Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe?

Yeah, I know that’s not how the song goes, but it was stuck in my head all week. So there, now it’s stuck in yours. Ha!

Sorry for the lag in posting. Internet accessibility hasn’t been great the past few days so I’m a little behind.

I picked up Jared on Wednesday and got up to Vail early enough to hit up the pool. I texted him this picture so he’d know where to find me:

I convinced Jared to throw on his suit and join me, and we ended up ordering lunch and eating it poolside. It was a nice way to ease into the vacation portion of our vacation, and to catch up after being apart for a week.

We had about a 6 hour drive to Santa Fe, but it was pretty much a straight shot down from Vail via highway 285 – which was incidentally also a gorgeous drive. We arrived energized from all the beautiful scenery and unpacked in the super cute casita that we’d rented for 2 nights. It was (as you’ll see) adorable and within walking distance of the main town square, and we were instantly charmed. Here’s a photo bomb of all the adorable touches. Seriously, we felt like we were on our honeymoon again!

this was the shower!

The best part though, was the bedroom that led out into a private garden. The whole place was so inviting and relaxing that we would have been fine just hanging out there for two days and not doing anything.

The first night we stuffed our faces with awesome Mexican food from Maria’s, and sampled a few of their 100+ margaritas. Divine.

The second day was kind of a wash for me because I went all over town trying to find a replacement charger for my camera battery (while Jared caught up on some work), convinced that I had left it in Denver. I got home with said replacement 3 hours later, only to remember where I had packed the original charger in the first place. Sigh. At least the replacement was returnable, and we had a nice lunch out in our garden followed by a bike ride into town to explore a bit.

When we got back from our bike ride we changed for dinner and walked back into town in time to catch the sunset from the rooftop of the La Fonda Hotel – with margaritas, of course.

On the way to the hotel I made Jared pose with this metal chicken, reminiscent of the famous Beyoncé (seriously, follow that link, you will not regret it). Her cousin, perhaps?

handsome man at sunset

…made handsomer by the presence of margaritas

ready to drink said margaritas

looking towards the main plaza

going…

going…

gone.

After happy hour we walked around a bit and then had a scrumptious dinner at Il Piatto, followed by a visit to an awesome dive-y bar recommended to us by our waiter, that had good music and cheap drinks (a winning combination).

this is foreshadowing for the next post…

Palace of the Governors

the plaza

dinner

The next day we packed up for a short drive to Williams, Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon…and that’s where all the fun began. But that’s for next time…

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Live at Red Rocks

I feel like this whole night is a story.” -me

I checked off a major bucket list item on Thursday, because I FINALLY saw a show at Red Rocks. It was awesome. Julie has some friends in high places, so we had VIP access, which meant that we were shuttled up to and entered through the backstage. NBD, just walking backstage at Red Rocks. The show was Bon Iver with Feist opening. It’s important for the purposes of this story that I tell you I like Bon Iver but I was really excited to see Feist.

Feist!

We get up to the VIP seating and sit down since Feist had already started playing. I made some small talk with the security guard assigned to our corner, because I am apparently Josh in Clueless and have to find the adult in the room and make friends with them immediately. So we’re hanging out and enjoying the show, when these 2 girls come up to the entrance to the VIP section and are clearly trying to contact a friend who is supposed to get them in. I notice that while doing this, they are completely blocking the view of the guys sitting next to us on the other side of the rope. Their friend finally comes and gets them in, and then the three of them proceed to stand – lost in conversation – in front of me and Julie. We had been sitting because there was some filming of the show going on, so we stood up to give them a polite signal that they were blocking our view. They don’t move. Remember, Feist is still playing, so I start to get really annoyed, and I ask them as politely as possible to move down a ways so that we can continue to see the show. The guy who brought them in proceeds to give me a look that could have turned me to stone, and as they leave the security guard (my new BFF) tells me that the guy I just pissed off is “in the band.” Great.

our new friend

Whatever, dude was being rude, and the New Yorker in me wasn’t going to let him ruin Feist’s performance (also, it’s worth noting that the guy next to me gave me a high five since they had also been blocking his view). The security guard made fun of me for the rest of the show. In my defense, it’s a really big band, and even if I had known who the guy was I probably would still have asked him to move. I didn’t go to the show to see the back of his head. Be aware, dude!

That wasn’t even the funniest part of the evening though. We went to grab some beers and when we came back to our seats, some “seasoned hippies” (Julie’s description) were sitting next to us. They were really nice and as we made small talk, they asked me whether I thought the security guard was going to let them smoke pot. I said I didn’t think so, and they offered me a piece of their brownie which they had apparently bought off a guy in the parking lot who looked like the woman’s son. Thanks, but I’ll pass. Then, later in the evening they actually asked our friend the security guard if they could smoke weed! When he said they couldn’t, they then asked him where he thought they’d be able to get away with it!

OK, let me break down our conversation after they left:

“If you’re trying to get away with smoking pot at a concert – which by the smell of things is certainly possible – the last person you should ask for advice is the SECURITY GUARD.”

“How do they not know how to get away with smoking? From the looks of it they have been smoking pot at Red Rocks for 30 years.”

the aftermath

heading back to our car

the endless line of headlights

After the show, I was really impressed with how quickly the venue staff were able to clear out the sold-out crowd. We waited for a little bit, but nowhere near as long as I expected given the volume of cars and people.

All in all, the show totally rocked and the night could not have been more perfect. It was a really fun time, and it was an amazing introduction to the venue that I’ve heard so much about and wanted to visit for 10 years.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

My week as a “single lady” has begun!

On Tuesday I drove Jared up to Vail for his retreat, and hung around for a bit while he got checked in. After seeing where he is staying, I was kicking myself a bit for not staying up there with him…and decided that I may have to arrive a few hours early to enjoy the pool when I come to collect him.

view from the room

the pool

the bar

It was an uneventful drive back to Boulder (a good thing), and I had a nice relaxing evening and lunch the next day with Jared’s cousin Avi and his wife Puni. Avi actually got ordained over the internet and performed our wedding ceremony, so it is always nice when we get to spend time with him and Puni.

Yesterday I drove to Denver to spend the rest of the week with my dear friend Julie. Julie and I worked together at my first job in New York, and she and her husband Bart moved back to Denver a few years ago. Julie is the consummate hostess and she has a fabulous itinerary planned for us this week, with tons of excellent girl-time activities (which I will chronicle, of course).

First on the list was a wine tasting of only pink wines, where all the attendees had to dress in their best pink. Does this girl know me or what??

Julie, me (ignore my shiny-ness – it was HOT in there) and Julie’s friend Lisa

the event’s host (as Ziggy Stardust) with Lisa’s husband Neil

my favorite outfit – she actually won a prize!

a sea of pink (check out that super excited guy in the corner)

the “classiest pink” finalists

I think this category was “best overall pink” or “craziest pink.” It was like the Best In Show

After the party, we went across the street to buy ourselves some wine for the week from the event’s sponsor, Divino. This was probably the coolest wine store I have ever seen – I so wish they had one in Seattle (hint hint)!

Then Julie and I went back to her place to hang out, and I did some unpacking. I love staying at Julie’s place – she is such a thoughtful hostess and I always feel so at home.

fresh flowers and a tray for my jewelry

And Jared may be in a super swanky hotel in Vail, but MY room came with a cat!

Asha

I think it’s clear who got the better diggs for the week.

Wide Open Spaces

Hello there!

I hope everyone had a delightful long weekend – we certainly did!

We set out early on Saturday morning after loading the bikes on the back on the car, courtesy of our new Thule rack (an excellent Craigslist find).

Adjusting and securing the rack required a bit of a learning curve – such as having to pull over as we went over Snoqualmie Pass because the side straps popped loose – but after a few days we’re pretty confident we’ve gotten the hang of it.

Our first stop was, as always, Missoula, MT (Psst- Jason! You made the blog!). We actually drove out to Missoula the prior weekend to surprise our friend Jason for his 40th birthday, so the drive this time seemed a lot shorter. This weekend was his wife Gita’s birthday, so we had another fun evening planned with tickets to the M. Ward show at this cool old movie theater called The Wilma.

We had such a fun evening that I think it took me 2 days to recover. Seems to happen every time we visit Missoula, but we’re not complaining :)

Our favorite part of the drive out from New York was the stretch through Wyoming, and we were really looking forward to driving through it again without a 16′ moving truck. We still had to get through the rest of Montana though, and when we got to the first mountain pass it was snowing! Then we were treated to several hours of intense rain and hydroplaning. Boo. Someone should tell Montana that it’s almost June.

We decided not to torture ourselves this time by attempting to reach Boulder in one day, so we set our sights on Casper, WY for the night. Since we weren’t in a hurry, when we saw signs for the Little Bighorn Battlefield, site of Custer’s Last Stand, we decided to take a detour. That’s the beauty of this trip! We had wanted to stop last time but we were trying to make good time, and detours in a large truck aren’t as appealing.

a nice sentiment for Memorial Day

The monument was really interesting, though we got there late in the day so we didn’t have too much time to explore. We did however manage to arrive during a fortuitously rain-free period. When the droplets started back up we hit the road again.

One plus about the rain: we saw a DOUBLE RAINBOW. All the way across the sky.

We got to Casper amid some pretty intense winds, but were assured by the motel clerk that was normal for the area. Fortunately, the next day the weather was beautiful for the rest of our drive through Wyoming. The landscape is just so beautiful and expansive. As Jared said, “it makes you quiet.”

We made it to Boulder late Monday afternoon in time to have some quality time with Jared’s cousin and his wife. Then yesterday I drove Jared up to Vail and dropped him off at his retreat (hence why I am a little behind on blogging). I’ll post some pictures from that trip tomorrow!

On the Road Again…

Hi there. I know. I KNOW. It’s been a while.

We made it safely back to Seattle (via a week in NYC), and so did all of our crap (not that we wanted to ever see it again after all that time).

We’ve been decompressing and adjusting to our new home city. It’s even new to me since so much has changed since the last time I lived here, but it’s nice to have so much to explore and re-discover about my hometown. It’s a bit of an odd time, because we’re so in transition. We’re living with Jared’s very accommodating and generous parents while we sort ourselves out, and a lot of our stuff is still in boxes in their garage and spare bedroom. That’s partly why I haven’t written here in a while – just not a lot to say. Things are good, and we’ve had a lot of great quality time with our families and friends, but it’s not exactly exciting to chronicle my trips to Target or Jared’s daily commute.

Oh, but we do have some bits of exciting news. We bought a car!

I’m pretty sure the internet demanded this picture.

it has a roomy trunk!

oh dear, this has gone pear-shaped…

And even more exciting: I finally got my driver’s license! Yes, I am 29 years old. I don’t want to talk about it. Turns out, I love driving! I still beat my grandmother by 11 years (she was 40 when she got hers, and my grandfather owned a car dealership), so I’m doing a-OK.

We’ve also been treated to some really spectacular weather lately, and have been on quite a few hikes. When we first talked about moving out here, hiking was one of the things we were most looking forward to, and it’s been a great way to show Jared around the area.

There are days where I am still surprised by how beautiful it is here in the Pacific Northwest. We’re both really psyched to be here. That being said, we’re leaving for a month! Today, our bedroom looked like this:

We leave tomorrow at the crack of dawn for a mini-tour of the Southwest. Jared has a conference in Colorado, and then a family reunion a few weeks later back in Colorado, so we’re driving out and taking the two weeks in between to hit up Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon (I’ve never been), and a few other fun stops. We’ve been wanting to do a trip like this ever since we got married…as you can imagine we are really excited about it.

So this is my welcome back to blogging, because you know I’m going to take a crapload of pictures and share all of our stops. And you’d better believe there will be some old-timey hijinks.

ROAD TRIP!!!

Last Tango In Paris

We had a really fun final night in Paris. We took the day to relax a bit, and then headed in to see Notre Dame before meeting up with our new friend Nicole at her place for drinks and dinner in her neighborhood.

around Notre Dame

We snuck up on Notre Dame from behind, so we could get a little taste of the neighborhood. It’s really adorable, as you can see.

Jared really enjoyed Notre Dame, and it was particularly nice because we visited during mass (we love the singing). We also made sure to put our feet on the geographical center of Paris. Supposedly if you do, you will be sure to return – it’s worked for me so far!

On the way to Nicole’s apartment, we passed the smallest house in Paris (I’m not exaggerating, that’s how it’s known).

as wide as a Smart car!

We had a really fun night with Nicole. She has an awesomely French apartment near the Eiffel Tower, and we ate another great meal on the Rue Cler and chatted for hours.

the elevator had a seat!

it was rather low.

Our flight wasn’t until 9:30PM the next day so we got up, did all the laundry, packed and cleaned the apartment. Our landlord offered to drive us to the airport for less than we would have paid to take a bus or the train, so we gladly accepted. We had a 12-hour layover in Dublin, so we opted to get a room near the airport so we could arrive showered and rested in New York. It was a good call, and Jared was able to drink a Guinness in Ireland! He said it really does taste better there.

cheers!

So our the European portion of our adventure comes to an end. It’s bittersweet. We’re ready to be home, but obviously it’s still a little sad that it’s over.

I’m going to keep up with this blog since I’d like to think it’s about more than just our travels – it’s about the way in which we are choosing to live our life together (plus there is more travel to come, we hope!). I may not post as frequently, but I’d really like to chronicle what it’s like for us to get back and readjust, and the challenges that come with all of it.

Thanks for reading so far, and I hope you stick with us!

Lions & Tigers & Macarons – Oh My!

We’re actually in New York this week, catching up with some friends and family on our way back to Seattle. I’ll post as much as I can, but we have a little less downtime than we’ve had in the past 5 months, so bear with me! It’s also taken a few days to adjust to the time difference, but the jet lag is far easier coming back than it was going over.

In the meantime, I’ll wrap up our last days in Paris.

Some of the best days we had in Paris (and really, on the whole trip) were ones where we wandered around and saw different neighborhoods. It’s also great because these days are usually super easy on the budget, and that’s always nice. There were quite a few things that I still wanted to see and to show Jared in Paris, so I mapped out a walking plan and we set out.

We started at the Arc de Triomphe, and then walked down the Champs Élysées, through Saint-Germain-des-Prés and ended up in Le Marais. Ambitious, maybe, but we are walkers.

Bonjour!

Jared doing his best Mr. Footlong impression

One activity that we did that I didn’t blog about was our visit to the Musée D’Orsay during our first week in town. It’s my favorite museum in Paris, by far. They don’t allow photos, which is why I didn’t blog about it, but it’s a must see for any visit to Paris. The building itself is a work of art – a beautiful converted train station – and the museum houses the largest collection of Impressionist works in the world.

Musée D'Orsay

The reason I dragged Jared to Saint-Germain-des-Prés was that I was dying to visit Deyrolle, a fantastical shop full of taxidermy animals. I wish I could have taken pictures in this place – do yourself a favor and check out the pictures on their website. The shop was badly damaged by fire in 2008 but has since been restored to it’s original glory. I know it’s a bit weird, and everyone may not have the stomach for stuffed dead animals, but it was also infinitely interesting. When we were there, they had one room of animals all posed around an enormous dinner table, like something out of Alice in Wonderland (complete with birds and bats flying above); definitely something you don’t see every day.

me and a snowcat

We had originally wanted to hit up a Pierre Hermé, since we had it on good authority that they had the best macarons in town (and we were in Paris, we HAD to get some), but somehow missed the one we were trying to find. Luckily, we stumbled upon Ladurée whilst wandering St. Germain, so we settled for those instead (the Pierre Hermé vs. Ladurée debate sounds similar to the “who has the best slice of pizza” debate in NYC). They were pretty tasty, and had some cool combos. My favorite was cassis-violet, but we also liked vanilla-grapefruit.

We wandered around a bit more and then headed across the river to the Marais. We stopped for a moment to admire the sunset view of the Seine, the Hôtel de Ville (mayor’s office), and even spy another Space Invader and some political commentary.

Space Invader!

Hôtel de Ville

outside the Hôtel de Ville

We decided that since we were out so late, we should just grab dinner in the Marais, so we checked out a few quaint streets and the Place des Vosges, and then tucked into the best felafel we’ve ever had. There are a lot of felafel places in one strip, so we picked the one with the longest line of people waiting for takeout and were handsomely rewarded.

Marais

Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges

It was another great day of exploring a beautiful city on foot. Then on the way home, we saw two more Fred Le Chevaliers!

No Bones About It

Another activity that I’d never done in all my visits to Paris was to tour the quarry and Catacombs beneath the streets of the 14th arrondissement. I was a little nervous at the prospect of being far underground with the remains of 6 million people, but I have been reading a lot of The Order of the Good Death lately, so I was game.

The Catacombs were created in response to a threat to public health in the late 18th century. The concentration of decay mixed with lye from the Saints-Innocents cemetery (the largest in Paris) was contaminating city well water (ew), so a solution was devised to close the cemetery and move the bones into the abandoned limestone quarries. When the bones were set and artfully arranged, the site was opened as a public attraction, because, why not?

For as long as the line was to get in, it was surprisingly quiet down below. The museum carefully monitors entry, but I still expected to be close to other visitors as we walked through. As it was, there were times that we felt like we were the only ones down there, which was effing creepy. The bulk of the tunnels are simply abandoned quarries though, so it’s not like we were the only ones wandering through endless piles of bones. The ossuary portion was mercifully, more populated by the living.

These charming little scenes were carved by a worker named Décur, and are believed to depict where he was held as a prisoner of the British while serving as a soldier for Louis XV.

The Quarryman's Footbath

There were portions of the quarry that reminded me of Moria (amiright?). I kept wanting to say, “you shall not pass!”

Right before the entrance to the ossuary, there was a delightful exhibit of photographs from a different tomb (in Spain, I think) that was full of mummified corpses hung up along the walls. At first I thought that was a preview of what we were about to see and was a little weary, but when I realized it was a different tomb it made a pile of bones seem downright tame. Well played, Catacombs. It seemed like they wanted to manage our expectations throughout the tour, because at the beginning there are several notices about how the visit is unsuitable for people with heart problems. I imagine it’s a nightmare to get some passed out tourist up the extensive spiral staircases, so I can understand their point.

ossuary entrance

The entrance to the ossuary reads, “Stop! This is the empire of death!” There are other sayings and musings on life and death peppered throughout the crypt as well.

"Where is Death? Always in the future or past. As soon as she is present, she is already gone."

I’m going to go ahead and state the obvious here: there are a LOT of bones down there. It’s staggering.

piled taller than me

and a good 8 feet deep

I think what was most surprising, and even refreshing, was the tone of the place. Sure, it was a dank underground bone pile, but there was a certain lightness to it. It seemed to say, “we’re all going to end up a pile of bones anyway, right?” The bones are arranged into shapes and patterns throughout (at one point they even create a heart pattern, but the light was bad there), and there are little mini altars and spaces to explore.

The Fontaine de la Samaritaine

It may be heard to tell just how low the ceiling was, so we took this helpful (somewhat blurry) picture with tiny me for scale:

perhaps the only place in the world where I almost have to duck

After the ossuary, there are a few more quarry sights before you have to climb a not-insignificant spiral staircase back up to fresh air. You pass through two (now fortified) Cloches de Fontis, or subsidence cavities, that were often the cause of mine collapse. Because they’ve been preserved and reinforced, you can see the many exposed geological layers. I wish the pictures did them justice – they were so high (or deep, I’m not sure what the correct terminology is in this case)!

So the Catacombs got a big two thumb[bone]s up from us. But for the love of God, please avoid it if you have a heart condition.

New York City, You’re No Paris

Jared checks in with our finances for this month

I’ll admit it: it took me a while to succumb to Paris’ charms. I spent most of the first week thinking how much Paris was like New York, and I have barely missed New York at all on this trip. I just didn’t get why everyone said how great Paris was. It was okay, but I didn’t get what the fuss was about.

But then we went to Montmartre, and I was smitten. Since that time, Paris has snuck up and kind of slowly seeped inside of me. And now I could stay here another month. Hell, I could move here and be totally fine with it. To me, Paris is like New York in that it looks a lot like New York (actually, Brooklyn, to be more specific), except it’s more charming, friendlier, and more laid back. In fact, it puts New York to shame. It has the same vibe as New York, but it’s just easier to hang out here. There’s not so much noise and chaos.

People who haven’t been to France won’t believe me, but the French are so much nicer than New Yorkers. Sorry New York, but it’s true. No one pushes you on the subway, no one shoves you walking down the sidewalk, and people are respectful of each other in a way that they simply aren’t in New York. I didn’t think I’d ever find a city that I like better than New York, but lo and behold, it’s gone and happened.

I loved Spain, but I feel much more myself in France. And I can’t speak a lick of French. Something about the French culture just makes me relax. Spain is nice too, but it doesn’t have the same level of charm and (dare I say it) sophistication. I don’t feel like a foreigner in France.

Paris, you have my heart. I hope to get back here soon enough.

Moneywise, we had another tough month, but we expected it. We went to Barcelona and Paris even though I never found another job. Whitney and I just decided to go for it, because we wanted to experience both places before we went back. And we knew both places were going to break the bank.

That said, we made out better than last month, and are only about $1000 over for the month. We were over by $1300 last month, so we will go back home $2300 in the red. For almost five months, that’s basically $500 over a month. All in all, that’s not too bad, considering I’ve had so much trouble finding any other work.

A breakdown of our incomes and expenses is below:

Income: I made $3550 in February.

Expenses: Below is a breakdown of our expenses.

Food/Household/Shopping: $1161
Entertainment: $651
Rent: $1475
Travel: $791
Misc: $512

Total Expenses: $4590

So we were over by just over a grand. Again, with all the obstacles we faced this month and with all we traveled and saw, this isn’t too bad.

We’re returning to the states a little poorer in money, but richer in experiences. We faced obstacles we hadn’t planned on facing and together learned how to deal with them. Yes, the trip would have been easier in many ways had we had more money, but we knew going in that money was the big question mark and decided to go for it anyway. I have no doubt we made the right decision.

Taking It to the Streets

If you visited the site earlier today, you may have seen that we were shut down briefly, and that there was a notice that we violated the TOS of WordPress. What happened was that earlier in the week, I was incredibly honored to be featured on A Practical Wedding…and the sudden surge in traffic triggered WordPress’ automatic spam filters and shut us down without a warning. So we’re not copyright infringers or spammers, just to be clear, and a very nice man from WordPress fixed the problem. Other than that, it’s been a great week and I am very proud to have my piece featured, since I poured a lot of myself into writing it and it seems to have resonated with a lot of people. Writing about our experiences in a public place can be really scary, and the support we’ve gotten has been amazing.

Since I wasn’t able to access the site for much of the day, I’ll just share a bit of the street art we’ve seen around town in the past few days. I’ve been keeping my eyes open ever since I spotted a Space Invader at the Metro stop by our apartment, and then two more as we were walking around town. If you’ve seen Exit Through the Gift Shop, you may remember that Invader was the cousin of Thierry Guetta/Mr. Brainwash, and was his introduction to the world of street art.

Pelleport

on the way to Père Lachaise

waiting in line for the Catacombs

You can buy maps that give the location of the some 1,000 Invader pieces in Paris (and many other cities), but I think it’s much more fun to discover them around town.

We’ve also seen quite a few pieces by Fred le Chevalier. We spotted the one below in Montmartre, and another in our neighborhood (when I was sadly without my camera).

We also caught these lovelies peeking out at us in Montmartre (I couldn’t find anything on this artist, so if anyone has any info, leave it in the comments!):

And this mural as we walked the Canal Saint-Martin:

That last one probably isn’t technically street art, but I like the idea of transforming the boring backside of a building into something beautiful, and in that sense it fits.

It always feels like such a treat to spot pieces like these around town. It’s a nice reminder that some of the most interesting pieces can often be found outside of a museum.