Friday Five: Second Blogiversary

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

#MARCI is #two!

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This blog is now entering the age of meltdowns and defiance, right? Depending on who you ask, those two words might be more appropriate for me than you think! Similar to most parents (of blog or baby), I can’t believe how quickly time passes or how much it’s grown. I’m even more amazed than I was last year! Many a moment from the last 365 days are now documented within its pages. Here’s a recap of the highlights:

In the last year I’ve…

# embraced my inner cowgirl
# met one of my heroes
# screamed my way through Park City
# somehow picked my Top Ten books of all time
# been wonderfully surprised by my BFF and my favorite newlyweds
# fallen in love with homemade ice cream (namely this)
# said goodbye to my favorite bloggers
# survived another season of Div. I football
# returned to my Miami roots with a new job
# endured six months (and counting) of a not-100% puppy
# seen a childhood hero rewarded
# returned to the scene of so many crimes (trip 1, trip 2)
# finally seen Southern Utah
# tried new things
# spent an unforgettable, priceless week in Texas at the farm and in the city
# said goodbye to the funniest
# said goodbye to the sweetest
# slept with strangers at an airport
# celebrated ten years of togetherness with my favorite
# smiled, laughed, ate, and sunblocked my way through Hawaii (link coming soon)
# baked and baked and baked and baked and baked and baked and baked and baked and baked and baked….
# read 38 books
# written 121 posts

It’s been a good year, but it’s also been a hard year. Back-to-back funerals, friends and family struggles, and a puppy who can’t seem to bounce back, among other things, have had me pretty low. My instinct in these moments is to shut down–to throw up my wall and protect myself from as much as possible. And because of that, for most of the last four months, I haven’t wanted to blog at all.

Blogging is about being vulnerable and raw and that’s hard to do. When you’re trying to shut down, the last thing you want to do is open up wider than before. Too many times I’ve had to push myself through a post, big or small, only to wonder “what am I doing and why am I doing it?”

But ultimately, to me, it’s worth it.

And here’s why…

5. For Clarity

I’m a classic over-thinker with a million dreams, worries, lists and ideas swirling through my head at any given moment. Putting a fraction of those thoughts down on paper and on the interwebs gives me a sense of peace and also a source of accountability.

4. To Connect

I will always gravitate towards people who love to read, cook, bake, eat, take pictures, and smother dogs with kisses as much as I do. Having this space brings me closer to them and secures me in my happy place.

3. To Challenge

I’m constantly challenged by this blog and what I want it to be. I’m also challenged, inspired, and humbled by a host of other bloggers who are rockin’ it week in and week out. If I can empower someone, anyone, to try a new dish or read more, then, well…that’s about as good as it gets for me.

2. To Capture

Without this blog I’d never remember which books I’ve read (or when), I’d never remember all of the things we’ve baked (or when), and I know I’d never recall all of the fun Utah moments we have as we explore our newish-to-us state. But, really, my favorite posts to write and reread are those which celebrate and reminisce the lives of those I love. To tell our shared stories. They are at times (most times) brutal to compose, but I’m grateful to capture all seasons of my life and put into words emotions that run deep and strong and threaten to choke with their powerful roots.

1. To Create

Writing is my favorite. It always has been. As a young girl I compiled reports on First Ladies–not for school, but just for me to write about something–someone–interesting. As a textbook middle child, I think I have an innate urgency to tell my side of the story. I need my voice to be heard. And I can think of no better place than this.

Thank you for joining me on this wild ride. I appreciate you hanging on when I’ve been anxious to get off. It’s made all the difference.

Travel Tip: Creating a Custom Google Map

Man, oh man, am I excited to tell you about Hawaii. We spent a blissful 10 days together in paradise and as soon as I get all of my photos and videos off of F-O-U-R different devices, I’ll start sharing all of the details. Until then, here’s a peek at what you missed if you aren’t on Instagram.

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I feel like after moving and shaking for 10 years together, Joe and I have traveling down. We know what works best for us, how to expertly pack and, more importantly, how to plan. We count on each other’s strengths for sure. I can’t stand browsing a million sites looking for flights and places to stay, but Joe does. So he takes over that and I plan what we do and where we eat each day. It’s a win-win for us. I feel like I could write an entire series of posts with our travel tips, but this is the best place to start. It’s something we do for every big adventure we take.

We create a custom Google map.

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I first made one for our out-of-town wedding guests (i.e. everyone) so they knew where everything was being held, where to spend their free time and our favorite places to eat. It was a hit. I’ve since done it for trips to California and D.C. I’ll walk you through how to make your own in a minute, but here’s why they are so invaluable to us:

  • Everything is at your fingertips. When we starting planning for Hawaii I reached out to every friend who had visited in the last five years for all of their recommendations and tips. Then I scoured Instagram hashtags, blogs and Pinterest to find even more information. By the time I was finished, there was a lot to sort through. This map allowed me to put everything in one, easy-to-access place. You’ll see in a minute, but you can include their notes for each place, as well as any pertinent information in the entry details which you can access via phone, tablet or laptop at any time. We don’t visit every place we pin, but it’s nice to know what’s close and available.
  • Seeing every place mapped out makes your day planning a lot easier. You can quickly see what’s close to what, so days are based on location to maximize your time.
  • It’s a great way to remember everything you did, ate and saw. I save my custom maps and add notes to the listings post-travel.
  • With one click you can share with any family or friends making the trip later. They’ll thank you and you’ll feel awesome.

Have I sold you yet?

Here’s how it’s done:

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1. Create a map by clicking HERE. (You’ll need a google account to access.)

2. Click on “Untitled” in the top left corner and name your map. If you’re traveling to different locations on one trip, you can add layers just under that map name for each destination. It will all be saved under one map, but it will be easier to find your pinned entries. Our map is titled “Hawaii – May 2015” and our layers are “Oahu” and “Maui.”

Here’s our Oahu layer:

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Here’s our Maui layer:

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3. Using the standard search bar at the top, start typing in places you want to list on your map.

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Chances are you’ll see it in the populated drop-down menu and can click on it. Once you do that, a pin will appear on the map where you can click “Add to Map.” Then click and drag to the appropriate layer.

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4. For each entry you can click on the edit button to add comments or any other details. The great part is that it will already include the address, phone and website (most of the time).

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In these fields I copied in every note or suggestion from a friend, or anything I found online. If restaurants are famous for a special dish or dessert, make sure you add that! If an attraction only takes cash, add that. It’s so comforting to know that everything is all together and you don’t have to remember a thing. This is especially helpful if you’re like me and get “vacation brain” as soon as you step on the plane. By that point I’m not interested in thinking too hard.

5. Once you add your locations (airports, hotels/condos, restaurants, attractions, etc.) you can adjust your pins to be different colors or different icons by hovering over each entry and clicking the icon to its right. You can see I customized the icons for the Oahu map, but left the Maui ones standard. Whatever floats your boat.

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6. Other options we haven’t explored yet include adding photos to each entry and creating walking/driving routes (the third icon under the search bar). You could easily go crazy with this if you wanted to.

7. When finished, share the map by clicking on the “Share” button beneath the map name. You can share with family members while you’re away, people you’re traveling with, or use the link to send to others going to the same place down the line. Your maps will always be saved in your Google account under “Drive” / “My Maps.”

Joe and I had this map up on both of our phones, as well as our iPad, constantly throughout the trip. My favorite features are: navigating straight to a place from your current location with one click, and adding details for each place after we visit, like who recommended it and what we ate/did.

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These maps have been a total lifesaver for us, and after staring at this non-stop for the last few weeks, I was eager to share it with you. What makes your travel easier? In other news: I miss Hawaii.

Friday Five: Best Travel Adventures

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

We’ve covered our travel nightmares of past and present…and seeing as we’re currently on one of our best adventures to date we thought it only fair to share a few of our favorite adventures from our decade together. It was near impossible to whittle down this list, but here we go…pack those bags.

5. Amsterdam

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We’ve been to “Venice of the North” twice. The first time was a forced overnight layover that KLM handled beautifully: paid hotel, paid meals, paid transportation, free night to explore the city and first class back to the states the next morning. (American? Delta? Are you reading this?). The second time was one of the many stops along our European tour with our Chinese orchestra. Both times we were pressed for time–you could spend a week here–but we made the most of it, running around like crazy people trying to see as much as possible. Highlights include: The Anne Frank House (always, forever, haunting, beautiful, life-changing, a must), the canals, witnessing the hot mess that is the Red Light District (disgusting, but you should at least see it), staying overnight in Monnickerdam (stunning) and touring windmills from the 17th century (wowza). I’d go back in a heartbeat. One of my favorite cities ever.

4. Salzburg

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On said European tour, the Russians in our orchestra (namely, one) got into an arguement with our bus driver, so the orchestra decided to leave all of the non-Chinese members at a remote hotel outside of Salzburg until a new driver could get there. Meanwhile, all of the natives toured the city and had a fun day. Um, I will not get that close to Fraulein Maria and the Von Trapp Family only to sit in a lodge by the highway. We jumped on a public bus (horns on our backs) with the others and did a running tour of the city. I’m serious…most of my photos are blurred from us running down the street. Clearly, we need to go back sometime and do this right, but it was enough to tide me over. Highlights include: seeing Mozart’s birthplace, hoards of Sound of Music tours (yes, please), seeing the hills that are alive, and not shutting up about The Sound of Music for hours after.

3. Hong Kong

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Traveling to Hong Kong was by far one of the best parts of living in China. That city knows what’s up. We loved spending as much free time as possible among its clean streets and English-speaking people. Highlights include: Po Lin Monastery, Kowloon Road, the medicine shops you could smell for miles, Starbucks, Christmas shopping, being there with Sean, my dad and Joe’s mom, Mexican food (omg, yes, every time), avocado sandwiches at La Baguette, entire Lan Kwai Fong district, Victoria Peak, the gardens, sunsets on the harbor, and the ferry. Bonus: looking through old photos and finding the one above. (Thanks, Dad, this is going on the wall!)

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2. Honeymoon

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Few things have felt as good as stepping on a cruise ship the day after you get married, knowing you don’t have to plan, think about, or do anything. It was the way to go for us. Highlights include: snorkeling in the Caribbean, biking through a rain forest, exploring the ruins in Mexico, drinking coke in Belize (they use brown sugar and it’s a game changer), watching the series finales of both Lost and 24, the buffets, the sun, and–Joe’s favorite–cleaning bird poop off my neck in Honduras. Such romance!

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1. Italy

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This is the place that started it all and since it’s also the place we’ve explored the most, the entire country gets a shout-out. Highlights include: two summers in Lucca, weekends in Cinque Terre (pictured), day trips to Pisa, Florence, everything in Rome (love. it.), Venice ($$$$$), Milan and Verona, gnocchi and gelato, our apartment with Chris, parmesan pizza at La Drogheria, Turin (shroud, Olympics, cold), and, oh yeah, falling in love.

Let’s do it all again.

Love Letter: Year Five

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Dear Husband,

This year marks 10 years of us being together and, as of today, five of those spent as husband and wife. Five years is a big deal, but I’m more enamored with the ten. The decade. The two hands worth of spirit fingers waving crazily in our faces, willing us to join in their celebration. I say yes.

I’m so thankful for every moment our fingers have been linked together, especially for our recent jaunt down Miami’s memory lane. I have always felt safe and protected in your confident grip as we’ve navigated every up and down on our path. You have held my hand in affection, protection, comfort, empathy and support. A small gesture, but a daily dose of connection that nourishes me and us. I love it. I’ll never be too old to hold your hand.

Five years ago today we adorned our hands with not only bands, but also ribbons in our take on the traditional Celtic handfasting ceremony. The main ribbon knotted over our two clasped hands signified our vow to uphold and uplift one another, literally giving the other our hand in marriage.

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Today I will hold your hand as much as possible and probably make a lot of bad puns about how long we’ve been “Maui’d.” But that’s just because I can’t adequately say how grateful I am for you and our marriage, and how much I look forward to the next 5 /10 years. Thank you for loving me so well. Thank you for choosing to tie your hand, and your life, to mine. Thank you for continuing to uplift me. And thank you for leading all of our adventures. You know I’d follow you anywhere.

Because I’m holding on to you, and to us, with both hands.

You’re my favorite,

Your Bride

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The cutest anniversary dessert forks were a sweet gift from Bobbie, Robert and Abby. We will treasure these as much as we treasure them!

# miami trip (May 2015), part 3

A week ago today started out as planned: Joe and I were packing up in Miami and heading to the airport, ready to be home with our pup and non-humid climate. We flew different flights, different airlines, so we said goodbye outside my terminal with a “see ya tonight!” at around 8:30am. My first stop was to browse the airport’s Books & Books, my absolute favorite Miami bookstore.

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My flight was a little delayed to Dallas/Ft. Worth, so I lost myself in dust jacket previews and pretty covers.

But then my flight was delayed a lot. My layover in DFW wasn’t supposed to be that long anyway, so I asked the front desk if I should be worried. Should I book a later flight out from DFW? Noooo, no, no no, no, they said. Apparently everything was getting delayed in DFW because of storms. “You’ll be fine.”

I should have known better.

After a two hour delay in Miami, we finally flew out and reached Texas during a break in the storm. When we landed I quickly turned on my phone and googled my next flight. “Cancelled” it read in big red block letters.

There was a lovely older lady waiting at the gate and before I could open my mouth to ask her how best to proceed she just said “Gate 25.” Oookay, so off I hustled down about 10 gates only to be greeted by the longest line I’ve ever seen in my life. Every flight cancelled, every flight missed, every plane grounded or delayed….their passengers were in a winding line of at least a thousand people trying to reach the three customer service agents at Gate 25. The line was seven gates long itself.

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There just had to be a better way! I frantically called the American Airlines customer number and reservation number in vain. They were so slammed with calls that they wouldn’t let you stay on hold. They just said to call back. The website was down. Nothing was working. The line was all I had.

Lucky for me I was standing next to two awesome people: Jaci (pronounced Jackie) and Tommy.

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Jaci was heading to Spain for a summer study abroad and Tommy was trying to get back to Salt Lake after a cruise with his friends. The three of us stood in line together for six-and-a-half hours! 3:30 to 10pm! Our conversations started out as you might expect “where do you live, what do you do, tell me about your family,” but that only got us so far in the line. By hours 3 and 4 we were asking “what’s your favorite place you’ve ever been, best book you’ve ever read, favorite movie” and by hour 5 we were making up stories about other people in line. “What do you think his name is? What’s his story?” By hour 6? We were in tears.

Tommy, a member of the LDS church and native of Provo, told us that Mother’s Day and Christmas were the only two times a year that an LDS missionary could call home. He had left Miami early to be home for Mother’s Day and to be there when his brother called from Japan. In all honesty, the entire line was filled with these stories with it being Mother’s Day. I told Tommy he should just join the skype call from his phone, so around hour 5 we all got to say hi to his brother in Japan before holding Tommy’s space in line so he could talk to them privately.

Since we hauled it to the line right after the plane, I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast in Miami, so at one point Jaci ran to Taco Bell and picked up dollar tacos and burritos for the people around us. Seriously, these situations bring out both the best and worst in humanity.

Fast forward to 10pm. We finally reach the front of the line. Tommy and I get added to the 150-person strong standby list and learn our first confirmed opportunity to get out would be Wednesday morning. Cue my jaw on the floor. Jaci is told she should have been in a different line for international flights that entire time. She immediately burst into tears and, I admit, my eyes were wet too. It was so sad. Being a TCU student, her friend came to get her for the night and Tommy and I were left to figure out how to spend the rest of our airport party.

Unfortunately all of the shops and food vendors close at 10pm, so we just missed any opportunity to get more food or a toothbrush or a pillow. We had heard there was a 24-hour restaurant in another terminal, so we set off for that. But first we tried to find some cots, which had pretty much all been claimed by the time we got out of the line. We found a family with a stack of them and asked if they could spare two. They said no, but as we were walking away they called us back and gave us each a cot with a swift “we’re getting a hotel, we can’t do this.”

Tommy and I met up with Sue, an older lady who had been visiting her daughter. She didn’t have a cot, so Tommy gave her his and we all found a somewhat-safe, somewhat-clear, somewhat-clean gate to set up camp.

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This is the photo I sent Joe that night. Sue’s in the background and Tommy’s a few rows over.

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This was my view. I figured I stared at it so long I should take a picture of that too.

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Sleeping was impossible. The fluorescent lights were relentless in their brightness and buzzing and the TVs set to the most obnoxious news were screaming at us all night. I finally put the blanket over my face and tried to just rest as much as possible.

By 5:00am new flights were landing at DFW so another level of commotion was added to the mix. I just got up and went in search of food and coffee…even a non-drinker has her limits. When I was walking back to where Tommy and Sue were I noticed that people were already standing in line at the first SLC flight gate, hoping to up their odds at getting on. Crap. So I got in line too. What’s another line at this point? I waited for an hour and when the lady in front of me got to the desk, the agent said “I’m not supposed to be here and I don’t know if anyone else is coming” and walked away. I thought I was going to faint.

So I went back to where I left Tommy and Sue and both were gone, but I quickly found them and told them about the gate agent madness. We walked back over together and got back in line…in case someone came back. Long story a bit shorter: Tommy and I were numbers 80 and 85 on the standby list. Nothing could be done to move us at this time and we’d just have to sit at every flight leaving for SLC to see its availability.

At least we got to watch the sun come up.

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Amongst the abandoned cots everywhere.

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And the horrible footage of the storm that left us there in the first place. Absolutely heartbreaking.

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But we finally were able to eat some real food between our gate hopping all morning.

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At some point before lunch I emailed work and asked them to see if the travel agent who booked my flight could find me a way out of there faster. After a few emails back and forth, she said she could fly me to San Diego and get me the last seat (on Delta!) to Salt Lake that afternoon. “Will that work?” YES, YES!, all of the yeses!!!! And, after a few more lines to wait through, that’s how I got this.

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I had five boarding/standby passes littering my purse–each a little token of hope–but this was my Golden Ticket. I was going home. It was sad leaving my partners in this crime, but they understood. Get on that plane! they said.

As grateful as I was to be on ANY plane, this was my view.

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I didn’t know I could be so claustrophobic! San Diego was the anti-DFW. Clean and empty. I still can’t believe I flew from Miami to San Diego–coast to freakin’ coast–to get home, but I would’ve done anything at that point.

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When I landed in Utah I was told to go to the Delta counter to file paperwork for my American-tagged luggage. I took a chance and just walked to the American terminal, hoping my bag made it before I did. Sure enough, it was there and we had the most glorious of reunions.

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As I waited outside for Joe, I was hit by the fact that I was breathing my first fresh air in 40 hours. I wanted to kiss the ground.

We pulled away from the airport and my phone dinged. It was Tommy. He was going to get on the last flight out that night. No Wednesday flights needed! It was amazing to find those friends in that horrific line. It was a bond forged fast and furious in ridiculousness, hope and sore feet. But, at the heart of this mess are the tornado victims, whose losses were not lost on us, even in our own misery.

And now it’s Sunday again and I’m back at the airport for another two flights. Apparently I just can’t quit. Let’s hope no cots are needed for the next 10 days.

Friday Five: Travel Nightmares

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

Soon you will hear all about my trials and tribulations in finding my way back to Utah after last week’s trip to Miami. It’s a doozy. One my back still hasn’t quite recovered from.

It left me thinking about all of the horrible things we’ve encountered in our travels. As we let the suspense settle, here are our top five travel nightmares in no particular order.

5.  The Sounds of Silence

When we traveled to Europe with our Chinese orchestra, we flew back from Paris. A 15 hour flight that should have been filled with several movies, TV options and radio. But upon boarding the plane they announced that the electrical system for the plane’s entertainment system was out. So we were left in silence for 15 hours and it was absolutely brutal. Especially when we couldn’t sleep.

4. Frolic and Detour

In flying to Italy for the first time, the fog over Pisa was so thick that they forced us to land in Genoa and take a hot, crowded bus through the mountains to get us back to Tuscany. It was not quite the way we pictured arriving in the country where we were to spend our summer. A little less glamorous and a lot more nauseous. Como se dice “the worst”?

3. The Wheels on the Bus

Our second summer in Italy had us traveling south to perform an outdoor concert in Mercogliano. It’s over five hours, especially by bus. But those five hours quickly turned sour when we realized the A/C was out. Italy + July = A/C. Always. This is a math rule for the books. We were so uncomfortable and I remember a fellow horn player and resident funny guy, Nathan, yelling out “This is San Girolamo on wheels!” (San Girolamo was one of our rehearsal spaces that didn’t have A/C. We all hated it.) The worst part of the trip was being stuck on the highway for hours and not knowing why. We even got off the bus and sat on the side of the highway for hours until we started moving again…only to realize that there had been a fatal accident causing the shutdown. We drove right by the burning car and saw their luggage (clothes, shoes, books) strewn across the highway. If we didn’t feel sick before, we certainly did then. Here are a few pics I found from the highway delay.

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2. Strike Out

Another Italy travel story! When we were heading home after that second summer, we stayed overnight in Pisa to be near the airport for our early flight. Our room phone started ringing in the middle of the night. It was the front desk telling us that all of the taxi drivers in Pisa just went on strike and wouldn’t be able to drive us to the airport. Cue absolute panic. We had instruments and we had luggage and now we had no way of getting across town. We were wide awake so we started seeing how long it would take us to walk if we started ASAP. The front desk called again when we were ready to go and said he had found us a driver. Crisis averted. Hearts pounding for hours after.

1. Hot(Mess)-Lanta

Spoiler Alert: I had to sleep in the DFW airport on Sunday and the only other time I’ve ever had to do that was in Atlanta. But that time I was with Joe and we were trying to get back to Miami after our Tulsa wedding reception. Our flight to Miami was cancelled three times before they made an announcement that there was ONE FLIGHT back to Miami that night and it was in a different terminal. They said a few spots were left to whoever could get to the desk first. Oh my god, Delta…why?! An entire plane worth of frantic people ran to the skyrail and when we were hustling up the escalator to get to the gate, this guy behind me knocked me down face first on the tile and left me there! Long story short: by the time we got to the gate it was too late; a woman from first class was sobbing and screaming that she should get priority over the minions in coach (b-word!); and I was completely bruised on wrists, elbows and knees. Upon realizing there were so many people stuck overnight, Delta dumped trash bags full of pillows and blankets and we had to fight for them Hunger Games style. Again, the madness! Joe made us a bed out of seats in a quiet terminal where we slept lay awake all night with our horns and bags between us. I have hated Delta ever since.

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# miami trip (May 2015), part 2

Like I said yesterday, Joe and I really wanted to trace our relationship milestones while we were in Miami. We managed to hit all of the major highlights. Ready to read some sappiness and see a million photos?!

First up: You know, YOU KNOW, we had to hit up Big Pink. Here’s a glimpse of the sky when we got there. How foreboding.

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We managed to beat the downpour by a few minutes, but were too distracted by these dishes to worry about its duration. There’s really no better place to be stranded. Just look at HALF of their menu.

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Here’s Joe’s Malted Waffle Burger.

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Lord, this Hollywood Breakfast. I think it would be my final meal, should I ever have a choice.

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Lucky for us, by the time we devoured our food, the storm had quickly passed. We didn’t even need to stall with dessert, which is unfortunate.

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Big Pink is just a short walk from South Pointe Park, where Joe and I got engaged. We were just going to make the sunset if we hurried…hence me speed walking.

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A few ocean glimpses along our way:

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I showed Joe the new pier before walking to our grassy spot, where a question and an affirmative set us on our current course.

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Here’s what the scene looked like over five and a half years ago.

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Ah, #Falvey2. That’s me!

And here’s what it looks like now. Pretty much the same!

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Totally breathtaking sunset thanks to that storm.

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It was beautiful; it was romantic; it was just as I remember it.

Saturday brought a break from work for me and so we took advantage of our rental car to head off the beach and explore our former hood…our old stomping grounds…The Gables.

It’s silly, but I started getting excited just seeing the streets I drove endlessly.

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And by the time we reached our old place, I was in full-out freak-out.

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We. Lived. HERE!

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I guess I’m not the only person to bust their butt on these concrete stairs. New addition: grip strips. Old souvenir: nerve damage

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I once saved a kitten who fell out of that drain hole in the top left. And that’s our living room window.

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To make this totally legit, we parked our car at our building and set off on foot. It’s a walk we did almost weekly and where we had some of our best conversations about hopes and dreams and future dog names.

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It felt amazing to walk these familiar, picturesque streets. We loved this neighborhood. Still do.

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Destination: Miracle Mile.

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We spent so, so, so much of our free time here, just walking and watching. It’s 90% bridal couture shops, 7% restaurants and 3% weird.

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I found my wedding dress on this very strip. I’ve never been a couture kind of girl, though.

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Our old burger joint was long gone, so we tried their new one: BurgerFi, which was really good. Gotta appreciate a good veggie burger.

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On the way back to the car, we made one last stop to bring everything full circle. Our wedding venue!

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It looks a little different now and when we walked up they were prepping for that night’s wedding. So I did what anyone would do….trespassed!

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For some reason I felt like shimmying down the side of the building was my best bet at getting a look at the courtyard where we said “I do.” Here’s Joe coming after me when I realized they built a wall around the AC units. This is all I could see by holding my camera over my head.

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Didn’t stop me from trying to climb the dang wall. Unsuccessfully.

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I was not about to leave without seeing this spot, so I (much to Joe’s alarm) marched right into the building and found a woman who invited us to take as much time as we liked. Well…that was easier!

I caught my breath upon seeing this familiar room. I can still remember standing in here with my Dad before the wedding started. It looks exactly as it did five years ago.

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As did this courtyard.

Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Our wedding tree!

Before:

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After:

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Many smiles and a few happy tears later, we were on our way back to the car. Our route brought us to this roundabout that we used to run with Bella. Actually, she knew what “run the roundabout” meant and would dash to it as soon as we’d say it.

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So, of course we ran it for her. #allthesniffs

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All that about tapped my emotional reserves, so we only had one more thing to do before leaving the next day. File this under “Obligatory,” see also “Awesome.”

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Much like when we lived there, we went to the beach fully clothed. Pale people problems.

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The beach was quite a bit more busy than when I was there in January.

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Final stops for the trip: to eat the pizza we had at our rehearsal dinner…

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…and, no surprise, Shake Shack. Just for this beautiful cup.

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It was the best of trips, largely in part to our Saturday full of chasing memories. We’ve come a long way, but there will always be a part of us in these Gables.