May 7 2013
love muffin cafe
a small local quick breakfast / lunch spot. good for grabbing a sandwich for the road or if you’re in the mood to try a southwestern breakfast burrito – a staple for those in the west. try the new mexico if you’re looking to go traditional.
nothing to write zagat about – but honest food with decent ingredients. there’s enough variety for everyone although the vegetarian pizzas were quite delish. the atmosphere is fun and comfortable. (more importantly) they also carry a wide selection of local small-brewery beer on tap.
higher end feasting with small plates centered around western fare of fish and game. with outdoor seating it would be the perfect spot for a relaxing dinner at the end of the night. good for those looking to add some variety to their culinary experience in moab.
http://www.quesadillamobilla.com | https://twitter.com/quesomobilla
the highest yelp rated ‘restaurant’ in moab happens to be a food truck. we spotted them around town at least twice a day and can’t be that hard to find. if you’re set on trying some of their famous cheesy bites follow their twitter feed for a more sure spotting. the southern belle looked particularly delicious…
after checking out every site in the city (literally) besides the off-road spots, this one had us kicking ourselves for not arriving earlier. with only 8 first-come-first-serve spots and no reservations the site fills quickly and is family friendly. with camp spots in an alcove of the canyon the sites sit right up against the tall red rock walls creating a very fantastical scene especially at night.
moab under canvas
for those looking to create a unique staying experience in moab this airbnb.com listing is for you. with glamping canvas tents setup outside the city you can stay in a real bed while enjoying being near the beautiful outdoors that moab is famous for.
if you’d rather go the hotel route, try the gonzo inn. part mid-size hotel with modern amenities and part local character it is the perfect marriage for moab. with all the usuals like full bathroom, jacuzzi tub, and kitchenettes, there’s also a pool and hot tub facing the west for some wonderful sunset moments. gonzo is right in the middle of the town which makes it easily accessible and walkable when going from dinner to drinks and back.
arches national park
the main reason people come to moab is to visit and play in arches and canyonland national parks. i visited arches, so i can only speak to this park’s special beauty and history. make sure to see landscape arch, the windows arches, delicate arch, and the double o arch if possible.
it’s best to split the landscape/delicate o hike for the early morning (better photos + hiking) and then come back the next day to finish the park and see delicate arch at sunset – oh so worth it. there’s no water or food in the park so pack supplies, and when the sun falls the desert gets cold quick – make sure to bring a sweatshirt.
poison spider bicycles
bycicles. one of the most popular reasons and activities that people flock to moab. this company specializes in bike trips and rentals. the most popular trail is slickrock and the terrain is worth seeing alone. get out for an early morning ride before it gets too crowded.
moab adventure center
this is one of the best tour / adventure companies in moab, highly rated and seen everywhere you go. you can rent jeeps, bikes, 4x4s, and rafting equipment. they also arrange a variety of group outings if you prefer. in the warmer months i’d suggest a the river rafting trip or standing paddleboard renting to add some variety to the desert activities. next time i’d love to try the 4day-3night southwest sampler.
moab city guide.
May 3 2013
Our second day in Moab was my favorite of the trip. We woke up early, after a good night’s sleep and had a big breakfast. We decided to take advantage of the 80 degrees warm weather with some off-roading over the Fins & Things Trail, which was very thrilling and enjoyable. At some points the jeep was 60 degrees vertical!
We then spent the rest of the day exploring Arches National Park. It’s mostly a driving park that creates a loop throughout all the major view points and arches. The short (but sandy) hike to Landscape Arch is worth it, the arch is impressively huge – spanning over the length of a football field.
We made the final 3 mile hike to Delicate Arch right before sunset and watched as the stone lit up into a lovely orange-red shade. The hike back during the sunset was worth it all. Without it’s usual harsh glare the valley revealed beautiful shades of gold, dark rust, lavender, sage and moss.
We ended our evening in the same manor as the last, and the next day was spent walking around town perusing trinkets and local artwork. We stopped in locally-owned Zax for our last beer and some satisfying slices before hitting the road back to Denver.
Rus and I both talk about ‘when’ we go back, not ‘if’… It’s just that kind of place.
May 2 2013
I’m a big fan of National Parks. I even have a National Park Passport I got when I was little. It’s full of stamps from all kinds of places – from Yosemite to the Black Hills, South Dakota, I’ve collected quite a few.
So going to Moab, Utah was definetly on my top priority list when it came to the National Park sector. So my boy and I packed up the Jeep and spent three wonderfully relaxing and quiet days together.
Unfortunately, most of our first day was spent looking for a camping spot! There’s only one reservable area in Arches National Park and the campsite usually books 4-6 months out. The rest of the selection is first come first serve, and if you’re not there at 6am it’s really tough finding a spot outside the city limits of Moab.
We ended up in a small woodsy area that was kind of too populated for me. But next time we’re planning on camping near an off-roading trail since it’s usually more secluded. A hotel or AirB&B would also be a better if you’re not much for camping anyways… there’s also options like safari or tipi camping!
After finally setting up our humble campsite, we spent the rest of the afternoon in town picking up necessities and exploring an easy off-roading trail. We decided on Onion Creek Fischer Towers Trail for its numerous water crossings and easy riding. It was particularly relaxing and most stock trucks or SUVs could handle it.
We ended the evening in our traditional manor, with a campfire and s’mores. I got to try my first ‘mountain pie’ which is a deliciously grilled pizza/sandwich thing made in one of these contraptions.
April 2 2013
I was looking through some old photos from my san francisco trip and forgot I had these great photos of the lomography store there. Lomography is a small-ish community of analogue photographers who share a sense of exploration and connection through the imperfections 0f vintage film and cameras. I picked up this little hobby over a year ago now and I truly have been enjoying the process and experimentation that comes with it.
We don’t have a brick and mortar location in denver, so I have been supplying my habit of toy cameras and film through the good old internet. So when we came around the corner near Chinatown and I saw the shop – I had to stop in. The employees were so friendly and happy to let me photograph everything (of course). The store had a gallery space and a great showcase of cameras and film.
Here are a few analogue shots from San Francisco. I wish I had taken more, but I was really using my DSLR for most the photography while I was there.
As always you can see all my analogue/ toy camera shots on lomography.com – brianna725. Or you can check out what I did shoot, a black and white album of Lady San Francisco.
December 7 2012
You may or may not know, is that at one time I was traveling around the world every year. Summer in Italy, living in Spain, or a quick trip to Morocco. I hope to continue traveling around the world my whole live, and to capture all those moments here on Observant Nomad. Call me sentimental, but I want to collect my past journeys here as well. So every other week I’ll reminisce about the places I’ve been and what I loved most about them. Enjoy!
I never planned to go to Greece, or even expected to. It all began with a late night phone call from one of my best friends.”Hey, would you ever think about going to Greece?” My first reaction was “Of course, you know how much I love to travel.”
“Well, how about soon, like really soon?” I was caught off guard, this friend had never been to Europe and she didn’t travel that much to begin with. But she continued to surprise me by telling me that her friends had found tickets from Denver to Athens round-trip for $600. You can safely assume, we jumped on it.
It was my first trip with two of my best friends. We spent the first few days in Athens, but decided to meet up with other friends who were traveling the islands. Santorini was where we landed. It is a small Mediterranean island south of Athens, where the water is crystal clear and the jagged rock faces remind you of the ancient tales of mythology.
We stayed in a small beach side hostel in Perissa, which you can see above on the left. The courtyard was small and romantic with flowing vibrant flowers over all of the stucco buildings.
One night while staying on Santorini we visited Oia, a small town known around the world for her sunsets and set-in-the-cliff dwellings seen below. I fell in love with the blue and white stucco churches. The sunset kissing their tops and set their white a lovely range of blush and sherbert colors.
Oia was a wonder all its own. Set high atop the highest cliffs of Santorini, shops and homes have set themselves into the cliff face. Almost creating a whimsical Dr. Seuss land of white buildings stacked upon one another and children playing on the rooftops. We ate out in the open air at a big dinner with eight of our travel companions. It was a wonderful night of laughs and talking, which ended in tradition by sampling the local raisin liqueur made in Santorini.
Every corner and edge of Santorini offered exploration and charm. The foliage was almost desert like with plenty of bright Mediterranean flowers. We explored the island and snorkeled into the small crevasses of the island making friends with bright tropical fish and the sunlight blanketing the water with warmth. I felt like a pirate swimming for lost treasure.
We spent our days at the beach soaking up sun on black sand. At night we wandered the open cobblestone streets for bars and waffle stands. The food was spectacular and fresh. Creamy tzatziki covered cool cucumbers and bright tomatoes over beds of grape leaves, couscous and warm pita bread. The Kalamata Olives were plucked straight from the trees and were brined into a wonderfully salty treat, I’ve never enjoyed olives the same after these.
We were all sad to leave this little heaven of an island. My friends and I joked about moving there to open our own hostel and restaurant. I think at the time we were all completely serious. Maybe one day we’ll get drawn back there again…
* all photos by Observant Nomad
November 9 2012
A itchy wool blanket stretched flat on the lawn, the crisp fall air burning your lungs, and the soft twang of bluegrass melodies racing away into the evening, all of which are only memories now to the past of Musselman’s Grove.
Now silent and abandoned, the grove grows wild with long grass, lovely wildflowers, and pollen ridden buds. The old wooden mess hall and stage stands together, repainted by the local community as a tribute to the youth and memories of the older generations of the Claysburg community.
Some recall warm buggy summer days and others reminisce about the homemade chicken dinners. All recall the grove’s live performances with smiles, and like all small towns a certain sense of ancestral fondness.
How I wish I could’ve seen what it had been like to grow up in Claysburg in the 1950s, and the height of Musselman’s Grove. To see the simple pleasures of family, music, and the setting sun cherished and valued higher than a TV set. I don’t think I could live in a small town, I’m too much of a city girl. But after meeting the people of this charming place, it’s hard to walk away from their honest way of life, absolutely open arms and warm homemade meals.
I’m so thankful I got to meet the people who had a hand in raising the man I’m with and seeing how much quality (and quantity) is in his family. His Grandparent’s 50th Anniversary was that weekend, and I was asked to document the event. So expect to see some of the photos from that big day soon.
* All photos by Observant Nomad
October 30 2012
I know I’ve been silent here the last few weeks and I truly have no excuse. It’s been one of those times where I’ve been a little burnt out on the blog. Maybe I’ve been over-thinking my upcoming posts or perhaps my content didn’t quite inspire me.
But mostly it is the huge pile of images I have on my hard drive from Pennsylvania that needed to be reviewed, corrected, and edited. And as in most travel posts, there are always too many lovely shots to share in just one post – it doesn’t help that rural Pennsylvania in the fall is in one word, quite simply – gorgeous.
During our visit we rode up to the base of the ski resort and took a walk among the deep wooded areas flooded with changing foliage. I couldn’t believe the vast number of trees covering every inch of the hillside. Besides the soft planting of boots on wet leaves, it was almost completely silent in the woods. Wind blowing through the trees created a soft and comforting melody. The colors were bright and saturated. Oak and maple bark left sweet scents in the air, and littered the ground with spotted red and yellow leaves.
It has been a few weekends since I visited the east coast. But I still find my mind drifting back to the burnt orange, saturated yellow, and fiery red covering the endless hills and hidden trails of Pennsylvania. A wondrous painted testimony to nature’s passing of seasons.
*All photos by Observant Nomad
October 11 2012
Sometimes it’s the little trips that get you excited. The no-reason getaways full of food, relaxation, and a slower pace all bring peaceful relief. I’m heading east to Pennsylvania this weekend. Not Philly – we’re heading to the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. Where trees cover rolling hills, everyone knows everyone, and you only drink Yuengling. A word I might add, that could’ve been plucked right out of the local dialect.
My man is from this quaint part of Penn, and we’re heading out to visit his Grandparents. Everyone there is salt of the earth – meaning we’re going to have a great time enjoying simple pleasures, playing cards, and eating at the local dives. To top it off, it should be insanely beautiful since it is October – and we’re talking East Coast fall! Oranges, reds, and vibrant yellow trees decorating every inch of the land.
I plan on filling my days with lots of photo walks, snuggling up next to a cold window with tea & a good book, and helping Grams cook up whatever the boys bring back that day. We’ll spend our nights drinking local brewskies, playing cards, and carousing with the old college buddies. I might have to keep the boys in check.
[ sources 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 ]
October 9 2012
Originally posted on October 23 2008, Viaje de una Vida
Gaudí was a religious man who believed that his work should imitate but never try to be more than what God had originally created. For example, the finished design of the highest point of the Sagrada Familia would be an exact 173 meteres high. That meant it would be only 1 meter lower than the highest hill – Mont Serat – in Barcelona. When Gaudí was asked why he decided on this, he simply stated that he didn’t want to “go higher than what God himself had created.”
The construction of the great Sagrada Familia began in April of 1882, and has become the most recognizable icon associated with Barcelona. Even though the church was originally planned by Francisco de Paula del Villar, after only one year, the commission fell to a very young Antoni Gaudí.
While the whole Sagrada Familia is covered in religious symbolism, the nativity scene is the only facade Gaudí completed in his lifetime. The statues are all very detailed and lively which go with the symbolism of Jesus’s birth. The sides have an interesting ripple effect, where one side looks like leaves, and the other looks like waves of water. Both sides meet at the top which appears to be like birds.
Obviously Gaudí’s work followed closely to nature, as he spent his childhood growing up in the rural areas around Barcelona and found fascination and inspiration in the forms and objects of nature. Many of the Sagrada Familia’s lines are fluid forms of parabolas, which are especially obvious in the structure of honeybee hives. Parabolas actually create the most perfect form of support in architecture, which until Gaudí, had been unknown or unused.
His spiral staircases copy seashells and the indoor columns mimic the limbs of a tall ancient forest. The natural light streaming through the top imitates the canopy mimicking the natural patterns where daylight would also stream through.
His eclectic style is seen throughout every detail of the church since Gaudí worked on it up until the day he died in 1926. It was far from completion at the time of his death, and still is. Some say it won’t be finished until 2050. I can’t wait to return again one day and see how much progress has been made.
*All photos by Observant Nomad
September 11 2012
Originally posted October 13, 2008 on Viaje de una Vida
I just had the amazing opportunity to spend the last 4 days at a surf excursion in Tagazout, Morocco. It was such an amazing experience – the sunsets, people, food, the day to day, and the city itself was a respite from the bustle of Barcelona. I even got to ride a shamu! (arabic for camel)
A few of my classmates at the time set up the excursion and invited me last minute, of course I was going to say yes! After our bumpy arrival late the night before, our group started surfing the following morning at Banana Point. I had my first surf lesson… in Africa.
After a couple sand test runs I jumped into the waves. I walked out to water with my board to my side, and began to paddle wide and deep when the swell started. I turn and paddled as fast as I could and as the board pushed up, I shifted my weight to my left side, pushed up and was on my knees – surfing!
After trying to stand for several more hours, I decided to head back to the shore when I realized I couldn’t see 5ft in front of me! I was surrounded by a fog of sand… I was in an actual sand storm. I rushed back to the beach and everyone in our group was wrapping towels around their heads to keep the sand out of their eyes.
Our surfer instructors took everyone to the local market where sanitation is an if and bargaining is a must. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around fruit stands, tea shops, bowls towering over with spices, and women grinding almonds to make a delicious raw butter. Racks of woven shoes, henna artists, ancient pharmacists, and bootleggers lined the narrow walkways.
There was everything and anything all for a price and up for bargain. I haggled through my day and came out with a traditional hookah pipe for flavored tobacco, white and gold Moroccan tea glasses, lemon herb tea, warm pita bread, mixed spices, and some earrings all for under 25 dollars. A pretty good score.
The next afternoon we went to a functioning traditional public bathing house called a Hamam. These hamams were created for several of the Islamic cultural practices; the hamams are used to get a hot bath very cheaply, and to spend time socializing and relaxing with friends in an otherwise very disciplined culture.
The next day was full of rain! A sandstorm and rain? What luck! So we waited until the afternoon where we went down to town and rented ATVs for an hour. We drove them down to the deserted beach where we spun, went off hills, and raced down the limitless sand.
The rain was great since no dust kicked up and we got to see the beautiful sunset on the empty beach. That night everyone had fun saying goodbye. And in the morning we headed back to Marrakesh. I received some last minute henna to send me off.
Now I’m back in Barcelona where our story started off, and now looking back on the whirlwind of Africa, Morocco, and all that comes with Islamic culture. It’s a country of unexpected friendliness and a stark conservative way of life. Children follow you around and play games and smile coyly. Women are covered head to toe but give you hugs and smiles in the street. Locals crowd the TVs and watch the big soccer match on the edge of their seats. No one goes out after dark and wild dogs roam the streets. Everyone speaks French and call you madame and monsieur.
Going to a starkly different world has made me so thankful for everything I have in my life, and I mean EVERYTHING. I can go wherever, work wherever, be whoever, and my options are endless. Going to Morocco (which I loved exactly the way it is) has made me so utterly thankful and entirely humble to live in the country that I live in, have the family I have, and see the horizons that I do.
*All photos by Observant Nomad