We’ve snuck out of town for some warmer weather. And yes, I know you’re not supposed to tell people you’re away, but let’s be serious:
What happens on vacation ends up on Instagram and I can’t resist sharing a good sunset shot.
All the important and valuable things are coming with me (Because, hello… the important and valuable things aren’t things. They’re people). So, I guess I’m not really worried.
If you’re spending this Monday getting sucked into a Polar Vortex (Do we capitalize that? It nearly froze my eyelashes off last year, so I am guessing something that powerful and terrifying deserves capitalization.), the least I can do is give you a little mental vacation.
A few of my favorite vacation photos
Here are a few of my favorite vacation photos (and memories) I’ve collected over the years.
North Adams, MA
A couple years ago, we spent a long weekend at Porches, visited Mass MoCA (and an old burial ground, because I am a creep) and climbed little mountains with our little dog.
U.S. and British Virgin Islands
And now I want to go on our Honeymoon again. Like, real bad. We stayed on St. John, but took a few sailing and day trips to places like Virgin Gorda. We snorkeled in caves, spied on sea turtles and drank Old English ciders (because gluten allergies do not take vacations no matter how badly one craves a cold beer). I took 9,000 photos. And did lots of floating.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
This is why Maine is called Vacationland.
Aaaaand… a bonus photo of Clark.
The dude knows how to do vacations.
Also On Tap for Today:
Working on some festive posts and giveaways (which I shall draft on the back of a cocktail napkin — attempting to unplug whilst on vacation!)
Every now and then, it’s good to get away. I don’t think it’s considered playing hooky when you’ve made it clear you’ll be out of the office and are using one of the vacation days you’ve been saving up since 2007, but it still feels a bit sneaky to be at the beach on a random Wednesday. That’s where I ended up yesterday, enjoying plenty of sun (responsibly, mostly from under an umbrella like a good pale Irish America gal), catching up on some reading, and splashing in the waves with my one-year-old niece.
I picked up my younger brother bright and early and cruised over the Bourne Bridge while blasting James Taylor, quintessential Cape music. Other artists who belong on a Cape playlist (for a shortcut, simply play the JT Pandora station):
The Doobie Brothers
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Don Henley (and/or The Eagles)
Bonus track (for those who like something a little more current… but not actually current) and a random anecdote: Back to the Earth by Rusted Root. This song was playing when our catamaran sailed back into the harbor after Nick and I did some island hopping on our honeymoon. It was like God himself was DJ-ing our lives (but he probably wasn’t… mostly because I am sure there are more important things to attend to, and I don’t know if he has an iPod); regardless, the timing and sentiment was so perfect.
It’s probably worth mentioning that when the day is done and you’re heading back to the city, feeling a touch overtired and under-caffeinated, you should trade James Taylor for Skrillex. Safety first.
Welp, it’s cold (again). It is, after all, January in Boston. I am wearing layers and layers and reminiscing about a much warmer day, no so long ago, when Nick and jumped ship small boat and swam to shore at Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda. Perhaps a look at some of the 5,004 photos I took (with my snazzy underwater-friendly Nikon, which I bought as a wedding present… to myself) will help warm us up.
Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands, was about an hour by power boat from St. John. We made stopped en route at Tortola to clear customs, which was a bit terrifying, as our first mate had to take our passports and go ashore without us while we waited for the all clear to pick her up. I like to know where my passport is at all times. And who’s touching it. And potentially making counterfeit copies of it (True Life: I watch too many spy and cop shows). Soon enough, though, we were on our way.
As much as I like to plan and be bossy, I got bogged down with wedding details as the big day approached and left the honeymoon to Nick (he did an incredible job). While I intended to be helpful in researching day trips, restaurants, and beaches, I mostly saw one photo of Virgin Gorda and said, “We neeeeeeed to go there.” And then went back to writing out place cards.
If you’re in the neighborhood, say on St. John or St. Thomas, a day trip to The Baths at Virgin Gorda is a must. The baths are incredible ancient rock formations (baths is short for batholith, I think… not bathtub) that line the shore, creating turquoise salt water pools and tranquil caves that beg to be explored. As mesmerizing as the photos I found online were, I wasn’t prepared for how amazing they would be in person. I was captivated long before we got to shore, my mouth hanging open (and my snorkel tube thing taking on water). They are just gorgeous.
Were the baths to be found in American territory, I am certain we would have been required to…
sign some sort of waiver
wear a helmet
Being elsewhere, however, we were able to literally swim up to the rocks, ditch our fins and snorkels and make our way along the sandy path leading through the baths.
We spent a few hours climbing up and over rocks, swimming in tidal pools, and watching the ocean water rush in between the giant boulders. It was, simply put, magical – the perfect playground for my overactive imagination and often distracting curiosity.
I didn’t want to leave, but we sort of had to. From a warmer day on Virgin Gorda, to a much colder day in Boston, it’s good to have pictures like these to remind us how incredible the world is. And how lucky we are to be able to explore it. And that it’s sort of okay to hand your passport over to an unseen stranger.
Also On Tap for Today:
Be sure to check in on elderly friends and neighbors when the weather’s this cold
I wasn’t sure whether to lead with that, or save the best for last. It seems like much of the year (and the end of 2011) felt like a lead up to the wedding, and I loved (nearly) every minute of it. From marriage prep class to cake (pop) tasting, it was quite a bit of fun. Seriously. There was certainly a melt down or two, but when you get to marry your best friend, the silly stuff (like table linen swatches) sort of fades to the background.
A close second to getting married was the time we spent immediately thereafter. Nick and I took a ten day honeymoon to St. John, where we swam, snorkeled, explored, sailed and floated to our hearts’ content.
After months and months of listening to Nick and friends rave about CrossFit, I got my first taste of the proverbial KoolAid while visiting Reebok World Headquarters and Reebok CrossFit One with FitFluential. I was hooked at 3-2-1 go! I joined Crossfit Southie and started going to WODs twice a week with Nick. If you’re looking to be challenged, and to find a great community to keep you going, I highly recommend taking your own sip of the (paleo?) KoolAid.
Clark passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen and therapy dog exams earlier this year (I like to think I did a little work, too, but it’s his name on the certificates…). We’ve made visits to a local children’s hospital (specifically to a pediatric and adolescent psych unit) nearly every week since July and I can say without reservation, it has been the most rewarding and moving volunteer work I have ever done. It’s such a privilege to be able to connect with such wonderful kids, and the adults who care for them. Though some visits are more difficult than others, I always leave feeling like my heart is spilling over. And Clark always looks pretty darn happy, too.
5. Putting down roots in my ‘hood
Perhaps it’s because our condo was good and renovated by the start of 2012, but it feels like we really put down roots this year. From Crossfit Southie to our local coffee shop, our routine is very local. And I love that. I love that strangers know my dog’s name (I don’t love when they try to feed him Cheetos, though). I love that I see the same people, doing the same things, day after day. I love that I have to cross a bridge to leave, and a bridge to come home.
Simply put, I love our hood. Especially when I’m wearing a (Reebok) hood.
6. Making a health plan
After vowing to find a new primary care physician for years, I finally made good on my promise and ended up with not only a great doctor, but an entire team of health care professionals. Though the months of blood tests, elimination diets, poking and prodding got old fast, I am feeling better than I have in years. Like, 10 years. Though chronic illnesses like colitis don’t vanish into thin air, I’ve learned so much about managing symptoms and making changes. This former pastatarian has forgone gluten and lived to tell of it. And the weekly B12 injections? Completely worth the literal pain in the butt.
200 miles, 12 girls, 2 vans. A recipe for disaster? Or the ultimate weekend? Thanks to New Balance, we averted disaster and had the ultimate relay experience. I think of my teammates whenever I hear “Call Me Maybe.” Fortunately, I love my teammates. I hear that song a lot. Still.
This should have been far closer to the top of the list (my brain has a tendency to wander, we know this), but becoming an aunt has been a highlight not only of 2012, but of my semi-young life in total. I could have never imagined loving someone as much as I do my niece. When my older brother called me from the hospital to say that Nora Elizabeth had finally arrived, I cried and cried and cried. And when I held her the first time, welp… I cried and cried and cried. She is just incredible.
Being a guest of Nespresso and Emirates Team New Zealand on a VIP boat (complete with the best espresso) in Newport Harbor felt like something that should be reserved for a, welp, VIP. Somehow, I got a spot on one of the boats and enjoyed a front row view of the match races this summer. It was, quite simply, incredible.
Is it terribly rude to tease you with more photos of the tropics, especially now that it’s winter coat weather in Boston? After scrolling through approximately nine million and four photos from not one, but three cameras (underwater, over-water, and please-don’t-drop-the-iPhone-in-the-water), I’ve got some honeymoon greatest hits to share.
Greatest meal with a view: Tropical Greek salad with fresh mangoes and watermelon, Caneel Bay
When your food options are already limited, an island is not necessarily the best place to be. To be honest, I think my stomach wanted to take a flight back to Boston on several occasions. There were a few bright spots though, including this tropical Greek salad, served with a view of crystal clear waters, at Caneel Bay. I love the combination of salty feta and cool watermelon, but never thought to pair the two in a salad. Remind me of this next summer, please?
Greatest live entertainment: The crowd at Driftwood David’s
At the recommendation of the concierge at the Westin, Nick and I took an open air taxi into town early on in our stay to check out Driftwood David’s. The food was good, and the atmosphere was even better. Apparently, they have the best ribs “on the planet” and run out almost every night. I paid no attention to the meat, and sang along to the live entertainment… both on and off the stage.
For most of the meal, Nick and I were the only two diners at David’s, which meant we had front row seats to a pair of long-time island transplants, singin’ songs and tellin’ tales (including the one about the time “Brady got drunk, passed out in the bathroom, and we had to take the door down…. or what about the time you fell out of the Jeep?”). Our waiter, Mike, was extremely friendly and warm. We also chatted with a woman named Joyce, who knew we were on our honeymoon thanks to my “giant goofy smile.” For the record, my giant goofy sparkly rings were out of sight. It had to have been the perma-smile.
The crowd at Driftwood David’s made us feel right at home.
Greatest non-human encounter: TIE
For me, it was swimming with sea turtles
For Nick, it was getting nuzzled by a donkey
I lost count, so I can’t be sure, but I think we saw five sea turtles while honeymooning. We saw two while on boats, and the other three were swimming right alongside us either on snorkel trips or while floating at the beach. They are such lovely, graceful creatures. I dove down to see two close up, one at Christmas Cove (Great St. James Island, USVI) and the other at Scott Beach (Caneel Bay, St. John). The one at Caneel Bay had a little fish friend swimming behind his shell (it’s that thing that looks like a really long tail). I thought that was cute.
Nick preferred the land lovers and set out to find Caneel Bay’s wild donkeys. We were told how friendly and affectionate they were when we checked in, despite the numerous “Do not touch the donkeys” signs posted about the property.
I mostly was afraid to catch some sort of communicable donkey disease. Or get a hoof to the face. I did like when they trotted past us at the beach, though.
Greatest day trip: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Cooper Island and Norman Island (British Virgin Islands)
We took two trips while staying at the Westin, the first for an afternoon snorkel at Christmas Cove, and the second to several of the British Virgin Islands. I had read about the baths at Virgin Gorda and knew that I wanted to make the trip out there.
As I am sure you can imagine, these photos do not do it justice. We swam from our boat to Devil’s Bay and spent a little over an hour exploring the batholiths and caves along the shore.
I could have stayed all day. We also stopped at Cooper Island for a quick lunch, and spent time snorkeling in the caves at Norman Island, which is said to be the inspiration for Treasure Island. It was quite the day.
Greatest indulgence: Ocean-side cabana massages at Caneel Bay
As a wedding present, Nick’s team gave us a pair of massages in the ocean-side cabanas overlooking Hawksnest Beach. We enjoyed hour-long Swedish massages as the sun set, with the sound of waves crashing just below us. As we walked back to our villa I thought, “Welp. I can die happy.” And then I wondered, “What can I invent so that I can become impossibly rich and do this every day?”
Greatest sign from the island: Another TIE
One was in a taxi, the other at a shop in Mongoose Junction.
Both represented the island life so well. Slow down. Be happy. Things will get done eventually.
Greatest beach: Scott Beach at Caneel Bay
We spent much of our second week on St. John at Scott Beach. The water was the most gorgeous shade of blue, the sand a perfect white, the snorkeling was excellent, and there was plenty of shade from the trees along the shore.
Need I say more?
Greatest husband for me: Mine.
The hits, they just keep on coming.
Also On Tap for Today:
Safe travels to everyone hitting the road for Thanksgiving
Nick and I are back from a blissful two weeks on Saint John. We snorkeled in the caves that (allegedly) inspired Treasure Island, took day trips that required passports, watched deer graze from our back deck, explored sugar mill ruins, and swam alongside sea turtles. The best part? My husband isn’t sick of me yet. Husband. Muhahaha.
This is someone else’s husband (pardon my creepiness), but if I had to sum up the trip in one photo it would be this:
More to come on both the wedding and honeymoon as soon as I finish getting the sand out of my shoes.