I don't know what I was expecting from a place called Death Valley but somehow I was still shocked by the conditions in the park. At the visitors center we stood beside a sign that read 119 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easily one of the hottest temperatures I've ever experienced. Why we had to visit at the hottest time of the year is beyond me but I'm definitely glad we went. It still blows my mind that just a day before we were on the coast where I was worried I hadn't brought enough warm clothes.

We did a lot of driving in Death Valley National Park, and not too much else since we're both absolute babies in the heat. One of the few spots we stopped was at Mesquite Sand Dunes. It was insanely hot. So hot that I could feel the heat through my shoes which I thought was crazy. After roaming around in the sand a bit shooting photos we scurried back to the car. We sat down, turned on the air, chugged some water, and realized there was a funny smell in the car.

"Do you smell burning rubber?"
"I think it might be my shoes...?"
Lifts foot as close to face as possible in the car. "Yep!"

That sand was so hot our shoes were actually melting. The park's brochure actually said of the eighteen heat related deaths in the park sine 2000 three of them occurred in the sand dunes. My photos don't really seem to capture the size of the dunes and just how expansive the area was. But to see this place in person and experience heat that oppressive that fact really isn't all that shocking.

The goal was to not spend too much time in the park since we needed to get out of the area before we got too tired. Every other night that we had tried to sleep in the car this trip it was miserable. The last thing we wanted was to be sleeping in the car in this heat. After the dunes we cruised to the visitor center to get stamps in our National Parks passport. We sat inside looking over the other main parts of the park trying to figure out what else we wanted to see. Death Valley National Park is massive, it actually has more miles of roads than any other national park. Sadly everything else we were interested in visiting suggested having some sort of fancy pants all terrain tire that our rental most definitely didn't have. Guess we'll just have to go back another time to see The Racetrack...

We made one last stop in the park, at Zabriskie Point. You walk up this steep hill to the an overlook where no matter which way you turn there is a gorgeous view. It kind of seemed like all the other visitors in the park that day we're following the same agenda as us - only get out of the car when absolutely necessary. This overlook, and the visitor center were the only place we really saw anyone else. Even with the crowd at Zabriskie Point it was a perfect last stop. It was so beautiful you could easily just tune everyone else out.

Right outside of the park there were tons of abandoned buildings. It was a busy-ish area and a great majority of them were fenced off  so we passed. We did manage to find another outside the fenced area that we stopped at. Just a small shell of a building but I love the photos of it nonetheless. I actually have a whole post of abandoned things we visited in the desert that I'll share another day. The desert is a wonderful place!


You can find more posts from our road trip under the "travel" tag. 

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Mural by the fantastic Erin Guido.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who thinks summer can sometimes be kind of stressful. There's so much pressure to have fun, which sounds strange but maybe you get what I mean...? Aside from the big road trip we haven't really done too much. Jeff has been busy shooting weddings and editing photos, and I've been hibernating (because humidity is my worst enemy) so bike rides, days spent exploring, and everything else have been few and far between.

Jeff's long time friend, also named Jeff, was in town for the week from Maine so we spent last Wednesday biking! I cannot even begin to tell you how good it felt to get out, ride, and enjoy the city again.

Jeff from Maine has the same bike as me!

After lunch we met up with Jason who took us over to one of his secret spots along the lake. We lounged around on the edge of the water, throwing rocks, and just relaxing. Tiny escapes hidden around the city are so awesome but the highlight of this stop for me was actually leaving. Instead of heading back through the weeds which were lousy with ticks we decided to follow the rocks along the shore. They got bigger, and bigger until we were just hopping around on massive boulders. Jason had been this way before, knew there was a fence/wall we'd eventually have to hop over but I think he may have underestimated how difficult it was going to be. Jeff got over pretty easily after some careful planning, Jason slowly maneuvered his way over, and my Jeff said "eh, let's go around." The rocks were slippery and it quite a fall if you did slip. I was kind of determined to get over so I grabbed on to a tree limb with each hand, walked my legs up the wall, and shimmied my way up until I was sitting on it. Basically it was one of the coolest things I've ever done. I'm always super pumped when I underestimate my body and it's ability to do something. I bragged about it the whole rest of the day (and yes, I am totally bragging right now.) It was way rad, I'm very sad there isn't video or at least a photo of my skills.

After that, we headed to Koko Bakery to meet up with Brandon and grab some bubble tea. I know I've mentioned Koko Bakery a few times before, I just love that place. The bubble tea is amazing, and they're super sweet there. The woman working even gave us a free loaf of some sort of fancy bread!

The evening included more photos, more miles, and even a neighborhood block party (complete with food trucks!) Nearly six hours later with 23 miles down I arrived back at home to shower and crash in bed. Days like this do not happen often enough!

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You guys, I made food! Like really really tasty food! 

Due to the fact that I formerly held the title of world's pickiest eater I never learned to love cooking. I can probably count the actual full meals I've made on one hand. While I was drafting up this post about how I've been a lot more open to trying new foods and am realizing that I'm not actually a picky eater at all I was contacted by Blue Apron. The timing could not have been more perfect!

Blue Apron is a company that delivers farm-fresh ingredients to you along with a super easy to follow recipe card (that has pictures!) so you can create delicious meals at home without ever even having to go to the grocery store. You get exactly the right proportions so there's no waste or question of what to do with the rest of your ingredients. They offer two types of plans, the 2-person plan ($9.99 per person per meal) and the Family Plan (feeds four + costs $8.74 per person per meal).  They can accommodate a variety of dietary preferences and personalize your meals each week based on your preferences. There's no commitment, you can skip or cancel at anytime, and shipping is always free.

Basically it's the coolest idea ever, and more than perfect for where I'm at right now in my relationship with food. I love eating but my creativity does not expand into the kitchen and I really do hate buying too much of an ingredient I'm only going to need a little bit of.

So last week while Jeff was editing wedding photos I went over to his house to make us lunch - by myself. Ahhh! He has much better lighting in his kitchen, and unlike me, he actually has kitchen supplies. With the two person plan you receive three meals. All three of our meals sounded delicious but I chose to make the seared pork chops with roasted sweet potato salad.

I was a little bit nervous to be cooking to be honest. Can I tell you guys a secret? Outside of bacon, I've never actually cooked meat before. Well... nuggets - but I'm going to say that definitely doesn't count. I was a vegetarian for around six years, and after that it just wasn't something I made for myself. Jeff is definitely the cook in this relationship. As soon as I plopped the pork chops down on the pan I shouted to Jeff "I'm cooking meat!!" Haha.

I can say without a doubt this was the tastiest meal I have ever made. Seriously. That was a dang good pork chop, and hey, guess what! I like sweet potatoes! Blue Apron meals are not only incredibly convenient, and delicious but gave me an opportunity to try things I probably wouldn't chose on my own. I knew I liked pork chops, but I've actually never had them with this. The sauce on them was seriously just amazing.

All of the recipes Blue Apron has can be prepared in 40 minutes or less. This meal was surprisingly easy and quick make. Like I said, I don't make meals by myself but Blue Apron makes it so simple. This is making me feel like cooking might actually be fun! (Who am I?!) They actually have an online cookbook with all of their current recipes available. Their rice and beef-stuffed poblano peppers look amaaaaazing.

Best of all? Blue Apron is offering the first 20 Dainty Squid readers their first two meals free! I am truly impressed with them, and I think you will be too!

This is a sponsored post but you best believe I am alllll about Blue Apron! Thanks for supporting the companies who support The Dainty Squid.

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199 : 365 Love love love this pennant by Seltzer Goods (and any excuse to photograph my collection of tiny globes)
   200 : 365 Ice cream night with my pals, no excuse needed.
 201 : 365 For some reason spiders LOVE living on my deck. My plants are covered in webs.
 202 : 365 No one in the world is happier than Klaus sitting on someone's lap. Such a baby.
 203 : 365 Some cute dude and my first outing with my new camera.
 204 : 365 Forever amused by my peeking jackalope.
205 : 365 Freshly washed beach trash, which sounds funny I suppose but I wanted it to be as bright as possible for my little project that I have in the works.

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All photos + text on this blog are property of Kaylah Doolan/The Dainty Squid unless noted. Powered by Blogger.