A Travellerspoint blog

USA

Stepping Out of Bounds in Glacier National Park: Day 1

Let the journey begin.

Ahhhh….Montana. Home of big skies and bigger mountains. The state of open roads, endless valleys, and a river running through it. A place where the soup of the day is whiskey and there are more plaid flannel shirts than a 1991 Pearl Jam concert.

Without really meaning to, we seem to wander back to Montana every couple of years. The call of the mountains is more than we can resist. We can only stay away for so long before we yearn for the crunch of the gravel under our boots on a hiking trail, the chirp of a chubby marmot, and a breath of fresh air.

It was the last week of August and temperatures in the deep south were soaring.

It was time to head to Montana and get lost.

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Day One: Let the journey begin.

While we have flown to Montana under our own power on our most recent trips, we decided to fly commercial thanks to an unbeatable fare. Instead of it taking us 2 full days to get to Kalispell, we left early one Saturday morning and were in Montana by lunch, local time.

The first, very miserable, order of business was to buy groceries and then figure out how to fit 4 adults; 2 oversized suitcases; 2 small suitcases; 4 large backpacks; 3 daypacks; 2 tents; a week’s worth of camping gear, hiking gear, and clothing; and 4 coolers filled with groceries into one standard size SUV with no luggage rack.

There was an inordinate amount of cussing, stomping, and gnashing of teeth, but we finally got it all in there.

Sweet Heavenly Moses.

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By the time we were finished, we looked like a Chinese delivery truck.

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Instead of lunch, we decided on a drive to Polebridge for a 4:00 dinner at the Northern Lights Saloon.

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For us, there is simply no other way to kick off a Glacier National Park vacation than with a long drive up a dirt road for a fistful of pastries, a jar of beer, and a giant slab of homemade huckleberry pie.

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Not wanting to waste a minute, we decided to start our hiking that night. What? Who wouldn’t want to do a 2.5 mile hike at 7:00 p.m. in bear country in an outfit that smelled like huckleberry pie? Just to sweeten the deal, the temps dropped into the high 30s even though it was late August.

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The hike to McDonald Lake campground was a perfect, short jaunt to stretch our legs and help our bodies readjust to our backpacks, which had been in storage for 2 years.

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The sparsely visited campsite was positioned on the western shore of Lake McDonald in an area that had been ravaged by the Roberts Fire of 2003. It doesn’t get many visitors, but we chose it specifically because it was a backcountry campsite that we knew we could make it to in about an hour.

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Despite the remains of the burned trees, the view from the lake was spectacular. It was a cold, cloudy evening, so we didn’t get to enjoy much of a sunset, but it was quiet, peaceful....beautiful.

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The best part of the McDonald Lake campground? You can have a fire!

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Do you know what goes perfectly with a campfire?

Wine and cookies from the Polebridge Merc, of course! Nothing says "glamping" like a paper cup of wine and a greasy, brown paper sack full of cookies.

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The sun completely faded from the sky and it was time to retire to our tents. The two hour time difference meant that we were exhausted even though it was only 9:00 in Montana. As I snuggled down into the warmth of my sleeping bag, I wondered what this trip had in store for us.

Bears? Blisters? Blizzards?

We’d seen it all in our trips to Montana.

I couldn’t wait to wake up and find out what was next.

Posted by vicki_h 12:23 Archived in USA Tagged hiking camping national_park montana glacier_national_park kalispell Comments (4)

That time we went to Asheville and ATE ALL OF THE FOOD

Girls Gone Wild in Asheville, NC

Sometimes, you want to travel to exotic locales like Santorini and sip Vinsanto as the sun sets over the Aegean Sea. Sometimes you want to travel to rugged Montana and hike over mountains and glaciers while munching on a bag of granola and watching for an errant moose. Sometimes you want to do nothing more than spend sun drenched days beside the turquoise waters of the Caribbean with a Pina Colada in hand.

Other days, you just want sparkly shoes, 6 jumbo sized bags of potato chips, 4 girlfriends, and a lot of cake.

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The guys planned a spring fishing trip to the Bahamas, so the girls decided, “What better to do than go away for a weekend where we can spend all their money on shoes?”

Girls trips are the best. There are so many reasons why.

1. You can be a slob.

You don’t have to shower or wear make-up. You can leave your hair in a tangled bun and spend the entire morning in that pair of too-big sweat pants with the holes in the butt and the worn out elastic waist that your husband hates. You don’t have to shave your legs and no one will care.

2. There is no judgment.

Ready for a second bottle of wine? Who cares if it’s only 10:00 a.m. Go for it. Want to sit in the middle of the living room and eat an entire cake in your bathrobe or drink champagne out of the bottle while crying in the bathtub? Go ahead. We’ve all done it. Want to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians? Secretly EVERYONE wants to see it.

3. You can relax.

I typically get about 10 minutes to myself on a Saturday morning before my husband comes blazing in like the Tasmanian Devil demanding that I fix breakfast, wash his favorite shirt, run 4 miles with him, and help him wash the car simultaneously. And I’m supposed to look sexy and awesome while I do it. A Saturday morning with the girls means 4 hours in your pajamas while doing nothing more strenuous than eating a doughnut while reading trashy gossip magazines. Not to mention the rest of the day will likely include piles of comfort food, some sort of spa treatment, and a champagne lunch somewhere with chandeliers.

4. Talk, talk, talk.

Has your husband every shushed you while you were talking because you are interrupting the T.V.? Yeah. Don’t act like you don't know what I’m talking about. The best thing about a weekend with the girls is that we all talk. All the time. Forever. And no one minds. We actually get uncomfortable with silence.

5. Eat, drink, and be merry.

It’s no secret that I can eat a lot for a small person. In my “real life,” I try to rein it in and not give in to my inner piglet. Being married to Matt-the-Superhuman-RoboMan doesn’t help. He has -3% body fat. I remember attending a birthday party for a friend’s husband a few years ago and, as I picked up the fork to start on my 3rd piece of cake, I looked across the table and saw the look of horror on Matt’s face. “I’m sort of grossed out by you right now,” he said. Not with my girlfriends. I can order triple carbs, dessert, 6 glasses of wine, and if I start laughing while I’m chewing and accidentally spit a glob of gooey tortilla chip onto the table, everyone thinks its funny.

5. Girl Just Wanna Have Fun.

Cyndi Lauper was right. We all love our husbands and our lives, but sometimes, you just need “girl fun.” We all know there is a different kind of fun to be had when it’s just us girls. It’s like 8th grade never ended and we are sitting on the bed eating a bowl of M&Ms and wondering who will wake up with a zit. Only with your girlfriends can you laugh so hard that you wet your pants on a downtown sidewalk (sadly, this is a true story).

Hello Girls Weekend in Asheville, NC!

We all showed up with 4 suitcases for 2 days, because, when packing for a girls weekend away, well…..you just never know what you might need. Little black dress? Sure, throw it in there. Flats? Yes. Heels? Yes. Lots of sweatpants to wear in the morning when you are bloated and hung over? Yes, yes. And you may as well throw that old prom dress and the sequined boa in there. You just never know.

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We arrived in Asheville on a Friday afternoon in late April. The weather was absurdly perfect and we found ourselves in what might literally be the most adorable neighborhood in the universe.

We had rented a house in Historic Montford, just a mile or so from downtown Asheville where we planned to spend 2 days eating, drinking, shopping, eating, walking, eating, shopping, drinking, and eating.

We had chosen the house because of its proximity to downtown, but were overjoyed when we saw the insanely cute neighborhood in which it was located. I felt like, at any moment, a unicorn was going to pop out of the bushes or a happy gnome with a bag of gold was going to hop across the street. Seriously.

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Feeling like we had just wandered into some sort of Hansel and Gretel dimension, we found our own adorable cottage and jumped up and down like 13 year old girls exclaiming over the ivy strewn patio, the outdoor firepit, the cozy front porch, and the warm interior.

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I had made late dinner reservations for us at the Admiral, but, because we like to drink before going out drinking, we popped open a couple of bottles of wine.

I had a feeling that my “check liver” light might come on before the weekend was over.

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We called the Blue Bird Taxi, because we already knew that NOBODY would be driving that night. Within minutes, a little Prius driven by Calvin the Best Taxi Driver Of All Time showed up.

When Calvin took a shortcut through a mall parking lot and headed for an unlit street, the girls were suspicious that he was taking us to kill us. When he pulled up to a random looking cinder block building between the BJ Food Mart and an empty lot with a rusty barbed wire fence, they were sure.

No. That was just The Admiral.

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The Admiral doesn’t advertise. They never have. You have to find it. And when you do, you feel like you’ve been let in on a secret. The Admiral is unassuming. From the outside, you’d never guess it is one of the best dining experiences in the city.

The interior is dark, with a low ceiling, lots of mismatched vintage furniture and touches of warm lighting. There's an old Budweiser sign with neon strategically blacked out so it appears to spell "Dive." Imagine if Waffle House turned down the lights, played some vinyl records, and decorated with your Uncle Fred’s garage sale leftovers. It’s hip in tawdry sort of way.

However, you don’t go to the Admiral for the decor. You go for the food.

And the food is divine.

It was at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25th that the Asheville Food Insanity began. I am not really sure what got into us. Maybe it was stress relief from several weeks of issues we had all been dealing with. Maybe it was the lack of disapproving stares from our husbands as we polished off piles of chocolates and bags of chips. Maybe it was just the joy of being in a beautiful city on a beautiful weekend with beautiful friends.

We were like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Except that instead of blood, we were incited by the smell of vanilla poppyseed cake and bread with real butter.

We started off with drinks. I also ordered up a warm and crusty baguette with olive oil and house cultured butter. The bread was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the butter was obscenely salty and delicious.

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I followed that with a bowl of PEI mussels. I know what you are thinking. PEI mussels in North Carolina? Crazy.

Let me tell you. I have slurped Prince Edward Island mussels on Prince Edward Island, so fresh they were still quivering with salt water. The mussels at the Admiral were some of the tastiest I have ever had. The mussels were drowning in San Marzano tomato broth with just a dash of PBR (hey, it is the South, after all) and chunks of smoky bacon and topped with savory chimichurri. The dish was truly inspirational. After devouring the mussels, I mopped up the amazing broth with the baguette and salty butter.

Yes. I ate an entire baguette in addition to the baguette that was on the mussels. Don't judge.

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I followed that (you didn’t think I was done, did you?) with the pasta carbonara. Thick house made fettuccini was topped with delicate chunks of sweet lobster, bread crumbs, pecorino cheese, and egg foam.

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I sampled the others’ dishes: creamy avocado soup; angus flat iron steak with homemade tater tots, mustard greens, pimento cheese, topped with a fried egg and an amazing curry ketchup; shrimp ceviche tostadas; and pork belly with burnt miso aioli and finely shredded cucumbers and carrots with daikon, kimchi bulgogi, and cilantro.

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Because I was eating like I just escaped from a Turkish prison, I had to get dessert. Of course I did. I had the “Chocolate Milk & Cereal.” A glass of white and dark chocolate ganache sat beside the chocolate gelato topped with house made chocolate cereal puffs.

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Having been to the Admiral before, I knew what came next. The others didn’t. I watched their faces when, at 10:00 p.m., the wait staff pushed all the tables aside to make room for the dance party. A DJ started spinning retro tunes as every variety of hipster started pouring into the place and swing dancing where the guy next to us had just been eating his duck leg.

You just can’t beat the Admiral for amazing food and awesome weirdness.

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We danced badly to everything from Ella Fitzgerald to the Beasty Boys before calling Calvin (now that we were convinced he wasn’t trying to kill us) and calling it a night.

Oh what a night.

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Saturday morning was as beautiful as Friday. The weather was warm and the sky was clear and blue. We felt amazing, despite the amount of salt, fat, carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol we had consumed the night before.

It was time for shopping!

Or eating.

Whichever came first.

We headed downtown to peruse the funky, cool shops that are so abundant in Asheville. We made it about 10 feet from the car when….

FRENCH BROAD CHOCOLATE LOUNGE!!!!!

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Apparently, eating would be first.

For four women with calories to consume and money to burn, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge was an oasis of happiness filled with sunshine, hand-crafted artisan chocolates, and most importantly: CAKE.

I couldn’t decide. A thick brownie with coconut? A sipping cup of hot liquid chocolate truffle? A fat slice of maple cake with smoked salt? Dark chocolate honey salted caramels?

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French Broad doesn’t make chocolates. They make magic. And happiness. Magical chocolate happiness.

I settled on the vanilla cake with poppyseed buttercream, lemon curd filling, and a drizzle of lemon sauce. It was indeed a little slice of sunshine.

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We spent the next couple of hours wandering the streets of Asheville with its eclectic shops, historic buildings, and sidewalk buskers with cute puppies.

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We found ourselves at the Grove Arcade, home to one of my favorite places in the entire world: The Battery Park Book Exchange.

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Why?

Because I love old books.

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And because I love champagne.

Battery Park has both.

DE-lightful.

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We polished off a bottle of champagne and realized we were about to be late for our lunch reservation at Curate.

Dear Lord! Missing a meal was out of the question. Run, ladies, RUN!

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Curate, a tapas bar, is regularly rated as the #1 restaurant in Asheville.

(by people who have obviously never been to the Admiral where you can eat the most amazing meal of your life while watching a guy with a handlebar mustache and a banana tattoo dancing to a Buck Owens song while munching on a ramp waffle downed with a PBR in a can)

The restaurant is cozy and warm and everything on the extensive menu is carefully and artistically prepared. “Curate” means “cure yourself,” and we were suffering from needmorefooditis.

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Let the healing begin!

As she prepared our red wine sangria tableside, the waitress suggested we order 3 dishes each. We took her at her word and ordered 12, yes TWELVE, dishes of food. Everyone chose 3, but the plan was to share them all.

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First up were the artichoke chips with yogurt dipping sauce, so delicate they melted in your mouth.

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Next we had spicy chorizo wrapped in potato chips. In the South, this is called a “pig in a blanket,” although this was much better than the Vienna sausage and crescent roll version that we used to make in my trailer park youth.

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That was followed by grilled pequillo peppers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese.

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After that came the kumato tomato salad with preserved Spanish bonito tuna and black olives drizzled with olive oil and sherry vinegar.

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But wait! There’s more! We had warm octopus flavored with sea salt, olive oil, and paprika with a puree of Yukon gold potatoes. Okay, maybe not my favorite dish (I am more of a pig-in-a-blanket kind of girl), but we were here to try new things, so…when in Rome….eat the octopus.

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We felt the need for something green to quiet the voice of our mothers in our heads that were trying to tell us to eat something with vitamins, so we ordered a spring salad with baby artichokes, radishes, sunchoke chips, baby greens, yogurt, and a lemon vinaigrette.

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We stuffed mom back in the closet and moved on to the meatballs with cured iberico de bellota ham in a robust tomato sauce.

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Then, it was on to the grilled iberico pork skirt steak with fresh rosemary and thyme.

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This was followed by lamb skewers marinated in Moorish spices served with house made pickles.

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The patatas bravas were to die for. Leave it to the pig-in-the-blanket girl to also love the dish that looked like home fries slathered in mustard and ketchup. In reality, the crispy potato chunks are topped with a spicy tomato brava sauce and a savory aioli.

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Next up was sautéed spinach with raisins, apples, and toasted pine nuts. (You're welcome, Mom.)

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For our twelfth and final dish, we had a sandwich made from catalan sausage, peppers, and caramelized onions on a crusty baguette.

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Yeah.

We ate all of that.

After lunch, we had a pretty good sangria buzz going on. What better to do with a sangria buzz than go shoe shopping?

If you recall, the impetus for this trip had been the fact that we had been unceremoniously dumped by our men who were no doubt partying it up with frozen drinks on the sunny beaches of Abaco while pretending to fish.

That’s why I decided Matt would buy me an expensive pair of shoes.

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The sangria might have also had something to do with it.

We finished our shopping day strong and headed back to the house for some downtime (and wine) to prepare ourselves for dinner.

Yes. We planned to eat dinner.

After all of that.

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But first – we headed to the rooftop Sky Bar to watch the sunset in style. We called Calvin the Taxi Driver and he showed up promptly in his shiny little Prius.

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I had read about Sky Bar and was dying to check it out. Hidden at the top of the historic Flatiron Building, it is all marble floors and dim lighting with a classy 1920’s vibe. It is magical. Hidden. The kind of place you find by accident and where you can ride a noisy old elevator to a cool fire escape where hand crafted cocktails and amazing sunset views are waiting for you.

I am not sure what made me think we could show up 10 minutes before sunset and simply waltz out onto one of the most awesome, and space limited, places in Asheville.

When we arrived, we did not glide across the marble floors. We were not ushered onto the ancient elevator. We were not whisked away to a rooftop paradise.

No. We were shown into a little bar on the lobby floor of the building where there was a T.V. showing the amazing sunset that smart people, who actually showed up at a reasonable hour rather than dashing in at the 11th hour because they spent too much time putting on their mascara, were watching above us.

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I consoled myself by trying the house infused pineapple-strawberry tequila and looking at my new sparkly shoes.

However, I had barely had time to say, “Dios Mio!” before the elevator buzzed and we were motioned forward.

The elevator didn’t look like it had changed much in the last 90 years. The cage was pulled closed and we were on our way up.

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And we hadn’t missed the sunset. The view was magnificent.

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From the on-site infused liquors to the hand crafted specialty cocktails, the Sky Bar had a drink menu that was as exceptional as the sunset views over downtown Asheville.

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We stayed until the fiery sunset had cooled to a soft sky over the twinkling lights of downtown.

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It was time to eat again!

We walked to Limones, a Mexican Fusion restaurant in downtown Asheville.

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The dark wood floor, soft lights, and happy faces let us know we were in for a great meal.

When I saw the Caipirinha on the drink menu, I had to try it. After spending 10 days in Brazil, I have had my fair share of Caipirinhas and have yet to find one stateside that is made correctly. A proper caipirinha has 3 ingredients: Cachaca, limes, sugar. For some unfathomable reason, American bartenders insist on adding soda or some other watery, sugary substance to the drink.

Limones got it right. It was just like being back on the sandy beaches of Ilha Grande with a bowl of salty olives and a stray dog running around my feet.

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The four of us shared 3 appetizers, because we simply couldn’t settle on anything less. We started things off with the ceviche sampler. The included the ceviche del Mercado, which was made with the fish of the day marinated in lime juice and served with guacamole & red onions. There was also the ceviche verde which had papaya, avocado, and lemon. Finally, there was the spicy ceviche with jicama, cucumbers, avocado, and cilantro. All were accompanied by warm tortilla chips.

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We followed the ceviche with the slow braised short rib nachos with smoked chile crema, guacamole, and salsa verde and the lobster nachos with crema, guacamole and serrano.

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For dinner, I dove into the chorizo burger. The beef was mixed with spicy ground chorizo and the burger was topped with poblano peppers, cilantro aioli, caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese.

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Because we couldn’t end a meal without consuming at least 3 dishes each, we ordered 2 desserts to share: the tres leches cake with peaches, pecans, and mango chile sauce and crispy hot cinnamon brown sugar churros with caramel sauce and Mexican hot chocolate.

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We were the last ones in the restaurant because we literally stayed until there was no food left in the kitchen. I'm sure when we left, the kitchen staff applauded.

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I then went and lay prostrate on the sidewalk praying for Calvin to come pick us up before my stomach started to hemorrhage.

Calvin! Our hero!

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Sunday morning meant one thing: Early Girl Eatery.

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I’m not sure why we were still hungry. I’m not sure we WERE still hungry, or if, at this point, we were simply being driven by some primeval instinct to just try to eat anything that didn’t run away first.

There is always a wait at Early Girl, but there is a reason. It is just that good. We stood out on the sidewalk and literally drooled over the menu, like we hadn’t eaten in weeks.

It was pathetic.

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This was my breakfast. Mine. Alone:

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That’s a giant buttermilk biscuit topped with Benton’s bacon smoky gravy, a fried green tomato napoleon atop buttery grits, and a porky bowl (aptly named) which consisted of home fries, BBQ pork, and scrambled eggs smothered in gravy and farmstead cheese. I’m pretty sure I also ate some of Valerie’s banana bread.

I’d like to say those dishes were split, but they weren’t. They were just mine. And I ate them.

I am so ashamed.

Okay, I’m not really. I’m just saying that so you won’t judge me.

What a weekend! We laughed until we cried. We shopped until we ran out of money.

And we ate until Asheville ran out of food.

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Next up: What happens when 6 people spend 7 days on a 46 foot boat in the Exumas? Madness. Mayhem. And a helluva lot of fun. Find out who cries, who gets diarrhea, and who ends up with the black eye this time. Coming soon to a blog near you!

Posted by vicki_h 15:22 Archived in USA Tagged north_carolina asheville girls_weekend girls_getaway Comments (0)

Third Time’s the Charm

One More Trip to Banner Elk Winery

We spent a wonderful spring birthday weekend and a beautiful fall weekend at the Banner Elk Winery & Villa a couple of years ago, so when I got an email that they were having a “reserve one night, get one free” sale, I jumped on it.

I reserved the Alacante Barrel Suite, the biggest room in the house, for our anniversary weekend. I had always wanted to stay in that room, but had thus far been too cheap to pay the price tag. This was my chance! Besides, Matt would appreciate a weekend away much more than matching “I Love You” t-shirts or a singing fish to hang on the wall.

Nothing says “I Love You” like a weekend full of wine and fireplaces.

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TEN BEST THINGS ABOUT OUR WEEKEND AWAY:

1. The Alacante Barrel Suite.

The Alacante Barrel Suite was bigger than my first apartment. And it didn’t come with a creepy neighbor that wandered the hallway in his boxer shorts and smoked cigarettes by my door. As an added bonus, it had actual working heat, unlike my first apartment. It was also gorgeous. Unlike my first apartment.

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2. The Wine.

The best part of staying at a winery is that there is really no time of day that it’s not appropriate to drink wine. Except for breakfast. But that’s what mimosas are for.

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3. Getting Outdoors.

The highlands of Western North Carolina are filled with opportunities to get outside. For the less adventurous (or those who don’t want to mess up their pedicure with something like hiking boots), there are countless drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway or any number of winding country roads.

Nearby mountains and parks like Grandfather Mountain, Roan Mountain, or Cherokee National Forest have an abundance of hiking opportunities. There is also white water rafting, trout fishing, kayaking, and mountain biking.

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We chose to do a hike on Roan Mountain. The hike takes you 5 miles across a ridge that connects 3 balds: Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald. An Appalachian bald is a mountain summit that is not a peak covered with dense forest, but rather a large grassy area.

As I walked, I was not really thinking about how many miles I had hiked, I was thinking about how many glasses of wine I had earned.

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4. Hidden Surprises.

I love finding out of the way, off the beaten path, little known surprises. In many cases, this has taken Matt and I on wild goose chases where we drive for an hour through winding country roads looking for “this place I read about” only to find an abandoned building with a paper sign taped to the window that says, “Closed Forever.”

I convinced Matt to follow some obscure signs in the tiny community of Roan Mountain that promised Pizza. He was dubious, but it was that or eat lunch at the gas station with the 3 day old hot dogs spinning in their own fat by the microwave burritos. We found ourselves at what appeared to be a garden shed.

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He looked at me and said, “Are you sure?”

Am I EVER not sure when it comes to eating?

We went inside and were greeted by the smell of freshly baked bread, garlic, and wood smoke. Fresh loaves of crusty sourdough bread were stacked in brown paper and a wood fired pizza oven glowed in the back of the kitchen.

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Smoky Mountain Bakery is where Tim and Crystal Decker have been crafting artisan breads and pizzas for about 5 years. The cinder-block and wood shed that houses the bakery only had a couple of tables, so we claimed one and ordered the Friday special: a 3 topping pizza, 2 salads, and 2 sodas for $15.

The pizza was ready in about 10 minutes with a perfectly charred crust topped with savory sauce, gooey cheese, pesto, roasted garlic, and pepperoni. It was PERFECTION.

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We also saw this strawberry cheesecake in the dessert counter. It was so good we couldn’t even wait to cut a slice. We ate it right out of the box. Classy.

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5. Rest. Relax. Rejuvenate.

I once surprised Matt with an in-room massage on a weekend getaway. When the massage therapists showed up, there was a male and a female. I prefer not to be massaged by a dude. I’m sorry, but it’s just weird. Matt and I quietly conferred and we agreed that he would be as uncomfortable watching me get rubbed down by a dude as I would be getting rubbed down by a dude, so he sacrificed himself and let me have the female massage therapist.

Apparently, being massaged by a guy wasn’t the worst part of the experience for Matt. It was being massaged by a guy with REALLY BAD BODY ODOR.

Poor Matt.

So this time, I booked us massages at the upscale Chetola Resort in nearby Blowing Rock.

And I specified no dudes. And no B.O.

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6. Shopping.

I love the quaint little shops in Banner Elk and Blowing Rock. I can waste an entire day wandering around looking at adorably displayed nonsense that I don’t really need.

Especially if the shop has FREE CUPCAKES.

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7. Food…..Yum.

We were disappointed that our favorite restaurant in the area, Artisanal, was not yet open for the season. Another restaurant I really wanted to try, The Gamekeeper, was also still closed. No matter. We had some phenomenal meals.

The Winery & Villa provided us a great breakfast each morning.

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We also had an incredible dinner at Vidalia in downtown Boone, NC. I never met a french fry I didn’t like, especially parmesan truffle fries with a creole dipping sauce. Matt opted for a Caesar salad and white wine steamed mussels. For dinner, I had the crispy pork served with Cheerwine BBQ sauce, stoneground grits, and smoky collard greens. Matt ordered the oat crusted NC trout with applewood bacon jam, green apple slaw, and fingerling potatoes.

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Lunch at Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock started off with a drink called the Sparkle Pony. Yes, I only ordered it because it said it had edible glitter, but I was not disappointed.

Edible glitter is tasty.

Especially when served with tequila.

We shared the lobster mac n’ cheese and the chicken tamales.

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There was also a fantastic dinner at the Painted Fish in Banner Elk. When we arrived, I thought we had made a mistake. It was in a strip mall and it reminded me of a Shoney’s. Not that there is anything wrong with Shoney’s.

Unless you are under the age of 68.

However, the food was FANTASTIC. And I ate enough of it to be sure. We started off with the tuna nachos and French Onion Soup. I followed that with a bacon and cheddar burger. I don’t remember what Matt had because I was buried in a crispy pile of herbed tater tots. TATER TOTS!

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8. Crispy Crème Doughnut Cheesecake.

Sure, this could come under food, but it was so good, it deserves it’s own category. The Painted Fish in Banner Elk a cheesecake that had a doughnut crust and chunks of Crispy Crème glazed doughnuts inside. Someone decided that wasn’t decadent enough and topped it with a carmel bacon sauce.

Oh Dear Sweet Gooey Doughnut Heaven.

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9. Horses and Rainbows.

Really. What’s better than horses and rainbows? Nothing. Except maybe kittens.

Or free wine.

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10. Time. Together. Away.

Because that's really what it's all about, isn't it?

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Posted by vicki_h 08:45 Archived in USA Tagged wine winery boone north_carolina banner_elk blowing_rock roan_mountain Comments (0)

When Bad Photos Happen To Good People

The Vacation Outtakes

I was recently asked by a friend how Matt and I manage to look so put together on vacation. "Your photos are always so good," she said. "You never have hat hair or suntan lines around your eyes where you forgot to take your sunglasses off. You never have cheese on your chin after eating one of those messy burgers or mascara smeared under your eyes after you've gone for a swim. It's not fair."

Well, the answer is simple, people.

I take about 150 photos a day on vacation. I share about 10 of them.

The 10 good ones.

That leaves about 140 pictures a day that are, well, not so good.

So, in fairness to bad vacation photos everywhere....I give you "The Outtakes: The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Ugly," just to prove that bad photos happen to everyone.

Enjoy!

1) The "Mid-Bite" Shot

I'd say the most common problem Matt and I have that results in bad vacation photos is what I refer to as the "mid-bite shot." We have a tendency to take photos of each other just as the other person is trying to eat something particularly awkward. This approach doesn't work well when the other party is eating something simple and neat, like a piece of bread or a bowl of soup. No, you need a corndog or something with stretchy cheese, something that you know is going to result in eating awkwardness at its best. My personal favorite is to get a shot of Matt when he's just taken a huge bite and his cheeks are so distended he it looks some sort of deranged hamster storing up for winter.

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2) The "I don't know what a napkin is for" Shot

Matt seems to get an inordinate number of photos of me licking crap off off myself. Apparently, we either vacation in too many places that don't offer basic amenities, like napkins, or I simply have very poor table manners.

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3) The "This Looked Cool in My Head" Shot

You all know what I am talking about. The photo where you do something that seemed cute/clever/cool at the time, but in reality, just looked plain stupid. And then there it is, your stupidity preserved forever.

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4) The "Wait....I Wasn't Ready" Shot

It happens all the time - you're gearing up to take a photo and just before you snap, the other person starts talking, or blinks, or moves. Sometimes, this results in a blur, but sometimes, it just results in a really bad photo.

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5) The "I Simply Don't Have Control of My Face" Shot

What can I say? Sometimes, you just look stupid for no reason.

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6) The "Is There Something You Are Not Telling Me?" Shot

I think these speak for themselves.

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"No, dear. You're hat is not on backwards and your tag is not sticking out."

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"No, dear. There is nothing behind you. Just smile so I can get this photo."

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"Yes, sweetie. You got all that sunscreen rubbed in just fine."

7) The "I Don't Have Control of My Body" Shot

I don't know what it is. I want to be graceful. I want to move with ease and confidence. I want to be elegant and refined.

I'm just not.

The truth is that I am very awkward. I am clumsy. When I move, I am all sharp angles. It's like I have 4 elbows and 7 knees and I end up looking like some kind of mutant praying mantis.

These photos clearly demonstrate why I will never be on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition.

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8) The "Are You Going to the Movies?" Shot

When I was a little girl, I'd be trying to discreetly dislodge my underwear from the crack of my behind when I'd hear my Dad say, "Are you going to the movies?" When I'd answer "no," he'd laugh and say, "Then why are you picking your seat?"

Apparently, I have had a problem with wedgies my whole life.

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9) The "I'm Pretty Sure I'm About to Hurl" Shot

These photos are evidence that my husband and I are more concerned about photographing the other's discomfort than we are about doing something to help.

I never said we were nice.

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10) The "Old People Can't Dance" Shot

Why, why, why do we do it?

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Stay tuned folks. The winter stretch is almost over and spring travel will soon begin!!

Join me in the upcoming months as we take a long weekend in the Abacos, go sailing through the Exumas on a catamaran, and jet down to the Turks & Caicos!

See you soon!

Posted by vicki_h 09:39 Archived in USA Comments (3)

A Deep Fried Bucket of Fun: New Year's in New Orleans

I was perusing the internet, looking for somewhere to go for New Year’s Eve when I ran across an article titled, “10 Ways to Lose Weight on Vacation.” It included tips like, “Pack portable exercise equipment,” “Surround yourself with Health Food,” “Avoid alcohol,” and “Dine in.”

This gave me some pause.

It was late December and I had already been celebrating Thanksgiving for 29 days because I think one day is woefully inadequate for a celebration that includes stuffing and potatoes in the same meal and pretty much requires that you eat at least three kinds of pie. I was soon to replace my 29-day Thanksgiving celebration with my Christmas celebration, which would require a minimum of 10 days to ensure I had consumed an adequate amount of red velvet cake, reindeer cookies, and potato casserole to hold me over until next year.

The truth is, my pants were getting a little tight. I found myself doing the “jumping dance” to get into my jeans more days than not and had taken to wearing them several times before washing them to get the maximum fit factor. (Every woman knows that washing your jeans is like instantly gaining 15 pounds.)

I had been wearing a lot of stretchy pajamas and sweat pants.

Maybe Matt and I needed to do one of those spa vacations for New Year’s Eve? You know, spend a few days in the desert drinking hemp milk and avoiding gluten while doing lots of yoga and mountain biking.

As I sat at my computer contemplating this possibility, I stuffed another piece of fudge in my mouth and hit the “Escape” button.

Not a fan of the Starvation Vacation, I decided to take an Alcoholiday. We were going to blow out the year end properly by heading to one of my favorite cities for eating & drinking: New Orleans.

Time to pack the elastic waist pants!

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Sunday:

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It was Sunday afternoon when the cab dropped us off at our cottage in the French Quarter. We didn’t even waste time unpacking, but unceremoniously dumped our bags by the door and headed around the corner to Johnny White’s for a Bloody-Mary-To-Go. This place was small and divey, but the Bloody Mary was made slowly and with lots of Worcestershire and spicy pickle juice, just the way I like it.

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We walked to Canal Street to pick up our friends at their hotel and go in search of food. I gave them a choice for lunch: classy jazz brunch or old school dive?

We dove.

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We made the short walk over to Mother’s and the line wasn’t too bad. After a short wait, we were ushered into the crowded dining room, got in the cafeteria style line, and perused our laminated menus, smeared with grease and crowded with offerings like file gumbo, red beans & rice, fried seafood platters, and bread pudding. When I reached the cashier I ordered the debris po’ boy and their “world famous” bloody mary.

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This red brick building has been open since 1938 serving up classic New Orleans dishes like jambalaya and gumbo, but their claim to fame is their famous baked ham and their debris po’boy.

The first time I went to Mother’s, I said “no” to the debris. I mean….. “debris?” Isn’t that garbage? Rufuse? I had no idea what it was and I wasn’t going to find out. I may eat a lot of things, but a garbage sandwich, I think not.

After my husband’s juicy sandwich came out, I learned the error of my ways.

Folklore in New Orleans says that po’boy roast beef is done when it falls apart from a hard stare. Debris is just that…….  Tiny bits and pieces of roast beef shreds that have been cooked until they fall apart and are left to simmer for hours to absorb more juice and seasoning. Swimming in juicy gravy, the debris is topped with shredded cabbage, sliced pickles, mayo, and Creole mustard and is served on a soft white roll that you can only find in New Orleans.

They say the quality of a po’ boy is gauged by the number of napkins required to eat it. There is nothing quite as satisfying. Or as messy.

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It was late afternoon and we were right around the corner from Luke, home of the 50 cent oyster happy hour, so we headed that way. Luke is a highly acclaimed restaurant that is supposed to have excellent food, but I will never know because, so far, I have only been able to go in there for oyster happy hour. Maybe one day I will actually make it in there for a proper meal.

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For now, I must remain content with watching Matt slurp his way through 4 dozen oysters while I sip my half price cocktail.

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All of this eating had left us tired. My OCD had also kicked in and I could think of nothing but the pile of unpacked luggage sitting by my door with all of my clothes wrinkling by the minute. We all headed back to our “places” for some downtime (i.e., stomach stretching exercises, purging, and donning of elastic waist pants).

Since we went low rent for lunch, we decided to class things up a bit at dinner and had a 9:00 reservation at a new French Quarter hotspot, Kingfish. This left plenty of time for a cocktail at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar before dinner.

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We managed to snag a table in the tiny bar, which was a miracle in itself. Repeatedly lauded as one of New Orleans’ best bars, this place had old school class. The centerpiece is the gleaming wood bar, custom built in the late 1800’s, but the soft lighting, animal print fabrics, 1920’s French music, and (my personal favorite) the monkey lamps, conjure up an atmosphere that makes you feel you’ve stepped back into an elegant bygone era. The bar is famous for one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails, the French 75, a delicious blend of cognac, champagne, lemon juice, and sugar.

Sitting on a velvet cheetah print chair, sipping my French 75, I may as well have been Daisy Buchanan.

We enjoyed it so much we nearly missed our dinner reservation.

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Kingfish is a fairly new restaurant on the New Orleans dining scene. With a vibe that is reminiscent of the 1920’s or 30’s, it was a perfect follow-up to our Arnaud’s cocktail hour. With robust dishes, an unconventional food and cocktail menu, and a chef mentored by Paul Prudhomme, I could quickly see why this restaurant is a current favorite.

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Dinner started off with a unique cocktail. The Cable Car was a blend of spiced rum, lemon, dry curacao, and cinnamon, served in a glass with a generous rim of cinnamon sugar.

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Appetizers included the Butternut Squash Lobster Bisque, a creamy blend of Carribean lobster, butternut squash, and crème fraiche, and the Shrimp Prima, two jumbo gulf shrimp stuffed with blue lump crab meat, wrapped in prosciutto and served over a tangy candied pecan cole slaw.

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For dinner, I dove into the Cochon de Lait Pot Pie: a tender pastry bowl filled with shredded slow roasted pork (cochon), crab boil potatoes, English peas, and carrots.

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It was no surprise that we couldn’t make it to dessert.

We walked it off with the obligatory trek down Bourbon Street. Our friends had never been to New Orleans, and we wanted to make sure they had the experience.

There were plenty of drunk 20 year-olds, three-for-one drinks, boas, beads, and Saints fans celebrating their win against Tampa Bay, earning them a place in the playoffs. To say they were celebrating was an understatement.

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Matt's friend wanted to try a hand grenade. Not a fan of something that looks suspiciously like anti-freeze and tastes like corn syrup and gasoline, I took a pass. Seriously, if I am going to consume something with that many calories, it’s going to come with frosting.

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Monday:

We took an early morning walk and enjoyed the Christmas decorations that many of the houses still had on display.

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We told our friends to meet us at Café du Monde. They asked what it was and I told them a “coffee stand.”

I think they were trying to decide if I meant a metal building manned by a guy named Frank that might drop the ashes from his Marlboro into our styrofoam cup or if I meant a shop painted in a painfully neutral palette playing oppressively boring acoustic music while a grim faced barista smirks superiorly when people ask for flavored syrup.

They were pleasantly surprised when they saw the quaint patio that looked less like an airport kiosk and more like an open air café you might see in Paris. If you hit it at the right time, like first thing in the morning when the mist is still rolling off the Mississippi River and there are no patrons in line, when the staff, in their starched aprons and stiff paper hats, are still pulling the green vinyl chairs from the table tops….Cafe du Monde is romantic. It reminds you of a time when people wrote actual letters on notecards with a pen and dressed nicely to go out for a meal. When coffee was accompanied by a crisp newspaper, not an iPad and it was served in a heavy ceramic cup, not cardboard.

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Unfortunately, we were not there at that time. Thanks to those stupid hand-grenades, the guys had slept in and by the time we reached Café du Monde, the line stretched farther than I could see and the place was more reminiscent of a queue at Disney, filled with families from Kalamazoo armed with money belts, name badges, and guide books, ready to check “coffee and beignets” off of their spreadsheet.

I promptly made my way to the take out counter and in moments, had my coffee and beignets. So what if my romantic café experience was relegated to a paper bag and a metal bench. Call me a tourist cliché, but my day in New Orleans has to start off with a chicory laced cup of hot café au lait and a bag of crispy-soft beignets drowning in powdered sugar.

You can never have too much powdered sugar.

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Because Matt and John were expecting a proper lumberjack breakfast and only got a bag of glorified doughnuts, they were hungry again by 10:30 a.m. We stumbled into the Gumbo Shop, located right off Jackson Square. It was warm inside and they were just setting up for lunch.

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We ordered up some barbequed shrimp and chicken and Andouille gumbo.

For a blatantly touristy restaurant, the Gumbo Shop served up some pretty good gumbo. It gets its fair share of respect from locals, being voted one of the best gumbos in the city every year. It was quaint inside, all frescoed out with wall murals of old New Orleans and light streaming in from the courtyard out back.

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Bellies full of gumbo at 11:30, we decided the best way to prepare for lunch was by walking down Royal Street to see some of the street performers. My self-diagnosed adult ADHD kicked in en route, however, when….BUBBLES!

Matt tried to drag me away. We got about 4 feet and then…..

BUBBLES!

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After about 15 minutes, my self-diagnosed adult ADHD kicked in again and the bubbles were no longer extraordinary.

TAP DANCING!

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We made a pit stop at the Pirate’s Alley Café and Absinthe House because 1) it’s cool in a small-dark-looks-like-you’re-on-a-pirate-ship kind of way and 2) we needed a restroom. Okay, it was mostly the bathroom thing, but the bonus was that the place was small and dark and looked like we were in a pirate ship. And……

GLOWING DRINKS!

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For someone who is easily distracted, New Orleans is an exhausting place.

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It had been at least two hours since our last feeding, so another food stop was in order. Somehow, we lucked into immediate seating at the Napoleon House where we tried the original Pimm’s Cup and their version of the famed muffaletta.

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We had barely wiped the olive spread off our chins before Matt was dragging us back to Luke for oyster happy hour.

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While Matt ordered up several dozen oysters, I took the classy route and ordered french fries and champagne.

You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can never take the trailer park out of the girl.

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Look y’all! It even came with a little ketchup bottle! Fancy.

Emboldened by the champagne, I decided to try the official cocktail of New Orleans, the Sezerac. American’s first cocktail was created in 1838 in a French Quarter bar. Rye whiskey, sugar, Herbsaint, bitters, and lemon peel served neat….this cocktail packed a punch…New Orleans style.

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Our next stop was Southern Costume Company, just outside the French Quarter. The guys had decided to go “all out” for New Year’s Eve. In a city where you can see a man in fishnets walking a miniature pony wearing a wig and sneakers for no reason other than it’s a Tuesday, you have to come up with something pretty special to attract attention.

Something maniacal had possessed my normally introverted-to-the-point-of-being-mistaken-for-deaf husband. The man least likely to draw attention to himself had made a decision and there was no turning back.

While the guys tried on their attire, we were allowed to wander.

Southern Costume Company provides theatrical quality costumes for the official Mardis-Gras parades and for local theater companies. Their costumes were not the “cheap polyester made in Taiwan”variety, but were handmade or vintage pieces.

And there were THOUSANDS.

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As I stood in front of a handmade mermaid costume running my hands along the hundreds of shimmering metal tabs that had been hand fastened to the tail, I looked over and saw and exquisitely beaded Marie Antoinette gown.

I was surrounded by spandex and glitter. I was high on the smell of old hats and shoe polish. I decided then and there that my greatest fantasy is to be locked inside a costume shop overnight.

Happiness is a costume shop.

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They finally managed to pry the mermaid costume out of my hands and drag me out of there.

Another group of friends was meeting us in New Orleans that night having just arrived from Dallas. They wanted to eat at Acme Oyster House, so we headed that way while John & Kelley went to their room to put on their elastic waist pants freshen up. I mean, we hadn’t eaten in at least an hour and running from the employees of the costume shop with that Marie Antoinette wig on my head had been exhausting, so it probably was time to eat again.

I’ll be honest, though. I don’t love Acme. I don’t dislike it, I simply don’t think the quality of the food is worth the time spent standing in line. Spending an hour in line needs to be for something important…..like clean water during a natural disaster or a bowl of soup during the Great Depression.

If I am going to stand in line for over an hour simply for the privilege of eating at a restaurant, the food needs to be so good it’s like a religious experience when I put it in my mouth.

Either that…… or someone needs to be handing out free cocktails.

Acme Oyster House is the kind of place I wouldn’t mind running into for a meal if I was in a big hurry and it was the only thing within a 20 mile radius and there was no wait.

But to wait in line for an hour on a dirty New Orleans sidewalk to eat a very average meal that is insanely overpriced is simply wrong. Acme is overhyped.

Unfortunately, the only other female in the group was still in her hotel room and it’s where all the guys wanted to eat, so I was outnumbered 6 to 1. Not that 6 to 2 would have been significantly better odds.

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To add insult to injury, as soon as we got in line they said, “Wait right here, we’ll be right back.” Forty minutes passed. I was getting dangerously close to the door and the little Line Nazi with the Clipboard kept reminding me that I would not be seated if my entire party was not present. He also threw in the fact that the restaurant was closing soon and if my party was not present when I reached the door, we would be turned away in disgrace.

I was just about ready to mutiny and go find myself a proper meal when the guys showed up, empty drink cups in hand.

Seriously? Not only did they leave me standing alone in a cold line for 40 minutes….they did it so that they could go sit inside a warm bar and have drinks????? And they didn’t even think to bring me one back?????

Even chargrilled oysters and a fried soft shell crab platter couldn’t make up for that.

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Tuesday:

To make up for abandoning me on the sidewalk at Acme the night before, Matt took me for breakfast at Stanley! and didn’t even make any snarky comments when I ordered the bananas foster french toast with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream and an extra, extra large mimosa.

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It was a gray morning, so we decided to jump aboard the St. Charles streetcar for some mansion and cemetery gawking.

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At least until we got hungry again.

We walked down to Magazine Street with no idea where to grab a bite and I saw that we were standing across the street from Dat Dog.

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The truth is, you can’t enter Dat Dog without feeling happy. They are making the world a better place by providing it with wieners made out of uncommon ingredients like duck sausage, crawfish, and alligator and covering them with all manner of toppings like bacon, Andouille sauce, Asian slaw, and crawfish etouffee. If that doesn’t do it for you, the brightly painted building and the staff clad in Hawaiian shirts will.

I warmed up with a Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum Hot Cider which was delightfully topped with salted whipped cream and toffee bits while I waited for my white trash fries (think chili cheese fries with bacon on crack) and mountain of hot dog.

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My eating plans for the day had only gotten started, so much like a coach tells a player to "shake it off," I encouraged everyone to “walk it off” by doing some Magazine Street shopping.

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It was late afternoon and a steady drizzle had started to fall. My feet were tired and I was getting cold. I could think of no better place to go than Port of Call for a giant burger and ridiculously overstuffed potato.

It has a big heavy door and when you walk inside, it is so dark that you feel like you should look at the person standing next to the door and say something like “the muskrat sleeps at noon” to gain access. Port of Call is crowded. It’s dark, the only source of light being an oversized aquarium that runs parallel to the bar. It’s divey. I think the ropes and nets hanging from the ceiling have been untouched since the place first opened in 1963.

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I don’t think I would want to see this room in bright light. It would be the equivalent of the guy that picks up a hot blonde on a Friday night only to discover that in the bright light of the morning, she’s a 78 year old man with a club foot.

Go at the wrong time of day and you could wait an hour or more (and I have already made my thoughts clear on waiting for food), but go at the right time of day, you don’t wait very long for one of the best burgers you’ll ever have.

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The fist-thick burger was made from a half pound of two-way chuck that is fresh ground daily and cooked over an open flame. It was perfectly charred on the outside and juicy and pink on the inside. It was a monster and it took my beef-loving breath away. They don’t serve fries at Port of Call, so the burger came with a loaded baked potato. If the burger was a monster, then the potato was a colossal beast. Loaded with butter, sour cream, a mound of cheese, chives, mushrooms and bacon, it elevated the Port of Call experience to another level.

The entire experience, however, was not complete until my burger and potato were accompanied by Port of Call’s signature cocktail, the Neptune’s Monsoon. The diesel strength, but oh so delicious, drink was served up classy-style in a 32 ounce plastic cup.

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It was the perfect combination of food and drink to send me off toward a nice afternoon nap.

You see, it was New Year's Eve and we had a long night ahead of us.

I know what you are thinking. "New Year's Eve in New Orleans? ARE YOU CRAZY?" New Orleans, a city that takes pride in its hard partying skills, is practically made for New Year's Eve. No doubt there would be plenty of revelers. I imagined that every 10 feet there would be someone throwing up, someone dancing, or a band playing while beads flew through the air. It seemed there was a party in every hotel, in every restaurant, and on every street corner. To top the evening off, there would be a giant street party in Jackson Square complete with fireworks, a fleur-de-lis drop, and live music.

It couldn't be any worse than the year we decided to spend NYE in Times Square and lasted exactly 13 minutes locked in our "grid" in 8 degree temperatures before decided that having ready access to a bathroom, a warm place to sit, and a bottle of champagne were worth ditching the grid and spending NYE watching the festivities from our corner suite windows rather than spending it in single digit temps about 8 blocks from the actual ball drop with some guy named Dino that was likely to either vomit on Matt or pee on my shoes before the night was over.

Besides, I had made us some dignified plans. I did not intend to spend my evening with a bunch of 19 year old drunks showing their boobs for beads.

We had reservations for our party of 8 at Tableau, Dickie Brennan's newest restaurant, housed with Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, one of the oldest community theaters in America, with roots stretching back to 1916. With an impressive foyer leading to a grand staircase and a maze of cozy, elegant dining rooms, this new restaurant was already considered one of New Orelans most sophisticated hot spots. The marble bar, crystal chandeliers, and massive arched fan windows create an enchanting atmosphere for Chef Ben Thibodeaux to perfect his culinary masterpieces. We had a 9:30 reservation which would allow us time for a leisurely dinner and give us just enough time to step outside the front door into Jackson Square to enjoy the fireworks at midnight.

I had a gorgeous dress, some dazzling heels, and a bottle of champagne. I hadn't left any details to chance. It was going to be a spectacular evening.

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You know how they say that the way you spend New Year's Eve will define how you will spend the rest of the upcoming year? My vision was to spend it in a beautiful dress, surrounded by good friends, having fun, and topped off with a romantic kiss from the love of my life as fireworks exploded in the sky.

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Unfortunately, MY vision of New Year's Eve and Matt's vision of New Year's Eve were not exactly on the same page. There was that little detail about the costumes.

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Oh yes he did.

Apparently, I am doomed to spend 2014 following my dumb or dumber husband from about 10 paces back to ensure he doesn't shake his ass so hard that he splits his peach polyester pants or drop his top hat onto a vomit stained sidewalk.

Oh dear lord.

Dinner was an uncomfortable 2 hours spent trying to enjoy my truffled crab claws and BBQ shrimp and grits, while my husband and his friend continued to call our waiter "Cordon Bleu" and proceeded to river dance for all of the patrons. The manager kept coming upstairs, no doubt because the light fixtures were shaking below. I could tell by his face that he wanted to ask us to leave, but the other patrons were enjoying the show so much that there was no way he could do that without looking like a jackass.

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I was torn between complete humiliation, extreme discomfort, and absolute hilarity.

I got my kiss at midnight and then spent the next few hours watching as half of New Orleans had their New Year's Eve photo taken with Lloyd and Harry.

I'm pretty sure Matt is in at least a dozen YouTube videos and an obscene number of cell phone photos. I feel certain he made quite a showing on any number of Facebook pages that night and I think he is engaged to about 4 women.

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I hope it's a myth that the way you spend New Year's Eve is how you will spend your year. Here's my alternative theory: Start the New Year in the most horrible way possible. Because, as long as you don't die, it will only get better from there.

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Wednesday:

After THAT night, New Year's Day demanded a big, greasy breakfast that was carb loaded.

That's why we headed to Camellia Grill for strong, hot coffee, a pecan waffle, and a breakfast platter with fried eggs, toast, bacon, and a pile of hash browns smothered in ketchup, just like I ate them when I was a kid and we'd stop at Waffle House on the road from Atlanta to Tennessee to visit my grandmother.

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I'd like to say that Matt and I shared that food, but in complete honesty, that was my breakfast.

We walked around a quiet city. New Orleans was licking her wounds, trying to recover from the previous night's revelry.

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It had been fun, but it was time to go home, repent, and try to come up with some New Year's Resolutions that would make up for all the indulgence of the holidays.

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It's now late January and we've sworn off sugar and anything that comes in a solo cup. I have promised to work out every day. I even just completed a cleanse where I consumed nothing but algae smoothies, aloe juice and fiber for 3 days. I can't remember the name of the cleanse, but I think it was called….oh yeah……… anorexia. The cleanse was a mixed blessing. Sure, I got rid of all those New Orleans toxins. I purified. I think purged my system. But I also fell asleep at work, fantasized about eating a squirrel that was outside my window, and almost crapped my pants in a Walgreens.

Maybe I'll stick with the whole food and alcohol thing in 2014 after all.

Happy New Year!

Posted by vicki_h 17:13 Archived in USA Tagged new_orleans french_quarter nola Comments (7)

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