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Crab House Cancun Review

I started dieting and working out in October of 2016. It took me a few months to get things under control, but I’m going to tell you, it was NOT easy. I love carbs. Seriously. I can sit down and demolish an entire bag of Hawaiian rolls to myself and call it a meal. It took me a few months to get it under control and figured what worked for me and what didn’t. Fortunately, I figured some of what works out before I received my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. It made it so much easier to make adjustments to my diet later on to eliminate foods that may aggravate my thyroid. Anyway, that aside, despite how perfect I was about following the diet for my weight loss AND my thyroid, I decided that while we were on vacation, I was going to eat whatever I wanted, and boy was I glad I did because the food there was amazing.

After a few days of eating at the restaurant in the hotel, we decided we wanted to venture out and try something new. Let me tell you, what looks like a short enough walk in the car, is definitely NOT a short walk mid-day in the Mexican heat. We figured it would only be a 20-30 minute walk to a restaurant we saw when driving by; Crab House. Let me tell you, it took us twice that and we were literally drenched in sweat when we finally got there. And of course, it was a nicer, upscale restaurant, so here we are, two dirty sweaty Americans walking into their fancy restaurant.  I wish I had gotten more photos and videos while at Crab House but I didn’t even think to do a review until after we had already left!

We walked in and immediately were taken to a table. They had an amazing looking patio outside with tables you could have your meal at, but after walking in the heat, the last thing these two Alaskans wanted was to go back outside. We enjoyed the break from the heat and took our time enjoying the air conditioning. The server brought over a plate full of examples of seafood available; shrimp, prawns, different types of lobster, calamari, octopus, alligator and funny enough, Alaskan salmon. Dan and I had a little chuckle to ourselves when the waiter told us all about Alaskan salmon and how great it is. We let him tell us all about it, then told him we’re from Alaska, catch our own and have a freezer full of it! He was pretty impressed and couldn’t believe that we were all the way from Alaska!

While we waited, we were brought some pate samplers to try. They were amazing. Of course, after the crackers and pate, we got our calamari appetizer. Dan and I have this joke that we should start a website for the sole purpose of reviewing calamari around the world. Calamari is totally our thing, and we always try it at new places whenever it is on the menu. Again, I wish I had gotten a photo, but you’ll have to settle for just hearing about it!

Dan had a steak and prawns and I had deep fried prawns and chips. I have ordered shrimp and chips at many, many, many places over the years and you come to expect that the shrimp aren’t that big (but the price is). That was NOT the case with Crab House. Their shrimp were MASSIVE. I had never been served such huge shrimp in a restaurant before! I couldn’t believe how big they were! I was stuffed by the time I finished the shrimp. My husband recommended dessert and I hadn’t even touched my fries yet! How could he have room for dessert?!?! We ended up ordering crepes to go and some kind of cheesecake. Both were equally amazing, even after being dragged back to our hotel in a takeout box through the afternoon heat.

 

I rarely, if ever, drink, so I can’t attest to the alcoholic drinks here, but Dan and I both had a smoothie! He had a strawberry smoothie and I had a mango smoothie. They were AMAZING and perfect on such a hot day! I absolutely loved it. If you are looking for a great restaurant in Cancun, then Crab House should definitely make your “must try” list! Be prepared, Crab House is a nicer restaurant, so the prices are a bit higher than other places, but the food was amazing and the prices reflected that!

Want to check them out further? Check out Crab House Cancun’s Facebook page and tell them I sent you!

**Disclaimer: I was not compensated nor was I provided with free products or services to write this review. All items described were purchased at full retail price using my own money.

 

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Cancun, baby!

My husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in April of 2017. It’s funny, because I swear, everyone was making bets on when we would get divorced. We got married pretty young. I was a junior in high school (and pregnant with our first baby) and my husband had only been graduated a little less than two years when we got married. Everyone told us to wait. Told him to run. Told me to think about it, but we did it anyway. We jumped in feet first and haven’t looked back since. And here we are! Ten years, five moves, and four kids later, still as in love as ever, if not more. This dude is totally my best friend and I can’t think of anyone else I would rather annoy for the rest of my life than him.

This wasn’t our first time traveling together. We actually went to Europe for almost a month in 2012. We packed nothing but what we could fit in a backpack, got a long-term sitter for the kids and spent time exploring. We visited Paris, Amsterdam, London (briefly) and Nea Peramos in Greece. We had an amazing time and made memories that will last a lifetime. We wanted to do something fun for our next trip, and since my husband knew Spanish (from spending a summer in Spain prior to meeting me!) we thought Mexico could be fun!

We left late at night on June 15th and took off for our two-week vacation. We booked a hotel through Orbitz and got a killer deal on a gorgeous one-bedroom suite with full kitchen, along with our flight and car rental. The flight was long and tiring (and good grief, United seriously has THE most uncomfortable seats in the world) but we made it in one piece and ready to enjoy ourselves!

By the time we got there, we were exhausted but it was mid-day. We took a short nap and then dove in. The water was my favorite part. I swear, I could spend all day every day at the beach. We didn’t even get in the pool once, because the ocean was just too much fun! I could live the rest of my life just walking down to that beach every day. It’s crazy that it’s so different than the beaches back home in Alaska. I felt the same when I went to Virginia Beach too. It was warm and relaxing; the beaches in Alaska are cold and smell like fish guts during the only warm months; fishing season!

 

There are so many places we went and things we did! It would be impossible to sum it all up in one post. We visited some of the most amazing restaraunts I have ever been to, including Crab House and Captain’s Cove. We charted a fishing trip through Marina Chac Chi and caught a pretty impressive dorado to be mounted! We visited a pretty cool museum, Museo Maya de Cancun where we could actually see and walk through the pathways between ruins from the Mayans who resided there centuries before we even existed. OH! And I met a few iguanas!

After having gone without the kids, I think it would be a great place for a family vacation. I can’t wait to share that with them! I felt like Cancun was a very busy but contained and friendly place. Once my kids get a little older and can appreciate a trip like that, I would love to take them all.

I have a few reviews planned for some of the places we visited while there, and of the AMAZING hotel we stayed at, the Emporio Suites & Hotels! Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiking the Russian River Falls Trail in Cooper Landing, Alaska

I grew up in Alaska. I’ve been to many a body of water and on more trails than I can count. We recently took a trip down the Russian River Falls trail in Cooper Landing, Alaska, Catherine, Danielle, and I. It was about an hour from Soldotna (probably an hour and a half from Anchorage) and was an awesome workout. I loved it and plan to go again later this summer.

 

Russian River Falls Stats5

Elevation Gain: Russian River  500 feet.
Start Elevation: 1,400 feet
Rating:  Russian River Falls: Easy.
Distance:  Russian River Falls 2.3 miles one way.
Nearest Landmark: Cooper Landing, Alaska
Season:  Mid-May through mid-September
Popular:  Hiking, Mountain Biking, Fishing, Camping, Boating, Horseback Riding, Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing.

Where is the Russian River Falls trail?

Once you hit Cooper Landing, you will find the Russian River Campground access road at milepost 53 of the Sterling Highway.  The access road is narrow at points, so go slow to prepare for oncoming traffic. There is very limited parking at the trailhead and the trail tends to be very crowded when the salmon runs are in. Get there early and get a spot, but keep in mind there may be parking fees depending on the time of year. There is overflow parking available, but it is further from the trailhead and not as convenient!

What is the Russian River Falls trail like?

The Russian River Falls trail is about two miles long and is covered in gravel. The trail is a popular one and as such, is very well maintained. In some areas, the gravel felt a little deep for our wagon wheels and it took some force to pull/push through it with the two toddlers in the wagon. The trail is decently wide and comfortably able to accommodate two people walking side by side, maybe even three in some areas. The trail does have slight changes in elevation, which for normal non-wagon-pulling hikers, shouldn’t be an issue. On the way back, we were getting pretty sore pulling the wagon uphill. At the end of the trail, there’s a viewing deck and platform with a couple areas you can stop at to view the falls. The falls can be loud and wildlife viewing is common.

What kind of plants and animals can be seen on the Russian River Falls trail?

Catherine and I went semi-early in the season, so the foliage wasn’t quite showing off in full effect. We found labrador tea, horse tail, crowberry, cranberry, willow, yarrow, devil’s club, mushrooms, ostrich fern, tree fungi and more.

As far as wildlife, many animals call the areas near the trail home, including many species of birds (you may even see eagles!), squirrels,  moose, ducks, caribou (if you’re lucky!), black bears, brown bears, and salmon in the falls! The salmon who make it to the falls, have managed to evade fisherman and bears along the Kenai river and are in the final stretch of their journey to spawn and die.

Is the Russian River Falls trail a good trail for kids?

Catherine and I took two toddlers in a wagon and a baby in a carrier on the trail. While the wagon got heavy on some of the uphill parts, it was a relatively easy and kid-friendly trail. There were a few points where the gravel felt a little too deep for the wagon wheels, but overall, it was easy enough. It is a long walk (2.3 miles one way) and older children may not do as well walking on their own if they aren’t used to it.

Can I camp at the Russian River Falls?

There are campsites available, as well as cabins that can be rented near the falls and the lake. These campsites may have fees associated.

Safety Precautions

Where there are fish, the bears and wildlife will follow. Bear sightings are common on the Russian River Falls trail and it’s a good idea to brush up on bear safety practices. If you are able to, it’s not a bad idea to bring guns with you on your hike. It’s better to have weapons and not need them, than to need them and not have them.

As always, never hike alone and always bring a buddy. Tell people when you leave, where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Extra Tips

Be sure to bring plenty of water with you, especially in warmer weather. There are no fountains along the way and it’s not wise to drink water from the falls without adequate filtration.

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance. Be sure to use bug repellent to keep them at bay. Depending on the time of year and the weather on that particular day, the mosquitoes may be more or less of a bother. Best to be prepared!

 

 

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US Passport Processing Times 2017

I’m not going to lie. I totally lost my passport. I got it in 2012. I used it when we went to Europe that fall. All was fine and dandy, brought it home with me. Kept it in our little accordion file (which was usually kept in the safe) and somehow, after I used it again through Canada when we moved to Minnesota, I lost it. I kept thinking it would turn up. Why wouldn’t it? I hadn’t been anywhere with it. No one had been in the home. Where the heck did it go? And only mine was missing. The kid’s passports and my husband’s passports were all still in that accordion file. My only theory is that I misplaced it, meant to put it back and lost it… or one of my kids got it. Two theories, I guess.

We moved and I used my passport card at that time and figured I’d probably find it when we unpacked at the new house. Wrong. I didn’t find it. I looked EVERYWHERE. That stupid thing was nowhere to be seen. Seriously. How could I lose it? I swear, I misplaced it but I don’t even know when I last saw it. Knowing my luck it fell into a crack or crevice or some tiny nook and cranny at our old house and six new owners from now, someone’s going to find it.

What to do if you lose or misplace a passport

First, make sure it’s really lost because once you report it, the old passport is a dud. I’ve done that with my bank cards before, swearing up and down I lost it then finding it minutes after I hang up the phone after deactivating my card. That sucked, big time. So, make sure it’s really lost. Check everywhere. Tear your house apart like I did. Then, if it truly is lost, you’ll need to submit a DS-64 form. You can print it off and mail it in, but there’s an online option now which is kind of nice. They’ll ask you for your name, passport numbers, etc. I found the form a little difficult because how am I supposed to know the number if I don’t have it in front of me? Memo to self, write the number of the next one down and put it somewhere safe.

You can find the DS-64 form here: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/lost-stolen.html

It’s relatively painless. Once you finish the report, you can even fill out a request for a new passport. It will fill in all the blanks and spaces for you with your information. Once you’re done, you print it and take it to your local agency with your new passport photos (which for me, was the post office). DO NOT SIGN IT UNTIL YOU GET THERE! If you sign it beforehand, you’re going to have to fill out an entirely new application. Just don’t do it, okay?

Don’t know where to take your finished application?

Usually, the post office will accept completed passport applications, but not always. Sometimes they have specific hours that they accept passports. The easiest way to figure out where to take your passport is to use THIS website to locate the nearest acceptance agency.

2017 US Passport Processing Times

Last time I applied for a passport, it was a whole lot of sitting and waiting. It’s still a lot of sitting and waiting, but fortunately for me (and everyone else waiting), you can now track the status online via the U.S. Department of State’s passport tracking website. While times may vary, applications submitted around the same times tend to have similar processing times, as the times are based on passport application volume; the more passports submitted, the more likely it is to take longer, toward the 8-week side of the spectrum, vs. the shorter side of 6 weeks. Of course, this is entirely different if you submit for an expedited passport.

I applied for “routine service” with a processing time of 6-8 weeks.

  • 3/27/2017 – Submitted application, photos, and fees at my local passport acceptance facility.
  • 4/3/2017 – Online tracking information updated from “not found” to “Your passport is currently being processed.”
  • 5/3/2017 – Online tracking information updated to “Your passport application is in the final processing stages.” and “This means you should receive your passport on or about 05/08/2017.”
  • 5/5/2017 – My passport arrived!
  • 5/6/2017 – My documents were returned to me!

Have you submitted a passport application recently? Was it routine service or expedited? Card or book? What’s the status on yours?

 

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