A Week at the Beach

Last month I was lucky enough to be invited by my boyfriend’s family to tag along on a trip to Myrtle Beach.  When you say Myrtle Beach, people often think of golf, night life, and crowded beaches.  But there’s a side of Myrtle Beach that can make it into a perfect, relaxing vacation for any traveler.  To be more exact, we stayed in a nice ocean front house in Surfside Beach, SC.  A lot of vacationers would pay the higher prices to be in Myrtle Beach, thinking that those small beach towns surrounding it would be poor alternatives.  Not only should Surfside Beach not be labeled as the “alternative,” but I preferred the small town six miles South of the crowded bustling vacation hub.

Quiet vacation spots aren’t for every traveler, but when you are looking for a relaxing beach destination and don’t want to splurge on those tropical islands in the Caribbean, the southern coast is a great alternative.  The two weekends prior to our Surfside Beach vacation I spent in Charleston and on the islands surrounding the city.  Until now, I had always associated the beaches in South Carolina with busy tourist traps.  But vacation spots exist that are not inundated with chain restaurants and resorts.

Our house in Surfside Beach was perfect.  We had an ocean view, four bedrooms, a great kitchen and dining areas, porch and pool.  It was the perfect place for a family getaway.  We had days in the sun and quiet while also having access to the nightlife and restaurants in Myrtle Beach when we wanted to.   I got to spend a week with my boyfriend’s wonderful family playing games, maybe drinking a little too much sangria, and having an overall wonderful, relaxing vacation filled with good food and good company.

The Road Less Traveled

Do you ever wonder what it feels like to take the road less traveled? Take the undiscovered path?  I find myself frequently wishing I had the courage to take the unconventional rout in life, take a risk, weather it’s a different direction in your career, a new relationship, or just that adventure that you have always wanted to take but just haven’t had the time.  Lately I feel like I have taken a lot of those unexpected, impulsive paths, and I have never felt better.  When you are afraid to step into the unknown and don’t accept serendipitous and unexpected happenings, you may miss out on some of the best experiences in life that will mold you as a person.

People sometimes think you need to break away from the ‘known’ and ‘familiar’ in your life.  For me, this has always been my family.  And yes, sometimes life requires moving, taking a job far away, not talking on the phone every day with those you love.  But being close to my family is a blessing, not a hindrance.   In reality, it isn’t my wish to stay close to my family that inhibits my courage, creativity, or ability to take risks, it is my own self-confidence in my talents and dreams.  So if there is something or someone in your life that makes you comfortable and happy, hold on to it, because these things are hard to come by.  Instead, rely on those people as a support system and believe in yourself, take a chance and you may find something in life that is unexpected, but fulfilling.

Many times, doing what is expected, or what you think is the right path, may take you away from who you really are.  I have found a

Photo courtesy of Thomas Leonardi

lot of times that doing what is expected and ‘normal’ often means not being myself, or conforming to expectations.  But, fitting into a mold or trying to be like everyone else around you will not make you stand out or bring you happiness.  Being successful and finding happiness (whatever those mean to you) is about taking risks, being confident in yourself, and most importantly, being yourself.  If you can’t be yourself on the path you are on, it will be difficult to find happiness.

I am starting to learn the amazing consequences of a chance meeting and an increasing need to follow a potentially unconventional career path.  I have also learned by being far away from home, that I can have my family, my stability, and I don’t need to break away from them to move into my future.  In fact, I feel stronger, and more confident around them.  They will always be my first foundation.  But without taking these chances, I will never find my future, success, happiness, and maybe even a new foundation to rely on in my life.

So if something feels right, take a chance, be confident in yourself and don’t give up on your dreams.

“Roughing It”

So, I mentioned in my last post that a rustic camping trip is the way to go if you don’t want to spend money on a resort – or there are none in the vicinity that are worth the money.  Well…make sure you check the weather even if it’s normally a warm season, or you just might find yourself out in the cold – literally.  A few weeks ago I took  a trip to Washington, DC for work and to visit some great old friends.  Since this trip ran into a weekend, my boyfriend invited me to visit his parents in Michigan, and to take a road trip with his car from Michigan all the way back to Atlanta.

Of course we decided to make a bit of an adventure out of it and stop in Mammoth Cave National Park as a half way stop.  We both really love the outdoors and camping seemed like the perfect way to spend a night.  Especially when the average temperature in Northern Kentucky around this time is a high of 75 degrees and a low of 45 degrees.  BUT, when we left Michigan it was rainy and 40 degrees.  Rain and cold are a pretty bad start to a night in the outdoors.  Which is why you always need to come prepared!  This is where my wonderful boyfriend thought ahead.  He brought a nice warm sleeping bag rated for -30 degrees (which he graciously gave to me) and the right protection for our tent from damp ground and rain.  Being cold and wet in a tent is never a pleasant experience.

Fortunately, when we finally arrived in Mammoth Cave National Park, it had stopped raining and cleared up.  A clear sky can sometimes mean colder weather, and it certainly did that night.  But because we came prepared with warm weather gear, a delicious dinner, and wine it turned out to be a delightful spring night under the stars.

You may be thinking, 30 degree weather = miserable.  But if you come prepared you can make a great night out of a campfire, dinner, stars and good company.  I know I’m a Northerner and I may just be crazy, but here is a list of supplies that can turn any camping outing into a perfect night (and those longer stays that you can reach by car, motorboat..and even canoes and kayaks!).

Continue Reading »

This may have been the first Easter weekend that I did not spend with my family.  This happens for a lot of those little special occasions when you live far away from home.  But just because I was away from home didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to celebrate in my own way.  So I had my Easter weekend planned – a weekend in the mountains, great weather, and perfect company.  This started with a great deal from LivingSocial.com.  I was able to get two nights at The Ridges Resort and Marina on Lake Chatuge for $200 plus a bottle of wine and a $50 gift certificate towards dinner at the resort’s formal dining room.  Being the skeptical traveler that I am, I checked Trip Advisor for reviews of the resort.  Since so many hotel guests had great things to say, I decided ‘why not,’ and booked my vacation.

Unfortunately, the reviews were not completely accurate, and were definitely plagued by the very few places to stay in the Hiawassee area.  This was certainly not a good ‘value’ resort and is not located on a remote plot on the lake.  If I had not had my deal I would have been upset that I booked this trip.  Of course it depends on your preferences – but if I am paying an average of $200 per night (without the deal) for a resort on a lake that is advertised as quiet, relaxing and luxurious, I would expect professional staff, quiet grounds, and maybe even a good pot of coffee in the morning.

Continue Reading »

Early Summer

One really great thing about living in the South, is that summer tends to come early, at a time when my home town is still buried under feet of snow.  I am not a fan of cold, dark, days so the early sunshine and 80 degree weather puts me in much better spirits than a usual March or early April day.

The downside of this, is that bathing suit season also comes 4 months earlier.  All of you from cold climates may understand that winter is a time of big, hearty meals, and many drinks to keep you warm.  We like to call it insulation from the cold.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t have the usual 3-4 spring months to shed this protective layer before the hot summer days.  Apparently the young population in my apartment complex didn’t have the same problem.

Unfortunately, my favorite hobbies, other than being in the sun, are food and wine.  Not very conducive to getting back in shape…or so many people think!  What most don’t realize is that getting into shape, weather it’s turning the fat back into muscle or burning 10-20 pounds, doesn’t involve anything extreme.  In fact, going an extreme route to lose weight quickly is unhealthy and makes it much easier to put on as much, or more weight than before in a shorter amount of time.  Getting into shape doesn’t mean eating terrible, tiny meals, endless hours in the gym every day, and giving up that favorite after work cocktail.

Losing weight and getting back into shape all comes down to eating healthy, exercising, and most of all, portion control.  For anyone like me who loves food and wine,

Photo courtesy of Thomas Leonardi

it’s very easy to just keep eating until your plate is empty.  When something is so good, it’s hard to stop!  That’s why it is important to start out your efforts by joining a calorie counting website.

In order to eat the right portions all day you have to know how many calories you need, and how many calories you are actually taking in every day.  The amount of calories you need are based on a variety of factors including your age, gender, size and level of activity during your week.  There are many websites that help you track calories, but I currently use My-Calorie-Counter by Everyday Health.  It’s fairly easy to use and you have the added bonus of receiving free newsletters on topics of interest.

Continue Reading »

I know, it has been an unacceptable amount of time since I wrote last… probably a consequence of a loss of inspiration in DC for food and entertainment, possibly brought on by the usual consequences of an intern salary, stalled any creativity I had.  Now that I have finally moved up to a salaried job I can start to (very occasionally) get back to the food, wine and adventures that I so enjoy – and to find new unexpected adventures in a new chapter of my life.

Now that I am stationed in the Southeast, I’ll be exploring states that I have never been to before, eating food I’ve never had and drinking sweet tea for the first time ever (which I LOVE)!  My first trip I even saw a cotton field for the first time….I didn’t know they actually grew as cotton balls.

So I’ll be chronicling my adventures in the South, whether for business or vacation, I’ll be all over eleven different states (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas and Virginia).  And while my parents still reside in the upper reaches of NY State where winter is interminable, they will travel South often and may even provide a means to write about some of the great restaurants in Atlanta!

I’ll also be continuing on the energy efficiency/sustainability track through my job working on energy codes.  I know, sounds boring – but I’m protecting new home and business owners and assuring that their buildings are high quality and energy efficient from the start!

While I am here, I don’t think I’ll ever escape being called the “damn Yankee.”  Oh well…guess that’s what I’ll always be!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

…This was a first for me.  I have had plenty of Rieslings before, but this was a my first tasting of an explicitly Dry Riesling.  The Pacific Rim 2007 Dry Riesling from Columbia Valley Washington is truly the driest wine I have every tasted.  This light in color Riesling smells of honey and slight citrus with your first taste being a tangy citrus (mostly pineapple and peach) and leaving a dryness that surprised me.  Just because I’ve just emphasized how dry the wine is, does not mean it was lacking depth.  The Pacific Rim Dry Riesling has a great finish with the tang and acidity cutting the dryness leaving you with a lasting fruitiness.  Although there were other flavors in this wine, the dryness was the most interesting and distinctive characteristic.  For $9 this wine is a steal, but I would not suggest buying this if you are positive that you do not like dry wines.  If you’re not sure what ‘dry’ tastes like, experiment with this wine and you will know immediately.  You can drink this wine alone or with food.  It goes great with spicy food, standing up to stronger flavors.

What you need to know:

  • Vineyard: Pacific Rim
  • Vintage: 2007
  • Grape: 20% German Riesling Wine and 80% Columbia Valley Riesling
  • Major Flavors: Dry citrus – Pineapple and peach
  • Where to buy: $9 – Look on Winezap.com!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine