a zero waste practice vacation.

IMG_4567

At the end of February, we attempted to have a little 4 day getaway to Southern Utah, before Jonathan’s busy work season kicked in. Alas, we made it a whole 24 hours before making the 5.5 hour drive home, due to a toddler who simply WAS NOT HAVING the hotel stay (one night was enough for us, and our poor neighbors).

I was excited about the trip not only because I was looking forward to the uninterrupted family time, but also because I was really excited to implement all my new zero waste planning and knowledge into the trip. While I’m minimizing our waste really drastically in the home, being out and about is where I still struggle. So I had done a LOT of planning ahead to get ready for this trip. Leaving the house for any length of time with a toddler takes preparation, so a 12 hour round-trip drive, plus four nights in a hotel can require some effort. And you guys, I was prepared. I packed a zero waste kit for the trip that included reusable everything: containers, bamboo utensils wrapped in cloth napkins, coffee mug and water bottles, a paring knife and cutting board for fruit and a tiny bottle of Castile soap to wash things between uses, plus a few dish towels.

IMG_4542

Our plan was to eliminate going out to eat the majority of the time, by packing our own, and hitting the local grocery store for provisions for the remainder of the trip. I brought a cooler down and we packed plenty of bulk-bin-purchased snacks and our lunch for the drive. We stopped at a cute little park to eat and let Hannah run off some pent up energy before resuming the journey. I prepacked bagel sandwiches and fruit and we ate and played.

IMG_4546

I even brought a reusable grocery bag to haul home anything recyclable and a coffee can for anything we could compost! For the drive, I borrowed plenty of books from the library for Hannah to browse (she LOVES books) and brought the iPad for Curious George fixes. I borrowed a few audio books from the library for J and I to listen to, and I crocheted.

St. George is beautiful and a bit warmer than home, so the trip plans were to scope out parks, Zion National Park, go swimming, and just enjoy the sun. After a horrible night with a sad little munchkin, we decided to spend the second day at Zion National Park, driving around and hiking an easy trail, then head for home. 😦 It was a bummer, but I was glad to see a part of my state I’d not seen before, and I learned a few things for our next adventure – like that camping is really our best option for now. 😉

IMG_4593

yellowstone pics, better late than never (?)

It’s been almost two months since our Yellowstone/Jackson Hole trip and I can’t believe I haven’t posted something about it! My new motto in life is “done is better than perfect” so I’m putting up this no-text (except this intro) post. We had a great time! Such a beautiful place. The pictures and lack of post don’t do it enough justice, but at least SOME justice. I can’t wait to go back!

IMG_1141

IMG_1042

IMG_1030

IMG_1015 IMG_0997  IMG_1091 IMG_1074   IMG_1146  Continue reading “yellowstone pics, better late than never (?)”

i heart new york.

It is bizarre to think I was in New York just a bit over a week before Hurricane Sandy and the devastation in the east. Watching the news and seeing the flooding in the subway stations, boardwalk, and Battery Park, I was thinking.. I was just there. It somehow solidified the feeling that I left a part of myself there.

The big, pulsing city. Somehow being there, among the art and diversity and culture and the most well-off and the most down-trodden, I felt more American. There’s the symbol of the opportunity in this country mixed with the bleak reminder of the evils of terrorism and the corruption of capitalism. It’s all there: the ugliness and the hope.

And the art. I love being in a place you can see an original Warhol, a limited edition Prada bag, and the best street graffiti in one day {cuz I did}. It’s visual and inspirational overload for an artist’s soul like mine.

We did all the essential things. MoMA, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty. And the quirky things. Off-Broadway, Coney Island (we tried). But I suppose I felt less self-conscious of my tourist-ness than I usually do. Maybe because there’s no “right” way to be in a city that diverse? Or maybe because the city is important enough to warrant photo-documentation.

The city doesn’t need us. It doesn’t care we were there. Except maybe the homeless guy we bought some food for, we left no mark. It felt more like I was understanding rather than observing. It all sinks in and you feel a part of something.

Maybe that’s why the east coast weather these past few days seems surreal to me, all the way back in cozy, safe Utah. You can’t visit New York without feeling how the city has endured. It wears its scars like badges. The “survivor trees” at the Twin Towers 9-11 Memorial were sobering and poetic. In the entire block, a few trees were all to survive the destruction and they were nursed back to health, blocked off and protected as living monuments.

Battery Park was also recently flooded and suffered some damage. This is where we boarded the ferry to Liberty Island. The park is the new home of this sculpture, which was moved from the Twin Towers wreckage during reconstruction to keep it safe. No restoration was done to this statue, so scorch marks, dents and all, this piece of art had a really somber effect on me and I wondered about how it fared the storms.

My favorite part of the trip was wandering around Brooklyn. It’s got that you-know-it-when-you-feel-it soul. I sort of thought I would feel more of that during the trip but every neighborhood really had it’s own atmosphere and to me, Brooklyn felt like it could be home. There is art in its crumbliness.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do. You can see everything while still being fully part of it.

We tried to go to Coney Island, but it was closed for the season. I took photos from outside the gate because I love creepy signs. Abandoned amusement parks stuck in a previous time. It’s the perfect setting for a horror flick.. or a really offbeat and awesome wedding reception.

It’s strange, the things about a place that can stick with you the most. For me it was a general feeling of blending. Somehow we all fit in, and it’s hard to remember that in the suburbs. I’m probably meant to be a big city girl, but it will survive without me.

NYC instagram

I’m the worst blogger, and an even worse travel blogger. I have the best of intentions, but when I get back from a trip I generally am exhausted and behind at life (duh) and the last thing I want to do it edit photos and write a blog post. Isn’t that so sad? Vacations deserve documentation, after all. So, I promise I will get around to recapping some of the highlights from our NYC trip last week. It was a great time, and an amazing city.

For now I will post at least some of my favorite Instagram shots (sorry for those of you who already follow me or see them on Facebook).

We rolled into the city at 5:30am on the red eye, and took the world’s spendiest cab ride to Time Square. This was the least crowded we experienced the city the entire time.

We stayed in a hostel called the NY Budget Inn. It was located in a great area so it was well worth surrendering the frills (and hot water). Any legitimate hotel in the city would have cost 3 times more. We barely spent time in our tiny prison-cell room.

We took the subway all over because it was the most cost effective way to get around. I loved that every stop had different art and flavor. This stop had mosaic eyes all over – dozens of them, all different.

The view from the Empire State Building was breathtaking.

Central Park was one of my favorite things. There’s a large area paying tribute to John Lennon. Yoko Ono paid for the restoration of the area and for the cost of the tribute. It was beautiful.

This was one of the lakes in the park.

Pizza everywhere! I loved this vintage-looking signage.

We went to see Avenue Q, an off-Broadway show, that was totally hilarious. It was in a cool little theater called New World Theater that had the best mod art. I liked how this mural looked with my graphic umbrella.

We took the ferry to Liberty Island. So fun! I loved seeing Lady Liberty in person. It really is surreal.

A few of the city from Liberty Island.

The American Museum of Natural History was awesome. We had to skip so much because it’s easily an all-day event if you wanted to see it all. I loved the dinosaurs and the Universe exhibits the most. It made me realize how I need to brush up on my astronomy one of these days.

Brooklyn was my favorite neighborhoor, by far. So artsy, old and full of character. Great buildings. We wandered around all day.

Under the bridge.

We took the subway alllll  the way to Coney Island, only to find it was closed for the season. It made for creepier shots. What a kitschy place.

The MoMA in NYC was a bit disapointing, honestly. The Frida Kahlo pieces were all gone, and there’s a huge chunk of modern art I just don’t appreciate or understand. I was drawn to the really graphic and text pieces mostly, like this one.

Time Square in the daylight. This one actually gives a sense of the crowds everywhere. It was pretty insane as expected.

Fun vacay! And hubby was a trooper as always, for trecking the city and keeping us from getting too lost. Most of the time. Lookit those bags under my eyes! Successful, exhausting trip.

empire state of mind.

We are going to NYC next month!

A couple of years ago, I put the trip on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, and heading there when I’m 29 seems like a great (possibly) last trip to end my 20s.

..And not that the end of my 20s means the end of carefree life, but lately I’ve been feeling a little too old for my age. I want to make this trip fun and nonstop and exhausting just because I can. Could I use a relaxing vacation? Hell yes. But the next decades of life are for sleep. 😉

For this trip, we’re keeping it all about experiencing every bit of the city we can, scrimping on the amenities in favor of spending our vacation budget on the fun stuff. We’re flying in on a red eye, so we’ll be starting the trip out with immediate sleep deprivation. We’ll be staying in a hostel! ..Where we rent towels and share a bathroom with European college kids, Korean families and assorted hipsters.  And, we are backpacking it. Carry-on only, for a week, just in case we want to pick up and move locations on a whim, and so it’s just not about the hassle of stuff. Thus the following edited packing list {you know I can’t pass up a packing collage}.

On the agenda:

Empire State Building, ferry to the Statue of Liberty, art museums, Broadway show, Brooklyn, SoHo, rocks shows, vegan joints, divey bars, nice clubs, Times Square, Central Park.. what else do you recommend we try to fit in?

What are your favorite things about NYC?

Death Valley

In college I worked as a Researcher/Writer for the National Scenic Byways website. Basically I got to read and write about different places around the country I was too poor to visit. It was awesome. Death Valley Scenic Byway was my fav.

I wrote this little snippet back in 2004. That’s as in-depth as our intros may have been but I read about it for hours. I felt like I knew it well because I was so fascinated by the weirdness of it and vowed to make it there one day. Eight years later I finally planned a from-Vegas road trip to Death Valley, armed with my Holga. Here’s a bit about our day-trip.

My initial impression of the place – it goes on for what feels like forever. And because it’s just hills and valleys as far as you can see, impressive and shocking landscapes unfold along the drive as you wind around. The entire place, at least in January, is very sparse, baron, and other-worldly. But it’s washed in pastels, layered with bizarre textures, and so peaceful.

Artist’s Drive is a gorgeous geological loop. The minerals of the earth gave the place a watercolor effect – greens, pinks, blues, yellows.

My favorite place was Devil’s Golf Course. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. The mineral formations are hard enough you can stand on the thinnest, pointiest sections without even budging them. You could impale yourself if you fell down while walking through this. I imagine millions of people have tried to photograph this weird landscape only to be disappointed that the photos didn’t do the place any justice. It feels like you are on the edge of an uninhabited planet.

The Badwater salt flats area is the most bizarre to me because I saw people walking out miles in the distance through the flats. Just walking and surrounded by whiteness. It looks like the perfect location for alien abduction.

This crater was caused by hot air trapped under the earth. One day is just exploded. This would have been an awesome Holga candidate if I hadn’t left the lens cap on- doh! (:

Hoping my Holga pix turn out – I’ll be sure to post if they do!

Paisley

So, we were in Vegas for a long weekend. The trip was DRAMZZ. I have stories. Some of them I will share. haha. Later. Hubby survived his 30th {happy birthday, babe!} and despite the fact that eleventy crazy things happened, we had tons of fun and we have some seriously hilarious memories. Vegas remains a place I can’t wait to leave. I’m glad it’s weird but I’m more glad I’m rarely there.

Soon I’ll be ready to talk about it. 😛

But now there are squirmier, happier, cuddlier, puppier things going on.

This is Paisley.

We just brought her home tonight and we are already smitten. So is her big sis, Sadie, although at first she was just confused.

They are already playing. And it is so adorable. (:

I’m already sleep-deprived so it’s going to be a long week! Welcome to the family, lil’ missy.