Rochester Lilac Fest 2017

The first few beautiful weeks of Spring always smell so nice. Pause for a moment and take a deep breath. What do you smell? Grass clippings, budding trees, blooming flowers…

One of my favorite smells of Spring are Lilac’s. At Rochester’s Lilac Festival, you can walk the paths smelling the Lilac’s fragrant smells. At the end of the paths you reach a smorgasbord of food trucks and vendor stands. Grab a carnitas taco or a sushi garbage plate while you watch the band of the night play over the noises of the roaring crowd.

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Lilac Festival is one of the largest free festivals in North America. You won’t find another one like it in our country. Many of the festivals’ Lilacs reside in Highland Park, a park that has about 150 aces of rolling hills and botanical delights. The first lilacs planted here date back to about 1890 when several thousand shrubs were planted. 8 years later, a random festival broke out and around 3,000 people traveled to Highland Park to see these magnificent flowers. Today, the Rochester Lilac Festival draws in about 500,000 people annually to this ten-day FREE event.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the beauty and smells of Spring.

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Blink & You’ll Miss it: Cadillac Ranch

Just off Texas’ Route 66, in the middle of a dirt field, lies a Cadillac graveyard. If you blink while your driving past, there’s a good chance you might just miss it. This isn’t just any graveyard or car junkyard, this is Cadillac Ranch. It’s open to the public, with fresh spray paint cans lying on the ground just waiting for you to indulge your artistic (wanna be graffiti artist) senses. Yes, you can draw on the cars whatever you desire and as much as you’d like.

Cadillac Ranch began in 1974 showing the evolution of the car line from about 1949-1963. These cars were probably just Junker cars that someone wanted to make into art back in the day. Facing nose down, deep in the dirt, the Cadillac’s are shown in a way that is similar to the angles of the Great Pyramid of Giza.  They were moved around back in the 90’s to be closer to the expressway and away from the growing city. In fact, they are still located on private land, but visitors are encouraged to trespass and paint.

The cars have layers upon layers of paint showing the history of all those who have visited. We had such a great time stopping at this unique roadside attraction. It was such a joy to come together with others and spray paint private property 😉

Driving down Route 66 or through Texas anytime soon? Cadillac Ranch is a must see! There’s no where else like it. Pack your bags, bring some paint, grab your date, and have fun!

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A Romantic Night in a Hotel – But Not in the Room

When you picture a romantic night in a hotel, it’s easy to immediately picture it to be in your hotel room. But what if the romance could still be in the hotel, but outside of your hotel room? Hotels such as Aloft in Minneapolis or Four Points Sheraton in Brentwood-Nashville has a bar, live music, or even a bon fire outside for you to enjoy and more. All of this without leaving your hotel room. Why don’t you make a date out of it?

LOVE THIS PLACE! -So much to do here

When your traveling, you may get to your destination and just want to crash on the bed in your hotel room and watch TV. It is so easy to get into that slum and not even notice it’s happening. Why be that boring couple when many hotels offer activities right in their own lobby?

Abandoned Hotel Lobby on Route 66

At Aloft Minneapolis, you don’t even need to leave your hotel to have a romantic night in. Not only were their rooms unique and slightly luxurious, their common areas were intimate and romantic. Grab a drink at the bar and sit in a quiet corner of the room on a comfy sofa, or sit by the fire pit outside. You can act like a couple again instead of feeling like strangers after a long car ride.

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Drinking by the fire pit

Four Points Sheraton in Brentwood-Nashville has a great lounge area that offers live music at night. Upon our arrival, we were eligible for a free drink. So after freshening up we went to the lounge area, grabbed a drink at their lovely bar, and listened to a great cover band for the remainder of our night.

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My favorite romantic hotel to stay for an overnight is Evins Mill outside of Nashville. Arriving there, you aren’t expected to do much. No one will judge you if you just go relax in your room or sit on your balcony listening to the tree frogs. YES, I said balcony! The place is so beautiful and serene, you can’t not relax. See my previous blog post here.

With these examples, what I’m trying to say is…

It is possible to have a date night without leaving your hotel when your on the road. Grab a drink from the bar, order in Chinese, and play a game in the lounge area. Star gaze on that balcony or go watch a band play at the bar. Wear your pajamas for all we care!

Opryland – Tour the botanical gardens inside!

Enjoy your date night 😊

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A Hidden Beauty in Oregon – Thor’s Well & Oneonta Gorge

In my opinion, our drive through Oregon was the most beautiful drive during our entire trip across the United States. I never thought Oregon would be so drop dead gorgeous. From the coast and sand dunes, to the deep forests – Oregon will leave you speechless. The Cape Perpetua area was our favorite, shown in the photo below. Here you will find a lot of roadside attractions, one being Thor’s Well.

Oregon’s Coast

Thor’s well is about 600′ deep and is able to be seen at it’s best during high tide. Unfortunately, we arrived there during low tide, but it was just as impressive to us! The well releases water which is then pumped into the air via the power of the ocean and waves. It was fascinating watching the water pump in and out.

High Tide

vs. Low Tide

One place in particular was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave and we wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for Pinterest. Have you ever seen a place on Pinterest and thought to yourself, I’m going there someday? I have my own personal bucket list board that I add to just about every day! The places I visit, I put into an accomplished board. See my Pinterest here.

Oneonta Gorge is filled with beautiful hiking paths, waterfalls, and a treacherous gorge that if you are daring enough and well equipped, may hike through to get to the bottom of the mountain. It is similar to that of The Narrows in Zion, see our recent post here. Oneonta gorge in particular has water that can come up to your neck depending on the time of year. We chose to hike the 2.5 mi trail to go behind the waterfall and also to the overlook to see miles and miles of Oregon terrain. On this 2.5 mi loop, it starts at Horsetail Falls and takes you up to Ponytail Falls (the waterfall that you can walk behind). After you reach that waterfall, you will begin a steep climb to get to the overlook and then back down again to Horsetail Falls. Have a picnic with your loved one at the overlook, it is the perfect spot! It was certainly worth the hike.

Ponytail Falls


The Overlook


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The 5 Best Tips for Traveling as a Couple ❤

Travel can be an amazing adventure together. Most people say it may, “make or break the relationship.” In most cases such as ours, I can honestly say it made our relationship better. And I hope it can do the same for you. We’ve always had our issues and at the time I thought our relationship was going down the drain before our big road trip in 2015. But in the end, we came out better and stronger and developed a bond I’ve never had with anyone – And I am so thankful for that. Traveling as a unit has it’s own struggles. Hopefully our top 5 tips can help you and your lover have an amazing vacation.

1.) Don’t count on your expectations:

The first mistake you can make before going on a trip is by having high expectations. It’s easy to do, trust me. The problem with this, especially when traveling as a couple, is that both of you may have different expectations and it will be disappointing if none or only a few actually do come true. Nothing is perfect. A good way to prevent it is by discussing how each of you picture your trip before it actually begins. Sit down and have an open line of communication and make sure to tell each other everything that you think will happen on the trip no matter how silly or out of reach it may be. Discuss the smells, tastes, sounds, and sight. Honestly, it will work because each of you will know what the other is thinking. Then when you get there, you may be able to tell each other, “I told you so!” If that doesn’t happen, at least you can laugh about it and make the best of the reality of your trip!

2.) Discuss budgets:

One of the most common issues while traveling as a couple is budget. One of you may have a budget constraint or preference more than the other. All you have to do is make the other person aware of what you are willing and not willing to spend. Money should not get in the way of enjoying your trip. There are so many activities we found on our road trips that were little to no money and we enjoyed every second of it. If you think it will be a major issue – plan what to do, where to stay, and where to eat ahead of time so both of you are prepared and have somewhat of an itinerary to follow. This itinerary will be something you have both agreed with, so you can eliminate any guilt or questions you may have when you want to go to that semi-expensive restaurant or splurge on paddle boarding tours. Planning like this will relieve a lot of stress that being on the road can cause. It will also take the guess work out of what each of you are expecting on the trip.

3.) Don’t get hangry (Hungry + Angry): 

Don’t lie, we’ve all been there. It is one of the biggest causes of fights for couples while they are on the road. At least, I know it is for us. When we’re hungry or deprived of food, we may get tired and grouchy. That tired and grouchiness makes us take it out on each other, the person closest to you at that moment. With not being able to have much alone time, being stuck in a car or plane for hours, that tiredness and grouchiness can be amplified. So, take it from us and EAT! Set a time throughout the day for each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that both of you can agree upon and follow. I know it’s hard to stick to a designated time while on vacation, but you will be thankful you did.

4.) Compromise:

You probably already know compromise is a big part of any relationship. It’s no different from home when you are on the road. Both of you may want to do a tour and the times overlap, you may want to eat at different restaurants, maybe you want to relax and he is anxious to go exploring – the most important thing in this whole article is COMPROMISE. Although open communication is key – if you are able to communicate, then you will certainly be able to compromise. Talk about your perspective on the situation while seeing your partner’s point of view and listen. Don’t hide your feelings, but be honest. Come up with a plan, if he wants to eat somewhere that night, tell him you both can and that he must be willing to eat at the restaurant you want the next night and vice versa. It won’t be simple, but if they care to make you happy, it will work!

5.) Learn to Share:

Growing up as an only child, I have to admit – I don’t share easily. I know that may be a terrible thing to say, but it’s true! I like to think I can share, but in reality it drives me nuts. I like having my own space, packing in my own suitcase, and doing whatever I want. Not only being a couple, but traveling as a couple breaks each and every one of those wants I just mentioned. -And that’s ok! If you love them enough, you will learn how to share- quickly! I think traveling together has made me a more sensible packer. It’s a wonderful way to learn how to collaborate with one another as well as a great bonding activity. Packing together means you have nothing to hide, your open and honest with one another.

You not only share packing space, you also need to learn how to share your time. Share time with your partner and yourself. Even though you are traveling together, that DOES NOT mean you need to spend every waking moment with them – you are aloud to have alone time. Go for a stroll and explore, take a yoga class on the beach, do whatever your heart pleases and don’t feel guilty. Alone time is very beneficial for any relationship, at home or on the road.

I hope you liked our top 5 tips for traveling as a couple. It won’t be easy, but it will totally be worth it. Enjoy making beautiful memories together ♡

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Our Favorite Las Vegas Resorts

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Finding a place to stay in Las Vegas can be overwhelming with all the different choices downtown has to offer. You can choose to stay in an overpriced high rise suite, or you can choose like we did and stay in one of the cheaper hotels in the area within walking distance of the strip. Choosing a hotel to stay in was like hoping for the best. You want to stay cheaper, but you don’t want it to be sleazy or sketchy which is very common in this city! We wanted a hotel that also had things do inside such as bars, shoppes, and nightly shows. If we had known prior to going that most of the casinos had free parking, we wouldn’t have worried so much to stay within walking distance. No matter what your price range may be though, here are some hotels worth looking into.

As I mentioned, we wanted to stay somewhere near the strip, in a hotel with nightly shows, and still pay a cheaper price than most other places. This is how we came upon Circus Circus.

Circus Circus

This place may have some cons, but it was great for our budget. We stayed in one of the cheaper rooms which was actually across the street opposite from the resort itself. The rooms were clean for the most part, but the hallways smelled like old smoke. The pool was outside and VERY small. We didn’t even bother to take advantage of it because it was always so packed, and plus we had plenty of other activities we wanted to do instead. Aside from that, we loved the casino and restaurant bars, such as Vince Neil’s, inside the resort as well as their nightly shows and arcade room.

The nightly shows consisted of fun acrobats and magicians and did I mention these shows were free?! The walk from the hotel to the main area of the strip wasn’t so bad. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes. On your way to the main strip, stop into the mall and take a ride in a gondola on their indoor river.

Circus shows and entertainment

The Flamingo is a beautiful resort, unlike any I’ve ever seen before. I loved the ambiance, cleanliness, and of course the birds! They actually have an indoor wildlife habitat filled with different species of birds (such as Flamingos of course) and fish. They have outdoor restaurants in the middle of the resort for you to enjoy the wildlife and tranquility. Carlos ‘N Charlie’s has great Mexican dishes! This area is also a popular spot for weddings and you can often see the wedding party from sitting at this restaurants’ outdoor seating area. Aside from that, they have an amazing water park for you to enjoy!

Excalibur is the hotel in Vegas that looks like a castle. The architecture of the building is beautiful and so ornate it’s hard to drive by and NOT see it. I stayed here when I was younger and I had a blast. Obviously I couldn’t experience the casino and bar aspect of it all, but I can tell you the arcade, shows, and the room itself was awesome. Even as an adult, you can spend hours in their underground arcade area. Most of their shows are Renaissance era themed to match the castle vibe.

Photo credit: By Stebera

Other hotels in the area worth mentioning:

Caesars Palace is a very popular, upper class hotel that we found was just fun to go in and enjoy it’s casino roman themed ambiance. You may recognize the outside from many movies and photos of Las Vegas with it’s beautiful statues and fountains.

Front of Caesars Palace

Luxor is the pyramid shaped casino and resort, if you love Egyptian history like I do, this is certainly a place you should visit. The Mirage has a beautiful dolphin exhibit inside and it’s volcano outside erupts nightly which is definitely a must see! Last but not least, Treasure Island has always been one of my favorites up until late. I always loved seeing their pirate shows outside the resort, but this past time when we went, we heard they stopped doing the shows.

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We hope you enjoy your visit to Las Vegas. Comment below with what hotel you choose and let us know why we should stay there next time! Thank you for reading.

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Why I’ve Given Up On a Dream & Am Living My Life 💕

Overlooking The Badlands

I’ve always been a dreamer. My dreams are what brought me to all the places I’ve been and all the things I’ve done – and I don’t regret any of them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed my life would be filled with the people I love and I would actually live my life – not just have a career. I also dreamed I would live somewhere new and exciting, to get away from Pennsylvania and experience somewhere, something better.

Growing up you’re always asked, what do you want to be when you grow up? From the time you are born, you’re automatically programmed to find a career. That if you don’t find a career, you’re life isn’t worth much. When people would ask me this question, I always had a different answer – photographer, business owner, veterinarian, park ranger – I could never pick just one thing. Deep down, I guess I knew I would never be happy picking only one career for the rest of my life.

So let’s take a look at my story.

I went to a technical high school where I was able to get my Cosmetology license end of senior year, but I always knew that wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do with my life. When it was close to high school graduation, I decided the thing I wanted to do was own a recording studio or become a booking agent, so I decided to go to school for music business. I worked in a salon leading up to the following spring when that music dream took me all the way out to Minneapolis where I spent 2 years completing my degree. I moved back home because the whole time I was so home sick, it was all I could think about. Moving back home I realized, I wasn’t ready for the real world. I went back to the salon and dreamed another dream. 6 months later, I went to college closer to home for marketing. I completed my bachelor’s in three years and loved it. It opened my mind to so many other possibilities and that is when I realized, event planning was what I wanted to do. I interned for a car show company I loved, I joined AMA and put on events for my club, I did everything I could to get more experience and closer to my new dream. Approaching graduation, I planned a road trip – something I always dreamed of doing. So the summer after college, my boyfriend and I escaped from life and went on our crazy 5 week road trip. The best and most amazing experience of my life. Opening my mind to travel made me never want to return to reality. I wanted to stay on the road, but I felt guilted to jump into a career and settle down.

I came back to finding myself accepting a job in Nashville for event planning. I thought my dream had come true, that this was it. In the back of my mind though, I knew that wasn’t true. I was blinded by my dream. My dream of living somewhere new and exciting, my dream of having a successful career.

As the year went by, I realized I was foolish. That dream became a reality and I realized I was miserable. I was angry and stressed all the time and it was all because of my career. The career I dreamt of for so long, was becoming the death of me. The job was so stressful, it made my life miserable. I couldn’t enjoy my evenings with friends and family, I couldn’t enjoy going out on the weekends because I was always working. I realized my dream kept me from the life I really always wanted to live.

Months of self analyzing and having to make some tough major life choices, I realized a place of my past had an opportunity that had been waiting for me. I was just always too self-involved to realize.

Growing up, my second home was Rochester, which also happens to be where I was born. Most of my family lives there and I know the area like the back of my hand. Connections have existed there and I never utilized them because I thought I could figure out something more, something better. What I needed had been in front of me this whole time. By moving to Rochester, we are both closer to family and don’t feel as lost as we had in the big city of Nashville. Now I’m at a job that gives me freedom, where stress does not seem to exist. Somewhere I can go and not feel like my heart is resisting. I may not be living the dream I dreamt long ago, but I am living the dream I’ve dreamt my whole life. The dream where I’m able to spend time with my loved ones, I’m able to travel, I’m able to have hobbies –  I’m not just focusing on a career. All the things I’ve always wanted, I’m finally able to do. This isn’t me settling down (that will never truly happen), but this is me feeling comfortable with how my life is – finally.

Note to self: I urge you to be less passionate about the dream that is your career, and be more passionate about the dream to live your life the way YOU want it. Travel, explore, go on adventures – fall in love. You don’t have to be passionate about a career, but you CAN be passionate about life. That is my new dream, to not be so distracted by work, that I forget to live.

-Crystal 💕

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The Unexpected Beauty of the Badlands

Home to the world’s richest fossil beds, The Badlands is filled with a sense of unexpected beauty. Where ancient mammals once roamed, you can find a variety of fossils within it’s rugged terrain. Looking at the huge rock beds, is like looking back in time. Each layer and color showing the history of a million years ago. Long ago, water and ice cut into the surface of the earth, splitting open some rocks, wearing them away. In a few million years, the Badlands will be completely gone.

We took the 240 Loop Road, giving us an overall view of the Badlands and it’s different terrains. The visitor center should be your first stop upon your arrival. Here you will be able to learn the different history in it’s exhibits as well as learn about the best trails the park has to offer. I must say, the history section of the visitor center was one of the best I have been to in a National Park. Be sure to stop by it’s Fossil Exhibit Trail. This trail offers a fun and interactive look into the fossils that have been discovered in the Badlands. It is also a super easy, well maintained trail that is only about .02 mi long! Along the Loop Road, there are many pull-off spots that allow you to overlook the diverse landscape of the Badlands.

The Badlands used to be a jungle, but torrential storms flooded the landscape burying the lush jungle and it’s animals in the mud. Fossils of Saber Tooth Cats, Mammoths, and more have been found in the ancient rock formations. Parts of the Badlands are now grasslands making it a home to many mammals that are commonly seen such as Bighorn Sheep, Prairie Dogs, and Buffalo.

We saw a lot of these beautiful animals, both climbing the mountain sides and in the grasslands.
Something I loved about the Badlands was the freedom. You can walk anywhere, you don’t have to stay on the trails. In some areas of the park that may be recommended, but it’s not enforced.

Thank you for reading,

Crystal & Shane

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Super fun day trips in Knoxville

Near the Great Smokey Mountains lies a beautiful and unique city just waiting to be explored. Knoxville, TN offers a little something for everyone whether you like bar hopping, shopping, paddle boarding, kayaking, or hiking, then you MUST read on! Here are some super fun day trip ideas to take in Knoxville.

The Square in downtown Knoxville

The Square in downtown Knoxville offers a unique variety of shoppes, restaurants, and bars. Two of my favorite places to eat is Blue Coast (on the corner with plenty of outdoor seating) and Downtown Grill & Brewery. Both offer a wide variety from Brunch to Dinner. The Square is a very popular bar hopping location in Knoxville. I love these bars that offer fantastic views from their rooftop such as Preservation Pub and Scruffy City Hall. If you want to get away from the party scene, there is a great little speakeasy bar that is hidden from many tourists. The Peter Kern Library is by far my favorite bar anywhere in the United States. Hidden down a dark alley on Union Avenue you will find the entrance. Just look for a red gleaming light and a security guard out front, as there is no sign. It is a nice, relaxing place to grab a pricey drink named after many literary characters and the menu is literally a thick, antique book.

The Armstrong/Strong Alley is a great spot for a quick walk through to see beautiful graffiti art. Artists have been given permission from the building owners to use this alley as an artistic outlet. The popularity and the love this alley has placed upon the city have inspired people to fund and donate to help preserve the art on the walls. You can find this alley between Market Square & Gay Street.

The city of Knoxville burned down long ago, so you will come to find that part of the city is labeled, The Old City, and the other part is labeled, The New City. Part of The New City was built up above The Old City. Some streets actually allow you to look down from the top of the street to the old buildings down below. The picture below doesn’t do it any justice, you have to see it in person!

The old burned Knoxville city underneath the new city. Those are apartments down there that people still live in!
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A Sunny, Southern Beaufort Tour

Beaufort, South Carolina is beautiful in many ways. With tales and stories of written history dating over 500 years, it is a history buff’s dream town. Beaufort has also been a popular movie set for well known films such as Forrest Gump, The Great Santini, and The Jungle Book. Not only is the town architecturally beautiful, Beaufort seems to always have the perfect weather. This town can offer a unique, romantic getaway from all the hustle and bustle of your everyday life.

Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge-aka. the bridge from Forrest Gump

Beaufort, not far from Hilton Head Island, is a town that can be overlooked and not overrun by summer tourists. It is a unique destination you must put on your list! Huge historical homes, Spanish moss, and haunted graveyards add to the towns mystique. Many of those historical homes are made with shells, also known as “coastal concrete”. Oyster shells and sand is what people on the coast used before concrete was made.  The residents of Beaufort have tried to maintain this little piece of architectural history by repairing and maintaining many of the homes within the town. While you walk down the sidewalks, you may see remaining shells and coastal concrete scattered about.

I love Spanish Moss, I’m a little obsessed.

Take a stroll through one of many of Beaufort’s cemeteries. With their Civil War era crumbling tombstones and Spanish Moss, every cemetery has it’s own unique and eerie look and feel to them. Some of the churches on the properties let you walk in to take a peek as well.

Beth Israel Cemetery

If you go to visit Beaufort, try one of their many touring companies. Take a walking tour (some are free) or take a buggy ride with The Southurn Rose Buggy Tours. Our tour guide was awesome. She knew every piece of history her town had to offer. She also showed us each movie set we went by and told us many gossip stories about the movie stars that stayed and visited. This tour was the perfect tour for taking photos. The tour guides stop in front of many historical sites so you can get the best photo possible before they move on to the next spot. Also, the horses are well taken care of and they love their job. Pet them and feed them apples after your carriage ride.

My favorite brunch place was Magnolia Bakery Café. If you want to eat at an authentic Southern restaurant, this place is the best! The food is made fresh and the prices are decent. You may also shop at their bakery after your meal to take some of this southern goodness home with you.

Photo taken by: Ron E from website

Beaufort, South Carolina is a down to earth, small Southern town I highly suggest for anyone to visit. I can’t wait to go back. Thank you all for reading.

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