Category Archives: Boating

Console Table DIY (sort of)

I know it’s been a long time since I wrote anything, but honestly, you aren’t missing out. Pretty much every weekend has consisted of either going to the lake or rainy indoor nothingness. However, over the summer (maybe last summer honestly, it was a long time ago) I collected a bunch of driftwood boards from Lake Livingston. They had been part of someone’s boat house or dock that had gotten destroyed, probably in Hurricane Ike in 2008, and they ended up on Pine Island. Well, these boards were WAY TOO GOOD to just let them rot so I gave them a new home in my garage, waiting for the perfect project to come along. I mean, think of all the energy that went into making these perfect boards? They were once a huge tree that had to be cut down, cut to size, honed, trucked around the country, trucked to a house, and then cut again and nailed into place. Only to be ripped apart in a hurricane.

This timber has a new life (Sorry for the out of focus Instagram photo)
This timber has a new life! (Sorry for the out of focus Instagram photo)

So Hubby graciously let me fill the boat with dirty, muddy wood and then it sat in the garage for a while. Until we got this guy.

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This is Luke. He is sweet but doesn’t really pay attention to where he is in relation to where other objects are. Especially when he’s ruff-housing with Hondo, our Red Heeler. So he runs into things. Eventually he ran into our cheap particle board, Walmart, build-it-yourself TV stand enough times that when we tried to move it to shampoo the carpets, it literally fell apart in my hands. Hubby said, “well, I guess we need to get a tv stand,” and I said, “well, I’ve actually been wanting to build one with that driftwood I collected oh so long ago.” I had ideas saved on Pinterest for months! And I finally was able to do it! So the first weekend that it wasn’t raining we stayed home and started building it.

DISCLAIMER: We are not builders. We had no idea what we were doing. This entire project was done by “winging it” and most of it was done by eye-balling it. Measuring would have been nice, except that since the boards aren’t perfectly straight, measuring on one side would have been different from the measurement on the other side.

So, the first thing we did was draw it out, and really all we did was draw something that a second grader would have been proud of. (Like I said, we eye-balled it).

So we put it together, working on it for about 4 weekends, but it took about 2 months to finish because we’ve either been traveling, working, or it’s been raining between.  The console table was complete, but we didn’t have enough driftwood for a shelf so we had to go back out and collect more wood. Once the weather and timing worked out to go back to the lake, we were able to finish the console table the next day.

We are REALLY happy with how it turned out. We are going to get another basket to put onto the shelf (it’s hard to see, but the DVD player is on the shelf too, so only one basket can fit) but otherwise it’s actually a completed project! Go us! All in all, with materials to finish the table (screws, brackets, castors, cedar boards for the backing, stain, and wood conditioner) and baskets (soon to be 5 baskets at $11 each at Walmart-I think these are the ones were bought) we only spent $120 total on this project.

Lesson: Even if you have no idea what you are doing, give it a shot. You don’t know what you are capable of until you try!

What projects have you completed that you were proud of, even though you didn’t know how it was going to turn out while you were doing it? What about completed projects that you aren’t so proud of? 😉

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Vacation Oddities

When we go on vacation, we go before the big tourist season in order to avoid a lot of crowds and it’s easier to get discounts and free upgrades that way! For a little more on that, check out the guest post that I wrote for my sister, here!  However, because of that, there were a couple days that we couldn’t dive because there weren’t enough people signed up for the dive boat. So one day we decided to spend the day checking out the rest of the town.

First we tried out the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical Gardens State Park, which turned out to be….interesting in the least…

I think what happened was it was a state park that lost its funding, but the state didn’t want to close it down completely. So instead, cars are not allowed in the state park, and it’s really cheap for people to get in. You don’t even give your money to a person, you just put your money into a little metal tube that they check periodically.  So when you are on your little walking tour of the park, you get to see the native plants labeled, which is what I was looking forward to learning.  Except because the park isn’t really operational anymore, a lot fo the labels weren’t legible anymore, or you weren’t sure which plant was the one they were marking.  And none of the plants were in bloom, so it wasn’t a very pretty walk.  And while Hubby and I decided to go on a “hike” (it’s in quotes because it was more walking than anything) it was great until the biting flies drove us back to the car in a frenzy!

Pelican Patient

After the Attack of the Biting Flies we went to the wild bird sanctuary, that I hadn’t read good reviews about this place, but I thought we should check it out anyway.  The best thing about TripAdvisor is you get honest opinions about places, so you should probably take that advise, is all I’m saying…

The wild bird sanctuary was sort of a sad looking place that tried to have nice enclosures for the birds, but it just seemed like they didn’t have enough funding for the number of birds that they had.  There were tons of pelicans, and a bunch of them were loose, making me think that they weren’t really patients, but just learned that this is a good place to get free food.  There was a very large enclosure containing multiple pelicans, and one of the workers had just come from that direction after feeding the pelicans and seagulls.  Hubby and I walked to the pelican enclosure and I saw a pelican that was stuck in the ropes of the enclosure! It was a wild pelican (not a patient) that was looking for a free meal and crashed into the ropes that created a sort of ceiling over the enclosure.  When the pelican landed on the ropes he couldn’t get his legs back under himself and his wings were spread out from being in the flight position, so he couldn’t get himself out of the ropes.  We watched him for a few seconds, and we were sure that the worker who had just been in the area had noticed him, and went to get something so he could get the pelican out of the rope.  We walked around the enclosure, trying to enjoy the sanctuary, and then I saw one of the pelicans inside the enclosure pecking the trapped pelican in the face.  Needless to say, I ran back to where we saw the worker and told him what was wrong.  He got the pelican out of the ropes, I held open the enclosure door for him, and he took the pelican into the hospital to rehydrate with fluids.  He thanked me for helping and told me that the pelican had a band on his leg indicating he had been a patient at a different animal hospital in the past, which probably means that he knew where to get a free meal.

I guess it’s good that we were there when we were, because who knows how long that poor guy was stuck in the ropes, laying in the sun and the heat.  I’m just glad he would be okay after they got him out of the ropes!

Not all parts of your vacation are going to be perfect, but the lesson learned here was to trust TripAdvisor!  People take their time to write out their opinions after they have experienced something, and you get the chance to live vicariously through them.  It’s very valuable information!  So follow advise from Fellow Travelers like me!

Lovely sunset
Lovely sunset

Future Adventures

This is a sort of continuation of my Bucket List posts.  Soon Hubby and I will be embarking on another adventure – going back to Key Largo.  Some people might think that if we have gone there before, it shouldn’t count as an adventure, but I say no trip is ever the same trip twice.

Last year we discovered that driving to Florida was A LONG TRIP so we are flying again. I also got free flights this year, because of Frequent Flyer Miles, so that was a big reason why we picked Key Largo as our destination again.

Also, we have no more diving classes that we need to take because after our Key Largo trip we will be MASTER DIVERS (Going to be crossed off the Bucket List even if it wasn’t written down in the first place!). That’s right – I have mastered something.  Now I’m sure most people don’t know what constitutes a Master Diver Certification, but you need 5 Specialty Classes and 50 dives.  We have already gotten our 5 specialties, so by the time we are done with our trip, we will be done! Our last two trips to Key Largo were concentrated around classes, so because we have no more classes to take, we will have time for other fun things, like kayaking in the only underwater state park, John Pennekamp State Park and going to a wild bird sanctuary. Who knows, I might go back to the sea turtle rehab center, but adventures are sometimes more fun when repeated 🙂

I also bought myself a wonderful new camera for Christmas, so I am planning on having some spectacular photos to share when we return.

Sunset on Key Largo
Sunset on Key Largo

Also on the horizon is a trip to Vermont and New York in the fall.  The only New England state I have ever been to was New Jersey. I have to make up for that by seeing the leaves start to change with a good friend of mine that lives up there, and who I haven’t seen in years.  I will force her to be my chauffeur (I will even sit in the back seat and get her a little hat to wear, I’m sure), force her to be my tour guide, and force her to take me to drinking establishments for adults.

Since one item on my bucket list is to see all 50 states, I am planning to knock out at least two states on that trip, and maybe more. I mean, the states are so small up there, it only takes a few hours to get across them! Maybe we will go to Connecticut for a chowder lunch, Maine for a lobster dinner, and Massachusetts for drinks afterwards! That’s how that works, right?

Not a lot of people have the ability or the ambition to cross things off their Bucket Lists. Not only am I thankful that I have the drive to do the things that I say that I want to do, but I have a husband that wants to do the same things. Who knows…in a few years, I might have to write a whole new list!

So keep checking back, World Travelers! I’ll be sure to share our adventures, and hopefully be able to give some good travel tips if you want them!

Happy Earth Day!

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do anything specifically “earth friendly” yesterday because I was traveling all day long to Oklahoma instead of being at home (which is also why I didn’t have time to write this until Earth Day was over). But to make up for it, I planted some new plants in the front yard to beautify the front of the house over the weekend.

However, I would love to hear what YOU have planned for Earth Day? Have you gone hiking? Did you walk to work? Donated your time and/or money to a conservation organization?

One great thing that you could do is sign a petition to help shark conservation, or teach a child how to start a compost bin.

Really, there are so many ways you can help the earth, and although we should treat every day like Earth Day, one day at a time is a good way to get people, who might not otherwise participate, to take a step towards conservation, recycling, or sustainable energy use.

So, what did you do for Mother Earth today?

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Bucket List #2

There have been many things I have accomplished in my relatively short adult life so far. I graduated with my bachelors degree in 3.5 years. I got my masters degree right after that. I have been to Europe. But the things that I have crossed off my bucket list are what I’m really proud of.

1. Swim with manatees
2. Hold a wild nurse shark
3. Drive to Alaska
4. Live in the rainforest (it was only for a month, but it was far from a vacation!)
5. See wild humpback whales (recently accomplished!)
6. Dive Monterey Bay (also recently accomplished, on the same day as the whales!)
7. Foster MULTIPLE litters of kittens and several dogs
8. Gone on a cruise in Hawaii
9. Ran a half marathon (accomplished March 23)
10. Go parasailing

I have also added a few things to my bucket list, and thought of a few more things that I have always wanted to do, but forgot to add to the last list:

15. See a wild whale shark
16. Witness a massive hammerhead migration (while diving below them)
17. Go to India (This had actually been on my list for a while, but I just forgot to write it down)
18. Bathe an Indian elephant in a river
19. See the whooping cranes
20. Work on coral reef restoration

Bucket List

Not too long ago, a couple girls at my office, Zombie and Poltergeist Prevention, Inc. asked me what I was going to do for my birthday. Jokingly, girl #1 said “what are you doing for your birthday? Climbing Mount Kilamanjaro?” And girl #2 agreed with her that we are always adventuring, so there is no telling what our weekends have in store. And again today, I ran into an old friend from high school, and in casual conversation with her boss, whom I had just met, my friend explained to him that we are adventurous people. This is probably one of the nicest things someone has said about me. So it made me think about creating a bucket list.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order other than this is the order I thought of them, my bucket list:

1. Go to South Africa and Kenya for my 30th birthday

2. Climb Mt. Kilamanjaro for my 40th birthday (the girls at work had a good idea!)

3. Dive the Great Barrier Reef

4. Meet Jane Goodall

5. Swim with polar bears!

6. Swim with great whites! (Ok, ok. In a cage).

7. Visit all 50 states of the US

8. Visit every continent (I got this idea from my dad, the Intrepid Traveler, who has almost done this!)

9. Run a marathon

10. Hike the Pacific Crest trail

11. Dive every sea

12. See an octopus in the wild

13. See the aurora borealis

14. See the aurora australis

Now, by no means is this a finite list. I will continue to add to it, and I have already scratched something’s off my list, before I ever really wrote it down.

Like I have hiked the tallest peak in Texas. Twice.

I have been to Alaska and Hawaii, the two hardest states to hit when attempting to hit all 50.

I have been parasailing in the Florida Keys.

I can’t wait to start crossing a few things off my list, so I have room to add more to my list!

What are some things on your bucket list?

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Traveling with Brodie

A few years ago while I was in Grad School, I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and live there for a month during a Primate Behavior and Conservation course, put on by DANTA.  It was one of those things that I asked my parents if I could do it, and I was totally expecting them to say no.  Instead, my dad, The Intrepid Traveler, decided not only to let me go, but since I had never traveled by myself (much less out of the country by myself), he decided to go with me.

The plan was to go down about a week early and do some Site Seeing on our own. Then when it came time for the course, The Intrepid Traveler would go to the airport, and I would meet up with my new classmates. Sounds like a great plan, right? Flawless even? When the Intrepid Traveler is involved, nothing ever goes according to plan, but it is always an adventure!

As much as he travels, you would think he would speak 50 languages and have friends in every village. He would blend in. Disappear. You would never see him again.  But the truth is he could get lost in his own museum (Love you, Dad!).

First of all, we asked AT&T if my phone would work in Costa Rica, and they said yes. It did not. We rented a car rather than get driven around in taxis. This also did not work. We are used to roads in Texas. Where if you miss your exit, you can just take the next one, and turn around. I thought it was that way in all of the US, but apparently not (more on that a different day). But apparently, missing your exit in San Jose is a much bigger deal than we thought. Somehow we managed to always find our destinations, but I think that was mainly the tourism people being used to stupid Americans, and giving really good landmarks as directions.  It also didn’t help that neither of us speak Spanish. Yes, yes I know. We are the stupid Americans that don’t bother to learn other languages and expect everyone to speak English. But Spanish is HARD!  The good thing was though, that we made a great team…more or less. Most everyone we encountered did, in fact, speak English. Of course they had Spanish accents but they were speaking English, so that shouldn’t be a problem, right? Except for my Dad. They would be speaking to him, in English, and he would look at me and asked what they said, because their accents were too thick for him to understand. So I was a great translator! From Broken English to English! I wonder if I could turn that into a career….

Now since this was a few years ago, and all but about 6 of my pictures somehow got corrupted by the time I got back to the US (I’m still upset about that!), I’m a little fuzzy on our adventures. However, I know that Dad and I went to a coffee plantation which was really cool, because we were the only people on the tour and go to look around at everything there. We also stayed at some really cute hotels, ate at great restaurants, and got to go white water rafting.  My favorite city in Coast Rica was La Fortuna.  There is a massive volcano that we could see from our hotel window, and the town had a very relaxed, surfer attitude.  Our first night in Costa Rica, we actually found a restaurant called Tex Mex. We thought that would be a safe bet to ease ourselves into the culture, so we decided to check that out. It turned out that the owner of the restaurant was from Las Vegas, Nevada, and came and sat down with us to tell us the secrets of Costa Rica. Such as, cover your luggage (or anything you have in the back seat/hatch back) with a black blanket so it is less obvious you have anything in there. I remember this vividly, because at our hotel the next morning while eating breakfast, my father asked the boy working there if he could buy the blanket from our room to cover our stuff.  The poor kid. He probably had no idea what my dad was thinking. I’m sure he thought Dad was going to murder someone and wrap them up in the blanket or something. As it turned out, the owner of the hotel wasn’t there at the time to ask, so the boy just said we could have it. I’m sure he didn’t want to upset the homicidal American by telling him he COULDN’T have the blanket. So as a thank you, Dad tipped the kid extra. At least we think we tipped him extra. I never could get that exchange rate right.

Come to think of it, we did see on the news that night a boy who was being publically flogged for giving stuff away at a hotel….I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

Anyway…

White water rafting was a blast. We had never done it before, so we were stoked! After going through a little demonstration with the guides, we headed down the river.  During the calm parts of the river, the guide also served as a naturalist tour guide, teaching us (but mainly me, because I think I’m the only one that cared) about the birds we saw, and he even made a special stop to find a species of bats called Long Nosed Bats, that are known for sleeping under leaves and on crooked tree trunks.

CR - Long-nose Bats

We found them, and I got a great look at them before they flew right over our heads. So cool!

After a week of driving around lost in Costa Rica (and in the rain because apparently it was the monsoon season…oops) it was time to go our separate ways.  Dad was to get to the car rental return and go to the airport, and I was to go to The Hotel Aeropuerto. That morning as we were leaving the hotel to head to the car return I said, “Shouldn’t we get directions?”

Dad’s. Exact. Words. “I’m sure we can find it.” Oh good. Since that’s been the way this WHOLE trip has been going, right?

We were up on a mountain heading into San Jose, and you could see the airport from where we were, so I thought maybe, just maybe, he could get us there. Except that every time we would exit off the highway, or even go straight on the highway, I swear the airport got further and further away. It was like it was in a parallel airport universe.  We ended up pulling over and asking directions a couple of times. When that didn’t work, Dad actually got a guy to drive in front of us and LEAD US TO THE CAR DROP OFF. The whole time I was thinking, he’s going to drive out into the middle of nowhere and demand more money. He’s going to rob us. He’s going to get lost himself, because he doesn’t have permission from the Airport Overlords to enter the parallel universe.  But it worked.  He got us to the drop off.  I couldn’t believe it. I guess all the years of travel have paid off for Dad!

The final challenge was telling my taxi driver where to take me from the drop off.  Dad sometimes speaks really quietly because his ears are a little out-dated and he thinks he’s speaking at a normal volume. He told the driver to take me to the Aeropeurto Hotel, but he said hotel so quietly, I was afraid the driver would take me to The Aeropuerto!  Not the same thing, so I tried to make sure it was HOTEL Aeropuerto, but when I started to say it, the driver just nodded and waved me off. Fingers were definitely crossed as I headed away from Dad, but I ended up at the right place.

So a few things I learned about Costa Rica while I was there:

  • Summer is the rainy season. Don’t go then. Mud slides are a daily occurence, and the mosquitoes get bigger and meaner with every raindrop. They are like Gremlins.
  • Pay very close attention to the road signs. If you miss your exit, just pick a new destination further down the road. It would be easier than trying to turn around.
  • The hearts with halos that you see painted all over the road and intended to remind drivers to be careful – every heart represents a pedestrian that was killed by a car. And only if they died on the scene. If they died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, they  don’t count. There are halo hearts EVERYWHERE.

I wish I had pictures of this trip. I guess it’s just an excuse to go back. Now that I know what I know, I think it would go much smoother. Maybe I’ll even take my dad again…?