October/November Odds & Ends

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Not your average bridal party: Nicole’s bachelorette party in Durham was a weekend of cider tasting, axe throwing, and… showing the mechanical bull who’s boss (or not). If you’re in the triangle area, Urban Axes is a unique activity when you’re looking to try something a bit off the beaten path.
  • Portrait mode and a new DC rooftop bar: My iPhone 7 was wayyyy past its prime. It didn’t take calls, make videos, or take selfies (dropped it face-down in El Chalten…) I debated internally about the iPhone 11 vs 11 Pro for days. Yes, the cameras are ugly. No, I don’t need three different lenses on my phone camera. Ooh, that mint green color… I ended up springing for the Pro since its screen size is smaller. That said, the Pro still doesn’t allow me to reach all the way across the screen with my thumb. #firstworldproblems

I am happy with the photo quality straight off the camera, and find myself reaching for my Olympus less and less. Is it the end of an era? Portrait mode and this performance in low light is a game changer:

  • Oasis Texas Brewing Company: I expected Texas in October to still be boiling. With my luck, a crazy storm rolled in the week of my work trip and grounded me in ATX for an extra night because DFW Doesn’t Function when Wet. After the storm, it was colder in Texas than in DC!

On the plus side I had great weather during the days I actually had to explore Austin. Hanging out at Cosmic Beer Garden, dropping in to Black Swan Yoga on Classpass, and watching the Lion King remake with Eric’s roommates was all so fun! But, the highlight? This sunset.

View of Lake Travis and the terrible Mexican restaurant that apparently seats 2,800 people, making it the largest restaurant in Texas (everything is bigger… )

This literal oasis is ~45 min away from downtown Austin and doesn’t even look like Texas. I highly recommend taking off an early afternoon to get there for happy hour at the brewery (Wed-Fri 4-6pm). They charged me a 40% fee forgetting to close my tab at the end of the night, but the experience (and brussels sprouts) were totally worth it.

  • Hawksbill Mountain, Shenandoah National Park: Our second annual Georgetown house church retreat was in a mountain house in Massanutten, VA (don’t ask us how that’s pronounced). It’s in the middle. of. nowhere. We nearly got trapped between a locked gate and a dead end on unlit gravel road on our way down. But, on the way back, some of us drove through Shenandoah National Park along Skyline Drive. We were able to do a quick jaunt up to Hawksbill Summit, the highest peak in the Shenandoah:

The $30 entrance fee to Shenandoah National Park is by car, so I highly recommend carpooling to do Skyline Drive or any hikes along the ridge.

To take the 2.8-mile Hawksbill loop hike, park at the Hawksbill Gap Parking lot (NOT “upper hawksbill gap parking) and take the short connector to the Appalachian Trail. Don’t do what we did and accidentally get on the Upper Hawksbill Trail on the descent! We ended up walking an extra mile on the side of the road from a different parking lot than where we started… oops.

For a shorter (but steeper) hike, you can take an out-and-back hike straight up to the summit from either lot.

  • Scott’s Run Nature Preserve: Some of us were actually supposed to hike Old Rag a few weeks earlier, but then the Nats won the World Series (which was a B.F.D.) Crowds make me anxious and I didn’t watch a single world series game (shh…) so I passed. But the weather that day was too beautiful to be cooped up inside! I wasn’t going to attempt Old Rag alone, so I ventured out to Scott’s Run for a short hike to this waterfall. All the foliage on the ground covering the trail and less-than-clear trailblazes tested my navigation abilities.
  • West Coast, best (?) coast: LA as a whole isn’t my style, but I’d love to go back to Santa Monica! More broadly, I want to road trip up and down the PCH. Read more about where I ate and played during my trip to LA: From Work to Play.
  • Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich: the bold move by Louisiana fried chicken chain that sparked national debate… Chik-Fil-A or Popeyes? My vote (and 80% of y’all, according to my Instagram poll) – is CFA. I’ve seen all sorts of rubrics and grading scales out there, but here’s my main takeaway: Popeye’s fried chicken is better fried chicken. CFA’s chicken tastes better on a sandwich.
  • Prison videos: This month’s YouTube rabbit hole is thanks to Jessica Kent, who tells a fascinating (and eye-opening) story of her experience giving birth while in prison for drug dealing. Don’t worry, mom and baby are both fine now and she’s found a new calling for herself but her videos are fascinating! Can’t. stop. watching.

On my Nightstand:

  • Winter in Paradise – Elin Hilderbrand
    • an airport impulse purchase on my way to LA. What’s better than reading about the beach while you’re at the beach?
  • On Managing Yourself – Harvard Business Review
    • a gift from my career coach at work
  • Conde Naste Traveler: The Island Issue
    • as if my wanderlust needed to be fueled anymore
  • The Last Resort – Marissa Stapley
    • every trigger warning that exists applies to this book. It’s a psycho-thriller mystery masquerading as chick lit. I was known in college for reading entire novels in one sitting, and this is one of those books I just couldn’t put down.


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