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USA

Seattle Day 1: Weekend Getaway

One of my biggest work deadlines of the year is always on September 15 so I was really excited when we booked a trip for a long weekend in Seattle for the very next day. Alex and I arrived at the airport in time for a mimosa and my usual morning Coke.

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The flight was about four hours and just as we were coming into Seattle, I looked out and saw what I assume was Mt. Rainier right outside the window. I don't recall ever flying that close to a mountain that high before.

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We arrived in Seattle and picked up our rental car, a silver Toyota Forerunner, and headed from the airport to downtown. We rented a condo a couple of blocks off the waterfront. It was very blue.

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It was early evening by the time we reached the apartment so we cleaned up a bit then walked down to the waterfront for dinner. We strolled along the boardwalk for several blocks.

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We arrived at Elliot's Oyster House right on the water and were seated at a table on the patio (next to a heater for Alex) with a nice view of the harbor.

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The server recommended a selection of oysters for us.

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They clearly labeled each kind for us to still forget later.

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And we added some mussels to the mix. Both the mussels and the oysters were fresh and tasty.

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For entrees, we split an order of scallops in a red pepper risotto. These were not good at all. The scallops didn't have a good sear, the risotto was dry and clumpy, and the red pepper sauce just didn't go with the dish.

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I thought I'd try again with dessert and ordered strawberry shortcake with pound cake but the cake was dense and dry.

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We left the safety of cover and a heater to walk the mile back to our condo and discovered it was very cold and very windy. I had planned to take a ride on the ferris wheel before ending the evening but Alex was cold and tired and promised a raincheck.

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So in order to stay warm and avoid climbing up a giant hill, we called an Uber to take us that mile back to the condo. When we got back, we saw that Thursday night football was on at Belltown Pizza, a neighborhood bar next door to the condo. We stopped in to watch the rest of the game and have a drink. This would become our daily ritual.

Posted by zihuatcat 23:06 Archived in USA Tagged alex seattle Comments (0)

Sedona Days 4-5: Canyon by Foot

OK so we weren't really exploring a canyon and we weren't totally on foot. The title is a stretch but it fit in with the other two days so I went with it. We checked out of our cabin this morning and I wanted to do some shopping at Tlaquepaque shopping center. It's pronounced Tuh-lack-ee-pack-ee which is fun to say and makes me smile. We hit some of the jewelry stores and I bought a gold bracelet as well as the Christmas store for a javelina-themed ornament in honor of the wild ones we saw on our Jeep drive.

Afterwards we drove down the road to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a church built into the red rocks with a breathtaking view. It was originally commissioned to be built in Budapest but when WWII broke out, plans were moved to the current location.

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We did have to hike up a large, steep hill to enter the chapel (hence the "by foot") and see the view.

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This was our last stop in Sedona before leaving for Phoenix where we planned to spend two nights before flying home on Sunday. We stopped at the outlet mall and a few stores on the way to Phoenix. When we arrived, a friend of mine from home texted me to tell me we should consider changing our flight. Apparently a winter storm was headed towards Dallas and would arrive on the day we were scheduled to fly home. I called the airline and they were allowing free changeovers so we took advantage. We picked up some sushi from a nearby place for dinner and then left out early the next morning for our new flight. It turned out to be the right decision as the morning after we landed a snowstorm came through and grounded all flights for several days.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:44 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sedona Day 3: Canyon by Air

Early to bed usually means early to rise and we were up fairly early the next morning for our road trip to the Grand Canyon. We drove through Oak Creek Canyon, a beautiful, winding drive through the mountains, with snow and ice on the ground in many places. We stopped just outside the park at an air facility so that we could board our helicopter for the flight through the Canyon.

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There were eight of us plus the pilot onboard and they seated us according to weight distribution. Alex and I were in the back behind the pilot.

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We flew out over the treetops until we could see the Canyon peaking out then flew through it for some spectacular scenery.

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We reached terra firma again and I wanted to drive to the Canyon rim itself for a ground level view. We stopped off at one of the first viewpoints in the park.

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I would have liked to walk along the rim trail for a bit but Alex was pretty cold so we decided to drive instead. We stopped off at the General Store where I bought my usual Christmas ornament and a t-shirt then drove a few miles to the Bright Angel trailhead. I got out and took some pics from the top of the very steep, very icy trail. This is the same trail that people use to ride mules down into the canyon floor which is something I've always wanted to do in theory. Reality took care of that for me!

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Before leaving the park completely, we had a picnic with the leftover burritos from the night before. They were surprisingly good leftover and cold! On the way back to Sedona we stopped off in Flagstaff at a few stores for Alex then headed back to relax for a while before our dinner reservations.

Dinner that night was at Mariposa, a beautifully lit restaurant high up on a hill just outside of town. We started off with the scallops and mussels with white wine, garlic, and chorizo.

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For our meals, I had steak with chimichurri sauce and a side of au gratin potatoes.

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Alex had the fish of the day.

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The food was incredible, especially the broth the mussels were in. Alex raved so much about it to the waiter that he got himself invited back to the kitchen. It was late when dinner was done so we returned to our cabin and called it a night.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:40 Archived in USA Tagged arizona sedona alex Comments (0)

Sedona Days 1-2: Canyon by Land

After almost a year of dealing with the COVID pandemic, this trip was my first time back on a plane in a year and a half. And this time it would be with my new boyfriend, Alex. Milestones!

We left Dallas on a morning flight and arrived in Phoenix at 1030a local time. After picking up the rental car and stopping off for a snack, we made the roughly two hour drive north to Sedona. The closer we got to Sedona, the more beautiful the scenery and then we got our first glimpses of the red rocks this area is known for. We arrived at our cabin which was only a couple of blocks off a main roundabout in town.

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It was over for Alex as soon as he sat down on the couch. He was immediately asleep (I had slept the entire flight). While he napped, I went to the grocery to get a few supplies and picked up a pizza from Famous Pizza.

After going to bed early, we woke up the next morning much more rested and ready for the day. We picked up our Jeep rental from Red Rock Rubicon which came fully equipped with trail maps already programmed into the GPS. All we had to do was select one and set off. We spent the next few hours in 4WD on the trails, alternating who got to drive.

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We had our fill of bouncing all over the Jeep so we hit the concrete to Cottonwood, a small town about 20 miles away. Alex wanted to drop in a few stores there for work and it was supposed to be a pretty drive. We stopped at a gas station on the way to get a drink and he got some dining recommendations from a cop stopped there as well. After we did our shopping, we tried out one of his recommendations which was burritos at BombAZ Grill.

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They were big enough that we saved half to eat later. We returned to Sedona and dropped off our Jeep. I was sad to see it go. Every time I go on vacation and rent a Jeep I decide I want to buy one at home. I never do though. We'd worn ourselves out driving all day so we spent the rest of evening watching some TV and relaxing.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:37 Archived in USA Tagged arizona sedona alex Comments (0)

Santa Fe: Work Made Fun

I don't travel much for work but occasionally I travel somewhere for a conference and this was just such a trip. I thought I'd invite my friend, Brenda, to tag along because I knew she could amuse herself and it would make my free time much more fun. We decided to go a day early and stay a day late. Brenda battled torrential rains to fly from Houston to Dallas where we met at the gate for our flight to Santa Fe. After some breakfast, we boarded our very empty flight and took off.

Once landing in Santa Fe, we picked up the rental car then made our way to Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument for a little hiking. This park is known for its cone-shaped formations made by volcanic eruption some six or seven million years ago. We did a relatively easy three mile hike thru the slot canyons, enjoying the scenery along the way.

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We left there and drove the short drive to Santa Fe, checking into the El Dorado Hotel. It was quite cold and windy but we braved the weather to walk across the way to Casa Chimayo for dinner. We started with sangria and a delicious guacamole with sweet corn relish. For dinner, we had the red chile stacked enchiladas which were very good.

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After dinner, we went back to the hotel and crashed, tired after a long day of traveling and hiking.
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The next couple of days I had to attend my conference all day long. Brenda entertained herself by going shopping and visiting the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. On Thursday, we had a terrible dinner at Wine Bistro where I ate burned crab cakes and Brenda had a not-so-good shrimp salad. We ended the evening in the hotel hot tub. That evening we got a light snow.

On Friday, I met Brenda for lunch at Santa Fe Bite where we split a green chile cheeseburger and onion rings. After my conference was over, we walked around the plaza, looking thru the shops that were still open. Most were closed because it was the end of the day and not high tourist season. We had dinner reservations at Eloisa, a restaurant in the sad-looking Drury Inn. It had great recommendations, however, so we gave it a shot.

We sat at the Chef's counter which was fun to watch them prepare the food before it went out. We started with a hamache crudo.
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I had the blue corn crusted elk with local cookies and ice cream for dessert.
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Brenda had the scallops in a curry sauce and a chocolate dessert.
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We wandered back to the hotel and stayed up late talking, laughing, and drinking Strongbow.

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We had a little time before our flight left on Saturday afternoon so we decided to explore Canyon Road which is the arts district of Santa Fe. We had red chile breakfast burritos at Gecko Cafe before exploring the various art galleries and installations.

A greyhound made of metal.
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We made our way to the airport where security was a mess and the flight was overbooked. They were bumping people from the small plane due to weight restrictions. While there, I ran into one of Mike's doctors from Dallas who was also on our flight. Luckily, we were not bumped and we made the flight home.

Posted by zihuatcat 23:45 Archived in USA Tagged santa fe brenda Comments (0)

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