camping trip and we're super stoked. I am doing a mock pack trial this weekend (keep in mind we're utilizing duffel bags instead of backpacking frames) and plan to take some photos to show you all how this can easily be done!

What do you guys think? Are we going to kill one another after driving for so long? Did we spend too much on this trip? What activities would you be keen to do if you were on a similar trip?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

water, advil, deep sigh

Do you ever feel just incredibly stressed? This is the second (possibly third) summer in a row that I have over-committed myself. I am not necessarily complaining, sure it's awesome to travel a lot, see friends and new places...and when I am planning these adventures I always seem to forget how quickly the traveling can become exhausting. We are headed to Salt Lake City, etc. in two weeks. While I have all of our campsites booked, our general itinerary (preferred hikes and views) planned, I still feel like there is a ton to do. I've only breezed through our two Yellowstone/Grand Tetons travel books and feel super overwhelmed by the diversity of the park. Zion/Bryce/Arches/GC appear to be so straight forward; there are consistencies between TripAdvisor, Fodors, Lonely Planet with top notch things to do. With Yellowstone/GT, there is just so much - so many areas, so many tips/advice to avoid crowds, so many trails. It doesn't help that NPS doesn't allow for advanced reservations, and I refuse to stay at a Xanterra site. On top of that, I have a quickly approaching Washington/Oregon trip for late July, a small nursing reunion mid June, and a Maine/Montreal trip in September! I don't even want to think about the 9 credits I signed myself up for this summer semester as well.

The last five days were great. I was able to spend much-needed quality time with Jonathan -- we made a day trip to Annapolis and then DC, I watched huge quantities of television, slept even more than that... and now I am headed back to work tomorrow.

The 16+ hours I spent driving lent to lots of reflection, as it always does. Quite a few things I wanted to write about popped into my head, but those will have to be done at a later date. I did want to say one thing, though -- how much I love our church. I have written about it briefly before, but it isn't until I am away for so long that I realize the true blessing it is in my life. I will add more to this later..

What a disjointed post, I am sorry. I going to do some Bible reading and hopefully fall fast asleep. Goodnight everyone!