We Jammin’

We jammin’……… I wanna jam it with you…. We jammin’…. I hope you like jammin’ too” (Bob Marley)

 

Fellow LEOS, it is our season. Happy burf’ day to each and everyone of you! What did you guys do for your birthday? Cook out, birthday party, or did you go somewhere? I decided to head back to Jamaica for my birthday last week and it was everything I wanted. Let me explain.

 

20180812_104337

 

I took a direct flight from BWI to MBJ, and yall have to explain to me why the ham sandwich flights are so high to Jamaica. I paid almost $600 and I booked months ago! Ok enough of my venting, Landed in Jamaica and I met my cousin in the airport. We jumped on the shuttle and headed to our resort “Grand Palladium.”

 

20180809_155322

 

Grand Palladium is actually located in Lucea, Jamaica and not Montego Bay. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the resort from the airport but the ride there was very scenic. In route to our resort our driver was very comical and pointed out some need to know things and areas. Once we got to the resort they informed us to stop at the first desk to get our welcome drink. I passed on the drink because I knew it was probably mad strong (not a big drinker and it was too hot to be drinking) and I was hungrier then thirsty anyways. I checked into the hotel and met my homie there (who actually planned the trip) and her girlfriend and we all went to eat. One of the things I liked about the resort was the many places to eat on the grounds. I had a taste for anything jerk, and or curried and they did not disappoint. I ended up with a huge plate of curried goat over white rice and some fruit. Yall that curried goat was EVERYTHING. It was perfect.

 

After stuffing our faces, my cousin and I headed to the room to change into our bathing suits and hit the water. I walked into the room and to my surprise, I had balloons and a banner reading “Happy Birthday Anita.” Yall I felt like a little kid, even though I turned 30 it felt good to have my day recognized and the resort gave me a bottle of Appleton Rum.

 

Now, let me be 100 with yall, the beach was not impressive. The way/location of the resort to the beach is not a good one and actually there is no real beach unfortunately. Sigh but it was all good, I headed to the cabanna to get us a non-alcoholic fruity drink and sat up under the huge straw umbrella to unwind and enjoy the ocean breeze.

 

The next day, we planned to venture out into Jamaica via shuttle and head to Negril’s Margaritaville, light shopping, and Ricks Café. We planned our trip through one of the tour guides named “Andrea” and she was absolutely awesome. She made sure that whatever we wanted, whatever we needed, she delivered. If she was unable to do so, she would try her best to find someone who could. If you wanted some Guinep fruit, she would get some for us. If smokers wanted some blow/ganga/sticky/bobmarley/weed she knew who to go to.

 

 20180811_153232

 

I believe it took about an hour to get to Margaritaville, when we got there it was not very crowded and we secured a table. The restaurant is right on the beach and yall, the water was absolutely beautiful. It was hot as balls outside but ya girl had to get out there and get some pics.

20180810_141451

The food wasn’t impressive so my cousin and I shared a platter and didn’t want to eat a lot anyways because our last destination was Rick’s café anyways. We stopped for about an hour to do some light shopping, and then we pulled up to Rick’s Café.

20180810_1646330

 

As soon as we got off of the shuttle, I had about two men tell me they wanted to put babies in me and another that wanted to marry me. Lol Jamaican men are hilarious, I had a few offer me weed but I’m not a smoker and this was all before I even step foot into Rick’s Café lol.

Rick’s wasn’t too packed but it was jumping. We took a look at the cliff and the gorgeous water below and it was just breathtaking. Did I jump you ask, nope. Because I didn’t want to die on my birthday lol, and I am just a beginner swimmer anyways. For lunch I had the Escovitch Red Snapper and it was EVERYTHING. The people were very friendly and the DJ was pretty nice on the ones and twos.

Dunn’s River Falls

Andrea managed to get my cousin and I a shuttle to Dunn’s Rivers Falls last minute. I told you she could get stuff done! It took about an hour and a half to get there and along the way we saw where the fastest man Usain Bolt is from.  Andrea also told us about the legend of the “White Witch.” But what really caught my attention when she was dropping knowledge on us about the different herbs, and medicines Jamaicans use to live long and healthy lives.

 

 

 

Dunn’s Rivers Falls is absolutely beautiful! Our guide was hilarious and he made sure that we kill ourselves going up the waterfall. Now don’t underestimate going up the falls, because it will certainly put you on your back. There are several little holes and slippery spots along the way so definitely wear water shoes.

20180811_121732

All in all, I had a terrific time in Jamaica. The food, the culture, and bringing in my 30th. If you’re looking for a nice resort to unwind and kick your feet up with lots of restaurants on the facility, then Grand Palladium is it.  DON’T be afraid to jump on a shuttle and actually explore the island.

 

Hole in the Walls

If you’ve ever attended a black southern barbeque, you may have heard a catchy tune flowing from the speakers.  The song talks about heading out to an establishment that one may not regularly go to for whatever reason.  It may look a little funky, may not have the best décor but you were somehow drawn to it.  But after spending sometime there, they actually loved it and didn’t want to leave.  Does this tune sound familiar? I am talking about Mel Waters’ “Hole in the wall.”  There is a line from the song that I absolutely love that states
“I walked into the room, with my nose in the air, It’s seven in the morning and I’m still in there” (Material Things, 1999)
Oh I think we have all had a similar experience when we talk about hole in the walls.  I would like to take the time to list a few of my hole in the wall restaurants that I have had the liberty of enjoying and not wanting to leave over the course of my travels.  I would like to call this blog post “Hole in the Walls.”
Being a fellow Charlestonian I have had my fair share of seafood.  Fish, scallops, clams, crabs, shark and the list goes on and on.  But there is something that I really like to have when I come home to the Chuck and it’s called “Garlic Crabs.

20180606_210031

What are garlic crabs you ask?  Well let me fill you in on how I think it is prepared lol.  I believe the blue crabs are steamed very well and the shell is removed.  The crab is then drizzled and or dipped into this very succulent garlic/buttery sauce that just makes the crabs oh so good!  It sure as hell beats drowning your crab with Old Bay Seasoning. (Take that Marylanders)
Why do I like these so much?  Well, when I come home and grab a plate of this it just reminds me of home and puts a spin on how we Charlestonians prepare our crabs.  How can you get your hands on these babies?  Well, on Savannah Highway there is a little seafood store called “Ravenel Seafood” .” It’s a little blue store/ restaurant where you can get yourself some garlic crabs.  But before taking the drive out there, be SURE that you give them a call to see if they have crabs available.  This is a very popular dish in the Chuck and they tend to sell out.

Ravanel Seafood
Second on my list of hole in the walls in a restaurant in Gatlinburg, Tennessee called ” Hungry Bear BBQ” . This little restaurant is small and seats maybe about thirty people but my God do they have some awesome BBQ.  The restaurant is located off of East Parkway and in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains.  Why do I like this restaurant?  It’s because of their small hometown, backwoods atmosphere.  There restaurant is decorated with the history of the area and a few trinkets of what TN is known for.  What did I eat when I was here?  I had some ribs, baked beans, string beans, and a roll.  The ribs LITERLLY slid off of the bone and it I want to bet that their sauce was probably homemade.  Their service was very warm and inviting and if I would’ve ordered more food I was most definitely not going to leave.

20180420_175707

20180420_180013

 

20180420_180616

20180420_181248
Third hole in the wall on my list is a jammin’ little Jamaican spot in Cocoa, FL called “ Jerk Flavas.” I visited this restaurant on a weekend trip to Cocoa Beach, FL recently and was determined to support a black restaurant while I was in the area.  After some googling and reading of the reviews, I decided to give this place a try.

20180602_115038
I pulled up to the restaurant and it was small and cute. It’s tucked away in a little neighborhood and if you drive too fast you could easily pass it.  The restaurant opened at 11 am and to my surprise when I walked in FOOD WAS PREPARED!  I chatted it up with one of the employees and told her what I wanted and she was not stingy with the portions honey!  I got an order of oxtails, mac n cheese, cabbage, rice, plantains and banana vanilla cake. To wash it all down I finished it with a ginger lemonade, and if you have not had ginger lemonade definitely get some.

20180602_110910

20180602_111331

20180602_111402

20180602_112418

What I liked about the restaurant was that it was ran by a family.  You could tell they were related by the way they spoke to each other and how they vibed with one another. Another reason why I liked this restaurant is because it’s black owned.  Many black owned restaurants are slept on and not given a chance because they compete with the chain restaurants.  However, these restaurants lack the love that a black owned restaurant puts into their food.  Don’t debate me.

20180602_110850
In conclusion, I myself thoroughly enjoy looking for a hole in the wall restaurant when I travel. Above, I provided three pretty tasty examples and hope that if you’re ever in the area that you would give these restaurants a try.

Yes, Blacks Vacation in Colorado

In the black community there is often a conversation that begins with “black people don’t go there” “black people don’t do that.” For many black people that do not travel, many do not have the desire, knowledge to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. Or, they may not have people in their immediate circle that travel so when they hear other blacks talking about traveling to a certain destination they are left bewildered.  Next comes the question, “Why do you want to go there, black folk don’t go there, black folk don’t do that.”  It’s this close-minded bull that made me choose to plan a trip out west to Winter Park, Colorado. This blog post is to share my planning, arrival, and adventure to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Let me be very clear and transparent, I have always been the person to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  I normally don’t follow the fads and the latest.  Lingering in the norm is dangerous and routine could be lethal in my opinion when it comes to travel.  My travel soul yearns for thrill and adventure and I plan my travel with those verbs in mind.  Colorado has not been a frequently talked about destination in many black circles for a while.  Especially traveling there in the winter.  This and pictures of the state intrigued me so I made the decision to make this my next destination.

Research
I discovered in my research that you have to be very mindful of your selected location in CO during the winter months.  With my travel buddy and I not being seasoned skiers, but still wanted a winter wonder land experience, we decided on Winter Park.
Living in Baltimore, M.D. I have great airport choices.  There is Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI), Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).  Flights out of DCA in my honest opinion is the cheapest to fly in and out of in the DMV region. My route was from DCA to DEN (Denver) and my total was less than $250.00.  This was the closest and cheapest flight to Winter Park and I flew with Frontier Airlines.  I had absolutely no complaints with the airline, but if my memory serves me correctly there was no Wi-Fi on the flight and you paid for your luggage.

20160329_114510
Arrival
My flight was a smooth one and it took about 4 hours.  When we were landing I noticed the airport was super huge, but there was no snow on the ground.  I got a little worried and asked myself, “Where in the heck is the snow, I came all the way here for snow.”  But off in the distance of the mountains, there it was, snow covered mountains and I couldn’t wait to hop off the plane.

20160329_153054
I waited in the airport for my buddy and when she landed she told me they lost her luggage.  She was mighty pissed and I couldn’t blame her because we were headed up the mountains and she needed her warm clothing.  After her giving the airline she flew with a piece of her mind, we went to get a rental car and up the mountain we went. Please note that on the way to Winter Park, please stop at the Wal-Mart at the base of the mountain.  There is no other Wal-Mart in the mountains.

20160329_190450
It took us about 2-3 hours from the airport to get to the mountains, but the drive up the mountains was awesome! The scenery is to die for and the air is so clean, it’s so crisp, and you can actually taste the difference! The journey was very windy and had VERY sharp turns.

20160329_183700

The further up the mountain we got, the more snow we saw and I was super geeked.  We kept stopping to take pictures because the scenery was just unreal.  We pulled up to the resort and it was everything we wanted. It looked like something out of a movie set and it was just perfect. We stayed at the Vintage Hotel and it was an ok hotel. It really needed updating but it suited our needs.

20160330_090337
Activities
When one thinks of Colorado they think of two things.  Marijuana and extreme sports such as skiing.  Did I smoke weed while in Colorado, nope.  However, I was very curious about the dispensaries since they are legal there.  Our resort included shuttle buses into town and we hopped on the purple line.  It dropped us off about half a block from the dispensary called Serene Wellness.  It looks like a little house off in the cut and we knew from the name of the sign that we were in the right place.  Upon entering, we showed our identification and they gave us a pep talking about purchasing marijuana and trying to take it through the airport in other states.  Since I was not interested in purchasing neither transporting marijuana, I tuned the lady out and just looked around at all of the weed infused items in the store!  It blew my mind that they had weed taffy, weed tongue strips, weed lotion, weed everything.  I can see why this is such a profitable industry.

20160330_124758

20160330_124328

Our next activity was snowmobiling up the mountain.  We asked our front desk about snowmobile tours and we were in luck because our tour location was right across the street and they had slots open for the next tour within the hour.  The fact that my travel buddy and I are both Carolinians reminded us that our wardrobe was not up to snowmobile weather!  Our tour was with Grand Adventures Snowmobile and Off-Road Tours.  We rented snowmobile gear and our tour group was less than eight people. We signed waivers of course and got a quick tutorial about our snowmobiles and up the mountain we went.  This was one of the best experiences I had in my life.  You have not seen the Rocky Mountains until you have seen it from a snowmobile.  Our tour guide was awesome, he was very informative and he allowed us to stop many times to take great pictures and snow angels. Lol

 

20160331_114901
We also did a little snow tubing and tried a few restaurants.  One of the best burgers I ever had was from a restaurant called The Ditch on 40.  The burgers and fries we so fresh and the employees were super nice.  One of the things I liked about the restaurant was the vast collection of license plates from states across the United States.  Call me a nerd, but I like this kind of stuff.  It leaves a lasting memory in your mind and in your wallet if you let it lol.

20160330_11333020160330_114954
Were there any black people?
During the trip, I think I may have counted ten black people I saw the four days I was there.  Were the black people I say on the mountains, yes.  Were the black people I saw looked like they were having the times of their lives, yes.  Would you recommend other black people to visit this location, hell yes.  Why, because life is what you make it and we made Winter Park our bish.  If you are looking for an adventure in Colorado then damn it make it an adventure.  If you want to go to Colorado to just try the Kaboom, Pandora’s Box, and Urban Legend weed then go for it.  Don’t let the ignorance of other blacks prevent you from enjoying your best life!  It didn’t stop us!

20160331_124342

 

 

Miami King of Diamonds (KOD) Edition

Miami pic

Grad school was giving my college homie and I the blues.  We thought about taking a trip to a destination that we could enjoy the sunny weather, relaxation, good food, and a slight turn up.  The turn up was most definitely what we got, and I’ll explain how we ended up in Miami, FL and inside the infamous “KOD.”

2014 was the year and it was my homies turn to pick the next destination for our yearly trip.  She wanted a beach atmosphere and a little night life so we choose Miami, Florida.  Grad school was putting it’s foot in our necks and we truly just needed a true spring break.

Where we Stayed

In our research, we discovered that you had to be very specific as to where in Miami you truly wanted to stay.  We both agreed that we wanted to lay our heads in a more quieter part of Miami.  We didn’t want to hear loud music or people, so we decided to stay North of the strip in the “Mid-Beach” area.  The hotel we choose was “Westover Arms” located on Collins Ave.

Westover Arms.PNG

We loved this hotel because:

  • The location was perfect and right across the street from the beach
  • They provided dedicated beach chairs for their guests at no additional costs
  • It’s a renovated apartment/condo so it was very clean and had a cozy home feel

 

Kitchen

The address for the hotel is 4100 Collins Ave.  Even thought it says located in Miami Beach, please be aware that does NOT mean South Beach.  So if you’re looking for a location that isn’t too busy, and loud then north of the strip is where you should consider.  If you’re looking for swarms of people, and constant traffic then consider staying South of the strip in South Beach.

********PLEASE NOTE, STAYING IN SOUTH BEACH IS MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE*********

When considering a hotel anywhere in Miami, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Is your hotel undergoing renovations
  • Do you have to rent/pay for beach chairs/umbrellas
  • What is the closest bus stop that can take you to South Beach and what are the times/cost

The first bullet is extremely important because many of the hotels fail to mention this on their website.  It would be a shame that you get to your hotel and the elevator is not working, the water pressure is low, and it smells.  : (   The next bullet can make or break your decision because many visitors to the beach do not want to have to pay an extra fee to their hotel to borrow a beach chair.  In my honest opinion, this fee should already be included in the hotel’s “resort fee” that slap on your bill. I’m just saying.

Bullet three will matter to some readers if they desire to travel down to South Beach.  Trying to find parking down there is bananas and if you are already paying a fee at your hotel for parking then I say leave your car there! By asking hotels what bus stop is near them and where exactly it stops at on or near South Beach can save you a pretty penny, and relieve you of parking war stress.

South Beach Tow

What did we eat

We didn’t want to do the typical chain restaurants, so we decided to ask a few of the locals where they ate and many recommended “Big Pink.”  Does it sound like a porn store, yes.  However, the food there is bomb and I highly recommend checking them out.  Big Pink is on 157 Collins Ave and it’s a cute little spot for eating.  Their customer service is awesome and so are their pancakes!  Did I mention that their pancakes are HUGE?

Pancake

KOD

Did we enjoy the beach? Yes.  Did we enjoy the food? Yes.  Now it was time for us to go and check out the skrippas. (Strippers)  KOD is an infamous strip club in Miami.  Just about every dirty south rapper has mentioned it in their songs like Rick Ross, Pimp C, and Jeezy.  If you haven’t heard of KOD then…….ask about them.

KOD

When my homie and I pulled up to the club, it was like something out of a music video!  Limos out front, the line was mad long, and dudes with their best pair of J’s on.  Straight flexing!  As we stood in the very long line, we got to chat it up with a few people.  Since it was just about everyone’s spring break across the nation, we got to chat it up with  people from Chicago, Queens, and even Dallas.  In each conversation we had with other club visitors they all said the same thing “We couldn’t go to Miami and not check out KOD.”

After about an hour of waiting in line, we finally got inside the club and it was all that I thought it would be!  The talent in KOD was top notch and they had some bad bishes you heard?  It was pretty crowded by the time we got inside and there was still a long line out front.  We were able to grab to seats in the left corner near a stripper that was in a circle with a pole all by herself.  I would like to call her “Pretty Flexy” and I’ll explain why.

She was about 5’4 and had a really pretty face.  Light skin with a booty on swol’ and very charismatic.  The dj played Young Thug’s “Danny Glover” and she was going in.  I was like a deer in headlights and couldn’t stop staring when a gentleman walking by had to stop and come back to check her out.  He stared at her as she mesmerized him with her moves and then she just pulls one of her legs all they way to her head.  This was so interesting because I was asking myself “did she stretch really good to pull that off?”  The guy and I looked at each other, smiled, and gave her a few dollars.

Staring

But make NO ERROR!  The party was just getting started and I saw so many people in KOD that I know personally from college and from my home town.  My frat brother happened to be in the building and I called him over to sit with me and my friend so we could catch up.  Apparently,  a family member of his was getting married that following week and they brought him to KOD to celebrate.  We reminisced about college and how we both grew and matured over the years.  We even played a game pointing out the fake booties from the real ones!

To sum it all up, Miami is an awesome place to lay your hair down and have a great time.  Be sure to bring some extra one dollar bills if you plan to hit up KOD or if you plan on taking the bus up and down the strip!

Nothing Could Be Finer, Than to Be In Carolina……

If you’re a fellow Charlestonian, you would’ve sang along to the title of this first official post of my blog.  This saying, in my opinion is very true, there is nothing that could be finer than to be in Carolina.

Charleston, South Carolina is my hometown. Founded in 1670, and located on the Atlantic coast of the United States, Charleston is a city full of rich history, culture, and good ol’ authentic Southern cuisine.  Charleston is also referred to as the “Holy City,” because of it is tolerance for all religions and its many historic and renowned churches.

With five distinct beach towns, Charleston gives many of it’s visitors and locals the invitation to sit back, relax, and enjoy the coastal Carolina air.  Visitors have their choice of visiting a family beach such as the “Isle of Palms.” Or you can swing over to the home to some of the best golf courses over in “Kiawah Island.” If you’re looking for a slower pace of life head on over to “Seabrook Island.” Looking to surf it up? Well bring your boards over to “Folly Beach.” Lastly, you can always visit “Sullivan’s Island.”  The only Island to be the setting of a Revolutionary War battle.

Next, if you’re looking to get a dose of some of the Lowcountry’s culture, be sure to head down to the “Charleston City Market.” Here you can purchase authentic merchandise such as sweet grass baskets and even chat it up with a few of the locals. In the vicinity, you can enjoy carriage tours on our cobblestone streets.  Get a glimpse of the famous “Rainbow Row”  located north of Tradd St. and south of Elliott St. on East Bay Street, that is, 79 to 107 East Bay Street.

Now, it’s true that Southerns like myself have a distinct southern twang. However, many African American Charlestonian’s speak a language known as “Gullah-Geechee.” I speak this myself, and can understand it quite well.  This native tongue will sound like one is from one of the Caribbean islands. The unique creole language known as Gullah is spoken language along the Sea Islands of S.C and G.A. The vocabulary and it’s grammatical roots come from African, and European languages. Gullah Geechee is the ONLY distinctly African creole language in the U.S. It has influenced speech patterns and Southern vocabulary.

Along with our rich history and culture, Charleston has some of the best food this side of the Mason Dixon in my opinion.  With it’s location on the coast, this city has an abundance of seafood and seafood restaurants.  A few places to check out are “Nana’s Seafood and Soul” located on Line St. This restaurant prides itself on the delicious Gullah Geechee cuisine and fresh seafood. Another restaurant and Charleston landmark is Hyman’s Seafood which is also located in downtown Charleston. While you’re in the city, you may notice many of the restaurants have the following items on the menu:

  • Redrice
  • Shrimp and Grits

You most definitely have to try these two items! You can not visit Charleston and not try these two local dishes.  Trust me you will not be disappointed! Last but not least, sweet tea is in ABUNDANCE. That goof ol’ liquid gold is almost everywhere in Charleston. Not like many Northern establishments, you do not have to sweeten your tea with the plentiful packets of sugar and Splenda that can be found on your restaurant tables.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for authentic comfort food, rich culture, and Southern hospitality then Charleston is the place to visit. Just remember “Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Be in Carolina.”

 

Ya call that travel?

So tell me, what is your definition of travel?  Does it involve planes, trains, and automobiles? According to good ol’ Merriam Webster, travel is simply to undergo transmission from one place to another. Following so far?

Now, let me tell you my definition of travel. My definition of travel simply means to “Get up and go to anywhere you want to go.” This doesn’t have a drive, or a flight time requirement by the way.

Many people believe that traveling involves always going abroad. But why is that? Who says that a passport is required for every dose of travel? Has society finally placed a class system or how we millennials like to say “levels” to this thing called travel?

Why can’t packing a bag and heading over to the next town be considered travel? Why can’t taking a quick day trip to the carnival three towns over be considered?

In my personal opinion, travel is so much more than being able to say “Oh I have been to x, y, and z.” But to experience an event and or adventure that you’ve never encountered before.

Now that’s what I call travel…..