“Wait a minute. You look at your window here, you look at those hills, those mountains, all that green, that blue sky and gem-clear sea. It sure looks like paradise to me.”
– Anthony Bourdain in “Hawaiʻi” from Parts Unknown
There are moments in life often reflected upon with eagerness. As I wrote in A Brief Hawaii Moment, my time living in Hawaiʻi was one of the most significant experiences of my life. I got married, earned a Ph.D., lived according to Aloha, and met incredible people. In that post, I explored my life in Hawaiʻi, but I purposely left out some travel narratives that deserve closer attention. One such trip was a sojourn to the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. This trip included snorkeling, a luxury resort, volcanoes, and an encounter with sleeping sea turtles. I most remember the time spent with my wife Corinne and two of our closest friends, who accompanied us on this journey. Someone said, “A good friend knows all your stories. A best friend helped you create them.” Colleen and Don are two best friends who helped us forge memories through travel. Join me as I explore a friendship born with Aloha, board a plane from Oahu, the gathering place, to the Big Island, and observe its beauty, coast to coast.
“I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack… it grew by one. So there… there were two of us in the wolf pack… And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, “Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack.”
– Zach Galifianakis (Alan) from The Hangover (2009)
In the long history of my life, which isn’t that long at all, I have never had a ton of friends. Sure, I have close friends from my past who I am still in contact with from time to time. I communicate with colleagues and classmates who I met along the way and positively impacted me. But friends I hang out with and talk to frequently are a much smaller group, at least in terms of number. Over the last decade, I built a small group who I consider great friends. So, it should be of no surprise that when returning from my month-long stay in Shanghai, China, in July of 2018, I was invited by a couple of those close friends for a weekend trip to Philadelphia; I responded yes. This group of friends goes on a trip once a year, usually to visit a Major League Baseball stadium, test out the local breweries, and eat fantastic food. I was thrilled to be invited. I had not been on one of their weekend excursions, but I enjoyed playing softball and exploring breweries with these four guys, so I was eager and excited to join them. Filled with history, a couple of breweries, and a visit to Citizens Bank Park, this trip became an unforgettable memory.
“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.”
– Irish Saying ☘️
In August 2017, my wife and I traveled to County Clare, Ireland, with my mother, for an experience of a lifetime. My mother has become a seasoned professional at traveling throughout Ireland and invited us to stay with her at the cottage she rented for the summer. With my wife and I on summer break from teaching, it seemed the time was finally right to join my mother. This trip would be a perfect opportunity to see some of the places that have become special to her. Our trip constructed incredible memories that, as I have said often, are helping me get through this pandemic. Join me as I recollect about this fantastic journey along the Atlantic coastline of Ireland and those towns and historical sites we visited.
“In America, there might be better gastronomic destinations than New Orleans, but there is no place more uniquely wonderful. … With the best restaurants in New York, you’ll find something similar to it in Paris or Copenhagen or Chicago. But there is no place like New Orleans. So it’s a must-see city because there’s no explaining it, no describing it. You can’t compare it to anything. So, far and away, New Orleans.”
– Anthony Bourdain
In February 2020, just as the pandemic was publicly making its way to American shores, my wife and I traveled to New Orleans, LA. Knowing my interest in exploring the city and that a Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon was coming to town, my wife surprised me by securing my race registration as a birthday gift. She knew how hard a time I had with our home’s sale, so she thought, and I agreed that this race and trip would provide us an opportunity to relax, reset, and be ourselves. With the race purchased, plane travel booked, and hotel secured, we were ready. When February rolled around, our eagerness and excitement to explore a new city was high.
While we knew that the pandemic had been growing globally, there had only been a handful of cases reported in the US by this point, so when it came time to go, we went. We planned to explore, eat great food, visit a WWII museum, and check the city off our list. What we didn’t know at the time is that this would be our last trip of 2020, even though the year had only just begun. As 2020 finally comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on what was one of the best and brightest moments of a challenging year. Let’s head back to NOLA!
“We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks, but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.”
– Parker Posey in Best in Show
I am a latecomer to the coffee world. Never really drank it until I started dating my wife, back in the early 2000s. She is from NY, so coffee was pretty much injected into her veins at an early age. While I may have been late to the java party, I have more than made up for it over the last two decades. Now, I can’t start the day without a nice cup of Café Bustelo. When my wife and I travel, we love to find unique and fun places to get a cup of coffee. In this blog post, let’s explore some of the coffee shops we have visited in our recent travels.