Los Angeles, California, LA, Palm Trees

Pumped Up In Los Angeles

Last year, my dear friend Amber, of Manny the Frenchie fame, and I were attempting to plan her bachelorette party.  No matter what we thought of, there was a conflict either for our schedules, or for the destination.  Eventually, we decided to follow our mutual love for trashy reality shows to Los Angeles, California.  We planned a tour of all of the Lisa Vanderpump restaurants and based all of our travel plans around it.  Honestly, I was so excited.  I am a shameless lover of all Bravo shows and this was a dream trip of mine. 

Lisa Vanderpump, Pump, West Hollywood

We (myself, Amber and Dani, another bridesmaid) were going for a long weekend at the beginning of March and we would meet one of the other bridesmaids, Brenda (who already lives in Los Angeles) at the hotel.  We stayed at the Loew’s Hollywood Hotel, which was right off of Hollywood Boulevard, of course. Due to that notorious LA traffic, it took us 45 minutes to get there from the airport.

The lovely front desk staff made up for the long drive by upgrading us to a suite that had a view of the Hollywood Sign because we were celebrating. We had Amber wait for us in the bar and order some snacks while we ran up to the room and decorated for the Bachelorette. We put up signs and blew up balloons and threw confetti everywhere and then ran back down to join Amber. The snacks were extra delicious because we were all very hungry. We had truffle fries, shrimp flatbread and toasted butternut squash ravioli, which was much better than most lobby bar food.

We had reservations at SUR (Sexy Unique Restaurant) for dinner, so we took our time getting ready in the room, then met our fourth friend, Brenda, at the restaurant. I was SO EXCITED! Reality TV is (almost) my only vice and this was where the obsession started. The hostess sat us at a back corner table, which wasn’t ideal but did make for good people watching.

SUR, Los Angeles, California, Vanderpump

The table was gorgeously set, but I can’t say much for the quality of the food. We got the famous goat cheese balls and I had the salmon as my entree and everything was just kind of meh. It was pretty clear that they’re resting on the fame from the show, but that’s why were were there, so we couldn’t really complain. The dessert (flan and sorbet) was the best part of the overpriced meal, but at least we can check that off our bucket lists!

SUR Restaurant, Los Angeles, Vanderpump

After dinner, we continued our Vanderpump tour by walking around the corner to TomTom, the newest addition to their restaurant group (at the time). We only waited in line for about ten minutes before being seated towards the front of the bar. I ordered the Alchemy Rose, which consisted of gin, lemon, ginger, hibiscus and aquafabba (absolutely delightful) and we got an order of fried olives for the table. This trip was over a year ago and I am still craving those olives.

TomTom Bar, Cocktails, Los Angeles

We were innocently enjoying our cocktails when a group of gentleman sat at the table next to us. They started chatting with us, and we learned that one of them was the head chef for all of the Vanderpump restaurants. It was fate! We told him all about our plans to visit the full line-up. In return, he gave us little yellow flowers called buzz buttons to try. He wouldn’t tell us much about them, only that we had to try it. We each popped one in our mouths and instantly got a tingly, numbing sensation on our tongues. Understandably, we thought he drugged us and started reacting as such, but he explained that it was simply the effect that the particular flower had.

We didn’t have too much time to be mad about it, because soon after, TOM SANDOVAL himself walked in the door. Amber and Dani ran off to get a picture, and Brenda and I stayed at the table to continue chatting with the chef. He gave me his card and told me to let him know when we made our way to Villa Blanca on our last day in Los Angeles.

Tom Sandoval, TomTom, Los Angeles

When we asked for our bill, the very handsome waiter told us that our first round of drinks was taken care of by our new chef friend. That must have been his way of apologizing for the buzz buttons! When we got back to the hotel, we all fell asleep pretty quickly, which was a good thing, as we had crammed as much as possible into the next day – our only full day in Los Angeles.

We started at Sky Space, which is a very tall building topped with a clear slide attached to the outside. It was pouring when we got there, and the ticket attendant informed us that the slide was closed and visibility at the top was virtually 0%. So our choices were either to leave or buy our tickets at half price and enjoy it anyways. We chose the latter.

Sky Space, Los Angeles

The first couple of floors that you have to wander through to get to the top were full of interactive games. There was virtual paparazzi, graffiti walls, karaoke and plenty of information about the area. Once we finally made it to the top, we were greeted with a view of a solid wall of fog through the floor to ceiling windows.

Sky Space, Los Angeles

We did everything there was to do besides the slide (which I would absolutely make the trip back for, given the chance) and then made our way back down to the ground floor. We decided to run to In & Out Burger (a delicious first for me!) for lunch before jumping on the TMZ Bus Tour. We had fun on the tour and enjoyed the break from the rain, but unfortunately didn’t see any celebrities. It was a nice way to see the city though!

TMZ Bus Tour, Los Angeles

After the tour, we headed back to the hotel to get extra fancy for our night out on the town. Amber got in touch with a friend who could maybe get us into the Magic Castle, which had a very strict dress code. That was to be the cherry on top of our fun LA evening. We took a cab over to Pump (our third Vanderpump Restaurant) for dinner. This one had a completely different vibe from SUR; it felt like more of a nice lounge than a reality TV stage. Though, like SUR, all of the servers were very attractive and dressed in identical trendy outfits.

We were seated out in the garden, which was absolutely gorgeous, with flowers, string lights, chandeliers and candles hanging above us. We ordered ahi tuna tartare and rock shrimp tempura to start, and they were both really tasty and miles above the starters from the previous night. For my main course, I had pan-seared sole with wasabi mashed cauliflower (!!!) and haricot verts. Yummm. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had on vacation.

Pump, Los Angeles

We went down the street to The Abbey next, for dancing and Frosé‎. It was so much fun! We didn’t spend more than an hour there, but it was the perfect place for us to pick up the energy after dinner.

We went to TomTom again after that, purely to try some of their other creative cocktails. We were sat pretty quickly again and each tried a new drink- I got the Clockwork Pink, which was a spicy mezcal mix. We were seated in the perfect spot, between the back rooms and the front, to spot celebrities. Here, we had more sightings than on the TMZ tour! We saw Darren Criss, and multiple Vanderpump stars: Billie Lee, Ariana, Tom Sandoval again, and we saw Peter earlier that night.

TomTom, Los Angeles

After we finished our cocktails, it was finally Magic Castle time. It was 1am, so we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get in, but we got an Uber there anyways. We asked for our friend of a friend connection at the door, and he let us know that we missed all the shows for the night but we could still come in for a drink. Luckily, one of the magicians came up to us while we were wandering around and showed us a few card tricks. It was cool just to be in the building and see where the magic (heh heh) happens.

Magic Castle, Los Angeles

The next morning, we fought our hangovers to attend the private yoga session we optimistically booked the day before. We were able to do it out on the pool deck before it started raining again. It was actually really nice to get some physical activity in and sweat out some of the alcohol. Our instructor, Shawn, ended the class with a quote that I really loved: “And still, after all this time, the sun has never said to the earth ‘you owe me’. Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.”

After yoga, we all showered and got ready to go to Villa Blanca, the last stop on our Vanderpump Tour, for brunch. It was the most elegant of the four restaurants, with beautiful, fresh flowers and bench seating with gorgeous throw pillows. We started with grapefruit mimosas, which were extra refreshing.

Villa Blanca, Los Angeles

Our lovely new chef friend sent out some complimentary appetizers: a stack of beets, avocado and radishes and beef tartare. I was still feeling the hangover, so I ordered a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich. It tasted like the best sandwich I’ve ever had, a real culinary treat. Everyone was silent as we ate, mostly because we were all so grateful for a delicious meal after a fun night out.

Villa Blanca, Los Angeles

Villa Blanca is technically in Beverly Hills, and we had some time before we had to head to the airport, so we walked down Rodeo Drive after brunch. It was a beautiful day, finally, which made me sad to be leaving California, but it was time to head home. We had an amazing trip, full of delicious food and cocktails, shameless reality TV love, and a solid bachelorette party vibe.

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California

Spring Reading List, Books

Spring Reading List

I’m springing back into contributing content here with a new Spring Reading List! Like a lot of people right now, I’ve been working from home (and will be indefinitely), so taking short reading breaks throughout my day has been keeping me sane.

One of my goals this year was to start making progress on all of the books that friends and family recommend to me. This season, I’m looking forward to a good mix of hyped-up novels to keep me company while I’m stuck at home. There’s a solid variety of themes and genres to keep me on my toes and keep me entertained.

The following five books represent my foreseeable literary future:

  1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens: This book has been recommended to me by multiple sources, and then gifted to me by my mom for Christmas. I love the setting of the swampy North Carolina coast- so romantic and intriguing. I also love a good murder mystery, especially one with a twist. Since I’ve already started this one (I’m about 100 pages in), I know it will be one that sticks with me.
  2. “The Institute” by Stephen King: A new Stephen King book that’s reminiscent of his old work?? Sign me up! I love a good Stephen King novel, and I was very excited to get this one. Some of his newer works didn’t have the pizzazz of his older stuff, but I read Mr. King’s last book, “The Outsider” and loved it. I’m very much looking forward to digging into this one and getting a healthy dose of horror to shake things up.
  3. “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith: Zadie Smith is a new author for me, and though I’ve heard and seen her praises being sung by many, I have yet to look into any of her books. I decided to start with her first novel “White Teeth”. The story takes place in London, one of my favorite cities, and spans generations of two friends and their families. I’m pretty sure this book will launch me into a search for more of Zadie Smith’s writing, based on the reviews alone.
  4. “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas: A few months ago, I took a Castles and Wine Tour in France (more on that later) with my husband (more on that later too). I loved the French History lesson we received on the tour, and the guide recommended Alexandre Dumas for further (albeit fictional) reading. Despite it taking longer than any other book, I finally finished reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” this month. It was so dang compelling, and I couldn’t get enough of Dumas’s writing. So I bought “The Three Musketeers”.
  5. “House of Leaves” by Mark Danielewski: I won’t lie to you, I have tried to read this book and failed about three times. It’s hard to get into, but I’ve heard that it’s so worth it to push through. It’s my favorite genre (horror/suspense) and it’s written in a fun, wacky way, but I know it will be a challenge to reread what I’ve already started. This one is on my list purely as a challenge to myself to finally make it to the end.
Cat, Reading Nook

And here’s a gratuitous shot of our cat in my little reading nook for good measure. Tell me what’s on the docket for your spring reading list in the comments!

Sturgeon Bay, Whitefish Dunes, Door County, Wisconsin, RebeccaWanderlusting

A Door County Road Trip – Part 2

**please note this trip was quite a while ago, but it was unfinished so here we are.**

The best part of passing out early on vacation is getting an early start the next day.  I had a lot of exploring left to do, and I wanted to drive through Door County, making stops at all the places that had been recommended to me or that I had noted for myself to check out.

The Holiday Music Motel had a continental breakfast set up in their little diner nook on the first floor, so I helped myself to some muffins and coffee.  The whole hotel had a fun retro look, and I very much enjoyed sitting at the singular table in the kitchen and watching people filter in and out to grab coffee and baked goods.

Once I had my fill, I headed over to Potawatomi State Park for a brisk morning hike.  I bought the out of state pass for $11 so that I could go back to Whitefish Dunes later that day too.  The ranger that sold it to me recommended the Ice Age Hike, so that’s where I started.

Sturgeon Bay, Door Count, Potawatomi State Park

The path ran right along the shore, halfway between the lake and the road.  The majority of the lake over here was frozen over still, but the sun warmed me as I walked.  Because it was still early, I didn’t run into anyone on the trail.  It was so peaceful.  The views of the lake popped up intermittently between the trees, creating a very picturesque scene.

Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay, Door County

After walking a ways down the path, little yellow markers led me up stone stairs to the road.  The path picked up on the other side, but the terrain was very different.  There were no more pine trees, just birch and ash trees that were still barren from the winter.  I was planning on hiking to the old fire tower, but only got fifteen minutes into the hike before I lost my nerve.  The forest was deserted and I couldn’t get the Blair With Project out of my head! There was also a bird whose call sounded like a crazy woman laughing, and that was the final straw.  I hightailed it out of there and went back the way I came.  Much better.  I got back to the car and drove past the boat launch just to take in the view before continuing my Door County road trip towards Bailey’s Harbor.

Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay, Door County

Once there, I stopped at Cornerstone Pub for lunch, where I was one of the only patrons, so I chose a table with a view of the water.  I ordered a solidly Wisconsin meal of cheese curds, seafood chowder and a New Glarus Moon Man – it was super heavy, but also super worth it.

Wisconsin, Door County, Cheese Curds

My next stop was Island Orchard Cider in Ellison Bay, but I made a quick detour to the Ridges Sanctuary to see the view I had from the restaurant up close.

Ridges Sanctuary, Door County, Wisconsin

The cider house was on my list of Door County must-sees, and I was so glad I stopped in.  It was very cute and the cider was delicious.  I tried the tasting portions of the Lavender, Pear, Cherry, and Brut Ciders and sat outside to enjoy them.  The Cherry and Lavender were the best, so I bought a large bottle of each to take home with me!

Island Orchard Cider, Ellison Bay, Door County

After making my cider purchase, I jumped back in the car and moved towards the Ellison Bluff Overlook.  I had to turn off the main road onto a dirt one to get there, fearing for my rental car as I hit multiple potholes on the way.  The view that awaited me once I parked and walked down a set of wooden stairs though was one for the books.  It was the kind of view that might make you cry.. or puke.. or do whatever you had to do to not move from that spot.  The small wooden path jutted out from the bluff and looked over Lake Michigan, lined on one side with pine trees and limestone cliffs.

Ellison Bluff Overlook, Door County

The gradient in the water moved from a brilliant emerald green to the deepest blue; it was stunning.  I didn’t want to leave that view, but I still had more to see.  So I tore myself away and took the very scenic drive to Fish Creek, a town of many cute shops and restaurants.

Scenic Drive, Door County

I needed a new book for the rest of my trip, so I stopped into the Peninsula Bookman.  The store was chock-full of new and used books, which made it very fun to browse through.  After searching for twenty minutes or so, I landed on “The Lord of the Flies”, which I’d never read before.  I walked around Fish Creek a bit, but a lot of the stores weren’t quite open for the season yet, so I made my way back toward Sturgeon Bay.

I wanted one more hike at Whitefish Dunes before dinner, and decided to walk the other way around the lake from the day before.  This trail kept near to the lake, but the dunes hid most of the view.  A ways down, I came to a board walk that lead to a beautiful view of the lake.

Whitefish Dunes, Hike, Door County

There was quite a bit of snow on this trail, which made it extra adventurous in my mind.  I decided to take the trail up to “Old Baldy”, the tallest dune in the park that boasted a GREAT view from it’s observation deck.  It was a long hike, and there was nobody else on the trail.  All I could hear were the waves on the other side of the dunes and the occasional crow.  It was actually really peaceful.  Until I finally made it to Old Baldy and it was CLOSED.

I was so frustrated by this sign that I marched myself right passed it and up to the observation deck anyways.  I wish I could say the view was worth it.

On the way back down, the light was perfectly golden and it made the forest around me look so dang pretty.  The smell of the pine trees was almost enough to make me pack my bags and move up North.  All of my senses were content with the rest of the hike.

Sturgeon Bay, Whitefish Dunes, Door County, Wisconsin, RebeccaWanderlusting

By the time I made it back to the car, I was very happy with my day but also pretty exhausted.  I went back to the hotel to freshen up and then went to The Inn at Cedar Crossing for dinner.  It was mediocre in service and cuisine, but I did enjoy the wine and reading my new book.  Despite the so-so end to my trip, Door County was everything I wanted and more.  The hiking, ciders, and cheese curds were enough to make me wish I was a permanent resident.  I can’t wait to make the drive up again!

Whitefish Dunes, Door County

Have you explored Door County? Which Door County town is your favorite to stay in?

blogging break, travel blog

It’s been a while…

Well, hello!  It’s been far too long; a year, almost to the date.  In the meantime, I have been having quite the adventure without even leaving Chicago.  I will try to break it down to the best of my ability, but some things I will have to be a little vague on out of respect for the people involved.

Last year started out rocky to say the least.  I moved out of a bad situation into a beautiful gem of a studio in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  I can’t say enough good things about my lovely little, sunshine-filled apartment.  It truly felt like a safe harbor after all I had gone through to get to it: the break-up, the fighting, the searching for apartments in the freezing cold Chicago winter, the dividing of all the possessions whilst packing up everything I own, etc.  From there, the year was a series of ups and downs, like it is for everyone.  I dated a little, traveled a little, did a lot of puzzles, and very little writing.  I think I was trying to let myself heal up a bit and gain some confidence back.  To help with this, I started going to therapy more regularly.  And it did help!  In fact, by Fall 2018, I felt like I didn’t have much left to say to my therapist and planned on calling it quits.  Unfortunately, it didn’t shake out that way.

Soon after my last post, which was in October of last year, I received some pretty devastating news regarding a member of my immediate family.  The news, a diagnosis, came after a minor hospital stay, so it wasn’t a complete surprise.  But it knocked the breath out of me all the same.  I was in my apartment with my newly minted boyfriend when I received the call.  I felt numb for the duration of the phone call, and when it was over, I slid to the floor and turned into a puddle of tears and snot.  The boyfriend (we’ll keep him out of this for now) was perfect for the whole ordeal.  He made me dinner, picked up some wine, wrapped a blanket around me and let me cry as much as I needed.  And I needed to cry a lot.

Since then, it’s been a real rollercoaster ride of doctor’s appointments, good news, set-backs, and eventually surgery.  Thankfully, it seems like we’re all going to be okay for now.  Though for a little bit there, it seemed like nothing would be okay ever again.  To say that it’s difficult to stand by and watch as your most important people are hurting is a vast understatement.  In the thick of it, I felt like a shell of myself.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone or do much outside of going to work every day.  That’s not to say that I didn’t have some good times in the first half of the year, I certainly did, but looking back at that time now, I feel like I was living in a fog. 

blogging break, travel blog

It’s very difficult to deal with an ongoing illness in your family because it’s not a singular event.  I think people expect you to be sad and move through it and make peace with it.  But it’s not a stand-alone thing, it’s ongoing, and there’s constant updates.  Sometimes I felt really uncomfortable bringing it up with people because I felt like I was being whiny or weak.  It took a long time to be okay with saying “hey I need to talk through this real quick”. 

So, on that note, I guess I just needed to talk through this real quick. And give a reason for my absence, whether it was noticed or not.  I do feel, after this very shaky year, that I’m back on solid ground again.  I still have days where I feel very anxious and a little lost, but I don’t know many people who don’t have those days. 

blogging break, travel blog

I plan on continuing this little travel blog of mine, and I have some new content planned for the near future.  Thank you for sticking with me.

Sturgeon Bay, Door County, Wisconsin, RebeccaWanderlusting

A Door County Road Trip -Part 1

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin came on my radar early in the year because my sister had gone up there for a conference and couldn’t stop talking about it afterwards.  She gushed about the cute town and the lush state parks until I just had to check it out for myself.  I booked a rental car and a few nights at the Holiday Music Motel in downtown Sturgeon Bay and then I was off for a long weekend at the end of April.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

I drove the four hours straight through, listening to an audio-book entitled “800 Grapes” (good, not great, but perfect for a long drive).  My first stop, once I arrived in Door County, was Whitefish Dunes State Park.  There was a $5 fee for an hour of hiking, which I paid at the visitor center.  I set off, aimlessly hiking down a path that was set next to the rocky coast of Lake Michigan.   There was still snow on the ground that far north, so that and the fact that I was there before the tourist season picked up in Door County meant that I had the park pretty much to myself.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

Once I got further into the wooded area along the lake, there wasn’t really any defined path.  I switched between walking on the rocks by the shore and through the trees where the ground was covered in pine needles and dotted with patches of ice.  It was windy, and the waves on Lake Michigan crashed into the rocks, spraying up water.  The views throughout the park alone were worth the drive up there, and there was still so much to see.  Right next to Whitefish Dunes is Cave Point County Park, but they might as well be the same park as they run into each other.  The “cave” was an unassuming rock formation that dipped into the lake, the waves splashing in and out, soaking anyone that stood too close.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

I couldn’t get over the view from each outcropping.  The lake was a perfect sapphire blue.  My time was halfway up when I reached the cave, so I turned around and went back the way I came, taking it slow to soak up all that fresh air.  I decided to come back to Whitefish Dunes again at some point while I was in town.  It was just too pretty to not take another hike there.

Since I had driven straight to the park and then hiked, I was so hungry by the time I got back to the car.  I didn’t have any phone service to try and look up where to go, so I drove towards downtown Sturgeon Bay.  I stopped at Grammy’s Country Store, and they recommended the Door County Firehouse on 3rd Avenue for lunch.  I took them up on their suggestion and set myself up at a high top in the bar side of the restaurant.  I felt compelled to order a Spotted Cow and got a pulled pork sandwich too.  I know I was really hungry, but that had to have been one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

After lunch, I went and checked into the Holiday Music Motel.  The motel is a renovated space that has gained a good amount of attention for their affinity for live music and their retro decor.  Once I actually got to my room, I immediately showered and took a glorious nap before heading out to explore the downtown area.  I walked along the lake first, which was beautiful in the late afternoon sunshine.  The bridge and the rocks along the shore were so pretty, the water perfectly clear.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

I meandered over to the local fancy Italian restaurant, Trattoria Dal Santo, for dinner.  They sat me at a lovely table for one, and I immediately picked out the Montepuciano by the glass to start.  The waitress commented on the book I was reading (“In The Woods” by Tana French”) and we had a nice conversation about books and the absence of bookstores in the area.  Apparently the local bookshop had closed recently (though I’m told they now have a new one).  I ordered the Scalllopini Marsala for dinner, which came with a garden salad to start and mashed potatoes on the side.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

The food was delicious, and the ambiance in the restaurant made it all the better.  I savored each bite and took my time, reading while I ate.  The staff was so wonderful, and let me hang out longer than the average dinner check, which I appreciated.  After I finished, I walked over to the Door County Maker Space, which is an event space/concert venue/center for the arts.  They were having a singer/songwriter showcase.  I was a little bit late, and the place was packed, but luckily, the guy manning the door let me bypass the cover charge.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

I stayed for a few songs, and then it was intermission time.  Everyone seemed to know each other, which was nice to see, but not the best case scenario for an outsider.  I felt a little awkward, so I moved out and went across the street to Roots, a wine bar.  I got into a discussion with the bartender about what was going on in town that evening.  She gave me a newspaper to check out the local section and directed me to the Stone Harbor Pub to see a local cover band.

The pub was right on the lake, and I sat at the bar with a (couple of) Spotted Cows, content as could be.  They had the Celtics vs. Bucks game on the TVs, and I stayed through the end of the game, cheering for the Bucks, since I was in Wisconsin.  The cover band was pretty good too!  They were called the Tighty Whiteys.  I walked back to the hotel after awhile to have a glass of local wine and watch a movie.  It was a great first day in Sturgeon Bay and I was looking forward to what tomorrow would bring.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Door County, RebeccaWanderlusting

Quick Weekend in NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

A Quick Weekend in NYC

All day at work on the day I was due to leave for NYC, I checked the weather and my flight status constantly.  I had friends that were flying out of O’Hare that same day were texting me that their flights had been cancelled.  There was a huge winter storm brewing on the East Coast, and any flights in and out of New York were getting cancelled left and right.  At 4:00pm, I left work to hop on the blue line to the airport, hoping for the best.

I got to O’Hare and saw that every flight before and after mine had been cancelled, but mine hadn’t yet – it was still on schedule.  I was convinced this trip wasn’t happening, so I went to McDonald’s (the best airport food, don’t judge me) to drown my sorrows in french fries and chicken nuggets.  The customer service desk for United had a line that stretched almost the whole length of the terminal, full of angry customers on cellphones.  When it was about time to board, the flight was still on time and they began the process of opening the gate and letting on families.  Apparently we were on a smaller plane, which would be better to navigate the storm with.  I didn’t feel overly confident about my safety but I got on the plane anyways.

The whole flight was normal up until the last half hour, which was very, very turbulent. We landed safely (thank goodness), and I hopped in a cab right away, headed towards Harlem.  My cousin, Gracie, was hosting me for the weekend, and she greeted me with Spanish rice and beer; she knows me so well.  We caught up on our lives and listened to music until I was too sleepy to keep my eyes open.

Weekend Trip to NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

We woke up at a leisurely pace the next morning and had bagels at home before heading out for the day.  We took the subway from Harlem to Union Square, where we ran directly into a puppy truck full of dogs up for adoption.  We couldn’t resist stopping to pet the little fluff pups. There was one particular little ball of love that I wanted to take home with me.  He liked me too, I know it. We went into Innisfree and we got a ton of sheet masks and some free samples, which was amazing because there is no Innisfree in Chicago.

Next, we walked to the Wing in Flatiron, where Gracie works.  It’s a women’s only club and coworking space and it is heavenly.  There were walls of books organized by color and plush, pink sofas and armchairs.  They had a little cafe, where we got some coffee and avocado toast.  We got to sneak up onto the roof to take in the view, which was lovely, of course.  Later, we would visit one of their other locations, in Soho, which was bigger and even more beautiful, if that’s even possible.  Both locations were little oases of calm and pastel perfection.

The Wing, NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

The Wing, NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

We also made a stop into The Strand, which is one of my favorite places in NYC.  It’s a wonderland of new and used books.  We wandered through the stacks and shelves and picked out a few titles.  I got “Nocturnes” by Kazuo Ishiguro and a tiny little t-shirt for my niece and Gracie got a couple of books too.  After we made our purchases, Gracie led me to one of her favorite ramen places in the city: Ramen Thukpa for a late lunch.  It definitely lived up to the hype.  We each got a Sapporo and a big bowl of ramen, which we slurped contentedly.  The restaurant was pretty small, and the staff was super nice and attentive. We had to sit for a while after we finished because we were so full.

Ramen Thukpa, NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

We went to the other location of the Wing to have a cocktail and sit, read and regroup for a while before we headed out for the night.  It was nice to be able to relax and freshen up there!  We were meeting a couple friends for dinner at Kiki’s in Chinatown.  On our way there, we wound up stopping into a pop-up gallery and were greeted with Brooklyn Lagers and a pamphlet on the artist.  I wish I could say who it was, but, to be completely frank, I didn’t write it down and it’s been too long since my visit to try to find out.  Regardless, the gallery was a treat for all senses: gravel paths led through a field of turf with Chinese statues sprinkled throughout.  It smelled like fresh-cut grass.  On the walls, collages made of gold and silver chains spelled out sayings on mirrors.  It was really fun to experience.

Art Gallery, NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

Art Gallery, NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

Kiki’s is a wonderful, cozy Greek restaurant; we met our friends Mike and Christy there for dinner.  There was a little bit of a wait for a table, but it wasn’t too bad.  We ordered a liter of red wine and some small plates: fava bean paste, tzatziki sauce, moussaka, roasted chicken and grilled octopus.  The food was SO GOOD! I always love Greek food, but this place was exceptional.  We had a truly lovely dinner and conversation.  Kiki’s will be on my list to try again next time I’m in the city for sure.

After we finished our meal, we went to a bar called Rocka Rolla in Williamsburg.  It was the perfect place: cheap beer, a good jukebox and a big booth just for us.  The beer was served in huge goblets, and after a few of them, I decided Gracie and I NEEDED matching Rocka Rolla t-shirts, so I bought us each one.  We held court in our booth for the majority of the evening, and more and more friends joined us.  We drank and danced until it was almost closing time.  Then Gracie and I took a cab home and got a pizza to split on our way.

Weekend in NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

The next morning, we were both feeling pretty rough, but I made us go out and get breakfast anyways.  After a walk around Harlem, we ended up at The Grange, where we drank every liquid they put in front of us and ate in silence.  I had french toast and bacon, and the bacon was so dang good.  It was a little overpriced, but that’s what we get for choosing a hip brunch spot in Harlem I guess.  After breakfast, Gracie and I went to see the Royal Tenenbaums house, which was just down the street, and then she walked home and left me to explore Harlem on my own.  I was grateful for a chance to see this slice of NYC that I hadn’t experienced yet.

Weekend in NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

Harlem, NYC, ReneccaWanderlusting

My first stop was the Apollo Theater, which weirdly enough, was in a trip of outlet stores and fast food restaurants.  I wanted to see this place where so many of my favorite musicians performed, but unfortunately the tours are by appointment only, so I had to settle for seeing the lobby and taking photos of the marquee.  I sang some Aretha Franklin in my head and moved on.

Apollo Theater, Harlem, NYC, ReneccaWanderlusting

I walked a little south to see what I could see and was delighted to find a lovely strip of cafes, restaurants and apartments that I would love to move right into.  I stopped into Double Dutch to get a latte to keep me going.  It was such a cute little coffee shop, but it was absolutely packed so I took mine to go.  The coffee was delicious, but I chugged it so I could go into a restaurant (Harlem Tavern) where live music was playing.  I sat and had a glass of wine at the bar to listen, which was a lovely way to spend an hour.

Harlem, NYC, ReneccaWanderlusting

Harlem, NYC, ReneccaWanderlusting

When the band finished their set, I decided to take another walk around the neighborhood before heading back to Gracie’s apartment.  We took the train together to Soho because she had to work that evening.  I walked her there and then went to Canal Street Market on her suggestion to get something to eat before my flight.  I perused the small vendor’s goods and grabbed a bibimbap from the Korean food counter.  I sat in the common area to enjoy it – which I did with gusto!  It was delicious.  I cabbed it to La Guardia from there and reluctantly went home.  Every time I come to NYC, I have to bribe myself with another visit to get on the plane home.  One of these days, I’ll just move there already, but until then, I’ll always look forward to the next visit.

Soho, NYC, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you been to New York? Which is your favorite NYC neighborhood?

Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Touring Chichen Itza & Cenote Ik Kil

Seeing Chichen Itza while I was in Mexico was non-negotiable for me.  So much so that I booked the tour when I booked my flights so I could work the rest of the trip around that activity.  The tour shuttle was scheduled to pick me up at 7am, so I got up super early to get ready and run to the lobby for coffee and a sweet roll.  I was the first to be picked up, so William, my tour guide for the day, gave me the pick of the seats in the van.  He gave me the rundown of what we were doing that day and then started off towards the next hotel.  There were ten other people on the tour with me, and I soon found out that I was the only English-speaking participant.  This was only a problem in that I only understood every third or fourth word of everything William said.  Luckily, he didn’t say a whole lot during the two hour drive to Chichen Itza.  This post could also be entitled “The One Where I Didn’t Learn Enough Spanish Like I Should Have and Got In A Tiff With The Tour Guide”.

Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

The Mayaland Hotel is the gateway to Chichen Itza and also happens to be a beautiful oasis of a resort.  The ticket stand/gift shop for Chichen Itza is just to the side of the hotel, so we all piled out and milled around for awhile.  There was another tour group waiting for their guide to the ruins and somehow, without me knowing it, I was pushed into that group.  This was ultimately for the best, because they were an English speaking group, but at the time, I was a little concerned because all of my things were in the other bus and I wasn’t quite understanding if I was with them for the rest of the day.  Off we went down the path to the ticket counter, where I discovered I didn’t have the right ticket, because I was switched around between the two groups.  I was annoyed but determined not to let it ruin this tour that I was looking forward to, so I ran back to the trailhead, bought my ticket and ran back.  I got stamped in, and followed Carlos, our Chichen Itza expert down a path that was lined with vendors selling straw hats and blankets and trinkets.

Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Carlos (pictured above) led us through each exhibit of the Mayan culture, including a cenote that would have provided most of the water to the old city and a replica of a typical home with a thatched roof.  We kept walking, past yet more vendors who yelled over each other to exclaim to us how low their prices were.  The group moved through the tree-lined path into a clearing, where the majority of the ruins sat.  It took my breath away.  I had waited to see this for so long, and I was just so grateful to finally be there.  It was so beautiful.

Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Carlos gave us some time to take it all in and take all the pictures we wanted.  Once we all gathered back around him, he went on with his tour, pulling laminated photos out of his backpack to illustrate his points.  The Temple of Kukulkan (the main pyramid associated with Chichen Itza), named for the Mayan feathered serpent deity, stood in the middle of all the other buildings.  Carlos walked us over there and showed us how if we clapped in the right place in the right way, the sound would ricochet off the building and replicate the sound of the serpent’s wings.  It did sound like how I can imagine a winged serpent might sound, if I’d ever heard such a thing.  In the midst of him showing the other buildings, we got stuck in a rain storm that came and went pretty quickly, but there was no shelter to speak of so we quite literally just weathered the storm.  Carlos showed us the ball court and a few other points of interest, and then we started the walk back to the hotel for lunch.

Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I met a really nice couple from South Carolina on the tour, and we sat down to lunch together.  The hotel’s dining room was set up in stations that were mostly self serve.  There a traditional Mayan cuisine, tacos, a salad bar, “international foods” (sliders, pizza, hot dogs) and dessert.  I hit the taco station first and got a chicken taco with pineapple and a bowl of the Mayan cuisine which consisted of rice, beans, peppers, and Adobo pork and a Mexican Coca Cola for good measure.  It was a fantastic meal in a beautiful setting.  The courtyard we sat in was so pretty, and there was a peacock wandering around the diners.

Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

The group I originally started with took a lot longer touring the ruins, so I spent an hour looking through the gift shops and buying some souvenirs for my family.  Finally, I ran into my original guide, who basically apologized (“sorry, we just get so many tourists”) for passing me off and then loaded us all back onto the bus to head to Cenote Ik Kil.  It was just a little ways down the road from Chichen Itza.  We were allotted an hour to swim, and were to meet back at the bus, so we all hurried off to make the most of the time.  It was set up like a theme park, with turnstiles, ticket takers, rent-by-the-hour lockers and changing rooms.  I got a locker and changed into my swimsuit.  The cenote was set into the ground, and it took approximately sixty steps to get to the bottom.  The vines hung down from the top of the crater and it was dark and mossy toward the bottom.  There were four ladders lined up to climb in and out of the water on one side and a staircase that went upwards for the more adventurous guests to jump from.

Cenote Ik Kill, Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

It doesn’t look very high, but once you got up towards the top…it was pretty high. I made a beeline for the stairs and jumped in right away, I had to or I would have lost my nerve.  It sure felt high once I was in the air.  Once I was in the water, I paddled around happily.  What a beautiful place for a swim!  I felt something brush against my foot, and noticed these fish swimming around everyone – they looked like little sharks.  I swam over to the ladder and waited my turn to pull myself out, all the while anxiously looking around me for the pseudo-sharks.  I pulled myself up and decided the best course of action would be to jump again, but from a higher stair. There was a little girl putting everyone else to shame, but climbing up to the top stair and jumping in over and over again, putting grown men to shame as they jumped from the lower stairs.  It was amazing.  I swam up until it was almost time to leave, and then I ran back to my locker to grab my camera to get some good pictures.  It really was one of the most magical places I’ve ever been.

Cenote Ik Kill, Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Cenote Ik Kill, Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I could have stayed there all day, but I had to meet the group back at the bus.  Everyone fell asleep for the ride home, and of course I was the last one to be dropped off.  After one last awkward interaction with William, our bus driver, I was home free.  I showered and got ready for dinner, which consisted of the semi-authentic Italian food.  The food wasn’t so good, but I made it taste better with lots of wine.  I finished my last night in Mexico in the outdoor bar, where a live band was playing.  I settled down into a comfy chair off to the side and ordered a mojito to enjoy with the music.  It had been a long day, but it truly was one for the books.  This trip had been incredibly healing and enlightening and wonderful; I was glad for every moment leading up to it and every moment there.

Playa Del Carmen, Touring Chichen Itza, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you ever toured Chichen Itza? What company did you use and did you enjoy the experience?

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Well, well, well… look who finally decided to show up.  Me.. I know, I’m sorry.  These past few months have been a little rough in more ways than one, but I’m happy to report that I’m much happier now than I have been in a while.  Thank goodness!  So let’s get down to business.  The plus side of not being active on the blog is that I’ve had a lot more time to get myself back to my normal self.  The downside is that I have SO MUCH to catch you up on.  So, I’ll start with my trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico back in January, here goes:

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I booked an all-inclusive trip to Playa Del Carmen via Expedia on my 28th birthday after a rough day and a bottle of cheap wine.  A month and a half later, I was heading to the airport bright and early on a Saturday morning.  When I arrived in Mexico, it felt like a world away from the frigid city I had just come from.  Everything was warm and vibrant, and there were palm trees everywhere.  A few steps outside the airport, my amazement at the scenery was abruptly interrupted.  Men and women in polo shirts jumped out at me from every angle, offering tours and taxis and timeshares.  I made a beeline for the Super Shuttle stand to hop on the bus that would take me to my hotel.

I was grouped with four older travelers (two couples, its seemed), They were very talkative, but also super negative; grumbling about everything from the traffic to the suburban scenery.  When the driver got in the front seat, he told us to buckle our seat belts, and one woman replied “Why? Because you’re such a bad driver?  I know you people like to drive fast”.  Oh lord.  I sent up a silent prayer that he knew I wasn’t with these negative nancies.  Another small mercy: I was the first one dropped off.  I was staying at the Grand Riviera Princess, which was in a line of other resorts along the coast.  A gentleman greeted me with a clipboard to assist in check in.  He asked me my name and marital status, which tripped me up a bit – literally.  I tripped.  After making my signature clumsy first impression, I worked my way over to the front desk where they offered me a glass of welcome champagne.  They gave me a map of the hotel grounds, a schedule of events and my all-inclusive wristband which I was cautioned never to lose.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I was told I needed to make reservations for dinner each night or I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I made my way to the reservation desk and chose the seafood restaurant for my first night.  It sounded fancy, and I wanted to get dressed up for my inaugural meal.  I bought a Free People maxi dress for the trip and I was very excited to wear it out.  Unfortunately, it was wasted on a sub par Mahi Mahi in a glorified snack bar.  Not one to wallow in a bad situation, I drank enough house wine to make the food taste good and ordered dessert for good measure.  Afterwards, I went back to my lovely room and sat on the porch with my free mini bar beer to read “Big Little Lies” (the PERFECT beach read, by the way).

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

On my first full day in Playa Del Carmen, I woke up early and headed to the breakfast buffet as soon as it opened – eager to properly start my vacation.  Again, the food was kind of meh, but they did have an impressive variety of breakfast delights.  I ate what looked halfway decent (fruit, bacon and toast) and then headed to the beach to walk along the shore.  I’ve always loved being by the ocean, so despite the cloudy skies, I was just so happy to be there.  The hotel staff was grooming the shoreline and there were few other people out and about, so I had the beach mostly to myself.  I spent the rest of my morning relaxing and reading. It’s so rare that I take a vacation that’s purely calm, no rushing around to see the sights, so this was perfect.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I decided to hop on the shuttle to downtown Playa Del Carmen to explore for the afternoon.  The line was long to get on the shuttle, but I snuck on and sat in the front seat – one of the perks of traveling alone.  When we got off the shuttle at 5th Avenue, we had to walk through a jewelry store to get to the pedestrian-only main drag.  The shuttle driver had warned us that there would be a lot of solicitors on the street; that they’d see our wristbands and say “oh do you remember me? I was your waiter last night at the Grand Riviera”.  Even though he told us this, I was still taken aback by the intensity with which they offered me tours and souvenirs.  I made my way up and down the street, popping into stores but not really buying anything.  It was crowded and hot, so I ran into the nearest restaurant to get some lunch.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

The restaurant was completely open to the street, so the sunshine streamed in.  I picked a table slightly in the shade and ordered a locally-brewed pilsner and some arrachera tacos.  The tacos came with the spiciest salsa I have ever tasted.  They were delicious, and so was the pilsner.  It was such a nice break from the bustling street that I lingered a while, people-watching and slowly sipping my beer.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

After lunch, I was more interested in eating some more than buying souvenirs, so I stopped at a cute little gelato store and got a gelato bar dipped in chocolate, white chocolate and sprinkled with nuts.  It was so delicious.  I had walked down 5th Avenue to each end and back again, so I grabbed a coffee and headed back towards the meeting point for the shuttle back to the hotel.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderluslting

Once back at the hotel, I changed back into my bathing suit and laid out by the ocean to read and drink cocktails like a drunken slug.  The hotel had waitresses taking orders from all of the loungers on the beach, and I got promptly ordered mojito.  After some liquid courage, I left my things on my chair and attempted to go for a swim.  I stubbed my toe as soon as I walked into the sea (typical), but, despite the new pain in my foot, I bravely moved further in and dunked my head under.  The water was warm enough, and I jumped around in the waves for awhile, enjoying the beautiful beach.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool, drinking mojitos and making new friends at the swim up bar.  I met a couple from Marengo, IL, which isn’t too far from my hometown.  I was wearing my Bears hat, so I was immediately pegged for a Chicagoan.  I also met a couple from Canada that I wound up spending a good amount of time with, chatting about travel, politics and the difference in our separate countries’ health benefits.  It was weird banter for the poolside setting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  We parted ways and I ran back to my room to change for dinner.  This time, I was headed to the one Mexican restaurant on the hotel grounds.  The food was significantly better than the night before.  I ordered a grapefruit/lime/tequila concoction that was better than any other drink I’d had on this trip, or ever.  For dinner, I couldn’t decide between the shrimp tacos and the steak, so I got both (yay – all-inclusive!) and it was all so good.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

I stopped by the hotel bar to take in the salsa lessons happening on the dance floor.  There was such a fun mix of people participating and the music was so festive.  I stayed and watched for a while, too beat to join in.  Either way, it was nice to sit in the warm night air and enjoy the scenery.  I slowly made my way back to my room to get ready for bed, and to my delight Hombres Misterios was on TV.  I fell asleep quickly, which was a good thing, as I had a full day tour the next day.  Mexico had already made an impression on me, and I was excited to see more of it.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you been to Playa Del Carmen?  What was your initial impression?

Year in Review, 2018 Travel Goals | RebeccaWanderlusting

2017 Recap & 2018 Travel Goals

I won’t lie to you, 2017 was not my year.  Though, I have no illusions that I’m alone in saying that.  On a very surface level, I didn’t travel as much as I would have liked to this past year.  Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t an awful problem to have.  However, this is a travel blog that I write and not traveling means a lack of content.  So, before we get right into it,  I’d like to start off by saying that one of my resolutions for 2018 is to post more authentic and unique blogs.  I hope to do much more traveling this year, even if it’s smaller trips throughout the Midwest.  So, hopefully, this means I’ll be posting more travel essays and trip planning blogs.

Year in Review, 2018 Travel Goals | RebeccaWanderlusting

That being said, I did have a few highlights in the past year.  I went back to one of my favorite cities in the Midwest: Grand Rapids to see my all-time favorite musician, Aretha Franklin.  I visited St. Louis for the first time via a Pullman Car pulled by an Amtrak Train, an amazing experience in and of itself.  I drove to New Buffalo, MI to experience one of the prettiest beaches on Lake Michigan.  I got the opportunity to explore Toronto and the surrounding area, including Niagara Falls and Niagara-On-The-Lake.  And, last but not least, I was able to spend more time exploring my hometown of Chicago.

Year in Review, 2018 Travel Goals | RebeccaWanderlusting

Okay, on to the more optimistic portion of this post: my 2018 travel goals:

  1. Later this month I’ll be heading to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico solo for a long weekend of beach time and relaxation.  Let me tell you, I could use it.  I’m very excited to experience Mexico for the first time and most importantly, see Chichen Itza in person.  I’m so looking forward to this trip!! I will share more of my travel plans for this one next week.
  2. In the beginning of March, I’m heading to NYC for a quick trip to visit my cousin, Gracie.  You may remember her from the beautiful photos and words she shared about her journey to Jordan: here, here and here.  I don’t have any solid plans for the weekend except to visit with my friends in the city and enjoy their company.
  3. That being said, I’d also like to visit my lovely friends in Salt Lake City and Denver sometime this year if I can!  It’s lovely to have friends all over the country to visit (and stay with!).
  4. Before work gets too busy (starting in May), I’d like to explore a new Midwestern city for a weekend.  I think maybe Minneapolis, Madison or Indianapolis could be fun.  I could take the Amtrak to any of those cities or rent a car and do a little road trip.  If you have any strong feelings about any of these cities please share!
  5. This summer, I’ll be heading to Traverse City with my family for a long weekend on Lake Michigan.  We’re renting a house right on the lake and plan on relaxing the whooooooole time.  I’d like to check out some of the wineries in the area.  We also will be visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes to swim and explore.
  6. I’m playing with the idea of taking a solo trip to Acadia National Park in the Fall.  I can imagine that it would be the prettiest time to go, and that timeline gives me enough time to save for it.  I think the best way to go out about it would be to fly into Boston and drive up the coast.  I’m dreaming about a little cabin in the woods where I can write and hike all day long.
  7. The last big plan I have for 2018 is to go on a little birthday trip somewhere warm-ish.  I’m thinking of trying to get to Antelope Canyon in Arizona or Albuquerque, NM; somewhere in the Southwest for sure.  Again, if you have any suggestions, please share!

Year in Review, 2018 Travel Goals | RebeccaWanderlusting

I am hopeful that this year will be wonderful and full of adventures, both big and small.

What are your 2018 travel plans?

Monthly Memo: December | RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: December

Hello, Hello, Hello!  Happy December and Happy Holidays, everyone!  This holiday season has been particularly crazy for me with all of the holiday parties at work, but I’m so excited to spend Christmas with my family.  I got my gift shopping done super early this year in anticipation of my busy work schedule and I have everything wrapped and ready to go.  I’m planning on heading back home on the 23rd so I can help make Christmas cookies and make a (chocolate peppermint) cheesecake to contribute to our potluck style Christmas Eve party.

Monthly Memo: December | RebeccaWanderlusting

On a less than upbeat note, I have some sad news to share in that Michael and I broke up.  It’s been a not very fun few months and I’m reeling a little bit in trying to figure out what the next few months will look like.  I’m currently looking for a new apartment, a studio, still in Chicago and hopefully still in the same neighborhood.  The silver lining is that I always loved living alone.   I have no doubt that I will feel worse before I feel totally OK again, but I think it’s ultimately for the best.

Unfortunately, with all that’s happening in my personal life lately, I’m feeling a little uninspired to write.  With that being said, I’m going to be taking a short break from the blog to get my stuff together and get motivated again.  I’ll be back at it in the beginning of 2018 with fresh, new content and plenty of new travel plans to share with you all.  I already have a couple of exciting trips planned for the year, and I’m sure I’ll plan some more along the way as well.  As I mentioned in my 27 in 27 recap, I’m headed to Mexico next month, which I am very much looking forward to.  It will be a much needed break from reality and a solid, relaxing vacation.

Thank you for your patience and your continued readership.  I hope everyone has a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!