Where Two Go Next?

part blog and part travel journal

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Travel Interrupted

A good travel day is an uneventful one. Unless your flight is seriously oversold and Delta is offering $400 bucks for volunteers. And then, wellllll heyyyyy … What’s a couple extra hours at Hartsfield, and flying into La Guardian instead of JFK, and oh wait, how will we get our checked bags? Whatever. We’ll figure that out.

Yes, we can be bought.

I’m already on my Kayak app checking flights to Brian Head for our spring break ski trip:

Mia is excited to eat at PF Chang’s at the airport

And Matt gets a cold Sweetwater.

It’s a win-win-win. Cheers!!!!!!!

Location:Hartsfield Jackson Airport

Location:Hartsfield Jackson Airport

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To do list for New York

By: April

T minus one day until we see the Fortunes!

The (only) good thing about living 2000+ miles from your best friend, is that it makes your time together very precious. Jana and I have been known to fall asleep mid-sentence huddled under blankets on the couch, feet touching in the middle, talking until the early hours because we’re trying to pack as many minutes as possible into our time together.

And sure, there’s a few other things to be excited about:

(1) being in New York City where Thanksgiving and Christmas co-mingle into a single frenzied holiday that PEAKS with the Macy’s Day Parade, where Jana and I will be balloon holders (maybe we’ll be on TV!)

(2) the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, and too many museums and tours to count

(3) seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, something I’ve always wanted to see and can’t wait to see through Mia’s eyes too

(4) shopping for that special Christmas gift that will whenever we see it we’ll say “remember when we got this in New York with Jana and Sydney and Shelby”

(5) Pizza. And all over the other “only in New York” food delicacies that await.

(6) going for a run in Central Park.

At the end of the week, maybe I’ll rank these things, along with the other experiences that pop up, starting with #2. Because Jana’s got #1 all locked in.

It’s worth mentioning that Matt is looking forward to hanging out with Scott, and Mia is counting the minutes until her Triple Trouble reunion with Sydney and Shelby. Don’t get me wrong, I’d drag M & M kicking and screaming to this Fortune love-fest-meets-vacation. Or I’d leave them at home and go by myself.

But I don’t have to. Because the people I love most in this world love each other too.

Location:At home in Atlanta

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A different perspective

After a few minutes in the car, we were warm enough for one last hike on the way out. We took the aptly named Canyon Overlook Hike on east side of Zion canyon, thats the backside of the Great White Throne in the center.

We sent our scout up ahead to see if we were on the right track…

And alas, we were! Here’s our self portrait overlooking Pine Canyon.

It was a flat, easy hike, but the path was still close enough to the edge to warrant respect. We took a few pictures trying to give this place some scale. Here Matt zoomed in on us from across a bend in the canyon,

and then I zoomed in on him for this shot,

But when I pan back, it’s easy to lose him.

When I was little, my mom gave me a Readers Digest book called Our National Parks. I knew every page of that book, and it is the earliest memory I have of wanting to travel.

Zion met every expectation during our brief visit. So rugged, and beautiful, and quiet. I will come back here one day, I’m sure of it. Maybe with the Fortune Four :)

Location:Canyon Overlook Hike, Zion National Park UT

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The road (to Brian Head) less traveled

There are 2 routes to Brian Head from Zion, the shorter is to backtrack to I-15 and blah blah blah …

OR you can take the scenic switchbacks of Zion-Mt Carmel Highway along the eastern edge of the park,

past the famous Great Arch and through a narrow tunnel cut into a mile and a half of solid rock,

winding downhill past more beautiful rock formations,

and the ‘Checkerboard Mesa’,

before turning North on US 9 in a valley surrounded by National Parks- we saw Grand Staircase in the distance to the East, before heading West onto a remote forest service road into Dixie National Park, excited to see a little snow and watchful for the Squatch we were sure was nearby

and as we started to climb in elevation, the temperature was dropping quickly and there was some more snow

and then more elevation and more snow … so we put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive - mainly for fun,

until we reached the summit and realized how glad we were that Hertz didn’t give us the Chevy Malibu we reserved,

and also glad there were snow markers to help us find the road,

and that the speed limit sign wasn’t totally buried,

until finally we arrived!

I think Brian Head missed the memo about the lack of snow this season.

Location:Mt Carmel - Alton - Duck Creek Village, UT

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Angel’s Landing - Solo Ascent

Matt here. Let me preface my comments by clarifying how the decision was made to hike Angel’s Landing. We spent the morning reading the descriptions of the hikes on the park maps and the Internet. Most articles noted that the hike is strenuous and not for those prone to vertigo, afraid of heights, for young children, the elderly, those with history of heart conditions, high blood pressure, scurvy, rickets etc.

Despite the fact that there were more warnings than an Abilify commercial I figured they had to overstate the danger to scare off the “Sunday hikers”. Now I’m a live free or die type but I was astonished that the final half mile of the hike was available to anyone who could, well “get there”. Not shut down due to weather, no waivers to sign, no minimum age, no sign with a picture of a park ranger saying “You Must Be This Tall To Take Your Life Into Your Own Hands”. Nope, use your best judgement, hang onto the chains, don’t fall, and enjoy the view.

With that being said I left April and Mia And set out on the rest of the hike. The chains shown above marked the trail to the top. The weather had cleared and the views were amazing.

It’s hard to give the pictures scale but the below is looking over the edge of the cliff. The grey rock at the bottom of the picture is about two feet infront of where I was standing with the road winding through the canyon below.

After reaching the top, many of my fellow hikers offered to snap a couple of shots of your humble narrator.

Me and the big white chair…ok, “The Great White Throne” in the background.

The real kicker is that going down is harder than going up. With my knees reminding me of each second of my near 43 years above ground I made my way down the same route that took me to the top. By this time i made it back to April and Mia it had begun raining/sleeting again. We hit the weather window perfectly for our time at the top but faced a rainy, 2 miles to the bottom. We made our round trip journey in 3 1/2 hours and were happy to see our rental Jeep…happier still when the heater warmed up.

Location:Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park UT

Location:Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park UT

Filed under Zion hike

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Hiking Zion

A storm moved in overnight - it was 20 degrees cooler than yesterday and raining. We killed some time tripping around town, got coffee, bought $4 ponchos (we packed very poorly for this trip) and finally set out.

Zion has some amazing hikes, the most famous of which is ‘The Narrows’. I’ve been wanting to hike the Narrows since seeing the Fortune’s pictures from their Zion trip - wading up narrow river passages carved between high canyon walls. But this time of year you have to rent wetsuits and booties to brave the cold water. (and that’s where they lost me … At “cold”)

So we chose another “must-do” hike, to the top of the cliff behind us, called ‘Angel’s Landing’. Turned out we started our hike at the best part of the day, it was still cool but the clouds were clearing and the sky was turning blue. For the time being anyway ….

The hike started with a bridge over the Virgin River and along a flat path for a mile or so, but then you hit a steady climb along a winding path at the base of the rock.

Next you cross ‘refrigerator canyon’ where it’s cool and shady along the backside of Angel’s Landing.

And lastly you get to ‘Walter’s Wiggles’, a set of 21 tight man-made switchbacks that allow for the last push up to the ridge. They were named after the first superintendent of Zion who built them … Back in the 1920’s.
Matt and Mia “squiggle the wiggles”

Mia takes a short break in a crack in the rock.

A determined tree growing out the side of a wiggle

The wiggles really weren’t the most strenuous part, but they’re impressive from the top (and there’s the determined tree on the left)

And now we are up on the ridge. The sandstone made natural steps, though a little slippery from the morning rain and the loose sand rubbing loose from the rock. There are chains driven into poles that you hang on to as you climb.

There’s a sheer drop just a foot to your right and we’re already high up …

And there’s a short stretch where there are no chains to hang on to, and I’m terrified every time Mia picks up one of her feet, and fighting some vertigo, and so we sit down for a little rest ….

… And this is where the women turn back and we hand the camera (and the blog) over to Matt as he continues to the summit. :)

Location:Zion National Park, Utah

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Wonder why they call it that?

Checked in at Majestic View Lodge … Just outside Zion National Park.

Here we are crossing the road to wait for the park shuttle … That lasted about 10 minutes before we decided to drive ourselves. (very impatient, Matt and I) Which turned out to be the right call because shuttle service starts tomorrow, April 1, so today is the last day you can drive yourself through Zion Canyon.

The day was glorious, sunny and warm, and we drove along staring up through the open sunroof of the jeep at the high canyon walls.

We stopped for a quick hike to Weeping Rock. Rain water and melting snow seeps through thousands of feet of porous sandstone in the orange/upper cliff, and then moves sideways through the cliff when it hits the dense, grey shale layer in the middle.

You can stand underneath an overhang and watch the constant trickle of cold rain drops.

The whole bottom half of the cliff is wet and feeds hanging gardens and delicate flowers.

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Location:Springdale, Utah

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A glimpse of Sin City

Mia’s first visit to Vegas started around 11pm (2am Atlanta time) as we pulled out of McCarran airport in our nifty 4-door Jeep Wrangler rental. Thank you Hertz for the unexpected upgrade!

Night time is probably the best ‘first glance’ of Vegas. Mia was wide-eyed as we passed the hotels of the strip in the distance. She thought the green-glowing MGM Grand was where the Packers play. We checked into the Renaissance and crashed.

Next morning, a quick poll of the valet staff led us to the Peppermill Diner for breakfast on the way out. There was a pretty long wait, but the country ham was the size of the plate (just like the valet said it would be) Gotta remember this greasy spoon just north of Caesars on S LV Blvd … Might cure what ails you on the next grown-up trip through Sin City.

All in all, 12 hours here and now heading to Zion National Park tomorrow. (about the limit for a 10-year old anyway)

PS from Mia: the onion rings at the Peppermill are great!!

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Location:Las Vegas,United States

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Next Parish over is Boston


The Dingle Penninsula is the westernmost tip of Ireland, of Europe in fact. Rick Steve quips in his book that the next Parish over is Boston…

so we’re up at daybreak, heading out before breakfast to retrace Matt and April’s Tour de Dingle around Slea Head. A little coffee and we’re ready to ride those winding roads. (Mia still in PJs)

The sheep are grazing on the slopes and the tide is coming in.

Spectacular views of the cliffs and the ocean, we pull down to the beach for another of April’s self portraits as she and Matt run toward each other and I’m in the background with Mia collecting sand of the site.

In between Mia looking for snails, it’s cartwheel time ( must be inherited!!) Cartwheels on the side of the slopes…

April and Matt taking pictures in the early morning light

And the next beach is prettier than the last, here come the waves..

No swimming? Really? You don’t think we can swim in this?

We could watch this all morning… But gotta go, pack up, check out and hit the road for Kinsale.

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Location:More Slea Head