Wildwood 2015 [Part 2]

Thursdays are for Thinking Out Loud and today I’m thinking about how much my family and I look forward to our beach vacation every summer, yet we go to the same beach and do many of the same activities. It’s just our happy place so we love being there and we LOVE telling “remember when” stories since we have so many memories there! Have any of you ever been to Wildwood, New Jersey?

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Link up with us here!

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This beach town is actually called The Wildwoods because there are three different “neighborhoods”: Wildwood Crest, Wildwood, and North Wildwood. The Boardwalk runs from the end of Wildwood Crest all the way through Wildwood and right into the beginning of North Wildwood. That’s how my family gives directions. What part of the Boardwalk is this particular place located at? 😉 For a long time, my family and I stayed right at the edge of Wildwood Crest and Wildwood. That’s how we found our favorite bike shop and became good friends with the owner! Now, we stay in North Wildwood, which is just the other end of the Boardwalk. The walk from the edge of the sand to the ocean in Wildwood Crest is LONG…like one mile of walking in the sand before you hit water. I am not joking!

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See what I mean?!

The walk in North Wildwood is MUCH shorter and we found a condo down in that area that we love, so it works for us! Or are we just lazy?! You can decide. 🙂

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Cross the dune in North Wildwood and the water is a short ways away!

Not only does my family love to vacation in Wildwood, we also love to vacation the same way. When you think of vacation, don’t you think of throwing your schedule out the window? Me too! But we have our own little beach schedule that looks something like this:

7:30 AM: Run on the beach (this is an activity that ONLY I participate in hahaha)

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9:30 AM: Ride bikes on the Boardwalk.

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11:30 AM: Make lunch at our condo and get ready for the beach.

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We dropped one bottle of hot sauce and two different gallons of milk on this vacation! This was our attempt to save the second gallon of milk. 🙂 #coffeepottotherescue

Noon – ??? Swim, boogie board, walk, and lay out at the beach.

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??? – 4 PM: Pool time at the condo. Whoever wants to stay at the beach stays at the beach…whoever wants to lay in the shade and cool off heads back to the pool!

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5:30 PM: Go out to dinner

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7 PM: Home from dinner and time for the Boardwalk. With 3 piers full of amusement park rides and games, lots of stores, and tons of places to get ice cream, we never tire of the Boardwalk!

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11 PM: Jake’s curfew. My brothers hang out on the rooftop deck and sometimes I do too…but usually I am getting ready for bed so I make my wake up call the next morning to run. 😉

There is a little bit of happiness and a sense of calm that you get from doing the same thing every day…but we DO like to mix it up on our vacations. We usually do one “different” thing every day. One of our activities this year was Raging Waters Water Park one afternoon.

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We love this waterpark. I floated in the lazy river for two hours so here are some throwback pics. 🙂

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All about the action shots! And look how little Alex and Jake are!

Instead of going out to dinner one night, we ordered pizza, Italian hoagies, and salads to go and we drove to Sunset Beach in Cape May, NJ. It’s only a short drive away!

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I promise you won’t see a more breathtaking sunset than at this particular beach! It’s a little different because it’s all rocky instead of all sandy…

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…and you can’t help but snap a million photos!

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Right around the time the sun is about to disappear below the water, Sunset Beach starts a short ceremony. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, a different veteran is honored every night by flying an American Flag and playing TAPS, the National Anthem, and God Bless America.

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We obviously need some photography tips. 🙂 #brightness

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I made Jake recreate this picture. 2012 on the left, 2015 on the right!

Then, one morning while we were biking, we rode off the Boardwalk and went on an adventure in Wildwood Crest.

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First, we stopped for breakfast at a little corner store called Rita’s Deli and Bakery. After breakfast sandwiches and my first coffee in six whole days (!!!), we went to Lakeview Docks to do some crabbing. Yep, crabbing. Instead of fishing, we were out to catch crabs. 🙂 We used to go here pretty often when we were younger, but we haven’t been back in years. It was so fun! It was also really cool to watch others fishing, riding jet skis, and kayaking around while we were on the dock.

First, this nice lady chopped up a dead fish for us for bait…

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…then we nominated Alex’s girlfriend, Taylor, to hook those nasty pieces of fish into our crab cages. No thank you!!!

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He took a picture of her while she hooked all of our bait into the cages. What a supportive guy. Hahaha

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In return, Taylor caught the first crab…

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…and I caught a whole lotta seaweed. 🙂

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The funniest moments were watching Alex throw his cage into the water. He was terrified the entire time because he thought when he threw his cage into the water, it would pull him off the dock and he hates heights! Jake ended up losing his bait but Jake’s friend caught a few crabs. I think the 3 McGraw children were the only ones who didn’t catch much! My mom tried her luck too, but she was better at being official photographer. 🙂

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Friday night was super exciting because there was a fireworks show on the Boardwalk by the Big Ferris Wheel! At the end of our vacation, we usually go to Atlantic City for the weekend, so we miss the fireworks! But this year, we went to Atlantic City first, so we got to see the display. It was like 12 minutes long and they played music during it which was so cool! Cliche songs like Katy Perry’s Firework, but still fun to listen to. 🙂

Other highlights:

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Jake finally convinced my mom that he should be allowed to get his ears pierced. Did you notice any pictures in this post where he was wearing earrings?!

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We got to see double rainbows on two different evenings even though it never stormed! I think it stormed one night while we were sleeping and it might have spit a few drops while we were at dinner one night, but it was HOT and SUNNY all day long!

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We ate our favorite sugary snacks…like Johnson’s caramel popcorn, Polish water ice, Ken and Mary’s ice cream, and Kohr Brother’s frozen custard (pictured above). Mom got vanilla and orange so it’s like a Creamsicle and I got peanut butter and chocolate! I really wanted to try caramel and coffee, but I didn’t eat ice cream enough nights. Ha!

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I found my favorite Boardwalk game…Fascination. It’s only 20 cents a game and it’s just like Bingo! You have to roll a little ball and when it drops down in one of the holes, the corresponding circle on the board lights up. You want to get five in a row…but for this particular round, we were playing “coverall” so that’s why all my lights are lit up. I was the first person to light up all my lights so I won!

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Rich! Filthy rich! Which is more than I can say for my luck at the casino in Atlantic City. 😉 The guy who owns this arcade used to have an arcade that was JUST Fascination machines. He is like an emcee the entire time you are playing, giving a play by play of the game. There was music and cotton candy and popcorn. I know what I just described sounds like a dream;) but it was so fun! His parents were so supportive of him, but since they have passed away, he can’t go back to that arcade. So he has moved some machines into another arcade that he owns and he hopes that one day in the future, he can open another arcade just for Fascination. He is kind of well known for his arcade games…so well known that he was on the TV show Hoarders! He’s a pretty cool guy…check out his story here!

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I collected treasures.

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I ate the most delicious macaroni and cheese.

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I tanned myself like it was my job (and felt completely good about it because I use sunscreen and typically only lay out for this one week of vacation).

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I offended all my Pittsburgh friends by enjoying an iced coffee from WaWa. 😉 Are you #TeamSheetz or #TeamWawa?!

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Aaaaaaand I made fun of my brothers because my drive home to DC was 3 hours and their drive home to Pittsburgh was 6.5 hours. 🙂
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Besides spending a lot of time in CVS for over the counter medications (Jake’s sore throat, Alex’s sunburn, and my tongue infection that made my tongue feel like it was burned for several days in a row), we had an AMAZING vacation! We made so many good memories and I am already counting down the days until next summer. A week just isn’t long enough…we’re talking about a month next July. 😉 #teacherperks

– Where is your favorite place to vacation?!

– Are you a beach person?

Wildwood 2015

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I just spent the last 8 days at the beach so it’s time for a little recap. 🙂

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My road trip essentials include a pillow, a book, and something to eat…

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…and of course taking Snapchats to document the ride with my brother peeking out of the background. Jake has his learner’s permit right now and will be able to get his license in September, so of course he had to get some highway driving in for practice…he really is a good driver so it wasn’t scary at all. Ha!

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We started our vacation in Atlantic City, NJ. We love to stay at Bally’s Casino and after some confusion at the check-in desk, we were upgraded to fancier rooms, which was a bonus. 🙂 My getting ready essentials…something to eat (or in this case drink) again. Do we see a theme here?! Even though Atlantic City is best known for its casinos, we stay in a casino hotel right on the Boardwalk which looks over the beach. So for those under 21, there is plenty to do: shop, eat, beach, ride bikes, etc. We started our evening by walking to dinner at Landshark Bar and Grill on the Boardwalk!

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I was already in picture snapping mode on the way there. This is Alex and his girlfriend. 🙂 My mom and I ate at this restaurant when we were in town for Memorial Day Weekend and we loved the food and the atmosphere! You can eat inside or outside and there is a beach bar with live music and outdoor games like cornhole (bean bag toss? What do you call it?) and volleyball. This particular night, we ate indoors because after hearing there was a 45 minute wait, we were shockingly able to sit down immediately. I think having a bigger party (6 people) worked to our advantage!

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When we first sat down, we were by a huge speaker and I felt like that could be a bad idea. I made my family move down three tables and thank goodness we did because that speaker provided entertainment in the form of karaoke! Think little girls singing “Fight Song” and older guys singing “Gangnam Style” and “Baby Got Back”. Hahaha!

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Of course I had to try a Landshark beer…and I was pleasantly surprised! I don’t like “heavy” beers at all and this one was light and refreshing! We all shared chips, queso, and salsa as an appetizer and then I ordered Fire Pit (barbecue & garlic) chicken and a Caesar salad.

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We didn’t hang out at the Beach Bar much, but we did snap a quick picture! And then it was time for some shopping with my youngest brother and his friend…who is also named Jake. Jake and Jake. Could that be any more confusing?! Luckily, most of Jake’s friend call their friend Jake “Ferg” which is part of his last name. So as weird as I felt about saying “Ferg” every time I had to address the boy, it worked! Haha! They were on a mission to hit the True Religion store. I shopped in the boutique next door but they browsed and browsed and browsed in True Religion so I ended up trying on some clothes there, too. I bought nothing; they both bought a pair of pants.

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I love this mall! It’s right on the Boardwalk and the second floor is so pretty. 🙂

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I went into Starbucks in the mall to get a drink, and when I looked out the windows, this is what I saw. I wish I could go to this Starbucks every day!

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After trying my luck in the casino with my mom, I hit the hay…a long day of travel and a voucher for 22 cents will do that to you. 😉

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I went running the next morning and then met up with my family for breakfast. We decided to hang at the pool and lay out on the roof for the day because Jake and my Mom had spent the more at Shore Express…yes, you can go to the doctor at the beach haha! Jake had some virus that felt like strep throat but wasn’t actually strep throat…we could tell he was so tired, but he rallied and kept up with us through it all!

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Jake mustered up enough energy to want to go to the beach, so he, his friend, Alex, and Taylor all went to jump in the waves while my mom and I watched from the roof. 🙂 The sun came out from behind the clouds and we remedied the extra heat by ordering some yummy frozen drinks! Pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris for all…or just me and my mom. Because everyone else is 20 years old or younger;)

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We had packed separate bags for Atlantic City since we were only going to be there for one night, so once the sun wore us out, we hopped in our cars and headed to Wildwood! We checked into our condo and ate dinner at one of our favorite restaurants across the street called Adam’s. The menu is the perfect mix of seafood and Italian food, so because I’m still learning to like seafood, I ordered eggplant parmesan…my favorite. 🙂 And our favorite after dinner activity…walking the Boardwalk. The Wildwood Boardwalk has tons of stores, 3 piers of amusement park rides, and lots of little shops to get dessert. 🙂

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I feel long winded, so I’ll share a few more snapshots of the beach on Thursday! Thanks for reading 🙂

Memorial Day 2015

Every year for Memorial Day Weekend, my family goes two separate ways: my dad and my brothers go to Indianapolis to visit our family and go to the Indy 500 and my mom and I have a girls weekend. For the past seven years (ah!) we have gone to Atlantic City. AC was one of my grandparents’ favorite places and you just can’t go wrong with the beach!

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We all left on Friday morning. Our favorite place to stay is Bally’s Casino. I was perfectly happy with my window seat and ocean view. 🙂 This year, my aunt and my friend Julianne joined us. After unpacking and walking on the Boardwalk a bit, we walked down to the beach. Because the first time you feel the sand and see the ocean after a long winter is the best feeling!

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We ate dinner at The Rainforest Cafe and my mom and aunt headed to the casinos shortly after! Julianne and I aren’t high rollers yet (#collegekidproblems) so we walked the Boardwalk and checked out all the little shops. It was warm this weekend but pretty windy so we were kind of cold after awhile! Luckily we made our way to Margaritaville for drinks and found a window seat so we could see the beautiful outside without feeling the wind. 😉 We saw fireworks over the beach in celebration of Memorial Day and seriously contemplated getting our palms read, but ended up meeting my mom at Bally’s Beach Bar to people watch and hang out instead!

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My family’s favorite thing to do on vacation is wake up in the morning and ride bikes on the Boardwalk. It’s just so relaxing and fun! Memorial Day Weekend is the first weekend for a lot of things at the shore, bikes included, so I was so happy to be there for the “first ride” of the season. 🙂 In Atlantic City, I like to ride on the Boardwalk towards Ventnor (the next town over) because the sights change from tall hotels and casinos to beach houses that I will one day own. Ha! We made our way all the way to the Ventnor City Pier and took lots of touristy pictures before heading back. It was pretty windy on Saturday too, so we spent the day tanning on the pool deck/roof of our hotel. I actually got some serious sun on my chest and back!

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Tan lines look so good, right? 🙂

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My aunt loves to visit the casinos off the Boardwalk over on the Marina, so on Saturday night we had dinner and gambled at the Borgata Casino. I spent a little bit of money each night on the slot machines but it wasn’t enough to win big…just enough to keep me playing for a little bit, which I guess is okay! Only 1/4 of us were lucky winners this weekend, but one is better than none!

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There’s a part of Bally’s Casino called Wild Wild West and it sounds just like its name. Very outdoorsy and country in the form of a casino and bar! Julianne and I got these adorable mason jar drinks on Saturday night after our time over at Borgata. Wild Wild West is fun because there is a dance floor and people actually get really into it! We had so much fun. 🙂

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And because I’m me, I like to balance my mason jar fruity drinks with Shakeology. Travel blender for $14.99 at Target, I love you.

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On Sunday morning, we went shopping at the Tanger Outlets. We found lots of good deals because of the holiday weekend, but sadly, this little elephant romper thing didn’t make the cut. 😉

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It was supposed to be warmer and less windy on Sunday, so we put our brave faces on and went to the beach. Mind you, it was about 70 degrees this entire weekend, but the wind KILLED and made it feel so much colder at times! My mom said if you looked left and right while we were at the beach, the number of people playing, taking pictures, laying out, and even swimming (!!!) made it seem like it was 90 degrees and HOT outside but that was not the case. The wind struck again and I took to laying on my towel in the sand because the ground was warm. Hahaha

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We took some cliche beach pictures and headed back up the pool. First stop: one of the many hot tubs. I seriously laid on the beach with my towel around my shoulders! Ha! We found lounge chairs in the sun next to the pool…but it should be noted we were inside. The pool at Bally’s is inside, but the ceiling is all windows, so it technically felt like we were laying in the sun. 😉

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The cutest new bakery called Boardwalk Cupcakes opened in Bally’s and they make SO many flavors of cupcakes, but we decided to purchase this six pack: Chocolate Mudslide, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Margarita, Creamsicle, Pina Colada, and Jack and Coke. They were glazed and infused with alcohol. Because why not. Hahaha

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The cupcakes themselves were delicious…the frosting on top and the icing in the center definitely let you know you were tasting some kind of alcohol! I liked the Pina Colada and Mudslide cupcakes the best. Of course we only took a bite of a few of them because we had to do a taste test! They were also very sweet so I cannot imagine eating an entire one myself!

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I love The Pier Shops at Caesar’s because I love to shop BUT on the third floor, they have huge Adirondack chairs sitting along the wall of windows that look out on this beautiful view. 🙂

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Monday morning included more bike riding, iced coffee drinking, omelette eating, shopping, and finally packing up to come home to Pittsburgh. It was such a fun weekend away with some of my favorite girls! Of course, the reason for Memorial Day goes much beyond the eating and drinking and traveling with friends and family. We’re meant to remember those who have fallen serving our country…and I am so grateful and appreciative of the sacrifices our armed forces have made for me and you. We are truly blessed!