Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Favorites: Cheyenne Autumn

I’ve mentioned before that Barbie beauty pageants were a favorite pastime of mine when I was a little girl. What I didn’t mention is that, despite having probably never left New York that young, my Barbie was always Miss Wyoming, specifically from Cheyenne. I still have absolutely no idea why!

Wyoming’s capital is located just a quick 90 minute drive from Denver. On the third day of our stay in Mountain Time, we took the drive up North to Cheyenne. Since city tours are my favorite way to get the lay of the land, I did some investigating and found a great trolley tour of Cheyenne offered daily. 

Big skies on the drive up!

The Cheyenne Trolley Tours run throughout day and last approximately 90 minutes.

Starting off at the Cheyenne Depot Museum, the tour gives a fantastic history of the city from its inception as a railroad town to present day.

Stops include the Wyoming State Capitol – a beautiful, gold-domed building to some of the great museums that recount tales of the state’s history. Also included on the tour were some sordid tales involving legends such as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.

One of the more fun areas that I would have loved to explore is the site where Cheyenne’s Frontier Days activities are held. The Old West Museum includes one of the biggest collections of horse drawn vehicles as well as a robust history of Cheyenne’s Frontier Days which dates back to 1897. From the very first, Frontier Days has drawn famous personalities to the rodeo—Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show performed for a cheering crowd of 6,000 at the 1898 event.

This tour gave us the perfect opportunity to take in the charm of Cheyenne in a few hours time. And the sunny, clear blue skies provided the perfect backdrop to photograph this beautiful city. But perhaps the highlight of the tour was our tour-guide. His knowledge of the city was second to none and his hometown pride shown through in all of the stories he told. Plus, he provided us with binders of photos to reference during the tour – loved that! And he married a woman from the Bronx. Us New Yorkers are everywhere!

Actual stagecoach rules!
For more information of Cheyenne Trolley Tours, click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cloud Gate

In our travels, we've come across a lot of public art. One of my absolute favorites is big and shiny and is located in Millennium Park in Chicago.

The Cloud Gate was designed by Anish Kapoor and is the centerpiece of Millennium Park, located in the Loop community area of the Windy City. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed "The Bean" because of its bean-like shape. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It is 33 by 66 by 42 feet (10 by 20 by 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (100 t; 98 long tons).

I loved how the silver skin of the piece reflected the city's skyline.  And I also became obsessed with capturing our reflection in the Bean.  I've spared you the multiple photographs we took and just will include one of us sitting underneath the Bean.  Disclaimer: the luggage in the photo below is NOT ours! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Favorites: Say No to Hitchhiking

There really isn't a funny story to go along with this picture.  I just found it pretty amusing.  It seems like they are really big on this out at O'Hare because these signs were everywhere!  So word to the wise, if you're looking for a ride out of O'Hare, just head to the cab line outside the airport.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Little Rock Nine

During our Southern adventure this past April, we traveled to a few cities that were a hot bed of activity during the Civil Rights Movement. One of the sites that most resonated with me was Little Rock Central High School.

Back in 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson declared that state sponsored segregation was constitutional and added the phrase ‘separate but equal’ into the country’s vernacular. But this ruling never took into account the intangibles associated with the notion of how ‘separate but equal’ would resonate with the people. This practice was upheld until 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and deemed 'separate but equal' to be unconstitutional. As a result, schools in the South were to be fully desegregated – something that met with much opposition.

In Little Rock, the superintendent of schools wasn’t quite ready for desegregation and requested more time to gradually integrate students. By 1957, the NAACP registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High. Dubbed the Little Rock Nine, these students were selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. Needless to say, their very presence was met with much resistance. Governor Orval Faubus defied the court’s ruling and deployed the Arkansas National Guard to block the Little Rock Nine from entering the school. This drew the attention of the nation along with President Eisenhower who had to step in. By the end of September 1957, the Nine made it into the school for what can be described as a hellish year. They were harassed, spit on and taunted by other students. One girl even had acid thrown on her.

The Little Rock Nine via

Governor Faubus was still unhappy and petitioned to postpone desegregation until 1961, saying that the very act was creating a culture of violence. In spite of all of his attempts, Cooper v. Aaron ruled that the Supreme Court’s decision stood and each state could not make their own laws regarding desegregation - no matter HOW much they disagreed with them.

Today, the school still functions as part of the Little Rock School District, and is now a National Historic Site that houses a Civil Rights Museum, administered in partnership with the National Park Service, to commemorate the events of 1957. We didn’t have a chance to step inside the school, but just being there made me reflect on how much change happened on the very steps of the school.

President Clinton honoring the Little Rock Nine in 1997 - via

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Favorites: Crown Me Already

Tomorrow night, the Miss America pageant is being held at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.  I have to admit that ever since I was a kid, I have been a fan of the glitz and glamour of beauty pageants.  Growing up, my favorite playtime activity was dressing up my Barbies in their prettiest dresses (complete with little state name paper sashes that I cut out myself) and parading them in front of my mom who acted as the one and only impartial judge.  So much fun!

The Travel Channel just posted an article in which this year's contestants share their must-see favorite locations in their home state.  Take a peek and see if you and Miss Insert-Your-State's-Name-Here share the same tastes!  (For the record, I haven't yet been to Miss New York's favorite place - Monroe County.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Buffalo and Gunpowder

Before we took off for Denver, I did ample research on what to do and where to eat once we arrived. Dan and I are NOT foodies (read: we love chain restaurants) but when I came across a listing for a restaurant that served food and drink of the Early West, I immediately made a reservation. The Fort is an award winning restaurant located in Morrison, just a short drive up into the mountains from where we were staying in Lakewood. The breathtaking view and ambiance of the restaurant really make you feel like you’re stepping 150 years into the past. The Fort also boasts one of the most eclectic menus that I have ever come across. You can order all sorts of game - buffalo, elk, quail, to wild boar, and of course, the aptly named Rocky Mountain Oysters. (We did not venture into that territory!)

Since we’re not wild food adventurers, our orders were quite tame. We started out with the buffalo empanadas. They were absolutely delicious – flaky on the outside, rich in the center.

Whiskey and empanadas.

For our entrees, it was red meat all the way – a buffalo New York Strip for Dan and a Filet Mignon for me. Both were cooked to perfection!

Mmm, buffalo.
The Fort’s signature dessert is the Negrita - a blend of dark chocolate whipped with Myer's rum served in a chocolate tulip cup. For a chocoholic like me, it was the perfect end to a hearty meal.

Perhaps the most daring part of my meal was the cordial I ordered. Now, if you remember correctly, I am NOT a big drinker, especially of things that TASTE terrible. But I was drawn to something on the menu called the Trade Whiskey - a small shot of whiskey flavored with red pepper, tobacco and black gunpowder. Yes, gunpowder. I don’t remember ever drinking whiskey before in my life, but I just needed to try this wild concoction. The first few sips went down ok, but my mistake was leaving the whiskey to the side, allowing the flavors to just get stronger. Let’s just say I didn’t finish it, BUT I can say that I have tasted gunpowder.

The Fort is located at 19192 Colorado 8, Morrison, CO 80465. Reservations can be made here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wish List: Caffeine High

One place quite high on my ‘must visit’ wish list is the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. But visiting here could prove quite dangerous for me as I am a self proclaimed Coca-Cola addict. My addiction is so strong that not a day goes by where I don’t crack open a can of this delicious nectar. My mouth is watering just thinking about it – oh wait, exhibit A - I already have one sitting next to me at my desk – notice the bottle is already empty.

The elixir of life
In addition to learning about the history of the brand, apparently the World of Coca-Cola has an exhibit called Taste It! in which you can sample over 60 Coca-Cola products from around the world. How delicious does that sound? While we do not currently have plans to visit, I have already challenged myself to taste all of them. I’m sure this will result in a wild sugar high, but I am ready to take on this little experiment.

The World of Coca-Cola is located at 121 Baker Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA.  Hours of operation can be found here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday Musings: Wanderlust

It’s a new year and I’ve decided to shake things up a bit on the blog. Like so many people I know, I have become addicted to the online pinboard, Pinterest. That site is chock full of goodness and despite saying that I’d never get sucked into it, I totally have. So rather than do a Wordless Wednesday feature, each week I’m going to be posting some of my favorite travel quotes found on Pinterest. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Travel Goals for 2012

Now that 2011 is just a memory, it's time to look ahead to the fresh, new year.  This past year was a big one for us - we made it to 8 new states and experienced so many crazy adventures that it's going to pretty hard to top!  We're going to try to be equally ambitious this year and have already set a handful of travel goals for 2012.  Our objective is to complete as many as we can, and hopefully add a few more along the way.  So keep on checking back to see how we're doing. And as always, suggestions are welcome!

via pinterest
  • Attempt to ride all the rides in the Magic Kingdom. (I’ve been there 10 times and still haven’t ridden the Astro Orbiter!)
  • Have a drink in Ybor City.
  • Take a dolphin watching boat ride.
  • Go to the top of the St. Louis Arch.
  • Drive part of Route 66.
  • Have some Ted Drewes frozen custard.
  • Try and find some of the houses in Missouri that my dad lived in when he was a kid.
  • Eat some kick ass Kansas City BBQ.
  • Revisit Nebraska and actually get out of the car.
  • Figure out what city to spend our 5th wedding anniversary in – Chicago or Los Angeles.
  • Visit Ellis Island.
  • Finally go to the Cloisters.
  • Spend a long weekend in Washington DC.
  • Have ice cream at the Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia.
  • Plan more road trips to Atlantic City with friends.
  • Catch a Knicks road game.