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Travel

With three nationalities just in my immediate family, I was born with traveling in my genes. Now, as an adult, I still value the travel lifestyle. Besides just having an innate curiosity about the diversity of beauty on this planet, I also believe traveling connects me with humanity and pushes me to further levels of self-development.

Midwest Tour

It was in the very last leg of our trip– literally the last 15 minutes– that we heard the song that could have been the theme to our last week.  It came to us over the airwaves of NPR, no surprise to those of you who know Tyler.  In case you’d like to take a listen, here is the song so you can sing along while you read.  (Believe me, one needs only to hear the chorus once to join right in.)

Last week Tyler and I crossed the Midwest a couple times over to recruit for our alma mater (Tyler’s job) and visit family (a nephew’s birthday party).  I will admit that we probably didn’t truly experience the entirety of the Midwest, but we visited cities I’d never seen, so I feel entitled in saying my Midwest experience has been broadened.  We started in Marion and headed west to Kansas City, then down to St Louis, back east to Marion, then further over to Detroit.

Tyler has long since touted the superiority of Kansas City– his birthplace– so I was eager mildly interested (let’s be real) to see this place.  In the end, I was not nearly as enamored. However,  I did have The Very Best Ice Cream in their downtown and so I’d say it was a winner overall.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!  Let’s start at the beginning….

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A Walk in the Park

Due to a week of intense traveling, we failed at our blogging commitment. We present to you this evening a belated post that should hold things over til we update on our trip.

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Two weekends ago we took a day trip to Indianapolis to return a rug to Urban Outfitters.  (Don’t anyone tell Tyler this, but I’ve discovered all of our recent trips to Indy have been to return items.  I have hatched a plan to start buying things online anytime I need a little city fix!)  I was sad to see this particular rug go back, but I did keep two others that I’d snatched up on a super sale.  Rugs are one of my biggest house weaknesses.  That and chairs, as you know.  In fact, Tyler just asked me the other day if living in a mansion would overwhelm me.  Um… no.  All those rooms to fill with rugs and chairs?!  Bring. it. on.  I think this disturbed him, but fear not Tyler Murphy! We’ll likely never live in a mansion.

So back to the weekend trip.  This post really has nothing to do with the furniture, store, or city.  It mostly has to do with getting out of the house, driving somewhere with the windows down,  and spontaneously deciding to enjoy the onset of fall in a city park.  Here are some photos from our thoroughly enjoyable day.

The ever changing landscape of an Indiana farmland drive.  Check out the clouds!

 

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Howard County Fair

My husband knows me well.  And that leads to some stellar date nights.  This summer, he surprised me with an evening planned around the Howard County Fair.  Complete with a roadtrip there through the corn fields.

cornfield fair drive

Now, don’t jump to conclusions and think you know me well now too.  A fair in and of itself is not really my thing, although the fact that every town in the Midwest seems to have it’s own fair famous for something does fascinate and amuse me.

The great, wonderful, and spectacular thing about this fair was…. a Beatles concert at the end. Groovy.

The Beatles are one of my all time favorite bands.  I like to say that while my friends were growing up with the Backstreet Boys, I had the Beach Boys… and all their contemporaries.  My dad’s tastes rubbed off on me in many ways, and music is an obvious one.  Unfortunately, I will never hear them live, but I can shamelessly admit to enjoying a good cover band.  Roll your eyes or chuckle if you will, but I don’t mind those dated costumes or awkward haircuts.  As long as they play my rock and roll.

And you should know by now that the Murphmans both love food.  So we wisely spent our pre-concert fair hours wandering the premises and searching for that elusive commodity– The Perfect Fair Meal.

We ended up deciding on treats both new and old…as they say, one is silver and the other gold.  Pictured here is our complete, totally nutritious (um, ok) delicious meal.  Tyler’s favorite Crazy Fries and my Pork Parfait.  Yeehaw.

I think the Crazy Fries were finished by the time the Pork Parfait (at a different food stand) was finished being assembled, but… who’s keeping track, right? We took what was left of our dinner and went to find a place on the wooden bleachers where we’d have a good view of the stage but also an easy exit.  In case the concert was unbelievably disappointing.  Which I was convinced would not happen.

Lucky for me, my faith was rewarded.  It was great.  The energy on stage.  The enthusiasm of the crowd.  The way music unites across time and culture.

There may have been a tear shed.

Unfortunately, we were so swept up in the moment, we ceased to snap iPhone photos of the night.  I guess it will have to remain mysterious… like all good memories are in a way.

HM Road Trip- part three

Finally, we were on our way to Miami!  It wasn’t too far of a drive from Tampa Bay– just across the state horizontally– so we took our time in the morning and rolled on in to the Miami area mid afternoon.  Of course, at this point in time this girl needed to do some shopping.  We’d been in the car for three days now.  THREE!  And shopping is a recreational activity of sorts for me.  An opportunity to exercise both self control and my walkin’ legs.  A stress reliever.  A mood booster.  And lucky for me, the largest outlet mall in the country happened to be on the way.  (Ok, it was really “on the way”… insert exaggerated quotation marks… but Tyler graciously acted as though it were right next door to our resort.

But guys.  When I say this is the largest outlet mall, I mean the LARGET outlet mall.  EVER.  It was so overwhelming I don’t recall actually purchasing anything.  But don’t worry.  We went back a few days later after resting up and replenishing our shopping reserves.  We walked away with just a few things…

Since we stayed in Miami for a whole week before starting on the road trip back, there are a lot more events (though none are shopping!) to cover.  Not to mention all the delicious meals we ate and found worthy of iPhone documentation.  So to help this post along, I’ll try to just hit some highlights.

We had dinner one night at The Rice House of Kabob.  If you think this dish looks dry, it kind of was.  Still tasty though, and seemed authentically ethnic which was odd since it was also promoted as a very standard chain restaurant.

We spent an afternoon at the zoo.  It was my pick as top honeymoon excursion, which I always feel the need to apologize for or explain away or minimize when I tell someone.  But hey… it was where I wanted to go.

We went out one night to a brazilian steakhouse, and felt utterly out of place snapping away with our phone, so here’s just one awkward shot of me pretending to toast Tyler.  Oh and by the way, the food was delicious. Divine.  And for once we were good about eating until we were satisfied, instead of stuffing ourselves silly.  Which probably made us look like a couple of rich kids who didn’t know the value of an all-you-can-eat steak buffet.  But we do.  We just also know the value of going home and still feeling good an hour later.

We were staying at a resort in a spacious condo, which allowed for cooking some of our own meals.  It also allowed for going out and enjoying their pool or other amenities.  Like miniature golf.  Clearly… I’m a pro.

It is at this point in time that I must interrupt and state that I have realized all these photos are of me.  IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I promise I would love to share the spotlight, but Tyler– totally uncharacteristically– took over the photo-snapping on the honeymoon.  It’s also his iPhone, so that played into it.  Just please excuse the lack of man photos!

Another evening we ventured into a different part of Miami to eat at Shake Shack (apparently the East Coast’s version of In-N-Out Burger) and stroll around the University of Miami’s campus.  The hot dog was delicious, but I would say it falls short of my recent California burger experience.  And since Tyler is a hardcore In-N-Out fan, everything else falls short for him.

Another fun sports coincidence encountered on our honeymoon was the coinciding NBA play-offs between none other than our home-state’s Indianapolis Pacers and our vacation destination’s Miami Heat!  Despite the fact that neither of us are huge basketball fans, we kept up with the back-and-forth games on television and enjoyed the thought that Hoosiers everywhere were jealous of our location.  On the night of the final game, we set out to watch the action over dinner at a local bar.  We were quickly cured from our momentary insanity though when we drove by the packed parking lots of potentially indubitably rabid Heat fans.  We opted instead for a quiet meal at a nearby Mediterranean place.  Yummy hummus and yummy dishes.

Because we had pretty rainy and cloudy weather during our Miami stay, we opted for some fun indoor events on the off days.  One of our  favorites was seeing a 3D movie in the IMAX theatre.  It was Star Trek, and while I was initially hesitant, I was pleased in the end. Tyler was sold from the beginning.  (Excuse the poor photo quality here!)

And because I feel like this post is starting to drag on, here is a large deposit of photos… you get the idea of what we’re doing!  Mostly me… eating!  First the barbecue place, then the oreo and milk in the parking lot, finally a famous Cuban restaurant and it’s famous pork sandwich and plantain chips.  (That last one was Tyler’s first place pick from the whole trip!)

And to finish, I’ll leave you with a glimpse of our one day spent in the heart of tourist Miami– South Beach.  We walked along the beach, ate organic super subs, sipped cappuccinos and savored gelato.  Honeymoon perfection.

HM Road Trip- part two

Still Day 2, we started out on the next leg of the trip.   When we arrived early evening in Atlanta, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of “being home”.  The South will always hold a special place in my heart, despite especially because of the hot and humid summers. (To be honest, even Nashville felt a bit familiar… every mile we clocked seemed to put me more in my element.)  Of course, the perfect complement to All That Is The South is a home cooked, liberally battered, and definitely fried meal.  I was craving fried chicken.

Once again, Yelp to the rescue!! And we picked out Mary Mac’s Tea Room.  Apparently this is the only tea room left in Atlanta, although there were several of its kind back in the day when women were hard-pressed to open a “restaurant”, but the term “tea room” was somehow more acceptable.  I guess that latter moniker does have a more dainty ring to it, which is why we were admittedly nervous about getting a stomach stuffing Southern meal at a place designed to serve finger sandwiches. The rave reviews won us over however– including the claim that even celebrities stop to dine here– and we went in with high hopes and hearty appetites.  Family, friends and fellow eaters…. we were not disappointed.

Here you see the layout of our meal.  The unassuming name out front, the uh-mazing sweet roll assortment brought out when we were seated, the sample of pot likker we were awarded as first time diners, and our heaping plates of made-from-scratch Southern cookin’.  My sides were a sweet potato souffle (remember when I insisted I was allergic to sweet potatoes for the first 20 years of my life, mom??) and fried okra.  Tyler’s were fried green tomatoes and macaroni and cheese.  All delicious!

And in case all this doesn’t convince you, here is a quick video of Tyler professing his love… for the fried chicken.

Day 3 took us down to Tampa Bay.  As you just heard in the video, we did stop around lunch time at a random place on the highway to buy fresh summer sausage.  (It went nicely with the cheese and crackers we had stowed away in a mini cooler- perfect for meals on the go!) It was super country; my inner accent even came out at the cash register.

We were on our way again then.  Another video to save me some time in writing and you some time in reading.

Dinner with Tyler’s parents was wonderful.  We loved the random chance to sit down and enjoy some time together after the hectic last week.  The food was not worth mentioning sadly, but the company was great.

Unfortunately, it turns out that things at the game were not to be as expected.  For any of you who follow the Sounders, you’ll know it was a disappointing (and surprising) defeat for us that night.  However, I was an enthusiastic fan and even fulfilled my newlywed duties by learning all the chants and screaming along with the best of them.  I even got shoved up under the sweaty armpit of a large, tipsy fan as we linked into a chain and all jumped up and down together.  That is wifely commitment.  And probably not happening again.

However, the disheartening defeat was sweetened when at the end of the game, the goalie walked up, ripped off his shirt, and I got to gaze at his six pack.  Just kidding.  He ripped off his shirt and gave it to Tyler!  Yes, Tyler was personally handed the jersey of one of the Sounders’ goalies.  He was excited.

And with that nasty drenched jersey in hand, we parted ways with the original Murphy couple and headed off to our hotel.  (We had been planning on camping, but with storm clouds rolling in and Tyler not able to guarantee me a dry tent, I demanded a roof and four walls.)

I mean, this was a honeymoon, right?!

HM Road Trip- part one

Tyler and I love traveling.  LOVE traveling.  In fact, if you remember our Save the Date/Christmas cards, you know we took a combined 30 flights in 2011!  This year we aren’t taking to the air quite as much, but we’ve been diligently putting the miles on our cars.

(Speaking of cars, Tyler and I have been throwing around the idea of going down to just one car now that we’re officially joining all our assets. What do you think?? Seems to work for some families.)

February took us to Chicago to meet up with our siblings and get our engagement pictures taken.

March had us heading to Peoria to see Tyler’s family for Easter.

April took us back to his parents’ again for his dad’s retirement celebration.

Finally, after quitting my job  at the end of April, I visited my parents and my sister, opposite directions to first South Carolina and then Michigan.

This catches us up to May, where Tyler and I were swept through the flurry of wedding stress bliss and then on to the HONEYMOON!  We’d decided early on to save as much as possible on this trip, in order to put those savings towards a yet-to-be-announced summer vacation.  This meant a two week road trip down to Miami and back, with a 7 night resort stay in the middle curtesy of Tyler’s generous parents and their Marriott rewards points.

HERE FOLLOWS A RECOUNTING OF THE JOURNEY:

(We’ll just dip our toes in the water in this post, covering solely our first stop in Nashville.  Atlanta and Tampa Bay will be next, and our time in Miami last. I also feel like this is a good time to warn that… our whole trip did revolve around food.  We’re the Murphmans after all, and we like food.)

Day 1 we left late morning from Marion and drove down to Nashville.  We arrived in time to slip into The Wild Cow for dinner.  You can read the whole story on that dinner in Tyler’s review on Yelp.  Yes, he was impressed enough to write a review.  Here’s a compilation of awkward  iphone pictures.

wild cow collage
Day 2 we went for a short hike at a park, and stopped for a little honeysuckle snack along the trail.  In case you haven’t been privileged to enjoy said snack before, here’s a little educational video.

Next we headed to a delicious hot dog stand that we once again found on Yelp.  And not only were they HOT DOGS (just my favorite Tyler-unapproved food ever), but they were served out of a VW bus! An actual. volkswagon. bus. I was in heaven.  And the cherry on top… it is called… I Dream of Weenie. I love the show I Dream of Genie.  (Can you guys see what a match made in heaven this was?! I seriously claimed it as my favorite part of the trip when people asked me on our return. And I don’t even care how lame/weird/concerning that is.)  We followed that up with homemade ice cream– of course– but won’t burden you with the jealousy that would ensue should we post a photo of that.

andjustonemore. because i have to.

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We decided to try and walk off that lunch with a stroll around the neighborhood, looking for our signature souvenir.  (Tyler and I started a collection of bowls last summer when we were in Guatemala, and we’ve been adding to it with every trip since.)  Although we weren’t too optimistic, we hoped there might be a little art shop in the area that sold a ceramic dish or something.  We were in luck!  A few blocks down, we found a collection of small stores, and one of them held the treasure we sought.  Really truly regrettably,  I don’t remember the name of the shop or the country from which the bowl originated.  I do remember that it was a really cool place– selling all fair trade or hand made goods, mostly international– and that we scored a real steal with the hand-carved wood bowl(s?) pictured below… only $18!

Here Tyler posed me with the neighborhood sign, so that we could forever remember the purchasing origin of our find. (Although… since this has three bowls in one, and we didn’t have the time to search for bowls in the next two cities, we decided to let this one symbolically count for Nashville, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay– the three cities on the trip down.)

On our way out of town that afternoon, we swung by Dave Ramsey’s recording studio.  Since he and Tyler are besties (just kidding.. but we did spend an inordinate amount of time listening to him on our honeymoon over the course of our whole relationship) we thought it would be good to see if 1. he was in and we could listen to a live recording, and 2. if we could perhaps become the live recording.  Sadly, he was not in.  Disappointment!! But in leu of giving our debt free scream on air (read more about our journey to becoming debt free here), we decided to do a debt free picture.  And obviously, that weird position I’m in = “zero debt here, people!”

Well, folks– (and that’s pretty literal, as we are only expecting our parents to be reading the blog at this point..)– that’s it for the first installment.  We needed some real R&R after the wedding, and we got off to a great leisurely start!  One last photo to corroborate that : )