October 9, 2013

It's Gator Time!!

We’d been living in Florida for long enough that not having seen an alligator was beginning to be a badge of shame. We live right next to the Everglades, and apparently they fish these bad boys out of people's pools all the time... So it was Gator Boat Tour time!

Juliano, our friend Dani and I headed out to the Everglades to see what the swamp was all about. I was expecting some hillbilly excitement, and friends - I was not disappointed.

Please excuse the random girl doing a 'sexy pose' next to that truck. I'm just jealous because I can't sexy pose very well.

We went with Everglades Safari Park because they were on the main road, had a decent website and seemed fun. 

You get to ride an airboat (so fun!) around the glades and spot lots of great wildlife including turtles, alligators and all sorts of birds.

Best part of it all?? You get to HOLD A BABY GATOR at the end. I don’t know if my crazy face adequately describes the amazingness of that. I kept trying to cuddle him like a puppy - and the guy was all... “don’t put him so close to your face - he’ll bite you” and “stop trying to kiss him, he’s a wild animal”. What a buzzkill.

The tour is a little over an hour and costs US$23.00, but if you buy your ticket online - you cans save $3.00. Back at the lodge you can walk a path around the property and see lots more older, larger alligators and crocodiles. Did you know the Florida Everglades are the only place that the two exist in the same place? It’s because of the mix of salt and fresh water.

On the way back home, we stopped off at Calle Ocho in the Cuban section of Miami (yeah, it’s a real place - Pitbull didn’t invent it...) in Miami for some authentic Cuban sandwiches... YUM.

What’s the craziest animal you’ve ever tried to kiss??

Also - the quality of the photos here didn't just magically increase overnight. Dani took these with her awesome camera and mad photography skills. Thanks Dani!

(Side note: This isn’t a sponsored post or anything - I just went because it seemed awesome, and it was) 

October 7, 2013

I'm not retired, but I live in West Palm Beach

I thought West Palm Beach was just where rich, retired people go to play golf. I was wrong - that’s Boca Raton. Ha ha ahh... that’s a Florida joke.

WPB is a pretty nice place to live actually. I see why people pack up their pleated chinos , throw their golf clubs in the porsche and migrate here for the chilly months of winter. 

Clematis Street is sort of the ‘main drag’ (to steal an expression from my dad) and ends up at City Place. Both are full of fun pubs/bars/restaurants/theaters, etc. Sometimes there are parades there. I like parades - everything is so EXTRA.

If your crew is into diving as well - the diving around West Palm is surprisingly awesome! The water is warm, the vis is good and there are lots of operators that will take you out for a reasonable price. My first mate Matt, his brother and I showed up to one of these on an improptu day off.

Best surprise of all - we got to see a baby and mama manatee! Manatees live in the intercoastal waters and are a protected species. They’re slow and hard to spot - so they get hit by boats often. ** Note, running fresh water near them isn’t really allowed... sorry to be such a rule breaker**

If you’re willing to drive inland a bit - equestrian sports are big around here. Dressage, Jumping, Polo - the whole bit. Get out your bow ties, people! Just kidding. But because of this there are lots of stables that will let you come and ride for a few hours if you want.

Sorry I don’t have much for specifics here! To find fun stuff in a new place I usually just sign up for Groupon or LivingSocial to see what kind of deals I come across. It also helps expose me to small business and local things to do :) 

Have you ever been to West Palm Beach? What was your favourite thing?

October 4, 2013

The One Where I Get a Job

I just noticed that this is my 100th post!! Crazy. Thanks for following along for 100 little stories of how I got from where I started - to fittingly, my first yachting job. Cheers to all of us!

I came into this adventure knowing that we may have to work separately. Living apart was the downside we were expecting on our way to our goals. That time finally came. 

It happened quickly. I got a call, an interview, another call and then started packing my tiny bag all over again. Juliano drove me to a train stop. I was nervous about working on my first boat, anxious about leaving Juliano and excited to see what it was all about. 

This is what I had been working for wasn’t it?

I sold my house so I could live here.
I quit my job so I could work here. 
I moved to Florida so I could get onboard here. 
I bought two computers so we could live apart. 
I took courses so I could know what to do here. 

The pressure to be happy with the dreams I had achieved was immense.

I stepped onboard and met the rest of the crew. Six crew keep this 130’ boat floating, moving and clean. It was based in West Palm Beach, a 1 hour train ride north of Fort Lauderdale where Juliano was staying. I liked it here. I work hard right away.

I got hired as Stew/Deck which essentially puts me at the whims of both my chief stew and our first mate. I clean the rooms, I clean the bilges. The pay seems low at first, compared to what I was making at my Official Office Job - but then I realize slowly that I don’t pay mortgage. Or utilities. Or food. Suddenly the amount I’m making stretches much further. Also, I don’t have space to put anything I would buy.

I live on boat now.

October 2, 2013

Pilgrimage to Ironman Florida

Okay - this adventure is not ALL about how to become a yachtie. That part just took over the beginning of Florida for us. But luckily, we had family force us into an impromptu road trip because....

My brother-in-law Ryan is a pro Ironman triathlete. 

What?! Yeah, I know. He’s crazy. And until now, we’ve never had the opportunity to see him race in person. So when we found out that he was competing in Ironman Florida - a mere 12 hour drive around the gulf.... what were we to do?

We haven’t been on a road trip since our little jaunt around the Pacific North West when we sold our house. We were due for another.

And - in a scene straight out of Friday Night Lights (Clear Eyes, Full Hearts!) we came across a High School Football game. Guys, there were lights. There were cheerleaders. There was a f*cking MARCHING BAND!!! I was clearly overexcited about the prospect of sitting down for the remainder of the game and soaking in the Cross City Super Bowl.

But with an early race start looming and many hours left to drive, Juliano’s logic won out over my pee-my-pants-intense excitement. Damn him.

Ironman spectating should be a sport in itself. Seriously, it’s hectic. My sister-in-law Lauren is the race-watching guru. Ryan raced for 8hrs 45mins, and we saw him 6 times. Running into the water, out of the water, transitioning, running past, transitioning, biking past, finishing. 

You can read Ryan’s account of the race here; he talks jibberish about electrolytes and bike wattage. He came in 15th overall which is pretty badass of him.

As a person who’s neither athletic, nor competitive - I find competition at this level hard to relate to. This dedication to pushing and training to shave minutes off your time and beat just one more person through the gates is admirable. But for those of us that think walking across a parking lot is a hardship - doing anything for nine hours is insanity. 

Ironman has a cutoff time of 17hours. SEVENTEEN HOURS! You can deliver a baby in less time than that. It’s probably more pleasant. Knowing it was our first Ironman experience, Ryan and Lauren brought us back to the race for the end of the line finishers. The people who complete the race in the last hour have no business running an Ironman. They are not elite athletes, they don’t have top of the line gear or sponsors. But holy shit do they have some spirit. 

If you pass the finish line the announcers shout out ‘YourName, you are an Ironman!’. It’s a cool moment and a very clear goal for many of these end finishers. It was heart warming to watch people brutalize their bodies and overcome their physical boundaries to achieve these immense goals. I’m in awe of what people can do when they put their minds to it. 

Congrats Ryan on a great race - and thank you for letting us into your world!

Side note: Ryan is cooler than I give him credit for. If you want to check him out here’s his Blog, Facebook and Twitter. 

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