What to do in Joshua Tree & On the road back to Las Vegas

Girls Weekend Road Trip - Las Vegas to Joshua Tree Part III

Ok. Let me just start by saying there will be a lot of photos in this post [hahahah as if thats different from any other]. Also - if you haven’t read part one & two, go read them now.
Great. So, besides this helping to be guide for you if you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree soon - this is a journal entry, holding some of my favourite memories of this trip. That being said, at least they’re not crappy photos?
OK! The Cholla Garden! We planned this around sunset & of course arrived late because #girls & because its down further into the valley, so the sun was behind the mountain. DIDN’T STOP US. No way. We were absolutely captivated by the insanely quick change of scenery & how concentrated they cactus’ were! Lots of rules about staying on the path & stuff, but we risked our lives & went off the path. Only a few casualties.

Once the sun had gone down, the sky started changing & the gradient along the horizon was.. UNLIKE ANYTHING I’VE EVER SEEN. Here aRE SoME* mOrE pIcS~

We spent the next day popping around the town of Joshua Tree & decided to drive down to Palm Springs. Joshua Tree has a few cute vintage shops on the main strip, we just stopped at the ones that looked enticing. Generally the town is MUCH more granola that I imagined. I definitely thought it would be #trendy #cute #instagramworthy & I was pleasantly surprised that it was true to the locals. Speaking of locals - we met a few & in one of the vintage shops I ended up in a conversation about life with a lady for at LEAST 40 minutes. This is no exaggeration. It was so enjoyable & perfectly weird.
OK! The trip to Palm Springs is through the mountains & I could have cried at the views. I’d been to Palm Springs before, so it was nice to be back. We didn’t really do much but eat some delicious Poke [which is quite ironic] & walk through Ace Hotel. On our drive back home we stopped at the CUTEST Cactus Mart & debated best travel practices for transporting tiny cactus’ home.

We spent our last night making tacos, drinking wine & sitting on the back patio watching the sun set. It is eerily quiet & we were all super into it. After the sun dropped behind the horizon, we wandered down the ‘road’ with our wine & had a moment together. We all talked about our year & made some promises to ourselves & symbolically threw rocks into the desert to let go of people & moments we wanted to leave behind. It’s quite healing, you should try it.

The last morning, Liv & Vick got up to watch the sunrise & after we ate breakfast, we started the drive back to Las Vegas. I really think there is something so special about the desert landscape, it’s so simple, but man its beautiful.
We stopped at a side of the road, seemingly deserted, gas station/motel, right near the Mojave Trails Monument & it was really interesting. We were also recommended, by a park ranger, to stop at the Kelso Sand Dunes, but didn’t have time!

That’s pretty much it! We made it back to Las Vegas in time to hit up In-N-Out before our flight & it was as delicious as always.
Lastly - here’s a little video I made of our trip, using the app Spark. It’s fun & easy to capture spontaneous moments & see them all cut together.

Where to stay in Joshua Tree & Joshua Tree National Park

Girls Weekend Road Trip - Las Vegas to Joshua Tree Pt II

We arrived at our Airbnb outside of Joshua Tree [we technically stayed in Twentynine Palms] just before dinner & although it was quite the trip down the sandy road, we freaking loved our house. We had booked it sort of last minute, but man was it a gem. We made dinner & sat out on the back patio area until we went to sleep. It was so serene & peaceful out there. Absolute magic.
ps. if you haven’t read part one of this little series, you can read it here.

The next morning we were up fairly early [hello change of time zone] & we made a quick breakfast before heading into Joshua Tree National Park. We wanted to get a early start to the day to hopefully beat the heat, but it was about 10-15 degrees cooler in the park, which was so nice! We entered by the Oasis Visitors Center & exited into Joshua Tree. We hiked a few different spots, but our favourites were Arch Rock, Skull Rock, Split Rock & Keys View [which is absolutely not a hike ha!]. We spent about 4.5 hours in the park & we were starving by the time we finished. We got lunch in town [Natural Sisters - soooo yummy!] & walked through the weekend farmers market & went back home for a nap.

Honestly - a lot of our exploring revolved around driving down the road, getting out & walking around & then repeating. We only kind of knew what we were doing, but we had so much fun. I couldn’t believe the textures of the rocks, the little crevices we could squeeze through & how quiet the entire park was! We had some funny stories of trying to climb up higher than each other or mastering the art of being super athletic. ha!

Like I mentioned above - Keys View. It was literally a parking lot with a walking trail about 5 meters up to the top of the ‘mountain’. We could not hold it together, laughing at how absurd this ‘hike’ was. But once we got to the top… yeah. Beautiful. You could see the Salton Sea & a mountain in Mexico, so I was pretty amazed. Here are some very serious photos of us taking in the views.

Ok these photos are here for my own personal enjoyment. We were making jokes about how super cool our KIA was & how trendy we were riding around in it. So, of course we took the most absurd photos because it was hella tight. Nothing is sacred.

Later that night we went back to the park to see the Cholla Garden at sunset & it was so stunning & serene.. more on that next!

What to do off The Strip in Las Vegas

Girls Weekend RoadTrip - Las Vegas to Joshua Tree Part I

We planned a trip out west to celebrate Olivia’s birthday & like any trip, there were changes of plans, delayed flights & lots of hurry up & wait. But here was the plan. We flew into Las Vegas to spend one night & wake up early the next morning to head toward Joshua Tree. We planned to spend the weekend in Joshua Tree & fly home Monday evening. & that is what we did.

Day one, Olivia & I landed in Vegas as the sun was rising [yes. rising.] & took an Uber to Toast Society, which is about 15 minutes off the strip. We arrived before they opened [se again: ‘landed as the sun was rising’] & sat outside in the sun. Honestly - worth the wait. We chatted with the girls working & they gave us some great recommendations. We each got a toast, split them in half & enjoyed every single last bite. HIGHLY recommend & worth the conversation you’ll have with your Uber driver asking ‘why are you going all the way out here??’. Because yes, we had that convo twice.

Liv & I spent the day waiting for Vick, who was very stuck in New York. But she made it. We raged so hard, we postmates’d [not a word.] Shake Shack to our hotel & fell asleep by 10.30. Woooo. We stayed at the Delano, but honestly it was such a terrible experience & so far away from everything that it is not even worth one single mention.
So! We got up the next morning & started our journey. We drove about 30 minutes outside of LV & stopped at the Seven Magic Mountains. Now - we didn’t know what to expect, but what we experienced was a LOT of people taking a quick selfie & then moving on. When we arrived there were so. many. people. but we just waited it out & they dispersed a little & we ran to get photos. & we repeated that cycle about 4 times. Because yes, they are beautiful, magical rocks…here’s a thousand photos to prove how beautiful they are.

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We are available for hire & yes, we all only wear white tops & black bottoms.

But really, it was such a great start to our trip & made the rest of the journey a breeze. More photos to come!

Where We Stay + Eat Miami | Part I

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Eat - Stay - Drink - Do - MIAMI & South Beach City Guide

Miami is one of our favorite cities to travel to for a few reasons. When we first got married we lived about an hour north, so it was our day off destination & getaway from the suburbs. We made a lot of memories there, as we maneuvered our first year of marriage & really began to understand what we value about 'home'. Secondly, it seems that we make our way back to South Florida about once a year, so we have our list of favorite spots & always love trying out new places.

Over time - we have found one amazing hotel in particular that we LOVE. The Confidante. It's a Hyatt hotel, but within their boutique collection. It has an amazing pool [& family pool!!], beach access, a restaurant, free weekend fitness classes on the roof & so much more. 

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I don't usually bring my camera when we go out to restaurants, but I had high expectations for this one. Planta is a Toronto based Restaurant that's totally vegan. The best part about it was that they grow almost all of their vegetables on the roof of their restaurant! There was even a root hanging down into the restaurant [you can see it in the top of one of the photos!]. I freaking loved it. Now I know most people are going to completely write this place off because it's vegan, but I promise, it was delicious! Nate loved it too & that boy loves meat. We all went in & shared a few plates & were not disappointed at all.

Last place that we ate at & felt like it would be a great option for a large group, is Wynwood Yard.  It's an area in Wynwood with rotating food truck options & lots of seating! It was fun, but when we went it was HOT & there was a lot of seating in the sun. It absolutely would be better later in the evening for drinks & the vibe definitely is a bit more exciting!

LASTLY! This is not a stay or an eat, it is a DO & I have to share it. These are only iphone photos because we were out on the water, but if you can, rent paddle-boards or kayaks! We rented through South Beach Kayak & loved our experience.
- arrive about 15 minutes early so you can fill out your form & sign the waiver.
-don't bring anything. They have tiny lockers where they will hold your items, but it's mostly for shoes, phones & wallets. their shop is not big. It is one single room & there are a lot of renters.
-you will not be able to wear your shoes/clothes down to the water & then take them off - you will walk across the street in your bathing suit & barefoot. If you're nice they might let you walk over in shoes & bring them back to their shop for you ;)
-you can rent a little waterproof box for your phone for $10 [which we did!] 
-be nice to them. they KNOW what they're doing & although you might feel like an idiot when they're explaining things to you...just know they know best & have your best in mind.
-it might be windy! paddle-boarding in wind is hard. take a kayak instead.
-your arms will feel like they are limp noodles. keep going, it's worth it.
-lastly, be OK TO FALL OFF! it's fun & helps not be so boiling hot on the water. 

Our Favorite Coffee Spots in Miami | Part II

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Eat - Drink - See - Miami Coffee Guide

When we lived in Florida in 2012/13, Nate & I hunted for good coffee every time we drove into Miami. It took the city a while, but they've finally began to open some great shops & we have tried a lot of them! Here is our list in order from our most to least faves.
Panther Coffee -which now has multiple locations!! wooo! Wynwood & Miami Beach are our faves.
All Day -lots of delicious food options! you can absolutely get a full meal here.
Miam -great food options here as well. 
Mister Block -definitely instagram friendly
Blue Bottle -a craft coffee chain across the US. get a cheese & guava pastry!
OTL -not the greatest coffee, but the food was delicious. also v instagram friendly.

I love returning to a city & seeing that there are new places to eat & drink & enjoy the culture! Miami is FULL of culture & has so many eating & drinking options. We always recommend people spend time in both Wynwood & on Miami Beach as that's where the most variety is! 

Family Vacation - Oahu Part III

Waimea Bay

Our favourite parts of North Shore were Waimea Bay & Haleiwa. We went to Waimea Bay two days & honestly could have spent all day everyday there. It was such a great beach & everyone got what they wanted out of it - surfing, swimming, lounging & it's pretty close to town. WE. LOVED. IT. that's all. 
Side note - Nate & I jumped off this rock one day while we were there & it was AMAZING. I've never jumped off anything before but I've always wanted to!!

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The house that we stayed in for the week had boogie boards & I am SO glad they did! We had such a fun time on them in the waves & on our last evening there my parents literally would not get out of the water. Did I say already that it was so much fun?? It was so much fun.
Basically everyday it rained for some portion of the day - so when we were on the beach we either hid under the umbrella or made sure we were in the water before it started! The rain was COLD & windy. But we tried to make the most of it!

& now here are some gifs of my brother in law sandboarding into the river.

Family Vacation - Oahu Part II

Haleiwa & the North Shore of Oahu

One of my favourite parts about this trip with my family was how laid back everyone was. We would be driving & see something & just pull off the side of the road to look. We didn't always have a plan for where to eat, but we figured it out on the fly & everyone was just along for the journey. It was so great!
One day on our way home from the beach we pulled off on the side of the road as we had seen cars there all week & wanted to know what they were there for. Turns out it was turtles!!! It's right on Laniakea Beach & there's space to pull over on the side of the road to park! This was post beach-day & we all had some crazy hair & burnt faces, but we were happy :)

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We stopped in Haleiwa a couple times for snacks & going to the surf shops & I loved it! I think next time I would prefer staying up there, there's so many cute places & I had a lengthy list of things I wanted to do in town! We stopped to get Shave Ice one night, but the shop was closed, so we got ice cream across the street. Nate walked down the street & got coffee at Coffee Gallery & he was very happy about it.

On one of our other days in town we all split up to get lunch & while I was waiting for my food from The Elephant Shack [which had DELICIOUS thai food!] Nate found a shop called Number808 & it was so great! #ryhmeintended. After that we tried the North Shore Shave Ice again & it was open! *yay* I highly suggest adding the condensed milk on top, makes a HUGE difference! Also the medium is very large. very.

Other places we had on our list but didn't make it to!
Tropical Rush - they had a great deal on Stand Up Paddleboarding down the river that I wanted to do, but didn't have time!
Crispy Grindz - they had a couple food trucks on the road up to Haleiwa as well!
Haleiwa Bowls - another food truck style shop on the side of the road
The Sunrise Shack - we drove past it minimum 6 times & I still missed it everytime. If you look on their instagram you will see alllll the vibes.

Family Vacation - Oahu Part I

For the rest of our stay, we were up on the Northern part of the island right outside of Laie in an airbnb. We LOVED staying up there as we were only 15-30 minutes from some of the best beaches on the island. My brother-in-law woke up early every morning & surfed at Pipeline, which was probably the most ideal situation ever!!
We made daily stops at Foodland for some type of groceries or snack. We ate a few times at the food trucks at the Mill, our faves were Seven Brothers & Ono Yo Frozen Yogurt

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We spent one day at the Polynesian Cultural Center & it was such a great way to learn more about all the cultures of the islands in Polynesia. It was pretty pricey, but the pass is good for three days, which would have been good to know ahead of time. ha! We just didn't plan for it & didn't have the time to dedicate to it. BUT! It was beautiful & I felt like I went on a trip around the islands. Also you can go into the entrance area & eat some snacks & see some cool shops without buying a ticket to the whole Center. I HIGHLY suggest going into Tutu's Sweets Shop & getting the Dole Whip. We did that once for a late night treat & it made us all extremely happy.

We drove down to Hanauma Bay for a beach day, as my parents had been there on their last trip to Hawaii over 20 years ago! It's a national park, so it costs to get in & you have to do a brief lesson on what you can & can't do in the water because it's protected coral reef. We liked the beach, but it was packed & my parents said it wasn't as beautiful as it was all those years ago! We did some snorkeling, but didn't see many fish. Kind of a bummer, but I'm still glad we saw it!

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Other things we had on our list for the southern part of the island but didn't get a chance to do: Halona Beach Cove, Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail,  Pillbox Hike [outside of Kailua] & Nalu Health Bar.