Girls’ Weekend Port Clinton and Put-in-Bay

My annual tradition of spending a long weekend somewhere with girlfriends has come around full circle this past weekend, when myself and three friends drove from Cincinnati to Port Clinton, Ohio, and eventually ferried over to Put-in-Bay, where we began the tradition 22 years ago!  I don’t remember much about that weekend so many years ago, other than visiting the Marblehead Lighthouse, driving a golf cart around, and listening to a band on a beer splashed floor in a dark bar in the middle of the day.  This time was different.  We still had fun, in fact, we had more fun this time!  Initially we were going to stay on the South Bass Island where the village of Put-in-Bay is located, but with only a couple of months notice for planning the trip (creating a lack of options) and wanting to get some sleep, since many of the hotels are located near loud bars, I booked a condo through Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) in Port Clinton, located within walking distance (15 mins.) to the Jet Express for the 25 min. trip over.  After settling in and having a delicious lunch prepared by one of the “girls” at the condo, we made a drink and headed down to the pool and hot tub for some relaxation.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather…80 degrees and sunny afternoons!

We freshened up and headed out to the Mon Ami Winery, located a short 10-15 min. drive from our condo.

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Seacrest Beach, Florida…Ahhhh!

I arrived in Seacrest Beach, Florida at noon Central Standard Time on the 7th after a 7 hour drive from Savannah.  I remembered I had audio books on my I-Pod which made the last couple of hours go by quickly.  Seacrest is located in between Destin and Panama City beaches…Rosemary Beach is a few blocks to the East.

I’ve never been to the Panhandle of Florida and am delighted with the area!  The sand is soooo white!  I called a few Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) properties and negotiated a rate of $350 inclusive of tax and cleaning for a week’s stay!  The owner even included use of her bicycle during my stay because I asked.

This isn’t their busy season, but the weather is supposed to be 70-75 degrees during the day and 50-60 degrees at night.  Perfect for walking/jogging on the beach and bicycling on the 18 mile stretch between the beach towns.

This is the view from the balcony of my studio condo.  The ocean is a couple of blocks away.

There’s a “Murphy bed” (it pulls down from the wall/hidden behind doors during the day) behind where I stood to take the photo.

After I unpacked, the hot tub was calling my name!  I basically have the place to myself.  I saw one other person walking their dog.  I hope I don’t get lonely! 😦

I know…it’s hard to feel sorry for someone in a place like this!

The grocery is located about 5 miles from the condo and I purchased my week’s supply of food.  Eggs for omelets–homemade blueberry preserves–fresh strawberries, blueberries and yogurt for smoothies–Boar’s Head Chipotle Chicken lunch meat, cheese, and freshly baked bread Italian 5 grain bread for sandwiches–crisp romaine lettuce, avocado, tomato, red bell pepper, squash, and cucumber for salads–a frozen organic Mediterranean pizza–a frozen lemon & dill wild caught salmon–baby peas–a frozen P.F. Chang’s Shrimp Lo Mein dinner–Crunchy Shrimp Sushi–and Coco Lopez cream of coconut, pineapple pieces and rum for Pina Coladas!

After putting the groceries away, I ate the Sushi for dinner and noticed the sun was getting lower in the sky.  I was informed that the beach access was 1 block East and then 1 block South, but I shimmied through the gate of a community right across the street (bad Sherry)!

Here are my photos…

Can you say…Ahhhh!

p.s.  I realized there is no oven/stove here.  She does have a George Foreman type grill, a toaster oven, and microwave!

Reasons to book a “Vacation Rental by Owner” VRBO

Whenever I travel, I typically book a “Vacation Rental By Owner” (VRBO) for lodging.  Some of the reasons why they are a superior choice over hotels are:

  • They are almost always less expensive;
  • They have a kitchen (full house);
  • You’re helping individual businesses…rather than large chains; and
  • You can usually find one located in a unique part of the City.

My girls’ weekend trip to Lexington, Kentucky this past weekend was no exception.  For a three bedroom 2 1/2 bath home, located in the Chevy Chase district of Lexington, just a few miles from the center of downtown, we only paid $475 for two nights, which included the house cleaning fee.  The next few photos are where we stayed…

This was the bedroom I slept in.

Everything was updated and we all loved the decor!

This eclectic bookstore was located down the street from our rental…as well as quite a few restaurants and other boutique stores!

In Cincinnati we have decorative pigs everywhere and in Lexington there are horses everywhere…

I stayed at another beautiful VRBO this summer in Seattle, Washington that was located on Puget Sound.  If you’d like to check it out…click here.

Hope your weekend is great!!

Washington/British Columbia Trip – Day 1

Have you ever gone on a vacation and everything was perfect…the weather, the train pulls up just as you walk to the platform, the locations you chose to stay in, the traffic is light, the whale comes within 20 feet of your whale watching boat!  This was one of those trips.  I fell in love with the VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) in Seattle.  As you can see from the photos, the views were spectacular.

You could walk down to the beach…

The location is only a 10 minute drive from downtown Seattle and situated on the Puget Sound, in a neighborhood called Magnolia.  The first day was a little cloudy, so I was very surprised and in awe the morning of Day 2, when I looked to the South from the picture windows and rising, like an apparition, was Mt. Rainier, in all of its glory.  I had no idea it would be so dramatic and spiritual in nature.

We had dinner at Palisades Restaurant, which also has a lovely view.  If you have reservations for 5pm seating, it’s only $29 for a 3 course meal.  The food was good…not great.

Importance of Travel Itinerary

If you arrange your own travel plans, a Travel Itinerary is a key component of staying organized and being able to maximize your vacation time.  Below is my itinerary for an upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest.  I like to research most details ahead of time, so I don’t use valuable vacation time.

You can determine how many sights and/or activities you can squeeze in comfortably.

I use Bing or Google Maps and plan out my driving route.  My driving time is minimized because I plan my order of activities based on the driving route.  Sometimes I use it to plan my walking route if I need to see a lot in one day.

For ideas, I usually look at Frommer’s suggested itineraries and Trip Advisor, and talk to the owner of the VRBO or friends that have been there.   I also Google “itinerary” for the area and look at other people’s blogs for inspiration.  Sometimes it’s difficult to decide which places to visit because they’re all wonderful!

Spontaneity is nice, that’s why I always leave 1 or 2 days open.  Some people might prefer to plan a lot less and take it day by day, but I feel when you’re spending a lot of money, you should get to see and do as much as you can.

You’ll notice on my itinerary that we take the light rail from the airport to a car rental place downtown.  You can save hundreds of dollars by not renting the car from the airport…just another tip!

Tues

6:30 am – Leave house

9:20am  – Delta Flight leaves Cincinnati

11:10am – Arrive Seattle

(Take light rail 10 stops (36 mins) to University St. Station

BAY A then walk to 6th street to the Hilton & p/u rental car)

Stop at grocery – arrive to VRBO unit approx. 2:00pm

5:00pm – Dinner at Palisade – 1st seating $29pp

Wed

7:00am – Drive to AMGEN Co.

Walk 40 min. to Pike Place Market

Walk to Olympic Sculpture Park

Walk to Space Needle – take monorail to Seattle Center – take Monorail back to Space Needle

Walk to Edgewater Hotel for Happy Hr.        

Thur 

Walk to Discovery Park

Fri

7:00am – Drive loop around Mt. Rainier

Hike Rampart Ridge trail (4.6 miles)

Sat

  FREE DAY

Sun

6:00am –    Drive 1 ½  hrs. to Anacortes

9:00am –   Board ferry

10:00am – Arrive San Juan Islands

Drop luggage at hotel – explore Friday Harbor /  eat lunch / bicycle

Have lunch at Market Chef   or  Duck Soup Inn

3:00pm – Whale watching tour with Western Prince (3 hrs.)

OVERNIGHT: SAN JUAN ISLAND

(They have indoor pool/sauna/hot tub/free bikes)

Mon

9:00am –   Take ferry  from San Juan

10:00am – Arrive Anacortes

Drive 2  hrs. to Vancouver – arrive 1pm (with customs wait) – Eat lunch

Keep driving to Squamish towards Whistler…then drive back

OVERNIGHT: VANCOUVER

Tues

8:00am – HAVE breakfast with Mahara & Ken (friends)

Explore Granville Island – go to the sandbar restaurant under

the Granville bridge (go to The Lobster Man booth also)

1:00pm – Take 15 mile (4 1/2 hr.) bicycle tour with CycleVancouver

OVERNIGHT:  VANCOUVER

Wed

Cont’l Brft Included

10:00am – Drive 2.75 hrs. to Seattle (go thru Customs)

2:00pm  –  Arrive back at condo

Thur 

9:00am – Leave rental

12:45pm – Flight leaves

8:05pm –  Arrives Cincinnati

Grocery list:   juice; bananas (6); fruit; muffins, eggs; butter & jam; coffee; cream; chips; beer; wine;

water; trail mix; lunchmeat/bread/cheese/mayo

$1225      –  $1150 for 9 nights – $75 cleaning fee (tax included)

$320       –  Vancouver lodging (includes parking 2 nights) =

$216       –   San Juan Island lodging

$200      –  Whale Watching tour

$23        –   Ferry Fee to San Juan Islands for 2 pp round trip

$15         –   Nat’l Park Entrance Fee

$423       –  Rental Car

$100       –  Gas (approx.)

$ 12        –  Light Rail round trip for 2

$170       –  Guided Bicycle tour Vancouver for 2

$  20       – Parking Lot fee at Anacortes for 2 days

$300      –  Restaurants (approx.)

$100      –  Grocery (approx.)

$3133    –  TOTAL

What girls do on a girls’ weekend

 

This weekend I went on my annual girls’ weekend with my friends Sherry, Gina and Dee.  This was Dee’s first trip with us.  The tradition started almost 20 years ago with a trip to Put-n-Bay and the destinations have included Myrtle Beach, Red River Gorge, Ky, Indianapolis, Shawnee Nat’l Forest,  and Nashville, to name a few.  Typically, we would find a cabin with a hot tub and the weekend consisted of eating, drinking, talking and hiking.  But more recently we’ve been heading to cities for sight-seeing and listening to bands.  I’m usually in charge of finding the accommodations and booked a 3 bedroom condo in the Highlands section of Louisville for the weekend that I found through VRBO online.  It was in a great location, within walking distance to restaurants, boutiques and a large park with walking trails.

The Highlands reminds me of Yellowsprings, Ohio.  It was an eclectic blend of boutiques selling handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, books and wares from around the world; cozy coffee shops, a yoga studio, art galleries, and many restaurants that varied from Indian to Asian.

 

This painting caught my eye in one of the shops!

 

 

An interesting sign…

 

 

While walking down the street we were stopped by a local T.V. reporter wondering if we’d be interested in giving our opinion on pornography pop-ups on the internet.  So…being it was a new experience…I volunteered.  I don’t remember most of the questions, but I’ll be able to view it on their website.

 

We had fun trying hats on in one of the shops…a little pricey for me at $190 per hat!

 

 

 

It was a beautiful fall weekend for our escape…so we went hiking in Cherokee Park.

 

 

We went to a bar that caters to the over 40 crowd called Jim Porter’s Good Times Emporium.  Boasting three live bands (Pop, Rock and Blues) we had a great time dancing most of the evening!  Our husbands don’t particularly enjoy dancing…so we indulged ourselves!

 


The following evening we dressed for Halloween and our first stop was 4th Street Live in downtown Louisville.

 

 

We stopped a man on the street to take our photo before we left the condo…he was a bit shaky I believe!  As you can see, Gina was a girl scout!  But what was remarkable about it, was that it was her uniform from when she was 9 years old!

 

 

After having a very tasty dinner at the Red Star Tavern, our plan was to party downtown…but it seemed a little dead…so we took a taxi back to Jim Porter’s.

 

 

 

 

Being “Supergirl” I had to pick someone up, so I chose this girl…but the photo turned out too blurry to post!

 

 

This girl “the naked girl costume” won third place in the contest at Jim Porter’s.  I didn’t think it appropriate to take a picture of the front, although it wasn’t real!

 

 

 

 

My husband thought I should call this post “Cougar’s Weekend”!  Hope you had a Happy Halloween!