A Travellerspoint blog


On my birthday, it’s all about ME

(Maine, that is)

Peace, Love, & Lobsters


Our first trip to Maine was in August 2007 after we ran across an advertisement for the 60th annual lobster festival in Rockland, ME.

What could be better than a tent filled with all the lobster you could eat?

What we didn’t know is how Maine would instantly charm us. We were immediately under its spell. Bright blue skies, blueberries, fresh seafood, salty air, and wildflowers literally bursting from every crevasse…..what was not to love?

We returned in July 2009 for the 62nd annual lobster festival….and again in September 2011. We didn’t make it back until September 2020, during my blog hiatus (sorry, you haven’t seen that one!). Our last trip to Maine was in April 2021 (nope…you haven’t seen that one either…)

The one thing I seem to do on every trip is get a ridiculous photo with my food, so here’s to 16 years of playing with my food!


When I saw that Erick Baker, my favorite local singer/songwriter from home was doing a show in midcoast Maine ON MY BIRTHDAY….how could I not go?


A bad day travelling is better than a good day in the office


Absolute rubbish.

I woke up early on travel day. I always do. We had to be at the airport around noon, so I wanted to have plenty of time to get ready, do some last minute packing, prepare the house, and drop off the dogs.

Instead, I saw a midnight message from Delta that our flight from TN to NY had been delayed until 3:00 p.m., getting us to LGA after our connecting flight to Bangor had already departed.

I spent the next hour wrangling with websites and apps and airline agents, still in my pajamas, with my dogs on the floor staring at me wondering about breakfast.

$700 extra dollars later, I managed to get us on an American Airlines flight to LGA. The layover would be tight, and we’d have to change terminals, but it was the best we could do to even attempt to make our flight to Maine that afternoon.

I ran into the bedroom where Matt was still in bed. Why? Because he does nothing to prepare for a trip rather than put on his clothes and show up.

“Get up! We have to leave right now!”

We blew out of the house faster than if it had been on fire, feeling completely disheveled and unprepared.

Our flight now required an extra layover and two airlines. We’d fly American from TYS to CLT with a one hour layover, and then we’d fly CLT to LGA. Once we got to LGA, we would have one hour to get from the American terminal and gate to the Delta terminal and gate. Having never been to LGA, I had no idea if this was even possible.

“All we can do is try,” I said as we boarded our flight to Charlotte on time.

We’d have been fine if the plane had actually LEFT on time.

We sat. And sat. And sat some more.

By the time we left, we were 30 minutes late.

We arrived in CLT and guess what? We sat.

We were still sitting on the plane in the second to last row waiting for the doors to open when a notice from American popped up on my phone.

“We board in 15 minutes,” I told Matt.

I felt sick. I felt dizzy. I needed to pee, but there would be no time for that.

When we got off the plane, we had to get from the far end of terminal E to the far end of terminal B in less than 10 minutes. With luggage.

Y’all, I’m no runner.

But as Forrest Gump would say, “I was runnnnning.”

I was sweating and literally sucking wind with a side cramp when we got to the gate as the very last passengers were boarding. Menopausal women should not run in unforgiving jeans and inappropriate footwear. I felt like I was self combusting.

“That sucked,” I told Matt. “I never want to do that again.”

I had no idea we’d be doing it again just two hours later, with the added bonus of a crowded airport, a freaking shuttle ride….through traffic lights, and a terminal change which meant GOING THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN.

“We’re not going to make it,” I said to Matt as we sat through the 3rd red light on the LGA shuttle, knowing we still had to get through security and run God-knows-how-far. Our flight to Maine was boarding in 10 minutes.

“We’re not going to make it,” I said again, all of my beautiful travel plans running though my head.

All of you who have ever had a flight cancellation delay know exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s like in the movies where someone is about to die and their life runs through their head, only this is with rental cars and non-refundable hotel rooms. And those of us who are neurotic planners have the added agony of thinking of the meal we already knew we were going to order from the menu we had memorized that we’d never get to eat.

Somehow….we made it….by the skin of our teeth.

We ran to the gate just as the doors were shutting.

Securely in our seats, I think we breathed our first breath in over 7 minutes.

When the flight attendant came by and asked what we’d like to drink….

“A double bloody Mary, please,” I said.

Matt leaned over, “Make it two.”



Having survived travel day and used up all our cuss words for the month, we landed in Bangor, Maine, where it was raining like there would be no tomorrow.


Shoot me, please.

This travel day just continued to decline.

“Ayah, be careful, it’s a wicked pissah out theyah,” the airport attendant said as he pointed us toward the rental cars.

No matter. We were HERE.

We climbed into the Mini and headed toward Blue Hill.


By the time we reached the Barncastle Inn, the rain had stopped. We had planned to eat dinner there that night, so all we had to do was go to our room, change our clothes, and walk downstairs to their adorable restaurant.


Barncastle was absolutely lovely. The 1884 Victorian Inn had only 5 suites and was all turrets and archways and eyebrow windows. As we walked into the grand foyer, I was instantly smitten.


The only thing more charming was the official greeter, Leroy, the owners’ Bernese Mountain Dog.


Our suite, Room 5, had a clawfoot bathtub that was the first bathtub in all of Blue Hill. The tub, made of solid cast iron, took 10 men to carry to the second floor. That was the best bath soak of all time.


Once we had washed the stink (both literally and figuratively) of travel day off, we headed downstairs.

The Barncastle had a wonderfully cozy and warm bar and adjoining restaurant.


We were shown to our table, where of course I didn’t need to look at the menu because I did, in fact, have it memorized.

We ordered some cocktails to take the edge off.


Neither of us had breakfast or lunch, thanks to spending the entire day mad-dashing from one location to another, so all we had subsisted on at this point was vodka and airplane pretzels. We dove into a plate of warm, salty pretzel rolls slathered with Bavarian mustard butter like we had just spent 40 years in the desert.


When it was time to order, Matt decided to go with the mussels swimming in downeast cider, whole grain mustard, crème fraiche and herbs.


I never met a pizza I didn’t like, so when I saw “Flammkuchen (it’s like a pizza!)” on the menu, I knew I had to have it.

“I’ll have the Flammakoochin….” I said, “No, wait, Flam-Coochn?” I looked at the waitress for help.

“Flahm-kookn,” she said.

Seriously, can’t we just call it pizza?

Not quite pizza, the flammkuchen was a crispy flatbread topped with savory gruyere, caramelized onions and smoked shrimp. However you pronounce it, it was delicious.


We finished up with the rhubarb pistachio cake with a pineapple hibiscus puree and lemony whipped cream.


There was nothing left to do but fall blissfully asleep and be thankful that this day was over.

Forecast: 100% chance of lobster


Lobster is the primary reason I come to Maine. Sure, I love the charming shaker shingle cape cods, the colorful buoys hanging from shopfronts, the riotous wildflowers….but the lobster is my one true love.

So, it was a guarantee that there would be lobster EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But first, breakfast.


We enjoyed breakfast in the lovely library at the Barncastle Inn, but you know who loved it more?



It was clear that Leroy was both malnourished and unloved, it had probably been at least 5 minutes since he’d last eaten or had a hug, so Matt proceeded to get both himself and poor Leroy in trouble with the innkeeper for feeding him cake under the table.


We wouldn’t be spending a second night at Barncastle, so we gave Leroy some final noggin pats, loaded up the Mini, and headed north, toward Acadia National Park.


Yes, Acadia in July is more “peopley” than I like, but I can’t come to this part of Maine without seeing those amazing views. They take my breath. Also, despite the crowds, you can always find some quiet spaces.


It was unseasonably hot in Maine that day.

Do you know why most people go Maine in the summer? Because when it’s hotter than hell and half of Georgia in the rest of the country, it’s downright pleasant in Maine. “Not too hot” is how summer is typically described. Perfect. Sunny. 75.

We brilliantly chose to go to Maine at the tail end of what was the record for the longest consecutive run of high temperatures in Maine SINCE THEY STARTED RECORDING THE TEMPERATURE. The headline the week before we traveled to Maine, “Hottest week of the summer coming in Maine.” The forecast stated, “…temps well into the 90s statewide by Thursday and Friday.

Did I mention that it was Friday?

Because it was getting hotter by the minute and the park was so crowded you’d have thought they were giving away free puppies to each car that entered the gate, we decided not to do any hiking that day.


We did get out and walk back to Jordan Pond, though. It wasn’t too crowded, probably thanks to the small parking lot and the fact that most of the inhabitants of the cars in that small lot were too busy shoveling down popovers and lemonade at the Jordan Pond House.

This is my single favorite spot in Acadia National Park and I couldn’t imagine a visit without seeing it.


At this point, it was so hot the a/c in our car whimpered and whispered… “no more.” It was blowing, but it wasn’t blowing cold air. Matt and I were hotter than the Devil’s armpit and probably smelled just as bad.

We exited Acadia and made the short drive to Northeast Harbor where we popped out and took in the beautiful views.


At this point, my inner old lady was reaching her maximum temperature and air conditioning did not become a want, it became a need. Along with the second most important thing to a woman over 50, a bathroom.

We pulled into Abel’s Lobster for blessed a/c, cool cocktails, lobster, and a glorious bathroom.


We stood at the hostess stand. As sweat beaded on my brow and squished around in my bra…heck…even my butt was sweating…. the fresh-faced young woman in front of us didn’t seem to notice that it was 457 degrees outside.

“Outside seating?” she asked.

I looked around the patio, filled with other people who clearly did not know that we were in the 3rd circle of hell.

I looked back at her and my face must have given me away.

“Or inside?” she asked.

“INSIDE,” Matt and I shouted in unison.

Aaaahhh…..who needs nature and waterfront views when you can have cold, artificial air?????

The only other couple inside was an 80-something man and woman.

I guess it was official.

We were old folks now.

I slithered into my chair with a gleeful sigh and ordered a mai tai.


God bless air conditioning.

After crab dip, lobster, and blueberry pie, all was again right with the world.


Until I remembered I had to get back in the hot box, aka, the Mini with no air.

It was a rather toasty drive to Searsport, where we had rented a small oceanfront cottage for the remainder of the trip.

The Depot was the most perfect, adorable, and wonderfully air-conditioned little Maine cottage I had ever seen. There were flowers everywhere and the most stunning view.


As if on cue, two bald eagles swooped down into the back yard, flying together back and forth over the water as soon as we arrived.

There could be no better place to spend my birthday.


We cooled off, cleaned up, and headed outside to enjoy the breeze that had kicked up (ushering in a cold front…woooo!) with a nice bottle of wine before heading to dinner.


Let me preface dinner by stating that Matt and I don’t typically dine at really high end places. We love food, but we are not foodies. I will choose nachos over fine dining 100% of the time if it’s truly up to me. I like my pasta with red sauce and powdered parmesan cheese. My favorite food is pizza. I love canned peas. I shop at Price Less, not Whole Foods.

We don’t eat at restaurants that have their own truffle dogs or forage for their own mushrooms in the woods. If I saw “tapioca pearls and royal kaluga caviar drizzled with champagne granite and coconut chiffon,” I would ask if it came with ketchup.

Small food, no matter how pretty, makes us sad.

We are not extravagant restaurant people.

So I wasn’t sure what had possessed me to secure a dinner reservation at a historic restaurant nearby that was described as “destination dining” and only offered a nightly chef’s tasting menu. I had no idea how much said tasting menu was or what would be on it. I had an idea when I was required to use my credit card to secure a reservation.

If I am completely honest, I was shamelessly drawn in by the promise of a $40 old fashioned. I needed to know.

I mean, it WAS my birthday weekend.

The Hichborn was “just down the road a piece,” in nearby Stockton Springs. When we arrived, I saw a lovely historic house surrounded by flowers. So far, so good.


There were several small dining rooms inside, my best guess was that the entire restaurant seated about 30 people. We were seated at a beautiful little table that sat tucked inside a bay window, almost like our own private space.

The pre-fixe menu was on the table, along with a cocktail menu.

The menu didn’t have prices.


So…at this point…why not go for the old fashioned that cost more than I would typically spend on my entire meal?

I mean, I WAS my birthday weekend.

What the hell. Matt got a really expensive cocktail too. Why not?


Deciding to just go all in, we added the wine pairing (which was an amazing idea at the time and a terrible idea the next morning) and the optional oyster course. At this point, the meal was clearly going to cost more than my first car, so we might as well go all the way.

And then, we dined. Of course I am going to describe all 8 courses to ensure I get my money’s worth.

The first thing they did was bring us teeny tiny little spoons.


Matt got scared.

“I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like anything I can eat with this spoon,” he said.

It was small, but mighty. First up was an amouse bouche, a chilled cucumber soup with fava, arugula, spinach, and mint, topped with cucumber granita. I would typically snort-laugh if I ordered something with “granita,” but here I was, being all fancy.


Next up was a baby gem lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, and bread crumbs paired with a Viognier from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.


Then the oysters came out and they were….to be quite honest….life changing. Paired with a 2016 Cava Gran Reserva Brut from Spain, these Norumbega oysters were exquisite, topped with a ramp vinaigrette.


At this point, even Matt was won over. He talked about those oysters for DAYS.

If I am honest, when I saw the next dish on the menu, my first thought was, “Oh hell no.”

I remember my mom had an old 1960’s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook when I was a kid. You know the one? With the red and white picnic plaid cover?

Anyway, I loved to look at it and I would flip through it like it was the world’s best picture book.

And there it was.

Right between the jellied bullion ring with frankenfurters and the ham & lima bean sadness casserole…...a raw hamburger with a raw egg on it….

“Impress your guests with this elegant beef tartare,” it promised.

For a kid, it was the thing nightmares of made of.

I have never gotten that image out of my head. I ripped the page to shreds and hid it beneath my Legos just to be on the safe side.

When I saw that our next course was a beef tenderloin tartare with a rainbow farm egg…..I mouthed a silent “over my dead body.” No matter the 2022 French Beaujolais that came with.

Just as the oysters won Matt over….it was the tartare that won me over. This was my single favorite course of the entire meal. I kid you not. Freaking amazing what they did with raw meat, eggs, and radishes.


Don’t get me wrong, just because we had admitted that we were actually enjoying this somewhat high-brow dining experience, I was still me. You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

I spent the next 10 minutes imitating the waiter’s slightly exaggerated description telling us that we were drinking the “bougelais made from the gamay grapes,” which I found endlessly entertaining.

“We’re drinking the booooooghuuuuulaaaaay from the gaaaaamaaaaayyyy,” I reminded Matt, repeatedly, in my best Kardashian voice.

It was like that time we got upgraded to fist class and we spent the first 15 minutes pushing all the buttons. We enjoyed it, but it was clear we didn’t belong.

No matter! On to the next course, which was a pork filet with heirloom potatoes and fermented napa cabbage with sage paired with a 2021 Red Rhone Blend from CA.


At this point, the wine was really hitting.

“Bougelais….from the gamay…”

Before the dessert course, there was a lovely palate cleanser, which allowed Matt a second shot at the tiny little spoon.


For our final course (so we thought), there was a lovely olive oil cake with lemon curd, Maine blueberries, and whipped mascarpone with a glass of Spanish Moscatel Dorado Sherry.


And just like the old Ginzu knife commercials from our childhood…But wait! There’s more!

To keep you from crying over your bill, they deliver it with snickerdoodle cookies.


When I asked Matt how much it was, his exact words were, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Matt cried while I ate the cookies.

We are never going to be those people that eat like this regularly, or even annually, but once in a blue moon, it’s fun to just say, “What the hell” and order a $40 cocktail.

I mean…it WAS my birthday weekend.

Party like a Lob-star

It was my birthday, and it was official.

I used to be “hot stuff,” now…..


I was moving slow that morning. The bougelais from the gamay was thundering through my head like a racehorse.

We settled in with coffee and did nothing more than watch the fishing boats go by. The good news was that the cold front had moved in and it was considerably cooler.


Once I had hydrated and Adviled, I was right as rain so we headed to Belfast to grab some breakfast at Traci’s diner.

Lobster for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do.


If I have said it once on this blog, I have said it a hundred times…God love Matt for putting up with me and my crazy ideas.

When he asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, probably the one answer he was NOT expecting was, “Walk alpacas.”

Meet Gaius and Indie.


Indie was a sweetheart. Gaius was a jackass.

Obviously, I got Gaius.

But I had a bag of alpaca snacks and that made him tolerable.


I had decided to spend the day driving through the countryside, from Searsport to Camden, parallel to the coast. It was a chance to see a different side of midcoast maine.

Our next stop was at Glendarragh Lavender Farm. My absolute favorite scent in the world is lavender. I knew I would love it. What surprised me was how much Matt loved it!


After we toured the farm and bought some lovely items to take home, we continued our drive deep into the countryside to Sweetgrass Farm Distillery. We had visited this on one of our prior trips and loved the beautiful grounds, their award winning gin, and the quiet, laid back atmosphere.

We did a quick tasting and then purchased some cocktails to enjoy outside in the sunshine.


Then it was on to Cellardoor Winery, another place we had visited previously and loved. On the way, there as a birthday surprise….my first oreo cow!!


Yes, Oreo cows are a thing.

Cellardoor is a sprawling property and is beautiful inside and out.

We had reserved an outdoor seating area, but it was so cool and lovely inside we asked if we could be moved inside. Not only did they move us inside, they gave us their best seating area. It was another lovely birthday surprise!


Settled into comfy chairs, with plenty of snacks and wine, we had a lovely wine lunch.

We headed home for the afternoon because we had a special evening planned…it was the Erick Baker show in Castine!

We rested up and had cake. Cake before dinner? Um…yeah. It’s my birthday.


Because I wanted to be sure we’d make the show on time, I had made dinner reservations at the Homeport Inn and Tavern, so close to our cottage that we could have walked.

It was a lovely place, all gleaming wood and dim lighting, with a live jazz duo in the adjoining room. Cocktails, mussels, fish and chips…it might not have been as fancy as the Hichborn but my dinner was fried and came with ketchup and that’s tops in my book.


The first time Matt and I saw Erick Baker perform https://www.erickbaker.com/ he was at a tiny little place in downtown Knoxville in 2008. We loved him instantly.

Over the years, we have watched Erick get married, have a daughter, host a TV show, and become slightly famous. His music is amazing and to watch him perform it live is magical.

We have been lucky enough to host him several times for shows at our home and over the years, we have come to call him friend. We don’t only love his music and watching him perform, he holds a special place in our hearts.

When I saw that he was doing a show on my actual birthday in midcoast Maine, I knew what I wanted to do for my birthday.

Matt LOVES Maine and Erick, so talking him into it was easy.

So here we were, pulling up to a beautiful old mansion in Castine to watch a very small, intimate show.


The Elms was gorgeous. We grabbed some drinks at the bar and had a chance to talk to Erick for a while before grabbing our seats at our table.

To say Erick Baker does a great live show is such a gross understatement. It’s like saying that $40 old fashioned at The Hichborn was “ok.”

It was an amazing night. He had asked for my favorites before the show and made sure to play every one, even leading the room in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”


I never wanted the show to end, but it was late, it was raining, and we had an hour drive back to Searsport in the dark, so we hugged Erick goodbye, grabbed the world’s worst selfie, and called it a night.

Oh, what a night!

All the aaaaaaahhhhhhhs…..


Lobstah, chowdah, oystah…..

Today, we were going coastal.

We planned to drive south along the coast from Searsport to Rockland, sampling the views and seafood along the way.

First up was Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast. Lobster at 10:00 am? Why not?


This has always been my favorite of the lobster pounds because I love sitting outside in the brilliant Maine sunshine, watching the boats in Belfast Harbor.

With belly’s full of lobster, we stopped in quaint, downtown Belfast to do a little shopping. Obviously we HAD to go into the Blue Alpaca store and buy some socks and hats. I mean, we were practically FAMILY now.


Like Hobbits, it was time for second breakfast.

Shopping made us hungry again, so we made another stop in Lincolnville. Lincolnville is literally a speck of a town on one street with a sweeping harbor, book ended by 2 lobster pounds. We stopped at McLaughlin’s because I love their outdoor setting.


Buttery lobster rolls and creamy fish chowder made a great snack.

What I had been looking forward to the most, however, was oyster Sunday at Primo. We had discovered oyster Sunday on our 2020 trip and it was amazing. The restaurant opened the doors to its lovely barn, set among the vegetable and herb gardens where they grow much of their own food, with tables scattered about the lawn and wildflowers and sunshine creating a perfect summer haze as we sipped chilled champagne and sucked down raw oysters. I loved everything about it.

I was so happy to see that oyster Sunday at Primo still lives. From 1 – 4, they dish out lovely small plates and $2 oysters with live music and chilled wine.

We didn’t want to miss it. Knowing it would be popular, we arrived promptly at 1:00 only to see that there was a line of about 40 people waiting at the entrance. Apparently, everyone else loved everything about it too.

Thinking this was a line waiting to be seated, we assumed the worst and left in defeat.

Matt could tell I was grossly disappointed.

“Maybe it was just an initial line for people who showed up early and, once they are seated, it won’t be that bad?” I ventured.

We agreed to head down to the Rockland Harbor and walk for about 30 minutes and then return to see if anything had changed.

The harbor was lovely! They have a long path that winds around the waterfront from one end of town to the other.


Not feeling very optimistic, we returned to Primo to find that the line was short. I hopped out while Matt found a parking space. What I realized quickly was that the line was because it was essentially counter service.

You wait in line, you order, you find a seat, and they bring your food to you. The long line initially was because so many showed up right at 1:00. Whew!


It was easy to find a shady spot to sit on their huge, sprawling property. Live house music played, rose flowed, and chilled platters of icy oysters came out in an endless parade.

We were seated with a great view of everyone waiting in line and it was the best people watching ever.


Satisfied, we headed to Camden for some more shopping. I love Maine Sea Bags and grabbed a wallet to go with the bag I bought on a previous trip. I also love Swans Island blankets. I drool over them every time we go to Maine. I finally bit the bullet and bought one. Yes, it was overpriced, but dang, I love that blanket.


We couldn’t be in Camden without stopping at River Ducks ice cream.


We spent the next hour wandering the harbor admiring the old boats. I love old boats, and I cannot lie.


I had booked us on a sunset sail and we had about an hour to kill, so we headed to the rooftop bar at the beautiful 16 Bay View hotel. Sitting above the historic hotel, The View is just that…..THE VIEW.



We enjoyed drinks and snacks with the best view in town.

We arrived at Sloop Angacaa right on time, wine and snacks in hand. Anjacaa is a 54 foot sloop built in 1973. Unlike most sunset sails in Camden, which carry 20 – 50 passengers, Anjacaa only carries 6, so it’s a significantly more intimate and private experience.

As we sat snuggled in our two seats on the bow, with blankets, wine, cheese and fruit, I watched as the other boats cruised out with so many people on them most were standing shoulder to shoulder.

No thank you.

What a magical night it was! The water was like glass, the sky clear, and not only did we see the sun set, we saw the moon rise. Just beautiful.


It was an absolutely perfect way to end a wonderful trip.

Back home now, I curl up on the sofa with my baby soft Swans Island blanket with visions of puffy, white hydrangeas next to faded shaker shingles; endless glassy seas dotted with wooden boats; the salty smell of the ocean; and crisp rose with ice cold oysters.

I wonder if Maine misses me too.


Posted by vicki_h 00:09 Archived in USA Tagged coast lobster seafood camden maine belfast acadia northeast rockland rockport midcoast_maine searsport Comments (1)

Grassy Key - To Do Something Right, You Need to Do it Twice

“Whatever happened to Vicki_H?”

“I heard she went off the grid and is living in a yurt in Montana with 27 rescue dogs.”

“No, no, no….she’s down in St. John running a bar called the Blue Bucket.”

“Not St. John, it was the Bahamas, and it’s not a bar, she’s running a shelter for stray peacocks.”

“I heard she died from mixing Pop Rocks and Mountain Dew.”


Life happened to Vicki H, folks. So. Much. Life.

I was on a TV show. We had a hurricane. We lost a boat. We lost a house. I cut my hair off. I grew it back. We had a pandemic. I stopped highlighting my hair. I turned 50. I celebrated my 20th anniversary. My Dad broke his hip. We recovered from a hurricane. My Dad got better. I turned 51. We bought another house in Abaco. My dog got paralyzed. My dog recovered. My mother-in-law passed away. My mom celebrated her 5 year cancer-free anniversary. We bought a boat. I turned 52.

And now I’m turning 53.

Good gravy. Where did the time go?

Despite my absentee status, I am alive and well. Better than I deserve to be. I have not lost my love for travel, but just failed to write about it for a while. I have finally realized there is no way I can go back and catch up 4 years of trips. (and there were some really good ones, y’all!). But maybe I can just start today and go forward. If I get the time to do some looksbacks, I’ll do my best!

But today, in honor of the big 5-3 coming up, let’s talk about my birthday last year.


The Keys to a Happy Birthday

Two fifty-somethings in the middle cays.

I only had 3 days. So it had to be quick and easy. But good.

Like a microwave cake.

My microwave cake was a cheap flight down to FLL and a rental convertible driving through the Middle Keys.

Not quite a bakery cake, but definitely better than a Moon Pie.

FLL to Grassy Key

I used miles for free flights on Allegiant to Fort Lauderdale, which seemed like a great idea until we actually made the drive from the airport to Key Largo, seeing nothing more exciting that a ton of hot traffic. Strike one.

I also made the less than stellar decision to rent a convertible. Again, my vision and reality did not quite line up. They Keys really require a tall vehicle. We saw lots of guard rails that I am sure had beautiful water views on the other side. Strike two.

I also decided to use the Turo app for the first time. While Turo and the vehicle were absolutely fantastic, we were totally unprepared for the extra steps that one does not encounter when renting a car from a car rental agency at the airport. Like the owner forgetting to send us information to get to the car and waiting outside in the heat until she saw our frantic messages. And having to send her a photo of Matt holding his driver’s license with the car in the background…and waiting for her to approve it…then waiting for the code to get into the car. But wait! There’s more! And then having to photograph every single inch of the car and send her the photos to document the car’s condition prior to starting the engine.

Strike three.


By this time, we’d been in the hot parking garage at the FLL airport for over an hour sitting beside a car we couldn’t get into and sweating buckets. We were ready to get this show on the road!


Fast forward 2 long, boring, hot hours later (in addition to being too low to see anything, a convertible is a very HOT option when sitting in south FL traffic….), when we stopped at Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar before crossing over to Key Largo to enjoy some boobies.

Not that kind of boobies.

THIS kind of boobies.


Frozen boobies were definitely in order to get the birthday weekend started.


Our next stop was Marker 88 in Islamorada for lunch with a view.


We continued on, making a final stop at Robbie’s of Islamorada, where I had heard I could find an epic bloody Mary. It was indeed epic!

Yes, yes...I know Robbie's also has some big fish you can feed, but who cares about big fish when there are bloody Marys with BACON to be consumed?


I also found a painting I couldn’t resist. Is it just me, or does that parrot look like it knows something?


We made the rest of the drive, stopping a few times so we could see more than the concrete barriers and guard rails.


We finally arrived at Grassy Key and checked into Grassy Flats Resort.

I had a heck of a time trying to decide where to stay and had narrowed it down to several places, ultimately choosing Grassy Flats because it had an “adults only” building and pool (don’t judge) and because it appeared small and laid back, both qualities that appeal to my hotel-despising nature.

The Wreckers House at Grassy Flats was absolute perfection. Our room was beautiful with an outstanding view. The resort itself was low key and had a relaxed, bohemian vibe that we really loved. The grounds were absolutely lovely.


Our favorite part, no surprise here, was the resort bar, Barrel and Bale. It was breezy and very boho chic, with soft chill music playing whenever we went it. They also made incredibly good craft cocktails.


We grabbed a couple of drinks and headed straight for the pool. The “adults only” pool….that is…


After some down time, we got cleaned up and headed out for “birthday night.”


We had booked a sunset boat trip out of Marathon. We weren’t really expecting much, but it turned out to be very pretty.


Next, it was on to FL Keys Steak & Lobster. It had stellar reviews, but when we pulled up, it reminded me of the old school seafood restaurants we used to go to in 1977 when my parents would take us to Gulf Shores.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” was spot on. The food was fantastic and we ate so much, I didn’t have room for birthday cake!


Grassy Key & Marathon


The next morning we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise.

Looking for something “different,” I had booked a jet ski cruise. We headed back to Marathon.


It was not a smooth day.

Anyone who has been on a jet ski in the ocean when it was not a smooth day knows exactly what I mean by that.

For the next 45 minutes, I alternated between desperately hanging onto Matt while my butt flew up off the seat every 10 seconds and worrying about being suddenly launched out to sea and eaten by a shark or getting a salt water enema. By the time we reached our destination, my tailbone voted for being eaten by a shark.

While it was a truly beautiful spot, I was mostly just happy to get off the stupid ocean bronco for a while. We explored for a while and, when I felt my butt could take it, we hopped back on for the return trip.


Now I remember why I stopped riding these things when I was 25.

When the jet ski ride was over, or as I like to call it, “Bullriding 101,” we headed to Castaway for lunch. I only hoped they had soft seats.


On pretty much every FL Keys “Can’t Miss It” list, Castaway was the perfect kind of eclectic, divey, locals place with incredibly fresh seafood, unique dishes, and great water views.

But if I'm completely honest, they had me at "padded chairs."


Known for their sushi, of course we had to try it. Amazing!

We also sampled the “tunachos” and the spicy tuna dog, a charred hot dog topped with spicy tuna, avocado, panko, green onions, masago, spicy mayo, and eel sauce. So yummy that I momentarily forgot about my sore tush.


On the way back to Grassy Key, we saw some more lovely water views (aka, guard rails and concrete barriers).


We had tropical cocktails on our mind, so we stopped at a cute tiki bar. When we walked into Sunset Grille, there were at least 12,897 people in there and at least ¾ of them were running, screaming children (don’t judge), so we made a u-turn and headed back to the car.

A little farther down the road, we came to Island Fish Company, another cute tiki bar that was crowd free and didn’t have a plethora of small screaming persons running about.

We sat at the breezy bar facing the water and had a couple of drinks before heading back to Grassy Flats.


I already told you that the bar at Grassy Flats had already won us over, so we headed down before dinner to have a drink and fell in love with their Mai Tai.


Then we made the .4 mile drive to Hideaway Café.

I will admit that I struggled with my decision to make a reservation at Hideaway Café. It’s no secret that I like to pour over the interwebs before I make decisions about where to go when I travel. By the time I actually go, it’s like I have already been there.

Hideaway Café has almost no online presence. While it was very highly recommended, information was limited. Add to that the fact that I actually had to call and speak to an actual person to make a reservation, and I nearly lost it.

Seriously, I'll struggle for 45 minutes with an online reservation system before I'll call an actual person and spend 30 seconds making a reservation. I'd sooner send a messenger pigeon with my request tied to its leg than speak to someone on the phone.

But something in my gut said to give it a try.

When we pulled into the Rainbow Bend Resort, my apprehension doubled.


It was pink, old school, and we were greeted with a giant sign straight out of 1957. What we didn’t realize yet was that this quaint resort was a hidden gem with lovely rooms, a stunning beachfront view, and an absolutely top notch dining experience.

We headed up the stairs to the Hideaway Café. When we walked inside, we were greeted by the glow of candlelight, white tablecloths, and roses on every table. Not to mention a view of the ocean from every seat.

With upscale French cuisine, fresh seafood, and a lovely wine list, I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. We ate so much….I still didn’t have room for cake.


Grassy Key to Key Largo


Grassy Key is known for kiteboarding…something Matt has always wanted to try, so we grabbed some bagels and he hit the beach for a kiteboarding lesson, while I hung out at the beach.

It was now 2 days post-birthday, and I still hadn’t had a birthday cake…a first! So, I did the only thing I could. I bought myself a key lime pie and ate it for breakfast.


As I sat and watched Matt’s 4 hour introductory kiteboarding lesson, I couldn’t help but ask myself….why would one want to strap oneself to a giant kite and attempt to ride a surfboard? As expected, a first lesson is more “kite-dragging” than “boarding.” The longer I watched, the happier I was sitting on the beach with a mai tai and pie.


Then, as soon as it began, our time at Grassy Flats was over. We had booked a room in Key Largo for our final night to make the drive time to the airport shorter the following day.

We headed back up toward Key Largo, stopping at Lorelei’s for appetizers, the Postcard Inn Tiki Bar for drinks, and the Fish House for more appetizers to break up the drive.


We were feeling good, with bellies full of drunken shrimp and key lime martinis when we arrived at Azul del Mar, a small waterfront guest house in Key Largo.

Want to know how to kill a perfect day drinking buzz in 7 words or less?

“I locked the keys in the trunk.”

Our little convertible was parked in the parking lot. While Matt went into the registration office, I thought I would be helpful and get our luggage out. In the process of doing so, I put the keys inside the trunk and proceeded to close the trunk.

We searched for a trunk release inside the car for 30 minutes with no luck. There was no car manual in the glove compartment. I Googled. Nothing.


What we found was a way to get into the trunk from inside the car, we thought, so Matt set about dismantling the car piece by piece in the 97 degree heat, sweating and cursing.

I honestly didn’t think he could get any angrier at me.

That was, until I found the trunk release that I said I couldn’t find, after Matt had been sweating and cursing for 45 minutes trying to dismantle the back seat of a Fiat.

You'll be happy to know that one thing hasn't changed during my travel blog hiatus....I am still an idiot.

This is not the face of a happy man.


Being married to me is hard, people.

We were finally able to go into our suite and relax. Azul del Mar was just lovely.


When Matt had fully recovered emotionally, we cleaned up for dinner.

Before dinner, we decided to stop in at the Caribbean Club. Open since 1938, it’s the oldest bar in the upper keys. It had character, stiff drinks, live music, and a great sunset. Interestingly, it’s the only place in Key Largo where the movie, Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was filmed. The rest took place in Hollywood.


We wrapped up our last night with big bowls of pasta at DiGiorgio’s Key Largo, because spaghetti is always a good idea.


As we made the dull 2 hour drive back to the airport the next morning, Matt and I agreed that we absolutely loved Grassy Flats and wanted to return. Matt wanted to try a proper 3-day kiteboarding lesson and I wanted to explore more of the upper keys.

Who knew we’d be back so fast!

Grassy Key 2.0: Suite Dreams Are Made of This

Matt and I returned to Grassy Flats just 7 months later.

Grassy Flats Resort was opened by retired professional kiteboarder Matt Sexton and his partners in 2019. Despite opening just before the pandemic shut everything down, Grassy Flats survived.

Thank goodness it did.

Grassy Flats is an eco-friendly watersports-oriented boutique resort reborn from three old Florida mom & pop resorts that had gone by the wayside. There are less than 40 guest rooms, keeping Grassy Flats small, personal, and nostalgic.

We were excited to return.

It was late evening when we flew into the Key West airport. There would be none of this “driving from Fort Lauderdale” nonsense this time. There would also be no shorty convertible this time.

Once inside our properly tall Jeep, we headed toward Grassy Flats.

It was late when we arrived and our key had been left for us by Poppy, so that we could let ourselves in. Although we had reserved a basic room, we had been upgraded to the beautiful Galleon Suite at the Wreckers House.


Wanting nothing more than sleep, we climbed into that big, beautiful King bed and were out!

We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on the deck the next morning with coffee.


Today was supposed to be Day 1 of Matt’s 3-day intro to kiteboarding. We got up super early and grabbed a quick breakfast at Island Fish House.


We had booked specifically for the end of February because that’s when wind is almost guaranteed.

Unlike death and taxes, wind on Grassy Key is not certain.

The water was flat as a fritter. Wind? A mouse fart would generate more wind than we saw on Grassy Key that week.

So, with several days that were now free of kiteboarding lessons, we did the only thing we could do….see how many places we could eat and drink before it was time to go home!

We headed to lunch at Bongos at the nearby Lagoon, Grassy Flats’ sister property, a 50 acre day resort with watersports, a tropical café, and botanical garden.


Bongo’s was a tropical explosion of orchids, garden paths, and art murals next to a shallow lagoon. Breezy tables sat under umbrellas as mango mimosas and Bloody marys flowed to the music of a live band.

There were worse ways to spend the morning.


After wasting the morning at Bongo’s, we wasted the afternoon at the Grassy Flats pool with mai tais from Barrel and Bale.

There were worse ways to spend the afternoon.


We ventured to the far end of Marathon for dinner at the Isla Bella resort’s Polynesian-inspired restaurant, Mahina.

Isla Bella was a beautiful property and Mahina was visually stunning.

Tables sat scattered under the swaying palms as soft music played and the sunset glowed low in the sky.

There are worse ways to end the day.


With no lessons to get up early for, we spent a lazy morning enjoying the beach at Grassy Flats.

The water was shallow here. Wide flats of shallow water hug the ocean side of Grassy Key where the resort is located. Soft reggae played from the speakers at the poolside tiki bar. Hammocks swayed in the breeze. The resort’s kayaks, paddleboards, and Hobie Cats sat in the soft sand waiting for someone to jump on board for an adventure.

We realized this was a truly magical place.


Grassy Key doesn’t have the celebrated status of Key West or the dive-capitol fame of Key Largo. Nor does it have the gated exclusivity of some of the smaller keys. What Grassy Key has is the salty essence of true Florida and we loved it.

We enjoyed brunch at Sparky’s Landing, where the BOGO mimosas and seafood ciopinno were calling, but spent most of the day simply enjoying Grassy Flats.


Sunset called for cocktails at Barrel and Bale.


We also decided to return to Hideaway Café for another lovely dinner.


The following day was supposed to be the 3rd day of Matt’s kiteboarding lesson, with us returning to Key West in the afternoon, but with no lessons, we decided to head to Key West as soon as we checked out.

After enjoying one more lovely sunrise, that is.


What to do with a bonus day in Key West? Eat brunch at Blue Heaven, of course!


Followed by painkillers at the Rum Bar….


And margaritas at Sunset Pier……


And don’t forget oysters at Pepe’s……


There was nothing left to do but crash in our blessedly cool suite at Winslow’s Bungalows, so early that I am embarrassed to tell you what time.


Because we never really had dinner the night before, we woke up ravenous.

We grabbed breakfast at the nearby Key West Cuban Coffee. I’m glad we were hungry, because the chorizo and eggs were MASSIVE (and delicious!).


We spent the day shopping, eating, and drinking our way through Key West, because that’s our favorite thing to do!

With only 1 day, we hit all of our favorites. There were mimosas and bloody Mary’s at Hanks, tacos from Garbo’s, more rum from the Rum Bar, more oysters from Pepe’s, sunset from Mallory Square, zombies from the Tiki House, and nachos and margaritas from Amigo’s.


Stick a fork in me, because I was done! We had painted the town AND the front porch and we’d eaten anything that didn’t eat us first. I felt as fat and happy as a boardinghouse cat.

It was time to go home.

The best part? Well, we’d have to come back now, wouldn’t we? I mean, we still had those kiteboarding lessons to do…..

Posted by vicki_h 20:18 Archived in USA Tagged beach island tropical florida key_west marathon islamorada fl florida_keys key_largo middle_keys grassy_key grassy_flats Comments (6)

NYC....So Nice I Did it Twice.

In an effort to "catch up," I am going to give you Two Trips......Two Trips......Two Trips In One!

NYC: Take One.

It was fall of 2018 when the husband announced he was going on a hunting trip with the guys.

What's a girl to do?

Buy a ticket to New York with her girlfriends, that's what.

It was a beautiful Thursday in November. We had barely dropped our bags at our AirBNB, and were already strolling the sunny sidewalks of NYC's East Village.



I'm just not a Time Square, Upper East Side, or even a Midtown kind of girl. I love East Village's funkiness. I love the cool shops. I love the eclectic assortment of bars and restaurants. It's a little grittier but it speaks to me.







We found ourselves at Rubirosa where we would start our weekend with meatballs, the world's largest pizza, and copious amounts of wine.





With our afternoon buzz on, we enjoyed the streets of the city, settled into our apartment (which even had a super cute patio!), and got ourselves ready for Friday night "Dinner and a Show."





We had selected Porter House for our one "grown up night out" where we would pretend to be sophisticated, elegant and classy. This did not last long.


Unfortunately, we had spent too much time in wine comas that afternoon and only had a very rushed hour to have dinner and make it to our show. I felt sorry for our distinguished waiter as we rushed through our drink orders, food orders, and begged him to get it to us really, really fast so we could eat really, really fast. I could see from the look of disdain on his face that he thought we should have gone through the take-out window at McDonald's.



Nevertheless, he came through and served up an epic meal in minutes, and didn't even judge us for chugging our wine so we'd be on time.






We literally RAN to our show.

All the better to burn off those onion rings, I say.





Our rushed dinner had not left time for dessert, so after the show, we popped into the fake pawn shop storefront that hides the spectacular secret of Beauty and Essex where we immediately popped into the swanky ladies room for free pink champagne.








Then it was cocktails and an adorable ferris wheel full of dessert.






Friday morning found me looking in every cupboard of our 25 square foot apartment for a coffee maker.

Hello, coffee maker...are you in this drawer? This closet? The shower???? This cabinet? Where the f&*% is the f$#%*&@ coffee maker?

I eventually figured out that New Yorkers don't own coffee makers. Why would they when there is a coffee shop every 10 feet?

So I improvised.



You can take the girl out of the trailer park, people, but you can never take the trailer park out of the girl. Grow up poor and you learn how to make do.

We had walking and shopping to do, so we popped over to Russ and Daughters for a bagel and a schmear.







And for some weirdos, a plastic container of German potato salad to eat while waiting for the subway at 9:00 a.m.


The rest of the morning was spent walking the streets of the city and taking it all in.












We were enjoying the beautiful streets and sights of the City when suddenly, an angel dropped down from heaven and said, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all women. For unto you is born in the City of New York a sale which is Lord and Taylor."

And we wept for joy.



Many, many, many hours and significant credit card expense later, we were exhausted and famished. We headed back to East Village for a lively bottomless brunch at Poco.






The atmosphere was one of happiness and loud music. It was like a joyful house party with endless margaritas and mimosas.

Poco is supposed to have a 1.5 hour limit on brunch. Our server let us stay 2 1/2 hours. And kept the drinks coming.






We got a Lyft back to our place. We were damp and tired. Everyone immediately sank into a deep post-Poco coma.

We had dinner reservations that night at Chinatown's Chinese Tuxedo, and we didn't want to miss it, so I had actually set an alarm to ensure we got up, did our best to make ourselves presentable, and make it to dinner.







Chinese Tuxedo was simply amazing. I am so glad I didn't sleep through it. Walking up to the restaurant, we were certain we had the wrong address. It looks like an abandoned storefront in the middle of ....a bunch of abandoned storefronts, but once inside, a dimly lit, uber chic restaurant appears....like magic. Set in an old community opera house, it was part club, part restaurant, all amazing.




We ordered way more than two people could eat, but our absolute favorite part? The truffles.

Not eating them, necessarily.

We ordered the homemade egg fettuccine....and the waiter asked if we wanted it with shaved truffles.

Well.....well.....well, yes, thank you, we did.

Next thing we know, a guy comes out with a silver orb. With an immaculately white gloved hand, he opened the orb and extracted a truffle that he proceeded to shave with vigor over our noodles in stoic unsmiling silence.

Truffle shaving is serious business.

As suddenly as he appeared, he departed.

That alone was worth the $35 upcharge.










I'm going to call that a successful day.



Saturday morning, my childhood BFF came over from Philly to join us for the day. We made our first stop the endless small plate brunch at Zengo. This also came with bottomless mimosas....which we did not need....but that we drank anyway.















Not to mention the downstairs lounge area en route to the ladies room, that was empty during lunch hours creating the perfect place for terrible post-mimosa selfies.





We spent the afternoon strolling and shopping and made sure we got back to the apartment with plenty of time to rest up for a night out.


We were meeting fellow blogger and friend TraceyG at Fonda for dinner.

That girl always knows the prettiest drink to order and the best food to eat.









She also knows the best place to dance.

Note to self: Old ladies should not stay out until 3 a.m. dancing in stilettos. Especially when they have an early flight to catch.


When I dragged out of bed at 6:00 a.m. to catch our flight, knees throbbing, eyes gritty, totally exhausted.....I didn't regret a minute.


NYC: Take Two.

It didn't kill me last time, right? So let's do it again.

Fast forward to October 2019. My BFF had a 50th birthday coming up, so we decided to rendezvous in NYC for another girls weekend. This time, just the two of us.

When I got on the plane that Friday morning....I was the only person in the front. Should I be worried?


It was early morning when we arrived. Too early to check into our AirBNB, we dropped our bags at a luggage storage, which happened to be a smoothie cafe that locked them in the kitchen. It was so weird but so easy.

We headed to Nomo Kitchen for a lovely brunch to get things started. It was as beautiful as it was delicious.








We spent the next several hours shopping, and shopping, and shopping.








Tired and hungry, we stumbled into St. Marks Tacqueria, not because it was fancy, but because it was close to our apartment and I had read that it was divey but had good food.

It was the BEST kind of divey. I instantly loved this place. I don't know if it was the darkness, the strange 80s rock n'roll and movie decor, the 80s music, the insanely good margarita, or the "We don't give a s*$t menu," but it spoke to me.







We were finally able to check into our apartment. Sam had agreed, against her better judgment and that little voice inside her that said, "Never do what Vicki says....", to stay in an apartment I found on AirBNB instead of a hotel.

First, let me say that the apartment itself was FINE. It was large and comfortable, with 2 bedrooms and everything we needed.

It was, however, above a tattoo parlor with a downright terrifying looking shop owner who sat on the front step about 12 hours out of the day and never smiled. It was also up six flights of ungodly steep stairs...that we found ourselves dragging heavy suitcases up....while sweating and using a great deal of profanity....and the front door to the apartment didn't quite shut.



But, you know, like I told Sam....it's FINE.

After some down time, we grabbed happy hour cocktails at the TINY Keybar in East Village where, somehow, we managed to score two of what appeared to be about 10 total barstools in the entire place.



I wanted Sam to experience the awesomeness that is Rubirosa, so we headed there for a much fought for dinner reservation. No joke. I actually set my alarm to wake me up at midnight the day reservations opened up for the Friday night we wanted to go, and even though I was online within 30 seconds, the only reservation I could get was 10:00 p.m. I was happy to have it!!


Besides, nothing is better than late night pizza after drinking two-for-one happy hour cocktails at a neon infested dive bar.

We slept in on Saturday and headed for a leisurely brunch at Jack's Wife Frieda.





This place was tiny, lively, and packed. The food was worth the wait.

And I was instantly mesmerized by their sugar packets. Sam had to stop me from stuffing a handful into my pocket.





After some shopping, we had a late lunch/early dinner at Birreria by Serra atop Eataly in Flatiron. We did not go for the food. While not bad, the food really wasn't the draw. This restaurant goes all out with "over the top" seasonal decor and the tacky in me had a desperate need to see it.











It fed my need for all things sparkly and gaudy. I loved it the way I love glitter and rhinestones. I loved it the way I love too many lights on the Christmas tree. I loved it the way I love the plastic pink flamingos in my yard.

It was everything I hoped it would be...with surprisingly decent food and cocktails.

That was one mighty fine giant bowl of kale.



To celebrate Sam, I had purchased VIP tix to an annual food and wine festival, just a short walk from Birreria. Our tickets gave us early access (aka, being able to sample all the wine without standing in line) and gave us access to a special "bubbly lounge" filled with all manner of sparkling wines and champagne once the crowds upstairs became unbearable.









Not only was there SO MUCH WINE...there were giant plates of bacon.

There is only one thing you can do after an all you can drink wine and bacon event.


I am drawn to East Village's Pyramid Club like Whitney to Bobby. I know it's not good for me, but I just can't quit it. A text and a Lyft later, TraceyG was back at the scene of the crime with us. She is the Yin to my Yang. The Cher to my Sonny. The chocolate to my peanut butter.




We danced until the wee hours, but this time no one lost their coat ticket and no one fell off a table, so it was all good.

On my Friday flight, I had posted the photo of me allllll alone in the front of the plane and got an immediate text from a long time friend telling me he was also en route to NYC. What were the odds? We agreed to meet up and found ourselves meeting at the Highline on Sunday morning.

What an awesome place to walk!











We ended our visit at Chelsea Market, where we grabbed a quick bite and said our goodbyes.






I had a Sunday afternoon flight to catch, but spending time with with my 8th grade BFF was totally worth the quick trip!!


Here's to 36 years of friendship!

Posted by vicki_h 12:22 Archived in USA Tagged new_york nyc manhattan east_village Comments (1)

Hatfield Follies

Taking the Fam to Folly Beach

Those of you that have been with me a long time remember the blue bucket. Who can forget the BLUE BUCKET?


For those who don't know, the blue bucket was what we used, quite inelegantly, to get my mother-in-law in and out of a Jeep on a trip to St. John back in 2005. We took it everywhere and used it as a step to propel her into the vehicle. (I never claimed to be a great daughter-in-law, folks....)

Fast forward 15 years and you can only imagine how the mobility issues have deteriorated, but her love for travel has not.

Her last trip, and I don't mean most recent...I mean LAST....was in 2014. I don't mean she died. She is alive and well, but travel has simply become too challenging for her. It's heartbreaking to see someone you love lose their ability to do something they love, so we still try to take her where we can.

Last fall, knowing her traveling days were limited due to her extreme mobility issues, we asked where she wanted to go. It had to be somewhere Matt could fly her to, because commercial travel has become an impossibility.

She said Charleston. On the beach.

Jo wanted to see Charleston, but mostly wanted her toes in the sand one more time. We decided to take the clan to Folly Beach.

I had to find a house ON THE BEACH.....not over the dunes, not down a zillions steps, not across a walkway...ON THE BEACH. We had to be able to get her just a few steps from the house into the sweet, soft sand.

This trip wasn't about diving into Charleston's culinary scene. We barely touched it. It wasn't about enjoying the area's wonderful shopping. We didn't enter a single store. It wasn't even about beaching it. We barely beached.

It was simply spending time as a family in a place someone we loved wanted to see. It was about letting her eat some seafood, dig her toes into the sand. and sit and listen to the waves.

So that's what we did.

It was simple. It was sweet. It was just two days and it was perfect for her.

And we didn't even need the blue bucket.








































Posted by vicki_h 07:56 Archived in USA Tagged beach south_carolina charleston folly_beach Comments (1)

Dancing with Myself in Twang Town

It's hot in the city tonight!


There’s a vibe about Nashville….a city of lights and music and hot chicken. It thrums with a heartfelt southern beat and rhythm and music seep out of its very pores. Sure, it’s the epicenter of country music, but music is at its very core…every type of music. It has something for every music fan.

Including Billy Idol fans.

Imagine my delight when I saw that Billy Idol, (we saw him in Vegas and SWORE we had to see again with better seats), was doing a show in Nashvegas, so close to home? I immediately got VIP tickets that would not only put us front and center for the show, but get us an up close and personal with the legend himself.

It was Nashville or bust, baby!



We arrived in Nashville on a hot September afternoon and headed straight for the 2 for 1 brunch at Whiskey Kitchen where we seriously overordered (and over imbibed!).



From there we were off to the Inn at Fontanel. The show wasn’t being held downtown, but was instead at the outdoor amphitheater at Fontanel, a gorgeous southern inn with only 6 luxurious suites. I had been able to score 2 of them. With no other hotels nearby, this was not only a way to enjoy a posh stay, but also ensured we could walk to and from the show.









We checked into our suites and they were TO DIE FOR GORGEOUS. Matt and I chose the lower guest suite. It was huge, beautiful, and filled with snacks. The bathroom was bigger than my first apartment.








With time to kill, we loaded up on Barbara, one of their complimentary golf carts (all named after country music stars, thankyouverymuch), to peruse the grounds.


Our first stop was Pritchard’s Distillery, because apparently, 2 for 1 bubbles had not been enough. Pritchard’s makes fine rums and premium whiskeys. They only make small batch products which are distilled in copper pots and stored in charred white oak barrels to allow for the best possible flavor. Made in Tennessee, you can sample their artisan spirits in their tasting room at Fontanel. We were particularly fans of the peach mango rum and the Sweet Lucy.


We also did a quick tasting at the Natchez Hills Winery, also on the Fontanel grounds. With some new purchases, we headed to our rooms to clean up for the show.



We were ready to meet Billy Idol!


VIP passes in hand, they put us near his tour bus on some raggedy old dirt track to wait. And wait. And wait.

And then we were given a lecture about not touching him, grabbing him, kissing him, or jumping on his back like a spider monkey.

Apparently, someone told them I was coming.








What was it like meeting Billy Idol? Well…..it was a lot like meeting a guy wearing a Billy Idol mask. Sorry….but true! He was a little…um….plastic. Maybe some work done. Just maybe.

Steve Stevens was very animated, however, and did not appear to be wearing a mask of his own face. He even pulled his finger gun for us. I love how Matt pulled his in solidarity, but decided to keep it at his side….you know…just to make sure no one got hurt.


So, maybe Billy has had a little “work done,” but he can still rock a show. It was everything we hoped it would be right from second row center.
We fell into our plush beds at Fontanel that night still hearing Rebel Yell in our dreams.








Okay, maybe while everyone else slept, I snuck out in the car and found a total dive of a pizza place in the sketchiest of neighborhoods that was still open. I might have ordered a large pepperoni pizza and braved the hordes of undesirables standing in the parking lot to go inside and claim said pizza and proceed to devour it in the car, like a rat with a cheeseburger.


Fontanel has an enormous great room and kitchen where breakfast is made by their chef and served as part of your stay.

When we were finally able to rouse ourselves, we ambled over to the dining area, found some seats, and drank massive amounts of strong coffee with Rebel Yell still pounding in our heads.





We took a stroll through the Halloween market that Fontanel had set up and it immediately put us in the mood for fall.







And then it was time to fly home!

Short and sweet, but sometimes that's all you need.

Posted by vicki_h 07:08 Archived in USA Tagged nashville nashvegas billy_idol fontanel Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 530) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. » Next