Adventures at Pensacola Beach

On Wednesday, September 4th, my family and I drove the remaining distance to Pensacola Beach, Florida! We saw our first palm trees of the year just across the Florida border. To get to Pensacola Beach, which is along the Gulf of Mexico, we had to cross two bridges onto the “water stick” as we call it.

Water stick—a long, narrow area of land surrounded completely by water but sitting only a short distance away from the rest of the country, accessible by one or more bridges

I don’t know where the term “water stick” came from, but we have always called them that and we have been to three of them: Pensacola Beach water stick, Daytona Beach water stick, and the Outer Banks water stick.

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We were excited to have finally reached our first real destination, and to spend more than one night there! We stayed at the lovely Hampton Beachside Resort, which was complete with a swimming pool, easy access to the ocean, and our very own balcony! And a tiki bar! Before deciding on Pensacola, we considered Panama City Beach and Destin, but Pensacola was said to be very nice and the quietest of the three beaches, so we settled on this one. We were very glad of our choice, because the three days we spent there were perfect! (The whole time, however, I could not remember the word “Pensacola” for the life of me! I either called it “Pentacola” or “Pestacola”.)

We spent lots of time swimming every day. The water felt almost hot compared to what we are used to at the beaches in Canada. At first glance, the water looks calm, blue-green and almost crystal clear, and the sand is so white it’s almost blinding! While walking to the beach, every time we reached a certain section of the sand, it would make these funny squeaky sounds when we walked, and I think we laughed every time.

When we waded into the water, we realized that there were fuzzy yellow bits of algae floating in it. Apparently, the water is usually clear of these, so we just so happened to be there at the wrong time, but we got used to them pretty quickly. There were a few small white jellyfish in the water too, which spooked me at first, but most of them had little or no tentacles so they didn’t sting when touched. What was harder for me to get used to were the fish swimming around my feet! In even the shallow parts of the water, these cute little fish swam around our feet almost constantly, brushing up against our legs and eating whatever was in the sand our feet stirred up. After a while, though, I came to really like them. They were so much fun to try to capture on my GoPro! We had a blast just relaxing and floating around in the water, videotaping the fish, and later chilling on shaded chairs beside the pool as we dried.

For supper that first night, we tried Red Fish Blue Fish, and from our seats on the outside covered deck, we watched the sun set over the water. When we returned to our room, we played some games and ate snacks. Then we went to bed early. Being outside in the sun all day is exhausting, but so much fun!

The following morning, I was awoken by a cry of, “Guys! There’s dolphins out here!!” I jumped out of bed and ran to the balcony, where Mom and Dad were pointing out in the water—and I saw a splash! We were able to witness dolphins jumping around beside the pier, and it was really cool. By the time I grabbed a camera, though, they were swimming east.

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We spent the morning and afternoon swimming some more, and we ventured a little bit west to explore around the pier. Then we decided it was time for some lunch. Unfortunately, I think I might have spent a bit too much time in the sun. You see, we Canadians are not used to the tropical Florida heat. On the way back to our room, I tried to carry my shoes, but the dry sand further from the water felt really hot, so I ran for the stairs but they were black and were even hotter. I yanked my shoes on, but while the others were rinsing the sand off their feet, I began to feel very faint and was gasping for breath, so I had to lie under the stream of foot-rinsing water until I felt well enough to stand again. In the hotel, I drank some water as we prepared to go get lunch at Rotolo’s. But I couldn’t stand or even sit without feeling dizzy and weak, so Mom and I stayed behind while Mal and my dad went to pick up our food. While they were gone, I tried eating some doritos and drinking some more water, and finally began to feel a bit better. After eating most of my penne alfredo, I felt completely fine.

A bit later, when we decided we were all fully recovered from the heat, we returned to the beach. First, I almost forgot my chair. Next, just outside our room, I accidentally dropped my glasses on the floor. Then we got on the elevator, and I suddenly realized I wasn’t wearing shoes! So I had to go back to the room to get my shoes…I wasn’t going to be running across that hot sand again!

On the beach, the wind had picked up, so there were some small waves, but nothing like Daytona Beach or the Outer Banks. We swam for a while, watched the sunset from the beach, then returned to our room and went to Marble Slabs for our first ice cream of the trip! I wasn’t too fond of the raspberry ice cream, but the strawberry was good, especially with cookie dough and Reese’s pieces mixed in. They were all laughing at me though, because they said they all tried to do themes—Mom had a pina colada theme with banana and coconut; Mal had a chocolate theme with chocolate and oreo cookies; and then there was me, just throwing everything I like into my ice cream!

Friday morning, we all got up at 7am to walk down the beach to see the dolphins. We saw a few, but didn’t get any good photos. We went swimming, this time bringing some salty doritos and water with us so I could stay hydrated and electrolyted (my newly invented word, I like it), and when we decided we were exhausted and sunburnt enough, went to Whataburger for supper. I ordered chicken strips, but they all got burgers and received them…all without patties so we were all laughing hysterically! Their customer service was excellent, however, and we got new burgers in no time, so we were very pleased with the service. Then we went to Marble Slabs for the second time.

Since it was our last night at Pensacola, we stood on the balcony overlooking the beach, listening to the laughing of the few people still outside and the gentle lapping of the waves; watching the moonlight shimmer softly off the pier as it cast long reflections into the calm water; and remembering the feeling of the glimmering turquoise water sliding softly through our hands. It was the perfect final night.

On Saturday morning, we awoke early again, this time headed to the pier in another attempt to see some dolphins. This one paid off, because we saw the dolphins and got to hear them blow out air as they surfaced in the water! Then we had our final breakfast in Pensacola. In the breakfast area, Mal told us that a guy walked up to him and said, “My friend told me that we have the same hair. But I don’t think so.” It was hilarious, because we’re always laughing at Mal’s hair. It’s long, thick, bouncy, and sometimes ends up sticking up somehow in places, and he’s always telling us, “There’s nothing wrong with my hair!” 

When we left the hotel, we drove east toward our second real destination: Daytona Beach! We had kept west until then because we wanted to avoid Hurricane Dorian, which was passing through Daytona while we were enjoying the sunny weather at Pensacola. We were able to actually follow the hurricane north, staying behind it, so we had sunny days every. single. day! It was great!

I missed Florida. Writing this, I miss it again, but I’m sure we will be back someday!

The Smoky Mountains

On the last day of August, as the sun had just begun to rise over the shadowy tops of the trees, my family and I departed for a two-week adventure: our second ever road trip to Florida!

Unfortunately, Day One of our adventure did not go quite as planned. We tried to get a prepaid phone plan in the US, but it was a four-hour ordeal that ended in two of our phones unable to be unlocked; we were unable to call Canada despite being told we could; and we quickly discovered that although we could text to Canada, no one from Canada could text us without being charged. The good thing was that, even though only two of our four American SIM cards could be used at a time, we did have 4GB of data to last us the duration of the trip (spent mainly on navigating and finding food and ice cream through Google Maps), so it worked out in the end. Mostly.

With our spirits still high, we managed to travel through four states that day: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Mom and Dad fell asleep in the backseat while I drove, and Mal and I made some joke about watching out for caterpillars when we saw a sign that said “Keep your eyes on the road.” Then we started actually seeing lots of little fuzzy black and orange caterpillars crossing the highway! I tried to steer away from the little blobs inching across the road. So, then of course we had to joke around about if I were to accidentally swerve off the road into the ditch trying not to hit the caterpillars, and that when Mom and Dad woke up, the conversation would go something like this:

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My thoughts exactly! We went to the Olive Garden for supper. Their “forks” only had 3 prongs!

Them: What happened?
Mal: There was a wildlife and we swerved to avoid it.
Them: What kind of wildlife? How big was it?
Mal: Uh…not that big. It was…a caterpillar…

We didn’t swerve by the way. I’m not that dumb. But then we ended up having a 23km range left on the gas tank, with (according to the GPS) 27 km to the nearest gas station. It’s not my fault!!! My mom’s car has some sort of fancy technology that I don’t know how to use. xD We made it though.

We spent our first night in Connecticut at a lovely Holiday Inn. They had the most amazing cinnamon buns for breakfast! We drove all day on Day Two, passing through five more states–New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. We went to one of our favorite American restaurants, Denny’s, for supper, and it was attached to a little convenience store. I started talking to Mal about the taffy sitting on one of the shelves, but when I turned around it was someone else standing behind me, and he had wandered away. xD So I guess I talk to myself now, and people think I’m crazy. Oh well, I always wanted to be a fruit loop in a bowl of cheerios!

On Day Three, September 2nd, we crossed the Tennessee border for the first time ever! We drove to Gatlinburg and stopped at an information center, where I bought a Smoky Mountains postcard and decided to start a collection of postcards; I’ll get one everywhere we go and put them all in a book!

We drove along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail toward the Smoky Mountains. It was a beautiful road, surrounded by trees with little glimmers of sunlight flickering through the bright green leaves. We stopped at a walking trail called the Rainbow Falls trail. We contemplated whether we had enough time before dark to walk the trail, because it was 5.2 miles round trip and it was getting late, but in the end we decided to do it. We saw some lovely views of waterfalls, the mountains through the trees, and paths that went along the edges of hills. It turned out that we were actually climbing the whole way up the trail, but the waterfall at the top was beautiful and shimmered in the glow of the departing sun, and the climb was really fun and definitely worth it! We made it back to the car just as the sun was setting—I think it took us 2.5 hours total.

From there, we drove toward Nashville but stopped for the night about an hour away in Cookeville. We decided that Mom must be really tired, because we had this conversation on the way and she almost died laughing!

Mom: Shouldn’t you be in the other lane?
Mal: Well, I was passing that guy.
Mom: What guy? That guy way up there, directly in front of you?
Mal: Yeah, but then he noticed me. You have to be sneaky when you pass people, or they’re like ‘Oh no, I’m gonna lose the race! I better floor it. Then I’ll put my brakes on when I’m ahead because I don’t want to go TOO fast!’

The worst thing is, that happened way too often!! I am starting to appreciate Canadian drivers, and we all know what goes on on Canadian roads from watching Canada’s Worst Driver…right? Well, American drivers might be worse…yee. (No offense if you are a driver in either of our countries. I’m sure all you guys out there are awesome drivers who would never intentionally go faster while someone is trying to pass you, move over into the passing lane right in front of him, and then brake while staying in the passing lane, even though there are no other vehicles around for miles!)

And there ends the first chapter of our perfect trip. Road trips with family are the best—tons of road trip snacks, listening to good music, laughing about dumb stuff, and getting so tired you laugh about even more dumb stuff! What more could one ask for?

Hody/Potalo Dictionary of Phrases

TAEZ6793Mal (that would be Mr. Potalo) and I (a.k.a. Hody Pody) have come up with pretty much a whole system of words and phrases. We often use incorrect spelling while texting each other, and we say things in a way that sounds like we’re three years old sometimes, but that’s us and it’s fun. xD

I decided to write up a list of some of the recent words we’ve either invented or use often (sometimes out of the proper context), so you can join in on the fun! So, without further ado, here is the Hody/Potalo Dictionary of Commonly Used Words and Phrases!

Awesomesauce – adj. amazing or really fun
Awesomesausage – n. something that is amazing or really fun
Cool beans – a statement similar to “that’s great”
Dense – adj. dumb or ignorant, as in when a person doesn’t seem to know something
Disturbation – n. something that is disturbing
Epicalistical – adj. a longer, funner term for “epic,” as in amazing, really fun, or the best ever
Glitchy spaz – n. This is when your game is spazzing your character all over the place, usually caused by a bad Internet connection
Glug – 1. n. a drink, usually a blue one 2. v. to drink something
Gluggity chug – n. a very good drink
Hoingadoing – an exclamation usually spoken when doing something that requires effort, such as jumping over something or throwing something heavy
Laggy spaz – n. Similar to a glitchy spaz, this is when your game is very laggy and an action is completed on the game several seconds after you press the button for that action, usually caused by a bad Internet connection
Leedleedleedleedlee – the sound made when one sticks out his tongue and blows, usually a sassy gesture
Lopoloo – like “lololol” but terribly misspelled
Nifty – adj. cool or useful
Nondumpy-lookin’ – adj. fancy
Oi – an exclamation usually uttered after laughing a lot, kind of like an ashamed sigh or sometimes used instead of “lol”
Pikker – n. picture
Phlome – n. phone
Sack of bologna – n. something that is completely wrong or annoying
Scheeeeooooop – a slurping sound made when one is really hungry or sees food that is really good
Scrub – n. a person who doesn’t know what he is doing or is very dumb
Scrubby – adj. used to describe something bad or annoying
Scum – n. an extremely annoying person or one who acts mean or breaks rules
Shifty – adj. suspicious, as in when something or someone seems off
Slueueuleuleuueuuleup – a slurping sound, usually a response to “scheeeeooooop”
Smear – n. a mark left by something or someone sliding across the ground or a surface, or when a cat rubs its face against you
Smeared – adj. the state in which one is slid across the ground or a surface and usually leaves a mark, or the state in which a cat has rubbed its face against you
Smudge – n. on Fortnite, an SMG
Snip – 1. n. on Fortnite, a sniper 2. v. to snipe someone
Spaz – 1. n. something that is spazzing 2. v. when something or someone is moving or flailing awkwardly or moving all over the place, often in a game when your character is appearing in random different places due to a bad Internet connection
Spooked – adj. a state in which one is worried, scared, or hyperaware
Spooksy – adj. something that is extremely scary
Spooky – adj. something that is very scary or causes worry or hyperawareness
The “let me do what I wanna do” button – usually on a computer, the “Not now” or “I have read and agreed with the terms of service” button, or whichever option makes the questions go away so you can do whatever it is you went on the computer to do in the first place
Veddy – adj. very
What do – a question meaning either “What are you doing” or “what should we do,” depending on context
Wo – a statement meaning “Whoa,” giving the impression of amazement or pride
Yee – the sound one makes when they come across something large, squishy, green, and/or gross, similar to “ew” but nobody actually says “ew” unless they’re trying to so it usually comes out more like “yee”
Yerp – a word meaning “yes” but which is more fun to say

Okay, so I might not win an award for the best dictionary ever, but this is just for fun so enjoy! And who knows, I might have some more words to add in the future. ;D

Do you use any of these words or phrases? What are some words or phrases that you commonly use either out of context or that most people don’t use much? Come on, let me in on some of your fancy words!

Flowers and Mountains

So like, my brother is really good with computers. …and phones. And all electronical devices, really (I declare that electronical is now a word). In fact, he had to explain to me what a virtual box was a few weeks ago when he put one on our computer so we could use our old PC games that were only compatible with old versions of Windows like XP (we then had to activate our Windows XP online, so we proceeded to have to figure out how to get service pack 3 so we could do that, but we thought we needed Internet Explorer 8 to download SP3, but to get IE8 we needed SP3, so that was fun. He ended up downloading SP3 on the actual computer and putting it in a shareable folder to run the file on the virtual box, which finally worked). If you’re like me and you don’t know what a virtual box is, basically, we now have the computer (running Windows 10), but we can use the virtual box (Windows XP) almost like a separate computer system on that computer to play XP-compatible games!

So, yeah, he’s really good with computers, but cameras are kind of my thing. xD

I need a new phone because mine has a permanent smudge on the rear camera, and being the ‘photographer’ of the family, I can’t live without a camera on me at all times! So we were talking about phone cameras and comparing different ones. One of them had three different cameras: the normal camera, a wide camera, and a zoom camera, and I said that the zoom on any phone is going to suck because my DSLR doesn’t lose quality when it zooms like a phone camera or a regular point-and-shoot camera does. Then we started comparing his phone’s camera specs with my DSLR, starting with shutter speed and ISO, and then I mentioned aperture.

Mal: Oh yeah, what does your aperture go to? Mine goes all the way from flower to mountain! *sounding very proud, but obviously joking*
Me: 4.5 to 32.
Mal: *hesitating* …What is that in flowers and mountains?

I almost died laughing because it was so funny the way he said it! Then I started looking at the pictures for the different modes on my camera (I usually just use the full-manual mode, or auto if I don’t have much time to play with the exposure settings), and I announced, “Oh, I do have a flower mode though! And another one looks like a portrait…and in between, it looks like a guy with a log sticking out of his chest!” Looking at it more closely, we deduced that the log was actually his leg, and that particular mode was for action shots, so we’ll just say I was really tired when I thought I saw a log!

My camera is a slightly-ancient Canon EOS Rebel T3, by the way, and is still a great camera! I do need a new phone though…in case I’m in a situation where I don’t want to be carrying a heavy DSLR around or risk hurting it. But no matter what camera I get, it’s going to be bigger than my little 4″ iPhone 5S, and even that one just barely fits in my pocket! Oh noes!

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Photo from 2015. Please don’t ask why I’m wearing sunglasses while trying to look through the viewfinder. I really don’t have an answer. xD

Broken but special

My family is where I gain my inspiration for blogging. We always seem to find a way to look on the bright side of every situation. I don’t know where I would be without them. They make my life what it is. :)

Last weekend, there was a cake auction in my village and my brother made a fancy “orange pop” cake for it. Unfortunately, on the drive over, the cake cracked in the middle and a piece fell off. My brother wrote on the auction sheet, “Broken but special,” which I think made a couple of other people bid on it. Poor cake – but it’s a nice story!

Here are a couple of other photos from the weekend!

Rules of Pizza Etiquette

Here are my Rules of Pizza Etiquette “to keep the integrity of the pizza,” as invented by Mal and me. I wrote this list originally as a note on my phone. When I tried to bring my phone back to iOS 9 (as opposed to 10), it deleted all of my notes, so I thought I lost this one until I found a screenshot I had saved about a year ago. When I finally found it, I decided it was finally time to share these rules with the world!

Rules of Pizza Etiquette and the Pizza Treaty of 2015

  1. You must eat your pizza right-side up at all times (that is, with the toppings facing up).
  2. You must eat your pizza starting from the tip.
  3. You must not tear, cut, or otherwise mangle your pizza (biting it doesn’t count because biting is what pizzas are made for).
  4. You must not dip your pizza in any substance of any kind.
  5. You must not fold your pizza or attempt to make it smaller in any way.
  6. You must NEVER EVER EVER joke about the pizza or make fun of it, or insult or degrade it in any way.
  7. You must never stop eating mid-slice. You must finish the whole slice before putting it down.
  8. You may not share a slice of pizza. You must eat the whole slice yourself. (The crust doesn’t count. If you want to give your crust to your friend, that is allowable as long as all other pizza rules are followed.) Exceptions may be made for extra-large pizza slices.
  9. You must enjoy EVERY bite of your pizza.
  10. You must never complain about the pizza.
  11. You must never discuss the pizza at any time other than while you are eating it. To keep the integrity of the pizza, you must not disclose any information pertaining to the pizza to anyone besides fellow pizza-eaters.
  12. You must not fling your pizza at anyone or pretend to fling your pizza at anyone.
  13. You must treat the pizza as an equal and hold it to the highest standard.
  14. When you burp while eating pizza, you must not say “excuse me” or any variation of those words, or you will offend the pizza, which breaks rule #6.
  15. You must never eat pizza without garlic fingers or garlic bread.

This list is, of course, just for fun, and a joke we made about the way my parents were eating their pizza (for example, eating it with a fork and knife and dipping it in sauce). Is there anything you would add to or remove from this list? How do you like to eat your pizza? Let me know in the comments! :)

Car Funnies

I am definitely not a car person, as you can probably tell….. Mal and Jacob make fun of me for all the stupid things I’ve said all the time. xD (On the bright side, maybe I’ve learned something since then? But don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll end up saying more stupid stuff in the future.) Anyway, here are some of the funny things that have happened in the past year.

Last year, we were on our way down the road with a load of tires on a wagon, so we could put them on a car we were going to drive. My mom met us along the way, and we had to explain to her that we were not, in fact, taking the tires for a walk. “No, Mom, we’re just taking them for a walk! We thought they needed some air!” No pun intended. I changed one of the tires—it’s not quite as complicated as my grade 9 home etiquette course suggested—but while I was trying to tighten one of the nuts, my hand slipped and I faceplanted into the side of the car and then fell. Then I was playing with the wheel nuts. The boys were talking about the starter, and meanwhile I slid all the nuts onto my fingers and then hung my fingers upside down and proudly declared, “I’m hanging nuts from my fingers!”

While working on one of Jacob’s cars (the black one from last June/July), I was telling him about my friend Allison. I said, “She hit a pothole and the rim came off!” Mal looked at me and said, “…don’t you mean the hubcap?” Apparently, those are different. “I hope you didn’t tell anyone else that. ‘Yeah she was driving and then her whole rim just like came off and rolled across the road!'” Yeah, let’s hope I didn’t tell anyone else that. xD

Last summer, while we were eating ice cream in town, sitting on the back deck of the ice cream place, a fancy blue car pulled into the parking lot and here was our conversation:

Jacob: It’s a standard.
Me (to Mal): Only he would point that out. I would say that it’s blue, but he’ll explain what kind it is, the transmission, what kind of tires it has…
Jacob: …how much gas is left in the tank…
Me: Yeah, how much gas is left in the tank…
Jacob: And it’s a 2.2 litre.
Me: I don’t know what that means. My car takes a lot more than 2.2 litres of gas.
Jacob: It’s oil, not gas.
Me: Ohhhh!
Jacob: Hey, how many spark plugs does your four wheeler have? Four?
Me: What’s a spark plug?
Jacob: You don’t know what a spark plug is?
Me: No…
Jacob: I can tell you where the crankshaft is.
Me: *laughing* Crankshaft…xD
Jacob: You can find something funny about everything.
Me: Yup! Yup I can! *laughing so hard I can barely breathe*
Car: *drives away*
Me: *listens* Maybe it is a standard…

After I had my winter tires put on my car, we were talking about getting rims for my car and they checked the size. It was 14. A couple of days later, this conversation happened, and all I could remember was ’14’ but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was for.

Jacob: What size are your tires?
Me: 14?
Jacob: 215?
Me: 14.
Jacob: 215?
Me: 14.
Jacob: Okay, the rims are 14. What size are the tires? 215?
Me: 14?

By the way, 175. xD He checked. xD