Sunday I ran the Athens Half Marathon (13.1 miles in 2:35), and then hydrated at Shade Winery. It was a beautiful day and I was so happy that so many friends and family made it out for the afternoon. (Check out my fractal/math themed cake from Jenny! Katie M made sorbet from wine to pair with the cake as well.)
The conference was incredible. I haven’t been to any national conference in years, and I haven’t been to NCTM since 2006. This time, as I looked through the program book, I recognized a lot of names, and I planned my schedule mostly according to the speaker, not the topic- and I was not disappointed. The speakers at NCTM are pretty much all the authors on my bookshelf at home! I was in amazing company. It was a really fantastic conference, and I felt like I was in my element. I’m ready for next year!
Lunch at a delicious place near the convention center called Carmo (I got vegan pulled pork on a plantain patty-so good!). Afternoon sessions, then I wandered through the French Quarter Festival and enjoyed the music in the streets. Stopped into some art galleries and bought some souvenirs, and finally ended up at the MathCounts reception at Bourbon House on Bourbon Street. By chance, I met some amazing DC math teachers and now I’m going to visit their school in August. We spent some time chatting for the rest of the night.
(After my morning “shake out” run, during which I saw a shuttered Bourbon Street and a soapy, foamy Chartres Street)
New Orleans for NCTM! I got in late last night and woke up early to take advantage of my short 2 days here. I walked around the corner to Majoria’s Commerce restaurant. It had great reviews on Yelp and seemed like a local, non-tourist place. When I walked in just after they opened around 7, the place was already full of construction workers. Good stuff.
After a morning of sessions, I decided to get out and walk about a mile for lunch at Surrey’s Juice Bar, a tiny, hippy, eclectic cafe that a friend who lived here recommended as his favorite place in NOLA. I ate here last time I was in town, and I had to again. I had the shrimp and grits (pictured, and delicious), and a green juice.
The final photo was taken on my walk to lunch. It looked like it was an amazing bookstore/cafe when it was open! Sadly, it looks like it has been shut down.
Another weekend, another work trip. This time, knowing it was in Michigan, the Land of the Microbrews, as I like to call it, I made Michael come along for a mini-vacation. I had such a good time brewery-hopping for my birthday last year, I figured we could have a mini repeat. We stayed downtown within walking distance of several nice breweries and brewpubs.
On the way, however, I introduced Michael to my favorite fast food ever: Culver’s! Butter burgers and frozen custard, and they even have a veggie burger on the menu. We now have traditions for road trip food: if heading east, we look for Sheetz gas stations. If heading west or north, Culver’s.
After getting settled, we headed out for a quick drink at Ashley’s. We got a flight of the darkest beers on draft. They were also hosting a special event for Tapestry Brewing, and I was intrigued by a beer with the word “experimental” in the description. The server warned me that it has a strong salami taste. Why not? Anyway, it was good, and I could handle the salami mouthfeel. (I’m looking back on Untappd right now, where I recently began tracking new beers I’ve tried, and this beer earned me the “Taste Crazy” badge, whatever that means.)
Then I had to work, so in the morning I found a little specialty foods store/juice bar (babo) around the corner and I loaded up on caffeine, juice, and a croissant. After work, it was cold, but we bundled up and wandered around downtown, stopping in to all the shops we had missed because they were closed the previous night (clothing, record, game store, etc.). And getting a vegan hot dog snack from a hot dog store M was eyeing all day. That was the most unhealthy (but delicious) vegan dog I’ve had.
I made a list of the next 3 breweries for us to try, and we started at Blue Tractor. We got a flight (of course) and it came in a cupcake tin! See:
The whole place had a great vibe, and I’m sure their smokehouse style BBQ is delicious. The beer was okay, but I was intrigued when I heard someone say they have a peanut butter porter downstairs. Downstairs? Apparently, there was an entirely different bar (with a different name) downstairs, connected by the hallway past the bathroom (it was odd). That downstairs bar was called Mash, and I loved it. (See picture posted a few weeks ago from that very place.)
We were getting hungry, and new beers awaited, so it was off to Jolly Pumpkin. Another flight, a delicious cheese plate (M fell in love with the white cheddar, I was all over the blue), and a yummy tofu sandwich. Yes, I selected the place for dinner due to their veggie options. Anyway, back to that flight- again, I asked the bartender for a selection of fun ones. I started sampling at the table, and- to my surprise- I tasted sour, after sour, after sour. Was this a bar that actually brewed not one, not two, not even three, but at least SIX sour beers? And then gave them all to me? I told Michael that either my tastebuds were messed up or this was the most amazing bar/beer selection ever because they were all sours. He agreed that it was not my tastebuds, and that they were, in fact, sour, and I confirmed this with the beer menu/descriptions as well. It was pretty incredible.
We walked home in the snow (by this time it was extremely snowy, and it was pretty fun to slip around in the quiet streets. Again, see earlier picture for reference). And basically, that kind of weekend was just what I needed. A nice relaxing break with Michael and lots of good food and drink.
Immediately after my Valpo adventure, I headed out to Washington DC to learn about the Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (more on this to come….). I planned my trip to arrive a few hours early so I could get in a long run. I knew that my hotel was mere steps from the mall, and I’ve always seen joggers on the mall, so I knew it was a good area to run. I managed to squeeze in 5 mies when I arrived, which was not quite the 8 miles I had been planning, but still- what a view!
The next morning, I even woke up before 7 am to squeeze in another 5 miler (what kind of a crazy running person have I become??). I chose a slightly different path and this time had the following view:
I learned a lot of cool things, met some amazing people (and brought home a NASA swag bag- go NASA!), and also got to eat this yummy vegetarian creation at fancy restaurant The Hamilton (spaghetti squash fritters with quinoa, spinach, pine nuts, golden raisins, butternut squash puree…basically everything I like):
The crunchy bits of spinach were the best part.
Since this was a much more serious networking type of work weekend (I accidentally just typed “workend” instead of weekend… you can see what my life has become), I didn’t plan much time for myself to explore anything. I got in some nice runs and that was fine.
About a month ago I spent the night in Valparaiso, Indiana for work. Over the past few years of doing this type of job, I typically arrive in town with enough time to eat and sleep, and then turn around and go back home when I’m finished. I decided that’s not very fun, so I’ve been trying to turn each trip into a mini-vacation and do some of the things that I enjoy.
The number one thing I enjoy about travel is finding new restaurants. So I arrived at Valparaiso, Indiana with no knowledge of this town other than it was near Chicago and I had contemplated flying in. My first search was for vegan restaurants, my second was for breweries. I ended up at Figure 8 Brewery downtown, where I bravely asked for a flight of the most flavorful, rich, dark, or hoppy beers they had. (I was not disappointed.)
I also ordered tacos and mac and cheese. (I barely touched my tacos but slurped up every bit of the mac and cheese “side” dish.)
I got up early for breakfast at Roots Organic Juice Cafe, where I had this lovely Acai berry bowl with bananas, hemp, and granola. The main part of the bowl was similar to an acai sherbet, I think. Such a good breakfast.
On my way out of town, I grabbed a few of the most favorited geocaches in the area. I stopped by the Loving Cafe in Fort Wayne, Indiana for some more vegan food. They have a full vegan menu and in addition to eating soup and a sandwich there, I had to order some of their hot wings to take home with me.
So, that was a pretty nice trip. Craft beer and vegan food- what more could I ask for? :)