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NOLA April 17th, 2014

I was down in New Orleans for a nice long weekend. First, celebrating Traci’s bachelorette party with some lovely ladies… then a quick visit with Esther. And, as I was flying home, realizing this trip just might have been my last big hurrah before baby burrito arrives in 10-ish more weeks. EEEEeeee!!! On that subject, walking around Bourbon Street and the French Quarter Festival while pregnant was… hmmm, interesting. Lots of sweet comments and well wishes from random people about my baby bump, (and thankfully only one random belly-rub). That is the thing I always love about NO, that everyone is just so nice and friendly. And it was a great trip. French Quarter Festival was a blast, so much good music and revelry. My only regret was having to pass on all the massive plates of boiled crawfish. I was too much of a weenie to risk eating the shellfish while pregnant, but boy was it tempting. There was more than enough other food to satisfy any pregnant woman’s dreams — gumbo, prailines, alligator tamales, snowcones with condensed milk… NOM NOM. It was food heaven. Ok, enough rambles, here are the pics:

   

JJ welcoming me to the Slug House

JJ welcoming me to the Slug House in New Orleans

   

when we hit the big time and can buy some real estate, a place in the French Quarter with a balcony would be high on my list...

when we hit the big time and can buy some real estate, a place in the French Quarter with a balcony would be high on my list…

   

Frenchman Street market

Frenchman Street night market, wanted to buy all the things

   

more beads

beads!!

   

BEADS

more BEADS!!!

   

oh when the saints go marching in!

“oh when the saints go marching in!”

   

one of the many French Quarter festival stages

one of the many French Quarter festival stages

   

reflection photo! me and Esther, and I love all the random people that photo-bombed this too

reflection photo cheese! me and Esther

   

loved this sculpture in the garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art

loved this sculpture in the garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art

   

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GUATE in photos February 7th, 2014

SOo… I’m finally getting around to getting these up. The problem with traveling is there are too many good pictures to choose from when your husband is a great photographer AND takes pictures of everything.

   


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Kicking off the trip on a sunny day in Antigua. Antigua is an adorable little tourist town with tons of colorful shops, international travelers, cobblestone streets, photo-opportunities, and traditional Guatemalan restaurants.

   

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Vendors at the Antigua market. Words cannot describe the rainbow of color that is everywhere.

   

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Beautiful, colorful street facades in Antigua.

   

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Numbers on the walls.

   

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Market fruits. I wanted to sample everything. Luckily Jill was in the habit of buying strange fruits and shoving them in our faces.

   

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Rooftop view of the volcano in Antigua.

   

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Street food from a cart vendor. I could have eaten this for the entire trip it was so good. Following this dinner, we went to Cafe No Se for some mezcal tasting. The bar had some pretty weird rules about having to purchase a certain number of drinks if you were there, so I was kinda surprised (but happy) that they let my pregnant butt sit there and sip water. Then as Jill and Matt bellied-up for the mezcal tasting flight, I realized they were more than covering my share. Matt preferred the most aged of the mezcals, while Jill liked the youngest one the best. She’s a cheap date 😉

   

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Roadside Guatemala: everything seems to get carried on top of heads when they run out of arm space. The women must have very strong necks and great balance… We picked up our rental car and headed to El Retiro. It was supposed to come with GPS, but didn’t. So, there was some time spent lost on the streets of Guatemala City, looking for the Periferrico on our stupidly drawn tourist map. But Jill navigated like a champ, and even asked for directions in perfect Spanish, so we eventually found our way.

   

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Our accommodations on night 2 at what we called the Bamboo Palace (Hotel Ram Tzul). We spent some relaxing time around the fire pit, eating dinner and drinking cocoa and calling for our waiter “Kevin!” anytime we needed anything. We were the only guests there, so we kind of felt like royalty. The plan the next morning was to wake up and look for Quetzals, but it was raining so our bird-searching mission was a bust. Onward to El Retiro!

   

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Bumpin’ along the road. Guatemala doesn’t need designated scenic overlooks because they are EVERYWHERE.

   

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Jill’s office – the gathering space at El Retiro.

   

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Relaxing by the river at El Retiro.

   

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El Retiro flora.

   

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Semuc Champey. Sadly, I did not make it to this paradise because I was still sick at this point. Luckily Matt was kind enough to document all the wonderous beauty to show me later. Which settles it. I must go back here on a healthy stomach.

   

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Jill’s chicas. Some serious hustlin’ going on here. Chocolate was purchased.

   

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Both of us, finally feeling better on the last day when it’s time to go home. Oh. Well.

   

Guatemala was an amazing and beautiful country. I am still overwhelmed when I think about all the bright pops of color everywhere. And the food, OMG, the food. Seeing Jill in her element and meeting Josue were the highlights, and it’s true the El Retiro is one of the most idyllic settings you can possibly imagine. Low-lights of our time there included being sick, but as we realized later, we couldn’t have been ill in a more beautiful setting. And they were good about keeping us stocked with water bottles and toilet paper. Guatemala, we will return for you!

   

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GUATEMALA February 3rd, 2014



   

Here’s the little video I compiled of our trip to Guatemala… Including mostly beautiful scenery ramblings from the road, being lost in Guatemala City, driving in rainy conditions, no Quetzal sightings, Jill at work, and so much more. Its pretty long and full of inside jokes, what more could you want? Pictures to follow soon!

   

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Southeast Asia trip… photos October 22nd, 2013

So you’ve seen the video, but I’d be an idiot if I didn’t upload some of the trip pics and recall some of the stories too. It’s a month later, but in my book that’s right on time. Here goes:

   


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whooshing down the alleys of Bangkok. always remember to raise that blue tarp on the sides of the boats to keep the nasty water from spraying in your face..


   

When we first arrived in Bangkok, we took a ride on the Saen Saep Express Boat, which basically goes down the back alley canals of Bangkok. We were standing on the platform on the narrow bank, waiting to board, sweat rolling down our faces, when some Thai kids came up to us and began to interview us with their video camera. “Is this the dirtiest place you’ve ever been?” they asked. It WAS, in fact, THE dirtiest, smelliest place I’d ever been, but I didn’t want to offend them, so I said no. I think they were actually making a video about trying to clean up polluted waterways, but I only realized that later, and that they probably could have used some good footage of Westerners comfirming the grossness of the water. Instead, I think all they got was some video of me sweating profusely while trying not to be rude to foreigners.


   

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Wat Pho

   

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city in the on-again off-again rain. We explored the temples of Wat Pho, the offerings of the Chatuchak market, took the BTS Skytrain, and tasted some Chang beer. We also stopped in for some cocktails at the famous Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

   

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banananananana boat!

   

On Day 2, we took an epic tour to see The Floating Markets, the Bridge over the River Kwai, and to ride elephants in the river. It was incredible, all of it. My favorite, besides the elephant An-Chung that we rode, were the two tiny baby elephants that we got to pet and feed. Their skin is so tough and rough and prickly, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I want to play with the elephants forever.


   

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i’m including this photo as part of my application to the circus. we should be shoe-ins.

   

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the freshest Thai food..

   

Our bike tour began on Day 3 of the trip, near a Thai beach just an hour or so outside of Bangkok. We met our soon-to-be-friends Neil and Di from Dubai, Jane from London, and Spencer from Toronto and got all set up with our bikes, water bottles, and helmets. The six of us, plus our two tour guides, had a delicious meal before departing on our first 17 miles…

   

We biked through some rolling hills, past some Thai shrimp farms, along a beautiful blue irrigation canal, and stopped for a water break and snacks by some rubber tree groves. We ended the biking segment near the beautiful shore and had some time to check out the fishies at the local aquarium. That night, we stayed at the Soi Dao Golf Club and Resort — it was off-season, so we had the place to ourselves — with lizards everywhere (which we named Stu for the rest of the trip) and beautiful views of the fog rolling in over the mountains.

   

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God knows where we are here… somewhere bumbling along the roads of Cambodia.

   

On Day 4, we rode through the countryside in the morning until we got to the Cambodian border and went through the crossings. It was pretty painless, and we easily met up with our two new guides, new bikes, and new shuttle van on the other side. Cambodia somehow felt different than Thailand – a little slower and a little friendlier. As we rolled onward, the terrain got hillier as we passed by the Cardamom foothills. We saw lots of rural roadside homes, livestock, bikes and motorcycles, and friendly children waving and yelling ‘HALLO!!!” at us. Di was riding her own recumbent bike the entire trip, and this was just the beginning of the stares and smiles she got the entire way.

   

That afternoon, after 26 miles on the bikes, we arrived in Pailin, to stay at the Memoria Palace Hotel. It was one of my favorite places of the trip — very remote, lush and green, with beautiful stone artwork, colorful walls, and amazing Thai food. And Angkor beers, which were so well earned after biking. Later that evening, before dinner, we went into town with our guide to climb the steps of the Buddhist Temple Wat Phnom Yat. We enjoyed watching the young monks beating a drum, and of course taking pictures of all the ornate and colorful parts of the temple.

   

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Buddha

   

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monk

   

Biking is one of the best ways to experience a place. You can cover lots of distance quickly, but still get the close-up picture. The smiles on the faces of the people you pass by, the smells of chicken cooking on the roadside, the sounds of the road rushing by, and the feel of the humidity that comes with the hot, wet rain drops.

   

The next day, I set a new personal biking record with a distance of 61.5 miles. It was hot, it was long, but it was awesome!! There were plenty of sights to take in along the way, and well placed pit stops to refill the Camel Packs with water. At one point, I started riding with my arms flipped upside down to help alleviate the sunburn I was getting no matter how much sunscreen I put on. We had lunch at a legit roadside open-air restaurant. There is nothing quite like eating crazy spicy Cambodian food with questionable meats when you know you have 30 miles left to go on your bike. Now that’s living!!

   

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Cambodians are masters at stacking and carrying everything on bikes, tractors, carts, motorcycles…

   

When we finally rolled into Battambang, it was suddenly chaos. For Cambodia, it was a “crowded” city, and there were no traffic rules. The best you could do was just go and try not to crash into anyone else while crossing the intersections. Or, if you were Di on the recumbent bike, just keep pedaling and yelling “I’M GOING, I’M GOING!” and hoping everyone understood that you couldn’t stop easily. We stayed that evening at the Khemara I Hotel. While it lacked the remote charm of our other stays, it made up for it with the availability of cheap massages. Matt and I had some little Cambodian ladies walk all over our backs for an hour for the grand total of $8. It was AHHMAZING after a long day of riding. After that, the power went out in our hotel. This was a seemingly common occurance… so went we out to explore the streets. We stopped into someone’s house, or rather their living room, to enjoy two Angkor beers… as you do in Cambodia.

   


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Battambang nights…

   

We travelled from Battambang to Siem Reap by boat. The Tonle Sap, or “Great Lake,” is actually a river and lake that is constantly changing, even reversing direction twice a year depending on the rainy season. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. There was something really sad but beautiful about the Cambodian people living on the river. Sad for the amount of poverty we witnessed, but beautiful for the simplicity of living, the natural wonder of the setting, and the perceived romance of having a home or boat on the water.

   

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leaning, living

   

Siem Reap felt like a return to civilzation, of sorts. It’s a cute little tourist town, with tons of bars and shops and markets and cheap stuff for sale. We got bombarded, as did all the tourists, with “you need a tuk tuk ride?” and “lady, buy this!” and “massage for you?” It got a little old by the third night there. But we did enjoy being able to settle into our hotel for three consecutive nights and not have to pack up smelly bike gear each morning as we had done before.

   


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Siem Reap Market choas

   

It rained most nights and turned Pub Street into a shiny, glowing wonder. We had dinner and cocktails one evening while sitting on the floor in this “reggae loft.” That’s really the best description I could give it. We all shared travel stories, family stories, thoughts, dreams, ideas. There was a lot of booze.

   

While staying in Siem Reap, we had three full days to explore the temples of Angkor. It’s hard to write about the massive scale and also the minute detail contained within the nearly 1,000 year old ruins and feel as though I’ve done it justice. To say it’s impressive is an understatement; the entire time we were there, I felt like a tiny ant exploring the most grandiose palaces, some perfectly reconstructed, some undergoing reconstruction, and some left completely untouched. Ta Phrom was one of the untouched sites, and also my favorite of them all. Enormous and intrictate tree roots twisted their way around the stones like serpents tentacles, while the branches went skyward for what seemed like forever. It felt like a magical forest that you’d find within the pages of Dr. Seuss, like it shouldn’t exist anywhere on this earth. Absolutely amazing. I was also in awe of the amount of detail that went into the Hindu, then Buddhist, carvings. Not ever more than an inch of stone was un-designed, and we attempted to take photographs of it all.

   


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you know that scene in Princess Bride where Fezzik is stuck in the crowd and yells, “EVERYBODY MOVE.” –yeah.

   

One monsoon-y morning, we postponed biking and went for a rainy hike at Kbal Spean, the River of 1,000 Lingas. At the top of the climb was a magnificent waterfall and several riverbed carvings, right there in the gushing currents. It was a memorable walk because of the terrain — I am used to forest floors covered in leaves and debris, but this path was nearly all bare stone and twisting tree roots. The starkness of the stone below our feet, combined with the rain and the mud, made the pathway almost look like a brown, flowing river, but it was surprisingly not very slippery. I enjoyed putting my hood up, my head down, and getting lost in my thoughts.

   

That afternoon, the rain cleared up enough to bike, and a crazy ride it was. Red dirt roads, bumpy as all hell, flooded in places, constant swerving in and out of potholes and puddles. Very sore wrists. Hanging on for dear life. Or at least hanging on in hopes that I wouldn’t go over the handlebars. It felt like some sort of X-games competition. We were mud-covered and laughing at the end though, in that sort of Ican’tbelieveImadeitthroughthat sort of way.

   

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Ta Phrom trees

   

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our gang

   

The next day, and final day of the bike trip, was spent doing an easy ride to the remaining temples, with a stop at the small village of Kro Bey Real. The market here felt like the most legitimate view of Cambodia that we’d seen. We were the only Westerners there, everyone else was there shopping for their groceries and just going about daily life. There were incredible fresh veggies in baskets all over the ground, eggs so fresh they will still covered in dirt, chickens, fish… everything. The only turn-off for me was that the muddy, dirty ground upon which everything sat, including all the people, seemed to seep it’s way into everything with a bad smell. It was unlike any market I’ve ever seen or will see again.

   


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i love the expression on her face. and all these fresh veggies.

   

ONWARD! We said our goodbyes to our bike gang and guides, and took a quick flight to Phnom Penh in the evening. We stayed with the Holben family and it was nice to spend a day relaxing in the company of friends from DC home. We took our first tuk-tuk rides, did a bit of wandering around the city, and stopped in at the National Museum of Cambodia. There were a bunch of protests and riots going on, with police and razor wire everywhere, so we didn’t do a whole lot of adventuring. Instead, Matt and Lorenzo had a great lightsaber battle, while Poppy tried to restore their injuries with her magical potions. We went out to an amazing sushi dinner that night. It was good fun.

   


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this is what happens when you take a tuk-tuk

   

The following morning I shall call the Morning of The Great Tuk-Tuk Incident/Misadventure. We had an 8:30am bus to catch to Ho Chi Minh City. We got in a tuk-tuk to the market/bus station around 7:20. It should have been about 15 minutes away. We BARELY made the bus. The tuk-tuk driver took us all over the city, partially due to language miscommunication, partially due to I think he was drunk, and partially due to us being viwed as typical lost tourists. Somewhere midway through the bumpy ride, I threw up. I couldn’t take it anymore. We went down some crazy street and I saw some fish heads lying by the side of the road and up came the one bite of papaya I had for breakfast. It was not pretty. All I could see as I leaned out of the tuk-tuk was some Cambodian guy’s foot like 3 inches away from my mouth, as his motorcycle was zooming by.

   

In Ho Chi Minh City we completed our adventure. We were thrilled to be staying at the Hotel Continental, which was right in the mix of everything. We saw the AO Show at the Opera House, wandered into Notre Dame and the Saigon Central Post Office, ate an amazing French dinner complete with moules, visited the Reunification Palace, saw the Emporer Jade Pagoda or as I call it the turtle temple, had more massages and more massages, shopped at the markets, tried some authentic pho, took skyline photos of the city from the overlook at the Bitexco Tower, took a cooking class, and Matt had a custom-tailored suit made.

   

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market flowers

   

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authentic pho! look at those chopstick skillz

   

   

By the last day, the non-stop traffic and whizzing of motorcycles, the endless markets, the harsh sounds of Vietnamese, and the throngs of people selling things kind of got to me, and I was ready to return home… With so many great memories.

   

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rat race, this is the essence of HCM


   

total miles biked — 180 !!

   

sawatdee – goodbye in Thai
   
leah seun hai – goobye in Khmer
   
Xin chào – goodbye in Vietnam
   

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biking! in Southeast Asia! September 26th, 2013

We’re back! We spent the first two weeks of this month on a crazy fun adventure in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It was a whirlwind of a trip, and we’re just getting back into the swing of things here at home — I finally finished going through the video clips to put together this little narrative of the trip. It surely doesn’t capture ALL the moments (it’s not easy biking and filming with an iPhone), but it does give a pretty good flavor of the sights and sounds we experienced. Up next, tackling the 1000s (yes, 1000s) of photos that we took!

A 7-day bike trip through Southeast Asia with Spice Roads bike tour company. From Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia including the temples of Angkor Wat.

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Canadian bachelorette, eh August 1st, 2013


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the bachelorette(s)

   

This past weekend I went up to Montreal for Riles’ bachelorette party. I had never been to Canada before, unless you count the Canadian side of Niagra Falls, so this was pretty much a first. I liked Montreal for sure and hope to go back sometime for a more extended trip. We did a lot of walking around, eating (see meat platter), drinking, and embarassing Riles, of course, with giant cutouts of her face. I think there may be one left in a bar somewhere…

   


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cathedral

   

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inside cathedral

   

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colorful glass facade

   

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sliver of light

   

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Le Habitat

   

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meat platter of the century


   

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welcome, 30 July 23rd, 2013

I turned 30! And it was awesome. It feels like it has been a non-stop party train since last week — First, celebrating the traditional way with family — spiced shrimp and cake and presents. The next night, out to dinner for Mexican food (tequila shot and sombrero included) with friends and neighbors. And finally, an amazing weekend in NYC with Matt.

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we strolled through Central Park…

   

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…asked a stranger in Brooklyn Bridge Park to take this photo of us…

   

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…rode the new CitiBikes!

   

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…visited the 9/11 Memorial

   

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…marveled at how tall WTC1 is…

   

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…wandered along the Highline Park at night…

   

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…watched the sun set between buildings…

   

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…watched ants, I mean people, at MoMa’s free friday…

   

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…snapped pics of the Flatiron BUilding after the rain passed through…

   

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…devoured mozarella and proscuitto and lambrusco frizzante at Eataly…

   

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…admired the Brooklyn Bridge…

   

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…and the Manhattan Bridge too…

   

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…watched people watching people in Times Square…

   

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…took cheesy selfies…

   

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…rode citibikes over the Brooklyn Bridge in search of Grimaldi’s pizza…

   

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…walked under the arches in Central Park…

   

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…encountered some random modeling sessions going on…

   

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…listened to live music…

   

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…in many places.

   

My 30s are going to be good, I feel!!

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pittsburgh July 8th, 2013


view from the top of the incline

view from the top of the incline

   

Hello! Some random pics from our trip to Pittsburgh for the 4th of July. What’s with everyone asking why on earth we would go to Pittsburgh?? It was a lovely city, with friendly people, good food, and plenty of places worth checking out. Maybe it is not as glamorous as a lot of other cities that are high on the tourism list, but I still don’t understand the incredulousness of the many people who were confused as to why we could go. I mean, I hate the Steelers and pretty much every Pittsburgh sports franchise, but other than that, it’s a pretty ok place.

   

We stayed at the Parador Inn, this really cute, Carribean-themed BnB in an old, Victorian house from 1870. We had a claw-foot tub in our room and homemade French Toast for breakfast. I know, right, it was awesome. It was a few blocks from Heinz Field, so it was a great location for getting around. No, we were not in town for the Taylor Swift concert, and I am a little bit embarrassed that I got asked that several times while we were there. I mean, I would totally go to a T-Swift concert, but that was not why I was in town.

   

On the 4th, we walked around Point State Park and watched the boat regata that was going on — these crazy little speed boats going incredibly fast (no idea how fast exactly) but they looked like spaceships and that they might flip over at any second and cause a huge catastrophe. The fireworks show that night was great — it went on for at least 30 minutes.

   

On the 5th, we walked around the Strip District and I ate mozarella balls from the Italian store with reckless abandon. Thank goodness we were walking around the rest of the day or I probably would have bought a lot more yummies — tanks of olive oil and pasta sauces and so forth. After that, we went on a bar crawl of sorts, only there were like 4 miles between each place we checked out, so it’s ok. We hit the Beerhive, tried to do Gooskies on Polish Hill but it was closed, so we went to Brew Works in an old church, and then Arsenal where we sampled all the kinds of homemade cider and wine. Bubbly rhubarb drinks for the win! We talked to the owner for a little while, and he told us how he gave up his accounting job three years ago to make cider. I admire.

   

Next we headed to Little Italy/Bloomfield and had dinner at Pleasure Bar, which was one of the more odd places I’ve ever been, but the food was tasty. We started the 6 mile walk home, but luckily managed to score a cab and saved our tired feet. After some rest, we went out again to see some bluegrass band down the street from our BnB. It was my kind of day.

   

On Sunday, we hit up the last few necessary tourist spots before heading home — rode the incline up to see the city from above and then had Primanti Brothers for lunch. I could get used to French Fries on top of everything, for sure.

   


   

We watched fireworks from the platform of the Alleghany T station - surprisingly great view and the added bonus of looking like the fireworks were coming out of the Science Center tube/funnel thing.

We watched fireworks from the platform of the Alleghany T station – surprisingly great view and the added bonus of looking like the fireworks were coming out of the Science Center tube/funnel thing.

   

now that's what I call a salad!!! topped with fries, as it seems everything in Pittsburgh is...

now that’s what I call a salad!!! topped with fries, as it seems everything in Pittsburgh is…

   

Drinking SILLY beer.

Drinking SILLY beer.

   

our Bnb - Parador Inn

our Bnb – Parador Inn

   

RAWR. Dinosaur Matt

RAWR. Dinosaur Matt

   

fountain in Point State Park

fountain in Point State Park

   

cheers!

cheers!

   

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oh yes it’s ladies weekend July 1st, 2013

The wives of KA (as we actually never call ourselves) went to Charleston for a little trip this past weekend. Jessica realized several months ago that we were all through with bachelorette parties/weddings/etc that had become pretty regular over the past 5 years… So we needed a new excuse to go away together. Or maybe one was actually not needed at all. So we just went. Our fabulous taxi driver knowingly nodded as she drove us to our hotel saying, “ahh time away from the husband’s and kids” (even though there are no kids yet) and then proceeded to tell us this crazy story about the time she bought one of those little rubber grips for taking off stubborn lids for her ex-husbands new wife, who is sweet as can be by the way, and dropped it off to her at the end of the driveay, because there was no way she was going inside and having to see her ex-husband. All because he threw it away thinking it was a piece of rubber garbage, and what an idiot he was for doing that. So she brought a new one by and dropped it off one day. It seemed like her way of saying sorry to the new wife for the mistake the husband made, as only she would know and understand, though how she knew that he threw away the rubber grip thing wasn’t part of the story, but in retrospect I’d really like to know.

   

Anyways, we stayed at the Double Tree (for the chocolate chip cookies) and enjoyed dinner and drinks out, a sweaty bike ride across the bridge to Mount Pleasant, wandering around the city, and catching up on all the things we needed to catch up on.

   

our bike gang

our bike gang

   

biking bridges

biking bridges

   

cheese!

cheese! in my new pink sunglasses

   

uscg. we got a wave

uscg. we got a wave from the passenger seat when it went back the other direction

   

bridge

bridge

   

more bridge

more bridge

   

even more bridge

even more bridge. i could not stop taking pictures of it. i love bridges

   

goombay punch reward for biking 10 miles

goombay punch – a good reward for biking 10 miles

   

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bahamas May 28th, 2013

views of paradise

views of paradise

   

I do believe I’ve finally sold Matt on the wonderfulness of a beach vacation. It only took 6 years of dating and a third wedding anniversary, but we’ve gotten there!! We spent our last 4 nights in the Bahamas on the Abaco islands on Guana Cay, staying at Oceanfrontier Hideaway in cottage #3 (serendipitously, one for each year of marriage). By night 1, he says, “I could get used to this.” And that is when victory was mine. Beach vacations for the win!

   

Getting there was no easy task — 2 flights, a taxi, a ferry, and a golf cart ride… But once we arrived it felt like time was put into slow motion, starting with our taxi driver insisting that we turn off our calendars for the next 4 days. It’s been a long time since that has happened — no where to be, no time schedule, no deadlines to meet.

   

We awaited our 5:30 ferry from Marsh Harbor to Guana at Curly Tails, on the second story outdoor porch, a palm tree for shade and some conch fritters and Kalik beer to pass the time and watch the lapping waves. Hello clearest, bluest waters I’ve ever seen, and that was without super vivid camera mode.

   

Maria met us on the dock in Guana with a golf cart. She gave us a quick tour of the island on the way to our accommodations. That consisted of pointing out the location of 2 bars, 1 restaurant, the guy with the necklaces on the side of the road, the grocery, the liquor store, and then the tour was done. What a simple, perfect little piece of earth.

   

Our cottage was a few turns down some sandy pathways off the main road. Go past the giant Poisonwood tree with the “do not touch” sign, and the old bulldozer that was brightly painted and covered in surf stickers, pulled off the road behind some palm trees and obviously unused for years, past the sign for Nippers bar, which we could already hear the music from, past the Old Guana Cay cemetery, and there we were.

   

The place was perfect – dense, jungly foliage and palms and lush flowers everywhere, and wooden boardwalks. Our cute little cottage had 3 bedrooms (one a loft) with wood paneling and tropical colors throughout, and four big adirondack chairs under a trellis porch, just waiting to be napped in. And the beach, which seemed to be ours alone for most of the trip, save for the giant pig roast party on Sunday, just one set of steep beach stairs away.

   

BEACH!!

beach beach BEACH!!

   

bluest blue waters

bluest blue waters

   

3 year anniversary!

3 year anniversary!

   

postcard from the island

postcard from the island

   

sunset

sunset

   

exploring the beach at sunset. this rock was brutally sharp. it's not easy being a model

exploring the beach at sunset. this rock was brutally sharp. it’s not easy being a model

   

Delta 4 rocket launch, as seen from the beach

Delta 4 rocket launch, as seen from the beach

   

moonrise over the beach

moonrise over the beach

   

On our first night there, we drank a bottle of appropriately named Barefoot wine on the beach. The sun had gone down, and the moon had come up (name that song), when all of a sudden a giant red, then white streak went across the sky. If you’re a Wasilewski, and you’re half of bottle of wine deep, the first thing you yell out, naturally, is “UFO!!!” It was right overhead of us by then, we started saying our goodbyes to each other, when it suddenly gave off some sort of burst with a white trail of gas coming off, I swear it was straight out of the Apollo 13 movie. Or actually, it was real life space stuff happening right in front of us. We later consulted the Twitterverse, when my searching for Bahamas UFO yielded nothing, I searched some more and it turns out what we saw was the Delta 4 rocket (military communications) being launched from Cape Canaveral. sooooo cooooool. Wish I got more than blurry iPhone pics. Maybe that was the fault of the wine though.

   


____________________

   

this is the stuff

this is the stuff. i kind of ate it with a spoon for breakfast everyday

   

sea. conch, feet

sea. conch. feet. interestingly enough, you should not try to hold up a conch shell to your ear to try and hear the ocean. the sound is there, but then gross, hot conch juice comes pouring out on your clothes and smells so bad that it makes you gag. watch out for that.

   

sittin on the dock of the bay

sittin on the dock of the bay

   

i so wanted to do an Ariel on this rock (Jill would understand) but it was all sorts of sharp and jagged

i so wanted to do an Ariel on this rock (fans of Disney’s The Little Mermaid would understand, skip ahead to 1:40)

   

palmy reflections

palmy reflections. i had to move Matt’s face around a bunch to get this shot perfect like it is. all in a day’s work

   

docks

docks


   

On our first full day, we went on a snorkel boat trip aboard the Isabella with our capitan Troy, Colin, a guy doing a scuba dive whose name I did not catch, and Dave and Kate from Florida. We snorkeled in 2 awesome spots for a few hours, and saw some grouper, a ginormous sting ray, HUGE sea turtles, lots of little crazy neon fish that I couldn’t begin to identify, hard and soft corals… but the highlight by far, and I mean BY FAR, was the Baracuda. Troy pointed him out for us, and we’re all watching this crazy big baracuda slowly swim by, he’s kinda looking at me and Matt, but not really all that interested. And then he SUDDENLY turned sharply towards Matt. It was so great. Then all I know is there was a lot of bubbles and back-paddling, and Matt was already far, far away in another universe. Wish I had sprung for the underwater camera, that would have been in the top 3 family videos ever. The rest of the time I spent looking for lost treasure chests, but unfortunately did not see any.

   

colorful trellis

colorful trellis

   

matt's hand is ginormous. but we knew this

matt’s hand is ginormous. but we knew this

   

selfie. CHEESE

CHEESE

   

i kind of want to meet this person who lives here

i kind of want to meet this person who lives here

   

weeeeeeeeeeee

weeeeeeeeeeee

   

beach.beer

beach.beer

   

palm tree. you can never have enough photos of palm trees

palm tree. you can never have enough photos of palm trees

   

The rest of our days were spent lounging on the beach, exploring the coral and rock formations, walking along the sand, napping (Matt to me: “I never knew you took your napping so seriously” the things you learn after 3 years), reading (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-weird title but best book I’ve read in a long time), laying in hammocks, drinking the red frozen drinks, eating ALL the conch fritters and fresh fish, exploring on bikes, taking millions of photos (film to be developed), picking out future beach houses we are going to buy (me), petting our friend Eddie cat, and just generally relaxing as much as humanly possible.

   

i could become a full time hammocker, I believe

i could become a full time hammocker, I believe

   

red drinks at Grabber's. we were warned about these, multiple times.

red drinks at Grabber’s. we were warned about these, multiple times.

   


One of us is a hopeless romantic, and one is just practical. You decide:  
me – “Hey we should write a message in our wine bottle and throw it out to sea.”  
matt – “but it’ll just wash back up”  
me – ohhh come onnnn  
matt – “what would we even write in there?”  
……..
   

   

sippin + biking

sippin + biking

   

hiiiii Eddie cat

hiiiii Eddie cat

   

pretty red Bahamian flowers

pretty red Bahamian flowers

   

   

Though the Bahamian bugs may have gotten the best of us, and our backs are quite sunburned, and we had too much rum, WE WILL BE BACK SOON BAHAMAS!!

   

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Tags: beach, bicycle, drinks, sunset, travel, vacation
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