All posts by Jenn

And then, we got to Arizona and everything was clear.

Last week, my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Butch came to visit.  We were trying so hard to find a way to get to them in West Virginia but couldn’t make our schedules come together.  Luckily, they came to us in Lexington!  They already had plans to visit some friends in Ohio and made a detour to spend a night with us.  We had a great time and, as usual, I only wish it could have been longer.

One of our problems in scheduling was knowing that a baby was going to be born very soon and trying to figure out how we would visit in Lexington AND get to Arizona to meet Daniel.  Brian’s sister Nora was pregnant and having some (relatively minor) complications that made it so we didn’t know when to head West!  The baby was due to be born on the 20th so we decided to leave on the 17th thinking that we would get there just in time.  Daniel had other plans and was born on November 16th!

This isn't his best look.

We left KY on Thursday and drove to Tulsa, then to Santa Rosa, NM on Friday night, finally getting to Phoenix on Saturday.  This worked out great because that was the day Daniel and Nora got to come home from the hospital!

Katie, Nora, Brian, Cara,(L to R) and Daniel

As we were driving through New Mexico and Arizona, Brian was marveling at the beauty of our surroundings.  Mostly, I slept and had ants in my pants.  I was very ready to get there and out of the car.  Also, I realized a strange thing.    When we were in Trinidad at the Playa Alcon, we decided to try some snorkling.  Brian and Walter went out first while I enjoyed the scenery.  Eventually, I decided to go.   AND I FREAKED OUT!  There wasn’t anywhere to stand or catch my breath.  Everything looked dead (because mostly is was) and I got water in my gear and and and and and.  I totally panicked.

Similarity?  It’s so open here that it’s hard for me to focus.   I know that it’s beautiful and it looks different than anything I’ve ever seen.  I do like it here but I’m not crazy about driving through the strange wide open.

Also, we tried the In-N-Out Burger.  Um, not so crazy about that mess.  I’m willing to give it another shot but really, not impressed.  I thought it was going to be awesome and instead, nawsome.   We made burgers at home that night with guacamole and potato salad and that was great!

Of course, Thanksgiving was great!  We had way too much food and lots of fun.  Easy, easy. I thought about the dinners happening with the Surbaugh’s in Lexington and the Teutschson’s in Seattle.  I hope everyone had a great time!

Monday is Brian’s birthday and Tuesday, we leave for Sedona and the Grand Canyon.  If it’s warm enough, we are going to camp.  I think it would be pretty amazing to wake up and have coffee there.   Later in the week, we are going to Little Rock to see Momma and Daddy (that’s Mr. and Mrs. Bracy to you) and then, I am really hoping, to Graceland.  All of this is to get to Lexington and Chicago for Christmas.

There is a Zappos outlet here.

We are still in KY.

I am joyfully in family, LuLu, and BBQ overload.

Nearly complete: Day 4 post Philip Morris breakup.

Also, I have taken to red lipstick and copious amounts of eyeliner.  I attribute that to staying in my Mom’s house,  I am needlessly rebelling.

I know all you really want are these photos.

Havana:

It's a scooter. Super scooter.

It’s a scooter with seats in the back, a cocotaxi.  Way fun transportation.

Cathedral Plaza, a square we found and kept returning to because it was so close to the place we were staying and because it was too nice being there.

Yes, it was touristy and I don’t care.  I loved it.

Walking along the Malecon, these kids were playing in front of their houses:

And these two in their doorway in Barrio Chino:

Outside the capital building, aptly named “Capitolo”.

Trinidad:

One bird, one banana.

Butcher shop. Trinidad.
Playa Alcon

Vinales:

Brian is quite the equestrian.

We tried to bring back honey from the farm that I saw this goat.  It didn’t work.

Doll Head Tree. Fantasy garden in Vinales.
Gardening shed.
The highway had a cattle crossing.

Back to Havana:

Athletic arena.
Lokie. My BFF.

Now, we are in Lexington.  Where this building is not.

Being stalked by Paula.

OLE!  Good friends plan weddings in beautiful places.  We stayed in Cozumel from the 8th until the 14th and had a great time!  The wedding was beautiful, sweet and perfect.

Sick right?

Matt and Diana rented a house for the week and held the ceremony there.  Amazing.  That is the pool and the ocean in the background but you probably figured that out.

After 4 days of sitting on the beach and ordering fruity rum drinks something had to give.  It was just too good. Tuesday morning, we were sitting around our hotel drinking coffee when we found out a hurricane was coming.  While the people we knew were trying to figure out what was going on, Brian and I came up with our own disaster plan and went to the hotel shop for chips, cokes, and a snickers.  We spent the day all over the place, hearing that the hurricane would downgrade to a tropical storm to hearing that it could be a Catagory 2 or 3 by the time it arrived.  What a mess.  Ultimately, it didn’t hit at all.  Well, not us.  It did delay our trip east for two days which was just fine.

After looking at the map, we headed to Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun.

Boohoo huh?  Yeah, we didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for ourselves.  It was ridiculously beautiful, we found the good food, and there was a hammock in the room.

Shamey shame.

That last post was SUPER lame-o.  A few photos from our Central NY time:

We saw Amish farms:

Cows.

Went to the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Ty! Wood carving.

And, since we were in Cooperstown,

My favorite!

After ALL of that, we went to Syracuse.  And once we were there…

First stop with Kevin.

then:

Awesome second stop!

Now, that is everything that happened between Montreal and Mexico!

When you’re this far behind, it’s not easy to catch up.

We just got back from Mexico and I didn’t even tell you about central New York and our delightful re-entry into the United States.

That may read like sarcasm but it is true.  What I can tell you now is that Syracuse was great and we spent the weekend with Brian’s friends Kevin and Melissa.  They were fantastic hosts and Kevin took us around to see the sights – Ithaca (possibly the BEST BURGER EVER) and some waterfalls.  It was beautiful and fun.  The weather was perfect, with the leaves changing and it was just starting to get crisp.  Plus, there was beer!

I’m sleepy-pants and will say more later this week.

Mexico and such was really unbelievable.

OH Canada!

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Seeing the lyrics, I can only think of college.  I went to Eastern Kentucky University, a very prestigious university specializing in partying way back in 1993.  Sometime in the early 1990’s it had been named by Playboy as one of the Top 10 party schools in the United States.  I’m still so proud.  More than the vast education I received at EKU, seeing the lyrics makes me think of my old pal and fun-mentor Mickey.  She was a friend of mine from Oregon that had come to Eastern to study to be a Fireman (woman?).   Anyway, as college kids do, we would keep the usual tabs on each others whereabouts and we always knew Mickey was back on campus when this anthem would be sung at top pitch through our dorm.  If you were out with Mickey you would eventually learn it as you sang it back to campus.  Why?  Who knows.

Quebec City and Montreal did not disappoint,  I now see why Mickey had such a fondness for the anthem.  One can only assume is was rooted in a love for the country.

This was one of our final views of Maine before we crossed over into Canada.  The leaves were changing and it was beautiful.  About 30 minutes later, it was dark and we eventually found the border.  It is REALLY far north.  Duh.  We got over the border with no problem, and were having a good laugh about the moose caution signs being in French when I nearly hit one.  I mean, nearly.  Close call.

Once we got to Quebec it was late and we passed out fast.  We got up fairly early and spent most of the day in old Quebec.  We went to the market, got an amazing feast, and spent the day wandering and enjoying a beautiful old city.

After this idyllic day, we woke up Friday morning and it was cold and raining.  Really cold.  Really a lot of rain.  And, for those of you that may be in the pool, the big fight finally happened (Day 86) sooooooo…   What I am saying is that it was miserable and we were too.  So we left.  TAKE THAT QUEBEC!

We drove to Montreal as fast as the Element would get us there.  AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

Except that the second of 2 cameras finally died.  And, I don’t speak French.  I forgot to mention that in the Quebec City part.  Turns out, when someone speaks the language of the French to me, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and it gets very dry.  Yes, I freeze.  Luckily, despite mercilessly making fun of Brian, he continued to practice a drill he found on his phone.  With that information, he ordered us coffee and found a way to buy us cheese.  It didn’t hurt that nearly everyone is bilingual and so very kind.  After one bonn-jooour out of my mouth, they switched pretty fast.  Thank you to everyone who didn’t allow me to attempt to butcher the language.

We did go to the Marche Rouge and bought all kinds of fruits and some bread.  There were these little mini tomatillo like fruits that we bought:

GROUND CHERRIES!

What are these things?  The one person I asked thought that they were called ground cherries.  They sure are a lot like tomatillo kiwis.

Before the camera broke, nearly all my photos in Montreal were from the market so, thats all I’ve got on that front.  We intended to stay Friday and Saturday night.  Almost as soon as we got into town, we decided to see if we could stay Sunday night too.  Then, on Saturday, we decided to stay Monday night.  This was another airbnb stop and we were super lucky with both the people that rented to us and the location. We couldn’t get enough of the area – there was just too much to see and we still didn’t make it very far! Mont Royal, bagels, lots of coffee, and a nice lady that got me an appointment to get my haircut are the highlights.

Sadly, we got up Tuesday morning and are heading to New York so that Brian can work a few more days and then we go to Syracuse!

Brooklyn to Maine

There is a lot to catch up.  I’ll try to focus a little and keep it easy.

We did go to Brooklyn, Kyle and Linda were kind enough to put us up for the night – it was really great to get to hang out with them for a bit.

The great and wonderful.

More exciting news?  A severe storm – a tornado? – blew through Queens and Park Slope, right where we were.   Well, Kyle and Brian were in Park Slope, I was a little north and Linda was in Manhattan.  Of course, we were all fine.  Lots of trees down and it it gave everyone something extra to talk about for the evening!

Before Brooklyn!

We left Brooklyn on Friday morning, ran back to Rob and Michelle’s and got the car.  The only goal for that drive was to get around the city and make it into Connecticut.

We got to New Haven after a few hours and hunkered down for the evening.  We got up Saturday morning to go to the Yale campus.  Mostly, I just wanted to see the Beinecke Library again.

Stark white outside...
Warm and smart inside.

That done, Newport, RI was next.  A word of advice: if you visit Newport, check ahead.  It is a very old and fun town on the water that hosts a lot of high-end events that really could put your costs through the roof.  Like a boat show. Still, I loved it there.  One night in and out – Boston!

This isn't quite what Rhode Island looks like...but it you get the picture.

In Boston, Brian and I got to hang out with my Top Pot BF Brendan.  He had just moved to Boston about a month prior to start law school.  He gave us the 3 hour tour of Kennedy’s Irish Pub- nice and easy.  Monday morning, Brian and I came back into the city for a few hours, long enough to grab some lunch and procure necessary provisions for car sandwiches and RUTH.

Beacon Hill, Boston

Ms. Ruth Moss is an amazing (understatement) woman.  BIG TIME.  She lives part of the year in Sorrento, Maine and part of the year in Seattle.  I actually had not met her before starting this trip but had been set up by Irene and  Wendi had told me that she was not to be missed.   I got to talk to Ruth on the phone and, intending only to come around for a bit she insisted that we stay the night.  And am I glad she insisted. We arrived later in the evening so we didn’t quite grasp where we were. There was chilled champagne and a beautiful spread prepared for our arrival.  She told us stories until well after midnight about the politics in the area and politics generally for the last 60 years.  Talk about with it.  This lady has it in spades.

Ms. Ruth

Ruth lives on the water on a peninsula on the coast.  Beyond beautiful and the most ideal place to have your coffee.

Moss Harbor
This is the view from Ruth's living room, no zoom.

Brian and I are still giggling over Ruth and her one-liners.   A few good ones:  “Oh! You’re both such big people!” (followed with “I’m sorry but you’ll have to use the other bathroom, mine is small, made special for me!), “Hey professor, I’ve got another lamp for you to fix.” ,  “I finally found what I’ve been looking for – a menorah for my Christmas tree!” and “Goddamn Republicans.  Excuse me. I told her not to repeat that at school. My granddaughter, she’s very smart.” !!

Somehow, despite an invitation to stay on longer, we managed to pull out of there and head to Bar Harbor. We went to Ruth’s favorite restaurant here, Galyn’s and had lobsters.  Perfect way to end our Maine days.

Sunset, Bar Harbor.

Tomorrow, Canada.  Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto.

D.C. to NYC

“You are driving a spectacle!”*

“I feel like we are sitting in a Goodwill.”**

“I might have gotten crabs.”

These are but a few memorable one liners from the past few days.  Brian and I left D.C. on Sunday and headed to New Jersey.  Via Delaware.  An acquaintance from Delaware told me once that I wasn’t missing much by not having been there.  She wasn’t wrong.

But first – finishing up D.C.  While in D.C., we did LOTS of touring.  Brian’s #1 stop in D.C. was the Newseum, mine was the Army Medical Museum, now the Health and Medical Museum.  Once a tour of bizarre medical curiosities, it primarily houses a lot of information on the progression of medical care on the battlefield.  I was hoping for the curiosities. There was (before someone deemed it un-pc) a large “Operation” type game that you could play to see how you would have treated President Lincoln after he was shot.  Seriously.  There are still fragments of his brain on display.  There are organs in formaldehyde and lots of prosthetic limbs.  It was something.  Interestingly, one of the more curious parts now of this museum is it’s location.  It is in a building in the labyrinth of Walter Reed (did you know that he is the person that discovered Malaria came from mosquitoes?)  Medical Center.  If you happened to be on your bicycle, after you showed your ID to enter the grounds, you could seemingly ride all over this huge complex.  Which led us to the National Zoo.  We rode into the zoo, looked for the pandas and elephants and rode on again. Friday basically turned into a long biking adventure.  We found the Thomas Jefferson monument!

On the last day, Saturday, we mostly rode around and tried to see how many things we could fit into one day.  I saw a sign for Dim Sum and after being denied a table we went into Chinatown and had the most amazing handmade noodles and dumplings.  Then to the Air and Space Museum and the sculpture garden.  We attempted the Archives but there was a long wait.  We found a place called RFD (Regional Food and Drink) that had a great beer selection and I finally got to try one that I had been searching out.

So, Delaware.  Home of Dogfish Head.  I am a fairly recent convert.  Because we were so close while in D.C., it seemed reasonable that we would stop by Dogfish on our way to New Jersey to see some of Brian’s cousins.   Delaware was not exciting and Dogfish was great.  It being that we went early in the afternoon, samplers were ordered and that was it.  The food was great and so was the beer.  On to New Jersey!   Sunday night, we stayed with Brian’s cousin in Sewell, NJ and had a great time hanging out with many of the Herrero’s!  They welcomed us warmly with food on the table, football on tv, and a cool place to sleep!

New York City!  We got to Manhattan Monday night after dropping off the car.  Brian’s friend Rob lives in New Providence, NJ with his awesome wife Michelle and adorable girls.  They let us park the car there while we are in the city.  We explored a little that night and started fresh on Tuesday. We are staying in the East Village and walked down to Chinatown and all around the Fulton Market, Battery Park, and back to Chinatown to eat.  We slowly made our way to midtown to meet Rob at the Gingerman (where * was said by Rob).  Five hours of reminiscing later, Brian and I took a midnight tour of Times Square then went back to East Village.

This morning, I got up and over to Brooklyn where my old pal Kyle met up with me and gave me a tour of some of Park Slope and some of Williamsburg.  It was so great that Brian and I have decided to stay another day.  Kyle dropped us on the steps of Aurora before heading home this evening and Brian and I had a delicious meal.  So, so good.  We walked around for awhile and stopped at the Trash Bar(**, ***).  On our way back to the apartment (thanks airbnb!), we were lamenting all the cool places around us that we weren’t going to have time to see or try.  Despite having an amazing meal, I couldn’t pass up how close the Momofuku restaurants were (we were practically walking past them from the train!) so we decided to stop in the Milk Bar.  Which turned out to be the Ssam Bar.  Either way, we tried the Steamed Buns and a desert called Blueberry.  That desert was one of the best things I’ve had in a long time as far as sweets go.  Then, we found out the Milk Bar was in the back.  So, we went to check that out.  After seeing the Milk Bar, I felt like it was pretty lucky that we hadn’t seen it first because – my guess is – if you’re gonna be stuffed to the gills, it should be with the Blueberry desert and a bun, not a prepackaged compost cookie.  Now, we gotta go to bed early as a pretty massive food coma is settling in.

Brooklyn tomorrow!

Cleveland to Washington, D.C.

You know that moment you realize that everything is going pretty well yet you are not doing what you should be doing?  I had it Monday morning and strong.  When I woke up EARLY I had that feeling.  Loud and clear.  And we hightailed it to Cleveland.  Well, sort of hightailed it.  Turns out I don’t really do anything fast and the time changes have been working against me.  I had made plans for us to have dinner with a friend who happened to be in Cleveland for a bit and, although late, dinner we had.  He was kind enough to offer us a place to stay that night as the only thing on my mind entering Cleveland was getting to the place with the food, the friend, and the beer.  Of course, after driving what seemed like forever this was a godsend and much appreciated.  It was a relaxing evening and an inspiring morning.  The property we were staying at was beautiful and, upon hearing that we were headed to Pittsburgh, my pal said “Oh, you can go to the Mattress Factory.”  You won’t be surprised to know that I said, “What is that?  A bar?”  After it was explained briefly, it took me under 20 minutes to pack my bags and get in the car.

Pittsburgh.  It just sounds gritty doesn’t it?  I imagined dirty and boring.  I was wrong on both counts.  That night (Tuesday) as we got into town, we drove in and I was wondering how, between these two empty hills, there was going to be a Pittsburgh in 2 miles.   Desolate -> Tunnel -> City.  A really pretty city, visually not unlike Portland.  I’ll give you that the Ohio River, majestic as it may be, is no Columbia River.  Still, I see the water and the bridges and automatically am alert.  We had dinner and came out to a major thunderstorm and called it a night.

Wednesday, we got up early to go to breakfast and get ready for the MF.  It was great.  So worth the morning and we liked it so much that we explored the city a bit and got, you guessed it, a very late start for DC.  En route, the traffic was ridiculous and the road is under construction 75% of the way.  One interesting thing that we did see was a car fully engulfed in flames on the other side of the highway.  FULLY.  One sad thing that happened is that my bicycle killed a bird (OR Brian’s, it could have been his too).  We were driving on the highway and the poor thing began to fly up, up, over the windshield, and….feathers in the rearview.  This seemed significantly more tragic than the inferno.

(People were pulled over to help and firetrucks were on their way –  I saw them.  Me + BB* = nowayjose.)

So, we got to D.C. Wednesday evening – just in time to meet our Airbnb hosts (our first time!) and head out to dinner.  We made a quick game plan for Thursday and were fast asleep.   Today, Thursday, was great!  Brian got our bikes in order and we rode to the metro, hopped on a train, and toured DC on our bikes.  Amazing.  I see what all the excitement is about (bicycling that is).  Way better to see things and get around.

Primary stop, Newseum.  All Pulitzer Prize winning photos are here.  A part of the Berlin Wall is here.  So much information about our freedoms – press and speech especially – are here.  Aside from the Pulitzer photos, there is a large exhibit about Katrina and another about 9/11.  The exhibits consisted primarily of the front pages of newspapers and and news footage.  All three were equally moving and emotional.  I didn’t fully make it through any of those sections.  Maybe it was too much at once.  Being such a visual person, the sheer volume is overwhelming and the imagery is too powerful.  I left with a heavy heart and a fuzzy brain.

We walked for a bit, got some lemonade and a sandwich and decided to hop on the bikes.  If we couldn’t handle another museum, we could at least ride around and see some stuff.  So we did.  We rode down to the Mall, saw several monuments, and rode around the White House.  For some reason, the White House really had a spell on me – I wanted to see it from every angle.  So I did.  This proved to be fun largely because I was convinced that around every corner would be another beautiful building.  Mostly true.

*BB = Burning Bomb