Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Empire State of Mind

Twenty-four hours in NYC!  How does one cram it all in!??  Especially when it's your first time there as an adult!  Lucky for me, I had a crazy local tour guide, Caccese, who made it not only possible but fun as hell.  There's too much to even write about, after only a few hours of uncomfortable plane-sleep and a couple of NYC cocktails, it's all kind of a wonderful, brightly-lit whirlwind, so I'll let my pictures do the talking (in chronological order)...
I'm a Rockette!

from the top of the Empire State Building!

my first NYC street dog! (delish, tho stomach was a little grumbly afterwards...)
my first time hailing a cab!
Caccese's surprise for me - yes that IS the "Friends" apartment building!!
The site of the Twin Towers - still being rebuilt & far from done.
first NYC pizza - burned & scraped up the roof of my mouth!

drinks by the Brooklyn Bridge

yes, yes that is a bumper sticker he bought & stuck to his shirt.
next morning, watching the rain from a bagel shop, rescheduling my cancelled flight 
(the beginning of the travel day from hell)
my first NYC bagel

Central Park in the pouring rain.  We are drenched.

One crazy day in New York with a crazy Yankee.  It was freaking fantastic.  I heart NYC.

I am so grateful and happy for:
~ covering the whole island of Manhattan in one day, almost entirely by foot!
~ a funny, fun tour guide friend
~ lots of NYC firsts

xo! n.

Sunny days in Portland

Portland loooooves me.  It wants to have 10 million of my baaaaabies.

I only had ONE rainy day in the infamously rainy city of Portland, Oregon!  My other three days here were gorgeous and cool, sunny with a breeze, absolutely perfect.

I stayed with a friend of a friend, JM, who I'd only met once before, for literally 3 hours.  She was incredibly welcoming, treating me like an old friend, and by the time I left, I felt like we were old friends.

The first two days I wandered the city and surrounding neighborhoods on my own, popping into shops and getting a feel for the energy that inspires "keep Portland weird" bumper stickers.  I love the wide-porched brightly colored houses, screaming their own sunshine into the often dreary skies.

Everything here is so so green.  Lovely.  I wandered into a shop & thought, I think I could deal with the rain if I was shaded by such a beautiful canopy and had cute little rainboots like these...
 My very first day here, meandering through Powell's books (a mansion maze of a bookstore!  I could've spent hours in there!), and down city streets, I was struck by how friendly everyone was; obviously LA has dulled my expectations of human decency.  Sitting outside in the sun with a beer, a stranger saw me looking at a map and stopped to ask if I needed any directions and give me his favorite sights to see.  Later, sitting at an old cafe bar, Besaw's, having a coffee & a delicious "potato pie," every person who sat next to me struck up conversation.  I think it'd be easy to make friends here.  And speaking of coffee, I had the BEST coffee of my life, Stumptown Coffee (local!), with JM in a french press at Mother's Bistro.  Mmm...

(they had a funny little booth set up to take your picture with the store & your name on the marquee - I should put this on my vision board to imagine I'm a famous author doing a book signing there!)

On JM's day off, she took me over to Multnomah Falls, the third highest waterfall in the world.  It was breathtakingly serene and powerful, framed by the lush forest and bright blue sky.  We hiked to the top (actually the trail takes you above the top of the falls), on steep switchbacks, and my out-of-shape ass, not used to such elevated and angled trails, was winded by the middle, heart beating like to break through my sternum yelling, "save yourself!"  I felt so lame.  But we made it, me still clutching my coffee cup (dork), sweating despite the cool weather and cold spray, dizzied by the height and feeling like a part of something magnificent just by being there.

Then we drove under skies cozy under quilted clouds to a lookout point where you could see almost 360 degree views of the river and gorge.  It was gorge-ous.  Ha ha.  We stopped at the botanical gardens to smell the roses (I've been doing a lot of that lately, literally and figuratively), and then to Widmer Brewery (which JM found magically, magnetically, like a pro!) to sample some delicious beer and shriek - each revelation louder than the last! - at all our similarities.  We both loved Elijah Wood growing up (shriek!) because of Huck Finn (shriek!), were obsessed with Newsies (shriek! and a bit of not-so-quiet singing) and many, many other much less predictable parallels that confirmed us as soul sisters.  Drove back under the quiet gaze of Mt. Hood, changed, and somehow - we are rockstars! - nabbed a table by the window in the highest restaurant in Portland, overlooking the whole city.

The next day was her goodbye party (she's moving to LA!  Funny, huh?) at McMenamins Edgefield, which is one of the neatest places I've ever been.  It's an old poor farm turned mental institution turned hotel/spa/bar/restaurant/golf course/outdoor concert venue/gardens.  It was lovely and quirky with tiny little themed bars that pop up like garden gnomes as you wander the grounds.  I took a picture in Jerry Garcia's Icehouse for my brother, who follows jam bands.

cheers, Alex!

About 20 friends of JM's met up with us, and we had an animated lunch then a rowdy game of shuffle board (is that possible? yes.) and drinks before I had to catch my plane for the red-eye out of there to NYC.

It was a phenomenal trip.  Thanks, Portland (and so many heartfelt thanks to JM & her kitty Abby for putting up with me!) for showing me a lovely time.

I am so happy and grateful for:
~ beautiful weather
~ a dear new friend
~ exploration

xo!  n.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

19 hours in Boston

I've never thought much of Boston.  It always brought to mind baseball and snow, neither of which I'm really a superfan of.  So when I booked my jetBlue flights and saw that I had to fly through Boston to get from Denver to Portland, OR (I know, ridiculous - I'm at the Boston airport now preparing myself for a loooong day of travel including a three hour layover in NY), I didn't really consider staying longer than the overnight that was required.  I didn't think I'd care about seeing much in this city.  It proved me wrong.

My sweet friend S. met me at the T station, took me for dinner at a truly Italian restaurant, Giacomo's (where the waiter literally tapped me on the shoulder and said, "hey, which'a you got the ravioli?"), to her favorite place for the best cannoli I've ever had, then let me stay the night at her apartment.  All of this after I forgot to remind her I was coming & she only just happened to check Facebook after my plane had landed!  Today, before my flight out, I had a couple hours to wander the city, and I really discovered how much I like it.  I still may not be a fan of baseball or snow, but I'm now a big fan of Boston.  I'll be back.

Next stop:  Portland, Oregon!

Today I am so happy and grateful for:
~ kind, giving friends
~ deeeeelicious food
~ historic port cities (love 'em!)

xo! n.

Shenangigans & CO.

Denver did a pretty good job in woo-ing me, although I think it was more the work of my best friend and her husband than the city itself.  We enjoyed Colorado's perfect weather, blue skies and cool temperatures keeping us out in the yard or on a rooftop or roaming the mountain-ringed streets ducking in and out of shops.

Their friends rented a boat and we took it out to the middle of Lake Dillon, up by Breckinridge, which was gorgeous; a still blue lake surrounded by trees just starting to respond to Autumn.  Even the dead trees added to the riot of color in their own burnt purple scream.  It was sunny and windy and perfect.  Most of the people on the boat were doctors or spouses of doctors but, oddly, the only other single person was a guy who's moving to LA to be an actor.  I tried not to discourage him while still not lying to him...  After the boat, we had everyone back at the house for pizza and s'mores.  It was a wonderful day.

The day before I left, Denver scored major points by showing me where I'd live - a beautiful historic apartment just off a main, eclectic road full of shops and bars.  My BFF insisted on looking at rental prices (which wasn't a bad idea - they're much cheaper than LA!) and driving by; the apartment is just around the corner from a yoga studio and a theatre - good job, Denver!  Although looking forward to the next leg of my trip, I was sad to leave.

Mostly, though, I'm just going to miss my best friend.

Today I am so happy and grateful for:
~ s'mores
~ friendships that are stronger than there are words for
~ catching my BFF at the only moment this year she's actually available to hang out
~ this amazing opportunity to travel
~ puppy love

xo!  n.
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