Travel

Southcentral USA Roadtrip-Part 1

 

The day had arrived for me to depart Corpus Christi, Texas and embark on my road trip/move back to Florida. But before I could leave the middle of the country, I needed to spend some time exploring. Texas is a mammoth of a state. It’s larger than a number of countries. To break up the drive I decided to travel halfway through the state to Waco, Texas.IMG_5041

Waco has become a bit famous because of the home makeover show Fixer Upper. TV personalities/house flippers (I guess now they’re really business moguls) Chip and Joanna Gaines have established quite the establishment in Waco that I really wanted to see. Between this and a Mammoth National Monument I found, I wasn’t sure what else Waco had to offer, but there was only one way to find out. Go there and see!

5 Things to Love About Waco

 

  1. The Silos

I arrived in Waco right around lunchtime. As I drove towards the Silos the sidewalks were packed with people all heading to the same destination. It was Mother’s Day weekend here in the states, so I think that played a role on the busyness.

The Silos were quite a sight to be seen. I’ve seen silos before, but they’re still quite impressive close up. Of course upon arrival you must take photos of these galant giants and appreciate everything laid out before you. There’s a bakery, food trucks, shop, large area for yard games, tables for eating, areas for taking photos. A lot of thought and planning has been put in to develop a place for community.

The line for the bakery literally wrapped around the building and down the street, so I took that as a sign to stick to my diet.

The shop has tons of home decor items and also merchandise such as shirts, hats, books, and more for the Fixer/Upper fan.

The food trucks offered a variety of choices from pizza, tacos, sweet tea, crepes, juices, Mac and cheese, the list goes on and on and is making my stomach grumble just writing about it. All that uppity talk in my mind about sticking to my diet didn’t last long and I splurged for some very delicious mac and cheese.

So after a long morning of driving, I explored the Silos for about an hour, ate lunch, bought a souvenir for my sister, and headed out to meet some mammoths.

2. Mammoth National Monument

I loved this! It may be the teacher in me, but I loved learning about the mammoths that roamed Texas once upon a time. And also being able to see actual fossils and the archaeological dig site still in place where they were found. It cost me $4 and it was worth every cent and more. The tour guide was very humorous and informed. 4/5 dentists would recommend.

3. Downtown Waco

I love some street art. Waco unexpectedly has some!

It makes me want to go back to find more!

4. Shopping, Restaurants, and Views

I went to Waco with the expectation of only finding the Silos and the Mammoth Monument. It has so much more to offer. I could’ve easily spent another day there exploring. There were many more shops and restaurants within walking distance downtown and there’s even a trolley you can take around. I wish I had been more prepared! I suppose I’ll have to venture back one day to see and do more!

5. Lake Whitney

Alas, it was time to set up camp and rest my head. A short drive from Waco is Lake Whitney. This Lake has multiple camping options that range from paid to free! Sign me up for the free! It’s first come, first serve so I didn’t want to arrive too late and have to pay for a campsite. The first nook I looked down was all taken, but I lucked out at the next section and scored a spot right across from a boat dock, portapotty, and on the lake.

This was a great start to my road trip and I couldn’t wait to see what Oklahoma would hold for me next.

Travel

Texas Countdown and the Rodeo

I have about forty days left of living in Texas now. When we first received the news that we would be moving to Florida, but I made the decision to stay in Texas a couple extra months to complete the school year, I knew I wanted to make the most of the time I had left. I have not been impressed with living in Corpus Christi that much, but I knew there had to be so much I was missing in such a giant state like Texas. Also, so many people LOVE Texas, so I knew I needed to explore more to see what all the hype was about.

I came up with the following list so I could have multiple “Texas” experiences, while also being budget-conscious. Texas Bucketlist

  1. Texas Rodeo
  2. Enchanted Rock
  3. Austin
  4. Hamilton Pool
  5. Rivertubing the Guadelupe River

Since making this list, I’ve completed two items. You can read about Enchanted Rock by clicking on the link above.

The second event I have checked off my list is the Texas Rodeo. I was invited by a good friend to attend the Tejas Rodeo located in Bulverde, Texas. Bulverde is just north of San Antonio, and it was definitely worth the drive from Corpus for this very Texas experience.  IMG_4163

From start to finish, the rodeo was a great time! It was $10 for each adult, children were free. They also offered food and drinks for purchase. Seating was metal bleachers surrounding a large arena where all the fun took place. VD7aQApWSdSYVR8xKfNd6w

We saw men and women compete in bullriding, roping, mutton bustin’, and barrel racing. I wasn’t a fan of the roping part of the show, but I LOVED the mutton bustin’. Are you familiar with this fantastic show? They tie small children to sheep as they attempt to cling on to sheep. This is to mimic bullriding for kids. You have not lived until you’ve seen a 4-7 year old on the back of sheep trying not to fall off. It really made my night.

I definitely think I would have warmed up to Texas sooner if I had this experience a year ago. I wish Corpus had a weekly rodeo like Bulverde! I’m also pleased my cowboy boots finally got some use. Stay tuned for future posts as I complete my Texas Bucketlist!Texas Rodeo Tejas Rodeo.png

Travel

Texas Car Camping Part 3

I’ve fallen in love… and not with my husband.

I have found a new love in car camping and hiking. The simplicity of the experience and freedom it allows me is everything I didn’t know I was missing.

I told you how I prepared for my trip in my post Solo Car Camping. I told you about the first night in my post Texas Car Camping and my second day in my post Texas Car Camping Part Two. Now I’ll detail my third and final day of my weekend away.

As the sun began to rise Saturday morning I was feeling all sorts of things.

  1. I felt a stiffness in my shoulder that I wasn’t sure if it came from sleeping on it wrong or if it was from climbing in and out of the cave the previous day.
  2. I felt the four blisters on my right foot and the one on my left from hiking 13 miles in new shoes.
  3. I felt excited to move on to Enchanted Rock State Nature Area where I would hike to the summit of a massive pink granite dome.
  4. I felt a little gross and dirty from not showering for a few days. Thank goodness for dry shampoo and baby wipes.
  5. I felt disappointed this would be my last day of my adventure and I would have to return to work on Monday.

All of these feelings energized me for the day ahead. I hit the road by 7:45am to drive the 1.25 hours to my destination. I arrived 30 minutes after their opening time of 8:30 to this sight: About 50 cars lined up on the side of the road trying to enter the park. I underestimated the number of people who would be interested in hiking and this fantastic natural location so early in the morning. Watching every car briefly stop to talk to the park rangers lined up at the entrance only to either continue on down the road or u-turn and head in the opposite direction, I finally got to the front of the line. They already reached their max capacity for the morning, but I was offered a voucher that guaranteed admittance at 1pm when they reopened.

With a little over 3 hours to kill, I fortunately had many options to occupy my time before I would be able to return to the park. I decided to travel the 17 miles to Fredericksburg, TX. What a fantastic town! This destination is known for its German immigrant culture mixed with Texas pride. There are tons of shops, restaurants, wineries and entertainment to keep you occupied for days! The town was bursting with activity and tourists participating in egg hunts, shopping and sight seeing since it was Easter weekend.

I’m not really much for large crowds or spending money so I did some quick research and found a nearby wildflower farm that was free to visit. Sign me up! Wildseed Farms was perfect! You can’t help but admire all the Texas Bluebonnets lining the roads as you travel through Texas, and to have a location with acres of them growing in on place was absolutely gorgeous. They have a shop, winery, an event venue, cafe, and of course the fields. If you’re in the area, you really need to make it a priority to stop.

As the time drew closer to 1pm, it was time to head back to Enchanted Rock.

It was worth the wait.

My intentions were to hike to the top of the dome and then complete a loop around the base of the mountain as well. You can see the trail map here. The climb to the top was tough, but doable. My shoes gripped the granite easily and even a simple tennis shoe would probably do the trick. The views were breathtaking. Nature truly is amazing.

My feet and blisters were not happy though. I laid down and smiled through the pain.

After basking in the sun at the top, I finally decided to make my descent, skipping the longer hike I had planned and headed home.

I don’t think I could have had a better time on this trip. Everything exceeded my expectations. I know there were a few people concerned for my safety, but not once did I feel unsafe. Cold? Yes. But never, unsafe. I really need to get that sleeping bag for next time.

Travel

Texas Car Camping Part Two

My first night in the car fell somewhere between enjoyable and a learning experience. In case you didn’t catch on in my first post, it was a little chilly in the car that night. Despite the cold, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise! vjWcOlpAQE+aCuTMUsrcuA

I had intentions of departing by 6:30 am, but I ended up leaving later than that since it wasn’t even sunrise yet, and I didn’t really feel like packing up in the dark. When I did finally roll out of “bed”, I was able to pack up my supplies in under 15 minutes, including eating my breakfast of pre-made hard boiled eggs and set out to my next location, Colorado Bend State Park. IMG_3943

Today’s itinerary included hiking Gorman Falls and Tie Slide Trail, and a cave adventure tour I booked through their website here. And here is a map of the state park, and all their trails.

I headed straight for the park headquarters upon arrival at the state park. I had my fingers and toes crossed to reserve a campsite for the night and I was super lucky that there was one site left! With my accomodations taken care of, I was behind schedule and didn’t have time to hike to Gorman Falls before my cave adventure, but I did have time to complete the Tie Slide Trail. This trail has lots of trees for cover from the sun and leads to a beautiful overlook of the Colorado River.

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Following this hike, I snacked on some grapes and headed back to the headquarters to meet my tour guide for the cave adventure. I’ve been in a cave before. I’ve toured the Natural Bridge Caverns outside San Antonio, TX and I’ve toured Diamond Caverns in Kentucky. Both of these tours were spent on your two feet the whole time and the most strenuous part might be going up and down stairs. The cave adventure I was about to participate in boasted a majority of crawling and a more raw experience than I had any history with. And an adventure it was!! The guide provided helmets and knee pads, which came in handy again and again as we spent the entire tour on our hands and knees and I bumped my head numerous times as I crawled around this primitive cave. It was AMAZING! I’m still not sure how I fit down this tiny hole and then climbed up through a different, but equally tiny hole. Yjh1g8i+SkOsVal8Qv9V7w

I cannot recommend this experience enough! It was well worth the $25 price tag, if anything, it was a bargain! J3Z1Zy2wTRCGKxele0tvfg

Our tour left from a different part of the park than I was expecting, so instead of going back to the trailhead for Gorman Falls, I decided to just hike from where I was at Cedar Chopper Loop. This added many, many miles to the amount of hiking I had originally planned, but I was feeling ambitious. I took Cedar Chopper Loop to Dogleg Canyon Trail and peeped this awesome canyon. naH1mcANQRuCeTuSyq4i8w

Dogleg Canyon Trail to River Trail and got to see a closed to the public cave entrance while using chains to traverse this tricky spot:IMG_4031

River Trail to Gorman Falls which got very slippery at the end as you descend down to the base of the waterfall. Ur15jHixSpC6TUs2djATAkXN+okRlqiPbYdz2YwUg

Definitely worth the struggle though.

I reached Gorman Falls and according to my Fitbit I traveled 10 miles by foot so far. My feet were preaching every step of that data. I still had to hike back to my car. Who’s idea was it to not drive to the trailhead? Mine. It was mine. No one to blame but myself.

Old Gorman Road to Cedar Chopper Loop got me back to my car the fastest. Once I was back in the RAV4 I headed to my campsite for the night where I quickly got my bed together, made my dinner and then did some stretching next to a curious armadillo.

Even with the cold that night, I slept very fitfully out of exhaustion. But I found a new love in hiking.

What do you or don’t you love about hiking?

Travel

Texas Car Camping

My first adventure into solo camping was quite the experience. When I brought up the idea with friends and family, the majority of responses included:

  • That’s not safe!
  • Aren’t you scared?
  • Do you want to die?

I did get one:

  • I’m so excited for you, and jealous!

Now either I’m too naive or stupid to be scared of solo travel, or there’s nothing to be scared about. I guess time will be the judge of that conundrum!

You can read how I prepared for my trip here, but I’m so excited to share where I went in this post!

I started my trip right after work Thursday evening. As soon as I had my little chitlins(students) on the bus and I was free of responsibility, I filled my cooler of ice from our break room, jumped in my Toyota RAV4 and hit the highway. 4.5 hours later I reached my first destination where I would camp for the night. An amazing little (free!) campsite, Cedar Point Recreation Area, was the perfect spot to sleep for the night. This location is first come, first serve, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a spot in one of their 9 campsites, but when I arrived at 8pm with the sun setting and deer frolicking in the fields on either side of the drive, only 3 of the 9 sites were claimed. I backed into site number 9, directly on Lake Buchanan, and started to set up camp as the camp host pulled up to write down my tag number and let me know about the rules of the campsites. This elderly gentleman was so kind and reminded me of my grandfather as he let me know not to try to drive around the speed bumps when I leave and if I planned on drinking to make sure I do it from a koozie. Reasonable requests in my eyes. And can you be mad about the view? Sunset from my campsite

I honestly cannot rave enough about this lucky find for my first night camping. They are grossly undercharging for their product, but don’t tell them that.

Some lessons learned from my first night:

  1. The temperature drops significantly at night in the spring in Texas. It was 90 during the day, 40 when I woke up.
  2. Leaving the windows down is a mistake if the temp is going to drop 50 degrees.
  3. One quilt is not enough to provide warmth if the temp is going to drop 50 degrees.
  4. Why didn’t you check the weather and temperatures you would encounter, knowing you would be camping?
  5. Add to shopping list: sleeping bag for cold temperatures.

This may have been my first time camping in my car, but it wasn’t my first time camping. Apparently I was so excited for adventure I forgot about common sense things like: it’s cold at night.

Any questions on my setup or experience?

More on day two coming soon!

Travel

The Hidden Gem of Corpus Christi, Texas

So the weather has been incredibly fabulous for the month of March. April-February are horrific, but March is really amazing. This weekend was so nice, I met a friend to explore the Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve.

My first 11 months living in Corpus Christi, Texas, I was super lucky to live just a few blocks from the Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve. I came across this gem fairly early into our residency, but it took me probably 10 months before I truly explored all this place had to offer.

When you first arrive in Corpus Christi, you are more than likely going to drive in on South Padre Island Drive (SPID). SPID is lined with pretty much every chain restaurant, retail store, and fast food restaurant you’ve ever heard of. It is also home to two malls, and multiple car dealerships. You would not expect to find some of the views and wildlife which can be found at the Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve, which is not far off from SPID.

When I first started visiting this place I would walk a straight line down the trail from the entrance by the road, down to a really great overlook point on the Oso Bay. I did this for months because I thought it was the only finished trail, but I was so wrong! As I would find out many, many months later, there are multiple trails with various unique and worthy scenic points that I highly recommend. There is also a nature center open during the week, and a playground for the tiny humans.

I can’t help but feel like this experience can be a metaphor for life. We can go through life with blinders on, only seeing the path directly ahead of us. And while there may be a worthy destination within view, life can take you in many other directions also with equally fantastic, if not superior, experiences. We only need the courage and willingness to venture off the main path so we can be pleasantly surprised.

There’s also the possibility to meet a rattlesnake or two along the way, which did happen to me on my last visit, and scared the bejesus out of me. The snake was actually really chill and just slithered away into the brush like I was boring and it was time for a nap though.

Do you have any great trails near you?

Travel

Travel Addiction

My name is Carlie and I am a travel addict. 

It feels good to get that out.

This time last year I made a list of a few destinations I wanted to experience in 2017. You can read the original post here.

Let’s review what did and didn’t happen.

  1. New Orleans  – checknola-bound_new-orleans-in-24-hours
  2. Overlanding the TransAmerican Trail – didn’t happen =(
  3. Camelback Mountain Resort and Waterpark– checkCamelback Mountain Resort
  4. Pensacola, Florida – checktripadvisor-vs-local-top-5-things-to-do-in-pensacola-florida
  5. Washington – check; Alaska – didn’t happen =(IMG_0526

So these were what I planned to do for 2017. As you can see, most of my plans did happen! Some didn’t. But I was able to add some destinations that weren’t on my original list! Such as:

  1. Corpus Christi, TexasCorpus Christi feature image
  2. San Antonio, TexasSan Antonio Feature image
  3. OBX, North Carolina
  4. Road trip: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New HampshireNew England road trip
  5. Big Bend National Park-TexasOV7nQXjiQpKRO0NcNq+eSA

2017 was a great year of traveling for me. I experienced so much more than I thought I would and it inspired a few of my travel goals for 2018.

2018 goals

  • Visit 30 states before I turn 30 in NovemberF45A4A34-5770-4E22-9A31-15F8D2B0997D
    • I was able to check off 7 states I never visited before in 2017. I have now visited 23 states in the USA, so I hope to visit 7 more states to bring my total to 30 states before my birthday.
    • March 2018- Spring Break Road trip Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas
    • Moving We may be moving again this summer. Wherever we end up should give me the opportunity to add another state to my list. Will it be Mississippi? Will it be New Mexico? We shall see.
    • Nevada Long weekend in Vegas? I’m hoping I can make this happen.
    • New York: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Weekend Vermont– since I’ll be in the area
  • Learn Latvian in LatviaMy husband is from Latvia. He lived there until he was a teenager and Latvian is his first language. We’re approaching 8 years together and I’ve always said I wanted to learn the language. This is the year I make it happen!
    • The University of Latvia offers a free intensive language course over the summer. So I’m hoping to make the journey to Latvia to spend 3 weeks finally making strides towards learning the languange of his people!
  • Dirty Thirty Cruise
    • I didn’t get to take a cruise in 2017, which is one of my favorite ways to vacay. I’m due. And I’d love to relax in Mexico with a margarita for my thirtieth birthday.

Do you have travel goals for 2018?

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Health · Random Ramblings · Travel

Melting Off the Weight in the Texas Heat.

Texas is hot. Balls fricking hot. I attempted to write this while sitting outside. Not only did I start to melt, but my laptop was slowing down and stroking out. We both had to come inside to recover.

Melting Off the Weightin the Texas Heat

Besides adjusting to the Texas weather (global warming is real), this week has been flipping amazing! And since I haven’t done a list in awhile (how out of character of me), let’s review in list form:

  1. My home is fully unpacked and decorated! It feels so, sooooo good to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I never fully unpacked or decorated in Florida since we were only going to be there for a short period of time, so I’m so stinking excited to make my home in Texas feel like my home.
  2. I’m back to writing! It was a long 24 days of not writing on the blog, and it’s one of those things where you’re like…. I don’t feel like it, but then once you do it, you feel so much better. Like working out, or getting a shower. That’s my relationship with writing.
  3. I made the best schedule and I stuck to it all week! For months now I’ve been saying to myself that I’ll be so much more productive if I make myself a schedule. I’ll do so much better with my weightloss if I make a schedule like I did over the summer. And yet, I wouldn’t buckle down and make a schedule. Well Monday I finally forced myself to not only plan out my meals for the week, but also create a daily schedule for my week and it has made all the difference! Not only have I been super productive, but I’ve been eating so healthy, and I’m right on track to hitting my 3% weightloss goal for this month! I’ve talked about my schedules and meal plans on my blog post Eat food. Lose weight. A Recipe for Weight loss. 6D9039B6-C183-4AAA-98B7-F83F33147614This was the meals from one day. minus the Halo Top I had for dessert. Red Velvet Halo Top is now in my top 2 Halo Tops. #1 is Mocha Chip. Halo Top is going to take over the world. I’m also obsessed with those nut bars. There’s some sort of glaze on them, and they’re crunchy and so yummy. They’re made by Nature Valley. Get you some. 
  4. Future travel plans have been confirmed! In my last post I mentioned hoping to be able to go to Seattle to visit my brother-in-law. Well I found dirt cheap airline tickets to Seattle and we jumped on the opportunity. We’re flying on the airline Spirit, which is a budget airline where you only pay for what you use. This means you only get one personal item that flies for free with you. Any other carry on items, checked bags, snacks, choosing your seat is all an additional charge. At first I was hesitant, but I compared what the cost would be flying the next cheapest (Delta) and even after paying for a checked bag, and choosing our seats, it was still $400(!!!) cheaper to fly Spirit. So we will be taking over Seattle at the beginning of June! I can’t wait to plan some great excursions!
  5. Speaking of traveling, being in a new place means I get to explore a whole new city! I haven’t gotten out too much yet. But I did check out my local farmer’s market where I got some new soap, and locally grown green beans. Shop local!! I look forward to going back this Saturday, when there’s supposed to be more vendors. I’ve also been to the beach and had lunch at a unique little place right on the water on the island. It was called Mikal May’s and had really delicious seafood nachos.

     

    I’m pretty excited about how great this week has been! It’s hard to top feeling at home in your home, eating healthy, losing weight, exploring a new city, and buying new soap. Am I right?

In other news, the job hunt continues. I had an interview last week, but haven’t heard anything since. I’ve applied to about a bazillion other places. Fingers crossed something comes along soon!

Any recommendations on Seattle or Washington State excursions?

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Health · Military · Random Ramblings · Travel

Moving. Job hunting. & Weightloss. Oh MY!

It’s been a couple weeks since I have written on the dear ole blog. 24 days to be exact. So what has happened the last 3 weeks and three days?

Moving

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Well first of all, we moved to Texas. We knew there was a chance of moving to Texas. We requested it, as a matter of fact. So we were hoping the Navy would give Yanis orders for Corpus Christi to continue his training, but there was a chance he would be sent to Milton, FL instead. Well, on March 30, we got official, hard-copy orders for Corpus Christi, TX, and we had 15 days to pack up and get there.

Pensacola, FL was a ball of a time. The Naval Air Station there is top notch. The museum and lighthouse are divine, and the downtown area has great shops, bars, and restaurants. We loved going to the ice hockey games, the off roading trails at the Eglin AFB and Blackwater State Park. Let’s not forget the gorgeous, white, sandy beaches, and our quick getaway to New Orleans! Most of all I’m going to miss the friends we made, but I am optimistic we will see them all again in the future! We were only in PCola a short 4.5 months, but we were able to make so much of our time there!

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The upside of moving so much, it forces you to truly prioritize what you need materialistically. Before moving from Delaware, I held 6 yard sales purging stuff. We also had two charity pick ups of tons of stuff we donated. After moving to Pensacola, I identified at least 10 more boxes worth of stuff to get rid of and a couple pieces of furniture. I would easily say we have less stuff than your typical American family and yet that 26 ft moving truck is still full for our drive to Texas. Since arriving and unloading, we’ve picked out even more stuff to get rid of. I’m optimistic we’ll be down to two suitcases and a knapsack by the end of flight school.

Job Hunting

My time in Pensacola was well spent with lots of writing and getting to know myself better- the good and the bad. Now that we are in Texas, I have decided to pursue working for a non profit and in the community again. I miss the sense of purpose I felt when working with The Delaware Readiness Teams. I need that again. So I dusted off the résumé, updated it with my new address and other pertinent details and have been applying pretty aggressively for a new job. You know what’s really annoying about job hunting? It’s so redundant. What is the point of having a résumé, if every job posting is going to require you to fill out their job application, asking for the exact information that can be found on your résumé, and then ask you to attach.. you guessed it.. your résumé. I think job hunting is just as exhausting as working, if not more. Just hire me already. I promise, I’m fabulous.

Weightloss

Moving can not only wreak havoc on my ability to write consistently, but also eat well consistently. The last week of the move we ate pizza three times. I had to pack up all the kitchen stuff at that point, and I also couldn’t find the energy to cook anything, even if I had the supplies to do it. Despite these dietary setbacks, I think a combination of the big losses I had the first couple weeks of my diet bet and the stress burned extra calories and fat. I was able to hit my 4% weightless goal by the hair on my chinny chin chin. So Trump will not be getting a donation from me this month.

Unfortunately the losses haven’t continued on their own organically, and I have gained back 4 of the 8 lbs lost. So my brother and I are revitalizing our diet bet this month. We started as of Friday, April 21 with a couple adjustments. My goal is to lose 3% (6.4lbs) and his goal is to lose 4 lbs. Of course, I’ll keep you updated on the progress along the way. Now I want pizza…

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Oh My!

What a helluva 3 weeks. I have a new city to explore now! We’ve been in Corpus Christi for just over a week now and my first impressions are pretty good! There is literally every single store and restaurant I’ve ever heard of in my whole life here. It’s a bigger population than I’ve ever lived in. There are definitely some sketchy parts, but that is to be expected with any large city. I look forward to exploring and experiencing everything I can before we’re told to pack up and move again!

In the meantime, there’s a lot coming up. The mother-in-law is coming for a visit at the beginning of May, the best friend is coming for a visit at the end of May, culminating in a long weekend in San Antonio. Then we’re going to visit the brother-in-law in Seattle at the beginning of June. It’s going to be a busy, busy couple of months! I’ll do my best to keep the blog updated.

Any recommendations on things to do or see in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, or Seattle?

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Travel

Pensacola, Florida- TripAdvisor vs. a Local’s Top 5 Things to Do

tripadvisor-vs-local-top-5-things-to-do-in-pensacola-floridaOne of the challenges of military life is being apart from family and many times you can go  many months and even years before being able to visit “home” or for family to come visit you. However, when the stars align just right, and you’re able to have family come to you, what better way to celebrate than getting to be a tourist in your new home of residence?

My brother-in-law came to visit us last week for a quick, but great trip! We were so excited to be able to show him around Pensacola and we were able to take advantage of a little road trip together to New Orleans, which has been on my bucket list for quite sometime. I’ll write all about New Orleans in another post, but for today I will go over our voyages around Pensacola.

The first time we visited Pensacola was in 2014 during a roadtrip we completed of the southeastern part of the US. We came back in November 2016 to house hunt, and moved in December 2016. In our travels and now residency, we’ve been able to experience a lot of what Pensacola has to offer, but there was still more for us to do that we hadn’t had the opportunity to take advantage of yet. So let’s take a gander at the Top 5 Things to Do in Pensacola according to TripAdvisor:

  1. National Naval Aviation Museum– The National Naval Aviation Museum is a free museum with free parking and free tours. Free Free Free! They also have an IMAX theater and simulation rides you can do for an additional purchase. It is the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world, and has over 150 aircraft representing the Navy, Marine Corp and Coast Guard. The museum is located on Naval Aviation Station Pensacola, but civilians and military are both welcome. I have been to the museum more times than I have fingers, but I still enjoy it every time. I can see why it is listed as the #1 top thing to do in Pensacola.  pensacola-nationa-naval-museum-tif
  2. Pensacola Naval Air Station– This includes the National Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, Fort Barrancas, and Barrancas National Cemetery. Since TripAdvisor compiles it’s ‘Top’ list based off of comments and reviews of users, some reviewed all of these destinations under the NAS and some reviewed each place individually. I think it makes it a bit redundant, and not as comprehensive, but oh well. All of these things are located at Pensacola NAS and all worthy of your time, military or civilian.
  3. Blue Wahoos Ballpark– Number 3 on TripAdvisor is the Blue Wahoos Ballpark. This location is absolutely beautiful and is located on the Gulf of Mexico with a fantastic modern playground for children, and outdoor amphitheater. Since it is currently winter, there are no baseball games to catch, but if you would like to take a scenic walk/run around the ballpark, it is definitely a great place to do so. 461810650_1280x720
  4. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum– The Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum is my favorite thing to do on base. It is not free to go inside, but well worth the small fee to be able to climb the 177 steps to the top and take in the view of NAS and also the Gulf of Mexico. The museum portion allows you to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the keepers who have maintained it for decades. There are even rumors that the lighthouse is haunted, and who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Also, behind the museum is a short path that leads you onto one of the many white sandy beaches in Pensacola. The sand is so fine it feels like you’re walking on sugar. pensacola-lighthouse_03
  5. Fort Barrancas– Fort Barrancas is a military fort located on NAS Pensacola. This is another free excursion that can be done. It’s such a beautiful and historical site and I highly recommend going down into the fort and through the underground tunnels. Such a cool experience! fort-barrancas-drawbridge-entrance

We did all of these things when we visited Pensacola the first time, now after living here for almost two months, I think I’ve found a couple other gems that I would recommend you do should you ever find yourself on the panhandle of Florida.

  1. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum– As described above, the lighthouse is gorgeous, historical and quite the sight to see. Put this at the top of your list. And don’t forget to hit the beach behind the lighthouse, it’s like two birds with one stone! untitled-2798
  2. Pensacola Ice Flyers– I went to see my very first ice hockey game at Pensacola Bay Center. So So So much fun! The tickets are inexpensive, even the most expensive are only $29 and they offer a military discount. There is not a bad seat in the house and many of the home games have an open skate following the game. Definitely do this if they are playing while you’re in town. 15966288_10210209510026789_1555044419640420471_n
  3. Downtown Pensacola– Main Street and Palafox Street are where a majority of the restaurants, bars and boutiques are located in downtown Pensacola. Even if you just take the time to stroll up and down the streets, it is an easy way to spend a few hours. Also be sure to see how many of the pelicans you can find that are on display! fd7352d2_eee9_4384_b16f_fdfdcebd293e_ab3bf5bc-cb94-4d0f-a300-1166378a7f23
  4. Brothers BBQ– If you’re in the mood for delicious southern bbq, Brothers BBQ is a spot I highly recommend. Tuesdays and Wednesdays they even have an all you can eat special. Calories don’t count when you’re enjoying BBQ. img_7361
  5. Seville Quarter– For those adults out there looking for some adult activities, Seville Quarter has 9 bars in 7 buildings all conveniently located together in Downtown Pensacola. My favorite… well technically the only one I’ve been inside is the piano bar, the musicians were excellent and the ambiance and decor was terrific. 10/10 friends would recommend. Also Wednesday night is ladies night and drinks are cheap! img_7655

I’ve always thought no matter where you lived, people and places were all generally the same. But I was wrong, each place is so unique and will have different things to offer. I’ve really enjoyed our time in Pensacola so far and discovering all the quirks that make one a ‘local’. As we spend more time here, my top 5 may change, or perhaps we’ll get orders soon for a new location and I’ll have the opportunity to discover a whole new place. Do your worst United States Navy, I’m ready!

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