Tour de USA

Tour de USA: From North to South

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The second my last deadline for guidebook number three this year rolled around on May 1, I was on an eastbound plane for NYC. In fact, in a two-week period, my big toe stepped foot in five states—California, New York, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida—and for once, not a bit of it was work-related. So it’s only fitting that this “vacation” was more stressful than the rest.

First up: Manhattan.

Somehow unbeknownst to me, 15 months since my move had slipped by effortlessly, and I hadn’t even been back to visit my homies. So I did just that, splitting time between my three favorites…the lovely Lemon…

We consumed approximately 17 cupcakes each during my five-day stay, both homemade as well as from THREE different cupcakeries. That’s cupcake dedication for you, y’all.

My gay bestie/Lucky coworker. Glad to know some things never change; he wore this Tetris-like hoodie nearly every day when I still lived here.

Lindy, my Britney-obsessed former roomie and soulmate in our love for Taylor Kitsch. Um, perhaps not the most flattering picture of us, so how about this ‘NSync shot instead with the blanket she so kindly let me sleep on?

An avid TopShop enthusiast during my days in Europe, I just had to visit the new U.S. outpost in SoHo. It looked like Zach Morris threw up on the place. How anyone can buy those clothes and not be attending an 80’s dance party is beyond me.

And there were also a bazillion and one coffee and drink dates with some other pals, a visit to my old Conde Nast stomping grounds (no Anna Wintour sighting this time around), a movie screening of The Hangover (hilarious). The constant running around was hindered by the monsoon that lasted from when I touched down until I left again, making me look like a waterlogged sewer rat. Lest I forget, I finally got to meet the hilariously adorable Metalia for Prohibition Punch in Grand Central Station’s speakeasy Campbell Apartment.

(It’s the Tales of Peahead and Monster Noggin! Yes, I have an abnormally large head, and yes, Metalia’s is just as petite as the rest of her. I look like I might just eat her for a bedtime snack in this photo.)

After I managed to hit up some of my favorite spots—Jane on Houston, Stanton Social, Sarabeth’s, Eatery—shopped to my little heart’s content (no sales tax=cheaper shopping than SF or TN, for that matter), partook in one raucous game night and logged some quality friend time, it was off to JFK to catch a flight…

Next stop: Tennessee!

I dropped into my hometown of Tullahoma for 30 hours to play with these guys…

…and hang out with him…

…before driving the seven-hour road trip from Hell (crammed in the backseat with Kari and Granddaddy just like we were five years old again) to see cousin Andrew graduate med school. My only complaint, of course, was that the two-hour hooding ceremony didn’t go on longer.

Twenty-four hours in Mobile was more than enough for me. Of course, it was just long enough for mom to drag us moaning and groaning to the USS Alabama for a bit of “culture” (does anyone else find it ironic that I live in San Fran yet had to go all the way to BFE Alabama for said “culture?”).

(That’s mock excitement, lest you think Kari and I really cared about seeing some old ship. History buffs we are not.)

Next stop: The Beach!

As a child, we spent every vacation and summer in Orlando or the Florida Panhandle, but it had been four years since I’d stepped foot on Destin’s silky white turf. There were 14 of us crammed in three condos…talk about quality family time.

As usual, this one stole the spotlight, as she is wont to do.

She’ll kill me for this when she’s older, but look at the adorable chub!

I had planned to stay pool or beachside from sun up till sun down, letting the stress of the past two months melt away with my sunscreen, but that plot was folied as I began getting semi-threatening e-mails from my publisher that I better tend to their book queries or else. I should add this is not Frommer’s but another company I wrote a book for in 2008 and, subsequently, turned in most of the text back then, too. They thought it cool to hold onto it all for eight months, then slam me with last-minute edits at a moment’s notice. So just like that, my vacation went from continual tanning time to six or eight hours a day spent indoors in front of the computer. Still, I somehow managed to read five books in just as many days and come away a nice chocolate color regardless.

It took me 20 hours to get back home from Florida to San Francisco on Thursday night/Friday morning. Need I point out this is six hours more than my trip back from New Zealand? Next vacation, I’m going somewhere closer, leaving my laptop at home, my phone turned off, staying put and not leaving the beach for the entire duration of my trip. That is the proper definition of a vacation after all, right?

  • May 20, 2009

    Oh man, you just made me tear up thinking of cupcakes and Jane. It’s been exactly a year now since I’ve been back to Manhattan. I think it’s time I returned too…

    Sorry your vacay was interrupted by work, but at least you got to spend some quality time with the fam. 🙂

  • May 20, 2009

    That underwater shot is THE BEST.

    I need to get me an underwater camera. STAT.

  • May 20, 2009

    At least you got tan.:) I love that family photo. Gorgeous!

  • May 20, 2009

    I often think it’s funny that we’ve only met now being that we have been living PARALLEL LIVES. Basically every place you listed in NYC is an ex-haunt of mine, even the Campbell Apartment! And most especially Eatery.

    ALSO, wait for it, wait for it, I spent the night on the USS Alabama with my girl scout troop. We thought it was amazing but then, we were eight. And I hadn’t been to NYC yet.

  • May 20, 2009

    Underwater chub! NOM NOM NOM!

  • May 20, 2009

    ohhh, i so need a tropical vacay. so jealous, even if it was interupted by work!

  • May 20, 2009

    ohhh, i so need a tropical vacay. so jealous, even if it was interupted by work!

  • May 20, 2009

    UM! i actually think the first pic of me is better than the second!
    and your family = the most photogenic people ever! love love.

  • May 20, 2009

    My favorite part of the video is the guy who is wearing no clothes, but still has his CHEST HEART monitor strap on by cracky! Good luck explaining that tan line.

  • May 20, 2009

    Three cheers for family vacation!!! At least we weren’t all crammed into one hotel room, as I think happened on the way to Colorado or something like that. Bullet in my face.

    And you got to enjoy some damn fine cuisine and seafood in Florida, which is always the highlight for me.

  • May 20, 2009

    You are so cute it slays me!!

  • May 20, 2009

    What a good semi-workless vacation.

  • May 21, 2009

    Just go to Santa Cruz or something next time. But gosh, I have no idea how you do it. I just did a four hour round trip drive yesterday here in New England and I’m bushed.

  • May 21, 2009

    It was a whirl wind tour, yet how delightful to spend time with family, friends, and old haunts.

  • May 21, 2009

    The underwater shot is AWESOME! She may kill you, but the chub is adorable!!! SQUEAL! =)

  • May 21, 2009

    That underwater shot is so sweet. Oh and P.S. I totally still have my NSYNC blanket…ahhh teenage memories

  • May 22, 2009


    That sucks about the work stuff, but it sounds like you did have a good time!

  • May 26, 2009

    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the words “culture” and “Alabama” used together except to say that Alabama is lacking culture.

    What kind of camera did you use underwater? Just a regular disposable one?

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