Archive of ‘Travels’ category

Filled to the Brim

By Natalie

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Here’s the thing. You can’t tell me that God doesn’t answer prayers. Because I’m standing next to one.

I’ve been surrounded by answered prayer all year.

A year into moving here I prayed for God to bring true friends into our lives. People we could share our lives with, laugh with, eat with, celebrate with, support and love.

It seemed like a silly plea at the time, but worth asking for because God has come through before with so much more. I confided in an old friend when I was at my lowest through a written letter and as soon as I received her reply I felt completely wrapped in her love. She wrote, You are noticed. Heard. And seen. Although you are in such an uncomfortable season, I can assure you, you fit.

That’s all I needed to hear. I fit. I didn’t know where yet, but I fit. I signed up to serve in eKidz and Brandon and I joined a couple’s small group, where we found true friends we could go through life with.

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At the end of the summer a few of us drove westward to our neighboring mountain town Asheville.

We ate and walked all over town chatting, laughing, and building stronger friendships.

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This trip took place right in the middle of the gas shortage in our area. We drove out to Asheville with half a tank and didn’t think much of it. We figured we’d fill up the next morning on our way out. So far we hadn’t seen any gas stations in Charlotte out of commission, so we deemed it something the news most certainly was blowing out of proportion.

That was only until we rode out of Asheville with an empty tank. The first gas station we saw was out of gas. The next two we hit were out as well. By the fourth and fifth gas stations we really started to panic. We were driving further into nothing, with a screaming empty gas light.

The plan was to meet our friends for lunch at Sierra Nevada, just another 10 minutes out from where we were. Nine empty gas stations later we rolled into the parking lot. We walked in to sit at the table an hour late. Brandon hates dissapointing people and I hate being late. We were embarrassed and frustrated. I had chocolate cake for lunch which about sums up our experience.

But this story is all to speak highly of our friends. They were gracious and listened to our woes. I felt safe after such a nerve wracking drive.

After lunch Nate and Pam offered to drive us in one direction to find gas, while Russell and Jamie drove in a different direction to do the same. The first to find gas in this eerily post apocalyptic setting was to grab a tank and get it back to our car.

Jamie called, “I hear you’re looking for gas. We got it.”

We pulled up to the station they were at and saw Russell crouched down filling a tank for us. If that isn’t true friendship, then you tell me what is.

We made it back to our car and filled it with enough gas to get back to the station.

We made it home safely and it’s all thanks to our friends.

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At the end of 2015 we were given jars full of water at church. We were to come up with one word as a prayer for our next year. Once we had our word we poured our jars out, believing God would fulfill the desires of our hearts. I’m here to tell you that in my life He has. He always has.IMG_7858


Hey There Raleigh

By Natalie

Raleigh just so happens to sit right in between where we live now, and our hometown. We’d never visited the capitol of our new state before so we decided to spend the day and stay overnight on our way up to Fredericksburg recently. The only troubling thing about doing that was how nice it was to split the drive in half. I say every trip up to Fredericksburg deserves a stop in Raleigh.

We had a stinking ton of fun meandering around this city. Charlotte is modern and rustic and beautiful and sketchy all at once. Raleigh was so different. It was smaller than we imagined which made it quaint and full of character.
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Right off the bat we tried some eastern Carolina barbecue at The Pit. You know it’s good when they can get away with a name like that.

Across the street we stopped in at Videri Chocolate Factory to sip on americanos and gobble up some decadent truffles.

When my sister asked what our plans were in Raleigh I told her, “Oh I don’t know, walk around and eat. We’re foodies if you haven’t been able to tell already.” That’s totally what we did. We stopped in some eclectic shops, and we ate. We don’t eat pricey truffles the size of nickels very often, but when in a chocolate factory, that’s what I always say.  
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In between lunch and dinner we stopped in the museum of natural sciences. We got there an hour before they closed and had no idea how huge the place was, so naturally we went back the next morning to ensure we saw it all. Also, to check out that boa constrictor again. It was wrapped so snuggly around the branch in its habitat that Brandon was convinced it was fake.

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Brandon and I never really were great classroom learners. We like learning on our own terms. We’re do your own research, extract what’s important to you and throw out the fluff, tinker around with your own projects until you get it right visual kind of learners.

I once had a chemistry teacher who went blue in the face trying to teach me moles after school. It wasn’t clicking. The lightbulbs in my head were not even flickering. She repeated the logistics on and on, and could not understand why I wasn’t grasping the concept. All I saw were numbers on a paper. Once she started playing Mythbusters in the classroom I started getting interested. Not because we were watching a show in school, but because I desperately needed visual, experimental aide.

Get us in a museum with all that knowledge at our fingertips, where we can move along at our own pace and we’ll be the last to leave.

But seriously, we had to pry ourselves away that evening before they closed, like a couple of science geeks.

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When we thought we had eaten our hearts out we noticed our hotel had a snack bar. It was much too tempting to pass up, so we grabbed some goodies, and sat out on the lounge balcony to chat. I love these heart to hearts on trips. Whether it’s a week, a weekend, or even overnight we always make it a point to wrap up our stay with a genuine heart to heart. Brandon will tell me where he’s at, and I tell him where I’m at, we talk about our explorations, and then we talk about our future.

Face to face time is such important work in a marriage. We enjoy ours most with coffee at the kitchen table or on the couch. But having them on a trip where our eyes are opened to new possibilities is always a pleasant setting.

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Myrtle Beach & The Future

By Natalie

imageimageIsn’t it interesting how you make up these plans for your life, so certain that they’ll come to pass.. And years later you find yourself chuckling at those plans. Because you were a different person when you made them.

Brandon and I sat on the pier in Myrtle beach this past weekend after filling up on fresh seafood.

We took turns talking about our favorite memories together in our five years of marriage. Our wedding. Our honeymoon in the mountains. Our vacations. Our moves. Our growth. All of it.

We took some time to talk about our future too as we watched young kids splash around in the water. We had a plan for where we’d be at this mark, but it is so far off from what we ever imagined.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal journaling lately, leaving little to be shared here. But this is a safe place, so I’m just going to toss it out there.

I thought I’d be dying to get pregnant by this point. And part of me does feel that way, sure. I have a happy home, a dog who loves licking sticky fingers, and a supportive husband, why wouldn’t I feel the urge to expand our family?

But sometimes ya know.. I really don’t. If it happened tomorrow, I’d be happy. If it didn’t, I’d still be happy. Babies are scary right? God allots you the strength you need, and the patience to get through parenthood, which is incredible. But I’ll admit, after so many years it gets hard to imagine what it’ll actually be like.

I stayed with my sister last trip to Fredericksburg. My eyelids were growing heavy, and I was dying for sleep when I looked over, and saw Nem passed out beside me. I walked into the kitchen to clean up, and I saw my brother in law fast asleep on the couch. I squinted to see the time on the microwave, telling me it was close to midnight. I walked into the living room, and saw Maceo sleeping in his swing. This tiny little human rendering his whole family exausted. I got myself ready for bed, and was about to slip under the covers when my sister’s alarm on her phone went off. It was feeding time. AGAIN. My brother in law woke up as delirious as ever, and Nem came to, eyes tired. We spent another few hours awake, caring for Maceo, and watching Caribbean Life on HGTV.

People say you’re never ready, and I believe that’s certainly true. It sort of seems like you get convinced to do it, then once you tell everyone how hard it is, they give you this knowing nod.

But here’s the twist. I don’t doubt we are in a place where we’re ready. Nannying for one has taught me a lot. I realized very quickly that it’s better to get out of the house for all our sanity, even if the kiddos scream and cry. I know what it’s like to deal with temper tantrums in Target, cleaning up vomit, getting sneezed on, coughed on, and prepping food for hungry bellies while my own hunger pain is eating away at me.

My mom in law tells me it’s different with your own. That there is nothing like having your own children. I cling to that truth. I know that when we have our own it will be hard, and beautiful, and fun, and frustrating, and tiresome, but everything I ever imagined.

imageTo be honest, halfway through writing this I felt like deleting it. Because what if I feel differently tomorrow? Or next week? Or just a couple months from now? I’ve decided that’s ok. It’s ok to feel like today I want to travel more. See more mountains, more beaches, more of the world. Spend more quality time with my husband, and focus on becoming a better me.imageTomorrow I can throw that all out the window, and say let’s start a family. Because no matter when you have kids you will be making a sacrifice. There’s no shame in cutting off deadlines, and living in abandonment of the path God has you on. It doesn’t mean that I can’t plan, it just means that it’s ok for plans to change. It’s ok to uproot, and move towards whatever feels right for us at the moment. Life is surprisingly much smoother that way..

And Nana Poe says no! More grand babies! I do hate leaving you hanging like this. One day Mom, I promise. One day. image

Goodbyes

By Natalie

imageMan goodbyes are the hardest.
I took the train up to Fredericksburg this past weekend for my sister’s baby shower. Friday morning Brandon dropped me off at the train station. When I finally realized which line I was supposed to be in it was already half gone. I pointed and said to B “This is me.” And he smiled and said “K. Have fun. Bye. Love you.” There was only time for a quick goodbye kiss, and I headed for the platform.
My aunt waited to pick me up in Fredericksburg, and took me straight home to feed me the food of my childhood. I settled in, just as if I had never left.
Nem’s shower was a sea of faces to catch up with. A place full of people who have met my sister somewhere along the way, and ecstatic to be celebrating the baby she and Sean are expecting. After saying our until next times to the last of the guests, I hopped in the back seat of the Lawrence’s car. I looked over as I buckled my seatbelt, and Norah turned her head toward me, and smiled.
“Oh she loves it when someone rides back there with her.” Nadir said.
We get to the Lawrence’s and I snuggle in there. Nadir and I catch up, and we laugh together at reruns of our favorite sitcom. Norah downed a bottle, and nuzzled right into me when she finished. Being the second center of attention at a party is exhausting for a little one.imageThe next morning I walked into Norah’s room to get her up. I peeked into her crib, and she lay there peacefully.
“Good morning Norah.” I said as I brushed my fingertips down her arm. She wriggled, and stretched her arm up, resting the back of her forearm on her forehead.
“You are just a snoozer.” I said as I reached my hands under her arms, and pulled her close. She blinked her eyes open to meet my gaze.
“Hi, sweet pea.”
I laid her on the changing table to get her in a fresh diaper. She smiled at me, and stretched her legs. “Yea are you in a good mood today?”
I took a second to admire her, since she is growing so fast, and I thought about little Grant. How one day I was gently settling him into his bassinet, and now I find myself walking into the nursery of a bouncing toddler in his crib. The two of us laughing, as I swoosh him out.
I get Norah ready and Nadir drives me to meet up with the Poes. I kissed Norah goodbye, and gave my sister a grateful hug. Not allowing it to last too long, cause if it did, we’d both be in tears.
I spent Sunday morning with my in laws, which seems too detached of a word. They’re Mom. They’re Dad, and Laura. Ryan, Ashley and my wild nephews Mason and Everett, still in the peak of their childhood.
Their home, it feels like home, and I love being back there.
Mom, Dad, and Laura took me to the train station, and waited on the platform with me. The train pulled in, and the hugs were too short. I found my seat, threw my suitcase up top, and sat. I looked out the window, and saw Mom and Laura walking up and down the length of the car I stepped into, looking for me. I knocked on the window, and then noticed the girl in front of me was asleep, resting her head on the window. I waved, but they didn’t see me. I watched them still searching, as the train pulled away, and my heart sank. “Goodbye.” I said to myself as I watched Fredericksburg slip away into the trees.

Leaving Fredericksburg is like leaving home. But when the train pulled into Charlotte I felt at home too. I love it here. I love our life here. I want to build a future here. Goodbyes will always be difficult. But without goodbyes there’s no anxious and excited hellos. As easy as it would be to give into the sadness of a goodbye, I must remember the path that God has laid for us, and the direction he is leading us. That makes the goodbyes easier, because in fact they’re not goodbyes at all. They’re simply a see you soon. 
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Gone Camping

By Natalie

imageI am not in the business of leading you to believe that the events which take place in our lives are absolutely golden. Because just like everybody else, that is not always the case.imageWe went camping this past weekend and we did have quite a bit of fun, but I also managed to forget batteries for the lantern, misplaced Bingley’s long leash, and very last minute we decided we were in need of a sleeping bag.

Saturday morning we shoved most everything in our tent to meet Sara and Dave for an apple festival. After meandering around, wasting fourteen dollars on tickets, and wondering what all the fuss was about, we realized we were in the wrong place. Parking at a family farm full of kiddie swings, and hay mazes rather than an apple orchard.

Naturally Brandon was all “What’s the name of the place we’re supposed to be?” And when I responded he said, “Yea, that’s not where we are.” And he pointed to the sign out front that read Peach Farm. Copilot fail on my part for the umpteenth time in our marriage.

Because I consider myself such a planner… such an organized freak, these things just get my goat. Trickling their way in to ruin things. I give myself the hardest time. I don’t like it one bit, but I do send myself into these whirlwinds of self shaming, and I’m exhausted from it. This time it was forgetting things, and getting us wrong directions. Weeks ago it was accidentally demolishing a souvenir shot glass from Sacramento in the garbage disposal. Weeks before that it was having made a dinner without 2 important ingredients that made all the difference. And so on…

I can’t stand for it. Not when it’s only simple honest mistakes. Not when I remembered everything else on our trip including Wet Wipes that I excitedly whipped out like some kind of magician when Brandon plainly mentioned he wished to rinse his hands after his S’more Friday night.
imageimageimageBack at the campsite I sat to chop peppers, steak, and onion for our kabobs. B went out to grab batteries for the lantern, and I wanted to sit there feeling terrible that it was my fault he was needing to run out. But just before the thoughts could take hold of my mind I heard a bunch of children playing behind me shouting “Daddy this, and Dad that.” All while this father set up their camp. I thought to myself as I often do, “What will it be like to camp years from now and hear those words escape the mouths of our own little ones?”

Brandon came back and I totally had to apologize for my behavior. Then we moved on, and got to skewering our kabobs.imageimageimage

Swooooon.

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Fall Camping Essentials

As told by Natalie Poe for her kind of Camping

Leisure 

  • Tent
  • Camping Chairs
  • Sleeping Bag (as a top layer for warmth)
  • Air Mattress (lightly blown up to provide support for gravel sites)
  • Pillows
  • Flannel & or fleece blankets
  • Lantern
  • Book

Food Supplies

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  • Tablecloth
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Pot Holder
  • Grilling Tongs & Spatula
  • French Press or Percolator
  • Thermos (one for drinking water, one for coffee)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Egg Carton
  • Salt & Pepper + Other Condiments
  • Camping Utensils
  • Plates
  • Paper Towel Roll
  • Wet Wipes
  • Long Skewers (for hot dogs & mallows!)
  • Pot for Water (to make coffee in the morning!)
  • Thermal bag (to keep the non refrigerated stuff from freezing, or melting)
  • Cooler
  • Ice packs
  • Camping Stove (this is what we heat out water up on.)
  • Firewood
  • Fire Starter (bricks or gel)
  • DIY Firestarter
  • Reusable Bags

Puppy

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  • Food & Water
  • Food & Water Bowl
  • Long Leash
  • Doggie Bags
  • Treats
  • Sweater (if you’ve got a small short haired pup who needs it)
  • Glow in the Dark Collar!

Clothing

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  • Layers, Layers, Layers! (especially when it’s warm during the day, and cool when the sun sets.)
  • Wigwam Socks (to keep your little piggies toasty)
  • Warm Sneakers, Boots, or Moccasins.
  • I like to wear athletic pants that I can pull fleece pj pants over for extra warmth
  • Hoodie
  • Long & Short Sleeve Tees
  • Hat (sadly not everyone has an awesome sister in law to knit them a warm hat like we do. So you will have to settle for some other ho hum hat.)
  • Fingerless Gloves
  • And of course, flannel!

How We Vacation: Charleston

By Natalie

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Who’s idea was it to vacation in Charleston in this blazing heat?? Surely we weren’t thinking clearly when we pushed our trip from May to June.

Hot, muggy, beautiful Charleston,

Thanks for the tan.

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imageThis trip was actually amazing now that I’ve had a moment to think about it. We like to vacation with no particular plan in mind. No scheduled tours, no itinerary, just a handful of bookmarked Yelp found eateries, and places we might like to see.

Which works out pretty well for our personalities.

We revisited an Inn in Mt. Pleasant which perfectly sat us twelve minutes from downtown Charleston, and twelve minutes from Isle of Palms Beach in the other direction. We stayed at this inn for our 1 year anniversary and loved it so much we decided to go back, and I’d highly recommend! Three years later and this place still had an amazing breakfast, and wonderful service.

imageAlso, this cooler bag is a must.

Through my sunglasses I watched as a younger couple argued in the sand. The man stood red faced next his cooler on wheels, as the woman pointed toward the shore. “Look, right over there.” She said.

“If we just sit it on the packed wet sand, it’ll be fine.”

The man shook his head, clearly annoyed with beads of sweat rolling down his temple. “No, no no.. this thing’s gonna tip. I don’t know why we brought it.”

And yea, unless I was providing a beach lunch for a crowd, I’d have left the rolling cooler behind too.

This ↓ thermal bag is a much more practical option. To be honest I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. Thinking it’d solely get it’s use from the occasional picnic. But it’s proven to be great for the beach, (as seen previously here) and road trips too. It fits a few ice packs, and several tall drinks. Plus.. it’s personalized.

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This is my Could we pretty please stop by that cute Cafe a few blocks up? face. Cause I was getting pretty sun tired. image

I know, I know. Rainbow Row. It’s beautiful, it’s iconic. It’s a see it once, take a pano, and move along kind of place. We’re the type of people who drove across the golden gate bridge, took a few pics from inside the car, and zipped by the vistapoint. Cause.. the experience had been had. I saw the golden gate bridge for the first time. The moment was over as quickly as it came. It wasn’t going to do a backflip for me. It just was what it was. This magnificent structure that I had the privilege to see. And that was that.

Later, during that trip B and I had lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. The fog had cleared, and the top of the golden gate was just becoming visible. I peaked around Brandon to see the bridge standing ahead.

I remember the bridge pretty well.. but what’s much more vivid in my memory is that moment spent with Brandon. That moment where we sat together discussing all the new sights we were seeing.

I had the same experience when I went to Europe with my sister. We sat at a table outside a cafe in the middle of Athens. And just to the left of Nem’s head sat the Parthenon. It was such a surreal moment. We saw it up close. We toured it, and then there it sat in all it’s ruin, while Nem and I sipped our iced coffees. The parthenon was pretty fantastic, but so was the time we spent together. Attempting to thank our waiter in Greek.

We saw the trevi fountain together, and I remember it being crowded. Everyone scrambling to toss their coin in, and get a picture. I remember that we hung back, stepped into a gelato shop instead, and devoured the creamiest italian gelato with the fountain in our peripherals.

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I like keeping it that way. Spotting landmarks, and stealing a moment to take them in, and then focus on the person I’m sharing in that moment with. That’s what it’s all about for me.

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After rainbow row, we hit up Carmella’s. The doors were wide open inviting us inside to the cooler air. The menu had italian ice listed at the top. Sold. After tasting a sampling of Coconut Cream I COULD NOT turn it down.

The woman behind the counter asked if we’d like a glass of water to which we exasperatingly replied. “Please, yes, please, thank you so much.” Because we sweat gallons this trip, and being dehydrated makes you cranky, and no one wants a cranky spouse on vacation.

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Rosy cheeks, and happy. That’s what we were going for.

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p.s. How can my husband still look so manly while eating tangerine italian ice with a baby spoon?

I love him.imageAnd that’s how our trip went. Perfectly relaxing, and restoring. With a pleasant overdose of Vitamin D.

Camping in Comfort

By Natalie

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I’ve been trying to convince Brandon that I find camping to be romantic when it’s just the two of us. He still doesn’t quite believe how it could be. Just us, our dog, a campfire, s’mores, no distractions, chilly nights that leave you snuggling for warmth. How could it not be? Camping is one of those things that once you have all the gear it’s a super inexpensive outing. You’d think he’d take me up on it more often right?

Now with my kind of camping we bring an air mattress, cause I’m not quite at the sleeping bag level, and I’m not sure I will be. To each his own. I also brought everything I could. We had enough bags to make an extreme camper cringe. As B began loading the car he said “Really babe, it’s just one night.” And then I got all defensive. “I know!” I said. “This is why I want to do more than one night next time, because it’s ridiculous that we need to bring all this stuff just for one evening.”

“Really?” Brandon said. “We need to bring scones?” he pointed down at the grocery bag full of food where I had stuffed some mini scones for breakfast. He got me. I may have gone a bit overboard. But I’d rather have too much than too little. Someone back me up on this.

So we get to the site, and you’d think that I remembered it all right? False. Once our tent was quickly set up, I began unpacking bags on the picnic table and B says “Where’d you put the matches?”

My eyes got all wide, and I looked at him with an I’m so sorry face. I totally forgot the matches, and I knew it too cause they weren’t where they usually are at home, and I tried to remember to grab them before we left. Inevitably I didn’t. Who goes camping and forgets the matches!? I made poor B walk up to the front gate where he had to ask for matches. You could imagine his embarrassment. But don’t worry there’s more.

“I’m kind of embarrassed to blow up the air mattress out here.” He says to me. The campsites were a bit closer together than we were used to. And aside from the crickets, and crackle from the fire, it was awfully quiet out there. “Well we don’t even own sleeping bags.” I said. “So just do it quick.”

I heard a little whirring sound come out from inside the tent, and then it almost immediately shut off. Then I heard large forced puffs, in a synchronized fashion. “No he is not.” I thought. I walked over, and unzipped the front of the tent. There was B sitting with the air mattress pressed to his lips. “No!” I said. “There is no way you will be able to blow up a queen sized air mattress on your own! You’re going to kill your lungs!! I knew you were going to do this!” He laughed knowing just how ridiculous it was. Brandon, that guy. He cracks me up.

He used the motor to blow it up, and no one judged us, as far as we knew. I like to camp in as much comfort as possible, is that so bad?

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Bingley LOVED camping. He was a bit anxious and confused at first but once he realized we were there to stay he loved being outside all night, and I loved having him there. He sat right in between our chairs most of the night looking up every now and then to see if we were going to toss a potato chip or two his way.

How fabulous is that collar of his? I put it on him since the beginning of October, and I realized two things…

  1. He looks pretty good in green.
  2. It’s perfect for camping, because it glows in the dark! Perfect for finding him in the tent.

Breakfast was amazing. But I’m married to a Poe boy. I’m pretty sure it’s inevitable to have great camping breakfast with those men. B made Bacon, eggs, and coffee. They were soooo good. He’s a keeper, I know.

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Flying Standby

By Natalie

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There  once was a time when Brandon and I had the silly notion that flying standby on a weekend in August would be an adventure. Do you know what it’s like to open your eyes and stretch your arms out with a yawn while you look out airport windows? To look out at the sunrise while you rub your sore side from laying out on airport gate seating. I do. All too well.

I have this love for airports. The second you step inside you’ve submerged yourself into a melting pot of people. The air drips with foreign languages, and people. I still share a love of airports, but there was a time where that love was tested.

August 9th 2012

We rubbed our tired eyes and carried our bags from the metro to Reagan National Airport. Here’s how our itinerary began:

  • Reagan, D.C. → Phoenix, AZ
  • Phoenix, AZ → Salt Lake City, UT

We sat anxiously awaiting to find out if the first flight to Phoenix held open seats. After boarding each class the attendant informed us that we were out of luck. Brandon quickly ran over to customer service to find out what our options were. Now imagine the equivalent to a rude DMV employee at the end of their shift who has no desire to help you. This woman told us that we were crazy for trying to fly standby during such a busy time which we were already realizing. But what was a young broke couple to do when there was a small family reunion on the other side of the country?

“Here’s your options.” She said.

  • Reagan, D.C. → Charlotte, NC → Phoenix, AZ
  • Reagan, D.C. → Philadelphia, PA → Phoenix, AZ

The two men standing next to us in line where trying to accomplish the same thing, and were choosing Charlotte. So we said “We’ll take Philadelphia.” Granting us better odds of making a flight out of Reagan. The woman mentioned that the gate was on the other side of the airport, and we would need to exit, and reenter security. Brandon looked at the tickets in his hand, then the time. “This flight leaves in less than 10 minutes.” he said. “Are we going to make it?”

This woman’s eyes rolled so far, I didn’t think they were coming back around. Her lips pursed as she rudely responded. “You’re going to have to run.”

If I remember correctly I thought “Oh she can’t be serious. I’m not running.” But before I could even gather my thoughts Brandon grabbed my arm, and pulled me into a brisk walk, which broke out into a full on movie-esque run through the airport. Luckily for us Brandon’s peripherals spotted a shuttle bus that was boarding, and about to head to the other side of the airport. Allowing us to bypass going through security again.

We made it to the gate with minutes to spare, and even made it onto that very flight to Philly. This was a point where we still had smiles on our faces. Unfortunately for us that was just the beginning.

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When we landed in Philly we rushed over to our next flight. The gate was packed and it was apparent that the chances of there being two open seats were slim. To save ourselves some time Brandon approached the attendant at the gate simply to ask where we stood on the list. The woman put her hand up in a flustered manner, and in a sharp tone spit, “Sir, you need to step back.”

Taken by surprise Brandon said “Forget it.” And pulled me once again this time in the direction of customer service to change our flight. Our updated itinerary read:

  • Philadelphia, PA → Houston, TX
  • Houston, TX → Phoenix, AZ
  • Phoenix, AZ → Salt Lake City UT

We were reassured that to keep moving was the best bet. So we flew to Houston, grabbed as quick of a lunch as possible, scarfed it down, and rushed to the gate. Can you guess? No two available seats. Back to customer service we went to find another flight to Phoenix. The further west we got the kinder the employees were. Just an observation. Thoroughly disappointed that we swallowed our lunch and now had hours to kill we sat at a bench in the center of the Houston airport. Brandon ventured off to purchase an overpriced phone charger, because amateur standby flyer Natalie packed them in the checked bag. Rookie mistake. I sat for I don’t know how long watching a cheery shoe shine man coaxing business men to his chair for a shoe shine. A shoe shine, somewhat of a lost art, but goodness what a luxury. Could it be compared to the male equivalent of a pedicure?

Sometime that afternoon we were the last ones to make it onto the last flight to Phoenix. Leaving behind a young man with nothing but his backpack. Two of the four flights we took on this trip B and I sat separately. “Look.” B held up the boarding passes to me. “These are both middle seats. One is in the front, one is toward the back. You walk ahead of me, and see if you want the first choice. If not then you can take your chances in the back.” I boarded the plane not liking the sound of taking chances, but the first middle seat was in between two larger nerdy looking younger guys. I looked back toward B and shook my head… He slipped into the seat, as I continued my way toward the back of the plane. The very back. The last row to be exact. My shoulders dropped, my eyes looked droopily downward and I sighed a deep sigh as if I thought that this was a trip of positive encounters. I pointed to the center seat, “Scuse me.” I managed to get out. “That’s my lucky seat there.” I wanted to say. These two large older men thought they had it made with tons of leg room, until I showed up. There I sat for the next few hours arms squished inward, and knees pressed together, feeling rather short, and small. We made it to Phoenix. Almost there right? WRONG! Have you learned nothing from this story?

We were seconds away from the attendant letting us on the flight. Seconds! Until some chump came running out of nowhere with a death grip on his boarding pass. “You’ll need to get to the gate earlier next time.” The attendant said. “I almost gave your seat away.” Then he looked over at us while they shut the door and said “I’m sorry, that was the last flight to Salt Lake City for the night.”

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My eyes wandered over to the window as the plane pulled away. The sun began to lower itself behind the Arizona mountains. The clock read around 7:30pm. “Well that’s it I guess.” B said. He plopped down in a seat, and phoned his family to inform them we wouldn’t make it until the next day. It took me a minute to process. “But where will we sleep? We’ve been up since 4am, and we’re exhausted. What about my toothbrush in the checked bag? What about pjs and a blanket? I was wearing a tank top with leggings, and flip flops, and Phoenix likes it cold indoors. The answers were that we’d be sleeping right there on the gate seats, using Brandon’s T-shirts he had packed in his carry on to keep warm. Sleep is well… not quite the right word. It was more like drifting in and out of half hour naps. Until about 5am when a man stormed through with a painfully loud vacuum cleaner attached to his back. He shoved the floor hose in between each individual seat, not minding that he was knocking into each leg of the seats startling a bunch of sleeping weirdos awake.

Then he went to empty out the vacuum and a giant dust cloud spilled out all over the floor. haha. Misery loves company, and we were miserable. So yes, B and I may or may not have looked at each other and shamefully chuckled at the man who awoke us from our joke of a night’s sleep.

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To keep up with our poor airport diet we began the day with giant rolls from Cinnabon. We set our bags down to wait for the first flight out to Salt Lake City. The airport was deserted, and peaceful as we watched the sunrise. “What a story to tell.” We thought, as we finally sat on our last flight.

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The Ace Hotel

By Natalie

Today is one of those days. I’ve got a mean case of the Post Vacation Woes. Still? I know right?

One day we’re living lavishly, and the next it’s back to the grind.

In order to cope with my post vacation sadness I decided that perhaps I should give you a hotel review in the event that perhaps you’d have the opportunity to visit. Because trust me, this hotel is deserving of my praise.

My Goodness the Ace Hotel. It’s as Hipster as they come.

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The Ace Hotel is a collection of hotels with locations in:

  • London
  • Los Angeles [Where we stayed]
  • New York
  • Palm Springs
  • Portland
  • Seattle
  • Panama

This hotel was every thing that is manly. And everything a woman could appreciate all in one package. Concierge dressed in white button downs with rolled up sleeves, and skinny ties. Bellhops with dreads, and v-necks, and blue jeans. Barn doors to the bathroom. Checkered floors. Sketches of palm trees scattered along the walls. Concrete ceilings. Deep, dark color palettes. Record players. The works.

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Soap, Shampoo, and Conditioner that smelled of the most enticing citrus fruits.

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After we settled into our room we decided to head down to the restaurant for dinner. We were seated at a small table in the corner, and greeted by our friendly waiter dressed casually with class.

photo 1 Dinner was perfect. Conversation with my husband was perfect, as we discussed the places we’d be visiting during our stay in LA.

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In the morning after we woke and gathered our things for the day we stepped out into the lobby to be greeted by baristas at this little cafe just off of the restaurant. We stopped here every morning because the coffee was fresh, and the breakfast bakery items were melt in your mouth good.

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If you’re in for a treat, if you’re looking for something different, if you wish to have a great stay… you should really go and visit.

Thanks for the amazing stay Ace, you were so good to us.

 

Be Still & Know

By Natalie

This is an admiration letter from me to my creator. Just so you know. I had one of those moments on a plane recently. One where I felt so small, in such a massive world.

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Oh God, how can anyone deny your existence when they see beautiful earth? You’ve so delicately placed every field of wildflowers. So tremendously raised every mountain. Yet we believe the earth to be ours. But, God I am not so selfish. I am not so fooled. I’ve flown over this land. I’ve seen your painting, and it’s gorgeous. Your widespread oceans, your fields of green. Then, if you look hard enough, there’s us. Teeny tiny little people in the center of all your creation. There we are trying to figure it all out on our own. How silly that seems from above. You alone are the one to put our trust in. You alone are the great artist. If only we would be still and know.

Natalie

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