Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: holidays (Page 1 of 5)

Krause Springs Pt 2 – Bikes and Hikes and Hammocks

When last we left off, I was heading to bed early (ish) Thursday night because Friday we had another sort of adventure planned…

This year, instead of our mountain bikes and riding a few miles around the property, we brought our road bikes.  Matt was also on vacation fairly close to us, so we met up to go play bikes.  The weather was supposed to be rainy until 10am, so we planned that as our meetup time, but the sky held out on us so it was just humid and gross and sticky.  At present time, that kind of weather is no big deal, frankly, I’ve not only ridden but ran 10k in worse conditions a few weeks ago, but at that point I hadn’t acclimated yet and was WHINY AS HECK. 

I also started with not very cold water and no ice in my bottles, and one had watered down crystal light ice tea.  This is not the recipe for success.  I had to pull over a few times to cool down when my heart rate spiked.  We tried to get water on the way back at a trailer park but no one was around to let us use their spout, so we rode back to town on fumes and I went immediately to the cold pool.  In my kit.

While at least half of it was a miserable ride, the views were worth the suffering. 

Again, it’s funny how your perspective changes halfway into triathlon season.  Now, this ride wouldn’t have been a big deal.  Seven weeks ago, two hours on my bike in the heat tuckered me out!  Acclimation is real, y’all.  The rest of the day was for eating and reading and some dips in the pool and a side order of napping.  It didn’t suck.

I got up for a few minutes to take pictures of the sunset and then went right back to being a sloth.  It was lovely.

My only goal for the day was to play with the fireworks setting on my camera while burning some sparklers.  It was a super productive evening!

On Saturday, I did have a major thing on my To Do list I needed to check off – take pictures of the falls area.  It was one of my favorite places to take pictures last year, and that was just with my crappy phone camera. 

However, the weather had other plans for the first part of the day.  After a lunch of chicken, sausage, onions, and peppers, we had barely made it out of the pop up to hike down to the lake with our cameras when the storm started to blow in.  It did make some really neat pictures, though.  Maybe not the best quality, most ended up super blown out and I had to massively level and color correct them, but I think they convey how SURREAL it looked out there.

Later in the afternoon, we finally got our window and we hightailed it down to the falls area. 

The fifth picture in the set will be my new age meditation album cover when I get around to recording it, hah.  The seventh picture in the set is one of my favorite pictures I’ve shot ever of all time.  It looks like fairyland.  I was a little grumpy about the lack of sunlight, but I’m pretty sure they turned out alright.  I think a grey day is kind of a rarity mid-July and I’ll certainly be able to get sunny sunlight pictures next year when we come back (because, yeah, that’s happening).

I’ve never seen the falls and the springs area so empty on a weekend!  I know it was raining, but we don’t melt, people!  I know I don’t, so I enjoyed the extra elbow room.  I tried to not be super pathetic and sad that we were leaving the next day, but it was hard because it was the truth.  I consoled myself with the last of the hot dogs and pasta salad for dinner and stayed up way too late not wanting vacation to end.

While I could have probably used more sleep Sunday morning, I got up around 9am so I could do a bunch of “one last things”.

I took one last read and nap in the hammock (and a few pictures of the view as well).  I took one last dip in the pool.  We made one last batch of bean and cheese breakfast tacos.  I saw one last froggie.  And then, we put turtle home away and drove our hippie selves back home for one of the most satisfying showers in the history of the universe.

If six nights wasn’t enough last year, five nights was DEFINITELY not enough this year.  Obviously, it’s too early to really completely solidify next year’s plans, but I think I’d really like to camp the whole week.  I didn’t get a chance to break open the paints, and we didn’t touch any games we brought, I could have ridden bikes more, and even without all that, I could have just read, relaxed, and taken dips in the pool for another few days, happily. 

Even though it’s just seven weeks removed, this trip feels like a lifetime ago.  My day to day has gotten so hectic, which is absolutely normal for this time of year, but still, it’s a stark contrast to the peace, the easy days, the silence.  I can’t imagine having so little to fill my time, so little to do, but not being bored in the slightest.  I’m looking forward to remembering it all over again next year.

You can see my full gallery HERE.

Krause Springs Part 1 – fourth of July, butterfly gardens, and wonderful laziness

I had magical memories of our 2017 Krause Springs trip.

I was wondering, even if a little bit, whether the magic I felt was the newness of camping with the popup.  It was just an entirely different experience than any other vacation I had taken in my life and I was hoping that essence would still be there at Krause.

And it totally was.  Even if this trip was different, it wasn’t any less amazing.

After a super smooth set up, we enjoyed our fairly standard first night meal when we don’t race the next day – hot dogs and veggie pasta salad, with an adult beverage this time because we could!  Usually, the first night of camping means being good, because we have to swim, bike, run, or do all of the three the next day, and in this case, we had ZERO plans.  However, our lack of sleep the night before limited it to just ONE and after the little fireworks show, we crawled in bed with our books and proceeded to sleep blissfully for 10 hours.

Wednesday was the fourth of July holiday proper, and we woke up to rain.  We had a delicious breakfast of bean and cheese tacos, and I spent some time coloring, intending to get warmed up to paint later in the week.  Then we took a walk to the butterfly garden.  Zliten spent some time drawing and I ran around and photographed everything. 

I wasn’t patient enough to get a picture of an actual butterfly or hummingbird, but I got some nice scenery before it started to POUR.  We hung back in the camper and made some fairly epic campfire stew and read and relaxed watching the rain drip outside our open camper windows. 

The persistent rain forced us to cook our first meal in the camper, and it actually worked out quite well.  When you don’t have to deal with the wind on the stove, you get a nice even temperature.

We lucked out and got a break in the rain pretty much JUST for the fireworks setup and show.  The rain had kept it cool and I’m sure there was less potential for fire hazards, so it worked out for everyone.  So much BIG KABOOMS!

The fireworks shows here are just plain epic, and I had so much fun playing with my new camera’s fireworks mode.  Zliten had to remind me to actually sit back and WATCH a bit instead of take pictures of every firework.

The next day, we slept until we couldn’t possibly stay in bed any longer, listening to the sounds of  a light drizzle on the popup canvas.  Once it cleared up, we had some breakfast and soon after, lunch because we were still hungry.

There was a lot of wonderful laziness on Thursday.  I read and napped and read and jumped in the pool and then read a little more, but I did take a hike to get some pretty footage of the area around the tent camping areas.

Our one big food experiment was campfire pizza.  It ended up a little burnt on the bottom, and it was more like a pizza inspired casserole, but all the delicious tastes were there.  Would totally make again.

Later, we headed down to the falls.

I neglected to bring the strap for my camera this vacation, so I spent the entire time in the natural springs clutching my camera for dear life.  I can report that I still have it! Success!

As the sun went down, I had to run around the campsite once again to see where the light was pretty and take more photos.  These weren’t the best grounds for epic sunset photos, but I enjoyed watching them each evening!

We took it easy that night and went to bed early to be ready for adventures in the morning.  But for that, you’ll need to skip to Part 2.

If you want to skip the words and just see all the photos, click here.

One Year Campiversary

Twelve months ago, I had no idea this was going to be one of my favorite things in the world.

ICYMI, last year our company moved offices, and we had some extra time off around the July 4th holiday.  Obviously, this prompted me to start looking at vacations, and when I found prices to be outrageous, I lamented that I wish we could just go camping, but not in July without air conditioning.

We started looking up rentals, and long story short, ended up purchasing a used Jayco pop up.  We obtained Turtle Home from a nice gentleman who had used it approximately eight nights in the previous nine years, for the cost of approximately double the price of a flight and accommodations in Colorado (the cheapest place we could go) over that long weekend.

Our first foray was six nights, which was a little overwhelming to me (the most I’d ever camped was two), but the site was an hour from home, so if it didn’t work out, we could just pack up.  We didn’t do that, in fact, I didn’t even want to go home when it was time.  I still don’t know at what point I’d get tired of camping in the pop up, but the answer is at least more than one week.

I expected the AC in the camper to put out a little bit of cool air so it wasn’t completely miserable to sleep.  I didn’t expect to need a hat, a thick comforter, and fleece pullover with it on low and sleep much more soundly than normal.  I figured it would be roomier than a tent, but I didn’t figure it would be spacious enough for two people to be able to lounge around in it comfortably with plenty of personal space.  I hoped I would have a decent time camping, I didn’t expect it to hook me as completely as it did.

I’ve spent 24 nights in the turtle and at the end of this week it will be 29 – that’s about a month of my life in the last year camping.  It’s been invaluable for races – it’s cheap, relaxing, comfortable, and sometime you can even stay AT THE VENUE and wake up with the race in your backyard, which is super convenient for someone who is not a morning person.  It’s been great for training, it’s nice to roll out of a campsite and be able to take a long bike ride in the country without navigating city traffic to get there and back.  It’s been amazing for time away to unwind and relax.  My brain shuts up a little bit after a few days in the woods and it’s a beautiful thing.

Our first year of camping included:

Even if you ignore the other trips, we’ve saved at least 10 nights of race hotel accommodations – considering the average hotel room price with taxes and fees, that would definitely be closing in on 1,000$ if not already there (for example, Hotter’n’hell was a 45$ campsite vs 150-200$ for basic rooms in the area).

In our Sophomore year of camping we plan to do these trips:

  • Krausse Springs for fourth of July again.  I’m super excited to have this as my view for another 5 days.  I’m super excited to paint, ride bikes, traipse around the property with my camera, read, make some great campfire food, and just chill the eff out for a while.
  • We are toying with the idea of camping as a training camp type weekend sometime this season at Granger Lake.
  • Race camping for Waco 70.3.  First camping half ironman!
  • A few nights in the Fredricksburg area over the holidays.  Y’know, they have free buses that take you to wineries and back.  That sounds like it doesn’t suck.
  • Mayyyyybe Pace Bend Ultra.  As part of a relay.  Or crew.

…and I’m sure we’ll be doing some more races and hopefully a few weekends where we take off and just enjoy being outside and relax.

I’m super excited for five more days in the woods.  Can we go yet?

Florida Cruise Part 2: Roatan and Costa Maya

Last I left off, we were in not-so-sunny Cozumel.

However, rainy Cozumel is just fine with me.

Especially, just fine for enjoying some tasty beverages at Senior Frogs in port after a successful diving day.

Can’t wait to come back in the fall for the Ironman 70.3, so I had to become the M dot in anticipation!  After a fantastic day of diving and drinks, all we really could do was just enjoy another delicious dinner and then head to bed.

Thursday was another early wakeup for Tabyata Beach.  While I love diving, I was most excited for this port.  Last year I snorkeled here for about four hours and ended up seeing some amazing things!

More lobster friends.

Blue angelfish being just a little coy.

Balloonfish!  I see Porcupine fish everywhere but rarely their darker cousins.

Squid!  I danced with their pod for a bit and even got to see them shoot ink and swim away… and then get curious again and come back.

We got out around noon to eat lunch, one that I had been looking forward to all year.  BBQ chicken, rice and beans, and coleslaw sounds like nothing special, doubly so when it’s dark meat chicken (which usually is a deal breaker for me), but something about it (maybe the ocean air, but probably just the delicious sauce) makes it magical.

We went back into the ocean for what we hoped would be another great snorkeling session, but the seas got rough, and instead, we just got raked over a bunch of coral in the current.  Y’all know me.  I’m a strong swimmer and I can persevere in just about any conditions.  This was bad.  When we got caught, all we could do is just hope the surge sent us in the direction where the least amount of pokey and scratchy things were at.  I wore my long sleeved rashguard, which saved me from most of it because I aimed my back at the reef, but I wasn’t wearing my long pants so some particularly feisty coral caught my knee right before we found clearer water.

We dried off, got Zliten patched up, and then took our toys and went home.  You KNOW it’s a bummer of a day when I don’t spend every last minute in the water.  The rest of the day was spent playing cards, seeing a really kick ass aqua show involving high diving, trampolines, and gymnastics (so, pretty much teenage me’s dream, and even 39-year-old me kinda wanted to go play if they would have let me), and another great dinner and bed for one more early wake up.

Friday was our last port, Costa Maya.  I actually got myself to the breakfast buffet instead of having my butler Zliten deliver it to my room and found all the veggies (and bacon).

I had zero expectations at this port.  I booked a snorkel and open bar tour mostly because I wanted transport to a beach and a place to sit and have some drinkies and it cost about the same as just that.  The snorkel tour was predictably terrible with a giant group of mostly newbies (the times I got kicked in the head  = much greater than zero), but we went back out after and saw some cool stuff.

Lionfish!

These yellow stingrays were everywhere.  I’ve never seen so many!

And after two and a half hours of snorkeling, right as I was getting out, I saw something I’d never seen before in about a foot of water.  My new camera rocks for getting such a great picture in the silty murky water.  After looking it up, it’s an albino mantis shrimp!  Holy crap!

I got dragged out of the water since Zliten’s owies from yesterday were hurting him, and we spent the rest of the day on the beach.  It oscillated between sun and rain, and we were served margaritas as quickly as we could finish them.

We got super authentic nachos with the local “plastic” cheese. 😛

These fine folks gave us a fantastic massage in the rain.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so relaxed.  Happy.  Place.

And then we spent some time at the pool bar before we absolutely had to go and the ship would leave us there.  I had much more fun in Costa Maya than I expected and would definitely consider going back to that same beach next time.

It was fancy night #2, and somehow I have zero pictures of that, but we enjoyed a lobster dinner.  This was from last year, but we can just pretend.

Then, we visited theater one more time for the Blue Planet show which was amazing – I was most impressed that the same folks from Mama Mia and some of the acrobats also were in this show as well.  Busy performers!  We hit the outdoor dance party next in the Solarium and danced and had fun, but my stomach wasn’t feeling super great so I headed to bed well before everything closed down.

Saturday, I slept in until I couldn’t sleep anymore.  I think I made it until about 10am.

First on the agenda was hitting the pool.  Instead, we ran for the hot tub because it was windy, rainy, and nasty out.

We grabbed a little lunch and then atoned for my sins with a pretty hard (for a stationary bike) 30 minute ride and 45 minutes of kettlebells. These statues we called “flower butts” greeted us before and after every workout.

It was gross and rainy and they actually even closed off the outer decks in the afternoon, and I was kind of over my camera at that point, so please enjoy this (still cloudy but not as nasty of a day) picture from earlier in the week.  Instead, we played cards all afternoon.  I think we got in 9 games total through the whole week, and I don’t remember the win/loss ratio, but I’m pretty sure it favored my Dad. 🙂  After a while, we tried to go to the ice show, but we couldn’t get seats together, so instead we packed up our suitcases, lounged a bit, and headed out for one more delicious meal.

I was feeling really yucky after dinner but a little lounging in bed made me feel better, so we went to the last comedy show of the cruise.  The comic was very good, but I felt even worse by the end of it, and spent the night sweating through my pajamas and then freezing and then tossing and turning and I was not thrilled with the situation in the slightest.

Sunday, we said goodbye to the ship.

…and our nice view from our central park room.  The rest of the day involved a very very tired, sick, and whiny me spending 2 hours in line for customs, then about 6 hours at the airport waiting for our flight to Austin.  I can’t think of a time when I was more ready to be home from a trip and I was immensely happy we were off for Memorial Day so I didn’t have to drag my sick ass to work the next day.

Even though the last half had a few bummers, I thoroughly enjoyed the vacation, the itinerary, the ship, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.  My parents are actually flying back to do it again in September.  The ginormous ship did mean a lot more people and lines and crowds in places, but that was balanced out with a bigger selection of things to do and eat than the smaller ships, many places to jump in the pool, and a super nice gym, so it worked out.

I say I’d like to take it a little easier next time, but the thing is – if there’s water with fishies, I’m going to drag my camera rig and swim in it as long as humanly possible.  It’s just in my nature.  However, next time, I’d like to request some better conditions, less stormy skies, and skip the side of getting sick at the end!

Florida Cruise Part 1: Allure of the Seas, Nassau, Cozumel

I don’t know why I’ve put this one off for so long.  I think I’ve written so many cruise recaps that I was trying to figure out how to make this one more interesting, but I think you’ll just have to indulge me on this travel log.

Saturday, we flew to Florida, and entertained ourselves in extremely rainy weather by eating at the Sweet Tomatoes salad buffet after a soggy three quarter mile walk, playing cards, and having taco bell for dinner because, lazy (it was right next to the hotel).

Sunday morning, we planned to run, but it was still so rainy we went back to sleep instead.  I did get in a swim in the hotel pool even though it looked like this.

Between the rain and the humidity, my hair looked like I stuck my hand in a light socket the whole time.  *shrug*.  The good news is that from hotel to shuttle to port, we were on the ship and eating lunch in about an hour which is just friggin’ amazing, especially considering the size of the humongous Allure of the Seas.

Then, we checked out the gym, which was actually FABULOUS, and we spent more time there over the cruise than we expected.  I knocked out a nice progression 5k run (shorter than I had wanted but I didn’t feel like an hour on the treadmill) and then about 45 minutes of weights.  They had a great set of kettlebells which I made copious use of during the week.

Then, we did the normal boat drills, unpacking, cards with the fam, and then dinner.  Our waiters John and Simon were some of the best and most fun we’ve ever had, and we looked forward to dinner every day.  While it’s been too long for me to list out everything I ate, or even the highlights, really (if I didn’t take a picture of it), but we thought the food on this ship was a little better, even if the dishes were mostly the same, than our normal ship out of Galveston.

Normally, we go explore the ship and stay up and play a bit, but not this evening.  Instead of two sea days, this itinerary started bright and early in Nassau for diving the next day, so we went to bed pretty much right after supper and prepping our gear.

Monday was an early alarm (6:30 which was 5:30 back home).  I groggily did the wake up things while my husband was up and peppy and got us a plate of breakfast to split.

The giant tropical storm really mucked with our weather all week.  Don’t let some of these photographs lie – I edited the heck out of things so it looks all sunny and gorgeous, and while there were some moments of sun, it rained every day – at least a little, some days a LOT.

Nassau diving with Stuart’s Cove was something I remembered fondly from a previous trip, it actually made us choose this cruise.  However, this specific day, the conditions were crappy, we dove with a bunch of newbies, and the divemaster seemed to be over it – he went very quickly.  He said “follow ME not the fish” to which I muttered “yeah, we’re going to have problems” because I will always (in conditions I feel safe in) follow the fish.

It was not a complete bust.  I got some nice photos.

Quite a few gorgeous grouper.

Usually these crabs like to hide, but this one posed for me right on top of the reef.

However, overall, I felt kind of rushed and the visibility was just not great.  All dives can’t be Bonaire dives, I guess!

After dropping our gear and grabbing a very quick snack on board, we consoled ourselves with some Nassau beers at a bar in an alley.  Please pity us.

We dressed up for fancy dinner.  I had some super yummy cilantro crusted cod, but my husband ended up with some prime rib that he said was one of the best he’s ever had.

This is as dressed up as my parents get.  Aren’t they adorable though?

We had a few more drinks after dinner, perhaps tried out the late night pizza place like I totally said I was not going to do, and tucked ourselves into bed just after midnight.

Tuesday was an At Sea day which meant sleeping in and then really getting to explore the ship.

We hit the gym again and then tried out the “healthy” lunch area (which, I’ll give them credit, had some good choices like baked fish and brown rice and all sorts of veggies and fruit), and then went mini golfing with the family.  We lost terribly to my parents, which is not a-typical when competing against them at games. 🙂

The giant theater was gorgeous and we enjoyed a full production of Mama Mia before dinner.

I found some chairs to be really small in while we waited for dinner.

Hot. harissa. chicken.  With yogurt sauce.  Then bed.  Because more diving in the AM.

Wednesday, we docked in Cozumel and were excited for a second diving day, because #divingdaysarethebestdays

Our dive shop was right at the docks which was convenient, and our divemaster was AWESOME.  He saw I had a pretty sweet camera set up and pointed me in the direction of a lot of cool (small) stuff to photograph.

Seahorse!  Finally, Zliten doesn’t have to resent me for seeing them in Bonaire when he was sick and couldn’t dive.  I wish my lights wouldn’t have been acting up at that point, but this is an improvement over the last seahorse picture (actually not appearing in that post because it was so poor).

Red lipped blenny!  He kept poking his head out and taunting us with his adorably grumpy little face.

All the lobster.  With the new camera, it really picks up some great detail on subjects that are curious and friendly and pose for me.

This lionfish decided to pose with a gorgeous red coral background.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the bunch.

Clingy crab.

I’ve never seen such a big hermit crab in a his shell.  I love his little eye stalks.

And… a gorgeous eel.  This was with my macro.  Crazy.  For such crappy conditions, we actually had a pretty amazing diving day!

For the rest of my day in Cozumel, the ocean being unkind in Roatan, and a really rare find in Costa Maya in about a foot of water, check out Part 2.

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