Reconnecting In Monument 

Basking in the morning sun with glimpses of the Colorado mountain from the patio, I’m sorry to see the weekend nearing its end. Do you have a group of friends, that no matter the distance or how long apart it’s been, that once you are together it’s like no time has passed? I’m so blessed to have this in my life.  These ladies remind me who I truly am.  And that’s worth more than gold. 

This weekend was no exception. Our phenomenal hosts made the weekend even better than ever.  Thank you, M and J,  for opening your home and hearts! These flashes of reconnection are far too short. But, boy, do we know how to pack a lot of unadulterated adventure into a very short amount of time. 

Let me start by telling you a little bit about Monument, Colorado which sits a little over an hour from the airport. Monument is north of Colorado Springs and the United States Air Force Academy, and east of the Rampart Range, which is the eastern front range of the Rocky Mountains. It began as a settlement along the Rio Grande Railroad in 1872 and just happens to be a few miles from where J grew up, left, and returned a few years ago bringing M with him. A perfect spot for a Girlfriends reunion! 

Reunited and I’m So Excited 

Friday morning arrived with three of us arriving at the Denver airport. If you havent been to the Denver airport be aware that it sits out in the middle of nowhere and takes a bit to go wherever your going. The good news is that there are shuttles, for a fee, which will take you where you want to go. Just reserve one in advance and try to be on time. We missed the 10am shuttle by nine minutes. That just meant we had a few hours to kill over Bloody Mary’s at the Red Rock. 

Tip: If you are running a few minutes late call the shuttle service. They will often wait if you are running a few minutes late. Any more than that I highly recommend the Bloody Mary’s. 

After M picked us up from the Park and Ride we headed to her home to await the last member joining our party later. I know I mentioned how hard it is for everyone to get together before, and this time was no exception. Not everyone could manage the trip (you know who you are) and the group was a little smaller than in the past. But everyone was there in spirit… and a few of their stories as well. 

When B arrived, we kicked off the weekend gathering around the patio table to catch up. It was a beautiful Colorado evening made better by pizza, adult beverages and lots of smack talking over past adventures of which I’m sworn to secrecy. 

Local Farmer’s Market

The local Farmer’s Market called to us as we lingered over coffee and pastries, that J had graciously ran out to get, just for the ovarian vortex that had descended upon his quiet home with gads of giggles and  estrogen. M is so lucky to have him. 

If you get to Monument go to the Farmer’s Market. From fresh produce, local honey to fancy, long lasting lipstick you can find it here. 


Across the street from the Market is an eclectic shoppers paradise of shabby chic meet Colorado hip decor and wearables. For the shopper’s wingman there are comfortable rocking chairs beneath a shaded back porch.   Take advantage of those rockers, relaxing in the cool shadows. 

From there we headed to Bella Casa just around the corner. On a mission,  we all picked up a seasoning mix for yummy coated crackers that we had been snacking on since we had arrived. I’m going to call this mix crack-cracker-mix. Just saying it’s beyond delicious and you will want to grab lots of this mix to make at home. 


If I had a way of packing more home with me I could have done serious damage to my pocket book here.  Every nook seemed to hold something my heart desired. I’m addicted to housewheres and this little shop did not disappoint my addiction. 

Palmer Lake 

Palmer Lake sits a few miles from Monument. It’s J’s  home town plus it’s home to the worlds best ice cream at the Rock House.  Did someone say lunch!?! 

We piled out of the SUV and headed into The Rock House.  This small business hosts a case full of ice cream in an assortment of flavors, all especially made for the Rock  House, as well as some favorite lunch specials. Stop in, grab a BLT and indulge in a chocolate waffle cone with your favorite flavor of ice cream. Afterwards take a minute to find a trinket from the curio ship in back made by local artists. 

For those visiting the Tri-Lake area swing by Palmer Lake. It’s worth the stop. Visitors can enjoy a coffee, bakery, antique shopping, boutiques, and art galleries… and don’t forget the ice cream! Take a drive along Lovers Lane and if you have time get out for a hike. 

Celebration

Unbeknownst to me, my girlfriends surprised me with a birthday dinner. Not just any birthday, but the BIG 50.  Happy early Birthday to me! 

Dressed, and ready for cocktails, we headed to the Bistro on 2nd in Monument. This little Bistro has an amazing fresh take on fine dining in an upbeat, fun atmosphere. Thank goodness for that because we aren’t exactly prim and proper – quite the opposite. And the staff was ready to take us on, all good natured fun. 


From cocktails, appetizers, dinner to dessert the service was impeccable. Taylor took our high spirits in stride and played along while delivering impeccable service. 


I can’t speak highly enough of the service. And the menu is amazing! I think I could take a bath in the chocolate mousse. 


Not eager to call the evening over after dinner, we took the party outside to  the fire pit. Rick Velliquette, owner/operator/host-extraordinaire, made us right at home with a kick-ass platter filled with all the fixings for s’mores. I even indulged in a snow cone lemon drop martini – you have to try it! It was a beautiful evening, filled with good natured  fun, a few new misadventures shared, and discovering a fantastic Bistro in Monument. Too bad it’s so far away from Houston. 


Wow – what a fantastic birthday celebration – one I won’t foget. Thank you, Ladies, for loving  me and sharing my big milestone. It was a blast. 

Back to Houston

Before heading in different directions we talked about the next potential reunion. Vegas, baby! Can you feel it? I think I’ll bring my boots. 

Cheers!

❤️

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Create A Happiness Bubble


For this almost fifty lady, it’s like walking the gauntlet at the malls these days. The young kiosk vendors pounce immediately; at first coaxing with artificial compliments and when I say no thank you they become aggressive and soon insulting. Seriously!?!

At one point in Vegas, I told one to fuck off  – not one of my finer moment. To make it worse, my grown son was with me and he comforted me with soothing words, but I could tell he was trying not to laugh. And why not? His almost decrepit mother, on the brink of fifty, just told the pushy kiosk vender to fuck off. 

Awe the finer moments of life. 

I think all of the young, beautiful  kiosk vendors hawking their wares in the malls of America should begin by passing out adult beverages with their sample miracle creams. It might make swallowing their condensing,, artificial, back handed. compliments a little easier. 

A bit defeated, I found the Nordstrom cafe, a sanctuary for the elderly I suppose. But after a lovely salad and a chilled glass of Chardonnay, I’ve created a moment of loveliness that transcends the lines around my eyes. 


We should all create bubbles of happiness moments around us whenever we can. Each happiness bubble will be different for each of us. But anytime you have a minute to wrap yourself up in a happiness bubble do it! Shut the world’s opinion out. Remember that you are FABULOUS just the way you are – laugh lines and all! 

Mister Carwash and Other Houstonian Rites of Passage


My car finally arrived after journeying thousands of miles on boat and truck. It desperately needed a bath. 

Over dinner my girlfriend told me about Mister Carwash on Gessner.  It sounded like the perfect Saturday morning plan. She warned me to arrive early because it gets pretty busy and I’m happy I did. Cars were already lined up and it was only a little after 8a.m.

Mister Carwash has over 30 locations, so the nice guy told me, while convincing me to sign up for the monthly car washing service (with the promise I can cancel at any time). No wonder most of the cars here are shiny! 

In Anchorage, cars are dirt encrusted most of the year and no one blinks an eye. Our roads conditions in Alaska are a bit more rough around the edges compared to this bustling Texas city. 


With coffee in hand, I left my car to be vacuumed and washed, wiping away the evidence of the long journey it had just recently traveled. From the comfy waiting room I can watch the cars glide past the wide windows, the hard working employees working their magic. 

I’m impressed!

You have no idea how  happy I am to be reunited with my car. It’s a small chunk falling into place, reminding me how wonderfully blessed I am with this new chapter in my life. I’m so very blessed and grateful for all that God has given me. Good and bad, it’s been a bit of a challenge but through it all I’m treasuring the days as they unfold. 


My mantra for today is “be present”.  

Be present in all the little moments. Even a Carwash. 


Cheers!

❤️

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall


Third time’s the charm, at least I’m hoping it proves to be true in the case of my house hunting escapades. Like all fairy tale adventures it seems that it takes the mythical number three to get it right. 

This afternoon, after a few signatures and a check,  I committed to buying a brand new house. Why I hadn’t done this when I first arrived to Houston I’ll never know. But it’s better late to the party, than not at all. 

The first house just wasn’t meant to be, a contract was written prior to mine. 

The second house, sad from lack of care and in need of too many repairs, I had to walk away from. 

But the third house, a beautiful gem, that sits on the street of dreams, will be ready to move into at the end of June.  Seriously the street name is El Sueno meaning the dream street. How cool is that? The layout and the location is pretty spot on. 

The best part about a new house is being able to move in and not worry about repairing or replacing things. Just my cup of tea! 

Cheers!

❤️

Wrong Bus


“Honey, never forget you’re awesome… you’re just sitting in the wrong seat, on the wrong bus,” my girlfriend said,  consoling me. 

Wrong bus.

I’m banging on the door, begging the bus driver to stop so I don’t miss my stop. He ignores me and keeps driving. The more I beg to get off, the faster he drives. Stop after stop flies by. Thoughts of jumping flashes through my brain but just as quickly ugly images of bloody gashes and broken bones flashes through my mind, keeping me frozen in my seat.

Fear. An ugly companion.

The bus turns a corner. Slows. My heart leaps. Was now my chance? Can I get off now? Would he let me go now?

A new bus driver steps onboard, sits down and the bus races on ignoring my request to let me get off at my stop. Instead, her hooded eyes sternly staring at me from the rear windshield mirror, tells me I’m on the wrong bus (like I didn’t already know that -ugg). Her words harsh as stones, fire at me, reminding me I don’t belong in the seat assigned and there is no place for me on her bus and there are no stops for the likes of me.

The bus stops.

The doors open – to an empty dirt road.

I get off the bus. It drives away.

Fear greets me.

Sigh.

I look closer. Behind Fear sits Potential.

Stepping around Fear I embrace my Potential.

 Thank you, D., for reminding me that there is always another bus on its way. 

Snow Continues to Fall

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” -Sinclair Lewis

It’s Saturday.

Its snowing again.

I was up early and skated (the only way I can explain driving on ICY roads) very, very carefully to Eagle River to have coffee and yummy omelets with A. I passed rollovers, ditch-divers and emergency vehicles the entire fifteen miles. And promptly got stuck half way up the driveway.

Welcome to Alaska’s winters.

I hiked up the rest of the drive, leaving my car sitting there, knowing I would have to back the thing down. It would wait until after our visit.

Is it spring yet?

I’m already getting itchy to plan another long weekend out. But I promised myself I would stay put until I head to Iowa at the end of March. I have serious doubts that I will make it until then. Pray for me.

Maybe I will plan a weekend to Alyeska Resort that sits in Girdwood...and take Miss R and her mommy with me. The hotel is absolutely beautiful with a salt water pool and the community is a skier’s paradise. Not that I ski. Did I mention I live in the WRONG state?

I think its time to go check out some travel sites to do some virtual travel dreaming. By the way, here are a few that I tend to go back to, just in case you are curious:

  1. TravelPirates
  2. Kyak
  3. Hopper
  4. Google Flights
  5. VactionsToGo

 

Cheers!

 

 

Good Morning Las Vegas!

Day 2


Hello! After my long nap – ok, all night, I was slowly waking up to a beautiful Las Vegas morning. Coffee is the  one and only thing missing in my cozy room.

Just so happens there is a diner downstairs called the Coffee Shop. It’s reminiscent of an old fashion neighborhood 24 hour diner. Think Denny’s or a Village Inn and go back a decade or two. The lady’s uniform consists of a brown dress, apron and comfy walking shoes. She serves up coffee in carafes and plates full of eggs and pancakes and bacon and, I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

I ordered coffee and an English muffin. I can see your eyebrow raise. The matronly waitress had the same look that said “is that all?” Hey, I’m petite and not a huge eater. I was in search of coffee and a place to slowly wake to the city before I headed outside for a walk down the strip and this, in my very own good opinion, was perfect.

The Venetian

 

The Venetian is across the street from Treasure Island. It houses my favorite bakery, Bouchon. With an order of raspberry beignets and a small cup of coffee yo go, I began the familiar trek towards Bellagio.


Early mornings are absolutely the best time to take in some vitamin D and the scenery without a crush of people.The last few trips I have been blessed with beautiful weather and today was no exception.

 

 

Here’s a 15 second zen moment – don’t forget to breathe….

 

 

Once upon a time ago, like last year, there was a restaurant called Serendipity that sat out front of Caesars. I’ve had several nice brunches there over the years. Today it’s Stripside Cafe & Bar. Whatever the name, there is a great patio area with tables that is a great stop on the way to Bellagio. Take a seat and enjoy some people watching.

But before you do say a prayer at the Brahma Shrine.


I sat down to enjoy my raspberry beignets and breathe in the sunshine. Be prepared to be tickled watching the little birds prance about hunting for treats. Enjoy the comedy.


Bellagio

I love walking through the high end shops on your way into the Bellagio casino. I have a dream that someday I will be able to go shopping here. I’d stop at Fendi for a bag. Then into Tiffany’s for something shiny. And for fun I’d buy a beautiful Chanel jacket and pair it with a silk Hermes scarf. It’s a lovely dream.


But since I’m on a budget I window shop on my way to see my most favorite place in Vegas – The Bellagio’s Conservatory. It’s a stunning display of flowers and art. The theme on display in vibrant color is the Fire Rooster for the Chinese New Year. I wrote a post on this year’s New Year and just let’s say, “bring it on!”


Tip: It is FREE!

 

Valley of Fire State Park

 

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Tip: Get Off The Strip

When we were in New York a few weeks ago I mentioned that we needed to get off the beaten path and do something we had never done before. And we did.

About an hours drive out of Las Vegas sits 40,000 acres of brilliant red sandstone outcrops waiting to be explored – The Valley of Fire. Be prepared to be amazed at nature’s majestic colors.  The park offers visitors hiking trails, picnic areas and even camping opportunities. Go early in the day if you can to catch the sun. By the time we got there it was already nearing sunset and the hills were falling into shadows. But where the sun hit the sandstone it turned into the color of soft sherbet – a feast for the eyes and rest for the soul.

The beauty of being in the natural world was striking after being in the chaos of the city. It reminded me that we are so small compared to the larger world. The vast ocean of painted rock and desert resonated deep in my soul. I breathed it in and let the stress melt away. It was almost better than the massage from the day before.

 

Tip: Day use entrance fee: $10.00 per vehicle. Camping: $20.00 per night + $10.00 for sites with utility hook ups.

 

Lawry’s Prime Rib Dinner

After a full day we dressed for dinner and headed to Lawry’s, a few minutes off the strip that specializes in prime rib. According to the restaurant, doggie bags and valet service originated with Lawry’s…who knew! With a flash of silver carts and spinning salad bowls, a delicious meal appeared and was un-apologetically devoured.

To be perfectly fair, this is not a budget friendly restaurant. In life and in Vegas you sometimes have to splurge a little. This was worth it and A was very happy and that’s all that counts!

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Gilley’s Saloon

Tip: FREE Line Dancing Lessons @7pm

Who loves to country dance?

We missed the free line dancing lessons. Time gets away and it’s hard to fit everything in that we want to do. We got there for the just in time for the live band so we paid the $10 cover charge. No surprise, the cover was worth it.

The band was amazing. Unfortunately I never did find out the name of the band but their performance was exactly what you come to expect from most Las Vegas entertainers – supremely talented. The lead performer was a petite young woman with a giant voice that filled the huge hall.  They seamlessly played a mix of country, tossed in some good old rock and even some pop to keep everyone happy.

Drinks flowed, delivered by beautiful cowgirls dressed in chaps. I’m sure they had every man in that place ordering non stop just to see the pretty cowgirls.

I have to share the one mischievous-late-night-saloon-thingy that A taught me. I’m a very slow learner so we started it at dinner and took half the night before I could repeat the following phrase with out stuttering or just fall out laughing:

Dirty rotten, lying, no good, son of a bitching bastard!

My mother would be so proud…LoL!

If you like good music and the opportunity to dance the night away then Gilley’s Saloon is the place to be.

 

Cheers!