San Diego, Zoos, and Dolphins

Being out in Arizona has been an absolute blast.  We have been able to explore so many different places!  Over Columbus Day weekend we had the opportunity to visit Will’s brother and his family in San Diego for a few days.

San Diego 2018

Friday

We left pretty early in the morning, making sure to get in a good breakfast, and of course running into more of our dinosaur friends on the road.  If there’s one thing I’m going to miss about the desert, it’s how many dinosaurs there are hanging around.

Lunch was, obviously, a very satisfying stop at In-N-Out.  I’m already internally crying about the east coast not having my animal style burger fix.

We got to the Shugart house in late afternoon and had a fantastic evening catching up with John, Kristina, and our nieces.  The boys burned things, we ate Mexican food, and our hearts were happy.

San Diego 2018

Saturday

We indulged in the traditional Shugart breakfast the following morning.  I love my cheesy eggs, fancy bacon, and delicious waffles, but this girl canNOT get enough potatoes.   They’re so good!  Will is also hardcore into potatoes for breakfast so our marriage was basically a match made in heaven.

San Diego 2018

SeaWorld

Some of you may not know this, but I actually used to live in San Diego.  For almost five years I called southern California home and I lived right across the bay from SeaWorld San Diego for some time.  I could almost see their evening fireworks display every night during the summer from my back patio.  

Despite being so close, I never visited while I lived there, so taking the opportunity while we were in town was top of the list.  Having now visited, I highly recommend going to SeaWorld if you have the opportunity.  It is the best aquarium you have ever been to on steroids.

The Sea Lions were great.  You could buy fish to feed them and the birds would always swoop in to try and steal them.

San Diego 2018

I have always seen pictures and videos of these cool underwater walkways at aquariums but have never been in one before!  It was so cool!  Even though I am usually terrified of sharks, it was just so awesome that I wasn’t afraid at all.  

We saw several types of sharks just sitting still on the bottom.  I didn’t know they could do that!  Apparently certain species of sharks can keep water moving through their gills by a pumping motion of their pharynx, so they don’t have to keep moving.

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After we saw the sharks, we went to the Dolphin Encounter show.

San Diego 2018

I’m not super into splash zones or walking around in sopping wet clothes, so Will was a champ and let me hide behind him when the dolphins soaked us.  Besides that it was an excellent show.  It was fun to see the relationship between the dolphins and trainers.  There was even a big whale that took part in the show, and its personality was so cute.  It reminded me of a giant golden retriever.

San Diego 2018

Next up we rode some rides.  The one on the left is the first rollercoaster Will and I have been on together!  I had plenty of anxiety leading up to it while we were waiting in line because we didn’t put our phones in the available lockers.  Anyone else with anxiety get super stressed about the small things sometimes?  Will saved the day with his pockets, and despite lots of screaming on my part, it was a seriously excellent rollercoaster.  

I bowed out on the Atlantis ride, though, because I was a little cold and didn’t feel like getting wet again.  

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I hung out with my niece as everyone else took turns riding.  We made sure to stand outside the splash zone while we watched everyone come down, and then went to look at the fishies and sting rays for a while.

San Diego 2018

My five year old niece took the photo on the right.  She’ll be a photographer in no time.

San Diego 2018

As the afternoon turned into evening, and the unnaturally chilly San Diego day seeped into our bones, we stopped by a Starbucks for coffees and hot chocolates to warm up while we waiting in line for our next adventure.

Confession time: Will’s fave from Starbucks is the caramel frappe.  He claims this is the best one he had ever had.  Way to go, SeaWorld Starbucks.

San Diego 2018

Their Orca show has, apparently, changed a lot.  It is now primarily an educational show where they teach you all about the different kinds of Killer Whales and absolutely no one gets in the water with them.

San Diego 2018

After the show, we went down below to watch the Orcas swim for a little while.  

Will and I have taken to getting magnets for every state we have been through, or for significant places we have visited.  We also like getting Christmas ornaments, but in SeaWorld we opted for the Orca fridge magnet.  They are seriously majestic animals.

San Diego 2018

I can’t pick a favorite thing we did in SeaWorld because it was all really good.  I definitely recommend a visit the next time you’re in San Diego.

When we left the park, we grabbed some dinner and then went back to John and Kristina’s.

San Diego 2018

Sunday

On Sunday morning we went to church, where they had coffee and donuts available beforehand.  That’s my kind of church!  

Afterwards, we went out for brunch to Broken Yolk with the Shugarts and Kristina’s family.  You can never have too much breakfast food.

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San Diego Zoo

Okay, if you think me never going to SeaWorld while I lived in San Diego is bad, listen to this.  Will had never been to a zoo before.  In his life.  Ever.  

When we heard that we knew that we absolutely needed to visit one of the best zoos in the world—the San Diego Zoo.

And don’t worry—I definitely changed into good walking shoes before we went in the park.

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It was so COOL to get to share that moment with Will.  His first time seeing rhinos, giraffes, elephants, lions, gorillas, etc.  He even broke out his phone to take his own pictures and video, which does not happen very often, folks.

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The gorilla was so cute!  A woman played a gorilla video on her phone and it just sat there and watched the whole thing.  

We power walked through Africa, the arctic, stopped for some ice cream, and ended at the orangutans, which were my favorites of the day.  Will’s favorite was the gorilla.  

San Diego 2018

After a few hours in the zoo, Will and I took off for a little while so that I could show him all of my old stomping grounds.  We drove up to north county and I showed him a few places I lived, worked, and shopped for groceries, before we headed back south to Pacific Beach.  We drove by my old townhouse and then parked and ran to the beach just in time to watch the last rays of light from the sunset.  It was such a special moment to be able to share with him.  

San Diego 2018

Still feeling all grateful and mushy, we stopped at a restaurant called Fat Fish by the pier to get dinner.  It was super delicious and special.  

San Diego 2018

Monday

We had a great and relaxing morning with the family before we got back on the road.  We stopped a few hours into our drive to spend a some time with the sand dunes.  Will had never seen sand dunes before!  Yet another cool moment to share with him!  They were pretty big, and super white.  It doesn’t take greenery or oceans for something to be beautiful.  

San Diego 2018

We had a fantastic trip and whirlwind weekend with the family.  There is so much to do in San Diego, it actually became overwhelming for me at one point because I realized that there is so much I want to share with Will.  I’m so grateful that we had this time with family and with San Diego before we head back to the east coast.  It did a lot of good for my soul.

Have you ever been to San Diego?  What was your favorite part?  The food is pretty high on my list!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by hitting that subscribe button if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

a saturday spent banding hummingbirds

Did you know that southern Arizona boasts the most diverse types of hummingbirds in the United States?  A couple weeks ago, Will and I went with our friends to the San Pedro House, just outside of Sierra Vista, to visit this historic ranch house where they tag hummingbirds.  In fact, we went on one of the last weeks that they do it because of migration season.  A lot of hummingbirds pass through southern Arizona on their way to Mexico.

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

The area is significant for world bird conservation, and according to Bureau of Land Management, it has been “officially designated a globally important bird area.”  

While I’m not super into bird watching, and the San Pedro House boasts a good amount of walking trails and scenery, this time we went specifically to see the hummingbirds.  It was actually pretty incredible and interesting.

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

The scientists and volunteers said that the best times to study the hummingbirds are around sunrise and sunset, because that’s when they are out and looking for food.  It was super interesting to watch!  

They used a simple drop cage to essentially catch the birds and then, ingeniously, got the public in on the studying by allowing them to gently and carefully carry the birds over to the people banding them.

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

You could tell the poor things were scared, but everyone was very gentle while handling them and they made sure to feed them before setting them free.  Carrying the little hummingbird was wild!  Its wings were beating so fast that I could feel the air movement.  

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

There was a seating area under the tent where they were tagging the hummingbirds so that you could listen and learn.  One of the volunteers was super great—she spent a lot of time with us to answer our questions and tell us all about what they eat, when they eat, what their mating is like, and how their lives change as they mature.  

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Will got to carry over the last bird of the day!

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

She was pretty young.  The females usually lose their color and turn brown once they get older.  You can see in the photo how green she is.  This one had been caught three times that day already.  

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After we learned all about her feathers and how to tell she’s female, we set her free!  Not before a quick photo-op, though.

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I wish we had time to do more exploring around San Pedro house!  It’s right on a riverbed and is home to about 300 species of birds, not to mention the other animal life that are drawn to the water in this desert.

Do you guys like learning about animals?  I think of all birds, hummingbirds are probably one of my favorites.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by subscribing if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

summer in the desert | Arizona Part III

As month three in Arizona pulled to a close, Will and I quickly realized that there were only a few weeks left in the desert before we will be moving back to North Carolina.  What a whirlwind we have had out here!  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

In month three we settled into a little bit of a routine.  We went on a few adventures here and there, but also found ourselves staying at home a little more often.  I spent my time watching the last month of Big Brother season twenty (yes, it’s still on the air, and this was a FANTASTIC season), working my butt off in the workout program 80 Day Obsession, and working remotely for a company back in North Carolina.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I discovered the folly of bringing hot coffee on errands when it’s still summer in the desert.  AKA, don’t.  I didn’t drink any of it and was lucky to make it home alive after leaving the house in the afternoon.  

We also found this fantastic Jurassic Park Jeep and decided that whoever owns it needs to be our BFF ASAP.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

There is a fantastic mountain right behind our hotel.  One Saturday we hadn’t planned to do anything, so after lunch we took our books up to the top and sat together to read and enjoy the view.  I’ll be honest, the attacking bees, wasps nests, and plethora of ants were a little off putting but otherwise we had a fantastic afternoon.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

Shopping

I have mentioned before that Will and I love shopping on holidays.  We always need things, and the things we need are often expensive.  So we try to wait for holiday sales to really get our money’s worth.  We drove up to Tucson on Labor Day this year to hit the outlets.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I picked up a couple pairs of jeans from Old Navy for fifty percent off.  We also stopped by Nike, which had great sales compared to last year.  Will got a lot of new workout gear he’s been needing and I picked up a couple things as well.  I also stopped in J. Crew for some shorts and, in a surprise twist, walked out of Kate Spade with my first piece that was seventy-five percent off!

Also, shameless plug—my sister is a Mary Kay consultant if you’re in the market for one!  I’m sure she would love to help you!

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

Food

Our food experiences in Arizona have absolutely never disappointed.  From some classic Taco Bell hot sauces (secretly probably Will’s favorite fast food restaurant) to some breakfast bowls in which you can see all the ingredients from a local cafe, we are basically eating our way through our time in the desert.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I was SUPER excited to finally find the holiday section tucked away in my grocery store and brought home our supply of pumpkin spice.  It was a blessed day!  We also went on a date night to our favorite Mexican food joint—La Casitas.  It is deliciously dangerous and we almost missed our movie (A Simple Favor) because we were enjoying ourselves so much.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

The Grand Canyon

Among our many adventures recently, the Grand Canyon was a huge one.  I’ve already blogged about it, so if you would like to you can read about the sunrise here, or our hike along the rim trail here.  

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We woke up at 3am, got ready, ate breakfast, and then drove about an hour to get to the park before sunrise.  It was incredible.  We stood there for an hour, easily, to witness the canyon see the first light of day.  I never regret early mornings while on vacation if the purpose is to experience a sunrise like this.  It’s probably one of my favorite things to do, and something I very rarely do in my everyday life.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

We spent the rest of our day at the canyon hiking the rim trail—12.2 miles.  It was an amazing seven hours in the presence of one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world.  

Once we had completed the hike, part of which was in the pouring rain, we hopped on a shuttle back to the visitor center to stamp our National Parks Passports and then learn a little more about the park before heading back to our hotel in Williams.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

This diagram of the Grand Canyon at the visitor center was really cool.  It was awesome to see where we had been all day.  

Once back at our hotel room, we crashed for several hours and then ordered pizza to eat in bed while we watched Harry Potter.  Now if that isn’t a perfect day, then I don’t know what is.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

Camping

Our first time camping together (ever) was a bit of a disaster, and you can read that blog post here.  To be fair, mostly we were just ill-prepared and already a little grumpy before we even left the house.  But sleeping in a tent in the fresh air and under the stars is always worth it.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I have been dying to test out my tent since I bought it, and these views were certainly impressive.  My absolute favorite thing about being in Arizona has been the outdoor exploring we have been able to do.  Exploring like this was not something we were able to do back on the east coast, but we’re resolving to change that.  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

As our time here in Arizona is pulling to a close, we’re busy building lasting memories, cherishing the time we have left, and watching all of the Harry Potter movies in existence.  #NoShame

If you have any suggestions for things to explore in southern Arizona or adventures we should go on back in North Carolina, leave them in the comments below!  We would love to hear them!

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like, don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already, and we’ll see you guys next time!


Jamie out

More posts:
Moving to Arizona | Arizona Part I | Arizona Part II

our disastrous first camping trip together

Our first time camping together was slightly spontaneous and outrageously under-planned.  We did little to no research, left much later than we intended to, brought no smaller bills to pay for our camping spot, and ending up setting our tent up with the use of flashlights and the very last bits of orange on the skyline as the sunset had already passed.

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Parker Canyon Lake

The camping spot was actually super cute and had a great view.  It’s five or ten dollars a night, all the spots have easy access to the bathrooms, and the break in monsoons had left the place nice and green for us.

As far as we could tell, the camping sites were first come first serve.  We packed up some odds and ends for breakfast, brought some extra water, and then stopped at Subway to grab dinner on our drive out.  Unfortunately, our navigation took us the long way to get there so it took twice as long as anticipated.  We watched the sunset during our drive instead of from our campsite.

Despite a somewhat frustrating start to our spontaneous camping trip, we made the most of it.  We resolved to be a little more prepared next time, because a camping trip without firewood (and s’mores) may not even be a camping trip at all.  

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Despite having purchased my tent almost two years ago, I had never actually used it.  It was super nice to break it out and realize that the six-person tent is huge for just the two of us.

Will is a very experienced and avid camper and backpacker.  He has all the gear.  Despite having brought all of it to Arizona with us, we unfortunately didn’t plan well enough in advance to use most of it.  The consequence of spontaneity, I suppose.  Hopefully in a few years we’ll have this down to a science.

our first time camping together

We woke up a little after six, as you do while you’re camping, got dressed and ate breakfast.  We didn’t bring any kind of camping stove or firewood, so I made do with a few creative food items from our hotel room back home.  One item on my wish list is definitely a french press, or at minimum instant coffee and a means to heat up water.  Your girl had the worst migraine of her entire life later that afternoon and starting off the day with zero coffee didn’t help.

our first time camping together our first time camping together

After we ate breakfast, we packed up the tent in the already eighty degree weather and then drove down to the lake to take in its views and enjoy its peace for a bit.

our first time camping together our first time camping together

Items I added to my camping wish list:

  • Table cloth
  • Bug spray
  • Tiny broom
  • Mallet
  • Better stakes 
  • COFFEE

Let’s be real.  It was NOT the best camping trip in the world.  Hopefully we’ll do better in the future, but hey, not every adventure and spontaneous trip is going to be golden.  Despite some loud neighbors (who arrived after we did and left before us as well—what a whirlwind!) the camp site was great.  You can rent boats at the lake, go fishing, or even swimming.  It seems like a great way to spend the weekend, honestly!  Next time we’ll arrive earlier, bring fire wood and coffee, and it will be ten times better.

Any suggestions for whirlwind camping trips?  I’d love to hear some easy ideas!  I’m used to tent trailers and campers, so tent camping as an adult is new to me!  I need all your advice in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by hitting that subscribe button below.

Much love,
Jamie out.