"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Of Beaches and Sun!

Since many of us on the East Coast are currently snowed in thanks to Jonas, have a story of warmth, sand, and ocean. :)

On Friday, January 8, 2016, we headed to South Florida to visit the in-laws. And our friends. And the beach. And stuff.

If you're my friend on Facebook, you've already seen many of the pics. Here is the story behind them.

Warning: you might want to read this with lunch or dinner next to you. There will be food porn. As in, Charles and I went out of our way to take pics of most of what we ate for blog purposes. Don't read while famished! You have been warned! ;)

Two years ago, we had returned to visit for Charles's cousin Bea's beach wedding. At the time, I highly resented the trip because:

1. We had only been gone for a year.
2. South FL = just "no" for me. Florida was the ONE state I had always said I would NEVER live in: it was too much like the island but without the parts of the island that I loved (like mountains and Caribbean beaches.) Why would I want to live in a flat, hot, humid, stinky swamp when I had it so much better back in my homeland?

Moving to Tampa initially to live with Charles had been a reasonable compromise for me because it actually got cold in the winter (enough for frost at night), I loved the Spanish moss, and I loved its location halfway up the state, which meant it was a 4-hour drive to leave Florida if you wanted to go on a real road trip. South FL had been the "hell no" of the hell no. We moved there for Charles and I cried almost every day of our first couple of months living there. I had absolutely hated that part of the state with a vengeance. And then it took 6 years for us to be able to get out of there once we were there.

I think you can understand why I still had no desire to return to Florida for our last trip there, even if only to visit for a weekend. I had this horrible fear that we would somehow get stuck there again.

This time it was different.

This was my expression for most of this trip...
mainly because I got to have that as our background for most of the trip too!
First, the trip ended up happening right after our first week of real winter weather in MD. There was much envy at work over my leaving for a warmer climate and I may have rubbed it in a bit because I could...and because I'm evil like that. ;) Also, it dawned on me that I had not seen the ocean in two years...and I was ready to experience it again. And I wanted to go dancing at a Latin music club because that's hard to find in our part of Maryland. And a vacation from speaking English didn't seem like a bad thing either. (Because in South FL it's actually a MAJOR advantage if your first language is Spanish. We didn't speak a lick of English during the 4 days of our stay!)

The occasion? Charles's brother Xavier  had been planning this huge, huuuuge Three Kings' party since way back in September. 150 people were invited to this party and the in-laws purchased our plane tickets for us so we could go too. It was a Major Event. That then got kind of cancelled at the last minute due to circumstances out of Xavier's control. "Kind of" because the party was still happening but at a much smaller, intimate scale: only 20 people or so invited now. Of course our trip was still happening. 

The party was scheduled for Saturday January 9th. There weren't huge plans for the other days (we were staying until Monday January 11th) so we coordinated with Charles's parents so we could both hang out with them and the family but also still do our own thing so we could see our friends. They were wonderfully accommodating and I became very, very excited about this trip!

The Friday we were leaving dawned foggy, cold and miserable. We drove into Rockville early in the morning, where we parked and took the Metro into DC to Ronald Reagan International Airport.

Charles called this photo, "From our vacation to Silent Hill."
The cold, foggy, misty day really did look like something straight out of Silent Hill!
First the cowboy hat and now the Carhart jacket...He was also wearing bootcut Wranglers.
He has officially converted to the dark side. ;) 
The beard looks good on him but I like this look so much better!
The Metro took a little longer than usual but we still had plenty of time to grab breakfast at our favorite airport restaurant, Cosi. Cosi is an upper East Coast Latin-inspired food chain of which there are a handful in the MD/DC/VA area, but we only go when we're at the airport. The last time my mom came to visit, her flight was delayed for FOUR HOURS...which happened after her plane was airborne, which meant I had no way of knowing it was delayed until I saw the arrival time change on the boards! So I spent FOUR HOURS wandering the aisles of Ronald Reagan...after eating lunch at Cosi, of course. That airport is now my friend because it managed to keep me entertained for what felt like an eternity!

He was on the phone with his parents.
When we were done eating, we made our way past Security and to our terminal to wait until we could board our plane.

This is my travel backpack and I absolutely love it. I've had it for 12 years! It was also my school backpack while in vet tech school. All of those patches were hand-stitched onto it by me. And yes, that is Invader Zim's Gir in the upper right-hand corner. Most of the patches and buttons on the backpack were bought at Hot Topic back in PR. (Yes we have Hot Topic. It was my brother's and my favorite store in our early 20's!) You can't see it in this photo, but the backpack is also covered in Liquid Paper and Sharpie graffiti with some of my favorite quotes.
This patch is entirely by me: I painted the lightning and mountains with acrylic paint onto a sheet of canvas cloth, sealed it, cut it out and sewed it onto the backpack. The quote underneath was painted onto the backpack with white acrylic paint: "When I heard the storm I made haste to join it, for in storms Nature has always something extra fine to show us. - John Muir." This used to be on a poster in my bedroom back in PR.
 As usual, I fought Charles for the window seat and won.

Still in DC. See how foggy it was?
I LOVE flying. LOVE. I dreamed of having wings when I was a kid.
As above, so below.
Flying both under and above clouds. Made me think of sea foam on shore.
Flying above a storm.
I eventually was lulled to sleep by the hum of the plane and zonked out for a good portion of the 2.5 hour flight.
I woke up to this! OCEAN!!!
I had somehow forgotten the swampland aspect of Florida. But never the disorienting flatness.
We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport at 2:30 pm, on time, and walked out into the mugginess. It was 75 degrees and HUMID.

And palm trees. I was excited about the palm trees.
Charles's parents arrived promptly to pick us up.

First stop?

The beach. For lunch.

Charles had told his parents that I wanted to go to the beach. They went above and beyond with my one major request: they made SURE that I went to the beach EVERY DAY of this visit. It was AWESOME. During this visit, we went to the beach more than during our last entire year living in South Florida. O_o

Pollo Tropical was our FAVORITE fast food and it is only found in Florida. Our meal of choice? Tropichops: a bowl of rice and black or red beans, with your choice of roasted chicken, shredded pork or carnitas. Yes, that is Cuban-style fast food for you, and it is actually good for you!
The Intracoastal. It leads to the ocean.
We were stopped on an elevated bridge, which had gone up to allow a major boat to go through. The in-laws encouraged us to run out of the car to get pics while waiting for the boat to pass.
I was maybe only a little happy to be this close to the sea again. ;)
Look behind me: see the road that looks like a hill? That's the part of the bridge that literally lifts. It was in the process of going up when this pic was taken. This is a normal sight in South FL but one that outsiders might not even know happens!
My husband is hotter than Pitbull. Sorry. ;)
This is one of my fave pics of us of the entire trip!
It's funny: I hated our time living in this place so much overall (though it gifted me with a new career, some lifelong friends, our wedding and my horse) that I failed to document on the blog all of the cool little things about daily life here that others would have found fascinating and alien, but that, being islanders from a hot climate, we took completely for granted. A big part of it was that I was trying to be vague about where we lived because I was still getting used to blogging and the whole concept of being another presence on the internet. And I didn't have much of a following then, so I had no clue about what people would find interesting, and at the time, I didn't find daily life in SoFL interesting enough to want to document it for myself. .But it would have been a lot of fun now to be able to look back and read the details about events and moments that are reserved in memory.

However, if you go back through the blog, everything I wrote from 2011 to November 2012 took place in South FL.

Las Olas Boulevard. "Las olas" literally means "the waves." It's one of the main Fort Lauderdale roads that will take you straight to the beach!
The in-laws took us to this little beachfront Mexican place called The Drunken Taco. Hilarious. I grabbed my bikini, a skirt, flip flops and a tank top from my suitcase and changed into more appropriate hot-weather clothes in the restaurant bathroom!

The beach was RIGHT THERE.
We ordered our food and I told Charles that I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED to go down to the water before I could eat. We were planning on walking along the beach after food anyway, but I could NOT hold still knowing the ocean was within sight. I needed to go say hello and touch it before I could sit down again. 

He obliged. :)

NOW I could eat lunch. :)
 Which was served promptly.

Fish tacos!! They had sliced mango in them and feta cheese. With a side of rice and beans. And Blue Moon beer. And Charles ordered a pina colada the size of my head. I told him that I would be the Best Wife Ever and drink half of it for him so he wouldn't have to drink that giant thing all by himself. ;) He may have tried to swat me away. I won.
After we had scarfed, we went for a walk on the beach. Charles's family went to get the car out of the parking lot while we wandered along the sand.

Except Charles likes to walk on walls...
This is not made of snow. ;) 
And then we sat in traffic for over an hour en route to the in-laws' house.

Rush hour Fort Lauderdale traffic. And people complain about DC traffic...
Gorgeous sunset over one of the many canals.
If you look very closely at this photo, you will see an actual hill on the horizon under the section of orange sky (you will have to embiggen the photo to see). That is not a hill. It is a landfill. For garbage. It's official name is Monarch Hill Renewable Energy Park but is better known as Mount Trashmore. It is located in Coconut Creek, the town where Charles and I used to live. This is going to sound crazy to many of you, but I actually loved Mount Trashmore. It was visible both from our barn and the townhouse we lived in. The green hill with the palm trees in the forefront reminded me of PR. Charles and I always said that it was majorly pathetic that the main reason why we liked Coconut Creek so much was because it had a dump that reminded us of mountains. That shows you how desperate our brains were for a visual relief from the flatness.

We unpacked at the in-laws' house and I got in touch with my friend Diana, who knew we were visiting and had been waiting for me to let her know when we were settled so she could kidnap me for a few hours!

Diana is my best friend from South FL. You can read a little about her here; she has her own label on the blog. :) Diana and I met at Crazy Lady's barn, where I had Cloud. She was friendship at first sight: one of those rare people that I have taken an instant liking to. As is usually the case with this type of situation, the feeling was mutual. We became instant friends, as if we had known one another all our lives. Our friendship was a continuation. I adore Diana. She arrived at that first barn 7 months pregnant and with her huge Percheron/QH cross mare Bali. We shared a tack/feed room and I worked with Bali when Diana couldn't ride anymore. Diana wasn't able to come out to the barn for 3 weeks after giving birth to her daughter and I took care of the big mare for her. (It was a self-care facility.)

I left when I lost Cloud and then begged Diana to move to the barn I had moved to...which was just down the street! We would meet up to hang out occasionally but it was hard for her as a single mom. She finally was able to get Bali out of Crazy Lady's barn and came over to my barn, where we boarded together happily ever after with our mares in neighboring stalls until Charles and I moved out of state. We shared evening chores, set up feed together, went on trail rides, stayed at the barn late into the evening talking about work and life, went to the grocery store together after our chores were done just so we could hang out a little bit longer, and stayed together through thick and thin when we had some major, major drama at the barn.

I miss her dearly and hadn't seen her in two years.

We went out to her new barn, where she has her new horse Bill, an awesome Rocky Mountain Horse gelding that looks like a longer, taller, slightly darker version of Gracie. He is blind in one eye and an absolute sweetheart. She has had him for 6 months. She sold Bali almost a year ago: the big mare was a stubborn knucklehead and Diana just wasn't having fun with her. She had had her for 6 years. Her relationship with Bill is already light years ahead of what it was with Bali! When we got out of the car, Bill whinnied from the other side of the property when he heard Diana's voice. We were the only people at the barn!

Bill with Diana's daughter earlier this year.
We then went to Chili's for dinner (this was also an old hangout of ours) and had Presidente margaritas and ate too much while laughing our heads off. We stayed until the restaurant closed!!

Diana dropped me off back at the in-laws' house and Charles and I went to bed way too late...so we could wake up early the next day to do what?

Why, go to the beach again, of course!

It was a gorgeous day. We were later told that it had rained for weeks leading up to this weekend. The sun literally came out for our visit.
But first: breakfast! Or brunch, rather, since we were all slow to head out the door and breakfast was done by the time we arrived at the Latin American Grill in Pembroke Pines.

"Mariquitas" aka fried plantain chips. The sauce is a sweet garlic sauce that is amazeballs.
A real, honest-to-God Cubano sandwich. These have "pernil" (aka pork shoulder), ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, served on French bread. BEST.SANDWICH.EVARRR...
This is a "cuatro leches" or "four milks". The typical Cuban desert is "tres leches" or "three milks". A "tres leches" is a type of sponge cake soaked in three types of milk: evaporated and condensed milk, and heavy cream. The 'fourth milk' of the "cuatro leches" is the "dulce de leche" (aka caramel) over the top. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the best dessert you will ever have in your life. It is hard to find, too: tres leches is common but if you like caramel and sweets, and you find yourself at a restaurant that offers "cuatro leches", do try it!
A guy playing guitar right outside the Latin American Grill. 
The Three Kings party wasn't until that afternoon, so Charles and I took a change of clothes for later and his dad drove us over to Hollywood Beach in Fort Lauderdale to hang out for a couple of hours.

Hollywood Beach. We had never been to this part of it.
Oceanfront shops and restaurants.
We realized here that we had forgotten to bring towels. I wanted to go swimming so badly! The water was unseasonably warm: it's usually ice cold in the wintertime.

The water was crystal clear.
We then stopped by DP's Bar, which had this sign up front:

I kept my top on...
They had some awesome live music. Charles, his dad and I had a round of beers before going back to the car so we could head to Xavier's house.

Father and son with their Coronas. :)

A lot of houses in Xavier's neighborhood still had Christmas decorations up because Latinos. (We celebrate until at least mid-January. I just took down our decorations this past weekend.) This Star Wars nativity scene won, seriously.
We changed clothes at the house and walked around greeting friends and family. Charles went to get us beer from the coolers...and realized that there was no beer. None. Not one bottle of beer in the entire house. Blasphemy! Xavier needed insect repellent for the nieces so we went to a nearby Publix with the excuse of getting Off for the girls...and beer, of course.

Charles had completely and 100% forgotten about this. I had to argue with him to NOT walk into the liquor store next door and follow me into Publix for beer. Not only is there almost half of an aisle dedicated to it, they have a decent selection.
This is the beer that made me like beer. It's very popular in Florida but nearly impossible to find in Maryland. You bet we got a 6-pack...and also one of Coronas for everybody else so no one would steal my our beer.
My preciousssss...
The wine aisle. At the grocery store. We used to take this for granted...in MD you have to walk into a liquor store to buy both wine and beer. Some gas stations in Frederick will sell beer, but in South FL you can buy it at any pharmacy, gas station, or grocery store. So easy. I used wine for cooking a lot more back in FL than I do now because I just had to swing by the aisle to grab a bottle. It didn't involve a whole extra stop.

When we returned, one of the guests had finished and served ceviche and some homemade meat pastelitos. OMG it was all incredible...and I failed at the food porn with those. Completely forgot. I think I ate four pastelitos...I may have lost count. Whoops.

Charles and our good friend Sal. Sal and his wife Janet are also Puerto Rican. They are two of my favorite people!
Eventually dinner was served: asopao!

Asopao is a kind of homemade chicken soup, made with lots of chicken, rice or noodles, thickened broth, and usually slices of corn on the cob and/or root vegetables like potato or yucca. This one was amazing. The bread next to it isn't just any bread: it is "pan sobao", which literally means "rubbed bread". It is a soft, slightly sweet bread that you used to only be able to get in Puerto Rico because you need a special type of oven to bake it in...and is now available in some South Florida Latin American bakeries!
The much smaller Three Kings party. Note the clean plates. :)
Photobombed by Eladio, another family friend. He is also Puerto Rican. :)

Charles told me he would be right back and I noticed that Eladio also disappeared. I had a feeling I knew what was going on and I was right:

The Three Kings made an appearance. :)
And brought gifts for the little ones.
Wives of the Three Kings. ;)
I just adore this photo. It summarizes the personality of this entire family!
Those are Charles's parents on the left, his brother's wife with the youngest niece on the right, and Xavier on the far right.
The Three Kings eventually made their exit and Charles returned. People started slowly trickling out as it got closer to 8:00 pm. Xavier, who does some free lance DJ and acoustic work as a side job, brought out his speaker set and started playing salsa music. Charles and I were waiting until 9:30 pm to head to a nearby club, so we decided to warm up. Barefoot. In the grass. That's how we roll.

I really love this sequence of pics of us dancing. Courtesy of Charles's mom.

With Sal. I adore him and Janet.
Janet knew we were going to be around this weekend but had kept it a secret from Sal. When we arrived at the party, Sal was serving himself finger foods at one of the tables. I walked up to him and stood there tapping his shoulder like an annoying little kid. He was so engrossed in choosing his food that it took him a minute to look up, while I continued tapping. And when he did finally look up, his expression went from, "What the.." to surprised recognition, to an elated "Oh my GOD!!!" I got lifted off my feet in a bear hug. Love him!

Janet and Sal show off their moves dancing.
These two make any place better simply by being there.

Janet is a college professor, a breast cancer survivor (she fought the battle last year and won), and an incredible human being. 
We helped the family pick up after the party, then headed over to the nearby Cafe Iguana in Pembroke Pines. The Cafe Iguana is a club that has been around for a while: when we first moved to South FL, Xavier and his wife used to like going there for Latin dancing. We had checked the place out at the time but it looked a little sketchy so Charles and I had never really gone.

The place has come a long, long way since then: they have great reviews on Yelp, which is unheard of in South FL (I'm telling you: people there are so negative that it is hard to find positive reviews on anything. You had to adjust your expectations when looking up reviews accordingly. I would love to be making this up but it is 100% true and a thing I struggled with constantly when looking for veterinary work or our next apartment complex!) and they offer 3 dance floors with 3 different kinds of music: there is one for old school rock and hip-hop, another for Latin music, and the main dance floor which plays your more typical club (electronic) music mixed with Latin beats.

The place opens at 10:00 pm but reviewers warned about long lines so we decided to be there at 10:00 pm sharp. There were a couple of people in line already but the club was still closed...so we swung by a Starbucks next door to get coffee.

And discovered this:

Apparently this is a new thing at Starbucks in South Florida. Maybe also in other states that aren't as strict about alcohol as Maryland. *sigh* 

We still ordered coffee. And discovered latte macchiatos, which are my new favorite thing. 

We drank our coffees and headed back to the club. Still early, but now there was more of a line. Everyone was talking in Spanish and we recognized the accents of the group in front of us: they were all Puerto Rican! There is something awesome about hearing the accent of your own little island here in the US. 

The club was awesome. Cover was $10 for guys, free for ladies until midnight!

Entrance towards the dance floors.
Latin dance floor.

Main dance floor, after Charles and I had broken the ice. :)
Since it was early, the few people inside the club milled about. Charles and I explored, then sat down to wait for the music to pick up. They were playing some really fun merengue on the main floor and no one was dancing. Charles and I looked at one another and said, "Fuck it." He took my hand and we walked out onto the floor, where we were the very first ones to start dancing.

We had gone there to dance after all. And that's what we did. Who cares if we were the first ones? I never would have dared as a teenager. Sometimes it's awesome to be an adult and be over all that angst and self-consciousness.

Within a few minutes a few other couples had joined us on the floor. Before long, the place was packed.

Full main dance floor!
Charles and I danced to everything that was played: merengue, salsa, house, reggaeton. I'm more shy about dancing reggaeton and that was one of the music types that the dance floor cleared out for. Charles and I did dance, but in a far corner of the floor. In case you didn't know: reggaeton was invented by Puerto Ricans. It is a spin-off of Jamaican dancehall music that started in the late 80's and has become well-known internationally. Yes, our little island created an entire music genre. There is an entire documentary on it on Netflix that is pretty awesome (and yes, it is in English) that you can watch, called "Straight Outta Puerto Rico: Reggaeton's Rough Road to Glory."

Not surprisingly, reggaeton is danced similar to a cross between lambada and dancehall. 

No one in that club was dancing it the way you're supposed to. Other than Charles and me. And apparently we're pretty good because some dude filmed us. Whoops?

The music changed and the DJ started mixing the oddest songs together. We eventually retired to the Latin dance floor...which was also empty.

We sat down to share a bottle of water, then shrugged and again were the first on the dance floor. And again, within a few minutes other couples had joined us. 

Latin dance floor, after we broke the ice. :)
In PR, if you're the first person on the dance floor, you get a free drink at the bar. Not so in South Florida, but it was pretty cool to see a full dance floor shortly after we had broken the ice!

We danced nonstop for two hours, at which time my feet were killing me. We headed back to the in-laws'. We had another big day on Sunday!

We were allowed to sleep in while the in-laws went to mass in church that morning. Charles and I rolled out of bed after 10:00 am! We met his parents in FIL's truck after mass and followed them to Deerfield Beach, which is pretty close to where we used to live.

This used to be our exit home and to the barn off of the Turnpike.
At Burger Craze by Deerfield Beach.
They had great mojitos and the burgers were awesome!

The ocean was right there!
The whole crew.
It was overcast when we arrived but cleared up by the time we were done eating. Charles and I hung out with the friends and family that had come out with us, then stayed on our own after everyone left. We had a lovely time walking up and down the Deerfield boardwalk and I was finally able to take a plunge into the ocean to swim. The waves were perfect for bodysurfing.

You could walk the length of the pier but you had to pay.
Usually the water is icy this time of year, but not so on this day.
We took a walk down the beach in both directions while I dried off. That's a Brazilian flag over the fence on the right: big Brazilian community here.
Sand pipers!!!

Beachside bar with live music.

More incoming rain. Loved the pier lights reflected on the water!
We finally packed up and headed out at sunset. We had one more thing to do!

We were meeting up with our barn family at my favorite South Florida BBQ joint: Mississippi Sweets!

Waiting outside of the Boca Raton location. There is another one in West Palm.
These are Mississippi sweets: homemade thin-cut sweet potato chips! They are AMAZING.
From right to left: Sam, Dianne, myself, Charles, Diana in front of Charles, Mark and Sam's girlfriend.
I love love LOVE these people. They made South Florida bearable for me and were there for us through thick and thin. I could count on them for anything. I wish I had documented more about my relationships with them. Mark was my trail riding buddy and "barn uncle" as I called him; Charles would sometimes borrow his QH gelding Beau. Dianne is Mark's roommate and long-time friend. She owns the wonderful Pink Slip, an OTTB mare that I had a blast training. Diana I already told you guys about. :) Sam is Mark's main coworker. He has a Mustang...the kind with 4 tires. ;) He often tagged along and was our very own personal Jim Carrey at get-togethers. We all used to go out to dinner on Saturdays after the barn. Whenever Sam and Charles were in the same room at the same time, you could count on laughing so hard the tears would stream down your face. This time was no exception! My cheeks and abs hurt from laughing so hard after this get together. 

We hung out with Diana for a bit after everyone else took off after dinner, catching up some more, but Charles and I had to wake up early the next day for the airport so we didn't linger very long. We returned to the in-laws' to pack our belongings and go to bed early. 

We were leaving through the Miami International Airport this time, which can be kind of a clusterfuck to both get to in car and get out of plane-wise. Charles's dad made omelets for us for breakfast and we left very early at 9:30 am (our flight wasn't until 2:00 pm) so we could take a drive through South Beach before heading for the airport. 

Traffic into Miami. At 10:00 am. And then people complain about DC!

Driving into Miami

Miami Beach.
This is the background in our wedding photos.

Door to someone's secret garden in South Beach.

Ocean Drive takes you straight to the beach!

It was just under 70 degrees...and all of the outdoor heaters were on. And locals were wearing sweaters. Yup, that's cold for South Florida!
Temperature and date. And you can see me running up the sidewalk: I was headed towards the ocean!
The real South Beach.

My favorite kind of ocean is a stormy one. I stood for a while here, just staring at the waves crashing on shore.

Good-bye, my friend. Until we meet again!

En route to the airport, we stopped at the Latin American Bakery & Cafe.
Talk about Cuban bakery heaven. OMG.

This is a quesito. Quesitos are sort of a large crescent roll made with puffed pastry and stuffed with cream cheese, then covered in caramelized sugar. This was freshly baked and absolutely AMAZEBALLS.

We had coffee and quesitos at the bakery, then continued on towards the airport. The in-laws dropped us off with many good-byes and we made it through the security check in record time.

I swear this place looks different every time I go through it. It is the airport I have flown through the most and I have sort of a love-hate relationship with it.

Cafe Versailles is a big Cuban restaurant in Miami. I bought coffee and another quesito here before we were supposed to board the plane. I knew I wouldn't be getting to eat another real-deal quesito until we return to visit.
This really is so Miami. *sigh* No thank you.
I was really glad I bought that quesito despite not being hungry. The airplane ended up being detained on the runway for an hour while they fixed an "Exit" light. After we had boarded. They somehow managed to arrive in D.C. only 30 minutes late. But we arrived right in the middle of rush hour: it took two hours for the Metro to take us back to Rockville for us to pick up my car, and then it was another 45 minutes of driving before we made it home. We were beyond starving by the time we made it back to Frederick.

It was 30 degrees in Maryland when we arrived. We had a spectacular Florida visit, but it was so good to be back home!

Home sweet home: my river (the Potomac) and the blue mountains far away in the horizon.


  1. "Sometimes it's awesome to be an adult and be over all that angst and self-consciousness." #truthbomb

    Sounds like a fun visit. I'm glad I read right after stuffing my face so I didn't get hungry.

  2. Wow! What an amazing trip.

    Although I was a little jealous/hungry after the food porn it was nice to look at some beach pictures during my long Canadian winter ;)

  3. I'm gonna sing the doom song now....I saw a squirrel!

    I have to admit, I used Zim to teach English to a local kid I was tutoring. I thought what better way than to use a great animation. I'd make him watch an episode, then tell me what happened, in English. He could barely do it, but he enjoyed it, I think. And certainly has no idea what sweet strain of culture he touched.

    Thank you for the food porn, I enjoyed it. Plantain chips!>!?! Also glad you warned me to eat first.

    The fact you like draw bridges is one more reason you'll love Seattle. So Many Draw Bridges. And the nearness of the ocean, if not the closeness of the inlet that brings most of the ocean to the city. (Everything but the big waves.)

    Then again the water is 50F, so although I go in, I can't stay long.

    I'm impressed that you know a particular regional dance. I just know gothic/electronic/dark wave, I don't think that has a region. It's been too long. But whenever I happen to go to a concert here, I take my opportunity, and it all comes back. Dancing is something I can do well: )

    Feel like a trip to Europe next? It may cure you of your love of flying (10 hours transit NY to Amsterdam). But you'll get to hang out with us!: )

  4. I love your big grin and the food porn! These photos were a great break from the endless snow outside my window, too.

  5. You look so relaxed and happy in all the pictures. All vacations should be so good.

  6. Great wrap-up of what looks like an awesome vacation! I went to FL in January and there were a few brave souls in the ocean, which was not freezing but not exactly warm, either in Daytona Beach... but it was grey and overcast, too so I settled for just walking in the water. Still happy to visit Mother Ocean!