Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

What It’s Like Cooking At The #1 Hotel Cooking School in the World

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It’s no secret that I love to cook – it’s one of my favorite de-stressers of all time.  There’s something cathartic about chopping vegetables, mixing together the right spices and sauces for new flavors, and seeing a finished product.

A few weeks ago, myself, some of my company, and some of our customers took a cooking class at Cavallo Point Cooking School, in San Francisco, and it was amazing.

Led by Head Chef Tony Adams (who has an impeccable sense of humor), walked us through the multi-course meal we were going to cook, before we were counted off into four teams.

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The menu is set close to the day of, after Tony has gone to the market to see what is fresh for the day.  The result is a custom menu full of fresh ingredients, and it was amazing.

We learned cutting techniques, cooking techniques, how to plate things the way they were intended, and used new totally helpful cooking utensils that I now seemingly can’t live without (my cabinet space is begging to differ on that one).

Our team did a pretty incredible job with dinner, and it was amazingly delicious!  I highly recommend taking a class from here if you are in the area.  After, grab a drink at the bar downstairs and certainly, take in the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Below are some more pics of the event.  People have been left out of them, since this was a company event 🙂

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Harold Black and B Too

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Anyone who knows me, knows I have a HUGE love of speakeasies.  A few weekends ago, we decided to try Harold Black, and we were definitely not disappointed.

Like most speakeasies, you either spend quite a bit of time looking for the entrance, or you look it up (like we did).  Below are the directions on how to find the speakeasy, including a video!

Directions: To the left Acqua al 2’s patio is a nondescript wooden door.  It looks as though it’s locked, but it’s not.  You go up the staircases, open another door, and up another staircase.  At the end of the hallway is a table with instructions.

Once inside, you’re transported into a genuine replica of a 1920s speakeasy.  From the furniture, to the lighting (which makes the atmosphere that much cooler), to the decor, and even the bathrooms, they left no detail out. (Note, bathroom lighting makes great selfie lighting 😛 )

As for the drinks/food – both are amazing.  We spent two hours tasting some of the appetizers, and each choosing two cocktails from the menu.  (The menu changes often enough that it’s hard to recommend anything.)

Out of the three I’ve been to in D.C. thus far, PX, Harold Black, and Captain Gregory’s I’d recommend, in that order.

B Too

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I’ve been to B Too before, but it was so good I had to come back! Bart Vandaele has created a Belgium concept that has become something of a staple in Logan Circle.  If you have ever been to Belgium, you know that there’s primarily two sides to the country: French and Dutch.  Known for mainly mussels, chocolate, and waffles, (and cheese on the dutch side), a lot of authentic Belgium food can seem bland.  Bart has managed to take many common dishes and put a tasteful flair to them.  It’s one of the reasons it’s so popular.  We ended up with a three course meal for each, and out of that, only one dish got a picture (we were so hungry, we sort of forgot).  Below are my recommendations:

Starters:

  • Salade Van Bietjes (Red beet salad) – gluten-free – highly recommended
  • Wafel Van Kreeft (Maine lobster waffle) – highly recommended

Main Dish:

  • Poulet Rôti Père Maurits (Roasted Amish chicken) – gluten-free – highly recommended
  • Belgische Filet Pur Met Friejtes (Center cut filet with fries) – The steak was decent but the fries were amazing!

Dessert:

  • S’mores dish (cannot remember the actual name of the dish) – Isn’t recommended – the waffle dessert is better
  • House made ice cream and sorbet – gluten-free – Isn’t recommended – I wasn’t a fan of the taste of any of the flavors

 

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Steve Martin and Martin Short at Wolftrap

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Two of the funniest men on the planet came to Wolftrap last Friday night, and it made for one of the best variety/comedy shows I’ve ever been to (and one of a start to the weekend).

Steve Martin and Martin Short are on their “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” tour, and they had two back-to-back Wolftrap performances this past weekend, to sold out crowds.

From SNL, to “Father of the Bride”, to their individual performances in their own films; these two are are considered the epitome of classic sketch comedy that’s both relatable and appreciated at any age.  With their quick wit (cue Three Amigos skit with participating audience members, and Martin’s on-the-fly responses), their love of a good roast (Martin Short can deliver some great jabs), and physical comedic acting (both had their share); they prove that their talent is unique, as well as rare.

But, what made this show even more special, is Steve Martin’s love of Bluegrass.  His band, “Steep Canyon Rangers” delivered an amazing mini concert, some of which featured Steve’s unbelievable banjo playing skills.  All around, I laughed so hard I cried, I tapped my foot so hard it was sore, and I smiled so big my cheeks hurt.

If they come to your area, make sure to grab your tickets before they are sold out!

Check out some of my pictures below (excuse the graininess – we were in box seats high up).  Video was prohibited, so I couldn’t take any.

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Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

Richard Marx and Rick Springfield at Wolftrap

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“… so after three days of recording the album with N’Sync, they had to sneak out the back door, because there were 800 girls waiting in the front, and I, not being known, went out the front… to my car… in the main parking lot. Out of no where, a smoking hot girl runs up to me and asks, ‘Are you Richard Marx?’ To which I reply, ‘Why yes I am!’  She responds with, ‘My mom LOVES you!’…” (Richard Marx on his age.)

This is just a small snippet of how wonderful the evening was with both Richard Marx and Rick Springfield.  They are (self-deprecating) funny, relaxed, and prove that they are still willing to tour, solely because they love their fans, and they love performing.  While I agreed to accompany my mom to see her longtime heartthrob (Rick Springfield), I found myself truly enjoying the show they put on separately, as well as together.  The entire thing was done acoustically.

Check out some of my videos and pictures below.  More videos can be found here.

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Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

I Love the 90s Tour at Wolftrap

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A few weekends ago, I relived junior high school, high school, and college, all in one night, at Wolftrap.  When I heard a 90s tour with artists, such as Snap!, C+C Music Factory, Kid n’Play, Montell Jordan, Rob Base, TLC, and more were coming, I had to go.

The downside to going to these concerts is a. Realizing how old you are, and b. Realizing how old the artists are now, and how they no longer look exactly like they did in your childhood memories.  (To put it in perspective, Kid n’ Play’s “House Party” is 25 years old, and Kid is 53.)

The upside was that it was fun to hear the old songs again, and hear of what these artists are now up to.

Check out my videos and pictures below (more videos of each can be found here).

Snap!

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C+C Music Factory

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Montell Jordan

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Kid n’ Play

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Each of them were having so much fun… until…

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TLC

My mom and I left the concert after their second song, because it was that bad. T-Boz seemed incredibly unhappy to be there, and while Chili looked amazing, you could tell she was doing her best to carry the now duo.  They were singing along to recorded tracks – the whole thing was just awful.  I feel for them, but I’m unsure I’d recommend staying for their performance, or even going to one of their concerts.

Overall, it was a great night, and I’m so happy I got to relive the best part of that decade!

Travel, United States

Road Trip Day 4-8: Exploring Colorado

My other half and I love adventurous vacations, which have taken us pretty much all over the world.  Several months ago, we decided that we’d stay in our “own backyard”, and explore what the areas of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore/Keystone, and Colorado had to offer (click here to see all of our posts for our other days).

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Us at Keystone Resort

The ultimate goal of our vacation was to visit his family in Denver, and some of mine in Boulder.  However, we also wanted to explore Colorado as much as we could, while there.  Below are my recommendations, based on what we did.

Things to See

Loveland Pass – If you don’t have a fear of heights, and happen to have something warm to wear (it’s literally 40 degrees with wind, in July), then take the drive up Loveland Pass!  While it’s considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in America, it also happens to have some incredibly scenic views!

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At the top, reward yourself with a photo next to the Continental Divide sign, boasting the 11,990 ft. elevation number.

Keystone Resort – If you think ski resorts are only for snow activities, think again!  Almost all resorts turn into a BMX biker haven, and also have many different summertime activities, making it a great place to spend part of the summer.

We took the Gondola (about $30 per person with a $10 food voucher included), to the summit, which is 11,640 feet up.  The views were breathtaking, literally, as I got altitude sickness from the height (note, I drank four large bottles of water to prevent headaches, and instead, ended up being very light-headed/dizzy).  Still, the views were too amazing to leave!

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We decided to eat at The Summit House, which for those who are gluten-intolerant, will rejoice in the fact that they can serve all sandwiches and burgers on gluten-free buns!

When we finished with lunch, we headed back down to the resort, and walked around.  It happened to be kids’ day, so there were a lot of activities going on.  We played cornhole, went into some shops, and stopped at Mary’s Mountain Cookies, as they had very large, extremely tasty, gluten-free cookies in many different flavors.

Pearl Street in BoulderWalking Pearl Street makes for a great Sunday afternoon.  There are street performers, lots of restaurants, unique shops, and plenty of people watching!  Check out the Dushanbe Teahouse (see in the next section below), not too far from there, when you need an afternoon break!

Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs) – I visited this as a kid, but really couldn’t appreciate it for what it was (back then, I felt like I was being forced to stare at rocks).  Going back now, put this as one of my top five favorite walks of all time.  It’s free to all, and a great way to spend an afternoon!  (The kid in me loved being able to climb the rocks.)

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Manitou Springs – After we finished at Garden of the Gods, we drove to this little town I had never heard of before, to stop and get ice cream.  I wish I had known about it, prior to our trip, because I would have booked a room in an old inn for a night.  It’s a very old mining town, with some historic inns (some of them are very haunted), amazing/charming restaurants, and a lot of little artisanal shops.  It’s also very close to Pike’s Peak, which means you can take the cog train to the top, from there.  Definitely check it out and stay a night if you can!

Red Rock Amphitheater – Red Rock is known for its natural acoustics, making it a great place to hold concerts.  At night, artists from all over the world make it a point to stop and perform there.  During the day, people use it for insanely hard workouts, hikes, and as a point of interest to take pictures of the Denver skyline.  Definitely make it a point to stop for a few minutes, and take in the view – it’s free to anyone.

Dinosaur Ridge – This place was a last minute addition to our trip, and we are certainly glad we made it a point to stop and take part of the walk.  There is a visitor’s center on one site, and a couple of different hikes from different parking lots.

The museum gives you a good background, as to what to look for in the rock, as well as the types of dinosaurs that were indigent to the area.

We took the main hike, across the road from the museum, which afforded us foot imprints from several different dinosaurs, fossils of prehistoric leaves, an education on the layers of rock and how old they are, as well as great views of Denver.

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Places to Eat/Drink

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The “Paloma” from North County

North County (Denver)– There are days I really miss San Diego, so it was amazing to see that someone opened a restaurant, dedicated to the vibe and fare of one of my favorite places on earth.  The food is Cali-Mex, and the drinks are hand-crafted – a big nod to the growing craft cocktail experience in the SoCal area.  If you happen to go there, sit outside and dine on the fish tacos or the chicken salad.  Also, be sure to try each of their bottled alcoholic beverages – none of them will disappoint.  When you’re done, head over to the biergarten and ice cream stand, located next to Hangar 1 by the Air and Space Museum.  It’s a fun little place in the suburbs of Denver.

Boulder Dushanbe Tea House – This tea house has just about the most amazing story I’ve ever heard, and I am kicking myself for not taking more pictures.  As you can see in the video snippet below, the ornate columns and tile work were not fabricated.  Instead, in 1987, the Mayor of Dushanbe, had all of the materials packed up, and sent to Boulder, along with 40 skilled workers form Tajikistan, to put together this tea house, using no tools.  It took three years to be built, and has been open for almost 30 years.  There is an exact one in Dushanbe, with only two in the world.  Click on the link above to read the full story. (Note: Reservations are a MUST – it books up fast.)

I ordered the Hibiscus Mimosa (it’s a must-have) and the Spicy Indonesian Peanut Noodles (if you don’t like spicy food, you might want to skip it).  Truly, it’s a must-experience at least once in your life!

El Five (Denver) – I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant!  It sits in my top five restaurants I’ve been to in the world, accounting for food/drink quality, ambience, decor, and view.  The dishes are tapas from Gibraltar, with modern spins such as vegetarian paella with quinoa. The drinks are crafted into works of art, such as mine that came with an orchid (name not included, since their bar menu changes frequently).

The decor is reminiscent of old Israeli comic books, coupled with chic dining decor and lighting.  But hands down, what completely sold me on visiting there, was the view.  From the deck (which you can dine on), you have an unobstructed view of downtown.

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T Street Roadhouse (Denver) – Nestled in a town center in the suburbs of Denver, is a place called T Street Roadhouse.  It’s a great happy hour/casual dining place, offering an American menu of fares, including gluten-free flatbread pizzas!  If you’re looking for something casual/relaxed to do, go there, and then head over to the movie theater, or Lucky Strike for bowling!  The Town Center has a lot to do!

Travel, United States

Road Trip Day 3: Driving to Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and Keystone, South Dakota

My other half and I love adventurous vacations, which have taken us pretty much all over the world.  Several months ago, we decided that we’d stay in our “own backyard”, and explore what the areas of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore/Keystone, and Colorado had to offer (click here to see all of our posts for our other days).

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In Ten Sleep, South Dakota

The Drive to Keystone, South Dakota from Cody, Wyoming

From Cody, Wyoming to Keystone, South Dakota, you have about a 5 1/2 hour drive.  It’s definitely one of the most beautiful drives we took, thanks to Google Maps’ “fastest route” filter, which took us on roundabout ways through back roads, and other National Forests and Parks.

Check out the slideshow, as well as a short video, of our road trip to our next destination, below:

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Recommendations:

  • Take a picture of the town sign of Otto – they have a population of 50 – it’s probably the smallest number of inhabitants I’ve ever seen on a town sign, although it is predominately known for its farms.
  • Stop at the Dinosaur Dig in Manderson, Wyoming.  There’s been a hotbed of dinosaur digging going on in that state, and while we didn’t have time to stop, you definitely should!
  • Ten Sleep is a beautiful historic town with a lot to see.  Had I known this town existed, I would have made it a point to stop there for a few hours.  I definitely recommend you take your time to drive through it, as well as explore it (if you can) – even if just for lunch.
  • Big Horn National Forest – if you are taking the drive from Cody to Keystone, you will be driving through it anyway.  Definitely take your time to view the beautiful scenery – there are a lot of picture-worthy spots!

Arriving at Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt. Rushmore

I say this with the utmost respect but if you are trying to save money, skip Crazy Horse.  While he was certainly a very important historical figure, the Memorial isn’t even near completion (they are about 10% of the way there, and have been for close to 30 years).  For $22 (for 2 people), we walked through the Visitor’s Center and Museum, and out to the viewing terrace, to see the progress of the memorial, from a few miles away. The only way to get closer is to take their bus (for an additional fee), which only gets you about a mile further in.

As for Mt. Rushmore

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…it was AMAZING! As a kid, you study these types of monuments in history class, almost as if they were fictional stories.  After 38 years of being on this planet, I finally got to see something that has been on my bucket list!

For $10 per vehicle, there is so much to do!  We took all of the hiking trails around the monument, stopped for ice cream at their large grill/ice cream place, shopped in the gift shop, viewed the small museum, dedicated to the creation of this; and sat on a bench to take in the view, one last time.

Note: The geologists are worried that this monument won’t last much longer, as the rock has become unstable.  Definitely see it before it’s too late!

Heading Into Keystone, South Dakota

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I am a total sucker for old, historic, touristy towns, and this was my “Disney World” of the midwest!

What started as a small mining town in 1880, has been revived as a place to relive history with various restaurants, saloons, shops, lodging, and even a train ride to Old Hill City and back!  Check out my photos, videos, and recommendations, below:

Where to Stay

K Bar S Lodge was absolutely wonderful.  For about $174 a night, it was like being at an upscale summer camp for adults with pristine walking grounds, beautiful log-built buildings, and a wonderful free breakfast in their glass gazebo. Our room was spacious, comfortable, and included a balcony, overlooking the forest.  It was also just 1/2 mile from downtown Keystone.

Where to Dine

For dinner, I wanted something authentic (okay, downright touristy).  Thus, I dragged my other half to Ruby House and Red Garter Saloon for dinner and drinks (I recommend the Red Garter – it’s an alcoholic Shirley Temple, and you get to keep the garter).  The food is pretty decent, and the atmosphere is very cool (see the video below).

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While much of the original memorabilia and other decor were lost in a flood in the 1970s, and a fire in 2003, it was rebuilt again to emulate the early 1900s, still leaving you with a sense of awe, as though you stepped back in time.

For lunch the next day, we swung by Teddy’s Deli, which is on the map for the best Reuben Sandwich in the U.S.  Note that they also have amazing salads and soups, for those of us who are gluten-intolerant.

Things to Do

We literally walked into every shop (which I recommend because there are some fun things to see), and as we were leaving to go back to our hotel, I heard/saw the 1880 Train, whistling as it was leaving the Keystone station.  I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved train rides, and with the wonderment of a five-year-old child in my eyes, my other half suggested that we take the roundtrip ride to Old Hill City, the following morning.

The open air train cars have come from all over the U.S., almost all of them from the early 1900’s, which have been restored.  It’s really cool to think that almost all of the cars were used to carry passengers, over 100 years, to and from mining destinations.

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The trip itself is 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and costs about $34 per adult.  On board, they sell snacks and drinks (cash only), but you may also purchase them at the station.  I will strongly encourage anyone, who happens to be staying in Keystone, to do this!

Check out more pictures and videos below:

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Travel, United States

Road Trip Day 2: Driving Yellowstone in One Day, and into Cody, WY

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Lewis Lake

My other half and I love adventurous vacations, which have taken us pretty much all over the world.  Several months ago, we decided that we’d stay in our “own backyard”, and explore what the areas of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore/Keystone, and Colorado had to offer (click here to see all of our posts for our other days).

They said Yellowstone couldn’t be done in one day… but if you get up early enough, and take the faster way around the Grand Loop, it can!

Per our day one post, we traveled from Denver to Moran, WY to not only stay at the Jackson Lake Lodge for a night, but to also arrive in Yellowstone at the South entrance as well.

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If you’ve never been, there are four entrances into the park, all of which are varying distances from lodging at each.  In doing my research, the south entrance was most appealing, not just because it was only 1 1/2 hours away from where we were staying, but also because you drive through the Grand Tetons as well, marking it as the prettiest drive (see short video clip below).  What we didn’t expect was that taking the loop clockwise (starting at 7am), from the south entrance, would result in us not getting stuck in traffic, and always having a parking space at the hot spots!

What to See

Below are the image and video highlights of the most fascinating things we were able to see.  Below these, are my recommendations.

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Videos (for more, click here)

Recommendations of things to see:

  • See Old Faithful – it’s worth it to walk the grounds, grab a bite to eat, and wait for the next eruption.  Note that the General Store has gluten-free sandwich options, as well as a ton of picnic items for a scenic picnic anywhere in Yellowstone! Also note that there is a gas station – definitely stop there to refuel, as it could be a few hundred miles before you see another station!
  • Do not miss a single waterfall!  Wyoming (as well as its surrounding states) has seen a significant amount of overall precipitation, resulting in some of the most spectacular (and ferocious) falls I’ve ever seen.
  • Paint Pots and Grand Prismatic springs – both are very beautiful, and an out-of-this-world reminder that you are, in fact, standing on a Super Volcano.
  • If you are tempted to pull off and take a picture of some of the most beautiful scenery you have ever seen, pull off the road and do it!  No two scenery are alike.  Note they have a lot of wide shoulders to pull over onto.  Do no block traffic to take a picture!
  • Hike the 600 ft. to the Lower Falls to be as close as you can to them!  It was our favorite part of the day!  Note that the trek is not for the faint of heart.  It was steep on the way down and very strenuous on the way back up – especially in the heat (note to bring a lot of water).

Other things to note:

  • If you see wildlife, be respectful.  Don’t try to feed them, and stay at least 100 ft. away from them.  We saw some beautiful bison, deer, a moose, and prairie dogs.  Unfortunately, too many people were getting a little too close.
  • BUG SPRAY and SUNSCREEN – at one point in our drive, it sounded like it was raining on our windshield… it wasn’t rain… the bugs are everywhere, as is the sun!
  • Leave all food and drinks (other than water), in a sealed car.  Wildlife will find their way in otherwise, if they want something bad enough.
  • Buy the National Geographic Guide to National Parks – the maps were invaluable!
  • People tend to come from the north and east entrances and go counter clockwise from there.  Reversing this drive will allow to you continue to move at the full MPH without a long line of traffic (which we saw coming in the other direction).

Cody, Wyoming

We did Yellowstone (and the drive to Cody) in about 10 hours, allowing us time to settle into our hotel, and explore downtown Cody for an evening.

Where We Stayed

While there are many charming hotels in Cody, I signed us up for Irma Inn – the most historic and iconic hotel in downtown Cody.  I love history, and the fact that Buffalo Bill not only built this hotel, but also hosted a whole range of famous (infamous in some cases) people, made this even more appealing.  To make this adventurous, I chose the historic section of the hotel, which meant famous figures actually stayed in those rooms, and in some cases, still haunt them.  (Note: Rooms 20 and 35 are the MOST haunted, with rarely a guest actually sleeping in #35.)

Some notes on Irma Inn:

  • It’s historic, not modern.  This means the inn’s floors are dark, old, and decorated with furniture and art from the 1880s – the wallpaper, lighting, and all other features are restored to take on that era feel as well.
  • There are no elevators – this means you’re hauling luggage up creaky stairs
  • They do have free wi-fi and free parking
  • There is a restaurant and bar (the bar itself is original) in the hotel, along with a large porch with live music. We were eager to explore the town, so we didn’t really experience any of this.
  • It’s relatively inexpensive at about $160 a night for a historic room (and a lot less for a more modern one)

Things to See/Eat/Drink/Experience

While there are plenty of modern conveniences about 1/2 mile down the main strip, we chose to experience some of what downtown Cody had to offer.

City of Cody Mini Golf

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For $5 a person, you can learn a little bit more about the City of Cody, while playing 18 of the most difficult mini golf holes I’ve ever played.  It’s a great early evening activity (and yes, I won).

Wyoming Rib and Chop House

If you’re a meat eater, there’s no way you can pass through Wyoming and not have a  steak!  We headed into Wyoming Rib and Chop House for a steak and a loaded Idaho Baked Potato – both of which I highly recommend!

Rawhide Coffee Co.

There are many places to go for breakfast in downtown Cody however, we were looking for something quick, since we had about a six-hour drive ahead of us.  We stopped into Rawhide Coffee Co. for some gluten-free oatmeal, pastries, and coffee, before heading onto our next destination.  I strongly recommend going here, even if it’s just for freshly brewed coffee – it was excellent!

Travel, United States

Road Trip Day 1: Driving to Moran, WY

My other half and I love adventurous vacations, which have taken us pretty much all over the world.  Several months ago, we decided that we’d stay in our “own backyard”, and explore what the areas of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore/Keystone, and Colorado had to offer.

On July 4th, my other half and I embarked on a four-hour flight, and eight-hour Jeep ride (shout out to Avis for the sweet Jeep Wrangler), from Denver Airport, to Jackson Lake Lodge, to begin our eight-day vacation in the Midwest and Rockies regions.

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I’ve always wanted to drive one of these!

While I’ve driven this part of the country before, my other half had not, which meant stopping for a lot of great photo opportunities!

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There were two reasons why I chose the eight-hour drive: 1. I knew the South Entrance into Yellowstone would be the entrance less-traveled, resulting in less heavy traffic 2. Jackson Lake Lodge’s view (see link at the top of this post to see their site) was going to be unparalleled both in the evening, and in the morning as well.

Built in the 1950s as a high-end mountain getaway, celebrities and foreign dignitaries, alike, have stayed there, with plenty of photos and memorabilia lining the walls of the main building to prove it.  However, what sold me on staying there for one night was The Mural Room.  Hands down, this five-star restaurant (as well as it’s surrounding terraces) has the best unencumbered view of the Grand Tetons, as well as sunset!  It is an absolute must on your itinerary!  See below for travel tips, from our Day 1.

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Recommendations for taking this part of the trip:

  1. If you are coming from Denver International Airport, I’d suggest taking an early flight in.  We landed at 9:15am (local time), and were on the road by 10:30am.  We hit no traffic, allowing us to enjoy the drive more.
  2. A Jeep Wrangler or any SUV is recommended.  For 5 days our total came out to just under $500 pre-paid.  It was completely worth it to drive around a bit higher up, being able to take in more scenery, as well as feel a bit safer on some of the 85 MPH roads!
  3. If you choose to go to Jackson Lake Lodge in the summer, make sure to book MONTHS in advance!  They sell out quickly, especially for the months of June and July.  For one night, our cottage room was a little over $250 for the night.
  4. The lodge and cottages are rustic from the outside (I felt like I was back at summer camp).  Inside, they are beautiful and quite large!  They do not have TVs in them, as they assume their guests will only be sleeping there.
  5. Book the Mural Room for dinner FAR IN ADVANCE.  It’s hard to get reservations there.  My recommendation is to book it for sunset, and request a window table.  Sunset is a little after 9pm in early July.  We requested an 8:45pm reservation, which was perfect. (Note: Both the strawberry salad and prime rib were excellent.)
  6. Eat breakfast in the Pioneer Grill.  It’s the original 1950s diner, and you feel like you’ve entered a time capsule.  The food is great too (I hear the sticky buns are out of this world)!
  7. Leave early to get to Yellowstone, but don’t miss the sunrise!

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Iron Gate and St. Yves

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This past weekend, in what felt like the first time in forever, my other half and I got out for date night.

As most of you know, I love trying new restaurants/bars/clubs in D.C., as there are so many, it’s practically impossible to repeat!  So, we ventured out to a D.C. favorite, and a new spot that just opened a month ago: Iron Gate and St. Yves.

“We’re Coming Here Often”

Is what I told my other half when we were half way through our meal at Iron Gate.  It’s on par with our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik, Grill Markadurinn, in terms of impeccable service, beautiful atmosphere, and absolutely incredible food.  In the case of Iron Gate, it celebrated my Greek/Sicilian roots with beautifully plated Mediterranean food.

The above are three of the five dishes we ordered, not realizing the meat and potatoes platter could have fed us for the night!  Pro tip: If you get the platter, order one more dish, per person, to try, or save room for dessert (which we didn’t get to).

As for drinks, both the Greek orange wine and rose were amazing!

St. Yves

St. Yves is a tough one to review, because the owners are friends of mine.  We attended a birthday party in the “Cloud Room”, before heading into the main room.  It might have been the sheer amount of people there for the birthday party however, the spaces were hard to move around in, the other clientele there (not part of the party) were a bit undesirable, and the sound system was far too loud for the space.  If you want to get a drink at the main bar, it’s not navigable with the large ramp (complete with railing) that takes up a lot of available foot space.  On a positive note, the decor is beautiful!  Pro tip: It’s great if you can rent the whole space out for just your party.

SO – my recommendation is to definitely try Iron Gate and perhaps, skip St. Yves if you’re looking for a club with elbow space and good music.