Originally published on Vinazine by Erin Rose Belair

The open road is one of the most enchanting adventures out there. Iconic and epic, it’s the thing movies and songs and books are written about. Setting forth with your best friends on a great American road trip is an absolute must, but choosing a destination is daunting.

We’ve done a little bit of the leg work for you and laid out our five must-do trips. Each has a different objective and incentives all their own. All you need to plan is the perfect playlist!

The 1. Enjoy this stretch of coastal highway with your windows down, and let that salty breeze kiss your face. Start in LA and head north. The views through Big Sur are some of the most gorgeous you will ever see. Some of our favorite campsites in the area are Andrew Molera and Limekiln. Keep on going, and make your way to SF and beyond.

Via @daryasvirina

Do Utah. I’m no geologist, but I am pretty sure that the structures throughout Utah are some serious oddities of the natural world. There is a cluster of national parks in the area. Hit up Zion, Arches, and Bryce Canyon in one fell swoop. Lace up those hiking boots, and get to it!

Gulf Coast, Route 98. Explore this one for the spirit of driving itself. There are nooks and crannies of this country that you might never otherwise see. New Orleans is a great destination or city to fly into and start from there. You will not be disappointed.

Via @carolyn_mckeown

The Blue Ridge Highway. This is the east coast version of The One and a damn fine rival to it. This highway connects the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. We recommend taking it in the Fall for a kind of color wheel of trees you might not otherwise ever experience.

Hometown Hunt. This is the grab bag road trip. Get in the car with your bestie, and head in the direction of your hometown and then hers. While it might not be the most iconic road trip, it will be the most unique. Don’t forget to stop for pie whenever possible, take tons of pics, and pull over if you get sleepy.

Happy trails!

(Featured image by @paulilus)





Originally published on Vinazine by Janelle Blackman

Have you ever left a hangout with your gals feeling like you were more in-tune with what happened on Facebook than in your IRL conversations? Or maybe you’ve caught yourself thinking about what’s for dinner while your friends discuss next weekend’s plans. Phone distractions or not, it’s all too easy to retreat to your inner world or social network in real-life social settings. Hey, we’re human! But if you want to make whatever quantity of time you have with your girlfriends quality time, read on.


We all know we should do this, but the temptations of the tweets, texts, and snaps are strong! Well, science is starting to back us up on this. This is a phenomenon called phubbing. The word made it into the Oxford English Dictionary this year and means: “the practice of ignoring one’s companion or companions in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device”. Social Psychologists are studying the phenomenon, and have found that your rude habit can have a negative effect on relationship satisfaction with your SO. While no studies have yet been done to examine the effects on other friendships, do you really want to jeopardize your relationship with your BFFs with idle Facebook feed scrolling?


A phone is a major distraction for some, but the next biggest distraction from your friends could be whatever is on your mind. You’ll get your turn, but in the meantime, it’s important to really listen to your friends. To be present amongst your friends you’ll want to employ some active listening skills. Active listening requires your full concentration on your friends and what they’re saying. That sounds easy, but I know I can easily get sidetracked in my head and start thinking about what I’m going to say back. The key is to just listen.


I cannot express how important it is to make time for your friends and make that time the only thing occupying the space. It’s one thing to show up to hang out, but another thing entirely if there’s a deadline looming that you should be working on, or if you’re in the middle of planning something with someone else. Being physically present is important, but so is being mentally present. When carving out valuable girl time, consider what else is happening around that event and make sure nothing else will cut into it! Quality is more important than quantity!
How do you consciously remain present when spending time with your girlfriends?
(Feature image via @shopstyle)




Julia and I have been BFFs for 25 years, but there’s a reason we only lived together for a single semester in college. I am a neat freak with a strict work/sleep schedule, while she prefers to plan her life the way she does her laundry: haphazardly. When it comes to road trips, however, we make the perfect team.

Whether it’s a trip across the state or a trip around the world, choosing which girlfriend to travel with can make the difference between a bridge too far and the trip of a lifetime. Knowing your travel styles and making sure they work together is key to any successful adventure. Just because your best friend doesn’t live by the same rules doesn’t mean you can’t plant the seeds for a great adventure. Try these tips for picking the best friend for your travels:

Hey Vina-1427.jpgTASTE IN MUSIC

Tunage is very important in the world of travel, especially if you’re hitting the road with your girlfriend. We often have our favorite album handpicked for the road, so someone with similar music taste is always a plus. You don’t want to get stuck listening to Screamo all weekend if your favorite roadway tunes are more of the Country persuasion.

📸: Hard To Find


If you’re operating on a shoestring budget while your girlfriend is planning to travel in luxurious style, you may have a problem. Make sure the two of you agree on a price range for hotels, food stops, and site seeing activities ahead of time. This might mean picking a friend with a similar spending allowance as you, but one of you can also offer to spend less than you normally would as a compromise. You don’t want to arrive in Rome planning on cafes and bakeries while your partner’s imagining gourmet restaurants and Michelin stars.

📸: @museums_of_people


Again, Julia and I have had a few adventures together in the last two decades and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that communication about your expectations is key. You want to make sure you’re on the same page about the details of your itinerary. If you’re artistically inclined, choosing a buddy who hates museums might not be the best bet.

While not everyone makes a great travel partner, you might be surprised how well you can get to know someone just by taking a trip together. So next time you’re wondering whom to bring on that once in a lifetime experience, remember that no matter who you bring, just make sure they’re ready to have a great adventure!

How do you decide who to travel with?

(Feature image via @kimchi_n_koolaid)



Originally published on Vinazine

Most of us love to pack up and try a new adventure every once in awhile, but have you ever taken a trip all by yourself?

Three years ago, when my boss asked if I wanted to fly to Morocco to cover a news conference, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I jumped at the offer, researched airfare, and started packing. A month later, though, as my departure approached, I began to wonder if I could do it. Could I really go alone? I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I swallowed my negative thoughts, grabbed my suitcase and didn’t look back.


The key to a successful solo trip is the right attitude. You want to approach the trip like a choose-your-own-adventure game. For the first time, you get to make every decision based on what you want without having to consider what other people may want to do, try or see. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities and see how much the world can open up for you.


If you’re going it alone, it’s important to have a general idea of what you want your trip to be like. Are you looking to hit every major monument and museum or do you need to build in some time to walk around aimlessly? If it’s a work trip, you’ll want to make sure your fun activities don’t conflict with your pre-determined schedule.

Think it through, but make sure to give yourself some breathing room or jet lag could eat you alive.


Even though you may have a schedule, the best part about solo travel is all the little moments to look around and discover things you wouldn’t see with a group. Some of my favorite travels memories are spontaneous moments I took to explore a hidden gem or indulge my curiosity. It’s amazing what you can find when you’re not distracted by other people.


Getting away from your normal routine in a new place is the perfect time to meet new people! Having friends all across the world is wonderful, and there’s so much you can learn from vinas in other countries. See if a new friend wants to show you around their town – getting a local’s perspective could be super rewarding.

Chances to travel solo don’t come along too often and probably won’t last forever, so take the time to enjoy them and relax. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet some new vinas along the way.

(Feature image via @flownderr)

It’s Going to Be Okay

Fair warning, I’m writing this without an editor after two glasses of wine and a large mug of coffee. Ted Cruz has just stepped down after a disastrous defeat by Donald Trump in the Indiana Primary.

I honestly didn’t think we’d get to this point, but then again, I never thought Barack Obama would be elected in 2008. You’d think by now I’d learn to ignore my political gut. That said,  I’m left a little confused about what to feel right now. I didn’t realize until tonight how much this election meant, how much was really at stake. I know we  always say that, but nights like tonight make me think it’s really true.

Elections matter, folks, especially in a truly democratic country like the United States. To be honest, I’m tired. I’m only 29, and I’m already tired of fighting for what’s right. I’m tired of trying to tell America that principles matter, that convictions are what built this country into greatness over 200 years ago. I don’t understand how such a large majority of the population can choose to remain uneducated despite the awesome privilege of choosing our elected officials.

I want to say with confidence that truth will win despite everything; that America will continue to be the greatest country in the world because her young people remain dedicated to preserving the integrity of the American way, that we will stand united in our demand for truth and justice. But tonight, it feels different. Tonight I feel as if the long nights and large cups of caffeine have pushed me to a whole new level.

Guys, we didn’t come this far just to see our government, our country, our freedoms crumble to the ground. I refuse to believe that a few poorly chosen candidates can destroy a nation built on God-given rights

Yes, Donald Trump may win the presidency. Hell, Hillary Clinton may win (God forbid), but America as a nation can surpass it if we stand strong in the values we started with, “that a nation of the people, by the people and for the people will not perish from the earth.”

When Abraham Lincoln wrote those famous words, our country was at far greater risk and from her own citizens. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe that if we as a country can overcome a battle as great and as devastating as the Civil War, we can overcome the decision that was made tonight if we are willing to stick to our guns and defend the values on which this country was founded.


Madeleine L’Engle, “The Risk of Birth”

Source: December 2 – Madeleine L’Engle, “The Risk of Birth”


This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn–
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn–
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Two weeks ago, a group of Islamic extremists executed a planned attack on the city of Paris.  They took no hostages, but coordinated suicide bombs and shooting massacres at city venues they knew would be well attended.  A soccer game, a rock concert and a popular restaurant were the targets these jihadists chose for their religious crusade.  They killed 132 people before taking their own lives, the final security forwarded for their insecure souls.

When I called my grandmother 23 years ago to tell her that I was expecting, she responded with anger and frustration.  “Why would you bring a child into this world?” she demanded.  “This world is no place for children.” Her sentiments echo the thoughts of Madeline L’Engle’s “The Risk of Birth.”  The poet contends, “This is no time for a child to be born, with the earth betrayed by war and hate and a comet slashing the sky to warn that time runs out and the sun burns late.”  A 21st century crusade that answers the medieval crusades foments in Europe and the Middle East, and the implications are awash not only on our televisions and news relays, but also on our shores:  violence proliferates.  Hatred ascends.  Time seems to be running out.

Yet, ironically, it was into a like world that Christ inserted Himself, incarnate God in a manger cradle.  Graft and extortion, racial bigotry, genocide, infanticide and tyrannical power plays set the scene for His grand entrance.  Not disdaining the strife of men, “here did the Saviour make his home.”  L’Engle asks a fair question:   “When is the time for love to be born?”  When have we ever needed love more?  In spite of the risks associated with redeeming man, the Lord of Love endangered Himself for man’s sake, taking “the risk of birth.”  Unlike the god of radical Muslim extremists, Jesus Christ did not suffer man to redeem himself, but became the radical, incarnate solution to earth’s rampant problems and man’s intuitive, self-condemning conscience.  Only His death is sufficient to secure the believer’s soul.   Redemption was achieved by a God that risked His own skin.

To bear a man is to wear your heart on the outside.  So I’ve read.  So I’ve experienced.  How I empathize with Mary in her suffering as she watched her God-Son expire upon the cross.  How glad I am that she did not heed the signs of wars and rumors of war, but took the great risk of loving and bearing the Messiah and Savior into a wretched and desperate world.  Inspired by her faith, her hope, her love, I do not regret the risk I’ve taken in bearing my own sons and daughters.  Suffering abounds, but redemption abounds too.  When is the time for love to be born?  Now.  Today.  In a time that begs it.  Birth trumpets the hope of redemption and foreshadows the return of the incarnate One, whose image we bear when we ourselves “take the risk of birth.”


Source: December 2 – Madeleine L’Engle, “The Risk of Birth”

What I Don’t Want for Christmas

While holding on for dear life as one of my boys drove me over to Wal Mart to purchase a new iron, I asked my son why he had a sudden desire to accompany me on my shopping trip.

“Well mom,” he smiled proudly, “since I’m working this year and have a little money to spend on gifts I thought I’d buy you this iron as a Christmas present.”

I cast a sideways glance at my kind-hearted boy. Should I tell him the truth? Should I let him in on the secret that all sons, husbands, fathers, and other male entities should understand by the time they reach adulthood? I decided to go for it.

“Honey, I don’t want an iron for Christmas. In fact, I can’t imagine any woman on this planet wanting an iron for Christmas.”

Of course he was crestfallen, most men are when encountering truths about women, but for the sake of his future wife and daughters (not to mention greedy little me) it had to be said. So I explained to him the intricacies of the female mind, concentrating on our desire for fru fru gifts as opposed to items that are practical. Whether he really understood in the end is still questionable.

Over the years, I have heard rumors that some men are really good at selecting gifts for their wives and mothers, but personally, I think these men are rare. I believe that most men struggle to buy gifts for females. I have seen enough deer-in-the-headlights looks on the faces of men at Wal Mart on the day before Mother’s Day to convince me this is true. Men are good at choosing tools, car accessories, and anything techy, but when it comes to buying something that will make their women weep with joy, they fail. They just don’t seem to realize that most women do not want a gift that reminds them of unfinished tasks or housework, nor do they want to be guilted into starting any new projects because their men folk became entranced by some home improvement gizmo.

So, since I am a bit tired of receiving gifts that will end up being returned to Wal Mart or Home Depot, or used as a white elephant gift at a Christmas party next year, or packed in box in my garage, or left in the drop off area at Goodwill, I am giving my fellas some tips for shopping for the woman they love most in the world. Me! And perhaps you, dear female blog reader, would like to leave this list in a conspicuous location in your home for the male shoppers in your life.

My “Please Get It Right This Year!” Shopping Tips

  1. If it slices, dices, sifts, measures, separates an egg, keeps food fresh, takes the temperature of a turkey, dehydrates fruits and vegetables, or has any mention of George Foreman on the packaging, I don’t want it.
  2. If it promises to make clothes whiter and brighter, suck dirt out of the carpet, remove soap scum from showers, unplug a clogged drain, clean grout, or is green, coiled, and resuscitates plants, I don’t want it.
  3. If it can screw an object into the wall, saw an old tree into a stack of firewood, help me to change a tire on the freeway, requires clapping to be turned on or off, or has the words “Industrial Strength” anywhere on the label, I don’t want it.
  4. If it glows in the dark, tightens abs, removes unwanted hair or wrinkles, sprouts vegetation from a ceramic animal or a bust of Obama’s head, has any similarity to infomercial products such as Sauna Pants, Ginsu Knives, Snuggies, or the Rejuvinique Electric Facial Mask, I don’t want it.
  5. And if it can be purchased at Dollar Tree, The 99 Cent Store, Pep Boys, Staples, a mini-mart, or a hardware store, I don’t want it!

So men of mine, take this list with you when you venture into the throngs of stumped male shoppers. Think pretty, not functional. Think fun, not practical. And remember that mom is not just a cook, maid, or schoolteacher, but also a female who enjoys items that are feminine, lovely, enjoyable, and maybe not even…cheap!

Thanks for listening and fellas…I really do love ya!


Source: What I Don’t Want for Christmas