la mia bella vita

my beautiful life by Katie

What I’m Packing

So I’ve started hinting that the Mr. and I are gearing up for a trip, and with just a few weeks away, I am in major prep mode.  Although I am going to still keep our destination a surprise for now, I will tell you that where we are going is requiring some special packing items – we need to be prepared for hot, humid weather, and tropical rain storms.  That being said, I’ve done my best to find a few flowy dresses and waterproof items to make sure that I will be comfortable throughout our travels.

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striped dress  / /  teva sandals  / /  blue dress

longchamp tote  / /  printed shift dress  / /  dress with frills

Since I started looking for some of these new items just a couple of weeks ago, I quickly realized I probably should have started my search much earlier.  So much of what is in stores now is already from the Fall collections.  Any suggestions on where to find some Summery dresses this late in the season?

In the Kitchen with Katie

Okay guys, so I am really excited to announce that I am starting a new series on my blog today.  Although actually now that I mention it, this is really my first series.  Let me try this again.  Okay guys, so I am really excited to announce that I am starting a series on my blog today, “In the Kitchen with Katie.”

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Anyone remember the last time I posted about cooking?  Yes, it was the infamous cauliflower disaster.  Out of the yucky cauliflower came 2 revelations: 1. I hate cauliflower in all forms and 2. Even though I love cooking, I am a little (a lot) too impatient to take step by step photos to share with you.

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So, you won’t be finding any step by step photos for how to cook in my new series.  But, if you stick around, you will get some beautiful food photography, probably some kitchen mishaps, the hilarious truth behind how messy I can be in the kitchen, and the complete successes that I lovingly prepare and want to share with you!  I hope that you decide to stay and follow along as I find my footing and balance between my love for cooking and how I can share it with you all and still be myself.

So, to kick off the series, let me catch you up on what I was cooking up this past weekend.  I actually cooked way more than I intended, but sometimes I get in a “cooking mood,” and when it strikes, I go with it.

On Friday, I found our kitchen low on groceries, and me, low on time.  So I needed to get a little creative for our meals.  Luckily we had a few of our kitchen staples, so I was able to come up with some fab meals.  For lunch, I made a tomato pizza.  I shmeared some homemade ricotta whipped with olive oil over my rolled out dough, topped it with sliced tomatoes, dried oregano and a sprinkle of salt.  Then I threw on some sliced shallots and a ball of burrata that I tore up.  When it got out of the oven, I added some fresh basil, and boy was it good.

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After our big pizza lunch, neither one of us was particularly hungry at dinner, but I decided to make one of our favs that works great as a meal or as a snack, Gigantes Plaki.  Greek style butter beans cooked slowly in a tomato and onion sauce…yum.  However, I can’t help but add a little Italian flair with some red pepper flakes and fresh basil on top.  We even ate some on Saturday with a little of that homemade ricotta that I mentioned earlier, and it was so good.

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On Sunday the hubs ran out for a few groceries while I did some writing, and when he got home, I was ready to get busy in the kitchen.  Today’s cooking list was a tall order – homemade red sauce, vodka sauce, meatballs and shrimp stock.  My goal was to make big batches of some of our favorite go-to meals to stow away in the freezer for busier days.

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I’ve been using the same sauce recipe for years, and it is a winner.  Plus, it’s got a secret bonus – you get 2 sauces for the work of one.  You make one giant batch of red sauce (I made 2 large pots worth), you keep some as your traditional red, and then you turn some into vodka sauce!

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While the sauces simmered and bubbled away, I also got on the task of making the meatballs (a family recipe that I will have to write up one of these days).  Once all of the sauce was done simmering, and the meatballs fried (yes, fried is the only way to do them), my last task was shrimp stock.

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A few months ago I finally bit the bullet and started making homemade stocks.  In my head it sounded like a lot of extra work (does this remind you of my homemade bread complex?)  Well, obviously to those of you who make homemade stock, you know that it is not a lot of work.  And now I know that too.  Aside from chicken stock, I have started making shrimp stock for our favorite risotto.  It’s actually quite easy.  I just save our shrimp shells in the freezer until I have enough to whip up some stock (you can do it with just 1 lbs. worth of shells).  Trust me, if you are on the fence about making homemade stocks, just make the jump and try it once, it is so worth it.

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By the time all of the cooking was done, food was packed away, and the kitchen was cleaned (I am a little messy sometimes, but I like to think it’s just my culinary creativity), we were both tired and ready for dinner.  Funny thing was, after cooking all day, we both felt like takeout.  So, we rented a movie, ordered some sushi and curled up on the sofa.  As you follow along, you’ll find that this was truly a “Katie moment”.  Cook all day in the kitchen, and then order takeout.  Perhaps I should rename the series “the Indecisive Eater?”

End of Summer Bucket List

Wow, so I am clearly a little late to the game with a “Summer Bucket List,” hence the “End of Summer Bucket List.”  But even with just a little over a month of Summer left, I am hopeful to sneak in a few more fun things before Fall creeps in.

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Do you all remember my Spring Bucket List?  So if you take a look, I really only missed a couple of things on my list, which for me, is pretty impressive.  So I’ve decided to add the Spring leftovers to my Summer list, and fingers crossed, nothing gets pushed back to Fall…or Winter…or Spring 2017.

So, without further adieu, I present to you my End of Summer Bucket List:

  1. Spend the day at the beach
  2. Get new boogie boards and put them to use
  3. Have a late night outdoor cookout and enjoy our warm Summer nights
  4. Make a point to enjoy at least 3 sunsets (not at home) (yes, this means I will need to change out of my pj’s)
  5. Fly a kite
  6. Go for an outdoor happy hour
  7. Go out for Taco Tuesday at this famous eatery and then enjoy a beach walk
  8. Go for a hike
  9. Go on a Summer vaca (already in the works, details soon!)
  10. Go to a concert at Humphreys
  11. Go dancing
  12. Try a new restaurant (maybe this one)
  13. Go to a Padres game
  14. Take our beach cruisers on the boat over to Coronado and bike around for the day
  15. Make a stone fruit dessert (probably this one)
  16. Go to Belmont Pier
  17. Go out for ice cream (preferably here or here)
  18. Splurge on this deep dish with friends

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So, with just over 40 days left of Summer (yikes), I will need to be checking off something almost every 2 days (I’ve really gotta get a move on it here!).  So, if you’re looking for me,  I’ll be at the beach, checking number 1 off of my list.

Love

Today is a very special day.  9 years ago today, I married the man of my dreams.  I can’t hardly believe that it has already been 9 years since we tied the knot, and almost 14 years since we first met.  Time has flown by way too fast.

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It’s amazing how love changes you, and how marriage with the one you love more than anything changes you.  Love is truly the most beautiful gift, and I feel so blessed to have shared so many special years with my hubby.

So in honor of our anniversary, I wanted to share 9 things that I have learned in our 9 beautiful years together:

  1.  Never wait for the “perfect” time.  Some people thought that we were getting married too young and thought that we should wait a few more years.  But you know what?  The second we got married, we both agreed that we should have done it even earlier.  When you meet your other half, anytime is the right time to get married, go on an adventure or plan out life’s next big milestone.
  2. Be thankful everyday.  Make a point to be grateful for each other and life’s small blessings everyday.  With busy lives and work schedules, it can be easy to overlook the wonderful tiny things in your everyday lives – whether it be a good cup of coffee, a back rub or even a few minutes of sunshine.  By choosing gratitude everyday, you stay more connected and more joyful as a couple – and all of the small blessings snowball into larger ones.
  3. Show your love.  My hubby and I both know that we love each other, but we also make a point to say it to each other countless times throughout the day and do small things that show our love to each other.  One of my favs from the Mr. is the almost nightly foot massage.
  4. Choose each other.  This was the best piece of advice that we received before we got married.  My Mom actually got it from an old friend’s Mom that she bumped into while grocery shopping, and here it is: every single day, take each others hands, and hold each others wedding rings, and re-choose each other.  Look into each others eyes and tell each other how much you love each other.  Start each day with the same love that you shared on your wedding day.  Not a day has gone by that we have missed this.  And even when we have been apart, we have done it over the phone and even through email.  It has become a very special moment for us, and the best way for us to start our day.  Although our love story began long before our wedding day, starting our day by honoring our vows…there is truly nothing better.
  5. Laugh.  Find the humor in everything.  Laugh all of the time.  Joke around and never grow up.  I love to find laughter and humor in as much as I can.  Sometimes it’s cracking a good joke, sometimes it’s poking fun of the Mr. or sometimes it’s jumping out and scaring him. (I find this one hilarious, him, not so much.)
  6. Take time to be quiet together.  Between trying to accomplish everything on our to-do lists everyday, it can be easy to forget to slow down.  To hold each other just a little extra longer in the morning, to hug each other and just enjoy that moment, to turn off the t.v. and just lay quietly together.  Creating those quiet moments together truly helps us stay connected even during our busiest times.
  7. Pray together.  My Grandma always said, “the couple that prays together, stays together.”  I realize that this isn’t for everyone, but a similar idea can be applied.  For me and the Mr., sharing a few quiet moments praying together and thanking God for our blessings is something that is very important to us.  But it doesn’t have to be a conversation with God, just taking the time to quietly appreciate life’s goodness together is a great practice.
  8. Change it up.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  Completely!  Surprise each other in little ways.  Sometimes my hubby surprises me with flowers, sometimes with a massage, but sometimes he shows me extra patience, or gives me a ton of extra hugs.  Whatever it is, it’s always fun to see what each new day will bring.
  9. Remember these 3 words: Love never fails.  There is nothing that can come between you and your partner that the power of your love can’t overcome.  The common denominator in every situation is the love that you share.  No matter who feels they are right or who is wrong, or who is hurt, or who has mis-communicated, you can both always agree that despite anything that may be going on, you love each other.  Keep love at the center of everything in your lives, that is the most important thing.

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Happy Anniversary my love.  These past 9 years have truly been magical.  I can’t wait to see where this adventure will take us next.  I love you.

P.S.

It’s our last day here in Palm Springs (insert soft sobs).  Although this has been a quick little getaway for us, it has completely served its purpose – we have definitely vacated and definitely recharged.

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Since we only have a few hours today before we have to head back to the city to resume a life of not lounging all day (again, insert soft sobs), we wanted to make sure to make the most of our remaining time.

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We decided to start our day with the yoga class that is offered daily here at the Saguaro.  Neither one of us are yoga aficionados by a long shot, but it was a really great class.  The instructor was very sweet, and she focused the class around circulation, which she reminded us can get a bit out of whack while traveling.

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Feeling loose and limber, we peacefully wandered back to our room, grabbed our sunhats and sunscreen and set up shop at the pool.  The pool was delightfully quiet today, and we both loved it.

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After about an hour of sunning ourselves, we realized that we practically had the place to ourselves…definitely the perfect opportunity for a cannonball contest.

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It was beyond fun to enjoy being kids again and goof around in the pool.  And with a backdrop as colorful as the Saguaro, there is truly no better place in Palm Springs to indulge in a little childish fun.

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Since we wanted to spend every last minute that we had enjoying the pool, we decided to order a round of nachos to share before it was time to hit the road.

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Tummies full of nachos, skin bronzed, and hair still wet from the pool, we piled our things back into the car and said our goodbyes to the Saguaro and Palm Springs.  Time passes too quickly when you are lounging in the desert, but, you feel like you have lost nothing and gained everything.  Another relaxing trip to P.S. in the books.  Life vacated.

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Groundhog Day

After a seriously relaxing first day in Palm Springs, we pretty much woke up this morning and silently agreed to have a Groundhog Day.

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We headed right out for our morning coffee, which, since we didn’t have any breakfast plans today, we also split (my favorite) lemon poppy-seed muffin.

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And for good measure, we grabbed a couple of iced coffees on our way out to enjoy on our walk.  We woke up early today to try and sneak in a walk while it was still a little bit cooler.  We both love all of the decor around Palm Springs, and just wandering the streets is one of our favorite things to do.

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After our walk, we headed straight back to the Saguaro, and beelined it to the pool.  And here is what the next couple of hours looked like:

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view from our loungers

No joke.  We just loafed.  I swear that there must be something in the air in Palm Springs, because what feels like the blink of an eye is hours gone by, and before we knew it, it was lunch time.

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For lunch today we decided to wander outside the walls of our hotel.  Although tempting to stay and get tacos, we were equally excited to try out Trio.  And we were both glad that we stuck to the plan.  A perfectly crisp and refreshing rose, a super yummy curry salad for me, and a pot roast sammy for the Mr. (yes, he’s got nothing against eating pot roast in 100° heat), we were in lunch heaven.

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We sat outside (yes, we love the heat!), and although we pretty much sweat through our clothes, it was really nice.  No one else was brave enough to sit outside, so we felt like we had the place to ourselves.  Not a bad way to dine.

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complimentary butterscotch pudding

Leftovers in hand (pot roast makes the perfect late night snack), we headed back to our hotel to burn off our lunch with a little post-eating lounging.

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We again absolutely loved just literally laying like “lumps on a log” (as my parents would say), soaking in the sun, enjoying the peace and quiet, and truly vacating.  We actually both dozed off, yes, in 100° degree heat, which is a testament to how completely relaxed we were.  Paradise found.

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After a long, relaxing afternoon, we headed back to our room to catch sunset from our balcony.  The concierge had told us that our room had great views for sunset, and we definitely wanted to take advantage of our vantage.

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We sat in the cool shade of our balcony until the sun disappeared just behind the mountains, and both agreed that we are extremely blessed.

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Although we probably could have turned in for the night, we couldn’t help but play a quick game of bocce ball.  Okay, so you might or might not know this about me, but I love bocce ball.  I’ve actually been playing in a local league for about a year now, so when I heard that the Saguaro had courts, I was super excited.

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It didn’t turn out to be the most exciting game, but we laughed a lot, shared a little wine, and just enjoyed each others company.  It was a fun way to end another beautiful day in Palm Springs.  Life is good, life is really good.  Tomorrow’s plan? How about another Groundhog Day?

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Sa-wah-roh

Have you ever gotten back from vacation, and feel like you need a vacation to unwind from your other vacation?  Maybe I am the only crazy person who feels that way, but sometimes after doing a busy vaca, the hubs and I feel like we just need to get away from it all and quiet our minds.  You know, decompress a little.  Vacate from vacating.  And there is one place that always gives us that feeling, Palm Springs.

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I don’t know what it is about Palm Springs, but somehow we always feel transported much further than 2 hours away; maybe it’s the desert oasis, maybe it’s the stuck in time mod-architecture, or maybe it’s the fruity drinks.  But whatever it is, we were craving it when we got back from Yellowstone.  And when Palm Springs calls your name, you always say yes.

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We’ve been to Palm Springs enough times now that we have a pretty good routine:  leave San Diego early, avoid traffic, stop and take pictures as we enter town, and then stop for some coffee.

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Typically post coffee, we head straight to our hotel to start our pool time, but we actually changed up our routine this time.  (Shocker, right?)  Iced coffees in hand, we headed to a place that has long been on my list of things to do in Palm Springs, the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium.

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And you know what?  It turned out to be adorable!  Besides all of the cacti that we expected, we became completely enthralled with the large desert tortoises eating their lettuce breakfast.  (They were so cute!)  I guess that I kind of have a thing for animals right now.  First the buffalo, now the tortoise.

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By the time we finished at the garden, the hubs and I had both worked up quite a hunger, but luckily we were just mere minutes from our brunch stop, Elmers.

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This was our first time at Elmer’s, so we did what any first time diner would do – we ordered way too much food.

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Eggs benedict, a Dutch Baby pancake, a shorty stack of buttermilk pancakes, and we even snuck in a little fresh fruit.

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And I’m sure you’re wondering how we made out?  Well, everything was “slamming” as my husband says.  But beyond the food being delish, we had some of the best and most attentive service we have had anywhere in years.

Completely stuffed, we rolled ourselves out and headed to most likely our final stop for the day, our hotel.  Another first for us on this trip, the Saguaro has long tempted us with its colorful decor and promise of margaritas and Mexican food.

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But make sure you say it right….Sa-wah-roh.  (Honestly, I am still trying to get it right.  I drop the ‘g,’ right?)

Correct pronunciation or not, we checked in early, and they thankfully were super accommodating and had our room ready for us.  We parked, unpacked the car, and both oohed and aahed as we entered our room.  First we were loving the air conditioning.  Second, all of the colors.  And to have a moment of honesty, my husband’s favorite color is fire-cone orange, so he couldn’t have been more delighted with the bathroom decor.

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After getting settled in, we had just one thing we wanted to do for the rest of the day, lounge by the pool.  We headed down, grabbed some chairs with misters over them, ordered a couple of fruity frozen drinks, and lounged.

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We lounged on our chairs, we lounged in the pool, we lounged by the bocce courts, we lounged at the bar, we lounged under the misters.  We do what Palm Springs is all about – lounging and doing nothing.

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The end.  That was the end of our quick getaway.  Just kidding!  If you know us, then you know that eventually we got hungry enough to stop lounging and start thinking about food.

But before we officially made it to the dinner hour, I somehow convinced my husband to go for a bike ride with me (in 100° heat).  I tried to work the angle of: “the breeze will keep you cool.”

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Well, there pretty much was no breeze.  What’s the opposite of a breeze?  Oh yeah, heat.  Well, even though it was crazy hot, we were excited that the Saguaro has complimentary beach cruisers for you to take out.  And if I can’t convince my husband to go out because of a “breeze”, something free will always close the deal.

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We biked around Palm Springs, stopped to take a few (sweaty) photos, and enjoyed the amazing homes that make this cute little town so special.

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Post bike ride, it was without a doubt dinner o’clock.  Since we had such a tough day, you know, eating and lounging, we decided to just wander ourselves over to one of the hotel’s restaurants, El Jefe.  And although it wasn’t Taco Tuesday, it was Taco Sunday for us!

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We started out with some killer fried zucchini flowers and a round of drinks (the margaritas are so good here), and then decided to get right down to business, street corn and tacos.  We tried one of each taco that were on offer, and they were all so good.  Seriously.  We each had some favorites picked out, but then immediately changed our minds to other favorites…resulting in the realization that we loved them all.  (And, might I add, I was completely surprised and blown away by the cactus taco!)

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After dinner, we were beat.  The combination of a long day in the sun and full tummies had us craving an early sleep.  But we couldn’t have asked for a better day.  It was everything we were looking for – relaxing with coffee, relaxing at the pool, and relaxing at dinner.  If you’re looking for us tomorrow, you’ll know where to find us…relaxing at the Su-wah-roh.

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the view from our balcony

Moose

With all of our Grand Teton plans quickly checked off our list, there was only one thing left to do before we started our journey home, spot a moose.  Yes, the infamous moose.

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Even with all of the wildlife that we had spotted in Yellowstone and here (a bald eagle, buffalo galore, osprey, deer, elk, pika, fox, black bears, grizzly bears, bear cubs, gophers, badgers, bighorn sheep, wolves, swans, antelope, coyote, cows, horses, a red tailed hawk, bush squirrels and some pelican too), the one thing that escaped us was the moose.

Everyone in Yellowstone said that for sure we would see moose in Grand Teton.  Well, on our first day here, our timing was off for moose, so we wanted to make sure to wake up early this morning and catch the moose while they were out for a little breakfast.  (We even passed up making one last campfire breakfast to do some moose spotting.)

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There are two main spots to watch for moose in Grand Teton, but luckily for us, Ranger Dan had offered his advice to go to Oxbow Bend.  So, Oxbow Bend it was.

We went, we parked, we sat outside, we took pictures…and we saw no moose.  Not even an antler.  We waited, we spoke to the moose Gods, we pleaded with Mother Nature, and still no moose.  We contemplated leaving, but then we dug deep for more patience, and still no moose.

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After a good while of sitting in silence, practically dying for a moose to show up, we decided to throw in the towel.  No moose, but it was a beautiful morning – the crisp, fresh mountain air and views of the Tetons were a pretty good consolation prize for no moose.

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And just like that, our trip had come to an end, and we were ready to start our long drive home.  We said our goodbyes to the Tetons, and to the moose that never showed up, took in one last breath of that fresh mountain air, and hopped in the car.

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Moose or not, we both agreed what an amazing adventure we had had.  Both here and in Yellowstone, we saw more and experienced more than we had anticipated.  Stocked with amazing and hilarious stories of our adventures, it was the perfect time for us to head back to our own home on the range.

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Moving On

After surviving our night in the windy forest, we both felt ready to pack up and move on.  But before we could say our goodbyes to Yellowstone, we decided to squeeze in one last visit to Lamar Valley.

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And the second time around?  It was as magical and as amazing as the first.  Much like our first visit, we saw bears, antelope, coyotes, and tons and tons of buffalo.

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I seriously can’t get enough of these guys, they are just so cute.  They are slow and a little odd, but hilariously cute.  Eating, roaming, sitting, laying, sleeping, walking…they could pretty much be doing anything and I would love them.

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It was truly the perfect last adventure to have in Yellowstone.  We both were beaming as we arrived back at our campground, ready to pack up, get on the road and start the final part of our trip.

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While the hubs got our camp packed up, I prepared a campfire breakfast.  We didn’t realize until we were here that it is legal to have fires at any time of day, so we hadn’t packed perishable breakfast foods.  Luckily, the Canyon facilities had a food store, so we stocked up on a few items to whip up a nice breakfast.

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A hot breakfast in our stomachs, the after-glow of buffalo watching, and we were ready to hit the road.  We drove South heading out of Yellowstone, and within a few short hours, we reached our next and final destination on our trip, Grand Teton National Park.

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When you arrive, the views are immediately breathtaking.

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After checking into our campground, we drove over to the ranger station to get help with our itinerary.  Having come from such a large park, spending most of our days just driving in between spots, we were in the mindset that things would take an equally long amount of time here.  Cue our slightly awkward and dry conversation with the ranger.

Me: “So, we wanted to drive around Jenny Lake, how many hours do you think we should allot for that?”

Ranger Dan: “Probably about 10 minutes.”

Me: “10 minutes!?!”

Ranger Dan: “Ummm yeah, its about 2 miles around.”

Me: “Oh okay, and so we heard about this place in town called Cowboy…”

Ranger Dan: “It’s a bar.”

Me: “Right, so is it worth a stop?”

Ranger Dan: “It’s a bar.”

So, after our enlightening conversation, we both came to the realization that in general, Grand Teton National Park is significantly smaller than Yellowstone.

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Luckily as we were leaving the ranger station, we overheard a family talking about swimming in Jackson Lake.  We hadn’t even considered it, as we assumed it would be way too cold.  But, we decided to drive over and give it a look (the drive took approximately 3 minutes).

Upon seeing that tons of people were braving the shockingly cold waters, we decided to give it a go too.  Well, it was freezing, I’m not going to lie, but after about 10-20 minutes your body adjusts (that or you are just so numb you don’t notice that you are freezing anymore.)

After our quick dip, which by the way is amazingly scenic, we got dried off and started our drive to do the main loop around the park.  Originally we were thinking that this loop would take hours to complete, and days with all of the stops added in, but luckily Ranger Dan helped clear that all up for us.

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Grand Teton is a very easy and straightforward park to visit.  Since we were basically there to enjoy the views of the Tetons, our plan was to just drive the main loop and pull off at the various scenic view points.

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So, drive and stop we did.  And as you can see, we couldn’t help but stop for some more buffalo too!

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We spent the better part of the afternoon just driving around and enjoying the views, it was very relaxing and very beautiful.

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When we finished the loop, we headed back to our campground to set up for the night.  While the Mr. got our tent all fixed and ready, I worked on dinner.  Tonight’s menu?  A steak fit for a cowboy and all the fixings too – potatoes roasted on the coals, asparagus and cornbread muffins.

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Everything was cooking along and lining up just right.  We were both just chomping at the bit, ready to dig in.  Then something happened.  The hubs had gone over to the car to grab a few things, and I went to the fire to flip the steak.  Just as I had grabbed the steak, the fire flamed up and smoke got in my eyes.  I flailed a little bit and “oh #*$%” exploded out of my mouth.  “What happened, did you drop the steak into the ashes?” My husband asked, slightly panicked.  “Ummmmmm…kind of.” 

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Yup, our almost perfectly cooked steak dropped directly into the ashes.  Now, if there was another steak, no big deal.  But, we had only bought one large steak to share.  (Insert sad faces here.)  But, when you are camping, you’ve got to get creative and make the most of it.  So, we quickly grabbed some bottled water and “washed” the steak.  We popped it back on the grill to cook off any other bits and voila!  A no-longer charred, but hopefully still delicious steak.

We loaded up our plates and dug in – the asparagus was on point, the cornbread muffins?  Best I had ever cooked them.  The steak?  Not too bad all things considered.  And the potatoes?  Huh, oddly crunchy.  I had cooked them a good hour, but they seemed barely ready.  So, we threw them back on the fire in a bid to get them properly cooked.

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thank God for smores!

Well, eventually we got tired of waiting for them, so we just tucked into our new creation, potatoes al dente.  Wine in hand, we enjoyed our dinner and shared some good chuckles about all that had happened.  It’s like they say out here on the range, when life throws you an ash-covered steak, you make steak.

Adventures in Yellowstone

It was another beautiful morning here in Yellowstone.  The sun was shining, the air was fresh and crisp, and the birds were singing (literally).

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Today we change camps from Madison to Canyon.  And speaking of which, I think that I have failed to mention up until this point just how huge Yellowstone is.  It’s enormous!  It can literally take hours to get between different parts of the park, and that is exactly why we are dividing our time here between two different campgrounds.

After getting the car all packed up (or basically just stuffing everything in, goodbye organized car), we headed to Artist Point and the South Rim Trail.  No, we are not at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim Trail, we are going to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone; and Artist Point is the lookout for the Canyon and the falls.

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You can easily just stop by Artist Point and enjoy the beautiful views of the Grand Canyon, but we decided to follow the South Rim Trail over to Uncle Tom’s Trail, which takes you down towards the base of the falls.

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Up until this point of the hike, I was, in my own way, enjoying it (although I was on major bear watch), but then we reached the end of Uncle Tom’s Trail, and this is what I saw…

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Okay, so I haven’t mentioned this before, but I am slightly afraid of heights.  But, I am also the kind of person who tries to push them-self beyond personal boundaries, sooo…the show must go on.  I decided to try and make the most of this giant staircase hanging over the Canyon.

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Wobbly knees, one stop to cling to the railing while sitting down, counting the stairs to distract myself, and we made it.

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It was beautiful, and I am glad that we went down; however I had a hard time enjoying it for more than a few snaps once we arrived.  After hustling back up the stairs, I felt relieved knowing that the rest of our day would be all land and car adventures.

From Artist Point we made the split decision to drive back to Old Faithful, hoping that our timing might be just right for us to enjoy a better viewing.

Luckily, our timing was spot on.  However, unlike the other morning when we quickly grabbed front row seats minutes before the eruption, this afternoon’s visit was jammed with people.

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Rows and rows of visitors eagerly awaiting Old Faithful’s magic.  And wait we did.  She was supposed to erupt at 1:15, and when she didn’t, the ranger reminded us that the times are approximate, and that it would happen within the next 10 minutes.  1:25, nothing.  1:30, nothing.  1:40, nothing.  1:42, a few little burps.  Finally, 1:48 p.m., she erupted.  Hey, 30 minutes late, but better late than never, right?

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Sadly, it was another small and quick eruption.  The ranger announced that since it was so small and quick, there would be another eruption in about 20-30 minutes.  After 2 slight misses on Old Faithful, we decided to throw in the towel and just be grateful for the experience.

To help brighten our spirits, we grabbed an ice cream cone on our way out, and then started our drive towards Canyon.  The drive was beautiful – we drove alongside Yellowstone Lake, past the Continental Divide and through beautiful pastures spotted with buffalo.

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Once we reached camp, we were both eager to set up our gear and get our fire roaring.

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The Canyon Campground was beautiful, and surprisingly different than Madison.  Madison was more cleared out with a few large pines, and Canyon is little tent clearings set in between super tiny toothpick-like pine trees that really sway with all of the winds.  But with more trees comes more privacy, and that is definitely a bonus when it comes to camping.

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Just as we finished setting up camp a fire truck pulled up on a neighboring street.  Being the kind of person who considers herself a part of the imaginary neighborhood watch program, I did what any (nosy) person would do, I went over to see what was going on.  Apparently a bunch of trees had fallen down, and so they were coming to clear them.

As I walked back to our camp, I suddenly noticed something that looked a little strange.  Yup, a fallen tree.  Literally in the 5 minutes I was gone, a tree fell over right next to our tent.

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I headed back over to the firefighters to see if they could come and cut up our tree as well, while they were at work.  They informed me that it wasn’t anything to be concerned about, that it happens all the time, and as long as it didn’t hit anyone in the head, there was no problem.  I file this one under different strokes for different folks – me personally, I’d like to keep all of my body parts intact.

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Having our fears of falling trees put to rest (not), it was beyond time to start dinner.  And tonight is a real campfire classic in our house, fajitas!

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Then again, I guess that we kind of love anything that we cook while we are camping.  Anything cooked in a lodge pan over an open flame is a sure-fire win.

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After dinner, the night fell dark much quicker than it had been, and so we decided to turn in early.  Although, as we lay all tucked into our sleeping bag, the wind howled, and the trees swayed, and we couldn’t help but feel a bit spooked.  “Don’t worry honey,”  I assured my husband, “the firefighter said as long as it doesn’t land on your head, we’re all good.”

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the forest surrounding our tent

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