Category Archives: USA

Short Rocky Mountains Getaway to Breckenridge

Zee husband and I just  returned from a wonderful, albeit too short, trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. Our main objective was to ski but the town has so much more to offer that we didn’t want to miss out on. I especially loved the local gemstone and mineral store, whereas Michael is partial to the local distillery. We both loved both places. 🙂

Casa Bonita Restaurant DenverOn our way to Breck from Denver we stopped at what I would call the most stereotypical food extravaganza on earth: Casa Bonita! While you eat terrible TexMex food and unlimited sopapillas (dough pockets similar to funnel cake but less tasty), cliff divers, pirates, and gorillas entertain you. Pretty darn awesome in the most tackiest of ways. SouthPark featured them in one of their episodes and we just had to go see it. I was totally scared by Black Beard’s Cave. OK maybe not but it was crawsome (crazy awesome).

Time to leave Casa Bonita behind and hit the road for Summit County. It’s always mind boggling for me to see the steep Rockies pop up behind pancake-flat Denver. We had sweet talked the rental car clerk into giving us a German-approved Jetta and thankfully it was able to bring us up snowy I70. Chain laws were in effect and we saw quite a few cars, including SUVs, stuck in the slushy snow.

I70 snowy in Colorado

We got a salad and sandwich at the Quandry Grill and shared a local beer. When in Colorado… What is it about Colorado and the countless craft breweries? We’re blessed with them, too, here in North Carolina but it sure seems above average!

Tab beer at Quandry Grill

After dinner we stopped by the Oxygen Bar to inhale some of the good stuff. Breck is so high that your body can have a hard time adjusting to the altitude. People can get headaches, lightheadedness, nausea, and insomnia and the oxygen is supposed to help. With only 4 days out there and me tending to get lightheaded anyway we didn’t want to take any chances. On top of that it was a really neat experience! You got your very own cannula and were able to select a scent to add to the O2. Neat-O! I did feel great the whole time so I’m guessing it worked. Zee husband said he had issues sleeping – of course he had felt too manly to sniff oxygen. 🙂

The first day we explored Main St and said mineral store. Y’all, Breckenridge is soooo adorable! It literally looks just like a snowglobe town. We explored many a hat, antiques and t-shirt shop as well as an art gallery. The amount of t-shirt shops per capita has got to be one of the highest in the country there. Insane!

Breckenridge Main Street

We warmed up over a steak sandwich from Salt Creek before engaging in an epic battle of the sexes in skeeball at Eric’s Pub.

Yummy Steak Sandwich

In the evening we picked up our friends that had been staying in Frisco and we headed to dinner at The Dredge – a replica of one of the old dredges that used to work the Blue River. Food was decent, not amazing but the staff was very friendly and we had been wanting to try it because we loved feeding the fish there in the summer. My portobello burger was tasty!



The next two days we enjoyed skiing the peaks of Breckenridge. I got more and more comfortable and very much enjoyed skiing down the blue runs by day two (this was 5th and 6th day skiing since day 1 on skis). I was eying a black run but felt like I should end on a good note and not awkwardly slithering down a crazy steep slope. Next time! I cannot wait to go again!

Skiing Breckenridge



Hiking North Carolina

North Carolina has some amazing hiking trails what with the Blue Ridge Mountains and several other state parks like Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock. It’s been a while since I’ve been hiking and I was reallllly missing it. We used to go about once a month when my good Italian energy-bundle of a friend still lived here. So I was super excited when the fiancé had most of a Saturday off and we were able to go hiking!

Harper Creek Falls Pool

I packed my fanny pack (oh yes, it’s awesome, you know you want one) and the love packed a backpack and off we went. Well, that was after trying make a decision on where to go. Sooo many options!

We drove up to the Harper Creek Area just west of Lenoir. My hiking book had mentioned several different length loops and waterfalls – yes please! After we had driven two out of the three hours there his airline decided he had to work the next morning. GREEEEAAAAT. Just as we thought we had the day to actually do something that normal people do on a weekend. Luckily there were some late evening flights that could get him to work so that we just kept going to at least do a short hike.

NC90 all of a sudden turned into a narrow gravel road…. But nothing that this farmer’s daughter couldn’t handle.

Gravel road NC 90to Harper Creek Falls

We eventually went on a fun but short 3 mile hike along Raider Camp Creek and to the Harper Creek Falls where you could rappel down to the base of the falls with the rope that was there. It looked super steep and sissy me was a little intimidated but after I saw a 5 year old rappel back up I just followed zee babe down like a mountain goat. Super fun and the view was awesome! Definitely a place to go back for a swim in the waterfall pool!

Harper Creek Falls Hike Edmonton, NC

World Champions in A World in Shambles

The last couple of weeks have been amazing for us Germans and I was sooooooo thrilled when Mario Goetze kicked the goal that made us win the World Cup. It definitely made me want to be back home for the huge public viewing events and to celebrate in the streets. Watching the coverage in English was so odd! I feel the same way when the Olympics are on. It’s just odd to not see the athletes you are used to. Wish there was an international channel that would cover highlights from every angle. But hey, not complaining at all, at least all the games were on! As a teaser they did have Michael Ballack here as one of the co-hosts. Not sure why but it sure turned out to be a smart move to have someone from the new Weltmeister’s nation there. Well done ESPN! Ole ole ole! 😀

I watched the final game with one of my bridesmaids at a packed local pub and was adopted by a group of older British gentlemen that were kindly cheering for Germany, too. Oh the excitement! What a game! And then we won! I am still randomly squealing. Deutschlaaaaaaaand!!

And then all this is overshadowed with such sadness going on in the world. All the existing conflicts, all the new conflicts, a huge airplane being shot down, girls still being held hostage. Hearing people say they want blood and revenge. How much innocent blood has to flow before we stop fighting each other?! I really am so thankful to be living in a peaceful environment and my heart goes out to those who lost their lives, loved ones, home and safety.

World peace can be achieved when, in each person, the power of love replaces the love of power.

Sri Chinmoy

On that note, here’s a charity to consider: Soccer for Peace

You’ll Never Forget How to Ride A Bike

Part of my wonderful birthday surprise from dear fiancé was the awesome gift of a new bicycle! He had given me a region free DVD player (so now I can watch all my German DVDs (that are all in Germany,… minor detail)!!) and a massage gift certificate earlier in the evening and taken me to a restaurant I had been meaning to try forever so quite frankly, I thought my birthday was awesome and done with. Oh no. We came back home after dinner and he called me down into the den where he was waiting with a beautiful, super fancy hybrid bike. Swoon!

Blue bike birthday surprise! Whoop whoop!

My first thought was “Oh sweeeet! Now I don’t have to research bikes to buy one!” Hehe. I had been wanting to get one this summer but had been dreading doing the research what with all the wedding prep. Mind you this is the first time I’ve had a bike in forever! I don’t even think I had one in college but perhaps I had one in Hamburg for a very short period of time. And all those bike’s I had had were completely functioning right outside the box. Apparently that’s not the case with fancy bikes. The babe was busy over the next couple of days to mount a kickstand and lights and a lock (don’t think we’ve figured out how to mount that one just yet. YOU’D THINK!!).

But finally everything was put together and I had gloves and a helmet (Don’t ride without one peeps! Don’t want your noggin to be smashed!). So off we went! I was sooooo nervous (and giddy – hello 32 year old child). Shifting gears?! I’ve never had a bike with more than 8 gears and I’d always been able to break by trying to pedal backwards. But, thankfully, that wasn’t hard and it really is like the saying – you never forget how to ride a bike! This one translates beautifully into German, too, although we never “unlearn” how to ride a bike. No training wheels needed!

Survived my first ride!

So we’re excited to go on bike rides in our neighborhood, to visit our friends who just moved a mile and a half away from us, and to drive up to the bar that’s a mile and a half in the other direction. We’ve mapped out parks and the Virginia Kreeper Trail and look forward to being active outdoors together. What a great gift!

American Football & My Awesome Super Bowl Dip Recipe

Whether you love football or not, it’s hard to escape the excitement that surrounds the big NFL championship every year. Not having grown up with American football (we play football that actually involves feet back home…) lots of people are surprised by how much I have gotten into football (the American version). What started out as a game of two lines of dudes wrestling, then falling down, then getting up again only to wrestle some more has turned into something that gets me excited quite a few Sundays and even Saturdays on occasion. I love going to games and tailgating and I’ve been an avid fantasy football coach for a few season now, too. Basically, you pick players and their performance in real life gives you a score in your fantasy league. It’s really fun (or equally as agitating) playing with my friends.

Me roarrrring during a Panthers game

So, while I was sad our Carolina Panthers did not make it very far in the playoffs this season (sooo proud they made it to the playoffs at all though!), I am excited about this weekend’s match-up. We watched “The Book of Manning” (you can watch the whole Book of Manning here! How cool!) the other day and after that I am now totally rooting for the Broncos. It’d be nice for their former Panthers coach, too.

My traditional thing to bring to Super Bowl parties is my “Green Bay Packers Hot Bean Superbowl Dip”. I named it after the winners of that year’s Super Bowl… Go figure now I’m getting married to a Green Bay fan. This year I am also bringing fun bingo sheets that you can download for free here.

Sandra’s Hot Bean Super Bowl Dip

– 8oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
16oz refried beans
0.5 packages of taco seasoning
a few drops of hot sauce
2 TBS parsley
0.25 cups cut green onions
16oz Mexican shredded cheese mix

1. Heat your oven to 350F (175C)2. First mix sour cream and softened cream cheese.
2. Then mix everything except for half of the shredded cheese in.
3. Put mixture into a baking dish (I use an 8x12in dish).
4. Top with remaining half of the shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown.
6. Serve with corn chips!

I always have to take a ton of lactaid to eat this but it’s sooooo good, totally worth it! Nom nom!