Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carolina Invasion!

Spring Break is always an exciting time that is looked forward to by millions of college students nationwide. It's an opportunity to take a break from the rigors of studying and going to class and allows for the chance to explore new places (normally with the inclusion of warmth and sun!). A couple of weeks ago, I played host for my friend Elizabeth and her roommate Victoria during their glorious spring break!

Elizabeth and I met during the summer of 2009 when we did Camp Adventure together in Italy. It also turned out that we both attended UNI, so a natural friendship was formed. We spent the entire summer working together, traversing the terrains of Italy, Switzerland, and Austria, and forming a bond that still exists today! However, since my graduation from UNI and subsequent travels to Korea, I hadn't seen her in about 2 years. So this trip south was definitely welcomed!

Currently, Elizabeth is attending the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, working towards her Master's in Geology or something rock/nature related. So about a month and a half ago, she got a hold of me seeing if her and her roommate could come down to South Florida for a few days to get away from life "up north." I naturally said "YES!!!" and the planning began. The old travel notebook from Italy was dusted off, itineraries were created, changed, and finalized, and the date was set!

Elizabeth and Victoria rolled in Boynton around 1 AM on the 14th of March and their presence graced my apartment until the 17th of March. The following days consisted of the following activities:

- 50% of full body messages at the new spa that recently opened up in the shopping complex below my apartment while I attended various meetings/work

- Plenty of beach time with and without proper equipment, including a pail, shovel, and ample amounts of sunscreen

- Attending a Ladie's Night Special at the Carolina Ale House, in which ladies drinks are $2.00 for the first one and free for the rest of the night! Quite the deal for the non-male gendered folks out there!

- A visit to Bru's Room down in Delray Beach for some drinks and discussion with Cathy

- Interacting with turtles at Loggerhead Marina while I had a meeting for the upcoming TurtleFest that AmeriCorps is helping out with in April

- St. Paddy's Day celebrations at Bar Louie in Boynton, complete with great friends, green beer, breakfast buffet, and our very own leprechaun

- Quality monkey time at Monkey Jungle down in Miami - this monkey sanctuary gives humans the ability to feed monkeys while being caged with monkeys running overhead and fighting over the scarce morsels of raisins, cranberries, and other dried fruit that are provided to them

- Participation in an Everything Green party hosted by JaRon and Amy in their apartment, complete with the creation of Wizard Staffs and late night memories

In the end, it was great to see Elizabeth again, meet Victoria, and create more memories that will continue to strengthen our friendship. Plans are already in the works to meet up again in either Jacksonville, FL or Savannah, GA in June with Phetsada (aka Botswana since Elizabeth couldn't remember how to pronounce her name) and another possible visit to South Carolina in July as a stop on a road trip to PA with Cathy. Cant wait for these upcoming trips!!

Flashback to Capri!
Bru's Room bonding!

Green beer at Bar Louie
New friends

Irish Car Bombs
Feeding the monkeys

Sporting our Wizard Staffs
Monkey Jungle!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The High End Life (For One Night)

Living on a limited budget can be stressful and demoralizing at times. However, every now, good things happen to those that are patient and wait. One of those such opportunities graced my presence just last weekend...

ADT, a well-knonw, nationwide security company, donated 8 tickets to a recent Florida Panthers hockey game. Now these weren't just any seats - these seats were located in the company suite inside the BB&T Center! Not only were the seats top notch, free food and drinks AND a VIP parking pass were included in the deal! Talk about living the high life!

The group!
So Friday night, Skeeter, Max, Kevin (my roommate), Jen, Erin, Hannah, and one of our supervisors, Brad, headed down to Miami to take in this once in a lifetime opportunity. We were handed out tickets (valued at $999.00!) and headed up to the company suite. It was just like we had thought it would be! Open bar, carving stations, buffet lines complete with sushi, shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops, pizza options galore, and free popcorn! Oh, and seats in the front row with a clear view of the rink. The suite itself took about about 1/4 of the arena, which was pretty phenomenal in itself!

Needless to say, we all took full advantage of the open bar, free food, and entertaining game. Now the Panthers are one of the worst teams in the NHL. Despite that, the game (against the Winnipeg Jets) went into overtime. We were headed to a shootout when the Jets scored with 40 seconds remaining. Game over.

But we didn't let the final score damper our spirits! The 8 of us actually ended up shutting down the arena! Leave it to AmeriCorps to be the last ones out and always having a good time! Needless to say, none of us are going to forget this awesome night and this once in a lifetime opportunity that we will probably never have again!

The rink during lineups
Enjoying the free food!

Jen and Max chowing down!
Max, myself and Skeet!

Jen, Skeet, and I
The guys!

The gals!
Roommate bonding time!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Play Ball!

One of the many perks about living here in Florida is the ability to attend spring training games. The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals both have the spring training games in Jupiter, which is about 30 minutes north of Boynton Beach. This past Sunday, Skeeter and I headed up to Roger Dean Stadium and attended our first spring ball game. Being from the Midwest, the opportunity to watch baseball in March is relegated to the TV set. We watched as the Marlins came back from a 4 run deficit and beat the New York Mets. It was a great afternoon for some baseball. Great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Beautiful Day!
Bullpen warm up session
Marlins win!