Florida, Jewel Concert and the time I creeped on Wanda Sykes

Hey guys! I’ve missed you! I spent the last week in sunny Florida – doing lots of things, but sadly not a lot of getting tan.  But I made up for it by doing a million other ridiculous things!

So, on Monday, I took the day off for my birthday (on Tuesday).  My job is really awesome in that they give us a “birthday” day off. Michael also took the day off and we went to the courthouse to get our marriage license!!! That was a very interesting experience to say the least, but we are super excited to have that crossed off our list!

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We are almost official!

 

On Tuesday, we departed for sunny Orlando!  I had a work conference to attend, and Michael was going to be taking a week and coming with me to have some nice R&R. The flight there was one of the best flights I’ve been on – which is good because Michael HATES flying.  They found out it was my birthday on the plane (thanks to my coworkers) and they sang me happy birthday over the loudspeaker!

When we landed, we took a cab to the hotel and promptly headed to the pool bar for some lunch.  The bartender proceeded to give me shots for my birthday! We got ready for the first night of the Expo and I got to catch up with a lot of my friends from the vendor we deal with.  After the Expo, we went to Maggiano’s for dinner.  They sang to me AGAIN and I had wonderful tiramisu.

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Yum, poolside drinks!

 

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Dessert!!!

 

On Wednesday, I worked all day at the conference.  My group (9 of us total) and Michael and I went out to a cool Cuban tapas place called Cafe Tu Tu Tango. They have local art on the wall for purchase and live entertainment.  Some of the dishes we selected: jalapeno mac n cheese, cajun chicken eggrolls, oriental steak skewers, duck confit salad, southwest chicken flatbread, etc.

On Thursday, we had a few great speakers.  Hamish Taylor – a Scotsman who was hilarious and brillant.  Our keynote speaker was singer/songwriter Jewel.  That woman is sweet, clever, and has come from such an interesting life. After a full afternoon  of my conference, we had a fun night at Universal!  They rent out the place just for us, and fill the park with food, drink, and dessert.  We can also ride all the rides with NO LINES!

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Hamish Taylor – great, funny guy, and a very engaging speaker. Check him out on Twitter: @HamishWTaylor

 

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Jewel!

 

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One of the many rides we got unlimited access to!

 

I started feeling poorly on Thursday night.  I woke up Friday morning, and didn’t attend the last of my two sessions.  Michael and I had plans to sit poolside most of the day on Friday, but we only spent a few hours out there.  We had a lazy afternoon in front of the TV, which was just fine with me.  The flight home on Saturday was miserable.  The pressure changes in an airplane are never fun, but they are downright torture when you have sinus pressure.

On the way back, we saw comedian Wanda Sykes in the Orlando Aiport.  I creeped on her and took this picture.

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Despite getting sick, we had a great time on the trip.  While it was for work, it was still a much more relaxed environment and our time of R&R was much needed.

Have you traveled for work conferences? Did you bring your significant other with you? How was your week?

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Florida Pt. 2

This is a continuation of Florida Part One. Sorry it took so long to get out…I’ve had some unexpected excitement! On Wednesday, we began the trek to Key West…my favorite part of the trip. We knew the drive was going to take about 4 1/2 hours, but we were willing to take our time.  The first part of our drive  until we got to Marathon was pretty uneventful. The second half was really slow!

Key West welcome center

Key West welcome center

 

My view for most of the drive

My view for most of the drive

 

Beautiful restaurant in Marathon.

Beautiful restaurant in Marathon.

Best Caesar Salad I've ever had!

Best Caesar Salad I’ve ever had!

This plane had crashed near Marathon days earlier and they were working to get it out

This plane had crashed days earlier and they were working to get it out

We arrived in Key West and navigated straight to the Cypress House, a cute bed and breakfast that was built in 1888.  They took our luggage up to our room and gave us a free parking pass.  We parked down the street and walked back to the room.  It was beautiful.

Porch outside of our room

Porch outside of our room

Cypress House Est 1888

Cypress House Est 1888

Front door to the Cypress House

Front door to the Cypress House

Cypress House

Cypress House

Pool at the Cypress House

Pool at the Cypress House

The most beautiful thing was sitting on the nightstand….a gorgeous boquet of flowers! Michael had snuck away from me while we were in Ft. Lauderdale and contacted the Cypress House.  They arranged to have an arrangement made and delivered to our room.  Do I have the sweetest guy, or what?!

Beautiful flowers from Michael!

Beautiful flowers from Michael!

We freshened up then hit Duval Street.  For those of you who haven’t been to Key West, this is the main street, where all the bars and shops are.  We hit up Irish Kevins for a pre dinner drink and then did some exploring.  We settled on Fogarty’s for dinner.  After dinner, we had a great dessert from a local bakery 🙂

We crashed early.  Got up the next morning (Thursday) and had breakfast downstairs.  We brought our coffee back up to the room and sat on our porch.  We each took turns getting ready and we set out for the day.  We went on the Conch Train to get a tour of the city. Key West has so much history and so much Cuban culture.  We got off around Southernmost Point (90 miles to Cuba).  We walked around for awhile, taking in the sights and exploring some nice hotels.

We went to a cute place called Two Friends Cafe for lunch.  After lunch we went shopping along Duval, much to Michael’s dismay.  We had dinner that night at Caroline’s and I had the best blackened Mahi Mahi I’ve ever had.

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My handsome baby!

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My sunburned self…

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Blackened Mahi

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Michael’s Cuban sandwich

On Friday morning we went through our normal morning ritual.  We spent some time hanging out in the room, then we went to Bo’s Fish Wagon for a snack while we were waiting for Dante’s pool bar to re-open from a private party.  We ate lunch, hung out, then went back to the room to get ready for our sunset cruise.

The sunset cruise was amazing.  The weather was perfect, the staff was funny, and the wine and food was incredible.  We had a blast and met so many interesting people.

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The happy couple

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We had a beautiful sunset!

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I love this picture of us!

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Sailboat!

Saturday was the day we left Key West and I was so sad! We drove back from Key West to West Palm Beach to hang out with his cousins.  These cousins are the children of his aunt and uncle that we stayed with at the beginning of our trip.  We sat out on their porch, drinking and eating.

We got up on Sunday morning and drove all the way to the west coast of Florida to Ft. Myers.  We had an incredible lunch with two of Michael’s friends.  I decided to leave my beautiful flower arrangement with them so that they could enjoy it.  I didn’t want to just leave it in a hotel room!

After lunch we drove to Orlando.  We checked into our hotel and then had dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango with some of my friends from a vendor the bank uses. I had a southwest chicken flatbread and some jalapeno mac and cheese.  It was so yummy and it was so good to see them!

Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

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Southwest Chicken Flatbread

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Chocolate Calzone

We stayed at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando.  It was a beautiful 4-star hotel that I’ve stayed at for work before.  We spent the last full day of our trip lounging by the pool.  It was such a good way to close out the trip.

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Pool at the Gaylord

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Caesar Salads poolside!

Our flight out on Tuesday was uneventful.  We were sad to be leaving, but very happy to be heading home to familiar territory 🙂

And that’s it!  It was a great trip that I will never forget!