Thoughts from the Appalachian Trail: 962 miles; 6/15/2022

Slept at Mathew’s Arm campground in Shenandoah National Park. space A62

Woke up at 6:15a. Very hot and muggy. Lots of bugs. Thank goodness for bug nets!! Eventually had to get out of bed as i was sweating bullets. Ugh 😩.

Wayside camp store

Tons of caterpillars dropping from trees. So gross.

Brushed teeth, washed face, got dressed. Made breakfast, toasted bagels with egg and cheese. Used a little of leftover pico de gallo in the eggs. A trick i learned from a former work colleague, Sue Myers! Thanks Sue!!

Did a modified camp break, so we could get rolling quicker. Rolled the mattress topper and fitted sheet up with the Luno air mattress. I kind of like this approach. Shaves off at least ten minutes of packing effort.

Saw airlife, an ambulance and a few Ranger trucks at the intersection of US 211 and Skyline. Wonder what happened? Had Jake back on trail by 8:38A. Dropped at Meadow Spring Trailhead, which is .80 from the AT (941.9). Very intense uphill hike with a lot of rocks! Will have to plan our EOD pick ups and drop offs better.

Stone fireplace ruin along the Meadow Spring trail

Drove back to Mathew’s Arm CG to pay for camping X2 nights. Had a nice chat with the park ranger about bears. This camp ground is fairly prolific with a few bear families. Will have to be super mindful at night with our supplies in bear boxes! Also asked about the apparent accident at US 211. Ranger said it was a hiker with significant injuries. Probably not a Thru hiker because the AT doesn’t run Thru that particular area 🤷‍♀️

Campground bear family 😳

Met up with Jake-a-Lope at Beahm’s Gap (947.5) for a quick trail cola! It’s HOT today!! Hiked in a bit. Moving ahead to Elk Wallow wayside so we can meet up for lunch!! I’m jumping on trail to find him and hike in with him 😃

We had an amazing lunch consisting of smash burger (for me) and Beyond Burger (for him). They were fresh made and delish! Sat with a couple of fellas who shared stories of past trail exploits. They were hilarious! I was laughing so loud, maybe even obnoxiously…it was a nice break before i told Jake to “hit the trail” again, “we are burning daylight!” Begrudgingly, he strapped in his backpack and got back at it!

I ran back to camp to pick up dirty clothes and then all the way back to Big Meadows! Apparently, the closest place to do laundry. It was a 45 minute drive and i will be cutting it super close for picking him up at EOD. I was able to squeeze in a shower between washing and drying, so that was nice. I’ve been sweating for about 3-weeks straight now, it’s disgusting. I will have to hose Jake off later at camp. He hates the bag shower, but it’s what we have and works in a pinch.


Was able to finally find Jake-a-lope and extract him from a freshly mowed, side of the road field. Logistics can be difficult but as long as we stay flexible, it’s all part of the journey!!

Sunset on 6/15 🥰

Gave Jake a camp shampoo, so he is smelling pretty fresh right now 🥳

We had bologna and American cheese sandwiches for dinner. Completed with smashed chips in the middle. We are finally winding down and getting ready for story time! Duncan will hold his baby for the first time… or will he?

Good night!!

Inside back of Mazda CX-9, converted to sleeper with Luno mattress
Meadow Spring Trail, end of day pick up

Blue Toad Cidery

About 4-miles off trail (an easy hitch) and just east of the Appalachian Trail at Reid’s Gap is Blue Toad Cidery. Devil’s Backbone Brewery is directly across the street, but this place is a hidden gem.

Gorgeous scenery, right along the river! You can cozy up inside or take a seat right along the river to enjoy your cider! Manager, Angela, provided a quick tour of their fermentation facility and explained, “…we brew every thing in house. All the apples are locally sourced through agreements with local apple growers.

We ferment everything in-house and have a contract with a mobile cannery. They come on site when we are ready to can. They bring everything, and it works like a conveyor line. It’s quite the process!!”

Angela, giving me the tour!
Fermentation tanks

I am currently enjoying the Paddy Green Irish Cider. The description states, “dry with a tart finish. Made with 100% Granny Smith apples.” But i was still worried about too much sweetness. 🤷‍♀️ However, this did not disappoint! Slightly tart, very slight hint of sweetness and a whole lot of deliciousness! Very smooth, no ugly tart face here!! Full confession here, I’m on my second pint!!

Paddy Green Irish Cider (not really green at all!)

They only have food on Saturdays here, so you can pack a picnic to enjoy, or go across to DB for lunch.

The property is beautiful with outdoor and indoor seating opportunities available.

They currently offer RV camping only, no tents. But hey, stumble across the street and you can shower and camp at DB! It’s all good on your trail journey!

Happy hiking!!


A Foodie Experience at the San Antonio (Texas) Airport (SAT)

Back in November (2021) I had the pleasure of having my own, personal foodie “experience”, at the San Antonio Airport.  Not every experience needs to be “Big” or planned out.  Sometimes you can just walk in to it.  As long as you are open to trying new things, a multitude of experiences are waiting for you.  The wine today is a particular stand out.  Something my mouth won’t soon forget.  Would it be this good, if I took it home with me?  I don’t know, but would love to find out and share this with my husband. 

I am on a work trip to my home town of San Antonio, Texas. A culinary destination in its own right. Sure, I have my usuals. My “must-haves” when I touch down in San Antonio. Bill Miller’s “poor boy” brisket sandwich,

Brisket poor boy sandwich on rye bread!! 🤩

Mexican food (puffy tacos to be exact),

Delectable and famous Puffy Taco 🌮

and Blanco BBQ’s Chicken Fried Steak (it’s legendary… and if it isn’t, it should be!).

Chicken Fried Steak!

Today, I am at the Airport on my way back to the East Coast. I had about 3-hours to kill, so I had to make a very tough decision. Mexican food or Vino Volo? Yep, you guessed it, Vino Volo it is! I ordered the “Blockbuster Red” flight. A little pricey but, it had some very promising offerings of Bordeaux style blends. I started with an Opus One, then on to a Brio 2015 Red Blend…but the Cornell Vineyards 2014 Cab Sav was the true stand out here!

First of all, I can not believe that this is a Sonoma wine. My brain just refuses to accept that fact. The complexity, the mouthfeel, the way I can taste the earth and the age of the vines is just transformative. Not that I’m a wine snob or an expert in any way, but wow. Coming off a recent trip to Bordeaux, France this wine takes me back. Which is one of the primary things that connects me to the food and wine experience. It is the ability to be transported back to a memory or to another place with a simple bite or a sip.

Secondly, I am so happy Vino Volo made it through the pandemic shut down.  This place is a haven for weary travelers who just want a bit a good jazz “chill” music in the background, fantastic wine options, and a decent food pairing to round out a rigorous travel and work schedule.  Today is just an ordinary day in the life of THIS road warrior and I can’t wait to get home!

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, I can say this airport has been a labor of love to fly in and out of.  Don’t get me wrong, it has been AWESOME  having an international airport in my backyard…quite literally in my backyard, since I grew up about 5-minutes down the road!   But that’s another story.  What used to be a small, 2-terminal airport is now a HUGE, multi-terminal behemoth.  The one thing this airport has never skimped on is the variety of food choices.  Thank goodness Vino Volo landed here too!  If you have never been to a Vino Volo, well then… you probably aren’t reading my blog, because you don’t like food and wine…and you don’t even know better!  Also, if you actually haven’t been in one of these yet and have about 20-30 minutes to chill, then I definitely recommend stopping in.  You can even buy bottles to take home with you.  Just don’t try to crack one open on a flight…speaking from personal experience, that is a bad thing!

Also, YES! My husband did get to try to the wine. Most of it made it back!


Kauai Beaches & Food Tour

My vacations are primarily centered around hiking and food. This vacay is no different. Kauai is full of both, at a World class level. I have spoken to so many people who have “visited” Kauai and only saw the Poi’pu and Waimea side of the island. They have no idea what Kauai is actually about!

My personal favorite is the Northern side of the island. Not because I’m bougie but, because i love the densely forested hiking areas and primitive beaches. I truly enjoy the feeling of being lost, in the middle of nowhere and the North side has an abundance of all those feels. Every time i visit Kauai, i find a new beach or hike and it always surprises me!

Queen’s Bath
Looking out over Queens Bath

Queen’s Bath is actually a pretty cool hike! Oftentimes the gated door leading to the trailhead will be padlocked, but just walk around to the far right and you will find a small, established footpath that takes you around the gated area. Just make sure you play it smart, or you could end up as one of the notches on the “death” board near the baths ☠️

Hideaway Beach
Low tide at Hideaway Beach

Hideaway Beach was an amazing find! We’ve stayed in the Princeville area 3 times now and didn’t know this was here. The path is just behind Hideaway Pizza and is concrete but, that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough 😆 it’s a very steep grade getting down, so wear proper shoes.

This was a great place to snorkel and check out some pretty cool tide pools! Take a cooler with a lunch and some drinks, to make a day of it! There are lots of trees for coverage. And you can paddle out beyond the reef for surfing too.

Snorkeling at turtle cave
Green Sea Turtles 🐢
Incredible patterns on the sea cave

Turtle cave is located on the beaches/cliff areas right adjacent to the Bali Hai in Princeville. It’s a fairly strenuous hike down and you have to navigate over some pretty gnarly volcanic boulders to get in to the water and enter the caves. Again, wear shoes or your feet will get destroyed. make sure you check the tide report before you go. You do not want to get caught off guard. This is not Disney Land!

Hiking up Okolehao trail to Hihimanu summit ridge
On the ridge trail
Okolehao and Hihimanu in the distance!
Beach trail leading over to Hanalei Bay, 1.2 mile hike

Curious about the best time of year to visit Kauai? Well that really depends 🤷‍♀️ my personal favorite time of year is winter, Jan-March. Although, it can be a wetter time of year, the whales are moving in, the waves are larger, and for hiking, it’s not too hot yet! Kauai (or any of the islands) can get super warm in the summer months.

Be adventurous! Drive to another side of the island from where you are staying. Talk to locals. Take a tour! I highly recommend a food tour with Tasting Kauai! Ask for guide “Susan”. She is a wealth of knowledge in the local Hawaiian culture.

Furakake fries at Kenji
Kenji Kobe beef burger
Tacos at Verde!
Brussels at Kauai Beer in Lihue 😋


Travel to Kauai “post-COVID”

No COVID is not over, it’s still a thing and there are still protocols in place that must be followed if you want to enjoy your trip. It’s a drag, but hey, being sick can also be a drag, so let’s focus on the positive,,, YOU ARE TRAVELING! Or maybe you are getting ready to travel to Hawaii! 🤙

First off, to get to Hawaii you definitely have to be prepared for some significant travel time and you need to make sure and register your trip on the Hawaii State “safe travels” website. As of today (3/15/2022) you still need to provide vaccination status in order to avoid quarantine. It’s a total pain in the rear end, but if you are a World traveler, then you already know that this is a requirement pretty much anywhere right now. It takes about 15 minutes to complete and then you are ready to roll!

Secondly, make sure you get a window seat, the photographs from the air are incredible. At approximately 40,000 feet, you are damn near in suborbital flight!

Somewhere over Colorado

Masks are totally still in vogue and mandatory when you fly and when you visit any in door establishment in Hawaii. It looks like this may go away as of 3/25, so fingers crossed, the islands will be fully open!!

Wear your mask, unless you are eating 😆

The season of the mask is almost over, so start making your plans to get out there and enjoy some beach time in Hawaii!


It’s Super Satisfying Trimming Meat!

Who doesn’t love a great cut of meat procured for a super great price in bulk? Vegetarians, THAT question was not for you. But seriously, there’s nothing like buying a whole beef tenderloin and getting it home to prep, then after a couple of filet cuts, you hit gristle and you’re like “what the heck?!” (or other expletives), i thought this was a “good” cut of meat! What you didn’t know is even a “good” cut of meat has to be trimmed of the “silver” skin and the tendon that runs along the length of the whole piece. You can buy it pre-trimmed but, #1 it costs more per pound, and #2, i like to form a bond with my meat and that requires hands on prepping.

Lastly, you can get all sorts of cool morsels off of your trimmings, you wouldn’t have had other wise! and mmmm, just pop those yummy little pieces right in your mouth 👄 a little salt and pepper is all you need!

Hopefully, you find watching me trim meat as satisfying as I do…doing it!

Do you have any cool tricks with bulk meat purchases?


Dried Chili Salsa

Rehydrated chili


6 oz dried Guajillo Chili

6 oz dried Padilla Chili

2 Tbsp of dried chili Pequins (if you like spicy, if not, then omit)

2 HEADS of garlic peeled

1 sweet yellow onion peeled

2-3 Tbsp sea salt

4-5 limes juiced

1 Tbsp dried Cumin

1 bunch (2 cups) fresh Cilantro

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Boil a large pot of water. Remove from heat when boiling. Immediately add dried chili pods, push pods under water (they like to float), and Soak for an hour to rehydrate.

Soak those Chilis!

Wait 30-minutes then, in a blender, Purée onion and garlic. Add about a 1/2 cup of chili water from the pot of soaking pods, to help the blending.

Blend the onion and garlic

In a large sauce pot, add the oil and heat on medium til glossy. Add the slurry of onion and garlic to the pot and 1 Tbsp of sea salt. Sauté for about 10 minutes. ⚠️ THIS MAY CAUSE YOU TO TEAR UP… as in cry. Turn the stove top vent on to help alleviate this!

After about ten minutes of cooking the “on-gar” slurry, start to blend up the rehydrated chili. I used two blenders for this but, you can do in batches. Make sure on of the batches gets the cilantro blended in with it! You will need to add the chili water (by the ladle) in to the blender to help the chili blend. It will be thick but you want it to move around. Add enough of the chili water until you see consistent movement. *if using the chili pequin, then add these to the blender at this point! Then pour in to the pot with the on-gar sauté.

Once in the pot, squeeze fresh limes or add the pre-squeezed juice and cumin to the pot.

Cook til bubbles form and then switch to low for a simmer. You want this to simmer together for about an hour. But don’t let it burn. You can add additional chili water if you like more fluid.

Once it cools down a bit I jar this nectar of the chili Gods and use it throughout the winter. My lucky family and friends, might get a jar as a gift 🎁

Now, some people like to add sugar and/or vinegar. I am not a big proponent of added sugar, so i leave it out. Vinegar can be a nice add if using this as more of a chip dip. For this sized batch you could add 1/2 a cup of white vinegar. And salt this to taste.

I use this sauce as a base for chili con carne (classic meat chili),

Not so classic chili con carne

chili con queso (hot cheese dip), a basting sauce for fish, pozole rojo (pork stew) and chicken mole . It’s also great mixed in to minced meat for meatballs or jazzed up hamburgers. Highly recommended with game meat like venison or bison!!

What is your favorite home made foodie gift to receive from family or friends? Is there a special recipe you look forward to every year?


Here is a quick and easy way to peel a lot of garlic at once!!

I love to make chili 🌶 salsas! I feel like it takes me back to my Latin American and Indigenous American roots. But with my mass batches of salsa comes a lot of garlic peeling. 😳 Like several heads of garlic at once. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite jobs, but someone has to do it…and by someone, i mean me✋. I used to really dislike this part but, after experimenting with different ways to do this more quickly, i have found the mason jar shake is the quickest way to get it done! And bonus points if you can make some music 🎶 at the same time!! Check out the video below for this quick technique!

Mason Jar Shake!

I take the garlic off the head and put it in the jar, but honestly, you can drop it in whole. Make sure you seal the jar before shaking, 🙄 shake for about 1 minute very vigorously. *note, kids LOVE to do this job! Most of the garlic will be completely peeled. For the ones with peel on still, it will slip off very easy with a little squeeze.

What techniques do you like to use to peel garlic? Did the Mason Jar Shake work for you? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you 🥰


Chateau Latour-Martillac Vineyard(Bordeaux, France)

Let me preface this entry with my husband and I are by no means wine experts. we both greatly appreciate well made wine, but price and prestige are not a factor with our “likes”.

The terroir at this vineyard is situated on a bed of limestone pebbles. A hold over from a time when this land was under the ocean. This tough ground condition provides the struggle needed for the vines to thrive!

Tidbits about wine i learned today (yes, i am still learning even basic info!) Tannins are provided by the seeds, skins, and stems. The longer they sit with the wine, the more tannins! Tannins are essentially the “pucker power”/ “punch you in the face” behind the flavor and are stronger with younger wines.

Me and Jake in front of the wine wall.

At this vineyard, they do not use any machines to harvest. Everything is done by hand, to include tending the grapes during growing. We visited in late September of 2021 and the work crews had just started picking the grapes on the day we arrived (they had a late start this year)!

Ripe vineyards ready for picking!
Work crews hand harvesting

Processing the grapes uses only a few machines. Mainly to move the grapes.

Processing grapes!

After the grapes are sorted and crushed, they are moved to the big tanks for fermentation.

Stainless tanks
Top of the fermentation tank…where the stuff goes in!

In France, everything is done a lot slower. They prefer to do tastings at the end of the tours, whereas in US, we taste up front and then tour and talk. I prefer to taste up front, for obvious reasons! 🙄 Fermentation is completed in the steel vats and aging completed in French oak barrels, of course!

French oak barrels
Barrel room tour
Jake, soaking in the tour

In the cellar, the temperature for barrel aging feels to be about 50 degrees. This ensures fermentation does not continue. The aromatics from the aged French oak barrels is incredible. They are 225 years old! $600 eu a piece for the barrels! This vineyard has about 75% new barrels. They do not want the woody flavors. Preference is for the fruity flavors. After learning about barrels we moved on to the tasting. Finally the fore play has ended and we get to savor the flavor!

Close up of barrels

Apparently barrel making is an industry of its own!!

Tasting room!
Let the tasting begin! 😋

Literally my taste buds are watering with anticipation. Maybe there is something to the French delay of gratification🤷‍♀️

Starting with the white, the glasses where slowly passed around.

Sauvignon Blanc.

Very fruity, fresh and citrusy. Very long finish. Strong Minerality. Rounded in the mouth. Pairs well with white cheese and fish/shrimp with butter sauces. This wine achieves the heavy citrus flavors because of the Sauvignon grapes.

Jake’s notes on the white, “would go well on a hot day due to the fresh mineralogy. Loves the citrusy flavors. Very nice to switch it up a bit from the heavy reds in the vacation.

Moving on to the Red tasting…

Beautiful legs

60% cab, merlot, and 7% petit Verdot.

She Said: Very peppery flavor. Notes of leather, vanilla. Lots of tannin mouth feel.

He Said: Jake’s notes regarding the red, very enjoyable. Very peppery with an outstanding bouquet. Mellow taste. Excellent tannins. We snagged a bottle to enjoy back on the ship 🤫

A couple of side notes, the field workers all look very Gypsy-ish. In the US, you would see primarily Mexican migrant workers. The workers out here have shanty towns established just in the peripheral of the vineyard estate for the workers. Well, i think the workers set them up themselves during the working season? I found this very interesting because my mother’s father’s family came from Mexico to the US as migrant workers in the 1800’s. But that’s a story for another day…

To sum it up, this was a very nice tour. We were able to drive thru old town Bordeaux first and then visit the winery. I would definitely recommend this excursion to others!

Oh! And we got this cute little keepsake that i used for my mask! It is the estate symbol.

Cute little vineyard keepsake!

For more information click the link below:


Quick Dinner: Venison Wagyu Meatballs with Sauce

Venison wagyu meatballs with angel hair pasta

Okay, so admittedly this sounds super complex, but don’t let the ingredients deter you from trying this recipe.

I try to make most recipes, on the fly and without directions. Not because i don’t like following directions but mostly because i like to make shit up and see how it goes. 🤷‍♀️ Plus, i love a challenge, so at 6pm-ish with my 17-year old son asking “what’s for dinner?” And my husband due to be home in 30-minutes, i start to mosey through the fridge, then freezer and then the pantry in search of something to spark a creative thought.

Our freezer crashed and burned the other day, so i had a lot of random options. One of which was a box of venison wagyu patties from Force of Nature. I don’t know why i bought them, my husband is super adverse to game meat. 🤫 shhh.. he’ll never know! They had defrosted when the freezer went down and passed the sniff test, so they made the top of the list.


I remembered i bought Rao’s sausage mushroom sauce (the only pre-made sauce i use or recommend) and some angel hair pasta the other day and was hoping right now that my older daughter hadn’t gone “browsing” through the pantry while we were gone for the weekend. Because THAT never happens 🙄

Alright! We have everything i need to make meatballs! Yay!!

Crap. I’m out of eggs and need something for a binder with the breadcrumbs. Hmmm… i do have milk. So milk it is! Sometimes you have to be creative with what you have.

Follow along below and make some for yourself. They are super easy and quick. Like 20-30 minutes quick.

Ingredients (what i used):

1 box “Force of Nature” venison patties (4-to a box) approx. 1 lb

2 TBSP garlic powder

1 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP Sea Salt

1 TBSP ground black powder (course)

1 TSP cayenne pepper

1 TSP ground sage

2 TBSP olive oil

1/4 cup milk (whatever you have)

1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1-jar Rao’s mushroom and sausage sauce (or whatever you have on hand)

1 bottle of red wine (whatever you have) 1- cup for the sauce and the rest for the cook!

1 box of pasta (i used angle hair)

First off, put a large pot of water on to boil.

Then, combine the meat and all the spices together in a bowl. Then add the milk and mix it in with your hands. Then add the breadcrumbs. You might need a little extra if it’s too moist. You want the meat to stick together.

Meat mixture

Make the meatballs:

Pinch off enough meat to make a 1 inch meatball. There should be enough meat for 12-meatballs with 1 lb of meat.

Formed meatballs

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet with 3 to 4 inch sides. Brown them quickly on all sides. This meat cooks very quickly, so pay attention!

Cooking meatballs

Once browned (3-4 minutes) add the entire jar of sauce. Then add one cup of wine to the jar and shake it up.

Petit Verdot works well with the spicy peppery flavor

Add the mixture to the sauce, turn the heat to low and cover, then simmer.

Add sauce to the meatballs! Don’t forget the wine.
Simmer on low.

Back to the noods. Once the pot starts to boil, add your noodles of choice. Follow the directions. The meatballs should simmer on low until your noodles are ready.

Voila! That’s it. You are done! These would even be great by themselves. Or maybe sans the noodles with sautéed broccoli and garlic. Or maybe with creamy polenta! Either way, make sure you don’t forget the wine!!

Cheers! Let me know how you enjoyed this recipe! Share your pics for bonus points 😊🤩


Quick 10-minute lunch for two: Pan Sautéed Salmon with Fresh Corn

This recipe is so quick and easy, i just threw this together in between work meetings! The results are juicy and oh, so enjoyable that you might want a glass of wine with your meal! This recipe is my “go to” for an impromptu dinner party…whenever those start to happen again! 🤷‍♀️

Cut the filet in half and share with a friend or save for tomorrow’s lunch.

Lunch for tomorrow!


1 lb salmon filet. I use skin on.

1-2 ears of fresh corn

Old bay seasoning

Garlic powder

Olive oil

Raspberry balsamic vinegar

Total time: 10 minutes including prep for Med-rare and 18-minutes for well-done.

Heat up your non-stick skillet. Rinse the salmon filet and pat dry. Skin side down, rub the top of salmon (pink side) with olive oil. Generously sprinkle old bay seasoning and garlic powder (to taste). Pop the seasoned filet in to the HOT skillet and then repeat the olive oil and seasoning on to the skin side. Rub with fingers quickly to distribute the oil and seasoning over the skin side. Do not burn yourself!

Cover with a lid for 2 minutes. Before you remove the lid, shake the pan to move the filet around. Take the lid off and flip the salmon over. Cover with the lid for two more minutes. While salmon is cooking, cut the kernels off the corn. Open the lid shake the pan so that the salmon moves around. Then add the corn to the pan, avoiding the top of the salmon. Pan fry the corn (with salmon in pan) for 2 more minutes.

Pan sautéed with the vinegar! 😋

Then sprinkle the vinegar (about 2 TBSP) on top of it all and quickly cover the pan again. Wait 1 minute then remove pan from heat and let it sit for 3-minutes, medium cooked. 5-minutes for medium well and 8-minutes for well done. Of you like it rare-ish then, take it out of the pan before the sitting period.

Yummm 😋
So juicy!!

Season with sea salt to taste or kick it up a notch with hot sauce. Enjoy!!

Let me know your favorite way to enjoy this recipe in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 😊


Airport Eats: Chicken + Beer at The Atlanta Airport

A recent trip to Athens, GA for a Framily wedding put us through the Atlanta airport. After a weekend of incredible eats and a lot of drinking i was actually ready to head home on Sunday and start back in to a workout and clean eating regimen for the next week. I was a little disappointed the hotel breakfast had closed down before i was able to grab a quick bite and head to the airport but, we decided that we 1) probably weren’t going to starve to death on the two hour drive to the airport and 2) there was likely a restaurant or two we could choose from at the airport.

Upon arrival to the airport we were greeted with the longest travel lines we had seen since Covid started and i was a little worried we would not have time for a bite. I then remembered the string of texts i had began to receive the night before warning us to get to the Atlanta airport 3-hours early because of the “long wait times”. I guess i should have paid attention instead of going to the open bar at the reception again?

Thankfully, we subscribe to Clear and they have their own line and TSA checkpoint at Atlanta. Even though that line was also the longest i have ever seen, it was only a 30-minute wait. The non-clear lines were a minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours!! Finally through the lines we headed to the transport train to our gate. A cool element on the transport trains here is they clearly revere food and drink. There is a feature next to the electronic board that shows you the gates you are approaching and that also details the food and drink options. As my eyes scrolled through, i locked in to Chicken + Beer. Hard to go wrong with those two things together and they were located next to our D-gate. Perfect!!

We arrived at the D-gates and there was a waiting line. The seating attendant said it would be 20-minutes before we could be seated which included the bar. I reluctantly added our name to the list and began to scan the area for other options. Not that i was worried or anything. After about a three minute wait, she smiled and said our table was ready! Already exceeding expectations here, Love it.

We ordered “Emergency Drinking beer”, which is a German style Pilsner made. Georgia with 4.0% alcohol. It was very light, no bitterness. Maybe a smidge of sweet, but not overpowering. Very drinkable and paired perfectly with our heavy fried food. Looking for a classic Pilsner? This is it.

Hubby enjoying his Emergency Drinking Beer at Chicken + Beer
Emergency Drinking Beer, words of wisdom on back of can.

Fried green tomatoes: the breading or cornmeal is delightfully textured. Not too thick and perfectly fried. The first bite brought a smile to our faces as the piping hot, slightly tart flavors mingle with the cornmeal and salt. Finished very well with beer. Served with an aioli type sauce.

Fried Green Tomatoes

It was while enjoying these tasty bites that my husband noted this was owned by Ludacris. He had seen him on squawk box talking about his restaurants. I noted that i have some “Luda”, in my workout playlists and i thought we were jamming to him last night on the party bus back to the hotel.. but that’s another story!

Shrimp and red rice:

First of all, i thought that grits were the king of the South? Well if grits are King, rice is certainly the Queen of the South. Now I’m from the “south” (i thought Texas was South) but I’ve never heard of “red” rice. I mean, we have Mexican or Spanish red rice but this was different. Not too spicy, but with a very balanced amount of stewed tomatoes to make the rice red. Also, it was just the right amount of sticky. To be “perfect” rice, your fork must stand up and salute when you stick it in the rice!! At least, that’s my definition. Y’all know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!

Shrimp and Red Rice with Rosemary Tots.

The shrimp should have been called colossal because they were HUGE. I think the batter was a beer batter but with a bit of cornmeal mixed in? It had a very pleasant crunch and mouthfeel that usually is accomplished through cornmeal or a Japanese style tempura, and this was no tempura. These shrimp were so succulent and juicy, i wasn’t sure how my dish could possibly top that! Oh and then the rosemary tots. God’s gift to the potato. Rosemary can be overwhelming if used too much, but this was a hint of the spice and maybe a bit of truffle spice? I might need to phone a friend here and see if someone knows what is in that seasoning because it’s awesome.

Oh damn! My plate just showed up and my first thought was “uh-oh, what the heck have i done?” I’m not gonna lie, a bit of panic immediately pulsed through me. I looked up at my husband and he just shook his head and said i was “crazy”. I continued to nibble off his plate as I contemplated my strategy and admired the mammoth portion. It was literally ludicrous. What the hell were they feeding the chickens that produced these oversized thighs?! One of these thighs could feed two people, easy. And then the waffles?? I think i need another one of those rosemary tots to properly think through this.

Chicken and Waffles w/ bourbon syrup

First, i removed one of the thighs to a smaller plate (actual size of a normal dinner plate) then moved a couple of the waffles over to said plate. Then i cut the remaining thigh in half. Piping hot, just the way i like it! I heard the snapping crunch of the perfectly fried batter give way, the juices slowly peaked out at me. Beckoning me to take a bite. I lingered another second longer to fully appreciate it and then took my first bite. Ummmmmm, a little thigh juice on my chin… i didn’t even attempt to wipe it. You know when something is so good, you don’t even care if it drops on you? It was THAT good. I bit of guilt started to creep in. Is this a heart attack waiting to happen? Could i feed the family of kids staring at me as they wait in line for a seat? Should i be eating like this when i probably need to lose a few after that European food fest? Yes, yes, and yes… but (to quote my favorite movie line…bonus points if you know the movie) “sometimes you have to say what the f*#!”. Right? So, those thighs. Not only are they juicy (how do they get them this way?!) the flavor has a bit of spice to them and a whole lot of brine. I am a huge advocate of brined chicken, which might be my southern raising. But this is off the hook fabulous!

The waffles are a basic Belgium waffle that brought me back to my days working at Haggan Daz ice cream. We used to make Belgium waffles fresh on Sundays and these had the exact same flavor. This place had their own spin with house made syrup spiked with bourbon. Totally over the top, and also very much appreciated by this bourbon lover!! The last little add-on that needs to be mentioned is the collard greens. They had a really balanced salt (which is key to great tasting greens). A hint of vinegar and spice with just the right amount of juice. I actually picked the serving dish up and slurped in the remaining collard “gravy”. Don’t be afraid to drink it all in my friends!

This is exactly why i love the experience of food so much. It brings you back to a memory and helps you to make new ones. They just kind of lock in to your brain with a scent or a flavor.

A thought started to occur to me that i might actually come back to Atlanta just to come to the airport and eat here again. Maybe my husband is right and i am crazy? Either way, take it from a “crazy” food lover Chicken + Beer is a joint you do not want to miss if you are flying through Atlanta. This is a uniquely American fare spot that will have you wanting to come back again. Cheers and happy travels!

Headed back to Maryland!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs (Quick and Easy)

Disclaimer: If you do not like the taste of Cilantro, because it reminds you of childhood and having your mouth washed out, then #1, we can definitely be friends! (I too had my mouth washed out with soap. ALOT.) #2, this dish is probably not for you.

Other than that, this is so super amazingly flavorful and very easy to throw together. In fact, I literally threw it together yesterday afternoon, in between meetings (I had 15-minutes to spare and a sudden panic moment that I hadn’t thought about prepping for dinner).

Chicken Thighs in Cilantro Lime Marinade

Hopefully you have this stuff on hand (like any good foodie), but if not don’t be afraid to substitute with what you have, you just can’t call it “cilantro lime chicken thighs” if none of those ingredients are in your actual recipe!


  • 1 cup of chopped Cilantro (duh)
  • 2-3 Fresh Limes (juice and zest) (also duh, and please don’t sub with prepackaged lime juice. That’s just insulting)
  • 6-8 cloves of fresh, crushed and chopped garlic (if you are like me, throw in a few extra for good measure)
  • 2 TBSP of good chili powder (or whatever you have)
  • 1 TBSP fresh pepper
  • 1-2 TBSP of flaked sea salt (less if you have salt issues and a little more if you know how awesome this can be with a marinade!)
  • 1 TSP of Cumin (you can add a little more if you have a taste for cumin, but not more than 2 TSP or it throws the alchemy off)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP Honey
  • 3-4 Lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs (I go to Sam’s Club because they always have very good quality at a great price)

First you want to mix all of the ingredients together, EXCEPT the Chicken thighs. Basically you are going to make a marinade for the chicken. Reserve about 1/3 of a cup of the marinade for later (I forgot this step last night and thought it would have been a great finishing sauce).

Once you have your marinade you can either use a large zip lock bag or do what I did, and grab a large bowl with a lid. Now the fun part, smoother your thighs (the chicken you heathen!) with the marinade and let this sit in the fridge for at least 15-minutes but up to 24-hours. I had about 4-hours before I needed to cook.

When you are ready to cook (and only when YOU are ready…and maybe after a glass of wine, or two), whip out your huge, your biggest frying pan. Also, walk over to your oven right now and preheat to 350 degrees. Now, add a little olive oil to your pan and kick it up to high. Wait for about five minutes (it needs to be hot) and then sear your chicken on both sides. Do this in batches, if you have to. The chicken needs a little room to breath and seal in those juices. After about 2-minutes on each side (a little less if they seem to be cooking through too quickly), move them to a baking sheet with sides (like a cookie sheet, but make sure it has those sides). Then throw this in the oven at 350 for at least 30-minutes. Turn the oven off after 30-minutes and let the chicken sit for 10-more minutes.

Voila! That’s it…You’re done!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs with Rice

You could take this to the next level and prepare rice, while the chicken is baking. I did and it was awesome. I used the drippings from the chicken searing pan to add to the boiling rice. And honestly, it was beyond awesome. Oh and, if you are doing this a la European style, then remember to make a simple salad and eat it last! And last but not least, do not forget the wine for goodness sake!

Fully prepped Dinner

For a wine pairing suggestion, You could go with a Pinot Noir. I know it’s red but the chili spice in the marinade gives a slight smoke/BBQ type of flavor that is definitely enhanced with a decent Pinot Noir. You could also go white with a Pinot Grigio. Or hell, bust out your favorite box wine. It’s all good!

Appalachian Trail Thru Hike 2022: 3/26/2022- 1st Week Thoughts from the Trail

Day 1:

Getting started!
Thru hiker tag! For Jake-a-Lope!

We stopped off at Amicolola Falls and picked up our hiker tags, signed the hiker register and completed our Thru hike safety class.

Day 1 total miles hiked, 3.2.

We got a super late start, hitting the trail to the top of Springer Mountain in Georgia at approximately 5:30pm. It’s a 1-mile hike to get to the top to start!! Probably not the smartest move as it was about 30 degrees F and super windy, making the wind chill drop temps in to the 20’s. Needless to say it was super cold!!

At the Approach trail

The trail to the top was WAY more challenging than we expected. We made it to the top and headed back down to the first shelter to camp around 7pm. It was dark and freezing (literally).

Off we go!
At the top of Springer Mountain!
Jake at the top!

We woke up the next day (see day 2 below) and i could barely feel my fingers. My feet were numb and every time i sat up, i got dizzy and had to lay back down! I finally made it up to the shelter and tried to start breakfast, but i kept getting dizzy and passing out. Jake gave me a snickers and it was completely frozen. Awesome start to the day! We were able to boil some water and warm up enough to hit the trail!

Day 2:

Miles hiked: 9.8 (AT mile 12.3)

Shelter: none. Pitched tent next to Cooper Gap parking lot. Friggen exhausted!!

Breakfast: none

Lunch: tuna pouches and nuts

Dinner: we split a snickers bar, handful of nuts. Had to ration water.

Connectivity on trail continues to be an issue with spotty service at best.

Standing up to pee is no joke. Although super freeing and convenient, you use different muscles than when squatting. I actually got a cramp in my abs!!

But for real, the feminine stand up to pee device, i will call it a “She-nis”, is amazing!

I slept like shit after Day 1, even though Jake says i was snoring like a banshee 🤷‍♀️

I’m completely exhausted, my legs are burnt out. My back is screaming at me and I’m completely dehydrated. We have 2.1 miles to nearest water source and down to two cups of water. 1/2 a snickers bar for dinner. But this is fun, right?! 🤷‍♀️

Oh well, another day in the books. On to Day 3…

Day 3

Miles hiked: 11.3 (AT mile 20.5)

The start was really rough as we were dehydrated which i think is causing my leg muscles to cramp up and move so sluggishly. Our primary goal is a 2.1 mile hike to a water source, then on to a shelter for lunch and privy usage.

The hike was beautiful and the water was a flowing! We were so thankful for water but had to move on quickly because every time you stop, your muscles cool down quickly.

We stopped to make lunch at Gooch Gap shelter. Victoria and her fiancé and brother were there, it was nice to see them again! We had nice conversation and shared a meal together. We are all shooting for Neel’s Gap tomorrow. It’s gonna be a tough push for sure.

By the end of the day i was exhausted, so when we got to the parking lot for Woody Gap, i was adamant we find a ride in to town to get cleaned up and have a burger/beer. This was a need for me at this point, as i already felt broken. At this point i was thinking about calling a ride to get me to the car, so i would head back 3-days earlier than planned… that’s how terrible i felt.

After burgers, a few beers and a great nights sleep, i was ready to lace up and hit the trail in the morning!!


Day 4: on to Neel’s Gap!! (Mile 31.3)

Miles hiked: 14.3 (includes .3 mile hike to hostel)

Signage to Neel’s Gap

Holy crap! I feel SO. MUCH. STRONGER today!! Jake is just crushing the hiking but today, i am keeping up a little closer than i have been, i even took front point during our down hikes!

Blood Mountain was no joke! So incredibly difficult.

Hike up to top of Blood Mountain

Lots of bouldering up and mostly down. The rocks really destroyed my feet so when i saw Neel’s Gap in the distanced, i got a surge of excitement and a little choked up. We had made it a little over 30 miles and to the point we’re about 20% of all thru hikers, hang up their boots and quit. I can totally see why. This shit is hard. Really pushes you on so many levels. Hiking is one thing, but backpacking is a whole other level.

View from Top of blood mountain

We are staying a hostel tonight, Blood Mountain cottages and then back on trail tomorrow. Hike on!!

Wind chimes at Neel’s Gap

Day 5: Neel’s Gap to Low Gap, 11.5 miles (mile 42.8)

Breakfast: mountain house egg scramble

Lunch: Trail magic! Grilled cheese and ham!

Trail magic!!

Second lunch: trail magic #2! Walking tacos by Queen Diva

Queen Diva (trail Angel) and her famous walking taco!

Dinner: ramen and mountain house chicken Alfredo.

We still haven’t figured out how to perfectly hydrate mountain house 🤷‍♀️

We met a hiker named AU (Mike) at Neel’s Gap just before we left. What an incredibly interesting fella! AU has been hiking this Georgia section of the AT for over 20 years! He was very encouraging for Jake and really had wonderful stories. Hiking with AU for most of the day was a Godsend, as it helped to take my mind off the pain of my hips. Jake seemed to really connect with him as well. We lost AU about 1/2!way in to our day, as we stopped to enjoy a magnificent view. Overnight camp at low gap.

Camp set up at Low Gap

When we arrived at Low Gap, AU already had his tent set up. He helped us to orient our tent to better prepare for the impending storm blowing in from the Southwest.

We made dinner and then hunkered down for the storm!! We both passed out fairly quickly and then around 2 am, the storm blew in. It was a crazy windy storm. Lots of rain. Our tent has very wet the next morning!

Tucked in for the storm!

The wind was very crazy. It sounded like a tsunami rolling in. You could hear the wind blowing Thru the trees miles away and then it would hit the campsite. It was a very weird and cool beach sounding effect.

Day 6: Low Gap to Unicoi Gap, 9.7 miles (Mile 52.5)

Final trail day for Food Guru. Overnight at Around the Bend Hostel. Dinner with Queen Diva, Hopeful, and Circuit Rider in Hiawassee.

We were invited to dinner by Hopeful after running in to them again at Around the Bend Hostel. They had provided trail magic a couple of days ago. We went to an AYCE buffet that tasted amazing 🤩 To be clear, i am not usually a buffet person but after a week on trail, it was heaven! Lol! We had great conversation and exchanged numbers to keep in touch for trail progress.

Around the Bend Hostel in Hiawassee

It was my last evening on trail as i had to return home to ensure the youngest son graduates high school and i tweaked my hip stepping on a rock and just could seem to get it back in place🤷‍♀️

I will now transition to hiker support and logistics planner as my husband finishes his thru hike! We will see how that goes…

I dropped Jake-a-Lope back to the trail and headed home! Hike on!!

See you soon!!

Appalachian Trail, 6/16/22, mile 980.5

Woke up at 7:30-ish. In all actuality, i was up most of the night, in and out of sweat dreams. If you have Thru hiked or long term camped, during the heat of summer…you know what i mean 😭. Dreams are super intense when #1, you are sleep deprived and #2, it’s hot as heck! Plus i was super worried about bears.

Daily “logistics” plan

Today we will finally be leaving the Shenandoah’s!! Yay! I am so friggen happy to be out of here. I mean, it’s super beautiful and the people have been so friendly, but we are so close to Harper’s Ferry and home, that i just wanna move forward. I can’t wait to get home for a couple of days and take a proper shower, wash everything and scrub the car out. I also want to drop unneeded supplies and streamline our load. We are almost halfway through.

I know people want to hear all the happy thoughts, rainbows and butterflies but, this is work. Really hard work. You plan as much as you can for the next day but never really know how it will work out. There are so many unknown factors that can crop up. And i KNOW, my husband is doing the walking work and carrying his backpack load. I get it. Cry me a river… but damn, logistics is hard work. Throw in biting bugs. Dirt in everything. And my hair is so matted I am beginning to have one big dreadlock. Not to mention smells i didn’t know i had. *sigh*

So let’s sum up the AT through the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah National Parks. It all kind of runs together. It’s spectacular as far as scenery! The floral and fauna are truly amazing. The wayside stores every 20-miles or so can be a life saver. This allows you to shed days worth of food weight. The water sources on trail were hit or miss, so had to carry a little more water.

After 4-5 days, it does all run together though. It took a solid ten days to complete this section.

Dropped Jake-a-Lope back on trail, we are due to meet up in a couple of hours. Oops! Well, i didn’t plan that well, the Ranger Station is not actually a place we can meet up. No vehicle roads accessible. So we will meet at Fort Royal around 12:30/1p.

Gorgeous morning views!

Finally got to Front Royal. My back right tire was a little flat, so got that taken care of and found the meet up spot. Ran in to “Day Owl” and “Mowgli”. Offered them both an ice cold beer and had some nice convo. They both needed a ride in to Front Royal which i agreed to after Jake shows up for his cold refreshment!

Jake-a-Lope showed up, right on time looking super hot 🥵. He slugged a couple of beers and hit the trail again. I dropped the two hikers off and headed forward to the next meet up. This is where i found out that not all “dirt roads” listed in FarOut are actually accessible. Yet another meetup is not possible. So frustrating. I decided to swing ahead to the final meet up spot at Mile 980. Picked up some KFC (chicken) along the way. He should be here around 4:30.

There is a huge storm blowing in, doesn’t look good. It’s now raining very heavily and it’s 4:35.. no Jake yet. There is a lot of thunder and some lightning. Hope he is ok.

Heavy downpour

4:43 and Jake just rolled in! Whew! I always get worried when he runs late. 🤷‍♀️ i love seeing his face after a long day! I immediately helped him get his pack off and handed him a cold beer. The rain was just starting to push off to the East, so it was starting to cool down a bit.

Another hiker walked up and asked if we were together. I think looking for a shuttle maybe… we said “yes, together” and asked if he was Thru hiking? He said yes and we offered him a beer 🍺 He looked so grateful and stoped to chat a bit. His trail name is “Heineken” and he is from the Netherlands. He owns a micro-brewery just outside of Edam called Waterland or something?? Heineken formally worked for a private equity company in marketing and then left after many years to open his microbrewery and tap room! I immediately felt horrible that i had given him a PBR! Geez… he was very gracious though and said that after a hot hike, a Pilsner was perfect! Nice guy! He and Jake-a-lope had great convo about the current market issues and also about the history of this area with slavery and Thomas Jefferson. It’s little moments like this that make the trail worthwhile. Taking a few minutes to connect with another human. 😃

We said our goodbyes, then set to the task of where to sleep for the night. I opted for hotel, as we had been sleeping outdoors exclusively for three weeks now and i really wanted a proper shower and a dry nights sleep!

Happy “camper” in our first hotel room for a while!

No book reading tonight, but we did enjoy the showers and a nice Pinot Noir!!


Quick 10-minute Thru Hiker’s “Paella”

I don’t know about you but sometimes i get a hard craving for paella and being on trail means THAT craving will be difficult to satiate! While hanging out at camp and going thru supplies, i found the perfect combination of stuff to throw together a quick trail paella!

All you need is some spam, packaged chicken, Knorr rice sides, and if you have it…a package of olives! This takes about ten minutes to prepare, which includes time to sit.


Fry up your spam first and get it nice and crispy. Think bacon here. Then throw in your chicken (tuna would probably work fine too). If you have olive oil, then by all means, use it!! Stir this for about 1-minute.

Then add the knorr RICE side and prepare as the package states. (Note: prepackaged, already cooked rice will probably work too). Cook for 7-minutes covered on a med to low fire. Make sure you stir every minute or so. Then turn off the heat, add your olives and cover for 3-minutes.

Olives 🫒

ENJOY! I hope you have enjoyed this as much as we did!! Happy hiking!!


Quick 10-minute Thru Hiker’s “Paella”

I don’t know about you but sometimes i get a hard craving for paella and being on trail means THAT craving will be difficult to satiate! While hanging out at camp and going thru supplies, i found the perfect combination of stuff to throw together a quick trail paella!

All you need is some spam, packaged chicken, Knorr rice sides, and if you have it…a package of olives! This takes about ten minutes to prepare, which includes time to sit.


Fry up your spam first and get it nice and crispy. Think bacon here. Then throw in your chicken (tuna would probably work fine too). If you have olive oil, then by all means, use it!! Stir this for about 1-minute.

Then add the knorr RICE side and prepare as the package states. (Note: prepackaged, already cooked rice will probably work too). Cook for 7-minutes covered on a med to low fire. Make sure you stir every minute or so. Then turn off the heat, add your olives and cover for 3-minutes.

Olives 🫒

ENJOY! I hope you have enjoyed this as much as we did!! Happy hiking!!


The Food Guru and The Appalachian Trail Thru Hike 2022

Whelp, it’s gonna happen. The husband and I will be starting our thru hike of the Appalachian Trail at the end of March! I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am just going along for moral support, it’s really “his hike”. But honestly, the reality of walking approximately 2180 miles is starting to sink in and I am coming to the conclusion that this is my hike too. 🤷‍♀️

We’ve prepped and packed and then yep… re-packed our backpacks, maybe 10-times now. His is at about 25-lbs fully loaded. I’m at about 22-lbs.

His pack
Jake-a-lope ready to roll!
My first pack attempt-FAIL! 🤣

Actually, I’m way more focused on the food aspect *shocker* I’m sure! I’ve been experimenting with trail recipes that don’t consist of throwing hot water in a bag. It’s a challenge, but I’m committed to the cause! Live well, Eat well and for goodness sake, drink the good wine!

Spam and noodles with Kale

So, we are starting the trail together and will complete the initial 70-miles together from Amicalola Falls to Hiawassee, GA. Then i have to come off trail until June 1st. My youngest is graduating high school, and i don’t want to miss any of the last few months together!! After June 1st, we will be on trail together until we summit Katahdin, Maine, which is the northernmost terminus of the trail! I will have to flip back down to Hiawassee, to jump back on and finish the miles that i wasn’t able to complete… but by then, my trail legs should be in full beast mode!! 💪🏽

Feel free to follow our journey via our YouTube channel or check in for our updates here!

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