Grand Canyon: Bright Angel’s in 1 day

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A spontaneous mid-November 3 day trip, for my 25th birthday, to the Grand Canyon led us on a wonderful and unexpected adventure! From motels & camping in hailstorms to Vegas & local state parks, it was an eventful journey to say the least.

From San Diego we drove via the southern route to Flagstaff and then Grand Canyon. While coming back home, we beat the vacation-end blues by driving via Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. Note to self: always make a loop on road trips if possible, it makes an otherwise uneventful drive through the desert fresh and keeps your eyes peeled for new sights! Also stops you from driving with your eyes closed…

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The best thing about road tripping is, despite long periods of driving, you have the comfort of your own car (pile of pillows please) and you can make stops at locations along the way that you likely wouldn’t normally make a special trip for. One of my favorite things about road tripping is having a chance to use that time to catch up on new music or podcasts or even water-coloring. (See the portable tools I use here). I personally can’t read books, though I would love to, since I get car sick.

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is along the way if you’re coming from the southern route. A collection of over 800 carvings and drawings on basalt boulders by prehistoric dwellers.

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It’s relatively small with an honor system for the $2 park fee but taking in the desolate location in the desert landscape, with all the saguaro cacti along the way, and imagining our prehistoric ancestors carve drawings of animals and people onto these rocks is pretty cool and worth maintaining. It’s honestly underwhelming in appearance, but amazing in context.

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We continued our drive to Flagstaff, planning to crash there as it’s the main city near the 64 that leads to the Grand Canyon, if you are exploring the South Rim. It’s along the Historic Route 66 but arriving at night, we didn’t see anything too intriguing in the sleepy roadtrip-stopover town. After a night in a Flagstaff Inn, we drove into the Grand Canyon village early morning and began the hike for the Bright Angel’s trail. If you have faith in your hiking abilities and don’t feel like you will need that long… you will. So START EARLY.

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The crisp morning was around 30*F and my perpetually cold self wore a lot of layers. Regrets as I removed practically all of them within an hour of hiking 😛

And even if you REALLY are confident, if nothing, go early as possible for the beautiful vistas that the morning light tickles out of the canyon; a photographer’s delight.

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Several miles left to go but already in awe

Spent a good amount of the beginning of the hike stopping often to take irresistible shots of the spectacular canyon. With only 1 day to hike back up and camp at the Mather campgrounds, we only hiked down to Plateau Point. This journey is nonetheless a whopping 12mi roundtrip with an overall elevation drop of 2968ft (Remember you will be hiking the second half entirely uphill. Obviously…).

Being lazy about working out, but lucky enough to be young, I was able to conquer the trail. However, I desperately wish I had prepared for the hike with a few mild hikes even. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention I was ready to give up on the way back if not for my partner. My legs were jello and the downhill first half had definitely strained my ankles and calves, causing me to inadvertently put pressure on different parts of my body. tldr: get a tad in shape before going.

In the morning, the trail is frequented by mule tour groups that cheerfully wave past you. Not only does this remind you that you you are stuck hiking this on foot, but the mules also shit anywhere AND everywhere. Keeps you awake I suppose…

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Some options for various hiking levels:

  • the family groups generally went to the 1st and 2nd tunnels, took some photos with the backdrop and headed back, likely to check out rim walk or drive to other sides of the canyon. If I had more time I would definitely drive over 2.5hrs to Horseshoe Bend.
  • If your group is capable of mild physical activity issues the best spot would be up until the 1.5mi rest stop.
  • After this there are rest stops at 2mi, 3mi, and 4.5mi with the trail ending at a gorgeous view at Plateau Point at 6mi.

At 4.5mi, the lush Indian Garden campground has public restrooms and is a complete change of atmosphere from the dry, layered sandstone and gravel just prior. You are deep within the canyon (even though it’s technically only halfway down, crazy!) where there is a good amount of water flow and tons of shade! The weather is quite different as it’s cooler on a hot day but warmer on a windy day, shielded by canyon walls on both sides. Look out for cute mule deers 🙂 I found myself wondering from their huge size and grey color whether these were just white tailed deer that just change color. NOPE, they are a different type of deer generally found in the Rockies.

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The Indian garden area, as well as the plateau, was previously inhabited by Havasupai Native Americans who lived there until Teddy Roosevelt kicked them out for the National Park Service. They used the upper portion of the trail for access to water and later the trail was extended to join the Colorado River. After many legal battles, the tribe has received a small portion of land back which has become a popular tourist destination in itself. Hopefully I get to go soon to see the Havasupai and Mooney falls located in side canyons on the South rim (hiking on Havasupai land needs tour group registration or prior booking of permits).

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plateau point – grand canyon

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View of THE grandest canyon from Plateau Point on the Bright Angel’s trail. The trail is grueling if you’re not in great shape but the spectacular view is well worth it. Trust me, I almost gave up!

jack russell watercolor exploration

Art & Wrk, Make

This one was my attempt at a unique subject for a friend’s birthday, a friend obsessed with jack russell terriers. The dogs themselves have definitely grown on me with their little muscular limb but strong, energetic personalities. A bad ass terrier listening to a bad ass record.

Watercolors Starters!

Art & Wrk, Make

As I began experimenting with watercolors for the first time since playing around with it in grade school, I decided to follow the experts and start with the basics. I often get excited by new hobbies and drop them off in the middle. Though I really didn’t want this to be one of them, I decided to invest in low/mid range palette rather than go all out at the beginning.

After checking out reviews, I settled on the Angora palette with 24 colors pan set at about $18. It gave me the diversity of colors and as a beginner, I feel like you need to focus less on blending new colors than on technique. The colors are pretty pigmented for the price range as you can see below. I think the only ones you really lose out on pigment are the reds. You have to layer a lot of concentrated color and even then sometimes see a line of separation which you don’t see as much in the cool colors.

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As for brushes I really used basic ones from Michaels and Blick’s including brands Loew-Cornell, Fine Art and Princeton Art & Brush Co. I prefer the latter two in this price range as you can try out which brush types your work prefers through an affordable variety pack without sacrificing all quality. The Loew-Cornell were fine at the beginning but for detailed works I felt the brushes do not maintain their structure for as long.

not quitting my job to travel

travel

I love reading travel bloggers and this is a calling to the rest of us travel lovers, who love to follow you, to come and apply it to our own lives in a practical way. In fact, I hope to make this an independent woman lifestyle blog for us “millennials”

As a travel lover, you can imagine I consume a not-so-healthy dose of Pinterest, blogs, Instagrams, etc of adventurers living the dream! After lusting through yet another blog filled with Insta-perfect dragonfruit bowls in an exotic Asian country and wishing I was a travel blogger, it finally clicked. I can have this dream but it doesn’t need to BE my life.

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I don’t want to survive on a living. I want to live. I love that a vacation for me is a chance to get away and for a tiny bit live in a fantasy world, learn from those with lives different from our own. I realized I wouldn’t appreciate the travel as much if I were doing it continuously, while working. What we don’t see through our rose-tinted social media glasses is the laptop and cell phone in hand at all times.

I don’t want that and chances are, if you’re still reading, neither do you. I want to roll in the sand, snorkel, make friends with locals into the wee hours of the night, and not worry about uploading a travel guide in my free time or getting sand into the keyboard of my precious Macbook!! It’s not as peaceful and relaxing as a good photographer makes it look

I am a 20-something that is trying to figure out what to do with her life. I work a full-time job in biotechnology in San Diego and yet my friends, family and social media peers ask me tips on the travels I have been on. I always laughed it off as a (ridiculous) compliment because I have hardly covered all that I want to on my bucket list so I never saw myself as a traveler, let alone an expert to give someone else advice! But talking to other people I saw that I’ve done by best to squeeze in travel whenever I can and how that is SUCH a privilege. It doesn’t have to be out of reach for others!

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As cheesy as this is, I realized I can share this life experience with others. I don’t know how to pack up my belongings in a few suitcases and leave to travel for a whole freaking year with no plan. But I do know how to manage my finances practically and save enough each month to comfortably take a few trips a year! I am not (yet) a master watercolorist that can make illustrating into a business but I know how important maintaining a good hobby is for a modern, independent woman (or man). I may not own my own business but I am constantly on the hunt for, and great at finding, inspiration from empowered people who can show me how to improve.

We are all going along in this life working on some aspect of ourselves, even those who seem like experts. SO I hope to meet some likeminded people through this blog!