While I have been canoeing before, even so far as to do a couple Outward Bound trips in the boundary waters between Minnesota and Canada, I’d never been kayaking before.  My Mom and Aunt Martha went the previous year and gave it two thumbs up, so we decided to go again.  I don’t exactly remember, but I think it cost us each about $50 for a 3 hour basically private tour.  It was our group of four, another couple from Michigan, and Andy our guide.

The weather was gorgeous – I slathered myself in so much sunscreen it wasn’t even funny – both the cream which was 35 spf and a spray over top of that!  I still got sunburned though – gah!  My hat saved my face though!  I hope that my cousin Karen and I are still willing to kayak at our Mom’s age of almost 75 (my Mom) and 70 (my Aunt).  I will say though that they are 74 1/2 and 69 1/2 respectively – they don’t actually turn 75 and 70 until the fall.

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We went over the initial safety issues – each kayak has life preservers, don’t touch things in the water unless the guide tells us it’s okay.  Um, turns out there are lots of jelly fish and Portuguese man o war that will ruin a perfectly good day if touched.  I couldn’t get over how crystal clear the water was, and how shallow it was – even way out away from the shore.

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We’d be paddling along, when all of a sudden Andy, our guide, would just reach in the water and pick something up – first up – a starfish!  I actually thought that a starfish died immediately after getting out of the water, but as long as you keep putting it back in the water often, it’s just fine.

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PicMonkey Collage - pic starfish

I loved the little coves that we went through – covered in trees and nice and cool.  The water was just so cool looking, I really wanted to jump in and just float!

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Andy then just reached into the water, and put something in a tupperware container to pass around – it was something called a lettuce slug.  It was all curled up in a ball, but once it was in the water a minute or so, it would just flatten out and you could see all the ripples of it – so cool.

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I am LOVING the camera that’s on the iPhone 6+, the only editing I’ve done to some of these pictures is to crop them, but that’s about it.   I also loved how close we got to the pelicans – there was this abandoned dingy in the middle of the water and a bunch of pelicans would just hang out there and eventually would fly off if we got too close – I love how this picture turned out.  Roz, I am trying to compete with all your nature pictures!

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I thought out tour was the perfect amount of time, however my Mom and Aunt said last year that they saw a lot more stuff – I guess it’s just hit or miss depending on the exact time of year.  My cousin will never kayak again – too much work in her opinion Open-mouthed smile

By the time we got back to the starting point, and then were driving home (best part of the tour – they picked you up and dropped you off!) we were really hungry.  Again we tried to have lunch at Blue Heaven, only to be told that the power was out on that side of the block, and once the power was restored, there would still be a 30 minute wait.  So we kept walking until we found a place that had power.  As luck would have it – it was a pizza place!  Only Wood Pizza was about half a block off of a tiny side street from Duval – I am actually not sure we would have known it was there if we didn’t see that there were people eating there. 

Well, as soon as I saw they had a charcuterie tray as an appetizer, I suggested we get that.  Only to find out after it was brought to the table that my cousin doesn’t really like cheese all that much.  WTF?!  I am not sure how we could be considered related!  I thought it was pretty good – I enjoyed the nutty hard Parmesans and the proscuitto.

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My cousin and I agreed on a four cheese pizza of all things – even though she’s not much of a cheese fan, only to discover that she really doesn’t like gorganzola, which I thought made the pizza – of course I had pepperoni on my side Open-mouthed smile

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Tony always told me he would build me a wood fired pizza oven for the backyard.  It’s still a dream of mine – someday!  I talked to the owner and they proof their dough for 24 hours before using it – it was really good – a bit of a crunch on the outside and bottom, but still with a bit of chew. 

We made it back to our place to relax for a bit, shower and change before dinner.  I think we only made reservations at one restaurant, the rest of the time we just kind of rolled the dice.  One of the places I read up on was a place called Louie’s Backyard.  While the downstairs was fine dining, the upstairs was smaller tapas type plates and wines by the glass.  But, the wait was going to be about 30 minutes, so we ditched that idea and just started driving around.  Next time I go back, I’ll definitely make reservations – check out the view!

louie's backyard

We ended up at a Mexican restaurant, and while the service was pretty slow because it looked to us like there was only one server for the whole restaurant, the food was actually really good.  My Aunt ordered fried plantains, which were so good, especially doused in hot sauce.

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Tomorrow will be my last recap of the trip – thanks for coming along on my vacation!

I have to mention that I made Courtney’s pork carnitas over the weekend, and holy balls was it good!   The only thing I did differently was to braise the pork in my Dutch oven at 300 degrees for 2 hours.  I removed the meat from the braising liquid and stored them separately on Saturday.  On Sunday, I was able to take off a good amount of fat from the braising liquid, then brought that back to a boil and just added the pork back into the liquid to warm up, then put the pork on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler so parts of the meat got nice and crispy.

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That pork shoulder weighed in just under six pounds, but it was bone in, so I had to pretend I was a butcher to get all the meat off of it.

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I did leave quite a bit of fat on the pork while braising though for flavor.  After you take it out of the oven for two hours, you’ll notice that the fat easily separates from the pork so I just threw it out after that point.

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I have to say that I had this pork yesterday for lunch, and I think it’s even better the longer it sits. 

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I ended up not going to the grocery store until after work yesterday – I may make that my new routine – hardly anyone was there.  I ended up picking up steaks for Jacob and I (or me and Jacob – I never get that right – Helen you’ll have to correct me).  Check out how cheap these steaks were!

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I made Hannah macaroni and cheese on the side, and sauteed zucchini, but the steak was definitely the star of the show.  Not sure what the seasonings were on it, but it had just a bit of spicy kick to it.   I need to invest in a new gas grill – even though there is still snow on the ground it was 45 degrees when I got home from work – nice!  My cast iron skillet did the trick though – these steaks were pretty thick, so I cooked them on high heat for 3 minutes a side for perfect medium rare.

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I haven’t put the fitbit app on my new phone yet, but even without an after work workout, I made it to 13,500 steps – woop!

This post is long enough as it is, but I’ll post the recipe for the flour tortillas I posted on Instagram over the weekend – Hannah and Jacob have eaten them all already, so I’ll have to make a new batch tonight to have on hand.  Hannah is working this morning so I have to get my shit together so I can stop by and get some coffee – I am having leftover steak and eggs for breakfast this morning – but at Pepper Park it’s two punch Tuesday – after ten punches you get a free drink!  I love free shit.

Make it a great day!