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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guest Post: Snack Attack with Blossom

Folks, this could quite possibly be the funniest post on Hungry Vegan Traveler to date. Maybe I'm a little bias in saying that, since this guest post is written by one of my best besties, Brandon Haskey. He and I have been friends for several years now and our time together, even while afar, is spent with tears in our eyes from laughing so hard that we get cramps. I love this guy, and I hope that you enjoy his guest post.

The story of my relationship with travel and vegan-ing (which is my official term for when I’m being vegan) begins mostly with my relationship with this blog’s actual host- the dashing and hilarious Amanda. I had known a vegetarian or two throughout my life, no one really close, but I had never known a full on vegan before. In fact, I remember that I had only heard the word once. I was watching MTV in the mid 90s, and they were doing an MTV news special about the obesity problem in America, and they interviewed a vegan. I remember being confused. I was probably 10 and didn’t know any better. I had no real knowledge of what being a vegan meant before I had befriended Amanda. I’d certainly never thought about not eating meat before, let alone cheese. So when Amanda wandered into my life, she provided me with a real life education about what being vegan meant. I tried her vegan dishes, and not only were they healthy, but they were delicious too!

Amanda had piqued my interest in vegan food enough that on a trip to New York City a few years ago, left to fend for myself for lunch after a day reading in Central Park and visiting the Museum of Natural History (what a fantastic day!), I wandered down Columbus and stumbled into 1990s television star Mayim Bialik.

Or I ran into much-hyped NYC vegan eatery Café Blossom. I was excited to try it- I’d never been to an exclusively vegan restaurant before that wasn’t Eden Alley (which, you know, is fantastic). I was wearing a t-shirt that said “Poetry is Sexy” on it with a sketch of Walt Whitman next to it, and the gentleman at the bar immediately complimented it. Off to a good start.

I ended up ordering the Southern Seitan Sandwich because of my love of caramelized onions and avocado. I ended up getting the sweet potato fries with it. That ended up being a very, very good thing.


Here it is, in all its glory. Let’s start with the very, very good. These sweet potato fries are the stuff of legend. Perfectly cooked- crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle, and also the exact right proportion of salt to counteract the sweetness of the fries themselves. The homemade ketchup was tangy and sweet while not being too overpowering of the natural goodness of the fries. These sweet potato fries are still, arguably, the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Now the sandwich. This was my first time trying seitan, but I’m an open minded eater for sure. It was actually really delicious; I imagine the texture was supposed to be somewhat chicken like considering its preparation on this sandwich, and it was pretty darn close. The flavor was spicy, which I liked a lot, and… thank God it was good. The caramelized onions were acceptable- nothing to write home about for sure, but good.

Sadly the worst part of this sandwich was the entire reason I chose to order it- the avocado. For as good as those sweet potato fries were, this avocado was equally disgusting. It was hard as a rock and completely flavorless. Avocados are delicious for that creamy, unctuous thing they do- this avocado was the exact opposite. Upon first bite of the sandwich, I didn’t know what exactly was causing that hard, almost chalk-like consistency in my mouth. I thought it might have been the seitan because I hadn’t tried it before, but soon enough I realized the culprit. I tried to tough them out, but half way through the meal I removed them from the sandwich and pushed forward. I was so disappointed! I know it’s NYC, and $14 for a sandwich isn’t bad, but I felt a little gypped considering how awful that avocado was. So, long story short about Café Blossom- try it out. Surely the avocado was just bad that particular day. Everything else was at least good, and those sweet potato fries are still giving me the vapors two years later.

I called Amanda to relay my sadness about the lack of green, creamy goodness on my sandwich (that sounds awful, doesn’t it?), and she told me about some other vegan places in the city to check out if I had a chance. The very next day I happened to walk right by Candle 79. I only had a little bit before meeting my friend after she got off work, but I wanted to at least try it out a little before I left the city. Amanda also told me lots of celebrities are seen at Candle 79, but, sadly, I didn’t really see any. So, instead, I’m going to pretend I enjoyed my food with world famous vegan Mayim Bialik.

When Mayim and I sat down, we were immediately presented with a little sushi sample. I took a photo of it, but I also don’t remember what it was at all. It was… fine. Mayim really liked it. She rated it 4/5 floppy hats with a sunflower on it.

Like I said, I only had a little bit of time because I was meeting my friend, and Mayim was doing a speech at NYU about astrophysics or whatever the hell her PhD is in, so I just got a salad. I went with the baby arugula salad, seen here:

The lighting in Candle 79 was awful, and I choose to blame that for how blurry this photo is.

It was a little over dressed, but tasty. I’m an absolute sucker for chickpeas, so I was happy they were present. It was good but not great, and I could have fairly easily made it at home for less than the $16 I actually paid for it. Mayim gave it 3.5/5 dances with Joey Russo.

So, thanks for indulging my ridiculous guest blog! If you’re interested in more of my general hilarity, please come visit me at Fat Kid Chronicle. Give me a follow! Please! Nothing would make my agent happier! I’ve adopted a vegetarian diet, and I try to be vegan when possible. The result of this, and the running regimen I’ve started, has been a 61 pound weight loss so far this year! Come join me on my journey to even greater health!

Brandon
(PS- Let it be known that Amanda is the most hilarious person on the planet)
(PPS- Let it be known that Amanda does not have to include that in the actual post) :D

Friday, May 25, 2012

Strange, Strange Meals

Between being harassed by a janitor at the Treasure Island public beach ladies room and almost ingesting dairy (that was a close call), my pal Lisa and I decided to try a new restaurant. Several weeks ago, we checked out Persia House of Kabob, located in the same strip mall as Kaleisia Tea Lounge. Both big fans of falafel, we were interested to check out their take on 'em, as well as some other items on their veg*n menu.

Imagine our surprise when we were told they had no falafel. It's on the menu, but they just didn't have any that day. I guess their designated Falafel Maker was on vacation.

We started with a vegetarian platter to split.

Tabbouleh, dolmades, and hummus. All very standard. I'm very picky about tabbouleh, and this one was pretty good.

But here comes the fun part: our entrees.

I ordered the Baghali Polo: "basmatic rice mixed with herbs, fresh dill, and lima beans." When I saw rice + dill, I got excited, thinking about the amazing dill rice I ate at Noon-a-Kabob in Chicago several years ago. Since the only veggies in this dish were lima beans, I also ordered a side of grilled vegetables.


On the left, what looks like a heart, is actually a whole grilled tomato. The rice itself was NOTHING like the rice I had in Chicago. This rice tasted old and dusty, like someone made it the other day, set it on a tall shelf, and then dusted a ceiling fan directly above it. It was dry and flavorless. I could not detect any fresh dill whatsoever. The grilled vegetables were okay, though a bit "well done."

Lisa ordered the Zereshk Polo: "sweet and sour currant-saffron basmatic rice." Sounds intriguing, yes? Now, think about that description, and imagine what that dish should look like. It sounds like it would be colorful and fragrant. It does NOT sound like a plate of white rice and Craisins, which is what it actually looked like.

I can't imagine what my face looked like when this was placed before us. Lisa rooted around and, no, that was it. No other goodness hidden anywhere else.
I gave Lisa my bleeding heart whole grilled tomato, which she said helped the fact that her meal was dry and flavorless.

So... I don't know if there's much more I need to say about my first impression of Persia House of Kabob. I think the pictures and descriptions say enough.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Much Awaited Vegan Tamale

I recently crossed something off of my Vegan Bucket List. (And no, I don't have the actual Vegan Bucket List to share with you. Gosh, wouldn't it be great if I were really that organized?!) Alas, it is but a mental list (currently), which is risky, because my memory comes and goes.

Anyway, I've been in beautiful Tampa Bay for a year and a half now. I've been to the infamous Taco Bus on Hillsborough Ave a handful of times. SOMEHOW, in the last 18 months, I've NEVER been there on a Saturday or Sunday, which is when they serve VEGAN TAMALES. (And I'm pretty sure that every single time I was at Taco Bus on one of those Monday-Friday days, I'd be sure to state, "Dammit! Why isn't it Saturday or Sunday right now?!")

Considering the only vegan tamale (or any tamale, for that matter) I've ever had was the frozen Amy's Kitchen kind, I was pretty stoked about trying an "authentic" one at Taco Bus, "one of these days."

Well, 547.5 days later (give or take), I finally had one of those days.

And sadly, it was not all I had hoped it would be.

As I mentioned, the only tamale I've ever had before was the frozen Amy's kind, of which there are two vegan varieties: roasted vegetables, and black bean. I tried the roasted vegetable one once and thought it was weird. The black bean I've had at least a dozen times. It ain't half bad! So, at Taco Bus, I was expecting something with beans, maybe tempeh (since they have pretty rockin' tempeh there), and anything else would have been a surprise. I also expected TB's tamales to be about the same size as an Amy's, so I ordered two of them. This is incredibly far from factual, as these tamales are really damn big.


BAM! Check that beast!

So there I was, outside Taco Bus, with two behemoth vegan tamales before me, a moment that I had been awaiting for over a year. What would be inside? All the menu said was "vegan." No ingredients listed, no description. No point in asking anyone inside the Bus what's in it because, hell, they couldn't even understand me when I said, "Two vegan tamales."

I peeled back the corn husky layer and...



and...










AND...




This.

Corn meal. A corn husk packed solid with corn meal. And some corn, and peas, and spices, but mostly corn meal. No beans, no tempeh, no nada. Looooots and lots of corn meal.

I have to admit, I was disappointed. It's not that I hate corn meal, but I don't LOVE it, which is who this tamale is designed for: someone who really freaking loves corn meal.

The two omnivores who were with me seemed to like it (or maybe they were just humoring me), and this isn't an AWFUL tamale. It's just... not as exciting as I had dreamed it would be. The next day, I chopped up the leftovers (hoo boy, that stuff firms up in the fridge!) and simmered 'em in seasoned black beans and salsa, and that was pretty alright.

Closing thoughts: Skip the vegan tamale. Get the butternut squash tostada, which is available any day of the week.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Post: Eating No-Nos in Oz

My super-cool pal Mary Mac guest blogs today, sharing an adventure story from her trip to Australia in 2009.


I have this tendency to... eat things. I mean, really, I eat a lot of things. And I practice very little discrimination when it comes to deciding what new thing I should venture to consume. The weirder something looks, the more willing I am to eat it.
Experiencing new places is one my favorite things to do, but I can’t really fully experience a place without doing two things: tasting a bunch of the regional flavors, and familiarizing myself with the flora of the area (I’m a treehugger, a forester, and a gardener). So naturally, I’m thrilled if I can combine my love of regional flavors with my love of regional plants (i.e. foraging in the woods!).

I took a trip up the coast of North Queensland, Australia in May of 2009, with a group of students from the University of Florida. At 26, I was the oldest student in the group of (rather picky and McDonalds-friendly) undergrads. This led to some rather interesting interactions with the other students; namely, the fact that I ate almost everything in sight, while most of them recoiled in horror at some of the unfamiliar dishes that I tried. (As a side note -- Australians are entirely uncreative in the kitchen).

We began our travel study on Magnetic Island, just off the coast of Townsville. Every few days, we travelled a little further north, heading closer and closer to the tropical rainforest (yes! There is a rainforest in Australia. And it is, in fact, the oldest rainforest on the planet). As a forester, I was most looking forward to arriving in the rainforest and spending a couple of days familiarizing myself with its offerings and ecosystems. As a result, I got progressively more antsy as we inched closer to the portion of Oz that I had been dreaming of exploring.

One day, about a week or two into the trip, we found ourselves in Yungaburra, a small town about three hours south of Daintree Rainforest National Park. We settled in to our hostel, On The Wallaby (http://www.onthewallaby.com/), and I promptly left the hostel and went exploring, along with a friend I had made on the trip, Chris. Now, I normally don’t point out things like this, but I feel that it is pertinent to the story: Chris was several years younger than I was, and he was also one of only two males in the group of twenty students. As such, he was maybe... I don’t know. We’ll just say that he often felt the need to prove himself. Okay. So there we were, exploring the sleepy little town of Yungaburra, when, whaddaya know, I found a MASSIVE black seed pod on the ground. This thing was huge; probably a foot in length. Of course I bent down and picked it up, and popped it open to discover a row of beautiful, shiny, tan-colored seeds. I looked up to find the tree that it fell from. What a beautiful and lush shade tree! It spanned the entire little corner park that we were standing in and was loaded with scores of the seed pods. My heart skipped a beat. We were only, like, three hours away from the rainforest, and already, the flora was beginning to look so lovely and tropical and lush and... well, tasty.

Now, at this point in the story, I have to track back just a bit. Before I left for this trip, everyone I knew sat down and had a talk with me. Everyone. Friends, family members, classmates, professors, co-workers. And they all said exactly the same thing. “Mary. Please promise me one thing. When you are in Australia, promise you will not eat things off the ground that you haven’t identified. Of all the places in the world for you to be careful about this... it’s Australia.” I must say that I began to feel almost affronted at how many people doubted my ability to take care of myself. I had practiced judgment well enough in the past, hadn’t I? I’d never died from eating an unidentified plant before, had I?

Now. Back to this seed pod. I looked at it, longingly, and then looked at Chris.

“Chris. I think we can eat this.”

“Mary. ...Why would you think that.”

“Look at it! It’s beautiful. These look like chestnuts.”

“Mary, I’m not going to eat that.”

“Chris, come on. What’s the worst that could happen if we just take a nibble?”

We bantered back and forth like this for a couple of minutes, when finally I just took one of the seeds and chomped it. I gave it a couple of chews and watched the indecision take place in Chris’ eyes. What should he do? Let this older, wiser, female show him up? Ah. There she was, chewing on this seed, with no abandon whatsoever. And there he was, watching on the sidelines. WHERE WAS HIS SENSE OF ADVENTURE?! ...Well. He found his sense of adventure and hastily grabbed the other portion of the seed that I hadn’t eaten.

And then.

My tongue went numb.

“Chrith.”

“Yesth?
“Chrith, my tongue ith numb.”

We both spat out the mush and scraped our tongues off. I actually didn’t swallow anything for about a half hour, I just kept spitting.

I picked up one of the other seed pods and stuck it in my back pocket before we walked back to the hostel. Chris asked me why in the world I wanted to keep it.

“Because. We’re going to visit the Aboriginal elder and his family tomorrow. I bet he will know what this thing is. I bet you can eat it, Chris. There is probably just a special way to do it.”

He rolled his eyes and spat again.

*****

The next morning, the class of twenty student piled into the bus and took a trip to see Phil, the Aboriginal elder, at his home and piece of land.

When we arrived, he showed us around his property. He was exclusively growing native Australian plants, and he knew the traditional uses for each one. This was perfect. Phil would surely know what this seed pod in my back pocket was.

After he showed us around, he asked if anyone had any questions. I shot my hand in the air.

“Can you tell me what this is, and what its uses are?” I asked, as I pulled a foot-long pod out of my back pocket.

The entire class looked at me questioningly.

“That? That is a black bean nut. It is one of the most poisonous plants on the continent,” Phil answered.

Silence.

I cleared my throat. Now everyone was watching me. I saw Chris‘ poor face in the back of the group.

“So, uhm, what if you theoretically ate this. Like, what would be the symptoms and ... exactly how long would it take you to die?”

“Did you eat this?” Phil asked.

“No. Nope. Didn’t eat it.”

“No really. I need to know if you ate this plant.”

“...Nope. Didn’t actually eat it. Spit it out before I swallowed it because my tongue started going numb.”

“That is because it is full of cyanide.”

The entire class facepalmed. Immediately everyone started chattering. “Mary! What did we say? Don’t eat things! We told you not to eat things off the ground and then you did and then it was terribly poisonous!”

Meanwhile, I was mouthing, “I’m sorry for almost killing you!” to Chris, across the crowd of students.

He was not amused.

*****

You may be wondering the moral of this story. Well. There isn’t one. I still eat things off the ground.

Most things you eat in nature aren’t going to kill you instantly. I would have had to eat a whole bunch of the black bean nut for it to do any real damage (though, admittedly, I did have an instance of the runs the next morning. Whether or not it was related to chewing on that seed, I don’t know). I still nibble, I still explore, and I still find pleasant surprises on my walks in the woods.

And, interestingly enough, native Australians did eat the black bean nut. They just had to spend a lot of time preparing it before it was edible. They mashed it up, put it in a fine net, and submerged it into a stream of running water for a couple of days in order to wash out the poisonous compounds. Then they used the mash to make flour, from what I understand.

Even more interesting is the research being done on this plant and its abilities to combat both HIV and cancer.

I think the real question is, why aren’t we eating this on a daily basis? Sounds healthy to me.

--Mary Mac enjoys bad puns, good beer, and things that glitter. She also enjoys cultivating community through Tampa Free Skool. Join her at TampaFreeSkool.com.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Linky-Dinks

Happy Friday! There's been some cool stuff floating around the interwebs this past week, which means it's time for another links round-up! I often share interesting articles and links on the Hungry Vegan Traveler Facebook page, but every now and then, there's so much that I'll save a bunch for one easy-to-digest blog page, rather than spam your Facebook wall. Enjoy!

No-Meat Athlete posted a round-up of tips from various people on traveling while vegetarian.

I haven't yet tested out any of Nomadic Matt's many travel tips, but he seems to know his stuff. He recently posted his 16 Step Plan to Realizing Your Dream, which simply breaks down every thing one needs to do in preparation for travel. As a disorganized someone who goes back and forth and back and forth on when and how to make my travel goals a reality, you best believe I bookmarked this article!

Via GloboTreks, reflecting on two years of travel blogging with 24 Things I've Learned about Life, Travel, and the World

Sarah Von over at the fantastic blog, Yes and Yes, wrote up a few tips for solo traveling. High gas prices be damned, I WILL ROAD TRIP THIS SUMMER!

Let food be thy medicine! Vegetarian Times posted an A-Z of healing foods (but you can skip the honey and yogurt because, well, YOU KNOW).

I watched this documentary the other night and loved it. It will truly have you give serious thought to where you put you trash, what happens to your trash, and how the waste we create affects everyone and everything. The people in this film are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. (This doc is currently streaming on Netflix.)


In other news, I'm thinking about doing a raw week. Ever since I became kitchen-less, people have been suggesting it over and over. "You don't have a kitchen?! You should go raw!" But honestly, committing to eating completely raw for any time longer than a meal has always felt like too much. State of mind is important, too, though, and I think I'm finally at a place where I'm ready to do it. So... Keep up with Facebook and this here bloggy-blog, as I'm sure I'll rant and rave about it! (Whenever I actually start it, that is.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

1st Annual CT Veg Fest

To say last Friday through Sunday were "busy" would be an understatement, but I truly enjoyed my entire time with the 1st Annual Connecticut Veg Fest. Since I was volunteering at the event, I didn't catch every speaker or visit every booth or snap many pictures, but I do have some highlights to share.


* I was primarily running the CT Veg Fest Facebook page over the weekend, and the buzz and excitement was so much fun to track! New 'likes' rolling in by the minute, tags and shares, it was great to watch the anticipation mount.

* I met some really great people who were also volunteering. It was fun to chat with vegan people from the area. Some were very interested in what the Tampa scene is like, and I was happy to write down resources and tips for anyone who asked. Community is huge to me (in so many ways) and I feel so blessed to have found such an amazing one here in Tampa.

* Entrance to the two-day festival was free with the donation of a vegan, healthy food donation for area food banks and chapters of Food Not Bombs. People were SO generous! This picture is just from the first day.

* I was able to sit in on a talk from Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan from Our Hen House. I love their site and podcasts and I was really excited to meet them afterward. Even though I've been veg/vegan for a long time (feels like my entire life, at this point), I love hearing the perspective and stories of other vegans. Everyone's journey is different. I hope I can catch the OHH gals again.

* I met the sassy Chef AJ over the weekend. I unfortunately was only able to catch part of her Sunday morning food demo, but what I did catch resonated with me because I truly feel that I have a sugar/chocolate addiction. On Saturday, AJ told me she really loved my hair and asked if I would bring my hair wax in on Sunday. Sunday afternoon, I styled her hair. She gave me a signed copy of her book, Unprocessed, and wrote a lovely message inside of it. Chef AJ is a hoot and I truly hope to cross paths with her again soon! I can't wait to dive into her book.

* I was amused to meet TWO other Florida vegans in Hartford for the festival! One is a well-known gal that I met at Tampa Bay Veg Fest last October, author Ellen Jaffe Jones.
Unfortunately, I missed Ellen's talk AND demo on Sunday, but it's okay -- I already know she's fabulous!

The other is a woman named Joy who runs Earth Balance Bag, making "tree-free bags from stone."
Seriously cute stuff. She even enlisted Ringing art school alumni to design some of the bags! Earth-friendly AND local!

* There were two classic cases of snooze & lose for yours truly. Saturday morning, another volunteer and I made the rounds to quickly check out the vendors while we had time. I foolishly thought that I could go back later (even a day later) and still find certain things. Tsk, tsk. The first case of this is with Taza chocolate.
So yeah, what I was saying earlier about chocolate... Maybe it's for the best that I didn't end up buying anything from Taza! But let me tell ya, the salted almond and vanilla bean damn near killed me with deliciousness.

The second case of Snooze & Lose happened at the Compassion Company t-shirt table. I think I first heard of them while helping with CT Veg Fest earlier in the year, saw their website, thought they had cool stuff, and looked forward to seeing them at the festival. By the time I came around again on Sunday, they were out of my size. Good thing I can order online! Seriously, how stinkin' cute are these shirts?!


* Vegucated was hosting screenings on both Saturday and Sunday. It drew big crowds and a lot of people were talking about it afterward and on Facebook.

* These gals from The Fanciful Fox and I became fast friends. Their products filled the entire hall with the most amazing, comforting smells. It was like aromatherapy.
Looking forward to seeing them at Summerfest!

* Heaps more great vegan peeps were at the festival, but I couldn't catch 'em all. There were bumps in the road, though, but we all learned from it. All I can say for sure is that everyone who attended the fest LOVED it and they are very excited for next year, which I anticipate to be even bigger and better.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

When all else fails, find a Thai restaurant

Thursday evening, finally touched down in Connecticut, Ani with the CT Veg Fest picked me up from the airport. We were both starving, but neither of us were terribly familiar with vegan-friendly restaurants in Hartford. We bounced a couple of ideas back and forth, until I said, "Do you like Thai food?"

"I LOVE Thai food!"

"Let's get Thai then." A quick Google search and we were on our way.

Folks, you can ALWAYS count on Thai food. If you can't agree on where to eat with someone, or Happy Cow isn't yielding many (or any) results, or you're in an unfamiliar area, look up a Thai restaurant. This has served me well in Des Moines, Iowa, and Middle-of-Nowhere, Idaho, and everywhere in between. Just make sure the vegetarian dishes don't contain fish sauce and you should be golden.

The man with the convention center called while we were in the car and he highly recommended a place to us - Tamarind Grill - and gave us turn by turn directions. I've seen a lot of pretentious-looking eateries in the Hartford area before and I wondered if this place would be similar, all fancy-pants and overpriced. I ended up being pleasantly surprised.


We started with edamame and a pot of High Mountain Green Tea. $3.50 for a pot, plus refills, is a darn good deal.

Normally when I'm at a Thai restaurant, I have a hard time straying from Panang curry or some kind of peanut sauce, but I went with the Mango Tofu this time. Something about reading "famous mango sauce," made me think I should try it. I'm so glad I did.
This was great! I can see why the mango sauce is "famous." I was particularly taken by the tofu, though. They were like tofu fries: long pieces of tofu, fried until perfectly crispy.

Ani ordered the Phatt Ruom Mitt, which is sauteed vegetables with tofu in a brown garlic sauce.
Great mix of vegetables in a savory (with a touch of sweet) garlic sauce.

$10 a plate for generous portions is nothing to share a stick at, either. (Is that how the saying goes?)

Ani and I had lots of festival things to talk about over dinner. I was very excited about the weekend!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dashing Through Detroit

Thursday was a long day of travel to Connecticut.

For starters, I woke up at the last minute. Thankfully, the majority of my packing had been finished the night before (or, technically, very early that morning, which resulted in very little sleep). I was very disciplined and didn't DARE open my laptop to check email or Facebook. I just plowed through an accelerated version of my morning routine, crammed my stuff into the car, and left for the airport right on time.

Within 30 seconds of driving, I thought, Oh crap. Rush hour.

Rush hour doesn't really exist in my world as I'm never on the interstate or on busy roads during that time of morning. But indeed, rush hour is a thing, and I was about to hit it.

Thankfully, the traffic lessened once I got to the feared interstate. It wasn't as speedy as I would have liked, but I made it the airport right on time. I was feeling good, riding on this wave of just-barely-making-it.

Parked the car. Hopped on the shuttle. Zippin' along on the tram. And then I felt like I walked into a brick wall: As I stepped off the tram, I found myself staring at a security line that looked like a thousand people deep. I looked at my phone; my flight was scheduled to leave in 30 minutes.

Totally. Screwed.

I felt a little anxious for a few minutes, but I'm pretty zen about derailments in the day like this, so once I realized how slowly the line was moving, I just breathed and accepted that I would be missing my flight, for the first time ever. I was moderately concerned that I would get charged something to rebook, but again, I wasn't going to worry about it until I made it through security.

I was somewhere between half-way and two-thirds of the way through the line when Delta agents came looking for me and several other people who had checked in for the flight, but hadn't boarded. With only two security lanes open for all of these people and the Delta agents wielding no leverage, we couldn't get through the line any quicker. By the time I got to the gate, I was exactly five minutes too late. I was rebooked for another flight, departing in two hours, with a connection in Detroit instead of Atlanta, bringing me to Bradley a little over two hours later than scheduled. I was very thankful for TIA's free wifi, as it allowed me to get some work done during that two-hour wait.

Then came all the pain and annoyance of hauling an uncomfortable and painfully heavy carry-on bag all over the place and stinky people on the flight. Before I boarded to Detroit, one of the handles on my carry-on bag tore clean off. By the time I got to Detroit, I was dragging the monstrosity on the floor by the shoulder strap, it hurt too much to sling it over my shoulder.

So there I was, dragging that beast behind me through the airport, feeling ultra groggy and a little annoyed about the distance between gates, when I came upon a lovely fountain. The way the water shot out made it look like thin glass tubes flying through the air.

I stood and watched it for a few minutes. I took one lousy picture and thought about trying to take another when I looked over and saw this.




A color-changing light show within a walkway, set to ambient music.





Needless to say, this kept me good and occupied for probably 15 minutes. It took people-watching to an all-new, colorful level and amusing level. It was the highlight of the day's journey!

More to come!