Posted by: Moni | October 18, 2011

Ahem.

I’ve decided to get my own domain name and consolidate my blogs.  SO!  Please update your links to http://www.cococonfessions.com – aka, Confessions of a Coconut.

This blog will redirect to the new site if I can manage to make it a CSS!

 

Posted by: Moni | August 26, 2011

Myrtle Beach, SC – Its like Vegas, Minus the Slots

Pre–Hurricane Irene Series – I’ve actually been hanging around the Carolina Coast this summer, and figured now was a good time to blog about them!  This is part 2 of 3.

The day after the hubs and I went to Wilmington, we went down to Myrtle Beach, SC. One reason was, I really wanted to check it out as I’m new to this whole east coast thing.  The other?

What a happy man!

Yep. That would be the interior of a little place called the Fireworks Outlet, very close to Myrtle Beach. We did, in fact, go down there to check out what kinds of crazy fireworks they have in SC. Apparently, awesome fireworks that make pretty sparkles high in the sky are completely legal for anyone to buy in good ‘ol South Carolina.

Not that we bought any. Us? Why would we? Pfft. Nothing illegal there…

After checking out that little gem, and talking to their owners (who took us on a walk down firecracker memory lane. Smoke bombs? Snakes? M80′s? They had it all!), we made our way down to our hotel and checked in.. and went OFF to the beach!

Now, one thing I can tell you right off the bat – Myrtle Beach is quite a bit more modern than Wilmington. Its still southern, mind you,  but driving up and down the N Kings Hwy really reminded me of driving the strip in Vegas.  Ok, that’s a bit generous, its not really like Vegas. But, there were bright flashing billboards and lights everywhere, strip malls galore, restaurant upon restaurant… the shop Wings on every corner.. it has some really nice areas, and has some somewhat ghetto or shady areas.  You’d definitely be able to find something for everyone.

Anyway, we went to the beach. Myrtle Beach was definitely a nicer spot to hang out at than Wrightsville – the atmosphere was different, the beach was almost twice as wide, and there was plenty of room for a good game of Bocce Ball!  We set up our chairs and umbrella, sat down to have a few drinks, and my wonderful husband taught me how to play Bocce.  We talked to a few of the locals as well – they were asking us where we got our Bocce set, we were wondering where they found their portable Cornhole. It was a lot of fun, and we were both in quite the jovial mood after that great time at the beach.  I mean, who wouldn’t when you have sand obstacles friends laying around you?

Mr. Marlin!

After that, we went on down in search of some good seafood. I mean, really, we’re spending time on the coast, we might as well reap the benefits!  I’m pretty much a dedicated life Yelper, and while looking for crab, one of the only places that came up was Joe’s Crab Shack – yep, another chain!  We ended up going to that shopping center and looking around, and decided to get one of Joe’s steam pots. Uh… GREAT idea! It was way better than the last Joe’s I went to, probably because its actually on the coast. Definitely worth it.

Yes, I am dorky enough to wear the bib. I had a nice dress on!

The shopping center was really cute, and basically a network of boardwalks leading from shop to shop. We had dinner, fed some HUGE turtles that lived in the sound, and hung out at a little bar for the rest of the evening, chatting up the bartender.  The rest is history. Blurry, fun history.

Posted by: Moni | August 25, 2011

Wilmington, NC – Get Your Southern Charm Here!

Pre – Hurricane Irene Series – I’ve actually been hanging around the Carolina Coast this summer, and figured now was a good time to blog about them!  This is part 1 of 3.

Back in June, the hubs and I took a trip out to Wilmington, NC to scope out the race route for the Beach2Battleship half Ironman distance triathlon.  He signed up for it a couple of months back, and we had planned on going out there to ride the course and get a little beach time in as well.  Wilmington is on the southern side of NC, and not a part of the Outer Banks.

Now, from all of the business travel I did way back when, I’ve still got quite a few hotel points saved up just for occasions like this. We loaded up the bikes, got the dogs taken care of, and went off!  The hotel we elected to stay in was pretty much inbetween the beach area and the town area.  Neither of us had been to Wilmington before, so it was kind of a crapshoot on where we’d be staying.  Well, I chose wrong, and chose on the side closer to Wrightsville beach.  If anyone out there is looking for what location is best to stay at in Wilmington – DEFINITELY go for the cute houses in town. I’ll tell ya why in a few.

When we got there, we immediately checked in, and went down to Wrightsville Beach to take a look around and look for a bite to eat.  We walked around what we thought would be the transition area, and then walked down to the beach itself to check out what it was like in this part of NC.

Surprisingly… it was very much like a Texas beach more than an NC beach.  The strip of sand was pretty narrow, and there were a lot of beach houses packed in tightly close together. It did seem like a fun place to go if you’re a college student or a lover of Nascar, though.  We found one oceanside restaurant (the one and only in the area), and had a drink while we watched the sun set. It was definitely a beautiful night!  After that, we went out in search of a place that didn’t smell like a Long John Silver’s.

A Pier at Wrightsville Beach. Credit: Tripadvisor.com

I do have to interject – despite the lacking location of our hotel, we did manage to find some good seafood!  We stopped in at the Bonefish Grill, which is a chain (which I tend to avoid like the plague), but a damned good one. Its got higher end clientele and food, and when you read reviews saying you should try their Firecracker Shrimp.. they’re absolutely right.

It wasn’t a total loss – we were glad to be close to Wrightsville beach, as that’s where the triathlon is.  The next morning, we rode our bikes on a route from our hotel down to the beach, and explored the entire little island that is out there on two wheels.  The area was very bike friendly, and we did a decent loop with a great headwind on the way back and got a good 25 miles in to preview about half of the course.  Can I just say, that the course is blissfully flat?  I mean, really, the “hill” that is out there is really tiny.

Post Ride Bliss


After our ride, we went out in search of brunch, and came across this lovely little restaurant in town called Press 102. Can I just say – whoever thought up of a chicken and waffle press sandwich was GENIUS?!?  I mean, for reals. I eat mostly paleo these days, but that was absolutely worth the calories. Especially after that preemptive burn on the bike.

While we were driving in and around town, we got to see Wilmington for the charming town it is. Its got this magical southern charm about it, with Spanish Moss hanging on the trees, columns on every doorstep, boardwalks, markets, and a BATTLESHIP!  They’ve got lots of memorials around dating back to the Confederacy, and was very culture rich with history. I love shit like that. I was almost sad that we were on our way out of there and on the way to Myrtle Beach. We started checking out lodging for the B2B race in town THAT SECOND.

Seriously, I jumped on the iPad and started checking out vacation rentals. I recommend you do the same.

Posted by: Moni | April 12, 2011

NYC – The Book of Mormon and Crab Legs

Odd choice of title name, I know, but those are two of the most memorable parts of this trip!

My hubby and I had the opportunity to go to NYC and attend the opening weekend of The Book of Mormon on Broadway, while going up and seeing some of his friends from high school.  It was really kind of a spur of the moment trip – we literally decided to go on Thursday, and were on a plane on Saturday.  I kind of didn’t believe that we were actually going, and were going to go see the show until we were on the plane!  It was kind of surreal, and that was only the beginning.  I had never been to NYC for longer than six hours on layovers, so it was an exciting prospect for a spur of the moment trip!

Saturday morning rolled around, and at 4am we were up and off to the airport.  Three hours later, we were at JFK, and on our way to lunch with K’s friends.  Now, a little background weirdness – I haven’t met a whole lot of K’s close friends, since he was relatively new to Austin when we met and we moved out to NC together – they’re mostly in Colorado, DC, or other random places.  So, I was really psyched to meet two of them in one trip.  We all went out to breakfast (YUM!) and then to a walk on The High Line, which is a newly constructed high rise park in the Meat Packing district.

The park was really cool.  It was a little chilly that day, but we walked the entire length back and forth and I got to take in some of the sights that are along the way.  The construction was fantastic, and I could just imagine how pretty it is in the spring with everything in bloom!  It has a lot of modern flair to it, and you can actually lounge on chairs that are on wheels on the railroad track.  You walk under The Standard Hotel, which is a new construction that looks 70′s mod, and looks really freakin’ cool.  There are little mini seating areas and stages where there could be small performances.. viewing stations.. all kinds of cool stuff.  Oh, and can I mention that I loved seeing a bunch of runners up there?

After that, we went back to his friend’s place to hang out for a while before getting ready for the show, and I got to hear lots of fun stories about K’s high school years. Not really about him specifically, but just the group of friends and their dynamic. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.. but alas, we were then off to rest and nap before the show as we were up quite early.  Its a good thing we did, because the night turned into quite the good time!

Refreshed and ready to par-tay!

After dinner right by the theater, we went to the theater and got our seats for The Book of Mormon.  The seats were GREAT, and I have to thank the theater gods for not putting anyone in front of me so I could actually see everything that was going on!  The last time I saw a show, there was a tall dude in front of me, and it was pretty much lost.  Not so in this case.. and its a damned good thing, because the show was truly fantastic!  First off – its not really all that offensive (to a non-Mormon), and is REALLY well done.  Its about a pair of young men who get sent off on their first mission to a very unlikely place, and the journey they take while trying to get people to buy in to the religion.  The music was great, and the songs take you into their world.. the cast was perfectly picked out, and its seriously a non stop barrel of laughs.  There was always a little detail to notice that made me light up and have a giggle, with all of its upfront jokes, side jokes, and most awesomely – the appeal to today’s audiences.  Its so entertaining, you don’t have time to wonder about what is going on over on Facebook or Twitter – you’re literally taken up by the show and drawn in.  Its definitely the creator’s best work, hands down.  I was thoroughly impressed, and cannot recommend the show enough!

Hello! Hello!

After that, we went to an after party (being that it was the opening weekend, there were lots of those) and hung out with some of the cast and crew.  The ones we did meet were really cool, down to earth, and were just having a general good time afterwards, which was great to see.  The after party was in a loud club (not our scene), and we soon went off to another party that happened to be an after party for an awards show hosted by one of our favorite networks.  Um, TOTALLY not expected.  It was literally a “hum, lets leave this party, get into a black SUV, and go to another” kind of night.  This second party was awesome – not just because of the open bar and REALLY cool place and yummy tapas – but it had a ton of talent in the room.  We met actors from The Office, The Daily Show, South Park, and other places/faces I could recognize but probably not tell you who they were.. and Uncle Jesse. My husband actually had hung out with him in the past, apparently, at his friend’s house in Cali, so they caught up a little bit and I got to spill a little bit of tequila on him with my clumsy self. Good job, Moni, get down with your bad self. :P  We finally got tired out and went back to the hotel at around 2:30am, with my head completely reeling from the awesomeness that we had just experienced. I mean, REALLY?  A Broadway musical and a black tie afterparty? Did that ACTUALLY happen?  Wow.

The next day was not as surreal, but definitely just as cool.  We did a little sightseeing, and after a very late sleep in, we went down to brunch with K’s friends, and then off to Central Park to do some touristy sightseeing. We walked around and got on the glacier rocks, saw a 5K get torn down, and cabbed around Manhattan.  We had planned on going to Ellis Island to view to Statue of Liberty, but decided we were tired and went back to chill out and grab a drink.  Later on that night, we went to the gallery opening of South Park’s 15th Anniversary Art Show, another unexpected surprise, and um.. can I just say, that the creativity we saw in that room blew my mind a little bit more?  Check out the slide show at the bottom of the link I posted there – my favorite was “Hennifer Lopez” which is a rendition of South Park’s idea of J.Lo. :P  Oh, and that nifty Last Supper portrait that is at the top of the page?  Really well done – and we got some iPhone and iPad covers from the event that are copies of the portrait.

After that, we went back to K’s friend’s house again to hang out and order some dinner.  This is where the crab legs come into play.  Usually, when you say, “Lets go and get some take out” you think of maybe Chinese or Thai.. and well, we ended up getting some tasty Thai too – but the majority of what we got delivered?  Crab legs.  I’m not kidding. Its ridiculous sounding, because really, who thinks that it sounds like it would be a good idea?  Let me tell you.. these were the best crab legs I’ve ever had. They were REALLY fresh, ice cold, and really meaty. I had no idea I enjoyed crab that much, and there’s a reason why. I hadn’t had really good crab legs like that before!  Its definitely the most decadent thing I’ve ever had as an order-in meal.

All in all – it was a fantastic trip, and I had a blast.  I don’t know where the next trip will take me, but it’ll be tough to top!

Posted by: Moni | February 24, 2011

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

First off – Punta Cana, DR has the softest. sand. EVER. I’ve been to many a beach – Hawaii, the USVI, the Philippines, the Mediterranean (France), Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, California… this tops all of them, hands down.

Second off – this is really a review of a hotel since we didn’t really leave the resort the whole time we were there.  That is not at all my travel style, or my husband’s – but that’s how the cards fell for this trip.

Imagine my surprise when my wonderful husband asked me right after we returned from our wedding if I wanted to go to the DR next week.  Uh, YES.. I’d LOVE to! See, his company was having a retreat in the DR, where they go somewhere nice, and spend most of the days holed up in a conference room.  He was going, and since he was going to be stuck there.. there’s no reason why I should be stuck in NC, right?  Right!

One week later, we were on a plane back to the Caribbean.  Since we booked our travel at different times, I got delayed for a few hours (and got stick in Philadelphia for a few hours – but in all honesty, its not a bad place to get stuck at, since its basically a mall with a runway attached to it), but he was a sweetheart and waited for me at the airport while his coworkers went to go live it up at the resort.

We arrived, and made it out to our transportation to drive across Punta Cana towards our resort.  This was one of the only times we really got to see what the country itself looks like.. and what we saw looked AWESOME.  It had way more of that Caribbean feel we were really searching for in the VI – casual, a little less full of tourism and hustle and bustle – and it just had a chill vibe.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and I just have to say one more time.. the attitude was SO relaxed.  It was a stark change from the VI, which seemed to have a very ‘go go go’ vibe to it. In other words – Americanized (since it is, of course, a US territory, that should be expected).  We arrived to the Melia Caribe Tropical, and were promptly blown away.

The service was amazing, the resort was gorgeous.. and it was mine for the taking for the rest of the week! Hell. Yes.  Now, I’m not the biggest fan of all inclusive resorts.. but this one does it well.  They had lots of dining options, lots of beach and pool areas – and we were VIP, so we had access to the good stuff.  Our suite?  Amazing.  Seriously, it was about as big as my condo in Austin.  It had this awesome garden tub that was about twice the size of the standard ones you see in the US – and the best part – access to an awesome beach.

The room..

The VIP pool.. so awesome.

My poor husband was stuck working (and so were all his co-workers) for the most part, but I definitely got to enjoy some sun and sand in the middle of January.  In the evenings, we got to go out on excursions to snorkel, or go hang out at the bars and restaurants.  I will say, that the all inclusive restaurant system failed us here and there – but overall, it was a better experience than any other resort I had been in.

Soft sand, beautiful beach and shade? Yes, please!

On the boat/scuba excursion (aka, the rum boat)

And wow, was the rum good.

I even managed to get a few runs in on the beach.  and uh, running on the beach is hard.  The awesome thing was, though, was that there was literally miles of beach for you to run uninterrupted.  It was beautiful, sandy, warm.. gosh. Even though it was hard, I wanted to go anyhow.  Again, the sand was superduper soft, so every chance I got, I was on that beach!

I’d definitely try to make it back there.. after we’ve done our rounds of the other places on our “to travel to” list. :) It was truly a fantastic excursion that fit right into our newlywed lives!

Oh – and for those of you who are hitting up the blog looking for a destination wedding locale – the Melia would be great.. but for reals, go with the beach option, not the gazebo.  The gazebo was quite cheesy looking.  We’re talking painted chubby angels on the ceiling.

Posted by: Moni | February 9, 2011

Jost Van Dyke

When we started telling our friends that we were going to the VI to get married, one of Kyle’s friends responded immediately with, “You HAVE to make it to Jost Van Dyke for New Year’s! Its the only place to be!”

Well, not knowing much about the VI, I didn’t really know what the hell he was talking about.  I did know that the man knew the islands really well, as he owns a water taxi business on the islands, so after we got that message, I started Googling it to check it out.  Well, lets start with Jost.  Jost Van Dyke is a tiny island in the VI chain, belonging to the British side.  Its 8 square km (hell yeah, that’d be a good beach run!), has a native population, a couple of resorts and a famous lil bar called Foxy’s.  Foxy’s is a place of legend, where the hospitality of Foxy himself is SO off the charts, he was knighted by the queen for his contribution to British tourism!  Every year, there is a gi-normous party there that brings in thousands of people and countless celebrities (apparently) to par-tay on New Year’s Eve (also known as Old Year’s Night).

Greg graciously hosted us on his ferry service, and off we went to the BVI for NYE.  We had to have passports, cash and a lot of patience – and I say patience, because if you’ve ever traveled internationally on a holiday, you have to know that if you’re waiting in line to get in a country with thousands of other people.. you WILL be in line for a while.  We took off pretty early, arrived and got checked in about an hour later.  It was fun, though, because really- who can complain about waiting on customs on a beach?  Ok, lots of people, but I didn’t mind so much.

Jost Van Dyke, at the port

 

See those storm clouds?  Yeah, we got rained on a little.  But again.. island life!  Its all good!  We got in and wandered down to the bar area to get our New Year’s on. There were little food stands and bars lined up and down the beach, heading up to Foxy’s – where there was a HUGE covered area with bars and live music going on, along with souvenier shops and other random things that you don’t always see.

A statue of Foxy... and an interesting monkey.

 

The environment was electric, and there was SO much food and culture there – you’d seriously expect to see Anthony Bourdain there with a crew covering the different types of cuisine and amount of partiers there.  It was crazy.  There were soups, chicken, TONS and TONS of alcohol every where you looked (and everything was cheeeaaaap!), fish, veggies.. I can’t even begin to list everything out there, but it was all uniquely prepared in island style.  It felt like throwing back to trips to the Philippines with the friendliness of everyone there and fun.

I wanted to eat it. All of it.

There was lots of drinking, lots of fun, and new friends made.  I think we invited like 8 people to our wedding, but thankfully, no one showed up. :P  After the countdown, we meandered back to the dock to get the ferry back to St. John.  It took us probably about two and a half hours to get back to the hotel – with wading through the crowds, the ferry trip back, and getting through US customs.  It made for a very tiring and long night before our wedding – which was fine, since the wedding wasn’t until sunset the next day – but we were in good spirits and had a blast.  I think it was a great experience, and something I’d say, ‘YES! If you get the chance to go, do it!’ … but, the smarter way to go about it would be to get a hotel or a camp site.  In fact, I insist. You’ll be much happier that way, and if you happen to over indulge, you won’t accidentally miss your ferry or taxi or puke at customs.  We were fine, but there were some people at the end of the line who were… well, not so much.

Well, that was another item on the old “bucket list” that is checked off.  I’ve partied like a rock star on Jost Van Dyke for New Year’s.  Annnnnd I’m all done with that. :)

Proof!

Posted by: Moni | January 26, 2011

St. Thomas and St. John, US Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands.  When I was young, my mother had a friend who brought us back a keychain from the VI, and the phrase immediately (to my young, catholic brain) brought up a mishmash of images.  Islands, great!  Is that like South Padre?  Cue the setting of a brown beach with muddy water.  Virgins?  Hmm.. do they mean like, a bunch of Virgin Marys, with head coverings and drapes? Or, do they mean virgins that are more of the Greek variety, wearing togas? As a result of this, I never really gave the islands a second thought.

Then came the day that I was looking for an ideal place for a destination wedding.  Several places came up – Costa Rica, Seychelles, California Vineyards, the Outer Banks.. and the USVI.  Hm!  The major, MAJOR upside to doing it in the USVI?  Its in the US!  There would be little to no hassle on getting a marraige performed legally in the United States, no extra things like blood tests and waiting periods, and hell. yes. its on a beach. Bingo!  We looked at wedding planners, and I found Island Bliss Weddings, who had great reviews on wedding websites, and were VERY responsive and awesome to work with.  A few weeks later, we were St. Thomas bound!

Getting to the islands is relatively easy – a mere four hours in flight time away, and you are in the Caribbean, being served rum straight out of the airport.  Seriously, the Bacardi people are there with rum as you exit.  We were staying on St. John, so after a 20 minute cab ride later, we were on the ferry to the neighboring island.  You see, the group of islands are really close to each other, and ferry services are on the hour, every hour, between those two islands.  St. Croix and the BVI are another story (which I’ll get to later).

On the ferry. Yeah, I can see clearly now…

We went out to our resort on St. John, the smaller, more scenic and less populated island of the two, for the evening.  The place was gorgeous, and very relaxing.  It was definitely a hassle to go from our quiet resort on St. John (cab, ferry, cab, ferry, cab…) to St. Thomas two days in a row, to pick up our marraige license and to conduct our ceremony, but WELL worth it!  We got to see a LOT of the islands, and thanks to our wedding planners saw a lot more than we expected.  The islands themselves are a LOT of fun, have very friendly people around, and oh my – lots of alcohol.  Seriously, this one bar has a happy hour with dollar beers from 3-6.  There is a TON of rum around – it is the Caribbean – and lots of rum based specialty drinks.  I also had one of the best Bloody Mary’s ever!

 

The VI is a great destination, and there seems to be a host of famous people there at all times.  Kenny Chesney owns a bar there, VP Joe Biden was there on Water Island (I saw Air Force 2 at the airport!), and a few others go there – partially in the name of partying at Jost Van Dyke for New Years.  Which we did.  That deserves a blog post on its own, so stay tuned for that!

Posted by: Moni | July 20, 2010

OBX or BUST!

The Outer Banks, North Carolina, are a string of islands basically lining the state on the east coast.  I realized while I was there that it was my first honest to goodness visit to the Atlantic – I’ve been to the Gulf, the Pacific in Hawaii, the South China Sea in the Philippines, the Indian Ocean in the Philippines, but never the Atlantic.  Not bad for a 30 year old in her native country, huh?

I have to say – we drove through a lot of history on the way over, and the nerdy history buff in me got really excited about that.  We drove through Roanoke Island (and was on Wikipedia looking up details), the Virgina Dare memorial bridge, and Kitty Hawk.  I really want to stop in at the Wright Brother’s Memorial (they have THE plane in it!!), but that will have to wait for the next trip.  I want a week there. :)

We got there on Friday night and immediately headed out to the beach!  We were out there visiting K’s friends from DC (and their two kids), and it was definitely a “lets hurry up and have fun!” kind of day.. and no objections here on that front!  We got out to the beach, kicked back, swam in the ocean, and made plans to go later on that evening to hunt for crabs.  After that, we went out to eat at The Sunset Grill and Raw Bar for some TASTY oysters and seafood.  I had a Tuna Steak grilled rare, and holy crap, was it good.  K got crab au grautin – and I have to say, that was the most (delicious) lump crab I’ve seen in a dish in a while.  Later on that evening, we went back out to the beach to hunt for crabs, and we got one.  He was dubbed “Crabby,” ran at us and the girls (which led to all of us girls squealing and running away), and got a good bite on K. It was cute.

The next day was more beach, more sand, more swimming!  We had planned on getting up early to look for shells, but we all slept in til 9.  Off we went on a bike ride down the island on their awesome trail on the side of Hwy 12, and we cruised up to take some pictures along the sea and go to a toy store.  We got lots of comments on the awesomeness of my bike. ;)  Later on, we got back, and I set my award winning chicken chili in the crock pot for dinner.. then off we went to Duck Deli for lunch!  I had to have some of that pulled pork with West Carolina sauce on it.  I needed a nap after that, whew.  We had planned on going to another beach that evening, but Mother Nature had another plan for us.  We got in just in time for a crazy thunderstorm, so we stayed in to play games for the rest of the evening.  K and I snuck out later on that evening to set off some fireworks at the beach and stargaze. We chased a few other crabs and he jumped in the ocean.  We went to bed waaaaayyy to late that night given the amount of energy we had to expend the next day. :)

The next day was just as awesome.  We all went up to Corolla to take the truck out on the beach, thew it in 4×4 mode, and drove out to find us a spot for the day.  We spent a lot of time out there until we got really hungry.  It was really cool – there were wild horses wandering up and down the beach, and we did lots of activities. There were numerous fish chases in the sea, swimming, sand castle building,kite flying soccer playing, and just a little bit of lounging.

It was definitely a good vacation, with a small percentage of relaxing – but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.  I can’t wait to go back!  I’ll add in some pictures here eventually.. just have not dloaded them from the camera.

There will be a few major changes coming up to this blog!  I have a couple of ideas, but the hardest part is of course, the format.  I’ll make it work when I get some time. :)

Posted by: Moni | July 6, 2010

Virgina is for Lovers!

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.  We have BBQs, Beer and Fireworks among a setting of friends and family, so of COURSE that sounds like a great combination to me!

This year, we went up to Virginia to see some of K’s friends, and get up to Washington DC in order to watch the fireworks at the Capitol.   I had not met these friends of his – and I was very eager to do so, since these are in the class of those very close awesome friends who he hadn’t seen in a couple of years due to distance and well, life.

We packed up the dogs and headed up there, and I was kind of like a kid going to a new place – I’ve been to DC before, but not really to Virginia.. and the drive was just TREES.  The Mid-Atlantic region is apparently just like this – completely lined with trees.  For me, that’s actually kind of hard to work with – I’m used to the Texas plains and skies where you can see for miles around you, and here, it seems like the trees block just about everything out of view.  This isn’t  bad, mind you, just different.  It was strange to me that we were passing by sizable towns, but had zero visibility to them. Anyhow – we made it up there, and the friends we were visiting actually lived two houses down from K’s old house – so I got to see it and actually go in it later on that weekend.   I met everyone, and we went to a BBQ where we met more people and I got to know some new friends.  It was great. :)

Later on in the evening, we were going to go to DC – but decided we were just too effing tired after the last few days we’ve had.  They were actually going down there pretty much just for me, so since I had seen the nation’s display when I was in college (and we’ll get much more opportunity to go into the city when its not so crowded), I made the call to just sit on the couch and visit with some other friends who came by a bit more.  So, we watched the display on PBS, commented on the crowds, snacked on watermelon, popcorn and melon, and had a good time playing pool downstairs later on that night.

The next morning, we actually went to K’s old house for brunch!  The new owners got married the night before – downtown on the top of a hotel, with windows for the fireworks display – and held a brunch the next morning.  I think it was  a little surreal for K, but also good to see the subtle changes in the yard.  I got to hear a lot about a crazy Italian neighbor (no surprise there), meet a few people with similar interests, and watch some really darn cute kids.

While the trip out of town was very tame and we didn’t get out very much – I think it was very needed to recharge our batteries. I’m really glad we made it out there!

Posted by: Moni | June 15, 2010

The Journey from the Center of My Earth

So, its been a little more than a year since I’ve updated this blog, so I find it highly appropriate to finally do it now.

Things have changed!  For starters – I am done with solo travel.  It was a lot of fun over the last three years or so, but after that European trip (which when I took it, I told myself it was my last chance to do something like that – and I was right) I think the effort it takes vs. relaxation level is a bit off.  Granted, the excitement level is off the charts, but I’m at a point where I’ve had enough of it.

Second – I have done some domestic travel this year, notably to Denver and to the RTP area – but the circumstances were not the kind I wanted to blog about.

Third, I just started on a whole new journey of another kind I’ll say.  Its not travel, but relocation!  This blog entry started as an account of how I got to my new home in Chapel Hill, NC.  Well, I mean “how” in a very literal sense – I got into my car and drove here.  That knocks off “Take a Road Trip” from my 101 list.  I knocked it off before, but it was soft.  This was definitely a trip I took my sweet time on.

Originally, I was going to ship my car here and fly up with Chiclet (my dog), but after getting quotes on car transport, companies couldn’t give me a precise enough time frame for my schedule, so I decided to suck it up and drive the 21 hours.

We relocated here because K got a job offer he could not refuse.  Lucky for me, my organization at work is very progressive.  I was able to keep my job and just change to “remote” status very easily.  So, its definitely a win-win situation.  We traveled here twice between the time the company contacted him to get his interviews done and do a house hunting trip.  We found a house, literally at the last minute, and wow – this place is AWESOME!

So, the journey.  Fast forward about a month later after his company contacted him, and we are off and running.  Getting the south house on the market and sold in record time, moving everything out and up here.. making both of our travel arrangements.

K and the big dogs went out the week before I did, and that week flew by trying to make sure I got to say goodbye to everyone (with the promise that I’ll be back often).  The little dog and I took off on a Sunday morning, and I made my way up to Arkansas to visit K’s cousin and stay the night.

This girl is a character.  I had met her once before in Austin, when she came to visit us, and that evening and next day was a flurry of entertainment!  I got to know a lot about the family and the area that they are from, and I even got to meet her parents (K’s Aunt and Uncle) the next day.  The funniest part was easily the dogs REAAAALLY wanting to get a hold of Chiclet, and Chiclet having none of it. The Lhasa was sooooo upset, but since the Lab was a bit aggressive to Chiclet, she was a bit freaked out. Pansy.  Anyhow, we had a nice dinner and I in the end was very happy to have stopped by.  That was two experiences – my first time on an Air Force base, and getting to know a lot about the family.

The next day, I made my way to Tennessee.  I have a lot of coworkers and friends in Nashville, so I was going to stay with one of them overnight, but decided to go on to Knoxville so I could knock out two more hours while there was still a lot of daylight and time.  It worked out perfectly!  I got to Nashville, had some good snacks at a restaurant downtown called Cabana, and got to catch up with Terri for a while.  It was great!  I went on to Knoxville and slept like a rock until I made my way up to Chapel Hill the next day.

Welcome to Tennessee!

The next day – from Knoxville to Chapel Hill – was a BEAUTIFUL drive.  I drove through the Blue Ridge mountains, and holy hell was the smoky mountain range just gorgeous!  K keeps telling me we’ll take a drive through there in the fall to see the leaves change, and I can only imagine how great that will be! It was quite interesting seeing all the grade caution signs for truckers and all the motorcycles taking rides out there.  I took a picture of a three wheeler in the Blue Ridge:

3 wheeler in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Finally, I got into North Carolina and stopped in at the Visitor’s Center.  It was quite cool, about 70 degrees at 1pm, and we stopped for a walk and to get some brochures.  It was quite nice.  By that point, I was just So ready to get into my new home!  I finished that beautiful part, and then got into urban NC – which seemed to take FOR-EV-ER since I was finally getting impatient with all the anticipation.

Getting here was great – I pulled into the new driveway, saw the beautiful rose gardens, was greeted outside by K and the dogs, and carried over the threshold. We are still settling in, and that’s going to take us some time – but we will certainly have fun doing it!

Road trips can be fun, but I’m glad I did it solo.  Sprint Navigation on Google Maps was instrumental and very helpful.  Chiclet has handled the move well, and is happy to be back with her big brother and sister.

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