Tag: Travel

Viva Las Vegas!

Viva Las Vegas!

It’s strange because Brian and I have only been to Vegas three times, but because each time we’ve stayed for so long…I feel like we’ve been there a hundred times.

In 2017/2018 we went for TEN DAYS to celebrate our anniversary and New Years. In 2019 we were there for four days during our six-week road trip. Then just recently, we were there for five. Just the ten days alone was a lot. A lot for Vegas, I mean. Like…don’t people normally only got for a weekend? Three days max?

We’re not your typical Vegas travelers. We’re not huge gamblers and not huge drinkers. We’re not ones to go to bars or clubs, etc. We DO, however, like hikes, walks, and climbing shit (not to say we don’t like the casinos or drinking, we just don’t do that every day). It’s the desert! There are playgrounds everywhere. We’ve come to fall in love with Red Rock Canyon and after the first time in 2017, we always go back. ^2017

< 2019


It’s a giant playground, and I say that with the most respect. Like, don’t vandalize or be a dick. We usually spend a few hours there before sunset and leave before dark (the way out is a scenic drive and hella curvy/bendy).

Personally, this visit to Vegas felt more nostalgic than I was expecting. I think because it felt so good to be back after Covid. Other than not having concerts, not traveling was really hard. I’m very privileged to be able to go where I go and Brian and I work hard to make it happen (mainly Brian), but MAN! Not being able to go ANYWHERE for that long?
It still felt risky when we went and we had to be extremely careful every day. It was strange, for sure.

I was thankful to see that masks were mandatory EVERYWHERE! This time around (understanding why Brian referred to it as the Fuck It trip) we stayed at Caesars. 2019 was The Stratosphere (for one night) and Luxor, and before that was Flamingo. We’re slowly checking the casino/hotels from the main part of the strip off our mental list.

Every casino had a sign at the entrance saying how masks were mandatory and scattered throughout the building were security guards with boxes of masks, handing them out to anyone who wasn’t wearing one. It was a beautiful sight.

Caesars is huge. Like, it’s fucking enormous. We were there for five days, and I swear it took us three just to be able to comfortably navigate our way around it. And that’s not including the mall. The mall is its own beast. We checked in just past midnight and it was surprisingly NOT busy for it being the day after New Years. The interior of this place is BEAUTIFUL, and our room was beautiful—my favourite was the bathroom. We were pretty beat from being in the car the entire day, so we walked around for a bit, saw the Bellagio fountains do their thing, then went in for the night…morning? It was almost 5 a.m.For this leg of the trip, while still relaxed, we did a lot of walking. Again, we don’t mind walking. Originally, we had a few things planned, but we canceled them due to STUPID Covid. So, our schedule opened up…for a lot more walking.
            We walked around Caesar’s mall and window browsed (not shopped. browsed) the ridiculously overpriced brand shit, then went down to the opposite end of the strip to New York New York to get Shake Shack. We love Shake Shack. Canada doesn’t have Shake Shack…the closest one is in Michigan. So…we made sure to stock up this trip, haha! Now, the bathtub in our hotel room…when I tell you I lived in this thing…I wouldn’t be overexaggerating (thank you menstrual cramps). My long-ass 5’9” fit perfectly, and then some, AND it was a Jacuzzi.
(side note: we had to buy this indie brand body wash (that I also used for bubbles) because the other shit was locked? up? Because…America? I have no idea, hahaha)

(I know you ask for someone, but we couldn’t find a staff member anywhere)

The following night we had dinner reservations at the Strat’s 360-degree restaurant. My cramps were trying to kill me, but they were nothing some Robax, weed, and vodka wouldn’t fix (temporarily).

To be honest, we weren’t 100% satisfied with our food, which was odd because last time we ate there, it was delicious. The vegetarian options, like most restaurants, were a disappointment, but that’s also something I’m used to. However, I got wasteypants and that’s always a good time. But, like I said, my cramps were trying to kill me, so after our dinner, we went back to our room and went to bed. The 4th was Red Rock Day. We went in the afternoon and climbed and climbed. It’s all done at your own risk. There are some paths to follow but for the most part, you’re finding your own way up and your own way back down. That’s half the fun. That night was a struggle to find what to eat. While I love The Vegas, it’s either super hella expensive, requires a nice dress attire, OR piss-shit broke. There’s not really an in between. But we eventually found a Mexican restaurant in the corner of Planet Hollywood and YUM! (I can’t remember the name) Our last day, we drove out to The Valley of Fire and spent a few hours there before our flight home. Another giant rocky playground with a bunch of different hikes and view points. We prefer fucking off on our own and doing our own thing. This was the second time I drove the Challenger. Long open roads with almost no one on them. I gave it some gas and felt the power, but nothing crazy. Brian definitely had more fun with it than I did, but honestly, I was just as happy being a passenger.

I don’t know why I was so psyched out to drive the car. First off, Brian only paid for one driver, so I wasn’t even insured under the damn thing to begin with. And it wasn’t so much that I was nervous about me driving it, I was nervous about everyone else around me.

Los Angeles was FILLED with auto collision shops. Like, I felt like every corner was an auto collision shop, and all the cars on the roads would be covered in dents and bangs and fender benders. I didn’t want to risk it. Even as we were driving on the highway in Vegas, I think I made the comment that I would feel more comfortable driving in Nevada than California, and a few minutes later, someone almost (dangerously) cut us off and Brian had to slam on the brakes and the horn and change lanes very quickly and it was all very dramatic. I laughed out loud and said I was never driving the car. We had to get Covid tests before flying home because if we were positive, we weren’t going anywhere. For a while, we both had a fear that we actually had it because for almost the entire trip, we both had slight sore throats. But we spent one week by the beach, and then another week in the desert. Our throats were bound to be sore.
So, $250USD ea later, we had booked earlier in the week to assure we had appointments and drove to Henderson to wait in a car line-up in a parking lot. It was very well organized and for the most part, everything moved quickly. We got to stay inside the car and a nurse came to our windows to perform the test. She commented on my hand tattoos and asked me what “Inked Caffeine” meant. I AWKWARDLY EXPLAINED THAT IT WAS MY BOOK THAT I HAD JUST RECENTLY PUBLISHED, AND SHE SOUNDED INTERESTED and that is still such an odd interaction for me to have.

We filled out some forms and a few hours later got the negative results emailed to us. When we got back to Caesars, we took advantage of the parking lot to empty out the car and clean it up a bit before giving it back. Enterprise is right near the airport, but we still needed to take a shuttle from point A to point B. I was honestly SO SAD to see the Challenger go.

It was a very long and tiresome adventure home, but after a five hour layover in North Carolina and some uncomfortable sleeps on the plane later, we were finally back in cold (January) Canada.

I always love going out West and this was another successful trip! And I get to do it all over again in September when we go to Hawaii for Sarah’s wedding! Wee!

Serotonin Boost

Serotonin Boost

            The serotonin trip to LA/LV ended up being more serotonin than my little black heart could handle. We had an early morning flight to LA and my wonderful father dropped us off at Pearson for 6a.m. Bag check was simple, but we got pulled aside for a random security check. Originally, I was inwardly shitting myself, but the chick we had was super cool, and we all had some pretty good laughs. In the end, it helped us pass all the security line-ups, so it was a win. (We left on Boxing Day, so you could imagine how busy parts of the airport were)            Boarding was simple, flight was uncomfortable simple, and all the other boring airport stuff was also simple. We took a shuttle to Enterprise where Brian already had a car rented, and I was already all smiles. It felt very nostalgic being back.

            We’re being brought out to the parking garage (it’s blue skies and sun outside) and I’m looking around at all the different car options, and beside me was a black Porsche GT3. So, I joked to the guy “what about the Porsche?” then instantly felt like a douche and quickly backed it up with “sorry, you probably get that a lot.”. He found it amusing and said, “people normally ask for the Lamborghini Urus.”, and points to it parked behind me (it was bright yellow). I love me a good Ghini, but I’m more of a Huracan gal.

            So, we’re ouing and awing at the Lambo, and Brian asks, “do you have any Challengers?”, and if my obsessive Instagram story posts weren’t a big enough indication, I’m IN LOVE with Dodge Challengers. Specifically, the Hellcat (a 1969 is also fine). I kinda tripped at the question because WHAT IF THERE ARE CHALLENGERS?! AND WHAT IF I SEE THEM BUT CAN’T HAVE THEM?!

I should also mention our current car rented out was a Mitsubishi Mirage…and nothing against the Mitsubishi family, but…

            So sure enough, dude points to a black one, a red wine one, and a white one. Like GOD DAMN that’s a sexy car. I’m in my own little car heaven, and dude says it’s onLY $20 EXTRA A DAY. ON OUR MITSUBISHI MIRAGE PRICE?! (I think the red baby was a Hellcat, the black baby was a NOTHING RT and whitey was a Hemi. Hemi is my #2 crush.) SO BRIAN IS READING OVER THE NEW RENTAL FORMS, AND I’M FIVE FEET BACK, HYPERVENTILATING! We fucking got it, and I wouldn’t shut up to the guy how much it meant to me, and how it was my favourite car, and what this meant for the trip, and good god I was probably so annoying. We tipped him, I thanked him 800x more, and off we went (Brian driving. No WAY was I going to be the first driver. Sounds backwards—you’d think I’d be hyped to drive…I’ll circle back to this).            First stop was Ocean Inn & Suites in Huntington Beach. Only one night, but we were a 30 second walk to the beach. When it comes to swimming, I’m not the biggest fan. I love a good pool, but oceans/lakes/rivers/ponds/whatever, no bueno. BUT! Beach walks and sitting and watching the waves, and the sound of waves…I love all that shit. It’s probably what I miss the most whenever I come home, because a walk along Wasaga just isn’t the same as the pacific coast.            We watched the sunset on the beach, watched the sunrise the following morning, then packed up, checked out, and made our way to the pier (10mins drive). We were here on the road trip two years ago, and already knew what to expect. I knew this beach was good for shell hunting, and we walked up and down the beach on the shoreline for an hour. Slight breeze, blue sky with the odd cloud, and SUN! The sun disappears in Canada every November, and doesn’t come back until March, so the warmth of the sun felt nice. Getting a headache from squinting in sunlight is a good headache (I forgot my sunglasses at home).            Late afternoon, we got some showers, but by that time, we were driving to our home for the week, Dream Hollywood. It’s a 20mins walk to Dallas’ apartment, a 15mins walk to Jimmy’s apartment, and like…a 1min walk to Hollywood Blvd., and if you don’t know what any of that means, you’re doing something wrong. Once again, Brian successfully accidentally got us a place in the area I know best.
+10pts for Brian.

            This place is new. She was not here in April 2019. Absolutely beautiful inside. All the décor was animated NTFs, and I felt like I was in the future, haha! Our room was beautiful, although the view was nothing special.            We later made our way down to Santa Monica, mainly just to walk on the pier and look at all the lights (the pier is a good vibe), but because of the ass weather we had, everything was closed. The lights were left on, but there was almost nobody around. The stairs leading to the beach were also closed except for one set down by the boardwalk, and we never figured out why. I just assumed it was Covid related.

            We walked down closer to the shore, and something Brian has always been great for is taking candid pictures of me. Or another Instagram favourite, the “fake candid”. The “I’m Going To Do Something And You Take A Picture And I’ll Pretend To Not Know”. So, he tells me to look at the rides on the pier so he can get a silhouette shot of me, and I’m like yes, this picture will be sick and walk ahead of him. There’s a pause, and I’m so euphoric about being back, my cheeks ache from smiling. Brain says “okay”, and I turn around expecting him to be showing me the picture he just took, but HE’S ON ONE KNEE, HOLDING OUT A RING!!??!? I think I mentally blacked out because it took me a second to realize what I was looking at. Then it hit me, my hands covered my mouth, and I took a minimum ten steps backwards (he also got this all on video). He had to tell me to “come back” in the most oh my god, you’re ridiculous tone ever, hahaha! I walked up. Saw the BLACK DIAMOND RING and walked away again so I could start crying.

            Unfortunately, the ring didn’t fit my chubby lil finger, but DAMN, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m obsessed. Shout out to Sarah, Brian’s sister, who not only helped design the ring, but made it! (@kirk.bydesigns on Insta). We continued to walk the beach and empty pier, then went to Bubba Gump for dinner. Here, I proceeded to text EVERYONE! I should also mention that this was December 27th, which was also our 11-year anniversary. Like, what a way to start a vacation!            The following day, we woke up early to drive 45mins to Malibu. We wanted to go back in ’19 but couldn’t make it fit with our schedule. So, we made sure to go this time; for no other reason than it’s beautiful there and we wanted to experience it. We walked the beach for a bit (no shells here), and some of the beach-front homes were unreal!             We grabbed something quick to eat, then drove an hour back south to Manhattan Beach (we went while we were staying in Huntington, but that’s when the rain started, so we left (plus, we have a Challenger. Driving is no burden.)). Very wide beach. Also beautiful, and yes, shells! Here, we grabbed pizza for a late lunch, then went back inland to go to the observatory for sunset.            This particular experience was slightly overwhelming. The weather was perfect, the sky was perfect, and what started as a potential crowded sunset view at the observatory turned into a hike and a solo location on a hilltop with no one around us. We stayed until dark and got so many amazing pictures. This was another euphoric feeling for me. The last time we had this view was two years ago at the Hollywood sign. It was hot, and the smog over DTLA was so intense, you could barely make out a building. This time was cool and clear. Plus, the sunsets are always better in the winter. I was sitting and taking it all in, and Brian got a butt-load of pictures of me. Truly candid because I was so distracted by the view.            Later that night, we got more rain, but we decided to go see the new Spider-Man movie in Imax at TCL Theatre. Last time we were in Hollywood, we saw Avengers: Endgame at TCL, so we seem to have created a tradition.            The following day was supposed to be museum day, but the rain was still with us and EVERYONE decided it was museum day. So, we fucked off to Beverly Hill for have lunch. We had dinner reservations later downtown, so we basically took it easy until it was time to start getting ready.

            I took approximately 3 hours to get ready. Brian took 20mins. We went to this place called The Capital Grille and I 10/10 recommend. Our waitress was the absolute best, and the food was delicious. Brian got a steak and I got French onion soup. As well, he got a mojito and I got a cosmopolitan. We were asked if we were celebrating anything special, and I EXCITEDLY told her that we were recently engaged. With that, we got free champagne, and a free mini cake for dessert (with a plate that read ‘congratulations’ in chocolate).            Afterwards, we went to Little Damage and got black ice cream (flavour: strawberry), then went to LACMA to take pics with the lampposts.           The next morning, we got to Santa Monica pier for 8a.m. so we could enjoy it with less people. We walked down to Venice and back but took our time. More of a stroll, really. This was our 2nd last day in Cali, and we were driving to Vegas with stops along the way tomorrow, so this day was pretty chill. We got back to the car parked at the pier around noon, and it was packed. This is why getting up earlier to start your day is always better…            We went to the observatory, mainly out of obligation. Last time, it was closed for construction, and although we were just in front of it for that sunset hike, we hadn’t actually been to the physical building yet. So, we suffered the line-up of cars getting to the parking lot up top just to realize that the observatory itself was closed because it was New Years Eve. Fuck my life hahaha. But it’s still fine because the views up there are beautiful. We’ll just have to go back again.            We originally planned to hike to the H sign for new years fireworks but didn’t know those hikes closed at sunset. So, Plan B was the observatory hike we did the other night, but that was also closed at sunset. So, PLAN C was Pacific Pier in Santa Monica, but they only had a countdown planned and no fireworks because of Covid??? Which doesn’t make any sense, cause like…you were literally a full house earlier, but WHATEVER. We were perfectly content in our nice-ass hotel room. Plus, we were in Los Angeles, California, and Covid was (is) still a thing, and I felt safe in my hotel vs. the top floor club across the street that was an overflowing can of sardines. (Ew, it’d be so hot and sweaty in there, and just the thought of that + Covid = gross)

            Our last day, we packed up and checked out, and made our way to Joshua Tree National Park. It’s about a 2.5h drive, getting us there around noon. This was when I drove the Challenger for the first time. Somewhat open road, no traffic, and single lanes. It’s beautiful. It’s comfy. It’s FAST! My obsession has only amplified since…

            Joshua Tree is the bigger, less red version of Red Rock Canyon in Vegas in my opinion, although I personally think Red Rock is more fun. We spent the day climbing and exploring, then set up base to get a timelapse/pictures of the sunset. Once the sun was down, we still had 3h to get to Vegas, and our maps took us the bum-fuck nowhere route. I was on edge because it was SO DARK and like NO CARS, but Brian gave it no thought. The stars were incredible though. Light pollution? We don’t know her in the middle of the desert at 7p.m.

            We drove through the Mojave desert, which is where the Kelso Dunes are, which was kind of neat because last time we were here, we climbed the sand dunes and watched the sunset. I felt better once I realized we were in familiar territory, because I dead-ass thought our map was leading us to our death.

            Vegas was another 5 days, so I’ll have to leave that for another post. I feel like this one has already gone on long enough (my bad), but I hope you enjoyed!

Alexa, play the opening theme song from The OC

Alexa, play the opening theme song from The OC

54 days.
54 more days until I’m drowning in serotonin.
Brian and I both have a horrible case of Travel Bug and have since we first met. After only 5 months of dating, we planned a trip to Disney World for a week (and didn’t get cancellation insurance, which was a big deal for people at the time because wHaT iF wE bRoKe Up BefoRe We WeNt).

From 10h bus rides to New York City to celebrate New Years
18h road trips to Florida for a single concert
3 months backpacking/camping in New Zealand
to just recently doing a 6 week road trip to California and back…sometimes our trips are planned, sometimes not so much.

In the fall of 2019, we spontaneously decided to drive to Vermont, strictly for the autumn views. We didn’t book a hotel, we just packed clothes and our giant-ass sleeping bag. We spent the weekend and drove around taking pretty pictures, and Brian flew his drone, AND THE CITY OF BURLINGTON IS BEAUTIFUL. 10/10 RECOMMEND!
We’ve traveled a ton for concerts and have become comfortably good at driving for long periods of time. The longest stretch we’ve done so far was to Colorado.
We left my place around 4am and drove 8h to Chicago. Parked and saw what Millennium Park had to offer, got deep dish pizza (obviously), then got back in the car and continued another 16h to Garden of the Gods in Colorado. I believe on the way to Chicago he drove the first four and I did the remaining. Then to Colorado, we did the same, but 8h each. We were incredibly lucky with our weather (it was the end of March), although I hate driving at night when it’s raining, and I strictly remember driving through road construction for like…a solid hour. At night. In the rain. But the speed limit remained highway limit, so everyone was going hella fast and I was so alert about everything and so on edge. Wasn’t a fan. But in case my mom reads this, let’s not freak her out.

I prefer road trips 1000% over flying. I don’t mind flying—I actually enjoy it (airports, not so much), but driving is the way to go in my opinion. Obviously if it’s an option. The trip we have planned in 54 days is driveable, but not realistic. So flying it is. Which is fine. But since Covid is still kickin’, I am a bit anxious. Once we arrive at our destination, I’ll be fine, but I know the airport and airplane are going to have me extremely on edge.

People who know me are probably so sick of hearing about “The Road Trip”, but honestly it was such an incredible adventure. We had just purchased our new Mazda a few months prior because even though it was in the works anyways, we knew we wanted a reliable ride for the 15 something thousand kilometers we had ahead of us, and she did not disappoint. Very comfortable to sleep in too, which was a bonus.

Please find yourself listening to Drinking In LA by Bran Van 3000. The trip started as a week in Los Angeles for my birthday in April because there is a line in that song that says “what the hell am I doing drinking in LA at twenty-six?” and I said to Brian that I wanted to be in LA for my 26th birthday. We started planning and the one week turned to two, because we realized all the things we wanted to do. We branched further and further out from the city, to the national parks, then decided we’d go back to Vegas because it was “right there”. Fast forward to booking 42 days of a road trip, hitting 16 states, and almost hitting 16,000 kms. I scratched off a few bucket list items and experienced things I’d never dreamt of.

Hollywood fucked me up. For some reason, it had always been a fantasy that I’d ever go there. It never made even a mental bucket list because I literally thought I would never go. So when we passed the Welcome To Hollywood sign, I was driving, at a red light, hyperventilating. It’s so silly thinking back to it. I was frustrated that I couldn’t take it all in, because I had to pay attention to the evening traffic. Brian had booked us an Air BnB at this beautiful new apartment on Highland Avenue, which excited me but also terrified me because I had already written Jimmy living in his apartment on Highland. And Brian didn’t do this on purpose. It was just a fluke.
(Please read my book Inked Caffeine: Melrose and Vine if you have no clue what the fuck I’m talking about 😊)
Even the room was a trip because it was two furniture arrangements away from how I pictured and described Jimmy’s apartment. All too weird.
So, we were in LA for a week and the whole time I was scanning and bookmarking and taking in as much as I could because I didn’t know if I’d ever be back, and this was the time to make my story that much more authentic. My Holy Binder™ came for the trip as well and I was constantly making notes and adding and adjusting. We went to certain locations that were in my story, mainly for my sake (fun fact: Dallas’ Starbucks is a gas station and No Regrets is a mechanics. the Mazda needed an oil change and that’s where we went) and like I said previously, I could navigate us around pretty easily without any maps. How sad because I can’t even do that with Toronto…

My birthday was weird because on one hand I wanted to try and “recreate” Jimmy’s birthday with the Taco Bell and the beach and dressing nice and whatever, but I also wanted the day to just play out however it wanted. That being said, it was the only gloomy day of our whole week in LA. I sat in wet paint because I’m stupid and there was no drinking (y’know…the whole drinking in LA at 26…). Which I don’t actually care about. Brian and I aren’t huge drinkers anyways, but it still would’ve made a killer Instagram caption hahahaha!
The wet paint thing upset me way more than it probably should have, but whatever. Brian did a great job at cheering me up and I basically forgot all about it. (Please note that the West Coaster is the smallest little roller coaster I’ve ever been on, but I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in my entire life.)

We packed up to carry on the rest of the trip the following day and stopped at Lake Tahoe, Yellowstone, and a spontaneous stop at Badlands National Park in South Dakota

I remember being extremely sad when we got home because it meant that life had to unfortunately go back to reality, but it also meant that I could start editing IC with all my new ideas and notes. To my surprise, there wasn’t really much to change, but a bit to add. Things like…Jimmy, Dallas and Nils going for a walk to the Hollywood Sign, I changed Jimmy’s apartment to be more like The Highland because that’s just fun, so I added the rooftop pool and gym, and SCOOTERS! Scooters were very important for me to add, mainly because they were everywhere in California, and they’re so stupidly fun. Once we rode them once, we wanted to ride them everywhere. I’m still sour Toronto never got them…

Do you have a favourite place to travel? Or somewhere you’ve never been but are dying to see?