Tag Archives: hiking

hiking zion canyon

Foodie Versus Fitness Adventures in Utah

Where was I last week?

James and I were hiking the national and state parks of southern Utah, namely Zion and Bryce Canyons. My favorite hike by far was through Kolob Canyon, part of Zion. I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones.

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The landscape at Bryce Canyon was incredibly different. There were valleys and valleys full of rock formations called Hoodoos.

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Each day we hiked about 8 to 15 miles, and each day we packed a lunch to enjoy on a rock. Then we’d head to an easy dinner joint for a little indulgence. Being a foodie, I usually like to try as many new local restaurants as I can while on vacation. But, this time, I was dieing to go back to the same place twice: River Rock Roasting Company.

Primarily a coffee shop with a great view, the River Rock Roasting Company makes a killer veggie sandwich complete with avocado, tomato, red onion, cucumber, sprouts, lettuce and vegetable cream cheese. Add a little salty crunch from a pickle or a kettle cooked potato chip and you’ve got a wham bam dinner.

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Not only was their food great, but we found ourselves there in the morning ordering coffee…

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No worries – I didn’t let the foodie side win on this trip. We definitely worked hard for all the food and booze. Many of the hiking paths had fairly easy terrain through narrow canyons.

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But, there were also many rocks to climb over, under and around.

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Hiking boots were an absolute must on this trip. I’m so glad we did our research and made the investment, or I think we would have had extremely sore legs and feet.

So, lets get back to food, because it’s pretty much all I can ever think about. James and I hiked many miles in silence enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. Every once in a while, James would turn back and ask what I was thinking about. Most of the time my response was NOTHING. And, I really meant it. I can do and try to do that when I go on vacations like these. I try to just be present in the moment and leave all life’s SH** at the start of the trail.

There were other times; however, when my response would be SANDWICHES or LUNCH. I always looked forward to our daily lunch and snack breaks – a moment to re-fuel and re-energize. We made a lot of forest friends during these breaks. The squirrels and chipmunks in Utah have no shame – they want your food and they want it now. So, we shared.

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For James, lunch was always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For myself, it was mostly crackers and cheese, beef jerky, an apple or an orange and some snap peas. Snack time usually consisted of a handful of nuts or a Kind bar (the bars involving dark chocolate are the best).

We had a few more dinners that were a little more epic than those lunches or the veggie sandwich and worth sharing. These included a sushi night.

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And, a Mexican night. I don’t even remember what this dish was called, but it was fantastic. With salsa verde, this was easily one of the best dinners James and I have ever had. I know that because we didn’t speak a word to each other until our bellies were full and the food was almost gone.

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Of course all of these fabulous dinners were followed by dessert.  Yes, I had ice cream every night ok. I’m not proud of it, but just take another look at the landscape we hiked. We earned it.

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Ok, we didn’t climb up that, but we climbed for miles and miles around these hills to get to the top of them.

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Our longest and most strenuous hike was to see the beautiful Kolob Arch. Along the way, other hikers kept telling us it really wasn’t worth the trek, but I was pretty awed by it.

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I was also pretty wowed by the color on the rocks. This one cave in particular looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.

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While it was hard not to spend every day out on the beautiful trails, we knew we needed to let our bodies relax. So we spent one morning lounging along the side of the lake in Sand Hollow State Park, and then another day at the spa.

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After a week of hiking bliss and foodie indulgences, if there’s any advice I can give, it’s never ever forget your rain pants.

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Ok, but seriously the weather is a little wonky in southern Utah. It will be sunny and 75 one minute and the next thing you know it’s raining. The rain doesn’t last long at all – certainly not long enough to ruin a hike – but it does sneak up on you.

Foodie vs Fitness on Thanksgiving

Hi friends! I’m sorry I’ve been missing for a few days, but I really needed a vacation. And, vacation for me means no computer and no phone. I just loved soaking up some time with friends, family and food of course.

The holidays are always most difficult for those of us who absolutely adore food. And fitness. Since I worry about the balance for 364 days of the year, I try to allow Thanksgiving to be the one day where “calories don’t count,” “sugar is good,” and “extra sour cream is divine,” but it’s still hard to change this mindset.

James and I spend Thanksgiving with hisIMG_1590 family, and his mom always prepares a wonderful spread. Knowing what we were getting into, James and I started the day with a three mile run. It was an especially good run for me because I had to push myself to run faster than I usually do in order to keep up with James (although I was still a good 1000 feet behind him the whole way). I’d like to try the Columbus or Cleveland Turkey Trot next year, so I joked about this being our own trot. If the Turkey Trot is a tradition for you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

As soon as we got back from our run, we immediately killed the fitness buzz and started Thanksgiving with mimosas.

Wonderful smells began to fill the house – smells of turkey, beef tenderloin, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, mushroom ragout, sweet potato souffle, and on and on. The spread in this household never ends.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of turkey. But, the turkey this year; however it was made, was spot on. It was so moist and had the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors. All I know is that it was made with a bottle of champagne and aromatics (instead of stuffing)… and caused a fire in the oven. Still, I hope this turkey can be replicated in the years to come.

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After salivating while waiting in line to fill my plate, I tried to behave and just take a little scoop of everything. Enough to get a taste. The only dish I took an extra large scoop of was the sweet potato souffle. In years past, this has been my absolute favorite side dish, complete with pecans and brown sugar. So excited, I dove right into the souffle first thing when I sat down, only to make a yowza! face and push the rest to the side. I couldn’t believe how much my tastebuds have changed since cutting back on sugar – what was once my favorite side dish was now too sweet to finish.

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I couldn’t help but laugh at the comparison between my plate and James. He loves his mama’s cookin’!

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We spent the rest of the day enjoying the company of family and friends, watching football, drinking wine and coffee, and playing card games. At about 10:30, the leftovers came out and we all filled ourselves on a second round of Thanksgiving dinner. At this point, I tried to limit myself to my favorites from earlier in the day: the turkey that I raved about (of course), corn pudding, and mashed potatoes topped with mushroom ragout.

With the foodie obviously winning out on Thanksgiving, James and I spent the following day devoted to fitness, hiking around Hocking Hills State Park. James spent much of his childhood splashing around the streams and climbing on the rocks in these parks, so I was really looking forward to finally getting to share these parks with him.

It didn’t matter that we went late in the fall season, the weather was absolutely perfect and the forest was still green because of all the coniferous trees. We started our day at Old Man’s Cave.

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It was almost movie-like – Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia style. There were tons of little nooks and crannies and tunnels that any child (or adult!) could spend hours playing in.

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Within the first five minutes of our hike, James rolled his ankle and stepped in dog poo, so his smile in this photo just might be a fake one!

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But, after some more exploring and stumbling upon some really neat sights, we thoroughly enjoyed our day of hiking. One of my favorite parts of Old Man’s cave was the Devil’s Bathtub. The sandstone in this part of the stream is more “cemented” together than other parts, so the water has nowhere to go but down. Legend says it goes all the way down to hell itself, which is why it got the name Devil’s Bathtub.

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By the time we made it to the lower falls from the upper falls, thoughts of swollen and ankles and dog poo were long gone.

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Next stop was Ash Cave. I’ve never been at a park so loud! The sounds of joyful children running around, playing in the sand and jumping in puddles reverberated off the giant cave wall. I would love to revisit this park on a quieter day to really enjoy the beauty of it.

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Next up was Conkle’s Hollow. This was by far my favorite park; although, for some reason I don’t have many pictures of it. I think because this was the park with the fewest people and the best overlook views, that I just shut down the electronics and enjoyed the nature.

Before heading home, we stopped at one last park – the Rock House – and climbed through some caves.

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Throughout the day we kept up our energy by drinking plenty of water and eating some delicious snacks, like this 180 Trail Mix Crunch (so, so good!). The Cranberry Pomegranate flavor was dee-lish and the Blueberry must have been even better because James didn’t even want to trade a bite with me!

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By the time we got home, we were wiped and ready to melt into the couch with margaritas. James’ mom made some absolutely fabulous veggie pizza with cauliflower crust. I’m going to attempt to replicate this when I get home because we loved it so much; however, she’s such a good cook, I’m not sure if that will be possible. I’ll definitely share it with you if it turns out well.

So, at the end of two days, I was able to find balance between my two loves: food and fitness. This mini-vacation is off to a good start!

How was your Thanksgiving?