Back in the Saddle

Or: Yeaaaaah, Buddy: Kicking Off My Quarter Life Crisis

So, my dear non-existent readers, the prodigal writer returns. Back, and more full of mid-twenties angst, student loan debt, overpriced lattes, and red wine than ever.

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Let’s do this.

Times like this call for a quick life catch up, just so we all get the full effect of what we’re dealing with here, before I jump into a series of what’s likely to be poorly executed recipes, attempts at DIY, and botched travel blogs.

Since last we spoke in March 2015…

  • I took an amazing marketing job at a winery – never has there been a better fit
  • I moved home for a hot minute to save for grad school – suffice it to say, this was an excellent decision, yet not one I intend on repeating
  • I started grad school – more on this, probably one of the best choices I’ve ever made
  • I moved out of the house, and into an apartment with A and Gwen
  • I took a life changing week and a half long trip to Milan for exploring and international business workshops through my MBA program – see grad school notes
  • Que Quarter Life Crisis, introspection and a LOT of wondering what I want out of life (and how to get it, once I figure it out)
  • A & I decided to go our separate ways
  • I bought a lot of self help books and wine, started looking for a very patient therapist, and started my “before I’m 30” list

SO….there’s that.

The ins and outs of my breakup are between A & I, but I will say that he’s a wonderful human being in every way, and I think we both have a lot of room to grow and learn.

How do I even move forward with this? 

Basically, expect no schedule, posts of varying frequency and quality, and a complete hot mess.

But I’m back, you beautiful SOBs.

excited

Cheers,

GAW

 

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Winter Emergency Kit

Or: Oh, the weather outside is weather…

Okay, let’s get real…we both know I’m a subpar/inconsistent blogger, but we also know you don’t want to read crappy “OH GOD I JUST NEED TO WRITE SOMETHING” content. I THINK THIS IS A GOOD COMPROMISE.

Anyways…

It’s the first (official) day of winter, and though California winters are not a big deal in the least, I want to equip my home/vehicle with necessary emergency accoutrements for the winter season. Lord knows we need the snow/rain/sleet/precipitation/anything? So, if our rain dances, prayers and pleas continue to be answered and we get more weather, I won’t complain….but I will protect myself against the potentiality of it, dammit.

Since, I make regular ski trips to the nearby slopes, so this kit will probably just live in my car in perpetuity (or until I dig out all the good snacks…whichever comes first).

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Without further ado…here are the contents of my homespun winter vehicle emergency kit…

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  • Snow Chains (not pictured above)
  • 2 cans of pop-top chili
  • A couple of Clif Bars
  • A huge tub of trail mix
  • Bottled water (not pictured)
  • Flashlight (mine is battery free-charges by being wound)
  • Multi-tool (mine isn’t Leatherman brand, but obviously that’s a perfect fit)
  • Extra socks, mittens/gloves, hats, jacket, pants (anything that you can fit)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Hand & Toe Warmers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tissues/Toilet Paper
  • Cleaning Wipes

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So, there’s really no super intense step by step here, other than to say, that there’s a fine line between preparing for an emergency and completely over preparing…and I’m pretty sure I did the latter. BUT in my mind – better safe than sorry!

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Most of this stuff I got at Target, or I already had (first aid kits, snow chains, giant tub). Total, we spent about $60, but that included $30 on a pre-packed vehicle kit specifically (Made by AAA – jumper cables, reflectors, tire gauge, etc – not pictured.)

As I mentioned earlier, I drive up to snowy areas quite a bit, which is the reason I carry snow-prep stuff, but depending on where you live (flooding issues, wind, etc) you can definitely adjust the contents to suit your needs!

So, I also keep non-clumping clay based kitty litter in the trunk of my car. IT’S NOT THAT WEIRD, I SWEAR. I did a bit of research, because a couple of years ago my car got stuck in snow, and 5 of my lovely friends and I who were on the trip together had to dig it out. It might have helped if we had something to throw down that would have given the tires some traction! Of course, salt is overall better as it will both melt snow AND create traction, but there are some environmental impacts associated with winter salt usage  – here’s more info so you don’t think I’m completely crazy.

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Are you excited for winter? How do you prepare yourself/house/vehicle for inclement weather?

Stay safe — happy holidays!

xo,

G.A.W.

G.A.W. Travel: We Went to Portland!

Or: There & Back Again: A Roadtripper’s Tale

 So, A and I took a roadtrip, and it was amazing/exhausting/awesome…let’s call it amaustsome.

Bloggers note: I’ve decided to not even waste your time addressing my absence, and instead just jump into my awesome adventure.

I had been thinking it was about time for us to have a little escape from the daily grind, and A has this not-so-secret interest in the fine city of Portland. So, we hatched a plan to drive North to the hipster capitol of the world City of Roses and enjoy the sights along the way.

We were in Portland for less than 24 hours, but I’m telling you, I’m already in love with it. The sights, the sounds, the smells (good and not so awesome); they all come together to make this perfect big city/small town feel love child.

We took off early as hell on Friday morning a week or two ago, and drove in an upwards direction, stopping off in Redding, CA for a much needed big ass breakfast at Deja Vu.

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Bearded A, flanneled up and prepared for Portland

The service was amazing, and the food was even better. I had a mushroom omelet with a big warm cup of tea, and A had a breakfast scramble with a peach smoothie. It was perfect road tripping food, as we didn’t really have to stop for food for the rest of the trip! They also have a little cafe attached to the full restaurant where they serve coffee and tea drinks to go as well as a host of delicious looking pastries.

I’ve neglected to mention that at this time, I had a full on monster head cold, and A being the champion that he is, dealt with my sneezy, nose blowing, whiney, tea drinking, omg-please-stop-I-have-to-pee self. In the car. For 12 hours. The man is a saint.

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We took turns driving  – I took the first and last portions of the trip, and A drove the majority of the middle – i.e. the really pretty, but otherwise fairly boring bits – sorry, babe. Along the way, not far North of Redding we drove past the beautiful monstrosity that is Mt. Shasta. Obviously, I took about 2 million photos, but here’s my personal favorite…

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I’ve been told that one of the ideal places to view Mt. Shasta is from McCloud which is this really picturesque town south of the mountain, but this picture was taken just north of Weed, CA, so you try telling me that this isn’t a great view.

There are so many gorgeous sights throughout this particular drive – A really enjoyed the sights between Lake Shasta and Medford, OR, as there were tons of gorgeous trees and hills full of lush green leaves, in addition to the autumn colors present. It almost felt like miniature New England in some spots.

We, of course, stopped off in Grant’s Pass at the Grant’s Pass Caveman – I couldn’t help it. I’m a sucker for a good roadside attraction, and there are few things that scream roadside attraction better than a gigantic fiberglass caveman.

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#Twinsies

After Grant’s Pass I don’t remember much, as I was in a bit of a sleep induced blur. We stopped a couple of hours outside of Portland, and I took the wheel once more, and completed our ascent into Portland.

We stayed at the Hotel Vintage Plaza in Downtown Portland – perfect for walking around everywhere as we did both that night and the following day. The room was perfect – comfortable, with lots of great little amenities, plus wine tasting in the lobbying the evenings, coffee/tea in the mornings, awesome friendly staff and a pretty great restaurant (Pazzo Ristorante) that provides room service!

We arrived, checked in, and went up to our room for a quick rest, refresh and RedBull (the 3 R’s, obvi), before heading out to check out some of the local bars and restaurants!

I (true to form) did a bit of research before we left, and found out about these “pods” of food carts/trucks that are located around the Portland area (more info here).

As there was a bit of a wait at our first stop, we wandered around the neighborhood to find something to nibble on. Lo and behold we happened upon the Alder Street Food Cart Pod, and acquired what I can only describe as the best Lamb Gyro I’ve ever had in my life from the gyro stand on the corner of SW Alder & SW 9th. Seriously. The best. I wish I had a picture to show you, but A and I destroyed that thing. A giant gyro and a water to share and a baklava for A came out to $8. A steal!

Our next stop was one of A’s favorite places on the whole trip – the Multnomah Whiskey Library. This place doesn’t mess around – all of the servers are bartenders and are required to know their spirits. With a collection of 850 types of whiskey, plus gins, vodkas, and all manner of wines – it’s clear from quality of the service, food & drink that these folks know their stuff. We shared oysters and sipped on excellent drinks prepared by a mustachioed man in old school bartender attire. It was delightful – definitely worth the wait!

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We also visited Swine Bar (the bar portion of Swank & Swine) not far away from MWL, and greatly enjoyed the “Bacon Cheesecake” and a few delicious cocktails. Finally, we topped off the night with a glass of wine/Manhattan and a big slice of Tiramisu ordered from Pazzo Ristorante as room service! It was an excellent first night in Portland, albeit an incredibly long day!

The next morning, we bundled up and walked to a place we had heard LOTS about — Voodoo Doughnut! And let me tell you, it lived up to the hype.

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Mmmmm…..doughnut…

We also heard from one of the staff members at our hotel that Blue Star Donuts is the locals’ donut of choice. While I can’t speak to the validity of that, I checked out their website/instagram and they look equally legit. If we had more than 24 hours in Portland, you can bet we would have checked them out too!

Anyways, we took our giant pink box of donuts (in and of itself, the pink box is brilliant marketing; no less than 10 people over the course of the morning stopped A and myself to ask how close they were to Voodoo) and made our way to the Portland Saturday Market, where we walked along the river, enjoyed the scenery and checked out all the cool arts & crafts on display. There were lots of delicious looking food carts/trucks – coffee, cider, elephant ears, and all various types of cuisines, plus beer and cider tasting!

We so enjoyed strolling about Portland that morning – fall was in the air, and the streets weren’t too terribly busy at all. A great way to start the day!

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At that point, we checked out of our hotel, and drove out to check out Multnomah Falls, which is about 30-40 minutes East of Portland. This was the part of the trip that I would say, I was the most pumped up about. My mom and I had thought about visiting Multnomah on a previous trip, but weren’t able to due to timing constraints. Needless to say, the waterfall did not disappoint.

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I mean, come ON.

Like I said – it was amazing. 620 feet of gorgeous cascading water. The autumn colors. The salmon on their grind in the river. We asked some poor fellow-tourist to half lean off the bridge so that we could have this perfect cheese-tastic picture (I not-so-secretly adore it).

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I, of course, needed some sort of kitschy keepsakery from our time – so I ventured into the gift shop and emerged with a Christmas ornament and a huge jar of huckleberry jam for K (she’s hooked on it!).

The drive, BTW, between Portland and Multnomah is completely picturesque. Rolling hills, the lazy wind of the Columbia River Gorge; it’s breathtaking, and almost in and of itself makes the small trek worth it.

We made our way back to Portland, and ventured into Powell’s City of Books where we picked up a couple of fabulous autobiographies (A got Neil Patrick Harris’s Choose Your Own Biography and I picked up the majestic Amy Poehler’s Yes Please). I wish we would have had more time (and less hunger) to explore this store — a city block and 3 stories worth of reading material. It’s a book nerd’s dream.

For our final stop, we dropped in at Deschutes Brewery for a surprisingly remarkable burger and a beer, before hitting the road back home. But I’m serious about the food – we were expecting mid-level pub/bar fare, and were pleasantly surprised with a couple of really solid burgers.

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“Books, Burgers, and Brews” – I think I’m so clever – Just kidding, it was all A’s genius.

Despite our original plan to drive halfway home, rest, and then take the rest of the drive Sunday, we went beast mode and drove the whole way back. A took the first leg while I napped, and then I, fueled by Red Bull and the fire of my general stubbornness (plus the desire to save the $50 we’d otherwise throw down on a sleep & run hotel), made the rest of the trip.

Honestly, we had such a blast – Portland left a huge positive impression on us both that we won’t soon forget. I know we’ll be back – perhaps via plane next time though, so we have more time (and less road).

I would love to hear about some of your favorite road trips! What went well, what was a disaster; share your stories!!

xoxo,

G.A.W.