Category Archives: Travel

All my Exes Live in Texas

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Austin marathon

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Thanks to the sweet gals who offered to take my photo! :)
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Heard someone say “It’s just STUPID big in here. STUPID big.” I guess that sums up how massive it was, but pictures don’t do it justice!

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Delayed flight —> cancelled flight —> delayed flight —> cancelled flight –>rerouted flight. Eight hours in the Austin airport alone. Weee!
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Finally on my way home!

 

Disneyland Surprise

J and I had been planning Christmas surprises for each other for a few months. I had no idea what he had up his sleeves, but he told me to dress warm and comfortably. I kept bugging him, hoping he’d give me some hints on what it would be. He wouldn’t budge, and I was so so so excited when I found out he was taking me to Disneyland.

Even though we live close to Disneyland, prices are insane. I would never let myself buy a ticket for that much, which made it even more special. I may or may not have started crying when he told me. Ahem.

It was a cold, wet, rainy trip, but it was perfect. We stopped at Target before to grab an umbrella and headed to the park around 10. It was crowded, so we decided to get a fast pass for Space Mountain, errr HyperSpace Mountain early.

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We were able to go on more rides than I expected! We started out with the Path of the Jedi Star Wars show, then headed to Autopia, which opened a minute before we got there. Our wait in line was only a few minutes long. Score!
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By this time, I was already so exhausted that I fell asleep outside the Matterhorn. Ha, just kidding. :) But I was proud of my color coordination; of course I had to wear a red vest to match my Minnie ears!!

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We packed snacks, but had to indulge in a clam chowder bread bowl. Seriously, there are few things better than dunking that top circular piece and soaking it in chowder. Yummmm. We went on the Haunted Mansion ride, which was our longest wait time by far. After we went on Pirates, which was a nice relaxing sit after standing in lines for so long.

When I went to Disneyland in 8th grade, my friend Gabby and I tried Safari Skewers. I was hooked. I don’t eat bacon anymore, so I was able to eat just the asparagus and enjoy it, too! Plus, J got the bacon, so he couldn’t complain.

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We went on the Indiana Jones ride, the carousel, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, and more! Sadly the teacups were closed :(
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Could we visit Disneyland without riding on the Casey Junior train? Our puppy wouldn’t have had it! :)
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The wait for Small World was about 45 minutes, and it was 100% worth it. The whole place was decorated for Christmas and it was aboslutely beautiful. It may have been my favorite ride of the whole day, to be honest.


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After we went on HyperSpace Mountain, J took a whole hour to design his own light saber. Haha! Such a neat feature, and watching him create it and be surrounded by a bunch of ten year old kids was quite hilarious. We watched the light parade at night, and finished our adventure with In N Out. Does it get any more “California” than that? Nope.

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Night out on the Bay

J treated me to a little getaway at one of our favorite spots, Dockside Boat & Bed. It’s located in Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach and a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle. After working non-stop, it was great to getaway and relax!

For those not familiar with Dockside, you can rent a stationary yacht for the night. It’s like a floating hotel room, and tons of fun! We’ve stayed four or five times before, but this was our first time on Serenity. It had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, gorgeous countertops, plenty of televisions, and a great patio. I love being in Rainbow Harbor, since it means you get a great unobstructed view of the historic Queen Mary!
We watched movies, barbecued, and sat out late at night watching the boats go by (our favorite tradition). In the morning, we had breakfast on the patio. Even though it was December, the weather was absolutely perfect! Dockside brings a basket of goodies to you for breakfast, so in reality, there’s no need to ever leave your yacht once you check in. Plus the people who work there are incredibly accommodating and nice; they have some of the best customer service EVER. I recommend Dockside to everyone that I meet; just be sure to sign up for their email list to keep up to date with their incredible 50% off vouchers!

 

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Casey Conquers the Dog Beach

For someone who lives less than thirty minutes from the beach, I don’t take advantage of it nearly as much as I should. Things have been hectic this summer, but we were finally able to make it down to Huntington. It’s hard leaving Casey at home by himself, and we try to include him as much as possible, so of course we needed a dog beach! I looked up some options on Yelp and came across the Huntington Dog Beach; reviews said it was clean, safe, and perfect for new pups .

We packed up our beach bags filled with human and puppy treats and headed down. For anyone who lives in the area, the strip of the beach isn’t clearly marked from above as dog friendly, so look for Tower 22. When we got there, I felt like I was in Heaven. No, seriously. I’m pretty sure that’s what Heaven is like: clear waters and TONS of dogs. I swear every dog breed was represented. It was like Noah’s Ark, but with just the best species ever. Sign me up for that boat ride, Captain!

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We weren’t sure how Casey would act, but he did great. He was a bit hesitant of the waves at first, but we tiptoed around for a bit at first. Then we carried him in to get his feet wet (quite literally), before walking further for a swim. He’s been spending more time at the pool lately, so the beach was at least a little familiar for him. We kept him on the leash the whole time, which I highly recommend to all puppy owners. There were many dogs who were let off their leash to run; most were well behaved, but some needed to be restrained. A large lab was infatuated with Casey, and wouldn’t leave him alone. The owner thought it was hilarious that he tried to play fight with Casey. Me? Not so much….


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Casey really did make tons of good frriends, and it was great seeing him acclimate to the new environment so successfully. His furry friends would pop by to say hi, and it made me fall in love with dogs even more. I wish I could have taken them all home!

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He ended up having such a great time, that we took him back two days later. We grabbed a life vest from Petco for $18, because, well, this crazy Mama needs some peace of mind sometimes. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s a little worried about the water, or wants some extra assurance. Safety first!

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I don’t think Snowy and Bijou would enjoy the waves, but hopefully we will be able to take Tux next time to join in the fun!

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South Africa Part One: Late Planes, Airport Sprints, & Lonely Rows

When it comes to traveling, half the battle is actually getting yourself to your final destination. To put it short, my dad and I found this out (yet again) the hard way. It all began on our flight out of LAX to New York….

Under The Sticks  We arrived at LAX with plenty of time to spare before our 10:30a.m. take off time. I was anxious to catch our flight on United Airlines to New York, from where we would then change to the international terminal for our Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi, then Johannesburg, and finally, a small plane to Phalborwa. One misstep and everything would be thrown off.

We gave ourselves an ample amount of time in JFK to change terminals and make our connecting international flight when booking our tickets. However, our plane out of LAX was delayed an hour. Ok, cool, we could still make it. Then it was delayed another hour. Ouch, cutting it close. And then, yes, you guessed it, yet another hour. The fear and panic began to set in. If we missed our flight to Abu Dhabi, we would miss our flight to Johannesburg, which meant we would also miss our flight to Phalborwa. On top of this, if we were a no-show for the sector out of New York, our entire ticket would be cancelled. We sat outside our gate at LAX, wondering if we would make our flight. What would we do if we missed it? How far were the terminals? Would we be running through JFK? I felt like I was on “The Amazing Race”, which, mind you, is a dream of mine, but I just wasn’t prepared for it to come true!

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Map completely NOT drawn to scale…Just a rough idea :)

We finally boarded our flight from LAX to New York. Luckily the flight was a bit shorter than scheduled, but we still had no idea if we were going to make it. We patiently waited throughout the duration of the flight, searching for terminal maps, tram advice, and the best possible route. If our calculations were correct, we had less than an hour to land, disembark, grab our bags, get on the tram, make it to the next terminal, check in for our next flight, go through security, and get on the plane. But, hey, my dad and I are competitive people, so we were determined to make it happen.

We made friends with the wonderful stewardess, who ended up informing the pilot that we were trying to catch an international flight. When we landed, the stewardess went on the intercom and asked all the passengers not traveling internationally to stay seated. To paraphrase her words, “We have passengers who are trying to connect to their international flight. We ask that if you are not in a time delay, to please stay seated so they can leave the plane as soon as possible. I’m sure one day they will return the favor.” It was an incredibly kind thing for the stewardess to do for the approximately 15 people who quickly grabbed their overhead luggage and quite literally started running down the middle aisle to get off the plane. I wish I caught her name, but THANK YOU!

We began running through the terminal; the time crunch was beyond real and it was imperative that we grab our luggage and sprint to the next terminal after getting off the tram. It was quite a rush, so, The Amazing Race producers, please know I’m prepared! ;) We waited for our baggage, but we weren’t able to find it. Our check-in counter for the flight to Abu Dhabi was about to close, so we had to leave without our baggage. Our Go Pro, electronics, clothes, cosmetics, back-up camera…they were all in my check-in bag. I was incredibly upset, but all those things could be bought elsewhere. Another plane ticket to account for a missed flight? Not so much.

We made it to the Etihad Airlines counter with minutes to spare. Luckily the flight wasn’t too full, and we were able to get the middle four seats for the two of us! Score! The flight was scheduled to be twelve hours, so the more leg and arm room, the better. When we finally boarded, we were able to grab a row to ourselves!!! It was like we had our own bed, and you best believe I used that sucker up. Business class on a budget, anyone? I slept like a baby on the flight and besides a flight on Emirates Business Class, this was, by far, the best I have EVER slept on a flight.

In the grand scheme of things, I was okay that I didn’t have my baggage and felt the Universe was evening it out by giving us our own row of four on the flight. We arrived in Abu Dhabi, where we checked in to a hotel for about six hours to catch some sleep on a real bed. What a treat a real mattress makes! It was then time to jet off to South Africa!

 

Packing with a Purpose: Carry-On Essentials

Carry On Essentials

After years and years of traveling, I’ve mastered the art of packing the perfect carry-on cosmetic essentials. It’s not easy packing up everything you need, but it is possible. Here’s what I packed on my trip to South Africa:

-Toothbrush & toothpaste: Let’s start out with the most self-explanatory one, shall we…?
-Revlon eyeliner & mascara: I’m not a huge makeup person, but I can’t go without my Color Stay eyeliner. It lasts a long time and is easy to apply. Flying wears me out, so putting on mascara helps me look a little bit more alert and awake.
Owl Be Sweatin’ headbands: These suckers are non-slip, adjustable, and comfortable. I chose two bold prints to take with me to help spice up my outfits. Plus they keep your hair out of your face while you sleep. You can buy your own online. Don’t forget to use discount code “underthesticks15” to get 15% off!
-Blow Pro Faux Dry Dry Shampoo via SleekHair: This powder is perfect for absorbing oils and giving bounce to your hair. It keeps my curls intact without having to use water and gel shampoo.
-Wet Ones: You never know when you’ll need hand wipes. From airport bathrooms to messy airplane meals, I can’t stress how important it is to pack wet wipes! Be sure to check before using them on your face, as some wipes can only be used on hands.
-Deodorant- Seriously, do you want to be the person who’s sweating and smelling during a twelve hour airplane ride? Didn’t think so.
-Gum: My gum of choice has always been Orbit. I chew gum during takeoffs, landings, and whenever I need to give my mouth a minty flavor.
-Contact solution & extra contacts: I used to lose contacts while sleeping all the time. Bringing extra contacts is so important because you never know when you’ll accidentally cut one, drop it in the dirty sink, or get too much debris in it. Bring contact solution so you can soak your contacts while you rest your eyes. Traveling is hard on your eyes, so be sure to take as much time without contacts as possible.
-Yu-Bu cream via SleekHair: This tiny tube packs quite a punch. I use it on dry spots and rough skin. Just a tiny bit will do!
-Lip Balm: It’s especially important to stay hydrated while traveling. I try and steer away from soda and juice while up in the air (besides ginger ale, because, well, that’s been my thing since I was little) and drink as much water as possible. A key sign in dehydration is chapped lips. Keep drinking your water and protect your lips with a strong lip balm.

Some extra tips…

-Pack as if these are the only cosmetics you have. You never know what will happen to your check-in bag, so all vital medicine, contact solution, sacred night cream, etc should be kept in your carry-on. I lost my bag and all I had was my carry-on essentials. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my contact solution especially!
-Three. Fluid. Ounces. Don’t forget it. I’ve seen too many expensive lotions, hairsprays, and perfumes taken away by TSA. If you need to buy small labeled containers to help you, do it. It’s not worth getting your favorite items confiscated.
-Wrap liquids in a zip-loc bag. No one wants hair gel all over their toothbrush.
-Don’t forget feminine products. Your cycle may be thrown off when you travel, so be prepared for everything. Also, keep in mind that some countries don’t have all feminine products, such as tampons, available, so do your research.
-If your medicine is time-sensitive, have a watch in your carry-on that is set to “home time” to ensure you’re taking them at the proper time each day.
-Don’t over-pack. Sometimes it’s easier to buy your items at your final destination in smaller quantities, so that you can save room in your carry-on bag for other goodies like books and snacks.

 

Any more tips? Be sure to add them below in the comments!