Business Casual: Warm Weather Edition

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If you read my last post on wearing business casual clothing in the cold weather seasons, I'm glad you're back for some more!  If not, be sure to check it out because I repeated some of the same pieces from those outfits in this post.   Picking out these outfits was quite a challenge due to the fact that I walk to and from class and Arizona temperatures were making me sweat through all my cute tops :( 

Let's start with tops.  I have learned that simple is better for the heat, aka black and other neutrals, so they don't show sweat stains haha.  While I stick to this most of the time, I also like to not wear the same thing everyday so I found that wide strap tank tops are great to avoid sweating and can still be layered with a light cardigan for cooler weather or chilly lecture halls.    
I hope this helped to alleviate some stress about dress codes you may be facing in the future (after the quarantine the ends of course), whether it be for school or work, it really isn't that bad!  
XOXO, Cierra   
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1 Day in...Boston, MA

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Sometimes you just need a getaway and what better way to do that than to spend one day somewhere you’ve never been!  This is exactly what my mom and I did in Boston, Massachusetts. We wanted to see what it was like but didn’t have a lot of time to spend there so we spent 1 day in the city and I’m going to tell you all about it!  

We started off the day landing in Boston at about noon, our next flight was at 6, this meant we had to use our time wisely.  I found the perfect solution to avoid lugging our carry ons through the city that not only solved that, but also allowed us to be near the water which we always love!  We took Rowe’s Warf Water Taxi from Logan Airport to the downtown Boston Harbor area. It was so easy! All we had to do was take a free shuttle (shuttle 66) from the baggage claim area to the water taxi pickup area.  There are two taxi companies that use the same dock area, but only Rowe’s Warf offers baggage storage so we looked for their sign, waited about 20 minutes, and then our boat was there! Our captain was very pleasant, we paid our $30 each (card only, which includes the cost to hold baggage and the trip back to the airport) and then we were off!  This view of Boston is really unique because unless you’re on a water taxi or take a day charter cruise you would never see it. We were the only passengers on our boat and took the opportunity to get in as many pictures as we could! In all to get to the other side of the harbor from the airport, including the shuttle and wait time, it took about 45 minutes.  Once we were at the dock we took our bags to the water taxi office, they took our bags, and gave us a claim ticket. We also requested our ride back to the airport for later that afternoon before we left. The hours for Rowe’s Warf Water Taxi services are normally 7am-7pm, though they are extended to 10pm from April 2-November 1. This would also be a fantastic option if you opted to stay at any of the hotels near the airport and wanted to get across the harbor to the city.  




The dock area we arrived to where the office was located was very cute.  It had a few restaurants and many apartment buildings. We opted to start adventuring and walked about 5 minutes to Christopher Columbus park and Long Warf where you can walk along the waterfront, sit for a picnic, play with your dog, or just wander.  Right in this area as well we found a huge market area called Quincy Market. This was a gem because it had restaurants, fast food, souvenirs, boutiques, and just felt so alive. If you keep your eyes open you can even be transported back in time in the “Cheers” themed restaurant!  This is also a great area if you want to find a guided tour or hop on, hop off tour bus.  




 Jeans | Top is old Loft | Shoes | Tote | Jacket | Sunnies 
       
We strolled around the market for about an hour before deciding we were in need of some lunch before our taxi back to the airport.  Being in Boston, right on the water, I naturally needed to find some good seafood. One person recommended James Hook for lobster rolls, but we opted for a less casual option at the Sea Grille.  I had a cup of clam chowder with a piece of corn bread and a rose sangria. The clam chowder was absolutely delicious! I like to think it was the freshness of the ingredients that really made it stand out.  There was even a fresh clam on the top for me to eat! If seafood isn’t your thing, my mom had a massive cheeseburger with fries that she said was very good as well, she ate nearly the whole thing so I believe her.    




I definitely don’t feel like we saw the whole city, but we got a taste of it in our short time there and now we know a little more about it!  In the future I would add in visiting the public library as its supposed to be beautiful, one of the multiple sporting event options, and maybe even a boat tour whale watching or to one of the harbor islands.  

Would you be up for a quick trip like this somewhere or do you like a longer stay??
XOXO, Cierra

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How to Spend a Weekend in Denver, CO

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After 2 fun-filled weekend trips to Denver, I finally feel confident that I can share some great tips to have the best trip!  Denver is a bustling city and it definitely can feel overwhelming trying to figure out how to fill your time.  From food to beer to beautiful hikes, it really has something for everyone.

Where to Eat & Drink:
Avanti Food & Beverage
This place was the first food court style market we went to.  They have quite a few different restaurants all in one building with a bar and rooftop area.  The rooftop views are stunning of the whole downtown area, though it was raining the day we went so we didn’t get to enjoy the rooftop area as much.  We opted to order from Bistro Georgette; a croque-madame & steak frites.  This was very yummy, but if you’re feeling something different there’s also Mexican, pizza, fish, and southern food options!  We also grabbed some drinks from the bar, and while I never figured out exactly what they were called, they have these adult slushy capri suns that just looked like what summer should be made of!  If you venture here consider yourself warned, this place is very popular and was packed when we went!  


  

Stanley Marketplace
You might start to see a common theme; these food court style warehouses are so popular here!  Stanley Marketplace was another one we tried, this one has way more shops and food options to explore.  There are also fitness studios and even a dentist office.  We ate at Rosenbergs Bagels and Delicatessen; an everything bagel egg sandwich and matzo ball soup.  If you need to keep cool and avoid the hot summer sun, walking around the two levels is a great way to kill time!



We found this restaurant because we were on the hunt for a place that did happy hour on Saturdays.  Fortunately, they offer it from 4-6 everyday!  I was able to find out about the everyday happy hour by using the app HHaP Denver which is a log of basically every happy hour in the city!  It isn’t full-proof but it definitely helps narrow it downs with filters like dog friendly, deals starting soon, and drink or food deals.  I highly recommend their Dragonfly Spritz, it was so tart and refreshing!  My boyfriend had the Kentucky Buck and said it was good if you want something a little stronger.  We also tried the avocado toast, chopped salad, and artichokes.  All the food we got was delicious and surprisingly filling.  The bar area has garage style walls that open to the patio and allow for a wonderful breeze.  



Central Market
Surprise, surprise!  Another food collective!  I told you these were popular.  This one we just went to for drinks, but we definitely wandered through the food option wishing we were hungrier.  It’s conveniently located in the RiNo District and the blended painkiller I had was like a tropical vacation in a glass.



Ice Cream Riot
This is a must if you have a sweet tooth!  They not only have cheddar goldfish flavored ice cream, they also have poptart ice cream sandwiches!!  I had never thought of this before, but wow is it a great combo.  We chose the chocolate ice cream with a chocolate chip flavor poptart.  One sandwich was more than enough for us to share and it did get a little messy as it melted.  If I went back I would want to try the cinnamon ice cream with the cinnamon brown sugar poptart! 



This is the IT place for brunch, but with that delicious reputation comes some long waits.  I’d recommend using the app to book your reservation ahead of time if you plan on going.  We only had to wait about 20-30 minutes and used this time to wonder around the neighborhood nearby.  Once we got our table I was so excited for my French toast, which did not disappoint.  They also have tons of more savory options and a large drink selection, I went with the cranberry mimosa!  



Since this was one of my favorite places in college, I just couldn’t resist checking out this location to compare!  I will say, while the atmosphere is definitely different as an adult, the food is still as good as ever.  Whether you want a rice bowl or a huge burrito, either one is guaranteed to fill you up.  There’s indoor and outdoor seating options at every location I’ve seen, and of course the best margs you can find being served from open to close!

This was another happy hour gem.  We went around 5pm on a Friday and it wasn’t busy until about 40 minutes after we got there.  Not only are there some great menu options, the restaurant is also conveniently located so you can walk around the Denver Pavilions and 16th Street Mall.  I highly, highly, highly recommend the chicken sandwich and pomegranate martini!  It may sound weird to recommend chicken at a steakhouse, but this sandwich is worth it.  It has Brie on it so you know it’s delicious.



American Culture
This was definitely one of favorite drink stops!  They have 12 different brands of kombucha on tap and offer flights, glasses, and even growler options!  If you love kombucha or have never even tried it, I would make some time to stop in.  The flights of 4 different kombucha is only $8 and the best opportunity to try it out for the first time or find a new favorite.  In case you’re still on the fence, kombucha has health benefits like improved gut health, weight loss, and decreased chance of heart disease.  My favorite flavor we tasted was the Alpine Lavender with Blue Razz following in a close second.



Where to Explore:
 For a mere $10 you can taste the Rockies, in the Rockies!  What I mean is you’ll get 4 full size beers and a commemorative beer glass.  Plus, there’s a tour of the whole brewing process and history included too.  This is the 2nd time of done this tour, but the 1st time doing it as an over 21 individual who actually got to enjoy the samples.  It’s so fun to see the copper vats that hold the hops and the conveyor belts that box the cans.  Plus, this is the freshest Coors you can ever taste!  It is about 30 minutes outside of Denver, in Golden, but the drive is pretty and Golden itself is a very quaint little town surrounded by beautiful forests and a river.  We had to wait about 45 minutes-an hour to get on the bus to the tour start even though it was a week day so definitely plan for a little bit of wait time or try to get there when it first opens.  You have to take the bus to the tour area or else you can’t take the tour, you can only get into the gift shop, so don’t try to skip the line!



This was the first hike we did in Denver, well about an hour outside of Denver to be exact, and it definitely showed why Colorado is so well know for it’s hiking.  It’s rated a moderate hike and I would agree, it wasn’t terribly hard but it also wasn’t a walk in the park.  It took us about 2 hours in total and is a 4.2 mile loop.  Along the way you’ll see a creek and some small water falls leading up to the actual falls.  We opted to get to the falls then climb up them and do the top portion of the loop trail back.  There were amazing views and it was nicely shaded for a good portion of the time.  We got there at 8am and already the parking area was full and we had to park on the street, however, the trail itself never felt full until we were about halfway back to the trailhead.


Located right near the Lower Maxwell Falls trailhead is Evergreen Lake.  It was a good size and looked very popular so we decided to stop in.  There were options to rent kayaks, paddle boards, and paddle boats, along with a golf course across the parking lot.  We jumped at the opportunity to paddle board, even though the water was a little chilly, and it cost $20 per person for 1 hour.  It’s not a swimming lake so I just hoped I wouldn’t end up wet at all.  Since it was July the summer storms start at about 2pm each day and coincidentally we started paddle boarding at about 1:45pm.  We stuck out the drizzling rain because it really wasn’t that bad, but eventually were called in because of lightning.  I would recommend going early in the day to get the most out of your time, but even with the storm it was still an incredibly fun experience to say I’ve paddle boarded in Colorado!  If you’re there in winter instead, they offer ice skating too!



City Park
This wasn’t one of the parks we walked around, we stuck to the one near the neighborhood we stayed in, but I felt it needed to be included after hearing that it often has really fun events.  Not only does it have tons of grass and walking trails, plus a lake you can paddle boat in, it also hosts things like Jazz in the Park with food trucks and live music.  If you get a chance, grab a blanket and some drinks and head out to see what’s happening that night!  It's also the location of the Denver Zoo & Museum of Nature and Science.

This was the second hike we chose to do and I’m so glad we did!  This area was near Idaho Springs, about 1 hour and 20 minutes outside of Denver.  You have to pay $5 cash per vehicle to park, but even when we got there around 1pm there was still plenty of parking available.  The hike itself is ranked moderate and is 1.9 miles out and back.  In the beginning I was slightly intimidated because it is a steep, rocky trail with very little shade.  While this does last for about 3/4 of the hike up, it isn’t long at all, and then flattens out.  Then you arrive at a beautiful lake with snow on the mountains right past it.  We hiked around the lake over to the snow first because of course we needed to really see this snow that existed in the middle of July!  There were lots of kids sledding down it, and even a few brave skiers you hauled their skis up the hill and skied back down.  We then followed the bottom part of the snow over to some cliffs we had seen people jumping off.  This trail wasn’t very well marked so we had to wing it a little to find our way and it definitely wasn’t an area I recommend attempting with kids or dogs.  It featured quite a few bushes we had to dodges, rock areas we had to climb, and a tiny little path on the edge of the water towards the end.  It was cool to finally reach the cliffs so my boyfriend could jump in (the water was way too chilly for me to attempt it!) since not a lot of people seemed to make their way over there.  We were fortunate enough to be there when the water level was high, otherwise the cliff diving could have been very dangerous and we would not have attempted to go over there.  Always be cautious when choosing to do things like this and make sure the area is clear of debris or stray sticks and rocks.  In total we spent about 2 hours on the hike, though many people seemed to spend a good portion of the day there!  If you wanted to pack a lunch it would make for a great picnic area.





Filled with bars, restaurants, and fantastic street art the RiNo District is a great option if you want to wander around.  Central Market is nearby, along with tons of other options.  I mostly enjoyed looking at the different murals we passed!



16th Street Mall
This mile long pedestrian promenade in downtown is filled with windows to shop and places to grab a bite.  It’s a very bustling area and at certain times of the year it even has pianos on the sidewalks for people to sit and play!  

Denver Pavilions
This 3 story outdoor mall area in Downtown Denver is another option with tons of shops and restaurants, and even a movie theater.  We stopped in to see what was around after dinner one night and the area was very alive.  Don’t make the same mistake we made by looking for “the best view of Denver” because it definitely isn’t what you’d expect it to be haha. 



Shockingly, even after doing all of this there’s still plenty more on my list for next time!  If you have some extra time I’d add in the Blue Moon Brewery for lunch, drinks at 54thirty, and a hike to Hanging Lake!
XOXO, Cierra






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A Review of the Best Carry-On Bag & Updated Packing List

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I've been on the hunt for a better carry-on bag for years.  I've tried designer totes, backpacks, duffel bags and nothing seemed to hold enough and when they did it was never organized well.  Recently I stumbled upon the Baggallini Overnight Expandable Laptop Tote with RFID Phone Wristlet and let me tell you, IT'S A GAME CHANGER!  


I waited to share anything about it until I had fully tried it out and now, after 6+ flights with it, I stand by my statement.  When I got this bag in the Charlotte Airport, I already had a carry-on tote and roller bag so in order to buy it I had to find somewhere to put it.  I kid you not, I fit my entire carry-on tote into this bag and continued carrying it like that for the rest of the week.  That just goes to show how much it can hold & it still fit under the seat on each plane.  There is a zipper on the bottom that allows the bag to extend out further for weekend trips, but even with my whole tote inside it I didn't have to extend it.


Not only can this bag be carried as a tote, it also has a cross body strap if that's more your style.  Aside from these two straps, my number one favorite feature is the third strap on the back that attaches it to my roller bag.  This strap allows it to sit on top of my carry-on roller bag without falling off as I'm on the go!  I will never purchase another carry-on bag that doesn't have this strap.


I also love the variety of pockets it has.  There's a slip pocket for a laptop or tablet, a slip pocket outside for a phone, a zipper pocket inside and 2 outside, a snap closure drop pocket outside and it comes with a little travel wristlet that offers RFID protection.  If you aren't taking advantage of RFID protection when you travel, its a must!  It keeps hackers from being able to steal your card information via scanners.  I use these sleeves on my debit and credit card normally, but having the option to put them in the wristlet and transfer it from the tote to my day-to-day purse is so convenient.  

Now that I have this tote I also wanted to share what I'm filling it with on my trips lately.  So here are my carry-on must haves:

Sheet masks to combat dehydration
Disinfectant wipes for the seat, air vent, and tray table area 
Water bottle (I love this one because it can do hot tea or cold water!)
• Snack bag with tea bags, crackers, granola bars, and hard candies
• Current book and reading glasses
• Sunglasses
• Bag with chargers and earbuds, all organized with twist ties
• iPad
• Pen and notepad
• My retainer (especially on overnight flights so I can sleep with peace of mind that my teeth aren't shifting), pills, and vitamins
Bag with emergency medicines like Tums, Benadryl, and Tylenol
• A wrap to use as a blanket, scarf, or towel
• On longer trips I also include the Trtl pillow hooked to one of the straps (it is amazing to help you actually get some sleep on flights!) and compression socks to help with circulation!



I want to know what your travel must-haves are and if you think there's a better travel bag out there let me know so I can give it a try!
XOXO, Cierra

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Business Casual: Cold Weather Edition

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Let me tell you, I thought having to dress in business casual everyday for class would be so fun!  Who wouldn't want to pick out cute outfits everyday, right?  Well, that lasted about a week until I realized that I missed my leggings and athleisure clothes.  While Arizona may not get as cold as other areas, we do still have a little bit of Fall & Winter seasons!  Not to mention, sometimes the lecture halls feel like it's winter, even in early August.  

After a full year of classes and switching up my wardrobe, I finally think I've got it down!  I figured I can't be the only one who has a dress code to follow so now I'm going to share my 5 favorite outfits I've put together for the colder Fall and Winter weather.  Each piece can be mixed in with tons of other options for both warm and cold weather, but I'll come back to some warm weather outfits in a future post!  All links are to the exact brand, though some of the styles are older so I linked the most similar newer ones that are available.



Shoes (old White House Black Market) | Pants | Top | Backpack

To start, I walk to and from class everyday so finding a good pair of shoes that still fit the dress code was priority number one.  The shoes in this post are amazing.  They have been put to the test and passed with flying colors; no blisters or aching feet!  I love the support they offer since I not only walk a lot now, but will be on my feet a lot in my future rotations.  



Shoes | Pants | Top | Belt | Tote | Earrings


For bottoms I had to really search to find quality ones that still fit me well.  I found that the cheaper brand ones I started with didn't breathe well and stretched out so quickly.  Loft, Express, and Calvin Klein have been my saving grace with this.  I tried to stock up on neutral colors and patterns so I could re-wear them, while still looking fresh.  For class I wear pants, skirts, and dresses with equal frequency, but I believe once I'm in rotations I will mainly be wearing pants for more comfort and mobility.
The last thing I want to touch on is accessories for these outfits.  I like to keep my jewelry simple with just some stud earrings or subtle statement earrings, a dainty necklace, and if I don't have any labs that day, some rings.  On days I know I have labs I avoid jewelry so I won't have to remove it in the locker room.  To keep all my things together I use a backpack, though I also often see large totes carried in class, it's really up to personal preference on what's more comfortable for you.
These outfits will be on repeat all season long because they are the perfect mix of warmth, comfort, and style.  I'm definitely not an expert on winter outfits but I hope you found this helpful!  Do you have any questions I didn't cover about what I wear for class that I can include in the warm weather wardrobe post?  
XOXO, Cierra
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The Vet School Series: Interviewing

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It's that time of year again, vet school interviews time!!!  I can’t believe it’s been three years already since I was interviewing.  This can be incredibly stressful, I know, but I'm going to try to ease at least some of the fears or concerns you may have.  I'll start by saying I had 5 interviews, 4 in person and 1 over Skype.  Prior to these interviews I had done 3 phone interviews, 3 panel interviews, and 1 one-on-one interview.  This was over a 3 year period so I was comfortable but not completely confident in my interview skills.  To combat this I sought help from my university's career services center, which offers mock interviews.  I found this very helpful, I was able to tell them what I was interviewing for and they prepped common vet school interview questions.  It was set up very similarly to a real interview, then after he went through what I did well, what I could improve upon, and general tips.  I highly recommend attempting to find something like this prior to any kind of interviews because an outside perspective can be very helpful, even if you feel like you don't have anything to improve upon.

There are a lot of resources to find typical questions that are asked during interviews so I'm not going to cover that, but I will say it isn't a bad idea to research current topics in the field and prep answers to common questions you find.  A tip I got for answering scenario questions like "tell me about a time when ..." was STAR, this will prevent you from rambling and never actually answering the question (which I tend to do sometimes).  It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.  Basically, you word your answer so it covers those points in that order to fully answer the question without unnecessary information taking up your time.  It also was calming for me to take a second and think through the question with that approach so that I could form an organized answer quickly.

The next big part of interviews is how they're set up, this seemed similar from school to school for me.  For the in person interviews it was a full day event with the interview, a tour, financial aid presentation, lunch, and words from a student panel and Dean of the school.  All 4 of my in person interviews felt very relaxed and I was able to ask the current students any questions I had.  The tour is also important because you want to be able to see yourself on the campus and feel comfortable there.  

For the day of the interview I brought a tote bag with snacks, water, a padfolio, a pen, my ID, makeup for touch-ups, and an extra pair of pantyhose.  The ID was super important because some schools required it for check-in.  I took my padfolio and pen out of the tote for the interviews so I could jot any notes or questions down.

In regards to interview attire, business professional dress is a must.  Even during a Skype interview you want to look the best you possibly can.  For every interview I wore this burgandy Express skirt suit (try to wear a color if you can because everyone seems to wear black!), nude pantyhose, nude pointed toe heels, and a blue or white Brooks Brothers button down (they don't require ironing so they're amazing to pack!).  I curled my hair and left it down, though it was tucked behind my ears so it wouldn't fall into my face.  My jewelry was one ring, a pearl necklace, and pearl earrings.  I did my makeup as I would for a casual event with a light nude lipstick (color: Syrup) and nude eyeshadows.

Some schools have other events before or after the interviews, like a dinner.  I would follow the same dress code for these events as well unless it is otherwise stated.  I wore mauve dress pants, a thin black belt, nude pointed toe heels, a white button down, and a wool coat.

Interview Dinner Outfit

Interview Outfit

Interview Outfit

Skype interviews are a little different just because you don't physically go anywhere but the rest remains basically the same.  My biggest tip is to try to reserve a space somewhere, I chose my university's library study rooms, that you can sit with a plain background behind you and where you will not be disturbed.

I hope this calmed some of the anxieties you may have had, if not feel free to reach out!  I would love to hear about your experiences or what you have coming up!
XOXO, Cierra
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1 Day in...Sedona, AZ

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With the weather still being warm in Phoenix it's always a good idea to find some ways to cool down.  One of my new favorite ways is to escape to Sedona for the day!  It's a quick 2 hour drive from Phoenix and at least a 10 degree difference in temperature.  This was my second time driving up for the day and it is honestly the perfect escape.  For this trip I like to pack a backpack or CamelBak, sunscreen, plenty of water, snacks, and layers since it can be a little chilly or even sprinkle!  

Food in Sedona can be pricey, so if you're budgeting I would recommend packing a lunch and snacks!  We forgot this and ended up grabbing sandwiches at Red Rock Deli before we ventured out to hike!

After you're in town I highly recommend heading for the Devil's Bridge Trail.  It can be found off Dry Creak Road where there is a parking area, public restrooms, and a nice little map to decide which trail you want to take.  I prefer the Dry Creek Road Trail over the others because it is quicker and easier, in total about 2 and a half hours including photo stops.  


Once you head out from the parking area you come to this sign on a dirt road.  The first 3/4 of the 3.6 miles is a lot like this dirt road, nothing really intense to walk through.    



After about 15-20 minutes of walking you will reach the trailhead!  From here you only have about 2.5 more miles to go, again it really is pretty flat terrain still.


The last 30 minutes or so are when it starts to get a little more difficult.  There are about 4 sets of dirt stairs to get up, but I have seen people of all ages on the trail doing just fine!


The first main view area at about the 3/4 mark shows off the surrounding mountains beautifully and is a great option for selfies!  There's also amazing plant life along the whole trail, like this blooming prickly pear so be sure to keep your eyes open.  There can also be wildlife like snakes, scorpions, and other animals on the trail to be cautious of.



At this point you're so close to the bridge!!  About 10 minutes before you're there you'll hit two steep incline step areas.  These are more difficult than the previous ones but there are plenty of areas to hold onto to get yourself up.  If you take your time there shouldn't be any issue getting through it!  I promise that even though the last bit is a little intimidating, it is well worth it!


This is the Devil's Bridge!  It is a natural structure and even more incredible in person.  It's wider in person than it seems so taking pictures isn't terrifying but please be cautious, there's no need to do anything crazy or dangerous just for a photo.  If you can't get enough of the views there's a ton of other trails to hike and quite a few options available to stay for a few days.

How have you been escaping the summer heat?
XOXO, Cierra





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