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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

An Old Bear

Saw this sign at a shop in a beach town.

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One year ago today I told my wife I was gay and began this blog. What a year it has been! Over 61,000 blog views, over 1,000 comments and 148 posts.

I know that I made the right decision to come out to my wife and us splitting up was also the right decision for us. Both of my parents have come to accept who I really am and most of my friends have been supportive as well. The following other events occurred over the last year:

The Bad

– My wife made the difficult decision to move to Florida. I continue to miss her and my dogs. Thankfully, she is doing well and seems okay and the divorce preparation has been going well, too. Although extremely difficult, she could not have handled all of this any better

– My grandmother died of Alzheimer’s Disease over the Summer.

The Good

– I was very lucky and found a great boyfriend in Bell Guy a few months after coming out. He moved in with me about six weeks ago and I look forward to many years of continued happiness with him.

– I got promoted twice and have now reached the pinnacle of the career ladder at my company at the age of 31.

– I had the pleasure of chatting with people from all over the world that I have met from this blog. I consider many of you friends, appreciate your support over the last year and look forward to meeting more of you when I have the opportunity. You know who you are.

– I have gotten to do a lot of travel this past year which was great fun.

Looking back, I think the year prior to this one was more difficult for me, as I was making the decision to come out. I am really looking forward to some stability and a “normal” year coming up, as I think most of my challenges are behind me. One goal is to come out to more people as I firmly believe it is important that people see gays as normal people and me coming out will perpetuate that. If every gay person came out, I know we’d be further along in our rights than we are today.

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I am adjusting better to my new life and had a great, although wet, trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto.

Bell Guy and I have each got new cars last weekend. Well, I ordered mine and pick it up tomorrow.

Bell Guy got a silver Acura RDX. A nice upgrade from a Civic and will make for a nice dog-mobile.

I got a Smoky Granite Mica Lexus ES 350. My ES 330 had a lot of miles and was starting to wear a bit.

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Bell Guy is a somewhat early riser and when he tries to be quiet he is generally louder than he would be if he were not trying so hard to be so quiet. I call it him being a bull in a china shop. The bull got up fairly early, made his way through the china shop and then left for the lobby to get his coffee.

He returned an hour or so later and I got up and got ready to go. We had a big day planned: Hancock Observatory, double decker bus tour of the city, Art Institute of Chicago and meet an old friend.

We walked up Michigan Avenue to the John Hancock Building and Observatory where there was only one person selling tickets and she was also answering the phones (why wouldn’t they have more people working on a holiday?). They had an auto ticket machine and, although we had coupons, I became impatient with the line that was not moving and we went and used the machine. The cost was a little more but my blood pressure went down so it was worth it.

The elevator ride to the top is “the fastest in the world” or the “fastest in the US” depending on who is telling you the story. Anyways, it was fast and the view from above was terrific.

We spent awhile at the observatory and waited for some clouds to move so we could get a good view of all four directions.

After departing the observatory, we went and ate at a yummy French bistro a few blocks away. I cannot remember the name of it but we had a nice view of the street and I remember a shirtless guy walking by which grabbed my attention for a moment. He also caused a ruckus at a table of a couple of other gays nearby.

After lunch, it was time for the double decker city tour. Rosita was our tour guide and I thought she did a good job. It was a hop on-hop off tour but we hopped on near the observatory and stayed on for the entire two hour tour.

Wrigley Building with flag for the 4th.

Art somewhere downtown. I'm sure Steven or Justin will remind me where.

Soldier Field. I loved the '85 Bears and Jim McMahon. Hero.

Navy Pier. This was as close to the pier as we got this trip.

We got off the bus back at the observatory and went across the street so Bell Guy could get his free Hershey bar from the Hershey store (bus ticket had a coupon). We quickly ate the chocolate while looking at Bentleys through the windows of the Bentley store down the block. We continued around the corner and found an Italian place that we decided we wanted to eat at later in the trip.

We headed back to the hotel and were able to relax for about an hour or so before meeting one of Bell Guy’s friends at the Art Institute of Chicago. This museum is free on Friday and Saturday evenings. Bruno, Bell Guy’s friend, was quick to find us in the museum. He and Bell Guy were close pals in college but had not seen each other in 8 years! Bruno is a super nice guy and the reunion of the two old farts was nice as well. Bruno gave us an abbreviated tour of the museum, which was huge and had lots of works of art. Next time, I want to go back because it turns out the museum has the famous American Gothic painting and I only realized that after we were leaving. From there, we walked back across the river and ate at a decent restaurant we had found earlier on Open Table. I got to hear all about Bell Guy and Bruno’s “gay adolescence” in college. Bell Guy was quite a character. Wait, he still is.

After dinner, we walked around the Tribune Tower, which has pieces of different buildings from across the world built into the side of it.

Bell Guy and Stone from his Home State of Vermont

Bell Guy at the Tribune Tower and stone from his home state of Vermont.

Wrigley Building from afar.

After walking around a bit more, we were really tired and went back to the hotel around 10pm. Another good day. Has Chicago become my favorite Summer city (right now that title goes to Denver)? Or even my favorite overall city (that title goes to New York)?

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While my wife continues preparations for her impending move out later this month, Bell Guy and I took a trip to Chicago for the long weekend. He had never visited and I had been twice, just for a day each time, but not in ten or twelve years.

Happily our flight landed early and our luggage was landing on the luggage belt as we walked up. We quickly grabbed a cab to the Hyatt Regency and were there without any traffic issues. We were checked in early and the room was nice. The location was great, right downtown at the Chicago River and the Magnificent Mile. We used Priceline and only paid $100/night. The only annoyance were the elevators were packed and slow but that was made up for by the location.

We were starving so we ventured out to find some food. The weather was spectacular and I wore shorts and a light jacket. We walked up the Magnificent Mile, which was only a block from the hotel. We spotted a Grand Lux Cafe after a few minutes and decided to eat there as we had eaten at the Grand Lux Cafe in Las Vegas so we knew the food was good. The food was good and the service outstanding.

After lunch, we made arrangements to meet with Steven from Heterosexually Challenged at Shedd Aquarium. Unfortunately, traffic was horrible due to the Taste of Chicago and everyone coming into the city for the fireworks that night. So, we were unable to meet Steven this trip. It was a long walk from Grand Lux Cafe to Shedd but was worth it. That is the best aquarium that I have been to and I’ve been to many.

We spent a couple of hours at the aquarium before walking back towards the hotel at about 5pm. I changed into some jeans and we tried to decide on a restaurant for dinner, which is a chore because I am too picky.  We went to the concierge and he recommended Tavern at the Park, which was right across the street from the totally awesome Millennium Park. We only had to wait twenty minutes or so and the food, ambiance and service were great. (That is one of a few noticeable differences between Chicago and DC: Service was so much better in Chicago. People were so much nicer in Chicago. Ambulances somehow sound like firetrucks in Chicago.)

Chicago has its big fireworks display on July 3. So, after dinner we crossed the street and waited for the fireworks. We were not in a good area so once they started we moved a bit but then had a great view and did not have to wait around all day to get that great view.

After the fireworks we walked a few blocks back to the hotel and I lamented about how my feet were already hurting after only one day. So were his. We’re so old.

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Travel Tour

Except for a couple local beach trips and my Christmas travel, my travel schedule is about complete for this year. Are Bell Guy and I coming to your city?

April 25-27 Sarasota, FL

July 3-6 Chicago

August 8-13 Toronto

August 29 – September 2 New York City

November 25-29 San Francisco

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Finally a little about my trip to Vegas a couple weeks ago…

The purpose of the trip was for a convention but I went out early with some coworkers that had never been to Vegas. I’d share pics we took but coworker has yet to send them to me so the ones below I lifted from the Internet.

The JetBlue flight was suweet. I somehow snagged exit row seats for us the day of the flight, which made the long flight so much more bearable. Lots of free snacks and Juno was the in-flight movie. While I had seen it, I watched it again because it is such a cute movie.

After selecting the rental car and trying to leave the airport, the guard noticed the license plate was expired so we had to go back and switch cars. This was irritating since it was 2am Eastern time at this point and we were all beat. They said they’d knock some money off the bill for the inconvenience. I’m still waiting.

I stayed most of the trip at the MGM Grand. It is a huge hotel but we were able to find a short cut from our rooms to the lobby via the stairwells. That took some doing and involved getting lost outside in an employee area and getting rescued by a hotel worker at one point but ended up saving time in the long run.

The next day I took the gang to the Hoover Dam. It was incredibly windy that day but was not freezing and the dam was not terribly crowded. If you have yet to see the Hoover Dam in person, you should go at least once. Really is spectacular to think how those men were able to build so many years ago.

hoover.jpg

We ate a late lunch at Claim Jumper, which was so yummy. After lunch we headed to Red Rock Park, which was really beautiful.

nevada-red-rock-canyon.jpg

That night, we went and saw Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere. It was a great show. One scene was so homoerotic I know I had to have been blushing. If you ever have a chance to see a Cirque show, it is worth your time and money. For the record, my favorite is Ka.

The next day we explored The Strip. The hotels never cease to amaze me. Lots of fun and great people watching. I learned how to play video poker and now have a mild addiction. Thankfully one doesn’t lose much playing the nickel machines.

The convention began the following day and was probably the best one I have attended in five years. The sessions were quite informative and I have already implemented some of the ideas I learned about.

Journey was the group performing for Fun Night and totally rocked. Their new lead singer is absolutely amazing. He sounded just like the original lead singer. I think I’d pay to see them again.

Bell Guy arrived that night and I’ll blog about the rest of the trip tomorrow ☺

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