Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Life Lessons from London

Posted: December 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Thanksgiving had me catching the traveling bug and jaunting off to London for a quickie 3-day trip. While there was no time to bring back any souvenirs, I did bring back some observations from across the pond.

Oh, London, where the squirrels are trained to attack tourists and Jack the Ripper is alive and well.


Buckingham Palace Ain’t that Impressive

More resembling a museum than a regal residence, the London residence of the queen is “meh.” No disrespect. It’s just…a square palace with some gold gates and some strapping dudes staring stealthily. I expected more. I guess take the five minutes to see it to say you saw it and then go drinkin’ at some pubs.




You Will get Harassed on Brick Lane but the End Result is Worth it

The harassment isn’t all that bad. Actually, it’s harassment to come and eat delicious, delicious Indian food so who can get mad about that? Ok, I’ll admit it did get a little tedious turning down every person who hopped out of the shadows to try and convince you to come eat their palak paneer (and that is not a euphemism) but we survived and eventually found an amazing place called Sheba where the naan flowed like water and the curries curled your toes.


Don’t attempt to shop on Sloane Street

Unless you’re prepared to give your left nut, firstborn or a healthy dose of cash for a $3000 suit or evening gown, don’t even set foot on Sloane Street.


Near Harrod’s, this fancy schmancy row of shops shames us paupers. From Jimmy Choo to Chanel to Valentino it’s a shopping destination for rich folks from across the globe. Me and my Target shoes wouldn’t be appreciated. But I have no problem with that.


 The Underground Doubles as a Confession Booth

The Underground is London’s transportation system, and while at first a tad confusing to navigate, it makes getting around a breeze. However, with tons of people spending tons of time getting from place to place it becomes very intimate, very fast. People brazenly eat smelly foods, silently cropdust and have awkward conversations that should be held in the privacy of their own home while sitting thigh to thigh next to you.


How I look on public transport


 When public transportation doubles as a confession booth it may be a good idea to bring in a priest.


Complimentary Hotel Breakfast Buffets are on Steroids

When you imagine a complimentary hotel breakfast buffet in the states, maybe you picture a sectioned off piece of lobby with mini cereals, yogurts and cold pastries. One where you hurry down in footie pajamas amid businessmen in suits to snatch what you can before dashing back up to the room to gorge yourself.

Eat up, peasants

Eat up, peasants

However, in London breakfast buffets are a majestic and delicious experience. White table cloths and china. Servers and hostesses. Hot foods and NUTELLA.


Hear the angels sing

Hear the angels sing

WTF, America? You’ve been doing this all wrong.


London Bridge Has Deceived You

Yeah, that iconic sight you picture when you sing “London Bridge is falling down” is NOT London Bridge. It’s Tower Bridge.


THIS dull thing is London Bridge.

Wait, what?

Wait, what?

I know I just rocked your world but the news couldn’t be helped.

The city of Portland would be proud. When I visited last month I did not make one “Portlandia” joke. How’s that for restraint?

Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed the weather and the alcohol.

And the No-Dog-Pooping signs.

And the No-Dog-Pooping signs.

In Portland, I realized that I had forgotten the way an old city feels. Portland has an East coast, old highways, and salty air kind of vibe, which isn’t felt in the southwest. And with its buzz of neon signs and wet water in the air, there was something nostalgic about the city and its atmosphere.

And now on to a perfect Portland 2-itinerary. The stops to brake for and the food to devour.



Check into a room with a hipster vibe. The Ace Hotel in downtown Portland full-throttle hums with tourists and locals. With a lounge, a photo booth, upstairs mezzanine with work space, coffee shop and bar and restaurant, The Ace is ace. Seriously, though. It’s probably one of the best boutique hotels I’ve stayed at. Everything is unique and quirky, and the little touches they do truly make the experience.

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Portland is a city where you wait in line – sometimes minutes, sometimes hours – for food. But it’s worth it. I’ll tell ya that.

Do get a caffeinated buzz on at Heart Coffee and Stumptown Roasters. Do buy $20 bags of coffee and feel like a pauper afterwards.


Do toss money at Voodoo Donuts. It’s worth visiting for the tagline. A helpful tip to make the line wait easier – have lunch and a few glasses of rose at Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, then stumble on over to make conversation and giggle at the Cock and Balls Donut.

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Don’t pass up the chicken and biscuits at Clyde Common. Mind. Blowing. One of the best brunch spots in town.

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Do be fatties at Ox. I tried sweetbreads and it wasn’t the worst thing to happen to me.

Don’t be afraid of the lines at Pok Pok and Salt & Straw on SE Division Street. The calories are worth it. Be sure to try the Olive Oil ice cream at Salt and Straw.



Don’t try to make conversation with the bartenders at Kask. They will scowl and not be amused. Do however order one of their specialty cocktails. Just keep your mouth shut, son, and drink.


Do put on your reading glasses at the Multnomah Whiskey Library. You’ll need ‘em for the Whiskey Bible. SERIOUSLY. ARE YOU LISTENING, MORTALS? This place is amazing. Be prepared for a wait but it will all be worth it once you have that glass (or glasses) of sweet, sweet nectar in your hands. You will probably make the best-worst decisions after a night at this bar.

Do you hear the sound of angels singing?

Do you hear the sound of angels singing?


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Do smell the roses at the International Rose Garden Test Garden. With so many colors and different varieties of roses, it’s definitely a bad place to be for a person with ADD.

This guy just deserved jazz hands.

This guy just deserved jazz hands.



Do head to Portland Saturday Market. Exclaim obscenities at the $10 flower bouquets that would normally cost $80 elsewhere. Don’t buy inappropriate aprons and bow ties for cats, even though I know you really want to.

$10 bucks for this. WTF?

$10 bucks for this. WTF?

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DO NOT miss Powell’s Books. The epitome of a bookstore, this place is really, really, ridiculously good looking and a book-lover’s wet dream.

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Do explore and shop the Pearl District.

Do stop by Hoodoo Antiques and take in the threatening graffiti and quirky artifacts.


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Aaaaand there you go. If you ever head to Portland, your two-day itinerary is planned.   Just be prepared to gain 10 pounds. You’re welcome.

Note: Listen to Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings by Father John Misty while reading this blog to get you in the mood…for murder…

[cue evil laughing]

Memorial Day weekend I hopped a plane and flew to California to visit my cousin. Luckily, in her, I have a freakish spirit animal that enjoys the same type of macabre fascinations as I do.

While relaxing by the pool, chilling at the beach, or taking in an art museum is what some normal people do, I’d much rather have my vacation involve the weird. Take me to a new place and I’ll instantly ask to be pointed in the direction of the nearest graveyard. Or wine bar. And hell, if those two ever combine then I’ll be in heaven.

Our dark day in LA consisted of three things that I most heartily (and gruesomely) recommend…


American Horror Story House



First, a pit stop at the locale of the American Horror Story house – the Rosenheim mansion. It’s a weird scene; a beautiful mansion set in the middle of a random street of normal-ish houses. Sadly, the mansion seems to have fallen into a state of dilapidated disrepair. The backyard was covered in weeds, while in the front it was apparent the owners have had all they can take of gawkers, because numerous signs warning against stepping foot on property dotted the front yard as well as a flock of foreboding ravens. I kept expecting to see a face staring down at us from one of the upstairs windows before we bolted for the safety of the car.

 Find the Alfred Rosenheim Mansion at 1120 Westchester Place, Los Angeles CA


Dearly Departed Tours – Tragical History Tour

Founded by Scott Michaels, this tour is THE tour for morbid curiosity seekers everywhere. Seriously. If you’re in LA and like this kind of weird, dark Hollywood history, book this tour STAT. While numerous tours are offered (Ahem, Manson, anyone?), we booked the Dearly Departed Tragical History Tour.

The Dearly Departed Tours office on Sunset Boulevard was a museum in its own right. Celebrity death memorabilia line the walls and the floors. Jayne Mansfield’s pink suitcase, a signed Sharon Tate autopsy report, a letter from John Wayne Gacy, door pulls from Room 105 of the Landmark Hotel where Janis Joplin died.

Our senses were overstimulated, and after craning and nearly climbing on top of a desk to get a better look at the John Wayne Gacy letter we were stopped by a man. Instead of getting a lecture about keeping my slovenly body off the furniture, the man instantly launched into the story behind the letter, keeping the cousin and I in rapt attention for about fifteen minutes.

After purchasing a souvenir Hotel key chain, we climbed aboard the tour bus and the cousin and I were instantly elated to learn that the man we had been speaking with about the Gacy letter was our tour guide.

He announced to the small group, “I would kill a small child for a Yuengling right now.”

And with this quote so began our tour on Dearly Departed Tours with Brian Donnelly.

Donnelly, an amazing, energetic tour guide, can navigate the city like a pro and show us about 150 sights in two and a half hours. He had a mic and an opinion and like he said on the tour, it’s the perfect combination for someone with ADD. He knew his Hollywood history, was proud to live in LA and didn’t skimp on the gory details.


Some sights/discussions included: Rebecca Schaeffer’s apartment, Storybook Homes, Scientology Celebrity Center, Lana Turner scandal, The Viper Room, Bela Lugosi, Black Dahlia rumored murder house, Knickerbocker, Beverly Hills homes, Whisky a Go Go, Bugsy Siegel’s murder house, Château Marmont, the Menendez Brother’s family mansion, the spots where Janis Joplin and Sharon Tate ate their last meals (Barney’s Beanery and El Coyote respectively)…and a shit ton more.

I’ll stop here since it can’t even sum up the awesomeness of this tour. All I can say and all I can do is pimp it out. If you’re ever in LA, take three hours and make this a priority.

Dearly Departed Tours haunts 6603 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA


Museum of Death
 PicMonkey Collagemod

When all you want to see is genuine serial killer letters from Richard Ramirez The Night Stalker and artwork by John Wayne Gacy look no further than the Museum of Death. The last stop on our frightful escapade.

Nestled in a  nondescript location on Hollywood Boulevard, the Museum of Death lures in the curious, crazed and unassuming. Sadly, photographs were not allowed and I resisted the urge to snap secretive stills. This museum is not for the faint of heart. I asked the front desk clerk about the pass-out quota and he said that they probably give smelling salts to someone about once a week.

The cousin and I have cold hearts and iron-stomachs as we braved the close confines of the small museum, only once getting slightly woozy as we took the self-guided tour.

Divided up into sections, each room is dedicated to a morbid curiosity or real-life tragedy. We feasted eyes on the Serial Killer Room, the Manson Murder room, the Black Dahlia Murder room, Heaven’s Gate recreation, Execution room, Mortician and Autopsy Instrument room (this is where our knees almost buckled), Taxidermy Room, Cult Room, Suicide Room, and more…

One section titled “Heads and Tales” involves a murderous methhead couple that’s an I-CAN’T-EVEN experience probably no one should have, but the cousin and I gawked in horror at the ghastly photos lining the wall and braced ourselves for the night terrors to come.

Leaving, we lingered in the gift shop, where Charles Manson’s vinyl recordings were being sold, and as we walked outside into the bright sunlight, pondered just how chillingly intimate we had just gotten with the gruesome side of death.

The Museum of Death rests-in-peace at 6031 Hollywood Boulevard, CA


I can attest to the south. I can raise a hand and fall to my knees. I can count the Cracker Barrels and the Chick-Fil-A’s and the Waffle Houses by the dozen.  I can pass the churches with just a little bit of guilt. Hell, I lived in Kentucky for two years and the south is an experience you should have at least once in your life. The people, kind and awesome souls. The food, fattening and deliciously fried. The dialect, slow and composed. Sometimes so slow in fact, I’d often listen to someone speaking to me and wish I had a remote control to speed ‘em on up.

And after visiting Nashville, TN to bring in the 2014 New Year, I miss the south. If I moved again, I would tell you true, I’d make Nashville my next home.

There’s something about it. Something that isn’t anywhere else – and believe me I’ve traveled like a sonofabitch so I know my states. Though I can do without the new fangled hipsterness of Nashville and I would never be brave enough to venture karaoke in a city where probably 50% are aspiring singers with a better warble than I, I do adore the laid back charm and southern drawl and music in every  single place you stop. Even the airport bars had a lounge crooner.

Nashville turns you devoted.  It makes you loyal. It makes you dear. It makes you ogle the fry cook with a blazingly sweet pompadour on Broadway. It makes you buy three CDs from local musicians. It makes you beatific on Honky Tonk row with a PBR in your hand.

In fact, Nashville is extra special to me because a part of my maybe-it’s-a-future-book? takes place in Nashville, so anything I did was looked at as an opportunity for literary research.

Yes. Eating an ice cream sandwich counts as research.

Yes. Eating an ice cream sandwich counts as research.

So what does a Nashville Itinerary consist of? Music, drinking and face meets floor.

Day One – The King’s in the (City) House

A three hour drive to Memphis from Nashville ain’t no thang, especially where the King of Rock and Roll’s concerned. Graceland has been on my bucket list for probably more than 15 years (ever since I found his records in my grandmother’s basement), so using the excuse of when-are-we-ever-going-to-be-near-Memphis-again? I dragged my husband along.

Graceland was not what I expected. And not in the bad way. I expected a HUGE mansion; instead I got a gorgeous, quaint house with rooms decked out in all their 60s/70s beauty. Touring where Elvis used to live and seeing the amount of gold records he racked up was amazing. You truly get a glimpse of the King’s professional and personal world. When we made it to Elvis’s grave, I slipped on sunglasses. I couldn’t help tearing up.


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Though Graceland is uber-touristy and slightly tacky, as we passed through the crowd I couldn’t help but hope that the 13-year-old kid whose parents had dragged him/her along developed an appreciation for the King. If Graceland can convert one kid a day from listening to Kesha (I refuse to use the “$” sign) to the King then life is pretty fucking beautiful.

After three more hours in the car, a quick pit stop at the hotel, we headed into East Nashville – Germantown – to have dinner at City House.

Rustic, brick, hipster is what City House is. It feels like you’re eating in a very well decorated warehouse. Concrete and brick walls, metal chairs, loft-like stairs, urban atmosphere, a menagerie of decorative pigs dotting the walls.


Known for their pizzas and fried chicken, the menu had surprisingly interesting dishes like head cheese and scrapple and Tripp ham. Mmmmm, ham.

Usually I’m the adventurous sort when it comes to putting things in my mouth but the waiter did have to talk me and the Husband into ordering head cheese lettuce wraps mixed with pimento cheese. The rest of the menu was rounded out with pizzas that were unique creations topped with Kale, Catfish, Chard, random and odd combinations on a crackling crust.

The best part of the meal came at the end. It was gloooorious. No, it wasn’t stuffing my face with the best ice cream sandwich I’ve ever had in my life; it was the gentleman to my left politely tapping my arm and offering up his table’s uneaten appetizer they couldn’t finish.


Where else would this happen anywhere but the south?

Well played, Nashville. Well played.

Day Two – Coffee, Beer and Whiskey

Up, early morning.

Pleasedeargod if you ever go to Nashville hit up Barista Parlor. A magical coffee shop in East Nashville that now sits where a mechanic shop used live is vintage and modern cool all at once, with coffee brewers that looked like they came straight out of a laboratory, taxidermy on the walls, record player in the corner and garage doors that open out onto a stage, Barista Parlor would need to look hard to find competition.





Look at this menu. LOOK AT IT.

Look at this menu. LOOK AT IT.

Order the sausage biscuit and one of the gourmet coffees. With selections like Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Four Barrel, you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to jumpstart your morning.

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To while away the afternoon, head over to Antique Archaeology in Marathon Village. Featured on the History Channel, this shop has odd and historical wares that are too expensive to purchase but sure make for fun browsing and conversation.

Look ma, an old-timey sign.

Look ma, an old-timey sign.

After checking out The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor and Grimey’s Pre-Loved Music Record Store, we braved traffic and made our way to the Sheraton to claim our spot in downtown Nashville.

Next stop, Honky Tonk row. A street of fine and rascally drinking establishments and shops on Broadway. The bars lining the back alley of the Ryman Theater are the best and all have classic histories and star sightings, not to mention delicious, delicious PBR and live music. Hit up Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, Second Fiddle, The Stage, and Robert’s Western World.  I’m pleased to say I hit up all five of them in about 24 hours.

Making dad proud.

Making dad proud.

8pm, dinner that night was at the white-table clothed (la di da) Merchants, a restaurant on Broadway, right across from the boozing bars.

Merchants serves locally sourced produce and meats. A simple menu with familiar dishes that have interesting twists (Scallion hoecakes, anyone?) the dinner at Merchants was very good but not the highlight of the trip by any means.

From there, 10pm, we hit up the Station Inn.


BY GOD GO TO HERE. A small space, twelve bucks a head, drink PBR on card tables and sit on non-matching folding chairs. It is an insanely amazing time. The husband and I got a table right in front of the stage. No matter where you sit the venue is so intimate, you feel like you’re getting your own personal show. That night we saw Robert Cordle and a better time could not have been had.


Midnight, we go dancing at Legends Corner and drink whiskey sours while watching the confused country singer on stage try to sing Weezer for a $100 tip before heading back to the hotel at three AM.





Day Three – The Mother Church

Sleep in until ten. We’re beat. Too lazy and bleary-eyed I order a $15 pot of coffee. I move slow. That is until we have a Ryman Auditorium tour at noon.


This tour is a must. Hearing the history, learning about original bluegrass singers who played there is a testament to Nashville and country roots.  Tour this gem. Educate yourself about Ray Acuff. Drool over the Hatch prints.


From there we headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame. And…


In the right mindset this could have been fun. But I was tired. My feet hurt. I was probably biased BUT…there were too many people and it was hot and it was crowded. I get that it’s a Hall of Fame but there were just teeny tiny snippets of information that didn’t really do anything for me.

From there it was a drink, a nap at the hotel, a quick dinner, pregame with Buffalo Trace, and then onto the Ryman. The main reason for this New Year’s Eve trip to Nashville — Old Crow Medicine Show and Parker Millsap at the Ryman.

Seeing a show at the Ryman is a must. Add it to your Bucket List, STAT.

You have not heard music until you have been at the Ryman. You have not felt throbbing until you experience the floors hum and pulsate with the stompage of fellow music lovers. It sings through your soul and vibrates your bones.  It is an experience every music and concert lover should have in their life and pays a true homage to those who stand on its stage.

Parker Millsap and his crew killed with their opening act, the majority of songs coming from their new album debuting in February.

Old Crow put on a righteous performance. Clad in tuxedos and ties, they played a two and a half hour set like goddamn champs. They had their timing down, sang the classics and we rang in the New Year with bells and whistles and a whole bunch of beautiful balloons.


Someone handed me a noisemaker that had my husband looking instantly regretful.

Oh, the regret.

Oh, the regret.

After the concert, Broadway in all of its crazy glory was a sight to behold.


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The line for a taxi was probably a half mile long; people were starting fights in the back of the bars and hot dog vendors were slinging wieners and raking in the dough. I bought chicken and grits from a food truck and posed on the Ryman’s steps.

My chaos is riveting.

My chaos is riveting.

While I have come away with the knowledge that I will never debut my karaoke skills in Nashville, Nashville isn’t just the south; it is a well-oiled city that knows their food, has beautiful scenery and brims with music. So work on your manners, develop an affinity for whiskey, and practice your white-trash-debutante curtsy because Nashville is a trip that must be had.

Hell, it made an honest woman out of me.

A behind-the-scenes photo of my Nashville pose and attire.

A behind-the-scenes photo of my Nashville pose and attire.

If you travel and you don’t make a mix CD/playlist with the song of the place you’re going to, you’re dead to me.

A few weekends ago, the husband and I set off to wonderful Telluride, CO. Of course, the first song on my mixed CD was Tim McGraw’s Telluride.

Hello, 2001

Hello, 2001

After a quick pit stop at the Easy Rider gas station…(woot!)…we headed into CO.

All that's missing is the LSD.

All that’s missing is the LSD.

In every state I travel, there’s always a different vibe. You can feel it hanging in the air. I had been to Denver before but driving through Colorado, the small towns, the mountains, there was a very striking “you’re on your own” quality to it.  Get lost in the wilderness and let a bear eat your face kinda vibe.

It made me miss Montana.

The adorable town was similar to a Montana fave of mine – Red Lodge. Quaint, everything within walking distance, a main street with overpriced and indulgent shops.

We went during the off-season but that was peachy keen because the lines weren’t long and the streets weren’t crowded. Telluride was seriously a dream. No worries, no cares, hey screw email! and yay! let’s drink!

This blog post could be a million miles long but for the sake of your sanity I’ll try to narrow down the trip. I’ll leave out the part about kidnapping a hitchhiker, so you’re welcome.  Although, is it really kidnapping if he stole my mescaline?

The Basics:


Viking Lodge – condos and relaxation. Walking distance to everything and the slopes. Great service and amenities. Can’t go wrong. So don’t.



All of the food was hands-down amazing in Telluride. There was no shitty bar food that gave you gas and cramps. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Just good food, tasty Colorado brews and serious cooks.

Brown Dog Pizza – drink Dirty Hippie Beer and order the award-winning 3-1-3 Specialty Detroit Square Pizza. Take photos of a man who reminds me of one of my story characters at the bar. (sorry to the husband)

Floradora Saloon – four star cuisine in a dark bar. Duck tacos. Baked Brie and Apples. Gourmet Burgers.

Baked – go eat donuts every morning and gain five pounds. It’s worth it.



Telluride Sports – one of the best sport shops there – although a bit pricey – the items they have are unique and very furry.

Telluride Music Company – I bought a harmonica.

Overland – a leather and fur shop with steampunk and aviator hats. Fun to browse and try the merchandise.

PicMonkey Collagestores

The Signs:

As prior posts tell you, I love signs. They’re so much fun. Story ideas. Insights. Neuroses. Honesty scrawled on walls. Stuck with stickers. They can lead the way. Not everything prophetic, but still. Telluride was filled with goodies.

On the literal front, some of my favorites consist of:

When it rhymes, you know you're in for a good time.

When it rhymes, you know you’re in for a good time.

Clearly, the condo was expecting me.

Clearly, the condo was expecting me.

Douchebag check #1.

Douchebag check #1.

Douchebag check #2.

Douchebag check #2.

A Telluride shop was awesome enough to put this at their registers.

A Telluride shop was awesome enough to put this at their registers.


Beautiful sticker graffiti.

Beautiful sticker graffiti.

Like my vagina.

Like my vagina.

A toilet stall scrawl.

A toilet stall scrawl.

Best. Sign. Ever.

Best. Sign. Ever.


Love this.

Love this.

And this.

And this.

The People:
Story #1

I don’t talk a lot. But on vacations I’m a little bit less like Patrick Bateman and instead turn into a veritable Elle Woods – minus everything annoying about her.

P.S. I seriously hate myself for that reference.

Kismet is a strange bitch. This particular Sunday (Nov 10, 2013, to be exact) was filled with so much “coincidence” it was scary.

To set the stage – I’m at a bar (odd, right?) with a book, ignoring the football game and listening to these two men’s conversations. And I’m eavesdropping because 1) I’m a writer 2) I love their accents and I reckon they’re from Tennessee.

How I watch football

How I watch football

One catches me ogling (I’m real sly) and tells me I can laugh at his accent. He’s getting used to people laughing at his drawl.

Feeling like a dipshit, I say I’m just listening because I love his accent and the current book I’m writing is set in TN and I was wondering if he’s from there. Smooth, Jules, smooth.

The man – Terry – is kind. He’s got a smile that makes me want to buy him a beer.  Genteel manners. He asks my husband if it’s okay with him that we’re chatting. Asks if he can buy ME a beer. Southern charm can kill me now.

So we strike up a conversation. He’s on the road to visit all the sites on his bucket list, having had a heart attack about six months ago. He was on his way to see the Grand Canyon, got turned around, flipped a coin on where to go, and randomly ended up in Telluride. Traveling by van and meeting new friends along the way, he’s been posting his story on Facebook.  I ask if I can follow him and his trip and this leads to phones being whipped out.

When I find him on Facebook, I see we have mutual friends.  A bit mystified, I scroll closer.

Um, what?

Our mutual friends are my ex-neighbor’s (“ex” as in because they moved away, not “ex” as in because they are severing-ties assholes) who just recently moved to Salt Lake City. He met them a day ago at Arches in Utah.  They had dinner together. That very same day, my husband and I had been considering going to Arches but decided to postpone.

Needless to say, small what-the-fuck world.

It was kinda surreal. Here, Terry had somehow stumbled into Telluride. My husband and I chose a bar we probably wouldn’t have chosen if the other bars weren’t so crowded.

We invited Terry to dinner. Shared stories and drank beers. Though I hung out with Terry for maybe eight hours total and had never met him before in my life – I love him so hard. There’s something incredibly special about him and I feel so, so honored to have spent the time I did with him. It also makes you think about – and believe in – fate. A whole hell of a lot.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

Meanwhile…that same night…

Story #2

At that very same bar I met another man with a sweet fedora. A cool cat, we chatted about motorcycles, writing, art, books and a variety of other random topics. Come to find out he’s a DJ at the local radio station KOTO on Sunday nights.  He invites the husband and I to come down and hang during his 9pm – midnight shift.

And so after dinner with Terry we grab a bottle of wine and a bottle of whiskey and head to the station.


Praise jebus.

Praise jebus.

Glorious CDs everywhere. A small space and music. He tells us to start picking tunes and it’s like a shrimpfest going on in there. Sensory overload of awesome. I’m hanging with a Telluride DJ, drinking wine out of a coffee cup, and helping choose the music that is going on the radio.

Exhibit B.

Exhibit B.

For three hours, this is my life. FUUUUUCK YES. Writer’s gold. How many people can say they wrangled their way onto a radio station in a strange town?

I ask him to show me how he works the controls – for future story knowledge – and select The Velvet Underground as my first song.

Cut to later at night when I realize I have a CD from Parker Millsap in the car. Mister Millsap is a singer/songwriter from Oklahoma who I interviewed about a month ago (interview to be published in December). I goddamn adore his music and what better way to spread it than on the radio? Hey, I’m a pimp, okay?

So I slip into my husky voice and the DJ puts on the tune and I introduce the song. Boom! Parker Millsap blowing your minds out in Telluride.

You can watch the clip of me introducing the song and trying to be suave afterwards. Please note, it’s my first time ever on the radio. It’s not my forte to speak off the cuff. I’m proud I didn’t gag like Sweet Dee on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


Instead I just got all giggly and silly. So enjoy the herp derp moments.

*If you’re reading this blog while you’re drinking some sort of alcoholic beverage, take a sip every time there’s a Point Break reference.


Take drink #1, bitches.

Take drink #1, bitches.


So it comes as no surprise that I am no fan of manual labor. In fact, it is uncharacteristic of me to participate in aerobic exercise or any sort of fast movement. Really, just roll me to the fridge in my desk chair.

However, last weekend I branched out. While in glorious San Diego, CA I took a surfing lesson. The FBI didn’t pay me to. I’ve always wanted to surf. Maybe it’s because of Annette Funicello or seeing Point Break too many times; either way, I decided to do it.


Just as long as Keanu Reeves wasn't there.

Just as long as Keanu Reeves wasn’t there.


I wasn’t nervous about sharks or not being able to master the wave. The most nerve-wracking thing about the whole ordeal was trying to put on a wet suit.

After much wiggling and frantic hopping, I was suited up. I was assigned a surf instructor who had a very non-surfer name: Carl. However, Carl did have the typical surf body and all was quickly forgiven.


See these lines? SEE THEM?

See these lines? SEE THEM?


At first Carl seemed all business as we practiced on dry land.


Carl:  “Surfing is just like riding a skateboard…”

Me: “Never done it.”

Carl: “Okay, well, what about a scooter?”

Me: “Nope.”

Carl: “Boogieboarding?”

Me:  “Negative.”

Carl: “…”

Me: “Dude, I’m 30. I’m not expecting much.”

Carl: “Let’s just get back to business.”


Man, I couldn’t even crack a smile.

[Side note: The most disheartening thing in life is when I can’t make you laugh. If I can’t make you laugh then I consider myself unsuccessful. Either that or you’re a robot, ROBOT.]


After semi-mastering moving my limbs into positions long lost on me we ventured into the ocean.

I didn’t stand up right away. But I did work on Carl. Carl began to warm up as I successfully managed to toss in a few Point Break references that earned me a smile. Imagine me saying, “God forbid I surf like Keanu Reeves!” and then tossing my head back to give a throaty laugh while running a hand through my snarled curls.


In time, Carl he became pretty chatty. He chuckled. Made a few quips of his own. I was pleased.


Mr. Burns Pleased.

Mr. Burns Pleased.


Jokes aside, I practiced my surf skill, appalled and not pleased as seven-year-olds hopped on their boards and stood with ease. I’ll admit it. I was jealous. Oh, to have the lightness and spunk of a child.


I gave them the finger behind their backs.

I gave them the finger behind their backs.


My very first try I fell off the board and jammed my arm on the bottom of the ocean floor. It tweaked my elbow but I pushed through. I must have operated on sheer adrenaline because for the entire session it didn’t hurt. I pressed up, slid my knees and stood. And fell. And repeat.

I held my arms up too high (thanks, Hollywood), I didn’t keep my eyes on the beach, I kept glancing back at my instructor for approval. I wasn’t too frustrated though. I didn’t have high hopes for myself. I knew I wouldn’t be a regular Johnny Utah but was still psyched to be out in the waves and trying something new.

And yet, through all this, the mistakes, the seaweed, the salty water in my mouth, idiot kids screaming “Shark!, I eventually did it.


This counts as standing.

This counts as standing.


As the session wound down, so did my upper body strength. My god, I worked muscles I didn’t know I had. I could barely press myself up on the last few waves.  When we wrapped up, the trek to shore was a sweet relief.

Surfing is a sport/hobby I’ll do again. You pay for it the next day with crippled limbs and thighs, but it’s totally worth it, dude.

Somewhere, out there, Patrick Swayze is giving me a slow clap.


"I swear to god Keanu, you ask me to spell "cat" one more time..."

“I swear to god Keanu, you ask me how to spell “cat” one more time…”

This summer, my husband and I have a pact.


No, not that kind of pact.

No, not that kind of pact.


We have a pact to travel through Arizona and see the sights. Road trips to cities like Payson, Flagstaff, Sonoita, etc. Our state – every state – has those fun, unique getaways and you should see them, damn it.

Whenever I take a road trip I always wonder two things: 1) Where is the nearest prison? 2) Where is the closest cemetery?

This weekend we decided to head down to Biosphere 2, located in Oro Valley, AZ.


I’ll tell you in advance that I’ve never seen Bio-Dome so you’ll be spared many Pauly Shore jokes.

Apologies all around.

Apologies all around.

I’ve always wanted to visit Biosphere 2  ever since I was a little girl and read about the Biospherians living in those self-contained domes. Back then a 10-year-old Jules’ thoughts probably were: “Habitats are cool.” “What food can they eat?” “Are they scared in the dark?”

Well, yesterday, 30-year-old Jules’s thoughts were: “Did anyone bone each other?” “Did they have to murder their own animals?” “Were they allowed wine? Because if not, goddamn it.”

"Go, world, go!"

“Go, world, go!”

The grounds of Biosphere 2 were so peaceful. Gorgeous views of the Catalina Mountains. Little habitats set up that reminded me of some hedonist community. Instantly, I wanted to live there. We joined a group of 30 people and watched a video that oddly glossed over the awkward reason why the Biospherians exited the Biosphere. I still do not know. It was like the people living in the community were a black mark. No one really wanted to mention them. It was odd.


It was because of the interior decorating.

It was because of the interior decorating.


The video also stressed the importance of science. DUH.

From there we traveled to five different habitats: Savannah, Ocean, Tropical rainforest, Mangrove wetlands, and Fog desert.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A



The coolest was the rainforest habitat. It monitors the current rainforest temperature in South America, so what we felt was true atmosphere on the other side of the world.  The earth was blowing my mind.

Everything else was enjoyable.

Except for the doomsday tour guide, who would issue warnings like this:

“This is a strenuous workout. Many, many stairs and habitats. If you feel faint, tell me.”

Wait what?

Then there was this classic –

“Now, keep to the left on this hallway. When you come to the grate on the floor, do not step on it. I repeat, it is imperative that you DO NOT step on it. Make sure to duck and lift your feet when you come to the door and then you’ll descend at a steep incline into this tunnel, which you will need to conform your body to a 90 degree right angle…”

Holy overload. Instructions with the fear of impending death or agony are too much to follow.  I’m naturally prone to mishaps so I kept picturing stepping on the grate and setting off alarms around the Biosphere 2.

But in the end, everything went well. I didn’t step on the grate and we were led into this room.

In movies, this is the murder room.

In movies, this is the murder room.

After a demonstration that involved screaming and air pressure (don’t ask, because I don’t know) we headed outside, passed a structure that sounded like a dirty oral sex act (a Falaj?) and the tour ended in the hot and sweaty desert. The trip was fun. Worth it, sure. I’ll admit I was a little bit disappointed because for some reason I had expected the opportunity to frolic in the habitats, instead of just inspecting them from handrails.

But I get it. I shouldn’t trample the ecosystems.

I’m glad I went. I’m smarter. Better for going. I have a new understanding for our world and seeing science and research in progress was pretty damn cool. And so, I took the opportunity to thank it in style.


"I love earth."

“I love earth.”