Tag Archives: travel

Key West Seaplane Adventures-Dry Tortugas National Park

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Okay, I know I promised this post about a week ago. The wait is over! Here is an overview of our favorite activity that we did in Florida: Taking a sea plane to the Dry Tortugas National Park.

We knew that we wanted to visit the Dry Tortugas National Park when we were visiting the Keys but couldn’t decide if we wanted to take the boat or the seaplane to get out there. We ended up deciding on Key West Seaplane Adventures simply because the total time of the trip was much less. With the boat you will spend much of your day on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Meh. Taking the seaplane is about a 4 hour trip which left us plenty of time for exploring Key West that day. 

The trip starts at the Key West Airport. The seaplane also has wheels so it takes off and lands at the airport in Key West. On the island since there’s no airport the plane lands in the water. I think if you blindfolded me I never would have known we landed in the water! The flight to the island is about 35 minutes and the pilot does a fabulous job explaining what you are seeing when you fly over it. There is also a soundtrack to go along with the flight so you get to listen to music. Since the plane flies at a low altitude (about 500 ft) you are able to see a lot. We saw lots of turtles, shipwrecks, and even a boat full of cuban refugees. photo 1 copy 14

One we got to the island we spent some time exploring Fort Jefferson and then we went snorkeling. I loved walking around the fort- especially along the edge of the moat! I heard there is a crocodile that is sometimes there but we did not see him. The snorkeling was nice too and we saw lots of colorful fish and corals. 

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photo 2On the trip back I got to sit in the copilot’s seat! SO COOL! This is definitely the best seat in the plane. If you’re first in line or no one else wants it, you will be the lucky one to sit shotgun. This was a fabulous trip and even though the tickets cost us more than the tickets from Portland down to Fort Lauderdale I was really happy that we took the trip and it was well worth the money! 🙂 17915_10101563710812901_8224500114760575690_n

Taking a trip to Fort Jefferson? Here’s what you need to know!

– I’m really happy that we took the sea plane over the boat. It is a little more expensive but I think it was totally worth it. It’s a great experience and I’m glad we didn’t spend all day on a boat.

-Take the 8 am or the 2 pm trip on the seaplane. This way you will not have all the boat passengers on the island at that time! It felt like a private island. We went at 2 pm.

– When you check in at the airport they will give you a cooler with water or sodas that you can take with you! So don’t worry about bringing your own.

-There are places to change either at the check in at Key West Airport or at the Dry Tortugas.

– If i was going to do one thing differently I would have snorkeled first and explored the fort afterwards. I think this would have been a better use of time as we walked around the fort, then snorkeled, and then had an awkward amount of time left where we didn’t have time to snorkel at another beach so we just walked around again. 

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Florida Keys Vacation

Angus and I spent the last week on vacation in the Florida Keys! It was fantastic and we did a lot but I thought I would share my favorite things that we did here on the blog. The only thing that was missing was manatees! I wanted to see one so badly and we didn’t all week. 

Everglades National Park

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Want to see a bunch of alligators? Okay. Go here. It’s actually a lot cooler than it sounds. We walked on a trail very close to the park entrance  and saw loads of alligators and birds. It was a great little detour and lots of people think of the everglades as being a swamp with a few gators. It was way better than that and I would love to have had more time to explore the areas further into the park. 

Theater of the Sea, Islamorada

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This is a cool place where you can go to watch dolphin, parrot, and sea lion shows as well as swim with the dolphins. The shows are excellent and a great way to spend a morning. I even got to kiss “Sherman” the dolphin!

Kayaking at Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of this, but it was really fun. We rented kayaks and they have lots of trails that go through mangroves. We saw sharks, stingrays, and lots of fish!

Key West Seaplane Adventures, Key West/Dry Tortugas

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This is going to be in a separate post, because it was really just that cool and I have about 10 billion pictures I want to share. Look tomorrow for the post 🙂

Butterfly Conservatory, Key West

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I actually almost didn’t want to go here. Angus convinced me when he told me there were flamingos. Basically it’s a really hot room FILLED with butterflies and two flamingos. It’s pretty magical and definitely worth the 24 bucks we spent to walk around for 15 minutes.

Bahia Honda State Park

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This is a great place to go for a swim. They have a few beaches at the park and I guess that they are the only natural beaches in the Florida Keys. We took a walk out to a sandbar and even saw a few little sharks!

Sparky’s Landing, Key Colony Beach

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Key lime pie. Go get it. The food is great here and it’s a fun place to sit outside by the ocean. I also hear they have 25 cent wings and shrimps for happy hour but we never took advantage of that.

Keys Fisheries, Marathon 

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This is my other favorite restaurant. You order at a window and then get your food and sit at picnic tables on the water. Or you can take your food upstairs to the “Shell Shack” and have a great view to watch the sunset. Awesome 🙂 I had a “conchwurst” which is like a sausage but with conch. Yum.

 

 

 

Ski Weekend

What a week it has been! Last weekend we traveled to Twin Mountain, New Hampshire for a weekend of skiing. Good food, good friends, good skiing. On Friday Angus and I took advantage of Wildcat’s 2 for 1 ticket prices and went for a Valentines Day ski in some fresh powder. And wind. Probably the windiest day I have ever seen on the slopes. After skiing we went out for a romantic pizza dinner at Flatbreads in North Conway complete with tons of screaming (excited for vacation) children running around.

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Saturday all of our friends arrived at the house and we went to the Mount Washington Hotel for chocolate skiing. Chocolate skiing is something I’ve done just about every year since high school and it was always amazing! Long ski + stops to enjoy homemade chocolates is probably the best situation I can think of. This year the chocolate ski was organized by someone else and it was LAME. There were hardly any chocolate stops and everything ran out. AND it was more expensive than year’s past. We complained and got our $ back and some free trail passes to come back another time. Squeaky wheel gets the grease!

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On Sunday we hit the slopes again but this time at Cannon. It was warmer, not as windy, and a perfect ski day! When we got back to the house we enjoyed some drinks and a delicious feast of soup and grilled cheese.

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By Monday my legs were pretty toast but we had those free tickets to go back to the nordic trails at the Mount Washington Hotel. Angus and I went for a fast and chilly skate ski and hit the road to go back home to Portland. After a fabulous four days of skiing I’m now teaching bunches of spin classes this week and MAN do my legs want a break! I would also like a break from commuting in the snow. Snow is great on the trails but not on I95.

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Our Honeymoon in Maui

It’s hard to believe a little over a week ago I was sitting on the beach enjoying a Mai Tai for happy hour! Hawaii was nothing short of amazing and totally worth the long trip there. While we were in Maui we spent lots of time on the beach and exploring. Here’s my review of the different activities to do in Maui.

Sunrise on Haleakala

On the second day there, we decided to do the drive up Haleakala to watch the sunrise. This is a very popular thing for tourists to do in Hawaii and I’m really not sure why it has so much hype. Yes, watching the sunrise was nice, but there are way too many downsides for me to ever want to do it again. You will have to get up at 2:30 in the morning and drive 2.5 hours in the dark to the top of a 10,000 ft. mountain. At the top of the mountain there’s a big parking lot full of cold tourists wrapped in beach towels and comforters stolen from hotels. Everyone sits in the brisk sub 40 degree air waiting for the sun to pop out. Once the sun rises everyone rushes right back to their car and drives back down the mountain. I rushed back to the car and promptly turned on the seat warmer that we were laughing about when we picked up the car at the airport. On the way home there’s a cool place to stop at for breakfast called the Kula Lodge. This was probably my favorite part of the Haleakala experience. There was a fire to warm up by and I had a nice stack of pineapple macadamia nut pancakes.

Sunrise at Haleakala

Sunrise at Haleakala

Surf Lessons

Hawaii is all about surfing! This was definitely one of my favorite things that we did. We took a lesson through Maui Wave Riders and it was excellent. They gave you rash guards, booties, a surfboard and an instructor to share with three other people for two hours. If you’ve never tried surfing before this place is great and they make it super super easy to catch a wave. Bonus: I didn’t see any sharks. YAY!

Black Rock Beach Snorkeling

This activity takes the cake for the best thing to do in Maui. Want to see sea turtles? Go here! Black Rock beach is located at the Sheraton hotel. Drive right on up the the lobby and have a guy valet park your car. If you go have lunch or a drink at the bar then they will validate your parking and then you only have to pay five bucks. Better yet? Simply ask the guy at the bar to validate your parking and skip the $50 lunch. 🙂 Every time we came to the beach we saw turtles! They come right up to the shore and swimming with them is amazing. The first time we came here we didn’t see any at first but as soon as we got out of the water, people start pointing to turtles. The Sheraton also has a sweet pool with a mini water slide and bean bags to float on in the water. They tell you the pool is for registered guests only but as long as you don’t lay your own hotel’s towels out on a chair no one will know you’re not staying there.

Swimming with Sea Turtles

Swimming with Sea Turtles

Road to Hana

This was another somewhat disappointing activity. Everyone will tell you that you need to drive the road to Hana and I’m not really sure why. It was a nice drive with lots of waterfalls to see and a cool beach that has black sand. However, it is a LONG drive. And the destination? Not so awesome. We spent three hours driving to Hana expecting a cute little town when we arrived. Instead we got an overpriced popsicle made with real fruit from a stand next to the road. There’s maybe a convenience store and a restaurant and that’s about it. Probably not worth the three hour drive.

Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach

 North Side of Maui

This was another drive we took and I thought it was much better than the road to Hana. You will still see the beautiful Hawaiian landscape, but it’s about half the length of the road to Hana. On our drive we took a nice walk along the rocks by the seashore, saw a blowhole and got some delicious banana bread from a treehouse stand next to the road. Sounds like a good day to me.

North shore of Maui

North shore of Maui

Restaurants

We had two favorite restaurants in Maui, and they were both located right next to each other. They’re called I’o and Pacific’o and they were right on the beach and “farm to table restaurants”. Such a great place to watch the sunset and have a nice dinner. They were both pretty pricey but at Pacific’o we got more food than we could possibly eat. Also, all food is expensive in Hawaii and you’ll just have to get over it.

Sunset dinner at I'o

Sunset dinner at I’o

So that’s my mini review of Maui. If you get the chance, you should definitely go! The 12 hour flight really didn’t feel that long and if you’re lucky you’ll be on one of Delta’s planes that doesn’t charge for movies. Yes, some of them charge and some of them don’t… But definitely go to Maui and you’ll see sea turtles and rainbows every day!

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