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Brian gets spooky...

Mar. 30th, 2008 | 10:07 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Brian gets spooky
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

how long does it take bribri and the mish to find spook hill? apparently, about 3 hours.

this fabulous example of physics in action is located somewhere south of cypress gardens in lake wales. i was determined to get us there (AND get back for -eek-tribal class!) but neglected to note just HOW FAR it was off of I-75.

try, like, two hours.

after multiple miniture brown signs (many of which were pointing in opposite directions...somehows we kept ending up at Bok Tower), we finally found the incredibly famous spook hill (and the absolutely nifty spook hill elementary school, located right next to the fabulously weird geographic bulge).

see the hill in the photo? that's it!

so, cars are supposed to roll up that. or something. but "the" up is actually backwards - your car is supposed to magically be pushed AWAY from the hill (by spirits/angry indian chief/spirit of dead giant monstrous alligator - take your pick). anyway, it works! well, for a little. and damn my all too perceptive ability to know when something wasn't level but i figured it out pretty quickly. luckily, as we drove back around to do it again (said hill is a one-way ticket), we saw someone else experiencin the weirdness and it really did look like their car was rollling up right where brian was standing.

thoroughly sated with weird florida, we headed home. i think brian had a good time, at least i hope he did, and here's to many more adventures!


Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp

Mar. 30th, 2008 | 10:06 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Cassadaga Book Store
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

our greeting on the way in to the cassadaga bookstore :)

it was a lovely place (although, Lourdes' Isle of Avalon will always be *my* home) and had lots of nifty baubles. we picked up a new Ganesh (late b-day present for bri) for the god wall, some crystals, books, and a new bloodstone pendulum for me. mmmm...bloodstone (what a surprise, right? - that's what i always wore in highschool, evajuliana)

we wandered over to one of the medium's homes and brian got a reading. i'll stick with Lourdes :) (and myself, anyway) but he enjoyed it. i was surprised - he was suitably impressed, and that's hard to do!

cassadaga is a tiny town and, really, there's not much else to do except visit the mediums. we did, however, find the old cemetery and visit the devil's chairs...all 3 of them (it was hard to tell exactly *which* one was the officialy gateway to hell). somebody's been out there, though, and leaving either the remains of their picnic lunch OR santerian offerings - couldn't tell which, really. ah, and a few beers for satan, too. (if you're wondering how the heck we decided on this one, we can thank weird florida for it...i gave it to bri for his birthday and it's our new official adventure guide. ironically, one of the few stories highlighted online is the devil's chair of cassadaga - how funny!).

we headed out pretty early, as we'd seen and done what we came to do, and drove back home. next stop: spook hill!


Cassadaga is in high spirits...

Mar. 30th, 2008 | 10:05 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

even cowgirls...
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

the next stop was cassadaga.

never heard of it?

it's a town where the spirits are always high. literally. because just about everyone there is a medium - it was founded by spiritualists over a hundred years ago.

it probably sounds incredibly odd to go there, but it was nearby, and quirky, and had a bed and breakfast that looked amazing, so i decided that'd be the perfect place for us to hang and escape life/work/DRAMA/etc.

if you're wondering about this photo, the inn we slept in was a beatiful little place with themed rooms. the only one available? the "laredo" room. western themed. which came equiped with saddle, gravity toilet, log-cabin walls, and horse trough bathtub. these were just "furnishings." but it was quirky, and fun, and brian really seemed to enjoy it.

how can you go wrong with a place that recommends you "don't forget a cowboy hat and your bubblebath?"

they treated us to a YUMMY breakfast the next morning (monday - we rolled in rather late sunday and curled up for the night after exploring the town a bit). then we headed out to check out cassadaga.


Brian's birthday extravaganza 2008

Mar. 30th, 2008 | 10:03 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Pouring the pancakes
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

and so saturday i whisked brian off for his birthday adventure. we started with an *incredible* dinner at an ethiopian restaurant in tampa. it was amazing! the food was super yummy and, as always, dining with his parents was hilarious. his mommy and daddy are such nice people, and i'm always honored and delighted to be able to spend time with them.

my goal was to get us to our first point of adventure that night, so we politely turned down the parental offer of crashing for the night. 3 hours later, we'd made it to DeLeon Springs, a tiny town right north of Deland. i was a bit unsure as to whether or not we'd find a hotel, but we found a cheap one and settled in for the night.

the next morning was the first part of brian's birthday extravaganza 2008; we started with a superb pancake breakfast at the Old Sugar Mill restaurant. if you've never heard of/been to this place i can honestly say you NEED to go. the pancakes are cooked *by you* at your table and it's ridiculously cheap. oh and also they are THE best pancakes i've ever had. everything was homemade and delicious AND they even had VEGETARIAN yumminess (including the best veggie sausage ever!). we had a blast cooking our own vittles and playing with all the nom toppings.

after foodage we decided to scope out the spring. DeLeon Springs is odd - Ichetucknee was a simple hole whereas this place looked much like a swimming pool. It was packed, too; Easter must be one of the big times to head out to the park. we considered swimming but decided instead to first rent a canoe, and paddled about 2 miles (roundtrip = 4) down the spring run. it was lovely! i've never been canoeing with brian before and it was nice to finally get a chance to go paddling with him. we saw an alligator, lots of ospreys, about a bajillion moorhens, and a tree full of comorants. the downside was the water quality was AWFUL - a very sharp contrast to the clear Ichetucknee. there was algae glopping up the entire run and it was so bad that we hardly saw any fish. but the overall trip was nice and the company was of course amazing :)

surprisingly, brian decided to swim in the spring after paddling. it was freezing. he, who usually is super sensitive to cold, swam right along but i could only get in to my waist. after our dip we changed and headed out to our next destination...


Nov 15 - Last Night in the Land of the Rising Sun

Mar. 7th, 2008 | 08:54 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Hello kitty store!
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

on the way back to the hotel, we realized we'd go right past okinawa's main shopping street. never one to pass up the opportunity for exploration, we found a public parking lot (THAT was an adventure in itself), hoped that the guy's broken english meant that we really were giving him the key to hold until we got back and not drive away, and then snuck into a fancy smancy hotel to exchange our dollars into yen.

we wandered and shopped for a bit, and then headed off to find food. celebrating our return to america did we eat japanese foods? nope. we found a hawaiian-themed restaurant (complete with hukilau music, bamboo ceiling fans, and elvis photo montages) that specialized itailian food and had the first pasta of the entire trip.

the rest of the night it was hard to drag ourselves away. we found a lot of neat finds (some of which were super cheap since we bought them as the shops were closing down for the night) and even discovered an awesome little hello kitty store AND an arcade. the aracde was really amazng - two stories and machines everywhere. my favorite was this bizarre tekken where the characters had animals, brian's was this weird dj game where you had to spin turntables and flip switches in time with the music.

all too soon, though, we had to head back to the hotel. we returned our fabulous mini rental and crawled into bed, curled up, and resigned ourselves to the 13 our plane ride home the next day. while we were VERY much looking forward to going home, i think it is absolutely certain that we're leaving at least part of our hearts in japan :)


Nov 15 - One last stop before we go...

Mar. 7th, 2008 | 08:42 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

Okinawa is home to many castle ruins. we'd already seen Shuri castle, and another set (which were far less kept up) when we we to visit Seizan. on the way back to the hotel, it looked as though we were going to pass another set of ruins and so we decided to check it out. it was convienently close to the beach and we headed in.

unfortunatley, they were about to close - we only had about an hour to explore. on the other hand, this meant there was almost nobody at the site and we were able to move through the castle's rocky paths undistrubed. for the most part, there wasn't too much left on the ancient location as far as buildings were concerned. the walls towered above us, though, still standing as a monument to all those they'd kept out. they were giagantic and solid, built with the same steadiness and huge rocks that we'd seen at Shuri.

inside the walls, there were remnants of gardens and lovely trees. this was the last time we'd be so close to asian history (for a while - i think we're already planning our trip back!) and so there was a stillness and beauty to the moment. again it felt like we had a private glimpse into the path, and we could see the ancient Ryukus moving through the place. the site is large and sprawling - several acres at least - and just like at Shuri there were cranes still working at exploring the grounds. this was a wonderful way to end our grand okinawan adventure!

as the light faded away, we walked hand-in-hand back to the rental. now only 2 hour drive back to the hotel, and then one last night of sleep before a last big day of traveling.


Nov 15- Brian in the South China Sea

Mar. 7th, 2008 | 08:34 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Brian in the East China Sea
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

once brian discovered that being in okinawa meant we'd be really super near the coast he decided he simply must get to the water. it's funny to me, because i don't have a close connection to the water (even though i grew up surrounded by florida's east coast beaches) yet brian (who's from woodsy places) is drawn to it. me, vice versa - i could care less about the sea but am happily planted in coastal or uplands areas.

but i digress. bellies full, we decided to try to make it to the water as quickly as possible since there was no telling when the sun was going to set. luckily, just down the mountain from the cafe, and across a little road, was....the beach! brian carefully wove the rental car down to this little patch of what could only be described as jungle. we pulled up, parked, and noticed several fishermen burning some wood and cooking fish. at the risk of sounding extremely tourista, it was incredible to stumble upon culture after spending so much time doing the "tourist" thing. they smiled at us and were very kind. we headed to the beach - you can see, in the photos, a LOT of green. a very different kind of beach in some ways than florida!

okinawa was not through with us yet, though. walking to the water, on the right tucked in among palms and mangroves, was a grave. kind of odd to see t there, literally only about 20 feet from the high tide line, but there it was. the beach itself didn't have the normal tidal rackline like we do in florida (made up mostly of algae and seaweed). here, instead, it was nearly ALL CORAL. how strange! there were broken pieces of corals everywhere. we explored, found a ton of snails and crabs, and pressed onwward to the water.

brian eagerly jumped into the south china see - i stuck my toes in (it was cold!). the water was crystal clear and lovely. a different type of blue than the turquoise we saw in the caribbean - here it was a deeper, richer, more "blue" blue. absolutely lovely, though.

after making quite a spectacle of running around the jetty, poking at critters, and splashing we headed back to the car. oddly enough, one of the fisherman spoke english (this was like the FIRST person we'd run into that had spoken it well the whole trip!) and we had a wonderful talk with him. i think he was kind of mystified by these two american kids, just out on their own exploring. it was neat. he wished us well and a safe journey.


Nov 15 - a little slice of heaven...

Feb. 11th, 2008 | 08:53 am
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Brian at lunch
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

we really didn't want to leave ocean expo park, but we were both getting really, really tired/hungry. unfortunately, we quickly discovered, that this north-western point of the island didn't have much in the way of food. it wasn't like home, where every four feet there's a mcdonalds or even a convienence store. when we left the park and started heading out on the loop road that would (we hoped) eventually get us back to the hotel it became clear that we were driving *away* from most of the food prospects.

coming around a corner, though, with mountainous terrain to our right and sparkling blue sea to our left was a little wooden sign that said: natural cafe 2 km. we figured we'd give it a shot since there wasn't much else to try. we followed a few more handmade signs up a definitely-too-thin-for-more-than-one-car road, traveling up a small mountain to find the most unique dining experience in this island paradise.

the natural cafe was a small little building that seemed plucked out of my new college experience. a pathway made of shells, tiles, and bits of broken brick led to the front door, weaving a curving trail. inside the borders of the path the artist had created a plethora of sealife: shrimp, crabs, and fish swam along the ground. there was a beautiful little garden and interesting odd little sculptures everywhere.

the inside was just as charming as the out: there were a few tables (we chose to sit at this long bar-type thing under the windows, providing an absolutely breath-taking view of the water and nearby islands). there were bookshelves crammed into one corner with all sorts of handmade artsy goods and a small table of books for you to read while you waited.

the food, too, was amazing. there wasn't anything vegetarian on the menu but we were able to somehow communicate our needs and wound up with the most amazing grilled cheese with salsa and beands hot pocket sort of sandwhich and a llittle raspberry mango sorbet side dish. sheer yumminess!

it was wonderful to sit up there on that mountain, enjoy the view, cuddle with brian, and relish the fact that we'd stumbled across such an interesting place. once again, on this trip, we are blessed with a nifty little occurance. wonderful!


Nov 15 -Okinawan Village

Feb. 7th, 2008 | 08:54 pm
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Ancient Farmhouse
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

Bellies growling, we just couldn't leave the park yet. there were still so many attractions to explore but as our energy was fading we decided to settle on one more: the okinawan historical village.

or, well, the reproduction of it.

a fascinating place in terms of interpretive work. this recreation was quite large, with about 20 small buildings faithfully built in the old manners. there was signage, too, and buttons you could push with a soundtrack that told you what you were seeing (luckily in both english and japanese). there were people there re-enacting the traditional activities, too, but of course we weren't able to understand much ;)

the photo here is one of the older styles of building, where they bundled bamboo together so tightly that the walls were water-tight. the floor was made of bamboo mats and the roof was hatched. what an incredible way to live!


Nov 15 - the shadows of giants

Feb. 7th, 2008 | 08:47 pm
posted by: mishakitty78 in team_nell

Misha in the middle!
Originally uploaded by mishakitty78

the main reason i wanted to go to the okinawa aquarium had to do with fish.

well, one particularly big, giant, enormous fish. a whale shark or, well, three to be exact. yousee, this place is one of the few in the world to house this gentle giant, and i believe the only one to succeed in captive breeding these denizens of the deep. when brian and i were researching things to do on the tiny island and i happened across this place i knew we had to try to make the trip.

my entire life, i've been fascinated with sharks. when i was little i dreamed of becomming a marine biologist. but when i was diagnosed with epilepsy i was told i could never scuba dive, and the fine professors at new college (cough cough gilchrist) told me there was no way i could be one without being able to dive. now, of course, i know that's ridiculous but back then i was rather crushed. so i gave up on shark science, but always had this dream of seeing some of the odder members of the family. and here, lo and behold, our honeymoon provides us with the opportunity to see the biggest shark thar be in the deep blue sea.

that's me in the middle of the photo, and that would be hte *baby* whale shark. the tank was huge - it held a guiness book of world records record for being the largest tank and for having the thickest glass (4 m thick, if i remember right). we must have spent a good two hours just watching them swim by. they're enormous, powerful, and just sort of glide past. the tank had three (a family) and was also filled with manta rays (also very, very cool to see) and giant sleepy sharks (at least 50 of them - and they're about 5 to 10 feet long themselves). everything here seemed big!

the tank is situated between a restaurant, and here we tried to have lunch. i say "tried" because we absolutely could not find anything to eat. brian was crashing hard, and after waiting in line behind a string of folks so was i. all we could find were bags of nuts, and so we sat munching on snacks as the sharks cut through the water overhead.

this was one of the last exhibits, luckily, so our tired, hungry bodies were ok to press on. the exit from the tank room has a long tunnel like the old shark encounter at sea world orlando. the sharks and the manta rays swam over us and it was amazing.

this was truly a fantastic, breath-taking way to end our trip!