4 Days in Zion National Park, Utah

Monday, August 29, 2016

This past July, I was lucky enough to spend four days exploring Zion National Park. It's one of the most-visited national parks for a reason; it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever laid eyes on.  The park itself is beautifully maintained, and has easy access to Springdale, the town just outside of the park, via free city bus. Zion also has a free-to-visitors internal bus system that takes passengers up and down the road through Zion Canyon. The buses are used to keep in-park traffic to a minimum, so everyone can do what they came to do: enjoy nature. No private vehicles are allowed past a certain point on the road in Zion Canyon. I.E., you have to take the bus. But it's awesome! And you can look out the window in awe without worrying about accidentally driving over a cliff.

We camped on the river and climbed the park's most famous hike, The Narrows, which you must hike up the Virgin River. In the cold water. Against the current. And yes, you do need a walking stick as much as everyone says you do. Don't worry too much, this hike is choose-your-own-adventure style: you can turn back at any point you get tired, there's not really a stopping point, unless you plan on staying overnight (and you need a special permit to do that). Plus, the cold water feels so nice in the dry heat.

Because of soaring temperatures (100+ degrees-Fahrenheit), we skipped Angel's Landing on this trip.  We did the Emerald Pools hike (quite easy and highly recommend it if you're after some shade) and rode horses that day instead. The next time I visit Zion, I hope to make it to the top of Angel's Landing as well as explore the Kolob Canyons section of the park.

What to Pack: Utah in the summertime

Monday, August 22, 2016

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Last month, I took a week-long road trip through Utah. We stopped at Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, and wrapped up our trip in Zion National Park. Utah is a beautiful state, and the trip was a truly amazing experience. I can't wait to go back, and to visit Utah's three other national parks, too. 

I thought about making a packing guide when I got home because there were quite a few maybe not-so-obvious items I brought along this time (my second time visiting Utah in the summertime) that I didn't have on my last visit, and I really felt significantly more comfortable because of them. The arid desert air, constant sun, and extreme heat can be tough to endure, but these items made my trip (and our daily hikes) much easier.

There's things to cool you off, things to keep you hydrated and moisturized, things to protect you from the sun, and a steal of a waterproof phone case so you can have a camera with you even while hiking The Narrows.

Setting Personal Goals

Monday, August 15, 2016

Today I want to talk about setting personal goals and how I arrived at a method that's been super helpful to me. I want to share my story in case you're experiencing something similar in your own life. Maybe reading what I've been through and how I've started to combat it can help you on your own journey. 

About a year ago, I realized that while I had made strides in my career, the "just for fun" things (or, in my case "so bad at it, but who cares because you're having fun" things) had completely fallen off my radar. My film camera sat untouched for two years. I hadn't made a scrapbook since college. I hadn't gone on an actual vacation in nearly seven years. I hadn't taken a class to learn something that wasn't in some way connected to my career in forever. And all of those things were super important to me! They just kind of fell by the wayside while I doggedly pursued other things. I was struggling with finding balance. As a result of this, I realized I wasn't a very well rounded person anymore, and that bothered me. So, I decided to start actively setting some attainable personal goals each season as a reminder to myself that the personal is just as important as the professional. I might not meet every one of these goals, but that's not the point. Every time I read over my list, I'm reminded of all of the things that can make me happy outside of work. Plus, who doesn't love making lists? 

The list can really encompass whatever you want. Physical, mental, artistic, or psychological... Anything you think might contribute to your happiness, throw it on the list. On my summer 2016 list, some goals are harder than others (I'm looking at you, diving), but some goals are as simple as listening to audio books on the way to work instead of mindless morning radio. It makes my hour-long commute enjoyable and I feel like I'm absorbing something new. Win-win.

I think sometimes in today's world, it's easy to get swept away in deadlines and success and waking up early and staying up late. And I actually don't think there's anything wrong with that, to a certain extent. A large part of me definitely does thrive on those things. But I've finally admitted to myself that it's okay to have goals outside of my job. You're not "losing out on opportunity" if you decide to spend some free time gardening or crafting or baking or doing whatever it is that makes you happy. You're just enjoying yourself and the moment with no other goal in mind! And that's the biggest success of all.

P.S. - For my lists, I like to use a moleskin notebook and a nice pen. I keep the notebook with me in my purse at all times and sneak a look at it when I need a reminder. :) 

Gadget of the Month: iDGLAX iDG-787 LCD Portable Projector

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I'm a huge fan of gadgets of all kinds. I love to read on my Kindle fire, mess around on all kinds of cameras (including toy ones), and just generally search for and experiment with little do-dads that make every day life a little more fun. I thought it could be be EVEN MORE FUN to share my favorite finds each month with you here.

So, here we go! August's Gadget of the Month is the iDGLAX iDG-787 LCD LED Video Multi-media Mini Portable Projector 300.  Wow, that's a long name for such a little gadget.

Like a lot of people, I've always LOVED the idea of having a way to create my own outdoor movie night. I remember I went to this party in college once and they had a film projecting on a giant white wall. Of course, I thought it was the coolest. Thing. Ever. But after exploring projector options and realizing how expensive they were, along with the expensive speakers required to use most of them, I let the idea go.

UNTIL I found the iDGLAX. This gadget is under $90, doesn't require external speakers, and can easily connect to game consoles, PC's, tablets, etc. You can also use it as a projector to create traceable wall art, or for things like slide shows and power points. BOOM! Awesome home outdoor-movie nights and crafting dreams reignited.

Have you found a gadget at a great price you've been after for a long time? Share in the comments!

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