Why follow a compass that's lost? The Lost Compass is for people who can't stop travelling, who always seek out the next destination. It's for those who'd rather take a backroad than the Interstate; who wonder what happens when you get off the beaten path and look up an odd nook or cranny. It's about finding the little gems, wherever they may be hidden. It is for those who embrace travel as an experience - not stopping just at a tourist trap, but finding a local cafe, bookstore, or dive bar to stop and talk to the people who make up the town. What happens when the compass' needle spins off you the beaten path? Keep reading to find out.

29 January 2012

Sidetracked - Figo Pasta / Osteria del Figo, Atlanta, GA

If you haven't checked out this bastion of pasta love, my friend you simply have not experienced all that is wonderful in Atlanta.  I found the Figo in Vinings on the northwest side of town when I lived there back in 2009... and went to Figo at least once every two weeks.  (That should tell you something... in a city to make any foodie's heart quiver with all the temptations and delights, that I should go there at least a dozen times in four months tells you just how delicious this place is.)  I'd visited again in 2010 and was disappointed, because the pasta was not well cooked - all glued together and a bit chewier than al dente.  However, I had to give it another shot because this is seriously the best pasta I've eaten outside of Italy.  And I'm so glad I did.  The chain is an Atlanta staple, with locations scattered everywhere from downtown to Alpharetta.

23 January 2012

Daytrippin' Raleigh - Rembrandt and Craic make for a good Saturday

This past Saturday was a dreary, gray mess of a January day.  I'd texted a friend to see if she wanted to go up to Raleigh and hit the Rembrandt in America exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art and maybe hit TraLi Irish Pub afterwards so I could use the Groupon that expires in a couple days.  This was the last weekend to see it and I hadn't yet been there.  The blog demands it!  Right?  :)  She texted me after we both spent lazy mornings sleeping in, and we agreed to meet around noon.  Oh, and was it okay if she brought her hubby, who is my coworker and good friend, as well?  Yay!  A gang!  So I piled into their Jeep and up we went to Raleigh.

20 January 2012

Weekend jaunt - Montgomery, AL

I know...  Montgomery, AL, isn't typically the most glamorous place for a weekend trip.  And I have a personal like/dislike relationship with the area, due to a visit I hadn't planned on extending a few years ago.  However, with my husband there for training, I bit the bullet and hopped in the car to see what I could find.

The view of the Capitol from the bottom of the hill on Market Street was pretty amazing.  See?

13 January 2012

A meditation on life well-traveled

I have traveled frequently throughout my life.  My military parents lived in Germany for three years when I grew up; my mom was (and still is) an incredibly wise woman who decided to put me into a German daycare center, where I would have to learn the language quickly!  No English spoken there!  Instead of the standard high school senior trip to Mexico, to get wasted on tequila and make far too many poor decisions, I decided to go with my German class to Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland for two glorious weeks with minimal adult supervision in four amazing countries.  I have spent one semester of college in Vienna, Austria, blessed with a large backpack and a Eurrail pass that allowed me to see eight countries in three months.  I have student-taught in Ansbach, Germany, teaching American military kids during the day and rediscovering the land of my youth at night.  I have been on trips long and short throughout Europe.  I've been to the Middle East for two months, and bounced all over the Caribbean on numerous cruises.  Although I have by NO means explored nearly as much of the world as I would like, I do consider myself pretty well-traveled.  However, I do have to wonder how it has impacted my life and if there is a point where travel becomes too much, when it impacts our life goals in favor of one more masterpiece, one more amazing experience.

An afternoon storm building over the desert

12 January 2012

I was on the radio today!!!!

So there I was, driving through a gorgeous South Carolina afternoon, on the way to visit my hubby for the weekend...  I'd grown a bit bored with my book on tape and switched to the radio for a bit when I heard the preview for a local program on NPR.  Called Your Day, this state-wide program run out of Clemson University was focusing on a locally renowned food writer, restaurant critic, and Cordon Bleu trained chef, Holly Herrick.  Ms. Holly is absolutely amazing - she trained as a journalist, figured out she enjoyed cooking once she moved to a snow-bound Minneapolis, actually MET Julia Child and was told by the Amazing Mrs. Child to spend some time at the Cordon Bleu in France.  She spent seven years there, then bounced around back here in the states as a restaurant critic and food writer.  She actually has a new book out, A Food Lover's Guide to Charleston and Savannah, which I'm pretty sure I'll have to pick up before I travel down there the next time.

So I decided to call in and ask about how to make this blog better.  You can listen HERE!!!  (Go to roughly 37:30 to hear the start of my call.)  Ms. Holly had such great advice!  It was an absolute honor to be able to call in and talk with a professional and for them to let me say the name of this blog a couple different times, so hopefully I could spur a few more visitors to my little corner of the web.

If you can't tell, it's about three hours later and I'm still bouncing up and down worse than my neighbor's brand new puppy.  I'm so stoked!!!  Hooray for NPR!!!!!!!

09 January 2012

Roamin - Ya Ya's European Bistro in Wichita, KS

Whenever I go visit family and friends, no matter where on this planet they happen to be, I love finding a great place to take them as a splurge.  My most recent discovery was in Wichita, KS - home to my beloved in-laws and a fabulous, rather high-end European bistro called Ya Ya's European Bistro.  (Apparently this is a small chain with a restaurant in Denver, Little Rock, Kansas City, and St Louis as well, but for some reason when they came to Wichita, they dropped the "i" in Yia Yia's.)  My friend came to the in-laws house, gushing about this wonderful place (for a not-so-wonderful flop of a date).  I knew this place would be a perfect fit for my treat - well outside of their comfort zone for food, but not too highbrow.  (After all, it is Wichita... right?)  So I announced that I was kidnapping everyone, with my husband's consent, and we all loaded into the car for the ride across town.  There would be six of us total - me, hubs, Mom-in-law, Dad-in-law, and Sis-in-law, and the friend that tipped me off.

04 January 2012

Ladies' Night Out - Raleigh

Ballet and crepes - what could be better?  (Or more girly?)
I'm a huge fan of the arts, especially the ballet.  The Nutcracker is a perennial part of my Christmas, and I've drug my poor husband to more than his fair share of other ballets.  Groupon had a great deal a couple months ago - $25 for two tickets to see Cinderella and ballet set to Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor at the Carolina Ballet.  My husband had to work that night, so I grabbed one of my girlfriends.  She's a ballet rookie - this was her first ballet.  I was shocked that any American girl could grow up without seeing the Nutcracker at least once!  And considering we left early, got to Durham and found the Performing Arts Center (DPAC) only to realize the show was at Memorial Auditorium... we found our seats 10 minutes into the show.  Pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Fayettenam? Bragg-dad? Is that REALLY Fayetteville?

**Updated 1 July 12!**  Look for the purple.  :)

Before I moved to Fayetteville, I heard it all...  Fayettenam...  Fort Braggdad.  I was warned repeatedly that I was moving to the most undesirable, unappealing, unattractive city to grace the fair state of North Carolina.  Most North Carolinians who have been through here without living here remember the pawn stores and strip clubs that line Bragg Blvd, the violence and crime rate, and the generally downtrodden, factory-town atmosphere of a town built by and for the military.