Travel

Camping for Rookies

I have been camping probably hundreds of times in my life. I would go so far as to call myself a seasoned camper. Despite all of these trips and excursions into the woods and mountains, apparently it wasn’t enough times to prevent some very rookie mistakes this last weekend.Camping for Rookies-2

My husband proposed the idea on Friday. Randomly, he recommended we go camping on the beach for one night on Saturday. It sounded like a great idea to me! I couldn’t wait to wake up to the sound of the Gulf of Mexico, play with our kite, and bury my feet in the sand. The one perk of living in South Texas may be that you can comfortably go to the beach in February.ow+9znWlQ6ysOxaBmj3Tpw

Saturday came around, we took care of some household chores, loaded up the truck, and set out for the beach and our overnight camping expedition. The last time we went camping was over New Years, so we were looking forward to disconnecting, even if it was only for the night.

Well, we hit our first road block early into the trip. We first headed to Mustang Island State Park where I read it was free to camp on the beach. A quick 20 minute drive and we were pulling up to the entrance, only to find it was closed. They are still doing clean up after Hurricane Harvey that hit the coast in August 2017. Well we quickly reassessed our situation and headed in the opposite direction to the Padre Island National Seashore. This is a National Park, and luckily since he is active duty military we get an annual pass into national parks for free-I love free. Civilians can purchase an annual pass for $70. About 30 minutes in the opposite direction and we were in the park, our spot scouted on the beach, and we were setting up camp for the night.

Cue snag number 2. I started cooking dinner. Grilled chicken and a salad were on the menu. I immediately realized I didn’t have any aluminum foil to cover the chicken in the pan. Not a big deal, but it would’ve helped the chicken to cook a bit faster, especially since it was incredibly windy. Ten minutes into cooking and I noticed the flame was out on our stove. Fabulous. I thought it was due to the wind, but it was due to the butane fuel can being empty. No biggie, we have a spare in our kitchen gear. Not a full can though. It was about 3/4 empty. So five minutes into trying to cook with that can, and we were completely out of fuel. As a last ditch effort to salvage the protein for our dinner, we put the pan on the campfire. It turns out, cooking on the beach over a campfire, on a windy night, and no cover for your pan, will only lead to your food being completely covered in an extraordinary amount of sand. Making it inedible.

Snag number 3. We have a rooftop tent. This completely genius invention is a tent that can be mounted on- you guessed it- your roof! It is a GAMECHANGER! It’s probably a million times more comfortable than a ground tent, and takes about 30 seconds to set up.

Check it out:IMG_0634

Typically we keep our sleeping bags and pillows in the tent. Everything folds up so nicely and conveniently! Well, as I mentioned before, we went camping over New Years. Since our trip was about four nights long, our linens were due for a wash. In our haste, we remembered to get the sleeping bags from the linen closet, but not the pillows. Balling up a thin hoodie to serve as a replacement pillow is not ideal.

Overall this trip, while it could’ve been better, was still a great time. We learned that we definitely need to not get complacent with our camping prep and just assume we have everything we need in our pre-packed gear. We also learned that the trip is about being together, even in unideal circumstances. And we learned that sandy chicken is gross. I don’t care. I still got to wake up to the sounds of the waves from the Gulf of Mexico crashing onto the beach, just feet from where I was sleeping. YrssAQyUSF2Q0UY+%FzneQ

 

Travel

100 Travel Destinations

Today is the 100th day of school. I work in an elementary school, and the 100th day is kind of a big deal. Kids and teachers dress up… students complete themed activites based on the day… there may or may not be a parade for the students to show off their 100 day apparel, arts and crafts. It’s so cute! It also got me thinking, why do they get all the fun? Why not use this opportunity to take a 100-themed idea and put my favorite spin on it? Travel. So, what are the 100 places I’d like to travel before I’m 100?100 travel destinations before you're 100-2

In no particular order:

28 Destinations in the United Statestravel destinations in the US-9

24 Destinations in Europetravel destinations in Europe

20 Destinations in Asiatravel destinations in Asia

19 Destinations in AmericaTravel destinations in America

9 Destinations in Africa, Antarctica, and OceanaTravel destinations in the world

Whew! There are definitley a lot of places on my list. Just a few more than my typical 5. I literally cannot wait to start checking some of these off in the very near future. In fact, I’m getting ready to take a road trip in March that will take me through 4 states in the USA that I’ve never been to.

Are any of these places on your list? I thought it would be hard to come up with 100, but it was actually hard to narrow it down to ONLY 100!

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Travel

Seattle Bound

2017 was full of traveling and experiencing new places for me. Everytime I start to write about a destination I went to, I find myself beginning to say, “This was one of my favorite places I’ve ever traveled”. And it’s true every.single.time.

I fall in love with every location. If I’m only there for a short time, I leave hungry for more. If I’m lucky enough to have a longer stay, I fall deeper in love, every day.Seattle Bound..png

The same is true for when I went to Seattle, Washington in June of 2017. I traveled with my husband from Houston, Texas to visit his brother and boyfriend for a whole week. I had high expectations for Seattle after binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, and it definitely delivered. The views, the diverse culture, the weather. I loved it all. Shall we review?

  1. Transportation
    • Spirit Airlines
      • Spirit Airlines is a budget airline that sometimes gets bad reviews from certain travelers. I was hesitant to book our flights with this airline because of some of the reviews I read online. I’m so glad I listened to my wallet instead of the internet. As a very frugal (aka cheap) shopper, I was persuaded by the hundreds of dollars worth of savings Spirit offered compared to the next cheapest flight from Houston to Seattle. We paid just over $200/each roundtrip. This included selecting our seats in the emergency exit row and checking one bag.
      • I have zero complaints and only compliments to share about Spirit Airlines. Even though the seat did not recline (not a big deal to me), I thought the seats were comparable in size to any other airline I have traveled on. Our seats were in the emergency exit row, so we did have more leg space than average, but I’ve sat in their regular seats before and still had leg space for my 5’6″ plus size frame. There were no snacks provided, so I just packed our own from home, no biggie. The flight attendents were friendly, comical, and again-comparable to any other airline. I’ll take the cash savings over a small bag of pretzels any day.
  2. Foooooooooooooooooooood
    • Aladdin Gyro-cery & Deli located at 4143 University Way NE near Washington University has amazing Middle Eastern food. Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 8.00.06 PM.png
    • We did get seafood while we were in Seattle. It was good. I must apologize, I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant we ate at.
    • GINGER BEER! It was good! It was fun! Get you some! IMG_0608
    • We also had icecream, turkish delight, and delicious cinnamon orange tea at Pike Place Market. I highly recommend it all! We also saw them throw a fish in the market, but I wasn’t fast enough to get photo or video evidence.
  3. Must-sees in the city
    • Everything. We went up in the Ferris Wheel down by the pier. We also walked down a bit to an overlook over the city in the same area as the Ferris Wheel.
    • Quirky things like the gum wall by Pike Place Market, and doing the underground tour are tons of fun. Did you know Seattle was built on top of itself? And you can thank a prostitute for the city’s survival?!
    • More quirky things like a troll built under a bridge and this novel abandoned manufacturing plant near Kite Hill.

    • Who doesn’t love a science museum with an awesome playground nearby?
  4. Must-sees outside of the city
    • Ferry rides are a compulsory activity of course. IMG_0459
    • Stop to learn about the Native culturesIMG_0474
    • From the beaches to the mountains. The views are to die for.

    • And venture outdoors to hike to a waterfall.

  5. Saved for Future Visits
    • We saw and did so much in the week we were in Seattle, and barely skimmed the surface on what this city and surrounding area has to offer. I would love to do more hikes to see the beautiful and amazing outdoors. Eat more food, see more shops, just get lost in all the streets. I wish I could be more specific, but there’s just so much there, I don’t even know where to begin but everywhere. I can only hope we’re lucky enough to return in the future.

Have you ever been to Washington? Do you have any recommendations on where to go or what to do?

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Military

The One Item you Cannot Live Without: Your Military ID

This post was originally published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them. Military ID-2

You meet the love of your life. You fall in love and promise to stay together forever. Now it’s time for logistics. Your Military ID.

There is not much you can do without your Military ID. You will need it to gain access to the military base without your significant other. You will need it to shop at the Exchange or Commissary. You will need it to enroll/use Tricare, which are your medical benefits. You will need it to gain access to any and all entitlements or discounts you may be eligible for as a family member to a service member. For all of these reasons, and more, you need to make obtaining your Military ID a priority.

How do you do it? Follow the steps detailed below:

  • The first thing that needs to happen is you will be enrolled in DEERS using form DD Form 1172-2. This can be done one of 4 ways.
    • Your sponsor can use their CAC card to submit your information via the RAPIDS self-service portal. (This is a website accessible via the Department of Defense (DOD) website)
    • Your sponsor can sign into the RAPIDS self-service portal using their login information.
    • Your sponsor can fill out a paper form and have it notarized.
    • You can use your power of attorney to complete the form in your sponsor’s place.
  • You will need to provide documentation of your relationship to your sponsor to prove eligibility. This is your marriage certificate and your birth certificate.
  • You will need to provide two forms of identification. Refer to the list of acceptable forms of identification.

Pin the graphic below for an easy reference guide:How To Obtain your military ID

This information was pulled directly from http://www.cac.mil/docs/required_docs.pdf .

Military ID’s aren’t all business and no fun though!

You can use your Military ID to access great resources such as the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR). Depending on your location, this could include access to a movie theater, bowling alley, video games, party rentals, kayaks, sailboats, or even couples getaways. Our last duty station offered a couples retreat to do a local high ropes course! You can also utilize your Child Development Center (CDC) for child care (check with your center for availability), and shop at the commissary and Exchange for tax free shopping. There are a lot of benefits to obtaining your military ID, so try not to procrastinate!

If you have special circumstances or additional questions, be sure to click on the link referenced above and refer to additional information there. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to your ID office on base or your service member’s command.