Your Favorite Traveler Returns!*

*am I being presumptuous? Maybe I should have titled it “your favorite traveler who also blogs and loves UConn basketball and hates olives returns” – I OWN that title! πŸ™‚

Back from nearly a week of travel to much warmer climates – it was so nice to see sunshine and not have to rely on a jacket! I’ll start at the beginning – I flew to New Orleans on Sunday morning and pretty much hit the ground running. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to check into my hotel (it was Mother’s Day weekend after all), so my plan was to walk over to the National WWII Museum, just under a mile from the hotel. Holy cow – intense. And considering I basically majored in WWII in college, I learned a lot! The museum is still fairly new and just does a fantastic (I was going to say “tremendous” but it sounded a little too Trump for my liking) job of integrating technology and multimedia elements throughout your visit. Similar to the Holocaust Museum in DC, you get a dog tag of a soldier and you follow his/her journey throughout the museum, checking in at kiosks and listening to how his/her story unfolded. I actually had Paul Tibbets – you may know him as the pilot who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima – definitely a notable figure in history!

The museum was just really well done. The only only thing I’d say – if you were thinking about visiting – is to leave younger kids at home. There’s a very powerful 40-minute multisensory film that you can watch, and even I had a hard time with it. Plus it wasn’t exactly cheap – my ticket was over $30, and granted that included both the film and a virtual submarine experience situation – totally worth it for me but it would be a lot for a family with kids. But I’d definitely go back. I feel like as we get more time from WWII, you start to forget the sheer magnitude of it – it truly was a global war, and the casualty toll was just astronomical. Really sobering experience to be at the museum and be reminded of it all.

Anyway, I wrapped up my visit and was able to get back to the hotel with time to shower and change and head to a bar to meet up with my analyst friends. That was why I was in NOLA – for a conference of my peers. Technically it was work but I genuinely consider so many people in this group to be my friends – so it was more fun than work! We ate at Emeril’s restaurant that night and it was just delicious. The next day we had a half day schedule and had a group dinner at Brennan’s (also delicious and beautifully historic!), and on Tuesday we had a full day of discussions. Finally that evening I had dinner with one of my friends (my inner introvert took over – I needed a break from the group dynamic!), and flew out the next morning. I was sad to leave – it was so fun being in NOLA for a second time, and I appreciated the city much more, plus of course I had a blast with my analyst friends (and learned a ton too, as always). We’ll meet up again in DC in November – which feels far from now but I know it’ll be here before we know it!

Wednesday morning I flew first to Houston, then connected over to Nashville, and arrived in the late afternoon. I was there to conduct a security audit of the airport, so my hotel was just a few minutes away – not anywhere near the downtown area, which of course was sad but it was far more convenient this way (and much cheaper). On the advice of the front desk girl at the hotel, I had dinner at a lovely restaurant on Wednesday evening – given how many chains dotted the highway near my hotel, I was surprised to find an independently run place!

Thursday I worked from 9ish until the late afternoon, but the station manager took me on a great little driving tour of Nashville, so I finally got to see what all the fuss was about! Wow – really cute city. I can see why people like it! The downtown area was pretty much exactly as I’d pictured it (one main road with bars/restaurants/shops just lining the street, music coming from every direction), but bigger. I also got to see the area around Vanderbilt and would have had lunch at a new. hip-ish neighborhood but a massive storm made us double-think our plans – so we headed back to the airport and just ate there. Anyway, I came back to the hotel for awhile then did dinner again on my own (this time at a super charming place that was actually hidden just behind my hotel – I never would have seen it on my own!) and then went back to the airport around 10pm to finish things up. I got back around midnight.

This morning all I had to do was debrief the station manager and fly out, so I finally got back to my condo around lunchtime or so. I unpacked a little and promptly fell asleep. πŸ™‚ Then I went for a quick run, got back and showered, did some strength exercises, went to my dance class, and ran over to the grocery store because I had zero food in the house. I found pints of blueberries and California cherries on sale – spring/summer is definitely around the corner!

What went right about this trip was RUNNING. I was, well, thrilled to be honest – I brought my little plan and stuck to it like glue. It helped that the fitness center in NOLA was one of the best I’ve ever seen in a hotel – not only was there fancy cardio equipment, but there were balls, mats, bars, kettlebells, and even a foam roller (plus the usual weights) – it was GREAT! And the treadmill cracked me up – I had a similar one (I think the brand is Life Fitness) in my hotel in Paris in February – what’s awesome is that you can “run” through a bunch of cities and paths in Australia and New Zealand – it REALLY helps make the treadmill time fly by! I have no idea why those are the selections, but whatever, it’s distracting and enjoyable and I think I had a smile on my face the whole time! In Nashville my expectations were low – I was just staying at a suite property near the airport – but the room had a lovely treadmill (granted the tv didn’t work, but that was totally fine), and, randomly, a trampoline and…two hula hoops. Isn’t that bizarre?! Great for core workouts, I suppose! Anyway, I got my runs in and was really happy.

What did not go well: food. Holy crap. Okay on the one hand – yes, I absolutely loved indulging in some of the southern specialties (I got to try two kinds of gumbo, had shrimp and grits, some lovely cocktails, etc etc etc). If it stopped there I would have considered this all a success. But it was like…the Friday night before I left, I had drinks and chips/dip with my neighbors, and I almost feel like that opened the floodgates. Saturday after the Van Gogh exhibit I indulged again. I reined it in on Sunday for the most part, but then inexplicably bought a pack of peanut M&Ms after having that awesome meal at Emeril’s (which, yes, included dessert). Thankfully it was just a one-serving and not one of those “share” packs, but still – WTF? And then the rest of the week just kind of spiraled out from there.

But even that I feel like I could somewhat take in stride – until today. I started the morning somewhat more successfully than yesterday (the hotel had free breakfast, and per my tradition I went nuts on cereal yesterday because I never have it at home, but today I just had plain oatmeal like I usually do), but when I got home – despite having bread and peanut butter and actually kinda looking forward to a pb sandwich – I went straight to my freezer and pulled out ice cream and stood there with a spoon, eating it over the counter. Why? Why? And from there it just devolved.So much so that I had to be really careful on my run because my stomach was still so heavy from all of that food, even though by the time I ran several hours had passed.

I think I am in a better place now – I bought salad stuff and fruit at the store, and just had a salad with eggs for dinner – so we’ll see how it goes. I have zero plans for the weekend (which you know makes me nervous), but I THINK that I feel so gross over all of this that I should be able to stay in control. I’m just glad I’m not traveling this week and can revert to my usual foods.

I guess when I look at it, this happened for two reasons – one, yes, I’d been restricting carbs (but to a reasonable extent, nothing crazy!), so my body was probably super excited when I ate a few more than usual, and just went haywire from there. And the other part – as much as I heart my analyst group, it’s not lost on me that I am the only girl in the group who isn’t married. We had a discussion about how working moms can keep it all together and I just sat there – obviously I had zero to contribute. And that’s fine since kids aren’t in my future anyway, but still – I just felt really less than. And abnormal. And I hate that.

But whatever, nothing can be done about that and eating certainly isn’t going to help me look good enough to get married one day! So hopefully tomorrow I will get back on track – we’ll see. Thank god the exercise part is going well and I’m feeling strong – I need to focus on the positive here.

Okay, that’s enough for tonight! Off to bed. Happy weekend, everyone!



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