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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Total miles walked: 8.2
Friday, September 21st, 2018
Courtney and I both took a needed day off for a long weekend adventure. We have been casually biking the Ohio and Erie towpath trail for the past two years. The only part we had left was the very southern end which is almost an hour and a half drive away. So we decided to make a weekend of it, find a nice place to stay and knock it all off at once. The furnace people showed up right at 8:00AM as scheduled for boiler maintenance and were gone by 9:00 and we hit the road. We stopped at the new Whole Foods that just opened up on Harvard/271 and stocked up with lots of goodies. Thank goodness it’s not closer or it would drive us to the poor house. We then kept driving south for a visit to Stan Hywett Hall in Akron – another item on our bucket list that we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Stan Hywett Hall was built in 1911 by F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. It was much bigger and nicer than we expected. It’s actually the 6th largest residence in the US. We went on a guided tour of the house that took about and hour and a half and then spent another hour wandering through the large well kept gardens. The house and grounds have been kept in great shape. Everything in the house is original to the family and the gardens are beautiful. We spent way more time than expected at Stan Hywett so we adjusted our plans on the fly, eating our Whole Foods sushi in the car instead of going out to lunch as planned. We wanted to get a loop in on the trail and a rain storm was forecasted to blow in around 5:00PM. We got to the trailhead in Clinton, OH where we previously left off and biked for about 20 miles. It was a hot and humid day – hopefully the last one – so we sweated like pigs but were happy to be on the towpath. We got to our Airbnb around 5:00PM in the middle of nowhere Navarre, OH and were very happy with our great little house. It was a teeny little stone house build in 1846 that has been beautifully restored. Original wood beams, great open floor plans. Really nice. Also just $80/night and 1 block from the towpath. Perfect. Check it out. We unpacked, took a shower, sat on the great front porch, drank (too much) wine, watched the storm roll in and watched the pick up trucks roll by. We were enjoying the house too much so again altered our well though out plans and blew off going out to dinner and ordered a pizza and played scrabble. Perfect night.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
After morning chilling and a leisurely breakfast we were on the towpath by 9:30AM to knock out our largest stretch from Navarre to Bolivar to Zoar to the anticlimactic end of the trail on OH Route 800. 30 miles total – the longest we’ve biked in one stretch. It was way cooler out after the storm which made it much more pleasant. We stopped on the loop back at Bolivar for lunch at a place called Sublime Smoke Fine BBQ and Craft Brew. It turned out to be a great place. We each had a beer, Courtney had a brisket sandwich and I had the pulled pork sandwich and we split some collard greens and Mac and cheese. All very good. We hit the trail again and rode back with no troubles. After relaxing for awhile we drove up to Gervasi Vinyard for dinner. A 30 minute drive up to Canton. We had a nice dinner in their dining room reconfigured from an old barn. We had wine flights, had some more wine for dinner and then a nice meal. They had a great patio that would be nice in warm weather and beautiful grounds. We headed back to Navarre and fell asleep watching a movie.
Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
We had about 20 miles left of biking to complete today. We did the first 10 from the house in the morning. We packed up, said goodbye to the house and then drove to the trailhead to finish off our last 10 miles. Hurray all done. We got a hold of Claire and Corey and met them for lunch at Mustard Seed Cafe in Akron. It was nice to catch up with them and had a nice meal listening to the duo that was playing good songs in the restaurant. We hit the road and made it home in the early afternoon.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
Grace is doing a twelve week internship at Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas so Courtney and I went to visit her for a long weekend of fun and frivolity. We worked all day and caught the rapid to the airport to take an early evening flight. We got to Vegas with no problems and Grace picked us up and drove us to our hotel, the Mirage. We forced ourselves to stay up to 11:00PM Pacific time by walking around for a bit and having a drink in one of the many bars in the hotel.
Thursday, July 12th, 2018
We slept pretty well and didn’t end up getting up too early. We hit the Mirage buffet around 8:00AM as it was included in the good deal we got for the weekend. We don’t have much experience with buffets but this one sure seems awfully nice. Everything we had was great – except the coffee,(No it was really bad-cbh) but I’m a snob. I had fruit, cinnamon rolls, banana Nutella pancakes, bacon, pork belly, tamales on and on. Just a little bit of each but it was a great meal. We then took to the strip for a nice morning stroll taking in the sites: north past Treasure Island and then walked around inside the Wynn. Went back to the hotel and were at the pool by 10:30. The pool was awesome with lots of palm trees, waterfalls and Pina coladas. We had a lunch reservation at a place we wanted to go to but bagged it as we were enjoying lazing by the pool. We opted for a mid day happy hour meal later on instead. After a short siesta we hit the pavement again walking through the humongous Caesar’s palace and then looped back to the Venetian where we were meeting Grace. We had drinks and really good food at Canonita where Grace and her friend Julie eventually met us. We took off for the Mirage afterwards as we had tickets for Cirque De Soleil’s LOVE. I have been wanting to go to this show for years and years and was so excited to finally be able to go. It was great. The staging, acrobatics, lighting, music and everything was amazing. After the show we grabbed a daiquiri for the road and joined the throngs on the strip. We walked through the Bellagio, watched the fountains a couple of times and ended up back at the Mirage having pancakes for a late night meal. We said goodbye to Grace who lyfted back to her place and quickly crashed after a long day.
Friday, July 13th, 2018
We slept really well and were quickly getting acclimated to west coast time. We hit the buffet again for another breakfast feast and then walked some it off checking out other spots. We liked the Linq Promenade which was pretty new and found a nice store where we bought a few things. We ubered out to the Orleans – a casino off the strip- where Grace’s office was. Grace showed us around, introduced us to her colleagues and we had lunch at a place there with Grace and Julie. Grace was able to get the afternoon off so we went back to the UNLV dorm where she was living to get a few things and then headed back to the Mirage to spend the afternoon at the pool like good Las Vegas tourists. The pool was hopping but we managed to get a spot and had a good time cooling off in the pool, people watching and drinking too many pool drinks. We ubered over to Fremont street. We had tickets to see magician Mike Hammer at the Four Queens. It was fun. 50% magic and 50% comedian. He was really good though. Grace got pulled up to the stage for one of the tricks. After the show, we took in the crazy sights on Fremont street– people zip lining overhead, street performers, classy tourists… We checked out the Container Park, an area with repurposed containers turned into small shops, restaurants and bars. We sat outside at one of the bars. I had a very good Manhattan while we listened to a good Indigo Girls sort of band. We then went a couple blocks down town and had dinner at Carson Kitchen and a great late night meal. We sat on their roof top patio with the rest of the hipsters and split tempura green beans, gyro tacos, a butter burger and tater tots. We walked back down Fremont Street and each headed back to our separate places after a fun night.
Saturday, July 14th, 2018
We slept in past 8:00AM Vegas time. We got our stuff packed up and then headed down to the breakfast buffet which turned out to be a brunch buffet since it was Saturday and ended up having even more food… shrimp, prime rib, Chinese food, good desserts… can get used to this life. We checked out around 10:30 and rented a car to go exploring. We picked up Grace and headed to Mount Charleston – state park about an hour drive west of Las Vegas. It was interesting to see how built out Las Vegas is getting and then it abruptly ends at the mountains. The mountains were beautiful. The elevation was pretty up there. We stopped at the welcome center in the park and soaked in the views and then went on about an hour hike up up up the mountain that was supposed to end at a waterfall but we never were able to find the waterfall. It was fun to see something different – and so different than Las Vegas. The elevation made the hike tougher than we expected. We drove back to Las Vegas and went to Town Square Park – an outdoor mall place – and had late lunch/early dinner at Yard House – a sports bar with lots of beer choices. It was nice to get out of the heat as it was super hot out.–it felt like we were standing in front of an open oven. We still had some time to kill before we had to get to the airport so we did the Vegas thing and went to the Hooter’s casino and played blackjack for an hour. The only gambling we did all weekend except for 15 minutes before the show on Friday. Grace and I started with $20 each playing the cheap blackjack table and ended with a total of $100. It was fun. We said goodbye to Grace dropping her off at the nail salon to spend our $60 winnings and then headed to the airport to drop the car off and head back home on the red eye. The red eye is as bad as it sounds, as usual, but we made it back to CLE at 4:00AM, ubered home and were happy to be home after a fun long weekend.