Day one


After finding out that my friends weren’t joining me I had two choices, one was to completely shut down (which quite frankly I was leaning towards) or grasping the ring of opportunity and riding away on a unicorn. Well, I chose the unicorn of course because why wouldn’t I?

As tired as I was, and really only having a 2 hour nap on the plane doesn’t equate to a full night of rest, I decided it was time for a shower, some food and coffee, and to hit the town.

I had the opportunity to eat at the hotel but what I really wanted was a little cafe that was quite and not filled with other tourists. As I walked with no destination in mind I came across T.J. Coffee Cafe. Well hello lovely! I had to stop since it was fate given the name.

Inside I met Theresa and James, the lovely proprietors who made me a perfect Irish Breakfast (mini), sans beans because I’m just not about beans for breakfast. Call me silly, it’s cool. Theresa was, what I have come to reference as the consummate Irish person. Open, gracious, funny, and just a genuinely nice person, After telling her my story, she asked if I was going to be in Dublin, .When I told her I was headed to the Ennis area, she was sad because she wanted to invite me to their house for Christmas. My first thought was shock. I mean, who does that? My next thought had my frozen heart melting and growing three times its size.

This, I would come to find out, is Ireland.

After my meal I jumped on the Loise (tram) and headed over to the Irish Heritage Museum. Coming from Chicago where our museums are massive, I expected something along the same lines. Instead I found this lovely quaint little museum with extraordinary treasures that rival any others of the same time period. The fact that some of the caches are still being found (last one found was in 2016) with lovely and delicate gold work from anywhere from the 6th to 8th century…mind blown.

After walking around and visiting a few shops, I jumped the tram again and headed back to the hotel. Once in my room I still felt a bit out of sorts and to be honest a bit gut punched, and I decided it was time for some food.

There was a pub that came recommended by a few people and I had a craving for fish and chips and a G&T.

I walked in and sat down and then it happened. The it that I had been avoiding for weeks. Over the soundsystem Wham’s Last Christmas started playing, I knew that I was taking my life into my own hands by coming to this part of the world, but I was really hoping that I could hold out for the 4 days before Christmas. Nope! Here, within my first 24 hours I get sent to Whamhalla. Le Sigh!

If you’re lost, please look up Whamageddon.

At least my G&T was delicious and made with Dingle Gin. One of the things I would come to love is the little bottles of soda that would come with your glass of alcohol if you bought a drink as a mix. While one may think it’s wasteful to have all those little bottles (glass recycling is a thing) I like the ability to decide just how much mixer I want in my glass

Of course I went with the Fish and Chips for my first meal (the chips are hiding under the fish) and it was good.

After dinner and still not ready to go back to my room, I decided to walk off my meal and ended up at a tattoo shop. No, I didn’t get a tattoo…I just made an appointment to get a tattoo for when I get back to Dublin.

After that, well it was time to call it a day. I decided to have a nightcap in the hotel bar and there I met and man whose name I promptly forgot, as I’m wont to do. This man was drunk beyond drunk, what I’ve heard referred to as pissed, and because I’m weird I gravitated towards him. He told me lots of stories. Told me about growing up in Belfast and having to kill people. Told me about spending time in prison before going to New York. Told me of the IRA in New York. Told me again about his time in prison but this was about a guy who wanted to perform fellatio on him due to the size of his penis. Queue eye roll. Next thing I know he’s offering to toss my salad and now it’s time for me to go.

Deciding I needed a bit of nicotine I excused myself and headed outside. He, of course, followed me, and demanded my room number. Oh man, he picked the wrong American on the wrong day.

I politely declined the requested information and he persisted, getting more and more agitated. The hotel staff came out looking concerned and I gave them the thumbs up letting them know I was fine because honestly I just wanted to see where this was going and because he was so drunk a strong wind could have knocked him over. He became more and more insistent but never touched me so he was allowed to stay. I didn’t find him to be dangerous just belligerently drunk. My favorite part of the conversation was this.

Him: Are you scared?

Me: Are you 5?

Of course all good things must come to an end and it was definitely time to end this. After him asking me if I was turning him down because I was a lesbian for the 7th time, I had pretty much had enough. I told him I wasn’t getting naked with him, I didn’t care how big it was or what he wanted to do to various parts of my body, and that I preferred potential partners to be sober enough to remember the exchange and that I quite frankly had had a shit day and I really didn’t want to deal with his bullshit. When he asked me AGAIN if I was a lesbian, well that’s when my claws came out and I got loud and very forceful as I told him he needed to walk the F away from me as he didn’t know who he was dealing with.

Side note….I really can be intimidating when needed and at that point it was very needed.

He blinked at me and I stepped into his personal space putting us chest to chest and nose to nose and simply said:

Do you really think I couldn’t take you? I don’t know who you are or where you’ve been but I can tell you that you, my drunken friend, don’t stand a chance of walking away unscathed and trust me when I say that attacking a woman traveler over the holidays probably isn’t a good thing, regardless of the fact that you will be quite bloody and bruised and probably a bit embarrassed at how easy it will be for me to wipe the walk with your face. I will press this until the end and will walk away while you will not.

Needless to say, he backed down. Score one for the badass bitch with zero fear.

The manager of the hotel came over to apologize to me and I tried not to laugh at him. I told him that I was fine and in no danger and that I had dealt with his kind a time or two. He again apologize and said they had a duty to keep me safe and I told him I was safe enough. While drink may make people a false kind of brave, it also slows their reflexes and makes it easier to take down when necessary. He laughed. I laughed. It was all good.

Now, it was time for bed. I made sure he was not on my lift and I watched myself on the way to my room, but I was more than ready for my bed,

Tomorrow, I leave Dublin in a rental car.

Review: Ultreia Denver, CO


Have I mentioned that I have a recently discovered strong love affair with gin? After going most of my adult life hating the taste and smell all it took was one well mixed Aviation by a good friend and suddenly all I waned to drink was gin. Two years later, it’s pretty much the only thing I will drink with the sudden exception of a good Bloody Mary now and again.

When scoping out restaurants that I wanted to try, I stumbled across Ultreia and when I saw that “gin tonics” proudly listed on their website, I knew this was my next destination.

According to Eater, Ultreia is a Spanish Ham and Gin Bar. Well count me in!

Located inside the Denver Train station, Ultreia seats approximately 50, but with a small patio and a nice night, my companion Nick and I opted to sit outside on the patio. This was a good thing as the night air was much cooler than the stifling and loud interior of the restaurant. It also gave a bit more space between our dining experience and travelers shuffling by.

Not bothering to dither over choices, Nick and I both dove in ordering some of our favorites for round one. I decided to start with the Wendy Peffercorn to drink.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I know it wasn’t pink peppercorns floating in my drink. Regardless of that, this was lovely. It did have a slight pepper bite to it but not in a bad way. I did find it a bit on the dry side but all and all it was a lovely drink.

We started with Cod fritters with a garlic aioli and blistered lemon which was the special of the day.

We followed those up with the ham croquettes,

The crispy sesame eggplant,

and the goat cheese stuffed dates.

Nick also ordered the cured trout plate (not pictured) and while I did have a sample it wasn’t to my liking.

Another round of drinks and a final share rounded out our night.

For my second drink, I decided to try the Adventure Land and it was everything I wanted.

Our last share plate were fried shishito peppers and this was the perfect cap on the evening.

While I did enjoy my evening at Ultreia, there were more than one dish that I felt was a bit over done. These included the dates and the cod fritters. The dates were almost too tough to chew and the cod lost all of its lovely creaminess due to being flattened and fried to such a crisp. Maybe that was the intent of the chef, but it seemed to gain all the crunch while losing all the flavor and that makes me wonder if it was really intentional or accidental.

The other thing that made me kinda sad was that I had intended on ordering the chef’s tasting menu since I saw it on both the website and menu. When I inquired about it I found it wasn’t a true tasting menu but rather a standard listing of items currently on the menu and “really isn’t a a thing anymore” according to our server.

If you are in the Denver Union Station area, I would still suggest stopping in and checking out Ultreia. As for if I will stop again… I might give it another try just to have their ham sampler and more G&Ts but I don’t think I would go out of my way.

Review: Till Kitchen – Colorado Springs, CO


The longer that I live on the road, the more I start to realize just how important it is to not judge a book by its cover. This is very true for restaurants. Some of the swankiest and glitziest places have had some of the worst service and bland loveless food. Then there are the hole in the wall joints where I’ve winced when walking through the door only to be bowled over by the food.

That’s why, as my family and I drove up to Till, I had hoped this wouldn’t be another take on an up and coming chain restaurant tucked back into the burbs. Man, was I wrong on so many counts. Usually when visiting someplace I do a bit of research and get a general idea of where I’d like to eat to share it with you, my lovelies. This time, I let my Aunt pick and I’m very grateful she did.

Till isn’t just a restaurant, it’s large multi-purpose building with an open space restaurant, a bakery, a coffee shop, and a whole lot of sustainable practices and components. Within 5 minuets of walking in I kinda wanted to ask it to marry me because I was head over heels in love.

The open kitchen made me swoon. If I hadn’t been with my family I probably would have bellied up to the bar and settled in for hours to watch the chefs at their craft.

Their market was small but still had a great selection of ready to eat meals.

The restuarant seemed to go on forever and with the clean classic feel of the colors and lines I can see why this would be a perfect place to rent out for an important event such as a wedding receiption.

We were there for brunch so I decided to have the Salmon Toast.

Everything about this plate make me smile. The spring greens salad had a light almost not there dressing and the main of salmon, cream cheese, toast, and onions just had me doing a happy dance as I ate.

Because, what is brunch without drinks….or rather what is one of my reviews without drinks…

I started out my morning with a gin, lemon, ginger beer creation that was so amazing I really wish I hadn’t forgotten to get a picture of the menu so I could replicate it when I’m on home time.

For seconds I had my second Bloody Mary that I didn’t hate. Maybe it was the bacon….because bacon makes everything better. Maybe it was the colorful garnish with the pickled watermelon radish that just made me happy. Who really cares, it was a perfect ending to a lovely day of dinner with 4 generations of women.

There were so many things going on this day that I should have gotten some shots and thoughts on the other meals at the table. Usually I do these things by myself and I’m not distracted but this time, watching the interplay of my daughter and grandmother, as well as enjoying a lovely visit with my aunt I just didn’t think about it.

Sure there are plenty of places to try, but if you’re in the Colorado Springs area, I suggest you stop by and give Till a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Rogue – Richmond, VA


After delivering my load of apples in Virginia, I was short on hours so I took a day off. Since I was less than 40 miles away from Richmond, I decided to head over a take a look.

I needed a mani/pedi (hey life on the road can still be glamorous) and afterwards I decided to check out Rogue for dinner,

Located in Historic Jackson Ward, Rogue offers a 5-course Chef tasting menu. After a quick perusal of the menu, I knew I wanted to try the tasting menu.

First course was a roasted beet salad on chèvre with duck bacon. (I was working on my Canada post between courses, hence the iPad in the background) I’m not a huge beet fan, but these were sublime. Between the natural sweetness of the beets, the creamy texture of the chèvre, and the salty note of the duck bacon this dish was not only perfectly layered but also had a balance that allowed each component to shine without overpowering it’s compatriots.

My second course were pan fried pork tenderloins over a green onion sauce. These were delightfully crispy on the outside with that perfect tenderness on the inside. The sauce added a bright note that really paired well with the pork.


Paul was my bartender and he was not only a great mixologist but a very nice man.

Rogue currently has a list of drinks based on movies. After a quick perusal I settled on the Coop Coop, a gin drink based on the movie the Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Mad with Blueberry-Thyme infused Copper Fox gin, Blackheath cyser, cinnamon syrup, and lemon juice, this pink drink was fruity and refreshing but a bit on the sweet side for my tastes.

One of the things I liked about the bar experience is that if you don’t know what you want, you can give a couple of suggested adjectives and they will make you something to suit. This is a great way to find your new favorite cocktail.

Rogue, also has all of their old menus available to peruse. These were fun to look at as they ranged from a look alike Denny’s menu to a Madlibs menu.

And now, back to our meal.

If I could marry a risotto, it would be this creamy little dish. With lemon creme fraiche folded in and topped with pea shoots, well there really is nothing left to say but “I do!”

Beef with braised breakfast radishes over potatoes. Ok, I love me some beef especially when it’s done well. This beef was done very well but as I said to Paul when he asked me how it was…”Fuck the beef, these radishes are the fucking star of this show.” I had never had braised radishes before and the texture as well as the flavor change once the perfect amount of heat is applied is lovely enough, but then braise them with a touch of butter and bacon fat and well, I’d sell my dark soul for those.

My last course was olive oil cake with candied olives and what I believe was a lemon jelly topping. Add a touch of cream, a lovely strawberry, and a drizzle of olive oil and perfection.

I am not really a sweets fan, so to finish with a dessert that only barley grazed the sweet side was the perfect ending to my meal. The cake was moist with a lovely earthy taste thanks to the oil. The sweet components of the berry and the jelly were not cloying or overpowered the lovely clean taste of the oil.

While waiting on my check, Chef John Maher (@chef_johnny) came out to say hello and thank me for coming in. I raved about his food and told him how much I enjoyed everything but the radishes blew my mind. He seemed genially pleased and after a quick shot he was off again.

Bird and Bottle – Tulsa, OK


I used to live in Tulsa, OK. For various reasons, none I’m going to go into here and now, I moved from Chicago, IL to Tulsa, OK when I was 23. This wasn’t my first foray to the land of Oral Roberts and Rhema Bible College, nor would it be my last.

When I say I lived in Tulsa, that’s not very accurate. I existed but I never felt like I was really living there. I always felt out of place and while I connected with some truly amazing people I always wanted to be somewhere else.

That is why, to my supreme surprise, when I recently returned to visit my friends in Tulsa I was met with many of the things I loved about other places.

The farm to table movement is becoming a driving force in this country as people start to take an interest in where their food comes from, and it is very much alive and thriving in Tulsa.

That is why when my Sister-From-Another-Mister Tonya took me to Bird and Bottle, I was knocked off my ass.

Set in the corner of a strip mall at 31st and Harvard this new little gem is a must if you’re in the area.

Tonya and I stopped in for a Sunday Funday Brunch.

I started with their take on an Old Fashioned, aptly named a Young Fashioned. Rye, brown sugar, muddled lemon, blueberry, and rhubarb bitters with a lemon twist. It was good but not quite what I wanted.

Tonya had their Curry Bloody Mary.

I feel this is the moment where I need to come clean and say I can’t stand bloodies. I’ve tried and tried over the years. I’ve had them every which way and I just can’t with a bloody. After watching the ultimate bliss on Tonya’s face after one sip, I knew I had to try this bloody.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have finally found a bloody that I loved.

This little gem was made with Gin, house-made curry Bloody Mary mix, with a shrimp cocktail garnish.

Maybe it was the gin.

Maybe it was the mix, as it wasn’t as thick as I’ve had in the past.

Whatever it was, I am a huge fan of this bloody.

I felt like the only accompanying nibble would be to have the curry shrimp cocktail.

The fresh pea shoots added a nice bite of green to balance out the flavors of the cocktail sauce and this was indeed the best thing to have with my bloody.

I look forward to my next visit to Tulsa where I’m looking forward to trying their dinner menu. The duck empanadas are especially interesting to me.

Oh, Canada…


When I was around 9, my parents and I took a two week road trip to visit my Uncle and see Niagara Falls. I remember sleeping a lot, as I was wont to do during long road trips. I remember eating a pint of blueberries in the back seat, a kitten that I met at a campground that I begged to take home with me, the roaring sound of the water as it rushed off the edge of the world, and various other things.

Fast forward to 2005-ish, I was stuck in a horrible marriage and looking for an escape. One way that escape took shape was in a brief but somewhat intense love affair. We can debate the morality of my decisions until the end of time, but I was smitten and felt wanted and truly loved for the first time in a long time. Maybe it was the feeling of just being wanted, since it was obvious my then husband didn’t feel that way. Maybe it was the shine that all new relationships have. Whatever the reason, for my birthday I set off on a cross country road trip to see him on the east coast and I drove via Canada.

I wanted to see the falls again. To view them through the eyes of a woman instead of the eyes of a child. Many things had changed and some things still remained the same.

I still ate a fresh pint of blueberries as I drove, constantly having to remind myself to remember it’s kilometers not miles in Canada and 60 isn’t the same. The sound of the falls were no less strong and imposing and the song they sang as they fell to the bottom was still a sweet melody to me.

Most of all, I wanted to drive roads I had never driven before.

That is one of the things I love about driving and always have. I know I’m no explorer setting off to uncharted lands to discover something new, but in this instance I don’t need to be. New to me is good enough for me.

Now that I drive for a living, going somewhere new makes me giddy. That’s why, when I talked to my fleet manager a few weeks ago about going to Canada, I was beside myself when he said he’d put me on the list.

After my brief stop in Tulsa to see friends and family for some much needed R & R, I set off with a new perspective, a little less tense thanks to a lovely massage, and a little more stylish with new nails, shoes, and a new piercing (Yay more holes in my head!)

Yes I’m wearing one pair of glasses over another. Shoosh, you.

First stop? Pennsylvania. Le sigh… Look, I’ve got nothing against PA but I’ve been all over that state the last couple of months and I’m kinda over it. Next stop was in Indiana and when I was dispatched back to PA I sent the following message.

“Dude, I’m kinda sick of PA. What about Canada, eh?”

So instead of heading to PA, I set off for Michigan. Once I delivered my load I spent two days shuttling blueberries around Michigan. These were super easy, high paying loads. You really gotta love summer time in this industry.

After that, I picked up a load of Eggo Waffles and headed towards Calgary, Alberta by way of North Dakota. Not only was I going to Canada, I was going to be driving roads I’ve never been on and see a part of the world as yet undiscovered by myself.

When you drive across the boarder in a car it’s no big deal. When you drive over with a commercial vehicle it’s a bit more complicated. We have two lovely women who dedicate their days to boarder crossings, both North and South. I had to have a 30 minute conversation with them about what to do, what not to do, and general information I needed to make this crossing easy peasy mac and cheesy.

First off, I had a specific time for my boarder crossing. I can arrive up to 8 hours after that time, but if I missed that window I would need to be rescheduled. Due to traffic and my drive clocks I ended up rescheduling twice.

One of the things the boarder crossing women tell you is when you roll up to the crossing too turn your truck off, but don’t set your brakes. Whenever a driver sets their brakes a big whooshing noise can be heard. If you’re in a close proximity to the truck it can be quite loud. As I rolled up to the crossing booth I came across my first problem, there was no one there. Would someone be coming out? Should I set my brakes and go in? ZOMG what do I do?

As I looked over I saw the officer inside waving me in. I set my brakes and headed inside.

Another thing the crossing ladies told me was to just answer what questions are posed to me and not to add anything else or talk too much or seem nervous at all.

Ok my lovelies, many of you have met me in person. For those of you who haven’t, let me say that not being me is a really hard thing to do. I don’t like to talk to new people…I LOVE IT! I especially love making people who don’t laugh often (especially law officers) crack a smile or two and maybe chuckle. Add to that what normally happens when someone tells me to do something and, well yeah, I was cracking jokes and just generally being myself. It was cool, they were well received and in less than 5 minutes overall, I was across the boarder.

For the first 20 or so miles this is all I saw. The traffic was pretty much non-existent, and I was absolutely in love. First stop, I needed to get the much heard of Ketchup Chips.

Ok, I’m not a ketchup fan. I”m actually not a tomato based anything fan (except for the amazing green curry Bloody Mary at Bird and Bottle in Tulsa, OK and a review of that will be up shortly), but I kinda loved these (even if they gave be a bit of indigestion because in reality they are crap.)

Also, everything being bilingual just makes me happy. Street signs, labels, etc. Love love love.

After I made my way though Saskatchewan and Alberta and delivered my load, I found I had a day to myself. I decided I needed a hat (or 5 as it turns out).

Hey, there is a reason this blog is called girl hat zilla…

While in Calgary, and with my downtime I decided to hit a place called Pr0/0f and ZOMG! The food, the drinks, the bartender. As stated above, I love to talk to people and I hear I’m pretty good at it, so when I sit down at the bar and hear an Australian accent in Calgary I have to know more.

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My bartender (whose name I have shamefully forgotten) is a snowboarder from Australia who moved to Canada to do what he loves because, well, snow is not really native to Australia. Kinda like being a Jamaican Bobsled Team. He was awesome and we talked gins, liquors, and favorite drinks.

I sat and watched him mix drink after drink for the patrons while I listened and just observed.

There was a certain beauty to all of his creations.

Simple yet elegant.

The food…

Their pork belly buns were an amazing small plate to accompany any of the drinks.

The Tartar (not pictured because I forgot and it was half gone before I remembered) was a tiny happy explosion in my mouth.

It was on this trip that I decided that along with my travel stories that I would also be featuring restaurants, like Pr0/0f, that I find on the road.

My trip back to the States took me through Banff National Forest and OMG!!! It is now my second favorite drive ever and first best drive in a truck (traveling North on the Pacific Coast Highway is my #1 drive of all time).

So, I have now crossed the Rocky Mountains in two countries!

After Banff I was taking a break in the Okanagan Valley when I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Looking around I tried to find the source of the light, when I heard the slowly accompanying thunder tell me what it was a I saw. As I looked at the clouds overhead, I saw another flash, and then another. Lightning was striking the trees in the mountains overhead. Curious, I wondered “Is that going to start a fire?” Within moments I had my answer.

If you’re interested, you can read more here.

After Canada, I was routed down to Eastern Washington to pick up apples to take to Virginia. In my next post I’ll talk about Rogue and the amazing food of @chef_johnny.

Oftentimes, when you open your trailer after days on the road you get a whiff of staleness or, in the case of meat loads, just the overwhelming smell of meat. That load, upon opening the doors, just smelled like apples and it made me smile. To date it is the second best smelling load I’ve ever had. The first was when I took 40,000 lbs of cocoa powder from PA to GA. That one made me want to take a nap in the trailer.

As of Wednesday I’m headed back to Calgary, and now that the shine of new has worn off I’ll try to get more pictures and info.

Until next time!