makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know about my 101 in 1001 list.  I started it officially on July 13, 2014 and have made some major progress since then, especially in the last 10 days.  Here is an update!

15.  Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway with Sam Utesch 

I met Sam back in early February 2013 at a conference in Atlanta.  I went to the University of Florida and he went to Appalachian State University (we were both ambassadors for our schools).  We hit it off and spent all night hanging out.  We kept in touch after, and I saw him one day when he visited Florida a couple of months later.  Since then, we have not seen each other but have kept in close contact.  Well, that very first night we met, Sam told me how much I would love Boone, NC where he lives.  A few months later, he told me about the Blue Ridge Parkway and how he would take me for a drive on it when I visited.  This month, that visit finally happened!  We packed a whole lot in between Friday morning when I flew in and Monday when I left:  we went to some of the most popular bars like Galileo’s (karaoke goodness), Klondike (literally in a trailer) and TApp Room; we ate a lot at places like Come Back Shack, Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock, Bojangles (believe it or not, my first time) and more; we went to tailgates and part of the App football game; we drank a lot of Yuengling; I got to meet tons of his friends all of whom were so friendly, warm and fun; we shopped on King Street; and last but not least, we drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway!  I’ll be honest, the view was…nonexistent.  We drove through intense fog.  But, it was the parkway nonetheless and I checked it off!  Come to think of it, the weather was pretty terrible the whole time I was in Boone…pretty foggy, misty and cool.  But I figure if I can fall in love with an area in that kind of weather, I would really love it on a nice weekend!

62. Go on a tour of a brewery &
100. Visit a zoo

Part of my job is helping coordinate a leadership development program for business and community leaders in my area. Each month, we have a different program day—social services, government, medicine, etc. This month, our program day was split between agriculture and quality of life. We started the morning at a ranch, seeing cattle, calves and horses. After that, we went to the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo for a tour. My favorite part was, of course, the monkeys! I love them. After, we went to a planetarium for a show. It was trippy but awesome—and a little too relaxing. I almost dozed off several times. We ended our day at Swamp Head (a local brewery and tasting room in Gainesville – look for their pale ale at Publix all over the state). The tour was pretty brief but interesting to learn about their brewing process and capacity. This day was absolutely great: who wouldn’t love a Tuesday getting paid to check a couple of items off the ol’ bucket list?

63. Go to a fair &
52. Treat a friend to a pedicure

I went home to Pensacola this weekend and it was fantastic! On Saturday morning, I hung out with my mom and little brother Reid.  I took my mom (who I definitely consider a friend) to get a pedicure that morning, went to a baby shower with her that afternoon and then spent the night with one of my best friends since high school, Drew.   We ate dinner, went to the beach at night and went for a long drive with the windows down and the music up; it was my kind of night. I also got a chance to celebrate Reid’s 16th birthday with him on Sunday! I can’t believe how old he is getting (or how old it means I’m getting). Before all this, though, on Friday night, I went with Reid, Maddie, Michelle and Ada to the PENSACOLA INTERSTATE FAIR! This was a huge first for me. Much like I always wanted a sock monkey for Christmas growing up but never got one (thanks Lawrence for finally fulfilling that dream back at age 17), I have always dreamt of going to a fair. The food, the rides, the games, the people…I was born ready (so I thought). What I actually found at the fair was that I loved a few rides (the super high swings, the ferris wheel, the swinging pirate ship) and that was about it. There was much people watching to be done: massive amounts of camouflage, about 90 percent of the Pensacola area middle and high school demographic, several parents with babies who should’ve been in bed hours earlier and quite a few creepy carnies. One thing I was really disappointed in was the lack of an elephant. I thought fairs had them but evidently that’s only carnivals or circuses? I didn’t know there was a difference. I also couldn’t find any signage for a pig competition (which I thought was definitely a fair thing).

a weekend spent outdoors

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My blog just turned one year old!  I’m so happy I’ve stuck with this.  Now, back to this post’s real content:

I spent nearly my entire weekend outdoors and it was heavenly.

I try not to do recap-type posts on this blog too often, as I don’t want to bore you (my precious few loyal readers) with the mundane details of my day-to-day life. However, this blog is also a place for me to document memories to recall later, and this weekend falls perfectly into that category.

On Friday, our boss let us leave the office a couple of hours early. I spent that time at Target (my favorite store ever). I then went home and took an accidental (but wonderful) nap from about 7 pm to 9 pm. Right after I woke up, I went out to celebrate a work acquaintance’s birthday with some coworkers. We had a blast singing along to music and dancing, and I tried a delicious new-to-me cocktail (a Paloma).

On Saturday, I went to the Luke Bryan Farm Tour! I bought Maddie and myself tickets back a few months ago when the tour got announced, and the day finally arrived. We went with two friends and wound up seeing a few other friends there at the venue.

We tailgated a bit before the concert (listening to the Gator game on the radio which we somehow won, throwing the football and enjoying the beautiful weather). When we finally went into the actual performance area, we got fairly close to the stage. Chancie Neal, The Peach Pickers and Cole Swindell were all openers. Luke Bryan came out around 9 pm and he was even cuter than on television! He has this adorable southern accent which, combined with his goofy dance moves and powerhouse vocals, makes him utterly lovable.

The show went on for a solid two hours or so, and then it was a battle to leave the parking lot. Considering there were about 17,000 fans out on one farm, it was a bit of a traffic jam. It only took us about an hour to get out to the main road — and this was a product only of my aggressive driving. “I’m gonna kiss that Michigan bumper,” I said to Maddie over and over again, cracking up as I refused to allow others to push their way into line in front of me.

There was this epic moment when a huge, lifted truck full of guys zoomed up beside us out of nowhere, clearly believing they’d be able to cut me off. When I out-drove them, I exclaimed out the window, “You just got beat by a Honda Civic…COUPE!” The guys were beside themselves cracking up and the driver was clearly disappointed that I’d outmaneuvered him. It felt pretty sweet.

On Sunday, I slept in and awoke to more of the world’s most beautiful weather. I went to a late breakfast at my favorite spot (Billy Bobz, shout out to Geanine, the best waitress on the planet) and knew I needed to be outdoors for the afternoon. So, I split my time between Open Streets Gainesville (an event where they shut down a mile of University Ave. strictly for cyclists and pedestrians — lots of booths, live music, games, crafts and DOGS everywhere) and laying out in the sunshine to enjoy my book. This is really weird to admit, but I wound up laying out at a park adjacent to a dog park, so that I could see all the sweet pups coming and going. I have been wanting a dog for a while now but for now, this is as close as I can get. Also nearby were some people in medieval wear practicing jousting, but that’s just a strange little side note…

After all that time in the great outdoors, I went home and did some work, ate some pizza, watched The Voice with Maddie and had a lovely phone chat with my friend James, who always makes bad days sunny and sunny days sunnier. I then finished a book (that I had started that morning at breakfast…#bookworm) and took a bath before hitting the hay.

What a weekend it was! And next weekend is set to be even better — I’m going on vacation to North Carolina, where I’ll be checking off number 15 on my 101 in 1001 list. Can’t wait to see you, Sam!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables