April 28 – “We’re out to Discover!!” -Scuttle, The Little Mermaid

Our rafting adventure

This morning we woke up and got on a bus to a harbor a little south of the resort for an excursion. LivingSocial lined up a bunch – hiking, zip lining, and snorkeling.  We chose snorkeling, and getting to the cove was an adventure in itself. There were 18 people on our raft (military style – we felt like we were storming the beaches of Normandy) with twin 150 horsepower engines. We went fast. And it was AWESOME. Talk about wind in your face! It took me 10 minutes to brush through my hair after…

The cove we were headed to was about a 45 minute ride away, and along the way we stopped to see dolphins (!) and different parts of the Hawaiian Northwest coast, which is just beautiful.  The dark lava rocks drop off into the water and with water erosion, coves and caves are formed. In the picture above, we were headed straight for the rocks, at very high speeds until we were close enough to see the water receding, then again moving in, and when a large enough swell hits the rocks, it shoots out of the rock about 40 feet high. A blow hole just like in Fools Gold! So cool!

Snorkeling was such a unique experience.  I didn’t think I would like it because you have to focus on breathing out of your mouth, but after 10 minutes, your body adjusts and it feels natural. I kicked my flippers over the side of the raft, pressed my mask to my face, held my breath and jumped into the clear blue water. Once I got my snorkel all set up I saw tons of fish and coral just feet beneath me.  Really, an extraordinary sight. The cove we were snorkeling in was stunning  – we were surrounded by a lush and green peninsula and then huge vertical cliffs.

I would like to be able to say nothing negative about the trip, but unfortunately I almost fed the fish several times. The ocean was very active and the swells were really getting to me on our trip home.  Luckily, I held it back but with my sunburn and green queasy face, you might have mistaken me for a Hawaiian take on Christmas. I recovered the second I stepped up onto the dock and spent the rest of the day finishing Hunger Games book 2.

-V on vacation

March 5 – Nashville

Jack's BBQ

When Madison and I first arrived in Nashville on Sunday night, we decided to check out the Grand Ole Opry first, which is a little ways away from downtown.  Unfortunately, there were no concerts that night, but we were happy just to see where all the Country singers perform.  Right next door is Opry Mills, a mall that was flooded last year.  We are re-opening a Johnny Rockets there at the end of the month, so I wanted to take some pictures of the construction for our blog. After, we drove into the city to check into the Renaissance Marriot where all the LivingSocial people were staying for their sales conference.  [By the way, Madison never told me that he was PRESENTING at the conference until today.  So proud!]

We tried to go to Jack’s BBQ Sunday night (I decided it was the place to try after some serious Googling) but were sad to see it was closed. We ended up walking around town for a bit, trying to decide on a place to eat.  We settled on Broadway Brewhouse, a bar with some great beer specials that wasn’t too crowded. Madison ordered a pulled pork sandwich and I, a brisket and cheese sandwich with jalapeño mayonnaise.  It was good, but NOWHERE as good as Joe and Steve Devine’s brisket. Nope!

We were walking around looking for a place to catch some live music when we ran into 109,887,999,877 LivingSocial people at Honkey Tonk Central and decided to stay there.  There was a live band playing all the pop country music songs (my type of country!) so we got to tap our feet for a bit. We had a Flat Tire (not my favorite) and talked to all the DC LivingSocial people we know for a couple hours before returning to the Marriott for some slumber. LivingSocial literally took over Nashville this week – everywhere we went Madison knew at least 3 people.

Today, while Madison was at his conference, I worked from the hotel room and then met him for lunch at…. Jack’s BBQ! Yay! It was SO GOOD.  Literally, it hit the spot.  I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, baked beans, and mac n cheese – so Tennessee and so perfect.  Mmmm! Sorry – as I’m writing this, I am wishing I had some leftovers. I couldn’t decide which of their barbeque sauces to put on my sandwich and ended up doing a mix of all of them.  Gross? Nope. Delicious? Yes.

I walked around downtown for a couple hours before driving the rental car to the airport in time for my flight back to DC.  There wasn’t that much else to see downtown, but I think we needed more time in both Memphis and Nashville.  I still need to do Graceland, a concert at Grand Ole Opry, and see the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson’s old residence).

I had such a great trip, and we are so lucky we had this opportunity to visit two more cities this year!  We always try to take advantage of work trips, especially for new places. I loved meeting more of Madison’s family, and I hope we get to see them all again soon!

-V

February 10 – Paris, aux États- Unis

Sacre Bleu! IS that the Arc de Triomphe?

This morning, we woke up and decided to head over to Paris – you know- the fake one in Nevada.  There is a buffet breakfast called Le Village, and wanted to take it easy so we settled in and ate.  Honestly, the food was pretty mediocre, but I still loved thinking of Paris. =) We ate crepes and croissants and oatmeal and had to rest before attempting to stand up.  The weather here is absolutely perfect, sunny and in the 70s.  We walked the whole strip after breakfast to see the various theme hotels.  If I ever come back (which I’m hoping I don’t have to often) I think I’d like to stay in the Paris.  Are you surprised?  Although I would MUCH rather be in the REAL Paris, there was great french food in the hotel, which is right up my alley.

We switched hotels today.  Madison’s coworker bought a LivingSocial Escapes deal and wasn’t able to use it so he gave it to us! So nice! We are at the Palm now, and I’m excited to try out another hotel. I took a nap this afternoon and woke up feeling a little under the weather and they brought me a pitcher of OJ on the house! Such great customer service!

Tonight, we are going out to eat with Rachel’s roommate, Katie, and her boyfriend.  So random that we are here the same weekend! We haven’t decided where to eat but I think it’s narrowed down to someplace in the Cosmopolitan – I need to see those elevators Auntie Kelly talked about!

-V