While in Texas we decided to hit up Kemah and enjoy lunch on the Boardwalk. Kemah is a small town on Galveston Bay and is just a little south of Houston. There are lots of small towns in Texas, but they don’t all have the party on the water atmosphere Kemah has. The most exciting part of Kemah is definitely the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk has many popular restaurants, theme park style rides, food and drink carts, games, water activities and lots of little shops.
We ate seafood from the Flying Dutchmen with a nice view of the bay.
Afterwards we (well me mostly) had to have some Starbucks.
It was sunny and 80 degrees in Kemah that day so we spent the afternoon walking up and down the boardwalk, feeding fish, watching birds, window shopping and enjoying the warm weather that I miss soooo much. It was actually sunny enough that my shoulders got red…can’t even remember the last time I felt weather like this.
It was a nice relaxing day with just the family. We don’t get many days like this, which just makes these moments even more special. I just can’t wait until Luna is old enough to get on the roller coasters with me. Scratch that…I can wait. She’s already growing way too fast!
On New Year’s Day we were staying in a cabin with friends in Pigeon Forge, TN (where the Great Smoky Mountains are), and after sleeping very late (thanks New Year’s Eve!), eating a large breakfast and debating whether or not we even wanted to leave the cabin, we eventually decided to check out downtown Gatlinburg, which I have never explored.
Downtown Gatlinburg is a very touristy cheesy small town full of souvenir shops, gimmicky shows and over the top attractions. So, basically, it was right up our ally. We started off the day in a little village that offered a ridiculous amount of free moonshine samples (“First legalized moonshine”). There was also crazy amounts of free jams, salsas, sauces, dips, pickled things and hot sauces. I stuffed my face while everyone else got tipsy.
You’d think that everyone would need a chaser for the moonshine more than anything, but turns out there’s one hot sauce that had everyone (well the boys mostly…girls were much tougher) begging for milk or more pretzels.
We ate lunch at Bubba Gumps (I know, I know…but God their seafood hush puppies are SO good), shopped, got more free samples, drank very hot coffee to warm us up and took photos all over town. It was really nice to just be on vacation with friends, which I think is a rare opportunity for most.
Two of our favorite stops were the Jerky Shop and Doc’s Magic Shop. The Jerky Shop had deer, beef, boar, ostrich, alligator AND vegan jerky. Of course, the shop owner offered samples of his jerkys because that’s apparently the rule in Galtinburg. It works by the way, we each left with a bag of jerky. Doc’s Magic Shop doesn’t have free food, but they did offer free magic shows which we soaked up and ooh’d and aww’d over for far too long… and many of us left there with a bag of magic tricks as well.
Right as we decided it was time to go home (i.e. back to the cabin) we passed a whisky shop offering a big round of free whiskey samples. Once again, I had to sit out on the activity, but I made my own fun…
Everyone must have been feeling reeallllyyy good after their round of drinks because this photo session happened minutes later…
When our Tennessee friends were here a couple weeks ago one of them suggested going to the Brooklyn Brewery, to which I responded, “Brooklyn has a brewery?!?!” I cannot tell you how many times someone who does not even live in NYC has suggested a New York attraction that I have never heard of. That’s exactly why I love this city. I will never run out of new places to visit.
We happily hopped on the train and headed to Brooklyn one morning in search of this so-called brewery. It turned out to be a pretty cool place with a free tour, a bar, and an enormous sitting area. There were hundreds of people drinking locally brewed beer, playing card games, eating pizza, and just hanging out in the very laid-back atmosphere.
On the tour, which consisted of one big room, we heard the most entertaining and interesting stories about the history of this brewery. The guy giving the tour had a knack for storytelling. The room was silent as he skillfully described the history with impeccable comedic timing.
Now I’ll do my best to give you the cliff notes.
Two guys (Steve and Tom) started Brooklyn Brewery. Steve live in the Middle East for six years where he learned to make beer in his bathroom, and Tom (a business man) had lots of money and wanted to use it to start a new hip business. They founded the Brewery in 1988, and moved to the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1996. It was the perfect place for their business, but it wasn’t easy to get their brewery where it is today. Williamsburg was a sketchy neighborhood during that time. They were held up at gunpoint by one of their regular customers, had a forklift stolen, and even a run-in with the mafia. Yes, the mafia!
Anyone who opens a business in Williamsburg apparently has to pay the mafia off. The Brooklyn Brewery boys somehow missed this little detail, and the mafia basically said, “Pay us, or pay the price.” After refusing to pay, getting a badass lawyer, and standing up to the mafia, Tom had a scary face-to-face with a mafia boss. They took Tom across the street, emptied a warehouse, locked the doors, and said “We’re going to have to hurt you.”
Tom obviously flipped out and begged to be spared. After a few minutes of freaking out, Mr. Mafia man said, “Just kidding. We actually like you’re brewery and think it’s going to be great for Williamsburg. We are going to let you slide.” Now, the mafia works security for the brewery at night!
I loved the stories, the atmosphere, and the beer!