Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This post is long overdue but better late than never! Tyler and I rented an Airbnb in southwestern Colorado about 2 weeks before we got married as a little pre-wedding getaway! Our Airbnb was an awesome, remote cabin in Cimarron, Colorado on multiple acres in the mountains. We knew the chaos and excitement of all the wedding festivities were going to start up soon so we figured it would be good for us to have a mini vacay. We both went on our separate bachelor/bachelorette trips but we wanted to go somewhere as a family (Waldo included, of course) before we officially tied the knot! I highly suggest doing this with your spouse just to ground yourselves and relax before your big day. We made campfires and s’mores every night and just enjoyed being in nature together. Waldo had a blast running around in the woods. It’s such a beautiful and underrated area of Colorado!

One day we explored the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This was my 5th National Park! Forewarning, if you are afraid of heights or get vertigo easily, this is not the national park for you haha. All the lookout points along the main park road were literally right on edge of the cliffs looking straight down and some of them even hanging out and over into the canyon. The canyon is deep, steep, and vast carved out by the Gunnison River. It was truly breathtaking! Our favorite spots were Chasm View and Painted Wall. This was by far the biggest, most beautiful canyon I’ve ever seen!

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We Moved to Virginia!

In late July, we started a new adventure and moved to Richmond, Virginia! We will miss Colorado and always reminisce on all the wonderful memories we have from our time living in Boulder. I lived there for about 6 years and Tyler for about 5. We both had the BEST college experience at CU Boulder. We made such amazing friends, had SO much fun, took full advantage of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and went out with a bang by getting married at Chautauqua. But it was time for a new adventure for this little family!

Boulder is very much a college town, which makes it such a blast, but we eventually grew out of that party scene, especially as a young married couple. We also both really missed the South. Richmond is Tyler’s hometown and where most of his family lives. This was definitely an attractive factor because family is important to us. Tyler’s family is so awesome and I’m blessed to call them my family now! We thought long and hard about our decision to move and made the choice very intentionally, considering all factors.

Richmond is a really cool/hip, charming, sleepy Southern city with so much to do! You get the best of both worlds because it’s an hour to the Blue Ridge Mountains and 2 hours to the beach. We are living in a great house in a precious neighborhood and we are loving it! There are cute little neighborhood grocery stores, restaurants, and old pharmacies. The weather is also another underrated factor we considered, Virginia truly has 4 beautiful seasons. It’s the dead heat of summer right now and it’s honestly pleasant (plus I love the humidity). It’s truly the perfect place for us to start our lives together and we look forward to all our adventures on the East Coast!

Here are some beautiful pictures that Tyler took at Pippin Hill Vineyard and Farm when the limelight hydrangeas were in full bloom. Virginia is so dreamy y’all. I’m falling more and more in love with Richmond and the Blue Ridge Mountains!

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Kaua’i Paradise

The last of our pictures from our honeymoon in Kauai!! I fell in love with this island. We already want to go back to do more and see more of its wonder! These are miscellaneous pictures that we took throughout the trip. Here is a little mini travel guide of things we recommend doing in paradise!

Kauai To Do: 

  • HIKE the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast to Hanakapiai Beach (4 miles roundtrip)
  • SNORKEL at Tunnels Beach, Ke’e Beach, & on the Na Pali Coast
  • BOAT with Na Pali Experience along the Na Pali Coast into the sea caves
  • SWIM at Hanalei Bay Beach (and jump off the pier!) & Queen’s Bath
  • EAT as much seafood, fresh fruit, & sushi as possible but a few of our favorites were Trucking Delicious, Sushi Girl, The Dolphin, St. Regis Makana Terrace, Wishing Well Shaved Ice, Kauai Bread Co., Shaved Ice Paradise, & Foodland (they have tons of yummy local stuff and their poke is delicious)
  • DRINK fresh coconuts from fruit stands, Kauai Juice Company, Kauai Coffee Company, Aloha Maid canned drinks, Aloha Juice Bar, & Koloa Rum
  • LUAU at Smith Family Garden in the Wailua River State Park
  • MEET locals at Ha’ena Beach Park, Hanalei Beach Pavilion, Hanalei Pier, & Hanalei Farmer’s Market
  • PACK as light as possible, only the essentials (no closed toed shoes!)
  • RENT a jeep, snorkel gear, & surf or SUP boards
The prettiest church ever in Hanalei. They have a ceremony in Hawaiian every Sunday.
In a red ginger forest fairyland. Pure bliss!

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Snorkeling at Tunnels Beach, KAUA’I

Tunnels Beach is on the north shore of Kaua’i and it quickly became one of favorite and most frequented beaches! The snorkeling is amazing and it’s an absolute must if you are visiting the island. There are literally tunnels and archways in the reef that you can snorkel through! Hence the namesake. We got some GoPro footage of one that we dove through but there were many others. We did another one that was more of a full tunnel and was deeper down in the reef. Tyler went into a few others that I was too scared to go through haha. In the parts where there is no reef, the water is literally turquoise!

There is a sweet man who sells fresh coconuts in the parking lot at Tunnels Beach/Ha’ena State Park! They’re super refreshing and hydrating after snorkeling. We made friends with some of the locals who live on the beach full time. All the locals are SO incredibly nice and welcoming! We definitely felt the warmth of the aloha spirit! The Louisiana girl in me really appreciated the hospitality and all the shaved ice 🙂

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Napali Coast Adventures

We stayed in Hanalei, Kauai for our honeymoon and it was such a dream!! The island of Kauai is magical and absolutely breathtaking everywhere you look. We explored pretty much the entire island however, we spent most of our time on the north shore. A few of our favorite things were the flowers, waterfalls, rainbows, food, marine life, mountains, beaches, seafood, and tropical fruit. Kauai is definitely called the garden island for a reason! It was seriously the best week of our lives!! We have so many pictures from our trip so our trip to Kauai will be broken down into a few blog posts.

The highlight of our trip was definitely the Napali Coast! We boated, hiked, and snorkeled the Napali Coast. We set out on an early morning boat trip on our second day with Napali Experience which was amazing! We chose this trip mostly because the type of boats they use are best for going in and out of the sea caves along the coast. The snorkel spot we went to was also pretty killer! We saw many spinner dolphins, sea turtles (Honus), flying fish, and a MONK SEAL! It was super special to admire and float around with a monk seal. They’re endangered and super rare to see. The majestic old man was just hanging out near the reef where we were snorkeling and we were just checking each other out. He actually reminded us a lot of Waldo hahaha!! Unfortunately, I didn’t get footage of this because I put the GoPro back on the boat.

Another day we hiked the Kalalau Trail  to Hanakapiai Beach which is a 4 mile roundtrip hike. It was cool to explore the Napali Coast on foot and to hike through the jungle. The views were spectacular the entire trail! We relaxed and wandered in the caves at Hanakapiai Beach. It’s crazy to think that all the sea caves completely fill up with water in the winter months. Tyler was brave enough to crawled through a cave into another which was pretty cool. Hawaii changes the game with hiking to beaches. It’s the best! One day we will definitely backpack the entire Kalalau Trail (22 miles roundtrip)! After our hike we snorkeled at Ke’e Beach (which is at the trailhead) to cool off 🙂

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Bachelorette Beach Weekend

I had so much fun at the beach for my bachlorette trip! First stop was Willa Jean in New Orleans for lunch, then we headed to Florida! While we were in the restaurant, our car got booted which was a minor set back haha. My girls threw me a little honeymoon shower the first night which was so sweet!

We did lots of lounging on the beach and Laura even got stung by a jellyfish…on the face! Haha we made a homemade remedy for her and it went away quickly. On our last day we took a trimaran sail boat out with Captin Kirk in Pensacola Bay! The water was pretty choppy which made for a wild and fun ride. We decided that we are going to do an annual girls trip! 🙂

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Clark Creek Natural Area

A little late posting these pictures but better late than never! Tyler and I had so much fun hiking to the waterfalls at Clark Creek Natural Area with my dad when we were down in Louisiana. This is technically in Mississippi but it’s super close to Louisiana. The weather was absolutely beautiful and spring was in full swing. Everything was bright green. The water was so clear and you could literally walk in the creek bed. Waldo had a blast to say the least! We were all impressed by the waterfalls.

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Thanksgiving & Engagement Festivities

For Thanksgiving, Tyler and I went down to southern Louisiana to see my family! It’s always so good to be home. Tyler’s mom and step dad even came down from Virginia to join us and to meet all my family! We had our first Thanksgiving all together– brunch at my mom’s & dinner at my dad’s new house in the country which was very special. The land has been in our family for over 100 years so it is my favorite place! Tyler even killed his first deer there!! It was a 208 lbs 9 point buck, pretty dang good for a first deer. I’m so proud of him! We all went out on a search party at night to find the deer and it was so much fun. Props to my brother for finding it in the thicket of brush. My dad is getting all the meat processed into sausage and jerky and we are going to get the antlers mounted on some driftwood for our home! I think Tyler has the hunting bug now haha.

My sweet grandmother and aunts hosted a bridal shower for me the day after Thanksgiving and it was absolutely lovely. The food was delicious and it was so fun to get together just girls and open some fun gifts. Then the next evening, a bunch of my bridesmaids parents and other family friends threw a super fun engagement/announcement party for us! It was like a big reunion of all my friends from high school/home. It was definitely a busy and exhausting week but lots of unforgettable memories!

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