The Grand, Grand Canyon!

Finally! This is one of the places that since a little girl I have been dying to experience. DJ did a big trip last summer with his close guy friends to the most famed national parks in the West. I was thankful he had this experience because he navigated the GC like a pro. I would have had no idea where to begin!

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The night before the hike we saw the IMAX that showed in the visitor center. It certainly hyped us up to begin the trek in the morning.

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Trying to put into words the beauty, the awe-inspiring landscape, the majesty of the experience is a daunting task. My preconceived notion about the Canyon was that it would be mostly red, dry, Arizona layered rock. I expected beauty and vastness, but I did not expect the vibrant cascading greenery to claim the mountain sides as home. I did not take into consideration the piercing blue glow the sky would emanate. I did not expect the silence to beckon questions that do not have tangible answers. I did not expect my perspective on life to be shaken by the reality of how truly microscopic I am on this massive planet. It was humbling, but exhilarating. It gave me insight into my Creator. I felt like I had been given the keys to the most mammoth playground on Earth.

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For our hike we took the Bright Angel Trail all the way down to the overlook of the Colorado River. It was astounding how loud the river was from quite a ways up. I can’t imagine how thunderous it would sound if you were actually standing next to it. The whole hike ended up being about thirteen miles round-trip. We started at 6 am from the hotel, had a hearty breakfast, and began the hike around 7 am. We finished up around 2 pm.

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Living on the edge- literally.

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The hike back up was INTENSE. Make sure if you ever do this hike to bring a water bottle (they do have water stations to refill), protein bars, and quick energy. We each packed a protein bar… Well so we thought. Somewhere in the process of transferring the goods from the grocery bag to our bag, my bar got left behind (we won’t place blame.. *cough cough* 😉 ). DJ was sweet to share his with me. We had plenty of other trail mix, dry roasted edamame seeds, and apples. We took respite in the rare spots of shade when we came across them.

If you ever have the opportunity- GO TO THE GRAND CANYON, I beg of you! I haven’t been to the other National Parks out here yet, but you bet your bottom dollar that I will. If you have suggestions about where to visit or any unique things to do/tips to share I would love to hear them.

After the Canyon we began our last stretch to arrive in Cali. Our last few stops included Bakersfield, Big Sur and Highway 1, and then Santa Cruz!

Wishing you a GRAND day,

xo <3

Mack

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Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Time for a road trip- recap! After Fort Worth, we headed toward the Grand Canyon. We decided it would make sense to make one stop on the way. Albuquerque was the perfect distance to travel for the day, and we would be rolling in right around dinner time.  I eagerly turned to my TVFoodMaps, Zomato, and Yelp apps to find THE place to dine. The place that kept popping up with raving reviews was Monroe’s. I wanted to try authentic New Mexican Cuisine, and this did not disappoint!IMG_8181

I have never ordered a margarita before, and I thought what better place to try one than NM? It was fun to have the experience, but honestly it was probably my last. After a few sips, I wasn’t eager to have much more. However, if you like margaritas I bet you would love this, just not my cup of tea (or in my case, a glass of ole’ red). But my favorite part was the salt around the rim, mmm mmm. I am a sucker for sodium.

Monroe’s salsa was the best salsa I have ever had- hands down.

Don’t mind the no-makeup, travel all day look 😉

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Here is what I learned about New Mexican food:

  1. Breakfast is a big deal. Obviously, they know what’s up because it is the most important meal of the day.
  2. On most menus, you will see a combination of  more familiar “American” style cuisine (hamburgers, sandwiches) combined with authentic New Mexican delicacies.
  3. New Mexican cuisine heavily emphasizes enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and tamales. 
  4. Sopapilla is a light, fluffy piece of bread that is served with honey. Often, people will stuff it with beef, beans, cheese, chicken, or other goodies.
  5. Chile Relleno Is one of the greatest things on planet earth. Basically this is a flour tortilla stuffed with Puerto Rican beans, a whole stuffed chile (relleno), and cheese. It is smothered with red or green chile and extra chedder, usually served with calabacitas (a mix of squash, corn, and chile), sour cream, and a sopa. Many times you can add chicken or beef. I just chose the veggie one, and it was (wait there is no English word to describe this) so we will go  with MUY RICA!!!!!! Honestly, why have I not had this before? I feel like I have been missing out all this time. It makes me wonder what other things I am missing this whole time, AHH! Quarter-life crisis here.

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Old Town NM was fascinating. We explored this area on a on a Sunday, so most shops were closed, but the ones we did go into were an explosion of New Mexican culture. Whenever I go somewhere and see the engaging aspects of a culture it makes me want to delve into their history. I learned the basics throughout school, but seeing the uniquely Spanish architecture and the strong Native American influence inspired me to understand these cultures better. I find myself realizing how little I truly understand when exploring the world.

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DJ and I are starting a collection of pictures from each state to one day make a map of the US with a picture from each. We tried our best to get the Albuquerque name in the background, but knocked off the end. Oh well, proof enough that we were there!

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The next day we had breakfast at the hotel and then continued on our journey. I have never been in the Southwest before and I was enthralled with the views. I felt like I was right in the middle of a cowboy movie. I could not take my eyes away from the window. I told DJ my goal was to see a tumbleweed. He said there would be plenty once we got to Arizona and passed on to the Grand Canyon. Was there plenty? No! I didn’t see a single one, darn it. Guess it isn’t tumbleweed season?

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The wind gusts certainly were an experience. They were not too terrible for us, but DJ said when he was there last summer they could move your car into the next lane. I don’t think that was the type of Summer Wind that Frank Sinatra was talking about.

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On our drive to the canyon we kept seeing signs for a meteor crater in the Flagstaff area. We joked, “Hey let’s go see the giant hole in the ground before we see an even larger hole in the ground” (since we were going to the Grand Canyon the next day). Then we actually became excited about the idea after seeing about ten billboard advertisements for it on the side of the road. It was the fourth of July, and instead of just driving to arrive hotel early, we said why not stop and do something spontaneous on this holiday!

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We were so glad we did! This is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. It is estimated that the collision was an astroid that was traveling 26,000 mph. It is about 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and more than 550 feet deep. It has actually been used for training for astronauts! The picture doesn’t do much justice for the size. IMG_6849

After exploring the interactive discovery center and having conversations about how we should stock up on canned goods for when the next one hits, we hit the road. Time to go the Grand Canyon!!! That deserves a separate post 😉 IMG_6898

Wishing you a spontaneous adventure,

xo <3

Mack