4th of July Dolphins!

5 07 2011

And, we’re back! Sorry we missed ya yesterday! I (Steph) hope you had a fantastic 4th of July weekend! Now, it’s back to the grind…

Well, lucky for me, I took a few extra days off to hang out with my boyfriend in Orlando! Though I haven’t done any of the crazy cross training I did last time I was here, I have done some other cool stuff, like run a 5K and see manatee and dolphin in Cocoa Beach!

On the 4th, I ran the Watermelon 5K, where I ran into Kelly from Beneath It All and Megan from MegaNerd Runs.

The race was fun, and there were over 3000 people there! There was no “official time,” but according to my watch, I went 25:23. Not bad, but I definitely took it out a little too fast.

We also went on a dolphin and manatee boat tour! Last week, my boyfriend shared a Living Social link with me; it was a deal for a dolphin and manatee watching excursion. A two-hour tour for two people for 29 bucks? Count me in!

I knew I wouldn’t be doing any of this:

But I was definitely stoked to see them up close again!

I reserved our spots on a noon tour with the company, Fish Tale Tours. We had a tiny bit of difficulty finding the place when we got there, becuase it was a dock on the canal behind a restaurant, not well marked. I was a little skeptical when we finally found the empty dock with a small hand painted sign, but when the boats showed up with people from the earlier tour, I knew the place was legitimate.

Before we even took off, we spotted some manatee in the canal.

We set off, and went into another canal, where we saw a bunch of them! A cool thing about manatee is that they love to drink fresh water. So, one of the easiest places to spot the manatee was where fresh water was dripping into the canal.

Pretty cool huh?

It was a little sad though because a lot of the manatee we saw had pink scars on their bodies, from being hit by boat propellers. There are a lot of laws now to protect them, and require boats to travel at slow speeds anywhere close to where manatee may be.

After cruising around in the canal for a little while, we headed out into the river to search for dolphins. First we tried the west side of the river with no success. Then, on a pass on the east side, we spotted one. Then one more. Then another, and another! As we sat there, at least a dozen dolphins were popping up around us! I even spotted a baby or two! Here’s a video for ya!

I definitely got my 29 bucks worth out of this trip! I had a great time, saw lots of dolphin and manatee, the captain was friendly, and we almost had our own personal tour, since there was only one other family onboard with us!

After the tour, we ate lunch, which could arguably have been the best part of the day (well, the whole day was awesome, but I love me some food!) At the restaurant right out front of the dock, they were having a crab boil and making some BBQ beef sandwiches! SCORE! I got my fill of crabs last weekend, so I opted for the uber cheap ($4) sandwich that came with slaw and a pickle.

Topped with some BBQ sauce and what they called Tiger Sauce (horseradish, mayo, and some spices), this sandwich was awesome! Something about BBQ on a holiday weekend, just seems right.

I hope you all had some rockin meals this weekend!

Question of the day: What was your favorite part/meal of the weekend?





Vacation has arrived!

4 03 2011

First things first, I need to wish my parents a very happy anniversary! Tomorrow they are celebrating 35 years of marriage! How awesome is that!?! Here’s to another 35!!

http://www.free-extras.com/images/happy_anniversary-1527.htmsource

Ten years ago, for my parent’s 25th anniversary, we went on a family vacation to Hawaii.

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It was a FANTASTIC trip, and I was super excited that I got to benefit from their anniversary.:-)

Well, now its their 35th anniversary, I’m taking a little trip of my own to celebrate.  Though it would have been great to go on a family vacation, we couldn’t coordinate our schedules (y’know, being a working girl and all). Sad face.

So, here I am:

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Yup, I flew into Grand Cayman yesterday! A college teammate and good friend lives down here with her husband, and has graciously allowed me to stay with them for a few days! I was checking things off of my checklist for this vacay!

My flight left DC SUPER early Thursday morning. I had to wake up at 3:15AM. Yes, that says AM. I finished all my packing at around 11:30, so I really didn’t get much time to sleep. But, sleep is really important to me, so I got what I could so I could safely drive myself to the airport! I could sleep more on the plane anyhow.

The reason I had to leave so early was because I booked my ticket through Priceline. I got a FANTASTIC deal, but it meant a really early flight and 4.5 hour layover.  Hey, I’ll take that for the amount of money I saved!

Anyhow, I had a layover in Miami, and all I really wanted was a quasi healthy breakfast (since, despite waking up 5 hours prior, I hadn’t eaten yet; I had slept instead). I always find it so hard to eat right while I’m traveling. There are so many fast food places, or food carts with treats, or  easy grab-n-go snacks all over airports that make it very convenient to just eat anything at any time…or if you’re like me, eat the really overpriced meal disguised as being a local specialty just because you are somewhere new. And then being severely disappointed because, alas it still is airport food. 😦

So, here’s a few tips on ways to be a little healthier while traveling from my own experience:

1) Bring an empty water bottle. If you don’t mind drinking from a water fountain, fill it up as soon as you get through security. Often, when you think you’re hungry, you might just be dehydrated. If you don’t want to drink from the fountain, buy a water instead.

2) Bring your own healthy snacks. Why pay as much as you would for a whole box of granola bars to get just one? And, healthy snacks are so hard to find (or maybe I’m not looking in the right places?). I find baggies of nuts and dried fruit travel well. If you’ll need something more substantial, sandwiches (PB&J for example) is a great travel treat! I also bring fresh fruit too, and keep it in a carry on where I can make sure it doesn’t get squished.

3) Go with food choices you know. Though that deep fried empanada looked delicious, it was sitting under the heating lamp when I arrived at the airport, and it was still sitting there, 4.5 hours later, before my next flight took off. So, I opted for Starbucks, where I knew I could get my morning oatmeal fix:

Oatmeal topped with banana (brought from home), trail mix (brought from home), and Justin’s Peanut Butter (also, brought from home) and a Caramel Macchiato. Excellent way to enjoy my morning.

Ok, so you’re probably ready for some Cayman pics, right? Well…

Unfortunately, it was POURING when I arrived.

So I didn’t really get to take many pictures at all. But, I promise, I will be shooting lots this weekend! I did manage to get this one from my friend’s house after the clouds cleared a little. This is the view from their living room:

Last night also happened to be my friend’s book club meeting, and I was invited to join. They didn’t exactly have a book they were discussing, but rather they were sharing books they had read and thought others may enjoy. I thought this was a great idea, and now I have some more books I want to add to my reading list! And of course there was food, wine and socializing! Her friends were so friendly and very welcoming; I’m glad I was able to meet them!

The food we had was very tasty! We had some veggies and hummus, cream-cheese pimento dip, spinach-artichoke dip, and some naan pizzas with grilled veggies and balsamic drizzle. They were outstanding!

zucchini, squash, red pepper

this was devoured.

All in all, a good first day on the island.

What does today have in store you ask? Well, I’ll probably start with a run on the beach, or maybe a swim in the Caribbean Sea or maybe I’ll just lay in the sun and read;-) I think that will be my toughest decision I’ll have to make today. Rough, eh?

Have a fantastic weekend friends! Catcha next week!

Question of the day: How do you stay healthy when you’re traveling?

 





Today is An Important Day!

25 02 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!

Confession: I am a Daddy’s girl.  I have said this before and I will say it again…I have a cool Dad.  He is funny, smart, curious, understanding, motivated, kind, strong in all sense of the word and most important, a great role model. In a tribute to him, here are some of the most valuable things that I have learned from the guy:

  • Always keep your head up, even when things aren’t going according to plan.
  • If you aren’t up before the sun rises, you are missing the best part of the day.
  • Good-Better-Best, Never Let it Rest, Till the Good is Better, and the Better’s Best.
  • There is ALWAYS a silver lining.
  • If its on sale at the grocery store, buy 10.
  • Really really ridiculously good dance moves.
  • Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream is the only way to end the day.
  • Be Curious, not judgmental.
  • How to make really really ridiculously good black bean salsa (its a Spring/Summer dip so recipe to come soon!!!)
  • You can never be too generous.

Happy Birthday Dad! Hope that you are having a great day 🙂