Photo of the Day – Inside the Art Institute of Chicago

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Food Review: Duke’s Huntington Beach


dukesEvery time I go to California, I love stopping in at Duke’s. It’s been a family tradition for the last fifteen years or so, ever since my uncle and aunt discovered the original location in Hawaii. Duke’s has six locations throughout Hawaii and California, all located on or near the water.

Duke’s is easy to spot; coming down Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll see it right on the beach. There’s a downstairs bar area meant for those enjoying the beach, and an upstairs/outside dining area for more formal guests. The downstairs menu is a condensed version of the dinner menu, and thankfully both menus have the restaurant’s signature dessert – Hula Pie.

If you eat nothing else at Duke’s, get the hula pie. It’s so good, my uncle will send us pictures of him eating it. The Hula Pie is, by itself, worth an entire trip to the beach. It’s made with macadamia nut ice cream, which is impossible to find in most parts of the country, and a chocolate cookie crust. The fudge and the whipped cream toppings are optional, but…really, they’re not. We typically like to start the meal off with it, mostly to make sure we have the room in our bellies for it.

Duke’s also makes some killer fish and meat dishes. I am personally not a big fish-eater, but my cousins and aunt love their salmon and ahi. The sirloin to me is one of the most juicy I’ve had, and the pineapple garnishes are like the cherry on top. I wouldn’t recommend the wraps though; the last time I went the server told me they are pre-wrapped and they simply warm them up. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d rather have a steaming hot sirloin than pre-made. If I want pre-made, I’ll go to McDonald’s. J

If you’re going for a more formal eating experience, I highly recommend making a reservation. Since it’s located right on the beach, it has a tendency to stay busy. If you decide to go after a long day in the water and on the sand, I would say that’s not necessary. And if you’re there at the right time of day, just as the sun is about to set over the water, opt for outside seating. It makes for one of the dreamiest sunsets you can experience.



Travel Questions No. 8 – Do you ever travel (for fun) during the holidays?

Travel Plans 2017 – Update

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this year to be over with. This hasn’t been a terrible year overall, but it was definitely one of those years where I felt like everything was “one step forward, two steps back”. Now with 2016 coming to a close, I’m looking to the new year with a fresh set of eyes and a cup full of hope. Among other goals, I want to make it to at least two places on my bucket list: New Orleans and Big Sur.

New Orleans

I will be going to New Orleans for the first time in February. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am; this has been a dream that I’ve had for years, off and on, and now it’s finally going to happen. I am staying in the French Quarter, and I am hoping that I will get to spend some time on Bourbon Street and Jackson Square. Among other things, here’s just a few things I think I’d like to do:

  1. Eat: beignets, etoufee, gumbo, and po’boys
  2. Visit a plantation
  3. Take a haunted tour
  4. Shopping (of course)
  5. Visit the WW2 Museum

This list isn’t comprehensive, of course, or binding. I’m a big believer in going where the wind takes you or, going wherever time allows. J

Big Sur

I am hoping I can get to Big Sur for my birthday next year. I’m hitting the 3-0 milestone, and I have never seen a real-life waterfall. I haven’t looked into too many details on Big Sur yet, so this is still in the idea stage. My biggest reason for wanting to visit Big Sur, besides the waterfalls, is the rest of the heavenly, breathtaking scenery. If I can’t make it to Big Sur, my back-up plan is Sequoia National Park. I’ve never seen redwoods before. I need to see redwoods. J


Las Vegas Night Clubs – Why I Hate Them



If you ask people why they come to Las Vegas, generally the answer has something to do with partying. They come for the nightclubs, the DJs, the yard-long margaritas, and the freedom to take the walk of shame in bare feet across a casino.

I don’t get it.

I know people like to party. I know people who can do it all night, every weekend, and maybe even during the week. I don’t have an issue with partying. My issue is with nightclubs. Granted, I haven’t spent a lot of time in them in other cities so I can’t say how they compare. Still, when I’m walking through a casino late on weekend, and see girl after girl that can’t walk in her heels because she’s too drunk, I have to wonder: what is the point?

Here are just a few of my grievances with nightclubs in Las Vegas:

The drink prices


Drinks are expensive on the Strip, no two ways about it. Here and there you can find a place that won’t stick a knife in your wallet, but when you drink inside a nightclub you can easily spend 20 dollars on a cocktail (and that’s not even a good cocktail). If you want a bottle, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars that, under normal circumstances, would cost you one third of the price. Personally, I’d rather get drunk at one of the many open bars you can find on any casino floor and get hammered there. But that’s just me.

Getting In


I don’t get why entering a nightclub has to feel like being in a rat maze. If you’re VIP, you stand in one line. If you’re general admission, you stand in another. If you’ve got a “host”, you have to get in one line until he or she texts you and then they make you go into a different line. This is all before you get in the final line, to actually go in and get your hand stamped. It’s too much work.

The music


Most of the music inside nightclubs is…not my favorite. There’s nothing wrong with it; there’s just not a lot of variety. If you’re a big fan of EDM and current hip hop this probably won’t bother you, or if you don’t mind shouting at the person next to you to have a conversation.

Nowhere to Sit

Unless you pay for a table, good luck trying to find somewhere to sit. If you’re lucky, you might be able to flirt your way into someone’s else group (and by extension, seating privileges). If not, you’re pretty much on your own. The idea is that at some point, you get too drunk to care about sitting. I’m never that drunk. Even when I’m four shots of Jameson and a margarita in I still looking for the first clean, flat surface to rest on. Maybe I’m just a lazy drunk, who knows.

The Dress Codes


This is actually the main reason I stay away from nightclubs. Dress codes vary from hotel to hotel, and club to club. The dress code goes for both men and women, but sometimes I can’t help but think that maybe they are a little stricter when it comes to the females. Sometimes there’s a very relaxed dress code, other times not so much. Now, for a person who mainly likes to wear jeans and shorts, this can cause a little discomfort. I absolutely hate wearing high heels, especially when I know I won’t be able to sit down on a regular basis. This doesn’t leave me many options in the way of nightclub attire.