Archive for coffee

Getting away….

Posted in motivation, photos, random, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2015 by afuntanilla

My desire to go to Boulder was born out of hearing numerous times over the years how cool of a city it is. Recently, it became more desirable as i follow some people on social media who live there and their photos of the mountains have been utterly ridiculous and i became hooked! Bought a ticket, packed a bag & went to see for myself! I needed a break from everyday life as I know it, and I yearned to be in some open spaces, but not remote.

What did I want to do while I was there? Hike, scramble on some mountains, run, find cool spots for coffee, food. That’s about it. Mostly, I wanted to be active and explore and I’m happy to say, mission accomplished!

The weather was cool the entire trip and mostly overcast with the most random drizzle falling. But mostly, just gray skies. The sun shone itself only 1 day during the trip. If there was any bummer, this was it.

For my 1st day after arriving and making the drive from Denver to Boulder, I found an easy trail to hike/walk/run. It was the South Mesa Trail on the south side of town. I saw only a few other folks out there and enjoyed the quiet. From the start, just lots of dry grass and shrubbery, and as I climbed in elevation, lots and lots of medium sized pine trees. The trail went from wide, loose gravel to narrow and very, very rocky. Lots of offshoot trails from the main one, but I stuck to just the one as I didn’t want to get lost on my 1st day. I took my time and walked/hiked the way out and pretty much ran the route back to the trailhead. On the way, I noticed this beautiful field of dry grass that was a very cool grapefruit color. The lovely quiet and the softest breeze swept thru the grapefruit leaves…

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Was about 1,000ft elevation change total. 5 miles.

Next day, I found the path to what the call is Golden Arch. This is in Chautauqua Park (also home to the Flatirons). It was a Friday and the trailhead was super busy and i could see lots of people on the trail. Came to learn it was parent’s weekend at Univ of Colorado so lots of people out and about.

With gray skies surrounding me, I headed up to find the Golden Arch. As I climbed higher and higher, I did notice the effects of the altitude, but nothing that felt limiting. Trail begins with a significant view of the mountains ahead and after the 1st mile, trail narrows and becomes more tree hidden and less populated. And more rocky. And then very rocky. Did I say rocky? It’s a full on climb up; maneuvering the changing trail conditions, making sure you’re on the right trail and watching your steps very carefully. FUN. & INVIGORATING. As much as I was breathing hard, I was smiling a bunch, too. With the overcast and grayness, it didn’t make for very “picturesque” photos, but the scenery still looked magnificent thru my eyes.

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Finally reached the Golden Arch peak at just under 7000ft elevation (from sea level). All in all, the hike was only 3.6 miles but with 1,679ft elevation change! Worth every step.

Getting up to the arch

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After arrival, I sat atop of the boulders and marveled at the beauty & stillness surrounding me. My breathing slowed and it was as though a hush fell upon the few of us there at the time…a collective knowing of sacredness and appreciation when you see it. We were essentially bowing down to nature, were we not?

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I took a break from hiking the next day and just tripped around Boulder and surrounding areas. I actually did not stay in Boulder, but in a smaller town just south, called Louisville (the S is pronounced!) A combo town of suburbia and quaint, artsy, cozy downtown area. Of course, I found the perfect place for coffee! Super small place in Louisville that’s only been open 6 months called Precision Pours. Cozy, simplistic, minimalistic…just what i like! Oh, and good coffee and a super cool owner, Brice!

A pourover of Brazil. Yummy

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Did a short 3 mile run later in the day and could feel the effects of both altitude & the previous 2 days of hiking.

Next day was the one and only day i saw the sun. Wanted to hit the Flatirons so that’s exactly what I did. The trail beginning is the same as it is to get to the Golden Arch. After the 1st mile, the Flatiron trails are in a different direction. A lot of the same type of terrain as it was to get to golden arch…it felt longer, but was actually shorter distance. Still, a decent amount of climbing for the distance. 1,394 ft over 2.7 miles. Got into a nice rhythm of following this one fella and letting him lead the way cuz some points are so full of rocks that you cannot gauge what is actually the trail. The best part was literally climbing/scrambling up some big boulders to get up and over particular areas. I noticed as I moving higher and higher that I was smiling outside and inside…how happy i was, how invigorated i felt and how i just kept wanting to keep going up and up. A fun, cool feeling!

From the Flatirons…

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It’s amazing how focused one has to be on trails like this where it is so thoroughly rocky. It’s true meditation…a total zone….beautiful. I was focused on getting to the top, but at the same time mindful of each step, the sound of my breathing, the amazing beauty surrounding me. The senses sharpened! Aware of my legs/quads….the muscles working in tandem with the rest of my body to propel me up, forward; aware of my heart rate climbing…climbing…sensing the sweat gathering on my brow and back. Life happening…there on the flatirons. Finally arriving at the top, empty water bottle in hand and plopping myself down on a rock and just looking out….noticing everything and hearing nothing…the quiet. Ahhhhh….

Last day: coffee and writing & Precision Pours, haircut by an awesome gal and went for a flat, fast 3miler thru downtown Louisville. Zoom to airport.

I try to make it a point to start my day with a gratitude list of about 5 things/people. Health is always #1 on my list. For me, it’s so important to be healthy….i want to nourish my body, treat it well…so i can continue to do things like this…I am aware of so many who have serious physical limitations and complications and i’m just so thankful to be in a position of good health. I don’t ever want to take it for granted.

I needed this trip. To get away from my usual surroundings, to be away from work and my office, while at the same time remaining thankful i have a job and a lot of flexibility with my work. I needed some different space, some elevation change, some different perspective. Appreciative of the opportunity and for meeting some neat people.

May your journey be filled with light, joy, fun, and challenge. Go get it!

P.S. I wore my Hoka Stinson ATR’s on the hikes. Perfect.

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Portland Day 1

Posted in photos, running, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by afuntanilla

Arrived in a gray, wet Portland after starting my day at 4:00am. Only one hour earlier than my usual beginning, and soon enough, I was moving fast to get myself out the door and down to SFO. Small plane, short flight and 2 empty seats next to me made for a very pleasant morning travel experience. I only have a few essential belongings with me, snugly packed into my Marmot Kompressor Plus pack. I love the traveling lite, don’t need any unnecessary items weighing me down. I love that my life is in the pack. I strap it on and off I go. Simplicity. Gratitude.
Opted to not use the services of a car rental agency as I heard from multiple sources that Portland has a very good transportation system. So far, that advice has proved correct as I have been able to get wherever I need to by foot or by the local rail system. With only a half cup of coffee and a banana in me so far, I was energetic and ready to go explore. I rode the rail from airport into downtown and then transferred to a different line to head in the direction of a cafe that was recommended to me. Fortunately, I exited a few stops too soon and ended up walking through a cool neighborhood called The Pearl District. Lots of galleries, eateries, etc…Lovejoys Bakery was recommended and it did not disappoint. I opted for a breakfast sandwich; fried egg, blue cheese, tarragon, bacon, frisée on a ciabatta roll.

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Um…YUM! I had to resist the many other tasty items from the bakery, such as the scones, cookies, etc…my day was only just beginning and I wanted to keep exploring. Walking around, the streets were a bit quiet, still a little wet from some early rain, but the air smelled good and fresh and the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds. I was delighted to be spending my Friday morning tripping around a new city in my jeans, sneakers and feeling free. I love my job, get a great deal of satisfaction from it, (but, it’s always nice to take a break) and I truly appreciate that I am afforded the means and flexibility to take a short trip as this….

Sauntered into a gallery that showcased some abstract paintings in the window. Inside, it was actually a 3 part gallery; part paintings, blown glass, wall hangings, sculptures, and lots of other cool creative art. I become mesmerized when looking at abstract paintings….they are my favorite and one of my secret or now not so secret goals is to have some kind of space to see what I can create in this fashion. Need everything; space, paint, canvasses, etc…and I know, just like everything else, when I become committed enough, I can and will make this happen.

Making my way back towards the hotel, I also needed to go to the Apple store because once again, I forgot my outlet charger! Grrrr
Oh well- I also needed some new headphones cuz one of the earbuds had lost sound. So, found the store near my hotel and got what I needed. Talking to the guy who helped me, told him I was here to run the race on Sunday. He says, “I am too. Half the store is…it’s a big race, like 30,000 people.” Whoa! Had no idea there was gonna be THAT many! (Btw, once I dug around in my bag, I found my phone outlet charger…so now I have 3! )
Checked into my hotel and just chilled out for a bit. Great corner room on a top floor with a nice view.

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Later in the day, I took the train over to the convention center/expo to pick up my race bib #, t-shirt and peruse. I had also pre-ordered another race shirt they had for sale so I picked that up too. I love both my shirts! I can’t recall the last time I loved an actual race shirt….but I love this one and the one I purchased!

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Afterwards, I walked about 1 mile to a coffeeshop I had wanted to visit: Coava Coffee! It did not disappoint. They are located on the east side in a quieter area and the place is very industrial: huge tall ceilings, very open space, limited seating and a nice, chill vibe. The rear of the space was occupied by a guy who does woodworking and some pieces were on display for sale. The whole place oozed art and creative expression. And, my cappuccino was excellent.

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Later in the day, I was back on the west side and went into Powell’s Bookstore. Pretty overwhelming for the mood I was in, so I just picked up a few cards and left. Need to go back…
Next, dinner!
I got a recommendation to try Tasty & Alder, and once I looked inside I knew I’d like it. Dark wood colors, cool bar area, semi open kitchen. And BUSY by 6pm. I waited for 45 minutes just to sit and eat at the bar area. Well worth the wait. Service was very good, from the hostess to the wait staff. It was loud and bustling, but I didn’t mind as I loved feeling the energy all around. Directly in front of me were two of the cooks, moving fast and doing their art! The happenings of a kitchen….the rapid movements, the individual touches and signatures….love it.
I ordered my customary cosmopolitan, and to eat, 2 Alaskan Cod tacos with Fresno aioli and escabeche. Yum, yum, yum. Also, a side of grilled broccolini with grated Parmesan on top. More yum. A delicious and fulfilling meal.

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After dinner, I made a spontaneous decision to attend a play on the east side. I had seen a flyer for it earlier when I was tripping in and out of some stores. The play was called “Independent Women”. I hadn’t seen a community play in about 20 years so it was nice to be back in that kind of creative space and atmosphere. The cast was 7 women and it was part dialogue, part singing, part performance art. All very cool, interesting and poignant. All subject matter touched on what it means to be a woman and the types of messages we receive, how they have changed and not changed over the years. They did a very powerful segment on their bodies. Our bodies. Women’s bodies. I just want to say this to any woman who might read this; you are more than ok. Just as you are. You don’t need to be prettier, thinner, fatter, taller, lighter, happier, more serious, married, coupled, with child, not with child, straight, gay, whatever….you don’t need to be a stay at home mom and you don’t have to work 60 hours a week. You don’t need to be anything more than who you are at your core. And, you CAN do, be and create anything that YOU want.
If you want to be tattooed from head to toe and sell flowers on a corner, go for it. If you want to be a lead prosecuting attorney in New York, go for it. Just don’t settle. Ever.
Took a taxi over the xxx bridge, looking out into a beautiful Portland skyline and called it a night.

Day 1: most complete.

A friday tale

Posted in random with tags , , , on February 21, 2014 by afuntanilla

If you know me, then you KNOW how much I love coffee. Not just the drink, but the entire experience of it. It’s  never just coffee. A few months ago, I heard a phrase by one of the co-owners of Equator Coffee. She said, “Coffee is a connector”. And it’s true. It is.

Here’s one such story from today. For much of the past 2 years, I go to Peets Coffee every morning for a small cup on the way to work. During this course of time, I usually arrived there at about 630am. When I arrived around that time, I would see 2 women who were there together. I would either see them in line, at the “condiment” area fixing their coffee or sitting, talking, enjoying their morning sips. By their attire, I surmised they had come to Peets after their gym workout, since the gym is across the street. They look the same every day…in post workout clothes. I am guessing they are in their late 50’s and I was just sort of curious about them. One day, I struck up a brief conversation while we were in line. They told me they go to the gym every day together and going to Peets afterwards is their “treat.” They meet each other at the gym and the morning is theirs to hang out. I applauded them for getting up so early every day to go work out! I think they meet at 5-530 at the gym! 2 friends with a routine. I liked it. They asked about me….always on my way to work.

So, after that conversation, when we would see each, we would always wave or smile. We had connected. One day last fall, they were in line in front of me and as they approached the counter to order, I went with them and told the barista I would like to buy their coffee. They were happily shocked and thanked me. Warmth all around. I just wanted to. We connected more. A bit more conversation.

Well, since the beginning of January, I no longer arrive at Peets around 630am. I arrive earlier now, around 530am. So, I miss them. My 2 steady acquaintances…I no longer see them out and about doing their thing….I noticed that I missed them both literally and figuratively.

Well, this morning for the first time all year, I decided to sleep in an hour and thus, I arrived at Peets around 630am. And, there they were at the condiment area fixing their morning brew. I opened the door and smiles and waves all around. Nice.

I got in line to order. I was a few people back when I saw one of the ladies approach the front counter and have a quiet, brief conversation with the barista. Strange, I thought….i wonder what she is saying…maybe telling them they need more Half-n-Half….

So, I’m now at the counter ready to order my small coffee and oatmeal and the barista rings up the order and tell me the amount. Then, she corrects herself and says, “oh, wait…that’s not correct, those ladies are paying for your coffee..”

Coffee…the great connector.

Running for Coffee and Fun

Posted in motivation, photos, random, road, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by afuntanilla

Yesterday I made a spontaneous trip down to Santa Cruz. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from where I live. I just wanted to get out of town and go somewhere fun. I needed to get away but I didn’t know how much until I actually arrived. I arrived, checked into hotel, changed into my running clothes and hit the road for a quick 3 mile jaunt to explore and kinda get my bearings. It was a beautiful late afternoon, just a hint of cool temperatures. I ran through the cute, packed in downtown, saw the coffee shop i wanted to visit (VERVE COFFEE) and just made a loop back to hotel. Felt great to move my body. I’m SLOWLY getting back into running….and being ok with that…

I felt myself excited and awakened by the new sights all around me. My senses were awakened. On alert. I wanted to take it all in. I love how a new place has this effect. I had been to Santa Cruz many times in the past….but i’m talking about 25 years ago….

After run, made my way back downtown to visit Verve and find dinner. If you don’t know, I’m a big coffee fan and love finding new good coffee and coffee shops. Verve did not disappoint! I went to 1 of their 3 Santa Cruz locations. Its located downtown on the main street, Pacific. The shop was spacious, tall ceilings and a large area for the baristas to do their thing! A decent sized crowd were sitting and doing THEIR thing. I ordered a Cappuccino and passed on the yummy looking Chocolate Chip Cookie. While my drink was bring crafted, I nosed around in the shop…looking at their beans, mugs, apparel (yes!) and other logo items. I knew i would spend more than a few bucks in this place! I picked up my splendid cappuccino and took a seat at the bar area that allowed me to watch the baristas. Love that! The VIBE in this place was a huge plus. Young, cute,  friendly staff. All of them. Welcoming!  Image

I also ended up chatting w/ a gal who works there and she gave me a recommendation for dinner. I asked for “someplace casual with a TV to watch sports”. She directed me to SurfRider Cafe about 1/2 mile away. It was pretty packed but I got a seat at the bar immediately. Ordered a house-made Veggie burger w/ sweet potato fries and an ale called Dragon’s Breath. All very good! And again, loved the vibe in THIS place. Young, casual crowd. Very good and pleasant service. I think the VIBE i am speaking about is just very much Santa Cruz. Always been a very casual, independent, liberal place. Love that!

Saturday morning got up and went back to Verve for morning coffee. using my iPad, i found one of their other locations about 2 miles away and figured that would be a fun out and back route. So, off i went. There’s a river that runs thru town, The San Lorenzo River, and the route carried me on a path next to the river. Mostly flat, with just a little bit of incline. Gorgeous day outside. I could see the Boardwalk Rides off in the distance. And the Pacific Ocean. AHHHHH — Soon enough the short 3.6 mile run was over and again, i felt like i couldn’t run much more. for now!!

Got breakfast, walked around a bit, got cleaned up and headed to the Boardwalk. I went straight to the arcade and played my old favorite video games; Ms Pac Man & Centipede. Fun! I could’ve played longer, but had only a short time to get a few rides in and head back home. I chose 2 rides; Double Shot – which is just a straight ride up 125 ft. Super fast up and super fast down. a few times. I was facing the ocean and of course, great views. I was screaming and laughing the entire time. Other ride was the classic Giant Dipper roller coaster. More laughing the entire time. I love rides…i love the feeling of being locked in but totally out of control. SOOOO FUN. I really needed it.

This morning (Sunday) I drove just a short distance over to Mill Valley to hit some trails I had yet visited. These were right off of Tennessee Valley Road. I really had no idea where I was going, but i thought it would be easy to get back to the starting point, and it was. I ran, hiked up and came to some amazing views of the bay! Picture does not justice. Image

The trail up was mostly single track with hard packed dirt. I could’ve worn regular road shoes but I had my adidas trail shoes on. Came to some fire roads also. A hefty climb, especially given my current level of fitness..but i sure loved being out there!

So…I am making progress with getting back to being as fit as i want to be. Here’s a snapshot of what i’ve done lately.

Feb 10: 6 mile trail run; Elevation gain 1,179 (highest elevation gain since last August!)

Feb 9: 3.6 mile road run

Feb 8: 3 mile road run

Feb 7: core workout @ home

Feb 5:  3 mile treadmill run

Feb 2: 4.25 mile trail run; Elevation gain 635 (makes me realize how this is really nothing compared to what i can do in muir woods)

Feb 1: 3 mile road run

So as you can see, February is off to a much better start than January. Thank God for HEALTH! I still have not picked any races. Basically, I’m just trying to get a base level of fitness back and go from there. I saw a lot of folks on the trails today and that also gave me a boost!

Also, these are the newest add to my collection:

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Brooks Pure Connect. These are one of the minimalist shoes. Not the least MINIMAL, but mid range minimal. So far, so good. I like the feel..like they hug your feet. Good traction even on the trail I used them for last weekend. Got ’em at a new specialty running store: San Francisco Running Company located in Mill Valley. If you are in the area, go pay them a visit. Good guys running the show!

Week 8 Run Report

Posted in motivation, road with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2012 by afuntanilla

I spoke a little too soon last week. I ended up being not entirely better. ugh. damn lingering sickness.

Week 8 started off with a tougher than expected 4.25 mile run in and around downtown Mill Valley. I wanted to get out of Petaluma for a bit and so I went down south about 40 minutes away. I love the scenery of Mill Valley; the towering redwood, eucalyptus tress lining the streets, shielding me from the sun. Love just running there and taking deep breaths, taking it all in. AHHHH….
Unfortunately, I did not stay long afterwards. I drove around in some of the neighborhoods for a few minutes, but then quickly left. I toyed around with the idea at getting lunch at the Bookstore Depot Cafe, but after standing in line for a bit, I just left. Why? Because as awesome and aesthetically pleasing is Mill Valley, visiting there just feels off. It’s such a little tucked away nest, a beautiful little oasis, and the PEOPLE there have an aura of supremacy and protectionism. They behave as though they KNOW you are a visitor and the energy is not friendly and welcoming. So, yes, it’s pretty snobby and of course, i cannot stand it. I feel like it has gotten much worse over the years. Even going into the Peets Coffee there feels like I am going into sacred territory that is only designed for the residents of M.V. Ugh. Not a good feeling. I know I am not alone in my feelings and descriptions as I have spoken to friends about their experiences as well and they have similar stories….Oh well….Moving on…
At least I got a good run in. 🙂

I was not so fortunate the next few days. Monday evening, I started feeling achy and tired and basically didn’t do much for the next few days. I DID go into San Rafael and sign an offer letter for a new job, but that was the extent of my outings mid week. I’m excited about new job, but I’m still awaiting results of the background check before I am officially “in”. So, as of right now, Monday 10:45am, I am not yet official and I don’t have a start date. There should be no reason for me to NOT pass the background check, but I still must be patient and go thru the process.
Friday I took a stab at running again and just do a quick 30 min run. I could feel I was not 100%, but it also felt great to move my body.
Saturday, I went on a long walk with my friend, Holly. We walked about 1.5 hours from her house, into downtown, and back again. Approx 5 miles. Again, felt great to MOVE my body. Didn’t do much for rest of day. Took advantage of some alone time and did an lot of reading.
Saturday night I went to sleep with the full intention of going for a longer run in the morning. Waking up, I was thankful to be feeling much better. I went downtown to Peets and came back to the house and read, spent some morning quiet time. Ate 2 small/mini Clif Bars and was soon on my way. Wandered all around downtown Petaluma and beyond on a beautiful, quiet Sunday and ended up running 7.6 miles. Very, very satisfied with this run! Looked back at my running journal and realize I had not run over 7 miles since last (early) October. I think I am ready to RAMP IT UP!

After running & grabbing a snack, I went to play TENNIS!! First time in about 7 years and I’ve only played about 10 times total. Went with Sharon, who plays regularly, and we played for about 1.5 hours. Felt awesome, even though I am not a very good player. YET! Gonna work on it and have fun! 🙂

Week 8: Total approx miles: 15

Going without this and that…

Posted in random with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by afuntanilla

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you will know that I frequently go through periods of giving things up for a certain amount of time. Most of the time, it has something to do with food or drink or both. Well, sometime in the recent past, I came along a blog where the woman gave up something each month of 2011 and I thought that was a neat idea. I’ve adopted it for 2012. The idea behind it is to pick something more difficult each month.

I like the idea of “going without or being without” for a period of time. I like the idea of changing my patterns and getting away from filling my immediate wants and/or needs. Invariably, the going without will render a good learning or two…if one is to pay attention.

What have I done so far?

Well, for JANUARY 2012, I gave up eating bagels. I am generally not a huge bagel eater, but during the month of December, I found myself eating about 4 a week. Always with Peanut Butter. Why? Cause it was 1) damn good 2) convenient to work 3) warm, yummy food in the cold winter mornings of Atlanta

The first few days of January were tough…getting used to NOT having the Bagel be an option. Most of the month my breakfast food consisted of yogurt and granola. I was glad to get away from the heaviness of the processed bagel. And happy to have a new replacement in some yummy greek Chobani yogurt. I tried for the first time in October at a friends place and loved it! All natural, non-fat and has 16g of protein per serving. I love mixing this with granola from 1) Alon’s Bakery in Atlanta or 2) Blue Bottle Coffee in SF. Blue Bottle makes some of the best granola I have ever tasted.

On the days, I didn’t have granola/yogurt, I opted for a banana and some raw almonds. By mid month, my bagel cravings and thoughts had vanished! In fact, I have not had a bagel since. Just haven’t had the craving or desire.

FEBRUARY 2012 — I chose to go without CAPPUCCINOS for the month of February. Again, if you are a follower of this blog or follow me on twitter you will know I love a good cappuccino and have one in the afternoons about 5 days a week. I have regular coffee in the morning and usually a cappuccino in the afternoon. I like the afternoon boost, love the taste and delight in sitting at a cafe late in the day for a good cup. Even if I have to take it ‘to go’. I like the ritual. And, HOW can you NOT love it simply for aesthetic purposes?

We are now on Feb 20th…9 more days til I can have one again. I will say this: going without Cappuccinos has been more DIFFICULT than the bagels. Been having some serious cravings and came close to giving in last week in route to Lake Tahoe…but, I stuck with it. Doesn’t it matter more when you REALLY have the craving and RESIST? That’s the point!! So, what have I had in place of afternoon Cappuccinos? Coffee. Just regular coffee. I figure I am also saving at least $1.50 each time I have coffee instead of cappuccino. That’s at least a savings of $7.50 per week and $30 for the month. Hey, $30 bucks is $30 bucks. I’m saving money and going without one of my truly favorite things; one of my favorite delights.

I believe come March 1st, I will truly appreciate the Cappuccino back in my hand…

If you’d like to tag-along and give something up for March, let me know. We can be blog-supporters. I already know what I’m going without for March and it has nothing to do with food or drink. Stay Tuned.

Cheers!

On The Road

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by afuntanilla

I thought I would be supremely inspired to write now that I am on the road, but truth be told, I have not been inspired in the least! But, perhaps…that is where to begin. 

I left Atlanta this past Monday, Jan 23rd.  The “yellow brick road” was a very wet one. Rained for the first 2 hours until I hit Birmingham, AL. Afterwards, smooth sailing into my first destination, Oxford, MS. Notes about Oxford: a quaint, clean town. Home to University of Mississippi or more commonly known as OLE MISS. Lots of red brick buildings (typical of the south) and a cute “historic”downtown square. For you readers out there, William Faulkner made Oxford his home as did John Grisham for many years. Surprisingly, I did not find the locals there to be all that friendly. Strange, I thought. I did find a good bookstore and a place for breakfast. The breakfast place is called Bottletree Bakery! Wonderful granola! I did go for a run there, but will share about the running in my weekly recap. 

Next stop: Little Rock, AR

I departed Oxford and headed west, then northwest to Little Rock, AR, bypassing Memphis. I chose this more northerly route because all the other times (3) I have been across country, I have traveled thru Texas and wanted to see some other states this time. Unfortunately, there was not a lot to see on this drive to Arkansas. I pulled into Little Rock late in the day and actually just ate dinner at my hotel. I wish I had something more exciting to tell you, but I don’t. I’ve been staying at Holiday Inn Express Hotels and so far, all have been pretty good places to stay. You know I am a coffee snob, so I have not had too much of the hotel coffee and the next morning, I went in search of a coffee shop in little rock. I actually wanted to serif I could find alternate places to Starbucks. I tried. I found a place and ordered a regular coffee. I hate to say it, but I left and had to chuck the coffee…yikes. Ok…where is nearest Starbucks…

..I found it! Ok…onward to Oklahoma City! 

More rain greeted me on this third day of my journey. Rained a good bit, but pulled in OKC with blue skies and sunshine.  I easily found the main downtown area and more specifically, the basketball arena. I had considered going to the NBA game that night, but then decided against it when I could not find a hotel room anywhere nearby! Bummerstay had to stay on the outskirts of town and saw a Mexican place within walking distance. I thought maybe this place would have good food and margaritas, but no…damn! Well, at least the meal was cheap…I am without a job, you know! 

I ran the next morning and then took off for East New Mexico. I mean no offense to anyone who lives in either OKC or Little Rock, but as I spent just a little bit of time there, I found both places to be rather dreary and depressing. Perhaps, it is because of winter. All I can say is that being there made me appreciate where I have lived (Atlanta) and where I am headed to next (SF)

From OKC, I headed west and then Southwest and stayed in a very small town called Santa Rosa, NM. I could have gone longer, but I am trying not to drive more than 6-7 hours a day. Beyond that, it just isn’t too much fun! I got a recommendation for dinner and margaritas from the hotel front desk clerk. Both the food and margaritas were better than my previous 2, but still far from what I am accustomed to….I guess I am becoming a margarita snob in additon to a coffee snob. OK. I can probably live with that….

I love the SouthWest. When you drive across it, it’s hard not to just continuously drop your jaw in disbelief over the beauty of the landscape. And the quiet….ahhh, it’s so amazingly quiet. One of the things I have noticed since I have been traveling is how my mind has just been quieter and quiter….the inner noise is virtually non-existent. It’s as if the driving has been my traveling meditation. Wonderfully peaceful. 2 weeks ago, my head was filled with so much stress, noise, worry….and it has all but simply fallen away….no doubt some of it will come back, because actually a certain amount of stress is good, but it’s nice to have the quiet for now, both internally and externally. 

I left early the next morning and headed towards Flagstaff, with a brief stop in Albuquerque. I thought I might stop and stay in Santa Fe or Taos, but as I got closer and closer, I was just now drawn to do so….I think I just want to get “home”. I stopped for a cappuccino and a couple of grocery items in Albuquerque and then kept truckin’ on to Flagstaff, AZ. And that is where I currently am, Flagstaff. Cool little town in Northern Arizona! Decided to stay 2 nights. Ran this morning and will catch up on the running posts tomorrow. Hope to get another run in tomorrow morning before heading to Las Vegas!