The excitement for an upcoming trip can be exhilarating. But it can also be very stressful as you have a million things to remember to do days or weeks leading up to your trip. I, however, have a few extra things I need to do to prepare for road trips due to my auto-immune disorder. Which is why I put together a few great ideas how to prepare for a weekend road trip to help.

Anyway, when we have a road trip coming up, there are several things I do to plan and prepare for an enjoyable worry free travel experience. When I say ‘Weekend Road Trip‘ I am generally referring to a trip consisting of approximately 250-300 miles. We usually travel on road trips to Arizona, Palm Springs, or Nevada from the Southern California area.

My road trips usually involve a hiking adventure, so this information is geared towards hiking or exploration. One of the most critical things to do to prepare for your road trip is to make sure your vehicle is safe and in good operating condition. Here is a list of things I do for the preparation of our weekend road trip; I start with a vehicle inspection.

audi automobile automotive car
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Auto Checklist

  1. Open the hood and glance over the engine and check fluids.
    1. Make sure oil is at good levels
    2. Make sure windshield wiper fluid is at appropriate levels
  2. Bring jumper cables in the trunk
  3. Bring a gallon of water
    1. In case your car overheats while driving. You don’t want to be on the road someplace in the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down and overheats, and you do not have water.

woman in white wedding gown near orange car
Photo by Slobodan Jošić on
  • Make sure the oil and oil filter have been changed
  • Bring a blanket
  • Bring towels
  • Bring a roll of toilet paper
  • Bring a handful of tools
  • Bring the air compressor. Make sure all tires have the appropriate air in them.
    1. Make sure the spare tire is appropriated inflated as well.
  • Full tank of gas
  • When traveling in hot climates: turn off air condition as you incline mountains etc.
  • Maps if needed (we do not use GPS); good ole fashion paper maps.
  • Here is more information about the auto checklist for a road trip. You can also learn more about roadside assistance here.

    Food Checklist

    1. Ice chest – ice – zip lock bags of ice to fit in cooler
      1. I found a styrofoam cooler at Walmart for $2.67 and worked great.
    2. Bring lunch meat turkey breast
    3. Mustard
    4. Enough almond milk for the weekend
    5. Bottles of water
    6. Healthy snacks; nuts, cut veggies, tortilla chips
    7. Energy bars- protein bars
    8. Breakfast cereal- cheerios, oatmeal

    Hiking Checklist – local hikes or short hiking

    1. Bring enough water bottles to fill take for the hike
    2. Energy bars and nuts
    3. Appropriate clothing for hiking – hot or cold climates
    4. Small compass, small mirror
    5. A hiking partner
    6. Let someone know where you are hiking, if hiking solo
    7. Small tool-Swiss army knife
    8. Backpack
    9. Research local hiking trails, gather info, trail length, difficulty, etc.
    10. Proper shoes and clothing

    woman in brown scarf surrounded with green trees
    Photo by Tobi on

    Clothing and Personal Checklist

    1. Check the weather to determine to bring lighter or warmer clothes
    2. Jacket or not
    3. Umbrella in the car
    4. Essentials- Lotion (for dry climates), chapstick,
    5. Sunscreen
    6. Hats or visors

    In Summary

    Road trips can be a little stressful because of the preparation involved and other unplanned items that may come up. But of course, they are ever so exciting as well! Road trips allow you to be more flexible on your trip versus flying. For example, you can take a different route returning home than the route you took going to your destination. You can take detours and stumble upon some amazing hidden gems!

    Weekend road trips are like a mini vacation that allows you to getaway for a short while to rejuvenate, refresh, and renew! So maximize your life and fill your weekend road trip with excitement, fun, and exploration! Open your mind and go out and wander!

    My recent Coastal road trip on PCH

    Detours and hidden gems on my road trips


    Be Inspired! Take a look at FitlifeandTravel Instagram:

    Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of visiting. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!

    Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!

    Arizona near Phoenix
    Grand Canyon area
    Santa Monica, CA
    Cannon Beach, OR
    Eugene, OR
    Bradenton, FL
    Honolulu, HI
    Bismarck-Mandan, ND
    Honolulu, HI
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Sarasota, FL
    Moab, UT
    Honolulu, HI
    Austin, TX
    San Diego, CA
    San Diego, CA
    Kauai, Hawaii
    Honolulu, HI
    Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

    Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!

    Read more about my scenic adventures here!

    See more gorgeous views in Hawaii here!

    Please feel free to comment or contact me, I would love to hear from you! Please follow my blog and subscribe! As always, I thank you for reading and thank you for your support!

    Weekends are very special to people, it is considered very valuable time for some. It’s also great for going outdoors and exploring the local area hiking trails, especially in San Diego. I love hiking new trails and also learning about the area. Which is why I am hiking 2 for 1 Archeological Trails|Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge.

    Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail
    Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail

    How To Get There

    If you have the desire to make the most of your weekends, these two trails are very easy. They also have connections to prehistoric times. The Santa Fe Valley Hike and the Del Dios Gorge trail heads are located directly next to each other. There is a rock gravel parking area that you can park at no charge, then go and explore one trail and continue on and hike the other; exploring both trails all in one visit.

    Directions: I-15 to exit Via Rancho Parkway, Go West 3.5 miles, go left on Del Dios Road 5.4 miles, and turn left when you see a organic fruit stand building and veer to the right and continue driving down the road that will lead to the gravel parking area for the trails.   DIRECTIONS

    Santa Fe Valley Trail

    This trail offers a few few interesting features one being that near the beginning of the trail you will walk on the trail along a chain linked fence. You are essentially walking along the golf course and will possibly find a few balls on the way.

    Which feels somewhat odd, but then later you encounter views and switchbacks.

    Switchbacks at Santa Fe Valley

    The Santa Fe Valley trail is not only great for hikers but you can also bring your bikes on the trail. There is even a bicycle repair station to use if you need a tools to do a small repair or simply need to add air in your tires on your bike.

    Bike Repair Station

    Also, one of the pleasant viewpoints of this hike are of the spectacular Crosby Golf Course.

    Crosby Golf Course

    The History

    My visit to these trails did not only present striking natural landscapes for viewing pleasure, but also historical significance. The flood of 1927 apparently exposed countless artifacts of the areas early inhabitants.

    2 for 1 Archeological Trails|Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios

    The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Del Dios Gorge Trail

    Three pre-historic cultural periods describe this region and it portrays a peek into how Native Americans explored throughout this valley.

    Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail

    The Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge hiking trails are both segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, which expands 55 miles from the ocean to the Pacific Crest.

    Rattlesnake Viewpoint

    Another point of interest is the Rattlesnake Viewpoint area. You can learn about this particular tool used in the past, while enjoying views of Lake Hodges just over the dam. I admit, I was confused at first, until I took time to read the historical information on the displays. This area is perfect for resting and learning about these 2 for 1 archeological trails.

    Here, in the center of the viewpoint sculpture which is the apex of the snake’s tail, there is a pipe scope of which you can look through and line up with another feature. These items are marked on the scope as A, B or C; as these point out the spillway, the bulwarks of the dam, and the river below.

    I highly recommend these hiking trails, they are a perfect way to spend a weekend outdoors and learn a little about history. And its a bonus when you can learn about your own local area and the peoples who were there before you. So, when you are looking for something interesting to do and spend time outside, you should visit these 2 for 1 archeological trails!

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    Thank you for reading, to see more hiking adventures, check these other 4 great local San Diego Hikes here:

    Siesta Key Beach FL

    Florida has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches! As much as I love the mountains and trails, I also love to kick back on the beach. The beach, however, is not only for relaxing, it is also a great place to have fun! There are several activities that accompany the typical day at the beach. Some of these activities can be done anytime of the year in a place like Florida. You may want to add these gorgeous gulf coast Florida three Best Beaches to your list.


    Summer is the time of year I think mostly about going to the beach. For many, Summer is the season of making memories of fun times with family, enjoying picnics, barbecue and watermelon! But remember in Florida, you can go and enjoy a day at the beach just about any day, anytime of the year. Now that you can pretty much visit the beach anytime, let’s take a look at all the fun activities you can do as well.

    Fun Things To Do At The Beach

    Photo credit:

    Remember we are discussing the activities besides relaxing that you can do on the beach. Check out these activities:

    • 1. Walking or running
    • 2. Play volleyball
    • 3. Play frisbee
    • 4. Build sand castles
    • 5. Swim
    • 6. Jetski
    • 7. Windsurf
    • 8. Beach yoga
    • And much more! Check out these fun do it yourself things to do at the beach here.

    I’ve spent a lot of time at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are even a few I’ve been to that are located in areas not open to the general public. These include my days in the military at Diego Garcia, or Bellows Beach in Hawaii. Some of the hottest beaches in the world one might say are located in the state of Florida.

    Photo credit:

    The Summer season climate in Florida can be quite hot, and uncomfortable at times. I don’t let that get in the way of making my plans of a beach day. I enjoy going to the beach any time of the year. As many folks take their Spring Break vacations, you might want to take a look at these three best beaches on the gulf coast!

    Best Beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast

    1.Siesta Key BeachDirections


    Siesta Key Beach is located on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. This is the beach of all beaches! It’s the beach you dream of with wide spaces of beautiful white sand of which the sand is cool to the touch. During the scorching days of Summer, the sand can be very hot to walk on. Not here, the sand at Siesta Key Beach is cool and very fine. Sand at this beach is comprised of Quartz and has a luxurious and cool feel to the feet!

    Siesta Key Drum Circle

    You will find a nice facility and large parking lot at this beach. There are clean restrooms, water fountain, and benches. And at times, you might even catch a live band playing and other events going on. Events such as seafood festivities, or the Siesta drum circle are a recurring thing.

    IMG_5264 web

    The interesting Drum Circle gathering happens every Sunday evening around Sunset. This is the traditional Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle where people gather in a large circle and a few folks will be playing instruments and beach goers can hula hoop or dance.

    Siesta Key is one beach you must visit on your next trip to Florida! The accolades for this beach are quite impressive.

    • whitest and finest sand in the world (The Great International Beach Challenge, 1987)
    • Best San Beach in America (The Travel Channel, 2004)
    • Best Beach in America (Dr. Beach, 2011, 2017)
    • 2015 awarded #1 U.S. Beach (Street sign posted on Siesta Key)
    Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle Celebration
    2. Bradenton Beach: Directions

    2. Bradenton Beach Directions

    Bradenton Beach can be found located on Anna Marie Island in Bradenton, Florida. From I-75 go take the exit for SR 64 and go west and you will run directly into the parking area for this beautiful beach.

    Bradenton Beach
    Bradenton Beach

    No Fancy Beach

    From my experience visiting this beach, there is not alot of commercialism nearby here (which is one thing I love about this area). The one building located in this area contains a restaurant, restrooms and water fountains. The area is sort of old school, and reminds me of the days of simpler times and allows you to truly escape the crazy noisy things going on already in our busy lives. 

    Sand Art Event

    A large unpaved parking lot is easily accessible and parking is free. Remember that this beach does not have all the bells and whistles as other touristy beaches. Which is exactly how I like it! You will find additional shops, boutiques and restaurants available as you travel South. There are a handful of free parking areas as well. It was a treat to be at the beach and see the Sand Art displays on the day we visited here in the month of December.

    Beach Sand Art Display Bradenton
    Sand Art Display Bradenton Beach
    Bradenton Beach, Florida
    Sand Art FL

    If you are looking for a quiet, easy accessible beach for relaxing and enjoyment, Bradenton Beach will not disappoint.

    3. Clearwater Beach: Directions

    This spectacular beach area is highly visited every year and offers a lot of beach fun and activity. Located in Clearwater, Florida, the beach is beautiful and lovely with its wide and sparking light colored sand and inviting blue waters. Here you can enjoy fun in the sun, build sand castles, and have a picnic on the beach. This area can be quite busy with tourists, and parking can be a challenge as well.

    Clearwater Beach, FL
    Clearwater Beach, FL

    As you glance all around you, take notice of a few hotels and resorts located directly on the beach in the distance. Several boutique shops and restaurants, souvenir and snack shops line the streets on the main drag. Other beach shops located in this area include jet ski rentals and boat tour shops as well. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must see as it is the place that the popular movie, “Dolphin Tale,” is based on.

    Photo credit:

    Clearwater Beach has been in the rankings of beaches in years past including one of the best beaches in the U.S. Make sure to include a day at this stunning beach on your next visit to the state of Florida!


    Some of the hottest beaches can be found all around the world. These three beaches are special, and they can found in the state of Florida. Spending a day at the beach, in my opinion, is one of the most enjoyable activities to do! Playing in the water, relaxing on the sand, and having a picnic with your family. On your next visit to Florida, you might want to add these three beaches to your itinerary!

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    Road trips can be so exciting and unpredictable. They do require a lot of planning and coordinating depending on the hours you want to drive. This is our epic coastal road trip pt 2 and the goal is to take a break from driving, and enjoy the surroundings. Our adventurous journey continues, on this gorgeous sunny day in June. This part of the trip is perfect for hiking, exploring the Redwoods, and taking an amazing return detour.

    Redwood Trees

    Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest tree species on earth! As I look up, I almost feel dizzy because I am in such awe and amazement standing among these magnificent giants. They were big, small, wide, corked, and even drive through trees. Gigantic trees are every you turn here in Redwoods territory.

    We continue the trip that began in a small town called Leggett, California, this is where the giant trees started. We continue making our way through Smithe Redwoods State Park, Humbolt Redwoods, and then onto the Avenue of the Giants.


    Avenue of the Giants

    Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a peaceful less traveled path to take to explore the massive Redwoods. This particular area is the greatest accumulation of biomass, which is comprised of both living and dead organic material, ever recorded in a coast redwood forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Did you know that coast redwoods are taller than any other living thing! Here are a few interesting stops we made on this tour:

    Points of Interest

    • 1: F.K. Lane
    • 2: Bolling Grove where many of the redwoods take interesting shapes and sizes.
    • 3: Visitor Center
    • 4: Weott
    • 5: Mahan Plaque is where there have been reports of people seeing an elusive large creature across the road (Sasquatch, Big Foot).
    • 6: Dyerville
    • 7: Chandler Grove
    • 8: Drury/Chaney Grove where a nice 2.4 nature loop trail takes you through these massive species of trees.

    Northern California

    We continue our journey north passing through Eureka and arriving into our resting destination of Arcata, California. But before arriving in Arcata, we also stopped for a rest in this really cool town of Klamath, California. We drive into a visitor stop where we see a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe statue. A museum and small gift shop are located are located directly nearby. The museum only had a few visitors including us glancing at all the historical photos of characters from the old Wild West including the Indians and other explorers.Whereas the gift shop has several folks shopping for souvenirs.



    We arrive early at our destination, yet late enough to check into our hotel. Most hotels have a 3:00 P.M. check in so this worked well as we dropped off our food and personal items, then headed back out to explore more. We returned to a scenic spot we passed by earlier to re-capture a few more photos of these extraordinary vistas and views.

    After capturing a few stunning coastal beach photos, we end up back at our hotel in Arcata. I love it when good things happen by accident. Like stumbling upon a quaint Mexican restaurant while driving through town, turns out the best. We are usually very hesitant to try new places, but I had a good feeling about this restaurant. We stop by the location and walk in to take a look. The building and property look clean, plenty of booths and tables, so we thought we’d give it a try.


    If you are someone who has food allergies or food sensitivities, they will do whatever you ask them to suit your needs. When I placed my order, they mentioned that most of their sauces contain milk, except for one kind. So, this sauce, of course, is the kind I chose for my Enchilada sauce. The food and sauces are made of quality ingredients. Hence, our meal did not disappoint, and was very delicious! If you are traveling through this area, you may want to check out this restaurant.


    After inhaling the scrumptious dinner at Tres Pecosos, we thought we would try to seek out another photo op before the sun goes down. A scenic area for a sunset at the beach and coast area would be perfect.

    Beach Sunset

    Only a few hours of sunlight remain at this point. We realize how tired we are to go mill around the beach until sunset. So, we capture a few stunning shots and made our way back to the hotel and hit the sack.

    Sunset at beach area, near Eureka

    Oregon, Here We Come

    After a long day of driving and a great night of sleep, the morning came full of sun and fresh breezes. We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day to continue our epic road trip. The plan today has us rolling into the Redwoods and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and then into Oregon. The Redwoods cover a very large amount of land in Northern California. We also notice that the California Redwood parks are considered both a National Park and State Park areas.

    Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

    This particular area of Redwoods is named for an American explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith, who traveled across the lands of the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast in the early 1800s. There is also the Smith River that provides such elegant beauty and crystal clear waters.


    Smith River

    Wanderlust Oregon

    We continue cruising through the massive Redwood National Park near the Klamath area, and can not believe our eyes. From the enormous trees to the amazing shoreline beach vistas, it was a nature photographers dream.

    I have only heard wonderful things about Oregon over the years. From the carved coastline to its amazing nature. I think this is what excites us the most about seeing Oregon; its incredible beauty and wildlife.

    We finally crossed the California border and into the beautiful state of Oregon. Oregon has so many points of interest along the coast! These are some of those points of interest we made sure to stop and explore as they are described here:

    Natural Bridge Cove: Trail

    Arch Rock


    Port Orford Heads State Park


    Coos Bay


    Heceta Head Lighthouse (Viewing area)


    Cape Falcon



    A quaint little farming town with an air museum with a large blimp hangar, cheese factories, and agriculture fields.

    Cannon Beach

    This little beach town is spectacular! The day we arrived, the streets and sidewalks look quite busy. I guess it would be a little busy since July 4th is just around the corner. Several folks crossing the roads, on sidewalks, restaurant parking lots were full. It seems this little beach town jewel had it all going on!

    Photo by Sam J.

    The beach is wide and offers quite a scenic treasure accompanied by the large rock formations. The world’s third largest monolith Haystack Rock standing 235 feet high, home for birding beauty is home here. This coastal area has been the center for filming scenes for several movies and films. Examples include The Goonies, Point Break, Free Willy, Overboard, Twilight and many more.

    While departing Cannon Beach area we felt a little sad. This small town made us fall in love with it. But we knew we had to continue our epic coastal road trip journey on towards Portland, which was our resting point for the night. Our path takes us north on highway 101 to connect to highway 26 which took us all the way into Portland. This route is amazing and it was quite a scenic roadway.

    Portland to Seattle

    The next day could not have been more beautiful! After a delicious breakfast in Portland, we hit the road towards Seattle. We arrived in Seattle which is just a few or more hours drive from Portland and head towards downtown to find parking. We pre-purchased baseball tickets to see the Seattle Mariners play on July 4th and it was a blast! The stadium was full of cheer, music, excitement, and patriotism!



    Safeco Stadium (now it is named T-Mobile Park) 4th of July Fly over from McChord Field: C-17 Flyover: WOW!

    This Seattle morning is unbelievable! Full sunshine, blue sky, gorgeous temperatures, and not the Washington temperatures and clouds I remember; in a good way as I lived on Whidbey Island, WA 20 years ago.

    Return Trip

    We walked around the city for a while, then filled the car up with gas and started our return trip. San Francisco was our final stop, return the rental car, and catch a flight home. But of course, before that flight departure, we took in another baseball game and saw the San Francisco Giants play ball! That was certainly a thrill to see! I don’t know how people watch the game when they have such a gorgeous view looking right back at them in the stadium!

    The Detour

    Our epic coastal road trip return takes us through Oregon as a result of a detour path because of fires on I-5 near and around the borders of Oregon and California. Our detour included taking us onto Highway 99 South through several beautiful open landscapes, Mt. Shasta, Diamond Peak Mt., and other gorgeous vistas for our viewing pleasure and an overnight resting stop in Eugene. To cap off the evening, we enjoyed a stunning sunset!


    Side Note

    Side Note: There are a couple things we noticed during our epic coastal road trip travels along northern California, Oregon, and Washington. There are several homeless folks wandering the streets, parking lots, roadways and highways. Many of these people live in their vehicles and I think they were at every rest area we stopped at. A few rest stops in those areas post warning signs stating that only a minimum numbers of hours is allowed to park or vehicle will be towed. Free coffee is also offered at the rest areas in Oregon and Washington. The number of rest stops in California seems to be limited and the ones they do have, are closed. This is something to keep in mind as you travel on a road trip through California.

    This epic coastal road trip was truly a remarkable experience for us! I remember always hearing about Highway 1 and the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway); the scenic views, landscapes, and beautiful beach towns along the way. And I have only seen photos of places like Pebble Beach (or watching golf tournaments on TV), but for many years it was just a dream or a thought. It is remarkable that I have lived in the West between California and Washington for more than 20 years and have never driven this route. Well, now it’s not just a dream anymore, it became a reality for this wandering adventurer!

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    Read my Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 1: Pebble Beach, Redwoods, & Street Art


    Avenue of the Giants brochure
    California State Map
    Oregon state printed informational material

    It’s an adventurers’ dream to make the road trip of 2700 miles, visiting 3 states, and sleeping in 7 different cities. I call it my epic coastal road trip along PCH.
    California Coast

    Not to mention capturing over 1000 images of stunning landscapes, blue crystal waters, and impressive giant trees and nature trails. Our epic coastal road trip along PCH is definitely an experience I recommend. The PCH or Pacific Coast Highway; also Highway 1 is the path along the pacific ocean coastline consisting of some of the worlds’ most beautiful scenery.

    The scenery along this epic coastal road trip along PCH is magical, so as you can imagine, my excitement was off the charts. We began our journey through southern to central California. Which is sometimes typical of southern California weather, the marine layer can come in along the coast and usually burn off by noon. We proceeded onward with our trip heading north.

    But before I continue to share more of our epic coastal road trip along PCH, I want to explain a brief overview of the planning and preparation we put into this trip.

    PLANNING: Epic Coastal Road Trip Along PCH

    Our goals and dilemmas consisted of the following:

    1. Quality of sleep and rest in a comfortable, safe, and clean hotel.
    2. Allowing for about 6-8 hours of driving a day only, making sure to get enough rest.
    3. Not paying too much for lodging.
    4. Food and meals: I have food sensitivities so I am limited to which restaurants and types of food I eat. (Gluten, wheat, dairy, peanut/legume)
    5. The quantity of food for all breakfasts and lunches. (Great for budget travel)
    6. Return flight – limiting the number of bags and other things. (since I had to bring all this food)
    7. The type of cooler to bring:  disposable one. (Since we had a return flight).
    • The meals planned for each day were as follows:
    • Breakfast: Cheerios and granola topped with Almond Milk of which I brought.
    • Lunch: Deli lean turkey meat (I brought this also)-using Gluten Free bread for me; and a peanut butter sandwich for my husband. And tortilla chips.
    • Dinner: Denny’s or Mexican Restaurants
    • Snacks: Fresh carrot, celery, cucumber slices. Almonds and Cashews. Tortilla chips, fruit

    The planning of this trip or any long trip is not the easiest thing to do.


    My husband is a premier member to the Choice Hotel chains, so one of our stays was free and we gained more points again for the entire week to receive another free room or two for another stay. We found that the most comfortable hotel offering more value among the choice hotel chains is Comfort Inn. My husband made reservations in 7 different cities using Google maps as a guide to the location of that hotel to see what restaurants are nearby, and safe areas.

    Car Rental

    We also rented an economical car instead of driving our own vehicle. This decision ended up more affordable, cost savings, and more comfortable (than my car). Our plan was to drive back from Seattle to San Francisco and drop off the rental car and fly home from there. For some reason the Portland airport didn’t allow Dollar Car Rental return, and it was quite expensive to fly out of Seattle to return to San Diego, so San Francisco was where we drove back to and reserved a flight for $72 one way ticket for each.


    Meals: Now this was a little tricky. Considering we had a car, we’re thinking we could bring everything that we needed for a road trip, but with a dilemma of an airline flight return home. So, I thought about the foods and snacks we eat and gathered enough for each day of the week using zip lock baggies, the amount of bread for sandwiches for each day’s lunch, and breakfast meals for me since I have food sensitivities. We would seek out certain restaurants for our dinners, and those include places such as Denny’s and Mexican Restaurants of which I can usually find healthy, gluten free options from those places.


    We finally hit the road around 8:45 a.m. after leaving our personal car at the car rental place nearby the airport and picked up the rental car. I noticed a few pieces of art in this car rental facility which I thought was very interesting. Look closely now, this art piece is comprised of several vehicle tail lights attached to the wall. Check out these photos:

    Here is another art piece that caught my eye nearby the airport and they were moving as the wind speed increased.


    As I mentioned earlier, the day was a bit overcast with some clouds and haze but at least the traffic was minimal driving through the LA area. It was quite a scene driving through Santa Monica, Malibu, and Santa Barbara as we proceeded making our way towards Monterey and the Pebble Beach area.


    Beautiful landscapes, meadows and valleys.


    Pebble Beach

    We finally made it to our goal for this day, the majestic place of Pebble Beach. My husband has already experienced Pebble Beach and played here at Pebble Beach Golf Links many years ago. The golf fees he paid back then was $250 for the round of golf and waited 8 hours to tee off. Oh how things change over time, a round of golf today at this course is a whopping $525.

    The club house is beautiful as we browse around inside for a short while. My husband also notices all the new boutiques and shops added to the grounds here as well. Sadly, it seems as though this incredible place has been bitten by the commercialization bug.

    The Lone Cypress


    17 Mile Drive

    Prior to wondering around the clubhouse and shops at that Pebble Beach golf course, we cruise on our way through the infamous 17-Mile Drive that includes a $10 park entry fee. This is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. Some of the spectacular points of interest include the following:

    • Shepherds Knoll
    • Huckleberry Hill
    • Poppy Hills Golf Course
    • China Rock
    • Bird Rock
    • Cypress Point
    • Lone Cypress. This is one of California’s most enduring landmarks and has withstood this rocky post for more than 250 years.

    Half Moon Bay

    After a long day of driving, we rested for the night in Marina, California. We then awoke early and hit the road onward towards San Francisco. As we continue out drive north, we made it to the cozy surfing town of Santa Cruz. There are several quaint coffee shops and surfing boutiques along the main roadway. But the ultimate place we want to see is Half Moon Bay and Mavericks.



    Mavericks is the place where surfers take on epic big wave challenges. Monster Mavericks big wave international surfing contests. Waves can at times reach up to 60 feet high! I see a beautiful lighthouse at this point and a group of surfers out at sea. As I look further out at the water, I know one of those surfers may catch their giant dream wave.

    Not only do surfers face the challenge of rough and cold waters here, but the climate is quite cool. A staff member in the Visitor Center mentioned that much of the year is overcast in this area of California.


    Santa Rosa

    After wandering around the surfers territory of Mavericks, we made it to San Francisco. Unfortunately, in crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we missed a photo opportunity because of the fog and visibility. We continued our journey northward.


    Santa Rosa is quite a charming town and a perfect resting stop. We walked around for a bit and came upon a small street fair with live music and vendors. I notice a couple pieces of adorable street art. These art pieces are a couple of my favorite cartoon characters in the Charlie Brown series.

    The weather in this part of California is spectacular this time year. Feeling the refreshing breeze and the warm sun makes it really tough to beat the California climate. This journey is to be continued.

    The Ultimate Coastal Road Trip Itinerary Part 2 : Redwoods Ave of the Giants

    Pacific Coast Highway 1 is one of the most iconic roadways on the West coast! I have never driven on this route, so we decided to plan an epic road trip that will take us from Southern California all the way up to Seattle, Washington. A friend of ours was so gracious and shared her experience and a few travel tips from her own coastal road trip with us.

     She offered information that included some great points of interest to see and visit as we were heading out on our own coastal road trip. She mentioned a few rest stops, beautiful hiking trails, and gorgeous view points for photos. Here is an outline of what she suggested for us.

    Guest Blog: By Sam J.
    Pacific Coast Highway 1 Road Trip San Diego To Seattle—>10 Things To Know Before You Go

    San Diego –> Crescent City

    Are you planning a road trip traveling north on Highway 1 up the coast for your next vacation? Sam enjoyed her road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway and took in all the incredible sites. She spent time camping in the Redwoods and explored several hiking trails. Here are a few great places that she suggests to see and explore.

    1.Hearst Castle/San Simeon are worth a visit if you have never done it and you have time for one of the tours.  I went on the Main House/Pool tour.

    2. Make sure to explore around the town of Carmel, Big Sur, and the infamous Pebble Beach.

    Read More Here:  


    Does the excitement of exploring a new place thrill you as much as it does me? I get excited just thinking about seeing someplace new. The vision of beautiful landscapes and unfamiliar nature trails always gets butterflies buzzing around in my stomach! This is what Hawaii does to me. Which is why I want to share these 5 beautiful hikes to explore with you!

    Explore Hawaii

    Hawaii is such a magical place and presents a vibe that is like no other. While many people think of Hawaii as a place for charming resorts, sparkling swimming pools, and relaxing beaches. Hawaii to me is full of nature, beautiful landscapes and adventure. There are numerous hiking trails to explore in Hawaii, that we have yet to scrape the top 10 of them. These 5 beautiful hikes in Hawaii will most certainly challenge you, ground you, and no doubt; create unique extraordinary memories.

    The Trails

    1. Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail: 4.5 mile roundtrip. Elevation 1597 feet  Directions

    If you are hungry for scenic yet challenging adventure while on your visit to Hawaii, this hike will surely put a smile on your face. Our day began with a little sun and clouds hoping the rain might stay away. I don’t know about you, but the word ridge places a tiny bit of fear in me being this is the first time we’ve hiked this trail.

    Overcome Your Fear

    Ignoring the on-slot of a bit of fear I seemed to develop, we proceed to gather our water, hats, sunscreen and sunglasses and piled in the car and drove towards East Honolulu area. Actually, the journey on the way to the trailhead is quite spectacular by itself. We drive to higher altitudes through what seemed to be an upscale neighborhood of homes and hills. Upon reaching the trail, there is no guard or official person at the post, so we proceed to park in the appropriate designated spots. Usually you do need a permit to park in the designated areas to hike this trail.

    Beautiful hikes to explore in Hawaii

    The Weather

    The clouds are building up at this time making for a possibly muddy, wet, and slippery hiking experience. Early in the hike, we approach a beautiful canopy of trees of all sizes but mostly tall and large. The wind began to swirl and howl making for an eerie stroll through this part of the trail.

    WIL NUI 2
    Tree Tunnels

    One of my favorite spots on the trail is the area where a rope is available and is used to help climb these steep sections. I am thinking about Indiana Jones or Mission Impossible while I am pulling myself up.

    Williwillinui Hike Trail
    DSC_0324williwillinui hike1

    This part of the hiking trail offered a few challenges and obstacles. The rope definitely is very helpful in climbing to the next phase. Please note: Trail can be muddy and slippery when it rains, so take it slow and be careful as you gradually make your way to the summit.

    WILI NUI 1
    Views. Beautiful hikes to explore in Hawaii

    The views and beauty of the trail aren’t the only things to be excited about. If you blink you may miss some of the most luscious plants and flowers.


    Be sure to take a rest on the ‘Swing’ and tree area, and if you are hiking the trail on a weekday, you may be lucky enough to get a seat on the one lonely bench that sits at the summit of the trail. You will enjoy 360 degree views everywhere up here and they are incredible! Hang on to your hat as the winds can be quite wicked up at the top.

    2. Aiea Loop Hiking Trail: 4.8 mile Roundtrip. Elevation 900 Directions

    The Aiea Loop trail is located in Aiea – Pearl City area of Honolulu and is an interesting path as you begin at the trailhead located within a park. There are a few scattered picnic tables and the park is quite large in size. The trees are massive and the lemon eucalyptus trees offer a scent of sweet citrus as you ponder further into the trail. There are a few large tree trunks that block the trail, and you’ll climb a few steep switchbacks along the loop.

    Aiea Loop. Beautiful hikes to explore in Hawaii
    Aiea Loop Trail

    You will catch some views of the freeway H-3 from particular areas on the trail. Conditions of the trail can also be a little muddy if you are out exploring this hike on a misty or rainy day.

    IMG_5568 cat

    During our hike on this trail, I ended up partly on my own. My hubby got so far ahead of us, then my parents were slowing and I went ahead of them. I was beginning to question if I was going in the right direction at one point. Wondering if I might catch up with them or get to the end of the loop. There is an area where one bench sits at peak of a slight climb and elevated area, and I sat there for a moment hoping I wasn’t lost. I finally came to the end of the loop and saw my father in law trying to approach the friendly cat. Wild or ferel cats are quite common to see roaming around all parts of Hawaii. The rating for this hike path is considered easy to moderate.

    3. Waimano Falls and Pools Trail: 3 Mile Roundtrip. Waterfall Hike  Directions

    If you are looking for a rewarding trail, then you will enjoy Waimano Falls and Pools. This hiking trail was both challenging and satisfying. The trailhead is located near or in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.   Parking is limited, so you may wish to start this trail early. The trail begins with a smooth wide pathway of red dirt and rocks with plants lining the path. On misty rainy days, be prepared to walk through muddy routes.

    Muddy Trails

    As you continue further on the trail, it can become muddy and slippery depending if you hike this one on a misty or rainy day. You’ll have to keep an eye out where you walk and step because there are large tree roots everywhere and the elevation can create a slightly dangerous trail.

    Waimano Pools Waterfall Trail 4
    Tree Roots on hiking trails

    Going downhill may be easy and you can use the tree roots for stepping, but coming back up can get you huffing and puffing. This part of the trail is known as ‘Cardiac Hill’.


    The trail is really not that difficult overall, but it becomes slightly dangerous if it’s a rainy or misty day and especially when you are descending down towards the beautiful pools and waterfall, it can be very slippery.

    Be prepared to encounter a wide variety of plants and trees to ponder over as you slither your way carefully down the path over red dirt hillsides, trees, and slippery mud. I lost the soles of my shoes and I had mud all over. There are a few spots where you use a rope to help you down steeper rocks or hillside parts of the trail. You may encounter a wild pig or hunters with dogs so just be aware and don’t be alarmed. There are plenty of birds singing as they fly from tree limb to limb. The hidden gem on this hike is the infamous Waimano Pools and Waterfall.

    Waimano Pools Waterfall Trail 5
    Beautiful hikes to explore in Hawaii
    Beautiful hikes to explore in Hawaii

    4. Manoa Falls Hike: 1.6 mile roundrip. Waterfalls (150 feet falls) Directions

    If you are looking for an easy yet very rewarding and full of nature and very large trees, then you will enjoy this hike. At times, this hike can also be slippery and muddy depending on rain. The trees are wide, tall, and giant on this very interesting and fun trail.

    If you are someone who wants to get away from large crowds and noise, and have a desire to explore and surround yourself with nature, then you’ll have to check this one out. This hike has a rating of easy.

    5. Koko Head Stairs Trail: 1.8 mile roundtrip. Elevation 990   Directions

    The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs.  This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other. The Rating on this trail is difficult.

    Koko Head is the eastern side of  Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond.  The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.


    Note: There is a section on the Koko Head Stairs which has a large opening below. This is a drop to a ridge located underneath the stair trail so take your time and go slow if needed. You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go. You still need to climb higher and higher. This is a view from below and is about half way to the top. You can see it still looks like there are quite a few steps to go to reach the summit. You may find yourself breathing heavy at this point.

    Koko Head Stairs Hike

    Final Thoughts

    There is an abundance of excitement and adventurous activities for those thrill seekers visiting Hawaii. I hope you find this information helpful, because if you are like me, I enjoy wandering off the beaten path. These beautiful hikes are perfect to include in your itinerary to explore Hawaii.

    Read more about Hawaii:  Hawaii Islands Uncovered
    If you enjoyed this article, please comment. Like it, Pin it!

    I am always looking for effective and easy techniques to stay trim and fit. Most people have such busy schedules and use excuses not to stay healthy and exercise. I am always sharing ideas with my friends and family about these great short exercise and fat burning video clips. I use them many days when I am unable to get into the gym, or feeling a little sluggish.  I searched out some of the best videos where I saw results on myself and wanted to share them with you as well.  Who doesn’t have 10 minutes in their day to invest in their own health?  Here are a couple 10 Minute fat burning or cardio with pilates videos I am using this week. Next week I change things up and will do a couple different videos. Check out these 10 minute fat blasting exercise videos here:

    Last week’s video favorite is:
    These are some of my favorite 10 minute exercise and fat burning videos that I incorporate into my own routine.  There are no excuses now, these videos are easy, convenient, and you can do different videos that target various muscle groups or you can add yoga or meditation focused exercises to your daily and weekly routines. Enjoy.

    This video by POPSUGAR fitness is an excellent all around strengthening and cardio 10 minute work out! Add some variety to your exercise routines!


    From the moment you approach the area of Zion National Park you will find yourself saying “WOW” numerous times! Once you step out into this land, you feel like you are in a dream. Surrounded by a magnificent maze of stunning beauty everywhere you turn, Zion will most definitely leave you speechless. I put together here a Zion National Park coolest things to do!

    I was hesitant after reading and hearing about the nightmare crowds that have been flocking to these parks in recent years.  Just a few years ago, Zion National Park was receiving 2.5 million plus visitors per year, today it is up to 4.5 million visitors per year, according to the Zion Human History Museum information video. This museum is located at shuttle bus stop 2 in the park.



    During the drive on our road trip to Zion, we were mentally preparing for dealing with massive crowds and parking. The first thing we did is plan to awaken very early. We stayed in a brand new, smoke free, Choice Hotel; Comfort Suites Hotel located in beautiful St. George. Our overnight lodging is about 45 minutes away from Zion. The prices for lodging in Springdale where Zion is located, are higher and had limited availability at the time we made our reservations. (End of April 2018).


    After arriving in St. George and settling into our room, we walk next door to Denny’s and enjoy tasty eggs and potatoes. I am always making extra preparations for meals and food during travel and road trips. I have digestive issues and an autoimmune disorder. We finish dinner then return to the room, shower, and crawl into bed early around 9 p.m.

    The Early Bird Gets The Worm Plan:

    Alarms are set for 3:30 a.m. in order for us to hit the road by 4:30 a.m. However, during the night I hear at least 2 doors closing down the hall-making noise and getting into their vehicle outside. My thoughts while lightly sleeping are that these people are getting a leg up on us, so we ended up waking at 3:15 a.m.

    Zion National Park Itinerary Preparation

    At this point; we are tired, excited, and jacked up about our hike to Angels Landing. We gather our light layers of clothing, ate breakfast, grab our water jugs, pack our turkey sandwiches and snacks with all cameras in hand and out the door we went.

    Arriving At The Park

    We finally end up on the road to Zion by around 4:10 a.m. and arrive at the Zion Visitor Center parking lot around 4:45 a.m. It is dark everywhere! As you walk around the grounds, you definitely need a flashlight. We find our way to the restrooms and I am thankful they are not locked! Whew! This time in the morning, I am surprised to see there are about 7-8 cars parked in the lot. I also read and heard rumors about the traffic from St. George to Zion can be quite horrific, but we cruised right on into town passing only a few cars.

    As a result of arriving so early in the park, the visitor entrance station and visitor center are not open yet. The fees to enter the park vary depending on your plans. The cost for a vehicle for a 7 day pass is $30, but we did not pay because the park cashier was not in this early. 

    Bring Your Patience

    While we wait patiently for the park to open, we mill around the grounds of the visitor center for a short while. Watching more people arrive in the parking lot, we go ahead and put our sunscreen on for the day and lock up the car. It is now about 5:30 a.m. and we head towards the area where the first shuttle bus stop is located. We find our spot in line for a departure time of 6 a.m. where we are taken to the bus stop to begin our first hike.

    Zion National Park Itinerary Coolest Things To Do

    View from shuttle stop 1.

    As we stand in line waiting, (we are approximately 14th and 15th in line); we meet Paul from Australia. Paul is a very pleasant man, very well traveled, and we enjoy conversations with him immensely. Paul would end up tagging along with us most of the morning. He didn’t know which hike he was going to do until he asked us what our plans are. We told him we were starting with ‘Angels Landing’ and so he says he will hike that one as well.

    Make a Plan

    I am listing below the primary points of interest that you may wish to include in your itinerary. I have also included a brief hiking guide to a few great hiking trails that you may wish to explore.

    Zion National Park Itinerary Coolest Things To Do

    • Zion Human History Museum: (Shuttle stop 2)
      Weeping Rock: Access to Weeping Rock Trail Hidden Canyon Trail, Observation Point Trail, East Rim Trail.
    • Canyon Junction: Junction of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
    • The Grotto: Shaded area for picnics and enjoy cottonwood trees. Restrooms.
    • Court of the Patriarchs: Short and steep trail to viewpoints.
    • Zion Lodge: Historic lodge right in the heart of Zion.
    • Temple of Sinawava: The gateway to the Narrows hiking trail.
    • Big Bend: Views of the Virgin River, Angels Landing, and the Great White Throne.
    • Zion Canyon Visitor Center: The starting point for Zion. Restrooms, picnic, water and information.

    Hiking Guide

    Hiking Guides:
    EASY: Roundtrip
    Pa’rus Trail: 3.5 mi.  Shuttle Stop 1
    Lower Emerald Pools Trail: 1.2 mi. Shuttle Stop 5
    The Grotto Trail: 1.0 mi. Shuttle Stop 6
    Weeping Rock Trail: 0.4 mi. Shuttle Stop 7

    Watchman Trail: 3.3 mi. Shuttle Stop 1
    Upper Emerald Pools Trail: 1.0 mi. Shuttle Stop 5
    Sand Bench Trail: 1.0 mi. Shuttle Stop 5
    Kayenta Trail: 2.0 mi. Shuttle Stop 6

    Angels Landing: 5.4 mi. Shuttle Stop 6
    Hidden Canyon Trail: 2.4 mi. Shuttle Stop 7
    Observation Point: 8.0 mi. Shuttle Stop 7
    The Narrows: 9.4 mi. Shuttle Stop 9

    Angels Landing 

    One of Zion National Park itinerary coolest things to do is Angel’s Landing. What a beautiful way to start your morning! This is a heart pumping, diverse trail with stunning views and landscapes! Angels Landing in Zion National Park is challenging, interesting, and rewards you with an incredible experience!

    Take a look at the breathtaking photos.

    Angelslandingtrail 1
    DSC_0061AngelsTrail Chains

    Hiking the Angels Landing Trail

    Angelslandingtop 4
    20180526_081412Angelslandingtop 6
    Angelslanding 2

    Hidden Canyon Trail

    20180526_140243chains HiddenCanyon2

    Another trail we really enjoyed is the Hidden Canyon Trail. This one is an interesting trail and is not quite as difficult as Angels Landing, but does have its own unique challenges. This trail is about 2.5 miles round trip and also has areas where you need to hang onto the chain cable.


    Once we arrive at the summit of this trail, the views are magnificent! At the same time, we see the impressive rock climbers across the canyon valley and snap a photo.


    Temple of Sinawava

    This trail is one of the gateways to reach the Narrows hiking trail. The 1.5 miles that we hiked is where the water starts to become the trail. Believe me, we do have a desire to hike this trail, but weren’t prepared for a water hike on this visit. So we remained in that area, relaxed for a while, and took it all in.


    The wildlife in Zion is quite abundant as well. We even made a few friends along the way.


    Holiday Hype

    The park staff are repeatedly mentioning that Memorial Day weekend is the busiest time of the year at Zion. They did have extra volunteers working to help with the crowds. We hiked Angels Landing, Hidden Canyon Trail and Weeping Rock on a Saturday. Surprisingly, throughout the entire day, we didn’t notice the massive crazy crowds within the park. Of course, several folks are standing in line to catch the shuttles. As a result of shuttles running on such a timely manner (probably every 3-5 minutes), people are not waiting very long at all. 

    Be Careful And Considerate To Other Hikers

    Prior to starting our journey back down, we notice more people are joining us at the summit already. We conclude the trail is now starting to get very busy and begin making our way down. This trail can get dangerous as a result of too many people, and can cause long delays waiting to take turns using the chains to guide you. Here is an up close glance at the chains bolted into the rocks along side the narrow trail areas.

    Be Prepared For Crowds

    We end up in front of a group of about 10 people; and press forward. As we proceed on with our decent, we encounter a few people making their way up and of course taking turns using the chain cable on the trail. There is an area that you can bypass the chains going down, so we sat on our behinds and hands then slowly slid down the rock cliff near where the chains begin for steeper uphill part of the trail (longer lines of people can build in this area).

    Lessons Learned

    1. Early Bird: We did not need to awaken so early. We can sleep at least another hour if staying in St. George. It does make your experience better if you do arrive early especially if its your first time visiting.
    2. Parking: We learned that if you arrive early enough, you can drive further into the park, and find parking spots. This can help avoid some of the crowds using the shuttles.
    3. Entrance Fees: If you arrive very early as well, the visitor center is not open until 8 a.m., and the park entrance cashier may not be there. We later purchased an Annual Pass which is great! The fee is $80 good for one year to use at all the National Parks.
    4. Fitness: Another idea on how to prepare for some of the hikes in Zion that require climbing is to exercise and strengthen your arm and leg muscles.
    5. Cameras and Cell Phones: Be careful while holding your phone cameras near waterfalls or rushing water. We saw a young lady drop her cell phone in the pool of water / waterfalls near the Temple of Sinawava stop near the Narrows trail head. It appears she did not find it again.

    Things To Bring For Zion Hiking:

    1. Light layers of clothing: Cool mornings can warm up in later parts of the day.
    2. Hat or visor-(it can get windy at the summits, so hang on to your hat)
    3. Sunglasses
    4. Sunscreen
    5. Flashlight
    6. Snacks, food, water or vitamin drink with electrolytes
    7. Cameras; make sure they are secure.
    8. Hiking Shoes: A good pair of hiking shoes to provide a better grip while climbing.

    In Summary

    Overall, our road trip adventure to Zion was incredible and amazing. I can’t tell you how many times I heard folks say these words again and again, “Oh Wow!”  Although our visit took place during a holiday weekend, we planned for the worst. But we also hoped for the best and we feel we got the best. It was perfect weather, manageable crowds, comfortable lodging, met an interesting friend, and made unforgettable memories.

    Want to see more Utah parks? Check out Arches and Canyonlands!

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