Thursday, December 31, 2009

Travel (& other) Highlights of 2009

I rang in 2009 in Scottsdale, AZ alone in my hotel room. The almost perfect end (would have been nice to share it with someone special) to a wonderful last minute vacation to see the Grand Canyon for the first time. I had gone to bed after watching the ball drop in Times Square on tv at 10pm local but was awakened by fireworks at midnight. I stood in my robe and watched from my balcony as they exploded and the light shimmered on the lake, so close I could smell them. A few hours later, I was on my way to the airport for the flight back to NYC. An auspicious beginning to the year for a traveler, spending 01JAN on an airplane! Later in January, I was in Nashville to celebrate my step-dad Ronnie's 50th birthday. With little advance notice, I invited some old junior/high school friends to get together for a so-called mini-reunion inspired by our reconnection on Facebook. Only a handful showed up but we had fun reminiscing and catching up anyway. Plus, I "re-met" Greg LaRowe face-to-face for the first time in almost 17 years and we hung out with more old friends until 3am. Most of you know the rest of the story; if not, keep reading... I got a last minute opportunity to go to the Grammy's in Los Angeles in early February and managed to book flights & hotel for a reasonable price one day prior to departure. I invited Greg to come, too (what an awesome first date right?!?!) but he couldn't get off work. Still, I had a great time hanging out with my Nokia buddies, going backstage, to the big after party, and to an exclusive after-after party in a big stretch limo. Greg came to NYC to visit me (& the city) for the first time on 26FEB, which also became the official start date of our relationship. It was just for the weekend but we made the most of it and it even snowed the night before he left. Very romantic! My maternal grandmother's 80th birthday was in late March, so I flew to Nashville to celebrate and see the Patterson family all together for the first time in many years. It was the perfect opportunity for Greg to meet everyone as well. The next day, my best friend Amy & I left for a week-long girls vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We had a wonderful time despite having to purchase warmer clothes for the unexpectedly chilly weather. And we went hot air ballooning over the Rio Grande! Upon returning to work, I started the wheels in motion for my eventual departure from my job as well as from NYC. I had been planning this for years, but finally reached a point mentally & financially where I was ready to take this gigantic step without regrets. It took several weeks to iron out the details, but I was fortunate to be able to stretch out my employment for another 4+ months under very agreeable circumstances. To seal the deal, I also decided to have my hair dyed back to a more manageable natural brunette (from high maintenance rock star platinum blond!). Greg was able to work remotely for several weeks in April, so he came to stay with me in NY and truly experience life in the big city. We went to a movie premiere (Woody Allen's "Whatever Works"), a Late Show with David Letterman taping, the final Knicks (v Nets) home game of the season, and both a Yankees game at their new stadium and a Mets game at the new Citi Field. Of course we also just explored the city, with outings to Brooklyn, Harlem, Central Park, Chinatown, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and more. In May, I flew back to Nashville so I could accompany Greg on the annual Hermitage United Methodist Church trip to Mt LeConte Lodge, accessible via hiking trails only. We took the 6.5 mile Trillium Gap trail to the summit (6593' elevation) and overnighted at the lodge then hiked down the next day and stayed in a B&B outside of Gatlinburg for a couple of nights. Greg came to NYC for the last few weeks in June to help me say goodbye to my beloved city. We had plenty of adventures -- a second helping of Yankees & Mets games, special meals at great restaurants, fun get-togethers with friends & coworkers, and visits to the big museums and tourist attractions that we hadn't covered in April. I also spent a lot of the month packing, selling or otherwise getting rid of excess stuff. My one way flight to Nashville was scheduled for 30JUN but just as Greg & I were about to call a cab we both received calls from the airline that our flight was canceled and we were rebooked on completely different itineraries THE FOLLOWING DAY!!! Once I got it all sorted with an agent we ended up rebooking for 02JUL and had a couple of extra nights to say goodbye. Of course, this was actually a bit traumatic as I had made my peace with leaving and was then confronted with the reality of it all over again. But we had a good couple of days and even volunteered to give up our seats on our oversold flight on the 2nd in order to get $300 travel vouchers (each). I spent most of July acclimating to life in Nashville. I was still working full time, albeit remotely. Greg & I had some fun nights hanging out downtown and I enjoyed visiting with family & friends. I also turned 35 (what I consider to be about the halfway point in life), bought my Acer netbook which I absolutely love, and finally started this blog! Wanting to take advantage of Greg's & my ability to work remotely, we decided to "live" in Seattle for the month of August. You can read more about our adventures in the Pacific Northwest in archived posts but suffice it to say that it really persuaded both of us to move to Portland, Seattle, or somewhere in that vicinity whenever we do settle down together. The beginning of September marked my last day of employment. It was with a big sigh of relief that I shipped all of my work stuff back up to NY, not because I don't love the people I was working with (truly the best work experience I have ever had!), rather I just needed to make a clean break and start my "new" life. It was also the perfect time for an extended vacation, so Greg & I went to Eastern Europe (Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Auschwitz, Budapest) for a couple of weeks over the end of September & early October (see archived posts). Always wanting to live life to the fullest, Greg & I had already booked an apartment in Waikiki for one month starting in mid-October, again taking advantage of his ability to work remotely. We had such a good time (see archived posts) that we extended our stay another full month and did not return to Nashville until 14DEC. Highlights include our weekend trips to the Big Island and Maui, using our Honolulu Zoo membership (one of my 36th birthday gifts to Greg), and skydiving from 14,000ft while my mom & Ronnie were visiting. Since returning to Nashville, we have spent most of our spare time visiting with friends & family over the holidays. We managed to divide Christmas pretty evenly between our two families, seeing everyone that lives in the Nashville area in the days leading up to & on the 25th and then traveling to northeastern Indiana on the 26th to spend a long weekend visiting Greg's extended family and enjoying the snow. We are leaving tomorrow morning for the New Year's Eve Chick-fil-A college bowl game in Atlanta and will return to Nashville on the 2nd. So, as my year started, it will end, on the road again! I would be remiss not to mention a few of the things I was most thankful for in 2009, some of which really need to be expounded on, but will keep it brief here. In no particular order they are: Facebook, friends & family, good beer, good health & health insurance, a good job, financial security, and that I am now also part of We. :) Happy New Year everyone! I'm looking forward to sharing my adventures around the world in 2010!


  1. that fills in all the gaps from the posts i read over the months- awesome!!! is there any more or pictures of the Grand Canyon part- that's where i want to go this year.

  2. sounds like a very rich and exciting year. Best wishes for 2010!

  3. Life is short. I always get excited when I see people choosing to spend their limited time traveling.

    Have a great, adventurous 2010.