Oahu, Hawaii

There’s nothing like spending 2-weeks in Hawaii to decompress after a busy first half of the year. This was our 3rd time visiting Oahu together, but we truly cannot get enough of the island.

This was one of the first trips we’ve taken where we did ab-so-lute-ly nothing. No hikes, no itinerary….just rest and relaxation! I was in dire need of a break from my camera, so I took fewer pictures than usual - but snapped just enough to be able to share the experience.

As always, Mahalo Hawaii <3


Playa del Carmen, Mexico

I was hired by Jaunts & Gems travel firm to document two Girlfriends’ Getaway trips to Playa del Carmen, Mexico in June and July of 2018. Both trips were incredible experiences and I had blast exploring the Rivera Maya with such exuberant women. Many of us met as strangers and left as play cousins.

Although these trips were work-related, I was able to relax and explore Mexico in my downtime. I re-visited many places I’d been before (Tulum ruins, Cobá ruins), as well as some new places (Isla Mujeres). I’m typically opposed to all-inclusive resorts, but Live Aqua changed my perspective - we loved our time there.

If you’re in need of a travel consultant, I highly recommend Jaunts & Gems services. The 2019 Girlfriends’ Getaways will be located in Santorini, Greece and Montego Bay, Jamaica. My schedule won’t allow me to make the first trip, but I’m looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces in Jamrock!

Alberta, Canada

Some places you have to visit more than once - Banff National Park is one of those places.

Kicked off Summer ‘18 in one of my favorite places with two of my best friends (Jalyn and Nana) and their significant others Marcus and Karina.

Jalyn owns a travel firm called Jaunts and Gems, so she took care of our lodging. We booked a cabin at Hidden Ridge Resort and a car through Turo. I was in charge of the itinerary, so I basically took them to see everything I saw in 2016 - plus a few extra spots.

Banff was even better the second time around. Some people don’t like visiting the same place, but collecting passport stamps has never been my driving force when traveling - just creating good memories.

Notable stops: Peyto Lake, Vermillion Lakes, Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon.

Good eats: Old Spaghetti Factory, Bear Street Tavern, Park Distillery, Tooloulou’s, High Rollers



Havasupai, Arizona

After yearsssssss of daydreaming about this magnificent place, I finally got to check Havasu Falls off my bucket list. Backpacking in the Grand Canyon was by far the most challenging hikes of my life, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Some people do this trip in a day, but I think 2 nights, 3 days is ideal. We took on the 10-mile hike (one-way) early Friday morning. It took us 6 hours to make it from the parking lot to the camp grounds. Our bags were about 25 lbs each, which was light in comparison to what others were carrying. We made the mistake of not breaking in our shoes before the hike and paid for it. Sore doesn’t begin to describe how much pain we were in. By the time we made it to Havasupai Lodge, we could barely walk. However, the moment we saw Havasu Falls, the agony dissipated. After setting up our tent and hammock, we relaxed at our campsite and talked with some cool folks from LA for the rest of the evening.

Saturday morning we woke up early to go explore Havasu Falls before the crowds. The water was too cold for us to swim comfortably, so we just hung out in the natural pools. For lunch we had Indian Tacos at the local food stand, then went down to Mooney Falls. To my surprise, it was even more spectacular than Havasu Falls (and twice the size). It legitimately took my breath away. We went to bed early that night so that we could wake up at 4am to get in line early for the helicopter.

On Sunday morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn to hike to the village. We were 8th in line for the helicopter, so we just had to wait until they opened to ride out. Since there was no cell phone service in the Grand Canyon, you’re forced to be in the moment. I had so many enriching conversations while hanging out on the Grand Canyon floor. It was a much needed unplug from the matrix. The helicopter ride out was short, but offered incredible views. This was a trip of a lifetime, 10/10.

DISCLAIMER: Reservations are required! For a full comprehensive guide on Havasu Falls, check here.


Marfa, Texas

October before last, Solange announced a free show in Marfa, TX at the Chinati Foundation. Marfa had been on my bucket list for quite some time and Solange is one of my favorite artists, so it was a no-brainer. The show was announced under short notice and there were no hotel rooms or Airbnb’s available, so camping was our only option. Thankfully, REI sent us gift cards for an image we sold to them over the summer, so we were able to buy our supplies for the freeski! We made reservations at El Cosmico camp grounds and absolutely loved the experience. Next time I would definitely want to reserve a teepee/trailer, but the amenities made our stay comfortable.

No trip to Marfa is complete without visiting Prada. We met people from all walks of life that morning - it was an inspiring experience hearing everyone’s story. We met a woman riding her bike across the US, two ladies who were driving an RV across the country, the coolest guy from Japan who knew all the dope music, along with countless other incredible human beings. While at Prada, we discovered the show had an all-white dress code (which we weren’t prepared for). Luckily, we were able thrift some cool digs at Second Bloom.

As for the performance? I wish I could put it in a time capsule for future generations to understand what true artistry is. I’ve seen Solange in concert three times and that was by far her best. At one point, she sang “Don’t Touch My Hair” directly to us and Kandace forgot the words lol (Exhibit A). No phones or cameras were allowed, which truly forced the audience to be present rather than trying to capture the moment. After the show, we went to Pizza Foundation and had some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my life.

On our final day, we woke up and explored Food Shark before heading out. There’s still so much we didn’t see in Marfa, so we definitely be back soon.

Oahu, Hawaii

No words will do this trip any justice. This was my third trip to the island, but by far the most memorable experience. I can truly say I've felt the spirit of Aloha. Contrary to popular belief, Oahu is severely underrated. Anyone who says otherwise never left Honolulu. 

Follow along as I recount our 2 week vacation in paradise.

Day 1: We kicked off our trip hiking Lanikai Pillbox, then relaxed on Lanikai Beach. The hike is one of the easiest on the island and offers spectacular views on clear, sunny days. 

Day 2: Kandace's only request for this trip was to go to a luau, so I put her in charge of picking one. Per a recommendation from a friend, she chose Cheif’s Luau. I would've likely chosen something less touristy, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. 

Day 3-5: No trip to Oahu is complete without visiting the North Shore. Surfers from all over the world visit this particular region to catch waves. After a day of cliff jumping, we grabbed dinner at North Shore Shrimp Truck, then walked over to Sunset Beach to witness God's beautiful work. Over the next few days, we came back to do it all over again. 

Day 6: A friend of mine suggested that we hike the Pink Pillboxes, so we made our way to the westside of the island for the very first time. I had no idea what to expect, but this day trip ended up opening my eyes to the best side of Oahu. After a treacherous hike (it was NO joke), we relaxed at Makaha Beach

Day 7: We enjoyed the westside so much, we decided to go back again the next day to explore it further.  Our first stop was Upper Makua Cave. The views were incredible, but the hike was brutal (straight incline). After torturing ourselves, we discovered our new favorite spot on earth - Makua Beach

Day 8: Honolulu isn't my forte, but I'm a sucker for colorful murals, so we made our way to the city. I hate to admit this, but I ate the best burrito of my life in Hawaii. King Street Tacos gets a Texan stamp of approval and I don't throw that around casually. We met my cousin Chastity for drinks at Barefoot Beach Cafe, then spent the rest of the evening at the coolest craft bar on the island, Bevy.

Day 9-10: After a week and a half in paradise, we officially adapted to island life. I stopped planning our days and just went with the flow. I grew deeply fond of Makaha Beach Park, so we just relaxed there for a couple of days, napping on the beach and eating Hawaiian shave ice. 

Day 11: With the end of our trip approaching, we had to get back to our itinerary. Chastity, Kandace and I spent the day driving around the island, stopping at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Makapu’u Lookout, Halona Blowhole and Cockroach Cove. That night, we had dinner at Kickin Kajun, then laughed our stomachs sore watching Girls Trip. My idea of the perfect day. 

Day 12: Chastity's roommate Abby invited us to go swim with dolphins. The pods arrive early in the morning, so we woke up at 4am to watch the meteor shower at Ka'ena Point, then slept on the beach until sunrise.  Around 9am, a pod of dolphins were spotted heading towards us. We swam 100 yards out, then waited until they circled around to pass us. When swimming with dolphins in the wild, it's important not to chase them. They are more likely to interact with you if you don't interfere with them. I cannot put in to words how fleeting this experience was. After that exciting morning, we stopped by Tacos and More for lunch. The bartender Patrick makes the best paloma on the island, which is rare for the area. After lunch, we surfed at White Plains Beach. Needless to say, we all slept good this night. 

Side note: Research "mask squeeze" before free diving. I descended too quickly without equalizing and had a terrible experience when swimming to the ocean floor. 

Day 13: I was determined to do at least one thrilling hike while in Hawaii. Despite my ambitions to conquer the infamous Stairway to Heaven, I opted for Crouching Lion instead. We weren't entirely sure how to access the trail, so we ended up scaling the mountain. We later discovered, that there was a shorter (safer) way up, but where's the fun is that? I expected this hike to be scarier than it actually was, but it should be hiked with caution. 

Day 14: Our last day was bittersweet. We went back to Makua Beach in hopes of seeing the dolphins, but they did not swim close enough for us to interact with them. We both agreed this was the best trip we'd taken and would love to do it all over again next summer. 

California & Nevada

Summers in California are a tradition that have stuck with me since childhood. I grew up exploring the west coast from May-Aug with my dad, so it's only right I do it annually as an adult.

Kandace and I spent 2 weeks road tripping from Orange County to Vegas and everywhere in between. We made stops at Death Valley National Park, Seven Magic Mountains and Salvation Mountain. 

I highly recommend this trip, but not during the peak of summer. The temperatures reach up to 134º in certain areas and are nearly unbearable to visit after 10am. I enjoyed the experience, but I would like to do it again without melting. 

New York, New York

For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with NYC. I took my first trip in 2004 and used to visit just about every year for an annual girls trip.  

Now that I'm older, my fascination with New York has expanded beyond the party scene. As I continue to grow in my craft, I force myself to revisit places I've been and capture it from a different perspective. I truly got to experience the pulse of NYC on this trip. 

Notable stops: DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Cafeteria, Latitude, Top of the Rock, Chinatown, Kinfolk 90 and Output

Chicago, Illinois

As we continue exploring the U.S., we decided to visit one of our favorite cities in the country. There's truly nothing like summertime Chi. This was our third trip to the Windy City, but easily our favorite trip. 

We visited Garfield Park Conservatory, Skydeck Chicago and Giordano's on our first day. The second day we indulged in a little retail therapy on The Magnificent Mile, then relaxed on Lake Michigan. We went to St. Louis for a week to visit Kandace's niece Brynlee, then returned to Chicago for one last hoorah. On our last day, we stopped by The Bean for a few photos, had drinks at London House, then ate the best brunch ever at Nookie's

Albiet brief, it was the perfect kickoff to our summer travels. I can't wait to do it all over again next year. 

 

 

American Southwest

"Traveling doesn't have to be far, foreign or expensive, but it does have to be different. Different enough to see the world in a new way." - Unknown

This year for Spring Break we decided to visit Kandace's brother in Sun City, AZ and road trip to a few attractions that had been on our domestic bucket list. We spent the first few days relaxing by the pool, then set off on a 3-day adventure through Arizona, Utah and Nevada. 

Over the next 72-hours, we stopped at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, AZ, Monument Valley in Utah, Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and Seven Magic Mountains in Las Vegas, NV. 

We genuinely enjoyed every minute of this trip. Going to the Grand Canyon and exploring Seven Magic Mountains with our friend Andrea were our favorite moments, but camping in Monument Valley was a huge highlight for me as well. Something about this trip put me a great space creatively. God took his time creating the American Southwest and I'm incredibly thankful for this experience. Road trips truly are good for the soul.

Accommodations: Utah - Airbnb