Girls Trip – NYC

I love a weekend away with my girls, and what better place than New York City. I had only been to the Big Apple during the winter months, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I wanted to see Central Park with some leaves on the trees and maybe catch a Yankee Game. And what better weekend to see the city, catch a game and experience some warmer weather than Memorial Weekend. So what does a Girls Weekend in NYC over Memorial Weekend look like?

Rally the Troops

I traveled to NYC with two of my best gal pals and my sister, and I thought it was way cool that we all came from different places. One girl came from the Bay Area, my sister from the Seattle area, another from north of Sacramento and me from Reno. We all took the red-eye to JFK ready for a weekend of fun.

Where to Stay

We rented a cute little 2-bedroom Airbnb in Williamsburg. It was perfect for us. We stocked the fridge with drinks and snacks and had a place we could all hang out together comfortably rather than in a small hotel room. I loved the location. We were right next to the subway and could be in Manhattan in about 10 mins. There were some awesome coffee and bagel shops nearby and we were located within walking distance to some fun bars, nightlife and the pier which has some of the best nighttime views of Manhattan. Not sure I would stay in the same Airbnb, but I love that location and the concept of having our own little place.

Downtown Manhattan and Staten Island

What isn’t there to do in New York City? Since we took the red-eye, we arrived in the city around 9am and had the whole day ahead of us to explore. We dropped off our bags in Brooklyn using Vertoe and headed to the 911 Memorial. Not only was in Memorial Weekend, but it was also Fleet Week. So the city was overrun with Navy shipmen and decorated with American flags. We paid our respects and headed up the One World Trade Center. The elevator ride was awesome, and we bought the package that comes with a drink at the bar up top. The view from up there is incredible.

I had learned from a local New Yorker that if you want free a view of the Statue of Liberty than take the Staten Island Ferry, so that’s what we did. We cruised across the harbor and saw stellar views of Lady Liberty and lower Manhattan. Once on Staten Island, we headed to the brewery for some refreshments and lunch. The brewery doesn’t serve, but there are some nearby restaurants that deliver.

Nightlife in Brooklyn

Go to a rooftop bar. The line might be a little long, but I think it’s worth it. You are a tourist in New York, and the view is one of kind. We went to Westlight, had an overpriced cocktail, took some photos and then headed to the next place. Other fun places are the Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Bowl and Radegast Hall & Biergarten. I read a list from about the best bars in Brooklyn and one named Turkey’s Nest was on it. After our time at the rooftop bar, the ladies and I were headed home when I saw the Turkey’s Nest. We stopped by, and it ended up being my friend’ favorite place of the night. This place is a dive bar, and we attracted a lot looks because we were dressed to the nines and were now in a place that served your beer in large styrofoam cups. I’d go back, but I’d ditched my heels for my converse.

Yankee Game

If you want to catch a Sunday afternoon Yankee game on Memorial Weekend book early. We nabbed some of the last seats available and were stuck in the nosebleeds. But the weather was awful that day, and we had to walk around and watch the game from the covered hallway to get out the rain and warm up a bit. In one weekend we experienced hot, freezing, and perfect weather. No GoPros are allowed in Yankee Stadium, and if you have yours, there is a store nearby that will rent you an expensive locker. Before you go, double check their bag policy. I did bring my backpack in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they transitioned to the clear bag policy. We took the subway from Brooklyn to the stadium and it worked perfectly.

Central Park and Times Square

Central Park with leaves on the trees is dreamy. After the game, we took the subway to Central Park to walk around a bit and enjoy the sites. My original thought was that New York City would be a little more crowded than usual – especially in the touristy area. The city was only crowded in the touristy areas because the locals were all gone for the holiday weekend. This was apparent in Times Square. This was my sister’s first time to NYC, so we decided to walk through Times Square on our way to dinner. We found where all the people were hiding, and quickly vacated the area.

Rockefeller Center and Natural History Museum

Three of us were catching evening flights back to the West Coasts, so we had a couple more hours to kill before we headed to JFK. I asked the girls what they wanted to do and it was unanimously the Natural History Museum. So we decided on the museum via Rockefeller Center and a bike ride through Central Park. We took the subway to Rockefeller Center and rented some Citi Bikes. Navigating to Central Park was a little tricky, but once we made it to the park it was smooth sailing to the museum. We docked our bikes and went into the world of Wooly Mammoths, our friends from Land Before Time, and the epic underwater exhibit. I have now ended two NYC trips at the Natural History Museum, and both times have been great.

If you’re looking to plan a destination girls trip, look no further than the Big Apple. It has everything you need for a memorable getaway. And if this is your first time to the city, or you are looking for more of the touristy activities, check out my other blog – 36 Hours in NYC. Have you gone on a girls trip to NYC? What did you and your squad do? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie

Picture Perfect Views – Reno Edition

Reno, NV aka The Biggest Little City in World. Located in the Eastern Sierra, this little gem has always been known for its gambling, neon and the “smaller Vegas.” What you might have not known is that Reno offers spectacular views. Climb up one of their desert mountains just before sundown and you’ll be treated with one of the most colorful sunsets you’ve ever seen. Whether you are looking for a view of the city or the mountains I have you covered. Keep reading and find where the best views in Reno are.

Dry Pond Loop

Located in south Reno is the popular Dry Pond Loop. The trail head starts off of Timberline Road – look for either the Upper Thomas Creek trail head or Jones White Creek. You will have to walk a little bit along Timberline road to complete the loop, this trail can be completed in either direction. As you wind up the mountainside and into the Mount Rose Wilderness, you will see a sign for the Dry Pond Connector. The views along this trail are quite spectacular, but the summit offers the best view of Mt. Rose framed by pine trees.

View of Mt Rose

The ‘N’

This trail is short but steep with rewarding views. Start your hike from either Rancho San Rafael Park or the Reno Softball Complex off Virginia St. The ‘N’ stands for Nevada, and this hike offers some of the best views of the University and the park below. If you plan to complete this hike during the afternoon in the summertime, please bring appropriate cover and water as this hike is fully exposed. One of these years, I plan to watch the balloon races from the ‘N’ – I think the view will be stellar.

The 'N'
Photo Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Huffaker Hills

This isn’t a long hike, roughly 2 miles, so it’s a perfect way to get out and stretch your legs while taking in panoramic views of the valley. Find the trailhead off Alexander Lake Road. It’s a rocky path so bring appropriate shoes. And maybe some drinks or a picnic! This is the perfect spot to take in the city.

Harriet the Dog

Hunter Creek

Another local favorite, Hunter Creek is about 6-miles long, out and back and features a waterfall at the end. Set in the hills of west Reno, you get some amazing views of downtown framed by the canyon. A majority of the hike is exposed with the last miles or so taking place amongst the pine. You’ll forget all about the neon and casinos of Reno when on this hike.

Hunter Creek Waterfall

What is your favorite hike in Reno? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie  

The Bleisure Trip – Las Vegas

What is a Bleisure Trip? It’s combining your business trip with a leisure trip. Whether you show up to your conference early, stay a little late, or add on a few extra days to that out of town business trip, the Bleisure Trip is the latest trend in travel.

Las Vegas – home to over 40 million visitors a year is popular with leisure travelers, but also conventions, conferences, meetings you name it. This makes the 24-hour town perfect for the bleisure traveler, especially if you’ve never been!  If your conferences are anything like the ones I’ve been to, you maybe have one free night to explore, so extend your trip over a weekend to get the full Vegas experience.

Where to Stay

If you’ve never been to Vegas and experienced the Strip, stay on the Strip.  Whether that’s extending your stay if your conference hotel or picking a new one, you’ll want to be where the action is. Do your research. There are tons of different hotels on the strip and they all vary in price or activities. Plus, the Strip is 4 miles long, so you won’t necessarily be walking up and down it. I have been to Las Vegas a handful of times and usually stay on the south strip in the Tropicana. It’s a great hotel, and I’m all about the greasy pizza deals at the nearby New York New York.

However, during my last trip (which happened to be a bleisure trip) I stayed at Planet Hollywood during the conference and moved over to The LINQ for the weekend. These hotels are located in the center strip, and I loved being in the center of the action. Planet Hollywood is right across the street from the Bellagio. It was pretty cool walking outside my hotel and seeing the fountains. I also loved the atmosphere of The LINQ. They have corn hole and beer pong at the pool. The LINQ Promenade is right outside with great dining, zip lining, and the High Roller – the Ferris Wheel built after the London Eye.

What to Do

This might be a loaded question because what isn’t there to do? Gambling is an obvious choice, but I’m not a huge gambler. Well, since this is your first time to Vegas, you need a picture with the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I waited about 25 mins in line for a photo, but it’s a really cool photo. One of my favorite things about Las Vegas is the shows. It could be an act that has a residency, a band that happens to be in town or a cirque show. Usually when in Vegas, I try to catch a Cirque show. But this last time, I opted to see the Backstreet Boys during my “free night” of the conference and then that weekend saw Blink-182. My late 90s heart was very happy. I also recommend the High Roller in the LINQ Promenade or Zip lining down Fremont Street. If you are in Vegas when the weather is still warm, don’t miss the pool! Soak up that Nevada sun and rest up for a long night ahead of you.

If you have the opportunity to turn your trip to Las Vegas for a conference into a Bleisure trip, invite a friend! If you live on the west coast, this is an easy weekend trip for your significant other to fly down and meet you. There is a reason why Las Vegas attracts so many visitors a year. It’s a fun place with a lot to do! Have you ever gone on a Bleisure Trip? Where did you go? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

Backpacking the Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is 165 miles long and goes around the entirety of Lake Tahoe. You can choose to complete the thru-hike in one fell swoop, you can do day hikes on portions of it, or you can choose to backpack just parts of it. I have done the latter two, but I want to talk specifically about backpacking from Mt. Rose Summit to Spooner Summit on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Trail

You technically start just south of Mt Rose Summit (within walking distance) at Tahoe Meadows. There is a huge parking lot where you can leave your car and a proper toilet before embarking into the wilderness. This section of the TRT is about 25 miles long. We hiked around 15 miles the first day and 10 miles the last day. I recommend you leave a car at the Spooner Summit Trail head. You might be able to hitch a ride back, but I was so beat after this trek, that the last thing I wanted to worry about was how I getting back to my car. The trail takes you up along the east shore of Lake Tahoe, and the highlight of our first day is when you reach the summit above Marlette Lake. Here you get a view of Marlette and Tahoe in one shot. If you are keen on visiting Marlette Lake, read my blog about the Lake Tahoe Flume Trail. From this point, your first day of hiking is almost complete. There is a campground you can stay at called Marlette Peak Campground. They have vault toilets, bear lockers, a picnic table, a fire ring and most importantly – potable water. We made dinner, played cards and enjoyed some whiskey after a long day of hiking.

On day two, you’ll wind alongside a mountain offering picturesque views of Lake Tahoe before you head into the trees until you reach Spooner Summit and the end of the hike. Do look out for the TRT signs. At one point we ended up on the Flume Trail and had to back pedal. We probably added about 1 mile to our overall hike with this little detour.

The Essentials

You might be a seasoned pro at backpacking and not need a list. For me, this was my first trip. I had a backpack – it was the one I had trekked all through New Zealand, Europe, and Peru – and that was it. It’s a little small compared to some traditional backpacking backpacks – 46L – but I am just over 5’, and when that thing is stuffed, it’s heavy for me. Outside of my backpack and hiking clothes, I didn’t own anything needed for backpacking. I borrowed a sleeping bag from a friend. I opted for her warmer bag because I get cold easily, and we were going to be camping high in the Sierra. I didn’t have a stove, so I brought food that didn’t require heat. I packed tortillas, peanut butter, nuts, jerky, protein bars, and a couple of Mountain House’s freeze-dried meal Granola with Blueberries and Milk – just add cold water. One of my friends brought his Jet Boil and ended up trading me one of my Granola meals for a Steak and Pepper meal. It was pretty tasty, but then again anything is pretty tasty after a 10-mile hike carrying a 15 lb. backpack. I also brought a tarp to sleep on that night (I didn’t own a tent, nor would a tent fit in my backpack). However, one of my friends brought a tent but didn’t care to sleep in it, so he let me borrow it. I also packed an ultra-lightweight sleeping pad (borrowed), and whatever toiletries or clothes I thought I needed. Lucky for me, my friends had packed the playing cards and the whiskey.

Do pack extra socks! The last thing you want is your feet to develop blisters on this long trek, so a fresh pair of socks is mandatory! Also mandatory is water. I brought 4 water bottles. I did not bring a filtration system because the campground had potable water (and lots of bees, but that’s beside the point).

I don’t have a packing list for backpacking to share with you (though I most likely will end up creating one), but if you have any thoughts or questions about what to bring, or what life is like on the TRT either leave me a comment below or tweet me at @keeliec5. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

Girls Trip – Bucks Lake, CA

You might have read my blog post on Why Costa Rica Should Be Your Next Girls Trip, well, this one is filled with just as much adventure but a little closer to home. Camping is always a great adventure, so why not mix it up and turn it into a Girls Trip?

Pick an Awesome Location

Although you can have an awesome time anywhere with your girls, picking a stellar location just adds to its amazingness. My choice for a camping Girls Trip is Bucks Lake, CA. Bucks Lake is located 25 miles west of Quincy, CA, and the perfect weekend getaway for anyone living in Reno. It has everything. About two hours from home, an awesome lake, hiking trails and some nearby restaurants. There are quite a few campgrounds along Bucks Lakes, most of them first come first serve. We were lucky enough to grab a lakefront site at Sundew Campground. We had to wait for the current people to vacate the site, so we decided to grab breakfast at Bucks Lake Lodge and then spend the early afternoon at Sandy Point Day Use. Sandy beaches, paddle boarding and swimming – sounds like the perfect day.

Play Some Fun Games

When the sun goes down, that’s when the games start. My camping games of choice are Drinking Jenga and Cards Against Humanity. In Drinking Jenga, each of the tiles has a task written on it. Its kind of like Kings Cup but Jenga style. Sangria, Jell-O Shots, beer and water are all necessary drinks for a girls camping trip. Both of these games will ensure a laugh-out-loud good time.

Don’t Forget the Propane Tank!

You might be thinking – what an odd heading? Well, for me, it was true. We had the car loaded and ready for our girls camping trip. As we were unloading the car and setting up camp, we came to the realization that I brought the camping stove, but no propane tank to fuel it! Luckily, I was with some bad ass girls and we were able to improvise. Dinner that night was kebabs that we could roast over the fire, and we did our best to make pancakes over the flame for breakfast in the morning. But that’s what makes a trip memorable right? We didn’t let a little lack of fuel ruin our trip!

Summer is right around the corner, so if you are looking for a place to plan a fun girls weekend getaway, go a little off the beaten path and explore Bucks Lake! Bring your favorite water toys, beach gear, camping games and don’t forget the propane! Oh, and on your way back to Reno stop by the Polka Dot in Quincy for a fantastic milkshake! Have you even been on an all-girls camping trip? Where is your favorite place to go? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

5 Perfect Road Trip Songs You Need to Add to Your Playlist

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? It’s an American pastime. You have your best pals in the car, you’re on your way to some place cool, and the best part – the good tunes on the radio. With modern technology, we are no longer subject to the radio (heaven forbid the service cuts out) or changing out CDs. My go-to software for playing music is Spotify. I pay for the premium subscription because I love being able to play a song on demand, and I still want my tunes when the cell service cuts out.

So, let’s get back to that beloved Spotify Road Trip playlist. What goes on it? For me, the tunes tend to be upbeat, fun, and something I can either sing along to or “dance” to (the most dancing you can do while driving). And most of them have a funny story behind them. So here are my five songs that I believe everyone should have on their road trip play list.

Highway to Hell – ACDC

Aw yes, this song is a bit ironic because you’re in the car, maybe on the highway, but hopefully, you are on your way to someplace rad and not hell. And I hope that your drive there is not hell. The song has a great beat, is easy to sing to and the perfect song to start your road trip.

Quick story – I once was on my way to Monterey with a friend. A nasty winter storm has rolled in the night before. It knocked the power out of most of the business in Northern California (including gas stations), trees had fallen over and roadways were flooding. Still, my friend and I were determined to get to Monterey. We made in there, filling up at every little gas station we saw had power and plowed through the flooded 101. We were just a few miles from my cousin’s house when I accidentally went up the curb and popped my tire. The first song of that road trip was Highway to Hell.

Wake Me Up – Avicii

Another great, fun, upbeat song. Wake Me Up was the theme song of our girls’ trip to Costa Rica. A young English woman introduced it to us and we are forever thankful she did! It has everything, a little EDM, some country and a little soul. I play this song on every road trip.

I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers

This song has been around since the late 80s, but it solidified itself on the road trip playlist when it was featured in an episode of How I Met Your Mother. This episode was the gang saying good-bye to Marshal’s beloved car through a series of flashbacks in the car. Turns out during the lifetime of the car, a Proclaimers single tape became logged in the stereo making it the only song available to play anytime you were in the car. This became the only road trip song for boys and their drive from New York to Minnesota during college.

Hello – Adele

I no way can sing like the songstress herself, but I love to pretend I can. This song has it all – emotion, heart, and the perfect lyrics for some carpool karaoke. And if you haven’t seen Adele’s carpool karaoke with James Corden add it to your YouTube playlist now!

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes

Another lyrical genius of a song, the Pina Colada Song has been on road trip tapes, CDs and Spotify playlists since 1979. Maybe save this one for just before you reach your destination because you’ll be craving a Pina Colada at the end of this song!

What are your favorite road trip songs? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time….

Cheers!

Keelie

The Flume Trail – Lake Tahoe

The Flume Trail, otherwise known as America’s Most Scenic Bike ride, is a 14-mile, one-way ride along Lake Tahoe’s scenic east shore. The name Flume comes from the water flumes used in the 1800s to transport timber and water to the Comstock Mine in Virginia City.  The trail is perfect to ride when there is no snow, but fall is spectacular when the aspens are ablaze. Here is everything you need to know to ride the Flume Trail.

The Logistics

Traditionally, the trail starts at Spooner Lake and you ride down to Tunnel Creek Café in Incline Village. There is a bike shop called Flume Trail Bikes located behind the café where you can rent a bike and/or hire a shuttle to the summit. This is really convenient because you don’t have to worry about shuttling cars, and they have plenty of parking. If you rent a bike, the cost is around $65, and it includes your shuttle ride. During the summer, it is advised you check online and make a reservation. The Flume is popular, and for good reason.

You can start your ride from Tunnel Creek Café and ride towards Spooner if you wish. I attempted this once, and I don’t think I will ever attempt it again. You climb 1,500’ in 3 miles of basically sand. I can barely walk that; I’m not quite sure why I thought I could ride it. I practically walked my bike those first 3 miles, and by the time I was on a trail I could actually ride, I had to head home. The ride down was fun at least. My second attempt at the Flume Trail was much more successful. I rented a bike from Flume Trail Bikes, took the shuttle to the summit, and biked to the café. It was glorious.

The Ride

The ride from Spooner to Marlette Lake (the peak of your ride), is a climb of 1,000’ in four miles. It’s tough, so take your time and enjoy the ride through the aspen trees. If you are on this trail in the fall, the section is lit with yellow leaves. You’ll want to take a few pictures. Next, you’ll reach Marlette Lake. If its summertime, this is the perfect opportunity to cool off! Enjoy the scenic view, have a snack and get your camera ready because jaw-dropping views are next.

Watch for the signs that lead you to the Flume Trail, and here is where you get your first glimpse of Lake Tahoe. This ride is so beautiful it’s a little dangerous. This part of the trail is 4.5 miles of single track. You have a mountain on one side and a relatively steep drop off on the other with tantalizing views of the lake. There are plenty of pull over spots that are perfect for pictures. The part of the trail is relatively flat with only a few rock features that might be tricky for a novice rider. This part of the trail has my favorite view of Sand Harbor.

The Flume Trail technically ends in the middle of the forest. You’ll see a turn off for a trail that will take you to the Tahoe Rim Trail or you can continue on Tunnel Creek Road back to the bike shop. This is the fun part of the ride! It’s all downhill and sandy, and be on the lookout for hikers! Local tip: on this section of the trail look for a well-worn path through the bush towards some rocks. Here you will find Monkey Rock!

Its all downhill from here and you have just completed the Flume Trail! Turn in your bike and head into the café for a well-deserved beer! Or venture further into Incline Village for a brew at Alibi Ale Works or Brewforia. Heck, you should drink a beer for finishing this blog. Here’s to you, mate!

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie