All posts tagged “road trip

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Weekend : Asking for it.

 

Fiat 500 me and the Fiat500. getting to it, getting to it…

 

As we have previously discussed, I have a jest a touch of social anxiety.

 

[Understatement.]

 

For example, the other day at work my boss offhandedly mentioned needing to get in touch with the building dog-walker because the friend that was cat sitting for her over the holidays would be away for a few days around Christmas. A few hours later I happened to be in the lobby waiting for the elevator when I overheard a dog walker arrive and mention filling in for the regular guy. Now a normal person would’ve easily walked over to her and asked about getting her or the regular guy’s contact info.

 

And so for 5 minutes I was a normal person.

 

Because I did just that.

 

And that was HUGE for me. Seriously, embarrassingly huge. I was beaming proud of myself for a half an hour.

 

It’s like, which is more embarrassing, right? Approaching a stranger being a huge deal, or wanting to tell everyone I know that I had the courage to approach a stranger?!

 

But in all seriousness, I realized that recognizing/acknowledging my achievement as such, was huge in and of itself. What I more often do is berate myself for being such a wuss—regardless of whether I take action or remain frozen with fear. So yea, apparently mental congratulations are apparently way more rewarding and motivating.

 

Because not two days later did I get even gutsier.

 

We were going away for the weekend on Friday, and on Thursday morning I looked out the window from the train at the parked cars and idly wondered to myself, Wouldn’t it be awesome if our rental car was a Mini Cooper…or EVEN BETTER, my personal reachable dream car, a FIAT 500?!

 

Well, as the Universe would have it, we roll up to Enterprise the next morning and sitting in the parking lot is a shiny white Fiat 500. Scott and I both ogle in unison and wonder aloud if it could possibly be a rental. He is convinced it belongs to a person.

 

“I’m asking,” I announce.

 

It has suddenly become glaringly obvious that it doesn’t really matter if the car is a rental or if we can rent it. (Though in my heart I’m already convinced it’s there for me and me alone.) What matters is KNOWING if the car is a rental or not. I knew I had to ask because the thought of sitting through a 3 hour drive upstate in a Ford Focus wondering if we could’ve been in a Fiat 500 was just unbearable.

 

And so we went inside and the second sentence out of my mouth might have been, “So, is the Fiat yours and if so, is it available?”

 

And you know what, ladies and gentleman [hi Scott], IT WAS.

 

SO THERE.

 

My question was greeted by a room full of grinning women (it’s a whole nother story about why I was happy to be in a room full of women but suffice it to say that a previous Enterprise rep who made fun of myself and my friends for chatting about a Fiat 500 3 years ago is something I’m still angry about), that were over the moon about renting me the Fiat.

 

And so we took the little lady for the weekend, and were honestly just as happy with her comfort and driving skills as we had hoped to be—but I’ll save the car review for another time.

 

And then, because I am on a fucking roll here people, I asked if it was possible to request the Fiat for our next rental New Year’s weekend. And it was noted in my reservation.

 

And THEN, between drafting this last nite and posting it tonite, I totally grabbed yet-to-be-stocked polenta out of a carton in Trader Joe’s because I wanted it for dinner, and dammit if they’d yet to put it in the freezer case.

 

Apparently, I’m breaking all the rules here people, so just try and stop me.

 

our little buddy

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Weekend : Road Trip

In the spirit of Wednesday, and the major FAIL that was to be last week’s working weekend (and I don’t mean wedding work, I mean 3 different real work jobs), I thought I’d post about how I did not work—on work or wedding—in July.

Funtime weekend #1:
One of Scott’s old bands had a reunion show that we drove up to CT for. It’s been a couple of years since I last slept in a car for a band, and I’ve never slept in a car with a member of the band. But I’m getting ahead of the story (which—like that day—is pretty monotonous).

We aimed to pick up our rental car and hit the road around 9am. The state of the rental car office should’ve been my first clue that it was going to be the loooooongest day ever.

When we finally got up to the counter, we were so lucky as to be standing next to the Most. Amazing. Transaction. Ever. Starring people who didn’t understand the stupid rules of rental cars. No, you cannot add a 2nd driver who doesn’t have a major credit card. No, you cannot pay as the 1st driver with a major credit card that is declined(!) and say you’re “just going to pay in cash when you return it.” No, at this point, complaining that you’re getting a Navigator and not a Tahoe is not a good idea. Let’s just said that if the Enterprise employees could pee in these customer’s soup (car seat?), they would’ve done it.

Alas, we never heard how it all ended up because our car was ready. Our first car. Whose front seat did not adjust forward from “gangsta recline.” Luckily we were able to switch the one next to it, which did just fine to CT and back. And while I’m bitching, let me just say something about Connecticut drivers. Wow. Unless there was some kind of “don’t speed today” memo that we missed, they give Florida snowbirds a run for their money. 55 and not a mile over. Plus as much rubber-necking as inhumanly possible for the slightest roadside excitement.

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Somewhere around 2:30, we got to the venue, where I discovered that waiting for a band to go on when you’re with the band might be even less interesting than waiting for a band to go on when you are (or are with) the lunatic that sits outside the door hoping to get a glimpse of them.

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But the pluses included getting to sit (on a chair!) inside the venue’s outdoor patio area blogging while the band rehearsed, and being looked after by a total doll of a venue owner who kept asking if I needed anything.

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And then we went to dinner at what was quite possibly the worst “restaurant” (snack bar in a bar?) that I have ever been to. The whole day was like National Lampoon’s 90’s Band Reunion, but this was really the worst. Honestly, it was so shockingly unbelievable that I couldn’t even get upset about it. They were out of everything and everything they weren’t out of, the cook—on his first and last day—had trouble making. Like had trouble making grilled cheeses and Caesar salad. I was treated to the saddest, barely toasted, BLT ever.

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And then we waited. And attempted not to drink too much since we were driving home that night. And waited some more. And mingled awkwardly with people Scott hasn’t seen in fifteen years and may or may not have hooked up with. And didn’t drink some more. One vodka soda and part of a beer and I was sober and bored out of my skull for about 4 solid hours of waiting, as a reunion of people we didn’t know and their toddlers swirled around us.

Did I mention by this point, my well-used phone which had already been charged once, had died?

So I played Angry Birds on Scott’s phone. And waited. And we manned the merch. And waited. And Scott drew things. And we waited.

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And then they played. And it was just like the rehearsal but with more people. Include a Russell-Brand-alike who was their biggest fan.

And after the set a kid (he was probably my age), came up to Scott and told him they played the first show he ever went to and he loved them. And it was adorable and kind of sad all at once.

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And then we waited.

For the last band who were the guys that invited them to play at this reunion of people who used to play in bands and now had a lot of toddlers running around wearing those punk rock baby earmuffs.

And then perk #2, when the last band played, I got to sit off on the side of the stage behind a speaker and hope no one noticed while I full on slept with music raging around me.

And then at 2am, we left.

12 hours after we had arrived.

17 hours after we left home.

On 5 hours of sleep (my bad), a protein shake, 2 eggs, and the worst BLT of my life, we hit the road back home.

And then an hour and a half into the drive, 1 awful McDonald’s coffee, and the world’s most expensive large fries later, we gave up. And slept in a parking lot. Of a different McDonald’s.

And woke up 3 hours later to dawn at a Connecticut McDonald’s and finished the drive home.

I didn’t get to stop at Stew Leonard’s, but I did get to see Scott play in a band.

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Wedding : Immersion

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This is how I feel almost every waking moment of the day.

 

I think it’s high time to admit that the wedding has taken over my life, as well as this blog.

 

At less than two months out, I don’t think that this is unreasonable.

 

But I’m still trying not to give in, I’m still trying to plan drink dates, and evenings on the town, and we are thisclose to buying tickets to see Bill Bailey two days before our wedding.

 

Denial?

 

Maybe.

 

On the blog front, I feel a bit like I’m drowning. There’s dozens of half-written posts floating around in my head… and in my drafts folder… in Evernote… on my phone… I’ve totally the lost the planned-a-week-in-advance editorial calendar I had grasped briefly somewhere around mid-June.

 

But on the other hand, the slight panic that has set in about how much there is to do and how little time to do it in has launched me into super get-it-done mode. 

 

Tasks are getting crammed into every waking moment that isn’t occupied with vital functions like eating, sleeping, showering, working, or daydreaming about our honeymoon (in the name of blog research).

 

I’m not sure what the point of saying this is, other than yea, that’s what I’ve got going on.

 

Hopefully this coming solid weekend of at-home productivity—after the last two weekends of reunions and day trips—will get me back on track with this here blogging thing. Get ready to hear lots more wedding (and a few other things) soon.

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Small city, big town love

It seems like this is turning into a bit of a travel blog. Kinda ironic considering I don’t really travel that much. But I guess I don’t blog all that much either…

 

I do love to travel, especially because home right now isn’t exactly in my favorite place on earth. That said, I’m still a bit of a homebody (something aided and abetted by my very domestic relationship with another homebody). This study in contradictions can be easily explained to anyone with an intermediate grasp of astrology by explaining that I’m a Taurus with Sagittarius rising. No, I don’t know how I manage either.

 

Well, this summer we went to two not terribly far from home places, that made for a nice change.

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Escape from NY over the Tappan Zee on a Friday afternoon

Callicoon, NY

 

Every summer my high school friends go camping along the Delaware River in upstate NY. This year the party was moved up river from Narrowsburg to Callicoon, which was totally sweet because we’d discovered the amazingly old-timey town of Callicoon on a liquor-procuring mission a few years earlier. And of course, the boy didn’t have his camera, and so, missed out on some amazing shots like this one:

 

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The Olympia Hotel, which has since been boarded up.

 

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The Soaring Eagle campground was fine (OK, the walk to the bathroom was looong), but the real highlight for me was our stop at the farmer’s market and a nice long dig through the flea market before heading home Sunday afternoon.

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loving the gorgeous poster

 
DSC_0538   one of the boy’s less creepy photos—the others involved clowns
 DSCF0503this Tiffany-style lamp sadly did not come home with us

  
I know it couldn’t possibly be more clichéd to love escaping the city/suburbs for a weekend in the country to go jogging through fields, swimming in the river, eating at farmer’s markets, and digging through antiques shops. But I do! I perpetually want to run away to the country.
 

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this pumpkin did come home with us

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Pittsburgh, PA

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Randyland

 

After the boy, Pittsburgh may just be the unlikeliest love of my life.

 

See, my surprisingly wise guidance counselor suggested Carnegie Mellon to me back in high school, at which I literally scoffed. I was going to Los Angeles. Kids are dumb. I was a dumb kid.

Then one of my close friends moved to Pittsburgh and I actually visited (en route, in fact, to Los Angeles with my car). And I kinda loved it. It may have been the unbeatable crepes. Or the cheap booze. Or the thriving Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Or how the coal mining capital of the world, was actually…sunny. But it didn’t take me more than a visit to just, like the place.
So now that I’ve been back 5 times, I really like it. Like, we found our future home like it. But first, on Saturday, we fulfilled one of my architectural must-sees (that’s two in one year!): Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater:

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It was just as fabulous as all that architectural history brow-beating makes it out to be. It’s…livable, bizarrely ahead of its time, and there were some cozy spots that I just never wanted to leave. I’ll attribute my approval of it with FLW and I’s shared size (he designed everything for the 5’6" person), and love of the earthy orange/green/brown color palette that the 1970s bastardized.

 

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The reason for the visit was to walk in FAAN’s Food Allergy walk in memory of one of the best friends a girl could have, who passed away in 2003 after an unexpected anaphylactic reaction. That was on Sunday, and we had great weather and felt proud to support this cause. (Although I maintain it was unfair to have sno cones and cotton candy as refreshments to those of us like myself who have food dye allergies! Sure, it’s a food additive allergy. And that makes us second class citizens!? Kidding.)

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After the walk, we continued the architectural love-fest with a Pittsburgh house tour. Amazingly, this was the first house tour I’ve ever been on, and I was surprised by how awkward it was wandering through strangers’ homes! (Or friends of friends, as our hosts wound up knowing a couple of the participants.) But there obviously were so many people doing the exact same thing that I quickly got over it. And wow, there are some awesome places to live in the city. I especially loved seeing how people handled very similar floor plans very differently.

 

 

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We wandered off the "official" tour houses and discovered "Randyland," whose pictures speak for themselves. Ditto to the Allegheny City Firehouse, which for a half hour, I strongly considered trying to buy.

 

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pc: www.firehouseforsale.com

 

Yay Pittsburgh!

 

Wishing I had photos to share of our last visit (crazy to imagine us without a single camera), when we visited the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, the Chululy installation at the Phipps Conservatory, and the Aviary.

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Asheville, NC: More than Biltmore

Our 24 hour trip was nowhere near enough to see much more than Biltmore, but we did get one little taste (derp!) of Asheville before heading back to Charlotte—on our previous nite’s waiter’s recommendation we headed to 12 Bones barbeque in the River Arts Distract for a late lunch. (They close at 4pm, so don’t get there too late, as one guy did and was very sadly left knocking on the locked door.)

The drive from Biltmore in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a one lane road through the industrial warehouse side of Asheville in excruciating sunshine was a mind-numbing 45 minutes (in addition to the 25 minutes it took us to get out of the damn estate). But it was totally worth it.

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It might not look like it could possibly be worth that much effort, but as the best things in life usually do, this one came in an unexpected package. An order at the counter and then sit at an indoor/outdoor picnic table sort of place, one of the best things about 12 Bones was the  random clientele—everyone from an elderly couple to Asheville’s best-dressed rockabillies and hipsters seemed to be there enjoying the food.

 

They served fancily-flavored bbq with local ingredients, local beers, and the biodegradable corn type of disposables. I had blueberry-chipotle ribs, various type of pulled pork were tried, and we all (especially my vegetarian friend – one portobello burger for her) gorged on amazing sides like mashed sweet potatoes and cauliflower and cornbread. 

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They also had several unconventionally flavored ketchups/mustards—between those and their marinades we could probably single-handedly keep an online business going. Just sayin’, if someone at 12 Bones is interested….

 

I’m definitely bummed that we didn’t get to explore downtown Asheville. I hadn’t expected to feel quite as out of place in NC as I did (though maybe it was just the retiree-heavy Biltmore), but the rest of Asheville seemed like the kind of place we could hang out for a while. I mean, so far as I could tell, their "River Arts District" had galleries in actual warehouses, not post-modernist hipster, but "this is a real warehouse" at $5k for a month’s rent…

I’d really love to go back and see more than just Biltmore. Not too long after we got back to NY did I find out about this awesome-looking shop through my day job (they want to carry Esopus!):

 

And one last plug for the awesomeness of Asheville–not to be left off the map, they have their own street style blog:

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We did take the time to take the scenic route back to Charlotte (and miss my friend’s concert because of it, but that’s another story), and it was also way worth it. You see, I have this habit of looking at a map and saying, "But this way will also get us there and it looks cooler." And you know what, it usually is.

 

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So the trip to 12 Bones was just the beginning of NC-driving-induced-delirium for us, as we were soon winding through the mountains at 30mph not quite sure if we would ever reach a "real road." But there was plenty to see, and plenty to laugh hysterically at. (Hickory Nut Gap, NC anyone?) Luckily our plucky little rental Suburu was up for the challenge. (Pretty sweet for a rental, I know. It took us 2 hours and the manual to figure out it was mistakenly in "sports" mode.)

 

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Some highlights…

DSCF9992Idyllic Camp…Crystal Lake 

DSCF9995 "Moonshine Junction"

DSCF9999 Chimney Rock…is up there somewhere…

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Lake Lure

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What North Carolina does for fun…

So a good time was had by all at Biltmore, Asheville, and ultimately Charlotte. (Though please don’t get me started on their fresh-from-the-frat club scene…)