Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Solar Eclipse Journey

video

Just a week ago we made the trek to Missouri to be in the path of totality. It was exciting stuff to be on the road headed to such a monumental event and one that, in our lifetime, we may not be able to see again. My husband started plotting this adventure back in April and was shocked to find all campgrounds in the area to be booked.  He did find a hotel in Columbia, MO for the night and then we'd head to Boonville, MO to be right in the path. He even had a large park picked out that would be perfect for hanging out and waiting for the moon to cross over the sun in the middle of the day.
{Harley Park-same location-after eclipse}
Somehow he managed to take care of many details except to find the appropriate glasses. This is the part that stunned me. Here we are making this 5 hour journey to watch an amazing moment in time and not prepared with the right equipment. We might be left looking like Mr. Trump squinting into the sky. Once we checked into the hotel I made this my priority. Luckily the University of Missouri book store had ordered more than enough paper glasses and were selling them at a reasonable rate. We were set for the next day. We had fun at Cosmo Park with an eclipse themed party; live music, food trucks, and fresh local beer.  After that Groovy Girl picked a place for dinner; Babbo's Spaghetteria!  We headed back to the other side of town, near the U of M, and found this place in a highly traffic commercial area-not our usual dining preference but it's what she'd picked.

This is the thing with road trips that I love.  If it is a new destination for you; you have know idea what you're going to get. The place from the front looked like a glorified Olive Garden but what was inside was a different story.  Our dining experience was delicious. I had a strawberry salad that was the perfect size with great flavor. And Greg and G.G. both had pasta dishes they loved as well. We shared a bottle of wine as our excellent server informed us the bottles were on sale AND we could take the rest of it with us. I think that's a great rule.  We had a leisurely dinner, enjoying the staff, the food, and the ambiance even though we were in a fancy strip mall. A good reminder to never judge.

Harley Park after eclipse}
The next day we hung out in Harley Park with our own snacks and beverages. The park service of Missouri were extremely helpful and polite, using golf carts to help ferry people and their chairs, coolers, and bags up and down the hills.  Super hospitable.  After the amazing event we hung around a bit, waiting for the rush to leave the park. And in order to hopefully miss much of the highway traffic we hung around in downtown Boonville doing some vintage shopping.

Our drive home was l-o-n-g. In other words we DID NOT miss the traffic. In Hannibal, one of our favorite little cities, we decided we needed a dinner break. We trawled through town looking for something interesting other than fast food and one of our phones brought up the Rustic Oak (motto: best food by a damn site). It had an interested front-like an old west saloon and we walked in. This is again just part of the road trip experience but let me tell you flat out that this place sucked. It's tough to be a foodie in the real world of restaurants on the road.

Oh the waitress was okay and the decorations were interesting to look at but the food-total bomb.  It had an extensive menu, with many pages to look through. At the appetizer section both my husband and I spotted fried okra, which we both love. We ordered that with our waters while we continued to browse the menu. I finally spotted fish tacos and felt pleased that I'd found something. I'm usually pretty happy with just an app or a salad but this was the kind of place that included meat on every salad. Blech. A good salad does not need meat. Just fyi. Eventually Greg and GG found things they were excited about and our order was placed. Oh how I wish I could take it back.  We knew we were in trouble when the okra showed up looking like hard little puff balls straight from a freezer box.

We waited a long time for the rest of our food to arrive and when it did we should have sent it all right back. There was something off-tasting in my tacos-I still don't know what it was. It wasn't spoiled or rotten but it was on the way. It might have been the cole slaw or something in the fish batter-but I had to stop eating after a couple of bites. Greg agreed after one bite that I was right. He had a burger (the meat was good) but the lettuce was like the limpest piece of bottom of the bag that should have been tossed away, the bun was stale and GG's chicken parmigiano was gooped with a bunch of really plastic cheese.  We laughed at all of these things although we did turn the fish tacos back in to the waitress.

You just never know and that's what adds to the excitement and fun. We have so many memories like this as a family. And we are lucky to have them. The Rustic Oak will live in infamy when we joke about crappy food.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

We need diverse books

I heard some guy interviewed on NPR today discussing recent events in Charlottesville, VA. He ended the discussion with an admonition that everyone should invite a family of a different color, religion, belief system over for dinner; that through personal interactions such as a simple family meal we could end racial strife.


It sounds good. And I do have diverse people to my house for dinner. I want to know who's going to volunteer to have the neo-Nazi family over though?  Not me. Maybe I would IF I thought I could magically unwrap their hatred.  I'd rather have Tina Fey over for dinner though and I'd serve a sheet cake at the end. And then we're just preaching to the choir.


Quite awhile ago (before the election ended so tragically) I ordered a stack of books from Amazon.  I'd read a review about Angie Thomas' new book that enticed me and two other books were suggested to me by that handy Amazon tool.  In a rare moment of frivolousness I ordered all three-very unlike me. I read The Hate you give pretty quickly and LOVED it. I promote it all around town and on twitter. Loved it. She wrote an interesting story with genuine characters on a timely topic. The second book was Renee Watson's book Piecing me together; an excellent coming-of-age tale about tough choices and being yourself.  I discovered I had an ARC of an earlier Watson book, This side of home, about a set of twins coming into their own as separate young women, which I then devoured as well. The 3rd book took me a bit longer to get to-I don't know why-but it set on my dining room table for months. I packed it for vacation though and read it on the road. Ibi Zoboi's American Street.  Unlike the other three this one is not about the black experience in America but a Haitian immigrants experience as a young high schooler trying to learn how to be American amidst family strife.  This one I enjoyed yet I struggled with decisions made and lack of consequences for Fabiola's cousins.  I look forward to other stories she may have to tell. Another one I just finished that can be added is Ghost by @JasonReynolds83, a powerful tale about a young man trying to make good choices in his life.

In an attempt to explore new human experiences any of these titles would fit the bill. Feel free to invite them to dinner, follow these authors on twitter, and pay attention. I believe in the library but buying diverse books sends a message to publishers: #weneeddiversebooks


@acthomasbooks
@reneewauthor
@ibizoboi

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Vacation

I have a few great vacation photos to share with you.  It fills me with great joy to get together with family and I am blessed to have such an amazing extended clan on my husband's side. We traversed through D.C., NYC, Brooklyn, and Rochester, NY.  Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it and am happy to be home.


Three handsome Holt men, happy to be together, talking politics.


We toured the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and it was spectacular and overwhelming. So much information on 5 floors.  I need to go back and look at all that we missed but it was a great first look.  Japhy and Sophie enjoyed walking around together.


We made it to the top to view the Lincoln Memorial-it was a struggle and really sweaty (temps were in the 90's). Anton enjoyed his first look at D.C. and the National Mall area.


My mother-in-law wins the "best" MIL award.  She always makes our time together special with food, wine, stories, and lots of hugs. I am very lucky to have Allen and Phyllis in my life. This is our last meal together before we head off to Brooklyn to see Kaylee.


We all enjoyed School of Rock on Broadway as our friend Joel Waggoner (@joelwags85) rocked several roles in this kid-friendly show. We loved our backstage tour, meeting a few cast mates, and dinner with him.  If you are headed to NY anytime soon-this is a show to see. Greg and I also saw Waitress, which is not kid-friendly, and was excellent!


Joel and Tristan right outside vegan sushi place, Beyond Sushi. Tristan and I loved this place-the flavors were delicious!


We took a quick side trip out to Coney Island and it was a perfect afternoon. Not too hot, nice and breezy, we enjoyed the beach and the boardwalk before heading back to Brooklyn to meet up with friends at Drummer's Grove in Prospect Park.

Sunday morning we had a delicious Blessings brunch with live jazz playing right behind us. We loved getting to see Kaylee's neighborhood and the Gimlet Media office area. We also had a great dinner at Frankies in Brooklyn.



And our last stop was Rochester, NY for a Red Wings game (AA for MN Twins). We loved Rochester and would have loved to explore more.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What a beautiful day

It's my birthday.  All day.  I still like my birthday. This morning I did a gray hair check and I still don't have any, much to my husband's irritation.  I'm in the age range where there should be at least a few and it's not like I've had a completely stress-free life. I've not. Family and financial problems are always near.

Here are a few things I'd like for my birthday:


1. Hydro Flask - In researching water bottles I decided stainless steel is the way to go. I've had several glass bottles and both broke within a short amount of time.  I'm not a huge fan of drinking out of plastic but my Tupperware bottle from Target has lasted the longest.  I like that stainless will keep my cold water cold just as my Cup of Joe stainless keeps my hot water + lemon hot for long time.

2. Black Dansko clogs - My last pair's heel broke at the end of the school year which was really unfortunately. These are my go to shoes for just about any casual event or school. At some point I'd love to have a funky pair as well but for now I'm happy with the classic.

3. Birkenstocks - I'm on my 3rd pair and Groovy Teen is a recent convert. My black pair of clog style are really worn down and I'd like to trade them in for a brown pair of suede two straps.  So comfortable.

As you can see my feet are very important and I'm happy wearing sandals well into September or October weather-permitting. Plus I like quality over quantity.


4. Pink cocktail ring from Sundance - I have two beautiful rings from Sundance and I'd like to add this one to my finger.

5. Books, Books, Books - I was able to browse today at one of my favorite bookstores, Politics and Prose.  Day is complete. I didn't even buy anything for myself.

Except tonight we eat at Jewel of India so my day is far from finished.

I'm happy with hand made cards and hugs from my kids though. And considering we are on the East Coast visiting family I'll happily take hugs from everyone.