montana – day 3

with a whole first day of newly found confidence, we woke up saturday morning ready to take on the day.  i mean, i could just feel it was going to be a good day because it was loads easier to put on my boots.  🙂  once i got the rest of my gear all situated, the group decided to start things off together at the white otter lift since it was within skiing/snowboarding distance of the cabin.  in theory it sounded like a great idea, because this lift would take us up to a run that would get us to base a lot quicker than trekking through the snow.  plus, the crew felt i was ready for the white wing run, and i didn’t want to disappoint.

long story short, here is how things went on the white otter lift and white wing run.  i got onto the lift all by myself no problem.  i enjoyed the scenic and quiet ride up the lift.  i completely ate it when i got off the lift, one ski popping off but my energy still intact.  i watched as the crew, one by one, shooped down the very steep entrance from the lift onto the run.  i also observed, with much trepidation, as phillip made his way down as well, slowly but surely.  i took a big gulp of “i have to get down some way” reality, mustered all the spirit i could, and launched myself down the hill.  i’m not quite sure what happened, but the result was a quintessential wipeout right in the middle of the run.  the struggle was real one attempt after another as i tried to get my ski back on and get myself out of the way.  eventually i righted things and after a few more confidence-crushing falls, i shuffled my way to the finish line.  when i finally found phillip, all i could say was, “well, that is the least amount of fun i have had this entire time.”

there was good news out of this, though:  that i recognized what my abilities were and were not and, as such, spent the rest of the day back at bear basin.  phillip was a patient and positive cheerleader throughout the windy afternoon as i worked on weaving and faster turning and getting all the fresh mountain air that i could.

ultimately my goal for the second day of skiing was to end on a high note, and i think these pictures are evidence of just that.  🙂

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montana – day 2

after an extremely restful sleep thursday night, we were awakened by the wafts of something delicious coming from the kitchen.  steve had whipped up a good ‘ole american breakfast for the crew, complete with eggs, bagels, fruit, and, of course, bacon.  what a delightful surprise!  i couldn’t think of a better way to start the day before hitting the slopes.  oh, wait.  yes, i could.  setting the theme song for the day!  while we were enjoying breakfast, for whatever reason people couldn’t stop singing “africa” by toto, and just like that, it was the song of the day.

everyone cleared and cleaned their dishes and then piled into the cars to drive over to base.  before we could go shredding anywhere, we first needed to pick up our passes.  ben led the group right over to the lodge and stuck us in line to wait with everyone else.  i felt quite out of place without all my gear on yet but did my best to look the part and act like i knew what i was doing.  i knew it wouldn’t be long before we were ready to go, so we patiently waited our turn as we took in the surroundings.

first of all, it amazed me how much energy there already was in the crowd.  it was my impression that the typical person coming to big sky knows the skiing and snowboarding ropes pretty well, and these people were ready to get on those lifts and tear up the mountain.  the energy was infectious, and i found that i was eager to get into my boots and find my way to the bunny slopes.

it wasn’t long before phillip was strapping my lift pass to my pants and we shuffled aside to get all suited up.  i already had on my base layers, pants, and jacket, so the next order of business was the boots.  the nice folks at lone mountain sports had given me a quick tutorial the day before on putting on boots, so i slipped off my sneakers and grabbed the left boot.  for about a solid 30 seconds, i sat there struggling, unable to bend my ankle at all and get my foot all the way forward.  i glanced around to see if anyone else was in a similar predicament.  nope, only me.  i grunted and tugged and pushed but could not get that thing on.  i finally decided i was wise enough to realize i needed help, so i hollered at ben to assist.  i was quite grateful when he told me that ski boots can be tricky to get on and that he would be more than willing to help out.  with a little more wiggling and pulling, boom!  the left boot was on!  i felt like a champion already!  with some new-found confidence, i tackled getting on the right boot all by myself.  it may have taken me a few minutes, but soon enough both boots were on and i was more ready to go than ever!

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phillip and kelsey do boston – day 2

day two in boston started with breakfast at, where else, dunkin’ donuts!  we had some coffees, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches as we planned out the rest of our day.  our first stop, and probably the most important stop of the trip, was to visit the hospital where phillip and his sisters were born.  so we caught the train and headed to dorchester.

now the st. mary’s center for women and children, st. margaret’s is were michele and kim spent several months delivering their miracle babies over thirty years ago.  since we were there on a weekend, we couldn’t get the full tour, but the receptionist charlotte was happy to show us around the grounds as much as she could.

phillip & charlotte.

as charlotte led us through some of the buildings, she was happy to give us some history of the grounds.  it turned out she has been working there for quite some time, so she was able to tell us all about the purpose of the center now, how some of the rooms were used when the grounds were still a hospital, and even where some of the original architecture and artwork is still maintained.  it was so special to watch as phillip took it all in, soaking up the place where his story began so many years ago.

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eventually charlotte did have to return to her desk, but she suggested we go sit in the garden since the weather was so nice out, and that is exactly what we did.  it was so pleasant to slow down, even if just for a few moments, and appreciate all the good things going on at this place.  🙂

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phillip and kelsey do boston – day 1

our summertime travels continued with a trip up to boston.  phillip and his sisters were born there but none had been back since, and since i loved the city the last time i came with my friend vinh, i was all in, no doubt about it.

we were up bright and early that friday morning and landed at boston-logan international airport around eleven a.m.  seeing as how our trip would total to barely 48 hours, no humongous luggage bags were necessary (shocking, i know), so we deplaned, grabbed some local transit maps, and hopped on the free silver line bus to south station.  as my father would say, “if it’s free, it’s me!”  about ten minutes later we exited and began to roam the city streets.  we couldn’t check into our airbnb for a few hours, and since we were hungry for some local eats, we asked a friendly bostonian for directions to the original cheers restaurant.  i mean, when in boston, where else would you go?

it was easy to find the restaurant, just a few turns away and a gathered crowd.  there was a slight wait due to the start of the lunch rush, so while we waited we did what every good tourist would do and took a junk ton of pictures.  aren’t they fabulous?  🙂

once our buzzer buzzed, we took the stairs down and crammed ourselves and all our stuff into a cozy booth.  the restaurant was coming to life right before eyes, the energy was tangible, and it was a great way to begin our visit.

like all great day-time vacations, we were not on the clock and were quick to order a couple of adult beverages.  phillip had a local dark something and i stuck with a standard wheat beer – you know, easing myself into things.  both were crisp and cold and quite refreshing.

in no hurry at all, we also ordered ourselves a little appetizer to munch on while we looked over the rest of the menu.  per the waiter’s recommendation, we enjoyed the spinach artichoke dip.  what a classic!  the picture may not be doing it justice, but this popular dish was nice and hot with fluffy gobs of whipped cream cheese, hearty artichoke hunks, gooey cheese, and tasty spinach.  a bite here, a sip there, things were off to a good start indeed.

pretty satisfied with the dip, we decided splitting an entree would be the way to go next, and the kitchen gladly served us our reuben on two individual plates.  this sandwich is such comfort food to me, and the only thing it needed was more thousand island dressing.  i can never get enough!

with full bellies and a second wind, we killed some time on the self-guided freedom trail tour.  the map directed us through boston common, over to the old south meeting house, and, for us, ultimately to faneuil hall.  it could not have been a better sightseeing day, as the air was cool and the cloud coverage was substantial – a welcome change from the stifling georgia heat!

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at last we received word that our airbnb was ready for our arrival, so we navigated our way through the financial district to our studio apartment for the weekend.  the space was just perfect for our two-night stay and ended up being a great, central location for all our adventures.

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orlando – days 2 & 3

i know you’ve been on the edge of your seat to hear about the rest of our time in orlando, so here we go!

our saturday proved to be just as fun as our friday, and it all began at the winter garden farmers market.  we have these sorts of things in atlanta but never seem to make the time to go, which means we enjoyed ourselves even more.

things at the market were already pretty lively by the time we arrived, which made for excellent people watching.  there were couples of all ages, families with little ones, ladies with big sun hats and bigger bags full of fresh produce and fragrant baguettes.  it was a feast for the senses, indeed!

since we had forgone breakfast at the house, we were definitely in the mood for a little snack.  considering the heat of the already sweltering florida morning, lisa led us straight to enzo’s acai bar.  the line wasn’t long, the people were friendly, and the service was fast.  i don’t remember exactly what we had, but i do remember the cool sorbet, crunchy granola, and sweet fruit in every bite.  the perfect start to the morning!  as we munched, we moseyed from booth to booth, admiring the quality and beauty of the local craftsmen.  if we’d had any extra space in our suitcase, i’m certain i would have come home with a bundle of treasures, but i’m betting phillip is grateful that wasn’t the case.  🙂

one stand we stopped by caught lisa’s eye as she turned the corner:  the allisons’ apiaries honey stand.  lisa admitted to us that she was on a big honey kick these days and just could not resist.  the gentleman who assisted us was quite welcoming and helpful and generous with samples.  we tasted wild flower honey, blackberry honey, honey whose names i cannot recall, and they were all so scrumptious.  lisa’s honey infatuation was so darling that phillip and i insisted we treat her to some as a thank-you for hosting us that weekend.  at first she couldn’t accept but then quickly warmed up to the idea and picked out a couple jars and even a beeswax gator candle.  i’d say they were worth every penny.

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o-h-i-o, ohio!

this past thursday morning i boarded an md-88 with several coworkers to fly to columbus, ohio for our annual company meeting.  between team gatherings, putt-putt golf, and drinks at brazenhead, the event was quite the success in melding many offices together as a united front for the successful business years ahead for which we are striving.  go team!

most folks flew back to atlanta friday night, but i had the wonderful pleasure of staying the whole weekend.  as it would be, phillip has family only minutes from our dublin location – such a small world!  so, it was a no-brainer for phillip to take some time off work and join me.

once work things wrapped up friday afternoon, phillip picked me up and we checked into the local embassy suites.  we rested our feet for a little bit and then were in the car again.  where to?  well, seeing as how our stomachs were grumbling, it was a good thing we were headed to dinner with grandma lorraine and cousin tony at the local favorite the rusty bucket.  they were seated at a booth just inside the restaurant awaiting our arrival.  both greeted me warmly as we scooched into our seats and got to know one another.  conversation came easy among the group among local brews and delicious food.  i highly recommend the wedge salad to start and then the buffalo chicken sandwich – it was massive!  the chicken parmesan that grandma lorraine had was a generous serving also.  tony’s quesadilla and phillip’s philly cheesesteak didn’t disappoint either.  so much else on the menu looked so appealing that i guess we’ll just have to visit again!

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after paying the checks, grandma lorraine called it a night.  tony, phillip, and i, though, were in the mood for another drink, so tony led us to a local bar called the dub pub.  most certainly a favorite dive bar of those who live nearby, we grabbed a high-top and continued visiting while enjoying some whiskey-gingers and a few ipa’s from the columbus brewing company (referred to by ohioans simply as “cbc”).  soon tony’s friend sean joined us, and i think eventually we blended in with the regulars as we chatted, cheered on team usa during the olympics, and took in some preseason nfl games.

as our glasses emptied and the early evening grew into the later night, phillip and i were about ready to call it a day.  we bid tony and sean farewell and hopped in the rental.  as we cruised along to the hotel, phillip pointed out the grater’s right nearby and the convenient fact that they were open until eleven p.m.  it was only 10:30 at that point.  phillip swung the camry into the parking lot and we helped ourselves to the counter.

now, any of you who know phillip know that he has quite the sweet tooth.  i used to “blame” his mother because she is an ice cream lover, but now i know it is grandma lorraine who started it all.  she revealed that each night she either has an ice cream or a cookie with some milk before going to bed.  old habits die hard, i suppose!  😀

with many more choices at the store as opposed to just the grocery aisle, i did a bowl of strawberry cheesecake and mocha chocolate chip.  whoa, that stuff was unbelievably good.  the strawberry cheesecake was undoubtedly my favorite, and it was lucky i even got to try it since it is a limited summer flavor!  phillip considered his options for a while and then settled (to no one’s surprise) on a scoop of the buckeye and a scoop of the peanut butter chocolate chip.  i am telling you, this boy could eat only reese cups for the rest of his life and be satisfied.  i suppose it’s hard to deny a man his ice cream when it makes him this happy.

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it was finally after over-eating on quite possibly the best ice cream ever created on this beautiful earth that we hit the hay.  with two more days to go in ohio, we needed our beauty rest!

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february 16th – nyc

our last day in new york begrudgingly arrived tuesday morning as natalie woke and headed to the office and phillip and i packed a bag for the day and got things going, too.  now, even though we might have been sad that our last day was upon us, we were getting excited for what the day held.  what did we end up doing?  well, for starters we went to piers 92 and 94 on the hudson river to watch the day two breed judging for the westminster kennel club dog show!

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happy anniversary!

for those of you not familiar with the process, in the morning before each evening show, each breed is judged individually and the best of the breed is selected.  so for example, the golden retrievers are in the sporting group.  now, only one golden retriever is shown in the evening, so they have to pick the best out of the bunch.  how many goldens, you ask?  how about 50!  yes, folks.  there were 50 golden retrievers being judged tuesday morning, and since phillip and i are both golden lovers, that’s exactly where you would have found us.

now, before the pups are judged they have to get all dolled up.  one of the coolest things about westminster is that you get to go into the benching area where the dogs are chilling out and getting groomed.  after receiving our wristbands, i led phillip over to the benching area for the sporting group and i think he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw all the goldens.  these sweet faces are just irresistible!  now, i urge you.  no, i implore you!  please scroll through the album of golden retriever photos we captured.

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got your fill of goldens?  i thought you might!  now that their coats are glistening and smiles ready, it’s time to be judged!  over in ring 10 is where all the goldens were being judged, so phillip and i snagged a couple seats so that we wouldn’t miss a thing.

the judge brought anywhere between 10 and 20 goldens into the ring at a time, which gave me the perfect opportunity to take even more pictures!

we eventually got our dose of goldens for the day, but before leaving for the afternoon we moseyed along the aisles to check out all the other dogs.  i think something that always amazes me is how much stuff it takes to get these pooches ready.  hair dryers, nail clippers, product.  you name it, they have it.  regular pampering sounds like a pretty blissful life, doesn’t it?

we saw a couple great danes, the gentle giants they are.  this breed always brings a grin to my face when i see them, and this fellow was no exception.

look at that face!

look at that face!

and then right before we exited we found the vizslas!  phillip’s sister emily has a sweet vizsla named brandy and we couldn’t leave without sending her some pictures.  the one of phillip getting kisses is my favorite.  🙂

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february 14th – nyc

sunday morning started much like saturday morning, three lazy almost late-twentysomethings bumming around indoors because the outdoors were still harsh.  it should come as no surprise that we proceeded to order more hot & crusty from their lexington location, except this time we opted for bagels with cream cheese and butter.  mm, how new york!  there really wasn’t anything on the to-do list this valentine’s day except a late lunch/early dinner, so we napped on and off until the early afternoon.

now, on our trek up to new york last friday phillip and i both agreed that he needed a new suitcase.  his old rollerboard was a bit beat up and the handle was stuck inside the suitcase, meaning that phillip had to literally carry his carry-on wherever he went.  we all know what that meant:  it was time to go shopping!

natalie, phillip, and i finally peeled ourselves out of bed, petted wyatt goodbye, and quickly grabbed a cab uptown to the local harlem marshall’s.  we figured this place would be a good bet for some new luggage and we were right.  phillip found himself a very stylish black samsonite, four-wheel suitcase.  it looks smart and sharp and expertly suited to him – it’s like it was made just for phillip!  he rolled that bad boy out of the store with a grin on his face.  nothing makes a day great like the perfect find!

we had just enough time to drop off the suitcase and then get back in a big yellow taxi to make our 4:30 reservation at the smith over in the east village.  the hostess took our name, grabbed some menus, and promptly showed us to our table.  this restaurant is, without question, a quintessential new york bistro and, if i do say so myself, quite spacious!  they have a long bar where you can rub elbows with other locals and travelers, large tables for family gatherings, and two- and three-seaters for intimate meals.  we were cozied up with one another at a smaller round table, right in the middle of it all.  although there weren’t many folks around us at the start of the meal, it wasn’t too long before the restaurant filled up with the early dinner crowd.

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now, we were originally under the impression that we’d be doing a late brunch together, especially considering that the table right inside the door was covered with plates full of french toast and egg scrambles.  unfortunately, though, we somehow hit a strange half hour of time between sunday brunch and actual dinner.  the waitress informed us we’d be dining off the twilight menu, so we just had to roll with it.  i’ll say, though, that the people around us who ordered dinner looked spoiled with their huge bowls overflowing with pasta and chicken pot pie.  although we ended up enjoying what we ordered (which i’ll describe next), i’d be lying if i said we weren’t slightly disappointed.  i guess we’ll just have to come back!

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we each put in a drink order and then natalie insisted we have a mound of the hot potato chips, homemade potato chips slathered in bleu cheese fondue.  oh my gosh, you guys, i’m not joking when i say i could have eaten the entire order of them and died happy right then and there.  this starter is a massive portion and can easily satisfy a group of three to five people.  the deep bowl means there are a lot of layers, but the kitchen does right by you to dress nearly every single chip with the fondue.  i don’t doubt that i could write a whole blog about just these chips.  mm!

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birthday getaway, west coast style

a few weeks ago phillip and i traveled to the great state of california to celebrate my birthday with extended family.  phillip has visited places near and far, but this trip was his first to the golden state.  ah, what a thrill!  to share such special things with him made our vacation that much better.  he couldn’t get enough of the weather and coastlines, and as such, he was the official picture taker of the weekend.  i may have also secretly deemed him the official picture taker of all events, but let’s keep that between you and me.  😉

i knew we’d want to share some of the trip’s excitement with you, but i also didn’t want to spend my birthday vacation with my head down in my journal in an attempt to capture every emotion of each moment.  so with that, we give you the highlights of our adventure as told through pictures.  enjoy!

day 1:  joy that we are going on vacation, misery after a rough flight, and phillip’s first in-n-out experience at nearly one a.m. pacific time.

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san francisco – day 3

another early morning arrived for brian and me.  he wanted to get a good start so that he could leave work at a more reasonable hour for some friday fun, so we whisked out into the already windy day and took the truck over to 24th and folsom for brian’s favorite cup of coffee at philz.  he said this spot was his daily hangout once upon a time, so if it’s good enough for him, it’ll work for me, too!

when we walked into philz, i was instantly reminded of the east side jittery joe’s back in athens.  it’s artsy and eclectic, and i loved every ounce of it.

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it’s quite the menu they’ve got here, so i trusted brian to do the ordering for us both.  he got us each a small philtered soul, a lighter medium blend of hazelnut and chocolate.  um, yes, that sounds amazing!  we took our cups to-go and had our first sips out on the sidewalk.  although a little on the sweeter side, the coffee was flavorful, a lovely treat to wake us up at just a quarter past the seven o’clock hour.

gah, he's just the coolest!

gah, he’s just the coolest!

we then headed east on 24th to find dynamo donut shop.  my friend mike had heard good things about it, so i felt it was my personal duty to see if the fun was warranted.  this little place is actually a walk-up counter serving up homemade donuts and coffee.

i was in the mood for something chocoately, so i gladly let the cashier recommend the chocolate rose.  brian went for a saltier selection with the maple glazed bacon apple.  she popped them into a to-go bag for us so that brian and i could enjoy them in a nearby park.  we plopped ourselves on top of the artful sea serpent because that seemed the most obvious thing to do.

we decided that sharing the donuts was the perfect thing to do.  brian bit into the chocolate rose first, and his face said it all:  he really didn’t care for it.  whoops!  i took a taste to see if i agreed but found i felt differently.  i actually quite liked its bittersweet flavor and cakey texture.  brian did come around to admit after a few more tries that it wasn’t so bad after all.

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even though i was a fan of the chocolate rose, i might say the maple glazed bacon apple that brian picked out was pretty awesome.  the glaze was just the right thickness to coat the donut but not take away from the subtle and sweet syrupy-apple flavor.  oh, and let’s be honest, no breakfast is complete without bacon, right?  ah, yes, how american of me!

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it was about that hour for brian to head out to work, so he dropped me off back at cafe st. jorge.  i just couldn’t stay away!  i snuggled into the booth with a sesame bagel and organic cream cheese and wrote the morning away.  all of philz coffee went straight to my head and got me uber focused.  i knocked out a whole day and a half of san fran fun in a short couple of hours.  booyah!

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