i’ve got a crush

…and that crush is on the city of San Francisco.

I visited for about five days last week, and my goodness is that city my new favorite place!  I’d been once before, back in high school, but this trip was totally different.  Whereas previously my time had been spent taking in tourist attractions (you don’t have much say in itinerary when you’re on a high school church trip), this time was all about eating, drinking and wandering.  My kind of trip.

I arrived on Thursday morning, and immediately met my longtime friend Drew at Naked Lunch.  After a delicious lunch, he went back to work and I trekked to his place in the Marina.  (Here’s a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from his neighborhood…lovely!)

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I spent that afternoon doing a bit of work at his place, and exploring the area.  That night, we went out for dinner at a taqueria (giant burritos, goodness gracious) in the Mission and drinks at Magnolia in Dogpatch.  It was wonderful to meet lots of Drew’s friends, and this spot had great beer and atmosphere!

On Friday, while Drew worked from home in the morning, I went out shopping on Chestnut Street near his house.  I bought a few fabulous things, made a few friends around Drew’s neighborhood and even got a job offer to be a nanny!  That afternoon, we got in the car and drove to Mt. Tamalpais  to attempt to hike (emphasis on attempt).  It was too rainy and cold and windy and foggy…so we kept driving.  We had stopped off earlier at the Marin Headlands so I could see the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was beautiful.  We wound up heading to Muir Woods once the weather cleared, where we did a bit of walking and took in the beautiful redwoods.

That night, we went to a fun house party to celebrate Drew’s friend’s birthday.  While I was there, I found out that  the “Full House house” (aka one of the Painted Ladies) was just a few blocks away, so naturally I convinced someone to walk with me to check it out.  (Thanks, Scott!)

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The next day, Drew and I went to an event at Tank18 for wine and conversation with friends.  Conversation wound up being tough, as the venue was crazy loud, so Drew and I headed out.  We explored SoMa and eventually headed home to chill out and watch some Suits.  That night, Drew had longstanding plans for drinks, so I met up with one of his friends I’d met a couple nights earlier for a drink at La Urbana.  After that, we went with friends to dinner at Southpaw.

On Sunday, I woke up early and went to a solo breakfast at Home Plate in the Marina.  I wound up having to sit with another solo diner, named Thor…let me just tell you, he might have been the most shallow, insipid person I have ever met.  But the food was good!  I then walked down to the Philz Coffee truck on the water and enjoyed some quiet time looking at the boats.

That afternoon, Drew and I explored North Beach!  He showed me Coit Tower (awesome views of SF and crazy hills).  We then went over to Hayes Valley so I could check out the Warby Parker store.  We wound up spotting this awesome biergarten where we had a pint and pretzel, before hitting up Smitten for some ice cream.  Finally, we went to the Warby Parker store (just had to) before heading out.

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That night (my last night of the trip), Drew treated me to a meal at Trestle.  It was absolutely wonderful and a great way to end the trip before I flew out on Monday morning.

I wish I would’ve taken more photos while I was in the city, but I was caught up in enjoying every single moment.  Not a bad reason to miss out on photo ops!

All in all, I absolutely loved San Francisco.  I would move there tomorrow if I could, but alas, the cost of living is astronomical.  However, if anyone out there is reading this and thinking, “Man, I’d love to financially back a girl’s dream to live in the Bay Area for a while,” feel free to contact me!  😉

new year, same me

1935470_10154609999312715_9146527296301029446_nThis year, I have resolved to do more of what makes me happy.  I’m sharing my “resolutions” (though I hate calling them that because of the connotation so let’s just call them goals) here for accountability to myself, and in the hopes of perhaps inspiring you to set a few goals for yourself this calendar year.  It’s never too late to start doing more of what you love!

  1. Prioritize travel.
    • Travel has been a huge priority to me in the past, and I’m off to a good start with it for this year, too.  I’m headed to San Francisco next month and New York City in March!  I’ve also got a trip to Orlando on the agenda for a very special wedding I’m in during April.
  2. Spend more time outdoors.
    • I’m trying to be intentional about getting outdoors, and got off to a good start last week with a hike at Percy Priest Lake with Alli!  My (rough) goal is to seek out one outdoor activity a weekend, whether that be a long walk around my neighborhood, a hike or something more adventurous.
  3. Continue to send snail mail and be a good pen pal.
    • Mail brings me joy, period.  I love stamps and stationery and the post office and my mailman and everything about it.
  4. Read a lot of books.
  5. Listen to a lot of podcasts.
    • I adore podcasts!  I’ll be posting soon about some of my favorites.  They’re great for passing the time on a road trip and helping keep focused (I spent a lot of time in the car in 2015 so I can really vouch for this).
  6. Write a book.
    • I haven’t shared much about my desire to write a book here, but it’s on the 101 in 1001 list that I created about a year and a half ago.  I love to write and read, and this is the ultimate challenge for myself – to see if I can combine those passions into one creative project!

I have others goals, of course, that are practical and ongoing, like developing consistency in my exercise routine again, continuing to push toward long-term financial security, establishing clear career goals, etc.  However, the six goals above are the ones that bring me true joy and are for pleasure rather than practicality (like the goals I just mentioned).

What are your goals for this year?  I encourage you to write them down formally and share them with someone.  The act of doing so makes them real and is (in my opinion) the first step toward making them happen!

you’ll always be home sweet home to me

Oh man.  I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve touched this blog!  I always try to take it as a good sign when I can’t find time to blog.  It means I’m busy out living my life: traveling, eating good food, exploring…or in the case of the last month, moving, starting a new job, getting a new roommate…the list goes on.

I have made some massive progress on my 101 in 1001 list.  I moved to a new city (Nashville – and I absolutely love it here).  I had a picnic.  I went to Cincinnati to visit my friend Blaire, where we went to a Reds game and sipped cocktails at a rooftop bar.  I re-did some furniture (and decorated our home here – post to come).

It’s definitely been an adjustment, starting my job at Warby Parker, living in a new state…but I feel like I am in the right place at the right time.  There is so much to do here; I never have an excuse to be bored!  I’ve seen so much live music, from country (Keith Urban, Cassadee Pope, Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Charles Esten, Thompson Square and more) to punk to singer-songwriter and everything in between.  I’ve hiked to waterfalls, taken walks around my neighborhood…I’ve even met a few celebrities!  The most notable are Ben Rector (my favorite musician, who I literally met today) and Chris “Cupcake” from The Bachelorette (which Alli and watch religiously every Monday night).

A lot of people have told me how brave I am – for uprooting from the place I lived for five years and a comfortable job and social network to move to a place where I know only a handful of people in a state I’ve barely spent any time in previously.  I don’t think I’m that brave, though.  I think I’m lucky.  Lucky that an opportunity came my way, and a cool company took a chance on me.  Lucky that my random roommate is turning out to be one of my closest friends.  Lucky that the people in this city are warm and kind.  I just feel lucky.

With that, I’m off to shower and get ready for a night out in Music City.  I promise, though, I’ll be back to blogging regularly from here on out!  I could never quit this thing.

the mountains are calling and i must go

You know those places you see all over the internet?  You see a picture on Buzzfeed or Pinterest and have to ask yourself if that place is even real or just the work of a professional photographer and Photoshop master…

Well, I’m here to tell you that those places are real, and I had the immense privilege of seeing a few of them last month on a trip I took.11026048_10153967918717715_6275458459212842099_n

I flew from Gainesville to Atlanta, Atlanta to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.  James picked me up at the airport and we made our way to Lake Powell (Utah or Arizona, depending on where you’re standing).  To say it was a long travel day is an understatement; to say it was more than worth it is an even bigger understatement.

Immediately, this trip felt like something different than I’d ever experienced.  For one, I was traveling with someone who I love a lot and get along with very easily.  We have similar likes and dislikes and all in all, a similar travel style.  We would sleep until we felt like getting up, eat when we were hungry, stop to take pictures when we wanted to and just move at our own pace.  We also rarely had cell phones, technology or distractions so the entire trip just had a very fluid, easygoing feeling.

We started, as I mentioned, in Lake Powell.  We arrived at night so you can imagine my astonishment to wake up and see that we were right next to the lake!  Lake Powell is a hotspot for houseboats, but there were a lot of other people at the tent campground with us, too.  (And some RVs.  James must have almost accidentally driven into the “RV Dump” site five times while we were there and it never ceased to be funny.)

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There were a lot of options for activities, and we had kind of a hard time choosing.  We wound up taking a boat tour of the lake which took us around all the different canyons (including getting up close and personal with the Glen Canyon Dam).  It was so chilly and windy on the top of that boat!

We also spent half a day in Page, AZ at Upper Antelope Canyon (one of those highly-photographed and sought-after spots I mentioned at the beginning).  It was stunning!  The colors of the slot canyon are unreal and our Navajo guide, Lionel, was hilarious and a pro at giving photography advice to capture the awesome light beams.

My favorite place that we spent time at during the Lake Powell segment of our trip was Horseshoe Bend.  We went to watch the sunset two nights in a row and let’s just say, there were some mishaps!  The first night, we were running late and afraid to miss the sunset so we literally jogged hand-in-hand up and over the hills, through swarms of gnats (terrible, terrible swarms) all the way to the edge.  We were slightly concerned as we passed hordes of people coming the opposite direction, away from the overlook, but all of that went away when we got there and saw the beautiful river, skyline and panorama.  We sat down and ate chips and salsa, drank a beer and enjoyed the truly incredible scenery.  Eventually, we were the only people left and I have to say, I never really wanted to leave that spot.

We enjoyed it so much that we went back the next night!  The second night, though, we encountered some crazy winds.  Poor James was wearing his contacts and the sand was blowing so bad into them that he just covered his eyes and waited for the gusts to pass.  We wound up just cracking up about the whole situation and heading back to camp for (what we thought was) the windiest night of little sleep ever.

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When our time in Lake Powell was up, James and I headed to Zion National Park.  I have to tell you a funny story here.  On the way to Zion, I told James that I really hoped we would happen upon (in the middle of the desert) a homemade ice cream shop.  As we stopped to get gas in Kanab, I found out there was one nearby!  Called Three Bears Creamery Cottage!  I was thrilled.  We went, and it was closed.  This would be a pattern throughout the rest of our trip: Mallory wants ice cream.  James tries to make this happen.  Ice cream shop is closed.  Or ice cream machine is closed for cleaning. Finally, on the second to last night in Zion, I got my ice cream and boy was it good.

But back to the adventures…on the way into the park, I was absolutely blown away.  James stopped and we sat outside the car, just taking everything in.  It felt like something out of a movie!  The fluffy little petals from a flower that I can’t remember the name of were blowing everywhere in the wind and the sun was shining all around us.  We eventually got fully into Zion and got a campsite (this was a feat in itself, but that’s a long story). Then we set up camp, took a little nap and went out for our first hike, at the Emerald Pools!  This was a pretty easy but nice hike.  The upper Emerald pool was my favorite, and we spent a little time just reveling in the beauty.  (I know that sounds corny but that’s all you could do, really.  If Mallory Thompson is speechless on a trip you know it must be an amazing one.)

We made friends with the people at our campsite (some crazy kids named Lindsey and Fern and a few others) and spent a little time hanging out with them after dinner around the fire.  At one point, Fern climbed a tree and fell out of it, flat onto this back.  It was by far one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

The next day, James and I did what I’d been waiting for ever since I read about it online: we hiked the Narrows!  You can read all about that here if you’re curious, but basically you’re hiking in a river between canyons and it is epic.  James made the mistake of letting the girl at the outfitter talk him into renting what we dubbed the “Waders of Death” (WoD).  I, meanwhile, only rented the canyoneering shoes and walking stick, and was very happy about that.  We wound up having to stash James’ WoD along the river, hiding them under some brush so we could return them later.  I was about to cry I was laughing so hard.  He took them off and he was covered in sweat.  The whole point of him renting the WoD was because he feared he would be cold!!!  It was just ironic and hysterical and I kept making fun of him for paying an extra $20 for a sweaty hindrance.

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The hike itself was a lot of fun, having to catch each other from falling all the way into the river (ok, I was a little clumsier than he) and eating lunch with a doe on a patch of rocky shoreline.  We also sang the whole time…Disney songs, Maroon 5 songs, any songs.  I loved it.

Finally, after some truly unforgettable days in breathtaking places (with fantastic company), it was time to go back to reality.  James drove me (reluctantly) back to the Las Vegas airport, where I made my way back to Gainesville.

I have a million other things that I could say about this trip, and how everyone should spend time in that part of the country, and how I wish we had more time there, but instead I’ll just say: it was a trip for the books.

mile-high city

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Ah, sweet, sweet Colorado.  I could write a love song for that state.

Maddie and I returned yesterday morning from a fantastic (and whirlwind) of a vacation to visit our friend from college, Tyler, in Denver.  The trip was a perfect combination of relaxed but full.  See why below!

Thursday, 3/12

We flew Frontier Airlines out of Orlando to Denver.  Tyler picked us up at the airport and dropped us off in LoDo for brunch at Snooze.  After I ate an amazing breakfast burrito (and a chocolate chip pancake on the house since it was my first time eating there), Maddie and I set about to explore downtown Denver.  We shopped around but were relatively unimpressed with all the chain stores in the area — no cute boutiques or anything like that here.  What did impress me was the number of man buns (the hairstyle, not the body part like any Facebook friend of mine over 40 seemed to think) and thick beards.  One of the most surprising things Maddie and I noticed was simply how many guys there are in Denver.  Tons.  We took the Light Rail down to Tyler’s office to meet him that afternoon.  We snuck into the lobby (following behind a caterer and dodging his question when he asked if I had a badge) but were asked to leave five minutes later by a guard…those rocket scientists can sure be stuffy!

That night, we went to a happy hour at an Italian restaurant near Tyler’s place and then to a trivia night at a local sports bar.  It felt good to be playing trivia again (as opposed to hosting it)!  We finished in 3rd place (and I was proud).

Friday, 3/13

We slept in and then headed to Copper Mountain for a day of skiing!  We actually rented our gear off-site and I highly recommend the shop we where we did so.  The guys were really cool, the gear was nice and they even gave me a free chocolate chip cookie!  (It doesn’t take much to make me happy.)

Tyler’s friends John and Ann joined us to ski that afternoon.  It’s funny…the main reason they came is because Tyler and Maddie are both self-proclaimed “terrible skiers” and didn’t want me to have to ski alone when I wanted to leave the bunny hill.  So I skied with Maddie and Tyler for the first hour or so and then moved onto bigger and better stuff.  I’ve skied before in Colorado, in Winter Park, but this was my first Copper experience and it was great!  Just because I love trying new things, I think next time I’d venture over to A Basin or Vail.

After we left the ski resort (not before having a slope-side margarita), we went to the Dillon Dam Brewery for a beer.  One of my favorite things about Colorado (and a repeated theme you’ll see throughout this post) was all the breweries!  Then we headed to Beau Jo’s for mountain pies…where we sat in the literal attic in the dark for dinner.  It was interesting and I so wish I had a photo.

Saturday, 3/14

We went to brunch at The Original Pancake House on Saturday morning with another college friend, BreAnne, before heading to Fort Collins for the day.  When we got to Fort Collins, I tweeted at Coach McElwain (who just came to UF following a coaching stint at CSU).  He didn’t reply, but Colorado State’s Athletic Department did!  I got some recommendations on where to go in FoCo for the day that wound up being really helpful.  We started at New Belgium where we had the best tour ever in spite of not having registered beforehand.  (One of my strengths is talking my way into activities/shows/etc.)  Our tour guide Dave was such a treat and it was awesome to a) enjoy like 5 free [mini] glasses of beer and b) see where some of my favorite brews are made!  We even got to see the room where La Folie, my favorite sour brown ale, spends anywhere from 1-3 years in oak barrels before it’s bottled.

After we left New Belgium, we headed over to O’Dell Brewing for even more craft beer goodness.  The tour wasn’t nearly as high-quality as Dave’s, but we were still glad to have gone.  The place was crawling with people since apparently folks in Colorado love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day several days early.  For lunch/dinner, we went to Choice City, a recommendation from both CSU and a bartender at New Belgium.  It did not disappoint!  This also gave us a chance to see the downtown (i.e. adorable) part of Fort Collins.

In this marathon of a day, our next stop was back to Tyler’s place in Denver to change for the Colorado Avalanche game!  We met a nice guy at the train station to the game (Alex) who I bugged the whole time about hockey and Colorado and life and I’m pretty sure he loved every second.  It was mine and Maddie’s first NHL game and, although our seats were dreadful, we had a good time and the Avs won!  I even scored a new (10-year-old) boyfriend named Logan who sat next to me at the game.  Afterward, we walked a few blocks to hit the town.  We ran into more awful guys and people that night than I knew was possible (including one who told me I was “thicker than three hot cakes and a milkshake” and meant that as a compliment) but eventually found our way into a karaoke bar which was a blast.  We ended our night with a Lyft home where I (of course) shared deep thoughts with our driver Troy on his sexuality and coping with telling his ex-wife and kids that he’s gay.  Only me.

Sunday, 3/15

We spent Sunday in my favorite place of the trip – Boulder!  We shopped alllllll along the Pearl Street Mall and soaked up the gorgeous 78 degree, sunny weather.  Tyler was a trooper as Maddie and I went into shop after shop.  There was so much life on Pearl Street because of what a beautiful day it was: street performers and families and artists and dogs and locals and tourists and it was awesome.  We ate at Illegal Pete’s and made a trip into a not-legal-in-most-states shop (because it’s Colorado, you have to).  We also drove around CU’s campus, which was stunning.  I really didn’t want to leave Boulder and am pretty sure I left a tiny piece of my heart there, but alas, we had a plane to catch.

That night, Maddie and I caught the red eye back to Orlando… and it was miserable.  It was a four hour flight and I slept maybe 20 minutes because of my terrible cough.  When we landed in FL, I was exhausted but had to make the drive back to Gainesville immediately.  Well, the trip took almost an extra hour because of an awful accident on I-75 and let’s just say, I was thankful it wasn’t me.  I was so tired that I was fighting to keep my eyes open on the road — rolling the windows down, blasting AC, changing the music — anything to stay awake.  We did finally make it, though, and I had time for a 90-minute power nap before heading into work and back to reality.

All in all, it was an incredible trip.  We had weather over 70 degrees all the days except our ski day (where it snowed on us and was beautiful).  Tyler was a kind and generous host (thanks, T) and Maddie and I both are adding Colorado to our list of “places we could live.”  Success!

defending myself and climbing rocks

I woke up this past Saturday with a strange feeling.  What the heck am I going to do today?  I’ve spent so many of my past weekends traveling or going to events that I had no clue what to do with a wide-open Saturday.  I decided to seize the day and conquer some more of my 101 in 1001 list!

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I guess I should disclose, I actually conquered a bit of it on Friday night too.  Maddie and I hosted a game night at our place.  We used to host these a lot at our old apartment, but it had been quite a while.  It was good to be back at it!

Back to Saturday…Once a month, my gym hosts an instructor from the Global Mixed Martial Arts Academy.  The instructor teaches a one-hour self defense class for women where we learn about strikes (hitting with our elbows or knees) or escaping attacks.  It was intense!  We learned how to get out of a chokehold, a bear hug from behind, a knife-to-the-throat…pretty serious stuff.  It was actually invigorating to do!  Obviously the hope and goal is that I’ll never have to use these skills, but at least I’m prepared.

After class, I headed with my friends Justine and Alex to the Gainesville Rock Gym for an afternoon of climbing.  We bouldered and did top-rope climbing (after getting trained in belaying).  It was awesome!  I have been rock climbing before (on actual rocks in Alabama back in high school and on the Lake Wauberg rock wall in college) but doing it indoors was a new experience.  It was an arm workout, for sure, and a fun bonding experience for Alex, Justine and myself.

take me home, country roads

Last month, I had a great time BLAST visiting my friends in West Virginia!  My friend Jordan and her husband Evan moved there last summer and I’ve been plotting a visit ever since.  We wanted to go when we would have a chance to ski, so I found myself there in the frigid month of February.

photo[22]I drove from Gainesville down to Orlando, FL to fly out.  I flew Allegiant Air (super cheap but still good service – I highly recommend) up to Roanoke, VA.  When I landed in Roanoke, it was a whopping 5° F…talk about a change for this Florida girl!  I was wearing a t-shirt, some running pants and a light fleece pullover…but I wasn’t cold!  I actually think the excitement of being up north in the snow pumped adrenaline through my body keeping me warm.

In Roanoke, I rented a car and drove (two hours, in the snow and ice, by myself in new-to-me states) to Bluefield, WV where my friends live.  I arrived and there was even MORE snow than I imagined.  It was everywhere!

Once I made it to their house (a feat in itself…I wound up parking in a church parking lot and hauling my stuff up a giant, icy hill because the car couldn’t make it into their driveway), Jordan informed me that we were going sledding!  I was psyched.  We ate some lunch, layered up and drove over to Bluefield College, the spot of the sledding hill we’d be conquering.

photo[11]Let’s just say, my first time sledding was far scarier than I would have guessed!  I had what can only be called uncontrollable speed and wound up with a lot of snow in my clothes, ears and even mouth.  I trekked it back up the hill and did it all over again until my hands were completely numb from the soaking wet gloves.  (Bear in mind, temps were still in the ‘teens.)

That night, we ate dinner in a gas station (because, West Virginia) and drove around to some of the surrounding coal towns for a tour.  It was such a beautiful natural landscape but some of the visible signs of poverty were absolutely shocking — formerly grand homes now falling to ruins, unoccupied houses looking like their owners had just stepped out, occupied houses looking like they ought to be abandoned…it was tough to see.

photo[3]On Saturday, we built a snowman (my first ever), had a snowball fight and watched entirely too many episodes of Friends.  We also went to an event called the Winter Warmer at Jordan and Evan’s favorite local bar/restaurant.  I’m pretty sure the entire under-30 Bluefield population was there…it was live music and lots of beer.  Tough to resist!  I even made a few local friends (which Evan would tease me about the rest of the night).  It snowed a LOT this day; I want to say it was at least 6-7 inches!  When you combine that with the foot of snow they’d gotten throughout the week, it truly felt like we were in a (dangerous driving conditions aside) winter wonderland.

photoThen on Sunday, we went skiing!  I hadn’t been since 2011 and wasn’t sure if I’d still be any good, but I was.  I skied all the way up to black diamond runs and I even did a few jumps in the terrain park.  It definitely wasn’t Colorado-level conditions, but it was cool to be skiing with my friends (and none of the snow was man-made).  We definitely exhausted ourselves skiing all day long, and went back to Bluefield around dinnertime.  At home, we ate dinner, played Monopoly (Evan was so ruthless) and watched more Friends; the perfect night!

photo[9]Monday meant my departure and let me just say, it came way too quickly.  I woke up at 5 am and Jordan and I had to dig my car out of massive quantities of snow and ice…like, it took 45 minutes.  Then I drove back to Roanoke where I boarded my plane for the Sunshine State.  I landed back in Florida later that afternoon where I immediately had to strip down to my t-shirt and enjoyed my drive back to Gainesville with the windows down.

makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice

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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).

breathe through your thighs

Thrilled to be done with power yoga and putting the mat away (and pointing at Calm Eric).

So there I was, in a darkened group fitness studio, taking my first ever power yoga class.  I was wearing my lucky gnome socks and was ready to check something new off the bucket list.

“Breathe through your thighs,” he said.  I suppressed a laugh.  He let out several long, dramatic breaths.  Were those coming through his thighs?  The breaths sounded like fairly normal respiratory function to me.

We were in the first 15 minutes of the class, the portion devoted to stretching and breathing and listening to Eric talk in what I suppose was a soothing voice.

I was bored in those 15 minutes but in hindsight, I should have savored them, because the following 45 minutes were grueling.  Have you ever heard of the crow pose?  What about the side crow?  THESE ARE NOT BEGINNER POSES.  But these are what Eric was doing in this class.

We were warriors and side warriors and reverse warriors and children and trees and tables and IT WAS JUST A LOT.

And as we contorted ourselves, Eric spoke nuggets of “wisdom” and “inspiration” and “relaxation.”

Eric: “Visualize a white light seeping through your scalp.”
My thoughts: “Man, I’m so glad I don’t have dandruff.”

Eric: “Picture a red rose blooming slowly in your heart.”
My thoughts: “Roses have thorns.  This is what Jordin Sparks was talking about in Bleeding Love!”

Eric: “Picture a light blue color right between your eyes.”
My thoughts: “Ow. Why do my eyes hurt?  Am I crossing my eyes with my eyelids closed?!”

Eric: “When you embrace pain and hurt it turns to love and you become strong.”
My thoughts: “That doesn’t sound healthy.  That sounds like he is condoning domestic abuse.”

And so the class went, for nearly an hour.  Then, as we went into my favorite pose, the one where you lie flat on your back and just start to fall asleep because the class is almost over, the girl in front of me tickled my foot.  And I loudly laughed and interrupted everyone else’s peace.

Afterward, I told Eric it was my first class and he was shocked, saying that no one should begin with power yoga, and the friend who invited me (LOOKING AT YOU, AUDRA) wasn’t a friend at all.

To reward ourselves for the hour of Zumba (my thing) and hour of power yoga (clearly not my thing), I went with my girlfriends to Leonardo’s, ate two slices of pizza, then went to House of Beer, drank two beers and cried listening to romantic first date stories.  What a night.