Funny signs

no undies, no eaties

I’m away from home base and having what I consider a most incredibly gluttonous amazing perfect day; porch, sun, palm trees close enough to touch, laptop, book, work, and quiet. For a girl like me who doesn’t allow herself nearly as much “me” time she needs, yet does a great job teaching others how to take it, and take it often, I’m in heaven right now.

Let me just go ahead and call myself out here again. Just trying to keep all of us on our toes, baby:)

I’m visiting someone who’s stuck at work longer than he cares to be today, but that stuck is a good thing in this case because it means I get the best of all worlds…a me fiesta, coupled with good bits of fun company at lunch and later tonight. (Win, win!) I just got scooped up for lunch and we went to one of those fascinating dive joints that I’m always on the search for. You know, the place that’s just the perfect amount of grimy and always filled to the max with locals, and blue collar friendly everyone?

Giant sandwich

Lunch

Did I mention I ordered the small veggie “round” sandwich? Mmmm…

My favorite part of our visit was the sign on the door as we walked in:

Door signs

Oh travel, new spots, and good food, you are my besties!

How are you taking care of yourself today?

#AlwaysLookingUp #EverydayAdventure #LifeUnstuck

*(You know what would be extra special and awesome? If you scrolled to the bottom page of this website and subscribed to my blog posts, so you can get them in your email inbox, that’s what. You know what else would be awesome? Ice cream for dinner. You can have it all! YAHTZEE! Treats left and right. Fantastic.)*

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nola, jazz fest, and a beignet addiction

As promised…our road trip to New Orleans!

The weather was perfect for our trek to The Big Easy the first weekend in May. We rolled in for our long weekend on Friday:

New Orleans welcome sign

…dropped our bags off at the hotel and walked (safety first!) with mimosas to to Jazz Fest. Pit stop at Whole Foods for the bathroom along the way, and naturally I couldn’t resist this photo from their bathroom:

Whole Foods Bathroom

Can you see the “dance flo” text? BHAHHH! (I’m easily entertained. Translation; cheap date:)

Onto the festival, with people, parades, and music- oh my!

New Orleans Jazz Fest

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

Relaxing Jazz Tent:

New Orleans

New Orleans

I would’t necessarily think of Christina Aguilera when I think of jazz, but that girl with her big pregnant belly got me dancing:

New Orleans

New Orleans

Great long day at the festival, trolly ride back to hotel, and sunset:

New Orleans

After a shower and prep for dinner, we ran into this crazy fun and awesome parade of a wedding party one block off Bourbon Street, celebrating their nuptial NOLA-Style:

The next morning, completely random tree/sky/building “up” photo as we wandered around:

New Orleans

(If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I became slightly obsessed with sky/skyscraper/cloud photos while living in Chicago, and took a lot of photos there.)

We probably walked 20 miles on Saturday, just wandering…people, streets, and food:

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

…which is a good thing, because we at beignets 3 times that day. Three. Oh the heavenly beignets at Cafe’ Du Monde:

Beignets

Beignets

Jackson Square was a fun stop:

New Orleans

…for a balcony glass of vino and a perfect people watching spot at Tableau:

Tableau New Orleans

..and of course, a most random street “band” for entertainment:

Next up was R Bar where we met hometown chef Newton Blanchard, stirring up an enormous pot of gumbo:

New Orleans

New Orleans

This guy pulls to the side of the street, every Saturday, preps this giant serving of New Orleans best that’s ready for the taking “around 6pm” and people flock. No charge, just a donation. We chatted with Newton and sat around outside for a good 2+ hours and stuffed our faces. I mean stuffed:

The Big Easy

My sweet, sweet, boyfriend, who’s straight from French-Cajun Country himself- was in heaven:

Gumbo

(Yikes…I think this is the official first photo of us I’ve posted on BLR. Actually, I think this is the first photo I have ever posted of  my love life here and It’s been nearly 6 years. Clearly I’ve held out for someone who was well worth the wait:)

The food was super hot (temperature & spice) I could barely take little bites, but I had to dig in immediately after Newton served us:

New Orleans

New Orleans

I will say it here first. I have eaten and posted here about a lot of food over these years, but holy moses was this roadside, stirred from something that looked like a shovel and served in a styrofoam bowl with a plastic fork some of the best ever. (Good thing I’m living with a Cajun. I’m sold!)

*Side note the striped can in the background above is my total summer favorite. It’s Radler actually, by Stiegel. Beer + grapefruit extra cold = heavenly delicious and refreshing. It’s hard to come by, so if you can get your hands on a can- do. Then bring me one, please.

After the feast and time with the locals, I played with sidewalk chalk at the Frenchmen Street Market:

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

…and laid on the ground because it seemed like a good idea at the time and I was already filthy from walking around all day, anyway. I’m not scared of a little New Orleans, funk:

New Orleans

Love me some life on the Blue Lollipop Road!

One last stop for our 3rd round of beignets after-dark and our day was complete:

New Orleans

We made a good samaritan practice while noshing round 3, and tracked down a guy who had left his wallet at our table. He came back, the group next to us cheered, and missing wallet man from Tennessee gave us hugs. All love at the end of a day in The Big Easy with a full belly, a face full of powdered sugar, and the best travel partner in crime by my side.

I’m already ready to go again.

Where are you traveling to?

#NOLA #JazzFest #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad

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HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY BLUE LOLLIPOP ROAD!

YIPPEE!!!

Today is Wednesday October 16, and this makes b-day number 5 for BLR. Let’s celebrate!

Cupcake anyone?!

She-Daisy Cupcakery Cupcake

This is the perfect time to write about the above de-lish treat (sun drop pound cake with a sun drop glaze and lemon buttercream) that Wendi, Owner of She Daisy Cupcakery gifted me a few weeks ago after she bought a pair of my vintage Frye boots. (Craigslist rocks.) So yeah, I took a treat from a stranger. (I seem to keep breaking all those rules our parents told us to live by.) Wendi was a blast to talk to. She quit a career that was blah, followed her passion to the land of things sweet- and voila a cupcake company! Another good story about a random encounter with a hard-working, inspiring person who followed their heart. I love being able to share about these kind of people here.

Without a doubt the best part of these past 5 years on the Blue Lollipop Road, has been meeting new people, the kindness of strangers, and spending time with those already in my life that I love. What else is there, really?

Ahhh- yes, the people I’ve met along the way, who share similar interests:

Million Mile Joe

Hood River, Oregon travel people

Allen & Judy Kirkwood on Alaska Ferry Boat

Meet Jack Burrows: Blue Lollipop Road

…the cities I’ve fallen in love with:

Chicago skyline from my apartment

Toronto view

…my various office locations:

Blue Benn Diner Office

Coffee Shop Office

Finger Lakes Office

My BLR Chicago Office

Coffee Shop Office

Coffee Shop Patio Office

…the food I’ve noshed on:

Chicago Brunch de-lish

Food truck tacos

Bongo Room Pancakes

Blue Benn Diner breakfast appetizer

…the places that’ve helped me find the way back to myself:

Thank you Argentina! I found myself again

…the signs that make me laugh:

Signs at The Chocolate Barn

Signs In Bathrooms

Upstate, NY Road Signs

Farmer's Market

Funny Signs: Blue Lollipop Road

Funny Signs: Blue Lollipop Road

…the excitement, energy, and adorable kids (and adults) who keep the Strong Mojo alive:

BLR Play It Forward Day 2012

Ben & Sam with blue tongues

The Carter Girls playing mini gold in BLR tees

Blue Lollipop Kids!

Caleb & Carter with blue tongues

Scott & Sierra love blue lollipops

…the adventure from coast to coast and beyond:

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

BLR-Mobile at the Alaska Border

BLR in Bermuda

The original Blue Lollipop Road: Cafayete, Argentina

Henna in India

Bermuda sights

Iquazu Falls, Argentina

London

"Crabbing" in Ketchikan, Alaska

…the lessons I’ve learned:

BLR inspiration

…the special friends I’ve reconnected with:

BLR Play It Forward Day 2012

BLR Play It Forward 2013

BLR PLay It Forward Day 2012

BLR PLay It Forward Celebration Cocktails 2013

…honoring lost friends by giving back to hometown female athletes, so they have the opportunity to go out and see a bigger world too:

BLR Memorial Scholarship recipients Hannah Patterson & Mercedes Chen

(Above left 2012 Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship recipient Hannah Patterson, and 2013 recipient Mercedes Chen at a recent soccer game:)

…events with good friends in beloved landmarks:

Cubs at Wrigley!

…the strangers out there who’re also on the Blue Lollipop Road:

BLR partners in crime

…the freedom I have found and felt:

Finding freedom on the Blue Lollipop Road

Finding freedom on the Blue Lollipop Road

…the truths I’ve come to know and trust:

Knowing what makes me richer

…the journeys and daydreaming in the sky:

Plane ride to Bermuda

…and on the road:

VA farm country

…the cheesy places I’ve been:

BLR-Mobile at South of the Border

…and the beautiful:

Napa hot air balloon mornings

…the nicknames I’ve acquired:

Nicknames

…knowing that there will always be bumps, so I better strap in tight:

Buckle up on the BLR

…never losing faith in things that I hope for:

I think so too

Things I wish

…and to wherever, and whatever- the road leads to next:

The Blue Lollipop Road

5 years ago today I drove down a road in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and “Blue Lollipop Road” popped ever so randomly into my head as I was brainstorming a best way to share my stories with more than just family and close friends. Who knew this is what it would become! I’ve managed all the above on a shoestring budget and with no plan whatsoever. I didn’t grow up with a trust fund, I never spent my childhood jet-setting the globe with my parents (I barely made it out of the state of Vermont until I was 15), I’ve never taken any writing or computer classes (I’m sure that is very obvious considering my regular grammatical errors and other:), and at the risk of sounding so cliche’- I’m just a small town wildly curious kid, that came from humble beginnings, learned in an heartbreaking incident at a very young age how short life is, and since then have decided that every day is a chance and a choice to live like I mean it. During my journeys on this Blue Lollipop Road, I’ve learned things that’ve absolutely changed my perspective and my life as a whole, I’ve seen places that’ve taken my breath away, and I’ve met people I wouldn’t have been able to in my wildest dreams- all because of this platform. Now that is something to celebrate!

I’ve written and shared here in and effort to keep myself in check and awake about what’s really important, to prevent myself from falling into the drone-zone, and to remember all the things that are possible. I hope by visiting here, you stay fired-up about life, like a kid in a candy store too.

Here’s to the next 5 years, and to going for it all.

What are you celebrating today?

#HappyBirthday #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad #ThisIsWhatILove.

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pool rules

The pool in my building opened this weekend for the kick off to summer and with the access key, of course came the rules.

#20 is my favorite:

Pool rules- summer 2012

It’s a good thing they made that clear for all of us!

To think all the other residents and I were all about to head downstairs with our soap, shampoo and razors. Bummer..

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day 14: nags head, to stumpy point bay, to columbia, to fairfield, to swan quarter, nc to richmond, va

Yes, that many places in one day and then some. This is where I will ask you to get out a map to follow this story.

No really, go grab a NC map- you are going to need it!

During yesterday, day 13 around OBX and after hearing there were going to be issues with getting to Cape Hatteras with road closures, rearranged ferry’s and ferry schedules, I started asking and calling and calling and asking. Yep, the 800 numbers, locals, staff at various business and visitors centers, even police officers- you name it, I asked and tried and tried and asked, determined to make it to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. As you will hear in the following videos and see in the photos- I didn’t make it, but I did meet some southern sweeties and had quite the drive through the back roads of NC.

I was told/given several stories before I began my attempt to make it on a ferry. Everyone had good intention and really thought they were giving me the right information, but turns out no one really knew what was going on and I didn’t find out the actual deal until I went allllll the way to the end of the line to learn Cape Hatteras was not in my cards this go around. What a wild good chase!

(Ok, now unfold that NC map.)

I left from Nags Head and drove through Manns Harbor to Stumpy Point Bay to catch the ferry I’d been advised to try. (For all of you who are not familiar, normal practice to get to Hatteras is to simply drive from Nags Head on route 12. That route is currently closed, so the reason this fun debacle began.) I was met by a police officer in Stumpy Point Bay next to a “road closed” sign. The officer broke the news that only locals and supplies could be sent on that ferry. He advised me to go to Swan Quarter, so back up the road I went to Manns Harbor, then to Columbia. I headed south from Columbia, through the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge to Fairfield:

Fairfield, NC

…then into Swan Quarter:

Swan Quarter, NC

Loaned BLR-Mobile at Swan Quarter Ferry sign, NC

…where I pulled over to park and learn after all that calling, asking, and driving, my plan was not going to work:

Swan Quarter, NC Ferry coming in

The good thing is, met and ended up spending the next 2 hours with incredibly warm and funny Swan Quarter Ferry staff:

Mitchell, Wayne, and Glenda fed me coffee, encouraged me to sit and stay as long as I wanted, gave me a desk so I could charge my camera battery (no WIFI at that little building) and treated me like I was part of the family. From my videos it’s plain to see that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these fine folks. Here I am with Ferry Station Manager Mitchell:

Diane Peacock and Ferry Manager Mitchell: Swan Quarter NC

What a trip it was to hang out with these people, what a run around, and what a bummer in the end that I wasn’t able to make it to Cape Hatteras. Then again, it’s the journey- not the destination, right?

A huge thanks to All the staff at Swan Quarter Ferry. I am so coming back to see you all!

North I headed, deciding to take back roads on my way to I-95. (Why not keep going with the theme of the day right?) I passed cotton fields:

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid on back road in NC

On back roads in NC

…and roads that really felt like they just my stop at the end of the earth, so I thought it was funny that I passed this sign:

On back roads in NC

By the time I reached VA, I needed a big ol’ shower and sleep and that’s just what I did.

Now? Off to Philly with my gifted tickets to the Honda Civic Tour concert this weekend (Thanks Honda!)- and to wrap up the last couple days of this trip.

Making it to all three of the top voted spots from the Honda Facebook page? Sigh. Well, I made it to Kitty Hawk, tried very hard but obviously didn’t quite make it to Cape Hatteras, but I’m determined to make it to the top-voted Statue of Liberty before returning my awesome loaned Civic Hybrid on Monday, so stay tuned!

Here’s to being reminded we it’s impossible to compete with Mother Natures plan, expecting the unexpected, and getting a big fat “E” for effort!

***Total miles driven today, day 14: 244

***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,329

***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 21.

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