FORREST GUMP POINT

GPS: 37.1013933, -109.9905065

DATE: APRIL 28, 2019

Sometimes you think you know where you’re going and what you’re going to do when you get there. That was me. After all my research, I thought I knew for sure that Forrest Gump point was going to be the perfect place to take that iconic picture. Turns out we were close, but a little off.

Now don’t get me wrong. You can get some pretty awesome pictures from that viewpoint, but if you look at the picture below I’ll share a secret with you: The better viewpoint, at least in my humble opinion, is just down the road.

There were no other cars there, no other tourist and plenty of road to get just the right pictures we wanted.

Taking these pictures was the closest I ever got to playing frogger in real life. Kind of fun and kind of scary at the same time. It is super important to pay attention to the road. It’s easy to get distracted trying to get that perfect shot. Remember the cars have the open road and don’t want to stop because they are avoiding a pedestrian. We were lucky because we had one subject, one person on the camera, and one person yelling “CAR!” It was a system where we rotated and it kept us all safe.

Below I’ll share some of our awesome shots from that second viewpoint. You can see Monument Valley is closer in the background.

And for those of you who scrolled this far, I’ll show you some behind the scenes and bloopers 🙂

“I’m pretty tired… think I’ll go home now.”

– Forrest Gump

RT: LGA/EWR – VEGAS $11.50

Intro

“Do you even have a job?”

On one of my most recent trips to the southwest I was asked this very question. It was not asked with malicious intent, but genuine curiosity. The couple was only the second one we’d seen on the trail after hours of being there and we’d struck up a fun conversation. She was surprised to see how far we were from New York and even more surprised to learn I had just been to the Pacific Northwest the previous month. She followed the question with, “I mean, I assume you work.” Followed by a look in her eyes that just wanted to understand how.

Truthfully I get a chuckle out of it. I’M not even sure how I do it either. When I stop and analyze the how, it’s actually very simple. I have always been very frugal, especially with travel. I didn’t have the greatest jobs in college and I yearned to see more of the world. So my first couple of trips were promoted flight specials sent via email. And I always travelled in groups to save on the shared expenses like car rentals and hotels. I even ate fast food where I could, dollar menu please! Back then my stomach could handle anything lol.

From the moment I researched my very first trip, to the next one I have coming up in a week, I have always tried to spend less than the average person. This isn’t the method in which I book every trip, but for Las Vegas it was perfect. I learned I could fly there for $11.50 and I was all over it!

Did you just say $11.50?!

Yes I did! I’d like to begin by saying this is not an ad. I repeat, this is NOT AN AD. I DO NOT get paid for writing/posting this on my blog. BUT! If you’d like to contribute to my adventures and don’t have an American Express yet, I would really appreciate you using my link below…

MARIANA’S AMEX LINK

Do your due diligence as I did and read the fine print. If this seems like something you’re interested in then please, use my link and tell a friend 🙂

Anyways… a very good friend of mine referred me to this card three years ago and I received a total of 60,000 bonus miles with Delta Airlines for spending $3000 in the first 3 months. I love to shop, so that wasn’t hard for me to do. Not to mention I threw as many bills as I could on there to help.

I also got married last year and that was a great boost in miles as well. Unfortunately, some vendors only accepted bank transfers or Visa/MasterCard. But we paid as many vendors as we could with the Amex and was happy to see the miles accumulating at the close of each monthly statement.

So after having my Gold Amex for a few years I had accumulated more than enough points for my husband and I to travel to Las Vegas. Here’s the thing though, Vegas is now our third destination we’ve purchased with miles. I have really worked out a system to pretty much pay for everything with my Amex, and then pay off the Amex to not carry a balance (or get charged interest). But seriously though, I mean everything.

So how did you actually pay $11.50?

My friend and I have mulled over the idea of having a road trip through Utah and Arizona for a while. We have even watched documentaries and done a ton of research. So when her 30th birthday was approaching she decided she wanted to pull the trigger. She came over and we started looking up flights. Not happy with the costs associated with flying to Las Vegas in April, I recalled a post by The points guy.

I’m going to let you in on one of my secrets. I religiously follow a twitter page @thepointsguy I even have text notifications set up for new posts because this page is amazing! He’s consistently posting about mile deals and all sorts of travel gold. Gold I tell you! And he is in large part the reason why I thought about looking into using our miles the first two times. My friend also has the Amex Gold card and had miles available to use.

So I went into my Delta app (apple or android), clicked on “book” and selected “Show Price In: Miles.” I put in the dates I wanted to travel and after messing around with dates for a while was pleasantly surprised. I found round trip flights from La Guardia to Las Vegas (returning to Newark) with a price tag of $11.50 and 25,500 miles. These flights had a 1.5 hour outbound layover and a 1 hour inbound layover in Minneapolis and Detroit respectively.

Would I have preferred to fly direct? Duh -_-

But honestly, for that price! I did not care about the layovers. Nor did I care about finding my way home from Newark as I have done many times before.

So like I said, it really is that simple. I would say it’s a matter of consistently using your card to accumulate miles. You get 1 mile for every dollar you spend. That way when you least expect it, you can pay with points and not with cold hard cash. Also the responsible adult in me is screaming to add this as well: please be responsible if you do get the card. It’s very easy to spiral into debt and that’s the last thing I would want to come out of this. Swipe responsibly ; )

If you found this at all helpful and are considering getting the card, please don’t forget to use MARIANA’S AMEX LINK. I get some bonus miles thrown my way for referring you and every mile helps.

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

fullsizeoutput_7b58.jpeg

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

GAS WORKS PARK

GPS: 47.646050, -122.334911

DATE: MARCH 10 2019

What an interesting park! Seeing the grass, children, and dogs juxtaposed to old machinery is just an odd sight. But there’s beauty in the oddness. And it’s a small win for human kind to have turned such a pollutant producing company into a lovely park for its residents to enjoy. The park also has restrooms and a parking lot.

Lake Union’s water however is still very much a worry for me. You could see right to the bottom when you’re standing near the edge of the park. Eww. And no one is allowed in it. They don’t want the sediment to be disturbed. If you’re interested in reading on the history of the park check HERE.

If you’d like to see what else we did in the Seattle check out my other posts HERE. I have some pictures I’m going to leave here of our time in the park. Enjoy!

fullsizeoutput_6bcdfullsizeoutput_6bbcfullsizeoutput_6bcefullsizeoutput_6bd2fullsizeoutput_6bd6fullsizeoutput_6bd8

“I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way youdrive my car, I hate it when you stare. I hate your big, dumb combat boots and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick — It even makes me rhyme”

– 10 Things I Hate About You

SEATTLE DAY 2

This post is four of four. It’s about my sister and I setting out to see the Pacific North West. Well, as much as we could in the time we had. She had school and I had work come Monday morning BUT THE LONG WEEKEND WAS OURS TO CONQUER!!! [insert fun, evil, maybe not so evil but slightly delusional from lack of sleep laugh here]

For those of you who came here in search of information for your own trip, or simply don’t care for the somewhat mundane fluffy stuff. I’m providing you with an out. Below you will find links to all the posts directly relating to the things Diana and I did in and around the city of Seattle. If upon reading this they’re not all updated, I promise I’m working diligently to get it all on here ASAP. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask 🙂

This day we woke up the latest we’d gotten up the whole weekend. We got ready and checked ourselves out of the Airbnb. We were staying in the Queen Anne area and I woke up wanting some Seattle coffee. So we drove…

Our first stop was Storyville Coffee in Queen Anne. It was a 7 minute drive in the rental. Queen Anne has a ton of steep hills and I was not physically ready to walk that. I was real happy to have that rental. We drove it the whole weekend, and being summer, it was really easy to park. We found parking across the street right away.

If you read my post regarding what we did in Seattle Day 1, then you know how lucky I think her birthday is. The barista informed us about the free mugs they were giving away and we scored two!

fullsizeoutput_6bb7

After coffee we walked over to a game store Blue Highway Games. Some patrons were sitting at tables playing games. There were signs of the many events the store held. There were soooooo many games. they even had

We then drove to the Gas works park 8 minutes away. The sun was out and even though there was some wind, it was enjoyable. We had on long sleeves but some people had on shorts and no shirt!

fullsizeoutput_6bbe

We went back to Kerry Park because the night before my sister didn’t see Mount Rainier. She had no clue it sat just to the right of the city in the horizon. (I’ll be back to see it up close one day!) Again, parking was super easy.

fullsizeoutput_6bbf

From Kerry Park we drove 15 minutes to the Washington University area. We wanted to visit the Henry Art Gallery. I had done some research and knew it was free on Sundays. Check that link out to see what exhibitions are available when you visit. It’s hard to post these pictures and not post all of them, closeups and all. So I invite you to visit their website. I could not do the art justice describing it myself.

This hall below had art that invited the viewer to get close and personal.

8b0pobpoTkW5JZJaj+BULQ

A quick walk up the stairs and we entered the Suzzallo and Allen libraries. All the Harry Potter feels!!! Also, for the fellow coffee drinkers, there’s a Starbucks on the first floor.

fullsizeoutput_6bc4

Once we had our fill of large university life, we headed over to the Olympic Sculpture Park. There’s several levels to it with a decent collection of outdoor sculptures. There’s also plenty of places to sit, relax and reflect. We were tripping over the Wake sculpture by Richard Serra. There’s a great picture of it HERE. With this piece it really is a matter of perspective. We were not expecting these massive S-shaped ship-like shapes. We saw what that picture shows, not THIS. I swear they’re the same sculptures. Mind. Blown.

IMG_3929

I can’t say I’m a fan of taking elevators to top floors of famous buildings. So I tend to avoid them. However, I don’t mind getting close to marvel at them for a moment. The space needle’s lobby has a rather large souvenir store that wraps around the base. And tickets are purchased outside at kiosks to go up or buy them HERE ahead of time. Whether you ride the elevator or not, the surrounding areas are nice for leisurely walks. There was even live music to accompany our stroll.

IMG_3933

To finish our super busy and wonderful trip to the Pacific North West we had planned a sunset watch. As I mentioned in my other posts, we had a sunset watch almost every night. This night we got a great parking space and spotted a few seals. The time-lapse is amazing, I’ll post it to my instagram. You can just make out the tide coming in and my sister and I are spotted throughout as we attempted to skip rocks.

fullsizeoutput_6bc6

We didn’t stay until it was super dark as we had a flight home to catch. Thank goodness we left when we did. The line at security was unbelievably long. Luckily we had stopped at a Jack in the Box on the way. We ate dinner while we waited in line, like a true new yorker going home.

Until next time Seattle!

SEATTLE DAY 1

This post is three of four. It’s about my sister and I setting out to see the Pacific North West. Well, as much as we could in the time we had. She had school and I had work come Monday morning BUT THE LONG WEEKEND WAS OURS TO CONQUER!!! [insert fun, evil, maybe not so evil but slightly delusional from lack of sleep laugh here]

For those of you who came here in search of information for your own trip, or simply don’t care for the somewhat mundane fluffy stuff. I’m providing you with an out. Below you will find links to all the posts directly relating to the things Diana and I did in and around the city of Seattle. If upon reading this they’re not all updated, I promise I’m working diligently to get it all on here ASAP. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask 🙂

Getting There

“WAIT! WHAT?!”

Those were the words I said as the GPS informed me I would be getting on a Ferry. We were driving to Seattle from Port Angeles and I had pulled over to verify this info. I was freaking out because what do I do with the rental?!?!?!?! I can’t leave it and hop on a ferry!

Turns out it’s pretty normal to take the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle with your car. It reduces driving time because you avoid driving through Tacoma and it gives you a chance to stretch your legs. I can’t say it wasn’t a welcomed surprised once we figured it all out.

It was only appropriate we had another awesome surprise like this. It was after all my sister’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAROLA! Her birthday had already brought me luck earlier that day. A certain someone was speeding and got pulled over by a state trooper. I don’t know if it was because of the out-of-state license or the fact that we weren’t actually rushing to be anywhere. I told him I honestly didn’t know I was speeding. My sister and I were just laughing it up and enjoying each other’s company. Lucky for us, it was March 9th. So we were sent on our way with a warning! Also, we were THE LAST CAR to get on the ferry. Luckily for us that meant we wouldn’t have to wait for the next one. Drive time uninterrupted. WOO! 🙂

So, the ferry. Well ok then… begin photo shoot 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Never one to miss opportunities for some great pics we did just that. From different levels of the ferry and different distances from the city. We even had time to face time with our parents and tell them how exciting this trip was so far.

I should mention the weather though… It was cold and windy, don’t let those smiles fool you. Most people stayed in their cars or in the enclosed portion of the observation deck. We don’t get to do this everyday so we enjoyed every moment of it.

Soon the ferry was arriving and it was time to get back in the car.

We drove for 5 minutes after getting off the ferry to the Pike Place Market Garage. You can find their hourly rates HERE. We chose this lot because even though it isn’t the cheapest option, it’s centrally located. We walked to everything from there.

We started our Seattle sightseeing by heading straight to the Seattle Art Museum. Just a tip we learned from a local: donate your own amount instead of paying the suggested admission fee. Also, I wouldn’t pay for the extra exhibits. There isn’t a guard or attendee to check tickets at the exhibits so you are free to go where you wish.

This piece here… it spoke to me on levels I can’t even explain. I may write a post about it one day, but for now here’s a picture with its description. #RedCedar

fullsizeoutput_6b45fullsizeoutput_6b4d

And as any self-respecting coffee drinker I had to see what the fuss was about at the first Starbucks. Full disclaimer, this in fact is not the original location of the very first Starbucks. It’s the place the first store moved to in 1977. We read an article on The Guardian and it provided some informative history about the place.

Either way, it was cool to see the original mermaid logo with her bare breast and a sign erected over 40 years ago. The line was crazy long and as much as I love coffee, I wasn’t interested in waiting for one at the moment.

fullsizeoutput_6b50

So the birthday girl opted for coffee flavored ice cream instead 🙂

fullsizeoutput_6b53

It was delicious. Even more so because we did not wait on-line for it. Just a minute walk down the road was the famous public market sign and clock. It’s a timing game trying to get a picture there with everyone standing around for their own perfect picture.

fullsizeoutput_6b59

Now… the fish throwing. It was hilarious watching this guy trying to entertain a group of tourist. He played a couple of pranks (which I won’t ruin by sharing here) and cracked a ton of jokes. Here’s the catch, get it? Catch! I crack myself up! Sorry, my husband says my jokes are terrible lol.

Anyways, the catch is that in order to watch someone throw and catch the fish, someone has to actually purchase something. So be patient, a local will show up and buy something eventually.

fVHX8Gm6Ss2BNR0q87E4NA

Now. The fish market didn’t bother me. Not even the smells. Probably because it was chilly out and not the middle of summer. But this right here- I could smell the weird icky sugar-ish odor as we walked downstairs to the gum wall. Gross. If this is your kind of thing, I totally respect that. Just not my cup of tea. I even totally understand how it started, and you can read more about that HERE. I just don’t get how it became a tourist spot. I found a truly satisfying video of the wall being cleaned off HERE. After we took our pictures, we ticked it off the list.

fullsizeoutput_6b58

EHH..fullsizeoutput_6b56

Here is something to note about walking around the market. There are stairs and steep streets everywhere. Bring your walking shoes.

mWejaiSISFeFoRdcpr94RQ

Once we’d had our fill of walking the market and its surrounding areas we had lunch. Biscuits as sandwiches? YES PLEASE!

dy2sr8z3QFiLsWKD8qw+Pg

We grabbed our car and headed to the AirBnb. The AirBnb, located in the Queen Anne area, was perfect. She even had a hard cider waiting in the fridge for us. We were able to relax for a bit and rest our feet. The plan was to head over to Kerry park in an uber around 5:30pm. Just in time for sunset. It set us back $7. Not having to drink and drive? Priceless.

Now THAT is a view. We were prepared (unlike many others there) and had a large plastic bag to sit on. It rains a lot in seattle and you can’t be too prepared for sitting on a wet ground. We also brought a blanket and set the time-lapse on the GoPro. Aside from the first night in Washington, we were treated to some great sunsets that weekend.

tjX2dKENQ3edBCVoWXJ6bA

After sunset we took an uber to Kinokuniya. My sister watches anime and I was in dire need of some market shopping. We purchased tea sets, looked through tons of merchandise and even bought some chopsticks to replace my broken ones.

It was Diana’s birthday and she was preparing for a feast. We went to a place my friends and I had spoken about in 2018. It was this magnificent video that we all passed around via Facebook messenger. I figured since my sister loves seafood and we would be in town, it would be a great place to spend her 19th birthday. They even give you bibs and gloves. That should have been a sign of things to come.

Downside? We waited for an hour to be seated. But we completely forgot that once this bag showed up. We were so hungry! It was full of crab legs, crawfish, and all sorts of delicious sea creatures. This is my sister preparing to devour her dinner.

fullsizeoutput_6b5b

And devour we did. That bag was E M P T Y

They were nice enough to gift my sister her favorite ice cream (green tea) for free. The drinks also got a lot stronger. I’m telling you, March 9th is a lucky day!

fullsizeoutput_6b60

You can actually see her ice cream sandwich right on the table above 🙂

We closed that place down as some of the last customers there. They even do this cool thing where if you spend more than $100 you could spin for a free appetizer. We spun, we won, we conquered! I’m hoping to go back to Seattle soon enough to be able to use that voucher for some more good eats.

“Uber, take me back to Queen Anne please…”

“Food is philosophical”

Cindy Torres

HOH RAINFOREST

GPS: 47.860714, -123.934639

DATE: MARCH 8, 2019

HI THERE!

While doing my research for visiting Olympic National Park I found some pretty interesting things about the park. It has mountains full of snow and everything winter while simultaneously being home to a temperate rainforest. It sounded interesting and I began looking through pictures and could not believe the amount of moss present. So without hesitation I added it to the list of must see places while in Washington.

For context think about this: In New York we get about 42 inches of rainfall annually. In the HOH rainforest however, they get 140-170 inches of rainfall annually. And 30 inches of that is from the fog alone! The visitor center has plenty of information for those seeking to be informed hikers. They have free pamphlets with drawings to help you identify plant life and animal prints.

fullsizeoutput_6aa7

GETTING THERE

From the town of Forks, WA, the drive is 45 minutes. From Port Angeles it’s closer to 2 hours. And what a drive it is! You can watch the trees changing in height, color and type as you approach the park. You’ll arrive to the booth to pay admission. We paid $30 on a credit card. The fee grants you access for the week.

fullsizeoutput_6a9f

HOH RAINFOREST

I just love seeing these brown signs! I get so excited when I cross the threshold of a national park. As though I have made it to a secret land where only beauty, fresh air and freedom exist! This is one of two we saw on our way in.

fullsizeoutput_6aa1

Right outside the visitor center there is a bulletin board with information about the surrounding area. There are maps and daily weather updates which are super helpful if you’re doing the long hike. The hall of mosses is .8 miles, the Spruce Trail is 1.2, and the HOH river trail is 35 miles to Blue Glacier (not this time ONP!) and back.

fullsizeoutput_6aa5

I spotted this wild Diana perched on a trail sign (Haha!) The trails are all very different lengths and the mini trail which isn’t shown here is wheelchair accessible.

fullsizeoutput_69ae

Right after crossing a cute little bridge over a stream that’s a small vein of the HOH river you climb a short way up. Passing this gorgeous tree just commanding your attention. It’s impressive when you look to its last branches. IT. IS. TALL.

fullsizeoutput_6aa9

Soon you arrive to a sign pointing you in the direction of the Hall of Mosses loop. It was fun reading that we were entering an older part of the forest. Primeval spirit? Yes, absolutely…

fullsizeoutput_6aab

The higher we climbed the more snow was present. Or ice I should say as it was a little slippery. This beautiful tree looked like it was taking a nap. Or taking a bow. I don’t know. I just know this tree was way more graceful than anyone I’ve ever seen.

fullsizeoutput_6aad

Look at this amazing moss!!!

fullsizeoutput_6aae

So green!!!

fullsizeoutput_6ab0

I couldn’t help myself so I hugged this gentle giant. I owe so many good shots to my sister Diana. She grabbed some great pictures. But we also shared some good laughs with the phones put away in our pockets or backpacks.

fullsizeoutput_6ab4

Amidst our walk we spotted this hoof print. We weren’t sure how fresh it was but how cool!? Was he coming or going?

fullsizeoutput_6ab5

My sister saw this tree and claimed it as her own. She said there was enough room in there to call it a condo. A one bedroom condo she said by New York City’s standards lol.

fullsizeoutput_6ab6

This fungus was interesting. When seen higher up in the trees it looks like there are sea turtles sticking out from the tree showing their under bellies.

fullsizeoutput_6ab7

I asked my sister to sit on the other side of this log. We sat for a couple of minutes in silence and closed our eyes. We concentrated on the sounds of the rainforest, birds, stream and trees. There weren’t many other people at the park so we were able to take it in unbothered.

fullsizeoutput_6abb

Before leaving the HOH rainforest (when I least expected it and wasn’t looking at her) Diana was taking a rest. She said that it helped her hips and back after laying there for a little bit. I believe the poor thing. We were using every ounce of daylight to sightsee everything we could.

fullsizeoutput_6abd

The hall of mosses was gorgeous. We were so happy to have seen this part of the Olympic National Park. Considering the time of year it was, it wasn’t nearly as cold as we anticipated. Chilly yes, but not cold…

If you’d like to see more about this trip, click the links below:

“Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle”

-Unknown