Category Archives: Travel

{Travel Log} Nashville

Y’all. I just found a new favorite town to visit. I just spent four days in Nashville for a conference and despite spending much of that time in hotel meeting rooms avoiding stale pastries and drinking bad coffee, I loved Nashville. Perhaps it was the live music pouring out of every.single.bar and store (and in the airport and in the hotels), perhaps it was the number of cowboy boot stores, perhaps it was the Southern hospitality, or perhaps it was the surprisingly relaxed, anything-goes atmosphere. Most likely it was the prevalence of the use of the term y’all, a word I wish I could pull off, but I’m just too Yankee to use.  Oh, and the BBQ, and the hot chicken. For all these reasons, I can’t wait to go back to Nashville.

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Our trip was admittedly pretty touristy. Due to our conference responsibilities, we only had a few hours each night to explore and were tethered to the Downtown-Broadway area, but since that area included live country music every 5 feet, I was a happy girl. We spent our free time eating BBQ and hot chicken hopping from bar to bar listening to music. I’m in desperate need of veggies, but had my fill of amazing live music.

The Food

The food in this town was good, but there was no sticking to paleo here. The pimento cheese was calling my name from every direction and most things were fried or covered in a sugary BBQ sauce. But, I love a sugary BBQ sauce, just as much as I love country music, so really, if we’re honest, I was in my happy place and happy to indulge for a few days.

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When making plans to meet up with a friend the first night we were in town, she asked if we liked spicy food. I confirmed with my coworker who I was traveling with that she liked spicy, and her response was, “Yes, as long as it’s not hot chicken.” Apparently she had burned her face off eating hot chicken the last time she was in town. So, of course, my friend said we had to go to Hattie B’s and eat hot chicken. Hattie B’s is not the original purveyor of hot chicken (fried chicken slathered with a cayenne paste), but it’s up there in the rankings and it was delicious. We apparently got lucky because the line was not around the corner. I ordered the medium heat chicken leg because I actually wanted to be able to eat the chicken and it was still pretty dang spicy. They had three hotter heats about that and then I heard that Hattie B’s isn’t even the hottest. Holy crow! I can’t imagine. The chicken was super most, perfectly fried, with a delicious heat. Hattie B’s was a great intro our first night to Nashville!

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Travel Tip
Don’t always assume you should walk to your destination in Nashville
just because Google says you can. It gets pretty sketchy pretty quickly
when you get out of downtown. That’s all I’ll say.#imfinemom

All of the rest of my meals consisted of hot chicken, pulled pork, or ribs. The most notable meal was at The Southern. We’d foolishly tried to go out for dinner on a Friday night, downtown, without a reservation, and were running into 90+ minute waits everywhere where went. After trying four other places, by the time we got to The Southern we were starving and losing hope and they had a two hour wait. I put the skills I’d honed over years of stalking soon-to-be-freed lunch tables in ski lodges and after a few minutes, we had a seat at the bar. Without even trying, we ended up having the best meal of the trip. My coworker had their My Way pasta which was amazing. And I had their ribs, which were hands down, the best ribs of my life. They were perfectly fall-of-the-bone cooked and had a sweet and spicy sauce with a delicious crust. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t make it through the full rack and as I was walking home with my to-go box, a man on the street said he was hungry and asked for them. After years of being asked for money in NYC, in some weird and sad way, it was better to be asked for food and I was happy I had a least a little to give him. 

We wrapped up our dining experience by trying to find a place to eat near our hotel before we caught our plane home. We’d planned on going Puckett’s, which we’d stopped in to listen to music the night before and had smelled amazing, but they had an hour-plus wait (for lunch!?). Ugh! So we Yelped and found the Back Alley Diner, which told us not be afraid of a restaurant down a dark alley. Seems like the start to a horror film, right? We were able to walk right in and get a table. It was a little divey, diner that smelled of the booze that had been spilled the night before, but the food was decent and our waitress was on her game. We had (more) tasty pulled pork and then it turned out the kitchen made a mistake so our waitress kept trying to right our order and we ended up with enough food to feed an army. Ha! By the time we left, there was a wait out the door…what’s with Nashville and waits?!

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Travel Tip
Plan your dining and make reservations. Downtown Nashville has
become a hot destination and you will wait if you don’t plan ahead.

Live Music

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The live music was absolutely everywhere. We didn’t have enough time to get out to the Bluebird Cafe, so we stuck to Lower Broadway. We mostly just walked in and out of honkey tonks, but did make sure to hit up Robert’s Western World, which I’d read about on a few must-do lists AND the security guy at the Country Music Hall of Fame recommended it. They did, in fact, have great bands playing and their infamous fried bologna sandwiches were flying off the griddle. After expressing my weird love of beer koozies and at first not realizing you had to pay for them, I somehow ended up have two different people semi-accidentally steal the same one twice for me (it was taken back by the owner the first time) – it was a very odd experience, but, I got a cool koozie :).

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Travel Tip
Musicians earn at most $50 per four hour gig and
rely on tips, so always have cash with you.

We also stopped in at Bootleggers Inn, a place on 4th Ave just before Broadway that I can’t find on google maps, but that had a great outdoor space on the 2nd floor and live music on both floors, and Acme Feed and Seed, which I’d just seen the week before on American Pickers. We made the long hike to the 4th floor and had a great view of the Cumberland River.

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Travel Tip
Bands play shifts from 2-6pm, 6-10pm, and 10pm-2am. They usually take
30 minutes to set up after each shift ends. We kept walking into bars
right as shifts were ending – plan your arrival at bars accordingly!

Tourist Stops

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Our conference hosted a party at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which was closed down for the event #wefeltfancy. We had every intention of just grabbing a quick bite, walking through the museum, and then heading out on the town, but we totally got sucked in by the band and the line dancing. I am seriously a sucker for line dancing #alwayshavebeen

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We finally made it up to the museum with 20 minutes to look around and didn’t even make it to the third floor. Admittedly, my “old country” knowledge isn’t as good as my 80s-today knowledge, so the 2nd floor was actually most of the people I’m familiar with. We power-walked the Hall of Fame and said “Hi!” to the greats.

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You should know this about me: I am a HUGE Dixie Chicks fan. I wasn’t sure if they’d be included in the museum and I was so glad to see they were. As I stood there reading their exhibit, the amount of smack-talking I heard about them from passers-by buh-leww my mind! The best (read: most ignorant) was when someone said, “Oh yeah, they were great before they made themselves irrelevant for being anti-American.” Seriously?? It took all my willpower to keep my mouth shut. They’ll probably vote for Trump, though, who has said far worse things than the Dixie Chicks ever did, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, sorry about that. I got all fired up there. We had a great time at the Country Music Hall of Fame AND I line danced to Copperhead Row AND I didn’t start anything with Dixie Chicks haters #winning

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You all know my love of Fixer Upper by this point, but I also love American Pickers, so I had to be a total tourist and go to their Antique Archaeology store. #nerdalert #iknow We took a cab out to their store and were met with quite a line. That seems to be a theme in this town (or perhaps I need to get off the beaten path). In addition to seeing some cool antiques it was neat to see that they’d picked a run down part of town that is now starting to see some revitalization because their store is a tourist destination. Lots of little shops are popping up in the warehouses near by. There isn’t much food there yet, so don’t plan on eating while you’re out there. And, guess what?! There was live music there too 🙂 

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Most towns I visit for work are fine. I work Yelp to find some good food and might visit a historical site. Nashville, however, was awesome. It was so easy to find something to do and as lifelong lover country, I finally felt in like I was amongst my people, rather than the nerd who likes Trisha Yearwood and Brooks & Dunne. I also have never seen so many people walking around with guitars and other musical instruments and I loved that about this town. I can’t wait to go back and get off the beaten path a bit more!



{Travel Log} A Birthday Weekend in Steamboat Springs

🎤 🎤🎤 Duh duh dah dah da da dah … they say it’s your birthday.🎤 🎤🎤 That’s what I heard this morning when I woke up … in my head. I believe that stems from years spent at birthday parties held at the long-extinct party spot, Fort Ram. My Ft. Collins peeps know what I’m talking about. Today, I’m celebrating my birthday by sitting at a table at a graduate school fair, in Syracuse. I know. It’s not fair of me to make you so jealous. 

Anyway, I had an awesome trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado a few weeks ago and wanted to give you the report. Steamboat is a town I grew up in – we had a condo there and spent most weekends there in the winter, and many in the summer. So, this report is less about exploring a new city and more about skiing and shenanigans.

I started with trip off with a quick detour to Colorado Springs to see my dad and Maria. They recently (and by recently I mean sometime since I was there three years ago…don’t judge, I got married and that took all my vacation that summer, and last summer we were buying a house, so there were no extra trips…hmm, feeling bad??) replaced their windows and installed this amazing picture window in the guest bedroom which gives a spectacular view of Pikes Peak. How awesome is that?! I hung with my dad for a night and then headed up to Steamboat. I was cheap (and by cheap, I mean not willing to pay $500 for 4 days) and rented a regular car (not an SUV) and there’s a new law in Colorado requiring snow tires or 4 wheel drive in the mountains, but the rules are kind of unclear so I was crossing my fingers the whole drive I wouldn’t get busted. I didn’t get busted, but I did hold up a line of 40 cars as I inched my way down Rabbit Ears Pass in my inadequate vehicle.

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A group of family and friends planned to meet in Steamboat for my sister’s 30th birthday: my mom and sister, Lindsay (of El Paso fame) and her mom (Sue), and Carol. My mom, sister, and I arrived first and ran out to dinner at Mambo Italiano (a tricky choice when you’re paleo)  and had a great meal. We made Carolyn wear this button from the dollar store. They forgot to put a space between “to” and “me” so it ready tome and everyone was trying to figure out what it said…but we didn’t get any free drinks or birthday brownies out of the deal :(. As we left the restaurant, it was dumping snow and we knew there was a powder day ahead! 

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Lindsay and Sue showed up and we celebrated Lindsay’s engagement and Carolyn blew out the candles on the cake she bought herself. 

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The next day we hit slopes and had the powder day I’d been hoping for since I booked the ticket. It. Was. Awesome.

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TimTheFarmer and Nate surprised me with new goggles as an early present – love them! And, to make it super awesome, Carolyn taped the birthday crown to her helmet. People said Happy Birthday to her all day – it was the coolest thing. The cutest was when little kids would shout Happy Birthday. My faith in humanity was totally restored. 

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We ended the day with a birthday beverage at T Bar – an awesome dive bar our friends own and then headed to the Truffle Pig. They had bacon wrapped dates, so I was happy. They have totally redone the base of Steamboat mountain and I couldn’t believe I was having drinks in a fancy hotel restaurant where I used to get dropped off for ski school #weirdandsad. 

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Carol met up with us and as we headed back to the condo, we ran into this guy at the bus stop. We’d seen him skiing all and had an active debate about whether his snowsuit was a sweet throwback snowsuit or a recreation. We attacked  stopped him and found out it’s from a website called Tipsy Elves. The best part was that he and his buddy ended up behind me in line to board my Southwest Airlines flight in Denver the following Monday (not in the snowsuit…and he *shockingly* barely remembered taking this picture).

We celebrated Carolyn’s birthday (again) with a yummy dinner at home followed by a craft project by Jan Jan. We were tasked with decorating paper bags and then filling them with things that represented Carolyn #onceateacheralwaysateacher I can’t show you the bags here, because things had gone a bit downhill by that point in the night. But, I can assure you that they were hilarious.

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The next day was a bluebird powder day in the ‘Boat and my mom, Carol, and I headed out while the others went cross-country skiing. We entertained ourselves by taking pics and videos of ourselves skiing the steeps, powder, and bumps, and of ourselves in my mom’s goggles #nerdalert. 

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 Oh, and the Broncos jerseys were out in force. This guys was smoking (something) and there were giant puffs of smoke coming out of his horse hat. I overheard the little ski school kids say, “Look, the Bronco is on fire.” Way to keep it classy, buddy.

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We never miss the opportunity to make someone dress up, so I wasn’t surprised at all when we met up with the rest of the crew at the base for a concert and found Carolyn in the bar line rocking the Wonder Woman-birthday cape (and crown). 

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There was a fun band at the base and this guy danced his way through the crowd. He was very liberal with his stilt kicks. It’s good most people wear ski helmets these days.

On the way to a bus, this happened. How cute is that?!

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We ate a quick dinner and bundled up to watch the Winter Carnival Night Extravaganza, where they give local skiers—ranging in age from 5-old—flares and send them skiing/snowboarding in the dark, down the mountain in a “snake,” off ski jumps, through flaming hoops, and with fireworks coming off of sleds they pull behind them. It’s wild and hard to believe a city can get away with it in these litigious times. It really speaks to how embedded this tradition is in the culture of Steamboat. 

The next day, everyone left early to get back to the Front Range before the Super Bowl. I hit the mountain for a few more hours of skiing and then drove down and arrived just as the game was starting and got big hugs from these two. It was such a fun weekend celebrating a big birthday with family and friends. I LOVE Steamboat!IMG_4664 



{Friday Favorites} It’s You Who Put You Here

Hey guys. It’s Friday. You know what that means? In 5 more days I’ll get a day off, wahoo! And, it means a trip to Costco, which will include buying 8 lbs of Kerry Gold butter and 6 lbs of uncured bacon to get us through the month #allthefat. With that vision in your minds, let’s get to right to what I was loving this week.

1. Undisclosed/Serial


Where are my Serial junkies out there?! If you didn’t listen to the first season of Serial, do it now. Then, listen to UndisclosedUndisclosed is a little hard to get through as it’s super dense and full of a lot of legal technicalities and I admittedly zoned out during at least 30% of it, but it’s still super interesting, and convincing, and scary. The last couple weeks have been cool because Adnan Syed’s post-conviction relief hearing took place and was covered by both podcasts. It was really interesting to hear the pro-Adnan camp cover the hearing and Sarah Koenig cover it with her “unbiased” journalist approach (unbiased is in quotes because I’m not sure she is). I’ll say I find Susan Simpson a bit glib which I don’t think does Adnan any favors and I also find Sarah Koenig a bit of a wet noodle (commit already), but still, I really appreciated the chance to compare the two versions of the hearing, rather than only hearing from one party, and I’m still convinced of his innocence. #freeadnan

2. Water bottle

I’m Katie and I have a water bottle addiction. It started in 3rd grade when I would freeze a plastic bottle full (but not all the way full) of water overnight and take it to class with me the next day. Not to toot my own horn, but I was an early adopter of Nalgenes in the late 90s and to this day, have a water bottle with me everywhere I go (and probably a good build up of BPA). I’m always trying to find the perfect water bottle – I pick up free ones at conferences and try all the different kinds I find (on sale). I really wanted to like Liberty bottles because they have a social responsibility component, but they leak and dent. I’ve developed a preference for bottles with straws, but learned the hard way, that most of them leak when air pressure or air temperature changes. I’ve had an entire bottle slowly leak all over my carry-on on the airplane because of the pressure change … ackkk! My sister swears by Contigo bottles and promised me they wouldn’t leak, so I picked one up before I went to Colorado and gave it a try. And, it rocked!! It didn’t leak and it turned out to have a handy clip so I could hang it from the seat pocket. After years of searching for the perfect, non-leaking, straw water bottle, I may have found it. I know…nerd alert! Can you really believe I just devoted 200 words to a water bottle??IMG_4561

3. Taylor Swift

I was horrified last week when Kanye West’s song came out about Taylor Swift – the continued misogyny and narcissism in his music grosses me out more than most other musicians and the arrogance associated with claiming he made Taylor Swift famous is absurd. I was never a T Swift fan during her country days because her voice grates on me, but her new album is ok with me, since it’s so engineered that her voice isn’t front and center. #thecritichasspoken Anyway, all this is to say, I’m not a fan of either of these two, but I LOVED Taylor Swift’s Grammy Speech. Despite her pitchy voice (in my expert opinion), she continues to be one of the better celebrity role models for young girls (even with her thigh gap) and I am stoked that she called Kanye out.

4. Uggs

So, I never thought I would own Uggs. After the Britney Spears-fueled obsession of the mid-2000s, I wanted nothing to do with them. But…I’d seen this pair on a friend and they didn’t really look like Uggs, they looked like sweaters on your feet. This was in 2010. It took another 6 years (10-15 years post Britney) for me for me to seriously consider them. I saw they were on sale recently (because we never pay full price), so my mom got them for me as an early birthday gift. Now, I get it. They are so comfortable and cozy and this pair, that can be tall or short, are totally like sweaters for your feet/legs. It’s taking all my willpower not to wear them to work.  Orrrrrrr…since I wrote the dress code, perhaps I should rewrite it??

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5. Homes with views

I was lucky enough to grow up in two homes with amazing views in Colorado. Check these out. This is my dad and stepmom’s house with a stunning view of Pikes Peak – from my bed (evening light and morning light).

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This is from my mom and stepdad’s deck overlooking a frigid Horsetooth Reservoir.

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And now, we have a view of our own. It’s not the open view I’m used to in Colorado, but every night we get amazing sunsets through the trees. Love!IMG_4466

Have a great weekend everyone!!