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!

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: Seattle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Seattle and my most recent trip only made that more apparent. I was there for the bachelorette party of a great high school friend who went to UW, so she knew all the ins and outs. We stayed in a cute little house in Capitol Hill that had this hanging in front of the, ahem, porcelain throne: seattle so trips to the loo were quite educational. We hit a bunch of those neighborhoods because the secret is, they’re pretty small and obviously pretty squished together.  Even on my morning runs, I made my way through at least three or four. My friend, April, doesn’t actually live in Seattle anymore, but she loves the city too and has a handful of college friends who do still live there, so it seemed like a pretty great place to party. And by party I mean, I already admitted I was up to run in the mornings (by like 8), so yeah. SeattleOn Friday morning, we started with a short walk to breakfast #1 – eggs, bacon and the like – before heading out to be touristy at Pike’s Market, where we had breakfast #2 – Piroshky’s (pastry), #3 – two doors down at Beecher’s (mac and cheese, which I am quite enjoying here) and #4 – donuts.Seattle Breakfast3

The forecast was calling for a nice day on Friday and cold rain for the rest of the weekend and it was indeed gorgeous, so we went to Alki Beach in West Seattle (new to me) and had a beer at Duke’s across from the beach until we were hungry again and had some clam strips. Seattle Alki Beach Friday night, we got to meet up with some of the other bridesmaids (just the four of us out-of-towners were staying in the house) for tapas, which turned into Mexican. Seattle gets a bad rap for their Mexican, but it seems like if you get to the right neighborhood, there are plenty of trendy foodie places popping up and my carnitas burrito was delicious.Don’t judge but after that, the bride was ready to go home. We had cake waiting from Dilettante and it was a perfect night cap.

Seattle RunEarly bedtime meant I was able to get up and run. I didn’t really have a plan, but soon realized the streets were looking familiar and I was heading back to Pike’s Market, so I might as well keep going to the water, run the stairs and no, surprisingly, I didn’t stop for donuts again. But now I wish I had. It was only five miles round trip. It actually felt like it took less time to run there then drive!
I got back in time to meet the girls at the coffee shop right down the street – Katie’s, adorable – for an Americano and then went to Gas Works Park (another new to me), which had a gorgeous view of the city. Seattle GasworksSeattle View from Gasworks What kind of classy 30-year-old’s bachelorette party would be complete without wine tasting? That was our plan for Saturday. We drove up to Woodinville , starting at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Seattle Winery Lucky for us, not so lucky for her, the matron of honor is pregnant and now I firmly believe that every bachelorette party should come with a built-in DD. We actually paused for lunch and then just hit one more small tasting room before heading home anyway. I was truly among my people. April had actually woken up with a tummy ache (gee, I wonder what it was from?), so we cooled it on the eating three meals for every meal thing. We got a spattering of rain when we were driving back to the house, but it cleared and was still gorgeous.

We went to a cute stone-oven pizzeria, Via Tribunali, for dinner and it was perfect for sharing with a big group and sampling everything, yum! And then, mostly because April was wearing a bachelorette sash, we went to a club. At 9pm. We stayed long enough for it to fill up – with other bachelorettes, way-dressed down kiddos (WTH) and creepy old guys – but they were playing music from the early 2000s, so our inner college girls had a lot of fun!

Seattle Run2The next day, I got another run in. This time I had a plan, I wanted to go to Lake Washington via Madrona. The neighborhoods to get there were adorable. I wasn’t even mad they had a TON of hills! This side has a great view of Bellevue.

Another Katie’s Americano before heading out to meet a big group including spouses and babies for brunch at Cafe Flora. April apologized about 10 times because she didn’t realize it was completely vegetarian. As a former vegetarian, I didn’t really notice, but some of the carnivorous guys were like “babe, we’re stopping somewhere on the way home.”

The forecast was again a lie and it was another gorgeous day in Seattle, so with the whole afternoon to kill before our flights, we hit Golden Gardens Beach. It was actually so warm, I wish I had changed into my bikini or at least shorts, but I had to do with pants and a tank top. I actually got a bit of a sunburn enjoying a beer (shh) on the beach with some new friends and two cute pups. Seattle Beach2A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without seafood, so we stopped at Ivar’s to eat on the patio.  The weather did eventually start  to turn while we were finishing up there and driving to the airport, but it was awesome it stayed so perfect for our weekend – my favorite bachelorette party so far! Can’t wait to see everyone again in a month at the wedding!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Los Angeles

Last weekend I took a fun little trip to my old stomping grounds for the wedding of a college roommate! I’m slightly bitter party of one when it comes to weddings…the travel time and expense, the bridesmaid’s dress that they make you order in a size that makes you feel fat only to come in a week before the wedding way too big and of course, there’s the wedded bliss part, but I got to take a handsome date this time and we made a fun weekend trip out of it.

We stopped at the outlets in Indio on the way and I became a brand whore, scooping up a new pair of Joe’s Jeans, a Michael Kors handbag and patent cobalt Kenneth Cole pumps. We got to LA (just) in time for the rehearsal and dinner. Don’t you just love when you see your old friends who live all over the country and you can sweep in and it feels like you just left for five minutes to go to the bathroom? Those are my favorite kind of friends!

LA Weekend2While we were driving (I was passengering) I saw on Facebook that The Spazmatics, an 80s cover band I used to love going to see was playing at a country bar I used to go to when I was in college on the weekend I happened to be nearby. Worlds colliding. After the all-day drive and festivities I did NOT want to go, but fortunately I had mentioned it to Sean so he dragged my butt to Borderline to dance like a fangirl to Jesse’s Girl. It was a lot of fun, even if most of the others there weren’t even alive in the 80s. Then I made him drive me around my old college campus. A lot has changed, but the memories are still so strong!

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Saturday was wedding day and since it was at Amy’s Catholic church, it was early (so they can have their evening mass), so that meant hair and makeup was even earlier! I made like a good little LA girl and seeing the overcast and 65 degree day outside, I put on my sweater boots and got my Starbucks to prepare. I had my hair styled in what I like to call the “morning after,” a loose, low messy and piecey bun.

The ceremony was nice – a surprise for even the bridesmaids, she walked down the aisle with both her parents to Disney’s Someday My Prince Will Come…tearjerker! – and we got to sit through a lot, which was also nice because my shoes were too cute to come off at all, so I had to distribute the pain. Then it was back to the hotel on the London double-decker bus for the party. There was a cocktail hour outside and the weather actually cleared up and was pretty great.

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It ended up being a really fun night. I love weddings where guests actually want to dance and enjoy staying past when the DJ tries to kick them out v. a few I’ve been to where everyone’s checking their watch and wondering when they’ll cut the cake so they can leave! We did get kicked out for the time limit on the banquet room and ended up across the street at a pool hall.

Sunday was for…sleeping in! And more shopping. I scored last year’s Mizuno Wave Riders for $40! I’ve always wanted to try Mizunos and/or Brooks, so I’m excited to check them out – they’re in my bag for the gym later!

Finally, I was NOT leaving California without visiting the beach, so we drove out to Malibu and drove up PCH to Neptune’s Net, a cool little fish shack basically. Or if you’re my boyfriend – that place from the first Fast and Furious. Or if you’re Pink, just a cool place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon.

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LA Weekend

We jumped across PCH to the beach and walked up and down for a little bit, popping the little seaweed bubbles and trying to figure out how to transplant our condo to Malibu the kite surfers. That was far more interesting than driving home, so we didn’t make it back until midnight and I’m still playing a little catch up, but I loved the whole trip so it was well worth it!

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Damn, I look good on the beach, might be time to move back!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Idaho

I’ve been meaning to write about Idaho since I returned three weeks ago. Here’s the deal…it was lovely. I ran hills in chilly fall weather.

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I jetskied. And my 89-year-old grandmother jetskied.

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I kayaked. I took my first attempt at stand up paddleboarding and was decently successful.

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I played with my niece and my cousins’ little girls.

She thinks she's too cool for a safety vest.

She thinks she’s too cool for a safety vest.

I was outside 70% of the time. I read (The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets…4 stars).

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I ate great food. And had my fair share of wine.

Me and my momma.

Me and my momma.

I slept (in an obnoxious twin bed, but the twin bed was in a glorious suite in a glorious “cabin”).

Anyway, FFF for the win, basically. It was nice to get away and relax and have a vacation that is about nothing other than R&R!

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Training (and Complaining)

Okay, weather. This is the last time I want to talk about this. Cool your jets.

Of COURSE it’s time to start my half-marathon training as we are in what had better be the last heat wave of the summer – like extreme heat warnings for temps above 110. I’ll take highs of 100 through October, just get us out of highs in the teens, lows in the 90s!

It’s pretty easy when I’m inside to create my training plan to be all, I don’t care, it’s what needs to be done, I’ll just suck it up and run. And then I don’t because I didn’t wake up early enough, it didn’t cool down enough at night and I hate running on the treadmill for much longer than three miles.

I have a week to suck it up before I get to run in glorious Idaho. People generally don’t understand why I’m excited about Idaho, but when I say Idaho I don’t mean Boise. I’ve never been to Boise, I don’t know Boise (although I have considered moving there…hello quarter-life crisis). I’m going to Coeur d’Alene, which has a lake and is gorgeous and looks like this:

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Even better, it looks like this:

Water weather in the day, sweater weather at night…ahhh. Then when I get back to the desert, it better freakin’ be cooler!

I have a few four-milers on my training plan for recovery, but mostly fives or longer. I managed to get through my first on the treadmill today, but my shoes are longing for asphalt! Heat or no heat, as I sit here with ice on my knee, I’m pretty excited to get back to training; it’s been too long!

Summer Camp (for Grown-ups)

I like my job for many reasons. One big one is that I work in a small office, but I’m actually part of a huge company (I don’t really know if it’s huge, but it’s the biggest one I’ve ever worked for!) that is headquartered in San Diego, which means…trips to that office on occasion and an annual conference held in a beautiful hotel in a great location there!

Last week, I went to my third conference, which is nuts! I remember the first one…I went for just one night I think and felt like such a newbie! Now I get to stay for the whole week (whole half-week really) and feel like an old pro.

Basically, all the corporate employees and the independent sales people (more or less) we serve converge for five days of meetings and learning sessions. And then at night, there are dinners and drinks and schmoozing with names that, now that I’m not tucked away in the little office, have faces. It feels like camp and vacation and a drink the Kool-Aid convention all at once and it’s a good thing.

That beautiful hotel? Here’s my view:

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Looking around the convention hall during peak times + the APP that was created JUST for the conference + branded hotel room key cards helped me realize it really is a big company and a big event.

Here are some of my uber-professional outfits from the events (a big deal because usually work is a little more casual):

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There were three other options, but apparently my nude pumps from G by Guess are my fave and those Columnist pants from Express that Boyfriend helped me pick out are fantastic…like wearing yoga pants, shhh don’t tell! And, yes, I got to wear a name tag lanyard all week! Hooray!

Finally…I was able to sneak away for two runs (an improvement over last year), less than I had planned, but there were much later nights than I was expecting! I ran by the harbor and into downtown, past Petco Park.

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P.S. San Diego, I love you.

Naked Commitment

This sums it up…tea, Steelers, crocheting.

I spent a wonderful weekend in Pittsburgh visiting my 88-year-old grandmother, Mimi if you will. I needed a vacation, she needed a visitor, so off I went to the land of cold (30s!) and no sun, but beautiful fall landscapes.

We played cards, went shopping, ate pie and got dressed up in fur and diamonds to go to an old school businessman’s club for dinner in downtown. We also watched the Steelers beat the Giants while eating pizza. On that day, I left the house all of six inches to scoot out the garage, pick up the newspaper and scoot back in.

After my five-hour flight on Monday evening, I was tired and needed to organize myself for the week and play with my puppy (who celebrated his one-year adoption anniversary at his own grandma’s while I was gone, puppymom guilt!), but I NEEDED TO RUN. I really felt like if I didn’t run, I would just die. Dramatic much?

Fortunately, I was already wearing my new lulu wunder under crops and hot pink Asics on the plane, so a quick bra change, but no shirt – how’s THAT for a climate change?! – and I was out the door. I NEEDED TO RUN.

And then, at that moment, I felt like a runner. It was a good naked run (I didn’t even take the time to find my headphones or let my Garmin find a signal). I only ran two miles and was home, showered and in bed before 10, snuggled with my pup who was totally pooped from his play weekend.

I made the decision to focus on training up until my third half marathon, that’s actually less than a month away at this point, and I wasn’t waiting any longer. I was doing it and making it a priority to get it in regardless of how late or early it is.

Granted, I kinda always get this fired up when I make a training plan (I had redone it on the plane) or sign up for a race and sometimes it fizzles, but the naked commitment run was pretty great and I’ve stayed fired with enthusiasm all week.

And now for my bitter rant about commitment…I belong to Lifetime Fitness and they as of recently have joined forces with Red Rock Co. that does a lot of the triathlons in the Valley. I think they’re both great organizations and I’ve applied to various jobs with both since moving back to Arizona, but I obviously do not work for either, thus the bitter part.

There are no REAL hard feelings though, as I said, I think they’re great, so I follow both and other associated groups and people on social media. A few months ago they collectively launched this campaign about Commitment Day, which is apparently January 1.

While I like the idea and plan ahead like a champ, I just can’t get over the concept of signing up for the movement and the New Year’s Day race in August and committing to commit to your wellness…in four months. What kind of permission does that grant for the rest of the year?!

Now, I don’t think anyone who they’ve rallied is all like, “Sweet, I’m gonna get fit in 2013, but I’m gonna get FAT for the rest of 2012! Honey, stock up on the Cheetos and get some mayo for dipping!”  But, potentially, participants are opting out of an entire quarter of a year and a quarter-year of their lives! Imagine the change that could happen in 120 days!

Obviously my stance is that the perfect day to adopt positive change in your life is the day you decide you want it…I did it with this blog, I did it with this commitment run…if you’re waiting for your life to start, you’re going to miss it!

Do you like to plan ahead or make changes as soon as you make the decision? What are you committed to this fall/winter?