Where I Slept in 2017

Where I Slept in 2017

I wasn’t going to write this post. 2017 was without doubt and without competition the most difficult year of my life to-date. Looking back at it is not something that’s really fun to do.

But the thing is, the Universe doles out dark and light in equal measure. There were some big, bright joyful moments in there, too.

And the other thing is, all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a little girl is write and travel. And I haven’t been able to do either of those things too well lately. But they aren’t completely out of the question. So in this post, I can write about the travels I did get to take on in 2017 and work on convincing myself that I’ll leave the borders of Allegheny county a few times in 2018.

So I’m starting this on a dark but snowy January afternoon in 2018. We’ll see how long it takes me to write and hit publish on this. It will be surprising if much gets written today because my wrists and fingers are stiff from the cold. But I’ll make some hot chocolate to warm up now and see how it goes.

Hot chocolate in hand…let’s begin.

January

1-25: Pittsburgh, PA

The year began well enough. On the first day, a friend and I went to the winter light show at Phipps. Here are some nice, calming photos of the display.

The bright, peaceful first day of the year gave me a sense of security that 2017 was going to be one of the good years. Despite the impending inauguration of our current President (I just can’t type the name), it felt like things were going to go well.

Could not have been more wrong. Despite the first of the numerous family emergencies (Dad’s hospital stay), Kevin and I maintained quite a bit of optimism for the year ahead. I headed off to New York thinking that there were many changes on the horizon, but all for the better.

26-27: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York – Times Square South, New York, NY

We had fun with Janeen. The rest of the trip is going on the list of “things we really don’t want to talk about unless absolutely necessary.”

Favorite part of my trip to NYC: the igloos at 230 Fifth.

28: Overnight bus from NYC to Pittsburgh

This was a long, unplanned bus ride in reaction to family emergency number two. A huge, huge loss on Kevin’s side of our family.

29-30: Pittsburgh, PA

31: Troy, OH

February

1-3: Troy, OH

Dogs are the best when things are rough.

5-9: Pittsburgh, PA

I caught the flu or something like it.

10-11: Cambria Hotel & Suites, White Plains, NY

Family emergency number three.

For sure ate my feelings and drank an obscene amount of coffee.

12: Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Clarion, PA

Got caught in a blizzard on the way home from previous emergency.

13-23: Pittsburgh, PA

Kevin and I treated ourselves to all the things: puppy snuggles, a night out at a Harry Potter themed pop-up bar, the best bibimbap in Pittsburgh, and walks in the park.

24-25: Victorian Loft B&B, Clearfield, PA

We took a weekend trip to the coziest B&B; it felt like going to your Grandma’s house in the ’90s. There were homemade cookies for us when we arrived and a full breakfast every morning even though we were the only two guests all weekend. We watched Dennis the Menace on VHS. We left the Victorian Loft B&B for wine tasting and afternoon tea. It was all very chill for the first time all year.

26-28: Pittsburgh, PA

March

1-23: Pittsburgh, PA

I got a sinus infection so severe it required a CT of my head, two rounds of antibiotics, and steroids. In hindsight, this is probably what triggered my chronic vestibular migraine (but more on that later).

But I did manage to haul myself out for date night at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for their Beauty and the Beast themed evening.

And I started marathon training later in the month.

24-25: Cleveland, OH

Helped a friend move. Got “paid” in pizza and beer. The fact that there’s a Hofbrauhaus a short Uber ride from her new digs is awesome (and a little dangerous).

26-30: Pittsburgh, PA

31: Overnight bus from Pittsburgh to NYC

April

1: Mineola, NY

I got to see my family FOR FUN for the first time all year. My brother, sister-in-law, and I went to a beer festival one day and the following day did a DIY food tour in NYC.

And I creeped on their selfies.

2-4: White Plains, NY

Chilled with my parents and baked the best batch of Fudge Nuggets I’ve ever made by myself. Binge watched the Great British Baking Show. Went out for coffee.

5-13: Pittsburgh, PA

I kept training for the marathon…

14-15: Troy, OH

We saw Kevin’s family for fun for the first time all year. And our friends out there hosted a pre-Easter barbecue which was a blast.

16: Pittsburgh, PA

17: Overnight train from Pittsburgh to Chicago

Kicked off my solo trip for the year on the overnight train. I loved watching the sunrise as we chugged through Indiana.

18-25: Airbnb, Milwaukee, WI

I stayed in an awesome and very cheap Airbnb for WITS Milwaukee. It was cheap because my space was just a futon in the living room. But for a time when I mostly wanted a place to just come crash at night it was perfect. My hosts were really sweet and considerate, they made coffee for me in the morning if we were on the same schedule and weren’t home much either.

The Women in Travel Summit was amazing and I highly recommend it to all women who love travel and working in the travel industry. I really got to know a new side of Milwaukee and hangout with my blogger friends.

Me and the Bronze Fonz.
The street car in Kenosha, WI.
Just ordered a Bloody Mary…

26: Overnight train from Chicago to Pittsburgh

27-30: Pittsburgh, PA

The sinus infection threatened to return but I rested just enough to keep it at bay and went on marathon training.

May

1-15: Pittsburgh, PA

Ryan and Beth arrived for the Pittsburgh Marathon and we all dealt with our race anxiety in different ways.

I obsessed over race day nutrition.

Ultimately I ended my race shortly after mile 19. I was underprepared and my body was, frankly, a disaster, I was just choosing to ignore it.

Ryan, on the other hand, CRUSHED 26.2. Way to go bro! I am so proud of Ry!! He trained so hard. Wear that medal with pride.

We all loved the coffee, prosecco, and potato chips Kevin had waiting for us when we got home. We spent the rest of the day watching American Gladiator.

After Ry and Beth went home, I rested up hardcore for my first trip to the Caribbean!

16-18: Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Villas, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Kevin and I won a trip to St. Thomas at the end of 2016. By the time the trip date finally arrived, we needed the vacation so badly. Neither of us had ever been to the Caribbean before and we loved it. Our first true beach vacation together was a smash hit and we will be planning many more of them.

19: Pittsburgh, PA

We got home from St. Thomas after midnight and crashed hard in our own bed.

20: Youngstown, OH

Our friends Scott and Donnie got married! Congrats guys!

21-31: Pittsburgh, PA

A long stretch at home was more than welcome. All the visitors and traveling was so much fun, but by this time I was really starting to become aware that my symptoms of vertigo, body aches, fatigue, and brain fog were more than just stress and worry. Not something that would go away once I finally started to relax. I knew it because I had finally relaxed and I wasn’t better, in fact I was getting worse.

June

1-16: Pittsburgh, PA

Beth came to visit and we went to Three Rivers Arts Fest just to see the umbrellas.

Then Raquele, who I went to college with and hadn’t seen in years, stopped by while moving halfway across the country. We went to Mount Washington, Primanti Brothers, and the zoo.

17-22: White Plains, NY

Back in NY again for two family members in the hospital. One planned stay and one unplanned stay. I got to spend lots of quality time with my Dad and we managed to laugh quite a bit in between worrying and cursing Crohn’s disease.

Still feeling sick, I thought I was managing to hide my symptoms fairly well until the day after my Mom’s surgery when she asked if I wanted to take a nap in her hospital bed while I was visiting…best laid plans.

When I headed for home a few days later, there was no denying something was wrong. I vividly remember taking a deep breath to let out the stress of the past months and immediately feeling dizzy with intense heart palpitations. It was the worst bout of it to date at that point. As is so common in my life, when I finally relax, my body goes haywire because I pushed it too hard, too far.

23-30: Pittsburgh, PA

Kevin wanted nothing more than to cheer me up when I got back and he took me cherry picking. It was wonderful. Other than that outing though, I pretty much just rested in preparation for our vacation/Kevin’s birthday present.

July

1-5: KOA, Hershey, PA

I knew I’d married the right man when he told me that for his 31st birthday he wanted to go camping and ride roller coasters. We had an absolute blast in Hershey, PA. The KOA was really nice and perfect for our first camping trip in years (we forgot a lot of things that we could get at the camp store). Our friends Cathy and Travis visited one day so we enjoyed some local beers, swimming, and a campfire. We spent two days at Hershey Park, one for roller coasters and one for water slides. And then on Kevin’s birthday we went hiking, saw Wonder Woman, and spent many hours by the campfire.

Baking a birthday apple cobbler.

6-13: Pittsburgh, PA

I crashed hard after our trip, so we just had some low key summer days. I finally saw the light and quit exercising. Yes, exercise is good for you, but it’s also a stress on the body and there are times when we need rest.

14-15: Midland, MI

Kevin’s aunt celebrated her Platinum Jubliee, 70 years with the Sisters of Mercy. There was a big celebration on the lake with more of Kevin’s family members than even he knew. And we got to spend lots of time with Kevin’s grandparents. I also finally figured out that Kevin’s love of ham and pineapple pizza is a family thing, his grandparents love to order it.

16-31: Pittsburgh, PA

When we got home, I cut my work hours back even further than I already had and started making doctors’ appointments. The dizziness/vertigo, heart palpitations, fatigue, and brain fog were not getting any better. In fact, the dizziness was significantly worse. Gimli kept me company while I re-read the Harry Potter series and tried to get my body back on track.

August

1-18: Pittsburgh, PA

I began seeing doctors and getting tests. Everyone was pretty much clueless so I just kept on reading and not working and trying not to worry. Going to my friend Kayla’s wedding was a good distraction during this time, too. It was a fun and beautiful ceremony.

19-23: Bailey’s Point Campground, KY

Kevin convinced me that we should still go on our second summer camping trip even though I felt like it was a terrible idea. He was right and the trip was amazing even though it was hard.

We drove out to Kentucky to see the total solar eclipse. We stuck around for most of the week to check out Mammoth Cave and drink some whiskey.

The eclipse was incredible. We’re already making plans for the next eclipse visible from North America in 2024.

We also learned it’s really hard to take a selfie while wearing eclipse glasses.

Mammoth Cave and the surrounding national park land were spectacular. We did one short tour of the cave, but we’d love to go back and do several more to see different areas.

24-25: Troy, OH

We split the drive home and spent a few days in Ohio. We got to meet our new nephew, Harrison, who is as sweet as they come.

We also spent much time with Bailey the beagle and visited the Air Force Museum with friends.

After a severe bout of dizziness on the highway that affected my eyesight, I decided it was time for me to stop driving.

26-31: Pittsburgh, PA

Medical tests and minimal work resumed. I finished Harry Potter and moved on to re-reading Lord of the Rings. Because of my persistent brain fog, it was difficult to read a book I hadn’t read before but easy to read books I knew well.

September

1-30: Pittsburgh, PA

More tests were completed, including an MRI of my brain, which finally cleared me of anything big and scary and life threatening. But it was still inconclusive.

I got an infection in my toe…likely because the nail was loose after my marathon attempt and the showers were a bit questionable on our second camping trip. The heavy antibiotic did nothing to help my symptoms or my bad mood and I was a completely miserable person for at least two solid weeks.

I got a diagnosis of vestibular migraine. Which is a particularly debilitating form of migraine, especially when chronic, as mine has become.

October

1-12: Pittsburgh, PA

With the knowledge of a diagnosis, I was both grieving and rallying a better mood for myself. I discovered TheraSpecs, which allowed me to slowly increase my work hours and made doing some of the other things I like to do easier, too.

13-14: Cleveland, OH

We headed out to Cleveland for Scott and Donnie’s annual Halloween party, which is always a total blowout. By some grace I actually had an awesome time and was only a little bummed that the next day I could barely move from dizziness and found the slightest noise infuriating.

15-31: Pittsburgh, PA

Back home, my toe infection came back. I had to have the nail removed. The set of four injections to numb the toe is in the top three most painful experiences of my life and the only time in my adult life that I’ve literally screamed in pain in the presence of relative strangers. I’m a slow healer and my foot was too swollen to wear shoes for almost two weeks. My bloody toe was it’s own Halloween decoration and it was kind of fun to spook the husband with it (though not worth the pain).

For Halloween in the ‘burgh, we went to a Rocky Horror Picture Show themed pop-up bar.

November

1-21: Pittsburgh, PA

I turned 31. I’ve never been less excited about my birthday in my entire life. I was feeling pretty hopeless about my condition and my future. My 20’s were really hard and when I turned 30 I was determined things were going to get better. But they got, um,…worse.

Luckily, my husband, parents, and brother know how much I love my birthday and forced me to celebrate a bit which I truly, TRULY enjoyed.

Parents sent presents including a beautiful jacket I never would have bought myself and called numerous times throughout the day to make sure I was chilling out. Brother sent me a present I’ll write more about in the December section. I took myself out for cappuccino and a donut. My college roommate called and insisted we have fun on the phone for an hour. And finally, Kevin took me to Piccolo Forno for some of the best pizza in Pittsburgh and a giant slice of Tiramisu.

22-25: Troy, OH

We had Thanksgiving with Kevin’s family. Our nephew Harrison was popular with all. At just a few months old he was already really excited about playing with a deck of cards, which is perfect because card games are a family favorite. We always play at the holidays.

We also saw friends and got to meet their second baby. Plus, we started Christmas shopping and had a little Christmas celebration with Kevin’s parents.

26-30: Pittsburgh, PA

The month finished strong and happy with my annual post-Thanksgiving pancake date with my friend Jess and her son Jon.

December

1-7: Pittsburgh, PA

Put up the Christmas decorations! Developed tinnitus as yet another vestibular symptom.

8-9: Mineola, NY

I celebrated Christmas with my brother and his wife. It felt like Christmas Eve when I arrived at his apartment Friday night. He’d cooked a ham and was working on peanut soup, green beans, and biscuits.

On Saturday, we had Christmas morning and it really did feel like Christmas morning! We had coffee and presents. Ry made biscuits with red-eye gravy. We watched Christmas with the Cranks and The Crown. We baked Christmas cookies. All keto food since Ry and Vanessa are doing keto and I was on the Ignite phase of the 131 method.

That night I got to watch them at their curling practice. The sport is louder than you might think! But so fun to watch up close with a cup of hot tea. It was also Ugly Christmas Sweater night and Ry picked out the BEST sweater for me. It has a cat on it and lights up.

10: Overnight bus from NYC to Pittsburgh

On Sunday we celebrated my birthday! My gift from Ry was tickets for the three of us to see Book of Mormon. It was spectacular! Then Ry treated us to Korean BBQ. Every time I listen to the Book of Mormon soundtrack I’m transported back to this awesome weekend.

One of Ry’s incredible omelets.

It was sad to say good-bye to them and get on the bus. But my vestibular symptoms were out of control by bus time so it was time to get home and rest.

11-21: Pittsburgh, PA

Work, doctors’ appointments, and fatigue were made bearable by memories of Christmas with my brother and anticipation of Christmas with my parents. The Huttons’ really go all in for Christmas celebrations!

Gimli enjoyed the snow.
Aayla opened her own Christmas present.

Over these 10 days, we questioned my diagnosis a bit, thinking maybe Meniere’s due to the tinnutis and hearing loss. But then the hearing loss was determined to be temporary and I started to have longer periods between vestibular episodes if I took Benadryl, so we went back to the vestibular migraine diagnosis, which we’ve stuck with since.

22: Overnight bus from Pittsburgh to NYC

I took Kevin on the overnight bus for the first time for his first trip to NYC and his first Christmas with the Huttons.

23-25: White Plains, NY

We arrived in NYC before 7am, perfect for showing Kev the sights without the crowds. We had breakfast at Al’s where we definitely saw Santa Claus (his tote bag even had the initials SC). Then we set out exploring despite the pouring rain.

We saw Times Square with the ball all set up for New Year’s Eve and then hurried our bags to a Bagbnb drop-off point. Next it was Blue Bottle Coffee, the store windows on Fifth Avenue, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. By the time we saw all that we were soaked through, but cheerful. We had mostly managed to avoid the crowds!

We had a cappuccino at Zibetto’s, regrouped, and hopped on the Subway. We hit The Strand Bookstore for awhile before lunch and beers at the oldest Irish pub in Manhattan.

Last up was the Bryant Park Christmas Market for a few minutes before heading to White Plains. All in all, an excellent first NYC day for Kevin.

I knew my parents were planning a nice Christmas for us, but they really went above and beyond to make it special.

All the favorite holiday foods were ready for us like red velvet cake, international coffee, great-grandmother Hutton’s rolls (made by Dad), country ham, breakfast casserole…

Kevin learned to make spritz and was a total natural at it.

(Luckily, I was on a week between phases for the 131 method – no more high fat low carb for awhile.)

Presents on Christmas morning were ridiculously fun. Kev had picked out a singing toilet paper holder that’s going to be a long-time family favorite.

26: Overnight bus from NYC to Pittsburgh

It’s safe to say leaving was hard.

27-31: Pittsburgh, PA

I was a bit depressed arriving home, but parents sent us home with leftovers so I soothed my soul with international coffee and watching The Family Stone. Siobhan and I went out for noodles. Then, I started planning a low-key but super fun New Year’s Eve.

I made pizza and hairy bread, plus bananas foster cookies. We had grapes for luck. And all the bubbles. Just two friends came over and we played board games until midnight. A lovely sendoff to a trying year.

 

Quick Stats

Total Nights Home: 297

Total Nights Traveling: 68

Favorite Places I Stayed:

Home

Friends’ and Family’s homes around the US

Victoria Loft B&B, Clearfield, PA

Overnight train from Pittsburgh to Chicago

Airbnb, Milwaukee, WI

Places I’d Sleep Again:

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York – Times Square South, New York, NY

Cambria Hotel & Suites, White Plains, NY

Overnight bus between Pittsburgh and NYC

Overnight train from Chicago to Pittsburgh

Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Villas, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Hilton Home2Suites, Youngstown, OH

KOA, Hershey, PA

Bailey’s Point Campground, KY

Places I Hope Never to Sleep Again:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Clarion, PA

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