Wine Tasting – Weekend Adventure in Boise

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Cute little guy at the zoo.

Drove to Boise, Idaho Thursday night for our long weekend of fun. Friday we went to the Boise zoo and took a short walk around the surrounding park. I say short walk because it was 100 degrees outside. Literally.

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View from the bridge, on our walk. Boise State University was at the other end of the bridge. Nice little park area.

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Train ride back to the station.

That evening, we went on a Chuck wagon dinner train ride that went along Snake River. They were selling wine bottles for $12 each so, of course, we had to get a few 🙂

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Us on the ride back. It was nice riding on the open car, getting some fresh air.

And because we didn’t indulge enough on the train, we made a late night run to Black Bear Diner. Love this place!! We had pancakes, chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy. Our bellies were so full but it was worth it.

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At our second wine stop. Tried something unique called an Ice Wine, which was actually really tasty. I look super excited for the wine!

Saturday we did a wine tasting guided tour. This was a blast! It was just us and the couple who own the tour company, so we got the VIP treatment. We visited 5 wineries and tried over 30 different wines. Got a little tipsy but we weren’t driving so we didn’t care! LOL

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Us with our amazing tour guide, Kathy with Wine Seekers Tour. She was a sweet heart.

Afterwards, the Italian place we tried for dinner was mediocre at best so we headed to Black Bear Diner for dessert. By this time, the owner and some of the workers recognized us and came over to chat. LOL We had shakes, apple cobbler and got a choc cream pie to go then headed to the Shakespeare play “The Secret Garden”. The play was just okay, not my favorite. Good thing the chocolate pie tasted amazing after we got back to the hotel.

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Love this place!!!!

And, because we’re kids in a candy store…. we went back to the diner for breakfast on Sunday before heading home. We stuffed ourselves with more pancakes, Bear Claw French toast and hot chocolate. We were so full by the time we left there, I was in a coma driving home.

After splurging in Mexico and again in Boise, I’m surprised I don’t have diabetes now! But, damn, those drinks and food were goooooood! 🙂

What’s Your Vacation Destination this Year? Narrow Down Your Options and Find the Right Spot.

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A common phrase heard year-round is, “I need a vacation.” Many people utter this phrase monthly, even daily! The excitement of going somewhere builds and builds, yet most people have no idea where to go or what places to visit. So they end up postponing their vacation until they’re forced to decide on something last minute or end up going somewhere that doesn’t excite them. Stop that! J

I found the list “The 20 New Most Popular Cities for Tourists in 2013” on the Business Insider website. Most places on the list are pretty well known and others probably not. I’m only including the top 10.

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#10 Barcelona

#9 Hong Kong

#8 Kuala Lumpur

#7 Dubai

#6 Istanbul

#5 New York

#4 Singapore

#3 Paris

#2 London

#1 Bangkok

What a list, right?! Yes, there are a lot of places to visit and a lot of sites to see. No, you can’t visit and see them all in one trip. Unless you’re super rich, in which case, take me with you!! J Planning a vacation is overwhelming enough, especially when there are so many different options to choose from. Here are some simple tips to use when deciding where to go, no matter the type of trip, in no particular order.

  1. Check the Clock: How many vacation or leave days are you planning to use? Determine how much time you have to spend at your destination. Factor in weekends. Depending on what time of year or month, look into combining with a holiday (if you get holiday pay). If you have the time off and want a little adventure AND relaxation, you can always look into combining two destinations into the same trip. You could visit one destination for 3-4 days, for example, and the second destination for the remaining 3-4 days. You would have to factor in travel time between both and adjust your days at each location accordingly.
  2. Know Your Limits: Determine how much you can, comfortably, afford to spend. For example, if you can only afford to spend $3,000, total, obviously a trip to New Zealand will not work within your budget. This amount is the TOTAL amount, including the cost of airfare, hotels, excursions, meals, tips, cab rides, etc. ANYTHING you plan to spend money on during this trip needs to be included in this budget. Note that more touristy destinations tend to have higher costs during peak tourist months or around holidays, especially cruises.
  3. Travel Companions: Before you can start narrowing down places to visit, you need to consider who you’re traveling with. Are you taking children, pets, older individuals, anyone with medical/health problems, friends, and extended family? This will give you a starting point to make sure that everyone has a remarkable time on the trip and, no matter their limitations, still have plenty of activities to keep them busy and entertained. It’s not wise to take your oxygenated grandmother to Six Flags or Zions National Park, where she has to sit in the car or on a bench and watch everyone have fun. Not cool… Also, find out what everyone else would like to do. If you’re in a group, you can always do a central destination and combine your time doing activities as a group and separate. Or do the split option mentioned in Tip #1. Visit another destination, then meet up with the group at the other destination and spend a few days.
  4. Dig Deep and Find What You’re Looking For: What are you hoping to gain or get out of this vacation? Adventure, relaxation, city or country surroundings, busy or quiet atmosphere, outdoor, indoor? If you’re craving some quiet relaxation, New York City might not be the place to visit… If there’s an activity you love like snowboarding, horseback riding, star gazing, camping, etc., there are package retreats centered on such activities that you can look into.
  5. Old and Familiar vs New and Adventurous: Do you have an old stand-by destination that you love taking yearly trips to? Worried about venturing too far from familiar territory or out of the country? Or do you crave new places and things and want to visit a new place? Decide if you have an old favorite you would love to visit again or if you’re up for something new and unfamiliar.
  6. Recommendations: Whether you start with getting recommendations or used the above steps to narrow down what type of vacation you would like, ask around and get ideas from people you know, trust and who might have similar tastes. You never know, they might throw out an idea or destination that you’ve never heard of or had never even imagined could be fun. Gather as much information as you can and do your own research on the place. Check out reviews and see if it’s something you’d really enjoy.
  7. Browse: Check out random travel blogs or see what types of places interest you on Pinterest. Are tropical destination pictures popping out at you more than a wilderness or city environment? Well, that might be your answer! Google is an amazing tool for finding random things, so look around.
  8. List It: Compile a list of interesting places as you go along. Just because you can’t, or don’t want to, visit that place this time, there’s always next time! Save the list and use it when vacation time rolls around. Add to the list and cross off what you do along the way. It’s a great tool to reflect on all of the really cool trips you’ve taken, too!

Follow these tips to help make the beginning of your get-a-way as less stressful as possible. The point of a vacation to feel energized, refreshed and to get away from “real life”. We don’t want you a frazzled mess from the get-go! So start on this list, figure out your next destination get-a-way and GET-A-WAY already!

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THE Ultimate, One-of-a-Kind Vegas Experience (no alcohol involved either…) :)

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Penn & Teller had been names heard throughout my days growing up but I had never really paid much attention. To me, they were just another pair of magicians on the stage, like David Copperfield or Siegfried and Roy. I never took the time to watch their acts, watch their show BullShit (which is pretty damn good, by the way) or listen to any podcasts. My husband, Shawn, changed all of that. When we started dating, we watched some BullShit episodes together and laughed our butts off or had conversations of our own on the topics afterwards. Last year, he said Penn & Teller were coming to Wendover, NV and he really wanted to go. So I thought, “Sure, why not? Wendover is always a fun time.”

I had no idea what to expect from the Penn & Teller show and was beyond pleasantly surprised. The show started off amazing and got even better when I was picked to help with a trick on stage! Nothing like that has ever happened before! After the show, we met Teller and had our picture taken. It was a super fun night, like no other.

Not long after, Shawn was telling me about Penn making a movie where he plays the crazy stalker guy and he was publicly funding the project, meaning average people could buy “perks/packages” and the money would go towards funding the film.

We looked at so many packages, finding some that really jumped out at us, laughing and talking about how fun it would be to contribute. I’m not sure either of us thought we would seriously do it. After a few days, we talked some more and decided to just go for it. You only live once, right? So we bought two packages: an afternoon with Penn and another movie premier package (details on that down the road…).

Arrangements were made with Penn’s wife, Emily, as she handles all of this stuff. Our day with Penn would be on a Saturday, so we drove down to Vegas on Friday.

Penn has a little different schedule than the “normal” world, so our afternoon started at 2:30pm where we met him and his wife, Emily, at the Hash House A Go Go in the Rio. Great conversation and food followed. We got to learn more about the movie and discussed various topics. Even got to see a half-naked picture of Carrot Top! It was great being able to talk with both of them; they’re pretty down to earth people. Following lunch, we all went to the Rio Salon & Spa where we got the royal treatment. Penn got “ready” for the Penn & Teller show that night. Shawn got his hair trimmed and styled AND got to sit in the most amazing massage chair ever. Me? I got my hair cut, colored and styled AND my make-up professionally done. It literally was the royal treatment; I felt like a princess and looked smoking HOT! 😉

Once we were all done up, we headed up to our room to change. Included in our package were two VIP tickets to the Penn & Teller show that night, plus a backstage tour and hanging out with the stars after the show. AMAZING!!!! We got the show early to hear Penn and Jonesy play some jazz music, followed by an entertaining show. After, we met Jonesy in the lobby and he took us back where we got to hang out with Penn and Teller, hear some cool business dealings and shoot the breeze. We got our picture taken with them both, which was super awesome J, then we called it a night.

I can honestly say that, without Shawn introducing me to their act and their shows, this experience wouldn’t have been AS amazing and fun. Of course, getting to do all of this with my favorite person in the world (Shawn, duh…) was my favorite part, as with any adventure and trip. This truly was a one of a kind trip that we never imagined being able to experience. Yes, you can put a monetary price tag on the package and trip as a whole. You can’t put a price tag, though, on being able to hang out with a celebrity and having as much fun creating memories with the one person you truly don’t want to experience anything without.

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