GORGEOUS landscaping and potted plant gardening ideas from Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay

These are just a FEW of the gorgeous landscaping and potted plant gardening ideas from Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.  I didn’t take pix of all of the ideas, sadly, and there were cool ones from Universal studios that I didn’t capture, so this is just a “sampler”…perhaps I’ll add to it next time I go back 🙂

Islands of Adventure on the way out of the exit

Islands of Adventure

The bougainvillea, below, is one of my FAVORITE flowers!!! After seeing so many beautiful bougainvillea in Capri, Italy, and the Portifino area, I bought one for home.  It died. They don’t like NC winters.  I don’t either. 😉

Islands of Adventure

Below, I love the use of all the variety of greenery…I need to incorporate this more into my potted garden (which, is non-existent, or only in my dreams, at the moment….)

Islands of Adventure, which, by the way, hands down has much better landscaping than Universal Studios

More beautiful greenery….

If you like landscaping, plants, nature, then Islands of Adventure is going to be your favorite park!!!

I wonder if I could keep the potted tree, below, alive for more than 2 months…hmmmm…

Guess where? Yup, you guessed it, Islands of Adventure

For this type of garden, I should probably just move to Florida 😉

Islands of Adventure
I’m feeling like a broken record creating these captions, lol, Islands of Adventure
Thankful for “copy and paste”: Islands of Adventure
Guess?!?!?
Starbucks at Islands of Adventure (that’s good to know that there are Starbucks in the park, huh?)…they are franchises, not corporate stores though, so can’t redeem your awards for free coffee or treats 🙁
Islands of Adventure

OK, now off to Volcano Bay!!!!!!!  Sadly, these orchids don’t bloom year round, but when they do, they are GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!

What -yay! something new! VOLCANO BAY!!!!

And I can’t get enough of them!!!

mad orchids everywhere at VOLCANO BAY!!!!
guess where now?!?!? 🙂
VOLCANO BAY!!!!
VOLCANO BAY!!!!
oh and back to Islands of Adventure 🙂

Christmas at Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios

Every shop in Hogsmeade seemed to have it’s own decor theme such as owl feathers at the owl post, and gum drops at Honeydukes sweets shop, and pieces of broom straw, holly berries, etc.

Zonkos Joke shop in Hogsmeade
Zonko’s Joke Shop in Hogsmeade
HoneyDukes Sweet shop in Hogsmeade
HoneyDukes Sweet shop in Hogsmeade
HoneyDukes Sweet shop in Hogsmeade
Hogsmeade train station
Inside the Three Broomsticks
Inside the Three Broomsticks
The Three Broomsticks
Apothecary storefront- Hogsmeade- LOVE THE BERRIES- this looked especially beautiful at night!!!!
Above Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom in Hogsmeade
Owlery in Diagon Alley
Hogsmeade
Hogs Head pub in Hogsmeade
outside of Hogs Head pub in Hogsmeade
Above Hogs Head pub in Hogsmeade
Owl Post shop in Hogsmeade- LOVE the use of feathers in the decor!
Owl Post shop in Hogsmeade- LOVE the use of feathers in the decor!
Owl Post shop in Hogsmeade- LOVE the use of feathers in the decor!
Owl Post shop in Hogsmeade- LOVE the use of feathers in the decor!
Owl Post shop in Hogsmeade- LOVE the use of feathers in the decor!
Apothecary storefront- Hogsmeade- LOVE THE BERRIES- this looked especially beautiful at night!!!!
Love the pieces of broom straw intertwined in the decor at Dervish and Banges! Hogsmeade
Love the pieces of broom straw intertwined in the decor at Dervish and Banges! Hogsmeade
Diagon Alley—they were not done decorating as of November 12th because of delay due to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal most likely.
Diagon Alley—they were not done decorating as of November 12th because of delay due to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal most likely.
Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley
Owl Post in Hogsmeade at night
Owl Post at night
Outside of Hogs Head pub in Hogsmeade!
Hermoine’s Yule Ball dress at night- I’m so sad that for some reason I don’t have a good pic from daytime of this beautiful decor with Ribbons!!!
yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
This is inside Filch’s Emporium in Hogsmeade
Seuss Landing is ready too!
Seuss Landing is ready too!
Seuss Landing is ready too!
The Christmas Lorax!!!!
Seuss Landing is ready too!
Seuss Landing is ready too!
Diagon alley door
The apothecary at night
Key chain cart in Hogsmeade
This is at Backwater Bay bar in Islands of Adventure!

My cat is cool AF

because:

She was a stray, a super skinny, starved stray, who really appreciates her new home and food!

skinny girl:

She’s named after Arya Stark, one of my favorite characters from A Game of Thrones series….and she’s a pretty good poser, so I can photoshop her on the Iron Throne!

or in space

or hanging out with monkeys 😉

She’s so easy going…..she just crawls right into her cat carrier

does yoga

and let’s me dress her up as Professor McGonagall for Halloween!

so I can play with Photoshop some more!


and she’s so super snuggly and loves to snuggle!!!

she likes to go for rides

…..and is a social butterfuly who loves to greet us and other people in the neighborhood!

St. Niklaus to Zermatt, Switzerland – Day 6 of our Haute Route via Mountain Bike trip

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT as soon they’re up, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here:

AND, you can also check out my  super cool “relive” video using this link: https://www.relive.cc/view/1128518849

Day 6 was the final day, in which we rode to Zermatt Switzerland.  Since there are no cars allowed in downtown Zermatt, that meant we would have had to stay in the outskirts of town…and be further from Geneva for the next day’s transfer, SO at the end of our ride, we rode back to the same hotel in St. Niklaus to stay for the last night.

This was awesome because, for once, we didn’t have to pack our suitcases and load them onto the van before taking off for the day!

It was a sweet little break.

This time we were SO prepared for the cold, wet weather.  We had a complete change of clothes over-stuffed our camelbacks, to the point of bursting seams,  and, of course, a rain fly covering the packs.

We took a shuttle ~halfway between St. Niklaus and Zermatt then rode a semi-flat, just slightly uphill trail towards Zermatt where we went to the train station to view the webcams of the Matterhorn.

So unfortunately, the weather was super cloudy and overcast and even snowing at the top.   We never did even see the Matterhorn, but I imagine it was up there, being as beautiful and breathtaking as ever.  And we posed in front of a billboard with the Matterhorn on it, so that’s close enough, right?

Normally, we would’ve taken a gondola or funicular up to near the top of the Matterhorn and rode our bikes down, BUT due to the snow, we had to discuss alternate routes.  This snow meant that the trails would be completely covered at the top and very hard to navigate and the rocks would be especially treacherous.

So instead we rode about ~3,000 (elevation gain) up a winding jeep track, into elevations where there was first a light dusting of snow, then complete cover!!!

A little snack break and yoga

Here is a link from my YouTube channel of a cool little time lapse of the inside of this tunnel :  https://youtu.be/KsUnJQg0fUY

Once we were at Sunnegga, we built a snowman, then bought warm soup and changed into warm dry clothes for our fun, sometimes uber technical, descent in the snow!

It was the first time that I ever rode in snow!!!!…. so at least THAT was SUPER cool AND could be checked off my 50 before 50 AND my bucket lists!  Bright side, kids, bright side….

As we rode down the mountain, the snow was gone again, and we stopped for another snack break and cool pix of the little neighborhood below us:

This is our guide, Thierry!

We then rode up another climb for about 1,000 feet elevation gain to this area…

So that we could FLY downhill on a nice SUPER flowy, SUPER fun, bermed and pumped track and then rode into Zermatt!!!

Oh I wish we could’ve stayed in Zermatt WAY longer! My pictures don’t come close to doing it justice!!!! it was an AAAAMAZING town!!!!!

We finished our day, AND our 6 day tour with a ride all the way back to St. Niklaus, where we had dessert…

OF COURSE we had dinner first though!!!!

This is a picture of our EXCELLENT group, who were all kind, friendly, fun, super interesting and great riders from Finland, Spain, Quebec, Brazil, and of course, the States!

YAY!!!!! WE DID IT! WE COMPLETED THE HAUTE ROUTE VIA MOUNTAIN BIKE!!

Although I was bummed about the weather, and recovering from an ear and sinus infection, etc. , it was, without a doubt, an AMAZING trip.  I’m so glad that I was able to see these little villages of Switzerland that I would never have seen otherwise!

The food was incredibly delicious, perfectly portioned, and WAY more healthy than typical American meals.

The technical aspect of the trails was an AWESOME and a SUPER FUN, monumental, challenge and although I was slow, I was still proud of myself for all the climbing that I did throughout the week!

The downhills were absolutely epic.

I am sooooo jealous of the people who live in the areas that we rode!!!!!!  I can’t believe they get to ride that all the time!!!! aaaaggghhh…so jealous.

I learned so much, not only new biking skills and interesting new ways of teaching and awesome drills, but I learned how to cuss in Finnish (now I can proclaim “Pashka” in front of children and not get into trouble!!!)  and where Game of Thrones Dragonstone castle is (near one of the guys in the groups house!!!) and maybe, just maybe, I learned how to be a little bit tougher in cold, wet, weather!!!!

(i’m a Florida girl, born and raised, and for LIFE when it comes to temperature….if it’s below ~75 I’ll even ride with long sleeves!)

I’m forever grateful to our group and guides for being so awesome!!!  …and also for the ability to go on this amazing trip!

Here are some pix that I took JUST outside our B&B right before leaving St. Niklaus 🙁 *sniff sniff*

Our “Haute Route” Mountain Bike trip- Day 5

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but the weather was so nasty-There will a link to some beautiful and gnarly GoPro footage a couple of paragraphs below as soon as Dave uploads.

This is what day 5 was like:

The weather was crap-nasty 🙁

My ankle was still swollen, but felt much better, but I still wanted to bail on this day so badly…but I didn’t!!!

(*pat on the back*)

Since the weather was so bad, we were dropped off on a peak in order to avoid a climb in the cold rain.  There were two restaurants there.  I went into one and it had amazing decor and ambiance.  I think a pic of the bathroom in this place was practically the only pic I took unfortunately, because we were in a rush to get started while the rain was still super light.

I wish I would’ve taken more pix but we were so rushed all the time it felt like…I mean, nobody wanted to wait in the cold rain, so I get it…

The riding was wet and cold.  even the easy downhill sucked for me because I got so much mud in my face, and dripping down into my eyes…not even my glasses helped.

It took us 2 hours to cover ~5.6 hours before we were finally picked up by the shuttle van and  were taken to St. Niklaus to our B&B for lunch.  Since the rain cleared up, Dave and Toumas and one of the guides went on a little ride after lunch while a couple of us toured St. Niklaus in search of an ATM and newspaper to help dry our shoes. Dave has some beautiful Go Pro footage from this, which i’ll insert as soon as it’s up!!!

PRO TIP: When I later told my chiropractor, (who was also a mountaineer who had spent most of his life from birth in Geneva),  how unkind the weather was to us on this trip,  he said that the trick was to ALWAYS PLAN TO GO TO THE SWISS ALPS DURING THE FULL MOON.  He said that the weather was always clear during that time frame.  Man, I wish I had consulted in him BEFORE we planned the trip!!!!

No pix riding, but at least i got some pix from St Niklaus, below:

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