I finally went on my first trip to New York this summer!! We had been wanting to go visit Dennis (one of Clay's best friends & college roommates/post-college housemates) ever since he moved there back in 2015. Somehow our visit turned into a big group trip where 10 of us managed to travel from the Bay area, Portland, and Boston to New York all on the same weekend. Many thanks to our good friend Lewis (#chentours) for planning everything & bringing everyone together! We basically ended up having a huge college reunion in NYC for 5 days straight and it was awesome.
Our trip included lots of sightseeing, eating, and of course, plenty of time to catch up and hang out with friends.
Here's a brief recap of our itinerary, which was half-planned & half-spontaneous:
-Thursday 8/16: Toby's Estate Coffee (cafe), Lunch @ House of Small Wonder (Japanese restaurant), Devocion (cafe), Weekends (cafe), ferry from Williamsburg to DUMBO to see the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridge, Dinner @ Roberta's (pizza & pasta), Bake Shop (vegan dessert), and Randolph Beer.
-Friday 8/17: Lunch @ Chelsea Market (indoor food market), The Lobster Place (oysters), Very Fresh Noodles (hand-pulled noodles), The High Line (an elevated railroad line turned into a public park), Cha Cha Matcha (cafe), Madison Square Park, Flat Iron Building, Eataly (indoor Italian-style marketplace), Dinner @ Pio Pio 8 (Peruvian restaurant), Time Square, Waitress Broadway musical @ Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Grace Street Cafe (dessert), and Maze (Korean bar).
-Saturday 8/18: Caprices by Sophie (French cafe), Lunch @ Smorgasburg (outdoor food market in Williamsburg where we tried Goa Taco, C Bao Asian Buns, & Jian Bing Company), East River State Park (waterfront with a great view of Manhattan), ferry from Williamsburg to Manhattan, Grand Central Station (famous train station), The Met (only got to go to the museum gift shop though), Central Park (Bethseda Terrace & Bow Bridge), Momofuku Milk Bar (dessert), Dinner @ TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie (Japanese restaurant), Chorus Karaoke, and Woorijip (Korean food to-go).
-Sunday 8/19: Brooklyn Ball Factory (modern Japanese cafe), Lunch @ Win Son (Asian fusion restaurant), 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Oculus (train station & Westfield shopping mall), East Village, Momofuku Milk Bar (again!), Dinner @ Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Spot Dessert Bar (Asian & American-style dessert).
-Monday 8/20: Breakfast to-go @ Ess-A-Bagel, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, Washington Square Park, Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, and Breads Bakery.
Definitely got to see a good amount of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, & Manhattan on this NYC trip! Both Clay and I felt like we were able to see everything that we wanted to see (Central Park for me and 9/11 Memorial Museum for him). We left feeling very satisfied with both the time that we had as tourists, as well as the time we had to spend with our friends.
Clay and I had the opportunity to explore Sacramento while on a trip to attend DK & Lauren's wedding in nearby Clarksburg. We arrived in Sac right at noon and headed straight to Tower Cafe, where I got to try their famous custard-soaked French toast per Lauren's recommendation! Clay ordered the Eggs Tower, their version of eggs benedict, his usual brunch choice. Afterwards, we got to check out some cool downtown murals and pick up some flavorful coffee at Temple, Sacramento's local coffee roaster. Since it was a pretty warm day, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon staying cool at the trendy and modern Kimpton Sawyer Hotel until it was time to head over to the Old Sugar Mill for the wedding celebration. We were so happy to witness DK & Lauren seal the deal after 8+ years of dating! Their wedding was so sweet, beautiful, and full of thoughtful details that characterized the both of them (i.e., a farmers market wedding favor stand, a shaved ice food truck that catered dole whip popsicles, and a first dance to "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"). After the wedding, we spent the night back at our hotel hanging out with Jeff & Kirstie, who we had booked the room with to share. The next morning, we had a lot of fun playing darts with them at Punch Bowl Social on the Kimpton's second floor, before we headed up to the third floor for a chill poolside hangout with the newlyweds! Our last stop in Sac before heading home was Gunther's, where the boys got ice cream cones and the girls got refreshing 50/50 fruit freezes.
During the first weekend of February, Clay and I went on our first out-of-state ski trip to Denver, Colorado with some of our friends from college. The seven of us stayed at an Airbnb in Silverthorne (where snowboarder Red Gerard lives!) and had planned to spend two days skiing and snowboarding that weekend. The first day, we went to Breckenridge Ski Resort, where I had decided to sign up for an adult beginner ski lesson (finally). This lesson was long overdue since I had switched from snowboarding to skiing last winter and gone on three different ski trips where I had unsuccessfully learned how to ski. Breckenridge ended up being the perfect ski resort for a newbie like me. It was very beginner-friendly with runs that were long, wide, and not too steep. At the beginning of the day, I did a test run and was placed in a Level 2 group class. I had a great instructor named Lee who helped me master all the Level 2 and several Level 3 skills by the end of the day. The lesson went from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Despite it being an all-day lesson, I was still able to spend time with Clay and the rest of our group during lunch (hooray for our walkie talkies!). I was also able to join them for the last two runs of the day after my class ended. The second day, we went to Vail Ski Resort, where I decided not to sign up for another lesson. Unfortunately, the green runs at the top of the mountain were still too steep and intimidating for me. Since they made me revert back to pizza-ing instead of doing my newly learned parallel turns, Clay and I moved to easier runs at the bottom of the mountain so that I could practice parallel-skiing for the rest of the day.
Even though I was super anxious leading up to this trip, it ended up being a good weekend. I was able to learn some basic techniques and build up my confidence as a novice skier. Of course, it was a lot of fun to go with our group of friends and hang out with them at the end of each day. On our last day, we all got brunch in Denver at Four Friends Kitchen and spent an afternoon at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science until we had to check-in to our evening flight. After we returned home, Clay and I really enjoyed watching the 2018 Winter Olympics together. The U.S. teams rocked the snowboarding competitions this year! It was so much fun to watch Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, & Shaun White each win their Olympic gold medals.
Anyway, above are some pictures from our day at Vail. And below is a GoPro video that Clay made from both of our days at Breckenridge and Vail.
For my spring break this year, Clay and I were originally hoping to organize a backpacking trip to Havasu Falls in Arizona. But let's just say we were very, very sad and bummed out when our group was not able to obtain permits during the beginning of February. With that said, we switched gears and decided to plan a weeklong trip to Miami and Key West, Florida so that we could still visit Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and Everglades National Park. (Feel free to check out my blog posts about each of those national park visits!) Anyway, for this post, I specifically wanted to share some photos of our time spent in Miami and Key West. Below, I've also written an overview of all the places we visited & activities we did! Hopefully, if you're ever interested in going, this can help you in your trip-planning!
During this trip, Clay and I discovered Miami to be one of our new favorite U.S. cities that we have traveled to! We just loved so many things about it: the variety of food, abundance of nature (and national parks), beautiful beaches, richness of art and culture, fun nightlife, and overall laid-back subtropical vibe. We'd very much like to go back to Miami some day and also see more of Florida in general. There are just too many options...maybe next time we'll visit Gainesville (where Clay was born)...or Orlando (I've never been to Disney World before!!)...or swim with the manatees at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River. I want to do all of these things on my Florida bucket list!
This year, Clay signed up to attend SXSW (an annual conference held in Austin for film, music, design, and interactive media) for work during mid-March. Since neither of us had been to Texas before, I decided to fly out to Austin a few days later to join him! We both knew that Clay needed to attend back-to-back conference sessions all day, so spending time together was going to be a little tricky. I was pretty prepared to explore Austin on my own during the daytime. Luckily though, we were still able to coordinate so that we could spend time together before, after, and sometimes in between his sessions. One morning, we were able to get breakfast tacos together at Torchy's Tacos on South Congress (SoCo). He took a Fasten ride downtown and I ended up walking up SoCo (lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants!) to meet him downtown for a quick lunch at Gordough's Donuts. Another day, we were able to rent bikes so that we could make it to Micklethwait Craft Meats (for some brisket and jalapeno cheese grits!) during the one hour we had in between his morning and afternoon session. Afterwards, I took a nice long walk from downtown to Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool, where Clay was easily able to bike to when he finished his afternoon session. The rest of that day, we made very good use of our bike rentals. We were able to bike from Barton Springs/Zilker Park to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery (a community paint park), swing by the Texas state capitol building, stop by South Congress Bridge for the bat viewing around sunset, and down SoCo to reach our dinner destination at South Congress Cafe. Overall, I was really glad that during our time in Austin, (a) Clay could enjoy his work conference, (b) I could get some much-needed time for myself, and (c) we could both get a good taste of the city of Austin together.
Some notes about Austin: For food, definitely go for breakfast tacos, BBQ, Tex-Mex, and food trucks/stands. They also have a bunch of hip/modern restaurants that bloggers rave about. For outdoors, people often visit Barton Springs (outdoor swimming pool) and Zilker Park. Some other outdoor spots we wanted to visit but did not get to see were: Hamilton Pools, Mount Bonnell, Barton Creek Green Belt (a less-monitored swimming hole), and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. On this note, I'd recommend going during late spring or summer for more swimming-friendly weather! Of course, plan to spend time on South Congress Avenue and downtown. If you are seeking some nightlife or spots to chill/drink downtown, you can go to 6th St. or Rainey St (where historic bungalow-style homes have been turned into restaurants and bars). Austin also has a couple of quirky spots like HOPE Outdoor Gallery and the Cathedral of Junk that may be interesting to visitors. It has a ton of well-known murals scattered around the city (i.e., i love you so much @ Jo's Coffee) . And one last random fact: Austin is home to the first original Whole Foods.
Just capturing as I go.