2017-03-05 Saint Louis – Day 4, The Trainwreck Cheeseburger.. 2.5

When I was going through my difficult time last year, the phrase I used to describe it was “trainwrecked”. It worked in lots of different ways. I was “trainwrecked”. I was in “trainwreck” mode or sometimes I was actively in a state of “trainwrecking”. I guess you could say that was trying to make light of the situation to try and balance out everything else I was feeling.

Well, one of the previous days when Josh and I were searching for our next meal, the list included a place that he had forgotten about.. the Trainwreck Saloon. When we saw that, we knew we had to go. Knowing it was a bar and would most certainly have a nice selection of cheeseburgers, was just icing on the cake.

We headed there straight after our Forest Park walk and i really did not look at any other parts of the menu besides the burger section. Josh ordered the triple cheese and I opted for the cheddar bacon made with Bison meat. The waitress talked me into the broccoli-cauliflower salad and he had sweet potato fries. What started out as something magical where the universe was once again giving me exactly what I needed, ended up as a set of big fat checkmarks in the “lessons learned” category. The sad part about that, was these were all things I know already.

– When going to a new place, get the baseline burger with cheese. Not too fancy. In doing this you will avoid anything going wrong with something the restaurant is trying to do which might alter the experience in a negative way. I went for the Bison, when I should have stuck with delicious cow.
– If there is something special, which isn’t normal terminology – question it. In this case it was “soft cheddar” cheese. I didn’t think anything of it, but the cheese was just not to my liking at all. The taste was OK, but the texture was not appealing at all.
– Never, ever, under any circumstances order a side that is not French fries. Sorry for the double negative. Let me make it perfectly clear.. Always Order French Fries. Done. And yes, the side is a part of the total experience and it matters.

I admit I didn’t follow my own rules on this one, but I was just trying to allow serendipity to keep working her magic on this trip. However, even without my mistakes, the experience would have probably been just average.

The bun was an average bun that may have been multi-grain or perhaps had some sesame on it, but I could not tell. It was not toasted, and I prefer a toasted bun. The server did not ask me how I wanted my burger cooked, which was very odd for a place that advertises good burgers. Fortunately for me, medium is the standard and that is what I typically will order. As I stated, the cheese flavor was ok, but it was gooey and chunky and kind of pasty and really dripped all over the place. The bison was also OK, but I have definitely had better. And yes, shame on me, but the broccoli-cauliflower salad was actually not good at all so I am not sure what the server meant when she said it was “the best”. It was like they cut a few raw veggies and tossed it in watered down mayo. Not a lot of flavor. All things considered, I would go 2.5 out of 5 on this Cheeseburger experience.

I did manage to get not one or two, but three bites from Josh’s burger which was a quite a cut above my own. If things were flipped, I’d probably have gone perhaps as high as 3.5 on it. In the end, I was just pouty that his was better than mine and I carried that with me as we headed back to Ademir’s place to say good-bye.

We rested for just a few minutes there before packing the rest of the things in the car. By that time, the day had already gotten long and the sun was on the verge of setting. I was not really looking forward to a 7 hour drive back home and having not had the best sleep in a couple of days, I knew it might get rough.

I did OK until I hit the Iowa border and that’s when I started to get very sleepy and kind of punchy. When I got to Josh’s place I helped him unload and thanked him for being my tour guide and showing me his home away from home. I got a little emotional (or a little more than a little emotional) and then had to kind of take off in a hurry. It was also 2AM and we were both in desperate need of sleep.

A very good trip indeed. Hard to pick a favorite moment, or five. I would definitely go again, given the opportunity.

Home again, home again,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-05 Saint Louis – Day 4, Part 1

It’s really already the 6th but like the rest of the weekend, it’s the day after and I’m just now getting to write about it. My last day in Saint Louis was long and again, full of memorable moments.

It was quite overcast and chilly which was very much a contrast from the sunny 71 we had on Saturday. We tried to have a bit of a plan in the morning, to go for Crepes at City Coffee House and Crêperie and walk Forest park but as it often happens, plans were foiled. This time is was mostly a timing issue because it was high noon when we arrived and there were folks packed in waiting for tables. I don’t do “waiting for tables” so we had to move on.

It was also sprinkling just a little bit and I gather that Josh did not want to walk in the rain so we opted to go get coffee and have a taste of some gooey butter cake. We drove to City Park Coffee but not the original location, one that’s new-ish in an area of town that looks like it’s getting a remodel. I’m not sure what that part of the city is called but the buildings had hip, modern look to them and the streets and spaces quite open. This was a contrast from my impression of the rest of the city where much of what I had seen was very old and dense and somewhat industrial.

I ordered a raspberry mocha latte which is a thing I try to order other places, but when it’s not on the menu I end up requesting they add this and that to it to get it right and it’s never quite right. It was, however, on the menu here, so they had the ratio down already and it’s probably the best one I’ve ever had. I’m sure my opinion was not swayed by the accompaniment of the gooey butter cake. He’s told me this is a Saint Louis thing and after I had it, I am certain it should also be an everywhere else thing too. It was the bomb. We lounged for a little bit in some cool chairs and finished the gooey and then took the rest of what coffee we had left to go. (My sweet tooth, getting the better, of me insisted on also getting a triple chocolate brownie to go as we walked out the door.)

From there we drove to Forest Park and first drove around the park a bit and then settled on a spot near one of the museums as the starting point for our walk. He knows that I have a goal to get 12,000 steps a day and when we started out, we were on something like 300, so it seemed like a stretch that we were going to be able to achieve that. Especially since the weather was so chilly and neither of us really felt like walking.

After we got going however, something changed. It was the scenery and the conversation and pretty soon we were far from where we started and not minding the cold at all. Just like when driving around the city, he was the navigator and I was just following directions. We walked past fountains and museums and water with trees and streets and bridges and along walkways near the edge of the park with a view of some really cool houses. It was the biggest park I think I have ever been at and I was quite surprised about that. I’m not sure why. Then, as we were nearing the end of our giant loop and the car was in site, my FitBit buzzed on my wrist signaling that I had indeed achieved the goal. Perfect.

I don’t want to forget this part though. Along the way we sat for a little bit on a bench by some tall trees overlooking the water. It was near the edge of the park where you can also see the main street and BJC rising up behind that. It was very much like the bench that I sat on last year with Matt when he proposed to me and I had to say no. It was such a rush of an unexpected reminder that my heart couldn’t take it and I fell into tears. I was looking away at the time, so Josh would not see, but he might have known anyway.

I’ve sort of felt like this trip was a milestone for me. My first trip without Matt. My first set of experiences that were positive and really proof that life goes on and can be great again. The entire trip had been, up to that point, really unique and amazing and satisfying. This tender moment was no exception, but it was the first time my sadness really swelled. It was such a tough thing for me to do to not accept his proposal but I never want to have to break up with a person just to make them realize how they feel about me. That’s not how it’s supposed to work and that is not what I intended when I broke it off. The proposal was a shock and I wasn’t prepared for it. The heartbreak I endured after was also something I was not prepared for. This trip was about me starting to live my life again.. me living for me. In that moment, on that bench, I embraced what I had experienced as just a tiny sliver of my life as a whole and let it become something happy instead of sad. We are the sum of our experiences, but we also have the freedom to choose how we let those events shape us. I took some deep breaths of cold air and found peace in the stark contrast of the hot tears running down my cheeks.

After just a little bit of time, that moment was passed and we were up and walking again to finish out the loop. I had achieved several goals and I felt wonderful.

There’s more to this day, but alas, I am short on time so it will have to wait.
Much Love,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-04 Saint Louis – Day 3

Tennis Anyone? Yesterday the high was 71 and the sun was smiling down on Saint Louis all day. We only lounged for a little bit in the AM so as not to waste any part of the day and shortly after 9:30 we were off. The park we went to was Whitecliff park which is a stones throw from Ademir’s House. When we arrived there were two vacant courts next to each other so that’s where we played.

I enjoy tennis and just started learning the game last year, but these people are fanatics. Ademir is a certified pro and has taught his girlfriend Crystal the game. Josh is good too and I’ve seen him play before back home and it’s no joke. So I was quite nervous to go out and hit balls in front of these people for fear of what they might think. Josh assured me that if anything, I would get good pointers because Ademir’s also coached a lot of sports, including tennis, so not to worry. Of course, it was all fine.

I did get some instruction on my backhand and tried very hard to focus on what I was doing. For me, the anxiety of being in a new situation surrounded by new people takes a while to melt away but I also have an internal drive to overcome and be liked and accepted and prove that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I think in these situations, that instinct sort of takes over and though the anxiety is still there, it’s not showing because there are greater mental factors at stake. I played pretty good and really enjoyed myself.

Around lunchtime we went to Ademir’s parents house for a visit and some food. They are from Bosnia and came to this country a little more than 20 years ago to escape war back in their home country. Again, I was welcomed into the home and made to feel at ease. Within a minute of walking into the door, about 30 seconds after introductions, I was handed a plate of food with generous proportions. We sat cozy next to each other in the living room facing the TV and watched and ate and talked.

For a little bit of time, we were watching a program that was in Bosnian and there was some conversation in Bosnian which, of course, I could not understand. In fact, much of the time, the exchanges between Adamir and his parents were in Bosnian and I’m not even sure how good of English his dad speaks. It was fascinating for me to be immersed in this moment because I have led a very sheltered life and almost never thing of things outside my sphere of influence. My mind can’t comprehend what these people have been through in their lives.

A little later, a gymnastics competition came on the TV and that’s totally my jam (and it was in English), so it was a lot of fun to watch. That’s about the time the Baklava came out too, so it was double bonus time in Miss SugarCookie land. We watched until the end of that and then exited the scene as quickly as we arrived with hugs and thanks.

From there we went directly to another set of courts at Carondelet Park. I did not have quite as much fun on the second round, mostly because I was stuffed full of food and feeling tired. I was also playing with the setting sun directly in my eyes and became frustrated I could not see to play very well. The others were in a similar state, I think, but we powered through a couple of hours and then headed back home for showers and naps (though I never slept).

In the evening we went to Ademir’s sister’s house for dinner which meant more traditional Bosnian fare and more exposure to thoughts and ideas from a totally different perspective than I am used to. We were up to almost 2AM talking about life and the state of the world today. I could probably go on and on about that, but have already gone on long enough about this day. Needless to say, it was unique and wonderful.

Today the weather will not be as nice and I’ll have to face the reality of going back home. I’m already feeling like I just need one or two more days here, but that’s not how a life of responsibility works. C’est la vie.

2017-03-03 Saint Louis – Day 2

Today was once again full of feels. Different than the day before, but still satisfying.

I had to work again, but balanced my time out well so that I could enjoy the bright sunshine in the early afternoon when it was at it’s peak. We walked the trail as it was, once again, too cold for tennis.

Late afternoon we ventured to a different part of town to partake in some Mission tacos. I went for the full on experience and had chips, and guac and tacos, and a churro. It was all quite delish. The atmosphere was good and the conversation was also nice. One thing I appreciate about spending time with Josh is that we always seem to have good conversation. And he does not mind when I break into a horrible english accent.

In the evening I got to spend more quality time with his friends and they are quite silly. I dig it. Josh actually left to go visit his friend Najah and so I just played along in whatever happens happens mode. This included watching Ademir play chess with a 9th grader and a fast food run where we all piled into the car to go get both McDonalds and Jack in the Box because the girls couldn’t agree on one place and watching a strange movie that involved time travel.

After all of that I was left to my own devices and felt somewhat inspired and so I decided to write. At the present moment the clock is ticking and we’ve just crossed over midnight and stumbled into tomorrow. Sleep is starting to creep in on me and so I’m going to pack it in. Day 3 promises to be the best weather day yet so I need to rest up so I can squeeze as much as I can out of that.

Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-03 Saint Louis – Day 1

My last blog post was about the first half of my first day in Saint Louis yesterday but there is, of course, more to the story. Not only did I have a fantastic Cheeseburger but I also had fun the rest of the day just letting whatever happens happen…

Late afternoon it was too cold and windy to play tennis so we walked Grant’s Trail which is right at Adamir’s back door. The trail goes by the stable and fields where they keep the Budweiser Clydesdale horses so that was pretty cool. By the time we arrived back at the house, the sun was almost set and my fingers were chilled to the bone. I had not had enough sleep the last couple of nights so I opted to bundle myself up in blankets and take a nap.

When I woke it was completely dark out and one of our two hosts, Ademir’s girlfriend Crystal, was also just waking from her nap so we chatted for a while. She’s originally from China and came to the US when she was 7. Ademir is originally from Bosnia. Josh and him met when they attended Saint Louis university together. After college, they stuck around and got jobs here and Josh moved back to Omaha but they have remained very close friends.

The conversation was good, but when people started talking about what good food this city has, I knew it was time to go get dinner. Since I already had my favorite thing, it was Josh’s turn. The place he originally told me about was called Zia’s but perhaps that was too far and it was too cold out so we decided to order from a place called “Dewey’s Pizza” in Kirkwood and pick it up and bring it back to the house. We had the “Dr Dre”.

Pizza is not one of my go-to meals, but this one was solid. No sauce, just olive oil, plus green peppers, red onions, chicken, bacon, and we substituted pepperoni for the standard jalapeño. They add tomatoes after the pie is baked on this one and give you a generous portion of ranch sauce for dipping. Now I’m a sauce fiend so the lack of sauce was a bummer, but the ranch almost made up for it. Almost. 😉

I followed that up with a couple of Josh’s home-made chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. I always fancy having something sweet to finish off a meal. It’s one of the things that always get’s me into trouble when it comes to trying to eat healthy. But hey, I’m on vacation.

We watched some TV and video clips with Adamir and Crystal and then they went off to bed. We all still have to go to our day jobs in the morning, so a late night was out of the question.

All in all, a very satisfying day indeed. I’m certainly looking forward to day 2 to see what more the universe has in store.

Peace and Love,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-03 When the Universe Smiles at You.. 4

There was no set plan for the day yesterday, but everything seemed to happen exactly as it was meant to… and it could not have worked out better.

I worked most of the morning from a standing desk in Ademir’s basement and had a very intense set of calls. I faced issue after issue, and fielded question after question, so by early afternoon, I felt like I had earned my keep and a pass to venture out for food and a little exploring.

On this trip, I’m the driver and Josh is the navigator. This is his home away from home so I just have to say what it is I am in the mood for and whatever that is, he’ll get us there. For our first meal in the city, though, I opted to leave it to him to suggest a place. He decided it was some breakfast/lunch place that was fairly close to our home base that serves baller french toast and so we set out in that direction.

When we got to the general area, though, he could not remember the name of the place and it wasn’t coming up on the map. We parked in a parking lot next to a grill and pub called “Weber’s Front Row” and started walking the main strip. I’m not sure what the name of that area of town is called, but Webster University, where his friend Crystal works, was close by.

After walking up and down a couple of blocks, we didn’t find it so we got back in the car to do more google searching. Before too long, my hunger took over and I suggested we just eat at this place we were parked at. “It’s a grill and pub, and they have Cheeseburgers.” What more could a girl ask for?

When they set that plate in front of me, I could not help but think, “Everything works out the way it is supposed to”. There I was, first day in a city I had never been to before and the universe was handing me the most delicious Cheeseburger. And it really was so, so good.

It was a thick, juicy beef patty topped with a generous portion of melted real cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and dill pickle slices. And all of that was contained within an toasted onion kaiser bun. It was amazeballs. The burger was cooked medium to perfection and served with an accompaniment of golden french fries which were also cooked very much to my liking – crispy on the outside and soft and steamy hot on the inside. It was a total thumbs up. I’m a pretty tough critic so when I say it gets 4 stars out of 5, that’s something.

Josh opted to order “The Lumberjack”, which was also a cheeseburger but instead of a regular bun, they put it inside two grilled cheese sandwiches. On the menu it also came with fried egg, but he elected to get those on the side. It was still a ridiculous mouthful for sure and also delicious (as he let me try a bite). He likes his burger rare, which is not my cup of tea, but he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. It was too much food for us, but that’s part of the fun of being “on vacation”. We left that place completely satisfied and happy that things worked out the way they did.

Was it fate that led Josh to want to go to that area of town? Was it coincidence that the restaurant we were looking for was not coming up in our google map searches? Was it luck that the parking lot we elected to park in was next to a pub? In my life right now, I need to do a little more letting go on questioning why and just be grateful for what’s been given. When the universe smiles at you.. you say thank you and smile back.

Thanks Universe, 😃
Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-02 Miss SugarCookie Live from Saint Louis

Yesterday after work I jumped in the car and drove to Saint Louis because.. why not. 😃
I’ll be working from here for the next couple of days and then on my off hours seeing everything and eating everything I possibly can until I leave on Sunday. It’s one of the perks of being able to work from anywhere. Anywhere there is internet that is.

I’ve never been to Saint Louis before so it should be quite an adventure. My tour guide is Josh and he’s already given me the rundown on all his favorite places to eat and I trust that as a result I will also get to see some cool different parts of the city. If the weather is good, we will also get plenty of activity outside including Tennis. So that should be really stellar as well.

I woke up about half an hour ago and could not go back to sleep. I’m on an air mattress in Josh’s friend, Ademir’s basement. Once I was awake my mind immediately began to race about all the stuff going on and I knew there would be no more sleep in my future today. Too much excitement and energy to keep a girl down. I absolutely love road trips.

The drive yesterday was good. I had such a wide swing of feels along the way, and the 7 hour trip seemed to go by really fast so that was also good. We jammed out to some good tunes and had just the right amount of snacks on the way, not to mention a dinner stop for a Cheeseburger as I wouldn’t have it any other way. Quite honestly I can’t believe I have been blogging for over a month now and have not dedicated a post yet to one of the most important things in my life – the Cheeseburger. I know I have been promised a lot of good food on this adventure, but my one request was to have “the best Cheeseburger in town”. Once that happens, I’m sure it will be documented appropriately.

On the drive I also had time to think and in the quiet spaces in my mind there were, as there always are, lots of thoughts about my life. I was thinking about living in the moment and enjoying each day for what it has to offer. I was thinking about the future and how I’m just so free now to choose to do whatever I want. More so than ever before. I had sparks of inspiration about things that I wanted to write. Of course I was driving so I knew I would not being able to capitalize on those sparks and they would slip away, never to be captured. This phenomenon used to bother me, but over time I have come to accept that what dreams may come and what words may blossom in the mind are fleeting and sometimes the act of waking up and living means sacrificing capturing those thoughts. Life is about balance, after all. and some times are times for writing and others are meant to be lived.

The next four days are going to be all about that. I want to squeeze all the life I can out of this adventure and also take time to memorialize some of the moments. We’ll just have to wait and see how well I can pull it off.

Let’s Get this Party Started,
Miss SugarCookie