Relax Mode

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/3.6, 1/120 sec, ISO640
“Lantern View” Cedar Park, 2021

The past few evenings, my main mode of relaxation is to light my Dietz lantern, and watch soothing Japanese and Korean camping videos. The campsite setups are really cool, the views are often amazing, and the food looks absolutely delicious! It’s a little different from the normal camping in the States – the lack of picnic tables is notable – but I love to see the gear that people use. A lot of it is very おしゃれ (fashionable) and expensive, but really elevates the experience from basic camping to glamping.

I really enjoy camping, and have shifted towards a more minimalist and lightweight gear set up. This is essential if you are carrying everything on your back for miles before you get to the campsite. But for car-camping, why not splurge and bring the heavy gear, larger stoves, full cooler, and extra lanterns and string lights? 😄

Here are a few of the channels I have been enjoying:

I hope you had a nice day! またね~

Morning Ride at Lake Somerville State Park

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5, 1/250 sec, ISO640
“Mango at the Lake” Lake Somerville, 2021

We woke up early to catch the sunrise, but heavy cloud-cover prevented us from seeing it rise above Lake Somerville. However, when it finally appeared a bit higher in the sky, it was beautiful!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/7.1, 1/250 sec, ISO200
“Sun Rays” Lake Somerville, 2021

My friend Také and I went for a short bike ride around the camp area on the hike and bike trails and saw a bunch of deer, rode through numerous spiderwebs, and worked up a good appetite for breakfast later on. I let him ride Mango, which is has front suspension, trigger-shifters, and a more upright riding position, while I rode Rossa which has no suspension, has a more aggressive position, and friction shifters.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 20.5mm, f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO320
“Rossa and Mango” Lake Somerville, 2021

It was so much fun, but I blew it and forgot to bring the GoPro for the ride! 😒 Man, I suck! Also, Rossa had a flat front tire when we got back to camp. Double-bummer.

But the ride was awesome so it’s all good!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/9, 1/140 sec, ISO200
“View from the Overlook” Lake Somerville, 2021

Birthday Camping

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/680 sec, ISO640
“Car Camp” Lake Somerville, 2021

Today we did an overnight camp at Lake Somerville State Park to celebrate our friend’s birthday. I haven’t been car-camping in a while so it was extra fun. Not worrying about pack weight like you do when you are backpacking felt like a luxury, and we took advantage of it by bringing a huge tent, cooler filled with beverages, my big tripod, as well as two bicycles and fishing gear.

It was a lot of fun hanging out around the grill (we made burgers!), eating and drinking, and even taking photos of the stars. Definitely a great evening!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 13 sec, ISO3200
“Milky Way” Lake Somerville, 2021

Glamping at Under Canvas Moab

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO640
“Under Canvas Tent” Moab, 2021

We stayed one night glamping at Under Canvas Moab and enjoyed it a lot. It was our first time glamping (glamourous camping) which I would not normally consider, but we thought that we’d give it a try and see what it was all about. It really is a combination of a nice resort hotel and camping. Pretty cool concept!

“Reception Tent” Moab, 2021

The check-in process was really smooth and one of the hosts explained pretty much everything you need to know about the facilities. The reception tent has a check-in/out desk, snacks, board games, water, coffee and tea, fresh fruit, refrigerated items, souvenirs, tables and chairs to relax in, and also the S’mores station, with ready-to-use packets of ingredients to take outside to the firepits. They also have a sno-cone machine, and bags of ice for you to replenish your cooler.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/8, 1/140 sec, ISO640
“Under Canvas Tent View” Moab, 2021

There are a few different tents to choose from, and we chose the most inexpensive one (Safari), which is perfect for a couple. The tent is pretty sturdy, the bed is large and comfy, and most importantly for the cooler months, there’s a wood-burning stove/heater. It’s all ready to fire up, which we did immediately. In a few minutes, the tent was cozy and warm. There are also power banks to recharge your devices, battery-powered lanterns and fans, and earplugs.

“Wood-Burning Stove” Moab, 2021

After opening up a bottle of wine and relaxing a bit, I decided to take a shower and freshen up. The more expensive tents come with a bathroom, but ours didn’t. The communal bathrooms and showers were in their own little building not far from our tent, and were perfectly fine. No problems there! There were plenty of clean towels in their own little closet, and you can just put your used towels in the bins just outside each bathroom. There aren’t normal faucet handles for the showers, but rather a handle on a chain which you pull down to release the water. It’s a good system to ensure you don’t use too much water, but a little inconvenient since you have to keep the chain down while rinsing. It also is perfect for the camping experience. FYI, you have to wait a little bit for the hot water to flow. At first I thought I was going to have to take a cold shower, but thankfully the water became warm. Whew!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/690 sec, ISO25
“Moab Sunrise” Moab, 2021

The people in the adjacent tent (the tents are spaces a good distance away from each other) were cooking dinner on the tables just outside their tent. I noticed they were using their their own camp stove, headlamp, and camp lantern. So yes, it really is a hybrid camp/hotel.

On that note, I would recommend bringing your own food to cook since there isn’t a restaurant on-site. However, there are several gas grills in covered pavilions, with picnic tables and lighting. I believe the staff even said they’d be happy to prepare the food for you! Next time, we’ll stop at the market and buy some steaks, kebabs, or burger fixings and use the cooking stations. I could see it being an excellent place for a group to hang out all night, grilling, drinking, having S’mores, and partaking in the cornhole bean-bag toss, board games, or horseshoes (all provided).

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/400 sec, ISO25
“Utah Morning” Moab, 2021

What’s really neat is that they offer some other activities, such as morning yoga, workouts, live music, and trivia in the evening. There’s also a cool little area in the middle of the site with several hammocks set up so you and your neighbors can stargaze together.

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 4.2mm, f/1.6, 1/40 sec, ISO500
“Activity Board” Moab, 2021

While not truly remote, the site was far enough away from the highway to provide some isolation from light and noise. It’s also only about 20 minutes from Moab, so it wouldn’t take long to make a beer/food run and be back at camp to continue the party. Speaking of location, it’s only 10 minutes away from Arches National Park, so it’s a fantastic location if you are visiting the park.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 20 sec, ISO3200
“Under Canvas Big Dipper” Moab, 2021

All-in-all, we were satisfied with Under Canvas Moab. It’s a little on the spendy side, but I think that you definitely get your money’s worth. The staff were all very friendly and ready to help if you need anything. It was so nice to relax here after a long day hiking at Arches National Park!

A Day at Arches National Park, Utah

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 24.3mm, f/9, 1/1250 sec, ISO640
“Delicate Arch” Utah, 2021

Today was (for me) the highlight of the road trip: a day at Arches National Park, Utah. I had fond memories from my first visit here 30 years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing how Mariko’s first visit would be.

We arrived at the park at 7:45 am and there was already a short line at the entrance. Not too bad! We bought our annual pass a few days ago at Mesa Verde National Park, so we showed that, grabbed our maps and were on our way to our first stop, which was The Windows section of the park.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/9, 1/1900 sec, ISO640
“Balanced Rock” Utah, 2021

Along the way, we saw some incredible rock formations including The Courthouse Towers and Balanced Rock. Even before seeing any arches, Mariko said she was already blown away! 😀

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18.8mm, f/9, 1/800 sec, ISO640
“Distant Arches” Utah, 2021

We arrived at The Windows parking lot to be greeting by plenty of cars and buses. Luckily, there was parking just below at the Double-Arch parking lot. I was actually a little worried about the crowds, but it turned out we had good timing.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 37.4mm, f/11, 1/950 sec, ISO640
“Double Arch” Utah, 2021

Our first arch to visit was Double Arch. It’s huge and amazing! The hike there is really easy and only takes about 10 minutes or so. Perfect for the tour buses full of older folks. Or for a couple shooting their wedding photos, as we saw. (Photo above)

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/9, 1/750 sec, ISO640
“Double Arch” Utah, 2021

Next, we walked up to The Windows trailhead and hiked to Turret Arch. What’s kind of cool about this arch is that you can hike through it, then look back and see the South Window arch.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/11, 1/240 sec, ISO640
“Turret Arch” Utah, 2021

After that we hiked to the South and North Window Arches, then hiked the loop around them and back to the parking lot. There were plenty of cool view along the way.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/10, 1/500 sec, ISO640
“The Windows” Utah, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 34.3mm, f/9, 1/1100 sec, ISO640
“Cairn” Utah, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 42.5mm, f/9, 1/1400 sec, ISO640
“Arches NP” Utah, 2021

Next up was a short drive over to the trailhead for the Delicate Arch trail at Wolfe Ranch. This trail is rated “Difficult” on the map, but it wasn’t really too hard, especially in the cooler months. However it’s mostly uphill on the way to the arch so make sure to take your time and rest often (and keep hydrated!).

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 23.3mm, f/9, 1/1100 sec, ISO640
“Delicate Arch Trail” Utah, 2021

The effort will be worth it though as you suddenly come upon the iconic view of Delicate Arch. When we got there, there were not too many people, but enough to form a little line for taking photos under the arch. This was good because everyone handed off their cameras to the other people waiting and everyone traded taking each other’s photos.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/9, 1/1900 sec, ISO640
“Delicate Arch” Utah, 2021

When we arrived back at the car, Mariko was pretty worn out from the hike so we just drove around the rest of the park and caught the views from the car, with a quick hike around Balanced Rock. By then it was about 4 pm so we headed back to Moab for a dinner at, you guessed it, the local brewery. Tacos, onion rings, and cold beer at The Moab Brewery were perfect after a long day at Arches!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 4.2mm, f/1.6, 1/40 sec, ISO400
“Tacos, Rings, and Beer” Moab, 2021