Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

At about noon yesterday, Mike and I were going a bit stir crazy having been hunkering in our tiny (yet resilient!) apartment for close to 48 hours.  We put on our rain jackets and boots, then ventured outdoors to assess the damage in our neighborhood.  We were not alone: throngs of people were walking the sidewalks, squinting at just a hint of sunshine peeking through the rain clouds.  

The Upper East Side of Manhattan fared incredibly well - somehow the raging winds spared almost every tree and our block did not experience any flooding.  We slowly walked east, towards the FDR and East River, which we knew was underwater the day before.  It was eerie to see this thoroughfare completely empty, except for the occasional police vehicle that appeared to discourage people from hopping into the middle of the street to take photos.

We know how lucky we are to have power and no damage.  Most people we know in other neighborhoods have no power.  Our subways and trains remain at a standstill.  Residents of Hoboken are trying to evacuate, as their food and water supplies are dwindling.  But I woke this morning to the loud sound of sirens and honking cars, a sure sign that our city is beginning the long road to recovery.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Crema

She's gone.  There are pockets of blinding sunshine peeking through the last hours of Hurricane Sandy's thick rain bands.  We are no longer hunkering down in the soft leather of our couch, praying our windows will be able to sustain the whirling, deafening winds.  The morning light revealed that we are safe, our windows held tight, and we have a highly coveted commodity in our region - power.

As we wait for the damage to be fully recognized and for our days to return to their normal, hectic pace, now is the time for comfort and thankfulness.  It is the time to check on our family, friends, and neighbors.  It is the time to lend a helping hand or warm meal to those who need it most.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Colorado: Day 7: Boulder Beer & Avery Brewing

We were both incredibly sad to wake up to our last day in Colorado.  After so many relaxing days filled to the brim with sunshine, good food, and delicious brews, we were reluctant to return to our hectic lives in Manhattan.  A hearty breakfast at Walnut Cafe helped ease the pain a bit, as we sipped coffee under skies threatening rain - the first overcast day since venturing west.  Boulder Beer was our first brewery stop for the day and we sampled their beers in the pub before our tour began.  It was fun, and somewhat unusual, to see people actually working during the tour, as most breweries seem to schedule tours during non-working hours.

Later that afternoon, we ventured to Avery Brewing, the last stop of our Colorado brewery tour.  The tour was fairly quick and we could just get a glimpse of the brewers hard at work.  Mike, naturally, struck up a conversation with one of them, trying to guess the type of hops they were adding to the boiling liquid.

We ate dinner at a local restaurant in downtown Boulder, quickly realizing we were not only in a college town, but in a college town on Parent's Weekend.  As dinner drew to a close, I choked back tears, so very sad to see our vacation end.  But there was little time to be upset - just shortly after leaving the restaurant, Mike began having an allergic reaction to the root beer he ordered with dinner!  Thankfully, after a few hours, his reaction subsided, his fever broke, and he was able to fall asleep.  The next morning, we quietly drove through the damp, dark morning, en route to Denver to catch our flight to the east coast.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Colorado: Day 6: New Belgium Brewing & Boulder

On our sixth day in Colorado, we woke on the early side to have breakfast and pack the car for the trip to the last leg of our vacation. There was just enough time for one last stop for coffee from Victoria's. Then we hit the road, crossing our fingers for no traffic so we could make our 2:30 PM tour at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins.

We arrived with time to spare and were happily bumped into an earlier tour time slot. This gave us just enough time to gawk at the impressively large building and for Mike to grab his first beer in the tasting room. I also discovered the tap of fruity seltzer water they had on hand for children and designated drivers.

The tour began with history of the company and a taster of Red Hoptober. We ascended the staircase to the main brew house and gasped at the beauty of the space: the high wood ceilings, the large windows with views of the Rockies, the mosaics around the  brew kettles, the mini-bar complete with tap handles just for tour groups. We have been many brewery tours and would be reluctant to describe the majority of brew houses as gorgeous. Perhaps beautiful in their own chaotic way. But this space was immaculate.

The tour continued on to a room called the "Foeder Forest", a room filled with casks (foeders) used for making sour beers.  Mike was speechless, his blue eyes wide with child-like excitement.  I sipped the tasting of the sour beer (3 times, as instructed) before deciding I didn't love it, and handed it over to my more than willing fiancĂ©. Mike tried to affix himself to one of the foeders, but the tour pushed onwards.

We toured the grounds, seeing the bottling and canning facilities along the way. Mike and I both developed an appreciation of their impressive business model, Mike even more so as he slid down the indoor slide.

We ditched our plan of heading to a second brewery, electing instead to spend the afternoon outside, playing rolly bolly (what Mike describes as "the most perfect game for drinking ever"). We asked our tour guide for recommendations for our trip (honeymoon!) to Belgium. We ate lunch from the Waffle Lab truck, sat outside, and basked in the fresh mountain air.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Colorado: Day 5: Hiking the Maroon Bells

On our fifth day in Colorado, we woke up in a pleasantly chilly room, with the window open to let in the fresh mountain air, and the uncommon luxury of having absolutely no plan for the day ahead. We smiled and said good morning and tried really hard to think of the last time we had both felt so rested - we couldn’t come up with an answer.  In the past few nights we had readjusted to a much more natural sleeping schedule, between being outside and active all day and then having no distractions to keep us up for extra hours at night.  

I put on my fuzzy blue fleece to go pick-up coffee from our favorite coffee shop in Aspen - Victoria’s Espresso.  I carried home an americano and black coffee for Mike, a flat white for me, and a scrumptious cheddar-chive scone for us to nibble on while Mike cooked up a hearty plateful of thick bacon and crispy fried eggs for breakfast.

After breakfast, we curled up on the couch to read for a few minutes, before discussing what we wanted to do with our day.  We decided to take advantage of another picture-perfect day in Aspen and the fact that our bodies felt better than expected after rafting and rock climbing and head to the Maroon Bells for a hike.

Even the sign that renamed the location the “Deadly Bells” couldn’t keep us from setting out on a hike to Crater Lake.  The views were breathtaking, as were the many steep hills.  How perfect it was to spend an afternoon together with just the crunch of the rocks underfoot, and our steady, but not continuous, conversation.  We were certainly some of the youngest people on the trail, but often found ourselves stepping out of the way for the much older, much more seasoned locals.

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