Monday, January 30, 2012

Phoenix, AZ

So, Jason and I got back from Phoenix on Sunday. It was definitely a great trip! We got some GREAT deals on hotel and rental car, so it was super affordable as well.
We got to the Dallas airport and got onto the flight with no problems…we’ve been super lucky so far.  We arrived in Phoenix pretty late with a brief stop in El Paso along the way. One annoying thing about flying out of Dallas is that the Wright amendment restricts nonstop travel to states that don’t border Texas. This only applies to Love Field travel – and therefore all Southwest travel. This will be over in 2014.
We woke up really early the next day because we drove to the GRAND CANYON! It was such a surreal experience. It really looked fake – like I was standing in front of an amazing painting.

Not until we hiked into the canyon, did we really experience how massive it is. It had snowed a few days before we got there which made our trek…interesting. For the first 30 minutes or so, we were sliding downhill, hoping not to fall off the side. Really. It was crazy slippery and Jason fell on his butt twice…haha. People along the path were wearing special gear for the ice and we were obviously unprepared. After a little while, the trail opened up to the sun and we had a nice walk down to “Oooh Ahhh Point”. When you get to the point, the canyon really opens up.
Notice the ice/snow on the trail

At Ooh Ahh Point

We ate our lunch down at this point and admired the views. The way back up was MUCH easier! I would definitely recommend going in the winter as no one was there and we got to park right next to some amazing trails and views. I can only imagine how crowded it would be in the summer. I wish we had more time take the mules to the bottom, but apparently you have to reserve this over a year in advance.   We drove back to Phoenix that night and got ready for our day in Phoenix!

Tebowing at the Grand Canyon

We woke up and went to this AMAZING breakfast place called Matt’s Big Breakfast. I think there were literally 15 tables in this entire restaurant, so we waited for about 30-45 minutes. It was definitely worth it…Jason said it was the best breakfast he’s had in his life! Mine was also amazing.

We left completely happy…only to go to one of the lamest places ever, The Desert Botanical Gardens. I don’t know what we were expecting, but it was insanely boring. If you’re retired and own a fanny pack, you might like it. Otherwise, steer clear. We lasted maybe an hour before we went to explore downtown Scottsdale. We ended our day at Pizzeria Bianco. According to Rachel Ray, it’s the best pizza in America. It’s also on the top ten of many other lists. Maybe it’s a Phoenix thing, but MAN! These places are tiny! We grabbed a bottle of champagne and waited for our table outside in the beautiful weather.  It was definitely worth it and maybe the best pizza I’ve had in my life.

Overall, Phoenix was fun and super outdoorsy. The Grand Canyon was amazing – definitely recommended! We picked a great time to go – the weather was perfect and only the locals were around. I wish we had a little more time to go hiking in Phoenix, but that’s a 3 day weekend for you!
Our next trip is in 2 weeks. Not sure where we're headed, but stay tuned for more adventures!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 - A Year of Experiences

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions and here we are at the end of January anyways. I do like to have a theme for the year, where I really try to focus on different aspects of my life and improve on them. This year, I'm hoping for many opportunities to step outside my comfort zone and experience life more fully. This wasn't a hard theme to pick, considering our circumstances.

I recently had a discussion about travel with someone who asked me the question, "But can you afford it? You're going to regret not saving that extra money for retirement?" I see where they're coming from, but honestly, it was never a consideration for me. Travel is one of the things in life that you buy that makes you richer. (The other, in my opinion, is education). There will never be that "perfect" time to travel. There will always be life standing in the way. This year, I will be making a conscience effort to make every day a day full of great experiences. I want to be able to look back at my life and smile at all of the great memories I have made.

Tomorrow, we're going to embark on our first of many trips this year - Phoenix, AZ! I've been researching activities and places to eat for the past week and we have some great stuff planned. I'm also excited to say that we will be taking a day trip to the Grand Canyon! This has been on my bucket list (to be revealed in a future post) for quite some time, so I can't wait! It's supposed to be beautiful in the winter as well...

Expect a post next week all about our adventures in Phoenix!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The World is our Oyster

I think one of my favorite things in the world is researching travel. It seriously makes me so happy! I guess I love all the potential that it has. We have a few weeks before we do any real traveling, but we’re starting to plan out our trips. I’ve taken off 4 Fridays from work through April so far, so travel plans are brewing! Jason gets to work 9-80s and get every other Friday off.  I think we feel like this benefit is just too good to last, so we’re trying to take advantage of it now. During all this time, I’m training for a 10k that I’ll be running in February, so that’ll be interesting!
We will for sure be making a trip to Phoenix, AZ in a few weeks. The warm weather is definitely the main draw for us. I would absolutely love to go to the Grand Canyon while we’re there, but it’s a bit of a drive (around 3 hours each way). Also on our radar is a night ride through the Sonoran desert in an open-air Hummer. Of course, I want a lot of quality time just exploring the city and eating some great food. Maybe I could even convince Jason to go running with me along some of the trails in Phoenix?
For the remainder of the Winter/Spring, we would love to visit some of the following places: Seattle, Orlando (Wizarding World of Harry Potter!), Washington D.C., Taos and Minneapolis (to visit a friend who recently moved up there). 
We’re also planning 1 BIG trip. We’ll see where life takes us, but we’re hoping to go somewhere amazing. Another awesome thing about SWA is that they are partners with so many other airlines. That means we can also fly on these airlines, not for free, but for super cheap! We’re going to do this for sure, whether we go to Thailand, Europe or Australia. Who knows?
The crazy thing about this travel is that we could be at the airport and a flight is full, so we just jump on a plane to anywhere else. It will definitely make packing interesting!
If you have any travel suggestions for us, please let us know! Places to visit, places to eat, things to do…all is welcomed!

Here are some pictures from our Southern Carribean cruise in September to tide you over!

At La Mina Falls

Us and the famous Pitons of St. Lucia

Our wonderful travel companions (

Snokeling with sea turtles - coolest thing EVER!

Hanging out at the beach in Barbados

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why I'm Blogging...

I have always had that "travel itch" and I was blessed to grow up in a family that allowed me to satisy it. I love experiencing new cultures and new food and making great memories along the way. Some of my favorite places that I've visited are: Italy, Hawaii, Sonoma, St. Lucia, Barbados and Puerto Rico.

When I met Jason, he hadn't had the opportunity to travel very much, so he didn't understand why I NEEDED to explore the world. Luckily for me, that changed when we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We both fell in love with the scenery (who wouldn't?) and welcoming people we met. From that point one, we both became passionate about travel.

This year, Jason was offered the opportunity to work for Southwest Airlines in the audit department. This seemed like an ideal job for many reasons, but one of the great benefits is...FREE FLIGHTS! Now, it's not as easy as it sounds, and I'm sure we will run into some hiccups along the way, but we are beyond excited to start exploring the US.

We've already had the opportunity to test out the system with a few trips. We made our way to Chicago for my cousin's wedding and we also went to Austin to visit some good friends. Both trips were pretty seamless, so I'm hoping that trend continues!
I wanted to start this blog to document all of our "Non-Rev" trips and to remember our experiences. Please stick with me as this is my first blogging experience!

I'll leave you with some great memories from those trips to Chicago and Austin.