Third Time’s A Charm!

Despite my first two ill fated attempts at snorkeling, I was willing to try again.  I figured if there was anywhere in the world where I might have a good snorkeling experience, it was Hawaii.

Just FYI:  if you’re searching for snorkeling in Hawaii, there are a plethora of options.  We chose one that included more than just a boat ride to the snorkeling spot and back.  Instead, it included a boat trip up to the Nā Pali Coast.  April wasn’t interested in the snorkeling–just the boat ride, but promised to take lots of pictures of any shark attacks us snorkeling.

This extended tour was definitely the right decision!

The snorkeling was fun.  I saw lots of fish, I didn’t have a panic attack, and I missed seeing the shark Christi saw.  YAY me!

After snorkeling, we continued north up along the western coast. Along the way, we were joined by a curious tortoise and later by a pod of dolphins, who swam along with and played around the boat for quite awhile.

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As the boat sped along, we were treated with some of the most spectacular coastline views of the famed Nā Pali Coast.  As I mentioned before, some of the cliffs are over 2500ft high!


All too soon, it was time to turn around and head back–giving us one last good look at the coast on one side and the expanse of nothingness on the other.

 


It was a great excursion and I highly recommend that if you’re going to take a snorkeling tour, opt for one that includes a bit of sightseeing around the island–it does take up a bigger chunk of your day, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

Aloha!

Paul Bunyan and Other Big Things

A few posts ago, I mentioned that April and I had penchant for searching for “World’s Biggest [insert random object here]”–well, this trip was filled with them!  I mean, how else are you going to break up a long road trip?

sidenote: now that I’m thinking about it, Minnesota and Australia seem to have a large number of “World’s Biggest” objects.  And I would also like to express my personal belief that if you’ve never seen the World’s Biggest Prawn in Ballina, NSW Australia, your life really is never going to be completely whole.  Of course, you could disagree with me, but well….you’d be wrong.

Anyway, back to Minnesota and this trip.  April had already marked out several stops to see big things, such as the World’s Biggest Walleye.

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However, this turned out to be a BIG FAT LIE.  It’s not the biggest.  We have actually seen one bigger (ha! that’s what she said!!).  It was on my first trip to Minnesota years ago.

see?  this one is A LOT bigger!

see? this one is A LOT bigger!

We also stopped to see the World’s Largest Hockey Stick.

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I’m not arguing this point…it’s dangerous to even talk about hockey in Minnesota unless you’ve grown up there (or Canada) and since I grew up in neither place, I respectfully abstain from commenting…except to say that is also the biggest hockey puck I’ve ever seen.

While it took a bit of a detour and it’s hard to see the scale, this is apparently the World’s Largest Loon.  It didn’t appear to be anchored, but of course, it could have just been on a really long line (The World’s Longest, perhaps?).

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I’ve already shown you the large lumberjack–again, not the biggest in the world but pretty darn big–and Smokey the Bear, which was the largest Smokey I’ve seen…does a bigger one exist?  I’m not entirely sure.  But if it does, then that’s one biiiiiiiiiiig bear.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

The highlight of this trip (in terms of World’s Biggest objects) was Paul Bunyan and Babe.  As long as I’ve been visiting Minnesota, I’ve been trying to track this elusive legend and his blue ox [click here for the story!].  We got close on my first trip, but…something didn’t seem quite right.  Perhaps it was the blatant advertising for the bowling alley that shared its parking lot with the Minnesota icons?

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Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine Paul Bunyan and Babe bowling with anything so…small…

This trip was totally different.  As soon as we pulled up, we knew it was the real deal.  Paul Bunyan and Babe.  My quest at last was over–and in the process–a few more World’s Largest objects added to my collection!

I HEART ROADTRIPS! 🙂

Thirsty Thursday #12

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday!

This week’s Thirsty Thursday is brought to you by BeckyJack’s Food Shack.  And they’re not lying.  It’s a shack, but the beer is cold AND they are always changing what’s on tap–so it’s a great excuse to go back again and again and again.  Oh yeah, and the food is amazing!

I really wanted to take a "menu" but I think they only had 3 available!

I really wanted to take a “menu” but I think they only had a handful available!

It’s definitely one place you don’t wanna miss when in the area…or the State of Florida.  I’m so glad that I ended my wonderful Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Trip #1 on such a tasty note…literally.  After we left Orlando, we came back to Spring Hill for a few days to lounge around and just hang-out.  On my last day, we went to BeckyJack’s for an unforgettable lunch of crab cakes and fish sandwiches.  We then drove back to the house, put the suitcases in the car, made one final sweep of the house to make sure I hadn’t left anything (but of course, I had…because I always do!) and off to the airport we went!

Don’t panic–don’t panic! I wouldn’t leave without giving you a beer pic on Thirsty Thursday (unless it was wine or whiskey!) 😉

Kona Brewery ale....of some sort (I can't remember--and of course, the beers on tap are constantly rotating!)

Kona Brewery Big Wave Golden Ale

Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Dinner #1

There are some dinners that were so amazingly special with the right mood and the perfect wine that they are forever emblazoned in your mind.  This, however, was not one of those dinners.  It was memorable for a whole other reason: Mother Nature.

Don’t get me wrong, the food and the ambience were spectacular…and then…it started to sprinkle.  But let me start from the beginning:

We decided to splurge and go on a sunset dinner cruise.  Sounds fabulous, right?  Small boat, captain is also a gourmet chef, BYOW and we’re good to go.  Perfect!  Wonderful!  Very Key West!  Our cruise was originally scheduled for Friday, however, it rained all day (and we’re not talking light drizzling either), so the captain asked if we could reschedule for Saturday night, when the weather was expected to clear off.  Ironically on Friday, the weather cleared off right before sunset and it was a gorgeous night.

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But I digress.  Fast forward to Saturday.  Big day (snorkeling and oysters!), beautiful weather, we were pumped up, dressed up, we had wine for each course, and were excited about our cruise! We show up, meet Captain Alex (James & I–Sissy & TK have taken his dinner cruise before!), take off our shoes (Captain’s orders!), hand over the wine, and climb up to the top deck of the boat, where our table is set up–along with another table for another couple.

The boat heads out to a lovely spot with some great views of the harbor. IMG_0102

We’re drinking wine, talking, and out comes the bread: grilled!  It was so delicious.  Who would have thought to throw the bread on the grill?  Well, Captain Alex obviously, but I certainly would not have.  Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), the bread did not last long!

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Not long after the bread disappeared the pre-appetizer comes out: a hand-carved cucumber shrimp boat, with grilled shrimp and a Thai chili sauce. If you’ve never had grilled shrimp with Thai chili sauce, you should DEFINITELY try that at home!

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Next came the appetizers of crabmeat stuffed portobello mushrooms and potato & goat cheese tarts (this all paired really well with the buttery Napa chardonnay that we brought!).

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After the appetizers came the salad–a mango rosemary salad with toasted almonds, mixed greens, white cheddar, a honey vinaigrette dressing, served with a side of rain.

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That’s right…rain.  At first it was sprinkling…so we put on our big girl panties (yes, even TK!) and just hovered under the canopy.  It’ll blow over, we said.  The rain got harder.  Any minute now it’ll stop, we said…the rain continued to get harder.

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Finally Captain Alex announced that the radar showed a massive storm blowing in and we would be safer if we docked.  So, he closed up the grill while we all braved the rain to climb down the ladder and squeeze into the cabin below!

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We opened the second bottle of wine (a big, fat, delicious Texas red!) and once we were docked and could reopen the grill, we continued with the main course: a fresh catch of the day with a spicy peppery sauce, grilled zucchini and a rice dish.

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We wrapped up the evening with the most amazing key lime white chocolate whipped cream & blueberries.  I tried my best not to lick my plate.  And by that, I mean, I waited until no one was looking until I licked my plate.

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All too soon, it was time to say good-bye to Captain Alex and disembark.  I could tell that Sissy & TK were a bit disappointed by the turn of events because they were so excited to share this little treasure that they discovered with James & me.  However, I think it was an extraordinary evening.  After all, when you have great friends, great wine, and great food–who cares when Mother Nature throws a storm your way??