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!

❤️

Advertisements

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

 

img_0619

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!

img_5002

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!

Viva Las Vegas

I booked a trip months ago to Las Vegas when Delta was having an air sale. These are the best kind of trips; easy on the wallet and good for the soul.

Speaking of which I thought I would share my cost saving tips as I go along. As I write this I can hear my friends and family snickering since I struggle with staying on budget. I like really nice things. And nice things tend to cost a bit more. But with the uncertainty around my livelihood that is on the horizon now is not the time to splurge. Quite the opposite. I should be saving for that rainy day that literally might be next week, but here I am looking at the Trump Tower Hotel from my window. C’est la vie.


I’m staying at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino – but that’s the old school name. Many of you may know it by just TI. Vegas has this thing about constantly rebranding – gotta keep everything new and shiny, right? It’s so much fun to pop in for the weekend and see what’s new on the Strip. But the rate was reasonable (budget, people!) and the location is convenient since it’s centrally located on Las Vegas Blvd. or more commonly called “the Strip”.

I’ve mentioned before in a previous post  the long journey from Anchorage to anywhere you want to go is forever.  I swear it’s often shorter to fly to Europe than to the Lower 48 States.

I landed in Las Vegas tired and a bit hungry, but food could wait. I had a spa appointment! First I collected my bag. Now don’t get me started about carry on luggage. Sometimes I’ll do it but for the most part I like strolling through the airport with nothing more than a tote on my arm. For me, there is nothing worse than chasing a suitcase like a wayward puppy. 

Check your luggage. Try it. The liberating feeling will set you free, not to mention save space in the overhead bins.

The Oleksandra Spa & Salon

Tip* The day before I found a groupon for the Oleksandra Spa & Salon conveniently located on the third floor of  TI. Basically I paid $60 for $120 worth of spa services. What’s a girl to do? Book a 50 minute massage!

img_0577

Sleep deprived (did I mention I don’t sleep on planes?), I arrived at the spa’s lobby an hour early. Did I mention with any spa service you can use the facility all day!?! Yes!

The receptionist was welcoming and gracious. The spa is small but beautifully decorated in gold and cream. I shed my clothing, wrapped myself up in a robe, poured a glass of spa water and curled up on a comfy chaise lounge. Awwweeee.

It’s a clothing optional facility and it’s important to respect others privacy so you will just have to go to experience the tranquillity. I snuck a picture since it was just me in the entire place but it’s frowned upon. Naughty, girl. 


Heaven!

My Room

Note to self and to you: Do not get a lovely, relaxing massage if you plan on going out afterwards! 

C. sent a text. They had left L.A. later than expected  and wouldn’t hit town til late. Perfect! There was no way in my relaxed state I could go out. Heck, I was wondering if I had enough strength to make it to the 17th floor. So, with inordinate will power, I tore my relaxed-into-a-buttery-melty-lump from the uber spa cocoon – to bed! Thoughts of my room and it’s delicious bed drew me to its softness like a Las Vegas magician. It was 7:30p.m.!

I took a nap. It lasted all night. 


Snippets from today:

An older inebriated gentleman followed me into the elevator. He stared at the bank of numbers and told me 18 was missing. I nodded and took a look at the row of numbers. Pushing 18 I told him I found it. It was hiding next to 17. Very tricky elevators. “See you in the funny papers, kid,” he called after me as I left the elevator. I haven’t heard that phrase in eons! I laugh and wave. I hope he found his room wasn’t playing hide-and-go-seek.

 

“Drink lots of water!” The therapist reminded me as I left the massage room. With what remaining energy I had I ran downstairs to the convenient shop on the casino floor to purchase a bottle of water. They had a case of water stacked up by the entry on sale for $6.99. The clerk explained to me it was a great deal since one bottle of water was $3. I left the shop with a case of water – cuz that’s how I roll in Vegas, baby. All the water you can drink!

img_4854

img_4838

Iconic Sights and Sounds of New York City

Get lost in the City with the iconic sights and sounds of New York City.


Cheers!

💕

All Pictures by C. Lagunas and A. Carter

Red is for Sex and Other Fun Lessons In The City 

I want a red pair of boots now – just saying. You can’t possibly not want a pair after watching Kinky Boots. But I’m jumping ahead.

After some down time at the hotel Friday afternoon, we went to TKTS in Times Square to score discount tickets to Kinky Boots. Don’t let the long que scare you. It moves super FAST. When we got there the line was wrapped around the building with gads of people dripping in the rain. Yes, the promised rain had arrived. Wish I had snapped a picture of the que, instead we ended up chatting with a guy exclaiming he had seen Kinky Boots six times and that seven times may be excessive… after seeing it I would tell him to go again.


The Rum House

With tickets in hand and a bit rain soaked, we ducked into a small bar a few doors down from our hotel. The Rum House has a retro, speak easy vibe. It’s cozy, dark space and Rat Pack music playing in the background called for a glass of bubbly.


If you do get to the Rum House check out the menu. It’s old school art with lots of classic cocktails and era appropriate quotes which made for an entertaining read by my iPhone flash light.



From there it was onto Kinky Boots. I won’t spoil it for you. But trust me, it’s big, it’s fun and it’s absolutely a feel good musical. The performance pulled on a few heart strings and then, orchestra ready, lifted in a happy high that had the audience clapping along. Go. You will love it!

Saturday Morning – Good Morning New York!


Great message to start my last morning off! Artist swarm around me as I walked to Bouchons for coffee. Ok. Maybe that’s a hyperbole. But four young men walked behind me going on about scripts and performing for several blocks. I just smiled, shamelessly eavesdropping. Welcome to New York!

Take a walk with me.

 

 


Another Adventure Comes to an End

Like all good things, this weekend is quickly coming to an end. My real life back in Anchorage is calling my name. I stopped at one of the plethora of souvenir shops to pick up a few small items. I can’t leave New York without a magnet!



I’ve been asked lots of times about traveling to and from Anchorage. Let’s just say that it’s a journey. Travel time back to Anchorage will take me about 15 hours. It’s just the way it goes when you live in the Last Frontier. From New York to Seattle and then in to Anchorage.

I hear it’s snowing and it’s warmed up to a toasty few degrees above zero. Let’s go home.

Until next time!

Cheers!

💞

I’m Kicking 2017 off in the Big Apple

Thursday

It’s a rare sunny day in New York City. When looking at the forecast last week planning on what to pack for a long weekend in the city the weather gods smiled on us. It’s a beautiful 45 degrees – perfect for a tour on the Big Bus, Red Line.

Stop 10 and the One World Observatory


Hopping off the bus we made our way to the 9/11 memorial before heading up to the One World Observatory. The thoughts that this visit evokes is profound. Memories of an autumn day years ago surface and I say a prayer.


Head towards the One World Observatory. Pay the ticket price, get in the elevator and prepare yourself. Amazing!


Spend the time to have a bite in the restaurant at the top. Just go. Thank me later after you are served scrumptious bites while savoring the view.




Get Lost

To get acquainted with a city I firmly believe you have to get lost. This is where you find the heart. After walking to an Italian restaurant the hotel concierge suggested and being turned away (note to self: reservation is a must for many restaurants) we stumbled on a jewel hidden away on a side street.

An Italian piano bar! Exactly what was on my wish list from the night before to visit. It was early when we got there and we were the only guests at the time. We pulled up two stools at the bar and ordered drinks and dinner. The service was impeccable and the staff kept us entertained while the place quickly filled up with locals and families.


Rockefeller Center

A trip to New York isn’t complete without a trip to Rockefeller Center. Walking off dinner we landed at the ice rink. It was magical. I couldn’t get enough watching this one guy skate with such grace and who totally makes ice skating look easy. Which it’s not. I tried it years ago and my backside can still remember it. Anyway, he was absolutely amazing.  The pictures do not do him justice.



Friday

Thinking we could wave at a camera and enjoy coffee at my favorite bakery we got up early to greet a gray New York morning. NBC wasn’t filming this morning due to the President’s Inauguration but we did find two seats to perch at in the Bouchon’s Bakery to enjoy coffee and some people watching.





Up Town Bus Ride – Blue Line 

We had just enough time to catch the Up Town Bus to take a ride around Central Park. Great way to see some iconic sites on a chilly day!

Take a quick ride with me in the video below:



Lunch with the President 

Chilled and a bit hungry we stepped into an Irish Pub just in time to watch Donald Trump’s inauguration. Lucky us… amazing how things work out without a plan.

Over a club sandwich and coffee I listened to our new 45th President speak with lots of platitudes and vague promises on making America Great. I’m not sure about you, but I think America is pretty great right now. I’m grateful for the blessings and bounty that surrounds us. But hey, it’s politics and that’s about all  I can say.


The W Hotel



It’s back to the hotel for some chillax time until we venture out this afternoon to score some theatre tickets. Our room on the 56th floor over looks Times Square. What a view!

Until then – cheers!
💞