Featured Travel Stories

Grand Canyon National Park Turns 100!

Happy Birthday to Grand Canyon National Park!

It’s one of my most favorite national parks for several reasons and it’s my hope that if you have never been there before, that you get to go in the near future.

The Grand Canyon is one of the deepest gorges on Earth and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. With an average depth of one mile (1.6 kilometers), it is possible to hike down and up the Grand Canyon in one day. Camping at the bottom allows for more reasonable pacing of the trail for the average hiker and is also the best way to enjoy all that the scenery has to offer.

I took these photos while on a hiking trip to Havasupai Falls. If you enjoy hiking and have never been to the Grand Canyon before, I highly recommend adding this amazing trek to your travel plans! Water cascades from a height of 98 feet (about 30 meters) into beautiful turquoise pools, adding to the unique and stunning contrast of red hued layered rock which is characteristic of the Southwestern United States. The Havasupai route takes 3 hours to travel down, but 5 hours back up. There aren’t any roads, the only other accessible ways are helicopter, rafting, or hiking.

Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA © 2019 | All rights reserved.

And I’d like to share an additional treasure that’s unique to the Grand Canyon.

Mail-by-mule train, Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA © 2019 | All rights reserved.

Nowadays with one hour delivery and overnight shipping, it’s hard to believe that mail delivery took about 10 days to travel coast to coast. The Pony Express was one such mail service that began in 1859. Pictured here is the last official mail-by-mule train which delivers small packages and letters, including food and medicine, to people living at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Loads can weigh up to 200 pounds (about 90 kilograms) per mule. And with mail delivery service occurring 6 days a week, it’s possible you might encounter the mule train!


Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA © 2019 | All rights reserved.

Be sure to make a reservation for your accommodations well ahead of time, it’s a popular place with an average of 5 million visitors each year. Check out the Grand Canyon National Park Service website for more information.

Have you had a chance to visit the canyon or is it on your list of travels this year? Let me know in the comments below as well as your favorite national parks and places you love to hike!


Featured Travel Stories

Happy Independence Day!

The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

For me, it seems so long ago, it’s kind of hard to grasp. But then also knowing that Independence Day the movie, the science fiction action film starring Will Smith, came out 22 years ago! What?! Anyway I love history and learning more about the history of the United States and 18th century living in particular. Over the past year or so I’ve really gotten into watching the YouTube channels Townsends and Coalcracker Bushcraft.

Many key events leading up to this declaration took place in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s a wonderful place to visit and I’m excited to share a few of my photos and some additional treasures with you.

Boston Massachusetts, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

“With our rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and legacy of arts, culture, and education, Boston has something for everyone.” To find out more go to Visiting Boston.

Autumnal flowers, Boston Massachusetts, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Clinton Street, Boston © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

You may recognize this photo of Feneuil Hall from my previous post My Love for Black and White Photography. This beautiful brick building with arched windows has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1743. It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams and James Otis, who encouraged independence from Great Britain. Visit Faneuil Hall Marketplace and The Freedom Trail Foundation to learn more.

Christmas in Boston Storefront, Boston Massachusetts, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Christmas in Boston is a lovely store to visit. It’s located in Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

The Marriott Custom House Clock Tower, Boston Massachusetts, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

The Custom House Tower is a skyscraper located in McKinley Square. The land it was built on was originally purchased in 1837 and construction began during the mid-19th century. It was authorized as a building to be used for government purposes by U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Activities included office work and applying duties to imported goods.

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House wine cellar © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse is a modern restaurant located within view of the Boston harbor. It’s a classic American steakhouse serving aged USDA Prime Beef, seafood, and has an extensive wine selection.

Vegetables for sale at a downtown farmers market, Boston Massachusetts, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Interestingly enough, none of these vegetables pictured here are native to the U.S.

Boston waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts © 2018 | All rights reserved.

An orange flower, Boston, Massachusetts © 2018 | All rights reserved.

And a photo of a flower, because no trip I take would be complete without one.

I hope you enjoyed looking through both the mix of colored and black and white photos I took while visiting Boston.

Here are some links to other wonderful places I have visited in Boston that you will want to check out if you get a chance to go there. Unfortunately a few attractions and restaurants have closed since my last visit, so here are my current recommendations.

Boston Duck Tours

Boston’s Historic North End

Neptune Oyster

Farmers Markets

Cookie Monstah

The Q Restaurant

Museum of Science

The Bristol

Harpoon Brewery

Legal Harborside

A couple other things I’ve been loving lately.

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

I’m currently reading The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. It’s about the journey of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim settlement of New England in addition to several events that took place in colonial America during the 1600s. I’ve really been enjoying it so far.

Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero by Christian Di Spigna book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero by Christian Di Spigna is an excellent read that is coming out soon. “A rich and illuminating biography of America’s forgotten Founding Father, the patriot physician and major general who fomented rebellion and died heroically at the battle of Bunker Hill on the brink of revolution.” I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy.

You can find a variety of patriotic items at my Redbubble store made with a photo I took of a yellow lily and the American flag. Merchandise includes but is not limited to clothing, accessories, mugs, tumblers, electronic device covers, bags, notebooks, stickers, art boards, prints, and more. Items come in color or black and white, with and without a commemorative styled stamp border, and with and without a colored blue or red background.

Lastly, here are a few photos from some of the neighborhood’s fireworks show last night (they’ve actually been launching them all week).

Fireworks © 2018 | All rights reserved.DSC01571DSC01573DSC01574

Happy Independence Day! How are you celebrating today? Also, what places have you visited or plan to visit in Boston, what books you have read or look forward to reading, and what episodes from Townsends have you enjoyed? I’d love to know! Hope you enjoyed this post!

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

Featured Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂ Travel Stories

Even Whales Say Farewell

So today sadly marks the final installment of a running blogging community participation forum called the Weekly Photo Challenge. The theme is All-Time Favorites. My favorite things to shoot are landscapes, particularly sunsets, and I love Maui, so here is my post featuring a Maui sunset.

Maui sunset © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Maui sunset © 2018 | All rights reserved.

And as a tribute to the last week and to a cherished community of fun, support, and a celebration of growth in more ways than one, I wish you all the very best on your continued blogging journeys and I hope you enjoy the video I made, Even Whales Say Farewell. And don’t forget to check out more beautiful music by composer Jonny Easton.

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

Featured Photography Travel Stories

Petra: A Sandstone Journey

Lines is this week’s photo theme so I thought I’d share about some of the most fascinating rock features I have ever come across.

Petra, Ma’an Governate, just south of Amman, Jordan, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. It is a historical and archaeological city famous for its rock-cut architecture, most notably The Treasury (Al-Khazeneh), which is at the end of the passage al-Siq. Pictured here is the rock texture of a cave wall I came across.

The word petra comes from the Greek word petros meaning “stone” or “rock.” These stones in particular are sandstone layers created in part from sand dunes over long periods of time. Like other rock formations, the top layers are the youngest and the older at the top. The waves lines are created because sand dunes have more movement at the top compared to the sedimentary rock that forms beneath it. The colors are just amazing, consisting of various shades of orange, rich brown, an almost gray-purple, and red. In fact this Nabataean city is also known as the Rose City of Petra because of its rosy hue. 

On a side-note, One Strange Rock is a series that’s currently airing on National Geographic and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Be sure to check it out! Episodes have featured stories about our earth’s formation and I’m thinking they might include Petra’s stunning rock formations in an episode.

I hope you enjoyed my post!

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

Featured Travel Stories

Road Trip to Beautiful Taos, New Mexico

 As part of this journey, I recently took a road trip to Middle America.

This area of the U.S. is also known as the Heartland which is a farming region in the Great Plains and known for its values, agriculture, hard work, and rural towns. It’s not a common destination or a connection point for most people, but there are hidden treasures of historic intrigue scattered throughout and a simple way of life that is often coveted by urban dwellers. My hope is that everyone takes an opportunity to visit the rural Midwest.

While traveling, I passed through long stretches of prairie grasslands, post-harvest wheat and corn fields, and roads with no body on them for miles. Without a cell phone signal I resorted to using an old-fashioned road atlas made of paper supplemented by Garmin. Radio stations are limited to country music, classic rock, and sports commentary. It’s a rather relaxing drive with limited distraction and a rich history of entrepreneurship. It gave me an appreciation for the lifestyle of all the settlers I read about in books authored by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My emotional connection to the land was augmented by the game The Oregon Trail which dipicted 19th century pioneer living with the harsh realities of typhoid and exhaustion along with exciting frontiers that awaited after successfully fording a river with all your oxen.

Round hay bales each weighing up to 1,500 pounds (680 kg) in Southwest Kansas, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Rio Grande Gorge

Driving West, I decided to head to a little town in New Mexico named Taos. It’s pronounced similar to house, but with a prolonged accent making it sound more like Ta-ouse. By this point, I was really drawn to the majestic beauty of mountains which I missed greatly after spending quite some time on the flat terrain of the Midwest. Just outside of Taos, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is a landmark site you’ll want to visit.

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge 10 miles northwest of Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Close ups of Rio Grande, deer eating dry grass, stairs to Rio Grande shoreline, view of Rio Grande river bank, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Stained glass window, Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Taos Pueblo residential adobe complex nestled among the Taos Mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Range, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Door at Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Pueblo means “town” or “village” in Spanish. Adobe means “mud brick and a closer look reveals fragments of straw that is used to provide integrity and even out the distribution of the drying process. Though the vibrant blue details of this wood trim and inlay are quite attractive, doors were not part of original adobe architecture. Tradition holds; however, that no electric or running water be allowed within the Pueblo walls and is still observed today. Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

Dog at the Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Coming across a sleepy dog lying on the dry, foot-packed earth in the middle of the village.

San Francisco de Asís Church

San Francisco de Asís Church, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Built in the early 1800s, the Spanish Colonial style San Francisco de Asís Mission Church is also know as the “Ranchos Church.” Housed inside is an 18th century oil painting by Henry Ault. The painting is called “The Shadow of the Cross” and depicts Jesus, appearing as a glow with a shadow and cross that’s only visible in the dark, giving it the name “The Mystery Painting.” Additional information can be found on the San Francisco de Asís Church’s official website including times for mass.

San Francisco de Asís Church crosses and bell, Taos, New Mexico, USA

Taos Inn and Doc Martin’s Restaurant

Taos Inn featuring Doc Martin’s Restaurant, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Step into the rich history of Taos itself. Dating from the 1800s, the Inn is made up of several separate houses surrounded by a small plaza. A community well was originally located at the center of the plaza. Now, a fountain, with honey-rich tones of polished wood outlining its base, resides in its place while vertical vigas rise to two-and-a-half stories, giving the historic site its lovely, magnetic charm.

In the 1890s, Dr. Thomas Paul (Doc) Martin came to Taos as the county’s first and only physician. He bought the largest of the houses which is now Doc Martin’s Restaurant. Doc was a rugged individualist, but was dearly beloved because of his deep concern for his fellow man. Treating patients meant hitching up a team of horses- and later his tin lizzie (Ford Motor Model T), and traveling miles through mud and snow to set bones, break fevers, and deliver babies.

Doc’s wife, Helen, was noteworthy in her own right. A gifted batik artist (an ancient tradition from Java, Indonesia that uses wax and dye as a medium to decorate cloth), she was also the sister-in-law of artist Bert Phillips, one of the “Taos Founders.” It was in the Martins’ dining room in 1912 that Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein founded the Taos Society of Artists. The Martins later purchased additional buildings surrounding the plaza, renting them to writers and artists. When the only hotel in Taos burned the same year that Doc died, Helen entered the hospitality business. She bought the Tarleton house which was the last remaining property on the plaza (now the site of the Adobe Bar). With the aid of Doc’s former patients, she enclosed the plaza and opened Hotel Martin in 1936.

Through the years, Hotel Martin was the hub of Taos’ social, intellectual, and artistic activity. Subsequent owners renamed it Taos Inn, displayed the popular neon thunderbird sign (Taos’ oldest), and added the carved reception desk. In 1982, the Inn was placed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

The Martins’ tradition of service and commitment to the arts lives today. The Inn’s Meet The Artists Series, continuing invitational exhibits of the best northern New Mexico art, and its founding sponsorship of the Taos Talking Pictures Festival, pay tribute to the founders and the vibrant tri-cultural community they serve.

Taos Inn, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

❀ You can listen to a clip of a cover of a Spanish song by the entertainer that night (unknown title/unknown entertaining artist/unknown original artist- but if you recognize it please let me know! *UPDATE- The song is called “Lagrimas Negras” thanks to Aixa for your reply!):

With its historic allure, lovely amenities, great location, nightly entertainment, reasonable prices, and an acclaimed dining experience, I would highly recommend staying at Taos Inn.

Sunset at Eagle Nest Lake

Sunset, Eagle Nest Lake State Park, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.Building a Fire in an Adobe Fireplace

Fire in an adobe fireplace, Taos Inn, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

What a fun and relaxing way to end the evening! Taos Inn has rooms that are equipped with an adobe fire place and everything that you need to get it started. I felt like such an adult, amazed that they would trust me to build a proper fire.

The warmth, crackling, and glow made for a special and uniquely comforting experience. I enjoyed reading in the soft light amongst the shadows of flames that danced on the walls and occasional startling “pop.”

The Following Day

Doc Martin’s Restaurant has earned multiple awards for its fabulous New American fare. Chef Matthew Gould specializes in fresh local food with a splash of Southwest flare, incorporating chiles and produce sourced from regional farms and gardens. The restaurant features 400 wine selections and the list has earned Wine Spectator’s “Best Of” Award of Excellence for more than 25 consecutive years.

The restaurant also hosts special events and provides holiday meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Doc Martin’s is Taos’ favorite place for Saturday and Sunday brunch.

Pictured here is Doc’s Chile Relleno & Egg. It’s comprised of a green Anaheim chile decorated with chèvre and pumpkin seeds on a bed of green chile sauce, sided with salsa fresca dolloped with sour cream, egg, rice, and beans. It was absolutely delicious!

If you’re wanting the taste of the Southwest give 505 Southwestern Sauces & Salsas a try! Their ingredients are extra fresh, all natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, and have zero trans fat. They proudly named their sauces after the area code for the state of New Mexico, all chiles come from the Hatch Valley in New Mexico (known as the “Chile Capital of the World”), and all their products are made in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Taos Plaza

Taos Plaza, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Taos Plaza is the center of the Taos Historic District where shops and galleries line the streets and sidewalk enclosures. In the 1700s the enclosure served as a refuge for livestock at night and by day merchants displayed their trades.

“Style: because your personality isn’t the first thing people see.”

Coffee Cats is a coffeehouse with a fun twist on the drink menu, describing espresso drinks, smoothies, and gelato using a cat theme. You can sip your beverage of choice while enjoying outdoor seating or an adobe fireplace. The “Chimayo Cat” is a Mexican-style mocha made with cayenne pepper and cinnamon, giving it a sweet kick.

Coffee Cats menu and

Check out Nestle and Ibarra’s Mexican chocolates, they taste very similar, with smooth chocolate and hints of cinnamon. It’s a delicious way to make hot chocolate or add to coffee!

Taos Cookery The Kitchen Shop, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

The Taos Cookery is a cute shop that specializes in selling flour sack kitchen towels made in New Mexico. An art museum courtyard with bright blue accents and plant life showing its life toward the end of the Autumn season. And a treasure chest! Could rupees, a heart, or traveler’s sword be found inside like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?

An art museum courtyard with vibrant blue door and window frame, planted rose pot, and antique chest Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Gorgeous red-pink courtyard rose in full bloom, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Free books display, Somos, The Literary Society of Taos, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

A display of free books always catches my attention. The collection was mostly self-help, mysticism, flopped sales of celebrity memoirs, and retired science textbooks.

The afternoon was followed by a wonderful lunch at Michael’s Kitchen which served flavorful New Mexico-style red chili and tortillas. You can read more about tortillas in the book Tortillas: A Cultural History by Paula E. Morton.

The restaurant was built in the 1940s and has a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu along with various bakery items and homemade chai. Hanging from the wood beam porch, pictured below on the left, is a ristra, which is an arrangement of dried chile pods which are a popular decoration.

Red chile pod ristra hanging from wood beam on porch, bowl of red chili with tortilla, pumpkins at Michael’s Kitchen, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Flower painted window framing on adobe housing, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Onto the Next Destination

Misty rain clouds hovering over mountains, Taos, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

As I left the town of Taos, it started to rain, giving a mysterious yet peaceful and refreshing feeling to the surrounding area. Whisps of snowflakes followed shortly thereafter and soon the mountains would be blanketed with the stillness of crisp, white snow just in time for the ski season.

I traveled on to Santa Fe, stopping at El Paisano Food Market for all the essentials: Jarritos, roasted peanuts, Mexican vanilla, Mexican hot chocolate, freshly steamed red pork tamales, and sacks of red dried chile pods- hot of course.

Grocer display, sacks of New Mexico red chile pods, El Paisano Food Market, New Mexico, USA © 2018 | All rights reserved.

I love Jarritos and I was happy to see them at the store! It’s a carbonated soft drink that is fruit flavored. I really like the pineapple flavor, but there are several kinds such as lemon-lime, mandarin, strawberry, fruit punch, apple, guave, Jamaica, tamarind, mango, among others. The word jarrito means “little jug” in Spanish. It’s in reference to the old Mexican tradition of drinking out of clay pottery jugs.

Please share about your experience traveling to Taos, New Mexico in the comments below, I hope you found it as intriguing and enjoyable as I did! Or perhaps you have a desire to explore the town and landscape, if so be sure to check out the links for more information. I appreciated the incredibly friendly and laid-back lifestyle that is a big part of the signature natural beauty and hospitality that Taos has to offer. I hope you get a chance to visit! And don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on upcoming adventures!

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!