Category: Vacations!

NYC Trip Day 3: An American in Paris

Day 3 of my New York trip was pretty simple. I had a rough time getting to sleep the night before because my cold was coming on strong and I normally have a hard time sleeping. Well, I slept in ridiculously late which Megan was kind enough to let me do.

Then we enjoyed a leisurely walk down the Manhattan streets.  It wasn’t too cold during our trip but it could be quite windy which made it feel colder. Given the winter they’ve had we certainly brought some good luck with us because at least it wasn’t snowy and freezing. P1050863 My favorite thing in New York is all the flower stores.  They are so beautiful and I love how they have different than just the ordinary boring flowers I can get in the suburbs and at low cost.

flowers

We then had delicious New York bagels! Nothing quite like them and we talked about books and movies and had a lovely time.

2015-03-13 13.00.05 Megan had an appointment with her editor that afternoon and I rested at the hotel.  My only regret on the hotel is that it didn’t have a hottub or pool.  That would have been very nice especially on my poor feet which got the beginnings of an ingrown toenail I had to work on.  Ouch!

toeLater that we went to an Italian restaurant that was reasonably priced and yummy.  I got chicken Parmesan and Megan got gnochi.

italianThe big event of the day was going to Times Square

2015-03-13 19.30.40 2015-03-13 19.32.54 2015-03-13 19.33.00And seeing the opening night premiere of the new Broadway musical An American in Paris!

an-american-in-paris-large-643x441It was an amazing show full of incredible Gershwin music. The story is minimal and sometimes it was a little hard to tell the actors from each other but I really enjoyed it.

an american in paris3 An American In Paris an american in paris2It’s probably the most dance heavy Broadway show I’ve ever seen.  Just like in the old Gene Kelly/Leslie Caron movie there are long stretches without any dialogue and just dance.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on dance but I really enjoyed watching it.  To me it seemed exceptional with choreography that really popped.

The sets were minimal but effective and the costuming was simple but it all worked.  There is also a very small cast with only 6 leads and a few ensemble performers but it had a big feel.  I think the music is so grand that it can hardly help but feel big.

At first I was worried because our balcony seats were so steep looking onto the stage below but it actually worked out great and we could see everything just fine.

2015-03-13 20.01.38 2015-03-13 19.57.19 So that was our Day 3.  It was a lot of fun and featured a show I won’t soon forget. Sometimes the simple days are the most fun!

Advertisements

NY Trip Day 2: Empire Falls

birchbox2So day 2 started on the late side as I had a cold coming on and had done a 48 hour marathon the previous 2 nights.  Once I was up I took uber cars over to Soho and the Birchbox Soho store.  I wanted to make the trek out to the store because I had heard about their ‘build your own box’ section and wanted to feature it on my channel.  I didn’t even know if they would let me film in their store but when I got there they couldn’t have been more accommodating.  They filmed segments for me and even gave me a free $300 value Vanity Fair special box! I’m thrilled with how the video turned out:

(Btw, if you haven’t subscribed to my youtube channel please do! I would really appreciate it)

After visiting the store and filming my video I went across the street to the Chobani Yogurt Shop and it was so yummy!  It was the best food I had in New York City.

chobaniI’m excited to try and recreate both of the yogurts I had.  It was savory on one side (Red Pepper, Harissa,  Feta, Mint, with Olive oil and chips to dip it in) and sweet on the other (Pistachio, Chocolate, sliced oranges, mint and honey).

Just the combination of flavors and textures was so delicious.  I can’t wait to recreate it.  A whole new world of yogurt!

After brunch I headed home to meet up with my sister Megan who took the train up from DC.  It was so nice of her to come up and spend some time with me.

flowers selfie We had a delicious lunch of the biggest salad I’ve ever eaten and then decided to go to the Empire State Building for the evening activity.  It was fun but a bit of a letdown.  The lines were so long and just to get to the 86th floor cost $32.  My feet hurt so bad by the time we got to the top and it was so hot in the waiting areas that it wasn’t my favorite.  I also hit my lip with my camera going through security which ended up bleeding more than you’d think!  Probably the only person to injure herself in line for Empire State Building.

You can see the cut above my upper lip.
You can see the cut above my upper lip.

That kind of standing and walking is really hard for me now and if I’m looking for what is ‘fun’ it will always be at the bottom of the list.  And vacations are supposed to be fun right?  But it was nice to spend the time with Megan and catch up and the view was pretty great.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One thing I noticed about all of NYC is there are very few benches. Even by most of the bus stops there is nowhere to sit and rest. This was a major bummer to me but I guess it is the reason why it is the ‘city that never sleeps!’. No benches to sleep on!

So I finished day 2 having a good time but a little frustrated and sore at the same time. Birchbox Soho, Megan and the yogurt made it all worth it!!

NY Trip Day 1: RHAP Know it Alls 2

Well, I’m back from New York and I’m afraid I’m sick as a dog but I will try to get up some posts about my recent trip to New York City!  I had a blast cold, sore feet and all!

It started Tuesday night with a red eye flight starting at 11:30 western time and getting in at 6 am eastern time.

bye slc

The flight was ok.  I was able to get an upgrade and fly first class both ways which makes the world of difference (I don’t know how I’m going to go back to wedged in coach!).  I also had my cool sky ready kit with all you need.  I highly recommend getting one when you travel.

skyreadyI slept a little bit on the plane but not much and certainly not deeply.  But I did finish our book club book called Wonder which I thought was ok (I know other people love it but I thought it was kind of corny and didn’t love all the narrators but it was fine).  Eventually we landed in New York and I was excited to get going…

Well, it started out kind of rough with me losing my wallet.  I’m not sure what happened but my best guess is when I went through security they rearranged my stuff in different bins and I must have left it there.  Luckily my ID and Amex were in my backpack or it would have been a disaster. So I called the 2 cards I had in the wallet and got them cancelled when I got to the airport.  My phone was running out of juice so I had to buy a charger and find a corner to plug it in and call the companies and try to find out where the shuttle pick up was.  It was extremely confusing because the signs said ‘airport shuttle’ take the air train to Fredrick Circle or something like that.  I went all the way to the other side of the airport and it turned out it was the spot for the hotel shuttles not the type that I got.  I was so tired with no sleep and frustrated at my wallet but finally I got to the shuttle.

Unfortunately the driver was a madman and was zooming through alleys and around town and I was so close to throwing up.  I opened the window to get some air but it was big city air and I was beginning to feel like Homer in New York City vs Homer Simpson.  The city was out to get me!

thecityofnewyorkvs-homersimpson5_thumbA very tired weary creature I made it to the hotel and it was a nice affordable place called The Row in the Theater District of Manhattan.  My only regret is not getting a place with a pool/hot tub which would have been nice but it certainly filled the bill for my needs.  Once I got there I crashed for a few hours before the festivities started in the afternoon.

hotel
At the hotel

I also got breakfast ordered in and that was delicious.  Great thing about New York is you can have anything delivered.  That would be so nice.

Yummy breakfast delivered right to my hotel
Yummy breakfast delivered right to my hotel

Then around 4 I met up with the other Rob Has a Podcast (RHAP) patrons that were attending the event.  Here’s where it started to get fun.  We went to a bbq place ( I know bbq is not what you think of in NYC but it worked out) and it was so great visiting with everyone.

Here we are at the bbq place.  There were probably 40 of us!
Here we are at the bbq place. There were probably 40 of us!
brianne
Made a new friend in Brianne from Washington DC who is originally from Utah and also LDS

It kind of warmed my heart to meet such great people in something as random as a podcast gathering.  It can be easy to be cynical of the world and all the problems.  All you have to do is watch the news and it can feel like we are all going to Hell in a hurry.  But then you have moments like this where you see that there are lots of great people out there trying to live good lives and all it takes is something as silly as a podcast to bring you into a kinship with them.  The truth is we aren’t as different as we sometimes think and it was a nice reminder- especially with what a rough day I had getting there.

We then went to Gotham Comedy Club and got ready for the big live Survivor Know It All’s event.

know it allsThe club was different than I had imagined.  I thought it would be like a theater but it was more tables and chairs and they had us jammed packed in.  My only regret of the night is there wasn’t enough time to mingle and meet everyone.  I have friends I’ve gotten to know through the patron group who I wasn’t able to meet which was a bummer.  Next time it would be nice if it was more like a cultural hall kind of space where you could mix and mingle and get around to everyone but it was still really fun.

There was a 2 drink minimum so of course that means 2 shirley temples for me! (No alcohol in STs just in case you were wondering.

shirley templeThen we all watched the episode together and during the commercials Rob Cesternino (the Rob of Rob Has a Podcast) made different announcements and we got to see his wife Nicole, last seasons winner Natalie (and Miss Survivor winner) and Mr Survivor winner Spencer from Survivor Cagayan get his belt.

nicole rhap
Rob, Nicole and Stephen Fishbach
miss survivor
Natalie Anderson getting her Miss Survivor crown
belt
Spencer getting his Mr Survivor championship belt
rhap2
Stephen and Rob doing the podcast

Then Rob and Stephen did the podcast and some in the audience had a chance to ask questions.  There were a whole bunch of former (and one current) Survivors in the audience and they particpated in the podcast as well.

Once the podcast was over we had to clear out pretty quickly which was a little bit of a bummer but I got the chance to get some photos with some Survivors.

spencer
Here I am with Spencer and Brice from Survivor Cagayan (one of my favorite seasons)
rob
The man of the hour Rob. So fun to meet this great guy!
twinnies
Got to meet the twinnies! Nadiya and Natalie who were on the Amazing Race for 2 seasons and Survivor 29. Natalie was the winner of that season.

It ended up being a really fun night.  After the club wound down we went to another club but I was so tired at that point (I had been up for basically 48 hours!) and my new friend Karen helped get me an Uber ride (what a find that service was) and I went home.

So with all the junk in the 48 hours I had been through it was still worth it to have a unique experience, with some great people and I was glad I took the leap and went on the trip. Worth it!

When I got back to the hotel I got a stramboli which was actually one of the only unhealthy things I had during the trip.  Seriously it was one of my most healthy New York trips ever!  It was delicious!  Great way to end the day.

stramboliStay tuned to the blog for day 2, 3, and 4.  In the meantime ‘Achoo!’ I’ll be sneezing away as I recover from this illness.  Take care!

Tampa Trip Day 3-5

So I am back in Utah and I think you can tell it was a great trip because I only found time to post once very quickly.  I was having too much fun!

Day 3-

This was Sunday and Kim had gotten us tickets to a Rays/Red Sox game.  It was nice to have one day away from the beach (only one) and we rooted for Boston.  There was even a fight! 😉

Play ball
Play ball
The fight! Cleared the benches
The fight! Cleared the benches
Always like a good hot dog
Always like a good hot dog
Kim, the red sox fan at the game.  I became adopted sox fan for the day!
Kim, the red sox fan at the game. I became adopted sox fan for the day!

When we were driving home it started to rain, thunder, lightning and hail.  You can see it in the trip video below.  For the next 3 days it rained but always on our way back to the house, so it was perfect timing!

Each night we got home around 5 and we ate dinner and watched a movie.  We viewed Frozen, Tangled, Emperors New Groove and Return to Me!  So fun.

We also had a ton of laughs over a Mormon romance novel I brought with me that was pretty bad. See description below.

beach11

Yes, he smelled like rootbeer…So romantic.  It was very funny.

So, there were a lot of laughs and also some heart to hearts.  Kim and I had been friends in high school but she wasn’t one of my best friends.  After 17 years of not seeing each other and being from different parts of the country, religions, and everything else I wondered if we would have anything in common, but we had lots.  It turns out we had both been through similar career struggles.  We had had bosses that made us nuts and anxieties to deal with as working women.  We both shared dating struggles and being single.  We both had lots of memories and had a similar sense of humor.  We both love New York and love the beach.

It certainly is another reason to be grateful for facebook.  Kim and I had reconnected during the election because we are both fiscal conservatives and needed some political venting (she lived in NY at the time).  We would chat on fb and I had inquired about staying with her in New York some time.  Then she told me she had moved to Tampa.  Being the nice person she is she invited me to stay there and being the bold, without boundaries person I am I said ‘let’s do it!’.  Most people would probably shrug off an offer like that as being polite but I just had a feeling to go for it.

So many times in my life I have been benefited by not worrying about being polite or following some idea of normal behavior and this is certainly one of them.  I’m glad I didn’t worry about what someone’s ulterior motives might have been and took her at her word.  I think we are both glad and it will be the first of many such visits.

Day 4 and 5-

Monday and Tuesday were pretty simple- beach, beach, beach, beach.  All together we went to Madeira, Passe de Grille, Honeymoon Island and Fort De Soto.  Passe de Grille was my favorite because of the closeness of the beach to the parking and the cute little town.

beach18 beach14 beach13 beach12 beach10 beach9 beach8 beach7 beach6I feel blessed.  Blessed to have seen God’s beautiful oceanic creations and even more blessed to have made what I know will be a life-long friend.

At least to me vacations should remind you of why you work everyday and how perfect before starting a new job to remember the potential for happiness that lies in my heart.  It’s a good day to be Rachel Wagner my friends.  A new job, new opportunities, beautiful memories, great friends and a happy heart.

I’ve done my fair share of complaining on this blog and I want to let you all know that never have I been happier than this moment right now. 🙂

This video is a little bumpy so I don’t know if you will enjoy it but it shows how beautiful a trip it was and how much joy it brought me.

Tampa Day 1 and 2

Hello from Florida!  (Almost said Aloha but wrong beach!).

I don’t have long to write this morning but I just wanted to say hello and let you know I am having a great time in good old Florida.  Getting here took me 2 days and was miserable but it was all worth it for the beautiful beaches!  The sand is white, the water is turquoise and warm as bathtub water.  The company has been great and I’ve just had a blast!

I will include more details in my next post but this should give you some flavor.  Hope you all have a Happy Memorial Day weekend.  🙂

beach day1c day1b day1a day1

A Nonworking Vacation

DefaultRGB

Wednesday this week I am going on vacation!!!! Like a real vacation.

I am not exaggerating when I say I haven’t been on a real vacation since Japan in 2005.

I realize I’ve been a lot of places during those years including Hawaii three times but each time I was working at least at a minimum level.

Anytime I see my folks I end up working because my Dad is my boss. I’ve usually brought some checks with me, written wires, checked emails the whole nine yards.

My problem is letting things go that only I can do.  I never have had a sub or back up so if it needed to be done I had to do it.  That is hard to let go.  One time my boss told me ‘get off the phone and enjoy Hawaii!’.

It’s a problem many Americans are having.  See article

But not this time! My work responsibilities for Poler are minimal and can be done by other people while I’m gone.  My roommate is kind enough to get the mail and make deposits.  My supervisor and Dad are taking over wires and checks so that’s taken care of.  And as far as my new job goes it hasn’t started yet so no worries on that front!

2 of my Hawaii trips I was actually working and going to school so that was interesting.  My first trip I tried to get people to fill in for me but it was a disaster and I had to do an entire team project in 3 days or fail the class (sigh…).

Last year I got pretty close to real vacation in the trip to Disneyland but I still did some work and I will probably still check my email on this trip out of habit more than anything else (plus it goes to my phone so kind of hard to not check it)

Anyway, I’m very excited to be taking a true vacation and to a place I know very little about.  I never thought about going to Tampa or traveling to Florida but my high school friend Kim was kind enough to invite me and probably to her surprise I accepted.

She’s taking time off from her job and has purchased tickets to baseball games and other activities.  Thursday we are going to Harry Potter World in Orlando!

Mostly I am greatly looking forward to the ocean.  I love the ocean.  The first time I went to Hawaii was one of the toughest times of my life.  I was so unhappy and I went to the North Shore and called my Dad the day I was to leave and cried my eyes out.

It had been so beautiful and going back to the cubicle dungeon of my life seemed to much.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have been sad and thought of my beloved North Shore and felt happy again (I even have it featured in artwork above my bed and in my office).

I love the sound of the beach.  I love swimming in the beach. I love reading and then swimming and then reading.  I love wearing floppy hats and big sunglasses soaking up the sun and hearing the wish-wash of the tide.  It is heaven.  Last year I got to spend one day in Seal Beach, CA and realized that was the truly happiest place on earth not Disneyland!

I also hope to just relax, maybe go to a movie or two, watch the Survivor finale, go to good restaurants and have a great trip!

How fortunate I am to be in this position to take a trip.  I am so grateful for my friend for having me and to have the resources to travel.  I am also grateful that I planned the trip, accepted the invite and am making the effort to go.  It was such perfect planning right before starting my new job.  I could never have known it would work out that way but it worked out great!

I’m so excited to have a non-working vacation and hopefully I come back to you more tan than burned and full of great stories of my trip.  I will update the blog while I’m away but there will be a gap in videos.

If any of you have been to Tampa and have some suggestions let me know.

To travel!!

TAMPA mural

Speed Dating and Sisters

Tonight I am exhausted but wanted to give you an update on my last weekend.

It all started on Friday with my most recent 8 at 8 singles activity.  I was expecting  around 15 people and to my shock 56 people came.  I felt kind of bad that I wasn’t more organized but luckily everyone was easy going and the restaurant was very good to us (especially because I had been confused over the reservation).  I am also very grateful to a girl in the group named Carly who took a leadership role on the activity and saved the day. I still can’t believe that so many people came!  Who knew speed dating would get such a crowd?

speed dating 3 speed dating 1 speed dating 2

Saturday and Sunday I spent with  my sisters Megan and Anna.  Meg was in town for the weekend on a special discounted airfare from a an airline called allegiant airlines.  I think her ticket was around $100.  Just as a point of contrast my last ticket to California was nearly $400, so its a tremendous bargain.

Sometimes I think the small breather of a trips are the best and most refreshing.  Doesn’t give you enough time to be sick of each other and you don’t have to do as much bending to change work, school and other schedules around to accommodate  visitors.  We kept it pretty simple but went to my favorite bakery Bake 360, watched Best in Show and then Sunday took a walk on Draper trail, taking a photo by the dinosaur a resident has in their backyard (random I know).

meg and I anna and meg bake 3602

One last update, I have been having success in my work and in preparing for Slam the Dam.  I feel confident in both.  Just today my boss said I was a ‘lifesaver’.  It meant a lot to me especially given I was gone for so long.  The other great thing was that I truly took a vacation and hardly worked at all for the 10 days I was gone.  I haven’t done that in nearly all my adult work-life.  I’m not exaggerating with that statement.  When I worked for JWA I worked so much my boss had to tell me to get off the computer and enjoy Hawaii.  The same when I was doing the rentals full time and definitely true when I worked for Grabber.

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful for my past work experiences.  Far from it.  I’m just grateful to Poler for allowing me to take a real break from work.  It may also be that I am learning to let go and relax a little more but I doubt it?  Either way, I’m grateful for my job.