Friday, December 21, 2012


I made my annual holiday trip to Pensacola to visit Brady and Jess, and we had a great time! We played, colored, and went on the holiday trolley at Winterfest. The perfect way to celebrate my favorite time of year :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Man Camp 2012

Shannon enjoyed a weekend man-camping (aka hiking in/out 20+ miles and camping in between) with friends along the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama. Photos are here and video of their 'camp site' is here.

Monday, October 1, 2012


A quick work trip - in Friday and out Saturday - with just enough time to pick up some garrett's and make it home in time to tailgate Sunday!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Canoeing the boundary waters between Minnesota and Ontario
For Shannon's big birthday (3-0), we planned a big trip!

We spent a few days canoeing and camping in the boundary waters area between Minnesota and Ontario.

We first read about the Boundary Waters in an article in Backpacker Magazine last spring that described the area as prime for viewing the northern lights, which peak this fall.  We were smitten. We put our trip on the calendar and patted ourselves on the back for the perfect destination for Shan's big birthday. Wilderness? Check. Canoeing? Check. Camping? Check. Wahoo.

Fast forward to last month when we realized we should probably start making some plans! We did some research and found a great outfitter, checked the weather (brrrrrr!), and subsequently did some last minute shopping for thermals, etc. and then we were on our way! 

Day 1: We  nonrevved from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Duluth, where we found the tiny airport hosting an airshow! We got a sneak peak and hit the road, passing beautiful Lake Superior on our way. We arrived in the lovely lakeside village of Grand Marais just in time for an amazing sunset dinner on the marina with delicious fresh fish, wild rice and chowder at the Angry Trout. That evening we settled into our bunkhouse and prepped for our canoeing and camping trip. 

Day 2: We awoke to freezing temps and as we took our last showers before entering the wilderness, our outfitter began to get a little nervous about how we would handle the weather and sleeping outdoors in said weather. I think my flip flops might have startled her? ;) After talking it out and assuring our very kind and knowledgeable hostess that we were up for it (read: couldn't wait to get out in it), we hit the road, er, lakes. The weather shifted just as we were putting our canoe in the water and we got the most wonderful burst of sunshine... which was almost immediately followed by alternating bursts of snow, hail, sleet and a few rays of sunshine in between.

Given our late start and the ever-changing weather, we cut our canoeing portion of the trip short and decided to set up camp early, which ended up being very wise of us as the sun set just as we finished setting up camp. We cooked a yummy dinner of chicken and potatoes (bonus: in freezing temps, you can pack SUCH yummy food - chicken, steak, eggs and cheeses... yummmmm). We snuggled up in our cozy tent for the night and enjoyed a decent night's sleep.

Day 3: We awoke to a beautiful day of sun and clouds, but no rain or snow or precipitation of any kind! We cooked a yummy breakfast and spent a leisurely morning around our little island camp site exploring what we didn't have the time/daylight to explore the night before. We got organized and got our water purification system down and then hit the water again, exploring nearby lakes and islands, hoping to spot a moose or two. We had lunch on the go and patted ourselves on the back once again for our excellent navigation and food preparation skills. Before long, it was time for another beautiful sunset back at our camp and another delicious dinner (this time steak and hashbrowns!). We slept even better the second night, Mary even famously getting too WARM. Ha!

Day 4: On our last day at camp, we plotted the course for our return trip over another fabulous breakfast and then set to work packing out our tent and supplies to make our way to the take-out point (which was different than the put-in point, but master navigators that we are, we found it no problem;).

After our first portage, it became painfully obvious that wind was going to be an implemented to our voyage 'home.'  Winds were gusting us head-on at 20+ mph and we found ourselves exhausted after crossing short distances that had been no problem on the way in with little to no wind, and none in our faces. A glance at the map confirmed that our course back meant facing lake after lake of gusts straight in our faces. We took our time and frequent breaks behind clumps of land and eventually made our way to the take-out point.

Once back at the bunkhouse, our trusty outfitter recommended just the place to celebrate our successful trip and after hot showers (the best ever!) we made the 18-mile drive to the Gunflint Lodge which overlooks Gunflint Lake, right on the Canadian border. We were greeted by the world's friendliest ducks, and a well-deserved hot and delicious meal. The perfect end to a fabulous trip!

Day 5: We woke up before the sun to make the 145 mile drive back to the airport in Duluth and made our connection in Minneapolis one-at-a-time, but made it back home in plenty of time to pick Riley up from her new friends' house in McDonough!

You can see photos from our adventure here. We'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Northern Minnesota was an absolutely gorgeous setting for an outdoor adventure! 

Monday, September 17, 2012


Celebrating the big 3-0 in the big easy!
Christine turned 30 this month, and to celebrate she invited her nearest and dearest to spend a three-day weekend in the big easy, in her honor, of course! 

New Orleans was delicious, as always, and us southerners enjoyed watching our new Bostonian friends squirm in the heat (note: all the southerners are wearing jeans in this 'fall weather' pic in NOLA;).

We had a great time eating our way through the city and celebrating our wonderful friend.

Monday, August 27, 2012

ATL from 14,000 feet!

To celebrate Shannon's 30th, the flying wheats took to the skies (naturally!), and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, 14,000 feet above the beautiful Georgian countryside.

And videos here (him) and here (her).

Enjoy. We sure did.Flying Wheats INDEED.

Next up on the big birthday agenda, a big birthday trip! Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Suited up and ready to learn! #DORK
I was in Dallas this week for a fabulous conference where I got to connect with friends and colleagues old and new, and of course spend time learning lots of fun new stuff for the association world in which I live and work.

Dallas was a wonderful host city, and they did a really great job with our convention and related events. I also got to hit up a few more restos on the ol' wishlist which is always a good time.

The opening event was at Cowboys stadium, and it was a total blast, even though I'm not a huge NFL fan. We got to see the locker rooms and party on the astroturf under the world's largest jumbotron, all while being surrounded by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and serenaded by Big & Rich. It was a good time.

The closer was at Fair Park, with Vanilla Ice performing live. Childhood dream, fulfilled. You can check out a quick video from my phone of Rob singing his hit song here.

A great meeting, great people, food and entertainment. Check, check, check. Thanks Dallas for a great time! Next summer, this meeting will be held in the ATL (which explains my t-shirt;) and we can't wait to return the favor!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012


I was in LA for my second year of institute and Shannon flew out Thursday to join me for the weekend. He's a west coaster at heart ;) With a weasel R/C plan in his carry-on, he came ready to play. Unfortunately, the weather Thursday - Sunday was a bit gloomy, but the afternoons turned out gorgeous. On Friday, we had brunch in Manhattan Beach and then drove into the city to check out the artists district. I loved seeing the LA River, and Shannon looked up the exact spot where the race scene from Grease was filmed, so that was cool to see. The whole district is a really neat up-and-coming area with lots of historic industrial buildings turned work-live lofts. We browsed around and then spent the afternoon relaxing before meeting up with friends for dinner in Venice. Saturday, we drove out to Malibu and had delicious breakfast burritos before heading to the beach. It was pretty chilly the first part of the day, and not very windy, but we did our best. Shannon flew a little, and I bundled up and enjoyed the show. We walked across Duke Point to the cove and the sun came out just long enough for us to lay out and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine. On the way back, there was plenty of wind so Shannon gave the weasel another go, and it was a great run. That night, we had date night in Venice at James' Beach, which was awesome.  Exhausted but happy, we headed back to the hot humid south.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Downtown Fort Worth

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


We've been planning to go to Italy for years, and we had this trip on the books almost a year in advance, but it still sort of snuck up on us. In the midst of every day life, with work and house and other travels, we realized a few months ago we'd better start planning. We roughed out an itinerary, and then scratched it at the last minute to pare down our trip to just 3 areas (read: just 3 hotels;) so we could actually RELAX on our 10-day vacation. We cut out the riviera and Rome, and decided to focus on 1) Venice; 2) Cinque Terre (with a side trip to Vignolo) and 3) Tuscany. We're so glad we did. We had the time of our lives on this trip. Every single minute was absolutely amazing. It's a beautiful country and everything and everyone we encountered was just wonderful.  

We left Atlanta on a direct flight on June 1 and were lucky enough to get first class on the way over - not too shabby. In between being pampered and fed, we chatted excitedly and tried to nap, and then before we knew it, we were there! Shannon was in charge of transportation, and did a great job getting us everywhere we needed to be. We took buses, trains, planes and automobiles - and of course our four feet - and we didn't get lost a single time. Amazing. Mary was in charge of hotels, and that worked out really well too. We were very fortunate this trip, and all 3 places we stayed were lovely. The full recap is below, videos are here and pictures are here.  Enjoy!

Rialto Bridge
Days 1-2 Venice
After a warm welcome to Venice by our hostess Enrica, we settled into our hotel and napped and rested for a few hours before hitting the streets, er, canals of Venice. Our afternoon stroll was an adventure, but we were well-rewarded with arancini, foccacia, and of course gelato! We wandered the romantic streets, bridges and canals for hours, and eventually found ourselves at the Rialto bridge. After crossing, we made our way to Piazza San Marco - the heart of Venice. We walked through an archway promising the piazza and walked out into the huge open square. There were people and pigeons EVERYWHERE. It was quite a scene. As we passed by the famous Caffe Florian, the band played 'Moon River' as we took in our gorgeous surroundings. Our eyes followed the perfect symmetry of the Procuratie Vecchie, which seemed to go on forever, leading up to the clock tower crowned by the moors, and of course the towering campanile, and finally - the crown jewel of the piazza- St. Mark's Basilica, gold and glittering and adorned with statuettes and bronzed figures from top to bottom. As we made our way to the Basilica, we were surrounded by crowds of tourists and pigeons. A popular photo opp in the piazza is to stand with arms spread and allow pigeons to roost on your outstretched arms. No thank you, signore.  As we stood in front of the Basilica, the Doge's Palace and the Piazzetta came into view on our right. Just past the Doge's Palace in all its coral and white glory, the piazzetta opened before us to a wide view of the lagoon, guarded by statues of St. Theodore and St. Mark (represented by the winged lion, the symbol of Venice) high atop their marble columns. Heading left at the promenade, we crossed an adjacent bridge crowded with tourists snapping photos of the Bridge of Sighs (so named for capturing the last sighs of the poor souls crossing the bridge to face their fate at the hands of the infamous 'terrible ten'). We crossed and found a great seat away from the hustle and bustle with an even better view of the bridge for a quick break. As we sat with our feet dangling above the canal, we were treated to an up-close show by the passing gondoliers serenading their passengers. Rested up and ready to keep walking, we slowly made our way back across the grand canal via the Accademia bridge, encountering numerous cathedrals and campos along the way. We ended the day with a sunset stroll along the Sestiere Dorsoduro, where we enjoyed the view with our dinner of fresh seafood pasta and frosty glasses or prosecco.

Heart marks the spot!
After a good night's sleep, we got up and did it all again... After breakfast on the lovely terrace at our hotel, we headed to the Piazzale Roma and caught the Vaporetto (water bus) for a cruise down the Grand Canal while we listened to our Rick Steves audio tour, pointing out the landmarks along the way. It was really neat to see all the buildings and palaces from a different point of view after our extensive walking tour the day before. Our tour ended at San Marco, and we headed east to further explore the island. We wandered into the Castello neighborhood, stopping for a quick bite at a quiet cafe, and made our way past the arsenal. As we meandered along, we crossed the Rio Retto at Calle de la Pieta, and found the most magical place for our 'lock of love.' Marking the map and stopping for a few photos, we continued on to re-visit Piazza San Marco, this time entering from the northeastern corner. We took our time in the piazza, catching the tolling of the four o'clock hour rung by the moors high atop the 15th century clock tower, which was very special. We stopped for picnic supplies and partook in the Italian custom 'il pisolino' (mid-afternoon nap;) after enjoying our late lunch on the terrace. (We learned on our first day that almost everything closes between noon and four so that Italians can have their siesta time. Definitely think we should adopt that tradition in the states ;)

When the sun went down, we were greeted with a beautiful full moon and prosecco in hand, we went for a magical moonlit stroll. Venice was beautiful by night, and even more romantic. We made our way to San Marco once again to pay our respects and bid this magical city farewell. We encountered a flooded piazza and handfuls of visitors here and there, splashing about like children. The band at Caffe Florian played Strangers in the Night, and we danced our way across the piazza to St. Mark's and said arrividerci to Venezia.

Day 3 Vignolo / Piedmont Region
We took the train from the island inland to pick up our rental car, and then took a slight detour on our way to Cinque Terre to visit the village of Vignolo, where Mary's family is from. Thanks to our trusty tom-tom, we found it with no problem. It was really cool to see the family name plastered about - it will take a little more research to learn more about the area, but since we were somewhat nearby we wanted to at least see the place, and so we did! We don't know much about Virginio's parents or lineage, but short of being featured on an episode of Who do you think you are (please, Ms. Kudrow?), we're not sure how to find more info just yet.  

Shannon handled the autostrada like a pro, and says it's just like MarioKart ;) We drove through the beautiful Italian countryside and saw lots of castles and towers, vineyards and farms, fields of beautiful golden wheat and plenty of livestock. Closer to Cuneo and Vignolo, the Alps came into view, and it was amazing driving through such a scenic area. After visiting Vignolo, we twisted and turned our way through smaller mountain regions and made it to Sestri Levante as the sun went down.

Day 4 Cinque Terre
After breakfast, we walked just down the hill from our hotel and caught the train from Rivo Trigase to Riomaggiore, the southernmost village of Cinque Terre (which means, the five villages). We took the paved cliffside trail from there to Manarola, and it was gorgeous. The first portion between these two villages was an easy troll and only took about 20 minutes. We were almost disappointed how easy it was because after our reading we were prepared for a HIKE. Well, we got it. After exploring Manarola for a bit and walking the cliffside trail as far as we could (the portion on both sides of the middle village - Corniglia - is closed due to severe damage from a major mudslide), we took a boat from Manarola to Vernazza. We then got what we were looking for. Wandering off the paved trail, and onto a marked hiking trail (for those who are interested: we did 8 straight up to trail 1 and then over to 9 and back down) we made our way up the mountain and took on a strenuous 4-hour hike. It was well worth it because the views along the way were AMAZING. The sun came out half way through though and it was HOT. Storm clouds came in toward the end offering some relief, and we ended in a forested area with plenty of shade. When we made it to Monterosso, we treated ourselves with a half liter of the local vino, as well as a feast of bruschetta, pizza and lasagna with pesto. Whew! We took in the sunset from some rocks on the water and then took the train back to our home for the night.  

Days 5 - 10 Tuscany
We got up early on Wednesday and drove 3 hours to our Tuscan villa where we spent the remainder of our time in Italy. It was a lovely place between the historic villages of Laterina and Arezzo. Our hosts, Anna and Giorgio made us feel very welcome and greeted us with chianti and olive oil and directions to the market. We made good use of all three. After settling in, we walked up the hill to take in the view of our surroundings. Absolutely gorgeous. After a short drive to Arezzo, where we stocked up on groceries for the next 5 days, Mary made our favorite apertivo, caprese, which we enjoyed with a delicious tuscan vino on our patio overlooking a historic church, Santa Maria en valle. Mary cooked a delicious dinner of sausage ragu with fresh made tagliatelle to celebrate our first night in Tuscany. It was the perfect evening, and we slept like babies in our new home away from home. The next day we relaxed all day, reading by the pool, swimming and snacking on delicious local fare. Shannon even set up his hammock on our patio!   

   Day 7 Siena
   On Friday, we ventured out to Siena, which was less than an hour away by car. We took our time strolling through the gorgeous streets within the ancient walled city and took in the sights - The Duomo, the Piazza del Campo, and my personal favorite, the Enoteca Italiano, which houses over 1,600 different Italian wines, and offers tastings and bottles for purchase. It was amazing to tour their cellar and sip delicious Italian wine on their gorgeous terrace. We had the place all to ourselves, and it was lovely.

   Day 8 Florence
   On Saturday, we took the train from Laterina to Florence - it was about an hour long ride stopping at 12 villages along the way - but we had gorgeous scenery and good company and it certainly beat driving in Florence and trying to find parking! Anna had made arrangements for us to go the Uffizi Gallery, so that was our first stop. We had our trusty Rick Steves audio tour, and while in line we met a family from Sandy Springs on vacation - small world! It was hot as a mother inside, but after about an hour we finally cooled off. We took our time inside, savoring each room filled with classic works by the masters of the Renaissance. There are over dozens of rooms filled with out of this world collections compiled by the infamous Medicis. It was amazing. Next, we did our Rick Steves audio tour entitled 'Renaissance Walk,' which took us from the Duomo to the Piazza della Signoria, among other sights of note. We walked along the Arno and crossed the Ponte Vecchio, which was filled to the max with tourists. We had an authentic Tuscan meal of peposo and ossobuco, and about a half a liter of chianti of course! We enjoyed Florence, and the history was amazing, but I think we both preferred Siena. Less crowds, great history and much more approachable. We were exhausted by the time we left Florence, but it was definitely worth it.       

We spent our last day in Tuscany relaxing, reading, cooking and eating, drinking chianti and proseco, and taking a scenic drive. It was HEAVEN.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Erin & David at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden
I was in DC this week for meetings but actually had some free time to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather - definitely one of my favorite cities... er, districts. Love that you can walk most anywhere, and there's so much to see and do. Hurrah for DC! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


View from my window
I had a meeting in denver this weekend and while there wasn't much free time to explore - you just can't beat the mountain views!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012


We heart Chi-town!
I had meetings in Chicago this week, and my BFF Julie joined me after my last meeting ended and we spent a day in our favorite city together - taking in a game (White Sox v. Red - Boston won:) - eating delicious pizza (this place is AMAZING), of course enjoying plenty of Garrett's popcorn, and enjoying the gorgeous view of the city from the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory, and walking our little feet off! Such a great time!!! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Shannon joined me in New York and we tagged an extra day on to a work trip to spend some QT in the city. Unfortunately the weather was not super cooperative - but we took in a few sights, walked through Central Park, and enjoyed a beautiful meal at Eataly New York. Fun weekend trip, and always a treat when the hubs joins me on the road. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


I had a meeting in Palm Springs this week and had a great time - beautiful weather, productive meeting and uneventful travels.

It's a really gorgeous place - an oasis in the middle of the desert! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012


We had a quick trip to Greensboro for my cousin's wedding.  We got there Saturday morning with cold and overcast weather, not what you would typically want for a wedding day but it turned out to compliment Daniel and Laurens wedding theme "to come in out of the cold and witness the mystery of their union."

My dad came to pick us up from the airport and he spotted the crowd waiting when we went back to the hotel.  We had brunch with my parents at this cool restaurant just around the block from our hotel (Smith Street Diner). As it turns out my cousin Daniel, the groom, eats here at least once a week.
Dad's rule of thumb is look for a restaurant where people are waiting and there is typically a reason they are waiting.  While in line my parents made friends with a local couple in front of us and they gave us the skinny (or not so skinny) on the menu so we had a game plan going in.  Just looking through the window while waiting we had noticed the size of the biscuits (the size of my head) and pancakes.  Everybody was satisfied with their choices (can't remember them now) but I went with the local recommendation of corned-beef hash, very good but not something I could eat on a regular basis.  We had a nice brunch and went back to get ready and head to the church for the main event. 

The wedding was very nice.  I especially liked the folksy bluegrass music and the apple spice cake! This video from the wedding is so awesome I've watched it at least 5 times (View it here: Goans/Plank wedding). We had dinner with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins that night then went back to a suite to catch up and tell stories that have all been told before but everyone likes to hear them again.  It has been joked that the stories should just be numbered and then no one would have to tell the whole story they could just call out a number and everyone would know the story and start laughing.  We made had a good nights sleep and made it to the airport for the flight home on Sunday morning.  Fun weekend and nice to see family.

Wishing Daniel and Lauren the best as they start a new chapter in their life together. Welcome to married life - it's the best!

Monday, January 30, 2012


The slopes are lookin' awwwwesome!
Mary had a meeting in Santa Fe, and since it was her birthday weekend (and not at all because of the skiing nearby), I decided to tag along :)

I have only skied once in Alabama (about 10 years ago) and I don't think that really counts as skiing because the slope was maybe 100 yards long.  I had some loaner gear from my coworkers and watched a few training videos on youtube, so I had a faint idea of what to expect and my memory from the one and only Alabama slope to go on.

I got two full days in, Thursday and Friday.  I took lessons both days with morning and afternoon sessions.  I wanted to make the most out of my time on the slope and went pretty much non-stop between sessions just eating a snack while riding the lift. The slopes weren't busy which was good and the afternoon classes turned out to be awesome because I was the only returning skier the first day and ahead of my classmates on the second day so I got private lessons each afternoon.  Skiing was even more fun than I thought it would be.  I had a really good run late on Thursday where everything clicked for a segment of the hill,  the experience was euphoric.  (I didn't know how to describe it but the instructor gave me the word when we got to the bottom and that left me wondering and feeling awesome.)  The second day was similar and equally as fun.  So after thinking about it some more and replaying my two days of skiing in my head many times I had to google around for information and to see how other people feel while skiing.  I think this book will be interesting to read and shed some more light on what happened  Spiritual Adventures in the Snow.

Mary was finished Saturday morning so Saturday afternoon, we walked all over Santa Fe. We checked out the railyard area, which was really cool and hit up the local flea market where Mary got some pretty turquoise to make jewelery with. We walked to Canyon Road and browsed the galleries, and stopped for a snack at a great little coffee shop, Travel Bug, where Mary fell in love with the london fog latte and I got to peruse some maps and great travel books. We also tried the asiago and green chile bagel, which was really, REALLY good. Afterward we rested up at the hotel and then had dinner at this great little place called The Shed, which was excellent. 

On Sunday we drove to Los Alamos to Bandelier National Monument. It had snowed overnight, so we were greeted with a winter wonderland.   The video above is from White Rock over looking the Rio Grande.  While at Bandelier we saw petroglyphs, dwellings carved into soft rock cliffs, and ruins from the early Pueblo people. The cliff dwellings were really cool, because the only way in/out was by climbing ladders up into the dwellings. They had a few set up where you could crawl around and see what it was like.  After checking out the cliffs, we hiked along the creek through the snow and just took in the beautiful landscape. It's dramatically different than anything we have in the southeast. It was a really cool experience to be in the middle of a true southwestern canyon. 

You can see pics from our trip here.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Tea tasting in Chinatown
We had a board meeting in San Francisco - one of my favorite cities! - this past weekend, and due to travel schedule and time change actually had some down time to hang out in the city, which was lovely as always. The weather was gorgeous - in the 60s and sunny for our entire stay. We explored Chinatown, saw fortune cookies being made, had a fabulous tea tasting at the Vital Tea Leaf, and on our last night Sam and I had a great dinner in North Beach and checked out a real speakeasy. Super fun.