Oh the Places You Will Go: Nashville

In a delightfully hasty decision, I booked a ticket to Phoenix by way of Nashville at the end of October.

First I had to drop off little Rigo at the boarders for the week. He was not as excited about his vacation as I was about mine.

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Then, I flew on a red eye to Nashville. Especially for long distances, this is just the way to go. I was worried I’d be wiped and I didn’t sleep a ton on the flight, but I got to my destination ready to party.

Oh, and yes, I went alone – it’s kind of hard to find someone else who can travel during the week with a few days’ notice – yay unemployment.

Why Nashville? Because I’ve always wanted to visit. Spoiler alert, I was right, it was amazing! Here’s the somewhat quick and dirty of my four-day trip.

DAY 1

Breakfast: Puckett’s Grocery
Coffee, coffee, coffee and eggs and such to fuel my busy day.

Nerd alert: Tennessee State Museum and State CapitolIMG_0074[1]

IMG_0076[1]Get your cruise on: Country Music Hall of Fame MuseumIMG_0084[1]

IMG_0085[1]airbnb: East Nash Room
For the first time, I stayed in a “private room” airbnb, meaning sharing a home with the homeowners. It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be, honestly. My hosts were, of course, super nice and the room was great and it was perfect for mostly just sleeping since that’s really all I needed it for. I was out and about most of the time anyway. (Also, a nice money saver when traveling alone!)

Nashville perk: Sam Hunt street concert
Is this real life? In Nashville it is! The concert was announced for Tuesday (the night before I got in) but moved to Wednesday due to weather! What a charmed life I lead!

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people's pictures.

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people’s pictures.

GNO round 2: John Corbett at City Winery
This was my original plan for the night. Yes, he sings. Yes, he sings country…kinda, it’s kinda like Southern rock. Yes, he’s still sexy. Yes, he’s actually pretty funny. I loved the intimate venue.
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Dinner and bed…I was zonked.

DAY 2

My hosts made coffee and blueberry muffins, which totally saved me from the struggle bus so I could start my day.

Local culture: The Parthenon
Yes, a full-scale replica in the middle of a nice, little park with some history.IMG_0139[1]

Local flavor: Loveless Cafe
Just yum. Like holy shit, but yum.IMG_0160[1]

Nerd alert: Cheekwood Botanical Garden (and art museum)
One of my favorites!

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I took a very important phone call here….couldn’t have asked for a better view!

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Pop culture must do: The Bluebird Cafe
Stood in line for a good chunk of the evening, but loved the intimate show – my favorite of the night was Michaela Anne.

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Local flavor: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden
I was (kinda) finally hungry again after breakfast and yum! Also, I met not one, but two, bartenders from Washington!

Nashvegas must do: hit the honky tonks, like Tootsies!

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DAY 3

Small town charm: Franklin, Tennessee

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History nerd alert: Carnton Plantation
Another highlight for me!
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Get in my mouth: Red Bull Vodka slushy
Found on tap while afternoon honky tonkin’. Obviously another highlight.

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Dinner #1: Five Points Pizza
Like a snack…don’t judge.

Classic Nashville: Grand Ole Opry
Friday night at the Grand Ole Opry! I saw, among others, Charlie Daniels playing the shit out of his fiddle and Brad Paisley. Brad Paisley! At the Grand Ole Opry!

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Local flavor: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hot chicken is a Nashville thing and Hattie B’s is the place according to friendly locals I met. It was good, but after three days of Southern cooking, I should have just tapped out.

DAY 4

Run it off: Shelby Park
Another perk of staying with hosts…finding out about the local running trails!

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IMG_0232[1]Breakfast: Noshville

See ya later from Bicentennial Park
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I loved Nashville! Everyone’s friendly and there’s a great, creative energy all around. Fall is such a gorgeous time of year to be there and and there’s plenty to do no matter what you’re in the mood for. I’m not always big on vacation repeats, but I will definitely go back to Nashville! I’ve hopefully already talked it up enough to my friends that there may be a girls’ trip in the works!

As for traveling alone, I actually liked it a lot. I’m very comfortable on my own and have done business trips and quiet, recharging road trips solo, but this one was bigger and made me somewhat anxious, but yeah, it was great. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer it, but given the option to travel or not, I’ll take travel TYVM!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Belize

Last year was a big travel year for me and my blog became mostly a picture album for those wonderful trips, so I can hardly Belize that I got back from the biggest, best trip of my year over a month ago and haven’t even posted anything about it!

Over the summer, my amazing, adventurous friend, Emily, said, “I’m going to Belize for Thanksgiving, want to come?” It wasn’t, “I want to go” or “I’m thinking of going.” It was just, hey, here’s where I’ll be, will you be there too? See? Amazing.

In college, I had a chemistry professor from Belize and it seemed like a cool place to visit, so it’s been on my list ever since, so when the opportunity to go with two of my best friends came up, it was a no-brainer. (Except for the brain power it took to figure out how to get more vacation days that I really didn’t have.)

Lists of locations and activities flew between us as we planned the trip and we ended up with a great itinerary for our eight days there. I flew into Belize City to meet Emily and Robin, who had been there for one day already and we took a van inland to San Ignacio for the first part of our trip. It was about a two-hour drive, but it was filled with anything and everything the driver could tell us about the country. All of our tour guides were so friendly and knowledgeable. One point for being a fantastic travel location…English is the official language of Belize.

In San Ignacio we stayed at Maya Mountain, which was a highlight of the trip for me. The staff was so welcoming and accommodating, the food was awesome and they helped us coordinate our fantastic tours.

Day 1: Actun Tunichil Muknal or ATM
This is the “must-do” tour in San Ignacio and we were told to save the best for last because nothing would top it, but with the threat of rain that could close the tour down (as it had the previous week), we wanted to make sure we got it in while it was sunny.

We were going spelunking, so we wore helmets:

photo (7)It’s a cave tour and you start by hiking about two miles to the cave entrance, then it’s go time. You swim, wade, walk and climb almost a mile into the cave, which was a Mayan ceremony site, so it’s full of ceramics and skeletons from human sacrifices (yeah, for real, like right next to you). Because you get up close and personal with the artifacts, you can’t take cameras in (someone dropped one on a skull once) and at the end, you climb in socks. Seriously, such a great experience.

Day 2: Cave canoeing + picnic + swimming
On this day, I understood why we were told to save ATM for the last day. This cave canoe trip was fun, but just very tame compared to ATM.

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I really enjoyed, well, the picnic, because Maya Mountain packed our lunches on these tours and they were maybe the best sandwiches I’d ever had. But, I also really enjoyed the swimming afternoon. We hiked down to the pool of a waterfall and swam around there. It was a hot day and the water felt great.

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Day 3: Tikal (Guatemala)

DSC01234Tikal was a massive Mayan city in Guatemala. We were told that, but seriously, it’s huge and one of the most fascinating things is that it was abandoned at the end of the 10th century and, since it’s in the middle of a rainforest, these massive temples just got buried under all the new growth and it was undiscovered until the 1800s. Not much money was put into the excavation until the 1950s and even now there are buildings that are currently being excavated and some that haven’t even been started. And there are thousands of buildings in the city, including temples, which were a lot of the buildings we did get to see and even climb. The temples sticking out above the tree canopy was so cool, it was used in one of the Star Wars movies, which maybe made it less cool, but still beautiful:

Oh, and I also made a new friend:

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Since the basis of the trip was that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a lot of the things I did were based on the same idea, as well as the theme of What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, which I had just finished reading: Do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it. 

Day 4: Travel to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
We had to say goodbye to Maya Mountain and make our way back to the coast to stay on the cayes, pronounced keys and cayes are like islands, but different in that they are actually formed on top of coral. The reef that stretches from Mexico to Belize is one of the biggest in the world, BUT it protects Belize, making it unsurfable. I only mention it because when I put Belize on my bucket list it included surfing in Belize, so I was kind bummed when I found that out. And because I’m a huge nerd who was so excited to learn everything on vacation.

But, San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is beautiful (La Isla Bonita according to Madonna) and a really fun, lively place to stay. Unfortunately, our luck with the weather wore off by the time we got there and it was cold and rainy for much of the rest of our trip.

Day 5: Fishing + snorkeling
We still wanted to see all the things and do all the things, so we chartered a boat tour, aka, asked the bartender to help us set something up and when a man in a boat appeared at the end of the dock the next morning, we jumped in his boat. Fortunately, it was actually our guy.

He took us out a ways and we went fishing, which was kind of unexpected, but a lot of fun. Our fishies we caught were kinda small, but pretty. We had to catch a lot because we were going to eat them for lunch! Our guide BBQed them and some potatoes and it was delicious.

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The dive location we wanted to go to was difficult with the wind and rain, so we ended up detouring, but still seeing coral and fish. I hadn’t been snorkeling in a long time, so I was a little unsure. And then right when I put my face in, I saw a shark! It was a nurse shark and at the floor, which was maybe six feet down, so I wasn’t too concerned. It was actually really cool! I was swimming right on top of big schools of fish and saw a big old stingray too.

Day 6: Boat taxi to Caye Caulker + drinking weather
We decided to split our beach days between two of the cayes and I’m so glad we did. San Pedro was fun, but Caye Caulker was so wonderful. I read that if you want to see what San Pedro was like before it got totally popular and commercialized, go to Caye Caulker. They have three main dirt roads that have real names, but everyone calls them Front, Middle and Back. There are no cars, just bikes and golf carts, but everything’s walkable anyway. We stayed at a little condo place at one end that had a patio with an exit right to Front Street and the ocean.

Unfortunately right when we got there it started raining. Optimistically, we headed to a snorkeling tour company to sign up for a tour the next day assuming it cleared up, which (spoiler alert) it did. However, for the rest of that day, it was just a downpour, so we just sat at a restaurant drinking two very Belizean drinks – Belikin beer (you say, “I’ll have a beer,” and that’s what they give you, it’s awesome) and a Panty Ripper, which is pineapple juice and rum and delicious. Aaaand, I don’t remember what we did after that, probably read and went to bed early.

Day 7: Snorkeling sailboat trip
Another highlight of the trip was waking up on our last full day to SUNSHINE! We had a great breakfast and boarded a Rastafarian sailboat for a snorkel tour of the reef.

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We stopped at a place called Shark and Ray Alley, which you can guess meant it’s where the sharks (again, nurse sharks) and rays hang out. Even more so when the tour guides throw fish at you while you’re in the water and they come up and get it! It took me a while to get in, but it was amazing.

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At the next stop, we swam out to the reef and saw everything! More rays, a few turtles, eels and lots of fascinating fish. Then we sailed back with ceviche, rum punch, reggae music and the sunset. It was incredible.

After some warm up showers and shower beers, we went to a restaurant the crew suggested where you pick your dinner from a table of fresh seafood on the street – I got a lobster – and they take it in and cook it up for you! Then we went to a reggae bar (one of two bars on Caye Caulker that came highly recommended – and the other one was closed). It was dead, but we met a few Americans and then it began to fill up, including with a few of the guys from the boat. We danced and drank and stayed out probably not very late at all, but the latest we were out all week.

Day 8: Home 😦

Just like that, it was over.

So, obviously, I had a great time. I’ve been telling anyone and everyone to go to Belize! It’s accessible and easy-going with so much to do and such great people, but not yet overly touristy. I would go back in a heartbeat to see the places we didn’t get to and even return to some of my favorites that we did.

I got the travel bug big time and can’t wait for my next trip!

In the last two months…and starting (quitting?) Whole30!

In the last two months I…

Donated blood. Went to TopGolf a handful of times. Went to an ASU football game. Went to a wedding in Sequim, Washington and rode the ferry back to Seattle…

Another hello gorgeous weekend in the PNW.

Another hello gorgeous weekend in the PNW.

Attempted and failed at seared ahi tuna steaks. Got my hair did and done and redid. Had an awesome yoga/brunch/pottery painting date with my mom…

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Went to the dentist. Went to the dentist again (waaah). Celebrated the return of football Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays). Joined/started a book club – so far we’ve read The Burning Air and Rooms. Was excited for – and then reminded that it’s not quite yet – race season…

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Esprit de She 5K 35:05 – You almost wouldn’t even know by looking at this picture that I had to sit down for about 5 minutes two miles in so I didn’t pass out 😦
Oktoberfest 5-miler 50:27
They were both just really warm days and I was unprepared. Hello wake-up call!

Had a mini high school reunion aka drank beer on a patio with the people I actually liked…

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Went to Tour de Fat.  Saw the Zac Brown Band in concert…

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And started the Whole30. I have a few friends doing it with me and I posted one pic on Instagram, but I feel like for some reason this blog keeps me most accountable.

This was breakfast. BREAKFAST.

This was breakfast. BREAKFAST. Meat and vegetables for BREAKFAST.

I started on Monday and it’s going well so far – no “hangover” or crazy cravings. Maybe a little food boredom already, which is no bueno, but having a plan makes it easy to stick to it. Kinda. I’m having a few moments of weakness and considered failure an option before I even started but as of now I have no good reason not to keep going, so I guess I will?

Have you done Whole30? Success or no-go?

Oh the Places You Will Go: Phoenix (Summer Edition)

I have no clue why people want to visit Arizona in the summer. All I want to do is leave. But, my college roommate, Amy, has visited a few times in the summer, including this last weekend! She lives in the San Fernando Valley, which is just about as hot and dry as Arizona anyway (just about).

She started planning her trip and I told her no, that I was going to be the tour guide. Now that I think of it, I kind of wonder what she had in mind. Oh well.

Instead of showing her what I normally do on a summer weekend (currently: binge watch The Killing), I wanted to make the best of it and take her to favorite places of mine. So, if you’re planning on visiting Arizona, here, from a native is a list of suggested activities:

On Friday, I picked Amy up right after work and we went to the best pizza place in town. No, not Pizzeria Bianco. Pizzeria Bianco is delicious and it’s a cute, little restaurant in a fun neighborhood. Oprah and Jimmy Fallon love it. Heck, it’s even worth the usual hours-long wait. But, locals know the better wood-fired pizza option is nearby Cibo. It’s even more delicious and even cuter.

I don’t spend much time in downtown Phoenix, but I do really like it when I’m there, so our next stop was my favorite bar, Copper Blues. It’s big inside and out, but gets packed and it’s just a fun vibe with a live cover band playing behind the bar.

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Completely unplanned, we then stopped by two additional bars in Old Town Scottsdale on our way home – Amy would have gladly told you the next day that even just one extra bar was a bad idea. We went to two of my favorites for low-key fun and strong, cheap drinks – Giligin’s and The Lodge.

I wasn’t totally wastey pants, I did stop at a point and also drink a lot of water, and miraculously the next day, I made it out the door for an 8:15 spin class to sweat out the night before. It wasn’t pretty, but I was happy I fit it in.

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On Saturday, since it’s best to be around a cool pool on a hot summer day, we went to Talking Stick’s pool party with a few of my girlfriends. We got there early enough to get chairs to relax in for the better part of the day – going back and forth to the pool to cool down. I wasn’t interested in drinking, but the servers there are fantastic with endless buckets of bottled water – gotta stay hydrated!

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A day in the sun wears you out, so we stayed in for the night to make enchiladas and watch some romcoms we picked up from Redbox. Walk of Shame and That Awkward Moment do NOT get a best of Arizona award, but they were entertaining and when I dozed off a bit, I didn’t miss much of the plot!

The next day we checked out North Scottsdale’s new OHSO Distillery for their brunch – $10 for a meal and a BIG mimosa or beer. That hit the spot for sure! Then we went to Topgolf, for what was my third weekend in a row! The first weekend I went for my BIL’s birthday and I was awful, the next for my own birthday (oh yeah, I turned 30!) and I wasn’t terrible, then on Sunday I actually won the first game! Also this time we were finally up on the third floor and it was so much fun!

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Then we hopped over to the Tavern Grille for a few pitchers and some girl talk before doing dinner at Oregano’s.

Somehow I rallied that night since it was her last night in town and my idea the whole time to go see an 80s cover band at Wasted Grain, which apparently was having its grand opening party last weekend. I’ve always wanted to go see them but they were more rock than pop so I only knew a handful of songs they played – oh and the singer made a rapey comment that totally turned me off of them, which is why I won’t even post their name, but that damper aside (plus the damper of having to go into work after just a busy weekend and long Sunday night), it was a really fun weekend!

Amy commented how fun Arizona is since there’s actually things to do and this weekend was a nice reminder that, yes, Arizona can be fun if you suck it up and deal with the heat – and do a lot of eating and drinking!

The Most Fun You Can Have in Arkansas With Your Pants Off

Because it’s hot and you just want to wear dresses and as the maid of honor, I had to wear a dress! For her gift to her dad, my bridefriend April gave him a shirt that said, “My daughter got married outside in Arkansas in June and all I got was the bill and this shirt.” And that about sums it up, but I could think of nowhere else I would have rather been last weekend than in Rogers, Arkansas celebrating her marriage!

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I flew from Mesa’s Gateway airport on Allegiant – that cheap, but nickel and dimey, airline that flies to the most random airports – to Springfield, Missouri last Thursday. It took a few hours to drive to Arkansas, but immediately, I was like, “okay, I get it…it’s green and gorgeous.”

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Plus, I know most people say they will take a dry heat, but I enjoyed the weather, if only because it was a break. They were having a warm spell, but that’s still just upper 80s and humid plus they have nice breezes. For people who think a dry heat would be like the same but without humidity, no. Try 110, but at least it’s a dry heat!

I’ll take the cooler humidity. Maybe not forever, but for a break. On the second day I figured out the massive amount of gel my hair would require and then on the wedding day, it was perfectly coiffed, all held back and sprayed so that it wasn’t going anywhere. So, the weather and my hair were really my biggest concerns there and once those were out of the way, I had a fantastic time.

I didn’t have a lot of time in Arkansas to be a tourist, but I got in a run on Friday morning. I found what I thought would be a cool place to go, but there wasn’t a sidewalk to get me there on a curvy, two-lane road, so I decided to skip it and just run on the sidewalk past the highway and toward the mall. I only got in three miles and by the time I got back, I checked the elevation – surely Rogers, AR had to be higher than Scottsdale, but nope, only by about 100 feet, so that couldn’t have accounted for my difficult run, it was just the heat, humidity and oh yeah, my lack of training recently.

IMG_3230Then I joined April at her house in Fayetteville to wrap up some of the DIYs she had left. Who knew I could make a boutonniere?! I ate BBQ for lunch, because Arkansas, before getting ready for the rehearsal and dinner. There were about 10 attendants on each side, so both events were big affairs, but went very well. By that time a few other Arizona girls had arrived and they were eating at Apple Blossom Brewery in Fayetteville. I told April I might just head back to the hotel, but she said GO. I had their brown beer and a good time with the girls, so that was a good call. Then I got lost in a Hills Have Eyes locale almost out of gas with a dying phone. Luckily I made it back in time to party at the hotel bar.

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Saturday was for wedding everything – hair, make-up, setting the venue and getting married!

I think the best weddings require a few things:

1. Being on vacation. As much as I bitch about taking time off and having to travel for someone’s wedding, being away from the real world sets the mood and gets me ready to just have a good time.

2. Knowing a bunch of the guests. I’ve known April for half of my life and most of our high school friends were in attendance and also, her group of college friends – some bridesmaids, some guests – who I had met during our weekend in Seattle were there as well, so it was just a great time. And they were all there on vacation too, so we all stayed at the same hotel and that was great.

The Arizona group

The Arizona group

IMG_32453. Something going wrong. No wedding is perfect and laughing it off almost makes the whole thing better. For April’s outdoor wedding, she got tents at the last minute in case it rained. Twenty minutes after the ceremony, which was not tented, ended, it poured for about a half hour. The bridal party was inside the property house and I can only imagine what the guests outside were doing, probably crammed under the two tents. The rain cooled everything off and made a bunch of mud that everyone slipped in, but who cares? It was fun!

That’s all you need. Bridezillas, take note.

I had so much fun, I attempted to change my flight because basically I had to wake up and leave the very next day, which was just a terrible plan, but that’s Allegiant and their weird flights. Just like that, Arkansas was over.

 

Oh the Places You Will Go: San Diego

I will never get tired of going to San Diego. It’s a quick trip from Phoenix regardless if you fly or drive and then you’re at the beach! I spent last weekend in San Diego and could think of nowhere better to celebrate the first day of summer.

My good friend, Robin, wanted to go to San Diego to celebrate the last birthday of her 20s and who was I to say no? Last year, she celebrated 28 in Tahoe. Besides just being awesome in general, hanging out with her has some serious perks, girl knows how to party. And by party I mean pick cool places to go hang out and do the same things we would do at home – but with a beach!

I was so dedicated to this trip, I went in an hour early to work all last week to leave at noon on Friday and catch our flight. Robin found an awesome house in Mission Beach that slept enough people to accommodate everyone who trickled in and out all weekend and it was only a block to the beach and a block to Mission Bay. Everything was walkable – or as I experienced for the first time there, cheaply Uberable.

We ate Mexican food, had delicious breakfasts and hung out at the beach, played Cards Against Humanity, drank a beer (or two or three) and saw some of the nightlife.

On Saturday morning, I went running up the boardwalk and then back down on the beach itself.

June gloom morning run.

June gloom morning run.

For running, San Diego beaches > New England beaches. For beach beauty, New England beaches > San Diego beaches. But for the tie breaker, for swimming, at least during the times I was there, San Diego for the win. We stayed on the beach doing nothing and intermittently going in to dive the waves for hours.

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I think people who live by beaches take it for granted. When I lived close enough to Malibu, I know I did. I’d love to say if I lived in SD, I’d enjoy it all the time, but the truth is, I’d probably try to enjoy the beach, but be thinking about the other things I should be doing. That’s the glory of vacation…there was NOTHING else we had to do. I have the splotchy tan/burned/still pasty skin to show for it. (There was a serious error in judgement involving a travel-size can of spray sunscreen and the wind.)

On Sunday, I met Robin’s older sister who lives in NE San Diego County and she asked me what I did. After two days at the beach house, I couldn’t really remember what my work life was and had to seriously pause to consider the question and answer it. I’d say that’s a good sign that it was a  great vacation!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Boston

For our East Coast adventure, we flew in and out of Boston and I called it our Boston trip, but the sad truth is the we were there for little more than a day and a half. So, you can see why we were torn on cutting it short to make the trip to Cape Cod, but it was definitely worth it and Boston, I’ll be back!

Our first stop on the trip was Sam Adams! I was so excited to go on this brewery tour and as my brother-in-law said, it was the first noteworthy stop on out trip. The hour-long tour is educational, boozy and free! I held hops and then we sampled three beers, including a super secret new style, which was my favorite. IMG_3113

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Oh! And you get to take those cute little glasses home!

We checked into the hotel and took off to go to the U.S.S. Constitution, or Old Ironsides. We listened to an amazing storyteller acting the part of one of the sailors and retelling the story of the battle that gave the ship her name, it was really neat! In elementary school, my class took a trip to California to live on and “work” on an old ship just like this one, so it brought back a lot of memories!

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Apparently Bostonians dislike when people compare Boston to New York and there really is no comparison, except the transit system in New York was much easier! In Boston, we figured out it was easier to walk more often, so even though it was starting to rain, we hightailed it back to the hotel because we had an important date!

If you asked Sean, the whole reason we went on this trip was to go to Fenway to see the Red Sox on Friday night.

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The forecast didn’t look good, but his desire to see the game must have kept the game-cancelling rain away. It did start to come down heavily enough for ponchos in the 5th and 6th innings though!

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Sean was mostly excited to take me to the game because Fenway has a different feel, he kept saying. My only baseball experience is Spring Training and Diamondbacks games. Our Diamondbacks have an amazing park built not too long ago – huge with a retractable roof to play in all conditions (mostly hot), but it does lack the authenticity of an old ball park. Fenway was seriously cool and the fans were real fans. Sometimes at DBacks games I feel like I go to a game, but at Fenway, I actually watched a game! And a good one at that! They won in the bottom of the 10th!

Exhaustion from seven days of vacation was setting in (I know, my life is so rough), but it was our last night, so we caught a late dinner and post-dinner cider at the pub (called MJ’s!) next to the hotel before calling it a night. Exhaustion wasn’t going to keep me from running on my last morning either! An old classmate tweeted me that since I was in town I should go to the Promenade. He’s a runner too and it was a great suggestion for a place to start. While I was running along the water, I realized the rest of our day was pretty packed so I should probably try to see some of the things I wanted to see. I basically ran a big six-mile loop around the city and stopped at Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church.

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It was another amazing run. Running away from my own routine always seems so much better!

I made it back to the hotel in time for check out and to meet up with Sean’s friend who took the train in from Central Mass to have lunch with us. The plan was MJ’s again, but I hadn’t had my fill of seafood and suggested Legal Seafood, which Sean had pointed out when we got there. My crab cake with salad and mashed potato was definitely the way to go out.

We were closeish to the Boston Marathon finish line, so we went by there so I could see it. It was just a line in the middle of the road outside the library, but pretty incredible to see.

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Our last stop was the aquarium. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend there, but it was worth going in to check it out.

Penguin friends!

Penguin friends!

And that was that, our amazing trip was over! There wasn’t a lot I felt like I really missed in Boston, but I would definitely like to go back to just spend more time in the city, I really didn’t even get a feel for it in that short time, but what I did see I really liked!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Cape Cod

I tried to enjoy the cooler weather on the East Coast and save it as a memory for days like this…as happy as I am to be home with nothing to do for the first weekend in four weeks, it’s hot and it sucks. But my house is cold so I’m bundled up and currently binge-watching season three of Scandal on Netflix, trying to avoid Orange is the New Black because Sean and I are going to watch it together, but he’s working all weekend.

So, back to those cooler memories! Wednesday was definitely the coldest day we were there and we spent it driving through Connecticut and Rhode Island to Cape Cod.

Cape Cod was a thought in the back of our minds before we left for this trip, but I wasn’t sure we had enough time to squeeze it all in. Sean kept saying he didn’t think we could skip it and I’m a sucker for the ocean, so we decided we had to go!

We broke up the long drive by stopping in Newport, Rhode Island to visit an old 1890s mansion right on the coast. It was really cold and windy by the time we got there, but the overcast day seemed perfect to visit an old house with lots of stories to tell. It was very Gatsby- and Downton Abbey-esque.

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The mansion, or beach “cottage” as they called it, was in a little community full of other historic mansions that you can tour and others that are still private residences. I completely romanticized Rhode Island when I was younger and our short drive through did not disappoint!

We had decided to stay in Provincetown at the very tip of Cape Cod because Sean had never been to that part and it had beaches on both the cape side and the ocean side. By the time we got there it was in the 40s and threatening rain…not ideal for the start of a beach trip, but it meant it wasn’t very crowded and we got a beach-front room! The awesome staff even turned on our lights and cranked up the heat for our lateish arrival, thanks Surfside Inn!

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Standing just inside our patio door on the last day when it was a little sunnier.

The hotel was also next to an amazing restaurant (Fanizzi’s) that we went to the first night because we were worried about other places closer to downtown being closed and on the second night because it was just that good…and yes, it was more seafood! We also went out to the Squealing Pig pub for drinks on both nights because it had a great vibe.

I spent the mornings running. I attempted to run on the beach but first of all, it’s not as easy and glam as it looks on TV and when the tide was up, it came right up to the buildings just a bit down the beach, so I had to work my way back up to the street. I ran through the downtown area, down the pier and through some neighborhoods. It felt amazing. The temps were perfect and I loved the small town. Like I said, it wasn’t very populated then, but the houses were all being prepared for season and the way the stores are set up and the servers talk, you could tell it just gets crazy.

Oh yeah! Provincetown is also well-known as a LGBT community. Actually, before we went to the Squealing Pig, we tried a bar the hotel clerk recommended and honestly the bartender and townies there were kind of rude, which is why we moved on, but there was a drag queen sitting at the bar getting ready to go down to the basement and start their nightly dance party. Provincetown knows how to have a good time!

On Thursday for lunch, I finally got my lobster roll I’ve been wanting to try. It was good, but for some reason I thought it would be warm. Like warm lobster, butter and a toasty roll.  I guess some places do serve it that way, but the traditional lobster roll is cold lobster salad. It was still delicious and I imagine on a hot summer day it would be amazing to be at the beach and take a break for one!

Then we drove out to see the Atlantic Ocean side at Race Point Beach. It was so relaxing!

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We walked for a bit then sat and watched some seals playing in the water…really close by! There was a sign that great whites swim in the water (hello, Jaws) and to not swim near seals since they’re on the shark menu, but they were so close! On a warmer day, I totally would have been trying to go out and make some friends!

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It was cold, but the sun was shining. I read, Sean napped, it was lovely.

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It was everything I wanted an East Coast beach town to be! Like I said, I’m a sucker for the ocean, so I might call this my favorite part of the trip.

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Oh the Places You Will Go: New York

I’ve always wanted to go to New York City and see everything and be amazed, but the truth is I didn’t really expect to like it very much. Not in an “I don’t like it” kind of way, but more in a “Well, that was nice, I can go ahead and check that off now” kind of way.

I thought I would be overwhelmed but I wasn’t, I was in awe of being in such a big city. This is the first picture I took there once we checked into the hotel and took off to go explore.

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We were sitting in a park in the middle of a street…whatever it may be called, NY has a bunch of little pocket parks and chairs! Hundreds of chairs everywhere! The sun was shining just the same on the shady green trees as it was on the dirty street signs and I could see nothing but buildings and I was like, “OMG, I’m in New York. I should take a picture.”

I thought it would be scary and loud and dirty. No. No. As I already said, yes.

New York was the only really warm part of our trip. It was sprinkling when we left Sturbridge, but it was sunny and warm and not too terribly humid during our two days in New York.

Sean drove in and I tried to balance between wanting to look out and take in everything and pretending I was reading so I wouldn’t have to see the crazy drivers. Driving in made it easy, especially with our week’s worth of luggage (for the record, that meant 10 pairs of shoes for me, but lesson learned, I only wore eight), but if it were up to me to do the driving, I would have been on the train.

Our first stop was the Empire State building to take in the full views.

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At the top, a couple next to us was in love and got engaged. It was adorable.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in Central Park, watching New York kiddos enjoying the warm day off from school (it was Memorial Day).

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Besides everything else we did that was actually cool, I was pretty excited for street food and our first stop at the ice cream truck did not disappoint.

That evening I needed a cool salad and began my East Coast seafood tour (it was so delicious and fresh and cheap!) with a seafood cobb salad. Then we went to see Times Square. It was very crowded of course. Probably the most-crowded place we went. They even had bleacher seating set up (again, just in the middle of the street!) to sit and take it all in.

We stayed at the Algonquin Hotel, which has a great history (and was featured this season on Mad Men) and a beautiful facade. Inside, the rooms are tiny – as expected – but the property was bought and renovated by Marriott just a few years ago, so it was very nice! We had a street-facing room, so although we didn’t spend much time in the room, when we were there, I could still be in awe of the city!

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The next day I took an early morning walk to Bryant Park, which was very close to the hotel, to just check it out. The streets were a lot more crowded than the day before and I loved seeing all the New Yorkers newyorking about, going to work and what not. I could get used to drinking my coffee in random sunny parks.

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Then we set out to be true tourists and took the ferry to Liberty Island, saw the World Trade Center (from the ferry) and ate hot dogs from a cart (yay)!

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We spent the afternoon at the Museum of Natural History, which was exactly like Night at the Museum without the animals coming to life part.

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We rushed back to the hotel because that night we had tickets to see Aladdin! Seeing a show was definitely on my must-do list for New York and it did not disappoint. The tickets were pretty reasonable and it was this awesome old theater that didn’t look like it had a bad seat anywhere. The costumes, the music, the performers…the whole thing was just amazing. We get great shows coming through Arizona regularly, but this was a whole new level and would be worth a trip in itself!

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It was our last night in New York and the weather was amazing, so I quickly exchanged my heels for flats and we set out to explore some more. We went to a very deserted Rockefeller Plaza and I got to peek into the Today Show set. Unfortunately my boyfriend, Matt Lauer, was not there quite yet. Then we went out for drinks at McGee’s, the bar that inspired How I Met Your Mother’s MacLaren’s! I could kind of see it, but everything on TV is much bigger! There’s not room for spacious bars (or hotel rooms) in New York!

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With nothing to compare it to, I would have to assume it was a normal night in New York, but Sean commented that it was pretty calm and admittedly, bars in Scottsdale get more crowded on a Tuesday night! Really the whole time we were there he said the streets weren’t as crowded and the lines at the attractions weren’t as crazy as he was used to or expecting, which maybe is why I wasn’t very overwhelmed and why my expectations of it being a place that’s “nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there” turned to “I could see myself living there!”

That is until I got home and read Ali’s blog answering questions about New York in which she admitted that she sometimes showers just to be alone. I like to be alone far too much. She first said she runs in Central Park though and I’d say that not running there was my one New York regret. I thought the trek to the park was too far and too full of stop lights to be worth it. It’s definitely on the list for next time!

The weather turned on our last morning there. I snuck out for coffee across the street and it was chilly chilly, but after that we just hopped in the car, I averted my eyes and we drove away from the city…and to the beach!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Central Massachusetts

I had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend that stretched out until June! My boyfriend is from a small town outside of Boston and shortly after we met we started discussing an East Coast trip to go to Boston and loop in New York, both places I’ve always wanted to go, but have never been to…until now!

We flew into Boston on a red eye on Friday night and drove straight to Sturbridge, which is next to his hometown of Southbridge. The things we wanted to do were in Sturbridge, so we decided to stay there to ease into our vacation. They are both tiny towns based on what I know! Southbridge only has about 17,000 residents. Driving through brought back big-time memories of summers spent in my mom’s hometown, Canal Fulton, Ohio…the houses, the downtown area, the greenery…but Canal Fulton is even smaller!

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We were able to check into the hotel early, which is FAN-tastic news after an all-night flight. Sean spent many evenings at the hotel because, well, it was a small town and apparently the thing to do was watch local volleyball games at the attached gym. The gym is now closed down, sadly like much of the town. His mom recommended the hotel based on its location away from a main road because if I ran it would be safer. How sweet is that? My nap was a little shorter than Sean’s so I actually did get up and run a few miles past a Dunkin’ Donuts (man, East Coasters love their Dunkin’) and some antique shops and then ran back. It was a beautiful, cool, overcast day in a beautiful town.

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That night was the family night – I had met both of his parents before, but we drove out to Western Mass to meet his uncles, an aunt and some cousins. As if I’d say anything else, it was great and they were all very sweet.

The next day, we took a little Sunday drive out to an apple orchard. Spoiler alert: it’s not apple season. It was a great farm and the blossoms on the trees were pretty, but it was a quiet little place without the lure of picking apples, drinking apple cider and sampling hot apple cider donuts. I did have to get the donuts, but they weren’t amazingly fresh, which, when they have more visitors, I’m assuming they are. I would link to the orchard, but apparently apple orchards are a thing back there and there are too many for me to remember which we went to!

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The drive, though, really was gorgeous. I was amazed by all the lush, green trees. I really hope the rest of the country doesn’t take it for granted because it’s beautiful and we don’t get any of that in Arizona. I just kept thinking how crazy I’d be going if it were the fall and the leaves were changing color! When we initially started planning the trip, I was like, “well, I want to go in the fall for the brisk weather and the changing leaves, but New York in the winter would be so great and of course the spring would be amazing and summer on the coast would be such a great break from AZ too!” So basically we’re going to have to go back for each of the seasons!

After the orchard, we needed a pick-me-up and this happened:

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I tried to make it work, but I only managed a few sips of that watery mess. Then we met Sean’s dad at Old Sturbridge Village. Yes, the town’s claim to fame is a recreated 1830s town with original houses, costumed actors, live farm animals and all! It was actually pretty big with a lot to see – the store, the hotel, the rich people’s homes, the poor people’s homes, the shoemaker, the blacksmith! – and it was a perfect day to be walking around outside between everything.

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That night we had dinner at Publick House, another gorgeous old (like pre-U.S.) building that left me in awe! The history on the east coast is simply amazing…another thing I hope the people who get to live there don’t take for granted! For me, the old buildings are great for distraction and I pretended to just be admiring the large fireplace when a subtle hint about holding a reception at the venue was dropped (oh, MILs).

After dinner, Sean took me on a little tour of Southbridge and all his old stomping grounds. He’s right down the street (literally) from Connecticut! All of the sudden, it was, “oh, by the way, we’re in Connecticut now.” Proximity…another adorable thing about the Northeast! I just can’t stop finding them! After the tour, we called it a night to rest up for our drive to NYC the next day.

Post-trip, Sean asked me my least-favorite part, assuming it would be this leg. With everything else we did, Sturbridge was probably the least exciting, but not my least favorite (I couldn’t pick anything really) and it was a great way to acclimate!