Islands, Whales, & Waterfalls: Our Summer With Cayman Jack

Using a GoPro to Take Great Travel Photos

It’s hard to believe that three months (and countless adventures!) have already flown by since our first margarita cheers on the beach with friends. Scott and I always plan to spend the summer enjoying our home in San Diego, but this summer we didn’t do a very good job of staying put.

Thankfully, the best part of summer in San Diego hasn’t even begun yet, so we’ll be surfing and beach bumming for a good portion of August and September with a few trips peppered in between all that beach time.

To be honest, we’re both ready for a little break from traveling. Mostly, I need a break from packing and unpacking — the last three months have been a whirlwind! We finally have a moment to sit down and reflect on our travels and how we crafted our journey, so I thought it would be the perfect time to recap what’s happened in our world in case you’ve missed any of our recent posts.

We wanted to get more personal with this post and share some of our highs and lows (ahem: stupid mistakes) from these trips. We don’t always share our lows on the blog because we try to focus on providing useful tips and guides for each destination we visit, but travel mishaps really do make the best stories!

Bridal Veil Falls - Telluride, Colorado


Our Travels

  • Santa Barbara

Our trips to Santa Barbara always feel too short because we absolutely love exploring this beach town. This time we learned more about the history and culture of Santa Barbara, but we left one afternoon open for a Cayman Jack beach happy hour at Stearns Wharf, followed by a gorgeous sunset. Ice cold margaritas and a gorgeous sky made for a perfect evening.

Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara

  • Central California Road Trip

In mid May, we took a four-day road trip up the coast, staying two nights in downtown San Luis Obispo and two nights in the small little town of Cambria. You can read more about these two destinations at: 48 Hours in San Luis Obispo and 10 Things to See and Do on California’s Central Coast.

  • Joshua Tree

Our friends booked a group campsite at Joshua Tree during the last week of May, so we decided to join them!

  • West Sweden

Our first trip to Scandinavia! I convinced Scott to use ten of his vacation days so we could explore West Sweden together. We island hopped along the Bohuslan coast, spent a few days in Gothenburg, and celebrated Midsummer!

If you are considering a trip to Sweden, make sure to read our top travel tips for Sweden first.

  • Telluride, Colorado

At the end of June, I went on a solo trip to Telluride and was blown away by the beauty of this place. The waterfalls are insane here. I was able to go on plenty of solo hikes in Telluride, which always brings a huge smile to my face.

Telluride Colorado Hiking in Aspen Trees

  • Channel Islands

Before this recent trip to Santa Cruz Island, we had only visited the Channel Islands during short day trips. This camping trip required quite a bit of planning, but it was well worth it. If you are considering camping at any of these islands, read our tips for camping in the Channel Islands before you go.

  • British Columbia

My solo trip to British Columbia was a last minute decision. What started out as a short trip to Whistler morphed into a four day jaunt back to North Vancouver Island to kayak with whales plus another five days of road tripping along the Sea to Sky Highway. Stay tuned for posts about that trip.


The Highs

— Waterfalls! I’ve hiked to some magnificent waterfalls over the past few months. One of the things I miss from living in Northern California is the rivers and waterfalls, so I’m kind of ecstatic when I get to see them during my travels.

— My first seaplane ride! You may have noticed I’m a little obsessed with aerial views. I’ve been in my fair share of helicopters, and even biplanes, but never a seaplane — until Whistler. It was everything I had imagined and the scenery there is mind blowing.

— I survived my first backpacking trip where I had to carry my own pack. We’ve backpacked in Havasu Falls — a 10-mile hike to the campground — but I cheated and hired a mule to carry all my gear. This gives me hope that my back could possibly survive a multi-day backpacking trip. There are so many places in the Sierras that I want to visit.

— Whales! On our ferry ride to and from the Channel Islands we saw tons of humpback whales feeding. No matter how many times we see whales, it’s always a magical experience.

— Our day of island hopping in the Gothenburg Archipelago couldn’t have been any more perfect. It was the warmest day of our entire trip, which made photographing those cute little houses along the water that much more enjoyable.

Sweden Travel Tips


The Lows

— A weekend of camping in Joshua Tree is never a bad idea, right?! Well, unless you like 105+ degrees of dry, desert heat, then we usually recommend staying away from this park in the summer. There were so many hikes we wanted to do and great photo opportunities, but, in reality, the heat drained our motivation. Instead, we just sat in the shade with our Cayman Jack margaritas (I didn’t say it was all bad!).

Best Camping in California Joshua Tree National Park

— We got hit with a bad patch of weather during our trip along the coast of Sweden. Not only did it rain almost every day, but the wind was brutal at times. It actually felt like winter. I felt horrible because this was a huge chunk of Scott’s vacation days and I knew he wasn’t happy to be spending it indoors. We made the best of it by lounging in spas during the torrential downpours, but our hearts really wanted to be out kayaking or climbing a mountain.

— After joking with our kayaking group about how we always fight on a double kayak, we had a string of mishaps in the caves around Santa Cruz Island. We got stuck on shallow rocks quite a few times while trying to maneuver ourselves backwards after another member of our group had tipped their kayak over. We made it out without any physical scratches, but I wouldn’t say it was our finest hour as a couple. It was a hefty wake up call that we both have some control issues to work on. They really do call it a divorce boat for a reason.

— With the amount of cars we have rented during our travels, I’d say we’re fairly lucky to have dodged a mechanical issue until now. In Whistler, I learned that just because a car is almost brand new, it doesn’t mean it won’t break down on you. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor glitch, but it meant less time taking photos at the top of Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak gondola.

Telluride Colorado Allred's Sunset Mountain View


Crafting Our Journey

Looking back at our travels over the last few months, I’ve noticed our travel highs almost always have something to do with spending time outdoors, enjoying nature. I don’t think that is a coincidence since we always seem to be drawn to natural wonders more than cities. With so much technology always at our fingertips, it’s tough to completely disconnect — even during our travels.

Some of our favorite moments were disconnecting from our busy travel schedules to enjoy Cayman Jack margaritas and relax while taking in all of the beautiful sights. From trips to Santa Barbara to Telluride to West Sweden, our days were filled with endless adventures. Meeting new people, trying authentic foods, hiking beautiful trails — it was all part of crafting a unique journey this summer.

Making time for these moments is more important to us than checking items off of a list. I will probably forget the names of places I’ve visited or how many countries I’ve seen, but my memories of getting lost in the fog in a kayak near Telegraph Cove and watching our own private sunset on the beach in the Channel Islands will forever be etched in my mind.

So where are we headed next? We are so excited to announce that we’ll be spending the last week of August in NORWAY!! This country has been on my radar for many, many years and I can hardly contain my excitement. Also, stay tuned for three more trip announcements for September and October!


Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Feel free to share them in the comments!


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  1. A World to Travel ✈ says:

    Really cool shots Christy! The one under the bridge is amazing! I have never been to the Channel Islands but now it is definitely on my list. Thanks!

  2. Megan Claire says:

    Sounds like a great trip, you’ve actually done a very similar itinerary to ourselves, though totally jealous that you saw Whales on your way to the Channel Islands – I’ll have to watch out for them on our next trip there!!

    I find it’s always really great to sit down and unwind – everyone needs a little break from travel sometimes! And it really does give you that time to reflect and think back over a previous trip. I find half the fun of a trip is actually sitting down and going back over the memories after it’s all said and done!

  3. Sounds amazing! We’re heading on a 3 week California road trip next month so was very excited to see your recommendations for central California – so excited for the trip!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      So fun! Enjoy your road trip!

  4. Zofia Bałdyga says:

    Congrats on surviving your first backpacking trip!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Thanks! 🙂

  5. Jen @ The Trusted Traveller says:

    Hey Christy.
    It looks like you surely have had a hectic few months of travel. Makes me a little jealous 😉 I’ve had a quiet few months as I’m saving frantically for big adventures next year.
    However I do have a few little trips coming up in the next few months. I’m off to Queensland’s Gold Coast for a conference this coming weekend and have two extra days to explore. Then in October I’ve got a weekend away in Melbourne with a group of friends from all over the world so it will be fun to all be together once again.
    All the best for the upcoming months of travel for you!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Australia is so gorgeous. Even if you are only able to explore that country, you can still see so much. Enjoy!

  6. adventureinyou says:

    That waterfall with the rainbow in the end is such a winning shot! Perfect. Enjoy Norway!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Thank you!

  7. Travelwith2ofus - Simon Gerald says:

    Great! Somehow I think the “lows” add to the whole experience. You had
    an epic adventure so far, from the heat of Joshua Tree to the rains in
    Sweden. Enjoy the rest!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I agree about the lows. Luckily, we didn’t have any horrible experiences, so it’s all stuff we can laugh about now.

  8. Hugo Cura says:

    Busy times, but still sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve done a couple of California road-trips and love it out there. Probably going again to explore the northern part next.

    Happy travels!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      The northern part is my favorite, even though I live in the south!

  9. Sarah Ebner says:

    You’ve done so much! I hope Norway proves brilliant and the weather is kind. I’d love to go back to Santa Barbara – we went years ago and didn’t want to leave!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I hope the weather is decent in Norway too! 🙂

  10. contented traveller says:

    Getting lost in the fog in a kayak and a private sunset on the beach in the Channel Islands sounds like amazing memories. Enjoy Norway

  11. Sounds like a great summer so far! We have the same issue with kayaking–it never goes too well when we have a double, lol!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      We normally request two singles. 🙂