It’s been a minute….

Last time I tried to use this I wasn’t able to… I think I likely just needed to update my software.  It’s been so long since I’ve written I obviously forgot how. But this is therapy and right now, therapy is what I need, on the cheap.  On November 30th, my sweet Lilybear left this earth for the Rainbow Bridge.  She was 10.5 years old and had lost her battle with osteosarcoma. As one friend told me, “someone moved my cheese”.  Now I needed to learn how to cope.

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Lily’s Last Sunset

Let me back up a little. In May, I quit my job and the next week learned that a little lump on Lily’s back leg was cancer.  The week I had off between my old job and my new job, which I had joyfully allotted to getting my old Jeep Grand Wagoneer painted, running and surfing, was now a series of vet appointments and a surgery to amputate her leg. Fortunately, my new job was working from home and significantly less travel. Which meant the next six months, we spent nearly every day together and for that I am immensely grateful.

Lily handled the transition as if nothing had changed.  Other than one random walk we went on about two weeks after the surgery where she stopped abruptly, looked back at her hip, where there once was a leg, looked up at me with a serious WTF look and then moved on.  I’ve noted that and have made every effort to treat my own curve balls with the same level of contemplative acceptance while quickly moving on.

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Temporary Mode of Transport

It’s been about six weeks, I’ve tried to pack a ton of travel in and keep busy but I find myself lost. How do people without dogs start their days? I feel like I’ve lost my purpose and working from home without a pup is just plain lonely. I feel silly taking myself for walks and stalking the neighborhood dogs.  When my BF picked me up from the airport yesterday I was excited to see him but sadden because there wasn’t a wiggly butt to greet me.

I constantly scan Craigslist and Petfinder for that face that I just can’t say “no” to. Which is basically all of them, I am hoping to find a hypoallergenic “doodle-esque” mix (unsure if this is realistic). I am writing all of this to say, I’ve launched Chasing Strays so I can document our journey and maybe help others along the way.

~ happily,

kim

Best Birthdays Ever

So today is my birthday.  Kind of a dull one, to be honest, it fell on a Monday and I just returned from Havana (stories to come) and I’m home.  Now home is San Diego and it’s literally perfect out but it’s just lacks some of the appeal of years past. Growing up in Virginia my mom would get a bushel of crabs and beer and we would crack crabs and drink beers on the deck. It was pretty awesome.

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This was before I could have beer & crabs on my birthday. Lame.

Like last year… I flew to London for the Royal Ascot, we were in the Queen’s Enclosure (which is BALLER, you get to see the QUEEN OF ENGLAND) and it was awesome. But that was my Birthday Eve (yes, it’s a thing).  On my ACTUAL birthday, we had a private viewing of the changing of the guard from Wellington Barracks.  During the hour break (think they were at the other palace or something), our gracious host offers us wine, which leads to us dressing up in his uniforms and more wine and then he gives us a tour of his favorite pubs.  It was a great good day…and night.

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The shoes are standard issue…

My 26th birthday, which was basically just a year or two ago… I was on deployment, we were on our way home from Iraq and we pulled into AUSTRALIA!!!! Which is pretty much the most perfect place to spend a birthday at any age, but especially in your 20’s and especially after having been in Iraq.  I wish I could expand but I pretty much only remember that it was the best birthday ever. I am not even sure where the pictures are but just trust me…

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Palm Springs one year… YES….

Also, one year my bestie sent me a singing Lobster and one year she organized a pub crawl that was based on clues, so you had to FIGURE OUT WHICH PUB was next.  It was awesome.    Actually, my bestie is the reason I was invited to London so actually, I’m super grateful for such an awesome best friend!

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My Bestie & Me at the Royal Ascot

The sad part about today is it would have been my Grandma’s 98th birthday.  She passed a few years ago and I always miss her today.  Shout out to Grandma Lee.  I wish I drank Sherry I would have a glass for her tonight. But instead I’ll have a glass of wine.

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Some of my lovely girl squad.

But every year, I get together with my girls, have drinks (that water was because the real drinks had not arrived yet) and laughs and appreciate that I have another year to do whatever the hell I want and love every minute of it.  And I’ll Cheers to that!

~ happily,

kim

nola

We started going to New Orleans in college, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve and somehow it would be “on our way” to another destination and we would just stop in for the day/night. Back then Bourbon Street and Hurricanes were how I rolled. And I am so grateful that social media did not exist when my roommate shamelessly negotiated for whatever she desired with “five sets of titties” which was delivered in the classiest of voices of course.

My last trip to NOLA was right after Katrina. I helped my then boyfriend repair and clean his house after the storm.  I discovered Uptown (which is ironic because I now know, the couch we crashed on in the old days was Uptown/Garden District). I also had a crash course in the “real” New Orleans, one man described it to me in the slowest southern drawl I’ve ever heard as “the real Banana Republic”.  I wanted to believe he was a cynical old white man but there was a real crisis and no one seemed to be equipped or willing to fix it. A decade later, you can still see the damage she did.

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Royal Street

This trip was for work but I flew in early to soak up the South and see an old friend. I tried to run as much of it as I could bare (combination of humidity and hangovers has never been kind to me).  There were a few things I noted as the same – the French Quarter is the worst smelling place on earth. The locals have a real eye for color, a flamboyance that’s perfect, they make a mean bourbon drink and their food, albeit fried or covered in butter is on point. And there is music, good music, literally, everywhere. The woman below made that clarinet her bitch.

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The best music is always found in the streets.

I stayed in the Warehouse District, which for me was perfect because I was close to the convention center for work, the French Quarter for obligatory work fun, Uptown/Magazine Street for what I really liked and then actually within the Warehouse District there are some phenomenal places. Which I had NO idea when we booked, just love when that happens.

I do usually try to hit the top places but this trip, I just ran out of time. I never hit Commander’s Palace or Galatoire’s or Willie May’s Scotch House…I have a two week list of places that I would like to hit on my next trip.

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View of Louis Armstrong Park from breakfast at Mister Gregory’s…

Wait. It seems as if all I do in new places is eat…

Revelator Coffee – Cold Brew.

The Butcher – killer sandwiches, GREAT atmosphere (like Star Wars meats butcher), fun staff, good beer. Add to the list Cochon, which is the dinner arm or maybe the Butcher is the lunch arm, they are related somehow and amazing.  Remember that Cochon means pig, so if you are not into the swine, this is not your place to dine.  Yes, I see what I did there.

Luke – Grilled shrimp on jalepeno cheese grits. That is all. Also, it is beautiful old school New Orleans inside.

Bon Ton Cafe – red & white checkered table clothes, beautiful chandeliers and the friendliest staff. I went with Debbie’s Salad so that I could enjoy their famous bread pudding for dessert and yes, you will get a buzz from it.

So much food, you  could really eat your way through this city.  You need to burn it off, head over to Frenchmen Street (where the locals go for live music).  d.b.a, Blue Nile or The Spotted Cat.  I just loved The Spotted Cat, cash only, killer music, dancing, flat out insanity.

Lastly, talk to the locals. They have amazing stories and are literally the nicest people on earth.  New Orleans is such a great Southern city. I’ll be back…

~ happily,

kim

Music City, U.S.A

Nashville didn’t start off quite how I would have liked.  To be fair, I wanted to stay in Memphis and listen to music and drink beer at the Beale Street Music Festival, not wait out a thunderstorm and run a hilly Half Marathon.  I realize you’re thinking, didn’t you sign up for it?

Yes.

I also didn’t know I would be in Memphis during a music festival and also, I forgot about the humidity and the hills in Tennessee.

The good news is it was on a Saturday (kind of my jam, because then we can go have fun and sleep in/relax all day Sunday and then face the world refreshed on Monday).  The better news is, I was with my friend, Lori and we are pretty in sync when it comes to running, exploring, general outlook on life.  So after a lightning delay, we knocked it out so we could get on with our day!

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We don’t even have to plan to match. 

First stop, 12South, a trendy neighborhood near Lori’s house that we had visited for dinner  (the Flipside, which was super good flatten fried chicken with whatever “fixin” you could imagine, oh and it was adorably trendy inside) the night before.  We hadn’t really fully taken advantage of all it had to offer since we had her munchkins with us and a race in the morning.  We started off at Urban Grub for Bloody Mary’s and literally some grub, oh and also, we witnessed a double dog birthday party. No, not a double dog dare birthday party, but a birthday party for two dogs. The guests were all in pink, there were balloons, dog cakes, bubbly and the bartender kicked off a bar-wide Happy Birthday to the pooches. Not gonna lie, it was a tad over the top, even for this dog-lady but it gave  a bunch of strangers at the bar something in common to chat about so we instantly had a half-dozen new friends.  Then mozied down to Draper James, Reese’s shop (Weatherspoon, keep up) which was adorable but not really my style.  I think I’m just a little too Southern California to rock that look, I guess you can take the Virginia out of the girl (unless the girl has too much bourbon and then you can at least hear it in her voice).

Jumped in an Uber and off to some Honky Tonks!!!  It seems a little like a mini-Vegas when you get down to Broadway and see them all lined up.  So we naturally picked the oldest, most low key of them all, that also happen to have a man singing that sounded like George Jones; so basically perfect, The Wheel (no website).  Everyone was friendly, the beer was ice cold and the music was fantastic.  We stayed until we were drunk enough for me to go next door and buy red cowboy boots (I heard this was a family tradition, I am unsure if this is true but I am not one to break tradition).

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In case, you too need a pair of red cowboy boots. * they have other colors…

We decided we should hit at least one more, so off to Tequila Cowboy. A bit more touristy, mainstream but a ton of fun and great music.  We danced and sang and had a great time. So glad that race was on a Saturday because I’m going to need tomorrow to recover! We may have hit a few more but the details get blurry…

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Might of had a crush on the one on the left…

Sunday was a nice hike, some time with the kiddos and an early flight back to San Diego. I love this city and am already thinking about my next trip, Dixie Chicks or some music festival in September…I really need a reason to wear my red cowboy boots!

~ happily,

kim

TCB in Memphis

As soon as I land in the South something happens to me. Before I even speak, I notice that my thoughts are suddenly coming through with a Southern accent.  It’s bizarre and I can’t explain it.  Now this was completely a work trip, I land and one of my favorite customers picks me up from the airport. I knew we had BBQ and blues on the agenda for the evening before our meetings in the morning…but there was a surprise in store for me.

ELVIS.

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Elvis at Graceland *stole from internet, I did not actually take this picture …

I was so excited I couldn’t even believe we were going!  And at the absolute best time, off season, the last tour of the day, it wasn’t crowded at all.  First of all, Graceland is actually quite beautiful, I think maybe I thought it would be cheesy or overdone but it really was not. The grounds were immaculate and the house quite modest for someone of Elvis’ social status (and audacious fashion sense).  The jungle room and his TV/bar room downstairs were a bit ridiculous but I mean, basically a man-cave by today’s standards.  What I did not know is that the family still uses the top floor and they have dinners at the dining room (which is downstairs).  So you can really only see the ground floor, basement and grounds. Oh, and his cars (you can see his planes too but we skipped them)…his cars are just so incredible!!! Also, I learned a few things about Elvis and have a new found respect for the man who was Taking Care of Business. TCB.

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My favorite room in the house.

Next stop Beale Street.  I was a little surprised when I saw folks carrying giant open beers walking down the street. But no open container law as long as you are on Beale Street and live music in every single place. We headed into B.B. King’s for BBQ and blues of course! I am not the biggest BBQ person, it’s a lot of meat and I tend to be more of a fruits and veggies girl…I’m not a vegetarian, it’s just not my favorite food. And ribs have never been my thing, but when in Rome… Yea, I ate BBQ and listened to the Blues and I LOVED it.

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BB King’s

Then down the street, which seemed a little Bourbon Streety and a lot of the places, just too touristy for me. We walked the entire street until I settled on the Blues Hall, the last Real Juke Joint. Now I had never even heard the term “juke joint” but this place seemed like the real deal.  It seemed to have more locals than tourists and the band was unreal. It was also the only place that had a woman performing and she had PIPES.  She did a cover of Prince’s Purple Rain that brought down the house. My only complaint…cigarette smoke.  I couldn’t last and I wanted to run on the river in the morning, so it was an early night.

I had planned to run solo but Chuck said that Memphis can be dangerous, honestly, he’s from Tennessee so I took his word for it but I didn’t see anything alarming.  We did a nice easy run along the water, actually knocked out some work and then took off on our road trip to Nashville. More about Tennessee to come…

~ happily,

kim

Kennebunk…back to Maine

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Decisions….

Found myself in Maine again and running another marathon.  The Ship Yard Maine Coast Marathon, which is by far the smallest marathon I’ve ever run. Only 850 runners! I must admit I was terrified I would be last or running by myself.  Neither happened of course, but I did learn that running in Maine is not for the faint at heart.  Original forecast was rain, we were lucky to have a dry day but the wind was unbelievably strong and it was much too cold for me to enjoy the free Shipyard beer at the finish.  Keep in the mind, the locals were having no problem.  For such a small event, the race was run incredibly well and I would highly recommend it for anyone that likes a smaller race or maybe that’s trying to knock some states off their marathon list. I think I figured out that this was #8 for me. Some people take this pretty seriously, I really care more about the route and the course support than anything else.  This course included the Wedding Cake House  and Walker Point (the entire area is stunning).

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Beautiful morning in Kennebunkport, ME

Now about the town!!! Love it. I didn’t get in until late, so it was straight to bed. I woke up early and went for a walk on Saturday morning and found a cute coffee shop that seemed to be a locals spot, Dock Square Coffee.  Within minutes I’ve made friends with a man that knew everyone in the coffee shop, Hans.  He was a retired Navy Seal and had lived in San Diego years ago. He gave me a list of places to see/try and his phone number in case I needed anything while in town. Love this guy.  So after walking around and doing a little shopping in the town. I headed off to Cape Porpoise to see the Goat Island Light House, which reminded me of the lighthouse from Moonrise Kingdom.  You really need a boat to see it well and it was the end of the day and off season so I was out of luck but I did get to see it and fought off the temptation to have drinks at the Ramp (which I will on my next trip).

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Goat Island Light House

I headed back to Kennebunkport and had dinner at Salt & Honey,  after a recommendation from a local that has a photography gallery in town, he said the chef was amazing and to ignore the terrible building it was in. Glad I had a chat with him because the food was great and I would have never gone in if someone hadn’t recommended it!  It was off to bed early for me, I’ve gotta run in the morning. Discipline is a bitch.

The next morning I saw Hans and his wife in the morning cheering for us and of course said hi, excited to know a local!  After the race, we stopped in for snacks at H.B. Provisions (a very local spot, as they say, if they don’t have it, you don’t need it!) and then took long naps. I had made my way down Hans’ list of places the day before and really only had two left. We headed down to Hurricane’s for happy hour and who do we run into?!? Hans and his wife. I love this town. Of course, we join them for drinks and chat about travel, life in the military and food.  Hurricane’s was a beautiful restaurant, excellent service, fabulous martini’s and if we hadn’t had reservations at what was described as the best restaurant ever, we would have stayed for dinner!  Steak was on the brain so off we headed to On the Marsh. Of course, the maitre d, John, de knew Hans and took great care of us.  The food was excellent! But I think it was the ambiance and the company that just made it a spectacular evening.  There’s something about small towns, you walk in for coffee or a glass of wine on your own and run into everyone you know. I love that and continue to find myself wishing that San Diego was more like this. Or maybe I should move to Maine…

~ happily,

Kim

Minneapolis

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Just wandering around…

This week I made a quick trip to Minneapolis for work, this is only my second time visiting Minnesota and somehow both trips were in the winter.  Considering this time was a solid 70 degrees warmer, yes, it was -39 the last time I was there I couldn’t have been happier. I still wore significantly more clothing than the locals and pretty much shivered the entire time, but in my book, it was a win.

The sun didn’t really make an appearance but that didn’t stop the city from having a St Patty’s Day Parade, at 7PM!!! It’s windy and freezing and there are cheerleaders and floats. I found myself thinking, I love this city.  Let’s join the festivities and go for a pint! Of course, I had zero patience for the lines at the Irish pubs, so we went to a British one…I am not sure anyone cared, it was still packed.

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In my short time there, I became a regular at The Butcher and the Boar, our bartender Kevin, was fantastic.  He’s headed to San Diego next month and I told him he must hit Bo Beau and if he has Peyton as his bartender to go ahead and order a Manhattan.  They are whiskey equals in my book.  It was exactly my kind of place, beautiful atmosphere, friendly patrons, amazing small plates and finely crafted drinks.

I only discovered Uptown because it was too windy and cold for me to run outside so I went to Orange Theory.  I feel like on my next trip, I will spend my free time there  as it was adorable.  Minneapolis, I’ll be back.  I feel if you can be this much fun in the last week of winter, you will be a blast in the summer!

~ happily,

kim

MIA

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When this is where you live, staying home isn’t so terrible. Sunset Cliffs, CA

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written.  My work world has been a chaotic mess, kind of in a good way as it turns out in the end, but it didn’t seem that way a year ago. Somehow in the midst of all of it, I did manage to fit in some amazing trips and with the help of my Moleskin travel notebook, I will be able to tell the stories.

This is the story of how I am no longer going to be MIA.  I had a rough start to the year, working 80-90 hour weeks.  I woke up recently and thought, OK, I am good with pushing through but I can’t lose site of the end goal: to not be a corporate slave my entire life. Put together a plan and execute.  You’ve got this.

And somehow it started to fall together this week.  A girlfriend said to me, plans for Christmas? Me: I could come visit you (she lives on the Gold Coast in Australia so a fairly decent option for the holidays) Her: let’s go somewhere (she’s kind of my adventure soulmate). CHRISTMAS MARKETS!!!! So we are now planning a German Christmas Adventure, maybe toss in some skiing in the Alps as well.  I am over the moon excited.

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Yes, they make dog treats too.  One of my favorite places in OB.

 

Then I get a text message from another girlfriend of mine, when did you want to go to Cuba? Me: tomorrow? Her: want to be my assistant? Me: flights booked.  We’re not going tomorrow as there is a tad bit of planning involved but a 2016 goal was to get to Cuba and it’s shaping up to be a reality.  So instead of training for my marathon this morning, I’m sitting at Azucar, a Cuban Patisserie in my hood, doing a little research. Seems like a fantastic way to spend one’s time.

~ happily,

kim

MI trips

Get it!?!?!  Ok, I realize that’s terrible but it was my way of saying I went to Michigan but then incorporating Florida because I can’t think of a reason to write about these trips separately.  They were work trips and I did try my best to see and do something different and local but they were kinda tricky trips, each for their own reasons.

Spring in Grand Rapids

Spring in Grand Rapids 

Michigan was a quick trip, I flew into Grand Rapids and really only got to see the city the next morning on my run and in search of good coffee.  The first coffee shop I went into, Madcap, was just too hipster, even for me. I just wanted something simple and I felt overwhelmed. I ended up in West Coast Coffee (it just spoke to me), I had their signature drink, The Fuzzy Bear (note: the barista may have resembled the drink which was a great sales tool).  Honestly, I loved it, it was sweet but had the kick I needed.  I popped next door to the Grand Central Market for some snacks for the road and really wished I had more time in this cute little town!

Morning Run in GR

Morning Run in GR

I headed out with coffee in hand and drove for a few hours into Central Michigan for dinner with a customer.  It was the greenest drive I’ve been on in a long time. Coming from a California drought it was a lovely change.

Why is everything a castle here?

Why is everything a castle here?

Then I did a quick trip (read: suitcase change) to San Diego and headed back east to Orlando for our annual trade show.  This trip was insanity as they always are and I have to say I hated that it was in Orlando.  It was just so hot and humid it made running so miserable and moving between buildings by foot impossible (unless you wanted to be soaked in sweat for your next meeting).

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Skillz

We did find a local restaurant there that I loved! Cafe TuTu Tango – the food was great, the art on the wall was fun and local, there was an artist working while we were there.  And there was an amazing hula hoop dancer!!!!  I think there’s live music too but we moved on to the Ice Bar (chain, fun but more because of the company than the venue) before it started.  We hosted a happy hour there and I couldn’t have been more pleased with our service.

Yes, those are individual hula hoops!

Yes, those are individual hula hoops!

The rest of the trip was a blur and not worth writing about, home now to recharge for a week before heading back to New England. June is just full of adventures and I can’t wait to share!

~ happily,

kim

old man wisdom

A year ago, I had my second ACL reconstruction (other knee, thank goodness) and I set out to make this time around a better experience than the first go of it.  First thing I did, fly my mom out to take care of me.  It was March in Virginia and she was over the winter so it wasn’t a hard sell. Next thing I did, buy a Fitbit, so I could focus on my progress each day vice what I couldn’t do (trickery works, ask any mother).  I bought an ice machine and gave myself a pep talk, you got this.

family photo

family photo

I attribute all of these things to a much speedier and happier recovery. I also lived at the beach and not in a condo downtown which was helpful when it came to getting out and about.  I taught Lily to walk off leash, I walked with my crutches and I made friends with every old man in the neighborhood.  Oh, and I found SO MANY AMAZING SEASHELLS because I was always looking down out of fear of falling over. Bonus. My friends all chipped in and helped, they made sure I still made it to sunsets and happy hours.

surround yourself with good people

surround yourself with good people

Over the course of the 6 months or so it took me to recover and to at least begin to jog again, I got to know these men pretty well.  Vietnam vets, retired Fire Chiefs, retired business men, world travelers, amazing surfers, all around good guys who loved coffee and Lily.

The other morning before a flight to the east coast I was out for a run.  It was later in the day and I ran into Barry.  He’s a retired Army Ranger, served multiple tours in Vietnam, has three ex-wives and two daughters.  He rides his beach cruiser every morning down the boardwalk and around the bay, he sits at Woody’s and drinks coffee with some locals who have similar routines.  He reads, he goes to the Open Bar and eats breakfast burritos.  He’s retired and has a great life. He has lived all over and seen a lot.  We have great conversations about life, family, travel and beer.  I know so much about him and I don’t even know his last name (note to self, ask soon).  So when I see him out walking (on his way to get a breakfast burrito) I stop to say hi.  We talk for a while and as I am about to take off, I tell him he really has a great life.  He replies with, “Life’s a journey kid and it’s worth every second of it.”

sunset cliffs

sunset cliffs

This makes me smile for the rest of my run and I make a mental note, he’s right, must ensure I’m grateful for this life I have.

~ happily,

kim