Escaping the desert heat – a day trip from Palm Springs.

A few weeks ago I was in Palm Springs for our initial rental search, if you haven’t read about that pop over here . The main focus of the trip was getting things in place for the move, but once we got almost everything taken care of we found ourselves with an extra day & decided to escape the 100+ temperatures by heading up the nearby mountains. There are plenty of options in how to do this, one of the easiest is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, but we are saving that for when friends come to visit.

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Checkout these views during your drive up to Idyllwild.

We went the longer route and drove up the mountain taking the Idyllwild route up and the Lake Hemet route back down. If you’ve never driven up a mountain it’s a bit of an interesting (and slightly terrifying) experience. The “north route” out of Palm Springs takes you past Cabazon & then you start climbing the hillside. Along the way you’ll be rewarded with awesome views, plenty of spots to stop and take photos, and a roughly 20 degree difference from the desert floor. If you are comfortable hiking and have the time it was beautiful up there, but we were on more of a tourist trip & didn’t venture too far from the car.

 Once you get to Idyllwild you’ll find an adorable little town with ample dining, gas, and more tchotchke shops that you really need. The community is home to a strongly arts community, music, and what I can only assume is an adorable theater. Checkout their tourism site for more info.

 Once you get your fill of Idyllwild you have a few options of getting back down, we opted to not back track but instead head down the other side and back into Palm Springs from the south. We had no idea what to expect on this trip but we blown away with what we found!  Not only is there an awesome viewing station but there is also Lake Hemet, which I could have stayed at all day!  The route down this side was also much less stress inducing from a driving perspective, so I might recommend that if you’re not a fan of crazy turns & steep hills.

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Who knew this was just a few miles away from the desert floor?

We’re already talking about getting back to up Lake Hemet in the future and wondering what it’s like in the Fall, so I’m sure it’ll be on the list of places for us to travel this year. I’m so excited about all of the new exploring I get to do once we head out to California. It’s such a different landscape than the Midwest and I’ve never lived outside of two states so this is very exciting!  Make sure to follow me on Instagram, I’m sure I’ll be sharing photos of this trip a lot over the next few weeks. PLUS it’s almost time for the move so you can follow along easiest there! 

Photojournal of Palm Springs + Smartphone Photography Tips

I mentioned in last week’s post that I just got back from a week in Palm Springs participating in my own mini-House Hunters experience. While I was there I did what I usually do… and took way too many photos of the mountains, the desert landscape, & the mid-century dream that is Palm Springs!  I thought I’d share a few favorites with you below & share a few tips that (I hope) help me take good photos!

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Lets kick things off with a pretty good intro to Palm Springs… water features and cocktails!
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The Triada is an adorable Marriott hotel located in the center of the city, while it’s not the standard Palm Springs Mid-Century it’s still one of my favorite places.
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The views around Palm Springs can’t be beat, who doesn’t love palm trees with a mountain in the distance?
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No distractions this time around, just the beauty of a mid-morning sun over the mountains.
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Finally something a little silly, because who doesn’t love a jumping photo?

While I won’t say that these are NatGeo level photos, I think I did an ok job of capturing not just the image but in some cases the moment.  The team at Aura Frames have created a smart frame that will help you share these moments (without a trip to CVS & the hassle of taking apart photo frames) in fact you don’t even need to think about what picture you want to put into the frame!  Aura Frames feature a smart technology that auto selects the best photos & those featuring the people you take pictures with most often.  This allows you to take the photos but let someone else worry about figuring out what to frame.

They also have some tips (that I used in a few of the photos above) to capture the best image in any given situation.

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One of my favorite tips from them is to force the focus, I love to take photos with a slight blur in the background (like in the first photo) I feel like it creates an interesting background.  I also really like the second photo above because of all the textures, you’ve got the mountains, the green from the plants/trees, the dirt, & the beautiful roof of the hotel.

What are some of your favorite tips for taking or displaying your photos?

House Hunting in Palm Springs

 

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I like many people in my generation just assume that we can do most everything online by ourselves. We have Uber, Postmates, Amazon Prime, and the list goes on… so why should the house hunt be any different?  Before we actually landed in Palm Springs we’d been looking at Zillow, HotPads, and any other rental site I could get my hands on for possible options on the market. I felt pretty confident that we’d be able to find something between a few rental houses, a townhouse or two listed by the owner, or our backup an apartment building…. BUT thankfully I went ahead and made contact with a local realtor that I’d met during a previous visit to the desert.

In addition to showing us everything we’d found on Zillow(and such) he was able to show us a ton more properties that weren’t listed on any of those sites!  I basically lived an episode of House Hunters (aka a DREAM) for a few hours from the backseat of his car. We didn’t find anything that first day that we wanted to sign for immediately but he promised he’d have some more options for us now that he had an idea of our tastes.

We then heard back from him about 2 days later & he wanted to show us a few more options that he’d found for us. He drove us by a few houses, pointed out a development or two, and finally pulled up to a building he felt would be perfect for us, and was it ever!  He totally hit the ball out of the park with a property that wasn’t listed anywhere online. If it weren’t for him I’d never have found this place (and it’s a great place!).

I can’t wait to share some pictures and such with you shortly, but before I do I wanted to pass along this story if only to say… maybe, just maybe, the old way of doing things can be better.  We are officially down to less than 6 weeks till I’m a resident of Palm Springs!!! The next few weeks are going to be spent enjoying Chicago, then it’s time to start packing, ugh, any tips for me on how to make that less painful?

 

 

Why Palm Springs?

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This sign says it best… #PalmSpringsIsBetter

Since I announced our big move last week I’ve heard from a few friends and family, “congrats… but Palm Springs?  Why”. When you think of Palm Springs you probably have one of two images… either an older community who loves to golf, or a place for the LGBT community to retire.  While those are both true… there are are some other images you might not be familiar with!

If you’ve either never been you probably don’t know about the bustling restaurant scene, the booming tourism industry, and the incredibly friendly and accepting people that I found. We loved being in Palm Springs pretty much from the moment we arrived because the people the city were so pleasant. The staff of our hotel, the people having dinner near us, & anyone we encountered on the streets were quick to say hello & welcome us!

The other big draw for me is that we can get a combination of things I love (that can be quite hard to find!); a strong LGBT community but also a small close knit community that you get from a smaller town.

I love parts of being in Chicago, but the fact that the city is so fragmented is one the things I hate. I’d love to be more involved in the gay community in Chicago but the area I live in is a 40 minute train ride away from Boystown… sure I could move to Boystown, but then I’d be leaving the things I like about the West Loop and getting some of the not so exciting elements of Boystown… but in Palm Springs it’s a small enough city that I can enjoy both aspects in a much more compact area & get to know my neighbors much easier!

I look forward to actually knowing my neighbors and looking forward to running into them around the city, cocktail parties rotating around the neighborhood, and being able to get involved (and feel like it actually makes a difference!).

The other big benefit of Palm Springs is that while it is a smaller place, it’s not exactly Iowa… it’s only a few hours to LA or San Diego & if you visit in the winter you’ll see that it’s still a playground for lots of LA and Hollywood types, so we get the benefit of that in our shopping, bars, and dining scenes.  Also you best believe that a community of LGBT folks are going to have some great theaters and local talent ( which I can’t wait to experience)!

In a few weeks my partner and I will be heading out to west to pick out first Palm Springs neighborhood! I can’t wait to share that experience with you! BUT before that is Pride Month, so I’m looking forward to lots of upcoming fun and travel, make sure you’re following me on Instagram to come along!

Pride Month Shopping Tips

Looking for some new gear to celebrate pride this month?  I’ve got a few favorite companies that I though I’d share to give you some  inspiration!

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In NYC or Philly? Stop by Big Gay Ice Cream for some delicious desserts!

Gay Pin Guys are a great option if you are looking to add a little flair for Pride season.  You can find all different types of pins, pride specific pieces, sayings popularized by Drag Race, fun little nods to LGBT culture, or my personal favorite… a Friend of Dorothy badge of honor!  These would make great additions to either travel bags or outfits!  They are also pretty affordable starting at $12

I’ve got two clothing retailers that I love for Pride season: Swish Embassy & Lockwood51

If you prefer to be a bit more pop culture driven in your outfits to might prefer Swish Embassy. You’ll find fabulously designed shirts featuring divas, icons, and of course the Golden Girls!  This is a Canadian company that designs and prints all kinds of products, T shirts, Tanks, Phone Cases, or Tights can all be found on their website!

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Here is my friend Katie and I wearing shirts by the Swish Embassy last year at Pittsburgh Pride.

The other recommendation for apparel is Lockwood51.  A quick glance at the site and you’ll see these a bit less daytime pride event and maybe a better fit for your evening events (unless you’re comfortable with a little controversy) . I personally love the messaging of a few of their designs, encouraging us to stay Queer or proudly displaying our Homosexual Tendencies. They also designed a special shirt for Pride this year with the LGBT History Instagram & you’ll likely see that one show up on me for Pride this year!

Finally if you’re in the market for some footwear guess what… you have a few options in this area as well!  There are the major market lines like Nike & Adidas who typically release a special Pride themed shoe each year, but did you know that Bear Pride shoes exist?  Yep!  You can order a pair here if you’re in the market for either Bear, Leather, Lesbian, Bi, or plenty of other options!

Those arms…😍☺️❤️ Esos brazos…😍☺️❤️

A post shared by Pride Shoes (@theprideshoes) on

Where do you typically turn for Pride Gear?
Any favorites I missed?

Share your favorites with me in the comments or tag me on Instagram (where your can. bet I’ll be positing a few of these over the month!)

And We’re Back!

Hello again!
I’ve got some exciting news and developments in my life so now seems like a great time to get back to something that I enjoyed doing, but sort of lost touch with… blogging!  I’m excited to get back into this & start sharing again; it just so happens that that I’ll have lots to share over the next few months!

We’re moving!  My partner and I are finally saying farewell to the city we met in, the city that we’ve loved for the past 5 years together (a bit longer for him)

Where are we moving you ask?  I’ve written about it on the blog and shared endless photos on my Instagram….

We’re embracing our love of heat, mid-mod, and small towns & heading to Palm Springs!

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I fell in love with Palm Springs about a day into our first trip & knew at that time that it would be a part of my life in some way.  Initially we were planning to move to San Diego, but after spending some more time in Palm Springs, looking at houses, & weighing our options Palm Springs has a longer list of positives!

Over the next few months I’m excited to share our journey from the mid-west to the Mid-Century!

3 Must Visit Rooftop Bars in Chicago – What Will K Said

 I’ve always subscribed to the belief that summer starts Memorial Day weekend, despite how “unofficially” that might be.  The workweek tends to get lighter, the weekends seem shorter, & you try to cram as much into the summer as much!  One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to be outside as much possible, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite outdoor spaces in Chicago over the next few weeks!  

This week I’m going to focus on everyone’s favorite day of the week… Sunday Funday! There are tons of places to grab a drink in Chicago but drinks outside on a patio tend to taste better for some reason & thankfully there are plenty of great spots throughout the city.  My personal favorite rooftop spots are : Zed451, I/O at the Godfrey, &ck Cindys at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.

Zed451 is a Brazilian steak house, so not somewhere that typical frequent but during the summer the outdoor patio because my favorite spot to spend a Sunday afternoon. The drinks are amazing, they offer both individual sized as well as group portions, the staff is approachable/quick, & the space is quite beautiful.  The patio has ample seating, so you aren’t fighting for a spot (sure if you go at 3pm you’ll be waiting but if you get there early it’s usually easy to find a spot).  They also have a limited food menu available outside, which is a nice touch if you are going to be out there for hours drinking! 

I/O at the Godfrey is a cool spot because you can actually use it year round!  They have a retractable roof so in the summer you get to enjoy the sun & the winter you get a little bit of a “greenhouse” effect.  This is a combination restaurant/bar, you’ll find a full menu for both brunch & dinner plus pitchers of their house cocktails.  The Godfrey is a beautiful hotel & this space blends nicely into the modern design.  This one can be a bit hit or miss in terms of the crowd, it tends to attract a “be seen” group in the later afternoon. 

Cindys at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is a hard one for me to recommend, the views are amazing & drinks are good, but it gets crowded quick & service suffers.  There are not a ton of seats available so it’s mostly standing room only, which is fine but when crowded isn’t the way I like to spend a few hours. They do have a food menu, however I find the food to be incredibly over priced for the offerings – just stop by here for drinks & head downstairs for a much better dinner – you’ll find either Shake Shack or the uber fancy Cherry Circle Room.