…That would be the worst idea ever, actually. I did just get back from a trip to Disney World with friends and it was exactly what I needed. This year has been pretty void of vacations, minus one three-day weekend over the summer with Patrick. But this trip was five days/four nights with three of my favorite traveling companions and it was one great time.

On the morning of the 11th, Kara and Rae and I left out fairly early, by 8:30 at least, which is admirable for people who hate to get up early and also for those who were getting their vacation started early the night before. I had woken up and had my coffee, then eaten a cup of yogurt, and had a few ibprofins so ease the slight headache I had. As we drove down 26, then got on 95, I could feel my stomach churning and finally at some point I said, “You have got to pull over on this exit right now.” After stopping at some little gas station in Coosawatchie, SC, I ran in there, found the door on the women’s room locked, and made it just in time to hurl everything from my body into a men’s room toilet. I mean JUST in time. One step later and the floor would have been covered. Good thing I wasn’t able to finish that Egg McMuffin. The funny thing is, usually when I get sick like that, I never immediately feel better. This time though, I did. After fighting through a haze of lovebugs, we set off for the rest of our journey.

It was uneventful until we arrived in Jacksonville to swing by Valerie’s house and get some lunch somewhere. We went to Kickbacks, a little gastropub in downtown Jax that had a really fascinating menu. They offered Spaghettios and other canned soups for… $3.59. Ouch. They did have a ton of beer on tap which I passed on due to my earlier stomach issues, and settled on a tempeh burger. It was a new take on the veggie burger and was very enjoyable, something I’ll have to copy for the future. A side of mashed potatoes helped to soothe my belly, even though I only ended up eating about half of my food there, though not for lack of wanting. After checking out a few shops nearby, we got in the car to finish what I thought was only another hour and a half ride. Wrong… it was closer to three.

We landed at the Pop Century resort on the Disney grounds and got checked into the 80s building, which overlooked their computer pool, which I was excited about because it looked awesome on the internet.

We didn’t have long to explore though because we took so long getting down there and we had reservations for a place in Downtown Disney at 8 p.m. sharp, and they had my credit card on file so I wasn’t going to fartle around and risk losing our reservation and getting charged. One of the reasons we chose to stay on the Disney grounds was for the free and reliable transportation, so we hopped right on a bus that was fairly close to our building and headed to Raglan Road Irish Pub, which we chose based on reviews. It was really dark in there so I didn’t get many food shots.

I started with a German Warsteiner pilsner, because why go Irish in a (fake) Irish pub? It was a light and refreshing option, because after hours of travel and a bout of illness, I didn’t want to anger my belly any further.

For dinner I chose the Art Tart, an appetizer, because I wasn’t certain how much I could handle eating. It was WAY smaller than I anticipated, but was a good way to get protein, veggies, and some smooth goat cheese in at the start of vacation.

One of the most highly recommended menu items was the bread pudding which I shared with Rae, and good thing because that sucker was huge, overflowing out of the top of the ceramic mug it was served in. Additional richness in taste came from a little serving of cream and another of butterscotch. We poured both over the pudding with reckless abandon and dug in to the creamy, lightly textured bread pudding. It wasn’t very sweet without the cream and butterscotch, which worked to its advantage. We couldn’t finish the it all, despite our trying to. If you ever go here, don’t skip the dessert.

After that, I think we just went to bed. Or drank and went to bed. Either way, we had an early start the next day, which was heading to Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios. Since this was not on Disney Grounds, we have to drive back up I-4. We were all incredibly excited because the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was going to be the highlight of this trip. And it totally was. We actually beelined there first because we figured it would only get more crowded as the day wore on, which turned out to be spot on.

Since we only had tickets to IOA, we could only go to Hogsmeade in “Harry Potter World” as we called it all day, and while it was smaller than I thought, we ended up back there three or four more times throughout the day. The first thing we did was to visit Ollivander’s to see the show, since only about fifteen people at a time were allowed in. Even if you don’t want to buy a wand, it’s a pretty cool little show to watch.

If you’ve been to IOA before they built Harry Potter world, you’ll recognize that they repurposed some of the rides to be HP themed. One was the dueling dragons ride, and then the old haunted house which is now the Hogwarts castle. This is another one that fills up quickly and you can tell because the queue area is friggin LONG. I feel like it took about 15 minutes to wind through the castle to get onto this ride. On this one, you get on a car sitting side by side with your fellow riders and strapped in. Then you go on a track that moves you around and has you facing a screen at some points that is insanely realistic. I really and truly felt like I was flying on a broom through the Hogwarts grounds, almost too much so. After this ride we all needed to sit for a spell and suck on the crystallized ginger candy I’d brought for any potential nausea.

Other Hogsmeade highlights included butterbeer which tastes like butterscotch soda and had an extra delicious dollop of whipped cream on top for creaminess and to make it look more like beer (it was totally non alcoholic). We drank in the Hog’s Head tavern, which was pretty crowded too, but very authentic looking for being in Orlando.


More on the rest of the trip soon, where we return to the Disney grounds and don’t leave them til Monday!


Vegetarian Rumspringa?

by April on August 11, 2014

I became at the vegetarian at the tender age of 11 because of cube steak. For those unfamiliar, it’s a cut of meat from the “round” area of a cow, or basically, its hips. It’s a tough cut, I reckon, because Wikipedia says it needs to be fiercely pounded with a meat tenderizer. What I remember of it is a chewy, beige mass that made the thought of eating dinner a horrible one. My mom was/is a good cook, don’t get me wrong. In fact, once I decided to move out at the age of 20 I requested all of my favorite foods for the months leading up, and hovered over her as she prepared them. I asked how much of an ingredient was added, or how long something should be left simmering only to get the annoying response I now understand so well, “Until it looks like this.”

About nine years later, I have developed my own version of what this looks like when it comes to the favorite dishes from my youth, including hash browns, potato salad with extra pickles, brown gravy, and a few others. And since 11 I’ve been a conscious vegetarian, only accidentally eating meat a few drunken times… “What’s in this eggroll? Nevermind I don’t even care wooo!” kind of situations that are becoming increasingly rare as alcohol has started to be more painful than fun while adding more candles to my birthday cake. And now that I’ve been leading this lifestyle for well over half of my life, and honestly, almost 2/3s of my life now, I am starting to wonder if I could ever consciously eat meat again.

I certainly love the taste of the fake meats that have improved a hundredfold and become easier to find since my youth. But I’ve also laxed my stance on some animal products. I won’t turn away soup with chicken broth now as long as there are no chunks of flesh, I get wrist-deep in the beef-drippings gravy on the poutine at the Kraken, and I even have a bottle of disgustingly pungent fish sauce in my cabinet for more authentic tasting Thai.

After seeing a tweet from Max Falkowitz about learning the term “vegan rumspringa” the thought has stuck in my head. Would I be able to take a vegetarian rumspringa? A Rumspringa is the term that the Amish use to describe the time away from the traditional Amish upbringing that they grant to their teens, so that they can experience what life is like outside of their strict and tightly shrouded community. After this period away, the teen must decide if s/he wants to stay in the lifestyle, or venture away for a life of what we call normal- electricity, gambling, booze, and using cars instead of horses to get from point A to point B. Many teens often end up choosing the opposite of what you’d expect and re-enter into the Amish lifestyle, confident in the choice that they have been able to make for themselves after experiencing what the other side is like.

I think that a vegetarian rumspringa could have the same effect for me in helping me clarify why I am doing what I’m doing because really, it’s a decision I made when I was 11. I can’t think of a single thing from when I was 11 that is still relevant to me today. I don’t keep in touch with the same people, I don’t even like the same color (it was purple then). So why am I holding on to this other than for the familiarity? Would taking a step back from it give me perspective on why or would it just cause me to run back to the open arms of the produce aisle?

I’ve pondered it from the perspective of only using very strictly humanely raised meats as an entry to the rumspringa, so that way it’s not so much a carefree meat-for-all, but that almost seems to defeat the point. So here I still sit, pondering, thinking, and maybe one day I’ll decide to turn myself out like a come-of-age Amish kid to the earthly delights that regular folks know, love, and disregard as commonplace every single day.

Other’s thoughts on the subject:





5 Random Things

July 22, 2014

Cause why not, right? I’m totally procrastinating on a deadline a little right now, because that’s how real journalists roll, right?  My sekrit- I had never read Harry Potter until recently. My only impetus is an impending vacation to Orlando which will include a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of [...]

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Mid Year Pause

July 3, 2014

Remember six months ago yesterday, when we were freezing and making New Year’s resolutions? It’s definitely six months later and depending on how freaked out you are by how fast that happened will determine if you feel confident or depressed about what you may have accomplished in that time period. I don’t think I made [...]

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June 12, 2014

I like these little memes because sometimes it helps me sort out where I am in the day/week/month/season of life. Plus it’s fun to compare to past ones over time. I ganked this one from Jessica at How Sweet It Is. Eating /homemade  super lemon ice cream with blueberries Drinking / water with so much condensation on [...]

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Summer is Here, Grab Some Pints of Beer!

June 6, 2014

There’s no doubt that cold beer and a hot summer go hand in hand just like that beer should go in your own hand on said hot summer day and no one knows that better that Columbia residents. Both of our local breweries, Conquest Brewing and River Rat Brewery, are ready with cold ones on [...]

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What Do You Do With Kohlrabi?

June 2, 2014

Sometimes these strange CSA vegetables show up and coming up with some way to use it just gets put on the back burner for a while. Sometimes, you even let the questionable vegetable turn on itself, as humidity and ethylene from other produce attack the simple, misunderstood… whatever it is. In this case, last year [...]

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Friday Splurge

May 30, 2014

“Treat yo’ self!” is a familiar phrase to those who are Parks and Recreation fans, but the sentiment should be known to all; because sometimes you just need to treat yo’ self. Maybe you’ve had self doubt, or an insufferable argument or meeting, or perhaps you just had to drop a load of money on [...]

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Spring into the Oak Table!

May 21, 2014

Something that Columbia had been lacking until the past two years was restaurants committed to changing their menu with the seasons, bringing the most flavorful foods to the table at the right time. The Oak Table, a higher end place across from the State House, is one of those places. To introduce their spring menu [...]

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May 18, 2014

It may be slightly obvious that I’ve been half in, half out here on this blog, but I haven’t stopped writing. I’ve used this, my social media presence, and these tools to basically create something out of nothing. I started blogging to find a writing voice that I hadn’t used in a while and I [...]

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