Who likes otters? I LOVE OTTERS. Before going to San Francisco, I’d heard a lot about the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the conservation efforts, so obviously, I wanted to go over there and support them. First off, Monterey Bay is gorgeous. It has stunning beaches and the ocean water is glorious. Hooray for conservation waters!
This was an amazing aquarium, and my favorite aspect was the overlook on the back part of the aquarium that connected to the ocean. We spent so much time there peering out the viewers to see seals basking on rocks and swimming around, as well as the little otters poking their heads out of the water.
So, back when we road tripped up to Salem, Massachusetts, we ended up making a stop off in Connecticut. We pulled in here, because hey, pizza and puns!? Where could we go wrong?
Actually, I’d like to addendum here. I did not end up eating here, because in my anal retentive planning-ness, I had decided to bring bags and bags of trail mix and sesame snacks, etc, which I continually offered to my lovely car companions. They claimed they wanted ‘real food’ and chose to go to Slice of Heaven. How wrong they would be.
So we go in, and the place is pretty empty, with a sad, withering couple slices out front. But hey, sometimes it’s because a fresh pie is getting made! But no…no, that’s what they had left. Literally all they had left. So my friends got their single slices and proceeded to feast on the flattest pizza known to man, also referred to as cardboard. The slices were far from heavenly, so we ended up swinging by good ol’ Burger King. Meanwhile, I continued to enjoy my crunchings and munchings free of charge.
For this adventure, we didn’t even need to travel more than a half hour from home! Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne is a stunningly kept up garden and all around beautiful place to visit. I’d heard of it for years, but never thought to go until one date day, my husband and I decided to leap for it and check out this hidden treasure. And hidden it is, down a lot of windy back roads!
The small redhead is me, but as you can see, the place is just bursting with greenery and life. Chanticleer spread much further than I thought it would too–it felt like we walked forever and still had more to discover! As far as gardens go, I’d rank this fairly high. Oftentimes, you see some greenhouses with splatterdash groupings of plants, but this was a masterfully woven tapestry of flowers, bushes, and trees all surrounding old structures and interacting with the existing buildings.
To think we almost missed this charming little town with its beautiful outlook! For anyone visiting Niagara Falls, once you get your glimpse, ditch the crowds and come up to this amazing town, barely a half hour North. To be honest, we didn’t plan the excursion at all–our lovely host at the Niagara Motor Lodge was the one who told us all about it and after we’d had enough of shoving our way through the crowds on the Canadian side, we decided in a change of plans.
It’s right next to Lake Ontario, and as you’re driving up, prepare to pass about 5 dozen wineries along the way. Not only is this prime wine country, but it’s home of some of the best ice wines in the region. My husband and I stopped at one of the wine shops to do a tasting and we weren’t disappointed–ice wine is lush, sweet brilliance in every drop. And also re-donkulously expensive, so we remained happy with our tasting. Niagara-On-The-Lake is a gorgeous little town littered with unique shops, bakeries, and cafes, and definitely worth a detour.
More from my pale kid adventures in Hawaii! So this day, we took a bus out to Sandy Beach (creative name, eh?) to go see some different beaches than the main one on the Waikiki shoreline. It was about a twenty minute to a half hour bus ride, and sort of just cool to take public trans up to our destination, but the beach was definitely gorgeous. This wasn’t a swimming beach though, and all around were posted signs about not going swimming. Though plenty of folks ignored them to go surfing on the gigantic waves. Luckily for me, I hate swimming and wasn’t deterred. I’m also terrified of deep water. All sorts–I refuse to swim in lakes even, and the ocean just makes things a thousand times worse.
But I do like looking at water, and the volcanic rock at Sandy Beach was well worth the excursion!
For me in particular, it was incredibly important to go to the Dingle Peninsula where Inch Beach is located. Why, you ask? I’m absentminded as get-all, and when I’m hunting for something, or babbling on, the words come out faster than my brain likes to process (mostly because other tabs are open and taking up memory space if you catch my drift). So I have a habit of replacing terms with dingle or doodle. Like, ‘get me that doodle,’ or ‘I want the dingle.’ Funny enough, anyone who’s spent enough time around me usually can interpret and catch the drift. I’ve had my husband and a couple besties pick it up.
So when we heard that there was a Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, naturally we had to go. Alas, we didn’t make it all the way in. Let me explain. We were driving along the roads on the opposite side of our comfort zone in a teensy car and even teensier lanes. And as the cliffs grew higher, what separated us from that breathtaking ledge? Shrubbery. Fucking shrubbery. So we reached a point of white-knuckled steering that grew too much and turned back around. Yes, we’re wusses.
Regardless, Inch Beach rocked. Literally. All sorts of rocks along the beach and I absolutely loved it.
One of the places that’s high on the tourism charts is Diamond’s Head in Hawaii. We were on Oahu, specifically staying in Waikiki for my cousin’s wedding in August of 2014. And me being a pale Irish kid had the genius idea of doing hikes since the beach wouldn’t work well for my tender complexion. This was a lovely lesson in different terrain.
Beautiful, right? Half the time I spent applying sunscreen. Little did I realize, a lot of the hikes through Hawaii involve open sun with little tree cover. So thankfully this was just a two hour hike, but I kept leaving my husband in the dust to cling to what minimal shade I could find. I’d wait for him in the shadow and then scamper off to find the next bit of shade.
I will say, it was worth it for the view though.