City Guide: Jackson Hole

A Sunday morning coffee thought. I’ve met so many people through my travels and the motivators behind planning travel interest me: do you go back to the same place every year? do you pick a different destination to explore each trip? do you use a travel planner, or pour hours into researching a destination, or just book the trip and figure it out when you get there? I’m the kind of person that spends hours planning the trip – from setting flight alerts to areas on my travel bucket list, to picking restaurants, accommodations and mapping out a day-by-day itinerary. I put my heart and soul into my travels because I don’t think it’s guaranteed that I’ll be back and I want to get the most out of every destination. I do see the allure of arriving and figuring everything out, but to me that’s too risky. What kind of traveler are you?

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I recently went back to a destination that has a very special place in my heart. Little did I know when I planned this trip that my heart would be hurting due to a tragic death in my family – my Gramps passing away in his sleep. There is something incredibly soothing about visiting a place that means so much to you, it feels familiar, yet like it wants to challenge your senses. My Gramps accomplished in many areas, but one of his favorite things was nature photography, so being immersed in all the nature immediately after his passing felt like I was with him. He was on my mind the entire time.

Jackson Hole is the intersection of the wild west and Americana old school class and here are some of the highlights:

Stay:

Mountain Modern Motel – I helped open Mountain Modern Motel, a contemporary motel right off the main square in Jackson Hole. The accommodations are functional and minimalistic, with every modern convenience you could hope for. The rooms are equipped for your favorite Jackson activities, i.e. there is an area in your room to store your skis, hooks on the wall for your backpacks and a large sink to clean off your hiking boots. This is the perfect base-camp for your time in Jackson Hole.

Do:

Jackson Hole Shopping – Walk around the square and peek into the shops selling western novelties. I snagged a turquoise ring, plaid pajama shorts and some blackberry salt water taffy.

Via Ferrata – With Italian origins, this sport is exhilarating and an exciting change after days of hiking. You are harnessed via steel cords to the mountain and literally climb and scale the rock formations.

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Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park – Take a day and enjoy the beauty of my favorite national park. There is nothing like seeing the Grand Tetons on a clear day. I recommend taking a hike around Jenny Lake and then boating back to continue to your car and driving through Yellowstone National Park. You’re guaranteed to see wildlife – I got lucky and saw a moose!

Eat:

Cream + Sugar Ice CreamWe met the owner behind Cream + Sugar ice cream sandwiches. My favorite flavors were huckleberry and mint chocolate chip.

Snake River BreweryCan’t come out west without stopping at a place like this. Sit outside and enjoy the view of the mountains, with people sitting around fire pits and playing corn hole.

Lotus Organic CaféStop here for your fix of grain bowls, salads and noodle dishes. Get your perfect lunch Instagram here.

Persephone Bakery I couldn’t believe a place like this exists in Jackson! Enjoy your croissants, cappuccinos, and granola by the outdoor fire pit and snuggle up with the blankets they drape over chairs.

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Are there any places you can’t stay away from? xC

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Nashville City Guide

In life, we don’t take enough spontaneous trips. I’m not talking getting in your car, or in my case subway, and going to a new neighborhood and eating brunch; I’m talking buying a last minute ticket and flying somewhere. I’ve been guilty of this too, until last weekend when I surprised my mom and flew to meet her in Nashville, where she was putting on a conference.

EAT

Pinewood Social if WeWork were a restaurant it would be Pinewood Social. Coffee served alongside cocktails, a community table covered in MacBooks alongside booths filled with people eating sandwiches and salads. In the back find a swanky bowling alley, and in the summer you can find an airstream serving cocktails next to the swimming pool and bocci ball courts.

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Hattie B’s Famous Nashville Hot Chicken. We waited 45 minutes at 2pm for it. Hangry? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

Red Bicycle – Crepes and coffee. Next time, I would plan to start my morning here before heading to get a manicure/pedicure at the adorable nearby salon, Poppy & Monroe.

Fin & Pearl – Had a reservation here though I didn’t end up making it. Go here for an elevated seafood dinner.

Biscuit Love – Another one I didn’t make it to. Upon pulling up in our uber, we realized many other people had the same idea. It was raining so we opted not to wait, but the line supposedly moves quickly and the biscuits are apparently worth it.

Acme Feed & Seed – Come here for frozen moonshine lemonade, rooftop views and people watching. On the bottom level check out the on air radio station.

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DO

12 South – This seems to be the trendy spot in Nashville – home to Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James, curated graffiti on every corner and a celebrity jean favorite, imogene + willie. Ideal spot for brunching followed by shopping.

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Broadway – The touristy must-see spot in Nashville. A street where every shop is either a cowboy boot store or bar with live music. The musicians rotate every four hours, so at that time you can expect the masses to flock to the streets looking for a new place to order a PBR and do the two step. If you’re lucky enough you might see the Nashville Clogger – you are in for a treat. Though not a country fan, we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame (loved the Bob Dylan exhibition). Make sure to stop by the GooGoo Factory – home to the famous Nashville sweet treat.

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It was a great spontaneous weekend, and my lesson? Book the ticket.

Lessons in Food: Gleanings from living with my Grandparents

For those of you that don’t know, I lived with my grandparents for the last three months. I get mixed reactions when I tell people this, everything from “bet you’re excited to get out of there” to “enjoy the time with them.” The truth is: I loved every minute of it. Even when my grandparents bickered over the daily trials of living together for over 50 years, I found solace in being surrounded by two people who have seen so much and care so much about me.

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Though I lived with them, we didn’t see too much of each other as I work during the days. The two definitive times we spent together were breakfast and dinner.

Breakfast normally went something like this: I would sneak down the stairs to hear my grandmother sweetly say, “Do I hear a mouse?” I would then pop an espresso pod into the machine and decide between the breakfast options I knew my grandmother had spent hours carefully choosing at the grocery. My grandma always stocks fresh fruit, varieties of bread and endless options of cereal, so the decision, while not easy, made breakfast feel like a treat. We even made up a few recipes as the summer passed, our favorite being fruit salad on top of waffles with no syrup, just sweetened by the natural taste of the fruit. This was especially enjoyable for my diabetic grandmother who didn’t have to miss out on yet another tasty bite of Canadian maple syrup. At some point in my meal, she would go out to grab the paper and assess the weather, and return, inquisitive as to what I had made. The look of pleasure of her grocery shopping success was enough to make my day.

Dinner was my grandpa’s domain. The third thing he decided when he woke up was what was for dinner–after what to wear and if he should bike or swim. I kid you not. So, off to work I went fully anticipating my grandpa’s dinner when I was to return home that evening. My grandpa, or rather, Chef Arthuro, is an amazing cook. I imagine some of his culinary excellence has been acquired by his extensive travels and is in his blood, and therefore in mine. He grew up in Brooklyn, rode his bike through Europe and went on several medical missions to Pakistan and India. He took things away from each that translate to his cooking. Not to mention, his career as a surgeon gives him the cutting credentials in the kitchen.

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Dinner was served promptly when I got home, the meal ready to go at the exact moment I entered the door, with a table beautifully set by my grandma. Favorite meals? Salmon Arthuro and Eggplant Arthuro. Sorry, I am not permitted to share the recipe.

Dinner was followed by a variety of cheese that my grandpa and I washed down with wine and after a clap and the posed the question of “how many coffees?”, my Gramps would quickly run to the bathroom to brush his teeth, or “cleanse his palette” for dessert. Watermelon, Klondike bars, and Bosch pears covered in Grand Marnier were our favorites.

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Eating with my grandparents taught me to slow down and enjoy conversation. No phones allowed, no rushing through a meal to watch a TV show. You sit, you have conversation and you digest.

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The stories that were shared, the love that went into making each meal, and sitting between my two healthy grandparents…reflecting on it, these meals were the best part of my summer.