Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog

Roadtrip

White Sands National Monument

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White Sands National Monument - Shannon Did What?

I don’t know what it is about Sand Dunes, but they are so intriguing.  Where did all that sand come from anyway?  I’ve been to the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley but there’s something different about White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.  The name alone should give it away.  The sand dunes are pure white in color.  They really are breathtaking.

White Sands National Monument is about 3.5 hours south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  When we were originally planning our cross country road trip, it seemed a little too far out of the way.  Instead we were going to cut north through the Four Corners to end up in Page, Arizona to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend (stay tuned for this post!).  When our other friend decided to join us, the only and cheapest place for her to fly into was Tucson, Arizona.  So, we decided to make a giant U shape to get from Albuquerque to Page through Tucson because why stay on a straight path

 

One of the best parts of the White Sands is getting to sled down the dunes.  If you want, you can buy a disc from the gift shop for $15.  Or you can make friends with other tourists.  We happened to walk outside of the gift shop and there was a sled and wax leaned up against our car! Totally made our day.  A couple had used theirs already and thought we’d like it.  So if you can find someone to share theirs that’s the best way to go.  Remember to pay it forward after too!

Don’t forget to grab a ton of water and use the restrooms before venturing into the dunes.  The further you drive the better the dunes especially if you’re looking for the pure white, untouched ones.

Yours Truly // Shannon

Top 10 Travel Essentials

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If you don’t follow my instagram, maybe you aren’t aware that I’m going on an epic cross country roadtrip next week.  I think its finally setting in that I’m going to be spending a hundred hours cooped up in a car and I am so excited!  I’ve always wanted to drive across the states to see what the heart of this country really looks like.  I think I’m also slightly anxious since I feel like I’m going to forget something or am missing some vital information.  I’m sure the sole reason I’m feeling like this is because I created our itinerary and did tons of research months ago.  So basically, I’m really over prepared and am stressing for no reason.  Well, I can reasonably stress about the fact that I’m not going to be checking any bags to get out of the airport as quick as possible.  I just have to figure out how to pack my purse, backpack, duffel bag and sleeping bag along with everything I need for 10 days into 1 bag and 1 personal item per airline regulations. No biggie, right?

As I have been packing, I started thinking about what are my go-to, must bring travel essentials.  I definitely have a set of items that I bring to make my travel life that much easier.  I think my favorite on the list has to be the Belkin Mini Surge Protector.  I don’t know about you but finding multiple outlets in my hotel room is sometimes a huge hassle.  This is awesome because it has 3 outlets and 2 usb plugins.  Perfect for my camera, GoPro, phone, portable phone charger, extra camera batteries and whatever else needs to be charged.  Never go searching behind the nightstands and hotel beds again!  Wisps are a must for those long flights where you wake up and just need to brush your teeth.  These ones are no water needed.  Melatonin is a must for traveling to different time zone.  Your body naturally produces melatonin which makes you sleepy.  This gives you that extra nudge.  These travel bottles are the best.  They don’t leak!  I hate when you arrive and unpack and your shampoo leaked all over your other toiletries.  And finally, I always keep a Bounce dryer sheet or two in my suitcase, especially were your dirty laundry is.  Trust me, it works.

Yours Truly // Shannon

California Coast Roadtrip Highlights

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California Coast Roadtrip Highlights

When you take a 4 day, 2000 mile road trip through both Oregon and California you don’t really get enough time to be in one place.  We really had to pick and choose the places at the top of our list to see.  Driving down the coast of California was no exception.  There are too many places to talk about.  The list below are just a few that were a part of my personal highlights to help you start your California road trip planner.  Some notable mentions that didn’t make the cut are obviously San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara.  Check out my quick 48-hour tour of San Francisco, here.  Hopefully in a later post, I can go into more detail about the others.

Redwood National Park

If you start right above San Francisco, you’ll find Redwood National Park.  If you are at all into nature, this is the place for you.  The Redwood Forest is incredible.   We got there so early, there were hardly any cars on the road.  On the Avenue of the Giants, the trees are so tall they get lost in the fog where you can barely see where they end. I felt so tiny amongst the Giants.  It really makes you take a look a life and realize how tiny we all are.

17-Mile Drive

Right before Big Sur, you’ll pass by Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel-By-The-Sea, literally some of the most quaint small towns.  In Pebble Beach make sure you stop by the 17-mile drive.  Obviously, the 17-mile drive is 17 miles long and weaves around multiple prestigious golf courses and beautiful homes with scenic views of the Pacific along the way.  You most definitely should add these stops to your west coast road trip itinerary.  Every view is beautiful with the vibrant colors from the golf course, blue ocean and of course a ton of seals. 

My favorite part of the drive was Bird Rock.  The rock is covered with probably a hundred seals loudly calling about. They really make for a fun atmosphere because they are by no means quiet.  The white sand is so bright it has this beautiful contrast with the deep blue color of the ocean.

Big Sur

I think literallly every place in Big Sur could qualify as a highlight, but for the sake of time we’re sticking to just one place for now.  I will definitely be making another trip to Big Sur and will go into further detail.  And I'm really looking forward to it.  I had never been to Big Sur before and, man, was I in for a surprise.  I had no idea that a place like that could exist in California.  And all of that beauty, I think, is embodied at McWay Falls.  McWay Falls is located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  It is a little easy to miss, so keep your eyes open for the signs and crowds.  Be careful, parking can be a bit tricky since the road is so narrow.  The waterfall is located in a cove that seems like its almost completely untouched and secluded from visitors. The occasion footprints in the sand leave you wondering the story about how the people who made them got there.

This was my first road trip, but will definitely not be my last.  I think I'm hooked.  There's just something about being on the open road anticipating what treasure you'll stumble upon next especially when you're with great friends.  I think I was on stimulation overload the entire trip.  The beautiful scenery and vibrancy of the colors of the landscape were incredible.

If you ever have the time to drive the coast of California, do it.  It is beautiful.  And you can use these highlights as your Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary. 

Yours Truly // Shannon

 

If you missed it, check out my pictures from my favorite part of Oregon, Crater Lake, here.