August 27, 2018
The Ultimate 4-Day Road Trip Through Arizona and Utah

The Ultimate 4-Day Road Trip Through Arizona and Utah

August 27, 2018

For my bachelorette party, I knew I wanted to make it a girls trip. Many different destinations were thrown around like Amsterdam and Iceland, but most got axed due to travel time since one of my bridesmaids would be traveling from Maui. I have always wanted to visit Utah and I love hiking, so I suggested to the girls a road trip through Utah and Arizona. It's not your usual "bachelorette trip", but it's my kind of trip and luckily for me, my girl friends felt the same way. We all agreed on a date and I immediately started planning. That's right, I planned my own bachelorette trip... is anyone really surprised? The good thing about this road trip is that besides the long first day, we didn't have to drive longer than two to three hours to our next destination after that. The drive was also really scenic which helped pass the time. I guess we all didn't really think about how hot it would be in Utah and Arizona in August, but it was manageable and didn't effect the trip at all. It's over 100 degrees and super humid in Houston on a daily basis in the summertime, and we used that to our advantage. This road trip was just what I wanted and needed and was the perfect "Bachelorette Road Trip".       

Back in 2015, I posted my United States Bucket List and as you can see, I got to cross a few places off my list!      

DAY ONE

Monument Valley, Utah

This was our longest drive of the trip. I figured we would rather drive 6.5 hours on our first day than try to make that drive on our last. Since we would literally drive pass all the same towns and landmarks on our way back, we only stopped for gas and to eat to ensure we would make it to Monument Valley before sunset. Monument Valley is remote. You really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, and it's awesome. Monument Valley straddles the Arizona/Utah border... Forrest Gump Point (the picture below) is in Utah, and the visitors center, where you can photograph the "mittens", is in Arizona. While you can book many different types of tours in the area, we only went to the valley to sight-see and of course, take tons of pictures. It's definitely a drive but definitely worth the trip! One of highlights of day one, or should I say night one, was getting to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. When Lyndon and I went to Africa in December, I told Lyndon that I really wanted to see the Milky Way. I dragged my tripod across the Atlantic just so I could photograph it. Unfortunately for me, the Milky Way was not over Zimbabwe at that time, but I did get to see a sky full of bright stars which was still awesome.           

Drive Time:  Las Vegas to Monument Valley - 6.5 hours
Airbnb:  Dream Catcher Home (to save $40 off your first Airbnb, click here)


DAY TWO

Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend (Page, Arizona)

The first thing we did after finalizing our dates was book our Antelope Canyon tour. You can only visit Antelope Canyon on a Navajo guided tour and they book up fast, especially in the summertime. Not only do summer tours book up fast, but mid-day tours go even faster since that is when you can photograph the sunbeams. When I threw out some dates to the group, it was based on what dates in the summer still had mid-day tours were available. That's how bad I wanted to witness the photographic wonder. It was a short (and bumpy) drive from the tour office to the slot canyons, and the tour was about 1.5 hours long. Our guide was amazing and not only did he show us all the great angles in the canyon for the perfect shot, but he also suggest a great lunch spot in Page. It's funny cause all the pictures I have, and most of the ones you see on Instagram, are sans people. But in reality, it's tour group after tour group in the narrow canyon. All the different tour companies really do a great job separating all the groups, so everyone has the same opportunity in getting the best photographs.

After lunch, we drove down the road to Horseshoe Bend. It was around 2 PM when we arrived at the parking lot, and we found a spot fairly quickly. To say it was hot would be an understatement. There's no shade and you're walking on sand most of the time. This "hike" is short but remember to bring water with you. Horseshoe Bend is way bigger in person than in pictures so if you have a wide lens (or a GoPro), definitely bring that. The good news about going during the hottest part of the day is no shadows. If you go mid-morning or later in the afternoon, you will see harsh shadows in your photograph. Since it was so hot, we stayed long enough to take a snap a few photographs and then we started making our way to our Utah Airbnb.      

Drive Time:  Monument Valley to Page - 2 hours // Page to Utah Airbnb - 2 hours
Airbnb:  Zion/Bryce - Luxury Mountain Home (to save $40 off your first Airbnb, click here)


DAY THREE

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

This was our shortest driving day, which was a great thing since it was also our longest hiking day. We got to Bryce Canyon National Park fairly early in the morning and even though we didn't find parking in the lot we wanted, we found a spot easily in the next lot. We hiked our way down into the canyon, took lots of pictures, and then made the grueling hike back up. Most hikes, you make your way up to an observation point or similar and then after you're all tired, you make the easy hike back down. Bryce Canyon is the complete opposite and it kicked my butt. After our morning hike, we stopped for a buffet lunch and some gift shop shopping. After recharging and refueling our bodies, we went back out and hiked another trail. This time, we knew what to expect and picked a fairly shaded trail to hike back up. Bryce Canyon is so unique. The moment I saw it, I was amazed. I also felt like it was easier to get around in Bryce Canyon. You didn't have to take any shuttles and you can pretty much start hiking anywhere. I definitely want to go back one day, next time with Lyndon and Aiden.    

Drive Time: Utah Airbnb to Bryce Canyon National Park: 50 minutes
Airbnb:  Zion/Bryce - Luxury Mountain Home (to save $40 off your first Airbnb, click here)


DAY FOUR

Zion National Park, Utah

This was our last full day on the "Bachelorette Road Trip". Since we had to get to Vegas by dinnertime and Zion Nation Park is about 3 hours away from Vegas, we didn't have much time to hike. Zion is gorgeous, but also so crowded. We had to park right outside the park entrance and walk to the visitor center. From there, we had to wait in a Disneyland long line for the shuttle bus. During the summer, you can only get around Zion via shuttle. There are some parking along the road within the park, but to get to all the famous hikes, you are at the mercy of the shuttle bus. Since Zion National Park experienced some abnormally heavy rain just before we got there, a lot of hikes where closed to unpredictable erosion. The famous Angel's Landing hike was closed, and a few others trails as well. If you have never heard of Angel's Landing, google it and you will see why I wasn't sad at all to hear that bit of news. Two of the girls on the road trip have hiked Angel's Landing before (one of them hiked it twice), and they are much braver than me. After hiking two short trails and eating lunch in town, we started making our way back to Viva Las Vegas.      

Drive Time: Utah Airbnb to Zion National Park - 1 hour // Zion National Park to Las Vegas - 2.5 hours
Hotel:  Wynn Las Vegas


We started and ended our road trip in Las Vegas. For us, it was the easiest (and cheapest) option. You can fly in and out of St. George, but it is more expensive but definitely closer. We spent our last night in Vegas at the Wynn, but if you want to cut the trip short by a day, you can definitely fly back that evening instead of the next day like we did. While this is what we did on the "Bachelorette Road Trip", there are so many options to make this trip cater to your needs. You can take out Antelope Canyon and add in the Grand Canyon. You can extend the trip a little bit and add in Canyonlands National Park. There are so many national parks in this area, it's unfair. Hopefully, this will give you a good starting point in planning your ultimate road trip!       


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July 11, 2018
Photo Dairy: Africa in Black and White

Photo Dairy: Africa in Black and White

July 11, 2018

When I think of Africa, I think about vibrant colors and a contagious energy. Their sunsets are bright orange, their textiles showcase the rainbow, and their hospitality is above and beyond. What makes Africa so unique to the rest of the world is their amazing wildlife. Giraffes with their long necks, cheetahs with their spots, and zebras with their beautiful stripes to name just a few. I love photographing landscapes and architecture, but while in Africa I had fun capturing all the unpredictable animals. We would watch a herd of elephants for an hour, and they would entertain us the entire time. Every second, an animal seems to be doing something different (except for lions, they tend to nap a lot), so I took a lot of photographs... over 5,000 a lot.  

While I have my editing routine in Lightroom, I wanted to mix things up a bit for this post. Goodbye vibrance, hello monochrome. I usually never edit in black and white, but it was fun seeing how dramatic that edit can be especially with my elephant and zebra photographs. I mean they are already monochromatic, right? 

My favorite would have to be the first elephant photograph below. I want to have it printed on a large canvas and hung above my computer. What are your thoughts on black and white photography? Do you prefer colorful photographs or something more simple and dramatic?      


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May 15, 2018
The Colorful Streets of Bo-Kaap // Cape Town, South Africa

The Colorful Streets of Bo-Kaap // Cape Town, South Africa

May 15, 2018

From the pastel-hued townhouses of Notting Hill to the colorful island of Burano, I'm a sucker for all things color. Bo-Kaap is a neighborhood less than two miles away from the coast that adds a little something extra to an already beautiful Cape Town. Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, is known for its bright colored houses and cobble stoned roads but before all the color, all the homes in the area were painted white. Bo-Kaap dates back to the 1760's when rental houses were built and leased to slaves. These people came from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape and were known as Cape Malays. 

While these houses were being leased to the Cape Malays, they had to remain white. When slaves were eventually allowed to buy and own property, the rule was lifted and all the houses were painted bright colors by their owners to express their freedom. Bo-Kaap is also home to South Africa's oldest Muslim mosque. The Auwal Mosque began construction in 1794, but Muslims were not allowed to worship in public until 1804. Besides being easy on the eyes, Bo-Kaap is also rich in history. The Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in Bo-Kaap's culture and learn more about the Cape Malays and their history.  

Bo-Kaap is also home to cute boutiques, jewelry and diamond stores, and some great Cape Malay cuisine. It's a great daytime destination while in Cape Town and walking distance from City Centre and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. After spending the morning in Bo-Kaap, Lyndon and I walked over to the Watershed to do some shopping and the walk was about 30 minutes which wasn't bad at all. Some parts of the walk wasn't exactly pedestrian friendly, but we made it even in the summer heat.

When in Cape Town, I highly recommend making a quick stop in Bo-Kaap and walking around their colorful streets. The neighborhood is fairly small and you can spend as much or as little time there as you want. While you can explore Bo-Kaap anytime during the day, I would try to void walking around at night or exercise caution when doing so... plus you can't see the fun colors in the dark!     
                

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