Travel! Slump! Blog! New Orleans!

Everything seems so attainable when you’re planning an adventure of a lifetime. You look at your options, you make goals and you set your budget. But when these things become a reality rather than a 2 dimensional image in your head or on the computer; there seems to be a lot less time and/or motivation in your life.

I don’t know if this relates to you but personally, I often become grossly motivated about things in my life, all passion in… it starts out fantastic! But then I’m easily distracted or I feel that if I can’t offer what was first offered, I can no longer continue what I’ve begun (It has to be the same or better!!).

SO, as it stands, this has happened with the blog over the last few weeks I’ve found it hard to sit a sift through copious amounts of images, places spaces, times, dates. Even though Hayden and I are working on this blog together it seems we have both been pre-occupied with exploring, relaxing and recharging. The original goal of writing a blog post everyday NEVER happened and the second goal of writing one at each destination travelled withered up after Texas. Believe it or not travelling can really take it out of you! But the thing that brings me cowering back to share some more of our adventures is the fact that I actually enjoy it. But an even greater motivation is the fact that we’ve had friends and family tell us that they can’t wait to read about the rest of our adventures! This is extremely encouraging.

SO after that massive rant… I know there are no excuses and we are grateful for those of you who have supported and encouraged us on our journey and we hope you will continue to be there as we get ready to begin the second part to the adventure (which is moving overseas to London if you’ve missed it!), so thank you.

Enough babble from me just a quick catch up on some of the amazing places we have journeyed. After Texas we headed to the state of Louisiana driving in to Baton Rouge to check out a music store. Hayden took his basses in to the shop and showed off his handy work (he made both his basses from scratch) and then we ended up buying Hayden an Aguilar SL112 Bass Cab. Turned out to be a fantastic price and was one of the lower sales taxes. This is an incredible piece of equipment weighing only 11 Kg it has a great sound and we’re really happy we got it as Hayden has been hanging out to get it for a while and we sold his old gear before we left. Anyway after that we continued our way to New Orleans and found our accommodation which was a bed and breakfast Creole Gardens it may not look like anything flash but it is an amazing little place with so much character, love, colour and really it holds the essence of New Orleans! It’s also in a fantastic location, as it is within walking distance to the French Quarter but if walking is not your thing the streetcar is just one street over. And one more thing… The breakfasts are amazing! fresh flowers on the table everyday, a variety of fruits, yoghurt, bagels, cakes, bread, juice, coffee and a hot breakfast is also provided. The ladies that run the kitchen are also warm, friendly and hilarious! Anyway after lugging all our cargo up the stairs to our cute little room, we headed out to have a peek at the New Orleans night life in the French Quarter. After a bit of a walk around we had a late dinner at Jimmy’s Cafe and started to walk back to Creole Gardens, it took about a 20 minutes.

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That was the general gist of our time in New Orleans we spent a lot of time listening to music, eating food, looking at art galleries and walking around exploring! It felt like every nook and cranny was filled with life, music and celebration.

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There is also the harsh reality of homeless people and it is still pretty visible the damage that happened from Hurricane Katrina. I still struggle to know how I want to deal when I’m confronted with these situations but that’s for another time!

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friedchilnolaYes… this does say, “I will wrestle your mother In-Law for fried Chicken or $1.”

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streetsThe Buildings are just incredible here!

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haydrhiOn the steam boat ride!

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beignets Beignets and hot chocolate at Cafe Du Monde,

In NOLA we tried our first taste of buffalo wings, listened to an amazing musicians, we went on steam boat ride on the Mississippi which included a live jazz band and authentic NOLA food, We ate incredible pizza, Frozen Yogurt, visited Edgar Degas’ house, spent a lot of time on Frenchmen St (just outside the French Quarter),  met personality on top of personality, ate beignets, hung out at amazing record stores and I shaved my head ( this post is already getting long so i’ll show this in another post!). SO that in a nutshell was our experience in NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana)!

Thanks for reading

Rhi and Hayden Xx

t -t -t -Texas

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We know it’s been a while since we’ve done a post, but due to poor internet service and having, um… way too much fun… it’s been hard to sit down and get a blog posted, watching a page continuing to load, not seeing images and then finally getting a result of a torn in half sad face piece of paper can be frustrating!! So as we have a few blogs in draft, now that the internet will allow us to post we can finally share what we wrote about Texas! We hope you enjoy and we also thank you for reading! Remember to leave a comment if you’d like!

When you think Texas, most people think BIG! Well that’s what we imagined anyway. Many people who we had met on the way had explained/described Texas as huge flat and boring to drive through. Well we arrived in the ‘Lone Star State’ after our Santa Fe adventure. Amarillo was our first stop, just a one night stop to break up the long drive to Dallas. As we start to get to the outskirts of the town it even starts to smell like cowboy (that isn’t a good thing) before we actually see or hear any!

It was so hot when we got out of the car at Amarillo so we quickly got into the aircon. There wasn’t too much to  explore here and it really stunk like cow manure so we decided to hang out indoors to get rested up for the drive on to Dallas tomorrow.

Driving days. There isn’t usually much to write about these. But we drove. For about 5 hours. Exciting times! We arrived in Dallas at about 5.30pm to Janell’s home! One of our friends from our home church is originally from Texas and Janell is her mum and we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet her and spend some time in her beautiful home. We had a nice relaxed evening just chatting with Janell and playing with Emmitt (her awesome dog).

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(I can’t describe how much I loved Janell’s home! Every part had a lot of love put into it! I’m not sure if it’s just because we’ve been in a lot of impersonal hotel rooms, but I really appreciate how: personality, love, history and  unforgettable stories abide in these beautiful walls!)

The next morning we awoke to an amazing homemade breakfast that Janell had prepared for us, with fruit, yogurt, eggs and some turkey bacon (which is a fake “healthier” bacon, a weird but good experience)!

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We then headed out to Fort Worth to check out the old part of town and see how this cowboy thing works. As soon as we got out of the car we saw a Texas Longhorn (see the pictures) and Rhi had to get a photo on it! We then spent some time walking around the stock yards.

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After a bit of a walk around, we headed to a Mexican restaurant “Joe T. Garcia’s” for an epic meal! I must say at this point, the food and the service in the states is amazing! The Australian hospitality industry needs to get the manual on quality prompt service!

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We headed back to Janell’s after our Fort Worth adventure and took a dip in the pool. So very refreshing! Perfect way to the end the day.

The next morning we were planning to go swap over our hire car as the oil service light had come on, and as we have another 2500+ miles to drive we decided it would be a good idea to change it over. After a lengthy wait we finally got a Jeep Cherokee. It was rubbish compared to the Ford, but that it didn’t take long for that to sort itself out. We drove about 17 miles in the Jeep to the Rainforest Cafe for a rather late lunch. After a walk around and a dash of shopping we got back in the car, turned the key to see the words “oil service due.” Hallelujah! We headed back to a different Alamo and got ourselves back into a Ford Escape! Yes!!!

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Our last sleep in Dallas was fantastic, followed by another awesome Janell breakfast. We then got a tour of the incredible craft room, before Janell took us out to show us “Central Market” which is an incredible grocery store. We were greeted with some freshly cooked artichoke to taste, amazing! This grocer just continued to blow our minds with the products they had. So many different sections so many speciality areas (something that always draws us in!) SO much gluten-free, organic local produce as well as imported goodness, loose grains that you scoop up and bag your self, fresh bread, pesto flowers… ahh it is endless but time was running out! So, once we had explored Central Market we headed to lunch at “Whiskey Cake.” a warehouse style”kitchen bar” where everything is made from scratch. The food we had been deliciously fresh!! We tried out some fried green tomatoes for the first time, and although they may not sound appetising and may not be everyone’s sack of taters, they were rather divine! We were much to excited to take any photos here.

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Once lunch was done we headed back to Janell’s to pack our car and get back on the road, heading to Austin. Our time in Dallas was absolutely awesome! a big BIG thanks to Janell for her hospitality and opening up her home for us!

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So off to Austin we go! The university city. After our few hours on the road we arrived, checked in and headed back out to find some dinner.

At this stage of the journey we are really starting to feel the weariness from all the driving. Over 4000 miles driven! So we enjoyed some sleep ins in Austin!

We did a bit of exploring, especially in music stores. Visited a couple of vintage guitar shops (they were a bit of a let down to be honest, especially as Austin is “the music capital of America”) we were also looking for the new bass amp! No luck just yet. Our day of exploring was followed up with some awesome Italian food!

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Home to bed we went for some sleep before heading to Houston in the morning.

The drive to Houston wasn’t so bad, until we got close to the edge of the city and then it was traffic jams the rest of the way! Once we checked in we headed out for a bit of a look around. After buying some more goodies from some outlets we went to find some dinner and stumbled across another Mongolian grill!!! Decision made (can’t get enough of that fresh vege goodness!!)!After a wonderful dinner we headed back to the hotel to try get some sleep, as tomorrow brings New Orleans, LA!

Much Love

Hayden & Rhi

p.s At the end of this I have to say, Texas blew away my poor and boxed in expectations (which I so often try NOT to have!) I would go back to this beautiful state in a heartbeat! xx

 

Awkward America

So this is a little side post from our travel memoir, just something I’ve been gathering for myself to remember but then thought why not post it on the blog? Now we’ve been here for a little while now so most of these habits are less prevalent than thy were when I started collecting these moments ( I promise)! Sometimes when you’re travelling you aren’t 100 percent, all the time conscious and thinking about cultural differences. This means you can do or come across some awkward things. Just incase you were wondering… this is Rhi. I’m fairly sure Hayden wont want to be associated with some of these things. But we all make mistakes… so I’m not ashamed!

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1. Take Away

So one evening after driving from Denver to Westcliffe and hanging out with elementary students then driving to Colorado Springs we were feeling pretty tired. (If you’d like to find out more about that follow this link Wandering, Waffles and Westcliffe Colorado Part 2)  we decided to order some Dominos since it was advertised in our room. Hayden always makes me do the calling stuff and I hate it so much,but I do it cause I love him. I feel awkward because I have no idea who I’m talking to and I take a little while to warm up to people cause believe it or not (most people  choose not to) I am actually shy! Anyway so I call Dominos to order a gluten-free pizza. The phone rings and all of this adrenaline builds up within me.

Dominos person: Good evening, welcome to Dominos. How can I help you?

Me: Hi I was wondering if you could order some pizza? I mean I could order some pizza? (person instantly thinks I’m an idiot).

Dominos person: What would you like?

Me: I’d like a vegetarian pizza on a gluten-free base, take away please.

Dominos person: I’m sorry                                                                                              

Me: I’d like a vegetarian pizza on a gluten-free base, take away.

*Dominos person:  I’m sorry, take away?

*Me: Yes please, take away.

Dominos person:  I’m sorry, take away?

Me: Yes please. (* continue this a few more times)

Dominos person:  so would you like this as eat in or take out?

Me: ohhhh Take out!

Dominos person: Pick up or Delivery?

Me: delivery please. (had this question been asked earlier this would’ve been less painful!!)                                                                            

One word difference, take away/take out, causing so much pain. All we wanted was a pizza.

2. 10 instead of 1

It’s always accepted that it will take some time to get used to foreign currency. But I have travelled to America before… so it’s not like I’ve never been here before. Considering here a 10 cent and a 1 cent are the same size, I find myself fumbling around to get out the correct change while people are standing in a line behind me clearing their throats or looking over my shoulder. This resulted in me always giving the whole of the final total for example $6.71 would end up being either $7 or $10 or $20 or whatever! You get the idea! This ends with a GIANT coin collection, a  wallet that isn’t fat from a lot money in value, but physically fat!

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3. Saying WOW with both Delight and Disgust

Every time I order a fresh lemonade or an Iced tea and it turns out bigger than I expect I can’t help but vocally express my surprise and the mixed emotion of delight because it costs $2 they give you free refills (which I never need) and disgust because on tables around me individuals have consumed at least 3 of these beasts! and it’s not just drinks… it’s almost EVERYTHING!

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4. Danced with multiple people

Because of my hard-earned habits of sticking to left on a pathway out of respect and courtesy; I have found myself tango style, face to face, with a lot of strangers doing that awkward dance we all love. I’ve been working hard to make a right conscious effort but sometimes I am just way to pre-occupied with the sights (Typical annoying tourist!) which results sometimes in a “You got served” dance off.

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 5. Ordered Chips.

Here chips mean something else. All I really wanted were some good old hot chips! French Fries! But here…. Chips = Lays/ thins/potato chips.

 6. The Parrot.

Ever spoken to someone who has a foreign accent to you? Well you may have done this! I often find myself mimicking a person’s accent after they’ve asked me a question. I am amazed at how many different accents there are over here but sometimes it’s not just an accent it can be an attitude (cue click above head, duck lips and a head circle, with hips stuck out, mmhhhmm) I just can’t help it! I love people and I love mannerisms I just soak it all in like sponge!!

7. Toilet bowl.

If you’ve been here and you are originally from Australia you would have noticed how HIGH the toilet water is here. Now I don’t want to get too descriptive because I’d love people to keep reading this. BUT, I guess you can use your imagination when I add these words to the title: “Dipped my Hand in the…” and yes if you’re curious it was after I had gone. Not only Awkward and embarrassing but just ewwww. Don’t worry I learnt from this one quickly!!

I know it’s an odd number to leave it at and I probably do many other things. But for now this is what I have observed of myself.

No matter where you are in the world it’s hard to lose where you were born and where you come from, and to be honest I don’t ever what to do that! But it’s also important to learn about  and respect a cultural habits in the place you’re visiting. Try not to be too much of a tourist (well I try).

Much Love Rhi x

Santa Fe, New Mexico

So our time in Colorado has almost come to an end! Sadly this means goodbye to the snow-capped mountains, but it also means, hello once again to shorts and t-shirts!

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We got up for some more wafflicious goodness before getting on the road! Another gorgeous day for a drive down out of the mountains… Or so we thought. You see we were headed for Santa Fe, NM and well is the highest [altitude] state capital in the USA, at 7,260ft! For those in Australia, that is 15m lower Mt Kosciuszko… Crazy!

Side note: If you are deciding to do any travelling to incredible places like these here is a tip, drink MORE water than you have ever drunk before!!! We kind of just cruised into Colorado not really expecting to be majorly affected but we learnt quickly as our bodies were begging to be more hydrated! we went through a pack of 26 water bottles at about 600ml each in about 2 days! that’s just  over 15.6 Liters and about 7 each a day. There are also tips here that Denver and Colorado Springs visitor websites give you about being aware of the effects of high altitude! 

So off to New Mexico we go, about a 4.5 hour drive. The driving does start to get a bit boring after a while, the road is looking flat and dry, there are mountains but far in the distance. Nothing like they past few days of scenic driving but we are thankful that we have such a comfortable car with a pretty decent stereo, so we have been enjoying a few tunes while we have been on the road. I guess later on at some stage we will make a list of some of our favourite road trip tunes/inspirations for some of our original stuff.

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We were pretty excited about what lay ahead with Santa Fe, known for its arts and native crafts and pretty awesome architecture. After the long drive and a couple of stops we arrived at place recommended to us by Janell (a friend we will later stay with) called Tesuque Village Market. Wow! It is a little cafe/market just on the side of the road in one of the outer suburbs of Santa Fe. At first we when we got out of the car we were a little unsure, it felt a little dodgy… but then we walked into the place and it was really cool!

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So  we got some delicious Mexican-esque food before having a bit of a browse around.  What makes this place even cooler that just looks is that they serve and sell mostly organic/all natural foods that are  locally grown. Nothing they serve from the kitchen is GM. It is all natural foods which can be a little hard to find in America and then they also SELL their own organic products in a little market! Loved this place so much, it is a must if you visit Santa Fe, it’s nothing fancy but it’s a whole lot of spicy good food! After some food we then headed out  to find where we were going to sleep for the night. After unpacking the car and getting settled we decided we needed some dinner from Tesuque Village Market too. So we ordered some incredible wood fired pizzas, yum! After our amazing feed sleep was calling so we could be rested for a fun day of exploration tomorrow!

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To old Santa Fe town we headed to check out what this place is about. So many amazing looking buildings and interesting places. The first place we visited was an old little mall, with some cute little shops in it, including a pretty awesome boot shop. We then headed into a shop called Keshi that contained special rocks, carvings and jewellery made by the Zuni Pueblo People a native American tribe. Everything was hand-made it was amazing! Something great about this place is that it was all about the fair trade of these native crafts and handiwork, the price we pay is what the artist/craftsman has requested and is what they receive.

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We continued to walk around the town square checking out all the little shops ( I just adore seeing different people and the way they like to present themselves and their shops!). As we came down our last stretch of the Plaza Square we walked through what looked like a flea market. Earlier in one of the shops we visited we had a conversation with one lady earlier who was part native indian and she discussed with us how there are a lot of shops that claim to have authentic pieces but have a lot of stuff shipped in from Asia with replica pieces and how if it is authentic these shops rip off the artists. she then said it’s sad because it turns out that they resort to selling their work on the street, selling their work like this isn’t the sad part but the fact that they sell their stuff at low prices and people still bargain them down and often leave to sell the pieces bought for a much higher price somewhere else! We bought a copper and onyx ring from a man and talked to him about his work and it was really nice to be able to share that time with him. It’s amazing the people you meet when travelling it’s so exciting!!

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Anyway, lunch was calling so we headed into a place called Thunderbird Bar and Grill for some epic nachos! (We were told to go to the Plaza Cafe, but it was unfortunately full) After that we grabbed some ice cream, before heading back to the car to get on the road to Amarillo, TX. On the way back to the car I snuck into the 2nd shop we visited “Keshi” and bought Rhi some earrings! Now just the 4 hour drive to Amarillo! Texas here we come.

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I love them (this is Rhi!) The artists who made these are husband and wife team who make their jewellery with a story of love. The stone in them is amazing and it’s called Sonoran Sunset and it gets this name because of the blend of colours it often comes with. You may find this stone with red/orange the bluey/green and black. The blue/green is Chrysocolla, the red is Cuprite, (but it also has Chalcotricite, which is the orangey red), and the black is Iron. It is known as Sonoran Sunset or Sonoran Sunrise. The mostly solid red cabochons are sometimes called Crimson Cuprite.  It was so cool to learn about the origin and story of these! Anyway off to Texas the GIANT state.

We had a fair few assumptions about Texas already, from what we’ve been told by people, the media and our imaginations…  so it will be interesting to see how those assumptions turn out!

Much Love.

Hayden & Rhi

Wandering, Waffles and Westcliffe (Colorado Part 2)

Good morning BLUEBERRY waffles! How can I say no, especially after no horrible gluten related reactions!? Once breakfast was consumed we headed back to the room to shower, brush teeth, pack bags and all that fun stuff.

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Next Stop: WESTCLIFFE! (I’m guessing most people reading this blog are from back home in AUS, so you may not know where Colorado Springs is, so you certainly will have no idea where Westcliffe is…) anyway, nine years ago, (far out!) I [Hayden] am so old, I had the incredible, life-changing experience of being a Rotary Exchange Student (if you have the opportunity to do this, or for your child to do this, I HIGHLY recommend it), to the country with the best education system in the world, Finland! During this year I met some amazing people and made some really good friends, some of whom we will be catching up with (or in Rhi’s case, meeting for the first time) along the way!

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Excuse that tiny detour. We are heading to Westcliffe from Denver before we head down to Colorado Springs for the next 2 nights. In Westcliffe, Custer County, one of my good friends from exchange, Jack, is a 4th grade teacher. We drove out to this small town where we spent the day to see jack and meet his 4th grade class to answer their questions about Australia, and just hang out with them. When we got to the room they had this cool sign and all of these Australian flags to welcome us! We had an awesome couple of hours with these kids!

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Westcliffe is a rather tiny town, it was a mining town, but I don’t think there is much mining happening there anymore. While Jack finished off his day of school we explored around the cute little town. A lot of the buildings were unoccupied and for sale which was sad to see, but we’ve said we would definitely go back there in the summer time. After exploring we met up with Jack again to have a nice country town pub dinner over a game of ice hockey (#livingthedream). Before it got too dark we left the beautiful mountain village, and headed back towards Colorado Springs to find our bed for the next 2 nights! Along the way, we found a couple of friends, one a rather high climber! It’s crazy how fast they (Mountain goats) move on the crumbling rocks of the mountains!

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Good morning Colorado Springs! After a waffle filled breakfast, we decided to head to check out some more of the Creator’s handy work: the Garden of the Gods. Seeing as though we had just been to the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley within the last 5 days, Garden of the Gods was rather small in comparison so it seemed to not be as spectacular as it probably REALLY is. But the fact that it is was the first national park we entered for free and it had a great selection of walking tracks around it and can be accessed whenever is pretty awesome! And, if any certified climbers are reading, they allow you to go climbing/abseiling on these beautiful rocks, providing you have the right gear and permit. The wind at the garden felt like it was coming straight off the north pole, rather frostbite giving, so we decided to head to the shops to find some food. We had great success straight away: The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory! After purchasing a few treats for later on we found some nice Greek food. We explored the shops for a bit, nothing super interesting, then decided to have some fun…

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Mini Golf! Rhi is not the most coordinated person, so the afternoon just got very entertaining! We endured the random gusts of wind to play 18 holes of mini golf! Worth it because of the stunning snowy mountain back drop! It was pretty fun, and just good to chill out and enjoy each other’s company/not good at golfness (both of use ended up with golf balls in the pond that needed to be fished out!). We had some more epic Mongolian for dinner and called it a day! Another long drive awaits tomorrow as we leave Colorado, for New Mexico! (I would write a cool word in Spanish if I knew how) But couldn’t have loved Colorado more! Definitely a place to visit!!

Much Love.

Hayden & Rhi

Cool Colorado Part 1

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After a gorgeous, but draining drive we made it to Grand Junction Colorado just as the sun was hitting the horizon. After checking in we searched for food all we could find were some undersized and over-priced gluten-free pizzas… we consumed them, then we turned in for the night!

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Once we had woken and ate some breakfast (Cereal we are carting around, eaten out of hotel disposable cups with long life rice milk!) we were back on the road, headed to Denver. Our first stop was Best Buy to get a suction cap mount for the GoPro to make filming in the car a lot easier! Days on the road can get pretty boring and very tiring, but with plenty of snow-capped mountain goodness to take in, we were keen for this day of driving through the beautiful handy work of the Creator.

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As we started to get closer to Colorado’s portion of the Rockies the roads got interesting, with bridges and tunnels weaving between the mountains and the Colorado river, which looked amazing, but very cold at the same time. We had a few sections of driving where a fair bit of snow was falling from the heavens and it was amazing (very thankful for the 4WD over the Focus at this stage again).mountainsg copy

By the time we got to Vail (a ski resort about half way along our route to Denver) the snow was falling heavily, and we had passed a couple of ski resorts at this stage, where, if in Australia there would have been plenty of people skiing!

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We had a brief stop in at Vail and had a quick walk around the cute little village. After a nice break and stretch of the legs in snow-covered Vail we got back on the road, and after about 20 minutes on the road we found ourselves in a traffic jam……

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An hour and a half later we started to creep forward slowly, after heading through a tunnel and out the other side we saw 7 cars that were looking a bit too close for comfort and one facing perpendicular to the rest of the traffic. There was a fair amount of snow on the roads so there were snowploughs working each side of the highway. Never had we imagined that we would be encountering snow like this! We got back on track to Denver, and as we started to come down out of the mountains the snow started to disappear and then the sun came out, it was very much welcome at this time, although it was still only 4 degrees Celsius outside!

After checking-in at our hotel in Denver, we decided we needed some REAL food. LEGIT food. The good stuff that mothers know all the secrets to making! We found this awesome little Italian restaurant called “Three Sons“… it was an incredible family run restaurant, with a large range of gluten-free/special diet options/substitutes and so very welcome to smother our taste buds and fill our tummies! If you are ever in Denver and love Italian food, you should check them out! Rhi had a tomato basil fettuccine and I had the best roast chicken I have ever had!! Sorry mum!”  after a very satisfying meal, we headed out to explore downtown Denver and 16th St Mall. It was very cold. After a bit of a walk around we headed back to the warmth of the Ford Escape, to ferry us back to the warmth of our hotel.

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We awoke and headed down for the hotel breakfast to find waffles amongst some other goodies for breakfast! Being gluten-intolerant can be a pain the but sometimes, but I needed the waffles, so I had the waffles, the cinnamon ones, and they were oh, so good! (and there were no consequences #winning)

Once we were fed and ready to roll we headed to the outlets, just 30 mins south of Denver to hunt for some snow gear (yeah, we had been to and left the snow on this trip already, but we need some in prep for European winters and the visit to Canada, January 2015…) Anyway, we seemed to have timed our visit to the outlets just right, as The North Face were having a massive sale that day! We got the gear we needed and continued to have a look around, before heading back north to Denver CBD.

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The night before, during our explorations, we passed a place called “BD’s Mongolian Grill” so we decided to check this place out and get some fresh veggie nutritious goodness into us, and there were no regrets! For those who haven’t encountered a Mongolian grill type of restaurant before, pretty much you get a bowl and you go through and put all the veggies, meats, seasonings, sauces, noodles/rice that you want and take it to this big round hot plate where these guys with utensils that look similar to swords take your bowl and cook it while you watch, they unfortunately are not legit Mongolians, and they try to do tricks with their trade tools, sometimes unsuccessfully, but it’s still rather entertaining!

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After our awesome feed at BD’s we headed out to check out the Red Rock Amphitheatre. It was getting dark, but it was an incredible sight to see! Amazing that it is just the way nature intended it!

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We then headed back to the hotel just to chill out and watch some hockey (YESSS!) and pack our stuff, as tomorrow, a new adventure was ahead!!!

Much Love.

Hayden & Rhi

Monument Valley

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Just a quick post about a beautiful place, that if you’re ever in area of Arizona/Utah you should definitely visit! After a gob-mockingly awesome day yesterday at the Grand Canyon, we were headed to Monument Valley, which is actually on the borders or Arizona and Utah. So we woke up fairly early, as Monument Valley was a little off track and we had around 6 hours of driving time to reach Grand Junction, CO. (hopefully at some decent hour)

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A gorgeous day had dawned and we got on the road. Stopping a couple of times to take some pictures of the incredible scenery that surrounded us! We continued headed to Monument Valley not 100% sure knowing what to expect, cause it was a bit of a last-minute decision to stop there (these decisions/gambles often turn out to be some of the best decisions, or so we have found out in our adventures together through life)

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Once again, the upgrading to the Ford Escape paid off! Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park. It contains some of the most magnificent rock formations I have ever seen! The idea is, you pay for your car to get in and then you drive around and there are different lookouts/spots to stop at and take photos, or you can go on a tour in the back of a ute/truck. We decided to drive and do it at our own pace in our faithful Escape! The road was pretty bad at some points but it was a lot of fun!

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Once we had taken a pit stop and refreshed a bit we got on the road, destination: Grand Junction. It was a pretty long and draining drive, although the scenery was amazing, from the canyons to the mountains. Seeing as it was mainly a driving day, there isn’t a lot more to say… Then we hit a town called Moab in Utah. WOW! It is on the “to do list” for our next North American road trip, as we were still just under 2 hours from Grand Junction and feeling rather smashed.

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We made it to Grand Junction just as the sun was disappearing on the horizon and crashed on the bed momentarily before heading off to find some food!

So excited about Colorado! Much Love.

Hayden & Rhi

Gigantic, Glorious and Grand

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An early start, leaving Vegas so we could make the most of the raging outrageous hole in the ground #thegrandcanyon.

The second trip of taking our belongings to the car (it takes 2 trips when you are moving to the other side of the world as well as taking an epic holiday adventure) we saw something we hadn’t yet seen in Vegas. The walk of shame… Couldn’t help but feel sorry for her, cause she looked like she had a nasty hangover. I guess what happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas? Hahaha. Enough of that!

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A beautiful Sabbath day lay ahead of us! We drove away from the strip and into the sunrise, heading south-east towards our first stop of the day, Lake Mead/The Hoover Dam! Unlike the rest of our time in Vegas the morning was verrrrrrry fresh, this should have sent some warning bells off for what was to come, but we had been loving the summer-like weather! The colours of Lake Mead and the surrounds are incredible! Just around the corner is the Hoover Dam which is also remarkable! We didn’t really have time for a tour, so we had a quick look in the super fresh breeze, and took a few photos, before leaving Nevada for Arizona. State number 2 ticked off, state number 3 entered, on this trip of a lifetime!

goatlakeLake Mead and Mountain Goat

hooverlakeLake Mead opposite Hoover DamhudsonhooverdamLine of Old School Hudson Hornets

After a couple of hours on the road the temperature outside (according to the car) was not increasing. There seemed to be a few grey clouds hanging around too, so maybe the warm weather was taking a day off? The grey clouds then started to do what grey clouds normally do: rain. Wait a second. That looks like a slushy just hit the windscreen!? IT’S SNOWING!! In the second half of Spring?! In the desert?! WHAAAT?! Rhi was like a little kid, so very excited, so when we had a pit stop, the first thing she did was touch the snow, and to her surprise, it was very cold. Due to our naivety, we were still assuming it was going to be lovely at the Grand Canyon, so I kept my shorts on and we kept driving!

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So as we kept driving the snow got a bit heavier, and as we entered the Grand Canyon National Park the wind was also getting a bit stronger. We had no idea it snowed at the Grand Canyon… What the?! We had planned a nice picnic for our visit there, a nice picnic that we ended up eating in the car while we waited for the small blasting of snow and wind to pass. After a while we ventured out to attempt to find some good visibility to see this spectacular creation!grandcanyonJust a little cold! (Lucky we packed for the big move!)

We seemed to have timed it well! What an incredible view, and it was still snowing randomly! This was an incredible way to spend Sabbath. We went for a walk along the path and then decided to take our own tour onto the rocks. A little bit of climbing and we ended up with a view a lot better than expected!! We stayed out until the visibility started to diminish and as it started to snow again we walked back to the car and decided to keep on driving. We stopped at a couple more viewing spots during breaks in the snow to snap a few more photos! Hayden has brought his basses along that he made and decided one of them needed a picture with the Grand Canyon. IMG_1220

Grandcanyhar Feeling much better after a hike and a climb!!

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We visited the Desert Watchtower that is a replica of one that the Navajo people used to use, and enjoyed the spectacular view of the Grand Canyon one last time before hitting the road, next destination: Tuba City, AZ.

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I really loved the native art that was inside the tower!

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The drive down from the Grand Canyon was spectacular and as it warmed up the blue skies came out and the beautiful greens, golds and oranges of the countryside came to life! We arrived in Tuba City not too late; it seemed a little run down/not doing so well. It was here that we had our first interaction with Taco Bell. And it wasn’t that bad!!! After our little dinner date in an empty Taco Bell we headed back across the road to catch some sleep, as tomorrow is a huge day! Monument Valley + a chunk of Utah + Colorado = lots of driving!

Goodnight!

Much Love.

Hayden & Rhi

Vegas

Vegas. Casinos? Gambling? The Strip? Strippers??

An interesting stop for us, and not really knowing what to expect. As we arrived into Vegas and drove on the strip to find our hotel The Flamingo we saw lots of families walking around the place, not really the way Vegas is portrayed to us in the movies! After an interesting check-in we headed up to our room to get settled. When discussing hotels on the strip to be honest The Flamingo is probably the last place we’d suggest for anyone to go unless you want to stay in a piece of history. It is one of the oldest places still standing on the strip and in fact it was there before the strip became THE STRIP. It stinks of smoke and the service wasn’t the best. But we decided to not let that get us down!

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Apparently Las Vegas has some good shopping haha, so the day after we arrived we spent most of the day between the two lots of outlets there, looking for things we needed and wanted. It was a fairly successful, and very long day!

Thursday the 27th of April, one of our most anticipated adventures of this trip was booked to happen: an ATV tour of ‘The Valley of Fire‘, about 45 minutes out of Vegas. This was awesome! Beautiful countryside, quad bikes, and lots of fun! it’s about 2-3 hours out in the desert on the Quads including water breaks, photo opportunities and a lunch break which they provide. We were covered in the red dust by the end of it and had probably consumed quite a lot of it too, but it was so worth it! So much fun! The tour guides were fantastic so if you are into this sort of thing, and in Vegas, I think it is definitely something worth looking into!

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After getting cleaned up from the quads we decided to head out for a walk and check out the strip… we didn’t know what we were in for! We walked from The Flamingo, where we were staying, down to the Stratosphere. I have no idea how far that is, but after a few hours on a quad bike, it was not super pleasant! We had dinner at the 50’s diner, Ruby’s, inside the Stratosphere, before strolling back towards the Flamingo for a well-deserved rest!veaga

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The quads and walk took it out of us a bit so we took Friday morning a bit on the slow side, as midday Friday I was finally getting my birthday present!!! A drive in a Ferrari F430GT race car at Dream Racing in Las Vegas! Such and epic present from my gorgeous wife! It was an incredible experience, going though a briefing, then a simulator run, and then out onto the track! It was all over so quickly, but it was amazing!

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happyCouldn’t be happier right now

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Our Vegas part of the trip was pretty much over, with one more sleep and a very early rise to pack the car and head off to the Grand Canyon for a very big surprise!

Anaheim, LA and Wedding Adventures

So the catalyst, the whole reason this massive trip came by to begin with, was to attend a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles! So when we knew we were going, Hayden had the idea to just buy a one-way ticket and do a little more than attend a wedding. We both worked really hard to save up the money for this trip and we ended up accomplishing what we aimed for!disney

Early morning we left San Diego and we drove to LA. When we arrived at our hotel we were early so our room wasn’t ready. This was fine because we planned and were headed for Disneyland for the day! We arrived at Disneyland in the morning and headed straight for Space Mountain. After that the lines for the rides got longer and longer having around an hour as our average wait time. It was ok. We still waited. The motto for this trip is to make the most out of everything so we just enjoyed chatting, getting burnt and people watching (When we left we learnt it was spring break that week, that’s why it was so crowded)!!

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We spent the whole day at Disneyland but we didn’t end up staying for the fireworks. We had already had a long day driving from San Diego and we still had to walk back to the hotel (where we could see the fireworks if we really wanted).

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haydenrhi– End of a long day at Disney! –

Anyway pretty much from the end of the Disney day on; I was committed to the wedding of my friend Dina. As I was a bridesmaid I wanted to give as much of my time as I could to her. We spent time trying on dresses and getting them altered, running errands, consuming tea and fish, having a wedding rehearsal and consuming more tea and fish, sounds like a strange combination? This place was actually called ‘Delicious Together’ we just called it tea and fish. They were a place that served bubble teas etc. and with each tea you order, you receive a free little custard filled cake that was shaped like a Coy fish. In the LA they call it Boba tea, but it’s like ‘Easy Way’.

fishtea– Raspberry iced tea, vanilla fish –

I am going to be honest. Most of the time we were in LA I felt like I was on an American reality TV show. You know the one where there is a bride and the camera follows the bride and her family around while they do all the wedding prep. The other Aussie bridesmaids felt the same, it must have just been us still getting used to America ha ha!

dinagettingready– Bride at final fitting –

Later that week Hayden and I got another free day and went to California Adventure Land. We had a lot of fun there. There seemed to be a dramatic drop in numbers compared to Disneyland and we were able to jump on rides multiple times, although we still waited 2 hours for one ride, ‘The Radiator Spring Racers’!

wheel Haydenradiatoe– Radiator Spring from the movie ‘Cars’ –

Hayden did an incredible job driving people around to help with the prep of the wedding. He also had the chance to hang out with his mates that he hadn’t seen for a while. One of these male hang times he had the opportunity to visit a record and cd shop/cafe called ‘Fingerprints’ ! If you’re into music and in Long Beach, LA , Hayden says, “It’s definitely a place worth checking out!”.

‘THE BIG DAY’ then came along ! Dina was kind enough to have a late starting ceremony so we only needed to arrive at 12 pm to get ready.  The venue was absolutely delicious! The wedding ran smoothly and it turned out to be a beautiful night! I’d love to post some pics from it but I may do that separately to this post!

The day after the wedding Hayden took me to the same place they had the bucks party the previous week. ‘Six Flags, Magic Mountain‘. I would have to say, besides the wedding this was THE BEST day I had in LA! THIS is a MUST if you’re into rides and roller coasters! Every coaster has something amazing and different about it! I want to say that these are some of THE BEST roller coasters all in one place that you’ll get on in your life. (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating!) you may find one lone coaster somewhere but the combination of roller coasters here are amazing! Some you lay flat facing the ground, some you’re just dangling and get spun around, all the loops and free drops the high speeds!! There’s even one where you stand while doing loops oh I could go on and on about this place! So if you haven’t yet check it out!

Greenlantern– Green Lantern –

ridesTop Left: at the end of Full Throttle sitting in the front carriage. Final ride for the day!                 Top Right: the big element of the Goliath is the drop at the beginning!

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So that in short is our time in Los Angeles! Hope you’re well!!

Live full and free LOVE Hayden and Rhi xx