Down in Dallas

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This past weekend, I escaped the bitter cold of Illinois and headed down to Texas. While I’ve been to San Antonio and Austin, this was my first trip to Dallas. I was in town to visit two of my favorite people, Manjula and Fahad, both of whom I met while I lived in NYC, and both of whom happened to end up in Dallas.  While I didn’t do much in the way of sightseeing, I had a blast catching up with friends… which is really what it’s all about!

Welcome cocktails at M’s.

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Black, grey, and white… former New Yorkers through and through!

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The Rustic; quintessentially Texan.

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Off the beaten path…

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So excited to see this girl!

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God bless ‘merica, y’all.IMG_4866

New friends…

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and old friends!

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Definitely rustic.

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Selfie!

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Brunch… outdoors! Amazing food and drinks at Delfrisco’s Grille.

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F’s balcony is the perfect spot for afternoon cocktails. The view!

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Strolling around Uptown. Requisite “stay awake” coffee stop.

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Cowboy Cool.

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Dinner at Velvet Taco, home of the fusion Chicken Tikka & Paneer Tacos. Perfection!

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Singing and dancing our hearts out at Dram. Definitely hit my 10,000 steps that night!

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Morning after brunch at Breadwinners. So necessary after 4 hrs of sleep!

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I had a blast in Dallas! Thanks to all for a fun weekend!

Cruisin’ the Carolinas

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Remember that time I had a blog? Yeah… it’s been a while, but what can I say; the holidays are just full of so many fun events that I spent my time being out and about rather than at a laptop. And so here it is, the tail end of December and I’m about to fill you in on my Thanksgiving trip to the Carolinas!

This year, my family and I decided to convene at my sister’s place in South Carolina. She’s a busy medical resident and her schedule didn’t allow her to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. My best friend lives close by in North Carolina, so I decided to visit with her as well. I figured the warm weather wouldn’t hurt either!

I flew from Chicago to Charlotte, NC, and Candace, her husband, and son (my Godson, Colton!) picked me up for dinner. Look who we ran into! My friends Evelyn and Chris from Chicago, who recently relocated to the area. It was pretty awesome to be able to catch up with them, and also introduce friends from different chapters of my life.

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Back at the house, Colton and I had lots of silly time before bedtime. Oh, and he said he wore this shirt just for me – I love this kid!

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The next day was lots of fun too. First, breakfast at a super cute southern diner.IMG_3740

This kid loves BACON!

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Then it was time to come home and play. Man, 4 year olds can really wear you out!

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First we rode bikes up and down the driveway (taking a break to attend to some very important paperwork, as you can see). Then it was time for swings! “You have to pump your legs to swing higher!”

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After all of that activity, it was time for a snack… cupcakes it is! The photo below is my favorite of the post. Because Colton wanted ALL THE SPRINKLES! A kid after my own heart.

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“Look, I did it!”

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Colton’s masterpiece… or as Candace called it, “The diabetes special!” heheIMG_3777

Here is my (relatively tame) version!IMG_3781

After such a fun day, it was soon time to head over the border to South Carolona. Road trip!

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Upon arriving into town, we went out to dinner with my sis. There is some surprisingly good/authentic Thai food in the rural south!

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The rest of my time in SC was very laid back and relaxing. Dr.Sister worked several long shifts at the hospital, so my parents and I kept things pretty low key. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this casual before in my life! I honestly had no idea that my dad even owned a sweatshirt, no lie.

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You’d think with everyone else on their laptops, I would have gotten some blogging done, but I was too busy spending some quality time with my sister’s cat, Sir Pounce de Leon. Thankfully, we are on a first name basis and he lets me call him Pounce!

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We had a great Thanksgiving meal too, with my mom, sister, and I whipping up some great dishes. Food-wise, it was probably one of the very best Thanksgivings. But people-wise, we definitely missed being with our big, extended family up north! Still, it was nice to spend some quality time with my immediate family, and do things like go for long walks, explore the area, and have movie nights.  Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Chicago! This time I flew out of the exceedingly charming Greenville airport.

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I had a lovely time in the Carolinas. I definitely plan to go back when it’s warmer so I can take advantage of the hiking and lake activities!

Lost in translation

My coworker shared this video with me and I could not stop laughing. When traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, you may or may not want to try Catherine Tate’s method of communication!

 

Chop, chop!

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Sometimes a girl just needs a change. And what better way to do that than a fun new ‘do!

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I knew I wanted something different, but the big chop was basically a game-time decision. For the third time, I donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which uses the hair to make wigs, which are then provided free of charge to women with cancer. The last time was almost exactly two years ago. This was my longest donation – 12 inches. That’s a foot of hair! Bonus for me, way less time to blow-dry my hair in the mornings!

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Over the years my hair has been many different lengths and styles, but I haven’t cut it this short in a really long time (maybe college?). My awesome stylist, Sheena, and I decided on a medium length, inverted bob. Takes some getting used to when I look in the mirror! The truth is, I find it easy to hide behind my hair sometimes. It’s almost refreshing not to have that safety blanket. In a way it feels like a visual representation of other big life changes. Out with the old and in with the new!

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Glacier National Park: Avalanche Lake and Trail of the Cedars

Glacier National Park

After our amazing stay in Wyoming, we hopped back in the car for another long road trip stretch to… MONTANA! Yest another new state for me, and Big Sky Country did not disappoint. Our destination was Glacier National Park, and our home base for this leg of the road trip was beautiful Whitefish, MT.

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Glacier National Park is very large. As in, it takes at least three hours to get from one side to the other. Additionally, lodging was somewhat limited as it was still peak season, and we decided on this trip somewhat last minute. Since we ended up staying  in a town to the west of the park, it was really only feasible for us to visit the attractions on the western side of the park. The majestic views of the eastern side will have to wait for another trip!

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Our first full day was a little dreary and damp. Good thing we had those rain ponchos! We stopped at the visitor center to get some info; good thing we did – we were told that the park was so crowded that the parking spaces near the trails were likely full. We were encouraged to take the shuttle, which was relatively easy and painless.

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We opted for the hike to Avalanch Lake, which starts out with the very easy 1.0 mile Trail of the Cedars. Due to the excess humidity in this valley, it is not uncommon for the cedars to reach 100 ft in height, and 4 to 7 ft in diameter. Many of the trees in this area are 500 years old. It’s pretty cool to walk amongst that history. From the Trail of the Cedars you can find the offshoot for the Avalanche Lake trail, which was a relatively moderate hike at 4.5 miles roundtrip and an elevation gain of 730 ft  (highest elevation: 4031 ft).

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This ended up being the most crowded hike we did, and we would frequently catch up to, and cross paths with, other visitors. Despite this, it was a very relaxing day.  Given the overcast skies and enveloping greenery,  the ambience was very serene and calming. 

The  piece de resistance:

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DSC05544To be honest, it was a bummer that the weather was so “blah” because I’m sure a little bit of sunlight does wonders for the views in this place. Or maybe I’m just not an experienced photographer. In any case, on this particular day, the views weren’t as spectacular as some of our other hikes. Still, it was a cool sight to take in. And there’s just something about the hiking and the effort that it takes to get there – makes the end result that much more enjoyable. Kind of like the way food tastes so much better when you’re hungry!