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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 7/24/11 - 7/31/11

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Road Trip! Just Some Thoughts to Write About Later

First I'll greet you with this super cool picture:

This is why it's wonderful to own a Toyota Prius!
Yesterday and today I drove up to Long Island to pick up our boys from Dave's parents' house.  Since it was a quick trip and could pack lightly, I was able to take our Prius, and since the conditions worked out well enough, I was able to score over 50mpg today!  Yesterday, in the 100F+ heat coming up I-85 with full A/C and very little use of the brakes, the mileage was more like 46-48mpg.  Once I got on I-95 where you can't just set the cruise control and the temperatures today were mostly in the 80s (it was raining most of my time in New Jersey).

I'm pretty beat from the drive, but not at all in a bad way.  I enjoy driving, and it was downright peaceful getting to enjoy the scenery with hungry, bored, or fighting kids.  I was pretty worried about making the I-95 trek from Petersburg, VA all the way to New York the point I even asked some Facebook friends their opinions of using U.S. 13 up the Delmarva Peninsula instead!  According to Google Maps, taking US 13 would add about 60 miles and 70 minutes to my trip.  I left my stopover point (my sister's house in NC) at the right time to go ahead and stay on I-95...I made it through (not around, through) Washington, D.C. around 11am, through Baltimore around 12pm, and through Wilmington, DE around 2pm.  I crossed the Verrazano Narrows Bridge just before 4pm...which is about when the traffic started getting bad.

I also want to write about the airliners I kept encountering on their final approaches (ATL, CLT, DCA, BWI and JFK), as well as the beautiful town of Eufaula, Alabama.  That's for when I'm awake...

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Pay No Attention, Nothing to See Here....

This is just a filler post to run a fun little experiment.  I am going to compare RSS Graffiti with Networked Blogs and see which syndication posts to my Facebook page faster.

I'm leaning towards keeping RSS Graffiti because it didn't require the widget on my site, nor did it require me to pick 5 blogs to follow like Networked Blogs does (note -- I proceeded with the registration after only selecting two blogs to follow: Fotomom and Sergeant Major Mom).  If I keep Networked Blogs I will add more to follow.

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Date Night in Destin!

Who here is a fan of Groupon!  Go ahead, raise your hand!  Don't be shy....

I started using Groupon in the Omaha area ($5 Omaha Lancer's tickets!), but quickly transferred my settings to Pensacola when we got here.  I'll admit that I don't care about most of the deals that come our way (half price facials, $20 for $50 worth of pizza at a restaurant in Pensacola, etc.) but I've taken advantage of a couple deals that seem relevant.

Some Groupon tips:

  • Read the fine print CAREFULLY!  I saw a great golf deal that was only good on weekdays.  This golf deal only cost $2-6 less than if you played the course at regular price after 3pm.  I have two movie tickets in my account right now that are only good after 6pm.  Know and understand the limitations.
  • Note the expiration dates on the deals.  Sometimes you have quite a bit of time, sometimes you only have till the end of the month.  Remember that you're pre-paying for the coupon, so if you miss out on the deal before it's expired, it's your loss, not the business's.

The first one we got actually cash in on was a parasailing trip last weekend.  At Destin Parasailing, they offered $37 for one ticket on the parasailing trip, which is the 60-75 minute boat ride (time for 4 groups to go out) and 15 minutes up on the parasail itself.  These trips are typically $60-75 per person.

It was incredible!  Parasailing is VERY gentle, and Dave and I will both attest that riding in the speedboat while keeping the chute aloft is far more adrenaline-packed than riding in the chute itself.

Our boat (the red one).

Dave's rigged up and ready to go!

This family is coming back in -- Dad (an Army Soldier vacationing here from TX) is holding a camera in his right hand and I'll bet he got some great pictures.  The girl in the middle is 11 years old and wasn't much bigger than Jacob.  The first mate on the far right took the next couple pictures with my iPhone while we were up.

Seconds before we launched!

The launch isn't what you expect: the boat pulls away from you and you're essentially suspended, almost still.  All the motions are very slow, and the whole experience is VERY quiet.  So peaceful...

You start out not-that-high, it takes about 5 minutes for the chute to gain altitude as the boat pulls it, like running with a kite.

Our view of the Crab Island Bridge as the boat brought us back in at about 7:10pm.  
We got back just in time to enjoy a lovely sunset dinner at Poppy's Crazy Lobster restaurant for steamed seafood.  I saw the Great Blue Huron eating fish while walking on the dock on the way to dinner.

Choose your poison...we ordered a "Category Three" to share.  

I'm very glad we shared it!

Dave got steamed shrimp, which he has proclaimed was the best restaurant shrimp he'd ever had!

Meanwhile, I enjoyed some snow crab legs!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Florida Discoveries 15: Great Blue Heron in Action!

First of all, I learned that it's "heron" and not "huron".  Oops.  I was wondering why my Google searches kept directing me to Michigan-related websites...

Last night Dave and I went on a good old fashioned DATE!  The kids are visiting grandparents in the northeast through next weekend, and even though Dave's hard at work these two weeks, we had a fantastic weekend!  Yesterday we went tubing on a creek in the northern part of the Florida Panhandle, then we went parasailing and wrapped up the evening with a delightful steamed seafood dinner.  I'll be blogging about our parasailing next, but for now I wanted to share this cool series of iPhone pictures I took of this Great Blue Heron* enjoying some fish.  I didn't have my good camera with me, since I didn't want to lose it on the parasailing boat.

I thanked the family who bought the fish feed that lured the fish for the bird to eat...

*Yes, I'm capitalizing the full name of this species of bird, per this journal article.

He started out on the dock, staring intently at a patch of water near the public fish food machine.

Staring hard...

Now he's on a floating platform just below the fish feed machine...he moved to this spot after a kid put 50 cents in the  machine and got a handful of fish food.

Splash!  He quickly darts his beak into the water as the fish come up to get the feed.

He got one!

After swallowing the first fish, he's immediately on the lookout again...


Another one!

You can see how the fish has enlarged his neck.

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