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10 Years, 10 Friends, 10 Days: The Inspiration

By | blogs, boys, guest posts, links, lj, memories, milestones, navy, ruling at life, what have you been doing for the last 10 years? | One Comment

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Inspiration
Ten years on

By Stephen DeNoia

The Coastal Chicster.  Baby You Can(‘t) Drive My Car.  Ramblings of a Pineapple Enthusiast. VTJerseyGirl03.  Ten years on, Lisa’s blog is still thriving, still rolling, still scrolling.  Maybe she should get that tattooed across the backs of her shoulders: “Still Rolling, Still Scrolling”, with like an old script, quill, and scroll motif.  On second thought, it might sound like she’s just an internet addicted ecstasy popper.

Lisa asked me to pick my favorite post from her blog and write about it in honor of her 10 year mark.  I was honored, and the very next morning I started perusing through her old stuff because I  knew I would find my favorite buried somewhere in the archives of ’04 or ’07.  But the more I read, and the more memories got conjured up, and the more I noticed the maturity level increase as time went on what I found is that I cannot possibly choose a favorite.  With that being said, if I absolutely had to choose ONE post that is my favorite then I choose post number 1.  The origin post.  The beginning of an era.  The birth of something magnificent, with a title that speaks wonders to me:  “Stephen inspires me…”  It isn’t a long post.  It isn’t deep.  It doesn’t provoke any reader inward into their own thoughts and feelings.  It isn’t even very long.  Four sentences to be exact.  And they are by no means the four favorite sentences I’ve ever seen her write.  The title on the other hand – that’s what gets me.  It gets me every time.  See if you can follow me as I explain my reasoning.

You see, here we have a blog that has made us laugh when we needed to, or stop and think about the state of the country – or even the world – just when we were so content with our everyday lives.  This blog has even moved some of us to tears, happy or sad.  In 10 years, Lisa has gained a strong following and matured into an artful, witty, and talented writer.  Her blog has transformed – no, evolved into an amalgamation of fashion advice, easy living tips, and funny anecdotes all blanketed underneath a healthy coat of plain old good sense.

These days I like to read about her New Year’s resolution updates the most, but I also take a lot of pleasure out of reading about her cats and trips/vacations.  She has also developed quite a knack for photography and the pictures she takes are always worth the extra look.  Even her fashion posts hold some value to me.  As a guy who is engaged to be married, it isn’t the most terrible idea to keep up on women’s fashion.  To be honest, I think my fiancé may have been somewhat impressed with a few things I knew about the subject when we first started dating, all taken from Lisa’s pages.  (Thanks, Sis, ever the trusty wingman!)  Maybe she’ll start doing a few pieces for the guys.

There’s also plenty of fond memories, like the time she came home a little too tipsy for her own good from Bar A and a trip to the Princess Maria Diner, and proceeded to sing Manfred Mann’s version of “Blinded By The Light” as she fell out of her chair, laughing hysterically about how she was “gonna have to write about this in the – hiccup! – the morning!”  I don’t think she ever did get around to it though.  Or the time she accompanied my parents down to Pensacola to visit me after graduation from A-School.  We spent the weekend buzzed on the beach or poolside at the Margaritaville Hotel.  Lisa has always been one of the best people to share a drink with.  Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes she knows how to relax just right.

Maybe it’s just that I had the chance to be a part of something special, with those late night phone calls about the future of the blog.  But more likely I think that it’s this:  This blog has inspired me.  From tracking Lisa’s employment status during those shaky years in ’03 and ’04, to keeping up with her New Years’ resolutions, I have found myself striving for new heights when I needed to the most.  I don’t think I ever told her just how much her blog meant to me, but it’s something I look forward to reading for a long time coming, no matter what she’s writing about.  So to think that I was able to inspire her, even if it was just that one time, is really something else.  Thanks, Lisa.  Keep “ruling at life.”  Here’s to 10 years past, and 10 more to come.

Feeling:  happyHappy
Music:  All Along the Watchtower- Jimi Hendrix

Pensacola Flashback

By | boat drinks, catch a wave, florida, food, life's a beach, lifestyle, memories, navy, pensacola, pineapples and palm trees, ruling at life, summer, take me away, the places you'll go, travel | 2 Comments

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What with Friday being National Margarita Day and all, I couldn’t help but take some time to finally go through my photos from last summer’s stay with my family at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel. I treated myself to first class seats on the two flights down (totally worth it), and set myself up for the most relaxing weekend I remember having all year. The real reason for our little reunion in Pensacola was to see my brother graduate A-School at Corry Station, but I’m not gonna lie — the salty, sandy days that followed were the highlight of our trip.

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Stephen’s graduation ceremony was early enough in the morning that we were able to spend a few hours exploring the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Pensacola Lighthouse before heading down to Pensacola Beach for a weekend of fun in the sun.

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Pensacola Beach is situated on the barrier island of Santa Rosa. It’s bordered to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by the Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay, and to the east and west by Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge Jimmy Buffett fan, so there was no question about where we were going to stay. The Margaritaville Beach Hotel is gorgeous — stately, even. The decor is inspired by a combination of Jimmy’s music and the ocean, and the overall effect is unquestionably elegant.

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The rooms were decorated in hues of blues, teals and greens, and the bed was the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept on. Our balcony offered us a view of the turquoise Gulf and the softest, whitest sand I have ever seen.

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Once we unpacked, we immediately headed down to the beach for relaxing, relaxing, and more relaxing.

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I lost track of time in a hammock strung between two palm trees on the sand, which was, quite possibly, the best place I have ever spaced out.

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I collected seashells at the water’s edge — something I haven’t done in years.

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I spent an afternoon soaking up the shade on a teak lounger under an umbrella, reading my favorite magazines and catching up with my brother.

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And then I indulged in an oh-so-refreshing shower and these lovely Tocca products, compliments of the resort.

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There was also drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Margaritas by the pool…

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Mimosas at breakfast…

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Landshark in the water…

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Mudslides on the beach…

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Champagne with dinner…

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Boat drinks with my dad…

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A little water to recover…

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And, cheers. =) I think you get the point.

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Then there were the Gulf shrimp. So delicious. I think I ate shrimp with every meal I had in Pensacola.

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Colossal Shrimp Cocktail (above) and Wild American Shrimp & Grits (below) @ The Grand Marlin. The shrimp cocktail is self-explanatory, but the Wild American Shrimp & Grits consisted of chipotle seared shrimp and local boursin cheese grits surrounded by an andouille sausage tomato stew. Amazing with a bit of a kick to it.

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Lava Lava Shrimp @ Frank & Lola Love Pensacola Café. Shrimp breaded and fried then tossed with an Asian aioli sauce. So good.

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World Famous Grits À Ya Ya @ The Fish House. Spiced Gulf jumbo shrimp top a sauté of spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon, garlic, shallots,and cream over a heaping bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits. Incredible.

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Our balcony was the perfect place to watch a storm roll in…

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…and roll out. (After a quick nap.)

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We spent a drizzly evening walking along the Portofino Boardwalk. It was a bit deserted because of the weather, but seemed like it would have been bustling on a nicer night.

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After we checked out Sunday morning, we drove east (or maybe that was west?) through the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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Despite the clouds and kicked-up breeze, it was actually a beautiful, warm day.

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We spent about an hour walking along an empty expanse of soft, white sand with hardly anyone else in sight.

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We snapped a bunch of photos here as our weekend on the Gulf drew to a close.

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These three particular shots (below) are a reminder that these pictures don’t even do it justice. =)

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There wasn’t anyone around to take a photo of the four of us, so I Photoshopped my brother and I into a photo of my parents (below) to give to my mom for Christmas. =)

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And that’s about it. Perfect long weekend.

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Hey, Dad…can we go back? Like tomorrow? =)

Oh, Say Can You See

By | airplanes/airports, concerts, events, jet noise, life's a beach, navy, partying like a rock star, virginia beach | 3 Comments

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Last weekend, Virginia Beach launched 2012’s series of summer events with the Patriotic Festival — a three-day celebration of our nation’s military featuring concerts on the beach, vendors along the boardwalk, and air shows over the Atlantic Ocean.

Last weekend was nothing short of amazing. I’ve seen air shows before, but never two days in a row over the ocean. =) On Saturday, I managed to finagle an invite from Heather to Sky Bar, which had to have been one of the best vantage points for snapping photos of the Blue Angels as they soared south past the Hilton towards the demonstration area over and over during their performance. Saturday night, J and I leisurely walked up and down the boardwalk, dodging the occasional rain drop and listening to the sounds of Steel Pulse coming from the stage on the sand at 5th Street. Sunday was another perfect beach day, and we biked to the Oceanfront to watch the Blue Angels again — this time at the water’s edge.

This year’s Patriotic Festival also kicked off 12 days of OpSail 2012 Virginia, which coincides this weekend with Norfolk’s annual Harborfest and the bicentennial of the War of 1812. I told you it was going to be a busy summer. =)

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Hello, Chicago.

By | holiday fun, navy, ruling at life, take me away, travel | 2 Comments

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If you ever get the chance to visit Chicago, I say go for it. There’s lots to see and do — museums, architecture, shopping, and about a million restaurants and bars. Around Christmastime, Michigan Avenue seems like the laid back little cousin of NYC — chilly, festive, and lit up with the occasional flurry, but with wider sidewalks, less traffic, and much less risk of getting run down by a taxicab. Chicago seems a bit less expensive than most other big cities I’ve been to, and I’d be willing to bet there’s a ton of fun things to do there when the weather’s a bit warmer, too. The pizza’s excellent, and there’s not a bad steak within 60 miles. Oh, and that shiny bean sculpture at Millennium Park is pretty awesome, too. =)

I’ve been dying for a relaxing vacation, and while this wasn’t quite relaxing, it was certainly a fun, action-packed week full of some of my favorite things — hot coffee, taking pictures, long walks around the city, layers upon layers of plaid, cozy sweaters, sailors wearing those awesome white hats, and lots of shopping. The real reason for our trip was my brother’s Navy Boot Camp graduation, so congrats to Stephen, whose next stop is Pensacola for a year. Looks like I’ve got at least one excuse to get myself down to the Margaritaville Beach Hotel this spring..and I can finally squeeze in that relaxing vacation I’ve been waiting for. =)

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