My Trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Oh, the places you will go! I took a fun trip with my parents who flew into town this past Monday to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in White City, New Mexico. 

Our day started with a three hour drive (8:30 am) from El Paso, TX along a long desert highway that weaved through the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We didn’t stop and get out of the car but the scenic drive was impressive enough.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
After a lot of complaining about how long the drive was and a misleading mileage road sign, we finally winded our way up to the welcome center on top of a mountain ridge at around 11:30 am. 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
Let me tell you once we actually started our descend into the cave, the long drive was well worth it. 

[General admission for adults is $10.00. Children, seniors, military, and pass holders I know had discounted ticket prices. I’d refer to the website for more information on this.] 

Since we went on a weekday, the crowds were not bad. I recommend avoiding the weekends if possible. Also, get there toward the morning or early afternoon hours aka before noon. Why? Because while you can take the elevator down into the cave, you’re given the option to walk down into it which is the BEST part of the whole experience/cavern. We did this and I would do it again! Just keep in mind that the park does not allow people to walk down after 2:30 pm. Hence, the arriving early tip. It is a long trek down, but you get to appreciate it a whole lot more.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
The top picture above is where you enter the cave if you walk down and the second picture is the path winds down and deep into the dark abyss. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be a long walk down, but it took us easily 45 minutes and just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, there’s more! Make sure you have a good pair of sneakers because the pavement can be steep and slick. Also, bring a jacket because it can be chilly. You are in a cave underground after all!

The walk down was a little strenuous and did make me rethink the idea of walking back out (by the way, walking back up is totally doable as long as you’re in good health and take your time). It was neat though and gave you a new perspective of how far down the cave really went. 


By the time we reached the bottom of the cave, which is huge, I was a little tired and almost didn’t need my jacket honestly. I worked up a sweat! At the bottom of is the “main room” that can easily take another 45 minutes to an hour to tour. It all depends on how fast you walk, stop to look at things, or how crowded it is. We did a self guided tour, by the way. No guide, no audio. You really don’t need anyone telling you what to look at or the small facts here and there via a listening device. There are plaques all throughout that explain major visual points, but if you want a more detailed or educational experience I guess I would recommended a non-self guided tour. 

There’s a lot to explore and gaze at once you’re in the main part. It was amazing to see how the cave has been formed over the years and how it continues to mold itself. There are parts of the cave that haven’t been developed yet and go on for miles, but is not open to the public. It’s hard to put into words how impressive it all is. It’s definitely something you need to experience in person at least once.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
After all the walking and gawking, you can decide to be the daring soul to climb back out of it. We saw several people doing this (all huffing and puffing I might add). If you’re up for it, do it! We took the elevator which was ten times faster. There was a line, but it was short. I’ve heard the line during busy days and seasons can get really long. Plan ahead for this! Keep in mind the elevator can only hold 8 people at a time. 

And of course, it wouldn’t be a true adventure if it didn’t lead you into a gift shop of sorts at the end. There are two gift shops in the visitor center and a little cafeteria. Actually, there’s a cold foods cafeteria in the cave along with bathrooms, too. We didn’t use or check this out, but the option is there to eat below the surface in dim light if you need a snack. 

[Another fun fact about this particular cave: you can watch the bats fly out. We weren’t there at the right time for this, but it seemed like a fun thing to do if it fit your schedule.]

By the time all was said and done, we left about 1:30 pm. It is time consuming, but totally worth visiting! I have been to two other caves in the US in the past and hands down this one if my favorite. The fact that you get to walk into it by yourself is what makes this place super unique.

Go add this to your travel list, bucket list, etc.

Note: Like all national parks, please be respectful of the grounds. The only way these places can continue to be preserved for many more years to come is by following the rules and restrictions that are stated by the park. 

You can find all more information about pricing, directions, hours of operation, guidelines, FAQs, and more at https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm.

Have you been to Carlsbad Caverns? What did you think? Or what National Park that you have visited has been your favorite? Tell me I’m the comments below.

Beauty and the Beast: Movie Review

The moment I found out that this movie was being made into a live action version, my inner child squealed! Beauty and the Beast is THE Disney movie I grew up on and is and will forever be my all time favorite. After watching it tonight in a packed theater, I think fell in love with it even more than I already am.

Beauty and the Beast was everything I had hoped it to be and more. The casting was spot on! Emma Watson was beautiful and brilliant as Belle. There was not a single actor in this film that I did not like. The in-depth to the storyline that highlighted the mystery of Belle’s mother was truly touching and interesting. The quick and witty humor of Lumierre and Cogsworth (and even Lefou) had me laughing more than I thought they would. The new songs, especially Evermore, were nice touches. The imagery was intense and stimulating. Be Our Guest was by far my favorite with all the colors and lights. 

(Side Note: I kept waiting for the delicious smell from Mickey’s Philharmagic in Disney World to be piped through the theater during Be Our Guest. Anyone else feel this way?)

There were some things I wasn’t keen on was at times it felt like some of the scenery lacked depth. I know, I just said I loved the imagery, but there were parts that were very movie set-esque. An example is when Belle is singing the Belle (Reprise) in the meadow. It was a little too obvious to me that it was on a set with digitally added scenery in the background. Also, the auto tune. I know that adjusting sound for songs can be necessary but Belle aka Emma Watson’s signing didn’t sound super natural at times. These are all things I can look past though because there were so many pros vs cons.

I’m literally on a post movie high from this film. I will say someone literally must have been chopping onions in the theater this entire movie because my eyes were constantly watering. I don’t know how one can see this film and not get a little emotional. There are a few scenes that really got me. I won’t say which so I don’t spoil too much.


But in all honesty, if you loved the animated version than you will love this one. It’s that good. I’m ready for round two!

ed sheeran divide review

Divide by Ed Sheeran Appreciation Post

 

Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate how talented Ed Sheeran is…

I’ve never been a huge Ed Sheeran fan. I like his music, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not a big enough fan to download his music the very second it drops. That was until Divide released. Since then, I have had Divide on repeat for the past week, especially at work. Sorry not sorry to my boss.

To say the least, I’m OBSESSED with this album. If I’m not listening to it for the 100th time at work, I’m jamming to it in my car during my commute. When Shape of You released, I was instantly hooked, but it’s not the only catchy song on this album. There are so many! Galway Girl has to be my top played song at the moment. It’s fun. It’s upbeat and I love the Irish fiddle incorporated into the mix. Eraser is another that I can’t help but blast, too.

Now that I have listened to this album, I have a new appreciation for Ed Sheeran. The guy is talented. I mean, did you see his one-man band at the Grammy’s this year? Not many artists do what he does.

So if you find yourself scrolling through iTunes or Spotify or whatever music stream you use, I recommend giving Divide a listen. What song is currently your favorite from Divide? Tell me in the comments!

meal prep

All About That Meal Prep Life

I started meal prepping like so many others about three weeks ago and thought I’d just share a bit about it here.

There are many reasons why I started: healthier eating habits, one take lunch preparation for the work week, money saver, and to try and step up my cooking game. More than anything it’s for health reasons.

I’m not a health nut by any means nor do I completely neglect my body of the good stuff that it needs. I’m somewhere in between, but I realized it was time to be better about what I consumed even though it has been hard. Trust me, I still want that cheeseburger and french fries. I still want to snack on chips and candy, but the longer you cut that out of your diet, the easier it becomes not to crave it. I still let myself indulge time to time because I believe that you should enjoy the little things in life and to treat yourself but with discretion. I  still enjoy french fries but just in a much smaller portion. When it comes to eating better, it really is about portion control. Hence, meal prepping.

So far, it hasn’t been too bad. I’ve actually enjoyed the meals I’ve made for lunch which consist of brown rice, grilled chicken marinated in some sort of sauce sparingly, and a paired vegetable. Each week I’ve changed it up from garlic and herb to lemon pepper to salsa. I’m no chef and I’ll be honest I sort of wing it when it comes to making everything, but it has been fun to experiment with new flavors and pairings. Even my fiancé has joined on the meal prepping journey with me and has given me an A+ approval on the meals I’ve made.

Keep in mind, I’ve only been doing this for lunch aka five days a week. I have to be strict with myself when it comes to breakfast, dinner, and the weekends. It’s easier said than done, but like I said before portion control can be your best friend when it comes to enjoying good food.

Let me know if you’d like me to share more about my meal prepping [healthier eating] journey by liking this blog post. I can share recipes, tips I learn along the way, workouts, etc. I’m open to tips and recipes from fellow meal preppers in the comments, too!

Quarter Life Crisis 

There is such a thing as a “quarter life crisis”. This coined phrase seems dramatic and made up, but as I venture through my twenties it really doesn’t seem made up at all. If anything, it perfectly sums up the lingering anxiety that I feel like most twenty-somethings, even thirty-somethings  experience at one point or another. 

What is it you might ask? It’s basically like having a mid-life crisis but in your twenties/thirties. But how could you possibly be having a crisis at such a young [adult] age? Well, there’s pressure from our parents and society, and let’s not forget about the social media posts that we choose to expose ourselves to on a daily basis as a reminder of all the things we are not doing or feeling while someone else is. Mix that all together with some uncertainty and unhappiness and you’ve got a quarter life crisis.

As a kid, I always thought I would have it all figured out in my twenties. My parents seemed to have their shit together, but as I’m about to embark on my twenty-seventh birthday in a few months, I’m beginning to wonder if my parents did have it all figured out like they made it seem to be. Hmm…

For me, my quarter life crisis hasn’t been a full blown meltdown or anything extreme, but I have had serious moments of uncertainty when it comes to my career. 

This past year, I debated the idea of going back to school to study something different. I like what I’m doing now, but I don’t feel fulfilled with it. Honestly, it scares me that I don’t feel 100% content with my job or my degree. A part of me feels stuck like I’m in a hole that I can’t get out of when in reality I can. It’s hard seeing others around me happy with their careers and be so highly rewarded for it when I haven’t felt that way yet. I’ve job searched (and currently I am still on the hunt) to see if maybe a different work environment could lift my spirits, but I haven’t been blessed yet with a new opportunity. I have tried to branch out at my current job to dip my hands in other aspects of daily operations just to gain experience and build my resume. Ultimately, this is where I came up with the idea to further my education in something a bit more complex than what I’m already doing but it’s overwhelming. You know, what if I realize half way through my studies that it isn’t right for me or what if it is and now I feel like I wasted my initial degree. It’s just a never ending cycle of what ifs and uncertainty that has been driving me insane. Ah!

I think we all have these moments of panic and while I’m still trying to figure out my “crisis”, I know things will work out in the end. I’m a full believer in everything happens for a reason. It sucks to have to wait but waiting is just half the battle. The other half is not giving up on yourself even when you want to. Nothing happens over night. At this moment, I’m just taking it one day at a time because that’s only way I now how to approach this personal predicament. If I let myself get too focused on the unknown road ahead of me that’s when the panic and anxiety kicks in and that’s just not how I want to feel all the time. I refuse to let something I’m not currently comfortable with control me or dictate my daily attitude. For now, I’m trying to make the most of what I am blessed with when it comes to my career and hope that with determination, dedication, and motivation it WILL work out for the best. 

Feel free to share in the comments if you’re currently struggling with something in your life, no matter your age. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed and would love to hear how others have handled their moments of panic.  

fifty shades darker movie review

Fifty Shades Darker: Movie Review

Well, well, well, Mr. Grey is back and better than ever!

Fifty Shades Darker was my favorite book from the trilogy, so I had high hopes for the film adaptation. After watching the first film, I felt like, as a fan of the books, it just didn’t live up to the hype that the books created. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the first movie, but I had just wished for more. That being said, Darker definitely brought more! More character development, more plot, and way more sex than the first movie. (This one was raunchy! I seriously was not prepared for the almost NC-17 rating that this film could have received if they had taken it any further than they already had. Yeah, it was that MUCH.)

fifty shades darker

Jamie Dornan knocked Christian Grey out of the park. This time around he seemed to understand Grey better than he did in Fifty Shades of Grey. He brought more intensity, humor, a range of emotions, and a whole lot more shirtless scenes! Christian genuinely smiles in this film and it happens more than once. Dakota Johnson I thought did a great job as Anastasia Steele. It was very apparent that the two of them felt more comfortable with their characters and interacting with one another than the first time around. Their personalities shined through and it was fun to watch them bring Christian and Ana to life.

Honestly, if you are a fan of the books, you’ll like the film. There are just a lot of little moments (unexpected humor) throughout that make it great along with the pivotal moments (the proposal and Christian dominating Leila), too. Don’t go see this movie thinking every scene will be exactly like the book. There were a few subtle changes, a few things left out, but it was still great in my opinion. I would share with you my favorite scene, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint which one that is. So much happens in this second film (book) that it’s a bit overwhelming.

My only complaints with this film were that it moved a bit fast and lacked to give depth to a few things. It felt like they just skimmed the surface at times. I was a little disappointed with the scene where Christian becomes the submissive. This was a scene I was looking forward to a lot. It was a huge moment in the book and while the scene leading up to that moment was perfection, it just lacked something for me. That’s just my opinion though.

tumblr_oks708enuv1v8hcteo1_540

And can we just talk about the soundtrack for this film? The music was amazing! It set the mood for  so many of scenes in so many ways. Helium by Sia is hands down my favorite. It’s really beautiful, plus I am a big Sia fan. She’s super talented. Her song is featured when Ana sees Christian with Leila and feels like she isn’t enough for him. See the film, listen to the song, and you will have major feels!

Despite the negative reviews it is receiving, this film was made with the fans in my mind. If you’re not one, than I wouldn’t recommend it. That being said, and being a fan, Fifty Shades Darker exceeded my expectations. It is definitely worth seeing (maybe even more than once just to stare at Jamie Dornan for two hours) if you enjoyed the books.

 

 

la la land movie review

La La Land: Movie Review

Ok, let me start off by saying that I originally wrote this blog post/review last Sunday. I had every intention to post it then, but as I was writing this was when my cat got sick. Don’t worry, she’s fine! After a trip to the vet earlier in the week, she got her dose of kitty antibiotics and is back to her old self. It wasn’t until today that I realized I still had this sitting in my drafts, so here it is…

la lan land

My fiance and I went to see La La Land last week and WOW! I have always enjoyed musicals (done right, that is) and classic Hollywood films and THIS film encompassed both.

If you haven’t seen the movie and would like to, please stop reading because I may reveal a few spoilers below.

I had high expectations going to see this film after hearing all the wonderful reviews and watching it basically sweep the Golden Globes. Now, I know why so many people love it and why it won so many awards because it deserves all of the awards.

The begins story in true musical form with a catchy number that takes place on the crowded highway of Los Angeles. Once the song is done, which is a shame because it is truly one of those songs that makes you want to get up and dance, we have our “meet cute” with Sebastian and Mia. We learn that Sebastian is a struggling jazz musician and Mia is a struggling actress. Coincidentally, they run into each other and their relationship blossoms as any Hollywood love story would. As they work toward their dreams, they hit a few bumps in the road that test their relationship and ultimately sends them on their separate ways. By doing this, it helps launch their careers and finally reach their aspiring dreams. Fast forward five years and we see our main characters living their lives happily without each other. When they finally are in the same room again, a simple glance and with the help of a few notes played on the piano by Sebastian, we are transported to the “what if” scenario. The one that shows the happily ever after of success and falling in love for Sebastian and Mia. However, that isn’t the case and the movie ends with them stealing one more glance and smirking.

Honestly, I LOVED the way this movie ended. I liked that they didn’t ride off into the sunset together. I know many people who didn’t like the ending for this reason and I believe it’s because they interpreted this film as a love story filmed with great acting, chemistry, brilliant singing and songwriting, and visually stimulating scenes. While I agree that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s acting and chemistry were extremely on point, and while the singing, songwriting, dancing, and overall film was an absolute joy, I did not view this film as a love story. It was never supposed to be about a love story, at least not the main focus. How I interpreted the film was Sebastian and Mia falling in love was just part of the story. What this story really is about is not falling in love with someone, but falling in love with what makes you happy. Their relationship was a part of their individual stories. We got to see in the end that for the both of them they were living out their dreams, just not together and that’s OK. Sometimes people are temporary in our lives, but that doesn’t change the memories and the emotions we may have for them. We will always carry a torch for the people in our lives that truly touch us in ways that mold us into the people we want to become. Even though Sebastian and Mia didn’t work out in the end, you can tell that in that very last scene they are happy for each other and be okay with how life turned out for one another.

Agree or disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinions this is just mine.

Setting aside the ending, this film was entertaining , charming, and so well-written. It’s nice to see a film that isn’t based off of a book, series, etc. La La Land is truly an original film that will make you feel a full range of emotions. I highly recommend it.