Colorado: Gorgeous Mountains , Cliff Divers, & the Necessity of a Regular Getaway

I’m currently living it up in Colorado with my husband. I’ve always wanted go to Colorado, because my mother grew up there and told me how gorgeous it was, and boy she wasn’t lying. My husband’s sister just moved there, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to finally visit.

Garden of the Gods

I personally believe you should go on some sort of mini vacation every quarter, with maybe a big one thrown in the mix somewhere. Most people would probably say this isn’t a feasible belief, but it most certainly can be. A vacation doesn’t have to be this big grand thing. It can just be a nearby city for a weekend, or even just one night. Last year I went on a trip with my mom and my best friend to a Hot Air Balloon Festival a few hours away, and we only stayed one night and shared a room. The festival was free, and we explored the cute little town it was in (also free). Another way to afford going on mini vacations is to be more frugal with how you spend your money. We don’t really spend that much on “stuff” (I’m a pretty big cheapskate), so that allows us to either put our money into savings or go on the occasional mini vacay’.

We’ve spent the majority of our time exploring Colorado Springs, staying with my husband’s sister and her family, and we got plane tickets for a little over a hundred bucks each, so it’s been a pretty affordable trip. PLUS they have been showing us hospitality out the wazoo, and feeding us every night.

One of the first things we did was visit Garden of the Gods, which is a park in Colorado Springs with huge sandstone rock formations. It was incredible, and had plenty of trails to walk through and explore (also really neat at night, but also kind of creepy).
Casa Bonita

The next day we went to visit my husband’s best friend who lives in Denver, and went out to lunch at a restaurant called Casa Bonita. It is ridiculously cool. They have a waterfall and cliff divers INSIDE the restaurant. No kidding.

We visited the historic small town of Manitou Springs. They had all sorts of neat (and unique) little shops all down the streets. One of the cool things about the town is all the mineral springs they have located throughout, which are believed to have healing properties for the body and soul. You can fill up your own cups or water bottles from the springs. I decided to take a swig myself, and… it was absolutely disgusting. It may be because I was expecting it to taste like especially fresh tasting water, or it may just be the fact that it was absolutely disgusting. Who knows? It’s probably just an acquired taste sort of thing…  They also had an awesome arcade area indoors and out, with several photo booths throughout, so of course we had to take advantage of that.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

My absolute favorite thing so far has been the mountains. They are gigantic compared to what I’m accustomed to. We got to ride up the Pikes Peak Cog Railway on Pikes Peak, and it was amazing. The weather didn’t allow us to go to the very top, but we still had a gorgeous view from what they called “inspiration point,” which just so happens to be the point that inspired the song “America the Beautiful.”

We still have one more day to explore, which is either going to be spent visiting the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (the place that inspired Steven King to write “the Shining,” and also where scenes from Dumb & Dumber were shot), or the Great Sand Dunes National Park. I guess we will see…

Some other really awesome things in Colorado that I want to do one day include:

  • the Manitou Cliff Dwellings
  • Skiing in a cute little town like Telluride
  • Driving up Pike’s Peak
  • Going to the Red Rocks Amphitheater
  • Driving down Trail Ridge Road
  • the Mesa Verde National Park

Garden of the Gods

Colorado is great, and most definitely beautiful, but the best part of the trip for me has been spending it with our family, playing board games, and getting to know them better. Can’t beat a trip like that.

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Cumberland Island Travel Guide

Wild horses, live oak trees covered with  Spanish moss, seashell filled beaches, and a long and interesting history. If those things sound super awesome to you (and to who would it not?!), then Cumberland Island, located off the coast of Georgia, is the place for you. I travelled there not too long ago, but I never knew it existed until recently. How could somewhere that cool and awesome not be more well known? It was definitely one of the most unique and interesting vacation experiences I have had.

It’s only a short ferry ride away from the cute small coastal town of St. Mary’s, Georgia, which is a little under two hours south of Savannah. Some of the interesting history about the island includes Spanish explorers (which is where the horses came from), the famous Carnegie family (who lived on the island, and some family members still do!), and the fact that John F. Kennedy, Jr. got married there, among other things. I’ve included some pictures below, and if you’re interested in visiting this unique and awesome island, then I’ve made you up a dandy little travel guide in order to combat the lack of knowledge for under the rock dwellers like me.

Cumberland Island

WHERE TO STAY

  • Greyfield Inn: This is the only hotel on the island. It’s owned and operated by members of the Carnegie family, and is actually a converted Carnegie mansion built in 1900 by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie for their daughter. It’s got quite the hefty price tag though, but it comes with a fancy dinner, picnic lunches, breakfast, guided tours of the island, and a private ferry ride onto the island, still a little more than I’m willing to pay though. (rates start at $425 with a two night minimum stay) (website)

Sea Camp at Cumberland Island

  • Camping: There may only be one hotel on the island, but campsites are also available through the National Park Service, which is what we did. The campsites are gorgeous, surrounded by live oak trees, and a short walk to the ocean. They offer a site closest to the ranger station called Sea Camp that includes cold showers and toilets for the sissies (raises hand), and then a few primitive campsites without plumbing that’s quite the hike. Beware though, the sissy campsite is still a pretty good walk when you factor in all the gear you are carrying, and the fact that you are a sissy.  Reservations are recommended, and can be made by phone.  (Sea Camp $4; Wilderness camping $2) (website)

Riverview Inn - Cumberland Island

  • Riverview Inn: If you would rather not stay on the island, but just want to make a day trip of it, then you can stay at the historic Riverview Inn in St. Mary’s, which is just across the street from where the ferry takes off for the island. We also stayed here the night before we camped on the island, and it’s an awesome old hotel, which was built in 1916. Plus I think it’s a really good deal when you consider the uniqueness and quality of the hotel. (rates start at $79) (website)

WHAT TO DO

  • The Beach: Seeing as how it is an island you can automatically assume there will be a beach, but Cumberland Island offers a little bit more than your average beach. Besides just relaxing or swimming in the ocean, you can go in search of wild horses playing on the beach, the island has tons of seashells, some very large, and you can enjoy stargazing considering light pollution’s not really an issue (yeah!).
  • Lands and Legacies Tour: This is a guided van tour to some of the historic sites on the island offered by the National Park Service. You get to learn about all the history of the island, which is a long and very interesting one. I really enjoyed this tour, and wouldn’t miss it! Beware though, it lasts for five to six hours, and don’t forget to bring your own lunch! The cost is $15 per person, or $12 for seniors and children. You will need to make reservations before you come; reservations are made by phone. (website)

 

Cumberland Island Travel Guide

Plum Orchard Mansion

  • Historic Sites: There are several historic sites on Cumberland Island that you can visit, and most are shown on the van tour. One is called the Dungeness Ruins (not included on the Lands & Legacies Tour), which is the burnt remains of Thomas & Lucy Carnegie’s home. The Dungeness Ruins is a popular hang out of the wild horses (the majority of the ones we saw were here). There is also a super neat mansion you can tour called Plum Orchard mansion, which was built in 1898 by Lucy Carnegie for her son. And one of the last sites I will mention is the First African Baptist Church in the settlement, which was built for the African American workers from another part of the island’s history before the Carnegies came around, and a cool tidbit about the church, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was married there.
  • Bike Rentals: If you want to easily explore the island on your own, then they offer bike rentals for $16 for a day trip at the Sea camp ranger station.
  • Hiking: There is plenty to explore on the island, and if you are in to hiking, then this would be a great place to do it. Also, if you wanted to visit the Dungeness Ruins, then it’s not that far of a hike from Sea Camp.
  • Nearby Cities: If you want to make the trip a little more “road trippy”, then you can visit St. Augustine (1 hour and 20 minutes away), which is the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States FYI, or Savannah (1 hour 40 minutes away).

FOOD

  • Camp Food: There is no place to buy food on the island, so if you are camping you will need to bring your own. Make sure to bring plenty of water. We had hotdogs and sandwiches for our meals, as well as some other snacks. Also, bring something to strap your cooler down with, because the raccoons there know how to open them, and they will!
  • Greyfield Inn: Of course if you are staying at the Greyfield Inn, then all your food is provided for (lucky…). It’s not open to the rest of us lowly camp dwellers.
  • Captain Seagles Seafood Restaurant: This restaurant is located inside the Riverview inn at St. Mary’s, which always excites me when a historic hotel has its own restaurant. It makes me think of somewhere people traveling by wagon in the old days would stay. Everything I tried there was very good (I stole a little bit off everyone’s plate).

OTHER TIPS

  • There is a small entrance fee of $4 per person onto the island, which you will pay for whenever you pay for the ferry ride.
  • The ferry costs $25 a piece unless you’re old ($23) or very young ($15). Reservations are recommended, since they can only fit so many people on a boat. You will want to check in, and pay the park entrance fee and any camping fees thirty minutes prior to the ferry ride, but you will pay for the ferry ride at the time of booking (which is made by phone) in order to reserve it. (website)
  • Definitely don’t forget the BUG SPRAY! I mean the best you got, and some back ups for when you run out, and maybe hang some garlic around your neck just to be safe. They have plenty of biting bugs, and they still bit me every now and then bug spray or not.
  • I would say the best time of year to visit the island would be during the fall or spring when it’s cooler. We went during the heat of the summer, and the humidity just about killed us. It made any walking we had to do seem a thousand times longer, but man I enjoyed that cold shower a lot more than I thought I would.
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10 Ways to Spend Your Anniversary

I want to wish a very happy anniversary (yesterday) to the best husband a girl could possibly have, and in honor of our anniversary I’ve listed ten ideas on how to spend this special occasion.  :)

  1. Go on an awesome road trip across the United States (or at least to another state), and stop at every quirky roadside attraction you come across.
  2. Go camping somewhere with gorgeous views. Sit around a fire, and whisper sweet nothings, while staring dreamily into each other’s eyes.
  3. Order all your favorite foods and play video games or board games all night.
  4. Dress up all fancy, and go on a dinner cruise or on a dinner train.
  5. Borrow a truck and go to a drive-in movie. Fill it with blankets, pillows, and unhealthy concession stand food.
  6. Let out your inner child! Spend the day flying kites, playing at the arcade, and eating ice cream, then end the night by building a fort.
  7. Have a picnic at dinner time, then stargaze, and find all the constellations using an astronomy chart.
  8. Order a pizza, turn up the music, and build something together for your home, such as a dining room table that can be passed down to future generations.
  9. Spend the day playing pranks on all your friends. You can find a plethora of ideas on Pinterest. Hopefully they will forgive you afterwards. It is your anniversary after all.
  10. Find a quirky hotel to spend the weekend at, such as a cavern hotel, a train cart, or a tree house.

Me and my husband had an entire week of festivities planned out. It included video games and pizza, a romantic dinner, sifting through salvage stores for stuff for our future home, a drive in movie, and a planetarium! And that’s just some of the stuff!

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The Planned Path Through Boston

travel, boston, guide

I love Boston. The accents, the attitudes, the history, the atmosphere! It’s big enough to have plenty to offer, but not so big that it’s stressful and overwhelming. You can easily overhear a conversation of someone saying exactly what they think (no sugarcoating here) with an attitude and tone to shock any old southern lady, and the person on the other end just dishes it right on back, and nobody is offended! It’s just the way they communicate. I love it! I went on a fourteen day road trip with my husband to everywhere from Alabama to Maine, and Boston was by far one of my favorite places. So, in honor of my love for this brilliant city I’ve written an easy to follow travel guide to help you along on your journey, and inspire you to plan a trip! (FYI, I am not being paid to recommend any of these places. All opinions stated come from personal experience or extensive research.)

HOTELS

Bed & Breakfast, hotel
Harrington House B&B
  • The Charming Bed & Breakfast: Harrington House B&B- This is a lovely historic home (built in 1885)  located in the small oceanside town of Winthrop right outside of Boston. This is the perfect place to stay if you want a more relaxed small town vibe with a cozy atmosphere. This is where my husband and I stayed when we came to Boston. Everything was decorated nicely, and the breakfast was amazing. We got to eat breakfast with a very friendly and interesting Australian couple. (Rates start at $109; website)
  • The Haunted & Historic: Omni Parker House- Opened in 1855 (but later rebuilt in 1927), it has had such figures as Charles Dickens, John Wilkes Booth, and John F. Kennedy reside in its confines. The third floor is said to be haunted (elevators often go there when no button is pushed), and roamed by the ghost of the hotel’s original owner, Harvey Parker (creeeepy). Despite its supposed haunting, it is a grand and luxurious hotel located right along the Freedom Trail.  It is on the pricier side though, but if you have some money to throw around, go for it. (Check website for rates; website)
  • The Affordable 19th Century Brownstone: Beacon Inn- Located on the popular Beacon Street, this bed and breakfast is within walking distance of Fenway Park, and convenient to public transportation to whisk you away to downtown Boston within minutes. The fact that it is conveniently located, the rates are affordable, and it has beautiful Victorian architecture and rooms,  makes it seem like such a great value! If I go back to Boston I’m definitely checking this place out. (Check website for rates; website)

AMUSEMENT

swan boats, Boston, Public Garden
Swan Boats
  • Swan Boats  These puppies (swans actually) have been in operation since 1877. Hello historical experience! They take you on  a lovely ride through a large pond in Boston’s Public Garden. You will pass by flowing weeping willows, ride under a cute little bridge, and you might see an actual swan or two. ($3.50 admission; http://swanboats.com/)
  • Freedom Trail  Why else would you come to Boston, except to see the history of our great nation and founding fathers. Maybe you just really like Cheers, I don’t know, but this is the thing to do if you came for the history . It’s a 2.5 mile long trail packed full of historical sites. Here’s a handy link to an official Freedom Trail map. All you have to do is follow the red line through the city. We started off at Boston Common where the visitor’s center is located. Here are some of the cool sites you will see along the way (check out the Freedom Trail’s website for more detailed descriptions http://www.thefreedomtrail.org):
    • Boston Common- It’s America’s oldest public park, and almost 50 acres in size. It has been used for everything from public hangings of pirates to a campsite for British troops.
    • Granary Burying Ground- Historical figures such as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere are all buried here.
    • Old South Meeting House- This is where the Boston Tea Party began! ($6 admission)
    • Old State House- Many events important to the American Revolution took place here. They have a velvet red suit on display believed to have been worn by John Hancock, and the Boston Massacre happened right outside! ($10 admission)
    • Paul Revere House ($3.50 admission)
    • Old North Church- where two lanterns were hung to signal the movements of the British due to Paul Revere’s famous midnight run.
  • Walden Pond  For all you literary buffs out there, this is the place where Henry David Thoreau stayed and wrote Walden (owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson!). It is located in Concord, Massachusetts, about 40 minutes from Boston. If you’re not into literature or Henry David Thoreau, well…then it’s just a pretty pond in the middle of the woods. (website)

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  • Harvard University  Established in 1636, it is the oldest college in the United States, and has the largest academic library in the world. A plethora of U.S. presidents are among its alumni, as well as many other notable figures in literature and history. Harvard offers a historical one hour tour that is completely free of charge (score!). If you would prefer something a little more self-guided they also offer a mobile tour for your phone that you can use to guide you through Harvard’s campus. You can visit their website for tour schedules and more information. (website)
  • Boston Public Library  It’s the second largest public library in the United States right behind the Library of Congress. Even if you’re not interested in books it’s a gorgeous building to see. Do a google image search of it, and you will see what I mean. It offers free public tours daily. Here’s a link for more info: Boston Public Library Tours.
  • Fenway Park Home of the Boston Red Sox, this is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (opened in 1912). Whether you’re interested in baseball or not this is the perfect place to have a hotdog, yell for some peanuts, and take part in a classic American experience. Before you attend the game you can take a tour of the park for $18 a pop  (Fenway Park Tours).  (website)

RESTAURANTS

union oyster house

  • Union Oyster House  The oldest restaurant in America, Union Oyster House was opened in 1826, but the building itself was built sometime before 1714. John F. Kennedy frequented the restaurant and even had a favorite booth that you can check out. The interior is seriously cool, and makes you feel like you are in a different era. It is located along the Freedom Trail, so it’s a great place to stop for lunch along the way. (website)
  • Wahlburgers  If you are a fan of the reality TV show Wahlburgers or just a diehard New Kids On The Block fan, then Wahlburgers is only a 40 minute drive away from Boston. The burgers are pretty great too. (website)
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace  This place has been around since 1742 as a marketplace and meeting hall, with such figures as Samuel Adams giving spirited speeches within. It’s filled with plenty of shops and great restaurants for you to choose from. (website)

OTHER TIPS

  • The Boston Go Card is a great value if you are wanting to go to a lot of places that require an  admission price. Basically you pay a set price and can go to 49 different attractions  in Boston using the card. Some of the places include the Fenway Park Tour, all the stops on the Freedom Trail (plus you can get a tour guide), Swan Boats, the aquarium, and a whole lot more. Also if you get the card you can use the hop-on/off trolley to take you around town and see the sites. If you get a 3-day pass you can get free admission to a Boston Red Sox game. Prices are based on how many days you purchase on the card. A 1-day card costs $54 for an adult, and $37 for a child. (website)
  • If you are planning on doing the Freedom Trail make sure you schedule a full day for it, because there is a lot to see and do.
  • If you would like to track down some good hotel deals Groupon is a great place to look. Here is a link to their Boston hotel deals: https://www.groupon.com/travel/boston/hotels

I hope this travel guide has given you at least some help and inspiration. Safe travels mo chairde!

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