El Rancho Escondido | Driftwood, Texas

Back to our US road trip! After New Mexico, we finally got to Texas where we spent a few weeks in Dallas, Austin, and Houston. For a few days, we stayed at my aunt and uncle’s ranch in Driftwood, which is a little south of Austin. El Rancho Escondido is home to lots of cows, donkeys, and dogs. Austin the Australian Cattle Dog even has his own Facebook page.

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International UFO Museum | Roswell, NM

“In July 1947, something happened northwest of Roswell during a severe thunderstorm. Was it a flying saucer? Was it a weather balloon? What happened?” – Roswell, NM government website

Another stop on our little American road trip was the International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico. Whether you believe it was aliens or not, it’s definitely worth the cheap entry fee. There is so much to read, it could take hours to get through it all.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but damn, that whole situation in 1947 sure was strange!

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Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

We went to the States to visit family last month. We decided to take a little road trip from Los Angeles to Texas, to have some time to ourselves before spending every day seeing as many family/friends as possible.
Our first stop: the Grand Canyon! There was snow EVERYWHERE. It was magical. But, we didn’t get to hike like we wanted to.

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Hawaii | Pearl Harbor

December 7th, 1941. “A date which will live in infamy.”

I’ve been saving this post for today (it’s still December 7th in America!). When we went to Hawaii earlier this year, we got to see Pearl Harbor. Actually, for my family, it was a must-do. The number one thing we had to see. When we got there, I was surprised at just how much there was to experience. There are some exhibits that show the lead up to the attack, and President Roosevelt’s famous speech. Then you are ushered in to a theatre, where you watch an amazing short documentary about the attack. Hearing and seeing the USS Arizona explode in actual footage from that day is something I will NEVER forget. It absolutely shook me. The USS Arizona Memorial itself was closed, but they drove everyone by it in a boat.
Also, we didn’t tour the USS Missouri, but we got to see it. That is something I’ll never forget, too.

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1,102 sailors and Marines are buried with the USS Arizona. 2,403 people in total died in the attack.

Never forget.

Around Melbourne | Werribee Gorge

Now that the weather is getting nicer, we finally went for a hike. We went to Werribee Gorge (always looking for fun things to do on the west side!). The circuit walk is so good! There are definitely hard sections; parts of the trail are just piles of rocks, and there is a cable to hang on to in one part so you don’t fall in to the water. An old irrigation channel goes along part of the trail, and informational signs about plants and wildlife keep the hike interesting. It took us about 3.5 hours and we took our time.

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Kauai, Hawaii | ATV Tour

In a last minute adventurous decision, my family signed up for an ATV tour at Kipu Ranch in Kauai. It was really beautiful and really, really dirty. We left completely covered in a thin layer of dirt.
A lot of movies were filmed on this ranch, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, and we got to swing on a rope into the river where the opening scene to that movie was filmed. We saw a beach from a distance that supposedly has a lot of skeletons from when Hawaiian warriors tried to take Kauai from its last king. We also saw taro farms that have been there for a very long time.
Overall, it was an awesome tour, and the guides made it really fun. I highly recommend it!

 
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Hawaii | Fireworks and Palm Trees

My husband and I met up with my family in Hawaii recently. We had many adventures, and my next few blog posts will be photos from that trip!

Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort puts on a fireworks show. It lined up pretty perfectly with some palm trees on the beach. I’m not that great at firework photography, and I used the wrong lens, but here are a few of my shots 🙂

Mount Macedon

We took a day trip to Mount Macedon recently. It was beautiful and everything was so well-kept. There are a lot of small walks to drive to that offer incredible scenery! The Top of the Range tea room is very cute and gives you the chance to enjoy a glass of wine with a view. We will definitely be back again!

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Memorial Cross

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Major Mitchell Lookout

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View at Camels Hump

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Sanatorium Lake

New Zealand | Routeburn Track at Milford Sound

In continuation of my New Zealand posts (here and here):
We spent one day in Milford Sound (probably not enough). The first half of the day was kayaking. I didn’t take my camera for that. We saw penguins and a dolphin swam right next to us! It got really windy, though, and it was a lot more work than I thought it would be. After that, we went on a hike to the top of a mountain (the Key Summit Alpine Walk on the sign below). It was absolutely beautiful, and I wanted to just share a few pictures from the top! The last one is me; my husband took it.

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New Zealand | Road Trip in the South Island

As we continued our New Zealand adventure (see last post), we didn’t have much planned other than we would rent a car in Greymouth and drive south. We took the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth, which was very relaxing and beautiful. We walked around Greymouth a bit before starting on our road trip adventure. It was a few days of spontaneity and getting lost in the best way!
We walked to a view of the Franz Josef Glacier, where the biggest amazement was seeing how much it has receded so quickly. At least half of the 45-minute walk used to be covered in ice, less than 100 years ago. The only way on the glacier now is by helicopter (we didn’t splurge).
We stopped by many random beaches. One had a coffee truck right on the side of the road. One had a pod of dolphins jumping right by the shore. We stayed as long as we could stand the sand flies.
We stopped at scenic lookouts, short walking tracks, and even a distillery. Eventually we made our way to Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound (which will be featured in my next New Zealand post!).

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Franz Joseph Glacier

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Knights Point Lookout

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Dolphin at Ship Creek

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New Zealand | Around Christchurch

My husband and I just turned 30, and to celebrate we went to the south island of New Zealand for a week (as you do). For the first couple of days we stayed in Christchurch. I had no idea how much the earthquakes affected it; the whole city was under construction! Still, we loved Christchurch. There is so much to see and do. The new buildings are awesome and there are some really good restaurants. This post is dedicated to what we mainly did there: sample the local alcohol 😉
We started at a Mexican restaurant (we’re from Texas, we just need Mexican food sometimes). They had all kinds of tasty margaritas, but their salsa was just not spicy enough for us Texans. The next day, we went on a wine tasting lunch tour in the Waipara Valley, which was AMAZING. We had so much fun and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Drank some awesome white wines, and met some hilarious people.

Featured places:
Mexico Restaurant
Canterbury Leisure Tours
Waipara Hills Wines
Greystone Wines
Torlesse Wines

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Stay tuned for a couple more posts featuring our trip to New Zealand!