The Best Vacation Ever {Part 2}

Click here for part 1!

Wednesday, July 6th

Next port of call— St. Thomas!

Breakfast at Windjammer first, though.

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On land, we took a van tour around the island, checking out a view of Magen’s Bay, as well as the biggest gift shop on St. Thomas (which is not saying a whole lot, but it is big!). The driving on the island is…uh…thrilling.

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Some fresh coconut water/meat at the vantage point. It’s actually not as amazing as I thought it would be, but it was still as fresh as you can get. The guy who sold it to us climbs the coconut trees every morning himself!

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The gift shop has these “world famous” banana daiquiris (I got a virgin one, which was tastier than the rum one IMO).

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I actually tried this same banana daiquiri five years ago when my family went on a cruise after my brother’s high school graduation. #TBT, shall we?

banana daiquiri

2011

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2016

Oh look, they changed the sign to make “world famous” bigger. And Ben feat. the sweaty sling showed up this time!

Iguanas roamed the island. Think they’re the same ones we saw five years ago? This one looks kinda like old.

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Our driver took us downtown, where we ate some Caribbean food for lunch. Ben and I shared this fantastic curry chicken with plantains and steamed veggies on the side. The chicken was so tender!

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Also, on land, we always found a place with wifi. You should have seen us— at the table, all looking down at our phones. It was pretty sad and embarrassing in retrospect, but we had the whole rest of the week to talk with one another, phone-free (excuses, excuses, I know).

Then we walked over two hot and sweaty miles back to the cruise ship.

We did some more activities and relaxing before another three five-course meal. But salad and surprise celebratory cake don’t really count as courses, right? I kid; it was immense.

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The “kids”‘ favorite appetizer of the cruise: crab cakes! Christie: “I could just have ten of these for my meal.”

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salad with pears, walnuts, and blue cheese

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parsley-crusted cod with lobster sauce, veggie jasmine rice, and more veggies

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My uncle and aunt surprised my parents with an anniversary cake, so we all had a slice (it was such good cake!!)

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…and some of us had second dessert. This was a strawberry shortcake parfait of sorts.

No regrets, honestly.

If I’m not mistaken, we watched a sensational water acrobatics show called “OceanAria” that night. Crazy amazing diving, stunts, choreography, and concept.

(p.s. we also watched a marvelous ice skating show the previous night, but I forgot to include it in yesterday’s post!)

Afterwards, there was a big ol’ 70s party around the ship! Lots of hip thrusting by men dressed up as the Village People, singing, and of course, grooving 🙂 I had no 70s attire, but this denim jumpsuit was close enough.

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You guys should have seen Pop dancing to those 70s tunes. #PopMovesAndGrooves ← this will become a thing.

Our wonderful stateroom attendant folded some towel animals that made my heart happy. This anteater-crane-fish was my favorite.

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This is what I look like when I’m in my room by myself

Thursday, July 7th

St. Kitts! This was our favorite port of the three!

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had to do crow somewhere

We took another scenic taxi tour across the island. At one stop, we got to hold a monkey in a freaking diaper next to a donkey dressed in dreads and sunglasses. Everyday things by everyday people.

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Perhaps he was pooping at this instant, but I’ll never know

It was $2 for each person to take a picture with the monkey, but I think it was 100% worth it. He (she?) had really soft paws.

Next stop was Cockleshell Beach! Ugh, what a gorgeous place. Beach surrounded by mountains = the dream.

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God’s glory everywhere

If you check Instagram later, you can find some moves and grooves that Madre helped me film on the beach! (I didn’t actually do a full workout because people were staring AND I wanted to just chill.)

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Lunch at Windjammer back on the boat.

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I think a nap, rock climbing, and 16 minute workout eventually happened at the fitness center.

Dinner that night was excellent!

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seafood ceviche

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shared some of Ben’s spinach dip with chips and bread

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ricotta and spinach shell pasta (I almost never order straight up pasta dishes, but I’m so glad I did this night!)

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warm chocolate cake a la mode

GUYS. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but this warm chocolate cake was the most moist and heavenly chocolate cake of my life.

We watched the headliner show of the week, which was an incredibly talented a cappella group called VoicePlay (← check out their Youtube channel!). I loved them! I wanted to take a photo with them, because they’re superstars in their own right, AND they might be mega famous one of these days 😉

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Dancing, game shows, walking around and/or karaoke spectating probably happened later on.


Last part coming tomorrow!

So tell me:

Have you ever held a monkey or other exotic animal before?

What is the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten? What is the best show you’ve seen in the past year?

What did you eat for lunch yesterday?

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Beautiful Weekend in Stowe, Vermont

I feel like I went to Narnia this weekend.

I was only gone with my family for 36 hours, but I feel like I was away for a week! After finals ended on Thursday night, I stayed with my parents at their hotel, since Friday required an early morning wake-up call for my brother’s graduation.

I went to bed past midnight and somehow got myself to roll out of bed at 5:35 AM (mostly because I needed to pee), so I hit up the hotel gym for a super quick workout. My hair was still in nightmare world and my eye bags were fluffier than my pillow.

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2 minute warmup + 16 minute HIIT (24 rounds of 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest) + stretching:

  • burpees
  • side jump lunges
  • DB clean and jerks (20# DBs)
  • tricep dips/spiderman planks
  • tuck jumps
  • split jack lunges/alternating reverse lunges (20#)

The ‘rents and I got dressed up and headed to TD Garden (home of the Boston Bruins and Celtics!) for the graduation. The arena doesn’t allow outside food or drink, so we made sure to eat a good meal before being in there for 6+ hours. Subway looked like the best option at 7 AM.

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egg white, cheese, veggie on honey oat

But since we got to the arena two hours early to get good seats, I was hungry by the time commencement started, so I bit the bullet and bought FIVE DOLLAR in-shell peanuts to tide me over. It was either those or hot dogs for $4. Hot dogs in the morning. Need I explain my decision?

Anyway, the commencement was just peachy. Their speaker was US Secretary of State, John Kerry! His best line that made the crowd go wild was: “You are Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.”

Congratulations, Ben + Northeastern Class of 2016!

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Afterwards, we were so ready for lunch. I got a Thai chicken salad with some sort of sweet dressing that was delicious.

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We filled our bellies and then promptly hit the road for Stowe, VT for a little family weekend getaway.

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We stayed at the Stowe Mountain Lodge, which was just gorgeous. The skies were a bit gloomy, but there are some awesome mountains behind those clouds.

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The resort itself was huge and beautiful as well. It was such a labyrinth to walk through. We felt like we we walked at least a quarter of a mile just to get to our room!

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Since we arrived pretty late, we bolted for the hotel restaurant for dinner before it closed. ‘Twas a convenient but pricey decision.

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mason jars ♥︎ 

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salad with pistachios, cranberries, and grilled chicken

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apple crisp a la mode

The room had a kitchen and some artsy, rustic cutlery. A blogger’s dream.

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Ben: “Should I model it?”

Saturday was a near perfect day in my book. I slept in and then started the day with a banana and some nuts and a workout at the {amazing} hotel gym.

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dynamic warmup + 3 rounds of:

  • 15 close-grip DB chest press
  • 30 double unders
  • 10 clean and jerks

+ playing around on the Pilates ladder barrel

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Then we brunched at a local place called McCarthy’s. Super Irish, which is perfect as I prepare to study abroad in Dublin this fall 🙂

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I ordered the French toast special with two sunny eggs + bacon. Everything breakfast should be. {Side note: I decided not to bring my peanut butter on this vacation because I thought I should try to detach myself, haha.}

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I also shared a very decent portion of my mom’s Irish home fries and corned beef. KILLER.

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Ben and I dropped off our parents back at the resort and then headed out on an expedition to Stowe Pinnacle!

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I would say I built this, but that would be a lie

It was about 1.65 miles going up, and the incline wasn’t crazy steep, but it was, as Ben put it, persistent. ‘Twas a fab idea to have such a hearty, fatty meal an hour before this. We made it to the summit in pretty good time though— approximately 50 minutes.

Boy, was this view worth it.

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It was pretty comparable to the glorious view from Bear Peak in Colorado a year ago, except this time I could breathe because we weren’t at high altitude.

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There were these two golden retrievers up at the summit that were old, fat, and adorable. We couldn’t tell if they belonged to anyone in particular, but all they wanted was to be loved by all the people who made it to the summit.

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freakin’ regal

We trekked back down the mountain, which is less physically challenging but definitely more technically challenging in terms of not falling off the face of the mountain. I only slipped and fell on my butt once going downhill, which is on par for me. I really need to wear the hiking shoes I have.

When we got back to the road, Ben and I went on a quest for a maple “creemee” per my friend Courtney’s suggestion. A creemee is special Vermont soft serve ice cream. Unfortunately, we could not find a place that was open and selling maple creemees. Unlike other cities we’re used to, Stowe actually closes shops seasonally *gasp*.

Instead, Ben stopped for a craft beer and we took a Ben & Jerry’s factory tour. Not a bad detour!

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I got their banana peanut butter frozen Greek yogurt because that epitomizes my food choices // Ben got strawberry cheesecake and Spectacular Speculoos (so good!)

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Ben and… Allie’s?

What a great post-hike snack 🙂

We went back to the hotel, showered, and then headed to dinner with our parents at the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, the von Trapps from Sound of Music!).

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spring vegetable salad with an amazing yogurt sauce + some of my mom’s pancetta-wrapped chicken thigh and quinoa + a bite of Ben’s wiener schnitzel

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roasted carrots for the table to share

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cheese plate

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the BEST apple strudel a la mode! 

Full and oh so content.

Sunday (Mother’s Day!) started with Mass and breakfast at Cafe on Main. I was in the mood for a good sandwich instead of breakfast food, so I went for the turkey club. Tasty!

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Then we walked downstairs to the quaint Stowe Mercantile store, where I freaked out over their local peanut/almond butters.

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May or may not have bought three jars.

Four hours later, we were back in Boston, where Ben and I unloaded/loaded some things from our places. We ended our family time with a late lunch at Super 88! All I wanted was crunchy, fresh vegetables, so I ordered the tofu and vegetable rice noodle soup. Hit the spot so good!

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And then the fam parted ways. I’m back in Boston for one more week, which means lots of oatmeal for meals, which is perfectly fine with me!

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THIS WAS SO LONG. But hey, thanks for reading! If you’ve made it this far, consider yourself bear-hugged.

Hope you all have a magnificent Monday! I am grateful for YOU.

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Vermont?

What was the best thing you did this weekend?

What was the best thing you ate this weekend?

Favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor!

Have you ever fallen on a hike?

That Time I Fell Into a Canyon

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with Amanda today!

1) Guess what! I wasn’t sore yesterday! After the hardest hike of my life, I was fully expecting to wake up not being able to move my body, but I felt fresh and fine. I was confused. The hike felt so hard and painful, but I guess it was mostly the altitude? Or maybe I recovered so quickly because I ate very well after the hike? Whatever it was, I’m just happy I was not completely debilitated.

2) We saw more beautiful rocks yesterday! Our family friends drove us to Colorado Springs, where we first visited the “Garden of the Gods”.

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please smile, dude

3) After walking around the pedestrian-friendly path for a while, we ate an incredible lunch at The Sahara Cafe— a Middle Eastern restaurant with the most amazing falafel ever.

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owned this chicken gyro

4) I was stuffed for the next 6 hours after that meal, because what you don’t see are the sweet potato fries, babaganoush, and baklava that I also ate with the falafel and gyro.

5) All that pita bread must have energized some of us, because our next stop was Cave of the Winds, where four of us decided to do the “Terror-Dactyl” ride. Basically, you fall into a canyon, just strapped in by a few seatbelts and hung by a cord. Juuuuust rocks under us.

Supervisor: The ground comes at ya pretty fast, so it’s over quickly whatever happens!

Oh….

I apologize for my blood-curdling scream

I prayed beforehand. The worst part was actually the beginning when they tilted us forward so that we were parallel with the ground and all our weight was resting on their somewhat questionable seatbelts. There’s a GoPro video of Ben’s and my face during the whole thing, which I’ll be sure to share when I get it!

6) It was totally amazing and worth it (the fear and the $50…).

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the daredevils’ “before” shot

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head first into this beauty

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walking the plank

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after the drop, taking in the scenery and thanking God we’re alive

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Even my mom and aunt did a ride! They took the less extreme, but still thrilling zipline.

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my mom and aunt on the zipline!

7) After that excitement, we slowed it down with a fun cave tour! All those stalactites, stalagmites, and slightly claustrophobia-inducing rock tunnels.

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It was so neat! Our tour guide was awesome, and the history was fascinating. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, I 100% recommend Cave of the Winds. Let me know if you try the Terror-Dactyl 😉

8) “Eat, hike, repeat” is our theme of the week, so after our afternoon activities, we ate a late dinner at Thai Diamond Cafe. I was still kinda full from lunch, so I shared bites of everyone’s food and ate a salad that I had originally packed for lunch. I left the restaurant very full again 🙂

9) I’m going to meet Emily from Beauty in Christ today!!! I am so super excited. I can relate to every single one of her blog posts. It’s so wonderful to have a blogger friend who is about my age, who has gone through similar experiences with an eating disorder, and who loves Christ with a passion.

10) Speaking of blogger friends, Blend is tomorrow!!! So many exclamation points and so many things to be grateful for. I am blessed to just be alive, but God’s generosity is overflowing every darn day.

So tell me:

Would you do Terror-Dactyl? Have you done anything like it?

Have you ever gone on a cave tour?

What did you eat yesterday?

My Questions For the World

Well, we’re done with high school.

Should I be crying? Because I’m actually so ecstatic that it’s over! I’m gonna miss my friends and teachers of course, but let’s be real…we’re DONE!

I guess you could say we ended our year with a bang, but our dysfunctional grade also almost messed things up again. Some people tried to have a balloon fight in school in an effort to squeeze in a senior prank, but that fell through when the principal found out first thing in the morning. Bravo, children.

We did have the water balloon  fight after school in the lot, which was {legal} and kinda fun. More fun was this big ice cream mess in business calculus! I’ve told you time and again— that class is about food more than anything.

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I had this ice cream at 10:30 AM, and I was off the walls. Insanely hyper.

Anyway, I got to sleep in today, which was wonderful in every way. So now I’m gonna answer some wild and crazy survey questions created by yours truly! Arman kindly asked me (yes, kindly can you believe it?) to come up with this week’s Spill It Sunday questions, so of course I said yes. I love me some survey questions! I also like Arman when he isn’t threatening to chuck things at me.

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I’m answering these on Tuesday, but the link up will be Sunday! Obvi.

1) What is your happy place?

The summit of a hike. I haven’t even gone anywhere that amazing, but nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment and peace.

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2) What are you wearing right now?

A t-shirt and shorts (aka my pajamas).
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What a color combo, eh?

3) Cookies or cake?

Why did I ask this question?! This is a toughie. I feel like I eat cake more often, but I prefer cookies. Favorites include oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodles, and peanut butter (betcha didn’t guess that last one).
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Like Kylie’s Almond Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookies…I could go for some right now.

4) Which chore/errand do you despise the most?

Vacuuming. Even though dad does it most of the time, I’m not a fan of it when I do vacuum. Moving all the furniture, the loud noise, lugging the thing up and down the stairs, maneuvering around the wire… On the bright side, it definitely counts as some daily moves!

5) What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

I haven’t done anything super crazy, but the one thing that comes to mind is when I went Peppercorn helmet diving in Bermuda.
Bermuda Helmet Diving
The helmet dive was different from scuba diving in that you didn’t wear a suit and you basically just walked on the ocean floor (we were in a fairly shallow part of the ocean). Air was pushed into the helmet at however many miles per hour to keep the water out, and the heavy helmet just sat on your shoulders. I, being maybe 10 years old at the time, was FREAKED OUT when the guide first took me down. I started screaming in my helmet so he took me back up to the boat until I was ready to not be a chicken anymore. I wish I could find the pictures because my face is the picture of terror.

6) Brag and tell us one thing you love about yourself!

I love my public speaking ability. I definitely give credit to my dad for teaching me the tricks of the trade.

7) Now tell us one embarrassing fact about yourself.

I used to pretend to be Hannah Montana all the time. I would film myself singing her songs, pretend to be giving out autographs, try to write original songs, and make my brother take pictures of me dressed like Miley Cyrus (of the past). I don’t know why, I really don’t.

8) Name three things on your nightstand.

My prayer book, a squishy stress ball brain, and a container of cocoa butter (body butter).
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9) You can ask a famous person one (and only one) question. Who is it and what is your question?

 Mother Teresa: Who was the most influential person in your life?

10) Would you rather live in the breathtaking mountains or on a gorgeous tropical beach?

As much as I love a tropical beach, I would have to say I’d rather live in the mountains (hello, happy place!). To be honest, I’m thinking of Jo right now. I wanna live where she lives, because it looks like this:

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[source]

Yes, please.

Have a great day, friends! If you have a blog, try out these questions and link up with Arman on Sunday! If you do not have a blog, answer some of the questions in the comments below!

So tell me:

Cookies or cake?

Beach or mountains?

Your answer to any of the other questions!