How Was your NaNoWriMo?

Hi Everyone – I’ve been a bit MIA on this blog as of late…and I don’t know why.

It could be because I started a full-time job this fall, and I just don’t feel inspired after a long day of sitting typing at a computer. Also, about mid-November I was sick for like a week with a cold, and that about wasted my November.

On the positive side, though, I have been writing more as of late. I think it all started after watching Outlander one Sunday. I was curious about the books and I went on Diana Gabaldon’s website, and something I read of hers inspired me.

It was what she said about the first book of Outlander. She said she wrote it because she wanted to see if she could write a novel, and Outlander was just a trial, a for-fun novel.

Well, several books later and a successful TV Show and she is still writing. I guess it made me realize that you shouldn’t doubt yourself. It might not be as awful as you think it is, and if it is awful…who cares? It was meant to be a draft, right?

If Diana Gabaldon can do it, well then so can I. Plus, my writing process seems to be a bit similar to hers. I tend to just wing it…I’ll have a rough outline, but otherwise I tend to be at the whim of my characters: “alright, guys, where do you want to go next?”

How was your NaNoWriMo? Any words of wisdom for the rest of us?

(Also, my NaNoWriMo wasn’t all that successful, but I got some more useful scenes written for my novel-in-progress and that’s something!)

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Outlander Season 3 Episode 7 Review: Creme De Menthe

Soo…this latest Outlander episode kind of irritated me, but if you thought otherwise, or you had similar feelings, let me know below!

If you have not watched the newest episode of Outlander, beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: Starz

I’m having a hard time trying to find the positive in Claire going back to 18th century Scotland, but even in spite of Sam Heughan’s muscular bod, it’s a difficult thing.

The episode starts off where episode 6 left us at a cliffhanger. A stranger is rifling through Jamie’s things, and attacks Claire. She uses a knife to defend to herself, but in evading it, the stranger trips and sustains a head injury.

Well, naturally Claire has to help him, even if he did threaten to kill her. Jamie doesn’t understand why she doesn’t just let him die, and Claire tells him it’s because she’s a doctor now, and has spent years trying to save lives. Claire runs to the apothecary to get supplies, while Jamie is trying not to get caught by Sir Percival for smuggling some extra casks of whiskey and bourbon, and creme de menthe, (of the latter, they have loads of, because Scots don’t drink creme de menthe.)

Fergus and young Ian manage to sell off the smuggled goods at a fair price, and Fergus gives Young Ian advice on how to make love to the pretty tavern maid. Yi Tien Cho helps Claire with the surgery, but her patient dies, which she is fairly upset about. She also discovers that Jamie lies to Ian and Jenny about where their son runs away to.

The dead man gets stowed away in the creme de menthe, and Claire has another patient to attend to: a man named Campbell, whose sister is mentally ill. Once again Claire gets another taste of the backward 18th century, which doesn’t really have any experience in treating such ailments, except to keep them silenced.

Meanwhile, Ian gets lucky in the back of Uncle Jamie’s print shop, only to be interrupted by a man hired by Sir Percival, who is looking for the stuff that Jamie smuggled. They fight and Sir Percival’s man discovers Jamie’s flyers, which proves that Jamie is a traitor to the crown.

During the struggle, the shop is set on fire. There is a harrowing moment where Jamie goes in to rescue him, and Claire is afraid for both of their lives. Jamie says they will return young Ian to Lallybroch, and Fergus is shocked that Claire doesn’t know about Jamie’s other wife. His what?!

My thoughts?

This whole episode just irritated me. I suppose there will be bumps along the road, (I mean, if there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a story.) But c’mon Jamie?!

“Oh, by the way, Claire, my love…I’m already married?” Sigh. Double sigh. Why do men do such stupid things sometimes?!

The good parts of the episode?

  • Well, seeing Claire doing her awesome healing thing is always kind of nice.
  • Having Fergus back into the scene is nice, too. I suppose…and Young Ian. He looked so happy with the tavern maid.

But…sigh. What did you guys think? Think Jamie and Claire will finally work it out?

We shall see! Happy Monday everyone!

Poem: Twenty-nine

About a year ago, I wrote a poem called twenty-eight. Well, this year I am twenty-nine and the world is far from perfect. Was discussing with some friends about what is frustrating for our generation in this day and age, and well, here it is.

Twenty-nine

twenty-nine and almost thirty

life is one long road, often dirty.

find a job to save some dough

then it’s paying bills, school loans you owe

twenty-nine and splitting rent

and if you don’t, money is spent

on food, electric and a car to drive

to get to work, to stay alive

Those houses you imagined

with their little white fences

is another lost dream,

in the mountain of expenses

Just for a moment, you’re almost there

then you break a bone, on crappy health care

the road is dirty at twenty-nine

but all the refuse, isn’t mine.

 

Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale: What Did You Think?

Here’s my review of the finale, I forgot to post it last week, oy. It makes me sad that Mike and I won’t have Game of Thrones to watch together on Sundays now! Suffice to say, the Season Seven finale was a whirlwind of emotions. A lot happened or was otherwise confirmed, but it was a bit like going through a checklist; we more or less expected it to happen…but there were a few surprises, too.

If you haven’t watched the finale to Season 7 Game of Thrones, beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

First, a quick recap:

Cersei and Dany’s entourages meet at the dragonpit and there were a few reunions worth mentioning: Brienne and the Hound, The Hound and his brother, Bronn and Tyrion, and Tyrion and Pod.

The Hound releases the wight and everyone seems to be quite terrified, except for Qyburn who is more intrigued than anything else. Cersei agrees to help Jon in the North, if he does not align himself with anyone else.

Jon’s honor puts him in a tough place, though, and he tells Cersei that he’s already pledged himself to Dany. Cersei, naturally, storms off and the tentative parlay they all have breaks to a million pieces. Tyrion meets with Cersei, and somehow convinces her to join the cause; he also finds out she is pregnant.

Euron Greyjoy sees the dead man and leaves to go back to the Iron Islands. Cersei says she will help Dany and Jon in the North, but she plans to double cross them. She tells Jaime about her plans with Euron to bring the Golden Company from Essos. Jaime believes they should keep their word, she threatens to kill him, and he leaves her once and for all.

The Starks team together to get rid of Little Finger, Dany and Jon have hot boat sex, and Bran confirms that Jon is not a bastard, he is the heir to the Iron Throne. Sam shows up at Winterfell to help confirm that Jon’s parents were indeed married in a secret ceremony in Dorne.

The dead march on Eastwatch and the Night King uses dead Viserion to bring down the wall. Arya and Sansa talk about how the lone wolf dies but the pack survives, and the dead march south towards the living.

Some things worth noting:

  •  Dany is pretty much the queen of entrances. She arrives to the meeting at the Dragonpit on Drogon and Cersei’s expression is just priceless.
  • The interaction between Brienne and the Hound about Arya is sweet.
  • Ew, did they recycle Viserys old wig? I thought Rhaegar Targaryen was supposed to be hott?
  • Do you think that was Kit Harington’s real butt in the Jon/Dany sex scene?
  • We know Jon’s real name:  it’s Aegon Targaryen!
  • Little Finger actually cries and begs for his life. Don’t mess with the Starks, yo. And finally Bran told them everything! About damn time, don’t you think? This was a great scene and excellent writing and acting from everyone.
  • Was that blue fire from undead Viserion? Or ice? Blue ice? The wall coming down was pretty epic, but the whole time I was screaming: run, Tormund, run!
  • I was feeling about twelve emotions watching the Jon and Dany love scene. This is incest…but it’s hott. Wait, they are related…but it’s kind of sweet, and hott. Curiosity…confusion…and ew factor…but they are both beautiful people…

What did you guys think? Ready to wait forever for season eight?!

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Recap: What Do Think Will Happen in the Finale?

This review is going to be a little different from the others. I’ve written a short recap about last week’s episode, but I also wanted to think about what might happen in tonight’s finale. (And if anyone does know for sure, please no spoilers!)

Will Arya do something to Sansa? What will happen between Jon Snow and Dany? Will Bran finally tell all? (God, let’s hope so!)

As I recap Episode 6: Beyond the Wall…Beware, Spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO.

A lot of entertaining stuff happened last episode…but then again, a lot of implausible stuff happened as well. Jon Snow and company finally catch a wight, but not before Jon kills another White Walker. Jon Snow and company learn that if you kill a White Walker, you also kill the dead men that it has turned.

Tormund and the Hound exchange some very amusing dialogue about how Tormund loves Brienne and wants to make “monster babies” with her. The Beyond-the-Wall-Avengers all encounter a dead polar bear, which eventually results in the death of Thoros, the red priest. After their wight shrieks like one of the Nazgul from Lord of the Rings, they find themselves in the middle of a frozen lake all surrounded by the dead men.

Jon sees no way out, except for sending ravens for help, and if you thought that Gendry was going to have some kind of epic scene with this war hammer, you were sadly mistaken. He runs to the wall for help, which only happens to be a convenient jog away.

Dany shows up a few days later, and although its awesome to see her dragons burn the dead, the Night King still gets his last revenge. He kills Viserion, one of the dragons, and turns it into one of the undead. Dany is forced to leave Jon Snow behind to save the rest of her dragons.

Arya confronts Sansa about the letter, (the one where Sansa supposedly betrays the starks.) Sansa discovers what Arya has been doing with the faceless men. It is clear that Little Finger has done a good job to sow doubt between the two of them.

The King in the North escapes death again with the help of an undead Uncle Benjen. Dany sees Jon’s stab wounds. He apologizes to her about the loss of her dragon and feels very bad about it, considering her heartbreak. He names her his Queen and says he’ll bend the knee, but you know, he can’t, because he’s laying down…

Sansa is invited to King’s Landing (we are assuming because of the parlay with Dany, the wight and crew,) but considering what happened to her when she was last there…she has no desire to return. She sends Brienne in her place.

What about the implausible?

Considering we are in a fictional world with dragons, White Walkers, and Dothraki…everything is implausible, but did Game of Thrones finally go too far?

  • It seems that everyone in Game of Thrones has the ability to teleport…(although, not taking time from the story for travel does have advantages.)
  • Setting Gendry up to be part of the battle, only to have him run for help seems a bit of a let down.
  • Getting trapped on a frozen lake with no way out except for Dany to fly north and rescue them, seems a bit out of character for Jon…and implausible. They would have frozen to death on that lake before she arrived.
  • The side story between Arya and Sansa is tiresome. We’ve watched them both overcome so many trials…only to squabble like siblings jealous of the other.

What do I want to happen in tonight’s episode?

  • I want Bran to finally reappear and be like to Arya and Sansa: Yo, Little Finger is leading you guys on. And by the way Jon: Dany is your aunt.
  • Although the incest level is high, I want more scenes with Dany and Jon. It seems like at this point, the two are destined to be together in some way.
  • I want to see more history of the White Walkers, preferably from Bran-vision, (although this is unlikely.)
  • I want to see Cersei die…although, not sure how I feel about this. But as far as super-villains go, I hope she gets a great death.
  • I want to see all the Starks reunite. A Jon and Arya reunion, especially.

With the show drawing to a close after the eighth season, I’m starting to wonder if there is time to get all the answers we’ve been waiting for. We’ve trusted the writers to give us a satisfactory ending, but after this latest episode..I’m starting to have my doubts. Where are they going with this?

What are your thoughts? What would you like to see? (No spoilers, if you actually know!)

Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 5 Recap & Review: Eastwatch

I forgot to write my review for Game of Thrones last week…so here’s a recap/review to get ready for tonight’s episode.

Although, there wasn’t as much action compared to the previous episode, there were still a lot of plot twists. 

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

Well, Jamie lives! Big surprise there, eh?  He and Bronn manage to swim further on down the river. Jaime tells him they need to get to King’s Landing to inform Cersei about the dragons.

Meanwhile, Dany offers the Lannister army a choice: bend the knee or die. Many start to bend the knee, except for Randyll and Dickon Tarly. They will not serve Daenerys, because she is a foreign queen and she did not grow up in Westeros.  She turns Drogon on them and after they are burnt to ashes, the rest of the Lannister army falls to their knees.

Dany shows up at Dragonstone and Jon Snow is there to meet her. Drogon allows Jon to pet his face, and it almost looks like Dany is going to swoon. Does this mean that the dragon can sense Jon’s parentage? Also, Jorah arrives at Dragonstone and Dany is very pleased to see him.

Tyrion and Varys drink wine and ponder if Daenerys is as bad as her father. Jon gets a message from Winterfell, and although he is shocked that Arya and Bran are alive, he doesn’t have time to feel joy. Bran saw a vision of the army of the dead marching towards Eastwatch.

Dany doesn’t want to help Jon, because she is afraid if she leaves, Cersei will march in and take back everything she has gained. Tyrion offers a different solution, by way of proof. Bring one of the dead men to Cersei, convince her the dead men are real and she will then join the fight against the Night King, and come to a temporary truce.

Ser Davos manages to smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing. Bronn tricks Jaime into meeting with the dwarf, and although Jaime doesn’t wish to speak with him, Tyrion tells him about the army of the dead and Jaime relays their plan to Cersei.

Although Cersei recognizes that they are vastly outnumbered and that a parlay with the dragon queen might be in their best interest, she still delivers this wonderful quote: “Dead men, dragons and dragon queens, whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it.” She tells Jaime she is pregnant and that they must fight this war the way their father did. What, sneakily?

While Tyrion is off meeting with Jaime, Ser Davos finds Gendry working as a blacksmith in the streets of King’s Landing. Ser Davos jokes to us fan’s delight, “thought you might still be rowing.” Gendry joins the fight and tells Jon Snow exactly who he is when they meet. He tells him he is very handy with a war hammer, and the instant bro-mance between them is entertaining.

Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Arya is being fooled by Little Finger who is trying to sow discord between the two Stark sisters. He sneaks around the castle, has quiet conversations and basically looks like he is up to no good.  Arya finds the message that Sansa was forced to write by Cersei after Ned was beheaded. It looks to Arya, (who doesn’t know Sansa was forced to write it) that her sister has betrayed her family.

In Old Town, Gilly reads from an old manuscript and asks Sam what an annulment is. After Sam tells her, she reads that the Maester who wrote the manuscript performed a secret annulment and a marriage for a Rhaegar Targaryen in Dorne. This is big news to us, but Sam cuts her off mid-sentence. Does this mean that Jon’s parents were actually married?

Sam is fed up with the lack of response from the Maesters in regards to the Night King. Instead of waiting for them to act, he steals manuscripts from the restricted section of the library and he, Gilly and baby Sam leave Old Town.

Jon arrives at Eastwatch, with Jorah Mormont, Ser Davos and Gendry, but they are not one of the only ones with plans to go beyond the wall to catch one of the dead men. Tormund leads them to a cell where the Hound, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros say they are there to go beyond the wall because their Lord told them too.

All the men establish that most of them hate the other, but Jon insists that they must work together because they are all on the same side against the Night King. The episode ends with the north-meets-the-avengers group heading out into the white beyond the wall.

What was the best part about this episode?

What to choose, really?

  • Jon petting Drogon.
  • Tyrion and Jaime meeting.
  • Gendry popping up out of nowhere. That “still rowing” comment. His war hammer. Jon and Gendry’s budding bro-mance.
  • Jorah returning to Dany, only to leave her again.
  • Tormund asking about Brienne.

Dislikes?

  • Arya being led on by Little Finger
  • Cersei’s pregnancy; really Jaime? She’s toxic!
  • The outrageous plan to bring a dead man beyond the wall…or is it genius? I’m really not sure.

What do you guys think? (No spoilers please! I read somewhere that tonight’s episode had leaked…)

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 Review: Spoils of War

I know I’ve been writing a lot of Game of Thrones reviews, lately, but I can’t resist getting caught up in the hype of it all. I don’t often write reviews, because I usually don’t have the time, but with a lot of characters finally reuniting on-screen after seven long years, well, some things just need to be talked about.

Beware, Spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

It seemed like last night’s episode ‘Spoils of War’ was going to be a filler episode, but I don’t think that any episode qualifies as a filler when we are so close to the end.

I think we should just go ahead and name this season, Arya Stark’s season. Everything great that has happened so far has somehow involved this hardy, young woman. Last Sunday brought us its best reunion yet: Arya finally arrives home!

The episode starts out in High Garden. Bronn and Jaime talk about money, and Jaime looks like he is already tired of war. Bronn questions him about it, and it seems the King Slayer is still upset about learning who killed Joffrey.

Cersei gets another visit by the Iron Bank, and reassures them that they will get their money; Lannisters always pay their debts. Bran is visited by Little Finger, who gives him a Valyrian steel dagger. Little Finger seems to think this is a nice gesture, (you know, because he is a notorious kiss-ass,) but the significance is lost on Bran, who knows Little Finger’s dirtiest secrets already. Bran ends their conversation by quoting Little Finger’s own words back at him.

Meera tells Bran she is leaving, and once again we are reminded that Bran is no longer the Bran that we used to know. She feels heartbroken and betrayed when he shows little emotion at her news.

Arya finally shows up at Winterfell, but the guards at the entrance don’t believe her when she tells them who she is. We are reminded of a scene that happened in season one, when she is a little girl and tries to get back into the Red Keep after she is out chasing cats. From the beginning, Arya never tried to be the Lady she was meant to be, and now she has really come full circle.

The reunion between her and Sansa is both heartwarming and awkward, as Sansa doesn’t know what to believe when Arya mentions her kill list. It looks like she doesn’t believe it is real, until Bran mentions it as well. Bran gives Arya the dagger that Little Finger gifted to him.

And here we come to probably the best part of the episode. Arya asks Brienne to train with her and I feel like this is an Arya moment we’ve been waiting for from the first time she tried to become No One. Here she finally gets to show off her skills and strength; this young Stark is much more powerful than she appears.

Meanwhile, in Dragonstone, Jon shows Dany the cave of dragon glass, which conveniently has cave drawings of white-walkers. These illustrations of the undead give Jon Snow another opportunity to reiterate his statement that Dany needs to help him or they will all die if they can’t defeat the Night King.

Dany holds true to her own convictions. Sure, she will help him, she says, “if he bends the knee.” It’s clear from their body language that they are both aware of each other, but as for romance, “there’s no time for that,” insists Jon Snow to Ser Davos.

Dany exchanges girl talk with Missandei, who is worried about Grey Worm. Theon Greyjoy arrives on the last ship that survived Euron’s attack, and Jon comes very close to killing him, but he holds back because of what Theon did for Sansa.

Theon is at Dragonstone to ask help from Daenerys to get Yara back, but she is not there. Dany and her Dothraki hoarde have gone to High Garden and there is a battle with the Lannister army there, or rather it is a slaughter. Dany’s dragon, Drogon, burns the soldiers and it is a horrific, and impressive CGI display of the dragon’s power.

Bronn manages to wound the dragon with the weapon that Qyburn made; and in the heat of the moment, Jaime charges at Dany with every attempt to kill her, but he is pushed out-of-the-way at the last moment before Drogon’s flames can burn him.

The Highlights?

Um, where to begin?

  • Arya’s return home and reunion with family.
  • Remembering Jon Snow in a cave with another woman, not so long ago. What is it with Jon Snow and caves? He will win Dany over yet, just see if he doesn’t.
  • Bran basically scaring Little Finger shitless.
  • The dragons burning things…and um, people.
  • Dany flying on the dragon and burning things.
  • That cliffhanger ending – cause, um, Jaime can’t die that way. He’ll become a captive I’m thinking.

Anyway, what did you guys think? I think this was the best episode of the season yet!

Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 3 Review: The Queen’s Justice

Every Sunday, Mike and I have a routine: at 9 o’clock we settle in front of the TV, (often with ice cream) to tune into Game of Thrones. It’s a love we both share. A story line with characters, (compared to some) that we have become deeply invested in. So, with many character’s story lines finally coming together with others…suffice to say, every night with Game of Thrones is an important one! I think it goes without saying:

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo Credit: HBO

It was so strange seeing Daenerys and Jon Snow in the same room together! She looks powerful, beautiful and queen-like. He looks like a Northerner, bulky in furs, hair unkempt, and tired of politics. But who do you think won the room?

It’s hard to say, really.  Missandei lists out Daenerys’ names and even we’re tired of hearing them. Davos Seaworth retaliates with an awkward, “This is Jon Snow…King of the North.”

It’s clear that Jon is out of his element, but he is also the Jon Snow that we love best, the one who stays true to his convictions. He was trusted to rule the north by the men who named him king and that’s exactly what he’s going to do…even if it means facing a queen who at first looks too big for her britches.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Dany…but with this meeting, I felt myself turning on her. How dare she look down her nose at our beloved Jon Snow? How dare she remind him again and again that she is the ruler of the seven kingdoms, when there are clearly other things to be worried about. White walkers, for instance?

It’s funny how quickly our loyalties change when it comes to characters. However, she does grant him access to the dragon glass on Dragonstone, which is a nice gesture. Doesn’t really seem like these two will start coupling up anytime soon, but it seems like a start, at least.

Tyrion gets some great screen time in this episode. He becomes mediator between the two, especially when Jon refuses to “bend the knee” when asked. Daenerys questions Tyrion, “you told me you liked this man?”

Varys is quick to notice that Melisandre didn’t rush to Jon’s side when he and Davos arrive and she casually reveals that her and Jon Snow didn’t part on good terms, and that she will return to die in Westeros just like Varys. Something she saw in the flames perhaps?

Meanwhile, in Old Town, Sam is both praised but not really rewarded for curing Jorah’s greyscale. Jorah, who feels lucky to have escaped death once again, reveals his plans to head back to Dany’s side. I mean, what a shocker, really. I can’t imagine how he would fit into her entourage anymore. She has Tyrion now and Jorah just feels like a third wheel at this point.

Theon Greyjoy is scooped up by survivors of Euron’s attack, but they pretty much call him a coward, because he is. Also, an unexpected and beautiful meeting happens between Sansa and Bran, who’s finally arrived back at Winterfell.

But he is much changed from the Bran she knew. He tells her how sorry he is about her marriage to Ramsay, and she seems startled by how much he knows and for bringing up such a terrible memory. He is the three-eyed Raven now and it is difficult to explain to her what that means.

Sansa seems to be enjoying her new-found power as Lady of Winterfell by making plans for the long winter, but it’s the words of Little Finger that she still continues to hang on to. Does anyone else want to punch this man in the throat every time he speaks?!

Grey Worm and his fellow Unsullied take Casterly Rock, but it’s not really a victory. The Lannister army is in Highgarden, home of the Tyrells. And Euron’s ships destroy most of the Unsullied fleet.

Suffice to say, Cersei was pleased with the gift that Euron presented to her: Ellaria Sand and her daughter. She poisons Ellaria’s daughter and locks them both in a room together. Ellaria’s punishment is to watch her daughter die and rot in front of her.

Whoa. And here we thought Cersei was done for at the end of Season 6 when we saw all of Dany’s ships sailing for Westeros! Cersei might still be the super bitch in town, but Dany has dragons. Time to use them, I’m thinking?

But alas, it was Olenna Tyrell who really got the last word in this episode. After taking Highgarden, Jaime grants her a merciful death: poison in a glass of wine. But after chugging the poison, she looks him in the eye and reveals that she was the one who orchestrated Joffrey’s death and she doesn’t regret it one bit!

It made me sad to say goodbye to this character. Every time she was on the screen you were bound to laugh out loud or gasp at all the excellent lines she got to deliver. She was the spunky, not-afraid-to-speak-her-mind grandma that we all came to love…and I will miss seeing her very much.

She deserved a better send off than an off-screen death, but she went down fighting! And that’s what matters.

The highlights of this episode?

  • It goes without saying, really. Every scene between Dany and Jon Snow was a loaded one and seven years in the making. We want more of any type of scene with them together!
  • Bran and Sansa reunion, although bittersweet as it was. Bran is not the same Bran from the first season who liked to climb. How cute and sweet he was then!
  • Olenna Tyrell’s confession to Jaime.

What did you guys think of this episode? Who were you rooting for in the Dany/Jon Snow meeting? 

Our Vacation Out West Part 3: Zion National Park, The Emerald Pools

On our vacation this year, Mike and I played the license plate game. We made a list of all 50 states and checked off all the license plates we saw on our drive out to Utah. The only state besides Hawaii we couldn’t collect was Rhode Island, and guess which state’s license plate we saw last night in the Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot around here?!

From New York to Utah, we saw 48 license plates, not including Hawaii and Rhode Island. (RI was our holy grail of license plates until last night). We also saw two Canadian plates and one from Mexico. It was fun and it was exciting and it passed the time. I wish I was back on that road trip, seeing sights that I have never seen before.

This post is about three weeks late, but it is fun to reminisce on the fun times we had. Hey, if you missed part 1 and part 2 of our vacation you can click on the links to view them.

This was probably the best time I have ever had…and I’m trying to find another vacation to compare, but I really can’t.

After about two and a half days of driving, Mike and I made it to our KOA in Cedar City, Utah. The campgrounds are about an hour away from Zion National Park. The tent sites were very close together and at first I didn’t like it at all but then I shook myself a bit. I was on vacation! Why was I complaining?

We got our tent up very quickly, and it was really all a matter of getting dinner for the night and going to bed.

We found a diner about two minutes down the road from the KOA, called “All American Diner.” Anytime Mike and I can find a great diner, with good, cheap food, we call it a special treat.

The next day we headed to Zion National Park. The first day, we hiked the emerald pools trail, which was about a 5 mile round trip. A good portion of it was climbing up hill; I wasn’t prepared to climb it in about 110 degree heat. We took plenty of water and had our snacks, but the heat, man.

When we got back to the car that first day, the car’s thermometer registered 117 degrees!But while hiking, you’re walking up sand that’s so hot you can feel the heat burn through your sneakers. The sun beats down on your hat covered head and you long for shade, like you long for cold water when your throat is dry and your tongue feels thick.

That’s also what makes the pools you see on this hike so special; it is like a small oasis in the middle of this desert climate, but the hike is more difficult the higher up you go.

The trail becomes steeper, narrower; the shade trees are a little bit more sparse. I was struggling to catch my breath in the heat and wondered if it was all worth it. And then you come around a bend in the trail and that view. That. View. For one delicious, corny second, you feel like you are the only person on earth, and this view was made just for you. Now, mind you, I am a very easily entertained person…so that might have something to do with it. But, seriously, guys. If you can’t appreciate a view like this and call it nothing less than phenomenal, there’s something wrong with you.

This is the second pool, about two-thirds of the way up the trail.

At the very top of the trail, were these squirrels that kept hanging around, hoping for some snacks or trail mix. It’s $100 fine to feed the animals in the park, but kids can’t resist…not very often you have wild animals hanging around near your feet, and trying to climb into your backpack.

And if you make it to the very top, there is a larger pool of water at the very top. It looks like a small beach in the middle of the mountains. If you were allowed to swim in it, if there weren’t so many people trying to catch their breath, it might have felt more magical. But by that time, I think the heat had really done Mike and I in.

Afterwards, we got food at the park and then headed back to our campsite. The further we got from Zion, thankfully, the cooler it became. A 99 degrees felt practically chilly compared to 110…kinda. Not really. But what fun we had!

Next day, we hiked the Narrows! And then after that, the Grand Canyon.