Sunday, November 6, 2011

MIAMI- The Food

I love experiencing and trying new things!  While I was in Miami I decided that I wanted to try some new food!  Here are the things I can now check off my list:

Frog Legs- (the first picture is of me holding a frog leg) I have always heard that frog legs tasted like chicken.  Well, they do in fact.  They were good, until I got down to the bone.  After I ate the meat off enough that I could actually grasp the bone I noticed that the bone was EXTREMELY sticky.  I don't even know how to explain the stickiness of these bones.  It was worse then any glue that I have spilt on my fingers.  It was so sticky that I couldn't even wash it off with an ice cube.  It kind of grossed me out enough that I didn't want to eat very many.  All-in-all, frog legs get an "eh" rating

Stone Crab- I have had crab before and love crab but have never had stone crab or heard of it, that I know of.  I'm not sure if it is endemic to the florida area but it supposedly is only in season for a few months.  We got there the week the season started!  You crab connoisseurs may know this but when you order stone crab they only bring out the front claws.  However, those front claws are enormous!  The shell is also the thickest shell I have ever seen and is probably why the claws came pre-cracked.  They also served it cold which was a new crab experience, one that I liked!  All-in-all, I loved stone crab!  Probably my favorite crab now!

Cuban Food- There are a ton of Cubans in florida and thus a ton of Cuban food places.  The Cuban food was REALLY good, however, I made the mistake of ordering french fries instead of the rice.  After ordering the fries my waitress (probably a pure cuban) paused, looked at me, and with attitude said "you want fries?"  It kind of caught me off guard but said yyyyees.  "Your at a cuban restaurant and you want fries instead of rice?"  I wanted to bring up the point that they WERE on the menu.  Perhaps she knew that we were trying to get the "cuban experience" and was just trying to encourage me to get the rice.  Either way I stayed with my fries but feared that my waitress was going to put in an order of "special fries", if you catch my drift =}  When the fries came out I gave them a careful look over, and for the record, they were probably some of the best fries that I have ever had!!

Alligator- Being in florida, gator land, I figured I HAD to try some alligator!  Another item you always hear tastes like chicken.  Again, I would agree that it does taste like chicken, however a chewy chicken.  It came as deep fried gator nuggets.  They were good though!  Perhaps McDonalds should look into switching over =)  And no, this is not a picture of the gator I ate.  It wasn't like red lobster where you can go pick out the lobster you want from the tank.

Don Shula's- This last one was not an exotic place but more of the experience.  My friend who I went down there with, as I mentioned before, is a big miami dolphins fan.  WEll, Don Shula is a famous coach in dolphins history.  He apparently has a steak house in miami built around his dolphins.  Jeff really wanted to go and since I love steak I agreed.  Since it was built around a football team we were thinking that it was going to be like a sports bar type of thing.  Oh man were we wrong.  My first clue came when we were driving to find the place and we realized that it was located inside of a hotel.  Locations inside of hotels are never good, price-wise that is.  My second clue came when were trying to find a place to park.  There were NO parking places anywhere.  It wasn't really that all of the spots were full, there just weren't any.  We noticed that there was a valet so we asked them where the parking was and they informed us that the valet was the only way to park.  But they insured us not to worry because the valet parking for Shula's was complementary.  Oh yeah right, don't worry!  I started sweating bullets.  When we finally made our way into the restaurant the lights were dimly lit and everyone inside of the restaurant were dressed all fancy sipping wine.  We were wearing jeans, however, with somewhat nice button down shirts.  Nonetheless I still felt WAY under dressed.  The menu was then handed to us on an autographed, handpainted football.  There were no prices and my next big clue was when they brought around a cart with the differing meats on them.  They explained each of the meats and then we picked which we wanted.  Everything was a la cart which meant things started adding up if we wanted anything beside the meat.  The place looked so fancy and I felt so out of place that I was afraid to order "pop" thinking that they might correct me and say "do you mean a chilled, treacle, carbonated beverage?"  I honestly, for the first time in my life, felt like white trash.  It didn't help that after the waiter brought us bread, I looked up and Jeff had butter hanging off of his nose =]  Yeah, we fit right in!!  I guess I thought the first time that I would go to a fancy restaurant like that it would be on a date and not with Jeff.  Oh well, it was still quite the experience!!

I was reminded by Kelly and Mom that I did not include what the Shula experience cost me.  I was planning on doing that, I just forgot.  What we ordered: 2 steaks, 1 side of mashed potatoes, and jeff got a caesars salad.  Take a guess what you think the price would be... It actually did turn out to be less than I thought it was going to be.... Oh, as you are taking a guess on the price, I forgot to mention that almost every time that someone (waiter, hostess, manager, whoever) came by the table they keep asking us if we wanted any wine.  The first time that they asked we explained that we don't drink but they kept asking, and asking, and asking.  As we kept refusing they actually seemed like they were getting upset that we wouldn't order any.  Oh well.
Perhaps it doesn't sound like much to you guys but the total came out to be about $150.  I thought it was insane, but I was expecting around $200.  It was probably the water that we ordered that sent it over the top...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

MIAMI- The Adventure

The first thing that I want you guys to know from this blog post is that I am trying to singlehandedly (with your help =) put out of business.  If you take ANYTHING away from this post, please NEVER use Priceline again.  I want to destroy them!!!  Yes, this may sound a little sadistic but I have had enough of them.  Yes, I am angry and yes, I apparently hold grudges so I am going to get this off of my chest and complain in this post!  Let me begin by going back a few months...

When I was in North Dakota this summer I had to book hotels several times as I traveled across the state.  I often had to book them on my own credit card and get reimbursed later, which didn't bother me.  I tried my best to find the cheapest hotels so I could save grant money for continued use later (like I just did to go back out to ND this past weekend.  But anyways, I digress).  I have always seen these obnoxious commercials on TV with William Shatner for priceline.  For some reason I thought I would give them a try.  So I booked a hotel and priceline took the money right out of my account.  When I checked out of the hotel I noticed that the hotel charged me for the stay as well.  After SEVERAL phone calls, to both the hotel and priceline, I discovered that priceline never sent the hotel the money after I booked my stay.  My bank filed a credit dispute with priceline and were able to refund my account but it took a while.  
Around the same time that I booked that hotel stay I also booked my Miami trip.  I used priceline because at the time I did not realize the headache that was ahead of me.  I booked a hotel, flight, and rental car all through priceline.  Let the adventure of my Miami trip begin...

I booked my flight out to Miami for a thursday night after my last class.  I planed my flight to be at the airport about an hour and a half before the flight left.  I was going to hit the road right after my comparative anatomy lab.  Of course, that day happened to be the longest lab of the entire semester so I got started a little late.  After I made it onto the road I of course hit some of the worst traffic ever and the weather was horrible.  My hour and a half window quickly was fading away.  By the time I got to the airport and found a place to park I had about 40 minutes before my flight left.  I parked in the extended lot and so I tried waiting for a shuttle to come get me and take to to the terminal.  As I was trying to find a parking spot I saw 3-4 shuttles driving around the lot but as I was waiting there were none in sight.  After about 10 minutes of not seeing a shuttle I decided that I just needed to run for it so I booked it!  I made it to the ticket check in with about 10 to spare, obviously not enough time.  Apparently the ticket agent people had just left and they stop checking people in 20 minutes before the flight.  I MISSED MY FLIGHT!!  So with no agent to talk to about getting on the next available flight I had to call the airline.  They said that since I booked the flight through pricleline they were not allowed to put me on the next flight =[  So after many more phone calls I realized that I had to buy a one way ticket on the next flight to miami.  So in the end I had to buy 2 tickets.  The one-way ticket cost as much as my round trip.  Oh well, it was my fault for not giving myself enough time to get to the airport.  That was the flight.

My friend Jeff made his flight so as I was sitting in Pittsburgh waiting for my flight the next morning, he was in Miami trying to pick up our rental car.  Well, the rental car company that priceline used to book our car apparently ran out of cars...  Even with a confirmation number ...  True, part of the blame rests with Payless (the rental car company) but priceline guaranteed us a car and they need to be responsible for the companies that they do business with.  Since we had no car, Jeff had to take a cab to the hotel and the next morning the concierge helped him actually get a car.  Again, since priceline guaranteed us a car, I called them and asked if they would cover any extra charges that we had to pay that was more than what we had originally agreed with priceline for.  They said, "oh no, we can't do that.  The best we can do is cancel your reservation."  Are you kidding me?  I think my reservation was canceled when they ran out of cars!!  So the bottom line, the policy that priceline obviously stands for is "If you, the costumer, screws up, you get screwed.  If we, priceline, screw up, the costumer still gets screwed!"

The most recent incident with priceline is with a receipt.  As mentioned earlier I booked a flight to go out to ND through priceline (again, before I realized how horrible they are).  I did it on my own card again and am planning to submit my receipt to get refunded.  After booking my flight priceline sent me several emails with my itinerary and a summary of the charges they made.  However, they only sent me a "summary" of charges.  None of the emails were an actual receipt, proof that my card was charged.  The school obviously needs that proof that it was my card that they charged before they refund me the money.  So I called priceline and explained what I was looking for.  They said they would send me an email with a receipt.  The email came and it was the same thing I already had, the summary.  I tried emailing the costumer service department and explained that I needed an ACTUAL receipt and they emailed me the stupid summary again.  I called back and finally got a hold of someone who said that they can not give me an actual receipt, they can only provide the "summary".  I asked if they had a record/document of them taking the money out of my account, they said yes, of course.  So I said, great!  Send me a copy of that document.  Oh, no, they can't do that.  AAAHHHHHHH......

Anyways, here are a few pictures of the hotel we stayed at in Miami.  It had a great view and was right by the beach!  The hotel was really nice, 4 stars I believe, but as it turns out I prefer the not super nice hotels.  Something like Hampton Inn.  Really nice hotels rip you off.  They charge you for internet, they charge you $12 for a belgium waffle that you can make for free at other hotels, and as it turns out, they charge you $20 a night to park.  But again, the view was really nice!

Ok, I believe that my complaining is out of the way.  My next posts will be about the activities and food of Miami!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MIAMI- The Main Event

This past weekend I headed down to Miami for a little vacation.  It was QUITE the adventure, but I'll get to that in my next couple posts.  I figured I would start with the main reason that I went down there, to see my Denver Broncos play the miami dolphins.  Most of you probably wont find this interesting but...  Years ago my friend Jeff and I said that the next time that our teams play each other (he is a huge dolphins fan) we would go to the game.  It just so happened that it was this year in Miami.  We made plans months ago and the time finally came!  

It also happened to be the game that Tim Tebow (probably the most controversial quarterback in the NFL right now) started for the first time this season.  I couldn't stand him in college for some reason.  Don't ask me why, I have no idea, I just didn't.  So when Josh McDaniel (the man who singlehandedly set our team back 5 years by trading away all of our talent for nothing.  In my opinion, the devil to the Broncos organization.)  traded up in the draft to draft Tim Tebow in the first round last year, I found myself forced to begin liking him.  I've been coming around and the LAST 5 minutes of Sundays game definitely helped.  However, during warmups Tebow did not look good at all.  Kyle Orton look MUCH better.  Tebow played like crap in the first 3 3/4 of the game but definitely stepped it up when it counted. The game went from being one of the worst games I have ever seen to probably one of the best, most exciting games I have ever seen.  And to top it off, WE WON!!!  As Aunt Laurie said, it is safe to say that my curse is over!!  

The game was SOOOO hot.  I was completely soaked with sweat by the end of the first quarter and got extremely sun burnt, but , it was worth it!  There was a dolphins fan that sat next to me who kept chanting "suck for luck" because he wants the dolphins to just tank the rest of their season so they can draft Andrew Luck in the draft.  He was a nice guy, we talked through the whole game and he was giving me high fives during our comeback.  It was pretty funny.  The rest of the stadium chanted "Tebow Sucks" several times throughout the game, which was interesting since they erupted in cheers for him when he went onto the field for the first time (florida is Tebow land since he played college ball at florida university).  Probably half the jerseys worn in the stadium were Tebow jerseys.  Half way through the fourth quarter probably half the stadium started leaving and then when Tebow started bringing us back the crowd, that was left, started chanting "Tebow, Tebow, Tebow!!"  Hypocrites!  Kelly quoted Tebow in one of her posts so I thought I would share one that I liked as I was reading a recap of the game.  "You can't lose confidence in yourself, or you've lost already." 

Pregame.  Our kickers.  Prater, who is the place kicker killed me this week in fantasy football when he missed his first 2 attempts during the game.

Tebow Warming up

Orton warming up

Dolphins cheerleaders.  I know how much mom likes cheerleaders so I thought SHE might enjoy the pictures of the cheerleaders  =]

Von Miller.  Our first round draft pick from this year.  A GREAT addition to the team.  Perhaps the defensive rookie of the year!!

Champ!  Future hall of famer and the jersey that I have and wore to the game

'Jan Levinson' from 'The Office' sang then national anthem.  I thought you office fans might appreciate these!

The captains

Dumervil, one of my favorite players!

Tebows first huddle. 

Orton (who I like) and Brady Quinn (who was one of the disasters from josh mcdaniels.  He traded Peyton Hillis who is now one of the NFL's best running backs to get Quinn who is a third string QB)

Jeff and Me after the game!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jali Videos

Well, in the last couple times that I spent with Jali, along with the hundreds of pictures I took, I took a bunch of videos.  Not sure if you guys would enjoy these or not but I sure do so I thought I would post a couple of them =)  I wish we had taken more videos from when she was younger and full of energy.  Like when TJ and I were out back with Cooper (Kelly's rabbit) outside of her cage and mom let Jali out the back door.  That was a chaotic moment.  Probably the fastest I have ever seen Jali move.

Towards the end of her life Jali became a con artist!  She learned that ever time she went outside she would get a treat.  I have a feeling she exploited me the most with that.  Like I mentioned earlier, I was a sucker for spoiling her and giving her treats.

These next 3 were actually one longer one but I broke them down because it wouldn't load.  I loved the way she ate!  She would always have a wet beard after drinking and would smear it all over me.  She is the only girl I will ever love with a beard :}

Just a couple more pictures.  I controlled my self from adding 80 more =}

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jalapeno Peper

Well, I've been wanting to to a post on my beloved dog, Jalapeno (Jali) Peper, for a while now but it has been a little hard for me to actually sit down and do it.  I miss my dog so much that it still makes my heart ache to think that she will not be home the next time I go back to Indiana.  I'll miss kissing her cheeks and spoiling her!  I had a tendency of giving her a few extra treats or saving her a good piece of steak from dinner :)  She really liked that!  We would spend hours together when I was home.  She would always sit on my chest as I watched tv or took a nap!  She was the love of my life!

I'm not the biggest fan of 'cliches' but Jali truly was this mans best friend! =)  I don't know who all knows this but except for the second half of my senior year I really didn't enjoy high school.  I was EXTREMELY shy back then and didn't seem to fit in anywhere.  I didn't really have any 'good' friends.  Because of that I spent almost every friday night at home in front of the tv or something.   Well, Jali always had a way of finding her way onto my lap whenever I was feeling down or lonely and she always picked my spirits up!!

She was with our family for nearly 16 years!  We got her on TJ's 10th birthday (22 Dec. 1995) and then she was put to rest on 4 Aug. 2011.  Though I know it was hard for dad to do, I am truly grateful that he was able to do it and do it at home where she was comfortable.

After we moved to Indiana, Jali made a special friend with Ann who worked with Dad.  Ann also worked at the kennel that Jali would stay at if mom and dad were out of town.  Ann, and her daughter, took great care of Jali and even spoiled her!  She was just such a lovable dog!

Well, I have A TON of pictures because I was ALWAYS taking picture of her and with her.  These are just a few of them.  (As I have mentioned before, I HATE this blogger thing and can not figure out how to easily move pictures around and stuff.  Because of that they are all down in a straight line so it will be a LONG post.  Sorry)

 She looks pretty small so I'm guessing this was shortly after we got her.
 TJ and me with Jali
 The 5 little Pepers and Jali
 Missing Lynny
 With the Dad

I love these next two pictures.  Brynn and Jali just not quite sure of each other =)
At Kellys.  Kelly wanted me to go visit her but I couldn't leave Jali (mom and dad were out of town) so she let me bring her along!!
 I love how Jali and Dylan are looking at each other!

 With Dad
 The last few months I would find Jali in some funny sleeping positions.
 The cutest dog ever!
 Like I said, the cutest dog ever! =]
 She wasn't the biggest fan of loud noises.  Here she is hiding after the smoke alarm went off.

 I love this picture of her with Dylan!

 She spent many hours trying to escape from the madness of the little kids during our family get-togethers.

 This was one of the times she wasn't feeling well.
 Looks like TJ's birthday
 Another funny position
 And another
 and another
 and another
 This was after she was attacked by our neighbors dog.  The neighbors dog was lucky I was away at school.

 Did I mention she was the cutest dog!

 Another funny position

 I think this one is funny because she looks guilty of something

 People always think that I put her on that pillow but in reality I left it on the floor and she ended up finding it and made herself comfortable.  Such a spoiled dog!

 On mom and dads bed

 Our classic position

 Back when she was young, playing with TJ

 I'll always remember this.  I had just gotten back from scout camp that day and was exhausted so I crashed on the couch, surprisingly without Jali on me.  When I woke up there she was sleeping on my face.  I actually woke up because she had worked herself in so tight next to me that she was making it a little hard to breath (I think her paws were across my throat).  Totally worth it =}
 With Dad

 Katy and Jack

 If I remember correctly this was the morning Lynny left for College
I LOVE this picture of mom and Jali
 The day I got back from my mission.  I remember dad wanted to run an experiment when I got back and he had me stand on the driveway (I believe next to him) and then someone put her down on the driveway to see who she would go to.  After 2 years, she went straight to me!!
 TJ showing Jali where I was on my mission

 Very Young Jali
 With Katy
 With Kelly

I love this picture but can't find the original so it is pore quality
When I was allowed or when I could sneak her away, this is how  she  would sleep with me!