Why go on a cruise?

Why go on a cruise?
As somebody who loves to travel and also frequently talks to other travelers, the general opinion of  that cruises are boring and that though you are technically traveling, you don’t ever actually “experience” the places you go. So if you love to travel, why take one?

1. Easy to plan with large groups
Cruises are by far the easiest vacation to plan, they already provide for you lodging, meals, entertainment, and options for things to do ashore.  Essentially, no matter the group you’re going with, there’s something for everyone and all you have to organize is your flight from various places to get there. 

2. It’s relaxing
This goes hand in hand with how easy to plan stuff is. You can spend 10+ hours in a lounge chair reading if you want to! Parents? There’s a kid care where your kids still have supervised fun but you still get to relax! There’s no where you really have to be so relax all you want! 
Our balcony room on the Carnival Magic 

3. Experience multiple islands to decide which ones you might be interested visiting more later
Here is one that I think should really be mentioned to the travel snobs who think they’re too good for cruises. (You can use this argument if you need to) Yes you only have a day or even less in ports, but have you spent 5 days at a beach resort on an island? It’s the same idea if you want to do anything interesting on the island, you end up taking excursions/ tours. Most smaller Caribbean islands quite fairly can be explored in a day as well and don’t need a full week. By taking a cruise you get snap shots of different islands and from there you can decide if there is more to do and see to require a full on visit at a future date. 

4. It’s a foodie’s paradise
And I can’t say this enough really… but my favorite parts of a cruise are relaxing and… EATING! The dining rooms provide breakfast and dinners with multiple courses and options every day! For lunch, most ships have a multitude of specialized food stands along with a buffet line. Example of fine dining for me: 
Breakfast: Brulee’d grapefruit, coffee, pineapple juice, a croissant, Omelet and or Avocado Toast, finished with a vanilla French toast. 
For lunch options we’d enjoy burritos/ tacos, Guy Ferreri’s sponsored burgers and/ or BBQ, and pizza! 
For dinner, back to sit down we’d get a soup (hot or chilled), another small appetizer, then salmon/prime rib/ lobster/ shrimp pastas/ or special “port of call” delicacies, and for dessert the crowning jewel: Baked Alaska or cheesecakes, and so many other options. Then you add in 24/7 pizza and ice cream cones for a midnight snack… you may gain pounds but you’ll never eat as well as you do on a cruise.
5. Great entertainment 
From karaoke, piano bars, big production shows, trivia nights, shopping specials, art auctions, bingo, small live music everywhere, and standup comedy… cruise ships are built to entertain.
On days at sea you have so many different choices of entertainment, be it specific kid activities, pools, water slides and splash pads, exercising, ropes courses, mini golf/ deck games, trivia games inside, gambling, sleeping, and my favorite: eating. Every evening there’s a movie on the lido deck under the stars, a large production show in the theater, and comedians doing standup comedy. 
Every. Evening.
Braden scoring one for his team while playing basketball somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean

6. Awesome Value for everything
Awesome value (most of the time)- If you aren’t traveling over a holiday, they really can be a steal. (just not if you plan on drinking… seriously that’s where they make their money.) This is particularly a great way to vacation if you live near a cruise port as well and don’t have to buy flights. (I would cruise way more if I didn’t have to fly to a port) 
While most of the time cruises are priced low, if you wish to travel during holiday seasons, the prices will be higher. (although not any higher than traveling other places)
They can be crowded ( again especially around holidays or on new ships). Even on the Carnival Magic at full capacity I didn’t feel terribly crowded. We just ate in the dining room more to avoid the buffet lines on the lido deck and made sure to get up early enough to snag some lounge chairs.
Shore excursions are limited time, expensive, and can be underwhelming. Counter argument here is to skip the excursion and explore the port, take a taxi, or book an adventure with a local company. (just be aware of your port times and what you realistically have time for)
Maybe not for those with motion sickness. Tip: use a motion sickness patch or non drowsy pill. Also book your stateroom on a lower deck towards the center of the ship.

Avoid Hurricane season (late summer) if possible and if looking at touring Alaska, the Mediterranean, or destinations further North, book during the warmest months for those sites to ensure you will get quality time in the sun on the deck. 

Non edited/ filtered view of the sunset from our private balcony

Which cruise line to choose? 
Carnival: Very family friendly with awesome kid care activities, fun deck amenities, foods, and larger state rooms. Not to mention one of the friendliest to the budget so if paying for more family members, this goes a long way.
Princess Cruises: The older adult crowd but still fairly budget friendly. This cruise line is also owned by Carnival, specializes in longer cruises, and includes activities like cooking classes and even history lectures. (So.. not the most kid friendly)
Royal Caribbean: Another budget/ family friendly option- a toss up when it comes to which is better, but from what I’ve heard and read- carnival offers a lot more entertainment nightly than Royal Caribbean.
Disney Cruises: Over priced for the value but if you LOVE Disney (particualarly love Disney characters) than this might be for you. Excelllent entertainment but food and service wise- not really any better than the cheaper options.
Holland America: Rated one of the best for service with 1 member of staff for every 2-3 guests. This cruise line has some family friendly ships and some that are more adult oriented. Just make sure you check out the type of ship when you’re booking. Food and entertainment were not rated any higher than other cruise lines.
Celebrity Cruises– The highest rated cruise line for entertainment, service, food, overall value. I have no personal experience or know anyone that has been on one but I have eyed a few of their Mediterranean itineraries.
Whichever line you go with, (try to get a private balcony) explore online what the cruise ship has to offer as far as included dining and entertainment before you book so you know if it will fit with your family’s idea of fun. There’s definitely a cruise out there for everyone.

100 Hike Challenge


Why 100? Why hiking? Well let’s just say I have a favorite hobby, and that hobby is hiking. I love the feeling at piece with nature, the exercise from climbing up hills, the general sense of adventure in seeing new places AND having those places to yourself, and lastly the people in the hiking community! I really love it all (even if I still complain on the steeper trails)

How to accomplish the 100 hike challenge

  • If you haven’t tried the 52 hike challenge yet, give that a go! It aims at getting you to hike once a week for a year. (I was hitting the goal easily by October every year so I wanted to push myself even more and aim for 2/week) 
  • They don’t all have to be hard hikes! My only requirement for myself was that it was a mile long and got me out in nature (no urban hikes ) and I tried to make them as different as I could but with changing seasons, the same trail can look many different ways. 
  • DO try to use this challenge to get a little out of your comfort zone! Whether this takes you to hiking in a different state or to a different hobby, you might find some more outdoor enthusiasm when you find you like hiking to a climbing spot or a technical canyon. 
  • Do use this challenge to see some new places! It doesn’t have to be a different hike every time, but it won’t seem like quite a chore to hike twice a week if you are finding and experiencing new trails. 
  • Which brings me to- ALLTRAILS amazingly helpful app, highly recommend to exploring the trails near you, as well as using the trail map while hiking to ensure you don’t get lost.
  • Invest in some quality outdoor gear, especially shoes! It can be a bit of a process finding hiking shoes that fit just right (speaking from experience of seemingly always having he wrong footwear) so I highly recommend stores like REI which have 365 day gear guarantees! So you can actually WEAR those shoes hiking and return them if they aren’t the best fit. 
  • Highly recommend using a location tracker app like endomondo or strata as well, to track your progress on a trail and at the end know exactly how you did! I love being able to show the stats to my coworkers Monday morning to show just how crazy of a weekend climbing mountains I had. 
  • Last but not least, practice “Leave No Trace”, take nothing but photos, and leave nothing but footprints. 

If you need ideas for hikes out West, in Florida, or amazing international spots, check out my list (and photos of course!) of all 100 hikes I completed in 2018.

Color code is for anything that wasn’t a hike close by in my backyard: Some hikes have links to a blog post! Will link more as I blog about my favorite trails.

National Parks

Bryce Canyon
Capitol Reef
Grand Tetons National Park
Grand Canyon


The Unities States
The Philippines


State Parks/ Monuments/ Reservations
Goblin Valley
Escalante- The Grand Staircase
Florida Caverns State Park
Falling Water State park
Valley of Fire
Havasupai Indian Reservation
Antelope Island
Wasatch Mountain State Park

Hikes 1-25
1. Curly Springs Overlook via Dry Canyon 2.5 miles RT 800 feet elevation change
2. Battle Creek Falls 1.5 miles RT 600 feet
3. Jacks Mailbox 2.7 miles RT 1300 feet
4. Rock Canyon to the campground 4.7 miles RT 1370 feet
5. Adams Canyon waterfall 4 miles RT 1400 feet

6. Little Wildhorse- Bells Canyon loop 9.8 miles RT 1700 feet

7. Pleasant Grove “G” trail 2.2 miles RT 800 feet
8. Upper Falls from Nunn’s Park, 3.2 miles, 600 feet
9. The Provo “Y” trail 2 miles RT, 1000 feet
10. Trail of the Eagle, 4 miles RT 600 feet
11. Bonneville Shoreline between Grove Creek and BC, 1.5 miles RT 300 feet
12. Rocky Mouth Falls 1 mile RT, 200 feet
13. Traverse Mountain Ridge, 3 miles
14. Mt Tapyas in Coron, 1,5 miles RT, 700 feet

15. Badian Canyoneering in Cebu, 2.5 miles RT

16. Osmena Peak on Cebu, 1 mile RT, 400 feet
17. Grove Creek, 4.5 miles RT 1600 feet
18. Dry Canyon Orem to overlook, 2 miles RT- 550 feet
19. Hurricane Wash to Jacob Hamblin Arch – 7.7 miles 1 way, 500 feet

20. Jacob Hamblin Arch to Stephen’s Arch- 17.5 miles RT, 1000 feet
21. JHA back to Hurrican Wash TH- 7.7 miles 500 feet

22. Backpack in to Reflection Canyon, 9 miles 800 feet
23. Backpack out of Reflection Canyon, 9ish miles 800 feet

24. Horsetail Falls, 5 miles RT, 1600 feet
25. The Living Room of SLC, 3 miles RT, 900 feet
Hikes 1-25: 112.5 miles, roughly 22,700 feet of elevation change 

Hikes 26-50

26. Bells Canyon to lower waterfall, 5 miles RT 1630 feet
27. Twin Peaks from alternate trailhead, 3.5 miles RT, 1000 feet
28. Grandeur Peak, 8 miles RT, 3000 feet
29. Traverse Mountain Summit- 3 miles RT, 540 feet
30. Battle Creek Falls further up trail- 3 miles RT, 1000 feet
31. Sunglow Canyon- 3.5 RT, 1200 feet
32. Florida State Park compilation- 2 miles 

33. Horsetail Falls Work club lead- 5 miles, 1600 feet
34. Spring in Big Springs loop! 3 miles RT, 500 feet
35. Orem Big Baldy Summit (attempt), 5.5 miles 2400 feet
36. SLC foothills secret sunset spot hike, 3 miles RT 700 feet
37. Pine Hollow trail, 5.5 RT, 1600 feet
38. Heugh’s Canyon Waterfall, 3 RT, 1200 feet

39. Fire Wave, 1.5 RT
40. White Domes Loop/ Rainbow Vista trail, 3 miles
41. Tibble Fork Loop 5.6 RT 1600 feet
42. Lake Blanche 7.5 RT 2600 feet
43. Julie Andrews Meadow 4 RT, 1000 feet
44. Diamond Fork Hot Springs, 5 RT, 636 feet
45. Hilltop to Supai campground, 10 one way, 2500 feet
46. Campground to Navajo and general waterfall exploration, 2 RT

47. Havasu to Mooney, 2 RT
48. Supai Campground back up to hilltop 10 one way 2500 feet
49. False Kiva Trail 2.5 RT 170 feet and Mesa Arch, .6 RT
50. Corona Arch 3 miles RT 650 feet
Hikes 26-50: 109.1 miles, roughly 25,526 feet of elevation change 

Hikes 51-75

51. Delicate Arch 3.5 RT 590 feet

52. Negro Bill/ Grandstaff Caynon 5.3 RT 1700 feet

53. Grotto Falls Payson 1 RT
54. Wind Caves in Logan 4 RT , 1100 feet
55. Twin Peaks from main TH 3.75 RT 980 feet
56. Cassidy Arch CR 3.5 RT 1000 feet

57. Hickman Bridge CR 2 RT, 320 feet

58. Little Wild Horse Slot 3 RT

59. Willow Heights Lake 1.5 RT 650 feet
60. PC Hill 1.5 RT 518 feet
61. Wolverine Cirque Loop 8 RT 2,350 feet
62. Bald Mountain Uintas 4 miles RT, 1300 feet
63. Taggart Lake GTN 3.8 RT 400 feet

64. Delta Lake GTN 8.5 RT 2600 feet

65. String Lake/ Leigh Lake loop GTN 3.75 RT 182 feet

66. Maybird Gulch lake 8 RT 2000 Feet
67. Aspen Grove Waterfalls 3.5 RT 700 feet 
68. Bourbon Lake and Mirror lake loop combined 3.5 RT
69. Sunset Peak via Brighton 6.5 RT 2000 feet 
70. Tibble Fork lakeshore loop 1.5 RT
71. Buffalo Peak 3 RT 850 feet *
72. Mt. Superior loop 4 miles, 4,424 feet
73. Sugarloaf Peak 5 RT 1700 feet
74. Battle Creek Falls baby hike 2 RT
75. The Great Wall Jingshanling section 6 miles point to point – no idea on elevation change but it was  ALOT
Hikes 51-75: 100.1 miles, roughly 25,362 feet of elevation change 
Hikes 76-100

76. Huangshan Mountain (HM) West Sea North trail 4.5 point to point up 700 feet, down 1300

77. H.M. West Sea South trail – Fairy Bridge 7 miles RT 1000 feet 

78. H.M. Western Steps DOWN 8.3 miles point to point, Up 1300 feet, then down 3500 feet

79. Clayton Peak 4.5 mile loop 1700 feet
80. Dog Lake (Milcreek side) 6.5 RT 1200 feet
81. BC- GC loop 8.5 loop 2700 feet 
82. Gordon Creek Waterfall 2.5 RT
83. Carbon County trail exploring 1.5 RT
84. Big Springs Loop Fall! 3 mile loop 500 feet
85. Stewart Falls 3.5 RT, 650 feet
86. Queens Garden- Navajo Loop BCNP 3 mile loop , 625 feet 

87. Grand Canyon NR-SR 24 miles point to point 5800 feet down, 4400 feet up

88. Silver Lake AF canyon 6 miles RT 1400 feet

89. Ensign Peak 1 mile RT, 400 feet

90. Diamond Fork Hotsprings Fall edition,  5 miles RT 630 feet

91. Frary Peak on Antelope Island 7 RT, 2100 feet 

92. Nagah Canyon Capitol Reef – 2.3 mile loop 600 feet 

93. Herriman Fire Memorial Hill trail 3.5 RT, 900 feet

94. Upper Stair Canyon, 2.4 mile loop 500 feet
95. Shillelagh Canyon Right Fork 2 mile loop, 400 feet
96. Spanish Fork Cross/ Dominquez Hill 2.2 RT 360 feet *
97. Squaw Peak 8.6 RT, 3000 feet
98. Angel Cove Slot (both forks) 5 miles RT, at least 1600 feet

99. Shillelagh Canyon Left Fork 2.6 mile loop, 500 feet
100. Dutch Hollow Midway 4.5 mile loop 580 feet 

Hikes 76-100: 129 miles, roughly 36,445 feet of elevation change 

1 year= 450.7 TOTAL MILES around 110,000 feet of elevation change  (roughly)