Tag Archives: travel

Vacation in Florida part II: Bring it on

3 Jul

For several nights we had 8 adults, 5 children under the age of three, and one dog in a pretty spectacular beach house. And it was wonderful.

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Beach parade!

The C’s arrived with their adorable six month old before Dave even got there. We took Little C out to the beach for the first time, and since he had just been on his first plane ride too, he was a fairly excited little boy (read: didn’t sleep well that night because he was taking it all in!).

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They’re going to be best buds.

I was so excited for Dave to get there that I woke up when he got in at 3am just to go greet him at the door.

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Beach family portrait!

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We took Duggy to the beach the first day before we knew he wasn’t allowed. He loved it so much and ran around like the happiest puppy in the world. It was probably a good idea he couldn’t go again cause he ate a bunch of sand and seemed to not feel well for a few days after.

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We had the Marines come visit us too! Kyle could only come Saturday night, but we were thankful to see him! He had been at a tough security training course all week, and Dave had to lure him our way with promises of a steak dinner.

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We rented bikes and kid trailers/seats, which was awesome because neither Dave nor I had ridden in at least a decade. It was euphoric and fun, and I can’t wait to continue riding at home. Good thing the Atlanta Beltline will be in our neighborhood in a couple years. Dave drove the bike with the trailer, and Walt would say “Faster Daddy!” every time he stopped pedaling!

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There was an ill-fated evening where we tried to go out to eat. The restaurants on the island hadn’t had power for three hours, so all the good ones were still closed. The one we finally picked because we were starving was overpriced and not that good — especially the margaritas. Little C expressed his displeasure by dumping his mom’s marg all over her and her white shorts!

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We found a good view — and got to walk on a bridge, much to Walter’s delight — along the way!

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More friends arrived later that week! Katye flew solo with her 4mo, and I picked them up at the airport in Sarasota. I love that the exit sign out of the airport has an arrow pointing towards “Beaches”! Her husband and another Marine and his family joined us too. It was an eclectic group of friends, the conversation around the dinner table never got boring, but we all meshed really well I thought. What a joy.

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One of my favorite parts of the trip were our sunset walks along the beach.

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Stormy skies. I love summer storms.

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The ocean might lull us to sleep, but it did not disappoint!

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We finally made it to dinner at The Beach House the last night we were there. Dave ordered a bucket to celebrate! The drinks there were insanely good, as was the food… and the company!!!

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Our beautiful friends who helped make it a one-of-a-kind vacation.

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Florida vacation to the rescue: part 1

18 Jun

Due to the overwhelming generosity of my in-laws, who own a house in Florida, I was able to take a two week vacation at the beach recently. I convinced my mom to drive down with me and Walt to enjoy a few extra days there since my husband has limited vacation days off of work. I have to admit, I was a little worried. My relationship with my mother can be a test at times, sometimes making a dinner feel like a long event. But we had such a good time that it felt like a miracle. I think it was the best time we’ve ever had together, and we got to experience some very cool things on top of that.

The drive down was pretty fun, although it was an extra hour longer than I would have liked because we had a disappointing stop at the Lane peach orchards. I am usually the biggest fan, as their peaches are always the sweetest and never mealy, but the bushel we got there was disappointing (they molded before they ever really ripened) and the lunch we ordered was downright awful, including them putting chicken on my vegetarian mother’s salad. It is also inevitable that whenever I drive down to Florida I hit a bad rainstorm. The only segment of the drive where I personally drove, we went through this terrible storm where I couldn’t see anything, was terrified, and my mom kept telling me to drive faster. Her car is newer than mine and much more sensitive to the touch, so I was just happy to be on the other side of the storm alive.

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Road trip!

We got to the house late, and Walter hadn’t really napped, so he was running around like a crazy boy at 9:30pm and ended up falling down the last couple of stairs while we were unpacking the car. He was fine, but it scared him enough to be careful the rest of the trip!

The next morning it started pouring. It poured the entire time the AC guys replaced a giant coil in the unit, which would have been expensive but my FIL is a master at negotiation and got them to extend the warranty thus saving himself thousands of dollars. Cool. And we put together the all-terrain wagon.

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Made lugging stuff to the beach so easy!

It stopped raining long enough for a beautiful evening walk to the beach, where there were so many live creatures washed ashore it was neat. We rescued conchs, found a starfish, saw the little sand slugs burrowing back into the sand…

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It looked like writing.

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Learned to wash his hands in the surf!

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I am happy at the beach!

Day two we took advantage of a friend’s membership at the Ritz Carlton nearby. Last year we had so much fun in their salt water pool and on the beach chairs with the great service, but this year Walter hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep (we were sharing a room and tried to share a bed and he had never not slept in a crib/pack-n-play before) and he was, to be honest, a pill. He cried in the pool. He said “No” a lot. But we had a good time anyway.

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We tried to take a nap.

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Walt eventually enjoyed playing in the surf with Nini, and I got to relax and read!

Walt sat in Nini’s lap the whole time we watched Up. He had never sat through an entire movie before. When the old man threw all his furniture out of the house near the end, Walt got so upset (“Oh no, what happened!?” with big tears) that we had to pause the movie and explain to him what was going on!

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He won’t leave that lip alone!

The third day we went to the beach near the house and sat in camping chairs in the surf, which was amazing. We built sand castles. We ate at home a lot that week, but also enjoyed an evening at Dry Dock Grill — yum. Best key lime pie and fish tacos ever. We saw the most incredible sunset, which I tried to find again the rest of the two weeks we were there but failed, even though they’re all pretty awesome.

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Tashi loved it out there too.

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I love walking the beach in the evening, especially with my boy.

My mom also introduced me to Jane the Virgin, a hysterical show I am currently finishing with Dave. The last day we tried swimming at the house but Walt cried. I think he was missing his dad, with whom he usually swims. Walt even asked to go home but stopped after I told him daddy would be there tomorrow. After such a blissful time with my mom, I was sad to see her leave, but she drove down to Miami to spend a few days with my brother and his family too. All in all, a great start to a great vacation. I was ready to see my husband though! I’m not sure we had spent that much time apart since 2008!

Washington D.C. – Just leave me here!

15 May

My mom has this habit of, without fail, proclaiming that she’s going to move to wherever she’s just gone on vacation. I usually don’t do this (even when I adore a vacation), but I am so in love with D.C. that I really wish we could move there. It is such an awesome city. We have tons of friends and family that live there, and as a history buff (hello useless bachelor’s degree) the museums and monuments are amazing. I love that you can just walk right by the President’s house, as if you’re simply strolling through a neighborhood. It’s clean. It feels safe. Public transportation. Easy navigation.

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This was our first real trip without Walter; three nights away from him. I felt sad and glad to have some adventurous alone time with David. Also, I’m pretty sure this is one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken. I’m just sayin’.

We got there and took the Metro into Alexandria to spend some time with my middle school BFF Sarah. She took us around Old Town, where we ate a delicious lunch (with maple root beer, which was seriously syrupy), walked the Potomac, window shopped, and toured the Torpedo Factory, an amazingly unique place where artists rent work space and also sell their stuff. Super fun first day.

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Her husband watched their baby for us so we could hang out a bit! And he cooked dinner for us: stuffed chicken and rice! Yum! What a guy!

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Planes fly in so close (all over the city really) that you feel like you can catch them!

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Lunch was at this really cool old converted fire station. I love how they build the architecture in the D.C. area to last, or at least restore it when it’s falling apart. I really wish Atlanta felt the same way about her buildings.

The next day we took the Metro back in to town to Foggy Bottom, where we stayed at the Marriott surrounded by G.W. students in their last weeks of classes. It was super close to everything and of course the room was nice. It was great to crash there after a long day of walking and sightseeing.

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We did the monuments the first day, which was a good decision because it was rainy and cold the next day when we did as many museums as we could. This picture was taken by a very cool guy from Ireland. We saw so many people with “selfie sticks” that it was almost embarrassing. We are fans of the old-fashioned way: get to know a stranger for a minute and ask them for this small favor. Don’t compartmentalize so much so that you never meet anyone new.

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We ate breakfast one day at Lincoln’s Waffles, an amazing breakfast place right by Ford’s Theatre. It might have been the best breakfast I’ve ever had. Hot wings, waffles, sausage, and eggs… yes please!

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So very tall.

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So very windy.

It was warm in Atlanta when we left, so we weren’t totally prepared for the cold weather, even though I did check weather.com. I thought 65 and sunny would be warm. So I didn’t bring socks. Whoops.

Friday night we ate dinner with my two high school best friends, family style in Arlington. We brought a bottle of wine on the Metro and walked the half a mile to their house. That in itself is so cool, coming from a car-dependent city like Atlanta.

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Walter was with his cousin at Mimi and Pop’s house having a blast. It certainly helped us have fun knowing he was having a good time too.

Saturday was spent touring museums. We waited in line at the US Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. It was other-worldly to be a room with the same exact documents that brought about something so incredible. We also went to the Air and Space Museum and the US History Museum. I had recently read The Aviator’s Wife, which made seeing Lindbergh’s plane even more exciting. The other history museum was decent. I liked the First Ladies exhibition the best, with their dresses and china patterns. George Washington ate on those plates!

We walked around til the back of my knees stopped working properly, and we still barely saw half of what we wanted to see, which was a narrowed down list already.

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Great meal, great company!

Dinner on our last night was with Dave’s cousins at Firefly in Foggy Bottom. We had so much fun with them, and I can’t wait to go back to stay with them, as they have both offered their guest suites to us. How lovely! Firefly had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Completely worth the mile walk in the rain.

D.C. I’m coming back for you soon!

A Forget-Me-Not Thanksgiving Weekend.

5 Dec

We’re breezing in to December and I bet Christmas will be over with before we know it. I hope it’s as good as our long Thanksgiving holiday was. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite big one of the year. It doesn’t have quite the same amount of pressure that Christmas does, and all obligations are over by Thursday evening. Then you have a full 3 day weekend to enjoy yourself. And this year the weather was perfect to choose between being out and about and sitting inside relaxing.

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My brother came in town. He lives in Europe now and his job doesn’t send him to America as often as his old one did. I miss when he and his family lived in Woodstock. It was far but we went out there once a week for family dinner. And now we want to move out that way and live outside of the city. So we’d be close if they ever moved back!

He convinced me to go out to Virginia Highlands for a night on the town with our cousin. I took my first Uber ride, which was interesting. What a great service to provide! Our driver was a very nice man from Aghanistan driving a very nice, clean car. A friend of my cousin’s was a very cool and interesting international woman about to move with her husband and son to 4 acres in Tennessee. Jealous! And she had a friend with her who was a black woman, who after I got to Atkins Park, left in 30 minutes, saying the bar was “too white”. I have to say that I agreed with her.  Also, they still allowed smoking in the bar, which I despise.

A friend of mine and I think we should open up a “bar” where there is a back room with a nanny and a lot of beds. A play area. A very family friendly bar. And taxi cabs with good car seats for children. That should be a standard. You can’t expect a parent to be lugging around a 25lb car seat when they travel. Traveling can be so stressful even without that extra burden to worry about.

Children are the future of the world. Everyone everywhere should be willing to help protect, teach, and raise our children, so they grow up figuring out even more than we know. So there is hope for the future. Some people can have more children than others. We all have to share. That whole “village” aspect of community is important. Let’s go back to the basics.

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Here’s all the stuff we brought to Thanksgiving. Camera and tripod and toys and change of clothes and diapers and a booster seat… oh and of course a little boy and his glass of chocolate milk.

The next day was a rather relaxing Thanksgiving. I don’t remember what we did in the morning, but after nap we headed over to my aunt’s house. My mom has three sisters, which I am also jealous of. I grew up with two brothers. I always wanted a sister.

My aunt and my uncle live in a very beautiful house in Brookhaven, and at least 20 people were there for dinner. It was very stuffed at the table (but we all fit!), and they even had people helping us out to clean dishes and get us drinks and dessert. I was very appreciative  and surprised that they elected to work on the holiday. I guess at least in some small way we all do that day though, am I right? And you never know how people are going to define “work” to themselves. Money can make anything worth it, if it’s the right amount.

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He hasn’t been eating as well lately. Just wants bread! And cheese! And oranges!

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We had a lot of fun! I’ve been working on my photography skills. I love this group photo.

On Saturday we drove up to Marietta to look at a house for sale. And then we hopped over to Kennesaw Mountain State Park and walked through the Civil War battlefield and monuments. There are lots of trails around and lots of people jogging and horseback riding and such around there. When we got lost trying to even get there we were in a roundabout where people were loading their horses into their trailers. I loved it.

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A lot of Union soldiers were killed here.

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Duggy was a pain in the butt. He couldn’t stop sniffing at everything and constantly tugging on the leash. And marking. I think the issue is that he really likes to be in familiar territory. I can’t wait to move to a place with a yard!

Sunday our dear friend Kate wanted to throw one of those Friendsgivings, so we did. 12 people came to sit around our table, bringing wine and delicious food — ham, yum — and great conversation. Dave and I only had to make the broccoli casserole and the grasshopper pie. And I gave everyone dishwasher friendly glasses so cleanup was easy!

A beautiful weekend. An exciting week this week. Christmas is coming!

We left the baby and the Bible but brought the bourbon

27 Oct

Last weekend we had the pleasure of going on our church retreat in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I haven’t been on an overnight retreat since high school, and it was very fun to include alcohol in the mix. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and to be honest, I really enjoyed that it wasn’t too churchy. We had one session per day that lasted a couple hours, and it was more like Christian and life philosophy and discussion with 60 of my favorite people. I could have sat there chatting the whole weekend if the chairs had been more cushy.

Walt let us sleep in Friday morning, so we got a late start driving up there as we had chores to do before we could drop him off at my mom’s, and we also wanted to enjoy David’s day off work. The drive up to Asheville and beyond was gorgeous, though about halfway there David realized we hadn’t remembered to bring a Bible for the retreat. But we had made sure to have homemade snacks, wine, and bourbon! I have no doubt my priorities were clearly thought through. And of course we stopped for boiled peanuts as soon as we made it to the country.

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This guy’s Cajun-style peanuts were so good we stopped here on the way home too — in the front yard of the ACE Country Store up somewhere outside of the city.

We were going to arrive too late to make it to dinner at the lodge, so we stopped at Juicy Lucy’s in Asheville for a burger. They stuff their burgers with cheese (yum) and had great draft beer. It really felt like we were on vacation.

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We arrived at the lodge just as the first session was over, which was disappointing because it was about happiness, and I can always benefit from learning more about that. But we found our room, opened a bottle of wine, and sat out on rocking chairs on the front porch with good friends and a mountain breeze.

Our room, unfortunately, had two twin beds that were more similar to concrete slabs than to mattresses, and they were squeakier than a mouse being chased by a cat. This amused me since it was our first trip out of town without Walter (no sharing our room with a baby!), but we survived. Not all trips need to be super luxurious, just like they don’t have to be across the world to be interesting.

After lunch the next day we had lots of free time, which most people use to go hiking in the area. This was the main reason I didn’t want to bring a two-year-old (aka a slightly disobedient toddler), besides the fact that Dave and I seriously needed some adult-only time together. Our group walked a few miles from our lodge to the top of a cliff on Lookout Mountain, via a trail nearby. And we were greatly rewarded for our hiking efforts!

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The 360 views were spectacular.

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Saturday night they brought in a local storyteller. I thought half of her stories were really good. The last one really riled the kids up about a bear who liked to eat out of the nearby dumpster.

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On the way home Sunday we stopped again in Asheville for lunch at another yummy place, Wayside Village. Then of course back through the mountains and roadside art of North Georgia.  I thought this sign in particular showed a good sense of humor.

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I wanted to stop at every flea market, thrift store, and art stand on the way back, but we were in a hurry to get home to Walt. So we only stopped at one where this guy painted old window frames with rural scenes. I didn’t buy anything but I loved his art. I’ll have to get something next time.

Juxtaposition

20 Oct

Saturday we went for a hike in Montreat, NC. It looked like this and I was happy:

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Monday is absolutely back to the grind. I’ve been working at the computer all morning, and Jose is giving our kitchen a facelift.

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Not nearly as relaxing a view, but I do appreciate the Dexter-esque kill room look.

Old Hickory Lake

29 Jul

Two weekends ago we got to go on one of those really fantastic vacations that takes you by surprise. It is so easy, based on what everyone else is doing on social media, to assume that you have to travel to far and exotic locations to be somewhere amazing. The United States has some pretty spectacular views, and some of them are even within easy driving distance of Atlanta. For instance, my family loves visiting Ponte Vedra Beach near Jacksonville, FL. But this time we met up with some friends outside of Nashville. And the lake house we rented from this guy on VRBO was sensational.

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I wasn’t even looking forward to going on vacation to Nashville. Even though I had never been, I thought, what could be so great about it?

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And then we arrived to this view. Walter loved quacking at all the ducks.

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There is something magical about staying this close to a body of water. The world doesn’t seem quite so weary as it does living in the middle of a major city.

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Walter wasted no time relaxing.

We try to meet up with Dave’s Marine friends, who were also his groomsmen, and their spouses every year. Everyone lives in a different state, so Nashville was a relatively central location for us all to get to.

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The guys spent the first day fishing off the dock.

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When I got tired of watching them fish, we went into town to get some frozen yogurt and grab some pizza for dinner. Now that a couple families have kids, it worked out really great to rent out a house instead of four hotel rooms, so once the kids went to bed we could still hang out. Sawyer is almost one, and he adored Walter. Walter was actually terrified of Sawyer, except for one afternoon when he felt like playing. Doesn’t bode well for getting along with younger siblings!

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The second day we rented a pontoon, and it was awesome to get out on the lake.

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Pre-boat ride. I swear Walt is checking to make sure Sawyer isn’t up to no good.

Walter’s first boat ride.

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It was hot out there, and he fell asleep pretty quick.

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Even though Daddy won tubing.

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And Sawyer took us for a ride.
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One of three fish caught that weekend.

That evening we ate at a really good Mexican restaurant, then everyone who wasn’t a mommy went to play The Escape Game. You get locked in a room for an hour with a million clues, and if you solve them all and get out of the room, you win. It sounded like a lot of fun. There’s apparently one in Atlanta, but there’s a zombie in the room with you. No thank you.

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I ended up going to bed super early that night because we stayed up late every night chatting with our friends, and we were also sharing a room with a two-year-old who didn’t realize we were on vacation, and he kept getting up before 6am. He is usually a late sleeper, unless we need to sleep in!

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At least he’s cute early in the morning.

I love our friends. They’re a ridiculous bunch, and some of the best people I know. I wish we all lived closer to each other, but I’m glad we make the effort meet up anyway.

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Before everyone went home, Cassie made us go to the Pancake Pantry in Nashville for lunch. We waited 1 1/2 hours for possibly the best pancakes I’ve ever had. I’m glad we got to go into the city, at least for a little bit. It was an adorable town, and with my new love of the TV show Nashville, I’m absolutely ready to move there.

Photographic evidence of why wintery Utah was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been

16 Feb

The cat was so happy we were back home that she didn’t get off my lap for 24 hours.

We left Atlanta snow, arrived for what I would call a Utah blizzard (1.5+ feet), and came home in time for more Atlanta snow. Let’s just say I appreciated the sunny 60° weather today.

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Our first up close glimpse of the Rockies. Walter was a terror on the plane ride there. Not really sure why. I was exhausted when we finally reached the condo.

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I’d never been to this part of the country before. It was stunning,
and having the mountains everywhere took my breath away
(and not due to lack of oxygen either).

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First day there. Lots and lots of snow. Everyone went skiing, so Mimi and I bundled the babies up and went outside. It was warmer than I thought it would be outside, so Walt complained about the snow and the fact that he was too warm in all his layers.

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Cousins are your first best friends!

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Dave sent me a picture from the top of the mountain, and of some people he didn’t know.

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Bundle up: it’s time to play in the snow with daddy too!

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Day two: still snowing.
Walt’s laughing at mommy and daddy attempting to sled down the road.

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Seriously, this sled was pretty much the only thing that made him smile outside. I was sad it didn’t fit into one of our 8 gajillion bags of snow gear for the ride home.

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He’s not really sure why people play in the snow, but he’s still cute about it.

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Daddy helping Walt build a snowman. Walt is sitting next to mommy’s creation: mound of snow. I had fun making it, I really did.

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It’s just pretty everywhere there. And they know how to keep the roads drivable too!

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View of the slopes at Park City before David attempted to teach me to ski (funny how small they look from the parking lot). Let’s just say the 3 year olds we saw on the slopes were more fearless than me. Maybe one day I’ll be a skier. At least I had fun snow tubing!

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We went on a sleigh ride one night at dusk. The view was gorgeous despite the smell of riding behind horses. Side note: Can you imagine living in that house?

It’s fun to go on vacations where you experience something new.
I’m ready to move out West now.

Utah

27 Jan

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In two weeks we will be in Utah.

I don’t usually go on cold weather vacations, but Dave’s family are skiers.

I just recently had to buy snow boots for Walt, because, well, we live in Atlanta. Not much use for them here. The lady at the store where I finally found some in his size said, “Yeah, um, stores are about to start selling spring clothes.” As if I was supposed to know that it was near impossible to find winter gear mid-winter.

Dave is intent on skiing with Walter strapped to his back. Somehow all my screaming has not dissuaded him of this idea.

I am looking forward to another trip with the family and showing Walt yet another aspect of this fantastic earth we live on. It should be beautiful. I’m just hoping we can convince him to keep on his hat and mittens so he doesn’t freeze his cute little self. Dave keeps telling me that it’s not going to be the arctic tundra I’m imagining, but I just don’t believe him.

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A Pilgrimage

16 Aug

after softball

Back in 2008 I went on what could only be called a pilgrimage. Inspired by Eat, Pray, Love and some opportunities that presented themselves, I traveled for three weeks to New York. At that time I hated to fly. Over the years I missed several flights due to my extreme fear. So when my best friend at the time needed to take his car to Syracuse to get his emissions tested, I rode with him. I stayed a week with him and his family in upstate New York at the very beginning of summer, playing by the lake, picking strawberries, steaming oysters, and visiting the Oneida Community that I had studied in one of my history classes.

I then spent a week at Sarah Lawrence College studying poetry with a hundred other writers. We stayed up late drinking and woke up early to write, read, edit, and play softball. My father grew up in Bronxville, so it was lovely to be able to spend time in his hometown.

At that time in my life I used to go to New York City every year with my father to take in a couple Broadway shows and eat at fantastic restaurants. He flew up to meet me and I took the train into the city like his father used to do every day for work. Several of my new friends and some others that I knew from Georgia Tech also stayed in the City after our poetry week and we had a grand time together.

Before I took the train home to Atlanta, I went up to an Ashram for three nights, eating vegan and taking several yoga classes a day. I had never done yoga before except earlier in my trip in Syracuse, and because of this trip yoga ended up becoming a central part of my life for at least a year.

It was a very memorable adventure for me to experience so many different things in such a beautiful state as New York. I put myself out there and found so many beautiful people and places. I found myself in so many different ways.

While walking around Brooklyn one morning with one of my new poetry friends, we were looking at brownstones and walking around the Bridge when we saw a piece of paper floating in the breeze. It was such a powerful journal entry.

This guy told me to wait he’d be right back. I was suppose to help him move, make a few dollars. Wasted an hour and half waiting before I decided to come back to the Bridge. Glad I did, one of the locals gave me a buck. Made me feel pretty good. Some guys just walked by w/ oars and paddles. I would love a couple hours of canoeing. Maybe I’ll walk down to the water later and check it out. Maybe they rent them out by the hour. You never know, the Renter might be a Veteran and cut me a break. People are throwing the money if the light is green and they are unable to stop! I know that they mean well, so I don’t feel degrated or anything, because they throw it! She must write philosophy books, you never know? She seemed to have had the two women she was with convinced of something. They didn’t donate! People from India sure wear some colorful clothes. People seem very apprehensive about asking me for direction. That’s their lose. Let them get frustrated, confused, lost, etc.. All they have to do is ask! 1 hr 45 min. have $5 dollars so far. Another Veteran pulled over after the light. Insect repellent that Pete gave me seems to be working pretty good.

I love finding letters and notes that weren’t meant for me. It usually reveals an honest glimpse into someone’s life that you never would have seen before. It reminds me of Post Secret, which I could read for hours, crying over the things people need to express.

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