Category Archives: Travel

New Use for my Old Jar

My “Kindness Jar”, which I wrote about here, ended up being a bust in 2018. Don’t ask me why. It’s not because I stopped noticing the kindness of others around me, or because I did nothing kind for anyone at all this past year. I guess I just lost interest in documenting all the kindnesses. It started to feel like I was just repeating what I had done the previous year with my “Happiness Jar” (same jar).

So in mid 2018, I just stopped doing it. And truthfully, I hadn’t given my old jar much thought since then.

However, on New Year’s Eve, as Hubs and I were sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix (OMG-you must watch Black Mirror), feeling a little buzzed on craft beer, we began talking about what could be lying ahead for us in 2019. Hubs declared that the word for 2019, the word that would be mantra for the year as we plunge into our 29th year of marriage would be this: Adventure.

Now, that got me excited. So excited that I was prompted to come up with a new use for my old jar. In 2019, it’s going to be referred to as the “Adventure Jar”.

This is not to say that we are going to write down an adventure we had each and every day. That would be ridiculous.  And likely disappointing.

Instead, we are going to individually jot down, when the moment strikes, one small (or big) “adventure” to pursue in 2019. As I told Hubs, the “adventure” need not be anything huge. Or costly. Or terribly time-consuming. It could be anything from “let’s go for a hike somewhere we haven’t been before”, “let’s try that new restaurant”,”let’s write a blog post together”, or “let’s visit the Sand Dunes in Moab”. Simple, doable, new-to-us experiences.

The only real requirement of this plan, as I told Hubs, is that whatever the chosen “adventure” is, it has to be something that we have not yet done as a couple. Something new.

Then, on perhaps a weekly or at least monthly basis, we will pluck one of our little notes out of the jar, then proceed towards the chosen adventure.

We started living out our “adventure” mantra this past weekend, in fact. As we did nothing of any real interest during the Christmas holidays, and on account of Hubs being furloughed (because of a stupid wall no one really wants besides that big dummy in the White House) and him being stuck at home every day essentially since 12/22, we decided to go on an overnight adventure.

In the spirit of being adventurous, I approved Hubs’ suggestion that he could do all the packing.  That way, he could simply pick me up from work promptly at 2 p.m. on Friday (have I mentioned how much I love my part time hours??) and we could be merrily on our way.

This was indeed an exercise in trust.

Now, this blog is called “Pollyanna’s Path” and I do endeavor to exhibit as well as inspire a positive outlook, so all I’m going to say about the whole packing thing is on a scale of 1-100, Hubs got a solid 80. I’m not entirely certain that in the future I would be quite as willing to trust his ability to remember every essential thing (essential according to me that is) I need to go from looking like a troll doll when I wake up to looking like a reasonably decent member of polite society. But we’ll see.

Okay, so we drove 1 hour away to Idaho Springs, Colorado. The primary point of us going to this specific locale was to enjoy some time soaking here. We did that on Saturday. It was soooo relaxing. And serene. And comforting. And romantic (despite the 50 + people of all ages, genders and nationalities frolicking in the warm, soothing water all around us).

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On Friday night, we stayed at this sweet little B&B. It was cozy, the bed was comfortable and breakfast on Saturday morning was quite a treat. An unexpected added bonus was the chit-chat we had with the other two married couples over this breakfast of quiche, hashbrowns, ham, and toast with homemade jam. They were all close in age to Hubs and I. They all had grown children. They were also seemingly hungry for adventure, just like us. We chatted about places in Colorado the couple from California could see before they had to fly home on Sunday. We chatted about having grown ass adult “kids” and how things are different for today’s millennials than back when we were in our 20’s. We talked about the legalization of weed (general consensus: alcohol is far more dangerous in our society than weed ever could be).

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On the wall in our room at the B&B-love it!

During our convo with these other couples, I was told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Hubs was told he bears a striking resemblance to this guy: Image result for pictures of jesse plemons

The ironic thing is, Hubs and I recently caught the movie “Vice” (I give it mixed reviews) and started getting into “Black Mirror” (mentioned above) and this particular actor, Jesse Plemmons, was in both of them (and of course in the movie “Game Night”-pictured above-which we really enjoyed). Upon seeing the first episode of “Black Mirror” I told Hubs that this guy looks like he could be his younger brother. His less-good-looking-than him younger brother, of course.

We also enjoyed a nice, “neat”, glass of whiskey at a local bar in Idaho Springs. And we couldn’t leave the place without scarfing down some awesome “Colorado style” pizza at the original Beaujou’s. They have a bottle of honey on each table to dip your crust into to enjoy as a little dessert.

This little getaway was very refreshing and re-energizing for both of us. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hubs as this year goes on.

 

What’s in your “jar” for 2019? Or maybe you have a special word, as Hubs and I now do, to guide you through this new year? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Quick post about my mom

Back when I was a freshman in college, when I was busy learning how to share a dorm room with strangers, how to properly do my own laundry, and who my real friends were, my parents decided to take a trip to Europe. England was their first destination, on account of having people to actually visit there (our AFS student, Lisa, and her family).

My mom (aka the local celebrity) has always had a spontaneous nature. She couldn’t help but imagine herself going to England and having tea with the Prime Minister. So she decided to write a letter to Margaret Thatcher to request a meeting.

I like that she did this. It falls into the category of “what’s the worst that could happen?” Ms. Thatcher says no, I’ve got dignitaries to meet and butlers to order around. At least mom could say she tried.

Within a month or so (I’m totally guessing here), she received a letter in the mail. Straight from 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister was unfortunately unavailable to meet with Bonnie from northern Minnesota. Mom framed it and it continues to be hanging on the wall in the home I grew up in.

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At the time my mom did this, I thought it ridiculous. And really, it was.

However, the take-away here is important: you don’t know what is possible unless you try. And if things don’t pan out the way you wish them to, you might just have a good story to tell about it later.

Thanks for that, Mom.

 

 

My just in case post

This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.

This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.

Because I have company coming soon.

The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.

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Miss Mary and I on her last visit to Colorado

Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.

Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time. 

Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.

I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.

But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.

Pondering my playlists

I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post that, inspired by a different sort of self-help book entitled “Soul Song Playlist”, I started to create my own soul-soothing, uplifting, personal playlist. What I’ve discovered along the way is that this playlist is a work in progress. For me, it isn’t something I could just put together in one fell swoop.

I’ve added songs that I later removed, because they didn’t speak to me on a soul level like I presumed they would (“Let it Go” from the animated movie Frozen is a prime example) when I initially chose them. I’ve heard songs while driving that jumped out at me as the perfect additions to this very personal playlist of mine. I think I will continue adding and subtracting songs over the course of a good long time.

That said, I found myself last week itching to hear full cd’s of my favorite artists. The ones I cherish the most, to give myself a needed break from the overthinking I’d been doing with creating my soul song playlist. I listened to my very favorite cd of all time, Raising Sand, with Robert Plant and Allison Kraus. I listened to Alanis Morissette’s “The Collection” cd. So many rocking tunes on that one with very thoughtful, purposeful lyrics. And I listened to Sheryl Crowe’s “C’mon, C’mon” cd, which is one of those that I thoroughly enjoy singing along with. Raising Sand is not one I sing along with, for the record, because the sheer beauty of the songs on this cd compel me to simply listen. Few cd’s are like that for me.

That brings me to the new playlist I’m going to start creating this week, in preparation for our big summer road trip to visit family in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hubs and I will be strapped in for two full days so I figure a rocking playlist is in order. We can listen to it as we wish, interspersing it with catching up on national and world news on NPR and various podcasts.

The genre of our road trip playlist is primarily classic rock. With a few summery  pop hits added in to enhance our freewheeling, relaxed summer vacation attitudes.

Here’s a few songs that are going to be “musts” on this epic summer road trip playlist.

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A depiction of Hubs and I on our epic summer road trip
  • “2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”, by Meatloaf (I feel I should know his real name, being kind of a music trivia buff. But more importantly, how did he acquire the name “Meatloaf”?)
  • “Walkin’ on the Sun”, by Smash Mouth (interestingly, at least to me anyway, was that this is the band Hubs named recently when I asked him what band he most wants to see live before he croaks. Didn’t see that one coming.)
  • “American Pie”, by Don McClean. A classic sing along song we always turn up when it comes on the radio. Doesn’t every American, at least over the age of 40, do the same thing?
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, by Twisted Sister. A classic song of rebellion that begs to be sung out loud with righteous indignation, which is wholly appropriate in our current political climate.
  • “Layla”, by Derek and the Dominoes (for me, never the one put out by Eric Clapton years later…it’s just not the same, man).
  • “Margaritaville”, by Jimmy Buffett. A carefree summer driving sing-along classic.
  • “We Built This City”, by Starship. I know that many, perhaps most, people hate this song with a passion. But for Hubs and I, it’s a rollicking tune that reminds us of our younger days.
  • “You’re my Best Friend”, by Queen. Hubs is my best friend and I am his. I used to think it was sappy and unoriginal to proclaim this. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the simple truth. Me and my best friend are bound to have ourselves a great time on this road trip of ours. And now we will have a soundtrack that will set the tone.

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A taste of Colorado this weekend

Notes made to myself prior to embarking on a weekend exploring a part of Colorado we had yet to visit: Grand Junction!

The title of this blog post could just as well be “We make plans, and God laughs”. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing completely horrible happened. It’s just that, because this is life, my plans didn’t fully pan out. Not complaining here, just reflecting.

Ahem…now onto my so called “plans” vs. reality:

Experiences to manifest this weekend in Grand Junction:

Morning coffee at a local coffee shop.

This was a super simple intention that didn’t materialize. No good reason why, other than the coffee at the hotel hit the spot good enough for me. 

A hike or two.

Check-big check, in fact! We hiked the Cap Trail, which was truly spectacular. We encountered different terrain, various members of the lizard family, and outstanding views of the mesas. Hubs got some great shots with his Nikon, too. Like this one. And we encountered 3 different types of lizards (see above). 

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Brew pub and winery and buying swag there

I didn’t come across any swag worthy of purchasing, but we sampled a couple of new beers at area brew pubs and enjoyed a lovely chardonnay at Two Rivers Winery following our hike. 

Hot tub:

Damn stinking kids were piled into the hot tub- that was about half the size of your typical hotel hot tub, mind you-every single time we tried to use it. So that made me a little grumpy. 

Lavender farm/store:

Not what I expected. But what did I expect? Turns out the place was a distillery too. Should visit again. Have a cocktail next time. Amongst the myriad lavender infused products was a full bar serving bloody mary’s and the like. 

Peach Distillery:

So this was “planned” for the second day, on our way home. Unfortunately, Hubs caught food poisoning somewhere along the way so peach infused alcohol and other peach what-nots were not exactly appealing to him, so we hightailed it home, enjoying the stunning views of rock formations and the Colorado River along the way. We decided to visit the area again, when it’s actually peach season. That’d be a better deal anyway. 

Shopping/keep my eyes out for:

Hats and bow ties.

I know, weird things to be looking for, right?! To explain, Hubs and I will be attending a church fundraiser on 5/5 called “Cinco de Derby”. It’s a combo of a Mexican shindig and Kentucky derby party. We discussed it and decided to forage for these items later in the week at Target and the Michael’s craft store that is conveniently located next to it. I’m sure we’ll come up with something. 

Greeting cards.

Ding Ding Ding! I scored 4 awesome ones for $1 each at a downtown book store. Lord knows who I will be sending them to, but no doubt figuring that out will be fun for me.  I felt good about spending money at this independent book store on “Independent Book Store Day”. I also snagged a book there entitled “The Kindness of Strangers”. Thought it may provide inspiration for my “Kindness Jar” project.

Visit the hotel bar.

Why, yes we did. And we got some great advice there from Annette Bening. Lemme explain: She was approximately the same age as Ms. Bening, dressed casually in denim, drinking a beer and wearing reading glasses. She was situated at the end of the bar, but not the very last seat; the one next to that one. So she had two empty seats on either side of her. She motioned for us to come and sit, scooching down a seat to allow us to sit side by side. She then engaged us in a lively conversation of all things Colorado. She laughed easily and urged us to check out Mount Princeton for our next Anniversary celebration. She shared that it’s pricey, but there are awesome views of the mountains and wonderful hot springs to soak in. She also enthusiastically encouraged us to check out Telluride for their music festivals and good vibes. She spoke lovingly of her son, who was playing in La Crosse tournaments in Grand Junction this weekend. Hence the reason she was chilling at the bar for a bit. Such a cool lady. 

Interesting that earlier in the day,  I had purchased the book about the kindness of strangers, no?

I now can’t wait for our next Colorado adventure! Maybe a George Clooney look alike will make an appearance at a winery or distillery.  You never know…..

YOLO in Colorado

This is how I feel, especially when I’m out exploring this state!

 

Our oldest and dearest couple friends and their two teenage daughters came to visit Hubs and I recently. This visit was so very good for our souls. The four of them are virtually world travelers, especially compared to us. They are curious, adventurous folks with seemingly boundless energy.  And this was the first time they’d visited Colorado together. We visited places here that Hubs and I had yet to see. Like an indoor hot springs spa in Idaho Springs and that famous and crazy Casa Bonita restaurant restaurant in Denver. Fans of South Park may recall an episode highlighting this unique place. We even partook on a tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”, as well as a general reputation for being haunted.

Let’s just say this visit with our friends energized us in a major way. 

This visit coupled with my suspicion that our days living in this great state are likely numbered (I’d guess somewhere between 444 and 888, but hey, I’m no psychic), inspires me to embrace that beautiful concept and not to mention fun acronym, “YOLO”.

That said, it’s clearly time for Hubs and I  to start thinking about planning the places we want to go and experiences we want to enjoy while we still live in Colorado. There are so  many of them!

Such as….

A concert at Red Rocks

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With a little luck, we will be closer to the stage than this photographer was!

I actually think it may be somewhat beside the point which musical artist we come here to see. The scenery and acoustics are going to be the main draw for me.

A trip to an outdoor hot springs  spa. Where Hubs and I will partake in a couples massage and I will succeed at convincing him to get  pedicures together. I suspect he will enjoy this as much as I do.

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Once I get in this, I may never want to get out!

Grand Junction

This is considered Colorado’s wine country and yes, I do enjoy my wine. Beyond the adult beverage scene, there are numerous sites to behold there, like the Colorado National Monument and hiking trails I’ve been checking out online.

Moab, Utah: while it’s not actually in Colorado, it is merely a day’s drive away and features so much natural beauty. Hubs will need to bring his Nikon.

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A place to meditate in Moab, perhaps after a hike

 

Next winter, I’d like to take a ride on the Winter Park train and spend the weekend dog sledding and sampling craft beers in a cozy mountain cabin. I realize this area is known for wicked good skiing, but I value my limbs too much so I think we’ll skip that part.

 

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A cozy little cabin for us to enjoy.

 

We might just need to continue living in Colorado beyond 888 days to cross everything off the list!

 

Surprises and Songs by the Hiatt’s

For one of our wedding anniversaries, Hubs surprised me with a trip to Madison, WI. He was very tight lipped about the itinerary. I went along with it, because I am one of those oddballs that actually loves surprises. And boy, was I surprised. In the best possible way.

Once we arrived in Madison and checked into our hotel, Hubs instructed me to get in the car with him and drive to our surprise destination. I seriously had no clue whatsoever what was in store. He slowed the car down as we approached our destination and he directed me to look to my right. We were directly in front of the Majestic Theater. As I looked up at the marquee, I was beyond excited.

We were there to see the inimitable John Hiatt perform. 

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Now, for several years prior to this, Hubs and I had been fans of this prolific, soulful, uber talented singer/songwriter/guitarist/performer. Mr. Hiatt is one of those artists who has had more critical success than commercial success. That seriously confounds me, because his music-the lyrics, the melodies, the beats, the feels it evokes-is just, well, everything to me from a musical standpoint.

And I learned recently, while live streaming MPR’s The Current that Mr. Hiatt also has a mighty talented singer/songwriter daughter. Her name is Lilly.

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Lilly Hiatt

First, however, for those of you who may not be familiar with Mr. Hiatt’s work, or for those of you who have an unabashed appreciation for him as I do, I’d like to highlight what IMHO are his truly best AF songs. Then I will introduce you to the music of his daughter.

 Thank you, Google Play. You rock. You have given me the best toy a girl could ask for. The joy I get from creating playlists of my favorite artists, like John Hiatt, is immense. 

Here are my top picks from Mr. Hiatt’s collection:

“Thing Called Love” was written and performed originally by Hiatt, though most folks likely are only familiar with Bonnie Raitt’s cover of it. Both versions are great, but I personally prefer Hiatt’s. My favorite line in this song is “But Baby, we can choose you know, we ain’t no amoebas”. And I love when he sings/screeches out “just a crazy little thing called love” towards the end. Supercool.

Thing Called Love

Most likely my “favorite” favorite John Hiatt song is “Feels Like Rain”. It is simply gorgeous. It is sensual. It is soulful. It is tragically beautiful. It is best appreciated during a moment of solitude. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here it is. You’re welcome.

Feels Like Rain

“Perfectly Good Guitar” is a stand out for me also. It features some seriously tight guitar riffs and an extraordinarily catchy melody. And it pays homage to Mr. Hiatt’s appreciation for the instrument. And I found the below video of him and his band playing it live. John Hiatt is probably the best performer I have or ever will see live. For reals.

Perfectly Good Guitar

I could seriously go on for eons about all the other John Hiatt songs I love (like “Riding with the King”, or “Crossing Muddy Waters”, or “Real Fine Love”), but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to highlight Lilly. I was very pleasantly surprised when I learned of her existence. She surely has her father’s musical genes. She has her own sound nonetheless, which to me is an interesting cross between Liz Phair and Lucinda Williams. She, like her father, writes tremendously thoughtful, raw, and beautiful lyrics. Here is a sample:

If I’m lucky, one day I’ll be able to see her perform live as well. I know I’d jump at the chance to see her dad perform live again.