Red Rock, Rocky Mountain NP

(Originally Posted on October 27, 2014)


Sunday. Our second and final day in Colorado. So many things that we wanted to do.. so many things we did not do. Two days is NOT enough. For sure!

We did not get out of the house until pretty late. After eating breakfast, which is something I usually do not put that much effort into on vacations, we decided to check out the Red Rock Amphitheater.


IMG_2353Brian lived in Colorado for a while years ago. He told me watching concerts there during rain and thunderstorms is the best. It is open to the public for free when there is no show. The stage is not accessible if a show is setting up, though. There were a lot of people using the place to exercise. Definitely a great idea to check it out. I want to see a show there someday.

We FINALLY made it to Rocky Mountain National Park. I had been there
years ago, but wanted new memories. Zipping through Estes, we got to
the park pretty quickly.

Rocky Mountain National Park

There were signs saying that there was no more parking near the hike and a shuttle is best. We parked in a lot and grabbed a shuttle.! Naturally, there was a ton of parking at our stop, but the shuttle did not take that much more time than driving.
IMG_2371We went on the awesome hike that includes the lily pads on Nymph Lake
and the stunning Emerald Lake seemingly unreal Dream Lake.

Time was not our friend. Unable to do any more activities, we zoomed
back for an AMAZING dinner, knowing we will return someday.




King Me

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home
I’ve got a golden ticket!

On a recent cross country road trip I grew giddy when I discovered I’d be passing through a must see city on my list, Memphis, and was sure to stop to see its local treasure, the hallowed home of Elvis. It was even apropos that my visit to Graceland would fall on Easter weekend to take in where the King of kings once lived.


With my AAA card I got a discount for the Platinum Tour which included a tour of his 2 planes and his beloved car collection.

planes sign


Daddy’s little girl, Lisa Marie, got a plane named after her. And what a nice ride it was. My dad gave me the keys to the family station wagon to borrow once in a while and later the spare Hyundai we had parked in the driveway growing up. This was definitely a different kind of dad.

LM plane
Now this is flying First Class







TSA Elvis style
TSA Elvis style
You ain't nothing but a Hound Dog II, but still nothing to sneeze at
You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog II, but still nothing to sneeze at




There was plenty of leg room on the Lisa Marie luxury liner. The couches and chairs were plastic wrapped for their protection from the public, as well as his bed. And oh what a bed. Would you expect anything less than a blue suede bed for the the man who sang about blue suede shoes?

Blue, blue, blue suede bed
Blue, blue, blue suede bed















A friend whose young daughter, Zoe, who was the same age I was when I first fell for the King had just discovered him and wanted to know if it was true Elvis had died on the toilet as she’d heard. I told her I didn’t ask but I did get her a photo of his bathroom on the plane.

A leather padded throne fit for a King
A leather padded throne fit for a King in the on board bathroom








In order to tour Graceland you take a shuttle bus you board across the street where you are given a headset device which talks you through the home, room by room, and throughout the total Elvis experience. It was lightly raining that day (or was it the angels shedding tears for the King?) as we drove through the gates and up the driveway to the entrance, decked out with lion statues, naturally.

Home sweet home
Home sweet home
A noble lion king for the King










What was surprising was how in comparison to today’s celebrity homes and suped up cribs of those with lifestyles of the rich and famous how much smaller Graceland is than I had imagined, but what was lacking in size was made up for in the grandeur of decadence as only Elvis could do. Upon entering the residence you are greeted by one of 3 nearby chandeliers. chandelier hall
Off to your right is the peacock themed living room housing a 15 foot couch and a grand piano in the adjoining room reminding you of the music that built this palace.

Pretty as a peacock
Pretty as a peacock
That is one long lounge
That is one long lounge
Art featuring the artist
Art featuring the artist
Dear ol' mom and dad
Dear ol’ mom and dad

























The upstairs is off limits, as Elvis preferred his privacy and out of respect for that (and for the fact that may very well be where the bathroom is that he passed) you are kept to the first floor and below. (Sorry, Zoe, I couldn’t get close enough to find out.)

The bedroom his parents stayed in is on display just down the hall.parents






The one love Elvis and I share is for TV, and he loved to have one in almost every room, including his formal dining room.


Gourmet peanut butter and banana sandwiches, anyone?
Gourmet peanut butter and banana sandwiches, anyone?





As Lisa Marie informs us on our recorded headset presentation the kitchen was the central core of the home with ’round the clock meals thanks to there being so many guests and friends over and was a favorite hangout area and has been left intact as it last was actively used and decorated in its current 70’s tone. It was rather homey vs. luxe, and there is a TV there too.

Order up
Order up







And speaking of TV, again, next up is the downstairs, where you descend a mirrored wall staircase to discover Elvis’ triple threat of 3 TVs on a wall, which we’re told he had airing the 3 different networks at the same time so he could keep up with what was going on just like world leaders and newsmen of that day as he’d heard. Decorating another wall of that room is a lightning bolt, an image he became associated with during the 70’s and liked to have emblazoned on items and clothing. The monkey sculpture is funky and strangely makes sense in that setting.

3 TVs are better than 1
3 TVs are better than 1













The pool table in the adjoining room, where the walls are covered in cloth vs. paper, still has a tear on the tabletop where one of his buddies messed up a challenging pool shot as he tried to shark the King.

rip tear by the far back right pocket
Rip tear by the far back right pocket
Oh so quilty
Oh so quilty














As you ascend back up another staircase you encounter the jungle, or rather another popular hang out room and recording space, The Jungle Room. Complete with tropical wood carved furniture, a waterfall wall, animal prints and the ever classic floor to ceiling green shag carpeting, it was inspired by Hawaii, one of Elvis’ favorite vacation spots. Talk about a man cave, this is about as groovy as they get.

Welcome to the jungle, baby
Welcome to the jungle, baby
A "wild" room
A “wild” room













Just outside is a brick enclosed space once used as a smokehouse by his dad, Vernon, and then later converted into a firing range so the King could get off some shots.

Bang bang!
Bang bang!













Along with his passion for karate Elvis also took up a love of racquetball and oversaw the building of his own personal court and leisure space, including a piano, for that pastime.

Fun and games
Fun and games
Personalized space
Personalized space
The piano he last played before he passed
The piano he last played before he passed

















The court has now been converted into a space to showcase his performance wardrobe and several of his many awards.

It's the suits that made this man in his later performances
It’s the suits that made this man in his later performances
Best dressed
Best dressed
A wall of accolades
A wall of accolades

Another whole room on the premises, The Hall of Gold, has been built to house the King’s gold, his extensive gold record collection and other outfits that marked his well lived life, including his wedding attire and his G.I. uniform.

The Holy Grail Hall
The Holy Grail Hall
Give it up for Heartbreak Hotel
Give it up for Heartbreak Hotel
Here comes the bride
Here comes the bride
Paisley for Groom Presley
Paisley for Groom Presley
He had those hup, two, three, four occupation G.I. Blues
He had those hup, two, three, four occupation G.I. Blues



Presley enjoyed a little poolside time and an area to relax with the Meditation Garden right next to it. Today fans can pay their last respects to where the King now rests alongside his parents.

Splish splash
Splish splash

Med Garden

A tranquil setting
A tranquil setting
Long live the King
Long live the King
An eternal flame for an eternal talent
An eternal flame for an eternal talent















Elvis has left the building
Elvis has left the building

Last stop on my tour was the Elvis Presley Automoblie Museum.
Quite a roomful of classic cars.
cool car

Priscilla's sweet ride
Priscilla’s sweet ride
Now that's a classic car
Now that’s a classic car, and for his mom. What a sweet mama’s boy.
Elvis' car he last drove through the gates of Graceland
Elvis’ car he last drove through the gates of Graceland







After all of that Graceland gawking it was time to go get me some good eats. As I was in Memphis there was only one thing on my menu: some good ol’ Memphis barbecue! And luckily just down the road was a sweet spot to go get some.

I pulled up to Marlowe’s Ribs and Restaurant.
Just look for the Pink Pig and you’ve found it.

Oink oink
Oink oink





If you’d like, they’ll even give you a little Southern hospitality via their VIP service and pick you up in one of their pink limos.

VIP, the P is for pink
VIP, the P is for pink






I opted for their pink drink, called the Pink Cadillac of course. As you can see, even Elvis is a fan.

Pretty in pink, even better to drink
Pretty in pink, even better to drink

With its Elvis-themed kitsch adorning the place, in case you didn’t get enough at the Graceland gift shop, Marlowe’s is a tourist’s delight, but that doesn’t take a thing away from its BBQ. In fact I was in for a tasty treat, and award winning at that. The scent of rich smoky goodness envelops you as you walk through the doors courtesy of the barbecue pit in the kitchen.

I ordered the 2 entree combo plate featuring my two BBQ favorites: ribs and pulled pork, accompanied by coleslaw and corn fritters and the most delightful fried bread concoction. At first I thought they were just larger corn fritters but they turned out to be dinner rolls, if you deep fried them like a donut, lightly crispy on the outside but with soft warm delicious bread baked inside. I’m more of a sauce gal vs. a dry rub when it comes to my meat but they feature both and I was not let down. My plate came served up with some of the best sauce that has smacked past these lips. Their sweet tender pulled pork was a delight and the ribs had a deep dense smoke flavor that went beyond the pit and straight on into the bones themselves. I’ve never tasted anything so smoked through and through and it could darn well set off a smoke detector if it too had a tongue to take a taste.

Mmm mmm Memphis BBQ
Mmm mmm Memphis BBQ
A little somethin' on the side
A little somethin’ on the side








With my belly blessed with some BBQ and my everything Elvis experience checked off my list I hopped back in my Honda, as no King ever got me a plane or a personalized Mercedes, but Memphis had loved me tender and it was time to hit the road.

Elvis sign

Montana: Land of Big Sky… and Little People!

First off, let me assure you there are plenty of big people (medium too) with big hearts in Montana. In fact we enjoy this state so much Jenn and I made sure to make another visit on this trip.  But what we encountered this time around, instead of ghost towns and the site of an historical hanging, were actual little people, or rather midgets. Don’t get mad at me, I know the proper PC term to use and being tall myself I am sensitive to height issues, but according to the flyers at the local bar where they were set to perform they were advertised as “midgets”.  Now our friend Paul, upon seeing the photos we posted on Facebook, commented that they appeared to technically be dwarves, but I digress.  I’ll get to that event shortly, no pun intended. Back to Montana!






Upon arrival to Bozeman, we two weary road travelers were greeted by our good friend and host, Maria, with shots of tequila lined up and ready to go down the hatch as we dropped our bags at the door and entered her kitchen. Now that’s a way to greet your guests. We soon switched to wine and chatted away the evening on her patio catching up, all the while as I pet and reconnected with my official roadtrip boyfriend, Fernando.

Fernando mi amor





He’s loyal, he’s warm, he’s furry, and oh that face!


The next day we enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine on the patio of The Club Tavern and Grill for brunch with Maria and our friend Bob. Bloody Marys and gravy smothered chicken fried steak were on the menu so they made their way to our table.







Now that’s a hearty meal








Later that day we made our way with Maria and Fernando to spend the afternoon at the river. As we sipped iced tea cocktails on the banks Maria warned us the area was also home to a nearby hunting ground. Fortunately the only danger we encountered was the chill of the water as we waded in to cool off.












That night was the big event: Extreme Midget Wrestling. Maria’s roommate Jeff had informed us of it when we arrived and there was no way we were going to miss it. Simply for the opportunity to witness that such a thing truly exists.  On the way back from the river we stopped by The Belgrade Lounge to get our tickets. Apparently a lot of other people had to witness this too as they were selling out fast.  And that’s when we met one of the main men of the main event, midget wrestler Rampage.

Don’t be fooled by his sweet demeanor or our cackling (shocked) laughs. This shot was taken right after he got grabby hands.

Again, I would normally and properly say little person, except after he asked if we wanted to take a photo with him and then he grabbed our asses just as it was taken, I get to call him a midget.

When we returned that night we discovered the midget wrestling was the least of the more memorable moments to be had. Among them: Jell-O shots, guys wearing wigs (these were the audience members not the performers, er, I mean athletes), drunk girls getting mad at me, a dance-off competition where the winner got to grind a midget and being caught in the middle of a bar fight. A chick fight bar fight at that.

To quickly recap: Drunk girl, or “drunky drunk girl” as Jenn dubbed her, one moment was telling me I needed to wear my part differently and started restyling my hair and the next got upset by something she did or said yet somehow got mad at me for and for the rest of the night glared at me. Remember the character Drunk Girl from SNL?  She was like that. Her moods turned on a dime. Later that evening I found her out in the parking lot stumbling around and venting about some new issue as Rampage escorted her back to the bar. He appeared chivalrous in his action, but I can’t speak for his hands. Then there were the girls Jenn overheard in the bathroom who were upset that they didn’t win the dance contest. Following the first half of the wrestling event the show took a break so the emcee could invite the ladies in the house up to take part in a dance contest. The contest was called Grind A Midget. Yes I said, and saw with my very own eyes, Grind A Midget. Jenn and I declined but several other young ladies did not and jumped right into that ring. After the #1 grinder was decided, the “winner” then got to lie down in the wrestling ring as Rampage sort of climbed on top of her, flipped her over and grinded her as the crowd cheered. At least that’s the blur of what I last remember burning into my retinas when I finally put the camera down and went in search of Jenn.

Gather round boys and girls, it’s Grind A Midget time.







And we have a winner!








Instead that’s when I walked directly into a bar fight. And a chick fight at that, my first one! A girl appeared to suddenly stumble and fall onto my foot. I assumed she tripped due to the crowd and as I reached down to help her up I suddenly caught sight of a gaggle of other girls leaping from their seats at a raised bar area nearby and charging our way. Turns out the leader of the pack had shoved the girl on the ground and they were ready to pounce while she was down. Now I’m a lover not a fighter so I froze, but luckily, like a scene out of The Jerry Springer Show, guys in shirts marked “Security” swarmed in.

Settle down everybody, his shirt says Security.





They managed to pull them apart and subdue the scene, momentarily, because next thing I knew a guy wearing a wig got into a new fight right next to me. There was a group of guys wearing wigs that night. (At this point in the evening why wouldn’t that make sense?) His wig flew off and once again security flew in. By then I found Jenn and the two of us decided to take flight as well and called it a night.

But we had more than a few laughs, and since, recounting it all.
Just another reason to hit the road. You never know what you’ll find out there.


© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

An Escape to The Cape

Anchors away for another fun roadtrip day

It is often assumed that Jenn and I are attached at the hip. We have been mistaken for sisters and even once for twins, although how our height and hair color differences didn’t tip people off otherwise I’m not sure. But at times we do exist separately, such as during my recent travels back East, however our shared love of travel and opportunity to do so continues even in each other’s absences. Such was the case on a day I found to myself with an opportunity to take a roadtrip to my favorite childhood spot on The Cape.

As I approached The Bourne Bridge, which won the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Class “A” Award of Merit as the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in 1934 and ceremoniously delivered me across the Cape Cod Canal, I smiled embracing the silence compared to the memory of piling into the family station wagon for the four hour action-packed ride with my siblings when I was a kid. Fortunately this trip was just 90 minutes from where I was staying. The familiar sights took shape as I was greeted by the iconic shrubbery sign spelling out “Cape Cod” as I arrived at the rotary.

I managed to make it once around in order to find my right route and headed in the direction of Dennis.

kiddie corner

West Dennis, MA was where we stayed each summer and the very first landmark I encountered was the West Dennis Public Library, my go-to escape as a kid on a rainy day or for a pile of books to pour through at night back at our cottage. I popped in for a nostalgic walk around viewing the wide selection of books, kids corner and even a delicately handcrafted dollhouse on display (a traditional collectible item you can find throughout The Cape at shops along with antiques.) The library offers a variety of activities including creative writing workshops, yoga, crochet classes and reading sessions with the library puppies. Be sure to stop in when the cloud coverings clear out the beach.

Next stop was the local chain of the Christmas Tree Shops.

A very merry marking for the shop located in the Christmas Commons plaza

They’re a classic stop for knicknacks for bargain hunters and when I saw the familiar sign for one I had to pull into the parking lot. Don’t let the name fool you, you can find everything from summer patio decor to shell necklaces with your name to festive stocking stuffers. My mom loved to meander through when the weather turned and I even picked up a jar of pepper jelly in her honor. Try spreading it over a log of goat cheese to serve with crackers as a uniquely alternative appetizer for your guests or cocktail hour after a day at the beach.

With my taste buds tingling it was time for something sweet so I made my way to Stage Stop Candy in Dennisport. On this hot summer day I was greeted by both the refreshing AC and the always satisfying aroma of chocolate. Offering a fine selection of fudge and gourmet salt water taffy (I selected beach plum and creme brûlée) it is also the home of all things cranberry in the world of candy including: cranberry jellybeans, popcorn, and cream filled chocolates. I’m a truffle girl so I couldn’t resist their Cape Cod Cranberry Truffle I saw in the display case.

a little morsel of yum

While the lovely saleswoman tallied up my purchase she produced a silver tray and offered me a sample of their dark chocolate cranberry cordial. As I bit down there was an instant OMG in my mouth! The rich bittersweet chocolate mixed with the tart liqueur…  sensational. Do make a stop there yourself.

Finally it was time to hit the beach. You can never go home again but you can revisit your summer retreat so I took a drive down the road of our former rentals along Windward Road in West Dennis. Locked in time, I was happy to see not much had changed. The quaint cottages dotted the drive, including the home of my annual summer crush, a boy named Peter I used to shyly smile at and play in the waves with throughout my tweens. The sand dunes still figured prominently as I stopped to take a stroll and dip my toes in the warm water. A new generation of young families had taken our place now as their blankets and beach chairs were strewn throughout and children tossed around on their inflatable rafts. We’d spend our days here and at night, when the grownups were gone, as teenagers we would return to hang out and in my case receive my first kiss. I had outgrown Peter by then and shared it with an older boy named Mike (2 years my senior, which seemed light years away from my late-blooming age of 15). I chuckled at the memory of that nervous awkward moment, hoping we’d remain pen pals when we returned home, but I never heard from him again. Thus set the stage for my relationships with men I suppose…

I see sea shells by the sea shore

Sea shells lined the shore where we would scoop up hermit crabs with our shovels and handfulls of seaweed to toss at each other after a storm.  The row of rocks my brother and I would race down still stood in the sand reaching out into the water. Even the salty beach air smelled the same. After a sufficient enough time for me to reflect and retrace my steps of beach walks from bygone summers I left its warm embrace for a visit with a friendly fishmonger.










Just down the road I decided to drop by the Swan River Fish Market where I met Bill who wore an apron declaring “fishmonger” on its front.

It’s the catch of the day

Founded over 50 years ago by Capt. Don Sargent this was one of the first stops my family would make to pick out fresh lobsters and clams to bring home to boil and steam up for dinner upon arrival on The Cape. (Now I must confess, and this is almost sacrilege for this territory, but I don’t like seafood. Just can’t stand the taste. But that didn’t stop me from playing with the live lobsters on our kitchen table as they scurried about, making them dance, thankfully with their claws safely rubber banded before my mom tossed them in the pot. I like to think I gave them some last moments of joy before they met their fate, and our dinner plates.) Bill let me poke around the tanks and pointed out the bounty of the day’s catch. The spot overlooks the scenic banks of the Swan River, a raging rapid, depending on the time of day and tide, that my little brother and I used to body surf into the Atlantic.

Swanee, how I love you… my Swan River

Although I passed on the seafood my appetite was piqued and I soon found myself down the road swinging by Sundae School in need of a scoop.

This way to the sweet spot

This classic ice cream shoppe was the first place my big sister took us after receiving her drivers license and the keys to the car to take the rest of us younger kids out for a night as a treat. The true treats were through those doors. Situated right next to their own candy store the parlor is a page from history of an early Americana era with marble table tops, an authentic 80 year old soda fountain, period signs and even a player piano. Put in a quarter and it’ll play a ditty for you as you eat your ice cream.


Shall I play you a tune?
As they say here, “Don’t skip Sundae School!”


Oh yeah, the ice cream… um, yum! I was looking forward to their black raspberry but was delighted to discover they had upped the ante with a flavor called Shark’s Tooth by combining it with white chocolate chips in honor of the recent great white shark sightings that have arrived in the area this season. A cute scooper named Kara served me up a cup which I chose to have drenched with their famous hot fudge. The ooey gooey decadence did not disappoint. Seated by me I met the Merrill family.

The Merrill men and their just desserts

The Dennis locals were about to dig in when I snapped a shot of everyone’s favorite sundae the Our Famous Hot Fudge Sundae which comes with real whipped cream and is topped with a fresh Bing cherry. It looked divine and tasted it too they assured me. In the evenings this hot spot for a cool dessert deservedly has lines out the door, but if you make a mid-day pit stop like we did the place can be all yours.


With my sweet tooth primed I hit the brakes and pulled into the parking lot when I spotted the sign of my cherished bakery from my youth, Woolfie’s. As the sign says they offer “Old Fashion Home Baking” and a wide selection of pastries, breakfast sandwiches, desserts and even catering. The home baking takes place in a converted home itself nestled along this picturesque residential section of the street. As you wind your way up the walkway of the front yard and open the door you are greeted with their abundance of gigantic goods, specifically their massive muffins lunging at you from their case. I remember these oversized mammoths as a kid and although I have grown up I was glad to see they had not been downsized, instead they seemed larger.  Nor had they skipped on the berries and assorted ingredients which decorated each top. Sticking with the local fruit of cranberry for this occasion I chose that one and was informed by the helpful Dale at the helm that day that it was actually cranberry walnut with orange zest- even better!

Dale displays a box of baked goodness

Dale guided me through their inventory and shared with me that he had come on board when his family took over the business from the original owners 2 years ago but assured me the recipes had remained the same. I will only contest that point in so much as I think they’ve gotten better. I spied my all-time favorite, their Mocha Stick. On Sunday mornings my father would head out early and return with a copy of the quintessential newspaper during our stay, the Cape Cod Times, and a box of treasures from Woolfie’s. Inside, along with those enormous muffins, would be mocha sticks and elephant ears (a multi-layered pastry sprinkled with sugar). The mocha stick consists of two sugary pastry sticks between which creamy sweet mocha filling is sandwiched.

mmmmmmmmmmmm Mocha Sticks

It is a pure delight and sugar rush and the ones they make now were even better than I remembered as the filling seemed to billow right out from it. Dale told me I was in luck when I made my request as a fresh batch was just put out before my arrival. The bakery gods were shining that day. There were too many confections to choose from and count and I could have tried them all, but as I was retracing my childhood steps I stuck with my classics of the muffin, an elephant ear and that sinfully sweet mocha stick before skipping on my way. They serve coffee to compliment their menu and had I had the time I might have gotten a cup and stayed awhile as I crept toward my food coma, but I’m proud to report I simply took the box with me back home (with a bite or two for the road) and made those gems last a few days so I could relive the memory a little longer. Make your own memories and roll on into Woolfie’s.

A picture perfect summer cottage on The Cape







keeping watch








As the late afternoon approached I utilized the last few hours taking in the scenery, which for me is the water, there’s just nothing like the beaches on The Cape in the summertime, so I strolled by another one, Haigis Beach, down the road. This public beach is available to just walk in to for free, otherwise you can park for a fee for the day.

I chatted up some of the fellow beach goers I passed in line at the ice cream truck, or “Hoodsie” as we called it as kids, based on the fact the ice cream was usually supplied by Hood but appeared now to be Blue Bunny. I had had my fill of sweet snacks so I skipped it but enjoyed the sight of the box truck and the still recognizeable ring of its bell. I took in the yachts at the Allen Harbor Yacht Club and Marina, as well as the lush hydrangeas, the unofficial flowers of this region, in bloom along the fences of the various sea salt sprayed cottages.

The Lighthouse Inn
I’ll be your candle on the water








Artwork at the Inn



My final destination to dwindle out my day was The Lighthouse Inn. Just a stone’s throw down from the stretch of beach we used to rent at in West Dennis. As children we would walk along the shore and circle the grounds on our evening walks during sunset but I had never been past its doorway. On this day I made my way inside. The beautiful wood-carved interior carries the nautical theme for the property which houses the West Dennis Light.


It was first lit on May 1, 1855 and after being dark for 75 years the light was relit on on August 7, 1989, in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Accommodations are provided mid-May through Columbus Day in Cape-style guest houses as well as cottages on the grounds.


Patio view

I proceeded through the dining room to their airy patio to take in the secluded ocean view as well as an actual substantial meal to balance out my earlier sugar intake. On the menu of specials that day was featured the Reuben Casserole, a scrumptious bubbling opened faced hot dish version of the classic sandwich. Accompanied by a heaping side of tasty pub fries and a refreshing lemonade I dove in while I sunned myself on the deck, enjoying the sight of the occasional kayak boater or sunfish sailor on the horizon. I watched the friendly waitstaff pass each other with trays and playful exchanges, a bit jealous of the joy that comes with a summer job. Most Cape Cod servers are college students relying on their earnings from their stint for their tuition and cost of living. I had the pleasure of being waited on by the charming Emily. When asked, she informed me that she attends Wesleyan where she’s studying Anthropology. I had attended a summer program there as a high school student called the Center for Creative Youth (go figure) where I embarked on my path toward drama school through their theatre division. We chatted about the campus and the social activities there and the culture of Connecticut and it turns out she’s a fellow traveler and blogger of her journeys as well. Check out her exotic adventures in Thailand on her site:

As I checked the clock I was sad to see it was time for me to leave and return to where I was staying, at my best friend’s home outside of Boston, but as I headed toward the exit I was stopped by two gentleman taking in the view with a beverage as well who asked about the food and if I might have any recommendations for some nearby spots for a beer. This is where the college kids on staff come in handy as they would most certainly know where to go. I informed them that I was just passing through and wasn’t sure as my childhood trips to the area hadn’t included any bars so I summoned over Emily who I was sure could help. She asked for suggestions from the others and returned with a few for my two new friends, Vince and Tom, who I was now seated with and chatting up. They had left their wives at the beach to escape the sun for a little buddy time and were intrigued by my adventures as I described my day.  I was a bit bummed I couldn’t stay longer to share some more laughs, and a round or two, but told them to check out Dart and Map as I departed. Apparently I had made my mark as I received an email the next day from Tom who told me I had inspired the two of them to take a spontaneous jaunt of their own and try out some of the local haunts on their way home. Among them were: Captain Parkers, Kevin’s, Wooden Shoe, Rum Runners and Jack’s 28 Club. They rated Jack’s 28 the highest based on friendliness, coldness of beer and atmosphere. Way to go Vince and Tom! Now that’s the Dart and Map spirit. I’m so proud of you boys, and so glad I got to meet you!

Me and my boys of summer






It’s a great big beautiful summer out there, folks. Look how much you can do in just one day. Get out and travel!

Venturing Into The Vortex

If I had gotten a T-shirt as a souvenir from our trip to Sedona it would read, “I went to Sedona and all I got was this lousy T-shirt, oh, and lost in the vortex.” Not that there is anything lousy about Sedona, Az., in fact it is absolutely stunning and mystical in nature, we were just hoping to absorb some of that mystical energy ourselves, instead we got lost. But can you truly be lost when you know where you are? See how this city can play with your mind?  More about that later, first we had to check-in to a hotel and fuel up for the night.

Room with a view!

Once again we arrived without any reservations and were treated to a vacancy at Wildflower Inn whose sign out front boasted, “Best Views,” and it was no false brag. We were treated to a room with quite a view.

It was early evening when we got to Sedona so dinnertime beckoned.  Our next discovery we were treated to was The Silver Saddle Room’s menu at the Cowboy Club. Prickly pear is a local ingredient well utilized in both their margaritas as well as the dipping sauce that accompanies the must-have unique appetizer nopalitos cactus fries. Three words: nom nom nom!

Perfectly prickly

The next morning we headed to Bell Rock, the majestic red formation looming just outside our hotel window, for a hike and to encounter one of these infamous vortexes we’d heard about.  I’m all about energy and any additional good vibes are most welcome.  Touted as well marked we entered the park and began our trek on the trail, feeling just a rush of this anticipated energy.  The beauty is overwhelming and that alone is enough to give you a buzz, but we were determined to ingest more. We passed purple and green cactus and a remote stream along the way. We soon found ourselves on the backside of the rock, but yet to feel anything that would create a tingle or even raise the hair on our arms.  We forged on. And on. And on. And seemed to be further out in this path that circled and should, according to the map, return us to the starting point.  If we continued on we should simply arrive at the place where we started, so we did, but only continued to feel more distant.  We passed others along the way and could even see some folks scaling the rock itself, so we weren’t alone on this adventure, but we were getting tired and a bit frustrated. We weren’t lost exactly, the rock was still right there, we could freaking see it, but somehow getting to the other side seemed impossible. We found signs on this well marked trail, several in fact, and they started to contradict each other, pointing us back to where we had just come from, and after over two hours to get to where we were, we weren’t going back, so we went forward, it seemed to be the sensible route.  Finally we found ourselves scaling the rock itself, just like the others, but with no end in sight, even though we knew there had to be a way around, let alone the front side where we had started.  Perhaps we had encountered the vortex after all, we were just lost in it! The energy had taken its effect but so had our patience. We might not be able to see the path that led to the end but what we did see was the road off to our right. The same road which led to the entrance and lot where our car was parked. What survival skills I did have told me to head for the pavement, so we did. We scaled back down the side and eventually opted for the white lines along the highway to lead us back.

But we weren’t done. Jenn was not going to leave this other than place without anything other than encountering the vortex itself.  So after we regrouped and rehydrated with some water at the car we went back in.  With map firmly in hand we found the vortex. Turns out we had already been by it, so this time we stood our ground on this sacred ground and summoned it with all our might.  Can’t say we really felt it though, or what we thought we would feel, but we were in it and it had affected this journey one way or another, maybe just not how we expected.  But isn’t that the case with the unknown?

What I did know was that we had gotten in a heck of a workout and it was time to leave the vibes behind us and fuel up on some food.  Next stop was Javelina Cantina to store up on some Southwest fare and a toast to our survival.






Video in the vortex!