Arches, Canyons, and Windows: A Day Crossing Utah

Over the last three days we’ve seen sun, rain, snow, and hail. We’ve driven through mountains, fields, cities, and deserts. On day three we went from Salt Lake City, Utah to Cortez, Colorado. As we drove the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City gave way to red rock canyons and soon we were on our way towards Arches National Park.

On our way to Arches we stopped in Helper, Utah for some gas and to visit an antiques store. My mom found what she wanted, a license plate from Utah, and the man who was at the cash register gave me a old coke bottle that said Salt Lake City on the bottom. After the quick pit stop we were back on our way.

About an hour later the scenery had morphed into beautiful red cliffs and soon we were approaching Arches National Park. Driving up to the massive red wall is intimidating. We were driving narrow roads, climbing and climbing, watching the red ground go on for miles. At the top of the mountain you can pull off and go for hikes though the park. Unfortunately  we didn’t have time for this but we did stop at Park Avenue to walk down the stairs for a look inside a canyon. The tall rocks towered over us. The name fit well. It was the same feeling as in New York. The tall buildings, or rocks, seeming to touch the sky.

After heading up the stairs we made a few other stops at Balanced Rock and on to North and South Window. The loop at North and South Window is worth the drive. You drive by formations that seem to take different shapes each time you look at them. George walked down the path to North and South Window while I stayed and looked around the other side. The park was closing and it was getting dark pretty quickly so we headed back out of the park and on to Moab.

In Moab we grabbed dinner and continued our drive. With the threat of night looming we wanted to get into Colorado before it was too dark. Driving into Colorado was a stark change from the hilly red rocks. It was green, lush, and flat. As we drove the sun set behind us creating spectacular visuals. We headed into our hotel ready to go to bed and prepare to see Four Corners and Glen Canyon Dam.

-Maddy

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Entering the State of Deseret

The second day of the trip involved getting from Idaho to Utah with a cut through Nevada. We made our way south to Salt Lake City driving through some dramatic snowy conditions as we made our way through Nevada. Leaving Idaho the scenery changed, becoming rocky and with less greenery, a sign that we were beginning our journey onto the Colorado Plateau.

The rolling hills and wide farm land of Southern Idaho made for a pleasant mornings drive. Fueled by donuts and waffles we hit the road and made good progress towards Twin Falls. Early on we hit dense fog but luckily this did not last long. Rain interspersed the sunshine something that I am sure we will miss as we make our way south. At Twin Falls we turned south towards Nevada, a longer route to Salt Lake City but we wanted to make a stop at the Salt Flats.

Nevada greeted us with snow which took us by surprise. Naturally we stopped to run around although soon we were cold and ready to keep moving. Other than this Nevada proved to be uneventful. The isolation one can experience whilst driving though such wide open spaces is humbling. Surrounding us loomed mountains and ominous clouds. Nature took control of our experience something that was unsurprising as apart from the road we were on there was little else.

Our first stop immediately inside Utah was the Bonneville Salt Flats. The flats are famous today for the role in facilitating the land speed record attempts. It is not hard to see why when you are there either. Vast does not cover how big the lake beds are. Extending for miles and completely level the Salt Flats are perfect for the fastest cars ever made. The experience was awe-inspiring.

Afterwards we drove into the beautiful Salt Lake City. The city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and sits at the edge of the rather special Great Salt Lake. The first thing we noticed as we drove in was how wide the roads were. This is a result of the clever planning by Mormon pioneers who wanted their roads to be wide enough to turn a horse and cart without unhitching.  The whole city is wide and spacious and proved to be a worthwhile stop on our trip. For dinner we had pizza and after took a walk to see the downtown area. Exhausted, we just about stayed up past nine o’clock. We need the rest, the next few days will be big.

Day two of the trip lived up to the promise of the first day. Once again the scenery and weather surpassed our expectations any monotony was broken by spectacular vistas and mountains. The Salt Flats were worth the extra driving to see, beginning what promises to be a special drive through Utah. From Salt Lake City we look south to canyon country and the deserts of the Southwest. I would also like to take a moment to thank our Airbnb hosts in Salt Lake City who went above and beyond for us. They made our night in the city extra special.

-George

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Road Trips: My Second First Impressions

It is not difficult to see the appeal of a road trip in America once you have been on one. The roads stretch out inviting you to cover great distances. The towns and cities that rely on travellers for their prosperity cater to the constant demands for food, drink, gas, and restrooms from their visitors. I should know about such towns since I lived in Flagstaff for a year. Interstates have fuelled these towns and ruined others. For many having a freeway exit is the difference between boom and bust. As for the travellers, a freeway exit is a chance to pause, to see the world that they are blasting through, and to appreciate the little corner of America that they find themselves in.

This trip is not my first experience with an American road trip. Over the Christmas break I drove with my family and Maddy across the Southwest from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, stopping in San Diego, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. The easiness of the distance which is soaked up by the long and smooth stretches of tarmac was apparent then too. As was the adventure and thrill of arriving in new places and of seeking new things. On that trip we were going for the experience, covering the miles as a means to see the Southwest and to visit the cities it has to offer. This trip is different, tourism for the sake of tourism has been replaced by the need to get to Flagstaff and to Los Angeles. Our trip has a strong sense of purpose.

And what a pleasurable place to have that purpose. To the untrained eye the mountains of Washington might as well have been the Alps. Covered in pine trees and looming large over us they created a visual spectacle that dominated the scenery. Descending down into the rolling hills of eastern Washington vibrant green grass overtook as the predominant scenic attraction. Oregon and Idaho likewise offered fantastic scenery as we carved through hills and rose over them enjoying the vast expanses laid out below. Going over Dead Man’s Pass we drove through a thick snowstorm that reminded us that May is a month and not a description of the weather. We will enjoy it whilst it lasts because tomorrow we head south into Utah and rocks will take over where the greenery leaves off. (Get it?).

So far I have no bad word to say about the road trip experience. Yes you spend hours sitting in a car waiting to be somewhere else. Yes today was only day one and we still have thousands of miles to go. And yes I would be happier if I did not have to listen to The Go Gos again. But these problems are not even problems when you take the experience for what it is. Appreciate the world out of the window as it flashes by and you have already arrived at your destination. With good company the miles are easy and the experience fulfilling. And a Led Zeppelin CD quickly changes the music situation should you need it to.

-George

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The Future of MadelineTravels

I’ve been awful about posting. It’s been almost a year since the last post on here and I do not have an excuse for that. First I’m going to talk about the future of the blog. A quick recap of the last year. Then some words of what’s to come.

There are going to be two changes to this blog. First I’m going to be posting. Hopefully I will come up with some sort of schedule of when posts come out and be able to keep up with that. The other change is that George is going to be posting on here as well. These posts are going to be mainly about our travels but some may be about other topics too. It really depends on what we want to say. This blog will be our space to express ourselves as we travel.

Today I set up a Instagram and a Twitter to post on as well as on here. For now the photos posted will be from the last few months I have been living in LA but soon there will be new photos going up. Following those will be the most current updates about where we are or where we are going.

The other thing I’m hoping for is that anyone who reads this and has questions or wants one of us to talk about something can message us. We can either answer to you directly or write a post about it. We do have an email set up which is madelinetravels@outlook.com feel free to send us any questions you have!

Since our last post George has been living in Flagstaff, Arizona, on his year abroad trying to soak up some American culture. Meanwhile I have been living in Los Angeles trying to be an adult. Both of us have been learning a lot about living independently while learning about our new cities, or in his case, a new country. As I am writing this we are both currently packing up our apartments and are getting ready to head back to Seattle for a bit before heading off on more adventures.

In the next 2 months we’re going to visit about 9 states before heading to Canada to fly to England! George is going home and I’m going with to see more of the UK and hopefully some more of Europe. Posts will be coming both about moving states, A year abroad, planning, and more. Please stay tuned and let us know what you would like to hear about!

 

Maddy and George

 

My First Review

Since this is my first review I guess I should start with something quintessentially American, the hamburger. The restaurant we went to was Cheers. In the heart of Boston Cheers is based on the sitcom and offers a great pub atmosphere with quick and friendly service at a reasonable price. We sat outside which was great as we got to enjoy the cool Boston evening which really added to the atmosphere.

Anyway onto the important stuff, the food. Maddy wanted mozzarella sticks for starters, an inspired choice because they were brilliant. The mozzarella was melted and stringy and went well with the marinara sauce. I am new to mozzarella sticks and was therefore easy to impress but Maddy rated them highly although wants to add that they could have been crispier.

To me the sign of a good burger is that once you pick it up, you can’t put it down without risking it falling apart. It turns a sandwich into a feast and with the right ingredients provides plenty of good flavours and textures. Cheers make a good burger. I ordered the bleu cheese and bacon burger, as a fan of meat and cheese it seemed like an obvious choice. The meat was tender and juicy, the bacon crispy, and the cheese an acquired taste. To me it was a great combination. The cheese was almost a sauce and with a bun that could have done with more toasting there was potential for the texture to become too mushy. This was saved by the crispy lettuce and onion which really added to the flavour but more importantly the texture of the burger.

The burger really was a feast as the different ingredients combined into one glorious experience and although I was not a fan of the under toasted bun it did somehow allow me to keep this feast together, no easy feat considering the quantity of food between the bread. My only criticism would be that I ordered my burger rare and it was hardly pink in the middle. It is hard to complain though considering how much I enjoyed it.

In the UK we would describe the food Cheers offers as “pub grub” a very unflattering term for one of my favourite types of food. Cheers gave me a taste of home but in an American way, the footie was on the TV but they served fries and not chips and ice water as soon as we sat down. It was great.

Thanks for reading my first review. I’d like to know what you think. What American food or restaurants would you recommend?

George

We Made it to Boston!

George and I flew out of SeaTac late last night headed for Boston. We had a quick stopover in Philadelphia before flying up to Boston. We arrived around 9am Eastern time and made it to our Airbnb. We’ll be writing more on the blog tonight or tomorrow with what we’ve seen so far.

And now a note from George:

I made it onto the blog! It only took eleven months but here I am. I hope to use this space to talk about my traveling experience with Maddy, focusing on one of my favourite things: food, which from what I have heard is quite popular here.

Weird American observation #1: the supermarkets have sprinklers that water the fruit and veg automatically whilst making thunder sounds. Crazy.

 

Happy to be in Boston

Maddy and George

Ridesharing and What I’ve been doing

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting on here this trip. And you probably thought “Wow she didn’t post much” last time. I arrived in Paris this morning after taking a overnight bus from Bordeaux. It took about 7.5 hours and I got here at about 6am. Luckily my hostel was very easy to find and my stuff is now safely in a locker until I can check in and get my room later. I’m staying at the Paris Generator Hostel which I’ll post about later but I will say that I really enjoyed staying at the Venice Generator when I was there back in July.

Over the last week I spent time in London and Norwich. I went to the Tate Modern Art Museum, saw a movie, and slept, a lot. Then on thursday I headed back to London for a night and at 8am caught a flight from Gatwick to Bordeaux.

Bordeaux was really pretty. I met up with Jessica, who I met in Madrid, and we spent the day catching up and shopping. Then I did something I’ve never done before. That America doesn’t really do. We got a ride share from Bordeaux to her apartment in Agen. In Europe, I know for sure in France, Spain, and Italy not positive about other places, its not uncommon for people to go on sites like blablacar.com where you can put in where you’re going to and from on what date and they can match you up with a driver who will drive you there. The difference between this and apps like Uber and Lyft, which I use all the time back home, is that it’s for longer distances and there may be other people using the same driver. I’ve now done it twice, the first car was great. It was a french man driving and a french woman who spoke some english and she was funny and very nice. It was a really good experience. The second wasn’t bad. However The one thing to be aware of is that when in countries where english isn’t the native language people may not speak it.

I understand some french, more than I always thing I can, however my verbal skills are very slim and so on the 2nd ride, the one without Jess who speaks french well, I was in a car with 4 people who spoke no english at all. But here’s the real thing. If you’re trying to get from point a to point b and it’s expensive by train look for rideshares they’re cheap, neither was over 10€, and you can meet really nice people!

For america I think there are a few reasons we don’t have the same kind of thing. The main reason being that America is so big. In Europe 4 hours in a car is enough to almost get across a country, in some places it’s enough to get though more than one, in America you’re still in the same state. The other reason is that we’re more suspicious of people and I don’t thing we trust people as much. I know I’d feel weird having strange people driving with me. But here it’s convenient.

One last bit of advice. Also check busses. I took an overnight bus last night that got me from Bordeaux to Paris for under 8€ and I didn’t have to pay for a hostel. In my mind the not so great sleep was worth the 22€ I saved on top of the price of a train.

 

I’ll post about Paris when I’ve seen more than the metro and this hostel!

Maddy

What’s coming in 2016

I keep starting to write posts looking back on last year and I can’t seem to get the words to come out how I want them to. My solution to this is to instead write what’s coming this year and then I’ll write the looking back post later.

This year is going to be a big one. On March 3rd I’m flying to London to go visit friends from my trip as well as to see more of London. I’ll be there for about 3 weeks. I think the biggest deal about this right now is that I paid for the tickets with my own money. It’s probably the first time I feel like a real adult. Now I just have to save up for everything I want to get while I’m over there.

After March is a little more up in the air but currently I’m planning on going on a big road trip all over the US. Maybe I’ll head to Mexico or Canada and see more of those places. In September I’ll be in Alaska for a short time for a wedding then it’s on to Los Angeles…

I think the biggest thing that I’m planning though is that I’m planning on moving to Los Angeles around September. And I’m hoping that by actually posting it on here it’ll make it more solid. It’s a bit scary even though I have been planning on doing it for years. I’m not sure how it’ll happen but I know that no matter what I’m heading down there and I’ll do my best to make it work. If you have any advice please let me know!

I’ve been working at Old Navy as a sales associate and I’m hoping to continue working there for quite a while. I’ve been really enjoying it.

My goals for this blog over the next year is simple. I want to continue writing in it. Especially with how much traveling I’ll be doing. And I’m hoping to make some travel videos and so hopefully those will come soon too. I’ve been working on a two part slideshow thing of the trip from this summer and part one is done except for the music… someday I’ll finish it!

I’m off to have dinner and go to bed. Working tomorrow!

Maddy

Makeup and Backpacking

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of makeup, on most days I have enough in my purse to do my makeup in the car or anywhere, a few different ways. And when I was on my trip this was still happening. When I left I had one small bag of makeup. I came home with about 3 bigger bags. Most were things I couldn’t get at home but some were just impulse buys.

Before my trip I kept looking online for a list of things to bring and what I found was a lot of “I bring only these 2 things because it’s all I use” and for a lot of people that’s great! If you only use mascara and lip balm then just bring that. If you don’t use anything then don’t bring anything! But that’s not who I am. I bring more than most people bring on vacation when I’m spending one night at a friends house. But if you’re travelling for more than a few days and you have to carry everything with you well, makeup isn’t light. It adds weight and when you fly often times products are too big to be carry on, or you at least have to remember to put them in a bag before hand and if you forget you spend 10 minutes digging through to find all the liquids and creams.

First my advice: Bring the minimum daily things and then one or two products that you can use to dress up a look or wear for going out. Bring things that you know you like. It’s not neccesarily the time to try out new things. If you want to try something new wait until you get there and buy something you can’t get at home. That’s always an option!!!

Now for what I’d bring if I did it again:

Face:

  • Foundation
    • My favorite right now is the L’oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation. Bring one that’s not in glass! Also make sure you know it works well. I brought one that I’d just purchased and after a few weeks it wasn’t working how I wanted and I just needed a different one.
  • Blush/Bronzer/Contour/Highlight
    • My suggestion when it comes to this stuff is to get either one palette that has a few different things or to get something like a z-palette that you can put a few different colors you like in it. The other nice thing is you can put your eyeshadows in here too! But really none of this is neccessary
  • Concealer
    • Just bring one you like that will last all day.
  • Powder
    • Again just bring one you like

Eyes:

  • Eyeliner
    • I had a pen eyeliner and that was it. It worked well
  • Mascara
    • Bring your favorite!
  • Eyeshadow
    • Either pick a few you like and put them into a z-palette or get a small shadow palette that has good everyday colors.
  • Brows
    • I just brought a eyebrow gel and that was fine for me! If you do more to yours go for it!

Lips:

  • Lip Balm
    • This is my #1 don’t forget thing. I ran out part way through and was very sad.
  • Lipstick
    • I went way overboard here. Just bring one or two that you like. Nudes are probably best but a good red or brighter color is good for a night out!
  • Lip Liner
    • If you’re not a fan of lipstick or want more of a range bring a few lipliners. You can bring about 5 in the space it’ll take for 2 lipsticks and topped off with a balm they’re not too different.

 

Here’s my real advice though. Just bring what you feel comfortable with. If you want to suck it up and just carry that extra weight do it! If you aren’t big on doing much just bring the few things you do use. If you don’t want to bring any and you want to buy a ton there do that! It’s fun to look at what they have and try new things! And you can always throw things away and repurchase them later.

A video/slideshow thing will be coming soon once I finish it!

Maddy