Summer of Sunsets

Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of witnessing. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!

Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!

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Arizona near Phoenix
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Grand Canyon area
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Santa Monica, CA
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Cannon Beach, OR
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Eugene, OR
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Bradenton, FL
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Honolulu, HI
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Bismarck-Mandan, ND
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Honolulu, HI
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Scottsdale, AZ
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Sarasota, FL
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Moab, UT
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Honolulu, HI

 

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Austin, TX
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San Diego, CA
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Hawaii
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San Diego, CA
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Kauai, Hawaii
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Honolulu, HI
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Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!

Read more about my scenic adventures here!

See more gorgeous views in Hawaii here!

Please feel free to comment or contact me, I would love to hear from you! Please follow my blog and subscribe! As always, I thank you for reading and thank you for your support!

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2 For 1 Archaeological So Cal Hiking Trails * Coast to Crest

Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail
Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail

Weekends are very special to people, it is considered very valuable time for some. It means taking advantage of time off from work, or it might mean spending quality time with family and friends. The weekend is also perfect for running errands and doing tasks that you weren’t able to do during the week. But the weekend is not only for playing catch up on household work, it’s also great for going outdoors and exploring the local area hiking trails. And hiking on the San Diego area trails are perfect to fill your weekend with fun outdoor adventure!

 

 

 

If you have the desire to make the most of your weekends, here are a couple hiking trails I thought were very easy and interesting. The Santa Fe Valley Hike and the Del Dios Gorge trail heads are located directly next to each other. There is a rock gravel parking area that you can park at no charge, then go and explore one trail and continue on and hike the other; exploring both trails all in one visit. Directions: I-15 to exit Via Rancho Parkway, Go West 3.5 miles, go left on Del Dios Road 5.4 miles, and turn left when you see a organic fruit stand building and veer to the right and continue driving down the road that will lead to the gravel parking area for the trails.

 

The Santa Fe Valley trail is not only great for hikers but you can also bring your bikes out on the trail. There is even a bicycle repair station to use if you need a few tools to do a small repair or simply need to add some air in your tires on your bike. Also, one of the pleasant viewpoints of this hike are the beautiful views of the Crosby Golf Course.
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My visit to these trails did not only present striking natural landscapes for viewing pleasure, but I learned they also have archaeological significance. The flood of 1927 apparently exposed countless artifacts of the areas early inhabitants.

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Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail

Three pre-historic cultural periods describe this region and it portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge hiking trails are both segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, which expands 55 miles from the ocean to the Pacific Crest.

Rattlesnake Viewpoint

One final thought, the next time your weekend is full of an endless to do list, make sure you add hiking and going outdoors to that list. Something to remember; make the most out of your weekend as well each and every day you get. Maximize life by learning, exploring, making memories with your family, and treasure every moment of this life.

Thank you for reading, to see more hiking adventures, check these other 4 great local San Diego Hikes here:

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3 Best Beaches On The Gulf Coast Florida

What does Summertime mean to you? For many, Summer is the season of making memories of fun times with family enjoying picnics, barbecue and watermelon! But for me, Summertime is all about the beachlife. This includes packing up your tote bags, gathering your fluffy beach towels and folding chairs and heading out to the beach every chance I get. IMG_0150Summertime and beaches go hand in hand, you can pack your lunch and enjoy a picnic on the beach, then grab your camera for those gorgeous sunsets that round up the day.
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I’ve spent a lot of time at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are even a few I’ve been to that are located in areas not even accessible to the general public. But some of the hottest beaches in the world you could say are located in the state of Florida.
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Although the Summer season climate in Florida can be quite hot, it makes for a reason to head out to the beaches and jump in! Here are the three best beaches on the gulf coast you should visit today!

  1.  Siesta Key BeachDirections

Siesta Key Beach is located on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. This is the beach of all beaches! It’s the beach you dream of with wide spaces of beautiful white sand of which the sand is cool to the touch. IMG_5271The sand at many beaches can be very hot on the feet during those scorching Summer days, but the sand at Siesta Key Beach is cool and very fine. The sand is made of Quartz and has a luxurious and cool feel to the feet!

There is a nice facility and large parking lot at this beach where you can find restrooms, and at times some events and activities are going on, for example seafood festivities and live bands.

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Additionally, every Sunday evening around Sunset there is the traditional Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle where people gather in a large circle and there are a few instruments being played, and folks can hula hoop or dance.

 

This is one beach you must visit on your next trip to Florida! Siesta Key Beach has also been named for some accolades recently as well.

  • o The whitest and finest sand in the world (The Great International Beach Challenge, 1987)
  • o The Best San Beach in America (The Travel Channel, 2004)
  • o The Best Beach in America (Dr. Beach, 2011, 2017)
  • o 2015 awarded #1 U.S. Beach (Street sign posted on Siesta Key)

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Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle Celebration
2. Bradenton Beach: Directions

Bradenton Beach can be found located on Anna Marie Island in Bradenton, Florida. From I-75 go take the exit for SR 64 and go west and you will run directly into the parking area for this beautiful beach.

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Bradenton Beach, FL
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Bradenton Beach, FL

From my experience visiting this beach, there is not alot of commercialism nearby or at this beach which is one reason why I love this beach! It’s sort of old school, it allows you to truly escape the crazy noisy things going on already in our busy lives.  Parking is free in this particular parking area, and the beach is what you see is what you get. There is a restroom building located at this parking area, and you can find a few businesses and swimsuit boutiques as you drive further south. There are a handful of free parking areas as well. It was a treat to be at the beach and see the Sand Art displays on the day we visited this beach in the month of December.

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Bradenton Beach Sand Art Display
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Bradenton Beach Sand Art Display
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Bradenton Beach, FL
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Bradenton Beach, FL

If you are looking for a quiet, and easy access to a beach for relaxing and enjoyment, Bradenton Beach will not disappoint.
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3. Clearwater Beach: Directions

This spectacular beach area is highly visited every year and offers a lot of beach fun and activity. Located in Clearwater, Florida, the beach is beautiful and lovely with its wide and sparking light colored sand and inviting blue waters to enjoy fun in the sun, building sand castles, or enjoying a picnic on the beach. There are several tourists who visit this beach so it can be busy, and parking can be a challenge at times.

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Clearwater Beach, FL
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Clearwater Beach, FL

You will see some hotels and resorts located directly on the beach in the distance. Several boutique shops and restaurants, and souvenir and snack shops line the streets on the main drag that lines this beach. You can also rent jet skis and boat tours to add a little adventure to your visit. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must see as it is the place that the popular movie, Dolphin Tale, is based on.

Clearwater Beach has also been in the rankings of beaches in years past including one of the best beaches in the U.S. and many others. So while you visit the state of Florida, make sure to include a day at this stunning beach for an incredible beach day experience!

 

So the next time you think of Summer, the only thing that may come to your mind is Beaches! For me, there is nothing better than a day at the beach with your family playing in the water, relaxing on the sand, and enjoying a delicious picnic. When you come to Florida on your next travel or vacation, these three beaches are a must see to add to your itinerary!
Thank you for reading!

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Love beaches? See more beaches in Hawaii and more here!

Coastal Road Trip Part 2: Redwoods & Oregon

And then there were trees
Our adventurous expedition continues, as our plan today was to spend time hiking and exploring these massive trees and nature trails. Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest tree species on earth! And then there were trees, lots of trees. They were big, small, wide, corked, and even drive through with a car trees. Gigantic trees were everywhere you turn. We did get a little tease earlier in our drive as we started venturing through these magnificent specimens starting around a little town called Leggett, California. We browsed our way through Smithe Redwoods SNR, Humbolt Redwoods, and then onto the Avenue of the Giants.

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Avenue of the Giants was a peaceful less traveled path to take to explore these natural wonders. This particular area is the greatest accumulation of biomass, which is comprised of both living and dead organic material, ever recorded in a coast redwood forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Did you know that coast redwoods are taller than any other living thing! Here are a few interesting stops we made on this tour:

Stop 2: Bolling Grove where many of the redwoods take interesting shapes and sizes.
Stop 3: Visitor Center
Stop 4: Weott
Stop 5: Mahan Plaque is where there have been reports of people seeing an elusive large creature across the road (Sasquatch, Big Foot).
Stop 6: Dyerville
Stop 7: Chandler Grove
Stop 8: Drury/Chaney Grove where a nice 2.4 nature loop trail takes you through these massive species of trees.

We continue our journey north passing through Eureka and arriving into our resting destination of Arcata, California. But before arriving in Arcata, we also stopped for a rest at this neat stop in Klamath, California where a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe statue stood. We went into the museum and shop to browse around a bit and glanced at all the historical photos of characters from the old Wild West including the Indians and other explorers.

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We arrived early but yet late enough to check into our hotel and we dropped off our food and personal items, then headed back out to explore a new area. We returned to a scenic spot we passed by earlier to re-capture a few more photos of these extraordinary vistas and views.

After capturing a few eye catchy coastal view photos, we headed back to our hotel in Arcata, and while on the way we stumbled upon a quaint Mexican restaurant while driving through Eureka. We are usually very hesitant to try new places, but it was a sit down restaurant and we thought we’d give it a try. If you have food allergies or food sensitivities, they will do whatever you ask them to suit your needs. They mentioned to me that most of their sauces contain milk, except for one kind and that is what I chose for my Enchilada sauce. The food and sauces were made of quality ingredients. Hence, our meal did not disappoint, and was very delicious! If you are traveling through this area, you may want to check out this restaurant.
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After inhaling the scrumptious dinner at Tres Pecosos, we thought we would try to seek out another photo op before the sun goes down. A scenic area for a sunset at the beach and coast area would be perfect. But there were still a couple of hours of sunlight and we were just too tired to mill around until sunset so we captured a few stunning shots and made our way back to the hotel and hit the sack.

Sunset at beach area, near Eureka

The excitement level at this time was through the roof

And we had not even made it to the Oregon border yet. We’ve heard the most wonderful things about Oregon and especially about the coastline and its remarkable beauty. We awoke to a morning full of sun and fresh breezes. It was an absolutely beautiful day in Northern California, and we were ready and set to charge our way into another Redwoods area *Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP area and on into Oregon with our excitement level maxed out at this point. We topped off the gas tank and hit the road running. We also noticed that the California Redwoods parks are considered both the National Park and State Park areas.

This particular area of Redwoods is named for an American explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith, who traveled across the lands of the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast in the early 1800s. There is also the Smith River that provides such elegant beauty and crystal clear waters.
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Smith River

Side Note: There are a couple things we noticed as we traveled further north along the coast into northern California, Oregon, and Washington. There are several homeless (or look like they were homeless) folks wandering around the streets, parking lots, roadways and highways. We also noticed several folks appear to live in their vehicles and made lengthy stays at every rest area we stopped at. A few rest areas had posted signs that stated parking in this lot for only a minimum number of hours are allowed or vehicle will be towed. We also noticed that free coffee was offered at the rest stops in Oregon and Washington. Another thing we made a note of and something to be aware of is know where your rest stops or bathroom breaks are. The number of rest stops in California seems to be limited and the ones they do have several of them were closed. This is something to keep in mind as you travel on a road trip through California.

We could hardly believe our eyes
As we cruised through the massive Redwood National Park near the Klamath area, and again were in awe. From the enormous trees to the amazing shoreline beach vistas, it was a nature photographers dream.

We finally crossed the California border and into the beautiful state of Oregon. We drove down the roadway for a period of time this morning, and came upon a nice facility that was one of the Oregon Visitor Centers. We used the restrooms, browsed around the shelves full of pamphlets, brochures, and magazines about Oregon. We took a few info brochures, and then spoke with the woman working behind the counter and she provided us a few tips about the scenic stops and photo opportunities along the coast. These are some of those points of interest we made sure to stop and explore as they are described here:

Natural Bridge Cove: Trail

Arch Rock
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Port Orford Heads State Park
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Coos Bay
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Heceta Head Lighthouse (Viewing area)
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Cape Falcon
Tillamook
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A quaint little farming town with an air museum with a large blimp hangar, cheese factories, and agriculture fields.

Cannon Beach

This little beach town was spectacular and was alive! It appeared quite busy for how small it is. Several folks crossing the roads, on sidewalks, restaurant parking lots were full, it seems this beach town jewel had it all going on! The beach is wide and offers quite a scenic treasure accompanied by the large rock formations and is home to the word’s third largest monolith Haystack Rock standing 235 feet high, home for birding and natural beauty wonder. This coastal area made for incredible filming scenes for several movies and films. Examples include The Goonies, Point Break, Free Willy, Overboard, Twilight movies and many more.

As we departed the Cannon Beach area we felt a little sad, as we really wanted to stay longer. But we knew we had to make our way on to Portland, which was our resting point for the night. We proceeded north on highway 101 and reached highway 26 which took us all the way into Portland and definitely did not disappoint, as it was quite a scenic roadway. We enjoyed glancing at the natural surroundings and tree lined road as well as the open fields as we watched the sun set.

We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day the next day. We woke up to a beautiful Portland morning and hit the road towards Seattle. We arrived in Seattle a handful of hours from Portland and prepared to make our way downtown to find parking. We pre-purchased baseball tickets to see the Seattle Mariners play on July 4th and it was a blast! The stadium was full of cheer, music, excitement, and patriotism!
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Safeco Stadium 4th of July Fly over from McChord Field: C-17 Flyover: WOW!

The Seattle morning offered to us was unbelievable! Full sunshine, blue sky, gorgeous temperatures, and not the Washington temps I remember. (in a good way). (I lived on Whidbey Island, WA 20 years ago).

We walked around the city for a while, then filled the car up with gas and started our return trip. San Francisco was our final stop, return the rental car, and catch a flight home. But of course, before that flight departure, we took in another baseball game and saw the San Francisco Giants play ball! That was certainly a thrill to see! I don’t know how people watch the game when they have such a gorgeous view looking right back at them in the stadium!

Our road trip back through Oregon was sort of a detour path as a result of the fires on I-5 near and around the borders of Oregon and California. Our detour included taking us onto Highway 99 South through several beautiful open landscapes, Mt. Shasta, Diamond Peak Mt., and other gorgeous vistas for our viewing pleasure and an overnight resting stop in Eugene. To cap off the evening, we enjoyed a stunning sunset!
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This coastal road trip was truly a remarkable experience for us! I remember always hearing about Highway 1 and PCH (Pacific Coast Highway); the scenic views, landscapes, and beautiful beach towns along the path. And I have only seen photos of places like Pebble Beach (or watching golf tournaments on TV), but for many years it was just a dream or a thought. It is remarkable that I have lived in the West between California and Washington for more than 20 years and have never driven this route. Well, now it’s not just a dream anymore, it became a reality for this wandering adventurer!
Thank you for reading!

Please follow me and subscribe to my blog and read about more travel, exploration, adventure, and hiking challenges. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! Contact:

Read my Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 1: Pebble Beach, Redwoods, & Street Art

Sources:
Avenue of the Giants brochure
California State Map
Oregon state printed informational material

 

My Odyssey Into The Arches & Canyonlands Of Utah

The Ultimate #Roadtrip

Escape with me as I take you on my journey into Utah and our drive from Texas through New Mexico, Colorado, and into Utah to reach this remarkable national park; the Arches and Canyonlands.

After a life changing event last year, my husband wanted us to take a real vacation and visit a place that I’ve never been. So, we set out on an expedition of the beautiful national parks in the USA. We plan to visit all the national parks one at a time, and we are starting with Utah, the Arches and Canyonlands; and of course I am all in!

As a result of this change in our lives, we also thought long and hard about the important things in life; like family, making new memories and experiences and spending more time with our parents so we also asked my in-laws to join us on this trip. We were living in Florida at the time and proceeded with the plans of this exciting journey and booked our flight into Austin, TX.

From Austin, we packed up our coolers with ice, food, and water and jammed our pillows and snacks in the car and made our way down the highway. We drove through quite a few small towns in Texas of which one of them is Fredericksburg. This small town was quaint, has hometown feel, and is beautiful. It is also considered one of ten best wine travel destinations. http://www.visitfredericksburgtx.com/

As we were cruising down the highway out of Fredericksburg, we made a few stops to stretch and use the restrooms. A few hours later, we then pulled off the road again at a small rest and picnic area. We enjoyed our home-made turkey sandwiches and chips, glanced at large lizards and trees, then got back into the car and made our way to Lubbock. Here we stayed the night in a very comfortable Holiday Inn hotel and slept like babies.

The morning came quick, as we ate the hotel breakfast and my in-laws enjoyed the cookies and treats. The drive has gone smooth so far to this point along with a few pit stops and lunch time breaks, we finally made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Driving into New Mexico is quite a scene as it is so beautiful and clean everywhere you look. The climate in June was gorgeous here and we were able to see a few historic sites.

 

 

Then we discovered one of the best Mexican restaurants we’ve ever experienced, thanks to the recommendation of one of the hotel staff, it was far better than what we expected. The high quality of food and atmosphere was top notch! Cervantes

After a night of delicious dining and hard sleeping in Albuquerque, we continued our way further into New Mexico. We were smack dab in the middle of Navajo Nation Reservation territory. One of my best friends is Navajo, and we were in the military together. She has since returned to her home state of Arizona. She is always interesting to talk to, as well; I visited her back in 1997 and stayed with her on the reservation in Page, Arizona, which was quite an enlightening experience. Anyway, while driving through this land, it’s remarkable to see all the agriculture and the community of the Navajo Nation. I think about all the history of this country as we pass through these lands and make our way into Utah.

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From the moment you enter the state, we noticed how picturesque it was. The beauty of the natural landscape will mesmerize you. Prior to reaching the very cool small town of Moab, you come upon an arch that you can stop and enjoy as you rest and start your journey of exploring these great lands. Just outside of Moab, you’ll encounter Wilson’s Arch. We stopped here to get our hiking juices flowing and relentless excitement knowing that we were in for quite a treat. We took a few photos and climbed to the top and rolled all over it and reminded ourselves that the fun has only just begun.

 

 

 

The next few days would turn out to be unbelievable and enchanting as we saw the most spectacular natural beauty landscape that you could ever imagine.

 

 

The intoxicating beauty of the rock formations and red rock, the arches were alive. From Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock to Landscape Arch, this place turned out to be all that I thought it would be and more!

 

 

 

 

Our exploration of these extraordinary lands consisted of one day hiking and seeing the Arch’s territory , the second day was spent escaping to parts of Canyonlands; although more days are necessary to gain the full experience of these parks. DSC_0500DSC_0555DSC_0588RED ROCKDSC_0592DSC_0626Redrock2

On day three in Moab, the mountains of La Sal was calling our name. We decided to mix up our trip and add a little greenery, trees, and mountain nature to our plans. As our car climbed the upward elevation of the La Sal mountains, we encountered a few animals. A herd of cattle were apparently on migration from one side of the road to the other. This just made our mountain visit even more memorable.

Our time exploring Arches and Canyonlands was also accompanied by scrumptious dining. We enjoyed a couple meals at a place called The Diner; where you can enjoy a delicious dinner as well as scrumptious ice cream. We left that place with big smiles on our face as the meals were more than delicious.  http://www.moabdiner.com/Home

DSC_0512Morning ArchOverall, our expedition was full of spectacular maze and wonder. We truly enjoyed staying in Moab, UT. DSC00198

It brought us back to life and to realize the truly important things in life that matter. Together with creating new wonderful experiences with our parents, this trip will forever be a treasure trove of unforgettable memories.
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Avocado: Slicing The Miracle Fruit

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Did you know that the avocado is a fruit? Otherwise known as ‘alligator pear’, the avocado is grown on a tree and is loaded with nutrients that provide tremendous benefits to your body.  The nutrients are only part of the experience of consuming avocados; shopping for them and preparing them to eat is another story.

Those who don’t normally eat avocados find it difficult choosing the proper ripeness when shopping at the market. I always feel for some slight firmness keeping in mind my technique when slicing open the fruit and how easily it comes apart. You don’t want it too firm because then you just don’t get the most enriching flavor for that particular ripe.

To battle the challenge of preparing them for eating, it will all be worth the challenge knowing the incredible nutrients they contain; which include the following:

  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin E
  • Small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and other minerals.

I begin my slicing challenge by washing the exterior of the avocado before my knife touches it.  I then lightly tap it dry with a towel or paper towel.  I take my knife and start at the top of the avocado and slice downward and around back near the top – to slice it into two halves.  I then take my knife and with a quick and straight chop into the center of the middle seed or the pit, I gently turn and push to get the seed out. With the proper ripeness, the seed should sort of slide right out.  I then take a spoon and place it into the inside edge of the peel and gently slide throughout the lining of the avocado half.

sliced tomato and avocado on white plate
Photo by Artem Bulbfish on Pexels.com

The seed or pit can also be used to plant and grow an avocado tree. There appears to be some prep work and patience. Learn how to grow an avocado tree from the seed here:

So now the challenge of slicing and preparing the avocado for consumption is ready for salads, sandwiches, guacamole, and more! The flavor they add to your meals is only a small part of what Avocados provide. Did you know that Avocados contain more potassium than bananas?  According to healthline.com, “Avocados are actually very high in potassium… with a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high potassium food.”.. Read complete article here: 

 

Source:
healthline.com
inhabitat.com

Health and Loving Where You Live

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Do you find yourself continually complaining about the weather, nasty neighbors, noise pollution, and on and on? With respect to weather primarily, this is what I went through because I lived in one of the coldest states in America. Every year, I dreaded the winter season that was coming. I knew that by August 1ST, I would see some leaves on the trees turning yellow in color. In my mind, that meant this was the season of life indoors, wearing several layers of clothing, and doing very little physical activity.

Life seems so much easier in warmer more comfortable climates. I was always happier, more active, and enjoyed my daily life more in the Spring and Summer seasons. But there are many people who love the change of seasons as well. As a kid, I looked forward to the longer daylight, dressing in shorts and t-shirts, swimming at the lake, and enjoying some ice cream on a sunny hot afternoon.

This begs the question, do you love the place where you live? Does being happy contribute to improved or better health? Well, there have been many studies done on these very questions. Is loving where you live connected to being physically healthier? According to Livescience.com, a gallup poll says that people satisfied with their community are physically healthier. And continues to say that a survey can’t draw a causal link between community and individual health, but research suggests the two are linked.   Read complete article here: