July 15, 2013 12:47 PM





My boyfriend Derek and I recently got the rare opportunity to take a couple of weeks off work and travel together. He is a chef, and had some free time before starting a job at the new French restaurant by Andrew Carmellini, Lafayette. He rarely gets to travel or take time off once he's working, even during the holidays, so we figured it could be a good time to go home and see family and friends. I spoke to my agency, booked out, but told them I could fly back at any point in case something important came up. I'm from Houston, Texas, and Derek is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was excited to head home, eat some good Mexican food and BBQ, and go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (how Texan do I sound?!). The rodeo is a yearly event in Houston that lasts for three weeks, each day and night there's a carnival, bull riding, barrel racing, calf scrambles, and a different live music performance. We also wanted to spend time in Austin because SXSW music festival was going on. Derek and I also have a dog, a Puggle named Zeus. Because of him, our desire to travel between three cities, and since we had the time, we decided to make it a cross country road trip!

It was a spur of the moment decision to drive, and Derek decided we should leave immediately that night to avoid traffic the next morning in both NYC and DC. We took turns driving (although Derek drove a lot more than I did to be honest), and made a nice makeshift bed in our Volvo SUV so that we could get in a decent nap between shifts. Zeus made sure to get some time on the bed too. We drove straight through the night, and saw a really beautiful pink sunset somewhere between Alabama and Louisiana as well. We only ended up stopping for a breakfast/relaxation break at a friend's place in Charlotte, so the 26 hour drive took 29 hours! Of course we had to make the obligatory stop at Dairy Queen for Blizzards (on the way back too!) to satisfy my sweet tooth! I really wish we had DQ in NYC, but it's probably for the best that we don't...

Houston was fun and the weather was great. It's always nice to get in some springtime weather while it's still cold in NYC! Zeus went crazy everywhere we went for all the grass, since he's not exactly used to it being a city dog and all...We pretty much just took it easy and relaxed the whole trip, saw friends/family, and went to some tasty restaurants. Underbelly and Uchi were definitely the food highlights in Houston, and both of those restaurants/chefs were recently nominated for James Beard Awards as well. The rodeo was a blast. My friend's brother hosted a BBQ beforehand, and everyone rode together in a party bus to the event. It's always fun to dress up in western wear and cowboy boots. I wore a denim shirt with a brown suede collar that I found in my mom's closet from years ago! My best friend Stephanie, who has an amazing blog called Ripe Cuisine (, baked funnel cake-topped cupcakes for the event which were super delicious. 


Continue to be... PART TWO





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