Posts Tagged With: Florida

On the road again!

After 8 months in Folsom, we were preparing to make our journey from California to Florida. First step was to sell our beloved Toyota 4Runner and purchase a “grownup” vehicle, a family friendly, fuel efficient, safe and reliable Subaru Crosstrek.

In the meantime, we had been looking into renting a Uhaul trailer to tow all of our belongings and after weeks of research, we (he) decided to build a trailer on his own to save cash and have something we can keep… and let’s admit it, it was a cool project for captain construction to have some fun with 😉 I’ll admit I was a little hesitant in the beginning but as time passed it proved to be perfect! I’m so proud.

Ok, so we’re packed, loaded and ready to go! Looking at the car-trailer photo from above makes me giggle knowing that everything we own is in that picture (excluding Matts surf boards). We have so much to be grateful for and so minimal to worry about. Beautiful!

The last time we made this trip (in reverse) we took the northern route through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and then on. This time we chose to go south to visit a few friends along the way and see some new scenery. First stop was in Riverside (Southern California) to see Craigg! You’ll recognize him from his first trip to Barbados, my time in Japan and most recently at our wedding.

Next up was Phoenix to hug Christie and John! Another bundle of joy that you’d recognize from Doing work in the AZ and also our wedding!

There really wasn’t anybody from Arizona to Oklahoma so we just made a quick overnight stop in New Mexico and woke up to get to my dads house for bedtime.

Our time in Oklahoma was short and sweet but allowed for a solid catch up with our family and announce the gender of our little one! We gave all 5 siblings a can of silly string and let them unload on us. Too much fun!

After Oklahoma we made what should of been a quick trip to Arkansas but considering we stopped every hour for the prego to pee, it took us far longer than expected. Sorry babe. The photo below is me attempting to get comfortable with a pregnancy pillow that was gifted to us. Epic fail… but we eventually made it to beautiful Hot Springs!

More cousins and tons of love greeted us on our final extended stay of the trip.

We made it to our last stop of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in which the camera regrettably didn’t leave our bags. I have no picture highlighting our visit with Matts grandparents (Maw Maw and Paw Paw) but it was short, sweet and full of homemade cookin! Early the following morning we said our goodbyes and put home in the GPS. Final destination, Miramar Beach, Florida!

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Honeymoon Road trip – part 1!

Saying goodbye was a bittersweet this time leaving my new found island home. As Matt and I packed up the last of our things, there was a sense of sadness realizing I didn’t have a return flight, yet at the same time excitement filled the air. A new adventure, an unknown journey, something I had never experienced before was just ahead of me! Airport drop off, next chapter… Married and moving to California!

Although the final destination is California, we flew into Florida to kick off our priceless road trip across the states for our honeymoon! This journey alone could of been a dozen posts with videos, hilarious stories and countless photos, but let’s keep in mind the goal is still to catch up to present date. So bare with me as we fly through what was a 3 week expedition from the east coast to the west!

Before we begin, let me just prep you with the underlying vibe this entire trip started out with. I had just asked Matt if I could close my eyes for a bit and of course his angelic new husband answer was something along the lines of, “Of course my dearest love, rest those gorgeous eyes of yours while I drive, I’ll have lunch waiting when you wake up”…. Or maybe he said, “Sure babe”.

Matt truly didn’t know I was filming until half way through the video. Brat:)

We started in West Palm Beach with his (and now my!) brother and family. We stayed long enough to purchase a 4Runner and hit the road towards our new home.

Matts Aunt Jerri and Uncle Wayde happen to be right along the way as we departed Florida. Brunch in Baton Rouge Louisiana started us off properly!

Last time I saw this guy was in Japan! My cousin Brandon and I have managed to stay in touch most of our entire adult lives while never living in the same state or country for the matter! I was so excited for him to meet my new husband and what a wonderful stopping point to eat, laugh and rest up!

Arkansas and Oklahoma consumed us with dozens of my family members eager to greet the newlyweds. It was the perfect half way point to take a week and reconnect with all of them.

My cousins (thank you Lacie and Lana!)  surprised us with a wedding reception full of food, games, dancing and gifts. We got to celebrate all over again!

One of our pit stops was Raton New Mexico. This adorable little church house used to be where my dad and his family lived. How lucky were we that they still owned it and got a key for another over night rejuvenation. The sunset photo is at the top of an overlook just outside of town.

👉🏽VIDEO TIME! Click here to see a video of this leg of the trip!

After hitting beautiful New Mexico, we headed north to one of my favorite states… Colorado! Mountains, rivers, lakes, mesas, valleys and fresh air, what’s not to love? I was even more excited finding out that one of Matts long time school friends lived in Vale which meant another purposeful pit stop. A rejuvenating walk, sit down dinner and quality catch up time was the perfect way to start the tale end of our journey.

I made the mistake of not recording where each picture was taken, but I still wanted to throw in a few random photos we snapped along the way!

Next stop, Monroe Utah!

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Coast to coast and over seas

The trip back to the states included the usual 3 consisting of California, Oklahoma and Florida. In order to catch up quickly I’m going to post some of my favorite photos that Matt and I snagged per state. 

As you can imagine, Oklahoma didn’t necessarily provide the best of landscape shots, but Matt was able to capture some wildlife that can easily be overlooked.

You know these lovely ladies, my cousins Lacie and Lana have made random appearences like Hot with a 92% chance of muggyFamily and treats in Oklahoma and Till next time Oklahoma! Check out these comparisons from a few years ago to now.

Moving on to California! Before Matt met me here, I was honored to attend a dear friends wedding. Now when I say “dear friend”, I mean a woman that has shown me the true definition of unconditional love and support. It makes my heart full of joy to see her so happy. Congrats to Liz and Katie! Ps, best Rockabilly wedding ever and a special thanks to my perfect date, Crystal! (you’ve seen her in Jumbled shinaniguns in California and 32 candles on 32 peddles!) Wedding bells put away and Matt finally arriving, it was time to venture around! Of course we hit my hometown of Folsom, but the highlight was Truckee and Lake Tahoe! Here are some of my favorite pictures he took with the rest shown on his site www.stonesharpimagesphotography.comThe Heavenly ski resort provides a gondola ride for all of their participants as well as non skiers to enjoy the epic view of Lake Tahoe. Shall we? We shall!

The above photo is looking back at the Lake and below is what you’ll see as the slow, smooth moving Gondola glides to the top.

Finishing up my visit to the US, I found myslelf all smiles with good ol’ mom. Although it really has nothing to do with this post I feel the need to list a few of my favorite writings that include moments with her. So if you’ve got the time for random reads, I invite you to visit the pasts posts of our time in Cental America when mom was brave enough to venture abroad with me in Puerto de la Libertad and Wrapping up our time in El Salvador. Or maybe you’d be interested in good cry today? Embrace yourself for Not just a dolphin tour, it seems to be a tear jerker.

Getting back to this post, I mainly just wanted to hit the highlights of music, beaches and friends… the perfect combo!

After soaking up time with family, friends and new acquaintances I flew to South Florida to meet back up with Matt.

Intermission: Turns out I traveled straight through the tornados of Atlanta and was held in the airport for two days. Here’s what the terminals look like at 2am with severe weather outside. After 8 canceled flights, 38 hours of wandering the airport and being 130 on the standby list… I finally made it! Our next flight and final stop is home (for now) being the beautiful island of Barbados! 

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Love in the shape of music, art and traveling sand

Ok, catch up time! I’m currently sitting on the floor of the Fort Lauderdale airport. Why the floor? Ever have the time and space for stretching, flexing or relaxing? Use it! Check out my favorite airport session in the post Workout and rest up in Asian airports

Ok, why am I in route and where am I going… I’ll get back to that after I do a quick round up of the last few weeks. Here’s a few events that I probably should of done entirely separate posts for, but I didn’t, so here we go.

Music, art and beach time!

I’ll give you one guess on the talent that mom and I chose to spend time with? After the  several posts I’ve published on here, you’d have every right to assume it was the band Heritage. How lucky we were that my talented friends Dannica and her brother Ben were starting it off! Schatzti and the String Boffin opened in this backwoods feeling venue with grass as the dance floor, fire pits for warmth and a wooden built stage. Look familiar? This was the original venue in which I was first introduced to their happy and healing tunes. Welcome back to the Backyard Boogie



Art comes into play with a birthday! Matt celebrated his back on October 26th by hosting his first art reveal! From creative paint to photography and light painting, there was a variety of eye and mind stimulation. Go ahead, take a look around! 

Like what you see? Check out the real deal on his website by clicking Here!

We created a little bit of food art to compliment the drinks for the guests attending.

What goes well with food, drinks and art? Music of course! He brought in a few of his instruments for a proper set up and led with an open invite for whom ever wanted to participate.

What a stunning sunset to close out a successful birthday event!

The beach visit of this post has a warm undertone as there was great purpose for mom and I to wander to the shore with an empty container and camera. My sweet Grams back in Oklahoma has never seen the white sand of Florida and often questions the texture and shells that lay within. With this knowledge, mom had a brilliant idea of collecting some and bringing it back to her home in middle America. Good call mom!

Side note, I really did bring it back to her and it’s now the hot topic of her visitors (who are all used to the red dirt and rocks of Oklahoma).
So that wraps up a few pages to the last chapter, and yes, there’s a new one about to begin!  Thanks for supporting and being such a grand part of this incredible journey. I now invite you to love yourself and those around you with the pure kindness. Cheers to all of you beautiful souls! 

I’m being asked to stand as they just announced, “Now boarding, flight 385 direct to Bridgetown, Barbados.”

Next stop… Sandy toes and sun kissed salty hair!

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Excuse me glamper, did you say S’moreberry?

Some girls go to Vegas, others hit up Mexico (I’m guilty of both) and a few hit the sticks! Mom and I joined our dear friend Gloria for a ladies only camping weekend! Or maybe we should classify it under Glamping, defined as – a style of camping with amenities and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Of glamour.

Meet the girls!

Now welcome to our weekend view! This beauty is located at St.Andrews park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Sun-up is our alarm for a walk into the hmm, can’t really call it the wilderness and it’s not a town so we’ll just go with, a walk in the outdoors! 

Things you may see on a stroll through the paved wilderness. Birds, berries, butterflies, Bambie, bikers and the random tree huger.

As you trek the great pavement, you get to see how others have set up their site as well as where these campers have ventured from. I originally took photos of all the different license plates to show you, but then I realized that may or may not be crossing personal information boundaries. So, for what it’s worth there were over a dozen different states in just a short 1/4 mile stretch.

A bit up the way we explored an old Mill. I felt like kids on a field trip!

Other things we saw along the way.

This woman was collecting trash throughout the property. Thank you ma’am! 

What’s this? An adorable set up that appears to provide a stage and seating for special events. To me… a handstand podium!

Arriving back to the site brought on dinner followed by a friendly round of games complemented with a proper girls toast. These are those moments that, through laughter and genuine conversation you try to appreciate every beautiful second. 

Confession: the main reason I go camping is for the fire at night

How many girls does it take to open a folding chair? We don’t know.


On this evening, we brought out the ingredients for traditional s’mores (a delicate sandwich-like treat composing of chocolate and toasted marshmallow being held together by graham crackers). As we’re roasting, or in my case igniting, the marshmellows, mom gasps with excitement. “I’ve got it! What would this taste like with a warm strawberry inside?” Of course the next step was to try this campfire creation. Thus, the new dessert she appropriately named S’moreberry.

A special thanks to Gloria for sharing her space, energy and time. Our conversations are still present in my mind and I’m so grateful for the love and support. Cheers to the gypsies at heart!

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Pumpkins and parties!

Halloween. The dictionary says it’s the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows’ Eve. To most of us, it’s a family friendly holiday full of costumes, candy and spooky decorations. To others it’s the perfect excuse for adult parties in which grown-ups act out of character (or fully in) as they strut around in costume.

Since I’ve been on the road, my Halloween celebrations have ranged from completely non existent like in donating blood at the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Cambodia to the skull and bones of the Oakland Raiders game. Last year I decided to sport the 80’s while painting up my buddy Hayden before a night out in the capital city of Sacramento, California. 

Best costumes of my backpacking journey most definitely go to the Sevens Tournament in New Zealand!

Halloween 2016 took me covered in pumpkin guts to pool side costume parties. Let’s begin!

First up, let me reintroduce you to Cole, creator and director of Enlightened Studios. You may recognize him from the post Music for the soul and friends for the spirit. All of us feeling like children, we gathered some pumpkins and snacks before clearing an area for the mess to unfold. Picking your pumpkin and design seems like it should be an easy task, but I feel like most of our time (meaning my moms) was spent on this process.

Luckily there’s extra thinking time as you hollow out each canvas. Sensitive to slimy seedy textures? This wouldn’t be a task for you then.

Pumpkins picked, scraped and cleaned… check! Now comes the carving tools to bring your ideas to life. Warning, these “carving knives” may appear stronger than they really are.

While waiting for everyone (mom) to finish, I lightly covered our seeds in coconut oil and a dash of sea salt for some home roasted treats, delicious! Cole went above and beyond and even painted his ninja turtle pumpkin green! I dig it.

After hours of snacks, pumpkin guts and laughing to tears we felt accomplished with our creations. Mom did the peace sign that sits to the left of Coles Ninja turtle and I went with the Om symbol.

Next up, dress up! I was lucky enough to be invited to a few separate parties to get good use of my costume. Fun fact, I owned most of my attire all ready, just added a few tattoos, gems and bedazzled jewels. 

The first gathering was a bundle of live music! With a gypsy sister (mom) as my hot date, we enjoyed our evening at the 30a singer and songwriter cafe. We were graced with the presence of Cole (Ace Ventura) from our pumpkin carving night and my angel of a friend Erica!

The following night was a larger party located in the same spot from the post Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach

My hot date for this evening? Enter Matt, remember him from Light attracts light? With a last minute decision, I through my same costume on and put a dash of eyeliner on him. A face tattoo and jacket created as close to a rocker as we could get him before we headed off!

A glossy swimming pool and clear sky made for the perfect outdoor party. Care to dance? A popular DJ played all night! Thirsty? Easy accessible bars surrounded the venue. Notice the photos projected on the wall? They were taken throughout the night and exposed for all to see, over and over… and over again. Photo from above curtesy of alysbeach.com, check it out for more events! 

Our friends arrived as Cruella Deville and a Dalmatian, classic. Amongst others was a variety of characters from movies, politics and of course your traditional zombies, princesses, ghosts and the wizard of oz crew.
That concludes my better late than never Halloween post. Next up, the great outdoors! Till then, just keep smiling…

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Sir fish photo-bomber 

My final post for this round of Florida will bring you to the shore on Panama City Beach. My beautiful company for the day is my ever so popular mom and our dear friend Jeanie. This has now become tradition for each one of my visits. Nothing but us girls, a few chairs, snacks, drinks and tons-o-smiles. 

Look east and you’ll find high rise hotels boasting their view of the sea. Take a gander to the the west and you’ll see a few locals surrounded by the tourists staying in those hotels.

Our little set up was perfect, not to mention able to withstand the winds that others were having such difficulty with!

(I may or may not of giggled a few times watching people battle their umbrellas). 


Since I’ve completely bailed recently on keeping the blog up to date, I’m going to fast forward slightly and catch you up to what’s been rolling along in her happy trails.

First things first, I’ve returned to Barbados!

Arriving back to my home away from home, I was greeted by my guests. That’s correct, my friends from California beat me here but made time to join me for some traditional “must do” activities! This post is all about a cruise on the  Cool Runnings Catamaran! You’ve seen happy faces on this adventure many of times in several past posts. Here we are getting the rules (or lack there of) out of the way. 

A quick sail leads us right to the underwater land of sea turtles, tropical fish and salty smiles. 


By far the best underwater photobomb I have ever encountered! Well done sir fish… well done.

 Captain Orlando, Chad, Brandon, Zack and Sean… Thank you for making it yet another fabulous experience!

On the last evening before they departed back, we met up to enjoy the Oistins popular Friday night fish fry. Denny, Shawn, Ally, Jacob, Steve and Sini… Thank you so much for your company on this magical island and I truly hope it goes into your memory book of an unforgettable vacation! Ps, I’m holding you to the family soup tradition!

                           

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Music for the soul & friends for the spirit

You all should be familiar of the tunes I’ve been sharing (you’re welcome) all over this blog for years now. The band Heritage has made its way on several posts and some of my most memorable ones are Grass bottom dance floor4th of July, Santa Rosa beach style, and the unforgettable opportunity going on tour with them shown in A man becomes what he thinks about! This round, I was lucky enough to score two evenings during my visit to Florida. Check out the scene at Fudpuckers in Destin, Florida!

The second show was at a new outdoor venue on 30A!  The Hub offers a stage, several dining options, indoor/outdoor bars and a welcoming seating area for groups to gather.

Hello friends!

Nightfall just enhanced the mood with well placed lights and a perfect moon to end the evening. 


Not all live music has to come from a big stage to brighten the day. Let’s move on to a Sunday afternoon with some of the vibrant people shown above. Enlightened Studios is. Home based production company that provides an environment to “promote positivity through music production, performance, and education”. With bright colors, happy decor and a variety of instruments, this house shouts as a wonderful gathering place!

With a surrounding like this, how does one refrain from making music? They don’t.

Wander outside and you’ll find the garage turned lounge, ping pong court and art gallery. The fun just doesn’t end! 

Hugs, love and all the good vibes to go with! Thank you Cole for your irreplaceable smiling eyes and always open door. You make a difference in the lives around you!

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Light attracts light 

With a camera in hand and his face wearing an innocent but mischievous grin, he grabs the safety goggles and invites us to follow him. “I thought you said we were going to do some light painting photography?” (Image in my head: us in a studio covered in paint with cool lighting and a few snap shots). “We are… Kind of.” He replies. 

The gentleman I’m speaking of plays a magnificent role in the light attracts light equation of this post. Matt’s desire for an abundant life is shown not only through his artwork but the unmistakable joy he shares for nature, people and all the organic experiences in between. World, meet Matt Stone!

On this clear evening of darkness lit with bright stars, I allowed my trust to follow his footprints in the sand as we headed to the bay shore just over the main bridge in Panama City Beach. 

This is Rob, another brave smile joining us on this fantastic mini adventure.


Allow me introduce to you the art of steel wool photography. 

Step 1: Gather your tools. You’ll need a rope, steel wool, a metal kitchen whisk, a lighter, protective clothing  with goggles and gloves, an open mind and fun loving people. 

Oh, and let’s not forget the camera! No, not your iPhone 12 point two-cool-for-school but a legit camera or as I call it, a “big kid camera”. Matt used a Canon 7D Mark II with an 8 mm fisheye lense. 


Step 2: Find a safe environment with nothing flammable within range and preferably next to (or in our case, directly in) a large body of water. 

 Step 3, 4 and 5: Let the fun continue! Set your camera up properly with a 20-30 second shutter speed. Your partner in crime then gets in place and starts the show. By rubbing a lighter or 9 volt battery against the wool, it will start sparking but won’t really produce any flames (thankfully). This is go time in which the holder swings the rope in circles to create a globe styled design with hot ambers lighting the sky. Bouncing off rocks, sizzling to the water and circling the masters head, the camera captures several strands of the ambers path. A strong enough launch to have me dancing and dodging a few red hot drops on shore!
Here are just a few of the shots we captured that night. If I would have recorded audio along side these episodes, you’d witness a few reactions of amazement, a couple screeches of fire kissing the skin and an abundunce of pure laughter. (Sounds like an entertaining evening to me!)


The following night they returned and created some new angles with vibrant colors under a local bridge. Brilliant!


Another art form is light painting photography. Simply put, it’s just a magical way to enhance a photo with demensional light designs. We had some light-hearted fun with it! Pun intended.


Leave it to Matt to take my “I wonder if you…”  thoughts and turn them into a beautiful reality. I mentioned creating a heart. He did the rest!


Matt, thank you for the beginning of a new chapter to this beautiful book of art, freedom and universal peace. Everyone needs a modern day super hero 😉

If you want to check out more of his work please check out his insta @stone_sharp_images.

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White Christmas… snow or sand?

Who do you spend your holidays with? 

Relative: a person connected by blood or marriage.

Friend: a person who you like and enjoy being with; one who is attached to another through affection.

Family: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation (in my opinion it’s a combo of the above).

If I were to get a little emotional in my writing, I’d tear up as I tell you how lucky I am to have gotten to spend several holidays with some of the most amazing people I know. You’ve seen my dearest family in Oklahoma in which this time of year calls for freezing rain storms and an abundunce of sweet treats. Then there’s my incredible mother who so eagerly makes every occasion so special with our time in Florida. My childhood friends in California never fall short to extend a welcoming invite to spend the winter days with them as seen in the holiday 5k run and Dream-catcher with the hawk. I’ve even been fortunate enough to have celebrated abroad like St.Patricks day in Argentina, Thanksgiving in Japan and the unforgettable Easter in Panama.

This year I wasn’t in Florida with my mum for the actual holiday but it wouldn’t seem complete if I didn’t mention our Christmas festivities (which is summed up by the photos below). I love you mom!  

 

Christmas in the Caribbean is surprisingly more similar to what I knew as a child back in the states.  There’s jolly carols playing in most of the shopping areas with random decorations lining the malls and public buildings. Store attendants have Santa hats on and St.Nicholas may appear randomly throughout the weeks leading up to the 25th.  If I had to outline the differences from what I can remember in the cold USA to the island life now, it’s obviously the weather and possibly the stockings.  Aside from candy, we got gloves and mittens, flannel pajamas and little trinkets.  Here they get Catch bars, sunglasses, flip flops and surfboard wax. Instead of snow angels, it’s sand angels and the pine trees that are brightly decorated in the front windows have been imported from overseas, instead of hand cut down on a visit to the mountains. 
Here’s a tiny snip of some of the scenes around here on the magical island of Barbados.

   

In regards to dinner, the typical meat served around here includes fish, ham, turkey or good ol’ fried chicken. The sides range from macaroni pie, sweet potatoes, plantains, greens, boiled vegetables and other random family recipes. If you’re lucky there will be some fried okra, homemade cassava rolls and breadfruit! Like a bit of spice? I wouldn’t pass on the local pepper sauce! Is your mouth watering? Check out all of the posts listed here for a much clearer canvas of the Bajan food that I have fallen in love with.  

 This Christmas I was welcomed into a variety of meals, toasts and family affairs that left me overflowing with love!  

In respect of all lovely people I encountered and homes I visited, I’ll keep this portion private and simple. (I also fear that if I begin to mention all the names of the hugs that I got to embrace that I’d leave out someone and we don’t want that). So for what it’s worth, here’s a just a small bundle of an entire day of joy! 

 I’ll close with some fun by taking a look at past and present winter photos. Wonderful to think that while some are strapping in snowboards, others are on surf boards and when a bunch of you decide which scarf to wrap up in, others are debating on which swimsuit to wear. Warm veggie soup verses a freezing fruit smoothie, snow boots or sandy toes… The list could go on and on!

  

    
 

  Ok, so the 25th has passed and all is quiet on the island… 

                                                       Yeh, if you’re the only one that lives in a cave! 

Next post will expose what is now one of my favorite events that takes place on December 26th, look out for Boxing Day!

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