Hiking Down into One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: the Grand Canyon

Hello all! Hope you had a relaxing Veteran’s Day long weekend.

As I previously posted, I spent mine road tripping, camping, and hiking down into the Grand Canyon! Here are a few things I learned that can help you plan your own trip…

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#1 November is definitely a good time to go. We were a little worried it might be too cold, but the temperature was actually perfect. Nice and crisp in the morning and downright warm in the daytime

#2 The Canyon has a wonderful little camping spot that was excellent! Be sure to reserve a spot at any campground before your trip, as they fill up. We reserved one four days ahead of time, which worked out fine. You will arrive at your campground, get a place to park and set up your tent, equipped with a fire pit and picnic table. There are also showers (8 minutes, hot water, $2) and laundry services. The best part of the campground is access to the shuttles. The shuttles transport you all around the grounds- from your campsite, to the visitors’ center, the different lodges, restaurants, and of course, the many different trails. Visitors’ center opens up at 8 am, and the staff is extremely helpful in helping you decide which trail you’d like to do.

#3 Get an early start. First of all, the sunrise over the Grand Canyon is magnificent. Second of all, there are far less people out and about at 8 am, than at noon. We started our hike at 8 am, which was perfect because there were some other hikers around (helped us feel safe) but the trails were mostly empty and we were able to enjoy the sights by ourselves. When we finished our hike at noon, carloads of people were just arriving. Plus, it got pretty hot by noon, and you’ll definitely want cooler temperatures and fog overhead to do your hiking.

#4 Definitely bring a backpack and pack multiple waters and snacks with you. Even if you’re not planning a strenuous hike, these trails are intense. It’s very easy going down… little harder coming back up! But, completely worth it. We did the South Kaibab Trail, which turned out perfectly. We are in no means professional hikers, so if you’re looking for a minimal workout and to get into some good Canyon depth, South Kaibab may work for you. The staff at the visitors’ center was really helpful in determining this.

#5 Pack for different temperatures! Layers are a must. I started the hike wearing sweats, a long sleeve shirt, sweater, and vest. I finished the hike in a sports bra and leggings. I also slept in many layers, but walked around during the day in jeans and a t-shirt. So, bring multiple options! It will definitely help you stay comfortable.

Our trip to the Canyon was epic. We drove for eight hours starting in San Diego and headed east. We got to drive through rural valleys, hills, and rocky landscapes. We stumbled upon some huge sand dunes and climbed up them, watching drivers try to catch each other in dune buggies below us.

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Winterhaven, CA
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Winterhaven, CA

Essential to any road trip; we stopped for dinner at a Western-themed diner filled with locals. Had a great meal, and, of course, homemade pie.

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Calico’s Restaurant

We slept overnight in our campground and watched the sunrise at 7 am the next morning. The Canyon was vaster than I could have ever imagined. The colors of the rock transform throughout the day, and the sunlight gives them life. Watching the sun slowly illuminate every rock, crevice, and dip as far as my eye could see was incredible to witness.

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Sunrise, Mather Point

We had our breakfast at a cafe next to the visitors’ center. Delicious coffee! All ready to go.

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When you first start your hike you look down into the canyon and think, that’ll take forever to get to the bottom of. It looks impossible, but the further down you go, little by little, it actually takes no time at all. And soon, you’re halfway down without even realizing it.

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Inner Canyon, South Kaibab Trail

The dirt was bright red, and the walls of rock around me were pink from the sun, and light green from far away trees. Each line and divot looked meticulously crafted by wind and other elements. Focusing on each focal point; a tree ahead you, a cliff up ahead, in the distance all you can see is Canyon surrounding you.

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Inner Canyon

No echoes. No nearby chatter (if you go early enough). Just silence. Complete tranquility, as you witness this colossal masterpiece, exquisite by simply existing. Untouched, undisturbed.

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A few hours after our hike, we returned to the isolated spot to watch the sunset. The dark night sky and moon enclosed the canyon, painting new colors. In the morning, we returned to the Canyon, just to say goodbye.

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Sunset, Yaki Point

We drove home a different way than we had come, and passed by many small rural towns. Had to stop at (another) diner, and made it back in good time.

The Grand Canyon was incredible. What was your experience like?

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More pictures featured on my Instagram

Upcoming Trip to the Grand Canyon!

Hi everyone!

I am currently planning a camping/ hiking/ road trip to the Grand Canyon to take place over the upcoming long Veterans Day weekend. I live in San Diego and the drive will be 8 hours. I’ve reserved a campground in the Village of the Grand Canyon, and am planning to take a shuttle to the trails I choose to hike.

Look for updates on my trip! I’ll be sharing photos, resources, and how YOU can plan your own visit!

Happy adventuring 🙂

Where Have I Traveled That I Could Live?

This post was a guest post I did for another travel blogger’s site, but I liked it so much I decided to put it up here too! 😉

When you get back home from a big adventure abroad, everyone always asks you, “What was your favorite place?” As a traveler, you and I both know this is an unanswerable question. I’d always say things like, “I like this place best for this… this one for this…” Or, “This place was most beautiful… this place was most fun,” to deflect questions like this. I almost feel guilty saying one spot is better than another, so before I dive in, let me say that all of Europe (my most recent trip) is exquisite. The food, culture, architecture, and history make it a unique and special continent. However, one country in particular that stood out to me was France, and this is because of many reasons.

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Breakfast at home

I was lucky. I got to experience the fast-paced, city-life of France, and the slow countryside, both as a tourist and as a local. I went to Paris when I was backpacking; I stayed in an outdoor community of artists and actors and slept in a tent in the dead center of the city. I got breakfast in a café, and watched people working and bustling to their destinations, Although Paris is a city; it’s different from an American city. People still take their time, are extremely friendly and respectful, and every building is so architecturally unique and detailed that you think it must be a palace before you look closer and find out it’s a McDonald’s. I loved Paris. I could picture myself working there and grabbing a morning coffee and pastry while on the job. There is no shortage of things to do in Paris, whether you like the arts, history, sports, fashion, entertainment, or natural outdoor beauty. This city has it all.

On the flipside, I was also extremely lucky to spend a weekend with some family in the rural commune of Touffailles in Southern France. If you are ever in Southern France or want to experience the slow, countryside-feel of France, I cannot recommend this place enough. I grocery shopped at a market with local vendors selling their fresh catches of seafood and homegrown melons and vegetables. I went to small cafes sprinkled alongside cobblestone paths. I hiked up tall hills that overlooked neighboring towns and communes. The unique thing about this area is that it was occupied centuries ago, so almost all of the towns are built on tops of hills because in ancient times they needed to be built high in order to ward off and better defend against attacking intruders. History is everywhere here. My first day there I got a coffee and scone at a café, that was placed casually in the same plaza as an 11th century abbey. Wow. Drinking my coffee I got to go into the abbey and see antiquated stained-glass windows and gold decorations. I remember thinking; I could totally live like this. Walk down the hill to the town’s bakery every morning, say hello to neighbors in the close knit community where everyone knows everyone, go to the market at noon, spend my Tuesday evenings eating snails and duck, drinking local sweet white wine, and dancing at the Marché Gourmands in the Lauzerte square.

Many people in France have an apartment in Paris, where they spend Monday through Friday, working and living in the real life. And then they also have a family home in the countryside where they spend leisurely weekends basking in the sun and dining out. Well, that’s pretty much my dream! I loved every city I went to in Europe, but I’ve got to say, the French really know what they’re doing.

Touffailles, France – and Why You Need to Go There

I arrived in Touffailles from Valencia, Spain. There is a bus line, train, and airport as modes of transportation to Toulouse, which is a city near Touffailles. From Spain you can easily get there from Valencia or Barcelona. Touffailles gave me a glimpse of the quaint, historical, flourishing land of French countryside. Before, my only experience had been the bustling tourist destination of Paris. Touffailles is an entirely different world. If you enjoy rustic buildings, old architecture, slow village life, and gorgeous natural scenery (with plenty of open land) Touffailles is the spot for you. Upon arrival I ate at a café—enjoying cheap but strong coffee and yet another delectable unpronounceable chocolate pastry—in a square closed in by an 11th century abbey. After breakfast, I ventured inside the church; its foundations were built in 600 A.D. and painted walls and arched ceilings were added in the 1000’s. The inside of the church sparkled with high stained glass windows and the walls shone uniquely of hand-painted gold and red that stretched all the way to the arched ceilings. After leaving the square I resided in my B&B for the next three days (relatives!), which is settled in a small village that is surrounded by blooming green hills and colorful flowers. The old houses in this area were the real treat. Rustic and beautiful, my room over looked the village, equipped with chapels, old churches, and homes sprinkled between the hills. So far, I’m loving Touffailles.

My first night in southern France I spent at a weekly evening Marché Gourmand in a square in Lauzerte. There, I enjoyed curried sausage, a local beer mixed with lemonade, and my first ever snail! Drenched in garlic—they’re not half bad. There was live music, dancing, and local vendors selling a variety of dishes. French chips (French fries) are delicious and so are their crepes; I had a Nutella one for dessert. Around the square you can take in the views of Lauzerte below you. Many towns are atop hills like this because in the ancient world they were built up high for protection. A particularly good locally grown wine was the Château d’ Aix Rosé. This square hosts these evenings every Thursday during the months of July and August.

On the second day I enjoyed yet another beautiful view of the French southern countryside atop a hill in Tournon-d’Agenais. In this area you will find many war memorials, churches, and breath-taking scenery.

Sitting outside looking down the rolling hills on which this small village is perched, surrounded by vibrant flowers and their accompanying butterflies and bees, one cannot help but be inspired. Touffailles is an undiscovered gem of the world.