Tag Archives: trips

Freedom Weekend

There I stood, sandwiched between the U.S. Capitol building, the Washington Monument and a mall full of marching bands and red-white-and-blue floats. Free to wear a skirt and ride a bike and Instagram about it. America.

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We spent Independence Day weekend in D.C. and the Virginia wine country, thanks to a wedding invitation and my mom’s willingness to watch Emmett while we flew out for the fun, which also coincided with our fourth anniversary.

Highlights of the #freedomweekend: 

Hitting up the happy hour at District of Pi, the D.C. outpost for a favorite St. Louis deep dish spot, with my brother and his girlfriend.

Hotel sheets and a full night sleep.

Meeting up with some favorite college friends and having an awesome Pimm’s cocktail and hearty breakfast at Founding Farmers together.

Deciding on a whim to hop onto the Capital Bikeshare cruisers and cycling down Constitution Avenue when it was closed to traffic for the parade. The street was lined with people waving flags, and of course I waved back at the kids.

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We swung through the parade staging area, so I felt like we got to see the parade without waiting in the sun. I get all teary-eyed hearing patriotic songs and this was a pretty nice consolation for missing out on the Yankee Doodle Pops concert back home. (Did you guys go?)

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Geeking out at the Newseum. Can’t beat celebrating the First Amendment on Independence Day, right? So many of the exhibits offered reminders of how wonderful – and hard won – all of our freedoms truly are.

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The hotel pool at the Holiday Inn Express with the best view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Watching my beautiful friend Mara marry her best friend. Mara has impeccable taste, and the wedding at Early Mountain Vineyards was gorgeous, thoughtful, delicious and fun! 20140705_195351Dancing the night away with my high school crew. They own the dance floor.

10368316_10102113350770140_313293401580712690_oAnd just spending some quality time with Joe. Cheers to 4+40 more years!

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NYC afternoon

This week capped off what’s felt like my year of conferences with a trip to NYC!

I got to meet Eugene Lang, who founded the “I Have a Dream” Foundation 30 years ago, and got a taste of city life last week during the organization’s national staff conference.

We stayed in the NYU dorms (which were huge and had great views!) and our days were packed with group workshops and activities, but I had a few chances to break from the pack and this is what I did:

Thursday morning I went with a couple of people to start the day at Yoga to the People off St. Marks with a power yoga class that was for all ability levels and featured a sound track that brought me back to my college days. (“Into the Mystic” and “Hallelujah” were part of the playlist.) I don’t do yoga very often, but now I’m inspired to fit it in on a much more regular basis. I spent the rest of the conference sore, which is a definite sign I need to get myself in shape!

Our workshops overlooked Washington Square Park, where I stole a few moments to read our TEDxDesMoines book club pick. (Our meeting is Aug. 15, so you have time to read it, too.)

After the sessions were over, I scooted down to Purl Soho and did a little damage fabric shopping. It was exciting to actually be in one of the magical places that I only experience via the blogosphere. Plus, there was a 20% off everything sale going on!

Saturday was a free day; I just needed to be back to the dorms in time for a 3:30 p.m. airport shuttle pickup. I didn’t do much research in advance or really make any plans, but I ended up being able to meet my friend and former London flatmate Maggie at Westville in the East Village for brunch, which was delicious and lovely despite the fact that I kept accidentally flinging my silverware at the people who were at the table next to us. (Teeny tables really close to each other.)

Then I went on a solo excursion to the High Line. My Parks and Rec friend Teva had recommended I check it out, which I remembered after looking up Joanna Goddard’s NYC afternoon NYC Guide recommendations. I knew I could count on Cup of Jo to steer me in the right direction! The High Line is a converted above ground rail line that’s now a (free-to-access) park with great wildflower landscaping, art, food trucks and views! I can imagine it would be even more amazing at sunset, and when you’re not lugging a heavy purse and a carry on:

I did the whole 1.45 mile length, then doubled back to the start and walked there from the East Village, so I earned a cucumber lime popsicle, right?

I lounged on the sky lawn, stopped to smell the flowers and was super excited to see this art by former TED prize winner JR along the way.

It felt so great to walk in the sunshine and keep my eyes and mind open. Thankfully, I made it back to Des Moines last night after a nail-biter of a tight layover and got a seat next to some awesome strangers who might even put together a fundraiser for “I Have a Dream”!

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Remembering the Camino

A few months ago, “The Way” was playing at our neighborhood indie theater, The Varsity. (It’s the kind of place that doesn’t even show previews.) Joe and I went to see it partially because, after I studied abroad in London in 2006, I went to Spain and hiked the section of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail between Leon and Santiago de Compostela, and partially because we love “The West Wing” and Martin Sheen. Although I hiked about 180 miles, my portion of the trip only made a brief cameo in the movie, which should be out on DVD soon.

My high school friend Greg and his mom are planning on hiking el Camino this summer, and so I had the occasion to pull out my travel journal from the trip more than once these past few weeks and retrace my steps in my memory.

I must remember to always write a travel journal – although the things I recorded from this trip (silly dogs I saw in towns, funny conversations) aren’t very practical when it comes to sharing tips with others. I remember having wanted to hike the Camino since I was a young teenager, after I read wacky Shirley MacLaine’s book in which she makes the pilgrimage and (if I recall correctly) has several out-of-body experiences. I was very much embodied on my journey (as heel blisters reminded me), but there’s definitely something magical about pursuing a path that was established many centuries before. Peregrinos (pilgrims/hikers) get stamps in a passport along the way, meet people from all over the world, travel until you’re too tired and experience the Celtic Galician culture, which is different than what comes to mind when most people think of Spain.

I’m at my happiest when I’m just walking, plain and simple, seeing the world at a plodding pace. I’m not a skilled map-reader, so the more well-worn the path, the better. I walked to work today, in this spring-feeling weather, and even that simple little trek set my day on a more pleasant trajectory. In a way, walking is an art. It’s a meditation. It’s getting comfortable with the way your body and your mind move together. Now I sound like Shirley MacLaine!

I need to discover more favorite walks in Des Moines. I think perhaps Joe and I will go for a little hometown hike this weekend!

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