Dec 13, 2013
Samantha Angela
1 Comment

All I Want for Christmas 2013

All I Want for Christmas 2013

My 2013 Christmas Wish List:

1) BooksHarvest by Jim Crace, The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, and The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond are topping my list right now, but I’m open reading to others.

2) Flannel - I like this flannel shirt from L.L. Bean. Actually, anything from L.L. Bean is acceptable.

3) Minnetonka Moccasins - again, I will put some variation of moccasins on my Christmas list every year until I get them.

4) A Kitchen Scale – I just can’t bake properly without an accurate scale.

5) The Iron Islands – I can wear this necklace as I anticipate the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Plus it’ll look awesome with my direwolf t-shirt.

6) An Agenda – it’s suddenly becoming necessary in my life to keep track of what I’m doing and when. These agendas are super cute, plus my friend’s girlfriend makes them.

7) Yoga Pants – I like the long, fitted variety and I certainly would not be opposed to these awesome samurai yoga pants.

8) Yoga – Some passes to local yoga studios would be awesome. I love to practice in the community.

My Christmas Wish List looks a lot like last year’s and I’d still accept anything from my 2012 list. I guess my tastes change little from year to year and I rarely buy things that I want.

What do YOU want for Christmas this year? Maybe I’ll buy it for you!*

*Under no circumstances am I obliged to buy you anything for Christmas.

1 Comment
Dec 11, 2013
Samantha Angela
2 Comments

Zion in November – Other Hikes

This is part of my series on visiting Zion National Park in November.

I have already mentioned the grand hike that is The Narrows but here are a couple of other hikes that we did while we were in Zion.

Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock

I wouldn’t really call it a hike, per se. It’s an extremely short trail (it may take you 30 minutes round trip, tops) to the Weeping Rock lookout. Getting there is entirely uphill, but since it’s an out-and-back that means it’s as easy going down as it is strenuous going up.
The Weeping Rock is probably more fun to check out on a dry day because you’ll be able to see how the porous rock is seeping water. On a dreary, rainy day like the one we had when all the rocks in the canyon are weeping, well, it’s not so impressive. Another cool part of this hike is the ability to see ‘hanging gardens’ as ferns and other plants grow right out of the moist rock.

Angel’s Landing

Angel's Landing

Ahh…Angel’s Landing. Everyone wants to do this one to prove themselves. Everyone except people afraid of heights.
The first 2 mile portion of the hike is almost entirely uphill, beginning with a series of steep switchbacks. . .

Switchbacks on Trail to Angel's Landing

then a more gradual climb. . .

Trail to Scout's Lookout

. . . followed by even more switchbacks called “Walter’s Wiggles”.

Walter's Wiggles

This takes you to Scout’s Lookout which offers gorgeous views of the canyon and marks the beginning of the challenge.

Scout's Lookout

The last portion 1/2 mile of the trail is made up of narrow paths along the steep cliffs of a rock fin. There are anchored chains available to hold onto to keep yourself from falling off the rock face to your death, nearly 6000 feet below you.

Angels' Landing Hike
Note the chains in the background

I’d like to say that I did it, because I really wanted to, but alas I did not. With the harsh rain we experienced the combination of the cold, wet chains and the very slippery rock held me back. I began the trail and then reconsidered.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools Trail

Aside from The Narrows this 3 mile hike was my favourite because it is one of the most scenic.

In this case the rain worked in our favour as we were able to see waterfalls that aren’t flowing most times of the year.

Emerald Pools Trail 2

There are three parts to this trail: Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald pools. The trail to Lower pools is paved and not overly challenging. Beyond that the trail is unpaved and more rugged but never gets too strenuous. I usually prefer a really tough climb, but the views on this trail definitely make it worthwhile.

Who doesn’t love waterfalls?

2 Comments
Dec 4, 2013
Samantha Angela
3 Comments

Zion in November – Hike The Narrows

This is part of my series on visiting Zion National Park in November.

Hike The Narrows

DSCF4959

In Zion National Park, The Narrows is less of a hike and more of a wade up the running waters of the Virgin River that meander through the canyon. At some points it is narrow enough for you to touch both canyon walls as they reach skyward, perpendicular to the river.

Due to all the rain that was happening while we were visiting, there was a moderate risk of flash flooding in the canyon. This means hikers need to be aware of signs of flash flooding (like changing skies and increased sediment and debris in the water) and there is only a 15 minute window to either get washed away with the river or find yourself some higher ground.

Matt was apprehensive of the possibility of waiting 24 hours perched on the side of a cliff for a flood to subside but, knowing that hiking the Narrows was the thing I wanted to do the most in Zion, he acceded.

Good thing too, because this ended up being an awesome hike and probably our favourite part of the vacation.

DSCF4946

We rented a drysuit package for $50 from Zion Adventure Company which included walking sticks, boots, and what I would describe as the equivalent of a waterproof snowsuit that made me look like Lieutenant Worf of the Starship Enterprise. Luckily we were also able to rent extra fleece tops and bottoms for $2 a piece (it was unseasonably cold) and a waterproof bag so my camera wouldn’t get wet when I inevitably fell into the canyon waters.

Everything worked like a charm.

DSCF4961

I loved having to navigate through the water to find the shallowest, sandiest path of least resistance through the river. I loved walking against the current and feeling it pushing back on me as I tried to hike against the rushing waters. I loved walking back with the current and feeling how easily it propelled me forward.

DSCF4949

In the end we did hike into what is known as ‘Wall Street’, a narrow area with no opportunity for reaching higher ground in case of emergency. We hiked for about 10 minutes (being cautious of potential flash flooding) before turning around. So we didn’t quite make it into the narrowest areas of the canyon but the sights were beautiful nonetheless.

I was warm and dry for the whole hike in spite of wading in thigh-high rapids and having fallen into the water after tripping on some rocks. While I think the hike would be a bit more refreshing in the summer time when the temperatures are hot and drysuits are unnecessary, I appreciated the quietness of the canyon at this time of year. We only encountered 8 other hikers on our entire excursion.

This hike is a Must Do in Zion National Park.

DSCF4951

3 Comments
Dec 4, 2013
Samantha Angela
8 Comments

Tips for Visiting Zion National Park in November

Last weekend Matt and I returned from our annual BIG vacation which, this year, took us to Las Vegas Nevada and the National Parks of Southern Utah.

After 3 days of festivities that, in keeping with the first rule of Las Vegas, can’t be mentioned, our friends Kyle and Heather got married in a beautiful ceremony at Caesar’s Palace followed by probably one of the best meals of my life at Scarpetta.
The day after the wedding, Matt and I rented a Jeep leaving behind the city of lights in favour of the quiet outdoor recreation of Zion National Park.

When putting together an itinerary for our trip I found little information online with tips for visiting Zion National Park in November, near American Thanksgiving 2013. Not that many people come to the park at this time of year, so you can avoid crowds quite easily and manage to find a sense of serenity and humility here among the impressive canyon vistas.

Here are some tips that I gleaned from our 3 days in the National Park in late November 2013.

The Weather

Zion National Park - Utah

We experienced weather in the 40s and very rainy. We were told this kind of weather is unseasonable for November; it’s usually cold but dry.

The wet conditions were shitty for hiking on slickrock, but they were good for keeping the tourists at bay and giving us the chance to see some pretty wicked waterfalls.

We noticed that the park was much busier on the single day we actually saw sunlight, especially among young families.

The Shuttle

Most of the year, personal vehicles are not allowed in the park. A shuttle system takes tourists to all the trailheads and vistas which facilitates traffic. During November however the shuttle system only runs on the weekends.

The good thing about the shuttle is that it is very informative. A recording plays providing riders with information about the various points of interest in the park as you drive by them. It’s something you’d miss out on if you took your personal vehicle. It is possible, however, to miss out on the information if the shuttle is full of noisy people. This happened while we were there so I am sure it’s much worse during the peak travel season.

The Hiking

Zion National Park - Utah

The hiking in Zion varies greatly in terms of difficulty making it good for all skill levels. Many of the trails are paved, a few are wheelchair accessible, and all of them are very clearly marked. ‘Easy’ trails will be very easy for fit people and ‘Difficult’ seems to infer a rapid gain in elevation moreso than unsure footing.

Note that at this time of year the sun set just after 5pm so you have much less time than you would in the summer to fit all your hikes in before dark. Choose wisely and be aware of how much time it takes to hike a trail prior to going out.

I’ll be posting about a couple of hikes that we did end up doing, so stay tuned!
Edited to add: Hike the Narrows and Other Exciting Zion Hikes

Springdale

Springdale, UtahSource

The town of Springdale is at the main entrance to Zion National Park and primarily consists of hotels, inns, restaurants, and shops providing services for park tourists. So, of course, in the off season many shops and cafes are closed or operating on shorter hours. It was nearly impossible to find an open coffee shop after 3pm and only a handful of shops were open, leaving us with very little to do when we weren’t in the park.

The combination of short daylight hours and limited store operating hours meant that we packed it in early most nights. Very early.

Overall

There are a few drawbacks to coming this time of year like the shorter days, cooler weather, and limited services in town but the benefits of visiting during the off season outweigh the drawbacks, in my opinion.
I can deal with the cooler temperatures, in fact I think I prefer it to the heat of summer. While the heavy rain was a but off-putting, it’s not typical for November and it did provide us the opportunity to see waterfalls we otherwise would have missed. I liked that the park was quiet, especially on weekdays, making the experience with nature much more personal and peaceful.
I would definitely go back this time of year.

8 Comments
Nov 23, 2013
Samantha Angela
No Comments

Links for a Sunday Morning

Exercise During Pregnancy Enhances a Newborn’s Brain Development - Globe and Mail

The researchers aren’t sure why maternal exercise may boost newborn cognition, but one hypothesis is that increased oxygen uptake benefits the developing fetus as well as the mother. In the past, obstetricians typically advised women to take it easy and rest during pregnancy, but it’s now more commonly accepted that inactivity can be detrimental.

To Ride the Moscow Subway for Free, do 30 Squats - CNET

Riders have two minutes to perform the deep-knee bends in front of a special machine that can tell if they’re assuming the correct position.

Artists Stencil 9,000 Bodies onto Normandy Beach - Daily Mail

The idea is to create a visual representation of what is otherwise unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the Second World War Normandy landings. People understand that so many lives were lost that day but it’s incredibly difficult to picture that number.

Diet clue to why we over-eat - The New Zealand Herald

We found that regardless of your age or body mass index, your appetite for protein is so strong that you will keep eating until you get enough protein, which could mean eating much more than you should.

 

No Comments
Nov 20, 2013
Samantha Angela
No Comments

5/3/1 Cycle 11 Recap

BeastMode_thumb.jpg

This cycle of 5/3/1 was UNREAL folks.

I blew away every single weightlifting PR I’ve ever had. Ever. 

Last cycle I was just happy to have finally regained all my lost strength. This cycle though I’m ecstatic. I’m proud. I’m completely shocked.

I fucking love this programme.

Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 for Women

Main Lifts

I can’t even believe these numbers are real.

Deadlift: 250lb for 2 reps

Push Press: 130lb for 1 rep

Squats: 235lb for 4 reps

Bench Press: 150lb for 1 rep

I’m happy to have my husband back at the gym to spot me, just when I need him again (I was pretty terrified of crushing myself to death on that 150lb bench press) or injuring myself with the squat.

Accessory Lifts

Each day I did 4 exercises with a related muscle group to supplement my big lift. I performed 4 sets of these at mid range reps (5-8).

I haven’t been doing too much cardio, so I feel like I should start incorporating some more cleans and snatches to get my heart rate going. I’ll keep this in mind for my next cycle.

No Comments
Nov 17, 2013
Samantha Angela
3 Comments

Meet my niece

I’m an aunt for the first time. As of Thursday when my sister gave birth to this little bundle of cuteness. Internets, meet Fiona.

 Fiona

 

3 Comments
Nov 14, 2013
Samantha Angela
3 Comments

You Look Like You’ve Lost Weight!

you've lost weight

This week at the gym I was a bit startled when someone stopped me on my way to the water fountain for this conversation:

Guy: You look like you’ve lost weight!

Me: Uh..what?

Guy: You lost weight, haven’t you?

Okay, Sam, what do you say to this guy? You’ve lost weight since when exactly? I mean, yeah, you lost some weight from Yoga Teacher Training that you haven’t exactly gained back but that was a while ago. You actually look kind of bloated today; you’ve looked slimmer before today. Maybe it’s just this tight tank top you’re wearing?
. . . Just think of something. Say words, any words. . .
But you’re not even
trying to lose weight. You don’t want him to think that every girl who works out is trying to be a size 0, do you?
. . .Shit, just say something. . .

Me: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really weigh myself.

You liar.

Guy: Well, I’ve seen you working out pretty hard the last few years and you look like you’ve lost some weight. You look great! Keep it up!

Few years?! You’ve definitely put on nearly 20lbs in the last few years (Remember the 147lb bikini me? Now you’re closer to 170lb). But your clothes fit just as well so maybe a lot of that mass was muscle. Maybe you do look like you’ve lost weight.

…but wait a minute! You looked pretty great a few years ago too. Or so you thought. So, what’s this guy saying? You looked like shit all the while?

Couldn’t he have just said “You’re working out hard! Keep it up!” instead?

Me: Thanks! Have a great workout!!

I really do feel confused about the whole experience. I know the guy was trying to pay me a compliment and I love that he acknowledged my tough workouts (because, I tell you what, they are damn tough) however, I think it’s generally NOT a good idea to bring up someone’s weight loss at all, unless they mention it first.

A comparison between my body, past and present, can be a bit hard to take. I quite liked my body ‘then’ even if it (unbeknownst to me until Guy pointed it out) didn’t look as good as it does now. It feels offensive, as if I’m somehow better now than I was in a chubbier body.

And of course, if I happen to regain my fat and look the way I did a few year ago. . . then what? Am I going to go into a downward emotional spiral, thinking badly about my body because it doesn’t look as good as it once did, according to some random Guy’s opinion?

In the end I know Guy had the best of intentions and I’m going to walk away feeling positive about the experience.

That said, I would like to get the message out that there are other ways to pay someone a compliment than to focus on their size. Body size varies a lot through someone’s life and when you put value on a certain appearance, then the inevitable fluctuations in weight can be much harder, emotionally, for that person to bear.

3 Comments
Nov 10, 2013
Samantha Angela
1 Comment

Links for a Sunday Morning

Dinner Rituals Correlate With Child, Adult Weight - Science Daily

The higher the BMI of parents, the more frequent they indicated to eat with the TV on. Eating at the table in the dining room or kitchen was linked to lower BMIs for both children and parents. 

Mystery Solved: The Etymology of Dude - Slate

So where does dude come from? Evidence points to “doodle,” as in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” He’s the fellow who, as the song has it, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.”

Chicago Marathon Cheaters: Why Do They Do It – Chicago Tribune

There’s a small percentage of people who feel compelled to do it but don’t need to. It’s like a wealthy person who needs to shoplift. . . There are people who say, ‘I’ll give it my best and prepare as well as I can’ and realize there’s a degree of chance of how they’ll do that day. Then there’s another group with a win-at-all-costs type of policy.

Rob Ford and the triumph of the new hosers – Globe and Mail

A total hoser, Ford talks hoser and acts the hoser lifestyle. He even leads a hoser community, one that’s hardcore suburban, scorns urban sophistication and is well-pleased when Rob Ford and his brother Doug do an achingly close simulation of Bob and Doug McKenzie, on their weekly radio show. “I shouldn’t have got hammered,” as Ford said, is hoserdom defined.

Yoga Anatomist Paul Grilley Responds to the NY Times article on Women’s Flexibility – Teachasana

It doesn’t matter how “flexible” one’s ligaments are if the range of movement in the exercise is not enough to create compression.

A Wandering Mind is Not a Happy Mind – Harvard

A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.

1 Comment
Nov 7, 2013
Samantha Angela
5 Comments

Four Things

The Lost Symbol

I don’t know why I bother reading Dan Brown books. We’re not talking about literary masterpieces here. To his credit, they’re so damn suspenseful that I find them hard to put down, but when I finally finish my reaction is a resounding. . . (ellipsis for suspense)

“Meh”.

The Lost Symbol, which I just finished reading, wasn’t any different.

Deadlift word cloud

I hit 250lb deadlifts for 2 reps last night. That’s 1.5x my body weight! (I’ll save you the calculation. I weigh 165lbs) I was really stoked because I was not well-fed before attempting it and I was recovering from a cold. Next milestone: 275lb.

Knight-of-the-Global-Table-Adventure

The Global Table Adventure is almost complete.  Global Table Adventure has been my favourite blog for years now. Sasha talks about regional foods and cooks meals from every country in the world from A-Z. I love the writing, the pictures, and the recipes and I love learning about cultural differences and similarities in our dining choices. I hope she continues to share global recipes because I’m going to keep making them.
Some of my favourites? Irish Boxty, Grenadian Oil Down, Trini Stew Chicken, and Sudanese Peanut, Beef, and Spinach Stew

Keurig

I have a love hate relationship with the Keurig. We have one in my office at work and it’s so damn convenient that I’m having a hard time restricting myself to one coffee a day. I suspect a caffeine addiction will develop very, very soon.

 

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Samantha Menzies
  • e-mail: samanthaamenzies@gmail.com
  • Samantha Menzies is an opinionated young firecracker who just happens to enjoy distracting web surfers with chronicles of her mildly entertaining daily pursuits.

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