Vegas….and My Liver

Fruit roll-ups chase away the hangover monster. Totally.

Fruit roll-ups chase away the hangover monster. Totally.

Last night was an epicly short night of drinking and dancing.

And drunk texting. That’s how it all happens.

After a very stiff vodka cranberry, a few shots, a PBR, and a liter of beer in a span of only a couple of hours, I found myself asking “where did my purse go”? That was a good sign that it was going to just roll down hill fast because I purposely  left my purse in my friend’s room for safety’s sake. It kinda felt like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas sans the oranges.

The last thing I remember is sending a somewhat lewd text to a very cute man while eating a fruit roll-up before the bed drained all desire for consciousness out of me.

You’ll get to hear all about this trip…just not right now. The coffee is kicking in finally and this gypsy needs to get ready for some rockabilly fun.

Viva Las Vegas!!!

Get it!!

Get it!!

My Yeti and Great Divide’s Yeti

There's definitely more than one Yeti.

There’s definitely more than one Yeti.

Great Divide makes an alright stout if you don’t mind a bit more hops and little less malty. I’ve been drinking the 3 they had on tap in their taproom, the classic Yeti, Oak-Aged Yeti, and Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti (all of them at 9.5%ABV). Being an imperial stout, I liked the original version the best. The oak aging gives it a punch that I think could use about an extra year settling in a bottle to get more complexity in the taste and a smoother feel. Maybe that’ll be my next experiment. With drinking the Yeti, memories of my own Yeti put a bitter sweet smile on my face.

In our human existence, I feel we all have our moments of being alone. That’s normal from what I understand. You’re in the middle of the woods or on top of a mountain, by yourself, and you are definitely alone.

The alone feeling I’m about to expound on is different. It’s not an awareness that you are the only human being within a certain amount of distance. It reaches deep into the soul. It hits when you’re being hugged by your best friend for a photo. Or when you’re at a party where everyone knows you and is having a good time. Or when you’re riding your bicycle home and you see through a window a dance lesson. For some strange reason, you know there is no one that thinks or feels like you do. Friends and family might have similar or the same views but for some reason you know it’s not the same. They just don’t get it even though they get it. It’s a really weird feeling. If you’ve felt it, you know what I’m talking about. You are the only one on this planet, just like a Yeti. The only one of your kind. That feeling of alone feels like a machete sticking through you. It totally sucks.

When I met the male version of me, the other Yeti, it floored me. It was like someone did the Vulcan mind meld to us. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he had blonde, curly hair, blue eyes, and 6’5″ of fantastic. I’m such a sucker for blue eyes. We would talk for hours about the things that moved us. Anatomy, music, travel, the universe in macro and mini, ridiculous stories from our lives, the pain of being divorced…we shared everything. We would just gaze at each other and understand. We understood each other in a way that I have never experienced since. That’s okay. I’m finally okay with that.

He was the one who asked me, “If you knew you had only 10 years to live, what would you do?” He’s the reason you get to read this blog and why I’ll keep writing.

The last time I saw him, I knew it was the last time. As I walked into the airport, through the sliding doors, I looked behind me. He was sitting in the car watching me walk in and that’s when it hit me.

I will never see him again.

I wanted to cry, but all I could do was stand there and look back. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to get back in the car and go with him where ever he went. I wanted to kiss his beautiful face and tell him I would never leave him, that I would always be his. I have never had a feeling so strong of leaving everything behind just to follow him. My rational mind went out the window. All I wanted was him. I could figure everything else out so long as he was with me. He was my Yeti. How could I leave him?

But I did. I put on my big girl panties, fought back all the tears, waved, smiled and turned away. Of course I wept all the way through the terminal and security, but I walked away. I had to because a plane was leaving and I had a job to get back to. Responsibilities, friends, parties, and the everyday hum drum was waiting for me back in Denver.

He was gone. The snow storm of everyday life blew in and my Yeti disappeared in the whiteout.

I never have that soul feeling of being so-utterly-alone-in-this-world anymore because of him. He has changed me forever. I know he’s out there. The male version of me is out there somewhere doing his thing. I am so incredibly lucky to have known him because I could be the last person on this planet and I wouldn’t be alone. All because I knew him. For one amazing moment, my Yeti loved me and I loved him back.

This one is for you…


Houston, We Have a Problem.

This is all sorts of awesome.

This is all sorts of awesome.

Houston, from what little I experienced, is a strange town. Seriously, it’s in Texas and the only cool place in that whole state is Austin.

I was able to keep myself entertained while I was there on a short sabbatical. Besides working on getting a good base tan in April 2011, I found some interesting places to visit.

The Swaminarayan Mandir Temple is pretty freaking cool. It’s a Hindu temple in the middle of suburbia that is hands down stunning. It’s beautiful. It’s all white and sculpted. By sculpted, I mean it looks like someone hand carved in intricate detail every Hindu story ever into every single millimeter of the temple, inside and out. Stunning might not encompass the awe I felt when I walked through it. The gardens and fountains around it are perfect places to contemplate the universe in macro or micro. There’s also a gift shop that sells all sorts of interesting Indian fare on the other side of the complex. The more awesome part: it’s FREE to visit!!! Score!

These guys are the craftiest.

These guys are the craftiest.

Since I was in a city I’ve never been to, of course I look for what breweries are there. I find Saint Arnold Brewing Company the oldest craft brewery in Texas. They won a gold medal at GABF for their Lawnmower kölsch in 2010. Which was good, for a kölsch, I guess. Sorry, I’d much rather drink a good Czech style pilsner or a stout. The tap room looks like something from fables of amazing beer gardens…looooong tables with benches, dark wood, and at the head of it all was the beer. If you decide to do the tour ($8 and you get a souvenier glass), remember to wear close toed shoes. I found it entertaining that the tanks were all named as saints such as Saint Elvis and Saint Dude. Note: this place was not too easy to find so be sure to get directions in advance. As I drank my Lawnmower alone, a few guys decided to strike up a conversation with me which lead me to my next destination.

As any beer gypsy would, I went to an interesting establishment because of those guys in the heart of downtown Houston named the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. They have a number of locations in the States, but that doesn’t make it any less strange or entertaining for me. There’s these huge oddly decorated plates all over the walls and ceiling of regulars that made it though their beer club. Now, I calculated that if I joined the beer club and was able to drink only 3 beers a day that qualified, I’d have to take about 3 months of my life off to get my own saucer. Was that worth 3 months of my life in Houston? Nope. But if you’re looking for food and a huge ass selection of beer, this is the place to go.

Galveston should be on the list of day trips from Houston. It’s a quaint large beach town on the Gulf of Mexico that has lots of history any some very cool places to hang. One such place to visit is Bishop’s Palace. This Victorian era house is hands down, freaking stunning. I’ve been to the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. Those are cool. Bishop Palace totally rocks and not just because it’s made of them. The inside is all dark, carved woods, wrought iron, high ceilings, and this old world charm that makes me want to put a big poofy dress on and call out to the butler when I’m receiving guests. There is a special area and screen for where the musicians would perform for parties. How cool is that? AND the Bishop Palace survived storms that knocked out most of Galveston. They just don’t build houses like that anymore.

Since this city is on the Gulf coast, of course you have to visit the beach and the Pirate Museum!!! Come on…it’s pirates. It’s totally cool even if you might think it’s cheesy. Go. You know you want to. Arrr….

I never thought I’d find Houston to be a cool place to hang, but I’d say it’s not so bad. Just don’t get trashed and go skipping through someone’s lawn while the sprinklers are on.

The Road to Enlightenment Was Never Smooth 2.0

I must be dreaming

I miss the rainforest.

Everyone should leave America at least once in their life. As much as I love Canada, it doesn’t really count as leaving the country. I’m talking about a place where not everyone speaks English(American English). Where the culture is definitely different from our normal hum drum. The challenge of surviving another culture without a tour guide is an experience that shifts your perception of reality forever. Going to Greece was my first taste of that but it was Belize that forever changed me.

In a country where there’s no guarantee of a hot shower, the internet is a luxury and wi-fi doesn’t happen, almost every house has bars on the windows, and all the creatures in the rainforest come out and play havoc with your sense of safety, I suddenly felt very small in a much different way than ever before. I felt small living in New York City but it’s different. There’s a common language, you can read the signs, and you can rely on all the ideas and knowledge you gained in life to live there. It’s a comfortable small. In the rainforest, the realization that I knew absolutely NOTHING was like a lightning strike . That’s a type of small that tears down your ego. Knowing that there are small little bugs that you can’t identify that can easily take your life away or even a very large black cat that would love to make you lunch is a huge game changer. I grokked that Mother Nature was the most powerful force out there and she has no compassion, mercy, or sympathy for us. I think we all know that, but until you get that feeling of small, you can’t really grok it.

We are very fortunate to live in America. We are the spoiled children of this world. So when I think my life is difficult, I remember Belize and the rainforest. We have opportunities that few have. We have the luxury of chasing after our dreams. We have the ability to become whatever we want.

Don’t let being small stop you. Make plans. Go out in the world and discover. Let being small inspire you to help others and make an impact on this world, even if it’s just one person at a time. We’re all small but we don’t have to BE small. We can be as big as a Ceiba tree.

A Short Evening In Fort Collins

If you ever want to see it again....

If you ever want to see it again….

If you live in Colorado, you might not think of Fort Collins as a destination getaway.

Well, if you don’t have a car, any place that takes longer than an hour by bike or bus is a vacation spot.

The weekend after Valentine’s Day, my friend Robin and I had loose plans on going up to Fort Collins to visit CranknStein, a groovy coffee/beer/bicycle cafe located in Old Town district at 215 North College Ave.  We were joined by our good friend, Mike, in this journey to places far north of Denver.

The plan: rides bikes and drink beer.

After loading my commuter(sans a seat) in Robin’s car, we make the arduous one hour drive to the city known as the home of New Belgium Brewery. Our first stop was CranknStein, so we could get the first beer under our belt while my new seat was being attached.* Adam, a skilled and knowledgable bike mechanic, took the time to talk to me about my seat debacle and how I wanted to fix it (yes, I had options). Seat fixed and beer in hand, Mike and I sat at the bar and plotted our brewery course: Pateros Creek, Equinox, New Belgium, and Odell.

When you visit CranknStein, you might just get this cozy feeling. There’s beat up couches, comfortable tables with high back chairs, bar stools with backs and cushions, and even though there’s a good amount of light, the old-barn-wood walls  make it an ideal place to get lost in a beer and a book. Don’t let that cozy feeling deceive you because they know how to rock out in the evenings. With events such as Skirts n Lipstick Night, New Year’s Eve and Halloween parties, homebrew competitions, and bands playing on a regular basis, your evening there is nothing short of fun and filled with interesting people. If the beer and coffee aren’t enough, they just recently changed their menu of delectables.

With our destinations plotted, our motley crew of 3 went in search of the bike library. Yep! A bicycle library. Just like a book library, you can check out a bike and take it for a ride for anywhere from 1 hour to 7 days. The downside: they’re not open again until April 5th. Doh! Which meant no bikes for Robin and Mike.

With that little snafu, we adjusted our beer campaign to places we could walk to easily. I know….they’re all easy to walk to but after a flight here and a flight there, walking becomes a sport. So what do we do? We hit Pateros Creek first since it’s right across the street from CranknStein.

There’s a few reasons why I like Pateros Creek. They make a really good vanilla porter named Snowy River with 5% ABV and 24 IBU. You actually get a taste of vanilla with all the porter goodness, unlike many vanilla porters I’ve had. Mike’s favorite was the Stone Giant Oatmeal Raison Stout, at 6%ABV and 28 IBU. Personally I like my stouts a bit more on the full bodied side, but the Stone Giant is a nice easy drinking stout. Of course we couldn’t pass up the Cache la Porter, which  is a staple for any beer drinking done here.

The other reasons to like Pateros Creek: a well abused ping pong table, dart boards, an outdoor adult play pen (aka patio), and the split between game room and tap room. The gaming room has a bunch of tables you can kick back at and watch what ever sports are on the tv’s. The tap room…well, it’s a tap room. It’s where all the action happens.

After we wet our whistles, we met some friends at Moe’s Original BBQ so we could be appropriately fueled for the evening. We gained a 4th comrade for our tour de beer and we all shuffled off to our next destination: Equinox Brewing.

I will admit that I am slightly biased about Equinox Brewing. It’s their logo. I love it. I own one of their t-shirts and a pint glass. They are 2 of my most prized possessions. Normally, I take a picture of the list of what I’m drinking but for some strange reason this totally escaped me. I think it had something to do with the place being super packed, a band playing loudly, and choosing beers from their speciality brews instead of their standard beers. And there were alot of handsome men too…just slightly distracting. Oh yeah! Since we had stopped on the way to Equinox at a coffee shop/used bookstore, I found an old book titled “Equinox” which Mike so kindly purchased and gave to the staff at the brewery. Distracted…and the sign about dangerous roaming lobsters…

Anyhoots, if you’re in Fort Collins, this is definitely one brewery you want to stop at.

From there, it went down hill. We stopped at Elliot’s and had a couple of drinks there. Of course, the smarty pants I am, I ask if they have Cap Rock gin because they didn’t have a gin list on the menu and I didn’t see it on the shelf. It’s become a habit. If I’m not drinking beer, I’m drinking gin. And I have become addicted to Cap Rock gin. What does the bartender do? He digs all the way to the back of the shelf, past all the crappy gins, to pull out a bottle of my second love. Tsk tsk! This Colorado gin is made with apples which makes it absolutely scumptious. The first time I drank it was this summer mixed as such: CapRock Gin, Aperol, Lemon and soda. Dear goodness…it knocked my socks off so hard I’m still looking for them. (I suspect they are under someone’s bed or in Boulder Creek….)

After Elliot’s we headed back to CranknStein to grab the car and my bike and head home. Robin was the DD for the night so that meant I got to take a nap in the back seat. Score! It was a fun day filled with peeps we haven’t seen in a while, lots of good beer, piggy back rides, the most hilarious ping pong match ever, and finished it with popcorn and Super Troopers.

Mike, I’m still holding your whirly pop hostage. The ransom is a bottle of Jack and CapRock gin.

*My seat had come off one morning at the end of a 14 mile commute. The bolt snapped in half as I was riding without hands on the handle bars and sitting back on the seat thus dumping me onto the back rack and promptly to the ground. After realizing what had just happened to me, I promptly started laughing. A young man ran up to me, trying to not laugh but said, “Oh my God! I can’t believe I just saw that! Are you okay?” I took it as a sign that the universe didn’t want me riding 28+ miles round trip for 4 days.

Montréal and the Land of Poutine and Steps

Did I mention there were a lot of stairs?

Did I mention there were a lot of stairs?

Let me start by saying, I love Canada.

I grew up in Upstate New York with the border being only a few hours drive. Canada is the home of the Tragically Hip, Unibroue, Ryan Reynolds, Nathan Fillion (heart be still…), Niagara Falls (the better side), peanut butter (yes, a Canadian had the first patent in 1884), lacrosse, Labatt, Banff Film Festival , General Lafayette, SCTV and Kids in the Hall, the movie Strange Brew, Cirque du Soleil, and a slamming craft beer week in Vancouver…how can you not love this country, eh?

When I flew back home in September to be in my best friend’s wedding, I decided that it was time to visit Montreal. I had been to Toronto, Oshawa, Kingston, and Niagara Falls. But the farthest I’d been north was Plattsburgh and Potsdam in NY State. It was a beautiful wedding in the Adirondack Mountains. Old Forge to be specific. It’s a town untouched by time, which makes me love it even more. To top it off, it was a peak time to see the leaves change. I forgot how amazingly beautiful it was. The swell of colors…reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and green. It’s absolutely stunning. And the wedding was a complete hoot!

After the wedding, in my little rental car, I hit the border with eager passport in hand. The day before I had made a reservation in a hostel in Old Montreal, by the port, named La Masion du Patriote (more of a youngsters hostel). Talk about bohemian love. This place was a slight challenge to find since it has no awning, sign, or other indication that it’s there. Which is nice because it makes you feel more a part of the city than just a tourist. Read the walls. Talk to the other guests. I met the two coolest guys that are totally straight but I thought were gay while staying there. That’s a story all its own. I still talk with them. I have wonderful memories of a comedy club, late night shawarma, a horribly funny “light show” in a church, and playing twinkle twinkle little star on my violin with guitar back up. Tom and Justin, you totally rock. Definitely go hang out by the river and the port. It’s beautiful.

Mont Royal Park is 200 hectares of wooded awesomeness with the peak of Mount Royal being 234 meters above the city. I hiked all over Mount Royal Park seeing spectacular views of the city especially at the Chalet du Mont Royal. Be sure to have a map with you inside the park because it’s easy to get lost on the multitude of trails(and steps) that weave through the park. Eventually I ended up on the east slope to see the Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument, where on summer Sundays a drumming and dancing festival happen. Attached to the park, is the enormous Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery and  I found a weeping angel there (for all you Dr Who fans). Cemeteries are great. They’re so peaceful. After my little jaunt, I was headed back to hostel for lunch on a trusty bicycle.

Of course a bicycle! Instead of walking or driving all over the city, you can get a Bixi. The Bixi is Montreal’s bike sharing program which is easy to use, has tons of stations all over the city, is economically priced, and allows you to cruise the city in style while getting some good exercise. Montreal does have hills, but don’t let that deter you. There’s tons of bike lanes and tons of bikers!

After seeing the Sacre Couer in Paris, going to visit the St Joseph Oratory in Montreal had that deja vu feel. Lots of steps, a big dome on a religious center, on top of a hill, and oh yeah…lots of steps. When you first enter the oratory, it has a very modern feel. Going into the bottom part where the original chapel and catacombs is much more interesting. In the catacombs, there are tons of crutches and canes on the walls from people who have been healed due to Brother Andre who passed in 1937 and deemed a saint. Don’t forget to check out the view from the terrace. All those steps are worth it.

But I did mention poutine. Dear goodness…there are few things as awesome as poutine. At least in my world. What is this thing I speak of? It sounds really simple: french fries, gravy and cheese. For some reason, the French-Canadians have this down to an addiction. I dream of Montreal’s poutine. If you’re not sure which place to go to for poutine, just ask. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has an opinion about which place has the best poutine. That’s no joke. Don’t worry if you can’t speak French either. I was speaking what little I know and when they figured out it wasn’t my native language, they asked “would this be easier in English?” But of course, it was still fun to try to continue in French!

Just outside the city is a little town named Chambly which is the home of one of my favorite breweries, Unibroue. Unfortunately, I forgot that on Mondays alot of place s are closed…like museums and historic buildings and sites and breweries. So my trip to Chambly was an epic fail. I saw the outside of Fort Chambly (awesome), the outside of Bedondaine and Bedons(craft brewery), and since Unibroue doesn’t have a publik house or tap room, I only saw heaven from the outside too. So sad but I still highly suggest a side trip to Chambly.

I know I’ve been rambling so here’s my suggestions of what to hit in Montreal:

  • Mount Royal Park
  • Notre Dame de Neiges Cemetery
  • St Joseph’s Oratory
  • Any brasserie (including Benelux because they’re a micro-brewery too)
  • the town of Chambly (not on a Monday)
  • Comedy Works Montreal
  • Cafe Pi (especially if you like playing chess)
  • Notre Dame Basilica
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (it’s free but donations are welcome)

I only spent 3 days there so I tried to pack in what I could. I felt lucky that it didn’t rain the whole time I was there until the day I left. Oh Montreal, I’ll miss you too.