Beach Snoballs

Travel Tip Tuesday!

Travel, be it a family vacation, business trip or RTW adventure, has gone digital. Between the internet cafés (which are quickly becoming a thing of the past), 4G and matchbook-sized travel devices, there are plenty of gizmos to keep you constantly connected to the rest of the world on the other side of cyberspace. Mobile apps like Facebook and Instagram are some of the most common – seriously, who doesn’t use them? But have you heard of some of these others? Below is a [truncated] list of the “Ultimate Travel Apps” – a list compiled by CNNGo. I’ve summarized 5 apps that I’d splurge on. To view the whole list, click here.

1) UNESCO World Heritage Location Guide – Over 900 sites all over the world to browse from, this is a great app for those travelers looking for something on the road less traveled. (Don’t worry, all the famous sites are on there, too.)

 

2) mTrip – Great for big cities in Asia (i.e.: Bangkok, Hong Kong… all my faves). It tells you what places you’d enjoy visiting (based on preferences you enter once downloaded) and even lets you send virtual postcards to friends and family! I am a sucker for postcards – physical or digital – so I think this one is perfect.

 

3) Trip Advisor – As small business owners, Trip Advisor is some of the best word-of-mouth advertising we could ask for. Whenever we go on trips (even if it’s just a of couple hours away), we’ll hit up this site for activities, things to do and hotel recommendations. NOTE: In my experience, this site has only been beneficial for places in the U.S. (If you want to check out our business on Trip Advisor, just click here!)

 

4) Tripline – This app lets you document your trip with pictures, notes and a mapped timeline of everywhere you’ve been. You can check in at various places on your journey just by snapping a photo! Then return home and replay your adventures at your next family function.

5) EveryTrail – Perfect for nature freaks and hiking junkies, this app lets you find trips and trails nearest you, allows you to map your route with the phone’s GPS and even find other hikers in your area. You can view stats (like elevation and distance), see pictures of what’s around the bend and search tons of other trips that fellow nature nuts have taken.

Last tip: Make sure you’ll actually be able to use your smartphone or mobile device where you’re traveling. Just because you have lightning-speed service doesn’t mean you’ll be able to catch a signal in all corners of the globe.

Safe travels!

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Categories: Accessories, Adventure, Around the World, Asia, Backpacking, Beach Snoballs, Communication, Europe, Explore, Gear, Hiking, Nature, News, Outdoors, Paracord, Photography, Planning vacation, RTW, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Trails, Transportation, Travel, Travel Tips, Trip planning, UNESCO World Heritage, World Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made it to the Front Page!

We’ve kind of been MIA lately – swamped with work in our “real lives” where we own and operate a shaved ice business on the beach. We moved from Michigan to Florida last June to buy Beach Snoballs – an artisan shaved ice shop across the street from the Gulf of Mexico in Treasure Island, Florida. I know, rough life, right? Spring breakers and tourists have consumed us this month but today, we made it to the FRONT PAGE of the local beach newspaper! The Pinellas Beaches Patch interviewed us and took some great pictures of our storefront and of us shaving/making a customer’s snoball. Click here to read our article!

Photo credit: Rachel Jolley of the Pinellas Beaches Patch

And a little side note: The businesses around Treasure Island are having a contest for Best Customer Service on the Beach. Beach Snoballs has made it to the Elite 8 but we need VOTES to move on to the next round. If you would be willing to take a few seconds to click the link below and vote for BEACH SNOBALLS in the contest, we would greatly appreciate your support.

http://goo.gl/NYC9d

You don’t have to have visited our shop before to vote – anyone can vote! And you can submit votes from multiple devices (phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, etc.). So the more votes we can accumulate between now and Monday at noon, the better! THANK YOU to all!

Categories: Beach, Beach Snoballs, Family, Florida, Food, News, Ocean, Outdoors, Photography, Planning vacation, Random, Summer, Summer Desserts, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Travel, Travel Tips, Trip planning, United States, Vegan, Vegetarian, Water, World Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why We Love Florida

Moving to Florida (we bought a beachside business on the Gulf) has been absolutely fantastic. Besides having a great starting location for our travels with easy access to the Caribbean, Mexico, Cuba and Central America, it’s warm even in the winter, we get an abundance of Vitamin D, there are palm trees and grapefruit trees in our back yard and the wildlife is awesome. We’re both from the midwest (Michigan and Pennsylvania), so the tropical flora and fauna are very exotic to us. (How often can you just pull off at a roadside park and see live gators!?). If you have never been to Florida or are looking for great location for a getaway, we highly recommend the Sunshine State. Oh, and stop by our shop – Beach Snoballs – on Treasure Island – we’d love to meet you!

This is a picture I took while we were moving into our new house – I found this little guy crawling on our mailbox!

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Backpacking, Beach, Beach Snoballs, Explore, Family, Florida, Food, Landscape Photograph, Nature, Ocean, Outdoors, Photography, Planning vacation, Plants and Flowers, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Travel, Travel Photography, Travel Tips, United States, Water, Wild, World Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Adventure

I’m not much of a rules-follower. I prefer to live life by my own set of instructions and work at my own pace (usually a fast pace without reading any directions). In high school (I went to boarding school for 3 years), I dated the director of my dorm. It was a major breach in the code of ethics but I couldn’t help it. It was adventurous, I was in love and I was determined to get what I want. To make everything even more scandalous (in my parents eyes, anyway), my dorm director was a girl! (And yes, we’re still together 7 years later). In college, prerequisites were merely someone’s suggestions as to how to spend my money and credits, and I would acknowledge those suggestions and then quickly ignore them. Who has time to take math classes they don’t need? While everyone was thinking about summer internships, I decided it’d be fun to work for the Parks & Rec., usually cleaning up garbage and poop from the public restroom. So it’s no surprise (to me, anyway), that after graduating from a great university, while everyone else I knew was applying to med school or getting accepted into graduate school (and planning on actually using their undergraduate degrees), that I decided to plan a trip around the world with my best friend and partner. I get my jollies out of living life unconventionally.

My girlfriend September (yes, that’s her real name), and I don’t like to be held down. We tend to move apartments every year, change jobs often and if something big and crazy comes along, we’re usually game. I think of myself as adaptable, pretty willing to try new things (unless it’s weird food) and that nothing is permanent… so who’s up for an adventure?!

Our most recent adventure involved purchasing a shaved ice business on the Gulf side of Florida (in Treasure Island, about 10 minutes from St. Petersburg) with 2 other members of September’s family. Our lease in Michigan was about to expire and we were hesitant to renew. Ironically, I had quit my job at Home Depot about 4 weeks earlier and September was looking to leave her (very stable) job at a state university. The possibility of owning this shaved ice beach business couldn’t have come at a better time in our lives. Within a week, the family had purchased the business and settled on a closing date. Sep and I eagerly volunteered for the adventure of running the stand full time, thus packing up our lives, selling our stuff and making the 20-hour drive to our new home in Florida. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing or what we were getting into. It was the middle of the summer (the peak season for shaved ice in Florida) and we had never run a brick-and-mortar business before (we have an online business selling survival bracelets but that’s a different story). Sure, Sep has a MBA but she never planned on actually using it! And I have a degree in kinesiology, so my training would be worthless.

The first weeks were awful. We were more stressed than we had ever been in our lives and we often cried before bed. We worked 15-hour days, 7 days a week, with no end in sight. We kept reminding ourselves that this was an adventure (as I tattooed on my right foot a week before we moved – another thing my parents told me not to do) and we embrace the unknown. Then, after a month or so, we started to get the hang of new lives. It’s hard to complain about life when you work across from the Gulf of Mexico, when you can watch the sunset every night or have citrus trees growing right in your own yard with built in breakfast. Besides, I remind September, we’re really close to Cuba now… and while it’s illegal for Americans to go there, I really think we should try to find a way.

Categories: Adventure, Backpacking, Beach, Beach Snoballs, Circumnavigation, Explore, Family, Florida, Food, Globetrotting, Love, Packing, Top Knotch Gear, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RELOCATING to Florida!

Top Knotch Gear is relocating to Florida! We will be leaving southeast Michigan next week to move to St. Petersburg, Florida for a new adventure….

We're moving!

September’s family has purchased a beachside business on Treasure Island (about 15 minutes outside of St. Pete) called Beach Snoballs! It’s a New Orleans-based business that sells frozen desserts called Snoballs. Snoballs, for those who are unfamiliar, are finely shaved ice treats that are super soft and shaved right off of the ice block, fresh every day (it’s so soft, it’s like eating velvet). All of the syrups at Beach Snoballs are natural, preservative-free and made on-site so beach-goers on the Gulf can have a healthy, low-calorie treat on those hot summer days. If you’re in the St. Pete/Tampa/Treasure Island area, stop by to say hi and check us out! And be sure to bookmark the website because we’ll be updating it often with new info, store updates, contests, photos and Snoballs coupons!

Our new business! Beach Snoballs!

We’ll continue to make our paracord gear but from our new location! We will be putting TKG and Top Knotch Travels on a small ‘vacation’ (read: hiatus) starting June 15th until we get settled in our new, sunny home. Please make any purchases as soon as possible and before the 15th so we can get your gear in the mail before we leave.

TKG will be on a brief vacation starting June 15th. Please make any purchases before then.

We love adventures!

Categories: Adventure, Beach, Beach Snoballs, Business, Communication, Family, Florida, Food, Outdoors, Packing, Parachute Cord, Paracord, Photography, Random, Summer, Summer Desserts, Summer Recipes, Survival gear, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Transportation, Travel, Trip planning, United States | Leave a comment

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