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.

First Quarter Style: 2017

I actually have four outfits as opposed to three. Whaaaaaa?

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January date night outfit.

Necklace: New York and Company
Bracelet: gift from Brandon
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT
Pants: Candie’s
Shoes: JustFab Online

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Travel outfit.

Headband: Smashfest Queen
Sweater: Rubbish
Skirt: Skirt Sports
Boots: JustFab Online

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Valentine’s Day dinner outfit.

Necklace: Kate Spade (V-day gift from hubby!)
Top, Skirt: Express
Shoes: JustFab Online

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March date outfit.

Necklace, Sweater: Target
Dress: Kohl’s
Shoes: Born

Shinedown: West Coast Tour 2017

Also known as Shinedown show number 6 … the sixth show in four years and five or six days.

After we saw Shinedown in October, we figured we wouldn’t be able to see them in a while because of other tours and album writing and whatnot. But then … they released a small West Coast tour. We grumbled slightly about them not coming to Colorado this time, but then I spotted the first two shows on the tour – Albuquerque, N.M. on 3.31 and Tucson, Ariz. on 4.1.

I thought, “Dude. We could potentially see one of those two shows!” I talked to B about it and we decided on the Albuquerque show, as it’s a fairly easy drive down from Denver (6ish hours). He got the 31st off, I requested those few days off from work, we drove on down.

We were considering concert VIP for this show and thought we bought it … but all we did was buy VIP floor seats for the venue (which was 100% worth it, mind you). They had the meet and greets for the tour, but the packages for the ABQ show weren’t available until well after we had already bought our seats. Oh well, maybe next time.

Anyway, this show on the tour was weird in that there was no opening act. There are a few opening bands on this tour (As Lions, Cold Kingdom), but for whatever reason, not at this show.

We got to the venue (Legends Theater in the Route 66 Casino) way early because we weren’t sure if we needed to be in line for ages to get a good spot. We find out that we actually have seats for the show.

Third row, but chairs.

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Kind of dumb, but whatever. We had several hours to kill and didn’t feel like sitting in a car for the drive back to our hotel (30-ish minutes, probably more with traffic), so we gambled a bit and then played cards in the back of my Rav until it was time to find food pre-show.

We did pop in the time the doors opened at 7 to get our seats. B asked one of the security people if we could get on the rail, but she said no. Not that that stopped everyone once the show started anyway … So we did end up getting up front anyway!

Before I get ahead of myself, set list, courtesy of Setlist.fm:

Asking for It
Black Cadillac
Devour
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
I’ll Follow You
How Did You Love
If You Only Knew
Enemies
Unity
State of My Head
Second Chance
45
Cut the Cord
Simple Man
Sound of Madness

You could tell it was the first show of the tour as the boys were a little off (specifically through “Asking for It”), but it was a lot of fun. Brent Smith dedicated “Simple Man” to Zach Myers’ son Oliver, as it was Oli’s birthday that day (and during “Sound of Madness,” you could see Myers’ wife Bethany holding Oliver backstage. Cute kid.).

In terms of Shinedown shows we’ve seen, I would say it was average. Definitely not the best, but not the worst either. That’s not to say it was a *bad* show, though; on the contrary, it was pretty awesome. Myers was totally on this show and I think Barry Kerch was having more fun than usual.

Other items of note:
– Brent Smith, please stop growing the hair back out. You look creepy.
– Eric Bass, what the heck was going on with your hair???
– I quickly sharpie’d a “Happy B-Day to Oliver, Zach! :)” note on the back of our tickets (printed out) and showed it to him during “Simple Man,” and he seemed super touched when he mouthed “thank you” back.
– We raked in the souvenirs this show, with a drum stick (this one actually is a BKerch signature as opposed to the Halloween show one we got) and three guitar picks – one Zach, one show-specific (well, the first two shows of this tour) Eric, and a Back to the Future duplicate that we could possibly use to trade later.

I’m super thankful we made it to this show, as I’m not sure when we’re next going to be able to see them live again.

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On Star Wars and the Power of Costume

So there has been an exhibit at the Denver Art Museum for a few months now titled, “Star Wars and the Power of Costume.” The exhibit is a traveling one that shows the whole journey of dressing the Star Wars universe. The exhibit has everything from storyboards to final costumes, and has different in-depth stories about the various pieces.

Like how the Jedi are purposefully made to look biblical because they are “good.”

Like how Han Solo’s outfit is more reminiscent of an old west gunslinger as opposed to how we’d think some space dude is supposed to look.

Like how ridiculous of a process it was to put on the Darth Vader costume.

And so on. The exhibition closes here in Denver April 9 and I really wanted to make it to the DAM before it closed, so we picked a day last week and went. The following are a smattering of pictures from the event.

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Explanation.

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Luke Skywalker’s outfit on the left and I believe Anakin on the right. While most Jedi are in white and brown, Luke’s outfit is black at this point (I believe this one was from “Return of the Jedi”) due to the nature of the dark side creeping in.

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I totally remember using these iMacs in high school …

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Princess Leia’s dress.

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The iconic bikini as well as the disguise Leia uses to free Han Solo from Jabba.

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Chewy and Solo.

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Rebel fighters. Joked to B that if he were in Star Wars, this is what he would wear.

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… B’s response was that TIE fighters were cooler so he’d be in these flight outfits instead.

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Droids.

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Darth Vader, I believe from the Hayden Christiansen days.

Cool exhibit. I think there’s a more permanent version of the exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., but after it leaves Denver, it’s also heading to the Cincinnati Museum Center in Cincinnati, Oh., and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

On La Merise

Denver recently wrapped up this year’s edition of Denver Restaurant Week and B and I chose to participate with some place completely new this year – La Merise.

La Merise is located in Cherry Creek North. We both enjoy French cuisine – which is typically fairly pricey – and it wasn’t too far away from home, so we figured we’d give it a try.

We both had basically the same thing, save for appetizer.

B had Mussels a la Mariniere (fresh mussels steamed in a garlic cream white wine sauce). I snagged one – it wasn’t bad, but I’ve definitely had better (particularly at the no-longer-around Le Central).

I had the Escargots de Bourgogne (imported French snails baked in a homemade garlic-herb butter).

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They were some of the better snails I’ve had, but the butter was a bit too herb-y, almost like a pesto, which was a bit overwhelming.

For the entree, we both had Beef Bourguignon (all natural beef braised in red wine and veal demi glace with vegetables, mushrooms, bacon lardons, and herbs; served with mashed potatoes).

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This … was delicious. Our only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it. B wasn’t the biggest fan of the pearl onions in it, but that problem was easily solved as I snarfed them down.

For dessert, we both chose the Chocolate Mousse (French style chocolate mousse).

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Completely chocolate-y, completely delicious. Again, we wish there would have been more of it. Perfect way to end the meal.

We’d walked past La Merise several times before finally deciding to eat there for DRW, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be back, as it was delicious.

On Quality and Quantity

I haven’t posted in here in a while. I know. Especially because, once again, I committed to posting twice a week. I was doing well, too.

But then … I started having trouble coming up with things to write. I haven’t been able to create as much (yet) this month due to other factors, so I couldn’t blog about that. Sure, we did date night (Rodizio, as we do) on Valentine’s Day, but we’ve been quite a few times so what could I really write on that? Or what could I write that would be better content?

We went to the Colorado Home and Garden Show (free thanks to our Botanic Gardens membership!) and I took some photos ideally for a post … but I really didn’t have much to say. Yay, we saw landscaping and a whole bunch of random companies (including one that might help us grade the garage, so that was helpful)? I could have written on that, but it would have been a stupid post.

I’ve read some novellas – guilty pleasure over here is “Pride and Prejudice” fanfiction (no shame), so I’ve bought some and read them, but they’re basically fun crack and I’m not sure what I’d write on them. Maybe I will when I have a few to review.

Therefore, I’ve decided that instead of forcing posts, I’ll write when I have something to say. I think I would prefer quality over quantity, and I know that when I travel, I inevitably end up with multiple posts from each trip and at the end of March I’ll have my quarterly style post and I will have things to say. I’m hoping to still stick with at least once a week, but maybe not. So, I’m hoping to churn out a bit more quality as opposed to a lot of quantity. Thanks for bearing with me!

On the Elm

Every February comes a wonderful little sporting holiday for Boston-area college hockey fans – the Beanpot. On the first two Mondays in February, four schools (Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University) play each other at the Garden for a literal silver beanpot trophy and bragging rights around the city*. Having gone to one of the schools, I like to try to watch the games.

Living in Denver and not having NESN on my TV package can make it a bit tricky. The alumni association has organized watch parties in the past, but hasn’t for the past few years. The last one they organized, however, was at The Elm.

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Menu.

The Elm, on East Colfax, is a Boston bar and a really fun little joint. Since we’re always there on Mondays, B usually partakes in their burger deal which is a $7 burger and fries/side.

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I’ve stolen bites. It really is a pretty tasty burger.

Yesterday, I actually decided to try their clam chowder.

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They call it a traditional New England clam chowder. It’s … okay. It’s so hard to find good chowder not on the coasts of this country. Brandon thought the base was a little too thin and I found it a bit too peppery for my tastes.

What I usually get, though, is their lobster roll (because of course).

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They diced the celery a little finer on my second go around this February which made it a lot better, but this is definitely one of the better lobster rolls around. Chock full of large pieces of lobster on the proper bun (which, as I’ve said before, makes SUCH a difference), I would definitely recommend it.

Our friend Jeremy joined us and got the fried clams both nights. I didn’t snag a picture, but he says they’re as good as any he had when living back East (I tried them; they were good, but I have no reference point). We got chatting with the Elm’s general manager after the game and she said to try their roast beef sandwich, as it’s apparently really close to Massachusetts legend Kelly’s Roast Beef, which I’ve never been able to try.

If you’re a Boston ex-pat (ex-Pat? Ha …) living in Denver or just love a good lobster roll, check out the Elm.

*The women’s team of each school also participates in a women’s Beanpot, typically held on the first two Tuesdays of February, with the exception being this year due to Valentine’s Day.