Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Trip To Melia Golf Resort In Cozumel

A few weeks ago, my family weighed the pros and cons of leaving for vacation in Mexico. There were no travel bans and we had no idea where this virus was going. The vacation was paid for and it was something we had been looking forward to for many months. We decided to go forward with the trip.

The destination was Cozumel, Mexico. The resort, Melia Golf. This particular article is going to go in a slightly different direction than my usual entries. I want to give my readers a review, but also explain what the week was like.

When we got on the plane, it was nearly empty. Maybe a quarter full. I was slightly nervous, but we were heading to a place where the heat and sunshine would hopefully be to our advantage. Our arrival went smoothly. The taxi cost five dollars per person and our hotel was only a short distance from the airport.

Upon arriving at the resort, we were quickly checked in and shown to our suite. We chose to stay through RCI and would be located in the tower. Our room had a king-size bed, mini kitchen with a glass-top table for four, a bathroom with a shower, couch, television, and a balcony overlooking the ocean. We were on the twelfth floor and also had two chairs with a small table and a whirlpool located on our balcony. The room was clean and comfortable.

There were two places to eat during regular day-time hours. The buffet, or the grill. At night you could go to the buffet, or one of three restaurants which required a reservation and served Italian, Mexican, or International cuisine. My favorite of the three was the Mexican restaurant. I am gluten-free and it had the safest options and was also delectably satisfying.

The hotel offered two pools. One for adults only and one for families with children. Melia is home to a golf course as well as several other activities such as croquet, mini-golf, shuffleboard, and tennis. There is an arcade, wellness center with spa, and activity center for kids. You have three bars to choose from which include, the lobby bar, the beach bar, or the pool bar. There are quite a few chairs around the pool as well as located on the beach with umbrellas. At night there are plenty of activities to entertain your whole family.

This resort is maintained and clean. I never once felt as if anything was not clean. The food at the buffet is a limited variety, but quite satisfying. You can get ice cream if you know to ask for it. Their coconut ice cream is to die for. The staff is friendly and accommodating.

Now, on the flip-side of things. After we arrived Covid-19 changed rapidly. I barely slept for a few days before the trip and several days into it. We had family and friends messaging us and telling us that there was talk of closing the borders, which quickly became a reality. We needed to leave or risk being trapped in Mexico. The resort became more and more empty each day. We arrived on a Monday and by Thursday people were filing out. On Saturday morning we decided we needed to leave. We booked a flight home for Monday; we couldn’t get out any sooner. I finally slept that night.

The day before we left, the place was desolate. The only dining option was in the buffet, which became a cook to order situation where you were given a menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The grill was still running, but that was it. We heard that the resort would be closing down on Tuesday. My heart goes out to all the workers who were told they would be going on vacation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Being on an island during such a crazy time was interesting. We had the place nearly to ourselves. I have never seen so many empty beach chairs in my life. We made some new friends and I know I will never forget this trip. I cannot tell my readers how packed this place is during normal circumstances. It is a small resort with limited seating, but it’s beautiful and clean. I hope to return in the future during normal circumstances.

For more information on the Melia Cozumel Golf Resort, please visit: https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/mexico/cozumel/melia-cozumel/index.htm

Out Of The Woods & Into Your Heart

So, I will be the first to admit, I love wine. This past November we visited Cable, Wisconsin for a mini getaway for our five-year-anniversary. We researched the area to find some fun places to visit and I was quite pleased to find Out of the Woods Winery, which is located thirty minutes away in Hayward, Wisconsin. As a side note, I would like to apologize for how long it has taken me to write this post. I had surgery right after our visit and life has been a bit crazy.

Neal and I walked into this establishment looking for some good wine and we got so much more. We were first greeted by Dan, who is one of the owners, along with his father and brother. He took his place behind the bar and poured us our tastings. Not only does he have wine, but also cider. We chose to taste a mixture of 7 wines and ciders.

We tasted:

  • L1: Spring Lake Sauvignon – quite dry and not my favorite, but if you love dry white wine, this might be for you.
  • L2: Tiger Cat Riesling – Great flavor. The perfect combo of sweet and slightly dry. We decided to take this bottle home and put it aside for our anniversary next year.
  • D2: Noval Black Port – I loved this wine! It has a taste of dark chocolate covered cherries. It’s sweet but not too sweet. My husband wasn’t as into it as I was, so I didn’t buy a bottle, but will definitely go back for a glass next time we are in town.
  • C2: Nektar Zombie Killer – This cider has a prominent honey flavor and is the perfect mix of sweet and tart. It was my favorite cider.
  • C3: Rekorderling Strawberry Lime – This is their most popular cider. You can taste both strawberry and lime. It’s sweet but not in an overpowering way.
  • C5: Wyders Dry Pear – This cider has a very light flavor and is too light for me. Dan tells us that it’s great mixed with the Belgian Saison.
  • C6: The Cider Farm Belgian Saison – Tastes like black licorice. The flavor is soft, but on the metallic floral end. I am not a fan of floral flavors, so this doesn’t cut it for me.
  • C5 & C6: Wyders Dry Pear & The Cider Farm Belgian Saison – Definitely cut the wild flavor of the Saison, but isn’t something I would go out of my way for. Simply not my thing.

After we completed our tasting, Dan offered to let us try some items he was debating on carrying. We were delighted to give our thoughts.

Bonus Tasting:

  • Omme Gang Brewery: Rose Cider – Definitely dry and a little bitter, but it would make a nice refreshing gluten-free choice. I would drink it on a hot summer day. I say it’s a keeper.
  • Wild Tonic Hard Jun Kombucha – Nice flavor. It’s sweet and unlike what I expected from a Kombucha. It would compete well with the ciders and it’s a healthy alternative.
  • SKOL Red (from Chateau St. Croix Winery) – This is a decent table wine, very flavorful. It smells like strawberries and has a tartness to it. I would definitely drink it if it was in stock.

Dan is charismatic, to say the least. He was able to explain each wine and cider. He told us the history of the winery. He explained how he keeps art displayed regularly throughout the winery because his late mother was an artist and a local farmer recommended hanging art. He told us, “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.”

As we tasted our way through the list of wines and ciders, we were able to listen to live music provided by John. He sings and plays acoustic as well as harmonica, each Saturday. He stayed longer than normal, simply because he felt like it. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed. You can’t help but feel as if you have become part of the family. As I look out the window, I see Dan’s father and his brother Jess, stringing Christmas lights. We couldn’t have asked for a more memorable experience. Out of the Woods Winery has truly captured our hearts.

For more information on Out of the Woods Winery, please visit: https://www.outofthewoodswinery.com/

October Luxury Divas Box – Yes!

It’s month number two and I have received my Luxury Divas Box.  I am excited to say that I loved everything in this box and I am stoked that I decided to do a three month membership. The three month membership saves you five dollars per box, which brings the total down to thirty dollars per month.

This box came with the following: Red Luxury Divas slouchy hat, white fuzzy boot socks, a beautiful silver mesh bracelet, a pair of dangly caged crystal earrings, a black and purple crossbody bag, and a burgundy choker style top which fits great. I have no complaints. They also sent me a ten dollar gift certificate for the Luxury Divas site, because October is my birth month. I immediately went online and bought a beautiful ankle bracelet. I cannot wait until it comes. I plan to wear it in Las Vegas around the pool.

Here are the things I love about this company. They ship promptly. They take into consideration the colors you like and the type of style you wear. They give you a little something extra for your birthday. They write you a personalized note each month and they give you a sheet that tells you about each product and its value. I promptly emailed Marina, my curator, and told her how well she did. They also send you a little treat in each box, which was candy corn this month.

If you like accessories and you don’t want to break the bank on a monthly box subscription, I highly recommend Luxury Divas. The items fit well and I feel they are practical. I think you will find the experience refreshing. This is a company I feel good about. If you would like to see more images of the items from the October box, please visit my Facebook page. I will be posting images as soon as possible. https://www.facebook.com/starspiritadventures/

For more information, please visit: https://www.luxurydivas.com/

Extreme Zip Lining

This past June, while planning a visit to Colorado, my husband and I found ourselves perusing the internet looking for fun activities. He happened to find a Groupon for Royal Gorge Zip Line. Since I had never seen Royal Gorge previously, I thought it might be a fun day trip from Vale. He asked me if I would like to take part in the ‘Extreme Zip Line Tour,’ and I said yes. Basically these zip lines are faster and longer than most others. What he failed to tell me was that there would be a seventy foot tower at the very end, and only two ways down.

This definitely is not a mild course. As I said, it is extreme. There is some hiking involved, so if you use an inhaler I would recommend you bring it along. The hiking goes pretty fast, though the climbs are intense at times. The crew provides plenty of water along the way and a small snack after the largest jaunt. The fastest line can reach up to sixty miles per hour, and the longest line is over a third of a mile long. This course does have weight stipulations. You must be between seventy-five and two-hundred-and-fifty pounds.

The lines are an absolute blast and our guides, Michaela and Sami, were hilarious. They were knowledgeable and they kept us laughing all while maintaining our safety. Sami will cheer you on the whole way and Michaela will make jokes to lighten your hike. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a one-of-a-kind experience.

As I said earlier, the tower at the end of the course is seventy feet tall. Upon arriving at the tower I had no idea that there were only two ways down. None of which is a ladder. You have to jump. There is no way around it. The only question is whether or not it’s a slow belay down or a free-fall and then belaying the rest of the way. I chose to jump. They told me that going backwards sometimes is easier if you are afraid of heights, which I am. I decided that backwards was my best option. I made a mistake. Instead of hopping back off the tower I let myself fall backwards. My feet did not leave the tower as I was falling, and very quickly I was upside down thinking, “Oh, F—! I don’t think I’m supposed to be upside down.” Pardon my internal monologue. I was a little panicked as my brain quickly whipped through what I knew was coming next. The strap tightened and my body was instantaneously jerked back around to an upright position. I had a nice burn on the back of my shoulder, but I didn’t break or dislocate anything, so I’ll call it a success.

After I was safely on the ground I looked up to see my husband standing on the edge of the tower. This man is a dare-devil and he stands atop mountain peaks on a regular basis. I saw him pause briefly as he took in the distance to the ground. It is definitely an adrenaline rush. No one wanted to jump off the tower immediately, but I will tell you one thing, it goes so fast you barely realize what happened. His jump was more graceful than mine. Everyone’s jump was more graceful than mine, but at least I can say I did it. I had fun and made some great memories. If you want to face your fear of heights, check out this course. You won’t be sorry… or maybe you will. Either way, you’ll be jumping off a 70 foot tower before the adventure’s end.

For more information on Royal Gorge Zip Line Tours, visit: https://royalgorgeziplinetours.com/

 

LD – Box One – Loving It!

Hey friends! Today I’m doing something new. Those of you who follow my blog know that I like to post articles about places I have visited. Beyond travel, I also have a strong love for fine food, art, wine, and don’t get me started on my love for hats, lingerie, shoes, jewelry, and purses. Honestly, my accessory love has grown immensely, which is why I am here today to review the Luxury Divas Box.

My first box arrived this afternoon, and boy was I stoked! This box is $34.99/month, or slightly less if you subscribe for three months at a time. I like this subscription, because unlike other fashion boxes, you get to keep everything they send you. It’s a whole lot more than accessories.

My box contained seven items, literature that explained each item’s value, and a description of why they chose the items they did for the current month. This is what I received: Long grey knit cardigan with pockets, a gold leaf necklace, a black, white, and rose gold watch with silicone band, a black and white Luxury Divas canvas tote, an Italia Deluxe Lashes For Daze waterproof mascara, and a blue multicolor art deco scarf. There was also a wonderful personalized note from the curator and some gummy bears to go with it.

Now, of all the items I like the tote, mascara, and necklace the most because they fit me well. The tote is black and white and simple. It’s made from recycled canvas, which is a huge bonus in my world, and hopefully yours. The leaf necklace is an item I would have bought myself, and I did. I own a smaller version in copper. I love it because, as most people know, I’m a hiker and I love me some Colorado nature. My third favorite is the mascara. It does exactly as it says. End of story.

Moving on to the items I haven’t expressed my undying love for. The cardigan is cute, but it’s also long and I am 5’3” so that means I need to wear heels when I wear it. I love that it has pockets and that it would dress up a cute t-shirt. It’s definitely versatile. No real complaints though, I am definitely still excited to try it out. The watch is a love hate situation for me. I love the colors and the look. I hate that I don’t wear watches and that the band is silicone. Everything sticks to silicone. My cat might be wearing it right now. One thing is for sure; he will look fashionable. In all seriousness, I promise to wear the watch sometime because it is cute. The last item is my least favorite. I am not fond of the scarf because it feels like a summer item and despite my somewhat wild personality, I don’t care for the wild colors for regular wear. Being that it’s Fall, I would have appreciated something fuzzy over sheer. I think I may wear the scarf as a swim wrap when I go to Mexico in March, or use it as a decorative table covering. I will play with it and see what I come up with.

Overall, I liked the box and I plan to become a subscriber. It feels personalized with the inclusion of the note and friendly gesture of sending gummy bears. This is a company that feels warm and fuzzy. I want to see what else they have up their sleeves.

Within the next week I will get some photos of the above items being used. Once posted, you can view them here: https://www.facebook.com/starspiritadventures/

For more information on Luxury Divas, please visit: https://www.luxurydivas.com/

Maggie’s In Bayfield, Wisconsin

This past May, my husband and I took a trip up to Bayfield because we were on a mission to see several waterfalls in Wisconsin and Michigan. While bumming around the town, we asked locals what they suggested for a decent place to grab a snack. Maggie’s and one other place, of which I cannot recall the name, were the top options.

After some debate we ate at Maggie’s. My first impression was that we had made a great choice because the atmosphere was fun with a tropical flare. There were quirky decorations and flamingos on almost every surface. I was pleased upon inspecting the menu, because they had some decent gluten-free options.

Our waitress came to the table to take our orders, and I discussed the gluten-free menu items with her. In the end, I told her I would like to go with a pepperoni and pineapple gluten-free pizza and a piece of the flourless chocolate torte. I was sure to tell her I have a gluten intolerance. My husband ordered a burger and onion rings.

The food did not come out as quickly as we would have liked, but it wasn’t a ridiculous waiting period either. At first bite of my pizza it was clear that the crust was barely cooked. The majority of the center was still raw dough and hardly warm. I flagged our waitress down and let her know that it was not completely cooked. She simply stared at me and offered no thoughts, so, feeling slightly irritated and hating to make a scene or send food back, I brushed it aside and said, ‘fine, I’ll just eat it without the crust’. I was not thrilled since they charged me extra for an uncooked gluten-free crust. I know that I should have made a bigger deal about this and that it is my fault for settling, but I have learned my lesson and will speak up more if this ever happens again.

My husband liked his food. He said the onion rings were decent, and the burger was filling. I was not happy with my food. At one point a manager stopped by our table and asked how things were. I told him the crust on my pizza was not cooked. The waitress came over and got involved in the conversation saying that the cook asked if I had wanted it cooked longer and she told the cook I was fine with it the way it was. The manager walked away, and I became quite irritated to find she didn’t even give me the option to put it back in the oven, and that the manager would brush this off. On top of it all she asked if we wanted dessert, which I had ordered with my pizza and never received. I said no, and we paid our bill and left. They charged us the full amount for the crust that was inedible.

I rarely complain about service at restaurants, and I like to give staff the benefit of the doubt if things are busy and get a little rocky, but this place was not busy and they have no excuse for their horrible service. I have never been so letdown by a waitress in my life, not to mention the manager who did nothing. There is no excuse for poor food when it’s brought to the waitress and manager’s attention. Restaurants rely on positive experiences and word of mouth to bring in new people.

If you happen to visit Bayfield and Maggies, feel free to let me know what your experience was like. This may have been an isolated incident but I’m struggling to find the desire to visit Maggie’s ever again.

For more information on Maggies, please visit: https://www.maggies-bayfield.com/

Puerto Vallarta City Tour

This past March my family decided to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. None of us had ever visited Puerto Vallarta previously, but we have all come to agreement that we will definitely be returning in the future. The trip was so much fun we can hardly wait to go back.

Now, I’m not much for all day tours of the cities I visit. I usually prefer to explore on my own, but we were given a free city tour when we booked another excursion through our hotel. The funny thing is I enjoyed the city tour more than the snorkeling excursion we went on. I highly recommend the city tour if you are visiting Puerto Vallarta for the first time.

The particular tour we went on departed in the morning by air-conditioned bus. We drove down to the boardwalk where we were given some time to take pictures and look at sculptures. We walked across the road to a beautiful church and then got back on the bus and went to several other locations.

We were able to visit a jewelry store, with open bar. We went to a candy shop where we got to try several local treats. We toured a tequila distillery and tasted seven different tequilas and then we ate lunch on location. Lunch was of our own expense, but totally worth it. There were several food choices which were all served family style. We ate shrimp, chicken, beef, and pork. There were also seafood options available, and the prices were minimal. After lunch we made a final stop at a coffee plantation where we were able to try some organic coffee and flavored tequila.

This tour has a little bit of everything included. We definitely got plenty to eat and drink. Our guide spoke both English and Spanish and he was also quite the comedian. He gave us tons of information about Puerto Vallarta which included stories about some of the rich and famous who had inhabited homes on the countryside. The views were beautiful and I would even partake in this tour a second time around, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

For more information on the tour, please visit: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g150793-d11485712-Full_Day_Puerto_Vallarta_City_Highlights_Tour-Puerto_Vallarta.html

The Spirit Of The Holidays

Ho ho holidays. It’s that time again. Remember when you were a child, and the holidays seemed to be all about gifts and the magic of what could be inside those neatly wrapped packages? Heaven forbid it was a sweater.

I remember one Christmas when my sister was young. Grandma Ambers gave her a gift to open; she was probably about four years old. My sister, eyes glistening, tore into the package like her entire magical future might be hiding inside of it. Opening the lid she peered into the magical box and I watched as the excitement faded from her eyes. She pulled out a sweater that my grandmother thought to be, “just darling.” Raising the sweater up from the box her response was, “that’s not a very nice present.” I’m pretty sure I lost myself in uncontrollable laughter.

Children don’t always understand what the holidays are about, and honestly, neither do adults. The holiday season is about love. Every single day should really be about love. This past year I saw more death than I’ve seen in all of my thirty-six years put together. We don’t know how much time we have, and while we receive reminders of that short amount of time, are we really living our lives to the fullest?

I buy gifts for loved ones because I enjoy trying to find something I know they will love receiving, but in all honesty, what matters, in the end, is that we come together and spend time with the people we care about. We don’t know if our brother- and sister-in-law will be with us next Christmas, or if we’ll have the same home, or if we’ll even live in the same state as one another. What we do know is that we can tell the people we love how much we care and show them through our laughter and communion together.

Instead of worrying about things being perfect (I know you will anyway) go out and enjoy meals together. Drive around looking at holiday lights. Drink homemade hot cocoa by the fireside while playing a game. Go Christmas Caroling (that’s a dying pass-time that should be resurrected). Go sledding and build a snowman. Put down your phone. I repeat, put down your phone. People are getting tendonitis from overuse of their phones (I’m one of them). Have a silly photo shoot where you wear holiday gear, antlers, elf hats, etc, and make funny signs to hold up (if need be, use your phone for this). Bake holiday treats together while listening to holiday music. Cook some new recipes and sip wine together (if you’re of age). Heck, go on a wine tasting (but be responsible). Whatever you do, remember it’s about the fun and magic of the season. It’s about being together and that doesn’t have to cost anything.

As we move into the New Year, I am thankful for my life and that I’m still alive. I am thankful for my family and friends who are still here. I am thankful for my cat, Draco. I am thankful that I am following my dream of writing. This is my challenge for you: start living your life to its fullest. Be kind to others. Don’t do the things you hate doing, do more of the things you love. Take care of yourself. You never know if tomorrow will come.

Love to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. Now go out and make happy memories! Oh, and if you’re one of those people who loves someone but you haven’t told them, maybe go out and do that as well (the movie, Love Actually, can help you with that).

***Image is from Jolly Holiday Lights by Make A Wish, in Altoona, IA. (check it out if you’re in the area).

http://iowa.wish.org/news-and-events/calendar-of-events/november/event-detail-page

***Also check out Christmas Village in Irvine Park if you’re in the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls, WI area.

http://www.chippewafalls-wi.gov/your-government/parks-recreation-forestry/irvine-park/christmas-village/about-christmas-village

Fun At The Lumberyard Pub

Last week I wrote an article about Ladies Night at The Historic Afton Inn. To go along with that article I would like to let people know about another of my Ladies Night favorites. This one is a lot of fun and it combines two of my loves; purses and Bingo.

If you like playing Bingo you have got to check out the Lumberyard Pub. The Lumberyard hosts Coach Purse Bingo every third Thursday of the month. To make things even more exciting, each person receives a ticket and a chance to win a free beverage. The atmosphere is fun and definitely has its regular patrons whom you will hear hooting and hollering when they win a prized purse or drink for that matter.

Aside from winning purses and free beverages, the food at the Lumberyard is awesome. They have Wisconsin cheese curds, wings, nachos, sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads, just to name a few items. I haven’t eaten anything that I didn’t love. All of their food is great as well as the service.

Come on out, bring your friends, have some fun. The Lumberyard is a great place to spend an evening.

For more information on the Lumberyard Pub, please visit: http://lumberyardpubafton.com/

Ladies Night At The Historic Afton House Inn

If you live in eastern Minnesota or western Wisconsin and you are looking for something fun to do with your ladies, or maybe even your significant other, come on out to Afton, Minnesota the third Thursday of each month and take part in Ladies Night.

Start your evening off right by checking into, The Historic Afton House Inn. You cannot go wrong with one of their whirlpool suites. Men will feel encouraged to join in if they know all of the excitement and fun involved. This Inn has twenty-one uniquely decorated Jacuzzi suites. Some of the rooms have river views as well as fireplace, and a patio, or balcony. I personally like to use this event for date night because honestly we both have a great time.

After check-in wander through the inn to Current Restaurant for Happy Hour, where you will find great specials on appetizers and drinks. I can personally vouch for the food at Current, it is quite delectable. The low lit room provides a nice ambiance for reconnecting with loved ones, and the service is excellent.

If you are a wine lover, you absolutely must head over to Swirl, which is located inside the inn. They offer a free wine tasting for Ladies Night, but don’t worry men, you won’t be excluded. The tasting consists of a variety of different red and white wines. My favorite by far was the, 2012 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc, which is a nice crisp and refreshing Chilean white wine. Despite having a clear favorite, I greatly enjoyed all of the different wines on the list. Aside from the wine, Swirl has a great atmosphere with wonderfully attentive sommeliers. They also serve food, which I hear, great things about, but have not yet had the pleasure of trying. Rest assured I will be back to visit in the near future and I will do a more in-depth article on this lovely little wine bar.

Other fun things included in this evening are door prizes and games, as well as a variety of sidewalk vendors. You can even take in some free music on the patio outside of Swirl. This month ladies night will take place on July 19th and the giveaway will be for 187ml bottles of Blanc De Bleu.

After you have had your fill of the wonderful Ladies Night activities, you can purchase a bottle of wine to take back to your Jacuzzi suite and enjoy as you soak away any stress from the week. You will sleep well on the comfy beds which feature, My Pillows, and wake feeling refreshed and ready for the inn’s included, hot and tasty breakfast. Breakfast often features: coffee, tea, juice, fruit and yogurt parfait, and some form of egg omelet or frittata.

I have a history of traveling to many different towns and trying out the bed and breakfasts. This particular experience is one of my favorites, because this inn has a certain charm to it and there are so many things to do in one setting. Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

https://aftonhouseinn.com/

http://www.swirlmywine.com/