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Wednesday 31 March 2021

Cherry Blossom Season in Hakone Gardens

If you live somewhere where Spring is in full effect (ie. not Colorado!) it's cherry blossom season!

When we lived in California one of my favorite annual events was Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco's Japantown. We'd go along every year to take in all the Japanese culture, the delicious food, the parade, and of course, the beautiful cherry blossoms. You can see some of our visits to Cherry Blossom Festival here, here and here. This year's Cherry Blossom Festival will be virtual (which means you can attend from anywhere!) but if you're in the Bay Area and keen to check out some cherry blossoms and a little Japanese culture in person I highly recommend visiting Hakone Gardens in Saratoga.

We visited Hakone Gardens a few months before we made the move to Colorado and I've been meaning to share our visit here ever since. It's such a beautiful place, especially in Spring when the many trees and shrubs are in bloom. Of course, Spring is the most popular time to visit, so it was rather crowded the day that we went. In fact, the staff told us that it had been their busiest day to date! Normally when we visit somewhere busy I like to take a little extra time with my photos to try and capture less people in them. This was pretty much impossible the day we visited Hakone Gardens, so expect to see lots of people in my pics. This was pre-covid, of course, so the crowds will likely be a little smaller now due to the fact that advance bookings are required to ensure social distancing.  

Let's take a look at our visit...

Sunday 21 March 2021

6 Things To Do in Salem, Massachusetts

Do you listen to podcasts?

Lately I've been listening to a really interesting podcast called Witches of Scotland. This podcast discusses the (mostly) women who were accused, tortured and often executed under the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563. From 1563 though to 1736 almost 4,000 people were accused and tried as witches. Of those, over 2,500 (that we know of) were found guilty, executed by strangulation, and their bodies burned to deny them a proper burial. The podcast discusses the cases where information was recorded, and brings to light the fact that these people were just every day people. The hosts do a great job of humanizing the victims of the Witchcraft Act. The driving force behind the podcast is a call to the Scottish parliament for an official apology, a pardon for those found guilty, and a national memorial honoring those treated so unfairly under this cruel act.

All this talk of witchcraft and memorials has had me thinking about our visit to Salem, Massachusetts back in the Summer of 2018. It's one of those trips I've been meaning to share here for such a long time - but you know me. Always behind! Anyway, today I'm sharing my favorite things to do and see in Salem. It's cute little city with so much interesting history, the most well known, of course, being the Salem witch trials. 

Here are my favorite things to see and do in Salem...

Tuesday 16 March 2021


So far this Winter the weather has been pretty mild here in Colorado. We had a super cold snap back in February with temperatures down to -25C (-13F) and our windows icing up on the inside, but apart from that Winter hasn't really felt like Winter for the most part. Not much in the way of snow, not many chilly days...

Well, the snow made up for it this past weekend when we were hit by a snowstorm! 

I'm not actually sure how much snow we got as I've heard a lot of different measurements, but it was a lot. Maybe 2 feet? Maybe 3 feet? I don't really know, but I do know that it was the fourth heaviest snow in Denver history. We're not in Denver though and I think they got more than us. 

Anyway, this post has absolutely no information or anything that readers may find useful, but I took lots of fun photos that I wanted to share somewhere, so here they are. A totally gratuitous post that's just for me! But hey, if you can't share things that make you happy on your own blog, then what's the point of having one, right?

Thursday 11 March 2021

Things To Do In & Around Palm Springs

Following on from my last post about my desert road trip from Las Vegas to Palm Springs, today I'm sharing some of my favorite things to see and do in and around Palm Springs, as well as my favorite places to stay and where to dine. 

Palm Springs is such an interesting place to visit. Located around two hours east of Los Angeles it's an oasis in the desert full of palm trees, stunning resorts, mid-century modern architecture, and so much more. The first time we visited back in December 2014 I didn't really know an awful lot about Palm Springs. In fact, all I really knew, or what I thought I knew, was that it was a desert oasis for golfing retirees! While there are definitely golf courses and retirees, that's only a tiny part of Palm Springs. The city and the area surrounding it have so much to offer visitors of all ages.   

Have you visited Palm Springs before? We've visited Palm Springs once on a family vacation, and I've been there three times for Alt Summit conference. It's a great place for a desert getaway, especially in the cooler months. While it can get chilly there (it snowed the first time we visited!) Winter in Palm Springs is usually still quite warm, making it a great place to escape from the cold in other states. 

Here's a look at some of my favorite places to visit in and around Palm Springs...

Sunday 7 March 2021

A Desert Road Trip: Las Vegas to Palm Springs

One year ago today, just a week before the world shut down, I was on my way from Palm Springs to Las Vegas for a flight home after the annual Alt Summit blogging conference. I had planned to share all about my trip as soon as I got home, but with everything that ensued it felt a little irresponsible to post about a fun trip. Plus, with the entire family suddenly home 24 hours a day and being thrown into the world of home learning time for blogging wasn't really something I had much of. 

The world is obviously still under the grip of the virus, but with vaccinations rolling out and a new, much more responsible federal government that actually takes the pandemic seriously, things are looking up. So today I thought I'd finally share that road trip and my time in Palm Springs with you all. A word of warning, you're going to see lots of pics of me here and not a single pic of my kids! 

Alt Summit is my favorite conference for bloggers, influencers and creatives. Each year it takes place in late Winter/early Spring in Palm Springs, California. In past years I've either flown direct or driven from San Francisco. This was my first year attending after our move to Colorado, and unable to get direct flights with one of my chosen airlines, I decided to fly to Las Vegas and drive the rest of the way with my friend Sareka who was flying in from Michigan. I met Sareka at Alt Summit the year before when we were roomies. That's my favorite thing about Alt Summit. I always learn a lot when I'm there, but the connections and friendship I've made are the best part. 

The drive between Las Vegas and Palm Springs is about four hours long. With a few stops thrown in it ended up taking the better part of a day in each direction. There are a couple of different routes that you can take, and we opted to go with the route that took us through Mojave National Preserve, a small section of Route 66, and past the northern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. I've shared a map of the route at the end of this post. My plan had actually been to take one of the other routes this year, but Alt Summit, like most conferences, was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Our first stop, and one that you will see no matter which route you take, was the iconic Seven Magic Mountains sculptures. If you've been here a while (or even just a short time) you'll likely know that I'm a big fan of colorful art. I'd been wanting to visit Seven Magic Mountains for years, and I've got to say that they didn't disappoint. Well, the crowds did - I would've preferred to have it all to ourselves, but that just shows how popular it is. If you're not familiar with Seven Magic Mountains, it's a series of seven sculptures reminiscent of balancing rocks, or cairns. The sort of sculpture you often find on desert hikes, but on a much larger scale. And slightly more colorful too! These 25 foot tall sculptures by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone were installed back in 2016 and were originally only supposed to be in place for two years. They proved to be so popular that the installment was given an extension through to the end of 2021. If you 've been wanting to see them in person, this is your year to do it! 

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