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Best day ever

22 Jan

It’s the middle of another Midwestern winter and my thoughts drift to past vacations in warmer locations, and to my favorite day. Yes. My favorite day. Ever. I spent my 36th birthday in Queenstown, New Zealand. We were staying in a range of accommodations on that trip, and woke up in a very shabby, communal bathroom, backpacker lodge. Not a room that encourages lingers. So we quickly got up and got moving, heading to our adventure of the day. Hang gliding.

Launch site

It was amazing. I’d never done anything like it, and loved it. We then got into our rental car and drove around the area, stopped at a few vineyards, watched people bungee jump (we’d exhausted our adventure budget – that kind of fun doesn’t come cheap!), lunch at a brewpub, then onto Wankaka, a smaller town that friends told us was not to be missed. They were right. It’s on a lake and is stunning. I’d decided that we were not spending my birthday in a backpacker lodge, and booked us into what is still one of my favorite places on earth. River Run.

We checked into our room, opened the door to the patio and met our neighbors.

Just outside our door

We went for a walk around the grounds, following a creek through the woods. Came back to the room, cleaned up, and went to the communal happy hour. There were about 8 other guests, from around the world, including a local couple celebrating their engagement. His family owned a vineyard, so we stopped there the next day, and discovered a favorite wine that we can find here occasionally.

A gourmet dinner was served around a communal table. The company was interesting. The setting was amazing. The wine was fantastic. My husband gave me a pair of earrings from a very cool jewelry store we’d found in Wellington a few days earlier.

The rest of the trip was incredible, but that day stands out as THE BEST EVER (said in booming announcer voice). A picture from the next day is too beautiful not to share tho – so I’ll end with it.

The start of our hike, the day after the best day ever



15 Jan

Snack on a blinged out poodle? No silly. Eat. Sparkly. Dogs.

Food. Jewelry. Dogs. And other things I love. On a schedule. Because in addition to loving food, jewelry and dogs, I also love schedules.

It’s Saturday. And Saturday is going to be my day of wanderlust. Exploring my hometown. Planning my next vacation. Thinking about why I love to travel. Reflecting on what I’ve learned on trips.

I live in one of the greatest cities in the world, yet fall into that trap that I have to believe most of the world falls into, of saving the spirit of adventure for vacations, not for their own hometown. I’ve been starting a list of things that I want to explore in my town, once the snow clears and I can get outside and explore. Snow clearing and being able to explore on foot is important to how I like to see a place.

My husband always teases me that my favorite thing to do is “walk around and see stuff”. He’s right. I always have a hard time choosing between wandering around neighborhoods or diving into a museum filled with masterpieces. I’ve been to Paris 3 times and have never set foot in the Louvre. And I have two art history degrees!

This city is filled with specialty museums. Each community seems to have one. And I’ve never been to any of them. I want to spend a few days going to the Mexican Fine Arts Museum, the DuSable Museum, the Pullman Porter Museum, the Museum of Surgical Science and I’m sure there are many more. Make theme days. Find places to eat that go with each museum (well, maybe not the Surgical Science one). And see what the city has to offer beyond the big famous palaces of culture.

So stay tuned for those adventures. And for tomorrow’s post. Sunday is cooking day.

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