Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Top 5 Things to Do in St.Thomas


St.Thomas was the perfect location for our honeymoon. The island was absolutely gorgeous. We had an amazing trip and got to do some truly amazing things. Here is our top 5 favorite things to do in St. Thomas

1. Mangrove Tour 
This was my favorite adventure from our trip. We did a mangrove tour through Virgin Islands Ecotours. Our adventure consisted of kayaking through the mangroves to the perfect snorkeling spot. After some amazing snorkeling we went on a short hike to some tide pools. We booked the earliest time for our Ecotour and it worked out wonderful for us because we only had our guide, another couple, and us. We saw some later tours that had up to 20 people. Booking an early tour will likely be more personal and it will be less hot! We also got out to the snorkeling spot before any of the other tours; therefore, the fish were not scared off yet from all of the snorkelers. This by far was my favorite adventure on our honeymoon.

2. Take a Charter
Another wonderful thing that we did on our honeymoon was take a day charter through Simplicity Charters. We did the 6 hour full day sail which included lunch and unlimited drinks. There were two other couples with us on our sail. Charlie, Josh, and Hinckley (the sailboat's dog) were wonderful tour guides! They gave us tons of information about the island and took us to some amazing snorkeling spots. I was super excited because we finally saw sea turtles! The sail was well worth the money and I would highly recommend using Simplicity Charters.

Hinckley was the sweetest thing!

Grant and Laura relaxing with Hinckley

View from our sail

3. Take a Ferry to St. John 
St. John is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands and just like St. Thomas a passport is not needed. A ferry ride over to the island takes less than 20 minutes and does not cost a lot of money. We got to St. John and hiked down to Honeymoon Beach. The hike and the beach were well worth the ferry ride over.
Along the trail to Honeymoon Beach

Laura and Grant hiking to Honeymoon Beach


St. John

4. Relax on the Beach
St.Thomas has beautiful beaches and it would be a shame to not relax and take in that beauty. Our resort had hammocks that were right on the beach under a palm tree. It was the perfect combination. Our resort also had snorkeling gear that could be rented out for the day, so we took advantage of it. One of our favorite parts of hanging out on the beach was to look for shells. We found a lot of really neat shells, that we brought home and I was able to make a really great keepsake out of them.

View from our room 

Keepsake I made from all the shells we collected

5. Enjoy Good Eats at Red Hook 
Red Hook became our favorite place to hang out, after that days adventures, to grab some good food and tasty drinks. The atmosphere was very laid back and chill. Our favorite place was called Fish Tails Bar and Grill. There crab cakes were to die for and they had great happy hour specials on drinks and appetizers. Needless to say, we went back a few times! A heads up, islanders are serious about their rum and there is such a thing called an "island pour". They make the drinks strong! I had to start asking for a little less in my drinks, otherwise I wasn't going to make it!

View from Fish Tails' patio




St. Thomas was a beautiful place! Have you been? What was your favorite thing to do? Comment below!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Girls Weekend in Oklahoma City


Oklahoma City was the perfect place for a girls weekend! I had so much fun the first time, that I went back!

WHAT TO DO

Put A Cork In It
This small winery is located downtown, right off of the river walk. Come in to sample wine and have a fun start to a girls weekend. Sampling starts at 3 for free, $7 for 7 samplings, or $15 for all 15 (and keep the glass!). The wine is excellent and the service friendly! There is limited seating; therefore, there might be a wait. We did not have to wait the first time and we only waited about 10 minutes the second time I went. They do not take reservations. Put a Cork in it is located at 115 East Calafornia. This was my favorite part of our weekend and if you are in OKC I would highly recommend visiting.


Souvenir glass that comes with the $15 purchase  

Walk Along the River Walk
If the weather is nice take a short stroll along the river walk. There is mostly restaurants along the river so patio sitting on a nice day is also a great option!

Kylie and Laura walking along the river
River Walk

Nightlife
A good girls weekend cannot be complete without some good music and dancing. We found the the majority of "nightclubs" had a cover of about $10. There were also some great bars that did not have a cover. Drink prices were reasonable but not many places had specials. One of our favorites was the Dueling Piano Bar.
Bre and Kylie enjoying an evening out
Thomas Rhett Concert
The second time I went to OKC, we were going because of a Thomas Rhett concert at a casino near Oklahoma City. This was great entertainment for the evening and I would highly recommend a Thomas Rhett concert to anyone! He is a great performer and puts on a wonderful show!
The girls at a Thomas Rhett concert

WHERE TO EAT

Bricktown Brewery
Bricktown Brewery has something for just about everyone! For the beer lovers, they brew there own beer. For the non-beer people they also serve amazing cocktails (a great Long Island). There pizza is absolutely amazing and I would highly suggest it!

Chelino's Mexican Restaurant
We ate at Chelino's the first time I went for lunch. I do not remember much about the food but I do remember that they had a good margarita!

WHERE TO STAY


Marriott Renaissance 
The first time I came down for a girls weekend we stayed at the Marriott Renaissance. It was perfect because it was within walking distance of everything we did. The hotel was very nice and I would highly recommend it.

Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center
The second time I went there were some major activities going on downtown and a lot of the hotels within walking distance of downtown were booked up. We were pretty bummed until with found this place. Although this hotel was no where near as nice, it provided a shuttle to and from anywhere downtown with no extra fee. This was awesome! This would be a great option if a budget is in mind as well! They also provided a continental breakfast. Again, there was nothing wrong with this hotel it was just not as fancy as the Marriott.

My OKC girls weekends were both a success! I can't wait to go back and sample more wine at Put A Cork In It and enjoy the river walk on a patio. Until next time!



Sunday, March 27, 2016

10 Activities for Active People in Wichita, KS



Wichita Kansas is not well known for being a very active city but that does not mean active activities are not out there. Recently, some new ways to be active have popped up around town. As well as the new, there are some hidden secrets that every active person should know about!

1. Rails to Trails
Rails to Trails, formally know at the Redbud Trail, stretches from I-135 canal route to past Augusta, for a total of 11 miles. The majority of the trail is gravel but recently 2.5 miles of the trail have been paved from I-135. The portion of the trail that passes by Wichita State University is paved and even now has cross walks for major streets. I really enjoy running on this trail but it is also great for cycling and walking. For more information and a map click here.

2. Volleyball at Jerseys
Jerseys Grill and Bar offers a sand volleyball league during the warmer months. Featuring three sand volleyball courts and an outdoor bar, this is the perfect setting for some fun. Gather up a group of friends and enjoy some recreational sand volleyball! For more information about the league click here.

3. Keeper of the Plains

Keeper of the Plains is an icon of the city. Enjoy walking, running, or cycling down by the river and be sure to take in the beautiful Keeper of the Plains.

4. Trampoline Park
Wichita now has three options for trampoline parks all around the city: Urban Air (West), Get Air (Downtown), and Wichita Sports Forum (East). Trampoline Parks are fun for all ages and really do provide a good workout, while having fun!

5. Miller's Meadow
Miller's Meadow is a 5 mile, single track, mountain biking trail. It is located on private property on the southwest corner of Pawnee and 143rd. Parking is on the south side of Pawnee off a gravel entrance. The trail is rated beginner but this is for an experienced mountain biker. The trails can also be used for running. When arriving be sure to check out the trail direction for the day. Bikers go one way on the trail and runners the other.

6. Great Plains Nature Center/ K96 Bike Trail
Great Plains Nature Center is located at 6232 E. 29th Street North. The nature center has a variety of trails that are great for walking and running. The nature center does not allow biking on their trails but K96 bike path passes through the nature center. The K96 bike path follows K96 for 8 miles. It is great for running, biking, and walking.

7. Rock Climbing
Looking for something different? Rock climbing might be it! Rock climbing in Wichita is more accessible than ever, especially for beginners. Bliss Bouldering and Climbing recently opened on the east side of town. For more information go click here.

8. Pawnee Prairie Park
Pawnee Prairie Park is one of my favorite places to run in Wichita. The park is huge and there are so many trails. Warning: There are a lot of trails so be mindful. I have had a few running buddies get lost and end up running a lot more than expected. There are paved and dirt trails. The trails are great for running, walking, and even horse back riding. Pawnee Prairie Park is located at 2625 S. Tyler.

9. Sedgwick County Park
Sedgwick County park is located at 6501 W. 21st St. The park has a bike trail, basketball courts, tennis courts, softball fields, volleyball courts, fishing, rollerblade hockey, and playgrounds. It is a great park to get outside and be active!

10. Group Runs or Rides 
There are a lot of group runs or rides around the Wichita area. Joining a group is a great way to meet new people and stay active at the same time!

Running:
Running is always better with people. There are several different running groups in Wichita. They meet at different times throughout the year depending on the weather; therefore, it is always best to check out the websites to see when/where the groups will meet. A few sites to check are: http://www.firstgearrunningcompany.com/training/ and https://www.facebook.com/GoRunWichita/events.

Cycling:
There are a lot of cyclist in Wichita and a great way to get into cycling is to ride with a group. A great website to see when/where a group rides is http://bikewalkwichita.org/ict-cycling-coalition-calendar/. The site will also give a description about the event on the calendar. Another great community site for Wichita cycling is http://www.kansascyclist.com/guides/cities/Wichita.html. This site will provide you with an array of information about cycling in the Wichita area.

Trails at Great Plains Nature Center


Did I miss an awesome active activity? Let me know, comment below! 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Weekend in Austin, Texas


A weekend is not a lot of time to explore a city like Austin, Texas. We were able to see some really great parts of the city and enjoy some amazing views with our short amount of time though. Luckily we have a friend that lives in Austin, so our trip was relatively inexpensive and we had a great tour guide.

What to Eat
Food in Austin, especially Tex-Mex is amazing. These were some of our favorites.

Torchys
Taco lovers listen up! Torchys is a chain taco restaurant located in Austin. The food is great and reasonably priced. Would highly recommend checking it out, it's my husbands favorite.

Shrimp taco from Torchys 

Maria's Taco Xpress
This quirky restaurant also had great food. My breakfast taco was massive and absolutely amazing. Again prices were very reasonable.

 


What to Do
There is so much to do in a city like Austin. With limited time, making sure to pick out a couple of things to do is important. There will not be time to see everything so it's important to narrow it down. Here are some of my favorite things we did!

Hamilton Pool Preserve 
Hamilton Pool Preserve was my favorite activity from our trip. Read all about our adventure hiking here.



Graffiti Park at Castle Hills
Graffiti Park is a rare place that allows anyone to graffiti the foundation of an old building. Due to this, the art there is ever changing and always has something new. It is located at 1100 Baylor St in Austin. If you plan to get out and climb up to get a closer look, tennis shoes would be a good idea. 

Graffiti Park
Sixth Street
We went during SXSW and sixth street was crazy busy. I was not a fan of how busy it was later at night and was also not impressed with how much trash was on the ground. However, I did highly enjoy when we went during the day and were further west on sixth street. We went to Steampunk Saloon and had a really good time. They had arcade games, yard jenga, and connect four. We really enjoyed playing the games and hanging out on the patio. They also had great mimosas! 

The Capitol 
Although we only had time to walk by the capitol I would highly recommend seeing it. It is a beautiful capitol building and I was glad we were able to see it with our limited time. 


The Oasis 
The Oasis is a restaurant on Lake Travis. I did not put this as a place to eat because we only ate chips and salsa here. The wait time to eat was ridiculous. We decided to wait because the view was so gorgeous, but we never ended up getting service. So we left after eating chips and salsa, drinking some margaritas, and watching the sun set over Lake Travis. Watching the sunset was beautiful but I would not suggest eating here. 

Sunset on Lake Travis



Austin was a wonderful city with a lot of active people. I am excited to go back and see what else I can discover! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Biking and Hiking Kanopolis State Park



About
Kanopolis State Park is located in central Kansas. The park offers great fishing, camping, and a variety of  trails. It it the perfect location for a day trip or a weekend camping trip. We went to check out the hiking and biking trails on a day trip.

Biking the Trails
At Kanopolis there are trails for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. The trails are well marked for what each one is intended for. Kanopolis is a great spot for beginner trail biking. This was my first experience biking on a trail and although it wasn't always easy I felt comfortable. My husband is far more experienced at biking and thought the biking trails were easy and too short. Some parts of the trails are extremely sandy because they are mainly intended for horseback riding. These parts are not good for riding. We had to get off our bikes and walk a few times because the sand was so bad.

Hiking the Trails
We enjoyed doing some hiking at Kanopolis as well. The majority of our time was spent on biking but we did get the opportunity to hike. We saw a lot of wild flower, a horny toad, and a small cave. Overall, the hike was very scenic. The trail was overgrown in a few parts, therefore; longer pants would probably be a good idea.


Overlooking Kanopolis State Park

Biking the trails


Make sure to visit Mushroom Rock State Park while you are in the area! It is just a short distance away and is well worth the stop! Read more about Mushroom Rock State Park here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mushroom Rock State Park


Mushroom Rock State Park was the first day trip Grant and I took after our honeymoon. We took this trip Summer 2014 and did not think about the quality of photos (a travel blog was not on my radar at this point). My plan is to go back soon so that I will have better photos to show but I still want to share this awesome state park before we get the chance to go again.

Laura and Grant at Mushroom State Park 

About 
Mushroom Rock State Park is located in central Kansas and is also near Kanopolis State Park. The park itself is not very big and does not offer much hiking.  The main attraction is the rock formations that resemble mushrooms. These formation were created because the underlying rock is a softer sandstone that has eroded quicker than the harder rock above. Mushroom Rock State Park is an extremely neat place to visit and although its not very big, I wouldn't pass it up!

Mushroom Rock

Me "holding" the rock




It always truly amazes me what mother nature has in store for us! This is one of those places that isn't very well known. Mushroom Rock State Park is literally in a cow pasture but it is truly awe inspiring to see.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hamilton Pool near Austin, TX


About Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton pool features a 45 foot waterfall that creates an extraordinary swimming hole. The preserve is located 30 miles west of Austin, TX. The trail down to the waterfall is about .25 miles and does have some elevation change. For experienced hikers the trail is not difficult but for beginners it could be a bit of a challenge. There is also an additional trail that goes the opposite direction that is about .6 miles one way. I would highly recommend hiking the river trail.

Swimming is allowed at the pool if the bacteria levels are safe. To check if the pool is open for swimming call 512-264-2740 before you go.

Hours: 9:30 am- 5:30 pm

Fee: $15
Pets are not allowed
For direction go here.


Hamilton Pool

When to go
To avoid having to wait in line (the parking lot only has 75 spaces) going earlier in the day is beneficial. We went in the early afternoon and were one of the last cars they let wait in line before they started turning cars away. We had to wait in line for about 40 minutes. We also went on a Saturday, during spring break, so there were a lot of people at the preserve.  

What to Bring
Water is highly recommended, especially if you go during the summer. I would also highly recommend wearing tennis shoes. I saw a lot of people in flip flops and sandals that looked like they were struggling with the terrain. A camera is another must for this breathtaking view! If the pool is open, a swim suit would also be a must! We went when the pool was closed but I would love to go back and swim!

Do the Whole Trail

A lot of people only went to the waterfall and they missed out! The trail along the river is just as beautiful as the waterfall and pool. Don't miss out on this part of the preserve!
Along the river trail




The water was so clear! Can you find the fish?


Grant and Laura along the river trail

Hamilton Pool was well worth the 30 mile drive and the 40 minute wait! I was so glad that they let us in since we drove all the way out there. The waterfall and river trail was really neat. My only complaint was how busy the preserve was. We went on a Saturday, during spring break, during SXSW (music festival in Austin). If we go again to swim, I will definitely try to get there earlier and if possible go during the week, not the weekend.


Grant and Laura at Hamilton Pool