travel blogging

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Visiting Asheville, North Carolina has been on my list for years, and despite the fact that I have an aunt and cousin living there, I didn’t make the journey until this past August when said cousin was getting married.

When planning any travel lately, I tend to look at house rentals even before checking out local hotels. I love hotels, but for any extended period of time, and especially with a group, I have found that renting a house is comfortable, fun, and usually a great savings. Once again I consulted Flipkey for houses that would fit seven of us so my little family could all stay together.

We’ve used Flipkey a few times before, starting with this amazing Sonoma wine country cottage (a portion of which was generously covered y Flipkey) and this last minute Ipswich rental last week.

Once again, a house rental turned out to be the perfect solution. Our two story, three bedroom house was immaculate and beautiful with some stunning mountain views. It was super clean, well-stocked with all of the basics we needed, and a minute from the grocery store. We were slightly outside of downtown Asheville and closer to the wedding venue, a decision we made purposely as we knew we would be visiting the venue the day before to help out as well as the day after.

asheville  flipkey rental

The house had two living rooms and plenty of space for the kids to run around. We generally had breakfast there in the mornings and then spread out at night watching the Olympics and enjoying being together but also the space we had if we needed some time apart!

Much of the rest of the time was spent at my aunt’s house near Biltmore Village.

cottage She lives in the most charming English garden style cottage, and it was love at first sight. She has great style and has collected so many beautiful things over the years, making for a lovely space that I didn’t want to leave. The grounds were equally as beautiful and made for lots of outdoor time playing with neighborhood dogs and looking for butterflies. My aunt’s neighbor grew the flowers for the wedding, and my aunt arranged them. The day before the wedding we loaded them in the car and drove them up to the wedding venue, Sherrill’s Inn at Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

wedding flowers Hickory Nut Gap Farm The wedding venue was one of the prettiest I have been to; it included a historic home, cold spring house, plenty of green space, and horses, who were wandering around just behind the reception for most of the evening. Magical.

horses in asheville

sherill's inn

The beauty of the Asheville area didn’t end there. The day after the wedding we made the drive up to Lake Lure, through winding mountain roads taking in stunning vistas and a hot, blue sky summer day. Lake Lure was stunning and felt so relaxed, definitely a place I would like to visit again to stay for a few days. We also JUST missed the Dirty Dancing Festival by a few days; maybe a return visit for that next year?

Lake Lure  Lake Lure

We rounded out our visit to Asheville with a family dinner at Luella’s for BBQ, plates piled high with yummy BBQ meats and sides, my favorite of any BBQ meal. All paired with local Asheville beer, of course!

Luella's BBQ Luella's BBQ

Speaking of Asheville beer, you can read all about our beer tasting adventures here.

Asheville was the perfect combination of gorgeous nature, great food, music, family, and perfect weather. It’s an easy two hour flight from Boston to Charlotte and a two hour drive after that, close enough for a three day weekend, though you’ll want to stay longer!

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Tags: Asheville, North Carolina, Travel, travel blog, travel blogging

I camped in the Serengeti. If that was the only thing I could say about travel in 2015, that would be enough. This was, I believe, my most-traveled year of my life. From November 2014 until the end of December I made three trips to Ireland, about seven trips to NJ, two Sonoma trips, a Chicago trip, a Myrtle Beach and Charleston trip, and many New England weekend trips, including Mystic (twice), Newport, Portland, and Cape Cod. Phew. Can I do it all again?

Throughout the year, especially August – November where I flew about every two weeks, I swore I wanted a quiet, homey 2016, but here I am, once again wanderlusting. So much of the world to see and such a short life. I am grateful for each corner of it I have been blessed to see. Here are just a few highlights from my 2015 travels.  Since there are so many photos to share, I am going to break this up into two posts. . .enjoy!

Serengeti camping

 

Serengeti sunset

Serengeti sunrises and sunsets were pretty much life-changing.

 

Maramboi Tented Camp

Escaping a Boston winter to lounge poolside at a game camp wasn’t too bad either.

 African elephant

I will never forget the first elephants we saw in Tarangire National Park. Mind, blown. I’m getting a little teary-eyed just writing about it.  I fell in love with the Tanzanian landscape, the food, and the warm welcome of the people. And the kids. I absolutely loved and learned from these little ones.

Between November 2014 and November 2015, I got to visit Ireland three times, which made it feel even more like home. Over the course of the Ireland trips, we got to eat my favorite things and to spend lots of time outdoors.

Connemara

Ashford Castle

Seeing Ashford Castle from a boat on Lough Corrib was sensational. Ashford Castle and Cong are must-visits on any trip to the West of Ireland!

zipline adventure

Ziplining in Ireland was another step outside my comfort zone. Between camping and zipping, I feel like I was pretty brave in 2015! Ireland visits gave us a lot of family time, something I would like to be better about in 2015. I need to slow down and be present; travel and family make that happen.

Galway was Galway, and with the length and frequency of our trips, I got to spend a lot of time just being there, and I loved it.

sunset over the Claddagh, Galway Ireland

In addition to logging international miles, I also zigzagged across the country twice this year to visit Sonoma for work! In June I traveled to Sonoma County to meet a client and to plan for Sonoma Wine Country Weekend PR and Social Media. Combining work and one of my favorite places was, as you can imagine, pretty amazing.

Willi's Wine Bar

There was obviously a lot of food and wine but also learning and connecting.

wine tasting

I loved the wine at Ram’s Gate and Fog Crest and Cain and so many others. Getting to take not just one, but two trips to the high country at MacMurray Estate Vineyards, a journey reserved mostly for press and other VIPs, was one of the highlights of both trips.

MacMurray Estate Vineyards

MacMurray Estate Vineyards Soaking up the sun and discovering new Sonoma food and wine favorites with my husband after the work was done was the icing on the cake.

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Tags: Africa, Ireland, Serengeti, Sonoma, Travel, travel blog, travel blog posts, travel blogger, travel blogging, vacation

Sun Sets on Summer

I have a very, very hard time saying goodbye to my favorite season. When everyone starts talking about boots and sweaters and pumpkin everything in August, I am almost outraged. I don’t want to rush those hot days, lush gardens, and long sunsets, not one bit. Summer for me is rarely a slow time at work; for me it’s often fall that slows down a bit, so I can’t even say I love summer for the pace. I just love everything else about it. As I mentioned in a recent post, this summer has been different. We spent far more time away than we have in the past, and far less time on boats, which was difficult, as boating is a favorite hobby, a place to relax, and a social outlet. Still, I think we did a good job of enjoying the season.

Even before summer officially started, we were eager to take advantage of the beauty of New England when it’s not covered in snow. We had the perfect coastal New England day in May, which set the tone for seeing as many sunsets and eating as many lobster rolls as possible.

Crane Beach Sunset

{Crane Beach sunset}

sunset over the Claddagh, Galway Ireland Despite a rainy forecast, Ireland put on quite the show for us when we visited, allowing us plenty of outdoor time and gorgeous sunsets like the above, over the Claddagh.

sun setting in Hull

We got to spend a lot of time with friends and saw sunsets in Hull during impromptu beach trips where swimming in dresses was the right thing to do on a perfect summer evening.

And there were sunsets over Boston, viewed from boats filled with our favorite people, good bubbly, and great food.

sunset over Boston

Rodney Strong Vineyards This summer also brought for me two separate trips to Sonoma County, where you can guarantee I watched the sun set over vineyards every chance I got.

In addition to sunsets, we took in plenty of other beautiful sights. Following an April visit to Mystic, Connecticut, we decided to visit again, this time meeting my family. Mystic is an ideal spot for family travel, with the aquarium, boat rides, and some fun shops.

 

Saltwater Farm Vineyard We took a quick trip to Saltwater Farm Vineyard to pick up more of their delicious wine and to check on the progress of the vines.

boating in Mystic

And we had a perfect day on the Argia, a beautiful sailing vessel out of Mystic, which the whole family loved. Dark skies at dock gave way to a beautiful Long Island Sound.

boating on Long Island Sound For the adults, it’s complete relaxation; you can even bring your favorite wine or beer along for the trip. Snacks and lemonade are provided, and guests can get in on the sailing, as my niece and nephew did in the photo below.

Argia, Mystic, CT We enjoyed shopping throughout Mystic, especially the kids’ section of Bank Square Books. I loved that these little ones still love books, despite all of the technology in their lives. Shopping for books was a nice, relaxing, and cool break from the hot summer day.

Mystic, CT family travel

 

In addition to travel, obsessing over sunsets, and family, my summer was, as always, focused on all things growing. I truly feel something magical when out in nature, and while my garden wasn’t perfect, it brought me peace and joy daily. Every weekend chance I got, I went to fields of flowers, beaches, or farms, feeling the energy of the earth coming through my feet, soaking up those moments where everything felt so vibrant.

squash blossom

summer in Westport, MA

 

I’m sad to see summer go but grateful that here in New England, local produce and beautiful weather stick around for a couple more months. New work projects, travel to Chicago and Myrtle Beach, and travel planning for a warm winter getaway will also help us get through the summer withdrawal.

Are you excited about the change of seasons or, like me, do you really mourn the loss of summer?

 

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Tags: beach, coastal living, family, favorite things, mystic, outdoors, Sonoma, summer, Travel, travel blogging, wine

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