Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Arches National Park - Delicate Arch Trail

 This is a continuation of a travel series of a road trip I took to Las Vegas in May with my husband.  To start at the beginning read THIS POST.    Here are the rest of this travel series posts in chronological order:

If you read last week's travel post I talked about what Arches National Park is famous's arches and how they are formed.  This week is my final post on Arches National Park and I am ending it with the world famous Delicate Arch!  This is the arch that is pictured on Utah license plates and on their state welcome signs.  It is a 65 foot tall free standing natural arch with a picturesque view of the snow capped mountains and desert terrain.  People come from all over the world to see this arch, and once you see it for yourself, you know why.  It is truly a spiritual experience to be had!

There are two ways to see the arch:  the Lower and Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoints and the Delicate Arch Trail.  The first way, the viewpoints, is for anyone who physically can't hike the Delicate Arch trail, or doesn't want to exert themselves that much.  The Delicate Arch Trail is not for the faint of heart.  Rescue operations occur frequently for visitors who underestimate the trail's difficulty.

 I am thankful to the National Park Service for providing a second option to view this beautiful national landmark so everyone, regardless of their physical ability, can  see it.  Even though other options are provided for viewing, Delicate Arch is still not easy to see from a vehicle.  If you need a level path take the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint.  It is a level 100 yard walk with a view of the arch a mile away.  The Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint is a 0.5 mile walk up stairs but has a less obstructed view.

Now, if your physically up to the challenge, the best view is the Delicate Arch Trail.  It is a difficult three mile round trip trail with a elevation of 480 feet, no shade, and open slid rock with some exposure to heights.  You will struggle not only with the challenge of walking up a steep hill for a mile and a half, but also with the desert heat, sun, and altitude.  I saw at least a half a dozen people or more walk half way up and either turn around and go back or they looked like they were suffering heat stroke.  I'm not kidding.  And the irony is that most of them were younger than me.  It's a test of endurance, that's for sure.  If you can hike the trail in the early morning or evening that is best, because then you will not be dealing with the hot desert sun.  We were stupid enough to hike it in the middle of the day, but we also didn't even know about this trail till we got to the park.

When you first start on the trail you come across this cute little cabin called "Wolfe Ranch Cabin".  It is named after John Wesley Wolfe who settled in this area in 1888.

I took this photo so you could get an idea of how dry this area is.  And yet, isn't it funny how there is still plenty of green growth?  I don't think I've ever seen ground this dry in Wisconsin during my entire lifetime.  It is such a different environment than my home state.

Still, despite all the dryness, there was still water running along this trail.

Now once you get past the cute little cabin and river, the long, uphill hike begins.  At first you think "This isn't so bad", and then after hiking for awhile, you look up and see this:

"Are those people up there on that rock?" I ask my husband.  "Looks like it", he said.  "Is that the trail, or are they just walking on that giant rock?".  He wasn't sure, but we soon found out.  Yes, those are people on that giant rock, see them in the center of the picture?  If not, there's a zoomed in photo below.  And yes, this is the trail.  Hmmm, somehow I didn't think rock climbing was in the trail description.

This is me thinking "Eh, how much further?"

And here I am at the top of the rock.  Can you see the dirt path in the distance?  There is a parking lot in the middle of the photo.  That's where the hiking trail starts.  Where I am is about 1/3 of the way.  I thought once I reached the top of this rock the hike would be over.  I mean, how long is a mile and a half anyway?  But no, I was no where near the end of the trail yet!

The terrain does change slightly once you reach the top of the first giant rock, but not for long!

If it weren't for all the other of hundreds of hikers on this trail, I think I would have gotten lost.  After all, your pretty much just walking on rock most of the time, it's not like a nice worn down path in the woods.  They do have these small stone formations (called cairns) occasionally to make sure you are on the path.

As you start to near the end of the trail, the terrain changes again.  Now you are no longer up on top of a giant rock, but walking alongside the huge rock formations!  The path is right along the lower edge of this formation...see the person walking in the distance?

And here I am ascending the same path as well.

And now is when one's fear of heights is tested.  It may be hard to tell in the pictures, but this is HIGH, with a steep drop off.  Needless to say, I hug the rock wall!  Look at the two people in the distance...they look like they could drop off the edge!  Yikes!

This is the view below from where I am standing.  Gorgeous, but scary!

But when you finally make it to top, it is all worth it, because this is what you see!  Amazing isn't it?  Just look at those gorgeous snow-capped mountains in the distance!

When you get to this point, you are so physically exhausted. I remember my legs feeling like rubber and starting to shake a bit.  I sat down on the rocks and just soaked in the view while I ate some granola and dried berries.  This is a hike where you must bring food and water with you. The park service advises bringing at least one quart of water per person on this hike.   I never felt a need to eat during a hike before, but I did on this one.  I felt my body was just so weak at this point and I was craving the nourishment.   I also noticed most people around me were eating as well.

After I was physically refreshed, I started to explore.  It involved more climbing, for I now had to climb down the rocks and into the "bowl".

Professional photographers often complain that Delicate Arch is always so crowded that it is hard to get a photo without someone in it.  I felt everyone was very polite and waited their turn in line to get a photo of themselves standing under this famous arch.  And I actually prefer pictures of people in the photos to help give an idea of scale.

This is the view of the opposite side from which the arch stands.

Another view of the opposite side of the arch.  Notice the crazy person sitting on the formation?

 And here is a good view of the "bowl" and the desert terrain of the right side of the arch.

My husband under the arch.

And me to the left of the arch with a view of the snow capped mountains.

We probably spent almost an hour at the Delicate Arch.  It was such a spiritual experience to see such beauty and grandeur, and I think the difficult hike to get there, only made me appreciate it so much more.  I was proud of my 53 year old body to be able to make a hike that people half my age couldn't do.  It proved to me that even though exercise doesn't produce the waif thin body I would like to have, it's still certainly worth it for my health.

Now, if I could only get over my fear of heights!!!!  My husband made fun of me for hugging the rock wall.  Of course, he walked right along the outer edge with no fear at all!

 I have to show you how pretty most of this rock is.  Not all of the rock looked like this, but a lot did. Just look at how gorgeous this is!  I would love to have this beautiful rock in my garden.

Going back down the trail was so, so easy.  It seemed to take minutes to get back down.  We did notice that there were a lot more people going up when we were coming down.  I did find out later that the park recommends taking this hike to see the sunrise or the sunset to avoid the desert sun and get the best views.  Parking is difficult to find during sunset hours, so sunrise would be the best time of the day to hike this difficult trail.

And finally, here is a very short 1:13 minute video of the Delicate Arch.  I am standing at the very top of the rock, when your view first opens up to the arch.  I will do a complete circle with the camera.  I want you to notice how quiet it is.  Even though there are hundreds of people all excited to see the arch, it's almost like there is a spiritual reverence here.  Every one just seemed so awestruck by the experience and the views there was no need for conversation, but only contemplation.

And that concludes my posts of Arches National Park.  Next week I will share the very last day of our May road trip...Vail, Colorado!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE and Travel Tuesday!


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Baby Turns 25 And This Is The Birthday Card I Made For Him

 Yesterday was my youngest child's 25th birthday.  Yikes, where does time go?

We already celebrated Jordan's birthday back in July when he was home visiting with Ashley and Jason.  This is the card I made him:

Jordan is a huge animal lover with cats and birds being his favorite.  I couldn't decide if I should use a cat or a bird image on his card, and I finally just settled on this little guy because he was so cute.

The image is retired Stampin Up! "Pun Fun".  I used the same sketch that I did on Jason's birthday card HERE.

I stamped the image on a separate piece of white card stock, colored it, cut it out, and put it up on dimensionals.  Sequins were glued on for embellishment.  I rounded the corners of the yellow panel with a corner rounder.  The banner under the feet of the bird was cut with a MFT die.

And here is a picture of the birthday bird with his card.

And for his birthday I bought him a new pair of Vans.  They are the only shoes he will wear.  He plays drums, and he says he can only drum in Vans.  He wears them all the time.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, August 29, 2016

What I Wore Camping

 I bet you were a little surprised by the title of today's fashion post, weren't you?  Why would a style blogger discuss camping clothes?  Well, whenever I take a vacation,  I like to do a special fashion post of what I wore during the week.  But camping, that's a no-brainer right?  Shorts, sweats, jeans, t-shirts...the usual casual wear.  Yet planning a week's wardrobe for camping is an issue, that I approach like any fashion issue:  is the clothing appropriate for the occasion and the weather, and does it flatter me?   Believe it or not, I care just as much about what I look like when I'm camping as I do when I get dressed for a special occasion.  People will see me, and lots, and lots, and lots, of photographs will be taken, so I still want to look as good as I can under the circumstances..... SO WHAT DO I WEAR?

My family and I went tent camping in Northern Wisconsin for five days;  you heard me right, 5 WHOLE DAYS!!!!  I hope to blog about this experience on my Wednesday Travel Posts starting in a few weeks.  I was very limited in the amount of clothes I could pack, yet, I still wanted to wear clean fresh clothes every day because I know how dirty I can get camping in the woods.  I also had to pack for a couple of "city days".  Even though we were sleeping under the stars every night, we would be traveling to other places in the area during the day.

I started packing by picking five outfits that all included shorts, then I added layers:  a thick sweatshirt for wearing around the campfire at night,  a thin sweatshirt, and one rain coat.  I also brought along 6 pairs of shoes:  hiking sandals, water shoes, flip flops for the camp shower, and two dressier pair of sandals to wear to town.

Here are my outfits.  I'm starting with Day Two because Day One was just driving to the state park and setting up our campsite, so no photographs were taken.  I don't even remember what I was wearing!

Day Two:  Thin short sleeve long tee shirt, boyfriend distressed shorts, water shoes, and a baseball cap.

My shoes are special hiking shoes designed for hiking trails that are wet or muddy, walking on rocks or crossing streams.  I've had them for a few years, and use them every time I know we will be hiking any trail that involves water.  They are wonderful.  They can get soaking wet, and still dry out nicely. They also have a nice grip so that I don't slip and fall when crossing slippery rocks.

Even though we were tent camping, we still had access to a shower every night.  I never did my hair because I knew I'd always have a cap on for sun and bug protection.  The only make up I usually had on was a tinted moisturizer (for sunscreen), a little blush, and a lip balm.

The first day of our trip was the nicest and warmest day.  And I think it was the only day it didn't rain.  But thankfully, most of the rain was at night, so we were able to still enjoy our trip.  Because the weather was so nice this day, I didn't need to worry about layers for cooling or warmth, and I just wore the tee shirt.  It wasn't like that for the rest of week!

If you recognize this top, it's because I wore it last fall HERE and HERE. 

I think I embarrassed my son by wearing a baseball cap most days, cause it's not normal for me to wear one.  But I find baseball caps are the perfect hiking caps because the wide long brim shields my eyes and face from the sun, and it fits tight to my head so that the wind never blows it off.  Most of my other hats always blow off my head from the wind, and the last thing I wanted to do was chase a hat down a waterfall!

Day Three:  Linen shorts, sports bra, tank top, sheer sleeveless blouse, hiking sandals, and a baseball cap.

 The next day involved more hiking in waterfalls.  This day I switched to my sandals because my daughter Ashley wanted to borrow my water shoes so she could go in the water.  The falls on this trail were nice to swim and wade in.

The weather was cooler in the morning, so I started the hike wearing a sleeveless sheer white shirt.  I would have loved to have been able to wear this shirt all day as I don't feel comfortable wearing tanks in public, but as the temps heated up, the clothes came off!  Because the tank is so thin and light weight it went directly into my back pack no problem.

Day Four:  Lightweight sweatshirt, shorts, hiking sandals, tank top, hiking sandals, head band.

On day four, we drove to Michigan, and it was a cooler, dreary, off and on rainy day.  It was the perfect day to wear my new lightweight hooded sweatshirt that I picked up in Vail, Colorado on my last vacation.  Because it was thin, I didn't get too hot hiking in it, yet it helped protect me from the rain and mosquitoes.

I didn't wear a hat this day because there wasn't much for sun, but I did wear a headband to help hold my hair back.

I had my sweatshirt on for most of the day, but there were times I did get a little warm, and then I just tied it around my waist.

 Day Five:  Boyfriend jeans, lightweight hooded sweatshirt, brown flat sandals, sheer floral top, orange tank.

Well by Day Five we were all getting tired of hiking in the woods looking at water falls and we decided to have a city day.  The town of Bayfield is located right on the largest of the great lakes, Lake Superior, so the temperatures fluctuated constantly while we there.  If the wind was blowing right off the lake, we were freezing, but if the sun came out strong, we were hot.  It was actually very frustrating and I was constantly putting my jacket on and taking it off.

I can't say enough about this hoodie that I picked up at a gift shop in Vail.  I usually hate to wear sweatshirts because they are so thick and bulky, especially around the stomach area, and I feel so unattractive when I wear them.  But like I said before, this sweatshirt is a thinner material (yet it's still warm), and I love the length.  It doesn't bulk up around the stomach area like the traditional sweatshirt does.  I hope to get a lot more use out of this hoodie this fall/winter, and wear it not just for camping trips.

Here is the sheer floral top I wore under my sweatshirt.  The last time I wore this top was with a pair of tan shorts.  You can see that look HERE.

And finally, a going home outfit.

Day Six:  Black dress shorts, short sleeve top and camisole, black sandals.

On this day, we had to clean up our campsite, head back home (about a three hour drive), go out to lunch and stretch our legs a bit in a cute town, and then stop at the animal shelter on our way home to pick up our new kitty I had to look somewhat presentable!

I decided to wear sweats while cleaning up the camp site, and not change into nicer clothes till we were ready to leave.  That kept my new clothes from getting dirty, and I had something nice to wear strutting about town.

 Well I hope you enjoyed this post.  There's been a lot of talk in"Blog Land" regarding whether or not Blogger's really wear the outfits they feature or are they just dressing up for the camera.  The majority of my posts are outfits that I really wear, and if they are not, I always tell you!  Sometimes I just borrow clothes from my daughter or I put an interesting outfit together,  just to have something different to share so I don't bore my readers.  I know I get tired of fashion blogs if their style becomes too predictable, so I don't want to do that to my readers!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blue Ankle Pants

Anyone who has been following my fashion posts for long knows that comfort is just as important to me as style, because if I'm not comfortable in my clothes, I won't wear them.  That's why when I found these pull-on blue ankle pants at J.C. Penney, I knew that if they looked good when I tried them on, they would be going home with me.

The pants are made of a stretch twill material with an elastic waist.  There are no pockets, zippers, or buttons, yet the material is nice and thick so I don't have to worry about 'covering my butt' like I do when I wear leggings.

Because of the stretchy material and lack of buttons and zippers, these pants are super comfortable.  They have a nice slim fit, so they are super flattering.

If I chose to wear a longer top or sweater with these pants, I would have a nice smooth front and back, because there would not be any bulges from the pants protruding through.

The pants are slim fitting through out the leg, but they are not skin tight like skinny jeans.  They are a true ankle length on my body,  touching just a few inches above the ankle.

Ankle pants look great with flats or heels, short shirts or long shirts.  They are so versatile and easy to wear.  Since it's still warm, I chose to wear nude sandals and a short sleeveless top with my new pants.  But because of the dark navy color, I can see wearing these pants into the fall by just adding booties and a longer sweater or tunic.

For accessories I added a gold bracelet, a peach stone pendant necklace, and I carried a nude bag.

I received this top from Stitch Fix last June.  It has a sheer inlet panel in both the front and back of the top.  I get so many compliments every time I wear it.  People seem to always comment on the pattern.

 Even though I just purchased these pants in my local JCP,  I could not find them available on-line.  They are very similar in style to Old Navy's Pixie Pants, except without the zipper and pockets.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Arches National Park - Windows Trail and Double Arch

  This is a continuation of a travel series of a road trip I took to Las Vegas in May with my husband.  To start at the beginning read THIS POST.    Here are the rest of this travel series posts in chronological order:

So far in this series I have spent two travel posts covering Arches National Park and have yet to show you what this park it's famous's ARCHES.

First, let's talk a bit about the Arches. Arches National Park is known for containing over 2000 natural sand stone arches.   These arches are formed over time when parallel fractures in the rock's surface erode to form "fins".  Eventually, as the erosion continued through the years, these arches were created where the fins wore completely through.

The picture below shows a faraway shot of the North and South Windows.  The mammoth size of these arches is unbelievable!  Just notice the people in the picture to get an idea of the scale.

Windows Trail is a very easy, short hike on a paved trail.  Of course, most people go off the trail and hike up under and through the arches.  It is prohibited to climb or walk on any of the arches or natural bridges in the park.

The short one mile trail takes you to the North and South Windows seen above, and the Turret Arch seen below.

Anyone of all fitness abilities can walk on the main trail, but there is also an alternative return which is a primitive trail that is slightly longer and more difficult.

 They have nice, graduating steps that lead up to the North Windows Arch.

The short hike up is worth it for the views are amazing!

Here I am standing at the base of the North Window Arch.  You can see the Turret Arch in the distance behind me.

This is the view from up inside the Turret Arch.

I love it when State and National Parks provide hiking trails for everyone of all abilities to enjoy.  This is a trail that almost anyone can walk on for it's short,  it has stone or board steps, and easy to follow gravel paths.  We saw people of all ages enjoying this hike, from little children to the elderly.  But the young and fit enjoyed this trail as well, they just climbed a little higher and got off the beaten path for a bit.

This is a far away photo of Turret Arch.  It is so steep to get up under the arch.  I was literally pulling myself up and climbing rocks to get inside of it.  My husband always ended up going farther and he got so many of these lovely panoramic views.  I just climbed to the inside of the arch and usually stopped and waited in the shade for him to return.

This is called the Turret Arch because of the taller rock formation next to the smaller hole.  That formation looks like a turret...or a small tower.

I did make it to the top and climbed through Turret Arch.  This is me on the other side.

 On the other side of the parking lot of The Windows Trail and Turret Arch is the Parade of Elephants and the Double Arch.

The Double Arch trail is a 0.5 mile easy trail through some loose sand just to get to the bottom of the arch formation.  But if you want to get to the top base of the arch, that requires some major climbing.

The Parade of Elephants are the formations surrounding the Double Arch on the left.  They are named that because they look like, well elephants of course!

This is the base of the Double Arch trail.  It is two arches that form a dome.  It is an amazing experience to climb up into it as far as you can and look up and see the gorgeous blue sky.  Or, if your strong and brave like my husband, to climb up into the window and see breath-taking views!

Here I am standing near the end of the trail.

And here is the view from inside the arch.  See the tiny little person on the left?  That gives you some idea of the massive scale of these arches!

Here's an idea of what you have to climb to reach the top.

Me in the basin of the arch looking up at the arches above me.

That's my husband standing at the very top of the window of the arch.

View from the top!

The Arches of Arches National Park are truly amazing and you really have to experience them in person to appreciate them fully.  So if your ever in Utah, stop in Arches, even if you only have a short time.  We only had about six hours to spend in the park and we were able to hike three short trails and one longer one.  I wish I had about six more days to spend in the park, for there was so much more to see.  Hopefully someday I'll get back there!

Next week I'll conclude my visit to Arches National Park with the most famous arch of them all....Delicate Arch!  See you then!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE and Travel Tuesday!