Tag Archives: travel

Austin Trip, Day 2


What is with this bed? I just sat down to bang out this quick blog post and I want to just lay down and sleep immediately. 

There’s not a whole lot to write about today.  We were in a conference room most of the day, but it was rainy anyway so I don’t feel so bad about not getting out. We’re staying at the Omni at Barton Creek, which is quite lovely. They are definitely playing up the Texas theme here. My room has a chair made out of a cow. 

 

Not a vegan chair.
 
I stayed at an Omni in Houston for an NFED conference a couple of years ago and I don’t recall it feeling Texas-y at all. I just remember the cool terrariums in the lobby and a wall by the pool that appeared to be peeing. It was nice though. 

Anyway. This evening we went to The County Line BBQ for dinner. Everyone was asking me what I planned to eat there. Honestly I had no idea. I would have been content to just munch on the appetizers and sides- there was coleslaw, potato salad, bread, baked beans (though I’ve always thought baked beans were gross). They made me a baked potato and two skewers of grilled vegetables. It ended up being a lot of food for me! And then they brought out the pecan pie. I did not leave hungry. 

Tomorrow we are venturing to a little town called Gonzales. Our company has a manufacturing facility there so we will get a tour and some lunch. It’s going to be an hour and a half ride on a bus. Yikes! Everyone jokes about how there is nothing there, but I just looked it up online and there are some cool historic buildings. 

I guess we’ll see! Now I am going to succumb to this giant fluffy bed. 

Austin Trip, Day 1


Hello! I made it safely to Austin. I am going to try to make this quick, as I’ve been up since 4 am.  Really, that’s only an hour earlier than usual wake-up time but somehow it seems extreme.

I always feel a bit degraded when I go through security. Shoeless, belt less (which for me means nearly pantsless), posing with my arms up in the scanner.  It’s just awkward. Actually the most awkward part for me is the scramble to put myself back together once everything comes through the X-ray machine. I usually gather my belongings and walk to a bench so I can put my shoes on without trying to balance my carry-on and my backpack all at once.

Anyway. For this trip I decided to bring some zentangle tools. I wanted to keep it light, so instead of bringing my sketchbook plus all my pens and stuff, I pared it down to a handful of paper tiles and just the essential pens. I remembered I had a little pouch I’d been given at the Denver airport, which just so happened to be the perfect size to carry all my stuff.

 

My travel Zen kit. Thanks for the pouch, Denver!

I also had two fresh Brené Brown books to listen to. The first one turned out to not actually be a book but a speech. It was called Men, Women and Worthiness, the experience of shame and the power of being enough. It was about shame, obviously, and how it is the root of a lot of issues that people have, such as perfectionism, addiction and even aggressive behavior.

While I listened to that, I dew a couple of zentangles. This one is my favorite of the day:

I’m always trying to use all the colors in one drawing.

The other audio book I had was The Gifts of Imperfection. I only just started that one toward the end of the trip so I’ll comment on that later.

So anyway, here I am in Austin. We went out to a wine bar called The Grove for dinner. It was really good and had a cool atmosphere.

I’m so beat now, I’m going to drop my phone on my face if I don’t put it down now.

So long.

Farewell.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Adieu.

 

Leaving on a Jet Plane (Again)


A quick update! I made it back from Vegas without any issues. I’ve been busy with work and with life at home since then. Meaning to post and then getting discouraged for some reason or another.

Right now I’m taking a quick break from housework and cooking before I start packing my suitcase once again. Tomorrow I am flying to Austin for meeting. I’d thought Vegas would be my last trip this year but alas. 

I do enjoy traveling and getting to see new and different places. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s definitely more fun when you can do it with someone else. I’ve gotten used to flying alone but it is kind of strange, especially when it seems like everyone else is with family or friends and they’re all happy to be going to some fun destination or other. 

I’m not particularly good at socializing with random strangers either. I pretty much never start up a conversation with the person next to me on a plane or in an airport waiting area. I’m not mean or rude. I smile and make eye contact and I might say hi to the person I’m sitting next to but that’s about it. God forbid I ever am seated next to someone who actually wants to chat. 

Sometimes I wonder what interesting people I might actually get to know if I wasn’t such a mental hermit. 

Ah. I’m in a mood today. I would like to write something deeper and more heartfelt. There are a lot of “feels” to write about. I am saddened by the terrorist activities in Paris, and in every part of the world where these things happen. I’m sad because my cousin’s wife just died from complications from a brain tumor that she’s been battling for two years. I’m frustrated that I  don’t feel like I am moving towards any of my life goals. If anything I am slipping off course. 

I downloaded two Brené Brown audiobooks to listen to on my flight tomorrow. That should straighten me out! 

Peace. Love.

Namaste. 

  

Vegas, Shmegas


Vegas. What can I say. It seems you can wear anything (or close to nothing at all) and it’s okay. Anything goes. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Hell, everyone here is flaunting it, but most of it you’d rather not see. 

Everywhere you walk there are homeless people. I’ve seen them begging, sleeping, or just chilling on the sidewalks. A lot of them are really young, like late teens or 20-somethings. 

Then there are the smells. I keep picking up on this distinct sense of putrescence but most of the time as you are walking by the casinos, it smells really good. I think I read somewhere that they pump out perfumes so entice you to come in. Of course then you get in and there is all the cigarette and cigar smoke in the casinos. It’s like walking into 1975. 

Most of the people who work in the casinos look weathered and miserable. Actually, the worst looking people I’ve seen are the ones who hand out the cards for the strip clubs. It’s entirely possible that some of them are crack addicts. I guess it doesn’t take much skill to do that job and they probably don’t get paid much for it. 

Today I slept in until 8:30 and ordered room service so I could stay in and do some work. I haven’t been feeling all that great the whole time I’ve been here. Luckily I brought my Excedrine so that is what’s been getting me through. So it was nice that today I didn’t need to go out until later. 

Later… I had to carry a box of giveaways and some other stuff over to Caesars for a cocktail hour that we were hosting. I wore a cute skirt that I bought on a whim when I was actually supposed to be buying pants. Minimalism fail…   Anyway, I got a couple of catcalls from some of the panhandlers so I guess it was working for me. Hahah. Werk.  

I look beat. And one-legged. I got it goin on!

So anyway, Caesars was ridiculous. Here I was silently making fun of the Paris for being so kitschy and then I arrive in fake Ancient Rome.

 
If my arms hadn’t been full of stuff I would have taken pictures of all the sculptures so that you could see for yourself, but I managed to get the above shot of some of the pools once I got inside. The place is massive.  

One of the hallways in the conference center.

I was thrilled with the food selection tonight. I was finally able to eat a good meal. For our cocktail reception, there was a salsa bar, which was delightful. Then the buffet dinner had mostly vegetarian items, so I did a dance of joy. It’s been a challenge to find food at the Paris which hasn’t been sprinkled with bacon or some other meat products. I guess next time I’ll have to stay at Caesars. (LOL)

Well I think that is about it. I didn’t do much exploring today. I am sure Vegas would be a lot more fun if Dave was here with me or if I was here with friends. Also if I didn’t feel like poop.  

Tomorrow I must rise early to get to the airport. I fly to Chicago and once again will have a very brief layover, so I hope that goes smoothly as it did on Sunday. I can’t wait to be home again. As much as I enjoy traveling and seeing different places, I definitely feel like I belong in New England.   

I’m going home soon!

Vegas Trip… Part 2


Whee… It’s 2 am and for many people here, that means the night is still young.  I’m kind of impressed with myself that I made it this far. If I was at home right now, my alarm would be going off to wake me up for work. Weird. 

Ok, so this evening we had to pack up our trade show booth, which took all of 20 minutes, but then consisted of waiting for another half an hour for the guys to bring out our crate so we could pack it up. Fortunately one guy was nice and he found our crate for us and brought it earlier than they would have otherwise. If that makes any sense. 

Most of my fellow employees had dinner plans with customers, so it was down to me and one other person.  We strolled over to the Bellagio again to look for a place to eat, but also to look at the fountains. We walked a lot.  Every five minutes someone was shoving coupons for strip clubs in our faces and offering us sweet deals for adult themed activities. Of course we declined. 

We finally ended up eating at a bar in our own hotel. Afterwards I convinced him to take another walk back to the Bellagio so I could look at the fountains again. (Honestly, I might just go back over there after I finish this blog post, even though I am in yoga pants and a tank top.)

 

I could watch all night.
 
While we were waiting for the next show to being, my coworker told me to have a look behind me on the sidewalk, where a bunch of people had gathered. This is what they were looking at:

 

Hey guys, I’m just gonna float around here for a bit.
 
The witch was a real person and not a statue or anything. Every once in a while she would move her hand or lift her head and look around. I know how this trick works, but still it was quite creepy to see. Plus, I am not entirely sure how the whole setup was balancing on that small end, unless it was actually shoved into a hole in the sidewalk. 

After watching another fountain show, we headed back to our hotel and met up with our other coworkers. A few drinks later, three of us then went out and checked out the Harrods Carnival Court nightclub, which was fun. Again, while walking, we kept getting propositioned for various bargain strip clubs and the like. We also saw an interesting array of people. I did not take pictures of them, but we saw a Hello Kitty, a guy in police shorts with rainbow-colored hairy boots, several showgirls, a pair of playboy bunnies, Alan from the Hangover,  and Marilyn Monroe standing over an air duct so her skirt was blowing up around her. 

Should I even be telling you this, or is it violating the “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” rule?

In any case, it was another interesting evening. 

Now I am back in the room, rehydrating. I was advised before coming to get a portable humidifier. So I did, and I think it’s really helping. Even my right eye (which usually feels like a raisin when I wake up) has been feeling pretty fresh in the mornings. 

My nightly hydration setup…
 
The only complaint is that the humidifier has an extremely bright blue LED indicator so it’s like blinding me as I try to sleep. My dad always says that light doesn’t bother him when he’s trying to sleep because he just “closes his eyes.”  Well for some reason even with my eyes closed, I can sense that there is light in my bed chambers and it displeases me. 

Ok. I really must get to sleep!

Vegas Trip… Part 1


 Yesterday morning I said goodbye to the pretty fall colors (and my pretty little Mazda) and embarked on a two-flight journey to Las Vegas, Nevada to help out with a trade show for work. 

I think fall colors look brighter on rainy days.
  

My flight to Chicago was uneventful.  Like, really uneventful. It was cloudy so there was nothing to look at out the window, and they didn’t even offer snacks with the beverage service. 

When I landed in Chicago I had just enough time to run to the bathroom before I had to board the next flight, so I couldn’t grab any lunch. Luckily I had trail mix and a huge bottle of water, but I was still so hungry. I bought a snack box on the plane. It had about 5 chips and this difficult-to-open hummus.  

Horrendously inadequate lunch.

At least on the second flight I was next to a petite woman and not a massive dude like I usually get stuck next to. She even got up to use the bathroom as we were flying over the Rockies, so I got some cool pictures. 

Somewhere in Colorado
  
Snow capped mountains magesty
  
When I got to Vegas, one of my coworkers was waiting for me at the gate, so that was nice. We shared a taxi to the hotel. I felt somewhat crappy at this point because I hadn’t had much to eat, and even though it was 4pm Las Vegas time, my tummy time was 7pm. 

We checked in and then went to the trade show floor to see the state of our booth. I grabbed a slice of pizza on the way, but it was too late. I wolfed down the pizza as we were walking. We spent about a half hour rearranging the booth that our other colleagues had attempted to set up. 

That evening, there was a welcome reception at the Chateau nightclub. I went back to my room to change and I was feeling so awful. I knew it was from not getting enough food and from being stuck on a plane most of the day. The pizza was just lurking in my stomach undigested. 

I made an attempt to do the nightclub. I got dressed up, I went all the way there and met up with more of my team. The pulsing lights and the smells of the food and people’s perfumes and aftershave was definitely not helping my headache, and by now the nausea was making its presence known. Luckily I made it back to my room just in time to toss my cookies (or pizza, in this case). Ugh. 

More times than not, flying makes me feel like death when I get to my final destination. It doesn’t even matter that I drink like 10 gallons of water on the way. This is why I don’t like to have any plans for the night of my arrival. I just need time to purge and sleep it off.

Anyway… Today I felt better, despite tossing and turning all night worrying that I was going to forget to do something before the show started. 

 

May I take your order?
  
After the trade show, I had a quick dinner with one of my coworkers, and then I headed over to the Bellagio because I heard that there was a conservatory and botanical garden. I was a bit disappointed because it wasn’t really a botanical garden but a fall harvest display. 

Look at my pumpkin!

I did enjoy taking a gander at the Chihuly sculpture that hangs on the ceiling of the reception area.   

I also caught a couple of the Bellagio fountain shows. The first one I saw was set to the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. That was cool. The second was set to some opera piece and I was cracking up because all I could think of was Adam Sandler as Opera Man. 

Dancing fountains.
 

It gave me joy to notice that all the bright lights in Vegas were still outshined by the nearly full moon.  

That’s it for now!

Shipping Up to Boston


This past weekend I made a quick trip to Boston to visit my youngest brother and some of my favorite NFED friends who were visiting from Canada.

Before I tell you about that, I must mention that this is the 100th post on EEC Chick! Party! Also, I have not forgotten about the Five Life Influences post series, and I will eventually get around to posting the rest.

All right, let’s go to Boston.

On Saturday morning I woke early and threw some things in my sweet NFED duffel bag and hopped in the Mazda and I was off! It was a beautiful sunny day and the leaves were absolutely glorious. I made it to Nick’s place in just over two hours, which has got to be record time.

Once there, we snacked (a love of snacking runs in the family) and chatted for a bit. I admired his Game of Thrones bobblehead collection. Just kidding, there was only one of them.

Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister

After we had eaten our fill of hummus, pita and veggies, we headed out to the Arnold Arboretum, which made me miss my days of landscape architecture and master gardening exploits.

Walk with me.
Walk with me.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love trees?

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Clearly this bench is meant for stargazing or cloud watching.

The arboretum also has a visitor center, which we explored. This contained an art gallery which had some stuff in it that I could have made in 7th grade. This made me miss my days of art pursuits and also made me think I should enter some of my work in a gallery because clearly their standards aren’t that high.

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This is the list of wildlife people saw at the arboretum. Does a chipmonk wear a little brown robe tied with a rope?

It was a beautiful day to be strolling around outside. A bit chilly, but that’s better than a bit hot, if you ask me.

A lovely day with my baby bro, who I accidentally called Babe at one point.
A lovely day with my baby bro, who I accidentally called Babe at one point.

After the arboretum we went to Starbucks to get some hot drinks and then we wandered around Faneuil Hall Marketplace and took a stroll down to the waterfront.

Sounds like our kind of show. Meow! Note Nick's reflection in the glass. Hah!
Sounds like our kind of show. Meow! Note Nick’s reflection in the glass. Hah!

We sat by the water for a while and enjoyed the colors of the sky, and the sight of seagulls dropping mussels onto the piers to get the meat out.

The sky was quite lovely!
If you come to Boston, Nick will greet you exactly like this.
No filter! Also, look at all the seagulls.

As we made our way back towards Faneuil Hall, we strode past Paul Revere’s house. He was not there.

Paul Revere probably never saw a Camry in his life.
Paul Revere probably never saw a Camry in his life.

That evening we met up with the MacDonald clan from the great white north.

Enjoying some Canadian company.
Enjoying some Canadian company.

Nick was delighted to meet the MacDonalds, even though our ancestors were from opposing Scottish clans.

IMG_4692
Cheese!

We had a lovely dinner in which we discussed everything from Canadian politics to Nick’s teaching aspirations to life in Honduras.

The next day, I drove out to the JFK Library to experience some culture and history with the MacDonalds. It was another gorgeous New England fall day.

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JFK Biblioteca
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Inside the atrium of the museum. Gorgeous!
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JFK’s sailboat, The Victura.

I just noticed you can see the flag inside if you look closely at the upper left of the above photo.

After we were thoroughly educated in the life and times of JFK, we said our goodbyes, and the MacDonalds headed off to do some shoe shopping for Norma, while I headed westward.

I don’t know if I should mention this, but I actually drove through some snow on the way home! It was so incongruous with the bright blue skies of earlier, but then again, I was driving through Worcester at the time, which is not known for it’s beauty. Sorry Worcester, but you know it’s true.

Well, that was my quick trip! It was so cool to see the MacDonalds in October. Norma commented that she is used to seeing me in summer clothes. haha. I hope they enjoyed their jaunt to Boston as much as I did.

Let’s do it again sometime!

Back to the Earth, I Feel It


Bonus points to anyone who can identify the song lyrics in the title.

It’s been over a week since we had our family camping trip in Vermont, but I wanted to document the experience for myself and all my fans. (Hi Suzanne, Terri and Janet!)

This post is going to be mostly pictures, because I took approximately 100 of them during the weekend.

It was a humid and sunny Friday night when Kris and I set out on our journey northward.

I applied several filters to this image but was unable to make myself not look like a ghostly apparition.

We drove for many hours and had deep conversation about the meaning of life, or at least the meanings of the current things that are happening in our lives. We stopped at the Vermont Country Deli  for dinner. It’s right off exit 2. We’re big fans.

After a few more hours, we arrived at beautiful Lake Champlain.

Sunset sky over Lake Champlain. Ah.

It was dark by the time we got to the campground, but we were able to get our tents set up quickly and then proceeded over to where the rest of our family had already gotten a fire going. We hung out for a bit but were soon sleepy and required some slumber.

Immediately upon lying down on the rocky ground, I regretted not bringing the foam mats that I usually have. Epic fail.

The next day dawned sunny and bright:

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Good morning, Lake Champlain!

Some family members immediately embarked on a kayak trip to the little island pictured above. It’s two miles away. TWO MILES.

And they got caught in a thunderstorm. Everyone survived, don’t worry.

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Innocently paddling away…

Meanwhile, back at the campsite:

They slept on an air mattress. 

It had been 10 days since the biopsy, so it was time to remove my stitches. Kris volunteered to play doctor. I gazed out over the lake and tried not to visualize what was going on. Of course it was over in an instant, and it did not hurt at all, even though I screamed dramatically.

Kris finally gets revenge on his annoying big sister.

One of our family’s obsessions is doing puzzles.  Ok, it’s mostly John and I who are obsessed, with Nick playing a supportive role, and Kris preferring to gaze out across the lake while holding a dish.

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Ignoring the gorgeous weather and scenery to focus on the puzzle.
Oh hey, it’s the American Revolution.
Despite failing to actually get to the Rally for Ally this year, John and I were granted lovely green shirts and we sported them proudly.
I spent part of one afternoon relaxing and doing some much-needed sketching. Oh, and there's my shy feet!
I spent part of one afternoon relaxing and doing some much-needed sketching. Oh, and there’s my shy feet!
Later, I relaxed in the hammock. Shy feet again.
Later, I relaxed in the hammock. Shy feet again.
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I built a little cairn. I like making them as precarious as possible.
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I found some interesting driftwood as we waited for sunset.
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We watched the sunset by the ferry crossing. Hey New York!

The final night it was down to me, Kris and Mom. After watching the sunset, we headed back to the campsite to make s’mores and hang out. As we sat there talking, I noticed a bright orange blaze in the sky. My first thought was that it was a fire, but it’s location didn’t make sense. Suddenly we realized it was the moon! It was peeking over the horizon like a ball of fire. I desperately tried to capture the beauty of it with my phone camera, but, if you’ve ever tried taking a picture of the moon, you know how that goes.

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I begged my phone to take a decent picture of the moon but this was the best it could do.

We took turns looking at it through the binoculars. The mountain that was between us and the moon has wind turbines across the ridge. Through the binoculars you could see the turbines silhouetted against the moon. It was SO cool.

That night it was so windy that I kept waking up thinking it was torrential downpour. When I woke up in the morning I could hear the waves crashing against the shore. We packed up our stuff and had breakfast with Mom before setting out on our journey home.

The weekend away was definitely a nice break. I didn’t “unplug” as I had intended to, mostly because I was using my phone to take pictures the whole time. Even so, it was relaxing to be in the wilderness…

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The Mazda’s first camping trip.

Ok, so it wasn’t really THAT wild, since we drove right up to the site, but once you get down to the lake, it’s very wild and unruly. And did I mention gorgeous?

Did you figure out the song lyrics?

Rusted Root, Back to the Earth.

Home Again


It always feels good to come home. Mom and I bade farewell to Colorado yesterday. We left the resort at 6:30 in the morning and drove to the Denver airport. The sun was in my eyes the whole way and I was irritable but I managed to get us there in one piece. 

We were able to board early enough to get a window seat this time (well, I got the window). What kind of a jerk makes their mother sit in the middle seat? Me.

The Denver Airport from the runway.
  
Rocky Mountain High
  
A midwestern state, don’t ask which one.
  

We took off into a cloudless sky. I was able to take a lot of cool pictures and enjoy the scenery for a long time. The flight passed without incident. Once again, they warned us that there would be turbulence but there was none. When we got to Hartford, Dave was waiting for us. He looked especially handsome. 

Mom and I parted ways, but I will get to see her again by the end of the week since we are camping together. After we got home; Dave, Dad and I went to dinner at our local favorite, Señor Panchos. I regaled them with tales of exploring Colorado and of my friends from the NFED. Both of them were tired from refinishing floors earlier in the day so they probably wished I would just be quiet. 

Today was back to the grind. I was thrilled to learn that my co-worker who had given her two weeks’ notice the week before I went to Colorado had decided she wouldn’t leave after all. I had been trying not to think of it during my vacation but was rather stressed at the idea of having to take on more work or train someone new. So that was a relief. 

It was a bit hard to concentrate at work today, because my head was full of mountains and clouds and thoughts of my friends and all the conversations we had last week. Of course I am glad to be home with my man and my feline children, but a part of me is sad that I won’t see most of those people for another year or more. 

I’m thinking I might have to take at least one road trip to visit those who are within a few hours drive. But for now I will enjoy being home. Perhaps my next project will be to redo my gardens.  

My gardens are out of control.
 

 

Colorado Trip, Day 1 – Arrival


We’re here!

I said I would write each day, so here we go.

I am currently sitting on the couch in our suite at the Best Western. Luxurious, I know. We’re only paying $40 for tonight because when we got here they did not have a reservation for us. Thanks a bunch, booking.com! Fortunately they had this suite left so that’s what we got at a discounted price. Good thing too, because I was ready to check in and put some eye drops in.

East Coast chickie rocking a Kentucky shirt in Colorado

So today was the usual travel scene. Our flight was delayed out of Hartford, but not by much. We took a detour over Canada (Ontario I reckon) because of the storms in the Midwest.

The flight was a bit uncomfortable. I was in the middle seat and the girl on my right, this skinny little teenager, kept playing elbow wars with me over the arm rest. Also, she kept the shade closed during takeoff so I did not get to fully enjoy my favorite part of flying. Hello!

Southwest does allow you some cool visuals to track your flight though!

Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?

Anyway. We’re finally here. It’s only about 10:30 here but I am still running on east coast time so I’m pretty pooped. Actually, I’d be pooped at 10:30 east coast time anyway, who am I kidding.

Tomorrow the plan is to head down to the Colorado Springs area and check out Garden of the Gods. I promise to take lots of pretty pictures!