Monday, September 3, 2018

Packing Cubes Review

I've been hearing a lot about packing cubes lately, which are supposed to help you stay organized and save space in your suitcase. I always over pack and end up needing a checked bag and a carry on, so I wanted to see if I could fit everything in one bag with the cubes.

I ordered a set from Amazon that also have a zipper for compression to try to maximize space. I'm planning a three week trip to Europe next year, so I wanted to try to fit three weeks of clothing in a carry on.

First I tried packing without the cubes. I found that by rolling everything I could easily fit 24 different outfits, including 2 pairs of jeans, and 4 pairs of shoes.

Next, I tried using the cubes. I was able to organize everything by country so I cpuld just pull out one cube at a time depending on what I need and keep everything else organized. This seemed like a good plan, except that the cubes barely fit and then I couldn't fit the shoes. Since the cubes take up room themselves, I actually fit less.

I tried using a different suitcase in case mine was just the wrong shape for these cubes, but I still fit less. I barely fit two small pairs of shoes and the larger two were left out.

I also tried the cubes for a shorter weekend trip, and I think this is where they really become useful. I can easily fit one large, medium, and small in my carry on that are not over-packed, as well as boots and hiking shoes. While I didn't save space, it is much easier to stay organized.

My verdict: packing cubes are great for organization, but do not help you fit more compared to rolling clothes.

Does anyone else use packing cubes?? Is there a secret to fitting more with the cubes?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Zion National Park

We also made a trip from Vegas up to Zion and it was definitely worth the drive (about 2.5 hours each way). We went on a weekday in Early December so there we basically no crowds, which is pretty unusual for a park as popular as this one. The weeks before (around Thanksgiving) were so crowded that the road had reached capacity and they stopped letting people in. We only had a few hours and I'd love to go back for a longer stay but we were satisfied with what we were able to see.

We started by driving from the visitor's center to the Riverside trail. This is a pretty easy walk, we actually brought sandwiches from the store near the visitor's center and ate them on the walk. I think they have more options during peak times, but since it was such an empty day the only choices were premade breakfast sandwiches leftover from the morning, but they were discounted to $1 and were delicious! There is also a Zion brewery I'd love to check out sometime. 

We were hoping to see more wildlife on the walk but we did see a deer. It was probably the wrong season, because other friends I've talked to have seen a lot of wildlife including bighorn rams and condors.



From there we realized we were running out of time and went right onto the Angels Landing trail. It takes a few hours just to get to the Angels Landing trail, and it is almost entirely uphill but the scenery is incredible. The pictures don't do it justice. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are in fairly decent shape. We thought the walk down would be easier but on tired legs walking several miles straight downhill is not easy!


Here you can see part of the trail leading up to Angels Landing (this is just the beginning part)


We didn't end up hiking all the way to the top because we were running out of daylight, and were pretty tired from the hike up already. The trail continues up the narrow section seen in the photos above, with just some chains to hold onto.
Even without completing the last part of the trail we were able to see some spectacular views.



We also wanted to hike the Emerald Pools trail but it was getting late and we had already hiked pretty far so we decided to save it for next time and headed back to Vegas. We made it back in time for dinner at Canonita in the Venitan. Probably the best tacos and quesdillas I've ever had and they had $5 (good!) margaritas!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Death Valley National Park

While we were in Vegas we took some day trips to national and state parks. Death valley was an unexpected and desolate beauty. We started at the Furnace Creek visitors center (entering the park from Nevada) where they told us we could find lunch at the Oasis or on the reservation (the guide suggested the reservation was the way to go). We ended up trying the Indian Tacos and shave ice on the reservation, and they were amazing (pics at the end of the post)! Ive heard the hours are kind or sporatic so have a back up plan if you decide to do this.

After we drove out to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the US, and then worked our way back to Furnace Creek, hitting all the attractions along the way (Natural Bridge, Artists Drive and Artists Palette, Red Cathedral, Zabriskie Point were all very different and worth seeing). We skipped Devil's Golf Course because the drive to the Natural Bridge was pretty rough on the rental car (but totally worth it!) and it looked like the Golf Course was at the end of another rough dirt road. It wouldve been cool to see Scotty's Castle and the Racetrack, but we only had about 4 hours before it got dark (being December this was around 4:30 pm).

Friday, December 29, 2017

Las Vegas at Christmas

Earlier in December, we took a trip to Las Vegas. Last year, we went to Disney World in December, so my Christmas decoration expectations were high. A lot of the Vegas resorts have at least some Christmas decorations, though some have a lot more than others. I was there during the National Rodeo Finals, so most resorts were playing country music, but I assume they switched to Christmas music after the rodeo ended. It definitely didn't feel like Christmas in Nevada though, it was about 75 and sunny every day! I didn't even see a cloud the entire week!

This was my second time in Vegas, and we stayed at the Wynn this time (Venetian last time), and we loved it! The atmosphere and service are just incredible! While the Venetian was nice, we weren't blown away like at the Wynn.  I plan to only stay at the Wynn in the future. The Wynn also had some of the best decorations:


The Bellagio also went all out with decorations. The Bellagio gardens were beautiful! A lot of the stores also had trees, like Tiffanys:

Caesars also decorated their Lobby for Christmas (but I didn't see many decorations elsewhere):

Same with the Palazzo:

Finally, I had to get a shot of this tree at the southwest check-in at the airport.. I can't wait till Southwest flies to Hawaii! Unless flights don't start by then, we will be going back to Hawaii for Christmas 2018!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Last weekend we took a trip to Kentucky to tour the distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. We went to four around the Lexington area: Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve.

Buffalo Trace is not technically part of the official trail (though I'm not sure why), but was our favorite of the four. The tour is free and first-come first-served and includes a tasting, and the grounds are beautiful and it is designated as a national historic place.



Four roses was under construction so we did not do the full tour, but we did the tasting. As a bonus, they let you keep the glass! We didn't spend as much time here but I'd like to go back when the tour is available again. This one had more of a spanish-inspired theme in the buildings and decor. Also, I had no idea that V-J Day in Times Square photo has a Four Roses ad in the background!


We stopped at Wild Turkey, but did not do the tour or the tasting. The setting is much more industrial and did not have the visual appeal of the others, though they do have a very new looking visitors center, with a beautiful back patio and view, which might be nice to visit when the weather is nicer.

Finally, we went to Woordford Reserve the second day. We would have liked to go the first day, but you have to make a reservation ahead of time and all of the spots were taken when we looked the day before. This was our second favorite, though the tour is $15 a person, which was the most expensive of the four. 

I'm already looking forward to our next trip! I'd definitely visit Buffalo Trace and Woodford again, but I want to check out the Louisville area distilleries too. There is also a Craft Bourbon Trail with smaller distilleries.

"Keep your friends close, and your bourbon closer" -old Kentucky proverb