With all of this crazy, snowy weather occurring here in the South I thought that not only would it be appropriate to write a blog to discuss the BEST snow locations, but that it would be appropriate to write about my home stomping ground. So, take out the notepads folks because I'm about to tell you the top places to head in RALEIGH, NC when frosty begins to make his presence.
Last year was my first Raleigh in the snow experience. I wasn't sure what to expect. I just figured I would stay inside and make the most out of my movie collection. I was VERY wrong! A group of us decided we would take off and explore. There's plenty to explore too!
We started our adventure by checking out Avent Ferry Rd. which is normally covered with cars. On this particular day we walked in the middle like it was a sidewalk. The only thing covering this usually busy road was snow!
Then, after treking across NC State's campus to explore, we took off to Pullen park. What is normally a lively, family filled atmosphere was a white wonderland. We met up with some folks who had sleds and took off down some of the hills that Pullen park offers. These hills only prepared us for the ones to follow. Below are some pictures that show this neat little adventure.
The real excitement came after Pullen. We saw a pile of cars heading towards a hidden treasure in Raleigh and decided we would follow. I won't dive too far into discussing Dorothea Dix in Raleigh, NC because I will use that for an individual post (YES! It's individual post worthy), but I will say, as it appears relevant right now, that it has THE BEST sledding in all of Raleigh! Feel free to test it out for yourself.
The hills of this gorgeous park were packed! Lined with cars and adventurous souls ready to slide on this slick white fluff. Not only were there folks on sleds of all kinds (yes, even cardboard boxes, and street signs), but there were people with skis and snowboards taking on the hill as well. It really was the neatest part of that snow day.
So, this year as the snow began to fall, we decided once again to venture out to Dorothea Dix. Yes, it was just mesmerizing! And, the neat thing about this park is that once you're finished sledding, skiing and/or snowboarding, you can always get your snow hiking boots and take on the wilderness land that it offers.
There really is just SO many options to participate in at Dorothea, and around Raleigh in the snow in general. Once you have finished going to the places I have listed above, you can head on over to Cameron Village to grab some grub. The Village Draft house was our choice for a snow day and it didn't fail to satisfy!
I have been excited about writing this post since I visited this place over the weekend! It climbed it's way to the top of my favorite places lists in just ONE night!
We met a friend for dinner at this John's Island gem this weekend and I have wanted to have dinner there ever since! Our waitress greeted us by explaining that EVERYTHING is made IN HOUSE! I mean EVERYTHING! The waitress also treated us like we had all been best friends for years. I questioned throughout the whole dinner whether or not our friend knew our waitress prior. It really was just that kind of place! You entered wondering what you were going to get and you left feeling like family having so much Italian satisfaction you might just burst!
The pasta was homemade, every single strand. The meat was fresh, the vegetables were fresh, and the sauce was made in house. It was very apparent! From the first bite until the last I kept wanting to go back for more. I felt the EXACT same way when I tried a bite of everyone else's food on the table. DE..LIC..IOUS does NOT even begin to describe it! Aside from the amazing food, the menu also listed an extensive selection of Italian wines and the dessert menu was impossible to choose from. Everything looked exquisite! The dessert menu was also complete with a list of lovely dessert wines and/or coffee. Delightfulness just took over that food list!
Aside from the beyond amazing food (if we can really go beyond that), the restaurant decor was spectacular. Every little aspect was personalized. Everything from the wine rack that filled one wall, the shelves complete with homemade specialties, the wooden beamed ceiling that was complete with lights strung throughout, and the chandelier hanging from the tree outside. It was extremely unique. The type of restaurant that you come into feeling welcome and desiring to stay for hours.
Wild Olive is the PERFECT place for that special occasion, family reunion, girls night out, family dinner, etc. If you are EVER in Charleston it is completely worth the drive to trek across those bridges into John's Island to make yourself into this little masterpiece.
While visiting Charleston recently with some friends we suggested going to eat breakfast at Sweetwater Cafe. We had visited the one on James Island before and fell in love with its breakfast. It was a neat surprise when we ended up at the Sweetwater Cafe on Market Street in downtown Charleston.
There wasn't too much difference as far as food quality. Still your typical diner breakfast. Tasty, reasonably priced, and satisfying. The omelet was wonderful and I partnered it with a nice hot cup of Joe and some hashbrowns. Also very good! The hubs got the stacker breakfast which was complete with pancakes, meats, and eggs. Also very good!
I had to really write this post in order to set the record straight. There are TWO Sweetwaters! You can't go wrong! It's wonderful! One is located on James and the one we discovered this weekend thanks to a good friend is downtown across from the Charleston Place Hotel. The atmosphere is very neat and it's conveniently located across from the Market and beside a good coffee shop. Double win! Eat, Drink and Shop!
So, as I have stated before.... Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Go get you some!
The more I blog the more comfortable I am becoming with the simplicity of letting the pictures do the talking. I feel they do the best speaking anyways.
This weekend the Hubs and I were in Charleston. This isn't the first time we have visited this charm. In fact, this was just one of many times. We try and go as often as possible. It really is just a rare gem that we have fallen in love with over the years.
This particular trip it dawned on me that although I have been to the Low country so many times before I still find myself pulling out the camera, being that tourist and snapping photos. At first I felt somewhat embarrassed, but then it made me smile at the realization that one of the reasons I have fallen in love with Charleston over and over is for this very reason. There's ALWAYS something more to see. Something extra to remember, a rarity that needs to be captured.
So, while we were walking the quaint historic streets, driving the beautiful back roads and tracking through the sands of its beaches, I was privileged once again to gain access to some really special hidden wonders.
It's funny really because while so many of us are occupied with taking in a conversation or an experience the world around is still moving and developing. We are often so busy trying to get to our destination, or so busy with other distractions that we forget to notice what's around us on the journey.
These photos echo that type of experience. While we were heading to specific destinations (many which we had been to a thousand times before), these moments made their presence and I thought it would be nice to share them with you. If anything, just as a reminder to stop and smell the roses (literally if need be) every once in a while.
Recently a similar conversation has been coming up in our household. The topic is no stranger to many. Especially those thinkers out there. You know who you are!
I must admit I have always been one of those thinkers. Since I can remember I have been thinking about EVERYTHING! I don't mean just thinking about things that are right in front of me or the topics that are directly embracing my attention at a particular moment. I mean thinking, dreaming, planning, analyzing, scheming, reflecting, the list could really go on but I'm sure you get the gist. Imagine the surprise of those that know me best when I married a "thinker" as well (no surprise really). So, together, happily married, us thinkers over here have found ourselves coming back to one specific topic. THE PLAN!
Along with thinking, a very correlated skill I embrace is planning. It probably comes as no surprise that I am also a VERY large advocate of planning. I mean let's be honest, I already have a rough plan of where I will be, what I will be doing, etc. in ten years from now. Or so I think. I'm also very aware that my plan will not turn out that way. As you continue to read I hope you begin to see why this is nothing that concerns me.
Planning is always good. I mean no discouragement from this post at all. I was always told that it's wise to have a plan even if just a tiny one. But, where I'm really going with this particular post is the question of who's plan are we actually following and which one is better? (Should I continue or is it really a no brainer?)
You see I, like most, have no concept of what the world beyond ours is like. I cannot humanly grasp or envision what Heaven will be like because I've haven't experienced it yet! I do have faith from reading about it in the Bible that it will be greater and sweeter than anything we could ever experience here on earth. I think of the plans I make for myself in a similar manner. So often do I find myself scheming up these grand, marvelous plans for myself and my life only to turn around and find that they NEVER work out the exact way I envisioned. I used to be completely annoyed by this and it only took SO many times of feeling helpless after another failed plan to realize that I was relying on myself and my earthly abilities to get me through. Well, instead of planning I should have been praying!
Proverbs 19: 21 states ~ "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
This is so comforting! Is it not? Living in such a fast passed, competitive society, we are constantly altering and making plans that fit what's hot and happening in our mind at a specific time. But what is so relieving and beautiful is that God already knows our plans before we do. He already has a purpose and a path and a goal for us that if we just give our faith and trust in him he will provide a way.
You see, recently I have been reflecting on things that have happened just this year.
A year ago I was convinced that I had my plans made. I would be living in a specific town, married, working my dream job, living the life that I had created for myself and it was going to be PERFECT!
Turns out, I didn't end up in the city that I envisioned myself in. I did get married, and I have a fantastic job but the point is, while I didn't end up where I wanted to be, God knew where I needed to be. There have been many things that have happened this year that I needed to be here for. If I had not, I would have been wishing I was. God knew this even before I could have.
It's so difficult to put our trust somewhere other than ourselves. Especially when it deals with big decisions. Job changes, moves, family choices, etc. It's tough and we are all human. However, God promises a life better than we could have imagined if we put our faith and trust in him. That doesn't mean it won't be challenging at times. He also promises that as well. However, he promises to direct our paths and show us a way and bring us into the light, if we let him. So, tonight, as your resting easy or making those lists in your mind, thinking, dreaming, scheming, planning, etc. just stop! PRAY instead. Pray for direction, an open heart and for guidance. HE LISTENS!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Josh and I traveled to the city that never sleeps in October for our Fall trip. When we chose New York City we based our decision around the fact we had never been there, we both were dying to experience the non-stop craziness of this amazing city, and the temperature would be acceptable. Being from North Carolina, I'm not sure we could handle the cold of the city in the middle of winter.
What we should have put into the bucket for making our decision was the food! If we had just said we were going to the city with great food there would have never been any questions about where we were going to travel. This is why my next three post on NYC deal with food. (We like to eat :) )
Our first, by far the BEST place that we ate in New York was a pizzeria, with a long line and a lasting impression right on Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn. We had read a lot of reviews about where to go in New York City to get the best New York style pizza and every single one of them pointed us in the direction of JULIANA'S. We took the subway to Brooklyn and walked around the water front streets before heading over to experience the pizza of a lifetime.
When we got to Old Fulton street there were two lines. One led to a pizzeria on a corner, larger building and the other led to a smaller building right beside the other one. Come to find out, Juliana's used to be located in the larger, corner building but when the owners retired they sold this location. When they realized they missed creating the best pizza in the world and that retirement was for the birds, they bought the location next door to create their pizzeria. This is important to remember! Don't go giving your business to the wrong pizzeria! You will be disappointed!!!
It wasn't just the pizza that made the difference in our experience with Juliana's. It was the atmosphere, the people and the friendliness that warmed our souls. The owner himself greeted us when we walked in. The restaurant was so packed (always a good sign) that there wasn't a table available. We said that was fine because there were tables outside down the street that overlooked the water. We got our pizza to go. As if this was unacceptable, the owner offered us coffee, carried on a complete conversation with us and sincerely made us feel like family by the time we left.
The kitchen is completely open so we stood to the side watching the art of their pizza making techniques. Josh and I have tried imitating their strategies at home a number of times. It never tastes the same. I guess we will just have to return to Juliana's in order to fill our future pizza voids.
Our experience with Juliana's was so unique and satisfying! Our pizza was so tasty that it turned our evening into a romantic event. I recommend taking your pizza to go. Sit on one of the picnic tables near the water. Watch the sunset, enjoy people watching and then to work some of that dough off, walk back across the Brooklyn bridge to view the lights of the city. It's really an incredible experience that anyone can have!
A few more images from our trip into Brooklyn
During our week long adventure to the beautiful Costa Rica we had the privilege of staying in a gated community on Playa Grande thanks to the recommendations of some friends who had gone before. Not only was staying on Playa Grande the BEST decision ever, but Playa Grande may be one of the BEST places on earth in general. We loved every moment of our relaxing stay on this quaint, quiet beach.
It was so neat, during the day you would be on the beach and be the ONLY person for as far as you could see. At sunset, you would be surrounded by the whole community ready to embrace the awe of the sunset. It truly was paradise and Josh and I were extremely sad when it came time to say our goodbyes.
Upon saying our goodbyes to the neighbors, beach, and shells, one particular goodbye we had to make sure to embrace was this lovely place shown above. Wil*Mart! Now, I know what you're thinking "Silly, you have just misspelled Wal*Mart. We have those here in the U.S." No! No! No! Completely, uniquely different!
Wil*Mart, owned by a man named Wilburt, was the tiny convenient grocery on the beach. It was just large enough to hold all the household necessities and wants and attached was a magnificent restaurant/bar. We stopped by on our first day there to pick up a few things and ended up going back daily just to pick up some more things, make reservations, say hello to Wilburt and feel like a local (even though we of course were not).
If you ever go to Costa Rica not only do I recommend staying on Playa Grande and experiencing it's remote beauty, but I definitely recommend checking in with Wil*Mart, eating at their restaurant (make sure to check out their Jazz/Reggae nights & the Mahi-Mahi), and enjoying the quaintness of what this paradise and it's people have to offer.
Recently, Josh and I took the trip of a lifetime. Actually, we were blessed enough to have experienced the trip of a lifetime! With the help of some family friends and a few wonderful Costa Rica connections we were able to board a plane in the midst of a chilly North Carolina winter and head to the beautiful, perfectly weathered Costa Rica!
This post is primarily going to be pictures. Which is probably better than my rambling anyways. Before we visited Costa Rica a few friends that we knew had visited before told us we just HAD to go horse back riding while there. This seemed out of reach for us beforehand but with the connection from a few wonderful family friends we were actually able to saddle up and hit the trails to experience this beautiful country for the majestic landscape that it really has to offer.
These photos provide a glimpse into our ride. I felt almost selfish being able to experience such perfection and breath taking moments so, I figured I would share them with you guys! Now, you too can experience the peaceful, rare opportunity of what horseback riding on a ranch in Costa Rica really is like! Enjoy!! :)
And this day will, forever, go down into the books as one of the BEST days of all time!
~Horseback riding in Costa Rica~
We are the Bests! Jo and Mo. Founders of BestCapturedTravel.
We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Cambridge, MA but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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