TRAVEL

RAINBOW BRIDGE

IMG_6828.JPG

WHAT IS IT?

Rainbow Bridge is the world’s highest natural bridge spanning 234 ft. and with a height of 290ft. The bridge is made of sandstone and is a primary example of stream erosion in the Colorado Plateau area. Rainbow Bridge and the surrounding area is considered sacred to the local Native American tribes and is protected by the National Park Service.

WHERE IS IT?

Rainbow Bridge is located in the remote parts of the greater Lake Powell area, just northwest of Navajo Mountain in Southern Utah.

HOW CAN I GET THERE?

  • By Boat:

    Boaters can access this remote location via Lake Powell. A floating dock, the falls and rises with the water levels, is available for boats. From the dock, Rainbow Bridge is a short and easy quarter-mile hike away. Bathrooms are available at the dock. No camping is allowed.

  • By Hike:

    A very long and strenuous 32 mile round-trip hike starts from the northeast side of Navajo Mountain. Camping is available in select areas but not in the designated Rainbow Bridge area. The hike itself is extremely hilly but provides spectacular views of the Lake Powell backcountry. Give yourself at least 2-4 days to hike in and out.

    • How to Get There:

      The trailhead is accessed from Highway 160. Take the 98 North to Indian Route 16. From there go north to Road 434, and then north on Road 487. Road 487 is a 4 mile dirt road. High clearance is strongly recommended. When using Google Maps, “Navajo Mountain High School” will be the nearest location to the trailhead.

    • Safety:

      Please take note that for those attempting the hike to Rainbow Bridge that this is a hike suited for experienced hikers. There are a few spots along the trail for water, but it is scarce. Bring 1-2 gallons of water to start your hike and bring a water filtration device (you will need it). The trail itself is marked by cairns and at times they can be difficult to find…one small deviation from the trail can be deadly. If you do get lost make sure to follow your steps back to the last cairn and begin again. It is strongly recommended to do this hike in a group with experienced hikers. If you do decide to go solo, bring a map or GPS system, and notify someone that you are hiking.

Hiking through the backcountry en route to Rainbow Bridge

Hiking through the backcountry en route to Rainbow Bridge

QqfMa35%SY+GpKpYtlhwvw.jpg
TufbejZ4RW2bRvUvIT3XUQ.jpg

ICELAND: RING ROAD OVERVIEW

Stokness, one of the many wonders you'll expereince as your travel Iceland's ring road

Stokness, one of the many wonders you'll expereince as your travel Iceland's ring road

LET'S JUMP RIGHT IN:

So you're tired of seeing all those Iceland pictures on Instagram and have finally decided to make the trip to see for yourself! Now you're just looking for how to plan. Perfect! Here is a quick and simple one week itinerary of how to get the most out of your journey. 

 

THE RING ROAD: 

The ring road is approximately 800 miles (1300 kilometers) that traces the perimeter of Iceland. If you have 7-10 days, it's arguably the best way to experience this beautiful country. The road is two lanes, mainly paved, unless you are taking some shortcuts (which may be dirt or gravel roads), and is in fairly good shape (minus a few potholes). 

 

STEP #1: GET A RENTAL CAR

Yup. It's super easy. A one week rental from any of the major car rental agencies runs around $300 for the week, depending on how much insurance you're willing to get on it. Looking to camp in a van? There are plenty of options for that too! It is a bit more expensive... unless, of course, you're splitting the cost amongst friends.

 

STEP #2: HOUSING

There are lots of ways to experience Iceland. The two most reasonable ways to travel the ring road, given the weather, are either car-camping or airbnb-ing. As for my trip, I found reasonably priced airbnb's (around $100/night) in each of the places listed below.

 

STEP #3: PLACES TO STAY

Okay, now we're getting into it. Let's say you have one week to travel (it'll take at least one week to do the full ring). Here are some great cities/towns to stay in or explore. Together they give a great feel for the Iceland experience. Posted below is a map for your reference to the ring road:

Ring Road

Ring Road

 

A: KEFLAVIK AIRPORT TO REYKJAVIK

You've just landed at Keflavik airport. If you get in early in the day, you can make a morning or afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. It's a little pricey (around $60-70), but it's a classic sight, especially if you're looking to take a dip in the local hot springs. If you arrive later in the afternoon or evening, you can head directly to the capital city of Reykjavik. There you will be able to find several places to eat or get groceries, and also many reasonably priced places to stay the night.

*If you are staying more than a week, I strongly recommend driving the Golden Circle before continuing the ring road. Give yourself at least one to two days to do this.

 

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

 

A TO B: REYKJAVIK TO VIK

Along the road from Reykjavik to Vik, you'll find a slew of gems - waterfalls, black sand beaches, even an airplane wreckage site... just to name a few. 

When you arrive at Vik, there you'll find a quaint and cozy town with plenty to do. Vik is great for bird watching (namely for puffins - those cute orange and white looking birds) and walking the black sand beaches of Dyrholaey.

Dyrholaey.

Dyrholaey.

 

B TO C: VIK TO HOFN

The road from Vik to Hofn is incredibly scenic with tons to see (when is there not?!). This portion of the ring road is where you'll find Skaftafell National Park, the glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon, and several glaciers. At these locations you have opportunity to explore ice caves, go ice climbing, or even walk along glaciers. 

Hofn is a very pretty port town that offers tasty local seafood. If you arrive before sunset I strongly recommend a visit to Stokness to explore. It's only a few miles down the road and well worth a trip.

Jokulsarlon

Jokulsarlon

 

C TO D: HOFN TO EGILSSTADIR OR SEYDISFJORDUR

Traveling the ring road from Hofn to eastern Iceland presents a few optional shortcuts. If you're staying true to the ring road then you will pass along many fjords. Eventually, you will come upon the largest city in east Iceland, Egilsstadir. I suggest going a bit further east to the coastal town of Seydisfjordur where you will have spectacular view of the coastline and some artsy shops to look around at.

Seydisfjordur

Seydisfjordur

 

D TO E: EASTERN ICELAND TO MYVATN

If you're looking to spend some time in northeast Iceland, I recommend Bakkagerdi for puffin watching. Another popular spot is Dettifoss. Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in all of Europe. Moving westward, you'll reach Myvatn.

Myvatn lies in the northernmost part of Iceland. It is full of geothermal wonders, including the Myvatn hot baths, a more scenic and less expensive version of the Blue Lagoon. Don't forget to check out Grjótagjá caves as well. If you're looking for some hiking, I recommend Hverfjall crater.

Myvatn hot springs

Myvatn hot springs

  

E TO F: MYVATN TO AKUREYRI

As you move west from Mvyatn you reach Akureyri, the capital of the north. This place is just lovely. Tucked between fjords, the city center is the largest outside of Reykjavik. Whale watching is available here, as are many places to eat and find lodging. I recommend venturing out into the smaller towns on the outskirts of Akureyri, located further north, up the fjords. Make sure to see Godafoss on your way into Akureyri. Godafoss is a powerful and impressive waterfall that is well worth teh detore. 

Godafoss

Godafoss

 

F TO A: BACK TO REYKJAVIK

From Akureyri to Reykjavik there is the famous Kirkjufellsfoss - a must-see on your return trip home. 

Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufellsfoss

 

THAT'S A WRAP!

Remember that these places are only a general overview in helping you form your own unique ring road experience. Quite honestly, there is too much to see and do in just a week. But if a week is all you have, well then, this may be a good start.

Looking for more information regarding Iceland? Don't forget to check out my other blog post. As always, I'd love to hear from you about what's been helpful and what I missed.

ICELAND

fullsizeoutput_56f.jpeg

 

TIPS FOR TRAVEL

WHEN TO GO:

Summer:

  • The nicest weather
  • Longer days
  • The most crowds
  • Most expensive

Winter:

  • The coldest weather (snow)
  • Shorter days
  • The least crowds
  • Northern Lights
  • Least expensive

 

GETTING THERE:

Iceland Air: 

  • Provides a stopover for up to seven days in Iceland on your way to a European city. (I did this from Tucson, AZ to Brussels with six day stopover in Iceland). 
  • Pros: Make it a longer vacation with a trip to Europe.
  • Cons: You only get up to seven days in Iceland. Enough to scratch the surface but not enough to see everything.

WOW Airlines: 

  • Flies from major US cities into Iceland.
  • Pros: It's cheaper than Iceland Air
  • Cons: It's cheaper than Iceland Air. No stopover to Europe.

 

WHEN YOU'RE THERE:

Food:

  • If you're traveling on a budget DON'T EAT OUT! Restaurant eating can be pricey. Look to spend $15-25 dollars per person/per meal if you do.
  • DO go grocery shopping and meal plan. This is gonna save $$$. I recommend BONUS.

Housing:

  • Iceland during the summer is busy so hostels/hotels could be pricey and/or unavailable.
  • Airbnb is a nice option. I spent around $100/night for a cozy place just outside Reykjavik on the Golden Circle.

 

IMG_8359.JPG

Transportation:

  • Rent a car.
  • I used Sad Cars. Older cars but less expensive. (See picture on right)
  • Also, gas is expensive. Like $7/gallon expensive. So an economic vehicle will do you well.

When Traveling:

  • Make a plan
  • Do research before and plan out your sights.
  • Instagram is a great tool to use to see where others have been. 

 

TRAVEL:

IMG_8224.JPG
  • Make a day of the Golden Circle
  • Make several days or a week of traveling around the Ring Road
  • Visit the DC-3 Plane Crash (picture on right)
  • Visit the Black Sand beaches in Dyrholaey
  • Visit the Glacial Lagoon
  • For something more touristy visit Blue Lagoon
  • Get in a natural hot spring
  • See Waterfalls (below)

 

 

 

WATERFALLS TO SEE:

Haifoss

Haifoss

Gljúfrabúi

Gljúfrabúi

Skogafoss

Skogafoss

Gulfoss

Gulfoss

Seljalandfoss

Seljalandfoss

Secret Falls

Secret Falls

LAST WORD:

As usual, don't hesitate to ask for more suggestions!

If you find this helpful or intriguing please share with your friends! 

SEDONA: RED ROCKS, L'AUBERGE, AND TIBETAN MONKS

The secret is out! Sedona boasts one of the top getaways, not just in Arizona, but in the nation. Visitors to this red rocked paradise will not be disappointed with the large array of outdoor adventure, fine dining, and resorts that this small but lively city has to offer. Just this last week I had the privilege of staying an evening with some very talented photographers and filmmakers at one of Sedona's top resorts, L'auberge. 

L'auberge is one of Sedona's finest resorts. Nestled just above Oak Creek and hidden by the surrounding oak, L'auberge boasts some of the finest dining to be had in all of Sedona. Guests will be delighted by a fantastic staff, beatiful hidden cottages, spa, outdoor activites, and the overall aura of tranquility.

L'auberge is one of Sedona's finest resorts. Nestled just above Oak Creek and hidden by the surrounding oak, L'auberge boasts some of the finest dining to be had in all of Sedona. Guests will be delighted by a fantastic staff, beatiful hidden cottages, spa, outdoor activites, and the overall aura of tranquility.

While at L'auberge guests can sneak away to enjoy the red rocked landscapes and trail systems by horse, bike, ATV, or hike. There's no shortage of things to do!

While at L'auberge guests can sneak away to enjoy the red rocked landscapes and trail systems by horse, bike, ATV, or hike. There's no shortage of things to do!

At L'auberge I was able to witness the extraordinary talent and concentration of five Tibetan Monks who are on a two year tour of America. The monks were working on what is called a ''mandala," an incredibly detailed and elaborate sand painting that is created over a week. With intense concentration the monks worked six to eight hours a day creating their masterpiece. At the end of the week, the mandala was finished - and with such lively and exuberant color! 

Tibetan Monks hard at work on their mandala as they reach their completion.

Tibetan Monks hard at work on their mandala as they reach their completion.

 

At the closing ceremony the monks took the time to celebrate those that had hosted them, and spoke more about the meaning and purpose of the mandala that they had created. To keep in line with the discipline of non-permanence, the mandala was swept away. Some of the remaining sand was given to all that were present, and some was sprinkled into Oak Creek to promote blessing and healing for the land.

The remaining sand is sprinkled into the creek to promote blessing and healing.

The remaining sand is sprinkled into the creek to promote blessing and healing.

BASEBALL STADIUM TOUR - 30 PLUS ONE

THE ORIGINAL GOAL - TO WATCH A GAME IN ALL 30 STADIUMS

In my early twenties I set out to complete a goal that I had heard others do - to see a baseball game in all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. Summer by summer, I dedicated my paychecks to flights and tickets for games around the country, and slowly chipped away at the goal. I slept on couches, took buses, and stayed until the final out was made in each game. When it came down to the end I was taking long road trips across several states just to see one game at a time. I finished my goal in 2014 when, with tears in my eyes, I set foot in Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. After all the miles and hot dogs and triple plays (I saw two) I had finished my goal. I was done.

AND THEN...

And then, years later, the Atlanta Braves, my favorite team, built a new stadium that opened in April 2017. It was time to continue the baseball tour and visit stadium 31. The new ballpark is called SunTrust Park.

STADIUMS RANKED

And if you're curious what my favorite stadiums are I ranked them on a few things:

Ambience 

Fan experience

Food

Aesthetics.

 

Here's my ranked list:

#1: AT&T Park

#1: AT&T Park

 

1. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)

2. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

3. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)

4. PNC Field (Pittsburgh Pirates)

5. Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals)

6. Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)

7. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)

8. Petco Field (San Diego Padres)

Comerica Park

Comerica Park

9. Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds)

10. Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City Royals)

11. Target Field (Minnesota Twins)

12. Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)

13. SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves)

14. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)

15. Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)

16. Nationals Park (Washington Nationals)

17. Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)

Chase Field

Chase Field

18. Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers)

19. Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)

20. Turner Field* (Atlanta Braves) 

21. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)

22. Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays)

23. US Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox)

24. Tropicana Park (Tampa Bay Rays)

25. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers)

26. Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels)

27. Globe Life Park in Arlington (Texas Rangers)

28. PNC Park (Philadelphia Phillies)

29. Citi Field (New York Mets)

30. Marlins Park (Florida Marlins)

31. O.co Coliseum (Oakland Athletics)

*No longer in use

 

 

All 30 MLB Stadiums

All 30 MLB Stadiums

iphone Photography Tips: What I've Learned

MY BACKGROUND

If you've stumbled upon this, I'm glad you're here. But first, a quick disclaimer: I have no formal photography training. I shoot only iPhone. Everything I am about to share here is either self-taught or tips I've picked up from other iPhone photographers I admire. If you're like me, you don't have the funds to buy an expensive camera and editing software. However, my experience has taught me that you don't have to have a professional camera and spend lots of money to take quality photos (no offense to the professionals). 

CONS 

Let's be honest. The iPhone camera is not a professional camera. But it's not bad either. It shoots at 12 megapixels, light years below what you would get with a professional camera but enough to take a decent shot. Although the iPhone 7 is the best camera yet for the iPhone (I'm writing this May 2017), it still struggles to capture certain types of depth, detail, and lighting.

PROS

Lightweight. Easy to carry. Point and click. Easy to navigate photo album. Easy to upload photos.

TIPS PART 1

Let's start from the beginning.

Select a subject matter: I love to travel and go hiking, so a lot of what I'm taking pictures of is landscapes. But do what works for you! If you love portraits, then you'll take lots of photos of people.

My next objective is to capture as many photos as I can (I mean ALOT) and then go back to see what my favorites are. Remember: More is better. I give myself lots of options by taking lots of pictures. As I get better at selecting what photos I'm going for, the less pictures I will take. 

TIPS PART 2

When it comes to detail, depth, and lighting iPhone can be a challenge. But there are ways to make up for this.

Lighting is your best friend and worst enemy. I rely heavily on lighting - time of day and direction I'm shooting my shot - to get a favorable shot. I generally shoot away from the sun. The only exception with this is when I want I silhouette an object. 

I also take lots of time on composition - setting up my shot by what and who is in the photo. By having a subject matter (person or thing) at certain places in the shot I can fill the photo frame and make the photo interesting for the viewer. Sometimes adding a foreground can add a dimension of depth. Capturing certain colors or textures can also add variety in my shot.

Change your perspective. Hold the phones different ways to capture different depths. Play with the settings to adjust the light. The more you familiarize yourself with the settings the more you will find what works for you.

And finally, a good edit can make worlds of difference. Editing will be what makes a good photo a great photo. 

EDITING PROCESS

I always recommend using no filter when shooting just because you can always change how the photo looks later. It is much harder to do that in reverse. Get yourself a good editing app. I currently edit within Instagram which gives me all I need to feel comfortable with my shots. It's easy, free, quick (I don't want to spend lots of time editing when I want to upload and share a photo) and I believe the quality is not far off other apps you"ll have to pay for.

If you're looking for something besides Instagram for a quick edit try Snapseed or VSCO. I have used both of these in the past with success but I know far less about them.

Photo editing presets are becoming more popular too. These are available for purchase through different photographers on Instagram.

YOU TELL ME

I know this is a quick run-down. But I wanted to share how simple it can be to take quality shots with an iPhone. And, of course, knowing a good editing software will help take your photos from good to great.

Now I'd love to hear from you. What has/hasn't worked for you? And as always, if you've found this article helpful please share with others.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

"A tulip doesn't strive to impress anyone. It doesn't struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn't have to. It is different." - Marianne Williamson

The fields are adorned with tulips of all variety and color at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.

The fields are adorned with tulips of all variety and color at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.

WHAT YOU'LL SEE

Tulips. Tulips. And more tulips. Row and rows of them. All shapes and sizes. All colors and varieties. It's all here. Bring friends, bring family and come wander through the fields. Buy some popcorn and take the kids on the giant slide. Come early and catch the sun rise over the snow caps of Mt. Hood. Watch the hot air balloons take off. Buy some tulips for your loved ones. Buy some seeds to plant in your yard. Peruse the local artisan booths. Enjoy wine tasting. And takes lots of pictures! That's what you'll get at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. 

HISTORY

What started as a humble 15 acres in the 1980's has now transformed into a 40 acre field of tulips. Tulips are planted each October by three machines purchased from Holland. Meticulous measures are made to make sure the tulips are free of disease, weeds, insects and erosion. Every year a new variety of tulips are planted and arranged differently for people from all over the world to enjoy.

WHERE

Woodburn, Oregon. An hour south of Portland on the I-5. 

WHEN

Generally, the Festival runs from late March to late April/early May.

HOW MUCH

Admission to get into the Festival is $5/person or $20/car (if there are more than 4 people).

MORE INFORMATION

http://www.woodenshoe.com/events/tulip-fest/tickets/

IMG_4316.JPG

Reflection Canyon

"I envied a raven as he flew into the late afternoon light over reflection canyon. I called out to him in a loud voice that echoed through the canyon, "hey buddy!" It felt good to say that. "How does it feel to be free?" But he never responded. And it was better that way."

Reflection Canyon glowing in the afternoon light

Reflection Canyon glowing in the afternoon light

WHAT TO EXPECT

Gorgeous colors and winding channels of water cut into the high cliffs of Lake Powell. Be prepared to drive a fifty-one mile dirt road followed by a rigorous, one-way 6-10 mile hike that will demand your best route-finding skills and use of a good map or GPS. Water levels and temperatures are lowest in the Spring, which is an ideal time to make this adventure.

HOW TO GET THERE

Map and compass is a great way to navigate. I picked up this map of the Escalante National Monument for $13 at REI. Well worth it!

Map and compass is a great way to navigate. I picked up this map of the Escalante National Monument for $13 at REI. Well worth it!

From Escalante go five miles east to Hole in the Rock Road. Travel exactly fifty-one miles south on a washboard dirt road. A four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle is needed. After you've parked start hiking south, hugging the large cliffs to the west. This will help you avoid a multitude of ravines and slots canyons that wind throughout the landscape. After a few miles you will begin heading southeast over rocky hills and ankle high prickly pear cactus to reach Reflection Canyon. There is no right way although some ways are more direct. A more direct route may mean traversing up and down large hills. Do your best to avoid too much up and down travel using the landscape to your advantage.

BE PREPARED! Remember that this is a rigorous hike into the wilderness. There are rarely any trail markers (cairns) and footprints are not always a reliable source of direction. Do your research before. Bring a map and compass. Bring a GPS, or if you dont feel like spending the several hundred dollars for a decent one, map out your course on Google Maps on your phone. When Navajo Mountain is in sight (to the south) you should get cell phone coverage (I received LTE for Verizon). and be able see your progress via Google Maps. It may seem obvious but by using your natural landmarks you will be able to navigate your course. See images below.

I was able to use Google Maps to create a saved location. The heart is Reflection Canyon and the blue dot with arrow at the top left corner is where I parked my car. When I had service I could check my progress to make sure I was headed the right way. Make sure to use Google Earth for a more detailed map of the area.

I was able to use Google Maps to create a saved location. The heart is Reflection Canyon and the blue dot with arrow at the top left corner is where I parked my car. When I had service I could check my progress to make sure I was headed the right way. Make sure to use Google Earth for a more detailed map of the area.

Parked car at the "trailhead." Follow these cliffs to the south as you make your way to Reflection Canyon.

Parked car at the "trailhead." Follow these cliffs to the south as you make your way to Reflection Canyon.

WHAT TO PACK

Reflection Canyon can be done in one day. One long day. But for however many days you do plan to come make sure to bring one gallon of water per day. I would also recommend something like Gatorade to help replenish electrolytes. Plan meals accordingly. I am a big fan of Backpacker Pantry prepackaged meals that just need hot water. Snacks are a must as well - trail mix, protein bars, etc. Whatever you pack, make sure to use Leave No Trace principles. There are no bathrooms along the route.

WHEN YOU GET THERE

Camping is possible along Reflection Canyon although there are few spots to pitch a tent. Take great care along the cliff ledges as you will be only a few feet away from several hundred feet drop-offs. And as always, make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. Happy Camping!

Camping is possible along Reflection Canyon although there are few spots to pitch a tent. Take great care along the cliff ledges as you will be only a few feet away from several hundred feet drop-offs. And as always, make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. Happy Camping!

After a challenging hike, reward yourself by making camp and wandering the tall cliff edges to gain the different and spectacular views of Reflection Canyon. Following the canyon edge north will take you several other stunning views.

As far as photography, I found the best success during the afternoon light before the shadows set in. The best shots were at dusk when the canyon turned to from gold to blue and back to gold. Make sure to also take advantage of the early morning light just before the sun rises over the distant cliffs. If you are lucky enough to catch a full moon you will be delightfully surprised by the glow of the canyon walls in the moonlight, especially on the white-stained places of the rock where the high water level once was.

Coyote Gulch - Jacob Hamblin Arch

The massive and very impressive Jacob Hamblin Arch in Coyote Gulch.

The massive and very impressive Jacob Hamblin Arch in Coyote Gulch.

WHAT YOU'LL SEE

Within the Grand Escalante National Monument, America's biggest monument, is the winding river of Coyote Gulch. Along the river are several notable rock formations, with the most stunning of these being the Jacob Hamblin Arch, named after the western pioneer and peacemaker. The arch boasts its impressive size and shape over the tight canyon walls of Coyote Gulch, and in the spring the river is lined with bright green foliage.

A view looking East into Coyote Gulch from the top of Jacob Hamblin Arch

A view looking East into Coyote Gulch from the top of Jacob Hamblin Arch

HOW TO GET THERE

Access to the Jacob Hamblin Arch begins in Escalante, Utah just off the scenic byway 12, which will also take you to Bryce Canyon. Five miles east of Escalante on byway 12 is Hole in the Rock Road, a sixty two mile unpaved road that ends at Lake Powell. Although I did see small two wheel drive cars on the road, four wheel drive and high clearance is highly recommended. To access the Jacob Hamblin Arch trailhead take Hole in the Rock Road thirty six miles until you reach Fortymile Ridge Road. From there head east (left) another four miles until you reach a turnoff to the left. You will reach a water tank at the top of a small hill where you can park and sign in at the trailhead.

From the trailhead, plan on hiking two miles on a fairly well marked path with cairns in sand and slick rock. The trail will lead you down a steep but navigable entrance into Coyote Gulch. This approach can be tricky with a large pack so make sure to take your time or use the small rope attached to the rock at the top of the descent to help lead you down. 

A view from the top of Jacob Hamblin Arch before you start your descent into Coyote Gulch

A view from the top of Jacob Hamblin Arch before you start your descent into Coyote Gulch

Another view from the top

Another view from the top

Cairns leading the way to the Arch

Cairns leading the way to the Arch

These white "angel wings" will denote the area of descent into Coyote Gulch

These white "angel wings" will denote the area of descent into Coyote Gulch

Views from the JH trailhead

Views from the JH trailhead

 

WHAT TO EAT

As for as good eats around Escalante I would highly recommend Escalante Outfitters for a half meat lovers, half vegetarian pizza with a Polygamy Porter as a beverage. Escalante Outfitters also stocks great maps and information booklets about hikes in Southern Utah.

 

 

White Pocket

A hiker in White Pocket

A hiker in White Pocket

One of the most surreal landscapes in Arizona remains largely unknown to many native explorers. Perhaps it's because of the six hour round trip over a difficult 4 wheel drive, high clearance road filled with deep sand and jutting rock that makes this surreal location very difficult to get to. While The Wave gets most of the notoriety for the area, White Pocket stands as a diamond on its own. Filled with brilliant swirls of colors and textures, White Pocket is easily navigated within a half day. Camping is also offered at the trailhead - a short quarter mile hike to White Pocket. 

Colorful swirls and textures grace the landscape at White Pocket

Colorful swirls and textures grace the landscape at White Pocket

Give yourself at least a half day to explore 

Give yourself at least a half day to explore 

To get here take the 89A to House Rock Valley Road. Road maps are provided by the BLM Ranger Station in Kanab, Utah. Stop in at Jacob Lake on your way out for a bite to eat.

Oregon - Summer Lake Hot Springs

Taking a trip to Oregon? Like soaking in hot springs? In search of some solitude? I have just the place. Nestled in Central Oregon, just two hours south of Bend, is a hot spring sanctuary. The place is called Summer Lake Hot Springs. Here you can choose from several tiny homes and small cottages, filled with all you need to spend a weekend getaway. Looking to camp out or bring a camper? That's no problem either. The hot springs? Oh yes. Imagine this scene: you're outside on a cool evening, soaking in a 102 degree mineral water, enjoying the vast openness of the area. Want an indoor hot spring? They have that too. And it's big. Friendly staff, similar-natured travelers, and a reasonable price make this a fantastic trip to get away and soak up some good vibes. Check http://www.summerlakehotsprings.com/ for more.

A pretty view out one of the many tiny homes for rent at Summer Lake   

A pretty view out one of the many tiny homes for rent at Summer Lake

 

Kitchen views

Kitchen views

Inside hot springs

Inside hot springs

Outside hot springs

Outside hot springs

Views from the hot springs

Views from the hot springs

Mexico - Pinacante Wilderness

Here's an unique combination: NASA and the desert. Wanna know more? If you're in the mood for barren desert, sprawling sand dunes, rocky craters, and ancient lava remains then I know a place that you may enjoy. Just south of the Arizona border and just north of Rocky Point, Mexico lies the beautiful yet other-wordly Pinacante Wilderness. This terrain is so similar to the moon that NASA sent astronauts here to train in the 1960's. Whether it's a short hike out to the largest continuous sand dunes in North America, or a drive around the rocky mountains and giant craters, Pinacante Wilderness will not fail to wow you.

IMG_0599.JPG

Northeast Arizona

Up north, above the sonoran desert sprawl and just to the east of the highly elevated snowcapped mountains of Flagstaff, lies an interesting relationship of open prairies and dazzling rock formations that jut out from the earth. There, long stretches of road and clear blue skies make you forget whatever troubles you left behind. No wonder this area boasts some of Arizona's best kept secrets - several national parks and monuments. It will take some work to get out to these places but I can tell you that it is well worth it. A petrified forest, painted hillsides, and ancient cliff dwellings sit like hidden gems waiting to be explored. There is much more to see. We have only scratched the surface of the beauty that lies therein.

Looking to make a trip out of it? May I suggest staying a night in Holbrook or Winslow along Route 66. Have a bite to eat in the old diners and then set off on a day trip to any of the national monuments along the way. Just a heads up: cell phone service is rather unpredictable in Navajo country where most of the landmarks are so make sure to plan ahead.