Travel Throwback Thursday: Hoover Dam

November 2013, I went to Las Vegas with a friend for her 25th birthday. We rented a car for one of the days that we were there and drove out to the Hoover Dam. It was definitely worth the trip! The desert was beautiful and the weather was perfect. If you’ve got some extra time, you should make the drive!

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You should also (carefully) try this…

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It feels like you’re riding with the top down and going 70 MPH..

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Anyway, hope everyone is having a good week!

The Best Food is Whole Foods

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See what they did there?…  Anyway… I was just at the Whole Foods Market for dinner, it’s absolutely my favorite place, and I discovered that not only do they have delicious foods, but they also have great local events like cooking classes and cheese clubs.

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Whole Foods is a large food chain that adds the local touch. They sell plenty of local produce and their dining areas often feature art from local artists.

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And then there’s this…

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Vegan Meatballs! They actually taste like meatballs too. Do you know how long it has been since this vegetarian has had anything like that? Needless to say, I was very excited. I am still all in support of local business, but with Whole Foods you get some of both! If you’re blessed enough to have one in your area, go check it out. Take a cooking class. Become a cheese monger!

‘Merica’s Birthday Celebrations

The U.S. of A. is about to have another birthday which means family time, fireworks and BBQ. Here are a few events happening in the Bradenton/Sarasota/Beaches area that look like they would be pretty fun.

First there’s the Independence Day Celebration at McKechnie Field. Take in a baseball game complete with fan giveaways, fireworks and a post game concert by David Nail.

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If baseball isn’t your thing, there are extravagant (and FREE) fireworks shows at Sarasota Bay, Siesta Key, Bradenton and Palmetto. There is plenty of seating in the nearby parks, but get there early because spaces fill up fast! Unless of course you want to take your boat, or a friend’s, and have a little viewing party from the water!

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Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key really know how to throw a birthday party. First the city comes together to celebrate with a fantastic parade, followed by music, food and fireworks!

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Take your pick and enjoy the holiday! Happy birthday ‘Merica!

Nashville Downtown Hostel

There cannot possibly be a better place to stay if you’re visiting Nashville than the Nashville Downtown Hostel. First, and MOST importantly, the place is super clean and safe. You need a key card to get anywhere inside. It can seem annoying to swipe your card at 3 different doors before you get to your room, but I would much rather that than anyone being able to come and go as they please. The kitchen and bathrooms were also very tidy all the time. The common area is huge and the best part is they have a bunch of instruments lying around for everyone to use. I heard banjos, guitars, a harmonica and piano playing during my few nights there. Here’s a sample…

The video also shows a little bit of the kitchen and common areas. Pretty nice, huh? I didn’t really get any pictures of the bedrooms or bathrooms, so you’ll just have to take my word that they’re nice. I’m not sure if the hostel can really take credit for this, but we also met some great people while we were there. We had lovely roommates from West Virginia..

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We are now Best Friends For Life and planning our next trip all together! Plus we met more people downstairs from Canada, Australia and the U.K.

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The hostel couldn’t possibly have a better location. You are literally a 2 minute walk away from the main downtown area. Also around the corner is a soda shop where you can find almost any flavor of soda. This includes Buffalo Wing Soda and Bacon Soda. The Buffalo Wing Soda just tasted like weird orange soda, but the bacon soda tasted like… well watch the video to find out…

So, whether you’re traveling on your own or with friends, stay at the Nashville Downtown Hostel. You’ll have a great of time!

The Perfect New York Hotel

By perfect I mean, most of us are not Donald Trump, so finding a place that won’t break your bank and where you don’t have to share a bathroom with some smelly college kids is a pretty good challenge. Astor on the Park is just like it sounds, right on Central Park! The staff was very friendly, the rooms were clean and NO SMELLY COLLEGE KIDS!

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The interior was very modern, and seemed like it was recently remodeled.

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Like I said, small but very clean. You could get up in the morning and walk right into central park or over to Manhattan Valley and eat at the local Whole Foods Market (My favorite!). There is a Subway line that runs right along the Park, so you’re only about a block from one of the main Subway lines. I would definitely stay there again, but if anyone has any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

New York Bageling

My experience in New York City is limited to about 2 weeks, so I’m far from trying every bagel shop and being able to say which one is the best. I AM able to tell you that if you try the Absolute Bagel shop, you won’t be disappointed. Judging by their four square reviews, I’m far from the only one with this opinion. It’s located right on Broadway near Morningside Heights and Columbia University. This is also right where the M60 bus starts, which is the one you can take to the airport.

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You can sit outside and people watch when the weather is good. People watching happens to be one of my favorite travel activities and where can you do that better than in NYC? But when it’s chilly like my last visit, they also have cozy seating inside…

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The bagel variety is quite impressive and the people are really nice… as long as you know what you’re doing. New Yorkers don’t like to wait. First you go to the farthest counter and select you type of bagel, the everything is always a safe bet. Next they toast it for you, and lastly, once it’s toasted you tell them the type of spread. If you do this out of order, they get kind of fussy, but it all adds to the New York experience. Floridians like me aren’t used to rushing, so the intensity of it all is very amusing.

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They have about every type of spread you can imagine..

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Strawberry, Blueberry, Onion and Chives, Pimento, Lox and my favorite the Sun-Dried Tomato..

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It really lives up to the NY bagel hype. It’s a small hole in the wall place, so it’s easy to miss, but it’s well worth finding!

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Anyone have other recommendations?