Happy day one of 2024!

I haven’t blogged in FOREVER. My previous day job had me at a computer, writing and editing all day long. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my work day writing and editing only to then turn on my personal computer and keep doing the same thing. However, I have a new job now and it will be much more conducive to blogging inspiration.

Another factor is that living in Texas, there is a hell of a lot more sunshine every day than there was in Seattle. I cannot be cooped up in my house all day on a computer. I must take advantage of all that abundant sunshine when I can.

Basically, I haven’t been motivated to spend time on this platform.

One of my resolutions for 2024, is just this, to write more and get my creative juices flowing again. So here I am, day one of 2024. To begin this new era, I present to you, a quick recap of my 2023, complete with some awesome business shout outs.

Street Parking

https://streetparking.com/

Hi, former CrossFitter here. After my CrossFit gym in the Seattle area had to cease regular operations, I didn’t really want to join another CrossFit gym. I did try out another, but it wasn’t the same. I missed my old gym too much. I started the Sweat app and worked out at an Anytime Fitness. After COVID hit, I moved in with a friend who had gym equipment, and started working out in the garage. The Sweat app is really awesome but it was missing something for me.

My friend Heika introduced me to Street Parking. I’ve been hooked ever since. Once I moved to Texas, my first friends in the area were from the Street Parking Facebook page. I love the community that Julian and Miranda Alcaraz have created with SP and the app offers so much for only $20 a month.

Do you you have a New Year’s resolution to start working out? Do you have basic equipment or even NO equipment? SP has you covered. You’ll become part of a tremendous community of individuals all sweating their @$$es off in their own homes. I also won their summer giveaway, and holy cow, y’all – what I won is insane.

I won two tickets to the Rogue Invitational in Austin, a $500 Rogue gift card and Rogue barbell of my choosing. To top it off, I also won 325 lbs of Rogue competition plates. Crazy right? I have been trying to save up money to build out my own garage gym. With a poof of an email saying I won, now I have my garage gym! Talk about manifestation.

Left to Right and Top to Bottom: SP meetup at the Austin Spartan Sprint Race, an SP workout meetup, meeting the founders of SP, Julian and Miranda at the Rogue Invitational, and my giveaway winnings.

Excalibur Brewing

26510 A Border St, Spring, TX 77373
https://excaliburbrewing.com/

Kyle and I have been Excalibur Brewing mug club members for just over a year now. The employees and fellow mug club members have become good friends. Jeremy brews some of the best beer in Texas. He offers an incredible variety to choose from, including hard seltzers. There is something for everyone, I promise you that.  Between his staff and the quality of the beer he continues to produce, it keeps us coming back. My poor acting skills were also featured in their Extoberfest 2023 social media advertising campaign. 🙂

Click the image to watch the full reel!

Texas Wines

It’s no secret that Kyle and I do love to indulge in wine on occasion. Before I moved to Texas, I went on a Texas girls wine trip (check out 11 Things to Do in Grapevine, TX). I can’t remember all the local tasting rooms and wineries we visited this past year, but I’ll list some of our favorites below (in no particular order).

It surprises many of my non-Texas friends that the Lone Star state has an incredible wine country. Kyle and I can’t wait to visit Texas hill country again and keep exploring all the wine this state has to offer in 2024.

Wineries and Tasting Rooms to Visit
  • West Sandy Creek Winery in Richards (they have animals!)
  • Newsom Vineyards (their tasting room closed in Tomball unfortunately – THANKS COVID – but you can still visit them in Comfort, TX. May I recommend the Inception Blend, it’s fabulous.)
  • Bernhardt Winery in Plantersville (we go here often for concerts, wine and a picnic. It makes for a perfect weekend activity.)
  • Envy Wine Room in Old Town Spring (such a fun place for food and wine tasting)
  • Notes in Old Town Spring (black-owned and woman-owned)
  • Das Peach Haus in Fredericksburg (absolutely beautiful place to sip unique wines)
  • H-Wines in Montgomery (you can’t beat Texas + French wines combining together into one venue)
  • DeepRoots Vineyards in Plantersville (beautiful location, great wine and fun concerts)
Left to Right and Top to Bottom: West Sandy Creek Winery, downtown Fredericksburg, Bernhardt Winery and DeepRoots Vineyards

Concerts and Concert Venues

Kyle and I saw a lot of shows in 2023 and in going back through my Facebook posts, not one concert was in the same location. I am in my mid-40s now and have discovered I definitely prefer smaller concert venues.  The smaller venues feel more like an intimate show and there seems to be more of a connection with the artist versus the large stadium shows.

Our 2023 Concerts
  • BLS and Anthrax at Bayou Music Center in Houston
  • Joe Bonamassa at The Saenger Theatre in New Orleans
  • Nita Strauss at Scout Bar in Houston
  • George Strait, Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town at the Nissan Pavilion in Nashville (the venue and time of year was our least favorite. The artists were fantastic, but we were late to the concert because of horrific traffic. It was also so hot, it felt like 110 degrees inside the stadium. However, we had a mini-Seattle friends reunion and floor seats, so I’ll take the good with the bad. To be honest, I will probably not go back to Nissan Pavilion for a concert ever again, especially in the heat of the summer)
  • Staind and Godsmack at COTA Circuit of the Americas in Austin
  • Corey Taylor at the House of Blues Houston (probably my favorite venue)
  • Alice in Chains and Guns ‘n Roses at Minute Maid Park in Houston
  • Blackberry Smoke at the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival in Conroe

We already have Corey Taylor in San Antonio booked for February 2024 (please play Unsainted!). We are keeping our eye on https://www.bandsintown.com/ for more! I’m looking at you, Pennywise (please play a show in Houston)! I need to see you for the 20 millionth time (exaggeration but not really hahaha). Kyle also gifted me with a Pearl drum set for Christmas. Now I can continue my drumming journey. Never too late to start sucking less at something, right?

Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Black Label Society, Joe Bonamassa, Staind and Godsmack, George Strait, Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town

Neutral Buoyancy Lab

https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/neutral-buoyancy-laboratory/

I know this one seems a bit random to include, but it’s something I had the chance to experience in 2023. I’m going to do a whole separate blog post on the NBL. I should have done it awhile back, so now it’s going to get multiple mentions. I randomly had the chance to connect with Jim Fuderer, a commercial diver for NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL). The dude has opened my eyes to all the cool jobs that exist out there that you may not even know about.

Did you know you have a job as a diver training future NASA astronauts? I first learned about the NBL in 2022 when I attended a NASA Artemis media day.

Jim gave some friends of mine an incredible opportunity to tour the NBL this past summer. We also watched a future astronaut in training. I’ll write more about this in a future blog post, but for now, check out what the NBL does to prepare astronauts for spaceflight on their website.

Peru and the Amazon Rainforest

In August of this year, I went back to Peru for the second time. This time to celebrate my best friend Mishana’s 50th birthday.  You can read about my first trip to Peru in 2019 here. We once again used our friends at Conquer Peru to help set up the trip.

Mishana Turns 50

I have known Mishana for over ten years. Being able to celebrate her 50th in Peru was the mostest specialist day ever. Almost twenty years ago, Mishana found Peruvian stamps with “National Reserve Allpahuayo-Mishana” on them. It’s the only time she has ever seen her name anywhere. The reserve was established in 2004 to protect the diverse forest types in the area. This includes the rainforests on white sandy soil and watercourses that provide drinking water to the city of Iquitos. On her 50th birthday, we visited National Reserve Allpahuayo-Mishana. The locals treated her like a princess when we told them her name was Mishana and that it was her birthday.

Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Inside the Mishana Reserve, Yagua tribe, tuk-tuk, at a Peruvian distillery.
Exploring the Amazon Rainforest

We spent the majority of our week in Peru with no internet, cold showers and power that was shut off at night. It was always hot and muggy. I also got the sickness on our last day (yay for getting sick on a travel day). It was definitely an adventure and I am so thankful for the experience.

We met the most incredible human beings on the planet. Our guide introduced us to the Yagua tribe. Mishana and I tried our mouths at blow darts with a punaca.  We ate some of the best food ever prepared by personal chefs. Animals were everywhere, from sloths to pink dolphins. Bucket list – we fished for piranhas in the Amazon River and then ATE them. We went hiking at night in the Amazon jungle to search for creatures. Her and I climbed on suspension bridges to the top of the Amazon canopy and more.

Left to Right and Top to Bottom: The piranhas I caught and ate, holding an anaconda, high above the Amazon canopy, my first time on the Amazon River.

Those are the big things I wanted to share from 2023 for now. I’m looking forward to this new year and I hope I put forth the effort to blog more. Some of the things I’m looking forward to in 2024:

  • Friends coming to visit throughout the year
  • Exploring San Antonio (something I have yet to do)
  • The Total Eclipse on April 8th
  • Visiting Destin, Florida for the first time for a wedding
  • Celebrating my birthday in Kauai (maybe, if I can afford it!!)

Take care everyone, and I hope I keep the motivation to share more this year!

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