Tag Archives: travel

lake anita state park

oops, didn’t mean to not blog for 9 months. of course, a lot has happened since then! i ran that marathon i was talking about the last time i blogged (october)! we went to europe for christmas! i ran another marathon this spring! and a million other things big and small in between. lots of these events will warrant their own blog posts, but in the spirit of not getting even more behind, they’re going to be out of order. onward…

this past weekend marked our first camping trip of the year! we really intended to get in more camping this spring, before it got too warm, but marathon training, work travel, and vacations all got in the way (in a mostly good way). we had plans last friday night in des moines, so decided we’d make a little weekend of it and camp on saturday evening somewhere between des moines and omaha. lake anita state park is pretty conveniently located about halfway between des moines and omaha and is only a few miles off the interstate. we weren’t able to make a reservation online as holiday weekends require a 2-night minimum, but we had no trouble getting a walk-up, non-electric tent site upon arrival ($11, cash only, exact change).





after securing our spot, we dropped off a few items at our campsite and then headed to the other side of the lake for the “beach area.” we chose lake anita over a couple of other options because we wanted somewhere that had a beach/swimming area as we wanted to lounge in our ridiculous two-person floatie that we got last summer at lake manawa. there was indeed a beach/swimming area, however, it was much, much smaller than i anticipated and we felt absolutely ridiculous blowing up and using our floatie. (didn’t stop us, but we felt ridiculous). it is super shallow in the swimming area and frankly, the water was kind of gross, but the weather was perfect and we had cold beer, so, we adapted.




the rest of our evening was pretty low-key. since our camping plans were fairly last minute, and we weren’t 100% sure we’d get a spot, we opted not to bring our camp stove or any of our own food with us this time, so we headed into town and picked up a sandwich and a few snacks for dinner/dessert. once back at our campsite, we began our prayers to the camp gods that our neighbors (a family with three toddlers to one side, a group of 10+ twenty-somethings with motorcycles and lots of booze to the other side) would not totally ruin our experience. we went for a leisurely walk around the lakefront trail, (attempted to) set up our new eno couch, did some of the NYT crossword, and had whiskey and oreos (a decent smore’s stand in, tbh) around the campfire.





we slept decently and got up around 7 or so and decided to take a ~2 mile walk into town to check out the local cafe. we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and crappy diner coffee before making the walk back. on the way back, we discovered a nature trail that we thought might be a shortcut to the park — it wasn’t much of a shortcut, but it was much more scenic, and we even stopped for a little swinging session at the playground nearby.
we packed up pretty soon after we got back from breakfast, as some rain and storms were just starting to roll in. overall, we really enjoyed lake anita — it’s a very easy drive from omaha but still felt like a nice getaway. it’s a fairly no-frills park, but perfect if you’re just wanting to relax for a night or two, or if you have your own boat/kayak/canoe that you can haul there. at $11/night and no day-use/park fee, camping is especially affordable here. we’ll definitely be back another time!

camp: lake anita state park
eat: the weather vane cafe
gas/ice/wood/snacks: casey’s general store

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nyc, part two

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a few more photos from our nyc trip last month…sunday was the first day after #jonas; we woke up and were amazed at how clear the streets and many sidewalks were already. it was still a bit of an adventure to get around, but it was a sunny, beautiful day and tons of people were out and about. we decided to make the most of it and get to a few areas we hadn’t seen yet. we ventured down in hopes of visiting the world trade center area and memorial, but a lot of it was closed off due to construction and the weather. we checked out trinity church and walked down wall street instead, eventually ending up down in battery park so we could see ellis island and the statue of liberty!

we had explored greenwich village a bit the day before, but wanted to see it sans jonas, so we headed back up that way and got our new york pizza fix at joe’s. obviously, there are a million pizza places here and everyone seems to have their opinion, but we thought this place was pretty legit. thin and foldable and very little seating. after lunch we ventured to the giant REI store and shopped around a bit there, then bar-hopped in the area and watched the football games. (we really liked fool’s gold). when we were ready to head back to our hotel, the weather was still nice, so we made a walk of it, and ended up at the ginger man for dinner and a nightcap.

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the one bonus to our flight being delayed a full day is that we had part of an extra day in the city (monday). we were able to store our bags at the hotel and decided we’d spend the morning checking out a few more spots. we headed uptown to spanish harlem to have a bialy at hot bread kitchen, an ethnic bakery within la marqueta. from there we went west and walked through columbia’s campus – so pretty, so ivy. after exploring the columbia area, we walked back towards downtown along the west end of central park, then hopped on the subway for a few stops and then checking out the cathedral and the library, before grabbing lunch near our hotel and starting our trek to the airport.

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such a fun trip and although it changed our plans a bit, it turned out to be kind of fun to be there during the epic snowstorm! i can’t wait to go back, hopefully in the summer next time!

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nyc, part one

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I think it’s safe to say we had a pretty epic trip to NYC a couple of weeks ago.

on friday, our first full day in the city, you wouldn’t have even known a blizzard was coming. It was 40+ degrees and sunny and chilly but overall quite pleasant. our hotel was just a couple blocks away from grand central, so we popped in there for a cappuccino, grabbed bagels from a nearby shop (which turned out to be our favorite, after trying two others over the weekend), walked up to see times square, and then to the southern end of central park.

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we did a little bit of shopping (aka we did not come equipped with proper winter coats, so both of us ended up buying one there…turned out to be a good investment), grabbed a few treats from milk bar, and then headed downtown for a late lunch at momofuku noodle bar. we probably had over 100 restaurants pinned to a google map that interested us, but eating here was at the top of our list, and one of our few “musts.” we got the classic momofuku ramen, some pork steam buns, and their take on a kale salad, and all three were fantastic.

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post-lunch, we headed back to our hotel for a bit to relax and recharge (literally…NYC drained our phone batteries like whoa), and a couple hours later, took the subway over to the greenpoint neighborhood in brooklyn to check out a few bars. first, we went to TØRST, a minimalist bar specializing in unique, higher ABV beers. we loved that you could get different size pours of each beer (5 oz, 8 oz, 12 oz), so we were able to try a few each. and the best part was that almost everything on tap was from the east coast, so it was all new to us!

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#flannelfridayforever

from there we headed just a few blocks down the street to brooklyn brewery. here, you buy “tokens” at the door in increments of $5, which you then use to redeem beers at the bar. unsurprisingly, this turned out to be one of our favorite places of the weekend – we loved the open, warehouse feel of the brewery, and ended up hanging there for a couple hours. we tried a bunch of different beers, but a favorite was the greenmarket wheat.

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after the brewery, the weather was still decent, and we felt like walking off some of our beer, so we headed down towards the williamsburg bridge and decided to walk across (we’d planned to do the brooklyn bridge, but we weren’t up for walking that far then, and never made it back over there). I am terrified of heights and especially bridges, but I was determined to have the experience and make it across. as you may know, there’s a dedicated walking lane on this bridge, and I actually felt pretty safe and secure the whole time. being able to see manhattan all lit up like that was totally worth it!

once we got across the bridge, it had started to snow lightly, and we were starving. we pulled out our phones and realized we were really close to katz’s deli, which stays open late on weekends and was another must on our list. you just never know what to expect from places like this that are so hyped, but holy pastrami, it was amazing. (probably also contributing to the amazingness was our level of intoxication). we split a pastrami sandwich (on rye, with mustard) and an order of latkes, and were in heaven. i’ll have what she’s having, indeed.

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we weren’t quite ready to call it a night yet, so we headed over to mcsorley’s, widely considered to be the oldest Irish tavern in NYC. here, there are two options: light beer or dark beer. lots of cool memorabilia on the walls here, and bartenders that feel like they walked straight out of another era. we sat in the window here and watched the storm start to pick up, and ended our night with a walk back to our hotel.

and then came Jonas.

but that didn’t stop us! we had reserved cronuts from dominique ansel for saturday morning, and there was no way we were missing out on those. the subways were still running, so we headed down to soho. these guys were totally worth the trip. (and the bakery had a great window for watching the snow fall).

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after pastries we braved the elements for awhile and walked up to NYU and washington square park — we couldn’t see much, since the snow was blowing everywhere, and most of the buildings were closed, but we did our best.

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once we had enough walking, we took the subway to the upper east side and made a quick lunch stop at dean & deluca, and then were on our way to the Met. we thought it would be a good day for an indoor activity, but by the time we got there, they had decided to close early, so we only had about an hour or so to see the museum. we checked out a few areas that interested us, plus the special exhibit on Egypt, and were on our way again. can’t wait to go back and explore more next time.

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then it was back to our hotel to regroup. by this time, most of the city had shut down – all museums, all broadway shows, and quite a few restaurants. we stopped by a newsstand to pick up some snacks in case we weren’t able to find dinner anywhere later that night. we relaxed at our hotel for awhile, and then got this bright idea that maybe everyone else assumed SNL was cancelled and that we should go because we would probably definitely get in. so we walked – well, basically skied – the mile over to rockefeller center and arrived just as the nice NBC man was announcing that the last standby tickets had been given out. oh well, we tried. we called around to see if any nearby bars/restaurants were open, and ended up at judge roy bean public house, where we had burgers and beers.

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and then came one of my favorite parts of the weekend. the mayor had issued a travel ban earlier in the afternoon, so there were no cars on the road, save for a few police cars and other first responders. we turned onto madison avenue to find tons of people walking in the streets, taking pictures, playing with their kids, having adult snowball fights, you name it. it was pretty magical, i gotta say.

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good night, Jonas! part two coming soon.

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california, part 2: santa barbara + ventura.

So it’s been over a month since we’ve been back from our trip to California and I’m just getting around to sharing more of the photos…June was a whirlwind (but fun!) month, to say the least. One of the things I love so much about where I grew up is that you can get to so many other places within just a few hours, making for countless day trip opportunities. Santa Barbara has always been one of my favorite coastal cities, and Kevin had never been, so we decided to make a day out of it before heading south to Ventura later to meet up with Jolie. It was pouring rain for the majority of our drive, which made for a stressful trip, so by the time we arrived we were good and ready for some food and a drink! We grabbed a seat at the bar at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., tried a couple of beer flights, and ordered a pizza from a nearby shop.

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After lunch we headed over to the Santa Barbara Mission. I’ve been a few times but this was Kevin’s first California Mission visit! It was still raining so we didn’t do much exploring but enjoyed checking out the museum, gardens, cemetery, church, etc. All of the missions are gorgeous in their own way but I’ve always really liked this one, and it was fun showing Kevin around!

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After exploring the mission for awhile, we headed back down the 101 to Ventura. We spotted a brewery right off our freeway exit so we decided to check it out! It turns out they had just opened a couple days earlier! All the staff were super friendly, and we really liked all of their beers!

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After trying out some beers at Topa Topa, we met up with Jolie at her apartment and ate and drank our way down Main Street – sangria and pizza at Cafe Fiore, beers in mini boots and pulled pork nachos at Saloon BBQ, and a dessert trio with wine at Paradise Pantry. Everything was delicious, and I loved getting to experience downtown Ventura – such a cute area and super walkable! Of course, the highlight of the evening was getting to spend some quality time with my bff.

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We spent the night at Jolie’s and got up early the next morning to head out for a beachfront run – it was a little humid, but otherwise perfect breezy running weather, with gorgeous views!

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A great overnight trip filled with lots of delicious food and drinks, ocean views, and time with two of my favorite people in the world!

A few places to check out if you find yourself in Santa Barbara or Ventura:

santa barbara: figueroa mountain brewing co. | lucky penny | old mission santa barbara
ventura: topa topa brewing company | cafe fiore | saloon bbq co. | paradise pantry

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twenty-eight.

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I’m so behind on blog posts documenting our summer travels and life lately, but I had to squeeze in a birthday post before life gets in the way and I turn 29 ;) We celebrated my actual birthday last week with a dive bar crawl with a few friends. It was simple, fun, cheap (why don’t I drink more crappy beer?!), and apparently 28-year-old hangovers kind of suck. This past weekend, we celebrated just the two of us with an overnight glamping trip to Slattery Vintage Estates, a vineyard and acreage in Nehawka, NE, about 45 minutes from Omaha. We sampled some Nebraska wines in the afternoon, enjoyed a bluegrass concert and wood-fired pizza in the evening, stayed in one of the four adorable bungalows on the property, and woke up to a cool breezy morning and a three-course breakfast. Definitely my kind of camping. We had a great time, and I highly recommend it for an overnight getaway or a special occasion (we hope to go again in the fall when it’s cooler!).

I have to admit, I wasn’t psyched to turn 28. It sounds silly, but 27 was an overwhelmingly positive year in my life, and I wasn’t ready for it to end! (I also like the idea of being in my “mid-twenties” a little bit more than being “basically 30”). But alas, 28 is here and I’m holding my breath that it brings just as much happiness as 27. Cheers to a new year, and below, a few more photos from last weekend’s adventure.

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