Eating Our Way Across the USA

Ed plans our roadtrips by looking for places to eat. He loves eating at unique places; I doubt he has set foot in an Olive Garden since 1989. On our way to the Smoky Mountains, we stayed in Berea, Kentucky. Weeks before our trip, Ed knew that we were going to eat dinner the Historic Boone Tavern Restaurant.

While sometimes it seems like it would be easier to stay by the hotel and eat at a chain restaurant that’s familiar, eating at a local place is a lot of fun. Shortly after we sat down at our table in the Boone Tavern, a server came over to give us our first taste of spoon bread. Neither Ed nor I had ever had spoon bread before. Yum!

When we went to my Dad’s house one Christmas, we thought it would be fun to spend a day at a water park. After spending the day at the Wasserbahn in Central Iowa, Ed informed my whole family that we were going to eat dinner at The Ronneburg Restaurant. Sure, bringing the girls to the water park was fun, but it was the German food Ed was really after. And he was right. The German food at The Ronneburg was outstanding.

North Platte, Nebraska was a stopping point during our drive from Chicago to Estes Park, Colorado. Ed arranged for us to have a hotel room with bunk beds for the girls, and we were going to eat at Whiskey Creek. He knew it was a chain, but the fact that we had never eaten there before made it a good choice.

This past summer, I decided to take a page from Ed’s book. Before our trip to Alaska, I asked my cousin where I should take Ed to eat for his birthday, and she suggested Simon and Seafort’s in Anchorage. I surprised Ed with a reservation and a table by the window. The hostess even sprinkled birthday ribbons on our table! As we were eating, we were able to look out at Cook’s Inlet and Mount Susitna, “the sleeping lady.” It was a wonderful evening!

Captain James Cook and Ed
Mount Susitna

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One Wedding, Two Honeymoons

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming

It is highly frowned upon for teachers to take a vacation during the school year. In fact, it just doesn’t happen. So even though Ed and I decided to get married in October, we didn’t take our full-blown honeymoon until my Spring Break. Which ended up being very practical for reasons I will explain in just a minute.

Ed and I were married on October 12, 2002. It was a beautiful Columbus Day weekend, and since I had no school on Monday, we spent two days in downtown Chicago for our first honeymoon. We acted as tourists during that weekend, even though we live only a few miles away from the Loop. We had dinner at the top of the Hancock building in the Signature Room. We rode on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. We swam in the swimming pool on the top floor of our hotel. And we walked along the shore of Lake Michigan, holding hands.

View of the skyline from the top of the ferris wheel on Navy Pier
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

Delaying our honeymoon for a few months gave me time to legally change my last name, and we both were able to get passports in plenty of time. One of my mom’s friends was a travel agent, and she was able to help us get a great deal on a Caribbean cruise. Instead of just sitting on the ship, we tried to pack as much as we could into the days at port. In Jamaica, we signed up for river tubing, but we wanted to do something else as well. So we jumped into a taxi and went to climb Dunn’s River Falls. Once we got there, it seemed very disorganized and we didn’t quite know where to go. A tour guide was shouting out “Couples over here!” so I grabbed Ed’s hand and pulled him over. We were a couple, right? Then it dawned on me that “Couples” was the name of a resort on Jamaica! We tagged along for the climb up the Falls anyway. The weather was not what we had expected for Jamaica. It was a cloudy and chilly day. The water was so cold!

Climbing Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica

After climbing the Falls, we caught up with the tour group we were supposed to be in, and took a taxi up a mountain to go tubing. The driver drove those mountainous roads a little fast and every time he came to a curve, instead of slowing down, honked the horn loudly! We miraculously made it up to the river, and leisurely floated down. Even though the day was not warm, we were in Jamaica, mon! Somewhere along the way, we bought jerk chicken at a roadside stand. It was good, but both Ed and I thought the taste must have been toned down for tourists. It pretty much tasted like roasted chicken we would buy in the U.S.

At another port, we explored the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico. The weather was much better in Mexico. Strolling along the ruins, we saw iguanas sunning themselves on top of the rocks. The ocean shone below, the water gleaming in various shades of blue. It was a beautiful place.

Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico

During our last day at sea, we spent the day wandering the boat, trying every activity that we could. We skated in the ice skating rink and played mini-golf. Ed went on the rock climbing wall, which I was too chicken to try.

Ed made it to the top. Woot!

Upgrading to a room with a balcony hadn’t been that expensive. It was our honeymoon, after all!

What a way to enjoy a morning cup o' joe!

I still remember waiting on the ship, waiting for our number to be called to get on the shuttle to the Miami airport. I was feeling rather blue; our honeymoon was over. But the next few years of marriage were full of happiness. Now, coming up to our tenth anniversary, I can definitely say that I was wrong. The honeymoon isn’t over.

The four of us at Christmas, 2011

For more honeymoon stories, visit Gretchen at Second Blooming!

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