First Time in Denver

This long weekend, my whole body broke out into mild hives because I am apparently allergic to good times like full body massages.

Also, never trust your husband when you both agree to go to the couples massage naked, and then you take off your robe, and you realize that you are the only one naked. That being said, when I screamed at my masseuse at a top tier spa, “please don’t panic, I am naked under the sheets!”, that she probably didn’t care until that moment.

Of course, I had a blast. My next spa treatment probably won’t be for a long time though, and it will be a facial instead…first world problems.

This four day was incredible though. We decided to go a bit more boujee than usual because plane tickets out of OKC are WILDLY less expensive than traveling out of Alexandria, LA. Also, since we went to Denver, Matt just had to drive up and experienced more of a staycation.

Once I get to Colorado, we want to do a lot more staycations like stay in Boulder or even stay in a nice hotel in the Springs. One of my primary goals is to do one 14er, if not multiple of them.

The hotel we stayed at was The Brown Palace, which their selling point is being super old. It honestly reminded me of the way Disneyland’s Hollywood Tower of Terror looked just with fewer people standing around in line, no screaming, and no spiderwebs. It had that old-timey-rich vibe which I wasn’t mad about. It also had multiple restaurants, and the spa we went to was in our lobby. Another selling point of the hotel was its proximity to Sixteenth Street, which is just a long street where only one free bus takes you along to all the shopping and eating you could want. This street would not be complete with a few cannabis stores, but besides that, it actually looked very similar to Universal Studio’s City Walk…there was even a Coyote Ugly.

Maybe I am just craving theme parks?

Sixteenth Street is where I got to meet up with a few of my high school friends that live in Boulder. We had lunch together at Otra Vez (which was only meh) and went to an excellent and inexpensive brewery (Rock Bottom Brewery - I highly recommend!).

Meeting up with them, Shannon and Megan, was a lot of fun. We caught up, which is a code-word for ‘discussed our jobs and gossiped about everyone from high school based on FB and Instagram creeping.’

After saying bye to them, Matt and I focused the rest of our trip on food.

At one point we asked the concierge for recommendations, and he actually pointed us to a cool place I didn’t know about: Cholon. This place allowed you to either pick seating at the counter or the dining room. We selected the counter, and it is literally overlooking the kitchen. We got to watch hot prep and then the final plating stages. Cold prep was hidden away, but hot food prep is arguably the most fun to watch…though we were literally so close that I was sweating every time someone ordered fried rice due to proximity to the open flame.

We also had to try tea at the hotel…

The only people that go to tea though are bridal parties and then children who are three years old, but I still enjoyed my champagne, scones, and fancy sandwiches. I would do it again. I wrote down that it was Matt’s birthday on the reservation (his birthday is May 18, so I wasn’t lying) and the classical piano man played happy birthday, and Matt got a cupcake.

A bit more classy then Texas Roadhouse where they just shake silverware in cups.

If anyone wants to go to tea though, feel free to invite me because that is my jam.

On our last full day, we went to the best steak place I’ve ever been to.

Everything was absolutely delicious. It’s called Guard and Grace, and it has another location in Houston which is kind of too bad since I like feeling cool at discovering new places, but kind of awesome since there are more places I can experience this excellent steak at.

I didn’t take any photos because we dug in and ate too fast.

Besides eating, we did manage to do one cultural thing, which was to go to the art museum. A large section of it was still under construction though, but military get in free! We didn’t know that until we got up to the desk, so that was a pleasant surprise. The art was an exciting mix of contemporary and historical. I liked it so much that I think I will be back for my next Denver trip. I guess I really feel like I’ve done that sixteenth street/downtown Denver area though and can branch out a bit more next time.

Hawaii Honeymoon

Listen, I know that Hawaii is super cliche for honeymoons, but Matt and I had an amazing time. It could simply be because we were pumped just to be together for an extended period of time. This September will be exactly two years apart but the current plan is that we will live together before July ends. Thus, not reaching that two year mark. As it’s the Army though, we will just be thankful for the days we do get together.

Since we have already been to Hawaii together (it’s where Matt proposed), we didn’t feel the same kind of stress to ‘must-see’ everything. We ended up seeing a comedy show on one of the days featuring a few comics with Hannibal Buress as the main man. He summed up our time in Hawaii perfectly: you just enjoy the breezes. People ask you what you’re doing? The weather man, it’s great.

Interestingly enough, near the end we both looked at each other and at the same time said, wow this vacation is really long. We are really relaxed.

Not that we are two people who would ever complain about being relaxed.

We did do a lot though. I’m not trying to scare anyone off from ever traveling with me but I am known for being an over-planner and kind of detail oriented? Shocked gasps are heard through out the audience. Here’s an example of the spreadsheet I made to work us through our vacation:

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Those who know me though know that I did cut back a lot on my planning tendencies because the end goal was to end up relaxed so I tried my best not to overload the schedule but we still got in two different islands (Maui and the Big Island) and various meanderings.

Our first days in Hawaii, we were in Hilo and we were honestly SHOOK at how…rural and unlike Oahu it was. Everyone has heard of Hilo so we just assumed it would be poppin’. We were very wrong but we still got a good meal and AirBNB stay. I think the most romantic thing we did was just get a box of food with spam musubi, chicken, and football rolls and find a random black sand beach and just sit and eat.

Not to get too sappy on you.

Our next stop was Volcano, HI which was…more rural but I suppose we weren’t surprised this time. We were also staying in a tree house which featured a hot tub! But also limited electricity and a compostable toilet. We did enjoy the hot tub immensely but we promptly lost power the first day after making coffee and boiling eggs. I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised because once when I was a Fire Direction Officer (math person for artillery) one of my soldiers plugged in their hot pot and the truck shuttered sadly and died. I guess those suckers take a lot of watts.

As far as compostable toilets go, you essentially just need to bury what you left behind in the toilet.

Like cats.

The Volcano National park was only a five minute drive away. Most of it was closed due to recent problems and rumbling but we still had a lot of fun and saw a lot of things.

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After our stay in Volcano, we made our way to the other side of the island, Kona. This side is the more touristy side which we weren’t mad to see. More touristy means more food! A notable place we ate at was Umekes where Matt tried poke for the first time. It was a place that was featured on Guy Fieri’s show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

We did a day trip to Waipio Valley to look at taro farms. Taro is what poi is made of and if you’ve ever been to a luau (Matt and I have been to three and I’m not sure what that says about us) you know about poi. Luau poi is usually watered down though, and the poi we had at the farm was actually pretty thick, like mochi.

After some breeze-enjoying-days, we headed to Maui on Christmas Day. We forgot to research any food options so we did what every American does when they don’t eat at home on a major holiday, got thai food.

In Maui, we did decide to splurge on a few adventures. From our last trip, we knew that there was no way in h e double hockey sticks that we were going to drive the road to Hana ourselves, so we hired someone and it ended up being one of the highlights of our trip. The guide was able to show us many cool waterfalls that even if Matt and I knew about before driving, we would be too stressed to even park. I guess it’s nicknamed the divorce drive due to the perilous turns and tight corners.

Another Maui adventure was checking out the Haleakala Crater which thankfully was open and clean, despite the government shutdown. I’d like to think that people care for national parks and can be trusted not to litter… luckily Haleakala was amazing and gorgeous. We didn’t wake up early to do the sunrise because we were breeze enjoyers, but we still found it awesome. After seeing what the drive was like in the day though, we were kind of happy that we didn’t risk the drive up in the dark.

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I think the crater was my favorite part of our vacation.

Our last day, we did a stand up paddleboard tour…we got to see a few turtles and just enjoy Maui’s waters. We learned that Matt doesn’t enjoy SUP as much as me.

Thank you for reading Matt and I’s honeymoon adventure.

Back Home In Time For Summer

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Getting back to the states has been amazing. It isn't just getting to do fun things like drink alcohol, but it's getting to simply relax. My job wasn't very hard at all - I wasn't lifting heavy things or having to go without a shower - but there is something to be said about having weekends completely free. As I worked more on call and made my own hours, I still worked everyday which meant no lazing around or being unavailable. Just the thought that someone can need you at any moment is a lot more stress than you'd think. Again, I'm not saying my job was ridiculously hard, but I certainly learned to enjoy the comforts I take for granted back home.

For example, I always wore a bra to bed just in case of indirect fire. I didn't want to run and take cover with nothing under my shirt. 

Sorry if that's TMI.

Once arriving home, after a week of reverse SRP (blood work, finance paperwork, etc for Army to file), I got to go to Arizona to see my fiance, parents, and cat!

The summer was pretty simple. Visited home which included getting to see some old friends from high school like Liz, Sara, and Sam. We played through an entire deck of cards.

We also got to visit Matt's family friend in Sedona which was awesome. We had good conversation with her and got to hike during the day time.

Since we were decently close to the Grand Canyon we also stopped by there where we didn't hike but just gawked around with the rest of the tourists. Instagram is really changing the game at National Parks. I once read an article that people think it's bad as the sudden influx of people is causing the growth along paths to be stunted and that enjoyed the quiet of the great outdoors is almost impossible now... check out this NPR article. While I understand the sentiment, I think it's unfair to say that. Sure, at the Grand Canyon it's almost comical to see hundreds of girls from around the world dressed like an Urban Outfitters front page instead of hiking boots walking around on the ledges but at the same time, if they are going where visitors are allowed to go, why not? The tone of those articles are always concerning to me because it implies that you have to be special visit national parks when that's the exact opposite of what national parks are supposed to be for. While that article mentions some really bad stuff (like waste disposal problems), maybe it's a call for national parks to build up their infrastructure. Apparently at Horseshoe Bend, they've started to build a fence around the area so visitors don't fall to their deaths. Is it annoying for photos? Probably, but they're ready and if you've been to the town around Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, I'm sure you can agree that the town is in love with the tourist revenue. And again, that's okay for them to be! 

I actually plan 90 percent of my vacations with Instagram. What better why then to find what their is to see then to see what others have already proven is awesome?

Me doing Savasana/Corpse Pose to join the yoga pose Instagram trend.

Me doing Savasana/Corpse Pose to join the yoga pose Instagram trend.

While in Arizona, Matt and I also got to do a lot of wedding planning which included: seeing the venue; meeting with our DC/MC and picking all our songs (we are still stumped on first dance song, any suggestions?!?!); and meeting with the florist. We also got a timeline which means I'm just one motivated Sunday away from actually ordering the formal invitations.

It's coming sooner than I think, I have a feeling. I still need to do dress fitting and buy things like shoes...real tempted just to wear flip flops since no one will see them but at the same time my brain really wants Louboutin shoes just because I can use the event as an excuse to spend all that money... we shall see. Probably not heels though because I'm not trying to fall down in front of my entire family.

While we were traveling, I managed to get Matt to start using my camera so I can be in artsy shots too! Here is his progression: