A First Plane Ride in the Books

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Well friends, someone had her first plane ride last Tuesday (and her second one back home to Denver yesterday), and I’m happy to report she did very well! It’s going to take me a couple days at least to go through all my photos of our trip, but for now I wanted to share this pic of Lotte looking out the window as we touched down back home in Denver yesterday. Whether you were old enough when you took your first flight to remember it or not, there’s just something so magical about it.

Bis bald, friends – I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving.

About Last Night’s Election …

thumb__dsc6400_1024I woke up in a different America this morning than the one I went to sleep in last night.

A little before midnight Mountain Time on November 8th, I decided to go to bed after Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman told the eager (if somewhat deflated) crowd at the Javits Center in Manhattan that they should all go home, because there were still a handful of states left to be counted in the 2016 election for president, and many votes left to include.

This election, he said, wouldn’t be over until every last voice had been heard.

I went to sleep last night hopeful, and still very optimistic that the America I live in is not one that would elect a man like Donald Trump to the highest office of the land.

This morning, however, I woke up in one that did.

I won’t resort to name calling because, as the ever-so-eloquent Michelle Obama says, “when they go low, we go high.” Plus, there has been enough mudslinging over the past few months to last me a lifetime.

I did, however, feel the need to say something, somewhere, and since this is my blog, where I’m allowed my feelings and have been keeping track of my own adventures since 2008, I thought this was a good place. I didn’t take to Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram because, again, I’m not interested in the mudslinging.

Last night the media was talking about how it was possible that everyone — every. single. member. of. the.media. — could have so drastically missed the boat on what was happening. It’s a point well worth taking. “We’ve missed the groundswell of what’s going on in middle America,” one anchor said. “We sit here in our offices in big cities and conduct our polls with the people around us, and we’ve totally ignored what’s being said in rural America.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)

Rural America, it seems, had a lot to say, and they made their point very clear at the polls last night. Trump supporting women (women!) who were interviewed said things like, “Who doesn’t like being groped!” and “I’ve heard women say far more worse things about men,” and “That was so long ago, why should it matter?”

To them, mostly, I am speechless. I understand there are people in this world who still believe all Mexican or Muslim people are evil. (I didn’t say I believed that, I said I understand these people exist.) I can understand (again, not agree with) how Donald Trump’s specific brand of hate breathes new fire into those beliefs.

I can understand there are men in this world who still look at women as objects — playthings with which they can do whatever they want. To me, though, the fact that there are women out there who potentially believe this as well … that’s a real tragedy.

I’m not here to say that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to Americans — I’m not that naive. No one died here, or was sent into battle. This is simply an embarrassment of monumental proportions, a blistering wake-up call about our calamitous divisions as a country, and one that we all, as a country, need to come to terms with. What I am going to say, though, is that Donald Trump is not now, nor will he ever be, my president. He does not represent my ideals or beliefs, and he in fact represents the complete opposite of what I believe America stands for.

For the record, I still love America. I love living here, and I love being American. I do believe that we can find our way back to the ideals that this country was originally founded on. After all, we’re all immigrants here. We’re all “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” … at least our ancestors were, and it’s in our blood.

So what am I going to do about an election with which I so deeply disagree with the results? I don’t know about tomorrow, or the day after or the day after that, but for today, what I’m going to do is hug my daughter a little tighter.

I’m going to repeat over and over to her that despite the fact that we unfortunately now live in a world that apparently rewards bigotry, racism and name-calling, she, however, will never embody those characteristics, and she, however, is just like everyone else in this country, and around the world. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly (at least at first).

And despite the fact that we unfortunately now live in a world that apparently rewards sexism, she will never put up with that type of behavior from any man. She is WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS ANY MAN, and she is special, and unique and smart. No man, despite what he might say about her, or women in general, in the future, can take those things away.

Today I will take a deep breath. I will realize that despite what happened in the early hours of this morning, the sun still came up, and Americans still enjoy oh-so-many more freedoms than do so many other people around the world (in fact, last night might just be a perfect example of that), and for that I am eternally grateful and humbled.

Today I will realize that while the feelings we’re all feeling are justified — whether that’s elation, complete confusion or downright depression — there is still a tomorrow.

And there is also another election in just four short years. Let’s make that one count.

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^^ Clearly we’ve still got a lot of work to do … let’s fix this, for our kids.

Scenic Sunday Drives in Golden

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Happy Monday, friends!

Upfront I want to say that this is not an advertisement for Subaru, although we did pick up our new Forester on Friday and take it for a drive around Golden on Sunday, and it was just a little bit of fabulousness!

We decided to take the wheels for an introductory spin up the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway and stop by Buffalo Bill’s Grave. We also hit up Golden City Brewery on the way back home. (I’ve blogged about these places, as well as a few other Golden hot spots, here, if you’re interested.) If you’re ever in the Denver/Golden area, I would highly recommend checking out these spots, even if only for the amazing views you’ll get …

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fullsizerender-100^^ I let the hubs do the heavy stroller lifting these days😉

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fullsizerender8^^ That’s Denver there in the distance … oh hey, Denvy!

fullsizerender9^^ A pixelated up-close view!

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Is it just me, or does having a great Sunday make heading back to work on Monday just a little bit easier?

I hope you guys had a great weekend, too!

Bis bald!

Another Birthday Celebration in the Books, This Time in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

thumb__dsc5111_1024^^ Have you ever seen a happier dog? Can you blame him — look at that view!

Well my friends, we made it back from our first road trip with the Little, and we’re all in tact and, what’s more, we all had an amazing time. Chris’s birthday was this past Saturday, so we decided to check out a new place — Steamboat Springs. At only a little over three hours away, it was the perfect place to get our feet wet when it comes to traveling with a baby, and Lotte obliged us by being pretty much amazing the entire time.

What can I say — she has travel in her blood😉

For starters, we stayed at Nordic Lodge which, while totally bare essentials when it comes to amenities, was the perfect location, especially when you have a baby who needs feeding  and/or a good nap every couple hours and you prefer to do that at a home base. They had a Pack ‘n Play that we were able to use for our trip, which meant we could skip taking up room in the car with ours, and they were willing to upgrade us for free to a larger room to accommodate the Pack ‘n Play, although we opted to pay an extra $50 for the weekend and actually upgrade to a suite with a separate bedroom, that way Lotte could nap in peace and we didn’t have to tiptoe around her and whisper the whole time.

I gotta say — for newbies, I think we did well!

Here’s what we three got up to …

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^^ You know my child would have a onesie specifically dedicated to traveling, although I can’t take credit for buying this — it was all my sister!

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^^ Our first night in town we walked to Mahogany Ridge Brewery for dinner which, while a brewery, was in my opinion probably a little bit fancier than you should bring a baby (and a huge stroller!) to. So we really have to give props to Lotte for sleeping through our entire meal! Great job, kid! That certainly made us feel more comfortable taking you out for more restaurant visits throughout the weekend.

03fullsizerender^^ Chris’s traditional birthday steak dinner … just one night early😉

04fullsizerender_1^^ What you see here are parents who are ecstatic that their child slept through their meal!

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^^ The cute little town, all lit up at night.

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^^ Saturday started out with this adorable face … and some birthday present opening😉

02_dsc5002^^ After presents we made our way to Fish Creek Falls, a pretty little hike that was short enough to do with our 3-month-old strapped to Chris’s chest and long enough to make us feel like we actually did something — plus it was so pretty! (Bring $5 for parking! I had read that this place gets really packed, but during the off-peak season at like 7:30 in the morning, it was pretty much us alone on the trails — we only ran into two other (very small) groups of people the whole time.)

03thumb__dsc5066_102404thumb__dsc5060_102405thumb__dsc5033_1024^^ The falls!

06thumb__dsc5064_102407thumb__dsc5082_1024^^ The rising sun was not my photography friend on this hike, but the falls are there, if you look hard enough!

08fullsizerender_7^^ Again, slept like a champ throughout the whole thing! We made sure to rug her up so she was nice and warm, all cozy-like against dad’s chest for the hike.

09fullsizerender_10^^ After the hike we had a seriously delicious breakfast at Creekside Cafe & Grill, which just happens to literally be almost in the parking lot of the hotel where we stayed. Score! The back porch was closed for the season, but it was such a glorious day we could easily have eaten outside and been happy. Oh well — next time! 

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11fullsizerender_12^^ Bloody Mary’s all around!

12fullsizerender_13^^ Under the table and dreaming😉

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15fullsizerender_16^^ See? How cute is this back patio?!

16fullsizerender_8^^ After breakfast we went for a little walk in town to do some shopping and check out the fall colors. Although some things were unfortunately closed for the season (like back patios, for example, and the gondola), I would highly recommend traveling during this time. It was really quiet, which was nice, and the views were spectacular.

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^^ If you’re looking for a quintessential Western shop with cowboy boots, hats and the like, check out F.M. Light & Sons. It’s sort of an institution in town.

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21fullsizerender_20^^ Cowboy boots for days!

22fullsizerender_21^^ They had ’em for kids, too!

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24fullsizerender_23^^ See what I mean about the fall colors? Glorious!

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28fullsizerender_27^^ Elevated Oil is a fun place to check out if you’re an olive oil connoisseur. You can even taste test the oils, which I thought would be totally gross but actually turned out to be delicious! 

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30fullsizerender_29^^ After shopping we hopped in the car for a (super) short ride to Storm Peak brewery, which was a really fun little brewery with tons of delicious beers on tap. Plus the weather was so nice they opened the garage doors, making it even more fun to hang.

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32fullsizerender_31^^ Again, ecstatic parents that their child is cooperating …

33fullsizerender_32^^ Lotte did wake up from a short nap here, which allowed us to take some silly pictures. Always a plus in my book.

34img_7208^^ Silly pic No. 1 …

35fullsizerender_34^^ And 2 …

36img_7202^^ And 3 …

37img_7207^^ And 4 … and trust me, there were many more, but I’ll spare you. You get the picture.

38img_7116^^ We tried to hang at Butcherknife Brewing after Storm Peak, but Lotte had had enough, which was fair enough — you did well little one! So we headed back to the hotel so she could nap properly, and Chris and I ordered take-out from Rex’s American Grill & Bar. In all honesty, we only ordered from this place because I thought it delivered (it does not, I had to go pick our food up), but it turned out to be delicious, so it was a win!

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02img_7254^^ On Sunday morning we had to get rugged up again (which someone was not happy about at first), because we took a walk down by the Yampa River.

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07thumb__dsc5106_1024^^ On the way back to the lodge to grab the car we stopped in Off the Beaten Path, an amazing local bookstore that I highly recommend, if you’re into that kind of thing😉

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09thumb__dsc5120_1024^^ We definitely wanted to check out the area near the mountain while we were there as well. It’s really cute with lots of little shops and restaurants, and while you can tell it would probably be crazy packed in winter, again, at this perfect time of year, it was pretty empty, which is always amazing for a ski town.

10thumb__dsc5109_1024^^ Improvising when no ramp is available.

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14thumb__dsc5128_1024^^ We grabbed lunch at Slopeside Grill before heading out and ate on their deck. Chris was a bit upset they didn’t have more local beers on tap, but their veggie burger was pretty awesome (although Mahogany’s was better, if you’re keeping score) and the views were unparalleled. 

15img_7264^^ Multitasking at its best.

16img_7267^^ Views on the drive home.

And that was it, my friends — our first road trip with Lotte is officially in the books, and it was a great one. Her next big trip will be in November when we head back east for Thanksgiving, and that one involves a plane. Yikes. Wish us luck!

Bis bald, friends!

Life Recently: The Early Fall 2016 Edition

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Fall has been fast and furious for us so far, with lots of fun trips, a visit from Aussie Nan and Poppa and our first pumpkin carving experience with Lotte.

Here’s a look at some of what’s been going on … prepare for picture overload!

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^^ Someone was unimpressed with how rugged up her parents made her get for her first official fall walk.

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^^ So incredibly grateful to live a stones throw from this gorgeous view.

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^^ Yay! Aussie Nan and Poppa were here!

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^^ What’s not to smile about when you’re this fawned over😉

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^^ This face … and the Nan and Poppa who love her.

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^^ Outtakes from a family photo shoot on our front porch.

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^^ Someone remained unimpressed pretty much the entire time. Oh well, what can ya do?!

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^^ This photo with Penny creeping in the background … I just can’t.

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^^ Date night made possible by Nan and Poppa … thank you!

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^^ An up-close look at how awkward our baby handoffs still are. This parenting thing … what can I say? It’s a work in progress😉

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^^ We got all dolled up for a Facetime date with American Papa for his 60th birthday. Of course we didn’t look this angelic the whole time. Most of the time, we looked like this …

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^^ Yeahhhhh. This is definitely more accurate.

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^^ Also, when your child falls asleep on you after a screaming fit, it’s best to let her lie … wherever that may be.

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^^ Monkeying around at the Carousel of Happiness — get it😉

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^^ Chris’s parents were generous enough to get us a fire pit for our backyard as our housewarming gift. Delicious smores under the fall night sky, here we come!

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^^ I’ve started a tradition of grabbing a coffee and driving around town with Lotte for a bit in the afternoons. It’s pretty amazing some of the views you can catch around here …

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^^ Facetiming with family. It’s the only cure for this ‘living far away’ thing.

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^^ I may have overdone it with the cover-up job for this particular walk.

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^^ Snow on the mountains … welcome to October!

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^^ We took a long walk with Lotte to the local coffee shop this weekend, and she was great! She only screamed for about the last five minutes of it, which I’ll count as a win.

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^^ Carving pumpkins with our little pumpkin. (We simply couldn’t resist this photo opportunity!)

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Happy fall, friends! Hope yours is off to a roaring start, as well!

A Date Night in Olde Town Arvada

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While my in-laws were in town Chris and I had a chance to have a date night out in Olde Town Arvada, which I’ve been meaning to get to since we moved here in May.

We’ve been busy, to say the least.

Anyway, I did a little research and found Arvada Tavern, which, according to TripAdvisor, is the second best place in Arvada to eat. After checking it out for ourselves I have to say I was really impressed. The cocktails were spectacular — especially the seasonal pumpkin flavored one I tried — and the food was even better. Check it out when you’re in town.

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And of course after dinner we had to stop off at Scrumptious for some ice cream dessert. The best part about date night these days, though, is coming home to this …

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^^ I mean …

We actually got to do quite a bit while the in-laws were here. Lotte went to Boulder again, we got to visit a pumpkin patch and we even took the little one on her first carousel ride. I’ll have more on all that later, for now — bis bald, friends!

Please Welcome the Newest Member of Our Weary Wanderer Team …

04-IMG-4.jpg^^^The (incredibly amazing) reason I’ve been MIA …

Hey friends! Sorry for the radio silence lately, but that precious little bub up above is the reason I’ve been so busy. Welcome Charlotte (aka Lotte) Marie Connor, our beautiful little baby girl who was born on July 27 at 2:30 in the morning.

Now I promise you that I’ll try to refrain from outright gushing, or from posting too many baby pics in the future, because at its heart, this is still my travel blog, and that means I’ll do my best to cover only travel related things. But for just this once, please allow me to divulge just a bit in baby pictures … because you only have your first kid once😉

Also, these pictures make me sad, because Lotte isn’t even two months yet and how is it possible she’s grown and changed so much already? Parenthood. It’s crazy, am I right?

Welcome to the world, baby Lotte. Your dad and I promise to do our best to show you all the amazing things this world has to offer. That is, we promise to make you a Weary Wanderer, as well …

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^^^ Our very first trip out of the house after heading home from the hospital was back to the hospital for my one-week check-up (thank you emergency c-section!). I think I look much more put together in this picture than I actually was, although my screwed up purse tells the real story😉

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^^^ Our first walk, which lasted about 10 minutes. Again, Lotte looks perfectly happy here, which isn’t the whole story😉

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^^^ Not the best shot of the onesie, but I couldn’t resist her little (almost) smiley face! “Made in America, With Australian Parts” … a big shout out to my sis for this amazing outfit!

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^^^ The first time you put your child in her crib for a nap and you spend the entire time watching the monitor …

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^^^ Our first ever trip out of the house that was not doctor related was to Boulder with my uncle and step-dad. We’ve had so many visitors and helpers these past few weeks, our family and friends have all been real life savers.

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^^^ Lotte has also been to Denver, Red Rocks (pictured here) and Golden. Not all of these trips have been roaring successes, but I’m determined to keep at it! Hey – practice makes perfect, right?!

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^^^ Baby cuddles = my new favorite thing in the world.

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^^^ Someone is smitten with dad …
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^^^ See what I mean?! How is Lotte so big already?! The first picture is from the day we brought her home from the hospital, compared with one on her one-month birthday. Same Pack ‘n Play, entirely bigger baby.

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^^^ This hubs of mine now travels with a Ergobaby, and it’s kind of amazing.

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It’s not smiles over here 24/7 people, to be sure, but I’d say more often than not we’re on Cloud 9, and we’re definitely starting to get into more of a routine (or at least as much as you can two months into parenting). I can’t wait for our first travels with this little one – in fact, we’re taking her to New York in November for Thanksgiving, which will be her first plane ride at the ripe ole’ age of four months, and we hope to get away for a weekend on a road trip somewhere in October before my maternity leave is over.

Traveling with a kid …. I think things are about to be a whole lot different for us😉 We look forward to the challenge, and I look forward to getting back on here to update more frequently.

Until then, bis bald, friends!

A Final Day & Night In Tokyo

thumb__DSC3119_1024^^^ Hello! Do we look super excited to be up and out the door by 3:30 a.m. for a tuna auction? Good … because we were!

Hi friends,

So as I mentioned the other day, Tuesday was a pretty busy day for us, and it started before the sun was even awake when we all got up and were out the door by 3:30 a.m. in order to catch an Uber over to the Tsukiji Fish Market in time to watch the famous tuna auction.

The fish market itself is supposed to be the world’s biggest, moving about 1800 tons of seafood every single day. And the tuna auction — where prized maguro (bluefin tuna) gets auctioned off to the highest bidder — starts at 5 a.m. The line to register for the auction starts forming way before 5, though, and we were told to get there by 4 a.m. if we wanted in. Even arriving at 4, though, we were already in the second of only two groups allowed in, and there were only a handful of people allowed in after us — so this is one hot ticket, my friends!

And after going, I can see why. It’s so exciting! I mean it doesn’t last very long — they usher you out pretty quickly — but some of the best chefs in Japan come here to purchase their tuna, and one tuna can go for up to $10,000 each, so there’s definitely no funny business happening here — they take it very seriously. I have to admit, I’d never even been to an auction of any kind before, so to watch that whole thing go down was pretty fun. The auctioneer (is that the right word?!) closest to us must have been chosen specifically to be closest to the tourists who view the show, because he was some kind of fun to watch!

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thumb__DSC3143_1024^^^ Our auctioneer … so much fun!

After the auction — which probably lasts about 15-20 minutes for the viewing — we walked around the fish market for a while and took in those crazy sights. You can seriously find any and all kind of seafood here, from tasty looking to downright “Who would ever eat that?!” There was talk of potentially doing a sushi breakfast, but it was decided that, for as much adventure as we were down for, sushi breakfast after a big tempura dinner the night before just wasn’t going to be one of those adventures.

thumb__DSC3163_1024thumb__DSC3168_1024thumb__DSC3169_1024thumb__DSC3174_1024thumb__DSC3179_1024^^^ Pssst. Be aware taking photos at the market — some of the vendors did not take too kindly to it:/ This is actually true in quite a few places around Japan. Try to pay attention to any signs that might be posted asking people to not take pics … I was burned a few times, and I hate thinking of myself as one of those kinds of tourists …

After the auction we headed back to our apartment to rest for a bit and shower and get ready (attending a tuna auction at 5 in the morning means no one was quite prepared for the rest of the day). A little before noon we were back out the door and headed towards the Meiji-jingu shrine, which happened to be in Yoyogi Koen park, which was about a five to seven minute walk from our apartment. (Score!)

The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was completed in 1920 and destroyed during World War II, but it was rebuilt soon after. According to my guide book, the torii (or gates) at the entrance mark the beginning of the shrine’s sacred space. It supposedly gets pretty busy here during the day, but I think we were lucky and caught it during a not-so-hectic time.

thumb__DSC3180_1024thumb__DSC3195_1024^^^ Right after you pass through the torii you’ll find this water well. (Once we saw this one, we started spotting them all over Japan). Visitors are meant to spoon cupfuls of water into their left hand, then their right hand, then cup their hands and gather water in to put in their mouth and then spit into the well. Please don’t quote me on any of that, because it’s simply what another tourist told us we were meant to do. So we did it. I hope it was right!

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thumb__DSC3243_1024^^^ These decorative saki barrels were all gifts to the shrine, and really beautiful.

After the shrine we meandered into lunch at a little noodle shop we found along the way [which, thankfully, catered to tourists and had an English menu and specific vegetarian options. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to worry ;)]. After lunch we made our way over to Shibuya Crossing, which is meant to be one of the busiest intersections in the world. All of Shibuya in general, actually, is awash with vibrant colors, large ads and hustling, bustling streets. Essentially it’s the Times Square of Tokyo … something definitely not to be missed.

thumb__DSC3251_1024^^^ See us there in the middle, walkin’ across the street all normal like😉

After Shibuya (and some fabulous sunglass finds for both myself and Chris’s mom!), it was a quick subway ride back over to Roppongi Hills (remember, we tried that area the day before, but the weather turned to crap?) for the Tokyo City View and the Mohri Art Museum. Although we started at the Tokyo City View around 4 or so and planned to check it out for a minute, then do the art museum and head back for sunset, there were so many other exhibits to see up there, and such an expansive view to take in, that we ended up staying up there the entire time right through sunset.

And the views were absolutely stunning.

thumb__DSC3261_1024thumb__DSC3277_1024thumb__DSC3284_1024thumb__DSC3296_1024^^^ That helicopter in the right-hand corner of the picture provided a lot of entertainment for us as it hovered in the sky before landing quite close to the building we were in.

thumb__DSC3298_1024thumb__DSC3311_1024thumb__DSC3320_1024^^^ Goodnight, Tokyo!

You can actually get out onto the roof for a view as well, which we didn’t know until after the sun had gone down, which meant it was frigid and our time spent up there was short and sweet. Still worth it, though!

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Back inside we tried getting into the art exhibit we wanted to see, only to find out we had purchased the wrong tickets. As luck would have it, the exhibit we wanted to see was closed already, but the exhibit we had bought tickets for was still open, so we took a quick walk through that one, instead.

It was right about halfway through this art exhibit that it hit me, friends — I was exhausted. Like more exhausted than maybe I’ve ever been in my life, and my wee tired little legs were simply about to give out. Apparently this preggers lady needed to make more of a habit of taking breaks throughout the day, since that was something that up until that point I had not been paying close attention to. Anyway, the tiredness was all-consuming, and there was no point in trying to avoid it. Luckily we were all somewhat bushed — seeing as how we had started our day at 3 a.m. — so no one seemed all too annoyed to pack ourselves into a cab (one of the few we took during the whole trip, but the situation called for it!) and call it a night. I didn’t even eat dinner, folks, that’s how tired I was. Basically as soon as I got back to the apartment, the pajamas were on and I was in bed. Done. Lights out. Goodnight.

And that was Tuesday, friends! Long, exhausting, amazing, adventurous. It had it all!

The next day, Wednesday, we would be heading out on the bullet train to Kyoto, which is an experience all by itself. But more on that to come next time, friends. For now … bis bald!

Some Photographic Memories of a Poconos Getaway With My Bestie

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Hi friends,

The in-laws are out and about in Denver for the time being, so I thought I’d throw up some quick photos from a couple weeks ago when I took a little trip to the Poconos with my bestie. We stayed in East Stroudsburg (which, to be honest, didn’t have a whole heck of a lot going on) and made a day trip out to Bushkill Falls on the most perfect fall day.

Here’s a little tip for you — if you look at the map of the loop that makes its way around all the falls, you’ll notice that the red trail, which brings you around Bridal Veil Falls, is labeled as a trail for avid hikers.

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So Lisa and I actually connected pretty much all of the trails to get the overall, full view of as many falls as we could, and it really wasn’t that treacherous. Wanna know why? Because we started our hike out to the right of the entrance, meaning all those steps you see off to the left of the map that are part of the red trail, were all downhill. 

Not that we did that on purpose, but watching everyone huff and puff as they ascended those dozens and dozens of stairs sure made us glad we stumbled upon the trick to making it easier.

Anyway, check out this gorgeousness.

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It doesn’t get much prettier than that friends, am I right?