The Homestead Crater

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Utah has some of the most unique scenery and destinations in the world and the Homestead Crater is no exception. It’s located in Midway, Utah, which is a short distance from Park City. The Crater is a geothermal spring 55 feet below the hole at ground level. You can tour the crater, soak in the mineral water that remains at a temperature between 90-96 degrees, or dive to the bottom.

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The crater is one of the most unique diving destinations in the world not only because it is a high altitude dive, but it is also the only warm diving destinations in the United States. I completed my open water scuba diving certification here and had a great experience. I am a baby when it comes to cold water, I even shiver in pools, so the water temperature was amazing. It might be a little warm for the summer but would be perfect the rest of the year. (We didn’t mean for the picture below to turn out as awkward as it did, but I thought it was too funny not to share!)

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You have to have a reservation in order to do an activity at the crater. You can stop by for the day or you can make a weekend out of it and stay at the homestead resort. There is also a really cool place right across the street called Zermatt, which is a Swiss themed resort.  You can make reservations through either site:

http://homesteadresort.com/ or https://zermattresort.com/

Go check it out!

What I hope we remember this Veteran’s Day

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I sat in front of a beautiful wooden casket draped in the American Flag as the three volley salute was performed by our local American Legion members. Many of whom were neighbors, lifelong friends, and fellow farmers who had served their country so long ago, but took pride in honoring those who had also served. The sound of taps seemed to travel over our small quiet community.

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Two Airmen sent from Hill Air Force Base saluted one final time before perfectly folding the flag 13 times. As they presented the flag the profoundness of the words resonated with all of us: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service.”

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May this Veteran’s Day we remember those who have sacrificed and served; past, present, and future. May we also think of the loved ones on the receiving end of that perfectly folded American Flag.

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I hope we remember this Veterans Day that regardless of your political views, or whether the candidate you voted for won the election or not, we are blessed to live in a free country. Our freedoms are a privilege, not a God given right, and those freedoms are thanks to the men and women who have sacrificed and served our country, many giving the ultimate sacrifice.

In loving memory of Brent Howard

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Photography: Blake Harrison, Insta: @blake_w_harrison

 



Cinque Terre!

Cinque Terre

The last leg of my Europe trip from Barcelona & Rome was to Cinque Terre. We took the train from Rome to La Spezia for about 55 euros. Book your ticket in advance if you can. We showed up to the train station early and had to wait for a later departure because the earlier ones were sold out. It took us about 6 hours to get there and we switched trains three times, but the views as you are going through the Tuscan wine country are amazing!

Portovenere – We stayed in an Air bnb in La Spezia. Our host told us to spend our first evening in Portovenere. You can take the public bus to get there for next to nothing. If I didn’t know I was in Italy I would have thought I was on a Caribbean island. The steep hillsides overlooking the ocean were so similar to what you see in places like the Virgin Islands. We had dinner at a pizza place and then sat on the rocks and watched the ocean for a while. Then we explored the rest of the town square. There are shops, restaurants, and plenty of amazing lookouts. This place is a hidden gem!

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Cinque Terre – Is on the coast of the Italian Riviera and is made up of five village towns: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. You can get the Cinque Terre Card which will allow you to ride the train between towns as much as you want. You can also hike between the villages and the views are unreal. Just be prepared because its a steep hike and it’s very humid. We hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza and it took us a couple hours. We only made it to these three towns:

Monterosso al Mare – Is the last of the five villages on the strip. There is a tunnel that connects the “old town” and the “new town”. It is the only village that has a large beach area so it does get really busy with tourists. This village has the most restaurants, shops, and hotels. The Monterosso Giant is at the end of the beach, the statue has lost its arms due to time and the ocean, but it is still pretty cool.

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Vernazza – This is the village with the trademark postcard image. As you make the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza the view of the colorful town is beautiful. Vernazza has only a small piece of beach, but you can jump off the end of the walkway and swim in the ocean. There were also some really cool restaurants hillside overlooking the ocean.

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Corniglia – If you go to this village be prepared to climb the thousands of stairs to the top. We stopped here after a really long day and we were exhausted by the time we got to the top. At least we burned off some of those pizza and gelato calories. This town isn’t as popular with the tourists, but there are still plenty of restaurants and look out points, so it is a good one to go to if you want a peaceful evening.

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Cinque Terre was a great way to end the trip. We were able to see some of the prettiest views of the country and relax on the beach. This destination truly fits all ages and I would highly recommend it!

 

 


A day in Rome!

Rome – Leg 2 of my European adventure

Following my time in Barcelona I flew to Rome to meet up with a friend. I got in late so I really only had time to have dinner and get a good nights sleep before packing the whole city in to one day. We were absolutely exhausted by the end of the day, but it can be done!

Vatican City:

We started out the day by visiting the Vatican. This was my favorite part of the day! I grew up near the headquarters of the LDS church, so it was awesome to experience it with the Catholic religion. St. Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are the most amazing architectural and artistic buildings you could imagine. You could spend hours here. Remember you need to be modest in order to go inside. We were there in July so it was very hot outside. I packed a shawl with me in my bag and covered my shoulders up with it. The Vatican is something everyone should experience.

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Pincian Hill:

You can overlook the city of Rome from Pincian Hill. This view overlooks the Piazza del Popolo, which is one of the many locations used in the movie Angels and Demons. It was also used for public executions until the last one in 1826. We took a break for quite a while here overlooking the city.

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Pantheon:

The Pantheon is something everyone should see. It’s of the oldest preserved roman temples, finished around 120 AD, originally built as a temple to the Gods. Now it has been turned in to a church. To this day it has the largest unsupported dome in the world with the hole in the top called the Eye of the Pantheon.

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Piazza Navona:

This area of Rome has fountains, restaurants, gelato shops, and performances. It also has the Fountain of the Four Rivers. This fountain represents the four major rivers and the four continents known at the time: The Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Rio de la Plata representing the Americas.

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Trevi Fountain:

Most people have seen the Trevi Fountain before in movies. If you can plan your day out you should try to see it at night. The teal blue water in front of the stone lit up is beautiful. Remember to throw a coin in the fountain because legend says it means you will return to Rome.

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The Colosseum:

You can’t go to Rome without seeing the Colosseum. It was our last stop of the day and we were completely exhausted but it was worth it. We didn’t go inside since it was dark, but I will be sure to have that top on my list the next time I go.

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Need to know:

  • You can get to everything by walking or taking the metro. Be prepared to walk ALOT!
  • Rome is very crowded, make sure you keep your valuables out of reach.
  • The food is delicious! Eat pizza and gelato every chance you get. Don’t worry you will walk all of your calories off!
  • Learn a few basic Italian words before you go. This will definitely help when ordering in restaurants and what not.
  • You can drink out of some fountains in Rome. On a hot day this comes in handy!
  • If you take a train, make sure you get your tickets stamped before you get on the train, you can find the stampers on the wall. A local told us if you don’t do this and they check your ticket on the train they may try to charge you.

I would suggest spending a couple of days in Rome so you can spend enough time enjoying the city. Safe Travels!


Barcelona!

Barcelona – Leg 1 of my European adventure 

While I have traveled all over the Caribbean soaking up the sun, I had never traveled to Europe. To be honest, it was not really at the top of my list, and now I can’t wait to go back!

I arrived in Barcelona around 2 in the afternoon, leaving myself some time to get some activities in. I had just missed the Feast of Sant Joan the night before. In Catalunya they celebrate the summer solstice by having fireworks, fires on the beach, and parties that go all night. I heard that it is a great time if you are ever able to be there during the holiday. Due to the holiday Barcelona was pretty quiet so we walked around and saw the Cathedral of Barcelona, rowed a boat around Citadel Park, and saw the Arch del Triumf.

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The next day we did all of the tourist attractions: Park Quell, La Sagrada Familia and the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Barcelona is famous for their architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi. His designs are so unique you will never see anything else like it.

Park Guell is a colorful park designed by Gaudi that overlooks the city of Barcelona. It is a must see in my opinion. If you know what day you are going you should get tickets online. They only allow so many people in to the colorful mosaic part at a time, so having a ticket will help you avoid waiting for potentially several hours. You can go everywhere else in the park for free, but it does involve a lot of walking and climbing up stairs so be prepared for that.

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La Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church also designed by Gaudi that has been under construction since 1882. There are so many details inside and out of this church you could spend hours here. Definitely something you have to see in person! It costs about 30 euros to go inside.

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Barcelona Magic Fountain of Montjuic: We finished our day by watching the sunset at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Shortly after the sun sets the fountain show begins. I was surprised at how impressive the show was. It’s like Europe’s version of the Bellagio water show only with colors as well. The show only runs April through October and Thursday through Sunday.

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A few other highlights of Barcelona: we went to the beach, watched the Euro Cup, and visited the Columbus Monument.  The beach was really crowded and you have to be sure not to leave your things unattended because people will take it, but a beach is a beach. Watching the Euro Cup was a blast! I have never been a soccer fan but I have officially been converted after experiencing it in Europe. The Christopher Columbus Monument is a fun stop if you have extra time.

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What I would do if I had more time in Barcelona: I would go to Montserrat. It is a Benedictine Munk Mountain Retreat. It’s not only religious and historical, but the views look amazing.

What I liked about Barcelona:

  • There is so much history in Spain. The buildings and monuments are very old but they have preserved everything.
  • The people are chill, I never once felt unsafe.
  • There is a great night life, the clubs and bars are open pretty much all night.
  • You can get whatever you want for food, you are not stuck to just one type.

Need to know:

  • Convert your cash in to Euro’s. It’s easiest to pay at restaurants and tourist attractions with cash and it will have to be in Euro’s.
  • Good luck finding a public bathroom, and when you do you will likely have to pay 1 or 2 euro’s.
  • Pack comfortable shoes, you are going to be walking a lot!
  • Take some sort of small bag with you and be careful with your stuff. Make sure your wallet or phone are not in your pocket because there is a chance you will get pick pocketed.
  • Plan for the weather. I went in the middle of the summer and we melted everyday. I’ve heard the winter with the humidity can also be freezing.
  • You can get around pretty well without speaking Spanish, but knowing some basic Spanish would definitely help.
  • You can get around everywhere you need to by walking, taking the bus, or the metro.

I hope you enjoy Barcelona as much as I did. Safe Travels!


 

 

Lake Powell – Triple Surfer Attempt

 

 

 

What to see in D.C.

I recently took a last minute red eye to Washington D.C. to visit a friend serving as an intern for Senator Mike Lee. I didn’t go on my high school senior trip to the Nation’s Capitol, because I wanted to save the money for college tuition. I said that I would go back and see it myself once I graduated from college, so I made good on that promise to myself!

I only had three full days in D.C., but I feel like I got almost everything in that I wanted to see. Here is DC in three days:

Day 1 – United States Capitol Tour

I went straight from the airport to the United States Capitol Building so that my friend could give me a tour while she was at work. It was amazing!! There are so many fascinating rooms, statues, and artwork that are full of history. There are underground tunnels, and even a train that connects the House and the Senate buildings together. If the legislature is in session you can go in and watch, which we were able to do.

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The original Supreme Court room was one of my favorites. Standing in a room where our founding fathers made such historical decisions for our country is a rare experience. I also really enjoyed the Rotunda, which is the tallest part of the capitol. It’s a circular room filled with historical paintings and statues, the corridors connect the House of Representatives side and the Senate side.

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You can get tickets ahead of time at this website: https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/book-tour-capitol or you can get tickets through your local Representative or Senator’s office.

2. Smithsonian and the Mall

I was determined that I was going to see all of the monuments in one day while my friend was at work. I started out at the Smithsonian, but had to pick which museums to see, because I couldn’t get them all in. I went to Natural History, American History, and Air and Space.

The Natural History Museum is great for kids, but I went through it pretty quickly. The American History Museum was probably my favorite. There is a wide range of exhibits from the first American Flag, to war memorabilia, to dresses of the first ladies. I also really enjoyed the Air and Space Museum. This museum is great for kids and adults.

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I had lunch in the American History Museum cafeteria and I wish I would have waited. There was tons of foods trucks on my walk from the Smithsonian to the Washington Memorial. I wanted to go inside the Washington Memorial, but when I got there I found out you need to get tickets months in advance online or show up at 7:30 am to get tickets. Good to know for future reference.

The World War II Monument is in between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It is a new monument that opened in 2004. It has 56 pillars in remembrance of those who served from the 48 states at the time and other territories.

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You walk past the reflection pool on the way to the Lincoln Memorial. The view from the front steps of the Lincoln Memorial is amazing with the Washington Monument reflecting in the pool. It was really busy when I was there but completely worth it.

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I then rode the metro to Arlington National Cemetery and was able to watch the last changing of the guards for the day. It was a humbling experience and something everyone should witness in honor of those who never made it home while protecting our freedom.

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3. White House Spring Garden Tour

Hailee was able to get us White House Spring Garden Tickets. There are a couple of times a year when they open the gates to the White House and you are able to go up past the front door. We were evacuated across the street once for a suspicious package/bomb threat, but the secret service swept the area and we were allowed back in. If you are there at a time you can get your hands on these tickets I would highly suggest it otherwise you can only see the White House across the street.

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After the White House we went to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. This is a monument that doesn’t attract as much attention as the Lincoln Memorial, but was definitely worth the visit.

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We then went to FDR’s Memorial, which ended up being my favorite! It walks you through his four terms as president and spotlights his accomplishments during some of our nations most difficult times.

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The places we ate that I would recommend:

Kramers Books – http://kramers.com/ This is a book store that has a restaurant in the back of it. The food was great and we looked around the bookstore while waiting for a table. Loved the downtown atmosphere.

Founding Farmers – http://www.wearefoundingfarmers.com/ This restaurant is unique in the farm to table concept supporting the small American farmers. The food was great and there was a broad selection. You will need to make a reservation to get in, especially on a weekend.

Teds – www.tedsbulletin.com We ate here for a brunch on Saturday morning and it was amazing! I would highly recommend it as a breakfast place. It was packed so I would recommend making a reservation.

A couple things I would do differently or see next time: 

  1. Get tickets in advance to go inside the Washington Monument.
  2. Get tickets and see the Holocaust Museum.
  3. Buy one metro pass and put money on it instead of paying for the cards each time.
  4. Wear better shoes! You walk alot!
  5. Go to the Newseum.

Metro Map:

You should download a copy of the metro map to your phone so that you can figure out where you are going. It took me a minute to figure out what lines I needed to get on in order to get where I wanted to go. Having a picture of the metro helped me immensely!

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Safe travels!


WaNdErLuSt

“A great desire to travel and rove about.”

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How to cruise like a pro!

I recently went on my sixth cruise with Carnival and thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the years. After 5 different departure ports, countless islands, family and friend vacations; I feel like I’ve gotten the process down.

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*Pick your cruise based on your airfare – I’ve traveled on cruises during several different seasons and I’ve always paid around the same price for a 7-8 day cruise. Once I find a few that I’m interested in I monitor the airfare in to the departure port location. This can increase your vacation price immensely depending on your location. Finding cheap airfare is the key to keeping a cruise affordable.

 *Book a flight the day before your cruise leaves – The second cruise I went on we decided to do a red eye flight in to Florida. We were scheduled to arrive at 5:00 am leaving ourselves with plenty of time to make it to the port, right? Wrong! Everything that could possibly go wrong did due to numerous issues. After a long and stressful night we finally made it to Florida with 45 minutes to spare and were some of the last people to get on the cruise ship. Needless to say I will never do a red eye the night before a cruise again, because you have no guarantees of making it there on time! I think it is worth it to get a hotel and enjoy some extra time at your departure port.

*Book the late dining option – The 5 o’clock dining option is too early if you are planning on taking full advantage of the islands. You typically have to be back on the boat around 5. This is when I like to get a good nap in before showering and getting ready for dinner.

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*Pack a few of the necessities in your carry on – On my last cruise I met some people whose luggage was lost and didn’t show up until our first port (2 days later). 99.9% of the time this shouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t want to be one of the .01% of the people this happens to. I usually pack a swimsuit, a tank top, shorts, and a change of clothes. This is also important to do because when you go through customs the cruise line takes your luggage and delivers it to your room later. If you want to hit the pool right away you need to have what you are planning on doing in your carry on. Usually it doesn’t take long for your bags to arrive but sometimes they take a couple of hours.

*What you should pack – You need to make sure you have what you need, but you shouldn’t over pack. Those cruise cabins can be tight especially if you have a few people in your room. Check out 20 Items to pack on a cruise!

*Consider a drink card – There are a couple of different options in the beverage department. If you aren’t planning on drinking too heavily but you’re an avid diet coke fan like me, you should buy the soda card. For a few dollars each day you can buy the soda pass which adds a sticker to your card and allows you to have soda for free. It is worth it if you plan on drinking a soda or two each day.

The other option is the all inclusive drink pass – this is worth it if you plan on partying it up. The cost of buying alcohol can add up really quickly to the point I’ve had friends have $900 alcohol bills when they get off the boat. The only catch is that everyone in your room has to purchase the pass.

You are allowed to bring a bottle of wine per person on with you. Just don’t forget the wine opener.

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*Do your own excursions – I like to look through the options of each island and kind of have an idea of what to do in each port. I haven’t booked an excursion through the cruise line for years. They are often really expensive and put you on a tight time schedule with a bunch of random people from your ship. The one benefit is that they guarantee you will get back to the boat on time even if something happens. I like to find locals that offer the same excursions, this is usually much cheaper, and you have more control over your day. Be smart about it though and leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the boat. They will leave you if you aren’t there! I’ve seen spring breakers sprinting to their boat from Senor Frogs, don’t be those people.

*Take advantage of everything the cruise ship has to offer:

  • Order 2 entrees and every dessert at dinner… anything goes!
  • Attend one of the dance or comedian shows
  • Gamble in the casino
  • Participate in one of the day activities by the pool
  • Stroll through the picture display area – it’s fun to find your pictures
  • Go dancing in the night club
  • Watch the sun come up from the top deck

Mainly, just get out there and get involved. There are so many things you can do to keep yourself entertained. Happy cruising!



20 items to pack on a cruise!

20 Items to pack on a cruise

Aside from your travel documents and typical day to day necessities like undies and toiletries, here is a list of 20 items you should pack for a cruise. You can click on any of the links below to have the items sent  directly to your house.

          1. Swim suits, swim suits, swim suits!
          2. Swim suit covers (sun dresses, shorts, tank tops, etc)
          3. Sunscreen and lip gloss with sunscreen – If you’re like me and coming from Utah in the middle of winter, you need everything to have SPF in it! These are some of my favorites: Coola SunscreenSun Bum SPF 30 Lip Balm
          4. Sunglasses, hats
          5. Flip flops, tennis shoes – I usually just fly in yoga pants and tennis shoes, this way I don’t have to pack them in my suit case.
          6. Light jacket & sweater – It can get chilly at night, or you may have a rainy day.
          7. Exercise clothes – In case that cruise food starts to weigh you down and you decide to take advantage of the on board gym. I always plan on doing this, but am not very diligent with it.
          8. Dresses and nice clothes for dinner – There are two formal nights (you see anything from nice slacks to suits). Don’t over do it for the rest of the nights but dress nice. I like to bring a few items that can mix and match. I usually pack two sets of heels that can go with the outfits I have picked out.
          9.  Aloe Vera – Hopefully you will not need to use this, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
          10. Water Bottle – I am someone that drinks a lot of water everyday. Since you never really know what you are going to have access to on the islands I bring a cheap reusable water bottle with me. Each day before leaving the ship I fill it full of ice and water and take it with me. This way I at least stay hydrated, and save money.
          11. Motion sickness pills – a cruise affects everyone differently. I would suggest buying Bonine Motion Sickness Tablets or Motion Sickness Patch
          12. A small pill container with medications you may need such as antacids, pain medication, Benadryl, etc.
          13. Camera or GoPro
          14. card holder for your sign and sail card
          15. Extra contacts if you wear them
          16. Book to read while laying by the pool at those days at sea
          17. Selfie Stick
          18. Small bag – I take a bag big enough to fit the cruise towel, and a few things with me on the islands. Just don’t lose your towel or they will charge you.
          19. Alarm clock – There are no clocks in the room. You can arrange for a wake up call, but it is nice to have a clock in the room to know what time it is.
          20. Gum – I always bring a couple packs of gum with me, but I’ve heard they don’t sell it on the boat. Could be a rumor, but I’d rather not take the risk of bad breath.

Mainly just try to avoid buying anything on the ship, it is nice to know you have that option if you forget something, but it is very overpriced. Okay, start your packing!