Country Thunder

Country Thunder

 

This was my third year attending my favorite weekend of the year… Country Thunder music festival in Florence Arizona! I always have a blast here and highly recommend that anyone who is in the area during the month of April, attend. I believe they also host in Wisconsin for my out of state peeps.

My first suggestion for the perfect Country Thunder experience is CAMP! It makes it the most fun experience. There are so many ways you can do this, RVs, tents, cars, get creative on me and send me your ideas! Bring a cooler but very few items that need to be refrigerated. The cooler is more used for the purpose of shade since it is so dang hot. It is in April, so prepare for those high temperatures. Also accept the fact you will spend the entire weekend eating hotdogs or hamburgers. I think I had a hotdog for every meal for four days.

The festival goes Thursday to Sunday and has a headliner every night. My favorite headliners this year were Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. I love love love Luke! He is just an incredible performer and has an awesome on-stage presence. I also commend Jason since this was his first concert back since the Vegas shooting. I am sure that was not an easy thing for him to do and I want to give him a big shootout and I send lots of good vibes his way, because under the circumstances I really enjoyed him as well.

The venue is so big with multiple stages for daytime artist, vendors for all types of shopping, and FOOD! I had some really good cheese fries but that is all I bought at the venue since festival food is so dang expensive. I love to explore the shops though just for fun and they even have carnival rides inside too.

It is always a hot time (temp wise) but it is always worth it! I highly recommend attending next year, and get your tickets early, because this sure is a hot commodity festival!

Xx

Gabi

 

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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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

Living in A World All About the “Picture”

Living in A World All About the “Picture”

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I am an active participant in technology and the world of social networking, and because of that I have encountered many people in life who tell me to “put the camera down and enjoy something”. For the people who have similar experiences as myself, here is what I suggest you try saying to them next time.

Just because I want to have that perfect Instagram picture does not mean that the moment I am in right now is any less important to me than it is to you.

Just because I am on the beach facetiming a faraway friend does not mean I still do not hear the waves, smell the salt, and have my feet all dug up in the sand.

Just because I am texting my boyfriend while I am sitting in a café halfway across the world does not mean I am attempting to isolate myself.

It is possible to take everything in around you while still having a camera ready to go in your pocket. No one should have to apologize for wanting to snap a photo during a really beautiful moment. We should not have to apologize for picking up the phone to call our mom when something insanely amazing happens. There should not be an apology for blogging about a crazy encounter that just occurred. Just because we want to share the journey that we are all on via social media does not mean that we lack the comprehension of the value in the experience we are having. Who would not want a photo to remember that great moment for just a little longer than your memory can hold. Technology has made this huge world smaller and more attainable for everyone.

I live for the moments when I get to snap a picture in my Ranch Bucket hat on top of the mountain I just climbed in Colorado. Or the beaches I get to photograph in the land down under of Australia. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience and share so many things, so what if I want to take a picture of it. For all of the picture haters, you will be seeing A LOT more of my pictures, from more traveling, to more pictures just lounging at home in my Ranch Bucket and I hope to see some of yours in the New Year to come.

Xx

Gabi

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