Tag Archives: pub crawl

Meeting a Manatee!

A couple of weeks ago, I embarked on my greatest adventure to-date! Inspired by my amazing friend Tricia’s solo trip to Belize (P.S. she just killed it in the NYC marathon!), I decided to take a selfie trip to FL to finally meet a manatee!

Crystal River, FL

Crystal River, FL

I’ve traveled by myself for business before, but this was my first solo vacation. And so “solo vacation” gets both added to and an simultaneously crossed-off the bucket list!

My adventure started with an evening flight into Tampa. My only creeper encounter happened at the car rental desk when the night clerk complimented by bag, asked where I was staying, and whether I was visiting my grandmother or aunt. I felt like little Red Riding Hood telling the Big Bad Car Rental Wolf to get lost.

My alarm was set for 3:30AM so I could get dressed, check-out and be on the road by 4:30 headed to my manatee adventure.  I was the only car on the pre-dawn road so I rolled down the windows, blasted some tunes, and squealed every time I saw a mile marker counting down the distance to Crystal River.

Three Germans joined me on my manatee adventure, and the Bird’s Underwater (http://www.birdsunderwater.com/) tour Captain swiftly nicknamed everyone in their group, “Germany” and me, “New York”. We were shown a manatee safety video which instructed us how to avoid frightening or interfering with their natural behaviors. Essentially, you have to wait for the manatees to approach you, and you can only pet them with one hand otherwise it’ll appear that you’re grabbing them.  So basically, it’s just like attracting dudes at bars.

Is this real life?

Is this real life?

Once the sun rose and provided enough visibility, we grabbed a noodle and jumped into the water. Captain John almost immediately spotted an baby manatee who was curious and interested in playing, so we all swam over and our manatee adventure began.

Snorkle Selfie

Snorkle Selfie

I’ve included a video of my manatee encounter at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeD7ojkXZzI

This was the greatest experience ever. I loved it. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who isn’t afraid of sea-life. October is still off-peak so we only encountered about 6 manatees during our 5 hour adventure, but during the winter months the river and springs are full of 100+ manatees! I’ll be recruiting adventure buddies to join me for my next trip.

My solo vacation continued after a short drive down to Clearwater Beach. I checked into my beachside hotel and spent the afternoon lounging by the pool, crushing Orange Crushes, and reading trashy magazines.  Heaven!

Vessel of Pain

Vessel of Pain

Saturday I went solo kayaking in Honeymoon Island State Park. It was another first for me. I paddled out to Caladesi Island, which was only a 15 minute trip, but halfway there I was sure my arms were going to fall off and I would never make it. Fortunately, after some self-directed pep talks, I finally made it ashore. I parked my kayak, collected some shells, took a few more selfies (what else are you gonna do on a solo-cation?), and sent some S.O.S texts to friends to let them know I would be living on this island for the remainder of my life.

Island Life

Island Life

Eventually I found the strength for the return trip. Upon docking on dry land I felt so exhilarated by my physical accomplishment, I decided to hit the bars!

Later whilst sitting at the bar at Frenchy’s Rockaway Café for dinner, I noticed and inquired why the bartenders were all wearing face paint and zombie make-up. It turned out there was a  zombie pub crawl starting at a neighboring bar, and they were doing zombie make-up for the crawlers. Fate!!

Zombie'd

Zombie’d

I headed over to the neighboring bar, ordered a drink, and got zombied-up.  And that’s where my plan ended… ggrrrrrrreat.

By then my awkwardness was masked by beers and zombie blood, and thankfully a cute non-zombie asked me to play corn hole, then darts, and I ended up joining their group for the rest of zombie crawl.

Meeting locals… bar crawling with strangers/temp friends… swimming with manatees… By the end of the night and the end of the weekend, I felt like a champion solo-cationer!

This trip was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had this year. While I always love to have my friends, family, and travel buddies by my side, it feels incredibly brave and adventurous to stake out and explore on your own.  But next time you’re all invited! I promise.

 

30before30: Pre-Christmas Update

So Christmas is a week away, and you’d probably assume I’ve crossed off sitting on Santa’s lap by now….. but that one still remains outstanding. I figure I have 5 more days and procrastinating is sort of my specialty so I’m not worried (but I’m a little worried). I’d hate to have a list failure so early in the year so it’s just not an option. I’ll be sitting on a real Mall Santa’s lap within the week, I promise!

Even though I failed to snare a real Mall Santa, I do vaguely remember sitting on an Irish Santa’s lap during Santacon. I think the intention was for my friend Kristen to take my photo, but the only ones she captured were of me sipping more whiskey.

Santacon

Santacon

I still have some progress to report:

Run a half marathon: This past week we (my Baltimore girls, KeriAnn and Kristyn) received the great / terrifying news that we were accepted into the Nike Half in Washington DC, April 28th. I’ll be joining the Niketown Run Club which runs through Central Park. Pretty intimidating, but I know I’ll need some structure and support to accomplish this one.

Half Marathon

Half Marathon

Skydiving: I purchased a LivingSocial deal this week for a tandem skydive! So sometime between April and September 2013 I will be jumping out of plane over Long Island, NY. I asked my friend Bridget if she would like to join me and jump for her 2nd time, but she’s already “been there and done that” so she’ll be waiting on the ground to congratulate me if I survive.

Final Shout out: This one doesn’t fit in with any of the bucket list items, but I wanted to send my thanks to my friend Pat and his family for hosting an amazing Christmas party this weekend. Like all great parties, the night ended with a living room dance party and an original song dedicated to my second best friend.

Christmas in NYC

Christmas in NYC

30before30: One month in…..

I gave myself an extra week between posts in the hopes of accruing extra progress, but there’s still not much of an update. This may not be a surprise to most of you, but when the weather turns cold, I become a bona fide couch-potato. So it’s been difficult contemplating my progress on my bucket list over the last two weeks and determining whether I have anything worthwhile to share. This is what I came up with:

Whiskey drinking / Signature Drink: There’s no doubt this one is always going to show the most effort and progress. I’ve added a photo of me “enjoying” my first shot of Jameson. There was surprisingly less burning than I expected, and I’m sure you’ll all agree I look like a total badass. And of course I ordered a Midtown Manhattan at dinner last Tuesday at The Smith (http://www.thesmithnyc.com).

Thanks for the shot, Matt!

Thanks for the shot, Matt!

I attended a Hendrick’s Gin “Voyages into the Unusual” party on December 6th and may have found my signature drink. A Hendrick’s “Nom de Plume” includes: gin, Lillet Rose, mangosteen juice, strawberry puree, and simple syrup; unfortunately these are not ingredients found at your everyday, corner bar. So while the party was unbelievable (a “little person” served me a Gin & Tonic from inside a tree stump), I might need to find a cocktail that’s a little more dive-bar-friendly. (http://www.hendricksgin.com/wonderous-affairs-and-occasions/events-promotions-showcase/)

Me and the Stump

Me and the Stump

Sit on Santa’s lap: I’ve already attended one Christmas-themed pub crawl this season, and still have no progress to share. Instead of wearing an ugly sweater, I dressed as a chain-dragging Jacob Marley from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I was recognized by some fellow crawlers, but most people were simply impressed with the construction of my chains. It was as if they had never graduated from 2nd grade, and had never learned the art of the construction paper linked chain decoration. Santacon is this Saturday (December 15th) in NYC (http://santacon.info/New_York-NY) , so there will be thousands of Santa’s at my disposal; although that’s probably cheating, since the intention was an official photo with a mall Santa. I guess next week I’ll have to stop in at Macy’s Herald Square during my lunch break!

Jacob Marley, et al

Jacob Marley, et al

Vegas: Perhaps the most feedback I received over the past two weeks came in regard to my future trip to Las Vegas. Originally the intention was to invite EVERYONE to Vegas to celebrate my 30th birthday with me. While that is still the tentative plan, I’ve been told it would be a mistake to wait until November to experience Vegas for the first time. In fact I was told I might need a trial run to “get all the crazy out”. Some people informed me significant others should never be invited to Vegas and others suggested that a “girls only” trip is both more fun and more economical (free drinks from single dudes). Based on the aforementioned advice, I am considering a two-tiered approach to crossing Vegas off my list. Anyone interested in experiencing Vegas twice this year, let me know! I’d love to go once in the spring to “get the crazy out” and then again in November to celebrate with all my fans (friends and family)!

So while, once again, nothing gets crossed off the list in this post, I’m pretty sure my liver thinks I’m pretty close to mastering the whiskey thing.