Category Archives: USA

One 2017 Bucket List Item

Before we jump to the fun plans of each of our bucket list items for 2017, I wanted to share something more personal. 2016 was a very difficult year for me in terms of heartbreak and loss and I have felt the grief and despair that I believe Anita experienced too. Without the care, friendships and love from friends and family, I feel certain that she and I would have shared a similar fate. Those around me knew how much I was hurting and really pulled me through the darkness. It is my hope that anyone who feels helpless seeks the help they need. Life isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon and there’s always lessons to live through and learn from.

In 2013, the travel blogging world lost Anita Mac, and many of us lost a friend. Anita inspired each of us in different ways with her huge, welcoming smile, eagerness to help, colorful fashion sense, as well as a shoulder to cry on and a willingness to comfort and listen. For many of us, Anita comes to mind almost daily, but most often during our travels, so each year since her death, our goal has been to honor her in some way. We want to pick up where she left off, as her blog focused on bucket list travel, so we are going to dedicate an item from our own bucket list to her during 2017.


Beautiful Anita – you’re gone but not ever forgotten

We hope this reminds our readership of the wonderful world we live in, how we can all experience it, and how fragile life can be. For Anita, we pledge this for 2017:

Where in the World is Lola? (moi)

This past year I didn’t have a bucket list item for Anita but I guess my own personal yearly bucket list wish is to always travel somewhere new. I can happily say that did happen in 2016. I traveled to the Dominican Republic and was able to donate some of my time helping those in need there. Otherwise, 2016 was a pretty quiet year for me travel-wise. I’m hoping 2017 will be a bit more active.

Lola with Stay Adventurous and The World Wanderer on a cruise to the Dominican Republic

Lola with Stay Adventurous and The World Wanderer on a cruise to the Dominican Republic

I am starting off my year headed back to New Orleans and cannot wait. Other than that, I have no firm travel plans as of yet. I think I would like to prioritize traveling with some of my travel buddies somewhere – new or old! Some thoughts I have are Scotland and Vietnam but I’m open to anything so long as it is with people who are near and dear to me. Anita would love this. She loved us all being together as a group. Her last trip was, in fact, a group trip with several travel gals to Montreal. So, I hope you’ll consider planning an adventure together with me (you know who you are!).

Montreal shenanigans - miss you Anita

Montreal shenanigans – miss you Anita

Traveling Ted

In less than two months I will be traveling to Anita’s hometown. This is the second time I have visited since she passed away. When I met her at TBEX in Toronto, and I told her I might be skiing the Gatineau Loppet, she invited me to stay with her. When I finally did make it to Gatineau, which is right across the river from Ottawa, Ontario, Anita had already passed. I sadly spent most of my time alone. This year I will be returning to the region to ski in the Canadian Ski Marathon.

The fact that I am returning to Canada actually has nothing to do with my bucket list item for 2017.  I am psyched to return to Anita’s homeland, but that is not my 2017 bucket list item. The Canadian Ski Marathon is an endurance race where participants partake in two days of skiing totaling 100 miles. If the number one travel experience I was looking forward to in 2017 was to ski myself into complete exhaustion, then I would be insane. I just needed a hook to tie in travel and Anita. Now that you are honed in on my bucket list, and wondering what the hell it is, I am going to switch gears from cross-country skiing and Canada, but not too far away.

Me after skiing the Gatineau Loppet near Anita's home, but this photo has nothing to do with my 2017 bucket list item

Ted after skiing the Gatineau Loppet near Anita’s home, but this photo has nothing to do with his 2017 bucket list item

Since I am quite sane, my 2017 bucket list item is to visit Maine, and I am pretty sure it is going to happen. I have signed up to join Bullmoose Patrol on a wilderness canoe trip in October on the Allagash River. I have never been to Maine, so I hope to see some moose, breathtaking fall colors, catch and eat some fresh fish, canoe a beautiful river, and drink some Allagash beer near its source. I am quite certain Anita would approve of all the above.

Adventure on!

Follow Ted’s travels on his blog Traveling Ted

The World Wanderer

In 2016, my bucket list plan was to hike Patagonia. At the time, I had only made tentative plans with friends, and those plans eventually fell through. Since I lived most of the year off of my savings, it wasn’t an ideal time to make the trek to South America, so last year’s bucket list item didn’t happen, although I did made it to Colombia in December.
Erin road tripping the USA

Erin road tripping the USA

This year, I am going to try to be a little more realistic with my goal, so my plan is to finish off my states in the United States. If I take two road trips or one major one, I will be able to check off 13 states in the contiguous United States. That will leave me with Alaska, which could be a more difficult one to finish up in 2017, but I am going to try. I think Anita would love this goal of seeing my home country, and she’d sure love the adventures to be had in Alaska. I think it’s the perfect way to honor her.
Follow Erin’s wanderings on her blog The World Wanderer

Stay Adventurous

Craig fly fishing in the Florida Keys

Craig fly fishing in the Florida Keys

With a singular fly cast out into the flats of the upper Florida Keys backcountry, I smiled, not solely because I realized a dream, a bucket list item, but because I also completed my 2016 dedication to Anita. I really owe a lot to my friend Scott,  who not only helped make it happen and also snapped the image I shared on Instagram (which has captured the most likes of the year for me).  Next year he promised we will catch one.
Beaches of Central America

Beaches of Central America

So now as I look towards 2017, I am staring at the snow falling in Lake Wallenpaupack and I am debating a winter adventure. Yet my recent trip Belize reminds me how much of the Americas I have still yet to explore. So for 2017, I plan to visit a NEW destination and a NEW place somewhere on one of the American continents. Maybe I’ll return south of the border, find my way to a winter adventure, or both. Wherever it takes me, this year I plan to discover (more of) the Americas.
Follow Craig’s adventures on his blog StayAdventurous


We encourage you to join us in this quest and take on at least one Bucket List item in 2017, but more importantly, we also hope you take the opportunity to (re)connect with friends and loved ones during this holiday season and throughout the year.

The purpose for writing this post is not only to inspire others to travel the world and explore, but as a way for us to remind all of you who are reading this post to look around you, see who you can reach out to and possibly help reach their goals and feel supported and loved. Our friend and fellow traveler, Anita took her life because she didn’t see any other options, we don’t want anyone else to feel that way.

Please share the momentum.


Filed under bucket list, dominican republic, florida, Maine, travel, USA

Fun Forecast: New Finds in 4 Great US Cities

Over the course of four weeks this spring I traveled to 3 out of 4 of the United States’ biggest cities and was lucky enough to uncover some great new finds in four US cities. From tours, to shopping, to galleries to where to see and be seen, check out if any of these ideas tickle your fancy too.

New York City

still house whiskey

Small batch distillers in NYC have become ALL the rage so much so that you can find self-guided and somewhat more official distillery tours offered there now. While I have not officially tried the Brooklyn Booze Trail (self-guided tour showcasing the borough’s new generation of spirits, from whiskey and rum to grappa and hibiscus liqueur) or New York Craft Cocktail Tour, I have sampled some of these small batch distillers’ products. My favorites were The Noble Experiment, a small batch rum distiller and Van Brunt Stillhouse, makers of rum, whiskey and grappa. I only sampled their American whiskey and while I would not say I’m a whiskey connoisseur, I found Van Brunt Stillhouse’s whiskey delicious. One or both of these tours are on my radar for a future visit 100%.

Los Angeles

abbot kinney

Abbot Kinney Blvd. located in the Venice Beach neighborhood of LA is a cool street full of fun boutiques, galleries, restaurants and amazing architecture. One of my notable favorites is Beach House Brand – a boutique meant to inspire wanderlust – carrying personally curated items to bring you an “Endless Summer” travel experience of your dreams. I found beautiful dresses, never before seen bikini brands and all kinds of awesome travel accessories. Burro was my other absolute do-not-miss. They carry an eclectic, thoughtful selection of items from all over the world – from stationery, jewelry and home decor to modern toys for kids. Burro says that while their shops are a destination location for tourists they remain the local “go to” favorite. I found some of the best greeting cards ever there as well as a very entertaining selection of gift items.


peter tunney

Peter Tunney Experience is a gallery located in the Wynwood Walls area of Miami. Peter’s work helps us redefine our way of interacting with and understanding the world around us. Using optimistic headlines such as “BELIEVE”, “GRATTITUDE” and “CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE EVERYTHING”, Tunney is counter attacking the media’s constant relay of stories of death, destruction, hysteria and greed. It is a refreshing way to think positively and not think or live in fear. The Wynwood Walls area is an international destination within itself, giving Miami a place to gravitate to and explore and serving as tribute to graffiti and street art, which has been somewhat under appreciated and not always respected historically. Both of these things are an absolute, take the time out, must-see.


soho house chicago

Opened a little less than a year, Soho House Chicago is a private club with some public spaces such as their ground floor restaurants and bar. Soho House was founded in 1995, in London, as a private members’ club for those in film, media and creative industries BUT you don’t have to be a member to enjoy a drink at Fox Bar or a slice at Pizza East. The Allis is a spot within Soho House Chicago for a coffee, quick bite or cocktail. Also, let’s not forget Chicken Shop where you can enjoy free range chicken from the spit. Now, if you are lucky enough to be a member or know one, I think the roof top deck is the place to see and be seen while viewing downtown Chicago’s skyline. Located in a historic former belt factory in the Fulton Market neighborhood, Soho House Chicago should be a must-do.

PS – all four of these US cities I’ve highlighted have a Soho House!


Filed under chicago, los angeles, miami, new york, travel, USA

Fun Forecast: Girls Getaway in Nola


I recently went to New Orleans for a long weekend with my girlfriends. It wasn’t my first visit to the Big Easy by any means but it was definitely my favorite. Even though I often choose Miami as my girls getaway destination, I have to say, New Orleans is now also a top contender.


Why? Well there are many factors that go into what would make a great girls getaway destination such as lots of things to do for everyone’s tastes. Good food options in all price points. Great watering holes for yummy cocktails and making new friends. New Orleans has all of this and more. With so much history and lore, there’s no limit to activities if you don’t feel like just eating and drinking. For example, some of my girlfriends went for a neighborhood guided run. Ghost and vampire tours are offered daily or you can visit voodoo shops and have your fortune read. Another factor that’s important to consider when traveling with a group is whether it’s a walking city and are taxis readily available. New Orleans is just that kind of city. Plus, the southern charm and hospitality CANNOT be beat. Here are my four favorite discoveries from my recent girls getaway in Nola.

St. Bernard’s Project

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Two of my girlfriends and I went down to New Orleans a day early so we could volunteer time to help work on a Katrina house with St. Bernard’s Project. Having done a Habitat for Humanity build before, this was very appealing to me. It’s a great way to give a little time back to the community you are visiting and a good way to feel more connected. The St. Bernard Project’s Rebuilding Program in New Orleans rebuilds homes for senior citizens, people with disabilities and families with children who can not afford to have their homes rebuilt by contractors. We were working on an existing home for a couple that has been displaced since Katrina. It was so fun and rewarding to learn how to fire block. The girls and I felt empowered wielding hammers & drills and cutting wood with a chop saw (something none of us had ever done before). And what’s really great with this organization is there’s really no major time commitment. A perfect way to make a small difference. I will definitely return and do another day or two with St. Bernard’s as there are still many homes to be rebuilt from Katrina’s devastation.

FlipKey Vacation Rentals

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When you go away with your girlfriends part of the point is to have a ginormous slumber party together. The issue is the more people traveling together the harder it is to achieve. This is where renting apartments and homes makes SO MUCH SENSE! For a fraction of the cost of a hotel, you can get a kicking place to share with your best buds. We found the perfect apartment through FlipKey on the other side of Canal Street, so a bit out of the French Quarter madness but close enough to walk back and forth as any and all wanted. It couldn’t have been better suited for us. A 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom apartment with Nola flair, a big shared living space, washer/dryer and all in a secure building. We all decided this is a premium way to go with a girls getaway.



Another repeat for me but still definitely deserves the mention is working with awesome Flytographer. It is one of my absolute favorite things to mix into a girls trip. One of the things that I really want to highlight with this mention is how you learn something(s) new about a city while on a shoot. Since the photographers hired are local to the area, they always end up sharing tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise know about the city you’re visiting. New Orleans was no exception. Lizzie was incredible about choosing places to shoot and suggesting choices of drinks and small bites and introducing us to local sweets. I don’t know if there was a single other activity we all enjoyed more than our Flytographer shoot and our photos came out AMAZING. Flytographer has photographers in over 100 cities worldwide and packages start at $250. (Bargain when split among friends, right?!)

Commander’s Palace

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While we all loved the *obligatory* stops to Pat O’Brien’s and Cafe Du Monde, we hit up some other yummy spots and I want to give a BIG shout out to by far my favorite New Orleans foodie experience yet – Commander’s Palace. We went for Sunday Jazz Brunch and BOY did we get the royal treatment. This wasn’t unique to us. This is just how Commander’s Palace rolls. Since 1880, Commander’s Palace has been a New Orleans landmark known for the award-winning quality of its food. The history of this famous restaurant offers a glimpse into New Orleans’ antebellum past. We loved every second of our multi-course brunch. Basically, my mouth is watering right this second and this establishment will be a repeat on every subsequent visit to New Orleans. It’s THAT good. I had a trio of soups including gumbo, lobster bisque and their famous turtle soup…when in “Rome”. My entrée was shrimp and grits (OMG) and dessert was the well-known house specialty, creole bread pudding soufflé. Of course, cocktails were sampled as well. Not only was my mouth and belly completely thrilled but our service might have truly been some of the best I’ve ever experienced.

* We were graciously given a media discount with FlipKey but regardless this was the most cost-effective and best way to stay in Nola. More on FlipKey:

What makes FlipKey such a great place to find a vacation rental?

  • We feature 300,000 vacation homes located in over 11,000 cities throughout the world
  • Every owner is verified by FlipKey staff to ensure you are only dealing with nice and trusted people
  • We feature the largest collection of authentic guest reviews and photos in the industry
  • Over 5,000 special deals are featured on the site every day
  • Millions of travelers visit FlipKey every month to help find the perfect vacation home
  • FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company and powers the vacation rental experience on—the largest travel site in the world—and other TripAdvisor Media sites


Filed under fun forecast, new orleans, travel, USA

It’s #Movember – That Means Mustaches & #ManlyMoments


BIG SURPRISE that Lola can get behind mustaches… you know my love of wearing faux ones around the world. I’ve even got my friends wearing them because being ‘stachey is FUN!! But in all seriousness, November and #Movember are important! It’s a time where people participate in growing mustaches to raise awareness for testicular and prostate cancer. I rejoice because I feel I’m amongst kindred mustache spirits on top of the good deeds it represents.

My adorable friend Raymond from Man on the Lam is doing a HUGE campaign that is quite enviable if you ask me about #Movember. Thanks to Leah Travels for asking me to participate in making my own #ManlyMoments bucket list to support this worthy cause. So here it goes, some will happen and some will never! I’m ok with that – are you?


Back Camera

Lola, once upon a time, did a sprint triathlon and thought to myself, wouldn’t be amazing to be so fit you could swim the English Channel. Let me just say, that 1/2 mile swim was the hardest part of my race. I cannot imagine ever being able to do this feat but am super impressed by all those that make this a goal and set out to achieve it. Very manly indeed.



I wish I could say I can sail. I cannot. I’d like a decent size sailboat along with a handsome crew to do the dirty work for me. I promise to entertain them with my pirate-like antics and rum drinking. I’m buying, so I say let’s taste all the different rums out there in the turquoise Caribbean!


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This one I actually think will happen. It’s been on my list for a while and based on what I’ve heard and read, you can have quite the adventurous yet glamorous experience in just a few short days. I like a little action packed activity on my vacays so this sounds really perfect for Lola.



Happily, I can report this #ManlyMoment will get ticked off Lola’s list this summer. It may seem anti-Lola to want to do the Mongol Rally but I think it sounds like an adventure of a lifetime. Yes, it will be challenging for this poshaholic but I look forward to roughing it. It will make the post-rally rewards that much sweeter. And, that’s the way I roll.



So, as you may know, I’m a Texan. And as a Texan, I love the idea of participating in an organized cattle drive tour. I have 3 pairs of cowboy boots and a belt with a ginormous buckle so I’d say I’m pretty much ready to go. Can’t you just see it now?! Pink cowboy hat and boots…me tossing a lasso and capturing a cowboy err I mean roping a cow. Let a girl dream 😉


Now for the serious stuff. The goal is to raise awareness of Movember and men’s health issues. Whether you are a blogger or a reader, you can participate in this great cause.

  • Read along as Raymond attempts to complete his Manly Bucket List at
  • Follow along on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #Movember and #ManlyMoments
  • Go to to find out more about men’s health issues, support a Mo Bro or Mo Sistah, or to register to become one yourself.
  • Check out the schedule for the Made Man Movember Mo’asis Bus Tour and come on by if you are in the neighborhood for free shaves and tons of great activities.
  • Last but not least, DONATE!

OR can make your own #ManlyMoments Bucket List! All you need to do is:

  • Choose five activities you’d like to do and create your own #ManlyMoments Bucket List – they can be something you commit to do during Movember, or simply something you’d like to do before you kick the bucket. (Ladies, this is open to you too!)
  • Nominate five bloggers to create their own #ManlyMoments Bucket List.
  • Include a link to Movember to encourage people to register or donate.
  • Tweet and share your posts with the hashtags #Movember and #ManlyMoments

Also, every time you send a tweet, Vine, Instagram, or post to Facebook with your manly photos, or text using the hashtag #ManlyMoments, the folks at Made Man will donate $1 to the Movember cause.  You’ll also be entered into a draw for a Trip for Two to Las Vegas to experience your very own Mancation, which includes the Top Gun Experience from Sky Combat Ace. Sounds good to moi!

I’m tagging a few of my favorites to play along and I know they will come up with clever posts for their #ManlyMoments!!

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Calan from Discovering Your Truth

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Joshua from Engineer on the Road

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Tom from Waegook-Tom

me n erin 2

Yishyene from Small Crazy

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Brian from The Travel Vlogger


Filed under bucket list, caribbean, mongolia, travel, united kingdom, USA

Connecticut Countryside Retreat – The Mayflower Grace by @GraceHotels

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I began my love affair with Grace Hotels when I first visited The Vanderbilt Grace last December and again in June. This luxury boutique hotel group really has the right idea of style, sophistication & sexiness for its guests! So, when I learned that Grace Hotels acquired a new property in nearby Connecticut, I just had to go check it out.

Located in Washington, Connecticut in picturesque Litchfield County, The Mayflower Grace  is less than 2 hours from New York City and roughly 3.5 hours from Boston. I’m not typically one to say “hey, let’s rent a car and go for a road trip in the USA,” I’m more likely to take a plane or a train, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to check out this acclaimed inn so I rented a sweet ride to chariot me to Connecticut. With accolades like “An American Legend Hailed as a Top US Inn”, “Forbes 5 Star Rating” and “Number One Spa in America”, I had some big expectations going into my stay with The Mayflower Grace. I was not let down!


For starters, Washington is a beautiful rural town in Connecticut that looks like it could be in the English Countryside. The Mayflower Grace perfectly fits its surroundings following suit in English manor style. There are 30 unique room accommodations and I placed in the Winslow Suite – said to be one of the more luxurious suites in the Mayflower House. I can attest that it was stunning with its separate living room and sitting area and giant marble bathroom with a separate walk in shower and deep soak tub. The best feature of the room was the balcony opening up to a gorgeous view of the Shakespeare Garden. I really felt like I was visiting the United Kingdom! My only disappointment was not having this lovely room for longer than one evening. I could have really spent more time there.

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During my visit I was also able to experience the delicious dining offerings in the tap room. Feeling British Pub-like, it was as cozy as it was wonderful. I was told of some updates coming soon to the menus and changes that will be made to the dining rooms’ decor. All the plans sound fabulous and will bring new shine to The Mayflower Grace dining, which is open to both guests and the local public.

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The grounds of The Mayflower Grace are not to be missed as well. Set upon 58 acres, not only is there the Shakespeare Garden but also the American Poetry Maze. Big trees and established plantings abound among the rolling hills. I loved the outdoor pool and would definitely like to log some time there during the summertime. There is no way you cannot feel serenity and relaxation in these surroundings and I’m sure in every season.

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Now, for the best part of The Mayflower Grace – the spa!! Sure, I like a spa treatment every now and then but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge spa-goer. After touring the spa at The Mayflower Grace I was certain I would be missing out on a world class experience if I didn’t have some kind of treatment. So, naturally, I booked a massage and let them choose what they thought might be best for me to experience. It was decided I should try Hammam, a red flower treatment ritual with roots from ancient Byzantine bath houses. Using a blend of orange blossom, jasmine, bergamot, amber & clove, this treatment was both invigorating and therapeutic and includes a combination of detoxifying washes, clay, exfoliation, steam and massage. Although involved, let me just say it was 90 minutes of heaven and the best treatment I’ve ever had. Definitely worth the road trip to Connecticut! This 20,000 square foot luxury spa is truly gorgeous and offers full services for their guests. Definitely allow extra time to indulge in relaxing in the Garden Room. You will not be sorry for lingering.

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For nature lovers, nearby is the Steep Rock Nature Preserve which is one of the oldest land trust’s in Connecticut. Hiking, biking, kayaking, cross country skiing and snow shoeing are just a few of the activities you can experience here. There are also opportunities for horseback riding, fishing, golfing, tennis, antiquing, the list goes on.

In August 2013, this Relais & Chateaux five-star, five-diamond accommodations joined the award-winning Grace Hotels group which has an international reputation for its boutique hotels on five continents around the world. The development brings new investment to the property along with a décor refresh and some classic Grace style elements, including an all-new fine dining experience. Sensitively and gradually, these enhancements will be merged in over the coming months while still preserving all the things about the Mayflower that patrons have come to know and love.

Thank you to The Mayflower Grace for inviting me to come experience your incrediblelola_blackpink property. I totally ‘Lola Approve’ it and I know where I will be checking in when I next need some R&R! I fully anticipate all previous and new patrons will find all is well and perhaps even better with The Mayflower Grace! The views here are mine!


Filed under connecticut, swanky luxe stays, travel, USA