Short Weekend in Key West

Before Taylor and I moved to Northern Florida over a year ago, we dreamed of visiting the Florida Keys. On a good day, it’s at least an 8 hour drive from Gainesville. We aren’t moving any closer to the Keys, so now was the perfect time for us to go! Since we had a free weekend, we left early Friday morning and stopped at a rest station for a quick breakfast from Dunkin’.

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As soon as we crossed over the water and into Key Largo, we were starving! With Hurricane Irma happening not too long ago, we weren’t sure how bad the destruction would be. As we were driving around looking for a place to stop and eat, everything was closed due to destruction. There were piles and piles of debri along the side of the road and it was heartbreaking.

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The damage was worse in some areas than others, and our hearts went out to the people of the Keys. After driving around and trying to find a place to eat that was open, we finally stumbled upon a small place called Boondocks. It wasn’t anything local or fancy, and the food was alright, but it was a nice break from the road.

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As soon as we stepped out of the restaurant, we noticed a line of traffic. What we didn’t know, was that there was a truck overturned 20 miles ahead, which dumped hundreds of gallons of oil all over the road and it was blocking both lanes. We barely crawled through traffic for FIVE HOURS. What was supposed to be an 8 hour drive to Key West, turned into a miserable THIRTEEN HOUR drive.

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The two of us were super bummed, because we were really counting on that night to explore the city. At one point when we were crawling through traffic, we were stopped next to an ice cream shop. Making the most of the situation, I ran inside and got us some yummy ice cream cones. I had enough time to go inside, purchase two ice cream cones, and make it back to the car before it moved again…

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We didn’t end up making it to our hotel until 10:30 that night. The receptionist at the desk was incredible and offered us free drinks upon arrival. He understood the traffic we’d just went through, and was more than sympathetic for us. Apparently, nobody had checked in that night because they were all stuck in that horrific traffic. After squaring things away at the desk, he personally showed us to our room and made sure we were comfortable.

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Our room was small, but very clean and comfortable. It was perfect for our short stay!

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Although we were tired from the drive, we were eager to get out on our feet and find something to munch on. We decided to get a few drinks and some appetizers at the Waterfront Brewery, which was right on the harbor! Thankfully, it was only a few minutes away.

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This place was fantastic!! Our server was amazing and the food and drinks were exactly what we needed. Taylor ordered the pretzels and I had the calamari! If we would’ve been in Key West longer, the two of us would’ve definitely returned.

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The next morning, we woke up early and hit the ground exploring! The great thing about our hotel was that it was within walking distance of everything. Our hotel also offered complimentary tea and coffee all day long, so that was an added bonus in my book! 🙂 The first thing we did, was walk to the most southern point of the United States.

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Typically, there is writing on the Southern Point marker, but they were in the middle of repainting it while we were there.

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Once we were done looking at the view and taking our touristy pictures, we started walking around and looking at all the unique homes! People in Key West really enjoy celebrating Halloween, because almost all of them were decked out in Halloween decorations. Even our hotel was full of decorations! I believe the city was getting ready for a Fantasy Fest in the near future, which sounded huge!?

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After walking down Duval Street for a little bit, we were beginning to get hungry. We stumbled upon a cute place called, Two Friends. The place looked pretty busy, so we took it as a good sign!

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I’m so glad that we chose to eat here, because it was SO YUMMY! Despite being busy, we were sat right away and the service was great.

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I ordered the bacon, mushroom, and swiss omelet, while Taylor ordered their strawberry, banana, french toast. Both were excellent!

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We didn’t have any set plans for the day, so we continued walking around Key West and exploring. Taylor ended up finding a local Rum distillery! If you enjoy rum, you need to check this place out! You can walk around the see them actually making the rum!

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I’m not a rum drinker, but Taylor had a sample and said it was great!

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It was super hot while we were exploring, so we decided to go back to our hotel and relax by the pool. We booked our stay at the Eden House, which we found on booking.com. On our way back, we stopped at a local bakery for some sweet treats!

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We loved staying at the Eden House because it was so peaceful and relaxing. We were within walking distance of everything, and the people were so friendly. Each room was unique and very well kept.

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If we ever find ourselves in Key West again, we will definitely be staying here again. There are a few larger hotels on the island, but I’d recommend staying at a smaller place like a bed and breakfast.

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Every day from 5-7, the Eden House has a free happy hour! We took advantage of that before getting ready and heading out for a night on Duval Street.

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We started our Saturday night out at Sloppy Joe’s! They had live music and fantastic drinks and appetizers!

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We ordered their mozzarella sticks and loaded fries!

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After about an hour or so, we walked to Irish Kevin’s! Here, we split a World Famous Green Alligator! It had blue carjack, limon run, sour mix and orange juice with a 151 rum floater. Not only was it tasty, but it came with the cup!

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As soon as we left Irish Kevin’s, it started to rain. While waiting for it to stop, we went into a nearby ice cream shop for a late night snack! Once the rain gave up and we walked back to our hotel, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed for the hot tub.

The next morning we had to check out and head back to Gainesville. As soon as we packed our bags and said a sad goodbye to the Eden House, we drove to the harbor for a quick breakfast.

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We ordered food at the Cuban Coffee Queen and ate it on a bench beside the water! The food was amazing and it was my first time trying cuban coffee. Now I know why everyone raves about cuban coffee, because it was soooo good! Even Taylor liked it, and he doesn’t even drink coffee! 🙂

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On our way out of Key West, we passed the Mile 0 sign and had to stop for a mini photo shoot!

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Although our trip to Key West was short, we had an amazing time exploring the small city and we hope to be back soon!

 

 

Life Update: Moving, Wedding & Football

Hello Everyone!

Taylor and I have been MIA on our blog lately because we’ve been super busy and adjusting to new changes. After three years of having a long distance relationship, we are finally living in the same city!! The closest we’ve ever lived to each other, was 3 hours. It is so surreal being able to date like a “normal” couple. Now, we’re only a 15 minute drive away. We’re very thankful to be where we are today, and wouldn’t be here without the love and support from our friends and family.

We’ve both officially moved from South Carolina to Florida! Taylor accepted a graduate assistantship with the University of Florida, where he will complete his Masters in Athletic Training, which will take him two years to finish. He’s also started doing research in hopes of going on to complete his PHD. Needless to say, he’s been busy!

A lot of people have been asking us about our living arrangements while we’re down here. Before Taylor moved, he wanted to stay somewhere comfortable without spending his entire salary. He did a lot of research and nothing stood out to him. One day, he came up with the idea of living in my parent’s camper at a local campground!! Ha! I was completely against the idea, so I rent an apartment. However, Taylor has spent the past 3 months living in a camper. If you know Taylor, you know that this is right up his alley! If you want to see a post on how he does this, just let us know in the comments.

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As for myself, I moved at the beginning of September. It was difficult leaving the job I loved and my new friends, but I’m happy we’re finally together. I’ve been working with a company located in Jacksonville as an SEO content writer. The position allows me to work remotely, while incorporating my love for writing. I’ve also taken a full-time position with Chick-fil-A! I had several interviews with companies around the area, but after a lot of prayer and direction, Chick-fil-A was the best place for me and my career goals. I look forward to growing professionally and making advancements.

So far, transitioning to Florida has been smooth. As most of you know, Taylor and I are huge Clemson football fans! We moved from the ACC to the SEC and we’re trying to love the Florida Gators as much as we love the Clemson Tigers. It’s tough, but we’re working on it. 🙂

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The two teams keep our weekends filled with A LOT of football. When we’re not in Gainesville, we’re traveling to Clemson games. So far, we’ve traveled to see Clemson play Auburn and Georgia Tech.

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As for the wedding, the big day is quickly approaching! Our time as an engaged couple is flying, but with all the holiday’s drawing near, the time is only going to pass quicker. So far, we’ve locked down a date, venue, florist, theme, guest list, dress, and photographer. For those of you who don’t know, the wedding will be held in South Carolina during May 2017. You can read about our engagement here.

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Every time I think we’ve got everything under control, I realize there’s 50 other things to do! Currently, we’re working on save the dates, our registry, and our honeymoon destination! We’ll be honest, we had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to pick a honeymoon location. We’ve been scouring the internet looking for the best hotels, flights, and accommodations. There are a few destinations we’ve been eyeing, but nothing has really stood out to us yet. We’re ready to find that “wow” place! We’re always welcome for suggestions!

Thank’s for reading! 🙂

 

 

Destin Recap

As said in previous posts, our trip to Destin was filled with relaxation and enjoying time with family. We spent most of our days sitting beside the beach or pool and our nights eating way too much food and laughing until our stomachs hurt.

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One morning, we all decided to sleep in and make a huge breakfast! We had eggs, grits, toast, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and biscuits!

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This may be the only table that can comfortably fit all of us! We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun.

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For dinner that night, we ate at a family favorite, Red Bar!! IT WAS AMAZING! Since we went during the middle of the week, we only had to wait 45 minutes. Honestly, 45 minutes may seem like a long time, but we had a group of 20 people! The restaurant is pretty small and during the summertime it can become very crowded. The fact that we only had to wait 45 minutes was very impressive. While we were waiting, we took some pictures by the beach.

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Look Mom! I found a coconut! 🙂

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Romper: Dottie Couture Boutique

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The best part about Red Bar is that there are only 5/6 items on the menu each night. It makes it easy to decide what you want and your food is delivered a lot quicker. Our waiter did an incredible job taking care of us and everyone really enjoyed their dishes.

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thumbnail_IMG_3201About midway through the week, the boys wanted to spend the morning playing golf. Those of us who weren’t playing, decided to hit the outlets for some shopping and a lunch at McGuires Irish Pub. We decided to split a ton of delicious appetizers! The portion sizes were massive so we had plenty of leftovers to take home to those who played golf all morning. I think we had about 8 boxes total!

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Before we headed out for the night, we swam in the pool!

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Several evenings, we walked around the pier while trying different foods and drinks! That way, everyone got a little of something they really wanted.

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Romper: Dottie Couture Boutique

The ENTIRE time we were in Destin, we would always check to see if the Krispy Kreme Donut “Hot Now” sign was on. (We had to pass it to get back to our house.) To keep an eye on it, I downloaded the Krispy Kreme app, which let me know exactly when the sign was on! The only time it was on was when we were on our way to get ice cream…so we did both!

We ordered a dozen of the Hot Now donuts and 3 cups of milk! Like always, they were divine. After, we chose to get ice cream at Kilwins, which is an amazing place to get anything sweet! I was already extremely full from dinner and donuts, but I can’t turn down ice-cream, so I stuck with one scoop of cookie dough ice-cream. Taylor was half asleep and decided not to get anything.

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Out of the entire week we were visiting, there was only one rainy day and it was our last! We didn’t mind because most of us were burnt anyway! We started the day by eating breakfast together at the Donut Hole. Then, we all split up and spent the day packing and doing last minute activities.

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As everyone continues to get older, it’s nice to spend quality time together without the distractions of life. I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity to travel along with Tay!

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Thank’s for following along! 🙂

Crab Island

During our time in Destin, we did a lot of relaxing while enjoying great food and company. On our first full day, we all got together, rented two boats, and sailed out to Crab Island. Crab Island is a MUST when visiting the area. The island has been featured on Good Morning America and been published in several magazines, making it one of Destin’s top attractions!!

thumbnail_IMG_3143Crab Island used to be an actual island, but over time it slowly disappeared and now it’s just a giant sandbar within the golf. 

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Because this is such a large attraction, they’ve assembled different restaurants and bars that you can swim up to! Instead of eating there, we ordered 60 pieces of chicken and biscuits from a local restaurant and ate it on the boat.

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There were several other boats already anchored down when we got there and even more came as the day went on. I’ve been told it can get really packed during the summertime.

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After we were on the island for a couple hours, we decided to drive the boat around until we had to return it. We even spotted several dolphins!

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It was a great day with friends and family with some much needed relaxation!

Destin, Florida

On the Saturday that Taylor and Kendall flew back from Thailand, I picked them up at the Charlotte Airport around 8:45pm. Since they were living in a different time zone for the past two weeks, we contemplated driving straight through the night to Destin, Florida. However, they were both pretty exhausted from a full day of traveling so we decided against it. Instead, we ordered food at Chick-fil-A and headed back to their house to get some rest.

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Early the next morning, we started driving at 4. The trip would take us about 8 hours to reach our destination and we didn’t want to hit any traffic, especially around Atlanta. After we had been driving for a few hours, Taylor ordered me Bojangles and Starbucks for breakfast to hold us over until we arrived.

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When we finally arrived in Destin, I was completely in shock at how beautiful it was! Taylor and his family have traveled here several times before, but this was a first for me. I was not expecting the water to be so crystal clear with soft white sand. Destin is located on the gulf and it really felt like we were somewhere tropical.

 

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The house we were renting accommodated the entire family nicely and was super convenient being across the street from the beach and so close to all the best restaurants. Taylor’s family arrived the day before, so the first thing we did was eat some lunch and hop into the pool with everyone!! The weather was gorgeous and we spent all afternoon catching up on sleep and relaxing.

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For dinner, we all decided to eat at Dewey Destin’s, which was a family favorite. They have a great outdoor seating area and amazing food. Taylor ordered the blackened mahi and I ordered the parmesan encrusted grouper. I can easily say it was THE BEST grouper I’ve ever eaten in my life! Everyone else agreed!

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Although the food was great, the service wasn’t. Our server disappeared on several occasions and wouldn’t refill any of our drinks unless we asked. Bummer!

After we paid our bills, we went straight back to the house. Taylor and Kendall were extremely exhausted from their trip and jet lagged. It was a struggle keeping Taylor up so long, but we made him stay awake for as long as possible.