Family Beach Vacation 2021

We spent 10 days at the coast on our first big family vacation since having Graham. It was lots of fun and family time! Graham was such a trooper in the car on the way there and the way back, such a great treat for us! We spent the first weekend with Aunt Jody and Penny. Graham went to his first restaurant, Provision Company! Sunday afternoon we left for the night to go to a wedding. It was so much fun to be with friends celebrating again! There were about 100 people at the wedding and it was absolutely gorgeous. All but 3 or 4 guests were vaccinated and it it just so great to finally feel safe gathering in groups and to see other people celebrating big milestones safely! We spent the night away from Graham for the first time and he did great with his Aunties. We came back from the wedding and ventured out to another restaurant! We enjoyed the view and the food and Graham was well behaved again! We spent the next couple days by ourselves out adventuring and checking out places we hadn’t seen before. We even attempted a hike, but it was too much even for the Bob. At the end of the week Sean’s family joined us. We celebrated Sean’s birthday. Graham finally got to meet his Aunt and Uncle. We had a fun pool day and a great beach day. Graham put his toes in the ocean for the first time. There were lots of lap naps and walks around town which we all enjoyed. And at Dadima’s insistence we had a family photoshoot since we had everyone together for the first time in over a year and a half. The pictures turned out well, and Bertie is quite a mood in them. She cracks me up. We’re looking forward to our next trip already. I hope Graham will grow up loving the water like me.

2020 Year in Review

2020. What a year. What a ride. Because (fingers crossed) there will never be another year like this, here’s how our 2020 went down. While there were many lows and many unexpected events on this roller coaster of a year, we were fortunate to have many highs too.

January 3 – My last day at my job. I left work and went straight to get our Bertie girl.

January 6 – Started my new job. Beyond excited to have finally found a new opportunity using and learning new skills, and very hopeful for the future with the company.

January 17 – Bertie’s first trip to the beach

January 25 – Belated friends Christmas celebration. Everyone catches the flu and unbeknownst to us it would be the first and last friend gathering of 2020.

January 31 – Recover from the flu just in time to road trip to Morgantown, WV for the weekend. Bertie’s first night in a hotel. Front row seats to the basketball game.

February 18 – Fly to Destin, FL for training for my new job. My only air travel of 2020.

February 28 – Old Crow Medicine Show concert. Preceded by champagne and oysters and good times with friends. The last supper of 2020.

March 6 – Travel to the beach for the weekend. Blissfully unaware of what is happening in the rest of the world. Bertie’s first time in the sand.

March 10 – Travel by car to Macon, GA for my new job. Due to the rise in cases of Coronavirus my company has now issued a travel advisory for all employees so I’m unable to fly. To be honest, I shouldn’t even be there based on the travel restrictions issued, but my manager seems to think the rules don’t apply. While in Georgia the world seems to take a turn for the worst. COVID-19 is now rapidly spreading and we have no idea what’s coming. My last meal in a restaurant for months is at a Zoe’s Kitchen in Macon. My last trip to the gym in 2020 is also at a hotel gym in Macon.

March 17 – Last day working in the office. The world had changed almost overnight. We are now starting to realize we’re in a global disaster, but with a barrage of information both reliable and not so much, we don’t know what to believe or how bad things truly are.

March 20 – It becomes apparent we’re going to be on lockdown. We stock up on groceries and plan to be in the house for a few weeks.

Sometime in late March – The new job I had been elated to start has turned out to be a disaster. The lady I’m supposed to report to has died. My new manager is awful. After working from home for several weeks I’ve had no communication from anyone at the company about anything. As 2020 is taking a turn for the worst so is this job.

April 1 – I am convinced I am pregnant but refuse to take a pregnancy test on April Fool’s Day.

April 3 – I confirm my suspicion. I am pregnant. I am all. the. emotions.

April 17 – I am furloughed from my new job. In a short month the job has become almost intolerable. I love the work, but the people are miserable and I’m honestly relieved to have a few weeks away to come up with a plan.

Sometime in late April – With no communication from my new job and no clear end in sight for the furlough (and now knowing I’m expecting a baby and the situation with the pandemic is worsening) I ask for my old job back. Friends this is why they tell you not to burn bridges. You never know when a global pandemic will hit and you will be thankful just to have a job.

April 27 – My first big girl house is sold. After being on the market for less than 48 hours in the height of lockdown I received an offer. A few weeks later we go to the closing, and just like that, I’ve sold my first home I bought for myself.

May 4 – The first doctor visit. Beyond relieved to see that our little nugget is thriving. Still feeling all of the emotions.

May 15 – After nearly two months in the house and going absolutely crazy for a change of scenery, we hit the road for West Virginia prepared to tell Sean’s family our big news. On the way we call and FaceTime my family members to let them in on the secret.

Sometime in late May – Things finally start opening back up. What started as a two week “safer at home order” has now surpassed two months. I’m finally able to go back to work part time at my old job. With millions of people out of work I’m thankful to have the chance to go back to work.

May 22 – We decide to brave it and head for the coast for Memorial Day. With the car loaded down with food and essentials we make it with no issues. While we can’t venture out much, it’s wonderful just to be somewhere besides our own house.

June 3 – We go back to the doctor to check on our nugget. Everything looks perfect and we elect to have genetic testing done. We will be able to find out the gender early from this testing.

June 5 – Our trip to the coast the previous weekend went so well, we decide to do it again this weekend. This time we celebrate Sean’s birthday with our friends at their house in South Carolina. We spend the weekend by the beach and the pool and enjoy takeout from some local spots. Because I’m still not working full time and Sean has some extra time off we extend the trip and head to our beach house for a few days. While Covid has upended everything, it’s nice to have the extra time to relax.

June 8 – We’re in the car driving to pick up takeout for dinner and the nurse unexpectedly calls with our test results. She says the genetic testing came back perfect and that she has the gender. I put the phone on speaker, and in the most uneventful way we find out we’re having a boy as we drive down the road. We’re both elated to find out he’s healthy!! We spend the evening eating our takeout and calling family and friends to share the news!

June 26 – Having not seen friends in months we head back to the beach to meet up with my college friends. Over the past weeks it’s become clear that socializing outdoors is much safer, so we spend the day on the beach with them.

July 1 – Back to the doctor to check on the nugget. We have our anatomy scan that confirms he’s a boy and he’s healthy!

July 2 – We head back to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July. What’s normally a rowdy weekend, with the town full of tourists, a huge festival, partying, and fireworks turns into a quiet weekend on the deck with just the two of us.

July 24 – We go back to the coast for the weekend. I’m now halfway through the pregnancy and we’re ready to make our news public.

July 31 – We close on the beach house. While it’s been in my family for years, and we’ve had the good fortune of being able to enjoy it basically whenever we want. It is now ours. And this feels good. To be honest the beach house has been a huge part of our sanity up to this point in 2020 and I can’t imagine not having this safe escape this year.

August 4 – Four days after closing on the house a Category 1 storm comes ashore. We did nothing to prepare since we’ve made it through Category 5’s with no damage. The storm spun off a water spout that came onshore as a tornado and made its way directly up our driveway. We were fortunate to have only a huge limb across the deck, but the town saw more damage than I’ve seen in 20 hurricane seasons.

August 28 – I am 25 weeks pregnant and celebrate my 36th birthday by going out to eat at a restaurant for the first time since March.

September 21 – We celebrate our first wedding anniversary with P.F. Chang’s takeout and Gigi’s cupcakes at home.

October 3 – We celebrate the baby Zoom style with Sean’s family. The perk of the Zoom celebration is that the family from across the world gets to join us.

October 8 – Back to the coast! We stay several nights and decide this is our “babymoon.” It’s not the trip to Hawaii we imagined, or even the back up trip to Arizona or Colorado we thought would be possible when covid first hit, but we’re thankful to still have a healthy nugget and a happy place to get away to. We enjoy our second meal out at a restaurant since March. I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since we were at our favorite beach restaurant, and we’ve essentially missed their entire season this year.

October 24 – We celebrate the baby with our friends at another Zoom shower along with a drive by shower. We had hoped to have a small celebration in our backyard, but with everything opening up cases are rising and it’s just too risky. Luckily we found a way to celebrate somehow!

October 29 – Hurricane Zeta comes ashore at the Gulf Coast and makes its way north. Because it’s 2020 they’ve run out of names for the storms and started using the Greek alphabet. It’s nearly November and we’re without power for almost two days from a hurricane.

November 1 – We celebrated our Bertie girls first birthday!

November 5 – My coworkers surprised me with another shower for baby boy! It was really special since it was the only real “party” we got to have for him!

November 7- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are finally announced as President and Vice President elect. I cry buckets thinking about what this means for little girls everywhere!

November 10 – I have surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma from my forehead. Keep it coming 2020. Skin cancer are you serious!? Wear sunscreen friends.

November 16- At 36 weeks pregnant I am offered a new job. I cannot believe it.

December 6 – Our baby boy, Graham William, is born. He is the spitting image of his daddy and perfect in every way. We are so lucky to have had this bright light to bring us through 2020.

December 22 & 23 – Christmas comes early this year in the form of a COVID vaccine. Sean got his the 22nd, and I got mine on the 23rd. I cried happy tears getting my shot!! We waited all year for this and to be among some of the first to get it is a huge relief! It seems fitting that my first solo outing with Graham was to get my shot!

December 25 – We celebrate our first Christmas with Graham! He gives us a Christmas miracle and sleeps well the night before. We enjoy our day at home, with just the 3 of us and of course Bertie. We’re in the thick of the newborn phase so we have boxed macaroni for Christmas dinner!

December 31 – Graham goes on his first road trip. We ring in 2021 at the coast with steak and lobster takeout from our favorite restaurant and drink champagne we brought home from France. Graham sleeps through dinner and I don’t know of a more perfectly 2020 way to end the year than at our favorite place, reminiscing about past trips and celebrating what’s to come for our new little family of 4.

I am looking forward to 2021. While 2020 was a tough year for everyone I feel so lucky to have had the greatest joy of all to close out the year! Wishing you and yours a better 2021!

Our Wedding Day at Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall

We were married on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We chose this date because it is my Mom’s birthday. We recently celebrated our first anniversary and it was so wonderful to have the chance to have all the good vibes associated with this day now. While we will always be missing her on this special day, it just felt good to think about all of our friends and family gathered in paradise to celebrate us, instead of think about how we don’t have her here to celebrate another year.

Because we had asked everyone to travel to Jamaica which wasn’t cheap, and because I was pretty non traditional about everything anyway, we did not have a wedding party. I didn’t want them to have the added expense of matching dresses and shoes and hair and makeup etc. I also wanted everyone to feel like it was as much of their own vacation as possible, so keeping wedding things to a minimum helped give them more time to enjoy the trip themselves, in my opinion. I had asked a few of my friends who I knew would be coming to be my Brides-Baes, and it worked out perfectly. They were there for all the “bridesmaids duties” but there wasn’t the same stress.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, my girls joined me in the suite, and we ordered room service breakfast for everyone. We had planned to hangout in the room all day, but thought better of it after seeing what a beautiful day it was. We wanted to go out sailing on the resort catamarans, but the catch was that Sean’s family was out on the beach doing a tumeric ceremony for him. Sean and I had decided we didn’t want to see each other the day of the wedding, so the girls devised a plan and we headed out onto the beach. After nearly being caught we made it to the ocean where we waited for our turn on the boats. I am so glad that we had the chance to do something fun, instead of just stay in the room all day.

While we were out on the beach we discovered that my dad was quite sick. No one had wanted to tell me I guess, but some of our friends came up and asked if he was feeling better. I had no idea what they were talking about and they realized they had let me in on the news. I could see them start to panic as they said “oh I’m sure everything is fine” and they hurried away. I knew I couldn’t deal with it so I quickly texted Sean and told him to (Sorry!).

After coming back from the beach I showered while the girls ordered room service and champagne. A few of the other ladies stopped by the room while we were eating and getting ready. My hair and makeup appointment was set for 2:00. While I went to get done up, the other girls went back to their rooms to get ready. My aunt came with me to the appointment to make sure someone approved. One of the best things I did was to bring my own make up. I am seriously no expert, but I have watched my fair share of YouTube tutorials. Your wedding day is not the time to find out that they don’t have a foundation to match you or you are allergic to their mascara of choice. Overall I felt like she did a really good job with my make up, my hair was fine, but I should have given her a little more guidance on what I wanted. Bring lots of pictures and don’t be afraid to speak up. Looking back I had done my hair and makeup myself for the events leading up to the wedding, and I think I did fine, but I could have had it done, so that I would have had a chance for a trial for the wedding day.

Our wedding photographer showed up to just in time to capture some shots of me having my hair and make up done. We decided against the resort photographer and hired a local wedding photographer in Montego Bay. She brought an assistant who was with Sean while he was getting ready. If I am being honest, I loved her personally, but I am very “meh” about the photos. She was so much fun to work with and had a wonderful personality. She was prompt, she gave great directions leading up to the event which was important since I never met her until she was there to shoot, she worked well with the large group and had no issues giving the group instructions. But overall I don’t really love how the photos turned out. We were married at sunset and the sunset was absolutely magical that day. Many of the photos don’t show this at all and many have either been edited or modified to the point of it looking nothing like what it actually looked like. Several months after the wedding I got the courage to ask her for the unedited images, and she claims that she did not really edit them, rather its the lighting that she used that changed the color of the sky and scenery. I don’t know enough about photography to know if this is true or not, but I do know I’m not a huge fan of the photos. (Just an FYI I am not linking to her or mentioning her here because I have seen MANY positive reviews about her, and frankly I really liked her as a person. She has a portfolio and Instagram full of gorgeous photos so maybe she was just having a bad day. Also because I have re-edited basically every photo that you see here that she took….)

During hair and makeup my aunt had been talking to my dad and my uncle. We had asked my uncle to be ready to walk me down the aisle in the event my dad couldn’t get it together. My dad said he thought he was going to be able to make it but still wasn’t too sure. Trust me something will go awry on your wedding day, no matter how much you plan, and no matter chill you try to be about the whole thing.

After my hair and makeup we went back to the suite to get me in my dress. All of the girls were there ready and waiting with champagne. I hopped in my dress and we had some pictures taken before heading to the ceremony.

A side note on my wedding dress – I really had kind of dreaded going shopping for my dress. I guess because my mom couldn’t be there and because it just wasn’t something I wanted to get super into. When I tried on the dress, I liked it a lot but the voice in my head was saying “it’s SO FLUFFY.” I said to my aunt and my cousins I really like it but it’s just so fluffy. Well I bought it anyway, and to be honest I really liked it each time I went to try it on. The day of the wedding when I put it on I still really liked it. When I look at the pictures now I wonder why the hell I am wearing that fluffy dress. It’s pretty, but very not “me.” I don’t think they did the best job altering it and as I got hotter in the Jamaican heat it stretched out so the top part of it doesn’t fit correctly, and I feel like I am just swallowed in fluff. I had worked out so much and was in probably the best shape of my life and the dress really doesn’t do anything to show that off. Listen to the voice in your head friends.

The ceremony was on the rooftop Sky Lounge of the the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. I waited with the wedding coordinator to go up the elevator until everyone was in place and Sean was heading down the aisle with his mom. I didn’t see my dad until I got to the top of the elevator, he didn’t look great but I was very glad he was able to get it together to be there. I walked down the aisle with my dad to Van Morrison “Into The Mystic.”

The view from the ceremony was stunning. I loved that we chose the rooftop location. I also loved the wedding officiant. He had the perfect Jamaican accent that just added the perfect touch to the vibe. I had written our entire ceremony, and sent it to the wedding coordinator a couple weeks before the big day. I loved that I was able to do this, as we aren’t particularly religious and much of the traditional wedding ceremony wording just didn’t fit us. We also were able to add in a Hindu tradition of exchanging the Mangalsutra necklace. The ceremony was less that fifteen minutes and was exactly what I wanted. We walked back down the aisle to Bob Marley “Is This Love.”

<When I say I have no idea what the photographer did to edit the photos this is what I mean. This is the same picture. She took the one with blue sky, and someone else took the one with the actual sunset with an iPhone. The iPhone shot is honestly what the sky looked like. It’s not that she took bad photos as much as I don’t understand how she changed the actual time of day or why!?>

After the ceremony we asked all of the guests to stay on the rooftop for a quick photo op. Since we had no wedding party, and because we wanted everyone to be part of the day we took group photos of everyone, and then from all the different groups who had come. It was one of my favorite things we did, but again the photos aren’t what I had hoped for.

Again, this is an iPhone shot from a friend and you can see it looks not much like the images she sent…

Following the ceremony we went with the photographer to get our photos, and the guests went to a cocktail hour on the lawn. We had a steel drum band and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. We made it to the cocktail hour just in time to hear the last of the steel drum band.

The wedding coordinator helped get everyone moved to the location for the dinner and reception while we stayed behind. Once they were all seated for dinner, we made our way in. Much to the dismay of the wedding coordinator I elected not to have a seating chart. From what I could tell it worked out perfectly fine. We entered to Maren Morris’ “To Hell and Back” and did a quick first dance. As a side note, her album “Girl” came out while I was away in Prague, and I listened to it for the first time while I was on the plane heading back to the US. When I heard the song for the first time I sat on the plane and cried because I couldn’t believe how much it told our story too.

After our dance we were seated at the head table and the guests were allowed to serve themselves dinner. We had a buffet of all traditional Jamaican food that I am told was delicious. We were served a plate of food by the staff, but I honestly don’t remember it and neither does Sean. I hadn’t planned to dance with my dad, Sean hadn’t planned to dance with his mom, and we had kind of said there would be no toast unless my dad decided spur of the moment that he wanted to. (I told you I don’t like traditional.) Once we were served our food we looked around to see if my dad might be making a toast. He was nowhere to be found, and we realized he had gone back to his room as soon as the ceremony was over. It was a big bummer he couldn’t be at the celebration, but I am thankful he made it to the ceremony. So there were no toasts at our wedding and I was 100% fine with it.

As soon people finished up eating the DJ had them on the dance floor and he kept the party going all night. We had an absolute blast on the dance floor, and so did all of our guests. It was nice to have been able to send him some of the songs that were must play’s in advance and also the songs that were on the under no circumstances will you play this. He did a good job mixing in songs that we requested with songs that he knew would get everyone going. He was even prepared with Jay-Z “Punjabi” when the family requested Indian music. I don’t think it was what they had in mind, but they seemed to like it none the less.

I had also elected not to cut the cake, again with the traditions. I looked around at some point in the night and people were eating cake. The staff had cut it and served it, and it worked out perfectly. Do not feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to, because the tradition says you should or somebody’s grandma said that’s how it has to be. It’s your day and you focus on what will make you enjoy your day.

As the night wrapped up I told the photographer that I was going in the pool in my dress before she left. She came and got me a few minutes before it was time and we went to the pool to set up. It ended up being a bit drawn out because the people from the resort tried to talk us out of it, but we went in all our wedding finest to end the night. We got out of the pool and the DJ was playing John Denver “Country Roads.” Everyone circled around us and sang while we danced soaking wet, a little tipsy, and oh so happy! It could not have been more perfect.

As soon as the party was over we went back to our room to change. My dress was a sandy soaking wet mess. We got into our swimsuits and went to a friends room where everyone had gathered. They had a room with a private swim up pool. We kept the party going as long as we could, but the resort staff really wasn’t too happy with us. The party kept growing and the night kept getting later, and they finally asked us to take it somewhere else. We went to the sports bar on the resort for a just a few minutes before realizing it was time to call it a night.

It was the absolute perfect day in paradise and I am so thankful that we always get to look back on everything from that day as “our day!”

For more on our wedding check here, here, & here.

A Review of the Rockhouse Hotel, Negril, Jamaica

rainbow at rockhouse jamaica
rainbow at rockhouse hotel jamaica
double rainbow at the rockhouse hotel
double rainbow over the ocean at the Rockhouse Hotel
Rainbow over the ocean at the rockhouse hotel
Rainbow at the rockhouse
new wedding rings and a rainbow at the rockhouse hotel
rockhouse hotel boutique and art gallery
the rockhouse hotel
the rockhouse hotel Negril Jamaica
The Rockhouse Hotel View From Bed
Rockhouse Hotel Spa Aqua Detox
Rockhouse Hotel privat sun deck
Rockhouse Hotel
Pool Views at the Rockhouse Hotel Negril Jamaica
Tropical foliage at the Rockhouse Hotel
Pool view at the Rockhouse Hotel
Jumping into the ocean at the Rockhouse Hotel
breakfast at the rockhouse restaurant
breakfast at the rockhouse restaurant
breakfast at the rockhouse restaurant
fresh fish sandwich at the Rockhouse Pool Bar
stray cat at the Rockhouse eating leftover room service
relxaing by the ocean at the Rockhouse Hotel
lime daquiris from the Pool Bar
Negril Jamaica Party Boat
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
watching the sunset at the rockhouse hotel
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
Negril Jamaica Sunset
sunset at the rockhouse hotel
Jamaican Sunset
Sunset at the Rockhouse Hotel Restaurant
sunset at the rockhouse restaurant
specials of the day at the rockhouse restaurant
the rockhouse restaurant
the pushcart restaurant Negril Jamaica
Dinner at the pushcart restaurant Negril Jamaica
fresh fish at the pushcart restaurant Negril Jamaica
rockhouse restaurant

After our wedding at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, we left early the following morning for a mini honeymoon. We stayed at the Rockhouse Hotel in Negril for three nights. It is a little over two hours to drive from Montego Bay to Negril. Our travel agent had suggested several resorts that were near the Hyatt, for a quicker getaway. In hindsight, I may have taken her advice but we wanted to see Negril, and I had been wanting to stay at the Rockhouse or the Caves for years.

Our driver arrived at the Hyatt in the later morning and we were off for Negril. About halfway into the trip he pulled over at this small roadside store/shack for us to use the bathroom. While we were inside several people offered to sell us pot, no big deal since this seemed pretty standard in Jamaica. We weren’t interested so we got back in the car which is when he went around to the side of the car and peed. OK. So maybe they wouldn’t let him use the facilities since we didn’t buy any pot?! Unclear. Also at this stop, the owner of the company driver worked for appeared out of nowhere to tell us that we hadn’t paid enough. This had all been arranged through the travel agent so we were unsure what was happening. He decided that we had paid the rate from the airport to the hotel in Negril, but since the hotel in Montego Bay was a bit farther from the airport we owed more. We said fine and assumed we would pay it later. We got back on the road, and headed to the hotel. The same man must have followed us to Negril, because once we arrived at the hotel he appeared again asking for $30 dollars. We paid it to get rid of him, but it was just strange.

After the week of festivities and staying up late celebrating the night before I was EXHAUSTED (see below). Once we arrived at the hotel the check in process was SO SLOW! They wanted to show us around, and tell us all about the resort. Nice, but all I wanted was to finish my nap and to order room service. I finally had to tell them I was not interested in the tour and please take me to my room. We ordered food and spent the rest of the day resting.

The view from our room was amazing, we could see the water and partially see the sunset. The rooms are thatched roof individual huts. The bathroom is inside, but the shower is in an outdoor area off of the room. We loved the room and showering outside was fun. While it is outside, it’s private and still feels clean. There is a mosquito net that pulls down over the bed at night, we used it nightly but didn’t see any mosquitos in the room. Our room had a little porch area with chairs and water views, as well as its own private sun deck with nice lounge chairs. Pro tip – the air conditioning in the room is connected to the main door, when you open the door the air cuts off. We found the way around this was to leave using the sliding glass door – this left our room unlocked but it stayed nice and cool! The resort was the perfect place to rest and relax after a crazy week. It is so tranquil, and peaceful there. Because, everyone is in their own little hut, you don’t really see or hear other people, and basically anywhere on the property has a view of the water, you can hear the waves crashing, and feel an ocean breeze.

On our first morning we woke up to the most beautiful double rainbow over the ocean. I mean are you serious with that rainbow. We took some pictures and then had breakfast at the Rockhouse Restaurant. The food there was fantastic. They have fresh squeezed juices and you can tell everything is prepared to order. We really enjoyed it. As part of our honeymoon package we were treated to an Aqua Detox foot soak in the spa. It was very strange. You put your feet in this vibrating tub and the water turns dark brown and foamy over time. It claims to be removing toxins through your feet. It was free with our stay, but I don’t know that I would pay for it since it didn’t really seem to do much. The spa looked really nice, but we did not have any other services done since we had just had a massage before the wedding. After our spa treatment we headed out to the pool and spent the day by the pool. We LOVED this pool. It never really got crowded, they play great music all day, and the food from the pool bar was SO GOOD. The drinks that we ordered from the pool bar were all really good too! The location is the best part, the ocean breeze, the view, watching the sunset. This pool is amazing. We had dinner that night at the Pushcart Restaurant. Again it was an excellent meal. I had fish that was fresh from the ocean. SO GOOD.

The next day was more of the same. Breakfast. Pool. Sun deck. Lunch at the pool bar. Drinks. Sunshine. Nap. Sunset. Dinner at the Pushcart. Good stuff.

I did rent snorkel gear from the pool and venture out into the ocean. There were some waves and a bit of a current but I felt safe. Sean wasn’t interested in snorkeling due to the waves and current. I saw a few fish, but nothing amazing. I wanted to jump from the bridge at the hotel in to the ocean but, Sean said absolutely no way he would let me. We considered going out to Rick’s Cafe to see the famous cliff jumpers and also considered taking the hotel shuttle out to the sister property Skylark, but ultimately decided the food, the view, and everything we had at the hotel was all we needed. It is so tranquil there. I honestly can’t think of many more relaxing places I have been.

But this is where things get weird. That night before bed I noticed a few VERY SMALL blood spots on the bed. I mentioned it, and we decided that maybe one of had a bug bite that we scratched and we didn’t worry too much about it. BUT. The next morning we woke up and there were more. And I FREAKED. I immediately went to google, and determined that it was probably bed bugs. (Before you’re all like don’t ruin this for me, I have friends who work in the travel industry who have assured me that almost every hotel you or I have ever stayed in has dealt with this). I panicked for a second and then we decided to call the manager to our room. We were packing up to leave for the airport anyway so we felt like it was our responsibility to tell someone so they would know before the next guest had the same experience. I was very nice and just told her to look at the situation and we wanted her to know so that she could do whatever she felt she needed to with the information. She immediately got angry and defensive and told us that couldn’t possibly be what was wrong and she knew it was just sand fleas that had gotten in under the net. That made me absolutely FURIOUS and left such a bad taste for the whole stay. Everyone who worked there had been so friendly and helpful for the entire stay, and all she had to say was thank you I’ll take care of it. Whether she did or not was up to her, but denying the situation was infuriating.

Our driver showed up early, and we quickly loaded up to head to the airport. At that point I was OVER IT and ready to get home. It was pouring buckets and several times we mentioned to him that we were so thankful he could pick us up early since the weather was so bad it was nice to not have to hurry to the airport. Well he didn’t take the hint. Everyone there drives like complete maniacs. The roads are narrow two lane roads, and the rain had been coming down so hard they were flooded out. Despite this I fell asleep. I woke up to a big crashing sound. We were in a car accident. On the wrong side of the road. I have no idea what we were doing on the other side of the road or how the accident happened because I was sleeping. But y’all as if the the bed bugs weren’t enough we got in a car accident too!

We quickly got out of the car because the front end was smoking. And as we are standing there in the mud with the rain pouring down on us, locals keept appearing out of nowhere. A few were arguing about how the accident happened and who’s fault it was, but most of them wanted to help us. They started throwing our stuff out of the car (I get the feeling I wasn’t the only one who was afraid the car was going to catch on fire). Then I said we were going to the airport, what are we going to do. And that’s when “Captain Black” saved the day. Everyone started tossing our stuff into another car, and before you know it we were in a car with a stranger named Captain Black headed to the airport. Before we ever even had time to think about if he was going to kidnap us and murder us we got in the car with him because we needed a ride to the airport, and because the day had gone from bad to worse. He ended up being very nice and he took us right to the airport. The company the driver worked for never reached out to see if we were hurt and never offered a refund, so definitely would not recommend them.

So would I recommend the Rockhouse? It’s tough because we loved it there. It is so tranquil and it feels like you are in another world because of all the beautiful foliage, the thatched roof huts, the ocean breeze, the sound of the waves. The food and drinks at all the restaurants was amazing. BUT. We got bed bugs. And the manager told us we didn’t. [Oh. And they refunded 20% of the cost of our stay. Just incase it might have been bed bugs. Because it was.] But the truth is almost EVERY hotel you have ever stayed at has probably dealt with this, so this could have happened anywhere. And at least the bugs have a nice view there.

For us, Montego Bay is a two hour direct flight, and there are tons of nice resorts within 30 minutes of the airport. So on our next trip we probably won’t go back to Negril because it’s just easier to stay closer to the airport for a nice quick getaway.

When you got married the night before…

me sleeping again… 11:16 am

7 minutes later…

#WanderlustWednesday

The Perfect Parisian Sunset

Paris, France

#sacrecouer #montmarte #sunsetviews

  • Want to work for the royals and get paid to travel? The Queen is hiring a Director of Royal Travel.
  • Did you make it to any of the top 20 most visited cities in 2019?
  • A recent flight spent 11 hours in the air, with the passengers ultimately going nowhere due to a volcano and horses.
  • It’s not too late to take advantage of Southwest’s Cyber Monday deals!
  • The effect social media is having on travel. People are only visiting “gram-worthy” spots.

Hiking to the Top of Diamond Head

diamond head state monument
hiking to the top of diamond head
hiking to the top of diamond head oahu hawaii
view from the lookout diamond head trail
diamond head hike lookout view
diamond head lookout view
diamond head hike tunnel
tunnel to the top of diamond head
stairs to the top of diamond head
view from the pillbox at the top of diamond head
pillbox on top of diamond head
top of diamond head
Honolulu skyline view from the top of diamond head
top of diamond head
gorgeous view from the top of the diamond head trail
Oahu Hawaii Diamond Head Hike
Hawaii Pineapple Stand
Dole Whip
Hawaii Dole Whip Treat

One of our favorite things we did on our trip to Oahu was to climb to the top of Diamond Head. There are plenty of beautiful hikes on the island, many that are lesser known and probably less crowded, but we decided to take the path more traveled…

Although I have been to Oahu before this was my first time doing this hike. Parking was an issue the day we went. We waited for quite awhile in traffic to head up the hill to the small parking lot and found that it was full. We drove back down the hill and parked at a nearby school. I had the brilliant idea to take an Uber back up the steep hill, instead of starting our hike a very steep mile sooner than we planned. This worked out great, and on the way back we were able to walk back to the car down the hill with no issues.

The hike is not terribly difficult, but towards the end there were quite a few stairs, and we ended up in a narrow tunnel which I was not prepared for and totally did not like.  We also took a turn that led us to a small pillbox that we had to crawl out of to see the view. After the hike we were told that we could have taken a turn to miss both the tunnel and the pillbox, so if like me, you’re not a fan of small spaces maybe do some research on that.

On the way down we saw Yasiel Puig full out running up the trail with his training team as we were coming down. If you’re all who is that? Same. But Sean was impressed.

Overall we really enjoyed the hike and the views from the top were definitely worth the stairs and the tight spaces. We finished off the hike with a Dole whip that was well earned.

#WanderlustWednesday

Napa Valley Oakville Grocery

Oakville, California

#CaliforniaDreamin #WineCountry #NapaValley

  • NASA is wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween with their latest image of the sun!
  • A few tips from the New York Times on what to pack to make your travel photos standout on Instagram. (also making it clear that Instagram has taken over the world, since this is now newsworthy)
  • Do you use a travel agent to book your travel? Having just used one for the first time I would agree with the pros and cons in this article.
  • Discount travel sites often use the “only one room left” tactic, but is it true?
  • Vacasa becomes the newest travel site to enter the home rental market, attempting to set itself apart from other options as a full service management  company.

#WanderlustWednesday

Sunset on the Gulf Coast Siesta Key Florida

Siesta Key, Florida

#VisitFL #Sunsettin #GulfOfMexico

  • Lonely Planet released their best of 2020 travel this week. It’s a lot to take in but so many good travel ideas.
  • A JetBlue employee is facing 20 years in prison for scamming the company out of nearly $800,000.
  • A Japanese airline is developing  robots that could soon be doing your travel for you.
  • #Fauxliage season is in full swing. Here are some of the best pumpkin patches around the world to capture Gram-worthy photos.
  • Delta is now offering Sky Miles Select for $59 per year. Is it worth it?

Life Lately

Fall at the National Parks
Blue Ridge Music Center
Hiking at the Blue Ridge Music Center
Hiking at the Blue Ridge Music Center
Fall Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center
Hiking at the Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center
IMG_3871

fall day in the mountains

Wedding Sunset in Jamaica

unedited sneak peek of the most epic sunset after the wedding 

Time for a quick update on life lately. It has turned to full blown fall overnight. If you saw my Instagram post last week you know that I am a summer girl! I live for summer days, flip flops, and sunshine. So while the rest of the world is buying pumpkin spice everything, I’m over here daydreaming about summer.

I can hardly believe that we were married in Jamaica almost a month ago. I cannot wait to share more! I loved our photographer that we worked with; there is a 6-14 week turnaround for the photos so we are anxiously awaiting them! We had the most epic sunset the night of the wedding that I know is going to make for great photos. I’ll probably overshare once we get them! We got married at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and then went to Negril for a short mini moon at the Rockhouse Hotel.

Since coming home life has been all kinds of crazy. In an effort to get in the fall spirit we took a road trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leaves had just started turning, and it was a perfect day trip. Seeing the leaves start to change does give me all the #fallfeels. We visited the Blue Ridge Music Center for the first time. There is a small museum here that explains the history of mountain music, free music outdoors, and a very nice hiking trail. We really enjoyed it. It is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway so the drive in is beautiful as well. On the way home we stopped at nearby Round Peak Vineyards for a glass of wine and to take in the view. Our final stop was at Skull Camp Brewing for a late lunch. Overall the perfect fall day trip.

We leave for our actual honeymoon in Paris in a few weeks and would love any and all recommendations you have on visiting the City of Lights!

#WanderlustWednesday

Fall in Zurich

Fall in Zurich

#Switzerland #CH #Limmat

  • The best selling travel book of all time is getting a makeover.
  • AirBnB released a list of their top travel destinations for 2020. Not throwing shade but – Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Really?!?
  • A town in Italy is now posting warnings not to follow Google Maps after multiple rescue missions of misguided tourists. Apparently we need signs to tell people not to drive their Porsche over a cliff?
  • My home state has a new travel ambassador. Meet Mo, the four legged #visitNC travel guide.
  • Not all that newsworthy or surprising but a new survey finds Millenials “will work for travel.”