This week’s #ATQA Adventure Travel chat recap – “Outdoor Dads”

As a special ode to all the wonderful fathers who love the outdoors, this week’s #ATQA Adventure Travel chat was a special “Father’s Day” edition. I won’t even try to deny that I got totally teary-eyed while crafting the recap; there are some truly touching tweets that were shared during the chat.

I was unable to perform my usual co-hosting duties as I was stuck at an airport awaiting a plane during the chat, but the wonderful David Croyle did an excellent job as guest co-host. Shoot, he did it so well, I may even be out of a job. Check out the tweets:

Q1: What’s your favorite outdoor memory with your dad?

@RamblinBears: “A1: My favorite outdoor memory was going to Yosemite with my Dad for the first time at age 16. #ATQA

@JoyfulShoehorn: “A1. Going hiking in Idaho with my dad & leaving my mom and sister back at the hotel to whine. #ATQA

Q2: What’s your favorite memory of time outdoors with your kids?

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Happy Holidays from hot and humid Miami, Florida

Loyal readers, fellow bloggers, and travelers across the world – Happy Holidays to you and yours! I’m enjoying a little escape from the snowy streets of Denver, Colorado for a few weeks of sweet Floridian sunshine. My Christmas festivities involve a traditional Cuban noche buena feast, served beneath tall palm trees on my parents’ warm patio – I hope everyone is enjoying lots of warmth and family cheer where ever this holiday finds you.

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A Mother’s Day Ode to The Most Amazing Mother

Here’s wishing a very happy Mother’s Day to every mother reading this, but especially to the best mom of the bunch – mine.

For twenty-two years, I have been blessed with the most amazing mother on the planet. On October 16, 1988, she gave me the ultimate gift that I will never be able to repay her: my life.

Her selfless giving didn’t end there. She raised a happy little tot the best way a mother could, wrapping earth worms around my fingers like rings to teach me not to be afraid of bugs, and taking my sister and I on adventures all over the world.

Here’s to the woman who cooks everything you could possibly imagine, with a new specialty in quirky sweets like white-chocolate covered Chinese crispy noodle bunches. To my mother who dealt with me through my oh-so-lovely teenage years, and saved my rear-end from all sorts of trouble. To my mom who isn’t afraid to slap a little sense into me when I really need it, literally. To the mommy who always finds me the best frog figurines, unusual bacon treats, and post-it notes that proclaim, ‘Jellyfish are awesome!’ In short, to the perfect mother.

It took a lot of work, but Mom, I think you whipped us up into two pretty darn good daughters. Thank you for forcing us to cook family dinners once a week, and thank you for sending me little packages filled with love, it always makes my day to get something in my mail from you. Thank you for your unwavering generosity, your dedication to your family, your constant support of everything I do, and your timeless beauty, which I hopefully inherited. And thank you for always taking my side, even when Daddy’s right.

Mommy, I love you. And Eric O’Rear says ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to you as well. Happy Mother’s Day to all my mommy readers, and to all the women in my life. Lori Welbon, Happy Mother’s Day to you, and thank you for reading my site, Will always tells me that you’re a fan, and you are wonderful for that!

A very, very special Happy Mothers Day para mi abuela. Mama, te quiero con todo mi corazon. Espero poder visitar Miami en junio, por que queiro dar muchos besos y brazos a ti. Tu eres el mejor abuela en todo el mundo! Soy una nieta de suerte. Look at this woman, she’s absolutely beautiful. Eighty-million years old, and the woman has less wrinkles than I do thanks to a relentless regime of moisturizing and avoiding the sun. She’s my hero.

Happy Mother’s Day to all! Readers, get off my blog and go call your mother!

Get your guacamole, hot chocolate and bear beanies at the Pinecrest Farmers Market

For months, my mom kept bragging about the tasty treats she would collect every Sunday morning at the Pinecrest Farmers Market in my hometown of Miami, FL. Finally, over winter break, I was able to join her on one of these early morning excursions to the market at the newly renovated Pinecrest Gardens.

This place has everything you’d expect at a farmers market in a surprisingly small collection of vendors. I headed directly to Anita’s Guacamole stand, which I highly recommend. The fresh avocado tasted like it had just been plucked from the tree. Conveniently, the stand sat next to a Colombian pastry vendor who served me a fabulous empanada – two of my favorite treats within 5 feet of each other? Heaven.

The best find came when we stumbled upon this eccentric woman’s tent filled with felt and knit trinkets. She had rows of creature-inspired beanies, baby elf shoes, felt flowers, coin purses – you name it.

My sister and I fell smitten with the beanies. We tried on bunnies, frogs and pink pigs before Sarah settled on a lion hat and I opted for a golden bear beanie. My selection was a perfect fit for my lifestyle; the heavily padded ‘nose’ that sits directly on my forehead acts as the perfect little helmet for when I’m climbing.

If you are in the South Miami area on a Sunday afternoon, wake up a little early and check out this fabulous market held on the former grounds of Parrot Jungle, which is now known as Pinecrest Gardens. It isn’t huge, but it has everything you need – and a few treats you might not have expected. They had gourmet hot cocoa, eco-friendly soap bars, a wide selection of exotic plants, adorable cupcakes and more. Absolutely worth waking up before noon for.

Yes, that is a BACON-COVERED TURKEY.

Folks, there are two things that I truly love in life: feasting and bacon. I headed to the Boue family Thanksgiving dinner celebration anticipating a rowdy afternoon of Cuban ruckus, but what I ended up with was the most phenomenal turkey dinner I have ever tasted. Aside from the fact that Tia Mirti managed to burn my abuela’s precious black beans, our dinner was perfect. I almost had a heart attack when the glorious turkey was summoned from the oven – this enormous hunk of bird was smothered in crispy slices of thick bacon.

Yes, my friends - that is indeed a bacon encrusted turkey. Needless to say, I was overjoyed.

It may not be the most photogenic turkey, but let me tell you – that sucker was amazing. The bacon on the top was cooked to perfection, and the turkey seemed to absorb the juicy goodness of the pork. While I will continue to rave about this turkey for days to come, the true star of our thanksgiving feast was the avocado salad made with fresh picks from our backyard tree. There are few things more satisfying than eating fruit you’ve grown and plucked from your own tree.

My family's freshly made avocado salad, topped with chopped onions, olive oil and salt.

Aside from stuffing myself with good eats, I had a great day of family and friends. The afternoon began with a gathering of my Cuban relatives, which is always guaranteed to turn into a shenanigan. Between my cousin asking inappropriate questions and our youngest cousins making a giant mess with chocolate cupcakes, it was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember. After letting my belly settle down, I stopped by my second family’s house to surprise the Harringtons. I have never been greeted with such warmth and adoration in my life, Kurt and Dena are truly second parents to me.

I ended the evening at my friend Xue’s swanky new digs in downtown Miami on Biscayne Boulevard. As we passed a bottle of red wine around our cozy circle of comrades, Xue’s girlfriend and I demanded that everyone give thanks. My companions gave thanks for their health, their income, our friendship, families and feasting. I declared my gratitude for the following: the beautiful group of people that were surrounding me, my supportive family, avocados, the cityscape of Miami, nature and my love, Niko. What are you thankful for?

Miami Photos

I apologize for my lack of updates lately – it has been a whirlwind the last few days with the Tallahassee Rock Gym’s 15th Anniversary and preparing for our trip. My To-Do list is longer than ever before, and we’ll be hitting the road tomorrow at noon, so I need to get crackin’, but I wanted to give you guys something to tide you over until I start posting updates from my travels across America.

Here are some fun shots I took at home in Miami, with my Dad’s beautiful Nikon SLR.

Many more shots after the jump!

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