Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Waffles

This morning I was in a fall mood and thought I would add a little twist to my Saturday morning waffle.  Dave sent me a surprise case of Bisquick pancake and baking mix a while back when it was on sale.  I used to use Pamela's baking mix, but this is almost easier to work with.  I was going to add pumpkin puree and the typical pumpkin spices, but realized I had pumpkin pie mix on my shelf!  I followed the waffle recipe on the box with just slightly less water and oil and added 3/4 cup pumpkin pie mix from the can.  I cooked it a little longer in the waffle maker than usual, as the pumpkin added a bit more moisture.  Once they were crisp on the outside, I gave them a taste.  Perfect!  With maple syrup, there was just enough of a hint of fall pumpkin flavor to make me ever so happy! 

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Waffles

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hoover Dam and The Bellagio

After our big Grand Canyon day and a nice Diner breakfast after our cold night camping, we drove back, through Vegas, and to the Hoover Dam.  We took the full tour that takes you underneath everything to see how the place works.  Pretty freaky.   Amazing that this was able to be built in the 30's.  I also loved seeing Lake Mead since I talk a lot about the Colorado River when I teach.  It was super windy while we were there. 
Lake Mead
Hoover Dam
Dave on the Dam
After our Dam visit, we headed back to Las Vegas and checked in to the Bellagio.  We had to clean out the rental car and get all of our camp gear back into the suitcases and up to the room.  This proved super annoying due to the fact that the first floor of the Bellagio is a super busy casino and I lugged a 50lb suitcase, my backpack, and purse across the entire parking ramp, through the casino to get to our room.  No convenience for guests here!   
I think Dave is doing a little jig to celebrate the purple and green room.  Or perhaps he is stretching.  We had a view of the pools instead of the fountains.
I did a little jig when I saw the size of this bathroom.  After several days of camping, I was soooo ready to hit up this shower.
A shower never looked so tempting!
We got settled and then returned the rental car.  We hit up a cheap steak dinner at Ellis Island, thanks to a suggestion from our cabbie. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Zion, Parissawampitts Point, and Grand Canyon

After a nice camp shower after the narrows and some sausages for dinner, complete with Jiffy Pop, we woke up in Zion after a bright sleep under the full moon and decided to hit up one more hike before we headed to Grand Canyon.
Zion camp site

We did Hidden Canyon Trail, a 2.5 mile trail that walks along a cliff face.  Thanks to Brian, Kelly, and Dave for chit chatting and distracting me while we walked along the scary parts!  Go me! 

A view from the hike.  There were narrow trails along the sides of these cliffs that we followed to get to Hidden Canyon.

Kelly, Brian, and Dave
I have no idea how he got up there, or got down...
Dave and Brian in the arch
We left Zion and began driving to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Dave had found coordinates to a free camping place.  Remember, it was Memorial Day weekend, so there was no way we were staying somewhere official.  With the help of a hiking GPS and some sketchy directions from a little magazine cut out he brought, we drove on gravel roads for a very long time with huge potholes in rental cars that had like 4" of clearance underneath before we finally arrived at Parisawampits Point at the edge of a rim.  At first it was very anticlimactic, but after such a long drive in the car, I decided to jog around until I found out why this place was recommended.  Well, I figured it out!  I lead the cars to a camping spot just a few feet from a rim overlooking the valley where the Grand Canyon lay.  We set up camp but also watched sunset from a cool spot overlooking the canyon.  Brian and Dave both saw the elusive, black Kaibab squirrel, but I missed him.

View from Parissawampitts Point

View from Parissawampitts Point

View from Parissawampitts Point

View from Parissawampitts Point

Parissawampitts Point at sunset
We made some dinner and went to bed and set our alarms for sunrise.  As it turns out, Grand Canyon is pretty high elevation.  I had packed for summer in the desert, not cold sleeping conditions!  Luckily I had some jeans along and a well insulated hoodie.
View from Parissawampitts Point at sunrise (that's the moon!)
View from Parissawampitts Point at sunrise
View from Parissawampitts Point at sunrise

Sunrise was a little anticlimactic due to haze, but it was still fun to see.  We headed back to the main road and found a camping spot and dropped a car there, put up tents, then drove together to Grand Canyon.

Beefalo.  They exist. 
Dave and I at Grand Canyon National Park

We walked out to Bright Angel Point, but the drastic drop offs of the Grand Canyon really bothered me, so I spent some time sitting on a rock while the rest hung out on the edge.

Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Point

Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Point
Yay, a sign!  I wasn't able to take this picture, I was too freaked out and was hanging out on my rock.
I sat on this rock for a while and tried not to cry.  I hate heights!  The bridge behind me is what totally freaked me out!
In front of the lodge at North Rim Grand Canyon, Dave and I
We decided on a 10 mile hike called, Widforss Trail, which included a fun trail guide which we totally milked for entertainment, doing it backwards from memory on the way back.  The trail offered awesome views of the canyon as well as some nice forest.  Poor Dave only had the hiking shoes I brought from Colorado, which of course were the rejects that didn't make the trip to NYC.  I brought a huge suitcase on Southwest while he didn't check a bag, so I brought the bulky stuff.  Anyway, his shoes were practically garbage and his feet hurt so bad on our 10 mile hike!   What a trooper!

From Widforss Trail
Ponderosa Pina
Dave, Brian, and Kelly on Widforss Trail
Me tree hugging the Ponderosa Pine
Finally made it to the view at the end of From Widforss Trail, now 5 miles home!

Afterwards we headed back to the visitors center to make use of the facilities, fill up water, and RELAX!  There was a coffee shop/bar at the visitors center area and we got some spiked drinks and relaxed in the lodge with huge windows overlooking the canyon.

Dave and I after a 10 mile hike and a drink at the lodge.
Sweet views in the lodge at Grand Canyon!
Relaxing after a long hike. 
We made our way back to our other car and free campsite, and decided since it was our last night before we returned our rental cars and headed back to Vegas, we had to eat everything we owned.  Fortunately, that included potatoes and peppers and onion, which we sauteed on our sweet cat stove, which is a cheap way to cook if you are flying to your destination and don't feel like buying a full camp fuel for a few days of camping.  Unfortunately, we also had to eat up our gross creamy potato soup and Dave's cup o noodles.  These were not so gourmet.  After our food was finished, we cleaned up and had an extremely cold sleep.  We woke up early and went to breakfast before making our way to Hoover Dam. 
Potato fest.  Who needs chairs? 
Potato, onion, and pepper masterpiece on the cat stove!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Narrows of Zion

Rewinding to Memorial Day weekend:  We had read about Zion a little bit before going and every article suggested doing The Narrows.  We wanted to do an overnight backpacking trip down the Narrows, but we were a little concerned about how we would keep our gear dry hiking down a river.  It was also hard to pack proper backpacking gear that could make it on a plane, legally.  We decided to make a day hike of it and head up the Narrows to Oderville Canyon, then back down.  The thing is, once you pass the river walk, you hike in the river!  Flow rates were low and most of the time the water was about knee high or less, but there were spots where we were waist deep, and at one point we just went swimming.  It was definitely the most awesome hike I've ever been on.  We hiked in our hiking shoes and they were dry by morning with the help of the fire.  We read that exposed toes are a no-no and I would agree. Hiking in shoes was the way to go.  We just wore wool socks and all of our quick-dry clothing or swim suits.  It was also really helpful to have trekking poles.  They saved me from taking a swim many times.
Just getting started in the Narrows.

Waterfall in the Narrows.  Brian and Dave.

We're on the left for scale.  The Narrows.
Note the people for scale.  The Narrows.

Cool rock formations near the water in the Narrows of Zion.

Kelly, Brian, and Dave in the Narrows

We found a few rocks to sit on for lunch in the Narrows.

Back on dry land heading back to the campsite.


Off to the Grand Canyon next!