Throwback Thursday: I can’t ski but I sure love Mammoth, CA

As the title states- I can’t ski. In fact, I don’t even really have a desire to learn. The thought of flying down a mountain on two sticks totally freaks me out. That being said, I love California’s ski paradise: Mammoth, CA! Prior to getting invited to a wedding in summer of 2017 I’d never heard of Mammoth but I’ve learned much more after visiting and hearing about what a popular winter training destination it is during the February 2018 Winter Olympics.

To get to Mammoth from CT I opted to fly from Hartford to LAX and then rent a car to take the five hour drive into the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Though this was a long drive I’m glad I did it because it was a great opportunity to see red rocks, deserts and parts of California I’d never seen before!

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About an hour into the drive
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Getting my first glimpse of the mountains

In between wedding festivities I got a chance to check out three destinations that make Mammoth a great place to see when the snow has melted!

Hot Creek Geological Site

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Heading down the paved path to the creek

The first place we visited was the local Hot Creek Geological Site. This volcanic basin was formed 700,000 years ago. Water filters down from the mountains through the earth’s crust and becomes super heated to create the steaming creek. The sulfur scented water is beautiful to look at but too hot to touch- the creek is fenced off and swimming is strictly prohibited.

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Views of snow capped mountains adjacent to the creek

Best part? Parking and visiting is totally free!

Reds Meadow

Reds Meadow is a gorgeous valley that can be accessed by parking at the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge and taking a shuttle bus 1,400 feet down into the valley. There are lots of things to see in Reds Meadow- the shuttle has ten different stops you can get off at to get to what you want to do. We opted to first get off and see Devils Postpile National Monument.

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The impressive rock formation was formed by lava and glacier ice over 100,000 years ago. It was officially protected as a national monument in 1911.

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We got back onto the shuttle and road a couple more stops down to Rainbow Falls. We hiked a relatively short, steep trail down to the falls which are aptly named for the rainbow present in the water’s mist.

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Bus passes for the Reds Meadow shuttle are available for purchase at the Mammoth Adventure Center and cost $8 for an adult ticket.

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs

Despite the kooky name, Wild Willy’s Hot Springs was my favorite place to visit in the Mammoth area. These are natural hot springs that are completely free to visit and use all year round.

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The smaller of the two pools you’ll find at Wild Willy’s is naturally heart shaped!

This was my favorite place because I felt so enveloped in nature. The springs are out of view from the parking lot so there aren’t any cars (or really any part of civilization) in sight.

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Humans weren’t the only ones enjoying the springs- a herd of cows was grazing nearby.

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Have you ever been to Mammoth, California? What’s your favorite part of this mountain paradise?

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Stay adventurous!

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Throwback Thursday: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland

When looking for things to do in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden was at the top of my list. I love visiting public gardens when I travel because they’re beautiful and usually cheap or free. Even on a misty, cool fall day the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens didn’t disappoint. We got to enjoy low crowds too which made many areas feel like our own private backyard.

The gardens are open daily but hours vary so check their website. Admission is free however they offers options to see additional indoor exhibits for a small fee. Here is some of the beauty that awaits you:

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The gardens have 10 glasshouses on the property

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The cottage in the background was dedicated by the royal family

I loved it here and would go back in a minute. I’m sure it’s just spectacular on a sunny, clear day when you can see the city on the hillside beyond the gardens. Have you been to the Royal Botanic Gardens? What’s your favorite time of year to visit?

In other news- the adventures continue in 2019 as I head to Walt Disney World on Friday! If you want to follow along keep your eyes on my instagram story for live updates.

Stay adventurous!

Throwback Thursday: Haleakala National Park in Maui, HI

Today I’m throwing back to my Hawaii trip from April of this year to talk about Haleakala National Park on Maui! You can read my last throwback from this trip here.

We almost skipped visiting Maui’s volcano because the sunrise/sunset trips to the summit are so hyped that we didn’t know if a midday trip would be worthwhile. I’m so glad we went because Haleakala is out of this world!

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It was a cloudy day on the beach but we ended up driving through all the clouds for clear views.

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Volcanic rock formations

It’s much colder at the summit than it was at our condo so we made sure we wore pants and jackets.

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If you start at the beach (aka sea level) it’s a 37 mile drive to the summit which makes Haleakala one of the greatest elevation gains in the shortest distance in the world!

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Haleakala crater

The most stunning part of the trip was seeing the volcanic crater. The different colors of the dirt and sands were beautiful and really made me feel like I was looking out at a scene from Mars!

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It was amusing seeing planes go by because it was like I was looking down on them! Haleakala was amazing and I’m so glad that we didn’t skip it! If you’re not a morning or a late night person don’t let that deter you from visiting. I would love to go back and see a sunrise or a sunset next time but I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all this visit!

Having done the drive up and down in daylight I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tour bus to the summit if you want to do a sunrise or a sunset tour. The roads are winding and narrow so personally, I’d be uncomfortable driving them in the dark.

If heights aren’t your thing consider visiting the coastal area of the park called the Kipahulu District which can be found just past the town of Hana. Make sure you dress appropriately for either side of the park you visit as weather can be vastly different!

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Stay Adventurous!

Throwback Thursday: Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Bar Crawl

For today’s Throwback Thursday I want to share one of my favorite Disney things to do: crawl! Bar crawl, that is! One of my favorite arguing points when people say Walt Disney World is only for kids is all the food and drink experiences to be had. I love to suggest people try to the Monorail Bar Crawl, or the Boardwalk Bar Crawl which I’ll cover today.

Like the Monorail Bar Crawl, the Boardwalk Bar Crawl doesn’t require you to have a park ticket so it’s a great option for a day or night you won’t be hitting the parks. The Boardwalk Resort area is easy to get to by Uber, Minnie Van, or by taking a bus to nearby Hollywood Studios and following the walking path. While it would take more time, you can also take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs and take a Boardwalk, Yacht Club, or Beach Club resort bus to get there.

First stop: Big River Grille & Brewing Works

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Big River serves up American pub favorites in a family friendly setting. You can see 6 specialty beers being handcrafted on site!

We started our crawl with some nachos and beer:

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Second stop: AbracadaBar

AbracadaBar invites you into a 1940s magician’s lounge with a few tricks up its sleeves. With a selection of old fashioned cocktails to choose from we went with the Conjurita and Seahorse Sweet.

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Seahorse Sweet on the left and Conjurita on the right

If you’ve peeped the menu you might have noticed the Seahorse Sweet and it’s disappearing cotton candy are technically non-alcoholic  but when I used the magic word (please, in this case) the bar tender was happy to add some vodka. The conjurita is poured table side so you can enjoy it’s color changing trick!

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Once we had our drinks we enjoyed the ambiance and checked out the magic memorabilia. Pay close attention to the posters on the wall- you never know who’ll disappear!

Third stop: Jellyrolls

After crawling up and down the Boardwalk, the dueling piano bar Jellyrolls is the perfect place to sit, relax, and belt out your favorite music! While Jellyrolls serves typical bar drinks (we ordered Bud Light) its really the music that you visit for.

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A couple things to know about Jellyrolls:

  • Cover is $12 per person and only those 21 and older are admitted (sorry kids!)
  • Songs are played by request and requests are submitted with a cash tip (usually the better the tip, the more likely your song is to be played)

Other options to try:

  • Trattoria al Forno is a great place to start your crawl if you’re looking for dinner as you go! The drink menu includes a large assortment of wine, Italian brandy and cocktails. Dinner is served 5p-10p, reservations recommended!
  • ESPN Club is an excellent choice for a sports fan to take in a game mid crawl. Lounge seating is first come, first serve. Dinner hours and reservation needs vary so check the Disney website prior to your visit!

Have you done the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Bar Crawl? Or, would you want to try it?

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Stay adventurous!

Throwback Thursday: Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason in London

It’s time for another #throwbackthursday and today I’m throwing it back to my October 2017 adventures in London with my international bestie, Morag! We first met back in 2014 when she was in the US with Camp America and we’ve maintained a long distance friendship ever since. In 2017 she played tour guide for my first U.K. trip! Check out her blog about her travels here.

Before I was in to coffee tea was my first love. Afternoon tea is something that seems quintessentially British to us Americans so I was dying to try and Morag was happy to indulge my curiosities. She choose Fortnum & Mason for our tea experience. I’d describe F & M like a home goods department store that also sells dried food goods (tea, packaged biscuits, wines, etc.) The store is so beautiful its worth a walk through on its own! We took the elevator to the top floor where the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is located.

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Waiting for our name to be called in the lobby (photo credit: Morag)

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We started off by browsing the tea menu to select what we’d like to drink. I really liked how they had made special blends to mark occasions for the Royal family!

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I selected the Wedding Breakfast tea. Morag isn’t much of a hot tea drinker so she asked for some iced tea.

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I love the custom of tea being served from a small tea pot so much that when I got home I purchased myself one to make looseleaf in!
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Photo credit: Morag

We also ordered the champagne pairing because why not?! When in London, am I right? As we sipped our drinks, the beautiful display of food arrived!

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We went with the afternoon tea menu and everything was delicious! They do offer a gluten-free option, shown at right in the above picture. The finger sandwiches aren’t something you typically see in the US so a lot of those combinations were new to me but I enjoyed them all!

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I love the blue china with the pink accent flowers!

It’s hard to pick a favorite thing from my U.K. trip but this experience is definitely towards the top of the list. If you’re ready for your own afternoon tea adventure you can make reservations with Fortnum & Mason online. Menu prices start at £52.50.

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Stay adventurous!

Throwback Thursday: Connecticut Lights and Sights

Today I’m throwing it back to a MUST-DO Connecticut adventure: Cross Sound Ferry’s Lights and Sights cruise! In July, my family and I took the two hour cruise out of New London on the Cecelia Ann. I had no clue that Connecticut had so many lighthouses with such colorful stories!

We boarded just prior to 10am. I don’t know how many seats were sold (in relation to what would be considered full) but there was a good crowd yet plenty of seats. We opted to start our cruise with outdoor seats and later moved indoors to get out of the wind for the sail back to the dock. There were plenty of windows so we still had good views while inside.

New London Harbor Light
New London Ledge Light

The cruise takes you to 15 different sights including lighthouses, historic forts, castles and more!

North Dumpling Light is currently owned by the inventor of the Segway!
On our way to Morgan Point Light while standing on the top deck.
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At each sight the captain made a full 360 degree turn so you didn’t have to leave your seat for a great view.

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Little Gull Light

Tickets are $30 for adult fares and sailings continue until October 31st so you have a couple more chances to squeeze in a cruise before the end of the season. Otherwise, Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse cruises sail from the end of May to the end of October. Visit their website here for more details!

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Stay adventurous, friends!

Throwback Thursday: Atlantis Bahamas

If you watch television you’ve probably seen the sun-soaked ads for the Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas. You know: white sand beaches, dolphins splashing and sharks swimming overhead? Ring a bell? In February, my sister and I cruised with Norwegian to celebrate her 30th birthday and opted for an Atlantis Self-Guided Tour and Beach Day excursion on our Nassau day to see if the resort really lives up to the publicized hype.

Our day started bright and early with a bus ride from the Norwegian Sky to the resort. We opted for what I’d call the ‘middle-tier’ tour: we had access to the resort grounds, including the aquariums, and the beach, but not the water slides. Our tour guide walked us through the resort and pointed out where to find things along the way.

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The beautiful weather really accented the beautiful grounds.

One interesting fact our guide shared is that the Atlantis has the one of the only casinos with natural light (aka windows) in the world. Most casino avoid natural light because when you can’t tell the passage of time people will spend more money. The Atlantis claims the windows don’t effect their profits!

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We started out back with the predator and string ray lagoons before following the stairs down to view the tanks.

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It’s amazing how close you felt to the marine life while looking down into the lagoons

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After we finished this loop we headed back inside to see the Dig and Ruins Lagoon tanks.

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This was the touch tank section- however, I preserve to observe from afar!

After enjoying all the wildlife we headed out to the beach. We settled on Atlantis Beach West where I felt like we were treated no different than a resort guest. Resort staff helped us pick out a spot, brought us lounge chairs and towels. Vendors were on the beach offering goods, drinks, etc. Fortunately I didn’t find them too pushy.

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In my book, it’s not vacation until you drink out of a carved-out fruit!

In my book the amenities we got to experience at the Atlantis lived up to the beautiful tv commercials. This got me thinking, and on our bus ride back to the ship I googled some info on actually staying at the resort. It seemed like the rooms and hotel experience had some mixed reviews. I would definitely got back and specifically stay at the Atlantis to find out for myself. Have you ever stayed at the Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas? What was your experience like?

Stay adventurous, friends!