Miami to Montreal

by Rachel Staggs
( September 17th, 2014 )

I’ve just wrapped up a whirlwind 10 days of travel in North America! It was just what I needed.

Travel is always good medicine. Both of my destinations were brand new for me, which made it even more exciting. Miami to Montreal, with one day in Austin, in between. I LOVED IT!

south beach miami

I planned the South Beach, Miami trip for my husband and I after our disappointing night in Port Aransas.

I get weekly flight deals from Travel Zoo and it’s been quite successful for me over the years. You have to act fast because the deals sell out very quickly.

I saw a great deal on flights to Ft. Lauderdale, which is about a 40 minute drive from South Beach. It was $366 on Southwest for two round-trip tickets. I think one leg was even non-stop. I waited a few hours to confirm with my husband and those flights were gone. I was still able to secure flights on Delta for $425. Taxes included. Flying with Delta would later play out a bit unsuccessfully for us, but we still made it South Beach.

peguin hotel ocean drive south beach

I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I’d heard about the party and club scene and figured everyone would be topless on the beach.

Just like anywhere else, South Beach is what you make it! I fell in love with it. The water is spectacular, the food is great, and the people are friendly. Yes, there is a crazy nightlife scene, but you can avoid it completely if you want to. It’s that simple.

Repacking was an interesting test for me. I’ve never had to repack that fast, bring completely different things, and completely different bags. My toiletries bag was about the only thing I didn’t have to totally reorganize. I took out most of the sunscreen.

Montreal is marvelous! I love Europe and have put a dent in my credit card to get there many times over the past decade. For half the price of a ticket to cross the Atlantic, we can visit this amazing gem, right here in North America.

Marché Bonsecours Montreal

While feeling a bit like I was in Europe, because of the cobblestone streets and architecture, I was able to communicate much easier. Montrealers, for the most part, are adept at speaking English. They are very warm and welcoming. I feel like I could learn French, if I stayed a while.

montreal museum of fine arts

I learned so much about Montreal and will be sharing a series of posts about my experiences there. I had no idea bagels were such a big deal, but they are and now I know why! They are denser, sweeter, and always wood-fired baked. Delicious!

Stay tuned…I’m back.

May your journey be your muse,


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Road Trip: Port Aransas, Texas

by Rachel Staggs
( July 25th, 2014 )

south texas seagull

Last weekend we took a spontaneous road trip to Port Aransas, Texas. My family made yearly summer trips to Port Aransas throughout my childhood. As an adult, I’ve only been back a few times, but each time has been beautiful.

beach port aransas, texas

sargassum on beach

This time, however, was absolutely devastating. The beach was covered in a type of seaweed called Sargassum. There are usually small amounts of seaweed on the beach and that’s never been a big deal to me. This was monumental.

sargassum port aransas

In addition to the Sargassum along the water, there were giant mounds of it all up and down the beach. It smelled. It was depressing. I left with a tear in my eye and we never went back.

bob hall pier north padre island

I reached out to a few friends who had visited earlier in the summer and they suggested driving to North Padre Island. I have no family memories there, but it was sure nice to create new ones without mounds of Sargassum. It was all along the waterfront, but nowhere near the amount found on Port Aransas Beaches.

north padre island

I was able to walk in the sand along the shore like I used to and look for seashells. I was gifted half a sand dollar.

port aransas seafood market

It was a whirlwind trip and we only stayed one night. If we were to do it again, we’d stay on North Padre Island. The lodging is cheaper and the beaches are much cleaner. It’s not as quaint as Port Aransas, but for such a short trip, I’d rather not do all that driving back and forth.

Take that tip and run with it. At least this summer. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to get better anytime soon.

Before we hit the road and headed back to Austin, we drove to Port Aransas once again to visit a few seafood markets. We went home with fresh caught Red Snapper.

May your journey be your muse,


Related links:
Road Trip: South Padre Island, Texas




New Mexico: Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

by Rachel Staggs
( July 16th, 2014 )

rio grande gorge bridge

When my Mom and I went on our first Mother-Daughter trip to Santa Fe, we also spent time in Taos. On the way to Taos, we crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It is the seventh highest bridge in the United States. With both of us having a fear of heights, this crossing was a bit intimidating.

rio grande gorge bridge

It was a beautiful day and we spent about 20 minutes taking in the river and bridge before crossing. We also stopped to use the restroom at the Rio Grande Gorge Rest Area. Pro tip: the bathrooms at the rest area were closed and didn’t look like they had been open for quite some time.

rio grande gorge state park

Another Pro Tip: Earthship Biotecture is only two miles before the bridge. I wish we’d had time to stop there, but we were running out of daylight and were trying to get to our house rental in Taos. They have a shop and education center. Next time I’m in the area, I’m going to stay in one of the Earthship rental properties!

Have you ever crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge or stayed overnight at Earthship Biotecture?

May your journey be your muse,


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