Courtney and I were up at 4:00AM to catch our 6:00AM flight to Denver. We freaked out a bit when we saw the security line snaking through the airport with just over an hour to go before boarding but the line moved very quickly and we had no problems with the direct flight that got us to Denver at 7:00AM Mountain Time. We rented a car and took off for the mountains. We drove about 1 1/2 hours to Rocky Mountain National Park. We stopped for breakfast at Estes Park – the last town before going up into the park and had a good hearty breakfast at a local diner kind of place called Mountain Home Cafe. We then hit the road going up up up stopping briefly at the welcome center, stopping at various look out points and gawking at the amazing scenery. We followed Trail Ridge Road – listed on the national register of historic places for being the highest paved road in continental US – up to as high as you can go. It was very difficult to hike at all due to the elevation and given that we just got there and weren’t used to it so we mostly just took it all in. I did manage to walk up some grueling stairs to get up to over 12,000 feet. We took the same way down through the park and then cut over to Boulder where we were staying. We got to our AirBnB around 3ish, unpacked and relaxed for awhile. We met my cousin Julia and her family at Bohemian Biergarten in downtown Boulder off Pearl Street. It was great to see Julia and Hampton and especially Anna who was just learning how to walk. Hampton was off to see the Dead and Co who was playing a show in Boulder but we were able to spend a few hours with Julia and Anna catching up and playing. After bidding our adieu we had dinner at The Kitchen which turned out to be just around the corner from the bar. We sat at a table on the street, watched the people walk by and had a great bottle of rose, oysters, fish tacos and a crab cake. Perfect. We walked up and down Pearl Street after dinner and went back to our place as we were tired from a long day. After a nice moonlit hot tub we were quick to fall asleep.
Sunday, July 7th, 2019
After a great night’s sleep, an early hot tub and a nice breakfast chez airbnb we headed to Boulder’s flatiron mountains for a morning hike. It was just a 15 minute drive away and we hiked up up up for the first 30 minutes or so which was still tough for our Midwestern lungs, but once we made it up there were nice trails through the woods and beautiful scenery everywhere. We hiked down a different path that led to Boulder’s Chautauqua, a relative of the NY Chautauqua. We walked around the grounds checking out the early 20th century buildings, nice little cottages and great gardens. We headed into downtown Boulder and had a leisurely lunch at West Flanders Brewing Co. sitting outside again enjoying the passing crowds. We stopped at Whole Foods to get provisions for the evening festivities and headed back for a rest. Our real reason for coming to CO was to go to Red Rocks to see The Avett Brothers and Lake Street Dive who were playing this night. It was about a 45 minute drive and got there plenty early to tailgate for a bit, take our time wandering up to the venue and enjoying the pre-game festivities. Red Rocks was beautiful and the concert was great. We’ve seen both groups many times and think they were both at their best. The setting I’m sure brings out the best in everyone. Bucket-list item: checked off.
Monday, July 8th, 2019
We slept in after getting home pretty late the night before. We decided to head up the mountains to the little town of Nederland. It was a scenic drive up the mountains marveling at every turn the rushing rivers, steep cliffs and mountain views. The road was under construction for most of the way so it made it extra treacherous avoiding all the equipment. Once we got up to Nederland we drove about 10 minutes out and hiked at an area called Mud Lake. We had a good hour and a half hike through the woods, lakes and mountain views. It was nice and not crowded. We then went down and walked around the little hippy town, had lunch and a beer and a great BBQ place and then headed back down to Boulder going a different way. We relaxed for a few hours and then hit another couple of Boulder Breweries. We went to Upslope which was just a mile or so from where we were staying. A little place in an industrial park. It had a great vibe and we had some great beer. We next went to Avery Brewing which was a humungous place that several people told us to go to. We put our name in for a table, got a beer from the bar, and did the self guided tour of the brewery. We didn’t wait long and had a nice dinner and more great beer.
Tuesday, July 9th, 2019
Our flight home was in the early afternoon so we enjoyed the hot tub one last time and packed up. We stopped for one more hiking excursion at Eldorado Canyon State Park. Once again – amazing scenery, trails and mountains. We spent an hour checking out the rushing water going through the canyon, the huge vertical cliffs and the completely crazy mountain climbers scaling straight up. We made it to the airport with no trouble. Returned the car and made it back to CLE with no troubles.
Courtney and I wanted to go on a trip to celebrate our anniversary so we found a cheap direct flight to Savannah a few weeks ago and decided to spend a long weekend there as it’s always been somewhere we’ve wanted to visit. We both took the day off work and worked around the house as our flight was not until 5:00PM. Sophia drove us to the airport and we had no trouble with the flight, car rental or finding our AirBnB. We found a condo in the middle of the historic district which turned out to be nice and a perfect location. We settled in and hit the street around 9:00PM looking for a late night spot. We walked a couple blocks down to the Grey which we really wanted to check out and lucked out and found two seats open at the bar – we tried to get a reservation weeks ago but the whole weekend was booked. Grey is a rehabbed Greyhound station that is now a trendy new southern place. We recently watched an episode that focused on their young African American female chef on Netflix’s Chef’s table. The place was very cool and we had cocktails, oysters, pimento cheese and crackers and fried chicken with biscuits and gravy. All great. We walked downtown towards the river after dinner checking out the old warehouses, bars and restaurants everywhere and made it back around midnight.
Saturday, May 11th, 2019
We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. We had breakfast at a place called J. Christopher’s a few blocks away. We sat outside enjoying the nice weather and had a big breakfast. We walked through the Colonial Park Cemetery which was beautiful with huge dripping trees and hundreds of year old gravestones and crypts. We started exploring the area goggling at the beautiful houses, gardens and squares that have all been well maintained. The live oaks with the hanging moss that are everywhere are amazing to behold. We walked down to Forsyth park, checked out the farmers market that was going on there, stopped and got some coffee and sat on a bench in the park people watching and soaking in the sun. We continued exploring the area, visiting each of the squares and went on a guided tour of the Mercer Williams House which is a 19th century mansion that was rehabbed in the 70’s by a wealthy art dealer – and part of the novel and movie Midnight in the Garden of Evil. We were checking out the impressive Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) store and somehow managed to join one of their school’s admissions tours that started in the store. Now we have been on dozens and dozens of college tours throughout the years and this one was quite amazing. It was like you were at Disney World with secret doors opening up, projections, special effects. It was crazy. The story of SCAD is pretty interesting though… started only in the late 70’s it is now the largest design school in the country and was a big part in the recent revitalization of Savannah. We were looking around for a spot for lunch and ended up in the City Market sitting on a patio in the sun, listening to a band, drinking beer and eating bar food. A nice way to spend the afternoon. After a nice rest we went to dinner at Husk which was just a block around the corner. The original Husk is in Charleston, but they recently opened places in Savannah and Atlanta. The restaurant was gorgeous in a beautifully restored mansion and we had a great table. We shared some fresh shrimp as an appetizer and I had pan fried catfish on spring vegetables and Courtney had pork loin over farro. All great.
Sunday, May 12th, 2019
Unfortunately I got sick overnight with flu like symptoms and didn’t get much sleep. Thankfully it didn’t last too long and I was feeling better enough by late morning to hit the rode. We drove to an old plantation about 30 miles out of Savannah. Wormsloe plantation is know mostly for it’s amazing mile long allee of live oak trees. The trees did not disappoint. A spectacular sight. We walked around the ruins of the 18th century plantation that was set on the river enjoying the views, the tropical vegetation and the quietness. After spending a few hours there we headed to a recommended restaurant called The Wyld Dock Bar which was a super chill place in the middle of nowhere on a dock. We waited for about a half hour having a beer and playing bean bags and then had lunch at a perfect table on the dock looking over the river. The food and drinks were A+ too. Great find. We headed back to Savannah and had a rest. We walked around some more in the evening admiring the gardens, squares and the trees, not really too hungry, but ended up eating at a diner place late night.
Monday, May 13th, 2019
We had leisurely breakfast at a coffee shop down the street and then checked out of the airbnb. Our flight was not until mid-afternoon so we had some time to explore. We drove to Bonaventure cemetery about 30 miles outside of town and walked around for an hour admiring the crumbling graves and crypts and the old trees. We then drove another 30 miles to the coast to Tybee Beach and said hello to the ocean and went for a nice long walk. We had one last beer at a little place on the beach and then hit the road to the airport and made it back to CLE in no time flat. Fun trip.
Grace and I went on a spring break trip to NYC. I haven’t been to NYC in 15 or so years and Grace has never been so we were excited for an adventure. I woke up at 4:00AM for our 6:30 AM flight, showered, got ready and then saw message that our flight was delayed an hour and a half. We went back to sleep for an hour and then Courtney drove us to the airport and had no troubles on our quick flight to Laguardia. We bought our subway cards at the airport and then took a shuttle bus to the nearest subway stop and then took the subway into Manhattan. It only took about a half hour and only cost $2.75. We were staying at Pod51 on East 51st and 2nd Ave in midtown – just a block and a half from subway stop. We were able to check in early to our tiny little room, dropped our stuff off and hit the pavement by 11:00AM. Our first stop was Essa bagel, just down the street where we waited in line for about 1/2 hour. I had an everything bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese bacon and onions. Best bagel ever. We walked downtown on Lexington happy to be exploring. We went into Grand Central, explored, gawked and then caught the train to Hudson Yards. Hudson Yards is a new development that just opened up a few weeks ago. We climbed the Vessel – an M.C. Escher-ist sculpture? photo op? stair master?… whatever it is its pretty cool and has amazing views. The new buildings surrounding the plaza are all impressive and the soon to open shed looks amazing. Billions and billions of dollars. We walked through the mall with lots of glitzy stores, bought a few things at the Japanese store MUJI and then hit the high line which started next door. Walked the high line enjoying the architecture, art and people; walked through the Chelsea Market half way through; bopped into the Diane Von Furstenberg boutique where there was an exhibit by Ashley Longshore that Grace was excited to see. Walked the rest of high line and checked out the Whitney museum, walked around the meatpacking district for a bit and hopped back on the train back to the hotel for a much needed rest. After sleeping for an hour an a half we hit the happy hour trail – took the subway down to the East Village and went to Upstate that was on our list of $1 happy hour oyster spots. I had a half dozen oysters and a glass of champagne, Grace had a beer and then had clam linguine and I had some crab cakes. The food and atmosphere were great. We walked around the neighborhood for a bit and then stopped at a little place called Maiden Lane and had another drink and people watched and then went to Rue B which was our original destination as they were advertising jazz with no cover. We had one drink but weren’t feeling it – especially when they told us we had to pay a cover – so took off on the subway to walk through Times Square and then walked back to our hotel. Total miles walked: 12.2
Tuesday, March 26th, 2019
Our little hotel offered free walking tours every morning so we decided to go on the one this morning that was going to the lower East side and Chinatown. After a quick breakfast at a coffee shop around the corner it was a long subway ride downtown as there were traffic problems in the city. The tour was good – we went to places we never would have gone to, learned a lot about graffiti and the history of Chinatown. On our tour guides suggestion we went to Xi’An Famous Foods in Chinatown for lunch. We had bowls of noodles that were fresh, spicy and delicious. We hit the pavement again and walked south walking back through Chinatown, exploring the area around City Hall and then doing what was #1 on my NYC list: walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was of course beautiful, full of people and the views were great on a bright sunny day. We walked all the way across into Brooklyn and took the subway back to Manhattan to the World Trade Center area. We walked through the Oculus – amazingly huge and modern – like you are in a Star Wars movie. We got lost in there trying to find the way out but eventually made it out to ground zero to check out the memorial fountains and the plaza. Serene and powerful. The sky was bright blue just like that fateful day. Hard to imagine. We walked further down to Wall Street, checking out the famous buildings and banks, found the graveyard where Alexander Hamilton and Eliza were buried and wandered over to the 1/2 price ticket booth that was down there and bought some show tickets for that evening. Took the train back to our hotel for a quick rest and then walked to Broadway. We saw The Band’s Visit. Never heard of it before but it sounded interesting and we got pretty good seats for a good price (NYC prices that is). It was great. Very different kind of musical. Relaxed, cerebral, great music and great story. It’s coming to CLE next year and I for sure would go see it again. After the show we walked through Times Square a little bit and then went back to our midtown neighborhood and had a late night dinner at Cornerstone tavern – a sports bar on 2nd Ave around the corner from our hotel. We stopped for cookies at Insomnia Cookies and then crashed. Total miles walked: 10.8
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019
We woke up early and took a quick subway ride to the ABC studios on W66th as we had tickets to be in the audience for The View. We got there around 9:30AM, stood in line for awhile and after going through security they herded us into the cafeteria where they had a Starbucks so we had breakfast. We sat with a couple of NYC women who were hilarious. They were secretaries for HBO and one was a comedian and they were ripping on everyone. We made it into the studio and was part of the live broadcast which was fun. Stacey Abrams was the guest which was cool and we got a copy of her book too. After the show we walked to Central Park right next door. We met one of Grace’s friends from school who lives right there and we walked all around Central park with her on another beautiful early spring day. We walked through the Plaza, ate lunch in the bougie food hall underneath the plaza and then went to Grace’s friends family apartment which they just moved into and was very nice. We said goodbye and walked around the area some more, went into MOMA but decided to just walk around the grounds instead of going in the galleries and then walked back to our hotel for a rest. After our siesta I went to Crave Fish Bar, a bar a few blocks away and had some oysters and a beer. Grace met me there and then we went down to the East Village as we had tix to a comedy club later in the evening. We stopped and had dinner at a bar down there somewhere that I don’t remember the name of. The comedy club was fun. There were all different comedians each doing their schtick for about 20 minutes or so and then it kept going. We were right in the front row but just got picked on a little bit. We stayed for about an hour and a half enjoyed our minimum of two beverages. We wandered around the village for awhile, stopped at Momofuku milk bar and had the cereal milk ice cream and cake truffles. OMG. Hopped on the train back after a fun night.
Total miles walker: 9.5
Thursday, March 28th, 2019
We packed our stuff up and checked our bags with the hotel and hit the streets for one last morning. We went to a place called Remi Flower and Coffee that Grace wanted to go to a few blocks away. It was a combined coffee shop and florist. It was pretty cool. Grace had a lavender latte that was beautiful. We walked and walked all morning. Walked to the NY Public library that unfortunately wasn’t open yet, walked through Bryant park that was very spring like, and then walked through the fashion district looking for Mood – which we couldn’t find. We walked through Macy’s which had a flower show going on and then down to Union Square and did a bit of shopping at a couple of places. We had an early lunch at Shake Shack in Madison Park and then walked all the way back to our hotel – another 20 blocks. Grace wasn’t too happy with me that I made her walk. We collected our bags, hopped on the subway and made it to LaGuardia in plenty of time and back to CLE with no troubles. Fun trip.
Grace organized a group of us to go to the Women’s March in DC. Grace picked up Sophia at school at 1:00 and then picked Jack and I up in University Circle and we were on our way. We drove to Pittsburg to pick up Grace’s friend Taylor and then had a not so fun ride through the mountains in dark, foggy and rainy conditions. We made it to DC around 9:30 and quickly checked into our digs at the Hotel Harrington. We hit the streets for a night monument walk. We walked through the debris of the Right to Life march that occurred that afternoon and then walked past the Washington Monument, WW2 monument, Korean monument, and strolled down the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Little did we know that just a few hours earlier the infamous standoff between the MAGA Covington boys and Native Americans was going on right there. We then took the route back walking in front of a dark white house. Washington was almost deserted. Kind of creepy. We didn’t get back to the hotel until 11:30 and then had some drinks at Harry’s Bar at the Hotel Harrington that was actually hopping with a bunch of DC millennials.
Saturday, January 19th, 2019
We all slept well, had a quick breakfast at au bon pain and hit the pavement. The Women’s March changed locations about three times over the past week because of the government shut down and the political infighting of the group and the final location was actually just a block away from our hotel. We got there around 9:30 and enjoyed walking around looking at the signs and enjoying the positive atmosphere. The crowds quickly grew and grew and the march finally took off around 10:30 going down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Trump Hotel and then looping back around 2 blocks. It took about two hours as there were so many people and log jams. It was a great experience and it’s great that the weather held out as rain was threatening the entire time. We hung out at the stage for a short time – not really into listening to the speakers. Everything was still closed because of the government shut down so we walked down the other end of the mall and then went for a late lunch at Matchbox on 7th and H. The girls went shopping for the rest of the afternoon and Jack and I slept. We had dinner at Capital City Brewing Company and then hung out at the hotel for the rest of the night as it was pouring rain. Grace and Taylor had another fun night at Harry’s bar and didn’t come back to their room until late.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
We had a good breakfast at the old school Lincoln Waffle shop around the corner and then hit the road around 10:00. We made it to to Pittsburgh and back to Cleveland before 5:00PM luckily avoiding the bad weather that stalled for awhile. A fun quick road trip.
We make this vegetarian gluten free gravy every thanksgiving as a second gravy option because everyone needs gravy on their mashed potatoes and stuffing for Thanksgiving. I use vegetable broth instead of turkey broth and leave out the tarragon because I don’t like tarragon.
Mixed Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy
Bon Appetit – 2010
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (PJH: I use just 1/2 – 1 ounce as they are so pricey)
4 1/4 cups Ultimate Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth, divided (PJH: I use vegetarian broth to keep in vegetarian)
1/2 cup crème fraîche
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Place dried porcini in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini to small bowl. Cool porcini, then chop. Pour porcini soaking liquid into medium bowl, leaving sediment behind.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Stir 15 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add vermouth to skillet; boil 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Add 4 cups stock, fresh-mushroom mixture, porcini, and porcini liquid. Boil 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraîche. Stir 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in bowl to dissolve; mix into gravy. Cook until gravy coats spoon, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.