Monday, April 15, 2019

Palm Desert & Arizona Trip 2019

In March, Daniel and I were lucky enough to take 10 days off of work to head down to the warmer southwestern states of California and Arizona for a mega-family trip that was worth all the memories in the books. We spent 6 days with my dad and his wife in Palm Desert, California and then spent 4 days in the Phoenix, Arizona area to celebrate his cousin's wedding (and a couple family reunions as well!).

Most of the photos you'll see in this post were of our many hikes and eats along the way... I have been trying to be more present in the moment so I haven't been taking quite as many photos. I think these ones will do our trip justice. It's the memories that count, anyway, right?

On the first day, we flew into San Diego en route down to Palm Desert and our first stop on our way to PD was a quick bite in Old Town. We had just been to San Diego back in October, so when we landed we knew our favorite spot and headed straight for Casa de Reyes in Old Town. Their drinks, the atmosphere, the food--it's all too good to go anywhere else (though Coyote Café comes in close second for me because of their amazing service).

After getting our fill of chips & salsa, margaritas (just one!), and fajitas, we began the three-hour drive to Palm Desert. We always love our road trips.

On our first day in Palm Desert, we hit up one of our favorite trails, Henderson Trail, for a quick hour-long hike before an afternoon round of golf with my dad and his wife. We were excited to dust off the clubs at Desert Falls Country Club. It was our first 18-holes of the season. We have golf league now every Tuesday so that was a good season-opening warm-up.

The next day, we went for a long hike at Indian Canyons in Palm Springs. This photo was taken at the bottom of Palm Canyon trail, heading up to Coffman Trail. It was pretty windy in the desert that day, but Indian Canyons is a great place to go when it's windy in the valley because the canyon shields the wind and weather pretty well. We love Indian Canyons because it's a pretty steep admission to get into the park (if you want to go several times), but military has free admission so we try to take advantage of that. We LOVE all the trails there.

While there was plenty of pool time, eating out, and having fun in between the hikes, most of the photos I chose for this post were our fun hikes since we love them so much and Southern California offers such diverse, interesting trails! The photo above was taken while we were hiking Moon Country Trail at Coachella Valley Preserve. The superbloom was insane!

I was so excited to spot a horny toad sunning himself on a rock. Normally Daniel is the one who catches all the lizards, but this time I got to have a go at the little guy and I was able to catch him pretty easily. We took some photos and let the little guy go. It was hard not to want to take him home as a pet (we resisted, don't worry)! 

Another place we love to go because their chips & salsa are amazing is Casuelas Nuevas in Cathedral City. If you can't tell already, it's kind of our thing to go for really long hikes and then go out for Mexican food. Nothing really hits the spot like cali-Mex food after a day in the sun!

One of our favorite trail systems, Whitewater Preserve, was closed during this trip due to flooding. We were bummed to miss out on the superbloom out there, but we took advantage of the convenience of the Coachella Valley Preserve and hit up a couple different trails during our PD stay. The photo above was from a hike along Pushwalla Palms trail at Coachella Valley Preserve.

One of the new Mexican places we tried after a hike was Mamacita's. Now, I have to say, that place does not look like anything special from the outside and on the inside you almost feel like you've walked into a total hole-in-the-wall. But the food... the food! It was so good and so affordable! Pictured above are their naked shrimp/fish tacos and I'm already craving them and wanting to go back for more.

One of our very favorite hikes this trip was at the Living Desert Trail at the Living Desert in Palm Springs. It was the longest and most beautiful (and challenging!) trail we did this trip. We were a little apprehensive... you might not think there would be a 5+ mile trail within a zoo that could offer you anything of value but I tell you what--this trail was amazing. The views and being able to hike through a canyon, over mountains, and have a panoramic view of the entire Coachella Valley was truly spectacular. We will for sure be adding this one to our list of repeats (all the other trails we did were repeats).

Most of our evenings in Palm Desert ended in games or fire pits, including Gin rummy and homemade margaritas at Dad & Karen's!

After six days in Palm Desert, we made the journey to Phoenix, Arizona. Our original intention was to go for Daniel's cousin's wedding, but we added a lot of extras in to make the most of the trip. We stayed at the Vee Quiva hotel and casino in Phoenix and while it was a little bit out there and separated from the city, it gave us exactly what we needed. We had a cozy room, a pool, access to local trails, and a decent commute to anywhere we wanted to go in the Phoenix area.

The first morning in Phoenix, we hiked up Telegraph Pass & The National Trail around South Mountain. The trails in Phoenix were really different than those in Palm Desert. For the most part they offered more elevation and equally scenic views. That's why we love hikes so much... they're always different everywhere we go.

I don't have many other pics of the other hikes we did in Phoenix, but we also hiked (I ran) Holbert Trail. That one was perfect training for all the Spartan races I had/have coming up.

One of the best stops we made in Phoenix was McMahon's Ice Cream in Chandler, AZ. Oh my goodness, it is A MUST GO for all ice cream lovers in the Phoenix area. The birthday cake & cookie dough flavors were PHENOMENAL! I want to go back and try all the rest!

As I mentioned before, we were in Phoenix for a reason! Daniel's cousin was getting married, so we were elated to spend her special day celebrating her and her new husband. The best part was that day was basically a family reunion with Daniel's Dad's entire side of the family. The day before, we'd had a reunion with his mom's entire side of the family. It was a weekend filled to the brim of meeting family members I've only met on Facebook (or didn't know existed!) and I was so overjoyed to finally put names to faces. I think I have them all down like a pro now, and I'm pretty blessed to say I'm a part of a really fun and amazing family.

As you can see, we had some really good times at the wedding. Daniel's parents are so fun, and the entire weekend and meeting all of Daniel's family members was a huge highlight to the 10-day trip.

On our last day in the desert, we visited the Wildlife World Zoo in Phoenix, AZ. That place was insanely cool because you got to be so up close and personal with the animals. Of all the exhibits, the rhino was so cool--we were RIGHT by him. I also loved the baby animal exhibit and was so tempted to sneak a baby jackal home with me. I mean, I saw the older jackals and pretty much changed my mind right then... but the babies were so darn cute. I've never seen a baby animal exhibit like that (purely for newborn animals) and it was very heart-warming. I was so impressed with the entire zoo's amazing animal interaction and exhibit set-ups!

And the last photo of the post--my souvenirs! I truly love being a tourist. My friend Andi got me hooked on penny press souvenirs last May when we went to the Oregon Coast, and I have collected 15 pennies over the last 11-months. Can't wait to continue adding to my collection.

I wish I wasn't so busy lately--it's been hard to share these vacation photos on time (we were on this trip a month ago today), but it's so fun to look back on the memories that won't fade away anytime soon. Hope you guys enjoyed our CA/AZ trip recap. I have a LOT of things going on in April so this blog is about to liven up in the coming weeks!!

If you're interested in our past Palm Desert trips, you can see them here!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Maui December 2018

Maui, Hawaii, Te Au Moana Luau

Last month, Daniel and I traveled to the tropics to visit the beautiful Maui yet again. We had gone in December 2017 also, and we were so excited to be back for another round of snorkeling and seafood indulgences.

In 2017, we stayed up in Ka'anapali on the northwestern side of the island but we ended up loving the snorkeling on the southwest side of the island best--down by Kihei/Wailea--but it was at least an hour drive down there each time, making for a 2-hour round trip just for some snorkel time. To bypass the commute, we opted to stay in Kihei this time around and chose the Mana Kai Maui as our destination.

Mana Kai Maui, Keawakapu Beach

Now, Mana Kai Maui was a hotel we booked on Expedia (Daniel is our personal travel guide), and it looked just okay from the Expedia photos. To be honest, we booked our trip pretty late and the Mana Kai was one of the only reasonable options left for us. It was either this hotel or a condo (which sounded really appealing), but I was intrigued by the gym that Mana Kai offered so that's the option we went with. It turns out, the Mana Kai is A-MAZ-ING, and we were so happy we went with it. The oceanview of Mana Kai Keawakapu Beach is pictured above.

One of the best parts about the hotel is that we were on the 2nd to top floor, so we had a great view of the northern half of the island. The downside was that if it was windy, our room had a bit of a drafty breeze that swept through it, but overall our room was amazing, the pool was nice and refreshing, and the hotel was on the best snorkeling reef we found this time around in Maui. If you don't stay at the Mana Kai but want a GREAT snorkeling reef to visit, go check out Keawakapu Beach. Our favorite part was snorkeling and checking out the turtles and reef life while listening to the whales singing under the water--what an experience.

Maui, Hawaii, Poolenalena Beach, The Snorkel Store

Another beach that we loved last time and loved even more this time was Poo'lenalena Beach. Just a few minutes south of our hotel, this beach is beautiful and wasn't ever too crowded. We always rent our snorkel gear for the week from The Snorkel Store (they're amazing, go visit Rob there in Kihei!) and then just take it with us on our adventures. There were tons of turtles, and I mean TONS, and we snorkeled on both sides of the beach. One of our favorite things was scavenging for discarded shells under the murky depths this time and we found some pretty sweet little treasures to take home.

Maui, Hawaii, Cones on Kihei ice cream

As you guys know, we are foodies and we LOVE ice cream. Our favorite spot this time was Cones on Kihei and they serve up some delicious Lappert's ice cream. We went there three or four times over the duration of the week and got the same flavors each time--cookie dough (staple for us) and peanut butter cup ice cream.

Another ice cream favorite was the Sweet Shoppe Kihei. When you walk in, they look like they only do gelato, but that's just how it's served. It's real, homemade ice cream and it was fantastic!

Maui, Hawaii, Kamaole Beach Park III

Our days on the island were pretty simple. We'd wake up each morning and hit the really nice hotel gym (seriously the nicest hotel gym I've ever been to) before it was time to go in the water. Then we'd shower off, eat a big of breakfast and watch some NFL football highlights (it was our championship Fantasy Football week, after all!), and then hit the beach. We'd spend a couple hours rotating between sunbathing and snorkeling (at least an hour of snorkeling each day) with absolutely no agenda in mind or any place to be. I don't know if I've ever been so relaxed (or tan, for that matter!).

Mana Kai Maui, Keawakapu Beach
Maui, Hawaii

After we had gotten our daily dosage of sun, we would always hop in the Jeep--top down, of course--and hit up one of our favorite seafood spots. Last year up by Ka'anapali, we loved Down the Hatch in Lahaina. Their Lava Lava Shrimp were absolutely to die for. This year in Kihei, Coconuts Fish Café was our go-to. In fact, I think we went there three different times to eat their fish tacos (I loved the "taco mountain" which was all the fillings of tacos but no shell). We also really liked the fish 'n' chips at Maui Fish 'n Chips in Kihei. Man, their batter was nice and doughy, and the fish was so tender. MMMMmmmmm fish!

Maui, Hawaii, Keawakapu Beach

We'd finish almost all our evenings sitting on Keawakapu Beach outside our hotel, sipping cocktails and watching the sun set. There was a gentlemen there who would get all the way into the ocean as the sun was setting, a 20oz Fosters in his hand, and sip his can of brew until the sun went all the way down. It was too chilly for me to even think about getting in the water at that time of the evening, but like a champion--he was out there each evening just doing his thing. I overheard him tell another couple that he lives at the Mana Kai and does that every SINGLE evening. Just incredible.

Maui, Hawaii, Lahaina Cruise Company, Hawaiian Ocean Project, Snorkeling trip on Maui

Last year, we took a trip out to Lanai with the Hawaiian Ocean Project on a snorkeling day trip. We loved that trip and the dolphins so much that we wanted to go back again this year. Unfortunately for us, that day presented us with the worst weather we had the entire trip. We woke up to raging winds, rain, and chilly temps. But the show must go on, right? So we boarded the boat with promises that they'd at least take us "somewhere cool," and that they did.

Maui, Hawaii, Lahaina Cruise Company, Hawaiian Ocean Project, Snorkeling trip on Maui

We ended up snorkeling down south of Lahaina close to the legendary "Mile Marker 14." After the wind died down and the sun came out, we were able to snorkel for an hour in the deep, clear water. We didn't see anything like we saw on our trip last year, but it was still an amazing experience and the staff with the Hawaiian Ocean Project do such a good job with their trips. They served us lunch and gave us free cocktails and we were happy clams out on the open water. We even saw a couple humpback whales on our trip back to Lahaina. Any trip with those guys is always worth it.

Maui, Hawaii, Lahaina Cruise Company, Hawaiian Ocean Project, Maui Dinner Cruise

We love the Hawaiian Ocean Project so much that we also decided to do a Lahaina dinner cruise with them, too. It was very cool because we boarded the ship, apprehensive about the evening winds that so often sweep the coastline of Maui in the evenings, but we were greeted with the nicest evening of our entire trip.

We were served complimentary Mai Thais upon boarding (thank you very much!), and were treated to an exceptionally nice three-course meal over the course of the evening. We had salad, I had mahi-mahi (Daniel had prime rib), and we satiated our appetites with cheesecake and more cocktails for dessert. We toured the waters around Lahaina, watched the sun set, and then enjoyed live music under the moonlight before returning back to the harbor. To say that the dinner cruise was the absolute BEST experience of our trip would be an understatement. It was romantic, delicious, and something we plan to do again next time!

Maui, Hawaii, Lahaina Cruise Company, Hawaiian Ocean Project, Maui Dinner Cruise
Maui, Hawaii, Lahaina Cruise Company, Hawaiian Ocean Project, Maui Dinner Cruise

Now, Daniel has been to Hawaii a couple times, but he has yet to go to a Luau. We were so excited to get to go to the Te Au Moana Luau in Wailea. We loved it because it was very close to our hotel, so we took a "Turtle Ride" down there so we didn't have to drive and could fully enjoy the night. With free cocktails and the most delicious luau food, we did not go home disappointed. The show was incredible, the dancing was amazing, and I even took home a really cool faux tattoo from one of the craft tables (it's not real, don't worry Dad!).

Maui, Hawaii, Te Au Moana Luau
Maui, Hawaii, Te Au Moana Luau

Of course I had to emulate the infamous Taco Bell commercial and do a "sunset heart hands" pose at the luau. I'm the worst, I know.

Maui, Hawaii, Te Au Moana Luau, sunset heart hands

On our last day, we snorkeled and sat on the beach, our usual, and then finished the evening off with some margaritas and football at Roasted Chiles in Kihei.The food there was really good, and the bar-side service was even better. I had a watermelon margarita first and a "roasted chile" margo second. They were the perfect cap-off to our Hawaiian vacation.

Maui, Hawaii, Roasted Chiles Kihei

There's so much more to our vacation, but some of it is best kept for our memories. If you guys are visiting Maui and have any questions or suggestions, hit me up in the comments below. All I know is I'm soooo looking forward to our next trip--whenever that may be. Until next time Maui, aloha.

Maui, Hawaii, Te Au Moana Luau

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Military Double Bun Hair Tutorial

Military Hair Tutorial, Double Bun Tutorial, Slicked Back Bun Tutorial, Easy Hairstyles, Military Bun

It's been two years since I shared a beauty tutorial, but I've received a lot of questions recently about how to achieve a slicked-back, simple bun with no fly-aways. This is my go-to option during the week, taking less than 3-minutes to fix up and with a secure hold that will stay all day. I love this bun style because it can be used and modified for (almost) all hair lengths (as long as you can get your hair into a bun).

Give it a shot and let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Love ♥ The Rowes and all of our adventures

Past Christmas cards: 2011 │ 201220132014201520162017

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Oregon Coast Friendcation November 2018

And back to Oregon we go! We had gone back in May with our friends Jason and Andi, and we were so excited to make another trip back to Florence. We piled into their car in the middle of November (sorry, didn't get a chance to publish it until now--work and school are are crazy these days). We sang, told stories, made each other laugh with family oddities, and played weird car-travel games on the 10-hour trip to the coast.

Our first stop was in Bend, Oregon. We Yelped the best breakfast spots and found ourselves at the McKay Cottage. Oh my goodness--it was good. I had the cottage potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit and was in complete heaven.

After our short pit-stop in Bend, we traveled on to the coast, heading straight for the beach. On our last trip to Florence, Daniel and I found 718 agates. We were itching to get back out to the beach to see if that was a one-off beginner's luck agate-finding spree or if we were going to be that lucky yet again. To our elation, the agates were again out in full force (along with the sun!) during our weekend voyage. It didn't take long to fill our fanny packs with some sweet finds at Bob Creek outside Yachats, and while we didn't count the agates this trip, we sure found quite a haul.

We poked around Bob Creek and Strawberry Hill that first evening until our stomachs were telling us it was time for dinner! We wound up at Luna Sea Fish House in Yachats, and ordered the only thing you order when you're on the Oregon Coast--fish and chips. Man oh man, they were delicious! From the agate hunting to the fish and chips, our first day on the coast was worth the trip in itself.

Our second day on the coast was an adventure. We began the morning doing homework (oh, the joys of pursuing a Masters degree and having to write research papers), and then drove down to Coos Bay for some fresh oysters. We pondered around a gift shop and headed back to Florence, loving the time we spent down there (gift shop, food, drive), but the weather down south from Florence was in the low 40's, cloudy, and drizzly, while it was back up in the 60's and sunny where we were staying. So after our tour of Coos Bay and surrounding towns, we headed back north for some more adventures.

That evening, we found ourselves at the Stillwagon Distillery in Florence, sampling all of the delicious rums that Devil's Own had to offer. Of all the flavors, I loved the cranberry rum (to mix with soda or gingerale!) and cinnamon rum the most. We sampled quite a few of the flavors (or almost all, to be frank) and headed home to grill up some of those fresh oysters we purchased in Coos Bay.

After getting our fill of seafood, we gallivanted off to the Three Rivers Casino to lose a bit (truly only a bit!) of money. It was only my third time gambling ever--the first had been with Jason & Andrea back in May--so I didn't have high expectations for my gambling skills. After ups and downs and slots and lots of triple butterflies, we headed home and--despite gambling losses--rejoiced in a successful day.

I began the third morning with a quiet before-the-sunrise run along Siuslaw river. The way the dunes creep along the coastline is really majestic (how else do you describe it?) and since I couldn't sleep in any longer, a peaceful run around Florence was just the ticket to start my day off right.

After my run and a visit to the local coffee shop, we took the short drive to Stonefield beach. While we didn't have much luck with agates, the beach was beautiful, serene, and totally empty. We simply couldn't believe our luck with the weather that weekend, it was nicer than it was when we were there in May--in late fall!

As you can see, our agate hunting on the third day proved to be successful. We visited Bob Creek again and realized that Mondays on the beach are the best because everyone else was at work and we had the agates all to ourselves. In fact, Daniel and I found a huge rock that was pretty magical indeed, because every time the waves hit it, new agates seemed to wash up alongside it. We stood there for at least 20 minutes and gathered one to two agates with each new wave. Daniel's were all really amazing; mine were just OK. But it was still a pretty surreal thing to just watch these little (or big, in Daniel's case) agates wash up at our feet time and time again.

After everyone hauled in a giant load of agates (Daniel, Andrea, and Jason found some REALLY big ones!--mine in the photo above do not do theirs justice!), we shopped around Yachats for a while before grabbing drinks, eating delicious Mexican food, and watching Monday Night Football (go Chiefs!!!) at Traveler's Cove in Florence. And how better to spend the rest of our evening than at the casino (again!)--except this time we went home with money, unlike previous adventures. Now, we didn't really WIN anything, we just didn't LOSE anything either. In fact, I played slots for about two hours and walked away with what I came in with... I'd consider that a win after all!

None of us were particularly excited to head home to Boise the next day, but alas--work was calling and our turtle needed to be fed, so off we went. It always seems like our trips to the coast are not long enough, and they keep getting better each time we go back. We didn't count our agates this trip, but this time it wasn't so much about that. It was a great trip with our friends, and we made some fun memories along the way.

I know I've been posting a lot of travels lately, but that's been our life these days. Why not, right? I'm just so grateful for my job, for weekends off, for good friends, and for people who I get to spend my life with (Daniel, friends and family), who like to adventure as much as I do! Stay tuned for more adventures to come.