Archive of ‘North America’ category

Top Swimming Holes in Zion National Park

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Swimming holes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Zion National Park. Hiking, canyoning, and mountains galore are probably higher on the list. But when I went, it was nearing 100 degrees and unbearable. Emerald Pools, the most popular hike, unfortunately, does not allow swimming. After extensive research and exploring, here are the best ways to cool off that I found.

The Virgin River

zion national park swimming hole virgin river

The Virgin River runs throughout Zion. There are plenty of less frequented spots along the river that are great for swimming. Just avoid any spots too close to a tram stop or major trail and you’ll be fine! Be careful as the currents are much stronger than they look (I came out with quite a few scratches). Parts of the river are also open for tubing at certain times of the year.

Pine Creek Waterfall

hiking pine creek zion

Less well-known and less accessible, the Lower Pine Creek Falls trail takes you to a hidden swimming hole. Getting there is more than a little tricky, and my Mom and I got really lost. But there’s also no crowds and the water is warm and calm. Joe’s Guide provides a pretty detailed description of how to get to the trailhead. From there, you’re on your own.

The Narrows

zion national park the narrows swimming

In addition to being a great hike, The Narrows is a fun place to cool off. The hike itself consists of wading through (sometimes waist-deep) water, but there are plenty of deeper spots to swim along the way. Getting there and hiking through can be as difficult or as easy as you’d like depending on how far you decide to go. Most people just go until they start getting tired and then turn back. In my opinion, this is the most fun hike at Zion, but it does get very crowded.

 

 

 

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A Mother-Daughter Bonding Road Trip

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grand canyon road trip mother daughter

Upon deciding to move cross-country from New York to San Diego, I knew my mom and I needed a proper goodbye. We’ve always been super close and this was going to be the first time we weren’t living within a few hours’ drive of each other. After some thinking, I realized what could be a better send-off than a road trip? The logistics and costs of driving from coast-to-coast ended up not being ideal so I flew her out with me to San Diego and we rented a car. I planned out a route on Roadtrippers that included the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. We packed some snacks and we were on our way.

I’d always wanted to do a road trip in the U.S. But I’ll admit that after so much international travel, I was worried I’d be let down. I thought wrong.

Our first stop was Peggy Sue’s Diner. Super cheesy and touristy. But it set the mood for the rest of our trip as I realized that the Southwest was a whole new world I had yet to conquer. It became more apparent as we crossed the state line to Arizona. I can’t imagine having done this trip any other way as every mile was beautiful. Looking out of the car windows was unreal. Sprawling mountains, canyons, deserts, and valleys. It was really hard to focus on driving! Understandably, we never reached any of our destinations on the trip within an hour of when we were supposed to. We just couldn’t help pulling over everywhere.

road trip arizona grand canyon zion

As enchanting as the scenery was, it was far from the most memorable part of the road trip. In Williams, we had mother-daughter dates with wine flights and interesting locals. At Horseshoe Bend, my mom had the most embarrassing moment of her life (I assume). I’m not supposed to repeat the details, but I will say that it brought us closer together. After all, nothing brings two people closer than one laughing at the other’s misfortune, right?

In Zion National Park, I really wanted to do a lesser known trail. After doing some research I found one online that leads to a secret waterfall. Apparently, it was so secretive that the park rangers couldn’t even help us find the trailhead. Luckily, we eventually stumbled upon it on our own. The trail was obviously unkempt and we had to wade through the stream for most of it. After a little over a mile, we came to a dead end. A mini-waterfall and a wall of rocks blocked our path.

My mother, always protective, suggested I try to scale the boulders next to us so I could go up and over this barrier. It was far from safe. I managed to slowly wiggle my way up there while my mom spotted from below. Upon reaching the top, my mom began to follow. She struggled so, in a real Hercules moment, I used one arm to hold onto the tree behind me and one to help pull her up. It didn’t really work, but it was still an epic moment. At the top of the boulder, we realized there was no way to get around the barrier… and we couldn’t figure out how to get down! We eventually slid down the side and got a few cuts and scrapes along the way. Oh, and that little waterfall that blocked our path? Apparently, that was our destination, after all!

We definitely learned a lot about each other on this road trip that we didn’t already know. For the first time, I felt we had that “adult” mother-daughter friendship rather than taking on the caregiver and child roles. My mom would like to think we’re like the Gilmore Girls, but we’re probably more like Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn in Snatched. We had a great time, but we butt heads a lot, too. She likes to blast the A/C while I’m shivering under blankets. I like to scream along to T-Swift and get annoyed that she doesn’t sing the right words. I learned that I’m a chip off the old block in that we’re both insane weirdos.

But I also learned that she’s way more adventurous and gutsy than I knew. And she got to see me at my best: planning and navigating trips. I can’t wait to go on another mother-daughter trip, but I think next time an all-inclusive with a swim-up bar might better suit our relationship.

 

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My Favorite “Old New York” Establishments

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Anyone who knows me knows I probably should have been born in a different decade. I’m obsessed with classic movies, vintage fashion, and, of course, old-school restaurants and bars. Having lived in NYC for nearly five years, I grew to love “Old New York” establishments. Sure, there are countless vintage themed speakeasies and cafes, but I prefer a place with history. Here are my favorites. Take note that none of them have windows.

Bemelmans Bar

bemelmans bar old new york

Located in the Carlyle hotel, this is my absolute favorite bar in NYC. I couldn’t go that frequently as it’s far from cheap ($25 cover most nights and ~$21 per drink). But the drinks are good, the atmosphere is unique, and the live jazz is what I live for. You seriously feel like you’ve stepped into a Casablanca-eqsue jazz bar. It’s quaint and you can tell there are quite a few regulars. The artwork is also amazing as a fan of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeleine. Fun fact: Bemelmans wouldn’t accept payment for his work. Instead, he requested a year of free stays at the Carlyle.

21 Club

21 club old new york

Originally a Prohibition-era speakeasy (and possibly the only one still standing), The 21 Club is a true New York landmark. All of my favorite Hollywood icons have dined here, along with nearly every president. In fact, many have their own favorite table to reserve because they dine here so frequently. It’s also featured in numerous movies and TV shows. I will admit, the food isn’t amazing, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Minetta Tavern

Historical, cozy, and the best burger in New York? Count me in. (Ok so I’m a vegetarian now, but I wasn’t at the time! And it was without a doubt the best burger I ever had.) Minetta Tavern was a regular hang for some of the biggest writers of the 20th century. Stepping in the door on a cold winter night is like finding an old inn to escape from the snow. Be warned though, reservations are tough to come by. We opted to dine at 11pm rather than wait two more weeks. Even though I won’t eat the burger, I’d love to go back to Minetta for the warm, bistro environment next time I’m in town.

Grand Central Oyster Bar

grand central oyster bar old new yorkAnother iconic spot, Grand Central Oyster Bar is known for its high-vaulted ceilings, fresh seafood, and convenient location for travelers and commuters. While it’s not nearly as intimate as the other spots on this list, the architecture is undeniably impressive and the food is pretty good, too. You should also definitely check out the quirky bathrooms.

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Hiking Upstate: Greenwood Lake

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First of all, my posts may be a bit sporadic for the next couple of weeks as I adjust since I have a new job! Woohoo!

To celebrate this new beginning, I spent a lovely weekend upstate. I spent some time relaxing by the lake, warming up by the fire pit, and “sampling” at the winery, but the main purpose of the trip was hiking! I think active get-aways are so important for both mental and physical health (especially when you live in a hectic city) so I’m trying to do this more often.

upstate hiking new york lake

View from the deck at the B&B

We stayed in a lovely B&B in the small town of Greenwood Lake (where Babe Ruth used to stay!) It was beautiful and, more importantly, quiet! It was cold, but so peaceful by the fire pit. We spent the first day at Warwick Winery. $5 for wine tasting? Count me in! It was a great day, although we may have had a bit too much!

hiking appalachian trail mountains nature

The next day we went hiking on the Appalachian Trail! The views were amazing and the bright colors of the Fall foliage were unreal. Seriously, some of the leaves were so pink they looked like they had been painted. I’ve said it before, but I honestly think that hiking is one of the best workouts there is! In addition to being a social activity that puts you in touch with nature, it’s also challenging. It combines cardio with strength training due to the steep hills and mountains. This part of the trail was definitely steep and a bit tricky! And it’s hard to want to stop when the views are so pretty.

hiking appalachian trail nature views

After the trail, we stumbled upon a schoolyard playground. After reading Autumn’s post on active recess, I was inspired to sneak in! I’m not sure if that’s what she had in mind when she emphasized the importance of just letting loose and playing, but it was so much fun! After running through the jungle gym and swinging on the swings I was surprised that I was out of breath because I had completely let myself go. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was exercising at all.

This weekend really taught me the importance of active rest for the body and soul. I didn’t have any formal workouts, but I was probably more active than I would be on days where I just had one prescheduled workout. And I completely let go of all the stress I was feeling the week before.

What does an active rest day look like for you?

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