Monday, July 16, 2012

New Blog Location

My blog has moved

I'm hoping to keep this one up to date on a regular basis. Check it out and share if you wish!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Time for new posts again!

Matt and I just got back from another vacation adventure. I'll be posing about our daily culinary adventures and fun times throughout Texas Hill Country.

Monday, April 9, 2012

On to Denver

Do you remember our rental car snafoo? For those of you just checking in... go back several posts and read about our entrance to LA...

We rented a car there to return in Denver, must return car by 6:30PM or else we will be charged another $150+ -- Straight to the airport we go.

Thankfully my cousin Jessica, her husband Scott, and daughter Victoria picked us up at the Rental Car return and took us on our last culinary adventure of the week.

Thankfully, Jessica and I have been able to get together last minute several times over the last few months. I still remember when we used to play hide and seek at my grandparent's house growing up... and now we both have houses of our own.

We hit up a Lucky Pie Pizza for some local beers, yummy olives, beet hummus, and of course PIZZA!
And, what goes better with pizza than ice cream?

Good for us that the local ice cream shop was connected to Luky Pie. We went in for a tasty treet to end out our night. I very much enjoyed cuddling with Tori.

We spent the final hours hanging out with Jessica and Scott before getting on the red eye back to Raleigh, where life we would resume as normal. But what is normal anyways?

The Home Stretch

We had grand plans of enjoying a half day of skiing in the CO Rockies before getting on the plane, but that would have required us to wake up around 7AM and leave the hotel by 8/8:30... since I didn't even wake up until 8 and Matt was about an hour and half behind me... we decided to change our plans.

I think our pace was beginning to catch up with us.

But, it was our last day and I wanted to make sure that we didn't miss a thing. In efforts to let Matt sleep a little longer and to get out some of my pent up energy after being in the car for hours on end the day before, I went on a morning jog/exploration of Glenwood Springs.

Option two for the morning included a dip in the Hot Springs before heading down the road, but as I ran past the pool that morning, a waft of sulfer overcame me. I also learned that the "Hot" pool-- about the temperature of a hot tub, was large enough for about 100 people and the "warm" pool-- about the temp of bathwater, was large enough for 300.

Lets look at this objectively: Smelling disgusting in a warm pool with 300 other people? Do you want to do that? We decided against it and instead hit the road and worked our way towards Denver.

Good Bye Glenwood Springs

One day we will make it to Aspen, but time was not on our side, so around 11AM we rolled towards Vail.

For some reason Vail sounds sexy or glamorous in some way to me. I think I was imagining New York City as a ski town, but its nothing like that.
Here are the slopes (or at least one section of them).

Must take all pictures in front of life size statues. 

Matt was trying to get me to do a snow angel, but I declined. 

We made it to Vail Village by 12:50 signs on the parking deck said that 2 hours or less = FREE and anything over 2 hours was $15, so our goal, make it back to the car by 2:50... would 2 hours be enough time to explore and eat lunch?

If we were staying in Vail, this would be my top pick... outdoor firepit and cozy sofa.
Great place to relax after pretend skiing all afternoon. 

In and out of shops and then we found the German Gastro-pub for lunch. It was bright and sunny, so we sat outside and enjoyed our salad and schnitzle. It just so happened to be the day that NC State was playing UNC in the ACC tournament. I asked Matt if he wanted to sit inside, but he decided that it would be better not to watch.

So, we ended up in a great conversation with the owner of the pub and his friend. I love meeting friendly people.... only about 45 minutes left on the timer... lets go. Matt still wanted to do some shopping.

*If anyone knows my husband 45 minutes is not enough time to even buy socks, so I don't know what we were thinking :)

In and out of a few more stores, before my need for control and anxiety kicked in... its like I have a built in clock inside of me and it just ticks like a time bomb when we are on a deadline...

"Come on BABE!"
"(Sigh) Aren't we on VACATION?"

We headed back to the car, found it in the deck and exited= 4 minutes to spare. Deep breaths and sighs of relief mixed with laughter propelled us on to Denver.

**Unfortunately, we also found out that State lost. But, our attitudes still remained positive... we were on Vacation, right?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Out of Zion

Lodge Buffet= Check
Multiple Day Hikes= Check
Second Shower= Check
Check out my noon= Check
Traci's anxiety level drops= Check
Zion Gift Shop= Check

I don't know why its so hard for me to push the limits of check out times, but my heart races until we are out the door... and I need at least 10 minutes to spare... issues, I think just a few... but we managed and then jumped back in the Jetta to drive out of the park and into the vast open spaces of Southern Utah.

Can you see the small hole in the side of the mountain? That is part of the tunnell! Wow! We would soon be driving through that mountain. 

We had time for one more quick 'scenic route' before heading out of the park and 10 minutes of photo ops. Well worth it, but again, my anxiety level started rising... quick! Jump in the car... we need to make it past Grand Junction, CO tonight!

So, we headed out of Zion... through the tunnel. This tunnel was amazing! Built in the 1920 and still functioning beautifully and we were thankful for that!

We made it alive to the other side and out of the park! Good bye Zion.

The rest of our day's journey pretty much consisted of driving, quickly jutting into scenic overlooks, snapping a few pictures and scouting out places to hidrate and use the bathroom. 

We made it past Grand Juntion, CO by about 8PM and stopped into Palasade, CO for dinner. Nice little quaint sports bar with live music and then one more hour to Glenwood Springs to crash into our beds for the night. Only one more day to go. We savored every moment of it! 

Friday-- winding to a close

I know I have kept everyone waiting in anticipation for our next moves and the view from Zion National Park in the morning, but watching Avitar and finishing the 2 last books in the Hunger Games sequal have kept me severely busy!

So, lets go... onto the next marathon day of adventure. I would have to say this one was one of the tops. Actually, looking back on the trip, its hard to choose which adventure was my favorite, but this one was the most scenic.

Wake Up: 8AM (ish) -- here is our view from our cabin--

AMAZING!! I think this post might have to consist of a majority of photographs because words are hard to express the beauty and majesty of the cliffs surrounding us.

When we awoke it was still about 30 degrees outside, so we loaded up our layers of clothes and headed to the lodge from breakfast before a morning hike. We left the lodge around 9:30AM and needed to check out by noon... our aim was to do a mini hike. I checked out the guide books and looked for one that should have lasted us an hour. Emerald Pools trail... here we come!

Please notice that my full anticipation of whats ahead includes a ski band and sweatshirt...

We made it to the 'lower pools' in what seemed like 10 minutes, so the hour long hike was a little to amateur for our taste and we pushed ahead... shedding layers as we went. The new glorious views at every turn tempted us to continue even though we both left our phones in our room and had no concept how long this adventure was going to take us... we marched on.

More layers down... and more views conquered... new trails kept running into each other so we had to keep exploring...

I wanted to turn back way earlier, but we were thankful to find some other hikers to take a picture of us, and Matt needed to sit and take in the sights while is awas patiently soaking in the sights myself...

Once we made it back to the flat we started our jog back to the lodge to shower and move on to the next adventure. We made it back to our room by 11:15AM (2 hours of hiking and 4.5 miles down) We actually completed 3 separate hikes during our rampage through the forest... And I was nervous we were going to run out of time?

Can worry add any minutes to your life? I guess not!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thursday Night

Now we hit the road hard... no more lolly gagging on the West Coast :( 

Next Destination Las Vegas-- but on the way we needed to book a hotel room for the night.

I'm still resistant to having my own smart phone, but I don't think we could have completed this journey without Matt's iPhone in hand. We booked just about everything from the car. Unfortunately we forgot to bring the car charger, so we had to conserve the battery. Watching the battery wane away just added more risk and excitement to the adventure.

Google: Zion Natinal Park -- only one option for lodging popped up and... the lodge inside the park! I called and they meet all of our criteria: 1) Arrival between 10PM & 1AM 2) Less that $100 3) Clean

So we booked the room and drove on down the road. Neveda here we come... As we crossed the border we found an exit lit up like it was Disney world... all you needed was the ability to gamble and all of a sudden hotels and roller coasters arrive decked out with millions of blinking lights. They even had slot machines in the gas station...

We were headed to Vegas and arrived at 6:52PM-- Our goal, eat dinner and be headed out by 8PM-- could we do it? Well, good news for us there is a FREE parking deck next to the MGM Grand. So, we pulled in and headed to Craft Steak.

**Another Top Chef Favorite** Head Judge Tom Colicchio's place. Would we be able to get in?

No problem! We walked striaight up to the Host Stand in our sweat shirts and asked if we could sit at the bar... sure thing... we found two vacant stools and ordered some drinks and a 'few' items off the menu... scallops, snap peas, mushroom assortment and a flat iron steak!

The steak melted in my mouth llke nothing else, creamy yet meaty at the same time... How do they do that? I will say the service wasn't that great, but the food made up for it and we got to plug in the phone, which gave us just enough juice to make through the cliffs into Zion by Midnight.

8:10PM, enough time to cruise down the strip before hitting the road again.

We were lucky enough to pass the Bellagio while the fountain show was going off. 

2-3 hours more to drive... getting a little sleepy, but determined to make it. We were hitting a lul when the full moon started bouncing off of cliffs all around us. It was mesmorizing! I felt like I was riding a roller coaster through the cliffs and Matt enjoyed stearing the Jetta through the twists and turns.

The last hour had us on the edge of our seats. In the middle of nowhere, gas and iPhone battery dwindeling down and the temperature quickly dropping from the 80+ earlier that day to 30 when we climbed out of the car to check into the lodge.

To our room to plug in our electronics, turn on the heat and get some sleep...

On our way to Zion

At this point, our plan only included returning our rental car to the Denver Airport by 6:30PM on Saturday, but not sure what adventures awaited us on the way... Grand Canyon? Skiing? Tijuana?

Robin & Rob steered us away from Tijuana (We were only 15 miles away, but safety changes dramatically as you edge towards the border). We were sad not to use our passports, but thankful for the adventure we got to have.

We were also thinking possible Grand Canyon, but a few things deterred us from there. 1) My parents were going just a few days after us and it would have been sad to just barely miss them & we would get to see their pictures. 2) We learned that it would have taken us a half day to drive in and then not be able to see everything we want 3) We mapped a route through southern Utah that took us through Zion National Park, a one of a kind treat! 

We will take a trip to the Grand Canyon at some point... anyone want to go with us? 

The water was FREEZING!!
So, out of the zoo we headed North towards the La Jolla area of San Diego to say good bye to the beach for the last time. 

Thanks to the iPhone we found a route that wound our way towards Las Vegas and passed through the Torrey Pines Golf Course (only a slight 30 minute detour)-- 2PM and about 8 hours of driving to go. 

Heading back East... still a lot to do!

In the OB neighborhood of San Diego credit cards are almost non-exitant and chain stores are no where to be found. It is truly a gem. So, Robin & Ron walked us down the street to a quaint beach cafe for breakfast. We ordered 'to go' and walked another block to sit on some benches overlooking the Pacific Ocean. What a glorious morning!

We had quite a bit to accomplish before heading East so we needed the nourshiment... Matt's breakfast burrioto was stuffed with everything from avacados to french fries and my breakfast scramble mixed potatoes, eggs, and veggies! Yum!

See my tip toes :) I keep trying to get taller.

Life time friends!
Breath taking views
Delicious food!

After breakfast we headed to the San Diego Zoo. Thankfully Robin had some day passes to spare for Matt and I. That was a big treat since we only had an hour and half to spend before moving to the next location.

We arrived at the zoo at 10:30AM and picked up a map. One of the fun things for me to do is plan... so I devised a route for us to make it through the entire park and be out the door by noon. -- We did it... jumped in the car at 12:15 after seeing all of the exhibits. Seriously, a whirlwind, but so glad we did it.

The camels were my favoriate. They had a bunch of different kinds.

Real Elphants!

We can't go anywhere with out Matt asking me to climb on something for a photo op!

On our way out of the park we rode the Sky Train back to the Entrance. 

On a mission! 

Lions, Tigers & Bears Oh MY!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday's adventures Continue

What should we get into next? 
Can you tell how windy it was? 
I needed to add another jacket before we headed down the Venice Boardwalk. 

Its hard to put into words what you see walking down Venice beach, but I enjoyed the people watching.

One thing that stood out was all of the places to get diagnosed for a prescription of medical marijuana. All you have to do is pay $40, check a few boxes on a 'medical assessment' and there you go to get your toke on!

We opted to pass at this point... and headed down the Pacific Coast Highway towards San Diego.

It took way too long to get out of the LA area around 4PM, so we eaked down "The 1" and stopped for some breathtaking photo opts...
Laguna Beach at Sunset melted our hearts (and thats a good thing, because my patience was wearing out and an irritating fight was just about getting ready to start)... something about the awe of creation (and the chance to pee) brought me out of my funk.

Then, onto San Diego where we met up with Robin and Ron. Robin and I were roommates when Matt and I met and hadn't seen each other in years. We got to meet her fiance and they graciously hosted us at the last minute and showed us a great time in OB Sand Diego.

I think this night's Cerviche tacos actually competed with the butter poached lobster from Chicago.

After dinner were spent the night hanging out their brand new hot tub! Another amazing evening full of great conversation and reconnecting with good friends. But, we must press on to the next destination...