Mission Accomplished: Run Every Day in April

30 days, 157 miles, 9 cities, and 7 states later – I have officially completed my goal of running every day in April!

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When I set the goal my motivation was to just get back in the habit of running. January through March my training was pretty much nonexistent. Let’s just say, I made excuses much more often than I made an effort. I recently saw this post, which seemed to sum it up pretty well.

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They say it takes 21 days to break/form a habit and I committed April to getting back in the swing of things with training. My only rule was that I run every day by midnight and that I run at least 2 miles per day. (And for the sake of honestly, I’ll admit that sometimes those two miles were more of a trot.)

It actually went really well! The first week was easy peasy. I still had a runner’s high from the Run the Bluegrass half marathon and was leading into the Go! St. Louis half that weekend. “This will be no problem!” I thought.


Annica and I finishing the half marathon in STL.

Week two was a little more difficult. Eliot and I were in Denver for the week and naturally the night we arrive 8″ of snow are dumped on the city. Let’s just say, I learned to love the dreadmill that week. It was actually a good opportunity to try out podcasts and it reaffirmed my school-girl crush on Ira Glass.

At the end of our week in Denver Eliot and I went to Boulder to visit Tracy, a former Hotdogger. I met up with Tracy when I was in the SW with Abe last September and it was great to get together with her again. She is also training for a half marathon, so she didn’t think I was totally delusional when I got up at 6:30 a.m. after a night out on the town to go run.


Talk about a beautiful run! I’ve been throwing around the idea of either moving to Boulder, CO or Madison, WI after grad school, and that run just made me even more set on Boulder. Absolutely gorgeous and I was in good company – it is such an active city and so many people were out biking and running! I was worried about the altitude, but after a few days to acclimate it was totally fine.


Around week two I encountered the first obstacle. There were some days where I wouldn’t run in the morning and by the end of the day I was just exhausted. With running an absolute impossibility because I was so tired, I did what any (in)sane Type-A runner would do – I set the alarm for 11:00 p.m. and then hit the sack. Yep, I did this last minute nonsense not once, but multiple times over the month.

This method was effective for getting the miles in, but was an absolutely terrible idea. Groggy, I was obviously slower. By the end of the runs however I would be wide awake, with a bit of a runner’s high, unable to fall asleep! For someone usually in bed by 10:00, seeing the clock read anything after midnight is not a welcome sight to see.

The roughest late night run though was after our drive from Denver to Lexington, Nebraska, which finally ended when we pulled into the hotel at 11 p.m. This was almost exactly halfway through the month and I knew it would be a tipping point. The hotel gym was pathetic too and my tired brain kept encouraging me not to waste my time. Finishing 15 minutes before the witching hour though, I got my two miles in!

I’m glad I did – the next day was April 15th – the day of the Boston Marathon. This was a very emotional day for me. When I heard the news I was instantly gripped with fear, for my friends running and those who live in the area. Once I was assured everyone I knew was safe the fear turned to paralyzing anger and sadness.


The tragedy at Boston was the first terrorist attack that truly resonated with me. I was a little young to fully comprehend the horror of 9/11 and many other attacks, while devastating, have felt abstract. I am a runner. I want to run Boston. I know people running Boston. These are my people. I couldn’t believe that there were people out there with so much hate that they would want to rob people of so much joy, on the most monumental day of many of their lives. Even now, I am still eager for answers.

After the tragedy there was no giving up on the goal. There are three people who will never get to run again, and countless others who will face unbelievable obstacles. The least I could do was reach the goals I set for myself and run for Boston.

The second half of the month was challenging, no question. Without the initial enthusiasm, the goal was a little harder to keep up with. My strategy on those days was to go into the workout promising to at least do two miles and usually I ended up doing more.

On a lighter note though, I found this goal had one other unexpected difficulty – laundry. Holy sports bras! My laundry pile doubled in size each week with all the athletic clothes that accumulated as a byproduct.

The running definitely paid off though. I’m a goal junkie because there are always measurable results. You either did it or you didn’t. With running there is the added bonus of being able to compare times, pacing, and distances, and over the month I noticed some serious improvement in my times.

The first mini-goal I achieved was running a half marathon on a treadmill in Milwaukee. Running long distances on the treadmill was something I never really thought I could actually hack, so in a burst of dedication, I decided to give it a whirl. Not only did I do it (Ira Glass and This American Life helped me through the first hour) but I did the 13.1 miles in under 2:00 hours!

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The second goal was actually a really huge deal to me. At the start of the year I set a goal to break the 9:00/mi pace for the half marathon. I knew I was capable of this, but with winter hibernation I figured it would have to wait until I was off the road. It was one of those things I was happy to be wrong about!

When I geared up for a long run last week I initially had only planned to do 12 miles at a 9:15 pace or so, but the run felt good. I’m talking about really good. Like wool socks in winter or a bratwurst at the ballpark good. I still turned back at 6 miles but knew full well that I would do a victory lap to make it a full half marathon at the end. I ended up finishing in 1:56:30, a training PR and an 8:54/mi pace. Whoo! While I would still like to break 9:00/mi in a race, I think it still counts as a goal attained!

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The last few days have simply been recovering from those runs and tapering for the Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis this weekend. (That’s right, that will be half marathon number three in five weeks!)

The month ended on a high note and I did my final run today in downtown Indianapolis with Tim. (We met up in St. Louis at the beginning of April and also did Mississippi back in January.) He had invited me to run with his Tuesday group, the Bourbon Street Running Club. It was a total blast!

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I ran with Tim, another Tim, Mike, and Dan – my friend Kathy’s husband. For four guys that are all roughly twice my age, they kicked my ass.

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We ran the canal and it was beautiful. Indianapolis is a lot like Louisville in my book, a hidden gem of the Midwest. It was 84 degrees out, a drastic change from blizzard conditions just weeks before, and path was packed.

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Running with people was a great change of pace, literally! I most likely would have lolly-gagged through a few miles today in the spirit of “tapering” but keeping a strong pace was no problem with these gentleman to chat with. After the run we headed back to the Bourbon Street Distillery to meet up with the rest of the group. It was a really fun afternoon, meeting all these other runners, and I’m even more excited now to join a running group when I get my bearings in Georgia.

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Now thirty days after starting this journey, I’ve reached another finish line. I DID IT! I’m 30/30 and at an average of 5 miles each day. It was a pretty arbitrary goal, but I’m definitely glad to have accomplished it.

Now who knows what May will bring…


Touristy Tuesday: Columbia, MO Edition

The way I would describe our time in Columbia would be like a week long speed dating session, but with friends. Columbia is home to Mizzou and I still have a lot of friends still in town. In our seven days in town I crammed as many friend dates in as possible! I didn’t get to see everyone, but I did have a blast seeing everyone I did get to hang out with.


In addition to meeting absolutely everyone I know, I also dragged Eliot all around Columbia. First I had to show him campus, the quad, the columns, and all the highlights of Mizzou.

My first night in town I met up with Zahra. Those familiar with Columbia would probably say go to Shakespeare’s Pizza, Harpos, or the Burg as soon as you get back in town. For me, it’s India House. It is just down the street from my old apartment (home sweet home for Zahra now) and is one of my favorite places to go with Zahra. I mean, she obviously knows the best choices on the menu too!


We had some much needed girl talk and then Kevin joined us for dinner. Remember him? He’s the one who called me Hot Dog the whole time we hung out over Thanksgiving break. Not much has changed there!

After dinner we walked down the street (another reason to love CoMO – everything is in walking distance) to Ragtag, which is an independent movie theater/cafe/bar. It gets to be a lot of different things because it is just that cool. I mean, they have couches for seats in the theater! We were going to see all the short films nominated for Oscars this year. I had a great time, but don’t remember much. I managed to stay awake to finish a glass of wine, but was knocked out almost as soon as I put the glass down! Big surprise, but I slept through the whole thing. (Here’s a fun fact about me: I need my movies to END by 9 p.m. – this one started at 9 p.m. so there wasn’t even a glimmer of hope I would make it through without falling asleep.)


Eliot and I were actually in town for recruiting at Mizzou, looking for the next class of Hotdoggers. As we were walking around campus on Friday putting up fliers we stumbled across a show setting up in Jesse Hall. It turned out to be the traveling broadway production of Shrek the Musical. Both being big Disney fans and having limited amounts of shame, we joined a hundreds of small children and went to see it that night.


I’ll be honest, Mike Myers did such a great job with the film Shrek that I was leery of how it would translate to the stage. It was pretty good. I’m not going to say it blew me away, but it was definitely fun to see and the set was great. Of course, that final number with I’m a Believer is always the best. Even before the show, that was the official theme song for Eliot and I anyway.

Saturday night Eliot and I went to another show as Jesse Hall, but of a much different kind. There were absolutely no children in a theater this time!


As part of the 1 Billion Rising campaign, we went to go see the Vagina Monologues.


Eliot had never seen them and I love them, so I felt we just had to go! Let me tell you something, going to see the Vagina Monologues with a co-worker you’ve only worked with for a month is something that will definitely test a partnership. But we both survived, probably due to never speaking about it or uttering the word vagina again after the curtain closed.


Luckily, Zahra and Kevin joined us along with one of their friends and their infusion of goofiness dropped the awkwardness level down a bit too.


After the Vagina Monologues Eliot and I headed downtown to meet up with a bunch of my friends. It was Emily’s birthday and she always has the very best birthdays. Last year she had a bucket of champagne with sparklers coming out for goodness sake!


It worked out great that it was her birthday weekend because a lot of people were in town to celebrate! There was another added bonus that the journalism career fair was also this week and so a lot of grads were back in town as well.


Talk about a great night. We started at Room 38 and let’s be honest, since it is one of the classiest places in town the night could inevitably only go downhill – in a good way anyway!


From Room 38 we headed to Shot Bar, which is a relatively new place. Take a shot and leave. (“It’s SOOOO European,” said all the undergrads fresh from their study abroad experiences that left them feeling like the epitome of cultured.) Really it’s just a chance to charge insane amounts for a drink and get quick turnover.


At Quintons, my favorite bar back in college, Eliot and I were getting drinks when I looked down the bar and recognized a familiar face. Sure enough, it was Adam Hickey, another Hotdogger and Mizzou grad who we had met up with in Chicago a month before. Talk about a small world!

The night ended with quite a lot of dancing and quite a lot of tacos. Isn’t that how it always goes in college though?



Along the way, I introduced Eliot to some other Columbia staples including $1 Burgers on Sundays at Big 12. I made sure he got the waffle fries so I could eat them! We also tried somewhere new for me – Main Squeeze, a local vegetarian place. I had a sunflower burger (?!) and it was deeee-licious!


We did make one final reappearance in Columbia, driving through for lunch this past week, where we remembered to bring cash to try the sliders at Booches and I got to catch up with Emily and Tyler one more time as well!


I had done my best to show Eliot the best Columbia had to offer in our one week in town. He saw the classy side of things on campus and the fun side downtown. Sadly, he never got to really experience the sports side, but I think I might have gotten Mizzou to be his SEC team of choice now!

Being back on campus was a blast, but I’m even more eager to get to grad school now. I’m ready to have my nose in books, coffee cups, and pint glasses again!

Touristy Tuesday: Salt Lake City, UT Edition

I already blogged about the most exciting part of my week in Salt Lake City – the Porter’s Half Marathon! Although that was certainly the highlight of the week, we still did some pretty fun things in the area. That being said, I’m grateful we’ll be back to Salt Lake because there are still lots of things on my bucket list for the area!

Our trip to Salt Lake City started off with a bang on that first day rafting and exploring! After that, we spent quite a bit of the week hanging out and just taking it easy. Recovering, if you will, from having so much fun the week before!

This week at work provided plenty of entertainment though. We were kept busy handing out whistles to the ample amounts of children present at all of our events – talk about some extensive families! (And I thought those families in the latino districts were big!)

Here’s what I can say about the people of Salt Lake City – they are unbelievably friendly and unbelievably blonde. I really just can’t get over how NICE everyone in this town is! And here I thought the Midwest was home to the most neighborly people.

It only took two days in town before I got my first Book of Mormon. The lady who gave it to me was a total sweetheart! She answered a lot of questions I had about Mormonism, some answers of which were quite shocking. For example, I asked if girls ever went on their own missions. She said they aren’t allowed to until they’re 21 and when I asked why she said they prefer the women to stay home and get married! Hey, at least she was honest. But that certainly explains why I kept seeing girls that looked my age stop by with 3 or more kids! I couldn’t get over how many children all these young couples have! There was definitely some culture shock there. What’s funny is that I grew up in a high school where all the teenage girls had kids, so this really shouldn’t seem that surprising. Just different contexts I suppose.

Thursday night we went out to dinner with Abe’s cousin, Rueben. He’s a professional soccer player. (Yeah, what?! No big deal!) He was in town with FC Dallas for their game against Real Salt Lake and we headed downtown to the new City Center shopping district for dinner. It seems like a pretty good shopping area, but I had already stocked up on all the sundresses I’d ever need in Fresno. It was pretty cool though to hear about Rueben’s life with soccer and traveling on the road.

Rueben also hooked Abe and I up with tickets to the game that weekend. It was my first MLS game, but really my first soccer game of any kind. Surprisingly, it was pretty fun – especially for not knowing any of the rules besides no hands! Haha!

The stadium definitely had a different feel to it than the football or baseball games I’ve been to. There was an entire drum section that kept the mood lively the entire game. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without those beats! We were in the minority, cheering for FC Dallas, but it was pretty exciting because they won!

Choreographed halftime routine of hundreds of high school dance girls. It was pretty impressive actually!

Saturday morning was the big Porter’s Half Marathon, which was definitely the highlight of the week for me. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I freaking love the running community. They are some of the coolest people you’ll meet! That’s why I love racing – it’s 100% concentrated with awesome people.

Sunday we just took it easy and packed up for the drive to Boise, which is where we are this week. I can already tell you this next week is going to be a good one! Look forward to some great running posts, a post about … CROSSFIT, and hopefully some fun touristy trips and nights out on the town. Rumor has it there is a club that has both a comedy show and dueling pianos afterward!

As always, any suggestions on where to go in Boise, what to eat, and who to meet up with while we’re in town?

Touristy Tuesday: San Francisco and Monterey, CA Edition

-Each Tuesday I post about my last week in a new city. These tend to be more like travelogues, but you might find some running anecdotes scattered in here too! But be warned, these post always end up being novels!–

After two weeks in the Arizona heat Abe and I headed back to California! Coming from 118 degree weather, we were anything but prepared for the 68 degree days that we experienced over the last week! Despite the unexpectedly chilly weather, I was pleasantly surprised with all that the area had in store for us.

San Francisco

With two days off right away, Abe and I rented a car and headed to San Francisco. It’s always a nice reprieve from the company car when we splurge for a rental and it set us up for a few low key days to just be tourists! Immediately we plugged in the gps coordinates for our first stop: the Golden Gate Bridge!

What a spectacular sight. The Grand Canyon was an unbelivable natural wonder, but the Golden Gate Bridge was a man-made architectural marvel. I had no idea it was just so big! Yes, yes, yes – I’ve seen the history channel “making of” shows that illustrates how thick the cabling is, but I think it is definitely something you have to see to really understand the magnitude of. Did you know that bridge is 1.6 miles across?! How is that even possible?

I, of course, was delighted to acquire one more stamp for my National Park Passport. Naturally, it was the second time in a row I forgot the darn thing and just had to stamp some scrap paper to paste in later.

Abe and I walked about halfway across the bridge, overlooking the bay and Alcatraz.

From the Bridge we continued on our tour of all the great San Francisco tourist stops. First, we drove through the Presidio.

Then we headed up and down those crazy San Francisco streets to Lombard Street. It was just like in the movies! Not only would the hills have killed the company car, but I don’t know how well the 27′ long hot dog would have done on those curves down Lombard.

I was glad we actually got to drive down it, instead of just walk, because that was an absolute blast!

With the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard street checked off our bucket list, we had to experience true San Francisco culture and off to Castro Street we went! We knew we had made it to the right area when we were greeted by the football field sized rainbow flag. Ok, that might be an over-exaggeration! I’m not exaggerating though when I say that we saw a handful of naked men on a street corner – I’ll spare you that photo though!

From there, we scouted out our home for the night – a youth hostel on Union Square. This was Abe’s first stay in a hostel and it didn’t fail to deliver on the grimy, yet eccentric experience you expect from a hostel.

We had to go down a shady back alley, and up the walkup, but eventually we made it to our cozy four-man room that we would be sharing with a French couple.

Since it was no Four Seasons, we dropped our bags and grabbed a bite to eat.

Over dinner we decided it was time for Abe to experience another first: an authentic musical. The Scottsboro Boys, a Tony-nominated musical based on 1930’s racist America, was playing just down the street from our hostel. At only $15/ticket it was a steal!

The musical was fantastic. Even though it was a dark story line, recounting the wrongful convictions for several African American boys, it was done in such a way that it was actually very engaging and fun.

The next day we were supposed to head to Alcatraz, but we missed the memo that you have to buy your tickets days in advance for that! Bummer!

Cutting our losses, we decided to go for breakfast. One of the previous Hotdoggers had recommended an app for my phone called TVFoodMaps. The app maps out all the restaurants around your location that have been featured on TV food shows, like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Talk about the best app ever! At it’s suggestion, we decided to try Dottie’s True Blue Cafe.

We knew it would be good when there was a line out the door. Waiting to be seated, I had plenty of time to peruse their menu and scope out all the pastries they had on their counter. They’re known for blueberry cornmeal pancakes, but what caught my eye almost immediately was this enormous s’mores bar.

Abe and I ended up being seated next to another duo, all at the same table. I couldn’t resist this s’mores bar (even at 10 in the morning) and saw the perfect opportunity to make friends. I ordered one for the table, they heated it up, and we split it four ways. Talk about five-star sanctimonious! The girl said, “alright, I think it’s time to get each other’s names now,” and we officially met Holly and Josh.

Breakfast was an absolute delight. I had a spice pancake with pepper jelly. Abe had these black bean cakes that were also to-die-for! Holly let me try the Whisky Fennel Sausage Scramble that Dottie’s is known for, which was out of sight. I can definitely say the best part of traveling is making those unexpected friends.

After they rolled us out of breakfast, we crossed the Bay Bridge and went off to UC Berkeley. Abe and I wandered around campus for a bit before going to Sather Tower, their 307′ clock tower, the third largest bell-and-clock tower in the world! For only $2 we went up to hear the noon 61-bell carillon performance.

We also poked around their law school for a bit. With the current job only lasting a year, Abe is on the lookout for his next steps. I had the privilege of teaching a lecture at this high class establishment.

Our last stop in San Francisco was a very special one to me. My mom, whose blog about being an expat in Istanbul you can read here, is a librarian. I grew up with some simply fabulous books, one of which was “Fanny at Chez Panisse.” It’s the story of Chef Alice Waters’ daughter and her adventures at Chez Panisse, a fine dining French restaurant in the bay area.

Abe and I originally planned to have lunch at their cafe, but because we left breakfast at 11:30 and our lunch was planned for 12:30 we were just too stuffed with s’mores and had to cancel. I still went to check it out though and bought an autographed copy of the book! And with that as our final stop, we headed back down to Monterey.

We did head to Milpitas, CA one evening to have dinner at Abe’s friend’s house. Max, who Abe knows from their service together in Kuwait, Erich, and their parents put on an incredible meal for us – all with very unique and ethnic food, much of which I had never heard of much less tried!

We started with Jack Fruit, which was this sticky, tropical goodness.

For dinner we had chicken hearts and gizzards (yes, I tried them – yes, they were tasty!) and a goat curry. Their mom is from Seychelles, an African island, and a lot of the food was native to her culture. I also tried mussels for the first time. (How did I get this far in life without trying all these foods?!) Abe and I have really lucked out with these homemade dinners recently! We may be back after a meal like that.


The next few days we actually got some work done! After working, Abe and I went for a nice run along the trails in Ford Ord Dunes State Park. I ran there earlier in the week when it was cloudy and overcast. The second run there it was sunny and spectacular. This time I went the opposite direction of my first run (which had disappointedly ended up running along the streets) only to discover how how beautiful, yet hilly that side of the park is. It’s like there were sand dunes or something there!

Nothing beats a good seven mile run like a walk on the beach. Although that was almost a workout in itself!

That night we headed down to Cannery Row in Monterey at the suggestion of just about everyone, including my very trustworthy Grandma. We had dinner at a pretty good Mexican restaurant, which should have included “breath-taking views” on the menu. Abe and I look out our window overlooking the ocean only to see two seals!

Also on the agenda for that evening was going to a tattoo place so Abe could get a new tattoo. Anyone who knows me, knows I love going with people to get tattoos – especially if I’m the one who convinced them! Anyone who knows me also knows that I’ll claim to get a tattoo or piercing with them, but would never actually follow through!

(The one footnote there is the great Nose Piercing Incident of 2008, when my girlfriends made me go first! The nose piercing lasted a whopping three months, but I did it!)

2008 Throwback pic!

While I was waiting for Abe to get his tattoo set up, I perused options for myself. They had this wall with countless frames and I told Abe to give me the coordinates for a frame and I would get something tattooed from one of them. D-8 tattoos were all bleeding skulls and H-12 consisted entirely of bald eagles. Abe clearly wasn’t any good at picking coordinates, so I had to enlist the help of someone else to help me pick out my first tattoo – that’s how I met Cleveland Dave.

Dave was in the shop getting WANDERLUST tattooed on his legs. Once I heard that, I knew this guy was going to be awesome! He was doing WANDER on one and LUST on the other, and I warned him that he better not to lose a leg, because then he’d just end up a lustful one-legged guy! Putting up with my bad jokes, he was still down to try his hand at picking out coordinates. Unfortunately, I wasn’t up to get a magic 8 ball and that game ended pretty quickly! (I hope you’re happy Mom and Dad if you’re reading this!)

Abe and I ended up leaving that tattoo parlor both bare because they couldn’t do exactly what Abe was looking for. Oh well, I love going on adventures like that!

Then, our last day in Monterey turned out to be, by far, the best day on the job yet! It’s awesome that the last two Sundays have been our best days in each place. We’re certainly setting a pattern of ending on a high note.

Sunday started with an absolutely excruciating run along the ocean, but I’ll be dammed if I didn’t feel awesome after it! I think I was just exhausted when I started, but after running next to the coastline I couldn’t have been in a better mood. At one point during the run I heard some barking – turns out there were a pack of seals on the rocks down by the beach!I mean, how cool is that? My runner’s high at the end of the run was sky-high and that pretty much continued for the rest of the day.

So why was the rest of the day so incredible? Well, let’s start with our event – the Carmel Beach Dachshund Society Wiener Roast. Yep – wiener dogs, wieners, and the Wienermobile! We pulled up, a full 45 minutes before the event was actually going to start, to more than 50 little Doxies!

And just like that, I spent the entire day just playing with dogs! How could I have had more fun?

Assured this was probably the coolest thing happening in the area, I invited Cleveland Dave down for all the fun!

After the event Abe and I had plans for one more touristy thing we had not yet done in the region, the scenic 17 Mile Drive around Carmel and Monterey. Dave, relatively new to the area with the Army, hadn’t been so he came along too.

What an asset he was to the trip – he narrated the trip for us in fantastic British accent!

Disappointingly, I was not able to get a stamp for my park passport on this drive! For $9.75 you saw some gorgeous coastline, some incredible houses, and a lot of golf courses. For the more golf-savvy that course might have been a big deal, but for as an amateur put-putter it left little impression on me.

With our bucket list for the area complete, it was time for dinner! Abe opted for Mexican food back at the hotel, and so Dave showed me around to the best Thai place in Monterey! I have been craving Indian or Thai food for awhile, but since Abe knows the best mexican places everywhere we go I haven’t been able to indulge!

We headed down to a quieter downtown area of Monterey that wasn’t the tourist trap of Cannery Row. Not only was the area perfect, but the restaurant was also one of the best yet! At 7:00 on a Sunday you would expect any restaurant to be dead, but this place was packed, with a wait! Definitely worth it!

I had a pineapple coconut chicken curry and Dave went with basil pork. Normally one person always orders something that’s the standout winner, but both of these dishes were delicious!

The dinner was topped only by the conversation. With an undergrad and masters degree in history, I was already impressed. However, Dave is also studying Farsi at the military language institute in town! That’s not something you hear every day. He also backpacked through Europe by himself for six weeks after graduating school. You can see where the WANDERLUST tattoo stemmed from!

I think I need to get back to Monterey just to hear more about all these awesome adventures and get ideas for my own travel bucket list!

And that was it for Monterey! With an absolutely incredible last day, start to finish, I headed back to the hotel to pack for the next adventure: Los Angeles!