Monthly Archives: March 2014

D E T O U R – South Florida

After a fun-filled day in Orlando, Casey and I continued south to Fort Pierce to visit his parents. It was a pretty easy drive, and we were psyched for a couple of days of relaxation after several jam-packed days of driving and goodbye-ing and theme park-ing.

sf-1the entrance to Dave & Nancy’s beach – paradise, for sure

Dave and Nancy rent this adorable little place right on the river and across the street from the ocean. We spent some time at the private and super quiet beach, checked out some of their favorite parks, paddled up and down the river (unfortunately, no manatee or dolphin sightings) and generally just laid low. It was so nice, and we were so glad to get to spend some time with them before we left.

sf-2Casey enjoying the nightlife

 

I am always impressed with Casey’s parents’ zest for life and overall everyday joy. They are definitely young at heart and bold in spirit – they dance when the band is good and sing along when they know the words. Sure, they get the work done when it has to be, but for the most part, they totally live in the moment. It is always such a pleasure to spend time with them.

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Dave and Nancy tearin’ up the dance floor // family photo

 

On Saturday, they drove us down to Singer Island. We all had lunch with my grandparents and Casey I stayed the night with them. Singer Island is one of those places in the world that always feels a little bit like home. Do you have those places? Whenever we visit Florida, this little town on the inter coastal is a stop, and I spent many of my college breaks there, hanging with Grammie and Poppa, learning to surf with my cousins, relaxing at the resort pool, biking through town, climbing the gumbo limbo trees, eating a grouper dog. It’s just one of those spots in the world that feels like mine, you know?

sf-7climbing the gumbo limbo trees, 1996

 

It was so great to see my grandparents – Grammie made pasta and meatballs! – and some other family stopped by for dessert. Casey and I walked the beach and I reminisced about Poppa “finding” us all conch shells (we thought he was the most talented, amazing, shell-finder… well he IS talented and amazing, but he sneakily purchased the shells ahead of time and “planted” them on the beach. We never suspected – and only found out yearrrrrs later. He’s the best).

 

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a Vermont mug in Florida – what are the chances?

Sunday morning, we went to breakfast (also a tradition!) and my coffee was ironically served in a Vermont mug. So funny. Then it was off to the airport and onto the next!

 

 

D E T O U R – Universal Orlando

universal-1-adventure The Port of Entry // These words greeted us as we entered the park

We took a break from the road in sunny Orlando, Florida. I am an unabashed Harry Potter and theme park fan, and so spending a day at Islands of Adventure when we were passing right by seemed like a no-brainer. Although my family spent countless vacations park-hopping, Casey and I hadn’t been to one in years. 

 

Our tickets allowed us to enter the park an hour before the “actual” opening, and I, like the nerd that I am, did a lot to research in order to maximize our experience (my Dad has zero tolerance for queues and used to call Disney “The Wonderful World of Waiting”… I seemed to have inherited this impatience). Casey and I came up with a loose plan of attack (thanks for all of the assistance, Murphy fam!) and armed with a park map app and a homemade Deathly Hallows shirt (I already owned up to both my nerdiness and my fandom – I wasn’t joking) we hit the park around 7:30 am.

 

universal-3-hogsmeadeHogsmeade // “Please mind the Spell Limits” // Hogwarts // Hogwarts Express

Our plan worked out wonderfully. We were some of the first people to enter, and went through the Hogwarts castle twice, rode both Dragon coasters and strolled through Hogsmeade before the park actually opened. In fact, we were able to hit most of the other big rides – The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Doom, Spiderman – before anyone really showed up. We wandered the park until around 11am, drank a deliciously sweet and frozen Butterbeer (at Three Broomsticks – again, thanks Murphys for the tip!) and then cut out for an early lunch – just as the crowds were beginning to swell.

 

universal-2-butterbeerButterbeer on the patio at Three Broomsticks

After a leisurely lunch, we walked over to Universal Studios, and went on a couple of rides. Nothing nearly as exciting as Islands of Adventure, but I did enjoy beating Casey at the Men in Black ride, both of us were surprised by how fun the Mummy coaster was, and were impressed by the new Transformers ride. Casey also convinced me to go on the Rip Ride coaster which scared the bejeezus out me (I am normally a coaster fanatic, but something about the straight up-ness of the first incline and drop were extremely frightening). The cool part about the coaster though is that you choose music that plays from speakers in the headrest – we chose Daft Punk and agreed that it was surprisingly well-suited to the ride’s excitement level. The other crazy part about that ride is that they VIDEO you the entire time. Nope, no cheesy single photo, an entire film of your face, to the music that you chose. Casey and I cracked up at my ridiculous overreactions – it was absolutely hilarious to see the fear/emotions once you were back on solid ground.

 

universal-4-simpsonsCasey loves the Simpsons

There were a couple of things we had missed before at Islands of Adventure, so we headed back into that park – mostly to go on the Jurassic Park ride (neither of us wanted to be wet earlier in the day, so we planned to hit this one almost last). Although I vaguely remembered getting wet, I had forgotten just how soaked you are at the end of the ride – I had been to Islands of Adventure years ago, and only remembered that my brother was so little and so freaked out by the T-Rex that he hid under the seat and we couldn’t find him in the ride photo! Anyways, I’m glad we saved it for the end of the day.

 

While we waited to dry off a bit (we had about a 2 hour drive ahead of us to Casey’s parents once we left the park) we wandered through Hogsmeade again. Casey wanted to ride the Dragon coaster, which he declared his favorite ride of the day (the green one, not the red, FYI). After that, I noticed that the line for Ollivander’s shop had dwindled drastically, and I suggested we check it out.

 

If you’re not well-versed in Harry Potter, Ollivander’s is a wand shop, where each wizard is chosen by a certain wand (the wand chooses the wizard, not the other way around). I had heard good things about the “show” at Universal, where one audience member is chosen to have a wand choose them. The line, which had been hovering around the 3 hour mark all day, seemed to indicate that the experience was worth seeing. We waited about a half an hour, and then were ushered into the dark and dusty shop. I was impressed (as I had been all day) with the level of detail and thoughtfulness the designers put into everything and was excited to witness some kid’s day getting made as they received “their” wand. However, Ollivander descended his staircase, peered into the crowd, studying us, and instead of an enthusiastic child, who does he choose to get a wand? Me. The 25-year old dream-ruiner, in her stupid Deathly Hallows t-shirt. I basically died. If I wasn’t the reluctant center of attention, I think I actually would have enjoyed the way that the wand “chose” me (just a heads up, my wand is made of reed and dragon heart string, and indicates that I have a “fiery” and “bold” personality). Casey thought it was just about the funniest thing ever (but despite that, did not manage to take a photo of my mortification).

 

universal-5-globeObligatory selfie

 

All in all, a great, fun day. We definitely recommend a visit, and I am especially excited to hear more about the new “Diagon Alley” section that is going to connect the two parks.

 

Have you been to Universal? What did you think? Although we were very impressed (okay, mostly me) with the level of detail and the way the designers and engineers carried out each section’s/ride’s theme and story, we felt that some of them (particularly the Forbidden Journey), just weren’t exciting enough. Are we just adrenaline junkies or did you feel the same?

J O U R N E Y – Part One

journey1

Last Saturday, we left Vermont.

It was a weird feeling, for sure, to leave a place with so much history and so many memories, unsure of when, if ever, you’ll be back. I was trying to remember a time I ever felt this mix of emotions before, and couldn’t. I mean, I was definitely sad and apprehensive about leaving Rochester after college, but everyone was leaving. I wasn’t leaving behind everything and everyone, everybody was moving on to the next. It’s very odd to be moving on independently.

 

But I digress.

 

We drove to my parent’s house in Syracuse, and spent the night there. Sunday morning, we got up and drove out to Rochester to see our sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. Charlotte and Levi entertained us, we played with Legos, and had lunch together. After lunch, we drove back to Syracuse to have dinner with the rest of Casey’s siblings. It was great to be able to see them before leaving! We’re hoping that everyone will come to visit us in Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving… come on down, guys!

meixellsLove these monkeys… miss you guys already!

 

After another night at my parent’s house, we got up Monday morning, and hit the road again. We headed down to Florida, by way of Washington, DC, to stop and see my very best friend, Bee.  

 

Despite another snowstorm for DC, the drive down was easy and uneventful. The combination of the snow and our plan to “miss” rush hour seemed to be ideal – no crazy Captiol traffic for us! We had a fun dinner with Bee and her friend Breton – Irish margaritas, all around (long story, but margaritas are sort of a tradition for Bee and I, and it just happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, so Irish margaritas it was)!  After dinner we lingered for a couple of hours (just to be sure rush hour was over) and wandered through Paper-Source and ate some delicious Georgetown Cupcakes.

bee-andmargs-1Irish margaritas + our happy place (Paper-Source, obvi)

 

After leaving Washington, the drive down 95 was mostly boring and loooong. I think I am glad we tackled it night – there’s not much to see! We did have a bit of excitement in North Carolina in the form of an unexpectedly icy bridge (utterly terrifying, if I’m being honest, but we are absolutely fine so nothing to worry about!) and at the South Carolina/Georgia border where both of us were so exhausted that we stopped and slept in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot for about an hour and a half.

 

We arrived in Orlando and checked into our hotel and napped for a couple of hours, then hung by the pool until dinnertime. The first part of our journey might be over, but the adventure is only beginning!