Blood Orange Sunset

Blood Orange Sunset

I took this photo last summer while visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our home had a wrap-around viewing porch, perfect for sunsets and cocktails.

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Asheville North Carolina: My Love Story

Our Asheville weekend

Since 1999 I wanted to visit Asheville, North Carolina. I had never been there and I’m not sure why I wanted to go.  In fact when I graduated from Western State College in Gunnision, Colorado I had full intentions of packing up my 87 Tercel and driving east with my dog Summit. Destination: Asheville, North Carolina. I can’t tell you what was pulling me there but I can tell you that I never made it. I got a job as a reporter for a small paper in Denver and never looked back.

My husband and I moved to the Raleigh area about 2 years ago and visited Asheville for our 5 year wedding anniversary. It  was a whirlwind weekend of hiking, eating and well….more eating. This started my love affair with the city.

Everything that you read or hear about this lovely gem is true. The food is great, the vibe is brilliant and people are fantastic. In fact I would move there tomorrow. I have lots of little stories to tell about our weekend getaway but will write up some personal reviews about our weekend in another post. In a nutshell, Asheville is a great place to go for a romantic weekend without the kids. But it’s also a fantastic family spot.

This is kind of my push to get that going. *insert* smile.

Day trip to Oriental

Oriental

One advantage to living near the coast of North Carolina is visiting the quaint coastal towns near us. They are charming, picturesque and best of all they make great day trips. And with a family that includes to dogs that hate to be alone, it’s a big bonus.

Our first day trip was in the Spring when we took a 2 hour drive east to  Oriental, North Carolina, the sailing capitol of the state.

Oriental is nestled in Pamlico County and is an easy drive from Raleigh. We took Hwy 70 to Hwy 55 east right into the sailing community. We didn’t go with a plan except to hangout and be by the water. There are some access to parks but not much in terms of sandy beaches. We loved that our leashed dogs were welcomed as well. Being from Colorado where everyone loves dogs we found the same love and acceptance in Oriental.

A sea side gem

For lunch there are some cafe’s and small restaurants. We ate at M & M’s Cafe and had a great meal. Our dogs were leashed outside by a large tree and were welcomed. After lunch we walked around the water front and looked around at some of the sail boats. We then headed out of town and took our first fairy in North Carolina from the Pamlico sound over back to 70. We were home by 6 p.m.

I highly recommend a day visit to the sailing capitol of North Carolina. We hope to make another visit there during the Summer months.

Make us the Deep Fried Ambassadors: My Fair Ladies -The Wrangler Edition

My Fair Ladies

If one one deep fried ambassador is good imagine how tasty 3 would be! Giving you three unique perspectives on the 2011 NC State Fair, we three fabulous ladies will cover the full gamut of food, rides, entertainment, competitions, exhibits and fun “only at the Fair” odd bits. Telling the story through photos, videos and, of course, wildly entertaining words, this gaggle of gals is sure to make everyone want to come out to the Fair.

  • The Kamikaze – aka Rebecca Aslaksen – Nothing stops this Fair enthusiast. No food will be left uneaten, no ride unridden. Put a plate before her and she will devour it. Beat: Food & Rides
  • Fairly Odd – aka Dawn Crawford – Fun just got a little funky at the State Fair. Get a backstage look at the music, the best of our state’s produce and livestock and side-shows. Exploring the entertaining, wacky and downright odd parts of the Fair. Beat: Competitions & Entertainment
  • The Wrangler – aka ME! Valentina Garcia Gerdes from Worldview Mother – Armed with sunscreen, family meet-up points and a purse of non-sugary snacks, this mom knows how to make the Fair fun for all ages. Beat: Family Activities & Exhibits

And here is my story of why I want to be a Deep Fried Ambassador:
I’m always looking for awesome adventures with my family. The State Fair holds a treasure of fun, out of the ordinary activities. My goal as The Wrangler blogger for the 2011 NC State Fair blog will be to inspire families to kick-up their heels and venture off the beaten path.

If I didn’t step out of my ordinary suburban life every now and then I would seriously loose my mind. I’m a sucker for all things Americana and I get a nostalgic feeling when I get around the smell of a state fair.

I don’t really know what draws me to seek unique cultural experiences like the state fair. Perhaps it a combination of my Latin roots and coming to the United States at such a young age, but I am drawn to these learning and growing opportunities, especially when it comes to my local community.  As a journalist by nature and trade, I am compelled to help others find out about what is current and happening in their local environment. That’s why I want to be The Wrangler mom and a Deep Fried Ambassador.  And I want to encourage families to venture off their beaten path, to step out of your box and get out of their daily life activities and into something fun and exciting.

I live in Johnston County, in Clayton to be exact, and relocated here from Denver, Colorado just last year. I’m a Latina with Midwest upbringing and a mountain heart.  And I credit my background with my zest for learning through others.
I’ve only lived in North Carolina for a year but already feel like a local. Armed with my new and shiny GPS, my vivacious 5-year-old and my iPhone we ventured out pretty quickly.  Within my first month in the Triangle we had experienced to the Museum of Life and Sciences in Durham, Marbles Children’s Museum and the NC State Farmers Market. Not to mention the beaches!!

People tell me I’m so brave to venture out so quickly but really I’m just curious and want to experience all that North Carolina has to offer. I’m a mom on the go and proud of it.  Plus, as I mentioned before, I would loose my mind if I didn’t learn something new and exciting on a frequent basis.

When you roll up my life experience you’ll find a journalist, a mother, and a socially driven communicator. I can’t wait to be the Deep Fried Ambassodor!! And it’s okay to eat cotton candy for dinner every once in a while. It’s going to be okay.

Flying to South Africa

Getting to South Africa isn’t cheap from the United States but it’s worth putting the country on your list. If you live close enough to drive to one of the departing cities such as New Jersey, Washington D.C or Atlanta you can get there a lot cheaper. We flew from Denver to Dulles so that added on to our tickets.

You can get to Joburg several ways from the United States. We chose Dulles International Airport since my husband had already taken that flight several times for business.
We flew South African Airways because they had a great reputation and are a United Airlines Alliance Member and we wanted to rack up our miles. We flew Denver to Dulles and then Dulles to Joburg and finally to Cape Town. The total flight time including 2 layovers was a little over 26 hours. Keep in mind you’re jumping about 8 time zones so keep that in mind.

I don’t have many complaints about flying South African Airways except for the fact they lost our luggage. So we were without our clothing for about 3 days. (Thanks goodness for Woolworth) More on that later. We had scheduled our layover to be about 2 hours in Dulles but that still wasn’t long enough for our suitcases. Lucky, since I was traveling with my 3-year-old son at the time we were well equipped with diapers, Pj’s toys and extra clothing for him.

The airplane we were on was very nice and fairly new it seemed. Each seat in coach has its own direct TV, decent space for being coach and each purchased seat has a blanket neatly folded, a pillow and a mini case with a toothbrush, toothpaste and socks for the flight. For the kids they had crayons, and other activities. My husband travels business class when we works in Joburg and those seats are classy, roomy and you’re treated like a king. In hindsight I wish we would have traded in some miles but at the time it was the holiday season and Business class was booked solid.

On the way out our flight crew was spectacular, they were courteous, friendly and always eager to please the weary traveler. We enjoyed flying with South African Airlines and would recommend them for your trip across the pond.

Here are my 10 tips for taking the trans Atlantic flight to South Africa

1) Skip the heavy  DVD. Instead load up your I-POD or I-Phone with movies for the kids. The in flight entertainment is plentiful as well.

2) Do buy some odds and ends such as small play-dough, a small note-book, extra crayons. Don’t show your new goodies to the kids.

In Cape Town

We're in Cape Town

3) Do make sure to order the kids meals ahead of time.

4) Do bring some extra snacks for the kids to munch on.

5) Do follow their schedule such as nap times and bed times.

6) Bring extra clothing for the kids in case your luggage gets lost.

7) Do get up to walk around with them.

8) Make sure they are drinking plenty of water.

9) Bring their favorite bed time books.

10) Do talk about the flight weeks ahead. It will help the younger kids understand how long the flight is and will keep them calm.

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