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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

today i looked up

The OMG Cafe'

...and I looked in:

Extra Par Ice Pack

...and I laughed of course!

Here's to always being curious, easily entertained, and keeping a camera on hand.

who are you? (part 2)


So after the wedding ceremony, Ron our bus driver took us back to the Rittenhouse Hotel for cocktail hour and reception festivities:

Rittenhouse Hotel

Welcome to Reception

We were greeted by a beautiful room full of dapper looking people:

Cocktail Hour at Rittenhouse

Rittenhouse Hotel Cocktail Hour

Of course I made a beeline to the bubbly, where I met Maiel:

Maiel the Bartender

What you can't see in this photo, is that there was champagne all over his face. I walked up to the bar through the crowd of people and asked him for a glass. As we were chatting and he was twisting, the cork came out way to fast and shot clear across the room of 200 people as the bottle overflowed and bubbly went everywhere. Somehow the cork didn't hit anyone. We cracked up and I told him I wouldn't tell anyone, but all of you on the world wide web. Thanks Maiel! No one will ever know our secret- ha! :)

The appetizers during cocktail hour were absolutely delicious:

Bubbly & Appetizers at Rittenhouse Hotel

I managed to steal a quick shot of bride and groom Ginny and Chris greeting guests:

Ginny and Chris

I didn't want to jump in as the crazy wedding crasher and bother them when they were visiting with friends and family, but I had to at least get a back view of Ginny's gorgeous gown. We all kept saying how much she looked like one of those perfect bridal magazine models! Groom Chris is British so naturally the two ladies in the fabulous hats were from his side. (We American gals were swooning over their hats and wondering why we don't dress that way for weddings.) Of course after staring at these two ladies I had to introduce myself and ask if I could take a picture of them. Meet Mother and daughter Lynn and Chloe:

Lynn and Chloe

(Confession; This is the first time I have ever played around with red-eye edits on my iPhoto and look what I did to poor Lynn's eye. This is is why I just leave photos as is, mess with the original and look what happens. Ack! Sorry Lynn, You still look fabulous even though I made your right eye look blurry...)

After a bit of bubbly and a belly full of hors d'evoures, it was time to go upstairs to the grand ballroom for the reception. I found my alias stand in name on the table list:

Table List

We were led by staff in white gloves. I felt like royalty for a minute there:

Rittenhouse Servers

The grand ballroom met us just as it was called, decorated impeccably. I found my seat at table #18 and drooled excitedly as I looked over the menu for the evening.

To be continued in part 3...

Monday, March 28, 2011

who are you? (part 1)

Finally, the start of the much anticipated wedding crashing post.

Meet Ron:

Ron, our Bus Driver in Philly

Ron, our Bus Driver in Philly

Ron was the super sweet bus driver that took us from the Rittenhouse Hotel to the church for the wedding last weekend. We were late for the meeting time, so my friend and I ended up being the only 2 people in one of these busses:

Buses outside church at wedding

Talk about a personal coach! We enjoyed talking to Ron during the 45 minute ride through spring-fever Saturday Philadelphia traffic.

Ron told us he was from Philadephia, born and raised. He said he drove for a lot of different events like the wedding we were at. We laughed when shared stories about late night trips. Apparently groups of fancy people often get all schnockered up, then have a late-night hankering for the only place to be in Philly when it's after midnight and you're in a happy state of mind: Geno's and Pat's, so he drives them there to get their fix.

I'm sure Ron could could start his own blog about people on his bus; wit, or wit-out cheese, drippingly good cheesesteaks. We didn't end up going on Ron's bus for a cheesesteak run but we sure did have our own version at the Rittenhouse.

I'm getting way ahead of myself here, so a bit of back story on how the wedding crashing actually happened:

A while back my friend had told me she was going to a wedding for a weekend away, driving up, had a hotel set and told me I should come. As everyone knows, I love a road trip and I thought, oooh what fun. I haven't been to Philly for years, but I used to spend quite a bit of time there. I could explore the city and do what I love most; wander, snap photos, find good food, and hope to meet cool and interesting people while my friend participated in her festivities. I was in.

We arrived on Friday night, went to dinner with some other out of town guests as the bridal party was busy with the rehearsal stuff. I end up meeting the bride Ginny at the end of the night with the rest of the crew I was with. Ginny tells my friend there are two extra spots paid for because 2 guests bowed out last minute and that I should come. Why not?

The rest is history.

The next morning we raced around the city to find something for me to wear just in the nick of time. We got on the bus with Ron, I went to the wedding, cocktail hour, reception, and the after shindig, having an absolute blast, meeting fantastic people, eating delicious food and dancing the night away. It was a marathon of wedding fun and I loved every minute of it.

To be continued in part 2...

i just got a sneak peak...

...at the nearly finished brand spanking new BLR site. Then did cartwheels through the house.

Ooh I am excited! We only have a little way to go, then watch out world!

My friend Bobby RULES!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have to give some love to my small home city base of 13 years, Richmond, Virginia: How about those VCU Rams?! The streets are screaming right now. Awesome, just awesome.

Everybody loves and underdog.

Final Four baby!

yep, that's snow on my car...

Late March snow in Virginia- ack!

...this morning, in Virginia, and it's almost April.


Someone send me to the tropics!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

for those of you who've asked...

...about when the new BLR site will be done. Update!

More work is being done as we speak. My fabulous design and programming pal is cranking this weekend. Good things come to those who wait, so I appreciate this friend doing all he is for me therefore I'm going to be the last person to rush him. Thanks for being patient and I am glad you are all as excited to experience the next phase of BLR as I am!

In other news, there is a...well, we will call it a "trip" in the works, that I will be able to tell you more about in 2 weeks. Yessssssssssss.

Full crashed wedding post from last weekend will be here before you get back to your desk on Monday morning along with a post about my incredible Barboursville wine dinner at the Berkely Hotel last night. I am a feasting machine. Isn't that what it's all supposed to be about? (Smiling...)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

vino work- tough life

I got an invite to go crash another event tonight unexpectedly. Yay! I get to write about more yummy food and wine!

Did you know it's Virginia Wine Week?

Between getting back from a long weekend in Philly and NYC, completing 2 proposals for some fun upcoming projects, the event tonight, and working the next 3 days at a big ol' film festival, my blog time has been limited this week. (You know that is a total bummer for me, but all worth it in the long run. All part of the big picture.) Sleep? Who needs it. I'll sleep when I'm dead. So many people to meet, things to do, delectable treats to try, and adventures to find, so little time...

dear secco~

You rocked my late-afternoon Monday lunch world:

Lunch at Secco


Fried chickpeas? I don't even like chickpeas and I could eat these things by the bucket full.

Good food is pretty much the best thing ever.

new blushing bride ginny, if you are reading this...

...I'm sorry for the delayed wedding post! I can't wait to share here about what an amazing time I had on your special day. I've had some good surprises and work pop up this week, so I am one busy woman. I had such a blast that I don't want to miss any details, so I will work on the doozy of a good time story this weekend when I have some more time.

Thank you again for having me and making me feel like part of your crew of wonderful friends. It really was a weekend to be remembered.

I hope your first few days of wedded bliss have been everything you ever dreamed of!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

what's that saying again...timing is everything?

The past 5 days have been a whirlwind of unexpected fun and opportunity.

Enough said for now. Oh yeah- that and WAHOO! I swear when you stop trying so hard things just happen.

mean stinks

I just read about this Secret campaign. I totally dig it. Doesn't it feel better to say something nice about someone instead of something mean? Give it a try here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

a teaser from my wedding crashing

Cocktail hour at Rittenhouse

...and this was just the cocktail reception before all the rest of the festivities happened.

Full post to come in the next 2 days. (It's going to be a doozie...I took over a hundred photos!) I had the most fun I have had at an event in I don't know how long, ate absurd amounts of delectable food, met people that could not have been nicer, teared up at the Dad of bride's speech, and boogied the night away. To say it was a crazy blast of fun and marathon wedding celebrating is a severe understatement. I am still flying high from what a beautiful day it was with 200 perfect strangers.

While I complete this Philly and NYC long whirlwind weekend, I'll be off computer spending time and and on to human spending time collecting more great stories to bring back here, so hold tight.

See ya soon!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

today i am a wedding crasher

No lie.

Totally unplanned, but just got last minute invite to complete stranger, friend-of-a-friends wedding.

I just did a sprint through Rittenhouse Square speed shopping like I never have before to find something to wear.

This is going to be super fun. I love talking to strangers, especially 200 of them during all day and night festivities.

I'll be bringing you loads of photos and stories tomorrow so check back!

Friday, March 18, 2011

heading north

Heading I-95 north

Nothing makes me feel more alive or hopeful that all things are possible than being on the road.

2 girls, 2 cities, 4 days

It's very rare that I am not the driver, but this one is someone else's trip- I am just a tag along. I'm glad I have kept myself nuzzled nicely on the "Ask Diane! She'll go!" list. (I once got to go to two games of the world series with killer seats because I am all about jumping in when an adventure is offered.)

This morning a friend and I head off for a few days. First stop; The City of Brotherly Love, Second; The city so nice, they named it twice. Can we talk about how excited I am? Years ago I spent significant time in Philly and I have said since then, that it is a very underestimated city...love it there. New York? Well, you all know my thing about New York. I haven't been since the kick off of Alaska or Bust last July. There has been a part of my heart there since that time. I can't wait to feel that energy again.


You know you'll be getting good stories from this one so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2 guys all about some green

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, of course I had to find some Guinness related thing. Lucky me I met Kevin; The guy with the ever-so convenient bottle opener on his hat. I introduce you to Kevin with the great hat:

Guiness bottle opener hat

Looks like Kevin won't have any problem opening his beers tonight.

The other gent I'd like you to meet is Erin. Yes, very Irish E-R-I-N:

Erin Mullally in Ireland

Erin is from the states. I met him when we lived in the same city. He left to go live in Dublin several years ago and absolutely loves it. I always look forward his annual St. Patrick's Day email and photo. This is the one that came today:

"...from the Ring of Kerry, Co Kerry...next stop, the USA! Thinking of you and yours this sunny St. Patrick's Day morning in Ireland. Wear your green with pride and enjoy the day!"

Cheers Kevin and Erin! Thanks for being the Blue Lollipop Road, St. Patrick's Day mascots.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

gogobot loves blue lollipop road!

(We love them too.)

I got a note from Amy at Gogobot yesterday telling me they had added BLR to their "Blogs we love" section. See it here. BLR is proud to be a part of the travel-loving, adventure-seeking, yummy food-searching network of resources!

Have you started your Gogogbot passport yet?

Log on and get stamping!


"star-light, star-bright, first star i see tonight..."

Hey loyal readers!

Final touches are going on the new BLR site. (Happy dance! YIPPEE! Too bad we aren't on Skype right now.) Of course we have put our vision into play, but are all about feedback and pie in the sky wishes. Especially for anyone who's stuck around riding out this adventure with us for the past 3 years. We always want to hear about what you love to see here!

If anyone out there has a "I wish to see this or that"- please shoot me a note. We will see what we can do.

Can't wait for you all to be sticking around for the next 3, errr...333 years!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

meet vinny

Vinny Vasta- the amazing 97 year old dancer

Vinny was the amazing, dancing step great-grandpa from a friends wedding a couple weeks ago. What an absolute riot and adorable spirited 97 year old man...

...channeling some serious Frank Sinatra and even throwing in a little striptease action!

After his dance and the cake cutting, I stopped at his table to tell him I thought he was one fine dancer. I asked if I could have a picture taken with him. He was delighted at my request:

Me with the amazing Vinny Vasta

He was also very thankful for my compliments and said: "Well, thank you young lady, the name is Vinny. Vinny Vasta, from East 39th street in New York!" (And they he pulled out his drivers license to confirm his age. He was very proud.)

I have to tell you, it was one of the cutest things I have ever experienced. This man at 97, was more full of life than most 7 year olds. He had that perfect amount of sass and sweet that reminded me very much of my own grandpa who grew up in Brooklyn.

Thanks for the dance and making us all smile Vinny. I hope to be as full of life as you are in 65 years.

this is how i feel today

Time for change

Monday, March 14, 2011

feast, shake it, repeat

How I love a sunny and warm day. Especially when it's clock spring forward day. I hate to admit it, but if I never saw anything but sundresses in my suitcases again- I'd be one happy camper. Sweaters be gone forever!

Sun and warmth- you make me want to do and be everything...

My sunny day today included morning coffee with bedroom window wide open, then off to zumba to sweat out all the garlic I had in my dinner last night. Ladies, gents- I am telling you if you have not zumba'd before and you want to sweat your money maker off while you're shakin' it, try this salsa, meets hip-hop, meets belly dancing, meets Bollywood moving. We ended my class today with a Latin soul train that would've made even a corpse rock out. I am in love with zumba.

After shakin' it off, naturally I had to put it back on at Millie's for brunch with a crew of fun people:

Millie's Restaurant

(Whoopsie! I am forming a bad habit of gobbling up all my delicious food before snapping a shot of it, so all you get this go around is the classic Millie's table juke box.)

A walk around town was a must after the brunch feast, so away we went meandering around the canal walk and flood wall:

Floodwall entrance

Downtown Richmond, Virginia

I love the sound of traffic and trains. Underneath the train tracks:

View from under train tracks

Somebody needs to let this guy out! He clearly has spring fever just like all of us:

Indian atop Lucky Strike

Happy springing forward!

What will you do with more daylight?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

look who showed up in my inbox!

I wrote about a "nice man" I met in Minot, ND (pronounced my-knot) on August 5th last year. Minot was my last stop before entering Canada on my way to Alaska. I found a Starbucks, got my java and camped out like I often do when I'm on the road. While I was there a gentleman chatted with me from a table near. I gave him my card and told him what I was doing. I never heard a word from him, and like others I meet in my travels, I often wonder if they ever log on to check out this site. What a great surprise today, 7 months after I met this gent, I get the following note from my contact form:

Nice man in Minot Starbucks? Thanks! It was a cold day for anyone in shorts, but your Vermont sweatshirt must have helped. Great to see the Big Loop completed...James Ryan

How cool is that?!

He thought the website contact form didn't work, so I got this message on Facebook too:

Meeting you on a cold Minot day in Starbucks reminded me of my own journeys in Europe many years ago. Cold, but cheery, and with a mission. Glad you completed your journey north and around, and are on to your next ones. I tried making the posts work on your website and could not, but was showing my daughter your website this morning and thought I would try again. Nice man in Minot, how sweet...James Ryan

You all know meeting and talking to new people is my most favorite thing to do on the road. Contacting or keeping in touch with those I have met along my journey is a special thing to me. I've learned from every single person I've meet, and often made friends for life. I have ended up staying with some of these newer friends, they send me photos of their kids and grandkids and share stories about their lives. That is just the coolest thing to me. The best part of making new friends in the most random of places, is that I continually see that we are all the same. Everyone can relate to each other in some way. I have found overall, that perfect strangers are much nicer, more generous, and willing than anyone would ever believe. I love that- it keeps me inspired.

Thanks James Ryan from the Starbucks that day back in August on my journey of a lifetime. You just made my day. I hope you will keep adventuring and stay in touch!

antique cars are cool

I spotted this one today:

Antique car

Antique car

The Hemmings Motor News headquarters is in my hometown, so I got to see lots of neat cars like this one growing up. Maybe I should add going x-country in a car like this to the list of by train, RV, and convertible...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

meet lily


Yes, this is a real child- not a doll. Can you even stand how adorable she is? I want to eat her!

Lily is the granddaughter of a reader whom I met a couple years ago. We keep in touch via email fairly regularly and I always ask about the grand baby so he sends photos. Of course I had to ask permission to post this one. This kid is a Cheerios model in the making!

Thanks for sharing a BLR kid B! Now tell me, how far does she have you wrapped around her little finger?

free redbox rental

For real!

It's only a buck and they still send me coupons all the time. You know I love a deal. Click here for a freebie and I will get one too through 3/17.

Can you say movie marathon?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

no gps needed here

Thank you to P&G’s Have You Tried This Yet? program and Kroger for sponsoring my writing about trying new things and breaking out of my everyday routine. Click here to find great savings on high-performing P&G products at a Kroger store near you. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I am all about trying something new and getting others to hop on board with me. You could call me a cheerleader of adventure. I keep the excitement and curiosity of kid and constantly want to explore as if I'm still 8 years old. I hope that never changes.

Last May I quit my job, got rid of my apartments and sold everything I owned then drove from Virginia to Alaska with no plan. (If you have read here for a while, you know the story: Alaska was my 50th state, it was a lifelong goal, and I ended up on the road for 5 months with the trip being a wild success.) I didn't use a GPS and I still don't use one. On the trip I didn't even stop at a AAA office or look at a map until I got to Madison Wisconsin. I didn't know Alaska Highway was "world famous" until I got to it:

Alaska Highway, BC Canada

The great part about trying new things is that you never know what kind of surprise will be around the corner. I personally think it's better not to plan out/know what route you are going to take somewhere until day of. Can you imagine driving along and happening on something like this out of nowhere?

Hostoric Mile 635

(See Pablito, Juan and Juanita hanging out?:)

Historic Mile 635

Historic Mile 635

I spent a long time wandering around the rows and rows of signs and plaques people had left from all over the world. This spot was a complete surprise to me and wouldn't have been nearly as cool if I had known it was coming.

There were countless new things I saw and tried on my journey to and through Alaska. Here's a fun first of me crabbing for the first time:

Crabbing- er starfish catching

So, Ok- instead of scoring a bunch of crab, I caught a couple of creepy giant gelatinous starfish. I'm not going to be a pro fisherwoman anytime soon, but this wasn't too bad for a first try. I was thrilled to catch anything (as if you can't tell by the look on my face.)

I will always love to travel, because travel makes me to try new things. I connect with people I'd not otherwise meet, I'm more flexible, open and less judgemental. All those things help keep me being the person I want to be.

Here's to switching it up and trying it all. What new things have you tried lately?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

a wise man once told me:

(Ok, so this wise man is actually a friend who emailed me this morning...)

"When you've plucked all the pollen from a pasture, it's time to pollinate elsewhere."

Thanks G.

taking votes

I'd love to hear what you all vote on for the best city (place) to live. Dish here!

run for the border

I woke up in Florida with the balcony door to my hotel room wide open this morning and rolled over to see a text from my sister. She wasn't able to get to the gym for her boot camp class because the snow drifts where she currently lives had buried her car. After I responded: "Boo! Better you than me!"- she emailed these photos:

Church Street Burlington blizzard

Church Street Burlington blizzard


This is Church Street in Burlington, Vermont. (Usually hustling and bustling any day of the year.) If you've ever been to Vermont, you know that even during the frigid winter months, people are out, about, driving, shopping- you name it, snow doesn't stop them. Well, today was obviously a different story. Even the interstate was closed! (My sister sent me a photo of snow drifts halfway up the sliding glass door at her house too but I can't find that one now...)

I think I'd rather be hung by my toenails upside down for a week than to live in these kind of conditions. This means I am one whimpy Vermonter and have been gone long enough to think that 70 degrees is cold. Hats off to you Green Mountain Staters that can hack it in this stuff. I be you'll be happy when (if) spring comes.

If you live there, send me you address and I'll send you some hot cocoa!

Monday, March 7, 2011

i'm here...

...just on the road and have been partaking in wedding festivities and high school reunion catch ups, so not much computer time.

Lots of photos and videos of dancing great-grandpas named Vinny to come. What a great weekend!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

this honda has been everywhere

BLR- Mobile at South Carolina state line

...and now we are in Florida, enjoying good times with old friends for a wedding weekend. Palm trees, 80 degrees and people I haven't seen in 16 years make for a seriously fantastic weekend. (And laughing until my stomach hurts.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

fill your trunk with pedros junk!

It's South of the Border fun! If you have ever driven I95 you know it's impossible to pass this place without stopping. Pedro welcomes you. How could you not stop at "America's favorite highway oasis"?

South of the Border with BLR-Mobile

During my stop, I discovered once again that:
1.) I am the worlds worst videographer.
2.) I am the epitome of classy; I managed to use the words "crotch" and "pee" within 2 minutes of video. (Mom is so proud.)
3.) It takes very little to entertain me.

During my visit, I learned that Pedro could work on his bathrooms a bit:

Pedros clean- ahem- bathrooms

...and poor Pedros Ice Cream Fiesta looked more like a no-show Pedro party than a well- attended shindig:

Pedros ice cream fiesta

A few of the best parts of my South of the Border stop this go around:

1.) Posting real time photos on Twitter and Facebook and hearing responses and suggestions as to what to buy. (Man, people love this place!)
2.) Adding another crazy spot to the BLR-Mobile passport. In less than 6 months, my auto bff and I have driven through half of the country of Canada, all around Alaska, among the grapevines in Napa, 4 feet of snow in Vermont, South of the Border, just to name a few and there are more spots coming. Did I mention not one brake job, break down, or issue? Honda, I love you. If it weren't for you my life would not be nearly as fun. That is no lie.
3.) Finding out once again, that not much beats a road trip. People do really love cheesy roadside entertainment and the hope of meeting an interesting character.

I'm glad you have now met Pedro in case you have never been to S.O.B before. (Hee hee...S.O.B.) I told you I was going to start posting regular BLR "People." I never promised whether they'd be human or not :)

Off to search for more characters and the world largest jar of Nutella...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

v pizza

Perhaps I am overly aware of state shapes because I have been to all 50? Here's a previous post about Virginia cheese. The v cheese was just as random as this Vermont pizza I had last night. I started cutting and all the sudden:

Vermont pizza

(Not the best photo ever...I had to quick snap so I could gobble it up before it got cold.) It even has Lake Champlain crust on the top left side! Vermont image here.

(DP and LP~ You laughing yet?)

I really don't look for states in my food. It just happens. If you know me, you know food doesn't stick around long enough for me or anyone for that matter- to look for shapes in it.

Yummy states of pizza at Belly Timber!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

last round of surprises...for now

Ok, so I don't know if some of these things qualify as surprises or not, but recently started calling the next phase of BLR and things I am updating surprises, so we will just roll with it.

If you've been following, you know that:

*We are in our 3rd year here on the Blue Lollipop Road
*We launched BLR Adventures last weekend with a wildy successful outing
*We have been working on a completely new site out to launch in the next couple weeks. I just got the tiniest little sneak peek and almost jumped out of my pants. (FYI that means I was really excited because these jeans are so tight I can barely breathe. Thank you winter and Nutella habit.)
*I remembered that I used to write a lot of TTAA (Things that are awesome) and had forgotten, but have recently brought them back and will make them regular posts.

So the other little surprise I have been brewing up...

One of the best things about my day is the people. Whether I meet and chat with a new person or old friend where I am living, or whether I am on the road in some teeny town in the middle of now where and meet a friendly stranger. Sharing time with people I can laugh with or learn from is hugely important in my day. Posting photos and stories here about people I meet in my travels has always been a favorite of mine and apparently yours too. The two entries that have the most all time hits here are "Meet Jack" and "Meet Willy Robinson." I like talking to kids and older people like these two gents best because they are so unfiltered. Those are the genuine moments I am looking for.


The tribe has spoken! You all like to read about everyday people and I like to challenge myself to ask complete strangers random questions and if I can take photos of them. (Most people look at me like I'm nuts when I ask them this. Then they warm up once they see I just want their story, not their money.) I'm adding a "People" category here and will be posting fun stories about interesting characters on a regular basis moving forward.

Here's to meeting the next Jack and Willy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

it's time for another road trip...

...sunshine and warm style. Casualty of the job, what can I say- twist my arm.

This trip will be a fairly short one, but certainly provide for some good stories and blasts from the past. Get ready for some funny photos and video!


Table at Starbucks

Table at Starbucks

Ever think about what you could make out of all that junk you throw away or that stuff you walk over in the woods?