Back Seat Driving On The Bourbon Trail

Drunken Fun in Kentucky

Friends of ours invited us to ride with them for a quick trip to Louisville, KY to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. They, like us, are a Black Lesbian couple and at no point during our wonderful weekend did this become anything of issue. We spent the whole day Saturday and a portion of the day on Sunday visiting distilleries along the trail. Each distillery offered a unique experience and were very enjoyable.

Here’s a recap of our trip:

June 10 12:30pm

Our first stop was the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. At the front desk we obtained our Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passports. The passport contains pages for the ten distilleries that are members of the trial. Evan Williams provided two options for tours, a one hour and a 30 minute tour.  We chose the 30 minute one so we could hit up as many distilleries as possible. After purchasing our tickets we were lead down some stairs and after one of the guys in our group was given the password we were allowed into the secret space.  We were transported back in time to a 1920’s speakeasy.  Our guide, who was dressed as a 1920s bartender was very enjoyable and knowledgeable. He offered healthy tasting pours and partook in the shots along with us. We left with a little buzz and a free glass.

1:45 pm

After a hot and sweaty trek up Main St. we headed to Angel’s Envy. Which had up to this point been my favorite choice for bourbon. Angel’s Envy just recently joined the Bourbon Trail in February and has an online only reservation policy. Unfortunately, they were completely sold out for Saturday and Sunday. We just got our passports stamped, took a few pics and trudged back to where we were parked.

IMG_5826

3:00 pm

We took the scenic 15 minute drive, directions supplied by GPS and arrived at Stitzel-Weller home to the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience.  Unfortunately, Bulleit only offers one hour tours and the small tasting portion was not a great reward for this hot, slightly boring tour. Bulleit should learn from the other distilleries and offer a shorter option to the visitors who are just trying to learn about the bourbon and not all the history about where the founder grew up and attended school. I did taste a bourbon that I really enjoyed and stood out because one of the people in our party remarked, “Mmm hmm!” after sipping it. After this tasting it was time for lunch. We tried out Seafood Lady and ordered the Full Combo- one crab claw, shrimp and some fries and hush puppies. Meh…

6:00pm

What a fun place Jim Beam is! It’s very modern and located on the very touristy 4th St. We decided not to do the tasting but instead just sat down for cocktails. One of us ordered a ginger ale slushie and two of us ordered Kentucky Mules. We got two drinks on the house and chose a double shot of  Knobs Creek Single Barrel Reserve and I think they got the Jim Beam Black Label.

June 11 2:00 pm

Day two and we’re ready for more tasting! This leg of the journey lead us to Lawrenceburg, KY to Four Roses Bourbon distillery. The drive in was beautiful and looked like “real” Kentucky, with farm houses and greenery all around. The tasting was given in a gazebo and the weather was wonderful to sit out and sip. The portions of the sips were small, but it was enough to prompt us to buy our first bottle. Apparently the reason I had never heard of Four Roses was because until not very long ago it was cheap wino status whiskey. The new owners came in and rebranded it and now it’s reaching it’s “Before Bond” status. Every distillery we visited up to this point told the story that James Bond with his  vodka martini-sipping self single-handedly ruined the bourbon industry. We got a free glass at the end of this tour. Now we can sip our Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon in Four Roses glasses.

 

Off the beaten (bourbon) path… 

3:00pm

We traveled to Frankfort, KY for the Buffalo Trace Distillery experience, since around 2010 they are no longer a part of the official trail. The best part of their tasting? Absolutely free! We tasted some vodka, something that was like moonshine that made me shudder and a very smooth bourbon called Eagle Rare. We tried the Buffalo Trace Cream Liqueur and mixed it with root beer. It was yummy but that itty bitty tasting cup would probably be all I could stomach of that.

This was the end of our tour. Many of the distillery tours end around 4pm. On the way back home we stopped back by Evan Williams so our friends could purchase a bottle of McKenna Bourbon. We also visited the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and got a few gifts for our people.

There was so much we couldn’t do here due to such a limited time frame (none of us had to take any time off work for this trip). Louisville is a great options for a short getaway for people living in Chicago, Indiana and Ohio.  Or people that enjoy learning about the history of bourbon or just want to drink a bunch of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Myrtle in May

Our First Hurrah in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

What can I say about Myrtle Beach? A retired person’s paradise? A biker’s dream weekend? What I’m hinting to is we are neither of those but we still had a good time. The condo we stayed in was cute. We were only on the first floor but the view of the pools and the ocean was just what I needed to get out of my “Chicago state of mind”.

We immediately put on our swim gear and headed to the beach. She wanted to get in the lazy river in the pool area but I was ready for the salty water of the ocean. Besides, when we did finally get in the lazy river was EXTRA lazy and we did all of the work with feet and hands to move through the winding course of it. BORING!

The ocean on the other hand was fun, fun, fun! Well maybe I’m exaggerating but I liked it. I even saw a shark! So exciting! Later that night we snuck back down and skinny dipped for like 10.5 seconds each.

We ate a good dinner at the Noizy Oyster. We each had Manhattan Martinis and shared a steam pot that had crawfish, shrimp, crab legs, potatoes and corn. It was tasty and I was thankful for the leftovers later. The star of the meal was the hushpuppies and the honey butter. Yum!

The one thing I can say is that Myrtle Beach needs to get their coffee game up. Too watered down, every time we tried. Besides the coffee, everything else was good enough. She ate some $0.60 wings on the Boardwalk which seemed to be good (I don’t eat chicken) then we people watched until we felt some raindrops. The wind was also on vacation with us. The night before we left it was windy and stormy and lead to some great sleep!

The highlight of the trip for me was driving the jet skis. We took a Uber to Myrtle Beach Watersports which sat at a marina surrounded by big boats and huge homes. The water at the marina looked like coffee (hmmm….) and was really calm. Perfect for a beginner like me. I rode on the back for a little over half the ride, then I was ready to give it a try. WHEW WEE! It was so much fun! The faster I went the more fun it was. I am ready to ride in the waves of the ocean now… I think.

Here are a few more pics from our trip:

 

Next trip: Kentucky Bourbon Tour… How will this play out for two, Black lesbian couples?? We shall see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is In The Chilly Air

March came…and went…

I didn’t write a post for March but that was because I didn’t have much to share. We have been trip planning and we did take a family trip to the Dells but because there was SO much water I didn’t take pics because I left the phone at the villa.

Family time is so important to me. I really wanted to take a longer road trip to Washington, DC to the Natural Museum of African American History BUT the time and money it would take to get there just did not work for us.

We had a ball in the water though! We went on water slides and in wave pools and chilled out on the lazy river (except when we made neverending laps around the river in a  river against my son who can never take an L gracefully).

Another exciting thing happened this month! We went to a very lovely wedding. And we had a BALL! And we were crute! Listening to their vows and seeing how elated they were made me excited for our big day (which is just a little twinkle dust in our minds at this point). I have been writing a few lines here and there for my vows since I knew I wanted to marry her. But their vows made me want to dig deeper. Their words to each other and in front of all those people (yikes!) were so moving. The emotional exposure and vulnerability their vows contained sent me back to my notes. I’m quite guarded with my feelings but hell, if I’m going to do it, I may as well let the world know how I feel! Well actually we plan on having just a few close friends and family, but still.

Yay! The BEACH!

Up next? Our trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in May. It is STILL in the 50s here and the only reason I’m not losing it is because we have strings of 70° weather thrown in here and there. So I am really looking forward to sun, sand, and ocean. YES!

 

 

 

 

Finally Home!

Our First Trip to Africa!img_4880

In May 2016 we booked our flights and Airbnbs for South Africa. What an AMAZING time we had. We booked a flight with a long layover in Madrid, Spain and had an opportunity to explore there too.

While in Madrid we walked and walked around in a chilly ass circle before settling in to this really cool place called Mercado De Miguel, an indoor market place with tapas and spirits. It was so trying to get to the Sol stop because we don’t speak Spanish and the train was a little difficult to navigate. But I’m happy I was able to experience Madrid. Not sure I’d return (maybe in the summer…)

5 Plus 10 hours Later…

FINALLY! We landed in the amazing country of South Africa! First stop…Jo’burg!

The Airbnb loft was located in the Maboneng District. This was THE best area for our first trip. We lived like locals the time we spent there. Restaurants, lounges, art galleries, music and cool looking people helped us fit right in. A friend asked if we were able to be touchy feely in South Africa. According to her we’re the “PDA couple of the century.” I told her YES! In Johannesburg we saw SO many couples like us. And quite a few gay guys too.

In addition to all this greatness, the value of the Rand is much lower than the dollar so we ate and drank well for cheap. Our biggest expense were the ubers we took everywhere. The internet had me spooked about public transportation. Driving a rental was also out of the question because they drive on the other side of the car and the street. Even one of our uber drivers drove on the wrong side once and there was a van headed straight towards us.

Soweto was just was just as dope. I kind of felt like I was back in Chicago in Washington Park at one of the festivals. The LoCrate Market happens there every first Sunday. There was music, vendors and delicious food. We walked the street where Mandela lived and saw his house. The people there were chill and I’m glad we were there in time to check it out.

One night we kept hearing some music (Hip Hop) being blasted from a little ways off from the loft. We asked the security guard if he knew where it was coming from. He lead us down a dark street to a restaurant with a rooftop lounge. There was only a handful of people there but they were having a great time and the music was on point. We got a drink and danced until last call. Then we headed downstairs to this really nice wine bar. Surprisingly, we were the only people in there. The bartender was really nice and suggested some places for us to see before we left.

The Apartheid Museum visit was a must. When I taught 4th grade I always taught about Apartheid and its parallels to the Black Power/Civil Rights movement here in America. I learned so much and felt emotional at times. I’m glad we went.

I was sad to leave yet excited for the next part of our journey. Cape Town! We stayed right by the beach in Milnerton on Woodbridge Island with a beautiful view of palm trees and Table Mountain. We were literally steps away from the beach. Our first day there we were so eager to make it to the beach that we rushed out and then got pelted by the sand. It was their windy season but we didn’t care (for a while).

We took the bus which was kind of like a hybrid of a bus and a train and went to Long St for burgers. Long St reminded me a little of Bourbon St in New Orleans with its balconied buildings and people of all ages and shades kicking it in the various restaurants, bars and night clubs. It was a Wednesday evening but it was as live as a Saturday night.

The next day Wine Flies came and picked us up for a winery tour. This was one of my best experiences ever! The van arrived right before 9am and shuttled us to the first estate in Stellenbosch. The first stop was a tasting with chocolate pairings (heaven!) the last stop was with cheese pairings (almost as heavenly!). In between we met a few dogs, saw some cows, zebras and had a very intimate encounter with a weird carnivorous chicken. We were dropped off loaded and stocked with several bottles of tasty wine.

Our last night there I had to have the seafood I’d been craving the whole trip. The restaurant was near V&A Waterfront and the service topped the food. But I was satisfied and afterwards we walked to a small shop and sat outside and ate gelato before heading back to our Airbnb.

On our last day we had a while before our flight so we walked to their local hole in the wall for a meal. Then we shared one of our bottles of wine and hung out on the beach. Luckily we were near done before the teenaged lifeguard told us we’d be fined R750 if we were caught drinking by the police. My last moments in South Africa were spent watching children who were also enjoying this lovely place.

This trip had everything I live for: different and incredible scenery, great food and drinks and beautiful people.

img_4927

Our ad for South African soda

 

P.S. I got a ring!

 

 

 

 

 

Byyyyyyeee 2016!

My Birthday and Bringing in the New Year

My birthday celebrations continued and were actually a lot of fun. The 80s was the theme for the last part of the year. What I thought was an 80s style ugly sweater that I bought for an Ugly Sweater party that was cancelled, everyone else thought looked rad/fly/dope. So we decided to wear our ugly sweaters and meet up with friends on Christmas Eve at Lagunita’s Brewery for beer and bar food (yay! Loaded nachos!).

After the brewery we headed to Emporium  in Logan Square for some 80s style arcade fun. They were even playing the movie Gremlins on these huge screens (which came out in 1984) I was very tipsy but I was still beating ass at air hockey. We didn’t win at foosball but who cares! The night was complete after a trip to our favorite fried shrimp spot, Goose Island.

On December 25th at 1 something in the morning we went on a romantic walk on Michigan Ave. The weather and the company was just right. Happy Birthday to me!

Prince and George Michael Helped Bring in the New Year

We got all dressed up and had a wonderful dinner at Calo Ristorante  in Andersonville. Then we drove to Boystown for dancing and cocktails and a mini Burlesque performance before counting down to 2017! We had a really awesome year and I can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

 

Last year we created gratitude jars and each time we felt thankful we would write a little note of thanks. I believe concentrating on the good helps to keep your perspective on the positive and it outweighs the bad in your life. Here’s to looking on the bright side, growing with those you love and fighting for the things you care about.

 

 

MY BIRTHDAY IS COMING!!!!!

Yes I am always overly excited about my birthday…

I typically want to celebrate my birthday, if not the whole month of December, at least several days leading up to it. So far this year we have spent 3 awesome days and 2 glorious nights at Kishauwau Country Cabins in Tonica, IL near Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park to celebrate.

The first time we went to Kishauwau was a couple of years ago when we hadn’t been dating for too long. To our surprise we would do a lot of getting to know each other because there is absolutely no cable and no internet and no phone service. We had a great time and got a little more comfortable being in each other’s space. We spent time eating at a Cajun restaurant, wine tasting at a local winery, horseback riding and hiking. Here are some pics from our first trip:

This time we knew what to expect and looked forward to unwinding, unplugging, and having some quality alone time.  I didn’t want to make ANY plans outside of the cabin. Just her, me and some board games and some DVD’s. Because it was for my birthday she made a wonderful french toast with fresh berries and whipped cream breakfast and dinner was my fav! Crab legs and salmon!  I don’t have many pics because, well it was a pretty private affair,  but here’s what I did document:

Before we made it to the cabin we decided we’d be spontaneous and hopped off I-80W and checked out The Lone Buffalo  and Tangled Roots Brewery. We started with the beer flight and had shrimp and a huge plate of fries..um, I mean pub frittes.

It was a weekend I will never forget–simple and sweet.

 

 

Co-habitation Nation

Moving In and Other Fun Stuff

We had spoken about moving in around August but when August was approaching we both got cold feet (or something) and realized we weren’t ready. I decided to choose a date because moving in was something that we both knew we wanted and I was getting tired of the constant bag toting back and forth. So in September I suggested the move in date be December 1. She said ok but I later found out that she was still feeling a little apprehension. After all, we were both taking a risk–her having to decide to share her space and me having to decide to leave my space behind.

Fortunately we both became comfortable with the timeline and began looking forward to the adjustment of shared space. Starting in mid November I began bringing my things over and moving in and by December 1st  I was almost completely moved out. I can take my time moving some things out because my parents were my landlords. I have pretty much closed that door and slid right on in the new one. This house is a now a home for us both and it has been a really beautiful transition.

couple

Ladies Night @ B.L.U.E.S. Chicago

I have been craving live music and our plans for our date night never happened (we were supposed to go hiking at Swallow Cliff–we’ll make it one day), so we ended up at B.L.U.E.S. Which is a small hole-in-the-wall on north Halsted St. I was doubly excited because the night was dedicated to women. However, when we arrived we learned that the “women’s night” was really just an open mic that was hoping for random women to show up and bless the stage. One young woman showed up and sang two songs (one in Russian!) I’m not going to lie, I was hoping for the next CoCo Taylor or Etta James to belt out some blues, but it was cool. The musicians were great, I enjoyed listening to their songs about smoking weed, and I always have a great time when I’m with her. Not to mention the Goose Island fish and shrimp we ate on the late night. Good times…

 

 

Ohhh…October

Date Night and Other Fun Stuff

Our October date night, according to the cards (see Blog Post #3-12 Months of Date Nights…), we were supposed to go to a pumpkin patch. But far more romantic (for me, anyway) was for us to go back to the place where my feelings began to shift from a general interest in getting to know her to a hmm…I like this woman.

On one of our outings when we first started dating we had THE perfect date night. The only part of the date that was planned was to meet downtown at the Chicago International Film Festival. After that,everything else was spontaneous and so much fun! For October it was a very warm evening-I don’t think we even needed a jacket.

After the movie we walked to the restaurant, Wildfire. Then we decided to walk over to Andy’s Jazz Club for drinks. While sitting and chatting in that club something in me shifted. I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to be closer, physically. I wanted her to place her hand on my knee or something. Of course I was too shy to touch her, especially because I couldn’t read her. I couldn’t really tell if she liked me too.

img_4012

Posing on the red carpet

Two years later here we are, back at the Chicago Intl Film Fest. This time we didn’t skip through the city afterwards. We just went home. Not to say this year we less fun, it was just way more chill. Hopefully not a sign of us getting older.

sleeping-ladies

The After Party

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween-Chills and Thrills

For only the second time in my adult life I dressed up for Halloween. She has said that she likes dressing up and I decided not to be a killjoy and get into too. Having complementary costumes is a must for couples right? So I tried to figure out something we could wear that would not cause me too much anxiety. I don’t like makeup, wigs, etc.  After throwing out a few suggestions I came up with Arthur and Muffy. Very simple and super cute. We found a couple parties to step out to and was joined by my sis-as a very accurate representation of The Mad Hatter. Unfortunately, I can’t say our costumes were so on point. We had quite a few people wondering who we were supposed to be.

harry-potter

But some people knew right away. One woman was quite pleased to see our costumes because Arthur is one her favorite cartoons (mine too!). Dressing up is fun. I just might do it again.

 

img_4043

The Mad Hatter is up to something

Next month is the last month that was pre-planned. I’m not sure what’s on the card. Then next up is December- my bday!! I’m so excited! I can’t believe how fast 2016 is going. Stay tuned cuz it ain’t over yet…

Trés Bonne Journée

Our Trip to Montreal, Quebec

 

The challenge of trying to figure out the language, as well as the ease that the people shift from French to English when they realized we were tourists, was quite intriguing. Some people would begin speaking in English without a trace of an accent.

Our days there were so busy for most of the trip, but it rained one day so we got to slow down a bit and spent most of that day inside. However, after that we walked our butts off! Taking public transportation was great for a workout and an ease to use.

Most of our breakfasts were eaten at the apartment and one night I made a delicious meal (if I must say). I have to give props to the garlic butter we found at the market for making the fish and veggies taste amazing.

img_3433

 

The highlight of the trip was…She said YES! On August 26th we got engaged!

I proposed to her on top of Mont Royal and I was so nervous! I read her this thing about the symbolism of a mountain and then I read a conversation that I had with the little one about us getting her on board to be his second mom. Although she didn’t cry I was happy that she liked the ring and the moment was super special.

The weather was beautiful. We descended the mountain and ate our snacks then we rode the bus to one of the best places we dined at called Aux Vivres. It was vegan but even her meat-loving self devoured the tasty salad.  Another meal worth mentioning was the poutine which is famous there. We happened upon a place that lets you choose your own toppings. Bonne!

 

In honor of our second anniversary, she treated me to two concerts at home! So while on this trip I wanted to take her out for dinner and a surprise burlesque show. We ate southern food at a place called Dinette Triple Crown and the burlesque was at Wiggle Room. I called in advance to let them know we were celebrating our engagement but when she went to the bathroom, I realized they got the message too late. I snuck off and gave the producer our information and right after intermission she began calling people up to the stage to help them celebrate various occasions (i.e., bachelorettes and bachelors, birthdays, etc.).  After the last couple stepped on the stage the producer announced one more couple… “Talibra and Telisa!!” We were laughing so hard as we walked on stage. The producer made each of us drink a shot from her bosom. Telisa and I got to do it at the same time. That was the most fun part of the evening for me.

The food, the friendliness, the cleanliness….Montreal, QC will always be one of my favorite places to visit.

I’m SO delighted that she has decided that I’m the one she wants to keep sharing these journeys with!

img_3442

 

 

 

Hotter Than July

Ok our summer month dates haven’t gone as planned but we’ve still been able to get out and about and enjoy the city. We have been getting out of the neighborhood and heading north for things like going to the beach, walking along the lakefront and dancing and sweating at Market Days in Boystown.

Montrose beach was…ok. It was crowded and someone forgot my tuna in the fridge. But we snacked on fruit and chips and still had a good time.IMG_3191

 

The late night stroll along the River Walk by the Chicago River was short but so much fun. The little boy got his sorbet and we all got to see fireworks! The weather was amazing and there was so much to see. Even the doggie got to sniff out some new territory.

 

The bar at Lowcountry on north Clark street was the best! We came during happy hour and drank delicious half priced drinks and went to heaven eating crab legs, shrimp and jalapeno corn bread. YUM! IMG_3263

Even after a hike (I got over 10,00 steps!) I was still full of energy and wanted to keep dancing at Market Days on North Halsted street. IMG_3318

The countdown to our next vacation has begun! Soon we’ll get some alone time, rest and relaxation (and plenty of drinks and other naughty stuff) in Montreal, Quebec.

Nous serons sur notre voie bientôt ! (We’ll be on our way soon!)