Category Archives: Travel

Summer Recap

Given that I dropped off the face of the planet and stopped blogging for a few months after my surgery, I missed blogging about a lot of big summer events. I’ve been debating on how to chronicle everything and catch y’all up, and I think the easiest way is to do a big ole recap post. Let’s get to it…

June

Abby’s Bridal Shower & Bachelorette

Ashlen, Niki, Abby & Katie

Abby is Dave’s cousin. They grew up in the same small town, went to the same school, etc. etc. Given that Dave is an only child, Abby and her sister Katie are the closest thing Dave has to siblings. They were in our wedding and they and their mom hosted my bridal shower. So when Abby got engaged, I knew I wanted to help out with her bridal shower. I helped host it with Dave’s mom at Wolcott House – the same place where my shower was held. It’s kind of a tradition for locals to hold sowers there and it’s easy to see why – there’s space to set up several tables, a kitchen to prepare food, space to play awesome bridal games….so pretty much everything you might need for a shower and no one has to deep clean their house and rearrange half their furniture. Continue reading Summer Recap

Spending the Holidays in a Winter Wonderland

Christmas Ornament

I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve. We’ve been up in Canada for well over a week, Christmas has come and gone, but it seems like we just arrived here. Our trip is coming to an end. When we left Indy we hadn’t set a hard “return” date, but we were thinking about leaving on January 2nd. We could relax and enjoy New Years Eve with my family, and spend New Years Day watching the Rose Bowl Parade, football, and hockey games before heading out the following day. It seemed like a great plan, but Mother Nature is messing it all up! It’s not unusual for snow / winter weather to ruin your plans when you’re in Canada, but the weather up here is actually looking pretty clear. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Chicago and Indianapolis are due to get hit with snow and ice on Saturday (Jan. 3rd – ie the day we were supposed to be driving through that area). In order to miss this storm, and prevent us from having to drive through an icy / snowy mess, we’re packing up today and leaving tomorrow morning. Don’t worry, we’ll still be enjoying New Years Eve by eating Chinese food and watching the Canada vs. USA hockey game. 

Christmas TreeWe arrived in Canada late in the afternoon of December 21st, in time to have dinner with my parents. My mom made pierogies with bacon and fried onions – a meal you can easily find in Winnipeg, but that I don’t get much in Indianapolis. Side note: I’ve actually managed to find some pierogies at Fresh Market in Indy so I do get them on occasion! After dinner I was anxious to get the Christmas tree up and decorated. Nothing beats the smell of a real tree in the house at Christmastime! I hadn’t been back in Canada to celebrate the previous two years, so my parents just stepped back and let me do all the decorating with my favorite ornaments that I hadn’t seen in years. We spent the next couple days finishing up the remainder of the Christmas preparations – shopping (we braved several malls, and I have a new appreciation for all the traffic circles in our hometown of Carmel after dealing with Winnipeg’s ridiculous number of stop lights!) and some last minute gift wrapping.

On Christmas Eve we were planning on attending church with my aunt and uncle, then we were going to be spending the evening at their house. Unfortunately, we got news earlier in the day that my uncle had been under the weather and my aunt was starting to feel ill as well. They wouldn’t be attending church that night, they certainly wouldn’t be up for hosting us all for Christmas Eve, and they decided to stay home on Christmas Day as well (which we appreciated, because we didn’t want to get sick!). We have a small family, so the loss of two people for Christmas dinner is kind of a big blow. That, and the fact that I don’t get to see my aunt and uncle very often, made it a bit of a depressing situation. Thankfully my mom’s cousin and her family were planning on attending a Christmas Eve service at their church, which isn’t far from my parent’s house at all, so we joined them instead! I got to see some of the kids in our extended family that I haven’t seen in a couple years. In that time they’ve gone from little babies to walking and talking human beings! After church we headed back to my parents’ house, and my cousin (Braden) and his girlfriend (Sabrina) came over. They didn’t want to get sick from my aunt and uncle either, but unfortunately it sounded like Braden came down with it a few days after Christmas. My mom heated up some frozen finger food in the oven, and Braden and Sabrina brought over Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuit mix. After eating, we sat down and played Wits & Wagers, a game I gave to Dave last Christmas. We even got my dad to play, which was a Christmas miracle.  Continue reading Spending the Holidays in a Winter Wonderland

Canadian-isms

The other night Dave and I were talking and I said “I don’t want to get a sliver.” Dave said “What?” so I repeated myself three times, and each time I spoke louder and louder, until I realized that Dave could hear me just fine. He had no idea what I meant by the word “sliver.” Every once is a while this happens to us. I say something and apparently it’s not an American term, or a Midwestern term, and Dave gives me blank stares. Apparently sliver is one of those terms. It gave me the inspiration behind this next post – a few terms you should probably know if you ever have the chance to head up to Canada! Continue reading Canadian-isms

Chasing Beavers and other Canadian Adventures

It had been over a year since I had been back to Canada. We were planning on visiting last Christmas, but neither my Green Card nor my request to travel outside the country while waiting for my Green Card were approved before the holiday. After that it was a matter of finding the time. It’s a two day drive to visit my family (well, a day and a half at least) and that’s only one way. Essentially we need to block off four days of travel time in addition to our visit. “Why don’t you fly?” you ask? Take a look at prices of flights to Winnipeg, Manitoba from your nearest airport, my American friends, and you’ll start to understand why. We would be looking at ticket prices of at least $500 per person. Ummm…no thank you. Plus flying with Katie-dog is difficult because she’s juuuust over that 20 lb cut-off that most airlines use as a weight limit for dogs in the cabin. So yeah, 4 days of driving. You can do the entire drive in one day, but it’s difficult. Even if you only eat at drive-thrus and can hold your bladder really well, you’re still looking at about 16 hours, at least….more depending on the traffic when you hit the big cities like Chicago. 

Dave’s work load had slowed down a bit and he had a long weekend coming up for Labor Day so at the last minute we decided to make the trek up to Canada to visit my family. We left on a Friday evening after Dave was done with work, and after packing up the car (don’t even get me started on that stressful process) we hit the highway. Thankfully Dave’s parents live just off the interstate, about 11/hours from us, which made it a great stopping point for dinner that night. When we were in town for the Independence Day celebrations we stopped in at a new restaurant called The Brass Buckle Bar & Grill. Let me tell you, for a small town this is a spectacular restaurant! So if you ever happen to be driving on I-65 between Chicago and Indianapolis, I highly recommend stopping there for a bite to eat. It’s in Wolcott, Indiana, just north of Lafayette. The first time I was there they had a limited menu because they had just opened at it was a really busy long weekend. I had some fried pickles (which I try at just about every restaurant that serves them) and a burger. All in all it was pretty good. But this last time I was there….I could barely pick off the menu because there were so many delicious-sounding options! I ordered the fried pickles again, then had a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Let me tell you, I am picky about my grilled cheese so I practically never eat them. That said, this grilled cheese was fantastic. The tomato soup was also great, but I ended up being so full that I could only eat about half of it! I would have asked for a to-go container, but we were hitting the road. My point is…we will be returning customers!

After dinner we headed back to my in-laws’ house to pick up Katie-dog (another reason why we stopped to eat dinner with them was so that we could keep Katie in a nice air conditioned place!), then we hit the road to Madison, Wisconsin. We didn’t end up hitting Chicago until way after rush hour, which was great. My parents and I have driven through Chicago so many times over the years that we actually have an IPass to get through all the Illinois tolls quicker (and cheaper!). It’s perfect for times like this when we’re trying to get through the city as quick as possible. We stayed overnight in Madison, then hit the road again the next morning. We were on the interstate until Eau Claire, then headed up to Duluth, Minnesota, and then over to International Falls, Minnesota where we crossed the border into Canada. After that it was only three more hours until we reached my parents’ cabin!

The cabin is located on Lake of the Woods, which spans the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and goes into the state of Minnesota. Despite the fact that my parents live in Winnipeg, which is in Manitoba, the cabin is actually in Ontario. It’s a large lake, and the northern (Canadian) part of the lake is really rocky. It’s full of lots of islands, big and small. Lake of the Woods is a very popular destination for Winnipeggers in the summer, and a ton of Manitobans have cottages on the Ontario part of the lake. Winnipeg experiences somewhat of a mass exodus to cottage country on the summer weekends. There are other nearby lakes as well…my aunt and uncle have a place at Victoria Beach, which is on Lake Winnipeg. The cottage experience is really different between Lake of the Woods and Victoria Beach. Most of the cottages, including my parents’ cottage, on Lake of the Woods are right on the water. Fishing, swimming, and boating (including waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, etc.) are all really popular activities. Victoria Beach is set up kind of like an old English town. Most of the cottages aren’t right on the lake, they’re on sandy streets throughout the town. There are several beaches that all of the cottagers get to go down and enjoy, and there are also little shops like a bakery and a general store where you can pick up supplies (whereas people on Lake of the Woods usually have to run into the closest town….usually Kenora, but Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls are also options for some cottagers. We’re closest to Kenora, but it’s still a 30 minute drive from the cabin). Lake Winnipeg is actually larger than Lake of the Woods (it’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world outside the Great Lakes). It’s sandy (hence the beaches) and shallower than Lake of the Woods. It can get really wavy because it’s pretty open, whereas the wind and waves are often blocked by islands in Lake of the Woods. Cars are banned from Victoria Beach in the summer, so everyone walks or bikes everywhere. The cottages tend to be much closer together than on Lake of the Woods, so there’s more of a sense of community whereas Lake of the Woods is all about the solitude.   Any Winnipegger will tell you that we’re lucky to have a large variety of cabin country nearby!

The first few days were filled with a whole lot of relaxation. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t perfect the first couple of days, but it’s always hit or miss this time of the year. By Tuesday my dad got my Dave out fishing, and he had a lot of fun catching a nice big smallmouth bass (any oxymoron, I know) and a walleye for his dinner that night. They also went out again for most of the day on Wednesday, when the weather was a lot nicer, but didn’t have nearly as much luck catching fish as the previous day. 

Dave with his 16.5'' smallmouth bass.
Dave with his 16.5” smallmouth bass.

Continue reading Chasing Beavers and other Canadian Adventures

Five on Friday

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Thank you to everyone for their well-wishes regarding Our No Good Very Bad Month. Despite the fact that we no longer feel secure in our own home, are out $50 to replace all our locks, and are down a car, we are still thankful that we got my laptop back and that Dave wasn’t injured in the car crash. I’m also very thankful that we have so many people in our corner. A big thank you to Dave’s manager, Ryan, who drove out of his way to pick Dave up for their client meeting downtown today. Gestures like that make our lives so much less stressful!

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Indy to BuffaloMy absence on the blog earlier this week was due to the fact that I was out in Buffalo, New York. I drove from Indiana to Buffalo on Monday, picked my mom up at the airport there on Monday evening, had medical appointments on Tuesday, then drove back to Indiana on Wednesday. It’s about a 7.5 hour drive, which isn’t a lot of fun (especially on your own), but my little Corolla only needed to be filled up 3 times – and I had 3/4 of a tank left when I rolled into town. At approximately $40/tank, it’s a much more economical option than flying. Honestly, from the time I would have needed to leave for the airport to the time I would have landed in Buffalo, it probably would have been about 6 or 7 hours of travel anyway. Continue reading Five on Friday

Viva Las Vegas!

Last Friday morning 14 (that’s right, FOURTEEN) of us jetted off from Indianapolis to Las Vegas for an EPIC bachelor / bachelorette party for our friends Cody and Amanda. Cody is a pretty important person to me because he was the one who introduced me to Dave. I’m tickled pink that he has found an awesome girl who makes him happy. As I said last week, I think bachelorette parties to be sort of an extension of the wedding in respect to the fact that the bride should get what she wants, and I think we just might have been successful at giving Amanda the bachelorette party of her dreams!

Continue reading Viva Las Vegas!

Back Home Again in Indiana

Hola blogosphere! I’ve been gone for a while. Gone to Las Vegas, that is! 

I’m not going to recap our entire Las Vegas shenanigans yet, because an epic Las Vegas bachelor / bachelorette long weekend party post deserves some major attention….so I’ll get to it tomorrow. I was a bad blogger and barely took any photos, partially because we’ve seen all the Vegas sights before and partially because I was too busy having fun. Oh well! 

I will give you a few little non-party teasers of our trip….

I actually came home with gambling winnings on this trip….I netted a whopping $28. Unfortunately my husband did not share my luck, so we ended up losing overall, but the nickle slots were nice to me at Monte Carlo (where we were staying) and I threw $2 into a dollar-slot machine on Fremont Street and ended up winning $20 (so a net of $18), which made me pretty happy. 

Strength in What RemainsPool-time in Vegas gave me a great opportunity to get in some reading. A while ago my dad sent us two books, both authored by Tracy Kidder. During this trip I picked up one of the books – “Strength in What Remains”. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far I’m really enjoying it. I’ll write more about it in the near future… 

I’m back home again in Indiana but Dave had to head directly to Minneapolis on business. We spent a lot of time apart when we were dating, but I think we’ve spent every night together since we got married back in October. It feels a little odd to be alone! I just picked Katie-dog up from the doggie hotel, and she’s already doing a great job at keeping me company. 

photo (4)

So check back tomorrow – I’ll have all the details about our super-fun trip to Sin City!

Until later, Ashlen

Berkshire Weekend 2014

Hello blogosphere! I’ve been gone a while. My real life took over and my virtual life had to be put on hold. But now I’m back with lots of updates! 

Dave and I arrived in Omaha last Friday night. I think it’s a testament to any newlywed couple who can drive 10 hours from central Indiana to Nebraska without wanting to kill each other at the end. We met up with my dad at the hotel, and I had a chance to grab a quick shower before heading out to Gorat’s. But I’m getting ahead of myself…let me back up a second.

Last April my father and I were on a road trip and he was talking to me about the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. He had been once before, several years ago. He mentioned that it would be a good experience for me to go, especially while Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are still alive. I think he may have forgotten about that conversation when I brought the idea up again earlier this year. I’m not working, so it really was the perfect year for me to go. My dad ordered up passes for the three of us (Dave wanted in too, of course) and booked up hotel rooms. Continue reading Berkshire Weekend 2014

Remember Spring Break?

I’m just a few years out of college, so it wasn’t that long ago that I got to experience that glorious thing called spring break. Now that I’m in my mid-20s without a school-aged child, I don’t get to experience that luxury anymore. In fact, I almost forgot that it even existed. Last week I was looking at some Instagram posts of my incredibly talented photographer cousin Meredith Sherlock and wondering to myself “doesn’t she go to school!?” My question was answered by a Tweet later in the week when she reminisced about having two weeks off rather than just one.

Continue reading Remember Spring Break?

Las Vegas Honeymoon

Because I’m waiting on my Green Card, I’m legally not allowed to leave the country, which limited our options for a honeymoon destination. We seriously considered Hawaii, but after looking at the cost we decided it wasn’t feasible. We found a pretty good deal on flights and a five night stay at The Palazzo.

Continue reading Las Vegas Honeymoon