Travel: Palm Springs Hikes

After four years, we made it back to one of our favorite spots: Palm Springs/Palm Desert, California. This trip was the first time we would be there for an entire week, normally we would just stay for 4-5 nights – which honestly is also plenty – but the extra few days for us was definitely a treat.

Since we were staying longer, I wanted to venture outside of our normal PSP vacay routine (which is eat, pool, drink on repeat) and find some hikes to venture out to. Indian Canyons was the first thing that stood out and often a handful of different hikes, plus it’s not far from downtown Palm Springs. And then I wanted to venture out to Joshua Tree Park, since it’s so widely talked about, but we’ve never officially gone – I found this neat Ladder Canyon Hike in Painted Canyon that looked super cool. Spoiler; we didn’t make it out to JTP – our desert-dwelling friends suggested another free hike, that was closer and thought we would enjoy more.

Selfie from the Josie Johnson Vista Park via the Carl Lykken Trail

Murray Canyon Hike

This is labeled as a moderate 4.7 mile hike and is an in and out hike. It cost us $26 to get into the ‘park’ which we were only expecting to pay $10 – so I was a little surprised about that, but the Murray Canyon Hike was worth it. If you want to make a day of it, I’d probably try to plan another hike to get a little more of your money’s worth, as we did not do that.

With temps supposed to get up into the mid-80’s, we made sure to get an early start, which isn’t hard since we were operating on East Coast time. We started our hike just before 9am, which was perfect because we beat the crowd. I would suggest 8:15 or 8:30am if you really want to get a jump on everyone. It took us an hour in and an hour back to complete this hike. It was definitely magical with little ‘air conditioned’ sections through palm tree jungled oasis with streams and mini canyons. There was also so scaling and parts of the trail that were a bit questionable, luckily we caught up with some people to mimic the way.

The end of the trail was just so lackluster – but the journey there is really what you should focus on, stop and soak in. You miss a lot of the same magic on the way out since you’re going the opposite way. But there were some incredible spots, especially the biggest waterfall.

Carl lykken trail (free)

This hike was recommended by our desert-dwelling friends, as it was right behind where they used to live! This free hiking trail is easy to spot, as you can count on a handful or more cars parked along the roadside at the trailhead. We definitely were underprepared for this hike, as we decided to keep going, beyond part 1 which was a short 40-minute steep incline to a picnic area known as Simonetta Kennett Vista Point. This first part was pretty much all uphill, had steep drop-offs while you scaled stone vs. dirt for a majority of the path. We wanted a bit more, so we kept going an additional 2-miles. 🙃 That part of the hike was fairly boring compared to part 1, and didn’t add for much more of a view, but got us additional steps and exercise! This hike is not shaded at all, so wear a hat, dose your body in sunscreen and pack a water bottle.

We ended up venturing to the Josie Johnson Vista Park, before heading back the way we came. Our hike ended with a total of 6-miles and 1,726 elevations climbed. Let me tell you, the mountains around Palm Springs are simply stunning – B and I definitely have a thing for mountain towns. Going down part 1 from the Simonetta Kennett Vista Point to the Lykken Trailhead, was tough on the toes as it is almost all downhill and steep!

Both hikes were super unique and really cool. The Murray Canyon trail took you through a magical desert oasis with views to soak in along the road – while the Carl Lykken Trail offered sprawling views of Palm Springs and the surrounding rolling mountains.

Looking for more Palm Spring adventures and mile long views? Check out my guide for visiting Palm Springs Aerial Tram (note this was written pre-pandemic and doesn’t include any new rules/restrictions). Happy desert living!

32 (Belated) Birthday Reflections

I had full intentions of getting this post up on my birthday, 11 days ago – but I embraced our desert vacay and shut off from all personal and professional work (at least 95% of it!).

And it felt so good.

One resounding reflection I had during my birthday week and over our Palm Springs vacay was just how necessary a trip like that is, for everyone – and just how good for the soul it is. And as much as I’ve always tried to do more that is good for the soul, it wasn’t until I was sitting poolside without a care in the world that I realized this was the ultimate good for the soul moment.

This past year I feel like I’ve made leaps and bounds in prioritizing my anxiety, mental and physical health – and I’ve noticed the resounding change in just feeling better. Although trust me, there are still plenty of weak and challenging moments – I know my anxiety is always looming in the shadows. Perfect example, on our travel home from our super relaxing and perfect trip – we had a layover, the airport was packed with people and I was instantly overcome with chest pain and anxiety which stayed with me for the rest of our travel and even into the next day being home. The switch flipped from vacay back to reality and my anxiety was right there to welcome me home.

But as I reflect on all those good moments from the vacay week, I just felt so content on my birthday and looking ahead. I want to continue riding the 2022 wave, do things we want to do, not be afraid, and start living life again – and continue to choose and prioritize those good for the soul moments. I also want to not be afraid to share my voice, opinions, grow confidence in myself, the decisions I make – and honestly stop caring so much what other people think (it’s really hard!). I hope 32 brings on lots of hosting in our new kitchen, slow moments and soaking life in. ☀️🌴🍹

To be able to spend a week in paradise with B, my person, was simply incredible. I felt beyond blessed, grateful and was so spoiled all week and had the best time taking a break from life, kitchen renovations, and the last 2-years.

Book the trip, rent the mustang, and order another cocktail. Here’s to 32! 💜🎉

Travel: Palm Springs Eats – part 2

One of our favorite things about travel and Palm Springs is all the good eats, cute restaurants, and different memories we create along the way. I will say, eating out in Palm Springs adds up quickly, I feel like everything is a minimum of $18 and goes up from there – another reason to make this trip a 4-5 day vacay instead of a full 7-days! But honestly, we never regretted any meals and got to try out a few new spots, while returning to our old favorites.

A few weeks before our travel to PSP, they dropped their dining in mandates/requirements – so we were able to enjoy a pre-covid kind of life, even though the next best thing about dining in Palm Springs is you can basically sit outdoors anywhere you go!

gigi’s – best experience

Gigi’s was our first dinner in Palm Springs – and honestly, it was incredible. As soon as we were seated by the hostess and offered complimentary champagne (to which we said, yes please) – the experience was great, the food was amazing, and the atmosphere was intimate and magical. Not to mention the service was so attentive and on point – we were so well taken care of by our server and the rest of the staff.

The cocktails were tasty and had their own unique twist. I ordered the How Cosmopolitan and it came out yellow but was so tasty and refreshing, I had to order a second one! B ordered Gigi’s Martini that was served with crispy fried olives – we have never seen that before and it was definitely a yummy treat. When we get back to Gigi’s I definitely want to try the Tea Snack Tower that they offer for their Hors D’oeuvres – because everything on that list looks unbelievable. We had the GiGi’s Onion Dip Bacon Powder with Waffle Chips and Caviar and the Pig In a Blankey Wagyu Beef Sausage with a Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Puree, Wellington-Style, served with a pink truffle mustard aioli (pictured bottom right). I ordered the Wedge Salad for my main dish, while B got the Charred Broccoli Waldorf salad and Crispy Brick Jidori Chicken, everything was amazing. Honestly, our only complaint was the Brussel Sprouts, they were not crispy and only offered big pieces of bacon. I’d love to try their brunch out next time we visit also, but 10 out of 10 at Gigi’s for us.

returning favES

In & Out Burger – We love this west coast chain. From the atmosphere, amazing customer service with friendly faces, double cheeseburgers, and animal fries – we had to hit up this favorite twice while we were in Cali. Not to mention we love supporting companies who don’t buckle to corporate America and the backward narrative.

Wilma & Frieda’s – This is another favorite, especially for brunch. We actually ate here three times – once at the downtown Palm Springs location and twice in the El Paso, Palm Desert location, which we prefer for the views and neighborhood. Ordering their homemade biscuits is a must! We also got to try some of their bakery treats, the W&F Bar was brought out to celebrate my birthday and it was incredible, we also tried their strawberry pop tart and that was incredible too. They also serve delicious and reasonably priced mimosas!

Tropicale – Another incredible spot with a great atmosphere, drinks, and delicious food. The way to go here is definitely small plates to share with the table – although the entrees are also delicious. Heading here early for a happy hour cocktail is also a great go-to, but reservations are a must as they fill up fast! The inside is definitely sexy, but the outdoor space is magical and pink.

Honorable mentions

Copley’s in Palm Springs – This is where we dined for my birthday dinner. Copley’s is known for its incredible and spacious outdoor dining space and offers mountain views. The garden walled entryway is a dreamy welcome and the trees throughout are also magical, as the sunset, the lights lit the patio for a truly intimate evening – luckily we could see our dinner! We started with the Chicken and Lemongrass Pot Stickers to share at the table, they were great. From there, B ordered the Ahi Tuna Special, which he loved and I got the Charred-Grilled Center Cut Pork Chop (pictured below). My favorite part of this, however, was being surprised with our desserts being lit with gold glitter candles that B snuck to the waiter for my birthday – I was so surprised, it was awesome!

The Pink Cabana – This is probably the cutest place we ate at and an influencer’s dream for those in-feed photos. Our family friends also picked and arranged this spot for us. I give the Pink Cabana mixed reviews. The champagne selection wasn’t my fave (but that is kind of a problem in California, IMO), and the appetizers weren’t the best – also sitting outside was great, but once it got dark we couldn’t even see our food, also our server wasn’t the greatest, I think we were too much fun for him. The main courses were however incredible, I got a Wagyu steak special that was served with mushrooms, broccolini, and sweet potatoes. B got the Pescatarian Tagine and only wished there was more of it – he also ordered the Hot to Trot cocktail which he enjoyed, but wished it was a little more spicey!

Starbucks Reserve – We of course had to stop at the Starbucks Reserve in downtown Palm Springs. Steps away from the Marilyn Monroe statue, we had no clue what to expect, but it was pretty cool. I was not expecting craft coffee cocktails (sans alcohol) basically – B ordered The Melrose, which was a cold brew shaken with cherry bitters, and topped with Bordeaux cherries (see the first photo, on the right).

Since being home we’ve gotten back into our gut-healthy eating lifestyle, but as I mentioned we love exploring and trying new food when we travel. From the endless patios, views, trendy spots, and unique food dishes we are always here for it.

B was definitely on an ahi tuna and spicy cocktail kick, while I was all about the meat and desserts. We also were able to dine with our desert-dwelling friends four times while we were in the desert and they are truly such great company, our dinners were filled with multiple cocktails, laughter, and delicious food – and honestly what is much better in life than that?

Check out our Palm Springs Eats – Part 1 from our last trip.

Ten Things About Bee

So apparently I unknowingly have this every three year blog post going, that I’m excited to share again. And you may be saying to yourself, what are you talking about? Well, in order to share a little bit about me, the bee, to my new and returning readers, I am tackling ten questions, while including my answers from 2015 and 2018 (see, every three years!). It’s sort of funny to see how things change, or not — but I may be in need of a few refreshed questions, so you’ll have to leave your ideas in the comments below!

Photo by: Michelle Loufman

Ok, are you ready? Here we go!

1. If money was no object, what’s something you’d buy right now.
2021: A house in Jackson Hole with a personal gym (see what I did there)
2018: A vacation or four… maybe a sports car.
2015: My own personal gym.

2. Spring vs. Fall?
2021: Fall baby.
2018: Still fall. 
2015: Fall – clam bakes, sweaters, pumpkins, coffee, jeans, scarfs, cool runs… shall I continue?

3. What’s on your nightstand?
2021: Pretty much the same as 2018 — lamp, picture frame, phone charger, ring holder, coaster, medicine….
2018: Lamp, ring holder, small vase with flowers, coaster & water glass
2015: Pictures of me and B and my glasses.

4. What’s your favorite room in your house?
2021: Our basement bath is pretty dreamy!
2018: Although our sunroom is still a gem, my new favorite room is our master suite (it was not finished in 2015!) … and our basement makeover (reveal coming soon!)
2015: Our sunroom!

5. If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?
2021: I think I want to bring someone back from the dead, but I’m not sure who. TBD.
2018: This one is tough, maybe some Bravo reality stars? RHOBH or Vanderpump!
2015: Too many choices…. it’s a toss up between Derek Jeter and Katy Perry

6. Name one thing on your bucket list.
2021: Hot Air Balloon Ride in Jackson Hole
2018: Travel to Europe
2015: Sky dive with B

7. What’s the best vacation you’ve taken?
2021: This past trip to Jackson Hole was pretty epic and special
2018: Our honeymoon to Palm Desert was a pretty great vacation
2015: Jackson Hole w/ B and my parents! The company makes all the difference.

8. Congratulations, you just won an all expenses paid trip to…
2021: Somewhere I wouldn’t think to travel that would totally blow me away like Bali.
2018: Lake Como & Greece
2015: Ireland & Germany

9. Backyard BBQ or Formal Dinner?
2021: A formal backyard BBQ!
2018: Same! But I do love a good meal out on the patio on a summer night.
2015: Formal dinner – I love getting dressed up, and sitting around the table sharing stories, good laughs and a bottle of wine.

10. What advice would you give your teen self?
2021: Be true to you, be bold, be brave, but also listen and learn with an open heart and open mind.
2018: Don’t let silly people affect you to the point of insecurities or anxiety – they do not define you, and there is a world of people out there that won’t tear you down.
2015: There is a much bigger world out there; explore it as much as possible, and even if you break away – there is still a bigger world beyond that.

Ok, that was still fun — but in all seriousness, I’m ready to shake up some questions & maybe even do another Q&A post in a couple months. What fun questions do you want me to answer? Comment below!

My 2021 Goals

Happy New Year! It’s that time again — that time to reset and refocus our energy, our priorities and look back at successes and even failures from the previous year, things we’ve learned about ourselves. And with that, it’s important to review your previous goals – and if you didn’t have any, you can only go up from here – so here is a quick update on how I did with my 2020 goals.

My 2020 Goals Successes: I paid off my credit card debt, before my 30th birthday — and even better, I’ve kept the credit card paid off. It’s so refreshing and freeing to have that under control. I also successfully completed one of my fitness goal of running 6-races, which proved more challenging because they all got delayed into Q4. We were also able to squeeze in one trip, which I will take for how 2020 went. And, I think that I fulfilled my goal of saying “No” which was also a bit easier, because you know, covid — and maybe one of the few things I’ll thank covid for.

Here are my goals for 2021:

Pay Off My Student Loans by December 2021. With the pandemic, student loans got a break with 0% interest among other things for most of the year — so I made sure to take advantage of that, while also paying more on my loans due to the money I’ve saved without having other expenses (car, gym, spa). With the help of my rain-man hubby, we’ve calculated for me to be on track and student debt free while I’m still 31! Being able to pay these off all by myself, while I’m still relatively young and 9-years post graduation is something I am truly proud of and fortunate to be able to do.

Monthly Volunteering. I unfortunately got out of dog walking volunteering, which I was doing almost weekly pre-covid. I then was trying to get a goal of at least monthly, which I was doing pretty well with, but the end of the year not so much. So my goal is to get back to that monthly volunteering for at least 2-hours, and then if things get better, I’ll start going more frequently. This will also help push me to do more “social” things without actually being social.

Good for the Soul. Focusing on things that are good for the soul and things I enjoy doing is going to continue to be a priority. Things like: Friends, travel, good food, bubbles, saying no, house projects, decorating, speaking my truth, reading, creating, dogs, sleeping in, and watching Bravo. Traveling is always a priority and on our to-do list (& oh so good for the soul), and we already have two trips outlined. This past year has also proven to enjoy the simpler things in life, like hanging out just B and I, playing games, listening to music and laughing the night away — hopefully we can just add a few more friends and family to that scenario.

Continue to Invest in Myself. This is both mentally and physically. Due to affect effects of covid, I’ve found that working out and staying healthy is going to be more of an effort, also sadly, because my former gym ended up closing last year due to financially hardships. So I’ve already started to purchase more at-home fitness equipment to help workouts become more attainable, without an excuse of not having equipment. Mentally, I’ve been needing to find someone to talk too since the spring. Again, I’ve made excuses not being able to find anyone that feels right — but I need to get it started. I spoke to someone in college and it helped immensely.

As you may have noticed, a lot of these goals, seem to be getting back to a normal life and piecing together the after effects from the pandemic (which BTW is still happening). And one of those biggies will be my fitness goals. I’ll be sharing those more specific goals on my upcoming Fitness Friday post — I think it’s important if you want your health and fitness to be a priority and is a personal goal, to make specific goals attainable and specific to fitness without just saying; “stay in shape” or “work out.” And I’ll be sharing my fitness goal failures too.

I also recently did one of those word scrambles, where you look at a bunch of letters and pull out the first four words you see. My four words were: Health, Family, Love and Strength. I think these are good mantra words to hold onto and focus for my new year — even if it’s a silly little internet thing.

What’re your goals? Share one or one of your focus words in the comments below!

Jackson Hole Food – Local Faves

Eating in Jackson Hole this vacation was definitely different than others! Luckily, when we were booking our condo, we made sure to get a place that had a full kitchen — as we planned to make a majority of our meals at our condo. We also wanted to make sure to support local shops, as this entire year has impacted on all levels — so I reached out to my cousin A, my OG JH partner in crime, for her recommendations and every single one of them was on point.

Cowboy Coffee Co. This is a popular spot, and surprisingly one we’ve never tried before! The wait was nearly 30-minutes to grab some coffee, so maybe order ahead, although it was definitely worth the wait. I was pleasantly surprised at our coffee from Cowboy Coffee Co., we probably would’ve been there almost every day, if the wait wasn’t as long as it was. You can order and ship their coffee online, so we just might be doing that to enjoy a taste of Jackson, because we did not make it back after our first time.

Pearl Street Bagels. YUM! Pearl Street Bagels is strictly take-out at the moment, which worked perfectly for us. They closed up their storefront to allow ordering via windows and a wait outside. We ended up stopping here two mornings, the first time we grabbed coffee and bagels to go, and went to sit out at a Teton look out and had an incredible breakfast view. B had the salt bagel with fresh herb cream cheese, and I got an everything bagel with their veggie cream cheese. The second time I went for the cinnamon raisin bagel with honey walnut cream cheese. I definitely preferred the everything bagel route, so my vote is that savory is the way to go! We also each got their ‘Shot in the Dark’ aka black coffee with a shot of expresso – also delicious coffee if Cowboy Coffee Co. is too busy for your liking.

Calico. Located closer to Teton Village, this spot looked so cute for a dining experience — I wish we would’ve planned to go for a warm day to sit outside. But, instead, we opted for drive-up take out for a contact-less experience and even better, incredible food. We enjoyed it so much that, we ended up going back for a second night for more and new things! The caesar and huidekoper garden salad’s were delicious, the entree size was perfect for leftovers for the next day. The side size, was also more than enough to have along with your main meal. We also got the Calico Garlic bread, both times, so good, and were even better with the side of two meatballs. The BBQ Chicken pizza was delicious, as we did a pizza and salad night the first time. Some how, I missed their signature double chocolate cake the first time we ordered, but didn’t the second – it was ah-mazing. Seriously, everything we got was delicious, I can only imagine how it would’ve been dining there and getting a taste of their cocktails.

Cafe Genevieve. This was our one and only dining out experience, luckily we were able to take advantage of a less than popular time (late afternoon) and snag an outdoor seat. We love Cafe Genevieve’s brunch, so although it was a little after 2pm, we ordered a bloody mary and mimosa to celebrate our arrival, as this was literally our first stop once we left the Jackson Hole Airport. We kept it simple and ordered their famous pig-candy bacon and then each got two eggs any style, which included eggs, more bacon, toast and the perfect amount of hash browns. This was also our first time dining ‘out’ since March, as we haven’t been back at home. It was weird, but relatively quick and delicious – as we definitely didn’t dilly-dally.

We definitely saved some money, as we did not dine as much as we would’ve — and saved on ordering drinks out, as we made one trip to the grocery store and liquor store when we first arrived and stocked up on what we would need for the week! We packed our lunches and snacks for our hikes and whenever we were out for the day, so we also saved there and made breakfast at the condo with coffee almost every morning too. There are so many more spots to explore, but for this trip, we kept it safe and got to-go for 99% of our meals!

Travel: Jackson Hole 2020 Highlight Reel

Well it’s been about two weeks since we’ve been back home and almost fully recovered from our incredible trip. Being out west in Jackson Hole, is just unreal. As soon as we landed, it was insane endless rolling mountain views any direction you turn and there was also a huge weight lifted. Waking up at our condo the first morning in Teton Village, was just pure happiness.

As I mentioned in my flight recap, we chose Jackson Hole, because it’s a familiar place. This was B and I’s third trip together and my eighth trip total. So that alone was super special, as I’ve been fortunate enough to essentially grow up going to Jackson Hole with my extended family, creating amazing memories. And now being able to come back with B, for a third time, is just so lucky. Jackson has truly been a safe haven for me, and always deemed a second home with my cousin A, and I couldn’t think of a better time, for when I needed to return to my home away from home than this year. As much of a city girl that I am, and I know my friends will agree, the mountains and Jackson bring out another part of me, it’s that feeling of being safe, feeling alive, and just plain happy. Ok, now queue the mini photo reel below from my years going to JH.

Throwback Reel:

With this being our third trip together, we knew there would be a lot of things we would be able to do safely, and we knew there would just be some things that wouldn’t be happening. We were also perfectly content being in our condo and planned accordingly from a food perspective and even packed our go-to games to have on hand (deck of cards, uno, and yahtzee – yes we are 100). Even still, we had another memorable trip with a lot of great moments, so instead of sharing every single one, here is our highlight reel.

B’s Highlights: Our first night, maybe 30-minutes after being at our condo, we cracked open bubbles/wine and were going to enjoy a happy hour on our little balcony. We were Facetiming with my parents and all of a sudden, B said something and points. And he is pointing at none other than a momma moose and her baby, casually walking by the walkway and over to some bushes for a little afternoon snack – not even 20-feet away from us. It was incredible! We were elevated and surrounded by deck, so we were at a safe distance to watch and admire these two beauties. It was a pretty awesome welcome.

B’s favorite activity was our impromptu Grand View Point hike around Two Oceans Lake and Emma Matilda Lake. We opted for the 4-mile hike towards Grand View Point vs. Emma Matilda, since we’ve ventured there before, so Grand View was a new one for us. We ended up hiking a bit longer than planned and probably rounded out at about 9-miles total — it was an exhausting day. The hike was good, until about the last mile that was just switchback after switchback and a stiff incline. The view was incredible of the Grand Teton range, and we finished up along Emma Matilda.

My Highlights: Our second night in Jackson, we headed up to The Deck on the Bridger Gondola from Teton Village for happy hour. They had mini bottles of my favorite bubbles, so we grab a few from the cafe and scored a bench away from everyone and soaked in the views and laughed the night away. B even teased me that he’s never seen me talk so much, I’m sure it was the bubbles talking a bit, and just being so happy to be in Jackson. We went another night for drinks, but it was a little later than the first time and we were welcomed by a stunning cotton candy colored sunset.

I also really enjoyed our hike around Colter Bay – it was quiet and peaceful and had incredible views of the mountains along Jackson Lake. We took our time exploring and enjoying the views, including finding a nice little spot along the lake for a lunch break. Another highlight of mine, was visiting the Geraldine Lucas-Fabin homestead, established in 1913, this cabin has unobstructed views of the Grand Tetons and is a quiet, off the beaten path spot — we had the whole place to ourselves. I was just so content sitting on her front porch, listening to the trickling of the Snake River and soaking in the mountain views.

We made sure to stop at the go-to spots that are always a must see including the T.A. Moulton Barn which we stopped back for a second time to see it snow covered. Yes! We got a taste of winter on our second to last day there, and woke up to 6-inches of snow — it was absolutely beautiful and felt like a winter wonderland, although the wind storm that brought the winter weather definitely did some damage and took down trees throughout town and even on popular hiking trails.

We also stopped briefly at Jenny Lake, but only at a look out for a quick peak and some photos – as this was definitely a very popular stop, and way to busy for our liking. We even avoided visiting town, except for early mornings and made sure to be in and out to avoid the masses for popular hours like lunch or dinner especially over the weekend. Traffic alone around town and even getting into the park at times was really backed up, I’ve never seen it like that before — even visiting in prime summer season in years past.

We also made sure to wake-up one morning to watch the sunrise at Schwabacher Landing which is another well photographed spot that showcases the Tetons in a reflection of the Snake River. We also got to watch an Elk while we snapped photos of the sunrise, he was in prime photo position and showing off his rack – it was also like 30-degrees at sunrise that morning, so we didn’t stay too long! Speaking of wildlife, we were super fortunate to see our fair share of Moose, obviously our first day, but then we would see a few in the pond along the windy Moose-Wilson Road. One morning, we stopped and probably watched a moose for about 40-minutes, as she ate in the pond, made her way across the pond, up the ridge and right up to the look-out with all of us onlookers! We also saw two bears – one swimming at Oxbow Bend and the other again on the winding Moose-Wilson Road because she ran across the road right in front of us! We were able to watch her along side the road for a bit before she headed further in. We of course saw a few distant herds of Buffalo, and a few Elk in the wee morning hours before when we were headed to our sunrise spot.

We almost perfected our tri-pod selfies during our trip. It was something I decided to purchase once we booked our trip, knowing we would primarily be solo and in need of some good couple shots with the gorgeous backdrops that are ever changing and never ending. Although, we were those people, who when we did ask for a photo to be snapped of us by a stranger, had our masks on and hand sanitizer was out and shared! I know people were looking at me like I was a crazy pants, but hey we still have to be smart and safe. We were also the people on hikes who had our masks on when we passed people, and got way out of the way — again I know our fellow hikers were looking at us like we were being extra.

Jackson is always someplace I dream about visiting and getting back too. It’s always a place that makes my heart melt and makes it so full at the same time. Jackson is a place we will always go back to, because as I mentioned it is near and dear to my heart, with many thanks and gratitude to my extended family for incredible summer vacations. Until next time, I miss the mountains already…

Traveling During A Pandemic on an Airplane

So B and I did a thing. We went on vacation… in 2020, can you even? I know, very controversial and even more so because we got on an airplane. So I’m going to break it all down, from our decision making process, why we decided to, and how it was from checking in, boarding and being on the plane itself. Although, I would also like to clarify and confirm – we’ve been quarantining since we’ve been home for a total of 14-days (Day 12, today!). And just because we traveled in a more controlled environment, we still have certain feelings about doing other social things during this time and the amount of people we see — that may make us hypocrites 🤷🏼‍♀️, but we look at each situation differently, including our decision to fly.

Our Decision Making Process & Why. This was not an easy decision and a bit of a rollercoaster. It started mainly because we had a trip planned in March for my birthday – aka prime corona shutdown time. So we were able to get a flight voucher and our hotel accommodations as a hold for a future trip. Initially our flight voucher was set to expire by the end of the year. Obviously as this pandemic has persisted, airlines have adjusted policies and have also taken a huge hit overall (airports included). So we always had a thought that we might “need” to go somewhere before the end of 2020. Long story short, we attempted to plan this trip for three different timeframes, and backed out the first two.

Finally, the flights to one of our favorite destinations – Jackson Hole, Wyoming – were too good to pass up. In all transparency we’re used to paying $600+ per person, and our flights were about $640 round trip for both of us – which also happened to be just a little over our flight voucher from our March trip. So to be able to go to Jackson Hole for the same price we were going to spend going to Philly, seemed like a no brainer. We also chose to go to a place we were familiar with, a place we had a feel for where to go, where not to go, where we to stay, and knew that we could do things for the most party socially distant and avoid crowds once we arrived. I also didn’t want to regret not taking a trip to a place that is so special to me.

Weighing the pros and cons of getting on an airplane was another factor. I’ve been pretty open about my anxiety this pandemic has brought onto me. Booking the trip gave me anxiety, thinking about getting on a plane and being around people gave me anxiety (still does), and flying on the airplanes gave me anxiety. BUT, I know the safety precautions being taken by the airlines both for passengers and from a cleaning perspective have only increased — and I know others who have flown and have said nothing but positive things. Plus airports and airlines have made wearing face coverings mandatory, so if we’re all wearing masks, we are all helping each other out, right? 

How It Was. We had an early morning flight out to Jackson Hole by way of ORD (Chicago). We flew American Airlines, again because that was who our flight voucher was with, unfortunately American (and United) don’t keep the middle seat open. Knowing this, we ended up paying for our seats a few days before our flights to ensure we were next to each other and pick where we felt comfortable being – since we had ‘Basic Economy’ seats. Also knowing this, B was a trooper and sat in the middle seat while I was in the window seat. Two of our four flights were only two seater planes, so it was a moot point, but we were still able to sit with each other!

Checking In & Security. We wiped down the touch screens at check-in, but going to an attendant to help us was available too, as it wasn’t very busy. Going through security there were helpful floor dots to designate a 6-ft distance, so it was easy to maintain. When you show TSA your boarding pass and ID, they will ask you to pull your face mask down so they can see your full face, to check your identity – so don’t be alarmed! Otherwise, everything was pretty normal.

Layovers. We had two longer layovers in the much busier airport of ORD. But we found that sitting in the airports waiting for our flights, that we were able to maintain a pretty good distance from people – a bit harder in Chicago – but still attainable. For the most part people wore their masks while waiting, unless they were eating/drinking, but there were definitely a few noses sticking out, and although face coverings are required in ORD, there were a few entitled people who sat/walked around without.

Boarding. Boarding was another story, as there definitely wasn’t 6-ft. distance maintained, but everyone had their masks on and seemed somewhat aware of their surroundings – we boarded in the last group, so we also hung back and let everyone else get on first. Gate agents were also great about asking passengers to adjust their masks or put one on before they scanned boarding passes. Getting on our flights, we were able to grab sanitizer wipes that were provided by the flight attendants upon entering the aircraft, for our shorter trips from CLE to ORD. For our longer flights from Chicago to Wyoming, we received pre-packaged snack bags when we boarded that included a little water bottle, snack bag (pistachios/pretzels) and sanitizer wipes.

On the Flights. Obviously we weren’t able to be socially distant on the flight — but it was clean on the plane, even though we also wiped down our seat area with our own cleaning wipes. And, since there wasn’t inflight food/drink service, it appeared that most people kept their masks on and minded their business plus, bonus, no one seemed to be sneezy or coughy around us. So besides being a little squished (B especially) we felt good and fine on the flight. I also double masked, a paper one underneath my fabric one — which made me feel a little more protected, even if it was purely mental.

COVID Packing Tips. Fun fact, TSA is allowing 12oz hand sanitizer in your carry on which is over the normal liquid limit — you can also pack a full size tube of disinfectant wipes in your carry-on, just make sure to pull out from your bag when you go through TSA! This was huge being able to have for our condo and just an extra set on hand, especially for our long travel days.

Nothing beat the feeling of seeing the Grand Tetons for the first time from the airplane – I literally started crying I was so happy. And not because I was happy to get off the plane (I mean I was), but I just couldn’t believe we made it! It has been 4-years since our last trip to JH and ironically, which was when we were attempting to plan our wedding, so it was surreal to be back and in a safe place I like to call home especially in this crazy year.

Questions about our airplane travels? Leave a comment below!






*This year has been unprecedented for all of us, as we have all learned to navigate this “new normal” and we can all agree, that everyone does that differently, based on what they’re comfortable with and what feels OK to them. So, before you go and judge – let’s all just remember this whole year has affected a lot of us differently and we’re all just trying to survive, the best we can

Fitness Friday 09.20 – My Hike Life Lesson

As I was sitting and thinking about my monthly Fitness Friday post, my first thought is that I haven’t put in much work this month because of our trip and now quarantining post trip. But then, I thought about our trip and the good and hard hikes we took, and the one came to mind as a perfect example of life lately and often how our fitness journey’s may not always be perfect — so I thought I’d take a moment to share.

Before our trip out west, B and I put together a list of must-do’s that we wanted to make sure we accounted for! One of B’s absolutes was hiking Mt. Rendezvous – which is a hike we’ve done before. It’s a tough one — I instantly thought back to the first time we did it with my dad, the path wasn’t clear, we did some extra back and forth and it was long, with a decent elevation climb. I was instantly having doubts we wouldn’t be able to do it again, just the two of us. But the fun part about this hike is the waffle place at the top, which is the perfect post-hike treat and you get a free ride down from the Tram!

Our plans shifted slightly, as the Tram hasn’t run all summer due to the pandemic, meaning the waffle stand wasn’t open at the top, but instead shifted down to the Bridger Gondola stop where The Deck is (a popular sunset happy hour spot). So we decided to hike to the Bridger Gondola vs. the top of Mt. Rendezvous. Luckily for us the trails leading up are better marked since the last time we were there over 4 years ago and we could still get waffles and catch a gondola ride down from the Bridger Gondola spot! So after having our plan in place, we set our day to do the hike.

Now back to the meat of the story! We woke up early the morning of our hike to head to a popular sunrise spot to see the Teton’s in a reflecting spot of the Snake River (which was incredible!) — so we had a leisurely morning after that and I personally was pushing off our hike. But we finally got started just after the lunch hour, knowing we had at least 2 hours of hike ahead of us, and wanted to make sure we could catch the gondola down!

We started and the first mile or so was just incline, after incline, after incline — we had no breaks and I got gassed early on. It was hotter than I planned too, so I let the mental battle of defeat and my body feeling defeated get the best of me and I couldn’t stop complaining. I kept having to stop, catch my breath, blow my nose (allergies were on point out west), and continue to complain — B was not having it. But we kept going, and although B said after complaint #40, “Ok, we can turnaround.” — I quickly said “No!,” and kept hiking. I’m not sure if it was from that point on or just continuing to push through the discomfort and doubt… but after awhile my attitude and negative thoughts shifted and went away. I didn’t even notice it, we just kept going, took breaks when we needed, soaked in the views and chatted along the way.

Spoiler: We made it to the top! But the point of sharing this story is there are times when we just plain don’t want to do anything. When we don’t want to workout, don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to adult or feel like we can’t. Those times when we already write ourselves off and consider something a failure — before it’s even done. This whole year has sort of felt like that, the whole year has just felt like a wash, I’ve heard it from many people, it’s been more of let’s get through this year and then we can go back to normal and do all the things next year.

But, when we got to the top, I felt so accomplished, I did it, B and I did it together! And it was pushing through the negativity and setting out to finish something we talked about doing no matter what. And it felt good! I was exhausted, but after awhile the pain and discomfort became part of the hike and something I worked with, until it wasn’t a thing anymore. This hike in a beautiful place taught me a little lesson, and that is to not write off defeat before it’s ever really started.

We’ve all been pushed around and down a lot this year. That’s why we need to remember and continue to celebrate our victories when we prevail through our own mental beatings and push through the physical pain. And we need to remember and acknowledge the fact that we are strong and can push through the pain, discomfort and doubt to accomplish goals — even if that is one day at a time, one workout at a time, or one hike at a time. And maybe, this year won’t completely be a wash.