I remember going back to school after the summer and having to write about what I did over the summer break…usually it was about adventures with friends and boys. Not a whole lot has changed, in the grand scheme of things, but for me, this may be my favorite-est summer ever. My “what I did this summer” story goes something like this:
This summer began with a heavy heart (enter boy, or rather, exit boy), a rapidly approaching 30th birthday, a limited budget and no vacations planned. And then, without notice, things started happening. Amazingly wonderful, things.
Spain. Within 24 hours of being invited to join a friend in Spain, my trip was book. (Special thanks to Delta for involuntarily giving my seat away last fall which resulted in Delta Dollars to pay for the ticket). Spain was perfect. I escaped the 100 degree weather in Atlanta for a mid 80s retreat. We ate and drank our way through the Southern cities, indulging in the culture instead of the touristy stuff. Our city jumping to us to Malaga, Nerjas, Seville and Granada. We caught World Cup games in Irish Pubs. Almost didn’t make it out of Seville because of an ACDC concert. Got yelled at by an accordion player. Was proposed to. Danced all night to Spanish pop. Drank sangria, and hunted for patatas bravas. Kristen was the perfect traveling companion, and I will forever be grateful for our time together.
Phoenix. I was home just long enough to catch up on work, sleep and laundry before heading to back on the road. Why we decided on Phoenix in the middle of Summer, I will never know. Actually, that’s a lie. We went for my 30th birthday because Kings of Leon were playing. At one point, the temp reading was 116…and dry heat or not, it was hot! I was with some of my favorite friends, just relaxing and eating great food. If you’re ever in Phoenix you MUST eat at Pizzeria Bianco. The wait was about an hour on a Friday night, but they have this precious Victorian home next door that is a bar/waiting room. Just trust me on this one, it’s worth the wait. The rest of the weekend was spent lounging poolside, catching up with friends and being overwhelmed with love by all the birthday wishes. The night ended with the Kings of Leon playing an awesome set, and trying out some of their new tunes. Listen to their song Back Down South from their upcoming album. It’s my favorite.
Wolf Mountain. For the BIG 30th birthday, my parents wanted to take me to Wolf Mountain vineyards in North Georgia. I could not have had a more fantastic day with the two of them. Great food, an amazing view of the mountains, and a tasting room. Mom opted to shop in Dahlonega while dad and I faced the wine tasting alone. We survived the 20 tastings, barely. If you’re looking for a fun day trip, or a date idea, I would highly recommend heading up there.
Colorado. I originally wasn’t supposed to be on this trip. Fate had other plans. I’ve only ever been to Colorado for skiing, so I was excited to see the state for what else it offers. The reason for the trip was to celebrate one of my dearest friends birthdays, and to see David Gray and Ray Lamontagne at Red Rocks. RED ROCKS! Our first night there we happened upon Vesta Dipping Grill. Such a cool restaurant, with exposed brick, great music, fantastic brews and the food is delish! It’s not often that you can just stumble into a place, reviews unknown, and leave completely satisfied with the experience. The next day’s adventure had us white water rafting with Echo Canyon, and our guide Shawn. I’ve been rafting before, but not through the Rocky Mountains! Every curve of the river exposed a more beautiful scene than the one before. It was one of those experiences that takes your breath away, and makes you realize that doing, and living life is what it’s all about. If you make it out to Echo, give Shawn some river knuckles for me. The next morning we again, stumbled upon the restaurant Snooze’s. Oh My Gosh! If you are in Denver, you MUST eat at this place. It may be one of my top 5 restaurants EVER. And for this foodie…that’s saying something. They again have a great atmosphere, eclectic music and unique recipes. I could recommend all their food, because it was all so delicious, but I would say my favorite was the Caprese Benny (Tomato and Mozzarella Benedict) and then grab one of their pancakes to taste. Wash it all down with the pomegranate mimosa. You’ll need a nap after you eat here. Next up…enter Red Rocks. Red Rocks could be a post all of its on. Just visiting the rocks before the show was amazing…something about being in nature, in a setting like that only confirms my faith in God. I mean, who else could do something like that?! Once inside me, Jillian, Allison and Audrey breathed in every bit of Red Rocks that we could. We were in THE concert venue of concert venues, and you could sense that. We sat on the 7th row for the show, and lived out an experience with David and Ray as if they were playing our living room. We were giddy. I don’t think I’ve smiled and laughed as much as I did on that trip, in those moments.
The rest of my summer days were filled with Sunday Fundays, a Decatur Pub Crawl, some great concerts, an impromptu dinner with Kevin from Top Chef, and yes, even some boys. At this moment, I am completely satisfied with life. I hope this feeling stays.