Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chihuly Exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden

Have you ever seen a Chihuly Glass Exhibit? If not you need to remedy this problem straight away. I grew up in Washington State where there is a permanent Chihuly Exhibition near the Space Needle, as well as Chihuly glass art in Tacoma, and have a great appreciation of the beauty of this particular art. Recently the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix had a Chihuly Glass Exhibit called Chihuly In The Garden. I finally made it over there on the very last day of the exhibit (shame on me!). As I had already seen a family members day photos of the Phoenix exhibit, I chose not to go during the day, but to visit at night when it would be a whole different experience. It was absolutely beautiful seeing all the glass art lit up. Enjoy a few photos below and check your area for any Chihuly Exhibits!

For more information on Chihuly please visit, and if you live in the Seattle area or plan to visit soon please go check out the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit

Don't forget to check out the Desert Botanical Garden and their many other exciting exhibits!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

San Francisco, CA

I finally made it to San Francisco! I have been wanting to visit this city for as long as I can remember. So, on my move from Seattle to Phoenix, my Dad and I made a pit stop!

Let me just say, San Francisco is one beautiful city with so much to do and see. I was only there for a day, so I only got to explore a very small part of the amazing city, but I will most definitely be heading back. Sooner, rather than later, hopefully.

We found that it was much more affordable to stay in a hotel outside the city, even though it meant getting up a bit earlier to allow for time to drive into the city. My suggestion? Research surrounding towns to find a good hotel deal. 

We crossed the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco City; which was cool. The old bridge can be seen while driving along the new bridge. We also crossed the bridge to head back out of the city at the end of our day and the way it is lit up is quite amazing. It is like daytime on the bridge!

First stop: Golden Gate Bridge.

I was a bit disappointed as we drove across the bridge as it was quite foggy. I love fog, but I so badly wanted to get some photos of the beautiful red bridge. When we pulled off at the lookout on the North end, the air was so foggy that we were unable to see the bridge at all.

We decided to go into the Marin Headlands Park (upon suggestion by a good friend from the Bay area) in hopes that some of the fog would burn off by the time we got to the view points. We stopped in the little visitor center to ask where all the best view points were and what type of view they had. They have a free map available that highlights all the viewpoints. We basically ended up just driving around and stopping at all of them. I was not about to miss a photo opportunity. And I was in luck, the fog had lifted! 

After we drove through the park, stopping at various view points to snap photos, we were off to the next tourist attraction. We crossed back over the Golden Gate and followed the directions of my handy dandy iPhone.

Second Stop: Lombard Street

Lombard Street is famous for it’s extremely steep and winding curves. To experience the twists and turns of “The World’s Most Crooked Street”, drive east (it is one way in this area) on Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth. It was cool to actually be driving down this street; especially since  I had heard about it so often while growing up. It is basically just turn, turn, turn, turn. There are adorable little houses with tiny little driveways all down the street. When you get to the bottom you can park and walk back to the base of Lombard Street to take photos. There were a lot of people just standing in the street taking photos, me included. We parked on a lower straight section on Lombard Street. It was so steep we had to park at a 90 degree angle. A 90 degree angle is necessary to prevent cars from rolling down the hill in case of brake failure. Cars sit at a slant on the hill. We actually felt as if our car was going to tip over (roll sideways) - a very odd feeling! Once I wrapped up my photo taking we were off.

Third Stop: Pier 39 and the Wharf

So, I had a little bit of assistance from some friends from the Bay area. Parking can be a bit tricky around San Francisco, especially down at the waterfront. I was advised to park in a garage directly across from Pier 39. It is not cheap, but it is not terrible and it is convenient. My suggestion would be to research parking if you wish to stop at Pier 39 and explore the Wharf and Ghirardelli Square or even go on the Cable Cars. We planned to be there for several hours and we were planning to eat there (you get part of your ticket validated when eating at one of the main restaurants), so with that being said, we chose to park in the garage. 
From the top of the garage I was able to take a fun panorama photo of the city. I recommend going up to the top either when you first park or on the way back to the car. The view from up there is quite beautiful.

From the garage there is a bridge that takes you over the street and down to Pier 39 and the Wharf. We wandered around taking photos of the Pier and the Sea Lions. We then walked out to the water where I could take photos of Alcatraz Prison. Alcatraz is a popular historic prison out in the bay. It is it’s own island. I would love to learn more about the history and about the one and only prisoner who ever escaped. I would also love to go through the tour of the prison. We did not have enough time to actually take the boat out there, but I will be back to do that for certain! By this time the sun was out and it was a gorgeous day.

By this point we were pretty much starving, so we made our way toward Hard Rock Cafe. Along the walk we happened upon a fun looking electronics store, Gadgetronics (I will link to their site when it is back up). I needed a charging accessory for my phone, so we popped in. I came out with the accessory, a whole lens kit and a tripod for my iPhone. How exciting! It was a fun little store with amazingly great prices! After my exciting new purchase we finally made it over to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. It was a pretty average lunch. I enjoyed watching music videos all through my meal.
After lunch we wandered about a little more looking in shops. I wanted to find some sort of souvenir that I could actually use that was not too expensive. I ended up in the San Francisco U.S.A shop where I was able to buy a magnet and aluminum water bottle. 
Once we were finished shopping we decided to wander down the waterfront to see some street performers, artists and the view. 

Fourth Stop: Ghirardelli Square

As we strolled along the waterfront we spotted Ghirardelli Square. Being the chocolate lover I am, I was not about to pass that up. We walked up to the square and stopped in 2 of the 3 Ghirardelli stores in the square to do a little perusing and shopping. They sell all sorts of chocolate treats and gifts; as well as ice cream. We purchased some chocolate mocha cocoa for my mum, it’s her favorite!  It is a beautiful old brick building with a lovely fountain and several other fun shops to explore.

After we were finished touring the square we decided to head back to the car. Along the way we stopped to watch some street dancers perform their show, including help from audience volunteers. They did several break dancing routines then it was time for their grand finale. This involved one of the dancers flipping over 5 men laying down shoulder to shoulder on the ground. It was a fun show to watch. The performers were great dancers and had a great sense of humor.

Once the performance had ended  we walked back to the car. I really wanted to visit the bridge again to get a few final shots with the sunlight that was left.

Fifth Stop: Golden Gate Bridge, again :)

We arrived at the bridge and stayed on the South side where the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion is. They have an information center, historical displays and the start of the walking/biking path. Oh, and of course amazing views of the bridge! I ran around taking photos until there was not enough sunlight left to do so. I had such an amazing time in San Francisco. I will definitely be heading back soon to explore more of the city and experience the sites and attractions I was unable to during this trip. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Olympic Peninsula

This past weekend two friends and I decided to take a short road trip over to the Olympic Peninsula. There is amazingly beautiful scenery out there; what with the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic National Rain Forest. We traveled north from Seattle to Edmonds, where we took the ferry across to Kingston, which is west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula. From there we drove through Port Gamble, and Port Angeles and then down to Forks. We returned to Port Angeles where we spent the night. The next day, on the way home, we stopped for a visit in Port Townsend.

Getting to the Peninsula:
The ferry ride to Kingston was a bit pricier than I had thought it would be. They charge for the car and driver, then there is an additional fee for each passenger in the car. Ridiculous. Heading back to Edmonds they only charge the price for the car and driver. The total round trip cost was approximately $43. Luckily, we were splitting that 3 ways. The ferry ride itself is very enjoyable. We went up to the passenger level where we sat and enjoyed the view of Puget Sound and the mountains in the distance. After relaxing for a bit inside we wandered out to the deck where we could hear the seagulls and enjoy some sunlight.

Ferry Info -

Me taking photos out the ferry window. Photo by Dani M.

Port Gamble:
From the ferry, on the Kingston side, we took HWY 104. This took us through the adorable little town of Port Gamble. This town is a popular wedding destination, as it looks out over the water, and is filled with quaint little guest houses. There is also an old steeple church which has a reception venue. We did not have a chance to stop in the town and look around, unfortunately. I definitely plan to return for further exploration. Below is a photo of the church.

Port Gamble -
Port Gamble Weddings -

Photo by Dani M.

Lake Crescent:
From Port Gamble we continued along HWY 104, which merges onto HWY 101. We remained on HWY 101 through Sequim and Port Angeles and continued on toward Forks. On the drive we passed by Lake Crescent. Oh my heavens was that area gorgeous. The water was unreal; it was so still it was like a mirror, without a single ripple. Unfortunately, I was driving and could not pull over to get a photo. I did not think the cars behind me would appreciate my stopping in the road just for a photo, sorry guys! We did find some turnouts though, which allowed us to get some gorgeous photos of the water (even though there were some ripples). I am most definitely going to look into camping at that lake. 

Lake Crescent -

Photo by Aleah Anne.

After stopping at almost every single turnout around the lake, we finally moved on to Forks. We stopped off at the Forks Chamber of Commerce to get some information about the area. Now, the area is popular for Twilight fans, and while I did enjoy the books and the movies, I was not in Forks for Twilight tours and souvenirs. A lot of what they had was in this category. The lady working there was very friendly, and I was able to pick up some helpful pamphlets on local waterfalls, camping, food, etc. For people who are interested in the Twilight tours and souvenirs, the Chamber of Commerce is the place to go!

Forks -

Photo by Aleah Anne.

La Push:
From Forks we traveled on to La Push. The drive was only about 20 minutes. It was quite a lovely drive. We went all the way out to First Beach (there are three beaches). It was sunny and beautiful. There were several surfers coming in from a day out catching waves. We wandered about taking photos, while climbing on rocks and fallen trees. It was very peaceful and relaxing. We drove to the parking areas for Second Beach and Third Beach, but could not quite figure out how to actually access those beaches. There was probably a path through the woods that led to the beach, but we were running short on daylight so decided not to pursue it. We called it a day headed back to the hotel since we had about an hour's drive to get there.

Photo by Aleah Anne.

Port Angeles:
On the way to our hotel, back in Port Angeles, we decided we would stop off for some dinner somewhere close to the hotel. However, my "navigator" did some poor navigating and we ended up in Joyce, WA at a place called Blackberry Cafe (which was nowhere near Port Angeles). According to Yelp, this cafe is known for its pies. Though we did not eat there, we did get some pies to go. Um, delicious! I had chocolate, and my friends had blackberry and rhubarb. Mmm mmm mmm. After our little detour and pit stop for pie (clearly someone knew we needed sweets), we finally made it to Port Angeles. We stayed at the Super 8 which was located on the south end of town. They had decent prices (approximately $70 for two beds) and the hotel was in a convenient location. After getting checked in we went out to get some grub. With the help of handy dandy Yelp we found a place called Next Door Gastropub in the downtown area. It was a super trendy little place. According to one of my friends they have the most amazing wings. She had the garlic parmesan I believe. I am a vegetarian so I cannot confirm nor deny this information. My vegetarian choice was a veggie sandwich with hummus, cucumber, olives and more. It was quite good. I also ordered some amazingly delicious fries. They have a whole build your own fries appetizer on the menu. Feta cheese, bacon, garlic and more can be added. Now, since we were at a pub, we of course had to get some drinks. I had a local hard pear cider (Finn River). Yum! My friends had a few different types of beers. The pub has their current selection posted up on a chalkboard on the wall. The bar tenders are all extremely knowledgeable about the beers and are happy to give you a sample to try if you are unsure of what you might like. After dinner and drinks we drove back to the hotel. Though we made sure to stop and get some beer and cider on the way for a fun girls' night in! Back in our room, with drinks in hand, we had a good time playing the hilarious (though dreadfully inappropriate) game of Cards Against Humanity (If you have never played this game before, go find it and play. That is an order!). Finally, at the extremely late hour of......10:30PM....we all crashed. of us crashed. I, and one of my friends, tried to crash without much success. We eventually did get some sleep, but we woke up early to take advantage of the FREE breakfast in the hotel lobby. Cannot say no to FREE!! It was a typical hotel lobby breakfast: coffee, OJ, waffles, cereal, bananas, etc. Nothing special-just the basic components of an ordinary breakfast, but it worked out fine. 

Blackberry Cafe -
Super 8 -
Next Door Gastropub -
Port Angeles -

Me taking photos in the hotel parking lot. We woke up to a VERY foggy morning. Photo by Dani M.

Port Townsend:
After checking out of the hotel, we were on the road toward home. We stopped off in Port Townsend, as it is only about twenty minutes off the main highway. I had seen an article about it in Huffington Post, America's Best Main Streets, and wanted to check it out. Let me just say, if you are ever in that neck of the woods, STOP. Stop immediately, and visit Port Townsend. It is one of the most adorable little towns. The streets are filled with quaint little houses, and there is so much history everywhere. The historic downtown is just too cute for words. There are unique little shops in the old brick and victorian style buildings that line both sides of the main street. Restaurants, cafes, soda shops, home decor, gifts, etc. The people working in the shops were all friendly and helpful. The shop we spent the most time in was called Tickled Pink. They had a variety of fun gifts and trinkets. There were fashion scarves, funny signs, jewelry, headbands, soaps and lotions, etc. As we wandered around town, we couldn’t help but notice the most intoxicating smells coming from a local pizza parlor. Obviously none of us were willing to turn down pizza that smelled that good; as you can imagine, within minutes, we were seated inside enjoying some of the best pizza I have ever had. Their sauce alone was magical. The name you ask? Waterfront Pizza. Write that down, go there. If you’re just in the mood for a quick slice, sitting downstairs is fine. However, if you have the time, and would like to sit back and relax for a bit with a little people watching mixed in, head upstairs where you can sit down and order whole pizzas, while also enjoying some drinks. We opted for the latter.

Note: from HWY 101, take HWY 20 out to Port Townsend.

Tickled Pink -
Waterfront Pizza -
Port Townsend -
Huffington Post Article -

Photos by Aleah Anne.

After we finished our lunch, we boxed up our leftovers and headed out toward home. It was a nice weekend away from the city with two good friends that I will miss dearly when I move.

Happy travels!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vancouver, BC, Canada

18 January 2014-19 January 2014

This past weekend I fell in love with Vancouver, BC. I went up for a quick weekend trip with a good friend of mine. Crossing the border was painless and the other side pretty much just looks like the U.S. side, with the exception of speed limits being in Kilometers instead of miles.

Anyway, once we made it to the city we went straight to Gastown, Vancouver's "Fashion & Design District". Parking was a bit tricky. It was mostly street parking and the meters are coin only (we did find out later that there are some garages). We got lucky and a kind meterman put two hours on our meter for free. Gastown is the most adorable little neighborhood full of boutiques, souvenir shops, home decor shops, art shops, coffee shops, and restaurants. The first shop we went into, Orling & Wu, the shop clerk gave us a wonderful little map of Gastown and she was kind enough to circle some places she recommended for meals and going out at night. Everyone was so kind and friendly. We wandered around a bit, looking in shops and purchasing a few things. The prices in Canada are quite high compared to the states. We did find one adorable little boutique, Artemisia, that had much better prices and the ladies working were so kind. After walking around for a couple hours we ventured to a restaurant that almost everyone we talked to told us to go to. The name you ask? The Flying Pig. Traditional Canadian cuisine. When we got there they were still serving brunch (popular in Canada apparently). We each got our meals, which were quite tasty. The only complaint I had was that there was not a whole lot of flavor. But you can easily add some salt or pepper. The waitress was very friendly and the staff checked in on us just the right amount of times. When you are finished and ready to pay the bill they bring a card terminal to your table and you can add tip right there in a specific amount or by percentage. I found this extremely helpful, less math on my part! By this time it was getting quite cold so we decided to move on from Gastown and do some exploring elsewhere while warming up in the car.
Orling & Wu -
The Flying Pig -

Our next stop was Stanley Park. We did not explore much of the park. We just drove through to where you can view the harbor and Lions Gate Bridge. It was a lovely viewpoint. I would have loved to explore more of the park, but it was cold and we were getting tired. 

For more information on Stanley Park -

We decided, being the old ladies we are, to head to the hotel, get checked in, and take a nap and relax for a bit before heading out for some night life fun. We found a nice hotel in the Granville neighborhood (Best Western). It has an amazing rooftop area with views of the city and the Granville Bridge. The room also had a nice view of downtown. It was fairly affordable and the employees were very nice. After getting settled in our room and getting a little rest and relaxation time in we prepared for a fun night on the town. Before leaving the hotel, however, we make a quick stop up to the roof to check out the view at night.

For more information on this hotel please visit their website -

Our hotel was located in the Granville "Entertainment District" so we decided to begin there. We were in search of a nice bar that was not too terribly loud and where we could find good drinks and fun bar tenders.
While walking through the Entertainment district we found most of the bars to be a bit obnoxious for our taste. The drinking age in Canada is younger than the states and we found a lot of young drunkards about. We decided to walk back down to Gastown since we so enjoyed it earlier in the day. It was a nice refreshing walk and definitely not too far. Once we got to Gastown we started exploring the bars. We finally went to one that had been recommended to us earlier in the day by the shop clerk at Orling & Wu. It was exactly what we were looking for, great drinks, great atmosphere and great bar tenders. The only problem? I am not allowed to speak about it. So...I will just say, Gastown is the place to go for a more relaxed, but still fun, nightlife experience.

Coming Soon....

The Blog

So, this blog stems from a family owned website that provides travel information for the state of Arizona. We decided that we wanted to share our travels outside Arizona with our visitors and friends. goes! Enjoy :)