Travel

So you want to go to Oktoberfest?

Posted by Lauren

Last year I went to Oktoberfest with Kyle and 18 friends. It was an awesome trip and I really should journal what we did before I totally forget. However, before I spend 50 hours resizing photos, backtracking, googling, and making sense of ticket stubs, I thought I’d write about the process of getting 20 people into the fest. Because there are some tips and tricks we picked up along the way :)

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1) Read this: http://www.oktoberfest-insider.com/oktoberfest-faq.htm

It is the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide I’ve found. I learned so much about the festival from that one site. Seriously, go read it!!!! And read this: http://www.bigboytravel.com/europe/germany/munich/oktoberfest/best-beer-tents

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2) Pick some tents!

Each tent has a specialty. Some tents have better food, some have better decor, some have better bands, some are for a younger crowd, and some for an older/richer crowd.

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Organize the tent booking information in a spreadsheet. Mark down when people accept reservations. Mark down when you’ve reached out (and how!). Mark down the days/times you requested for each. Set calendar reminders on your phone when reservations open up. Be OCD about it.

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Let’s see what I can remember about the main ones that I visited:

  • Schützen-Festzelt
    • We had a Monday afternoon reservation here, 2 beer vouchers + 1 chicken voucher per person
    •  Known for: good music, red/yellow/green ribbon roof, wine + alc served (rare at Oktoberfest)
    • Recommend? YES

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  • Armbrustschützen-Festhalle
    • We had a Wednesday afternoon reservation here, 2 beer vouchers per person and 2 large appetizer platters
    • Known for: crossbow shooting, animal theme stalls
    • Recommend? NO. It was cold inside, not very busy (during afternoon at least)

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  • Lowenbrau
    • Went here at night with Kyle, Megan, and Paul without a reservation
    • Wiggled up to table in front of band and had a blast!
    • Known for: Heldensteiner house band, roof with 16k lights, beer drinking lion tower out front
    • Recommend? YES!
  • Augustiner
    • Went here after our afternoon reservation ended at another tent, very crowded (but big) on the inside
    • Known for: green ceiling, wood kegs
    • Recommend? Maybe, get there early. Tables didn’t seem as friendly/open to crashers.
    • p.s. Lots of other Augstiner places in Munich so you could check those out instead
  • Ochsenbraterei
    • Went here on our last day for a quick drink after enjoying some rides
    • Known for: ox-roasting tent, blue/white ribbons hanging from garlands on ceiling
    • Recommend? Yes
  • Hacker Festzelt
    • Went here after getting lost with Molly (long story)
    • Known for: blue sky with clouds on ceiling, favorite of locals and international peeps
    • Recommend? Yes (def at night, friendly people)
  • Hofbräu Festzelt
    • Went here at night (sat at table outside) for just a little bit
    • Known for: One of the largest, party-hardiest tents at Oktoberfest
    • Recommend? If you can get a spot inside, go for it! Supposedly good music
  • Honorable Mention
    • Fischer Vroni – looks beautiful with yellow/blue ribbon ceiling but did not visit
    • Schottenhamel – the other 85% of our group went here when Molly and I were lost. Sounded like they had fun.

3) Get a fax number. I used HelloFax‘s 30 day free trial and then 9.99/mo for about 2 additional months.

Why do you need a fax number? Because most of the tents require you to fax a reservation request in. Super archaic, I know. Use this format (below) to create a word document and then save it as PDF. Electronically sign it and then send to the tent reservation fax numbers (or via email in some cases). Of course, don’t forget to change the Tag/Datum and Alternativtermin to your dates! Also, add your company’s logo, name, and website (if you are comfortable doing so) because tents supposedly treat company reservations more favorably.

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4) Learn basic German. Or lots of Google Translate :)

Don’t worry, I got you. Using the example above will get you most of the way there. But then, the tables start faxing you back. And emailing. And snail mailing. And then suddenly you are like WTF does this say???

When emailing a reservation request: Please, I want to make a reservation for twenty. How much does it cost?  >> Bitte, ich möchte eine Reservierung für zwanzig zu machen. Was kostet es?

When specifying the day you want a table:


When you get an autoamted “we received your request” email: Your reservation request is stored by us as follows >> hre Reservierungs-Anfrage ist wie folgt bei uns gespeichert

When you get assigned a Customer Number: Kunden-Nr.

When you get turned down: We are therefore not able to meet all reservation requests. We regret that we can not therefore confirm your reservation request. >> Es ist uns deshalb nicht möglich, alle Reservierungswünsche zu erfüllen. Zu unserem Bedauern können wir daher auch Ihre Reservierungsanfrage nicht bestätigen.

When you get a table: Enclosed you will receive your reservation confirmation in all the details on… Your reservation are included. >> Anbei erhalten Sie Ihre Reservierungsbestätigung, in der alle Details zu… Ihrer Reservierung enthalten sind.

When you have forms to fill out: Please send us the forms in full >> Bitte senden Sie uns die Formulare vollständig zurück.

But really, you should just befriend someone that knows German and have them help you when you start getting reservation confirmation forms.

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5) Wire money to Germany. Sorry, no Venmo.

This was the scary part for me because I really had no idea which bank to wire money to, although the bank is specified on the form (I’ll explain). And both times I procrastinated so I was afraid that the money wouldn’t get there on time, since wire transfers can take up to 72 hours to hit the books. You’ll need to know the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) & BIC (Bank Identifier Code). At one point, I used this IBAN calculator website which really sketched me out but somehow worked. If you’re lucky, the tent will tell you exactly where to send money: “HypoVereinsbank München, Kto.-Nr. 6 020 162 838, BLZ 700 202 70, IBAN: DE11 7002 0270 6020 1628 38 · SWIFT (BIC): HYVEDEMMXXX”. Sometimes they won’t include the BIC or IBAN and you need to track it down.

6) Know where to collect your vouchers.

For one tent, we had to go to a specific hotel near the train station and pick up the vouchers. For another tent, we were able to pick up the vouchers the day before our reservation onsite. Each tent is different so make sure you bring that German-reading friend of yours along. :)

7) Dress up!!!

There are a few second hand shops selling trachten (lederhosen & dirndl) in Munich and surrounding cities. You can also buy online (eBay, Etsy, etc). Luckily a co-worker who had previously been to Oktoberfest lent me her authentic dirndl. You must wear a legit dirndl and lederhosen. It’s just not the same if you go in normal clothes. It’s fun. Trust me on this.

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8) Ride the rides!

Another thing you’ve got to trust me on. If you are saving money, pick one or two rides that go up high so you can get a bird’s eye view of the whole fairgrounds. Also, walk around at night and take pictures of the rides all lit up. Magical. You’re welcome.

9) Stick with your group. You will get drunk, so have a plan in place.

10) Eat all the food. Drink all the drinks. Sing! Dance! Make friends!

Any questions about Oktoberfest? Who’s been? Who wants to go?

-Lauren

Ringing in the New Year, with 16 of our favorite people

Posted by Lauren

Ok, since starting to blog again I’ve used four posts to cover Thanksgiving to Christmas… and you KNOW what’s next (plus, I mentioned it in the title)… New Year’s! After an eventful year-end at work (including a fun happy hour on 12/30), I woke up for 6 AM bar on New Year’s Eve. Gotta tuck, tuck, tuck before partying all night, right? After class we packed up the car and drove to Sacramento, where we picked up Kerry and Matt. Two hours later, we arrived here…

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This lovely cabin in South Lake Tahoe was perfect for our group. We divvied up the bed assignments and decided to head into town for drinks/food. There were good reviews on Yelp for The Brewery, so we gave it a shot.

Unfortunately the 30 min wait quote turned into an hour, and then when we finally sat down (they separated our group of 9 into two tables in different rooms), our waiter took about an hour to take our order/deliver drinks. He didn’t even say if food was on its way and 1/2 of our group hadn’t eaten anything all day! Yikes. All in all, we won’t be back and we wouldn’t recommend for groups.

We went back to the cabin and played a few drinking games….

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Surprise of the night goes to Nicole. After working all day on the 31st, she was going to spend the night at home and wake up early to drive to Tahoe. Instead, she drove up to Tahoe with her boyfriend THAT night and made it before the countdown. It was awesome!! Nicole is assimilating into my college friend group which is basically the greatest thing ever.

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We kept celebrating as the midnight countdown drew near…..

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Just because you’re in a cabin doesn’t mean you can’t dress up!

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Ari, Nicole, Me, Kerry, Krizia

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(Most of) The Crew… Vic, Maria, Kyle, Ellie, Matt, Ari, Andrew, Clay, Kyle, Ian, Nicole, Chase, Tyler, Krish, Kerry!

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One of those selfies that rivals Ellen’s. Lucky for us, Ari has really long arms!

Also lucky for Kerry who, on the morning of New Year’s Day, found the hidden coin in her slice of Ari’s homemade vasilopita (greek tradition: cake made for new years with a hidden coin baked inside; finder has good luck for the year). Lucky ducky! tahoe06tahoed1

I’m not sure why this photo below is relevant, but we look pretty cute. :) We spent a lot of cabin time on the couch, in our PJs….

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But we tried to get outside to enjoy the snow too! On New Years we went sledding outside our cabin….

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Darren & Kitra (newlyweds!)

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Victor & Maria (newlyweds!)

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Kerry & Krish (NOT newlyweds! haha)

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Clay, Darren, Andrew

After sledding we did something…. maybe watch football? (there was a LOT of football). Then we enjoyed a delicious HOMEMADE lasagna dinner, courtesy of Kitra and Darren. HOLY MOLY it was so goooooood. After dinner we played the most epic game of Baseball ever. First, we split the cabin into two teams: Nor Cal vs. So Cal. Up until the 7th inning stretch Team Nor Cal had a hefty lead. Then, Kerry’s lucky coin rubbed off on the So Cal team and they came back with an epic 9th inning, including a walk-off home run.

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It. Was. Awesome. After that we hailed two cabs and went to Harrah’s so the guys could gamble.

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Tyler left the craps table with a good chunk of change and the other guys….. didn’t do too bad. I think. We also had fun on the slots, especially when Ian won about $80 on the penny machine. You better bet we hooted and hollered as if he won $8,000.

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The next morning we had an early wake up call for a group photo. (Nicole took it, thank you!) But really, we had to get going so that half the group could hit the slopes at Heavenly.

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Since we brought our gear, Kyle and I were able to get a few runs in before the rest of the group arrived on the mountain. We also had time for a suuuuper sunny/squinty selfie. That lake tho.

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Then we found the group! There was pretty much one (fun) skiable run that was open. So we did that over and over and over. It was also nice stopping at lunchtime to soak up the sun :)

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Kyle K.

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Clay

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Victor (lol)

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Tyler

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Matt

Around 4 pm Kyle and I went back to the cabin and jumped into the hot tub where Kerry, Krish, Ian, Nicole, and Chase had been happily stewin for most of the day. Then Ari came out and took the funniest picture of the whole trip. HAHAHAH love this.

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That night we ordered takeout from Hunan Garden which was really smart because we were 1) getting sick of pizza rolls and tortilla chips and 2) Clay loves Chinese food (mostly Panda Express though) and 3) we needed a good base before playing round after round of Asshole and King’s Cup. Things got interesting when we set a rule for breaking the ring-of-cards… ;)

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The next morning (Sunday) a few of us drove to the lake… you know, LAKE TAHOE. The coolest thing was happening 30 feet away from the “beach” — the rim of the lake was freezing! You could walk out on to the frozen ice layer and see it cracking at the edges. Chunks of ice would float in and out. It was really entertaining! tahoec2tahoec3

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…..And good for photos :)

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That night we all went out for sushi at Samurai (there were only 8 of us left) and then finished the night with Jenga. Who doesn’t love Jenga?! So suspenseful.

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And that’s how Nicole and I spent New Years with 16 of our favorite people. Looking forward to everything in 2015!

How was your New Years? What was the best part?

A real white Chirstmas and figure skating skills

Posted by Lauren

On Christmas afternoon I flew to Denver to spend the weekend with Kyle and his family. Although the forecast called for snow in Denver, it was my first flight through LAX that almost delayed the trip by a day.

I just looked up the odds of a “White Christmas” online because I was curious…. turns out that there’s a 14% chance it will snow in Denver on Christmas and that the 3.4″ snowfall this Christmas was the 3rd largest amount Denver’s seen since 1882. Pretty neat!

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Kyle picked me up from the airport and we drove the ~1 hour to Evergreen where his parents live. We had some late night apple/pumpkin pie and exchanged gifts before falling asleep. That ^^^ is the view we woke up to. Breathtaking!!

On the 26th we drove back into Denver and grabbed drinks at Wynkoop Brewing Company downtown. Kyle and I shared their 5 brew sampler, both agreeing that “Patty’s Chile Beer” (golden ale with anaheim and ancho chilies) was our favorite. You’ve got to try it. Seriously.

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After a round at Wynkoop we walked across the street to the updated Union Station to check things out. It was still snowing!! :)

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Kyle’s parents were explaining how this entire area used to be really rundown with abandoned rail yards and decrepit buildings. Ever since Wynkoop moved in (1988) the area has seen a lot of growth and redevelopment. Union Station had a slick bar (Terminal), modern food “stalls”, cute boutiques, and an ice cream/coffee place I was seriously creepin’ on.

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We then walked over to Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest and most historic block (the block’s history is so interesting!). We popped in and out of the boutique shops before grabbing a table at Rio Grande for a quick bite to eat.

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And by “quick bite to eat”, I also mean a delicious margarita! MMMmmmm

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We said goodbye to Kyle’s parents and went over to Kyle’s high school friends’ annual get-together. Over the past few years I’ve had a few opportunities to hang out with his HS crew and they are so nice and funny! This year we had an epic game of Heads Up and Catchphrase to finish the night. Such a good time :)

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And then we drove back and it was freeeeeezing. Like really. It was -1* when we reached the house!

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On the 27th we went ice skating on Evergreen Lake (we = Kyle, his mom, his sister, and sister’s bf). Last year it was lightly snowing, but this year we had nothing but blue skies. Which means, you’ve got to take a selfie, am I right?

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen Kyle’s ridiculous “figure skating” moves. He thinks he’s a legit pro. We all think he’s a pro at jazz hands. I’ll try to embed in WordPress but if it doesn’t work, click here to see his moves.

he’s a little rusty this year // #evergreen #colorado #iceskating @kyledozeman

A video posted by Lauren O (@laurenolerich) on

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That night, we went over to Kyle’s sister’s house to hang out with the little ones. Graham is a ball of energy and Lena is growing up so fast! We played with the monster trucks, planes, and ponies… and enjoyed takeout Chinese food. It was so good to see everyone in Kyle’s family this trip! Never enough time though!

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On the morning of the 28th, we packed up our stuff, grabbed a yummy breakfast from Dandelion’s Cafe in Evergreen with Kyle’s parents, and then went to the [crazybusy] airport. Such a great trip, can’t wait to go back!

Next up: NYE in Tahoe!!!

-Lauren

Colorado Chillin’

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Posted by Lauren

Facts:

1. Right now I’m flipping the channel between Bachelor in Paradise and the Emmys (equal levels of classy, yes?).
2. I finished a 5 mile run after work. I really should do that more often!!! Ahhhh it felt SO good.
3. My phone has NO SPACE left, so naturally I’ve got to move all my photos to my computer…..
4. ….which means now I can blog about things. (Do other people seriously import photos daily for their blogs?!)

Last weekend I jetted over to Colorado with Kyle. We were long overdue for a visit to his family!

We arrived late Friday night and grabbed dinner in Golden, CO at Woody’s with Kyle’s parents who kindly picked us up from the airport!

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In some ways, this family owned pizza joint reminded me of Woodstock’s in SLO. (Maybe it was the name connection?!) They had complimentary popcorn, a great beer selection, and really friendly service. Kyle and I split the California pizza (sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, mozzarella, spinach, garlic) and a burger with mushrooms + fresh jalapeños. I was so hungry and Woody’s hit the spot.

Saturday morning we hung out around Kyle’s parents’ house and then ventured over to Red Rocks for a walk. One day we’ll plan a trip that includes watching someone perform at the amphitheater. Definitely a Colorado bucket list item.

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Sooooooo pretty. We drove to the downtown area of Morrison and scoped out a few potential dinner spots for the following night. The cute little “downtown” area is flanked by Bear Creek, with a few streams (like the one below) lining the side streets.

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On our way back to Evergreen, we stopped for a farmer’s market palisade peach (it was raining at this point!) and picked up an ice cream cake for that evening. We got back to Kyle’s parents’ house early afternoon and spent the time leading up to dinner playing with Graham and Lena, Kyle’s nephew and niece. Graham is a riot — he showed me all the special cactuses, checked out the treehouse with me, and then we looked at lots and lots and lots of ants. HAHA

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I want a treehouse. And I want Pete Nelson to make it.

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Lena is about 6 months old and just so beautiful. It was great to finally meet her and yes, we had a “whose cheeks are bigger” contest. I lost miserably. She looks adorable in her new purple beanie!

We finished the night with a tasty ice cream cake (choc cake + cookies and cream ice cream) and then, once Kyle’s sisters and BIL went home, we sat outside near the fire pit with his parents. It was then that I learned we’d need to wake up at 5 am for our hike the following morning. WHA! 5 am on a Sunday?

Alright alright alright, 5 am for a 14er is doable. :)

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After a quick all-terrain drive to the trail head, we set off for the 14,278 foot pinnacle of Gray’s Peak. Elevation and me aren’t that good of friends, but if you put one foot in front of the other enough times you’ll gradually make it to the top :)

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View from the halfway point ^^^

“Extensive views stretch south to Pike’s Peak and the San Luis Valley, east to the Great Plains, West to Silverthorne, and north to Longs Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park” (thanks Wikipedia)

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Views from the top ^^^

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What you can’t tell from this picture is that the winds were howling at 40 mph or so. Freezing! At least it wasn’t as windy as the first 14er we did (Bierstadt), last October. Instead of eating brunch at the top, we snapped a few photos and then walked down the mountain for wind cover.

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Turns out, walking down at 14k feet is a whole lot easier than walking up. The 7-mile roundtrip hike took us about 4 hours including stops to gasp for air. We ate our PB&J sandwiches in the car and headed back to Evergreen a little earlier than planned thanks to our speedy descent.

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We also decided to make 14er-climbing a tradition.There are 53 in Colorado so…. only 51 more trips to the Rocky Mountain Empire!

I had to quickly draft a fantasy football team at noon (btw I’m really pleased with my selections!) and then we were off to grab drinks/food in Morrison.

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Wine flight @ Flights = best place ever for wine lovers. Plus, their charcuterie plate had some clever meat and cheese combinations going on.

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Dinner was at the latin bistro, Beso de Arte (just a few doors down)

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We split the crab empanadas (note: their tapas are actually not tapas – they’re big apps!)

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For my main, I opted for the prosciutto-wrapped scallops, with fresh arugula, grilled watermelon, and a quinoa pilaf.

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I really enjoyed this dish and it satisfied the salty cravings following our high-elevation hike. The prosciutto + scallop combo reminded me of the flub on Food Network Star where a contestant claimed she used serrano ham but was fooling everyone with prosciutto.

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Don’t ever try to fool Alton Brown. Giada might fall for it though.

Anyways, we had a great time hanging out with Kyle’s family, especially getting more time with Graham and Lena. Already looking forward to the next trip out there!

-Lauren