Las Vegas and Southern Utah Vacation Recap

One month ago Jesse and I went on vacation with his siblings, mom, and her side of the family.  There were 15 of us total, and yes, that was a little chaotic (for organizational purposes) at times, but overall, this was such a fun trip.

This post is chock full of pictures – the scenery was too beautiful not to share – plus a little explanation of where we were and what we did…

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We flew out early on a Saturday morning from the MSP airport.

Jesse & Danica - in the airplane - vacation

airplane - vacation

Once we arrived and gathered our things, we met up with some of the family.  We spent that afternoon getting all checked into our condo and relaxing until it was time to get ready to head to the Strip.

We went out for dinner, went to the show, and then walked around for a bit.

If you ever go to Las Vegas, I’d highly recommend seeing the “Mystere” Cirque du Soleil show.  “Amazing” doesn’t even come close to what that show is…I’m still in awe of how strong those people are, and it was most certainly a highlight of being in Vegas.

Welcome to Las Vegas - vacation

Vegas - vacation

Jesse, Spencer, Scott - vegas vacation

Jesse & Danica - vegas vacation

cirque du soleil - vegas - vacation

Jesse & Danica - vegas vacation

Las Vegas Strip - vacation

las vegas vacation at night

vegas strip vacation

Walking around on the Vegas Strip was really cool, though the further into the night it got, the scarier it was.  If you’ve ever been in downtown Chicago, you know what crowded sidewalks are like – multiply that by 2 or 3 and that’s what the Vegas Strip felt like on a Saturday night after 9p.m.  smushed!  We called it a night relatively early and ventured back out on Sunday, which was my birthday!

It was a lot of fun just to walk through each of the different hotels/buildings – the architecture there is unique to each place.  We spent hours on Sunday just strolling by everything.

las vegas strip fountains - vacation

Jesse & Danica - las vegas - vacation

caesar's palace - las vegas - vacation

(inside Caesar’s Palace)

caesar's palace mall - las vegas - vacation

Jesse & Danica - las vegas - birthday dinner - vacation

24th birthday - las vegas - vacation

Everyone made the day so much fun – definitely a birthday to remember!

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On Monday, we loaded up the cars and drove to southern Utah.

vacation site

souther utah - driving, vacation

Before “checking in” to the giant house we rented, we stopped at Zion National Park and hiked up Angel’s Landing.

This hike was my favorite hike of the week!  It was tough but so incredibly rewarding.  What an accomplishment to make it to the very top!

angel's landing - zion national park - vacation

hiking - utah vacation

hiking southern utah vacation

Spencer - hiking - utah vacation

hiking angel's landing - utah vacation

view from angel's landing - vacation

hiking angel's landing - utah vacation

Jesse & Danica - top of Angel's Landing - Utah - vacation

angel's landing - utah vacation

view from Angel's Landing - Utah vacation

group photo - cousins - Utah vacation

top of Angel's Landing - Utah - vacation

We cooled off and relaxed a bit down by a river once we made it back to the bottom.

Zion National Park, Utah - vacation

Jesse & I - hiking - vacation Utah

*****

On Tuesday we were back to Zion to hike some easier trails, which included the Emerald Pools.  I was thankful for this lighter hiking day because my legs were tired from the Angel’s Landing hike!

emerald pools - Utah hiking vacation

hiking - vacation - Utah emerald pools

Jesse - hiking - Zion National Park Utah vacation

emerald pools - utah -vacation hiking spencer

The person wearing red and blue on top of that big rock is my brother-in-law :)

Emerald Pools - Utah vacation hiking

Jesse - utah hiking vacation

family will understand the picture below…long story short, there was a bat hunt in the house we stayed at – everyone had to get creative, but in the end, we won and no one was hurt :)

cousins killed the bat! - Utah vacation

*****

On Wednesday we went horseback riding!!  We rode through Bryce Canyon, and if you ever go to this park, I’d highly recommend doing such a tour.  Not only was it a great way to see a lot of land in one afternoon, but the tour guides are funny and informative – well worth it!  Just beware – there are some really steep edges that you just walk right along, but you quickly learn to trust the horse and enjoy the view.

Horseback riding group - Bryce Utah - vacation

cousins and aunts - utah vacation

horseback riding tour - Bryce Utah - vacation

Bryce Canyon, Utah - vacation

horseback riding tour - bryce canyon, utah - vacation

horseback riding tour - bryce canyon, utah vacation

Bryce Canyon, Utah - horseback riding - vacation

Bryce Canyon, Utah vacation

horseback riding group! - bryce, utah - vacation

*****

Already to Thursday…we were back to Zion National Park to hike one last time!  This time we did the river hike.  And this one made me the most nervous, but it was, again, just beautiful and I highly recommend doing it.  Just make sure not to go if there’s any chance of rain – the river can rise to huge heights in a matter of minutes – be sure to choose a sunny, dry day.

river hiking - utah, vacation

zion national park hiking, utah vacation

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river hiking - utah vacation

utah vacation

river hiking utah vacation

Jesse & Danica - river hike, zion national park, utah - vacation

*****

On Friday we made our way back to Las Vegas!  After all of the hiking, we enjoyed relaxing by the pool and then we went out to dinner.  We ended the night in a casino.  When in Vegas, I suppose…

Vegas condo pools - vacation

Jesse gambling in Vegas - vacation

Jesse & Danica - las vegas vacation

And then we flew back home on Saturday!

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Thank you to Melinda (J’s mom) for making this trip happen – we’re so grateful for the experiences we had over the course of the week!  Priceless memories.

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**if you plan to vacation in this area and want to know anymore specifics about restaurants, trails, etc., ask away!**

wiaw: Florida Vacation Eats

I love trying new foods, which is a phrase my 18-year-old self never would have uttered.  I’m so glad that’s changed…

Vacation is fun for that–a time to eat out, try new delicious dishes–and I did just that when we went to Florida!

For today’s What I Ate Wednesday post, I’m sharing just a few of the meals and treats I enjoyed while on our trip.  I didn’t photograph everything, and actually missed out on catching a few really great meals, but these are at least a few of the highlights.  I definitely had my share of fresh seafood while there too…so good!

what i ate wednesday button

breakfasts

There was a CVS only a couple blocks from our hotel, so after stocking up on a few things there, most breakfasts consisted of a banana, bread, and peanut butter.  Then we went out for lunch and dinner almost every day :)

This was the breakfast I brought with to the airport before we left the cities: a banana, 2 homemade waffles with peanut butter, and then a sparkling peach black tea from Caribou (the only tea I really love) from the airport.

airport breakfast

For the couple of mornings that we went out for breakfast, or down to the resort’s restaurant, I ordered oatmeal and then topped it with peanut butter, cinnamon, fresh berries, and an egg!

oatmeal hotel breakfast

lunches and dinners

This was on of my favorite meals from the trip…salmon in a sweet potato puree, broccolini, and roasted veggies that were extremely flavorful and fresh.  YUM!

amazing salmon dinner - vacation

this was some sort of eggplant hummus with pita bread on the side…it was interesting.  not bad, not great, just good :)

eggplant hummus and pita bread

this was some crazy-spicy pasta dish Jesse had one night…I could hardly stand eating one noodle-worth…He loved it :)

Jesse and dinner - vacation

shrimp salad

you can’t go wrong with fresh guac.

chips, guacamole, salsa - vacation

thee best crab cakes I’ve ever had.

crab cakes dinner - vacation

the last night J and I were there we went to an Italian restaurant called Forlini’s, and if you ever go to Clearwater Beach, you must eat there.  Everything is freshly homemade, the service is fantastic, the environment is beautiful and cozy, and the food.  The food is beyond delicious.  I loved every bit bite of it.

homemade roll appetizer - vacation

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desserts

plenty of dessert was consumed on this trip…it was vacation after all!

carrot cake - vacation

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drinks

and obviously there were drinks consumed too.  the reasoning is the same as for the desserts ;)

nothing really beats a cold, fruity drink in your hand while you’re laying by the water…

Florida vacation with drink

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Jesse drink vacation

drink vacation

handsome husband

vacation wine

*****

I’d go back in a heartbeat!

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Clearwater Beach, Florida {vacation recap}

Hi friends!  Long time no talk…I missed blogging!

As you can probably guess, we’re home from our vacation…

For 1 full week, Jesse and I were in Clearwater Beach, Florida, and honestly, it was just absolutely perfect.

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The weather was beautiful (sunny the entire week)…

Florida beach

the views were gorgeous…

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and every day included laying in the sun with a cold drink in my hand, reading, resting, just relaxing…

Florida vacation with drink

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beach lounging vacation

 

J + D 2013 vacation

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We spent mornings out walking/jogging along the beach…

walking on the beach

clearwater beach florida vacation

And evenings we typically spent going out for dinner, shopping in the local stores, and just enjoying the sunsets…

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last night on vacation

florida beach sunset

sunset florida vacation us

Our travel all went well (I get ridiculously nervous about flying and taking taxis and prayed so much for it all to just go smoothly).

view from the airplane

We were also very happy with the resort we chose–we stayed at the Hilton Beach Resort, which is right on the beach and located in the middle of Clearwater Beach’s major restaurants and shops.  We, of course, planned it this way so that we wouldn’t need a rental car or to pay for a taxi to bring us to where we wanted to be, we could just walk, which we did each day!

We soaked up a lot of sun, ate a lot of delicious food (more on the food this coming week ;) and truly just relaxed.

amazing salmon dinner - vacation

carrot cake - vacation

There were the relaxing morning walks/jogs on the beach, talks about those *big* life decisions, extra treats after dinner, lots of sleep, and a big break from working/being “plugged in” every day.

It was just perfect.
And I’m so thankful we got the opportunity to spend a week there together.

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I loved the sun, the warm weather, the freedom to do what we wanted whenever we wanted, and really, I just love my husband.

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We plan to go on another vacation next year around this same time, but we’ll try out a different destination, just to see more places…back to (more strictly) saving the moolah so we can do these fun things again!

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I’m a little sad to be back to MN (it snowed last night…and, you know, that whole “back to reality” deal ;) but I am very happy to be eating normally again and sleeping in my own bed–those were the two things I really missed while we were gone!

I’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone that shared a guest post on It’s Progression while I was away…I loved every one of them and appreciate the time you all took to share!

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Where was/is your favorite vacation destination?

this was my first time to Florida and I absolutely loved it–I hope to go back to that beach again sometime! 

What is your favorite part of being on vacation?

the food, the schedule freedom, the special opportunity to not care at all what other people/strangers think of me ;)

*****

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San Antonio Vaca 2011: Part 2

(Part I recap of our vacation to San Antonio)

And to continue…

Monday

After sleeping in and having breakfast at Ben and Emily’s apartment, Jesse and I headed down to the San Antonio River Walk.

the water may be brown but the river walk is beautiful!

It was about a 2 mile walk each direction, which was nice despite the rain.  We ate lunch there at a Mexican restaurant called Rita’s,

and browsed through some shops along the river, including the Chocolate Factory where we picked up a few goodies like this one, which I showed to you yesterday:

the picture does this no justice–the thing was huge and so so delicious.  Actually, it gave Jesse and I an idea for our wedding dessert :)

and then we headed back “home.”

That evening we dropped Emily and Ben off at their bible study, grabbed supper at Subway and Jamba Juice, and relaxed at their apartment.  We saw this sign while at Jamba Juice, but keep in mind that it was  60 degrees outside at the time:

Grow some something, Texas :P

The four of us watched the documentary Restrepo that night, and if you get the chance I highly recommend you watch it.  Actually, I recommend watching it even without a presented opportunity…It’s about the time and experience of men who served in a very dangerous area in the Middle East a few years ago.  There’s live footage along with commentary by the veterans.  It’ll open your eyes to the sacrifices our military make for us during this war, and it made me feel guilty and thankful all at the same time.

Tuesday

Jesse and I spent a lot of Tuesday just sitting around at Ben & Emily’s apartment.  I was reading a lot (book review soon to come on “The Best of Me” by Nicholas Sparks).  We did walk a couple miles to get ourselves some lunch at an awesome deli, though.

That afternoon we watched the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”  It’s about how America’s school system is currently failing and needs some serious, serious turnover ASAP.  I completely agree with the idea of the film, but we both thought it was presented in a slow manner and were really bored with it (Jesse napped for most of it).

As I talked about yesterday, we dined at a vegetarian restaurant on Tuesday evening.

I’m sure this comes to no surprise, but I really wish there were more restaurants like this where I live.  It’s just fun to dine at a restaurant that presents so many healthy options.  I also discovered this quote at the restaurant, which may now be my new motto:

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.

Remember when I mentioned Texas publicly celebrating Christmas?  Well Jesse and I were seated right next to this sign at supper–from my favorite chapter in the Bible :)

At about 9 o’clock on Tuesday night, the four of us made our way to the tower in San Antonio.

The tower is 750 feet tall and from up above you can (clearly) see over the whole city.  We chose to sit in the restaurant (Charthouse) so that dessert could be ordered for everyone.
It’s a little difficult to tell in this picture, but isn’t the view beautiful?

A few desserts were ordered and we soaked up each others’ company.

umm hello, blinding flash

By far the neatest place we visited on our whole trip–we were so thankful Bemily suggested it :)

Wednesday

Yesterday was mainly spent packing and then traveling.  Good news though, we soooort of got a window seat this time ;)

I was originally nervous about airport security/flying, but truly it all went as smoothly as it could have and now I just want to travel everywhere…

**Thanks again to Ben and Emily for your hospitality.  Jesse and I had such a fun, relaxing trip, and we truly appreciate your major contribution to making that happen.  Thank you and we love you.

It's a great post…

…but it’s not written by me!

This afternoon I wanted to share with you a great post that I read this past weekend from Lindsay at In Sweetness and In Health.  Lindsay wrote about how to calculate calories for maintaining a healthy weight.  I found her post very informative and actually did the math to figure out how many calories I should be consuming each day (less than 2100, if you’re wondering, which I’m sure you’re not :).  I don’t count calories right now, but I plan to (starting soon), for the next 6 months or so.  You can probably figure out what for…Anyway, I thought it would be a good source for anyone interested and just had to share!
**please remember though that the kinds of food you’re eating is (in my opinion) more important than the calories of the food–aka go for wholesome foods rather than those 100-calorie bars made with chemicals, preservatives, and who knows what else.

source

It’s our last night in San Antonio already! :(  In about an hour, Emily and I are heading out for a run and then we’re all going out for supper at a vegetarian restaurant called “Green Vegetarian Cuisine.”  I’m (probably) way too excited about it.

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I’m hoping everyone is having a good week so far.  Can you believe Christmas is only 11 days away?!   Remember not to stress out about the holiday season and to turn your focus to what it’s really about — the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  God has blessed us all with so much, and this is the time to truly reflect on those blessings and share our girts, talents, and love with one another.

See you all in the morning with a San Antonio version of What I Ate Wednesday!

It’s a great post…

…but it’s not written by me!

This afternoon I wanted to share with you a great post that I read this past weekend from Lindsay at In Sweetness and In Health.  Lindsay wrote about how to calculate calories for maintaining a healthy weight.  I found her post very informative and actually did the math to figure out how many calories I should be consuming each day (less than 2100, if you’re wondering, which I’m sure you’re not :).  I don’t count calories right now, but I plan to (starting soon), for the next 6 months or so.  You can probably figure out what for…Anyway, I thought it would be a good source for anyone interested and just had to share!
**please remember though that the kinds of food you’re eating is (in my opinion) more important than the calories of the food–aka go for wholesome foods rather than those 100-calorie bars made with chemicals, preservatives, and who knows what else.

source

It’s our last night in San Antonio already! :(  In about an hour, Emily and I are heading out for a run and then we’re all going out for supper at a vegetarian restaurant called “Green Vegetarian Cuisine.”  I’m (probably) way too excited about it.

source

I’m hoping everyone is having a good week so far.  Can you believe Christmas is only 11 days away?!   Remember not to stress out about the holiday season and to turn your focus to what it’s really about — the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  God has blessed us all with so much, and this is the time to truly reflect on those blessings and share our girts, talents, and love with one another.

See you all in the morning with a San Antonio version of What I Ate Wednesday!

San Antonio Vaca 2011: Part 1

Friday

Our alarms went off at 2:30a.m. Friday morning to pack up, drive to the cities, and get to the airport.  Going through security was a breeze (no worry needed), and though we got to the airport hours early, it worked out perfectly for getting breakfast, settling down, and relaxing before boarding our flight.

waiting to board the plane, looking plenty tired...

Like my “window seat”??

The plane ride was fine, though I did feel a little nauceous when we took off and landed.

Jesse’s cousin Emily picked us up from the airport…did I mention that it was over 60 degrees and sunny when we stepped outside?!  Beautiful.

isn't she the sweetest?

Emily surprised us with this cute little basket on our bed when we got to her house.  There were some things for both Jesse (Cheez-Its and beef jerky) and me (organic blue corn tortilla chips and two kinds of vegan protein powders to try in my smoothies–yay!).

That night we went out for some Mexican food and margaritas.  We met up with a few of Ben and Emily’s friends and it was a lot of fun, but boy were we ready to sleep after that long day.  Traveling always makes me feel exhausted, plus we’d been up since 2:30.

Saturday

We spent our morning walking through the San Antonio Farmer’s Market, which honestly was a little disappointing, but I suppose that even here there aren’t as many fresh foods during ‘winter.’  It was neat to see though, and I enjoyed my first (surprisingly delicious) breakfast taco.

That afternoon we visited The Alamo.

historical schtuff....proud, Mom? :)

Christmas is definitely celebrated here, and I like that there were a lot of openly Christian things happening--love it actually.

We spent the afternoon at the River Walk:

Due to the rain, our trip there was cut a little short.  Hopefully Jesse and I will be able to head back before we have to leave on Wednesday evening.

Sunday

After church and lunch, we spent a solid 3 hours walking around a little town, Boerne, just outside of San Antonio, looking through all kinds of neat little shops.

We found this random piece of art…

Winona in Texas?

Jesse found his new favorite store (he hates pickles and this shop smelled like you got your face stuck inside a pickle jar):

Oh, and I found an amazing chocolate cupcake for dessert (no surprise there!)

Later, Emily and I sampled some wine at a local winery.  I purchased a bottle for us all to share and Emily picked up a Christmas gift.

After stopping at “Half-Price Books” (I could’ve gone crazy in there, but limited myself to just 3 books), we spent the rest of the night relaxing at Ben & Emily’s.

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It’s been a lot of fun so far!  It’s so nice to relax after a hard semester and escape everything for a while, and of course it’s great to just enjoy being here with our friends.

Are there any “must see” places we should visit or restaurants to eat at in San Antonio??