The Travel Tree

I love souvenirs.  I very easily can get suckered into those “I ❤ NY” t-shirts on the street and tacky little things that cost a fortune but don’t mean much, so a few years ago I decided to narrow my focus when it came to travel souvenirs or “merch” as Scube jokingly calls it.  As a result, instead of bringing back a $10 two inch Statue of Liberty or Leaning Tower of Pisa, I look for Christmas tree ornaments.  It’s my thing, and it drives Scube nuts, especially if we’re traveling somewhere in say, April.  But thus far, my success rate is at 100%, not without some required creativity.  Tip: Buy a magnet if no Christmas ornaments are available, loop a ribbon and with a glue gun, adhere the ribbon to the back of the magnet. Insta-ornament.

So as Scube and I put our tree up a few weeks ago, I was all excited to deck the halls with some new ornaments that we collected this year, from St. John, Capri, Ogunquit, Maine and Portland, Oregon.  What I love so much about these keepsakes, as with each ornament I dig out of the box, I’m taken momentarily back to that trip, a memory and moment in time that I can revisit each year on our “travel tree”.  Be it biking across the Golden Gate Bridge (and being scared out of my mind! It’s so narrow, there are so many people!), to gorging at a buffet at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas with the senior citizen crowd (jet lag had us up soooooo early, and who can say no to ice cream for breakfast?? Not this girl!), or meeting Sylvia, the third generation ceramic shop owner in Capri who thought she would study languages and travel the world before taking over for her Mother, and who now hopes her daughter will take over for her.  It’s all there, wrapped in paper towels and unearthed each year.

While our tree also has the requisite snowmen, Santas, and glittery balls,  our memories littered throughout seem to matter so much more.  And what started out as an almost silly way to avoid useless crap, it’s turned into something that I look forward to sharing with my own children and grandchildren someday.  The ornaments are a gateway to my memories, and hopefully our future spawn will think we’re pretty cool someday, when they’re not too busy being embarrassed by us.

What is your souvenir of choice?

The Wild West Part One

So I have something really embarrassing to admit.  If you read the About Me section you’ll note that I’d only been on an airplane once before the age of 18.  It gets worse. In the United States I hadn’t been outside the eastern timezone until after I graduated college.  I KNOW.  WHAT was I doing with the first 22 years of life??*

Needless to say, with that in mind, my boyfriend/fiance/now husband and I instituted a policy to help me see the good ole fashioned USofA.  The thought was (now is) each year we take one domestic and one international trip, that way I can see all the beauty this country has to offer without sacrificing a stamp on my passport in the process (I love my passport stamps).

After much thought, we planned out a 10 day wild west road trip, starting in swinging Las Vegas.

vegasI didn’t really know what to expect from Las Vegas, and honestly, I didn’t expect to like it.  The only thing I knew going in, apart from the obvious, was that I must choose wisely when picking a place to buffet.  I had no idea that buffet culture was such a thing!  After extensive research, I decided that the Wicked Spoon inside the Cosmopolitan would be the one.  I had read that it was the best buffet in town, and as a result, Caesars spent millions of dollars to create its own rival buffet.  (Note: next time I must check out Caesars.)  After eating fried chicken, waffles, fruit, ice cream, french toast, and pancakes for breakfast (yikes!), my husband and I slowly rolled each other out of the Cosmopolitan and onto the rest of the strip.  And we walked the heck out of that strip.  I’m fairly confident my Jawbone Activity Tracker tapped out at well over 30,000 steps.  Does that undo the breakfast ice cream?  Probably not, but it certainly made us feel better!

vegas 2My husband and I aren’t gamblers, so we saw a Cirque du Soleil show (he was not to be dragged to Britney, sad face) and checked out the brand spanking new Linq.  It had just opened a few days prior to our visit and we were thrilled to be some of the first on the holy roller!  It was so new that we had the entire compartment to ourselves.  We watched the beautiful Bellagio fountains from above and just took it all in.

After a night at the MGM Grand in Vegas (which I highly recommend), we hopped into our rental car (a fab little Prius), and it was time to check out the Hoover Dam, and then march onward into Utah and Arizona.  Granted, there was a pit stop in Lake Las Vegas – but we’ll gloss over that for now, review to come later.

Stay tuned for part two, as our foray into red rocks, cacti and bucket list items are just beginning!

*Answer: Exploring the eastern seaboard.