International Dining in Key West

No matter where we travel, finding good food is a priority. We love restaurants that feature fresh, local ingredients, and we often learn as much about a culture from its cuisine as we do from its people. We hit the restaurant jackpot on our recent trip to Key West, Florida.

Key West Keeps Calling Me Back

I'm really not someone who likes to return to a vacation spot time and again. Although I can certainly understand the attraction of predictability with restaurants, accommodations, and attractions, I'm typically more into the thrill of first-time discovery. The exception to that rule, at least for me, seems to be Key West.

Biltmore Estate: Flowers, Film Fantasies, Wine and Chocolate

As Mike and Ben were on their annual guys' dive trip, I was treating my mother to a visit to Biltmore Estate for Mother's Day. I've been to Biltmore at least a dozen times, and they manage to change things up so that I see something new every time.

Florida to the Bahamas … by Ferry

Far too often, I find myself deep down the rabbit hole on travel sites, learning of interesting places that, heretofore, had never crossed my mind, but have instantly found a place on my Must Do travel list. Sometimes I bring the distraction upon myself by purposefully visiting one of my favorite cheap travel sites just to see what deal I can snag. Sometimes the rabbit hole opens before me while I'm booking a hotel for a conference. Who knew how awesome Madison, Wisconsin, could be?! And sometimes I'm lured into the cavernous, gaping maw by a clickbait article that seems too good to be true. Weather.com, you are the CHAMPION of this. Months ago, I was looking at projections for the 2017 hurricane season to see if our upcoming dive trip to Roatan, Honduras, would see good weather or foul, when I started down the proverbial rabbit hole. One interesting article led to another until I finally came across an advertisement for a fast ferry crossing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Grand Bahama.

Why We Travel: “Join the Navy, See the World”

In looking for our next home, it must be a place that inspires stories. These are some of the stories from our life’s adventures that have inspired us. They are why we travel. As you learned of my father in Mike's post about our Australia adventure, Dan Smith is a man of action. He is also a man of the world, and his travels began at an early age. So did mine, thanks to his annual training with the U.S. Navy. He is why I first began to travel, and this is his story of a life of adventure.  High school just could not hold my attention. I was born in San Diego, California, but I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When I was in high school, I was always daydreaming of traveling to exotic locations. I dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy, and my navy boot camp (basic training) was in San Diego. After boot camp, I completed specialized training at Treasure Island in San Francisco. I was transferred to a small ship homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. That ship, the U.S.S. Courtney (DE-1021), was set to circumnavigate South America along with four other ships. Our mission was to conduct naval exercises with most South American navies.

Bushwhackers, Blue Angels, and a Baptist Church Bar in Orange Beach

As Mike mentioned in his last post, we were in Orange Beach, Alabama, recently for a destination wedding. It's a small, laid-back community that sits on the border of Alabama and Florida with Gulf Shores on one side and Perdido Beach on the other. This is the first road trip we've taken in a while, which was a nice change of pace. However, we've completely forgotten how to pack for road trips; since we didn't have any airline baggage restrictions, we just took all of the things. We arrived in Orange Beach pretty late in the evening, but we lucked out with some terrific Gulf shrimp and housemade chips at The Flying Harpoon 2, which serves a full menu until 1 a.m. We thought we'd lucked out with their live music, too, until we realized that the lead singer was running late and the female drummer was filling in for him on vocals. She was fantastic ... and we'll leave it at that.