Superstitions and Moments of Panic

We arrive at the airport and park in the garage. We are too spoiled to park in the long-term parking anymore, aka the “have to take a shuttle and haul your suitcase up the stairs of the shuttle and they don’t run the shuttle as often as they used to and the driver doesn’t help you with your bags half the time” parking. I tell Zung the carry-on is his responsibility. I wheel my bag through the parking garage and up to the Frontier counter. I decide that it does not wheel as well as the beast. Can you tell that I am missing the beast? However, it redeems itself when it weighs in at the same 45# that it did at home. I inform Zung that in the future, we are NOT taking the carry-on because he has this unreasonable fear of our home scale being inaccurate.

After check-in we head to security. For some reason they are not using the priority lane for priority people (e.g. first class, frequent fliers). They are telling everyone they can use that lane, so we are stuck with the masses. It’s all good though, remember, I am on vacation. I tip-toe through the part where I have to take off my shoes. Did I mention that I’m a bit of a germaphobe? Not an OCD germaphobe, but just grossed out by all the germs on the common surfaces I share with the common masses of humanity. And there is a lot of humanity who has passed through here before me. Yuck. I get my sandals back on as fast as I can.

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I want to try a new place for breakfast. This is a big step for me because in addition to being a germaphobe, I am superstitious, which is not a great trait for a recovering fearful flyer. Geez, as I read this, I am making myself sound rather neurotic.

We go to the Denver Chop House. I order a Mimosa (my “I’m officially on vacation” drink). She brings me a spilt of sparkling wine and a glass of orange juice, so it’s enough for two Mimosa’s. Well, if you insist. It is however, not as good as Chef Jimmy’s Royal Mimosa.


Zung has coffee.



Zung has an omelette, as I’m sure you all knew he would.

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I order the french toast that is fried with apples and served with maple syrup. It sounded good, but is way too heavy and I don’t eat very much. I also order a side of bacon, my other “I’m officially on vacation” food, as if my cholesterol levels care whether I’m on vacation or not. You can see the bacon in the omelette picture. It is a healthy serving of bacon. Or unhealthy, as the case may be. I finished all my Mimosa but not all of the bacon. I was trying to eat healthy. Yea, right.

I call our credit cards to let them know we will be traveling to Mexico. While we are waiting for our food I go to the store across the way and get a magazine and a bottle of water. It takes a while for our food to arrive and although we had a lot of time when we arrived, we are feeling rushed at the end.

We pay and go to our gate and they are already boarding. This is another thing that drives Zung nuts. As an Ascent/Summit member, he gets priority boarding and he hates having to stand in line with the masses. Geez, now who is sounding neurotic?

Our seats are in the first row, so we have to put all of our bags in the overhead bins. I pull out my People magazine and Kindle and iPad.

They do the safety talk and when they do the part about how to operate the seatbelt I say the same thing I do EVERY time I fly, “It’s a seatbelt, just like any other seatbelt. And if you don’t know how to use it, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unattended.” Did I mention that I’m superstitious? I am pretty sure that if I don’t say that, something bad will happen.

I doze off a bit during take-off (wow, my fear of flying has really improved). I always hate it when the plane does that power down thing, even though I know it is normal. I wish they would say, “We are about to do that power down thing and just remember, it’s totally normal. Nothing to worry about. Carry on.” I just know that would alleviate that momentary feeling of panic I get when that happens.

I read my People magazine. I got it because it is Havana’s guilty pleasure.  She’s all set with her travel pillow and trashy magazine.

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It’s about the Kardasian wedding. Big yawn. I can’t for the life of me figure out the obsession with the Kardasian’s. They don’t do anything except show up to be photographed and do things so the press will write about them and have a reality show and then when they want it, ask for their privacy. I just don’t get it. And for the record, I always buy People when I fly, and that’s the only reason I bought this issue, it’s the one that was in the store.

I get done with my People pretty quickly and next turn on my Kindle. I am reading a sneak preview of Elin Hildebrand’s new novel, the Matchmaker. She is my very favorite novelist and she comes out with a new novel every summer. This summer she has released the first five chapters for free. I am a little hesitant about reading them, because the whole book does not come out until June 10th, the day we will be going back home. I don’t think it is going to take me eight days to read these five chapters and I am afraid I won’t want to read anything else until I can read the rest of her book. Spoiler alert, I was right.

The beverage cart comes around and I order a rum and Pepsi. I am not sure if we will have to pay for my drink. Zung gets his for free and sometimes they will give me mine for free since I am traveling with him. I look for my wallet. Crap! I can’t find it. I think I must have left it at the restaurant. It has $500 cash and all my credit cards. I am in a panic. Then I realize, I didn’t bring my wallet. My awesome travel bag has places built-in for all those things. I have my credit cards and my cash right there in my awesome travel bag. They don’t charge me anyway. All that panic for a double nothing.

Oh man, I really need a vacation.


Posted in Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, Shoes, The Grand | 4 Comments

Luggage, and departing home twice is not twice the fun

After my Mexico trip in January I decided it was time to retire the beast. The beast is my big, red suitcase. I bought it five years ago when we did our vow renewal and I wanted a large bag for my dress so there would be minimal folding. I immediately was seduced by its enormous capacity for all my stuff. It has served me well, but as in many long-term relationships, it’s size had become an issue. It was constantly a worry about whether it would make weight. It was so large that it is easy to over-pack. It was getting to be that every time we weighed it, right before we left for the airport, I had to take things out. It was time for some ultralight luggage.

As soon as I returned home from Mexico in January, I started looking. It had to be ultralight and it had to have spinners. I bought a bag online from High Sierra. I measured the beast, because I wanted the same dimensions, just made of ultralight materials. When the bag arrived I saw right away that it was not as large. When I was determining the measurements I was looking for I measured the beast’s suitcase dimensions. When they give measurements for luggage, they measure everything, even the wheels and handle. I had known about this and thought I had it covered, but I apparently did not. And size does matter when you are packing for vacation.

I decided to just suck it up and see if I could make do with the space that it had. It was a full 5 pounds lighter than the beast. The fabric seemed sturdy. It had a trial run when we went to Napa in March (an unblogged trip). It did well, but that trip was only for five nights, and this trip was for eight. Or, an additional 3 pairs of high heels and 3 more dresses trip.

Zung suggested we take a carry-on bag as well as our two checked bags. I was not sure it was necessary, but once he gets an idea about luggage in his mind, he will not be deterred. I also bought a new travel bag for the airplane. Since I don’t carry a purse when I’m on vacation, I prefer to take a large bag that can handle everything I need on the plane and at the airport. This includes not just my usual purse stuff, but my iPad, a few magazines, a bottle of water…you get the idea. I found this one on sale at a luggage store at the Cherry Creek Mall. I have used it a couple of times now and it is perfect.

The weather forecast has been pretty awful. It shows rain and thunderstorms every day. In the past when I stress out about the weather, it turns out fine. I stared Hurricane Paula down when I went for my 50th birthday, and she blinked.

The times I didn’t think about weather, it has been bad. I decide I should pre-emptively stress out about the weather and start checking Weather Underground and Accuweather obsessively. There is even a thread about it on the Iberostar Grand board on Facebook (which I am now the administrator for – go check it out).  The forecast continues to suck.

I am meeting up with lots of people this trip. As previously mentioned, Tami and Tom, and Steph and Dan are going to be at Now Jade, as well as some other people I don’t really know yet. We plan to go over there on Tami’s birthday, the 25th anniversary of her 25th birthday, which is June 8th. Heidi and Ricky, my buds from Trip Advisor and Facebook are going to be around. Heidi is staying at the Grand with her husband and sister-in-law and SIL’s friend. Ricky is staying at Catalonia Maroma, which is just down the beach from the Grand. He is on a solo trip and is going to come hang with us at the Grand on Wednesday. There are also lots of other people from Trip Advisor and Facebook that I’m looking forward to meeting.

In the days preceding I get manicured and pedicured and a new hair cut.

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I wake up early on Monday morning. My alarm is set for 5:30. I wake at 5 and am too excited to fall back to sleep. I pick up my iPad to check the weather. The forecast is still not great, but Heidi has posted on Facebook that it rained yesterday, but is better today. I check my email and have received a really nice private message on Trip Advisor from someone thanking me for my blog. No question, just a thank-you. How nice is that?

My suitcase can handle everything I need, and it is 5# under the weight limit of 50#. Zung declares that is too close and we must take the carry-on. Like I said, once he gets an idea in his head about luggage, there is no talking him out of it. I throw my work-out gear in. I figure I might as well. I might need it if it rains as much as the forecast is predicting.

We are ready to go, and it is a full 15 minute before our targeted time of departure. The blue suitcase is the new one. The red bag is my new, perfect, travel bag. Did I mention that I love it?


Someone on Facebook has requested I bring Havana, the starfish, in the hopes she will bring good weather luck. I agree, even though she is pretty high maintenance. After the pictures I put her inside my travel bag. As expected she complains she is squished.

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We leave at 7:45, which is 15 minutes before we really need to. This turns out to be a good thing because 15 minutes into our drive I realize I have forgotten my Trigeminal Neuralgia meds, which I have just had to start taking again after having a year’s remission. Having Trigeminal Neuralgia can be difficult to describe in terms of how it feels. I think the best descriptions are that it feels like someone is sticking a hot, electrified poker into my jaw or when it affects me when I eat, it is like chewing glass. Not having these meds was not an option. We drive back and traffic going towards Boulder is heavy and slow.

We finally get back home, I get my meds and tell Zung to turn on his radar detector and put the pedal to the metal. He is a speed demon and happily agrees.

It works. We make good time.And it is now time to get my vacation on.

Posted in The Grand | 4 Comments

13th for our 35th

I started graduate school last October. I am getting a MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation. The reason I am telling you this is because I am finding it difficult to keep up with both my schoolwork and this blog. I don’t have any control over when the schoolwork is due, so I have decided that I am going to start posting to this blog only once a week. I expect to be in school for another 2 1/2 years, so this is a long-term change. I appreciate you reading and I hope you don’t mind this change too much.

Now, on to my next adventure!

We started talking about our next trip to the Grand even before we came home from our trip in January. All our Grand friends ask us when we will be back, and at the time our best guess was June. It turned out to be an accurate guess. We like to go in June. Our anniversary is in the first part of the month and Zung’s birthday is at the end of the month, so we have two good reasons to take a celebration trip. Last year we were at the Grand for his birthday. This year my good friend Tami (owner of Trip Surfer vacations) was going to be celebrating her 50th birthday at Now Jade in the first part of the month. We considered doing a split trip because she takes along a whole bunch of fun people with her. We definitely wanted to be at the Grand for our anniversary. It’s 35 years, so worthy of a celebration. The timing didn’t work out for a spilt trip though. Our vacation dates were determined by good airfare (good begin a relative word, especially int his case), anniversary date and when I had to be back at work because other people were going on vacation. We would definitely be there to visit them all at Now Jade. It just wouldn’t work to stay there.

I was checking airfare every day, and the fares were crazy high for early June. Zung was having a difficult time committing because he is starting a new business. That is his definition of retirement since he is not the golfing or gardening type and I’m too young to be the “tour the country in an RV” type. He was not sure when he would be able to take time off, or even IF he would be able to take time off.

One day on my lunch break at work I found a really good deal (relatively speaking). I was at work and texted Zung with the fare and asked if we could commit. He texted me back a short while later that he had booked the flight, paying for one ticket and getting the second ticket with his frequent flier miles. A free (not counting taxes and fees) ticket is always a good thing. Ohhhh, those taxes and fees. They would really get us this time.

I was SO excited. Zung once commented that I am never happy unless I have a countdown.  I had my countdown. I was happy.

When I got home we were talking about it and he commented that the taxes and fees were SO high. Long story short, when he looked up the fare, he got a much higher rate than I did, but he thought it was because of the taxes and fees. The ticket we paid for ended up being the highest rate I had seen since I began checking and it has remained the highest until we left for our trip. It is so frustrating the way the rates change like that. Lesson learned though. Always confirm what the rate is before buying, and taxes and fees ARE included on that page that shows the rate. I guess this made us even more grateful for the free (mostly, kind of) ticket.

We booked for eight days this time. When we were there in January our flight home left at 12:30 pm instead of the usual 4:30 pm, which meant we just had time to eat and pack and go. I didn’t like that and so we decided to stay an extra day. The joke was on us because Frontier changed the schedule back to leaving at 4:30. That’s a joke I can live with.

Zung can’t really take off eight days right now, so he will work part of the time that we are there. That’s okay with me. I don’t have to work. And I am meeting up with friends. Friends I have never met in person, but these days that is just a technicality.

As we got closer and closer I got more and more excited. It has been a LONG, cold and snowy winter here in Colorado. It even snowed on Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day brunch. Take note of the boots on Susie and I. That was not just a fashion statement. Actually, they didn’t look that great with my dress, but I was bound and determined to wear that dress. And that rely cute dress on Susie? It’s mine. That might be considered bragging, but that’s something I am going to brag about for as long as I can.


I am ready for some sun and relaxation.

One out of two isn’t bad.



Posted in The Grand | 5 Comments

Cotongna and getting hooked up

Nicholas doesn’t come out. The fruits of his labor do though.

The manager of Cotongna brings us out a platter of the canapés that Nicholas, and Ryan, his co-worker, make. They are little bites of unique and thoughtful combinations of food products. Unique and delicious.



This is such a treat! We are thrilled.

And not at all prepared for what comes next.

More food that Nicholas and Ryan make.

Beet and apple granita (who thinks of these combinations? – I had never eaten beets before this trip and they are now one of my favorite vegetables).


Then they brought this. I can’t remember what it was, other than lemony and delicious.



Eating at Cotongna and getting to eat some Quince food was such a treat! They weren’t done with us yet though.

Zung had ordered broccoli soup. They came and told us that they didn’t want me to not get to enjoy the soup, so they were bringing me some too. Wait! I wanted to say, I don’t like broccoli. That would have been rude though and, as it turned out, the soup was very good. Although, I’m pretty sure broccoli is not going to be my next new favorite vegetable.


It has not been that long since we ate lunch. At this point, I could call it a good and filling dinner. But there are entrees to be served. And, of course, something extra. Along with our entrees they bring a side of pasta with duck for us.

I had a seafood stew.


Zung had scallops.


The pasta and duck dish (delish!).



I can’t finish my entree. I am just too stuffed. Too stuffed for dessert. We get our check and leave a big tip.

We leave and the manager comes out after us and asks if we want to go say hi to Nicholas.

Can we do that? That would be awesome!

He goes in first. We watch through the window. He stands against the wall, waiting to be acknowledged. It seems SO intense. Michael Tusk is in the kitchen tonight.

The manager comes out and takes us into Quince and into the kitchen. As we got through the front the staff see us and recognize us and say hi (surprised they remember us from just that one time we were here).

We see Nicholas. Get to meet Ryan, his culinary partner in crime. We see Michael Tusk, but Nicholas does not introduce us (he tells us later he was not in a great mood that night). We don’t stay long because the mood is INTENSE. These people are working hard to bring the guests an excellent experience.

There is always the great debate about whether a dining experience like this is worth the money spent. That can only be answered by the individual. For us, it was an amazing experience. But you have to enjoy excellent and innovative food, and flawless service. I can tell you that a lot of thought and preparation goes into each dish that is brought out to you. And I am so proud that my boy is part of that.

We return to the hotel and go to sleep early. We have an early flight. We paid for a night, which is usually, from check in to check out, 21 hours. We were in this room for about 13 hours. No discount.

In the morning we got an Uber and went to the airport. We got breakfast. Looks like Bennie’s and an omelette. I honestly can’t remember, or where we got it from.

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The flight was unmemorable.

It was a great trip! Can’t wait to return. I love seeing my boy and I have fallen seriously in love with Napa.

Posted in Food/Menu Items, Non-Mexico Trips, Restaurant | Leave a comment


I remember once, a manager telling me I need to be like water. This was just after she told me I needed to switch offices. I asked her what the water comment meant and she said I need to flow around obstacles.

This was going to be a day that I needed to be like water.

We check out of the hotel and ask them to store our luggage. We walk to Neiman Marcus and take the escalator up to the Rotunda restaurant. We are going to eat lunch. On our last trip, we had afternoon tea here and I saw lots of things on the menu that looked good.

We are just sitting down and I hear the chime that indicates a text has come in on my phone. I look at it and it says our flight has been canceled. I have an app, Flight Stats, that lets me know if there are any changes to my flight status.

Crap! I cannot believe it has been canceled when the temps are in the 30’s and it is not snowing today.

I order a martini. We have some major regrouping to do.


(My hair looks flat and terrible because I ran out of hair spray. I’m pretty sure I could singlehandedly keep the hair spray industry in business. It is my favorite hair product.)

I look again at the weather and it looks fine. WTH? Zung calls to re-book our flight. Our original flight was the last flight out and the next flight is tomorrow morning at 7 am. He asks why our flight was cancelled and is told a bird hit the plane and it needs some repairs. Definitely don’t want to fly on a busted plane.

I take out my iPad. I am really glad to have it with me. I can do everything I need to do on my phone, but it’s just a little easier with the iPad.

I book another night at the Hyatt. I am thankful that a room is available because it would really be a drag to have to decide on a new, different hotel. I book Cotongna for dinner. It is the sister restaurant to Quince, where Nicholas works, and it is right next door. Nicholas is not allowed to make reservations at either restaurant without going through his boss. I text him what has happened and that we are going to eat at Cotongna tonight, but I won’t say that he is our son. He texts back that it is fine, since he is not eating with us and in fact we should tell them he is our son. He says maybe they will let him come out to say hi, or “hook us up.”

Lunch is good, if not distracted. Zung has a club sandwich.


I have a shrimp salad.


I don not have enough clothes for another nights stay so we go shopping after lunch.

I am feeling disoriented because of the change in plans and the shopping is quick and dirty. Express and Victoria Secret’s.

We return to the hotel. Zung gets our bags and I check in. It is the same guy who checked us out less than two hours ago. We go to the room and take a nap before dinner.

Our dinner reservations are early, so it is a short nap. We dress for dinner and call for an Uber.

We get out of the car, which drops us off more in front of Quince, than Cotongna. As we walk to Cotongna we see a big window into Quince’s kitchen. I think I can see Nicholas in the back, but I don’t want to stare.

We check in at Cotongna and are seated. It has a nice casual and warm feel. We order some wine and then we order our food. I tell the waitress our son works next door at Quince and we were hoping maybe he could come say hello. She says she’ll let “them” know. I am not sure which “them” she is referring to.

Nicholas did not come out to say hi. But they “hooked us up” in a big way, and we did get to see him.

Posted in Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Non-Mexico Trips, Restaurant, San Francisco/Napa | 2 Comments