July

#182 Paseo Ecologico

01 July 2015 // Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Took a look around the Ecological Preserve that the resort kept on-site– lots of swampland, and mostly flamingos and storks.

Mostly, a nice place to take a shaded walk and feel like you’ve arrived in a completely different place in a couple of minutes. On our way out, we got a maintenance man to chop down a coconut for us.

#183 Punta Cana

02 July 2015 // Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Deanna and I threw around several honeymoon ideas but the first place that stuck was Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. A tourist town for sure, but it offered everything we were looking for in a destination.

Looking back, I don’t think we could’ve chosen any better. The beaches were gorgeous, the place we stayed was comfortable and great, and it was the perfect place to slow things way, way down after the wedding.

#184 Bavaro Peacock

03 July 2015 // Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This day of the honeymoon was pretty much a travel day. A series of two flight delays and a thunderstorm in Miami kept us in the Punta Cana airport for a while.

We also spent a long time in immigration in Miami, but ultimately, we made it to Florida by the end of the day.

#185 Epcot Center

04 July 2015 // Orlando, Florida

Deanna and I made it into Florida just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July from the US. And we spent it by walking around one of the weirdest parts of the US- the Epcot Center: Disney’s attempt to represent every country in the world while inadvertently making a very American attraction.

Still, we had a blast exploring all of its eccentricities and future-visions, and country caricatures. The Epcot vision for Canada applies to Oregon just as well.

#186 The Magic Kingdom

05 July 2015 // Orlando, Florida

And of course, we had to spend at least a few days of the honeymoon at a very honeymooney place, Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

A full fun day of lines, Mickey shaped ice creams, hunting for Hidden Mickeys, playing audiences to tantrum kids, eating giant turkey legs, trying to blend in among massive tour groups from Latin American countries, and trying to see if the Gaston actor is as on fire in real life as he is on some of those YouTube videos.

#187 Wizarding World of Harry Potter

06 July 2015 // Orlando, Florida

This. The crown jewel of Orlando, Florida. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of amusement parks, but my goodness, this is right up my alley. My Diagon Alley.

The amount of detail and care that went into this park was a real treat. Like Butterbeer, which was also a real treat. This place is wizarding indeed.

#188 Gulf Shores

07 July 2015 // Gulf Shores, Alabama

And then we went to Alabama on our honeymoon. It was more of a stop than a destination, but that still amuses me to think about.

We also got to see a side of Alabama that looks different from what I usually see in pictures. ‘Bama’s got a few white sand beaches right on its tip. Hooray for Gulf Shores.

#189 Mississippi

08 July 2015 // Gulfport, Mississippi

Hanging out on the dock of Gulfport, Mississippi, another state closer to having seen all fifty!

This area was actually gorgeous when we passed through. The sun, sand, and water reflections were pretty clear and inviting. Glad we got to walk and explore for a little bit.

#190 Café du Monde

09 July 2015 // New Orleans, Louisiana

There was one item at the very top of our list for while we were visiting New Orleans… nothing other than visiting the legendary Café du Monde.

The beignets lived up to every expectations, and the coffee was pretty good– not strong, but perfect for an afternoon coffee sort of thing. The only drawback is that now I have a taste for this stuff and it can be found only in New Orleans. (Like so many other good foods)

#191 Bourbon Street

10 July 2015 // New Orleans, Louisiana

Our trip to New Orleans wouldn’t have been complete without a little jaunt down Bourbon Street, now, would it?

We centered most of our stay around the French Quarter, though we could’ve stayed for much longer without running out of things to do. Still, it was a wonderful, interesting time in one of the most lively, saucy cities in the US.

#192 Thanks Ryan!

11 July 2015 // New Orleans, Louisiana

We owe a huge amount of gratitude to our friend Ryan for making our stay in New Orleans such a great one. Plus, it was a thrill being able to see him in person twice in a short span of time.

Thanks for all the recommendations, the comfy place to stay, and all the food suggestions and treats. Whenever you make it up to Oregon, we’re ready for ya!

#193 Sacramento Stop

12 July 2015 // Sacramento, California

Flew into LA later the evening before, spent time with my aunts, reunited with the Volvo plus our wedding decor and presents, and began the return journey back up to Oregon.

Of course, that’s a long drive, and I like to take it easy on the road so a pit stop in Sacramento to see April, Caytlin, & Shannon was essential, as was one last chance to get a real taco before crossing the state line.

#194 Fox & Goose

13 July 2015 // Sacramento, California

Before beginning the drive back up to Oregon, April took me out to breakfast at Fox & Goose. Extremely English name, but would it have extremely English food?

Sort of. But that’s not such a bad thing! The Full English Breakfast I had was nourishment for the road.

#195 Opening Wedding Presents

14 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Since we got the majority of our wedding presents shipped up to Oregon, we were able to enjoy opening our gifts upon returning– and we got to do it all over again a second time when we got the gifts that were shipped to our other address.

We got some really fun stuff, and we will be writing thank you notes for a long time to come. We’re that thankful.

#196 Lukeface

15 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Upon my return to Oregon, I was greeted by my wife and kids… not my kids, but kids. Actually, my nephews.

We took out the nephews and in-laws to New Day Bakery. I wasn’t too hungry, but I did grab a mocha cheesecake. Turns out, the boys wanted some, but the coffee was a bit strong. We gave Luke a piece of the crust to appease him. He ate it, then made this face and continued to hold it for at least five minutes.

#197 Simon Horseman

16 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

For the day, we took out Simon and Luke to our friend Pam’s place to get a crash course in horse care and horseback riding. Both kids did awesome.

Simon went from being a little unsure of Abby to riding her around hills and up and down tires in a half hour. Luke was equally chill on the horse, but from the get-go.

#198 Signing at Vector’s

17 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Had a really fun time signing books at Vectors’ Espresso yesterday. This place is one of our favorites in town, mostly because their staff goes above and beyond in being relational with customers and getting to know names and faces. It pretty much feels like everyone who enters is a regular.

If you missed it and you’re in the Eugene/Springfield area, I’m doing another signing today at Mohawk Books in Springfield. It’s in an often overlooked shopping center, so come help populate my public appearances!

#199 Signing at Mohawk Paperbacks

18 July 2015 // Springfield, Oregon

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this book signing at this little bookshop. The owners and staff were really nice and friendly, but the shop itself is a hidden goodie out in an unsuspecting shopping center deep in Springfield.

Turns out, I had a blast signing books and speaking at Mohawk Paperbacks. Met some really fun and interesting people at the event.

#200 Kayaking With Rich

19 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent the afternoon with my father-in-law, kayaking down the Willamette.

Turned out to be a really good, really mellow ride, on one of the warmest, brightest days we’ve had in Oregon all year. Also worked up the best appetite in time to go to the Bier Stein.

#201 Jim Gaffigan Live

20 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

There is only one person on earth who I can think of that I would pay money to hear rant about Hot Pockets. Jim Gaffigan is that man.

Such a fun night last night with Deanna and the bro-and-sis-in-law. Many laughs were laughed.

#202 The Workout Room

21 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

I spent the whole year leading up to the wedding getting into the best shape I’ve ever been in for the honeymoon. Then our honeymoon took us to an all-inclusive resort and to New Orleans, and so much for good shape.

So, here we go again, breaking in the 1970’s workout room in our new apartment complex. Complete with a black and white photo of a bench pressing Marilyn Monroe.

#203 The Great Gag Gift

22 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

This was the best gag gift that Deanna and I got for our wedding. We came home, and among our wedding presents we had mailed up to Oregon was a long tube with a return address from Beijing. We looked at the attached note and got a very sweet, but nearly impossible to understand note from a Chinese company. We unveiled what was inside and found a very large wall decal of some sort of 3D beach scene.

To this day, nobody has come forward to take credit for this fantastic gift. But thank you, you are amazing, whoever you are.

#204 Beer Garden Food Carts

23 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Love the Beer Garden, and their associated Food Truck Garden is a winner as well!

Had a fun lunchtime and chat with Tim, welcoming us back into Eugene life after the wedding and honeymoon adventures.

#205 Camp Hammock

24 July 2015 // Detroit, Oregon

Deanna and I went camping over the weekend to break in some of our shiny new wedding presents.

Our camping hammock is one of our favorites! Thank you, Raquel!

#206 Stahlman Point

25 July 2015 // Detroit, Oregon

The journey to the top of this mountain was a lot longer than we expected when we set out, but since we kept thinking we were “almost there,” we kept going and eventually made it.

That turned out to be quite a reward because once we were at the top, that view was quite terrific. So many cascading mountains and trees the size of giants that you couldn’t even begin to count.

#207 Talks of South Africa

26 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s always a good day when I get to talk and dream about South Africa, and today I got to do just that!

Cheri and her family came into town and we got to catch up and also chat about some ideas for a return trip to South Africa and all the places that could possibly lead. Things are getting real exciting.

#208 Foodspotting No. 63- Ramen

27 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

And a new adventure begins, with our stomachs! Shannon got us the Field Guide to Foodspotting as a wedding present, featuring 75 dishes to hunt for and try, some more exotic than others.

Our first crossed off food was a simple one, Japanese style ramen. We finally got to try Eugene’s heralded Toshi’s Ramen. I went for a soy based broth while Deanna went the miso route, until we switched halfway. Can’t wait to taste the rest of this book.

#209 Gifts From Germany

28 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

I went to the post office to pick up a box that had been shipped to Deanna and I. We figured it was a wedding present, but were a little surprised to find the return address from Germany. We know a lot of people in Germany, but weren’t expecting anything.

The resolution to the mystery turned out to be a really fun one. The box was from one of Deanna’s former au pairs from Germany, Ella. Good stuff kept coming out of this box, including a raw edge charcuterie board (probably my favorite), a Schwarzwald coffee table book, a massive card, a box of Lindt chocolates, several Milka chocolates, some canned rosé, liverwurst pate, canned meat, a Black Forest oven mitt, and Sahne Muh-Muhs (which are delicious.) This was such a fun gift to open.

#210 Pumped Up Kitchen

29 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

My goal of the week was to finish whipping the house into shape. That was accomplished as I took on the kitchen, the final frontier. Lots of sorting drawers and things.

Also, I got to put up our very important reference poster to the champignons of the world.

#211 Cole Hamels

30 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

The Phillies traded away Cole Hamels last night, who was my favorite on the team for over a decade. Sad day!

Here’s a bobblehead flashback to happier times, the 2008 World Series. One of the most unforgettable Cole moments.

#212 Jurassic Park in the Park

31 July 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

What better venue to watch the original Jurassic Park than a park itself? Out in the open, under blankets and a big screen, this was such a fun summer night activity.

Also, a local petting zoo came out before the event with exotic animals, gila monsters, wallabies, and things of the sort. For the kids! Of course, we thankfully got to watch a very reassuring movie about why this could never go wrong.

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