Rowing for the weekend– Intro to Health House!

Guys, I’m sold on indoor rowing. If something makes me want to cry every time I do it, creates a good sore, makes my ass scream, and gets me out of the breath then you better believe I’ll be repeating it. Gotta love that pain!! But let me clear something up… I would never ever do it alone.. I grew up playing sports and am used to team everything. After finishing my last year of college soccer at Mizzou my biggest concern was working out alone. Luckily, I found a group exercise studio that gets results so let me introduce you to Health House. HH is an expanding studio in Kansas City that offers a variety of classes, many of which include rowing.

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Health House is friendly and welcoming to everyone. This starts with the owner and instructor, Jon Knopke. His energy is contagious and it creates a positive atmosphere for people who want to work hard and have fun! Everyone that walks in that door is uniquely awesome and I’m pumped to be around them.

The place is spotless. I’m not the most tidy person so this stands out to me vividly. Having a clean space helps clear your mind and makes for a safe workout! The room is industrial, minimalist, and efficient. It is easy to find the weights, towels, weighted balls, and weighted bags. The layout is clear and colors are simple yet appealing.

The instructors are very knowledgeable about teaching and they maintain a healthy lifestyle by example. The other week I began to notice how the instructors will take each others class. The team mentality and support of each other is empowering. Plus, it is an additional person that you know will drive good energy into the room, and help with someone’s form if they may injure themselves.

Most workout are 45 minutes. They go fast and are very challenging. When you sign up for a class you will see all the classes available and they are different daily ranging from rowing, sculpting, weighted, cardio, etc.

Overall,  the energy is incredible! It takes zero time for your adrenaline to start kicking and it lasts the entire class. People are excited, the music is blaring, and before you know it the work the over… and you cannot wait to walk into Health House again for your next class.

Come take a class with me!

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Thanks for adventuring,

XX- Blonde Boarding

Braids at Bandelier

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Bandelier National Monument is a gorgeous place full of history. It is the perfect day trip from Santa Fe, located about an hour away. My sister and I learned so much about the history of the Ancestral Puebloans and we were very impressed by everything that has been done to preserve the homes and territory. You can see the cliff dwellings and housings remains of where the Ancestral Puebloans lived. Some wanted to live on the ground, and some in wanted to live in the cliffs. We were able to explore both types of living!

IMG_0984IMG_0982IMG_0859IMG_0983IMG_0887  If you decide to go, we highly recommend picking up the self-guided book and reading along at each stop on the hike, they are labeled by number. We also took a steep detour and hiked up to the campground at the top of the mountain in order to check out the views, and also get more of a workout in!

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I hope you enjoy Bandelier and learning about the Ancestral Puebloans as much as we did. Don’t forget to pack snacks and water! I ate a Justin’s Almond Butter Pack, some turkey, and an apple.

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Thanks for adventuring. On to the next!

 

XO – Blonde Boarding

Treatments at Bare Med Spa

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Hi beauties! The last few months I have decided to a make a huge change in my life…. actually RESEARCHING, CONSULTING, and TRYING new face and body treatments. If you know me then you know this sounds insane and takes a LOT of focus. I am always on the go and I hate being slowed down!! If someone isn’t constantly on my case about dentists or doctors appointments then I just skip… In fact, I got my first physical in 5 years last week. Thanks mom and dad for forcing that one! And like yoga? Hell no. The entire time I’m thinking about everything else I should be doing and having the exact opposite experience of mediating. So now you know.

I’m finally taking ME time in hopes to save and prevent my face and body from aging too quickly! Luckily, Kansas City has an incredible spa that I trust 100% with all treatments. If you are in the MO/KS area then definitely check out Bare Med Spa  – I might be obsessed. Also, bring a girlfriend with you! My spa days are usually with The Fit Brunette. Sooooo lets talk about a few treatments I’ve tried in the last few months.. and love, love, love!

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Cryotherapy – 3 minutes… hmmm yes! You already know this is right up my alley. It is amazing for collagen production and inflammation! I seriously wish this existed 5 years ago when I was playing soccer in college. Instead, I was in ice baths 2x a day. Cryotherapy uses extremely cold temperatures to tighten and firm the skin which aids in muscle recovery, blood circulation and can give you a big energy boost (it does for me… hellooo runners high!). You step into an enclosed cryosauna (pictured above) with your head above it and you are surrounded by liquid nitrogen for up to 3 minutes. Overall, I LOVE IT. Helps sore muscles and burns up to 800 calories per treatment. Do it. DONE.

Dermaplaning – Yes, this treatment shaves your face so that’s why I’m obsessed. I really don’t like much hair on my body and I LOVE the feeling afterwards of having the smoothest face ever. My makeup goes on like a breeze! This treatment gets rid of your dead skin which is why most people do it.. I do it for a smooth face with zero hair… you do you. Regardless this is a good one! Oh, and no, from my experience my hair does not grow back thicker or darker after. Never ever.

Botox – I decided it was time to give the ol’ botox a whirl. Lets be real… I’ve watched Real Housewives and I’ve seen the damage they have done with botox and fillers.. I am aiming for the opposite!!! To simply slow down the aging process and for the little 11 to not get any deeper engrained between my brows! So I did it. And I’m glad I did. I am not sure if this will be a few times a year thing for me, I will keep you updated on that. Cost depends on where you get it. If you are a first timer and wanting a natural look in just 1-2 areas then it will most likely be between $200-$300. I totally recommend setting a consultation to talk with someone before ultimately deciding what will be best for you. I have major fear of something changing my face or affecting it too much so in my case, I decided to stay on the more natural side with fewer units.

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I will be trying even more new treatments at Bare Med Spa in the coming months and will share them with you all! Let me know if there are specific treatments you have heard of, are interested in, or want me to look into for you!

XX –

Blonde Boarding

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Kasha- Katuwe Tent Rock, Featuring For Love & Lemons

I fell in love with New Mexico and the Tent Rocks National Monument. Tent Rocks is located about 40 minutes away from Santa Fe. It is a National Monument made up of layers of volcanic rock and ash. Fast-forward 7 million years of erosion and now these layers have created canyons and tent rocks that you can hike in!

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My sister and I completed both of the two hiking trails. Slot canyon trail is 3 miles and cave loop trail is 1.2 miles. Most of my pictures were taken during the slot canyon trail. It is a little more challenging yet it is very worth it for the views! In the hike you will see unusual rock formations and a mini slot canyon.

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Make sure to pack water. If you are like me and get hungry easily then pack snacks! I ate a RX bar, apple, and almond butter pack. At the top, I took a nap on the rocks and my sister painted before we hiked back down. It was the perfect afternoon.

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I’m wearing a For Love and Lemons dress. Enjoy more of their clothes here ! This exact dress is the Mallorca.

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Cant wait to share more of New Mexico with you all.

XX- Blonde Boarding

Bikini Picks ’17

Hi all! I’m spending memorial day weekend back home in Kansas City and it has been so great to reset for my upcoming trips. I’ve received a lot of questions about where my bikinis are from, so I wanted to follow up with a full post with links to where I’ve gotten my recent suits. Enjoy!

The Simple Bikini – On sale for $15!!! I have this suit in 5-6 different colors. It’s super simple and does the job. I prefer styles that have less going on and this one fits that perfectly. The straps are more like a bra and they don’t tie around your neck. This bikini doesn’t slide in the front and it has little to no padding. To me, it’s like a low maintenance girl. What you see is what you get.  Plus, you can get it on amazon…. so with Prime it arrives in 2 days!

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The Little Cutie – $13.99!! I haven’t tested it out much yet so the verdict is still out… so far, definitely thinking it is a winner! Very comfortable, pulls the goods together, and shows just enough booty. This bikini comes in 5 different colors, I’m loving the bright ones! This suit took about 4-5 weeks to come in so order soon!

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The Sexy Triangle Bikini – Another suit for $20 on Amazon!! This one is a little confusing to put on with the long skinny strappy top… and it doesn’t always stay put on the goods. Overall, it’s still a great suit if you are with a comfortable crew or if you’ve had a few drinks and are free spirited (the nipples don’t slip… but say hello to underboob and/or sideboob!)

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The Daring Pludge – welllllll lets start with the positives. This suit is $14.99 which makes it super affordable. It is rare and I LOVE off the shoulder sleeves. Overall, this suit is a challenge. After getting this suit in, which took over a month, I tried it on and realized it was probably only a suit to put on for a quick picture. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for some, I had a few glasses of champagne and went for it. Lets just say South Florida got to see a lot of nip slips that day! This baby is hard to keep up! And while you are pulling the top up, you are also worried that the tiny bottoms are going up your ass. Overall, great for a picture, not very functional… your call! *I’d order a size bigger than usual.

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The Trusty Athletic Bikini – Anything is possible in this suit! Scanning in at under $20 (again!) and on Amazon (again!) it is a win, win. You might be catching on that I do a lot of last minute shopping on Amazon, ha-ha. This suit is great for just about everything. It is less risqué than the others and I feel comfortable playing sand volleyball, swimming laps or hanging with my parents in it. Plus, it you haven’t shaved or waxed recently then these bottoms are a little more forgiving!

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The Strappy Crossover – My most expensive recent swimsuit purchase at $36.00. Still very affordable and a great bikini! The top is a little confusing at first, as it ties around your body. Love that you can make it as tight as you want and it does a good job holding everything together. The straps on the bottom and top are fun and different. Happy with this purchase and excited to get some more items on Missguided!

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Hope you all are having a great memorial day!

Until the next adventure,

XX- Blonde Boarding

Ten Reasons to Visit ICELAND

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I am so excited to share my trip to Iceland with you all! Over the last few years visitors to Iceland have doubled hitting 2 million visitors a year…. and the population is only 330,000 people! It has definitely become a hot spot for travel and I’ve captured all of my favorites to share with you. You will fall in love with Iceland’s nature, beautiful waterfalls, friendly people, and if you are like me, tasty vodka! I traveled with two new great friends, Kailey (IG) and Kelsey (IG). The three of us have never gone on a trip together, and were mere acquaintances. It made for such an epic experience and I am so thankful they ended up being some of the coolest girlfriends I’ve ever met!  Now for the countdown!

10 Reasons to Visit ICELAND

10. Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Diamond Beach 

IMG_8764IMG_8350The Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Diamond Beach are located two hours past Vik in East Iceland yet worth the drive! It is a crystal looking body of water with beautiful large iceberg chunks that resemble diamonds. It was very relaxing to get out of the car and just sit there watching sea lions swimming and playing on the glaciers.  There was a comforting silence at this location as everyone seemed awestruck by the beauty and  surroundings of gorgeous layers of blue. Walk under the road bridge to the Diamond Beach to see where the icebergs get washed up and look like diamonds on the black sand.

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9. The Donut Hamburger at Roadhouse

FullSizeRender (120)This place is located a few blocks from downtown Reykjavik. You must try the Donut. It’s a donut bun, a burger, smoked pork and an egg. Healthy? No. Fun and delicious? YES. Also… the fries are double fried, haha. We all ordered this and cleaned our plates. The waiters are fun to joke with and we even taught them some American dance moves. They also informed us that they do not eat the Donut Burger because it’s a diabetes in a meal hahaha whatever. Worth it!

8.  Golden Circle 

FullSizeRender (121) This is a must-do if you are a first timer to Iceland. It takes about 3 hours to drive it straight through. At our pace with the stops, lunch, and some hiking it took us about 8 hrs. This was the only day we saw a lot of tourists which put a bit of a damper on the exploring yet not too bad.  Definitely glad we did this drive and it is worth it. Highly recommend you rent a car to go at your own pace. In fact, we had a car our entire trip and it was a great decision.

  • The stops we made
    • Thingvellir National Park  – Walk (or snorkel!) between the tectonics plates of two continents; Eurasian and North American. It was also the birthplace of Old Iceland’s Commonwealth. Iceland leaders would meet in this area and decide on legislation.  
    • Gullfoss– unbelievable waterfall that cannot be missed! IMG_7599
    • Geysir – The big geyser erupts every 5 minutes or so. Very cool to see the hot water boil up and blow.
    • Bruarfoss Waterfall – Very pretty waterfall that requires a 3ish mile hike.
    • Kerid Crater – 3,500 year old crater. You can walk around the rim of the crater, warning- it may be very windy!IMG_7756

7. Vik – a small town with a population of less than 300 people in Southern Iceland. There are several incredible stops including waterfalls, hikes, and hot springs on the way to Vik and right past itIMG_8076

IMG_8309Make sure to hit Seljalandsfoss, Black Sand Beach, Skogafoss, and Dyrhólaey (the arch with the hole) and Fjaðrárgljúfur (green canyon). Here is an great map that one of the girls I traveled with put together with all of the stops and directions. Google Map – South Iceland Drive with Stops .We ate a delicious dinner at Sudur.

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6. Blue Lagoon  

IMG_9519 Book this ahead of time to be sure you get the time slot you want. It is located about 15 minutes from the airport so it is a good option to book right when you get to Iceland or before you catch your flight. We landed at 6 am so we decided to book the earliest time slot at 8 am. It was nice to cross one of our must-do’s off the list right away and it was very relaxing to enjoy the warm water after a long flight. We  enjoyed champagne early around 10 am at the swim up bar. It was a goal of ours to take our time and enjoy ourselves as long as we wanted. It was the perfect way to start our trip and set the tone for our love of finding any and every hot springs in Iceland!

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5. Cinnamon rolls at Braud & Co 

IMG_8039Words cannot describe how good this bakery is and it crosses my mind almost daily! I will book another trip to Iceland purely to eat one of these again. Stop by Reykjavik Roaster next door for a coffee. I loved the décor and funky building covered in colors. It was 25 degrees and snowing one morning and the bakery gave out free cinnamon roll bites the entire time you had to wait outside in the line. Literally amazing.

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4. Icelandic Horses! They are everywhere. So majestic, sweet, and sometimes a little hungry (see below haha). We loved taking breaks on our many roadtrips to pull over and give horses pets. The horses seem happy and content with acres and acres to explore.

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3. Seljavallalaug  – oldest pool in Iceland.

IMG_8771 I saw a few pictures of this pool on instagram prior to booking Iceland and I knew I had to get there asap! I was in love. This pool is just lukewarm and maintained by volunteers. To get there slow down before you reach Skogafoss and turn left to go towards ‘Seljavellir” on a dirt road. It is about 25 minutes away from Vik. Pack a few beers or mini bottles of wine and towels in your backpacks to enjoy. You will need to hike about a mile through rocks and streams yet it is well worth it. The side closest to the pipe (furthest from the changing room) is the warmest. Kailey swam, dove, and did canyon balls on repeat. It started to snow when we were up there which made it freezing and so epic. We stayed in an airbnb on a farm that was only 2 miles away from this pool. Here is the link to our airbnb – the host was very sweet and he cooked us breakfast each morning. We were able to play with the dogs and horses plus it is a great spot to see the Northern Lights!

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2.  Frioheimar Tomato Farm

FullSizeRender (117)A greenhouse that specializes in tomatoes and supplies 70% of Iceland’s tomatoes. Truly amazing lunch with a whole menu featuring tomatoes. To me, the standout was the Bloody Mary! And Icelandic vodka is ridiculous smooth. Pretty sure we tried everything on the menu from soup, pizza, pasta, tomato apple pie, and plenty of drinks! We made this our lunch stop while driving the golden circle.  

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1. Reykjadalur Hike and Hot Springs.

IMG_776045 min away from capital in the town of Hveragerdi.  You will hike 3-4 miles up a mountain to a hot springs river. The water is about 90-100 degrees. Our experience: We started this hike around 6:30 pm, a bit late yet the sun doesn’t set until 10 or 10:30 pm in April.  It was 30 degrees outside. When we arrived, we saw a few cars but no people and started thinking this mystical hot springs hike might be made up. It was so cold yet we decided to awkwardly put on our swimsuits in the porter potty at the bottom of the mountain then we started to climb. There were no signs, as this is local spot and few tourists even know about it. Luckily, we see a few people along the way and became more comfortable trekking along. After an hour or so we saw a lot of steam, the river opening up and a few, maybe five, very brave souls in the water with swimsuits on. After exchanging some friendly words we decided to go for it and stripped down bare to our bikinis and jumped in. And WOW! Talk about one of the most incredibly experiences of my life… honestly it was up there with skydiving in Switzerland, cliff jumping in Hawaii, and playing a big XII soccer game in complete snow in Colorado. The perfect mix of extreme, epic and CRAZY! We packed a 6 pack of beer and 4 mini bottles of wine. Then swam, drank, and giggled for hours. The sun was setting so we worked up our liquid courage to jump out and run around naked trying to put on our clothes. We hiked the 3-4 miles down the mountain as the sun was setting, with frozen hair, and smiling ear to ear.

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Need even more reasons to go? Fineeeeeee 🙂

Additional Food Options:

  • Kaloportid Flea Market – right next door to Iceland’s big flea market
  • Hradlestin – a little bit of Bollywood in Iceland. Just off main shopping street. Famed Harpa Opera House, Inda themed décor
  • Slippbarrin at the Marina Hotel- inside the Marina Hotel right next to Reykjavik’s busy shipping harbor -some of the city’s best cocktails
  • COFFEE!! Reykjavik Roasters – we stopped by this place almost every morning. Serves some of the best coffee in Iceland. It is right to Reykjavik’s iconic church Hallgrímskirkja.
  • Kex- a redone biscuit factory overlooking Reykjavik’s Harbor. Now a hip and industrial hostel with a gastropub vibe. Locals and young, trendy visitors fill this restaurant up everyday. All of the beer on tap is local with Icelandic ingredients such as angelica and arctic thyme. The food menu is full os Icelandic favorites. It was very cold and windy the day we went so we filled up on soup, burgers, and beer. There are large, wooden communal tables with made it easy for us to chat with locals and learn a lot about our surroundings. We were happy we checked this place out night 1.  
  • Saegreifinn – in the capital. Famous seafood spot
  • Sandholt – sandwiches to go
  • Baejarins Beztu Pylsur- Near Marina. Famous hot dog stand. (Bill Clinton loves it here.. insert jokes). Get the lamb hotdog with everything. LOVE THIS TOO. Foodie, can ya tell?
  •  Bergsson Mathus  – good spot for brunch
  • “Harbor” is a good place to be for food and sightseeing in the capital.

Additional Activities:

  • Free Reykjavik Walking Tour – good idea to do this day one so your get oriented to the city and learn about the history of Iceland.
  • Laugarvatn Fontana – A natural hot springs, bath, geothermal pool, wellness center.
  • Reykjavik Bar Crawl — this company also has a good food tour! 
  • Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This is a 2 hr drive from Reykjadular. We drove there and back in one day. It was a lot of driving yet very pretty with many landscape changes. this post and this post helped us a lot with planning!
  • ATVs Tour- We picked this one  2 hr ATVs and it was about $165-$210 per person. We loved it although the weather was snowing and hailing the entire time! Thankful the company provided a lot of warm gear for us to wear. FullSizeRender (127)
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Hallgrimskirkya Church – if you are in the capital then you will definitely see this church! Worth going inside and seeing the views from the top. FullSizeRender (115)
  • Kayaking
  • Harpa – beautiful concert hall in the capital. They have weekly events and plays. Stop in and see the dimensional glass walls even if it’s just to get out of the cold for a minute!IMG_7397IMG_7383
  • Helicopter Tour 
  • Sun Voyager-cool sculpture near the harpa concert hall. Head to Kex after this for some food!FullSizeRender (116)

I hope this post encourages you to take on Iceland! I promise you will be happy you did. Thanks for adventuring, Iceland! On to the next.

XX-

Blonde Boarding

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Point Reyes

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The drive to Point Reyes is beautiful from every angle. From Napa, you will enjoy views like these! From San Francisco stop and explore Muir Woods and Muir Beach.
Once you arrive you may be surprised how small the town is and you will quickly fall in love with everything it has to offer. Life slowwwws down in Point Reyes. For me, it was a good (and challenging) break from social media… as most of the town doesn’t have service (gasp!).  It is a easy escape from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and a nature escape from Wine Country. We were coming from fancy clothes and wineries on repeat in Napa and when it arrived in the town it seems like a happy standstill. Everyone head to toe in comfortable outdoorsy clothes, hiking sticks in hand, and reading the paper.
Check out my recommendations below for the great way to eat and explore your way through the Point Reyes National Seashore.
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The town of Point Reyes doesn’t have a ton of food options yet each spot is here for a reason and absolutely delicious. Here are some of my favorites:
Restaurants:
Station House Café – A great local, well liked café with organic options. We ate here for breakfast and it is a go-to for dinner as well. All the fixin’s you would want for breakfast plus some fan favorites.
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Cafe Point Reyes – Upscale pizza. So good. Only pizza, a few apps, salad and dessert on the menu. The pizza was delicious and skip desert because this restaurant serves free cookies! Imagine a crispy toffee cookie with chocolate in the middle.. so rich and delicious.
Cowgirl Creamery – the place to overdose on cheese! Located in a former hay barn right in the city square. Grab some meat, bread, wine, and cheese to enjoy outside or right inside the creamery. If you are unsure which cheese to purchase, ask! The staff is very knowledgeable and fun.. if you are like me then you will try many samples before deciding on a few. 🙂 Great spot for a midday snack. No public restrooms.
The Marshall Store – Oysters and champagne. Go early if it is nice out. 10 m north on 1 of Point Reyes. Enjoy outside on long picnic tables and meet some new friends. There are several oyster bars down this road a few miles so it could easily turn into a progressive oyster and champagne afternoon.
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If you would like to get out of Point Reyes for a more lively night then head to Petulama. We recommend Lagunitas Brewery for live music.
 
Activities:
Shipwreck – On your way to the Lighthouse stop at the general and bait shop for a snack, bathroom break or water then head to the back to see the shipwreck. Worth checking out, as it is right on the side of the road.
Lighthouse – A must if you are visiting Point Reyes mainly because the drive is gorgeous! Miles and miles of mountains, greenery, beaches and cows everywhere! Very picturesque.  The drive from the town takes about 45 minutes. Make sure to go before 5 as the gate closes then, if you can stay until sunset then you can snag some great views and pictures.
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Stinson Beach – on the way to the lighthouse. Be sure to stop and take it all in.
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Hike Point Reyes Seashore and see a lot of elk!
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Stop on cypress tree road on the way to the lighthouse. The trees here are breathtaking and impossible to not take a picture of. We drove right by it then reversed immediately to see the trees without even realizing this was a stop we wanted to make.
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Other activities to do near Point Reyes:
  • Hike Tamales Point. Takes 3-4 hours and the views are breathtaking
  • Hike Alamere Falls- Takes 4-5 hrs to complete this 8 hr hike. Walk the steps to palomarin trail then follow the coast trail to the alamere falls. If you would like something a bit shorter then stop about 2 miles in at bass lake and relax then turn around.

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Thank you for adventuring, Point Reyes! On to the next.
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XX-
Blonde Boarding

Spring Getaway to Wine Country

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One of my best friend’s married in Yountville a few weeks ago, so I happily planned a long weekend to hit some of my favorite wineries with great company. I will let you know which wineries we hit this trip, as well as some additional recommendations from the other trips to this gorgeous area. This is the first time I’ve added a few additional days to see Point Reyes , which I will talk about in the next post. I hope you enjoy!
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We fly into the Oakland or San Francisco airport to enjoy the 1 hr 15 minutes drive to the Napa area. I usual rent a car to enjoy at my own pace. If you prefer you can organize transportation with a car, bus or limo service. Coming from San Francisco drive on the beautiful Highway 1… it is a vacation in itself!
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On the flight I booked a last minute reservation to Domaine Carneros -we drove straight from the airport to this winery and I was giddy the entire time. This is my favorite winery and it specializes in still and sparking wine, with a French-inspired chateau and formal gardens. It is absolutely breathtaking and castle-like. I also can never turn down a glass of sparkling wine, as you all know! 🙂 Pair a tasting with their cheese and charcuterie board and you will not be disappointed! They also offer smoked salmon and caviar. We headed to Yountville after to go to a cocktail reception. Yountville has some of the best food in the area. I recommend Ciccio, Backstreet Kitchen, R + D Kitchen, or for something fancy try the famous French Laundry. Domaine Carneros also has a great sister winery in Yountville, Domaine Chandon.
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The next morning we casually woke up, as we needed to catch up on some sleep. If you want an active morning then I recommend a hike in the Napa area, a hot air balloon ride, or a nice run outside. Our first winery reservation was at 11:30 at The Hess Winery The drive to this winery was very scenic on winding roads. The winery itself was unique with a free contemporary Art Museum inside. They had many great wines in rare batches and our expert even offered me chocolate to eat with some reds….. I require a lot of daily chocolate! Overall, very fun experience and I recommend this winery if you don’t mind driving an additional 10-15 minutes.. promise it will be worth it!
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After several glasses of wine the famous Gott’s Roadside started kicking in our head. Burgers, ahi tacos, fries, a cold beer to break up the wine…. it’s hard for me not to stop at Gott’s when I am in wine country. It is a must!
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Next we stopped in Darioush Winery. It was suggested from a blog follower and they did not let us down.. thank you!! I always really appreciate the recommendations. This winery has incredible architecture and everything is built in a Persian Style. The grounds are manicured and lush while the inside seems like a fancy museum. You can sit at the bar for a tasting or have a more in-depth sit-down tasting by appointment. Plus who doesn’t like chasing wine down with some Persian pistachios?! First time for everything!
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On this trip we stayed at the River Terrace Inn, which was nice and very affordable due to hotel construction. I also recommend Vintage Inn or Carneros Inn for a bit pricier and worth it experience.
Other winery tips:
  • Bring your own blanket. It gets chilly and it is always nice to cuddle up in something from home!
  • Pack snacks. I recommend having some protein or granola bars in your bag at all times.. you never know when that wine is going to hit you! Carrots and apples are also a go-to winery snack for me.
  • Have a designated driver or hire a company for the day. No need to risk your life and others after a glass or two. Always better to be safe.
Here are a few other wineries that I love:
  • Hall Winery
  • Artesa Winery
  • Redmon Wines
  • Cakebread
  • Silver Oak
  • Frog Leap
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Thank you for adventuring, Wine Country and congratulations to one of my best friends on tying the knot to her prince charming! Isn’t she drop-dead gorgeous?!! ah!
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XX,
Blonde Boarding

A Weekend in San Francisco!

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Join us in the gorgeous San Francisco! Below you will discover our favorite spots to snap pictures, eat, and several of our favorite activities to do throughout the city. The famous fog will swallow you up and make you fall in love before you even know what hit you. We promise there is something for everyone here and we cannot wait to share it with you!

Great Picture Spots

The Ferry Building: After checking out the shops on the first floor, take the elevator to the lobby of the second and admire the impressive architecture. Fun note – The second floor offices millionaires and the third floor offices billionaires. We decided it was a good idea to network in the elevator.

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Billy Goat Hill Park: There is usually a swing that over looks the city on this hill. We were told by the locals that it’s a hit or miss because somebody continues to cut the swing down (so sad!). Luckily, the view is incredible with or without it!

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CityScape Hilton San Francisco Union Square: This is the hotel we called home for the weekend. Take Tower 1 to the roof to enjoy a birds-eye-view of SF. Woah!

Golden Gate Bridge: This is an obvious must! Though finding that perfect spot may take some adventuring. We wanted a unique and up-close view, so we hopped a fence at the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point and climbed down a hill to get here. We considered the rocky grounds well worth it. Tip: Park near Battery Spencer.

Sausalito: The harbors are what attracted us to this area! The drive to the beach is mystical with vibrant green grass and wooded areas. Find your cliff of choice to snap the perfect picture!

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Restaurants

Boccadillos: This wine and tapas bar left a lasting memory on our taste buds. They will make you fall in love with vegetables after one bite of their Brussel Sprouts! We also loved their empanadas. Of course we had their champagne… that’s just expected though, right?

Leo’s Oyster Bar: Their decorator gets a gold star, and their employees are one-of-a-kind! Such a great experience. If you like seafood, definitely make a trip to this restaurant! We had the Seafood Bisque with Lobster, King Crab and Rock Shrimp (so filling and so good!) and the Steelhead Trout. For drinks we ordered Betsy’s Buzz and the Garden Party (includes egg white – YUM!).

Activities

Baker Beach : Don’t miss this spot! It is right by the Golden Gate Bridge, in fact it has gorgeous views of the bridge. Make sure to bundle up, San Francisco does not offer your typical beach weather. We walked the beach in sweaters, of course barefoot though!

Golden Gate Park : We recommend checking this out right after the Golden Gate Bridge and Bakers Beach. It is a great spot for a walk, picnic, or to check out the two amazing museums inside the park!

Muir Woods : If you get worn out from the traffic downtown then escape to this redwood forest for a hike! San Francisco is full of hiking spots just a few miles away and Muir Woods is definitely one of our favorites when we need some fresh air.

If it is your first time in San Francisco then be sure to check out the famous tourist stops. We recommend the Painted Ladies, Dolores Park, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Warf and Ghirardelli Square!

Additional Tips

  • Fly into either San Francisco or Oakland. Both are about the same distance from the city and often very different flight costs. If you are not having luck then try San Jose airport.. it is an additional 30 minutes away from the city but worth it for a cheap flight!
  • If you rent a car, then be sure to stay off of your phone. California has a law against using your phone while driving.. even if it for directions (guilty!).
  • Stay patient and aware when driving in the city… traffic can be crazy! We walk anywhere we can.
  • If the weather wasn’t what you were expected and you need a warm escape then drive 45 minutes in any direction (except the ocean!) and it will be about 10-15 degrees warmer . We enjoy wine country to the North, Santa Clara and Big Sur to the South, and Berkeley to the East.

Next on our To-Eat List:

  • Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
  • Slanted Door
  • The Cavalier
  • Biergarden
  • Fog Harbor Fish House
  • Plow for brunch
  • Local Addition for a cocktail
  • Blue Barn for the spicy tuna salad
  • Park Tavern for brunch
  • Bouche for a romantic French meal
  •  Sol Food
  •  Southern Pacific Brew Co. for the funky atmosphere
  •  Burma Superstar for delicious Thai
  •  Bellato

Next on our To-See List:

  • Pace gallery in San Jose
  • De Young Museum located in golden gate park
  • Dolores Park to sun soak, lay out, and sip on some champagne
  • Lyon Street Steps for a morning workout
  • Kirby Cove to jump on the swing and take a pic with the Golden Gate

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Thanks for adventuring, San Francisco! On to the next city –

XX, 

 

 

 

8 Budget Travel Tips

Please enjoy our first guest post by one of our favorite travel experts, Swig Meets World! -XX

Budget travel is an art. When done properly, it can grant you a lifestyle of traveling 365 days a year. I have been working and traveling around the world for roughly 6 years now and my journey has taken me to over 60+ countries. My travels have ranged extensively; from budget to luxury travel and everything in between. I love all types of travel, and think that the only “correct” way to travel is the one that makes you happy. Once I made travel one of the top priorities in my life, everything else came together easily. While wandering around the world over the years, I have picked up quite a few budget travel tips.

Check out more of my Travel Photos on Instagram: @SwigMeetsWorld

#1 Watch Daily Expenses

The biggest concern for anybody who wants to budget travel is of course money. When you are living or traveling, it can be easy to succumb to wasteful spending.

The first thing that you will need to master to be a budget traveler are your daily expenses. If you can set a limit, whether that be $15 a day, or $50 a day, you can be sure that you will always be meeting your budget for the month. There are a lot of great free services that link up to your bank accounts and let you clearly see where your money is being wasted. One free service I use is called Mint, it is a great tool to help organize your budget.

#2 Quality Travel Gear

Not all travel gear is created equally, and just because something is expensive does not mean it is high quality. There are so many options for travel accessories out there, and it can be a bit overwhelming. I travel light, and only carry the bare essentials. This prevents me from buying unnecessary items on my trip, and I always put the extra savings towards experiences. My current bag is packed full for 1 year of travel, and weighs less than 10 KG (22 pounds). You can see my list of the best travel gear here.

#3 Save Money On Flights

This can be one of the biggest travel expenses. Thankfully, there are a ton of ways to save money on your flights. I highly recommend signing up for a cheap flight service like, Scott’s Cheap Flights. They send out massive flight deals and let you select which region you want to depart from. This is perfect for spontaneous travelers, and 100% free! For more information, check out my full review of Scott’s Cheap Flights.

If you have a more exact date for your travel, then I recommend using Skyscanner to help pick your destination. They have great feature that shows you the cheapest flights out of a city on your selected dates. Select your origin city, and then put “everywhere” for the “To City.” This will list the cheapest flights for your selected dates!

If you have a destination in mind, and your dates are not flexible, it is going to be hard to find a crazy deal. Try utilizing multiple search engines for the like Google Flights, Skyscanner and Momondo since they offer some of the best rates.

Multi-City

One other great tip I have is to book a “Multi-City” flight. A lot of times you can visit a new city or country for the same costs as your round trip ticket. I just recently booked an upcoming trip to Vietnam and decided to do a multi-city in Dubai. The ticket price is exactly the same, but now I get to visit Dubai for 3 days. I have used this trick to see a ton of amazing places like Fiji, Hawaii and Laos. Every major flight search engine has a multi city option that can be used to book a trip like this.

#4 Fly for Free

The majority of my flights are either free or extremely discounted since I book with frequent flier miles. There are many ways to accumulate miles, but one of the easiest ways is to open a credit card with a large sign-up bonus that includes a lot of frequent flier miles. Opening multiple credit cards can be scary, but if done correctly it can actually help your credit score. If you want to learn more about doing this, check out my 5 ways to fly for free.

#5 Stay For Free

There are a few great services out there that offer free accommodations. One of the most popular services is called Couchsurfing, and it is pretty amazing. Some of the nicest and most generous people I have met while traveling were through Couchsurfing. The main concept of Couchsurfing is focused more on sharing experiences with a stranger, than simply getting a free place to stay.

If you are looking for more privacy, then house-sitting might be an option for you. There are a few great services out there, but the best ones cost a small annual fee. The most well known site for house-sitting is called Trusted Housesitters.

Why not stay with a friend? You would be surprised at how many friends or acquaintances you might have around the world. One really cool tip I learned is to search on Facebook: “Friends living in city name here.” When you do this, it  creates a list of every one of your friends living in that specific city. This is great for meet ups, asking questions about what to do, or maybe even getting a free place to crash!

 

#6 Explore for Free

Practically every major city in the world has some type of free city tour offered. These tours are extremely popular in Europe. One of the big companies that offers free city tours is Sandemans. They provide free tours in over 18 cities worldwide, and they are simply incredible! The only catch is that you should tip your tour guide at the end if you enjoyed the tour.

#7 Location, Location, Location

Not every trip has to be an extravagant bucketlist adventure where you are skiing in the alps or on an African safari. There are so many places to see and do in your own backyard. Domestic travel or even local travel can sometimes be the most interesting. Consider taking a road trip, hopping a bus, or grabbing a train to somewhere not too far away. You might discover that these trips are some of the best that you can have.

#8 Don’t be TOO frugal

The travel community is full of some amazing people! Over the years I have met so many different types of travelers that come from all walks of life. Having the same common interests allows people to connect a lot easier and share their love of travel with one another. Budget travel is always a popular topic, but some people cross the line of frugality. I recommend having a budget, but there are some things that are worth breaking the budget on. I have witnessed many extreme budget travelers miss out on so many things, all because they didn’t want to pay for it.

Be smart with your money, but there is no point to traveling if you aren’t going to try the local food, explore the city, or experience what a new culture has to offer. There is a right and wrong way to budget travel. Like I said before, the only correct way to travel is the one that makes you happy!