Posts Tagged: travel

Louisiana: Pie, Fried Chicken, and Some Other Things That Aren’t Food

Louisiana Mural
A few weeks ago, H. and I had the chance to visit his hometown in Louisiana. Whenever I told people where we were going, they always asked if we were going to New Orleans. But the thing is, New Orleans is, like, 6 or 7 hours from Shreveport. Shreveport’s basically in Texas. Still, though, this was the farthest south I’ve ever traveled, and I learned that the south is weird! For one, there are DRIVE THRU DAIQUIRIS.

If you’re from a state that offers these, you’re probably like, “Yeah, sure, what’s the big deal?” To that I say “ARE YOU CRAZY?” How is this normal? Serving alcoholic drinks to people who are operating motor vehicles? This is a preposterous idea!
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Oh, but it’s okay, because they tape the straw on top of it. Sure. That probably works. I mean, did I buy one? Obviously. But, as you can see here, I didn’t open it while I was in a car. I’m a rule follower.
Louisiana margarita

But there was more to Louisiana than alcohol…like food! H. was mostly excited about visiting Strawn’s, a restaurant he went to a lot as a kid that’s known for its pie. And he was right–it was great! Look at all that whipped cream.
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We also had fried chicken and black eyed peas (not the Black Eyed Peas) because, you know, we were in the south. I’m pretty sure you’re legally required to eat fried food and black eyed peas.
Louisiana Strawns

We also went to Southern Maid donuts because we saw them on a list of best donut places (whatever…don’t act like you’ve never looked at a list of the best donuts in the country) AND because I read that they’re the only product Elvis ever endorsed. Apparently he sang their jingle at one point, but it’s been lost to time and/or kept a secret? I don’t know if I believe it, guys. It sounds sketchy. All I know is that Elvis probably ate these donuts, and that’s good enough for me. Side note: there’s a donut place in Columbus (Buckeye Donuts!) where Prince once ate, and that’s even more exciting to me.
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How much do you love that dog pushing a donut cart? Not that I’m advocating animal labor, but Miss Merry Mary (star of TV and stage) clearly knows what’s up.

We did things other than eat, too. When H. said we could visit his cousin and ride 4-wheelers, I was like, “Hmmm…no.” I know multiple people who’ve been paralyzed or seriously injured from 4-wheelers, so I’d rather keep my distance. But then he was all, “Oh, and she has a llama named Chester,” and I said, “GRAB YOUR KEYS.”

louisiana llama

And there also goats!
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And here I am in my natural habitat, surrounded by cows.
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We got to feed them by hand and their tongues are huge.

Please don’t be fooled by my LSU attire. I still couldn’t care less about football. But sometimes relationships are about sacrifices, and that means wearing football shirts if (and only if) they look cute.
louisiana h and k

It was a great trip, but I was glad to come home and start eating food that was at least not completely unhealthy. I’m still thinking about that llama, though. Chester’s on my mind and in my heart.

Our Kauai Trip: The FOOD!

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Whenever someone asks me what the best part of Kauai was, I always take a second to think. Was it the ocean? The perfect weather? The beautiful landscapes? I don’t know why I bother even doing this, because DUH. It was the food.

I love nothing more than eating, and being in a new place with new foods was heavenly. Of course, that’s not to say that everything in Kauai was super exotic or different. There were plenty of things we’re used to having at home, and it’s not like every meal was a luau or something. One thing that surprised me about Kauai, even though it should’ve been incredibly obvious, is that a large percentage of their food is imported. Which makes sense! The island is a little over 550 square miles, so clearly they’re not going to be able to grow, farm, or produce everything. That being said, we did get a chance to try some truly amazing things.

I was pretty excited about trying fresh fruit in Kauai, since it’s not like I can get locally (or even near-locally) grown pineapples, papayas, or bananas in Columbus. For our first breakfast at our cottage, we had some pineapple and Hawaiian bananas. I also bought some Kauai Coffee, which was fantastic. If (I should say “when” and Secret this trip into existence) we go back, I’d love to take a tour of the Kauai Coffee plantation.
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We also got to try apple bananas, which basically just tasted like slightly firmer, tarter bananas to me.

There were also drinks galore, although I had very little to drink, given my recent alcohol experiences. I did have a mai tai, though, because I was in Hawaii! I had to! I also had to wear this head scarf around my head the whole time because the humidity made my bangs get extremely curly and weird looking. Fivehead, on display.
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And we stopped by the world’s Westernmost brewery.
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Weirdly enough, there were a lot of burgers in Kauai. Which was fine with us, because we both love burgers. Who doesn’t? We forgot to take pictures of Duane’s Ono Char, where we dined among the chickens and a cloudy-eyed, scrap-eating cat. We also had great burgers at Bubba’s, a Kauai chain. A bird boldly tried to steal our french fries, and H. tried to shame him by taking a picture after he flew away.
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A lot of our best meals came from roadside stands or dives so good they’d make Guy Fieri’s frosted tips melt. But we still got to try a couple of fancy (or semi-fancy) places that were amazing.

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At Postcards Cafe in Hanalei, we had grilled Mahi-Mahi with vegetable sides picked from the garden right outside the door. We also had a vegan chocolate silk pie, which was amazing on its own, but double-amazing because H. could actually eat it.

 

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We also ate at Common Ground, another place where much of the food came from on-site gardens. The entire restaurant was open, so we had a great view of the plants as we ate. H. totally had another burger here.
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When we didn’t feel like going out for dinner (a rarity, but it happened), we were able to cook in our cottage with food we bought at the grocery. Even the grocery stores are cuter in Kauai.
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One of the things I was dead-set on trying in Kauai was plate lunch. This was mostly because Barack Obama mentions it a lot, and I feel like he knows what he’s talking about, food-wise. Google told me that best plate lunch could be found at the Pono Market in Kapaa, so that’s where we went.
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(image via Trip Advisor)
Google didn’t steer me wrong. Not only was the Pono Market fantastic, but the woman working behind the counter was incredibly friendly and helpful. She explained everything on the menu to us and gave us recommendations.

My plate lunch consisted of pork laulau, lomi lomi, salmon poke, and a ton of white rice. The pork laulau is wraped in taro leaves and cooked for hours. It was phenomenal.
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Our other favorite thing? Shave ice! I’d read about it in our guide book, and I was all, “Whatever, I’ve had a snow cone.” But shave ice is a lot better than a snow cone. The only difference is the texture–shave ice is much finer than a snow cone, sort of like actual snow–but it somehow changes everything.
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We tried the guidebook’s recommended shave ice places, and while we enjoyed JoJo’s…
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We absolutely fell in love with Hawaiian Blizzard. Plus, the owner was so nice (just like everyone we met in Kauai!) and even offered to take our picture behind the stand. This is what true happiness looks like.
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Another cool thing about Kauai? It was extremely easy to eat dairy-free. Most foods didn’t have dairy to begin with, and vegan options were everywhere. Yet another reason why we should probably just live there already.

Even the McDonald’s are friendlier in Kauai.
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I’m Pretty Sure Kauai is the Best Place on Earth

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Can you believe that, in the entire 7+ years H. and I have been together, we’ve never taken a real vacation together? Sure, we’ve visited friends in their cities and gone for a few long weekends away, but not a week-off-of-work, time-to-relax-and-explore vacation. After spending a week in Kauai, I now know we were definitely missing out. Vacationing is the best, and vacationing in Kauai is the best kind of best.

We took awhile to decide where in Hawaii we wanted to honeymoon. We wanted someplace relaxing, and since we go to bed so early, nightlife wasn’t really essential. We wanted a place with gorgeous scenery and delicious food. When we found a beach-side private cottage on the North Shore of Kauai (Hawaii’s Garden Island), we knew it was a perfect fit.

The North Shore is beautiful, quiet, and super-secluded. To get to our cottage, we had to drive along a several-mile stretch of curvy highway that overlooks the ocean. It was terrifying, but also insanely gorgeous. And then we got to stay in this adorable cabin that was right on the beach!
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That was the view from our yard. Oh, how I miss it.

In addition to its astounding beauty, here are some of my favorite things about Kauai:

1. People are nice.
No, really. I read in my guidebook that Kauai is one of the warmest, friendliest places you can visit, but I wasn’t prepared for how truly helpful and kind people were. Everyone was nice. The people at the car rental. The people walking around. The waiters and waitresses. Also, people almost always let you over when you want to merge in traffic, and it’s considered rude to honk your horn. Heaven.

2. It’s relaxed.
This is one of those Hawaiian stereotypes I didn’t necessarily expect to be true, but it was. Even in the nicest restaurant we went to, everyone was just wearing shorts and flip-flops. We didn’t go anywhere that the most casual dress wouldn’t seem appropriate. Also, oddly enough, nearly everything closed at around 8 pm. Nightlife was almost nonexistent, which was fine with me. We got to go to bed early and wake up super early the next day to hang out on the beach, which worked out pretty well for our serious jet lag.

3. Animals!
There are chickens everywhere. On the sides of the road, outside restaurants, in yards, just chilling all over Kauai. As squirrels are to Ohio, so chickens are to Kauai. Here’s a chicken that was just raising its babies in a parking lot:
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Also, lizards were all over the place, including inside our cottage. Here’s one that we found outside:
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4. The residents truly care about their heritage and land.
There aren’t exactly a ton of radio options in Kauai (it’s a small island), so H. and I spent most of our driving time listening to the community radio station. One morning, right after H. asked, “Do you think people in Hawaii like being part of the United States?” a song called “Living in a Sovereign Land” came on, and it was all about how the United States took over Hawaii and destroyed its culture. So, yeah, it is weird to visit a place that has a pretty love/hate relationship with outsiders. On the one hand, tourism is the main industry! But on the other hand, tourists don’t necessarily have a reverence for the land that native Hawaiians do. Also, the US sort of forced out traditional Hawaiian culture and stopped Hawaiian language from being taught in schools (the US sort of has a track record for that, right?). In more recent years, there’s been a big resurgence in Hawaiian pride, but if listening to community radio and reading bumper stickers taught me anything, it’s that there are still some hard feelings. It was still cool, even as an outsider, to be somewhere where people seem to truly care about preserving their land and their heritage. Also, I should probably add that I learned this in my limited experience listening to community radio, which tends to represent a certain sort of person. So, maybe take what I just said with a grain of salt.

5. Food!
Okay, so I’ll have to do an entirely separate post about the food. For now, just believe me that it was great.

6. It’s BEAUTIFUL.
I know, I know. I already said that. But seriously, I’ve never been anywhere so spectacular. We were able to drive up to the Waimea Canyon State Park (nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Hawaii, for obvious reasons), take a (super short) hike up a small portion of the Napali Coast, check out a lighthouse, and take a riverboat ride to see the Fern Grotto.
Here are just some of the awesome things we saw:
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I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to leave Kauai. I cried when we got back to Columbus (and I love Columbus!). I’ve rarely felt as good as I did when I was there, and I don’t think that’s just because we were on vacation. It’s sort of a magical place (I mean, Jurassic Park was filmed there!) and I already want to go back. If it wasn’t so terrifically far from our families, I’d probably be trying to convince H. to move there. Basically, Kauai is the best and everybody should visit!

Next week, I’ll have a whole post about the food, because holy moly. We ate a lot.

Lady Tip #13: Travel Alone


You guys, I am so excited to start featuring guest Lady Tips on Welcome to Ladyville! As it turns out, my wisdom is finite (so, so finite), so I’m asking some badass ladies I know to share their advice. If you have any insight you’d like to share, please drop me a line at welcometoladyville@gmail.com. For my first guest, I’m so stoked to welcome Mandy!

Hi everyone!

My name is Mandy, and I blog over at ohdizzle.wordpress.com. I was so flattered that Kerry asked me to share one of my lady tips with you, as I am the master of giving completely unsolicited, invasive advice.

TRAVEL ALONE

Every so often, a friend will tell me that she has been given a fantastic, cheap opportunity to travel. She found a great fare, or her flight miles need to be used immediately. Or, she’s always had a dream to travel to Fiji learn how to surf, and she just found the perfect surfing school there!

I get excited and start rattling off all my packing tips, but then they stop me and say, “Well, I’m not going. I don’t have anyone to go with.”

Ladies.

Travel is a wonderful thing. You get to see places you’ve never even imagined. Ridiculous, gorgeous foods (and not so good foods) suddenly become a reality in your life. You get to try out new activities, new routines, and maybe even slightly new identities. And you can do all of that by yourself.

I understand that it’s scary to go off on your own, especially when the place you’re going seems completely foreign. What if you don’t understand the locals? What if you get lost? What if, gasp!, you get lonely?

I’m going to be honest with you — all of those things are likely to happen. In my solo travels, I’ve ended up completely lost in the streets of Dublin, I’ve eaten countless meals alone, and I’ve wondered what the heck I was doing while on a small ferry on very rough seas. And you know, it was all worth it.

By traveling alone, you pull on all your inner strengths. No one else is there to help you figure out the subway map, so you do it by yourself. It’s such a self-confidence builder to realize that you don’t always need to ask for help.

Also, you discover the true joys of being quiet and alone. You get to choose where you visit and for how long. You want to spend the entire day in the Louvre? Go for it. No one will be complaining about how hungry they are or how small the Mona Lisa is. Or maybe you want to skip the whole art thing and spend three hours writing at an outdoor cafe while sipping espresso. You can do that too! Every choice is yours to make.

On the flip side of being alone, I find that I make friends more easily when I’m traveling solo. Whether it’s the other tourists in my hostel or locals in the bookstore, you are less intimidating to others when it’s just you instead of traveling in a large, loud pack. You may have to take some of the initiative in starting a conversation, but once you do, I’ll bet you’ll find that people will open up to you.

And yes, there will be times that you may be lonely. But is that the worst thing in the world? Why are we all so afraid of being lonely? I believe that it’s really important to learn how to be still and enjoy your own company. It can be uncomfortable to not be distracted by others and to have to really delve into your own mind and emotions, but you shouldn’t be afraid. Being alone is the time to evaluate your own wants and needs. Those are kind of important things to know, don’t you think?

Traveling with others is amazing and super fun, but when the opportunity comes up, go it alone! You will be shocked at how much you get out of the experience when it’s all up to you. And facing your fear of solo travel? There’s nothing more empowering!

Image via bawkbawkbawk