First Quarter Style: 2021

Literally only one outfit this quarter. My life has felt like a foggy shitshow and clearly this helps prove it.

1-17outfit
Worn to January date night.

Headband: Skirt Sports
Necklace: Express
Sweater: Rubbish
Skirt: k.deer
Shoes: … can’t tell which ones I’m wearing, but go with Target.

Tucson, January 2021

I almost didn’t go on this trip.

I was going to go while B was in airline training but his schedule kept getting messed with for factors out of his control and it ended up that he was going to have a few days off while I was planned to be out of town. Thankfully, since I was driving, we just decided to have him fly down to meet me on his off days and swap out clean clothes and extra pills/vitamins that way.

(Plus I felt a little less guilty taking a trip by myself without him. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve done a vacation without my adventure buddy …)

Thursday, January 21
I left pretty early on the 21st with the goal of getting to Flagstaff for the night.

The day took longer than expected … partially because I screwed around a bit more than I thought I did at my stops. Like in Grand Junction where I deviated off the beaten path for some doughnuts.

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Mmm, doughnuts.

I also stopped in Moab for lunch and to get some crystals at the Moab Rock Shop which is one of the best around.

However, I did eventually roll into Flagstaff … where I proceeded to need to get some personal work done, check up on stuff, and help out a friend in grad school with some editing.

Food eaten: egg and oj, Starbucks, Main Street Bakery doughnuts/gas station coffee, bagel sandwich at Sweet Cravings Bistro, car snacks cobbled together for dinner.

Friday, January 22
I did not sleep well that night, but I was still out the door of the hotel in Flagstaff pretty early in order to hit Sedona and hike a bit. The ideal thing would have been to catch the sunrise, but a winter storm was rolling in so that didn’t quite happen.

The drive down 89A through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona was just as awesome as it was in May – almost more so with the fog and mist.

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The first mini hike in Sedona was to one of the energy vortices at Airport Mesa. Not sure if I felt the energy, but the views were pretty awesome.

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The next hike I got to right after the trailhead opened – because I needed to – was to the Seven Sacred Pools. The hike probably would have been better a few days later after Sedona got all the snow and moisture that they did, but eh. It was still magical.

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Definitely would love to come back and see it again and possibly hike even further.

Since I had goals of doing some stuff in Tucson that afternoon, I didn’t hang around the extra 20-40 minutes for most of the shops in Sedona to open. I had thought I’d be going back that way in a few days, but alas …

The signs that the aforementioned winter storm was coming started in the mountains on the drive down 17 to Phoenix. Intermittent rain and heavy fog that made visibility very very low. Stopped in Tempe for lunch and then continued on down to Tucson. I made a quick stop in the north side Bookman’s to drop off some stuff and then checked out a metaphysical store (that had a terrible selection of very over-priced crystals). I got to the hotel – tried out the Hotel McCoy – a little early, but thankfully, they were able to check me in regardless.

I had every intention of going for a run and/or a ride … but instead, I was just pretty lazy. I was on vacation, after all. I did check out more of the murals though.

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The very cool pool. I didn’t go in though.
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Hotel.

Dinner was at my apparent new Tucson staple, Cafe Santa Rosa, for another delicious frybread taco.

Food eaten: Starbucks, mini chocolate donettes from the hotel, Mad Greens wrap, Cafe Santa Rosa frybread taco.

Saturday, January 23
Woke up decently early and actually did get out on my bike – the Hotel McCoy is pretty close to the Tucson Loop trail so it made it easy. I definitely didn’t ride nearly as far or as long as I had hoped, but eh. I rode.

Got back to the hotel, showered, and then went off to explore. I finally checked out the MSA Annex and the Mercado San Agustin (since it was closed due to COVID on my trips last year).

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MSA Annex. Made up of old shipping containers.
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Inside Why I Love Where I Live. I bought stickers.
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La Estrella Bakery in the MSA. This was only half of their case.
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Clockwise from top left: concha, some custard-filled something, apple empanada, mini glazed doughnut. All delicious and cost me less than $4.

I got back in the car and started exploring (after a stop at the best Starbucks ever (nicest baristas ever) at Broadway and Randolph). Checked out a few rock shops – AZ Lapidary and Gem Rough, Ninth House (more metaphysical/witchy than rock, but eh), and Dah Rock Shop (the best). I explored Fourth Avenue a bit more and got some local books at Antigone Books (one on the Saguaro cactus and another on the Tohono O’odham people).

I found a Gila monster sculpture.
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And of course went to eegee’s.
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In the ice area/what would be the workout room at the hotel.

I had hoped to go to El Torero for dinner – only place to try the supposed best green corn tamal in Tucson (Lerua’s) – but they still weren’t doing dine in, despite what Google was telling me. Since the hotel had a food truck on site, I had some sliders from there (that were actually really delicious) and then went to Casa Molina for a tamal and a cheese crisp. I also missed the sunset. Dangit.

Food eaten: oatmeal and breakfast tamale at the hotel, La Estrella Bakery pastries, Starbucks, eegee’s, Stacks food truck, Casa Molina del Norte.

Sunday, January 24
The initial goal for the day was to wake up early and get a trail run done on the Saguaro Half Marathon course (… a race which looks like it’ll still go on in March …), but it was pouring outside and it’s not wise to run trails in that condition due to potential erosion.

Any other thoughts I had for the morning got thrown out as I helped out a friend on a 2.5 hour phone call (which I don’t regret AT ALL). It did, however, leave me with just enough time to get packed/checked out and then grab coffee before I got to pick up B from the airport. We grabbed some eegee’s at our favorite Alvernon location (who happily still had some retro stickers left too) before winding our way up north to the Hilton El Conquistador. Which is WAY on the north side.

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B in the rain.

We waited for a small break in the weather to head over to Catalina State Park for a hike. I’d wanted to check the park out for a while but it’s never worked out. Since we were staying like five miles away, why not?

We did a short hike, but it was amazing. We got to see the resiliency of the plant life after the fires that ravaged the area this past summer. And some snow in the hills.

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We went back to the hotel to shower and then FINALLY checked out El Charro Cafe (and the downtown location since everyone always suggests that location).

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Not the best cheese crisp, not the worst.
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Enchiladas. They weren’t bad. IIRC, B liked his fajitas.
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Thought I was ordering a green corn tamal. This is not a green corn. I don’t know what this was. It was not good.

Overall, we enjoyed it. Service was a little slow and I’m not sure we’d go back, but we’re glad we finally tried it.

Food eaten: room service oatmeal, Starbucks, eegee’s, El Charro Cafe.

Monday, January 25
We woke up Monday and left the hotel for some breakfast at a little local place near the hotel on the north side, the Village Bakehouse.

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Pastry case.

They weren’t bad and we had some good conversation with one of the employees. From there, we grabbed some Starbucks and then went back to the hotel so B could pack up. We stopped at the MSA again so B could experience the awesomeness that is La Estrella Bakery.

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In the MSA. Currently closed, but I loved this mural.
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Cappuccino from Presta.
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Coffee with more pastries.

I dropped off B at the airport and then headed off to explore more – all fruitless endeavors (Bookman’s, gem warehouses). I tried a late lunch/early dinner at La Parrilla Suiza, which friends of ours had recommended … and it was HORRIBLE.

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Well, this was at least super cheesy …
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Terrible enchiladas and the worst green corn tamal EVER.

I had some work stuff to do that evening so I just spent the rest of the day at the hotel getting packed and then work in hopes of leaving the next day.

Food eaten: Village Bakehouse, Starbucks, Presta Coffee Roasters, La Estrella Bakery, La Parrilla Suiza.

Tuesday, January 26
In theory, I was supposed to get on the road this day. However, that winter storm? Yeahhhhh, it was all over Arizona. I couldn’t go the northern route (like how I came in) since half the roads were closed. 10 east to New Mexico was terrible. Half of New Mexico and parts of Colorado? All terrible. I spent time stressing out with B on the phone very early that morning before we finally decided to just get me a hotel on the far eastern side of town that night and I’d drive all day Wednesday home through New Mexico.

That decision made, I went to go back to sleep for an hour and slept three. Oops.

Once I finally got back up, I packed up the car and left the hotel. I drove down to breakfast (I had free hashbrowns at Waffle House that I wanted to redeem) and into floofy snow flakes.

YES. SNOW IN TUCSON.

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View from the hotel that morning. Most of the stuff in the city had melted before I got a chance to really get a good photo.

I think the last time I personally experienced actual snow in Tucson was in like 1989 when we woke to a white Christmas and snow-dusted saguaros. I know it snowed two or three years ago, too. But still. WEIRD.

After food, I tried going back to Dah Rock Shop, but alas, they were randomly closed that Tuesday. Next stop was another new Tucson thing in the De Grazia Gallery in the Sun. Both my grandma and my Auntie Sister knew Ted De Grazia back in the day and the family has some of his original work, so it was cool to see.

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From there, I decided I wanted to get out and explore a little in the desert, so it was off to Sabino Canyon.

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Puddles on the trail.
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Cactus hugger.
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I did another late lunch/early dinner after that, but this time, at Choice Greens since I desperately needed some greens in my life. From there, it was all the way down Speedway to Saguaro National Park East (with a detour at a grocery store for some road snacks/veggies and some gas) to hopefully catch a sunset.

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Moon.
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Not the best; certainly not the worst.

Then, off to the hotel to check in, get in a quick workout, and then an early bedtime to get on the road stupid early …

Food eaten: Waffle House, Starbucks, Choice Greens.

Wednesday, January 27
I was on the road around 4am and then proceeded to have probably the most uneventful, quietest, and most efficient drive home through New Mexico in the history of ever.

Which is good.

I did make a small detour when I got to the Springs into Manitou Springs to check out a rock shop, but other than that … easy peasy.

Food eaten: random snacks from the car and various gas stations, Chick-fil-a, food at home.

hiking to 7 sacred pools, sedona

fresh
rain
breathe in
inhale
breathe out
exhale
towering red rocks
bird song
trees
agave and prickly pear
civilization nothing but a distant hum, the
rushing waves sound of cars passing by
an afterthought
simply background noise
nothing more than white noise
backdrop to the peace
and beauty
and spirit
follow the path marked in
red dirt and
red rock and
feel at one with the
universe.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
hiking to 7 sacred pools, sedona, 01.22.21

On 2020 and 2021

Oh 2020, what to say about you?

You were supposed to have a concert (Shinedown Deep Dive Tour in May), and there was always the potential for more.

You were supposed to have races (one, Memphis 70.3, that was going to include another road trip to Tennessee).

You were supposed to have two weddings and two trips for those weddings (Chicago, Indianapolis).

You were supposed to have so much potential, so much fun.

Instead, you taught us a lot of lessons, and forced us to discover uncomfortable truths about ourselves. You had the potential to bring us closer together, but instead, I think you just might have fractured us more. It’s going to be interesting to see the fallout and the long term ramifications of this year.

*****

Personally, I still didn’t have the worst year.

Sure, most of my travel got booted out the window, but I managed five trips to Tucson/Arizona, one to Las Vegas, and one to Indianapolis (one of the weddings still went on). In those trips, since most of them were by car, I also got to see a lot more of Utah and of Arizona, places I’d always meant to explore but then never did. I also explored a good amount of my home state of Colorado and have now probably seen about every corner.

I read. A lot. I averaged over a (new) book a week which is ridiculous for me. And I make the caveat of new book, because I reread stuff frequently. I probably average at least a book a week every year in rereads, so for me to add on that much new stuff? Impressive.

I clearly got back into sewing, since masks became the couture of the year. I did buy a few, but most of the ones around the house are hand-sewn by yours truly.

I got a bit into the mystical, joining online moon circles early on during the shelter-in-place orders, buying a stupid amount of crystals … and am now essentially a part time PA for an old friend from back in the day who started her own lunar alignment business.

We are so very extremely thankful that B stayed employed through it all and stayed getting paid through it all. Not everyone was so lucky. It was scary and unsure at times, but the fear was good as we now finally have our emergency fund in place.

In terms of the goals I sort of put into place for the year, I did mostly get the house in order. Except for the basement and part of the kitchen, the entire place did get deep-cleaned. We found stuff from the early 90s behind some of the bathroom drawers when we pulled them out. I kept writing and did actually successfully participate in NaNoWriMo in the terms of writing every day. I didn’t get enough words down for a novel, but I have a very good start on one. I obviously kept sewing (silly masks) and there’s only one thing on the mending pile. The only thing on my hopeful list that I didn’t do is paint more.

*****

So what for 2021?

In doing those aforementioned moon circles, we do shamanic journey meditations. In one of those, we met our highest self. I liked who I met, and I want to do my best to try to achieve that. A lot of my goals/intentions for this year are aligned with that purpose.

They are:
– take time to create, every day, some how, some way
– try to limit screen time – CONSCIOUSLY
– find a morning and an evening mantra
– salad every day if possible – make the effort
– take care of you, whether that’s taking more frequent baths (tub time!), lotioning up after showering, taking a daily walk (as much as I can), drinking water as frequently as possible, taking more care in my appearance (not just living in sweats), embracing my sensual side, or whatever else … do it!
– take time to read – books, not just fanfiction
– play video games for an hour here or there; do it instead of mindlessly scrolling FB or IG
– make the hard choices in nourishing my body and eating well; if I am fueled properly, I will have more energy

And not written down, but still there, is to also focus on my sleep. I know I’m in several years of sleep debt and I know that sleep is so good for health in all its forms, so. SLEEP.

All of these things I can do regardless of the state of the world. All of these things will help me become my best, truest self which will help me show up better for others.

Fourth Quarter Style: 2020

A few more outfits, weirdly enough. Five? That might tie my record …

10-16outfit
Worn … somewhere in October.

Sunglasses: Quay Australia
Scarf: Merona (Target)
Sweater: Rubbish
Jeans: 7 for all Mankind
Boots: JustFab Online

 

10-31outfit
Ahh, pandemic wedding fashion.

Mask: homemade
Necklace: Kate Spade
Dress: Express
Bracelets: MantraBand, some chakra bracelet I bought at Wish
Watch: Garmin
Tights: I forget
Shoes: Coach

 

11-11outfit
November date night outfit.

Necklace: Target (forget which sub-brand)
Blazer: JustFab Online
T-Shirt: Smashfest Queen
Jeans: 7 for all Mankind
Shoes: JustFab Online

 

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December date night. Two photos for lighting purposes.

Necklace: Kate Spade
Dress: Draper James
Bracelet: Forever 21 (… accessory offshoot they had ages ago)
Tights: forget
Shoes: JustFab Online

 

12-20outfit
12-20outfit2
Worn to a Christmas dinner with the fam.

Toque/Beanie: Skirt Sports (or Gap, but I think this is a Skirt beanie)
Dress: Kiel James Patrick
Tights: forget
Shoes: JustFab Online

Books Read 2020: Second Half of the Year

Since I read so much this year, here’s the second half of everything.

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
YA. P&P variation I fortuitously saw at Bookman’s. Perfect brain candy that I needed after so much heavy stuff. Interesting take set within the world of east coast boarding schools.

The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
This one took me a while but I powered through it. Makes some really good points and, as always, we won’t have an easy fix. Something does need to be done, though.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
This was a bit clunky (oh legalese), but a really interesting argument setting up that the segregated housing practices that have been put in place are actually unconstitutional.

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Fun ode to the mystery novel genre by being a mystery novel itself. Not quite as predictable as I thought it was going to be – didn’t catch the twist coming. You might if you haven’t been out of the mystery novel game as long as I have …

Running With Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall
Second book by McDougall this year. Also so good. Burro racing and donkey personalities and Amish and running and depression. Also I need to go see the burro races when they start back up here in Colorado.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
SO GOOD. About love and really how awesome octopuses are and how intelligent they are.

Make America Healthy Again: How Bad Behavior and Big Government Caused a Trillion Dollar Crisis by Nicole Saphier, MD
Right wing. Good personal responsibility message, but got a bit boring.

The Intriguing Mr. Darcy: A P&P Variation by Audrey Belmont
Novella. Really stupid premise and an abrupt ending. might have had potential, but not in this case. Also needs a different title.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
SUPER interesting. Uses of cadavers, got into what to do with ourselves when dead … actually really good. One of my favorites this year.

Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau with Leon Whiteson and Aviva Layton
Oh how the government fucked up. We watched the TV miniseries and decided to go deeper. Great to see a different perspective.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I somehow don’t think I’d ever read this before. Autobiographical fiction – almost didn’t realize I was reading an autobiography. Good insights.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Oof. Powerful. Requires a lot of reflection. Perspective about the experience of growing up Black and asking the questions. Letter to his fifteen-year-old son.

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
Part of the Dresden Files series. Have read a few, but not all leading up to this one. Chose this one because of my fave, SUE. Love my T. rex.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
Long time fans of Kingfisher/Vernon will recognize Bread Wizard. I’m so glad it finally got published. Possibly more YA, but awesome. The carnivorous sourdough starter was the BEST.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
About Mormonism and fundamentalism and you can tell he really doesn’t care for (Christian) religions, but it was interesting all the same.

A Thousand Mornings: Poems by Mary Oliver
I think this is her latest – if so, you can tell – it’s disjointed compared to her earlier work.

The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars by Meghan Daum
OMG best book this year. Generational divide, how trying to be woke we’ve made things worse, labels are awful. I think everyone literally needs to read this. GO. NOW. READ IT.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Great history and well worth the very long read. Also goes along with “Evicted” and “The Color of Law.” Things you don’t learn in school …

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Biography. Enjoyed this maybe more than I thought I would. Interesting insight into the former First Lady and Chicago and lots of stuff.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Okay, so everyone hyped this up and it was actually really pretty amazing. Might want to buy this one (I’ve read most of these thanks to the Libby app and my library card). Can take bits of the story and apply it to ourselves/our lives.

Really Angelic by Enid Wilson
P&P porn where Elizabeth is an angel? Interesting take on world building, but really, PWP.

My Darcy Exhilarates by Enid Wilson
Collection of P&P what-ifs. Lots less sex than I’d expect out of Wilson … which means she doesn’t shine as much, imho.

My Darcy Pulsates by Enid Wilson
More P&P what-ifs. More sex than the other collection – she knows where her bread is buttered.

Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid
Modern P&P variation and progressive with a trans character and a cis character dating (not D&E), but the usage of “transsexual” grated. Could have been less vague (I have an illegible note that says incoherent plot … something. IIRC the Wickham/Georgiana plot line was not well done).

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
Weirdly similar in some ways to “The Twisted Ones” … but that could just be because I’m used to Kingfisher. Twist slightly obvious but was handled well regardless. Enjoyed as always.

Twnty Mnths: A Very Modern P&P by Z. Z. Scott
Read this initial fanfic version on FF.net … which was a lot better, imho. This was cleaned up and edited for publication, but not as good. Less plot development. Still, I like to support my authors.

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer
Modern P&P take – different names, swapping some plot lines – more inspired as opposed to a direct change. Set in Texas with debutantes and a soccer player.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
P&P but really not – from the perspective of the servants of the house and what their lives might be like. Not what I was expecting at all, but it wasn’t bad.

Dolly Parton Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton and Robert K. Oermann
Dolly is the best. Partial autobiography partial not, explains the stories behind the music. Great quick read.

Midnight 99 by Ashley Christine
Written by a friend. Weird, futuristic, sci-fi, alternate reality, illuminati, lizard overlords … insane. And I also can’t wait for book two. Also a lot of footnotes.

The Answer Is … Reflections on my Life by Alex Trebek
Almost hard to read now that he passed. Quick read, enjoyable. Trebek was awesome.

Unmarriageable: P&P in Pakistan by Soniah Kamal
Fun, multicultural take on P&P. Still trope of using P&P in the adaptation.

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell
More WWII story! Virginia Hall, super spy. Read a Rejected Princesses story on her ages ago on Pinterest so I was intrigued by this. There are some variations between that story and this one, but given that Hall spend most of her life in secret … it makes a lot of sense.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
Didn’t watch the video series, but decided to try the book. One of my favorites this year re: BLM.

Third Quarter Style: 2020

(on a side note, the new WordPress is PISSING ME OFF and I hate it. this might be the third official draft of this fucking post.)

Three outfits this go around. Not more, because 2020, amirite? Or really just because it’s me. Whatever.

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Worn to B’s birthday dinner in Vegas.

Necklace: Attic Salt
Dress: Express
Watch: Garmin
Shoes: A New Day (Target)

8-21outfit
Worn to August date night.

Earrings: Sugarfix for BaubleBar (Target)
Shirt: Excuse Me, I Have to Go Be Awesome (? purchased at Wish Gifts)
Necklace: Annotated Audrey
Skirt: Apt. 9 (Kohl’s)
Shoes: JustFab Online

9-25outfit
Worn to September date night.

Mask: made by me
Earrings: Annotated Audrey
Dress: Prabal Gurung for Target
Shoes: Impo

en automne

golden light
golden leaves
and reds and oranges and
crisp air
biting yet friendly
a gentle nip that will turn
malicious soon enough
bonfire scent
the taste of apple
of pumpkin
of cinnamon
fall!
oh glorious autumn!
the best and
the greatest
time of year
let go
(like the leaves)
and embrace
the change of seasons
nature’s glorious crescendo
before the cold, dark days
seep in
fall –
stay a bit longer, if you please.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
en automne (alternately: fall is the best season: fight me), 09.29.20

On Vegas, Post-COVID

As we did Tucson for my birthday trip this year, B wanted to go to Las Vegas.

(Seriously, what is with us choosing to go to massively hot deserts for our birthdays?)

We knew it would be a bit weirder than usual, and it was. Overall, though, it still was a good trip. B came at it from a different perspective as he was in Vegas right as it closed down (literally the day the casinos closed down). So regardless of what we might find, he would be happy to see it back open. And probably more so given the weirdness of it being closed when we saw it quiet after our May trip.

Thursday, August 13
We’re in the midst of fire season in Colorado, so our planned drive got shifted around. A fire broke out in Glenwood Canyon and shut down I-70, so we either had to go the northern route through Steamboat (what we chose) or more southern via 285.

We got in a quick bike ride that morning before hitting the road and then spent a longer-than-planned day in the car. We did manage to drop down by Palisade, though, so B could get a few peaches (one of his favorite fruits). And some peach ice cream.

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Our stop for the night was Moab (again), with plans of Arches in the morning

Food eaten: breakfast/coffee at the house, car snacks, Wienerschnitzel, Arches Thai

Friday, August 14
We woke up fairly early to be able to go hiking in Arches National Park before it got too hot. We didn’t have a lot of time to hang out in the park, but we wanted to do one hike and we chose Delicate Arch (just the most famous in the park).

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B hiking to Delicate Arch.

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Dinosaurs and arch.

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Because I like fun perspectives (and the GoPro).

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I call this Archception.

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From Arches, it was back to Moab for some much-needed breakfast.

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B loves pancakes the size of his head.

We stopped at a rock shop and then went back to the hotel to shower and pack up before heading back out on the road. I let B drive all of today (which is weird for me, but, birfday trip for him) to our final destination of the night in Page.

After dinner, we went to Horseshoe Bend at sunset. I hadn’t been since they were constructing the parking lot. A few things: it’s now under city control (even though it’s still kind of controlled by the National Parks Service; basically this means that you can’t use your parks passes to get in and have to pay a $10 fee every time you go); there’s a new path to the bend; it’s still crowded even with a pandemic. All of this means we probably won’t visit it again for quite some time, but I’m glad we went with the GoPro, because that is how the good pictures get had.

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See?

Food eaten: snacks (cantaloupe, Bobo’s bar), Moab Diner, Doughbird/Love Muffin Cafe, car snacks, Blue Buddha Sushi bar, ice cream.

Saturday, August 15
The original plan was to check out sunrise at Horseshoe Bend as well, but we didn’t quite feel like paying $10 again, so instead, we just got on the road.

As opposed to the quick and easy way to Las Vegas from Page (up through Colorado City and through St. George and down) … we took the scenic route through the north part of the Phoenix metro solely so we could stop at the town of Wickenburg. We drove through it in May and didn’t stop and regretted it, so we decided to stop this time around. We had lunch at a barbecue place in town that was fairly mediocre, but the town itself was really cute. We also stopped at one of the metal shops and got a light cover for our back patio to replace one that we got rid of. I also need to save up either $375 or $500 for a metal T. rex for the backyard, because dude.

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On the menu.

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Mural in town.

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Jail tree in Wickenburg.

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After Wickenburg on the way up to Nevada, the drive goes through a field of Joshua trees and it’s super cool … so I made B snag a photo out the window.

We also had a huge scare in the hills right before we got out of range of the saguaros (before you hit Kingman). We were descending and a lot of people were passing us (I only like going 5ish over … and it was super hot so I was going a bit slower than usual for my poor old RAV). Literally like two seconds after we saw a sign warning trucks and cars hauling trailers to slow down, this pick-up hauling a trailer came blowing past us and the trailer was wobbling. We saw a tire come flying off the trailer, go across the highway in front of us, hit the ditch, roll through, hit a tree, and go soaring up into the air. How it didn’t come down on the top of the car I don’t know, but we saw the tire behind us and go rolling across the other direction of highway and up into the hills. Both of us were a bit unsettled after that, understandably. Someone (or something) was definitely looking out for us.

Soon enough, though, we rolled into Las Vegas (although my poor car was struggling a touch in the heat at that point). We stopped at a grocery store and liquor store pre-Strip for a few provisions and then checked in to our Vegas home, the Bellagio. The rest of the evening was fairly low-key with some gambling and rest.

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HYDE Bellagio became the Mayfair Supper Club. We didn’t go in (I’d like to eventually), but this is the entrance.

Food eaten: hotel breakfast, Starbucks, Hassayampa Barbecue, car snacks, Lobster Me.

Sunday, August 16

B got to dictate everything today as it was his actual birthday. He wanted to get in a run, so we were up early to beat the heat.

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Sunrise from the room.

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Casino Royale as seen on the run.

Because we like seeing it empty, our next stop was the conservatory.

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Currently Japanese-themed.

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Birthday boy.

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The rest of the morning was spent mostly in relaxation although we did venture out to gamble a little.

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The reason we get the room we do.

We wandered across the street over to Mon Ami Gabi to meet a pilot friend of B’s for dinner.

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Photo wall in Paris.

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I took the opportunity to get some escargot.

Low key day, but it was precisely what B wanted, so it was perfect.

Food eaten: Starbucks, Sadelle’s, In-N-Out, gelato from Cafe Gelato, Mon Ami Gabi, cupcake from Kim and Jake’s.

Monday, August 17
To get back on track, we started off with another run (to breakfast). Heading out, we saw possibly the best sunrise I’ve ever seen in Las Vegas.

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After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to shower and change before trying out Topgolf for the first time. While we were both pretty terrible (I seriously haven’t golfed in … 25 years? shit i’m old …), it was actually pretty fun – more fun that I was expecting. We tried to hit up the Peppermill for lunch afterward, but the wait was long (and outside in the heat thanks to social distancing), so we decided to go elsewhere for food. We found ourselves at Fashion Show Mall (trying (and failing) to get B a Vegas Golden Knights jersey) and found ourselves some sustenance. We did walk over to the Wynn from there, though, in search of another dinosaur for the house. The quest was successful, which I am thankful for.

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No dino photo, but here’s this from the inside of the Wynn.

The rest of the afternoon was spent either reading or gambling. The heat zaps strength, man.

Food eaten: America, Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s, Jamba Juice, Margaritaville.

Tuesday, August 18
A lot of today was spent off strip. We had breakfast at one of our Vegas favorites, Blueberry Hill, and of course had to head over to Cafe Lola for coffee and (for me,) pasteis de nada.

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We both got cute dogs on our cappuccinos.

Next stop was Saint Honore to try more of their doughnuts.

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Saint Honore is also the location of Pizza Anonymous (which we didn’t try).

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Chocolate frosted (good but rich) and some Nutella-filled deliciousness.

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SO GOOD.

The next stop was a Vegas first for us … and something B has been wanting to do for ages.

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Yep, bowling.

We drove all of our bowling stuff out and bowled two games. The alley, inside Red Rock Casino, is huge and it was a nice way to spend a few hours … especially because it was in air conditioning.

After bowling, it was back to the hotel and then out for our second delicious lobster roll of the trip (regrets, I have none).

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I’d been craving lobster rolls and had two on this trip. I’m so glad B was up for this too.

Mostly just some gambling and hanging out after that before venturing out for a bit more food. We also actually watched the fountain show outside for the first time in forever. We get a little spoiled with the fountain view room …

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Walking over to dinner. Looked back and saw this.

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Paris.

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What happens when you take a pano in the middle of the fountain show.

Food eaten: Blueberry Hill, Cafe Lola, Saint Honore, Lobster Me, PBR Rock Bar.

Wednesday, August 19
I got out for another quick run before we packed up and left. B tried to join, but his foot was killing him, so he turned back.

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As I joked on Instagram, I ran from Bellagio to Venice and back.

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Mirage (that just reopened).

I got back from the run, showered, and we packed up and headed out (after a tiny last little bit of gambling). We headed over to the Peppermill for breakfast since they thankfully had no wait and it was on our way out of town.

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I love this place.

From there, it was pretty much the standard drive back. Although we in theory could have made it in one day (one very looooooooong day), we decided to make it as far as Grand Junction for the night. This was in part because I had a moon circle that night that I needed 90 minutes and some WiFi for. Junction was super smoky (with a lot of ash in the air). We checked into our hotel, got some pizza, and then B had a cigar outside while I did my moon thing.

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And we found a dino sculpture outside. Because of course.

Food eaten: Peppermill, Starbucks, gas station coffee, Denny’s, gas station snacks, Pablo’s Pizza.

Thursday, August 20
Just a simple drive back home. We had a few options back home – either 82 through Aspen (closed on our way out of town) or 285 and we chose 285. I hadn’t done that drive in forever and it was actually quite nice to do. We also were able to get home mid-afternoon which was nice, too.

Food eaten: hotel food, Starbucks, The Cow (in Morrison), … I forget what we did for dinner. Scrounged, maybe?

*****

All in all, it was a good trip. Better birthday trip for B than mine was for me. Less expectation helps.

How was Vegas post-COVID? A little weird. Masks everywhere, obviously. Temperature checks as we checked in (but not always while entering the casinos. However, we did have them checked at Red Rocks Casino and when we went into the Wynn). Seating was definitely socially distanced. Menus are almost all via QR codes (… or by googling it on your phone). Spa wasn’t open (much to B’s chagrin). Plexiglas barriers at a lot of the gaming tables (or designated spots for gamblers, depending on the casino) and some blocked off slot machines. We didn’t hit up the pool on this trip partially because unless you’re in the water, you have to wear your mask … and sitting around in 110 degree heat in a mask just sounded uncomfortable to both of us. (well, that, and we’re not huge lounge by the pool people.)

Did I feel unsafe at all? Nope. In a lot of ways, it still was the same old crowded Vegas. You were still walking through crowds in the casinos. Most people were fine with sharing elevators (although part of the reason that probably didn’t seem as bad was because there just weren’t as many people there in general). Things definitely shut down earlier (no nightclubs/shows/events), but you still saw people early mornings who definitely had been up all night. The more things change, the more things do end up staying the same, after all.