Most of you know by now that the “captain” in Captain and Clark is more than just a sweet nickname. I actually hold a license to pilot a sailing vessel in blue water conditions and spent quite a bit of my youth learning the ropes at sea. Perhaps less well known on our blog though is that Croatia is one of the finest places to sail in the world. Tawny and I are always daydreaming about going off to charter a yacht with GlobeSailor and spending some time at sea. I used to peruse the want ads to look at all the opening for captains in Croatia. There are a surprising amount of tourists looking for people to come captain their charter boats and an endless supply of sleek and seaworthy vessels waiting for you to come try your hand at navigating the Mediterranean. A large part of this is that it is a great place to learn how to sail. The waters are calm, the weather is mild, and every island you stop at is laden with the most insane food you can conjure. For anyone who hasn’t been yet, you can think of Croatian food as a fusion of German and Italian with a zealous commitment to the local grower. It’s one of the things that makes sailing the Croatian isles so desirable, each port has a specialty that they are anxious to load up in your galley for the journey to the next coastal oasis.
The islands have wild names like Hvar, Vis, Rab, and maybe our favorite… Pag. Pag was famous for the salt production pools the Romans built there and remained dear to the Croatian people because of the sheep cheese that is produced there. The locals tells us the flavor comes from the sparse coastal grass and amount of salt the sheep eat as they wander the hills above the sea. When Tawny and I first tried it we couldn’t believe how good it was. Pag also produces some of the world’s best lace.
There is no end to the list of reasons why we choose to keep coming back to Croatia. Among the top five though are that it is STUNNING, affordable, the food is phenomenal, the people are both gorgeous and in possession of a well refined sense of humor, and the coast is a smooth line of sapphire that drapes across the shoulders of Croatia. One of our favorite towns is Opatija, a coastal gem that was most famous as a resort town in the 1800s. Tawny and I honeymooned there and spent our every waking moment down on the sea.
For me, I just keep thinking about getting on a flight back to a yacht town like Cavtat and spending a month following the wind wherever it may blow us.]]>
I knew that I wanted our next trip to be somewhere warm (but not nearly as humid as Tennessee was) and that the kiddos would be accompanying us. It also had to be budget friendly since we literally just returned from a trip. After a little research and playing around with different flights, we decided to book airfare from Seattle to Las Vegas. But we weren’t stopping there. From Las Vegas, we’d drive to a place that I’ve wanted to explore for a while: Palm Springs.
To be fair, Chris and I have been to Palm Springs before. It was seven years ago. We decided to road trip from Washington, down to Vegas for an event, then over to California and back home via highway 1. While it was fun to be young and spontaneous, we didn’t realize just how expensive our little endeavor would be. And when we finally reached Palm Springs, we were so broke that we couldn’t afford to stay in town. We had to settle for a meal of crappy Thai food before moving along.
Ever since that trip I’ve wanted a redo. I never would have thought it would be seven years and two kids later but it was totally worth the wait.
Flights from Seattle to Las Vegas were nearly $200 cheaper than flying directly into Palm Springs. We factored in renting a car and buying gas for the 4-hour (one way) drive and it was still worth it to fly into Vegas. We also scored BIG TIME when our first flight was delayed and we were offered $500 flight vouchers PER PERSON to switch to a later flight. Done deal. We ended up making money after all was said and done.
If you’re game, I’d recommend playing around with flights to see what will save you the most money. We could have also tried flying into LAX (with a shorter drive time) but ultimately found the best deal to Vegas.
There are two hotels that I’ve always wanted to stay at when visiting Palm Springs. Those two are The Saguero and The Ace Hotel & Swim Club. I was drawn to the brightly colored picturesque exterior of The Saguero. It looked lively and fun. So when I stumbled upon ridiculously affordable (non-refundable) rates for the The Saguero, I booked in a heartbeat.
I got one thing right: The Saguero is both bright and lively. In fact, there was a little too much of the latter. Young, twenty-something year old me would have loved this place. There were live DJs and all-day pool parties. The hallways were flocked with scantily clad youth talking about a variety of subjects not quite suitable for our small children.
There were a few pros to our stay at The Saguero. One: Holden’s obnoxiously loud train sounds were masked by the thumping beats from the DJ booth. Two: The large rooms allowed our children to run off any excess energy before bed time. Other than that, we realized that in our short stay, we had outgrown the hotel.
The final straw was when we returned from a day of exploration. We were hot, hungry, and tired. Chris was weaving our double stroller through the throngs of intoxicated party goers in the lobby when one very inebriated man pointed at our little family and loudly slurred, “I nevvvver want that liiiife.” Chris and I both rolled our eyes and made our way to our room. Within two minuted of being there, Chris was fiddling on his phone. And shortly after, he exclaimed, “I’ve got us a new hotel. We check in tomorrow.” And thus ended our time at The Saguero.
An oasis. That’s what The Ace Hotel & Swim Club was to us after our brief stay at The Saguero. It was clean. It was trendy. It was quiet. And it felt more, shall we say, “grown up.”
Our room was incredible. It had a large bed, two comfortable lounges that turned into twin beds at night, and the added bonus of a private, enclosed deck. When we weren’t at the pool, we were giving our kiddos their first taste of popsicles. It was incredibly messy but totally fine since we just rinsed down the space when they were done.
While we only had two nights at The Ace, we made the most of our stay by enjoying the awesome guest amenities– whether it was posting up by one of the nightly fire pits or enjoying a breakfast at The King’s Highway diner. And when it wasn’t a million degrees outside, we’d take the tots on a walks of the premises, collecting decor ideas for our future abode.
All in all, I’d highly recommend anyone book a stay at The Ace Hotel & Swim Club. Check their website before booking through a third party site as they often run promotions that will save you a little extra money.
It wasn’t all pool parties and popsicles. Even though temperatures were reaching the 100s, we decided to take in as much of the area as we could. In the end, I think we found a little something for everyone.
Holden’s recent obsessions include trains and dinosaurs. Thankfully, we were treated to both at the Cabazon Dinosaur Park. When we pulled up, our grumpy toddler immediately perked up when he noticed a freight train passing by. Little did he know, his mind was about to be blown with giant dinosaur models.
Admission is $13/adult (ages 13-54) and $11/children (ages 2-12). Children two and under are free. If you think your child will be happy with simply seeing the giant T-Rex outside the gate, save yourself the money. But if you have children that are even remotely interested in dinosaurs, digging for fossils, or panning in a cool stream, go ahead and fork over the cash. While Holden breezed through the winding path, barely stopping to take in any of the dinosaur models that greeted him, he LOVED “panning” for dinosaur bones in the little stream at the start of the park. I’m pretty sure he could have stayed there for hours but both Henley and I were over the heat.
Once we finished our dinosaur adventure inside, we stepped out to take photos of the iconic T-Rex and grab a bowl of Sweetosaur ice cream. That might have been my favorite part.
Okay, so the kids might have slept through our entire trip through Joshua Tree but I have full confidence that if they were awake, they would have loved. it. To be fair, we had poorly planned our excursion after a day of exploring (and dinosaurs!) and the kids were exhausted. They fell asleep before we even arrived and stayed that way until it was dinner time.
Chris and I, on the other hand, loved our evening drive through Joshua Tree. We stopped for some photos, watched a few tourists attempt to climb a few rocks, saw ALL the Joshua Trees, and then left. If the kids had been awake, I would have loved to stop and do a mini hike on one of the paths. Next time!
I’ve seen photos from Moorten Botanical Garden’s beautiful cactarium grace my social media feeds for years. It’s what the kids these days are calling “insta worthy,” The cactus nursery, as I’ll call it, was both the stuff of dreams and nightmares. The latter because sharp objects and inquisitive toddlers don’t really mix.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed walking through the garden and taking in the various local flora that is foreign to us in the Pacific Northwest. We visited early in the morning so that we could beat the heat of the day. Although we still ended up melting, Holden enjoyed scouring the gardens for dinosaurs (there were a few) while Henley was fond of giving me a heart attack every time she reached for a dagger sharp cactus. There were also a few tortoises and birds on the premises that both the kiddos loved.
All told, we spent about an hour exploring the gardens. We probably would have left a little earlier but I had a very special surprise planned for the family. Take a peek below.
One thing that I’ve been more conscious of since having kids, is taking photos for our children to be able to look back on. And while we take a ton of photos while traveling, we rarely get any with all of us in it. Enter Flytographer. This service offers you a personal photographer who meets up with you in a location of your choosing and delivers professionally edited photos in a fast turnaround.
While it’s easy to ask a stranger to take your family photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, you might end up with a shot where your heads are cut off or only half of you are looking at the camera. Flytographer takes out all the guess work and you’re left with frame-worthy photos to last a lifetime.
Chris and I have had a Flytographer shoot in Slovenia and one on Maui (for our babymoon) so I was extra excited to finally use them for our family photos. We met our Flytographer, Melissa, at Moorten Gardens early in the morning (in order to beat the heat) and she followed us around snapping photos as the little ones explored.
You can save $25 off your first Flytographer shoot by using “tawnyclark” at checkout
There’s no shortage of restaurants in Palm Springs but if you want to get down and dirty at a cool local haunt, you have to visit Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. This legendary watering hole is known for its hearty food, live music, and generous pours.
Pappy & Harriet’s felt like a gritty dive bar but was also a comfortable place that welcomes families. We were seated right behind the sound booth and Holden enjoyed looking at all the buttons and lights. It only got better once crooner Brian Whelan took the stage and wowed the crowd for a few sets.
Our dinner was delicious (steak for Chris and I bison burger for myself) and even though it was past their bed times, the kids seemed to have a blast.
As parents to two small children, I think it’s very important to take a little time for yourself. For me, that involved taking a shopping trip downtown Palm Springs. And for Chris, it was visiting a local tiki bar.
Bootlegger Tiki sits where the original Don the Beachcomber Tiki Restaurant once stood. Now a craft cocktail bar, it serves us some of the most delicious (and creative) libations in town.
While not a place suitable for the kiddos, it’s the perfect oasis for a parents’ night out. Chris snacked on sriracha popcorn while throwing back a “Thar She Blows”– a medley of O.F.T.D., White Rum, Plantation Pineapple Rum, Génépy, Amaro, House Falernum, Aperol, Pineapple, Grapefruit, Lime, Cinnamon, Grapefruit Bitters, and Cucumber Bitt.
Of course! All in all, our four short nights in Palm Springs were a blast. Our plan is to return to the desert during one of the cooler months so we can enjoy more of the outdoors (sans blistering heat). I’m also making it a goal to do an adults only vacay in the near future. I want some time with Chris at Bootlegger Tiki!
My advice for traveling to Palm Springs with small children is to take it slow. Plan for naps and breaks. Also be sure that you and the babies are staying hydrated. And unless your child enjoys boozy pool parties, maybe skip The Saguero.]]>
If you like to add a few memorable photographs to your Instagram account you need to head to Spain. This country is home to some incredible locations that are ideal for those who like to take special photographs. From man-made to natural structures that are all worth visiting, Spain certainly seems to have it all.
The Tibidabo Ferris Wheel
We all know how Ferris wheels can give us the chance to see the surrounding area from a whole new perspective. When you jump on the Tibidabo Ferris wheel you will have the chance to snap some amazing views. If you choose to ride the wheel during the night you will see many of Barcelona’s lights from above, the sight is quite something. If you choose to ride the wheel during the daytime you will be able to see much of Barcelona laid out beneath you with the Mediterranean sea in the background, incredible.
Catedrales Beach, Lugo, Galicia
Located in Ribadeo and on the Cantabric coast, Catedrales Beach is an absolutely stunning place to visit and take a few photographs for your Instagram account. With natural arches and enigmatic caves, the beach is well worth visiting. Ideal when the tide is low or high, the arches are made from slate and metamorphic rock. Take a few photographs overlooking the beach or from in between the rocky walls. You can safely swim in the waters or rent a boat in Spain if you would prefer not to get wet.
The Nervion Waterfall, Basque Country and Castile and Leon
If you have the opportunity to spend a bit of time at the Nervion waterfall you’ll be in for a real treat. You can get some amazing photographs of the waterfall and from a number of different angles too. The highest waterfall located on the Iberian peninsula, the waterfall is 270 metres high and is nothing short of stunning.
If you can, visit the waterfall when it’s thawing out in the winter time or when it’s raining as there tends to be a lot more water around. Get snap happy whenever you visit, the photographs you take will look incredible.
Visiting Riotinto is a little like visiting Mars. The landscape is red, yellow, brown and different shades of green. The ochre and the limestone rock are just incredible and have to be seen to be believed. Located in a mining park in Huelva, this is the ideal place to visit if you want to add some photographs to your Instagram account that are a little bit different.
Just so you know, you can travel around the mining park on a steam train, allowing you to take even more unique photographs.
The above four locations are some of Spain’s most intriguing and incredible places to visit. Instagram lovers will no doubt be able to snap some very special photographs making their account even more special. So, get your camera at the ready and prepare to take some very special photographs that will make all of your followers very jealous.
I don’t know about you but our toddler is extremely active. So active that he doesn’t realize he’s hungry until he’s well into the hangry stage. There are few things worse than a hangry toddler stuffed in a small space with hundreds of strangers. In order to prevent the typical meltdown, we packed what I thought was a ridiculous amount of snacks.
I packed healthy snacks. I packed naughty snacks. I packed old favorites and brand new treats. I even ordered Holden a pizza and a cheeseburger for both of his meals on Korean Air. My bag overfloweth and yet, we were running on literal crumbs by the time we landed.
You know the old traveler’s adage, “Pack your suitcase and then remove half of your items.” Well, when it comes to packing snacks for your toddler, do the opposite. And as always, make sure both you and your kiddo are drinking lots and lots of liquids.
Thirteen hours is a long time to be flying with a toddler. These tiny people have tiny attention spans and can only fixate on one thing for so long. While most international airlines now come equipped with personal TVs, it might be beneficial to pack a tablet uploaded with your child’s favorite shows, movies, and games. While we try to steer clear of screen time at home, travel days are the exception. If it makes them happy, keeps them quiet, and lets mama get a little shuteye, we’re all about it.
Even then, our toddler can only be riveted by the iPad for so long. Since he was very into construction vehicles at the time (he’s now moved on to planes- go figure), I bought a few small construction set toys and stored them in my carryon until we were at max boredom. Holden’s face would light up every time I revealed a new surprise and he would be entertained for another hour.
I also packed a handful of activity books that, to be honest, weren’t really a hit with our guy. That being said, if your child is into reading and coloring, I believe activity books would be a worthy investment.
One thing we always bring with us on our travels is blue painter’s tape. We use it to baby proof outlets and restrict blind cords in hotel rooms as well as to keep coloring papers in place on plane tray tables. It does its job and is easily removable. Bonus: it doesn’t take up a ton of space.
Since your toddler is now flying in their own airline seat (yay for a free lap), they can also reap the benefits allotted to most travelers i.e. a free carry-on and in-flight meals. I found it best to pack everything you need for your toddler in one bag that you can store underneath the seat in front of them. That way, you’re not frantically ruffling through three different bags to find diapers, wipes, favorite blankies, and Wet Ones wipes (a serious plane necessity).
For our 13-hour flight to South Korea I packed Holden’s bag with:
On our trip to Korea I packed all of this in my Nena and Co CDB (convertible day bag) but when we’ve traveled internationally before (to Germany, Czech Republic, Scotland, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria), I used our Kånken Fjällräven backpack. Both do the trick.
Ok, this kind of sounds doomsday-y but if you prepare yourself for all of the worst case scenarios, you usually find yourself pleasantly surprise that not all of them happened. Our flight to Korea actually went really well until the last two hours. Our sweet son has a serious case of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) and although his eyes were bloodshot and he could barely keep his head up, he refused to go to sleep. This resulted in an extremely grumpy child. A child that was so tired he would only exhibit his discomfort by half-awake wailing. Nothing was good enough for him- no treats, no bulldozers, no Blippi. And of course, he passed out half an hour before landing thus leading to what might have been the angriest child through customs.
But you know what? We made it. No one was scarred and I had to really dig through my brain catalog to even remember that Holden had a rough time at the end of our flight. While traveling with a toddler certainly isn’t the easiest way to explore the world, I truly believe that everyone is better for it. Plus, look at all the fun he had in Korea!
What did I miss? Are there tried and true methods that you use for traveling with your toddler? Let me know in the comment section below or reach out to us on Instagram (@captainandclark).
What did I forget?]]>
Our friends Jackie and Paul had to learn that the hard way when they invited us to crash their Scotland honeymoon. It started as a joke while playing nerdy board games one night. “You guys should come with us. It would be awesome. Our condo even has two bedrooms.” And while it might have seemed like an off handed invite to them, I was definitely looking up airfare later that night. What started innocently enough soon turned into an all-out honeymoon crash. With the blessings from the newlyweds, we (Holden too!) planned on meeting them a week after they landed in Scotland.
None of us had been to Scotland before and we were thrilled at the opportunity to explore together. Chris and I booked our airfare using miles (thank you, Alaska Air!) and flew from Seattle to New York (where we stayed with Holden’s godparents for a night) and onward to Aberdeen, Scotland.
Chris, Holden, and I had one night in Aberdeen before we were to meet up with Jackie and Paul. We arrived in the morning and it was our goal to stay awake as long as possible so that we’d adjust to the time change. That’s easier said than done when you have a one year old. Luckily, Holden was a champ and slept better than he had in months.
Heads up: Scotland is pretty expensive in the summer and it can be hard to find affordable accommodation. We ended up booking our night at Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel and LOVED it. It was in an amazing location, had beautiful light-filled rooms, and only set us back about $60USD a night. This isn’t by any means sponsored. We just really enjoyed this hotel.
I really wish we had spent more time in Aberdeen. I enjoyed the laid back vibe of the city. There was festive bunting strung over high street and everyone seemed so friendly- especially towards Holden. Chris and I agreed to have a traditional Scottish dinner for our first meal in the country but we were so famished that we ended up ducking into the first place that looked decent. It turned out to be a vegetarian restaurant (Foodstory Cafe, for you veggies out there) but the atmosphere was inviting and the food smelled incredible. I had the vegan chili while Chris devoured the vegan taco bowl. We left feeling both incredibly satisfied and full.
We strolled around the town until we couldn’t fight the fatigue any longer. I’m pretty sure the three of us fell into bed around 5PM (so much for staying up) but thankfully everyone slept in until around 7 the next morning.
After rendezvousing with the newlyweds the following day, we piled into our rental car (well, rental SUV) and headed straight to our first sightseeing destination. Dunnottar Castle looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. Attacked by the Vikings, taken capture by William Wallace, visited by Mary Queen of Scots, and eventually saved from ruin, the castle’s colorful history is one for the books. The castle grounds are perched upon sweeping Scottish cliffs and appears as if it rose from the surrounding waves.
Castle tickets will set you back £7/ adult and £3/ child although family passes (admission for two children and two adults) are only £17. Guests are allowed to roam for as long as they want until closing.
After climbing the stairs to the castle entrance (and be warned, there are a lot of stairs), we paid our admission and began exploring the grounds. I particularly enjoyed the “free range” experience. Unlike most historical sites, we were able to wander at will. Holden particularly enjoyed running around on the grass and exploring the various rooms and tunnels. It would honestly be an incredible place to hold our next archery tournament. Who’s down for our first international tournament?
While we could have stayed at Dunnottar all day, our grumbling tummies has us yearning for lunch. The next time we visit, we’ll definitely pack a lunch so that we can take in as much of the castle as possible.
While Chris and I were teaching in South Korea, we had the pleasure of making friends with a feisty red-head named Claire who hailed from Scotland. Her go-to noraebang (karaoke) song was “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.” Or maybe it wasn’t. It might have been the copious amounts of soju, but we’d find often find ourselves in an inebriated stupor sining (or butchering) the song at the top of our lungs. If one actually listens to the lyrics, they’ll learn it’s actually a somber and heartbreaking tune, but to us, it will always be associated with Scottish Claire. So when we learned that the condo, Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa, is near Loch Lomond, we knew it was going to be awesome.
The two-bedroom timeshare that Jackie and Paul had for their honeymoon turned out to be a one-bedroom suite. Chris, Holden and I ended up claiming the fold-out couch in the living room so that the newlyweds could have their own little love nest. It ended up working out perfectly since Holden is an early riser. We would get up and start breakfast without disturbing the lovebirds.
Located in the Trossachs, the property itself was gorgeous. Though we were only a short drive from the town of Aberfoyle, we felt truly secluded from the outside world. On the mornings that we weren’t out exploring, we’d walk a kilometer alongside Lake Ard to a tiny breakfast haunt (I can’t remember the name of the place to save my life) for some freshly baked goods and posh porridge. We’d also spend lazy afternoons challenging each other on the giant chessboard. Holden particularly enjoyed frolicking around in his ridiculously adorable kilt.
We also had the privilege of meeting up with two of our good friends who we met in while living in South Korea. Corey and Paul currently live in Liverpool and made the journey to spend a few days with us in Scotland. One of the days we were together, all seven of us piled into our cars and made way for Loch Lomond.
The drive up to Loch Lomond was breathtaking. We stopped along the way to take photos of the scenery and the most adorable shaggy Highland cows. Loch Lomond itself was just as beautiful as we imagined it to be. We even stumbled upon a few waterfalls that made the perfect backdrop for family photos.
In typical Scottish fashion, the weather was overcast and chilly but if it had been a nicer day, I’m sure we would have spent it actually on the lake itself. If we visit Scotland again, we’re hoping to stay at one of the many hotels on the lake.
Due to the location of our condo being an hour drive to both Glasgow and Edinburgh, we had the opportunity to visit both cities twice. Honestly, I found Edinburgh to be the most charming of the two but we ended up spending more time exploring Glasgow.
My favorite part of Edinburgh was the Scottish National Gallery. Not only was it free, but we could have easily spent hours looking at all the stunning art. The Scottish National Gallery features fine Scottish art from the early Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century. I was so proud of Holden who did well walking around the different galleries. While he might not have been as impressed with the art itself, he thoroughly enjoyed chatting and flirting with anyone who would give him the time of day. Other than exploring the Scottish National Gallery, we spent most of our time in Edinburgh walking around and shopping. I think we’ll have to go back to truly get to know the city.
Truth be told, we had more time to spend in Glasgow and thus, were able to see much more. Most of our time was spent on foot, getting lost as we searched for food. Isn’t that how we spend most of our trips?
Without a map or a plan, we wandered the streets, ducking into various shops until we stumbled upon the Glasgow Cathedral. Built in 1136, we were immediately entranced by the stunning gothic architecture and how the cathedral seemed to loom over the city. The cathedral was destroyed by a fire in the 12th century but was soon rebuilt with towers and updates evolving throughout the years. Walking around the interior of the cathedral, you’ll see the striking nave, ornate organ, the stunning Millennium stained glass window, and the tomb of Saint Mungo, an apostle of the Scottish Kingdom of Strathclyde and founder and patron saint of the city of Glasgow.
With all of our exploring, we worked up quite the appetite. Two of our favorite meals in Glasgow came from The Smokin’ Fox (6-8 Waterloo Street) and The Admiral Bar (72A Waterloo Street). The former, a sexy restaurant with a cocktail menu to match the swanky decor. And the latter, a laid back pub with an assortment of mac and cheese dishes. You really can’t go wrong with either.
We have so much more of our trip to share with you. In particular, our day trip though the Highlands, flying falcons, and our ambitious (and successful) hunt for Chris’ families’ ancestral home. Stay tuned as we roll out more from our trip to Scotland.
I think we might be the last of our friends to make it to Costa Rica, which only makes our hunger for the location that much greater. Costa Rica’s main international airport, Juan Santamaria, is centrally located and would be the perfect place to launch our exploration of the area. One thing that has changed with our travel lifestyle since having a kiddo is that we are much more likely to set up a base camp. In the past we would traditionally throw our backpacks on hit as many locations as we could. These days we like to rent a home somewhere and then plan our day trips our from there. As any of you with children know, you now travel with a ton more stuff once you have one. It is so much nicer to have a single location that you can drop all of your equipment and then rent a car or just walk through the city.
The most difficult decision for us is figuring out which location to set up shop for a week or two. There seems to be no end to local operations offering canopy tours, zip-lining, or waterfall rappeling. However locations like Northern Costa Rica, near Arenal Volcano, offer more exciting hikes, hot springs, and stunning views. It’s a tough call. An added perk to the Arenal Volcano area too is the close proximity to Venado caves, which offer a unique spelunking adventure in Costa Rica. Currently our sights are set on that region.
I’d be lying though if I didn’t say that one of the major draws to Costa Rica is the chance to hang out with sloths. Yeah, Tawny is a huge sloth fanatic and there are a lot of reputable outlets that allow you to get up close and personal with these little guys while helping the sloth population. The Aviarios del Caribe sloth sanctuary is one of our Costa Rican bucket list destinations. This facility was established to rehabilitate three-toed sloths. The local population of three-toed sloths has been under a great deal of pressure from outside factors that have led to its decline. The Aviarios del Caribe center tends to injured or rescued sloths with the intent of releasing them back into the wild while also educating the public. For those sloths who are too injured to return to the wild, they become permanent guest of the center and guest can meet these gentle denizens of the Costa Rican rainforest.
Considering my predisposition towards snowy mountains and Tawny’s history as an islander you might think that she would be the beach lover of us. However Tawny’s love of the ocean stops with the sand. For the most part she prefers more mountainous destinations and I am the one pushing us towards the sea. One of the reasons we’ve still never been to a beach in Thailand, despite our many trips. This factors into our decision too. Do we aim for a forest resort rental with a pool and a local hot spring or do we navigate our trip closer to the shore and hope for more snorkel/scuba adventures? Our travel friends are pretty much split down the middle on that one so it will most likely come down to a roll of the dice on that one.
There are a lot of reasons to consider Costa Rica. Not the least of which is the Rio Celeste. Winding through Tenorio Volcano National Park, this river is an electric blue ribbon that maintains its unique color with a combination of volcanic hot springs and rich sulfur deposits in the water. The series of hot pools and waterfalls along the length of the river as it cleaves its way through the emerald fabric of the local rainforest makes this one of the most beautiful locations we’ve seen pictures of in Costa Rica.
For those of you who know us, it’s no secret that we tend to lean towards more Pacific Island destinations when it comes time to book our annual “get the hell away from winter” trip. However, Costa Rica has been looming on the horizon of our minds for sometime now and I think it might finally be time to pull the trigger of this life-changing trip. Stay tuned, we will keep you posted on what we end up doing. If you’re planning your own trip to Costa Rica or just returned, we would love to hear your thoughts on where we should go!
Let us know in the comments below!
Some content in this post was sponsored but all our opinions, as always, are our own.]]>
Our idea for the holiday theme is a good ol’ traditional family road trip. For us, road tripping and the holidays go hand-in-hand. We have always done Thanksgiving at my parents’ house and Christmas with Chris’ family. That typically means loading up our car with treats, gifts, and goodies and then hitting the road. We have to cross Snoqualmie Pass during Christmas time and it’s usually covered in snow. We blare our favorite Christmas songs while the car smells of freshly baked cookies and peppermint hot chocolates.
We want our theme of Shell savings to continue. Our post will feature a few flashbacks to our favorite holiday road trips and also reflect on how our trips have changed since becoming a couple, and eventually welcoming a child. The Fuel Rewards Program allows us to reap benefits on something we’d already be doing: driving for the holidays.
Wait. How did this happen? How is the holiday season already upon us? I swear, it feels like just yesterday we were donning our swimsuits, sipping on mai tais, in the hot summer sun.
Winter has always been hard on me. The Pacific Northwest is a stunning place to live, but western Washington can also feel very cold, dark, and desolate in the winter. We tend to see way too much rain and not enough snow. And to me, rain=bleh and snow=festive. Both Chris and I suffer from seasonal depression if we stay in the cloudy and damp PNW for too long. Most years, we’ve been fortunate to have been able to escape to a tropical locale for a few weeks of the winter. Nothing a few pina coladas and vitamin D can’t fix.
There is a saving grace that’s doesn’t have us hopping on a place bound for sunnier shores: The Holidays.
I love Thanksgiving. Love it. Or at least the old school (read: ignorant) idea of it. Not so much the butchering of First Nations, bringing forth disease, taking over land that’s not ours- part. I enjoy the romance of family coming together from all over the country to spend time with each other and enjoy a delicious meal. And let’s be honest, the meal is really why I’m here. I rarely eat turkey and Thanksgiving food is some of my all-time favorite. In fact, my best friends know I love turkey so much that every year they throw a Friendsgiving party for my birthday. If that’s not love I don’t know what is.
Since we’ve been married, we tend to spend Thanksgiving with my side of the family (mostly because my dad makes the best mashed potatoes and my mom’s turkey is incredible) and Christmas with Chris’. This means multiple trips across the state. We probably log a couple thousand miles over the holidays. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, we kind of love it.
I’m not necessarily a huge fan of driving over the passes in the winter, but I love the road trip that we make to Quincy, Washington for Christmas. There, Chris’ mom’s side of the family convenes for days of baking, eating, laughing, and games. Our car smells of freshly baked cookies and piping cups of coffee. It’s typically packed to the gills with Christmas presents and baby paraphernalia and we blare our favorite Christmas tunes as we make our way over the snowy pass. I’m particularly excited for this Christmas because Holden will be more present and aware than the last. It also means there’s going to be a lot of toddler-proofing that needs to be done.
This year we have even more reason to celebrate our time on the road. Since becoming members of the Fuel Rewards Program we’re saving even more at the pump. And the more we spend, the more we save. It’s reassuring to know that even though we’re at the pump more often, we are saving more than we would if we filled up at any ol’ gas station.
Here’s what our holiday calendar currently looks like.
Drive from Spokane to Bremerton for Thanksgiving with Tawny’s family: 324 miles
Drive from Bremerton to Spokane: 324 miles
Drive from Spokane to Quincy for Christmas with Chris’ family: 138 miles
Drive from Quincy to Bremerton for holiday time with Tawny’s family: 204 miles
Drive from Bremerton to Salem to visit Chris’ dad: 217 miles
Drive from Salem to Spokane: 397 miles
Grand Total: 1,604 miles
I’m both excited and exhausted just reading that.
If you’re planning on hitting the road this holiday season, be sure to reap the benefits of the Fuel Rewards Program. And remember, sharing is caring. For every friend that signs up after your recommendation (with your unique referral link) and uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal (up to 20 gallons). There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn! We plan on stacking our Fuel Rewards to truly make the most of the program. I foresee a lot of savings in our future. That means more money for presents and gingerbread houses!
Remember that if you sign up for the Fuel Rewards Program before the end of the year (how is 2017 almost done?) you’ll automatically earn Instant Gold Status for six months. After that, you just need to average 2 fill ups a month to keep it. Fuel Rewards® program members that have Gold Status can save 5¢ off every gallon (up to 20 gallons/visit).
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell. The opinions and text are all mine.
After a busy travel-packed summer, we are more than happy to be spending the next few weeks at home. Fall is hands down our favorite season and when we’re not out exploring the world, you can find us donning flannel and scarves, overdosing on pumpkin spice, and frolicking in the changing leaves. If that makes us “basic” then so be it! Autumn is best.
But being home doesn’t mean we’re sitting still. Due to our hectic filming schedule, we find ourselves on the road A LOT. Between video shoots, client meetings, and everyday errands, we’re still racking up the road miles. Luckily, our *Fuel Rewards® savings from Shell are also piling up and we find ourselves saving at nearly every visit to the pump.
If you haven’t signed up for the Fuel Rewards® program yet, you can do so by clicking here. Sign up before the end of the year and you’ll automatically earn Instant Gold Status. Fuel Rewards® program members that have Gold Status can save 5¢ off every gallon (up to 20 gallons/visit) for at least six months. That’s just money waiting to be saved!
While we were in Europe this summer, we used our credit card that’s linked to our Fuel Rewards account and watched as our additional cents-per-gallon added up. We couldn’t wait to get home and see how much we would save at our first visit to our local Shell station. Spoiler alert: it was a lot. I particularly enjoyed Chris’ face as I reconciled my European shopping trips with “think of the Fuel Rewards savings!” Towards the end of our trip he even took me out on a fancy date. When I questioned if it was in the budget he slyly replied, “Don’t worry. It’s going towards our Fuel Rewards.” I got myself a keeper.
I was a little worried that our Fuel Rewards savings would taper once we arrived home but luckily, I still find everyday ways to stack our rewards. I even earn extra points when running errands. That’s right. Purchasing our finicky cat’s very expensive food at Petco has a silver lining– extra savings!
So, what exactly are we going to be doing while we have this time at home? It’s not all work and errands, my friend. We just finished our annual Castle Staudinger Archery Tournament. Yes, it’s a real thing. In fact, this was our 11th consecutive year hosting the tournament. And this year’s theme was “Viking.” The tournament is Chris’ favorite time of the year. Our friends and family travel from all over the world to partake in all the revelry.
And when we’re not dressed up as Vikings and shooting arrows, we’re preparing for the start of our busy season for tours. Our company, Pretty Gritty Tours, is renowned for our Booze and Boos ghost tour. And as Halloween is right around the corner, we find ourselves booking tour groups left and right. Thankfully, Chris loves giving tours and doesn’t spook easily (unlike moi).
Aside from hosting tours, we’re also planning on enjoying all of our favorite Fall festivities. We’re talking spiced apple cider, pumpkin patches, hay rides, and finding the perfect Halloween costume for baby Holden. I cannot wait.
Between purchasing promotional material for our tours, splurging on ridiculously adorable Halloween costumes, and basically throwing our money at local pumpkin patches, our Fuel Rewards points continue to add up while at home. There’s also an easy way to earn extra rewards. Simply send your referral link to friends and family so they can also join the Fuel Rewards program. The first time a friend uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station after registering using your link, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal (up to 20 gallons). There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn! Imagine all the pumpkin spice lattes you can buy with the money you save! Everyone wins.
*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.
It was the perfect ending to our time in the Finger Lakes and a true reflection of the warmth that we encountered during our stay. From enjoying homemade wine-aritas at the home of Steven Fulkerson (General Manager at Fulkerson Winery) to arriving at the Gathering Hill Farm vacation rental to a welcome basket stuffed with local delicacies, we truly felt welcomed at every stop.
Having only experienced NYC and Tarrytown in previous visits to New York state, we didn’t really know what to expect in the Finger Lakes. Our ignorance was soon replaced with introductions to quaint towns, authentic Americana, and an abundance of wine. And speaking of wine, the Finger Lakes has a lot of it. In fact, the area is home to three distinct wine trails and more than 100 wineries.
One might think that the over saturation of wineries leads to fierce industry competition but Fulkerson Winery GM, Steven Fulkerson, disagrees. As we sat on his front porch and sipped on his innovative libation (a mixture of his Sparklin’ Diamond white wine, tequila, and cherry juice), he spoke of how he thinks of the surrounding wineries as neighbors, not competitors. They’re more likely to lend each other cups of sugar than to keep a baseball that’s made it over the fence.
That feeling of community translates throughout the entire region.It seemed as if everyone we met was happily intertwined. If locals aren’t getting down to a cover band at a nearby brewery, you might find them catching up at the town’s diner or sourcing ingredients for supper at the farmers’ market. The village of Watkins Glen was undeniably Americana. Not the kitschy Americana that we’re often inundated with on our domestic travels. This was the real deal–where bakeries sell homemade pies and diner patrons refer to their waitress by name. And while there’s a lingering “small town feel” to the Finger Lakes, the wide array of available activities rivals that of the bigger surrounding cities.
Watkins Glen State Park might be walking distance from the center of town but once you’re inside, you could have been anywhere. The lush gorge with overflowing waterfalls (19 in all) had us feeling like we were back at Krka National park in Croatia or trekking through Middle Earth. We made the decision to go super early in the morning and we were so glad we did. Minus a hiker or two, we had the park to ourselves. Holden was particularly enamored with a giant stick that was gifted to him by Carol’s son, Liam. He thought he was the coolest kid as he dragged it behind us on our walk. Our trip to Watkins Glen State Park was hands down one of my favorite experiences on our trip and I can’t wait to go back.
But enough about wine and hikes. Let’s talk about beer. Not to be outdone by “tannins” and “legs”, craft breweries in the area have been hard at work bringing beer enthusiasts some of the best booze in the biz. Arguably the less pretentious libation of choice, the beer we sampled in the Finger Lakes was straight forward and delicious.
Our favorites came from Grist Iron Brewing and Wagner Valley Brewing Company at Wagner Vineyards (that’s right, Wagner does both wine and beer). If you visit the former, be sure to grab a growler (or seven) of the Headless Hessian Pumpkin Ale. Pour it into a cold glass with a cinnamon-lined rim and enjoy. You’re welcome. If you stop into Wagner Valley Brewing, do yourself a favor and order the Hop Tropic IPA. It tastes like Hawaii in a glass.
Our trip to the Finger Lakes wasn’t all fun and booze. There was work to be done as well. The stars aligned with our time in the area and we happened to be there as the finishing touches were made on a big decision regarding TBEX. We partnered with the Finger Lakes Wine Country to produce this video to announce that the Finger Lakes will be the host destination of TBEX North America Conference 2018! We’re thrilled that more travelers will be able to experience the beauty and wonder of the Finger Lakes for themselves.
Finger Lakes Wine Country (Full Version) from Brave World Media on Vimeo.
We’re not done raving about the Finger Lakes. Stay tuned for more in depth information on outdoor adventures, our incredible stay at Gathering Hill Farms, and our visit to the Corning Museum of Glass. And Nancy Spaulding, if you’re reading this, the next time we’re in the Finger Lakes you owe us another dance.]]>
How is it already September? It still feels as if summer just arrived and now we can already feel fall nipping at our heels. I can’t believe the season of BBQing, slip and slides, and road tripping is nearly over. That being said, I feel as if we’ve taken full advantage of the summer months. Let’s do a little recap.
If you haven’t noticed, we have been racking *Fuel Rewards® savings to use at participating Shell stations. You can still earn Instant Gold Status if you sign up for the Fuel Rewards program and immediately start saving 5¢ per gallon (up to 20 gallons per visit). I can’t tell you how much we’ve saved by simply keying in our rewards number at the pump. Our Fuel Rewards savings have allowed us to take our summer travels even farther.
As you can see, our summer was both hectic and glorious. We’ve had our fair share of adventures both at home and abroad. And if there’s one aspect that has been consistent with each month, it was the sheer amount of miles we’ve invested on the road. We’re still enjoying watching our savings stack up with Shell and the Fuel Rewards program. Our only wish was that there were Shell stations for us to use on our European adventures. Imagine the savings!
Start saving and sign up for the Fuel Rewards program here. It’s free and took me about 60 seconds to complete. You can even link a card to earn more savings on your everyday purchases. Plus, once you’re signed up, you can send your referral link to friends and family so that they can join the Fuel Rewards program. The first time a friend uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station, you’ll instantly earn 25¢/gallon. Watch your Fuel Rewards savings add up. There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn. And stay tuned to see how far our Fuel Rewards savings take us this fall.
Thanks for coming along on our summer travels. We’re excited to spend some time at home and truly embrace the autumn season. Our house already smells of cinnamon and joy.