Desert Southwest (WildSam Field Guide)

img_3834This little book by WildSam was given to me as a Christmas present, after I expressed interest in relocating to Arizona. Pocket sized and adorable, just like the person who gave it to me, this Desert Southwest Field Guide was just the inspo I needed. That interest turned into a dream, and now a reality, so I’ve finally been able to read through the entire book and dive into the part of the country that I am ready to explore.

The book is a nice recap of information for individual places such as Santa Fe, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and of course – my future city – Tucson. There are details of each city and state history as well as state facts and famous residents. I was excited by the list of annual festivals and events, as well as travel recommendations and so much more.

img_3832I took some time to dive into the page on Tucson that was published under the “Cities and Towns” section. Since this is going to be my new city, I was filled with excitement reading about the blend of culture and the beautiful foothills to explore. I already can’t wait to see monsoon season, and I am definitely going to try the Mexican/Seafood restaurant recommendation, Penca.

There was also a ton of other cool and interesting information, such as some history of media and films in the desert areas, and a list of outlaws and infamous figures. I enjoyed reading about different landmarks, wildlife and more things that I can explore. The book also included 14 interviews with various local personnel, artists, and writers. Towards the end, there are three short essays that are placed in Santa Fe. One is about the transience of the city, another the journey of exploring on a dangerous hike, and the last mourns the life of a good friend.

For anyone who wants to go exploring, included are several detailed guided road trips img_3833which break down the best routes to travel to the cities that were listed in the book. This gave me some inspiration for where to take some future trips, even if I don’t follow the recommendations exactly. The whole guide is truly an adorable and thoughtful present, very helpful, and got me even more excited to move than I already was. 

“People don’t take trips – trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Thanks for reading.

https://wildsam.com/desert-southwest

Vegas, baby!

I’ve been to Las Vegas a few times now, twice this year, and it’s one of my favorite places on earth. I always have way too much fun when Vegas and I’m dying to go back ASAP.

Like I said, I was in Vegas twice this year – once with my boyfriend and the other time with friends for a bachelorette party. It truly doesn’t matter who you go with – it’s easy to have the best time regardless. It will definitely be a different experience depending on who is in your group, and I would be sure that everyone is on the same page with what you want to do and see (there’s so so so much more than just the club scene).

vegas 4When I went with my boyfriend, we stayed at the Excalibur, which is at the very bottom of the Las Vegas Strip. What was great about that location was being able to just walk right out of our hotel onto the strip and not have to worry about an uber to rely on. However, it’s important to note that everything in Vegas looks a lot closer than it actually is because of the size, so you have to prepare for some walking. With my friends for the bach party, we stayed at the D in Downtown Las Vegas, which was incredibly inexpensive. As much as I loved staying on the strip, “Old Vegas” is totally something to see. We walked out of our hotel into a strip of live music everywhere and walk up bars. A lot of the streets are blocked off for walkers only, which makes it really fun to explore. Regardless of where you stay, I at least recommend staying at a hotel with a casino.

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The bride in the bachelorette group was not the party girl that you would envision going to Vegas, so when she told us that she had a surprise event that she found on GroupOn, I was nervous. In true fashion of this girl, she brought us on an adventure that ended with an escape room. Although it wasn’t an activity that I expected to be doing in Vegas, it was super scary and really to see how our group could act as a team. (Look out wedding, the bridal party is ready for ya.)

I’m no expert on the best places to eat in Las Vegas, but there are two places that I would for sure suggest. Breakfast in Paris is for sure the way to go. It’s located towards the top of the strip and has amazing food in several places. We ate at Mon Ami Gabi (mimosas included), and no one was disappointed. If you’re going to do a buffet, Aria has the best one. I probably had 5 courses, including crab legs, PAELLA, and some incredible salmon. I went home and literally craved that buffet line, and even now thinking about it is making my mouth water.

vegas 2When you go to Vegas, especially if it’s the first time, plan an afternoon to do nothing but walk the strip. Since there are no open container rules, you can go in and out of casinos for drinks while walking up or down the strip as your way to see it all. Playing some slots along the way can even help you get free drinks or win money as well. When I was there with the girls, the weather was incredibly incredibly hot, so it was also nice to get the AC as we went in and out of casinos. Just remember that everything is huge, so it will take you several hours to get from one end of the strip to the other. But you’ll have an amazing afternoon and should have a good buzz by the end.

vegas 7I will never ever ever ever go to Vegas without seeing a show. I saw four different shows within my trips to Vegas this year, and the talent is evident. When I went with my boyfriend, we saw the show Absinthe in Caesar’s Palace, which literally took place in a circus tent. This was mainly acrobatic/strength talents, and one of the couples was even on America’s Got Talent! With the girls, I saw Mystère by Cirque Du Soleil. This was my first experience with a Cirque show, and I’ve heard that you really can’t go wrong. If I can make it back to Vegas for more of their shows, I’m dying to see Zumanity or O.

Alright, alright. Now the dirty shows. With my boyfriend, we saw Fantasy, which is the longest running Vegas topless show on the strip. It was truly something to see, not just because of all the beautiful women, but their talent was remarkable. The main chick was giving me Christina Aguilera in the movie Burlesque vibes with her bring-the-house-down kind of voice, and I fell in love with the girl from South Africa who performed on aerially on the silks. If you’re good with seeing some boobies, it’s such a good show. With the girls, however, we saw Thunder From Down Under, which was less talent but a whole lot of fun. The boys have a ton of fun with the crowd, pulling brides-to-be on stage and giving out souvenirs to the crowd. The bride in my group was not willing to participate, which resulted in me getting pulled up on stage instead (no regrets).

vegas 6If you are going with a group of girls, it’s not hard to get VIP service in Vegas. I can’t say that this experience will be the same if there are any men in your group, but my boyfriend and I ended up at the strip club Sapphire and had our own fun as well. However, promoters are everywhere in Vegas and super easy to find on social media as well. My first recommendation is to go during the week when things are less busy and they have more tables that they need to fill. We had vegas 5some promoters numbers ahead of time that could get us into the parties that we wanted, but we found someone while walking down the strip as well. It’s honestly worth it to talk to some of those people and hear them out, since we really got the hook up. We had a table at LIGHT that night with bottle service for free, and a daybed with free bottle service at DAYLIGHT Beach Club the next day for the pool party.

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No matter how you spend your time in Vegas, I highly recommend one thing before you make your way out of the city: In & Out.

Someone, anyone, PLEASE, give me a reason to go back ASAP!

Thanks for reading.

Alaska

It’s on my bucket list to visit every state in the U.S., and last week I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful state of Alaska. I traveled the 4,000 miles with my boyfriend and his family to a discrete cabin a couple of hours outside of Anchorage.

 

 

The common questions I’ve received revolved around the weather of course, because of its cold climate by nature and our travel plans for late June. The whole week was beautiful weather, staying in the 60’s during the day and dropping to 50’s at night. There was really only a couple of days that were chilly, and just one day of some rain. It was light for most of the day, however, and only actually got “dark” when there was a heavy overcast. In the winter Alaska experiences the opposite, and we were told that the heavy dark days are the hardest part about winters in Alaska. But the extended daylight was great, and gave us the opportunity to pack a lot of things into each day.

 

 

The glaciers were by far the most enjoyable part of the trip for me. We were able to hike the Matanuska Glacier, which is over 27 miles long and 4 miles wide. Our path did not cross even a fraction of this mass, and yet it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. We also did a 5 hour day cruise in Whittier, in which we came face to face with several amazing glaciers.

 

 

The mountains and the wildlife was also incredible. We saw bald eagles, sea otters, bears, moose, elk, musk oxen, wolves and more. Between the Musk Ox Farm and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, we observed so many amazing creatures living their lives.

 

 

Downtown Anchorage holds a Saturday Market throughout the summer that includes local vendors and artists, and we were lucky enough to attend during the Summer Solstice Festival as well. In additional to the tents of beautiful crafts and delicious food, there was also outdoor music, street and rooftop bars, and blow up activities for children. I spent a ton of time going in and out of tents and filling up my stomach and bags with everything I could find, and I could have spent even more.

 

 

This trip was also an amazing opportunity for my boyfriend and I to grow. After being together a year, this trip provided many new experiences and memories that helped us strengthen what we have. Exploring a new place and adventuring through nature together is an amazing way to spend time with someone you love, and by the end, we had fallen even more in love with each other.

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Our world is beautiful and amazing and there is so much to see! Traveling is a way to feel alive and experience all the incredible things that the world has to offer. If you ever have the chance to visit Alaska, GO!

Thanks for reading.