Catching Up – September 2013

Sorry about dropping off of the face of the earth.  I guess I just needed a break from blogging.  Here’s what I have been up to the past few months!:

Here’s what happened in September:

Stood up as Matron of Honor in a very good friend‘s wedding!  Tadd was also a groomsman.  It was a lovely, simple affair, and a beautiful day spent with some of my favorite people.

The very next day, we headed to Miami to go on a Caribbean cruise with some friends.  We sailed on the Carnival Breeze (great ship, by the way!) and stopped in Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, and Nassau.

October through December update coming up next!

 

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What I Did On My Winter Vacation…

It’s 2013 and I’m back!  Although I managed to conclude my 10-day vacation with a plague of sorts, so I have not been functioning as fully as I would like to be over the past couple of days.  It’s making the return to regular daily post-holiday and post-vacation life a little difficult.

I thought I would share just a little bit of what I did with my time off.  With a little star-alignment, serendipity, and good planning, I managed to secure 10 (TEN!) consecutive days off of work.  So from 4:30ish PM on Friday, December 28th through 7:30ish AM on Tuesday, January 8th, I was on VACATION!

My first three nights were spent at home, cleaning, packing, running pre-vacation errands, etc.  Saturday night, Tadd and I went down to Downtown Disney for a date night (and renewed our annual passes too!).  Got to eat at my favorite Raglan Road, and saw Les Mis (which instantly made me a HUGE Anne Hathaway fan, as you might have seen that night if you follow me on twitter).

NYE was spent at home with our traveling companions.  They spent the night, since we were heading to Fort Lauderdale in the morning.  It was a wild night, let me tell you.

Yeah, not really!  We were all in bed by around 1.  Up early the next morning to load the car and head off on a mini road trip!  We spent the next 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.  Fun place!  It’s right on the water, and has its own marina.  Being around marinas and boats made it very easy to quickly slip into vacation mode (which was the whole idea).  These helped too:

Our second day, we took an airboat ride into the Florida Everglades.  I have lived in Florida for over 22 years and had never been to the Everglades!  Now I can say I have, although we were only on the very outskirts.  We did see some gators, and a few other creatures.  The weather was beautiful and we had a blast.

The next morning, we drove a little further south to Miami, where our cruise ship awaited (and it was still decorated for Christmas too!).  The next four nights were spent on the Carnival Destiny.

We were supposed to stop in Key West, but due to one of the crew members having a medical emergency, we had to turn back to Miami the first night and ended up missing Key West.  But we got an extra day at sea, and they managed to get us almost twice the amount of time they had planned in Cozumel the next day.  While in Cozumel, Tadd and I got to return to one of our favorite places, the Mayan ruins at Tulum.  How gorgeous is this place?

That photo above is now my desktop background.  Ahhh…

All too soon, the cruise was over and it was back to the real world.  Unfortunately, it was in the drive back from Miami to Orlando that I realized I was sick.  So my transition back to reality was rather harsh.  Luckily, I had something to look forward to right away.  One of my Christmas gifts from my parents was a pair of tickets to see the traveling Broadway production of Mary Poppins.  We went last night, and although I was still slightly under the weather, I really enjoyed it.  Special effects on TV and at the movies are cool, but special effects during a Broadway production are SO much better.  Loved the costumes and sets too (the way they moved around and changed the Banks’ house from scene to scene was just amazing)!  And of course, the songs.  So many great ones.  I have had “Feed the Birds” stuck in my head all day.  Love it!  Even Tadd enjoyed himself more than he thought he would.

So that brings me pretty much up to date.  I plan on sharing more pics from my adventures soon, so stay tuned!

Instagram Link Party: New Year’s Adventures in Myrtle Beach.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year’s Weekend!  Tadd and I just got back from a quick trip to Myrtle Beach to visit some very dear friends.  I thought I would share some Instagram pics that I took.

 

View from the guestroom at our friends' house.

 

Myrtle Beach Skywheel.

Oddities from the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, the largest giftshop in the United States.

We drove through and stopped for lunch in Charleston on the way home...This is the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge heading into Charleston.

Linking up with the Instagram Link Party at a {little} dash of ash!

Weekend Update: Red Sox Edition

I am back from my fun-filled weekend in St. Petersburg!  We had a great time, and I am excited to say that the Red Sox beat the Rays at the game we attended on Saturday night!  I hope we inspired some of our friends to become baseball fans.  Jury is still out on that, but in the end it doesn’t really matter, because I love baseball!  And that’s what is important.  To me anyways.

The weekend started off early Friday afternoon when Tadd and I left work around noon and headed over to Downtown Disney on our way out of town.  We were able to get our weekend started a few hours earlier than the rest of our friends, so we decided to make this fun stop to kill some time.  I was excited because it meant I was crossing off another item on my Summer List!

It was SUPER hot and crowded at DTD, and all of the restaurants where we had intended to grab lunch had long lines and no indoor seating, so we decided to eat at Rainforest Cafe.  HOLY OVERPRICED, BATMAN!  But I have to admit that my turkey caesar wrap was really good, if messy.  I was annoyed that they charged me $15 for a wrap and chips, but were going to make me pay an additional $2 if I wanted fries.  Forget it!  I stuck with the chips, which I barely touched.  Regardless, we just rolled with the punches and had a nice lunch.

After that we window shopped around a bit, and then headed back on the road at about 3pm, just as it started to rain ever so slightly.

You always know you are on your way out of the Orlando area when you spot the Mickey power lines.

We got to the hotel around 5, and relaxed before running over to Publix for provisions (beer, snacks, water, soda, etc).  Pretty much everyone else was running a bit behind schedule, so we had some more time to kill.  Mostly everyone arrived a little after 8, so we headed out to Jimmy Guana’s for dinner, followed by Lana’s Friendly Tavern, which is a dive/kareoke bar that we visited last year during Red Sox Weekend too.  It’s one of those hole-in-the-wall all-locals kind of places.  Cheezy but fun.

Saturday morning, Tadd and I got up early and grabbed some freebie continental breakfast while everyone else slept.  We got back, showered, lounged for a couple hours, and then started getting everyone moving.  We had all of our Red Sox gear ready to go!

First we ate lunch at an interesting place called Quaker Steak & Lube.  Cue a string of about eighty million 8th grader jokes throughout lunch.  Those poor waiters and waitresses have to hear them ALL the time, I’m sure.  Stupid tourists!  Ha!  Oh well, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The joke was on us though, because even in all of our Red Sox gear, my brother’s beer was brought to him in a Rays glass!  Lame! Waitress’s revenge, I suppose.

After lunch, it was time to get ready to tailgate, then on to Tropicana Field (or “The Trop” as it is called by the locals)!

 

I won’t lie…We were freaking HOT while tailgating.  The parking attendants were discouraging people from parking willy nilly, so we had to take a spot in the middle of the open parking lot instead of strategically parking under a tree on the perimeter of the lot.  This is on blacktop, at 2pm, in Florida in July.  HOT!  Oh well.  Thank goodness the Trop is domed and climate-controlled!  Yay for air-conditioning!

On to the game (crossing off yet another Summer List item)!

Final score!

Celebrating our victory in style!

It was a magnificent game.  Lots of excitement, and, most importantly, the Sox won, 9 to 5!  Woo!  We decided to head to Five Bucks Drinkery in Downtown St. Pete to celebrate.  This might be my new favorite St. Pete spot.  Everything on the menu is under $5 and they have some really interesting (albeit high-calorie) pub fare.  Really, anyplace that has craft beer and tater tots is great in my mind.  But Tadd ordered chicken fried bacon!  Not something I would touch with a 10 foot pole, but he was in heaven.  I liked the fried pickles too.

"To the Sox!"

After our celebration at Five Bucks Drinkery, a few of us decided to drive out to Treasure Island and hang out on the beach for a bit.  Despite the humidity inland, the weather right at the ocean was beautiful.  We waded in the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico for a bit, and then plopped down on the sand to just enjoy the breeze and the sound of the waves.  I love the beach at night!

Sunday morning a few of us decided to do the Florida Aquarium Dolphin Eco-Tour before heading back to Orlando.  It’s a 90-minute boat ride around Tampa Bay.  We really enjoyed the tour and saw a bunch of dolphins!  Our guide was really informative and had some really interesting info on the Bay and its ecology.

See the dolphins? They are not easy to photograph!

The end.  Go Sox!!!

RED SOX! You are the only, only, only…

Source: Wikipedia

I don’t think I touched on this yet in this blog, but I am originally from Boston.  Love the town, love to visit, and still have tons of family in the area.  And yes, I am a Red Sox fan.  HUGE fan.  My love of the Red Sox runs several generations deep. My grandparents went to Fenway Park during their dating days in the 1940s.  Their parents went to games too.  My dad has been a fan literally his whole life.  My husband, born and raised in Florida, had married into a big Boston sports family and has embraced it with gusto.  He is now just as big of a fan as I am (if not more).  Our future children will no doubt be fans as well.

I still remember my first Red Sox game.  I was 7 and it was at Fenway Park.  I remember being more excited to ride the subway than to actually go to the game.  Back in those days, any chance to go into Boston (we lived in the North Shore suburbs) was a big deal for me.  I was fascinated by the idea of the Big City; the hustle and bustle, the different styles of architecture, and the overall feel of being somewhere where lots of important stuff happened.  My whole life, I have felt a strong personal connection to “my city”.  And even though I remember very little about the actual game itself, what sticks out in my mind was holding my Dad’s hand while crossing Yawkey Way, looking up at Fenway, and sensing the importance and history of it all.  Even though I wasn’t into sports at the time, it still felt exciting and it still left a huge impression on me.

The whole crew from Red Sox Weekend 2010!

We moved to Florida when I was 9.  I didn’t become a true baseball fan until I was much older.  As much fun as I find the games, I think that for me it is also a way to channel my connection to Boston, and my pride for “my city” into something tangible.

Every baseball season, the Red Sox always have one weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.  Several years ago, we started a tradition of getting a group together and going over to the Tampa area for the Saturday game (and sometimes the Sunday game too) and making a weekend of it.  We have dubbed this Red Sox Weekend.  It’s really fun because Red Sox fans come from all over the state for these games.  You see Red Sox shirts and hats everywhere for that weekend, and there have been many times that Red Sox fans have outnumbered Rays fans at the games.   Such a good time!

So guess what this upcoming weekend is????  RED SOX WEEKEND 2011!  Tadd and I are leaving right after work and I am so excited!  We are meeting a bunch of friends over there too.  I can’t wait!

GO SOX!

And don’t worry…Keith will be staying home to take care of the kitties.  That’s at least one perk of having him around!