NOLA

My last trip to New Orleans was for my bachelorette party. The time before that was for a high school choir trip. You can imagine how those two trips might differ.

For my bachelorette party, we rented a van, piled six girls in it, and met up with a couple others there. The first night we ended up at Harrah’s at 3 a.m after spending a few hours on Bourbon Street. It’s funny because you always read about girls flashing people on Bourbon street, and part of you thinks “nah, that can’t really happen,” but it’s a thing in movies for a reason: it actually happens. At 2 a.m. the bar we were visiting had a contest where two couples had to complete different challenges in order to win more drinks, because they obviously needed them. They played a few games, like “put the condom on the banana,” and “demonstrate your favorite sex position,” but it wasn’t long before it turned into “which girl has the better boobs” as both sets were on display for God and the entire bar. Surprisingly, about half the customers, including us, left at that point. At least at Harrah’s you can lose your money, but probably not your clothes.

IMG_1236
Slightly horrifying, but desperately needed.

Remember when recovering from a night out was as easy as a Bloody Mary, some water, and you were ready to go again? Those were the days. One of the locals in our group recommended we check out Deanie’s for brunch, and when I returned from the bathroom, I found the Bloody Mary I ordered was staring me down. It watched me try some baked Parmesan oysters for the first time (a deliciously bad idea), and have an amazing crab salad. The Bloody Mary itself saved my life that day, and my shrimp friend hanging out the side was eventually a tasty snack (once I had someone else shell him). That meal was probably my favorite of the whole trip, so when I head to New Orleans next week for the first time since, I can’t wait to stop by again.

However, don’t expect to see me out on Bourbon Street at 2 a.m. this time; I have work to do, and these days, I need more than a stare down with a Bloody Mary to save me.

Unwind

I’m dragging. In my twenties, it was not a problem for me to come back from a trip on the latest possible flight and skip into work the next day. One Vegas flight in particular, I landed at midnight, was in bed by one a.m. and was up for a three mile run by seven a.m. Today was a much different story. I set my alarm to get back into my typical (mostly) morning routine: run, coffee, get ready. That flew out the window at the first snooze. I surrendered and reset my alarm for another hour of blissful sleep that felt like ten minutes, and spent my time scrambling through the morning, which spilled over to the rest off the day. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. If I could tell my twenty-something self anything, it would be to enjoy your energy, because in your thirties, you will need a vacation from your vacation.IMG_2144

And thus, I leave you with the most relaxing view in all of Seattle: the one taken while sharing a toast with my best friend on his balcony a few hours before his wedding. The view is a little different than two years ago, and you can see all the new development going up. But for now, I choose to believe that in a year or two, he will still have the same view. And hopefully my next photo of it will be of sunset.

 

 

Capitol Hill

My first trip to Seattle was in July of 2009 to visit my friend who lives on Capitol Hill. This was also my first trip as an “adult.” I had just completed my Master’s degree, and in addition to it being a graduation present to myself, it was my first trip that wasn’t a family vacation. While heading to the airport and boarding a plane is business as usual for me at this point, back then it was the strangest feeling in the world to go through the entire process alone, including a connection in Oakland. But, I fell in love with the city on that trip, especially Capitol Hill.IMG_2686

At the time, my friend lived in a small, oddly-shaped one bedroom apartment with thin walls and an old elevator in a historic building called The New McDermott. It is on Bellevue near Pike, and was the perfect location for two early-twenties friends to find plenty of trouble. I remember being amazed at how you could walk everywhere. Those of you who have been to Texas in July know how impossible that would be. Well, not impossible, just no one would want to stand next to you once you arrived at your destination.

We probably walked around ten miles per day and drank half our weight (or more) in alcohol, but we saw and did everything. When you think of Seattle, you typically think of the Space Needle or Pike Place Market, but my stay on Capitol Hill showed me all the unique things the city has to offer: karaoke at The Crescent, fried chicken from City Market, pizza from Bill’s Off Broadway, brunch at Linda’s, and sushi from Ha Na, to name a few. The area has gentrified a lot since my first visit, with a lot of old buildings being torn down to build housing for the thousands who have moved to the area due to an influx of jobs with Amazon, but each subsequent trip I try to visit all my favorite spots, and find more to add.

We’re actually staying in a hotel this trip since we figured it would be rude to crash at my friends apartment during his own wedding. While I’ll miss waking up to his view, I’m excited to explore more areas of town! But, I’m already craving a huge plate of sushi from Ha Na; maybe I’ll have to go there first.

Market Fresh

We are under a week away from another trip to Seattle, this time for a wedding. We found an $85 dollar flight out, so we built in a little extra time beforehand to enjoy one of my favorite cities. The last time I was there for work, I had the chance to go down to Pike Place Market early in the morning before the crowds, get some coffee, and wander around while the vendors set up. It might be a major tourist attraction, but if you have the chance to go early, there’s not even a line at the original Starbucks. The only downside is not having access to a kitchen to be able to fix some of the fresh fish. It will be nice to get out of town for a little while, especially to Seattle.

IMG_2692

It’s Not Over Yet

The last major hurricanes to threaten the Texas coast did so while I lived in Waco. In the panic of hurricane Rita, which developed shortly after the destruction of Katrina, the entire city of Houston and surrounding areas attempted to evacuate at once. As you might have imagined, that did not go well. It took my family over twenty four hours to get to my apartment, normally a three hour drive.2005_rita_houstonevacuation.jpg

Three years later when Ike was threatening to make a direct hit on Houston, they made the same drive in similar traffic. With both Ike and Rita, my family was lucky that the hurricanes veered east enough to spare them any major damage, but especially with Ike, a lot of damage was sustained throughout the city. I distinctly remember seeing the blue tarp “FEMA roofs” adorning so many houses when I made my first trip back, weeks after Ike had hit.

I am so glad that no mandatory evacuation was ordered for us this time. That parking lot of cars you see above from the Rita evacuation? They would all be completely underwater. So many people would have died.

I described Harvey as a “zombie hurricane” on Friday, and that description has been pretty accurate, as he is still a tropical storm and is lingering along the coast. After devastating the city of Rockport, north of Corpus Christi, he is now devastating Houston with rain. The rain won’t stop, and it’s not going to for days. We have been extremely fortunate that we have only lost water pressure for a few hours, but never lost electricity, and only have a water leak in the drywall by our window. So many others have not been as lucky. One of my coworkers has lost absolutely everything.

If you are able to spare more than your thoughts and prayers for everyone here who has been through what is being described as the biggest U.S. flood storm of all-time, you can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, or donate to the Houston Flood Relief Fund, organized by the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt. Anything will help. It’s still raining, and the flood waters are not finished with the city yet.

Road Trip

I mentioned yesterday that I was busy planning and booking flights, hotels, and car rentals for my fall travel schedule. It always varies year to year, but this year I will be gone most of the end of September and all of October for multiple multi-city trips.  I typically fly a lot of places, but this year, since we are expanding and going to more cities, I was looking at ways to make things a little more economical.  Thus, I will be going on quite the adventure. MapIt turns out that the one hour flight from Chicago to Traverse City was going to cost over $300 alone, and the flight from Traverse City to Cleveland was going to go back through Chicago anyway.  Since I have the time to make the 734 mile drive, I’ll first set out for Traverse City, work there, then drive to to Cleveland, work there, and then fly home.  I better get a good car from Enterprise in Chicago, because it’s going to get some use!

I am pretty excited about this drive.  When I first started traveling for work, I rarely was able to fly anywhere except El Paso.  I’ve made the five hour drive to South Texas more times than I can count, and I’ve previously written about my meandering drive up to Amarillo.  While I love flying too, there’s something about setting out on the open road and being able to stop and see anything you want along the way.  We once did an overnight drive to Tampa, Florida and decided to stop off in Biloxi to play video poker at 3 a.m. just because we could.  We only regretted it later because, as it turns out, Florida is big!  It took seemingly forever to get around the bend and headed south toward Tampa. At that point, with intermittent sleep and three hours to go, a plane ticket sure seemed like the smarter choice.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to share with you about my many mishaps this fall, but for now I’m looking forward to October, cooler weather, and all the sights along the way.

STL

For the past couple of years I have been able to make an annual trip to St. Louis for work. My cousins live there, and growing up we would make multiple road trips per year to visit.  I found out today that I won’t be able to go this year due to scheduling issues, so I’m hoping that next year it will work out again.  I’ve been booking a lot of trips today, but wish one of those flights brought me back to this view.

IMG_7786