Saturday, January 31, 2015

January

Since I now have a full year of blogging under my belt, I've decided to add something new to the blog.  I'm going to be doing a monthly update - of where I went, my favorite eats and what I read  In a perfect world, I would travel all the time. For now, I try to go somewhere new or see something new at least once a month. That's doesn't always happen, but that's the goal. And I tend to do all my reading on the internet - hello, travel blog junkie! - or short and sweet magazine articles. So I've made a goal to read at least one book per month. I know, I know. That's not alot. But hopefully I'll surpass that by bunches. So here's January's recap:

Travel

Carnival Glory cruise to the Western Caribbean - Mexico, Belize and Honduras



We took a 30th Anniversary cruise on Carnival to the Western Caribbean with 4 ports of call. (If you want to read about the cruise ship, click here) It was a glorious (ha ha see what I did there?) week of fun, relaxation and perfect weather. In the news recently there was an article about a lady who has retired to a cruise ship. I'm not sure, but I think I could maybe do that!

Eat

Guy Fieri burgers and a croque monsieur



The food on the ship, of course, was wonderful.( Pictured above is a salted caramel pudding with hot toffee popcorn on top. Very unique) And, of course, part of that wonderfulness is not cooking for a whole week!

My favorite eats this month are tied: I love a good burger and the Guy Fieri burger bar on the ship was definitely a good burger. He uses a special "secret" sauce called Donkey Sauce and that makes the whole burger. And my other favorite eat this month was at a place called Crepes and Croissants in Columbia, SC where I ate a delicious croque monsieur. Sort of a ham and cheese panini but topped with a cheese and sour cream sauce. Mmmmm.....

Read

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

I only managed one book this month and it was Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. Since it was a classic, I thought that I had probably read it in high school or college. But nope. So it was my first time reading a Verne book - and I really liked it. Took me a little longer than most chick lit or mysteries as I had to take my time with all the classic vocabulary that you don't really find in current books.  A fun read.

So that's January in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sailing on the Carnival Glory



Ten years ago, for our 20th wedding anniversary, Mr UR, his brother and wife, and I went on a cruise. We were going to the Western Caribbean, but then Hurricane Emily swooped in and changed our plans. We made it to one of our expected ports but there was no power, trees down over the road and mangled billboards. Carnival then re-routed us for other ports. We still had a wonderful time but this year for our 30th anniversary we decided to do a "do-over" and try to get to those ports we missed last time. And not in hurricane season!



Our cruise set sail out of Miami, Florida and was for 7 days. The Glory had 2 days at sea and visited the ports of Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize, Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico. We had perfect weather - in the 80's and sunny everyday.





The Glory holds about 3000 people. It has a main pool, an adults only pool, a smaller pool, 7 hot tubs and a waterslide. There is a kids club on board for supervised kid activities and a walking/jogging track and basketball court. There is also an adults only area called Serenity with cushioned chairs, and most importantly, quiet. It also has 2 main restaurants, a Guy Fieri burger bar (including burgers with his yummy donkey sauce ), the Blue Iguana mexican restaurant, a cafeteria and 24 hour pizza and ice cream.







There is a big screen theater  for dive-in movies, a casino, gift shops, bingo, 2 theaters, and too many bars and lounges to count. And there is always something going on if you want to join in - hairy chest contests, nightly movies with popcorn, ping-pong to play, and line dancing on the deck.





And I haven't even mentioned the George Lopez Comedy Club with nightly shows. Plus singing and dancing shows. Are you starting to get the idea that it is hard to be bored while cruising?

On the other hand, you can choose to just lay on a lounge chair and order room service all week, too.












 There are alot of people out there who know that cruising isn't for them - it's too crowded, they feel like part of a herd, and some just don't like water or boats.And there are those who won't cruise for environmental or exploitation reasons.(  That's a whole article in itself)  But whether you want a week of relaxation or non-stop things to do, consider a cruise. For the money, we paid about $80 per day per person for food, room and travel, it can be a great value( If I were to pay to fly to Honduras, it would be more than I paid to go on the cruise.)

Mr. UR travels for work, driving an average of 800 miles per week. So for us, a cruise is a way for him to relax while someone else is doing the driving and getting to see new places. Not to mention that we unplugged for the whole week also, which was awesome. We don't cruise often but for a fun and relaxing week away, this celebratory cruise worked out perfectly for us. In fact, I'm ready to go again! Anybody wanna come with?






How about you? What's your opinion of cruising? Have you ever cruised? Would you consider going on one? I'm interested in hearing people's ideas about cruising so let me know what you think. And stay tuned as I cover each port that we visited!

I am linking up with #fridaypostcards. Go check it out!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Apostle Islands



Last year, during the brutally cold winter, The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore  made the national news here in the US for a rare phenomenon. For the first time in 5 years, the islands' ice caves, 18 miles west of Bayfield, Wisconsin, were accessible in the winter. Record crowds came out to cross about a mile of Lake Superior to access the ice caves along the coast.

We didn't visit in the winter, but we were able to visit the Apostle's in the summer. We made a day trip from Duluth, Minnesota to Bayfield, Wisconsin to board the excursion boat on a beautiful summer morning. Judging from the long line to board, the Apostle's are a very popular summer destination in Wisconsin(.Oh, and arrive early. Parking is street parking only and by the time we made it on the boat, the top level was full and we were stuck underneath.) The cruise itself is a  3 1/2 tour around the islands (which seemed a bit too long to me - I think 2 hours would have been plenty to see all that there was to see) Lake Superior was calm that day and we were able to cruise past a replica of one of the original settlements, the recently restored lighthouse and of course, the piece de resistance, the sea caves. The captain saved the sea caves for last knowing they were the main draw of the cruise.






As much as I enjoyed cruising the islands, the high point of the cruise for me was our captain's storytelling. Regaling us with the history of the islands, he was definitely in the right career. His last story of the day was of the infamous Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There was so much about the shipwreck that I didn't know! And, of course, we had to sing the Gordon Lightfoot song for the rest of the day - once it's in your head it just won't seem to go back out! (By the way, the song, written and sung by Gordon Lightfoot, is incredibly accurate)



If you want to get out on the water to explore the islands, all 22 of them, you aren't limited to this particular boat. You can kayak - for a few hours, a day or a few days. Or you can hire a sailboat to take you for a coupla hours.


Only one of the Apostle's is inhabited year-round, Madeline Island. With a population of 246 people, Madeline is not included in the National Lakeshore. We didn't take the ferry to Madeline this time, but in talking with a few other tourists at lunch we found out about the infamous Tom's Burned Down Cafe. Apparently after the original cafe burned down, Tom kept running his bar in a tent - which it is to this day. After hearing rave reviews of this "dive" bar turned tourist spot, I think I'd like to try it out next time.


And as incredibly cold as visiting the sea caves in winter sounds, I think I would like to try that out someday too!



For more information on visiting The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, click www.apostleisland.com. Info on cruise service, boat tours, camping and recreational shuttles.


Linking up with #fridaypostcards  here !!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Isle of Palms



We interrupt this season of snow, ice and cold to bring you the warmth of Isle of Palms,(correctly said as "Olive of Palms" with a Southern accent.) Isle of Palms is a barrier island off the coast of Charleston, SC. It is separated from the pleasant suburb of Mt. Pleasant, SC by the Intracoastal Waterway. The closest beach to Charleston, it is filled with locals and tourist alike. Really only a one-street town, you can stay at a few hotels, or rent a condo. But alot of visitors like to rent massive beach houses which can hold your entire extended family for a family reunion week at the beach.(Most rentals require a week stay from Memorial Day to Labor Day) Close by, in Mt. Pleasant, you can try some delicious southern cuisine, visit Boone Hall Plantation or visit the usual shops of suburbia.



















We went there over Labor Day last year and had a gorgeously hot day at the beach. Ate lunch at Coconut Joe's right on the water and then headed over to Sullivan's Island, stopping to take in the beautiful sunset and views over the marsh of the Holy City  of Charleston. A perfect  day at the beach that couldn't be beat!






Linking up with #fridaypostcards at www.walkingontravels.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How The Unpaved Road got it's name - and a one year blogaversary!

 We head to Maine, one of my favorite places on the planet, with friends every few years. We have been to the coast,including Acadia National Park,Boothbay Harbor, Belfast, Camden and Rockland, stayed at a cabin in Windsor and  driven all the way to the Easternmost point in the US at Quoddyhead Light. The last time we were in Maine we decided to take a day trip from the cabin we were staying at and visit Moosehead Lake, which is located in the North central part of Maine.



First, we stopped at Kennebec River Brewery, which was very rustic. Not only is it a brewery/restaurant but it also has a hot tub outside for snowmobilers in winter and cabins to rent on the grounds.

Yep, that's blueberry beer!



Then we went for a picnic at the highest drop waterfall in Maine- Moxie Falls.And then we were off to Moosehead Lake. The GPS said that we could take a shortcut and save about 40ish miles. And that's  how this blog came about.....

The road started out paved. Then it was gravel. With very dense vegetation on either side. Becoming more narrow. And more narrow. We were having fun. Then the potholes started. Which became craters. Craters that could swallow the car.Which became impassable.So after about 12 miles it was time to turn around.. And the conversation turned to adventures on gravel roads. I decided I wanted to start a blog. And my friend Jo suggested The Unpaved Road as the name. Brilliant!









We continued on to Moosehead Lake, taking the long way. Turns out that the GPS had sent us on a snowmobile path instead of a road. But we made it. We had a fun dinner on the shores of Moosehead and walked around the town of Greenville a bit. 







I love seeing new places. Going on adventures. With Mr. UR and with my kids. And with friends. And I've enjoyed blogging about my trips and experiences this past year. Yes, I can't believe it was a year ago that I pushed publish on this blog - and  The Unpaved Road went from an adventure in Maine to a real, full-fledged blog. I so appreciate all of you taking the time out of your day to read this blog. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And I hope you continue to do so as I continue to blog about where I've been. I think I have a really fun year of travel ahead to blog about. And I hope you think so, too!


I'm linking up with www.walkingontravels.com for #fridaypostcards!!!!