Mom and Dad vist Jacksonville Part 3

Our last full day with Mom and Dad was cool and gray so we decided to drive around downtown Jacksonville.

We stopped by Sweet Pete's and wound up at Gators BBQ, a hole-in-the-wall Mom discovered when researching places for us to go for Taylor's birthday, but is far enough from our house we had never tried before. As can be expected from a southern BBQ pit, the food was delicious.

Side note: Dad reminded us that he was subjected to sulfuric-water-based drinks all weekend, which I don't notice anymore. Taylor even claims it makes the drink taste better.

As we chatted with the lady who took our order she mentioned taking her grandson up to the Okefenokee swamp where they went on a guided boat tour and saw dozens of alligators. Because we had no plans, we headed up to the swamp that is just over the border in Georgia.

The Google directions wound us up into the middle of the swamp, which we later realized was not the closest entrance and we worried would put us in the wrong location for sight seeing. When we finally reached the park we had indeed missed the last guided boat tour.

We ended up renting a john boat and took our own tour. It was incredible. We saw dozens of alligators in such close vicinity they hissed at us before splashing into the water in addition to birds and turtles. I know, the white pants were a bad idea but I had no clue I needed to be on adventurer mode.

Surprisingly enough I found the little, yellow water lily flowers to be one of my favorite things.


Mom and Dad visit Jacksonville Part 2

Day of of adventuring with Mom and Dad took us up to Amelia Island, Florida. It's the same place where Taylor and I went to the BBQ competition and bought boiled peanuts while exploring the back roads.

When we got to Amelia Island we found ourselves heading into Fort Clinch State Park where Taylor and I showed Mom and Dad how to find shark's teeth and we played bocce ball.

On our way out from the shore we found a little armadillo snuffling through the grass beside the wood walkway. It was the first time I'd ever seen a live armadillo and they're really cool little creatures. At one point we scared him up the walkway and his feet sound like little dinosaur feet. Apparently they are carriers of lots of different diseases, so while I had zero interest in getting close I was able to get a couple pictures.

We then walked along the quiet main street of Fernandina Island where we bought some salted caramel ice cream. It was a really salty ice cream, which was a lot of fun and when I hit a pecan it tasted just like pecan pie. I really must be southern that I am obsessing over that right now.

From here we went and watched the sunset while eating fried alligator. I was a little disappointed to not have it taste weird, but it did taste really good.


Mom and Dad visit Jacksonville Part 1

I have finally pulled myself out of a week-long birthday-induced food coma. Yes, I am now 25 years old and it has been an epic celebration, starting with Mom and Dad's visit two weeks ago.

First, I'll start by saying that every meal we ate was delicious. You know how most times you'll have a couple rock-awesome meals interspersed with some good, but not hugely note-worthy meals? Not this trip. Taylor and I planned out our favorite restaurants and then we tried out some new places that are now on our "Favorite Food Spots" list.

Some highlights were:

Our first full day we spent in Saint Augustine, which offered more people-watching opportunities than when Taylor and I went because 1-this is Spring Break season and 2-this is motorcycle get-together season. We experienced everything from a small church sponsored thrift shop to a very high end art store that tried to woo us with promotions of a pre-iron-casting party with the artist. We also stood at the apex of the main draw bridge and waved to the ferry passing below.

On the drive down we walked along the beach where we ran into an elderly couple from Budapest. They were the ultimate stereotype from the knitted vest with heart buttons to their racist, but not malicious, comments, their love of Romania and America and their accents. Bless them and my parents for striking up the conversation.

After dinner we drove down to a park along the Saint John's river where we watched the sunset while Mom and I took pictures.


Can you believe that was all one day?


New York City: Eat, drink and stay warm

This is the delayed update of the second-half of my trip to New York:

In a lot of ways my time in New York City was two separate trips: New York Fashion Week and a sister (plus brother-in-law) weekend. Luckily I'd already been to NYC before as a tourist, so I didn't feel any pressure to spend my time doing anything other than being a New Yorker.

Thanks to my extreme luck with trips and weather, McKenzie and I spent Thursday prepping for storm Nemo by making a huge pot of soup and french bread, working and watching Parks and Recreation. I looked into switching my plane flight but the prediction was snow for Friday only which would, and did, allow me to fly out Sunday morning without any problems. The only damper Nemo put on our plans is it prevented Philip and Elizabeth from driving up from DC to hang out. Booooo.

New York was so cold, but it was beautiful. The snow added a unique dimension to tromping around and I was so glad McKenzie had two pairs of rain boots. They saved my feet as we sloshed through  gutter-puddles.

As typical New Yorkers we spent the entire weekend eating and walking, thrifting, walking and eating. McKenzie and I both found some awesome thrift finds, but my favorite one I couldn't buy: a full-length black, fur coat. It was perfect. I love fur coats and they are all over New York right now! It still surprises me because I grew up near San Francisco where fur is a no-go. Sadly, I couldn't convince McKenzie to buy it.

We ate at Murray's Bagels twice. I had the bagel with all the grains and nuts on top with cream cheese. Delish.

I also ate 2Bros pizza twice, as requested by Taylor. It's still my favorite by-the-slice pizza place because it's so tasty and it only costs a dollar.

We met the dear Jessica McCord for dinner at Bare Burger, which is fun because everything is natural, including the chocolate peanut butter shake. It was totally different than what I expected, but the natural-peanuty flavor was fitting and delicious. McKenzie and I also hit up Shake Shack for late-night cheese fries and shakes, which is something that fits my personality perfectly: late-night food runs out in the city. One of our late-night dinners was at The Meatball Shop in Williamsburg.

First of all, I love Williamsburg. I am the stylistic and demographic equivalent to Williamsburg and I felt right at home in the little streets. Second, the restaurant felt like a German wursthaus except they were bumping 90s rap/hip hop. I think the music was because it was late on a Saturday night, but still, I found the whole thing comforting.

Donuts. Doughnut Plant was epic and I want to go back all the time. We ate a crème brûlée, a tres leches, a pistachio and a coconut cream donut. All of them were incredible and it's probably a good thing I don't live in New York because I'd eat there at least three times a week. And I'm not exaggerating.

I've already found an awesome eatery I need to try on my next trip to New York. Anyone have any other suggestions of their favorite places to eat?