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.

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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!

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

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

 

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I kayaked and sailed around Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.

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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:

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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.

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Bring it, 2017!

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.Β  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.

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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.

 

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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 toΒ Smith’s Beach Resort for some R & R, with a side of wine tasting. The views from our rented condo were quite stunning.

 

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a few of my favorite things: bubbles and beautiful views

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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.

 

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

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Aussie sandwich at Clairault

 

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A Wills Domain vista

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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…

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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!