Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Whoops and Sorry.

Hi there everyone.

Did you just get like 5,000,000,000 new posts from me in your e-mail or blog reader? Yeah, sorry about that. As far as I can tell (due to my limited understanding of technology) there was no clear way to avoid that mess.

story of my life.
The good news... now everything I have written is in one spot! I know you probably don't care, but I am pretty pumped about it because I've been talking about combining all of the blogs for a while now. So now you can peruse any of the tabs on my blog to see different "categories" of stuff such as Our Wedding, Travels, Crafty Pursuits, and most importantly The Pups.

Some stuff falls under more than one category, for example everything I wrote on my wedding blog was also crafty, so it will be on both pages.

"Yeah, but what does this mean to me Mandy?"

Well, nothing really. Just that from now on, when you get a Crafty-Pursuits post it might actually be about my travels, or my dogs. It will still arrive in your inbox or your blog reader.

(this is what you are thinking right now)

So once again, I apologize for the excessive "new" posts that aren't new at all. Hopefully you can remain a loyal reader. Well, let's face it... most of you are family or close friends and don't really have a choice.

Cheers to that.

And just so this post contains some relevant information. I thought you should know that I sold my dining set last weekend for $300 in order to make room for the "oops I did it again" chairs and the "oops, one more time" table I bought recently.

More to come!

What I've been up to...

So I promised you all that I had been accomplishing wedding tasks - and I have. A lot of them were administrative in nature: send a check to this vendor, call that vendor, find 120 place settings, you get the idea. But here are 2 things that I have been doing to show you; they highlight the fun and crafty side of DIY, and the way less glamorous, grunt work style.

Project #1 is something I have been working on for the bridesmaids. Since I anticipate roping them in to do a lot of my dirty work with me, I figure I might as well bride them first with some cool gifts they can use the day before the wedding at our welcome lunch/canoe trip (Amy - you might want to stop reading if you like surprises).

I found these bags a while ago and picked them up in 4 different colors: one for each girl. They are pretty cute, no? They are kind of like a burlap meets raffia style - very beachy.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grand Canyon and Zion: Day 5

By the time I woke up on Day 5, I was feeling pretty well rested. We had been sleeping in until 8 or 9 every morning and were always in bed by 10. I started to question my judgment call on the rim to river hike. But that was all long before we started down Hermit’s Trail.

While Dan was waking up slowly, I decided to head down to Kolb Photo studio and see the exhibit on the infamous Kolb Brothers. This was something I really wanted to see because I had learned so much about them by watching the Ken Burns National Parks series. In 1904 Emery and Ellsworth Kolb set up a photo studio right on the rim of the Grand Canyon. They operated a successful business for many years, taking photos of the tourists riding donkeys to the bottom of the Canyon. The crazy thing is, they would take these photos mid-way down, then run up to their shop, develop the film, create prints and mat them for sale to those very same tourists when they arrived back at the rim. It’s a story worth reading up on. While there wasn't a ton of time for me to see everything, I did view most of the displays and buy a little book about their adventures.

Kolb Brothers Photo Studio
We had breakfast at the Bright Angel Dining room once again. Our selections had become gradually a little unhealthier each day. While I didn't eat 6 or 7 pieces of bacon on Day 5, I certainly didn't opt for the egg whites and turkey sausage. Once we were filled up, we stopped at the gift shop quickly to buy our postcard and shot glass before making our way to the bus stop. It is kind of nice to be able to ride the bus along the rim because it gives you a chance to gaze down without worrying about crashing. Hermit’s Rest was the last stop on the line though, so we sat for quite some time before finally getting off the bus and making our way to the trail head. 

Dan rests up pre-hike

As we approached the rather rocky trail, we passed a woman with a big backpack who asked us if she could take a bus back to the village. Clearly, she had spent a night or two in the Canyon. As I pointed her in the general direction of the bus stop, her husband peaked around the last turn in the trail, out of breath mumbling, “never… again…”

Dan said he could relate, and then launched into another tirade about how I always make him do these terrible things (hikes) that he never wants to do as we descended into the canyon once more.

The Hermit’s Rest Trail will take you all the way to the Colorado River, just like the South Kaibab and the Bright Angel Trail… except with less mileage.  It was described in my guide book as a great hike “off the beaten path” where you might see springs as close as 1.2 miles below the rim, without all those pesky tourists in your way.

Well it was certainly a desolate trail, with very few hikers who weren't fairly serious about hiking, but there weren't any springs in sight. Not to mention the fact that the trail itself is one of the wildest things that I’ve ever seen “maintained”. Unlike the other trails leading to the River, Hermit’s rest is incredibly uneven, rocky and offers very little shade. 

ends of the Earth

As we continued to descend, I started to get nervous about going back up. About a mile and a half down, we came to a junction and decided to turn around. The hike back up was as brutal as anticipated… It’s one thing to hike a nice gravel trail up an elevation of 1,000 feet; it’s another to climb rocks for 1,000 feet over the course of a mile and a half. It felt like we were climbing bleachers for days in the hot AZ sun. We took breaks to rest infrequently since there weren't a ton of shady spots to sit. By the time we made it back to the top, I began to understand why that hiker’s husband was huffing “never again”. The trail is a tough hike, and it doesn't provide the wonderful scenery you can get elsewhere. Not to mention the fact that we didn't catch a glimpse of the River at all, the entire time! If we had the opportunity to pick again, I would have gone for a hike towards the East entrance near the Desert View Watchtower, where the views compensate for the hard work.

We stopped at the Hermit’s rest shop, another Mary Jane Colter designed building. It has a beautiful stone fireplace and hearth room, but no ice cream – which I was VERY disappointed about.

Once we arrived back at the bus stop, we overheard a bunch of older hikers talking about their plans for the week. They had reservations at Phantom Ranch and were going to hike rim-to-rim in 3 days. “Good for them” I thought to myself, before hearing them talk about how the Hermit’s Rest hike had taken them 7 hours. I hope they were able to make it out in their allotted 3 days, but it didn't seem very likely.

Back at the car, we changed out of our soaking wet clothes before hitting the road for the last long stretch of driving down to Phoenix. Yet again we experienced an uneventful trip, except to note that we had to change our dinner plans from “something good” in Sedona to “whatever is close” because the 17 mile side-trip to Sedona would have taken us an hour and a half… and I thought East Coast traffic was bad! Wendy’s happened to be the closest, so we stopped in for a ridiculous amount of food. Let’s just say that 4 people would have been full with our choices… and we were only 2. At least I finally got my ice cream by way of inhaling a root beer float.

When we finally parked at Dan’s Grandmother’s house in Phoenix, we were pretty pumped to get out of the car and see some familiar faces. It’s always nice to end a vacation by recounting your tales and showing off your photos to someone who is curious. We did our best to finish up some of the food that we had toted along with us all week before bed.

So we sat around chatting and eating with Dan’s Grandmother and his Great Aunt Margie. Vacation was over, I realized – and decided at that moment to start thinking about the next great trip.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Issac Farms

Hi there.

Just checking in to say hey, and let you know what a fun time I had in Florida the last few days. We went to the Everglades for 2 days and then spent 2 days just kinda hanging around in the sun relaxing.

As you know, I am not good at relaxing. It's just too boring.

So I took off in our rental mini-van (more on that later) to check out a nursery that we passed while driving to the Tamiami Trail on Saturday morning. We had been on our way to the Gulf Coast to do a ranger-led canoe trip in the Everglades, a drive that took almost two hours, when we kept passing these adorable (huge) nurseries selling all kinds of beautiful tropical fauna.  One in particular (Issac Farms) really caught my attention with its plethora of glazed ceramic pots for container gardening.

Check it out.

They used broken pots for mulch, very unique idea!
Soooooo many pots! Every shape and size! 

Air plants (bromileads) are so funky!
The succulent collection did not disappoint!

There were several container gardens on display, each more beautiful than the last

There were hundreds (probably thousands) of these... anyone know what they are?

These tall, skinny pots were about 4 feet tall!

These ribbed colorful containers were some of my favorite

This one container was probable about 3 feet long and 1.5 ft wide. Imagine a cacti garden that big?

So many chickens with this hen!

I was dying to take one of these bad boys home. Alas, they were far too large (6 inch pots) for my suitcase

And I had plenty of creepy friends shopping with me!
Look familiar?

What a sight for sore (snow-blind) eyes!

Basically, this place was amazing. I had a chance to speak to the owner briefly and she was a very kind woman who explained to me that one of the plants I had chosen would die in Connecticut, even if I did keep it inside. Luckily she thought my air plant that I picked up off one of the trails in the Everglades MIGHT survive, if it got plenty of sun from a window.

I did not leave empty handed of course. I promise to show off my treasures later this week... but let's just say that Dan should be real happy there is nothing quite like this place up here.