California Adventures

California Adventures

Surfing has been something I have wanted to try for a good majority of my life. Growing up in Chicago did not exactly allow for opportunity to do so. During my junior year of high school I went to Australia, and somehow even then… I still did not get around to going surfing! Oh well, I was sure that I would have plenty of other opportunities. Fast forward three and a half years later I got to go to Australia again this past summer and I still managed to again not surf… crazy, I know right, I am sure some of you right about now are doubting my passion for it. So, this spring break I went with my girlfriend to one of her best friend’s house in Dana Point, California near Laguna Beach. Leading up to this trip my friend, Kayleigh, was telling me that she had surf boards and that she could teach me to surf and I was all over it! Now let me tell you, even though it is California and I am from Chicago making me more than used to the cold, the Pacific Ocean in early March is by no means warm. Luckily Kayleigh had a wetsuit which allowed me to stay out for much longer. I was out for long enough to get the hang of it, but the waves were not all that great and eventually I decided to call it a day. My girlfriend, Kayleigh and her friend Maeve greeted me with towels and my go to Ranch Bucket that I almost never find myself without, especially on a beach day. It was a wonderful day and was wonderful trip full of beach days and beautiful sunsets.

Ry

Hawaii Part 3

Hawaii Part 3

Day 4

I forced Jenny up early AGAIN on Thursday to take a jungle expedition at Kualoa Ranch. This was where a variety of movies were filmed including Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jumanji, Kong: Skull Island, and more. The tour was a wonderful combination of Hawaiian culture and sets from iconic scenes. We saw locations from Jumanji, Skull Island, 50 First Dates, and Jurassic World. We even got to drive through the Indominus Rex exhibit! The only thing that could have made it better was if Chris Pratt showed up on his motorcycle (now that would be a sight). We took the truck up the mountain where we stopped to hike out to a scenic overlook. If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that Jenny and I are not the most prepared. Neither of us were anticipating a hike so our flip flops, slick from the downpour, were forced to carry us up to the top of the hill. We made it up without injury and got to experience the beautiful view of Kualoa Ranch!

When our tour finished, we were planning on going to one of the beaches that our tour guide pointed out to us the day before but it was pouring on that side of the island! So we stopped at the Byodo-in Temple and took a look around! It was well worth it to check out and admire everything there was to see!

We went back to Waikiki and hung out at the beach. After the sun set, we stopped back at the farmer’s market and bought excessive amounts of pastries and fried rice. The next morning, we got breakfast, gifts for everyone back home, and dropped the car back off before boarding our flight and heading home! It was a fantastic vacation and I am already eagerly awaiting the day when I can go back to Hawaii!

Overall

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Hawaii multiple times in my life! I first went to Hawaii in middle school and since then, I’ve been back to Maui and Kauai twice. Obviously Hawaii is beautiful regardless of where you are going but I’ve found that my favorite island that I have been so far has been Kauai. Kauai is everything that you think of when you hear “Hawaii”. The Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon, beautiful north shore (and its fantastic hike), and the sunny Poipu area make it in my opinion the most picturesque island. Kauai isn’t nearly as busy as Maui or Oahu so if you are looking for nightlife or shopping, it is certainly not the place for you. But if you are looking for incredible hikes, beautiful waterfalls, and fantastic beaches, it’s perfect!

Now I might gush about Kauai, but Maui and Oahu both offer incredible sights and attractions as well. Maui is the perfect place if you want to combine shopping with hanging on the beach and snorkeling. On our vacations, there is a 99% chance you can find me in the water (the other 1% chance is that I’m reading on the beach) so I love Maui because of it’s awesome snorkeling. But if Kauai had Maui’s snorkeling, I would never leave. Maui is a little more commercialized than Kauai and is not as lush and “Hawaii-like”. While you can (and should) do the Road to Hana, the island overall does not leave you with the overwhelming feeling that you have been dropped off in the middle of Jurassic Park like you do on Kauai.

Oahu has a little more parallel with Kauai in that the overall island seems more lush, but it is a bit difficult to determine due to the amount of people on the island. While Maui was relatively commercialized, Oahu (Honolulu particularly) seems like you are walking down the streets of California. It is a bit strange when you exit the break of high-rises to see a beautiful beach directly in front of you. While I personally would do Maui and Kauai again before Oahu, I do think it is something to see! Oahu has the shopping and nightlife that is missing from the other island! Hawaii is beautiful and a visit to any island will be a fantastic time!

Aloha,

Peyton

Hawaii Spring Break! The Intro

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Hawaii Part 1

Hawaii Part 1

Day 1:

On day one, poor Jenny was shocked by the vacation mentality of the Mierau family. My family does not know a “lazy vacation”. Our “lazy vacations” consist of us waking up with the sun and going to bed at ten every night. So if you thought that our all-nighter was going to deter me, then you were wrong! I was ambitious, telling myself that I was going to get up at six, and go run to Diamond’s head where I would go on a two-mile hike and then wake Jenny up when I got back. I should have realized the futility of that idea but positive mind, positive life, right? After sleeping through my six am alarm, I was up at seven to force Jenny to go grocery shopping before we hit the beach.

Waikiki Beach was the perfect spot to people watch and Jenny and I spent our entire day doing just that! We got to the beach early to claim our spot and watch the waves of tour buses drop off eager tourists at the beach. If you are looking for a quiet beach to relax on, Waikiki is NOT for you! It’s not rowdy per say, just extremely busy. Our day was spent napping, reading, and chatting on the beach. After a while I began to get hangry, we stopped at Duke’s for some delicious hamburgers (I still don’t know if they were so good because I was starving or if the food was just delicious). After gorging myself on burgers and fries, I immediately found a warm spot on the beach, fell over and passed out for two hours. The tan lines I still sport attest to how deep of a sleeper I am.

When it got closer to sunset we walked further down the beach, got some smoothies and found a pier watch the sunset on. I will admit, I have never been at a loss for words when talking about sunsets and food (and really about anything else, I talk a lot) but sitting on a beach in Hawaii while sipping a smoothie is pretty much me in my happy place and I was for once at a loss for words.

Just when I thought our night could not get any better we found a farmer’s market on the way back and I ate even more food! We got some tapioca in coconut milk topped with an assortment of tropical fruit. Just thinking about it makes me drool a little. It was a great way to start a great trip!

Day 2

On the second day, I didn’t attempt to kid myself with the idea of early morning physical activity. Instead, I woke up and ate breakfast at a restaurant next to the beach. I would say that the views from the “premium locations” on Waikiki Beach are not as spectacular as they make them out to be and I would highly recommend just getting takeout from one of the stalls at the farmer’s market or a nearby mom and pop restaurant and take it to the beach! We learned that even if Cheeseburger in Paradise says they have a breakfast special, the food really is not that special.

I would like to say that I did something adventurous and daring after getting food but that would be a lie. I fell over on the beach again and took a nap. Jenny people watched for the both of us and when I woke up, we made our way down the beach towards the catamaran tour that we had booked. While we were in Hawaii, we bought a Go Oahu card. If you’re interested in seeing more of the tourist destination, I would strongly consider it! You can choose the number of days that you are there and pay a rate for unlimited visitation of forty attractions. We did not end up making it to all of the sites that I would have liked to see, but just one more excuse to come back right? We didn’t make it to Pearl Harbor, something I was really bummed out about because I love history and my great-great-uncle was killed on the USS Arizona. Although we did not get to see some pretty awe-inspiring places, we did get to take a catamaran tour along the shores of Honolulu and past Diamond’s Head. While we were on board, we saw some dolphins and some humpback whales that were breaching. It was a very nice boat ride and allowed us to see Oahu from a new perspective.

A friend of Jenny’s aunt recommended a restaurant, MonkeyPod, that she said was her and her husband’s favorite. When we got there, it was no surprise why. The restaurant was beautiful (and a little expensive so if you’re like us, go at happy hour) and had a live musician that was amazing! We both ordered pizzas before walking across the street to the beach. Hidden away (to deter commoners) is a small pedestrian path that you can take if you are not staying at the Disney resort or the Four Seasons that share the beach. The beach is called Ko Olina and is everything that you can expect a Hawaiian beach to be. Ko Olina is a small cove surrounded by white sand beaches. Lawn chairs adorn the beach and the sand is framed by meticulously groomed grass and shrubs.  Palm trees and hibiscus flowers are interspaced along the edges of the cove. Looking at the view, I thought to myself “what could be better than this?” Turns out if you add Dole whip (pineapple soft serve), it gets even better! So I ate my Dole whip, and then Jenny’s, while listening to some reggae. The sunset was spectacular and the night was perfect! It was yet another perfect ending to another perfect day.

Peyton

Hawaii Spring Break! The Intro

 

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St. Patricks Day in Tampa

Most of the time people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Irish meals like corn beef and cabbage or Shepard’s pie but this year I was lucky enough to do something completely different. In Tampa, the day is celebrated downtown at a park called Curtis Hixon. The park runs alongside a river and on St. Patrick’s Day the river is dyed green to celebrate the holiday. There also many fun activates like Irish sports and foods to try while you are down there.

After being downtown for a little while, we headed back to my boyfriend’s house where they had a little gathering of family and friends. We sat outside to prepare the food we had, but it was not Irish food for the holiday. His family decided to have a seafood this year, and boil crawfish and oysters. I learned how to crack the oysters shell to be able to eat them and they were fantastic. The crawfish we had where flown in from Louisiana that day and we got everything ready to be able to go ahead and start cooking them. We got a huge pot and put it outside on the back deck and then threw potatoes, corn, onion, and sausage in the pot and let them soak up all the sauce and spices.

While waiting for that we gathered around the table in their backyard and ate the oysters. I was lucky enough to have my Ranch Bucket to stop the blazing sun form getting in my eyes. We were lucky enough to have great weather and clear skies unlike all the people up north still dealing with snow on the ground!

Finally, after three hours of cooking the crawfish were ready to eat and we moved inside to the dining room table. We inhaled that 25 pounds of crawfish. The time eating was spent with laughs and cheers to the company of family and friends being reunited once again. Stories were told and families all brought closer together under this holiday with great food and even better company.

Keep traditions alive

~ Explore ~

Devin

Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon

Tucson, Arizona does not host very much to do unless you put in the effort to find the hidden gems. It takes ambition, an empty stomach, and a Groupon account to really appreciate the surrounding area usually.

Tucson really is not as bad as I am making it sound, I promise! I’ve suckered my friends into attending nearly every sporting event because I have a blast cheering on our sports teams. Tucson also hosts some beautiful hikes along the Catalina Foothills and if you’re feeling up to it, the iconic Gates Pass is always there for your sunset photoshoots. All that aside… my all-time favorite place in Tucson is Mount Lemmon.

It takes about an hour and a half to get to the top of Mount Lemmon but boy, you will not regret it! It is like you have been taken out of the desert and dropped into the middle of Colorado.

Whenever anyone mentions Mount Lemmon, I have this affinity to magically appear. If I felt that my car could make it up Mount Lemmon every weekend, you would find me nowhere else. So, when my friends mentioned that they were going to Mount Lemmon you can bet that yours truly was joining them.

We stopped at Subway along the way, when we finally made it up the mountain one of my friends, Ryan, decided to show us a beautiful landing that looked out over the mountains and the desert below that did not even know existed. It is a pretty surreal sight, seeing oak trees suddenly give way to saguaro cacti! We sat there for a bit taking everything in and listening to some oldies. It was a fantastic morning and I could have sat there all day, but we had other plans! Ryan decided to show us his campgrounds which were “right down the hill”. I have always known that women’s spatial skill are superior to men’s (look it up, it’s fact) but wowza, Ryan just reaffirmed my beliefs. His “right down the hill” was about 100 yards down a cliff (okay maybe a slight over exaggeration but nearly a cliff) and through a grove of hedges.

I got slapped in the face by every branch along that mountain, but I was laughing so hard my sides hurt. My other friend Kayleigh was not as entertained at the time although we can all look back now and chuckle about our adventures. Even when we thought we were safe at the campsite, NOPE! Turns out we still had to climb down another hill. Now us ladies were not expecting too much physical activity on our trip so none of us wore very sensible shoes. Mix bad shoes with dead pine needles and a steep hill and things get really bad, really quickly. We made it down however (without serious injury) and headed back down the mountain.

After scaling the mountain, Ryan brought us down to the shooting range located at mile four. The extent of my gun skills is the Call of Duty game I sometimes play (on beginner mode). Turns out I am as bad at shooting a real gun as I am at shooting a virtual one (who knew). Even though I missed the target every time, we had a blast (get it?) and got to shoot some incredible weapons. It was a perfect day! The weather was 75F and I was surrounded by good company, good music, and beautiful views.

Cannot wait for our next trip up to Mount Lemmon, if you have any questions about Mount Lemmon just ask me, the EXPERT!

Peyton

Our Hats BAAABBYY!

Michigan the Upper Peninsula

Michigan the Upper Peninsula

Had the pleasure of going up to Michigan for New Years Eve this year. It was about a six-hour drive from where I have been staying in Chicago. The six hours were surprisingly not dreadful. I slept the majority of the time which definitely made the hours go by a little faster. I have been spending a lot of time in cars and planes recently, and especially in the last year, so honestly six hours seemed like a piece of cake.

We drove past Lake Superior, which was frozen solid with many people out ice fishing on it. Ice shantys were everywhere which was surprising this early in the winter season. There was lots and lots of snow, and if I remember correctly I think it snowed the whole entire time we were there. We stayed in a beautiful little cabin that was very isolated from the rest of the world, at least it felt that way. No internet, cozy, warm inside, but carrying with it that extremely wintery feeling that comes with Cabins.  It was one of those places right off the page of a story book.

I got to go snowmobiling for the first time which I really enjoyed. The only downside was that there were certain trails that had yet to be groomed so they were super bumpy which hurt my neck. Unfortunately, before our trip I had a little accident and injured my neck and back. I fell down a flight of stairs the next day which definitely made the injury worse, so the bumpy parts took a toll on me in that way, but when we were smooth sailing I really had fun. After stopping for lunch at a lodge in Shingleton, Michigan we decided to make our way back to the cabin on the snowmobiles, this is where things took a turn.

The belt on the snowmobile broke! Anyone who knows me knows that the thing I hate most in this world is being cold. So being stranded for an hour in the cold was not my favorite moment, but I napped in the snow (I know counterproductive) while everyone else built a snowman.

We were finally able to get home and relax where we spent the night playing cards and watching movies while ringing in the new year – cabin style!

All in all a very calm but warm and fuzzy new year!

Let’s make this new year a great Ranch Bucket style one!

XX

Gabi

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Small World

Small World

It is crazy how it took me traveling all the way across the world to learn that the world is actually a small place. Yes, I have always understood that the earth is just a speck in the workings of the entire universe. This makes me basically non-existent, but when it comes to our tiny little speck it felt pretty big growing up. There are seven billion people on the planet, and this number is fluid and constantly growing. There are 195 countries on the earth, and all of them possess different cultures. There are five different oceans, and I have only dipped my toes into three of them, but moving to Australia made me realize the world is not actually quite as expansive as my young mind once thought.

I moved half way across the world to live with girls from my home state. Yes, this is true, I moved to Australia only to move in with two east coast girls and two girls from Evergreen, Colorado. Evergreen is an hour and thirty-minute drive away from where I grew up, but a fourteen-hour flight from where we live in Australia. I now have three girls I have met and become close with in Australia that attend the University of Colorado in Boulder. It has lead us to connect over mutual friends and childhood experiences. I will get to keep these forever friends close to my heart and close in vicinity. I got to have little piece of home away from home and I honestly could not be more thankful.

I have a sorority sister that has recently moved to Australia. It was wild to me how this sisterhood had brought me the ability to travel the world and still know there was always going to be someone close by to have my back, no matter where in the world I was residing. That was a feeling that did not parallel anything I have yet to experience.  Along the line of my sorority, even one of my roommates happens to be a sister of mine who attends Boulder. I have now even been blessed with the opportunity to expand my sisterhood through my study abroad journey.

I have met so many individuals from the United States. States all over, states I now cannot wait to visit. I have even made one friend, from Nevada and she knew people that went to my college in Arizona. The world continues to grow smaller and smaller to me.

Coming to Australia I expected a very different educational environment. The most intriguing thing I did not see coming is that one of my professors was American. Not only was he American, but he also formerly taught at my rival school… the scumdevils… sorry Sun Devils back home in Arizona. What are the odds of that out of the four classes I choose to attend during my trimester abroad that would happen.

Along the way we met people from the same state as us, even the same city sometime. That is something I could not have imagined when my plane took off for this adventure. I have had a lot of favorite things about this experience, but my very favorite has to be what I am taking away with me, a whole new set of people who have substantially made a huge difference in my life. Thank you guys, and I love you guys.

Kate, Mollie, Jen, Carroll, Lauza, you have my heart.

Also, big thanks to Veronica for always being down to adventure or for a photo-shoot for my beloved Ranch Bucket! I am so glad to have you joining our team and I am so lucky that the Gold Coast brought me you!

Xx

Gabi

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