Sunday, August 24, 2014

My All American Summer Roadtrip

Earlier this year I formulated a somewhat crazy plan, according to my friends. To me though it seemed normal, awesome, and as good a reason as ANY to take a ridiculous roadtrip! The plan all started because my favorite Braves Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Bobby Cox were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I've always wanted to go to Cooperstown for induction weekend so this was the best time to go when 3 Braves were being inducted.

Then, my awesome friends HB & MT (of Zimbabwe wedding fame) were holding their stateside reception the weekend after the HOF Induction in Ohio. So one weekend in NY for baseball, the next weekend in Ohio. It made zero sense to me to do that in 2 trips, and since I had just bought a new car, I decided to go on my first roadtrip with Rex (my car)!

Here's a brief overview of what went down, with blog posts to follow soon :)

Days 1-2: Driving up to Cooperstown
Day 3: Cooperstown, visited the Museum, ate pizza, wandered, saw famous ball players
Day 4: Induction Day!
Day 5: Drove to Niagara Falls and took in the sights
Day 6: Niagara Falls & walked to Canada because I could
Day 7: Drove to Cleveland, went to the Rock & Roll HOF, watched an Indians game
Day 8: Drove to Detroit, went to a Tigers game, and ended the day in Toledo
Day 9: Toledo and friends, and fun, and relaxation, and false starts at a tennis game
Day 10: Actually played tennis this time, and evening reception
Day 11: Drove home and remained sad about fun being over but excited that my new job would be starting the next day

I'll write more about each section of this adventure but here's the overview!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Stadium #13: Miller Park

When I was planning my trip to Chicago to see the Braves play the Cubs, it was really expensive to fly back home but reasonably priced on the way up. So I looked into alternatives to fly home from and Milwaukee was the winner. The Brewers were home that weekend so I was able to add #13 to my list.

On Sunday of my baseball weekend I took the Megabus from Milwaukee to Chicago for a whopping $12. It was a very easy ride to get up there. The bus dropped off in downtown so I was able to walk to my hotel. Very convenient! Milwaukee is very walkable, clean, and seems like a pretty nice city.

The lady at the front desk of the hotel told me that the best way to get to the stadium was to go to the Milwaukee Brat House, order a brat & a beer, and take the free shuttle to/from the stadium. Seriously!? JACKPOT! So that is what I did!

brat & 2 beers, because you can't get just 1 (no really, you can't)

Miller Park!

The shuttle dropped us off literally right in front of the ballpark. It was SO convenient and easy! After the game I just hopped back onto the shuttle and bam, back to the brat house. So easy. I highly recommend using this tactic for a Brewers game! Plus I feel like beer, brats, and baseball might be Milwaukee's winning trio. 

Yay :) What a Braves-y weekend!

Miller Park from my seats in the rafters

Pretty good views though & shaded with the roof open. The park is new and doesn't have a lot of soul, but it was a nice experience. The roof was interesting, it just opened and closed periodically throughout the game. I saw the Brewers play (and whoop) the Cardinals so that was exciting. Also it was the Sunday before the All-Star game so they honored the several Brewers who made the team which was great to see. And I just like to see the Cardinals lose!

Evidence of my presence. Yay baseball!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Stadium #12: Wrigley Field!

Research showed me that the Braves were playing in Chicago on a beautiful weekend in July... so I decided to go! I (very easily) convinced my friend JY to come with me to the games and she was kind enough to let me crash at her house. Let the baseballing commence!

Wrigley!

I'm just going to say it - Wrigley is great. It's tight, and close quarters, but it's got that old soul that I love about baseball. It's a great place to watch a ballgame. Pretty much everyone is shaded and covered, which I can only assume is a product of the day game era. It was really nice though. Most modern ballparks are wide open with no shade, but I suppose most teams play night games now so it only sucks during a rare day game. 

Enjoying the game!


Also 2014 is Wrigley's 100th anniversary year. So I got to help celebrate that as well!

I have a personal theory about Wrigley. I don't think it's the Cubs that are cursed - I think it's the grounds they play on. Ever since Wrigley was built, the Cubs haven't won anything. They are one of the most well-loved teams with a massive fan base despite this too. I think it's Wrigley, but by no means do I suggest tearing it down! We need to preserve the historical playing grounds of baseball, especially since Wrigley & Fenway are the 2 surviving parks. 

Wrigley!

I suggest just taking the train to the stadium. It's super easy and there's a stop right up the street. Easiest way to get there! Getting out same thing, the train is right there. I love it when stadiums are accessible by public transportation. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What do I want?

If you read my blog regularly-ish then you may have seen my post about a non literal fork. Well I found my fork, but did I find myself?

I had grand plans for 2015, and boy was I excited. The possibilities were infinite!  And almost overwhelming. But more importantly, infinite. And as my self imposed deadline approached, I started to feel things. Excitement. Anxiety. Depression. Impatience. More excitement, followed by dread. Quiet nervousness. Desire for conflicting things. But mostly the excitement thing.

There has been a lot of inner turmoil to say the least.

So when I got a phone call that drastically altered my current options and my idea of the future simultaneously, I pursued it. Because after all, a big component of my grand 2015 plans was the desperate need for change.

I was stuck in a rut of unknowable proportions, and that one phone call was my tow chain out.

So in my pursuit of change, I have been incredibly successful. My career is thriving, which is what altered my plans to begin with. I found my fork and I think I chose wisely.

My choices the last few months have had a snowball effect though. Not only did I make a big life change (that whole career thing), but I've made loads of small ones leading up to this. I changed phone carriers, canceled a credit card with an unruly company and replaced it for one with better bonuses, ended a situation that I wasn't committed to, reconnected with some great people, and recommitted myself to travel. I also released myself of responsibility for things I cannot control, forgave myself for past mistakes, and became Switzerland in situations I cannot avoid.

I've been busy!

In all of this change I've started to reevaluate who I am. Turns out I'm a lot of things, most of them awesome (in my totally unbiased opinion of course). But if anyone is going to think I'm awesome, shouldn't it be me? Self worth and love are important. I'm really starting to discover myself in a way I never imagined. I'm resolving all the unresolved feelings I've kept hidden all these years while trying to seem strong and unbreakable.

But I am breakable. And I have feelings. After dealing with all that, I know what I want now. The whirlwind of change has actually brought me clarity, once I started to pay attention to that sneaky brain of mine. It's actually quite refreshing. I'm done playing by everyone else's rules, so it's time to put myself first and tear down anything standing in the way of my life rebuild. But I'm human, so naturally what I want is random and complex.

I am a woman of complicated and conflicting desires. I want both adventure and stability. I want all the fun and quiet nights in my own space. I want more outdoor activities and more hammock naps. I want travel and an excellent career. I want love and freedom. I want a lot of things but I want to go to bed happy every night too.

But most of all, I want my life's stories to be worth a book.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My favorite travel planning tools

I plan actual trips and dream trips constantly. I've always got an idea of where I want to go in the next 12 months, what the budget would be, how I would do it, and how much time I would need. I spend a lot of time dream planning these trips to entertain myself (and satisfy my wanderlust) and have a few trusty sites that I love. So here's my profession of love for technology that feeds my wanderlust!

1. Kayak.com
This website is awesome because you can search flights for the entire world, and it gives you a whole lot of airline options for flights. I primarily use this to plan international trips. You can do one way, roundtrip, etc and search multiple other flight search engines simultaneously. So you get a lot of results and price options. I have never bought a flight through kayak.com, but it's a great place to start pricing flights.

My second favorite feature is the kayak.com/explore aspect. You put in the airport you want to fly out of, and it gives you results for everywhere you can fly to from there. For example, if I put in my departure airport as JFK in New York, and my price limit as $600 it gives me a bunch of flights in-country as well as international. Turns out I can fly to Reykjavik (Iceland) for $560 in February 2015 or fly to Cusco (Peru) for $487 in September 2014 or San Jose (Costa Rica) for $423 in September 2014. These are all examples of many other results I got!

2. Google.com/flights
This website is helpful for flight searching in the States. This is my primary flight search tool in-country. It's really useful and as we all know, I do love Google.

3. Southwest.com
My favorite airline in the States is Southwest, hands down. So naturally this website would be my favorite. Fly Southwest, just do it, and don't be a dick in line.

4. TripIt
This is one I just started fooling with today but I absolutely love it. I'm planning 2 trips this month and have lots of reservation emails to juggle. This made it super super easy to keep it all straight. All I had to do was forward the confirmation emails to TripIt and the app sets it all up. It's awesome!! It made my reservation juggling quite easy. Use TripIt!

5. TripAdvisor.com
Useful for reviews on places / tours / hotels / etc. It is incredibly helpful for figuring out if one aspect of your potential trip is worth it or overrated because the reviews are very honest. It's also helpful for figuring out what to do in a destination if you don't have plans.