A Partial Cross-Country Trip, From New York to Colorado

Hiya friends,

I know this post is about three weeks late, but sheesh 2015 started with a friggin’ bang, did it not? I feel like we’ve barely had time to sit at all since we arrived in Denver. I did want to throw up just a couple of photos of our halfway-cross-country trip from New York to Colorado, though, as well as give a little bit of info on some of the places we stayed and ate. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend in each place (I think the longest we stayed was about 20 hours in St. Louis, although many of those hours were spent sleeping), but I really feel like we still got a good idea what each place was about … and we loved ’em all!

Oh by the way, in case you were wondering, our route took us this way:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 4.29.12 PM

We made stops in:

All the hotels were great (especially the Hilton in St. Louis — totally walking distance to the Arch!), and pet-friendly to boot.

So without further adieu … a bit of our cross-country trip in photos:

01Car_Penny^^ We hopped into the car on Thursday, Jan. 8th, all four of us as a family. Everyone was all, “Oh my gosh, you’re taking your cat and your rabbit in the car with you? For four days? Across the country?” And we were all, “Ummm, yeah. They’ll be totally fine!” And guess what friends — they really were! Totally rocked it, is what this kitten and bunny did! Good job guys – we were very proud of you.

02Entering_Ohio^^ Helloooooo Ohio! Unfortunately we only spent a couple of waking hours here, but when we checked out TripAdvisor for a suggestion on where to eat, it turned out the highly rated Flatiron Bar & Diner had received pretty great reviews and, wahooooo!, it was basically right in our parking lot! I ate a delicious fried oyster po’ boy and Chris had the gumbo and we had some beers — it was just what the doctor ordered after 10 hours of driving.

03Hotel_Penny^^ Penny and Nugget had no trouble making themselves at home in our hotel rooms — especially the Hilton in St. Louis which was super swank.

04Arch_Ground^^ Like I mentioned before, the Arch was only a couple blocks from our hotel, so we just had to head out at night to catch it all lit up …

05Night_Arch^^ And it did not disappoint!

06Schnicklefritz_Beer^^ That night we grabbed some drinks at the Hyatt, which was right across the street from our hotel (we had cheated a bit and ordered room service for dinner, which was FABULOUS!). I got this beer based solely on its name (obviously), and it turned out to be totally delicious.

07Arch_Ride^^ We purchased tickets online the night before and headed out (in the frigid cold, I might add) the next morning to head up the Arch and see the sites. It really was a pretty fun experience, but be warned clustrophobes … this is maybe NOT the activity for you! I wouldn’t consider myself to be claustrophobic, but even so, the tiny little vessels that carry you to the top of the Arch had my heart racing — and Chris and I were in there alone! (On the way up we were alone at least … we shared with two people on the way down.) I can’t imagine how it would have been if the intended six people were squished together in there!

08Arch_View^^ But the views are pretty spectacular, so you kind of forget about the ride up (and down) once you’re up there.

09Arch_Shadow

10Up_In_Arch

11Arch_Walkway

12Arch_Outside

13StLouis_Courthouse^^ This is the Old Courthouse, where the slave Dred Scott sued for his and his wife’s freedom in 1846. This statue stands as a monument to the couple — and everything that historic case stood for — outside of the courthouse today.

14Schfly_Brewery^^ For lunch we headed to Schlafly Brewery, which was really super amazingly fun.

15Brewery_Dinner^^ Chris has poutine, beer soup and lots of regular beers for lunch. He was a happy boy.

16KansasCity_Kids^^ This is Pen and Nuggs making themselves comfortable in our Kansas City hotel. Unfortunately we didn’t take too many photos in Kansas City (or I tried, I should say, to take some of the adorable downtown area, but they came out horrible). But we really, really loved it here! The downtown area is super cute, and we ate dinner at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue, which was so fantastic, even for me, a vegetarian. We ordered fried mushrooms and Chris had steak (obviously), while I got a salad and some of their BBQ shrimp on the side to add in. It was heaven on a plate.

17Colorado_Welcome^^ After four days of driving and 1,836 miles covered (plus lots of McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway for lunch), we had made it to Colorado, my friends, and our final destination — Denver — was in site.

And that’s it in a nutshell, ya’ll! It was a wild, fast and furious couple of days for us, but it was super fun, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Bis bald, friends! Chris and I are off to the mountains again today — I hope everyone else is making the most of the lovely winter months, as well!

Our Final Days of Spring Break 2014: Denver, Colorado

Denver. Ah, Denver. Our third and final stop on our short little tour of Colorado.

You see, we’ve heard lots of amazing things about this city. We have a handful of friends and family members who live here, and they just seem to love, love, love, love, love it.

Like … really, they love it a lot.

So we had high expectations, to say the least.

We started our tour of Denver with a quick drive around the city to familiarize ourselves with it. We drove through Cheeseman Park (so cute!), and stopped off in the Capitol Hill area to take in a few of the more touristy aspects …

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3^^ Cheesy tourist photos — they’re kind of a must … am I right?!

After hanging around on our own for a while, we met up Thursday evening with my brother-in-law’s sister and her fiancee. (Did ya catch that?) Anyway, Rachel and Steve have lived in Denver for a bunch of years now, and they are two of those people I mentioned before who just love, love love it there ;)

They took us to the Vine Street Pub & Brewery for dinner, which was super chill and relaxed. We went outside with beers from the bar and watched people playing Cornhole while we waited for our table … it was that relaxed.

And that was about it for Thursday, since we didn’t get into Denver until around 1 anyway. Friday, however, we had quite the touristy day. We woke up early so that we could head out to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which was simply stunning.

Photo 4

Photo 5^^ We were shocked  at how much exercising went on here!
Seriously, people everywhere running up and down the stairs,
jumping the rocks, running every single row … fascinating!
I guess if you have to work out, you can’t have a
better backdrop then at Red Rocks, right?

Photo 6

Photo 7

 

Red Rocks was about an hour outside of Denver, and we spent a couple hours there just taking it all in. So by the time we made it back into the city, we were starving!

Thank God for Mexican food when you’re starving … am I right?! And  Rio Grande in the LoDo section did not disappoint.

Photo 8

 

We sat outside under umbrellas in the 70-degree weather (hello, summer!), eating our burritos and drinking our margaritas. [A word to the wise: Watch it on the margaritas here. A single drink contains 3.5 shots of tequila! That’s why they have a three drink maximum on the margs, particularly. We should know, we asked ;)]

After lunch I headed across the street to buy an outrageously expensive tee from Patagonia (I was desperate! I hadn’t read the weather beforehand and was wearing two long-sleeved shirts … and I was sweltering!), and then we caught the free 16th Street MallRide shuttle over to Commons Park, where we hopped on bikes from the Denver Bike Share program and rode over the South Platte River to the section of Denver known as The Highlands.

And oh my goodness did we love it here, my friends! And it wasn’t just because of Little Man Ice Cream (although that did help a lot ….)

Photo 9

This whole area had a very relaxed, young, happening atmosphere. It was very cool, to say the least.

So after scarfing down some ice cream (don’t ask me how I did that after eating a ton of Mexican for lunch … I have a superhuman stomach, this is for certain), we hopped back on our bikes and rode as fast as possible back to the LoDo section to meet up with Chris’s old boss for drinks at Freshcraft before heading off to the Washington Park section of Denver to meet up with our cousin and her husband and baby.

Sheesh we really crammed a lot into one full day, didn’t we!?

Anyway, Courtney and Charlie’s place was adorable, and they were so lovely to get a babysitter for the evening so that they could come back out with us for dinner at the Ale House and a couple of brewskies afterwards at Denver Beer Co. (Which, by the way, might have been my favorite brewery of all the ones we visited. It was late when we arrived — in fact we stayed until closing at midnight — but the big garage doors that make up the front of the place were thrown open from the warmer weather earlier in the day, and everyone was hanging out on picnic tables with their dogs. Very fun.)

And that, as they say, was that, my friends. It was a lot  to do in one day, but I’m really glad that we got to fit in as much as we did on Friday. I wasn’t convinced that we had seen everything Denver had to offer on Thursday (I mean that’s a stupid thing to even write, because of course we didn’t. It’s impossible to see everything any city has to offer in one day), but Friday gave me a better look at the Denver that I had heard so much about.

And that I really, truly, look forward to going back to.

Okay friends, so I’m off again next week — wahoo! This time I’ll be heading to Washington, D.C. to spend the week with a friend for her birthday. This is the friend I went to Florida with, and the one who when I visit we generally hang out and do nothing but eat and drink and chat. (Except for when she has me crafting like crazy for her sister’s baby shower)  — but this time we’ve promised each other that we will get out and about into the city to actually do something historical. Or fun. Or both.

But we’ll just have to wait to see how that goes ;)

Bis bald, friends!

 

 

A Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip for the Man!

^^ I did it! I pulled off a secret!

^^ I did it! I pulled off a secret!

Hi friends!

So tomorrow is the big day — the day Chris and I fly out for his Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip! And yes, I somehow DID manage to keep the secret! (Well not the whole secret, I accidentally forwarded our flight information to him thinking it was information about a different flight. That was stupid.)

I put together these three envelopes for Chris to open when he got home tonight. Step 1 contained our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow. Step 2 contained our rental car information, becauseeeeeeee … Step 3 were our tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road St. Augustine Stopover Tour!

I’m totally excited for this. Not only will we be seeing Mumford & Sons, fun., Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and tons of other great acts, but I’ll finally get to show Chris St. Augustine, the town where I lived for a year and 1/2 after graduating from college. It means a lot to me to be able to share that with him.

I also booked a boat tour with Mike’s Yacht of Fun — so I can’t wait to report back on that!

Bis bald, friends! Pray for us to have good weather!

An Ode to Cab Drivers in Manhattan

^^We didn't actually take a cab on our wedding day, but this lovely driver was kind enough to oblige us for a photo.

^^We didn’t actually take a cab on our wedding day, but this lovely driver was kind enough to oblige us for a photo.

One thing I forgot to mention about our adventure with Rory yesterday was our cab ride that started it all.

Penn State isn’t exactly the easiest for us to get to from our apartment (6 train to E train [which never works] to Penn, or 6 train to 33rd and walking five blocks), and I didn’t want Kevin and Rory to have to wait there for us, so we decided to hop in a cab.

“Penn Station, please,” I prompted the driver when we hopped in at Lexington and 94th.

That’s when the fun began. The driver reached into the backseat and handed me a GPS system. “Can you plug it in for me, what you said?” he asked. “It’s my first day.”

Holy cow, you guys. Can you even begin to imagine how scary it would be for it to be your first day as a cab driver in Manhattan? And if this guy couldn’t even figure out how to get from the Upper East Side to Penn Station … let’s just say it was fairly obvious he hadn’t done any studying ahead of time.

So I told him we’d help him out, instead, and asked him to just head to 33rd and 7th.

First he stopped the cab mid-way in an intersection when the light changed from yellow to red, then proceeded to BACK UP, almost hitting a pedestrian (who let us know how unhappy she was with almost being hit, mind you) in the process. Then he turned left (aka East) on 33rd instead of the correct right (aka West), and proceeded to back up yet again when I told him he was going the wrong way.

Poor guy.

To make matters worse, when we finally did make it to Penn Station, he stopped the cab and just sat there. Chris and I looked at each other. No one moved. Something was going to have to be done in order for me to pay him with a credit card.

“You have to hit a button or something so I can pay you,” I said.

Nothing.

After futzing around with a couple buttons, Chris and I thought we figured out how to pay with the card from the back seat, but it never went through.

“Never mind, it’s okay,” said Mr. New-Not-Very-Good-Yet-Cab-Driver. “I’m new, so this ride is on me.”

I felt terrible not paying, but there wasn’t anything we could do. I only hope that that poor cab driver didn’t go all day unable to figure out how to get the credit card machine to work.

I also hope that his other riders were as nice (and understanding!) to him as Chris and I tried to be.

So here’s to the Manhattan cab drivers who make our lives so much easier in this crazy city. It’s certainly not an easy job … but someone’s gotta do it!

Arizona In Instagram Pics

Hi friends!

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend! For reasons that I will go into in more detail in my full trip post, I ended up taking the majority of my photos on this trip with my iPhone … which of course meant posting them directly to Instagram.

So I figured I’d just post a quick preview of things to come in my full-on post by uploading all of the Instagram pics here. But before I do that, just some highlights from our trip:

  • We spent 12 hours in Charlotte after missing our connecting flight to Phoenix because of rain delays, but that’s okay because we got to eat a wonderful brunch and check out the downtown area because of it.
  • We went on amazing hikes, ate delicious food and drank lots of tequila.
  • I experienced a slight case of heat exhaustion … not fun, my friends! And after all that research I did to avoid it!
  • We did lots of swimming in my friend’s pool.
  • We were randomly, and for reasons still unknown to us, upgraded to first class seats on our flight back from Phoenix. Not too shabby!

Here’s a taste of what’s to come …

^^Rain made things pretty, but is not optimal for flying.

^^Rain made things pretty, but is not optimal for flying.

^^Bloody Mary's in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.

^^Bloody Mary’s in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.

^^Biscuits and grits. This is Charlotte.

^^Biscuits and grits. This is Charlotte.

^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.

^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.

^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.

^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.

^^Welcome to Sedona!!

^^Welcome to Sedona!!

^^Porous shoes on a 7-mile hike = lots of stopping to empty them out.

^^Porous shoes on a 7-mile hike = lots of stopping to empty them out.

^^Sedona hike--unbelievable.

^^Sedona hike–unbelievable.

^^Man and wilderness.

^^Man and wilderness.

^^Downtown Sedona.

^^Downtown Sedona.

^^Canyon Breeze views.

^^Canyon Breeze views.

^^Spinach enchilada with a mango margarita.

^^Spinach enchilada with a mango margarita.

^^Bye-bye Sedona. It's been real.

^^Bye-bye Sedona. It’s been real.

^^Gilbert Farmer's Market.

^^Gilbert Farmer’s Market.

^^Vegan quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberry scone and iced coffee.

^^Vegan quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberry scone and iced coffee.

^^99 degrees? Check. I will be hiking to the top of this mountain. Wish me luck. (Hint: this is where the heat exhaustion came into play... duh duh duhhhh!)

^^99 degrees? Check. I will be hiking to the top of this mountain. Wish me luck. (Hint: this is where the heat exhaustion came into play… duh duh duhhhh!)

^^View from about 1/4 mile up Cholla Hike, Scottsdale.

^^View from about 1/4 mile up Cholla Hike, Scottsdale.

^^Cheers to you, Arizona!

^^Cheers to you, Arizona!

^^Who got a free upgrade to first class on the way home? This guy! (And the gal he was with!)

^^Who got a free upgrade to first class on the way home? This guy! (And the gal he was with!)

So that’s it for now, my friends! I’ll be back soon with the full details of our (amazing and very hot!) trip.

Bis bald!

The Wheels On the Bus …

Are taking me to somewhere with better weather than NYC!

I’m on my Tripper Bus right now on my way to visit a BFF in D.C. I’ve got my Wi-Fi, my computer, some movies and music and my bottle of water … I’m good to go for the 4 1/2 hour ride.

I’ll update soon about the goings-on in and around D.C. (although in the name of full disclosure, I have to admit that Lisa and I do a whole lotta nothing — happily! — on these trips, so there may not be much to report).

Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone has fun weekend plans.

Where the Weather Was Good…

A lovely fall day at a winery in Virginia.

Hey friends,

So back in New York City things are … not so good. I mean, for myself and Chris–we’re pretty lucky. We never lost power or internet, our apartment was never flooded and things have pretty much gone on as usual. However, less than a few miles away we know things are much, much different. My heart just pours out to everyone who has lost friends and loved ones, valued possessions or entire homes. It’s just so horrible. Climate change–it’s really something to think about, isn’t it?

Chris has been working from home this whole week since the power is out at his office, but they hope to return on Monday. The New York City marathon, as of right now, will still happen Sunday and word on the street is the power will back on for everyone in Manhattan by Saturday evening.

In an effort to starting returning all things to normal, I thought I’d go ahead and blog about last weekend, when we were having a blast at JMU homecoming in Virginia.

So here’s to happy, warm weather memories …

Last Friday Chris and I set off to La Guardia to pick up our rental car at around 6:30 in the morning. We had about a 6 hour drive ahead of us to Stanley, Virginia, and we were eager to get started. Since we couldn’t check in to our log cabin (which was ahhhhmazing, by the way! More on that later!), the plan was for all of us to meet up at a local winery I had found, Wisteria, which was about a 10 minute drive away from where we’d be staying.

Chris, my cousin Alyssa, her boyfriend Jesse and myself were the first to arrive at the winery, and it was exactly as I would have wanted it to be. Cute. Charming. Low-key. Tasty wine. The owners–a retired husband and wife–opened the winery a few years back. Their two dogs, chickens, roosters and flock of sheep live on the property (which you know I loved), as well.

After our wine tasting ($12 per person for a tasting of 12 wines and a glass…gotta love VA!), we all congregated on a bench outside with some purchased bottles to take in the scenery and chat:

After our cute little vineyard tour, we all hopped in our cars and headed off to the cabin. Of course I had seen the photos on the website, and I had verified (multiple times) that the cabin we were getting was the one in the photos, but still, you can never be sure.

But let me tell you, my friends, we were not disappointed:

Our beer-stocked fridge. We had food, too. Somewhere.

Our game room.

Our fire pit area, which Chris was obsessed with.

Cabin view from the fire pit.

The hot tub in the main bedroom.

The 8-person hot tub on the porch. Of course when we put 8 people in it, it overflowed just a bit. But you know, no big deal.

One view of our wrap-around porch.

The awesome grill, which we only used once.

The other side of our porch, with the adorable wooden rocking chairs and cute little Checkers table.

The dining room.

The kitchen in use!

The living room.

Living room from the top floor balcony. There were three floors to the house, and 5 bedrooms total.

The top floor living room.

One of the bedrooms on the top floor.

Saturday morning breakfast of bagels, eggs, bacon and mimosas.

Our time at the cabin was mostly spent eating (we all took turns cooking), drinking, watching football, playing games in the game room, building fires in the fire pit, chilling in the hot tub (although somehow we only managed to do that Friday night) and playing beer pong and cards. It was an amazing time.

And on Saturday, Chris, Alyssa, Jesse and I headed to the JMU campus to catch the JMU football game and tailgate a bit.

They say this statue of James Madison is built to his actual height. What a cute little shorty.

Me and Carla, my freshman year roommate.

Now I hadn’t been back to the stadium since my first year out of school, but I knew they had done some remodeling. It was actually pretty impressive (as was our defeat to Georgia State!):

Purple-ing Out!

After the game we went to the book store and took a quick walk around campus, then headed back to the cabin, where we ate delicious shrimp fajitas, made a fire, played beer pong and cards, and where my sister and her friend Jenna had made a birthday cookie cake for Chris, whose birthday was last week.

On Sunday we were all pretty eager to head back to our homes as early as possible, since we all knew the storm was brewin’. So that was about it–our Virginia weekend in a nutshell. It was really fun, and I’d recommend this cabin to anyone looking for a quiet little retreat in the woods.

A word of caution though: if you do stay here, beware that the firewood bundles are $5 per bundle to use. Don’t go ahead and use them all up on the first night assuming they are free. Like Chris did.

Bis bald, friends! And if you were in any way affected by the storm, we’re thinking and praying for you!

A Gorgeous (and Expensive) Drive Through the Alps

Hi friends,

So back to last Wednesday morning, Chris and his dad left the hotel early to pick up our rental car so that we could get on out of Munich. We would be driving about 2 hours from Munich to Salzburg to drop Chris’s parents off (it was so sad to say goodbye!), and then Chris and I would be continuing on to Venice.

We knew that we were starting off with an expensive journey, since renting a car in one country and returning it in another is, you know, not that cheap.

Little did we know that was just the beginning …

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