black angel?

In case anyone is wondering how my black angel is doing, he cheated on me.

karen-alan

Alan always sleeps in his little cat bed at night, which is in my bed by my pillow, or he cuddles with me. A couple weeks ago he never came to bed! I finally saw him when I was getting ready for work the next morning, so I picked him up to love on him. He smelled like Karen’s perfume!!!

Huge post coming soon about my three Kenny Chesney concerts and an impending fourth. Exciting times!!

13.1

This weekend I ran my first half marathon! Things went both worse and better than planned.

Sunday morning I woke up hungry (forgot to pack a breakfast) with about 4 hours of sleep since Thursday. Friday night I’d met up with a friend at 7pm, and I’m still not sure how this happened but the next time I checked the clock it was 4:30 am. I am very easily lost in conversation and when I’m around other high energy people I don’t even notice time passing! I had to be up early Saturday for a Big Brothers Big Sisters event, then the next day was a 5:30 am wake up for the Flying Pig!

Saturday night was one of those things where you know you MUST get sleep, so naturally your body refuses to sleep.

Although I was exhausted, there was so much energy in the crowd and it really could not have been a more beautiful morning in Cincinnati Sunday. I’m not very fast, and I was sure I couldn’t run the whole race so I put myself in Corral G – which meant I started almost 25 minutes behind the first Corral.

Flying Pig Marathon Corral G

As I said, it was an incredible, breathtaking morning. I’ve always had knee problems and I didn’t train very well for this race so I took it slowly. I ran the first two miles and absolutely did not want to stop, but I forced myself to walk miles 3 & 4 because I didn’t know how my knees would hold up.

We crossed the bridge into Kentucky for a couple miles before crossing back into Cincinnati for the rest of the race.

Cincinnati Skyline Flying Pig Marathon

I was still feeling great (as in, no pain), so I decided to try running again. I ended up walking only another mile or two, and that was because they were steep hills where I was really feeling my exhaustion.

But … then the views starting happening and the sun was out in full force at this point. I was just so happy that I somehow found the energy to run from mile 8 until the end!!

Flying Pig Half Marathon view of Cincinnati

Around mile 10 I was starting to struggle again big time. I wasn’t feeling any pain, but I’ve rarely been so tired in my life. It was completely a mental thing that kept me going. I was 10 miles in, I’d only walked maybe 2.5 miles of it and there were 3 miles left – I felt like I had to do it!!

Luckily they were handing out gel shots (among other foods) so I took two and made sure to drink at every station.

Mile 10 Flying Pig Half Marathon

And here I am at mile 13.1 about to go ZOOM past the “Finish Swine.” I ended up finishing in about 3 hours, which shocked me. I’d imagined I’d finish in 4 hours so I was pretty excited.

Flying Pig Half Marathon Finish Swine

My friend met me at the finish line and we walked another 1.5 miles to go get Mexican food in OTR. It was just like my favorite place in London, Wahaca! Cincinnati is such a cool, underrated city.

I drove home and let Alan try on my medal.

Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon Medal

It was kind of perfect for him because he’s a little pig. He’s actually on a diet right now, which he’s really not happy about, but it was necessary because I noticed him struggling to lick his fat the other day while trying to bathe himself.

Flying Pig Half Marathon

I’m so excited about finishing this race! I can’t wait to sign up for another one and see how good it feels when I actually have sleep and food.

the century club

Karen and I made it into the Century Club! Sadly, they were out of Pappy. We had even worn our matching Pappy shirts for the occasion! Instead we chose Booker’s 25th & Maker’s Cask. Both good!
Century Club at Century Bar in Dayton Since December we’ve been tasting bourbons (and the odd whisky), rating them and keeping track on our cards. This weekend we finally hit 100, which means we get our name on a plaque reserved for the bourbon elite.

Our mom surprised us with a cake!
Century Bar Dayton

I knew nothing when I started my bourbon journey. I realized I was starting to learn a little when I saw four grown men order Blanton’s on the rocks and I got really upset. I know people disagree on this issue, and normally I love ice, but I can’t stand my bourbon being watered down or cold.

Here’s my latest bourbon collection:

Booker's is the best bourbon

Old Grand-Dad is totally a sippable bourbon! I read a lot of stuff saying it’s fine for cocktails, but not for sipping – whatever. OGD Bonded is one of my go-to cheap bourbons. Also, Bad Santa drinks OGD, and if it’s good enough for Bad Santa it’s good enough for me.

ogd-bad-santa

ogd

Since I’m not working toward the Century Club anymore and it’s starting to become summer I doubt I’ll be at the Century Bar nearly as often.

I have lots of stuff to do in May!

Finish Infinite Jest.
See Kenny Chesney in Indianapolis & Dallas.
Run the Flying Pig Half Marathon (this weekend!).
Hit up the bourbon trail again – Jim Beam this time.
Finish my JavaScript course.

Until next time!

if cats were bourbon

Now that I’m not spending 2.5 hours of my life each day commuting to and from work I have time to kick it with Karen at home and discuss what our three cats would be if they were bottles of bourbon.

Alan. Aged 8 years. Sweet. Mellow. Not too classy. Not too trashy. Universally enjoyable. Alan is Maker’s Mark. In my heart, though, he’s my little Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year.

Alan Maker's Mark

Rue. Aged 2 years. Respectable, but rough around the edges with a bit of a bite.
Rue was voted hands down to be Old Grand-Dad Bonded.

Rue Old Grand Dad

Maya. Aged 14 years. Creaky. Snotty, yet somehow elegant. Sweet.
Judges disagreed. Connor voted Maya to be Ancient Ancient Age, a rough bourbon. Karen voted Maya to be Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, a sweeter dessert bourbon. I can’t decide. She’s old and boney, but she also wears pearls and looks beautiful.

Maya Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

american kids in kentucky

I spent the weekend in Kentucky at a Kenny Chesney concert and on the Bourbon Trail with some of my best friends!

Wild Turkey Distillery Tour

It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a LONG time, and I think was a pretty good indicator of all the fun that’s going to happen during my first American summer in six years!!

Friday night my sister, friend and I drove to Louisville to see Kenny. We kept it country and drank JTS Brown Bonded (a $10, 100 proof bourbon) out of a used Popeye’s cup before the show.

Kenny-Chesney-Big-Revival (1)

I haven’t seen Kenny since 2008, and anyone who knows me knows I’m a HUGE Kenny Chesney fan. I bought two flags, two tour shirts, a tote bag (pictured), and a Kenny sticker for my Chromebook.

I am not the kind of person to jump up and down and scream, but I totally did at the concert. I waved my NO SHOES NATION flag the entire time and sang as loudly as I could during every song.

Kenny Chesney No Shoes Nation

The concert was wild. Everyone was having the time of their lives, and everyone was jealous of my No Shoes Nation flag!! People kept wanting to take pictures with it!

I can’t even properly describe how fun this concert was. Karen wasn’t that excited before the concert, but she loved it so much that she’s been listening to Kenny on Spotify ever since. I’m so proud!!

Kenny-Chesney (1)

Luckily I have two more Kenny Chesney concerts to go to this summer (still thinking about buying tickets to his Cleveland show), and a Tim McGraw concert in August! I’m also strongly considering buying tickets to the Luke Bryan show in Indianapolis this summer!

As if I couldn’t get any more excited, I got to wake up the next day and go check out some of my favorite bourbon distilleries! We met one of my best friends from college and his wife at Wild Turkey.

Wild Turkey tour

I’m a fan of bourbon from this distillery – at home I have Wild Turkey 101, Rare Breed and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.

Wild Turkey 101 sales apparently make up 80% of their business. I wasn’t too surprised – WT 101 was one of my very first bourbon purchases! It’s generally my go-to when I’m not at a bourbon bar because it’s one of the few most bars stock alongside Maker’s.

Wild Turkey bourbon  tour

The Wild Turkey distillery is GORGEOUS and the tour was so much fun. What I love most about bourbon culture is how everyone just loves bourbon. Our tour guide, Bubba, spoke about other bourbon makers and said  he’d never say anything bad about their competition because all bourbon is good!

bubba

Bourbon is positive energy, and I like that! Also, I agree with Bubba. I’ve rarely met a bourbon I didn’t like.

After Wild Turkey we went to Woodford. Woodford is good, because it’s bourbon, but I don’t love the Woodford culture as much. It seems to me that sometimes people think they’ve cultivated a cooler or classier air about them if Woodford is their go-to, but it’s like … it’s bourbon. And it’s not a particularly stand-out bourbon, either.

Woodford Reserve bourbon trail tour

That being said, Woodford was stunning and just so nice. We did an abbreviated tour and sampled the regular reserve + double oaked, which is their “dessert” bourbon. Again, Woodford is fine but I didn’t think it was good enough to buy anything from here. Karen and my friend Sam disagreed – they both love the double oaked and bought some!

Next up was Buffalo Trace. This is Karen’s go-to cheaper bourbon. I’ve had a lot of bourbons from this distillery and it was so much fun to see where they all come from! We saw the building where every bottle of Blanton’s comes from:

Blanton's Buffalo Trace tour

And I bought a Pappy shirt!!!

Pappy Van Winkle (1)

I haven’t actually tried Pappy because it’s $100 a glass, and I heard it’s overrated, but still. It’s Pappy!

Karen and I are about to hit 100 bourbons at the Century Bar this weekend. We’re planning to both have Stagg Jr., another bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery.

I’m having such a fun time and I’m so excited it’s almost summer! We have a lot planned. More bourbon trails, hiking, renting cabins, camping, concerts, BBQs! It’s a really great feeling to be spending weekends with my best friends. I feel like I’m finally building a permanent life for the first time!

 

 

high adventure in the smoky mountains

I love hiking mountains. I can show you this picture, but it’s nothing compared to the feeling of turning a corner and seeing this view after hiking uphill for 6 hours.

Mt LeConte Smoky Mountains National Park

In 2013 my friend from college came to visit me in London and we drove all the way up to Scotland to hike Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. Apparently it is nothing compared to American mountains! Let me tell you, it did not feel like nothing and I was definitely planning my tombstone inscription 1/4 of the way UP the mountain.

Now that I’m back in the US we live only six hours from each other so we met halfway in the Smoky Mountains for a hike up Mt. LeConte. My research told me Mt. L is supposed to be “unmatched in its combination of interesting geological features, history, high adventure and stunning views.”

High adventure!

We hiked the first hour with my friends’ 9-year-old daughter and she kept saying, “I LOVE HIKING!! I FEEL FREEEEE!”

Alum-Cave (1)

We went up the Rainbow Falls trail, a 6.6 mile hike and 3,993 ft elevation gain, and down the Alum Cave trail, a slightly shorter 5.5 mile hike. Next weekend we are all meeting up again to do part of the BOURBON TRAIL! I’m a pretty big fan of Wild Turkey so we’re going there, Buffalo Trace and Woodford, and then spending the night in Lexington.

I was gone for almost a week, and boy did I miss Alan!! Isn’t it crazy how attached to our animals we become? Alan can’t even talk to me. All he does is purr and headbutt me, but that says so much!

Having a cat has given me somewhat of an insight into the minds of the super religious, of which there are MANY out here in Dayton (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Alan

While I was away I was thinking about my little buddy and I wanted to be like, I LOVE ALAN! And when I felt like shouting out that I love him I thought, “Is this how people feel about Jesus?” On Facebook I often see random exclamations of love for Big J and I simply don’t understand that emotion so I feel like Spock. But now perhaps I do, because I definitely want to tell everyone about how cute Alan is and how much I love him.

I LOVE ALAN!
PBC (Praise Black Cats!)
LLAP

clam bakes and trips to the cape.

I once knew a guy who went to Harvard. When we first met I asked him if he got in because he was in a Ricky Martin video, or perhaps because of his line of faux-fur panties. He totally didn’t laugh! That was two years ago and I still giggle a little thinking about that conversation. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he was the one with the problem, because he once told me I’m not a funny person. I object! (See what I did there? Funny.)

Legally Blonde quotes, like Mean Girls quotes, have become embedded in a deep recess of my mind. I still automatically want to introduce myself and my cat as a team of Gemini vegetarians.

My point in this Legally Blonde post is that I came home this week and my sister had taped a calendar to our wall with a heading that said, “Social Events! You know, mixers, formals, clam bakes, trips to the cape!”

We’re trying to be more social in Dayton’s community and make more friends. We have so much stuff planned that we really did need a social events calendar! Sadly, no trips to the cape or clam bakes, but some otherwise awesome stuff.

With my job, school, work outs and bourbon testing I have a tight schedule. Speaking of alcohol, last night I finally met a whisky I couldn’t drink!!

I tried Wiser’s Rye and I couldn’t finish it. The only other Canadian whisky I’ve tried was Pendleton, which was a decent, affordable drink although it’s no bourbon.

That's Old Scout next to my list of bourbons!
That’s Old Scout next to my list of bourbons!

I was trying to get started on the rye list, but I had to go back to bourbon after that abomination. Dear lord. John Preston couldn’t drink it either, and I think I would consider him a professional drinker. I’ve been trying to think of a blog name for him since I don’t like to name people or have any identifying details about them (unless they specifically tell me they want the fame that comes along with being on my blog). I settled on JP not for the love interest aspect, but for being a small town big deal and the fact that I’ve always wanted to call someone Mr. Big. I love SATC and I even named my cat Samantha Jones.

We had Old Scout Bourbon next and I LOVED IT. That’s the second bourbon I’ve had in the past week that’s going on my top shelf.

Later I went to the gym for a 25 minute run/walk in preparation for the Flying Pig Half Marathon in May. I’m so excited about this race!! Normally I work out at 4:30 after work, but last night I didn’t get out of the gym until 8:30 pm. Everyone says they work out in the morning and it gives them so much energy, but for me I find it super calming and I feel wonderful! It’s easy for me to straight to bed and I get the most incredible sleep.

Happy Wednesday!

dayton’s elite

I wrote in my new “about” section that I don’t blog about food anymore because I’m your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Dayton’s elite, a reference to Gossip Girl that I was so hoping someone would get and chuckle.

I never thought I’d ACTUALLY get to meet one of Dayton’s elite, because 1) what does that even mean? 2) I never saw famous people in London so why would I start now? I’m oblivious.

When I was in London I’d always hear my friends be like, “Omg I just saw J.K. Rowling on the South Bank.” And I’d be like, “F— you. I’m on the South Bank every G.D. day and I never saw her!!” Or, “Omg I just saw Chris O’Dowd at Caffe Nero on The Cut.” What?!! I used to go to that Nero all the time for coffee. Never saw a sparkly-eyed Chris O’Dowd ordering a latte. One time I went to the Young Vic Theatre EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR A MONTH hoping to run into Patrick Stewart, who was performing there. At least three of my friends bumped into him there and they weren’t even trying.

One time I saw Gary Lineker filming a Walker’s Crisps commercial, but I don’t count that because someone told me he was there so I immediately ran over to check him out.

Another time I saw Gok Wan at Wandsworth Cineworld. Who?? Exactly. I didn’t even know who he was. Someone else pointed him out.

gokwan

But! I move to Dayton, Ohio and I meet James Brown, WHIO news anchor, while sipping bourbon at my local. In your face, Londoners. I didn’t know who he was at first, either. I don’t watch TV news and I’m not about to start, but it was genuinely exciting to meet someone people actually know.

When he said he was a news anchor I accidentally said, “Oh, like Brian Williams?” Tip: never compare news anchors to Brian Williams.

He was super friendly, though! I later researched him and everything he said was legit. Not that I thought he’d be a liar; I was just really excited to meet someone famous so I wanted to know all about him.

It turns out he knows my friend I was having a bourbon with (they’d been on vacation together!) so I was like … does this mean I’m connected to the inner circle of Dayton’s elite??

IMG_3006

I was drinking Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel and it was heavenly. My lip started to go numb a little bit – didn’t realize it’s 110 proof. It actually kind of reminded me of Booker’s – strong, full of flavor, slight numbness. One of my favorite bourbons to date!

I should note that James Brown was drinking water because he was only there briefly for someone’s leaving do (I think). I don’t know what Americans call this: You work with someone and they’re having drinks because they’re leaving to go to a different job. Does that not have a name here?? It’s a leaving do.

XOXO,
Dayton’s Gossip Girl.

barterhouse.

I have been pretty committed to my fitness plan since I signed up for the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati in May. There is no way I’m running the whole thing, but I’m planning to try to run two miles, walk two miles, etc.

My running went out the window when my friend said he’d buy me a bourbon if I’d ditch running and have a quick drink. Ditched.

He’s an odd one, in a good way. Historically, I never talked to people in bars, but for some reason the day before Thanksgiving I was just depressed enough (still harping on an ex) to talk to strangers. I’m so glad I did! I don’t meet a ton of men with whom I can converse at length, and it’s nice to have friends who aren’t people you’d normally ever meet or socialize with.

So, we met up and I had Barterhouse, a 20-year-old bourbon – definitely the oldest I’ve had, but old doesn’t necessarily equal good. He said it started when I was f—-ing ten years old so it better be good.

IMG_2958

I found an in-depth review online if you want the proper nitty gritty deets, but essentially this was a NICE bourbon that is gone in a flash. It was way too easy to sip and smelled so delightful and pleasant. Smelling Barterhouse made me smile and I enjoyed sniffing it almost as much as I enjoyed drinking it.

I don’t want to make a habit of drinking $20 glasses of bourbon, so I scoured my list for something on the cheaper end I haven’t tried.

Hello, Old Crow Reserve.

Old Crow Reserve

Ew! Perhaps it was because I had a sweet little delight immediately prior, but this was not good. Honestly I think I might have enjoyed it more had this been my first drink of the night. It was a little rough, and I definitely drank it far more slowly than the Barterhouse I slammed – exactly why I normally don’t choose sweeter bourbons!

Until next time.

my bourbon trail.

Six months ago I don’t think I’d ever tried bourbon (although I’d tried Scotch) and last weekend I passed 50! For trying 50 each Karen and I get our names on plaques at the bar. Pic coming soon!!

The thing I love most about having some bourbon street smarts is that I don’t have to pretend to be cool with wine and beer anymore. Everyone is into wine or beer and they just aren’t for me. I always felt like a rube being all, “Give me the cheapest wine on the menu because it all tastes the same.”

At restaurants I’d always do the little sniff, taste and pause before I said it was acceptable, but I was merely mimicking the behavior of my peers.

IMG_2933

For a few months last year I was deluded in thinking I was moving to Portland, which sounded incredible! When I thought about living there I thought of constant adventure in food, hiking, learning, everything! That unfortunately didn’t work out, but I had my heart equally set on Orlando for all the same reasons + the addition of sun. Then I ended up in … Dayton. It was much harder not moving to Orlando, because that was a choice I had to make myself and how do you say no to the homeland?? We were both born near here:

Siesta Key in January!
Siesta Key in January!

How I feel about Orlando is how you feel when you first meet someone exciting. You think about him (or her), wonder what he’s doing, and feel happy any time the thought of him pops into your mind. I’m always wondering how Orlando is doing, thinking about the sun and how it would feel to walk out side and have it be pleasant. I chose Dayton because it was the financially smart option, and when is the financially savvy option ever the FUN option?!

Despite it being no Orlando, it is fun!

There’s more community here than anywhere I’ve ever lived. I feel like my life is a TV show sometimes. I never knew in what universe random friends would actually gather regularly at a central location, like in How I Met Your Mother or Friends. But that happens to me now! I also get to spend a lot of time with Karen.

50

We live near a bourbon bar, and it turns out bourbon is the best social drink. Even better than coffee! Coffee makes my heart beat quickly and I feel a bit ill, but I can sip a single bourbon over an hour. (or longer!) For me, bourbon has become about conversation, but I also genuinely love the taste and learning about whiskey.

There are a lot of great ones and a lot of not-so-great ones, but overall they’re ALL at least a little good (I do not feel the same about Scotch). I’ve had bourbon I didn’t love, like Ten High or Jesse James Outlaw, both of which we described as being training wheels for bourbon because they tasted like water.

When I first started I enjoyed things that were a bit sweeter and smoother, like Maker’s Mark. I don’t enjoy those much now because they don’t have a huge flavor and they’re a bit average. Not bad, not great. I definitely don’t think Maker’s is worth the price, which seems to me to be largely about marketing.

I love super hot sauce and I like black coffee. It’s become the same with bourbon – I want a kick! My current favorite is Booker’s. Definitely a punch in the face.

bookers

(source)

We have cards at the bar so we can make notes and check off what we try. All we wrote next to Booker’s is “chest hair.” It’s so strong (about 130 proof) that it makes my lip go numb, but it’s such a fun experience and it’s full of flavor! It’s the same excitement I get when I try an extreme hot sauce and I burn inside for like 20 minutes. This one is a SLOW sipper for me, but that’s what I like because I hate feeling drunk. Same thing happened when I tried George T. Stagg, except I was even more numb!

I don’t generally drink Booker’s at the bar, though, because at $12 a glass it’s not the economical decision. Recently I’ve started drinking Old Ezra 7, which people laugh at but it’s half the price and has a bit of flavor with a decent little punch.

My other cheap drink of choice was Old Grand-Dad Bonded, but I think there is a shortage or something. At least in Dayton, anyway. They’re out at the bar and I couldn’t find it at the store! Regular OGD is kind of a snoozer.

Karen’s favorite is Buffalo Trace. She loves bourbon too, but she’s harder to please in general. Or easier to please since she likes everything?

We’re planning a trip in April to some of the distilleries in Kentucky: Four Roses, Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey. I can’t wait!! We’re getting a cabin with some friends for the weekend.

I’m going to start writing more about the bourbons I try as I try them so I can write short posts vs novels like today! I want to get into the habit of short little posts, more frequently, like I used to do.

PS: I meant for the title of this post to be like Bourbon Trail … but my personal Bourbon Trail, but later I was concerned it threw out the image of a happy trail. Ew!