Author Archives: Erica House

I run for the shit miles

April 24th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (11 Comments)

The miles where you are utterly convinced that you aren’t going to make it to the finish line.

Your legs are suddenly made of lead, the sun has never been hotter in your entire life, and you’d cry if you had enough water left in you to form tears.

I run for those moments.

MarathonWhen I think about why I love running so much it has very little to do with the act of putting one foot in front of the other hundreds of times in a row. I love to do things that scare me, that force me into becoming a stronger person. There is a part of me that is legitimately afraid of what may happen on race day. With that fear also comes excitement. So many of us live our lives day in and day out doing the same damn things. Deciding to train for something huge, like a marathon, gives me an escape from the mundane hamster wheel of life. I need that challenge. I spend hours every week for 4 months training for an event that is over in a few hours. Most of the time on race day is pretty good, some of it feels like there’s no way you’ll survive, but then you see the finish line and for a few moments the world stops moving and all that exists is you and a sense of pride so huge that you almost start to float.

Marathon quote

I run because someday I won’t be able to.

I run because a few years ago I couldn’t.

I run because if Terry Fox can run 3,339 miles then I can surely run 26.2 {and if you don’t know who he is you are truly missing out.}

I run for the best moment on race day, and the worst, because I need both of them to become a better version of myself.

marathonWhy do you run?

 

New Orleans: Staying & Playing

April 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (16 Comments)

Frugal traveler Erica likes to think that exploring a new area is primarily about being outside, seeing new sights, and meeting new people. While that is true it doesn’t hurt to have a nice place to come back to after a long day of adventure  in a new city. I am extremely grateful to International House Hotel for providing Christina and I with a room while in New Orleans last weekend and would recommend it without hesitation to anyone wishing to indulge in some New Orleans fun. 2014-04-19 15.05.00International House is located in one of the best parts of New Orleans. It was within walking distance of every restaurant, bar, and activity we wanted to do, but it wasn’t in the totally chaotic part of the French Quarter. We were within a mile of Cafe Du Monde, Harrahs Casino, the Aquarium, Frenchman Street, and virtually every other popular stop for visitors in the city.

The hotel itself was gorgeous. The building was erected in 1906 and first used as a bank, before turning into the first World Trade Center in the world in 1943. In 1998 it was converted into a hotel and was renovated in 2007.
2014-04-19 13.49.51Me and my pimp chair. 2014-04-19 14.00.38-2 2014-04-19 13.52.12

Our room opened up to this terrace and we had the most spectacular view of the city!

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As for the playing we did while in New Orleans I wanted to make a quick stop into Harrahs Casino since Christina had never been into one before (and this was only my second time and both times were at Harrahs.) We pulled out some cash there, thank you $5 convenience fee, and lost it all on the penny slots within 20 minutes. It took us a while how to figure the stupid machines and we left $10 poorer and with smoke filled clothes. It was still a fun experience and I’m glad we were able to stop in. Next time I need to bring some lucky charms or something.
2014-04-19 19.17.22Sunday morning I woke up around 6:30 and decided to kill some time in the hotel gym before breakfast. I was surprised to see the gym was like a mini art museum! There are 8 glass tiles surrounding the fitness center that have each been imprinted with the face of a student at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
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I hopped on the elliptical for a while and listened to a podcast by Rich Roll and followed it up with some upper body strength. I love, love, love being able to keep up healthy habits while traveling and appreciate hotels that make it easy for me to do. 2014-04-20 06.38.59-2We grabbed a small breakfast the hotel provided downstairs on our way out and took a peek around the hotel bar – Loa. The bar’s creative director, Alan Walter, is a bit of a local celebrity and renowned mixologist. I read this great piece on him by Southern Living before we got to the city and was blown away by the attention to detail and unique flavors he incorporates into the drinks.
2014-04-20 07.55.25Before leaving town I wanted to stop by Marie Laveau’s grave. Last year while I was in the city my friend Elaine tried to take me there but the cemetery was closed. Legend has it that if you draw three “X’s” on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, and yell out your wish that it will come true. Elaine, who lived in New Orleans for a few years, didn’t do that but did leave her an offering one day and asked for a wish. A short time later her wish was granted so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try! I left a shell that I found in the cemetery and a penny. Not the greatest offerings but after 2 years of trying (and about 2 miles of walking that day) I hope my effort will count for something!2014-04-20 09.14.00See those stains on the ground in front of the tomb? That’s from chicken blood. We heard the cemetery tour guide telling the group he was with that local voodoo practitioners will often come and sacrifice chickens in front of the tomb still. During Halloween season there are so many sacrifices/offerings left on a daily basis that you can’t even walk around the tomb. 2014-04-20 09.17.10Our final stop before heading home was Magazine street to walk around for a bit and grab lunch at Whole Foods. This area of town is, by far, my absolute favorite part of New Orleans. It’s filled with boutiques, cute restaurants, and locals. It’s devoid of all French Quarter craziness and offers up the charm that New Orleans is famous for. 2014-04-20 10.41.29I had such an incredible time in the city and cannot thank International House Hotel enough for helping making this trip possible! I will definitely be back again soon – perhaps for a Rock N Roll Marathon in January or the Half Ironman in April. Yes, I said it. Half Ironman.
2014-04-19 13.51.00What is your favorite city to visit? 

New Orleans: Eating & Drinking

April 21st, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (24 Comments)

In the last 48 hours I’ve run an unofficial half marathon and driven to New Orleans and back. It’s been an incredible weekend! I left town Saturday morning after my last run before my marathon this weekend and hit the road for a girl getaway to New Orleans. Today I’ll be sharing some of the great restaurants and bars we went to and tomorrow I’ll fill you in on all the fun places we visited and the incredible hotel we stayed at.

Before I left town I packed up a small cooler of snacks and drinks. I know how easy it can be to start relying on fast food/junk food when on the road so I tried to be prepared and armed myself with healthy snacks and a few things I could have for a makeshift lunch/breakfast if need be. I was also trying to keep my spending to a minimum and bringing some food from home definitely helped. 2014-04-18 18.47.33-2After we checked in our first stop was The Court of Two Sisters. It wasn’t on our ‘must do’ list but we wandered in after walking around the French Quarter for a little bit. I ordered a drink called “Gone with the Wind” that was possibly the strongest drink of my life. The title was quite appropriate.  
2014-04-19 15.29.44-3Christina had not been to the Carousel Bar so we swung by there to see if we could snag a seat at the bar. The first time we tried they were slammed, but on our second attempt two seats opened up right after we walked in. The bar is one of the most popular in New Orleans as it actually spins around the whole time. Very slowly, but enough that we were both a bit dizzy the first few minutes. I had an amazing tequila basil cocktail and Christina kept it classy with a French Connection. They put out little bowls of chex mix whenever you order a drink and after our third refill we realized we were the only girls at the bar going to town on the free chex mix. No shame. 
2014-04-19 15.13.37-1For dinner we planned  to go to Napoleon House. The buildings first resident was the Mayor of New Orleans from 1812-1815. During that time he offered his house to Napoleon when he was in exile, and while Napoleon never actually made it over the name of the house stuck around. I had been there once before and loved the atmosphere and extremely reasonable food prices.  
2014-04-19 16.26.53-1I rarely drink but since I was in New Orleans (and walking everywhere that night) I wanted to have fun with trying all new cocktails. This one was a Pimms Cup (traditional New Orleans drink) with the addition of Ginger Beer. Christina and I both got one and agreed it was the best drink we had while in the city. 
2014-04-19 16.43.25I was in the mood to munch so I ordered the cheese plate (not pictured: huge bowl of bread that was promptly demolished.) I let Christina have the pepperoni, and the apple and cheese that touched the pepperoni. The cheese was okay – not the fun higher end stuff I like to get at wine bars, more like regular cheese you’d get at a grocery store.
2014-04-19 16.49.08After dinner we walked over to Frenchman street which is just outside of the French Quarter and has substantially less drunken tourists. It used to be more of a ‘locals’ spot but now so many tourists know about it its loosing a bit of its offbeat charm. The bars there are still worlds better than the one’s you find in the Quarter. Much more laid back vibe, better music, better food. We stopped into The Maison and got seated at a table right away. There was a live band there that was absolutely incredible and we ordered our last round of drinks for the night. There also may have been garlic fries involved. With ranch. (The best ranch dressing in the world according to the unofficial ranch expert I was with.) 2014-04-19 20.29.36We started to make our way back to the hotel and what do you know – we happened to walk right past Cafe Du Monde! Okay, I may have planned it that way. Cafe Du Monde is the one tourist thing that every single tourist really should do while they are in town. Open 24 hours a day they are famous for their beignets – light fried pastries drenched in powdered sugar. Christina and I started to walk past and debated on just going back to the hotel, then decided we really had to stop and at least share an order. 2014-04-19 21.32.28-2We ended up getting an order each (smart move) and someone ordered some hot chocolate with her’s to dip them in (smarter move.)
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2014-04-19 21.31.55-1If we look tired in those photos it’s because we definitely were. We had been eating, drinking, and walking around the city since 2:30 and by the time we made our final stop at Cafe du Monde it was about 10 p.m. Yes, that means we were back at the hotel and ready for bed before 11! I knew before leaving town Saturday morning that I didn’t wan to drink so much, or stay out so late, that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the second day in the city. Look at us acting like responsible adults.

I even went out of my way to wear comfortable shoes for walking.

Is there a tourist trap in your town that’s actually worth going to? Or one that’s super lame and over-hyped?