Birthday Trip to Canada

From day one of our relationship, Annie and I have loved to travel together.  We have found nothing else quite as thrilling and exciting as exploring a new city together and creating memories through those experiences that can only be gained  while encountering something for the first time.  So, in honor of her birthday, we took off for Canada this weekend and have  had an amazing trip thus far, with a couple fun days still ahead.

We are continually reminded of the fact that there is one decision on which the entire success of the trip hinges: the choice of hotel.  And, with Annie's passion and expertise for hotels and the work she is doing, we have been supremely fortunate with our choices thus far.  Our first night, before crossing the border into Canada, we stopped at the Sagamore on Lake George in Upstate New York.  From the first moment we arrived to the bittersweet moment when we departed the next day, every angle from every vantage point on property was a picture waiting to happen. It is the most that I have ever personally paid for a hotel room and, within the first hour of our arrival, the least I have ever cared how much a hotel room cost. It was that amazing.

Our second destination of the trip was Quebec City.  On our approach through town, we passed hotel after hotel in the modern and then the touristy parts of town, but our directions said to keep driving and our destination would be on the right.  But the only thing that I keep seeing on my right ahead in the distance was a towering castle with green cooper roofs and spires borrowed from fairy tales.  But, when the road we were on dead-ended with a magnificent view of the river, it finally set in that the architectural masterpiece on our right was in fact our hotel.  From the lobby to the views to the proximity to Old Town Quebec, the carbon copy of the beloved quaint villages of France, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac proved to be magic embodied in a hotel, the most photographed hotel in the world.

But, as our (much needed) vacation and (much deserved) celebration of Annie's birthday continues now in Montreal and Mont Tremblant, I take back the statement the the most critical decision you make about a trip is which hotel you stay at.  That is the second most important.  The first and most important decision you can make is this: who you travel and share your adventure with.  I know the significance because I know that I am the lucky one. I know the importance because I know what it is like to have the more than you know you deserve.  And, I am extremely honored to say, I know this better than anyone because I have Annie.  Not just on this trip to Canada, but on the journeys and challenges that have been ours to share in the past and the adventures and dreams that await us in the future.

Happy Birthday to my Love.  Happy Birthday to my Annie.

Annie in Vogue

Due to the fantastic fashion sense and poise that Annie has, it was no surprise to me when I was walking through the airport this weekend and saw her face on the cover of Vogue! The article inside details out her picks for the season and the trends that she has seen on her travels that she believes will make their way to America in the coming year...... Okay, well, not really. But does give you some really fun ways to manipulate and snaz up your profile picture! Enjoy!

Traveling, Mormons, and the Cowboys

I am sitting in the Boise, Idaho airport right now (which has free WiFi - how great is that!) and in look back over the past week of travel it is all kind of a blur. I left Dallas to go to Salt Lake City for a couple of days to do some work in the RunPolitics home office. Salt Lake City has a great walkable downtown, but a severe lack of Starbucks locations due to the Mormon church not having an appreciation of the joys of caffeine:

“We know that cola drinks contain the drug caffeine. We know caffeine is not wholesome nor prudent for the use of our bodies. It is only sound judgment to conclude that cola drinks and any others that contain caffeine or other harmful ingredients should not be used.” LDS Info

From SLC I took a round about trip to Reno. Reno is a one hour flight from SLC. Southwest Airlines only has one direct flight on that route each day, so I took a one hour flight from SLC to Las Vegas and then another one hour flight from LAs Vegas to Reno creating an equilateral triangle of flights.
For three days I attended the Conservative Leadership Conference and represented RunPolitics to those in attendance. Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, Dick Armey, and Alan Keyes were some of the speakers. There were a lot of Libertarians in attendance and the speaker's messages were tailored accordingly.
I was suppose to fly back to SLC through Las Vegas again this afternoon, but then I saw that the Cowboys/Patriots game was going to be on while I was in the air, and that just wasn't going to work (esp. since I watched the Cowboys' amazing Monday night comback on ESPN gamecast and had no idea how amazing it was until I called my brother back in Texas, where they actually appreciate competitive sports and not just the Olympics) So I caught the earlier flight from Reno to SLC, but this time it took me to Boise. But I will be on the ground in time to grab a beer and plop myself in front of a TV and cheer on my hometown team.
Traveling leads to so many great stories and such a great understanding of how huge and diverse the world is. I am very fortunate to have grown up traveling and knowing how to travel is a great skill to have. There are so many idiots at hotels, in airports, and on planes it amazes me. I saw a guy argue with a TSA representative in the security line that his watch didn't need to come off and that it didn't have a bomb in it. She quickly yelled "Male Assist, double code blue" and ushered him into the glass cubicle where he was greeted by two very large and none too happy TSA men that keep him there for another twenty minutes. When he ran past me to make his flight I couldn't help but laughing out loud. Just take off the watch!
For some more incredible stories about the amazing people you meet when traveling, check my girlfriend Annie Fitzsimmons blog. She is a magnet for incredible stories and Good People.

Shoplifting Knowledge

Annie and I love Barnes and Noble. We are almost becoming regulars. There is a guy that we have decided to call "Scott" that we see at our Barnes and Noble every single time we're there. "Scott" drives a 1993 two door Honda civic and lives in Richardson and manages a small IT team at a local corporation where he's worked for 11 years, but he really loves books about Russia and anything there, or at least that is the story that we've made up about him. Annie and I have a routine. We walk in together, split up to find out reading of choice, and reunite in the cafe (which serves Starbucks coffee) at the corner table by the window. I usually bring three books from the business section and a magazine that has an article that caught my eye. Annie usually has five or six magazines and a travel book about one of her favorite destinations (and there are quite a few, so I never know which one it is going to be.) Most of the time after about the third paragraph I realize that my reading experience will be aided by caffeine. When I get back with some variety of coffee I tend to be more successful at putting on my 'thinking cap.' After Annie has finished her magazines and I've jotted some notes on a napkin, we put our books back and head out. We don't buy anything usually, except my coffee. But we leave with a little more insight into our world and an excitement that there is a lot more to learn next time we go to Barnes and Noble to shop lift knowledge.

ONCE - While in Scottsdale for Memorial Day with Annie and her family I went and saw “Once.” Annie’s older brother lives in Hollywood and is a great source for all sorts of tidbits and news on how things really work in the industry and what is really going on in the land of glitz and glamour. Greg was in town for the weekend and insisted that we all go see this movie. He had already seen it twice and was so pumped about it that he offered to buy tickets for us all to go on Sunday afternoon. We got to the theatre with plenty of time for all eight of us (we roll with quite a posse when everyone is in town) to get seated on the same row. All I knew about the movie before it got started was what Annie’s younger brother Timmy had told me, “An Irish musical that has done really well at the festivals and Greg likes it.” The key phrase in there for me is “Greg liked it.” That means two things to me when coming from Timmy: Timmy is going to like it and I am not going to get it.
“Once” tells the story of two individuals from two different places in life that are unified by the music that they make together. Their harmonies heal the wounds of past relationships. It is an amazing story that I actually now consider to be incredible and really got me pumped about the fact that I saw a movie that most of the world hasn’t heard much about it. I didn’t just find it to be good; I found it to be great. But to be honest, that is the conclusion that I came to four days later. While watching the movie I leaned over to Annie and said, “What is the point? Is there going to be a plot injected into the ramblings of this story anytime soon?” Walking out to the car I could see the ecstasy on Timmy’s face, Greg have been right again! Another amazing movie uncovered by our Hollywood insider. In the car I looked at Annie and told her that it was fun to spend time with her family, but what was the point of that movie? Fast forward four days. I bought the soundtrack. I didn’t buy the soundtrack for fact that I liked the movie. I bought the soundtrack because the music had been haunting me. While watching the movie it was not apparent to me that the music was as great as I know believe it to be, it was just part of the movie. After downloading the music from iTunes I immediately began listening through the songs and in the most vivid pictures in my imagination I saw each scene from the movie. A couple days after that, I couldn’t think without having the music as the soundtrack for my every waking thought. As I am typing this I am singing the second song from the album. But, that being said, I give a whole hearted two thumbs up to “Once” and agree with Timmy that Greg was right. (editing by anniefitzsimmons)