On 2019 and 2020

I wrote quite a bit about 2019 in here already.

It contained a few concerts. I met Shinedown again.

It had some travel. A bit less than last year, but still some wonderful places – Las Vegas, Tucson, Madison, Bozeman, Yellowstone, Coeur d’Alene, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Mexico (near Tulum), and Amsterdam.

I don’t think I gained weight (for once), but I’m not sure I actually lost much, either. Maybe a few pounds. Maybe that’s not bad for being well on the wrong side of thirty.

I didn’t do the two super creative things I wanted to – finish that purse I’ve been working on and do a larger painting – but I did actually completely swap out my paints (… they were a little old and a little gross) and did a small piece. That I obviously forgot to share here. I did write a bit more (as evidenced by quite a few more drabbles posted here).

I didn’t really have a main goal in 2019. I don’t know if I really want to have one in 2020, either.

I’d like to try to get my house in order (both literal and metaphorical). Deep clean everything, swap some stuff out, continue culling items. Also acquire a few more things, but have them be more purposeful.

I would love to keep writing, and maybe even a book. If I can ignore and fight my brain’s natural inclination to self-edit EVERYTHING. Maybe if I hand write it I’ll have more luck. Maybe.

I would love to keep sewing. Maybe make a few more pillows, maybe finish that purse (hey let’s not get crazy here), definitely keep up with my mending pile.

I would love to paint more, too. I forgot how much I do truly love it.

Really, I would love to just continue being me and finding out who “me” is these days.

Books Read 2019

I actually read more than last year. Is it still a decent amount of novellas and Pride and Prejudice fan fiction? Yep. Do I care? Nope.

I did read a bit of non-fiction, though, and hope to try to read a little more of that in the upcoming year. Mostly because I have a crapton of it on my to-read list.

Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton
… if there’s a romance novel involving hockey players, I will find it. I *think* this one had to deal with a fashion designer and an old flame who became a professional hockey player, but I don’t quite remember. Clearly I need to reread it.

Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton
Set at an Olympics between a figure skater (mostly her story) and, surprise surprise, a hockey player. Marginally same universe as the prior book as the hockey player in that one is also in this one. Did enjoy. As I do.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
I’ve had this one on my to-read list FOREVER and I finally did. I vaguely remember trying to read this a few years ago and failing, but I read it this year. Really enjoyed this one. Great book from the perspective of someone who has worked in the hotel/hospitality industry for years. If you like to travel … read this. Or maybe not – you might see some things about yourself you don’t like. Pro tip: tip the hotel staff.

i can barely take care of myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman
Another one that’s been on the to-read list. Since I don’t want kids, I was intrigued to read about her perspective on it. Definitely more of a comedic book.

Too Gentlemanly by Timothy Underwood
Like most things … started to read on FF.net, found it was published … bought it. I actually don’t really remember this one. Clearly I need to reread it.

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen by Kate Fagan
I remember reading Fagan’s initial article on this story (… originally published on espnW, iirc). I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to read the book, but I’m glad I did. Great perspective on females in sport and the pressures they face.

Impulse and Initiative by Abigail Reynolds
Oh look, more P&P fic. Reynolds is a fairly respected published author of the stuff, and I actually found this in paperback at a used bookstore (Bookman’s, in Tucson. GO VISIT THEM). Regency style.

Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds
Modern take on P&P where Elizabeth Bennet is an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Institute on Cape Cod.

The Missing Prince by Timothy Underwood
Magical take on P&P, but definitely not cheesy. Includes an unexpected villain, which I liked.

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Bride by Elizabeth Goodrich
Quick, fun read.

Mr. Darcy’s Hidden Desire by V.L. King
… while my weakness for P&P fanfic is well known, the fact that it also includes P&P erotica is less so. This is along those lines.

Mr. Darcy is Diverted by Demi Monde
More erotic P&P fanfic. Ahem.

The Hidden Power of F*cking Upby The Try Guys
I remember the Try Guys from their Buzzfeed YouTube videos so when B had this on his to-read list … I kind of stole it first. And liked it way more than he did. Basically, each guy tries something way out of his comfort zone and explains the lessons learned and how you can adapt it for your own life. I can understand why B didn’t like it, but I enjoyed it.

My Alpha, Mr. Darcy by Caitlin Marie Carrington
Erotic P&P fanfic with a touch of fantasy involved.

Mrs. Darcy’s Masque Seduction by V.L. King
More erotic P&P fanfic.

Much Ado About Darcy by Jane Grix
Oh hey, first new Jane Grix title of the year. I believe this is also reminiscent of some Shakespeare, but as I haven’t yet read Much Ado About Nothing … I can’t be sure.

Relentless Pursuit by Kathleen Brooks
Next book in the Bluegrass Brothers series. I think I have one or two more. Clearly I keep forgetting to download them.

A Dishonorable Offer by Timothy Underwood
Sheesh, three by Underwood this year?

In Deep by Claudia Hall Christian
FINALLY the next novel in the Alex the Fey series. Much awaited. Loved as always. I’m a big fan of Christian; the Alex the Fey series runs parallel to the Denver Cereal (which is also amazing – GO READ IT. GO READ THEM BOTH). And, if you live in Denver/Colorado (like I do), you’ll recognize a ton. It’s great.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
You know I love me some T. Kingfisher. This is T. Kingfisher horror. I read the ebook and then ended up also buying a paperback copy because that’s how you support your favorite authors, friends. I’m not all that much into horror anymore these days, but I had to read this given that it was Kingfisher. Super creepy. Super awesome.

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher
In searching for The Twisted Ones, I came across this which I apparently missed that she published …? Cute little novella.

Miss Bennet and the Beast by April Floyd
I’ve read quite a bit of Floyd’s work before and I’ve liked other P&P stories that loosely parallel the Beauty and the Beast story. Not the best; not the worst.

A Girl’s Guide to Finding Her Happy Pace by Ashley Wiles
I’ve known of Wiles through her work with Live Feisty (and their Kona coverage). When I heard she was doing an IndieGoGo for a graphic novel, I decided to donate for it. It has a few errors, but overall, it’s a good story. I would recommend this for younger girls – probably 10-18. I might lend it to my sister-in-law who does counselling.

Darcy and Diamonds by Caitlin Marie Carrington
… you know, I only read this a month or two ago and I don’t entirely remember it. Clearly I need to reread it.

Properly Humbled by April Floyd
Purchased in a downloading spree before Mexico. P&P fanfiction.

Darcy and the Wicked Waltz by Jane Grix
Oh, amnesiac Darcy stories. They’re amusing.

Darcy’s Secret Garden by Jane Grix
Definitely a different P&P AU, but enjoyable.

Evenings with Darcy by Jane Grix
Part of that same downloading spree.

Darcy’s Mistletoe Kiss by Jane Grix.
Like pretty much all of Grix’s work, a quick, enjoyable read.

Fourth Quarter Style: 2019

… is it because it was post-IM that I had more outfits? Or because I went to a lot of weddings? Or both?

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Worn to the Denver Selfie Museum (think Happy Place from this post)(also I should probably blog about *that*, too).

Pullover: Skirt Sports
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Boots: JustFab Online

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Same outfit, but also in winter version. Worn to B’s cousin’s wedding in Chicago (as seen here).

Hat: Skirt Sports
Coat: DKNY
Dress: Eliza J
Tights: no idea
Shoes: JustFab Online
Clutch: Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl’s)
Earrings: Kendra Scott
Watch: Garmin
Bracelet: Express

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Greatest dress ever, worn to Jesus Christ Superstar at the DCPA.

Earrings: Sugarfix for BaubleBar (Target)
Necklace: Kate Spade
Bracelet: Forever 21? I think?
Dress: A.B.S. Allen Schwartz Collection
Shoes: JustFab Online

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At my cousin’s wedding in Mexico.

Sunglasses: Quay Australia
Earrings: Sugarfix for BaubleBar (Target)
Necklace: don’t remember
Bracelets: MantraBand, IRONMAN
Dress: Smashfest Queen
Sandals: Vionic

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Worn to Blossoms of Light and Rodizio for New Year’s Eve date night (tried to get better lighting; failed).

Earrings: Sugarfix for BaubleBar (Target)
Necklace: Kate Spade
Bracelets: MantraBand, Forever 21 (?)
Dress: Vince Camuto
Tights: A New Day (Target)
Booties: JustFab Online

Christmas in Amsterdam

So I actually did a trip before this one – went to Mexico mid-month to see my cousin get married – but I guess I didn’t feel like blogging about it. Maybe I will later. We’ll see.

The pilot husband had a 51 hour layover in Amsterdam on Christmas so ever since we’ve known, we’ve tossed around the idea of me going with. I went back and forth on it. I was pretty exhausted coming home from Mexico and the flights – especially coming home – looked iffy. The original thought was to fly with him to Portland, then to Amsterdam, then to New York City (27 hour layover there post-AMS), and then home. However, all the flights back to DEN out of NYC (both JFK and LGA) looked terrible. So then we thought, what if I left AMS on my own and then found my way back? That looked better. Flights looked decent both to MSP and DTW and, more importantly, back home. We decided on MSP.

Still, it took until the morning we were going to leave from DEN to go to PDX via LAX that we made the decision. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever packed for a trip.

Sunday, December 22

The one thing we did to make this work was NOT take the first flight out of DEN on Monday morning. Which yeah, technically breaks all of our non-rev rules, but meh. Our flight to LAX was a bit delayed leaving DEN, but we were able to make it on okay.

That’s where the first bit of trouble started.

Due to … something in LA, we got slowed up a lot going in. B was freaking out as he had a deadhead to PDX to catch. A flight that in theory we should have been able to make just fine, but combined with the delay and the slow plane? Yeah, it took off about five minutes after we landed. Thankfully, he got himself sorted out to make the next PDX flight and I got rolled over. We took the extra time in LAX to go walk out to find B’s car (make sure it still worked) and then walked to the In-N-Out close to the airport for some food.

We made the PDX flight okay, got in late … crashed out.

Monday, December 23

We had a few hours before we needed to get to the airport, so we had breakfast, got in a workout, got coffee (and a doughnut at some shop he likes (not VooDoo)). Got to PDX and I was thankfully able to get DeltaOne to AMS (ohhh podlife).

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But not before I went up to the flight deck to say hi to (read: annoy) the husband.

Flight was mostly uneventful – read some, started to get caught up on Star Wars (watched ep VII), slept not as much as I should have.

And, as I do, I took pictures of the food.

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Starters: “Harissa Shrimp with apple, celery and arugula slaw” (not terrible), “Baby Gem Lettuce with croutons, shaved manchego cheese, smoked roasted tomatoes and Caesar dressing” (not bad), and “Porcini Mushroom Soup” (tasty).

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We had quite a few options for dinner – a braised beef short rib, soy glazed Chilean sea bass, and ricotta ravioli … and what I chose: “Roasted Herb Chicken Breast with red wine reduction, cheesy truffle polenta, garlic broccolini and blistered tomatoes” (actually pretty good).

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I didn’t do the pear and caramel mousse tart or the fruit and cheese, but I obviously just had to do the sundae. It’s the best part of podlife (imho)! I did learn on this trip that you don’t want the bowl to be full of ice cream because if it is (like on my way back as you’ll see a bit later), the ice cream to sauce ratio gets screwed up for the worse.

I also tried both the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon on the plane. I think the cab was a bit better. I also learned that yes, the travel bloggers are correct in that hooch doesn’t help you sleep on planes … so I did not drink on the way back.

Tuesday, December 24

(Starting the next day here due to time zone wonkiness)

The arrival breakfast has gotten a bit better, but still not great.

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You could also get a granola and yogurt whatever, but I’m so picky with yogurt. So, what I got: “French Onion Quiche with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon” (… meh). Definitely better than the frittata going to Italy. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Got off the plane (without forgetting anything!) and followed the other non-revs (relatives of the flight attendants) through the airport and customs to where the bus to the hotel was.

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And I got this photo.

Took the van to the hotel, got checked in (eventually … after like 2934723047 other crews), and passed out for a few hours. We woke up and then got on the hotel-provided cruiser bikes to venture out a bit. B took me to Winkel 43 for their apple pie which is apparently super famous.

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View from outside.

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Ham and cheese toasty just for a bit of protein.

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Pie and coffee. It was super delicious.

We took the cruiser bikes back to the hotel and then got a few things done before heading back out to dinner at a place nearby, the Number One Cafe (Eetcafe?).

B had some schnitzel, while I had a mixed grill of chicken.

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Salad.

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Dinner. It wasn’t bad. As B (and a few of the flight attendants agreed upon) said, the food in Amsterdam is good; it’s not great. I would have to concur with that given my limited experience.

Wednesday, December 25

Christmas is weird on the road away from home. Kind of like another day but also not. We woke up, grabbed breakfast from downstairs, and then went for a run to explore.

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Canals.

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B’s usual cafe, closed that day.

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Just up the street apparently was part of the Red Light District.

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Square.

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Us.

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Random arcade (taken with our new GoPro!).

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Aaaaalll the bikes.

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Rainbow (and it might be a double?).

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This was on the walk back to the hotel.

After the run, we did a few things and then headed back out on cruiser bikes to explore the city some more. Our goal was to find the one last remaining Christmas market (that had an ice rink near it) and check it out. Unfortunately … it was pretty terrible. I did manage to eat more poffertjes though … for the second year in a row at a Christmas market.

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So tasty.

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Selfie on the ferry that we had to take back and forth across the river (large canal?) from our side of Amsterdam to where the main downtown was.

We ate some lunch and relaxed a bit more before heading back out for the last time, but this time on feet.

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Of course we brought the dinosaurs.

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Holiday lights. On this same street, we bought an ornament and also visited the Venus Sex Museum. Because why not.

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Canals at night.

Since we didn’t see anything that caught our eye for dinner while wandering around, we just ended up eating at the hotel restaurant. I had schnitzel (which was good) and B had the daily special which was some beef something. Oh and we had more pie because Christmas.

Thursday, December 26

I had trouble sleeping this entire trip, and that meant I was up at 3:45a AMS time and couldn’t go back to sleep. Which meant I was completely fine for making my 7:25 bus back to the airport. B couldn’t go, but he bartered me a ride on the bus for me talking about IRONMAN to one of the captains. Sure I will take that trade. (And I would have gotten on anyway; the trade was just funny.)

Got to the airport plenty early and in time to clear customs, security, get my non-rev status changed, and get some food. And also a doughnut in what I believe is my 8th country.

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From the airport Starbucks. Not the best, but definitely not the worst foreign doughnut I’ve had.

Waiting for a seat internationally is a bit weird, but I was (thankfully) able to get a seat (and a pod!).

I was a lot smarter with my time management on this flight. I read, but not a whole bunch early. I got my movie started well before my meal (Star Wars episode VIII), and then I was able to sort of nap for about two hours. It was interrupted sleep as I kept waking up due to overheating, but hey. For someone who doesn’t really sleep on airplanes, I’ll take it.

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The starters: “Crusted Beef Filet with smoked pepper aioli and pickled cauliflower” (only ate the beef; totally mediocre), “Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Salad with Romaine lettuce, toasted pumpkin seeds served with dill honey mustard dressing” (… not that great. picked at it), and “Thai Coconut Soup” which I did not try.

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Again, quite a few options, with a grilled beef tenderloin, roasted salmon, and a fresh mozzarella and spinach panciotti, but I chose the “Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Thigh served over tagliatelle pasta with onions, bacon, mushrooms, chanterelles and garlic in a honey balsamic jus” (which was quite good).

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Chose not to try the chocolate truffon after seeing it (and poo on the cheese course), but obviously more ice cream. But see how much it fills the bowl here? Keeps the topping ratio off.

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I woke up just before the arrival meal. We had two options, a smoked paprika chicken over salad or what I got, a “Wagyu Pastrami Sandwich with Emmenthal cheese, caramelized onion, arugula and truffle mayonnaise” (too greasy and hard to eat … even with a knife and fork. other than that not bad).

I landed in MSP, cleared customs and security … and then proceeded to watch people get bought off the flight I was hoping to take. I waited until B landed back in NYC before figuring out my next step, as all the subsequent MSP-DEN flights looked terrible. We tossed around the idea of trying another flight … but rolled the dice and rented a car. So, I got in a car by 4:30p MSP time … drove to Lincoln, Neb., where I got about 4.5 hours of sleep … and then rolled into DIA around 10:30a on the 27th. And found out that if I had waited for the 8:30p flight … I would have somehow magically made it home. Live and learn, I guess.

loneliness … or thanks, USCHO

usually fine
by myself
mostly alone
with a few friends seen sporadically
(definitely not often enough if I’m being honest)
until …
a blast from the past
a walk down memory lane
even if not all good
still a painful gut-check reminder
that you used to feel tighter in to a community
while you don’t want to return
(particularly to that one)
(oh please god no)
you admit that
(more than a small teeny tiny)
part of you misses it and that
upon further reflection
the replacement communities haven’t
(painfully hard to admit)
even
come
close.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
loneliness … or thanks, USCHO, 11.28.19

Chicago Weekend 2019

As a side note … I’ve been slacking on the blogging. We did Pumpkin Nights and I thought about blogging about it … but then didn’t. And we did a teeny tiny trip to Tucson where we *gasp* actually ate at some different places … but I really didn’t take photos so there’s that. But we DID also do a nice long weekend trip to Chicago for a wedding, so here I am. Again. Finally.

Thursday, October 31:

Our original trip plan was November 1-4, but then B realized he booked us our yearly physicals on the 4th, so the trip got shifted up a day. Therefore, we left on the 31st. DEN-SLC-ORD … and we almost got super delayed in SLC thanks to weather in Chicago. The storm we had moved eastward and, well, sorry.

We got in mid afternoon, so we hopped the train from ORD to downtown and then considered walking to the hotel … but since it was snowy and slushy and we had an extra bag (garment bag for B’s suit), we hailed a cab instead. Totally worth the $6. We got checked in to the Marriott Magnificent Mile, got in a super quick workout, and then did an early dinner at Gino’s East since B really wanted some deep dish.

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Deep dish really isn’t my thing, but we split a pizza with two different halves – B did the Meaty Legend and I did the Spinach Margherita. A bit too spinach-y for my tastes, but it did the trick.

Friday, November 1

We woke up fairly early, got in breakfast at the hotel, and then went for a run. Our goal: the Bean (yes yes I know it’s called Cloud Gate officially but I also know the creator is an asshole, so BEAN.).

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Just past sunrise. No one there!

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Look up.

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And yes, that’s snow on it.

We continued down to Buckingham Fountain
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and then ran the river walk a bit before getting coffee and heading back to the hotel.

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We did some admin stuff at the hotel, I got my lift in, we showered, and then we headed out for the day. First stop was to B’s cousin Peter’s place to say hi. Peter also gave us his Art Institute member’s card so we could head there the next day. Post-Peter, a quick snack at Jimmy John’s (… ugh, but their new tiny Little John’s sandwiches are the perfect snack size), and then off to our main goal for the day – the Field Museum and SUE the T. rex.

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SUE, the Rockies (baseball team), and Blair Braverman: the three reasons Twitter is not a complete hellscape. Seriously, SUE is hilarious. And they retweeted the selfie I shared of myself, SUE, and the kidlets.

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My dinosaurs with the majestic murderbird.

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Took a quiz about SUE/T. rexes – is it any surprise that I aced it?

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The end of the exhibit.

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Maximo the Titanosaur who took SUE’s place in the great hall.

From SUE and the Field, it was on to the Shedd Aquarium which is basically next door.

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I remember loving the Shedd when I was a kid (… I was also fairly obsessed with sea creatures …) and our first reaction was kind of underwhelming. Okay, to be completely honest, our first reaction was disappointment in learning that their stingray touch is only seasonal and we missed it by a DAY. No flap-flaps for us. Booooo.

We started at the bottom level and worked our way up … and it definitely got better as we moved up to the main floor. I took a decent amount of pictures but didn’t really save many except for the awesomeness that is the mantis shrimp.

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Hey buddy! Thanks for not completely hiding underneath the rocks like your relative was doing in Denver last time I saw it.

We also did grab a snack while we were there at one of the cafes – mediocre breakfast sandwich thing that B grabbed. My apple danish was AWESOME … and the weird licensed Starbucks in there really needs to learn that Pumpkin Spice Lattes (my first of the season) come with whipped cream, dangit.

After the Shedd, we walked back to Peter’s where B’s parents finally made it into town (they were staying with Peter and his husband while we chose to stay in a hotel). Then we all convened at a Latin American fusion restaurant, Carnivale, for dinner.

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Inside. I can totally believe that this place used to be a nightclub.

I had salmon over some quinoa mixture and it was really pretty good.

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Emilio took the picture so he wasn’t in it, but from L to R: B, me, father-in-law, mother-in-law, Peter.

Saturday, November 2:

Day two started off with a workout in the hotel gym (seriously, it was one of the nicest hotel gyms I’ve ever seen), then breakfast, and then out and about again.

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(played the “we’ll happily take your picture if you can return the favor for us” game to get this one. it was a candid shot the guy took but it ended up being my favorite of the bunch.)

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River.

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Yes, we went back; I wanted to see how busy it was.

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10:30a on a Saturday looks a lot different than 7:30a on a Friday did …

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Cool little installation also in Cloud Gate Plaza.

Our main stop that morning was the Art Institute of Chicago, as it contains B’s two favorite paintings. As we were meeting the family again for lunch, we unfortunately didn’t have time to explore the whole museum. I guess that means we’ll just have to go back …

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Grant Wood, “American Gothic.”

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Favorite painting number one.

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“Nightlife.” I forget the artist. But I love the piece.

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Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” Favorite painting number two.

There was an Andy Warhol exhibit going on, so we checked that out as well.

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One of his famous Campbell’s Soup can pieces was in the exhibit, but photos of it weren’t allowed. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Warhol, but I definitely appreciate him more after seeing this exhibit.

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Lion outside.

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Now I’ve officially been at the beginning point and the ending point of Route 66 … as well as seen some other random parts of it.

Lunch was at Vapiano’s, which is kind of like Eataly if you’ve ever been there. It’s kind of like a made to order cafeteria/food market. Hard to describe, but it was really tasty.

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Split that caprese salad with B and I got some pasta with cream sauce and mushrooms and I added shrimp to it. It was delicious.

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Leaving lunch. Had to snag a picture of the elevated tracks. Peter played mini tour guide for a few quick buildings post-lunch with all of us.

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The floor inside what was the old Chicago Athletic Club.

We split back up from the family – my mother-in-law’s knee was hurting her and B and I wanted to do a little bit of shopping/wandering on the Magnificent Mile. B stopped in a Garrett’s for some popcorn while I wandered into the doughnut shop next door.

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The chocolate was meh; the glazed twist was pretty good.

We only did some window shopping – the Nordstrom in Chicago is glorious compared to the ones we have back home – but I will admit, I almost spent a decent chunk of change in Roots. The main thing stopping me was luggage space. I consoled myself by reminding me that we’re planning a trip to Calgary in the spring.

We got back to the hotel to start getting loosely packed up and to get ready for the actual reason we came to Chicago – B’s cousin’s wedding. I was excited since I haven’t met a lot of people on B’s dad’s side (Peter, for example, is on his mom’s side).

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All dressed up!

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This is the cake topper? These are my people.

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The ceiling in the cocktail hour/ceremony space. Everything took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I regret not taking the time to wander around, but: heels.

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To that last point re: heels … the shoes were fine if I was sitting or moving. Long periods of standing and the feet killed. Knew I should have found a spot to sit during the ceremony …

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Us.

We didn’t stay very long at the wedding – cut out about 90 minutes early (at least) as we had to catch an early flight back to DEN. The time change helped, but still. 3:30a wake up calls suck regardless.

Sunday, November 4:

As everything had melted, we walked to the train station that morning … and were rewarded with a nice night view of the river.

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Got to the airport with plenty of time … and even enough time to stop in the Sky Club for a tiny bit of breakfast (sweet, sweet breakfast). We chose to go through MSP on the way back and that layover is where coffee was consumed. SLC was our original plan, but flights through MSP looked shockingly good (usually they’re AWFUL to DEN) and that flight got us home a few hours earlier. Totally worth the earlier alarm.

I hadn’t been to Chicago in years – hadn’t really visited it since the mid-90s and hadn’t done anything at all there since 2005 (just a Cubs/(ironically) Rockies game with the ex driving back home from college) – so I was excited for this trip. I’m happy to say that it lived up to my expectations and I can’t wait until I go back again.

Vegas/LA Fall 2019

I didn’t write about our last trip to Vegas (back in late July/early August) because it was a super short trip just to sell B’s crash pad car. However, he bought a new crash pad car and we needed to drive it out to LA. So … we did that.

Sunday, September 29:

At the last home game of the Colorado Rockies season, the players come around and hand out stuff to the fans and it’s all fun and great. When we booked our 15 game package, we made sure to do this game as we enjoyed the experience last year. As our Vegas stay was booked starting the 30th and it’s a 12-13 hour drive … we figured we’d just leave after the game and make it as far as we could.

Wellllllll the Rockies decided to go into extras and it finally got to a point where we had to leave. So we did, sometime in the 11th. We listened to the rest of the game during the first part of the drive, happily learning they won in the 13th.

In any case, the delay meant no Utah, but almost – just a few miles from the border in Fruita.

(obviously we could have made the state of Utah, but the best option for hotels once you cross the border is like 100 miles in and that would have put is in super late.)

Food Eaten: (on the trip) Dinner: nachos and beer at El Tapatio.

Monday, September 30:

Woke up fairly early in order to get on the road as soon as we could. As caffeine is needed in our family, a stop at the Starbucks in Fruita was a must. And as Fruita has had some dinosaurs found there … it might be my new favorite Sbux.

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Looooooook at all the dinosaurs!!!

From there, a steady drive to Las Vegas. We drove straight to the Bellagio (do we stay anywhere else? not really) where we proceeded to have issues post-check-in for the second time in a row. A few months ago: get to our room and the keys don’t work (electronic lock thingy had dead batteries). This trip: our room that we thought had been ready … wasn’t. Got transferred to a new room, but still, annoying.

We got settled and headed to the fitness room to get a quick workout in (treadmill run and lift). Back upstairs to shower and then out for an early dinner. B had been really craving pizza, so we went to Giordano’s across the street at Bally’s. B had a mini personal deep dish and I had a chicken broccoli fettuccine alfredo.

Gambling might have happened too, but I’m not 100% sure.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel, Starbucks, random gas station snacks (I got a second cup of coffee and gas station coffee goes down better with a snack). Lunch: … I think maybe a bite at Taco Bell? and then just random snacks. Dinner: Giordano’s. Dessert: gelato from Cafe Gelato.

Tuesday, October 1:

We woke up and went for breakfast and coffee, stopping in a quiet conservatory along the way.

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So much nicer when it’s not packed with people.

On the way back from coffee, I bought a necklace from the art vending machine inside the Cosmo, but I forgot to keep the picture I took for this blog. Oops. We then went back to the fitness room to bust out a workout before our main event for the day.

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This doesn’t have much to do with anything … except the fact that the amount of dinosaurs we travel with now has doubled over the years. Oops …?

Anyway, the main thing we had booked was the Happy Place, which had a pop-up in the Shoppes at Mandalay Place. I had first heard of Happy Place when it had a pop-up in Boston and I had friends who went and it looked totally cool. Completely designed for the instagrams? Yep, but whatever. When I learned it was coming to Vegas and that our drive out coincided … I talked B into going. #worthit.

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First room.

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(yes I totally also took a picture of me not smiling in front of this wall)

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You could also lay down and make confetti angels. Which I did for the boomerang for the instas.

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Sadly, the free cookies weren’t very good.

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Super bloom room!

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Wish I had done my instagram research to make the shots from this room more believable.

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My husband totally looks like a serial killer here.

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There is a picture of me on the lips couch behind the o in the previous photo, but I figured this super awkward photo of B was way more amusing to share.

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Sure, Cornelius. Absolutely.

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Very, very true.

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Always look up.

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Quite possibly one of my most favorite husband photos ever.

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Yes there were people in each room to take pictures of you if you needed it. I’m serious when I say this place was basically designed for social media.

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This ball pit was B’s favorite part of this whole thing. Because dude. Ball pit.

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Confetti in my eyeballs … but still fun.

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Yes, yes we did, Happy Place.

In case you’re wondering … YES I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY RECOMMEND THIS PLACE. Pop-ups live now in Vegas and in Philly. GO. If it ever comes to Denver I’m going again. SUPER fun. And I probably should have given it it’s own blog post. Meh.

Afterward … we did a tiny bit of gambling at Excalibur (cheaper craps tables for the husband) before stopping at Eataly in Park MGM for food.

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B had a panini. I went simple with steak and potatoes. Next up was Margaritaville for a quick drink.

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Saw this across the street. We were there on the second anniversary of the shootings.

We went back to the Bellagio for a little bit to chill out and gamble some and also gather our energy for dinner.

Dinner was at Black Tap inside the Venetian. We heard about it watching “The Flay List” on Food Network – Black Tap was the place Bobby Flay’s daughter Sophie liked for burgers. It looked fun, we found out there was a location in Las Vegas … we decided to go.

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We didn’t get one of the fancy burgers – just the All-American – but it was delicious. My only complaint: bun needed a tiny bit of toasting. And the fries (regular and sweet potato) were mediocre.

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They have CRAZY milkshakes. We went fairly subdued with the Brooklyn Blackout. Only thing that was a disappointment on it were the brownies – super dry and almost seemed hollow when you bit into them. Shake itself was delicious, if not extremely rich.

Didn’t gamble as much back at the hotel as the MLife system went down, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Sadelle’s, Starbucks. Lunch: Eataly (separate drinks at Margaritaville). Dinner: Black Tap LV.

Wednesday, October 2:

We had no rush to leave Las Vegas, but kind of decided to head out of the hotel fairly early anyway. We grabbed a small bite at the hotel before heading to a place we tried last visit, Saint Honore, a sister concept of our favorite coffee shop, Cafe Lola. We tried a regular doughnut last time, but I really wanted to try the beignets this time around.

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Pretty dang good.

A hop across the street to Target to pay my bill and then up the road a block or two to Cafe Lola. Because of course.

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All decorated for the holidays. Also: spot the dinosaur.

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Our coffees and my favorite, the pasteis de nada.

After B got a bit of work done, it was off to LA. We were tossing around the idea of Palm Springs or somewhere else in California … but ultimately decided to just explore LA some more. Ended up being a fairly low key evening with a run and some food.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Cafe Gelato, Saint Honore, Cafe Lola. Lunch: random drive snacks. Dinner: our standard Whole Foods in Manhattan Beach. Also a later evening snack at Taco Bell (and a gas station Haagen Dazs bar).

Thursday, October 3:

We decided to do one of our favorite little places for breakfast in Hermosa Beach in Martha’s 22nd Street Grill.

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Mostly because of this view. Ah, ocean.

After breakfast, off to the LA Farmer’s Market. B got some coffee and then it was time to wander around. We really didn’t buy anything, but it was pretty cool. Bonus is that it was right next to the Grove (fancy shopping center) which had a Sprinkles in it. Sprinkles makes the best pumpkin cupcake I’ve ever had … and their cupcake store/ATM shut down in Vegas (booooo). As we’re in the season of all things pumpkin/pumpkin spice … I wanted the damn cupcake. So this location was a bit fortuitous.

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Tried a doughnut in the farmer’s market.

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So pretty.

From there, a few miles away so I could visit the actual store of Trashy Lingerie. It was different from what I was expecting, but I’m glad I went. Didn’t buy anything, though.

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Street art across the way.

We had a touch of car trouble after this (seriously never buy from the used car lots on West Colfax, people) so our afternoon plans kind of got thrown out the window. Thankfully we didn’t have many. I’m not going into details about all of what happened … but know that it sucked. Hard.

And also made us feel a lot better about dinner that night.

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Mmmm, In-N-Out.

I wanted to try to catch the sunset at the beach as I usually try to do, and we kind of made it.

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The peace of walking along the shoreline hearing the waves crash along the shore was exactly what we needed.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Martha’s 22nd Street Grill, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Bob’s Donuts. Lunch: Norm’s, Sprinkles cupcake, Whole Foods. Dinner: In-N-Out Burger.

Friday, October 4:

Early wake-up call to get to the airport as B had to leave on a trip and I had to get home.

Also, did you know that the Delta SkyClub has a toast bar so you could make your own avocado toast? Well, now you do.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Delta SkyClub. Lunch: Athenian Restaurant once I got home. Dinner: … random stuff around the house.