Nov 29, 2009

Environmentally-friendly outdoor ice skating at the W Hotel Westwood

W Hotel's Chill Ice Skating Rink (Photo: Irene Chen)
In a city known for make believe, it couldn't have been long before someone came up with fake ice skating rinks. The W Hotel in Westwood has transformed its pool area into a festive winter wonderland complete with an outdoor ice skating rink called Chill.

Chill is different from the rinks in Santa Monica and Pershing Square because it is made from a  synthetic "hybrid ice". That means no refrigeration or Zamboni needed, which is a good thing for the environment. It's also a good thing for you because no more falling or trying to get up on frozen ice.

W winter wonderland (Photo: Irene Chen)
At 1,300 square feet, the rink isn't very big but the setting is beautiful with lots of lighted Christmas trees, decorated cabanas, and greenery. Chill will be open until January 23, 2010, Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. $10 includes an hour of skating and skate rental.

W Hotel Los Angeles - Westwood
930 Hilgard Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310) 208-8765

   More on the holidays: Guide to Christmas Tree Lightings in Los Angeles and Orange County

2009 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

Gorillapod. (
Find the perfect gift for your favorite wanderlust this holiday season. Here are ten practical items all under $100 that any world traveler would love to receive.

1. Gorillapod: This compact, portable tripod is perfect for hands-free picture taking. The Original Gorillapod is good for compact digital cameras up to 325 grams and comes in seven different colors. Using its three flexible, wrappable legs with over two dozen leg joints, you can secure your Gorillapod to almost any surface. $21.95 at

2. Digital Luggage Scale: Never pay overweight baggage fees again with this tiny digital luggage scale. You can weigh your bags before you leave for the airport and avoid any surprises. The scale can weigh items up to 100 lbs. At only $25, it’s sure to save you much more. Available at

3. Eagle Creek Comfort Travel Blanket: Ever met a flight attendant who recommended you use their smelly, old communal blankets? Neither have I. Bring your own soft packable blanket for a more comfortable journey in the plane, car or train. This full size blanket packs into itself and has a zippered pocket to keep earplugs, eyeshades or other items handy. $20 at

TourSafe Handbag (Photo:
4. Greenaid Hand Grenade Reusable Shopping Bag: Have a little fun while doing your part to save the environment even when you’re abroad. This reusable polyester bag rolls up inside a hand grenade-shaped neoprene case for easy packing and its clip allows you to attach it to your bag or clothes. $18 at

5. TourSafe Handbag: A classic handbag with four Pacsafe anti-theft features, The TourSafe Handbag allows you to travel with sophistication and peace of mind. Anti-theft features include eXomesh slashguard in lower front, lower side and bottom panels, slashproof adjustable shoulder strap, snatchproof shoulder strap that allows bag to anchor to a secure fixture and tamperproof zipper. $89.99 at

6. Power Monkey: This 3 oz portable charger packs a lot of punch in a little package. Who wants to travel with an iPod, digital camera, cell phone and PDA plus all of their chargers? The Power Monkey charges all your electronics in your pocket almost anywhere in the world. Included are four adaptor plugs, a 110-240 volt adaptor for recharging in 150 countries, connectors for most mobile phones and a wide range of other electronics and a black storage pouch. $69 at

7. Pack-It Shoe Cube: Keep your dirty shoes away from your clean clothes. These shoe cubes come in three colors and feature side ventilation and a top handle. $14 for medium-sized, $18 for large-sized at

Global Atomic Clock (Photo:

8. Hadaki Hanging Toiletry Bag: No counter space in your tiny hotel bathroom? Here’s your solution. This fashionable brown with multi-colored striped toiletry bag unfolds and hooks to hang wherever you need it to. It features four transparent zippered pockets for easy organization of your necessities. $28 at

9. Super Leight Earplugs: Before you strangle the screaming baby in 14C (or its parents), put in a pair of Super Leight Earplugs. These soft foam earplugs have a noise reduction rating of 33 to get rid of those unwanted noises. 5 pairs for $2.69 at

10. Global Atomic Clock: This travel alarm clock uses radio signals from international atomic time transmitters in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and the United Kingdom to set itself. Available in red, black or silver and featuring a large digital display, soft back light, snooze alarm, 12/24 hour formats, dual time face, date display, signal strength indicator and twist-n-stand base and includes a travel pouch. $39.85 at 

More holiday links: Guide to Christmas Tree Lightings in Los Angeles and Orange County

2009 Guide to Holiday Events in Los Angeles

Nov 13, 2009

Guide to Christmas Tree Lightings in Los Angeles and Orange County

Although Southern California may not be having a white Christmas again this year, Christmas tree lighting events around Los Angeles and Orange County will definitely get rid of your "Bah humbugs" and put you in the Christmas spirit. Grab the whole family and experience one or more of these spectacular holiday events. All vents are free unless otherwise noted.

Around Los Angeles

Beverly Hills kicks off their annual holiday festivities on Saturday, November 21st by lighting up the 200 block of Rodeo Drive. Starting at 3 p.m., visitors can enjoy entertainment including balloon and caricature artists, jugglers, musicians and carolers. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for photo ops. At 7:00 pm, the Mayor along with Rebecca Mader (Lost, Men Who Stare at Goats) will flip the switch to illuminate the 12,000-crystal snowflake over the Beverly Wilshire hotel and the thousands of lights along Rodeo Drive. If that isn't enough, there will be a fireworks display, synchronized to the holiday music.

The Grove's 100-foot white fir tree will be lit up with more than 10,000 lights and 15,000 ornaments on Sunday, November 22nd at 7:30 p.m. Musical guests will be on hand to celebrate the lighting of this enormous tree.

One Colorado in Pasadena's Tree Lighting takes place on Friday, November 27th at 6:00 p.m. The event features an appearance by the 92nd Rose Queen and holiday sing-a-longs.

The Hollywood & Highland Center will be lighting their Christmas tree on Saturday, November 28th, with musical and celebrity guests and Santa Claus himself. Disney Recording Artist Mitchel Musso, I'm OK You're OK and American Idol stars' Kimberley Locke and Michael Johns will be performing live. In addition, guests who donate to One Heartland, an organization committed to improving the lives of children impacted by HIV/AIDS are invited to attend a VIP pre-reception at 5 p.m. VIP tickets start at $50. Tree lighting celebration begins at 6:30 p.m.
Join the City of Rosemead for their 2nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony happening at Rosemead City Hall on Thursday, December 3rd at 6 p.m. Local youth will perform favorite carols, and hot chocolate and cookies will be served.

In Orange County

South Coast Plaza's 96 foot tall White Fir tree went up last month at Town Center Park. Its 20,000 colored lighted will be turned on Thursday, November 19th at 6 p.m. and the celebration will include an appearance by Santa Claus and performances by the Orange County School of the Arts.
Fashion Island downsized this year with only a 40-foot Christmas tree. Their typical 115-foot tree would not fit while renovations are being completed at the mall. The two night celebration happens Friday and Saturday, November 20th and 21st at 6 p.m. on Atrium Lawn adjacent to Santa's House. The event includes performances by students of the McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts, along with the arrival of Santa.

The City of Orange's Tree-Lighting Ceremony & Candlelight Choir Procession happens Sunday, December 6th from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Old Towne Orange Plaza.

Nov 11, 2009

Los Angeles Conservancy celebrates 50 years of 1960s architecture in Greater Los Angeles

Next year, the Sixties turn 50. To mark this occasion, the Los Angeles Conservancy and its Modern Committee have created a nine-month educational and outreach program to celebrate and explore preservation issues surrounding these buildings. This birthday is significant because 50 is the widely accepted age threshold for buildings to be considered “historic.” The program includes a fall tour which was hosted last Sunday, November 8th. “It’s a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod City” took guests on a self-driving tour around the Westchester and Culver City areas to explore hidden gems representing Los Angeles’ rich architectural heritage from this era. Docent led tours were held at a number of sites along the route.

The Proud Bird Restaurant (Photo: Irene Chen)
Highlights of the tour included:

The Proud Bird Restaurant (1967) – 11022 South Aviation Boulevard, Westchester
Destination restaurants with themes, such as Polynesian, pirate, and mining, began to pop up all over Southern California in the 1960s. The Proud Bird is an aviation-themed restaurant near the LAX runway. Almost every seat in The Proud Bird gives its diners a view of the take-offs and landings. Patrons can listen in on the action through headsets connected to the LAX control tower. The grounds hold many historic aircraft and replications, and the interior details the history of flying and the aerospace industry in the South Bay through photos and memorabilia. It also pays tribute to famous fliers such as the Tuskegee Airmen and General James Doolittle.

LAX Theme Building under renovation (Photo: Irene Chen)
LAX Theme Building (1961) – 201 Center Way, LAX
This Los Angeles icon was first built as the symbolic center of Los Angeles International Airport. Under renovation since 2007 when a chunk of one of the arches fell onto the roof, the building is scheduled to be completed in 2010. The tour included a visit to the space age-themed Encounter Restaurant and a very special visit to the observation deck which has been closed since September 11, 2001. Plans to reopen the observation deck to the public are still unknown.

Flight Path Learning Center and Museum (formerly LAX Imperial Terminal) – 6661 West Imperial Highway, Westchester
This space has served many purposes throughout the years. From 1951 to 1965, Northrop Aircraft used it as an operations facility. Next, it was used as a terminal for charter flights and foreign carriers and for presidents, sports teams and celebrities due to its remote location. Today, The Flight Path Museum contains a large collection of airline memorabilia as well as a vintage DC-3 aircraft where visitors can step back in time and even take the controls in the cockpit.

Interior of St. Jerome Catholic Church's sanctuary
(Photo: Irene Chen)
St Jerome Catholic Church (1966) – 5580 Thornburn Street, Westchester
Architect Raymond Whalley created an innovative round church with a folded-plate roof. The nontraditional shape of the sanctuary creates a strong sense of community among parishioners.
Other sites along the route included Otis College of Art and Design (formerly IBM Aerospace Headquarters), Holy Cross Cemetery, and The Forum.
More events and actitivies are in the works including a spring tour of residential gems of the sixties scheduled to occur on March 14, 2010.
                        The Sixties Turn 50
                           Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee

Nov 6, 2009

Holiday pop-up shopping in Los Angeles

Stella McCartney Fair Isle cashmere wrap cardigan (
In an age of here today and gone tomorrow, it seems fitting that retail stores are now disappearing as soon as they open, but it isn’t due to bankruptcy but on purpose. Today, the latest trend in retail shopping is the pop-up. These exclusive, limited time only shopping destinations give retailers an opportunity to make use of the scores of vacant retail spaces just in time for the holidays.

Here is a sampling of the current pop-up stores around Los Angeles:

Stella McCartney for GapKids Pop-Up Store – featuring the new babyGap and GapKids Holiday collection by Stella McCartney.
108 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 285-1880
Open now until November 28th
Monday - Saturday: 10:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Baileys Original Irish Cream Pop-Up Shoe Shop – featuring shoes from Casadei, Sergio Rossi and L.A.M.B. for $75 a pair. All proceeds will go to Clothes Off Our Back.
156 S. Robertson Blvd.
November 11-13: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
You must be 21 to enter the store.

Shoes + Shoes + Shoes + Bags Pop-Up at Space 15 Twenty – featuring shoes and bags from's on-line exclusives and more!
1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028 Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Gift! Pop-Up Shop at Space 15 Twenty – lots of shops within a shop including Holiday Cheer, Camera Shop, Music Shop, DIY Shop, Book Shop, His/Her Gift Shop.
1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
November 21st - January 3rd
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

The Mimobots Pop-Up Shop at the Munky King Shop - artist-inspired USB flash drives
7308 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 938.0091
Open now until November 29 Daily: 12 - 7 p.m.

Nov 5, 2009

Air Travel Consumer Report: Worst airlines for luggage handing


In their October 2009 Air Travel Consumer Report, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports 208,000 filed baggage complaints for domestic airlines between August 2008 and August 2009. This number shows a significant decrease from last year's 270,000 complaints. These figures concern lost, damaged, or delayed baggage, charges for excess baggage, carry-on problems, and difficulties with airline claims procedures.

Best Airlines for Luggage Handling:
10. ExpressJet Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 4.37
9. United Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 4.12
8. Southwest Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 3.57
7. Northwest Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 3.13
6. JetBlue Airways - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 2.93
5. US Airways -Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 2.90
4. Continental Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 2.89
3. Frontier Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 2.24
2. Hawaiian Airlines - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 2.11
1. AirTran Airways - Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 1.74

Worst Airlines for Luggage Handling:
9. Alaska Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 4.40
8. American Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 4.45
7. Mesa Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 4.53
6. Delta Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 5.02
5. Skywest Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 5.25
4. Pinnacle Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 6.25
3. Atlantic Southeast Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 7.63
2. American Eagle Airlines: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 7.81
1. Comair: Number of complaints per 1,000 passengers: 8.20
The report also covers flight delays, oversales, consumer complaints, airline animal incident reports and customer service reports to the Department of Homeland Security.

Nov 4, 2009

Exhibition celebrates 35 years of Hello Kitty

  Hello Kitty's house (Photo: Irene Chen)
Hello Kitty was born in Japan in 1974 and has since become a global phenomenon. This year marks her 35th birthday. To celebrate, Sanrio is presenting Three Apples, a very special, multi-dimensional exhibition celebrating all things Hello Kitty, and those of us lucky enough to be in Los Angele have the opportunity to view this one-of-a-kind event. Taking place until November 15, 2009 at Royal/T café / shop / art space in Culver City, California, this event is free of charge and open to the public. Three Apples will feature an art exhibition, product retrospective, pop-up shop, and special events. The café will also be presenting special Hello Kitty-themed fare.

Product Retrospective includes items only found
in Asia (Photo: Irene Chen)
Why Three Apples? This is Hello Kitty’s height. Hello Kitty has long been a muse to artists and designers around the world. Over 80 contemporary artists including Gary Baseman, Ron English, Buff Monster and Camilla d’Errico have interpreted their vision of Hello Kitty in one-of-a kind pieces on display. One series of photographs by Markus Klinko and Indrani even feature pop singer Lady Gaga posing in a dress made entirely of Hello Kitty stuffed animals and other Hello Kitty attire. The Three Apples Art Show is curated by Jamie Rivadeneira of Japan LA. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the art will benefit LA Works.

Halloween event included a pumpkin decorating contest (Photo: Irene Chen)

Events still to take place.
Saturday, November 7 – Meet the Artists Party
Wednesday, November 11 – Hello Kitty’s Gyaru Beauty Parlor
Friday, November 13 – Hello Kitty’s Bats and Cats Masquerade
Saturday, November 14 – Hello Kitty Art & Fashion Happening
For more info: Royal/T Cafe

Oct 30, 2009

Virgin America – “Best Domestic Airline” according to Condé Nast Traveler

Virgin America Airlines has been voted for the second year in a row as the “Best Domestic Airline” in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards. Over 25,000 readers voted on categories including cabin comfort, cabin service, entertainment options, and food/beverages.

Every flight features mood lighting, touch screen entertainment in every seat with satellite TV, pay-per-view movies, and video games, and food to order when you want it. Virgin America flies from Los Angeles to Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. Service to Fort Lauderdale begins on November 18.

Ski and stay in Salt Lake and get the fourth night free

With ski season just around the corner, the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering their “Gold Medal Podium” Package in honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Book a four-day, four-night stay at a participating property and the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass and get a fourth day of skiing and lodging for free. The over 20 participating properties include The Inn at Solitude, The Cliff Lodge & Spa and The Inn at Snowbird. Packages must be booked by December 15 and travel by April 18, 2010. Hotels based on availability and blackout dates may apply. For complete details, visit Ski Salt Lake.

The Ski Salt Lake Super Pass is an easy and money-saving way to experience all four of Salt Lake’s world-class resorts. Ski Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude for up to 20% off the regular ticket window price.

Oct 20, 2009

Funny Food Names: Pennsylvania Edition

 Chow chow - pickled vegetable relish 

Shoofly pie - Pennsylvania Dutch molasses pie with crumb topping

Birch beer - made from birch bark, similar to root beer
Whoopie pie - two round cakes with cream filling. Available in red velvet, chocolate, pumpkin 
and other varieties

Irish potatoes - candy made from cream cheese and coconut with ground cinnamon topping

Oct 3, 2009

Domo Loves Slurpee!

Wow, is 7-Eleven smart! First, The Simpsons and now, Domo! 7-Eleven is running a Domo promotion this fall, featuring everyone's favorite brown Japanese, lock-jawed monster on everything imaginable. Domo has taken over the Slurpee machine, coffee cups, and hot dog containers, and three collectible Slurpee cups and four straws are available for purchase. 7-Eleven has created a mini-site and will be rolling out three webisodes with Domo over the next weeks. Part 1 is available now.

Smart is 7-Eleven. Too bad the same cannot be said for the franchisees, who don't seem to know how the internet works and don't know what free PR is, especially the people who work at 10356 Venice Blvd at Motor Ave. These were the only photos I managed to take. I wanted to buy the Domo straw with the candy, but assumed my money along with my photography wasn't welcome there. I'm sure other, more intelligent franchisees would appreciate my patronage! That pumpkin lattee sounds amazing!


*last photo from

For more information on Domo and to watch new webisodes of Domo, visit

Also, please do not patronize 10356 Venice Blvd at Motor Ave.

Sep 28, 2009

DineLA Restaurant Week

I am a big participant in DineLA's Restaurant Week. It has given me the opportunity to try many restaurants that are normally only "special occasion" places (re: out of my price range). Next month, fall restaurant week will be held October 4-9 and October 11-16 at over 200 participating restaurants. With three-course meals at three different price levels, there is something for every budget. Lunch ranges from $16-$28 and dinner from $26-$44.  

How do you choose which restaurant to go to? First, see if the restaurant you've been dying to try is on the list and then, look up its menu to see if it sounds appealing.

More details at:

Sep 23, 2009

Explore: Port of Los Angeles Lobster Fest

[Insert food here] and tack on the word "festival" and I am there! The Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival and Music Weekend took place between September 18-20, 2009 at Ports O' Call Village in San Pedro, California. We attended on Sunday, which has historically been the busiest day. $7 with a $2 off coupon downloaded from their website is a small price to pay for a day of celebrating this famed crustacean!

 Free samples from Laughing Cow and Coke Zero
Eclectic entertainment such as Arturo Nakame's one man band 

Saturday also happened to be International Talk-like-a-Pirate Day so there were plenty of pirates representing among us landlubbers. 
For $31, we enjoyed two Maine lobsters with drawn butter, cole slaw, potatoes, and a biscuit.

After lunch we headed over to the music stage to see what was going on. We had just missed a rock band that we could barely hear from where we were sitting. Next on the line-up for our musical enjoyment was a Mini Michael Jackson and Tiny Tina Turner!! I certainly wasn't expecting to hear Smooth Criminal and Proud Mary!

Think you missed your chance to savory some shellfish? Lucky for you, the Redondo Beach Lobster Festival will be held this weekend (September 25-27, 2009) at Seaside Lagoon, 200 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach, CA - 90277. For more information, go to

Jul 24, 2009

Weekend Getaways: Viva Las Vegas

We drove south back towards what I thought would be Las Vegas. Matt was pretty tired from driving so much and as we approached the Vegas exit, he said that he would probably need me to take over driving in another hour. Then he exited the freeway! What a trickster! We were still gross from hiking and being in the car, so we immediately went to our hotel, The Hilton Grand Vacations Club. The hotel was pretty nice and since it was off the beaten path, not too crowded but it was far from most of the action. We got cleaned up and ordered room service. Matt had another surprise for me: chocolate and champagne!

We put on our fancy clothes and headed out for the night. Visited Planet Hollywood (tacky!), Paris (to get tickets to the Eiffel Tower. I found a 2-for-1 coupon in a brochure in the taxi cab. Go me! But I didn't want to go up until it was all lit up at night), Bellagio (to go to the Conservatory), Caesar's Palace (to wander around), and back to Paris (to go up the Eiffel Tower).

Paris fountain

Bellagio Conservatory

Eiffel Tower at night

Unfortunately, the wait to go up was around an hour and forty-five minutes and we had already decided to go to the Wynn Buffet. Matt looked up at least 5 different websites to see which buffet was the best in Vegas. The buffet closed at 11 pm and by the time we were done at the Eiffel Tower we would have had 30 minutes to eat, so we left and got a return pass for the next day. As we drove down the Strip, we enjoyed fireworks from the back seat of our cab. Not exactly as romantic as being on the top of the Tower!

The buffet was nice. It had the usual stuff like prime rib, crabs, desserts galore but there was a lot more meat than I expected.


By the time we finished dinner, the hoochies were out in full force. I was overwhelmed by skintight mini dresses. We visited the Encore which was equally as tacky as Planet Hollywood and then decided to hang out at the Parasol Lounge at the Wynn. Being outside on the patio on a balmy night was actually kind of nice. Little did we know that there was also entertainment on the patio. It was a multimedia extravaganza and also had a dancing and singing frog! It was the perfect ending of a wonderful day!

Important thing I learned during this trip: Matt cannot keep secrets from me.

Jul 17, 2009

Weekend Getaways: Emerald Pools Hike (Zion Natioanl Park)

On Saturday, which happened to be Independence Day, we awoke much later than I was expecting. When we went to Joshua Tree in May, the temperature in the tent was unbearable by 7 am, but for some reason, it was still nice and cool by 9. We had to pack up camp and move out of our site by 11, so we had a nice breakfast of bagels, bananas, and watermelon and were on our way.

We moved our car to the Visitors Center and hopped on the bus to Zion Lodge. Today's hike was going to be to the Emerald Pools. There are three pools along this 3-mile hike. I found it to be more strenuous than the previous day's because there was a bit of elevation gain and direct sun exposure.

To get to the trailhead, you have to cross a short footbridge over the river. Boy am I glad that we did The Narrows on Friday because this is what we would have been wading through after the night's downpour. Matt and I wanted to film a commercial for Hershey's chocolate milk!!

On the footbridge leading to the Emerald Pools trailhead

We wound up finishing the hike very quickly but there were still a ton of people on the trail. I was sort of happy to be leaving. It was still a very beautiful hike but it's difficult to really enjoy when there are bottlenecks of children and slow people. The pools were pretty but the waterfalls were just a trickle.

Upper Emerald Pool

At the Upper Pool

After completing the hike, we left the park and got coffee and breakfast from a cafe in town and then headed to this faux town that we had seen on the way in and promised to stop at on the way out.

Tourist trap


Then we were off to my next surprise!

Jul 10, 2009

Weekend Getaways: The Narrows Hike (Zion National Park)

The next morning, we packed everything up again and had breakfast at the hotel. We definitely knew we were in Utah at this point. Fox News was playing in the dining area, which we both noticed. There was also a family who was sitting near our table. One of the men at the table asked his tablemates, "Do you know any gay people?" Then yelled, "They're sinners!!" Matt looked at me and then said, "Yeah, we gotta go." After we left, I learned that he thought the man had said, "Do you know any gay pornstars?" but then realized that regular pornstars are probably sinners too.

We drove for another hour. By then, I knew we were going to Zion National Park. As we drove down the road leading to the park, he pulled up to a shop that had a sign reading "Canyoneering." Oh dear, I still had no idea what we were doing and asked, "Are you taking me on an adventure?" Finally, I learned that we were going to be doing The Narrows hike at Zion. The Narrows hike is one of the most famous hikes in America. It takes you in the Virgin River, which has carved a remarkable gorge through the sandstone rock. We needed to get some equipment to prepare us for the hike, namely water shoes, booties, a dry bag, and hiking poles.

Drive towards Zion

Entrance to Zion National Park

Once we reached the park, we had to check into our campsite but it was still occupied so we parked in the overflow area and packed up our daybag with lots of water, lunch, and hopped on the Zion bus. During high season, visitors are required to take the shuttle around the park because there would be too many cars in the park otherwise. Ours was the last stop on the route - The Temple of Sinawava. The landmarks around the park were named by the Mormons. They include the Great White Throne, Three Patriarchs, West Temple, East Temple, Angel's Landing, and my favorite The Altar of Sacrifice.

From there, we began the Riverside Walk trail which leads to beginning of The Narrows hike. The walk was a very easy, serene 1 mile walk along the Virgin River with lots of shade and greenery.

Along the Riverside Walk

The Virgin River

We didn't really have a set goal in terms of how far we wanted to go on the hike, plus there was danger of flash flooding that day. So we just decided to go as far as we could and then turn back. Once you reach the River, you are basically hiking or wading in water the entire time. It takes a lot longer to walk in water than on land especially with boulders all along the bottom of the river. I am definitely glad we got the proper equipment. It also didn't help that there were tons and tons of people doing this hike, many with no equipment!! At times, the water would be waist high as you can see below. It was a once in a life time experience. The natural beauty and the knowledge that a river carved all of this amazing landscape that all of us can enjoy!

Along the Narrows hike

From time to time, we talked about stopping to eat lunch but everytime, we just continued on. Finally, we stopped to eat at around 2 pm. We had packed some sandwiches and found a nice, big boulder in the shade to take our break. We noticed these cute, green, fuzzy caterpillars on the boulder and admired them. A couple of them must have found me curious because they kept walking towards me. It wasn't until we were getting up to leave that we realized there were a bunch of them crawling on me and I even had two in my pockets!!

Attack of the caterpillars!

As we continued, we finally passed Orderville Canyon, a goal both of us intended to meet even if we never said so. After Orderville Canyon, the crowds significantly thinned out and we had a few moments to enjoy the canyons alone for the first time. It was getting cooler and when we asked passersby how much longer the hike was before you reached the neck-level water, they said about another hour and twenty minutes. We decided to turn back. It had been over 3 miles since we started. I thought this was the most beautiful section we had been to. The canyon was more narrow so the cliff faces were much more powerful and close.


At around 6 o'clock we were finished with our hike and went to return our equipment. Matt kept mentioning that he thought it was going to rain and pointing at this huge grey cloud. As we went back into the car to return to camp, a large gust of wind swept by and it started raining. We drove back to the campsite anyway and as soon as we did, it was pouring down. We sat in the car trying to decide what to do, thinking it was just a quick thunderstorm and we would be able to set up camp, but then it started hailing and back to raining. Matt had prepared all of this food for the campfire but it looked like our only option was to get some dinner and then decide whether or not to camp or try to find a hotel room.

Everything worked out in the end. We had a terrible Mexican dinner in Springdale and it stopped raining. We went back to Watchman Campgrounds, set up camp, and then had some of Matt's food as an evening snack. He made some delicious bacon-wrapped chicken kabobs with veggies! Yummy. Then we hit the hay!