Top Gun on Top of Hollywood

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A lot of changes have been happening since we got engaged. The same day Chris popped the big question I had a phone interview with a travel agency. And now as of week ago, I have a new 9-5 job. I get up at the same time every day, no more 4 am shifts, & most importantly, no more spending the entire weekend at work. On top of that, this week we are moving a bigger apartment, so it’s been a lot of change all within the past 6 weeks.

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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

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A few weeks ago, on one of my rare Saturdays off, we headed out to Palm Springs to do a little sightseeing. I haven’t really explored too much of the Palm Springs area besides for when we have gone to Stagecoach… & well, does that really count?? So since it isn’t bloody hot out in the desert yet, we decided to make a day of it & see the sights.

So we got up early & headed out to the dessert. We packed a little lunch & before we actually got out there, we stopped at the outlets. Probably not the best idea since we ended up shopping around for two and a half hours. Oopps. So around 3, when we finally made it to downtown Palm Springs, it was defiantly time for a cocktail.

We stopped at a little Mexican restaurant right in the heart of Palm Springs. Maracas is on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive & Arenas Road & let me tell you, they don’t mess around when it comes to their margaritas or their ceviche. After eating splitting the amazing appetizer & finishing our drinks (mine being a frozen strawberry margarita, the size of my head) we headed toward the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to see the city from above.

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Chris & I knew we wanted to get to the tramway before dark so we could see the view during the day & at night. It was absolutely beautiful. Once we paid the $5 parking fee, we hopped on a little bus to bring us to the Valley Station. Once we bought our tickets, we had to wait for the tramway to take a few trips up & down the mountain a few times before it was our turn to take the trip up.

Now FYI I am terrified of heights, so I was freaking out at the idea of hang thousands of feet above a cliff side to get to the top of an 10,800 foot tall mountain, but it honestly wasn’t as bad as I had expected. And the view was absolutely worth it. Once we got to the top we headed to the lookout spot perched on a peak above the Mountain Station. It was amazing. You could see all of Palm Springs & even part of Cathedral City to the right. Hundreds of rows of wind turbines boarder the city.

After taking our fair share of photos, & soaking in all of city from above, we headed inside to Pines Café, the cafeteria style restaurant that our ride & dine tickets allowed us to eat dinner at. Chris has his usual herb roasted chicken (that he seems to order everywhere we go) & I had BBQ ribs. For an extra $11, the upgrade to the ride & dine tickets were totally worth it. We both had a side salad, corn on the cob, & delicious fingerling potatoes as sides to go with our meals. They even had beer, wine, & sodas to add onto the dinner. After fueling up we headed inside to the little museum to look around.

Next time we head up, we plan on getting there earlier. There are miles of trails behind the Mountain Station that we didn’t get to explore & both really wanted to. Apparently there is even some camp sites you can stay at, but I think I will pass on the whole backpacking & camping part of the adventure.

Next time you are in the Palm Springs area take a few hours to head up the mountain. The entrance to the Aerial Tramway is right by the Palm Springs Visitors Center, & you can’t miss the big sign as you are driving into town. Take some photos & tag me in them on Instagram. (@meggoliver)

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A Day Trip to Catalina Island

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It has been just over a month since my birthday & I think now that I have had time to let it soak in I am ready to accept the fact that in 11 months I will be heading into the next decade. For my birthday, I had my first full weekend off in about 7 weeks so Chris & I were determined to go somewhere. We threw out a lot of ideas, did a little research & decided on somewhere neither of us had been as adults… Catalina Island.

Just over an hour ferry ride off out of Long Beach by 8:30 we were on the island & scouring the shop lined streets for a breakfast place. We ended up at Original Jack’s Country Kitchen, a little dinner on Catalina Ave. in Avalon. A few cups of coffee & the perfect breakfast combinations, with probably some of the best hash browns I have ever had, was the best way to start our day full of exploring & sunshine.

Prior to heading to the island we had purchased tickets to the Skyline Tour that left around 2 in the afternoon & tickets to mini golf, because we had heard that you can’t go to Catalina without mini golfing. So after we walked around the shops & window shopped a little we headed to the mini golf course in the center of town.

After mini golf & a little stop off at Lloyds, the local ice cream parlor, we headed to the tour bus stop to catch our ride to the center of the island.

There are a ton of tours to choose from, & we chose the Skyline tour for a very specific reason… everything else was sold out. This tour was out of control fun though! It’s just over two hours long & brings you to the inland of the island where your stopping point is a small little airport. We took a bus from 1953 (but actually) up the mountain sides of the island, on the skinniest roads I have ever seen. Let me tell you, as a person who is afraid of heights… I was in tears at some points. But once I got used to the possibility that that may be my final day on earth if the bus goes over the edge, I was able to enjoy the amazing views & the crazy amount of facts that the tour guide was feeding us. (And hey, if we did go over at least I wouldn’t have to worry about making it to 30.)

We saw gorgeous view of little coves full of everything from campgrounds to beach clubs & even a 5 part zip line. We saw indigenous species of plants to the island, & even species of plants & animals that have adapted to the island, changing over time. The coolest sites of all though, was the Catalina Island bison. In the 1920s a small heard of buffalo were brought over to the island to be part of a silent movie they were filming. The story says that the after shooting wrapped the film crew didn’t wrangle the buffalo allowing them to stay on the island. They are some of the animals that have since adapted to their surroundings, changing over time. We were able to spot one of these during our trip.

After our tour we stopped in at a steak house right on Crescent Ave, across from the beach to hang out before our boat ride home. We ended up sitting at Steve’s Steakhouse for three hours drinking wine, talking to the owner of the restaurant & bar tender, & enjoying some of the most delicious seafood we have had in a long time. I had their swordfish skewers while Chris enjoyed amazing shrimp scampi over garlic toast. Literally I would go back to the island just for that.

Overall the day away was something we totally needed. It was a great day just to get away, the two of us, from work, from home & go explore somewhere neither of us had really been to. We definitely left the island planning a ton more trips to Catalina, packed with a lot of adventures. We will keep you posted on our next trip to the island but for now, enjoy some of our photos from the day.

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