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.
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 ]
August 1 2012
The Japanese Tea Garden was originally created in 1894 as a “Japanese Village” for an international exhibit at the time. The grounds feature classical Japanese garden elements like an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds and a zen garden.
We made it just in time to enjoy the sun’s slow set and a hot cup of fragrant jasmine green tea, which was very much welcomed after spending all week in the bitter cold of the bay. After sampling some rice cakes and green tea mochi ice cream (my favorite), we took a stroll around the gardens.
After reading some reviews online I was concerned about the gardens being too crowded when we visited. But as we entered the gates a little around 30min before close, we found it quite the opposite. The grounds were empty and serene.
I enjoyed the few minutes alone wandering around grassy knolls and gazing at the reflections of koi, dancing on the ponds. The late day visit gave the sun a chance for the stone lantern’s to create puppets. The incessant wind from the bay couldn’t touch the garden, creating an auditory relief from the constant white noise.
July 25 2012
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that Chinatown is authentically Chinese. That’s not something I can authoritatively say. Instead it’s authentic for what it holds. It’s a San Franciscan neighborhood, rich with history, livelihood, character, and important cultural threads for it’s city.
And it’s got some pretty amazing Chinese Food restaurants.
There’s an interesting dichotomy in Chinatown. A separation between the locals who live and breath this neighborhood everyday and the tourists or visiting San Fran. One sure fire way to distinct yourself is a quick trip to the Fortune Cookie Factory.
A sliver of a shop in an alley of Chinatown, the factory is just that – crudely industrial. It smells of floral almond flour and the samples are delicately sweet. Headed by a pushy salesman and his older female co-workers who leisurely fill the soft cookie shells with random paper fortunes.
Meandering the streets and alleys reveal fascinating doorways, where you can softly hear instrumental music floating behind them. Local homes, barbershops, music schools, and jewelry store owners to name a few.
They bring their heritage to life in Chinatown. Native languages which are still intact, flow freely. Rich cuisine from all over the east dots the streets. Arts and practices are reenacted by slight elderly men, while they smoke a lite cigarette from a plastic chair. And any product that’s Made in China, can be yours at wholesale price.
July 24 2012
One of the highlight’s in my trip to San Francisco had to be Alcatraz. It held the most infamous criminals from 1934 to 1963, including Al ‘Scarface’ Capone and ‘Birdman’ Robert Stroud.
The island’s subtle mystery and the still silence of it’s hallways draw me in. Even though it was full of people, everyone was absolutely silent. We were all listening to an audio tour which had recordings from the actual prisoners and officers. Almost like ghosts whispering from another place.
There’s no doubt – the island has a quiet sadness to it. A place where lost and crazed men were sent to rot away. Their aged voices crackled through the audio tour. Each one carrying a heavy sense of disappointment for the young reckless men they once were. Hearing their simple laughter behind humble prison memories was painfully bittersweet.
At night, a silent prisoner catches a glimpse of the bay waters. They reflect the pink and gold lights from the city. Flickering with the ripples. He can hear the city nightlife blown across the short 1.5 miles of the bay. A young woman laughing, loud music playing, and the celebratory clinking of glasses…
The thought of stirs a sad sympathy in me.
What sets this prison apart from most I imagine, is the amount of windows. There was natural light everywhere within the building. Tall thick windows impressively barred but still letting in all the flooding afternoon light of the bay.
But where the sun shines through, the wind and frigid air does too. The wind whistles through the cracks eroding the edges of the edifices and wearing the island old.
Alcatraz was a prison built before the time of ‘reformation.’ When criminals were merely locked away to save god-fearing citizens from their debauchery. Men as young as 17 crossed these doors – and left there.
I couldn’t fathom how small the cells were – barely a 7ft box, they were suffocating to even look at. Several of the prison cells have been stocked with items from the prisoners’ time; cards, games, postcards, radios, wool blankets, literature and flimsy cots.
The portraits of the wardens hang in the offices as a reminder of the men who were stationed to care for and protect others from the men on “The Rock.” These officers ate the same food, and breathed the same air as the men under their watch.
They even nurtured their own families in their own ‘town’ on the island – where I heard, they always left their doors unlocked. Just like most families from the 1950s.