Where’s Rick Been?

No, it’s not a new social handle or website we’re working on, but some of you have been asking, maybe some of you have been wondering, maybe not – I don’t know 😉 But if you have been wondering why I’ve been so quiet lately, I thought I’d let you know. Here’s the story…

Last year really wore me down. It was a tough year, we had just started a new business, Must Love Travel, launched a couple of new websites, traveled a LOT, and were just plain busy. I didn’t really know how much it had drained me.

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When the new year came around I was really looking forward to our trip to Wyoming. We had planned it to a T and both Les and I couldn’t wait for our annual adventure to begin. What we didn’t count on was Leslie getting hurt. She took a bad fall while we were snowmobiling on the trails above Brooks Lake Lodge. She suffered a concussion and took her several weeks to recover.  So first of all, SHE’S FINE NOW. It took her close to two months to begin feeling like her normal self, but she’s okay now and as a matter of fact, she just ran an ultra-marathon 50K in the keys last weekend, I’m so proud of her!

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After we returned from Wyoming and while Leslie was recovering from her fall and later on trying to catch up on her training for the 50K, we didn’t travel much at all. We tried to be home as much as possible, just taking little jaunts here and there as needed. I got really quiet and kind of private about it all. Leslie is not one for the spotlight and we didn’t make a big deal about it because we knew she would be fine, she just needed some time to recover.

So while all that was going on, I pretty much abandoned social media, the Travel with Rick blog, video, everything. All of you who follow along with us on our adventures and have for so long deserve better than that, more than that. Sorry we let you down, but we just needed a little time away.

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This week I had an opportunity to be at the Universal Orlando Resort for a few days to attend the opening ceremony for their newest Water Theme Park, Volcano Bay. I was there along with some of the coolest people I know, the Universal Blog Squad, a extrodinary group of travel bloggers and influencers. Being around them and with all the festivities and excitement around Volcano Bay, it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get back online and start sharing some of the experiences we were having and the sights we were seeing.

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And we’ll be back with more! I just ordered the GoPro 5 to get ready for some of the trips we have coming up this year. In a couple of weeks we are heading back up to Maine for a few weeks this summer and we’ll be sure to share some of our excursions from that trip. Later on we’ll be going to Alaska on both a land based and a cruise vacation. I can’t wait to share some video from that trip with you. Later this year we’ll be heading to Exuma in the Bahamas for some scuba diving and island time. I’m also hoping to squeeze in another trip to the keys, we discovered a 44 foot Morgan Sailboat that docks in Schooner Wharf marina in Key West.

With our short hiatus ending, we thought it would be a great time to broaden our world and bring more people along for the ride. Our friends and our personal travel planners at Must Love Travel Group really LOVE to Travel, so we’re going to share not just trips Leslie and I take for Travel with Rick, but we’re going to share more of our friends and agent trips as well, all on the Must Love Travel Blog.

Sure, we’ll still do some of my favorite things that I like to do on Travel with Rick, but a lot of what we do will be on Must Love Travel, just sounds cool doesn’t it. Must Love Travel…we really do, and we can’t wait to share more of our adventures with you!

Posted in Travel with Rick Vacations

Travel Leaders Conference – 2017

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Last week I spent most of the week with a group of our agents at our annual Travel Leaders Network conference. This years conference was hosted by Universal Orlando resort.

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It was a great time spent with over a dozen of our personal travel planners from Kingdom Magic Vacations and Must Love Travel, industry suppliers and leaders in the travel industry.

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We learned about new destinations and innovations in travel, while  enjoying the Universal Orlando resort and all of their new attractions like Diagon Alley, new resort hotels  like the Loews Sapphire Falls resort

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We also got to hear about new offerings from Disney such as Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land and Summer of Heroes coming later this year to Disney California Adventure park at the Disneyland Resort in California.

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One of the highlights of the trip for me, (I’m a foodie) was a dinner at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium in Universal’s CityWalk

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The food and the desserts, oh and the milk shakes there are incredible! Look for a post soon on this restaurant!

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Another big highlight of the week was our key note speaker, Woz, Steve Wozniak co-founder of Apple and inventor of the original apple products!

 

Posted in City Walk, Dining, Entertainment, Travel with Rick Vacations, Universal Studios Tagged with: , , , , ,

Don’t Stay Home This Summer

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Don’t stay home this summer when you can be out exploring the World!

3607-sandals2017 is flying by!  The big question is do you have your summer vacation plans yet?  If your family is like mine, planning too far in advance is difficult with all the summer activities taking place.  There are sports to consider, summer jobs and family get togethers.  So when it comes to vacations, they take a back seat until all the calendar is organized and then there may only be a few weeks or even days to steal some time away.  As travel professionals we often hear, “I know this is kinda late, but we are so busy!”  And to that we say – no problem!  

Your travel professional can help steer you in the right direction, find you the best deals and save you hours of research and planning to get you and your family on that much needed vacation.  There is no need for you to spend precious time.    Here are three quick tips to keep in mind before discussing your trip with your travel professional to get them started and to expedite the process.  

 

  1. Budget:  Be able to communicate a budget for your trip.  If you don’t have a travel budget set aside, take some time to think through what you will feel comfortable in spending for your vacation.  Even though there are promotions and last minute deals, your travel professional can give you a better idea of where and what you can do if you know what you can spend.  
  2. Flexibility:  Even though you only may have a few weeks or days, offer your travel professional some flexibility.  Sometimes departing for your trip during the week can offer you the best prices.   Be open to suggestions.  
  3. Information:  Because last minute travel often requires full payment, be willing to provide your travel professional with your travel parties names, birthdays and addresses so they can expedite the booking process.  Prices can change very quickly, so with this information many suppliers will allow travel professionals to place a short hold on the trip until they can discuss it with you and gather the proper payment information.  Often this will lock the price for that short time depending on the supplier.  (Always check your passports to make sure they are current before planning a trip out of the country. Passports must be active 6 months post travel. )

With these tips your travel planner can tap their resources and find you the perfect vacation for you and your family.  Last minute trips can be exciting and just as relaxing as planning a trip a year in advance.  Don’t rule out locations like Disney World in Florida or Universal Orlando.   We are the experts and know how to make the most of those world class locations as well.  

 

It isn’t too late!  Don’t stay home this summer when you can be out exploring the world!

 

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Art Smith’s Homecoming – Lunch

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As I stated in our first post about our dinner visit to Art Smiths, having grown up in the south, and having a mom who I consider one of the best southern cooks whose table I’ve ever had the joy of sitting dining at, I knew this restaurant had to be visited.

One of the newer locations in the renovated Disney Springs, it’s located in the Town Center Section of Disney Springs, roughly behind STK Steakhouse.

 

 

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Thigh High Chicken Biscuits – Three biscuits topped with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs and bread and butter pickles. Drizzled with hot honey

This time we started out with the signature chicken & biscuit sliders, it was a mistake to have not had these the first time we were there, I see that now and won’t make that mistake again  😉

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Shrimp & Grits – Pan-seared shrimp with tomato gravy and Tasso ham served over creamy Bradley’s grits

We did have to go back for the shrimp and grits again though, yes, they were that good!

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Big Fish Sandwich – Grilled fresh Florida fish of the day, hot sauce aïoli, iceberg lettuce and tomato served with house-made barbecue chips drizzled with icebox dressing with a side of Momma’s Mac and Cheese

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Big Fish Sandwich  – Same one as above except this time with a side of biscuits, just what every big fish sandwich needs  😉

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Hummingbird Cake – Chef Art actually puree’s the fruit into the batter so it cooks up just right

600-131Dessert doily’s, it’s a southern thang!

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Check out Art Smith’s the next time you’re in Disney Springs, you won’t be dissappointed!

Posted in Dining, Disney Springs, Restaurants, Restaurants, Walt Disney World

Vivo Italian Kitchen

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Vivo Italian Kitchen features fresh pastas made in house, great sauces and the meatballs were fantastic!

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House-made meatballs in marinara – these were really good!

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Squid Ink Seafood – shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, white wine, basil, black spaghetti

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Risotto – slow braised short ribs, arborio rice, mushrooms, asparagus

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Of course there’s a great wine list to compliment the wonderful menu, we enjoy a Chianti Classico

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Tiramisu – Lady fingers soaked in espresso, creamy mascarpone, chocolate shavings

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Posted in City Walk, Dining, Restaurants, Universal Orlando Resort, Vacation Planning Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Packing Tips

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packing004April showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes. For me, April means spring break and summer vacation planning. Your planning may be in full swing or not even started yet but have you ever thought that part of the planning is packing? If you’re like me, then packing is usually last minute. My family looks at me like I’m a lunatic because I’m always finding myself running around for those last minute things that are always forgotten. I admit, I’m the girl who went to Mexico and forgot to pack the sunscreen. Let’s just say lobster red is not a pretty shade for me unless it’s on my nails. So, take a look at this little snip it on packing tips. Better to have some packing tips than to be all red like me!

Here’s some things I do when I’m packing to head on out:

  • Roll your clothes rather than fold them. It’s saves on space and causes less wrinkles. I also turn them inside out to help keep the wrinkles down and keep them clean.
  • Add dryer sheets to the mix to keep things smelling fresh.
  • Put shoes in shoe bags, shower caps or plastic grocery bags to keep them from getting things dirty. You can also use shoes to put small things in and save more space that way.
  • Rolling luggage – put the heavy stuff closest to the wheels that way the lighter stuff doesn’t get crushed.
  • Got breakables like you favorite perfume? Pack those in your socks.
  • Anything that can leak should be put in a plastic bag. If it’s in a plastic bottle, I squeeze a little air out of it so it has room to expand and not explode everywhere.
  • Pack a tote bag to put the dirties in and keep them away from the clean things. This is especially important if you are going to multiple destinations. (It’s also where the dryer sheet come in handy again.) Also, having an extra zip lock bag for wet swim suits is handy.
  • Save space by packing 2 tops for every bottom. Seriously, you can wear those pants, shorts and skirts more than once!
  • Use travel size toiletries. You don’t need to cart that whole big bottle of shampoo and conditioner. If you use high end products that don’t come in travel size, buy the little refillable bottles and use those. Less is more and big heavy bottles could put you over the weight limit of your luggage.
  • All those charge cords and earbuds and crazy wires everywhere can be contained in either snack size ziplock bags or eyeglass cases.
  • Medicines go in your carry on luggage always!!!! You do not want to get to your destination and find that your luggage is lost and now you don’t have that medicine that you need to take at a certain time.
  • Don’t stuff it full to the brim. Let’s face it you know you are going to buy stuff on vacation. Make sure you leave space in your luggage to bring those things home.
  • 008Make sure you do something to your luggage so that you recognize it from the hundreds of others coming around the belt. My in-laws have big homemade pom poms on theirs along with a strip of caution tape. Me, I picked a teal color bag (instead of the standard black or red that I see everywhere) and added a bright green luggage tag. Be creative.

Posted in Articles, Road Trips, Travel with Rick Vacations, Vacation Planning Tagged with: , , , , ,

Pandora the World of Avatar

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Pandora – The World of AVATAR is set to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park on May 27, 2017 at Walt Disney World® Resort. In this video, hear from AVATAR Creator/Director James Cameron as he offers a sneak peek at what you can expect form this new land and one if its major attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage, which will allow them to ride a Banshee over the world of Pandora.

In addition to Avatar Flight of Passage, this new land will be home to the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, an experience that will send you through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. You will also be able to dine at Satu’li Canteen, grab a drink at Pongu Pongu, shop at Windtraders, and much more.
 

Posted in Animal Kingdom, Disney News, Disney Resorts, Walt Disney World Tagged with: , , , ,

Paddlefish – Disney Springs

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Last week we had an opportunity to dine at Paddlefish, a brand new restaurant taking over the Empress Lily, which was once home to Fulton’s Crab House.

It had been years since we’ve eaten at this location, back when it was Fulton’s Crab House, which has actually always been one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World.

We enjoyed a great night of seafood, some nice wine from their extensive wine list and the wonderful atmosphere aboard a reimagined, modern and luxurious steamboat.

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We started out with a couple of appetizers, first the Crab Fries, Handd-cut potatoes, lump blue crab, Louie dressing

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Next we had the Fried Green Tomatoes, Elote, pickled watermelon, queso fresco, remoulade

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We tried three different entrees, this is the Lobster Risotto, Poached Maine lobster, saffron, Meyer lemon oil

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We also tried the Scallops, Brown butter, cauliflower puree, crispy brussels sprouts, bacon

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Here is the Faroe Island Salmon, Crispy skin, heirloom beets, kohlrabi-green apple salad

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An ample dessert menu from brownies to Key Lime Pie was tempting, but we passed.

We can’t wait to get back here and try more things on the menu. Our server said there really wasn’t anything bad on the menu, and I actually do believe her. I particuarly am looking forward to coming back for the Lobster Corn Dogs appetizer and from the entree list the Jambalaya and the Branzino for 2 sounds great!

Posted in Dining, Disney Resorts, Disney Springs, Walt Disney World Tagged with: , , , , ,

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando with Gracie the Traveling Cat

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Meet Gracie, our traveling cat.

While Gracie doesn’t always travel with us, she does make the summer trip with us up to our retreat in Maine, and Leslie thought it would be nice to let Gracie join us at the Hard Rock since Loews Hotels are pet friendly.

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The Hard Rock welcomed Gracie and she had a wonderful time there.

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The Hard Rock Hotel provided some welcome gifts upon Gracie’s arrival, a water bowl, complimentary water, and food all in her own pet-friendly bag. There was also a litter box set up for Gracie in the room.

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During the day while Leslie and I played in the parks, Gracie enjoyed hanging out on the bed.  There was a special tag we hung on the door to let housekeeping know Gracie was home so they wouldn’t open the door and have a possible pet escape.

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She also enjoyed gazing out the window and passerby’s on their way to the park, and waiting for her mommy to come home.

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The Hard Rock also provided Gracie with her very own scratch post in the room.

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Room Service anyone?

Posted in Universal Orlando Resort, Vacation Planning Tagged with: , , , ,

Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando Resort

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