THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT: HOW IT'S UNDER ATTACK AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT IT

THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT: HOW IT'S UNDER ATTACK AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT IT

The Trump Administration is looking to deregulate the Endangered Species Act, which has been around for over forty years saving thousands of species from extinction.

MONUMENT VALLEY: THE MOST EPIC CAMPSITE VIEW

MONUMENT VALLEY

Another destination for your bucketlist

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Monument Valley is something out of this world. It’s a breathtaking 92,000-acre landscape where you see nothing but vast desert carrying on for miles and miles and then, out of nowhere, massive sandstone rock formations explode out of the valley floor. It’s no wonder dozens of movies have been filmed here and more than 250,000 sightseers visit per year. There’s magic felt on these lands, and it’s one of those places you must see for yourself to really feel it.

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WHERE TO STAY

AKA WHERE TO FIND THE MOST EPIC CAMPSITE

Are you ready for it? The most epic campsite is…. IN THE PARKING LOT! The Visitors Center offers overnight parking in their lot for fairly cheap! The cars can pull up and get front-row scenic views, like you see above. Tent camping is also available with the same scenic views and is located just below where I’m sitting in the van. Behind me, the parking lot continues and there are RV spots (no hook up). Simple as that!





WHAT TO DO

  • Guided Jeep Tours! If you want to explore more of the land, you must do a Jeep tour! It takes about 3-4 hours and takes you to spots that you otherwise could not get to.

  • Photo op! Upon arriving to the park, you will get a sweeping panoramic view of Monument Valley. Don’t worry about missing it, there will be 25 cars pulled over, too. ;)

  • Hike! The only hiking trail in the park that’s hikable without a Navajo guide is the Wildcat Trail, which loops around West Mitten Butte. The trailhead is at the edge of the visitor center parking lot. Allow 2.5 hours and carry plenty of water!

  • Go horseback riding! I loved seeing all of the free-roaming horses in the area - really felt like the wild west.





THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING

  • Contrary to popular belief, Monument Valley is not on public land and, despite its name, it is not a National Monument. Unlike many nearby National Parks in Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is a tribal park owned and operated by the Navajo nation. As soon as you step inside the park boundaries, you are on Navajo land. It is vital to not go off trail as these are the homes and property of the Navajo people.

  • Monument Valley’s navajo name is Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, which roughly translates to the ‘Valley of Rocks’.

  • Be prepared for “res dogs.” Unfortunately, within the reservation community, there tends to be a large population of unhealthy stray dogs. It’s extremely heartbreaking, but if you’re up for it, take one home with you and help it find a home! That’s what we did when a stray wandered up to our van to get some shade! He traveled across the country with us and we found him his furever home. ;)

  • Entry is $10/person or $20/vehicle. They do not monitor the entry booths after 4pm, so you will not receive a map upon entering if that is the case.

  • Here, you will witness some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so be sure to stay for one! :)


Here is the dog we rescued from the reservation!

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YOUR SAN DIEGO BUCKETLIST

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Tried and tested, this is your guide to checking off every bucket list item in San Diego! From photo ops to hiking trails to beaches to museums, I’ve got you covered! I lived in San Diego for almost a year and these are my top suggestions for things to do! Don’t worry, I've weeded out the places that don't live up to their hype. Also, I was being budget friendly during the time I lived there, so most of these fun things are free! I’ve specifically categorized this list to make it easy to accomplish, allowing you to make the most of your time in the city!

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San Diego Bucketlist

Hiking/Nature

Hike up to Potato Chip Rock

Explore Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve

Adventure the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Watch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs

Go see the seals at La Jolla! (Beware: they’re stinky!!)

Beaches

Hike down to Blacks Beach (& get naked on the nude beach!)

Moonlight Beach - the most family friendly beach!

Explore the beach La Jolla Cove Beach

Watch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Relax at Torrey Pines State Beach

Go tide-pooling at Cabrillo National Monument

Watch a sunset at Scripps Pier

Attractions/Places

Have a date at Balboa Park

Check out all the hip stores and funky places in North Park

Explore Old Town, California's birth place!

Take the ferry to Coronado Island

Take a trip to the world famous San Diego Zoo

Get wild at the Safari park!

Visit Carlsbad Flower fields (only in the Spring!)

Face your fears and go paragliding at Glider Port!

Have a fun day riding rides at Belmont Park

Photo Ops

San Diego Greeting Wall Mural

Take a photo in front of the pink wall & succulent wall at Pigment

Food

Eat a Veggie Burrito at Eve Encinitas

Visit every Farmers Market! Each town as their own on a different night

Get a yummy latte at Better Buzz Coffee

Shops

The most hipster and instagrammable store to ever exist Pigment

Step into your Moroccan dreams at Caravan West

Walk around all the shops in downtown La Jolla

Walk the strip in Encinitas; my favorite town!


 

 


STEP BY STEP GUIDE: HOW TO DOWNSIZE TO TINY LIVING

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Welcome to Part Two of my “Tiny Living" blog series. Head over to “How I Went From Living in a 1,600 sqft House to a Van” to read more about my journey.


If you want to downsize to tiny living or to simply have less stuff, this is the guide for you! It’s super easy to say “I would love to do that someday,” but going from desire to action is a lot easier said than done. Below are practical tips and tricks on how to go from a house to a home on wheels! I hope this helps! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on here or my Instagram!

Pulled over somewhere in Utah

Pulled over somewhere in Utah


STEP ONE: FIND YOUR WHY

Okay, this may seem a little odd and “self help-y,” but for me, I had to ‘find my why’ for wanting to downsize. Whether you want a simpler life, you have a wanderlust bug, you want the freedom to do whatever the heck you want, or you feel called to minimalism. Whatever it is, answer the question authentically.

I had three ‘Whys’:

  1. I wanted to live life simply and out in nature. I wanted to choose where I woke up in the morning and where my backyard was every day. I wanted to live my life by experiencing it. Don’t get me wrong, many nights were spent in Walmart parking lots or overpriced campgrounds. However, the awe we experienced when we did spend a night out in the middle of nowhere was unparalleled.

  1. I wanted less stuff. I felt claustrophobic and overwhelmed by all the items I had accumulated. I began having panic attacks (little anxious Annie over here) and eventually realized they were directly correlated to when I tried to organize. My thought: less items = less anxiety.

  1. Thirdly, I felt like living minimally aligned with my values. I have always been very eco-conscious and I knew having less stuff meant I was consuming less and doing more for the environment.


Over time, I learned there are things I didn’t really need and there are things I don’t want to live without. This journey, through all the highs and the lows, has really allowed me to get to know myself incredibly well.

STEP TWO: START DECLUTTERING

This sounds simpler than it is. How do you begin? What do you do with all your stuff? What room do you start in? JUST START SOMEWHERE. The amount of time you’ve spent thinking about decluttering, you probably could have had all the kitchen cabinets done. So my advice: pick a spot and start.

What to do:

Step 1: Pick a room or section of the house.
Step 2: Set up your piles. Make piles for recycling, trash, donations, to sell, to give away to a specific person and to keep.

Step 3: Label your piles (and stick with them! It’s super important to stay organized as to not get overwhelmed.)

What you’ll need: sticky notes, a sharpie, tape, bins, and bags


What to do: Write on the sticky note where the items inside your bag or bin are going or who they are for and tape it to the outside. For recycling, use paper bags. For trash, use trash bags. For donations, use trash bags or a large bag you also plan on donating. For items to be sold, use storage bins (be practical about this — is it really worth trying to sell your old pants on OfferUp that you may get $5 for?) My suggestion for items you plan on selling would be to have two bins: one for taking to a resell shop and the second for items you’re posting online/will sell at a garage sale. Donate the items the resell shop doesn’t take and the items no one buys after a month or two. For items you plan to give away, use grocery bags. Finally, for items you plan to keep, toss them in a pile off to the side and put away as soon as you’re done with that area.


Do this until you’ve gone through every part of your home. This will probably take more than one day, so don’t be too hard on yourself and take breaks when you need to! With that being said, make sure you’re in the right mental space to do this, because sometimes throwing our stuff out or donating it is emotionally tough.


Helpful tip: no “maybe” piles & do not go back through it!


STEP THREE: GO CHECK OUT SOME HOMES ON WHEELS!


Now that you’ve wrapped your mind around having less stuff and have actively begun the process, check out some homes on wheels! I can’t tell you how helpful it was to actually step foot in a variety of tiny homes.

We went to several local dealerships so we could physically see the space and picture ourselves living in each potential home. This experience was incredibly eye opening because we originally thought we wanted a 22-foot pull-behind (so much so, we did thousands of dollars of upgrades to our truck!), and after a few visits we decided we wanted something more drivable.

Fun Fact! We had a 36-foot motorhome that we lived out of for more than a year before we downsized to the van. When we decided we wanted the van, we visited dealerships again and met up with people from Craigslist.

Head over to my blog post “Why I decided to sell my RV and downsize to a van!” if you’re curious on hearing more about that. (Coming Soon ;))


STEP FOUR: REPEAT STEP 2

Honestly, you’re probably going to repeat Step 2 two, three, or four times (or a hundred times). We keep stuff we think we want/need only to realize later that isn’t the case. I remember I kept my empty 4x6 picture frames (all 15 of them) for years, and not once did I ever put a photo in them. Why did I keep them? Because I had this cute idea for a gallery wall up my staircase. I never actually did it. So when I came across those frames again, my decision was to donate them and, if I wanted to do my gallery wall, I could find some really cool and unique frames I hand selected or had more meaning instead of Amazon Priming black plastic frames.

Some helpful tips:

  • If I’m not planning on using that item anytime soon, I would get rid of it and when I was actually ready to use it, I would buy it then. It really helped me value my purchases (& save money honestly!).

  • Turn all your hangers around backwards. In 6 months, the ones that aren’t forward facing, donate!

STEP FIVE: STORAGE UNIT OR NAH?

So, this was a really tough decision for us. When we first decided we would do tiny living, we sold 80% of our belongings (we’re still in the process of getting rid of the rest). That was including our first home we bought together and my business I had for 2+ years. Then boom. I found out I was pregnant.

We decided to forgo tiny living, and repurchased an entire house full of stuff only to decide when she was two months old we actually still wanted that RV. I still cringe thinking about that. If you want to read more about my story with this, head over to my blog post “How I Went From Living in a 1,600 sqft House to a Van.”

This isn’t a decision anyone can make for you. You just have to assess what makes the most sense for your situation. Do you plan on working full time and don’t know when you’re going to stop? Is the furniture something you’re okay with letting go of and rebuying when you settle back down? Do you plan on relocating after? Do you only want only travel part time? Do you really want that extra storage unit bill? Will your friends be okay with keeping a few bins for you for “X” amount of time?

If you decide to forgo the storage unit, repeat step 2 with your furniture!

We have done it a few ways, but this last time we let go of everything except for about 4-5 storage bins. We sold all that damn furniture we bought again that I had to have (from West Elm mind you, so that as a pretty penny down the drain, haha). What it taught me is that material items come and go, and they don’t actually mean anything. They are just stuff.

I don’t say this lightly because I learned it through some pretty tough lessons. I had a house fire, I was robbed, my car was stolen, all my camera gear (+ years worth of photo memories) were stolen, I bought a home, sold everything in it, only to repeat that process again. The 4-5 bins we had left are in my mom’s spare bedroom closet, and they have our keepsakes/some items we just aren’t willing to let go of for now.


STEP SIX: FIGURING OUT INCOME


The most common question/concern when it comes to living on the road is “How the heck do I make money?” You may be thinking to yourself that this should be your first step, and as much as that may make the most logical sense, think again! I believe that the Universe has our back, and if we feel like this is what we’re meant to do, God or whatever you believe in, opens opportunities for us as long as we’re doing the footwork.

You may think that is crazy, but I promise doors will open for you! There are many opportunities where you can make money on the road. What skills do you have? How can you be of service? What do you want to be doing? You can do whatever that thing is you’re saying “I could never do that,” so don’t hold yourself back!

Here are the ways we have made an income for our travels over the past several years:

  • Saved up enough money with our regular 9-5’s to not work for a year

  • Found temp jobs in the places we visited

  • Photography gigs + Instagram + this Blog

  • My husband got a job in SoCal and we traveled locally for 7 months

  • Rented our house out

  • We started a few companies:

    • Elevation Marketing Co (Social Media Marketing)

    • Q + C Wilder (Photography business)

    • PRV Remodeling (Commercial & Residential remodeling company my husband owns — while we were in Columbus, he built it to have people under him where they can run the jobs while he does more of the business side of things on the road)

As far as steady income goes, it’s not the same every month which is sometimes stressful. One month I had about $1,000 in collaborations and then the next month I didn’t have any. For me, it was worth it to have a little bit of financial instability and more freedom to live my life.





Provo, Utah

Provo, Utah

So, there you have it! That was my process.

Of course, there are other things you will have to consider depending on your situation. If you own a home, will you be renting it out or selling it? Where will you be living after you’re done? Are you willing to have a lapse in your resume if you are not working during your travels?

I hope this helps you get started! If you’d like some inspiration check out my “Best Inspiration to Live Tiny: Books, Documentaries, and Podcasts!” blog post. (Coming soon!) GOOD LUCK!




5 TIPS TO TAKING BETTER PHOTOS


5 Tips To Take Better Photos!


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If you're anything like me, then you've experience the struggle of wanting to be a great photographer, but you just can’t seem to get the right shot! I totally understand the feeling. Some days I still feel that way! To help you navigate that struggle, I’ve come up with the following 5 tips to taking better photos. I am by no means claiming to know everything there is to know about photography. However, by a lot (and I mean a lot) of practice, I've learned some helpful tips along the way that I'd like to pass on to you! I hope this makes your creative process easier and gets you closer to your goal!


5 Tips to Take Better Photos

1. Practice Practice Practice

I know this is probably not what you want to hear, and would rather hear a magic trick that will suddenly transform your skills to greatness, but that's not how it works. I spent so much time taking horrible photos without a clue what I was doing, but over time they got better. I would take a photo of a flower, look at my screen and it would look just terrible. So I'd play around with my settings, tweak a few things, and try try try again. I would keep trying until the image staring back at my in the screen was decent. Eventually, I was trying things like night photography, blurring motion in a waterfall, all the way to asking my friends if they’d model for me. It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time, but it’s worth it!

2. Ask Questions

No one gets anywhere by themselves, and no one gets to the “top” without a little help from their friends! So, my biggest suggestion when it comes to where to start learning about photography is to ask lots of questions or even find a mentor! When I first began, I sought out a few friends of mine who were well-versed in photography and I simply asked them to teach me what they knew! What I found was that people want to help. When someone has something they’re passionate about, they usually want to share that passion with others! Don’t be scared to ask! If you don’t have anyone close to you who’s into photography, search on Facebook; there are a ton of groups I am in quite a few and go there to ask questions often.

3. Teach Someone Else

They say you have to give it away to keep it, and it seems fitting for photography too! I taught my husband how to use a camera over the past few years, and it helped me understand the ins and outs of my camera better than ever! By explaining things to someone else, it helps me wrap my brain around why I choose certain settings in various scenarios. I’ve also found that people who want to learn often ask a lot of questions, so teaching what I know to others helps me think more in depth than I normally would if it were just me!

4. Take Selfies!

No, seriously! Take selfies with your tripod! Taking self portraits with my tripod taught me so much about my camera settings. When you take self portraits, you don’t have the luxury of being right behind the camera mindlessly changing settings until the picture looks okay. I learned to consciously decide what settings my camera should be in when I’m 20 feet away. If I wanted myself and the landscape in focus, my f stop has to be closer to f/16 rather than f/4. When I first started taking self portraits, I kept having to run back and forth to adjust the settings when each one ended up being out of focus. It’s pretty comical to run back and forth a million times trying to figure everything out! Haha

5. Histogram Study

When you’ve taken your photos for the day, pull them up in Lightroom and study your Histogram! It will have the settings of your camera right below. If you liked how the photo turned out, jot down the settings in a little notebook. Next time you’re in a similar lighting situation, you can look at what your settings were and re-create it. Sooner or later, it’ll be ingrained in your memory. Until then, it’s okay to have a cheat sheet! I still do this today when I edit my photos and notice something may be a bit off or out of focus. YouTube is a great teacher if you want to learn more about what the Histogram does!


BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS

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BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS

The Salt Flats in Utah are a MUST to add to your bucket list. When you’re at the Salt Flats, you’re walking on 147 MILLION tons of table salt! The flats are 12 miles long, 5 miles wide, and at certain parts the salt is 5 feet deep (trust me, I know, our van got stuck!).

In addition to the sheer awe you experience when you realize that you’re standing on 147 million tons of table salt, the flats also have an incredible lush history! This land formed during the Ice Age where it encompassed two-thirds of Utah and was 1,000 feet deep! It was mapped in 1833 by a fur trapper and, back in this time, it was common for employees to name discovered land after employers (whether they’ve met them or not!) in hopes of better wages. So, the salt flats were named after Captain Benjamin L.E. Bonneville.

 

Prior to this, the area had been explored by another fur trapper in 1827 looking for an easier route to California. However, Native Americans were very familiar with the land and explained the harshness of the land to any other travelers who came through. They advised that the salt flats would not be a good route. In 1945, this “short-cut” to the West was known as the Hastings Cutoff. Unfortunately for travelers, it proved to be anything other than a short-cut. In 1846, a large party of families traveling in their wagons got stuck in the muddy salt and sadly perished. Wagon parts were found up until the 1930’s and wheel tracks can still be found today!

 

Fast forward to some modern history, the salt flats are famous for their record-breaking land speed races and spacecraft launches! You can find all of the history of records at the bottom of the page.

OKAY! Does this make you want to check it out now?!

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How to get there

There are two spots you can go to check out the salt flats. The first one is from the rest stop and the other is off exit 4 near the Nevada border. The first night, we slept at the rest stop and explored the area from there. It, for sure, is the best way to explore the salt flats if you’re just passing through. You can pull right up to them, take 20 steps, and be standing on the salt!

 

If you have a bit more time, go to exit 4 where you can drive in them (which is the same area that they held the record-breaking land speed races!) for as long as you want! It’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, so we drove out pretty far to sleep for the night and only saw one other car the whole evening. If you decide to sleep the night, be sure to let someone know where you are and stay close to the “road” (you’ll know what I mean when you drive on them). We got our van stuck and luckily my husband is pretty handy, so he was able to get us out. However, if luck isn’t on your side, there is no cell phone service, so sticking to the road is the best way to ensure you could get help if you need it.

And, as always, remember to leave no trace.


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What to do

Honestly, there isn’t much to do other than look in amazement at the wild landscape. At one point, I got frustrated and my husband suggested I take a walk, but I kind of spun in circles and said “To where?!” Haha! We did drive faster than we normally would because, I mean, you have to right? The best part was the sunset! Since it’s so flat, it’s like you can watch the sun set forever. I personally love places like this with no cell service and no distractions; just enjoying the moment.

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Where to stay

You can sleep right out on the Salt Flats! It’s BLM land, so we slept right where you see these photos. The night before, we slept at the rest stop I mentioned previously. I would highly suggest sleeping in your vehicle if you are anywhere close to the “road,” because there are often people who drive at night time, and it may be hard to see someone camping. If you do camp, go off the “road" where the salt is deeper and cars don’t tend to drive on. You can find out more about BLM land and camping here.

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Monumental Moments at the Salt Flats

Landspeed records

Here are some of the astounding landspeed records established at Bonneville over the decades:

1914: Teddy Tetzlaff, Blitzen Benz, 141.73 mph (unofficial), piston
1935: Sir Malcolm Campbell, Bluebird, 301.126 mph, piston
1940: Ab Jenkins, Mormon Meteor III, 161.180 mph, 24 hr endurance run, piston
1947: John Cobb, Railton Mobil Special, 394.194 mph, piston
1964: Craig Breedlove, Spirit of America, 526.277 mph, jet
1965: Craig Breedlove, Spirit of America, 600.601 mph, jet
1967: Burt Munro, Munro Special, 183.586 mph, 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle
1970: Gary Gabolich, Blue Flame, 622.407 mph, rocket
2001: Don Vesco, Turbinator, 458.440 mph, turbine
2006: Chris Carr, BUB Streamliner, 350.884 mph, motorcycle
2006: Andy Green, JCB Dieselmax, 350.092 mph, diesel





Spacecraft

In 2004, the Stardust Spacecraft released its sample-return capsule for a landing in the Bonneville Salt Flats after its flybys of asteroid 5535 Annefrank in 2002 and comet Wild 2 in 2004.


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OHIO'S BEST KEPT SECRET: CORKSCREW FALLS


What comes to mind when you think of Ohio? Probably not waterfalls I'm assuming. Well, I'm here to share with you Ohio's best kept secret, and guess what...it's a waterfall!! Corkscrew Falls used to be on private property, so no one really knew about it. Now that it belongs to Hocking Hills State Park it is gaining popularity. Please note you must have a permit to explore (takes a month) and you are not actually allowed in the water. We were unaware of this when we went. Had we known, we would of not jumped in. For the sake of keeping this place a hidden gem, I am not geotagging it, but if you really want to see it, feel free to contact me for directions. 

*again, we were unaware we were not supposed to be in the water, so if you go, please be respectful of the parks wishes -- there are no signs that state to keep out of water, but a ranger told us there*


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CATALINA ISLAND: HOW TO GET THERE & WHAT TO DO


Santa Catalina Island, known as Catalina Island, is located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California. You can arrive in just an hour by taking the Catalina Express across the ocean. It's laid back European environment makes you feel like you just jetted over to a Greek Island. Upon arrival, look down at the water right away; you will see Garibaldi fish swimming around - they look like giant goldfish! With only 4,000 locals, everything is a local small business, so although it's a tourist hotspot, you really get a personalized experience.


Our departure was supposed to be from Dana Point, BUT we were unaware we should have been there an hour early and were not able to board. So, we drove up to Long Beach and hopped on the Express there! Oops :) Luckily, we met some new friends, so it made it worth it. Once we arrived to the island, it felt like we were stepping into another country! If this doesn't make you want to travel more, I don't know what will. There are a ton of cute shops, new restaurants to try, activities to try, sightseeing and, of course, the beautiful teal-colored water!

Transportation

You can get to Catalina Island by sea or air! It takes about 1 hour by boat and only 15 minutes by helicopter. If you’re taking the ferry, there are four main points to take off from: San Pedro, Dana Point, Long Beach or Newport Beach. By helicopter, your options are taking off from Long Beach, San Pedro, Burbank Airport, or John Wayne Airport. Once you arrive, your modes of transportation include walking, electric bikes or golf carts! There are actually very few cars on the island. We rented both bikes and golf carts, and I have to say, the electric bikes were my favorite!

Things To Do

Visit the shops

Since everything is local and mostly family-owned businesses, you will get a unique experience in all the shops. There are also beautiful art stores from artists who clearly poured their soul into their work. I spent hours speaking with a woman about her jewelry (+ bought a ring that is now my favorite!). You can just as easily spend half a day just walking around!

Try a new restaurant

We ate out each night for dinner and had Mexican both times! Haha. My favorite was the wet burrito from Maggie Blue Rose. If you don’t know what a wet burrito is, it’s basically smothered in delicious sauce. I could probably of just drank the sauce for dinner and been fine. (Don’t judge me) For lunch, we got Antonio's Pizza along the water, and it was my favorite spot! We got to sit out on the patio that hung over the water, and below were thousands of fish swimming around! It was so fun to just lean over the rail and see them swim un unison.

Rent Electric Bikes

This is for sure a must do! I had so much fun riding around on the electric bike. You have to pedal a bit still, so you might break a little sweat, but it’s totally worth it! You can basically ride right in the road since there are no cars.

Take the scenic route with a golf cart

This is a beautiful touring option that takes about an hour and the golf cart rental place will give you a map and go over everything with you. If you want to go on a tour to see the bison, you can take a bus with a group of people to them.  

Go scuba diving

Scuba diving here is something we plan on going back to do! There are so many schools of fish, clear water, and easy places to enter the water. To get gear, just walk on the boardwalk and you will find the rental store!

Visit the casino

Yet again, another thing we plan on doing once we go back! It costs $12 to enter, but from what I've researched, it is totally worth it. Unfortunately, it was closed when we went to check it out. The casino is not a gambling casino, it is the Italian definition, meaning ‘gathering place.’ There is so much to see and do inside this beautiful building, I’m sad we missed it!

Rent a boat

If you want to go snorkeling and beat the crowds, who may be scaring the fish away, rent a boat to take out into the ocean farther away! It doesn't cost too much, and you can get further out into the water quicker and easier than swimming. You can rent the boat at the same place where you get the snorkeling gear.

Take a tour in a submarine

Go on an underwater adventure in a submarine and experience a whole new world! It's a 45 minute tour where you can see abundant marine life. How fun! We will do this next time, too!

Ride on the glass floored boat

Get a new perspective of the marine life by taking a ride on a boat with a glass floor! You can see the abundance of fish and plants. It's a 40-minute ride and you get your own little section in front of you to see the beautiful marine life below.

Explore the Botanical Garden

Check out the 37-acre botanical garden with an abundance of gorgeous flourishing plant life. You can take a golf cart up here; it's part of the scenic tour!


 


 

DAY TRIP TO HOCKING HILLS

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Hocking Hills State Park is a must-see place if you are visiting Ohio. It's located Southeast of Columbus and it's only about an hour to an hour and a half drive. You'll find yourself amongst beautiful waterfalls, cliffs, natural rock bridges, a lush green forest, giant boulders, gorges, and plentiful wildlife. It's for sure one of the most beautiful spots in Ohio, and a must add to your bucket list!


My husband, daughter and I picked up our friend, Joelle, on our way down. We actually met her online through Instagram! We chatted about our travels, love life, ambitions, dreams, and laughed a whole lot. What an amazing age we live in where we can so easily connect with like-minded individuals from all over the world! How cool.

Alright! Here are the top two spots you must see! This is best for a day trip. If you're going to go, try to make it during a weekday to avoid the crowd! We didn't see too many people and went on a Tuesday.


 

Day Trip in Hocking Hills

Top 2 spots you don’t want to miss!


I chose these two places not only because they are beautiful, but because they can be done in one day. They are only about 30 minutes from each other and the total hiking is easy and short! Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

 

1. Natural Rock Bridge Falls 

This is my top favorite spot in Hocking Hills! My husband actually proposed to me here in December of 2014! So, I may be a little biased. ;) The hike is only 1.75 miles, and it's a very easy hike. The trail to the bridge has tree roots emerging from the ground in a maze-like pattern and the tree canopy covers the entire sky above. Once you get to the natural bridge, you can keep walking down the trail to go under the cave-like cathedral. There are two mini waterfalls and it's very muddy - I ended up taking my shoes off and getting all gross, but it was worth it!

2. Cedar Falls 

Cedar Falls is pretty spectacular. The waterfall isn't huge, but the supporting rock is in a dome shape and it’s massive. It's so open, yet so tucked away in a little wild nook. Don't worry about the hike- it literally takes about two minutes to walk down to it. I was pleasantly surprised with how clean this spot was considering how popular this place is! We only saw one plastic water bottle and that's it. (Don’t worry - we picked it up :))