5 Best Things to Do in Aruba

What to Pack, See, Do in Aruba

When traveling to the One Happy Island there are a few things you need to know.

  1. On your Departing Flight you will want to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours early. You will go through local AND U.S. customs in Aruba before boarding your flight home.
  2. While Aruba is very developed and you can use your credit/debit card in lots of places, dealing in cash is quicker and much more convenient. Yes, they take U.S dollars.
  3. Aruba is actually one of the safest Caribbean islands in more than one way. It is rated as a Level 1 on the Travel Advisory. This just means to use normal precautions while traveling. Also, it is located south of the hurricane belt which means, no hurricanes! Well, very rarely anyways. The last one was a Level 2 in 2007 that caused minor damage.

Just like every travel destination, there are several MUST DO experiences in Aruba! We have set out to give you a guide to help you plan your own trip to the Happy Island!

5 Things You MUST See and Do in Aruba

1. Hit Up the Beaches!

              The beaches in Aruba are bar none better than any beach we have ever been to. In our last post we talked a little about Eagle Beach and Baby Beach, but we really wanted to make a special note that you should definitely carve out time during your stay to lie on any beach and soak in the sun.

  We recommend Eagle Beach for soft sifted sand and beautifully clear water. Some days, the waves were pretty exciting. There were only very strong swimmers out at these times when the waves began to pick up. This is the beach where our room was located. If it hadn’t been for our exploring minds, we could have easily lounged on this beach the entire week not seeking for anything else. It has everything a perfect beach day could offer. While the beach is hot, of course, Aruba’s wind makes being outside all day very comfortable.

  Baby Beach, located on the southern end of the island in San Nicolas, AKA Chocolate City, is a beautiful lagoon for shallow snorkeling and easy swimming.This is a perfect place for children, hence the name Baby Beach. Big Mama Grill is located on the end where you can purchase food or rent chairs and snorkel equipment. We decided to simply lay out towels under a mangrove of trees and spend most of our time in the water. There is a spot farther out away from the lagoon that has a warning sign for strong swimmers only. Of course, Hilary had to check it out with her snorkel gear. There were tons of tropical fish so close she could reach out and touch them.

2. Take an ATV Tour Through the Desert

               We booked an ATV tour with KiniKini Tours that allowed us to see several signature spots in Aruba. We loaded up on the ATV’s, which you can ride single rider or double, and we recommend that you ride single. We started riding through the town on paved roads admiring the homes and everyday life. However, once you get into the desert, the ride is rough and dusty. This only added to the thrill for us, but with two riders it can become uncomfortable after a while. You will also want a bandana or a cloth face shield of some sort to keep the dust out of all your lovely orifices. We purchased ours for 15 bucks a piece! Save yourself some money and bring one from home! Also, make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting dirty.

 On our tour we got to visit a Catholic chapel on the hill still in use, an old Gold Mill ruin, a natural land bridge, and a natural pool! All of the spots were interesting and beautiful in their own way. Unexpectedly, the views between the rides were just as pleasing. To the right, desert landscape full of cacti. To the left, cliffs with waves crashing. It was simply stunning. The highlight of the tour was absolutely the Natural Pool. After walking down what seemed like 300 steps, you come to a clearing. Just behind slippery rocks that you have to climb over and slide yourself into the pool. The current was strong here, as well. The pool is surrounded by huge bouldering rocks that are blocking huge crashing waves. This was worth the work to get here.

 We decide to swim over to the very distant edge to get an Insta worthy pic. About that time, the biggest wave of the day crashes over the rocks and onto our heads submerging us underwater. Off we go! The current takes us on a wild ride, when the second biggest wave of the day hits us. It certainly gave us quite the thrill and certainly no Instagram worthy picture for us. Back up the 300 steps we go!

3. Tour Oranjestad

Oranjestad is this lovely island’s capital city, and it is where you will fly in and out of Aruba. We spent one morning walking around the city. We found it to be unique because of the mix of cultures which include the indigenous people of the island, Spanish, Africans, and Dutch, just to name a few. The architecture is all different, as well, with touches of Dutch flavor since they are a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There are tons of places to stop and eat. We saw food trucks, restaurants on the water,  and elegant fine dining. We could do an entire post about food. As a matter of fact, we will. Also, a variety of shopping is everywhere. We stopped at the local markets and browsed the high end retailers. Our favorite store: the local grocery store.

Transportation to explore consist of rental cars, cabs, and the trolley. We decided to walk, but the trolley would have been a nice option. It is free, after all, and begins at the cruise ship terminal at 10:00 AM. It runs downtown, and the doubledecker offers great views.

4. Explore Chocolate City

 As we have mentioned above, San Nicolas is on the southeastern portion of the island. The locals of the city have nicknamed it Chocolate City because they are proud of who they are and where they come from, and rightfully so. This city will fill your artistic and eclectic soul with culture and appreciation of the roots in Aruba. This is where our friend, Jermaine, is from. Had it not been for him, we would have had no idea what San Nicolas is all about. With that said, if you visit here, we ask to please be respectful and courteous as this is not a very touristy location. This is where people live and celebrate their everyday life. It’s a colorful, vibrant place with restaurants and art galleries to wander into.

Strolling around downtown, the first thing that stood out to us were the murals. OH MY GOODNESS, THE MURALS! The buildings are covered with the most beautiful realistic paintings. They are all spray painted by the locals. Truly, jaw dropping skills here.

We can’t forget to mention San Nicolas is also home to one of the best Carnival celebrations in the world! This takes place around the time of Ash Wednesday usually in February or March. But, if you can’t make it at that time, they also have festivals every Thursday night in the months June through December. This consist of everything from food to crafts to performers to just plain culture.

We would like to state, we headed home before dark, ‘nuff said. That was just our judgement call.

5. Nightlife

After spending the day on the beach, or exploring nature, or wandering through an artsy city you might want to get cleaned up and go out on the town. We try to try out the night life everywhere we go, like we have mentioned before, we have exploring minds and just had to find out what was out there! There is a section called the High Rise area. There are restaurants, places to hang out, and laid back bars located here. We began walking the J.E. Irausquin Boulevard in Palm Beach where we found this lovely food boutique named, Picnic. This place was gorgeous. We quickly became friends with the bartenders there. They were so friendly and answered any questions we had about their life in Aruba and then some. After some time there, we were ready for some dancing. Our new friends sent us over to Gusto Night Club Aruba.

We passed a lot of interesting places you could dip into if you wanted, but our dancing shoes were on. We pushed forward to Gusto’s. This was our place. They had an inside bar with air conditioning that played Caribbean Dance music mixed with American rap. The room opened to the front area that was covered but felt like you were more outside. We danced, we laughed, we experienced.

Aruba was a place of fun and friends for us two cousins. It hit all of our travel senses: relaxation, adventure, culture, art, excitement, and food. Stay tuned for our next post: The Tastes of Aruba!

One Happy Island

Some would say that the happiest place in the world would be Walt Disney World, but Aruba may argue it’s actually their 69 square mile island! Known as “One Happy Island”, the desert like landscape makes for a great playground! We were granted the opportunity to travel with some friends on this trip. We have traveled just us two, with all of our immediate family, and now we are extending our traveling posse to some friends. The more the merrier! Come one, Come all, to the Hilary and Rachel travelling extravaganza! A condo with Hilary and Rachel and Caitlyn and Matthew and Shelby and Zach is bound to look like a circus moved to town.

We want to start this post by saying that no matter where you are in the world, surrounding yourself with good people is the key. We had a blast spending a week with these folks. Some old friends met some new friends, and we all enjoyed spending our days and nights on the island together. While we think everyone should travel by themselves on occasion, getting to share the experiences and creating memories together builds a lifetime bond! Obviously, traveling with a larger group makes things like going potty or getting all showered up for dinner a little more tricky (que Mr. RUN MC here), but it was nothing a little poo pourri and paper rock scissors couldn’t handle.

We started the week on the Happy Island by checking out the condo! We were perfectly located on the edge of Eagle Beach. Check out our view from the image above. We were proudly told by locals, Eagle Beach just so happens to be ranked in the top 3 best beaches in the world! RIGHTFULLY SO!  The beach was sifted soft sand. Where the waves washed and crashed, the sand felt almost like memory foam as your feet sank into the wet sand. Then, once you submerge yourself into the blue water, it’s almost like a looking glass. Standing in chest deep water you could easily count all ten toes! Pristinely clear, it allowed for an easy going mind knowing that you could visualize the sea monsters if they decided to swim anywhere close by. However, the whole week we never saw any underwater animals here on Eagle Beach. It made floating and frailing and swimming very relaxing!

We also made our way to a local beach on the other side of the island called Baby Beach. Baby beach has all the snorkeling! The water is much calmer here, and the fruity colored fish love all the corals and reefs! The beach has beautiful mangroves that provide the perfect shade. You can also rent tents, chairs, and snorkeling gear during the day. It is about a forty dollar taxi ride from where we were on the opposite side of the island in Oranjestad, but lucky for us we got to make more than one trip there because we were graced with the presence of a friend from home who had all the connections. Our friend Jermaine, whom we have hung out with a ton in the states, actually grew up in Aruba. He took the time to fly on down, visit with his family, and made it his mission to ensure we got the insight to all Aruba had to offer! We really appreciated his expertise and hospitality! Because of him, we got to try some local fruit, we ate at two local restaurants that are not easily found on the web, we learned about what it meant to be above the bridge and below the bridge, how the oil refinery was bombed in WWII, what it was like going to school there, their healthcare system, and SO MUCH MORE! It was nice to hear how Aruba takes care of their people, providing healthcare and education to their citizens was impressive to the healthcare professional and the educator!

This trip was unique in many ways to us. The most notable difference being that we traveled with friends instead of family this time around. The world of Rachel’s friends got to collide with the world of Hilary’s friends when we all went out together one night. The night began as a sophisticated and classy night…keep reading to find out if it ended the same way!

We began our night with a wonderfully magical dinner on the beach at sunset! Located just down from Eagle beach was Passions. An elegant beach side restaurant serving 5 star meals. Matthew, Caitlyn, and ourselves splurged here for dinner because who doesn’t love dinner with such a wonderful view? We all shared a bottle of wine, inappropriately loud laughs and comments, a few slow dances, a succulent meal, and of course dessert with a huge sparkler! You should know we made it through this dinner relatively unscathed. With only a few side glances, we managed to all act like adults…for the most part! We started a myriad of picture taking on the beach. We were the first to get out there to capture the beauty of the sunset and our friendships here! It was not long before the rest of the Passions going folks were taking their glamour shots, as well! What can we way? We were trendsetters that night. After our meal and photo shoot, we headed out for the night!

Matthew, and Caitlyn, and now Jermaine all loaded up with the Carryon Cousins for a night out on the town! We had ventured off to an area just north of where we were staying in the “Low Rise” area. This section was full of smaller condos and bungalow type villas where people rented. The area we traveled to was called the “High Rise” . This is where the larger and some of the all inclusive hotels and condos were located. There were several streets here lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Our lovely Matthew was the life of the party this night! We found this adorable food boutique called “Picnic” located in the turn of the street. With pretty lights, and a perfectly boutique color scheme we stopped in for their $5 Cocktail Happy Hour!

It was a smaller venue, and we all filled the place up! Not only did we take most of the seats at the bar, but we filled the place with our laughs and our outrageous personalities! The bartenders there shared with us some local history, some tips and tricks, and our bloodstreams with all the happy hour deals! As the night drifted on, we found our way to another place where the vibes where bumping with bass and a little bump and grind!!! The bar GUSTO hadn’t known what had hit them…and neither did Matthew 😉 The bar was recommended to us by the bartenders at picnic. We told them we had on our dancing shoes (JK, all the girls had on high heels! What were we thinking?) They happily obliged us with this recommendation, and they did not disappoint! We spent our time and money here for sure! We danced the night away, but we knew when Matthew was trying to dance in the streets, our night was coming to an end! Rachel’s shoes had made their way off, Hilary had mysteriously lost a toenail, Caitlyn held it together, and together they held Matthew out the window on the ride home. All the while, Jermaine had ensured all of our well beings……Tuesday night in Aruba had treated us well!

Our friend from Picnic who gave us lots of good places to visit. Pro tip: Listen! Never stop listening to the locals. You can always learn so much from them.

This night was one of our favorites on the island, not because of the drinks or the dancing, but because there were five of us, out in another country spending time together and having a ball! We all come from entirely different walks of life. None of us where in the same career paths, none of us live in the same city back home, yet none of our differences mattered that night. At the beginning of this trip a few of us had only met once or twice, some of us had never met at all, and some of us have known each other our whole lives. It was so unique to get to meet and greet with new and old friends. Seeing how we all meshed and vibed was going to be an adventure in itself, and it was an adventure all its own! I think everyone was cautious the first couple of days, learning everyone’s habits and what not, but by the end of the trip we felt like a small little family. Like we had spent a summer with them pretending to be on The Real World or The Jersey Shore! We are so thankful to our friends for making this trip so special to us! They were perfect roomies because everyone was not afraid to venture out and do their own thing! We all went on different excursions and we all did one together, as well! We ate and cooked and cleaned all at different times throughout the week. We didn’t feel like we had to be hip to hip throughout the entire week. We felt we found the perfect balance between being together and being independent enough not to drive each other batty by the end of the trip!

It was the perfect harmony, or maybe it was just the air in Aruba that made us all happy! It was hard to be angry with the crystal clear water and the larger than life ocean breeze that kept you cool being so close to the sun. As Hilary said “It is AMAZING how hot it is here!” We all learned this one way or the other. Whether at the beginning of the week or at the end everyone of us wound up a little toasted and roasted at some point throughout the trip, but Cailtyn was the lifesaver who bought the burn aid and aloe! We would like to add that one of Aruba’s exports is aloe! There is a big difference in their sun AND their aloe vera! The burn aid and lotion combo they sold locally really made a big difference! We 10 out of 10 recommend you get some while you’re there! Or you can even order you some now at this link, here!

Despite our burns, we really did enjoy our time exploring the whole island. We even enjoyed just walking downtown! Looking in all the shops, and stores, seeing what all they offered at the local grocery store was a lot of fun. We want everyone to experience the love of travel that we do! We want you to enjoy reading about our adventures and helping create your own! This trip we are going to throw something new at ya! We are going to make a travel guide! What to pack, what to see, what to do, and where to eat! We are going to give you all those tips and tricks FO’ FREE! So, if you are interested in Aruba, you will definitely want to stay tuned! We will want all the feedback, so please leave your love, questions, and comments for us here or on our instagram!!

Thigh Gap…wait…Stephens Gap Cave

We are coming back to you after a couple of weeks of no blog posts!

Update: WE ARE STILL TIRED…. then we got sick… and life happened.

BUT, WE ARE BACK!

We want to know, do yall ever just get in a rut? Do you ever just feel yucky? We know that we certainly do. It seems like things never end with work and life, but we found a way to come back! Sometimes you just have to push yourself through to the next event, to the next moment, to the next chapter in your life! This weekend was our breakthrough.

As you all know, we love to be outside, but we have been a little under the weather for a while. We could tell we had been missing the great outdoors. We had heard of a place right in our own backyard in Woodville, Alabama, called Stephen’s Gap. We saw this place on a fellow Instagrammer’s page and knew we had to go! AND WE HAD TO GO SOON! Yet, it rained every weekend for three weekends straight. This was the weekend it finally happened!

Some important information to know about Stephen’s Gap is that it is a protected preserve, so you have to go to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy’s website to get your free permit. It is really simple and easy to do. There are so many caves in our area that we had no idea even existed, and we obviously have plans to visit many of them this summer!

The directions to Stephens Gap are practically two turns. We have passed this place hundreds of times and had no idea it existed! The trail is about a mile and a half long. The notable thing is that you actually hike up on a slight incline on the way to the cave, which is nice because on your way out after spelunking around in the cave, your trek back to the car is easy and downhill! This is not very typical of hiking here in North Alabama. Usually, you hike down into a gorge or valley. Following, you have to hike up on the way out, which can make the hikes more physically demanding.

We learned a lot on this hike. Just about halfway into it, we learned that you should always bring toilet paper with you when you’re in the woods where there is no indoor plumbing for miles. 🙂 We also learned that hiking post sickness, our stamina was very low. We had hiked at a pretty steady pace for about thirty minutes when we began to feel quite the fatigue. Out of breath and quite frankly frustrated with ourselves, we seriously just contemplated turning around. We knew the next little bit of our hike was going to take some leg work as the incline increased significantly.

But, just like in life, we knew if we turned around and quit we would regret it. AND WOULDN’T YOU KNOW…. It wasn’t but about 5 more minutes of hiking, WE MADE IT TO THE CAVE! Life lesson here for ya folks: DO NOT GIVE UP! You never know what is just around the corner, or just over the hill!

We were no longer out of breath from hiking, but we were gasping at the beauty that was before us! A HUGE hole in the ground that was all-encompassing of the rainfall from the weeks before! We stopped here to gaze at the sights and have a little snack we had packed with us in our handy dandy backpack we got from The Glacier Company. You can use the link to find one for yourself. If you use the code “carryon” you’ll get yourself a nice little discount as well … After tempting the edges of fate, we peered into the vast cave as much as we dared before we decided to just climb on down inside of the belly of the beast!

It was a slippery slope! As we began our descent, we could feel the temperature cool quickly. The rocks were wet, and the mud was super slippery. We stayed low to keep our balance. Any of you have read our previous post know that we are a little prone to sliding down. We eased and slowly lowered ourselves into the earth.

There was a picturesque rock that we were determined to get ourselves on, but it took some thought and some trial and error to get to it! Hilary tried first, then Rachel tried another way. It was the third time that was the charm, but it was definitely not easy… or safe at all, really. BUT,  WE DID IT! After making it onto the rock, our laughs echoed into the cave walls. Rachel was soaking wet and muddy and barefoot and bleeding…. Hilary looked like she descended from Hiking Heaven with no mud, no sweat, and perfectly dry hiking boots. We keep telling you… we are perfectly matched opposites. We both wanted on the rock so bad we could taste it. We just took two entirely different approaches to get there. Rachel wallowed, climbed, and rolled around; Hilary took very calculated and perfectly placed footsteps to achieve the goal. Another life lesson: It does not matter how you get there, as long as you work to reach your goals, you will be successful!

We had taken in all the sights, splashed in the water, climbed all the rocks, and decided our time here in the cave was coming to an end. It was wonderful to take in the cool air and feel the cold rushing water. We felt accomplished. We felt our bodies needed the physical activity after being kept in the house for so long. It was a good day.

We climbed our way out of middle earth and started back down the trail. We laughed and reminisced about our amazing weekend. Rachel was leading the way out, head down, listening to Hilary tell a wonderfully risque story when Rachel not so calmly interrupted her with the word, “SNAKE!!!!!”

About three footsteps ahead, a snake slithered across the trail. No questions were asked. We both started HIGH STEPPING It back the other direction. This was all the while Hilary was screaming, “IS IT A BLACK RACER?! IS IT CHASING US?! THEY ARE SO FAST!  RACHEL, IS IT CHASING US?!!”

Rachel could not help but just ignore everything Hilary said until she knew they were a good thirty yards away and out of harm’s way! Then we both just started laughing uncontrollably. It never fails, no matter where we go together, there is always going to be memories we made forever!

After picking up a stick and braving our way back down the trail to see if Mr. Snakey had slithered out of the way, we found ourselves safely back at our car. A day of hiking was in the books. And now… our next stop…. ARUBA!

No Wet, No Fun

The Carry On Cousins go INTERNATIONAL! Just when we thought the world was not ready for us… the world quickly showed us we were not ready for it! This was a life changing experience for us in so many ways. We learned so much in just a short week. We learned about another culture, different food, different landscape, different people, and even about ourselves. As we embarked on this journey through Jamaica we were thinking about you guys, our readers, and how we could capture our beautiful moments in order to allow you to see what you could expect if you ever visited there.

So, we are prefacing our next few post with this statement: Our writing and pictures will never even almost live up to what we experienced. We will not be able to deliver to you the taste, the sounds, the sights, or the emotions we experienced. We ask you to read our post with one purpose, and that purpose is to help you book your next trip. It does not have to be to Jamaica, but you have to travel. You have to go and experience something new in your life.

Now, let us begin with the fact that an international flight is an experience all of its own. TSA can be scary, but we promise if our Momma’s can do it, you can too! 🙂 Hilary and Becky flew to Jamaica and got the party started on Saturday. Rachel and Susie followed closely behind arriving on Sunday. Our meeting in the lobby looked as if we had not seen each other in years. When it had only been the weekend before that we were sitting on the front porch laughing that the next time we saw each other would be in another country. Needless to say, it was the longest week of our lives!

After everyone was accounted for in Jamaica, we got a slow relaxing start. We got situated in our rooms and then quickly made sure we got our money’s worth from the all inclusive package! However, we must admit, day one we were not in the best head space. It is almost shameful to admit that we were in a new country on a trip we had been looking so forward to, yet we were still feeling a bit down and out. Honestly, there were Itty bitty bikinis and abs walking around everywhere it seemed, and by the end of the night we found ourselves throwing a pity party on the beach by ourselves. The beach was empty and we were just sitting there talking over our own insecurities. We were talking about fears and how our life may not turn out the way we thought it would. We think it is important to note that while in the pictures we are all smiles, there were definitely tears on this trip. We want you all to know that we often experience this on night one of our travels. It is almost like we experience a little bit of culture shock in a way. This is the residual effect of pushing oneself out of the comfort zone. It was not that we were sad and depressed but rather, a little uncomfortable in our new place. However, whether it is tears or the ocean, the salt water is the key to healing.

And with that notion, we did some self validation and began to say how thankful we were to have this opportunity. We began to talk about how we were going to try and make this the best trip EVER and….. just about that time, there was a loud POP of a champagne bottle behind us in the distance. This beautiful couple was having a private catered dinner behind us. We two single ladies rolled our eyes so far back into our heads and just laughed until we cried. The irony of the situation was undeniable. Our life is a comedy movie and yall are just getting to watch it unfold! We decided to let the couple have their privacy and headed to our room for the night.

We felt better the next morning by visiting the place where all the drinks (coke, sprite, and water, of course) were served all day free of charge! It got our spirits lifted and our inhibitions lowered! We had not been together for more than twenty four hours before we already needed a nap to calm us down from all those Cokes and Sprites we drank! The guys behind the counter really know how to work those fountain drinks, let us tell you!

It was on day two that we booked all of our excursions and the good times of exploring and learning really began to roll now that our “spirits” were taken care of! We spent the rest of the day sleeping and soaking in the sun.

Tuesday morning came early with an all day excursion! We were off to hike the infamous Dunns River Falls, spend some time on a private beach with food and drinks for lunch, then tubing down the White River. You can check out more details on booking your own tour here.

Keep in mind, cruise ships dock on Wednesdays causing a rush of crowds.

We hopped on a 25 passenger bus with our driver, Randy, and our tour guide, Yanice. They provided safe travels and stories and tales of the country and the excursions we would be doing that day. They gave us interesting facts and information about local way of life, food, and government there on the island. For example Ochos Rios stands for eight rivers. The river we floated down there is called White River because of all the limestone rocks. When the water washes over the limestone the water turns a milky white! Limestone is also a big export for Jamaica, as well! We played a little Jamaican trivia long our ride to Ochos Rios, and admittedly, Rachel loved every minute of it! (And yes, of course, Rachel knew the answers to every question, just like the studious teacher she is.) Randy and Yanice made our ride very enjoyable with their charismatic and warm nature. We do want to inform you that when you book these tours you will be making a few stops at other hotels to pick up passengers along the way. So, understand that while it may only take thirty minutes to drive straight to your destination, your ride may be a little (or a lot) longer depending on where your hotel is located and how many people will be traveling on the bus with you. However, with the “more the merrier” attitude you will enjoy getting to converse with the passengers and the guides, as well.

When we arrived to Dunns River Falls, we were not exactly sure what was in store for us. We had seen pictures and watched videos but nothing quite prepared us for the journey ahead! We were under the impression we’d be hiking more alongside the falls, but no. You go right up the middle of a 950 foot tiered aqua blue waterfall! This was a beautiful and challenging experience! There were kids and grannies alike attempting to climb up the wet rocks and flowing water but we warn… this is not for the faint of heart or for the weak ankles! Speaking of ankles, your footwear is very important. Online and at the Dunn’s River Falls they will recommend water shoes, however, we saw many people losing their footwear because of the rushing water. We both had on waterproof sandals that had straps we could tighten to our comfort. The ability to tighten our shoes made us feel as if our footing was more secure and we didn’t lose our footing or our shoes like some of the other hikers. Rachel had on Teva’s and Hilary had on Chacos.

Now our mommas set this one out, and let’s be honest, we were all glad they did! We had an amazing time, however, you hike the falls with a group of twenty or so while holding hands to work your way up the falls. Since you have to hold hands to help push and pull the group along the rocks, it is advised to get between some folks of the same ability as you or else you’ll find yourself feeling more like Stretch Armstrong!

After the exhilarating hike, we traveled a short ways to the private beach. Here we splurged for an upgrade, and it was well worth it! We had long layout chairs on the beach instead of the regular chairs like the others. We also had unlimited drinks and much more succulent food! We had an appetizer, a festival ( a corn fritter like roll that is AMAZING), a main course that consisted of jerk chicken AND lobster tail. We were also treated to a little strawberry puff dessert. There was a small place to purchase Jamaican goodies, as well. However, we knew we would be going on a shopping tour the next day, so we opted to save our money here. The beach was very scenic and had great photo ops!

After filling up on the food and drinks, we headed to another gift shop for a prompt tasting of the famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Here we got to see all the school kids walking home from  their day at school. Since Jamaica was a British colony until 1962, the schools adopted some of their traditions. For example, they are required to wear uniforms, and it was quite a site to see all the youngins!

We then headed to the river for tubing! It was absolutely so much fun just rolling on the river! Our water guide was very energetic and personable! It was adrenaline filled on the little rapids with lots of laughs and absolutely relaxing at the same time! Even though this was considered a “touristy” activity, there were locals swimming in the river that interacted with us and made us feel like we belonged. We floated about two miles down the river before taking a boat pulled raft out into the ocean where the sun was setting. Our bus was waiting on us on the beach.

By the time we arrived back to our resort we were definitely in need of some R&R! We had a morning shopping tour the next day. We had dinner at the buffet at our resort and turned in for the night.

It was only three days into our trip and we had all experienced once in a lifetime thrills! We learned so much about the country! Randy and Yanice made us feel as if we had become a local by the end of the day by teaching us a little Patwah (the Jamaican dialect) and sayings like “Ya Mon”. We found out that in Jamaica there is no such thing as a problem but only “situations”. We decided to adopt that notion for the rest of our lives! Everyone has situations in life that that are hard. We think of them as problems that cannot be overcome, but the truth is that when you really pick them apart they are just situations that have solutions and answers. When we saw how far we would have to climb up the falls, we thought we had a problem! While scanning the waterfalls for quick and easy exits, we pushed through, and standing at the top looking down at the lush greenery and falling water we knew that we had just accomplished a great feat! It was a rewarding day filled with lots of water which means a whole lot of fun because in Jamaica they say, “No wet, no fun!”

We still have four more days to conquer in Jamaica, so stay tuned! We are only getting started! Next week’s post you will get to see what shopping in Jamaica is like! Also, we will show you all what it’s like on the inside of a local Jerk restaurant!

Keeping It In The Family

Let’s catch you all up to date: we have been on a hiking adventure with our dads, New Orleans with our mommas, and now this weekend we spent it with our siblings! We are keeping it in the family! Our family is our biggest supporters and we love having them along on our adventures. They have raised us, shaped us, provided for us, and gave us just enough dysfunction to make us funny.

To start the weekend off Riley, Rachel’s sister, hitched a ride with Rachel to Hilary’s house! This is where the weekend began. We had big plans of a night out on the town which very quickly turned into a girls night in! Riley was full steam ahead seeing it was her Spring Break week from college, but we working girls were running on fumes at this point. So after some much needed catching up we found ourselves nestled quietly in the comfort of Hilary’s king sized bed! The three girls love their sleep!

The next morning Riley was off to bigger and better things since she had to return to school, but we couldn’t leave Heath, Hilary’s brother, out of the sibling weekend. We packed up our things and headed to Hartselle, Alabama. We had a big day of hiking ahead of us.

Hilary had planned a day and night tour of the Dismals Canyons in Franklin County, Alabama. We stopped first to pick up the sibling cargo. Heath and his wife Jessie were going to spend the day with us and they so kindly let us stay the night with them! We began our day of hiking by eating lunch. Everyone knows you need to be all fueled up for your adventures. Also, we like to eat and don’t need an excuse to find good food! Heath and Jessie suggested we go to Cardinal’s! It is a cute retro styled drive in with the best burgers in town! We all ordered and then shared all of our food… family style of course! There were chicken fingers and burgers and onion rings and milkshakes galore. After a little bit of gluttony we headed on our way to the canyons.

We arrived around 3:30 pm and committed to the day time self guided tour. Hilary had called the week before and reserved our spot for the night time tour. The combo day/night tour is $18. A special note: the day time tour can be purchased on site the day of your hike, however; the night time tours book up quick! We will tell you why shortly!

The day time hike was amazing. Moss covered boulders made for a breathtaking site! It was almost as if there was a little leprechaun waiting to jump out from behind the little rainbow. Also, rest assured there was no pot of gold at the end because we looked long and hard!

There were so many waterfalls and trickling springs and run offs everywhere! It was cool down underneath all of them. We shimmied and crawled around on them like kids on a playground. There was fun little bridges to cross and stepping stones that tested our balance… and our bravery.

Also, you should know Hilary is not afraid to jump on the swinging bridge while you’re trying to cross it!

We spent almost three hours exploring the canyons before we decided to hike back out for a break before the night tour. We ate dinner there at the Dismals Canyon lodge and spent the better part of an hour just hanging out and taking in the views.

Now it was time for the night tour! The night tour is special here because it gives you the opportunity to see a tiny little creature that are only native to this one spot in THE ENTIRE WORLD! There are similar species located in New Zealand and Australia but you will only get your chance to see these GLOW WORMS right here in North Alabama! Known as Dismalites, these tiny little fly larva are famous because they have a very unique feature. THEY GLOW IN THE DARK! This is why you will have to book the night tour in advance!

You will need to pack a flashlight along for this hike in the dark! Once you enter the cave the tour guide will teach you how to train your eyes to adjust to the dark and then you’ll begin to see the cave walls light up! It was fun to get to experience something so rare and located right in our very own backyard. Check out the website http://www.dismalscanyon.com for more information, and note the best times of the year to visit is May/June and September/ October.

We had a great time catching up with our siblings this weekend, but the weekend went by so fast! Typically we would be saying that with a frown, but not this week!

The countdown is on to JAMAICA!!!!! This week is what we call “Hell Week”. It will be spent packing, list making, reservation booking, and WAITING! The week before a big trip is always a little bit stressful. We want to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible and that we have everything we need! Becky and Hilary will be flying out of Nashville on Saturday, and Rachel and Susie will be catching up with them on Sunday when they leave from Atlanta.

We cannot wait to have our toes in the sand! But with the countdown approaching, here is our to do list!

1.Pack the carry ons

2. Book transportation from the airport to the condo

3. Secure the passports and all travel information

4. Inform the bank and credit cards of out of the country travel

5. Set up international calling – NO ROAMING CHARGES

6. Don’t lose our minds  


The Best Idea Ever

Today we set off in our backyard… well not really. We travelled just a ways up the road to Desoto State Park located atop Lookout Mountain. The past week had freezing temperatures of 18 degrees! However, today, the second of February, it was a whopping 65 degrees in north Alabama. With cabin fever settling in just a day before, we both needed the vitamin D brought by the big ball of fire in the sky. We headed to the dusty trail. Just kidding.There were parts that were soaking wet (Rachel will have more details on that in the video we post).

The trail started at a pretty steep decline of dry brown leaves and quickly became a scenery of lush green as we neared the falls. The water that begins in Desoto State Park leads its way into Little River Canyon. There are so many little trickles of waterfalls both big and small. As we treaded down the small narrow paths we spent time catching up on the week past. Hilary was just back from a work trip to San Diego, and Rachel had spent the first part of the week enjoying time off because of the snow days! The previous weekend we had spent together in Nashville, Tennessee! There were lots of reminiscing about our wild night on Broadway and tales of new experiences in San Diego.

After a short walk across an adorable little bridge, we came to an overlook. Now, something you should know about us is that we both love to live our lives on the edge, so this is exactly what we did. We climbed onto the overhang to let our legs drift in the air over a fifty foot drop! We were sure to keep our booties firmly planted so we couldn’t fall off. Shout out to our mommas for what they gave us! They would not be happy with our ideas to hang our legs off the cliff, but they do love how our relationship has grown so much over the past couple of years. Also, pro tip: always bring snacks! We were feeling earthy, so we shared gummy worms. It just felt right.

At this point we were only about halfway to our destination. We packed up all of our snacks like good hikers do, and saddled up for the rest of the hike. We followed the trail that lead to some marshy like conditions. It would not be until we returned on our way back that Rachel would find herself on a slippery slope. When we finally took the last hop onto the smooth rocks, the rushing water from the falls were revealed. The sun was shining brightly without a cloud in sight, an extreme contrast to just 48 hours ago. We slipped off our shoes like the little Indian girls we are. Feeling the earth below our feet helped center our minds and our bodies. We spent the next hour laying on the rocks, snapping gorgeous pictures of the scenery, and enjoying the serenity of the water rushing along the river bed.

The sun was drawing closer to the tree lines and unfortunately the temperature was dropping. We packed up once again and began on our hike back to our car. Rachel, the calculated confident thing she is, decided to comment on how well she was avoiding the marshy and wet parts of the trail. Shortly after, Karma felt it was necessary to bring her back to the reality in the worse way. One wet rock and down she went.  Hilary, the sarcastic empathetic thing she is, laughed and tried to ask if Rachel needed a hand. We had to take a moment to document about how wet Rachel’s momma given booty was after the fall. The wet shorts and shirt did NOT stop us from stopping by the local ice cream shop on our way home, though. We highly recommend that if you ever find yourself close to Desoto State Park you stop in and see Mildred, the sweetest woman you will ever know, at the Parkway Ice Cream Shop!

As we were sitting outside at the picnic table, lapping up our ice cream cones (Rachel had classic chocolate and Hilary made the solid choice of cookies-n-cream) we began talking about all of our fun times and sparked together this great idea: A BLOG! It is a running joke that Hilary does not have the best memory, and Rachel’s brainspace can only hold so much. We needed a place to store our adventures, so here we are!. This blog will act as our memory! Providing us with flashbacks to our favorite moments in our life. While we do love to travel, we want to encompass all of our favorite parts of our life as well.

We are not alike in many ways. We bring to the table different perspectives, different clothing styles, different talents, and many different preferences across the board. We believe that is what makes us so unique. We are so different, but we get along and work so well together in all kinds of situations… and we do mean ALL KINDS. Our ability to do so comes from our fundamental similarities. For example, we both are either flaming hot or ice cold. We are passionate about the matter with all of our being or express no interest at all. We give ourselves to our hobbies, relationships, and goals 100%, This allows us to chase after our adventures wholeheartedly. So watch out world, we have our carry on packed and we are ready to see the world through all new lenses!