Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Memorable Road Trip to West Palm Beach

In the 4+ years I have lived here, I am shocked we have never gone to Florida. Sweet, beautiful, southern Florida is just 10 or so hours away. I absolutely love West Palm. I love the beach. I'd move there in a heartbeat. We met our friends, Josh & Theresa, last fall when they started coming to our Shepherding Group. I'll never forget one of my first conversations with Theresa.. She told me, "I'm pretty sure our husband's are going to be best friends". I believed her, because I knew how much fun Justin had with Josh at a Guy's Night a couple weeks before. I joked back at her, "Maybe even a bro-mance.. " Haha! Sure enough, they have become some of our bestest (yes, I know that's not a word but I don't care.) friends in Greenville. 

Josh and Teree moved here from West Palm Beach just less than a year ago, and had mentioned that we should to a trip sometime. Uhmm hello!! YES! We finally began planning a little long-weekend road trip, found a sitter for Romeo and left on Wednesday (Justin's birthday), and came back Sunday (the day before my birthday). Obviously, we had a blast!

We packed up their car and hit the road. We made the mistake of leaving while hungry, so we had to stop for food before we even left town. We stopped at a little diner/restaurant, Coach House, since J & T kept saying it would "Literally take 5 minutes!" and "They are super fast!" So we stopped. 30 minutes later (haha) we had our food. It was perfectly fine though, because the food was delish and we were starving. West Palm Beach, here we come!!

We were making pretty good time, guys in the front, girls in the back, rocking to some "name that band/song", when we realize that we somehow missed the exit for I95. I suppose all the excitement and song-guessing tuned out the GPS, and we found ourselves about 20 miles from Charleston. Ha! Poor Josh! No worries, though, 9:30pm was still early enough. We took advantage of our accidental detour and made the impulsive decision to stop in one of our favorite places in the world.. Folly Beach! Josh and Tegree had never been before, so it was extra exciting!

As we were about to get back on the road, we drove by a cute little crepe stand and decided to stop for a little snack!

Back on the road, more "name that band/song" and lots of laughs, before rolling into West Palm Beach as the sun was coming up. Chipest!

J & T had set us all up a place to stay.. An old friend of Theresa's from when they lived in WPB before, who was leaving out of town for the weekend, so we had the house to ourselves. The house was pretty cool! It was right on the intracoastal, with a unique layout and an open rooftop. We caught up on a little sleep before getting some lunch and hitting the beach.

I was totally craving Subway, until Theresa started raving about one of her favorite places, "Pollo Tropical". We went for it, and holy cow. YUM. Chicken, salad, plantains, absolutely delish.

Finally, we headed to the beach, which was honestly only a few minutes away. The drive to the coast was so beautiful.. One of my favorite shots was right near Palm Beach Atlantic University (a school I considered transferring to!) and City Place (more on that later). I just loved how the palms lined the road.. I really do picture the road leading to Heaven looking pretty dang similar. The weather was purely amazing. 80's and sunny every day. I was so very ready to get my tan on.

After we parked, we had to make a couple-block-walk to the actual beach entrance. It was our perfect opportunity to discuss our theories about LOST, since we've started watching it all over again with Josh and Teree. So good, even the second time around! We had a pretty good laugh the first time we walked it, because there was this shady looking lady parked in a rickety old car, right by the entrance to the beach. We kept calling her one of "The Others" since she seemed like she was up to no good. Ha!

Yay beach! Within seconds of deciding were to park our towels/blankets/beach bags, we began dropping all of our stuff and I quickly grabbed my camera to take some pictures. Little did I know, there was a woman lying just past a little sand bump, completely topless. I seriously didn't know as I was taking picture after picture, and I heard Theresa say, "Hoooahhh.. guess there's a.. umm.. topless lady over there". I immediately thought, Oh crap! I hope those people didn't think I was deliberately taking photos of her without her shirt on! and thank the Lord I didn't. This was one of the few I took, and that lucky little sand "hill" only captured her knees. They probably did think I was taking pictures on purpose, because she quickly put a shirt on and they left. Either that, or she was irritated that she could no longer lay there without clothes on. Oh whatever, Ms. Topless, go buy a shirt.

The beach was glorious, as it always is. We relaxed and walked up and down the shore before calling it a day.

On our way back to the house, we stopped at Henry Flagler's "winter home", so Theresa could show us this incredible tree she calls the "Hand of God". Flagler's home and grounds were so beautiful it was a crime, and the tree ended up being pretty crazy! Seriously, it reminded me of a giant dinosaur.

For dinner, we had gone back and forth about where to eat. Theresa had raved about this place, The Food Shack, but we were tight on time and were pretty sure we'd miss the cut off for getting our names in, since there is always a wait and they don't take over-the-phone reservations. Chipest. We rushed and made it with a couple minutes to spare. We had a fun little "St. Patty's drink" at the place connected next door and listened to live music while we waited for a table.

The atmosphere of the place was so much fun! I especially loved the how unique menu and all of the food was...

Theresa knew from the start. Obviously, Justin and I had never been there and neither had Josh, so we spent quite a while deciding what we wanted to order. We were pretty excited, trying new things, mostly lots of different seafood options.  Our long-awaited food finally came, and turned out, we all had ordered soup. SOUP! We had no idea we ordered soup! It was pretty hysterical (and confusing at first), but it was pretty tasty, despite expecting some voluptuous, seafood-loaded, saucy pasta. Their faces show it all in the next picture.. "Yaaayy.. Soup."

One of my favorite parts of the trip, was our constant listening to Bob Marley. Nothing like some reggae when traveling around FL and hanging at the beach everyday. He was our best friend, especially Theresa's. "I love Bob!!"

We spent the next (extremely warm) morning back in West Palm Beach and the afternoon in Delray. All I kept saying was that I wanted lunch 'by the beach'. I couldn't believe there were barely any boardwalks or beach-side restaurants like there are in California! We decided to eat at Boston's, which was beach-VIEW, and absolutely perfection. We stuffed ourselves full of beer-battered chicken and shrimp and thousands of sweet potato fries. After lunch, we walked for a while around some of the shops. We ended the perfect afternoon with another hour or so on the beach, playing catch and reading gossip mags. Doesn't get much better.

Back at the house, we got ready and planned to head to City Place for apps and some shopping. The view from the home was so incredible. In fact, I spent every morning up there, drinking my coffee and eating breakfast while I "pre-tanned". Ha! Gorgeous view of the intracoastal.

I kept picturing City Place as just a big mall, but after J & T explained it to me for the 12th time, I learned it was more of a mini city.. outdoor shopping and restaurants, live music, etc. It was a lot of fun! We made it a little too late, to catch any of the stores before they closed, but it was all good. There was a band covering a bunch of Black Eyed Peas songs, people everywhere. We had fun walking around before deciding to eat at Cheesecake Factory.

My sweet little husband secretly told our waitress it was my birthday (2 days away..) and they came to our table singing with a tropical drink and an insanely-good piece of 7-layer cake. What a sweet, evening with friends! We planned to head to Miami for a mini tour from Josh, but it kept getting later and later. Our deal-breaker was 'leaving it up to fate' as we each drew a yes or no out of a bag, telling us whether or not we should take the hour-drive to Miami, or just stay home and watch LOST in our sweats. We ended up staying home. Boo! I was ready to go, 1:30am or not! It really was OK, though.. Another great night of sharing what God's been doing in our lives and praying together. There's always next time..Miami's not goin' anywhere!

The next day, just the guys and I went to the beach (in West Palm) to lay out, while Theresa ran some errands and got a few things done. She and one of her good friends, Gina, came to pick us up at the beach later that afternoon, so we could shower and eat before heading to a big family gathering -- Josh's Aunt's birthday party!

How cute is the house we stayed at? Loved the yellow and all the palm trees!

We spent our last evening getting to know Josh's family over a fun at a huge barbecue (30+ people) and backyard karaoke. Justin and I kept saying how we felt like we were in a movie!

The whole evening was pretty entertaining..

  • Comparing tans with Josh's uncle (whom I named Frank the Tank)
  • Watching a table literally collapse and cleaning up a gigantic spilled mess
  • Applauding the brave souls who sang karaoke (and getting a kick out of the ones who sang every other song)
  • Finally meeting Josh's brother and his daughter named Alana!
  • Meeting a crazy cousin he talks about all the time
  • Seeing the "crazy moon" in it's once-in-10 years-rareness
  • Italian accents
  • Raving to people about a 'fantastic meat dip' that was served, later finding out it was meatless and made with soy (yrrkd!)
  • Justin and Josh having their first Cuban with another uncle
  • Slipping in yrrkd! and chipest when the times were right
  • Getting to know another cousin who carried a lizard on his shoulder all night and spoke of  his dreams of getting multiple lizard tattoos
  • Neighbors shouting over the fence to turn down the music down at 9pm, yelling "people are trying to sleep, ya know!!!"
  • Helping another cousin prepare more food and checking out a massive wine collection, meeting her hubby who looked like Jack Black's identical twin
  • Italian kisses and goodbyes

The next morning, I enjoyed a couple last hours soaking up sunlight before we had to leave. We cleaned and packed up later than planned (of course!) and finally hit the road again. The ride back was just as fun as the ride there, despite some funky noises coming from Josh's poor car! We stopped to grab some food and later, the guys checked it out the car while I strategically threw Cheeto's at them.

Back on the road, I tried to teach Theresa everything she needed to know about celebrities and celeb gossip. Before sunset, we giggled our hearts out, in the backseat, as we played M.A.S.H. and then forced our hubbies to play too. We played some more "name that band/song", and Tegree ("Heeyy Tegree...") blew the guys away by beating them to an answer, when they totally thought she was passed out! We laughed so hard at Josh's reaction and knowledge of the answer.. especially when he pulled completely over to address what had just happened. So funny! More late night snacks and final 'goodbyes' before running to pick up Romeo at our friend's place at 1am.

It was such an incredibly fun trip! Can't take another one again soon.. New Yawk, maybe???


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