A very “Chicago weekend”

Week one of work is in the books—and so far so good! But admittedly, working after going seven weeks without it took extra focus and determination, leading to feeling extremely tired after a long week of onboarding. This, as well as some personal things, made me excited for a nice, “Chicago weekend.”

And by that, I mean good food downtown, a comedy show and a fun afternoon at the Montrose Dog Beach.

We stayed in and watched some comedy while munching on McDonalds fries and Chicago Diner vegan shakes on Friday evening. Saturday morning started off with a nice, warm morning walk followed by driving downtown and grabbing Mediterranean food at Ema (10/10 would recommend). After stuffing our faces, we walked around West Loop a little before heading back home. Linley was so cute on our late afternoon/early evening walk because he wanted to head into every restaurant and bar in Wrigleyville! 😂

While we were at lunch, Juan and I decided to book comedy club tickets for that evening, so after Lin’s and my walk, we got ready to laugh some more. Listening to three hilarious comedians, including fellow Michigan native Steve Iott, while drinking some cucumber lime martinis couldn’t have made for a better night!

Channeling my inner Midge Maisel

Sunday morning was a little more lazy; we ordered breakfast in and hung out before heading to the beach in the afternoon. Linley enjoyed himself at the dog beach, and seeing him have so much fun made our day, too! He’s the best… 🙂

My evening ended with a great phone call with one of my closest friends, and some Survivor before heading to bed.

Don’t forget to follow Linley on Instagram! westiepoo.linley 🐶

Photos taken Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8, 2022

It has been a WEEK.

It’s only Tuesday and so many little odd things have gone wrong…

For starters, yesterday was my first day at my new job. After going seven weeks without working, it has been extremely hard for me to focus. My dog also kept making noise during my only real meeting of the day—mainly because our upstairs neighbors are moving out and also made a lot of noise. AND my travel Instagram account was hacked, and will likely be disabled…

I. Am. Devastated. ☹️

BUT me being me, I’m trying to find the silver lining in it all. Perhaps this is a great way for me to live in the present; not the past (not posting throwback travel photos, etc.).

Until/if I can even get this sorted out, you can find my dog at westiepoo.linley on Instagram. His account is private – for now – but he’ll follow you back, I promise!

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and here are some photos from my 6am stroll:

Photos taken Monday, May 2, 2022

Asheville Waterfalls

In 2014, I saw some of the largest, most beautiful waterfalls in Asheville, North Carolina. During my most recent visit (I returned to Chicago with Linley late last night), I knew I had to revisit DuPont State Forest—and finally see Looking Glass Falls.

DuPont State Forest is a free, extremely large park with multiple trails and options for everyone to enjoy. Linley and I wanted to spend the majority of our time at High Falls—arguably the most magnificent of the bunch. I distinctly remember this from my first time in Asheville nearly eight years ago, and haven’t been able to forget it ever since. We hiked down to the river beneath the falls, found a great rock to sit on and enjoyed some quality time together.

Once Linley started getting antsy, we started to head east to get a better, closer view of the falls. The trek wasn’t necessarily the safest, but Lin and I were able to practice some fancy footwork and find a good spot to enjoy the mist from the falls.

Once we were pretty covered in sprinkles, we headed north and hiked another hour or so to Grassy Lake Falls—another waterfall in the park. This fall is significantly smaller, but much more peaceful and tranquil, making it the perfect spot for a quick picnic. There was a big rock that seemed like it was made specifically for Lin and me. We munched on some cheese sandwiches and dog food, and relaxed before the next hike.

On our way back to the visitor’s center, we met a lovely couple and chatted with them for a bit—which is one of the many reasons why I love the Asheville area so much. Linley even started to fall asleep as we visited with them! We finally made it to the car, and headed north to Looking Glass Falls.

Looking Glass Falls sits halfway between Asheville and DuPont State Forest, and is one waterfall I’ve always wanted to see. It’s not necessarily a “hike,” but it is a beautiful place to park your car, walk down toward and hang out for a little while. Linley and I sat in a “sandbank” type area with the best view of the falls, people watched and enjoyed hearing the sounds of the waterfall and the creek flowing near us.

I’m beyond grateful to have visited some of my favorite places with one of my best friends 😀

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram westiepoo.linley and adventureinspades

Media taken Wednesday, April 13

In Awe of Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina has held a special place in my heart since December, 2014—when I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and built homes in the area. The mountains, people and unique energy pulled me in, so much so that I almost moved there in 2021. I accepted a position at a smaller company and met some amazing coworkers-turned-friends, but ultimately relocated to Chicago instead.

I know what you’re thinking: How can a city girl be so outdoorsy at the same time? Truthfully, my only reasoning is that I’m a Libra and enjoy balance 😂

In all seriousness, when I knew I would have a seven week sabbatical between jobs, I knew I had to visit—Linley in tow. One of my best friends, Carolina lives in the area with her boyfriend and dog, giving us the perfect excuse to come visit. Nature is beautiful and all, but there’s nothing better than enjoying it with friends—human and four-legged!

Linley and I drove through Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Western North Carolina on Sunday, April 10 to get here. Linley was great in the car, but I knew I had to make it up to him – and myself – with some major hiking the next day. On Monday, April 11 we decided to hike the Rattlesnake Lodge trails while Carolina was busy at work. The trails were roughly four miles and approximately four hours for us to hike, but the sun peaking through the trees and the light breeze motivated us to keep going. The views weren’t as “open” as other hikes in the area, but it was still a great trail for us to start with. Between the hiking and long drive the day prior, Linley and I were so exhausted that we napped in the afternoon—something he often does and I rarely do. Carolina, Matt and I grabbed dinner and drinks downtown, watched some Impractical Jokers and went to bed.

The following day wasn’t looking like a great day for hiking; rain and light thunderstorms were predicted for the morning, which turned into the afternoon as well. Me being me, I thought leaving around noon would be smart to avoid the worst of the rain, but Lin and I were disappointed when we arrived at the Craggy Gardens trail and were hit with quite a bit of rain (guess which one of us was more disappointed than the other!). We stuck it out under it became unbearable, dried off in the car then headed back toward the city of Asheville for better luck.

Well, we didn’t have better luck at the North Carolina Arboretum, but we still made the most of it. After another rainy hike, we headed back to Carolina’s place. Carolina, our friend Jes and I headed to downtown Weaverville for s’more tacos and drinks. It was great to catch up with them—especially a long day of not being able to do much!

Don’t forget to follow Linley and me on Instagram @westiepoo.linley and @adventureinspades

Photos taken Monday, April 11 and Tuesday, April 12

Fun in Virginia: MerMagic Con Round II

On Friday, March 4, I joined my best friend Terry for our second MerMagic Con in Virginia. We drove his red Kia Rio over eight hours south along with his boyfriend Reggie and his mom, and we had a wonderful weekend together.

With some minor hiccups and stops along the way, we finally arrived at the Dulles Marriott around 7:30pm, just in time for our “Mer Mixer!” Ter and I stayed up late and mingled with other mermaids, mermen and businesspeople in the community. Being back in this environment with one of my closest friends was much needed for both of us ❤️

Although I really wanted to stay for more of the convention the next day, we spent the majority of our morning running errands and patiently waiting for our Dunkin Donuts order. I also grabbed lunch with another one of my closest friends, Carolyn, who lives in the D.C. area. Our afternoon together was full of laughter and profound conversation, and flew by per usual. But I had to get back to the convention center to see Ter swim in his tail before the end of the day!

Reggie, Ter’s mom and I all met back up at the convention center to watch Ter in his element. Once we snapped some obligatory, fun photos, we headed back to the hotel, got ready for dinner and left to meet another one of Ter’s friends. The four of us, Ter’s friend Wes and his husband all enjoyed lovely food and drinks together. Seeing Ter laugh and meet so many new people – along with old friends – was endearing and heartwarming to see ❤️

I look forward to more memories with Ter, Reggie and Ter’s mom! Until round three 😉

Happy Birthday Day, Ter!

It’s my brother from another mother’s birthday! Happy Birthday Merman Ter Ter B! And most importantly, “SMOOCHIES!” 😗

Ter and I have grown closer over the years, and he is truly the older brother I never had but always wanted. Even before I moved, we talked on the phone every morning (7:15ET… 6:15CT!) and seldom missed a weekday check in with each other. We’ve cried together, laughed together, sat and did nothing but be in each other’s presence together, and built each other up in recent years—especially when I needed it most. ❤️

Ter is and HAS an incredible light that is one-of-a-kind. This talented human (and merman!) has the largest heart, soul and presence, yet is the most humble and grateful person I know. I can’t get through this post without crying, because he is and always has been a blessing to me. He sure knows how to live in the moment, and is the most giving, creative and hilarious fella I know! 😀

Thank you for making me laugh, crying with me, giving me the best hugs, wanting to take a million selfies with me (while spinning me around!), always knowing what to say and for making me feel unstoppable in an instant. You’re the bestest!!! 🥰

Love always,
Cate 💛

Takin’ It Slow in “The Big Easy”

I’ve never been the type of person who has a singular, large group of friends (think How I Met Your Mother, Friends, or any sitcom for that matter). For the longest time I thought that was a bad thing, but I have always been blessed and grateful that I have close friendships from travel and work-related adventures (see a previous post with this same sentiment). I’m an “introverted, extrovert” who values my quality time with one or two people more than big groups of people, even as an ENFJ. And one of those friends I have gotten to know over the years is Jes.

Jes and I worked together during the pandemic (fall 2020 through spring 2021 to be exact), but never met in person until July, 2021. I decided to part ways with the company, move to Chicago and start something new; as much as this was the right thing to do at the time, knowing that I wouldn’t be in Asheville with Jes, Carolina and the other amazing women I met at The Pritchett Company was difficult to grasp. I HAD to visit Asheville and meet Jes in person, something that felt long overdue.

Jes (left), Carolina (right) and I (middle) in Asheville, North Carolina (July, 2021)

Jes and I planned a somewhat spontaneous trip to New Orleans (NOLA) a few weeks ago, and we had such a fun, easygoing weekend here in The Big Easy. Between the snowy weather and mechanical issues at O’hare in Chicago on Friday morning and the delays heading home last night, here were some of my favorite aspects of our time together.

Ghost and Cemetery Tours

As lovers of all-things haunted, Jes and I signed up for a walking ghost tour and a cemetery bus tour to end each night in NOLA. On Friday, we strolled through the French Quarter and we learned about all the haunted, ghost-infested sights from NOLA’s beginning to Marie Laveau‘s voodoo presence to Nicholas Cage’s drunken shenanigans—resulting in him getting kicked out of the city for good. Some of the most disturbing stories involved children dying of yellow fever and throwing themselves out of buildings, and how horribly slaves were treated. If you like spooky minus the graphic detail, I recommend a bus tour instead of a walking tour.

Pro tip: Go earlier in the night if you want more history than “fun.” A lot of tipsy folks will be on the later tours, and it can take away from the seriousness of NOLA’s haunted history!

Pro tip II: Get your palms or cards read! Jes and I did this and had a great time, learning something new along the way. Just make sure you go to a reputable place.

Art

Whether we were in the city centre, Congo Square or our tattoo studio on Magazine Street, Jes and I greatly appreciated the art as we strolled each afternoon. There is such a unique vibrant art scene in New Orleans that I appreciated very much. If you ever have some time to kill between activities, especially on a nice, sunny day, please take your time and get to know the local artists. Jes actually closed on a house Friday morning, which was the perfect excuse to buy new pieces!

Not only did we get artwork for ourselves, we also had some artwork done on ourselves…

Pro tip: Avoid tourist traps at all costs! You won’t get the authenticity and personality in your gifts from a “Made in China” shop. Artists will charge more for their time and brand, but it’s SO worth it.

Jazz Music

As a Detroit native and longtime lover of jazz, this was a must for my time in NOLA. We found a lowkey, casual absinthe bar (a plus!) and had to check it out. Jes and I each enjoyed a cocktail and swayed to the music before heading out on one of our tours. Boy did this make me miss Detroit!

Pro tip: Even if you don’t like jazz or want to carve time out for it per se, you can always pop into a dive bar, grab a drink and some bar food, and enjoy yourself for a song or two.

People Watching

^two truest words ever spoken about this city. My definition of a “wild night out” is three drinks and in bed by midnight. Some of the tourists here go HARD, and it shows even while waltzing down Bourbon Street. Even though we felt out of place, it’s worth a stroll and some snaps.

Pro tip: Please don’t be an idiot. Wear your mask.

There is truly something for everyone in The Big Easy. The food, energy and charm are truly one of a kind, and even if you’re a Midwesterner like myself, I highly recommend this southern city! I can’t wait for my next girls weekend with Jes 😀

Photos and videos taken Friday, January 28 – Sunday, January 30

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at The Art Institute of Chicago

Although Martin Luther King Jr. Day is deemed a “company holiday,” this is a day of remembrance of his life and celebration of his contributions—mixed with the harsh reality that we still have a long way to go.

For more inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, click here.

I felt guilty “celebrating” a day off this year, so instead of binging Succession or some other waspy program of the like, I wanted to further educate myself on black artists and activists by visiting my favorite art museum: The Art Institute of Chicago. The photography exhibit which featured black and LGBTQIA+ community members especially spoke to me; I loved seeing people of all walks of life be their authentic selves and become more prominent in their industries.

And yes, even Kanye is featured at The AIOC!

I believe Martin Luther King Jr. paved the path for other activists in the US and abroad. I originally wanted to say, “I wish there were more people like him,” but a better statement is, “I’m thankful there are more people like him out there!”

I hope to see a world without racism, sexism, homophobia… in my lifetime, it’s unlikely, but I am hopeful that our younger generations will continue to push society in the right direction.

A letter from Norway// Hello 2022!

As 2021 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on, arguably, the most difficult year thus far, while also taking inventory on all the good things that have happened during the pandemic. One of those things has been maintaining contact with my family friend in Norway, Kjell.

Sitting with Kjell (Spring, 2016)

Kjell was a foreign exchange student who lived with my mom and her family in high school. He was part of my childhood and early adulthood from afar through handwritten letters, photos and memories exchanged between him and my mom, but I finally had the opportunity to stay with Kjell in 2016. Those two weeks with his family in Askoy, Norway (near Bergen) has as much impact on me now as it did then.

Here are some of the highlights from my time with Kjell:

Despite the fact that we’ve switched our channel of correspondence from handwritten notes to email, Kjell and I have kept up with regular check-ins and photo sharing! He recently wrote me, shared some family updates and of course, beautiful photos of Norway.

Our fishing spot in 2016 🥲

I wish all of you a happy new year, and wish you continued travel and adventures with friends in 2022 🙂

Chicago Architectural Tour

Last month, Juan and I joined some tourists (mainly fellow Michiganders) on an architectural boat tour of our ‘new home.’ We already knew the true meaning of why Chicago was named “the windy city” but wanted to learn more about the beautiful buildings surrounding us—as well as other quips!

For starters, there are a few prevalent styles of architecture found in the city, including but not limited to: art deco, Chicago school, post-modern and gothic revival. As much as I love art deco, the other styles complement my fav 1950s vintage incredibly well. It’s also important to note some of the most famous architects in the city: Boyington (Chicago Water Tower), Frank Lloyd Wright (various redesigns downtown) and the infamous architects from Studio Gang (St. Regis). If you’re in the Chicago area as a resident or visitor, I highly recommend going on this tour.

I especially love and admire Jeanne Gang, the designer of Chicago’s Aqua Tower. Born in 1964, she was first widely recognized for this building, the second tallest woman-designed building in the world. Aqua was recently surpassed in 2021 by the nearby St. Regis Chicago, also of her design. Gang is one of Chicago’s most prominent architects of her generation—as her projects have been widely awarded. How cool!

Photos taken Saturday, November 13, 2021