Travel with your partner

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Recently my husband and I went to Maui, and through all the hikes, drives, tee-times, beach-bumming-moments and amazing fish tacos I realized I wasn’t sure what our “couple travel brand” was.
Why do I even ask this question?
I’m a born-marketer and I keep seeing branded Twitter handles, websites and blogs with couples traveling and doing amazing things.

To be exact two stellar couples I can’t get enough of, are traveling and documenting their travels for us to enjoy:

CARL MARTIN and his wife ANNA OLSON are the founders of this incredibly smart way to spend a year-long, cross-country documentary project as newlyweds. They are taking the 52 weeks of this year and using them to make a short film about 50 states US Anywhere. Give them some travel tips when they visit your favorite city @usanywhere. It is only the beginning for this couple!

I also met last year onset MICAH KVIDT. He mentioned him and his wife’s branded travel project Wander The Map. It is where him and his incredible travel partner JENNA document their experiences. They take on world-wide adventures and even get paid for (some) of them! Digging’ their Instagram too, but seriously check them out and tweet them hello @WanderTheMap. Keep them book-marked folks.

There experiences inspired me to rethink how I brand going on travels with my partner in crime Tee Off With Steve. Since our travels will never match-up to the themes of these two talented couples, I had to think of our niche. I came up with a few options related to the golf course experiences around the U.S. we share. So tell me what one you think could stick as our branded travel theme:

  • This Gal and his Golfer (does it make you think of Tiger Woods too much?)
  • Tee off with Steve plus Tricia
  • The Greens of the USA (wait a minute, like those kind of greens…)
  • FORE! by the two of us 
  • Bye Bye Birdie—By the Leangers. 
  • Hole in one. (not sure if that will be the best SEO)

We may need to work on the brand vision a bit more but here are a few moments documented from our Maui Golf day at the Plantation Kapalua.


Brunch before hitting the course!


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Don’t be intimidated by documenting or branding your travels too much folks. Just snap pictures and video of your experiences and keep track of them the best way possible—so when you are 95 years old it’s an easy way to thumb-through those experiences, even if there is no such thing as Facebook or Twitter.

Couples who travel together stay together,
this MN Design Gal and Tee off with Steve


California Vaca – Studio Tour Reco

California—Fuel Your Dreams (brought you to by

Going way beyond what the travel websites may say, I’m super lucky to have my sister residing in California—this Fall we visited the Warner Brother’s Studios. WB is one of the big 6 in LA area for film makers.


Trina, Mom Candee, Me

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Recommendation is to buy the ticket the night before (or plan way ahead if need be) through the Warner Brother’s website. Then use the [  AAA  ] discount code for $5 off a ticket. Notice NO handling fee.

Arrive for the 9 am – 11 am tours if your schedule allows. When we left at 2 PM the line to get in was way out the door and the California inland sun makes it a super hot tourist day.

Your tour guide random, and every day is different, so no tour is the same! Fridays is when less TV shows are filming because of having the day off. This can be good or bad for trying to get into particular studios and star-sighting. The backlots and soundstages all vary to who books them, while some are consistent with standard shows having their home-base.

Ellen films in stage # 1 (now officially called Ellen Studio 1 after her 2,000th episode).

Stage 23 is a new movie ‘The House’ starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler’s.





IMG_6284We just so happened to be there when Fuller House was beginning to film and also Vampire Diaries took over some of the street so we couldn’t walk through some main areas. Ellen DeGeneres was doing a special on QVC in her TV studio, so we couldn’t get in to peek, like most tours do.

Be prepared to shout-out what favorite shows and movies that are produced through Warner Brothers. You guessed it—we did our homework and shouted out:

Sex and the City!
Gilmore Girls! 
My Fair Lady!
The Hangover!


The tour guide will then will craft the tour with special facts as they come to his or her head about those movies and shows. Did you know that E.R.’s helicopter pad was actually just in the WB parking lot?

Did you know that FRIENDS actually didn’t film much at all in NYC, even though being based there? The cast would report to the WB Studios in Burbank every week and the 3 main sets where the Central Perk, Rachel / Monica’s apartment and Joey / Chandler’s place. All other sets where just walls that would be placed and decorated to look like the set. The scenes filmed in transitions were just s

The Big Bang Theory has surpassed FRIENDS weekly viewers by being at 14-15 million. FRIENDS was closer to 12 Million weekly viewers.

The end of the tour the FRIENDS set is up for grabs for a quick photo. There is an attendant that offers to use your phone or camera and take a photo.

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IMG_6329TIP: Forget about the video upfront with Ellen talking and run to the FRIENDS set. Have more time looking at the set before the crowd follows you and your photo-opt is only for 10 seconds.

Trina and I acted out a few Central Perk scenes before we were kicked-out of the set—I had picked-up Febe’s guitar on the stage and was about to start to belt-out Smelly Cat.

IMG_3904-24Three green screens are set-up to act out a few popular scenes from movies. Gravity was first, then Batman and ending with Harry Potter. Be prepared to then wait and see the video clips for 3 seconds before they try to sell you the $49.95 videos.

Don’t forget to grab the Oscar and take a quick picture. That will have a guard and it’s super heavy!

Thanks for reading through this tour tip and share your experience with me. Love hearing from readers and travelers, like yourself.

Your Traveling Gal — Tricia



We Left Our Hearts in San Francisco

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First-time to San Francisco was the last weekend in May 2014. #SPLUSTSF was started for this quick 4 night trip to represent Steve Plus Tricia in San Francisco.


The first tourist stop we made was visiting Alcatraz Island. We sent sail on the 12:45 PM ferry and were glad it was in the middle of the day because it was a windy island with outstanding views. We were lucky to have a bright blue sky while setting sail that day. Make sure to buy your tickets prior to your trip to SF, because rumors were tickets can be hard to find and most likely sold out during peak season.

DSC03041We walked around the island and took in the views, sun, wind and history. DSC03042

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My husband enjoyed the 3-hour audio tour and even pretended he was in jail several times during it.



Who’s ready for drink? (Me!) We had reservations at the Cliff House which is on the far West side of SF. We enjoyed a fish dinner and watched the sun set. We commend reservations or being there by 6:30 PM for a nice 8 PM sunset.



The Cliff House area had a lot to see too. There is even a beach and you could plan to look around for hours.


Late night beverage late one evening just blocks away from our hotel, with views of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (known locally as the Bay Bridge). As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road route between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries approximately 240,000 vehicles per day on its two decks. It has one of the longest spans in the United States.

The first 2 nights were spent downtown SF and we were recommended by friends to rent a car so the sights could be seen downtown in addition to hundreds miles away. The San Francisco Palace Hotel was centrally located with valet parking that we did not use. The rooms were small but nice and the lobby bar was a nice surprise for a quick sip before heading out onto the town. It is a Starwood Resort so using our SPG points helped keep the hotel budget way down.

Parking in San Francisco is expensive-the best is $20 and that will not be near the main area. Find a lot that you can park, but watch the times. Steve woke up one morning at 6 AM to get the car out before being charged another $30.


The famous Pier 39 was full of tourists and entertainment. We took the sight in and left quick.


Every where you go clam chowder is served with also famously made sour dough bread. Steve is trying this at a big chain in the Pier called Chowder.



Who’s ready to ride the trolley? We waited in line for the POWELL STREET trolley car for an hour. It really was the best trolley line to ride.

Locals can jump on any time during the ride until it’s full. The fare was $5 per person 1-way.


Hanging off the trolley is the best part. But yes watch out for cars.


China town was a sight to be seen. We walked through it at about 10 AM when the shops were just opening up. Grab a coffee in Little Italy and walk around. If you want to shop, wait until Noon to get there.

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Steve is a bruncholic. (Which means he is addicted to brunch, and would eat it everyday if he could.) A goal is find one of the best spots in town for brunch whenever we travel. So with his research in San Francisco, Mama’s on Washington Square was his pick. Look at those ratings on the window!

We arrived at 10:30, after walking through China town to get there and the line was wrapped around the corner.

Not knowing how long it really was going to take, Steve hopped in line, while I walked around the Washington Square park neighborhood.

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Would I recommend going to Mama’s? Yes. BUT- not if you’re in any sort of rush, have more than 4 people in your group or if your just wanting a 3 eggs and bacon breakfast. I ordered the Monte Crisco and was very happy with my choice. Steve picked a California omelet and it was good-but not worth a 2 1/2 hour wait.


Walking around the neighborhoods in SF. Behind me are hills of homes and beautiful architecture and churches.



Ready for a drive? I took our rental car down the famous curvy road of Lombard Street. I guess that is just something you have to do-according to the locals.





Our first stop entering into Sonoma was a friendly family owned winery Cline Cellars. This is one of the first wineries that greets you will see coming into wine country. We drank our free sampling and walking around with quarter glasses in the vineyards and flower gardens.


Steve met a real ass at the winery too.

Next stop was one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma area. Buena Vista Winery was down a   wooded path and off the main road. It was a little bit of a walk to the main tasting room too-but we didn’t mind at all.

It felt like you were in another country with the English-inspired buildings and calming atmosphere.






After dining downtown Sonoma for lunch, we continued on our way through wine country.

We randomly stopped next at Domaine Carneros because of her big white umbrellas, bright sun shining on down on it and perfectly manicured greenery. This winery literally was calling out my name, “Hello Tricia you must stop by today“.




The website says reservations only, but this winery actually was the only one we went to that served wine, cheese and crackers. There are rules that certain wineries can’t serve food. We nibbled on few almonds but didn’t order anything off the menu. We shared a Pinot Noir and Champaign wine flight. He gave us generous pours because they were slow on the Friday afternoon we were there and the cost was $25.

I would highly recommend this winery. The cellar tour is worth checking out too, it’s 2 hours long and people were raving over it. We didn’t have that kind of time on our wine country journey though.



While enjoying the sights and wine, Steve saw a Porsche and Lamborghini and a few other “fancy cars” driving down to another winery just across the street.

We were curious.



We were greeted with this modern delight of the Cuvaison Winery. Online the winery says reservations only as well, but we arrived at 4 PM when they had a break before the night crowd so we seated in the sun and started our tasting.

Cuvaison was a quiet spot and we were happy to learn more about this unique place with almost 1,500 solar panels and implemented green initiatives.

It isn’t a required Napa spot-but it was a nice finish to our journey to downtown Napa.









Right in the heart of downtown Napa we stayed for 1 night at the Andaz a Hyatt resort. It had been designed just for the Napa tourists with a wine happy hour at 5 PM and we were even greeted with a glass of vino too.

This was one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. I loved the modern amenities and personal touches of wine country decor. There was a large patio bar on the 3rd floor that had a neighborhood feel and had the bright afternoon sun.


Downtown Napa was easy to get around and our hotel was centrally located. Steve’s breakfast spot was just 5 blocks away and guess what- NO LINE! It was actually a bakery called Alexis Bakery Company, but wasn’t a chain at all even though the name may sound like it. Everything was made from scratch including ricotta pancakes (another good choice by this MN Design Gal).


Patio and cabana back at Andaz.


Beautiful gardens and scapes while walking downtown Napa.


The last full day in California we got up and drove back to downtown San Francisco to our 3rd hotel in 4 exciting nights. This day’s main event would start at 7 PM.







The view from our seats on club level. Steve bought them off of Ticket King before we left Minnesota.


Even wine at the ball game in a cute vintage store.



About 10 Twins fans there on Saturday when we were there. A few more in the background.


A successful first trip to San Francisco. We really loved all the food, views, culture and palm trees. The bay makes it extra windy and it wasn’t nearly as warm as you think. Half the days we were out and about this gal wore her long-johns so I didn’t get a chill (for real).

The Napa Valley day was my favorite adventure because of the drive through Sausalito and through the Marin lands then experiencing my first ever California wineries. Being able to experience the downtown San Francisco including some nightlife and also drive up to wine country was a perfect taste of SF.

If you have questions on places we were find this design gal on Foursquare or follow some more of the fun in more detail check out #SplusTSF.

I thought I would leave you with the famous San Francisco song that was even played at the end of the Twins lost against the Giants.

Keep traveling,
your MN Design Gal

Snow to Sand

Excited to announce to my friends + followers that we have found our wedding location and have the wedding date! Steve and I will be going from the Minnesota cold to the beaches of Los Cabos, Mexico to get married on Friday, November 15, 2013. We are excited about our adventure this year and can’t wait to experience this with our close family and bestest friends. 

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If you have ideas, suggestions, travel tips and/or vendors you would recommend me to use for the wedding day and festivities please reach out and drop me a quick line.

We truly are Lovin R life!

Your future Cabo Bride,

Quick 10 on our Door County Road Trip

1 car
2 people
3 bags on board
4 minutes to see that sunset
5 hours to Green Bay
6 dollars for hash brown sandwich breakfast
7 percent alcohol in local porter brew
8 dollar beers at Lambeau Field
9 miles of walking in door county
10 stops along the coast



20121001-122034.jpgStop in Brussels for the original Hasbrown Sandwich.









Packer Game on. My hand bag turned into my green and gold pride!





Night 1 Stayed at Aloft Green Bay
– Highly Recommend! Modern, easy access to Green Bay game spots and close to downtown.

Night 2 Stayed at Bailey’s Harbor Waterfront Resort – Great place to stay for more than 1 night. Get the waterfront view and the sunset picture will be yours too. Indoor and Outdoor pool is nice but never used.

Happy Fall traveling!


Spring in New York

There is nothing better then New York City in the Spring! Summer Fashion trends are in full force and the flowers only add that needed splash of Spring color. Can you spot the main trends of the season? Shared are also just some of the favorite tourist attractions with first time New Yorker Steve. Enjoy your Spring New York trip through this gal’s lens.
















Go and book your next trip! I got mine on my mind- San Fran!?

Your Traveling Gal,

Back to Reality

Some of you may have known but I was on the beach in the Dominican Republic a week ago. My tan is fading quickly and I’m still catching-up with work, but thought I can now give my quick report about my 7-day adventure in the Caribbean.

The water. What can I say but the pictures can’t show you how this green, blue, crystal water made me smile. The beach was the reason to be on this island with my travel partner/boyfriend Steve.
We stayed at Bravo Princess, which we had a suite that included a jacuzzi tub (yes I used it more than once), mini-bar, remodeled interior with double sinks and easy 1-minute walk to the sandy beach.

The main adventure that Steve insisted we do on day 3 was a full day trip zip-lining. Now, I’m not scared of heights and frankly I’m down for any thing but this was a true test of “amazing race skills”. The zip-line course just keep getting longer and higher! Needless to say, I couldn’t reach the end to the two longest ones and had to be rescued on one by a Dominican that I tipped 2 dollars when got on the safe platform! It wasn’t fair though because I wasn’t trying to, unforgettably if your smaller the velocity doesn’t carry you the whole distance needed.

No regrets. But next time, maybe they should warn the light-ones or have some weights for us? Double-Zip-Lining that would be a fun one! My sore crotch and, I swear bruised rib, was my souvenir.

Getting back to the beach, I found that the Punta Cana side where we stayed was quite windy. But it was 80 degrees every day so I didn’t mind the warm breeze, but it was unlike any beach-side experience I had seen before.

The food at our all-inclusive resort was 7 out of 10. (Steve said 6 out of 10). Traditional American-made food was the hottest picks during the day. I can say though I didn’t have one cheeseburger but many plates of french fries. I was looking for fresh quac and salsa then remembered this isn’t Mexico Tric. The evenings Steve and I enjoyed fresh fish and even a Filet Mignon which was a treat. The last two days I was coming up with Jeremiah Weed inspired cocktail drinks made with the Dominican Vodka and enjoyed their local beer Presidente that was on tap. The tequila tasted like rocks though.

No stolen jewelry. Only the tops of my feet burned on Day 5. No diarrhea. No break-ups. And lots of laughs, sun, fun, Presidente (this is the right spelling) and kisses.

I won’t be back to the Dominican anytime soon, but it truly was the perfect much-needed get-a-way!

You only saw 10 out of the 400 pictures I took. On-line scrapbook will be for sure calling my name.

Safe Traveling!
mn design gal

Too Early to Pack?

No, I’m not moving out-of-state. (But I really should someday).

Last month was asking you where I should go vacation this winter. Well the trip is booked and we will be laying on the beach very soon.

Destination is The Dominican Republic. Staying in Punta Cana ladies and gentlemen!

I look forward to the vacation and sharing the highlights when back! Until then, I put together a few things that I just Need to Buy. Should I have not cropped the model face’s off wearing the cute cover-up? Nicole Richie’s hippie beach look really caught my eye!

Almost ready for the beach,

your mn design gal

Where to travel next?

Inside the hotel Del Coronado, California

Ever since I was 17, I vowed that I will travel at least once a year somewhere outside of Minnesota for the rest of my life.

I have been lucky enough to experience some fantastic places.
The top 10 that come to mind:

1. Paris
2. Albuquerque, New Mexico
3. New York City
4. Las Vegas (baby!)
5. San Diego
6. Santa Monica
7. Daytona Beach, Florida
8. Cozumel, Mexico
9. Montego Bay, Jamaica
10. Rivera Maya, Mexico

Now that 2012 is around the corner and in 2011 I traveled to Chicago, IL, San Diego and Ft Myers, FL the next destination needs to be on the calendar and needs to be a new experience, since it was repeat 2011.

I’m struggling with the location.

Heading over to the GasLamp District, San Diego

I have been looking for places off and on the last three months and just haven’t locked anything up! I am also planning for a traveling mate (Steve and I first out of states trip). My budget is $1500 that is including the flight per traveler.
All inclusive in Cabo? 5-day trip Aruba resort and dine in the city? Drive the coast line up to San Fran?

My travel mate and I both have $250 voucher for American Airlines that expire in April 2012… the reason why that voucher was given was from a connecting flight delay disaster. So the lesson is always fly direct.

On the beach in Ft Meyers, Florida

Stay tuned to the destination spot.

In the meantime, I would love any recommendations.

Puzzled Travel Planner,

MN Design Gal

The Birthday Weekend

As you probably predicted I did end up having a wonderful Birthday last weekend!
Friday I ended up posting a link to Barney’s Birthday Bash that was at the Target Center. Barney & Friends Birthday BashMy friends were confused and laughed online and Trina my sister was very excited, Barney being her favorite since she was three! Needless to say we did NOT really attend the show but it was my way of making fun of the question everyone seems to ask one near their birthday,
“So what are you doing for your Birthday?!”
The Answer to that Question told with Pictures below:

Dinner Friday with some special Family at Rosa Mexicano, not yet opened and was a bit $$$ but for sure yummy! Pictured: Steve, Trina, Mom & Dad

Saturday morning, YES! I DID pick that one!

Sun Country Pumpkin Patch near Stillwater, MN

Downtown Stillwater, walked the shops, lovely lunch and stepped into a wine shop & enjoyed the blue sky!

The main Winery in the afternoon and that wasn't on the St Croix but was called the St Croix Vineyards

St Croix Winery tasting cheers to my birth!

Silly with Sissy @MNFutureAdGal at the winery and apple trees

Winery afternoon Steve and Tricia

Birthday girl and representing PINK along-side Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Friends being Silly at Pinstripes in Edina. after an outside dinner + drinks. Heart them!

A little bit older and wiser.
your mn design gal