Kicking off Summer: Boats and Airplanes

Don’t think I went bon voyage too long, although I recently went on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Key West, Cozumel and Cococay, Bahamas (RC’s private island).  Of course it wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the decadence on the high seas.

Day One:

We set sail from Fort Lauderdale making our first stop at the beautiful Key West (a.k.a. Cayo Hueso) and took the historic Conch Tour Train, seeing fascinating homes including that of Ernest Hemingway, the winter White House of Harry S. Truman and that of playwright Tennessee Williams.  It’s no wonder these historical icons spent their time here – three words – KEY LIME PIE.  In fact, one menu I read provided the description of key lime pie as, “the reason Ernest Hemingway got so fat.”  The  Blond Giraffe (412 Greene Street) served up just the right one for us complete with meringue on our way back to the ship. (Unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture due to the sweltering heat and pie that needed to be eaten in under 5 minutes before it melted).

Back on the ship for dinner, I enjoyed a very spicy tortilla soup, pasta with wild mushrooms and truffle oil, followed by a scoop of butter almond ice cream and a taste of the strawberry meringue my parents ordered:

Tortilla soup

Pasta with wild mushrooms and truffle oil

Butter almond ice cream

Strawberry meringue

Day Two:

Cozumel, Mexico. A.k.a. “Island of The Swallows”, it is one of my favorite destinations thanks to the beautiful blue waters, less touristy feel and variety of water-friendly activities from snorkeling to parasailing. I even got my mom on a segway – what an adventure!  I had also never been on a segway, but boy was it fun and easy.  The excursion was perfectly complemented with a snorkel in the Caribbean Sea as the temps were scorching. 

And you can’t come to Mexico and not sample true Mexican cuisine, so we found ourselves at a local favorite, La Mission (Adolfo Rosado Salas entre calle 5 y avenida Rafael E. Melgas).  What’s not to love about a restaurant that’s adorned with a large fish hanging from its sign, marimba players, fresh guacamole, pico de gallo and complimentary chicken soup delivered to your table?  I also had the combination to try a bit of everything from enchiladas to quesadillas and chile relleno.

La Mission

La Mission

Guac at La Mission

Combinacion at La Mission

After a day of fun and sun and Mexican cuisine, the evening’s dinner was really not needed, but I opted for two appetizers (hey, who’s counting!) including the shrimp cocktail and escargot and enjoyed the lobster ravioli and chocolate souffle for dessert.

Shrimp cocktail


Lobster ravioli

Chocolate souffle

Day Three:

At sea. These days are great for just doing whatever floats your boat (hey, I couldn’t resist).  Between laying out in the beach chair by the pool to going to the gym, a scrapbooking class and enjoying the evening show, I couldn’t wait for dinner.  Tonight’s was a true Italian feast complete with scallop risotto, eggplant parmesan and a few desserts. I couldn’t decide between the warm chocolate cake, raspberry panna cotta and tiramisu, so I ordered all three and tasted each.

Scallop risotto

Eggplant parmesan

Raspberry panna cotta


Warm chocolate cake

Day Four:

Cococay, Bahamas – Royal Caribbean’s private island as I mentioned earlier. Really, this picture sums up about what I did all afternoon after snorkeling to the site of a sunken airplane and being surrounded by a school of fish – amazing!

This evening’s dinner was the treat – lobster tail! I also enjoyed a mushroom puff pastry and a dessert sampler with rum cake, chocolate cake and passion fruit cheesecake.

Lobster tail

Mushroom puff pastry

Dessert sampler

After the cruise, we stayed with my aunt, uncle and cousin and enjoyed a local Floridian joint, Manny’s Chop House, (210 State Road 60 W in Lake Wales), “guaranteed, the best steak in town.”  They’re not joking. People lined up out the door and I enjoyed happy hour, filet mignon, wings, coconut shrimp and cheese fries (yep).

Manny's Chop House


Wings at Manny's Chop House

Filet mignon at Manny's Chop House

After departing Florida, I flew back to Ohio to stay with my parents for a few days and throw dad a happy 60th.  Mom found a great venue, The Champaign Aviation Musuem,  (Grimes Field, Urbana, OH). The museum’s mission is to restore and preseve historical aircraft “specifically but not limited to World War II.”  Dad flies his own plane and loves aviation so it was the perfect spot.  We decorated the place and had people chow down on sloppy joe’s, shredded chicken sandwiches, chips and cake. Dad had a blast!

Champaign Aviation Museum

Champaign Aviation Museum


Shredded chicken and sloppy joes



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