Coeur d’Alene Trip 2019

I may have said earlier this year that I’m not traveling a lot due to Ironman training … which is still a very true statement, but this trip went along with that … as we were racing a 70.3!

Much like IMChoo three years ago, this race was picked due to time of year as well as for the opportunity to knock off a few states (Idaho and Montana). I won’t go into race details, but I will talk about this trip because we both really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, June 25

Although the race was Sunday, we left several days early in order to play a bit of tourist on the way. Our first day took us to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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Sunrise leaving town.

We grabbed Starbucks in downtown Fort Collins and ate breakfast at some small little local place (original plan was Waffle House, but apparently the Waf in FoCo is closed …?) called the Ever Open Cafe. We’d grabbed (a very mediocre) lunch there before, and breakfast wasn’t too much better. We hopped back on 287 which took us to Wyoming where we caught up with I-80 and then took that to US-191. While on 191, we grabbed lunch at what is probably best described as a permanent food truck off the road in Pinedale, Wyo. – the Burger Barn. Too much pepper on both the burgers and the fries, but hey – eating local is awesome.

From 191 we caught up with US-89 and then to US-26 which would take us to Idaho Falls.

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We did, however, see this place in Alpine, Wyo., which cracked both of us up. An old friend from the USCHO days had Brenthoven as his handle on the message board so to see this??

We got into Idaho Falls and took the bikes out for a quick spin. Dinner was at a cute place we saw while riding, the Sandpiper Restaurant.

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That bread? To die for.

Cute place, would definitely go back. After dinner, we stopped at Chick-fil-a for bike food for Sunday (last time we’d be close to one) and then walked around this Alpine Garden thing that’s on the banks of the river.

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I also wanted to walk over to what we thought were the falls but apparently not. Oops.

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Wednesday, June 26

We didn’t wake up quite as early as hoped, but still definitely too early for hotel breakfast. We grabbed Starbucks leaving Idaho Falls and then drove to West Yellowstone, Montana, as seeing Yellowstone National Park was our agenda for the day. Since our America the Beautiful pass had expired, we quickly popped over to the park to renew that and then headed back into town for breakfast. We ate at the Running Bear Pancake House, which wasn’t too terrible (remember, we have super high breakfast standards).

Food consumed, it was park time!

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Pulled over to see a bison (buffalo?) and mostly missed it, but got this view.

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Dinosaurs and geothermal pools.

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Fountain Paint Pots.

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Good advice.

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Biscuit Basin.

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Waiting for Old Faithful.

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Faithful for us!

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Lady at the entrance gate wasn’t wrong – bison are EVERYWHERE. People were ignoring this one until they stood up. Then OMG LOOOOOOOOK.

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At this point in the day (a little after noon), there were so many people that we were ready to escape after seeing only a small fraction of the park … but the last thing I really wanted to see was the Grand Prismatic Spring … and #worthit.

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Plus we got held up by a Yellowstone traffic jam on the way out. Seriously saw probably over 100 bison. SO COOL!

After we escaped that, we stopped in town for lunch (we did have a simple snack at the park to help tide us over). We were going to try a barbecue place, but couldn’t find a server/anyone to tell us what to do (wait to be seated? seat ourselves?) … so we went a door or so down to the Canyon Street Grill for essentially a diner lunch. It did the trick. After, we grabbed a quick bit of ice cream at the City Creamery before heading out of town.

Our stop for the night (and indeed the next day or so) was Bozeman, Mont. Dinner that night was our first non-Starbucks chain stop … in Olive Garden. We didn’t feel like moving out of the hotel, so we called in an order and I made B go pick it up. It was food.

Thursday, June 27

We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove over to a local park to get a run in. Run done, it was (surprise, surprise) Starbucks time.

Today was mostly a lazy layover day in Bozeman that we scheduled in … but we did go to the Museum of the Rockies for two reasons:
1. DINOSAURS (duh)
2. free admission thanks to our DMNS membership.

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Humans would look really funny as sauropods.

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Never realized dinos grew so fast. Also: there were apparently burrowing dinosaurs. Which, if you take that modern birds descended from them, it makes sense – we do have burrowing owls.

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Well hello gorgeous.

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Triceratops skulls, from juvenile to adult.

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The museum also had a bit on early Montana history (settlers and whatnot) and also an exhibition on Genghis Khan that was pretty cool. The flow was such that you just went from exhibit to exhibit. Basically, you see everything whether you want to or not!

Lunch was cobbled together from a local grocery store, Heebs, and the rest of the afternoon was super chill. We ventured out that evening, grabbing sushi/teriyaki at Wasabi Japanese Steak House and then to Genuine Ice Cream Company downtown.

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Friday, June 28

One of my former SMASH teammates (and pro triathlete) Haley Chura lives in Bozeman and offered to swim “with” us (she’s way faster … it’s more like “share a pool with five lanes down”). I had hoped for Thursday, but Friday was when it could happen. So, we woke up early and headed to the Bozeman Swim Center where we got to swim in their gorgeous 50m pool (first time I’ve ever been in a 50m pool!). I didn’t get in much (didn’t eat prior), but it was still awesome. We talked to Haley, left to go pack up the car (and grab a small bite at the hotel), and then rejoined up with her and a few friends at the Feed.

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That’s how I like my cappuccino foam.

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After eating and chatting for a while, it was back on the road to head to Coeur d’Alene.

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The hotel was very athlete friendly.

We checked in to the race and grabbed lunch downtown at San Francisco Sourdough. Back to the hotel to digest and go for a shakeout run.

I had gotten a food suggestion from my friend Katie on Fire Pizza, but the wait there was INSANE for dinner, so we ended up at Cricket’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar which … well, it did the trick.

Saturday, June 29

At this point, the super fun part of our trip turned into race prep. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then drove down to get in a practice swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene. That lake? I miss it. So much.

We went back to the hotel to get on our bikes for one last shakeout spin.

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We stopped at Terre Coffee on our way to drop off our bikes/go to the athlete briefing. I highly recommend them – great homemade cinnamon rolls. Cappuccino was good, not great, but that cinnamon roll? So good.

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At the finish line!

Lunch was finally at Fire Pizza, and the recommendation was definitely worth it. We split a caprese salad and then each got our own pizza. I think B did a pepperoni and sausage. I did the pesto chicken with added mushrooms.

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So delicious. We saved the leftovers and ate them on our drive two days later.

Dinner was our standard breakfast-for-dinner, which we got at a local place called Elmer’s Restaurant. Sure, you can mostly find an IHOP, or Village Inn, or Denny’s anywhere, but to be able to find a local place like this? So much better, and Elmer’s did the trick. I’d recommend them, too.

Sunday, June 30

For the purposes of this story, Sunday was race day. Early wake up, breakfast at the hotel (thank you so much Hampton Inn for putting it out early for us athletes!), “lunch” eaten while on the bike and at the post-race athlete feed.

We did venture out again for dinner post-race and got burgers at Coeur d’Alene Taphouse Unchained (… I think?), which did the trick.

Monday, July 1

We got a bit of a lazy start … mostly because we were actually able to sleep and sleep well post-race. Breakfast was at the hotel and coffee was back at Terre Coffee as we met up with a friend of mine to finally be able to have the time to sit and chat. We left Betsy, grabbed more coffee at Starbucks (… one of those days), and then headed out of town with Billings, Mont., our destination for the night.

Besides snacking on all the other random food we had on us (watermelon leftover from our lunch in Bozeman, leftover pizza), lunch was a small bite at a Taco Bell in Butte. We stopped in Bozeman again to hopefully find some of the most delicious root beer known to man (Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Old Faithful Root Beer). We picked up a few cans at Genuine Ice Cream – yes, we went back. I got a root beer float – but that was the only place we got it as we called around to five different places and nothing.

Dinner was another chain in Texas Roadhouse … mostly because it was next door to our hotel in Billings and we didn’t have to venture too far.

Tuesday, July 2

We woke up decently early in Billings to be able to hit the road. As much as we loved our trip … it was time to get home.

Stopped at Starbucks for coffee (go figure) and then to Stella’s Kitchen and Bakery in downtown Billings for breakfast. B had eaten there on a layover and said they had dino pancakes … which dude.

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They were good … but the waitress made me feel like a complete idiot for ordering them. It’s not what she said (nothing), but the look that she gave me throughout my order, making me try to justify getting them. I’m sorry, but that’s rude, and made both of us never want to go back there. B had loved that place and they put a very sour taste in both our mouths.

Then it was just I-90 east to I-25 south to home (with a stop at Waffle House in Frederick for lunch).

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Second Quarter Style: 2019

Oh hey, back to three outfits. Also forgot to take photos a few times. This is my life and you know it by now.

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Worn to Easter brunch.

Dress: Apt. 9 (Kohl’s)
Shoes: JustFab Online
Earrings: Sugarfix by BaubleBar (Target)
Bracelet: MantraBand
Scrunchie, Hair Clip: probably Claire’s. Have had them for 20ish years.

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Worn to Mother’s Day dinner.

Dress: Skirt Sports
Shoes: JustFab Online
Earrings: Sugarfix by BaubleBar (Target)
Bracelet: MantraBand

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Worn to May date night.

Shirt: Express
Shorts: Old Navy
Shoes: JustFab Online
Bracelet: MantraBand
Earrings: don’t remember

An Evening with Shinedown

Also known as Shinedown show number 10 for me.

Since we missed out on VIP at the spring Shinedown show here in Colorado, when the “Evening with Shinedown” tour dates were announced, we looked to see if any shows made sense for us.

None really did geographically, but one stood out to me – the Madison, Wisc., show. As I’m doing IM Wisconsin in September, I figured that show would be a perfect excuse to head out and preview some of the course. So, we bought tickets and VIP as soon as we could.

As it is and so often with us … life had other plans for us.

Our original thought was to fly into MSP, rent a car, drive to Madison, rent bikes at a shop on the bike course, ride a loop of the course, go to the show, fly out the next day, etc.

What actually happened … ended up much differently. B is currently in training on a different airplane and, while he requested the date of the concert off, he didn’t get it. So, I was going by myself. As a result, I decided to drive out (so as to not deal with the nightmare of non-revving) and bring my own bike. Concert was a Tuesday (5.21), so I left home early Monday morning. I drove most of the way out to Dubuque, Iowa, where I spent the night (a lot cheaper than the Madison area).

Tuesday morning, I woke up early (again) and drove into Verona, where the loop portion of the IMoo bike course starts. I had every good intention of riding the course, but it was INSANELY windy. Not pouring rain like I had thought it was going to do, but windy enough that I didn’t feel safe going out on an unfamiliar course by myself. So, I made the tough decision to not ride and just drive the bike course. It’s going to be painful, but it will be a beautiful pain since it was fairly pretty through the farmland.

I had brought my bike trainer to get in miles that way instead, but when I got done driving the course and checking into the hotel, I didn’t have a lot of time before meeting a friend for lunch. Lunch took a while (which was fine; I hadn’t seen this friend in person in almost a decade) … so with how tired I was and full after, I didn’t get on the treadmill, either. Oops. I just decided to flop and rest until it was time to head into downtown Madison for the show.

The show was at what is apparently a brand new venue, the Sylvee.

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VIP was let in at 3:45 … or what ended up being like 15 minutes later. Stuff got delayed as, we found out later, bassist Eric Bass was having back issues so he skipped the meet and greet in order to hopefully be able to perform later. B had collected airplane trading cards (that his company gives out to kids) for him as at our last m&g, Eric said he was a giant airplane nerd. I ended up giving them to drummer Barry Kerch instead, and both he and staffer Matt said Eric was going to love them.

I had a good chat with Barry regarding grills, a better experience with guitarist Zach Myers, and got selfies with everyone (them and lead singer Brent Smith).

Plus the photo with everyone was a lot more fun than last time.

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Of note: when I checked in at the door, I told the staff that it was just me and the second person I bought VIP for didn’t make it. She said to take the extra lanyard/laminate anyway. I noticed after I walked through the door that a pair of friends was being split up since only she had VIP and he didn’t … so I gave him the extra laminate so they didn’t need to be split up. They were both so thankful that both could experience VIP and hey, I wasn’t going to need to keep the other one anyway.

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Stage all set up.

What I didn’t like about this M&G was that we got booted back outside the building until closer to doors open. We still got priority entry into the building, but we couldn’t stay inside like we could at Pepsi Center. Now whether this is because there weren’t any opening acts or due to it being Wisconsin (someone else mentioned a similar thing happening at a different show there) … I don’t know.

I didn’t really have enough time to grab dinner anywhere decent, but I did have enough time to dump the swag backpack off back in my car, grab some almonds out of the can I brought with me, and then head off to the gas station across the street to get a quick snack.

We were eventually let back into the venue (late again) and I busted booty over to the merch stand for the show-specific pick pack. That purchased, I went to find a spot on the floor. I wasn’t right on the rail, but one person back (… I think the ladies in front of me got in earlier than they were supposed to “well the other doors were open so I just let myself in” … yes, they were open for people who paid a lot kthx).

The show itself started late … and when it did, it was the same three band members to come back out. Apparently poor Eric has six (!) herniated discs and although he took a lot of drugs/painkillers, he wasn’t well enough to be able to perform that evening (and ended up leaving the tour a day or so later). So, we essentially got an extended Smith and Myers show (with Barry in a killer suit off to the side drinking Dale’s Pale Ale (woooo Colorado!) in a Viking mug occasionally on the tambourine/percussion) for THREE HOURS. Zach also played the piano, we got some random Dracula song …

… it was pretty outstanding.

The setlist on setlist.fm was inaccurate last time I looked (it didn’t have Zach doing George Strait’s “Forever and Ever Amen” on it), but it was massively huge and insane. Think a crazy acoustic sing-along with the occasional light show and fireworks.

I also took a lot more pictures than is my wont due to the nature of the show.

I would also like to mention that they did “Nothing Else Matters,” which now means I have seen that song performed live by three different bands (technically Shinedown, Apocalyptica, and those that wrote it in the first place, Metallica).

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I tried SO HARD to get a good picture of this suit.

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Not your typical Shinedown show, but for doing what they could under the circumstances, it was amazing all the same. I also admire and appreciate their professionalism as they could have easily cancelled the show on us. Instead, we got to see something pretty dang special.

Vegas/Tucson Adult Spring Break 2019

Thanks to Ironman training, I haven’t really traveled much this year. I’d had a couple trips tentatively penciled in (tagging along with the husband), but none managed to pan out.

Then, B and his dad were planning on going to the Wild/Knights game in Las Vegas in late March. I was thinking, hey, I want to go too … why don’t I drive down and bring the bikes? And maybe we can go to Tucson after? Well, the game didn’t pan out, but the trip did.

Thursday, March 28

Since the game didn’t work out, B decided to go up to visit his parents in Minnesota for a few days while I made the drive out to the desert. Instead of doing Denver to Las Vegas in one shot, I decided to split the drive and spend the night in Page, Ariz., hoping for Horseshoe Bend at both sunset and sunrise.

I left Denver pretty early Thursday morning and trucked on through to Fruita. My first planned stop was Colorado National Monument. I was ideally hoping to run there, but the massive death plague (… allergies? bronchitis? still a mystery …) that hit me put the kibosh on that. However, I still stopped in to see it.

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Totally worth the detour.

I also saw a sign for a Dinosaur Hill and I wasn’t not stopping there, either … so I did the small hike at the site.

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From there, I cut down at Crescent Junction/Moab in Utah and moseyed on down that way toward Page. I almost stopped at Arches, but decided to hold off.

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Driving.

I honestly don’t remember what I ended up doing for lunch this day – I think random snacks at a 7-11 somewhere – but dinner was a sushi place in Page that ended up being pretty tasty. Horseshoe Bend was ridiculously busy at sunset, but it was pretty.

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Didn’t get a picture of the dinos last time through.

Friday, March 29

Dawn at Horseshoe Bend was much better. And much quieter as things tend to be.

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After getting some photos, I headed back on the road to Las Vegas. I almost timed it perfectly to get in the same time B’s flight did, but not quite. I picked him up, we grabbed a simple and quick lunch at Chipotle, and then checked in to the Bellagio. Dinner ended up being at the buffet because we couldn’t really think of anything else and it’s an easy way to eat a lot of salad.

From there, we split up – B dropped me off at the Neon Museum, as I was FINALLY going back at night (… thinking that I’d need something to do while he was watching hockey) and he had a few errands to run.

The Neon Museum is awesome regardless of when you go, but I would suggest going both day parts, especially as they continue to restore more signs.

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I also got tickets to see Brilliant!, an art installation in the north gallery (a gallery I didn’t get to see last time I visited back in … 2014?). Brilliant! was AWESOME. In the next few photos, the lights you see are NOT restored; it just looks that way.

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Saturday, March 30

The original plan for this day was wake up, go for an early run, hang out in the spa, maybe by the pool, and gamble. A very low key, chill day.

Actual plan was a bit different. As I was still pretty sick – and coughing to the point that I was sleeping on the bathroom floor away from B so we could both get some z’s – I got forced to urgent care that morning in order for some definitive answers. I had puzzled out bronchitis with a nurse friend of ours … but urgent care people said allergies. I’m still unsure as to which it actually is/was.

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Bellagio conservatory earlier that morning.

Breakfast prior to urgent care was at Blueberry Hill off strip. Coffee post urgent care was, to no one’s surprise, at Cafe Lola.

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The cappuccino was probably the worst I’ve ever had there (booooo) but still pretty good. The pasteis de nada (Portuguese egg pastry) was delicious as always.

Post-coffee, off to pick up my medication, get a car wash, and back to the hotel. B still wanted to run, so he hit up the fitness center while I grabbed a book and hung out by the pool. He joined me after and we both decided against the spa. We ate lunch at the Pool Cafe and then decided to gamble some.

Most all gambling for me was TERRIBLE this trip, btw. After a couple good trips, I finally had another bad one. Booooooo.

Dinner was at In-N-Out, as it is.

Sunday, March 31

We left Las Vegas pretty early to get to Tucson as we had an important detour along the way. Breakfast was just crap at Starbucks, as it’s easy. And stupid.

Our detour was Grand Canyon National Park – somewhere neither of us had ever been to. We didn’t have/take the time to hike, but we will definitely be returning at some point.

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Such well traveled little dinosaurs.

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Lunch was at a KFC at some Route 66 town nearby (I forget which one) and then we continued the drive down to Tucson. Neither of us were all that hungry, so dinner was Cold Stone and french fries.

Monday, April 1

Since we were staying at the Doubletree Reid Park, we got free breakfast every day at the hotel, so that was food every day.

I think B made me do a virtual visit with another doctor this morning since I was still dying, but I don’t 100% remember.

We tried a new lunch place in Baggins Gourmet Sandwiches and it was really good. Have never tried them in Tucson before but we will definitely return. I tried running at Reid Park – got about a fifth of a mile in before hacking and dying. B continued on … but not me.

Dinner that night was an old Tucson standard – eegee’s and Lucky Wishbone.

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B wanted a bit of pool time so he did that and we both decided on a drink by the fire pit – beer for him and a glass of wine for me.

Tuesday, April 2

After breakfast at the hotel, we decided to forgo Starbucks for coffee (like we did the previous morning) and headed to Le Buzz over by Mt. Lemmon. I had hoped to get some time on the mountain this trip, but alas, that was not to be.

Post-coffee, we spent some time at Bookman’s buying books before heading to Choice Greens for salad for lunch. B got on the bike today while I attempted to blow up my giant T. rex tail pool float I bought the previous year. It took forever, but I was successful!

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I am also ridiculous, but you knew that.

After a couple hours in the pool, we headed off to dinner at our favorite Tucson Mexican food spot, Casa Molina … and ate a ridiculous amount of food. Oops.

Wednesday, April 3

Wednesday was hike around cacti day … which we are realizing needs to be way earlier in the trip. Like first night. It’s where we’re both the happiest.

The first stop of the day was at Saguaro National Park West over by Gates Pass … which we had never actually been to – we always hit up SNP East.

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We saw a snek! I’m pretty well zoomed in on this rattlesnake – they were off trail and still pretty calm. No rattling out of them!

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The desert was nicely in bloom.

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Saguaro blossom!

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Petroglyphs.

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We stopped back by the visitor’s center again after hiking to let them know about the snake and then got lunch since we were both starving. Food ended up being a lot of repeats – lunch at In-N-Out and yes, dinner was at Casa Molina again. Regrets we have? Zero.

I forget what we did most of that afternoon post-lunch – probably mostly packed – but I did want to get some sunset pictures over at SNP East so we did go do that before dinner.

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Desert skies are amazing, man.

Thursday, April 4

We were up super early to drive back home, since we’re in the time of year where Tucson/Arizona is an hour different (silly daylight saving time). Breakfast was at Waffle House since not much else is open that early.

The drive was mostly uneventful, which is nice, but we did get a killer sunrise.

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Lunch was at a Jimmy John’s in Albuquerque (that was highly obnoxious to get to) and dinner was pizza of fail when we got back home … since we didn’t have much food in the house.

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I would argue this was one of our worst Las Vegas and worst Tucson trips. Partially because I was sick and partially because we didn’t have the best plan going in. Or the plan got shifted so terribly because I was sick. Still, time in the desert is a good thing and I know I needed to get out of town.

First Quarter Style: 2019

I felt like I should have had more than four outfits … but I also know I often forget to take pictures of what I’m wearing. Oops.

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Worn to my mom’s birthday dinner.

Necklace: A New Day (Target)
Earrings: Sugarfix by Bauble Bar (Target)
Sweater: Target
Skirt: Skirt Sports
Shoes: Universal Thread (Target)

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Pretty sure I wore this to the Colorado Home and Garden Show.

Earrings: Sugarfix by Bauble Bar (Target)
Necklace: New York and Company
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT
Skirt: Skirt Sports
Boots: JustFab Online

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Worn to February date night/Denver Restaurant Week.

Necklace, Tank, Skirt: Express
Bracelet: Forever 21
Shoes: JustFab Online

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Worn to tea at the Brown Palace (March date “night”).

Earrings: Sugarfix by Bauble Bar (Target)
Necklace: New York and Company
Shirt: Target
Jacket: JustFab Online
Skirt: Skirt Sports
Purse: American Eagle Outfitters (purchased at DSW)
Shoes: Universal Thread (Target)

Shinedown at the Budweiser Events Center

Yes, also known as Shinedown show number 9 for me. I wasn’t originally going to go to this show – we hopped on VIP too late (that is, it was sold out) and so decided to maybe not go to this show. Plus they were touring with Papa Roach and the last time I saw PR was when my cousin Mike was doing sound for them … and Mike passed away this past July so I knew that was going to be hard for me.

However, as it got closer to the show date (and we knew B was going to be out of town), I decided I really wanted to go so I bought myself a ticket. I’m glad that I did – not only because the show was AWESOME, but also because I apparently always see Shinedown the March of an Ironman year. Crazy, right?

Anyway, the show was held last night at the Budweiser Events Center up in Loveland. I mostly know the building as the home of the AHL’s (formerly CHL’s and ECHL’s) Colorado Eagles. Who I still haven’t managed to see in action. Doors were at 6 and I got there a bit before 4. I brought some books to read, but didn’t actually end up reading them – I was on my phone chatting with B a bit and just observing humanity.

Despite being a bit back in the line when I arrived, I managed to be one of the very first people into the venue. I popped down to the merch table by the floor entrance … but they told me that the guitar pick packs (like I bought at the last Pepsi Center show) were upstairs … so I bolted up to that table. Pick packs and a new shirt (because it had “It’s my day to be brilliant” on the back and that’s my IM anthem this year and I’m totally wearing it race morning) and then a stop to the bathroom since I had to pee. I almost went to find food … but decided I’d be okay (reader, this was not a good decision) and went to find a spot on the floor instead.

There was a weird stage setup – the regular stage and then a long runway protruding from the middle that ended in a little square. Well great, where do I go? I ended up going on the right side of the runway more toward the little square which ended up not being a bad spot, but not ideal for guitar picks, sadly. I wasn’t right on the rail, but only one to two people back (there was a mom in front of her kids) so not bad.

First up was Asking Alexandria. I’d heard of them before, but none of their actual music (or if I had, I didn’t know it was them). They weren’t bad, but it wasn’t quite my style of music. Lead singer was hysterical, though, and they did have a song or two that I enjoyed.

I almost had a pick at this show, but the woman in front of me (the one with kids) snagged it off the floor like two seconds before me, so whatever.

The worst part of this show was the drunk couple that barreled in in front of me right as the set started, kept causing chaos (they ended up a bit further to my right by the time Papa Roach went on and I have no idea where they went for Shinedown) and had oodles of sloppy make outs. Learned that it was apparently their engagement concert which, yay, congrats, good for you … but ain’t nobody wants to see that much fucking PDA.

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(You can also get a sense to the stage set up here; the mini square is behind me, for reference.)

Next up was Papa Roach. They were high energy back when I saw them six years ago and that hasn’t changed at all.

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I really need to check the set list from this show and download some more of their music, because damn are they good. Really. Lead singer Jacoby Shaddix is still wandering into the crowd and around the arena and I’m sure he’s still making his sound guy shake his head with exasperation (Mike told me that yeah, it’s great that Shaddix does that, but it’s hard on him to keep the sound good).

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See? Wandering.

I also almost had a pick – felt it go off my forearm, but a woman next to me was right on it as it hit the ground.

I wasn’t expecting to cry much during Papa Roach – except when I thought of Mike – but damn Jacoby hit me with a small bit of Linkin Park’s “In the End” at the end of “Scars” as a tribute to their late lead singer, Chester Bennington, as it was his birthday. That got me right in the feels.

The wonderful thing about this show is I swear Mike was with me. I didn’t feel his ~presence~, per se, but all during the show there was always space for a person next to me. That wasn’t the case during Asking Alexandria and certainly wasn’t the case during Shinedown, but during Papa Roach? Always a (fairly decent-sized person) hole next to me.

I miss you, Mike, and thank you for being there.

As for Shinedown … they brought it, as always. Brent Smith’s voice sounded a little different at times, but I think that was due to some new vocal arrangements for a few of the songs.

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I think I cried through about 50% of this show … but that’s pretty standard for Shinedown shows these days.

There was a bit more downtime between songs … and almost an intermission as they went to the little square … which ended up being a second stage.

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Apparently when they were doing set design for this tour, Zach Myers thought, “why not a second stage?”, so they did it. I enjoyed it as it made a large arena show feel a lot more intimate. Plus it was a great way for them to go off the cuff and be less scripted like they usually are with their large venue shows. Yeah, the tight, clean show is nice, but y’all ARE HILARIOUS. USE IT. And in this, they finally did.

In the small stage set, I guess they’ve been having a band member pick a song for the night for different shows … and, Barry Kerch I love you forever for this (and not only for your coffee), but it was his night and he chose “Call Me.” So I got to hear that for a second time.

(Setlist.fm LIES – we did not see “Misfits” at this show we saw “Call Me” and it was GLORIOUS.)

Shinedown also did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do in six years of going to shows – they actually announced the band members. Whaaaat?

Also: while “45” was still just Smith and Myers … Kerch and Eric Bass actually joined them (back on the main stage) for the end of “Simple Man.” Will wonders never cease?

No picks (other than the ones I bought) and none really came towards me. Would have had to have been a lot closer to the main stage for that.

Still, all in all an amazing show and I’m so glad I ended up biting the bullet and going on my own.

Even if I am fucking destroyed today as a result. Concert hangover? Is a thing.

On Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel

Although I really haven’t blogged about it much, we’re still doing our monthly date nights. Not all of them have been super exciting (a lot of times it’s just dinner … and even if it’s a new place I haven’t always wanted to write about it). However, this month we decided to really change it up and do tea at the Brown Palace Hotel.

The Brown is one of the oldest hotels in Denver (if not the oldest), built in 1892. They also do a high tea during the afternoons from 12-4. I’ve done it a few times, but the last time was over a decade ago for a friend’s birthday.

I’ve talked about it, and B wanted to do it … but it was hard for us to commit to as you typically have to make your reservation for tea months out and with his schedule, that isn’t easy. However, once he got his March schedule, we chatted about it, and they had spots open. So, we went yesterday.

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We just did the signature tea, as neither of us wanted alcohol. You get to choose your type of tea; I chose a black while B chose a green. Unfortunately, I can’t recall which flavors we got and the menu online doesn’t match yesterday’s. Both, however, were delicious.

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The treat tower.

Bottom level: scones. We had a buttermilk and a coconut and we loved both of them. The Brown imports their Devonshire cream from England and it is very tasty.

Middle level: sandwiches. Your typical cucumber sandwich (yum), a chicken salad on rye (okay), and a curry egg salad (not bad, but you definitely taste the curry).

Top level: desserts. A mini almond madeleine (tasty), some mint petit four (gross), a chocolate thing (highly disappointing), and some raspberry pastry that was surprisingly good – reminded me of a tarter Starbucks Raspberry Swirl Loaf.

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B is excited.

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You can get extra sandwiches, so we just got more of the cucumber ones.

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A close up of the raspberry dessert. It was pretty.

Tea at the Brown is definitely a fun experience, albeit a pricey one. I wouldn’t recommend it as something to do super frequently, but it is worth doing.