My best friends birthday

Today is my best friends birthday. I won’t share how many years she has but it is more than me.

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With the exception for three months where I lived in Indiana, we have always lived a plane ride away.  So we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we like.

But as a birthday challenge of sorts, I wanted to see if I could reconstruct all the times we have seen each other.

2006

We first met in April of 2006 at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  More specifically, she was sitting in front of me on the shuttle to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.

 

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Washington, D.C., 2006

 

We saw each other again at the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) Cleveland Board Meeting but we weren’t really friends yet.

It would be at the YRNF Fall 2006 Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.  This was when we would become friends.  I had just lost my race for State Rep back in Maine.  This was also the board meeting where I met Bryon.

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Louisville, Kentucky, 2006

 

2007

March- We had a YRNF Board Meeting in New Orleans.

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New Orleans, 2007

Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Hollywood, Florida in July.

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Hollywood, FL, 2007

That fall I lived in Indiana.  I know there was an evening I was staying the night near Chicago and my work partner and I took the train in to have dinner with her and another good Chicago friend. Sadly, I don’t have a pic.  It was 2007.  I still used a flip phone.  Don’t judge.

She also took a flight to Louisville to work on a campaign.  We knocked on doors somewhere in Kentucky.  I don’t have any pics of that weekend either.

A friend and I drove up to Chicago one weekend and we went to Navy Pier.

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Chicago, 2007

Sometime in the Fall of 2007 was also the YRNF Board Meeting in Houston, Texas.

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Houston, 2007

By the holidays, I was back in Maine.  Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas so she came to Maine to celebrate with my family.   She flew into Manchester, NH and my Michigan Best friend (who still lived in Maine at the time)  came with me to pick her up.  During a blizzard.

We celebrated the holidays in Maine.

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Maine, 2007

It’s not a Sullivan holiday without a trip to the range.

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Maine, 2007

We then took a trip to Boston.  There were Irish pubs…

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Boston, 2007

…and Scorpion Bowls…

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…and some wicked bad karaoke.

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Boston, 2007

We also walked the Freedom Trail in the freezing rain.

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Boston, 2007

And we went to Cheers and these guys were our dates for five minutes.

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Boston, 2007

2008

I was still living in Maine and I was traveling out to Albany for the New York State Young Republican Leadership Conference and she decided to fly in.  (This weekend was also when Bryon and my love story began)

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Albany, 2008

 

I had missed the Young Republican Leadership Conference that year because it was the same year as the Maine Republican Convention.  I guess when scheduling it, Maine didn’t matter or something.  But we had a Maine Young Republican Conference in Portland and she flew in for that.

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Maine, 2008

She flew in that Fall to help with some campaigning.  There was a hurricane in the Gulf of Maine that weekend.  Luckily, it was far enough out in the ocean that we really just had rain.  But we ending up painting signs in a barn.

Oh and there was some more bad karaoke.

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Maine, 2008

 

And then there was the YRNF Fall Board Meeting in Nashville.

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Nashville, 2008

2009

First there was the Spring YRNF Board Meeting in Orlando.

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Orlando, 2009

Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Indianapolis.  And I have no pics from us.  I feel like she may have worked and drove in late.  Or maybe I was a jerk friend who spent too much time hanging out with my boyfriend.  I was also running for Northeast Regional Vice Chair and I know I was consumed with that.

Since I have given you a lot of pics of bad karaoke, here’s one of Bryon singing good karaoke.

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Indianapolis, 2009

The Fall 2008 YRNF Board Meeting was in Kansas City, MO.  I had tonsillitis, went against doctors orders and I barely left my room.  I emerged for meetings because I was the Northeast Regional Vice-Chair and had to be there.  So no pics.  But we were both there.

2010

We both happened to be in Indianapolis for two separate events.   I was in town to watch Bryon’s alma mater’s basketball team play Butler in the Bracket Busters.  You were in town with your boyfriend for a race.  We met up for dinner at St. Elmo’s Steakehouse.  This was the winter of illness so I was out of it because I had bronchitis.

That spring she came out to visit me in Albany but I had picked up a really bad case of Gatroenteritis while working in the ER.  But she still came anyway, but I was not any fun.

2011

We did not see each other this year.  This is a sad year.

2012

And the beginning of 2012, she came out to Albany for my engagement party

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Albany, 2012

Then there was my wedding

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Albany 2012 Photo: Heidi Benjamin Photography

And her wedding in Mexico

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Mayan Ruins, 2012
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Bachelorette Party, Mexico, 2012

 

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Mexico, 2012

2013

We didn’t see each other in 2013.  We were too busy being newlyweds.

2014

I flew out to Chicago in February for your baby shower.  We went to the Sears Tower and we were both pregnant and stopped to rest on every bench we saw and used the bathroom every time we saw one.  A far cry from our old days.  No pictures because we both feeling tired and pregnant.

2015

Your family came to visit mine in Albany.  It gives me goosebumps to think that this would be the last time you would see Bryon.

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Dinosaur BBQ, Troy, NY, 2015
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Albany 2015
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Albany, 2015
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Albany, NY

2016

Bryon had been in the ICU for 4 months and been transferred to NYC.  You made plans to come to NYC on Bryon and my birthday weekend and you arranged with my father to meet halfway between Albany and NYC so you could bring my daughter to see him.

But that weekend never happened.

Well it did.  Just not the way you planned.  But it ended up being a funeral weekend in Albany.  I was grateful to have you there for me.

2017

Life goes on.  And you made sure to make time for me this year.

First was Vegas in Feb.

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Las Vegas, 2017

Ann Arbor in March.

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Ann Arbor, 2017

And my daughter and I came to visit you in Chicago in July.

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Chicago, 2017
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Chicago, 2017

We were supposed to go to Disney in September, but Hurricane Irma had other plans.

2018

I realized that I needed to use my Southwest credit from our canceled Florida trip.  So I came out to see you in March.  We took the girls to Wisconsin Dells and the Museum of Science and Industry.

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Chicago and Wisconsin, 2018
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Chicago, 2018

And this is where our story currently is.  It is so cool to see our girls growing in these pics and that they will grow up together.  Who would have thought that a friendship forged during drunken YRNF weekends would turn into a friendship that spans two generations?

And we get to continue our story this coming weekend. I am so excited!

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New York, New York

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a New England girl and Boston is my city.

 



But I do feel some shame when I think about how little I time I have spent in New York City even though I have lived in Upstate New York for almost nine years.

The first time I went to NYC was when I was a senior in high school in 1996.  My cross country team traveled from rural Maine and we ran a 5k in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. We also saw Les Miserables on Broadway, went to the Natural History Museum, shopped at Macy’s and saw Trump Tower, the Plaza Hotel and FAO Schwartz.  We also ate a Bennigan’s in New Jersey. I loved all of it. I was amazed that NYC was so big and that it made Boston look like a small town.

My second time in New York City was December 2008.  I had been dating Bryon for a couple of months and we met in the city to attend the New York City Young Republican Club Holiday Dinner.  Bryon took me to see all the store windows decorated for Christmas. He also took me to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and that was the first place he told me that he loved me.

 

I returned a few more times that year.  I was still living in Maine and I was running for Northeast Region Vice Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation.  I would stay with friends and campaign around the Mid-Atlantic. Bryon would join me. The trips were fuzzy but I remember going to a bar called Stitch in the Garment District that had $20 drinks (Bryon didn’t let his status as a poor 1L in law school stop him from getting me drinks) and I remember walking by the Brooklyn Bridge with Bryon.

But I have only been to NYC four times since I moved to New York State 9 years ago.

The first was right after I moved here. Bryon and I drove to Queens to attend a cookout at a friends house.

The third time was in November, 2013.  I was pregnant with a baby I would miscarry later that same week.  Bryon and I took a one night cruise on the Norwegian Gem out of NYC and the following day we explored the city.  Only being pregnant, I was not good company. I was tired, had sciatic pain and could only tolerate eating saltine crackers.  I remember we had lunch at McGee’s Pub, which is the bar that inspired McLaren’s on How I Met Your Mother.  Then we saw Pippen at The Music Box Theater. I had wanted to see the Rockettes but Bryon really wanted to see Pippen.  He told me we would see the Rockettes the next time.

The next (and fourth) time Bryon and I would go to NYC would be when I had him transferred to Columbia Presbyterian and I temporarily moved down there.  A family who was friends with my daughter’s godmother took me in. I will always be grateful that they welcomed me, a stranger into their home and did everything they could to make me feel welcome even though we had no way of knowing how long Bryon’s recovery was going to take.

Aside from the one night where my daughters godmother took me to Times Square and to a Mexican Restaurant in Harlem on the same block as the Seinfeld Restaurant, I did not see much of the city. The family I stayed with lived in Hamilton Heights.  Every morning I would walk a block to the subway station, stopping to get an Iced Coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The hospital was one stop on the express (three on the local) away in Washington Heights and I spent my days in Bryon’s room in the MICU located in the Millstein Building.  The security guards knew my name. When I was hungry, I either got food in the cafeteria or I went to the Chipotle or Starbucks on the same block.

Since then, I have driven by NYC on a few trips where I have flown in and out of Newark, NJ.  We also drove by the city on our way to and from Philadelphia last month. I remember saying to my friends that I had not been to NYC since Bryon died.  I know there is so much that city has to offer. We had so many ideas of things we wanted to do with our daughter when she got older. I am thinking about possibly doing a weekend trip next fall.  I want to take her to see the Rockettes. We will see if I am ready.

I think it is safe to say that if I visit NYC again, I will be avoiding Washington Heights.

So now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I will get to the point of this post.

I am choosing to remember Bryon and our second trip to NYC.  

It was May 2011. Seven years ago.  I was pissed at Bryon because we never went to the city.  So he did what any good boyfriend would do.  He took me down to NYC.  And typical to his zest for life, he packed a lot into that one day.

So he took me to the city.

We drove downstate and took the Metro North train into the city.  We arrive in Grand Central Station.

We went to the Top of the Rock.

We then went to Chinatown where I may have bought an “imitation” Coach purse.  Bryon was dissapointed that I wouldn’t go into the places with a back room. It scared me.  Bryon normally couldn’t care less about purses, but when it was time to haggle, he jumped right in and haggled with the lady.  Even though I was paying, he wasn’t satisfied with the price given.

Bryon then took me to McSorley’s.  McSorley’s was an experience.   It is the oldest running Irish Tavern in NYC.  You have two choices of beer, light and dark and you order them in increments of two.  We ate the cheese platter which consisted of cheese, saltines and raw onions.  The place is full of history but the best is the legend of the wishbones.  the legend is that when the soldiers went to war during WWI, they put a wishbone up above the bar and took them down when they returned.  So the wishbones that remain memorialize the soldiers that did not come home.

After McSorley’s, Bryon took me to a dish shop called Fishs Eddy.  I don’t remember it being the best place to be when you were tipsy.

Then we went to Little Italy.  We had dinner at a pizza place and then went somewhere else for cannoli.  I have no idea the names of the places we went.

We finished the night at a hidden bar above a Five Guys.

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A city with so many memories.  A city that I will always associate with Bryon’s death.  A city that Bryon planned on taking our daughter at Christmastime.

I need to decide if I want to take my daughter down this fall.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Nothing in life is definite and if I were to leave the area, I would probably kick myself for not going down there.  So now I need to decide, Rockettes or the Natural History Museum or both….

Have you ever been to New York City?  What is your favorite thing to do?

A little life update. Well, kinda.

I realize that I probably oversold the topic.  You probably read that and got very excited.

But I have nothing life changing to report.

I am still living in the same house with no plans to move.

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I am still working my same “day ” job.  (I have day in quotes because I work many of my hours after my daughter goes to bed.)

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A Monday joke because it is Monday

And no, I am not dating.  Not even close.  And that is okay.  I am focused on myself and my daughter at the moment anyway.

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So I didn’t mean to get your hopes up on anything you could possibly gossip about me.  Well, I did have a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction this weekend.  Nothing scandalous, just annoying. But that happens a lot when you are…well…shaped like me.  Whatever.  Though I am a little pissy because I spent close to $100 bucks on alterations at David’s Bridal.  Luckily Kimmy Gibbler had double sided tape.  She’s amazing.  She thinks of everything.

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So nothing major.  Same house.  Same job.  Same relationship status.  Just taking a little time to re-center going from Spring (though really it has been more of a Sprinter this year) to Summer.

It has been a crazy 6 or 7 weeks.  I would count but I am too lazy to at the moment.

At the end of March, I went to Chicago and Wisconsin.  In April,  I went to Philadelphia and Boston/Salem.  In May we had the Derby Party and a very special wedding.

Needless to say that I am tired and hopefully things will be slowing down here.  I don’t mean that in a manner that I don’t appreciate the busyness of the past 7 weeks.  It has been a fun and happy time. But it has been tiring.

As we enter into summer, I need to recenter and re-focus.  I have a lot of housekeeping to do,  literally and figuratively.

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Around my house, I have been slowly cleaning out and donating items.  Usually one or two bags or boxes a week.  It still hasn’t made a dent but I refuse to let anything new enter the house.  My new rule is, if it comes in a box, the box then has to be filled with items to donate.  Even if the box came from Amazon with a birthday present for someone else’s kid and the original contents of the box won’t be staying in the house.  The rule in the McKim house is that if something comes in, something has to go out.

I plan to stay closer to home this summer but I do have some traveling happening including a trip coming up on Memorial Day weekend as well as a trip to Boston in June for a Red Sox game.  A college friend of mine has expressed interest in meeting up in Boston and I would love to see her so that may be happening.  But my travel will be more spread out and casual in nature.

Staying close to home doesn’t mean boring.  My daughters dance recital is coming up and I am keeping her in dance and gymnastics over the summer because she enjoys it so why not?  I also have a few concerts to go to that I am really excited about.

I will be spending more time on my writing.  I started writing a book and I hope to finish it before the end of summer.  It isn’t the book I envisioned I would be writing first but I felt the inspiration to start it and went with that.  I don’t think this will affect the frequency as to when I post on the blog.  I will update you all when it is close to being finished.

I also have a few other ideas for projects but they are in the baby stages so I am going to refrain from sharing them.  I want to see if they will take off before I share them.

What do you have coming up this summer?

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Boston 2018: Kowloon, Salem and The House of Seven Gables

Last week my daughter and I took a whirlwind trip to the Boston area because my cousin, her husband and her friend were visiting.

If you are a friend of mine, please don’t be offended that I didn’t reach out.  I was literally in Massachusetts for 30 hours.  Well about 35 hours if you include my time on the Mass Pike…

I hate driving on the Mass Pike.

The main cast of characters (You met some here) in this story are:

My cousin: H-Bomb and her husband Tito
H-Bomb’s friend from Florida
H-Bombs friend in Massachusetts and her boyfriend, The Boat Captain
My daughter
and Yours Truly.

***I just want to note that I try to avoid using real names for people so I use nicknames.  Sometimes I will write and not have a nickname yet.  It does not mean that these people are not important.  Everyone is valued and loved.  It just means I haven’t thought is a wicked cool nickname yet***

My brother, Danimal the Party Animal also made an appearance.  He’s not really a party animal.  We just used to work at the grocery store back in Maine when I was in high school and he was in college and the produce guys named him that.

Because…Dannon Danimals.

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H-Bomb is a planner but I suggested we re-create this commercial.  My daughter can do everything that little boy does in the video.  Heck, she can probably do it better.  Because she is awesome.

I had a simple plan.

  1.  First, find a Bed and Breakfast that would let us shoot some picturesque shots.
  2. My daughter will run away from the water because the North Atlantic is effing freezing this time of year.
  3. Find an old man with a lobster boat. I will bring my daughter’s life jacket. It’s pink not orange but I think we can work with it.
  4. Find a town having a 4th of July concert in the town common. On a Thursday. In April.  My daughter can dance.
  5. Picnic baskets and marshmallows and a bonfire on the beach. Who cares about town permits?

Ultimately we decided against recreating the Spirit of Massachusetts video.  But we did decide that should we make one, it would include history, the Red Sox, a whole lot of Dunkin Donuts and Tito said that we needed to film one of us standing at an intersection in Boston looking completely dumbfounded.

Because Boston is not known for easy intersections.

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I had arrived in Peabody in the afternoon.  We just hung out and caught up.

Then we had dinner at Kowloon.

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I spent the first 15 years of my life in the Boston area and had never been to Kowloon.  I had always seen it whenever I drove on Route 1.  I know my Uncle (H-Bomb’s Dad) always checks in there on Facebook when he visits from Florida.  But I had never been.  Kowloon is north of the city and I grew up all the way out in Billerica.  Google maps tells me that they are about a half an hour away from each other and back then, that was the equivalent of being out of state.

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I was not disappointed.  It reminded me of the old school Boston Chinese restaurants I went to as a kid.  But better.

We toasted to friends, cousins and honorary cousins.  We all loved how my daughter joined with her fruit punch.

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We ordered several dishes to share including the quintessential Boston pu-pu platter

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We seem to have a knack for ordering almost just the right amount of food.  We all ate till we were stuffed and we didn’t have much left over.

We all drank our Mai Tai’s and read out fortunes.  Complete with saying “in bed” after the fortune.  Because I am dork like that and I won’t apologize for it.

The server kept bringing cookies so we kept reading them.

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We got our group selfie (groupie?) and then we went back to the house that belonged to H-Bombs Massachusetts friend and the Boat Captain.

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I read my daughter stories and put her down to bed.  And then us adults played games.  It was a blast.

Friday morning brought donuts from Kanes.  H-Bombs Massachusetts friend bought so many flavors that we cut them up so we could try more than one.  The Maple Bacon one was amazing.

We spent most of the day in Salem.

The kids played.  Well, Tito, the Boat Captian and my daughter played.

We took turns seeing a psychic and we had lunch at Brodies Seaport.

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We saw everyone’s favorite liquor store, Bunghole Liquors.

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H-Bombs Massachusetts friend asked me if I knew what a bunghole was and I was like “Yeah…Beavis and Butthead…duh…”

But apparently it actually has a more dignified meaning…

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I’ll be damned.

 

We also got a chance to see the House of Seven Gables which has been a dream of mine for about 20 years.  Last trip to Boston my 20 year dream of eating at the Top of the Pru came true.  All of 20-year-old Kerry’s dreams are coming true.

We showed up right as a tour was starting.

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You can think what you want about the time and date.  None of that was going on.  I just love patterns and thought that was cool.

We enjoyed the tour and the history lesson.  My daughter is only 3 but she was a trooper and very well behaved.  Between my trip to Philly the weekend before and being in Salem, I feel blessed for living so close to so much history.

I can’t wait to return to Boston.  I also can’t wait to see my cousin again which will be on my birthday trip.  I am planning something special for the big 4-0.

Philly 2018: The tribe invades Philly

A week an a half ago my friends (also known as The Tribe) were in Philly for a bachelorette party of one of our own.

As I am writing this post, I am going to apologize in advance for a lack of narrative.  You are getting the bare bones story of my trip. Seriously, if you are Facebook friends or Snap Chat friends with me, you would have already seen most of this.

Because what happens in Vega-delphia stays in Vega-delphia.

I didn’t even SnapChat with the groom that weekend and he is one of my top SnapChat besties.  Sorry!  Well…not really….

The weather was amazing.  It was 80 degrees and I even had body in my hair from the humidity.  Albany was forecasted to be getting sleet.

Where we stayed:

At an airbnb near Center City.  I didn’t take any pics inside but it was down this cute alley.  The house was adorable, had four double beds (and there is a couch that folds out) and the owner even provided coffee, snacks and wine.

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Where we ate: 

Yards Brewing Company.

I forgot to take photos of my food but here is a menu.  Please excuse the glare.

Heffe’s Tacos

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2nd Story Brewing Company

I didn’t take any pictures of the food but everything was delicious.  We got a bunch of appetizers to share.

Alma de Cuba

The food here was amazing.

Clockwise from top-left: Blood Orange Margaritas/Guacamole and Plantain Chips/Some sort of Cuban bread I don’t know the name of/Vaca Frita/ Bachelorette’s Congratulations Desert, it was a chocolate cake/Cuban Coffee.

After we had a celebratory drink that tasted like grapefruit.

Kraftwork

We had brunch here.  The food was good but most dishes had eggs.  I am weird about eggs.  For me its a texture thing.  But I would still recommend this place.

I got the biscuits and gravy.  (a.k.a.  The reason I can never move down South because I would gain 100 pounds.)

Eggs weren’t mentioned as coming with this dish on the menu.  As I mentioned I am funny about eggs.   I think runny egg yolks are disgusting and those egg yolks made me very uncomfortable. Like, I am fine if I am with someone who is eating eggs like that.  Bryon ate his eggs like that.  Or poached. They just can’t be on my plate. The salad was on a separate plate and I managed to swap them out with no egg yolk breakage- success!  All was right in my world again.

I had Kentucky Iced Coffee without the bourbon shot and it was good.

Other establishments we went to

The Barcade

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City Tavern

This is a must visit place if you are a history buff like me.  The porter I drank was made from the recipe that was found in George Washington’s records.


Helium

We did see a comedy show at Helium.

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History

I finally got to see the Liberty Bell.  Kimmy Gibbler and I took our kids last year (I didn’t end up blogging about it) but I didn’t get to see it up close.  That dream was realized this year.


My friend, The Architect, took some photos of buildings that she found interesting and gave me permission to share them.

And a few other things

I tried Vietnamese Iced Coffee at The Last Drop.  It was amazing.
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I did wear a sash

And I got really excited when I saw this.

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Have you ever been to Philadelphia?  What are your favorite things to do there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin 2018: Water parks, cheese curds and the Cheese Castle

My daughter and I recently visited my best friend in Chicago.  While we were making plans for our stay, my best friend sent an email with a list of things we could do.  One of the things listed was going to one of the indoor water parks in the Wisconsin Dells.

My daughter lobbied hard for that option and my best friend agreed to it.

I was happy to go to Wisconsin.

I visited once before in 2004 for a wedding of a friend who I attended school with in England.

My cousin came up from Florida to be my guest.

We were babies.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Not many pictures exist from that trip.  And the ones that do seem to feature alcohol.

Double fisting Spaaten at the Essen Huas.

Well not really.  More like holding my beer and my cousins beer.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Drinking a beer with a lemon…what was I thinking?  My taste in beers sure has evolved since 2004.

This was at the Great Dane Pub.   I remember my cousin and I talked some guys about hunting deer.

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Madison, WI 2004

This last picture I look hideous.  According to my cousin’s caption, I drank a few Blue Moons at Stillwaters.

What was I doing drinking Blue Moon?

This clearly was the age before I discovered that stout, porter, cider and pumpkin beer are really the only beers worth drinking.

I remember that there was a huge fish tank and I was talking to a nice hippie guy about fish poops.  We also had a conversation about government parks affect the local tax structure and we did not see eye to eye.  We agreed more about fish poop.

I was actually trying to remember the name of this place when talking to “Uncle Greg”.  I googled it and found out it had closed in 2005.

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Madison, WI, 2004

I actually just got rid of that sweater in my closest.  Right before I went on this trip.  It was time.  I probably hadn’t worn it since the Bush Administration.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Anyway, I really like Wisconsin and was excited to get to go again and bring my daughter with me.

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Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

While we were driving through the Illinois countryside and we passed the town of Belvidere Oasis and while it isn’t spelled the same, it got us thinking about Mr. Belvedere.

And how come more middle class American families don’t have butlers.

I could use a butler.

And then we got thinking about how much we miss TV theme songs.

Like Just the Ten of Us

And Out of this World.

Though I still don’t understand why the alien father didn’t just stay instead of just talking through that weird cube thing.

and Small Wonder.

I remember my brother and I (and I guess my Dad too) watched it every Saturday night after we went to Mass.

We talked about other theme songs but maybe I will save all of those for another post.

Eventually we made it to Wisconsin.

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We were traveling along I-90 which also runs through NY.  I was trying hard to find an I-90 sign that was near a Cheese bilboard because I wanted to get a picture and say that it was just home…with cheese.

I was unsuccessful.

We were travelling to the Wisconsin Dells and I had no idea what a Dell was except that there once was a Farmer in one who took a wife.

This is what google told me.

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We stayed at Mt. Olympus Water Park.  I wish I got more pictures but it was hard between the two girls and having to discipline all the unruly children around us.

Yes, I have become that parent.

And I am not sorry.

Seriously, there were kids that were clearly taller than the maximum height for the kiddie area and some of them were pushing the little kids out of the way.  It becomes a real safety issue.

At dinnertime, we went downtown and had dinner at a Mac and Cheese restaurant called Macs.  It was amazing.

My daughter had the L’il Mamma’s- Cheddar, Mozzarella and Fried Hot Dogs

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Wisconsin Dells, 2018

My friend got the Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac– Cheddar, Mozzarella, Chicken, Bacon and Ranch

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Wisconsin Dells, 2018

I got the Taco Mac- Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Seasoned Ground Beef, Pico De Gallo, Sour Cream and Avocado.

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Poor Squeakers looks longingly at the Mac and Cheese but he can’t have any.

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We still made room for ice cream.  I hadn’t been to Cold Stone in years.  I love that place.

I got coffee ice cream with oreos. I even got a fancy cone that I was too full to eat.

My daughter and my friends daughter were more, um, creative.  My daughter got cotton candy ice cream with M & M’s and my friends daughter got Mint Ice Cream with marshmallows.

Whatever.

It was their vacation too.

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The next day we went to the water park for a couple hours before heading back to Chicago.

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As I mentioned in last weeks Good Vibrations Gratitude Post, we stopped to see “Uncle Greg” and his girlfriend and Uncle Greg gave the girls their own cheesehead hat.

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“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We were having lunch by the Capital so I felt that we had to take our picture in front of the Wisconsin Capital with the cheesehead hat.

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Madison, WI, 2018

We found this cool cow but couldn’t get the girls to look at the camera.

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Madison, WI, 2018

We had lunch at The Old Fashioned because I told the Wisconsonites that I wanted fried cheese curds and this is the best.  And they did not disappoint.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I took a picture of my Wisconsin Burger on SnapChat but sent it before I remembered to save it.  So no pic of that but it was delicious.

Here is a pic of my daughters chicken fingers.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

We said our good-byes because we had one more Wisconsin stop.

We drove to Kenosha (by way of Milwaukee) to stop at the CHEESE CASTLE.

My best friend said she always wanted to stop there but her husband never wanted to.

I told her this was the trip where dreams come true.

Because that whole YOLO thing.

It was awesome.

So much cheese.

I bought a lot of cheese curds to bring home.

They are in my fridge.

And before we knew it, we were back in Illinois.

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Wisconsin-Illinois Border, 2018

The end.

 

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #16

It’s Friday!

You know what that means!  Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. Seeing my bestie

    Last weekend my daughter and traveled to Chicago to see my best friend.  We also took a side trip to Wisconsin.  Travel post will be coming.

    It was great to see my friend.  We met at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, DC in 2006.  She was sitting in front of me on the bus ride back to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.

    We wouldn’t become close until later that year.

    We both pretty much have retired from politics but we usually try to see each other once or twice a year.

    It’s always great to see each other and catch up.

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    Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

2.  Lunch with “Uncle Greg”

On our return trip from Wisconsin, we stopped to visit a close friend of mine.  Greg was one of Bryon’s best friends and he has been so good to our daughter.  You can see his kindness demonstrated below as he gave the girls their own cheesehead hats.

(I don’t usually use people’s names but I can’t think of a proper blog name for Greg.  Though I am sure Bryon would have suggested a few inappropriate ones).

Pro-Tip when visiting Wisconsin: make sure you leave some space in your luggage because those cheesehead hats take up a lot of room.  Though I guess she could have worn it on the plane…

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“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We had an amazing lunch complete with Wisconsin cheese curds.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I also got to meet Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend.

I don’t give my stamp of approval to just anyone.  I am not Marshall Erickson.

But I am happy to say that Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend has my stamp of approval.  I can’t wait for him to bring her to Albany so everyone can meet her.

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3. Making it home in time for our favorite community helper’s birthday

We made it back in time on Monday for a special birthday.  Another one of Maddy’s “uncles”, who I refer to as “our favorite community helper”, was celebrating his birthday.  I took my daughter out for dinner and our favorite community helper and his fiancee (a.k.a. Carter’s parents) met up with us.  I didn’t get a picture with our favorite community helper, but here is a picture of my daughter being silly.  I was tired and probably not the best company, but these two are family to me and it was important to see our favorite community helper on his birthday.

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McGeary’s. 2018.

4.  A night at the museum

This week was the opening of Canstruction.  A good friend (I will call her “the architect”) has done this event for 8 years.  Canstruction collects cans and other non-perishable food and builds structures to raise money for food banks in the region.

I am so proud of my friend.

On Wednesday, there was a reception that I was lucky enough to attend.

The event took place at the New York State Museum on Empire Plaza.

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There was a taco bar.

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There was toasting with friends.

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My speech got a standing ovation.

We’ll just ignore the fact that Kimmy Gibbler was the only one listening…

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I didn’t get any carousel pics but we rode on it and it was awesome.

Here are a few pictures of some of the structures.

5.  Surviving

Two years ago yesterday was when my life completely fell apart.

I am still here.

I survived and I am grateful.

What are you grateful for this week?

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