Tag archive for "road trip"

Jucy Wheels out West: the good, the bad and the budget

Destinations, Road Trip, USA, USA

Jucy Wheels out West: the good, the bad and the budget

No Comments 01 March 2013

We’ve been driving higher and higher on Highway 180 en route to the Big Stump Entrance of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, elevation markers letting us know we’ve reached 2000, 3000, 4000 feet. The last few miles have not been easy. The fog is so thick I can’t see more than 15 feet ahead. Then it disappears and reveals one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen.

I’d tackle any hard drive for this view. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Rocky mountains and trees fill the scenery to my left and ahead, two my right, the tips of a few mountains peaking above the clouds. I realise I wasn’t driving through fog before, but those clouds below me right now. If that’s the case, then this must be heaven.

It looks like it anyway.

It’s next to impossible to justifiably sum up my three-week road trip with Jucy Rentals in Western USA. I met so many characters, fell in love with so many destinations and the number of moments that almost brought me to tears driving in this beautiful country, well most of those moments will remain within me.

For me, this wasn’t just a road trip through California, Nevada and Arizona, but a chance to reignite the flame with my homeland. I’ve been away from it for three years now. In that time, I started to forget just how incredible it is. This trip was a serious reminder of that.

So while I can’t possibly share with you all my best moments and stories from the road, I can explain this trip in terms of numbers and figures and a few of my favorite things along the way.

Route and destinations

I kicked off this three-week road trip in Los Angeles, headed straight for the Pacific Coast Highway and never looked back. After a night in Santa Barbara, I continued onwards to Morro Bay then to Big Sur with a quick stop at Hearst Castle. After a three-day love affair in Big Sur, I headed up to San Francisco, to visit Alcatraz and take advantage of all the free things to do in the Bay Area.

Sunset at Morro Bay made me wish I had more time to visit the waterfront town. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The furthest north I hit on this trip was Napa Valley. From there I headed east to Yosemite National Park, then along the west side of the Sierra Nevada to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, after which I spent a night in the Mojave Desert. I spent one day cruising through the state of Nevada and one night in Lake Mead National Park.

I drove for about an hour on Route 66 on the way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. A night in the national park there and I made my way back to the Pacific Coast with a few stops in between.

Three nights in Las Vegas, a day in Joshua Tree National Park then I was spreading my toes in the sand at Huntington Beach, CA. I beached it up during my last weekend with my Jucy Champ, visiting Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu.

Distances and travel times

Altogether I covered just under 3000 miles around three states in Western USA: California, Nevada and Arizona. This took about 44 hours driving time in total, but fitting it all in three weeks was really tight. My longest drive in terms of distance was from the Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ to KOA at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, NV, 277 miles over about four and a half hours. The longest drive in terms of time, excluding inside national parks, was from Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA to Fernwood Resort in Big Sur, CA, only 66 miles, but took about five hours, because of the routes winding roads and I kept stopping to take photos.

We made it to the Grand Canyon just before dark. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Budget (fuel, accommodation, food, activities, rental and insurance)

I spent a total of $559.94 on fuel. It cost me $505.71 to camp out 15 nights during the trip. I stayed with a friend for three nights in San Francisco, got a hotel room for one night at $70 in Napa Valley and used American Express points to spend two nights in a hotel in Las Vegas, which would have costs $60 total.

I went to the grocery store three times on this trip, which cost a total of about $150 in total. I spent about $400 between snacks, eating out and alcohol.

Between five National Parks ($90), various tours and tastings ($111) and one show in Las Vegas ($89), the total of activities adds up to $290.

Three weeks with my Jucy rental with unlimited mileage ($1,410), plus 21 nights of partial insurance ($189), since I was already covered for Supplementary Liability Insurance because with my own car in the USA cost a total of $1,599, plus taxes etc. All trip prices vary depending on how long you’ll be renting for, how many miles you’ll be traveling and what kind of insurance you require, so it’s best to get a quote for yourself.

This brings my trip to a grand total of $3,574.65. This is a basic budget you could use if you are interested in doing a similar road trip of the USA, but consider how many people will split the cost of fuel, camp fees, entrance to national parks, etc. Plus you know yourself best, how often will you be eating out or going out for the night. I did very little on both.

Favorite drive

There’s a reason why my drive from Hearst Castle to Big Sur was the longest in terms of time. The drive alone is stunning, sun setting on the Pacific Ocean to my left, rocky mountains to my right and to add to the thrill of it, this drive is along a cliff with a massive drop to the sea. But I also got to see some really cool things at stops along the way, elephant seals, whales, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Henry Miller Memorial Library.

I must have stopped ten or twenty times in Big Sur to look at the sights. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Least favorite drive

After a long day of driving through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, I went through the worst driving conditions I’ve ever experience on Route 58 in the Mojave Desert. Fog so thick, you could only see about two lines on the middle of the road ahead. This happened at night as well, when all I wanted to do was park up and sleep.

Favorite stop

This is a very hard one, but overall Joshua Tree National Park was best for me. I’ve wanted to see the National Park for a very long time and it was even more interesting than I anticipated. The town of Joshua Tree is small, but quality. The people in this area are really unique and fun. Plus we came across some random things in on our drive through here, like a drummer in the desert and an old western Hollywood set.

Make like a Joshua Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Favorite RV park

During my trip I stayed in 13 different campgrounds and RV resorts. I can honestly say that they were all friendly and special for different reasons, but my favorite is going to have to be Fernwood Resort in Big Sur. The woods there are beautiful and I was parked up right next to the Big Sur River. The bathrooms are heated. Plus the Redwood Grill attached to this resort is cosy and filled with really friendly and interesting locals to talk to.

Colorful lights line the bridge across the Big Sur River at Fernwood Resort. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Best lesson

Buy a national park pass if you plan to road trip Western USA. The $80 “America the Beautiful” pass will allow you to enter and leave all National Parks in the country for an entire year. It be dumb not to visit National Parks in the USA and they each cost $10-25 to enter. We visited five in three weeks, which cost a total of $90, which means we could have saved $10 if we had known about this pass.

Want to read more? All posts about my trip out west can be found here. Enjoy and safe travels!

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

As always, all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

The road tripper’s guide to cooking like a champ

Destinations, Road Trip, USA, USA

The road tripper’s guide to cooking like a champ

4 Comments 27 February 2013

Being a budget traveler and just enjoying cooking in general, it means a lot when I can cook while traveling. That’s why the best thing, for me, about traveling with my Jucy Champ in California had to be the full kitchen in the back. I loved waking up and making breakfast in the middle of a Cachuma Lake Recreation Area or cooking as the sun sets next to me in Big Sur.

The nice thing about cooking on the road is not only that you eat more affordably, but also that you can pick the best seat in the house.

I mainly ate what was cooked from the back of my Champ on my tour out West. No matter how equipped the kitchen, cooking from the back of a vehicle is a lot different than cooking at home. This guide will name the essentials that should be on your first shopping list, things to keep in mind and my personal road trip recipes.

Cooking essentials

Do you often catch yourself saying, “Oh no, I forgot….”? Road trippers should purchase these three things on their first trip to the grocery store to be used throughout the trip.

  1. Salt and pepper
  2. Dish soap and sponge
  3. Olive oil or butter

Boiling some water from the back of my Jucy Champ for coffee in the morning at Cachuma Lake. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Make sure you have

You think soup would be something inexpensive and easy to make on your road trip, until you get back to the car to find you don’t have a can opener! Luckily, my Jucy rental came fully equipped, so I didn’t have to buy any extra appliances, but it’s always good to be sure. Before planning out your meals, make sure you have these key items.

  1. Can-opener (soups, tuna, sauces)
  2. Sharp knife (meats, vegetables)
  3. Cutting board
  4. Colander (pasta, rice, vegetables)

Tips and reminders

Some things that are obvious to seasoned road trippers are unknown to newbies. Keeps these things in mind when cooking in your RV or camper van.

  1. No illegal dumping. This applies to anything and everything coming out of your vehicle, not just bathrooms. If you are emptying your waste tank ask people on the campground where to dispose of it.
  2. Consider how long things take to cook. The butane gas cartridges used for portable gas stoves pack quite a bit of cooking time, but be realistic with how long your meal idea with take.
  3. Wash up immediately. This is the golden rule in all kitchens, but especially those in cars. It’s not a good idea to drive with things floating around. Wash up and put everything away after eating, so you can go as soon as you want to.
  4. Cool off. Make sure your stove top and any pots or pans have cooled down before putting them away.
  5. Plan ahead. Purchase all your groceries etc. in advance of visiting national parks or secluded areas. These places have few choices and most are more expensive than say in the suburbs or big towns.

Three meal ideas

There are so many things you can cook from the back of your camper van. My advice is to keep it simple, but still have fun. These three videos were all shot from the back of my Jucy camper van and will give you some ideas of things to cook on your road trip.

Breakfast: Eggs California

Lunch: Nachos Grande

Dinner: Creamy fettuccine with three-cheese sausage

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

As always all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

The road tripper’s guide to Las Vegas

Destinations, Guides, Road Trip, USA, USA

The road tripper’s guide to Las Vegas

No Comments 22 February 2013

The whole idea of Las Vegas, a mirage in the middle of the desert, makes it the perfect road trip city.

Its centrally located campgrounds allow road trippers to park up and leave the car for a few days. But for those who want to keep exploring there are plenty more interesting road side attractions, like the Hoover Dam, located less than an hour from Las Vegas Boulevard, otherwise known as “the Strip”.

Since the city packs so much, the only real problem is choosing what to do with your time here. This guide will help you decide that.

KOA at Circus Circus is the only RV Resort in Las Vegas located on the Strip. Perfect for road trippers. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Sleep

Las Vegas has quite a few campgrounds and RV resorts, but only a couple are located either on the Strip or right next to it. If you want to camp and be close to all the action, check out KOA at Circus Circus or Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort.

Further options can be found in the city, but Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Red Rock Canyon are two conservation areas located just outside the city that offer camping, making them ideal places to escape the 24/7 party, but still be within reach of it.

However, if there is one city you might consider ditching the RV or camper for a few days and staying in a hotel, it’s this one. Las Vegas has a very wide range of hotel rooms, some as low as $19 and centrally located. Staying in a hotel can be more affordable than camping in Las Vegas, but make sure to weigh out the two options.

Best part about road tripping into Las Vegas from the West? Passing the “Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas sign” on arrival. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Go

Vegas is a lot bigger than most people expect. The city limits stretch out much further than just one road full of casinos, so look into locations when booking or planning things here. It’s very easy to get around the city by car. Fuel is fairly affordable all over, though the further from the city center you are, the more affordable it becomes. Don’t forget to check out traffic reports during long weekends and holidays as this holiday destination will be a lot busier at those times. Always expect to drive slow down the Strip.

RVs or campers with height restrictions might have trouble finding parking in certain areas, especially Las Vegas Boulevard, because the parking is often in garages. Be mindful of this and plan ahead. Those who want to travel the Strip without their car, should purchase a one day pass for $7 with The Deuce, a double decker bus that runs up and down the Strip all day and night. Also look into what free shuttle services your hotel or campground offer.

Try Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr, which allows people to visit a famous chef’s joint, but at a decent price. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Eat

Fine dining in Sin City is endless and delectable. Some of the world’s best chefs work here and the city is known for its unique restaurants. For those on a budget, there are a lot of grocery stores, like Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s, just off the strip to stock up food before parking up or heading out.

How about a drink of Absinthe? Or you could just see the show! Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Drink

Those who intend to take part in this city’s renowned nightlife scene should stay on the Strip to be closest to all the action. This will help you avoid expensive taxi fares or the hassle of worrying about public transportation on nights or days out, which you’re likely to have several of during your stay. Plus it’s easy to find nice, affordable rooms in this area, so there’s no reason not to book here.

Drinks are free to gamblers, whether they’re spending pennies on slot machines or Bejamins at poker tables. Tips are expected and you might have to wait longer for the following drink if you don’t. Another idea for affordable drinking is to check Spy On Vegas, which organizes open bars around the city during the week.

Walk across the Memorial Bridge for the best and scariest view of the Hoover Dam. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Play

Though visitors don’t really need to leave Las Vegas Boulevard during their stay, it would be good to also check out Downtown Las Vegas. This is the original Casino strip in Vegas. It’s great to check out the funky signage on Fremont Street here, though you probably won’t feel much like Sinatra walking through the somewhat cheesy enclosed area.

Remember that there is a lot more to do in Vegas than drink. If you’re getting a bit tired of the constant boozing, check out the city’s spas and shows, which are among the best in the world.

It’s amazing how many great things are within reach of Las Vegas and several tour operators use Vegas as a starting off point to see the Southwest. Less than thirty minutes from the Strip is Lake Mead, which is the largest reservoir in the USA, and Red Rock Canyon, which is known for its rock formations and Native American history. Beyond Lake Mead on Route 93, about 45 minutes from the Las Vegas city center is the Hoover Dam.

One final trip people often take from Las Vegas, but is very far out is to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It takes about four hours to reach the South Entrance of this National Park and under three hours to reach the entrance to the skywalk, which goes out over Grand Canyon West, though this is not open all year.

Road tripping to San Francisco or Los Angeles? There’s a guide for that!

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

As always, all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Las Vegas: Hotel vs. Campground

Destinations, Road Trip, USA, USA

Las Vegas: Hotel vs. Campground

3 Comments 09 February 2013

If there is one stop on your road trip around Western USA that you’ll consider hopping out of your van or RV to stay in a hotel room, it’s Las Vegas. Over 140,000 rooms available, Sin City constantly makes the list of US cities with the highest number of hotel rooms in the world. With rates starting as low as $19 a night for a standard room at Circus Circus and soaring up to almost $40,000 a night for the Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Resort, there’s something here to suite everyone’s budget and interests.

But is a hotel room in Las Vegas right for you or are you more suited to camping out?

I tried both on my recent trip and found both have their perks and limitations. Inevitably one is not better than the other, but more right for the visitor. Before getting swayed by cheap prices or visions of how you’re suppose to spend your time in Vegas, consider these questions when choosing between staying at a hotel or campground on your next trip to Las Vegas.

Head away from the new hotels on Las Vegas Boulevard for funky hotel signs. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Where is it located?

Hotels easily have more options on the Strip, for less too. You can find a few campgrounds in prime locations either on or near Las Vegas Boulevard, such as Circus Circus KOA RV Resort and Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. Most are located within two miles of the main attractions in Las Vegas. So if you want to be where all the typical Vegas action is taking place, you’ll have more options with hotels.

But this might not be for everyone. Visitors to this city of debauchery might not realize all the natural beauty that surrounds it. When you only see Vegas at night or stay indoors lost in casinos throughout your stay, you might not even realize the mountain scenery that surrounds the desert city.

If you’re looking for a calmer, naturally pretty place to stay not far from Vegas, you would be best off camping in national parks like Red Rock Canyon or Lake Mead. Both these places offer an array of camping options, surrounded by stunning scenery, no more than 20 minutes from the centre of Las Vegas.

Circus Circus has an adorable dog park and k-9 washing facilities. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What does it include?

That depends how much you’re willing to pay.

Las Vegas boasts some of the most luxurious and expensive hotel rooms in the world. Suites with their own personal concierge and hot tubs, even pools. So if you’re looking to go that high end, there really is no competition, but if your tossing up between camping out or staying in a budget to average priced hotel, here are the things you should consider.

Overall you can easily find campgrounds and hotels at the same price that come with free wifi, access to pools and spas, concierge services, shuttles and security. That said, really look into what is included with both options. Hotel rooms in Vegas don’t cost $20 for no reason. Some literally only come with a bed and there is a wide range of campgrounds, so do your research.

Some perks of staying in a campground include dog walking and washing facilities (most hotels will not allow you to have a dog) and easy parking (most parking at hotels is in a garage, which have height restrictions usually lower than the height of RVs and camper vans, if you have either, call the hotel of your choice ahead to find out if they have any outdoor parking options). Some perks of staying in a hotel room, I’m going to be blunt and say it’s really nice to have AC and a bathroom that doesn’t require a code when you’re hungover and feeling awful.

The Bellagio is one of Las Vegas most expensive casinos to stay in. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

How much is it going to cost me?

It depends.

If you’re staying near the strip you will almost always find staying at a hotel is your cheapest option. The amount of competition allows for really affordable rooms, ranging from $20-$60 for a budget or average room depending on the time of year. It depends on the time of year you visit and the size of your camper, but expect to pay anywhere from $40-$90 at a an RV park, most containing similar amenities and services as a hotel.

When staying off the strip, hotel rooms usually will not go much lower than the rate mentioned above. but campsites will. At Lake Mead National Park, camp rates start at $10, on top of a $10 entrance fee which is good for seven days.

Now there are some other things to think about when it comes to cost. Guests usually cannot cook in basic hotel rooms, whereas people can in campgrounds. The cost of eating out in Vegas will be much higher than cooking for yourself. Some hotel rooms require guests pay a resort fee on top of how much they pay per night. A lot of campgrounds and hotels come with shuttles, but if they don’t, you need to think about the costs of public transportation, fuel, parking or taxis. Finally, think about the extras, such as internet. Does the place you wish to stay include the extras you want? If not, how much more is it going to cost?

This is the adorable set up at Circus Circus KOA RV Resort. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What’s the major difference?

The great outdoors or the neon lights of the casino floor.

It’s possible to never go outside during your stay in Vegas. The major hotels and casinos have a wide range of food options, means of gambling, shows, bars, spas, rooms and people can smoke inside. This is an actual nightmare for some. While some casinos do things in style, a lot are  dimly lit, noisy, and lost in time (meaning there are no clocks). It can often take a half hour just to find a door to the outside world.

Staying in a campground, you get to breathe real air, whether it be in a national park or just in a parking lot outside. You’re forced to see the sun and there’s a certain level of genuine hospitality that is lost in some hotels in Las Vegas. Everyone at the campground I stayed at were very friendly and helpful in a way in which I wasn’t being forced to pay more or sign up for a casino card. At the average hotel, I was pretty much shuffled around, three counters at check-in, which felt like a method they took to get the most out of their guests. It took at least an hour.

But this was an average hotel. High-end hotels and casinos are known for the caliber of their hospitality.

Ric didn’t really care where we slept in the end. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

So where should I stay? (Final thoughts)

It really depends on what you want, who you’re traveling with and how much money you have to burn in Las Vegas. If all you need is a cheap bed to rest your hangover, go for a hotel. If you’re on a budget with a family and/or dog, a campground would probably be best for everyone. If money isn’t an option, well it really comes down to what you prefer.

There are so many things to do in this city and so many ways to see it. Your trip may center around camping or staying in a particular hotel, but if you get lucky (i.e. on a roll or, well, I don’t need to explain…), a bed might not even matter.

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

As always, all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Jucy Wheels Out West: Las Vegas to LA

Destinations, Road Trip, USA, USA

Jucy Wheels Out West: Las Vegas to LA

5 Comments 06 February 2013

Laying in bed inside my Jucy camper van, Santa Monica Mountains in front of me, the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean behind me as well as my favorite chef cooking away back there, I can’t help but get sentimental about the last three weeks. I’m spending the last night of my Jucy Wheels Out West tour in Malibu, California. Probably the only night I’ll ever be able to afford in Malibu, but definitely not the last night I’ll ever spend in a Jucy.

It was here that I really started my trip. I saw this RV Park one day short of three weeks ago when I hit the Pacific Coast Highway from LA en route to Santa Barbara. It’s hard to believe tomorrow I’ll be giving my Jucy wheels back. There’s still so much left to say about this trip and my experience out West. That will all come in the next few weeks. For now, here is how I spent my third and final week out West.

I ended the last post in the Grand Canyon. I had just seen one of America’s most epic sights at the last hours of the day. It’s a good thing I saw it then too, because the next day it disappeared.

Behind that layer of fog is the Grand Canyon. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

We woke up at about 6 a.m. last Monday hoping to see the sun rise behind the Grand Canyon, but the National Park had been hit with so much snow, we could barely see anything. Between snow and fog, you could only make out bits of the 1,218,375.54-acre canyon. It was like David Copperfield had thrown us a treat before we even arrived in Vegas.

After playing in the snow, we hit the roads as soon as possible, because the weather report was not getting any better.

You know what one of my favorite things about the Southwest is? You can go from freezing in the snowy mountains in the morning to wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt in the desert by early afternoon. This area of the world really does have it all.

We arrived at Las Vegas KOA at Circus Circus, an RV park located right on the Strip, just in time for a quick dinner and bottle of wine before hitting the town. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, so I’ll just go over some quick points.

You don’t often see photos of Las Vegas during the day. Here’s the Las Vegas Strip from the top of the Stratosphere. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Ric and I did just about everything a person is expected to do in Sin City: drink, gamble, eat, see a show, visit a strip club and get hitched…

Just kidding!

Our first night was an interesting one and both nights that followed just got better.

Night two I met up with Abby Tegnelia, The Neon Jungle Princess, for dinner at D.O.C.G. at The Cosmopolitan. She’s one of those Twitter friends I’ve been talking to for almost three years and knew I would like right away. So glad we could finally meet, drink wine and share my first truffle experience together. Try “The D.O.C.G. Pizza”, which comes with fonduta, egg and truffles, but make sure they don’t lose the egg on your pizza.

It was Abby’s suggestions that made night three in Las Vegas so incredible. First stop was Yellowtail at the Bellagio for a “Big Eye Tuna Pizza”. Everyone raves about this menu item. It’s really different (tuna, truffle oil and micro shiso on a crispy base), but it works.

Next, we went to see Absinthe, located in the white circus tent outside Caesars Palace. I’ll go more into this circus/cabaret spoof on Thursday, but for now I’m just going to say that it was one of the best and most unique shows I’ve ever been to. We ended the night at BURGR, Gordon Ramsay’s gourmet burger joint at Planet Hollywood. I had truffles yet again. Truffle fries with truffle aioli, how do you say no to that? Amazing, yet very affordable restaurant on Las Vegas Boulevard.

This is only a preview of Absinthe. Come back Thursday to read about the show and see more photos from it. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

We left Vegas Thursday with only a tiny hangover, but empty pockets. A quick stop at Downtown Vegas then to the “Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas sign” for a photo with Elvis and we were off to Joshua Tree National Park.

The towns surrounding this park, seem very strange, since they literally pop up right out of the desert and are all home to some interesting characters. We stayed in the town of Joshua Tree and I kind of fell in love with it. It doesn’t have many shops, bars or cafes, but what it does have are independently-owned and quality. Visit bulletin boards located near Grateful Desert to find out about drum circles and parties at random locations in the desert.

Me, acting like a Joshua Tree. Photo by Richard John Hackey

I’ve wanted to visit Joshua Tree since college, when a professor showed us photos from a family vacation there in a media class. Then there was the Entourage episode in Joshua Tree, and well…

There is something about deserts that intrigues me, but this one especially. The National Park is one of the most interesting places you’ll ever see. Desert with random rock formations and yucca trees (Joshua Trees) that look like people waving their arms like they’re at a concert. To top off what is already an incredible place, all of a sudden a guy with a decked out bike and funky hat would drive by us waving, or-boom-a drummer on the side of the road.

They definitely do in Joshua Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This is my favorite of all the National Parks we visited on this trip. It’s one of those places you hear about, but think, “No that couldn’t exist.”. We visited Wonderland of Rocks (rock formations area), Keys View (where you can see the San Andreas Fault) and Barker Dam (where you can see Native American Petroglyphs) in the Park, then made our way to Huntington Beach, but not without first stopping at Pioneertown for a chilli burger at Pappy and Harrietsand impromptu Western photo shoot in the old Hollywood film set.

Ric doing his best John Wayne at Pioneertown, California. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It was nice to see the beach again in Huntington, which is the ideal California beach town to spend a few days. We saw bonfires as we entered and took photos with surfers the following day while doing Jucy promotions.

After two nights in Huntington, we made our way back to Los Angeles, visiting Venice Beach along the way. Sorry to say, but this was the first place on this entire trip that disappointed me. There is a lot going on in Venice Beach. In fact, there’s too much going on there. Yet all we really wanted to do was find a nice affordable restaurant and we couldn’t do that. And muscle beach-I saw no muscles there :(

But if that was the only thing that disappointed me in three weeks of touring Western America, well that’s pretty good I think.

The sun came out strong on our last day of this trip and we got to see Malibu at it’s best, though I’m not sure this place really has a bad side. Tomorrow I go from Jucy Wheels to Homeless Heels. Though after touring California for almost two weeks, I can think of worse places to make the transition.

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

A special thanks to Spiegelworld for welcoming me out to see Absinthe.

As always, all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Wine, nature, design and burgers (what!) in Napa Valley

Destinations, Favorite Things, Road Trip, USA, USA, Wine and Coffee

Wine, nature, design and burgers (what!) in Napa Valley

7 Comments 01 February 2013

While wine is definitely Napa Valley’s claim to fame with almost 950 wineries, about 450 of which you can visit. That isn’t all the Northern California destination has to offer.

For instance, did you know that Yountville, a town in the Valley, has the most Michelin Star restaurants per capita in North America? Did you also know that Napa is a geothermal area, home to one of three Old Faithful geysers? Finally, were you aware that there is an actual castle in this wine region?

From food to nature to architecture, and obviously to wine, Napa Valley surprised me on every level, and this is after only one day of visiting the area.

Since, I only spent a day here, I’m not writing a full guide about it, nor am I writing a piece highlighting Napa’s must sees. For that, I recommend visiting The Napa Wine Project or yTravel Blog. I’m merely going to explain why I chose the stops I did, and why I think you should consider them too.

Before I begin let me just make one thing clear, my day with Ric in Napa was extremely random. We started out only planning to visit, tour and taste at three wineries, some of which are located over a 30-minute drive from Downtown Napa, where we spent the night at Skyline Wilderness Park.

I chose to do this, because I wanted to actually be in the places where wines I had heard so much about are being made. I knew this meant I would be spitting out my tastings, which just feels wrong, because I was driving. But I’ve discovered that there are a million ways to see Napa and on my first time there, this is how I wanted to do it.

So I got to see a lot of the Valley and Ric…well he got pissed, as he was drinking for two, which would explain the last visit on this list.

Ric watching Old Faithful erupt in Napa Valley. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Nature in Napa

It’s impossible to miss this. Venture out of downtown Napa and you’ll start to follow roads lined with California Oak Trees, catch your ears popping as you drive higher and higher into the hills and maybe even spot steam coming out of the ground.

This area is home to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, where visitors can see indigenous trees, such as coastal redwoods, Douglas-Fir and Tanoak. Those who are lucky might also spot deer, foxes and bobcats.

Napa is also a geothermal area. Ric spotted Old Faithful Geyser on the way out to our first stop on the agenda. We were really confused as we both thought it was in Yellow Stone National Park.

We found out there are actually three Old Faithfuls. If you’ve seen the one in Yellowstone, don’t bother with the one in Napa as you will be very disappointed, but if you’ve never seen a geyser before and you’re not on too tight a budget (this attraction is $14 per adult) it’s worth a stop and you’re guaranteed to see it erupt as it does so every five to ten minutes. Plus, they have a petting farm there with lambs. Need I say more?

Chateau Montelena winery was built in 1886 and French-inspired. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Chateau Montelena

This is the winery that put Napa on the wine world’s map. In 1976 Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay won a blind taste test held in Paris that put French wines against Californian wines. This tasting was huge. Not only did it prove that France was no longer the only place capable of making great wines, but it also proved that the vintners in California knew what they were doing.

A basic tasting here costs $20 per person. Visitors can see a bottle of the winning Chardonnay from 1973. They can also check out the winery’s old-world architecture and a very unexpected Japanese garden.

I felt like a princess as Ric photographed me on the steps of this Napa Valley castle. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Castello di Amorosa

Driving up a small road, lined with Italian Cypress Trees, vineyards to both sides and forests separating the property from the outside world, a building begins to appear.

“That’s an actual castle,” were my words to be exact, and I’m sure the words of many who visit Castello di Amorosa.

This 121,000-square-foot castle was a dream to create for owner Dario Sattui, who also owns V. Sattui Winery. His Italian heritage, fascination with Tuscan and medieval design and determination to create something spectacular have made this a dream come true for visitors to Napa as well.

Enter the castle up stone steps and across a drawbridge. A small information office will be to your right, where you can purchase tickets to tour the castle and taste its wines. Otherwise, visitors are allowed to roam certain areas of the castle on their own and sample the wines for a general admission price of $18.

It was easy to see how much our guide Jeff loved coming to work at the castle every day and be in the California sun. I think touring the castle would have been wonderful no matter how we did it, but Jeff made the experience incredible.

Jeff led our group of eight through the castle’s main dining area, courtyard, caves where barrels of wine are kept and even a torture chamber, all while talking about the history of the place, how it was made and characteristics about the wine making process. Everything in the castle is hand made and designed after medieval times. The wine is even made in a traditional Italian method, fermented in barrels, residue scraped out, instead of being filtered.

The wine at this boutique winery is wonderful, but most people visit to see the castle. Luckily, with Castello di Amorosa’s castle tour, visitors can tour the grounds and try ten different wines from their collection for $33.

There are so many ways to see this winery. It’s a given that any visitor to Napa should tour the grounds their first time. After that, look into the castle’s many parties throughout the year.

It’s incredible how much thought was put into the design at Darioush and continues to be put into the vineyard’s wine and hospitality. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Darioush

Walking into this winery, which is actually based off a castle as well, I had mixed emotions. Everything about the open room visitors walk into is perfect. A nice mixture of modern pieces and ancient design, all somehow mixed together in a way that just works.

Though in other places I might have, I didn’t get that museum, do-not-touch feeling, nor did I feel like I didn’t belong. Maybe it was the warm lighting in the room or the smiling faces all around, but walking into the classiest winery I’ve ever been to, I immediately felt right at home.

I felt the warmth in Darioush’s welcome within seconds of entering the winery. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This is one of the many details proprietor Darioush Khaledi thought about when he found his winery in 1997. Hospitality is one of the most important aspects of Persian culture, and Khaledi, who emigrated to the USA from Iran in the 1970s definitely made sure to highlight this at his vineyard, as well as several other characteristics of Persian culture.

The design of the cellar door at Darioush is actually based off Apadana Palace constructed by King Darius in Persia’s ancient capital city, Persepolis, which is near modern-day Shiraz, Iran where Khaledi grew up. Pomegranate trees welcome visitors as the front entrance. There is an amphitheater in the back. A collection of Khaledi’s maps of the Persian empire line the hallway to the bathroom. Plus they serve Persian-roasted pistachios, made with lime and salt.

This attention to detail carries over to the wine at Darioush. Khaledi plays a strong part in the wine making process, which is led by Steve M. Devitt. Our hostess, Michelle Romaine, who is extremely knowledgeable about the wine and history at Darioush, guided us through a tasting of their Signature Flight, which includes five different wines for $35.

For it, Ric and I sat down on leather chairs in our own personal tasting area in the main room. Each wine was clean and tasty, but my favorites were Duel, a cabernet/shiraz blend, and Capataz, which is a Malbec made from the Argentinian grapes.

I think it’s the traveler in me that is so drawn to Darioush, stepping onto this vineyard, feels like stepping out into another world, another time. Khaledi’s global influences, his interest in history from his homeland and wine from around the world, makes this winery a very special place to visit in Napa Valley.

Big D Burgers

Anyone who follows this blog or me on other networks, knows Ric has a thing for American burgers. Unless he is in Philadelphia, in which case he only orders cheese steaks, he will order a burger for almost every meal at almost every restaurant we visit. So for him to say Big D Burgers is his favorite in America. That means something, even if he was a few wines deep.

The burger shack looks like it hasn’t changed since the 50s, nor has its prices. He bought one quarter-pounder with cheese, curly fries and a drink and got another quarter-pounder free. You can bet I stole quite a few bites and sips of everything and-wow. The burgers are pretty standard, but made to perfection.

There are so many places in Napa known for culinary excellency that you should definitely take advantage of, but when you want to save money on a good meal during your stay, this is the best place we found to do it.

If you don’t want to worry about driving, some good options include, hiring a designated driver, booking a tour, purchasing a wine tasting card and sampling at various wine houses all in walking distance from each other in downtown Napa, taking the wine train or paying $1 for a single journey to various wineries on the Calistoga Shuttle.

All of my stops might already be included in the options above. Otherwise, I highly recommend making an effort to see each on their own or to convince one person in your group to take one for the team and follow this one day itinerary. Thank them with a burger, you’re going to get one for free any way.

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

A special thanks to Castello di Amorosa and Darioush for sponsoring my visit to Napa Valley.

As always, all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Jucy Wheels Out West: LA to San Fran

Destinations, Road Trip, USA, USA

Jucy Wheels Out West: LA to San Fran

5 Comments 23 January 2013

Driving on the Pacific Coast Highway north through Malibu, rocky mountains to my right, endless ocean to my left, I felt like I had finally arrived.

California.

The subject of many songs, stories and of course, road trips. The first state I’ll conquer on my tour out west and surprisingly one I know very little about.

Born on the east coast, everything I know of California comes from films and two short trips to Los Angeles. But after one week of touring, I know one thing for sure about this state, I’m in love with it.

My first priority after picking up my Jucy Champ was reaching a beach, so I headed to Santa Monica and continued driving along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. A quick stop at Neptune’s Net to try the crab cakes and pause to take in the view, then I continued on to Santa Barbara, where I would spend my first night.

Well that’s what I thought at least.

While there are RV Parks located not far from the town center, I found their rates to be a lot higher than State Parks located a few miles away, so I booked something a bit further out.

Heading deeper and deeper into the wild, I arrived at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area, where I spent my first night. It was pitch black outside by the time I got there, so I was surprised to wake up the next morning and see I was surrounded by the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains. It’s an ideal place to spend a few days in the summer. But in the winter, you’ll find it pretty empty, so don’t worry about booking ahead this time of year.

Can you imagine waking up to this? It’s hard impossible to find a bad spot to camp at Cachuma Lake. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

My only goal for day two was to reach somewhere close to Hearst Castle, which I would tour the following day. I held out as far as possible, skipping State Park after State Park. I finally gave in at Morro Bay and it was a good decision.

Eucalyptus trees line the road to Morro Bay State Park, which is located right on the water. Since they only accept cash or check payments to park up for the night, I had to find a bank. Being in the heavily forested area, you would have no idea how close the town center and loads of shops are. I decided on staying in the town center, spending the night at Cypress Morro Bay RV and MH Park, where I got a space, free wifi and partial hook up for just under $40.

Basically, there are campgrounds here to suit everyone in this area at similar rates, whether you want to be completely surrounded by nature or stay in a town not far from it.

Cypress is walking distance from Morro Rock and Morro Strand State Beach. Along the way to the town’s iconic rock, I passed by a marina filled with sailboats and fishing charters, heaps of independently-owned, fresh seafood restaurants and even a bit of wildlife in the form of three otters playing in the water, not far from shore. I really loved this spot, because it has a nice balance of nature and town life. Plus the sunsets are incredible.

Watch the sun go down in Morro Bay then head to nearby seafood restaurants for dinner. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The next morning, I was on the road just after 7 a.m. on my way to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. I thought my view of the coast was unbelievable from Highway One here, but it got even better once I reached this castle on a hill. Media mogul William Randolph Hearst commissioned Julia Morgan, California’s first certified female architect, to build his dream estate in 1919.

It literally has the best of two continents, the grandeur of European royalty and the stunning California scenery. Hearst Castle offers an array of different tours, all of which allow visitors to wander around the estate until closing time. The estate is home to an incredible private collection of European art.

The next leg of my journey would actually bring me to tears and make me wonder why it took so long to visit this state.

There are no words to describe the drive on Highway One from Hearst Castle to Big Sur.

It’s so unfair to be the driver on this road. Luckily there are plenty of vista points along the way in Big Sur to stare at the scenery. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Picture a two lane road cut into rocky hills that rise from the sea. Clear skies and a bright sun lighting up a dark blue ocean. It’s a cruel joke that you need to pay so much attention to driving on the swerving road, because all I wanted to do was stare out my side window at the view of the coast.

I must have stopped about ten times at different vista points along the way. One to check out is a beach that’s home to hundreds of elephant seals, another because I spotted whales out to sea and the rest, well, if you saw just how incredible the coast looks here, you would understand.

Big Sur is a forest on the sea and my favorite stop from week one. I met up with my friend Emily here who flew in from New York City. In one day we crossed the Bixby Canyon Bridge, photographed McWay Falls, watched the sun set from Nepenthe Restaurant, drank tea and played with a cat called Theo at Henry Miller Memorial Library and met locals at Fernwood Grill, which might as well be a living room for them. I spent both nights camping at Fernwood in a spot right next to the Big Sur River. The forest there is filled with coastal red woods, not quite as big as the trees up north, but still fascinating.

McWay Falls pours right onto the beach and is only a ten minute walk from the parking lot at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This section of California is owned by nature, but also a few unique restaurants, bars and lodges seem to come out of nowhere along the road here. It’s hard to believe it’s only 30 minutes from civilization in the form of Monterey.

Pay attention when walking on trails in in the forest here. A poison oak plant brushed my skin at some point here. Nothing serious, but it’s good to be aware.

After a day in Big Sur, we made our way up to San Francisco, stopping at Carmel by the Sea, to stick our feet in the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz to check out the boardwalk and Half Moon Bay to see the bluff from a Ritz Carlton located right on the beach here.

We finally reached San Francisco, where we would spend a few days, around 7 p.m.. Give yourself an entire day or even longer to do the trip from Big Sur to the city, it takes a lot longer than you would think.

My Jucy Champ parked up at a lookout point near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

We couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to be in the bay area as it was buzzing about the 49ers being in the NFC Division Championship game, which they won!

We started our visit in the city by taking in its best views, visiting Bakers Beach to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks to see the city from above. While it was worth getting to Twin Peaks for the view, driving up the hills in San Francisco is one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced on the road. Don’t even bother with the break going up. Keep your foot on the gas to stop the car from falling back.

Our trip to Alcatraz gave us another view of the city and one that must have been such a tease to the men imprisoned there decades ago. Tours of Alcatraz are self guided and told through recordings of former prisoners and officers. Focusing only on the voices that guide you and the areas they point out, it’s easy to get lost in the island prison.

Former prisoners on Alcatraz say some nights they could hear laughter coming from the city, a reminder of what they were missing out on. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Book your tickets to Alcatraz far in advance, it sells out days ahead at all times of year.

Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the busiest spots in San Francisco. There is loads to do in this area and great seafood restaurants to eat at. We visited the sea lions at Pier 39 and I was lucky enough to be scared by the Bush Man yet again. This San Fran staple covers himself with shrubbery on the sidewalks around the wharf, scaring inattentive passer-bys, like me.

While the Wharf has a ton of restaurants, we opted for Italian food in North Beach for dinner as one of my friends who lives in the city, says it’s where all the locals go. Think 1950s Italian restaurants, stringed lights hung above the streets and tasty homemade meals.

While in the city we also visited Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies (a row of houses made famous by Full House), Haight Ashbury (where all the hippies traveled to in the 60s) and Lombard Street, which is known for being San Francisco’s crookedest street.

I said goodbye to Emily in San Francisco and welcomed on tour my wonderful boyfriend Ric. Our last activity in the city was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to Napa, something I never thought I would do in my life.

This state has so many claims to fame and so many icons known around the world that make it attractive at face value. But like any great love, it’s the state’s secrets and surprises that will make you fall for it. I can’t wait to find out more about it.

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

A special thanks to Hearst Castle and Alcatraz Cruises for welcoming me out to their attractions.

As always all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Tour the Jucy Champ (Video)

Destinations, Road Trip, USA, USA

Tour the Jucy Champ (Video)

14 Comments 15 January 2013

The sun is shining, ocean calm calm and the Pacific Coast Highway empty. Sounds like a good day to start my Jucy road trip in Western USA.

The down-under rental company premiered in the States this past summer and after driving it for only one day, I can honestly say it’s a unique addition to the country’s roadways. Everywhere I stop people stare, ask questions and get excited about my adorable green Jucy Champ, a pimped out Chrysler minivan.

It’s easy to under stand why.

To start with, the van drives like a dream and isn’t too much to handle for people who aren’t used to driving big cars. It’ll get you more miles to the gallon than those massive RVs, but still has plenty of space to spread out and get comfortable.

And what does all that space include?

On top of all the basics of modern vehicles, power-steering; air conditioning and what not, this ride also includes:

  • penthouse bed on top with ladder to reach it
  • a fold out, standard-size bed inside, suitable for two people
  • sheets, pillow, towels and blankets
  • DVD player, CD player and radio
  • 41-liter fridge
  • sink with a fresh water tank
  • gas cooker
  • interior table as well as another fold out table for outside
  • dishes, cutlery, kettle, pots and pans
  • interior lighting, blinds and electrical outlets

The Jucy team in Los Angeles were extremely helpful in showing me how to use the all the Champ’s goodies. I’ve already assembled my bed for the night and am now laying down in it, parked up on the beach in Santa Barbara. Already loving my life on the road with Jucy.

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. As always all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Jucy Wheels Out West

Blog, Destinations, Other, Road Trip, USA, USA

Jucy Wheels Out West

10 Comments 09 January 2013

There’s something about Western USA that just pulls people in. It’s in the shining lights of cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the wide open roads on the Pacific Coast Highway and especially the jaw-dropping landscapes of national parks like Yosemite and Grand Canyon. The West has long attracted travellers looking to stretch out or even make it big.

And in 2013 that’s going to be me.

I’m happy to announce that for my first trip of 2013 I’ll be heading out with with Jucy Rentals in the USA. During the three week tour of California and Nevada, I’ll be stopping at three major cities, at least five national parks and as many beaches as humanly possible.

I was first introduced to Jucy almost three years ago in Australia. Their cute green and purple vans with an even cuter pin-up girl on the side were extremely popular down under, which made me envious that we never had anything like that in the States.

Not anymore.

A look at my Wheels out West, the Jucy Champ campervan. Photo courtesy of Jucy Rentals

The vehicle rental company premiered in the USA this past summer. Why is this so exciting? Because they offer affordable rentals allowing people at all ages and budgets to go on the road trip they’ve always dreamed of, including me.

It may sound weird, but I’ve traveled the world more than my own country. This will be my first serious road trip of the USA since childhood. Sure I went on the regular family road trips and I’ve been on a few weekend trips here and there, but I’ve never been on a large-scale road trip anywhere in the USA and have traveled minimally out West.

So after three years of living abroad, it’s finally time to travel the homeland. The trip will start and finish in Los Angeles, looping out to Las Vegas than on to the Grand Canyon and back.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Here are a few of the things I’m most excited about:

Big cities:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Las Vegas

Big parks:

  • Big Sur
  • Yosemite
  • Grand Canyon
  • Joshua Tree

Big attractions:

  • Eames House
  • Hearst Castle
  • Alcatraz
  • Napa Valley

It’s going to be a full three weeks. Luckily, I won’t be doing it alone. I’ll be catching up with friends along the way, traveling with Emily, one of my best friends from college, from Big Sur to San Francisco and meeting up with Ric in Napa Valley to finish off the trip together.

I’ve done my research and picked out a lot of places I’m eager to visit, but I want to hear from you! Where would you visit on a road trip of Western USA? What sights are you eager to see and what would you like to know more about?

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. As always all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Win a Jucy road trip with HW’s relaunch

Blog, Giveaway, Other

Win a Jucy road trip with HW’s relaunch

33 Comments 14 August 2012

There’s nothing like having your own set of wheels on a holiday.

It gives you complete freedom to go wherever you want, spend as long as you want at a location, change plans at the last second and even to the reassurance of a bed-absolutely anywhere.

I’ve loved the idea of all this for as long as I can remember. Maybe that’s because I’ve been road tripping since before I can even remember. Based in New Jersey, my parents had a huge love affair with Florida. Every year-sometimes four or five times a year-they would pack up the car, whether it be a station wagon with a popup camper attached or a pimped out van, and take my brother and I on that 20-something-hour trip to St. Augustine, Florida.

They even found friends with kids who loved road tripping as much as them to join in on the ride. We would go in separate cars, but we had walkie talkies to keep in touch, which we all usually just ended up playing games and telling jokes on.

What’s black and white and read all over? Over.

I loved those trips, because with our crew, I was never sat in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet?” My mom could just make fun out of anything and my dad always knew of the most random spots to pull over for a meal, like that crab shack in Georgia with holes in the middle of the tables and trash cans below to dispose of shells.

It didn’t matter where we were going or when we would get there, the fun was in the journey on every one of those road trips.

Some things never change.

This past January, Ric and I took a month off to road trip New Zealand. I’ve traveled a lot of different ways over the years, by train in Europe, bus in SE Asia and I’ve taken a lot of plane rides to all corners of the world, but road tripping holds a very special place in my heart and in the USA-I have to say it’s the only way to travel.

Americana Road Trip Theme

So when I decided to redesign my site with a more fun, lighthearted theme, I decided to trace back my roots of travel and go with a very Americana Road Trip theme.

Introducing the new Heels and Wheels. Designed by Bobbi O’Gilvie

The new theme was designed by the talented Bobbi O’Gilvie, who, I must add, I road tripped Australia’s east coast with. She recently opened up shop with her designs on Ready to Blog. Her work is beautiful and well worth a look. Plus she’s a wonderful person to work with.

But there’s more…

Giveaway

To celebrate Heels and Wheels’ redesign and relaunch-the wonderful people of Jucy have given me three nights with a Jucy Champ Campa in the USA to give away, so the winner and a friend can go on his or her own road trip.

A Jucy Champ Campa on America’s famous Route 66. Photo courtesy of Jucy

I first noticed Jucy when traveling Australia. Everywhere in the country I’d see that funky green and purple van with a red-head pin up model on the side blowing me kisses. Their campervans include absolutely everything a person would need to road trip-bed, gas cooker, fridge, cookware, even a sink-all at prices backpackers can afford.

I had never seen anything like it in the States. Road tripping in a fancy van or Winnebago always seemed to be reserved for families or retirees with money. Poor twenty-somethings, like me, could only hit the road in a car. But in Australia and New Zealand, because of companies like Jucy, even people on a budget can road trip in comfort. So I was very excited to hear about the companies launch in the USA this past year.

How to enter

There is more than one way to enter this competition and the more ways you enter, the better a chance you have at winning. Using Rafflecopter, see the entry form below, you can enter by:

  • Leaving a blog post comment about where you would go on your three-day road trip,
  • Liking Heels and Wheels on Facebook,
  • Liking Jucy on Facebook,
  • Tweeting about this competition,
  • Following Heels and Wheels on Twitter,
  • and following Jucy on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All these things MUST be done using the Rafflecopter application above to keep track of your entries.If you do not use the application above than your votes will not be counted.

The contest will run until September 13, 2012 12:01 p.m. EST and the winner will be selected using Rafflecopter. Be sure to read the term and conditions below.

Terms and conditions

There are just a few to consider when entering this competition:

  • Vehicle must be used for travel between:  1 October 2012 – 30 November 2012.
  • Vehicle must be collected and returned to the same location.  No one way hires allowed.
  • Prize includes vehicle, bedding and kitchen equipment.
  • 100 free miles per night included.  If customers go over this they will be charged for extra miles traveled.
  • No insurance included.  Customers must purchase one of JUCY’s insurance options which can be found on our website. Details of the vehicle and insurance can be found here.
  • Prize subject to availability at time of booking.
  • Prize will be subject to JUCY’s standard terms and conditions.
  • Prize conditions subject to change.

Now that that’s out of the way. It’s time to hear from you. Where would you like to go on your mini Jucy road trip?

Jucy in Las Vegas, NV. Photo courtesy of Jucy.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Follow on Bloglovin
Powered by Unanchor.com
blogger badge (1)

© 2013 Heels and Wheels. Powered by Wordpress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium Wordpress Themes