Naples

Chris and I just got back from our trip to Naples. We went for 5 days and it was a lot of fun. It was nice to see my family again.

While we were there, we did a few fun activities I thought I’d blog about. On the second day, we rented a boat and my dad gave us a ride all around the canals and bay (bay? just ocean? I’m not sure what it was). We saw a bunch of pelicans, seagulls, a dog beach, and even a manatee (I think – all I saw was a big brownish blob near our boat, presumably going back into the water after coming up for air. I did hear a poof of air before I saw it, which is what made me turn my head towards it.)! We stopped shortly at a beach, but couldn’t stay long because we couldn’t really figure out how to anchor our boat. The ride was really nice – there was a good breeze, it wasn’t too hot, and the area was really pretty. I did end up getting burnt though. I made sure Chris put on his sunblock, but I foolishly thought I’d be fine. I got pretty red. I’m starting to peel now.

My family - my dad and mom in the back, my sister and Chris in the front.

On the third day, we went on an airboat ride. My parents take everyone who visits on an airboat ride and it’s a lot of fun. This time, Chris and I got to sit up front (last time, I sat in the back row, I think) and it was so much fun. When the driver goes fast, it feels like you’re flying – even more so if birds take off in front of you. I think that’s my favorite part.  Turns are a bit weird because you feel like you might fall off and you get sprayed with water, but that’s all part of the fun. Also, I was wearing a windbreaker during the ride, which I had to hold shut because if I let go, it blew up like a balloon and made me feel like I might just be carried off. It was pretty funny. Anyway, the water is really low this time of year, so we didn’t see very many alligators, but the scenery is beautiful and it’s pretty cool to see any alligators up close. Once we got back to the starting area, we got to see some baby alligators. Very cute.

They were suprisingly soft, actually. We did have to be careful though. Even though theyre small, they could still bite you.

They were suprisingly soft, actually. We did have to be careful though. Even though they're small, they could still bite you.

We also went to a lot of really good restaurants in the area. On one night in downtown Naples, we walked around, window shopping, and we saw 2 Ferraris! One was gray and one red. Mmmm. I wanted to steal the gray one. Also, one afternoon we drove around and looked at all the huge houses on the shore area. Some of them are ridiculous. I wonder what it’s like to live in them.

Anyway, it was a nice little vacation. We had a lot of fun, from the boat rides to playing Cranium. If my parents are reading, thanks for having us down to visit!! 🙂 Also, come visit us soon! 🙂

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Ski Trip

Chris and I just got back from our annual ski trip. Every year, we get together with friends from college and some family to go skiing/snowboarding. So far, we’ve kept it to the poconos since most of our friends live near there. We’ve thought of branching out to Vermont or Colorado, but I think it would be more expensive for everyone and I’m a bit nervous it would be a lot harder than what I’m used to (bunny hills there being like blue squares here or something). Anyway, this was our biggest group yet, with 9 of us going to Elk Mountain near Scranton, PA.

It was a lot of fun, despite the non-ideal weather. We typically go for a noon to close ticket (though I’m not sure we’ve ever stayed the full time) and most of us ski, except for Chris and Trapper, who snowboard. I’ve tried snowboarding and I just can’t quite get the hang of it. I can make it down a bunny hill, but not much else. I just feel very unstable with both of my feet locked into one board. The weather was warm (duh, it’s March, I guess) and it rained part of the time, but it didn’t seem to be too much of a hassle. My neck got kinda wet and cold, but otherwise I was pretty hot in my ski attire, depite wearing fewer layers than usual. My hair also looked like crap pretty soon after getting there and I forgot my hair ties. I did find one at the bottom of my purse, but it was all stretched out, so I had to keep fixing my ponytail. The weather also lead to pretty slushy conditions, with a few fairly deep puddles here and there. Surprisingy, under some of the slush was a good amount of ice, too, so that was a bit difficult to deal with. Mostly, though, we had a lot of fun. I took some pictures on my phone (sorry for the quality, I wasn’t about to bring my camera, since I knew there was a good chance I’d fall – which I did.  Dropping my phone in the snow during one fall. It’s ok.) :

So, you may notice that this picture looks a bit odd. I couldn't get everyone into the one shot, so I had to resort to some copying and pasting. They really all were there though! Joe G was elsewhere at the time this was taken, so he's the only one missing.

Me after I fell trying to get everyone into that first picture. For the record, I fell 2 other times that day, once standing at the bottom of the mountain (just lost my balance) and the other was pretty spectacular, with me sliding and spinning around down the mountain for a good distance.

Chris getting ready to go down the hill. Notice the huge slushy area behind him.

Chris getting ready to go down the hill. Notice the huge slushy area behind him.

The view from the mountain. Not the top, but still a nice view.

The view from the mountain. Not the top, but still a nice view. I didn't dare take a shot from the top (we all see what trying to get a better shot did for me with that group shot - with my luck I would have ended up falling down a black diamond)

Anyway, we headed back to the hotel once it got dark and, after everyone showered, we headed off to Coopers, a seafood restaurant in Scranton with a large beer selection. I had a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, which was pretty good, along with my seafood crepes, which were really tasty, but super-rich, so I only got through about half of it.  After dinner, we were all thoroughly pooped, so instead of our typical stay-up-and-chat for hours, we went back to the hotel and fell asleep immediately. We finished out the weekend with breakfast together at Waffle House on Sunday. It was a fun time. A few of us are thinking of possibly adding/substituting a different sort of trip next year, maybe a beach trip or an amusement park trip, but we’ll see.

Next trip is in 2 days! This is a busy month!

Snow

Ok, I’ve officially had it with snow. According to people who have lived in this area for a long time, it has never snowed here in March. And yet, we got a few inches over the weekend. At first it was kind of pretty, but around 8 pm, our power went out. And stayed out until around noon the next day, at which point we noticed that our bedroom had gotten down to a chilly 49 degrees. Which we had to sleep in the night before. Ugh, it was awful. Falling asleep wasn’t too bad, but I woke up around 5 am, I think, freezing. We both had on our warmest clothes (I think Chris also slept in his slippers) and the two of us, plus Buffy, huddled close all night. Also, Chris and I had been running a dungeon in World of Warcraft when the power went out, which was kind of annoying to have been interrupted (it was reset the next day when we got back on, with the two of us deposited at the entrance).

But that’s not all! The roads aren’t salted or cleared here, presumably because the state of South Carolina probably owns one snowplow, so despite some guy driving back and forth on our street Sunday night in an effort to clear out the snow, the roads were really icy on Monday, so Chris decided to stay home. He later found out quite a lot of people from his work did the same. By Tuesday, the roads were fine, since the temperatures were back up, and on my way out to go grocery shopping, I noticed the state of our front garden. <sigh> It was bad. We had a few flowers coming up prior to the storm, which are now dead, but the worst was the big bushes. We have 4 large bushes in our front garden which are pretty much the only consistent growth up there (we have some things that grow and have to be cut back seasonally also) and the only things that make it look like we are purposely trying to grow anything up there. Only one was completely undamaged. The two largest hedges in the back row were nearly flattened with the weight of the snow and the more fragile bush between the two hedges had a sizeable back branch crack. I brushed off the snow and today the hedges look slightly better, so maybe they just need a few days to regain their shape (I hope), but I think I still need to cut off any broken branches, which may make them look holey or sparse. Does anyone have any tips on how to tend to them? I’ve read mixed things ranging from waiting to see if it fixes itself  to completely pruning branches back (but only certain hedges and bushes can have this done because some won’t grow back at all if you prune them back too much apparently. And I don’t know what we have. All I know is that the bush that isn’t damaged is an azalea, which doesn’t help.). As a side note, should evergreen hedges be brownish on the inside layers or is that a sign of something wrong with them?