Nature

Sunday Sailing | Snorkel Picnic on the Nā Pali Coast with Captain Andy

Sunday was my last day on Kauai and a breeze -- literally. I woke up early to go on a snorkel picnic to the Na Pali Coast with Captain Andy's Sailing Adventures. At first, I was a little hesitant because I don't swim, but you don't have to snorkel. In fact, there's much more to the tour than just snorkeling! 

There's plenty of commentary from the guides and the views are to die for. I can't think of a better way I could have spent my Sunday morning on this vacation. I kicked my feet up while inhaling the fresh air, read my magazines, and took tons of photos.

Get a glimpse of my last excursion on Kauai:

On the way back to the shore, I listened to music and even took a nap. I'm happy that I got to do something new and I had time to take in the natural beauty of the island. The best part was that I had very little to no cellular service at all...and it was fantastic. In a world so obsessed and connected to our devices, it's nice to be able to disconnect sometimes. No emails, no phone calls, no social media updates, and I loved every moment of it on Akialoa.

Learn more about Capt. Andy's catamaran tours and add a sailing adventure to your Kauai vacation itinerary

ATV Tour on Kipu Ranch | Off-Road Kauai Scenery & Film Spots

If you've ever wondered where those exotic locations from movies such as Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones have been filmed, then look no further! On a trip to Kauai, I learned that you will find some of the most memorable spots from films on several tours whether you're hovering above in a helicopter or zooming through the forests on an ATV.

One of my excursions on my trip was an ATV tour on Kipu Ranch, which was definitely a new experience for me. Typically, groups sign up for tours like these, so since I was traveling alone I opted to ride with a guide for two reasons.

1) Because I'm not used to driving on such terrain or in an ATV and I'll admit I was a little scared! While the guides do safety checks and brief trainings before and along the way, I personally thought this would be best for me.

2) I wanted to be able to get all of the photos and video footage I needed to share with you all, of course!

Overall, the Ultimate Ranch Tour offered on Kipu Ranch is a 3-hour tour, so here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Bring sunscreen to reapply throughout the tour! The most shade you'll probably get is in the ATV and under the lush, shady trees.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. This is not the time to dress up! 
  • Don't worry about makeup! I know it can be tempting to look cute for Instagram, but prior to the tour, you'll be given goggles to wear which will definitely come in handy as you embark on the route. Plus, makeup will likely sweat or be wiped away. I actually don't think I even wore very much makeup during my entire trip!
  • Pack a camera to get photos. There are tons of stops, so you will have plenty of opportunities to snap away. They don't need to be fancy -- iPhone cameras are great, too! Just make sure you do not drop them while you're in the ATV. 
  • Have fun, of course!

This tour honestly wasn't anything I ever would have chosen for myself and I'm SO glad that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I mean, who wants to do the same old boring things on such a beautiful trip to a Hawaiian island? Not I! 

Learn more about Kipu Ranch and book your tour on Kauai!

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by the Kauai Visitor's Bureau, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring at Green Mountain Reservoir | Silverthorne, Colorado

Yesterday, we whipped and wound around the roads of the Rocky Mountains in our five-passenger 2016 Mazda CX-5 in search of some gorgeous scenery...and we found it.  

I'd been in the mountains the last time we visited Colorado, but not this deep. This was truly a day trip! I mostly gazed in awe of the intricate design of God's creations -- from the thousands of unique trees covering the mountains to the many indentations in its rocky walls. Everything was genuinely beautiful! 

The Drive | Rocky Mountains

A light sprinkle soon turned into full-on rain, but we didn't have to worry about keeping the windows clear with the help of rain-sensing wipers which is super helpful when you're concentrating on the road. The CX-5 is like having a thoughtful on-the-road companion within the vehicle. She even alerted us when there was a car approaching on either side to prevent those nasty blind spot accidents.

I connected my iPhone via USB and it quickly picked up my Spotify jams. One thing that I found pretty interesting was that you couldn't use the touchscreen while driving unless you were at a full stop. While I appreciated the safety of the this feature, it was pretty annoying when we lost signal in a few spots and had to listen to static and fuzz for many miles. Even with a passenger willing to change the songs or stations, we still couldn't do it until we ran into an occasional traffic light. Perhaps there's a way to alter this, but I didn't check.

I did, however, enjoy the separate temperature controls front seats for the driver and front-passenger in this upgraded center console. I hate being too cold when the other person is hot, and vice versa. This made for a super comfortable drive!

The Scenery | Green Mountain Reservoir

We made it to Silverthorne, Colorado which, from Google photos, looks unreal when it snows. Initially, we were on the hunt for another body of water (Blue Lake), but we ended up at the Green Mountain Reservoir instead. It was perfect! For some reason, I've wanted photos of the CX-5 near a sparkling body of water and gigantic mountains in the background.

Once we found a spot to park, we hopped out of the Bose surrounded CX-5 (a total of nine speakers) and admired the beauty of nature. The views in Texas aren't quite like this!

We had the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD (All Wheel Drive) with an exterior color of 'Sonic Silver Metallic' and all-black interior. This is a four-door vehicle that seats five-passengers, so it's perfect for road trips. It sits on 19-inch alloy all-season tires, so it was very comfortable to drive in the rain through the mountains.

Since we're talking about road trips, I think a car that's good on gas is definitely important. I'd driven around Denver almost everyday during the week and still had enough mileage to get to Silverthorne. We had about 120 miles remaining after leaving Green Mountain Reservoir, but I decided to add a little gas to the tank just in case.

Fuel economy and environment:

  • 26 MPG (combined city + highway)

  • 3.8 gallons per 100 miles

  • Annual Fuel Cost: $1750

  • Gas Rating: 6; Smog Rating: 5 (I'm not an expert...but pretty decent, I think)

This hatchback was big enough for my suitcase, but could have absolutely fit much more comfortably. It can hold everything from a full trip of groceries to a long day of shopping at Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver. The amount of space is not only perfect for road trips, but for small families around the city as well. There are so many conveniences and safety features including LATCH child-safety-seat anchors.

If you're wondering what SKYACTIV technology consists of like I was, then I'm here to tell you that it relates to the performance of the car. The transmission and engine really do make a difference in the way a car drives and the 2016 Mazda CX-5 was a smooth one.

Additional specs:

  • SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed Sport Mode
  • Rearview Camera
  • Mazda Navigation System
  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) System
  • Power Automatic Door Locks
  • Advance Keyless Entry System
  • Automatic LED Headlights for Touring & Grand Touring Models
  • Push Button Start
  • Bose 9-speaker Audio Sound System

After having yet another maintenance issue with my MINI back at home, I'm not quite ready to return the CX-5 before I take off for Dallas...but it's given me plenty of breathtaking scenery and memories on this trip! Until next time, Colorado.

This vehicle was loaned to me for review purposes.

Road Trip to Denver | Exploring the City & Nature

Buffalo Bill's Grave

Buffalo Bill's Grave

A few weekends ago, my family hopped in our Broncos-proud Escalade and set off on a road trip to Denver, Colorado. I have tons of family in the city, so usually when we go we hang out with them or my mom and I go shopping. Unfortunately, the trip was cut short for me because I had to return to Dallas for my internship after the Fourth of July weekend, so I wanted to make the best of the few days I had left. My grandma has a beautiful view of the mountains, but I suggested we take a trip to the mountains and explore. I've never been in any mountains, so this was a first!

The Mountains

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

I've seen little El Paso mountains when I hosted a few H&M openings there, but these were massive and absolutely beautiful. My parents both grew up in Denver, so they were the perfect "tour guides". As my dad drove up the winding roads of the mountains, I was in complete awe. There were so many little houses that looked like they'd be super cozy in the winter covered in snow -- kind of like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Why did I choose to go to the mountains when I'm not really an outdoorsy person? I really don't know, but it was fun and an amazing experience! We stopped by Buffalo Bill's Grave and Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve. The views were breathtaking and we even spotted a deer casually eating as hikers trailed through. Such a different experience from being in Dallas for sure!

Central City

Before heading back to my grandma's, we stopped in Central City which is like it's own little world. It's kind of like walking through one of those small towns in Little House on the Prairie, but in 2016. The storefronts are historic and several of them have plaques with the historical information forever embossed. There are antique shops, dispensaries, restaurants, hotels, and casinos. We popped in one of the casinos and played a few slot machines where I lost it ALL. *cries* Just kidding! I know better.

My mom and I both have an appreciation for antique shops, so we went in the Mountain Menagerie (pictured above) and I got a gorgeous beaded pouch necklace which is going to look fire with a boho-style outfit. I'm already outfit plotting. *Joanne the Scammer smirk*

Me in front an empty building in Central City in Topshop romper.

Me in front an empty building in Central City in Topshop romper.

I was so upset that I had to leave before my family and get back to Dallas, but I will be returning to Denver in August to make up for the time I didn't get to spend! I can't wait for y'all to see what I'm up to. Until then, be sure to check out my Denver foodie experience!

Have you visited Denver or live there? Where should I go next time I'm in town? Leave a comment with your suggestions!