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Pensacola: My favorite places.

Sweet Pensacola!

I got to Pensacola, Florida on Saturday afternoon for some serious fun and relaxation in one of my favorite vacation spots! While packing for this trip, I realized that I’ve managed to vacation in Pensacola dozens of times over the years – it’s small, there’s enough to do if you’re looking for it, but it’s perfectly acceptable to be on your own time.

And the sand is white and cushy. It’s fantastic. So, I’ve rounded up all the places I always have to go to when I come to Pensacola – I’ve had so many memories here with my family and many friends, and I’m sure there’ll be many more memories in years to come.

Peg Leg Pete’s

Peg Leg Pete’s is off the main drag, near Margaritaville, and it’s the kind of restaurant you’ll likely see in any beach town. It’s made of wood, decorated with license plates, and it’s got way too many choices of fried seafood. Order the oysters rockafeller, get a beer, and head downstairs for live music.

Flounder’s

Flounder’s is across the street from all of the hotels on the beach, and I always sit outside because you get to stick your toes right in the sand. It’s got ocean decor out the wazoo and they serve frozen drinks in souvenir cups.

Crabs, We Got ‘Em

This place is damn near magical! A friend of mine suggested it during a vacation many years ago, and we went there for brunch and they have live music, it’s right on the beach, and they serve these cornbread muffins with honey – so good! If you’re feeling frisky, order a Crap Trap! Gone fishing? This place will cook your catch at your request and serve up all the appropriate sides.

Native Cafe

Native Cafe is a hole-in-the-wall where the surfers hang out after the tide rolls out. It’s simple, artsy, and they’ve got pancakes the size of your head. If you’re around in October, order the pumpkin pancakes. Otherwise, go for the blueberry.

Hemmingway’s

A restaurant honoring Hemmingway himself, this is a little more upscale than the places I’ve mentioned above. It looks like an upscale beach house and has great indoor and outdoor seating. You must order a mojito – they’ve got all different flavors – and they are fantastic.

The Boardwalk & Alvin’s Island

I know Alvin’s Island is… everywhere, but I absolutely love hitting it up. I love scouring through all of the tacky beach souvenirs for as long as possible – I have many a Pensacola item, and it never gets old! The boardwalk is small, but it’s got some cute shops and makes for a nice stroll, post-Hemmingway’s.

Lazy Days

Okay, so Lazy Days is not a place, but it’s the cabana company that apparently only hires young, great-looking dudes that are kind and here to serve (for a small fee and tip, of course). I love spending my days lounging on the beach, reading and watching the waves, and it feels super luxurious to have someone adjust my umbrella every few hours so I don’t get burned.

I love discovering new places, but there’s something really comforting about returning to a place year after year. I love rolling into town and seeing the Pensacola Beach sign, and setting up shop every morning on the beach for a day of relaxation. There’s really not much planning that goes into a vacation like this one, and it’s also not too expensive. Whenever I leave, I always feel recharged – and that’s the best kind of vacation there is!

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For my dad.

My dad and me.

As many of you know, my dad passed away on February 3. This has been the most trying time of my life – and although I haven’t felt comfortable enough to share much about my dad, I’m really thankful I have this outlet, and people who read it and can related to the story of my life.

Truthfully, the story of my dad’s death isn’t unlike many others – he was blessed to be surrounded by family as he took his last breath, and every single one of us got the chance to tell him goodbye. And that is something I will be forever grateful for.

There was also a lot of emotional, family drama – and that is what makes this loss so tough for me – on top of it being my dad.

My dad wasn’t someone who ever wanted a big show, so we paid our respects to him at a small chapel in Ringgold, Georgia, a week after he died. There were friends and family there to share stories and pictures of him, and even during that short time, I learned a lot about the person my dad was and the time he spent on earth.

Even though it was a special day and I’m grateful to have been able to be there with my family, I knew I wanted to honor my dad in my own way when I felt the time was right. I wanted to honor him by doing something he loves: fishing.

So, this morning, my lifelong best friend and I rose before the sun and met Pensacola’s best fisherman, Captain Kenny Way at the marina. With beer and a go get ’em attitude, we set sail.

Or, Captain Kenny started the boat and we were OFF!

We caught bait first, then moved on to snapper (red and black). We caught around 15 snapper. And then we used one of the snapper as bait to catch a 7-foot bull shark! You can see the video on my Instagram stories @Orangejulius7 


I’d informed the Captain ahead of time that I wanted to take a few moments to toast to my dad, and it was my honor to write something that I felt captured my dad’s spirit, but also offered some closure to myself, and hopefully to my friend, and maybe even Captain Kenny.

I brought along a few coins to toss into the ocean, and some fresh flower petals to sprinkle on the water – a signal to other boaters that we’d honored a life well-lived. Here’s what I wrote:

When I was little, I had a blue Mickey Mouse tackle box. It came with all the appropriate tackle for a skilled fisherwoman – for which I was not. Regardless, I had the matching fishing pole, and my favorite piece, was a Mickey Mouse bobber. It was designed to look like an inner tube, with Mickey Mouse sitting in it, his big yellow shoes flopping over one side. 
 
My dad was very much a skilled fisherman, and we went fishing many times – I have him to thank for catching the most fish nearly every time I venture out, even if I’m the only female in sight. But there’s two fishing trips that stick out in my mind:
 
The first was a very early morning trip. Early mornings are a necessarily evil when fishing, and my dad took that very seriously. On this particular morning, we had a bit of a drive – heading from our family home in Columbus, Indiana to a lake near Camp Atterbury. My dad had already planned our stops – because that’s the kind of man he was, a planner (sometimes to a fault) and he liked the journey just as much as the destination – donuts and coffee for breakfast, then a later stop on the side of the road to pick up live bait: worms that came packed in black dirt. 
 
Once we got to the lake, the sun was barely rising. I was sleepy, still, and too young for coffee. But it may as well been noon for my dad – we unpacked on the sandy bank, and he threaded my first worm, and reminded me how to properly cast my line – the Mickey bobber flying through the air, landing with a splash on  top of the water. 
 
“Now, when Mickey goes under, reel it in fast,” he said. 
 
So, I stood still and quiet, wondering if any blue gill were seeing the bait, while my dad doctored his line. There we stood, side by side, waiting for something big. The air was crisp and the water was so still, it looked like clean glass. I didn’t know it then, but it was likely the first time of many that I’d get swept away in an Indiana sunrise. It was all so peaceful. 
 
So peaceful in fact, that my eyes glazed over, and then next thing I knew, Mickey was going under and my dad was shouting – “Reel it in, Holly! You’ve got one!” I tried to pull and get my line back in, but it was too late, and I felt so awful that I hadn’t been paying attention. 
 
But thinking back on this moment now, it’s a perfect picture of my dad and I – he, focused and driven, no matter the circumstances, and me – willing to participate, but distracted by the scenery. 
 
When I was in college, my dad invited me to celebrate the holidays in a cabin nestled in the mountains on the Tennessee/Georgia border. It was a small mountain town – one that seemed like it was made for locals, but was likely all tourists. The cabin had a large porch that overlooked a small creek, and a few fishing poles we could borrow. 
 
My dad was determined to fish in this creek, so he bought a can of corn for bait – trout often mistake them for salmon eggs. We baited our hooks and my dad instructed me to cast upstream, so the line would move downstream with the current. I did as I was told, and we quickly discovered a major problem – trees really close to the riverbank. 
 
If I remember correctly, we didn’t even come close to catching a single fish, simply because our lines kept getting caught in the winter barren trees. My dad untagled every line I cast – yet another thing about my dad – he cleaned up a lot of messes for me. He’s stood up for me numerous times – when no one else would – and he introduced to me to the cureall of every breakup: watching “Swingers”. 
 
Since my dad’s passing, I’ve spent countless hours thinking about his life and legacy; what his life meant, what his death means, and how I’ll ever find closure in the numerous questions I have about our relationship. Through memories shared with me, those of my own, and personal items willed to me, I’ve gathered a few new tidbits about the man that he was and the life he lived. 
 
Despite all of my questions though, I know that my dad believed that every person has a story. He believed this to be so true, in fact, that he worked as a reporter (focusing on sports) for many, many years in order to share those stories. It was a job not many would do, in a time when there was no internet, interviews happened face-to-face, and tape recorders were rare. My dad wrote his pieces on a typewriter, after taking notes on a yellow legal pad. He was a beautiful writer, spicy, willing to tell the ugly truth (even at a conservative paper), and he did it for very little pay. 
 
My dad was a fan of the underdog – he was critical of the star players, overrated coaches, and wanted to get the real story from the bench warmers. He loved making people laugh, and perhaps his ability to converse with just about anyone, made it easier for him to share stories – whether in print or with locals at The Olympia. 
 
He was fascinated with the unknown – he had a curiosity for just about anything, and would obsessively throw himself into his latest interest. He was brave, sharp, and he did things his way (and only his way).
 
I have absolutely no doubt that witnessing all of this has very much shaped the person I am today – and will forever be. But I also know that I have to continue to craft my story, too. During these last six months, I’ve realized a lot about myself, including the fact that the unknown can be… terrifying. But it can also be rather exciting, once you embrace it. 
 
Today, I want us to take something familiar – physically speaking, these Presidential coins willed to me – and toss them into the unknown – the depths of the gulf. Consider it a way to throw your comforts, your faith, your purpose, into the great unknown: the future. Send with it a wish for yourself, a wish to keep crafting your story – whether to share, to keep, no matter if the result is picturesque or candid, planned or impromptu. Some stories are well-planned, but some simply happen…
 
It’s impossible for us to immerse ourselves into the unknown without love. My dad loved many things – fishing trips to Bull Shoals Arkansas with his dad and brothers, small towns, Red Vines, chess, Natalie Merchant, rescue cats, and reciting movie lines, among many other things. He loved people, too, and I feel really lucky that “I love you” was one of the last things he said to me, and I to him. 
 
I’m offering these petals as a symbol of love and peace. 
 
Finally, let’s toast: To family, friends, and finding comfort in the unknown. May the ones we’ve lost watch over us from their heaven – for my dad, I hope its on a lake, filled with delicious bass. 

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Juliette’s Bahama Drama’.

That eyeliner tho…

Hey hey! Don’t you just love 3-day weekends? Sure, it’s a little shitty that we have to be back at work today, but it’s already TUESDAY?! Although, I feel like tomorrow I’ll think it’s Thursday and just be really disappointed overall.

But alas, another episode of “Siesta Key” is upon us, and the gang is headed to the Bahamas!

Kelsey is headed with the group to the Bahamas, but without Garrett since they’re on a break. The group is staying in a giant house together, so this will be interesting…

Juliette is among the group as well, and she’s getting used to seeing Kelsey sidling right up to Alex. Chloe is sharing a room with Juliette and is quick to tell her that Kelsey and Alex hooked up after his gala.

In fact, she says, Amanda was looking for her phone after the party and knocked on Alex’s closed bedroom door. Supposedly, he answered the door butt-naked, and when Amanda peeked into the room, Kelsey was in the bed naked, as well.

Here we goooooo.

At dinner, Juliette is back to her dumbass ways and says she doesn’t know how to eat edamame. Lord have mercy on this child.

Pauly Paul must be fresh off a line of the good stuff because he’s asking Kelsey what’s up with her and Garrett? Who ended it? Why did it end? Who are you going to hook up with while you’re here?

Later, he’s having a heart-to-heart with Juliette and he tells her Kelsey and Alex definitely like each other… Juliette is all, “Really? What do I do?”

Meanwhile, Brandon and Madisson are getting a COUPLE’S massage (!) and Brandon is like moaning through the entire thing, and says, “This is better than sex.” Come on, bro.

Chloe and Kelsey are at the spa and Chloe asks her what’s up with her and Alex. Kelsey admits they have a fun chemistry, but that’s all it will ever be. When Chloe confronts her about what happened after the gala, Kelsey says nothing happened… but no one is believing that.

But later… Alex asks Kelsey to go to dinner “as friends”… really?

At the dock, Amanda confronts Kelsey about what happened after the gala. Amanda straight up calls her a liar, and Kelsey says she did go into his room to change into dry clothes. But nothing happened. Srsly?

Alex takes Kelsey out to dinner and he tells everyone he’s taking her out because she’s the new girl. During dinner, they reiterate how they are just friends… but Kelsey calls bullshit on his relationship with with Juliette.

While everyone else is eating dinner, they are ALL talking about Kelsey and Alex. Madisson swears they are just friends but everyone else is all NO, NOPE…

After dinner, Kelsey has a drinking game for her and Alex, and immediately he ends up with his shirt off. Eventually, the whole group joins in… and the next morning, Juliette is in Alex’s bed with him. Now what?

As the gang is packing up, Kelsey says she’s ready to go home but she’s afraid she might have blown it with Garrett. GURL.

Now I cannot wait to see what he says… next week!

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Madisson’s Avenues’.

Pauly Paul, Kelsey, and Brandon.

Hey, hey! Trump is on his way to Texas and this state is flipping him the bird – the memes on Twitter are worth a look if you need a laugh. Anyway, I won’t get into politics… let’s get into last night’s episode of “Siesta Key”!

The episode picks up right where last week left off, Garrett has ditched Kelsey at the 20’s party, so she jumps into the pool with Alex and Madisson and Brandon. Later, she follows Alex into the house… and the production makes it look like something happened.

At Garrett’s house, he’s telling his brother what happened the night before. Meanwhile, Alex heads to the beach with Chloe, Amanda, Brandon, Pauly Paul, Madisson, and Kelsey… and Garrett shows up! Whoooooo!

Amanda and Chloe take a stroll on the beach, and Chloe tells Amanda she’s disappointed in her for hooking up with Alex, and for the dismissive way she acted at the party last night.

Later, Brandon asks Madisson on a date.. and I’ll admit, it’s kinda cute!

Juliette is at home sipping water by the pool, and she’s talking to her friend Hannah like, “I’m not going to act like he didn’t hook up with Amanda.” And Hannah just keeps saying, “Yeah… yeah… yeah.”

Kelsey and Garrett have a lil walk on the beach and it really just seems like things aren’t working out. Kelsey apologizes for the way the night went down and Garrett apologizes for leaving the party. He says they’ll talk about it the next day.

Later, Alex suggests the gang go to Bimini, and everyone agrees even though Pauly Paul has a court date for getting caught with weed.

Brandon takes Madisson on their date and they order some tropical blended drinks… and he’s all charming and it’s sweet. And they KISSSSSSSS!!!

Garrett and Kelsey talk the next day and he tells her he’s not going to the Bahamas. She admits she was flirting with Alex after the party, and Garrett suggests they go on a break. OUCH.

Madisson is heading to visit her mom, and she mentioned to her sister that visiting her mom makes her nervous. Madisson tells her mom that her dad is hosting a graduation dinner and she should come – her mom declines.

At Madisson’s dinner, everyone is so dressed up and Madisson’s dad is grilling Brandon, but he’s taking it well. Alex’s mom makes an awkward comment about how Madisson used to “tutor” Alex and shit, does Brandon give The Glare to Alex.

The next day, the entire gang gets together to go on Alex’s boat. Even Kelsey joins…without Garrett. Everyone asks where he is and she says they’re on a break. Alex looks happy to hear this and everyone is NOT surprised.

Juliette is “shocked” to see Brandon and Madisson together, and is all “Who else hooked up after the party?” And just then… Alex and Kelsey are in the water together… Yikes.

And the SAGA continues!! We’ll see what happens next week!

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Kelsey’s New Crew’.

Another installment of ‘Siesta Key’.

Let me just start this by saying I’m writing this after having just gotten home from WINNING “Saved By the Bell” trivia! After years and years of watching the same episodes on repeat, I finally have something to show for it: $1oo in giftcards, fools! Okay, I owe a lot of it to my teammate, but we kicked BUTT.

Anyway, onto “Siesta Key”! The teaser is making it look like Kelsey is going to join the gaggle of whores going after Alex. She’s out to lunch with Chloe and basically shit-talking the gift he got her for their anniversary. Ugh.

Alex Facetimes Madison and apologized for talking so rudely to her at the bonfire. Later, Chloe is out to lunch with her mom and they’re talking about how “great” summer is in Siesta Key? Umm really, cause you literally JUST had surgery for getting your face beat in. It cannot be that great.

Later, some of the group joins Alex on his boat and I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same boat he’s committed all these crimes on. Ew.

Amanda is on the boat, in a thong, and she’s basically all over every guy, because of course. In his defense though, Alex encourages her to squash her beef with Chloe and she says she will (maybe in the season finale).

Later, Alex is “teaching” Kelsey how to drive the boat and you can tell Garrett is jeaaaaalllous.

Next, Madison (I realized I’ve been spelling her name wrong this entire time, it’s Madisson) is prepping for her interview with Alex’s dad’s company. But basically right when she walks in, the guy tells her she really has nothing on her resume compared to the other candidates. Awesome.

Then, Chloe is visiting with a therapist and is telling her about the altercation she had with Amanda. The therapist tells her to consider the role of alcohol in the fight, and how she reacts to situations. Chloe also tells the therapist that her father is aggressive and has been in and out of jail – she has never met him.

Kelsey and Garrett are paddleboarding and she is talking about how much fun she had on the boat the day before – and he’s not really into it. I’ll admit, this scene was a little sad – I felt bad for Garrett. He was like, “Alex has a lot of money and I’m sure he thinks he can just do whatever he wants and date whoever.” Aww… Kelsey reassures him she’s not interested in Alex, but the entire situation is just weird.

Back at Alex’s house, he finds out he’s been waitlisted for law school. So… yeah.

At Juliette’s she’s recovering from having her wisdom teeth removed. She says she’s under the influence of pain killers, yet she seems exactly the same as how we’ve seen her all season. Hm.

Alex and Madisson meet up and talk about their recent failures, and Alex says he is dead-set on wanting to be a lawyer because he likes the water and “that shit costs money”, so he’s going to work his ass off, be a lawyer, retire, and then own a marina.

Umm, ok. I feel like law is a job you actually have to have a passion for and not just want money, but I could be wrong. Two, how is someone BREAKING THE LAW going to get into law school and be successful? Is this a thing?

Juliette finally gets to hang out with Alex again, and they are trying to work out a meeting between Amanda and Chloe.

Juliette agrees to meet up with the two of them to try and mediate. Chloe immediately starts crying and apologizes for her part – basically, her mouth. Amanda apologizes, too, and says she wants to move on from it, but she still has to see it to believe it.

Aaaaand then the fact that Brandon wants Amanda comes up, and shockingly, Chloe is cool with it. Wow. WAY TO GO LADIES!

Butttt then Pauly Paul shows up at the bar during Chloe’s shift and he tells her about Amanda hooking up with Alex. And thisssss goes over poorly.

Next week? It’s another party at Alex’s! Go figure!!!! I’ll see you then…

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Romeo and Juliette’.

The premier of MTV’s “Siesta Key”.

In anticipation of what MTV is calling “Laguna Beach 2.0”, the network aired old episodes of “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” all weekend and I was in heaven! They were also promoting the shit out of “Siesta Key”, and it worked – I was real pumped to see this episode.

That is until I saw the “Siesta Key” watch party had been cancelled after public outrage due to one of the cast members being involved in a “shark dragging” incident that killed a shark. Umm, what? Here’s the report from the Herald Tribune:

Reaction to the show from local residents led to the creation of a “Boycott Siesta Key MTV” Facebook page that pointed to an apparent connection between cast members and a man who allegedly dragged a shark to death behind his boat.

Well that’s just great. Here’s another little nugget of information for you (also from the Herald Tribune):

The show’s main cast member is Alex Kompothecras, son of Gary Kompothecras, the chiropractor best-known in these parts for founding the 1-800-ASK-GARY legal and medical referral service. “Siesta Key” originated from a pilot financed by Kompothecras.

So, that’s why we’ve seen all the previews of Alex’s family home, which is huge and covered in enough gold to rival President Trump. After doing a little more digging, it appears there was the video of the shark dragging, along with some pictures on social media of men (covered in blood) that are allegedly friends with some of the “Siesta Key” cast. The video and photos are currently under investigation.

The premier episode still rolls on and I’m still reviewing it as planned. Obviously, I do not condone killing innocent animals, especially in a way of suffering. Hopefully, the investigation will result in those men being punished appropriately (i.e. being dragged behind a boat).

Anyway, the show must go on!

The episode starts by introducing every cast mate: Alex – the “king of the crew” – who I’m guessing is also going to be a shithead. He’s dating Juliette. Chloe is the bitch. And SHE has a crush on Brandon. Kelsey is the new girl in town, and is dating Garrett – who isn’t a part of THE CLIQUE.

Aparently Alex cheated on Juliette last summer with Madison – his ex. Lordy.

What continues is some slo-mo cheesy shit.

Alex and Juliette are on a date… and he’s an idiot. He’s about to turn 22, has graduated, so this is his self-proclaimed “big one”.

And Juliette wore stilettos to the boardwalk, so she’s one of those chicks. Ugh.

Madison flies into town, and everyone is warning him that she thinks it will be back to business as usual.

The ladiessss are all gathered somewhere, and they’re all O M G Juliette went on a date with Juliette. These chicks are basic AF and it’s on an entirely new level.

Madison shows up at Alex’s and he greets her with a bottle of Veuve and 2 flutes. They sit on the beach and catch up… and Alex is all, “I heard everything’s bigger in Texas.”

She asks him if he has a girlfriend and he’s all, “Nope” – even after he JUST told Juliette he was cool being with just her.

Kelsey and Chloe “work” at a bar – it’s pretend work – we all knew “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” were scripted and MTV is not even playing with this one. It’s fake as hell. Kelsey says she met her boyfriend Garrett on Tinder, which I’m sure is also a lie.

We can also just get this out of the way: Alex is ugly. Like come ON MTV, you gave us Stephen Coletti, can you give us a better lead character than Alex the freaking Ogre?

Alex and Brandon come to the bar, and Alex is all eyeing Kelsey up and down. He invites her to his birthday party and ta-da, she’s free. Because why would a bartender be free on a Saturday?

Everyone is just SEW excited for Alex’s birthday party, because WHAT girl is he going to choose to be all over him?

Later, Kelsey is getting ready for the party, and she’s talking about her and Garrett like they’ve been together for two YEARS instead of two weeks. Weird.

But then she walks into that fucking party like a BOSS BITCH and everyone stares because there’s finally someone hot with a personality.

This makes Juliette super nervous and she drunkenly bites Alex’s face and is all OMG ITS SOOOO NICE TO MEET YOU. I’m over her already.

Juliette appraoches Madison and it’s like so much teeth in one scene… “Would you like, let me know if he hits on you, that’d be like, cool.”

Thx.

Later, Alex literally tosses Juliette over his shoulder and heads to the bedroom. And Madison runs and cries on the beach like a punk ass.

At the end of the episode, it shows pictures of Chloe with her face bashed in and bloody, so we’ll get that conclusion next week.

Honestly, this is a failure. This show is pretty bad, and it’s definitely NOT even close to “Laguna Beach” or “The Hills”. Watching Twitter during it was my only saving grace…