Boca Grande Key

Boca Grande Key

For my spring break this year, I was lucky enough to be able to go to this beautiful island located in the south of Florida called Boca Grande. We spent three days and two nights on a small island that was 7 miles long and only about a mile wide. The fishing there is absolutely amazing all year-round.

Every single year the largest fishing tournament for tarpon is held on this island and it is one of the reasons why Boca Grande is the fishing capital of the world. Besides the amazing fishing the food there is also to die for. For lunch on the first day we took the boat to an island in the middle of the bay where there is a restaurant known for amazing cheeseburgers, called Cabbage Key. The burgers where by far the best I have ever had, I’ll link their menu below!

For dinner one night we went into the town to a restaurant call The Temptation. I got to try soft shell crab for the first time and it was fantastic for an appetizer. For dinner I had a tuna filet seared in spices severed on top of a seaweed salad it was just divine. While being out on the boat fishing and tanning I was lucky enough to have my Ranch Bucket help keep the sun out of my eyes but also keep my head cool and not sweat. My boyfriend’s family kept fighting over the hat and insisted that they had to get one for themselves for the boat. Over all the trip was amazing I cannot wait to go back for more amazing food and amazing fishing to tell you guys about next time!

Vitamin Sea is truly the best medicine 💛

~ Explore ~

Devin

Cabbage Key Dining

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 2

Hawaii Part 2

Day 3

6am we were standing under a green umbrella waiting for a bus to take us to our catamaran. When the driver got there, we boarded the bus only to find out that I had grossly misinterpreted the voucher. Turns out Island Adventure + Snorkeling with Turtles did not mean it would be on a boat, even if the picture on the website showed a child snorkeling with a boat in the background. Instead, the bus took us around the island, stopping at more iconic (tourist) locations and giving us time to get off and look around (buy souvenirs). The tour was nice and allowed us to see places on the island that we would not have seen otherwise, but it was a bit bitter sweet since we did have the car and could have seen what we wanted to on our own time! I would recommend renting a car just because it allows for more freedom in what you can see and do! Tours can be awesome, but you are not on your schedule. Our bus driver was very friendly and gave us places away from the common tourist locations. If you’re ever in Oahu, consider going to Kailua Beach or Waimanalo Beach Park. We were not able to make it but they both looked beautiful and away from the mobs of tourist that you find in Honolulu!

We stopped on the Northshore shrimp stands and ate some delicious shrimp cocktails. It was a bit cold so while Jenny decided to go snorkeling, I read a book on the beach. She left an hour later having swam with the turtles and I left an hour later, having ditched the book to take a nap. (I promise that I do other things besides sleep and eat). We got back on the bus and made it to the place that I was probably more excited to see than I should be. The Dole Plantation! I can say now that if pineapples are not your thing, do not do it. Also, if tourist traps are also not your thing, maybe you should skip it too. I was glad we got the opportunity to go but I would not have chosen to go on my own! But I got an extra-large pineapple juice and walked through a pineapple shaped maze so I was content. From the Dole Plantation, we drove back to Waikiki.

After a day of driving around, we were lazy and tired so we grabbed Rainbow’s (a drive in restaurant) and took it to go. I would like to say we sat on a cliff and watched the sunset, but we did not. Au contraire, we returned to our Airbnb and watched Moana on my laptop. Sometimes you just need a nice cozy bed.

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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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!

Further Into Sedona

Further Into Sedona

Before our break was over and we would dive headfirst into another semester of school, my friends and I decided to escape for a daytrip up to Sedona.

We left as early as we could muster (granted we are college females so that was about 8:30am) and drove up to Sedona. Despite the fact that it was early January, it was in the upper sixties, so we decided to roll the windows down and listen to our music on full volume.

If you have never been to Sedona, you can liken it to the movie “Cars”. Sandstone spans the entire valley, vibrantly red against the cloudless blue sky. The town itself is small, with only about 11,000 inhabitants, but there are millions of tourists that come every year, hoping to enter the “vortex” (Read Gabi’s blog to get a better understanding of what that is) and align some chakras. Honestly, I don’t understand the “vortex” but we were asked to help locate it by some fellow tourist so evidently our camera bag totting bodies seemed to know what we were doing.

A friend of mine was meeting us along the main shopping strip (near the Pink Jeep Tours) for some lunch but since we were ahead of schedule, we stopped to hike Bell Rock. It was an awesome hike but very short from where we parked. You’re able to climb quite high in a short amount of time and once you get high enough, you have a beautiful view of Cathedral Rock and all of Sedona down below. It is definitely a hike you should do in some good shoes since some of the hills require you to use your hands to balance/pull yourself up, but the short exercise is definitely worth the view. Altogether it took us about thirty minutes to get from the parking lot to the upper third of Bell Rock and back. You could get higher than where we stopped on the mountain but I didn’t trust myself to not fall off the side, and I had food waiting for me 😉.

We ate a quick meal at the Canyon Breeze Restaurant which has a beautiful view of some of the red rocks and then we drove over to Devil’s Bridge.

The hike roundtrip is about 4 miles with a large part of it consisting of walking down a dirt road. Once you get to the actual trailhead, the hike gets much prettier and it only takes you about twenty minutes to get to the bridge itself. Although the Bell Rock hike was significantly shorter, I thought it was a little more vigorous than Devil’s Bridge. Keep in mind that our trip to Sedona was right after I came back from ten days in Wisconsin. Aka ten days of building up some insulation for the -30C weather that I had to brave myself against every time I walked outside.

Once you’re at the top, the view looks down on a beautiful valley. It faces east, so there are some problems with shadows depending on what time of the day you go. By the time we were there, it was about 3:30 and part of the valley was already in shadows. It was a bit overcast that day so the pictures didn’t turn out poorly but if you’re wanting to go for the prime photo opportunities, consider going in the morning or midday. There are plenty of millennials milling around at the top who will be more than qualified to take your picture. I got a few pictures looking over the cliff (reckless, yes; stupid, extremely) and sent them to my mother (who has a terrible fear of heights), and I can quite confidently say that she was not nearly as amused as myself. But hey, I’m still alive aren’t I?

Sedona houses some incredible shops showcasing incredible artwork, delicious food, and lots of goodies pertaining to spirituality and one’s connection with the “vortex”. It is an incredible place to visit and I don’t think you can ever fully describe the beauty of Sedona unless you visit it for yourself! If you enjoy hiking, swimming, meditation, or simply a good time Sedona is a place you must visit!

Peyton

 

Sedona

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Petrified Wood National Park

Petrified Wood National Park

Part 3: The Petrified Wood Forest is located smack dab in the middle of the Painted Desert in Northern Arizona. For those of you who do not know what Petrified Wood is I will link everything you need to know about it below!

The forest is located on Navajo and Apache land and the space is covered in fossilized trees. This is cooler than it sounds I promise. Honestly, for the longest time I did not even know trees could fossilize like this. They look a lot like really intricate rocks, I like to think a lot like granite, but it is not even close to actual rock. They are trees that are just millions of years old. The pieces range from pebble size to the sizes of trees like you would find in the mountains of Colorado. They are smooth to the touch and feel nothing like a living tree. All of the wood in the forest is untouched and has not been moved from its original resting place by any park officials.

There is a lot more within the Petrified Wood National Park than just fossilized trees, but also a large number of other fossils from prehistoric creatures that have all been discovered in the area. The history behind the whole area is mind boggling and I highly suggest going into the parks information locations to learn more about it, it is not boring like some of the other information centers I have wandered into.

The pieces within this desert that have remained untouched range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and none of the wood in the national park is ever sold or moved from the location but protected by the park.

To find the forest you head on the same track as the Painted Desert seeing that one route turns into the next. This is not an activity to take up a whole day, but if you are in the area and have some time use your day doing both the Painted Desert and the Petrified Wood Forest, it is well worth learning about and seeing.

This was an awesome road trip, and I just wish I had more time to explore even more places, northern Arizona has not seen the last of me.

Xx

Gabi

What is Petrified Wood?

The Petrified Forest

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