2016: My Year in Review

2016 was full of changes and adventures. I’m not going to write about the losses of the past year (ie Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, to name a few), nor will I talk about our president-elect, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Instead, I want to review, mainly for myself, the amazing things I was able to do because of the life I’m lucky enough to have.

So, here goes…

I started off the year living in my parents’ basement while getting my affairs in order for a great upheaval of my life, that would include putting most of my belongings in storage and heading to Minneapolis, MN for a travel contract job. I’m now self-employed and, though that causes stress at times, it allows me the freedom and flexibility to go on month-long adventures without anyone telling me I don’t have the vacation time to use. It’s lovely.

With that freedom, I spent 3 weeks traveling around the US with Kathryn Budig supporting the release of her 2nd book, Aim True.


I took a month off and traveled to Western Australia (Perth, Yallingup, and Margaret River), Cambodia, and Vietnam with my platonic life partner of Burning Man and Iceland “fame.”

I saw kangaroos in the wild, which is like seeing deer in the US, but to me it was AWESOME!



I saw some of the most stunning wine country in Margaret River.




I visited Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples in Siem Reap.




I kayaked and sailed around Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.



As if that isn’t enough, I was one of the extraordinarily lucky people to have seen (mostly) the original cast of Hamliton: An American Musical on Broadway. This “luck” was due to the well-connectedness and generosity of my friend Kate Fagan. Seeing Hamilton was not just a highlight of the year, but of my life, I think. Look at our seats! I mean, feel free to hate me…


I made my first visit to Duluth and Lake Superior with my lovely friend Becka and, all I can say is that it’s totally worth the trip. If you’re looking for a charming B&B in a great location, look no farther than Solglimt.

More Lake Superior vistas…


No travel list is complete without a little exertion and effort… to that end, I took a backpacking trip with fabulous friends to and around Havasu Falls (shout out to the super company Wildland Trekking). I highly recommend the trip and definitely the trekking company. If Dara Kelly happens to be your guide, you’ve won the lotto.


After close to 40 years, my parents left the state of Virginia, rendering me somewhat homeless officially nomadic. The upside is that I’ve been calling the frozen tundra of Minneapolis “home” and my ‘rents moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida, which, as it turns out, is so charming and lovely… and is a nice warm free escape from the Minnesota winter.


In addition to travel, I had the great fortune to dine at some of the best restaurants in the country. If you love food as much as I do, this was a highlight.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~Virginia Woolf

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” ~Julia Child

My list includes St Genevieve, Corner Table, and Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, Pineapple and Pearls and Rose’s Luxury in Washington, DC, and Giant and Alinea in Chicago.

If I learned anything about my dining preferences, it’s that I’ll take delicious, casual, and friendly over fancy ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Because of that, my favorite restaurant experience was Rose’s Luxury x 2, with Giant coming in second place. Though Giant’s food was every bit as fabulous as Rose’s, they didn’t serve up happiness as well–part of Aaron Silverman’s (the chef and owner of Rose’s Luxury) goal is to make people happy and if you aren’t happy at Rose’s, you’re the problem… no matter how long you waited to get in. 

I’m also obsessed with Corner Table and St Genevieve in my newly adopted home of Minneapolis. The wine guy, Nick Rancone (and co-owner), of Corner Table seriously impresses me with his truly unique pairings, which go so well with the positively scrumptious food of chef Thomas Boemer. St Genevieve is a charming French bistro style restaurant with delicious food and a top notch champagne selection (my reason for existing).

Here are some photos from a few of these places:



Rose’s Luxury

So fabulous you may just lick your plate and worth a possible 2 hour wait (made easier with bourbon in a purse). They may say “fuck perfect,” but they’re pretty fucking perfect.


Pineapple and Pearls

Rose’s Luxury’s  2 Michelin-starred, fancier (and not as good, in my opinion) sister.


Needless to say, I’ve had a great year, but I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the heartbreaking loss of my beloved Bailey–the cutest, sassiest, most easy-going corgi in the world. We went through life side by side for more than 15 years and he crossed the rainbow bridge on October 6, 2016. Cheers to you, sweet Bailey! I miss you terribly.


Bring it, 2017!

So I went to Cambodia…

… and it was fabulous!

I made the error in judgement to think that 3 weeks was enough time to explore Western Australia, Cambodia, and Vietnam– ie 9 flights, 6 different lodgings, 6 different cities/towns, 2 long bus rides, and a car trip. I’ll just say now that it was too much. I learned that, if I’m going to move around that much, at the very least, I need to stick to one climate in order to pack less. Also, PACK LESS. I’m the type of person who likes to bring everything I might possibly need as well as drugs for every possible symptom that might occur (see here). I’m great to have with you because, odds are, if you forgot it, I’ve got it–from q-tips to prescription anti-nausea drugs. With all of those packings and unpackings, being the ever-prepared, must have options traveler, begins to wear on one’s psyche. That being said, the trip was still great and one of its highlights was Cambodia.

Sava (adventure buddy featured in multiple posts) and I only made it to one city, for 4 days, and that was Siem Reap. One of the first things you may notice when planning a trip to Cambodia is that it is far cheaper than many other countries. For instance, we opted to stay at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap and somehow scored a rate of around $160/night! It’s a smaller hotel than some of the resorts around the city, but lovely.


I mean, who needs to see Angkor Wat when you can sit here?


A tranquil courtyard at the Park Hyatt


This may look like a painting, but it’s actually the koi pond at the hotel

You may recognize the Park Hyatt chain from popular movies such as this. The Tokyo hotel, as seen in Lost in Translation, will run you at least $700/night.

Back to Siem Reap… I am so glad we picked the Park Hyatt! There are plenty of fancy hotel chains in the area, if that’s what you desire, but they seem to be outside of the city center. The Hyatt, on the other hand, is smack dab in the middle of everything I wanted to be near. We could easily walk to many restaurants,  spas, Pub Street, the night market, etc. Though we walked many places, our favorite mode of transportation was definitely tuk tuk.

You probably know that the main attraction in Siem Reap, and Cambodia in general, is the Unesco World Heritage site Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Rather than pay upwards of $100/ person for a hotel-organized tour of the temples, I put my negotiation skills to the test and set out to find a tuk tuk driver who would pick us up at 4:30 am, take us to Angkor Wat for sunrise, then around to as many other temples as we could tolerate. We easily found one and he was great! He even brought a cooler of water and handed us a bottle each time we got back in the tuk tuk. This cost us 15 USD each. I believe we agreed upon a lower number, but after our trip and how much I liked him, I wasn’t particularly inclined to haggle.

How about the pictures now?


Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Though it’s lovely to watch the sun rise at the temple, the early morning light didn’t make for the best pictures, so I only have a few worth posting.



Monkeys apparently flock to Angkor Wat for contemplation as well…




Pretty much the only way I want to encounter a scorpion of this size


The photos above and below show the South gate to Angkor Thom. Please note that my long-sleeved blouse is in my hand, but that I had to cover my knees and shoulders (and cleavage) in order to go in the temples. I purchased the pants (shown below) in a market in Siem Reap, though I no longer have said pants as they ripped in the crotch when I bent down to take a photo and then basically disintegrated throughout the day, forcing me to toss them in the trash. I guess you get what you pay for and 2 pairs for $5 doesn’t get you much quality.



Bayon Temple is the central temple of the ancient city Angkor Thom, located north of Angkor Wat, and an easy tuk tuk ride away. I think it was my favorite temple as there’s just something amazing about all the faces.


I can’t remember the name of this one–perhaps the cardinal sin of the travel blogger–but I do like the photo.


I absolutely love elephants and feel sorry for those in captivity, so instead of paying to ride these guys/gals, I opted to stand by them and just send them love. Yes, I actually stood by the elephants and hoped they felt my love. They never acknowledged me, but oh well…


The temple of Ta Prohm is becoming one with the surrounding jungle and is magnificent…





Siem Reap Restaurants:

Genevieve’s – Owned by an Australian man who traveled to Cambodia as a tourist, but ended up returning to teach… and eventually opened a restaurant. Genevieve’s is named in honor of his late wife and employs people of all ages in need of work, training or not. They give 10% of the profits back to the employees in hopes they can, one day, open a business of their own. All those good intentions aside, the food just so happens to be delicious. In order to eat at Genevieve’s, you should make a reservation or go very early, like we did. Nana Gwen and Yiayia (as we affectionately call ourselves) like to eat around 5:30 pm, so it worked out well.

George’s Rhumerie – So cute with it’s idyllic patio and twinkle lights–like dining in a fairy garden. The food was quite good and the service was fabulous. It may have been that they were nice and I kept telling the server that I loved her, but it’s hard not to profess your love to someone who practically cheers each time you order another glass of wine. The inside part is fine, but SIT OUTSIDE!

Touich – This place is more off the beaten path than the others. So much so that your table comes equipped with a bottle of bug spray to fend off mosquitos. The service is pleasant, setting is quaint, and the food is quite good. At the behest of my travel partner, I ordered the prawns–my first in Asia–and loved them. Still, Genevieve’s food was our favorite, but each of these were a good choice.

The Living Room at the Park Hyatt – If you happen to be staying at the Park Hyatt, you will not be disappointed by the Asian choices at this restaurant. We ate breakfast there once and I had dinner prior to going to the airport–both were quite delicious.


The Beauty of Western Australia

So, yeah, I’ve been embarrassingly lax about posting lately. Of course, I have many excuses involving travel without a computer (it’s hard to write a blog on a phone), jet lag, work, illness, and romance.  But I’m back now and better late than never, right?

The first of my adventures on the other side of the world was in Western Australia, home to my travel soulmate who you’ll know from many posts past (see here, here, here, and here).

After 33 hours, I landed in the beautiful city of Perth, WA, was scooped up by Sava and whisked to Fremantle for brunch and bloody marys at Bib and Tucker. I was a bit dazed and have zero pictures, but it’s right on the beach, totally lovely, and has yummy breakie.

We walked around Fremantle and despite my haze, I did take a photo of a cool old hotel.


In an effort to kick jet lag’s ass, we stayed out most of the day and walked through King’s Park in Perth next. It was such a gorgeous day to take in the views.


This trip was prompted by the fact that Kathryn Budig would be making her maiden voyage to Perth to teach a weekend of yoga workshops. Many of my trips have been instigated by Kathryn and her travel schedule, and I’ve acquired a few lovely friends who live in WA, so I jumped at the opportunity to go.



sometimes she makes me demo (please note the 3 layers of shirts as they aren’t all fat rolls)


Once Kathryn’s work was done, we headed south to Smith’s Beach Resort for some R & R, with a side of wine tasting. The views from our rented condo were quite stunning.



a few of my favorite things: bubbles and beautiful views




Now, my friends in Napa and Sonoma may revoke my card for saying this, but the Margaret River wine region may be one of the most beautiful wine countries I’ve ever seen (of California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, and Chile). Perhaps it’s just that the landscape and flora are so different, or maybe the hundreds of kangaroos swayed me. I don’t know.

We visited Wills Domain, Clairault, and Vasse Felix and I truly cannot say which was the most beautiful.



Fabulous wine and delicious lunch (Aussie sandwich not on the menu) at Clairault.


Aussie sandwich at Clairault



A Wills Domain vista



Though my wine heart will always belong to California, Australia has certainly found its way in as well. I guess I’ll have to plan another trip to visit my Perth friends… in the summer, they tell me.

I’ll leave you with this bit of humor…


Time spent in wine country often has it’s price, but when your girl needs her B12 shot, you rise above your hangover illness, put your metaphorical nurse hat on, and help.

Stay tuned for Cambodia and Vietnam!


My Continuing Love Affair with Minneapolis

I’m here to tell you that Minneapolis is an AMAZING city!!

Travel is my passion. Whether it be to lounge on a gorgeous beach and do nothing, hike to some secluded destination, eat my way across France, do yoga while peering into Santorini’s caldera, or jump off a bridge in New Zealand, I’m in. I don’t claim to be the most well-traveled person out there, but I’ve done my fair share of exploring. With that in mind, I want the world to know that Minneapolis (and St Paul, for that matter) is winning me over with each passing meal. And each street festival. And each walk around a lake. And each wonderful person I meet. The city has just enough hipsters, just enough trendy people, just enough tattoos to make me feel at home, all the while being friendly, gorgeous, clean, and full of fantastic activities. I may never leave. Seriously. Yeah, yeah, I know I haven’t lived through a winter, but that’s the beauty of being an independent contractor–I’m pretty sure I could take off one week a month to go somewhere warm, but I digress.

My platonic soulmate/life-partner-who-lives-on-the-other-side-of-the-earth/travel mate (See here, here, and here for prior adventures) came for a visit and left “loving it large,” as he’s known to say. We checked out a festival called Art a whirl



Also a rosé tasting event (my second since coming to the Twin Cities), put on by my new favorite wine shop–Cork Dork–but held at Italian Eatery.

Basically our friendship revolves around laughter and booze.


We even ventured over to a St Paul Saints game. The stadium is great and we had a fabulous time.


Fast forward a couple of weeks, and a few other adventures, and although I was getting over a deathly illness, I found myself at yet another festival called Northern Spark. This one started with the launch party in the ruins of an old flour mill on the most gorgeous night.


They had a great jazz hip hop band called Doks Robotiks, small bites from several local restaurants, and (of course) a bar.


After the party, the festival opens and runs all night. It was full of really cool stuff and really weird stuff that, collectively, add to the splendor that is this city.


My first stint here is about to come to an end, yet I love it so much I will be returning in August. I even went from a complete lack of interest in riding a bike to feeling like I MUST own one to ride around the Twin Cities. I mean, look at what it’s like…

My trip to Western Australia, Cambodia, and Vietnam is up next, but in all honesty, I’ll be ever-so-slightly missing Minnesota while I travel.

I’ll leave you with a little collage from pride weekend:

Minneapolis, I totally heart you!

Minneapolis restaurants. Oh, the restaurants!

I came here with exactly 1 friend in the Twin Cities. That beautiful woman has managed to see me about 10 times already, despite the fact that she has a toddler, infant twins, and works full-time. At the recommendation of my amazing friend and her husband, my mom and I made reservations at Spoon and Stable. I have since found out that we were incredibly lucky to get said reservation since most people book weeks in advance. It was either meant to be or someone cancelled at the last minute–probably the latter, but the end result was the same.

I’ve lived in some foodie havens–New York City, Charleston, SC, even Washington, DC is catching up–but I am so impressed with what Minneapolis/St. Paul has to offer. Like, seriously impressed.

Everything about Spoon and Stable makes it worth the trip. Each morsel that touched my lips was delicious. The One of the most important things to me about a meal is the wine that accompanies it, and they have many great options, as well as craft cocktails.

The restaurant is truly beautiful and has top notch service. I am anxiously awaiting my opportunity to return.




delicious endive salad


my pot roast was so good I forgot to take a picture


for “special” occasions there is cotton candy


Don’t get me wrong, I loved Spoon and Stable, but I really LOVED Corner Table. I’m on a constant mission for restaurants that can be my place–ones in which I can go frequently and kind of be known. Corner Table is definitely more that than Spoon and Stable. It’s neighborhood-y, friendly, and completely fabulous. Unfortunately, I have no photos of my trip there, but I shall snap some on my next visit… and there will be many more visits. When I went, we asked one of the owners to pick our courses and pair the wine. OMG, was it fabulous! Not all of the wine pairings were what you’d traditionally receive. For instance, he paired a lamb dumpling with a really funky white wine (versus a red that you may expect with lamb) and it was glorious perfection. If I lived in their neighborhood, my waistline and wallet would be in big, big trouble.

You need reservations (unless going at some odd time and hedging your bets), so plan ahead. I have so many restaurants left to try, so bear with me. As of now, I absolutely love this place!


**Online dating update: The 1 guy, out of 4, that I liked, that I didn’t hear from after meeting, finally did reach out…

I’ll leave you with a pre-debauchery photo of my friend and me at the Solo Vino wine tasting event in St Paul.

aforementioned beautiful friend at the Solo Vino Rosé tasting

Minneapolis, City of Lakes

It’s been a long time since my last post and, like with most tasks, the larger-looming the more likely I am to procrastinate. So, instead of posting chronologically, I’m going out of order and jumping right into Minneapolis–my current residence. I’ve been living here for a little more than 3 weeks and although it has rained an awful lot, she’s really shown me a lovely side.

I arrived the day after Prince died, which sucks on several levels. The first being that I was just sure he and I would become friends and I would get to attend all the Paisley Park parties. So, for that reason, and that we lost yet another musical genius it was quite sad. Most people loved Prince, but the people of Minnesota, particularly the greater Twin Cities area, really loved him; he was one of them–having grown up and continued to maintain a residence here.

Naturally, I went to Paisley Park to pay my respects to the artist known once again as Prince.

Since my little rental cottage was not yet available, I spent my first night at an absolutely lovely hotel downtown called The Ivy.  Upon arrival, Bailey (my scrumptiously cute corgi) was greeted with a plush bed and bowls already in our room.


If you want to win over a dog person, suck up to her dog.

We had drinks and delicious snacks in the hotel at Constantine Bar–the decor, ambiance, and abundance of real candles everywhere makes it worth checking out. The food, though really good, is definitely bar fare and not the best option if looking for something remotely healthy… like us after 2 days of the junk that a road trip provides.

Prince’s music was the only thing in the rotation for the evening and there was a small altar set for him. In the immortal words of Vivian (aka Julia Roberts), “Don’t ya just love Prince?” More than life itself, Vivian, more than life itself.




I’ve started drinking eating my way through the Twin Cities and I have several restaurant recommendations coming your way. Stay tuned.

If you’ve been considering a trip to this part of the world and are a foodie, into biking, water (lake-type) activities, enjoy being outside (this time of year, anyway) and men with beards, you should definitely come here. Even though it’s 46 degrees right now, and 75 back in my native land of Virginia, I love it.


**Online Dating Update**

Just so my millions handful of followers can have a good chuckle, my aforementioned plan to “online date the shit out of the Twin Cities” has been quite amusing so far. I came here as an online dating virgin and decided to jump in with both feet. I’ve had a profile in the past, but have always been able to talk myself out of going out with anyone who contacted me. I’ve had 3 dates so far… 1 was terrible and I actually think I hate him, 1 was bad and lasted WAY too long, and 1 was good. 1 out of 3 isn’t so bad except the one that was decent never contacted me again. Perhaps my comment about our next meeting being somewhere with booze led him to believe I drink too much. Oh well, it’s probably for the best. I spent no less than 3 hours with any of these guys, so I’ve learned that I truly can talk to anyone, my instincts are usually correct, and online dating is exhausting.

To close, I’d like to leave you with a picture of Bailey in his new wheels (my guy likes to be out and about, but can only walk a block or two at his advanced age).




Rose’s Luxury IS all it’s cracked up to be

There’s nothing like a lot of hype to ruin an experience–be it a movie, restaurant, or a helicopter ride over Kauai. That is not, however, what I experienced at Rose’s Luxury the other night.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing about Rose’s (a fabulous and critically acclaimed restaurant in Washington, D.C.). Bon Appétit wrote about it (here) and it’s been open since 2014. Bearing that in mind, my experience was so fabulous that I just HAVE to say something.

Aaron Silverman, the owner, strives to, and fully achieves, his goal of providing fabulous food and happiness–yes, happiness–to his patrons. The combination of delectable cuisine, ambiance, top-notch service, and great music really does promote happiness. Everything about Rose’s is cozy and comfortable and joy-inducing.

Reservations are possible for groups of 6 or more (plus a private, rooftop, price-fixed option for 10), but most diners show up and wait in line. My friends and I came from the suburbs and were NOT going to mess up our opportunity, so we arrived at 3:10, and were the first ones in line (cue jazz hands). Two nameless members of our 5 person group tend to be anxious in these situations and, therefore, opted to stay in the yet to form line while the others went to a nearby bar. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t suffer…there was Jameson in my HydroFlask, and it was a gorgeous day for standing outside, dreaming of what was to come… in approximately 2 hours.


Yes, the entire block is also waiting to get in

Shortly after 5, the doors opened, we were warmly greeted, and shown to our table. As a group of serious eaters, we ordered every item on the menu and could not have been happier. Seriously.

Rose’s is the thing of which foodie dreams are made. Though the prices are quite reasonable, what really drove up our bill (despite ordering the entire menu) were the 2 bottles of wine from the premium list. SO WORTH IT, by the way! Our server recommended a white Burgundy that was fabulous and complimented the food perfectly.

I’m not going to describe all the food as I truly believe that, with the guidance of the staff, you cannot go wrong. Everything is delicious, but there are 2 things that have sort of become their signature dishes, remaining on the menu since the beginning–the pork sausage, habanero, peanuts and lychee salad and the family style brisket with white bread, horseradish, and slaw–so if you’re a meat-eater, order them both and maybe throw in the citrus salad as well for something on the lighter side. With the exception of the veal (for moral reasons), I would eat everything on the menu again and again and again.

Since I left, I can’t stop thinking about when I’ll return. It’s worth the line. It’s worth the wait. It’s worth everything. GO!


Happiness courtesy of Rose’s

**They are opening a fine dining restaurant next door called Pineapple and Pearls. You make a reservation up to 4 weeks in advance and pay $250 per person, including alcohol and gratuity. P and P is currently open as a coffee bar but I’m eager to try that restaurant based on how much I loved Rose’s.

For additional DC spots and tourism info, look here.

My Next Adventure…

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself getting deeper and deeper into what I call a “life rut”. Not any one thing is really the culprit and, objectively speaking, I have an amazing life, full of love and adventure, but still… something is missing.

This feeling started creeping its way into me around 2012, so I changed jobs in an effort to mix it up, challenge myself in different ways, and see if that would help. It didn’t. In the course of that change, I met some amazing people (both professionally and personally), learned some new job skills, and, most importantly, proved to myself that I could excel under pressure.

Still though, I wasn’t happy, and made another job change, hoping simplification would improve the situation. Much to my dismay, that didn’t work either, and I found myself constantly trying to escape–by traveling at every opportunity and spending WAY too much money. Don’t get me wrong, traveling at every opportunity is not a bad thing, unless the kind folks at Visa and Amex are paying for all of it.

Let me preface my woes by saying I am extraordinarily lucky for my station in life. To have family and friends who support me, a successful career, the means to travel and experience amazing things is a gift. In spite of all that, I have the audacity to want, dare I say it, M-O-R-E.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

~George Bernard Shaw

An offhand comment to a friend about my “unhappiness situation” had me set up with a lifecoach (Mike Halsey, in case you need one), something I never would have pursued on my own. Mike was unique to me–a little older than I, a former naval fighter pilot, current commercial pilot, AND lifecoach. Someone who had already experienced so much of what life can offer and I trusted to push and guide me. Several months of work with Mike, along with the unfaltering support of my best friend Kathryn Budig, a wonderful talk with the brilliant Marla Gottschalk, and I had a plan to depart my current situation.

I tossed around the idea of quitting my job without any prospects, but due to my ridiculous student loans, car payment, and overall life expenses, decided that wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. Plan number two: take a temporary position of the 1099 variety, therefore rendering me… self-employed and holding all the control over where I go, when I’ll work, and how much. I’d love for this blog to pay my salary (I have a handful of regular readers, so I’m about as far from that as one can get). I’d love to travel, write reviews, and give my opinions to make a living. Since I haven’t figured that out quite yet, I’m staying in my current profession, but changing the rules of the game a little.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.

~Gilda Radner

So, on December 19th, 2015, I packed my possessions into a storage unit and moved in with a couple of roommates my parents to save a little nest egg and sustain the upcoming adventure. My last day at work is March 25th, after which I’ll join Kathryn on our her Aim True book tour around the US. A few weeks of that, and I’m off to Minneapolis, MN for a work assignment. I will write entries along the book tour on anything that is worth sharing–with regard to cities, hotels, restaurants, and so on.

Once in Minneapolis, I’m going to shake things up and try to break my rhythm. I’m an incredibly routine-bound person, which is part of what currently ails me. I go to work, hang out with the same people, spend a fair amount of time alone (which I love), and stick in my oh-so-comfortable rut.


I am doing this to force myself out of this comfort zone and open up to new people and experiences. A common misconception is that I am doing this to meet a mate–should that occur, great, but it is not my motivation. That being said, I’m going to embrace the 21st century (several years late) and online date the shit out of the Twin Cities. I’m going to say “yes” (within reason) to everything that comes my way because, why the hell not?

So, that’s where I am, where I’m going, and what I’m thinking.

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “You’re on your own and you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

Here goes…

**Keep up with me here. I have big plans for my freedom to come. Along with book tour updates, keep an eye out for the Minneapolis scene and a future trip to Australia/Vietnam/Cambodia. I’m always up for sharing my adventures… maybe even a good/bad dating story or two.




Charleston on my mind, with Kathryn Budig

Charleston, SC is a beautiful, historic city rich with culture, activities, and fabulous food. I was lucky enough to live there from 1999 to 2001, but so many new restaurants and businesses have popped up in my decade and a half absence that I’m collaborating with my amazing best friend, Kathryn Budig, on this post. KB is an international yoga teacher, writer, foodie, model, and all-around badass warrior of love, who just so happens to live in Charleston. Since I have easy access to this well-traveled and knowledgeable woman, I figured I better tap her for assistance.

Some things about Charleston haven’t changed since I lived there. For instance, walking around downtown from Rainbow Row to the Battery will never get old–the architecture and charm of this area are top notch–there are a multitude of fabulous restaurants from which to choose, and it will always be oppressively humid in the summer.

Unless you’re a fan of 99% humidity, I don’t recommend visiting in the dead of summer. That being said, even if you do, the Charleston charm will still grab your heart.

I asked Kathryn some of her favorite things to do in order to best show off the city. (Her answers are in italics)

For a casual dinner?
My favorite casual night out would start at Pearlz for their oyster happy hour (their house oysters are fantastic!), maybe a custom cocktail at The Gin Joint (you pick two adjectives and they make the drink based off of your choice words: genius), and then head to Sean Brock’s Minero for his delicious take on Mexican cuisine (the golden burrito is to die for).


“Wrapped for your protection. Start at the top & work your way down.”


Drinks with a view?
I adore Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. There are plenty of casual restaurants there with great seafood and a fantastic place to watch the sun set as the dolphins swim by.


Dolphin-gazing at sunset


Nice dinner?
I find myself at The Obstinate Daughter in Sullivan’s Island all the time—lunch and dinner. The food is amazing (best pasta in Charleston, right behind Indaco), and you can be casual during the day or dress up for dinner.


Favorite beach?
It’s a toss up between Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with the beaches here. They’re all pretty fantastic.


A Sullivan’s Island vista


Favorite bar?
The lavender martini upstairs at Cypress is so lovely, and I already mentioned how much I love The Gin Joint. The bar attached to Husk is totally sexy, too.


Burger night at Cypress plus lavender martinis AND wine


Fave activity?
So many! I love to stand up paddle board on Shem Creek, hit the beach, walk the bridge or Pitt Street Bridge with my dogs, stroll The Battery daydreaming about what it must have been like to live there back in the day, attend a Riverdogs baseball game, oh right, and EAT! This town is full of endless delicious restaurants.


Shem Creek paddleboarding, complete with dolphin sightings


A totally jump worthy bridge walk


Many people go to the baseball stadium for The Riverdogs, but that day, we went for Kathryn’s yoga class


Isle of Palms beach selfie


Should you find yourself planning a trip to Charleston, here are some of my lodging recommendations–I’ve personally stayed at several, others are recommended by reputation:

Charleston Place

Right on King Street in the heart of downtown. I stayed there when it was an Omni, so I can’t speak to how it is currently, but the location is fabulous.

The Vendue

This is a smaller inn with a rooftop bar/restaurant. Fantastic location with lovely rooms.


With airbnb you can find cheaper places all the way up to luxury apartments in just about any area you’d like. Downtown is great to be in the thick of it, but also old town Mount Pleasant is an option. It’s conveniently located to get downtown as well as Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. I haven’t been out to Folly Beach in years, but it has a more casual feel than Sullivan’s and was always a favorite of mine.

Wentworth Mansion

Fancy. Expensive. Gorgeous. If you can afford it, go for it!

Zero George Street

Very charming boutique hotel in a great location for getting to all the goods that downtown has to offer.

Days Inn

This Days Inn is a more affordable hotel option in a really great location.

There are several budget friendly hotels downtown and too many B&Bs to name. The moral of the story is that you should check out Charleston and you certainly won’t go hungry while you’re there. My trips usually involve a 3 meal per day eating agenda… I mean business when it comes to food!



Roatan: the food and the activities

Roatan is home to the second largest barrier reef–you know, after that other one in Australia–and, therefore, has a huge diving community. Full disclosure: I am not a diver, so I can only give partial advice. That being said, I did ask some people who know, and did take a snorkeling trip with a dive company. Next trip, I WILL get scuba certified.

Since I’m already talking about scuba, I’ll start with the activities…

You do not need to do a boat tour, but for approximately $75/person, it’s totally worth it. Our house was located on Orchid Beach–convenient walking distance from both West Bay and West End. Our first morning, we hopped in kayaks and paddled out to the reef, tethered the boats to a buoy, and snorkeled around the shallow reef. Not many large groups of tourists make it there, so the reef is very much intact and alive.

Several days we walked to West Bay Beach and set up camp all the way at the end, in front of the Grand Roatan Resort. If you go there a couple of days in a row, and are like us and will talk to anyone, make friends with Xiomara (Flaca for short). She gives a decent beach massage for dirt cheap and will give you tips on where to get cheaper beers and locally made (DELICIOUS) empanadas.

The water in West Bay is so clear and so blue (due to the white sand and probable blasting of the reef to create tourist swimming zones) and it’s an easy swim to AMAZING snorkeling. The reef is shallow, but if you carefully navigate past that part to the drop off, it’s quite surreal. Observing the other world that exists under the sea is spectacular.

*Do find out from the locals which days are cruise ship days. If there are only 1-2 in port, it’s still ok, but once you get more, this beach is kind of a zoo. Now, I was able to witness several cruise ship people suit up in their snorkel gear (with flippers) and carefully back into the knee-deep, perfectly still water. Those laughs were worth the crowds for a day, as people-watching is a favorite pastime of mine. Here’s a tip: If you’re planning to snorkel at West Bay Beach, and don’t want people like me to poke fun at you, put your flippers on in the water and just walk straight in. After all, the water looks like this:


Shea ladies at West Bay Beach

For our snorkeling trip, we went with Clearwater Adventures and were so happy with that decision. Denisse Mazu, the dive master, was lovely and really provided us with a fabulous experience. When staying at The Pink Orchid, Clearwater couldn’t be more convenient as it’s, quite literally, a stone’s throw from the house.

Our snorkeling trip included a few stops at great reef sites as well as an old shipwreck. A truly unique highlight was our lunch stop in the village of Crawfish Rock, where Miss Dulce invites you into her home and serves a yummy, homemade lunch (for $10/person). Another family on the boat was far more prepared than we were, and brought some toys and trinkets for the kids in the village. I have a few pictures of the adorable kids, but if you’d like to see professional ones, that family just so happens to contain photographers and you can see the better versions here.


Some of the children of Crawfish Rock



The View from Miss Dulce’s Porch


Crawfish Rock Dock

Another dive company that came recommended by someone more experienced than I, is Las Rocas, located in West Bay. I cannot personally vouch for their dive experience, but I can say that their $7 fish tacos were one of the best things I ate the whole time I was in Roatan. The restaurant is super casual, super beachy, and it just feels right. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the “monkey lala”, which is apparently the drink of the island and available everywhere. It’s kind of a cross between dessert and drink as it’s a combination of vodka, kahlua, vanilla ice cream, coconut cream, and half and half. This is not my drink of choice, but it is delicious.

So, on to the food…

  • I mentioned Las Rocas’ restaurant and you should definitely give it a try for a casual, affordable, beach dining experience.
  • Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken in West End is so good! Another destination if value is your goal (approximately $8/person for a full meal with sides). They don’t appear to have a website, but here is their Trip Advisor link.
  • Beachers, on West Bay Beach is a good day drinking spot that has tasty bloody marys and a scrumptious jalepeño cheddar burger that they just could not understand why I wanted without a bun. If you eat/drink here, you’re welcome to use the beach chairs in front…a win-win.
  • Roatan Oasis came highly reviewed and recommended, but we found it to be just ok. Some items were really good, but some were so-so. At the prices they charge, it all needs to be really good, in my opinion. Look here for other reviews though. Perhaps we went on an off night and I would certainly be open to trying it again, but give me fish tacos at Las Rocas over this any day.
  • Our last night was spent with a little treat to ourselves because, can you really ever treat yourself enough? As I mentioned in my other Roatan post, Caribe Tesoro is a B & B in a fabulous location, with a decadent restaurant called Leña Parilla. What a treat it was to sit right on their dock and watch the sunset complete with cocktails and exceedingly friendly waitstaff. Four of us opted for the tomahawk steak, and one went with the Mahi Mahi. Everything, from our grilled romaine Caesar salads to the steaks were delicious. The meat was perfectly cooked to the chef-recommend medium rare and was paired with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and asparagus. The wine list could afford to contain some higher quality wines, but we did end up with a good Malbec. My sister lived in Chile for 7 years, worked in the wine industry there, and is a level 2 sommelier. I am a self-taught wine aficionado (translation: I drink a lot of wine). So bearing that in mind, we thought the wine list could use some help, but we’re picky when it comes to our booze. For the more casual wine drinker, it’s probably fine. In their defense, they had been open one week when we dined. Our experience wasn’t complete until our very friendly and accommodating server (Glenn Jr) pointed out his “pet” barracuda living under the dock.

Dinner on the Caribe Tesoro dock at sunset

Some miscellaneous info about the island:

Pretty much everyone speaks English, although the island is part of Honduras. The locals seem to speak Spanish, a local dialect, and English, which is apparently the first language they learn.

West end is buggier than West Bay. There are “noseeums” and mosquitos just waiting to devour a sweet succulent human such as myself. If you’d like to bring me with you, no need for bug spray, otherwise I highly recommend it.

Off the beatean path, and reportedly great, is Hole in the Wall. This place is NOT fancy, go figure, so disregard the reviews that complain about how rustic it is.

I did not make it to La Sirena de Camp Bay, but it is owned by the brother-in-law of a friend of mine, has great reviews, and is in a remote location that I WILL visit next time.

In true Caroline fashion, I did experience a touch of gastrointestinal distress (no one else did though), so I always recommend traveling with the appropriate drugs.

For now, that’s all I’ve got, but I shall return to this beautiful little island paradise one day.


West End sunset