Monday, November 21, 2016

Grand Cayman Cruise Excursion: Cayman Turtle Farm & Dolphin Discovery

  One of the things that my family and I were most excited about on our recent western Caribbean cruise was our scheduled excursion at Dolphin Discovery on the island of Grand Cayman!  We didn't really have any instructions pre-cruise but were instructed right before. The tour leader was not very kind but the job got done and that does not reflect on the venue.  This excursion actually starts off at the Cayman Island Turtle Farm. Turtles are beautiful creatures and I was so excited!  You must use hand sanitizer before handling any of the turtles. A few people at a time can enter the tank with juvenile turtles. Two of my kids and I entered together for a photo op. 
Turtle Farm Fun!
   Once we arrived at Dolphin Discovery, those of us that were participating in the actual swim were taken to a place to get into our suites. The dolphin watchers were directed to an area where they could sit and relax or get close to the fence for photos. After we were in our swimmers we headed over to a waiting area to get our life jackets and wait for the previous tour group to finish up. They were very strict on life jacket sizing. This is a great safety precaution! Life jackets must be super snug so it doesn't slip off while you're in the water or with the dolphin. The waiting area was so hot!  There was not enough seating for everyone on the bleachers and definitely not enough shade.  
Walking on the grate

Once the previous tour group was finished, we were led into the water. There was a small grate step, maybe a foot wide for us to stand on up against the wall. While I was standing there, some creepy little fishes started nibbling on my feet!  We were given instructions on how we were to do each part of the excursion and introduced to Ritchie.
Dolphin Kisses

  First, we got to kiss Ritchie, then we danced, rode on his belly, were pushed on a boogie board and lastly posed for pictures!
Dolphin dance

Belly Ride!

Boogie Board Push

    Once everyone on the excursion was finished with all of their activities, we were escorted out of the water and to the dressing rooms to dry and change. Now, here is where they sicker you, photos! 
I tried and tried to talk myself out of buying the $160 photo package and just get a one but since there were three of us and one picture was $30, it was just a better deal to buy the CD!  The $160 also got me 3-5x7 photos. This is your warning!  I will admit that I realized my family will probably not ever get this opportunity again and I wanted the memories, however, I have yet to print any of the ones on the CD and haven't put up the ones that were preprinted! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Girls Getaway: Richmond Indiana: Phillip W. Smith Bed and Breakfast


  When I started trying to figure out how I was going to celebrate my 40th birthday, I knew I wanted it to be fun and a good time with friends.  I started researching and found a Chocolate Train that seemed like fun in the small town of Richmond, Indiana.  What girl could say no to chocolate? Well they wouldn't be my friends if they could!
   Trying to decide what type of lodging was easy, a bed and breakfast. However, Richmond has several and the search was on. I began emailing with a few of the owners and set up a conversation with Jill. Jill and her family own 2 separate B&Bs in Richmond and she recommended Phillip W Smith for my friends and I with the Just Us Girl package. There were just 3 of us so she set us up in adjoining rooms that could accommodate. We had the Blue Room and the maid's quarters with a center shared bath. It worked out perfectly!
Blue Room King

Blue Room decor

Maid's Quarters with daybed

Adjoining bath
      The Just Us Girls package included a coupon packet for several business around town as well as the breakfast and evening dessert that all guests receive. 
    Breakfast on Saturday was amazing!  We had a delicious plate of baked french toast, sausage and fruit. Beverage available were orange juice, water, teas and coffee. 

    Once we finished and chatted with the other guests for a bit, we headed out to start the chocolate trail and have a fun day. That's for another blog post!  After the fun,  we headed back late to the B&B to rest up.  We checked the fridge (located on the 2nd floor, central to all of the guest rooms) for the nightly dessert. Cheesecake! Paired perfectly with the wine that we purchased on the trail earlier in the day. This area is also stocked with a Keurig and coffees and teas. There is silverware, a wine opener and mugs as well as the microwave. There is also a microwave for warming up leftovers! 
Just outside the guest rooms

    One last breakfast with Jill and her son before we headed home.  She made an amazing egg souffle with English muffin and BACON! The strawberry preserves were delicious as well and of course fruit. 

   We had a great weekend and I will definitely be staying at bed and breakfasts again! Phillip W. Smith is an awesome place to stay and a wonderful atmosphere.



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tennessee Safari Park- Alamo, TN

    Looking for a quick day trip in west Tennessee? Look no further than Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo!  It won't even take a full day to go through so there will be time to catch a few other things, if you want. My family did the tour in about 3 hours.  It is off the beaten path but the signage will lead you right to it.
  One thing that is a MUST with this tour is buying feed!  We bought 4 buckets for the 5 of us and that wasn't enough.  The Emu's are hungry and greedy!  All of the animals on the drive are accustomed to people and not afraid to walk up and eat. The Llamas and alpacas are super cute too.

  The drive has so many different types of animals that its too long for me to type them all out but here is their list. Some our favorites were the alpacas, zebras and buffalo.  Not sure that the kids liked the buffalo as much as I did. One of them stole my daughter's food bowl! 
    After the drive, there is another walk through portion of the park. Some of my favorites are roaming free....Peacocks!!!!

   There is a small petting area of farm animals on the backside as well as a few other exotic species to see. Inside the small gift shop, you'll find stuffed animals, candy and such, as with any zoo. They also have an interesting Emu/Ostrich nursery. 
  Also, while you are in the gift shop, don't forget to buy a cup of carrots to feed the giraffe! He's so cute. 

Be sure to check out their website for times as they vary with seasons and the weather.  ricing is $12 per adult and $8 for children and is CASH ONLY. Tennessee Safari Park is a place we will definitely be visiting again in the future!  If you stop by, let them know we sent you. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Orlando

This time of year is absolutely amazing in Central Florida! The weather is typically just right with very few rain showers, the crowds are not horribly bad and there is one other reason that makes February through April a great time to visit Central Florida. I know you may be thinking Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, and while you are close, we need to drive a little farther towards Orlando to find the reason that I am speaking about, Universal Studios Orlando’s Mardi Gras Celebration.  That’s right, Universal Studios pulls out all the stops for this celebration every year. I have to admit that Mardi Gras is most likely the number one reason why we keep our annual passes to Universal Studios.

If you have never been to Universal Studios Orlando’s Mardi Gras let me sum it up for you: 

Amazing food + Fantastic parade + Entertaining concerts = Great time had by all!

Let’s start off with the food! The French Quarter Courtyard is jam packed with Mardi Gras favorites like Jambalaya, Creole Gumbo, Andouille Sausage, Red Beans and Rice, and of course Beignets.  Last year I tried the Andouille Sausage and it was fantastic, just the right amount of flavor and kick.  Each year we will grab some beignets (be prepared for a line) and sit down in our spot and wait for the parade.

This is not just any parade either. The Mardi Gras Parade starts at 7:45 pm and is filled with the most spectacular parade floats and stilted street performers that you will be temporarily brought into their world. The performers in the parade have a way of making you feel special and they are sure to try everything to get you cheering and screaming! I almost forgot…when watching the parade be sure to keep your head up and eyes peeled because riders on the floats throw beads to the crowd and some of them come in pretty fast. Catching the beads is my son’s absolute favorite thing to do during Mardi Gras and from looking around during the parade, I don’t think he is the only one. Passholders have the opportunity to sign up to ride on the floats and throw beads. We have tried each year and have yet to be selected. Still time this year!

After the parade makes its way past, you will want to head over to the Music Plaza Stage (directly in front of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster) because at 8:30pm the Mardi Gras concert will begin (select nights).  We have seen some of our favorites during the Mardi Gras concerts including Daughtry, Jessie J, KellyClarkson and Barenaked Ladies to name a few.  If you are able to go for more than one night of Mardi Gras I suggest seeing the parade on a night that you are not really interested in the concert. If you are really interested in the concert it is a good idea to set up camp early and just watch the parade go by from a distance.  This year we are very excited to once again see Jessie J and Adam Lambert as well as seeing Fall Out Boy for the first time.

Well there you have it, why we love Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Orlando and why we spend many of the weekends during February, March and April at this park.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Everything is Awesome

   The lyric from The LEGO Movie’s signature song perfectly sums up the new 4-D movie, The LEGO Movie 4-D: A New Adventure. This awesome theatrical attraction can be seen exclusively at LEGOLAND theme parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Centers. The LEGO Movie 4-D: A New Adventure brings Emmet and his friends back together. It’s a sequel to the blockbuster The LEGO Movie, where Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure is mistakenly identified as the key to saving the world.

The LEGO Movie 4-D: A New Adventure is set after the events of the movie. This 12 ½-minute story finds the gang entangled in an Evil Secret Plot involving a mysterious theme park inspired by their adventures in The LEGO Movie, one that requires them to call on the Master Builder skills of a surprise ally to save the day.

Returning to voice their iconic characters are actors Elizabeth Banks (Wyldstyle), Nick Offerman (MetalBeard), Charlie Day (Benny) and Alison Brie (Unikitty).

Added to the cast is Risky Business. Who is Risky Business? He is a unique mix of arrogance and frustration, and is voiced by Patton Oswalt. But you will have to see the movie to find out all about his evil plans.

Almost 200 artists and technicians at Los Angeles-based Pure Imagination Studios supplied their expertise in crafting cutting-edge 3D computer animation. It has a mix of humor, action, and adventure wrapped into 4-D fun. Even the red carpet entrances are interactive. It is a great addition to LEGOLAND.

I think this new multisensory experience is a must see for LEGOLAND guests. We love it. 
For more information, visit and

When you go to LEGOLAND check out the LEGOLAND Hotels.  More than two million LEGO bricks make up over 2,000 Lego models all over the hotels! Choose the room theme you like the best.Talk about an awesome sleepover!
 LEGO Friends Rooms are now available to book!
 Your fans can be some of the first to stay and play in their very own piece of Heartlake City! Complete with the CafĂ©, Stables and guests' very own LEGO tree house. The themed rooms are available for stays beginning March 10, 2016. Limited availability but a lot of awesomeness!
Lori Fries, Official Legoland Blogger

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Day 9- When in Rome

   Woke up to crazy swollen feet today. I've been drinking a ton of water but I guess not enough! Breakfast was a dry cake and water. Our first stop today was the Coliseum. There were people outside that were illegally selling souvenirs. I could tell by the way they wanted me to hide when I was handing them my money. Roman guards were watching things going on outside the gates. If you wanted a photo with them, it was 10€!  It was so neat to see these ancient ruins but there was a lot of scaffolding surrounding it for cleaning and maintenance. After looking around and taking photos of the inside of the Coliseum, we explored the surrounding grounds.

   Next on our exploration today was the Vatican. After a quick food truck lunch of a pizza panini, Pringles and water, we headed that way. The line to get into the Vatican was long, as we waited on our guide. The walk consisted of a ton of steps and several hills. 
   Once inside the museum part of the Vatican, we were told we couldn't use flash photography. There were so many interesting artifacts in the museum! Upon entering the Sistine Chapel we were not allowed to talk or take any type of photos. There were even guards inside to usher you out if you did. Once we got into St. Paul's Cathedral, we could resume taking any kind of pictures. The marble and heavy wood used in here was gorgeous, as were the outside grounds of the Vatican! 
   After we completed the guided tour we had a bit of time to shop. I purchased an authentic rosary and had it blessed at the Vatican. We were to meet up with the rest of the group at the bottom of the Spanish  Steps before heading off to dinner. 
   Supper was authentic pizza at Restorante degli Amici. It was delicious! For dessert, we once again had gelato. 
  After the meal we were taken on a night tour of Rome. Most of this was via bus but there was still some walking. We saw the Pantheon as well as the Trevi fountain. The Trevi was closed for repairs and cleaning but we could still view it. I also found a cannoli! After a long day of touring, we headed back to the hotel to rest up before Pompeii.