If you've been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I traveled to Las Vegas, Southern Utah, and Arizona about two months ago. I've been super busy since then so I haven't been able to blog about my experience...but this trip was very special for multiple reasons. Also, I took way too many photos not to share :)
Here's a quick recap:
Our first stop was Las Vegas. To be completely honest...I wasn't super excited about the city itself (especially during the day...I think Vegas is best at night :) ) but I still did enjoy walking around on the Strip. Vegas has a super unique aura (like even though its surrounded by miles of desert, there are somehow a bunch of palm trees (?) lining the streets) and is also home to some amazing shows- some of which we were able to watch. Plus, not in every city will you find a bunch of girls walking around in flamingo-looking costumes.
On our second day, we headed out to Red Rock Canyon (this was the day I was excited about ;) )...and it was everything I expected and more. Even though it is just 30 minutes from the Strip, it looked like we had walked into a different part of the world. Some of the rock formations were RED and literally made it feel like we were on Mars. On top of that, there were a bunch of little Joshua trees (my fav!) + other yucca-looking plants scattered across the desert canyon floor.
(My brother and stepbrother "planting trees")
As we were driving, storm clouds rolled over the mountains and I was able to capture the view from the side of the road:
We drove further into the canyon to find a hike to start...until we saw that there was a stream crossing the road (there was a stream that was literally crossing the road...the cars driving by were just splashing through it) and decided to stop and explore. At this point, the sky was completely clouded over which made the blue and tan/red tones of the landscape pop.
The water was crystal clear and the rocks were smooth and colorful.
Isn't my mom the cutest??
I had scheduled an engagement session in the specific area of the canyon where there were a TON of Joshua trees (the shoot was later featured on The White Wren HERE!)...but since we arrived at the location early to scout, I had my mom take a few fun headshots for me!
After the shoot, we had the most beautiful view of the mountains and desert floor before the clouds covered up the sun:
On our way to Utah from Vegas, we decided to make a stop at the Hoover Dam!
After the Hoover Dam, we headed to the Lake Mead viewpoint area for sunset. When we arrived, it was crazy windy and cold...but so worth it.
We drove to Utah at night so I wasn't able to take any photos on the way...but the next morning when we went out for breakfast (or the closest thing to breakfast we could find in our area...which was a secluded petting zoo/gas station/souvenir place/restaurant that served hamburgers for $20 each), the sky was blue as ever and the view from the side of the highway was GORGEOUS.
When we started driving to Zion, the canyon walls seemed to get taller and taller and narrower and narrower...
Zion canyon from within the park:
As soon as we started driving closer to the Virgin River (the river that created Zion Canyon), we stopped to explore a bit.
Once the boys were finished throwing rocks into the river, we decided to explore the rest of the canyon. Cars are not allowed after a certain point on the highway, so we took the shuttle to The Court of Patriarchs. This specific area has three distinct canyon peaks and is one of the most iconic areas of the park...so naturally, we had to check it out ourselves.
If you're anywhere along the Virgin River in Zion Canyon, there's likely a bunch of these fuzzy plants hanging out on the bank. They bring such a soft feel that creates contrast against the ridged canyon walls.
We took the next day in Utah off to relax and prepare for the following day (which was going to be a very important day) but couldn't miss the sunset! My mom and brother and I were on our way to check out our resort for our last two nights in Utah when we pulled over at a random paved area off the side of the road. This is the view we stopped for:
The next morning was my mom and stepdad's elopement. There are a million things I could write about the whole elopement process and a million more about the journey my whole family went through to get there...but I'll save those stories for another day. I'm going to keep it simple and short for y'all :)
My mom had always wanted to elope at Zion...and after several months of research and planning, the day had finally come. We woke up, got ready, entered Zion through a St. Patrick's Day parade (no joke...there's one road to enter Zion and the parade was happening ON that one road)... and surrounded by just my two stepbrothers, my brother, myself, and my second shooter, they said their "I do's".
The next day, it was time to hike Angel's Landing. If you've never heard of it, part of the hike is a steep incline, only 3-5 feet wide, has 1500 feet drop offs on either side, and only a chain to hold onto. It's more like climbing than hiking. Seriously- if I had slipped and fell, I would've died. Also if you didn't know, I actually have a fear of heights (I literally get dizzy when I look down the balcony of a two story house) so I'm surprised I even mustered up the courage to start the hike...nevertheless finish it. It was probably one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I've ever attempted but I guess it shows how much your mindset matters. I went into the hike knowing how dangerous it is, knowing my fear of heights, knowing how many people had died while attempting it, and knowing that I would possibly stop in the middle and succumb to my fears...but I told myself that if I was going to do it, I wanted to finish it. And somehow, I did.
We climbed to the TOP of that thing. (if you squint, you can see the people!)
Our whole family made it to the top. Including my 11-year-old brother. Although I was scared for his life more than mine (pictured below haha), he was pretty calm and cautious the whole time.
The view from the summit was so surreal. And the fact that we had to work HARD for that view, made it even more beautiful.
(peep the Virgin River carving its way through the canyon!)
Once we safely made it down from the summit, it was almost sunset. But I really really wanted to catch something that I had seen the past few nights and had to drive by due to being on a schedule. So, we raced back to our resort...and on the drive back, I spotted it:
I still don't know exactly what is was, but I do remember hearing tons of frogs whenever I approached the water or made movement. I know I keep saying this...but the atmosphere in this exact spot was truly surreal. The way that the sunset was reflected back onto the marsh was absolutely breathtaking. For any of y'all wondering, these were taken right at dusk. This light was the last light of the day-the faint glow after the sunset. About 5 minutes later, it was gone.
The next morning, we ventured back to the same place on the side of the road:
Snow-capped mountains, red rock formations, desert vegetation, and bright orange sand dunes (which are natural, by the way) ? Only in Utah.
Once we checked out of our resort, we stopped for lunch in St. George, Utah. But instead of eating, I decided to walk around the town's historical district to snap a couple of photos. Plus, the trees were starting to bloom with white and pink flowers...so I couldn't just NOT stop to photograph those, ya know ;)
Driving back to Vegas from Utah was just as breathtaking as Zion in some ways. Our route took us through the Virgin River recreational area in Arizona and my head (and camera) were sticking out of the car window the whole ride.
After we exited the Virgin River area into northern Arizona, we had another gorgeous view of the desert.
Once we arrived in Vegas, we ate a huge buffet dinner and headed to the airport to board our flight home. During our wait in the terminal, I wrote a few of my thoughts down in an Instagram post:
" As I'm sitting here in the LAS airport, about to board the plane back home, I'm realizing how lucky I am. To be able to live in a country filled with beautiful, diverse landscapes and people. To be able to easily travel across it. To be able to see, smell, taste, feel all that comes with it. This past week in Vegas and Utah has opened my eyes to not only the gorgeous places around me, but the rich experiences that come with travel. I'm so grateful to have had the chance to explore this tiny part of the globe (the only part that has Joshua Trees!) and can't wait to come back. Be prepared for a bunch of travel spam. Also it's something like 3 AM in Dallas time so my brain is fried and I really can't wait to sleep. See you soon, DFW. "
I usually stray away from posting too any personal images and stories, especially on my website, but I really enjoyed re-living this trip as I was blogging this post. I hope you guys enjoyed it!