A Jewel In Our Midst.. Trigo Deli

trigo deli1 A Jewel In Our Midst.. Trigo Deli

Trigo Deli:119 Harrison Avenue

Lucas and I love to travel! One of our favorite things about exploring a new place is finding great food! We have become pretty hardcore foodies over the years and have a list of places that will bring us back to cities again and again.

We are proud to have a jewel from Panama City on our list of favorites! Trigo Deli, downtown on Harrison Avenue! Trigo is a San Franciscan style deli. It is one of the few places in Panama City that cater to “health conscious” people. From their spinach and tabouli salads to their fresh made soups, sandwiches, hummus and pastries, Trigo Deli will make you feel like the Golden Gate Bridge is right down the street!

Lake Tahoe: Enjoy the Beauty, Skip the Gambling

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Want to take a trip to Tahoe? We got the opportunity recently and jumped on it. For accomodations, we chose the very beautiful and well-manicured Squaw Valley Lodge. This hotel is known for being extremely clean and also for being one of the most ideal locations available in the North Lake Tahoe Region.

Not only are the rooms at the Lodge nice and well cared-for, but the hotel manages to keep their rates very reasonable. If you’re looking for your Tahoe hotel, Lucas and I highly recommend Squaw Valley. It’s an even better choice if you’re the type who doesn’t like to plan activities ahead of time; this hotel is close to a lot of activities that could suit  the most avid outdoor enthusiast.

The next day, we drove around the entire Lake. Although some Tahoe tourists spend their vacation time in the smoky  casinos, we always prefer to stay outdoors and explore in the daylight. Why would you want to stay inside with scenery like this?!

Tahoe has such a great story! Imagine this beautiful body of water discovered entirely by accident! Not only that, but the explorer who found Lake Tahoe actually challenged Mark Twain to write the proper words to describe its splendor.

You can go crazy on the lake with jet skis and other fun toys during the summer, but that doesn’t mean Tahoe isn’t a blast in winter too. Squaw Valley (a famed resort at Tahoe which we found out actually hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960), is known for its great skiing and snowboarding.

Even though it gets cold enough for lots and lots of snow, Lake Tahoe never freezes. Ever! This is because its water is constantly in motion. The cold water at the surface of the lake is circulated to the bottom, and the nice toasty warm water at the bottom flips up to the top. No freezing!

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I imagine it would be hard to go wrong with any vacation planning choices at Lake Tahoe. The locals are so kind and informative that you’ll be able to talk to one person and get all the info you need.

Our advice? Enjoy the surroundings! Summer, winter, whatever time of year it may be, Tahoe rocks.

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A Trip Recommended for All: Washington, D.C. and the National Mall

4901251035 8daa3f0fe1 A Trip Recommended for All: Washington, D.C. and the National Mall

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Recently in April, Lucas and I visited the nation’s capital. We had driven from New York and were on our way down to Miami.

Apparently we picked the perfect time, as our trip to D.C. coincided with the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The Festival lasts for two weeks and consists of many different events planned for each day: the Cherry Blast, a popular music and arts festival, the Sakora Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, the Lantern Lighting Ceremony, and the Fireworks Show are just a handful of Cherry Blossom activities. There are about 700,000 people that attend the festival every year!

Lucas and I did a tour of the infamous National Mall, which is basically mandatory tourist activity #1 if you visit D.C. The National Mall encompasses the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

We did not get to go all the way to the top of the Washington Monument, but I wish we had been able to! There are 896 steps which surround an elevator shaft; this makes it possible for visitors to go to the top observation area, where you can get a great view of the city.

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The Reflecting Pool was absolutely beautiful. I did not realize how long it stretches out; it just goes on forever! It is also much more narrow than I had imagined.

The Lincoln Memorial blew me away. It was wonderful to see, and much bigger in person than I had imagined.

It was awe-inspiring to pause and think of how many important speeches have been delivered right there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Although many are well-remembered, the most infamous speech given is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, considered by many to be the best speech of all time.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall was amazing to see in person. It is an unexplainable experience to see how many names are actually there. Visual proof of so many deaths from the War is shockingly gritty and heartbreaking.

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While at the Wall, Lucas and I got to hear a tour guide’s description of an infamous event called: The Rolling Thunder bikers’ parade.

Rolling Thunder bikers are all Vietnam vets, and California bikers kick off the tour by heading east. By the time the Thunder pack of vets has reached D.C., there are around 400,000 of them! They enter D.C. and circle the National Mall area. This kicks off Memorial Weekend each year.

Our last stop at the National Mall was the Capital. I got some great pics, including several of the veggie garden planted by President Obama and his family. I was surprised to see how many armed guards are lined up outside.

The D.C. trip is something that we cannot recommend enough; the patriotism and awe you feel make for an unforgettable experience.

Another Beautiful Summer Excursion: Yosemite!

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Lucas and I just visited California’s Yosemite National Park in August.  We spent two days in the park and enjoyed the beautiful nature the park has to offer.

During the day, the weather was warm and  predictable for summer at 90 degrees or so. Our cozy little cabin at Curry Village was not equipped with air conditioning, but to our pleasant surprise it was not needed at night. The evening  temperature stayed at around 60 degrees. With the cabin windows open, we stayed comfortable and cool.

The cabin itself was very nice, giving us two beds and a private bathroom.

Our first evening inside the park, we watched the sunset on Half Dome, Yosemite’s famed mountain attraction. This was an absolutely breathtaking sight.

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Half Dome got its name for obvious reasons; it looks as though a giant knife came down from the sky and sliced it neatly in half.

It’s a pretty popular hike to the top of the Dome, one that requires hikers to use cables towards the end of the trek  in order to fully complete the journey and reach the summit.

After enjoying the sunset, we headed to The Ahwahnee Hotel for dinner. This hotel is more on the pricey side for accomodations, however the restaurant experience is much more affordable. The Dining Room itself is stunning!

We were unaware of this, but apparently reservations are required for dinner and most meals. This did not turn out to be a problem, as we were able to order our meal from the bar restaurant. It actually turned out to be a really cool experience, as this allowed us to sit out on the patio and enjoy the music being played outside by the Hotel’s pianist.

Bright and early the next morning at 6am, Lucas and I headed out on a sunrise bike ride through the park. Lots of fun! The weather was perfect. It was a great way to hang out, just the two of us, and really enjoy the scenery.

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We followed our bike excursion with breakfast at the Curry Village buffet.

Following breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to Yosemite and start the three-hour drive from our location at Yosemite Valley to the east exit of the Park.

When we finally were back on the road, it was off to Vegas!

17 Mile Drive: Heaven on a Highway

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Recently, Lucas and I took a very famous and very scenic road-trip down 17 mile drive. That day, however, our journey started in Redding, CA, MUCH further up north and inland.

In one day, we traveled south and stopped in Monterey, Pebble Beach, and Carmel.

This particular stretch of highway is widely renowned as one of the more spectacular drives in the world; the views truly are breathtaking.

Our first stop was the city of s Monterey, known for being the “Language Capital of the World,” because of the many cultures that developed the area. The language diversity you will still find there today is amazing.  Monterey has roots that are Native American, Mexican, various Asian cultures, that are too numerous to mention, Portuguese and Spanish.

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One of this city’s oldest and most famous attractions is Cannery Row, a street along the waterfront lined with what used to be sardine canning factories, hence it’s name. Whether metaphorically or for more literal reasons, Cannery Row has fascinated the minds of some of the most talented artists in the world, Bob Dylan and John Steinbeck just to name a few.

Another incredibly popular attraction in Monterey is its Farmers’ Market. We stopped by and had a great time talking to our friendly fellow shoppers (mostly non-tourists), and heard such great stories from everyone. Our favorite person that we met that day, however, had to have been the man who was biking his way up and down the Pacific Coast Line,  just to do it. He had already conquered the Eastern Sea Board by bike alone and was having a blast doing it again on the western side of the U.S.

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As we entered Pebble Beach, the beautiful 17-Mile Drive began. Even though this quaint little nest is known for its gorgous landscaping and views, Pebble Beach is even better known for its golf course which reguarly hosts the P.G.A Tour. As recent as June, crowds swarmed the place and took over when Pebble Beach hosted the U.S. Open Tournament.

After Pebble Beach, we got back on the road and headed towards Carmel. Carmel, or “Carmel by the Sea” as it’s referred to officially, is one of my favorite places I’ve been to yet and I would love to make this adorable little town my home someday.

Carmel made its name as a hotbed for artists of all types as early as 1910, and that tratition carries on today. It’s still a safe haven for artists, and by taking in its scenery you can’t help but be inspired and understand why this is so.

Yellowstone: Exploring a Giant Park in One Day!

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Lucas and I have already experienced some really cool things on our travels this summer. In June, we visited Yellowstone National Park. We had one day to see all that we could see. One day is enough to be amazed by the natural wonders inside the park but not enough to see it all.

It was getting dark by the time we got close to Yellowstone. Having never been there before, we did not want to enter unfamiliar territory in the dark. So, we knew we had to find somewhere to spend the night. We were fortunate to find a great place at the last minute, the Absaroka Lodge.

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We eventually learned that Absaroka has a reservation list a mile long during their peak season; there are people who wait up to a year just to stay there.  We happened to snag the last cabin!  After a very long drive, Lucas and I were famished.  We made it to the Lodge’s restaurant just before they stopped seating customers for the night.

Although dinner was great, nothing could compare to the amazing breakfast Absaroka serves each morning. The quaint atmosphere only complimented the great food. A huge fireplace roaring; the cozy atmosphere was a beautiful way to start the day. And let me tell you, we needed every calorie we consumed at breakfast, because the day ahead would be long and full of hiking. We had one day to explore the giant wonder that is Yellowstone, and we wanted to see as much as possible.

We left the lodge and drove twelve miles to the Park. Despite it being June, it was still very cold outside. Snow was dotted on the ground in various locations. A Park employee at the eastern entrance gate greeted us and confirmed that it had been snowing a few days prior, so much snow in fact that a few of the roads had been shut down on the northeast side of the Park. We were also reminded of the possibility that we might see some Grizzly Bears!!  Sadly, two of them had been run down by speeding motorists the day before.  We were cautioned to watch the posted speed limit signs like good little park-goers.

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The scenery was breathtaking, and the roads were winding.  We were so happy that we decided not to try and drive in late at night! Our first stop inside the park was Mammoth Hot Springs.  On the drive there, we got a great view of Yellowstone lake which was partially frozen over.  Snow lingered on the ground in patches surrounding the lake; it was really a beautiful site.

We parked at the Hot Springs and walked up the path of plateaus.  Pictures of the pools of water in the plateaus at Mammoth Hot Springs are famous because of the beautiful colors they create.  To our surprise, all of the springs were completely white and empty until we reached the very top. It was quite a hike but well worth the view we were greeted by when reached the top.

Next on the list.. the mud volcanoes at Dragon’s Mouth Spring. The smell of sulfur was very strong and stinky, but the sight of the mud bubbling up to the surface of these small volcanoes was amazing to see. Dragon’s Mouth is a huge crater in the side of a hill located right near the center of Yellowstone itself. It’s called Dragon’s Mouth because water is sucked into a cave and then spewed out by force within. This water blown out with sulfuric steam , reminds you of a dragon spitting out fire. We took a long hike along the mud volcanoes and got to see some bison close up relaxing in the sunlight on our hike. Tours of this area are available, even during the winter season when the Dragon’s Mouth area is only accessible by snowmobile or some other similar form of transport.

Tower Falls was next. The waterfall drops 130 feet off the mountain. The Falls were so great to see, but we only got a chance to take a few good pictures and stay for a little while because the weather was starting to turn on us. Lightning was hitting in various areas and I have a huge fear of lightning and do not like it one bit.

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During our drive through Yellowstone, we experienced animal life along the road and the Yellowstone tourist ritual of traffic jams each time a creature is spotted by someone in a car. Everyone ends up pulled over to look and take their photographs. We were proud to cause our own traffic jams, as we sighted a Black Bear, Bald Eagle and a coyote. The Grand Tetons and Old Faithful are on the list for next time!

TIPS:

  • Be careful on the roads, and lookout for wildlife, you just might find it like we did.
  • Plan your lodging in advance just in case! We highly recommend Absaroka Lodge.
  • If you plan on stopping by other national parks on your trip, consider a multi-park pass. You’ll pay in advance but save lots of money in the end.

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Mt. Shasta

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My mom and I, enjoying the scenery.

This was an awesome little day trip that Lucas and I took with my parents this summer. We left from Redding, California (where it was HOT, about 100 degrees), and had an easy one-hour drive to Mount Shasta. Along the way, we ate at a fantastic restaurant that serves a variety of foods, but specializes in Mexican food. After never being able to successfully locate white cheese queso dip on the west coast, I was shocked and delighted to find some here at this eatery that was worthy! Delicious!

After our meal, we took a stroll through the pretty little town of Mt. Shasta. There’s a great coffee shop/bookstore combo, and a tea store with a fantastic selection that I would highly recommend if you’re in the area. Eventually, after strolling through the town, we began our drive up the mountain to play in the snow.  However, we did have to stop at a certain point because the road was closed off due to heavy snowfall up on the peaks.

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Lucas and my father had witnessed “Stone Sculptures” being designed and formed very recently in Sausalito (near San Francisco). Needless to say, they were quite taken with the entire concept and tried it out for themselves and made some impressive creations.

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Stone artwork, created by Lucas and my Dad.

There is a beautiful lake near the on the way to the mountain (Lake Shasta), where you can rent all sorts of fun water toys like Wave Runners, Pontoon boats, and Kayaks. Lucas and I plan on heading back to have fun on the water.

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To see the rest of the pics from our trip to Mt. Shasta, click on the link below and visit our flickr page where you will find the entire album.  Mt. Shasta Album

OUR GUIDE FOR NYC FIRST-TIMERS: How to Have the Most Fun and Avoid the Common Snares of the Big Apple

My husband Lucas and I took our first trip to New York City last March. We stayed with our friend Jose Castro. The trip was long-awaited; we had been talking about it for years. Most would consider it ill-advised, but we had to put our truck in the shop, for two weeks, while we were down in Miami for our aunt’s wedding. Despite the second-guessing, our spontaneity overtook us. So we went for it!

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Kennedy Airport greeted us with thick rain that would last for the first two or three days of our stay. For all you NYC Newbies, this is your first important tip: PACK SMART, always considering the time of year and potential weather changes. If it’s winter, bring a VERY warm coat and a scarf at the very least. We had to buy these things once we got there… we had packed for Miami weather.

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Your second tip? Don’t waste precious suitcase space by packing one or more umbrellas; there will be plenty of random salesmen on street corners each time rain begins in New York. Though not always of the highest quality, they are usually very low-cost in addition to the convenience of having access to an umbrella whenever you need one.

Lucas and I, however, ended up having to buy at least seven or eight umbrellas because we kept loosing them. We’d leave them on subways, in the backs of cabs, in restaurants, etc. What can I say..

Here’s a few big thrills you want to make sure you don’t miss in NYC:

1. Battery Park.
It’s beautiful, it’s rarely crowded, and it directly faces New York Harbor and gives fantastic views to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

2. “Bliss” Restaurant in Brooklyn.
Our friend Jose took us here and I was in Heaven. It’s an all-vegan menu, but even hardcore carnivores will be coming back for seconds sooner or later. Yes, it’s THAT good.

3. The Corner Bistro.
Recommended byTim Ferriss, we absolutely insist that you do not miss this one. This infamous hot-spot is open 24/7. The cheeseburgers might be the best you ever get to eat in your life, and they serve $2.50 beer. We made this a nightly ritual! If you’re interested in making the Bistro part of your own New York ritual, you can find directions and more info here on the official site:

4. Central Park.
It’s just one of those places you have to go if you’re in New York. It’s huge, so get a map and enjoy your stroll through the beauty of NYC.

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5. The Museum of Natural Sciences.
Sound boring? I thought so too initially. Some exhibits have the capacity to blow your mind. I was speechless while I gazed at the trunk of a 2,400-year-old tree. The timeline of history was marked on its trunk.

6. Vinyl.
If the Museum left you feeling like a super dork, head on over to Vinyl and feel like a rockstar again. It’s a hotospot de jour, serving food and drinks near the theatre district.

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7. Broadway.
Treat yourself to a Broadway production, and save a TON of cash by making use of the lottery system they have in NY for tickets: If you get there very early around 5:30pm (the shows usually start at 8pm), you can make sure your names get put in the hat for an old-fashioned lottery drawing. If your name is called, you win front-row ticket upgrades for you and someone in your party as well as a substantially discounted ticket price (we paid $25 a ticket).

We won front row seats to Hair and Wicked!

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8. Chelsea
Chelsea is a beautiful and clean part of NYC! Definitely, check out The Chelsea Market (great shopping & restaurants) and, if you need a room, The Chelsea Pines Inn.

As a final tip that I cannot stress enough: BUY OR DOWNLOAD SEVERAL DIFFERENT MAPS OF NY AND STUDY THEM BEFORE YOU GO!!! Trust me, you will be very happy you did this when the crowd rushes kick in at various times of day and night.

Learn the subway system; there’s nothing worse than being lost somewhere. Also, some subway lines stop running at night. Be sure you know which ones close and at what time so you can plan a different route.

Last but not least, if you are as fortunate as we are to have close friends in New York City, make sure you see them and make sure they give you their local tips and secrets.

If you don’t have friends there now, make some when you get there. Native New Yorkers can tell you all you need to know. They know the best restaurants, boutiques, the fastest way to Yankee Stadium, etc.

And, if you ask real nicely, they might even show you the proper way to hail a cab.

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Visit the full NYC photo album on our Flickr page!

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Our first trip to San Francisco

San Francisco was a great experience. The refreshingly cold weather during the summer, I must say, beats the heat of steamy Florida any day.

4771938773 39d2319341 Our first trip to San Francisco
We explored Fisherman’s Wharf and discovered the Musee Mecanique, an antique arcade. We spent about a hour playing arcade games that went back to the late 1800’s. Most of which only cost .25 to play! I must say, some of the games were a “little” scary… one game, Laughing Sally, boast the saying “She has been entertaining and terrifying children for 50 years”. But, all kidding aside, the arcade was a blast! The picture below is of Lucas and my father, Mark,  testing their strength. This was one of my favorite stops while in San Francisco.

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Since August 1873, the San Francisco Cable Cars have been in service. This long time tradition is a MUST do while in the city. We got to enjoy the steep hills and beautiful architecture while riding to China Town & The Shopping District.

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No San Franciscan vacation would be complete without stopping by the Boudin Bakery, at the Wharf, for some famous San Francisco Sourdough Bread. The Boudin Bakery has been using the same recipe since 1849. You can watch fresh bread being made all day. Be sure to get a fresh loaf of Cheddar & Jalapeno Bread before you leave, it comes in handy… energy for all the walking you’ll do.

4787979926 20b00ff5ce Our first trip to San Francisco

Tips:

  • Cable cars- $13 pass (all day) this pass also includes the public transportation.
  • Bring Sweaters, Jackets & Scarves. It’s COLD in the evenings. If you forget you’ll find jackets & sweaters pretty cheap $10+ at sidewalk shops near Fisherman’s Wharf & China Town
  • Book hotel ahead-of-time. Hotels were hard to find at the spur of the moment when we went.

Posted by Shannon

Lucas & Shannon Freeze at Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, South Dakota

4700613380 a8e7ecd981 m Lucas & Shannon Freeze at Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, South Dakota

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We would be remiss to trip-it across the United States without visiting a few of the national parks, even though it was cold and raining we endured the elements and visited both the Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Park located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

It was well worth the detour; dispute the weather we enjoyed an hour long drive through the Badlands. Even though we skipped the welcome center where there was a video, exhibits and artifacts (I just saw this on their website) we managed to get numerous pictures and videos. I would have loved to bike and hike all day in this park…oh well, maybe someday we will come back.

4699004396 2a7547b768 Lucas & Shannon Freeze at Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, South Dakota

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A couple of hours west was Mount Rushmore National Park…

Boy it was cold and drizzling! In our flip flops, shorts and t-shirts we walked from our vehicle to the monument area. I watched kids and adults alike stare at us…we were the two fools from Florida that didn’t pack any heavy clothes for their summer travels. Thank goodness for the gift shop where we bought sweaters and rain jackets…it was a lifesaver.

Tips (things that surprised us):

  • Each park changed admission $10-$15 (cash only at Mount Rushmore) (The Badlands- credit card & cash only, no checks)
  • It was COLD (40-50 degrees in June)

Posted by Lucas