Tag Archives: Animals

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, UK

19 Jan

You have got to go here…Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, UK.

Who would fly 5,000 miles to take a picture?  This girl!  Boy am I glad that I followed my heart, because what I got was so much more than a photo.

Mr. & Mrs. Darcy

Mr. & Mrs. Darcy

Ever since I saw the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice I knew that I had to make it to Pemberley (all you Mr. Darcy fans out there know what I am talking about!) and in 2013 I finally got my chance.

So, I’m not going to lie…my trip to the United Kingdom was planned (mad props to Anne Marie at Across the Pond Vacations for all your help) around Chatsworth House.  Yes, I was excited to see London and Edinburgh, but really it was this place that I had been dreaming about that gave me butterflies.  All I knew about it was from a movie and through planning I was blown away by how amazing it really was.

First, lodging…where to stay?  On the grounds of course, above a pub – yes please!  The Devonshire Arms at Beeley is a car ride, walk or bike ride away from Chatsworth House. You choose your own adventure.

Hands down, this was one of the best places I have ever stayed.  It was in a picturesque village, the food, rooms and staff were all phenomenal. When I get stressed, I often picture myself having a pint on their patio while watching sheep graze nearby.

Are there other things to do around Chatsworth House you ask?  Absolutely!  It is located in the Peak District, which is a nature lovers dream.  Cycling, camping, hiking…the list goes on.  We couldn’t help but strap on our walking shoes and go exploring.  I recommend you stop by the Farm Shop first stock up on some fresh local provisions first!

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With goodies in hand, we set out on the first trail we found, to enjoy the local wildlife and take a breath to enjoy life.  I know it may seem cheesy, but for as long as I live, the moment I spent sitting by the river having a picnic with my husband and my best friend will forever be one of the best.

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As if life couldn’t get any better…it was finally time to go and explore Chatsworth House.  I have two big tips for you.  Plan to stay all day (one day may not be enough for you) and buy the Discovery ticket, which includes the house, garden and farmyard as you must see it all.

OK, in a nutshell, there is art, magnificent gardens, trails to explore, cute animals, a human sundial, fountains, shopping, yummy restaurants, and happiness!  OH and a hedge maze…a legit one.  It took us 45 minutes (rookies!) and it was a blast.  The research I did before hand did not do this place justice and I had 1000% more than anticipated.

Another thing I loved was the fact that there was so much open space to just lounge and take a moment to soak all the beauty in.

The moral of this story is…everyone has their Chatsworth House, so whether it is near or far.  GO!!! You never know what other awesome things you will discover and I promise once you set eyes on your dream place for the first time your life will change forever – I know mine did.

Happy Chatsworthing,

Crystal

P.S. Any P&P fans out there recognize this?

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Oatman, Az.

13 Jun

You have got to go here…Oatman, Az.

Welcome

OK, there are only two words that you really need to know when describing Oatman – WILD BURROS (more on them later)! And I have to say they are AWESOME…here is a sneak peek…

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Nestled in the hills of Arizona, 30 miles south of Laughlin, Nev., off Historic Route 66, Oatman was once a gold mining town that dates back to the 1800’s.  At one time the town produced the most gold in the whole state.  DSC_0029

Today it is a cool western town filled with kitschy stores, saloons, history, beautiful scenery and of course – WILD BURROS! DSC_0033

I suggest you allot at least a few hours to take a step back in time and explore. There is plenty to do…why not take in an Outlaw Show, do some shopping, send a postcard, smash a penny, view some art or visit a mine?

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AND that’s not all…stop in the Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent their honeymoon night, for a Sarsaparilla (or an adult beverage) and ask about the history of the dollar bills that are placed on every open surface of the bar.
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And there is still more fun to be had…you guessed it – WILD BURROS!  Left over from the gold mining days, these furry animals still roam and rule the streets today.  They are every where you turn and I loved it. Some stores even sell carrots so you can feed them!  CAUTION – these are wild animals so be careful.


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Some days I feel like life passes me by because of the hustle and bustle of today’s world, but I am so glad that there are still places like Oatman that allow you to slow down and just enjoy some simple fun!

Happy Burroing,

Crystal

 

 

 

Beacon Hill Park – Victoria, B.C.

7 Oct

You have got to go here…Beacon Hill Park – Victoria, B.C.

Everyone visits Central Park when in New York City and Golden Gate Park when visiting San Francisco, but I am here to tell you that there are some awesome smaller parks just waiting to be discovered in cities all over the world.  One of those parks that is a must visit is Beacon Hill in Victoria, B.C. Located just a few minutes on foot from the Inner Harbour (where you most likely entered Canada via boat), Beacon Hill Park is worth the trip! I have to admit that the initial reason I chose to visit was so I could go to the children’s farm (more on that later). I was pleasantly surprised by how un-ordinary this park was.  To my eyes wonderment…it was like stepping into a fairytale.  The trees, the bridges, the wildlife were superb!  I was enchanted.                                                                                                                                    These are just a few examples of the wonder that was at every turn! Not only was there lush green all around, but the flowers were literally like beacons (excuse the pun) waving you over to take a closer look. It was honestly so fun imaging you were in a a different time…so spend some time dreaming and getting swept away!

When you are ready to get back to reality, head towards the Children’s Farm! The farm is a great place for kids of all ages to explore – for a small donation of $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for children (CAD $), it is an extreme value.  There are peacocks, mini-horses, chickens, donkey’s and goats OH MY!  While it is not very big, there is tons of stuff to see!

Aside from the animals being so cute and cuddly, the people who worked there were so friendly and willing to answer any questions or help with anything!

Don’t let the name fool you, this farm isn’t just for children’s and I highly suggest you call your inner child and invite them to play.  On a side note, the farm closes during early fall and winter so check the website before you go.

Are you asking yourself…is that it?  NOPE, but I am tasking you with going and discovering the rest on your own. So do yourself a favor, put on your walking shoes, pack a snack and go explore Beacon Hill Park – you will be glad you did!

Happy Beaconing,

Crystal

El Paca Pastures – Ojai, Calif.

3 Sep

You have got to go here…El Paca Pastures – Ojai, Calif.

Looking for something new to do?  Why not visit an Alpaca farm?

Located just a few minutes from beautiful Ojai, El Paca Pastures is a family run Alpaca farm that is a pure delight for any animal lover!

Upon arrival you can’t help but be drawn to the Alpacas and their guard Llama – yes, you heard me right!

Not only were the animals super friendly (I got to pet one and was so excited), but the family who runs an owns the farm were as well.  They took the time to give us a tour of the farm and taught us all there was to know about these beautiful creatures.  I asked question upon question and they were always happy to answer them.

My favorite part of the day was taking photographs of the Alpacas, they were so majestic and made for a great subject.  After hundreds of shots I was able to something else that I love…SHOP!

The Ranch store has hundreds of products to choose from.  Everything from scarves to purses to socks to toys.  I never realized how soft their fur was.  This is a great place to find a unique and one-of-a-kind gift.  There is something for everyone!

I love to find hidden gems and this is one of them…I mean how many people can say that they have been to an Alpaca farm?

A few other things about this destination – it s FREE to visit and the family who owns it seems to truly love what they do and that makes me happy and want to support them.

So, if you find yourself in the Ojai I highly suggest you stop over to El Paca Pastures and pay them a visit.

Happy Alpacaing,

Crystal

P.S. – Don’t forget to ask them what the name of all the animals are!  Can you figure out what they all have in common?

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

27 Apr

You have got to go here…Pacific Marine Mammal Center – Laguna Beach, Calif.

Have you ever wanted to something fun while on vacation and help out a good cause as well?  Look no further than the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC).

Located just minutes from the beautiful Pacific Ocean, PMMC has been working to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals since 1971.  Not only are they doing good work here, but they allow visitors to come and observe – I guarantee you will have a smile on your face when you leave!

Once you enter the parking lot (free parking), just follow the seal to a fun educational experience!

As soon as you round the corner you will hear the sounds of the many animals that PMMC is helping.  Once you enter the grounds be prepared for lots of cuteness…

I couldn’t help but be drawn to the pools that housed the gorgeous native animals.  On the day that I visited there were a mixture of Elephant Seal Pups and California Sea Lions.  Watching them swim and play was addicting.

Not only can you sit and observe them playing for as long as you like, you may also get an opportunity to see the selfless volunteers help nurse these animals back to health.  While I was watching the animals, a friendly volunteer gave me a history of the facility and was more than happy to answer any questions I had.  In addition to being a fun place to visit, PMMC is just as much an educational center and offers programs for both adults and children.  They also have many volunteer opportunities for people who may have a passion for these animals that goes above just learning about them.

PMCC is place that will warm your heart and your day.  If you are visiting the Laguna Beach area, this is a must visit.  It is the perfect place to either come by yourself or your family.  Spend as little or as long as you want on the grounds taking in the glorious creatures.

While there is no fee to visit, please consider a small donation to help continue the life-saving efforts of PMCC.

My pictures do not do the animals justice, so I encourage you to take some time to see them with your own eyes. OH and by the way, feel free to visit as often as you want as you never know what new arrivals will be on hand!

Happy Sealing,

Crystal

Tahquitz Canyon – Palm Springs, Calif.

19 Jan

You have got to go here…Tahquitz Canyon – Palm Springs, Calif.

OK, so here is a sneak peek…

There is so much more where that came from…read on!

My dad had heard about Tahquitz Canyon ( ancient Native American land) from a friend, so on a recent trip to Palm Springs we decided to check it out and I am so glad we did!  The Canyon is located just minutes from the heart of downtown so there are no excuses not to go.

Upon arrival you will enter the visitors center where you can read up on the canyon and borrow a hiking stick if you want!

Let me preface by saying that this is a two-mile loop to a 18ft waterfall with a 350 foot elevation gain, but if you hike or walk at all it will be a breeze.  With that being said please remember this is Palm Springs and it can be hot any time of year so bring plenty of water and snacks!

Now to the fun part…take your map and go.  The trail is very well-marked and is easy to follow.  As you go, look for markers that give you fascinating facts about the land you are on – such as where ancient ruins were found.

While walking really keep your eyes open as there is tons of amazing sceneary…everything from rock formations, fantastic views, wildlife to lush pools of water.

I can not express to you how beautiful this hike is.  I was in awe of all that was around and was totally giddy when we made it to the waterfall!  The only big bummer about this hike is that you can’t swim in the water – I was so tempted!

If I would have known how serene it was at the top I would have packed a lunch and had a picnic!

You may never want to leave – but if you must, don’t fret there is tons to see on the way down. Since it is a loop, a whole new set of wonders to discover awaits. (I made my family stop and take funny pictures!)

At the end I was very sad because it was over, but happy to have made the discovery!  I hope you feel the same after exploring Tahquitz Canyon!

***Side note – Admission is $12.50 (well worth it) and the hours vary, so check before you go!

Happy Hiking,

Crystal

The Grand Canyon Deer Farm – Williams, AZ

6 Dec

You have got to go here…The Grand Canyon Deer Farm – Williams, AZ!

Who loves to feed animals?  I do, I do!  And believe me you will to after a visit to this farm.

On a trip to the Grand Canyon a sign for the deer farm appeared like a beacon…taunting me with cute animals and the opportunity to meet Santa’s reindeer.  It had me at “this exit”.

Like he always does, my husband fed into my childlike giddy and headed towards the farm.  When we arrived Santa’s sleigh was right out front and ready for a driver – that’s me!

I was already excited, but little did I know that I was in for so much more fun!  I hurriedly paid the entrance fee (it is worth every penny – well to me at least!)….and then the doors opened!  There were deers everywhere and they are not shy, but not aggressive.  I highly suggest buying feed for them.  Once you do this though you will have tons of friends!  I never laughed so hard as they all headed towards me…

I think I forgot to mention this…the deers are free roaming, so if you or members of your family have a fear of animals this may not be the place for them.

I could have spent hours feeding them…I think we actually did.  Several hours later my husband finally told me that we were out of money (big fat lie) and it was time to go!  Oh by the way there are other animals to see…wallabies, cattle, camels and bison just to name a few – don’t worry these animals are all caged!

The Grand Canyon Deer Farm can be a quick stop or a several hour adventure.  No matter what you choose to do you are in store for unforgettable family fun and laughter.  I am so glad I saw the sign and stopped and I know you will be too!

The farm is located off I40 just one hour south of the Grand Canyon so you literally can not get to the canyon without going here…just kidding! Another great thing about the farm…it has been open since 1969 and is family owned.  I know some may say that this place is hokey, but it is also filled with traditions and wonder that are priceless!

Happy Feeding,

Crystal