Life Update: Our Plans for the Holiday Season

Hello!

I wanted to hop on the blog and write a short update about what’s going on with Taylor and I in regards to the holidays! As most of you know, Taylor and I flew back to America at the beginning of November. While I flew to Philadelphia, Taylor flew to Florida for work. A few days before Thanksgiving, Taylor hopped on a flight back to China! No worries though, he got to spend Thanksgiving with everyone else living in China. 🙂 These are some photos he sent me:

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Before the MLB booked any of these flights for us, Taylor and I sat down together and hashed out how we wanted to conquer the holidays this year! I could’ve flown to Florida with him, but really wanted to go home and see my family without buying a round trip flight from Florida to Philly. I also didn’t want to fly back to China before Thanksgiving and then come back right before Christmas. That’s a lot of long flights and time change! Although, now that it’s been over a month, I’m starting to regret not going to Florida with him for a portion of his stay. I miss him!

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His Christmas vacation starts in the middle of December, when he’ll fly back to South Carolina. Then, he’ll drive up to Pennsylvania to spend a week here with my side of the family. After that, we’ll drive back to South Carolina together, where we’ll spend Christmas. I hope this isn’t super confusing… even I get a little confused writing about it. 🙂

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I’ve been loving my time at home! I spend most of my days helping my mom plan for an upcoming Christmas party, taking photos, hanging out with Bubba and Riley, and helping my family around the house. There’s only 25 days until Christmas…just saying! 🙂

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Taylor is working hard and still adjusting to the 13 hour time change. I can’t wait to see him in a few weeks. We’re going to have so much fun celebrating the holidays together with friends and family, and of course catching a few Clemson games before the season ends!

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Let me know if you have anymore questions about our holiday plans and I’ll answer them down below. xoxo

 

Taylor in Tianjin

Hello!

I thought it would be a good idea to update y’all on how Taylor is doing in China. If you didn’t know, I’m currently visiting friends and family back in the States and Tay is still working in China. You can find out why I left in my last post. Taylor will be in Tianjin until the end of August, so he’s working hard to build relationships with the Chinese National Baseball Team right now.

Here are some photos he’s sent me!

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Since there’s literally nothing else to do besides work where he’s staying, Taylor’s been taking the train to Beijing on the weekends. It’s obviously way bigger and he can walk around and eat in areas that have a heavy western influence.

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Overall, he’s doing really well and taking things day by day. If anyone can stick this out, it’s Taylor. It doesn’t take much to please him. 🙂 We miss each other, but we’ve got some exciting plans coming up in the near future. Stay tuned for more and keep him in your prayers! ❤

 

 

Visiting Anji – Bamboo Park

It’s Wednesday, and we’re back from our weekend trip to Anji! The MLB had their annual conference for all their employees, which turned out to be a relaxing weekend away for us! If you missed my last post, I said that they typically have the conference in Shanghai. However, they wanted to get everyone out of the city and into the country this year. I’m so glad they chose Anji! This is a place we probably wouldn’t have traveled to on our own, but it was beautiful!

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All three MLB offices met in Wuxi, then took a 2.5 hour bus ride to the JW Marriott! Honestly, this was one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in! It was situated on a huge golf course and there were surrounding views of the mountains. I was very impressed with the location and service here! Everything was so laid back.

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Taylor had a meeting all day on Monday, so I decided to go out and explore on my own! This was HUGE for me. I’m not one to go out in a place I don’t know, especially where I can’t speak the language. I figured I’d learn to explore on my own at some point during our time here, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this soon. The hotel recommended the Bamboo Park, so I got in a taxi and set out! Fun fact: Anji is known for their abundance of bamboo.

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The Bamboo Park was a 20 minute drive from our hotel. I had the concierge tell my taxi driver where I wanted to go. As you can imagine, the forest was out in the middle of nowhere. As soon as we parked, it began pouring, thundering, and lightening. My taxi driver was also trying to tell me something, but I couldn’t understand. I still have no idea what he was trying to tell me. Thankfully, I packed an umbrella though!!

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Despite the rain, it was beautiful! There were very few people there and it was fun to walk around on my own. The Anji Bamboo Park is the largest bamboo garden in the world! There are supposedly over 300 different types of bamboo here! I hiked up a mountain to the treehouse overlook, and it was breathtaking! It was so hot and humid, plus probably the most exercise I’ve done since being here, so as you can imagine I was sweating! After the hike, I just wondered around taking pictures.

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I’m really pleased with myself for getting out by myself. However, I wouldn’t recommend the Bamboo Park if you’re looking for a way to spend your entire day. I think I paid like $10 to enter the park, but the hike was the only thing to do. When I looked online it said there was a panda house, tea house, a lake, and a lot more. The tea house was being rebuilt and the lake was actually a small pond (or I couldn’t find it). It was fun to see all the bamboo and the stunning views, but I wouldn’t pay $10 to go on a hike when I can do that for free on my own time.

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Overall, Anji was a beautiful part of China! The other people we work with mentioned going back here for another short weekend. It was beautiful and a nice escape from the city life!

Stay tuned for my monthly recap post! 🙂

 

Grand Teton National Park

We just got back from our family trip out west, and I’m sitting here cuddling with Maybelle while writing/editing this post. I missed her terribly while we were away, and it was her first time being boarded (it didn’t go well)! It’s currently pouring outside, so I’m listening to the rain with coffee in hand, while May is snuggled up beside me in her favorite heated blanket.

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This year, Taylor’s side of the family decided to travel through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for the annual family vacay! In the previous years, we’ve visited Maine, Destin, and California! You can click on the links to read about those trips as well.

We flew out of Charlotte super early on Saturday morning, and arrived in Salt Lake City by 11am. It was a 4 hour flight through Delta, and everything went smoothly. Although none of us sat together on the plane, we had endless movies to watch on the TV screens in our seats. On the way there, I watched The Maze Runner-The Death Cure and a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory-Season 11. 

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Like most of our family vacations, we rented a 15 passenger van at the airport. Once all our luggage was packed tightly into the back, we buckled up and drove 5 hours to Jackson Hole for our first adventure!

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We would only be in Jackson Hole for one night, so we made the most of our time there. We started by riding the Aerial Tram above the mountains. This was a great way to see the area, because there are windows circling the tram. This is not for those afraid of heights! Once you get to the top, you can see Jackson Hole for miles. The view is stunning and makes for a great photo opportunity!

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By the time we got off the mountain, it was time for dinner. We all ate at MacPhails Burgers. This was a great spot to relax and enjoy a good burger. Afterwards, we walked around downtown Jackson Hole and visited the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We didn’t stay long before checking into our hotel and turning in for the night. I think it’s safe to say that everyone was exhausted from a full day of traveling. We stayed up as late as we could in attempt to help with the time change.

We started the next morning by loading up the van again and heading to breakfast downtown at Persephone Bakery. It was a small cafe, and since we were such a large group, we ate outside around the fire. The food was unique and delicious. This wasn’t your typical scrambled eggs and bacon, but we loved it! We had a great morning sharing plates of food and sipping on our coffee before another long day.

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I ordered the Herbed Omelette, which had fresh herbs, red chile lemon ricotta, asparagus, radish, fingerling potatoes, dijon cream sauce, and toast. This was the best toast I’ve ever eaten before!

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Taylor and I have been dreaming about visiting the Grand Tetons, but it’s difficult to get to. You can fly into the Jackson Hole Airport, but quite frankly it’s expensive and a long journey. With a group of 12 people, it was easier to fly into Salt Lake City and drive.

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To be honest, I’m struggling to write about the beauty of the Tetons. I feel like no words or pictures can do it justice. They are truly a masterpiece, and you must see them in person. I could spend days driving through the enormous mountains, taking photos and letting it all sink in.

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We drove a short distance and found a small 1 mile trail to hike up to Phelps Lake. This was a moderate hike with amazing views at the top.

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Once we were done, we drove around some more and stopped at several lookouts before checking in at the Jackson Lake Lodge.

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Once we got our room keys, we loaded into a different van and headed to a rafting tour on the Snake River!

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We had an amazing time floating down the river and seeing all the wildlife. I didn’t want to take my camera with me, and it rained about halfway so I didn’t capture a lot of pictures. Looking back, I’m ok with this because I was able to be in the moment and enjoy the tour. This was probably one of the coolest excursions during the trip.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best experience at the Jackson Lake Lodge. In fact, I don’t even have any pictures of the inside. The lobby area was gorgeous, with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the Grand Tetons. However, when we brought all our bags upstairs after the rafting tour, 3 of the rooms weren’t cleaned. It was about 10pm, so we were ready for bed.

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They only had one available room left in the lodge, so a few of us had to move to the cottages surrounding the lodge. This was the first week they were open, so they were probably still working out the kinks, but it was disappointing. They mentioned that the rooms said “dirty” in their system so why would they even give us a key?? Weird.

Besides the room cleanliness though, we enjoyed our stay. We ate breakfast there the next morning and headed out towards YellowStone National Park.

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Stay tuned for more posts about our trip! 🙂

Tigers on The Road: Raleigh, NC

 

 

Taylor and I left for Raleigh, North Carolina last Friday to see the Tigers play NC State. We live about an hour and a half away from the Orlando airport, so we had to get up around 4am to make our 7am flight time. Thankfully, we have TSA Pre-Check and don’t need to worry about standing in line at security. TSA Pre-Check has been a lifesaver for us, especially because we fly out of a very populated airport! The line is always wrapped around and full of Disney Tourists with their multiple kids and strollers, so investing in TSA Pre-Check has been a lifesaver.

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This flight was special because we got to bring Maybelle! She has only flown one other time, and she was still a little puppy. She whined a little when we first took off, but after a few minutes she went to sleep. There were two little kids in the seats in front of us and they LOVED her. They kept turning around to check on her.

 

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Maybelle lives in Florida with us, so she wasn’t used to the cooler weather!

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Once we landed, we met up with our great friend Rachel and headed to her place to change for the Clemson game! I was shocked at how beautiful Raleigh was at this time of year. I’ve only visited the city one other time, and it was during late summer. I’ve never seen such beautiful leaves before in my life! If you love fall and all the colorful leaves, then you’re going to love this post because it’s jam packed with red, orange, and yellow!

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Like every other Clemson game, we tailgated with friends and family before the game started. The weather was much cooler for us Floridians, but we loved it!

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The NC State stadium is one of the best I’ve been too! It was smaller in size, but very clean. Their fans were ROWDY during the game, and the school did an amazing job at pumping up their fans.

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This was such a close game, which made things tense. NC State put up a good fight, and we barely pulled out a win.

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Once the game was over, we stopped at Cookout (because we can only get this when we’re in the area) and we crashed back at Rachel’s. The following morning we went to the State Farmer’s Market for breakfast.

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If you’re in Raleigh and need a good breakfast/lunch place, the State Farmer’s Market is the place to go! The line was out the door when we got there, but we only had to wait an hour for a table. It looked extremly busy from the outside!

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Our Server, Daniel, was so good to us and made the wait enjoyable. He brought us biscuits and hush puppies, while keeping our coffee full.

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Taylor enjoyed seeing all of his friends!

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Once we were done eating, we walked through the Farmer’s Market.

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We don’t get all the colorful leaves in Florida, so I made Taylor take a picture of me with the leaves.

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The face of pure happiness 🙂

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Once we got back from the State Farmer’s Market, we checked in on the pup and took her for a long walk. We were driving back up the following weekend, so we left Maybelle with Taylor’s mom for the week. This way we didn’t have to buy her another plane ticket.

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We sat around on Sunday afternoon, thinking about what we wanted to do during the day, and we decided to grab some coffee at Cocoa Cinnamon, then walk around the gardens at Duke.

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Walking through the gardens was the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect and the grounds were breathtaking. It was a relaxing Sunday and we were glad to see Duke’s campus!

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Going to the gardens and walking around Duke was the best decision we made on Sunday! It was difficult choosing which photos to use for this post, because they were all so beautiful.

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To end the night, we drove into the city and ate dinner at Trophy Brewing Co with Rachel and Ben. We were flying out early the next morning, so we needed something quick and filling.

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They had indoor and outdoor seating available, and the service was quick but relaxed. It wouldn’t make sense for us to travel somewhere and not order some pizza, so that’s what we did! I ordered the Margarita and Taylor split the Most Loyal with Rachel and Ben.

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I’m so glad we travelled to Raleigh to see Clemson play and meet up with friends and family. It can be exhausting living in Florida with all the heat and humidity, so this was a nice break from it all. ❤

 

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!