Touristy Tuesday: San Francisco, CA – New Years Eve 2013

Happy New Years! What…? it’s April already, you say? Oh, I guess I’m a little late to the party on that one.

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Even though I’m more than a few months overdue on this blog, I wanted to make sure I documented Abe and I’s second San Francisco adventure. Better late than never right? This was really the last city for Abe and I before the big switch of regions and partners, so to say we made the most of it is an understatement. Here’s a preview, or a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) for you.

  • Bars.
  • Dancing in bars.
  • Falling while dancing in bars.
  • Tourist traps.
  • Touristy adventure with the musician from the aforementioned bar.
  • Airport bars.
  • Football.
  • Book of Mormon – The Musical.
  • New Years Eve.
  • The morning after New Years Eve.

So if that table of contents gives you any indications for what is to come you should be able to deduce two things: First, that it’s going to be a long post. (Sorry I’m not actually sorry!) And second, that it was quite the couple of weeks.

Abe and I rolled into San Francisco after a week in Bakersfield. If you’ve ever been to, or even heard of Bakersfield, you know it isn’t exactly the most glamorous of California destinations and we were eager for a change of pace. San Fran delivered on that immediately when our dynamic duo turned into a trio for a few days, with the arrival of Hotdogger Ron. Abe and I met Ron at the Hotdogger Reunion in Madison back in October and hit it off immediately, especially since Ron and I are both Mizzou J-School/Geology grads. We all just happened to be in San Fran at the same time, so it was inevitable that we would meat up again!

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Once we got to the city we stopped by the hotel just long enough to change, sip some wine (the buzz helps with that BART ride in) and hit the road. San Francisco greeted us with spectacular Christmas displays and after wandering around Union Square for a bit we settled for a Thai place for dinner. After that is when the bar hopping began. I should have known from the get-go that trying to keep up with not one, but TWO Hotdoggers would spell trouble. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have that foresight.

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We started at Lefty O’Doul’s Piano Bar, and then headed down the street to another pub. The second bar we went to also promised to be a piano bar but it turned out to just be a singer and his guitar. We were anything but disappointed because he delivered on our request for Sweet Caroline and then kept the hits coming after that. When there is live music involved it’s usually not long until Abe starts calling for shots, and sure enough a round quickly appeared.

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Let me pause and set the scene up here. Up until this moment there had been lively music going on in the background thanks to our friend. The guitarist was doing an excellent job and the make-shift dance floor had one stand-out couple doing their best to keep up with the music. It was picture perfect, right? Of course, with shots in hand, that is when the guitarist decides to take a break! Now, I’m the kind of girl that if I’m taking a shot it’s gotta be fun. A silent bar isn’t exactly my style, so with some cajoling I managed to convince the guitarist for one more song. He warily glanced at the couple on the dance floor, who were more shuffling than dancing at this point, but my enthusiasm must have been convincing because he gave in and started up another tune.

Now that’s where it gets a little fuzzy. It must have been a good song because I decided this was the perfect opportunity to dance with this guy on the dance floor, who’s partner had suddenly vanished. It started out as a fun, innocent dance, but ended in a train wreck. Initially things were going well, with some nice high school prom moves. Then he went in to twirl me, only for both of us to realize a little too late that neither of us were ready for that elaborate of a move. Like two asteroids colliding in space, we crashed into each other. He went down first, and then accidentally brought me down with him. (Abe claims I went first, but I beg to differ, perhaps in an effort to salvage some dignity.) Even this is making it sound far more graceful that it really was. We ate it. BIG time. In front of everyone.

Meanwhile, Abe and Ron were enjoying the spectacle from the sidelines laughing hysterically. Abe, who knows my dance moves all too well, looked neither shocked nor surprised at the calamity. The guitarist, who had warned me when I got up to dance that I would be better off going solo, gave me a knowing I-told-you-so grin. With all the charm and grace I could muster, I quickly regained my step, curtseyed, and left joe-shmo to recover on his own.

Embarrassed? Definitely. Regretful? Only slightly. Everyone has to have an experience of being mortified in public at least once, right?

That story might be one of those you-had-to-be-there moments, but rest assured it was a sight to see! When consulting Abe about this blog post he made sure to tell me repeatedly that this was the single funniest moment from our seven months together.

Anyway, the guitarist later came over to introduce himself. I was honestly expecting a lecture on how to adequately select a dance partner (I’m sticking with Abe from now on) but he ended up just chatting us up. He had a strong accent that I hadn’t noticed while he was singing, which turned out to be Croatian, and introduced himself as Demir. Now believe it or not, but I happen to know just enough Serbian, a sister language of Croatian, to get through introductions. Somehow I think it was my ability to stutter out “Good evening” in his native tongue, rather than my dance skills, that kicked off the friendship. Although Ron, Abe, and I piled into a cab and headed back to the hotel we were all staying at, we made plans for Demir to show us all around San Francisco later in the week.

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The next day was a true Touristy Tuesday, and this one actually fell on a Tuesday! We started off with a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge. Although Abe and I had seen it on our first trip to San Francisco we hadn’t actually been there in the Wienermobile, a photo op we couldn’t exactly pass up.

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The second time around the weather was absolutely beautiful, with totally clear skies this time, and we had much better parking having charmed the bike cops with Wiener Whistles.

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From the Golden Gate Bridge we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for the first clam fest of many to be had in San Francisco.

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The smell of sourdough captured our senses and we were drawn into the famous Boudin’s Bakery.

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We scored a table overlooking the water and while we waited there were plenty of pretty incredible creatures made out of dough to marvel at. I love bread and I love cool stuff made out of food, so I adored this place! (Send me an Edible Arrangement over flowers almost any day.)

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Between the clam chowder and the clam pizza, it was a true San Francisco adventure.

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After Boudin’s, we headed through the Castro district for some sight-seeing and then went over to see the Painted Ladies Victorian houses. This was another picture-perfect moment. The only thing missing were bread baguettes to sword fight with! (Next time I suppose!)

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For the short time Ron got to spend with us he really assimilated well with the SW team – drink a lot, eat a lot, and do a bunch of touristy things in as short amount of time as possible. I think Abe would agree that would sum up our approach to adventure pretty well over the seven months we were together.

The next day Demir from the bar called. Dobro utro! (That’s “good morning” for all of you non-Croatian speakers out there.) Neither Abe or I really expected to get the local’s perspective, but it worked out wonderfully. After lunch in an artsy-fartsy area of town that I’ve now forgotten the name of, Demir showed off everything from the fanciest of houses to some of the prettiest views.

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We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went driving through the Marin Headlands. Talk about spectacular! Not only did I come out of the afternoon with some beautiful photos, but I landed another passport stamp! I’ve still been avidly collecting stamps for my National Park Passport, opportunities for which have been strikingly less frequent in the Midwest, and we stopped by the visitors center to get one for the Headlands. Success! (Every time I get one of those stamps I think how proud my Grandma should be, having started me on the whole passport craze from an early age.)

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That evening we went to The Trident in Saulsalito for wine and more clam chowder, while overlooking the bay and the city. It had to have been the best view of the city in the area! That was it for the day, but it proved again how much fun this job is – exploring new places with new people!

Sadly, Abe and I did have to actually work some of those days in San Francisco. Between retail events and a stop at the Ronald McDonald house in town we didn’t have much more time for exploring, and soon enough we were headed home for Christmas.

I was flying out Friday evening on what I thought was a red-eye from San Francisco to Kansas City. Guess I should have read that ticket a little closer…. Yes – I left at 7 p.m. and yes – I got in at 8 a.m. But no – that was not all time spent in flight! Turned out I was actually spending the night in Denver’s finest sleeping accommodations – the United Airlines terminal.

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This wasn’t my first time spending the night in a terminal, having previously been stranded in Newark on my 19th birthday, and Denver lacked the charm of terminal life that Tom Hanks had portrayed so nicely. Oh well, six hours later I was in a slightly comfier, albeit more squished seat headed home.

Even with the headache of overnight travel, it was still a fun trip back. My flight out of San Francisco had actually been delayed numerous times and practically every passenger was camped out at the airport bar. The plane was pretty much filled entirely with 20-something Coloradans going home for Christmas and we had a great time swapping stories from our first years out on our own. If they hadn’t finally called for boarding, I think we would have ended up ordering a bottle of champagne to kick off the winter holidays! We even swapped numbers to meet up on New Years, although that never really panned out.

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Christmas back home was low key and mostly just filled with puppies and good books.

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I feel the need to bring this up specifically given the amount of going out I mention in this blog post. I have to reassert my wholesomeness, ya know?

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In all seriousness, I spent most of my time back in Kansas City curled up by the fire working my way through Pride & Prejudice. That kicked off the classic novel spree that lasted throughout the month of January. (I’ll come clean and admit that it even started impacting my vocabulary!) After Pride & Prejudice I started Jane Eyre and it just continued from there.

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While I was home we also celebrated my step mom’s birthday. With it being so close to Christmas she has had the unfortunate luck of being lumped in with the holidays each year growing up, so I try to always be over-the-top with her birthday now.

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After a few days home, I was due back to San Francisco. Although we get two weeks off for the winter holidays, Abe and I were on a special assignment that was breaking up our off days. For the last three years Kraft has been sponsoring the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl and this year Navy was playing Arizona State at AT&T park. (Yes, AT&T Park is a baseball stadium. Apparently you can play football at it too – who knew?!)

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Abe and I had the tough job of attending the pre-game pep rally in Union Square, staying at Hotel Nikko (which was also on the square) and watching the game from the Kraft box suite. I know – working over the holidays is really rough.

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While the game was a bit of a wash, with Navy losing pretty horribly, one great thing came out of it: this picture.Hotdogger photo bomb

(My friend from high school, Kalah, goes to ASU and saw this in one of her friends’ Facebook albums. Not sure what exactly I’m doing back there, but it was the perfect photo bomb. Probably just being my usual over-enthusiastic self.)

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After our work with the Kraft Bowl was done Abe and I decided to stick around for New Years Eve in San Francisco. I had two goals: have an awesome time on New Years Eve and then check California off the Race for 50 States by doing a half marathon in the morning on New Years Day. Clearly there was some dissonance between those two goals and it was either one or the other. You can probably guess which one I achieved. (Or maybe not, I really do love running.) Spoiler alert: it was the first at the expense of the second.

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Our boss Ed had told us that the Union Square Westin always has a really elaborate and over-the-top New Years Eve party each year, the biggest in San Francisco. The theme was Passport to the World, with 10+ rooms with different international themes, an open bar, and tons of live entertainment. Although the shock value associated with the ticket price would be good content, I’m too embarrassed to admit how much the tickets actually were. Regardless, it was completely worth it.

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Each room had a separate theme, from Asian to 80’s. We were a little confused on the 80’s theme, since that’s not really a country, but hey – why question it because that was one of the best rooms in the place. We used the night as an excuse to pull out the formal wear we had been lugging around for months and actually put our fancy pants on!

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We wandered from room to room, bar to bar, enjoying the ample amounts of people watching. That was probably my favorite part. Everyone was dressed to the nines and I felt like I had stepped into a C-list version of People Magazine! All the dancing we did that night went well and there were no repeat collision incidents to be had.

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After a few hours and more than a few drinks, the countdown to 2013 started. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it happened. Abe and I kissed. Or rather, according to Abe, I kissed him. It may not have been reciprocal. While I certainly believe that story, the combination of it being two hours after my typical bedtime and more than two drinks past my usual limit, I don’t totally remember all the details. It was certainly our first, last, and only kiss that we will ever share. But hey – it’s NYE and it was in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne!

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The trip home was equally adventurous. Trying to figure out CalTrain vs. the BART after midnight on New Years is something you only need to do once in your life. Luckily some kind fellow travelers pointed us in the right direction and we eventually made it back to the hotel.

  • Formal wear – Check!
  • Champagne toast – Check!
  • Midnight kiss – Check!

I’d call that a successful New Years Eve!

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The next morning was less of a success. I actually woke up a couple hours later, at 6 a.m. for the half marathon, and promptly turned over, hit the snooze button, and decided to wake up when 2013 was a few more hours old.

The rest of our time in San Francisco was spent mostly in recovery mode. Partly from New Years Eve and partly from being sick. Abe had the flu and decided to spend most of his time in bed, while I was still determined to get out and about.

We did have one good brunch at this psuedo-southern restaurant called Farmer Brown’s, which had a spectacular buffet featuring chicken and waffles, grits, and bottomless mimosas. At this point we were really only interested in the first two options, and decided to save the mimosas for next time. This was an unexpected treat, which I wouldn’t have expected in trendy, hip San Francisco. It was the perfect post-NYE menu though, that’s for sure!

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If San Francisco is known for anything besides the bridge, it’s known for the gay community and I needed to experience a little bit of that before I left. Since doing anything on Castro Street beyond just driving it is a little too adventurous for me, I decided to take a different route.

As a big fan of musicals I have been dying to see The Book of Mormon since I first heard about it. (Trust me – there is definitely a bit of fab-u-lous in it.) Having been to Salt Lake City, gotten my own copy of the Book of Mormon while there, and been to both the Temple Square and Tabernacle Choir, seeing the musical seemed like a natural next step! (Maybe more of a leap, from serious to nonsensical, but it holds with the Mormon theme at least.)

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Abe and I had looked into tickets, but since it would have been a week’s salary for each of us we just wrote it off. Then, while out on my own grabbing dinner one night, I saw a huge crowd around a theater. I didn’t realize it until then, but I was right by the venue the musical was at! It was about 7:40 and I assumed the curtain call was probably 8 p.m. – talk about the perfect time for cheap, last minute tickets! I figured I would at least see what tickets were going for, just in case it wasn’t astronomical.

I went up to a scalper who said face value was $300. Gulp
Me – “Thanks but no thanks! Have a good one!”
Him – “Well, how much did you want to pay…?”
Me – “I don’t know that I even want to pay three digits for a ticket, much less $300!”
Him – “Oh, no way is that happening. I just sold a pair for $750.”
Me – “BBYYEE.”

By the time I had picked up a quick bite and started walking back to the hotel it was 7:55 and the scalper still had the same number of tickets in his hands. I knew I was golden at that point.

Me – “So are they $100 yet?”
Him – “Hey now! Don’t count my money just yet.”
Me – “Alright, well when will they be $100?” (Figuring I could easily just wait it out at this point.)

And just like that, at the 8:00 curtain call, I ended up with a center orchestra seat to one of the hottest shows in town. I was talking to the couple next to me and they just happened to mention that they had paid $900 for their two tickets! This was probably one of the prouder moments of negotiating I’ve had on the road, that’s for sure!

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The show itself was absolutely hysterical. It was a little too over-the-top, even for my taste, at times, but that is probably to be expected when the writers are the same guys who put together South Park.

And that was it for San Francisco! The day after New Years I was on a flight back to the Midwest to start the Southern road trip portion of break, for the Mississippi Blues Marathon.

Even though Abe and I had one hell of a good time in San Francisco, it is still a city I need to eventually make it back to. There are still a few things to do there on my bucket list, mainly running across the Golden Gate Bridge! I know – how did I not do that?! I also want to see Alcatraz and go out to John Muir Woods to get another stamp for the good old National Park Passport. Since I bailed on my race for California I have to make it back to the Golden State sometime anyway! Till next time San Francisco!

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Touristy Tuesday: Lubbock, TX Edition

I’m almost all caught up on my Touristy Tuesday posts! Before Thanksgiving break (or FRANKSgiving as we say in the hot dog world) Abe and I made the drive from Tucson, Arizona to Lubbock, Texas. It was one of the longest drives we’ve had yet, but it was a blast. New Mexico is absolutely stunning and somehow we didn’t run out of things to talk about on the all day trip.

Midway through the journey we took a slight detour (actually it was right along the road) and stopped at the White Sands National Monument. Abe and I were both excited for this roadside attraction.

Unlike most of our National Parks (or any place I can score another NP Passport Stamp) this was Abe’s adventure. Last month he finished reading “Dog Days, A Year in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile” by Dave Ihlendfeld, a former Hotdogger from the 90’s. You might remember that we met Dave back in Hollywood this summer and my Grandma had sent both Abe and I copies of the book. The book is next on my reading list, but Abe has read it cover to cover.

In the book Dave said White Sands was absolutely incredible and there is no question he was right about that! White Sands is the largest Gypsum sand dune in the world and it is located in the middle of the New Mexico desert. The geology nerd in me ate up every bit of it!

From there we headed through Las Cruces, NM. I can’t speak highly enough of New Mexico scenery – it’s absolutely gorgeous! I enjoyed the drive so much I immediately looked up the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon to see just where in New Mexico it is held. LAS CRUCES!! Even though I already checked New Mexico off the list (with the Doggie Dash) I am definitely committed to coming back for that race. Not only is the history behind the Bataan Memorial Death March compelling, but I know it would be an incredible race.

The trip also took us through Roswell, NM. By this time the sun had set in one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen, and we were driving in the dark. Driving the Wienermobile in the dark can be kind of a spooky experience, and Abe didn’t help the situation by telling me UFO stories and talking about ghosts. Jerk!

The next day Abe took off for Dallas to see his family and left me to explore Lubbock on my own. I had all sorts of grand plans – museums and nerdy things galore! Instead, I just ate a bunch of frozen yogurt and wandered around Target. I would still consider that a success because Abe deplores doing both of those things, so I was still taking advantage of him being gone.

I did have one exceptional discovery – Buffalo Springs Lake Park. This is clearly a secret gem for Lubbock. It was a beautiful lake that had a beach, a golf area, an RV park, off road trails, and an entire residential community.

I bet this place is packed over the summer, but when I was out there running I barely saw two people the entire time!

Talk about some great runs too! There were some serious hills around there. Since I do a lot of bike path running, hills aren’t as common as I’d like – or rather, I need, since I don’t exactly like hill work! Check out the elevation profile for my 19 miler!

Talk about some climbs. I can proudly say I ran every single hill and didn’t have to walk any of them!

Buffalo Springs Lake was so gorgeous I looked a little more into it online and was impressed to discover that it will be home to a Half Ironman next summer. Ooh! And there are still spots open! I had to refrain from registering instantly since I don’t know what the first semester of grad school will hold for me.

After two lonely days without Abe, he finally returned, with family in tow! His siblings Jordan and Rueben came in from Dallas to spend the night on Saturday. They picked a good night to come because we were going to see Holidaze – the Christmas Cirque du Soleil show.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know how much I’ve been dying to see a Cirque show since starting this job. Talk about the PERFECT opportunity. Not only do I adore Christmas, so this show was right up my alley, but the tickets were dirt cheap. In LA tickets started at $80 and in Vegas tickets were all $100+, but in Lubbock we scored decent seats for $35!

The show was incredible. Those stunts were mesmerizing. It really was all that I had heard it would be! I wasn’t sure if Cirque du Soleil was something you just needed to see one of, but after seeing it I definitely want to see the other shows!

The next day I had quite the small-world moment at work. Here we are, on our last day before break, and I look up to see Arielle – a girl I went to college with! I knew she was from Texas and had gone back to finish school, but I had no idea she was in Lubbock! I couldn’t believe it. We didn’t plan it at all, so it was a pleasant surprise for both of us.

Sunday was the last night together for Abe and I before going our separate ways for break. Not sure if we were drinking our sorrows of separation away or just celebrating vacation, but Sunday night we went out on the town. By that, I mean we walked to this pool hall and bar down the street from our hotel. It was an eventful evening – we watched one guy who was clearly far beyond his limit play air guitar by himself for TWO HOURS and also placed bets on a bar fight. We made a few friends (Abe was really just trying to convince someone to take us to Whataburger down the road) but called it a night once the smoke got to be too much. Come on Texas, catch up with the rest of the country and ban smoking in public establishments!

The next day we took off for Albuquerque, where the Wienermobile would get some much needed rest and TLC while we were home. My one regret for Lubbock: not going to see Prairie Dog Town. I wanted so badly to check out this free attraction that sounded so kitschy that it had to be fun. Abe vetoed it every day! Can you believe that? For shame! Guess that means I have to come back to Lubbock some day… maybe once the bars are smoke free!

Touristy Tuesday: Boulder, Colorado Edition (And a little LA adventures for good measure)

Finally – we had our long-awaited trip out to Colorado! I’m especially excited to write a recap of this last week for Touristy Tuesday because I got to spend it in the Boulder and Estes Park areas! Not only are those absolutely awesome cities, but that also means quality time with my family!

We made it to Boulder Sunday after quite the drive in from Salt Lake City. While we didn’t stop anywhere cool, like the Middle of Nowhere from last week, we did have a good time.

Abe and I played 20-questions (with no question limit – haha) but we played it with characters from the road. I write on this blog about all the new friends we’ve made, so you can tell that we have quite a few people who play with, but we also included literally every single person who has made an impression on us. Funny bartenders, quirky consumers – you name it, we made each other guess them! For TWO. HOURS. It was actually a great way to look back and reflect on all the cool people we’ve met on the road though!

 

Because we got into town so late I decided to stay in Boulder and leave the trip to Estes for the next day. So glad I did. Abe and I went to Pearl Street (it’s Boulder – of course!) and went to the Mountain Sun bar, which has live music every Sunday. It was packed! Not only was the music great, but the people were awesome too. Being Boulder, I knew the sundresses could probably stay packed, but even my jeans and tank top were dressier than most of the people in this place! Everyone was so laid back – such a nice break from California.

Naturally, Abe and I left with a cohort of new friends, including one guy who does market research for a Boulder company. Yep – that’s right – market research in Boulder. Basically my dream job! Of course I had to be best friends with this guy! When we swapped numbers at the end of the night I put him in my phone as “Future Co-CEO” so you know it’s going to be a promising friendship!

The next day, or rather 5 hours later, I got up and did a run, rounding out 50 miles for the week. Then after sweating out all the white wine from the night before, I hit the road and headed up to Estes Park to see my family!

My aunt and grandma both live in Estes and I was lucky enough to see them pretty recently when I came out for the Bolder Boulder in May. This trip though I took the company car and headed up the canyon where it fared quite well actually! When I got into Estes I took it right down Main Street to the arts and crafts fair that was going on downtown to meet my Aunt Karla. Talk about a warm welcome – the whole town was there to greet me!

My aunt, grandma, and I all headed to lunch at their favorite Estes establishment – the Mountain Home Cafe. If you ever find yourself in Estes make sure to check this place out – a really nice local family owns it and the food is great! The rest of the day we spent surprising various friends of theirs around town with the Wienermobile, which was a blast.

Of course one of the best parts of seeing family (besides of course seeing your awesome family) is the food! My aunt made all my favorites – granola and chips and salsa! (Not to be eaten together of course!) The next best thing – pets! My aunt got a little kitten in May and I got to see little Earnie again on this trip!

The rest of my time in Estes Park was low key and just hanging out – a much needed break! Before I left back to Boulder I had breakfast with my grandma (Mountain Home Cafe – I’m telling you, yumm!) and gave her a Facebooking 101 tutorial along with teaching a course on the Art of Copy and Paste.

Wednesday night I went out with the Future Co-CEO. I love seeing a town with the locals because they always know the best places to go! We went to this Pearl Street bar with Big Jenga. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – Jenga with enormous blocks.

The best part of Big Jenga though is that each block has been graffitied on so when they fall and you’re picking them up it’s basically like that magnetic poetry on the fridge – they form a story… a very drunk, vulgar, and incoherent story, but a story none the less!

 

After Jenga we picked up some paddles and played some ping-pong, only to be challenged by another couple. The Future Co-CEO had casually mentioned having won two tournaments in his day, so there was no saying no when they challenged us. Now, you think your odds are pretty good at winning when one of the two players on a team has won a ping-pong championship right? Well the guy on our opposing team was on his college team! What are the chances??

As the night went on it turned out that the couple we had been playing against met through Mensa. Yes, that’s the genius society. When it came to playing Big Jenga with them they certainly had an unfair advantage – actually commenting on the different properties of each block choice. WAY. TOO. SERIOUS. Just kidding though because they were actually absolutely awesome and a ton of fun to hang out with!

I imagine this is how they play Jenga at home…!

Eventually we decided we should probably actually get to work, so the extra-curricular fun slowed down a bit. I did do some running while in Boulder though. It’s crazy – there are just so many bike paths! They’re all connected too, which actually overwhelmed me. I like to just get on a trail and zone out, the options made me have to think too much about my route.

Friday we headed to Colorado Springs for an event at the Fort Carson military base. I was super excited about this trip, having lived in Colorado Springs when I was younger! After work we went and scoped out my old stomping grounds. What a trip down memory lane.

The company car in front of my old apartment building back in Colorado Springs!

Of course the number one thing I had to show Abe was Garden of the Gods. It was just as spectacular as I remember. I can’t believe I used to walk there every morning with my mom – how lucky we were!

We made it back to Boulder after a long drive, but it was Friday night and there was no calling it an early night. It’s the SW team – choose your own adventure, but always choose an adventure!

Abe and I met up with Traci (akaTaligatin’ Traci) a former Hotdogger, and her boyfriend. We had a total blast barhopping on Pearl Street with them! There was some deal going on in Boulder where if you wore a mask bars would give you certain specials. While we didn’t participate, the number of costumes and masquerade masks made for great people watching.

At one bar we got to chatting with the guy who was responsible for $7 worth of the jukebox  music. That led to us sticking around to give him the thumbs up/down for each song! He had 6/7 thumbs up – not bad!

We ended the evening the way a Hotdogger reunion should end – with hot dogs from a hot dog stand! Somehow I was convinced into ordering an Elk Dog, which was SPICY!!! When in Rome though… I mean, how do you not go to Colorado and get Elk? Haha!

We took off from Colorado on Sunday, California bound! After spending a few weeks out of the Golden State it was a little weird to go back, but we did, with 16+ hours of driving ahead of us. Day one of driving was a blast. Of course, Abe got a chili dog on the way, what is now becoming a drive day tradition for him!

We also made a stop along the way at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Featured on a majority of the Utah state license plates, this was one National Park that I HAD to see!

It lived up to its license plate infamy and was absolutely stunning. We were able to drive through almost the entire park, which was breathtaking.

Not only was I able to cross one more National Park off my bucketlist, but I was also able to proudly get another stamp IN my National Park Passport. That’s right, not FOR it, but actually IN it! I’ve got about 6 little slips of stamped paper just waiting to be cut and pasted into my passport because I always forget it. This time I actually remembered! It’s pretty ridiculous how much joy this $11 book brings me!

After our scenic detour we headed to Richfield, Utah – almost the exact halfway point between Denver and LA. The next day we were hoping to make another detour to the Hoover Dam outside Vegas, but after 15 hours of driving we just weren’t up to it. We will have to revisit that when we actually come out to Vegas next month.

We probably didn’t need to rush into town though, because when we finally did make it to San Bernardino we didn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. First, while entering LA, we were cut off by this madman driver who was driving dangerously aggressively. I was so concerned I actually called the cops and it was sweet victory when we saw him pulled over 10 minutes later! Making magic, saving lives! Our second welcome came when we were approaching our hotel and at the street corner there were three cop cars and a fire truck simultaneously arresting/bandaging this guy. Oh California, it’s so good to be back!

Despite the cornerside commotion, we were undeterred and eagerly checked into our hotel for the week – the Route 66 Wigwam Motel. We were supposed to be staying in TeePees for the week! What an iconic place – Americana at its finest – I mean, it was featured in cars!

The motel itself was very charming and peaceful. Each room was a separate Wigwam and they were adorable. The area surrounding the hotel was another story. It was the absolute ghetto! So scary that I didn’t even want to leave the Wigwam compound on my own.

We made it one night in the TeePees, but after that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to last six more days. A fun novelty, but the unsafe neighborhood and sketchy Wigwam bathrooms were enough for me. Luckily, I managed to get rate at a Hilton Garden Inn. Hello hotel points, fluffy towels, and continental breakfast!

We washed off the long double-day drive with a few beers and margaritas at a local dive. That was pretty much the highlight of the week.

San Bernardino proved to be one of the calmer places we’ve been. That was fine though because with 100+ degree weather and the great hotel, we were fine just relaxing by the pool! Although we didn’t go out too much, I did make some good progress on the latest book I’m reading “When Everything Changed” which chronicles the women’s movement from 1960 to the present. My grandma got it for me while in Estes and now I’m on this big women’s liberation kick, having also just ordered a few more books, including “The Feminine Mystique.”

Our week in San Bernardino was spent at the Route 66 Rendevouz, which was actually a pretty fun place to work. We met a TON of crazies (one guy said that downloading images online would lead to people not buying groceries) and the corn-on-the-cob guy hooked me up with free corn every day, so the Iowa girl in me loved it!

While we were leaving the festival we did have one other fun story, which was when a fireman stopped us at the gas station and had us come take a picture at the station. Normally we relish these opportunities because it means a free carwash for the company car, but because we were putting it up for storage we knew we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it. Turned out to be worth it though – they gave us a great tour of their facility and let us explore the whole place! Our tour guide went to Nebraska, so, while I’m not a big fan of his school, he had that Midwestern charm and friendliness that I crave whenever we’re in California!

That’s about it for Boulder and San Bernardino! This last week we spent in Madison, WI for our Hotdogger Fall Staff Meeting and the 25th Class Reunion of Hotdoggers. Now THAT will be an exciting blog! As for now, we’re currently in sunny San Diego and as always, if you know anything to do, anyone to meet, or anywhere to go – make sure to let us know!