Tokyo

I recently returned from a week-long trip to Tokyo, Japan where I served as a chaperone for a group of freshmen students learning about international commerce in Japan. Our schedule was pretty full, but the structure allowed us to visit 7 different companies, take a city tour and still see plenty of the city in just a week’s time. It was a great introduction to Japan and definitely piqued my interest in seeing more of Asia…

The following statement is obvious, but traveling with a group is quite different than traveling solo. Some of the benefits of group travel include built-in tour guides who ensure everyone is accounted for and all transportation needs are taken care of. Group travel also has the benefit of included meals and prearranged breakfast buffet vouchers, reducing the amount of time and stress necessary to track down and the process reimbursable receipts. One of the downsides is having to follow the same schedule as everyone else in your group. Traveling as a chaperone adds a whole other layer of responsibility and accountability. Luckily we had a great group and the entire experience was incredibly positive.

It was my first visit to Asia and my first time being so obviously a foreigner. In Europe (especially Germany) I’d often pass as a local, until I opened my mouth and tried to speak their language of course. In Mexico and Central America I didn’t necessarily fit the traditional look of the locals, but it was either assumed I had some passable Spanish or maybe people just didn’t care if I spoke Spanish or not and treated me as everyone else. I don’t know what it was about Japan. Maybe it’s that the Japanese people are so polite and conscientious they immediately assume you need an English menu so as not to cause you discomfort when you have not clue what a single Japanese character means? Whatever the case people went out of their way to help serve and elucidate me during the trip.

As I mentioned the week was packed with company visits and pre-arranged activities. We arrived in Tokyo late Sunday night and were up early Monday morning for a city tour. We drove through most of the city stopping first at Meiji Jingu, a beautiful park littered with shrines and temples. While we were there we witnessed a traditional Japanese wedding in progress. Next on the list was the Imperial Palace. There wasn’t much to see as the bridges to the palace are closed off all but two days a year (the Emperor’s birthday and New Years Day), but the water and bridges were perfect for pictures. Next up was Asakusa. A packed neighborhood with lots of options for shopping and dining. We had more time here to walk through the dominant temple overlooking the area and through the winding streets. Our final stop of the tour was Ginza, the trendy shopping district. We stopped here for lunch (most of the students indulged in sushi, but I had to stick with tempura due to preggo restrictions). I also spent a little time wandering through the 10 story Uniqlo and came away with a cute pair of lounging pants. The rest of the afternoon and evening were free. I did a lot of my sightseeing and dining with the other chaperone, Jen over the course of the week. We decided to venture into the quaint, if somewhat seedy, Golden Gai area where we had a fantastic Japanese/Korean dinner in a restaurant that seats max 6 people.

The next day led to our first company visit- Pasona, a progressive staffing agency with an emphasis on sustainability. The company is housed in an incredibly innovative and beautiful building that includes living walls and plants growing from all orifices. We spent the afternoon touring the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The company visits were (mostly) interesting, but the Edo Museum was much more up my alley. Our large group was broken into four smaller groups and we were able to spend 2 hours learning about the history of Tokyo. Our guide focused mostly on the Edo period and only briefly touched on the Meiji Restoration leading into the 20th century, but I found her tour and the museum fascinating. That night Jen and I visited Shibuya- known as the world’s busiest intersection and a place I heard described time and time again as the Times Square of Toyko. The street crossing is pretty impressive, but the scene was a little young (lots of high school age looking kids hanging out in the square and surrounding shops). We headed to Harajuku to check out the famed shops and found a nice little spot for dinner in that district.

Wednesday brought more company visits (Coca Cola and Dentsu) and a gorgeous dinner at a restaurant on the top floor of a building in the Ebisu area. A much calmer setting than the area immediately surrounding our hotel. Thursday continued with visits to Toyota and Rakuten, but that evening I convinced Jen to attend a local baseball game with me. We decided to stay local and ventured a few stops from our hotel to see the Tokyo Yakult Swallows play the Yokohama BayStars. I knew a little about Japanese baseball from our friend Sachi, but it was so entertaining to see a game in person. The fans are very dedicated. When we purchased our tickets the first thing they asked was home team or visitors? The stadium is divided by fans and the hardcore ones come ready to cheer (literally) all game long. There are drums, there are cheerleaders, there are special chants for each player. There is even a special song and dance (with coordinated umbrellas) that occurs every time a run is scored. Refreshments are bit different than those you find in the states- check out my photo of the hot dog mixed plate below, but the beer flows and they even have girls running up and down the aisles selling beer all game. Also- no one throws their trash on the ground. In fact they collect it in bags they bring from home and deposit it on their way out. A different experience, but definitely one worth checking out whether you’re a baseball fan or not.

Friday was our final day of visits. We saw Costco in the morning and Uniqlo in the afternoon. That night students presented their final presentations and we had a large, authentic Japanese dinner together as a group and then we went to the top floor of the Metropolitan Government Building to check out the nighttime view. It’s free to go up, but the building has quite a few lights reflecting off the windows- so not the best option for view and I only had one picture that came out alright, but you can’t beat free!IMG_5578 IMG_5590

Saturday was completely free and I took advantage of the entire day off by traveling to two smaller cities outside Tokyo, Kamakura and Enoshima. Both are easily accessible via metro.  In Kamakura Jen and I did a good amount of walking checking out a number of temples and shrines before making our way to the famous Great Buddah statue. Some of the spots we visited were calm and peaceful- a great escape from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. The Great Buddah however was a crowd pleaser and covered in tourists- including many a monk decked out in orange robes with a selfie stick. From Kamakura we took another train out to Enoshima so I could put my toes in the other side of the Pacific and so that Jen could enjoy a heaping bowl of fresh seafood (note to self- go back to Japan when you aren’t pregnant so you can eat and drink all the food you missed out on this time around).

The week flew by and all the sudden it was Sunday. Our flight didn’t leave until the evening so after packing up and checking out I decided to spend my last few hours in Tokyo relaxing in one of the city’s many gardens. I picked up a few last minute souvenirs on the way, shelled out the  ¥200 and spent the whole morning at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The garden is beautiful and vast, but it’s impossible to escape the masses and find a quiet corner all to yourself. I decided to give into the people watching and even got to witness a proposal in one corner of the park…which wasn’t a hard spot. A huge group of twenty or so young people were holding hands running around in a circle. A girl in the middle had a go-pro and was filming them when one guy stepped into the middle of the circle and grabbed the hand of another girl, got on one knee and popped the question. LOTS of screeching and picture taking ensued. Someone even produced Mickey ears with a veil for some more festive shots. A fun last cultural encounter before I had to make my way home.

I’m so lucky I was selected to chaperone the trip to Tokyo. I got to travel with a great group, learned a ton about business in Japan, ate some amazing food (even if sushi was out of the question!) and was able to explore one of the great world capitals. I hope to visit Asia with Dave some day. I’d like to see some of those famous beaches in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Maybe with Cara and Will heading to China later this year we can manage a trip to the far east not too far in the future:)

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Long overdue updates…

The first four months of 2015 have been a whirlwind of work and personal obligations with a jam-packed social calendar. I don’t think we’ve had a weekend “off” to lounge around and enjoy doing nothing since the first weekend in February! With all that’s been happening it’s been a LONG time between posts and we have much to cover.

Starting in early February we welcomed a slew of visitors… one after another. First we welcomed our friend Thomas, visiting from Germany. He made our place his home base while he explored LA and ventured to beach each day to surf. A week into Thomas’ stay Mathieu came to LA to escape the freezing winter in Montreal. We also got to see another Berlin friend, Artjom, who was spending a few months working in LA. Overlapping with the Berlin boys’ visits we got to see Nate for a few nights when he journeyed out west from Chicago.

In the midst of all our visitors we also had the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day this year fell on a Saturday and Dave told me he wanted to take charge of the planning. He surprised me with a fabulous mini-break just a couple miles down the road in Redondo Beach. The day of love began with homemade french toast for breakfast followed by couples massages. After the pampering we drove down to Culver City and spent the afternoon touring the Museum of Jurassic Technology. A really funky and unique spot with exhibits fully immersed in the bizarre. That evening we indulged in some delicious BBQ in Marina del Rey, before retiring to Portofino Hotel for the night. The next day we spent lounging at Manhattan Beach, hanging out by the pool and enjoying some tasty seafood at Captain Kidd’s before another relaxing evening at the Portofino. The next weekend we helped Maddie ring in her 24th birthday with games and Max City at her swanky new apartment.

After a week driving around AZ, Vegas and CA our international friends made it back to LA and we had an extra day with them before they flew out. A few days after saying good bye we celebrated Dave’s 30th Birthday with a seafood dinner and drinks in WEHO. I surprised him with 30 balloons and 30 of my favorite things about him. I also booked a quick weekend getaway at a beachfront hotel down in Oceanside. We spent the weekend rotating between the beach and the rooftop pool before hitting up the Stone Brewery in Escondito for a tour, a tasting and some dinner on the way home.

Mid- March we spent a long weekend in Arizona at Gina’s house catching a few spring training games and cheering on the Dodgers. We drove out on Thursday afternoon and saw games at the Mariner’s stadium, Dodger’s stadium and Giant’s stadium. It was a quick trip, but the weather was great and we had a lot of fun checking out the different complexes and teams.

The day after we returned from AZ it was time for our second rush of visitors- this time the ladies. First we welcomed Jamie (out from Chicago) and hosted her for about a week while she was doing research in the area. The So Cal weather didn’t disappoint and she got to spend some quality time by the pool and lounging in our hammock. A few days after Jamie departed Emily and Lea flew out for a mini-Logger reunion. We did a lot of eating and laughing and even made it out to brunch with another former 2214 roommate, Lauren. The weekend with them flew by, but will get to see them again soon in Wyoming when we celebrate Emily’s nuptials this summer!

The onslaught of visitors departed and all the sudden it was April. I’ve said this before, but April is hell month for admissions professionals. This April was especially overwhelming given the recent turnover of staff in our office. I won’t go into the tedious details, but I’ll say it was pretty stressful and I had a serious countdown to May 1st on my calendar. Luckily, I only had to travel one weekend because I was manning everything on campus so I did get a few days rest in between the crazy weeks. My one weekend away was up in the PNW- so I got to have breakfast with Jessie in Portland and dinner with Jen, Paul and baby Aerin in Seattle. Seeing friends always makes work travel more enjoyable:)

The other weekends in April were spent celebrating Easter in Sierra Madre and attending the LA Times Book Festival. We got up early Easter morning for the traditional Sunrise Service in Wilderness Park then had breakfast in downtown Monrovia. From there we spent the morning wandering through Descanso Gardens and the afternoon playing games and eating ham in the backyard. At the Book Festival we had the opportunity to see Malcolm Gladwell speak and received signed copies of his book, David and Goliath. We also saw an interview with Al Michaels and LA Times sports reporter, Chris Erskine. And since the madness of April has died down we’ve been able to make it to a Dodger’s game, enjoy some time with friends and just hang out together.

We loved welcoming all our visitors even though our quarters are a little cramped and space is soon to be at an even greater premium when we welcome a permanent guest in September of 2015!  In the midst of all that’s been happening this year the biggest and best news yet is a new addition to the Chebuske family due to arrive in September of 2015!

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We have a lot to learn and do before Baby C. arrives, but we couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to meet the new addition♥

Until next time…Daverian+1

Twas the Season

Christmas came we were so excited to celebrate the season and to enjoy a much needed respite from work. Unfortunately, we both suffered the pains of flu season in early December and it lingered long enough causing us to miss my office’s holiday party. Silver lining- we finally finished the last season of Breaking Bad and it was SO GOOD!

We had our tree up and decorated since the first weekend of the December. The past 8 years or so I’ve been following in my mother’s footsteps and collecting Christmas ornaments from most of our travel destinations so we actually have quite an array of ornaments and very few without sentimental value. This was the first year we’ve been able to combine our ornaments from the DC and Boston years with the Berlin and post-Berlin years. Opening up box after box of ornaments and remembering where each came from was nostalgia-inducing and a really lovely way to recall our adventures.

 

As a newly married couple last year we faced the difficult decision of how to divide up family time at Christmas. We opted for the fair and balanced approach with alternating holidays in Maine and California. Thus even years are reserved for the west coast and odd for the east. Dave and I both ended up having to work on Christmas Eve, but were able to duck out early afternoon and head up to Sierra Madre for some cooking baking and holiday cheer. My family ordered tamales from a pretty famous spot in LA and we had a great time sampling the variety of cheeses and sausages the Wisconsin Herlaches sent for Christmas. That night we went to church and then stopped by Kersting Court to visit the Sierra Madre snowman and nativity scene. We then drove around Hastings Ranch to marvel at the lights and then headed home for hot cocoa and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Christmas Day was relaxing, family and food filled. We made breakfast, opened gifts, called family around the country, made lunch and then played a few of the many board games we unwrapped before finishing the evening off with glühwein at Dave’s new biergarten table and a Christmas movie.

Glühwein in the Biergarten

Catan Extension Pack!
California Christmas

We had one day left in California before heading to Maine for the new year and we had a great time catching up with my mom’s side of the family over outdoor games, a walk around the Rose Bowl and, of course, MORE delicious food! On the 27th we were up bright and early for our 6am flight to Boston. We had a pretty smooth trip, even landing about 30 minutes early. Alan drove all the way down from Portland to pick us up and turn right back around. Thank you!! Maine was filled with lots of family dinners, relaxing, some pre-kitchen renovation packing and fun. We only overlapped with Cara and Will’s visit for a day so we tried to get as much time with them as possible before they took off for Florida the next morning. We also got the chance to see Anina for a few hours before she had to head out as well. It was too short, but we’re glad we got to fit in at least a few hours!

The rest of our time in Maine was also short, but we got to see a lot of our friends including drinks with Dan and Jen (in from Minnesota), a trip to Topsham to see Seamus and Melissa’s new home, a tour of Joe and Lindsey’s new home, Glenwood visits to the Hackett and Lowry houses and of course dancing with the whole crew at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge on New Years Eve.

Right before heading back west we got to spend some extra time in Boston. We had lunch with Mary and dinner with Dan and Alix before our flight. It’s always fun to return to our old stomping ground and it’s hard to say good bye to family and friends, but it’s hard to complain when we’ve been experiencing 70° weather and New England is under many feet snow at the moment.

The new year has been filled with a lot of work thus far, but also a lot of weekend fun. It’s the start of “conversion” season in admissions meaning applications are in and soon decisions will go out. Then the real work begins- trying to get all the kids we said “yes” to to say “yes” to us. On campus programming is already starting to take a lot of time and travel will kick back in in April. For Dave, it’s the end of the fiscal year in his office. As a finance guy he’s been putting in long hours crunching numbers and whatever else smart people who like numbers do. We’ve been pretty beat during the week, but had a great date night when we went to see Wicked at the Pantages Theater. Dave had purchased the tickets back in October for our first anniversary and was able to sang seats in the second row. It was pretty cool to be up so close and the actors had AMAZING pipes. Definitely a highlight of 2015 thus far!

Wicked at the Pantages Wicked at the Pantages Wicked at the Pantages

While weekdays are usually low key weekends have been a different story. We love our home and anyone following me on Instagram knows I love to brag about our back patio and view. For Christmas I bought Dave a biergarten table and we love having meals outside. We’ve also been taking advantage of our annual pass to Huntington Gardens and how gorgeous Southern California is in January. Two weekends ago my mom, sister and I took trip up the coast for a girls weekend of delicious food and wine in Paso Robles. We stopped in Solvang for lunch on the way, which is a quaint Danish village about 2 hours north of Los Angeles. We had delicious sandwiches from a trendy spot called Bacon and Brine and then indulged in (what else) danishes for dessert. Ostrich Land USA was our next stop and we coughed up a few bucks to feed ostriches and emus. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen those birds from so up close, but they’re massive and reminiscent of dinosaurs or something oddly prehistoric. From the giant birds we continued up to Paso Robles were we checked into the Paso Robles Inn for 2 nights before finding a tasty local spot called Basil Thai for dinner.

Sunday we went wine tasting all day, visiting 4 wineries, 1 olive oil production center and a walnut oil shop. We took an extended tour at our first stop, Halter Ranch, and my mom decided she liked it so much she signed up for their Wine Club. That night we had dinner at the Firestone Brewery and then went back to the hotel early to crash after a long day of drinking.

Monday we decided to drive up to Hearst Castle for a tour. Hearst Castle is a gorgeous, expansive palace set atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the city of San Simeon. It was commissioned by Hearst in the early 20th century and is a pretty spectacular collection of buildings, gardens and art. We took the Grand Rooms tour and were able to see into the living room, dining room, breakfast room, billiard room and theater. After our tour we walked around the garden for a few hours and peeked into the three fabulous “guest houses” Hearst had built for his famous guests- which included the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow, Winston Churchill and many more. He had pretty eclectic taste, but the contrast between ancient (12th century French mantelpieces) and modern (paper napkins and mustard and ketchup bottles in the center of the many hundred years old dining table) was really interesting.

Following our visit to Hearst Castle we headed down the hill and made one last stop to visit a huge pod of nesting elephant seals before starting the trek south.

Elephant Seals as far as the eye can see... Baby Elephant Seal

A great weekend with lot of quality mother-daughter time. Hopefully we get to do another girls trip in the near future!

The end of the month brought more work and a few additional fun activities. For Christmas Mary bought us tickets to the Los Angeles Bock Fest and last weekend we had a fabulous time perusing the 30+ breweries, sampling bocks and a variety of other beers from all over the world. The tickets were essentially all you can drink passes. When we arrived we received wristbands, pint glasses and tickets with the instructions to deposit them at the table of our favorite beer. At the end of the event the brewery with the most tickets would be declared the 2015 winner. As you can imagine the event brought out scores of beers most dedicated fans. We held it together pretty well, but by the end of the evening we’d witnessed puking, copious amounts of PDA and of course raucous dancing that really broke out when The Sugarhill Gang got up on stage and performed some of their classics including Rappers Delight. It was pretty crazy, but so much fun and we’re definitely planning to check it out again next year!

As a final note- Dave got to celebrate a nail-biting victory Sunday night as the Patriots finally came out the victors in a Super Bowl match up. This is the third time we’ve watched them make it to the final game as a couple and the only time they’ve won. Even though I only really care about the Packers success I’m always happy to see Dave happy and boy was he HAPPY! We had tons of delicious goodies at my parent’s house and enjoyed a tense, but ultimately happy game with them Maddie and Nikki. Next up we have some visitors coming in from out of town later this month and some more the next. We’re planning a return trip to Arizona for spring training and what else, who knows?!  All I know is that while I miss the occasional snow day living it up in t-shirt weather (sorry friends in New England and the Midwest…come visit!!) is a pretty sweet way to weather the winter.

Till next time. xoxo- Daverian

Home Sweet Home

The fall travel season is over! I’ve loved getting to travel all over the US, meeting students in all corners of the country, but am SO looking forward to getting back into the routine of home.

To recap the last few weeks of my travel schedule…I took off for Houston on Halloween day and spent the weekend interviewing prospective students. I didn’t see much of Houston other than the inside of an interview suite at the JW Marriott, but I did fall in love with a place called Central Market. It’s an AMAZING store resembling a mix between Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market and Costco- basically it’s utter perfection!

The weekend after Houston I jetted off to the freezing cold Midwest to experience my first snow of the season and interview prospective students from the Chicago area. I also took advantage of my work trip to fit in some quality family time with Jamie and David in Chicago and my Herlache family up in Wisconsin. On Friday I met up with Jamie at my hotel and then we met David and his friend at Headquarters Beercade for some drinks and catching up. I hadn’t seen David in more than 8 years so it was really nice to reconnect.

Saturday and Sunday brought LONG days of interviews, but also delicious food. Jamie treated me to her favorite Chinese takeout on Saturday and we spent the evening gorging on dumplings and cold noodles while enjoying Tangled and Ratatouille from the comfort of her living room. I also got intimate with her sweet pup, Hermione, who was relentless in her pursuit of cuddles. Sunday she treated again with the most delicious homemade posole, and tacos. My mouth is watering thinking about that meal now…I contributed to the spread with some treats from Eataly (the most awesome Italian market right across the street from my hotel). We were in culinary heaven.  Post meal we enjoyed the Bears crushing defeat at the hands of the Packers. Nothing like watching your favorite team tromp your least favorite team in the bad guys own city.

Monday morning we hit the road and made our way to Wisconsin where my Grandma had homemade mac ‘n cheese and cornbread waiting:) We had lunch with my grandparents and uncle John and the rest of the family came by for pizza and conversation that evening. It was great to catch up and indulge in some of my grandma’s famous cooking as well as those tasty Wisconsin beers you can only get in-state. The next morning Jamie left early to get back for some meetings and I spent the day hanging out with my grandparents looking at old slides of their years in Europe and picking up some Packer gear. I had to head back to the airport and LA that afternoon. It was much too short a trip, but I’m so glad I got those 2 days to see family and recharge my batteries a little bit after 46 consecutive days of work (yes I counted!).

Traveling to Chicago was a great opportunity to fit in some family time and my trip to Portland was a great opportunity to spend some much needed quality time with one of my oldest friends, Jessie. She picked me up at the airport Friday evening and we got to catch up over dinner and drinks at some of her favorite spots around Portland. I met some of her fantastic friends and we said goodbye with plans to meet up again on Sunday evening for dinner.

I started all three of my days in Portland with Blue Star Donuts and Stumptown Coffee. I was seriously obsessed with the donuts at Blue Star. I was in Portland for 3 days and I ended up trying 7 kinds of donuts! They were all amazing, but the Blackberry Compote with Peanut Butter Dusting was melt in your mouth delicious and I’ve never had a better Maple Bacon. I was (am) so into Blue Star I even started following them on Instagram. Which I don’t recommend unless you’re a sucker for pain– looking at those donuts everyday and knowing I can’t put them in my mouth is incredibly painful.

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Besides amazing donuts Portland has a massive foodie scene. All weekend I ate so well (and so much!).  Saturday was filled with interviews, but I finally made it to the famous food carts for lunch, opting for a grilled cheese from Grilled Cheese Grill. After work concluded for the day I was able to spend a few of my evening hours at the famous Powells before returning to Tasty N Alder for a delicious dinner of cheese, scallops and local beer.

Sunday brought more interviews and more delicious food. Blue Star obviously kicked off my morning. Some colleagues and I had pork sandwiches at Lardo for lunch and then Jessie and Katy took me to another of their local spots, Old Salt Marketplace, for dinner. It was an indulgent weekend to say the least. Portland is the only place I got to visit twice on my travels this fall and it was the perfect repeat offender. It’s a beautiful, walkable town with a funky vibe and incredible food. Hopefully I can figure out a way to get in on my spring travel schedule as well;)

After all the travel I was so thankful to have some time at home. Unfortunately my first weekend in CA since September was also the weekend Dave planned a trip up to the Bay to hang out with Nick and Nathan (who was in town for a conference). Dave had a great time reminiscing about college and exploring more of SF with his friends. I’m pretty sure they did a lot of beer drinking and then on Saturday he and Nate drove into Marin to hike, hit the beach and eat oysters. It was a quick trip, but he had a great time hanging out with his old friends.

While Dave was up in the Bay I had plenty to keep me busy. Friday night I met up with Kristie in Culver City for dinner and drinks. We had so much fun chatting and was happy that we were able to fit in some time during her super quick trip to LA. Saturday I had breakfast with my family and then dropped Maddie and some friends off at the Rose Bowl for pre-game festivities before the the USC v. UCLA game. That night my ladies came over for girl time and nachos. It’s always a challenge coordinating a time everyone can make it, but I love when we make it happen. Katie, Kathleen, Kathy, Rob- we must do it again soon!!

Sunday brought the big open house on campus and also the start to a wonderfully short work week leading into my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving!! On Tuesday after work I drove down to Dana Point to meet my family at the beach house we’d rented right on the beautiful California coast. And I mean right on. We spent every day lounging in the backyard overlooking the Pacific and every night falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves. We had all the traditional favorites for the big holiday and some family came down Friday to hang out at our swanky abode. It was relaxing, rejuvenating and fun. The weather was perfect and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend the long weekend.

This past weekend wrapped up the final segment of fall travel. I was up in Oakland to interview students from the Bay. It was the busiest weekend of the year, but also fun because a whole crew of USC staff were up to manage the volume. We met a lot of great students and indulged at some of the great local restaurants. Friday we splurged on small plates at The Grand Tavern and Saturday we had a tasty meal at the deceptively swanky Honor Kitchen. And it’s my last work trip till April! When I got back spent the evening decorating our tree and really getting into the festive holiday spirit. We’ll be spending Christmas with my family and then flying cross country to Maine to ring in the new year. Par the course it’s going to be a busy but fun-filled month! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Travel Mania

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Fall is my favorite season. I’ve always loved the changing of leaves, the cool crisp air, buying school supplies and the start of the holiday season. This year I’m getting to experience Fall in almost every corner of the US as a major part of my job is to travel around the country talking to prospective and admitted students about how great USC Marshall is! I love interacting with students and their families so it makes the travel a lot of fun, but can also be incredibly exhausting. Who knew traveling for work isn’t as glamorous as it looks?! Luckily, I’ve been able to visit some pretty amazing cities, many of them with some pretty amazing people I’ve been able to catch up with!

Bay Area/Sacramento: My first stop back in September was San Francisco and Sacramento. My hotel was right across the bay from SFO and I had a fantastic view of planes taking off and landing. I got to meet up with Duven for dinner one night and see her boyfriend, Michael’s band perform at Pier 70 in the city. In Sacramento I ventured out to visit one of Maddie’s favorite restaurants in Davis and hit up the Vacaville Outlets.

Hawaii: The next weekend I headed out across the Pacific to the beautiful island of Oahu. The flight is long, but the 3-hour time difference worked to my advantage. I was able to enjoy lunch and a relaxing afternoon on Kailua Beach before a sucking back a complimentary Mai Tai at my hotel that evening. The students and families I met with on Saturday were so relaxed and welcoming and spent more time trying to figure out activities for me to do that evening than asking me questions about USC. Seriously, the nicest people! Sunday morning I got up before the crack of dawn to hike Diamond Head and have one last swim on Waikiki before I had to head to the airport and back to LA. 48 hours in Hawaii was definitely not long enough and I can’t wait to head back soon, but this time with Dave!

 

Portland/Seattle: Week three of travel brought my favorite trip thus far- a return to our old stomping grounds in the Pacific Northwest with Dave in tow! This weekend also brought our 1st wedding anniversary on October 12th. Even though I had to work for a portion of the time we managed to have a wonderful weekend getaway in one of our favorite spots. We flew into Portland on Friday and had a “tasty” dinner at Tasty N Alder followed by some amazingly delicious (and cheap!) beers at Bailey’s Taproom. The next day we continued our food tour of the “other Portland” with some Stumptown Coffee and VooDoo Donuts. A colorful way to kick off the day. Powell’s Books was next on the list and we managed to get some good browsing in before I had to head back to the hotel and get professional. While I was convincing the locals to spend their college years in sunny So Cal Dave took in some college football at a local bar and completed a hike up up to Pittock Mansion.  Following my Portland program we hopped in the car and hightailed it north to the Evergreen State. With one quick detour to MSM we were in Seattle and ready to meet up with some of our favorite college buddies. We met Lea, Brian and Charisse at The Pine Box and had a great time catching up over beers.

We had a relaxing Sunday morning reviewing the wonderful details of October 12, 2013. Our hotel room looked out over the Puget Sound and we took in the view as we watched the Packers and Patriots dominate on the field. We could also see CenturyLink from our balcony and Dave was enthusiastically rooting against the Seahawks (who ended up losing and adding to the happiness of Dave’s day). I had my Seattle program that took up a few hours of the day, but right after that concluded we met up for a nice stroll through Pike’s Place market and a few beers at Elysium Brewing Co before dinner. Dave picked out the location of our anniversary dinner at Cafe Champagne and we had amazing French food and wine and a long discussion about what Frasier would have ordered had he been patronizing the restaurant. Probably the cassoulet with a robust Zinfandel.

That evening we spent the night at an awesome place in Burien we found on AirBnB. The house was right on the water. We got the fire pit started, cracked open another bottle of French wine and listened to the waves of the Puget Sound lap against the shore. The next morning we kayaked around the Sound before heading down to Tacoma for a memory-filled day of visiting our alma mater and checking out our favorite local eats. We picked up Met Mart food for lunch and had a picnic on Owen’s Beach. And the mountain was out!!  After lunch we drove up into Point Defiance and did some hiking along the trails. Next stop was campus where we checked out all the new buildings and bought some gear at the bookstore. From there we picked up dinner (MSM sandwiches…what else) and finished the day with a few last beers and some Big Buck Hunter at the Parkway Tavern. Even with the work a great weekend of celebrating one year of marriage in the place it all began.

East Coast: We arrived in LA late Monday night and I was back at LAX bright and early Wednesday morning. This time headed east for my final four programs and my longest trip of semester. I flew into DC first. I had some work to catch up on and a few things I had to call into the office for, but was also able to spend a couple hours wandering around one of my favorite museum’s The Portrait Gallery and strolling through our old neighborhood, Cleveland Park. I made the time to savor some buffalo wing’s at the Cleveland Park Bar and Grill and was pleasantly surprised by a yummy local brew I hadn’t tried called DC Brau.

Boston was next on the list and it was the perfect weekend to be back in our old hometown. The weather was perfect and the city filled with people in town to watch the BC v. Clemson game and the Head of the Charles. I spent one morning with my coffee and crossword in Washington Square soaking up the sun and was also able to dine at an old favorite, The Publick House. Saturday evening after the USC program I met up with Dan and Alix for dinner and drinks and we had a wonderful evening that concluded with a Facetime session featuring Dave. It was so nice to be back in New England again and made me incredibly nostalgic for the “glory days” a few years back.

My night out in Boston was fun, but made for a tough morning when I had to be on a plane to NYC by 7:00am. Unfortunately, my hotel was fully booked the night before meaning no opportunity for early check in. I tried to get some work in while nodding off in the hotel lobby and had to try and make myself look presentable in the public restroom. I think I succeeded because the NY program was huge and very successful. I was one of the last representatives left answering questions and talking to families. I was also WIPED OUT. Even though I was in the city that never sleeps that is all I could think about. I hightailed it to my hotel, where I mustered the energy to order some takeout Thai and watch Monsters Inc on TV.

Monday brought my 10th and final fall reception in Philadelphia. I took the train from Penn Station (trains= WAY better than planes) and was able to make it in time to meet my friend Justin for lunch. I hadn’t seen Justin since I left Northeastern more than 3 years ago and it was great to catch up and hear all about his life in medical school. I have such accomplished friends! After lunch I took a stroll around the city with the goal of finding and climbing the “Rocky Steps”. I found them and a number of other Philly tourist sites. It was a beautiful day to walk around (I really lucked out with weather on this trip) and I was glad to do so, because even though I’d driven through it many times before I’d never taken the time to do stop in Philadelphia. The program went well Monday night and on Tuesday before heading back to LA I took the time to tour Independence Hall and see the Liberty Bell. I love American history, especially the period including the Revolutionary War and the founding of our country and had a great time listening to the Park Rangers talk about Philadelphia’s role during that time. It was a LONG, but great trip!

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Denver: Last weekend I made my way to Denver for the first off-campus interviews of the year. I spent all day Saturday interviewing prospective students, but also managed some fun by getting to hanging out with my wonderful, Emily Friday and Saturday night. We had hours of quality girl talk and finished off a couple bottles of vino over the course of the weekend. We also got to catch up with Meredith and relive some of our Cabo adventures on Saturday night at a Mexican restaurant. Emily was also incredibly generous- picking me up from and driving me back to the airport. I only wished we lived closer so our girl weekends wouldn’t be so few and far between!

It’s been a jam-packed month and there’s more to come. Up next…Houston, Chicago, Portland Oregon and back to the Bay…Thank God for Thanksgiving break!!

New England Vacay

At the end of September we spent a whirlwind week back east to attend the Hackett/Roy wedding affair, visit with friends in Boston and spend some quality time with family up in Maine. It went by WAY too fast, but we had a fantastic time catching up with everyone and getting to experience a little sliver of autumn in New England.

We took a red-eye on Wednesday night so that we could maximize time our one day in Boston. We landed and headed straight to Becky’s apartment in Cambridge to drop our bags- stopping for the obligatory Dunks along the way of course! Dave took a little nap while I headed back into the city to meet up with Anthony and Mike (a couple of my favorite former Husky Ambassadors) for an early lunch. It was so much fun to catch up and hear what they’d been up to the past year or so. We also did a good bit of reminiscing about the good old days in the VC and took a little stroll through the Public Garden.

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After we parted ways Dave and I spent a little time soaking up the Boston weather- which was perfect compared to the hellish So Cal weather of 104° we’d experienced the day prior. From there we hopped a bus to JP to see Mary and attempt to watch the returns come in from the Scottish vote for independence. We threw back a few beers with Mary, but unfortunately we were a little early for the returns. By the time we left the bar was filling up and Dave even got interviewed by a public access reporter! Who knows if his commentary made the cut, but it was fun to be involved!

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That night we met up with Becky and Zack at their apartment for a few beers and catching up before making our way to Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Cambridge. We had a great night indulging in tasty beers and food truck tacos. Noah also stopped by to hang out- diversifying the friends we were able to connect with throughout the day even further! Such a fun way to kick off our vacation.

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Friday we slept in and then caught an early afternoon train up to Newburyport, MA. Where we had a quick chance to greet the groom before checking in to our hotel and getting spruced up for the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal was at a cool, very New England pub and the food and drink were both delicious! We had a super fun table filled with Glenwood Crew members and spent a few hours after the dinner party up in the hotel catching up with even more friends.

Saturday brought wedding day and some day-of “honorary wedding party” activities for Dave and some shopping for me…I needed to buy a coat, California has already turned me back into a giant wimp with weather! I had a good time shopping and getting ready with Amy and Jenn before my duties as wedding shuttle dictator commenced. It was actually incredibly easy to get everyone on the shuttle and over to the venue and we made it just in time for the simple, but thoughtful ceremony to begin.

The party following the ceremony was fantastic, with lawn games, a lobster dinner and free flowing beer, wine and specially crafted cocktails. We had premium seats at the head table with beautiful views of the harbor and great company. It was a wonderful wedding and we were so happy to be a part of it! #dalix

From MA we headed up north to Maine and were able to spend the next three days with Dave’s family. We celebrated Bo’s birthday with a retro themed party, got to take a spin on the boat in Casco Bay, meet Jack’s lovely new girlfriend Kate and of course enjoy many a delicious meal. It was the only time we also had to get in a little relaxation.

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Our trip went way too fast and we were back in CA and back at work before we knew it. Coming back also meant the start of my crazy fall travel schedule. I’ve been traveling to different cities around the US every weekend since we returned and will be doing so until early December (with the exception of an on-campus open house and Thanksgiving, of course!). It’s been a lot of fun, but exhausting…hence the delay in timely blog posts!

Until next time…Daverian

 

Palm Springs Weekend

It’s been a hectic summer for the Herlache/Chebuske clan with travel, new jobs, moving, a surgery and the usual festivities. Trying to coordinate five different schedules took a bit of time and it wasn’t until the second weekend in August that we were finally able to come together to celebrate my belated 29th birthday!

I love presents (who doesn’t?!), but even more than presents I love traveling to new locales. Though I’ve driven through it a few times in past two decades, the only time I’ve ever spent in Palm Springs was a weekend in early elementary school. My girl scout troop was rewarded with an overnight trip to Palm Springs for our cookie selling efforts. I recall the trip being a success, but beyond the pool and the swanky jungle gym gear at a nearby park, my memories of the desert town are pretty hazy. Luckily my dad is a huge fan of California’s Gold host, Huell Howser, and when we saw a rerun of a trip he took to San Jacinto earlier this summer the idea blossomed of making a return trip to the popular vacation destination.

We met my family at the foot of the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway early on Saturday morning. We travelled from 2,643 feet up to Mountain Station, which sits at an elevation 8,516 feet. From there we trekked across San Jacinto State Park completing an almost 9 mile hike before making our way back to the station for lunch at Peaks Restaurant.

The trail was challenging at times, but with plenty of flat stretches along the way. An awesome feature of San Jacinto State Park is the fact that the weather atop the mountain is generally close to 30° cooler than the weather at the base of the mountain. With the average temperature in Palm Springs that weekend coming in a 102° the mountain-top weather was absolute perfection!

After our hike, lunch (and getting in plenty of family photos) we made our way back down the mountain and a little further south to the city of La Quinta. We found a great 2 bedroom condo available on AirBnB at a complex with 9 different pools and a hammock garden. We got in a quick swim and were actually able to catch some of the Dodger game (Dodger fans without Time Warner know our pain)  before heading out to dinner.

We had an amazing meal at Cork and Fork for dinner. Cork and Fork’s food philosophy is “Mix and Match. Share and Enjoy”. We shared a variety of small plates ranging from grilled cheese with braised short ribs to seared scallops to blistered shishito peppers. Cork and Fork has a great wine list and some local rotating drafts. Plus they offer happy hour prices on select starters and their beer, white and red wines of the night. I have the hardest time picking between menu items and always want to try what everyone else has ordered- the small sharable plates proved to be the perfect dining approach. Too bad there aren’t more restaurants like Cork and Fork out there!

After dinner we indulged in homemade ice cream at Infusions. Every scoop is handmade in KitchenAid mixers with liquid nitrogen. Steam spills out over the counter as employees mix up orders. Between the five of us we split strawberry cheesecake, mint chip and the most delicious- chocolate espresso with fresh ground espresso beans on top. To top all the ice cream off I was also presented with my favorite cake- our family’s classic carrot cake. It was a decadent, food-filled evening that we absolutely deserved after our active day!

The next morning brought hours of a rotation between the pool and the air-conditioned condo. Because it’s so hot in Palm Springs summer is actually the off-season! Because of this we had the pools mostly to ourselves. The mountain backdrops weren’t too shabby either. It was a wonderful way to spend the early part of the day.

Post relaxation time we all headed back west, relived to leave the 109° temperature for something a little more bearable– whoohoo 90s! On the way home Dave and I made one last pit stop for dinner at the original In-N-Out burger in Baldwin Park. In-N-Out University was closed and we weren’t able to buy a t-shirt, but we indulged in some always delicious burgers and fries. The perfect California ending to a California-filled weekend!