#coffeechat with Jamie

Hi friends, long time no talk!    As I sit here in my cozy home with a hot coffee complete with pumpkin spice creamer, I felt the need to update my friends on all things Wamie!

Since becoming a Beachbody coach in the spring and devoting more time to my health and fitness, life has become a bit overwhelming and, well, here we are, five months after my last blog post.  And I am oddly at peace with that.  Life is not linear.  It has its ups, among the peaks of dreams and accomplishments, and its valleys in the troubles or sadness or growing pains of life.  And while WamiesWorld and sharing our story will always be a part of us, it will share in our peaks and valleys as well.

In the past five months, we have had our fair share of highs and lows.  We traveled to the Outer Banks in April to celebrate our first anniversary.  It was an amazing weekend, with an adorable hotel room right on the beach, plenty of shrimp and seafood, exploring lighthouses and National Parks, and time away just the two of us.  I cannot express how blessed we were by our first year of marriage.  We were able to spend so much time, just the two of us, to grow and learn about each other in marriage.  If you have the opportunity to move away from friends and family in your first year of marriage, I am all for it!  You will grow in ways you wouldn’t have had you stayed in your same routine!  

In June we were able to take a week and go to Walt Disney World for one of the most magical vacations of our lives!  It was Will’s first time (my fourth), and let’s just say that he has completely bought into the experience.  He would love to be an annual pass holder (wouldn’t we all!?) and never vacation anywhere else again!  We met a wonderful woman at our hotel who visits WDW every year and takes her grandkids.  Can you say goals?  

Following our phenomenal week in Florida, we flew out to Utah to spend some quality time with Will’s family.  We were able to see two of his siblings and their families, and spend a lot of time with his parents.  We explored a piece of Bryce Canyon National Park—a natural wonder of southern Utah that has some of the least amount of light pollution in the continental US—followed by a dinosaur museum and animal style burgers at In-N-Out.

My sister and their family moved away to Tennessee around the fourth of July, where they bought a house and started new jobs.  We have enjoyed road tripping through the mountains to see them and explore their new home.

We are currently in a season that requires a lot of dedication and sacrifice for Will’s work, and although we cannot discuss further details online, we ask that you keep us in your prayers for the next severallll months.

Rapid fire questions:

  • What are you reading? The Anne of Green Gables series.
  • What are you watching? Grey’s Anatomy, Friends, and Big Brother.
  • How’s Blue? She’s great! And huge. Her first birthday is very soon.
  • What workout program are you doing? LIIFT4 is a program that combines lifting and high intensity interval training and is four days a week.
  • What is your favorite meal prep meal lately? Burrito bowls! Guacamole multiple times a week? Yes please!

If you want to follow along on our adventures, turning a house into a home, and all of the highs and lows of everyday life, click the subscribe button on the right.  It doesn’t send you crazy stuff or give your information to anyone—it just sends blog updates directly to you!

Until next time,
Jamie out.

Our 5 Favorite Things We Did in Arizona

Our four months in southern Arizona are over!  We will always have our memories, and I have a couple more blog posts lined up, but our extended honeymoon has come to a close.  That being said, we spent much of our time in the desert exploring.  Here are our five favorite things we did while in Arizona this summer.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

We went on a really long hike

We have already blogged about our Grand Canyon experience, but if you missed it, here are some sunrise photos, and here is the complete story of our hike.

The Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for a while.  It is one of those things that you sit and dream about, like Rome, or the Great Wall of China, or Iceland.  It is a destination I was dying to experience.  And boy did we experience it.

We got up at three in the morning to drive to the National Park and arrive in time to watch the entire sunrise over the canyon walls.  We then spent the next seven hours hiking along the rim.  Clearly it was a dream come true for this hike loving, National Park exploring, photography enthusiast couple.  The Grand Canyon is so much more than just a giant hole in the ground.

Our 5 Favorite Things We Did in Arizona

We made reading a priority

Back in North Carolina, life and busyness got in the way.  We were often running around and stressed, trying to be at every event, plan a wedding, work 50 or more hours a week, and sleep when we could.  Arizona has been much more relaxed and manageable for us.  One thing we were able to really enjoy was making reading a priority.  

Most nights you will find us reading a good book in bed before turning out the lights.  The weekend usually involves at least a few hours of dedicated book time.  And the goal has generally been to read one book a month.  This is something that I seriously hope we can continue once we get back to North Carolina.

Books I have been reading: the Harry Potter series.  

Books Will has been reading: the Inheritance Cycle, “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybels and “Ghost Soldiers” by Hampton Sides.

Chiricahua National Monument

We made some friends 

I have always said that it is the people that make or break a place.  Well the people in Arizona have absolutely made it for us.  The community we have experienced, the church family we found, and the friends we made have not only made these four months in the desert so much sweeter, but have made saying goodbye so much harder.

From the movie nights, hiking trips, lunch dates, and hotel breakfasts, we had an absolute blast with everyone.  

Our 5 Favorite Things We Did in Arizona Our 5 Favorite Things We Did in Arizona

We toured a mine and ate really good food

On one of our first weekends in Arizona, we visited Bisbee, which you can read about here.  We didn’t quite know where to go, where to eat, or what to do.  After a few hours in the hot weather, we drove back home.  But ever since then, we had a hankering to tour the Bisbee copper mine.

The weekend of Will’s birthday, a couple we met took us to the Queen Mine Tour and followed it with dinner at Cafe Roka.  I definitely recommend both things should you ever find yourself in southern Arizona.

We wore our jackets, hard hats, and flashlights in the mines and rode a train to the very back.  Our tour guide showed us how miners would drill, what drills they used throughout the years, their dynamite techniques, and other mining habits to include how they went to the restroom.  I got to demonstrate for everyone.  Who thinks this should be our Christmas card photo this year?

Our 5 Favorite Things We Did in Arizona Our 5 Favorite Things We Did in Arizona

After our tour, we went to the historic district for our reservations at a seriously delicious Cafe Roka.  We all ordered the filet on a bed of mashed potatoes and veggies.  The starters, salad, soup, sorbet, entree, and dessert sampler platter left nothing wanting.  We had a fantastic time and will definitely come back the next time we are in Bisbee.  We highly recommend it.

Coronado National Memorial

We explored a cave

Our absolute favorite adventure, despite having hiked the Grand Canyon Rim Trail, was exploring a cave in Coronado National Memorial.  It was so cool!  Caves and caverns are super fascinating, a little scary, and very very fun to explore.  This cave in particular was at the end of a short hike up the mountain and was not guided.  We climbed down a hill of rocks at the cave mouth (which distinctly reminded me of the movie “Descent,” although I tried not to think about that) and then used our headlamp and flashlight to explore its depths.  You can read more about that here.

Will and I are so excited to head back to the east coast and North Carolina!  We are seriously looking forward to seeing my family, eating my mom’s cooking, hanging out with our Taco Tuesday crew, and reconnecting with our church fam.  

Have you ever been to Arizona?  What was your favorite part?  If you enjoyed this post, give it a like and don’t forget to join our family by hitting that subscribe button if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim Trail

Ron Swanson said it’s okay to cry at the Grand Canyon.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

September 1, 2018 | Labor Day Part III

Will and I woke up at three o’clock in the morning—probably the earliest I have ever woken up in my life—to get ready, eat breakfast, and drive from our hotel to the south rim of The Grand Canyon.  We arrived right around five in the morning, parked in a super close parking spot, took a trip to the bathrooms (which was literally the most disgusting bathroom I have ever been in in my entire life—I’ll spare you the details), and then booked it to Mather Point, where we arrived just as golden hour began.

If you don’t know, golden hour is right around sunrise or sunset and the lighting, colors, and atmosphere are spectacular.  

God bless.  It was an incredible experience.  Click here to see the photos we snapped of the sun rising over the canyon walls.

We hung out for essentially all of golden hour, just drinking in the beauty, and then quickly ran back to the car to drop off a couple things before beginning our hike.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

The Rim Trail

Perhaps the most ambitious decision of my hiking life so far was to decide to hike the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon.  A thirteen mile trail that follows the rim for almost its entire length, the trial is “easy,” with very few elevation changes and a great deal of it is paved.  

I have never hiked or walked or ran anything close to thirteen miles straight.  I had minimal faith in us completing the entire trail, and in actuality we started at Mather Point, which is not the trail head but about 0.8 miles from it.  Will, on the other hand (remember the guy who can run a six minute mile and crush me with his pinky finger?) is very accustomed to twelve+ mile treks.  He was exceedingly optimistic.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

We set out around 6:30 in the morning with packs on our backs.  I brought all of the camera gear because when are you ever going to hike the rim trail at the Grand Canyon again?  Probably never.  Will brought all of the snacks and water.  

Literally every turn and bend in the trail had us stopping in awe.  For photos, for staring, for moments of sheer joy and amazement.  God spent a little more time on you, Grand Canyon.  

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

There are a few great things about the Rim Trail.  Like I said above, the trail has very few elevation changes, so it is a fairly flat hike.  You aren’t climbing down into the canyon.  If you want to do that and you are very fit, the Bright Angel Trail might be for you.  Click here for some other day hikes at the south rim. 

The Rim Trail follows the same route as many of the shuttles, so you get some fantastic (and occasionally crowded) view points along the way.  However, because you’re hiking and not shuttle hopping, you also get the in-between view points that the shuttles don’t stop at.  Granted, there won’t be stairs and railings and information plaques at these view points, but who needs that when you have… the Grand Canyon literally in front of you for thirteen miles?

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

Tip:  get up early to get a parking spot inside of the park, set out exploring before it gets super hot, and even if you’re there during peak season (or Labor Day Weekend, like us), the crowds will be significantly more manageable at ungodly morning hours.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

An interesting aspect of hiking at a place as widely known as The Grand Canyon is that you will encounter an incredible amount of ethnicities in just one day.  In our experience, this was mostly wonderful and exciting.  Occasionally you will encounter cultural differences that may be frustrating, such as a family camped out at a view point taking literally a hundred photos while you are obviously waiting (politely) for them to finish.  But all-in-all, we had great experiences with everyone on the trail.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

We came across four deer at one point who were not even ten feet from the trail.  They were extremely comfortable with humans. 

We stopped after three miles to eat some granola bars, drink some water, and apply sunscreen.  The sun, having fully risen, was beginning to bathe the trail in its late summer light and my plaid shirt went in my backpack soon after we set off hiking again.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

Some view points just get you.  Right in the feels.  Let me tell you, even when you are very tired and your legs and feet are killing you, this view never gets old.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

We didn’t go to the Visitor Center prior to our hike—mostly because it wasn’t open yet—so it was nice to have certain pieces of information available along the trail.  We wondered about who the first human to even see the canyon was.  Well this guy, Major John Wesley Powell, was the first explorer of the Grand Canyon.  He and his crew explored the Colorado River that cuts through the canyon in their row boats in 1869.  

We later learned that the Grand Canyon was awarded federal protection in 1893, but was not made a National Park until 1919, which was three years after the National Park Service was established.  The canyon was already receiving over forty thousand visitors a year, compared to today’s five million.  If you want to read more about the park’s history, click here to visit the National Parks website.  

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

I pulled out my zoom lens at this point as we took a small hiking break.  We stood and stared at details like these for a long time.  The shadows of passing clouds darkening the landscape below.  The jagged white rocks with tufts of vegetation on their sides.  The red rock, crumbling and sharp in stark contrast to the younger layers of white rock above them.  You can see the erosion and passing of time in front of you.

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

Game time: can you spot Will?

(Disclaimer to Will’s mother.  I’m sorry—it was his idea. And yes, he was terrified.)

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

Second game: can you spot the rain storm coming for us?

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

After stopping for lunch around eleven and then deciding to keep hiking after the comfort of a full stomach, the clouds began to roll in.  At first this was pretty gracious of them, seeing as the sun was high above us and the desert summer was getting hot on our necks.  

We began seeing rain storms in the distance, and even lightning farther away.  It was gorgeous.  It also made me a little nervous.

My legs had slowly begun to fall apart by this point of the hike.  It started with my calves and ankles and traveled slowly from my knees, to my quads, and finally to my glutes.  I was just about out of juice, but we only had a little over a mile left.  We would be done in no time!  Will’s encouragement was all I needed. 

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

Well friends, with only a mile to go, the heavens opened and it began to absolutely pour on us.  We quickly covered my backpack with my rain cover, pulled our hats snuggly to our heads, and clutched our freezing cold hands as we powered through the last mile of our day hike in a deluge of monsoon season rain.  Our hike that had been in the mostly comfortable eighty degree range quickly plunged into the low sixties. 

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

We did it!  What ended up being 12.2 miles for us took about seven hours.  My legs were falling off, I was limping the last mile, and our shoes were sodden.  But we did it.  We snapped a few pictures, climbed aboard a (very crowded) shuttle, and shivered the entire ride back to the Visitor Center.  We quickly got our National Parks Passports stamped, watched a short film about the formation of the canyon, perused the gift shop, and then basically flat out ran back to our car through the wind and rain to finally turn on the heater and warm up our soaked, frozen little selves.  

Hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon

I could not walk like a proper human being for several days afterward.  But we did it.  When again in my life will I have the opportunity to walk almost the entire Grand Canyon South Rim Trail?  I’m so proud of us, but I am especially proud of myself.  I have been working out five days a week so that I could do THAT.  And I DID IT.  

Backpacking through Zion here I come.

What is the longest distance you have ever hiked?!  Leave it in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, let me know by giving it a “like,” and if you haven’t joined our family yet, hit that subscribe button!

Until next time,
Jamie out.

Read More:
Labor Day Part I Labor Day Part II

Chiricahua National Monument

Part two in our exploration of Arizona’s National Parks.

We have discovered not only that there are a plethora of parks in Arizona, but that a good amount of them are perfect for day trips.  National Parks are incredible preservations of nature, often highlighting a significant aspect of American culture and encouraging people to explore natural rock formations, caves, mountains, lakes, and forests.  

The National Parks of Arizona have yet to let us down.  We last visited the Coronado National Memorial where we  learned about the Spanish and Mexican influence in our culture and explored a 600 foot deep cave.  This time, we grabbed our passports and our friends and drove a few hours away to see some pretty spectacular rock formations.

Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

The monument was created in 1924.  The Chiricahua Mountains are an inactive volcanic range surrounded by desert grasslands.  The monument is in a particularly exquisite area that once experienced quite violent volcanic activity.  The ash formed into rocks and through the passing of time, incredible rock formations, forests, and wildlife have created an ecosystem that is worth venturing out to see.  

Chiricahua National Monument

Our first stop was in the Visitor Center to stamp our passports.  All of the National Parks should have a stamp station, and additionally should have passports on sale if you don’t have one already!  Our friends J and M picked one up!  The stamps always have the name of the park and the date you visit so it’s an awesome way to keep track of where you’ve been and have a memento that lasts a lifetime.

Chiricahua National Monument

We spent a little time in the Visitor Center perusing their prickly pear jam selection, as well as learning about the local plant and animal life.  Apparently the rocks of the Chiricahuas are called “rhyolite” and the monument was created to protect them.  

We planned a three mile hike so that we could see many of the rock formations, which sometimes tower hundreds of feet into the air.  

Chiricahua National Monument

Echo Canyon Loop Trail

There is an iconic rock formation known as “Pinnacle Balanced Rock” that is probably the most photographed feature of the park.  Unfortunately, it is over a seven mile hike to see it and this girl had not brought enough snacks (or let’s face it, leg muscles) to brave that trek.

However, the incredible and totally reasonable Echo Canyon Loop Trail worked perfectly with our 1:30pm arrival time and promised to show off the features of the park spectacularly well.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

Beyond the rock formations, there are plenty of faults, lava flows, and other caves to explore along the route.  Our friend J got extremely excited about the prospect of bouldering and quickly talked everyone into climbing on basically everything.  Let’s just say, it took us a little over three hours to go three miles.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

None of us could get over the rock formations.  Everywhere you turned there was a valley of spires, balancing boulders, or tumbling caves and formations with jagged pieces.  It was red and brown and orange.  It was just stunning.  I couldn’t put my camera away.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

According to the National Parks website, the “Apaches called this place ‘The Land of Standing-Up Rocks,’” and one can see why.

Chiricahua National Monument

This crevice was super cool!  As we hiked down into a valley, we felt an incredible wind whipping through this formation.  It was great to stand right in the opening and feel a fierce cold wind on a hot summer day in the desert.

Chiricahua National Monument Chiricahua National Monument

This park is such a treasure.

Chiricahua National Monument

We found some water!  The summer monsoons have greened up the countryside and left their evidence in a little bit of running water through the mountains.  We also spotted a snake at the bottom of this little creek.

Chiricahua National Monument

We’re not sure what this plant was, but it was growing out of some kind of cactus and grew super tall.  They lined one part of the trail.

Chiricahua National Monument

Guys, I seriously suggest that you check out a National Park close to you.  There are some seriously cool things in nature that are worth the time and effort it takes to see and experience them.

If you liked this post, let us know down below with a like or a comment and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!

Until next time,
Jamie out.