2015 Spring Coffee Tour, Day One.

Today I left Tulsa for Fort Worth, Texas. First off, I made it to my destination just fine. I am enjoying an evening on my own, at a friend’s house. She’s out of town but is letting me stay at her lovely place. I admit, when I walked in the door and put down my bag, all of a sudden I didn’t recognize my life anymore. NOTHING was the same! Different house. No people around. I am now self-employed so technically this isn’t even a “vacation.” And the next leg of the journey holds a whole bunch of unknowns for me. Which is difficult, because I’m not really the greatest traveler. As a recovering Desk Hamster, sometimes it’s hard to break out of the routine. Which is exactly why it needs to be done. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
So here I am.
On the way here, I stopped in Oklahoma City for coffee. We had heard from a fellow Coffee Geek in Tulsa that Coffee Slingers was the place to go for espresso drinks when you’re in OKC. I was skeptical, mostly because I thought the name was kind of goofy. But trying new things is part of the theme of the trip so why not add coffee to the theme too…
I discovered that Coffee Slingers is located in the downtown area. Which is a hectic place to drive into at noon on a Friday. I realized that I needed food before I had my coffee but didn’t see much around, so I hoped that Coffee Slingers maybe served something that would pass as an actual meal… which they don’t. By this time I was getting kind of anxious as I could feel my blood sugar dropping so I walked down the street and sat at the bar at The Hideaway (OK pizza chain) and had a salad and some meatballs with marinara. I sat between two younger guys who both had work ID badges on and were drinking beer with their pizzas. I was the only woman at the counter… I just did it because it was FASTEST. By the time I left the place was completely packed. I put the leftover meatballs in the car and headed back to Coffee Slingers.
By this time it was around 12:30 and the tables were about half full. I ordered a latte and asked if there was just one size. The dude said yes but they could put a shot of something-that-I-couldn’t-make-out- what-he-was-saying in it if I wanted something sweeter. I shook my head in horror (and I’m still a little offended that apparently I look like someone who wants some gross syrup in their espresso drink). I even had to request that he NOT put the latte in a paper to-go cup. I mean come ON now!
A few minutes later I got the latte and did the standard coffee geek thing – I took pictures of it before I tried it.

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Then I got out my notebook and pencil. And took more pictures. Then I tried it. Really good! As you may be able to see, the crema was quite dark, and it stayed on the surface all the way till the end. Crema is bitter tasting, so I would get a little of this taste with each sip, but it was still good. And I would say the drink was pretty mild. In that it didn’t slap me in the face (like what Starbuck’s does, which always tasted burnt to me, from what I recall. Which is hard to do now since I have refused to drink Starbuck’s for quite some time – no one should be THAT desperate). Anyway. Despite my Prior Anxiety and Weird Lunch, the latte went down pretty easy.
Although I’m starting to wonder if I should maybe switch to cappuccinos at this point… I am going to do more research on the differences before lattes and cappuccinos. The main difference is more milk in the latte, but brew ratios / shot sizes / milk ratios vary so greatly that sometimes it’s difficult to tell for sure. I decided that on the way back to Tulsa, I would stop there again and try a cappuccino, just to see if I could compare them. And what a great excuse to stop again on the way home.
The espresso machine was a Synesso, which I admit, I hadn’t heard of before today. I just looked them up on the interwebs – they are hand-built machines made in Seattle. It was a great looking machine – and based on what it produced, I’m a fan.
It just so happens that Coffee Slingers roasts their own beans, and they had one of the biggest roasters I’ve ever seen. Of course I took pictures of that too.

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There were quite a few people working behind the counter, but no one was roasting today. Too bad. Or maybe that’s good because if there was, I probably wouldn’t have left for another hour. There was a woman with a full sleeve tattoo and a big dark braid walking around like she was Boss. I don’t know if she was The Boss, but she was definitely Boss. And as for the customers, there was, of course, a very large proportion of Earnest Hipsters. I was not the oldest person there, but I was one of THE oldest…
Overall, that experiment was a success and I’d give the latte an 8.5/10. I’ll definitely stop there on the way home.

So here I am in Fort Worth, Day One complete. I’m sleepy and my back hurts and I am apprehensive about tomorrow. It’s been a strange trip so far, everything feels different, I’ve been thinking about my Mom a lot, and somehow it feels very final like I’m not going back to Tulsa. I don’t mean this literally (at least I hope not!) but rather, something is changing or being left behind.
Change is good. On to the next adventure.

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Spring Break 2015.

Today I am trying to finish up a writing project, and also pack for a Road Trip. Because tomorrow, I am leaving for Texas.
This Texas Trip serves several purposes – to make some business contacts, to see some music, to meet some people, and to see some friends and get some crafting done. And there is also one other objective…
I’ve been thinking of what to call this trip. Because it needs a name. Here are some ideas:

  • “Middle Aged Spring Break”
  • “Keep Track ‘o That Mileage” Business Trip
  • “SXSW One Week Too Late”
  • “The Tax Deductible Coffee Shop of Oklahoma &Texas Tour”

I think the last one comes closest. I’ve already found a place to stop in Oklahoma City tomorrow, as I drive the first leg of the trip: Tulsa – Fort Worth, TX. The place might be a little out of the way, but I’ve heard it’s really great so I’m going to stop.
And I also have a destination in mind for Saturday, when I drive from Fort Worth to Austin. Once I’m in Austin, I’ll have to do some homework and find out where to go. I have a few names, but I’m hoping to find some Coffee People who can steer me right. I. CAN’T. WAIT.
I am going to document my journey – I’ll bring you all the coffee highlights, and anything else that might be worth mentioning (if there IS anything else to mention besides great coffee). So be sure to check back so you can read all about it.
Did I tell you I’m going to write a book about coffee? I think this means I can deduct all lattes and bags of beans that I buy. Yesssss.

I think this trip will be the Tax Deductible Coffee Spring Tour 2015. It might be a while before I get the t-shirts printed up.

Texas will have some stiff competition - Chimera here in Tulsa is all that and a bag of chips.
Texas will have some stiff competition – Chimera here in Tulsa is all that and a bag of chips.
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oh austin, i really have a thing for you.

So I just went down to Austin for Labor Day Weekend.
It was great. I hadn’t been in 3 years so it was about time!
The trip had two purposes – first and foremost, my friend Dayl and I went for a “girls weekend” together. We’ve known each other since 1997 but hadn’t ever traveled together. AND this weekend was her birthday. No pressure on trying to make it a good trip!
The second purpose was to see some Austin music. Some of my favorite musicians are out of Austin and play pretty regularly, so we could combine seeing a few different acts in one weekend. They didn’t let us down.
On Saturday we saw Bob Schneider at the Luckenbach Dance Hall, just outside of Fredericksburg. It was a 1.5 hour drive from Austin but it was through Hill Country – really, really beautiful rolling hills. Bob is a great act to see live, if you ever get the chance. He’s a prolific songwriter, really funny, and his band is incredible. Dayl had never seen him before, and while it wasn’t exactly her musical cup of tea, I think she enjoyed it… Bob is definitely my cup of tea, and I loved it.
On Sunday, after watching the bats emerge from under the bridge on South Congress, we headed over to the Saxon Pub on Lamar to catch the Resentments. 3 of the members of the band weren’t present that night – it was just 2 guitarists playing an acoustic set. But it was still one of the best shows ever. Going to the Saxon is like being home somehow, and the music of the Resentments, no matter how many members are present, is food for the soul.
We did lots of other things in Austin, like eat, look at shops on South Congress, eat some more, and look in more shops. We almost made it to a museum and were trying to get to Barton Springs, but ran out of time. It was just nice spending time with Dayl and catching up on our lives and Other Important Matters.
It was quite HOT down there, and since I am a Professional Desk Hamster, I don’t get out in the heat much anymore and I wasn’t really accustomed to it. It made me a little less motivated, I’m sorry to say. Guess I’ll have to head back again soon… when it’s cooler though!
So I have a few tips for you, if you decide to make your own pilgrimage to Austin in the summer… these are lessons I learned from the weekend…
Travel Tips:
1. If you are going to drive from Fort Worth to Austin on the first day of college football season, be sure to leave 3 hours earlier than you were originally planning.
2. Do not stop at a place called Health Camp in Waco. No matter how long you’ve been in the car and how hungry you are (resort to item #3 below). The name is deceptive advertising. Which you SHOULD realize when in the middle of Burger Country.
3. Bring peanut butter and a loaf of bread (and knife) and keep it all in the car. As someone with low blood sugar I need to eat at certain intervals. When you go out to eat, you never know how long you’ll end up waiting for a table; or once you’ve gotten your table, how long you’ll be waiting for your food. Especially if there is a Texas football game on.
If you know that your restaurant is near a food truck (or if your restaurant IS a food truck), you can leave the pb and bread at the hotel.
5. You will sweat through everything you bring with you, so take one extra outfit per day. I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to clothes but you just can’t bring too much extra stuff with you. For reals.
6. Remember to bring socks to wear with your cowboy boots when it’s over 90. Eeeew.
Music tips:
1. When traveling 500+ miles to see a band, always always buy a ticket ahead of time.
2. At the show, laugh really hard when the ticket guy who controls whether or not you get your “over 21 so you get alcohol” wristband tells a really bad joke about Oklahomans.
3. If you are young, female, attractive and are with a friend who is the same, stand up front and act like you’re going to make out in front of the band. I think they like that kind of thing.
4. If a musician agrees to do a podcast with you but you didn’t set an exact date / time, don’t let it slide till the last day you’re in town – it ain’t gonna happen.
5. Bring a damn tripod if you decide to video the band playing a really great song that happens to be over 5 minutes long. My arm nearly fell off.
6. Be sure to see 3 musical acts while you are there – if you don’t go see these, your trip to Austin will have no point whatsoever.
The Resentments
Bruce Hughes and the All Nude Army
Bob Schneider
So do it.
hot.
hot.
bob sr and bob jr at luckenbach
bob sr and bob jr at luckenbach
even hotter.
even hotter.
driving into the rain
driving into the rain
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my trip to canada, part one – begin with The END

So I went to Canada last week. While I was there, I wrote a bit, and was planning to come back and put it all together to put up on my blog. But then The Flight Home happened, and I decided to begin the stories starting at the end. So here is Part One – The Flight Home or,
 
The day started at 3:50 a.m. when I got up, had a bit of breakfast, and got driven in to Toronto from the Canadian countryside. Vacation was over, it was time to go home. I sat in the airport for a few hours reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, possibly the funniest book I’ve ever read, btw… anyway, as soon as the plane took off I fell asleep and had an uneventful flight to Chicago, where I bought an overpriced sandwich and mediocre chocolate. I debated searching for a Chicago Starbucks city mug, but decided against it, as I figured my boyfriend might not let me in the house with 4 new Starbucks mugs. Yes, I already had 3 in my bag – Boston (a gift brought to Canada for me), Toronto, and the all-encompasing “Canada” mug. And I had refrained from buying 2 more – Niagra Falls and Cambridge didn’t make the cut. I know my boyfriend already thinks I have a Starbucks mug problem. OK so maybe I do a little. But once you start, you can’t stop. Like potato chips. Or bubble wrap.
So I skipped the Chicago mug (I’ll be back, Chicago!) and schlepped onto the plane home, and promptly also fell asleep. Everything seemed to be so straightforward… until about 30 minutes before we were supposed to land…
I woke up and was kind of dozing in and out until this happened, then I was wide awake. Here is my (slightly edited) notes that I took, on the fly (on the fly, get it, get it?) for the rest of the flight. Enjoy…
 
OMG this will make a GREAT blog post and the perfect end to my great Northern Vacation 2014.
I was just sitting here thinking about writing a blog post called “Why I Would Make a Terrible Flight Attendant” when the Captain just came on the intercom and said we’re 30 minutes out of Tulsa but when we took off there was a “slight jerk to the right” which was “abnormal.” It’s nothing to be worried about he said, they don’t think anything is wrong, but as a precaution they are having the emergency trucks on the runway for us. They are going to fly the plane once over the runway so that the ground crew can inspect the landing gear, then I guess we’ll go for it…
My first reaction was to laugh uncontrollably but I stifled it down to a loud smirk.
So now we sit here and wait to meet our possible doom. I notice a knot in my chest as well as my stomach – now the one in my stomach is tighter – no wait now it’s a tie again…
Several things are going through my mind. My Trust documents are set up… Too bad I didn’t get it on with my boyfriend one last time before I left on vacation… Will this take long? Because I don’t have an extra sandwich. No one is going to believe this one! I’m never flying this airline again. Will my new Starbucks mugs get smashed? Will I have to slide down the emergency exit slides because the plane is on fire?
This should be fun.
Hopefully I’ll get back to this and write the ending which will be uneventful and quite frankly, a bit of a letdown. If I don’t make it and somehow my iPhone survives the ensuing 100 foot fireball from hell, and you read this, please tell my family I love them and that Tiffany’s chocolate cake from last week was the best, as was Magda’s lasagna. And tell my boyfriend that he was The One but now he’s on his own and he should remain a bachelor in mourning for the rest of his days… But he can go ahead and sell my stuff.

12:58 – starting our descent. to be continued…

13:00 – the flight attendant is showing written instructions to the people sitting in the emergency exit row. My stomach is all, WTF??!? In all my years of flying, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Which is good since that must mean it doesn’t happen too often, but bad because it’s happening now and I’d rather it didn’t.

Last week Magda showed me the “TAT pose,” a pose you can practice to reduce stress. It looks kinda ridiculous but it might be worth a try as we land. If they find my charred remains with one hand on the back of my head and the other pressing three fingers around my nose and forehead, you’ll know I went peacefully.

13:04 – Ha! I can’t believe this is happening to me. Trying to keep from cracking up with laughter. Stomach not amused, brain finds this hilarious!

13:06 – Captain comes on again to remind us that he is expecting a normal landing but we’re doing the pass-by first, etc. He says we’ll “land” in about 15 minutes and that we should “sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of our flight.”
I hope I have enough battery left on my phone to get this all…

13:10 – feeling calm. I have yanked all the skin off my cuticles though. If I survive I’m totally buying the Maserati Ghibli that’s on the back page of the Wall Street Journal the guy 2 rows up is reading. I’ll deserve it.

13:12 – OMG they’re gonna find my remains and the only way they’ll be able to identify my body is by the totally lame horrible 18th century Mennonite* Canadian feminine hygiene products I’m using that were the only ones I could find in the tiny country town we were near, when “that time” showed up, cramps and all, ONE WEEK EARLY. I should’ve realized this was a sign of doom.

13:16 – The stewardess is telling us what to do if the captain instructs us to “brace”… I didn’t manage to pay attention. Sit back, head between knees, arms down… Wait, where do my arms go? WAIT can you tell me gain please?? Wait!!

13:18 – You can cut the tension in here with a… Something not very sharp.

13:20 – Am I having a panic attack? I don’t think so but my chest is right. Low enough that I can now see cars, houses, etc. Lookout below!

13:23 – Just flew over the runway. Saw fire truck and ambulance ready to go, lights flashing. Captain still silent…

13:26 – Still no announcement. But we’re ascending back into the clouds. From what I can smell I’m not the only one with a nervous stomach.

Captain just announced that everything looked normal when we passed over the airport so we can land normally. YEAH WELL WE’LL SEE CAPTAINMAN! WE’LL SEE!!!

13:32 – Ready for the Real Landing… we’ve come around and are descending again. The mood is lighter but were all a little suspicious of the cap’n…

13:34 – Touchdown! Or whatever. Wait, we’re stopped on the runway, what’s going on? Did they discover flames coming out of the bathroom or something? Did something happen after all?


13:38 – Nope, no flaming bathroom. We continue to the gate. Everything’s ok.
13:44 – OK now we can’t get off the plane because something’s wrong with the jetbridge. The cap’n just thanked us for our patience as we have “our little adventure” this afternoon…

13:46 – Door opens. Fresh air! Freedom!! Get ME OFF THE EFFING PLANE.


We didn’t crash. We didn’t have to “brace” for our landing. We did survive. My feelings are mixed. Am I a little disappointed there was no drama? No hellacious fireball? Not really. Now I can go out for sushi with my boyfriend and I’ll have a good story to tell.
brace for landing!
brace! this is NOT how i want to go…
*No offense to any Mennonites out there. I’m sure your girlie products are all up to date and modern and stuff.
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