Vegas, Spring 2017

Because I go to Las Vegas so much, it’s almost easier to do these posts just by when I go.

As it usually goes with us, we were originally only planning one Las Vegas trip this year – in September, post-IM Santa Cruz 70.3 as we drive back home. However, we know we need to try to stay Pearl (MLife reward level) and since B needed to drive his car out to L.A. anyway … why don’t we just turn it into a mini Vegas trip?

We left town on Tuesday, May 23, and drove straight through to Las Vegas. We took a bit of a circuitous route as I needed to drop my car off at the airport so I could find a way home. As we were taking B’s car … I didn’t actually drive at all, which is a rarity for me on road trips, but I don’t particularly like driving his car, so that’s why. We stopped for lunch at Jimmy John’s in Utah and then, because we were too tired to care otherwise, dinner was at Scooter’s Pub in the parking lot of our hotel.

The next morning, we got up, ate hotel breakfast, and headed off to Red Rock Canyon to get in a trail run.

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Afterward, we grabbed some coffee, showered, packed up, and then headed to a nail salon for mani/pedis. We got word our hotel room was ready soon after, so we drove over to the MGM Grand and got checked in. We dumped off our bags and then headed across the street to America in New York New York for lunch.

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We both had a lunch special chicken sandwich. It was pretty good. The fries? Were not.

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They had a giant 3D map of the country inside. This is Colorado.

We headed back across the street to actually get settled in a bit in our dungeon room with Swiss cheese on the walls.

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See?

Word of advice: if you’re going to stay at the MGM, DO NOT STAY IN THE WEST WING. Ground floor, low ceilings … it was one of the worst hotel experiences we’ve had in Vegas. I put it only above the Pyramid at the Luxor, and that’s only because those diagonal elevators make me nauseous. Blah.

Later that afternoon, after gambling some at the MGM, we headed up to Fremont Street since we hadn’t checked out that part of the city in several years and B wanted to check out the Sigma Derby game at the D. He played the horsies for a little bit while I wasted some money in a slot machine. I also grabbed a lobster roll at the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck. I was going to get one while in town (either there or at Lobster Me in the Venetian) and since the truck was there, I took the opportunity. I think it ended up being cheaper, too, which is always nice.

Dinner was back at America since B really didn’t eat a solid breakfast that morning and he wanted breakfast food. I’d been having a really weird potato skin craving, so that’s what I had.

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They were okay. The sour cream drizzle was a bit odd.

We woke up fairly early the next morning in order to get to the pool as it opened, but also with enough time so we could eat breakfast first, too. We had some free buffets due to playing MyVegas slots on Facebook, so the MGM buffet was our stop. Not the best buffet, not the worst.

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Pool time.

After hanging out at the pool for about 90 minutes, we went back to the room to get dressed to wander around. We walked up the Strip as far as the Venetian, snagging some drinks at Margaritaville in the process.

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Sign in the Park Las Vegas (what the Monte Carlo is being rebranded to).

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New In-N-Out Burger on the Strip on the Linq Promenade. We did not go in.

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B doing his thing and riding the moving sidewalk.

While we didn’t stop at In-N-Out, we did stop at Wahlburgers in the Grand Bazaar Shops outside of Bally’s. I almost tried them when I was in Boston at the beginning of the month, but didn’t due to … reasons.

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It was pretty delicious, actually. Not comparable to In-N-Out or, say, a Five Guys, but good in its own way. We also tried the frappes (coffee and chocolate) and they were the best I’ve had since Boston.

(NOTE: a TRUE frappe is 100% TOTALLY DIFFERENT than a Frappuccino. Not even close. And so much more delicious.)

A little more gambling and chilling out back at the hotel before venturing back out for dessert (profiteroles!) and some mussels (slightly spur of the moment decision) and drinks at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris. Perfect way to end the trip.

Of course, the next day was an adventure and a half for me getting home … B dropped me off at McCarran before continuing on to Los Angeles. I was able to get out of Las Vegas just fine, but getting back to Denver? I’m just thankful we had some miles so that I could book myself a ticket home out of Salt Lake City. Needless to say, I got back to my car about five hours later than we had planned. Silly non-rev travel …

Retirement Trip

Also known as Boston and L.A. May 2017.

But wait, retirement, you might say?

Yep. Thanks to B getting a job with an ACTUAL airline (a mainline carrier as opposed to a regional), he let me quit my soul-sucking barista job so I could finally free myself from customer service hell. My CS shelf life? Waaaaay overdue.

Cinco de Mayo was officially my last day with the company and while it was bittersweet in some respects, I have no regrets about leaving. None.

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My farewell cake.

I was in theory supposed to do a race that weekend, but since I had taken a good chunk of the spring off due to mental health AND B had a Boston overnight … I decided to join him in Boston instead and then go back to L.A. with him to play for a day. Since I could now do such crazy things.

My original plan was to take a red-eye from DEN to JFK Friday night and then catch an early flight from JFK to BOS Saturday morning. Well, all of the latter flights filled up for whatever reason and then my red-eye got delayed … so I left the next day and connected through MSP. Whatever.

I landed in Boston, dumped off my bag at B’s hotel (he wasn’t getting in until much later that night), and immediately met up with one of my old college roommates, Courtney. We hung out for a while before parting ways. I headed down into the city and had quite possibly the worst lobster roll ever (somewhere in Quincy Market. I don’t even recall which stand).

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No lobster roll picture, but found this in City Hall Plaza.

I felt so gross afterward that I headed back to the hotel to sit and read for a little while. My stomach settled enough around 7ish that I felt comfortable heading back out for some dinner. Nostalgia directed me straight back to campus.

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Heh. My kind of graffiti.

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I can fully believe that Target can be the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Thai fried rice (and a glass of wine) at Brown Sugar Cafe was awesome on my nearly empty stomach (hadn’t eaten much all day). I felt enough belly space to hop across the street to T. Anthony’s for a slice – where my boy Paul STILL recognizes me, 12 years post-graduation – and then a few doors down to Angora for the best fro-yo on the planet.

That took up enough time for me to get back to the hotel and read a bit more before B’s flight got in. He got in and I got to finally get some WONDERFUL SLEEP.

(I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the few days previous.)

Sunday morning, we tried breakfast at some place on Boylston – I don’t recall the name – that had apparently just started a breakfast service. They need to improve on it, for it was highly mediocre. We were considering going for a run after that, but since it was gorgeous out – that weekend was the one sunny spot in Boston in like two weeks – we decided to just put on our shoes and walk around the city.

I took him down through Fenway to the Back Bay Fens, part of the Emerald Necklace. I’d talked about going down there back in school, but had never taken him there, so we did that. We then stopped at the BU Bookstore just because and obviously I walked out of there with some stuff! I found a pair of capris on clearance (workout capris for $30? Yes please!) and a wonderful comfy new Under Armour hoodie while B found a new pair of workout shorts. After that, we strolled downtown where I got to redeem my lobster roll disaster from the previous day at James Hook and Co.

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We were hoping to meet up with our friend Ann at some point, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. So, we went back to the hotel to shower and pack up. I decided to leave before B and get to the airport a bit earlier just in case.

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Hi husband doing his walkaround!

Unfortunately, the BOS-LAX flight he was flying was oversold, so guess who got to stay behind?

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Airport life. Featuring: new hoodie!

B offered to get me a hotel, but I just didn’t want to deal with it. I treated myself to a ridiculously expensive dinner at the Legal’s Test Kitchen in the airport (chowder, a glass of Pinot Noir, and one of my top-three lobster rolls) before attempting to settle in for the night.

Except apparently Logan doesn’t let you sleep in the concourses; no, it kicks you out pre-security. I went from a quiet, cozy, carpeted corner to a cold, noisy, tiled floor that was being cleaned for seriously two hours. Or so it felt like. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. I managed an hour before I got booted out, maybe another broken 90 minutes on the tile, and then about 75 minutes at what I thought was going to be my gate once I went back through security at 4:15am.

Luckily, I made the morning LAX flight just fine, watching “Moana” and “Hidden Figures” on the way, being crowded in my middle seat by two manspreaders stealing the armrests.

B had rented a car, so he picked me up at LAX and took me to see his crash pad there (also so I could change). I inadvertently passed out for about an hour while he booked us a hotel room for the night. I woke up, changed, we headed off to our hotel, and then went to the Strand and rented cruiser bikes.

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B biking the Strand.

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Wall of succulents.

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Toes in the sand.

We went back home the next morning. Although it included not a lot of sleep and had a lot of stress, it was a wonderful mini trip to celebrate my “retirement” from coffee slinging.

Dining in Tucson: Spring 2017 Edition

I’m pretty sure I’ve done a “Tucson dining post” but I may have just thrown in my food in past Tucson posts. Not sure.

Tuesday, April 4:

Leaving town, we snagged standard breakfast – Waffle House and Starbucks.

For lunch, though, we decided to try something a bit more … local … in New Mexico fast food chain Blake’s Lotaburger.

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We stopped here in Socorro, N.M., and weren’t that impressed. Slow (even for cooked-to-order), scatter-brained … and truthfully, really pretty mediocre.

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We will probably not be eating there again. Mostly because we don’t like eating much fast food, but yeah. No.

Dinner was our standard round-up of an eegee’s, fries from Wienerschnitzel, and fried shrimp for me and steak fingers for B from Tucson institution, Lucky Wishbone.

Wednesday, April 5:

We originally thought we’d get some sort of breakfast at the hotel, but apparently we weren’t fancy enough for it. So, quick google search later, and we found Oink right down the street from our hotel on Broadway.

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(I think he wanted to die.)

Oink was FABULOUS. Plus our server, Michelle, knew her shit. Great server in that she got us to buy more than we probably wanted. This place does flights of bacon (they have eight different flavors of bacon), and we were iffy about it, but finally did a half-flight, getting Applewood Smoked, Chef’s Choice, Honey Cured, and Sugar Cured. The latter two were the best by far.

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(Bacon flight, my food with a side of tomatoes, B’s omelet).

I love eggs Benedict but I rarely get it because really, it’s not good for you, and it’s super hard to find a good one. For some reason, I decided to try theirs (traditional), and it was DELICIOUS. B couldn’t decide what he wanted to do, so Michelle asked him if he trusted her and ordered for him. The amount of food that poor guy got …

He got the above omelet, the Oink Omelet (“A massive FIVE egg omelet, with bacon, sausage, ham and cheddar cheese.”), and a side of pancake. But not just your regular old buttermilk pancake. Oh no. Strawberry Cheesecake pancakes.

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“Our delicious pancakes drizzled with homemade strawberry sauce and cheesecake sauce.” They were way too sugary for me.

After that INSANE(ly delicious) breakfast, we did a later, light lunch at Choice Greens on Speedway.

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Choice is basically your standard choose-your-own chopped salad type of place (nothing all that special), but for us? It was just what we needed.

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B’s salad.

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My salad.

Dinner was at Casa Molina Del Norte on Campbell, pretty much only for the cheese crisp.

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Mmmm, cheesy.

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And the green corn tamales, my favorite. I also had a bean burrito while B got a chicken burrito. Delish.

Thursday, April 6:

Breakfast was purposefully early on Thursday so we could hit up the early bird special at Franks, on Pima just off of Alvernon.

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Franks is awesome because of ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy,’ the “If you are here before 9am, Monday-Friday Special” (holidays excluded). For $1.75, you get two eggs, home fries or hash browns, and a biscuit, slice of toast, or tortilla. We each got the special and then added on drinks and a side of bacon, because bacon.

Lunch was the all-you-can-eat sushi at Sushi Garden on Broadway. I had greatly enjoyed it when I was doing Tucson solo back in November, so decided to bring B there. As is fairly standard with all-you-can-eat sushi (with all-you-can-eat lunch buffet added) … we pretty much rolled out of there.

As a result … dinner … wasn’t much of a thing. We did stumble on a brand new gem on the U of A campus (Campbell and Speedway) in Desert Dream Ice Cream.

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In that day’s edition of “it’s a small world,” the owners used to (well, still technically; in the process of selling) own an ice cream shop in the small town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. My family and I vacationed there way the heck back in the day and, when shown the picture of the ice cream shop, I’m pretty sure I ate there, too. Because our family always ate ice cream on (summer) vacations.

They’d apparently just been open for a few weeks and are still trying to grow the business. For their sake, I hope they do well, because that Mud Pie ice cream I got? On point. I’ve mentioned here several times how we prefer more “traditional” ice cream places, and this place hit that. So good.

Since the ice cream kind of settled our stomachs from the sushi disaster, we also grabbed a quick snack at Wienerschnitzel just for some protein. Mmm, corn dogs.

Friday, April 7:

While we weren’t able to manage climbing Mt. Lemmon on this trip, we hit the Lemmon climber’s coffee shop for breakfast in Le Buzz Caffe off Tanque Verde.

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Brandon got a bit more of your standard breakfast in the Two by Two by Two (two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon).

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I got orange juice (because most places in Tucson have fresh-squeezed and it is SO good) as well as the ham and cheddar quiche. The coffee was great – I’ll mention that first off – and so was the OJ, but the food? B thought his was mediocre and I felt there were too many herbs in my quiche. We’re not sure we’d come back for an actual meal. For some caffeine and a sugary snack (they had some divine looking pastries)? Absolutely.

We couldn’t be in In-N-Out territory without stopping at least once, so that was lunch.

Dinner that night was at Pinnacle Peak, part of Trail Dust Town off Tanque Verde and Kolb.

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We sort of felt like steak (mmm, mesquite) and wanted to avoid whatever place we went to down near the airport a few visits ago, so decided to hit up Pinnacle Peak. B had one of their regular steaks (mediocre) and I had their ribs (pretty tasty, actually). It was what it was – slightly kitschy, not fancy … it worked. I also grabbed a scoop of ice cream from one of the other shops in Trail Dust Town afterward.

Saturday, April 8:

We were planning on hitting up Omar’s Hi-Way Chef Restaurant for breakfast at the Triple T truck stop since we knew it was good … but apparently they are no longer 24 hours. Since we had no other options for breakfast on that side of town … we decided to go try and find a place in Benson. And we did.

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We stumbled upon the Farmhouse Restaurant (no web site) off the main drag (4th Street) in Benson, Ariz. Technically they weren’t even open when we showed up, but the guy (from Pueblo, Colo., originally, in that day’s edition of “it’s a small world”) says that if he’s up early, he just goes in and opens up early. Ahh, small towns.

It was a fairly standard breakfast – eggs and bacon and hashbrowns. Neither of us was impressed with the carb side – B did not like his biscuits and gravy and my banana nut muffin was super dry – but it did the trick.

Lunch we took a huge gamble and stopped at a Furr’s in Albuquerque. I hadn’t eaten at a Furr’s in … 25?ish? years? … back when they were still a cafeteria. Apparently they’re a buffet now … and they’re terrible. The two redeeming parts of my meal? The fact that the “servers” asked you if you wanted lemon for your water (yes please!) … so the water, and the cottage cheese. That was tasty. The rest of it? Never going again. Don’t go there. Urp.

Dinner was at our house … but no way was I cooking after being in the car that long (and we didn’t really have food in the house), so pizza it was. Hooray for Domino’s.

Tucson Spring 2017

If that “live where you vacation” thing is accurate, we’re probably going to end up moving to Tucson at some point. Probably when we’re old. When we can handle the 100+ degree temperatures in the summer. Probably. Maybe.

This trip was originally hopefully going to be in early May and comprise of a training camp, but then we kind of took a month off of training and we realized the May dates weren’t going to work but we still really wanted to go and long story short … we went in early April, instead, when we were originally in theory supposed to be in Chicago for the Frozen Four.

I think we were both happier in the desert sunshine as opposed to the rainy Midwest.

Tuesday, April 4:

We knew it was probably going to snow the day we headed out of town, but we didn’t realize it was as bad as it ended up being. I’m pretty sure the storm I was supposed to hit on the first driving back from Albuquerque got delayed and combined into this one. That meant that the three hours it normally takes to get across the border into New Mexico? Took over five. Walsenberg to Trinidad should take maybe a half-hour. It took us double that.

From home to probably just before Santa Fe, N.M., we were driving through snow and ice. Southern Colorado after Colorado Springs through the border was us going 20 to 25 miles per hour (35 if we got lucky), seeing multiple cars off the side of the road, seeing a car spin out in front of us heading up Raton Pass, feeling us fishtail at one point.

All in all, it meant a good seven hours of white-knuckle driving. It was TERRIBLE.

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Front of my car. Photo taken in Las Vegas, N.M., where it was thankfully just rainy.

We rolled into Tucson right around 8pm Tucson time so really 9pm our time. A 12.5 hour drive (usually) turned into a 17 hour drive.

Wednesday, April 5:

We were staying at the Hilton Tucson East, more on the southern (and obviously eastern) end of town.

Wednesday was actually fairly chill, just driving around and exploring. We stopped somewhere if we felt like stopping – like at the La Encantada shopping center – but it was mostly just enjoying the fact that we were finally on vacation.

We went for a short bike ride that afternoon and played some cards by the pool, but all in all, it was a very chill, agenda-free day.

Thursday, April 6:

Thursday was an earlier wake up call due to where we wanted to hit breakfast (food post coming later this week) and then we went trail running up at Sabino Canyon.

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After the run, we went back to the hotel to shower and then went off to Tohono Chul Park to go look at cactus and use our botanic garden reciprocity. Because we like “free.”

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It was awesome and peaceful, just like any good botanic garden should be. We explored almost all of it, except for one of the longer trails because we were both getting hungry at that point.

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Crested saguaro! With a face!

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Tucson life goals: see a blooming saguaro done!

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Gorgeous blooms.

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Accurate.

We hit lunch and then were so stuffed from lunch that we spent a super lazy afternoon flopped at the hotel. Dinner really ended up not being a thing that night.

We did venture back out to Sabino Canyon to try to get my elusive sunset shot, but once again … fail. I finally did my version of one of B’s standard photos, though.

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Friday, April 7:

Friday morning saw us head to Saguaro National Park where we ended up purchasing the annual national parks and federal recreational lands pass. Since I’m quitting and we normally try to get a Rocky Mountain National Park pass, we figured the nationwide pass was a smart idea. As long as we do five more visits to parks/rec lands (easy as we need to hike a lot this summer), it’ll pay for itself. Seemed like a no-brainer.

We went to Saguaro mostly to hike around. And obviously take pictures.

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B and saguaro.

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Dinosaur perspective.

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“These are my people.”

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Hehe, it’s wavy.

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Dead saguaro.

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Desert.

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All the blooming ocotillos were stunning.

On the drive back … Tucson life goals: see a gila monster in the wild done! Almost ran the little bugger over with my car so unfortunately couldn’t get a picture.

We hit up lunch after Saguaro and that afternoon, met up to shop at SMASH HQ so I could try on some things before I bought them. Plus lots of time spent chatting with Hillary and Maik is never bad.

Dinner that night and then a way less stressful drive home on Saturday.

Grand Forks 2017

If you’re familiar with the blog, you probably know that I went to school in Boston. You might not know that the husband went to school up in Grand Forks, N.D. I’ve been up there once – back in 2011 for a night, and that night wasn’t even planned – but it was a tiny little trip.

B has wanted me to see a game up at his school pretty much since we’ve been together, so we finally committed to it. And, because we’re ridiculous, of course we went in the middle of winter. Duh.

Anyway, flights in and out of GFK were terrible and they weren’t much better going through Fargo, so we decided to just go to MSP and rent a car.

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Sunset in Northern Minnesota.

We rolled into the Forks around 8pm and too late to do B’s original dinner plan, so we just grabbed a pizza and had a hotel picnic, because that’s sometimes what love and marriage is.

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(Clearly we also got in too late for me to even think about blogging here.)

Most of Friday morning was spent at the gym. After lunch, we headed over to the UND bookstore and to check out the Ralph Englestad Arena while it was still quiet (so well before game time).

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Ivan the UND fan outside the arena.

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B inside.

Later that night, I got to go to my first UND game IN North Dakota. The Ralph – palace on the prairie – is definitely amazing. Marble, leather … you can see why Fighting Sioux Hawks fans get spoiled. It’s nicer than some NHL arenas.

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I will say I was a bit disappointed with the fans; I know how loud UND fans can be. This weekend though? Fail. My team’s fans are so much better (and B agrees with me on this). It also didn’t help that the team played like poo and (rightfully) lost to St. Cloud State.

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Still happy to be back in the Forks.

Saturday was a cold, snowy, gloomy day (more typical!). We went to the gym in the morning (I’m in the middle of a swim streak), grabbed a snack, and then B took me on a running tour of his campus. I only had my phone so I really didn’t get too many pictures. After we finished the run, I got to see a bit of the aviation buildings he spent a lot of his time in and probably my favorite part of campus.

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As B calls them, “gerbil tubes.” Since North Dakota gets ass ridiculously cold, they have tubes and tunnels connecting good chunks of campus.

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Nelson in front of his favorite Grand Forks restaurant, the Red Pepper.

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Ivan at the game.

Quick trip, not a lot done (gym, hockey, the mall for the walk down memory lane), but it was wonderful to get to experience Grand Forks the way my husband did back in his college days.

I’ll go into more detail on what we ate on Thursday!

Arizona Trip, November 2016

Way back at the end of November, I road-tripped down to Arizona. This was ostensibly to volunteer at IRONMAN Arizona, but I also spent a few days in Tucson at either end, because why not.

Thursday, November 17:

The drive. Very long, very windy day. Worst gas mileage I have ever gotten.

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Sunset.

Friday, November 18:

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Dinosaurs at the hotel. Stayed at the Comfort Suites at Sabino Canyon.

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I may have killed many tumbleweeds the day prior … My car still had one in its jaws.

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I wandered the Fourth Street District a bit, trying something new in Tucson. I came across this guy, a remnant of the ancient old Magic Carpet Golf mini golf course, i.e. the best mini golf EVER. R.I.P.

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Lunch was all-you-can-eat sushi at Sushi Garden. I technically should have been charged for some of my food, as I didn’t quite finish it, but the waitress was awesome and let me slide. Much appreciated!

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I spent a bit of time that evening trying to get the elusive awesome sunset saguaro shot. As you can see, I didn’t quite get there. Someday …

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I am so thankful that I can, because I know so many people who just don’t get the desert’s appeal.

Saturday, November 19:

Drove up to Tempe. Saw this guy on Mill:
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Hung out at the IMAZ expo, both simultaneously experiencing some FOMO and also VERY glad to not be racing. Ran into my friend Simon, because why wouldn’t I run into someone I know. Picked Brandon up from the airport.

Sunday, November 20:

Spectated IMAZ.

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Got the hardest high-five ever from Simon here at the bike turnaround.

Mostly spent most of the evening volunteering at the TriSports.com aid station, having a blast as always.

Monday, November 21:

Drove back down to Tucson.

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Got lunch at delicious Lucky Wishbone.

Checked into the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass.

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Went to Casa Molina for dinner.

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Mmm, cheese crisp. Weird Sonoran thing, but delicious.

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Dinner, with a demolished green corn tamale (the only tamale I will eat).

Tried out the Screamery for ice cream.

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I tried the Mississippi Mudpie, which is an “infused coffee ice cream with hand-made dark chocolate cookies and chocolate swirl.” It was … okay. Not sure we’d return. We’re both really realizing that we don’t like “fancy” ice cream.

Tuesday, November 22:

Went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, since we hadn’t gone in several years.

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Rare crested saguaro!

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Creative and funny.

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Standard “Brandon hugging a cactus” photo.

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Saguaro.

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Squeaky (Gustave) on a cactus.

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All the frogs!

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Cranky roadrunner.

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Dinosaurs in the desert.

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Brandon’s ideal backyard.

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The Desert Museum has sting rays now!

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Chilling back at the hotel.

We tried out the Catalina BBQ Company, one of the (off-site) hotel restaurants for dinner, partially because we had heard good things about it.

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I had the pulled pork; it wasn’t bad. Fries were pretty terrible, proving my theory that fries at barbecue joints just aren’t good.*

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Brandon had the pork, wings, and the macaroni and cheese. Everything tasted okay buuuut …

Wednesday, November 23:

… we think the wings gave Brandon food poisoning, as he was super sick for the drive home.

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Not a fun time. Except for the food poisoning, though, overall a good trip down to the desert with a few new experiences.

* Notable exception being, of course, the Germantown Commissary.

Dining on the Great Southern Road Trip

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

I was wondering a bit on how to do this, and after much thought, I decided that a day-to-day “food journal” type thing would be the easiest for this part of the story. Because seriously, we ate. A lot.

Day One: 9.19
– Eggs at the house.
– Some Bantam bagels (and coffee!) at Starbucks.
– Free doughnut at King Soopers (thank you for winning, Broncos).
– Snacks in the car.
– Lunch at Iron Skillet (used to eat here a lot on road trips as a kid; not doing that again …).
– Chocolate shake from Steak ‘n Shake (made it during shake happy hour. Score).
– Delicious home-cooking at Norm and Emily’s.

Day Two: 9.20
– Breakfast at Norm and Emily’s.
– Coffee at Starbucks.
– Car and gas station snacks.
– Lunch at Waffle House.
– Dinner at Cracker Barrel (not as bad as I remembered; it had been a few years since we had last eaten there).

Day Three: 9.21
– Hotel breakfast.
– Lunch at Jack’s in Nashville.
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(delicious.)
– Ice cream at Mike’s in Nashville.
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(I may have added hot coffee on top of this coffee ice cream …)
– Dinner at some crappy burger place (Stax) in the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center complex (NOT recommended).

Day Four: 9.22
– Breakfast at Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A.
– Lunch at Puckett’s in Chattanooga.
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(Wasn’t bad. Don’t necessarily know if I’d return, but it did the trick.)
– Dinner at Totto Sushi (HIGHLY recommended. There were five of us, we ate (okay, mostly George ate) obscene amounts of sushi. They comped us an appetizer AND mochi ice cream. Fantastic service, tasty fish. GO.).

Day Five: 9.23
– Hotel breakfast.
– Coffee and bagel at Stone Cup Cafe, Chattanooga (recommended. Good coffee and one of the best bagels I’ve had in a long time).
– Lunch at Blue Plate/Local 191, Chattanooga (had a portobello sandwich. It was good, and I don’t know if it was because we were on the bar side of the restaurant, but our service was TERRIBLE. It took forever to get our food. Probably would not go back).
– Dinner at 1885 Grill, St. Elmo (DELICIOUS. Kind of expensive, but completely worth it. I had salmon, Jeremy had some sort of etoufee, Melanie had grits with something, I forget what Brandon ate, but we all loved our meals).

Day Six: 9.24
– Hotel breakfast.
– Attempted coffee at Chattz (so I like local coffee shops in general, but the girl working was totally rude and the (bottled) cold brew was way too strong. Waste of my money).
– Lunch at Maple Street Biscuit Company, Chattanooga (okay, so this place was really cute. The name for your order was the band you’d like to go on tour with. The food was tasty, too).
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(Brandon’s biscuit.)
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(My biscuit.)
– Breakfast for dinner at City Cafe Diner.

Day Seven: 9.25
– To go breakfast from City Cafe Diner (liked this place the night before, but it almost took too long to get our food that morning …).
– Bike course buffet (… Ironman. you eat what you can).
– A lot of fried crap at City Cafe Diner (bacon cheese fries were sadly disappointing, but their cheese sticks were good, and the fried mushrooms did the trick).

Day Eight: 9.26
– Hotel breakfast.
– More coffee and bagels from Stone Cup Cafe.
– Doughnut holes from Julie Darling Donuts, Chattanooga (so we like doughnuts, but these were disappointing. I couldn’t do a chocolate-frosted, because they do a chocolate-frosted glazed, which is just a no in my book. So, we tried some of the donut holes – sour cream, buttermilk, regular glazed – the glazed were okay, but the other two? Probably would not go back …).
– Gas station snacks.
– Taco Bell (when you’re hungry …).
– Hooters for dinner (all you can eat wings were fantastic …).

Day Nine: 9.27:
– Starbucks for coffee and Bantam bagels.
– Waffle House for *actual* breakfast.
The Varsity for lunch.
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(Varsity orange drink was … not good. Chocolate shake was okay. The cheeseburger was nothing special and the fries were above average. I get the local appeal … but I’d prefer In-N-Out over this.)
– Gas station snacks.
– Hotel dinner.
– Ice cream at Kilwin’s, Asheville.
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Day Ten: 9.28
– Hotel breakfast.
– Iced coffee from Green Sage Cafe, Asheville (cute little place downtown).
– Snack from Old Europe Pastries, Asheville (shortbread, not good. Croissant, delicious).
– Gas station snacks.
– Lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings (they have a salad I like. I needed greens).
– Fries and a chocolate shake from Jack’s, Alabama (so. Chocolate shake was good (real chocolate ice cream!). Fries were different, but good (I swear they use that artificial butter flavoring stuff that’s on microwave popcorn on their fries). Not good was the fries IN the shake. That was a fail).
– Dinner at Corky’s, Memphis.
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(Pulled pork? Tasty. Ribs? Best I’ve had in YEARS. Cole slaw? Tasty. Mac and cheese? Ehhh … but the rolls were on point. Out of our two BBQ stops, I’d suggest Corky’s for ribs for dinner.)

Day Eleven: 9.29
– Hotel breakfast.
– Iced coffee and Bantam bagels at Starbucks (can you tell I’m addicted to those stupid bagel bites?).
– Lunch at the Germantown Commissary.
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(While it wasn’t the best I’ve had (too relish-y?), the deviled egg was a nice touch. The pulled pork was even better than Corky’s. The ribs weren’t my favorite, but they were also a dry rub rib, and I now know that I don’t like dry rub BBQ. I didn’t like the cole slaw (but that’s so hit or miss for me anyway), but their fries were fantastic, which is rare for a BBQ place. Go here for lunch to get pulled pork and fries. We got talked into the pie, which wasn’t bad, but not my favorite lemon. Shoulda gone with the chocolate …)
– Olive Garden for dinner.

Day Twelve: 9.30
– Hotel breakfast.
Lion’s Choice Roast Beef for lunch (needed food, wanted to grab something quickly … we decided on what appeared to be a local St. Louis chain. Think Arby’s, but higher quality. It was … meh).
– Ice cream at Cold Stone.
– Breakfast for dinner at Norm and Emily’s.

Day Thirteen: 10.1
– Doughnuts at Daylight Donuts (I don’t know why we keep trying Daylight, as they’re just not good).
– Gas station snacks.
– Lunch (well, more like brunch) at Pheasant Run Restaurant, Hays, Kan. (So. Food wasn’t bad, but we’re 99% sure we got our food after every single local got theirs, even if they arrived after us. Kind of bullshit. Would not stop by again. We usually like to avoid the chains, but this time, a chain might have been a better option).
– Dinner back in wonderful Denver. Thank you Whole Foods Market and your delicious teriyaki.

(Also consumed: a copious amount of candy corn. ‘Tis the season …)