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take me away

10 Years, 10 Friends, 10 Days: The Mothership

By | friends, guest posts, las vegas, links, memories, milestones, road trips, take me away, the malibu, the places you'll go, travel, what have you been doing for the last 10 years? | One Comment

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Guest post #4 is by my mom. I’m glad she took a little while to elaborate on the series of brief posts I wrote about our cross-country drives back in 2004 because it was the perfect opportunity to post a few more photos from back in the day when blogging pictures was pretty much nonexistent. =) Also, “Blinded by the light.” That is all.

My guest post is about a series of blog posts that Lisa made during January 2004 and April 2004. As I looked over Lisa’s blog, it occurred to me that the posts I should share are those that involved our travels. I love to travel and I hope I passed a little of that gene on to Lisa.

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In January 2004, Lisa decided she would move to Vegas to live with my brother, Frank, his wife, Kim, and their four kids (the little cousins). Of course, she would need her car, so the only way to get there was to drive. One small problem…Lisa didn’t want to drive alone. This began our cross country adventure.

NJ to Las Vegas — Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 (February 2004)

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We decided we would take Route 40, so we set off making our first stop Blacksburg, VA, to meet up with a few of Lisa’s sorority sisters. We spent five days together encountering rain, snow and fog; we discovered Graceland is closed on Tuesdays and hiked down a canyon in Arizona.

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We shopped for western boots in Texas and travelled a bit of the famous Route 66, stopping at a car museum along the way. Watching the tumbleweeds occupied a lot of our day in New Mexico and Arizona, and finally, we drove over Hoover Dam – a sure sign that we were almost there.

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As it turned out, Lisa spent three months in Las Vegas and said it was time to come home. You know what that meant. Mommy had to drive Lisa and the Malibu back to Jersey.

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Las Vegas to NJ — Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5 (April 2004)

Being one to take every advantage of a situation, I decided we would take a more northern route this time. It was spring so most of the snow in Colorado should be melted. We headed up to Utah and into Colorado. We made our first stop in Vail at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. The next day we set out for Pike’s Peak to ride the cog railroad, but the car was having a lot of trouble getting out of its own way at 9,000 feet. We were sure the Malibu was in need of repairs. We departed Vail and while we were doing 45 MPH down the highway, we watched the signs tick off the altitude telling us we were descending to a more oxygen rich atmosphere. We were so happy that the Malibu had enough oxygen to continue our journey.

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Driving along Route 70 in Kansas at night, we hit a piece of truck tire which prompted us to pull into the next gas station and check for leaks under the car. Back on the highway, a huge tumbleweed crossecd the highway and I was sure it was a cow! It was time to stop for the night. We made a short stop in St. Louis to ride the tram to the top of the Arch and took a boat ride on the Mississippi River.
I’m so glad Lisa took the time to document our travels every night. I just read each day’s account and it brought back all those memories.

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Although I have spent more wonderful days with Lisa than I can count, I would have to say that these ten days were among some of my favorites. I’m glad were able to zigzag through some of this country’s beautiful states together!

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Keep travelling, Lisa! It makes for wonderful blog posts! Congratulations on keeping us laughing for ten years! I love you!

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The Road Less Traveled

By | bethany beach, boats, delaware, dewey beach, life's a beach, lifestyle, music, road trips, summer, take me away, the places you'll go, travel | One Comment

I’ve been making the same trek up and down the Eastern Shore for going on nine years now (not to mention all the times my parents drove us up and down that route when I was a kid), and sometimes the drive gets a little redundant. Certain trips stand out more than others — crazy thunderstorms, timing the sunset perfectly at the bridge, a decent soundtrack — but rarely do I ever experience anything new on these little jaunts up and down the coast from VB to NJ and back. Lately, I’ve been taking the ferry (even though it takes a little longer) to break up the monotonous drive. It’s always the same old corn fields, farmer’s markets, run down abandoned houses, and gas station bathrooms.

But this time was a little different.

Of course, I was excited — I’ve got a whole week to relax by my parents’ pool up here, shop my face off, and enjoy the beautiful weather — but as usual, there was a six-hour drive in my way. I managed to snag a 7:45 reservation on the ferry out of Lewes, DE, which brightened my outlook a little — a sunset cruise to NJ for me and my Hyundai Tuscon.

I managed to escape work and VB a little earlier than anticipated, over and under the Chesapeake Bay and well on my way up the Delmarva Peninsula before rush hour*. (*That was sarcasm. There is no rush hour on the Eastern Shore. Only traffic lights.) I had plugged the route to Cape Henlopen Drive into my phone for directions (I still haven’t quite memorized the ferry route because I’ve traditionally gone the way of the Delaware Memorial Bridge), and when I stopped for coffee at the 13/113 fork, I noticed my ETA was well ahead of schedule. So, as I sipped on an icy sweet Dunkin’ decaf, I made the evening-altering decision to re-route and take the long way.

Now, you know me. I typically either refer to Delaware in one of two ways: (1) I think I’m so witty when I rhyme “The First State” with “The Worst State” or (2) I say, “[Whatever weird thing just happened on my drive] and Delaware is in my way.” It’s not that I have anything against Delaware as a state. I’ve just never had any reason to stop there, and so to me, it poses a geographical problem because it takes me two hours to drive through there, and I find it quite boring. (If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, look at a map of Delaware. It’s kind of long and skinny. And there’s not much going on there as far as scenery.)

Anyway, I sat in my car in the sweltering heat, condensation from the air conditioning dripping on my toe, and reviewed the re-routed directions. “Oh, Lighthouse Road?” I said out loud to myself. “That sounds promising. Sold.”

I turned east off the highway about 10 miles sooner than I normally would have. I rolled back the sunroof, put down the windows, and for close to an hour, I wound my way through these beautiful farms and corn fields, over picturesque creeks, and past signs advertising “New Construction: Beach Country Homes.” I could tell I was approaching the beach when the soil turned sandy, and pine trees towered above. The houses on either side of me stood on stilts, so I craned my neck looking for water or beaches, but for another 10 minutes I saw nothing. I made a right onto Garfield Highway, and a sign welcomed me to Bethany Beach. A giant totem pole and a little downtown area lie straight ahead, and then the beach.

I banked left onto Coastal Highway, still making my way north towards the ferry terminal. On my left stood beautiful beach houses in gated communities, glowing in the sun, which had just begun to turn golden over the Indian River Bay. Gorgeous. A bridge took me over an inlet, and then I was driving through Delaware Seashore State Park on a narrow spit of land bordered by sand dunes to the east and Rehoboth Bay to the west. A sign informed me “Turtles Crossing the Road Next 3 Miles”. Kite surfers skimmed the surface of the glittering water to my left. Then I coasted into Dewey Beach, where a mix of sun-kissed beachgoers littered the streets — some just coming off the sand and some freshly showered and dressed for dinner.

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “Parts of Delaware are awesome. Who knew?”

About 45 minutes later, I was boarding the ferry. I believe the Cape May-Lewes Ferry runs a fleet of three ships, and I never realized I’d only ever been on two of them before Friday night. As I stepped aboard the M/V Delaware, I was informed there was a bar(?) and a live band(?) on the top deck? What? Okay. Amazing. As we pushed away from the dock, I sat at the bar, amongst lots of friendly people, sipped an ice cold root beer (two hours left to drive after this), and watched the sun go down as the band struck up the first few chords of “Margaritaville.” Best. Ferry ride. Ever. 🙂

After I slurped down the last of my root beer, I moved to the front of the boat, where I found some lovely wooden lounge chairs, and settled in for a relaxing 40 minutes of reading (Red Right Return by John H. Cunningham borrowed from Amazon Prime on my Kindle). The moon glowed overhead and a warm breeze kept my bangs out of my face for a little while. 🙂

Two hours up the Parkway, and I had finally arrived at my destination. A bit more time in-transit than usual, but totally worth it.

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? =)

NJ Trip #1

By | life's a beach, lifestyle, new jersey, road trips, summer, take me away, the places you'll go, travel | 3 Comments

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Now that my first little string of vacations has ended, I’ve finally got some time to post about them. =) You already know I kicked off New Jersey Trip #1 with Suttonpalooza, so this pretty much sums up the rest.

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I made it a point to enjoy a few breakfasts featuring pork roll (a Jersey staple) at Amy’s Omelette House (above) and a little bakery/cafe in Atlantic Highlands (below).

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I spent lots of sunny, relaxing hours at the pool with my favorite magazines and my mom and dad.

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I wore a nautical dress (first photo of this post) to an impromptu rendezvous with my parents and their friends at the new 9th Ave Pier in Belmar.

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I spent an evening chasing the sunset around the marina in search of the perfect shot.

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My mom and I paid a morning visit to the Twin Lights

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…followed by an afternoon in the city…

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…where we ducked into La Maison du Chocolat to avoid a drizzle and split an eclair between shops on Madison Avenue…

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…and then indulged in just a few pastries more at Ferrara after dining al fresco in Little Italy.

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I sought some late afternoon shade in the old Casino with my best friend and her little girls on the boardwalk in Asbury Park.

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I picked up a few treasures along the way  — a classic striped top (St. James), madras shorts (Cape Madras via Brave New World), Saltwater Soap (Saipua via Warm), and starfish earrings from a boutique on the boardwalk. I bought my friend Tina a matching pair, too. =)

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I met my mom for lunch on the boards before I left to drive home. Nothing beats a cold Diet Coke in a shiny red cup on a sizzling afternoon.

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I raced the sunset down to the bridge. It was nothing short of perfect timing as I (literally) swerved off the road at the CBBT scenic overlook and launched myself out of the car to snap this shot just as the sun was dipping below the horizon.

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I stopped to revel in the last 20 minutes of my trip. After the sun went down, I rolled down the windows, sat back in the driver’s seat, stared out over the bay, and savored a cup of she-crab soup I picked up from The Great Machipongo Clam Shack.

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Vacation Season

By | take me away, the places you'll go, travel | 4 Comments

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It feels like I haven’t had much time off work in forever because I’ve been banking my vacation days for the last six months. Now there’s only about an hour left until I kick off a series of day trips, long weekends and vacations I’ve got planned for the second half of the year.

Today, I’ll be spending the afternoon and evening in the Outer Banks photographing my friend Hilary and her family, and even though it’ll only be a few hours, it’s a day trip I’ve been looking forward to for months.

Friday marks the first of my annual back-to-back trips to New Jersey, and I’ll be headed north for a week-long visit with my parents, my friend Stacey’s 30th birthday, and maybe even a whirlwind two-day road trip through New England with my mom.

New Jersey trip #2 is scheduled for the first weekend in August. J and I will drive up to hang out with my parents for my mom’s birthday weekend. We’ve got plans to see a play in NYC and tickets to see Jimmy Buffett in Atlantic City.

In mid-August, I’ll be flying down to Pensacola to see my brother’s “A” School graduation at Corry Station. Afterwards, my family and I will be spending the weekend at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel, which I’m assuming will involve lots of tequila, salt, and sunscreen. =)

September is off-limits as far as vacation days are concerned (because it’s the end of the Federal government’s fiscal year), but I’m hoping to squeeze in at least one overnight weekend trip to the Outer Banks while the weather is still nice.

J and I have a trip to Las Vegas in the works for October. We’ve got tickets (and amazing seats) to see Jimmy Buffett at the MGM Grand, and obviously, we’ll be staying at the Flamingo — home to the Margaritaville Casino. I’ve got high hopes for some quality pool time, shopping, dancing, dining, gambling and of course, winning lots of money while we’re there.

I’ll be flying to the Dominican Republic in November, where I’ll be photographing a friend’s wedding at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana. My mom is going to join me down there, and we’ll be spending five days at the resort. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since January — it’s the first contract I signed after starting my business, and I’m so excited for it to finally happen!

And…that brings us back to Thanksgiving and Christmas, which (as usual) means a few more trips to New Jersey.

It wasn’t easy making it through the first half of this year with only two days off, but somehow getting the next six months’ vacations down in writing makes it all seem worth it. =)

How about you? Got any exciting trips vacations planned for the rest of this year? I’d love to know where you’re going! Or, if you’ve been to any of the places I’m going, let me know if you have any recommendations for things to do and see!