road trip


Day Trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Happy 2018! I’m a little late to the game, but the last 3-4 weeks were a doozy for me. From back problems to the flu I’ve spent little time outside enjoying the best season to live in Arizona and more time on the couch feeling sorry for myself. But then I saw that Arizona State Parks were FREE to AZ residents for Martin Luther King weekend, so I hopped to my feet, slipped on my new New Balance, and dragged my family to a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time now. Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, AZ.

Hiking the High Trail at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

We couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit Arizona’s oldest botanical garden. The weather was perfect, in the low 70’s, and there were so many tall shady trees and a light breeze. It was a really nice break from Phoenix desert life where there’s literally not an ounce of shade, and only an hour and 20 minutes away. My only regret; forgetting the backpack of snacks in the car.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Greenhouse

Rylie explores the cactus in the Boyce Thompson greenhouse

What can I say about this greenhouse? So dreamy. Can I get one of these in my yard? Natural light, old stone and greenery. I’m in love.

Desert color at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Barrel cactus at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Something I’ve learned along the way is that if you tell a kid they are going on an adventure, no matter how boring it is, they’ll find fun in it. You could be going to the post office to mail a letter to a great and foreign land, or going on a hike to search for the first signs of spring. We always like to search for color on our hikes, and when the Arizona winter turns to spring the colors are beautiful and plenty!

We also like to search for clean bathrooms with running water. I’m happy to report that Boyce Thompson has both.

Ayer Lake in Superior Arizona

“I’ll adventure with you today mom, but tomorrow no adventures. I’m booked.” Birthday parties take priority over family adventures, apparently. She was just using this time to “get some exercise and a good night’s sleep.”

6 year old iPhone photographer

My mini. I love that she shares my love of photography, but, could I get my phone back please? I’d share her walking tour of the place but you’d get dizzy. Literally, she spun the camera in circles to make the video dizzying.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior Arizona


Bridge to High Trail at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

We hiked the High Trail which wasn’t a steep incline and was a perfect first hike for my new and improved back. Rylie is a pretty experienced hiker and I’d like to say this is an easy hike for a six year old, but you definitely need to keep an eye on your kiddos. The trail itself isn’t steep but it’s narrow with occasional areas that have a drop on the side. There were also a few rocky patches that she needed a little help navigating. Once she got a good side step down she was good to go.

Javelinas at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

I’m fascinated with javelinas, but this guy started huffing and puffing at us so we were all, peace out. Plus do you see his two larger family members in the back? No thanks friends, moving on.

Relaxing at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

We took in our last rays of sun around 4:00 and then headed back to the valley with a quick dinner stop at Joe’s Farm Grill and filled our bellies with their tasty garlic fried green beans.

I can’t wait to visit Boyce Thompson again when the flowers are in bloom, hummingbirds are out and I have more snacks. Because it’s hard to have fun with a loud kid and no snacks.

After our next visit I’ll share pictures of the 1915 house we like to call the Blair Witch House, the cowboy camp we found and the children’s garden. There’s JUST. SO. MUCH. Honestly, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging in!

Sharing My #Disneyside

So, many people think that I, a grown adult, am straight up bananas for loving Disney so much. But loving Disney isn’t a choice I made, it’s in my genes… I was born for Disney!

Since I was recently chosen by Disney to host a #disneyside @home celebration, I thought I’d share a little about my Disney history.


In the early 70’s, before I was even a thought, these fine looking people (aka, my parents) visited Disney on their honeymoon. At that time it was only the Magic Kingdom, and they stayed at the Contemporary Resort.

Then I came along. One thing I remember clearly about my childhood was watching the Mickey Mouse Club and dreaming of the day I would meet my favorite mouse. That day finally came around 1980 when my parents tricked me into getting on a plane and making me think we were chosen to test out some new luggage system for the airline. SURPRISE! We ended up in Orlando where my dreams came true.


We left my sister home for this trip, but took another a few years later, apparently during a zombie apocalypse… (that’s us in front of the Crystal Palace) and the decade of photo bombers (who’s that guy sneaking into my character pic?)


The Great Getaway

Ahhh, an oceanfront home in La Jolla Beach for a whole week, all to ourselves. Sounds like a dream, right?

I imagined action packed days and relaxing nights on the patio watching the sun set with my husband while drinking fruity cocktails. Didn’t exactly play out that way. I spent the majority of my days bonding with this little lady while daddy did his homework. LOTS of homework. And let me tell you, keeping after this toddler has really become a workout.

La Jolla Sunset

I’m not complaining, I loved spending time with Rylie. We did lots of exploring, chasing birds, taking walks, and destroying the house. I just wish Harris could have enjoyed more of it with us. I’m not going to lie, it was a really lonely week for me, I was beginning to feel like a neglected Real Housewife of the OC….or the SD in this case.

The house was AMAZING. A little too amazing for an independent little girl who wants to explore. Next time we go for a more family friendly home. Overall though it was great. It was fit for a queen. I’m such a lucky girl.

There wasn’t really a beach near our house, it sat above cliffs that dropped off into the ocean, but the view was amazing, waking up every morning to watch the surfers rushing down to catch the big early morning waves. It’s a lifestyle I’d have no problem adopting.

We spent a lot of time in the house…

But we did manage a few quick trips out of the house and a few visits with local friends. We checked out the La Jolla Children’s Pool and saw the seals, had breakfast at a tasty little restaurant overlooking the ocean, checked out the San Diego Zoo, and spent a few hours at La Jolla Shores Beach.

La Jolla Cove and Children's Pool Seals
The seals at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Children's Pool Squirrel
Oh, hello friend. Nice view.

Brockton Villa

Bird chasing…a new favorite pastime
A hug from buddy Ethan at the zoo

Our final sunset

It was tough keeping up with Rylie on this trip, Im certain I told her no more times than I care to say in her whole life.

No Rylie, don’t throw your bottle off the third floor balcony (when I retrieved it later, both the bottle and I were covered in slugs)
No Rylie, please don’t drag your toy across the scratchable wood floor
Rylie, close the cabinets and put the glass bowl away
No Rylie, you cannot fit through the bars on the balcony railing
Please do not run into the ocean by yourself!
Stop touching the glass vase!
Don’t eat the dice!
Please don’t tear the pages out of that book!

I’m somewhat relieved to be home now. Living the fancy life isn’t exactly our style. Baby proof home sweet home is the perfect place for us at this stage in our lives. I guess it’s back to reality for the Gardner family!

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