We arrived home from Europe on April 29th, with the intention of relaxing around the house during the months of May and June. Long ago, I booked July in North Carolina (my favorite place). In the meantime, we didn't have any plans set up for these two months...so I thought.
|Our ride back home from the airport!|
About a week after arriving back home, I was itching for some beach time. Isabel's birthday was April 30th, and she asked for a deep sea fishing trip. I haven't spend much time on the Gulf Coast, but after doing some research we decided on Longboat Key.
Longboat Key is about 3 hours from home, and we suddenly took off, surprising all of our family with our quick departure. Fishing trip was booked. We decided to splurge and stay at the Longboat Key Club Resort. It was a good choice.
When we arrived, we were impressed with the gated property and beautiful landscaping. I was looking forward to their cabanas on the beach, and we immediately set out to spend the afternoon there. The water was OK, but the beach-side service made it lovely. I like sitting in the shade, being served drinks/food, while my daughter plays with other children in the water.
We also had to have a bit of seafood while we were out. Our first stop was the Lazy Lobster, where I ordered...lobster. I know... it isn't local, but the other options on the menu weren't as appealing, so I went for it.
We were also able to hit a local restaurant, Moore's Stone Crab. It was the last week of stone crab season, so we were lucky to get any at all. On top of that, we got a "last week of the season" sale!!! Mmmmm. Lots of stone crab!
As a side trip, we decided to head down another half hour, to Venice Beach. This beach is the world's capital of SHARK TEETH! Apparently, you sift through the sand near the shoreline, and find the teeth. Isabel was very excited by this, and we found around 5-7 teeth while we sifted.
Unfortunately, the last day, our planned deep-sea fishing trip, was cancelled. Booooo!
In a fast change of plans, we checked out early and ran up to Tampa. Isabel had never been to Busch Gardens, and I was missing my bed! We spent her birthday there!
After our first roller-coaster, Gwazi, I was feeling sore (I seem to remember that happening ten years prior) and Isabel was DONE with roller coaster, we decided to focus on the animals. Isabel was a bit spoiled this day with Kangaroo feedings. It was quite neat to see her bottle feed a Kangaroo! I'm not certain she LOVED Busch Gardens, but she was exhausted/soaked by the end of the day and we were all happy to return home, one day early.
During the rest of May, we focused on improvements to our home. It had been some time since we had the time to work personally on our house, so we started making changes. One of the first things we needed to take care of was my sink/faucet.
We ordered a new sink months prior, but unfortunately, it was delivered broken. We had sent it back and received the new one while in Europe. Sooooo... it was time to install it! Fortunately, Chris has some experience in plumbing, so he was able to install the new sink.
I also ordered a new, fancy, faucet. I was in love with this faucet from the moment it arrived! It was AMAZING! Unfortunately, our cabinetry did not work with the height of the faucet. I had to make a decision. Faucet or cabinet??? FAUCET!
Since Chris removed the faucet, I needed to so something about the backsplash... So I became a TILER! I am so impressed with myself! I bought all the junk to make it at Floor and Decor on Colonial Dr in Orland and installed it all by myself!!!
Along with the kitchen, Chris continued to work on replacing lighting in our home. Most of the lighting was original to our home. So that means it was circa 1982...ugh. We replaced lights in the bathrooms, kitchen, and dining room. My favorite replacement was the chandelier we bought in Italy. I think it might be my favorite part of my house. Chris also got this working all by himself. He is very handy. Lol.
The month of June was focused on improvements on the parent's house. We decided to hire some contractors for the work we needed done (paint, land clearing, porch replacement). In the end, it was a bad experience and I had to fire them after about 80% being completed. I still need to complete that work when I head home...ugh.
Isabel was also able to do a week of horse camp! She really, really enjoyed the lessons, but wasn't too keen on the other girls at camp. She isn't sure if she wants to continue riding, but I am hoping she does! Maybe a different facility?
THEN! It was July! Time for North Carolina!
We traded teenagers for this trip. Originally we were going to head north with Cici, and my nephew Thomas, but Cici had to drop out of the trip. We flew up on July 3rd. Our first stop was Randall Glen.
|Iron in Asheville|
|Breafast at Early Girl Eatery|
|Thomas discovers he LOVES bacon!|
Randall Glen is a wonderful place near Asheville that we have visited for the past three years. It is a small, secluded cove in the mountains that features a farm. It has also built cabins in the past few years and I was able to book one for 4 nights.
While we were there we did so many different things! One of the features was the "feeding of the livestock" each morning at 9:30. Isabel absolutely loved this, and loved interacting with the animals. This year she opted out of the milkings....? She thought it was kinda gross.
We also were able to go on a trail ride on horseback. Thomas chose not to come on this trip, but the three of us were able to traverse the mountain side and no one fell off!!! (Must have been Isabel's horse camp lessons this summer!)
As always, we love to gem mine at Randall Glen, so we spent some time doing that. The gem sluice is located in the baby goat pasture, so we each had some favorite babies that we bonded to. I think Chris's goat was the cutest, but mine was the friendliest.
Thomas fell in love with the Great Pyrenees dogs that roam the farm. They are working dogs who guard the livestock, but also love to go on the trail rides and lounge on the cabin porches in the evening. We received several visits from the pups (150 lbs +) and if Thomas could have packed one, he would have!!!
After Randall Glen, we had the opportunity to move to another cabin in Robbinsville, NC. This time we rented a huge cabin, since we have family visiting us! This is the first time we are getting some of the Connellys up to N.C.!!! Our cabin is on a creek and far removed from cell phone service. I am...adjusting!
Since we have been at the new house, we have been able to go swimming at Lake Santeetlah, which was surprisingly warmer than I thought it would be!
We also decided to visit Gatlinburg (ehhh. Don't go. I didn't like it) and Cades Cove (it was raining, and I had high hopes. Not really worth it after Randall Glen).
|Funny sign at dog clothing store|
|I'm sad that it's raining at Cades Cove|
Today, we went white water rafting. Thomas somehow got out of it by claiming he would rather stay at home and do school work... Chris, Isabel, and I had a great time, even though the water was freezing, and I'm surprised we still have toes after the frostbite.
I will try to continue blogging this summer, but I'm not sure if I will be blogging after July/August, since our year of travel will be over. I will need to post a thought-provoking summary to the year at some point, but I still need to reflect on that for a while...
|Kentucky Derby Day|
|Visitors to my yard|
|My French girl, enjoying a self-made plate of pate.|
|Harley: "But I'm a baby too!!!"|
|Sean and my attempt at seared scallops over cauliflower puree|
|Family trivia pursuit|
|Their first Pho at Pho Hoa!!!|
|I made feta! From scratch!|