A lot has been happening over the past two months since my last post update, most importantly my blog turning 2! Happy 2nd Birthday joolsjots, hard to believe my journey has come full circle since my first blog post. Briefly taking a look back over my stats for the year I’m a little sad that I didn’t celebrate some major milestones for my blog. I think its understandable that with all the change that has happened the past six months, something was going to fall by the wayside and unfortunately it was my dedication to taking the time to write posts. Even though I haven’t been as present, joolsjots has reached over 20,000 views! WOW. I know for many big time bloggers this is probably a daily stat for them, but to me? It means so much. This blog was created to document a massive turning point in my life and to share the trials and tribulations of a girl that was born into the celtic tiger, but who ended up trying to fight her way out of the recession. I held onto all my hopes and dreams, to be able to travel in the US and to find a career that I always longed for. Now, I have people from all over the world reading along with that journey. From Ireland to Canada (of course – thank you peeps!) but who would have imagined people from all corners of the world such as Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Argentina, Vietnam, Guyana, Japan, Peru and so many more (92 countries!) would want to read along with my life? Wait, did I mention Kazakhstan (home of Borat)? Insane. [Read more…]
First off I just want to say apologies for my lack of blogging over the past few weeks! I always find it crazy when I go a few weeks without blogging and come back to see I still have hundreds of people dropping by my site every day. Thank you all! You are the reason I always come back and share more. Truth be told, it’s taken a while to settle back in and to find a balance between work, being around my family again, travelling and finding time to be creative. I’ve been enjoying weekends filled with family events and activities but somehow managed to neglect my little blog along the way. So I’m back with a vengeance to share more of our road trip in the US. I think it’s important to find the time to invest in things that make you happy and blogging definitely is one of those things for me. If you’ve missed my first part where we started in Las Vegas you can read here, followed by our second stop in Yosemite Park here.
We hit the road early after leaving Yosemite Falls to make our way Southwest. Instead of heading straight into San Francisco, we headed into the Wine country of Sonoma Valley. Sonoma is in the San Francisco Bay area, but is known as the birthplace of the California Wine industry. Driving through the Valley you’re surrounded by vineyards and wineries. We drove into the small town of Sonoma and pulled into the Sunshine Cafe, where I had a $20 glass of wine the size of my head. It was a delicious day and although we didn’t get to do a winery tour, we did get to experience the beauty of the wine country. [Read more…]
If you’ve been reading along on our road trip so far, you’ll know that we spent the first few days in Las Vegas before heading onto Yosemite National Park. Vegas was the best start to our adventure and I have to say it really set the standards high. I wasn’t sure what to expect but Vegas had really raised the bar on what was about to be the trip of a lifetime. You can read the first part of our adventure here.
Travelling from the bright lights of Sin City into the picturesque, tranquil National Park in California was a a slightly strange transition but so so worth it. I felt like we were part of a movie set and there was a constant back-drop that took our breath away.
FYI – This is a longgggg post. So sit tight and grab a cuppa. Apologies in advance!
Day three: Las Vegas – Death Valley – Yosemite National Park
We set off as early as possible to leave Las Vegas and hit the road to Yosemite National Park via Death Valley. We didn’t really know what to expect on what would be our longest drive on the trip. The highways are so wide it’s unbelievably scary, I’m talking 10 lanes wide! With the play list flowing we set off through the desert, I was nice and cushy in the passenger seat (I drove for about 5 minutes before screaming and pulling over). With my camera in hand ready to capture some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. [Read more…]
A couple of weeks ago Gary and I finally took on our biggest road trip to date, travelling to Nevada, Arizona and California. Doing one big loop we started off in Las Vegas, Nevada and drove to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. From there we drove through the most amazing scenery of Death Valley and into Yosemite National Park, California. We camped, hiked, climbed, biked and walked through one of the most picturesque parts of the Sierra Nevada (more on that later). From there, we headed west across to Sonoma, the beautiful wine country and then across the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco (which stole my heart). From san Francisco we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, through some of the most beautiful parts of California! Such as Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel and across the Bixby Bridge into McWay Falls, along Julia Pfeiffer State Park continuing further south into Cambria, Malibu, Santa Barbara, and into Los Angeles where we stayed in Venice Beach until finishing off in Las Vegas for once last hoorah.
As you know by now Gary and I love to plan road trips, the freedom of the open road and the endless experiences are priceless. But as I’ve said we found it difficult to find much research online about route planners and must see stops. So I’m here to share it all with you, and highly recommend taking this once in a life time road trip!
We had 15 days to explore and see a part of the world that has been on my bucket list for the longest time. I was so excited to be going on this trip so we definitely had it jam packed, but looking back it was worth every second. I hope you can follow along with our trip planner that I’m sharing with you and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll share with you our experience, recommendations and things we would have done a little differently. So feel free to take some advice, tips and maybe it’ll help you on your adventure!
Planning a big road trip can be so much fun with nothing but open roads, the sky really is the limit. You can choose every single piece of the trip, where you want to go and what you want to see. Sometimes things can get a little bit stressful when you aren’t going through any big companies like Trail Finders or Usit, who will plan the trip for you. Having 3/4 weeks to plan a 16 day road trip with limited time and resources. Kind of stressful. Secretly though, I love the planning and organizing or road trips. It seems to be what works best for us, last minute job.
I found the amount of blogs documenting their Pacific Coast Highway trips were slim to none. And if this was going to be one of the best trips of our lives? I was going to have to depend on myself and my own research. Many hours over the past few evenings I’ve spent google mapping, routing, timing, hotel searching, airbnb review reading, city stop exploring and budgeting.
Finally it all seems to be coming together and as we get closer to the trip I thought it would be good to share with you guys some tips that I’ve discovered along this planning path.
The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous scenic routes in the world. Highway 1 hugs the coast line for 130 miles along the winding spectacular cliff drive. I wanted to be sure we didn’t miss out on anything and that we budgeted in all the factors for this trip. [Read more…]
Gary and I couldn’t think of a better way to finish off our two years here other than ending it with the ultimate road trip. Before we pack up and move home we wanted to make the most of being this close to the US and take a holiday we will never forget. For the longest time it’s been on our bucket list to do the west coast and drive through California; From San Francisco along the Pacific Coast right down to Los Angeles. But we want to do more than just that so we’ve added in an extra route! We are planning to start in Las Vegas, drive through Death Valley North up to Yosemite National Park and across to Sonoma/Napa Valley which leads us into SF. From SF we will continue down the famous PCH and into LA.
I’m so excited to start planning this trip! Only 3 weeks away and we have a lot to do. I’ve done a good bit of research so far and below is a few pics of the sights we are most excited to see! I’m doing this post to find out any information or tips that you may have that you would like to share with me before we go? Please leave a comment either below or else on facebook, instagram or even in a mail! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear all your suggestions!
Have you been to any of the big cities on the west coast? Restaurant suggestions? Hotels? Hidden Sights? Please share them all!
1/ Las Vegas, Nevada
An early morning start on my last day in NY began with having breakfast with my brother. Time was limited as my flight was early afternoon so once we said goodbye I jumped on the subway to head out to Brooklyn to meet Lisa.
We were going for brunch before leaving but first we hit up the Brooklyn Artists & Flea Market. Another alternative, cool spot packed with ready made crafts. It was cute and quirky and I would have liked a little longer to wander about. [Read more…]
Saturday morning I woke up fresh as a daisy and found myself staring into the faces of the 5 spice girls as the teen posters casually line along Lisa’s bedroom wall. Lisa’s room is a fascinating place. It’s like something from an American movie; beauty pageant trophies, Spice Girls posters everywhere and amazing treasures she’s collected among all her travels.
I came to greet Lisa and her mom and have a coffee. It’s really strange how in-tuned you become to accents when you live away from home, you can spot where someone is from immediately when you hear them speak. Maybe it’s because your missing your home countries accent, or maybe because it’s just as fascinating hearing people from the city you are in as it is exploring it. Lisa’s mom is brilliant. She’s a real New Yorker. I could sit and talk to her for hours. But as time was ticking, we decided to hit the road and head back into the city – with our McDonald’s drive through breakfast in tow.
Three hash browns, an extra large orange juice and an egg Mc Muffin later we came cruising in to the big apple. A nice early morning start we set off for the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. A snow storm brewing, we entered the museum at FIT to the Faking it: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits exhibit. It was fun, fast and free. FYI – don’t attempt flash photography here, as one poor woman ran with her camera from the building. [Read more…]
You know when you try and plan something but things keep getting in the way? That was like my NYC trip in February.
Firstly, we had dates mixed up which meant I wouldn’t get to see my sister-in-law (or the bump) as she wasn’t going to be there until the weekend after me – booo. But luckily my brothers trip was moved forward and I still managed to see him! Which 1 out 2 wasn’t too bad, considering I live on another continent. I’ll take any family members I can get. Let’s not forget that I was also getting to see my bestie Lisa – bonus!
Strangely flying from Toronto to NY is just like jumping on a flight from Dublin to London. The people at the airport don’t think twice about the destination because half of them were on business trips – while I was secretly ecstatic. Checked in and about to go through customs I got an email from the airline to say my flight was cancelled. Typical. Just my luck. So instead of boarding I went to the bar. But Canadian’s clearly don’t like drinking alcohol before 11am? WTF. There’s no time at an airport, it doesn’t count! You’re going on your holidays for god sake. Your traveling to different time zones so you should be able to have a celebratory (or drowning in my case) drink… But no. So instead I ordered a latte and called my mam on facetime. FYI – you can drink at Dublin airport at 6am. Proud to be Irish or what? [Read more…]
Why a roadtrip you may ask? Because the roadtrip is what makes the journey an adventure. Many people much prefer the convenience of a flight and that’s ok too but sometimes you just don’t have the money to splurge on such trips. That’s why I love to road trip. Something Gary and I have really become accustom to since moving here because lets face it, America is way too close to worry about saving pennies to make a trip. You can cross the border from an hour of where we live and drive into New York State.
Yes living in Europe is a different situation and come to think of it I never really thought about driving any where other than Ireland and the UK because flight sales can be relatively cheap and cost effective. But since experiencing the couple of road trips Gary and I have gone on over the past 2 years, I see now why people opt to take the scenic route.
Just the two of you, an open road, giddy with excitement, a map, a couple of road trip songs, food and a camera. The unexpected element of stumbling across a beautiful natural wonder, not the ‘typical’ tourist spots, going off the beaten track… I cherish those moments we made on our road trips to the US, the feeling of accomplishment when you see the whole city skyline in front of you. I’ve got wanderlust brewing inside and I’m itching to get back into the car and hit the open road! [Read more…]