Category: Travel

Travel Tip Tuesday

People who know me (in real life and via this blog) know that I have a little wanderlust going on.

Ok…A LOT of wanderlust.

That’s actually still an understatement.

Let’s just say that I can’t think of anywhere in the world that I don’t want to see.  Which is weird, considering that I had only left Kentucky a handful of times until about five years ago.

It all started with a Danielle Steel novel of the same name

You know what? I think I’m going to skip that story for now.

Anyways…

We used to be very self conscious about traveling.  We couldn’t fly for a while because we were too big and would have had to book two seats (no thanks).  Plus, we really weren’t in the shape to do a lot of the things we wanted to do.  Last year we took a cruise to St. Thomas and St. Maarten and were over the weight limit for almost all of the shore excursions.

Total bummer.

Now that we’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, we feel like the world is our proverbial oyster.  I have a pretty extensive bucket list so I’m constantly looking for ways to save money, space, and time on our expeditions. So, now that I am completely obsessed really like to travel I thought it would be fun to do a series called Travel Tip Tuesdays.

Today’s tip consists of a very taboo subject.  Most people put their fingers in their ears and start making ridiculous noises when I start talking about it.

Do your laundry on vacation.

HotelWashingMachines

I know, I know, I know!  It’s vacation and the last thing you want to do is laundry.

Do it anyway.  You won’t regret it.

Not only does this allow you to pack at least half of what you had planned (thus saving space and the headache of juggling a ton of luggage) but it also makes unpacking when you get home a much more pleasant experience.

For the past two years Cliff and I have stayed at properties that had a washer and dryer in the unit and I could not have been happier about it.  Understandably, not all places are going to have a laundry facility on site.  Cruises, for instance, charge about the same amount for laundry services as they do for a shore excursion.   In these cases it’s handy to bring along a travel size container of laundry detergent and use a sink or bathtub (no, I’m not kidding).  Obviously, the best choice would be booking a hotel or vacation rental with laundry on site or in the apartment/condo, but if that’s not in the cards there are ways around it.

It’s my dream to one day travel with only a carry-on.

Yes, ONLY a carry-on.  (Maybe a personal item, but that doesn’t count)

In unrelated news, I got my first side stitch on my run tonight.   FYI – do NOT down half a bottle of water and then go for a run.  I’m sure that normal people were aware of this fact.  I, however, was not.

I’m sure I looked insane with this weird half grimace and half grin thing I had going on.

I felt like it was a rite of passage.

A ridiculously painful rite of passage.

Tomorrow’s weigh-in and I really hope to see the 220’s.  I don’t know what it is about that weight, but I’m really looking forward to it.  I had a pretty active day today and got in all of my workout days this week, so we’ll see.  Wish me luck!

Modest Mouse at LC Pavilion

A nice, cool, July night under the stars with the love of my life, listening to one of our favorite bands.

The feeling of unity while watching a single, solitary beach ball make its way back and forth across the crowd.

A gaggle of teenagers gathered behind us who obviously had nothing better to do with their time than to go to Bonnaroo and then drive to the Outer Banks for a few days (lucky bastards).

What more could we ask for?

Well, a decent sound guy would have been nice, I suppose.

First off, I must say, LC Pavilion is a wonderful venue.  Assuming, of course, that the person managing the sound for the show is not someone on their permanent payroll.  It was a small amphitheater right in the middle of downtown Columbus, OH.  We got there an hour after the doors opened and still snagged a terrific spot on the lawn.  We were able to move up much closer once the band came on, but this was a perfect place to start the night.

20140712_193635-1When we walked up the line was still wrapped around the building and I thought it would take forever to get in.  I was happily surprised when we were through the gate in less than 10 minutes (this also included scanning our ticket and getting our wristbands for alcohol).  This was definitely the smoothest entrance to a concert I’ve ever experienced.

The next thing that I was happy to see was reasonably priced drinks and merchandise.  They had 32 oz. bottles of Gatorade for $3 and 20 oz. aluminum bottles of beer for $6.  We don’t drink beer, but for all those out there that do, LC Pavilion seems to be the place for decently priced concert booze.  The merch stand left a bit to be desired choice wise, but the prices were good.  $15 for a shirt, $20 for a vinyl, and $30 for a gig poster.  I’ll take it.

mERCHWe walked over to the far end of the lawn to spread out the blanket and wait for the opening band to start.  As we walked by we noticed nice tables and chairs in a little roped off area.  I didn’t see tickets for anything other than general admission online, so I was curious who they were for. Turns out it was for season ticket holders.  So, of course, I immediately decided that one of these days I’m going to have to get a season ticket to that place because their seats are amazing.  Right in the middle of everything, with your own event staff to cater to your every need.

The opening act was a band called the Mimicking Birds, which we had never heard of.

As soon as the first note was played we knew there was a problem.

I can’t give an honest opinion about their talent level because the sound was just horrid.

At one point, we thought that it had to be where we were sitting, so I decided to go get a drink and our merch to see if the sound was better anywhere else.

It was not.

In fact, it was worse in some spots.

We were sure that the issues would be fixed before Modest Mouse took the stage.  It was pretty obvious that there was a problem (and several people in the audience had no problem sharing their displeasure).

Well, we were sort of right.

Modest Mouse was a definite improvement over the opening act, but the sound was still pretty terrible.  The kick drum drowned out EVERYTHING.

On Every. Single. Beat.

On top of the problem with the drums, the vocals seemed to go in and out fairly often and the feedback had the crowd cringing more than once.

However, even with all the sound issues, it’s hard to be too down about seeing Modest Mouse live.  Isaac Brock definitely knows how to put on a show and I know the sound was a fluke, because they managed to fix it for the last song.

Yes, I’m serious.  The very last song was perfect.

Which was awesome (for me, at least), because it just so happened to be Spitting Venom (my favorite!)

There were so many pros that, even though the one con was a glaringly terrible con, we would definitely give both the band and the venue another chance.

Leaving the pavilion was just as seamless as getting in.  After a bit of shuffling to get out, we were at our car, out of the parking lot, and had an ice cream cone in our hand in less than 20 minutes.

We stayed at the Courtyard Columbus Airport (I’m an avid supporter of Marriott hotels and we have been Marriott members for years).  If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it.  Decent price, nice pool, and one of the most comfy beds we’ve ever slept in.  I’ll update this post with a link to my Trip Advisor review once it’s been posted.  You can check out the hotel here if you’re interested.

Overall, I would say 3/5 stars, assuming that it was, in fact, a freak accident with the sound at the venue.  Even with that, we still had a terrific time and one more band marked off our Bucket List.

MM Concert

Seattle (The End)

Day 7 – Botanical Garden & Jimi Hendrix Memorial

We decided that we wanted to make sure that our last day was pretty low key, so we decided to go to the botanical garden and Jimi Hendrix’s grave site.  Cliff and I have been on vacation with my parents several times now and we seem to have a theme going with the botanical gardens.  My favorite is still in St. Louis, with Atlanta a close second.  The best thing about this garden was that it was free.  The garden itself wasn’t very big at all, but what they do have is really nice.  It was a perfect place to meander through on a cloudy/rainy day (our first, by the way!)  It looks like they’re doing quite a bit of construction and I’m eager to see what they get done to it this year.  Yet another place I will have to visit again on our next trip.

This was the second time that I was struck by how lush and green everything is there.  I don’t know why I expected anything else, but I’ve never seen flowers so vibrant!  I suppose I just expected the whole area to be dreary and kind of depressing (I love gray days though!) but it was the complete opposite.

Day 7 - Botanical Garden

We walked through the entire park and wound up spending a couple of hours just kind of strolling through all the paths.  It was mostly greenery, with pops of color here and there, so it wasn’t an eventful stroll – but it was definitely relaxing.  I did get to walk across my first suspension bridge!

After the garden we stopped for lunch and then headed over to the final resting place of the late, great Jimi Hendrix.  The memorial was amazing and I was happy to see that there were no signs of vandalism.

Jimi

We spent the rest of the night doing laundry.

Yes, I do laundry on vacation.  Every chance I can get actually.  All I had to do when we got home was unpack and put it away.  Perfect.

We had originally planned on staying in and eating at the apartment, but Cliff and I decided that we didn’t want sandwiches on our last night in Seattle, so we made our way down to the pub on the corner.

If you’re reading this post from the guest book at the apartment, leave right now and go to Belltown Pub.

http://belltownpub.com/food/menu.html

Yelp Review

**Warning ** If you’re reading about our weight loss journey, I might disappoint you with this next sentence.

ORDER THE MAC AND CHEESE BALLS.

I won’t even mention the Brownie Wakeup.  (Hey – at least we shared it!)

Needless to say, it was the perfect end to an even more perfect trip.

The next morning we got up, dropped off the car, caught our flight and were back in Chicago in less than four hours.  The entire trip could not have been more seamless.  We even wound up getting our parking for free because the hotel had messed up our receipt.  When the attendant came to help us, the machine couldn’t be reset so he just let us go.  It made up the extra we had to pay for the rental car!

On the way home we stopped at Aurelio’s for Cliff’s birthday.  They have the most amazing taco pizza.  Cliff tells me all the time that he has had pizza from all parts of the country and nothing is quite as good as Aurelio’s.  It made me happy to be able to take him there on his birthday (for the SECOND time).  The pizza wound up being kind of a late lunch, early dinner type thing so afterwards we headed straight to the house.  Mom and Dad decided to go ahead and drive home and Cliff and I went to bed as soon as they left.

So, I’m sure most of you are wondering what the damage was weight wise.

We each lost 4 pounds.

Yes, we lost.  Even after the pub food, ice cream, and a bakery right outside our front door.

How did we manage that?

The biggest part was having everything in moderation.  We didn’t eat everything in sight and we shared a lot of the decadent foods that we ate.  There were a few times we went a little overboard, but it was vacation and I firmly believe that everyone needs a little break.

The second biggest part was that we NEVER stopped moving.  Every single day we got in a ton of activity.  On the days where we knew we would spend a lot of the time in a car we worked out at the gym.  My Dad and I even went for a run one morning.  Other days we walked everywhere.  We took Cliff’s watch one day and logged 5 miles just walking around the city on a light day.  Then, of course, there was our amazing hike through the Cascades.

I felt like we had a perfect balance and it made me feel a lot better about traveling on longer trips while we’re on this journey.  Before we left I was super nervous about completely losing my self control.  It was really motivating to come home and see that loss.  Even better than the loss was having the ability to do all the things that we did on the trip.  We would have missed out on so many amazing experiences just as recently as a year ago.  I can’t wait to start tackling more items on my bucket list as we continue to lose the weight.

Thanks for your patience while I shared the absolute BEST trip I’ve ever taken (I’m sure that won’t be the last time you read that line).  I, truly, did not want to leave anything out.  For those of you reading this from the apartment, I urge you to do three things if nothing else.

  • Spend LOADS of time going through Pike Place Market (go on a weekday, trust me)
  • Have at least one dinner at Belltown Pub.
  • If you love music, horror flicks, fantasy, or anything else that’s awesome – go to the EMP.

I hope you enjoyed my (lengthy) review of Seattle.  I highly suggest everyone visit this city at least once.

5 stars for sure.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” ~ Confucius