Disneyland Day 2

Our second day in Anaheim started a little later than the first so we could try to sleep off some of the exhaustion from day 1. I woke up Sunday morning so stiff I could hardly touch my toes! After a little morning yoga and breakfast we made our way back to the park.

Day 2: California Adventure


This day was hotter than the one before, if you can believe it. This was both good and bad – we were practically melting our faces off, but the lines were short. We immediately picked up a fast pass for the Radiator Springs Racers before ducking into It’s Tough to be a Bug in Bug’s Land which was a really fun 4D video in glorious air conditioning. Bug’s Land was really cute; Disney did a great job in this park making all the areas feel like you were actually in the movies. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Bug’s Land (aside from watching the movie a second time when the heat got to be too much) because it was geared towards a much younger crowd.



We spent the day meandering through the park, trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion, and riding rides when they weren’t broken down. I think the heat played a major role in the ride functionality because throughout the day at least 3 rides we tried to go on were closed (California Screamin’ was stopped with people at the top of the first hill!) and they cancelled the last Frozen show due to technical difficulties. Luckily we were able to see the last Frozen show and go on all of the rides later in the day. In fact, Radiator Springs Racers had just opened back up as our fast pass time came.

Speaking of Radiator Springs….Disney knocked it out of the park with Cars Land; it was so cool during the day and at night! It really felt like you were somewhere in Arizona along Route 66.

It seemed like there were fewer rides in California Adventure, and the fast passes sold out fast! We used fast passes for Frozen, Radiator Springs Racers, and Soarin’ over the World but even though we got the passes in the morning, our ride times weren’t until late in the day. Ride break down for day 2:

  • It’s tough to be a bug – really cute and fun 4D ride; bonus: air conditioning!
  • Radiator Springs Racers – get the fast pass, and get the fast pass again if you can
  • Soarin’ Over the World – definitely worth seeing
  • Monsters, Inc
  • Tower of Terror – we loved this; there was no wait all day so we rode it three times
  • California Screamin’
  • Goofy’s Sky School – I think I still have bruises from this one
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Toy Story Midway Mania


Tower of Terror? More like Tower of Boring!

We caught part of the Pixar parade when we came out of the Frozen show (which is so popular you really need a fast pass to see) and then walked around a little while the crowds were low.


Paradise Pier


The park closed earlier than Disneyland (9pm vs. midnight), which was good for us since we still had to drive back to L.A. We watched the World of Color water show and headed out. It was a really great weekend for sure.

A random lady wanted to take our picture walking in front of this backdrop


The last morning in L.A. was uneventful since we both had to work, but you could see the Hollywood sign from our room. Squint really hard and look at the hills in the picture 🙂 Just kidding, you can’t see it from the picture, but trust me, it was there!


And, of course, no trip to L.A. would be complete without a trip to Sprinkles. I picked up some goodies to take back to Matt and a pupcake for Snickers.


She’s wedding ready!

Until next time, California.

The happiest place on earth

I’d been itching for a vacation after seeing Matt jet set across the country for work and pleasure while I devolved into the position of housewife/dog sitter. The responsible thing would have been to fly down to Austin to scout out our next apartment, but I threw caution to the wind and jetted off to Los Angeles.

Initially I was going to go solo, but all it took was the mention of Disney for Heidi to make the 6 hour drive down from San Jose to join me. I’m so glad she did (thanks, Heidi!) because sometimes things are just more fun when you have someone to experience them with. We made it a bit of a bachelorette party; albeit one of the tamest bach parties I’ve ever been to since we were too exhausted to do much more than shower before crashing every evening. Also, we were at Disneyland.

The weekend started immediately after work on Friday. After an airport fiasco which has since been resolved, I made it to LA where we immediately headed to Koreatown for some barbecue and cocktails. Even though it was 10pm, the restaurants we tried to go to had 1.5 hours waits!! Welcome to LA! We bellied up to the bar and toasted the vacation with cocktails while we waited and then gorged ourselves on the amazing food. Definitely worth the wait if you find yourself in LA and enjoy Korean food.

Day 1: Disneyland

The next morning we got up early and made the 40 minute drive to Anaheim and “the happiest place on earth.” I had never been to Disneyland and haven’t been to Disney World in close to 20 years (just saying that makes me feel incredibly old), so I was excited.We did a two day pass so we could experience both Disneyland and California Adventure. Heidi came prepared with Disney tank tops, a bride sash, and bride buttons to properly celebrate the weekend.



The weekend was HOT! Like over 100 degrees hot. I think that helped keep the crowds at bay; there were a lot of people, but not as oppressive as I imagined and the longest we waited for a ride was about 30 minutes. Our first stop was to get bride Minnie ears, of course.

IMG_5897We didn’t take the most efficient plan of attack, but we were able to see and do and ride everything we wanted to….with a few extra steps on the Fitbit. We took full advantage of the fast passes, which was a lifesaver on the more popular rides – we were able to bypass the hour+ waits on Space Mountain and Indiana Jones and walk directly onto the ride! Toontown was a highlight – we went after all the character meet and greets were over so there weren’t a lot of kids around, plus everything is interactive and really detailed.

IMG_5925Aside from the water rides and Big Thunder Mountain railroad, we rode pretty much every ride:

  • Indiana Jones
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • It’s a small world – loved how most of it was still original
  • Matterhorn – a little jerky but fun
  • Mr. Toad’s,
  • Peter Pan – we managed to get around the 50 minute wait by going immediately after the fireworks, but WHY IS THIS SO POPULAR?! We weren’t overly impressed
  • Pinocchio
  • Snow White
  • Roger Rabbit’s car toon spin – longest wait of the day, but lots of interesting things to look at in line
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Buzz Lightyear astro blasters – Heidi kicked my butt at that game
  • Finding Nemo submarine voyage – really cool ride in a submarine!
  • Space Mountain – most fun ride for me, so nice we rode it twice
  • Star Tours – which left us both feeling green around the gills

Oh and I just want to remember how long the line for a Dole Whip was – I think we waited longer for that than we did for most of the actual rides! The park during the day was great – Disney has such amazing attention to detail that I was constantly amazed at all the things they thought up. As great as it was during the day, it’s really magical at night. The lights just add such a fun element, plus there was an almost-full moon.

Teacups at night
It’s hard to see here, but during the Frozen part of the fireworks they made it snow!



The man, the myth, the Mickey

We caught the fireworks and parade while munching on churros, and by the time the park closed and it was time to go home we were sweaty, overly sunscreened, and utterly exhausted.


Stay tuned for day 2 where we tackle California Adventure!



Choosing a place to live

Disclaimer: this is wordy 

Looking through this blog, you would think that all we do is hike and drink beer. While those tend to be the most highly documented activities because…well…they’re fun!, there is a lot of logistical planning that goes into this nomadic lifestyle. Here we’ll attempt to lay out how we chose living arrangements while traveling for an extended period of time and landed on a method that worked best for us.

One important thing that has really helped us stay sane throughout this whole process has been to set realistic expectations in regards to budget. We are paying more to rent than we would for our mortgage in Louisville, but we have also been able to set a budget that enables us to not only live where we want but also continue to save money while doing so. We are viewing this year as an extended vacation, and know that we are paying a premium to do what we are doing. Rather than paying for vacations every month or so, we have budgeted that money towards our monthly living expenses. It’s all about perspective and being reasonable and realistic.

We’ve tried three different arrangements:

  1. AirBNB/HomeAway
  2. Extended stay  hotels
  3. Short-term apartment rentals

We went into this year without much of a plan, assuming we’d stay for a month here, a month or two there, and move as much as we desired. All three options have pros and cons, and after trying them all out we’ve finally settled on a method that works best for us and our needs.


There are many pros to using AirBNB; we’ve used it many times on vacations and have enjoyed the feel of home it provides. When we started out, we assumed we would go this route since they are all fully furnished and typically have a stocked kitchen.

We quickly learned why they are used for week/end rentals rather than monthly leases – the price goes up quick! We work within the constraints of a budget and AirBNB/HomeAway options blew that budget to shreds. When units are rented as vacation rentals, we’ve found that the owners  tend to increase the price to maximize their income. I can’t blame them, but when you’re staying somewhere for a month+, it’s not economical to spend upwards of $100/night.

Another downside for us was that, while you have your own space, you are still a guest in someone else’s home. The rentals we used were listed as “guest houses,” which were separate from the main house, but still shared either a yard or a wall. And, while the owners were nice, we often felt like we didn’t have total privacy (kind of the nosy neighbor vibe).

We actually only used this method for a week and a half, during the very first part of our trip in Santa Cruz. We stayed in one house for the first week and rented a second house for the next two weeks. The second house turned us off from renting this way. It was further outside of town than listed, smelled like smoke (even though it was listed as non-smoking), and the owner had left all sorts of personal belongings including half-eaten food in the fridge.

Pros Cons
  •  Fully furnished
  • Stocked kitchen
  • Linens available
  • No additional utility fees
  • TV, usually with cable
  •  Expensive
  • Don’t have total privacy
  • Don’t always have a full kitchen
  • Don’t know what you’re going to get until you actually get there

Extended Stay Hotel

After AirBNB, we turned to extended stay hotels. We stayed for a week and a half at a Staybridge just outside of Napa. This method has all the luxuries of a hotel and with an extended stay hotel you also have a kitchen.

We found the hotels to be along the same expense as the AirBNB, which is why we opted for them. The bonus to a hotel is multi-fold. First, you don’t have to make your bed or clean your room! The extended hotels typically offer breakfast as well as a complimentary happy hour/dinner in the evenings. Not having to factor in the expense or hassle of cooking breakfast was a plus, although the options are pretty limited and not nearly as healthy as we typically eat. Also, while we didn’t really utilize the dinner options, we did go for a couple of beers and enjoyed having the option. We also had complimentary wi-fi, and our room happened to be a two room suite, which allowed me to work in one room while Matt did whatever unemployed people do during the day. The kitchen was another huge plus for us. We really enjoy cooking and, although it was a little more difficult to cook on a single cooktop, we were able to make some very tasty meals.

The biggest con for us was that the hotel was in a business district, which didn’t have a lot going on around it. This may have been due to the area, and there are surely better options, but we didn’t really love having to drive to get dinner. The plus was that we were right across the street from a grocery store so we were able to easily get supplies. The other main con, was that it was loud and we could hear people upstairs. This was only truly bothersome one night when there was a large group partying all night, but it is still a common occurrence in hotels. We also found that traveling with a dog often meant staying in the pet-approved suites; not altogether terrible, but they are typically on lower floors which contributes to the aforementioned noise.

Pros Cons
  •  Fully furnished
  • Full kitchen/kitchenette
  • No additional utility fees
  • TV, and wi-fi
  • No cleaning
  • Free breakfast and dinner (during the week)
  •  Expensive
  • Not close to town
  • Can hear people in other rooms



Short-term, unfurnished apartment rentals

We used short-term apartment rentals in Portland and now in Denver, and have found it to be what works best for us and our needs.

When we went to Portland, we knew we’d likely stay longer than a month. The reason for this was due to Matt’s travel schedule for work and only having the weekends to explore and eat our way through the city. After comparing costs and the above pros and cons, we decided to look into short-term apartment rentals. Admittedly, going this route takes a little more planning, but it’s been well worth it.

The hardest part has been finding apartments that are pet-friendly as well as offer short-term rentals. We’ve found that while the majority of complexes are very pet-friendly, the majority of them DO NOT offer short-term leases. Or the shortest lease term is 6 months. That being said, when we did find rentals that offered short-term (3-4 month) rents, we paid a premium. This has ranged from $600-$300 additional a month, and we’ve seen some as high as $1000. That’s insane!

While there are some furnished options, we chose to go the unfurnished route. Furnished rentals tend to run an additional $1000+ a month on top of the short-term premium. For us, it was more economical – though more logistically taxing – to rent unfurnished, rent furniture through a third party, and purchase any linens and cookware we needed. We’ve got a whole record of all the prices and options, but I won’t bore you with that here. Suffice to say, going that route has saved us hundreds of dollars a month while still keeping us within the bounds of our budget.

The pros to this route have been mutli-fold. We have our own dedicated space to do with as we please. While we have to clean it ourselves, we don’t have to worry about invasion of privacy and the floors/ceilings in the complexes we’ve stayed in have been very thick. We rarely hear our neighbors. We have also been able to stay in areas that we enjoy. In Portland we were right downtown and close to everything!

Pros Cons
  •  Full kitchen
  • Privacy
  • Good location
  • More economical
  •  Have to rent furniture
  • Not always easy to find short-term rentals
  • Pay a premium for short-term rentals

One method we didn’t try, and probably won’t, has been the short-term, furnished rental. We’ve just found this to be too costly for our budget, but it would be a great option if you don’t want to worry about coordinating furniture rentals and utilities.

[UPDATE: We’re using a short-term, furnished rental in Minneapolis!]

Short-term, furnished apartment rental

We ended up using short-term, furnished rentals in Minneapolis for one main reason: no apartments would do a 2 month lease. We were literally scrambling the week before we were set to move to find a place to stay. Worst case scenario: stay with Matt’s parents in Thorp until the apartment we found on Craigslist opened up in mid-September (perfect location, good price point, fully furnished). But, because of our travel schedule this wasn’t ideal. We ended up finding a corporate rental that didn’t cost any more than we had been paying in Portland and Denver for the apartment + utilities + furniture and jumped on it. 

This arrangement has worked out well for us so far. In addition to not having to worry about the logistics of renting the furniture and making sure it’s set up by the time you arrive, it’s fully stocked with linens and most kitchen tools you would need (we’re a little particular so we were glad to have our own things as well, but we definitely wouldn’t need them to get by). We would definitely consider going this route again if the price was right because of the convenience but also because you need fewer things – we’d really like to downsize the amount of STUFF we have.

Pros Cons
  •  Full kitchen
  • Privacy
  • Good location
  • Less logistical hassle (don’t have to set up furniture rental, utilities, etc.)
  • Stocked with linens and dish ware
  • Not always easy to find short-term rentals
  • Can be very expensive
  • May not have everything you need

Whew! If you made it this far, you are a champ! For that, you will be rewarded with a cute puppy picture 🙂


Memorial Day Weekending

Who doesn’t love a long weekend?! We’ve been pretty busy the last couple of weeks, but that didn’t stop us from cramming in a lot of fun over Memorial Day.

Since we got to Denver, taking in a concert at Red Rocks has been on the top of our list. After looking over the concert schedule as well as our incredibly busy summer schedule (bachelor parties, Disneyland, wedding, yadda yadda yadda) we settled on the Friday before Memorial Day, and it did not disappoint! The day of the concert ended up being rainy and cold! Luckily, the rain ended right before the concert lending to a beautiful rainbow backdrop behind the red rocks. Driving up, we couldn’t stop commenting on how beautiful it was. It was stunning. I seriously can’t get over the mountains here.



The bands playing that night were the Wood Brothers, Shakey Graves, and The Devil Makes Three. After grabbing some local brews (Coors Banquet 🙂 ), we found our seats and got ready for some great music. We were pretty high up, but there wasn’t a bad seat in the house; the acoustics in the amphitheater are stellar. All of the bands put on a great show, but The Devil Makes Three blew us away! It was their first time playing Red Rocks and I think they would’ve payed all night if the venue let them. All the dancing around almost made us forget how cold it was. It was one of the best and most fun concerts we’ve been too, and we highly recommend catching a show here if you’re in town and have time! For those of you coming out in July, check out the calendar. It was a late night for us – we didn’t get home until after 1am! – but it was completely worth it.



The next day we had planned a camping trip with some folks from Matt’s company who happen to live in Denver. There were 8 of us total and we had a great time – except for Snickers who is crazy protective of me and wasn’t too fond of the the two other dogs. After 5 months of not hanging out with anyone other than Matt and Snickers, this was a much-needed social outing.

We got a late start to the day, but were able to pack up and head to the campsite by early afternoon. Nate was able to go out early and snag a great campsite just outside Boulder in the Roosevelt National Forest near Gross Reservoir. We had to drive up a pretty primitive dirt road to get there, which made us extra glad for AWD on the Subaru. After setting up camp we payed frisbee, drank beer, and went on a short hike. It was still cool, so we spent a lot of time chasing the sun and sitting around the camp fire. We grilled corn and brats over the fire for dinner and ended the night with s’mores (of course).

Camping in Roosevelt National Forest
Twin Sisters Peak from the campsite

Aside from being insanely cold that night, we slept relatively well and woke up ready for a nice, long hike. A couple of the guys were running a 10K the next day and wanted an easier hike and some others had to take the puppy home, so it was just Matt and me for the hike. We found a 6.5 mile hike up to Twin Sisters Peak. The trail was pretty empty – we actually didn’t see anyone else until we were descending from the peak – and it was a really great hike. The first part was on dirt roads, which sounded pretty easy until we realized we were over 8,000 ft and a sight incline left us breathing heavily. The very last part involved scrambling up rocks, which Snickers loved! I’m convinced she’s part mountain goat. We got to the peak and took in the spectacular 360 degree views. After a little mountain yoga we headed back down to start the drive home.


That Monday, we took it easy and spent some time poolside. Overall, it was a great weekend and perfectly busy and relaxing.



One month in Denver

We’ve finished our first month in Denver! I’m sure the burning question is: how do you like it? In short: we don’t.

I really wanted to love Denver. It has mountains, it has beer…what’s not to love? We’re giving it a fair shake, but it falls short of both Portland and Louisville in many things that matter most to us. So far we’d say it’s a good place to visit, but not a place we’d want to live.

It’s very sprawling which means you have to drive everywhere. The biggest problem with such a car-centric city is that everyone else in the city is also driving, so going as little as 5 miles might take upwards of 30 minutes. Strike one. The food scene is also lacking. That’s not to say that we haven’t had some great meals, we certainly have, but coming from two amazing food cities we haven’t been very wowed with Denver’s options. If you’re looking for some American fare, they’ve got plenty of options, but these two ethnic food lovers haven’t found our place yet. Strike two. Believe it or not, we actually enjoy going to the gym and doing yoga. This is another area where we’ve yet to find our niche. Sure, there are plenty of yoga studios – there’s one literally across the street – but they’re either a.) too expensive ($20 for a class?!) or b.) not our style of yoga. In Louisville we went to a great yoga class at our gym on Mondays and a free class on Fridays; in Portland we found an awesome donation-based studio within walking distance of our apartment that had plenty of power yoga options. But here? Nada. Matt did find a good gym for weight lifting that he liked, but going back to the car-centricity, it took him 20 minutes to get there and 40 minutes to get home. Strike three.

That’s not to say Denver doesn’t have its charms. The mountains are amazing. There’s just something about seeing the Rocky Mountain front range when you look down the street. We’ve taken full advantage of the proximity and have hiked Table Mountain in Golden, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Salinas Mountain in Boulder, and Twin Sisters peak in Roosevelt National Forest. You truly can’t beat the views.

The weather here is amazing. Even on the days it rains (which isn’t very often), the sun usually pops out. Snickers has really been enjoying our balcony for soaking up the afternoon rays. We usually lay out there or poolside ourselves to get a daily dose of Vitamin D. I’m convinced that the higher altitude makes the sun that much warmer; the forecast might say 65, but when the sun’s out you can find most people in shorts and tank tops. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the low humidity! We definitely don’t miss Kentucky this time of year.

And the beer. There’s a lot of it, and finding the good stuff has taken a lot of tasting. One thing we’ve noticed is that, while there are a lot of breweries, many of them do things on a large scale. You’ve probably seen Great Divide and Avery in bars and stores across the country. But there are some great smaller breweries here too. Lost Highway was a favorite (and right in our backyard) as well as Grandma’s House, and we can’t wait to head to the RiNo neighborhood and imbibe some Epic and Ratio brews.

Crocheted taps at Grandma’s House

We haven’t given up on Denver completely and have plenty more to explore, but for now it’s ranking below both Portland and Louisville in our list of favorite cities. Still above every place we visited in California, though.