Monday, April 20, 2015

Snacks? Check

Every good road trip has snacks.  Not just snacks though but snacks you enjoy and snacks a plenty.

When I was a kid this concept did not exist and neither did stopping at Burger King or McDonalds or any other popular fast food restaurant.  My parent's ideas of snacks was sandwiches made at home that were not anywhere near our favorite.  Example Liverwurst (the poor man's pate), egg salad, tuna fish.  Today I actually enjoy any of these options but as a kid THEY WERE THE WORST!!!!!

So I asked the kids to make a list of snacks and beverages they enjoy so that we could ensure they have what they need for the almost 2000 round trip excursion we would be taking.  

I pretty much got all their food stuff on these lists and then when we picked up Isabel she also had 3 bags of food.

So if you see us on the road and need a snack.  We got you

Friday, April 17, 2015

Road Trip 2015

When I  was much younger my dad used to take us on road trips some of them planned, most of them not.  Like the time we were going to visit our family in Boston and we ended up in Maine.  Of course this was well before the days of cell phones, gps and stopping to ask for directions were the norm.  Yeah my dad NEVER stopped and asked for directions.  That is how that one hour trip to Boston turned into a 6 hour trip to Maine.  

While in my childhood I never really appreciated those trips, the times he would tell us to get in the car we were going to go for a ride and then we would end up in Western Massachusetts or Connecticut.  It wasn't until I was much older that I truly realized those long days (sometimes evenings) in the car driving planted in me a love for the road.  To experience sites you see from the window of a car, playing car games, falling asleep in one state waking up in another and then of course asking "Are we there yet?"

As an adult I have traveled, 5 years ago, the reason I started this blog was my around the world adventure.  Since then I have very infrequently had an entry to this blog, however I hope this entry and the seed that it plants will change that. 

Today I  will embark on a Spring Break Tour with my co worker her 9 year old son.  My nieces; Jasmine 13 and Maya 12.  Nephews Omani 10 and Alex 8. Its an old fashioned "Road Trip"  We are loading up the mini van (read "a decked out Honda Odyssey") and hitting the road.  

The purpose of our road trip is an educational trip visiting many of the sites where Martin Luther King Jr. made a great impact and changed the course of civil rights in this country.  It was Jasmine's interest in Civil Rights heroes that planted the seed which gave birth to this idea of doing a trip.  Our MLK Tour will start in Atlanta at his homestead and we will visit Ebenezer Baptist Church as well as the King Center. Our plan is to continue on to Alabama and visit the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery as well as the Pettus Bridge in Selma, our tour will then take us on to Memphis, TN and the Lorraine Motel and the adjoining Civil Rights museum. We then will head to Washington DC and visit the MLK Monument and tour other grand monuments and sights in Washington DC ending our visit with a tour of the Capitol Building as guests of Congressman Langevin. We hope the Congressman will be able to meet with us. 

We hope you follow our journey, I will be posting here, on FB and on my twitter @awbarraza
Looking forward to seeing as many of you as we can along the way. (Read: help me maintain my sanity)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The party starts at 10:23 pm

First and foremost let me say that while I can appreciate the athleticism of Michael Jordan and recognize that he is the best that ever played the game of basketball I was not ever a "Jordan fan"  Hate me if you want.  But the Jordan fan in my family is my baby brother Angel, my standom was reserved for Magic Johnson.  I was once a great fan of the NBA and enjoyed watching it. Today, not so much.

Our story begins...

Crystal and I had talked about going to NBA All Star Weekend in Houston Feb 14-14, 2013.  As usual we arranged our accommodations and flights.  In exchange for cat sitting, our soror Marketa let us crash at her crib while she rolled out to a wedding in Louisiana.  (Thanks Keta, love you)

We arrived Thursday night, nothing big to report there.

Friday, we get up and decide to hit the Galleria in Houston.  Yes.  That Galleria, the one that was shut down on Saturday because too many folks had descended upon it.  Any how we valet park the car (cause we fancy), it actually turned out to be the smartest thing we did that morning.  Then proceed to spend the next 10 hours, YES 10 HOURS in the mall, doing God knows what.  I wont bore you with the details, but suffice to say we had a free dinner to end our day in the mall and were headed back to the apartment at 8pm to get ready to hit the scene.

I had no idea what or where we would be going, I had only been told that the party started at 10:23 pm ( What an odd time to start a party I thought out loud) and that we needed to be there as close to that time so as to ensure we got in.  So we primped and got ready and then we were off.  

We drive to one of the Hotels to pick up another soror, Terri, and then head to the "destination".  So we are a few minutes away from arriving and Crystal says to Terri "Ana doesn't know where she is going". 

 Terri:  Oh I have the address, just enter it into the GPS  
Crystal:   (with a laugh in her voice) "No, we got that.  Ana doesn't know to which event we are going to" 
me:  (interrupting) "Yeah, Crystal is probably taking me to a Q party".  
Terri:  Do you mind if I tell her?
Crystal:  Sure
Terri:  Well Ana, you know Michael Jordan is turning 50 years old on Sunday, we are headed to his 50th birthday party
Me:  So we are going to a Q party.  (Laughing)  WOW!
Crystal:  I didn't want to tell you in case at the last minute we couldn't go.

We park and walk to get in line

As we walk to the line I notice Erik Spoelstra, coach of the Miami Heat Walking in.  I smile to myself and think I wonder if Magic is here?

So we walk in to the party and immediately I am met with the image of Michael Jordan and a pictorial tribute to him

Each of the towers is topped with a picture encased in glass with  Jordan's milestones in it
Then we walk around the flying Jordan, up the stairs and small talk with some of Terri's former co workers and friends.  We start to make a loop around the place and run into Antoine Walker, some small talk there.  I can see Big Tigger from where I am standing, he waves, I wave back. Then we walk around some more.  Just then R Kelly takes the stage at the front of the room and proceeds to perform.  We stop to watch and Crystal points out that on the other side of the couch from where we were standing was Nas.  It was all I could do to not hurdle that couch and ask him to spit some lyrics.  I also had on 6 inch heels and was wearing a dress, so I don't thing the couch hurdling thing would have gone over well.  

Well we continued to walk through the party and then I saw him.  No, Not Magic.  I saw Michael Jordan.  He was about 25 feet away from me.  In his own VIP section at this already EXCLUSIVE party.  We continue to walk and Crystal stops to talk to some folks she knows, then Terri says "I'm going to go over and say hi to Michael"  So I walked behind Terri and had to shimmy past (think grind up on, ok so in my memory it was grinding but I slightly touched) Cam Newton to get into the area where Michael was.  

Michael greeted Terri with a great big hello and a hug and they chatted for a minute as I stood there.  Then Terri looks at me and says "Michael this is a girlfriend, Ana".  She introduced me to MJ, I talk fast, wish him a happy birthday, tell him how much of an MJ fan my brother Angel
 is and how we used to trick my mom into letting us stay up late to watch him and Magic and the NBA in general and then I say have a Happy Birthday, and he leans down and he hugs me.  During our hug I ask "will you take a picture with me?" he says "sure", I turn to Terri and in true publicist/PR/Marketing fashion she's all like"NO" so I turn and see the person waiting to talk to Michael and I say "Ndamukong hi!can you take this picture?" He obliged. So thank you Terri for the intro and thank you Ndamukong Su for taking the picture. 

after being introduced to the greatest to ever play the game of basketball
I thanked Michael for being so gracious and walked away.  For the next few seconds my hands were actually shaking.  I just met Michael Jordan, the man, the myth, the legend.  I immediately walked to where Crystal was standing and told her and then as she talked to me, I sent the picture to my baby brother Angel.  I knew he was going to loose his mind.

MJ talking to Kobe and holding court with Melo, LeBron and others
For the next hour or so I watched as the next generation of NBA players came to "kiss the ring".   I stood within 10 feet of Jordan talking to Carmelo, LeBron, and Kobe to name a few.  There were also former NBA players that came by to wish Jordan a Happy Birthday.  Guys who played with him, against him.  Those players that I enjoyed watching so many years ago.  But no, no Magic in sight.  There were also other athletes and entertainers in the mix.  All the while R Kelly sang live from a stage in the front of the room.  

This was only the beginning of All Star Weekend, however it was also the highlight of the weekend, I mean can you think of anything that could top this?

Click Here to view all the pictures I took that night.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Once upon a time I drove from Texas to RI and back

1728 miles or something like that is the distance from Dallas, TX to Providence, RI taking some detours along the way you can add a couple of hundred more miles to that.  In December of 2009 I left my place in Dallas and ventured to drive home and back.

I love to drive.  Really I do, I will drive anywhere at a moments notice.  I once drove my BFF home to New York City (from RI: 178 miles, about 3 hours) and caught the bus back, just to make sure she wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel.

When I was 8 years old my dad drove from RI to Guatemala and I totally loved this experience.  We stopped and ate lunch along side the Mississippi River and I remember driving past the Astrodome, then into the desert.  It was then that the bug caught me.  I love driving and being able to stop and just take in the sights at your leisure.  However, this trip was a little different, a.  I was driving alone My mother did not and doesn't know (so don't tell her) that I was driving alone. b. I was doing something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl, driving across country, I know Texas to RI isn't across the entire country, but its pretty damn close.

So I ventured out very excited on a Saturday morning and ran into the craziest traffic ever trying to get out of Dallas.  I was in traffic for like 2 hours.  UGH was this a preview to my trip.  Please I hope not.   So after battling for 2 hours I finally was on the road.  First stop the Texas, Louisiana state line.  But that wasn't after seeing the most curious signs ever not to mention the large road kill, and it wasn't just deer.  Some of these dead animals were coyotes or dogs and armadillos.

 The trip was pretty uneventful.  I drove past LSU and saw plenty of highway and more large road kill.  As I crossed the Louisiana state line I stopped to take a picture at the rest area.  Highlight of day 1 was watching the sun set as I crossed the Mississippi state line, just over the Mississippi River.  It was a nice way to end the day.  I had a few more hours to go crossing into Alabama and then Georgia as my dear friend TAnn was awaiting my arrival in Atlanta, where I would be spending the night.


Day 2 the road awaits, but first a quick breakfast to meet one of my twitter friends Donte.  TAnn and I met up with Donte and his children for breakfast in Atlanta just before the church rush came in.  It was such a nice time to meet new people and reminisce with an old friend.

I kept a watch out for the time since I needed to finish driving through Georgia, then into South Carolina, North Carolina where I would be meeting Davida my soon to be staff member and her mom.

To give them the keys to my apartment as they would be staying there while I was in RI. We met by the road side in Charlotte and I was quickly off as I needed to get to Owings Mills, MD where my host family waited for me. Traveled through Virginia, and into DC, then Maryland.  Finally arrived at Chez Ndzibah in Owings Mills, MD  where I overstayed my time.  My initial plan was to get on the road early so that I would have more time in New York, but that didn't quite work out that way.  I sat and talked with my friend Nicole and we chatted about life and then I realized I needed to go so off I was to continue my journey.  Next stop, New York City, so I traveled up familiar territory and was elated as I was familiar with all the markers letting me know how close I was to my next destination.  Delaware, New Jersey and the Jersey Turnpike, then the George Washington Bridge.  Oh what a familiar and friendly site.  As I crossed the bridge I looked to my right and could see the New York City Skyline.  All the lights of the buildings winking back at me as if to say "hey old friend we've missed you".  I continued my drive into Harlem to see my BFF CJ.  Tomorrow would be the last leg of the trip to RI.

 I stopped to take a picture of this sunset in New Jersey, it was just too beautiful.

After driving through east Texas I vowed that I would never again complain about driving through Connecticut, but once I hit the CT state line I remembered how much I hated it.  Maybe its because CT is the one thing between RI and NY and when I'm trying to get to NY or vice versa its the only thing that stands in my way.  Or maybe its the incessant construction that never seems to go away or end, but quite possibly it could be how I95 goes from being a Highway to a 2 lane road in most areas and just becomes mundane road to travel.  Then all of a sudden the most familiar sign of them all.  "Welcome to Rhode Island"  that beautiful blue sign in the median reminding me that my journey is about 35 minutes from being over.  In a flash I was pulling up in my mother's driveway, or actually my brother's driveway as I had done so many times before and beeping the horn to let them know I had arrived.  Ahhh to be home.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

another Super Bowl Weekend

For the third time in my life I am preparing to attend another Super Bowl weekend in a host city.  My first Super Bowl experience was XLIII (43) in Tampa Bay in 2009.  I have the good fortune that my best friend is somewhat well connected and got me a great "shadowing" experience with her.  I attended two of the major and exclusive events of that weekend one of which was the ESPN party.  Oh JOY!  no really it was a joyous event.  I had the distinct privilege of announcing celebrities on to the red carpet.  BTW this is what you don't see on any of the award shows.  When a celebrity approaches the red carpet, I would hold up a sign (piece of paper) with their name written on it and announce for the many photographers who this person or group of people were.  What made this all the more precious was that 9.5 times out of 10 I had no idea who these people were.  Some times the celebrity would approach the red carpet and I would have to ask them, "and your name?  and that is spelled?  Ok thank you."  other times it became a little more complex, like when I also had to ask "are you an athlete, actor?"  basically who the hell are you?  my bff got a great kick out of this.  But it was one of the reasons that it made me good for this job, I treated them all with the same level of anonymity. Our motto for the weekend became, "this is all lost on me"  I was meeting folks, yes actually introduced to people that were a pretty big deal, and would shake their hands, nod and smile and carry on, some of these folks were sports industry executives, former professional athletes, and current athletes.

The funniest story of the weekend actually occurred at a party they night I first arrived to Tampa.  We entered into this club at the exact same time that TO and his entourage arrived.  I was introduced to his assistant or body guard as we walked in.  As we arrived we met up with a friend and she was standing with a group of people chatting and laughing, I was introduced to them all.  One of the guys shook my hand and remarked, "my your hand is so soft", I replied, "well I use lotion".  Well CJ immediately commented to him, "uh uh, you aint getting into it with her, she will give back as good as you"  They mentioned his name and we just carried on, he offered everyone a round of drinks and I think we obliged.  And we were off.  A few hours later we were upstairs in this establishment when I noticed CJ was being (playfully) tormented by the same guy, I started to make a b line to where she was when one of her colleagues said "Oh McNabb is just playing with her", I turned to him and said, "McNabb? as in Donovan McNabb/"  He looked at me and his face was like "Ana, I know you knew who he was"  we both laughed it off and I later told CJ.  That then became the joke for several years and even to this day, about the time I met Donovan McNabb, who was introduced as just Donovan and hung out with him for several hours and had no idea who he was.  See just lost on me.  LOL.  But it was a fun weekend.  Well we will see what fun this weekend brings.  Let's Go Patriots!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The stars at night-are big and bright

1 year ago today, I arrived in Texas for the 3d time in my life.  I flew into Love Field and was picked up at the airport by my high school friend Shan.

Unlike the other times I had been to Texas; once when I was 8 my dad drove the entire family from Providence, RI to Guatemala.  Then in May 2010 I visited the North Dallas area again to interview for a job.  I landed the job, a great career move for me, but I would have to move 1800 miles from everything I have ever known.  I was coming to Dallas, TX to stay.

I would be leaving behind my parents, my brothers, my cousins, my social network (no KB or Jess or CJ), my sorority sisters in my grad chapter, my pham in general.  My entire network that has spread out mostly through the northeastern part of the country.  But most importantly I would be leaving my girls.
Maya and Jasmine wearing an outfit I brought back from Vietnam

The GuateRicans, my 8 and 9 year old nieces that I love dearly, that I helped to raise, the very ones that received a post card from every place I have ever been.  My Jas and Maya.  They're the ones I miss the most.  Even now a year later, though I have been home and visited 5 times since moving to Texas, it is still  hardest to say good bye to Maya, we both cry when we hug each other goodbye, it reminds me of when she was little and I would have to sneak out of her house to go home.  Even though I assure her that I will  be back to visit soon, it breaks my heart each time.  I miss Alex too, my little boyfriend, but our relationship is quite different than that of Jasmine and Maya.
with Alex at New England Patriot Training Day 2010

Those girls did everything with me from the time Maya was 9 months old, we traveled together, made road trips to Maryland and NY they spent a lot of time with me.  Those that didnt know me well, assumed that the girls were my children.

The move to Texas so far has been a blessing.  I have been fortunate that I had a couple of friends that already lived in this area, and thanks to my "network" have made friends through some people I know from back home.  After my arrival here the blessings have continued, from my job promotion and raise within 15 days of my arrival, to my acquiring a new car, and even finding a cool and compatible room mate.  This move truly has been a great thing.

Since moving to Texas I have done some traveling.  I have also taken in some of the Texas scenes and sights.  I have seen Daley Plaza, been to the Rodeo, been to a Maverick's game (prior to their championship), been to a concert, been to a mega church, driven to another major city without leaving the state, driven to New Orleans, and even driven the 1800 miles back to RI.  I can assure you I miss my little Rhody.  I miss hanging out with KB and Jess, I miss watching my Patriots with little effort.  I miss waterfire, the smell of the ocean, the proximity of things, the 3 hour drive to chill with CJ in New York, and I even miss winter.  Though I will take this Texas heat over the Hazy, Hot, and Humid RI summers any day even if it is for a 50 day stretch as we have experienced this summer, it hasn't rained here since May.

Texas truly is a whole new world, and for now it is the capital of my world, it is my new home.  I look forward to continue exploring it and will continue to post of my adventures no matter how boring they may be, I hope you continue to read.

San Diego to RI: completing the Circumnavigation of the globe

The sun rose over Mexico like every other sunrise we had seen for the past 11 ports.  It was beautiful, but this one was different.  The hug from former colleagues, now great friends was a little tighter and meant a little more.  We were entering our last port.   The end of a journey started 110 days prior.

We could see parents, family and friends holding banners, waving, and cheering on the dock.  Welcoming us back.  Students recognizing their parents and calling them on the phone.  Emotions were high.  Everyone had tears streaming down their face.

In the days before we had packed up all of our things, we had prepared for this day.  While packing you could hear the students reminiscing of where they bought a shirt, a dress, a hat, a back scratcher.  How they haggled with the vendors.  All of their stories now memories.  We placed all of our items outside of our door and they were collected and brought down to the belly of the ship to be brought out into the customs area for us.  We would then just identify our items as we cleared customs ourselves.

Though I would remain on the ship for an additional day, when we finally departed and cleared customs, I sat there with all of my things waiting for my friend Daoud to come pick me up.  He sent a friend to collect me, we loaded all of my luggage and bags and he drove me to Daoud's apartment in San Diego.  As I left the port I could hear my heart pounding.  I thought I was going to cry again, and just like that the ship was out of view and we were in a residential area.  Within the next few hours I was doing laundry at Doud's and repacking my luggage preparing to fly back to Providence.  The time flew by.

And just like that the next morning I was in line waiting to board my Southwest flight to Providence.  I arrived to Providence on Dec 17, 2009.  120 days after I had departed from my own house.  Left behind everything that I knew and was as familiar to me as my own hand.

Now here I was back again in the home I had grown up in, and though I looked the same, everything was different.  All of a sudden the world seemed so much smaller, and I knew that I wouldn't be here for too much longer.  Because there was so much more I wanted to see and explore, and I was going to continue to do so.