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WHERE TO GO IN NYC

7 Nov

i recently sent my friend an email with my recommendations for places to go and things to do in NYC.  this is a city that we try to go to at least 2x a year.  i thrive off the energy and creative vibes that seemingly ooze from the sidewalks and radiate from people there.  we were just there a couple of weeks ago and ate here – YUM-O!

we’re headed back in december for my birthday and to spend christmas with relatives and we are staying here (the benefits of traveling for work and collecting points all year) and having dinner with 3 other couples here.  also, i’m totally into the “secret” restaurant scene and are currently trying to get the password/reservation to this place.  CAN’T WAIT!

so here was my advice to my friend who was headed there for the first time recently.  please leave your favorite places in the comments below!

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i’m so excited to hear about NYC through your eyes.  promise me you’ll have fun!  don’t worry about ANYTHING  – just take it all in.  There is NO MORE BEAUTIFUL CITY IN THE COUNTRY!   here are a couple of places/ideas.  Take it or leave it, you won’t be able to see it all! .

for me, i’m all about experiencing what a city has to offer – no chain restaurants/stores – goes without saying, but i said it anyway.   these are totally random ideas.  my biggest advice about NYC is this… it is an anything goes city!  do not be afraid to walk into places, say hello, leave – whatever.  this city is more casual and friendly than you think – they have SEEN IT ALL.

FRIDAY DINNER SUGGESTIONS:

MARY’S FISH CAMP: http://marysfishcamp.com/home.php

nestled deep in the Greenwich Village neighborhood, you won’t believe you’re in a big city.  every time i’m here, i think, i could totally live here.  OMG.  The brownstones etc… this place doesn’t take reservations so we have put our name in and walked across the street to Greek place and grabbed a drink at the bar.  NOTE: you could even eat here – just as good!  When I was there with my niece, nice boys next to us said they had the best sangria and they asked if we wanted to try it so we did.  later, we were like, we didn’t even know them!

MERCER KITCHEN: http://www.themercerkitchen.com/

Ok, not sure you can get in here. But I LOVE THIS PLACE!  It’s in SOHO (south of Houston pronounced HOW-ston, not like the city) and this hotel is awesome.  They have a great restaurant in basement – make reservations now, if you want.

this area is my favorite in the world and you could walk to the bar at the SOHO GRAND http://www.sohogrand.com/dining-nightlife/ upstairs (saw Reese Witherspoon here) and it is so happening and great people watching. ROF and I played gin rummy for hours in the afternoon here.  Walk up the funky stairs and order a drink at bar.  I’ve been here like 28.5x.  (maybe not that much)  This would be a fun night.

TAO: Downtown: https://taodowntown.com/

meatpacking district –  this place is wild!  Very fun and another area to go to.

Saturday – before show

OK, so before your show, you gotta go to Central Park!  You may want to have brunch here.  I think I ate here  https://www.yelp.com/biz/sarabeths-new-york-10

have a great brunch/breakfast and just cruise Central Park!  Whoop!  Take a horse carriage through there!  No doubt – !!  You will be like – No way am I in NYC!

Other favorite places:

washington square park – can’t beat it.  i have spent hours here with ROF.  Just grab a coffee, grab a bench and hang out!

Ok  – here is some “only in NYC” experiences:

 

i’ve also blogged about my other NYC trips here and here.

where are some of your favorite places in the city?

travel: up north

30 Jul

in my teens and 20’s, i wrote in a journal almost daily.  i would describe in detail where i was, what i was doing so that when i read it later on in life, i would be able to go right back to that very place.  and it worked.  so i’m going to do the same here.

last week i posted about beautiful door county, wisconsin.  well, i haven’t even left my new home state and can post again about “UP NORTH.”  this isn’t my first time up north.  in fact, we’ve been going up north since i was a kid living in michigan.

that phrase means something totally different to my dallas and texas friends than it does to my wisconsin friends.  so come with me to where i am right now…

go on.  close your eyes.

ok, can’t read and close your eyes at the same time.  i get it.  read on…

it’s 7am on sunday morning.  i’m sitting in my favorite reclining leather chair in front of a big picture window.

it’s 60 degrees and the end of july.  i am listening to the massive eagle mamas (or dads, geez, i don’t know!) talk to their babies.  

i’m watching the eagles fly around  – like that is just normal to see.  caught one with my camera:

we’re at a place, i would call my very happiest of all places.  up north.  in this case, we’re in a town my husband and i will never be able to spell without help: minocqua.

that is to give you an overview.  we’re about 3 hours north of madison.   here is a better view:

we’re talking lake after lake after lake (called a chain, because many of them are connected)

this is such a different kind of place.  for example, it’s not a one week vacation that forever lives in your head afterward (nothing wrong with those!)

this is where i truly feel appreciation for our country, God and a place that is just part of who you are.  if you have a place up north and are reading this right now, please leave a comment at the bottom if you agree or add to what i’m trying to describe.

this does a good job:

back to me describing what’s going on right now.  so i don’t forget…

coffee just finished brewing in the kitchen that is a couple rooms over.  that faint, welcoming smell is amplified by the cool summer morning breeze whafting in from the picture window.  the sound of birds waking up, eagle babies screaming and just now i can hear a motor boat in the distance getting closer.

ROF and i dream about having a place up here or near hear or…just north someday.  where we can play euchre (another freaking word we can’t ever spell!) with our friends placing bets with apple pie shots,  heading to one of a million supper clubs like we went to this weekend:

what is strange about my love of up north is that i’m a big city girl.  having lived 11 years in downtown chicago, i could (and have) written about the joys of the big city.  

but in my ripe old age, i’m leaning towards the north.  but i tell you… nothing beats both!  going between the action of the big city and the serene up north is something people have done for ages.  a girl can dream.

have a great sunday!

travel: door county, wisconsin 

24 Jul

looking for a peaceful, beautiful summer vacation? head to door county, wisconsin.  where? DOOR COUNTY!  yes- trust me.  


egg harbor, fish creek, sister bay- just to name a few of the quaint cities that seem to just keep coming as you drive along the coast.  yes, I’m talking to you, dear texas friends. when it starts to simmer in dallas – head north! the high today was 78 degrees.  

but, don’t take my word for it.  they say that door county is the “cape cod of the Midwest“- read it from:

travel and leisure magazine

new york times

the travel channel

new jersey dot com

i love the midwest.  love.  the crisp morning air, the twists and turns of the drives, the lush green summers and the distinct evolution of the seasons.  it’s part of who i am.  my mom, ROF and i spent a weekend here in door county recently.  here are our snaps. 

stay: orphan annie’s schoolhouse in bailey’s harbor.   Beautiful, renovated schoolhouse with attentive owners and comfortable accommodations. 


eat: fish boil at white gull inn


 coffee: bearded heart coffee


WEEKEND IN: SANTA FE

6 Oct

hi.  thanks for reading.  i’ve taken some time off to start a new job but anxious to jump back into appreciating life in this blog.  i’m starting a new series based on all the travel we’ve done recently.  it’s a quick weekend itinerary in cities worth visiting around the country.  While these we “tested” with us – a couple – these are perfect trips for singles, girlfriend getaway or families.

we’re going to start with beautiful santa fe, new mexico.  want to head there for a getaway with your loved one for a weekend?  here is where to go, what to do and where to stay.  follow this, like we did, and i promise you’ll have a great weekend!

arrive friday afternoon and stay here:

la posada de santa fe

this place is utterly breathtaking, unique and perfectly located.  stay here and you don’t need to rent a car because you can walk everywhere.  and it’s different… not a typical resort.  instead of one big hotel, these are separate buildings that hold four rooms each with their own outdoor space.  every late afternoon, they light up the outdoor fire pits with that distinct fall smell of pinion wood.  most importantly, the bar is fun, lively and from popular talk…haunted.  we used points to stay here – it’s a starwood resort.  located walking distance from the plaza and my favorite place – canyon road.  also- this place is dog friendly!  in fact, one of my good friends from my chicago years drove down with her adorable pup drove down and met us for dinner

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photos courtesy of la posada de santa fe

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 5.38.47 AMfriday night dinner:

COYOTE CAFE

132 West Water
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 983-1615

after you’ve settled into your beautiful room at la posada, maybe had a delicious jalapeno margarita at the bar, head out by foot to coyota cafe.  this is one of ROF and my favorite restaurants in the country!  we’ve been here several times and it never disappoints.  get there about a half hour before your reservation and have a drink at the rooftop cantina connected to the restaurant and the views of the plaza won’t disappoint.

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really weak photos, i know.  sorry.  ROF won’t let me use the flash because i take too many pictures (haha) but here was a snap from our walk to the restaurant.  i’m told that the reason why santa fe is so magical (best word to describe) is that the light dances.  and it does – amazing!

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now, walk home, go on, it’s safe and believe it or not the sky is still as bright as the picture.   hold hands walking through the resort to your room (not required, but recommended!)

saturday morning breakfast:

what?  still full from the night before?  no way!  sleep in a little bit, go to the resort spa or workout then head here.  and plan to wait but it is worth it.

cafe pasqual’s – 121 don gaspar road

just walk there.  we walked everywhere.  here are some pics from pasquals.  i bought a long sleeve tee which seems to be my thing to collect now….

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saturday afternoon  – things to do

take a open air bus tour.  it’s a great way to see a city and ROF and i do this everywhere we go.  walk over to the loretto chapel – through the end of october only – jump on this tram and tool around and hear some great tidbits about sante fe.  my take away?  people paint their windows and doors blue to keep the bad spirits away.  there… worth the couple of bucks.

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saturday later in the afternoon ….

ok, enough of that, now let’s have fun.  sign up in advance for a cooking class at the santa fe school of cooking.  they couldn’t be nicer here and we are so glad we did this.  we met fantastic families from all over the country, learned a lot and got to get our hands dirty.  plus, now we are expert salsa makers! 

santa fe school of cooking 125 N Guadalupe St

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saturday night dinner:

geronimo… a must go.

from the owners book on the restaurant:

Featuring huge overhead beams, creamy stucco details, and a fireplace sporting oversized moose antlers, the 250-year-old hacienda that houses Geronimo restaurant is a welcome addition to Santa Fe’s trendy Canyon Road. Restaurant owners Cliff Skoglund and Chris Harvey along with chef Eric DiStefano have created a refined retreat in this once rough-and-tumble town, serving exquisite contemporary cuisine that rivals the best in the country. …Geronimo restaurant is named for Señor Geronimo Lopez, the former owner of the hacienda in which Geronimo is housed.

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sunday – all about art

santa fe is the oldest capital city in the us.  did you know that?  did you also know that georgia o’keefe is from santa fe?  i’m a bevy of information.  so, it’s sunday, you’ve slept in and are ready to get some exercise.  walk around the corner and hike all the way up canyon road.  here there are over a hundred contemporary art galleries in one half mile.  there are also restaurants and boutiques.  it is so much fun to stroll through these galleries and look at the art and figure out our “art style” together.  ROF and i have the same taste, which is awesome to discover.

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hope you get a chance to visit santa fe soon!  let me know if you have a favorite place there to visit.

girls weekend itinerary in new york city

24 Jul

just got back sunday from a to-die-for girls weekend in new york city.  amazing how simple it was to coordinate being that i’m in dallas, susan and sarah are in chatham, nj and sara beth is in atlanta.  so if you’re thinking of heading there, check out our itinerary for 2015.  short, but certainly sweet!

Friday night:

Dinner @ Schillers Liquor Bar @8pm

great little casual place in the lower east side.  great energy, food + drinks.  plus the wait staff has great ink!  perfect place for us to squeal and laugh and catch up with each other.  also, you’re in “real” nyc – not too touristy.

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Saturday

walk the high line

if i lived here, i’d do this every weekend.  the art was fantastic!  the flowers and trees – beautiful.  this park located UP on an old elevated train line is not to be missed.  it was a beautiful day to walk through here, stop for some coffee and snap some pictures.
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Brunch reservation @ 12:30 at Greenwich Project 

we then walked a block to this quaint, adorable restaurant sara picked out.  the part about walking a block was an inside joke because everything was “just a block away” – according to the native NYers – SBP and SP.  this was really a 47 block walk (ask susan) but well worth it.

we caught the service here on an off day.  but we still had a couple of brunch bloodies and sangria and awesome food.  the best part?  they comped our entire meal because of the service.  scheeesh!  that kind of made our whole day!

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Reservation at Bite Lip Lab to make own lipstick @ 2:30

this place was bad ass!  i have to say the two lipsticks i made are the best i’ve ever had – better than MAC!  seriously!  they smell awesome – mint/vanilla – and are super soft!  this place is the size of a postage stamp but i want one in dallas.  it was a lot of fun to watch them mix the colors, then sample then mix some more!

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SoHo Shopping

you can’t go to NYC without shopping in SOHO.  i snagged an unbelievable snag – a chloe marcie hobo bag at a consignment shop.  it took me exactly 2 minutes to decide.  i know that’s a shocker.

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Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village @ 8pm

loved this place!  small, crowded, don’t accept reservations,  no air conditioning but completely non-touristy and the most delicious lobster roll ever.  mary popped around the restaurant bringing wine and delivering food.  what a find!
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Sunday

central park!

our last day – my flight was at 4:50.  woke up late, ate at hotel and grabbed some last minute clothes at the j crew sale then took off through central park.  we stayed at the essex house – a jw marriott hotel located right on the south side of the park.  it was hot but a beautiful, sunny day.  central park is so much fun to people watch!

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Sarabeth’s for brunch

this place was awesome but we waited an hour and half for a table which actually wasn’t so bad because it was great people watching and the tuna salad was worth it!

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so to recap our short girls trip itinerary in NYC:

stay:  essex house jw marriott on the park (or try a cool boutique hotel, i used points so it was free!)

eat: schillers liquor bar, greenwich project, mary’s fish camp, sarabeths for brunch

do: shopping in soho, bite lip lab, central park

 

 

happy happy friday!

19 Jun

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i’m excited for this weekend.

first,  ROF comes home after being gone all week traveling on business.  (yea!)

second, we are taking my mom on an overnight trip here to celebrate her 74th birthday and mothers day.  i treasure this special alone time with ROF and my mom.  we’re going to get facials and massages and maybe float the lazy river.  maybe not that last one.

you might remember when the three of us went to chicago a couple of years ago and had a blast:

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yep, we’re celebrating mom on father’s day which is totally appropriate for us!  you can read more on that here.

 

have a great weekend!  XXOO

capturing a moment: holiday inn

10 Mar

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it’s tuesday morning and i’m outside jackson, mississippi at a holiday inn getting ready for a meeting.  i’m in my new black dress pants, a nicely starched french blue shirt and pointy heels.   i’m sitting down in the breakfast area munching on a stale piece of wheat bread with one half mini tub of peanut butter schmeared on it.

just giving you a visual.

there is a young woman sitting next to me with what looks like a 9 month old, a two year old and a four year old.  and they’re not happy.  i feel for her as she has her hands full – literally.  this holiday inn is brand new so even though it’s loud with screaming kids, it’s pretty clean and nice.  but with stale bread.

i decided to capture this moment because as i’m sure you’re very aware, there are things that happen all around you all the time that jolt you out of your routine and comfort zone.

this was one of those moments.

a man about 34 years old and what appeared to be his adorable daughter were at the coffee station with an older woman who was working in the small hospitality area.  the daughter looked about five years old, had braided pigtails and a southern accent as thick as pancake syrup.  the older worker woman had this conversation with her.  i was seated close (so i listened in)

OW: well, hello there!  how are you doing this morning?

LG: i’m doing ok, ma’am.  how are  you doin’?

OW: pretty good.  you here on vacation?

LG: naw, i’m here with my dad to visit my nawnaw.  she just had twin babies and one died.  

(dad clarified that “nawnaw” was her aunt)

OW: oh my, that must have been very sad.

LG: it was, i was there.  we was all there and we all cried.  one was a girl and one was a boy.  the girl lived but the boy died.  (she said this very maturely)

OW: i sure am sorry to hear this.

so here i am, in my french blue shirt getting ready for a meeting eating stale wheat bread with peanut butter.  i’m surrounded by a young woman with a son smearing jelly on a plate on his table and this darling sad little girl with her dad.  visiting her nawnaw.

i have it pretty darn good. 

 

travel: detroit’s corktown

22 Feb

detroit’s had a bad rap for a while.  if you didn’t know better, you’d think it was just one giant wasteland.  you’d be surprised to know that detroit has loads of little nooks + crannies of streets and neighborhoods with many great restaurants, shops, breweries and coffee houses.  one of those areas is called corktown.

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here are some key places to go in corktown.

1. eat: gold cash gold

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a pawn store turned restaurant  has a small but delicious menu.  what they did to the 132 year-old space is incredible and i noticed all the details.  stop here for lunch, dinner or soon – brunch.

 

2. coffee:  astro coffee

i don’t think hipsters refer to places as a “hipster place” (that was me calling me a hipster…. ha) but this place is pretty damn cool.  funky music + vegan food offerings, this place has great coffee made by cute guys with unusual facial hair.

astro

 

3. eat: mercury grill

i took some girls on my team here for lunch last year and we had a blast.  just a good ole grill with awesome food (look at that dog!).

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4.  see:central michigan train station

i don’t know where to start with this building.  built in 1913 after detroit’s original train station burned down, this abandoned train station is one of the most beautiful building i’ve ever seen.  even abandoned and destroyed with graffiti it’s unbelievable.  in fact, it has been said that it is a premier example of ruins photography or ruin porn.  i first fell in love with it when i saw it for the first time during a lunch break at work.  here was my first sighting of this building.  i think my mouth fell wide open.

IMG_9427now, i don’t recommend that you go in this building, but if you were, this is what you’d see:

 

5. eat: slow’s bbq

arguably better bbq than anything i’ve had in texas!  (them are fighting words down here!) but this place is so good!   it’s always crowded but eat at the bar if you can – it’s more fun.  and buy a long sleeve tee like we did.

slowsbbq

flooding in detroit + my story

14 Aug

when you catch the nightly news and you’re watching a weather disaster, thoughts of horror probably come over you.  

they are matched with sadness and many other emotions.  but you’re still sipping your coffee and then maybe you flip off the TV and go to work.  after all, what can you do but pray and think about the atrocity.  been there, done that.  i get it.  

on monday night i was one of those people you may have seen on the nightly news. on second thought, maybe not. after all i was completely shocked how little this tragedy made headlines.  i don’t think the world cares about detroit.  this is another atrocity.  i don’t get it.   simply the scariest night of my entire life.

so i wake up on a typical monday morning, get in my brand new 2014 chevy impala which is totally bad ass and head to work.  normal so far.  i like my music loud, so it’s pumping, my coffee is steaming in the cup holder next to me.  i park in the garage at one detroit center, jump into “work mode” and do my thing.  we’re on the 19th floor of an incredible building and have the best view of the river and detroit.  normal so far.

flash flood, i mean, forward to heading home.  had to leave a little earlier than normal but i had gotten in nice and early so i didn’t feel bad about it.  it was raining out but no big deal.  normal so far.

got in the car and headed out on interstate 75 pointed north.  it was coming down pretty hard but nothing at all unusual.  however, two hours later when I’ve only moved about 10 miles out of the city – not so normal.  while waiting in the horrible traffic, i go on to Facebook and look to see where my work buds are and one of them posts “do not go on the freeway, massive flooding, cars being routed off”.  not normal.  what?  i was smushed in between three semi’s and to my right, i see cars going THE OPPOSITE WAY on the shoulder.  i flip a couple of posts past the first and see another shot of water up to the windows of a car, people getting out of their cars to which the post reads “horrible flooding – this has what has held us up in traffic for 4 hours!”  now i realize all this was happening right in front of me.

APTOPIX Flooding Michigan

i’m a stranger to flooding.  honestly, it has been the least scariest natural disaster to me.  this is out of complete ignorance.  tornados – i’m all over them.  i know where to hide.  earthquakes, been in them.  scary, yet.  flooding – who can’t deal with a little extra water?!  i can swim!  so this is my mindset up until this point.  this is where i’m coming from.

right now, my pulse is raised but only at the horrendous thought of exiting the freeway at an unknown point.  this is detroit after all.  second only to flint having the most murders per capita.    some of you reading this have absolutely no clue what bad is- and that’s good.  but this isn’t a couple of blocks of nasty houses.  we’re talking miles and miles of blown out houses turned into drug havens.  i’m not going to belabor this because i believe in the good of detroit rather than the bad.  but let’s just say i never – ever – wanted to -ever- get off interstate 75 early.  not here.   i start to see the underpass and the cars under water and i reluctantly motion to the semi next to me to please let me and my little car over… i need to get off the interstate.

road-flooding

it was so amazing how little communication was going on.  the news sucks here.  sorry.  it does.  robert was watching it for me and there was very little warning out there on what was going on.  he said to me “be careful – i’m real worried about you getting off the highway.”  i told him i was going to call on star and will talk to him soon.

i was in a shitty area.  it was now about 8:30pm and getting darker.  i was exiting 75 and had on star on the car system with me.  i love them.  one lady stayed on the phone with me two hours past her shift had finished.  she tried really hard to get me home.  but there was absolutely no way.  i was on low gas and every way i turned in this god forbidden area was flooded.

i’m not going to lie.  i was absolutely terrified.   i thought that i was headed in a good direction on a side road to 75 when suddenly there was a barricade and i had to turn around.  i weaved through some awful neighborhoods until i got to a main street… 8 mile.

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8 mile at 75 is two lanes exiting and then three lanes merging from the bridge that went over 75.  all 5 lanes came together in water that came up to the top of my tires.  when it was my turn to follow the car in front of me, i had to weave up on the sidewalk between a burnt out brothel and a dead street light.  my heart was pounding through my chest.  my hands were sweaty and i started to pray out loud.  i don’t pray because it’s the in thing to do – i pray because i believe in God and He can make stuff happen.  fyi.  research that. 

i was on with my on star rep who was seriously ready to get home and get her drink on.  as i merged into the flood, I now knew why i should fear floods.  if i were to stall out, i would be stuck with no police, no husband, no one to help me.  all night.  i put my credit cards and license in my bra and hid a credit card in the back pocket of the car.  smart, right?  as i go through the water, car after car is stalling out but not me.  i got through the water and made it to the other side.  that is where i breathed a huge sigh of relief.  even if i was on 8 mile in the #2 murder capital of the world.  just head west to woodward, i said to myself out loud.  i live off woodward.  Lord, get me there!  it’s only a mile down 8 mile.  so i excitedly go down 8 mile and right into a road block.  woodward is closed.  75 is closed.  i’m trapped on 8 mile and it’s now 10:30 at night.

<commercial break.  get a glass of wine.  take a sip.  I am. >

i go to a gas station and get gas (thank you God!) and introduce myself to another scared-to-death girl in her 20’s.  we were all over the place!  wide-eyed, mascara smudged faces looking around with our eyebrows raised and don’t-mess-with-me pretend faces.   i asked her if she was stranded and she said that she was trying to get to lavonia.  i didn’t even know where that was.  she tells me that the nice man in front of her is showing her the way out of 8 mile and pointed in the right direction.  i was afraid to be alone so i asked if i can follow (mistake #1) and she said sure.  so we all headed out on 8 mile and turned right on a street called john r (mistake #2).   i thought 8 mile was bad.  after all eminem sang about 8 mile and produced a movie on how bad it was. but john r was worse!  now, i was on a side street that was unlit, a bunch of warehouses and a ton of stranded cars strewn all over the street.  there were scary crackheads hanging out on corners too.  it was a long wait and by this point, i’ve clued in that typically means there is a flood area up ahead.  AM I IN HELL?   ROF was on the phone with me and he told me to stop driving around that i was going to get stuck and that would be the worse thing that could happen to me.  so I turned around, left my friends, and headed back the same way to 8 mile.  my home base.

however…

when i got to 8 mile, i could now only go right which meant –  i had to go the wrong way down 8 mile, go over 75, turn around and go through THE HUGE ASS FLOODED AREA AGAIN!  excuse my french. 

i’ll spare you the commentary.  it was now 11:30pm.  but i’ll just throw out some words/thoughts:

“ you ain’t gonna make it across, you gotta cross the median.  you ain’t gonna do that with your impala.  oh now wait, you got 20’s – give it a shot”

ok.

“amy, go park somewhere, you are going to get stuck.”

i made it through the huge flood area now – water up to the middle of my drivers side door.  i don’t know how, but i made it.  i drove straight to my favorite citgo gas stations sandwiched in between a strip bar and a cool restaurant called SOUL FOOD.  thank god, i never got kicked out of the citgo parking lot because i stayed there for 2 more hours.  i met a really nice indian woman and her friend she had picked up from the airport.  she had come in from india. WELCOME TO DETROIT!  she was going to 12 mile and woodward – near me – and she said “we are scared to death, can we follow you?”  i said sure.  after all, i do have all the answers.

i’ve been in the car for over 7 hours at this point.  no bathroom, no water, no food, no wine (mistake #3, always carry emergency wine)  ROF urged me to go to the strip club and have a drink but he was just joking.  i think.  my friend from india- gina – and i just parked close to each other and hung out while thug after thug got gas.  we even watched one tinkle between the two cars.  real nice.  i had my foot on the break, my hand on the shift and my mirrors positioned to see any funny business.  it was now 1:45 in the morning. rollin’ with my homies.

this was my breaking point.  i had called 911 because we were stranded and they said some words i’m sure they didn’t mean but were stressed out.  this whole time i had only seen 2 cops.  but i looked on google maps and saw i could take a side street to 9 mile, turn left and hit woodward and then go 110 mph home.  so i called on star because they are my very best friends at this point.  i did think it was cute that they would say “i will call the authorities if anything happens to you” it was reassuring but this is detroit, honey, ain’t nobody got time for that!

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so i rolled down my window and told gina and her friend to follow me, we were going home.  she said OK.  i told her to KEEP UP.  she said OK.  we headed down a side street which was obviously flooded out earlier because cars were strewn all over and on top of each other.  we made it to 9 mile but it looked like a war zone!  semi trucks were pulled over one by one along the side and cars were all over the place -stranded.  gina wasn’t keeping up and i thought for a split second to blow her off but couldn’t.  it was 2am.  i was shaking at the anticipation of getting home.

i pulled into a gas station and let gina catch up.  i rolled down the window and asked her to please step on it.  she said OK.  so we weaved down 9 mile together until we got to a sign that made me cry:  WOODWARD AVE!

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gina wanted to turn the wrong way, so i waved her down and together we headed down the now open woodward together.  as she turned off at 12 mile, she called me.  we had exchanged numbers.  “ i just want to tell you that i would have never gotten through tonight without you.”  sure you would have!  “no really, i wouldn’t have.  i would be asleep at the citgo on 8 mile!”  we both laughed.   i told her she was a comfort to me too and we said goodbye.  i thanked God for putting an angel with me for the night.

i have this night on my mind a lot.  i think i will for a while.  i’ve written in previous posts how much i like to be jolted out of my comfort zone.  this was a good jolt.  after all, the day started off so normal!  but what should i learn from this?  what is normal??  you never, ever know what can happen in a matter of minutes let alone hours.

appreciate everything you have now.  cuz tomorrow may not be the same.

xxoo

travel: the city of lights…finally

1 Jan

it took me more than 19 years to get to paris. the dream started here, if you remember.

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if you also remember, it was my goal to drop some poundage before i went.  and that didn’t go quite as planned, but i’m not beating myself up.  after all, i went to paris and nothing was going to get me down.

this trip for me, was one of my dreams come true.  and it didn’t disappoint.

to start with, i really wanted to go to paris with someone i loved and who loved me.  my dad wanted to take me at once point in my life which was nice.  it would have been a blast.  but for some reason – because this wasn’t an ordinary trip – i wanted the dream to include this aspect.  a man.  my man.  in fact, ROF didn’t want to go to paris at all.  not even a smidge.  but i think he had fun.

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i wanted to do a day by day breakdown of my trip, but i don’t have it in me.  it was a lot.  we used a fantastic travel agent whom i would vouch for 100%.  when you hear people talk about paris – it all sounds kind of fluffy, doesn’t it?  oh…. the wine.  oh….the food.   oh the sites….  i was a bit worried that perhaps i’ve built it up too much over the past 19 years! but the minute we got out of our car in front of our hotel, i knew that paris would not disappoint.  it was real.  i was here.  the twinkly lights, the beautiful people, the buildings and streets and different culture swirled around us.

some of the best advice came from rick steves.  he’s hands down the very best travel writer.  he said that the goal when visiting paris is to try live like a parisian.  not as an american visiting paris.  go with that attitude.  what that means is just fold yourself into the city.  don’t complain because your water doesn’t have ice in it.  or that service is slow and things aren’t rush rush rush.  paris is a huge city but it is not rush rush rush.  unless you are in an uber car like we were a couple times.  then you could die. driving there is unlike anything i’ve ever seen.  but we walked around most places anyway.

another piece of good advice came from our friend demain. and that was to just get out and explore.  we planned activities, but we also just hit the streets and we came upon so many sweet experiences.  here are some we had and some pictures.

1. the lovely, older lady in le bon marche who didn’t speak any english who helped me buy two scarves.  i spoke limited french but could understand what she was trying to say to me.  i could say “noir et blanc” and point at the black and white scarf and she would wrap it around me and suggest another scarf that went better with my “cheveux” or hair.  she taught me a couple of different ways to tie one too.  this whole experience was one i was actively seeking.  looks like i just needed to be brave enough to walk into a very high scale french department store and shop.  <read = shopping is the universal language!>

2. exploring the oldest flea markets in the world with a 23 year old tour guide all to ourselves!  i got some heavy, silver, vintage soup spoons that i regret not getting 6 or 8 instead of 4!

3. the cheese and wine tasting we did here was OUT OF THIS WORLD.  best ever.  nothing like 2 tons of cheese and wine for an afternoon lunch.  yum-o.  oh, and we learned a lot.  like how to read a french wine bottle.  why it is hard to try a wine and find it later in a store.  the five things that a sommelier would use to describe a wine and much much more.

4. that the musee d’orsay is way more fun than the louvre.  <hush your mouth! did you just say that?>  if you’re one who likes to look slowly at art while being trampled by a million kindergarteners and foreigners, then this is your place.  but it would take you 25 days and 25 nights to view each piece for 60 seconds each.  we had to go and the building was enough!  unbelievable!  beautiful.  but then we walked across the bridge to the d’orsay and had a blast in this old train station turned art museum.  ROF particularly liked <read: hated> the exhibit that was there.  we walked <read: ran> through this exhibit that was, how do you say, very forthcoming.

5. ate at a proper french restaurant with a michelin star: pur.  i have never in my life seen service like this.  it was like a magnificent show!  lucky ROF got to stare at the wall and me while dining, but i got to watch 9 or so waiters help us and do so seamlessly and without talking to each other.  the bread woman, the wine man, the main waiter, the table cleaner, the first course deliverer, the second course deliverer.  omg as the kids say…omg.  check out this beautiful, intimate restaurant here!

6. experienced the beautiful and entrancing rue montorgueil.  a must see if you’re in paris.

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rendezvous with ROF in raleigh

21 Jan

great weekend in raleigh, north carolina with ROF.  he is there on business and i thought i’d swing in and say hello.  as you can imagine, we didn’t eat at burger king.  more like we ate like kings.  oh yeah, it wasn’t any warmer in raleigh except for during the day  – it was a nice 50 degrees (12 degrees now in b’ham folks!)

friday night, we went to a place called THE PIT which was anything but the pits.  upscale BBQ in a rehabbed sweet space in historic raleigh.  fried pimento cheese balls, beef brisket and more.  we had a great time.  it was just great to be with ROF.

saturday morning we walked all over the town and took in the sites of the ice skaters at the rink outside our hotel, played cards at starbucks, napped and then hit the town again.  this time to a street food place called Buku.  inspired by all the street food around the world, they served it tapas style.  we took in mussels (out of this world), pierogi, dumplings and more.  and a bottle of silver oak.  then we headed home to the hotel and started “skyfall” before falling into a sated sleep halfway through.

sunday, we chilled out, finished skyfall and started one of our long lost AFI top 100 movies “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” which, by the way is freaking excellent.  however, it just solidifies my reasons for not getting politically involved.  bunch of rats all of them.

here are some snaps from the weekend.  

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appreciating: minnesota, soup & ROF

18 Jan

so i’ve been struggling lately on what to write about.

first i thought about: soupmoderately obsessed with soup right now.  but nah.  i can do better than soup.

then my mind shifted on where i am right now.  i’ve spent the past week in minnesota.  and, boy, this is beautiful country.  my home base was in minneapolis and then drove down to austin, mn south of minny for a meeting then had a minny meeting this morning then headed 3 hours north (i think i’m close to the north pole right now) to duluth, mn.  it is just about as cold as it can get right now.  i know i’m being dramatic but not really.  i’m traveling with beth and i said to her “boy, i bet there is A-LOT of drinking being done up here in deez parts.” and she said that this county has the highest dui arrests in the state.  can you blame them?  it’s cold!

here are some pics i shot today at a quaint italian restaurant in edina, mn (awesome lil city!) we went to for lunch and then some other shots i took.

 

this friendly guy (a bit stiff!) welcomed us to the restaurant

so now i’m warm and toasty in my bed in duluth with it snowing outside.  unfortunately, there are a couple of very intoxicated girls in the room next to mine (why not? it’s wednesday!) whom seem to have had a little bit of a falling out.  pressing my ear against the door is not beneath me but i couldn’t get the jist of the tears to be able to share.  now they have left.

but what i really wanted to talk about

was how much i appreciate my husband, ROF i’ve told two people today about how he drives me to the airport and picks me up.  when i tell him “thank you” it doesn’t quite capture how cool i think he is for doing that.  we also have an unspoken rule that we don’t text, answer the phone or do anything but talk with each other.  in the past 2.5 years, i’ve driven to the airport exactly one time.  it doesn’t matter what time it is – early early morning, late at night.  it makes me feel so loved and special.  i’m not typically on the road this much (4 days a week the past two weeks) but seeing him pull up at the airport makes butterflies fly in my stomach.  that’s a good thing, by the way.  sometimes he had even gone to the quik trip and got us drinks of diet dr pepper.  i’ll tell you what… God sure answered my prayers when it came to sending me a great husband.  it is this time in being away (cold duluth hotel room, loud, drunk girls next door) that i get teary eyed thinking of how very blessed i am. 

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