Monday, October 31, 2016

October 2016

Hope everyone had a fantastic October! Mine flew by quickly, as usual. So let's have at our recap:

October was a biggie for travel. Mr. UR and I did an epic, emptynestapalooza road trip of Northern California. We flew into San Francisco and did a circular route of the coast, including Monterey, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Wine Country and an evening in San Francisco with friends. We had a great time and visited some places we've been before and some new places. Lots of driving. And you can bet there will be lots on The Unpaved Road coming up about it soon.

Food was good on the road trip. We made the required stop at In N Out - yum! And we did some wine tasting in Wine Country. Friends had us over for a delicious dinner in the city. And we went to a family birthday party last weekend with shrimp, oysters, brats, calico beans and baked potato salad. So, needless to say, we ate well in October!

I managed to read a few books this month, especially on the plane rides to the West Coast. I really enjoyed 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson. This novel takes place in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal during World War II. It's a book within a book - the beginning of the story takes place currently and goes back in time to solve a mystery. Another book I read is Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray. Exactly as the title suggests, this book is about a young girl whose family runs a cafe in France and she becomes a cook for him at his villa. Also, taking place in the US, this book has a mystery involved. And the last book I read was non-fiction. From Mom to Me Again by Melissa Shultz is one mom's account of dealing with the empty nest - which hits close to home for me. It was interesting to hear her account of dealing with the empty nest - there are some good suggestions, probably none of which I haven't heard before. But it did make me laugh in parts and I felt I could connect with what she was saying.

So, there's October. 
How was your month? And how does November look?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

More Gulf Coast Sunsets - And the Green Flash!

The Gulf of Mexico is known for it's incredible sunsets.We spent a week in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida this past summer and were privy to some stunning Gulf Coast sunsets. I wrote about some southern Gulf Coast sunsets here and now I'm highlighting some from St. Pete Beach. We caught sunsets from Boca Ciega Bay, the Postcard Inn at St. Pete Beach, from the Brass Monkey bar and the beach at Pass-A-Grille - which is technically also St. Pete Beach. And we even caught a sunset before a storm on a sailboat on Boca Ciega Bay. 

On our last night of vacation we were hemming and hawing about getting to the beach to see the sunset. Finally, we said "Ok, let's go". We pulled up to the beach as a wedding was ending and the sun was just setting. As we were standing there watching it sink into the Gulf, my friend and I saw it. The Green Flash! About 3 seconds worth of green. I almost couldn't believe my eyes! If my friend hadn't seen it also, I might've thought that it didn't happen. But it did. And now I know that the green flash isn't a myth. It really happens! If you're a sunset watcher, I hope you get to see it someday, too.

How about you? Where was your most memorable or favorite sunset?

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Thousands of people and cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge - one of the bridges between Manhattan and Brooklyn - everyday. Some go from Brooklyn to their job in Manhattan - and vice versa. Many are tourists who enjoy walking across and viewing both cities while they do so. 

The bridge was opened in 1883 and spans the East River. Construction took 14 years and some 150,000 vehicles still cross it today. It's popularity to pedestrians is due to it's grand "promenade" or walkway for pedestrians that sits above the roadway. Pedestrians and cyclists don't have to deal with traffic and can walk the bridge at their leisure.

I've been to New York City a handful of times but I'd never walked across the bridge. So I decided to make it a priority on this trip. I'm definitely not a New York expert and there are gazillions of things you can look up and read on the world wide web about crossing the bridge. I read a bunch and then we made a plan. The views of Manhattan from the bridge are quite spectacular so we decided to start in Brooklyn and walk to Manhattan. We were staying in lower Manhattan so we took the East River Ferry from there ($4 and it took about 3 minutes total) to Brooklyn Bridge Park. We had a leisurely lunch at Shake Shack beneath the bridge and as we were eating the rain started coming down. When it stopped we said "Ok, let's do this. If it starts raining we can duck under cover until it stops." We were already there, so why not?

The sky was looking rather ominous on our short walk to the stairs to the bridge (it's a short and easy walk from Brooklyn Bridge Park - you can use GPS) But it wasn't raining when we started the walk.

Well, of course, you can guess what happened next. Not a few minutes into our walk the skies opened up and by the time we arrived at the first bridge tower we were soaked and sloshing in our shoes. Forget the "duck and cover" theory. So we waited around under the tower and when it finally let up a tiny bit, we kept going. 

One thing was for sure - we had the bridge almost completely to ourselves!

We made our way across the bridge and walked back to our hotel. A little more wet than when we started but I'm glad we did it. I've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. And the rain sure make it more unusual than some walks across it.

And just for giggles, here's a before and after!

How about you? Have you walked the Brooklyn Bridge?

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Travel Blog Party!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chihuly at The Atlanta Botanical Garden

Last week I put my youngest daughter on a plane in Atlanta bound for Korea - well, I didn't really put her on the plane but you get my gist - where she is moving for the next year. And while I am proud of her, and excited for her, to say I am a bit worried would be a great understatement. To make matters worse, her visa process was a bit hairy. And Hurricane Matthew was barreling towards the southeastern US and expected to make landfall around the time of her flight. So since she had a 6am flight, and the roads and hotels would be filled with evacuees, we decided to drive to Atlanta a day early and spend the night. And lo and behold, there was a Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens that was finishing up it's stay. We really needed to go see it then, didn't we?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dale Chihuly and his artwork, he is a glass sculptor. Or should I say "the glass sculptor". According to the Chihuly website, he studied at the University of Wisconsin and then started the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he then taught for several years. He then went on to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice where he learned the team approach to blowing glass. Which he still uses today. In 1971 he founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State where he has developed glass as a fine art. His works of art have been included in more than 200 museums worldwide. And the Atlanta Botanical Garden hasn't had a Chihuly exhibit since 2004. And a Botanical Garden seems to be the perfect place to exhibit his works.

I had only seen one Chihuly, as they are called, in person and that was a chandelier in an art museum. So it was a real treat to visit the gardens and see them in all their glory on a warm and sunny fall day in Atlanta. The sun shining on them made it extra special. And I developed some personal favorites right away while strolling the grounds.

And if you would like, you can pay the entrance fee again and see the gardens lit up at night. We didn't as we had to get up at 3am to go to the airport but I am sure it is a sight to see.

The exhibit closes on October 31st so if you would like to see it you still have time.  Not much, but some. Or you can always visit the permanent Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in Seattle next to the Seattle Space Needle. It's on my list for my next visit to the Pacific Northwest. But until then I'm happy I made it to Atlanta. And my daughter made it safely to Korea. A mom is always gonna worry.

Keeping all those who got walloped by Hurricane Matthew in my thoughts and prayers - from the beaches of Florida, to the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia and the river towns of North Carolina.

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Party!