California · Day Trips · Family Travel · Ferry Ride · Holiday Travel · Itinerary · Memorial Day · San Diego · Uncategorized · Water Adventures

TrippinTwins: San Diego: Adventures of Day 1

San Diego had long been on our wish lists, so we were beyond excited to get the chance to visit this past Memorial Day weekend.  Initially, we had dreamed of a relaxing beach vacation spending our days sunning on the beach, drinking cocktails & soaking up those rays of sunshine California is so famous for.

However, when we began packing for the trip, we ruled out beach time when we learned the temperatures were only going reach the low 70’s. If you are thinking that’s a bit strange, you’re probably not from the Deep South where it’s not considered the perfect beach day unless the temperatures are at least in the mid-80’s! So, we revamped our itinerary and packing list.

Upon arriving in San Diego, it was nearly midnight. We wearily grabbed our bags from baggage claim and found our way to the exit where we took a taxi to our downtown hotel. We commented to our driver about the chill in the air and were promptly told that the forecasted temperatures and overcast skies were completely  normal for the May/June time frame. We even learned the weather pattern had names  – “May Gray and June Gloom”.

Where We Stayed:

While many people choose to stay in the Gaslamp district, we decided to stay in the downtown area also known as the “Centre City” at the Westin San Diego. It was the perfect location because it put us within easy walking distance to Little Italy, the Gaslamp district,  Broadway Pier and public transportation.

Day 1: Shopping, Food and a Ferry Ride!

We began our first full day a little late as we had a late arrival the night before. When we were ready to leave the hotel, we headed to a nearby coffee shop to grab a cup of coffee and a quick snack. We figured this would hold us over until our lunch we had planned for later. We needed to make a stop in a nearby CVS in Westfield Horton Plaza to pick up a few things we had forgotten to bring. As we arrived, the bold colors and architecture of the indoor/outdoor mall, amazed us.  We had not planned to spend much time there,  but once we realized there were over 100 stores on various levels set up like a maze, we spent a few hours window shopping and taking in the scenery.

When we decided our bank accounts were done with the mall. Since we were already in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter, we set off to find the 94 restored Victorian era buildings the area is famous for.  When it was founded in the 1850’s, it was well known for gambling halls and brothels before cleaning up its act during the 1980’s. It is now a thriving district offering eclectic dining and shopping options.  After spending some time window shopping, the smells coming from the surrounding restaurants had made it impossible to ignore our hunger. We headed to Little Italy, where we found the restaurant that had been recommended to us,  Filippi’s Pizza.

We were advised to check out this location   because it is the original and operates as both a grocery and a restaurant. Even if you aren’t hungry, it is worth stopping by to check out the ceiling covered with wine bottles. Our waitress told us we should not miss their famous homemade meatballs, so we choose to put her recommendation to the test. We agree, it was delicious!


Wine Bottles that adorn the ceiling at Filippi’s Pizza

After we finished lunch, we headed to Broadway Pier. We bought ferry passes for $4.75 , and took the 15 minute Coronado Ferry to Coronado Island. We choose to take the ferry because it gave us time to take water pictures of the picturesque area and was the first US ferry  we had the chance to take since we were children.

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Broadway Pier waiting on Ferry to Coronado Island

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Tara enjoying the view on the ferry
Once we landed on Coronado Island, we walked to the Coronado Ferry Landing. This is the view you will see when you land and walk towards the island. We were tired after a long day of shopping and walking, so we decided to hang around this area to browse the shops, grab a bite to eat and watch the sunset.

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Shops on Coronado Ferry Landing

We enjoyed some time relaxing on the beach. It was too cold to get in, but the views were great.

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View from Centennial Park looking back at San Diego
After enjoying the views, we decided to check out the restaurant options. We settled on Candelas on the Bay for a quick bite to eat. We enjoyed the views and the food. The service could have been better, but it didn’t bother us because the scenery was great.

It had been really cloudy for most of the day, so we did not have high hopes for a good sunset. However,  we got lucky  because the sun made an appearance as it got later and cleared the fog to reveal a stunning sunset. This was a great way to end our evening on Coronado Island.

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Sunset on Coronado Island Ferry Landing

After the sunset, we took the return ferry back to Broadway Pier where we walked the few blocks back to our hotel. We had an early activity planned for day 2 -a Whale and Dolphin tour that we were really looking forward to and decided called it a night.




Day Trips · Edinburgh · Europe · Family Travel · Museums · Scotland · UK · United Kingdom

TrippinTwins: Experiencing Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura 

We knew New Year’s Eve would be a late night, so we planned a leisurely New Year’s Day morning.  We were not super concerned with setting an alarm, figuring we would wake up in time to catch our bus into Old Town for brunch and an afternoon walking tour. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but that was certainly not the sharpest idea either of us have had. When Tara woke, it was an hour later than expected and she panicked, calling me to wake up saying, “Get up, get up! We have to leave soon.”

Barely awake, we managed to agree to reduce our usual “get ready” time to remain on schedule.  In those few minutes, we both managed  to make the same assumption that a light jacket would be just fine to carry us through the day. Boy, were were wrong!! When we walked outside, it was sooo much cooler than expected. Tara, not as easily bothered by cold temperatures, somehow talked me into sucking it up and hoping for the best, as it was really my only option.

I agreed to head to brunch, since I had to agree that finding food would improve my mood significantly. Hoping it would warm up after brunch turned out to be only wishful thinking. It somehow managed to only get colder and windier. Tara agreed that staying warm on the walking tour with light jackets would be a challenge, so we would play it by ear.

After the first hour and a good stopping point, we thanked our guide and bowed out in search of a coffee shop to warm up. Afterwards, while walking towards Edinburgh Castle, we noticed a crowd gathered outside Edinburg’s Camera Obscura & World of Illusions and decided to head inside to check it out.

Upon walking in, we quickly joined the ticket line where we learned the entrance fee secures all day access as long as the entrance stamp remains on your hand.  The six floors can be tackled in any order, but a majority of the crowd seems to make their way up to the top with the rooftop deck/camera demonstration before making their way down to experience the World of Illusions.

It was already around 3:30 PM when we bought our tickets, so we heeded the ticketing agent suggestion and made our way up the tight and windy stair cases to the sixth floor.  Once there, a staff member inquired as to whether we were interested in attending the last fifteen minute camera demonstration of the day. We were thankful for the notice and after telling him we in fact were, then directed towards the rooftop deck to spend some time taking in the amazing view of the city. Although the views are not hard to see, telescopes are offered and are quite the crowd pleaser.  The best part was that we arrived at the perfect time for a perfect sunset view!


When it was time for the camera demonstration, we were taken to a dark room and instructed to gather around the camera viewfinder, which is about the size of a medium round table. Our guide demonstrated how the camera worked by moving it around the viewing area, giving the group a virtual tour of Edinburgh. The sun had already set, so we were told our views would be limited to well known brightly lit neighborhoods and buildings. We were pleasantly surprised at how many city landmarks we could identify along with the areas that had been lit with holiday lights. The definite crowd pleaser was being given white pieces of paper which we used to “pick up” objects and landmarks.

If this demonstration is a priority for your visit, we suggest getting there earlier in the day. We were told the views are better on sunny and less cloudy days.

After the camera demonstration, we spent the next two hours exploring the World of Illusions starting with level 5 and working our way down to 2. (5: Magic Gallery 4: Light Fantastic 3: Eye Spy Edinburgh 2: Bewilderworld)  Every floor is divided up in smaller sections with various activities and hands on learning opportunities fun for both kids and adults. Many of the displays allow for hands on learning experiences using light displays, color and other optical illusions.  In addition, there are puzzles, a vortex tunnel, a mirror maze, which are all popular.

Like many places with multiple exhibits/stations, we quickly found out that a few stations attracted more crowds than others. We skimmed the rooms for the stations with the fewest people, did those first and came back to the others later.  We had a fantastic afternoon reading and learning about Edinburgh and photography, learning about the illusions, playing with the hands on experiments and learning the explanations behind the tricks. It took us about two hours to do every station we were interested in, but we can see others easily spending 3-4 hours.

Camera Obscura is a fantastic place to add to your Edinburgh itinerary that most everyone can enjoy.

Hat tips:

The stair cases are very narrow and steep, which can be challenging

All strollers have to stay in the lobby

There is no elevator

Families seemed to use the all day access for easy restroom access 🙂



October Blogging Challenge · Uncategorized · Work/Life

October Blogging Challenge-7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned This Year-Day 7

This is an ironic day for this topic. I’ve gotten the news my organization will not support me to go to Grad school even when people with lesser qualifications were selected in the past. I am disappointed, but know if I really want to achieve something, it is possible if I work hard enough. So, here are the other lessons I’ve learned in the past year. 

1. Life is unpredictable-A really good friend’s cancer diagnosis took a turn for the worse earlier this year.  We went to see her for what was supposed to be a goodbye trip. Seven months later, she’s still fighting and living her life. 

2. Life is What You Make of It-Life is a series of choices you make and your reaction to them. When you learn this, your perspective changes. I can choose to stay stagnant or I can choose to keep evolving and growing. It’s my choice. 

3. Working Overtime is Rarely Worth It-You rarely get out of what you put into things after hours. I worked 36 hrs of overtime the last 2 weeks and I feel every hour of it. I’m still tired and stressed. 

4. Blogging is Hard Work -I’ve had a great time and learned a great deal the last 8 months, but it’s felt like a second job at times. It’s tough to work all day and stay motivated to write well enough to keep reader’s attention. 

5. Travel is Therapy & Education-I have never been to therapy even when I probably should have gone, but travel has been a great substitute. It’s served to calm me, clear my head, and led me to discover new things about myself. It is the best investment I’ve made. 

6. Kindness Matters -You never know what someone has been/is going through. You do not have to agree or even like someone to be kind. 

7. When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them!! -I’ve experienced this lesson over and over again in this life. People rarely change and it’s pointless waiting around for them to. 


‘Snapshot Sunday: Orange Beach, AL 

Orange Beach, Alabama is one of our favorite vacation destinations in the United States.  We have been going there since we could walk to enjoy the white sanded beaches.  Tourism has increased over the years, attracting people all over the Southeastern US while maintaining the city’s small town vibe.  If you prefer your vacation include some adventure, there is a plethora of options. Water adventures available include deep sea fishing, hang-gliding, sailing and kayaking.   We usually spend most of our days at the beach, relaxing. This time we added some activities to the mix and signed up for kayaking and sailing adventures. These are a few snapshots of our favorite things we captured from out trip last week. 


One of our favorite seafood restaurants in the area. We have been loyal customers since the first time we went to its former location as kids. 

Our favorite sunset pic of the trip, taken outside of  Wolf Bay Lodge

 Outside Tacky Jacks “Happy Harbour”

View of ocean from condo balcony in the early morning

First time kayaking -Intercoastal Water Way and Bay (Tara is pictured)

Fun in the sun and water (Erica pictured)

One of the best things we did this trip: sunset sail! (Tara pictured)


Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-014We are excited about receiving the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award from Jessica Lipowski!  Jessica is from Michigan, but now calls Amsterdam home.  She is the permanent host of two twitter chats: #TRLT and #CultureTrav and guest hosts on several others too.  Twitter chats are a great way to meet other people interested in travel from all over the world and #TRLT and #CultreTrav are two of our favorites.  In addition, Jessica is in the process of writing her first non-fiction novel.  The book will focus on the lives of 78 expat entrepreneurs from 47 different countries that own 54 restaurants in Amsterdam.  For more info about  #TRLT and #CultureTrav, her blog or upcoming book,  check out Jessica Lipowski or find her on Twitter @JLipowski

The Rules
You must answer 10 questions assigned by the person who has given you the award and you must then give the award to 10 other bloggers with 10 of your own questions. Below are the questions Jessica asked us:

1. What do you love most about traveling?

We both work full time, so we love using our vacation time and weekends to get out and explore the world around us.  Traveling is a break from the cube life, a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air.  It is also when we feel most alive.
2. What is the earliest memory you have of traveling? How old were you, where did you go and with whom?

The first trip we remember taking was to Cincinnati, OH, our mother’s hometown.  Our mother took us there when we were 6 years old to visit our relatives, go to the zoo and ride amusement park rides at King’s Island.

Erica and I riding a camel at the Cincinnati Zoo when we were 6. Erica’s in the front.
3. Do you have a song you always listen to before setting out on the road? If so, what is the song and why is it special?

We usually listen to whatever happens to be on our iPod, but have no particular travel songs.  It’s always a mixture of country and pop  with some rap thrown in for good measure!
4. What is the most exotic food you have ever eaten? Where did you try it? Would you eat it again?

We are not adventurous eaters, but we have eaten alligator several times.  All times in New Orleans and only when we had a  New Orleans Hurricane around!

Oh no, I got too close! (Tara)

An alligator coming for a visit!
5. When you are traveling, what do you miss most from home?

We miss several creature comforts, but we miss our mom the most!  She is always game for road trips, but does not like to fly.

Our mom goofing off in a hat store in Memphis, TN!
6. Tell us about a unique souvenir you brought home. What makes it so special?

Tara:  I brought home the fist beer stein I drank out of at the first Oktoberfest in Munich I attended. At the time, it seemed like something everyone was doing.  However, when I went in subsequent years, I noticed it got a lot harder. It is classified as stealing and security has cracked down on it a lot more.  Therefore, I suggest buying a new beer stein before leaving the tent if you really want one for a souvenir.

Erica: The earrings I bought in Dublin, Ireland at the Christmas Markets last November.  I love earrings and I usually buy a pair from every place I go, but there were so many good artists at the markets that I had a hard time deciding which pair I liked most and ended up buying five pairs!
7. Tell us about a food you discovered abroad. Have you tried to make it back at home? Please feel free to share the recipe, if you feel so inclined.

We’ve tried to make Vanillekipferl cookies several times, but have never been able to get it exactly right.  They’re originally from Austria, but are popular in Germany as well.  They are mostly associated as holiday cookies, so if you visit Austria or Germany during the winter look out for them.  There are a lot of recipe’s on the internet, but here is one of them:

Vanille Kipfer recipe
8. Share one of your favorite travel quotes and why it resonates with you?

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts” – Mark Twain

We grew up in a mostly homogeneous environment.  When we got the chance to take a trip to Greece and Turkey for a school trip in high school, we knew we had to take the chance and go.  It was through that trip that we realized just how educational and eye-opening travel could be.  Traveling to diverse places makes one aware that the culture they grew up in is only one of a myriad of cultures that exist in the world.

This was taken in Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate park. Erica’s on the right and Tara’s on the left.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?

Tara:  I would like to go back to Lindau, Germany.  It’s an island city that is on Lake Constance and boarders both Switzerland and Austria.  The beaches are great in the summer, there are lots of historical things to see, the food is great and it is a convenient place for day trips.

Erica: I would go to Alaska because it is a place I’ve always wanted to go.  I would really like to visit Denali National Park and Preserve, see the amazing wildlife there, a few glaciers and the Northern Lights.
10. What is the next trip you have planned?

We are going to Orange Beach, AL over the Labor Day weekend to spend some time relaxing and doing fun water adventures. We are true to our zodiac sign as Scorpios, we love the water.  In our opinion, the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama are one of the best kept secrets outside of the southern U.S. The sand is soft and compact and the water is usually clear year round.  There is also a good variety of restaurants, which we require because Erica does not eat seafood!

Our Nominees

Ariam Alulu of Ariam_Alula (Arium blogs about Eriteans in diaspora, autism and her travels.  Keep an eye out for new blog posts when she soon moves overseas).

Lindsay Davies of LindzMD (Lindsay starting blogging this year and has lots of travel experience.  Check out her blog for some travel adventure inspiration).

Rachel A Davis of Vagabondbaker (Rachel and her husband travel in a camper truck!  Check out her blog for lots of great blog posts about their travels and recipes).

Richa Gupta of thebluedawn (Richa concentrates her blogging on independent and sustainable travel in India.  If you’re interested in visiting India, she’s the one to ask).

Stephanie Langlet of Haidaloup (Stephanie blogs about Chhattisgarh, India and France.  Check out her blog for lots of good stories and tips).

Ashlee Litfin of asheemayy (Ashlee and her husband (Nick) blog about their native Australia and Cultural, Natural and World Heritage sites. Check out their blog for some great pictures, vlogs and storeis).

Taylor Mondello of taylormondello (Taylor has been blogging for the last few years and is leaving for a RTW in a few months, so watch for her upcoming blog posts).

Janet Newenham of janetnewham (Janet is from Ireland and is among the top Irish bloggers.  Her goal is to visit 50 countries before she turns 30!  Check out her blog for some great posts and pictures).

Chelsea & Kinsey Osborne of TravelinChicks (This sister duo are accomplished travel bloggers who have visited 42 countries and show no signs of slowing down.  Check out their website for lots of good travel info, videos and blogs all about the places they have traveled).

Lissy Salt at lissysalt  (This English blogger has been to 29 different countries and hopes to move to Vancouver, Canada.  Check out her blog for some fun travel stories).


1. Why did you decide to start blogging and when did you start?

2. How many languages can you speak and which ones? Name one language that you cannot speak, but wish you could.

3. What is one of your favorite pictures you took while traveling?  Please post with a description!

4. Are you a coffee or tea person?  What is your favorite shop and city to get your favorite cup from?

5.What is one of your favorite song lyrics and why does it resonate with you?

6. What are your ultimate travel goals?

7. Where is your hometown?  If we visited, what should we be sure not to miss seeing?

8. What is your favorite trip you have taken over the last 12 months?  What makes it so?

9. Who is your favorite book and author?

10.What is one of your favorite blogs you have written and why?  Feel free to provide the link so we can all read it,

Journal Posts · Work · Work/Life

Do You Take All of Your Vacation Days? 

When you read that over 40% of Americans do not take their allotted vacation days, does it shock you? Does it lead you to think about how the corporate culture in your current job/last job might contribute to this phenomenon? We decided to take a look at how this statistic fits in with our careers by looking at practices we have observed and experienced.

We work for the same company, literally 2 rows from each other. This means that our experience is similar because we follow the same corporate policies. The differences lie in the different management styles of our bosses.

In our office, 6 weeks of annual leave can be saved. This has positive and negative consequences. Typically, the people that earn the most amount of leave have been in the company/position for many years and are often in Senior analyst/leadership positions. Many of these people are also self created workaholics. They typically work long hours, earn credit for the additional time worked, and only take the time off that is over the 6 weeks that can be saved. If they happen to be driven by the need for control, many will work even when they are on leave.

Now not all people are obviously workaholics.  Others, are planners.  They take only the leave earned beyond the six weeks to ensure they are never without any. They realize leave is limited and feel that saving it is the best way to plan for a future event.

The less Senior workers typically earn less leave and have less leave to take. This is the category we fit into.  Many take as little as possible so they can build a reserve balance.  The caveat to this is that they are the ones often left in the office while the Senior ones are out and they generally have less available time to take leave.

Then, there is the management and corporate culture factor. It’s the nature of many corporate cultures to drill into their employees psyche that “everyone is replaceable”. While that does have some truth to it and may lessen the blow of losing any one person, it often has other ramifications. It leads to thoughts of “It’s easier to go to work than take leave” and “there is never a good time to take leave”.

One of our bosses makes comments about how he has to live through our stories and comments that we are never there because “we are too busy traveling”. His career is the most important part of his life and likes others to have the same goals he has.  The other one encourages employees to take vacations and is more than happy to fit in work around family life.

We both grew up taking vacations and realized when we started working full time and had a “real, grown up” job that taking time off and traveling would remain a priority in our life.  Taking time off to us 95% of the time equates to taking a trip. These trips are not always to somewhere new. There is comfort in returning to somewhere you love and are familiar with. The important thing is to get out of your hometown and spend some time with different people and experience another place.

With the positive experiences travel has brought us, we know that the U.S. has got to do a better job encouraging work/life balance. It is our opinion that corporate culture as a whole must shift to more companies allowing telework on a routine basis and openly speak about the health risks associated with not taking time off.  Most people like to work and make a positive contribution  to their workplace & maintain cordial relationships with their coworkers, but companies have to do more to foster this.

What is your experience with working and vacation time? Does your company have policies that encourage the use of peace and work life balance?

Adventure · Australia · B.C. · Banos · Canoeing · Ecuador · Gardiner · India · Kayaking · Montana · National Parks · Queensland · Sailing · Water Adventures · White Water Rafting · Yellowstone National Park

Tranquil to Thrilling: Water Adventures Around the World!

It is said that water has healing powers, which perhaps is one of the main reasons so many enjoy it.  During the summer months, people flock to water for some fun in the sun and a break from the heat. Water adventures are great because they can be done individually, or with a group, and can include most all age ranges.  Whether your definition of having fun is taking a relaxing canoe ride on a lazy river, river rafting in Class V rapids or learning how to kayak, there is an activity for everyone.  This post focuses on three popular water activities available in much of the world:  white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking.  We have asked some of our fellow travel bloggers to share one of their favorite experiences with one of the three activities.  Check out our stories and tell us about water adventures you have had, would recommend and would like to try!

White Water Rafting

1.  The Aussie FlashpackerBanos, Ecuador

Banos is known as the ‘Adventure Capital of Ecuador’ with its’ mountains, active volcanoes, world famous hot springs and rivers that are perfectly designed for rafting to suit all levels. Our last day in Baños we tried our hand at white water rafting and booked a day trip through our hostel. After being kitted up and finishing the safety briefing, an English, Irish and 2 Chilean guys attempted to tackle the rapids of Baños. The river provided us some challenges and at times our boat was completely battered by the rapids and all of us just about holding in and just about managing to stay in the boat but there were other times when the river slowed and we were able to relax and enjoy the amazing scenery, It was the perfect place for my first rafting experience and I am extremely keen to give it another go and would highly recommend Banos & rafting in Banos to anyone!

Simone Lye Rafting

2. Jet Set Brunette – Tulley River, Queensland, Australia

The Tulley River is a grade 4 river situated in Queensland, Australia.  Seasoned adventure-seekers love exploring these challenging rapids and beginners have the option of purchasing a white water rafting package.  There are also places around the water to go cliff jumping and actually swim through some of the rapids!


4. Savored JourneysElaho and Squamish Rivers, Whistler, B.C.

Whistler, British Columbia, is known for more than just its world-class skiing. It’s also an incredible place to go whitewater rafting. Although I’m just a beginner at rafting, we were able to go out on a day-long excursion with Wedge Rafting in Whistler, where we spent the day tackling Class III and IV rapids on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers. It’s not too crazy of a river – there are harder, more demanding rapids, for sure – but with rapids that have been named Devil’s Elbow and Steamroller, it was plenty challenging enough for us!

I went on this rafting trip with my family, so we filled up one whole raft and it was great fun dodging and leaning with the rapids, getting soaked from the churning water along the way. One of the best parts of the rivers near Whistler is the immense natural beauty you witness along the way. There are snowcapped peaks, dense forest and lots of wildlife to spot along the way, when floating through the calmer parts of the river. We were lucky enough to spot a black bear along the banks. The best time to go rafting in Whistler is in the summer, from June to early August. That’s when the rapids are at their highest from the winter snow run-off.


5. TravelureThe Ganges

“River Ganga (Ganges) forms after its confluence with various rivers, e.g. Alaknanda, Pindar, Mandakini, etc. and hits the plains at Rishikesh after flowing through the narrow valley of Himalayas from Devprayag. Its path is not smooth since it is moving from mountains to plains. It is between Devprayag and Rishikesh that we did rafting on this river, but closer to Rishikesh. The entire normal rafting stretch here is about 24-25kms (15 miles)and takes about 4.5-5 hours, but you can choose your starting points. We had selected Shivpuri as ours. That was a total rafting distance of 16kms (10 miles) and the time duration for rafting this stretch was about 3-3.5 hours.
“The rapids are mostly between grade I and III. These have been colourfully named – three blind mice, roller coaster, golf course, black money, etc. These names also have something to do with the nature of the rapid, like ‘golf course’, a grade III rapid has nine ‘holes’ or obstacles. The entire stretch was a constant adrenaline rush and we had to constantly be on guard for the unseen. But, this adventure is termed mostly safe, provided you follow instructions of the rafting instructor and paddle/stop paddling when he asks you to.
“I have been rafting on this stretch 3 times. Each time has been as exciting as the first time. I would highly recommend this trip to all water-sport enthusiasts as Ganga rapids, though relatively safe, come with their own brand of difficulty!

Ajay rafting 2 Ajay rafting1. TrippinTwinsGardiner, Montana – Yellowstone River

We went white water rafting with Wild West Rafting in Gardiner, Montana.  Gardiner is located at the North Gate of Yellowstone Park, which makes it a fantastic option if you are staying in the area. They offer a variety of water adventure options, but we choose to do the half day white water rating trip. It was a 2 hour trip down 8 miles of the Yellowstone River with mostly Class III rapids.  Rapid classes vary due to shifting water levels. They also allow children 4 and over to go, which is convenient for families.  We had a large group, so we were split between two boats. All of the guides our group had were very friendly and knowledgeable about their job and the surrounding area.  We all had a great time, it was one of the highlights of our week in Yellowstone!

Erica's group YS

                                        Sometimes you get to gocanoeing with family and friends……

1. The Travelin’ ChicksIpswich River in Massachuttes

Being travelers, we are always on the look out for the next trip we are going to take and dreaming of lands far off that sometimes we forget about just how great the area we are from truly is. So this year we have decided to explore this great region we call the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Our first adventure? A canoeing trip down the Ipswich River in Ipswich, Ma. With lunch packed we headed down the gorgeous Route 133 to downtown Ipswich. From there we were off to Foote Brothers Canoes & Kayaks. With our life jackets in hand we hopped in the van for the 10-minute drive up river.

Once launched from shore you began to realize just how pristine the area you are canoeing in. Being part of the Mass Audubon Society, The Ipswich River is a wildlife sanctuary. The river snaked past busy beavers in their dams, red winged black birds shooting through the sky and lots of changing landscapes. With numerous feathered friends singing their song to us through the trip we were sad to see it come to a close.  Four hours of canoeing went by in a flash and leaving us wanting more.

With such a great time behind us we can’t wait for the next adventure discovering all that home has to offer.

Kinsey canoeing Chelsea & Kinsey canoeing

And sometimes you guide a group of kids….

2.  Antitravelguides – Calgary, Canada

A few years ago I worked as a counselor at a camp just outside of Calgary in beautiful Kananaskis Country. One of the activities we would regularly lead the kids in was canoeing. Though with kids being kids (and counsellors being adults) more often than not this turned into a water fight. This was generally aided by the buckets that we provided and the games we played – one was called “Sink the Swiss Navy”. You can imagine what the aim of that game was. A lot of canoes sunk and even more humans had a lot of fun.



1.  Stay Home For What?!?!  – Lake Garda, Italy

I’ve been living in Italy for almost 3 months. In those three months, I have visited to a lot of countries, but just recently began to explore Italy. I had been focused on visiting countries that border Italy,  not taking the time to see “Italy”  When my friends mentioned Lake Garda, I was not interested because I kept thinking what could be so great about a lake!  As it turns out, I was suprisingly mistaken!

I agreed to go to Lake Garda with some friends that invited me on a recent weekend…#stayhomeforwhat! It was only about an hour drive from where I live and 5 euro in tolls.  Once we arrived, I immediately understood why people love this place. It is absolutely amazing!!! This is not your ordinary lake; it is by far the biggest I’ve seen.

There are an abundance of activities to choose from in the area, such as water sports, biking and canyoning. For the time we had availble, we chose to go kayaking. We rented the kayaks from At Sailing Dulac, which only costs 9 euro for a single and 14 euro for a double.  This was my first time kayaking, so I asked a friend to double up with me. That decision was probably the worst idea of the day!  It only took us 15 minutes to decide it was harder with two people instead of one because we were not going anywhere! The single riders that were with us……I swear, reached the other side of the lake and came back before we left the lagoon!!

However, there were advantages to going so slow. We had more time to relax and enjoy the scenery. We were able to take in the beautiful mountains that surround the city, the city landscape and the beautiful blue, not grey, but blue water. The wind was blowing perfectly as we watched people around us windsurfing, sail on catamarans, go dinghy sailing, free sailing and kayaking.  It was simply perfect!

I recommend visiting Lake Garda on your next trip to Italy because of the wide options available in the surrounding area. The area provides the perfect setting for individuals wanting a relaxing day for laying out as well as the more adventurous types. While there, make sure to visit the nearby villages and take advantage of the great shopping and restaurants and wineries available.  #Love the Life You Live!

Keisha-kayaking4 Keisha -kayaking

2. 2TravelDads  – Pacific North West, USA

The Seattle area is best seen from the water: sailing, on a ferry, or on a kayak. Just short drives from the city are countless islands and bays to explore. Across the Puget Sound are the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas, which are dotted with lakes and waterways, ready to be paddled.

Olympic Peninsula – One of our favorite places to kayak is the Quileute River in La Push. The mouth has a marina to put in and the river itself is shockingly calm. Due to the shallow nature, there are no other boats of any sort, so the river is all yours; your bow is the only thing making ripples. And since the mouth is brackish, watch for flounder, salmon and the occasional otter. Lakes Crescent and Cushman are two other places to paddle: stumps, elk and mountains around every bend. Beautiful.

Kitsap Peninsula – Another favorite paddling haunt is the Agate Passage and Liberty Bay, separating Bainbridge Island from the Kitsap. The gradual shorelines of both sides make for easy pullouts and fantastic wildlife viewing. Without trying, I’ve seen otters swimming, heron and eagles swooping down and I’ve been stalked by a harbor seal. Living right off the Agate Passage, I know the flow of larger boat traffic, so am careful to paddle at the right time. Example: Fridays there is a small cruise ship that takes visitors to the Scandinavian village of Poulsbo, so I know to stay off the water so the wake doesn’t send me swimming. I also know that kayaking on the sea means fighting a tide, so planning trips to flow with the tide is important.

If you’re visiting the Pacific Northwest without your own kayak, they can be rented almost anywhere, and truthfully, you’re not going to have a bad view wherever you paddle.

IMG_3168 IMG_2982Now that we have shared our stories, we would enjoy hearing yours!


Los Angeles-Day Trip 

This was an unexpected day trip, but one worth mentioning because of the great experience we had. We had always wanted to visit southern California, but those plans of “some day” suddenly turned into “right now” when we got the call that a dear friend’s cancer journey had taken a turn for the worse and were invited to join her family and close friends for a quick trip to Disneyland California. We flew into Anaheim a day early and decided to take a day tour of Los Angeles.

We booked a last minute tour with Starline Tours and decided on the 7 hour “Deluxe City Tour of Hollywood and Los Angeles” that we thought would give us the best city overview in the timeframe we had. Our tour guide picked us up from our hotel at 10:30am and we were immediately at ease with him. He was friendly, engaging and kept everyone chatting and laughing while picking up the remaining passengers and on the drive into Los Angeles. He gave everyone the opportunity to discuss the itinerary and encouraged everyone to speak up if there were additional sights they wanted to see that could possibly be worked in.

The tour started in Downtown LA, making stops at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Staples Center where we were given 15 minutes to get out at each place to take pictures.

Then we moved on to the the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites where we hopped on a series of  elevators to reach the   top floor for a distant view of the Hollywood sign. The view as quick, but everyone had a good time trying to see it.

Afterwards, we met back at the bus and drove to the Hollywood/LA area to the LA Farmers Market/Grove where we were given 45 minutes to eat lunch. This turned into 90 minutes break when our bus had mechanical difficulties and we had to wait for a replacement. We immediately decided to seek out some of the famous California Mexican food we have heard so much about. We found a stand that had a large crowd that we figured would be a good place to eat.

Tara waiting to eat lunch!
Tara waiting to eat lunch!
 That delicious food!
That delicious food!
lunch time
lunch time
Why not try some guac?
Why not try some guac?

After finishing our delicious lunch, we went to explore the Grove area. It is a fun area to do some shopping & people watch.


Chinese New Year decoration
Chinese New Year decoration


Once we got a replacement bus, we were off to the La Brea Tar Pits for a quick photo op. They are considered to be a National Natural Landmark. We did not have the opportunity to tour the Page Museum, so it’s on our list for our next visit.


Next, we drove to Beverly Hills, where we were given 30 minutes to explore Rodeo Drive where I happened to walk right into a photo shoot taking place on this amazing street.

Random photoshoot
Random photo shoot

The next stop was one that everyone was excited about-Hollywood Bowl overlook.The outlook is close to the interstate, making it easy to reach. The drive is pretty with views of celebrity homes. The parking lot is very small, but street parking is available. We arrived right at dusk on a clear night, which made for great city skyline views. Unfortunately, I only had a cell phone camera, so my shots did not come close to capturing the stunning view.

LA Skyline from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook
LA Skyline from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook
Hollywood Sign from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook
Hollywood Sign from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook

No one was ready to leave the Lookout, but we had to in order to go see Hollywood Blvd where the Chinese Theatre & the Walk of Fame are located. We were both tired at this point, so after snapping a few pics, we found a coffee shop near the Chinese Theatre and got a drink until it was time to head back to Anaheim.

As last minute travel decisions go, this one was a much needed surprise. Would sign up and do it all again, if given the chance. Next time just hope to have a few days vs. a few hours to spend exploring LA.