Travel: Vegas Day 1

A few months ago my family decided to take a quick trip to Vegas for Labor Day weekend. We wanted to take a fun trip together before I start grad school and thought Vegas would be a nice place for a quick visit.

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We had a really easy time getting to Vegas. We used Frontier and our flights averaged to about $240 direct from Madison to Vegas. They would have been closed to $200 but we added on checked bags. Everyone was very happy when the realized we were flying direct rather than traveling to Milwaukee or Chicago.

Not only was our flight convenient, we had a great crew that kept the trip super exciting. They did a couple of different games like a raffle, an age guessing game, and a trivia and gave away assorted prizes. It helped make the last hour of our flight go by quick.

As soon as we got to our hotel (we are staying at The Venetian) we all realized that we were hungry and started looking up options for dinner. We decided to go to The Buffet at Wynn. I was excited because it was very colorful and seemed to have a lot of food options. My family was excited because they were hungry and it was nearby. We were a little disappointed when we arrived to find out that it was $45/person as the website we had used to find it had said $25-35, but we decided to try it out anyway.

I loved the food and was excited to try new things. I tried a couple of things that I didn’t like, but I found out that I love quail. I also really loved the pork belly buns, the duck and the potato latkes with cottage cheese. Who knew that was an amazing thing?

Dessert was on another level. The room was amazing. There were so many options and I ended up getting butterscotch bread pudding, creme brulee, and banana sticky toffee pudding. Twice. Literally my only criticism was that the sticky toffee pudding was banana, I would have preferred traditional.

I was also really impressed with the Wynn. I would definitely consider staying there in the future. The setting was so beautiful. And I won $100 in the casino.

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I’m pretty excited about my winnings. My daily gambling budget is $20, so no matter what I’ll break even at the end of the trip.

After dinner and a brief foray into gambling, we walked back to our hotel but stopped to watch the fountain at the Wynn. It’s very lovely for a few moments but the songs are limited and get repetitive fast.

We ended the night with some pool time at the Venetian and hang-out time in the hotel room.

Have you been to Vegas? What are your favorite things to do? Give me your recommendations!

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Roubidoux Spring Path Missouri Ozarks

Adventure Travel: Missouri Ozarks Roubidoux Spring

Prior to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, I met my family at a hotel in St Robert, Missouri. We found a really nice hotel for only $50 a night, perfect for a quick stay. We arrived around 6pm and wanted to explore the area a little bit. Since St Robert is in the Missouri Ozarks, I googled trails in the area to see what our options were. I saw that Roubidoux Spring was less than a ten minute drive away, so we decided to check it out.

We arrived to find a nice sized stream. It had rained a bunch in recent days so that water levels were high. The water was brown with random bursts of blue/green that were beautiful. We read the signs and found out that the stream was part of the path of the Trail of Tears, and that it is a prominent location for trout fishing.

Roubidoux Spring

Roubidoux Spring Missouri Ozarks

The path from the parking area to the spring was short. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to walk more after being in the car all day, but the path itself was beautiful. In the following picture you can clearly see how blue/green the water was. I had a weird realization that the water, trees, and current reminded me about a place that I had dreamed about.

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Above is a picture of the spring when we first arrived. We touched the water and were surprised by how cold it is. It maintains a temperature below 60 degrees in the summer. Since it was so hot in Missouri (90-100 degrees and SO HUMID every day) we decided to head back to the hotel and grab our swim suits. The picture below is an accurate representation of the color of the spring when we returned.

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Getting in the water was a bit difficult because of how cold it was, but we had a really great time.

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We met a nice little kid (you can see him at the end of the video) who told us that although the signs suggested otherwise, it was “completely safe” to jump in. Jumping into the water was an incredible experience because the force of the spring pushed you right back up to the top and out of the way.

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In the above photo you can see the mist rising up from the water, since it was about 30 degrees cooler than the air.

We had an amazing experience at Roubidoux Springs and I can’t wait to return to the Missouri Ozarks.

Travel: Ledges State Park, Iowa

I was in the mood to do some hiking last week while I was in Iowa and one of my friends suggested we take a trip to Ledges State Park. I grew up close to Ledges, and even went to girl scout camp about a minute away, but had never been to the park before. I didn’t know what to expect but we had a great experience.

The first thing we saw was a swampy area.

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I personally love areas like this, as long as they don’t smell. Fortunately, this one was all good. AND there was a lovely surprise! If you look closely at the picture, you can see dozens of tiny cricket frogs sticking out of the algae.

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The following is another section of the same pond. If you look to the left of the big branch, you can see little froggie heads sticking up.

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Next we walked to the “secret lake” – not really sure how a giant green swamp is a secret, but it was lovely. Here is a pic of my friend Mikey, the wonderful guy who took me to Ledges.

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Now, the secret lake ended up being one of the best experiences of my entire life. The entire shore was covered in bull frogs and cricket frogs, so every time we moved a dozen would hop into the water.

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You can see some of the frogs in the photo above if you look closely. There aren’t as many close to the camera, but if you look further out you can see just how many were on the shore.

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This next one really worried me. Wasn’t sure if it was a monstrosity or a normal development. Apparently it’s a polliwog. I thought that was a Pokemon, but my friend explained that she is actually a scientist and its a mix between tadpole and frog.

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I never wanted to leave that area, but apparently since we were at Ledges State Park we were required to see the actual ledges.

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Here is Mike being an ~expert~ hiker. He even has a backpack with a water pouch!

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Here is me. I’m a normal hiker. I put lipstick on before hitting the trails.

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The view of the Des Moines river was quite lovely.

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This next ledge was a little terrifying. Normally I would have been a daredevil and tried to hop onto it, but apparently some guy died doing that this summer and I wasn’t super interested in following in his footsteps.

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I loved the park and had a great experience, especially the jumping frogs. What is the coolest thing that you’ve seen at a state park?

July Instagram Memories

If you were hanging out with me in July you probably saw literally all the emotions come out of me. I started the month out super stressed, was wiped out by a cold/fever for a week, and then ended the month on a super positive note. Mostly I’m really glad it’s over but also pretty worried about the fact that school starts in ONE MONTH. How did this happen??

I definitely need to say thank you to all of the amazing friends and family members who help me get through the bad and stressful times so that we can have amazing experiences together.

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For 4th of July I went kayaking with my family and Anna. We had a great time and got this super adorable picture out of it. I didn’t watch any fireworks but it was probably the best 4th I’ve ever had.

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Mid-month we went up north to hang out with Kara at her family’s cabin. It was perfect weather and we all had an amazing time. It was so great to see my bestie and float around together venting about how difficult 2017 has been. Fortunately things are looking up for us both.

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I also got to see my family in Minnesota since we brought TJ to the cabin with us, and that was lovely in and of itself.

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If you like what you see and what to see more, please feel free to follow me on instagram @jenrazzle. Hope you’re all having a lovely summer!

 

Comprehensive List of Places I’ve Traveled

I wanted to put together a list of places that I have traveled for myself and so that others can ask for travel tips. I love traveling more than anything else – there is nothing better than hanging out in a random cafe in a foreign country, completely cut off from your everyday reality.

United States

  1. Alabama
    1. Maxwell Air Force Base
    2. Montgomery
    3. Mobile
  2. Arkansas
    1. Ozarks / Bentonville
  3. California
    1. San Francisco
    2. Sacramento
  4. Colorado
    1. Denver
    2. Ft. Collins
  5. Florida
    1. Pensacola
    2. Niceville
    3. Orlando
    4. Naples
    5. Miami
    6. Everglades
    7. Keys
  6. Illinois
    1. Chicago
  7. Indiana
    1. North west
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
    1. Southwest
  10. Louisiana
    1. New Orleans
  11. Michigan
    1. Detroit
  12. Minnesota
    1.  Twin Cities
  13. Missouri
    1. St Louis
    2. Joplin
    3. Springfield
  14. Nebraska
    1. Omaha
  15. New Jersey
    1. Jersey City
  16. New Mexico
    1. Hobbs
  17. New York
    1. Buffalo
    2. New York City
  18. North Carolina
    1. Asheville
    2. Charlotte
  19. Oklahoma
    1. North eastern
  20. South Dakota
    1. Sioux Falls
  21. Tennessee
    1. Nashville
  22. Washington
    1. Seattle
    2. Steilacoom
  23. Washington DC
  24. Wisconsin

I’ve omitted a couple of states because I can’t really provide any information about them offhand.

Central America

  1. Mexico (Let’s not argue about whether Mexico is north or central America. Putting it here for grouping purposes.)
    1. Cancun
    2. Valladolid
    3. Merida
    4. Tulum
    5. Chetumal
  2. Belize
    1. Belize City
    2. San Ignacio
  3. Guatemala
    1. Northern
  4. Costa Rica
    1. San Jose
    2. Cahuita
    3. Puerto Viejo
    4. Jaco
    5. Manuel Antonio
    6. La Fortuna
  5. Panama
    1. Guabito

Europe

  1. England
    1. London
    2. Bath
  2. Netherlands
    1. Amsterdam
    2. Den Hague
    3. Rotterdam
    4. Eindhoven
  3. Belgium
    1. Ghent
    2. Bruges
    3. Bouillon
  4. France
    1. Paris
    2. St. Avold
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Germany
    1. Heidelberg
    2. Aachen

Canada

  1. Ontario

That’s all I’ve got. This list makes me feel like I need to get out and explore the world. Please let me know if you have questions about any of these areas and share your own favorite travel destinations!

Summer Goals Update

Earlier this summer I made two posts with goals for the summer. The first was travel related and the second was related to personal goals. Since the end of July is coming up quick, I wanted to check-in on my goals to see what I have accomplished, what is still manageable, and what will probably need to be pushed back to next year.

For travel, my five goals were to go hiking at Devil’s Lake, get drunk in a cabin with friends, visit Door County, explore a new cave, and visit Canada. I have done 2/5, hiking at Devil’s Lake and getting drunk in a cabin with friends. Both were lovely experiences. I will not be able to go to Door County or Canada this summer, so I will save those for my 2018 summer bucket list. I will be traveling in August so will check with friends and family to see if anyone would like to check out a cave.

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As far as my personal goals, I wanted to break even on my net worth, lose 15 pounds, spend more time with friends, read a book, and prepare to do well in school. Since this section is a little bit longer, I’ll break each one down a bit more.

  1. Break even on net worth: I don’t think that I will be able to accomplish this goal. My networth was -4k at the beginning of summer and is now -3k. I’m a little bummed out, but I am glad I have made progress. I will keep working toward this goal in August and try to get as close as I can. However, I don’t have a job anymore so there is no way that I am going to be able to pay bills, pay for life, and pay off $3k in debt.
  2. Lose 15 pounds: I have not lost any weight but I have been maintaining which is a positive. I no longer have access to a gym and would like to find a way to work out in August. I actually feel pretty good physically so I am not super worried about losing weight at the moment.
  3. Spend more time with friends: I have spent a lot of time with wonderful people this summer. I have made more of an effort to be in touch with my closer friends, and have had lunches/coffee with people who I care about. I can’t spend all my time with everyone which is a bummer, but it’s been really nice to connect this summer.
  4. Read a book: I have read TWO books 😀 – I would like to finish the book that I am currently reading and find another good one or two to read while I am traveling.
  5. Prepare to do well in school: I have been medium on this. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about starting school but am starting to get it together. Mostly I need to get started on my summer math prep class so that I don’t fail stats this fall.

Lovely lovely. How are you doing on your summer goals?

My Favorite Blogs

Before I started blogging I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the blogging community. I had a photoblog back in the 2000s where I posted dozens of pictures of what I was doing every day, and I’ve started various small blogs for specific purposes, but nothing all-encompassing or long lasting. I also have not spent a lot of time visiting websites on the internet outside of social media / reddit / personal finances the last couple of years.

Now that I have this blog and can appreciate the amount of dedication it takes to have a blog and post in it regularly, I’ve been making sure to peruse my friends blogs on a regular basis. Here are a few that I visit + some comments on what I like about them.

#1 SkinnedCartree – My friend Corinne runs a UK Lifestyle blog. She makes a TON of money blogging and does such a great job with social media engagement. She is truly an inspiration. I love her blog because she combines practical information with product reviews and other goodies. She posts daily and I always love stopping by to see what she’s been up to.

Favorite Post: Postcode Pride – Corinne recently posted about the absolutely beautiful city of Bath in the UK. I recently visited in April and was just in love. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Corinne and I loving each other at the Louvre in 2008

#2 Champagne Taste – Sarah recently started a fashion/lifestyle blog and I am so excited about it. I know nothing about fashion other than the fact that I really love everything Khloe Kardashian wears and I can’t afford any of it. Life is really hard. Sarah’s blog is full of tips on how to find quality items at decent prices. I’m looking forward to utilizing these tips when I have an income again after grad school!

Favorite Post: Why You Need It: the Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag – I actually really need this bag now. Thanks a lot, Sarah! This was one of her first posts and it was very persuasive, she’s definitely going to do great things with her blog.

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This is the only picture of me and Sarah that isn’t terribly embarrassing.

#3 Inspo & Co – I have never really talked to Katrina about her blog so she might be surprised by this mention, but I absolutely love it. Everything that Katrina does is so beautiful and I find her work very inspiring. From body positivity to vibrant and colorful photos, her blog is a visual treat. Side note, Katrina used to pick up books from the library I worked at and I’ve always thought we should be better friends because everything she checked out was something I loved.

Favorite Post: L. Feminine Hygiene Products are the Bomb – I like this post because we need more real talk about tampons. I’m currently using Lola but it’s a bit of a pricey service, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking this product out. I had no idea there was something so neat and affordable at Target. This is why we need bloggers!

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Katrina and I don’t have a lot of pics together.. But we’re both in this one!

If you have a blog that you want me to check out, let me know! I’d love to learn more about your interests!

My Favorite Podcasts: Summer 2017

One of the first posts I made when I started my blog last year was My Favorite Podcasts: Summer 2016. At the time I had been listening to podcasts for just a few months and found them really helpful when trying to complete mountains of data entry at work. I’ve now been listening to podcasts for over a year and they help me get through a lot more than data entry; I listen to podcasts during long car rides, while mowing the lawn, sorting laundry, and anything else mundane that allows my brain to be mostly somewhere else.

I am not including the podcasts that were listed on my previous post because my opinion of them is still the same, they are amazing.

3. Modern Love: I really like this podcast because it explores unconventional relationships. Each episode features a celebrity guest reading a story that was written for the Modern Love column in the New York Times. One of the reasons that I like this podcast is that I never know what to expect, the stories reflect our relationships in that they are all varied and intricate. I’m rarely bored when I listen to this podcast and I especially like when they contact the author for follow-up.

Favorite Episode: A Child of Two Worlds. In this story, a mom had to make a tough choice about giving birth. The mother had to decide whether or not to give birth in a third world country without a lot of pre-natal resources or any options for emergency assistance should anything go wrong. It was neat to hear about the care offered to the expecting mom and made me wonder what I would do in a similar situation.

2. Radiolab Presents: More Perfect:  This would be my all time favorite podcast if there were more episodes. I absolutely loved listening to this. The podcast takes prominent Supreme Court cases and explains how they have impacted our judicial system and every day lives. While it sounds nerdy and probably is a little bit, it’s fascinating to hear the intricacies behind cases that have affected our lives in ways we don’t even realize.

Favorite Episode: Object Anyway. This episode bummed me out. It discusses Batson v. Kentucky, the case that led to the creation of the Batson Rule. The Batson Rule is a court rule that doesn’t allow attorneys to remove jurors based on race. This sounds wonderful but they explain in the podcast that all the attorneys have to do is give another excuse as to why they don’t want that person to be on the panel. The world is frustrating.

1. Criminal: I started listening to this podcast last month and have made it through 40 episodes. This podcast is actually perfection. There has only been one episode that I have found boring and every other episode has been engaging. It’s another podcast where I never know what to expect and find myself super interested in something I never knew was a thing. I have to admit – I thought the first episode was boring and it stopped me from listening to more right away. If you don’t like it, skip it and keep going. It’s worth it!

Favorite Episode: No Place Like Home. This episode talks about a man who went to prison and found out that the prison was also home to the last remaining leper colony in the US. Many of the people who lived there were dropped off as children and left there for years and years. It’s really sad to think about how we have treated anyone who is at all “different” in the US and was a very eye opening episode.

There you go! My top three podcasts right now.

What are you listening to? I’m always looking for new suggestions.

June Instagram Memories

June was a wonderful month for me. I tried to keep myself busy by doing the things that make me happy and did a fairly good job of it.

Early in the month I took a trip to Devil’s Lake for hiking, which crossed an item off of my summer 2017 bucket list. We had an amazing time and really enjoyed the views and exercise. I highly recommend an evening hike at Devil’s Lake if you have the opportunity!

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Click on the picture if you’d like to see more pictures from the trip

I also developed my new found interest in ice cream with not one but TWO trips to the ice cream shop with my little brother. Summer time brother time is my favorite. I love that he doesn’t have school and I can take him wherever I want whenever.

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Toward the end of the month I saw one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. I came out of the gas station to see a double rainbow forming. Instead of continuing on, I decided to sit in the parking lot and watch it. It kept getting brighter and stronger and ended up being so incredibly beautiful that I was nearly in tears.

It was so cool seeing all of the people come out of the stores to look at the rainbow and my mom drove over to where I was to look at it with me. It was amazing. We need more beautiful rainbows in America.

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I posted on Instagram 18 times. I feel like I don’t post on there very often so I am trying to make more of an effort. Personally I hate the new algorithm that shows you the top posts instead of every post.. It’s super annoying and makes it much less fun to use. Whatever. Here are my June memories.

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Feel free to follow me on instagram @jenrazzle if you would like to see my posts on a regular basis 🙂

Madison: Rose Show at Olbrich Gardens

Today we stopped by the Rose Show at Olbrich Gardens. This is the second flower show that I have attended there and I have loved both. Community members grow and cut rose and bring them in to be judged. After the show, the flowers are left on display so that anyone can take a look. While I don’t really know much about flowers, it’s really neat to go and see all of the different types of a specific flower there are and the variations. If you’re interested in checking out what events are coming up at Olbrich, click here.

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I didn’t even know that all of these were roses. What kind of flower show would you like to attend?