Time to dive back into roundups! Since I’m working my way through my black hole of content from August of 2016 to April of 2017, that means we’ve got roundups to catch up on as well. This one will be pretty short and sweet, with Months 62 + 63 are coming out next week.
Apologies for the delay, but I suppose better is late than never… right? And to answer the inevitable questions, I pull these together from detailed notes, old blog posts and photos, my calendar, and my daily spending tracking software 🙂
Returning back from six weeks in Brazil, one of my most intense trips I’ve ever taken, I had zero time to catch my breath. There were friends to visit, family to catch up with, and planes to catch! While this month perhaps looked boring in comparison to the exotic stretch of travel I’d just wrapped up, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to be back in the US basking in familiarity and creature comforts.
Where I Was
• One night in overnight transit
• Three nights in Albany
• Two nights in Boston
• Three nights in Martha’s Vineyard
• Five nights in Albany
• Four nights in San Francisco
• Eight nights in Los Angeles
• One night in overnight transit
• Five nights in New York City
• Two nights in Albany
• Three nights in Port Leyden
• My ever-generous mama picking me up at JFK. Generally, I kick around in the city for a few days before taking a train up to Albany but I was in such a rush this time, she drove three hours to the airport to scoop me on arrival. It was so luxurious to get straight in the car — after the world’s longest hug! — and start chatting. While I only had three short nights in Albany, we managed to squeeze in a huge family and family friend BBQ to welcome me home, and a couple’s dinner with me and Ian and one of my childhood best friends and his girlfriend.
• Back with Ian! We had just three short days together and they were jam-packed with errands, packing, and a million people to see, but it was so nice just to break up our long stretch apart with the briefest reunion before we were both on the move again.
• Reuniting with my sister in Boston — and getting to meet Hillary Clinton that very evening! (For those that don’t know, Olivia spent two years working on her campaign.) While far less momentous, it was equally surreal to get thrown into the role of event photographer that evening and photograph Bon Jovi meeting with major donors in the process.
• A nice dude in Boston. I’m pretty quick to complain when people are rude so I figure I should be even quicker to be praise when people are kind. I totally screwed up the $50 parking voucher I bought for Boston and didn’t realize it wasn’t an in-and-out pass. I only had to make one trip, to the airport, and the guy running the lot was sweet enough to realize I’d made a genuine mistake and let me back in without charging me again — he made my day!
• Blogger reunion! I was so thrilled when after years of talking about it and trying to coordinate schedules, I finally got to show my two best blogger babes my island home in Martha’s Vineyard. Time with these two is good for my soul.
• A night out in Beantown. I wanted to find somewhere wow-able to bring Kristin and Angie for our one night in Boston, and Liquid Art House and Red Lantern fit the bill perfectly. Turns out Boston can be hip!
• New adventures on an old favorite island. I never fail to find something new to explore in this destination I’ve been running around since childhood. This year I went gaga for the new Summercamp Hotel in Oak Bluffs, found a swoon-worthy view at a new lighthouse I’d never been to, and snagged a brunch reservation at State Road. A balance of old and new — the best of both worlds!
• Seeing Love and Friendship. I would never have gone to see this otherwise, but Angie was dying to and I wanted to be a good host so I cheerily agreed. It was the most fun I’ve had in the theater in ages! I’ve actually been meaning to watch it a second time, as the witty jokes flew by so fast I’m sure I missed a few.
• Showing off Albany. I had Angie in Albany for a night, and Kristin there for two — it was so a rare treat getting the chance to show off my hometown, even briefly.
• Long time traditions. I was browsing through my financial app to write this post and I saw an entry for “Yangs” and I smiled so big. I have one high school best friend who lives in Albany and whenever I’m home, we got to hot yoga together and then have dinner at Yang’s. It’s the best! It’s been eleven years since I moved out of Albany but I love that I still have a community to return to there, and that I’ve built new traditions that still make coming home special.
• San Francisco smiles. Speaking of high school, seeing one of my high school besties thriving in her new life in San Francisco was another highlight. I was so proud of my friend Michelle for taking a leap and moving across the country to a crazy new job and I’ve gotten so much joy out of watching her flourish there. It’s a beautiful thing when a city and a person find a love match!
• Trying David’s Tea finally. Okay frivolous highlight alert, but as my tea passion has grown over the years how did it take me so long to try David’s?! There are LITERALLY sprinkles in the Birthday Cake Blend. I’m obsessed.
• One day with Abby. While I wish I’d had longer to hang out in San Jose, we made the most of our short visit and as usual had the best, most relaxed night ever. I think my fellow travel tribe make the best hosts — they know exactly what a girl-on-the-go wants and needs when she ends up on your doorstep!
• Getting to SUPER treat my dad to a helicopter ride in Los Angeles! I was planning to surprise him all the way up to the parking lot, but I caved that morning and told him where we were headed so he could decide what to wear. The architecture and city planning geek in him loved seeing the city from above, and I freaked out over spotting my friend Lindsay’s house from the air. It was the most fun bonding adventure — and I think he had a major Father’s Day bragging story to tell at the office the next day! (Just writing this bullet point made me miss my dad so much it hurt!)
• Exploring LA. This week was a big step in our burgeoning love affair — I fell head over heels for the shark-inspired exhibition that I happened upon at the Taschen Gallery (and while I like to think myself an artsy person, the reality is I rarely make it to galleries these days) and went crazy for the hip neighborhood of Loz Feliz, where I plan to spend plenty more time in the future. I also got to see my friends Asher, Lindsay and Diana over dinner at Soho House, catch up with Amy and Jordan before heading off on a red eye, and spend excessive amounts of quality time with my beloved pup.
• Mingling in Manhattan. Typically I stay in Brooklyn almost exclusively, but this time I stayed around Central Park first with my friend Kristin and then with Steve, two of my close-knit crew from high school, who I got to clock some serious quality time with. It was a refreshing change! I still saw my Brooklyn people, but we did lunch near their offices instead of dinner near their homes, and I took advantage of being near the park by getting in there as much as I could. I got to clock some serious quality time with Kristin, who can be hard to see with her hectic hospital job.
• Camping! I waffled over whether to go to Liberty or not, and I’m so glad I did. I reconnected with so many fantastic people, and just adored spending three nights in total back-to-basics nature. Sleeping in a tent is good for the soul — even if it’s a little one person tent that you don’t really know how to properly put up that continuously collapses on you over and over until you finally accept defeat and sleep in a heap of nylon.
Lowlights and Lessons
• Normally I like to have about a week to decompress after a major trip like Brazil before setting off on the next one — here, I barely had three days. Definitely not idea, especially when combined with trying to squeeze in quality time with my boyfriend, but what’s a girl to do. Sometimes, schedules get crazy!
• And now for my petty AF moment of this month’s roundup: I hate what I wore in my photo with Hillary Clinton. Ugh! What was I thinking. My once chance commemorate meeting the first female nominee for a major political party and I wear some crappy old dress from high school that I added to a donate pile the next week. Why Alex, why.
• Sooooo, we kind of missed the Chappaquiddick Lighthouse Tour on Martha’s Vineyard and it may have been my fault for not reading the website properly (and having had a black cherry mojito with lunch.) This probably circles back to that whole, insane-rush-and-no-time-to-plan-or-sleep thing, huh? Oh well, we made the most of it and I’ll get there someday!
• Kristin trying to get out of Albany was a total disaster! Not being able to board your multiple hour delayed flight because the TSA went home early doesn’t do much to help my case that Albany is an cosmopolitan city on the rise — but I guess it does make for a funny story?!
• Waiting till the last minute to buy my flight to NY. Doh. I almost never do that, but I ended up paying a ridiculous last-minute fair because I was waffling over the difference of a day. So dumb!
• Getting from Newark into Manhattan. I literally loathe that airport and would be pretty pleased to literally never step foot in it again. The public transportation options made me want to bang my head against a wall!
• Driving to and from Port Leyden was not ideal. There was a terrible storm on the way there — I hate driving through heavy rain — and the air conditioning broke in my mom’s car on the way back. Several straight hours of highway driving in the boiling heat of summer? It was brutal — we alternated between rolling the windows down for a “breeze” and choking on truck fumes and baking in our sedan-sized oven.
• I saved my true lowlight for last — getting drugged in San Francisco was pretty sobering and scary, and on top of it I felt so guilty for ruining this long-awaited trip to see one of my best friends. It was just a nightmare, though I’m eternally grateful to the universe for getting me out relatively unscathed — and to our Uber driver who literally got out of the car to come around and physically remove the creep who was trying to get in the Uber with me (and, who I assume drugged me). There are bad people in the world — but there are even more good ones.
• I literally did laugh out loud at watching my two Southern girls trying to absorb the complexity of Boston’s draconian liquor laws. They were tickled at having to show their ID’s everywhere we went, but their expressions changed to horror when Olivia explained that happy hours are illegal. I mean honestly. How do Bostonians even live?!
• Okay, not to rag too much on Boston but I was recently talking to a vlogger about her recent trip to Massachusetts and she mentioned how she felt awkward filming in Boston in a way she has never felt anywhere in the world, like people were just so fascinated and borderline disturbed by what she was doing. And I knew exactly what she was talking about because it happened to us too! The morning we left Boston just so happened to be International Donut Day, and one of Olivia’s campaign donors owns a cute donut shop in the city. Liv called and told her her sister and two other blogger buddies would be passing through, and she sweetly treated us to half a dozen donuts on the house. Of course we wanted to thank her — and celebrate this very important holiday! — with some cute social media posts, so we were all quietly snapping away at our donuts on a bench outside. And guys, I have NEVER gotten so much attention while taking food photos in my life. At one point Angie quipped, “ever seen a blogger eat a donut before?!” and we all died because from the looks we were getting I felt like we may as well have been drinking martinis in our underwear at 9am. Oh Boston.
• Another quote from our girlcation was so good I had to write it down. Angie and Kristin were at the dining room table working when I suddenly felt it got a little dark and got up and started dramatically opening all the blinds. “Let there be light!” I cried, quickly followed up by a “wait, who said that?” Angie looked up and deadfaced reminded me the obvious answer: “Um, the Lord.” Ha!
New York City
Best and Worst Beds of the Month
Best: Sleeping in my childhood bed after ten months away from the US — heaven!
Worst: Two red eye flights — they save time and money but does anyone ever deplane feeling rested? First class flyers, don’t answer that.
Best and Worst Meals of the Month
Best: A pancake breakfast with my dad at Bea Bea’s in Burbank. Pancake breakfasts were our special Sunday morning tradition when I was growing up and I loved surprising my dad with a fun new version of an old favorite — they have insane flavors like green tea and red velvet! (Though nutella Boloco shakes in Boston were not far behind).
Worst: Brunch in San Francisco when I threw up multiple times and briefly passed out in the bathroom and considered going to a hospital before remembering I had no insurance. If you’re confused, see the drugging incident above. Really not good times.
One of my biggest expenditures this month was transportation. I dropped $50 parking in Boston, $137 on a round trip car ferry ticket and $69 on a ten passenger ticket booklet, $307 on a flight from Albany to San Francisco, $309 on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, and $54 on an Amtrak to Albany. Well, at least my flight from San Jose to Burbank was free with points! I also spent $140 on my Liberty ticket plus a small fortune on supplies at Whole Foods and Target to get ready for the woods.
Another entertaining line item — I spent $146 on a case of my favorite Bully Hill wine, and had in my trunk the entire month to grab a bottle as necessary — it was glorious.
It was a fairly quiet month with one collaboration each with Viator and PADI and then the usual slew of affiliates, featured bloggers and SEO stuff (which I’ve since ceased). I did get to step away from the computer and do some in-person meetings with both PADI and Jucy Campers while I was in Los Angeles, which was a rare treat! I was pretty on the go and really only got in quality work hours when I was in Los Angeles, Albany and NYC and was just hanging by a thread elsewhere — so all things considered, it was a respectable month for the amount of work I clocked.
Health and Fitness
I managed some pretty fun and varied workouts this month! A run through Boston Commons, zumba and yoga in Martha’s Vineyard, barre and hot yoga in Albany, a power walk with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran, a step class in San Jose, swimming laps in my dad’s pool in LA, walking and running in Central Park in NYC, starting ClassPass in order to try buti yoga and something called #assenvy in Manhattan (only in new york!), and gentle yoga and swimming in the lake in Port Leyden.
What Was Next
Two months of hopping between the US and Canada before setting off for England!
Let’s get these roundups all caught up now, shall we?
Since I left home for my Great Escape, I’ve been doing monthly roundups of my adventures filled with anecdotes, private little moments, and thoughts that are found nowhere else on this blog. As this site is not just a resource for other travelers but also my own personal travel diary, I like to take some time to reflect on not just what I did, but how I felt. You can read my previous roundups here.