Key West Sunset//The Spicy RD

Gorgeous Key West Sunset…

This travel post has been long overdue in coming, seeing as I soaked up the sun and sea air in Key West in early February, bundled up in snowy Santa Fe and Taos in late February, and shimmied over big bad boulders in Joshua Tree in early April.

Did I mention it’s May.

May 30 as I am writing this.  Almost June to be exact!

I thought about skipping this post altogether, but I promised you {way back when…}, that I would share my travel photos and adventures with you,and I never go back on my promises.


Plus, in case you hadn’t realized it already, I have the travel bug.

Big time.

So, for those of you who have the bug too, here’s some travel inspiration {and travel tips!}, from me, to you 🙂

Key West, Florida

Hemingway House, KeyWest//The Spicy RD

I hoofed it through town {over 14,000 steps to be exact!} on our first full day in Key West, while poor Mr. Spicy attended his conference at our pretty hotel, The Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina resort.  My first stop was at The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in the heart of Old Town Key West.  Although Mr. Hemingway is long gone, his six-toed cats still reside here. Trust me, when I tell you they are VERY well cared for.

Colorful Key West//The Spicy RD

One of the things I loved about Key West the most, besides the gorgeous beaches and spectacular February weather, was all the glorious color, not only in the architecture, but in the people as well!

Colorful Phone Booth, Key West//The Spicy RD

I spotted this colorful phone booth on one of my many walk through town, and had to take a photo!  Perhaps someone who had to make a phone call had one too many drinks? Hmmm….

Key West Parade//The Spicy RD

Later in the week, after Mr. Spicy’s conference was over, we spent an afternoon eating and drinking our way through town.  It was divine 🙂  And, one of the best places for people watching {and parade watching} was on the balcony of The Bull and Whistle Bar, where I enjoyed sipping a couple of Dark and Stormy’s.  Did I say it was divine???

Great fresh seafood spot in the Florida Keys: Key Fisheries//The Spicy RD

We spent out next-to-last day on the road, the wind blowin’ in our hair, driving through the Florida Keys in our rented Mustang convertible.  Pretty snazzy, huh? Lucky for us, Stone Crabs were in season {a first for me}, so we stopped off for some fresh seafood at Key Fisheries Market and Marina in Marathon.  Serious yum!

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys//The Spicy RD

Our final stop was at this beautiful beach at Bahia Honda State Park.  It was so nice to be able to swim in February in the 70 + water temps in Key West, while the ocean temps here in San Diego were hovering around 58 degrees!

Heading to Key West?  Here are my tips on where to stay, what to eat and drink, and where to go…

Taos and Santa Fe New Mexico

Lots of vertical! Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico//The Spicy RD

This was my first time skiing in Taos, and it was a blast!  My family and I traveled with 2 other families for a fun week of skiing and chilling out at our rental house in the town of Taos.  The weather was great in late February, and the terrain was challenging to say the least.  See that “Don’t Panic” sign in the photo?  Well, sometimes there was reason to panic!  

If you’re a skier, you know how a black diamond on one mountain is a blue square on another, and a double black is sometimes doable, depending upon the mountain?  Well, a double black at Taos is serious business, and something I wanted no part of!

Mr. Spicy, on the other hand, took Big Tex down one of those double blacks, and let’s just say he is very lucky they both came back unscathed.  Very lucky indeed 🙂  Here are some more photos and highlights of our trip which included an afternoon stop in Santa Fe on our way back to the airport…

Bavarian Lodge, Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico//The Spicy RD

The Bavarian Lodge on the mountain was a fun place for lunch and to take a little breather from all that skiing…

Snowball Fight in Taos//The Spicy RD

It snowed overnight on our last evening in Taos, so the kids LOVED waking up to the makings of a perfect snowball fight day. One of the boys in our group {not mine :-)} decided it would be fun to run around the snow in his socks. Needless to say his feet were kind of chilly the rest of the day!

Loretto Chapel Santa Fe//The Spicy RD

Our first stop in Santa Fe, after lunch, was at the Loretto Chapel with it’s “mysterious staircase” which you can read more about here.  Miraculous staircase or not, it’s still a pretty chapel to visit!

Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe//The Spicy RD

We also stopped at The Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi to take a peek~another lovely place to visit!

Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico//The Spicy RD

After that, we ended our afternoon in Santa Fe with a little shopping. Well, the girls that is. The” big” boys sat down for a beer, while the younger ones had hot chocolate and played a little pool 🙂  I definitely want to get back to Santa Fe sometime soon for a longer visit!

Heading to Taos or Santa Fe?  Here are my tips on where to stay, what to eat and drink, and where to go…

  • Stay: If you’re travelling with a group, your best bet is to rent a house.
  • Eat: We cooked most of our meals at the house, but a few restaurants to try in the Taos Ski Valley are The Bavarian Lodge {very charming decor on the mountain!} and The Stray Dog Cantina.  We had a yummy lunch in Santa Fe at Rooftop Pizza where I enjoyed a gluten-free pizza and spinach salad.  And, although I didn’t get to eat at either of these restaurants {I told you I need a trip back to Santa Fe!}, both The Shed and Coyote Cafe came highly recommended to me.
  • Do: In Taos~Why ski of course!  Here’s some info on the mountain, where lift tickets, at less than $80/day, are a good bet compared to many other ski resorts.  In Santa Fe check out The Loretto Chapel, visit The Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, and check out all the art galleries and cool shops!

Joshua Tree, California

Cottonwood Campsite, Joshua Tree//The Spicy RD

It’s hard to believe that, after living in Southern California almost all of my life, this spring was my first time visiting and camping in Joshua Tree National Park.  I honestly fancy myself more of a mountain {or beach} camper, than a desert camper, but Joshua Tree is truly a MUST place to visit.  My family, friends and I visited Joshua Tree in early April, and I’m thinking it was one of the best times, weather wise, to visit.  If you’re planning a trip in the summer, I’m pretty sure it will be scorchingly hot 🙂

Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree//The Spicy RD

After waking up at our campsite, Saturday morning, we went on a drive through the park, with the Cholla Cactus Garden being the first stop on our visit.  Very cool place!  Just a word of warning…Do NOT touch the cactus.  Remember the boy in our group who had a snowball fight in Taos in his socks?  Well…..Do not touch!!!

Bouldering fun at Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree//The Spicy RD

After the needles were removed, we made our way to the Jumbo Rocks campground for some serious bouldering fun!  I’m the “big kid” in the middle 🙂

Wildflowers, Joshua Tree//The Spicy RD

Since it was springtime, we got to see lots of pretty wild flowers in bloom!

Bouldering fun at Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree//The Spicy RD

All-in-all it was a fabulous adventure!!!

Heading to Joshua Tree?  Here are my tips on where to stay, what to eat and drink, and where to go…

  • Stay: We stayed at the Cottonwood Campground which was the only spot that had availability on a Spring Break weekend.  It wasn’t a bad spot, but I recommend snagging a spot at the Jumbo Rocks Campground if you can, for spots with lots of shade from the shadows of the boulders!
  • Eat: Cook it yourself!  If you want a little ice cream treat to cool off, there is a Foster’s Freeze not far from Joshua Tree, in nearby Twentynine Palms.
  • Do: Hiking…Biking…Bouldering…Wild Flower Viewing…Star Gazing….You name it!  There are lots of things for the whole family to enjoy, and the best part yet?  There is no Wi-Fi inside the park!!!  Learn more here

Whew!  This was a long post, but so many adventures I wanted to share with you…

Now it’s YOUR turn!

Where have you travelled to lately?  What are your travel plans for this summer?  What’s on your travel bucket list??? Here’s what’s on mine!

As always, I love hearing from you! Please join the conversation, and, if you enjoyed the post, I’d love it {and truly appreciate it!} if you stumble, tweet, pin, or share the post.  And, if you haven’t done so already, be sure and sign up for my monthly newsletter, Delicious News, and you can enter to win a copy of this gorgeous Mighty Spice cookbook in my May issue.