the ghosts of winter

as i run down the snowy path
in the quiet of the falling snow,
i encounter no one
save the ghosts of winter.
they are benevolent spirits,
enjoying the stillness and the emptiness
which i in my own way am
disturbing.
but as long as i make no sound –
save for the inhale exhale inhale exhale
exertion from the run –
they will not disturb me any more
than i disturb them.
i run back home,
the only footsteps in the snow my own,
but i know i’m not alone.
for while the ghosts leave no trace,
you feel their comforting presence.
they are there,
in the whispers of the wind,
and in the snow taking care to cover
the memories of me,
soon to be forgotten, not unlike
the spirits themselves.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
the ghosts of winter, 1.12.19

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A Week In Vegas

I spent the first week of the new year in Las Vegas. B had an overnight there on the 31st and we were planning on being there the subsequent weekend for some college hockey … so instead of me flying in and out of LA twice and driving his car back and forth across the desert, we just decided to have me drive out and live there for a week.

(As I also wanted to get my first full week of Ironman training down, this was a much better plan.)

I left on December 30th and drove to St. George, Utah, where I spent the night at a Fairfield. And had a band-aid (or breathe right strip, or SOMETHING) in my shower. And the hotel did very little about it (disappointing, because that’s gross).

The 31st, I woke up pretty early and drove the last little bit into Las Vegas. I found a gym to swim at and then found a Target to go pay my bill at. I wanted to paint my nails, but since that’s not something you really do in a public place (smells) and I didn’t want to pay for a manicure … I just decided to do it in my car since hey, I had nothing else to do until B got in. I also read a book at the same time and that took up several hours.

At this point, I was fairly hangry, so I drove over to the MGM Grand, parked, and went into their food court and ate a Raising Cane’s knockoff that was pretty terrible. I then went back to the car to time it so I got to B’s tower at the Signature the same time he did. This worked well. Both of us were still pretty hungry, so I showered, we got changed, and we headed over to the Bellagio just to eat their buffet for New Year’s Eve (didn’t want something SUPER fancy or to fight with reservations).

As they were closing down the Strip for the festivities after we finished, we got to walk back free of crowds down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, which was pretty cool.

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Yay NYE!

Tub beers, and then bed after we saw the east coast ball drop.

We woke up pretty early on January 1st (not easy since the midnight fireworks definitely woke us both up). I was hoping to catch the sunrise … which I technically did, but it was crap. Our run wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly cold for Vegas.

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The Venetian, nice and quiet and pretty.

We grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and then headed over to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at Eggslut (and a donut at District Doughnuts).

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Fun chairs.

We didn’t have too much time back at the hotel before B had to leave, but enough time to spend some together.

He left, and I packed up and headed to Cafe Lola to get a lot of stuff done and spend a few hours. I started off with one of their amazing cappuccinos and, I forget the name of it, but some outstanding Portuguese pastry.

I stayed so long that I ended up eating lunch there, too.

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Mmm, salad.

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Newest tiny adorable dinosaur Sprout on their couch.

Sometime mid-afternoon, I headed over to the house of a pilot friend of B’s who lives in North Las Vegas, my home base for the next few days. Said friend and his wife were only around for a bit, as they have Vegas Golden Knights season tickets and there was a game that night, but one of their sons was in town for the holidays, so I hung out with him and his boyfriend (and the dog, Reggie) that night. Dinner was some insanely massive calzone from a pizza place nearby.

I woke on the 2nd much later than I would have liked, but whatever. Clearly I needed some sleep after a very stressful holiday season. I went and swam … and was very hangry during/after, so I ate brunch at a breakfast place near the house called the Cracked Egg.

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Menu.

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Foooood. Got the avocado for some green and ended up making my own avocado toast. It was pretty delicious.

I did a bike ride that afternoon and then did a lot of admin stuff at the house before venturing back out for food (and chamois cream). The drive took me over to Summerlin for the bike shop … and dinner just ended up being at a Whole Foods. I did, however, decide to try the cookie shop that was right near the Cracked Egg – Crumbl Cookies.

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They had oatmeal chocolate chip, which I was super excited about since that’s my favorite cookie and hard to find … but it had the spices of an oatmeal raisin cookie, which, IMHO, don’t belong when you swap the raisins out for the superior chocolate chips. The chocolate chip cookie was SO GOOD – definitely the best of the three I tried. The sugar cookie wasn’t bad … but too much frosting. I am barely a frosted sugar cookie person as it is, so frosting basically the same thickness of the cookie? Too much sugar.

Woke up the 3rd and kind of lazed around … so much so, that I had to scrap my original planned run location and find a park closer to McCarran so that I would be able to pick B up on time. I could see the planes landing at the park, so when I got the text from B that they were descending, I could keep an eye out for his plane (and did indeed see it). Thankfully, though, I was able to finish my run as planned and pick him up without him waiting too terribly long for me.

We went to Cafe Lola after I picked him up because he was not NOT going to have one of their cappuccinos himself. I had another of the Portuguese egg pastries and he had some of their oatmeal.

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On the swing outside.

From there, we found a much better trail and went for a ride. Grabbed a quick bite after before heading to the Bellagio (our happy home for the rest of the trip). We showered, walked over to T Mobile Arena to purchase tickets for the Ice Vegas Invitational (whole reason we planned the trip), and then met up with his cousin and his husband over at the brand new Eataly that opened up outside of Park MGM.

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Mmm, pizza.

Woke up on the 4th, ate at the buffet for breakfast (we found a package that gave us breakfast credits every day), got coffee … and I threw $40 into a slot (Heidi’s Bier Haus) and cashed out with $205. Nice morning. We then drove out to Henderson to ride some more. There’s a trail that got meh reviews due to the nature of it being pretty much right by the highway, but we thought the Union Pacific Railroad Trail was actually quite nice to ride on. Sure, quite a bit of it WAS boring, but it ended up opening up on some other trail right outside of Boulder City and it got great. Very nice way to get in 20 miles.

Got a bit hangry after that, so just grabbed food at Chick-fil-a for some calories before heading back to the Strip. Showered, grabbed a cappuccino at Cafe Gelato inside the Bellagio, lost a bit at Heidi.

Dinner pre-hockey was at In-N-Out … where we amusingly sat in the same booth we sat in back in September with our friends Blair and Jenna-Caer.

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Night at the Linq.

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Us at the game.

We skipped the first game of the night – Western Michigan vs. UConn – because all we really cared about was the Air Force/St. Lawrence game. Happily, Air Force won (and we got to see some sled hockey in intermission).

The 5th was another run day, so after another buffet breakfast, we drove back to the same park I ran in the other day. I wanted to go to the Cafe Lola pop-up shop in the Macy’s in Fashion Show, so we headed there after the run.

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Yes I’m obsessed.

Once we got back to the Bellagio, it was spa time which was vastly needed by both of us.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Vegas Golden Knights’ store to see if there was any merch for the tournament – unfortunately not.

We gambled a bit, grabbed some food, mostly stayed fairly chill.

A lot of this was because I had been feeling unsettled all day (and a bit the previous day too if we’re being honest). I finally just wondered if puking would help … and so I did that. First time I’ve thrown up in probably about six years (probably since my last concussion). It was gross, and it hurt (and I burst a blood vessel in my eyeball), but it did make me feel better, so mission success?

Dinner pre-game was at the buffet (ugh I know again) and then we got ourselves a nice treat of Ghiradelli sundaes.

Air Force unfortunately lost to Western Michigan, so our teams are currently 0-2 in championship games in tournaments in random places that we’ve traveled to. Thankfully UND doesn’t go anywhere this year for us to see them lose.

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Rainy T-Mobile reflections pre-game.

The original plan was to swim on our way out of town, but I still felt kind of crappy and I didn’t want to suction goggles over my weird eyeball … so that didn’t happen. We grabbed breakfast at Sadelle’s, a new restaurant in the Bellagio (off the conservatory, where Cafe Bellagio used to be), and then gambled a bit more before checking out. Which ended up being smart, since we both ended up winning a bit more.

We checked out, got coffee on our way out of town, stopped at Red Lobster in St. George for lunch, and drove through a lot of foggy crap to stop for the night in Grand Junction.

The drive home the next day was terrible thanks to a lot of snow (and an hour and a half to get through the tunnel), but overall, it was a nice trip to start the new year off on.

On 2018 and 2019

2018 was an interesting year.

My first inclination was to call it a good year, filled with a lot of travel (which it was), but it also had some hiccups.

I tracked my travel – Minnesota, Tucson, California (Disney), LA, Costa Rica, Scottsdale, LA, Italy, Montrose, LA/Las Vegas, Sterling, Vegas/LA, Rifle, Tucson, Minnesota, Tucson, S. Colo/Las Vegas, Telluride, Bloomington, Belfast, St. George/Vegas. I met Shinedown. I did a lot more hiking. I saw friends each month. I tried new recipes and restaurants.

I also gained more weight, and had an existential triathlon crisis, having my lightest racing season in a decade.

The goals that I stated here, I mostly accomplished.

The main one, live with purpose, I feel like I was pretty good at. If you count it by my comment of less mindless scrolling of the interwebs … well … that got worse as the year went on.

I did continue to chase the sun, getting some stellar sunrises and finally catching a good sunset in Tucson.

I successfully visited all 41 (43?) state parks, gaining a wonderful new perspective on the state and life in general. (and yes I still need to blog about that)

I’m not entirely sure I got more organized … or had more grace … but I don’t think I was entirely deficient, either.

I did create a bit more, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. You saw the evidence of the few fiction pieces I did here, and I kind of did Inktober this year (though all those doodles were pretty crappy and I didn’t share them for a reason).

So what for 2019?

Travel will happen (and already has – started off the year in Las Vegas), but a little less as I’m training for another IRONMAN. It doesn’t mean that I can’t travel a lot prior to September, but it does mean that my travel will be limited.

I still have my create and write monthly goals, but I also added in the goals of actually doing a larger painting and finishing the purse I started a few years ago.

In general, though, I like the purposeful life goal. I’ve been setting daily intentions since late July and I like living with intent. I think I’ll keep with that.

Books Read 2018

I used to be a huge reader. I read all the things, without prompting.

Like most kids, I think it started falling by the wayside in high school and then definitely college (when all your homework is reading, and reading boring crap, your interest tends to wane).

Ironically, finding fan fiction (and, more specifically, Pride and Prejudice fan fiction) helped me find enjoyment in reading again. I also tend to have a bad habit of rereading the same things over and over again … but I guess when you know you like something …?

In any case, I made a pseudo-bullet journal for last year and one of the things I put in it is New Books Read. I made a goal of a book a month. I did hit that, and, in fact, read 24 new books. Quite a few are novellas, but I’m counting them anyway. Here is that list.

Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9-11 Era by Seth Kaplan and Jay Shabat
B had finished this, I started leafing through it … next thing I knew, I was 150 pages deep. Obviously I had to finish it. Helped give me a new good perspective on my husband’s industry.

MOLLY’S GAME: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World by Molly Bloom
I think I decided to read this once I saw the trailers for the film … and when I learned she was the sister of Jeremy Bloom, the skier/CU football player that pretty much every Coloradoan knows … well, I read it. Entertaining read. Still haven’t seen the movie and I’m okay with that.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Think a modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation. Definitely a different spin on the classic story.

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers
I discovered this book (one of the few non-fiction pieces I read) thanks to a friend from back in the journalism days, Soraya McDonald. She referenced it in one of her articles and it sounded intriguing enough to find. Very cool take on music’s history.

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick
The continuation of the story from the web serial “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” I was a little obsessed when that came out, trying to plan my lunch breaks at work for when the new webisodes came out, so obviously I had to read this. That series did amazing work with the Lydia Bennet character, and this fleshed it out even more.

Colonel Darcy by Timothy Underwood
Essentially found this on FF.net … learned it had been published … bought it. You’ll notice that quite a few pieces on this list are P&P fan fic. I regret nothing. This one wasn’t one of my favorites.

The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher
T. Kingfisher, a.k.a. Ursula Vernon, is someone I’ve been following for years. I own pretty much all of her adult work, so once this came out, I was of course going to read it. Especially because I remember some of the early works with the characters back ages ago in the LiveJournal days. This was the anticipated follow-up to The Clockwork Boys which came out the previous year. I specifically held on to this for our Italy trip which was painful, but it was well worth the wait.

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud
More P&P fan fiction published, in the guise of both sets of characters being rock musicians on tour together. While it did have one of my favorite non-canon pairings (Charlotte Lucas/Colonel Fitzwilliam) and I’ve reread it quite a bit … I have a couple issues with it. Mostly in that Darcy’s band is based off Puddle of Mudd so Rigaud basically put herself in the place of Elizabeth Bennet (understandable) pretty much so she could, in fiction, fuck the Puddle of Mudd frontman – I mean, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Tiny bit creepy? I think the kids call it wank fic. Plus a rock band like that would probably not tour with a band that’s a mix of Sheryl Crow and Michelle Branch. Musically, that really wouldn’t work.

Dressed by Darcy by Beverly Farr
I’ve enjoyed a lot of other things Beverly Farr (a.k.a. Jane Grix a.k.a. Cass Grix) has written those other pseudonyms, so when I found this on FF.net and realized it had been published, I went and bought it. Think P&P in the “America’s Next Top Model” universe. Some things moved a bit too quickly; I don’t think the modern take works as well as her pseudonym’s work in the Regency era, but it was still a fun read.

Paperback Romance by Lizzie Indigo
Definitely needs editing, but Indigo knows this (doing things backward by using sales of the book to edit it). Fun read mixing P&P within the universe of paperback romances (think Harlequin and the like) … but the lack of editing does make it a bit rough to read at times.

Netherfield: Rogue Dragon by Maria Grace
Maria Grace is probably my favorite P&P FF author out there, and I had been eagerly awaiting this final installment of the Jane Austen’s Dragons trilogy. It dragged a bit at times, but it was still well worth the wait.

Bluegrass Undercover by Kathleen Brooks
So I discovered Brooks when I first got my Nook and was downloading random free books. While Bluegrass State of Mind maybe wasn’t the most well-written novel I’d ever read, it sucked me into the story enough to go find the rest of the trilogy and buy them. Bluegrass Undercover is the first book in the Bluegrass Brothers series, which continues the universe. Maybe not quite as good as the original trilogy, but still enjoyable.

Death of a Lobster Lover by Lee Hollis
Was sucked in by the cover at Barnes and Noble. I guess, like most mystery novelists, Hollis has a series and this was just one in the many adventures of Hayley Powell. Wasn’t bad, but didn’t love it enough to want to find more by the author.

Rising Storm by Kathleen Brooks
Next book in the Bluegrass Brothers series.

The 26th of November by Elizabeth Adams
Think P&P meets “Groundhog Day.” Highly enjoyable read. I like Adams a lot as an author, too.

At Darcy House by Jane Grix
One of my more favorite pieces by Grix, actually. (And to clear up from earlier: I think Beverly Farr is the author’s actual name; most stuff she writes under that name are regular romances not in the P&P universe. Jane Grix is her P&P pseudonym, writing typically novella length Regency-set stories. Cass Grix, whose name you’ll see later on this list, is Regency-set paranormal P&P stories.)

Acquiring Trouble by Kathleen Brooks
Keeping on in the Bluegrass Brothers series. I have two more to read … and that will probably come this year.

The Billionaire Wins the Game by Melody Anne
Apparently this was some random free Nook book I had downloaded ages ago but never read. Finally did. Probably will not read again and will definitely not read more within the same universe.

How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald
Trying to get some insight to help me for next year’s tri season. B couldn’t finish this one due to it being pretty dry (which it is). It wasn’t bad … but I’m honestly having trouble remembering much of it right now … which is bad, because I only read it two months ago.

Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks by Andrea Brokaw
I went on a downloading spree pre-Ireland, and this is one of the books I found. Definitely more YA, and I’m pretty sure it was self-published, but it was a nice quick read.

Shadow of Anubis by Adele Dixon
I had remembered reading part of this on FF.net but never finishing it so I was excited to see this pop up in my searching. Think P&P where the characters go on an excavation trip to Egypt.

By Hathor’s Hand by Adele Dixon
Follow up to the previous book.

Dreaming of Darcy by Cass Grix
Fun, quick read.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
Set within the Clockwork Boys universe, but after the events of those novels. Looks like it’s the first book of a trilogy, so I’m super excited for that. This ended up being the only book I read in December, and I binge read it in a parking lot waiting for both my nails to dry and my husband to land in Las Vegas on the 31st.

Fourth Quarter Style: 2018

I tried to do more. I really did. Still only four outfits, because of course.

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Worn … somewhere.

Necklace: Attic Salt
Cardigan: LC Lauren Conrad (for Kohl’s)
Tank: … I forget. Target, probably
Skirt: Skirt Sports
Boots: JustFab Online

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October date “night” to a corn maze.

Sunglasses: Target
Purse: American Eagle Outfitters (purchased at DSW Shoe Warehouse)
Shirt: Target
Vest: Skirt Sports
Jeans: 7 for All Mankind
Boots: JustFab Online

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Worn shopping. Tried to look cute. Ended up destroying my feet in the heels.

Scarf: Target
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT
Jeans: 7 for All Mankind
Shoes: Sofft

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December date night.

Necklace: silver, don’t remember; think it was a gift
Sweater: H&M
Dress: Skirt Sports
Boots: JustFab Online

T and B Do Belfast: The Food

So the food we ate on this trip wasn’t as exciting as say, Italy – and we didn’t eat a whole lot, all things considered … – but I did want to mention some of the stuff we did.

Wednesday, November 21:
Breakfast: egg and oj at the house, coffee and a pastry from either Caribou (B) or Lavazza (me).
Lunch: I’m pretty sure this was at Le Grand Comptoir in JFK Terminal 4. B had … a turkey and brie sandwich, I think? … and I had a lobster roll. Because of course.

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Not the best, not the worst.

Snack: random stuff at the Sky Club.
Dinner: Something on the airplane. I think it was chicken with risotto and green beans, but don’t quote me on that.

Thursday, November 22:
Breakfast: like two bites of my Noosa yoghurt that was in the breakfast snack box thingy we were given.
Lunch: yeah, kind of skipped this.
Dinner: food at the Belfast Christmas market.

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Nothing will ever be as good as Italy, but we try.

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Dutch pancakes with butter and cinnamon. Was meaning to go back and try other flavors, but it never happened.

Friday, November 23:
Breakfast: delicious hotel noms (eggs, bacon, croissants, oatmeal) at the Hilton Belfast and then cappuccinos at Caffe Nero.

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Also not as good as Italy, but fooooooam!

Lunch: Simply Fish and Chips (located in the same building as St. George’s Market).

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Fish was good. Chips … not as much.

Snack: random bites at the BU alumni pregame reception – cocktail weenies, (crappy) nachos, cheese, muffins.
Snack #2: loaded fries at the hotel bar just for calories.

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They did the job.

Saturday, November 24:
Breakfast: more hotel noms followed by crappy European Starbucks.
Lunch: random sandwiches from a cafe in the bottom of a bookstore.
Snack: same random bites at the BU alumni pregame reception.
Dinner: pizza and caprese salad from Pizza Punks Belfast.

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The large whiter blobs are too much mozzarella. Good otherwise though.

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Touch too much basil. Otherwise delicious.

Sunday, November 25:
Breakfast: same delicious bites at the hotel.
Snack: coffee (for B) and donuts/Timbits at Tim Horton’s.

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Because I have to keep up my streak of buying doughnuts while we’re overseas together.

Lunch: I actually don’t think was a thing.
Dinner: burgers and fries at the bar at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport.

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I had to dismantle this in order to eat it by taking off a patty. And, once again with the crappy fries.

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Plus we got some (mediocre) apple thing for dessert.

Monday, November 26:
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, and croissants at the Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport.
Lunch: more breakfast foods from some stand in the Dublin airport once we realized we were stuck for another day.
Dinner: at Little Venice, an Italian place down the street from the hotel.

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Cheesy garlic bread for an appetizer.

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Tagliatelle Pollo Funghi which I had. Good except the chicken was a bit dry.

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B’s Ravioli Beef.

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B’s dessert – Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

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If there are Profiteroles on a menu, I will order them. These were definitely not the best I’ve had, however.

Tuesday, November 27:
Breakfast: same as the previous day at our hotel.
Snack: cappuccinos from Butler’s Chocolate Cafe in the Dublin airport.
Lunch and subsequent snacks: Pod life.

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“Lemongrass Ginger Prawns with fennel salad, roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds and wasabi mayonnaise” and “Little Gem Caesar Salad with shaved parmesan cheese, pretzel croutons and caesar dressing.” Neither were good; nor were they bad.

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“Grilled Beef Tenderloins topped with fresh herbs and demi-glace served with haricots verts and roasted cauliflower.” Beef? was fine. Green beans were better in the back of the plane on the way over and I choked down the cauliflower. Highly disappointing, tbh.

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Mmm, sundae. Not enough chocolate sauce though.

I grabbed a bag of chips out of the snack basket when it came around and we were also given chocolate chip cookies at one point.

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“Cuban Pork Sandwich pork loin, smoked ham, swiss cheese and dill pickles served on a baguette and offered with mixed green salad.” The sandwich was REALLY good … but unfortunately my salad was frozen so I couldn’t really eat it. Boo.

Beyond: very few snacks at the Sky Club because we were so stuffed from the flight over. I did buy a can of Pringles (as well as ate some peanuts) on our flight back to DEN … and I think we just grabbed Chick-fil-a on the way home, but I also don’t quite remember.

T and B Do Belfast

Randomly, four years ago, Hockey East and the ECAC decided to get together and play a hockey tournament every Thanksgiving up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Apparently this is because Belfast and Boston are sister cities (that a whole bunch of BU alums attended because, well, BU runs the world) and BU alums are the head of the Belfast Giants hockey club and they decided to make this a thing at some meeting between the two cities. The tournament became the Friendship Four and BU was finally announced as part of it last year. So, for a full year, we’d been hoping to pull off this trip to Belfast to go because see hockey in (Northern) Ireland? Sign us up!

To make this happen, a lot of things had to fall into place. Finances (did it as on the cheap as possible), the time off (for B), the flights to look okay (because we weren’t going to buy tickets) … and thankfully, everything came together. Mostly. I’ll get there.

Wednesday, November 21:

Our first day was a travel day. We took the first flight out of DEN to JFK because it looked the best … and because not taking the first flight whenever possible breaks non-revving rules. As a result … it meant we got to sit in the Sky Club at JFK for a very, very long time. Which we did, after we got lunch.

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We changed spots like three times.

The flight to DUB looked good. No fancy business class pods, but we thought we were going to get a row to ourselves (two of a three row). Unfortunately, some guy joined us (we think he was a row off, but we couldn’t say anything). This made for a slightly more uncomfortable flight … especially when it came to sleeping (or trying to. Especially since the dude in the middle in front of us moved to the aisle in front of me and reclined his seat and moved around a lot making it HARD to sleep. That, and the turbulence from hell that almost made me vomit.).

Still, fairly uneventful flight. No movies watched, partially because there was nothing that struck my fancy and partially because I did want to try to sleep some.

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But we got there, and that was all that mattered!

Thursday, November 22:

We landed in Dublin, cleared customs, and then bought tickets for a bus up to Belfast. I wandered around to maybe get a snack, but nothing caught my eye.

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Except this. This did. None of the donuts did, though. Unfortunately.

I ended up nodding off again on the two hour ride … waking up about a half-hour outside of Belfast and extremely nauseous. How I didn’t actually throw up on that ride I don’t know. I had bile come up two or three times. It was not pleasant. But, we made it, and that’s all that matters. We walked the mile or so to our hotel (Hilton Belfast), checked in … and died. Unintentionally, but a nap definitely happened.

Once we woke up, we decided we needed to go out and get some food. We had heard of a Christmas market at City Hall, so we headed over there.

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Belfast City Hall.

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Cool looking ride that I may have gone on had I not had the close puke call earlier …

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Dutch pancakes being made.

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Dutch pancakes. So good. A bit of a different Thanksgiving dinner, but it worked.

Friday, November 23:

We woke up, grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and then ventured out for the morning. Our destination was the Titanic Museum, as we wanted to get there as close to open as possible. We did stop for a cappuccino first, though.

On our walk, we stopped by the Big Fish (Salmon of Knowledge). I had heard about the Salmon of Knowledge thanks to a Maeve Binchy book I had read ages ago, so when I saw the statue on Google Maps, I knew I had to check it out.

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Kind of in love.

From there, it was a short walk across the bridge (in the rain) to the Titanic Museum.

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B successfully sent a message via Morse code!

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Sure, why not?

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On the deck of the ship. Kinda.

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Lunch the day of the sinking.

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The Nomadic (last White Star Line ship remaining) and I forget what’s in front it. But it’s where they used to dry dock ships. I think.

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Husband looked like the sculptures outside so I made him pose.

Afterward, we stopped by the SSE Arena to get tickets for the games (the whole reason we made the trip …) and then grabbed some lunch back near the hotel. I think we ended up napping for a tiny bit (oh, jet lag …) before heading back out to the arena. We skipped the first game (Yale and Union), though.

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Arena.

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The bar inside the entertainment complex next door, Rockies, still had a goalie stick out for Humboldt.

Our friend (and huge BU fan) Cindy, whom I’ve known since college, got us into a pregame alumni reception inside the arena, where we got to hang out and eat some snacks.

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And I continued my trend of mascot selfies. Thanks, Rhett!

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Hockey!

BU won their first game, which was awesome. The atmosphere in SSE Arena was actually pretty good. If they don’t sell all the tickets, they give some away to youth groups and the like so we had a giant group of rowdy middle school-aged kids in the front of our section. Holy crap those kids were insane. It was almost more fun watching them than the hockey.

We got out and walked back toward our hotel while waiting to hear about meeting up with other friends there. We grabbed a quick bite at the hotel bar (since we really didn’t eat dinner …) before walking to the Duke of York to say hi to friends. We didn’t stay out too terribly late, but it was fun hanging out in the very, very crowded pub.

Saturday, November 24:

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From breakfast at the hotel.

The one thing I really regret not doing on this trip was heading up to Giant’s Causeway. We didn’t want to rent a car, and all the day tours were full day affairs. Since we had the hockey game … we didn’t want to chance the timing. So instead, we stayed inside the city. Our first stop was to (*sigh*) Starbucks for some coffee … but mainly to get a Northern Ireland coffee mug. We then headed to St. George’s Market – a combination farmer’s market/food hall/Christmas market. We really probably should have gotten some veggies or something there, but oh well.

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From there, we walked to the Belfast peace wall. We had seen a lot of other friends go there earlier in the week and wanted to check it out.

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On the way, in West Belfast.

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Sobering yet completely awesome. Also of note: the UK was trying to figure out their Brexit deal and one of the main points of worry was open borders in Ireland since ain’t no one wants to go back to the Troubles.

We headed off back to the Christmas market so B could get some of the Bailey’s hot chocolate everyone had been raving about.

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We didn’t stay long beyond that, though – too many people and my social anxiety kicked in big time. So, instead of finding lunch there, we found a small cafe within a bookstore for a couple of sandwiches. After lunch, more touristy wandering.

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This awesome alley is right across from the Duke of York (you can see it behind me).

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Same street.

Before the game, we walked back over to the Titanic Museum to get an ornament (had been mulling it over and decided to buy it). Good thing, too, since the museum looks awesome at night.

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Also got a shot of the famous Harland and Wolff (shipbuilding) cranes.

Then it was off to the pregame reception once again.

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L to R: Me, Rhett, Cindy.

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We needed a picture of us!

Unfortunately, BU did not win the Belpot, as they fell to Union that night. Boooooo.

Sunday, November 25:

We didn’t have too early of a wake up Sunday morning, but we did get moving relatively early, since our main goal for the day was to get back down to Dublin.

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Dinosaurs looking out the window one last time.

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Walking to the bus stop.

I took Dramamine for the return trip – just in case – which was probably good. I did end up nodding off again though, which was nice. We got to the airport and then caught a shuttle bus to our hotel – the Holiday Inn Express right near Dublin Airport. Since we were (hopefully) leaving the next day, we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous, besides seriously repack (kind of half-assed it in Belfast). As a result, dinner was also simple at one of the restaurants at the Crowne Plaza next door.

Monday, November 26:

We woke up with enough time to get checked out and grab some breakfast at the hotel before going to the airport. We hit the airport, checked in … and learned we wouldn’t get boarding passes unless they thought we had a chance of making the flight. As a result, we had a few hours to kill before we needed to be back by the counter. Time to play the waiting game. As we checked in with a higher priority, we were able to go past security … but the odds of us getting on did not look to be in our favor.

We went through security and customs as quickly as we could (you clear U.S. Customs in Dublin which is kind of cool … also thank you Global Entry you were worth every penny) and got to the gate to wait … and wait … and learn we were screwed. Dangit. We got escorted back out … got our passports stamped as we “re-entered” Ireland … and then sat for a bit figuring out our next move. We got some food for lunch at the airport, considered going into town … but decided “screw it,” rebooked the Holiday Inn Express, and went back over to the hotel.

We did, however, venture out for a very nice walk at the park across the street.

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It had been raining that morning … so this rainbow (it was a full arc, too) was nice to see.

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We’re mature.

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It was a beautiful way to spend some time. I think we both needed a bit of time with some fresh air in nature.

We hit up an Italian place about a block down for dinner and then back to bed … but not before I contacted my parents to have them please go over to our house and brine the turkey sitting in my fridge so we could cook it on Wednesday to have our very delayed Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 27:

Second verse, same as the first … except this time when we checked in, they let us go right through (plane was open enough). The security line was much shorter earlier in the morning which was nice. As we didn’t have a gate that early, we were told to just hang out in the departure lounge (or really just around all the Duty Free shops). B bought some whisky. I almost bought a gorgeous cashmere scarf … but couldn’t justify the money on something I’m not sure I’d use all that much. I did, however, find a pair of dachshund socks for his mom. We also got some coffee at a cafe. When the board told us to go through customs, we dutifully followed and then sat at our gate. Or what we thought was our gate (it changed).

In the gate area, we saw a few of the BU fans Cindy introduced us to that also worked for the same airline. I guess they tried the Sunday flight, didn’t get on … and didn’t even try for Monday. They got on too … and ended up sitting behind us.

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We’re going hoooooome!!

Going back was nice as we got #podlife (as I like to call it). My video screen was being stupid so I didn’t watch a movie, but I did read quite a bit.

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T Schmeg the emotional support dinosaur (kidlet babysitter) hung out like this the entire flight.

We got into JFK and then sat in the club for a while until our Denver flight … which we also happily made and I’m pretty sure I slept some on it, too.

It may have been 26 hours later than planned, but we made it home.

Not the longest or best (Northern) Ireland trip, but it was a lot of fun being able to see my hockey team in another country.