6 six years ago, Tie and I went on our first trip together (albeit not as a couple) to New Orleans. As our first wedding anniversary is approaching, we went back to where it all (almost) started. Didn’t quite make it in time for Mardi Gras, but they do have a number of smaller walking parades leading up to Fat Tuesday. We managed to catch one that totally appealed to the nerds within us. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, pop culture references, cosplay, and puns, then the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is for you.
The day we drove to Carlsbad Caverns, the temperature dropped significantly to the low 40s. It was cold and windy, but fortunately the drive was scenic as we curved around the bends up the mountain in Lincoln National Forest. I wish we had more time, because this was definitely worth a stop on its own. In some parts, you’ll see lush forests partially covered by clouds. Or you might see rocky mountains or snow-covered grass. Plenty of hiking trails and scenic outlooks, too. Sure beats the barren land we keep driving past during these long car rides.
On our third day in New Mexico, we drove to the famous White Sands National Monument early in the morning. As the name suggests, the sand dunes compose of beautiful white gypsum sand that make them look like snow-packed hills. It is about a 3-4 hour drive from Albuquerque. Along the way, we made one interesting pit stop and one that was, well, unexpected.
I first found out about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta after watching a timelapse video covering the event on Vimeo. Since then, it has remained on our bucket list for several years. Tie and I have been to another hot air balloon festival in New Jersey, but it was nowhere near as big and organized as this was. People came from all over the world, which explained why hotels, flights, and rental cars experienced surge pricing that weekend. Luckily, we had booked our stuff seven months in advance and were able to use points on Jet Blue and Holiday Inn. On the day we went, there must be have been at least 100,000 attendees total for the day and night sessions. We bought tickets to both (it was only $10 a session).
On our first day in New Mexico, we drove about an hour east to Sante Fe from Albuquerque to check out Meow Wolf. All right, I’ll admit that I first heard about it because George R.R. Martin bought the bowling lane that now houses the exhibition. It’s a bit difficult to describe exactly what Meow Wolf is, but it’s kind of like a mix between a fun house and an interactive art installation. The theme centers around what they call “The House of Eternal Return.” From the outside, it looks like an ordinary house, but each room feels like it’s own unique art piece. Indeed, it’s a giant collaboration of many mixed-media artists. The whole place made us feel like we were tripping on acid; bright, neon colors and bizarre paintings, props, and sculptures that don’t seem to make any sense at all but were entertaining in its oddity nonetheless.
Having been to Maui and Oahu back in 2014, we knew that one day we’d return to Hawaii to visit the other islands. Well, 2018 might not have been the best year to go given the volcanic eruption on Big Island and then Hurricane Lane shortly after. Somehow we lucked out and flew out the week after the hurricane. Nonetheless, it’s true what they say: it’s always raining somewhere in Kauai. Mount Waialeale is amongst one of the wettest places on earth, averaging about 450 inches of rain a year! We always had an umbrella in the trunk and tried not to let a little downpour put a damper on our plans.
Back in September of 2014, we took a trip to Hawaii and visited Honolulu and Maui. This trip was actually a continuation of a previous trip we took to Europe in November of 2013. At the time, American Airlines allowed one stopover at a North American gateway city for international AAdvantage awards provided that itinerary be completed within one year of the first flight. Living in an American Airlines gateway city, this policy essentially gave us a free one-way to anywhere in the United States, including Hawaii, within one year of the original flight. So the return flight itinerary was basically Europe -> NYC (stopover for 10 months) -> Hawaii. In April 2014, American Airlines changed their policy and no longer allowed any free stopovers, killing the free one-ways. So luckily, we got to take advantage of it before it was gone. In this post, I will be reviewing the resort we stayed at in Maui, the Andaz Maui At Wailea.
While our primary focus on the most recent trip to southern California was to take care of wedding stuff, we also decided to spend a few days in Arizona with our friends since we were nearby. Many thanks to Winnie, who helped plan our itinerary before the trip! We made stops at Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Page, and Sedona. I would say that photos don’t do these places justice, but when is it ever better to look at an image than to physically immerse yourself at the actual location? That being said, I hope seeing these images encourage you to visit Arizona in person, too!
This past weekend, Tie and I went to Pennsylvania with our friends to check out the annual Lantern Festival. We’ve seen others post their pictures and videos of the event from previous years and it looked beautiful. Props to Winnie for organizing!
We bought our tickets from Eventbrite months in advance. I didn’t realize just how popular the Lantern Fest was, but it was completely sold out in the few weeks leading up to it. Some friends had to turn to social media to ask for additional tix. Early bird gets the worm! Tickets were $37 and includes one lantern and a smores kit. Kind of pricey, but someone’s gotta clean everything up.