Tag Archives: Denver

Life lately – with supplemental iphone photos

This week marks my one month anniversary as a productive member of society [or it did, when I started drafting this post 2 weeks ago – whoops]. After being unemployed for our first two months in Denver, my old company reached out and offered to hire me back on as a contract worker. This means that I get paid hourly, which is awesome (and virtually unheard of for an accountant during busy season), but it also means that I spend a lot of time traveling back to DC, which is a mixture of good and bad.

In general, airline travel is not my favorite thing ever. I tolerate it, because it’s a means to an end; usually because it’s the only way to get me over the Atlantic and into Europe in a timely manner. Traveling for work has the redeeming quality that it means I’m getting paid to sit on a moving germ box, but I really wish Frontier airlines wasn’t the only provider of a direct flight between Denver to DC.

What even is this? (A tray table for ants?!) I don’t mind a reduction in amenities, having to pay for drinks, or even being charged to carry on my bag. But, come on Frontier – would it have killed you to build in decent size tray tables? I can’t do work in these conditions! Good thing I’m getting paid to sit here, regardless.

Traveling does have its perks, most importanly, that I get reimbursed for all my hotel and food expenses, which means my Starbucks addition is back in full force. Sometimes, they even spell my name right. But not usually.

“Erin” is too boring for the hip baristas. Let’s spice it up with a trendy spelling!

Also, on snow days, I order room service. I would never pay for it with my own money, but if someone else is picking up the tab, all bets are off. Because snow days and pants don’t mix.

Cost of crab cake sandwich in the hotel restaurant: $17. Cost of same crab cakes, delivered to my room: $29.

On days when I’m being less indulgent, I get to satisfy my other addition – Whole Foods. When booking hotels in DC, I do by best to choose ones in proximity to Whole Foods because their salad bar is my jam. Eating out constantly is almost guaranteed to pack on the pounds, so I do my best to eat as many veggies as possible to offset the other things I eat like, ahem, room service crab cakes. Give me a salad and a Fiji water to eat from my hotel room bed (because eating in bed really doesn’t get old, does it?) and I’m all set for the evening.

Fiji water is my favorite water (and don’t think I can’t taste the difference – because I can)

On to something that actually involves me burning calories, rather than consuming them. I absolutely love Denver, but nothing beats my old running route in DC. In just under an hour, I can circle all the highlights – the White House, Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, and Lincoln. DC does a lot of things I don’t agree with, but I will never dispute that the monuments (excepting the most recent instillation) are beautifully done.

A few weekends ago, by sheer coincidence, I was in DC at the same time that the Travel and Adventure show was taking place at the Convention Center. When I saw who was speaking there, I squealed (and I am not a squealer). Rick Steves, my favorite travel writer was giving not one, but TWO talks on Sunday and tickets were only $7 for the whole day! I don’t have a lot of celebrity idols, but Rick is definitely in my top 10. I have several of his travel books and he’s completely changed the way Americans experience Europe. After his first talk, I waited in line to get his autograph, and I warned my husband that we’d be hanging this on the wall.

That destination on the cover? Been there! It was incredible. Those stairs are no joke.

Back in Denver, my husband and I tried to squeeze a lot of skiing into a very short amount of time. Ski season is drawing to a close, and we’re trying to make our decision of where to buy season passes for next year. I think we’ve decided on the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, but we wanted to try a few other mountains just to make sure. Plus, when else is it acceptable to dress up like Hannibal?

After all that eating out I do during the week, I was really excited to get back home and be able to cook a few meals for my poor hubby, who usually survives on pasta and marinara sauce and/or cashew butter and jelly sandwiches while I’m gone. I’ve been drooling over variouszoodlerecipes from the Foodie Bride for a few months now, and I finally broke down and ordered a sprializer. I was too excited to read the directions, but assembly was easy enough for my husband and I was very pleased with my zoodle results. My husband, however, was more interested in the suspicious looking by-product.

And on that charming note, I think it’s time to wrap up this post. I’m back in DC for a few weeks (counting down the days until April 15th), then it’s time for a beach vacation with my family. That place is just good for my soul, and I can’t wait.

Road trip to Denver

This blog post is coming to you from a not particularly fancy but pretty adequate Extended Stay America hotel room in the lovely city of Denver, Colorado.

Over the past 5 days, we’ve slowly made our way north – driving from Central Florida (think Disney World), where we spent Christmas with my family, through Georgia, Tennessee, and Indiana, then west – from St. Louis, through Kansas City, Topeka, and finally, at last, to Denver. We went relatively slowly, dividing a 27 hour drive into more manageable chucks. We stopped in some really cool towns, ate good food, listened Serial podcasts, and managed not to kill each other or wreck our new car.

I always feel like long road trips sound way more exciting than they actually are, especially when you’re driving through the Midwest; there isn’t a lot to see except fields and silos and the occasional water tower. However, this was a road trip borne out of necessity (the only practical way to get a car from one side of the country to the other is to drive it there), and now that we’re no longer spending 4+ hours in a car every day, I can look back over the trip and say that it’s been relatively enjoyable. Here are a few iPhone photos of our journey.

Fog

The morning of our departure from Florida, the fog was unreal. You can’t really tell, but that’s a lake behind that tree.

From FL, our first stop was Fayetteville, GA, to stay with my aunt and uncle. Not only did they graciously host us, they took us to the nearby town of Senoia for dinner at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Social Club. Turns out, Senoia is where much of Seasons 3 & 4 of The Walking Dead is filmed. I don’t watch the show, but my husband is obsessed, so of course we had to return the next morning during daylight hours to walk around.

Railroad tracks TWD

Burned building TWD

Wall TWD

Fake Church TWD

Behind the fake church and the ugly zombie-barrier wall are million dollar homes. Each homeowner gets paid $7,000 for the inconvenience of having to look at the wall and deal with all the filming hoopla. I have no idea how they keep these beautiful houses from showing up in the tv episodes, but that’s the magic of the green screen, I suppose.

After poking around the filming area (there are NO TRESPASSING signs every 2 feet or so – not even exaggerating – but we were able to take pictures from a distance without getting yelled at), we drove the 4-ish hours north to Nashville in search of some hot chicken. One of my friends recommended Hattie B’s, so there we went.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Hattie’s has 4 different heat levels, from Southern “no heat” to Shut the Cluck Up “burn notice”. I am a sissy, so I went with Medium (“touch of burn”). Husband has a death wish, so he chose Shut the Cluck Up. You order either white or dark meat, pick your sides, grab a table, and wait for delicious to be delivered to your table.

Hattie B's chicken

The chicken was ahhhmazing – totally worth the wait in line. It was hot and crispy with great flavor. My Medium wasn’t quite spicy enough, but I don’t think I could have handled the Hot, so no complaints from me. Adam, however, said his chicken was “the hottest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth”. This is a picture of him dying from the spice:

Death by hot chicken

After Nashville was St. Louis and a trip to the famous Gateway Arch. Adam bought tickets for us to ride to the top, and I’m glad he didn’t tell me what that involved – specifically, getting in a teeny tiny claustrophobic egg shaped vehicle (seriously, this thing was 4×4 and they jammed 5 full grown adults in there) and slowwwwllllly making our way up 630 feet. It was a really cool experience to be at the top of the Arch, but I don’t expect I’ll ever volunteer to do it again!

St. Louis arch

Top of the Arch

The view down made me woozy.

The view down made me woozy.

After that traumatizing experience, I needed sustenance. I needed BBQ. I needed Vernon’s.

We arrived just after they opened and ordered smoked tofu (for me) and lots of meat (some of which was also for me). Ribs, corned beef, brisket, and pulled pork. Y’all, it was incredible. They smoke their ribs in a sweet/savory glaze which caramelizes into something heavenly over 5 – 6 hours. I don’t always eat meat, but when I do, I want it to be this delicious. Vernon’s hit the spot for sure – if you’re in St. Louis, definitely stop by!

Vernon's

Our next stop was Junction City, Kansas, where we celebrated my birthday dinner (cue I’m so old waahhhhh whine here). In the thriving metropolis of Jnc City, as it is known on highway signs, dining options are limited to fast food, Cracker Barrel, and a Mexican restaurant called La Fiesta. We chose La Fiesta, because it was a celebration, after all. And let me tell you, whoever decorated this place must have recently gone to a great party, because the interior of La Fiesta was wild.

Me with booth

This is me, at our table. As in, this picture was on the seat. And all the booths were decorated like this, with crazy 3D wood carvings of scenes from what I can only assume is a cra-azzzy Mexican party.

Chair and walls IMG_2474

Surprisingly, our food was pretty good. Or as Adam said, “It’s hard to screw up fajitas and queso dip.” Fair enough.

From Junction City, it was a long, boring, bleak, monotonous drive to the Mile High City. Nothing but corn fields for miles and miles and a disturbing number of adult only stores and “spas” with half-naked girls advertising “special services” on the billboards. I can’t imagine who frequents these kind of establishments, but after driving for 2 hours without seeing another car, I kind of understand. Sometimes you just need some human company, no matter how depraved.

While Adam drove, I took a nap with my stuffed dog, known as “Fluffy Puppy”.

Napping

Yesterday, we arrived in Denver in the middle of a snowstorm. Visibility was pretty miserable, driving was stressful, I was tired and cold and hungry. In short, I was ready to head back to Florida where I was complaining about 80 degree temperatures in December.

But then this morning dawned – cold, but sunny. And I woke up to this view from our hotel room.

Downtown Denver Denver MountainsI think I like it here. Denver, will you keep me?