USA

New Years Eve in Texas

The last day of 2016 took us to two new places: Houston and Austin, Texas. Technically we pulled into Houston late the night before and slept in a Lowe's parking lot, but we woke up in Houston and that's what counts.  

When we left New Orleans early due to a guaranteed rainy New Years Eve, we drove 6 or so hours to get to the east side of Houston, where it rained all morning on us anyway. 

We only had one thing on our agenda in Houston: go to Crossfit Uncontested for a workout. This particular gym is co-owned by an incredibly inspiring double amputee athlete whom I follow on Instagram. I really wanted for us to meet Zack Ruhl since we were rolling through Houston. 

But of course, as luck would have it, he wasn't there and we never got to meet him, but we did get to meet the other co-owner Warren Randle and do a workout with him. He was such an incredible host to us. We were the only ones there except when his buddy Mo came by. 

That's Warren on the right, and I'm next to Mo who builds bad ass custom bicycles in Houston. 

That's Warren on the right, and I'm next to Mo who builds bad ass custom bicycles in Houston. 

After the workout I knew we had to eat BBQ in Houston so I asked the guys where they would go if they only had time for one epic meal in Houston. 

Best BBQ in Houston

Next thing you know we are loading up in Warrens Jeep in the pouring rain and he is driving us into the city for lunch.

You can just tell this is going to be good! 

You can just tell this is going to be good! 

I'm pretty sure Warren ended up driving us to Triple J's himself because, well, it's in the hood. This was some legit, downhome barbecue made by a bunch of southern brothers. They were busy too!

I think we all had the tender pork ribs (best ever!), savory green beans, and  BBQ beans. Warren made sure we got their 2-layer sweet cream cake that reminded me of carrot cake and was definitely not keto. 

Let's go to Austin, baby!

Warren made our morning in Houston perfect and we left for Austin feeling good and ready to see our friends for a New Years Eve party.

Claire is always the life of the party! 

Claire is always the life of the party! 

Our old friends Claire and Danilo bought a house in Austin about a year ago and were hosting their first NYE party with neighbors, coworkers, and two sets of California friends (that includes us, even though they didn't know they were having us over until the last minute).

Even MIA had a party hat.  

Even MIA had a party hat.  

A quaint group of about 30 people who became new friends, tons of unique food, clear skies, a forest bonfire in their backyard, sparklers, a proper countdown to midnight, and Fireball shots (none for me thank you) and I'd say we had an incredible New Years Eve!  

Happy New Year 2017! 

Happy New Year 2017! 

It felt so good to spend New Years Eve with people we love. Originally we wanted to do it in New Orleans just to experience something different. We never do stuff like that. But since it didn't work out, I'm so grateful we were able to connect and spend time with Claire and Danilo whom we haven't seen in years. 

Start the year with yoga!

The first day of each new year is significant to me, even if only symbolically. But energetically I find that it's important to set the momentum off in a positive way.

So Nick and I began 2017 with a 2-hour yoga practice at Eastside Yoga here in Austin completing 108 Sun Salutations with their community.  

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It rotated through five teachers, in a packed, well-lit room. We were sweating and moving in unison, breathing in unison, and all sharing a space that held the spirit of our individual commitments to loving ourselves fully in the new year.  

For me, it got really challenging in the last 6 of the 108 salutations. Mentally I was ready to be done, and I could tell already that my shoulders would be sore the next day. But up until the end there, I was focused and feeling good! I'm so proud of Nick for joining me and being a strong neighbor who never gave up or even took a break. 

A small sample of funky Austin artwork on a pillar outside the yoga studio. 

A small sample of funky Austin artwork on a pillar outside the yoga studio. 

Happy New Year all! To repeat what one of the teachers said several times during the 108 salutations, "No one is more deserving of your love and affection than you are." 

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48 hours in New Orleans

I've always dreamt of visiting New Orleans. In my 20's I envisioned being a part of Mardi Gras celebrations and partying with people from around the globe. Seeing New Orleans in my 30's, sober, and as one of many roadtrip stops, I'd say it was a completely different experience than expected.

We decided to try as many unique New Orleans dishes as possible and basically ate our way through the city.  

We stayed at Pelican RV Park in what appeared to be a rough area of town, next to train tracks and below a couple of overpasses. But the manager was quite possibly the nicest guy in the whole city.

We wasted no time hitting the town on our first night and went to Frenchman Street to see some live jazz at Maison. This was my favorite part of our trip to Nola. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers were so smooth, there were live tap dancers, and the vibe was warm and welcoming. 

The next day, our only full day in the city, we spent on foot exploring the French Quarter like any good tourist would do.  We ate Beignets and Po'Boys. We visited the VooDoo museum and the VooDoo Authentica shop.

Oddities at the VooDoo museum. 

Oddities at the VooDoo museum. 

I can't help but say that the tourist appeal to VooDoo in New Orleans is weird and overhyped. The museum was small, overcrowded, and unorganized. But because VooDoo is a critical part of New Orleans history and the fact that the museum is cheap ($5) and somewhat educational I still say it's a must-do for tourists. We both agree that the shop wasn't worth making any special arrangements to visit though.

VooDoo museum on Dumaine St in French Quarter of New Orleans.

VooDoo museum on Dumaine St in French Quarter of New Orleans.

Nick and I (and MIA dog) did some serious walking around. We toured through Jefferson Square and saw the towering statue of Andrew Jackson, our 7th president. He is memorialized here for being the Major General in the last big battle of the war of 1812 that fended off the British from seizing New Orleans and the land gained in the Louisiana Purchase just a decade prior. I guess this historical monument held a little more weight with us after having recently visited his hermitage in Tennessee.

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At least 4 times during the day, as well as once the previous night, we passed by an entire brass band playing loudly for a crowd on the street. Like little pop-up jazz concerts, these guys would be rocking out and drawing huge crowds! And sometimes the music also brought out the local crackheads for the ultimate experience in people watching. 

This dude was flip flopping all over the place while the band played. 

This dude was flip flopping all over the place while the band played. 

Have I ever mentioned that people watching is our third favorite hobby? Well, New Orleans is right up there with Venice Beach, California.

And then we walked down Bourbon Street.  

Hello Southern Vegas. How's it goin Vegas on the Bayou. What's up Alcohol Slushy Shit Show.   

I'm glad we were there in the daytime on a random weekday, because I can only imagine the senseless debauchery that goes down there on big party weekends like New Years Eve. Every other business was a bar playing louder and louder music. There were alcohol slushy shops selling yards of guaranteed hang-overs every block. Bouncers were hustling the passerby's to get more business. Beads were falling from the balconies, and it's still 3 months until Mardi Gras.

After a quick siesta at the trailer we returned to Bourbon Street that evening to get fresh crawfish at Sinner and Saints, Channing Tatums restaurant. Sadly we got there too late and I didn't even get to see Magic Mike in person. Lame.

In our search for an alternate restaurant we passed by the row of Bourbon Street strip clubs only to find people grinding in the street in an X-rated fashion. It wasn't quite 8:30pm yet.  

The next morning, December 30th, turned out to be our last morning in Nola. We wanted to stay for Dick Clarks New Years Rockin' Eve and see Panic at the Disco play in Jefferson Square but the weather forecast was calling for 100% chance of rain over New Years Eve. Neither of us wanted to be there for the festivities bad enough to risk being miserably cold and wet. 

So we headed to the cutest neighborhood ever, the Garden District, for the greatest donut of my life . I'm not exaggerating.

Banana cream awesomeness at District Donuts Sliders and Brew

Banana cream awesomeness at District Donuts Sliders and Brew

We heard that no trip to New Orleans would be complete without visiting a cemetery. They are all built upward due to the fact the city is built on a swamp and coffins would flood causing them to surface during heavy rains. The ones near French Quarter threatened to be particularly crowded because of the famous dead people housed there, so we opted for Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. 

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Grey, stormy skies added to the creepiness of trying to find the oldest dead person on our stroll through the city of the dead. Several were buried here in the early 1850's. And many graves were completely trashed. 

The engraving stone caved in and fell. It appears this tomb holds a number of children.

The engraving stone caved in and fell. It appears this tomb holds a number of children.

Sad that we didn't get to try crawfish before leaving N'awlins to head west toward California, we took a recommendation to stop for dinner in Lafayette at Crawfish Town USA. 

Being a tourist!  

Being a tourist!  

Not only did I try crawfish etouffee, I learned how to pronounce it!

Someone once told me that crawfish is the poor mans lobster. I get it now! 

Someone once told me that crawfish is the poor mans lobster. I get it now! 

I realize we missed a lot on our quick visit to New Orleans, but am leaving feeling complete. We had an amazing time exploring and getting a glimmer of what this city has to offer. But it's time to move on.

California or bust! But first: TEXAS!

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Wrap Up- Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice event 2016

Wrap Up- Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice event 2016

Nick and I had extreme swings in emotions during the event. Almost entire paradigm shifts. I'm going to be honest here: we spent the first few days in delight and the last few days completely disenchanted.

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Kundalini Yoga -Winter Solstice Celebration. Camp- arrival day

The theme for this years Winter Solstice is:

Understand through compassion, or you will misunderstand the times.

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you.