Tag Archives: 20 before 25

Adventures in Florida: Gatorland

image02For those of you who remember my 20 before 25 list, I finally got to cross off zip lining! A few months back the rescue group we adopted Bally from had a silent auction on their Facebook page. I ended up winning the Gatorland basket which included free admission to the park (also referred to as the “Alligator Capital of the World”) as well as 2 complimentary zip lining reservations and a free snake and gator photo. 2 weekends ago, John and I finally decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather so we called and made our reservations and headed off to the park.


We began our day with the zip line tour which took about an hour and a half in its entirety. The course has 5 zip lines in total and the instructors had us ziplining backwards, running off the platform and cannon balling (tucking your legs up to your chest for maximum speed) all throughout the course. And since we were in Gatorland after all, the entire course sent us zipping right over the cages of the park’s largest crocodiles and alligators. Unfortunately they don’t allow cameras on the course so I didn’t get any pictures, but I swear I did it so I’m officially crossing it off my list!


After zip lining, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then stopped to see the free Gator Wrestling show. The handler opened up the gator’s mouth to show the audience and about got his hand bit off, then he demonstrated how little force it takes to keep a gator’s mouth shut by holding it closed with his chin. I was happy to watch from the sidelines!

crocodile crocodile2We wrapped up the day by walking through the alligator “breeding marsh” (home to hundreds of alligators) and we also picked up some hot dogs to feed the alligators and crocodiles. Our zip lining guide recommended we feed the crocodiles with the hot dog attached to a piece of bamboo so we followed his advice and had crocodiles jumping out of the water to eat the hot dogs. As you may have guessed, it wasn’t long before park staff yelled at us for doing so (but it was totally worth it). On our way out, we headed to the gator and snake photo station for our free picture and got to hold a live alligator and snake (ok, John held the snake).

gatorsnakeAll in all we had a fantastic day. Park admission is only $25 which is a steal considering the amount of gators and how close you can get to them as well as the 3 free shows they offer throughout the day. If you’re ever in the Orlando area, Gatorland is a MUST see!

20 before 25: #1 Go on a Cruise

Our welcome sign to Nassau, The Bahamas

When I first started writing this post, I was going to give a play by play of everything John and I did while on our cruise to the Bahamas, but after mulling it over for a bit I decided it’d be way more fun to list out what made me enjoy this mini getaway so much. I’m also super excited to have crossed #1 off my 20 before 25 list!

Making our way into the port in Nassau

Our cruise ship docked in Nassau

Being around someone you have fun with no matter what.One of the things I love most about being with John is that I have just as much fun snorkeling in a coral reef with him as I do sitting at home in our PJs watching TV. He makes everything so fun and is such a joy to be around. The cruise was no exception! Sure we both had to deal with sea sickness and we missed the fancy dinner and didn’t get to sport our new outfits, but we made the most of our vacation. We also focused on the most important thing: having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

John and I on the ship while making our way to the port

Trying new things. Neither John or I had ever snorkeled before and I kind of started to panic inside when the time actually came to do it. I was terrified of seeing a shark, swallowing salt water, or having a hard time breathing through the snorkel tube. I found myself stalling when it was time to get in the water until John finally just got up and started walking down the stairs, forcing me to follow. Once I got in the water it was so fun doing something new and exciting that I’d never done before. I stuck my face in the water and was greeted by a school of tropical fish. I managed to swallow some salt water but hey, it made things a little more exciting and I washed the taste out with some delicious rum punch afterwards.

John in his snorkel gear, unlimited rum punch after

The importance of a little R&R. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life so a cruise was the perfect getaway. Focusing on nothing besides drinking, eating and relaxing really gave my body the recharge it needed. It also made it incredibly hard to go back to work on Tuesday!

Staying positive.The seas were rough during our whole cruise which unfortunately led to the captain canceling our second day in the Bahamas. We were looking forward to a lazy day on the beach at Royal Caribbean’s private island but instead ended up with a day at sea. It would have been easy to whine and complain and be angry, but instead John and I headed for the pool and relaxed together determined to enjoy the day anyway. We got to watch a belly flop contest, drink out of a pineapple, listen to a great Calypso band and see a pre dinner show, all things we probably wouldn’t have gotten to experience otherwise.

Relaxing by the pool during our unplanned day at sea

Drinking out of a pineapple (there were a few refills…)

Food (and drink). There was never a shortage of either on the boat! There was also an ice cream machine (which we visited daily) and the buffet food was great. When we got to the Bahamas we tried conch fritters and for some reason thought we could drink these gigantic tropical drinks without getting too drunk for dinner. We were totally wrong (and poor John took a drunken fall in the bathroom resulting in a seriously bruised nose). Being surrounded by so much food and drink on a daily basis was definitely a dream come true.

My first drink on the island!

Conch fritters

Our giant drinks from Senor Frogs

Our vacation definitely had its challenges (like my sea sickness and John’s bathroom fall) but I wouldn’t have had it any other way – okay I would have taken John’s injury out of the mix! It was great to spend quality time with John and to unplug from life for a few days. PS – the fact that these pictures are up here is a miracle. I accidentally sent our point and shoot camera through the dryer after the cruise (which we used to take most of the pictures you see here) and it got totally fried. Lucky for us, the SD card remained intact and our pictures lived to tell the tale! Also, a huge thanks to the ladies who helped out with vacation week last week!

What are your favorite things about vacation?

We’re going on a cruise!


Lucky for John and I, August means we get 3 paychecks this month. Since we’ve been on TONS of vacations this summer but haven’t yet done something just the two of us, we decided to take advantage of those extra paychecks and use them to have some fun. What better way to do that than to go on a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas?!

I’ve never been on a cruise so I’m super excited to spend a few days at sea. While the cruise isn’t until the beginning of October I still can’t stop thinking about it and all the fun things we’ll get to do. The ship has tons of excursions available, snorkeling being one of our favorites and one we are definitely going to try, and we’ll get a full 2 days in the Bahamas. I can’t wait to have this experience and I’m also pumped to cross #1 off of my 20 before 25 list!

Since I am oh so excited for the cruise but wanted to make this post a little more interesting than me getting all giddy about our upcoming vacation, I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from places John and I have been or fun things we’ve done together in the past. Enjoy!

One of my favorite pics of us. Taken in Tybee Island, GA

Daytona Beach, FL…a pic from when we were still long distance and I hadn’t yet moved. Feels like forever ago!

Hot air ballooning for John’s bday this past June

Us with the chase vehicle after the hot air balloon landed (very bouncy, quite the experience!)

John feeding me to Trex in the Jurassic Park exhibit at Universal – read more about this day here

Our first canoeing experience together at Wikewa Springs

Remember that gator I mentioned when I told you about John needing to see it up close and personal? I know it’s not the hugest…but I felt very vulnerable being this close in a canoe!

Photo from our trip to Duck, NC this year with John’s family. Read about it and see more pics here.

What fun places have you been or what exciting things have you done? Are you squeezing in any last minute summer vacations?

20 before 25 (and a kind of book review)

I recently completed The Next Thing on my List (amazon) by Jill Smolinski (I read it in a mere 3 days). If I had to choose one word to describe it, I’d say it was inspiring, which is incredibly surprising for a book about a woman who is in a car accident that kills her passenger.

The book revolves around a list written by the woman, Marissa, killed in the accident. The main character and driver of the car, June, finds the list. Feeling guilty for the death of a woman she only knew for the duration of a car ride, June finds the list and decides to complete it herself before Marissa’s 25th birthday. What unfolds is a life-changing story about realizing what you want in life and setting out to achieve it.

I knew even before I finished the book that I would want to make my own list at the end of it. I’ve spent a lot of my life setting out to complete things and somehow never managing (I couldn’t even commit to a daily diary). I now feel like I’ve reached a turning point in my life, and I realize that I’ve been holding myself back from a lot of the things I’d like to try in life. This book inspired me to make my own list of 20 things to do before I turn 25 (1 year 10 months from now):

  1. Go on a cruise
  2. Parasail
  3. Complete the P90X workout program
  4. Take a wine tour
  5. Learn to handle/shoot a gun
  6. Go ice skating (this ones for you, John) 🙂
  7. Lose 15 pounds
  8. Go hiking/camping with my little sister
  9. Donate to charity
  10. Go paintballing
  11. Learn to drive stick
  12. Go zip lining
  13. Think of something I’d like to buy, create a budget, and save up to make it happen
  14. Treat myself to a day at the spa (mani, pedi, facial, massage)
  15. Try an exotic food I’ve never heard of
  16. Host a party
  17. See a show on Broadway
  18. Make/Do 10 things I’ve seen on Pinterest (this one is silly, but it will be fun!)
  19. Go on a picnic
  20. Make money off of my photography

I’m excited to commit to this mini-bucket list and look forward to crossing things off and sharing the experiences with you. Oh and PS, READ THIS BOOK!

Do you have a list of your own? What kinds of things are on it? Have you completed any of them? Can’t wait to hear your ideas and experiences!

Photo source here.