Guys, he just invited them along on our mini spring break trip. We’re stuck in the middle of a crazy midwest winter, so we’ve been discussing a long weekend somewhere warm and new and easily accessible given our central location in St. Louis (think: Dallas, New Orleans, Phoenix, Santa Fe…)
But we are both beach people, and it only took one mention of palm trees and warm sands for us to agree we’d love a beach trip if we could swing one. This led to me suggesting places like the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, and him to look into Bermuda–a locale where he made many a happy childhood memory.
A quick Google search showed reasonable prices–too reasonable. He HAD to call his parents to find out if the places they’d splurge on might have gone downhill. One conversation with his father later, and I’m pretty sure we’re all going to do a long weekend in Bermuda in March to take advantage of the great off-season pricing.
To reiterate: my husband just invited his parents on our romantic getaway. Fortunately for him (and my sanity) I think it’s absolutely adorable that he and his dad are such good buddies they discussed a whole fun adventure before remembering that their wives might want to tag along.
From the opening page, Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey is such a delight. The prose is fast-paced, the banter witty, the characters immediately enjoyable. I haven’t figured out why, but I’ve already mentioned how much I love chapter titles that tell me what will happen in a clever way that follows “In which…”
This book is chock full of just such chapters.
As for plot, I’d say it’s somewhere along the lines of Pride and Prejudice meets any spy thriller ever. Juliana is a scientist on her way to London for the Season when she is saved from a mishap by a mysterious, handsome gentleman. Neither of them is interested in marriage, but both have their reasons for attending the various outings and events of the Season.
Despite the fact that there are enemy spies and sinister dealings, the book remains lighthearted. I devoured it in about two days. The story is engaging enough to keep the reader turning page after page to see what happens next, yet easy to set aside when life demands it. Still, it’s easy to dive right back in the next chance you get.
This is the perfect vacation read. Whether you’ve got a late-season beach trip, family reunions, or maybe a honeymoon (*eyebrow raise/wink-wink* Erin), I’d highly recommend such a delightful, easy read!
I mentioned in an earlier post that we’d planned to fly out to California recently, but that trip was canceled. To make the most of my time off from work, my husband and I decided to cross off one of the “long weekend” trips we’ve been wanting to take. We hit the road and traveled across the state to beautiful Kansas City.
On the way, we stopped for coffee in Columbia, MO (home of Mizzou). We only took a quick walk around the block, but we loved the “college town” vibe — great looking restaurants and bars — and the architecture is par for the course in Missouri. Beautiful old brick buildings and interesting monuments everywhere you look.
Our first stop upon arriving to KC was the River Market. Despite the name, we could not find a way to access the river on foot — much to my husband’s dismay. However, we did have amazing lunch at Bite (I had the Sloppy which was a soy chorizo sandwich and probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten). The market itself is really cute, with lots of local shops and a huge pavilion for their famers’ market. They also have a river boat museum with a giant river boat wheel churning through water — we power-walked past in our search of the restrooms.
A trip to Kansas City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Power and Lights District. I’m pretty sure that should include the words “at night,” but even during the day we grabbed a drink and enjoyed outdoor day-drinking (one of my favorite activities) in the courtyard of Kansas City Live. I’m sure that area is bumpin’ at night, and we definitely want to check it out with a group of friends sometime in the future. For this trip, we were satisfied with the epically large cups of beer and a little sun on our faces.
We spent the night in Westport, which is my favorite of the areas we saw. It reminded me a lot of the Columbia Pike area we used to live in back near DC. Every block had several bar and restaurant options, and almost all of them seemed to have some form of outdoor seating (the biggest thing I’m missing living in St. Louis: rooftop bars!). Our dinner was — of course — barbecue. Char Bar had some of the best pulled pork butt, and our waiter was hilarious. After dinner, we went out to their beergarden to enjoy the firepit. Then we wandered down the street to Julep, a cocktail bar with delicious, imaginative drinks and one of those shelves with a sliding ladder (like the one Belle uses toward the beginning of Beauty and the Beast. A fact I pointed out to my husband at least twice while we were there).
Westport also boasts a lot of coffee options, but what wowed us was the tea. Tea Drops is a cute little tea shop (soon to be restaurant as well!) with walls lined with tea canisters for customers to smell and pick their preferred brew. The owner is extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. He answered my husband’s questions about Mate and got him to try a cup — which he loved! He also gave us a lot of advice about places to visit and things to do in the area.
One of his suggestions was the Plaza district, which we’d already planned to visit but it’s always nice hearing a local confirm. This is where the major shopping is done. It felt like King Street in Charleston, SC — but so much more. The buildings are all the southwestern, mission-style, and they seem to have every upscale shop imaginable.
Because we were so close, we decided to cross the border into Kansas and check out Lawrence (home of KU). Similar to Columbia, it is a really cute college town with some awesome-looking food and drink options. We hit the Burger Stand for lunch, and even though it’s Yelp-famous for its burgers, we each tried a vegetarian option. My husband got the black bean burger, while I tried the Garbo (chickpea patty with citrus-garlic aoli, sweet relish, and cheese). Oh em gee was it mouthwateringly good. I also had the Free State Marchtoberfest beer, which was pretty tasty.
Maybe I put too much emphasis on food when I travel, but I always judge a trip a success if I ate well. Safe to say, this trip was hugely successful.
This year my friends decided to switch up our normal Nagshead beach trip and travel an extra few hours south to Charleston, SC. It was a week-long adventure of discovering new places, seeing beautiful architecture, eating amazing food, and spreading germs between fourteen people and two apartments.
Our car — affectionately and not at all competitively referred to (by us) as the “best” car — carried four people and one massive cold virus. The trip began with an immediate stop for cough drops and ended with none of the other three passengers feeling sick, so we didn’t think too much of it beyond hoping our friend felt better.
Until another wildcard fell ill. Then another. Then another. Every day it seemed a new person woke up feeling crappy. Still, those of us from the best car didn’t feel it. We were invincible. We were immune to what became known — affectionately — as the Tyler Plague.
We went to the beach — both Folly and Sullivan’s Island. We went out to bars every night (even if a lot of those nights we still made it home before midnight and in bed shortly thereafter — when did we become grownups?). We wandered through neighborhoods of houses from the 16- and 1700s. My husband convinced almost everyone to try our favorite burrito spot (Minero) at least twice. (Side note: I’d previously had the best burrito of my life here. This trip, the catfish taco blew me away.) He also had avocado toast at a restaurant near our airbnb (Park Cafe) for the first time…and every day of our trip. By the last day, they knew him there.
Some wildcards went golfing. Some did stand-up paddle-boarding. Some did an escape room. Some went on a ghost tour that turned out to just be a walking history tour about brothels, murder, and conspiracy theories (which is way better in my — slightly terrified of ghosts — opinion). We played our usual drinking games without our usual, youthful enthusiasm, and spent a lot more time just hanging out and chatting.
It was a wonderful trip, even if I personally missed having a pool to lounge around beside. We reflected on how far we’ve come, how grown up we’ve all gotten, and looked forward to future trips and more changes as life spurs us onward.
The magic faded on the drive home. Two passengers were coughing instead of just the original one. We all insisted it was tickles in throats or residual from A/C and late nights and drinking and whatever else we could think of.
Then the Tyler Plague hit my home. My husband got it first, but I was (am) only about a day behind him. Now, we’re shuffling around the apartment, thankful that — due to our upcoming move I still have yet to blog about in detail — we no longer have work to suffer through or obligations that can’t be pushed back a day. Our coffee table is a mess of Dayquil and cough drop bags and tissue boxes. We’re drinking tea all day (echinacea and ginger and lemon and “cold 911” from David’s Teas on repeat). Our pantry is stocked with chicken soup. We’re going to crush this thing.
Our lack of complete immunity is a somewhat humbling blow. Still, it’s a worthwhile price to pay for a week with the Wildcards.
This is the mantra of my week. Because this weekend, you guessed it, I’m going to the beach.
It’s the annual Wildcards Beach Trip, so the Outer Banks better beware. We’ve spent our time making so many plans that will likely not come to fruition (no matter how awesome “Pickle Back Monday”* sounds) and just repeating “beach” to each other over and over that I am like a child in her last week of school. Who cares about anything at all? THE BEACH IS NEXT WEEK!
Last year, due to so many of us getting hitched and having our own private beach vacations (aka honeymoons), we did not do a beach trip. You can bet this year we will be sure to make up for that fact.
We’ve tried to learn from past “mistakes” (but really, none of our ideas are bad ideas), and attempted to make a grocery list for when we arrive. The normal behavior is a large group of us to rush into the store, grab a cart, panic and just grab everything we see. We all like sandwiches, so we each get a loaf of bread. We all buy our own gallons of milk. We make fun of the one person who always buys donuts, and then we all eat them all week. Inevitably, there are one or two of us who fill their carts with cases of beer, and the ladies in the group insist it’s too much and the men insist it’s not enough and then make it their goal to prove themselves right (we always end up needing more beer. Because we’re garbage).
Our first Wildcards beach trip occurred over spring break our senior year of college. It was amazing. The house had an elevator. For that reason alone, it was the best house. Even when the hot tub stopped working, our guys just carried boiling water in pots down from the kitchen on the top floor to dump into it.
There was a room just for video games. There was a nice long table in the dining area for a vicious game of Peanuts (the last time this group ever played due to “cheating” — does it count as cheating if you announce you’re doing so? — and over-competitiveness) and for extensive puzzle-making.
And, I mean, it had a bench by the pool table which was clearly for liquor storage.
Another important factor, our self-designated (and uncontested) group-mother laid out an organized chart of which pairs and trios were in charge of dinner each night. Of course, we made it a competition (how else would we live our lives?), which resulted in pretty amazing food each night (except the night the grill-masters under-cooked some of the burgers, but to be fair, I think we were pretty impatient. Alcohol kills bacteria, anyway, right? WRONG).
Since that trip, others have taken turns being the ringleader of the trip (i.e. facilitating the discussion of dates, choosing the house, determining how to charge everyone for the nights they are staying, etc). These trips have been awesome — because, Wildcards — but also extremely disorganized by comparison. (Group-Mom is so organized there’s no hope of anyone coming close).
Whether this trip will be as organized as spring break or as chaotic as is typical of the Wildcards, it’s going to be fan-freaking-tastic. We’ll eat pounds of mac ‘n’ cheese and shout “VACATION!” to justify it. We’ll make classy cocktails and wash them down with cheap beer and drinking games. We’ll lay in the sun and play bocce ball in the sand and throw a football in the waves.
A few of the guys will likely try to dig a hole to China because that’s apparently still a thing kids do. We’ll talk trash and have life chats, and for one week, nothing else will matter.