Yacht Adventures: Bald Head Island

Sitting up top at the helm of what might be called a yacht, I asked Tyler if people thought we owned this boat. His scoff came a little quickly for my tastes.

“Definitely not.” he replied. I’m not sure what he was saying about us…

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This is a 41 foot Carolina Breeze. 

This Saturday I served as first mate (if first mates do absolutely nothing helpful) to Tyler who captained a charter from Wrightsville Beach to Bald Head Island. BHI is typically accessed by ferry as there’s no bridge and cars are not allowed on the island. Everyone travels by golf cart or bike. The island is just shy of six square miles so it’s easily managed. Although there are only 250 full time residents it is a busy place when the weather warms up. Even though it is only March the porch of Mojo’s was packed and we passed people everywhere we went.

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This was my second trip to Bald Head. The first time we rented a golf cart and just rode around exploring. We stopped at a couple stores and spent some time relaxing on the beach. It was mainly just to see what the fuss was all about. This time we really dove in. We only had about 4 hours while we waited on Tyler’s customers to play a round of golf but we were able to do a lot. First stop lunch! Mojo’s didn’t disappoint. They have a beautiful porch overlooking the marina where we feasted on mahi mahi fish tacos and a philly cheesesteak. The tacos had a citrus slaw and a jalapeno aioli on top of juicy, flavorful fish. Delish!

To work off our meal we brought a tandem kayak and explored the creeks. It was low tide so several times we found ourselves stuck and had to push off back into deeper waters. Tip for next time: check the tides. It was still beautiful surroundings checking out the trees, birds and houses bordering the creeks. Being limited on time we barely even scratched the surface of the areas we could have explored. The desire to kayak BHI was not satisfied in the least.

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Bald Head is at the mouth of the Cape Fear which makes for beautiful views but also awesome beach combing. Tyler thinks I’m weirdly obsessed with collecting driftwood but I think it’s a very reasonable hobby. Driftwood is beautiful and if Pinterest tells us anything, reclaimed wood projects are necessary to be a complete person. We walked the beach for quite a while and found many treasures but I only took home two small pieces of wood. What will power! It helped that I was full from what must be the world’s biggest ice cream scoop. Sandpiper Cafe serves ice cream scoops so large you should consider sharing. I don’t say that lightly. Tyler and I both delighted in Old Baldy ice cream which was vanilla with cookie dough AND brownie chunks. Then I felt a little sick but it was worth it.

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Bald Head Island is far too expensive to stay overnight but it’s worth the ferry ride to lay on the beaches, kayak the creeks, eat enormous ice creams, and still on my list to do- hang out with sea turtles! Now if only I could keep going back by yacht…

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This gives you a glimpse at how shallow the Intracoastal Waterway can be at low tide. These people walked out to the edge of the channel!

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Another example of the precarious Intracoastal Wateray (ICW)- a capsized shrimp boat!

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The evening view when you’re living large on the yacht.

Misadventure in New York: Proving My Number One Hobby is FOOD

As I’m sure you already know, the true highlight of my trip was eating. Eating a lot.

For a trip to be successful you need to do a lot of research or have incredibly reliable guides. I chose the later. Before arrival I emailed one of my favorite ladies and my cousin (equally lovely) for some suggestions. Without specifically asking (and I was going to ask) my cousin suggested I try Tal Bagels on the Upper East Side. So Friday morning I headed out with only one true destination in mind. Did this bagel change my life? Did it blow my mind? No. Was it EXACTLY what I wanted? Yes. Warm, toasted, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, smothered in cream cheese perfection. I walked away from this bagel with a deep, inner satisfaction.

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When we met up with my cousin Friday afternoon, we didn’t really have the opportunity to eat. She was a great tour guide though, immediately ushering us into Strand Bookstore. After I bought a book for the husband (that I plan on reading as soon as he’s done), we started walking. We hit Washington Square Park before ending up at Purl. I should have taken a picture at Purl because it was entirely picturesque, but I was too in awe. Such beautiful, soft yarns and prettily crafted scarves and blankets everywhere. My wallet prevented me from purchasing anything  which was probably for the best…IMG_0320

Part of wanting to eat a lot when visiting some place is balancing it out. In New York we walked between 10-12 miles every day. Sometimes that meant we had to take a break with a soft serve cone. It’s hard not to when there’s an ice cream truck on every corner. I was pretty impressed that I only ate two of these rainbow bad boys while I was there. IMG_0335

A meal can be great eaten alone, but a great meal is fantastic eaten in the right company. My mom has some wonderful friends in NYC that provided wonderful company every night we were there. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of the best food we ate while we were there. Before we saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime we ate at Barbetta. Life changing. Truly, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The gnocchi melted in my mouth. The wine was incredible. The service entertaining and over the top. The oldest restaurant in NYC owned by the same family has survived for a very good reason.

The last night we ate at a place called Hill Country Barbecue. It was…more accurate than I would have expected. You walked up to a counter in front of the meat pit to order your food. Pictures of Texas Hill Country cover every wall. Only Shiner beers are served on tap. Behind the stage is a Texas flag made of bandanas and other cloths. The posters on the wall advertise shows like Bob Schneider and Rosie Flores. It was like being in a parallel universe.

While the company and ambience was fantastic, the brisket was only pretty good. Let’s say for NYC (or NC for that matter) it was fantastic. If I had been in Lockhart, I would have walked right out…and into every other barbecue restaurant (all of them, not just one- Brisket, I miss you!).

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I try not to be overwhelmingly touristy but sometimes…it can’t be helped. On Sunday on my way to the Met I needed to stop for food. I dropped in a chain french inspired bakery for a hot tea and croissant…and then I took a really poorly down selfie in front of Tiffany’s. I can only be SO awesome y’all. My apologies. IMG_0343

New York City. Go there. Eat a lot. Walk it off. Repeat.

Ice Cream is the Best Thing

Once upon a time, in a state about half a country away I decided to fulfill a life long dream and visit the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory. It was only a short drive from Austin and I took three ice cream lovers with me to round out the experience.

Best ice cream pals ever.

Best ice cream pals ever. 

It was a beautiful day. We were very excited to take a free factory tour and sample to our hearts’ delight.

I cannot say anything bad about the experience. Our tiny, young tour guide obviously thought we were silly (sort-of) grownups but gave as good of a tour (if not better) than you can expect from someone who can’t drink legally. The ice cream samples were plentiful and the giant scoop I enjoyed as part of my tour left me more than fulfilled afterwards.

This makes me really happy.

This makes me really happy.

The tour did; however, completely change the way I approach ice cream now. Our tour guide enthusiastically showed us a room where milk (or cream?) was shooting through pipes and getting prepared for deliciousness when she mentioned the number of cows needed for to make their cold sweet treats each day. In my memory she said 100,000 cows were milked within 200 miles of Brenham, Texas and shipped to the factory. The Internet tells it’s more like 60,000. Either way it’s a lot. All I could think when she said that was, “That’s a lot of cows. Probably not a lot of happy cows.”

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Let me be clear. I have absolutely no way in knowing how Blue Bell’s dairies/dairy partners treat their cows…but the realization of how many animals have to be involved to make Blue Bell or any large ice cream producer really bothered me. For an ice cream addict like myself, it also really affected the way I shop. Now I deliberately seek out small batch and/or organic ice cream. This may seem like an obvious choice to some wise shoppers but my love of ice cream had always outweighed my ability to shop environmentally.

In Wilmington I have access to a couple good options. Front Porch Carolina Churned Ice Cream is sold at my local Harris Teeter (although I wish they had more flavors there!) and for a scoop on the town I can stop by Tar Heel Creamery. A pint of the strawberry is in my fridge now and I tasted the apple pie flavor. Both delish. I definitely wish there were more options (mainly because I specifically NEED Peanut Butter Chocolate ice cream almost daily) but beggars shouldn’t be choosers when they’re still eating tasty cold treats all the dang time.

When I traveled in Europe after my semester abroad, we decided we could eat a scoop of gelato every day. Yes, I did get to my heaviest weight ever. It was totally worth it.

When I traveled in Europe after my semester abroad, we decided we could eat a scoop of gelato every day. Yes, I did get to my heaviest weight ever. It was totally worth it.

Sunshine In My Step

I have some fail-proof ways to brighten my every day.

Kombucha

Kombucha is such a treat to me. One day I’d like to make it myself but right now I don’t have the space or the patience. In Austin there are a lot of places that brew and sell. My favorites are Kickin’ Kombucha and Buddha’s Brew. Buddha’s Brew is available on tap at the Downtown Farmer’s Market and Kickin’ Kombucha can be purchased by the growler at Whole Foods.

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In desperate times Kombucha may be substituted with Dr. Pepper. In a can. Plastic bottles need not apply.

Dancing

If you’re not sure what to listen to just try this playlist for a bit.

Peanut butter flavored ice cream

Any ice cream that involves peanut butter will do, but if you can get a hold of Haagen Dazs Peanut Butter Pie it will change your life. And possibly your pant size.

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Going outside

A short walk on the hike and bike trail at Town Lake is an instant mood lifter.

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Today is my dad’s birthday so I’ll be brightening my day with this photo. Today, this one is my favorite.

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Is Ice Cream the Cure?

Now that boyfriend is gone I feel like such a little girl, sitting here mourning the loss of a first boyfriend. Most people go through this in high school and I’m sitting here in my high heels at my desk at work wondering if I’ll ever see him again.

Of course when I was what I consider a little girl, seventeen, I did have a boyfriend of sorts for a short period of time who left me with all sorts of different feels and questiosn – Why does he treat me this why? Why do I care for someone who doesn’t care for me?

Now while I know the experience was positive I only want to know: when will I stop missing you? And how much Target brand Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream will I have to ingest in the meantime?