Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Working out and living a healthy lifestyle is a challenge for many people who are for the most part “healthy” or at least do not have a health condition in their lives, but when I hear of stories like the one Jason Romero of Denver Colorado my respects to the man for leading by example. And he clearly goes to show that many times our biggest challenge is the limiting mindset that we trap ourselves around.

On March 24, 2016, at Santa Monica Pier, a blind runner began to make history. Romero, a world record holder in multiple distances and times, will begin VisionRunUSA – a 3-month journey across the U.S., on foot. When Jason finishes his run at Faneuil Hall in Boston, he will become the first blind person ever to run across the U.S. WOW!

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Group that accompanied Romero from Santa Monica to LA City Hall

Guiding him the first two days of his cross country adventure was Vincent Hau, MD and PhD, a vitreoretinal physician and surgeon at the Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center.
Dr. Hau is an experienced marathoner who has a passion for running. He is also passionate about helping his patients with their retinal health. When Dr. Hau met Jason Romero at the California International Marathon last year, Romero told him of his plans to run from Los Angeles City Hall to New York City Hall, (although officially starting at the Santa Monica Pier with his foot in the ocean). In 2015, Dr. Hau ran the Boston Marathon as a guide runner for the visually impaired. Having such a positive experience doing that, Hau called Romero up and told him he’d be honored to be his guide for the first leg of his journey if he’d have him.

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Romero with Dr. Vincent Hau just a few steps away from LA City Hall

The run started at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 24th at the Santa Monica Pier and proceeded to LA City Hall (about 17-18 miles). The next morning, Friday, March 24th, the run started at 4 a.m. in front of LA City Hall and Jason ran 50 miles. This took him just past Chino City Hall. Jason will continue to try to run around 50 miles a day until he reaches NYC City Hall around Memorial Day. Adrian Broca (Los Angeles, Calif.), visually impaired marathon and ultramarathon runner, will run with Romero the first week in support of VisionRunUSA. Romero and Broca will also be joined by Mark Lucas, executive director of United States Association of Blind Athletes.

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Before taking off in Santa Monica

Jason was diagnosed at 14-years old with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that gradually decreases peripheral and central sight, visual acuity and the ability to perceive light. Despite setbacks and obstacles, he went on to become an honor student, attorney, business executive at GE and Western Union and CEO of a non-profit school for children with Autism. In 2014, at 43 years old, Jason had lost 85% of his sight and suddenly found himself hopeless and depressed. That’s when he reached out to the United States Association of Blind Athletes and started running again. Running and connecting with blind athletes across the U.S. renewed his joy for life.

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Romero with Dr. Hau before Starting

Romero will run roughly 3,200 miles, to Boston, in the span of around 60 days. Romero will cross 14 state lines (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts) to inspire Americans, sighted and not.

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Along the Route

You can follow Jason’s journey on social media (links below), join the conversation (#VisionRunUSA) and track his progress across the country on his website: www.VisionRunUSA.com

#AVivirLA has always promoted a healthy living while seizing the life you’ve got to the fullest and when I was approached by Hampton by Hilton to motivate people to embrace their weekend getaways and unleash their inner Seekender I knew it was a perfect match. I could not pass on an opportunity that would allow me to promote what AVivirLA is about and all while working with a brand that does the same for people when being away from their home.

We All Grow Summit? Yeah, that was an amazing experience that allowed me to unleash my inner Seekender in so many levels and meet some fascinating and inspiring people.

A Seekender is someone who takes advantage of the weekends to explore with travel being at the center of attention. These weekend travelers are overall seeking experiences over material goods through sports, outdoors, music and food!

The private bedroom area of our Queen Suites feature a king size bed featuring the amazing Clean and Fresh Hampton bed. Take comfort in knowing we wash duvets fresh for every guest. So relax and enjoy your favorite program or movie on the 32? HDTV; or prop your laptop on our handy lap desk and get to work.

Credit: Hampton by Hilton Media Center

The #WeAllGrow Summit in Long Beach, Calif. kicked off with an Official Welcome Cocktail Party presented by Hampton by Hilton where influencers, bloggers and content creators gathered to enjoy the night and listen to singer/songwriter Maria Del Pilar while breathing in a beautiful view of the Long Beach marina outside Hotel Maya. The night was vibrant with music, food, cocktails and conversations.

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For those traveling to Long Beach from other places there was an infinite amount of activities that could have been done around the city because downtown was a hop away from the bridge and Los Angeles was 15 miles away from the Hampton by Hilton hotel. That night after the event since I really wanted to unleash my inner Seekender I drove to Santa Monica to jog along the beach and on the pier. Running is one of my favorite hobbies and even when I travel I make time to workout. That night view in Santa Monica was what my soul needed.

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Credit: Hampton by Hilton Media Center

The second day of the conference was filled with empowering talks and workshops ranging from how to grow your online presence on social media (Instagram) to how to have your blog monetizing within the first year of being launched. There were break-out sessions in between and it was there where attendees also let their Seekender experience unleash while visiting the activation booths.

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I got to sit in the red beauty below for the first time and I will possibly get to test drive it in the near future and that was one of my all-time favorite Seekender experiences:

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The lunch was delicious and don’t get me started on the flan!!! #NomNom! It sure gave me that midday energy I needed to continue with the busy agenda that everyone involved with We All Grow had planned for us. Kudos to them for such great vision, organization and inspirational event. Wow, they really went above and beyond for us!

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Are you interested in being a Seekender?

Then do the following if you attended the event then share your #WeAllGrow Summit adventures for a chance to WIN a Seekender escape to paradise. One lucky winner can enjoy a weekend trip for two to a Hampton by Hilton hotel destination, including roundtrip airfare and complimentary hotel accommodations (prize value up to $2,000).  To enter, participants need to upload their Seekender-inspired shot and tag @HamptonbyHilton on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #WeGoTogether or #SweepstakesEntry. Posts must be shared between March 3-10, 2016 and don’t forget to join the conversation here: http://hil.tn/OpjMxC.

That Friday evening I knew I had to let my inner Seekender go wild when I began shooting some killer shots of the Long Beach marina as the sunset decided to gift us with an unforgettable view. I checked off my bucket list taking an amazing shot of the Long Beach marina, a place that I have lived in for the past 7 years. Take a look:

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A recent survey about travel trends, conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Hampton by Hilton survey uncovered specific Seekender findings related to Hispanics. Some of the interesting results:

  • 65% of Hispanics value experiences vs. materials when it comes to their bucket lists
  • 72% of (working) Hispanic Boomers think that checking all the activities off their ‘bucket list’ would make them feel more accomplished than getting promoted to an executive level position
  • 61% of Hispanics say traveling somewhere they’ve never been before best describes their idea of an ‘escape’
  • 90% of Hispanics feel that WHO they go on a trip with is more important than where they’re going

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Saturday was filled with another busy day of workshops and motivational speakers. I thought that I would not be able to capture a lot of those moments in pictures/videos because my phone was dying by 10 am, but Hampton by Hilton was there to rescue me with their charging station areas. In addition, I was fighting a cold at that time and they really helped me with their hot teas at the station. Loved that I was able to charge my phone and re-fuel my body too.

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Hampton by Hilton serves value-conscious and quality-driven travelers with more than 2,020 properties totaling more than 200,000 rooms in 16 countries and territories. High quality accommodations and amenities, such as complimentary Wi-Fi, Hampton’s free On the House® hot breakfast, multi-unit Power Cubes and the brand’s signature Clean and fresh Hampton bed®, contribute to Hampton by Hilton ranking as a leader in its segment.

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Saturday night culminated with an outdoor fiesta where all attendees were able to exchange contact information, summarize their favorite aspects of the event and get some dancing in their system! Wepa!

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Sadly, the summit came to an end when attendees checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning, but even the Seekender experience did not because the hotel was looking out for everyone and they had their famous breakfast-on-the-go bags ready for everyone to take to their next destination. When you visit any Hampton by Hilton location you can request for a quick and easy breakfast like these when needed. In addition, On the House Hot Breakfast is a free, hot breakfast served daily with fresh-baked waffles and hearty oatmeal with toppings.

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I hope you can experience the fun of being a Seekender and that in your next destination trip you truly let that inner adventurous in you go wild and don’t forget to #AVivirLA [vida.]

Thanks to Hampton by Hilton for believing in my work and for allowing me to be a part of this #Seekender experience where was able to capture so much of Long Beach in such a short period of time.

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Disclaimer: I was compensated for my work by Hampton by Hilton for this post, but all opinions and experiences are my very own.

Friends of AVivirLA I wanted to share with all of you my experience driving the Hyundai Sonata Sport 2016 in a light grey exterior color. It was a spacious sedan and perfect for our mini get-away to San Diego to arrive in style to the #NewElantra 2017 Auto Launch, which was held in Imperial Beach.

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My fiancée and I drove it for an entire week before and after the event and it was like always a great experience where we test drove it to and from work, during our trip and even to drop off family members to the airport. The trunk of the car was huge because we were able to fit 4 large suitcases.

The spacious seating is perfect for long distances because your passengers will have plenty of leg room and there will be no complaining. It will offer a smooth ride complemented by comfortable seats.

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The easy-to-use controls and touchscreen were perfect for pairing my phone apps to the dash and being able to control music from the touchscreen and easier to use screen while driving.

Since we participated in the #NewElantra auto launch event the time we had with the Sonata Sport was shortened and the fact that it rained on Sunday when we had planned to do activities with the car was not fun. We were very limited to the places we could visit around San Diego, but we still made the best of and tried to not frown.

We visited Coronado Island and walked around the Coronado Hotel, which is a landmark in San Diego. We then drove to San Diego mission, walked around the beautiful grounds and stayed for a beautiful mass. We had lunch on Sunday in Old Towne San Diego and the Hyundai Sonata got us there. We had some delicious and authentic Mexican food. It started pouring as soon as we were done eating so we decided to drive back home (sad times), but we made it home safe and sound.

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Throughout the weekend the rearview camera and automatic headlights were very helpful while pulling in and out of parking lots. The automatic braking system also debuts on the Limited 2.0T Sonata Sport model.

The mileage in the car was very economic because with all of our traveling we never had to re-fuel during our activities. It’s definitely a gas saver and I love that!

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This model starts at $21,750, but I won’t share too many more details because I would like for you to go check it out at your closest dealership and let me know your thoughts? I want you to discover some of the other cool new features on your own.

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I had the honor of participating in the Hyundai Elantra 2017 launch event at Imperial Beach, California in January and what an amazing experience. It was my first of I am sure many auto launch events that I’ll participate in (fingers crossed). All opinions below are my own and are based off of my personal experience throughout the weekend.

On Friday evening immediately after LA traffic faded my fiancé and I drove to Imperial Beach and checked-in to the beautiful Pier South Resort that is less than 5 miles from the Mexico-U.S. border. The moment I walked into the resort I felt tranquility and peace since you can hear the waves because the backyard to the hotel has the most astonishing view to the ocean.

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We checked into our room and the Hyundai team had left us some cool tech. gadgets such as a selfie stick and a phone camera lens, which helps capture more in a frame. I loved it! Also the door to the rooms had the #NewElantra etched on the glass and even on the elevators. In the lobby of the hotel the Hyundai team had a well thought-out welcome reception with food trucks (very San Diego style), drinks, music and all invited fellow bloggers to interact and share the night with.

I was starving when we arrived after a stressful drive and I opted for having the oven baked pizza and the below plate with delicious food from a local catering company called MIHO. The photo says it all:

That evening we are able to connect with Brandon Ramirez from the Hyundai team and learn more about the great experience they had planned for us over the next couple of days! He was great to talk to and actually didn’t give us many details, but told us we were in for an unforgettable and great treat.

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The Hyundai team had planned for us a s’mores and campfire setting in the back patio of the resort. We were given some blankets that we got to keep as a keepsake.

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Credit: Hyundai

At the end of the night we made it back to our room and called it a night because we knew we had a long/fun day waiting for us to enjoy the #NewElentra on Saturday so we wanted to be well rested.

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The next morning we received a comprehensive general overview from Jim Trainor from Hyundai (picture above) of the market and how the Elantra is positioned compared with other brands. It was very educational so that we knew what we would be driving that afternoon.

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After the presentations we were divided into four groups so that we would get the hands-on experience of learning different features of the #NewElantra. Some of the highlights included learning about Apple Play (mirrors some of your cellphone apps. on the auto screen – AMAZING), Clarifi technology system, the seats with organic foam and special structure to optimize the noise reduction, which was a big highlight because I got to experience that during our test drive and its new design features:

  • The new front design has bolder lines and headlights
  • The 16” alloy wheels
  • Door handle is lit
  • The key advantage detects the keys for opening trunk
  • Spacious interior, which is the same as the interior of the Cadillac CTS
  • 33 miles / gallon
  • Motor has good torque

After all the mini demonstrations we were set free to test drive with our partners and my fiancé and I went together in an elegant white Limited Elantra that we chose for the earlier part of our day. Everything went smoothly until we went into a 5 minute panic attack after we missed the exit we should have taken and before we knew it we were feet away from the last U.S. road (we didn’t have our passports). Within minutes we could have been in Tijuana, Mexico. WOW, that was a scare. We turned into that last exit and managed to get back on the designated route that would take us to our first pit stop. Phew!

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During that drive we saw that the cabin is more spacious than the previous year’s, and that new safety technologies include autonomous emergency braking, high-beam assist, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

In addition, improvements also included a new Integrated Memory Seat that remembers a driver’s preferred seating position. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob add a luxurious feel typically reserved for top of the line vehicles.

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Credit: Hyundai

After our first pit stop with snacks and drinks we traveled to Mount Woodson Country Club where lunch waited for us at this beautiful venue. My fiancé and I are starting to look-up wedding venues and this place has made it onto our list of possible places to host our wedding.

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We were able to talk to fellow bloggers and influencers over lunch and as soon as were done we went off to the second part of our drive where we had the opportunity to drive to an iconic place of San Diego. This time we drove in a bright red Elantra.

My fiancé had never been to La Jolla Cove so I decided to take her there so that she would be introduced to this beautiful place. We walked around for a bit and snapped some pics. She loved it and wants to go back! Before we knew it we were driving back to the resort because we had to be back in time for a dinner reception at 6 p.m.

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The #NewElantra ride was smooth, the Apple Play made it possible for us to get to our destinations after we figured out how to use it and even send text messages from there. We enjoyed test driving this sedan and loved that we could compare its different features to that of the Hyundai Sonata since we were granted one of those models to arrive in style to the event from our friends at DriveShop. It’s hard to say which car was my favorite because they are both unique in their own way, but I may need to opt for the #NewElantra because of its newer capabilities and upgrades.

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Credit: Hyundai

This event was truly remarkable and I want to thank everyone involved in making this an unforgettable experience for all of us bloggers and influencers. I can tell that the Hyundai team went above and beyond in their planning and execution.

Price starts at $17,150 for the #NewElantra 2017 and you can find more information on how to get yours here: http://www.hyundai/elantra

Do you see yourself driving an Elantra 2017? Is it in your plans to buy one of these for the next year?  I want to hear from you and please let me know if I can be helpful to you based on my driving experience. Would love to answer your questions.

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Credit: Hyundai

I have a collaborator on this blog post, Ignacio Rodriguez, a “compadre” of mine who happens to be from the same little town in Mexico as myself called Jerez in Zacatecas and he’s given us some helpful tips if you are planning your next trip to be at Zion National Park located in Utah. Ignacio is also the Co-Founder of Dos Gallos Collection and I had him featured on my blog in the past.

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After seeing his amazing photography I have added it to my bucket list of destinations to visit. Thanks Ignacio for sharing your experience! Hope you all enjoy as much as I did reading and browsing the colorful photos.

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Ignacio: You want to start preparing for your trip to Zion by having the proper equipment. You will want to have proper hiking shoes, comfortable clothes for the weather and time of year, water bottles, backpack to carry snacks and food, a walking stick, camera and an open mind ready to be amazed.

I recommend at least two days to appropriately experience the main hikes. But even then you will still barely scratch the surface of Zion. A friend just recently went for a day and is already planning his next trip there to do it right.

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One thing I highly recommend doing is booking your hotel and your trip with a minimum 1-2 months in advance. Over 7 million people visit the park annually so a lot of the hotels will sell out months in advance. There are also permits needed to get to certain areas of the park and those sell out fast and months in advance as well.

Getting there

To get to Zion National Park I rented a car which cost me about $18 a day. I like to rent when doing these long road trips so that I don’t worry about being stranded in the middle of nowhere in case my car breaks down. If you go with multiple people then you have the option of getting a bigger vehicle.

During the busy season which is from March-September there is a shuttle system that transports people from different parts of the park to other areas. It is very easy to use. You can park at the visitor center and ask the park rangers for flash floods warning levels at the narrows and different trails that you can hike that day depending on the weather and your physical fitness level.

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Sleeping there
You can camp at Zion National Park, but I have not done that yet. My first time I went, it was during the summer of 2015. Since I booked my trip late the closest hotel I could find was in St George, Utah. Which is about a 35-45 minute drive from Zion National Park. There is a town called Hurricane which is closer. And Springdale, Utah which is the best place to stay when going to Zion National Park as it is just next to the gates to the park. I stayed at a place called Terrace Brook Lodge in the town of Springdale during my recent visit. This place cost me $50 a day. It is not the nicest, but you will spend most of the day at the park so it was no big deal to me. They do have a continental breakfast as well.

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Food/diners
We ate at Wildcat Willis in Springdale and the food there is amazing! I had the “chile verde” omelet and it was delicious with the right amount of spicy kick to it. For dinner I had the country fried steak which was filling and tasty. The next day I had some amazing rack of ribs.

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Snacks for hikes
I make it a point to bring more food than I need because you never know if you will spend more time hiking than expected. I like to bring fresh fruit like apples and oranges as well as protein bars, trail mix, and even pop tarts because of the high amounts of sugar in them. They will give you that quick boost of energy needed. You will be burning a lot of calories and be far away from any places that sell food for a long time. I also bring 2 or more 16 oz. water bottles with me on any hike.

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You will also be without cell phone signal for most of the time in the park so putting it on airplane mode is the best thing to do to conserve power.

Angels Landing
Angels landing is one of the most popular hikes at Zion National Park. It is about a 3 hour hike and you go up some steep inclines and will quickly find out if you are afraid of heights. You want to be safe and if you do find out you are afraid of heights then it is best that you stop where you feel comfortable. Halfway through this hike you arrive at a location where there are chains embedded into the mountain so that you can grab onto and not fall down the steep cliffs. But if you are brave enough to venture to the very end of this trail the views are mind blowing.

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The Narrows
The Narrows Arrows hike is also a very popular hike at Zion National Park. It is about a 4-6 hour hike. You hike up a river with huge canyon walls on both sides. It is a picturesque hike the whole way as you go in and out of shady areas where sometimes the sun only hits when it is directly above. This hike can get exciting as sometimes you will be waist deep in water to keep going up. It can actually be a one way 10 hour hike, but if you are being time conscious then 2 hours up the river will be enough. As you will be coming back for another two hours.

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Canyon Overlook Trail
This is the shortest hike I’ve done at Zion National Park and the final view once you reach its end will be just as rewarding as Angels Landing and the Narrows. It is fairly easy, but can be a bit challenging at parts during the winter if there is ice. It is about a one hour hike in total.

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Zion National Park will make you want to keep exploring other national parks in Utah such as Bryce and Arches National Park. But one of the reasons I also love Zion is because it is relatively super close to us who live in LA. If you have it on your bucket list, check it off NOW. You will wish you would have done it earlier.

Text and All Photo Credit: Ignacio Rodriguez (DO NOT reuse or re-purpose without his consent).

The days are only getting longer and this allows for more time to spend on the slopes while flashing through the beautiful powder whether that be on your snowboard or ski set. I’ve always been told by snowboard and skiing “aficionados” that spring is the best time to get onboard these fun adventures.

And I think they are correct for when visiting Park City, Utah. I remember being there in the spring during my last visit and I spent an entire full day on the perfectly groomed trails.

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The sun warms up throughout the day, which makes for a very easy and comfortable ride because you don’t get burned by the cold temperature as you stride down a slope. I recall that you can easily ski in a t-shirt underneath that bluebird sky.

Also, the city is less crowded and busy season is over if you were to visit in February, which is was when I visited with a group of friends. You can experience a laidback, relaxed vibe all across Park City.

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On my last trip to this beautiful place I recall arriving on a late Friday afternoon, we made it to our hotel and went out in Downtown Park City, which by the way is very attractive. The dining and nightlife will make you go back.

It was Saturday morning when we woke up at the crack of dawn and headed out to the Canyons Resort to get our snowboard and ski on. We rented equipment there and it was truly an unforgettable and fun experience. I cannot wait to return.

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The hills were some of the best and lonely ones I have even been on, which made it easier to get more rounds completed.

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We enjoyed the powder until the resort closed. We were tired and went back to the hotel to dip into the jacuzzi for a couple of hours and then made it back to Downtown Park City once again for dinner and hung out at a local pub. We had dinner at Bangkok Thai on Main Restaurant and the food was delicious. The restaurant vibe was classy too.

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On Sunday we made it to Gorgoza Park for snow tubbing. I was pretty sore from some unexpected falls the day before that this experience was much better for me. We got on large inflatable tubes equipped with handles on each side and a hill packed with snow. You can take the little ones down the bunny sized hill or try one of the four advanced lanes if you’re feeling like an adventure. There are easy-to-use-lift-served tubing lanes that you can ride as many times as you want.

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This snow trip was a lot of fun and below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your spring visit just like I did:

  1. Follow the sun: To get the best snow, hit the trails with the most sun on them in the morning. The groomer’s will be soft and smooth. Due to our geographical location, most of these runs will be Southwest facing in the morning hours. Be prepared for changing snow surfaces throughout the day.
  2. Hydrate: Many people forget about staying hydrated in the high alpine environment. The sun and dry mountain air will quickly suck the moisture out of you. Drink plenty of water or delicious Gatorade before, during and after your visit.
  3. Apply sunscreen: The Utah sun is very, very powerful to begin with. Put yourself up at 10,000ft and those UV rays intensify dramatically. Lather up with some Sunscreen to prevent skin damage.

Money and Time Saver Tips
 
Buy your lift tickets online in advance for the lowest price guarenteed and skip the ticket window line completely.
 Rent your ski’s online in advance for 20% off and save time.

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Lexus hopes to pump a little high-powered adrenaline and glamour into its lineup with the LC 500, which was recently unveiled at the North American International Auto Show. The sport coupe, with four seats, is expected to be priced at around $100,000. It is powered by a 5.0-liter, V-8 engine borrowed from the high-performance GS F sedan and RC F coupe that generates 467 hp and 389 pounds-feet of torque.

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It was meticulously crafted with a variety of materials that enhance structural rigidity-including high-strength steel, lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum-the LC also embraces the art of performance with an all-new 10 speed Sport Direct-Shift transmission and a new advanced multilink suspension with razor’s-edge precision.

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Every aspect of the LC is crafted to forge an unprecedented connection between the driver and the drive. The LC features a low center of gravity engineered to enhance driving dynamics, along with low-set, deeply contoured seats and an ergonomically advanced steering wheel with magnesium paddle shifters.

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This car is sure to evoke an emotional new driving experience and introduce the next expression of Lexus performance.

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Text Credit: Lexus

This post was inspired during my time off for the holidays. There’s no time of the year that I look forward to the most than this one – Christmas and New Years. During this special time I head home to visit my parents and siblings whom I sometimes go weeks or a month without seeing because of distance, but technology nowadays keeps us together.

I feel that technology can be a double edged-sword though since it can also separate us from those we spend time with because we can find ourselves stuck like glue to our phones, tablets and computers during family time.

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While many rejoice from checking off names from their list of presents that they’ll purchase, giving and receiving costly gifts I decide to not fall into that trap. Although, it’s so easy to do so with many television and radio commercials, billboards and ads thrown at us everywhere we turn during this time of the year.

I do think a gift would have more meaning if it was given at random and not during a holiday because it’s then when I feel they come from the heart and not to show off during the family gathering around the Christmas tree.

But, if we were to take a step back or even retract several more to evaluate life I am sure many would conclude that the materialistic world we’ve built with our actions has no importance at all. Sadly, so many of us have followed what others have done or what we’ve automatically thought to be “the right thing to do”.

On Christmas Day may we all find the courage to open our body, soul and spirit to really embrace the real meaning of Christmas, which is the celebration of Christ’s birth. And may you not place so much importance on opening countless and expensive gifts where you end up broke or in huge debt to simply see 5 seconds of awe.

On Christmas Day may we look deeper into our existence and really evaluate our life and where we’re taking it.

Ask yourself:

Have you loved enough?

Have you given non-materialistic items without measure?

Have you forgiven those that did you wrong?

Have you NOT judged?

Have you lived a happy life with what you have?

Have you lived a simple life?

These and many other reflections can be made possible on this day without the need to open pretentious gifts. Let’s open the gift of love and appreciation this holiday season as we surround ourselves with family and close friends.

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And remember that the best gift is not the biggest or most expensive one because the most valuable present usually comes from acts that the human being cannot measure. Two of those important demonstrations can include time and attention that we give our families and friends.

Stone & Cloth is more than just a Backpack & Tote Bags Company!

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It was a great and celebratory surprise to see Stone & Cloth be doing so well after I was first introduced to its founder Matthew Clough, the creative mind behind the label, for a school project during my Master’s program at USC in 2012.

Since then I saw that they teamed up with the car company Scion in a campaign highlighting creatives that are “driven for success”. They partnered in a commercial that aired in national television and were highlighted in a video series interviewing small businesses that are making a difference such as Clough.

Now three years later I see how it’s thriving and that’s truly commendable because it’s a small company based out of Los Angeles, CA (#MadeinLA) that is making a huge difference all the way with people in Tanzania and Kenya. Stone & Cloth has partnered with the non-profit Knock Foundation to ensure that scholarships are provided for kids in those areas who are struggling with limited access to an education.

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Stone & Cloth makes stylish, sleek and functional handcrafted canvas backpacks, weekend bags, and totes for men and women. They are a socially conscious line of product!

When I spoke to Clough in 2012 he shared the primitive beginnings of his vision and you can see them in the short video:

A couple classmates and I were taking a Public Relations course where we focused on this up-and-coming small company already making a big difference to tackle global issues – access to an education.

As we all know the global education crisis is a huge problem in our world, but thanks to companies like Stone & Cloth and its founder this issue receives some attention. To put things into perspective more than 124 million children and adolescents around the world are illiterate, according to UNESCO and your Stone & Cloth purchase provides 25 hours of classroom learning.

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With Christmas being 7 days away you can do a whole lot by giving a gift that will go a long way to that person on your list for which you have no idea what to buy. Visit Stone & Cloth and take 10% off your next purchase.

You will never regret making a purchase with a purpose!

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Photo Credit: Stone & Cloth website

It’s accurate to say that at least 350 days out of the year you’ll be wearing sunglasses in Los Angeles (LA), California and while many people think of them as an accessory — they are an essential piece of gear. Honestly, you can’t leave your home without them in our sunny-like So. Cal. weather year-round.

From an outdoor adventurer to a business person working in a corporate office you’ll agree that without this piece of protective eyewear your day is set to be pretty challenging because you won’t be protected from UV rays and glares.

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While living in LA you are almost forced to live the best of two worlds— the beach and city life. For our sunglasses needs we no longer need to exchange this gear when going from one environment to the other because Luke Shades gives you the flexibility to sport them perfectly at the beach or the city.

Luke Shades allows you to go from a casual and laid-back look to a sophisticated one within the same pair of wooden sunglasses.

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Luke Shades was founded by Luke, a Midwestern entrepreneur with a taste to coastal style and quality craftsmanship. Luke knew he wanted to carve out an adventurous career so he set to create his first pair of wooden sunglasses by hand from spare plywood during his college years.

Back in the Midwest he decided to create, test and tweak his new wooden sunglasses concept. After months of trials and updates, he set about performing the ultimate test on his fellow lifeguards and the sunglasses stood out in saltwater and island parties. Luke Shades are still hand crafted by Luke himself.

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In recent years wooden accessories and even phone cases have become very popular and handmade wooden sunglasses are very much in style too so sport a pair on your next adventure because Luke Shades were created for the explorers and those young at heart.

For the adventurers doing hiking, fishing, rock climbing, beach bumming or just about any other outdoor activity, having the right protection for your eyes is crucial just as much for those driving in the city or walking beside skyscrapers.

If you want to stay close to home and support those with an entrepreneurial spirit then this new company you should consider, in fact, because they are hand-carved in small batches to produce quality pairs. These one-of-a-kind pairs are handcrafted from tropical hardwoods and fit with colorful mirrored lenses for a bold look.

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Luke Shades are impact and scratch resistant UV400 polarized lenses that fit into each pair of reinforced Luke Shades frames. Additionally, each pair comes with a handcrafted protective hard case and also beeswax and natural oils blend to re-shine and seal your shades from moisture and dirt.

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For my first pair of I opted in owning the Honduran Rosewood in Green Lens Color. I am very happy with my choice. I loved the wood species in these shades and the green is my favorite color so choosing them was a no brainer.

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Know that they will continue to be a trend in 2016 so get your pair now and take advantage of their 20% off holiday sale. Whether it be a gift for you, a family member or friend you’ll be appreciated. For all four styles, prices top out near $144, which is a modest sum for an eccentric addition to your sunglasses artillery. Visit their site and shop their different styles and lens colors.

Vist and follow Luke Shades on Instagram to see more of their great collection and bring on the light!

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