From Raleigh To Philly With Love

Chinatown Bus
#TBT My 19-year-old self scared on the Chinatown Bus

Last weekend, I visited the city of Philadelphia for the first time! Prior to this trip, my only experience with Philly had been peering out the window of the sketchy Chinatown Bus on the way to New York City in 2006. Needless to say, I was a little skeptical about what this city would have to offer. It only took an extra thirty-six hours, but I’m now a Philadelphia-phile!

Ben and I made our way up to Philly to spend quality time with friends (Julie, Rob & their pup, Sadie – see more of sweet Sadie on my latest Instagram picstitch!) in the city and celebrate our cousin’s wedding just outside the city. We did not have much time, but our hosts showed true “Brotherly Love” and gave us a wonderful snapshot of the city.

Philadelphia SkylineTheir  apartment building is within walking distance to Rittenhouse Square. And as we all know, the best way to get the true experience of a city is to take to it by foot, so eastward we went toward Independence Hall.

Philadelphia Mural

On our walk, I noticed that Philadelphia is peppered with unique murals which add character and dimension to the streetscape. A walk is never boring  when there are puppy murals to admire.

In addition to these splashes of unexpected art, many of the streets are adorned with intricate architecture that help paint the picture of America’s history. Even in my own city, I can be found pointing and looking up in awe at the detailed reliefs, styling, and shape of buildings. My habit was no different in Philadelphia as we passed gorgeous Federal and Colonial residential architecture embellished with charming window boxes and urban landscaping.
Philadelphia Residential Architecture

After pausing for an obligatory photo opp in front of Independence Hall, we continued to the Delaware River Front where we were met with the most clever pop-up park! Furnished with hammocks,  lounge chairs, shuffleboard, twinkly lights, and even giant Legos, the Spruce Street Harbor Park extends the perfect backdrop for a summer day. Along with the outdoor fun, there were also shipping containers converted into snack bars and arcades.

This park sparked some ideas that could translate to Raleigh’s own park possibilities. Raleighites already value the potential of unused shipping containers (especially if it involves beer), which we demonstrated earlier this summer in the form of a pop-up beer garden, Wanderbox. Despite the fact that downtown Raleigh doesn’t have an anchoring water feature, a Spruce Street Harbor Park-esque boardwalk with family-friendly activities would totally benefit Raleigh’s urban park scene, whether pop-up or permanent.

Spruce Street Harbor Park Hammocks Spruce Street Harbor Park Boardwalk Adirondack Chair in Philly!After our stroll through the park and a yummy lunch at an Irish pub, we capped off the afternoon with some ice cream! The Franklin Fountain reminded me of a shop in Wisconsin that I love called J. Lauber’s. The Franklin Fountain, PhiladelphiaI hope the next trend in frozen confectioneries will be the revival of these wholesome and nostalgic ice cream parlors! Who needs froyo when you can have a hot fudge sundae?

Even though I only caught a glimpse of Philly, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our trip. We’ll be back in December for a second fun-Philled weekend and another cousin’s wedding. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this video I took on Sunday morning before brunch at Parc. While walking down South Broad Street, I was honored to have the chance to witness the evolution of Philadelphia’s skyline as a helicopter airlifted letters off of the One South Broad building, informally known as the PNB Building. (Don’t worry – the removal of these letters was approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission!)


A Breaking Bad Tour of Albuquerque

In this day and age, preparing for a special occasion can include coming up with a hash tag to use on social media. Not only does this hash tag provide a “brand” for the event, but it helps keep track of all of the Instagrams and Tweets the people in your party post to the web! I was very excited to come up with a hash tag for our winter vacation (it’s the little things in life, isn’t it?). We decided on #pritchettsbreakbad because it defined our final destination of ABQ. But I think it also of mirrors the spontaneity of the entire trip, which we are not necessarily known for! 🙂

We flew into Las Vegas Christmas night and over the course of a few days made appearances at the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and among the red rocks of Sedona before ending up in Albuquerque for a self-guided tour of Breaking Bad filming locations. You may call us crazy/obsessive fans, and I may agree with you but ABQ is the Hollywood of critically-acclaimed, Emmy award winning television!

Before leaving for our vacation, I created a Google Custom Map with all of the locations we wanted to check out. Making a custom map is really easy and fun! I made one previously for Historic Raleigh Sites. Since many people have already done the Breaking Bad “tour”, there was a lot of info out there to help us research exact addresses. The Breaking Bad Wiki was also very helpful! Here’s our final map (I hope to improve upon it for future BB tourists – still needs some cleaning up):

Using Ben’s Android smart phone, we navigated all over New Mexico’s largest metropolis to see the sites! Here’s a brief (seriously, we saw A LOT of sites) pictorial review of Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque. If you are as much of a super fan as I am, you will instantly recognize these locations and be able to remember the scenes, but I’ve included AMC screenshots for reference! I also need to apologize for the quality of some of the photos – I took a few out the car window (plus I don’t have the skills nor the means that cinematographer Michael Slovis has).

WARNING: I can’t promise that the following doesn’t contain spoilers, but I’ll try to steer clear 😉

A1A Car Wash | Octopus Car Wash
A1A Car Wash | Octopus Car Wash
A1A Car Wash, Abiquiú - AMC
A1A Car Wash | Episode Shown Here: Abiquiú | Debuts in Pilot
Jesse Pinkman's House
Jesse Pinkman’s House | Another BB Tourist took our picture!
Jesse Pinkman's House - AMC
Jesse Pinkman’s House | Episode Shown Here: Caballo Sin Nombre | Debuts in Pilot
The White Residence
The White Residence
The White Residence - AMC
The White Residence | Debuts in Pilot
Crossroads Motel - "The Crystal Palace"
Crossroads Motel – “The Crystal Palace”
Crossroads Motel - "The Crystal Palace"
Crossroads Motel – “The Crystal Palace”
Crossroads Motel - "The Crystal Palace" | Wendy's Residence - AMC
Crossroads Motel – “The Crystal Palace” | Episode Shown Here: …and the Bag’s in the River | Featured throughout series
Schrader Residence
Schrader Residence
Schrader Residence - AMC
Schrader Residence | Episode Shown Here: Seven Thirty-Seven | Featured throughout series
The Dog House
The Dog House
The Dog House, Seven Thirty-Seven - AMC | Also shown in Crazy Handful of Nothin' and Blood Money
The Dog House | Episode Shown Here: Seven Thirty-Seven | Also shown in Crazy Handful of Nothin’ & Blood Money
Tuco's Headquarters
Tuco’s Headquarters
Tuco's Headquarters, Crazy Handful of Nothin' - AMC
Tuco’s Headquarters | Episode Shown Here: Crazy Handful of Nothin’
Jesse & Jane's Apartment | A very nice neighbor took our picture!
Jesse & Jane’s Apartment | A very nice neighbor took our picture!
Jesse & Jane's Apartment, Breakage - AMC
Jesse & Jane’s Apartment | Episode Shown Here: Breakage | Featured throughout Season 2
Beneke Fabricators
Beneke Fabricators
Beneke Fabricators - AMC
Beneke Fabricators | Debuts in Negro y Azul
Saul Goodman's Office
Saul Goodman’s Office
Saul Goodman's Office - AMC
Saul Goodman’s Office | Debuts in Better Call Saul
Combo's Corner
Combo’s Corner
Combo's Corner
Combo’s Corner


Combo's Corner, Mandala - AMC
Combo’s Corner | Episode Shown Here: Mandala
Combo's Corner, Abiquiú - AMC
Combo’s Corner | Episode Shown Here: Abiquiú
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos - AMC | Debuts in Mandala, featured throughout season 2, 3 & 4
Los Pollos Hermanos | Debuts in Mandala, featured throughout season 2, 3 & 4
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos, No Mas - AMC
Los Pollos Hermanos | Episode Shown Here: No Mas
Million Dollar Deal | De Anza Motel
Million Dollar Deal | Motel de Anza
Motel de Anza, Mandala - AMC
Motel de Anza | Episode Shown Here: Phoenix
Lavanderia Brillante | Delta Laundry
Lavanderia Brillante | Delta Laundry
Lavandería Brillante
Lavanderia Brillante – Superlab | Debuts in Más, featured throughout season 3 & 4
Lazer Base
Lazer Base
Lazer Base, Full Measures - AMC | Debuts in Abiquiu, also featured in Hazard Pay
Lazer Base | Episode Shown Here: Full Measures | Debuts in Abiquiu, also featured in Hazard Pay
4th level of Copper St. Parking Deck
4th level of Copper St. Parking Deck
Gus Fring walking toward his car in End Times - AMC
Gus Fring walking toward his car | Episode Shown Here: End Times
Casa Tranquila | Medical Complex
Casa Tranquila | Medical Complex
Casa Tranquila, Face Off - AMC | Gus visits Hector prior to this episode
Casa Tranquila | Episode Shown Here: Face Off | Gus visits Hector here prior to this episode
Denny's, Live Free or Die - AMC
Denny’s | Episode Shown Here: Live Free or Die
Vamanos Pest | An auto mechanic shop
Vamanos Pest | An auto mechanic shop
Vamanos Pest - AMC | Debuts in Hazard Pay, featured throughout season 5.1
Vamanos Pest | Debuts in Hazard Pay, featured throughout season 5, part 1
Cafe where Lydia meets with associates | Grove Cafe & Market - very delicious!
Cafe where Lydia meets with associates | Grove Cafe & Market – very delicious!
Cafe, Gliding Over All - AMC | Featured throughout season 5, part 1 & 2
Cafe | Episode Shown Here: Gliding Over All | Featured throughout season 5, part 1 & 2
Extractor Pick-up Location | John B Robert Dam
Disappearer Pick-up Location | John B Robert Dam
Extractor Pick-up Location, Confessions - AMC | Also featured in Ozymandias
Disappearer Pick-up Location | Episode Shown Here: Confessions | Also featured in Ozymandias
Civic Plaza
Civic Plaza
Civic Plaza, Rabid Dog - AMC
Civic Plaza | Episode Shown Here: Rabid Dog


To'hajiilee - AMC
To'hajiilee - AMC
To’hajiilee | Episode Shown Here: Ozymandias

Best Quality Vacuum Repair | On the Spot Vacuum Repair

Best Quality Vacuum Repair | On the Spot Vacuum Repair
Best Quality Vacuum Repair, Granite State - AMC
Best Quality Vacuum Repair | Episode Shown Here: Granite State


Facebook Notes, Revisited

How many times has Facebook changed in the last 7 years?  Ok, how many times has Facebook changed in the last 7 days?  A lot.  Hey, Zuckerburg’s gotta keep up with the Kardashians, too!  If the Kardashians were programmers.  And advertisers.  Oh wait, they are advertisers.  Anyway.  There was once a time when users could write notes on Facebook.  Something reminiscent of a LiveJournal (the original depressing status update).  I think I wrote about three notes in its heyday.  Two of which were so-called “chain notes” where you answer questions like “What was your favorite pudding flavor in 4th grade?” and the people you tag in the note are supposed to answer the same questions.  Wow.  The other note was written pre-Hilgs House and I was too naive and frightened to start a blog at the time.  So I thought, what better time than now (can’t think of something else to write about at the moment) to respond to my 22 year old self!  Ay, caramba.  Please find my 25 year old self’s comments in italics.

August 13, 2009 | NYC: The good, the bad, and the ugly

As I depart the fine city of New York and attempt to take back Raleigh, I have decided to compile a list of what I have loved about New York and the things that I have not so much loved and share that info with you all. So here it goes!

The Good:

  • Food trucks: Mister Softee, Sabrett (hot dogs!), Halal, and Greek food trucks. If you are having a craving for any of these items while in Manhattan just squint your eyes and one will be in reach, I guarantee it!  You will continue to stand by Sabrett. So much, so that when ordering a hot dog on Glenwood, a patron of Hibernian Pub will shout at you from the patio expressing his disgust.  I’m sorry… I’m not sorry!  Street Meat is where it’s at.  Later, you will find yourself driving to a parking lot in the middle of RTP to pay $5 for a “gourmet” cheeseburger from a food truck.  My how times have changed.
  • Delivery boys on bikes: These guys have grace, coordination, and absolutely no patience. They weave through the pedestrians and traffic as quickly as possible to deliver as many orders as possible in their shift to ensure maximum tips.  Although these bicyclists are charming, the ones on Wade Avenue at 5:30pm will annoy you. I am all for sharing the road at a more appropriate time and place.
  • People’s clothes: I love walking through a happenin’ neighborhood on a Friday or Saturday night, everyone is dressed up in what they think is the hottest outfit in their closet, and they are usually right. But the only way anyone’s outfit here works is with their confidence. Therefore, anything goes in NYC!  Confidence is more of a staple than the LBD!
  • Reading: I have always liked to read okay, but with all of the waiting that has to be done here, I have found a new love for reading! You will see why when I write about “The Bad”.  Why didn’t you buy a Kindle?  Oh yeah, you wanted those $200 Tory Burch Flats.  Practicality at its finest.
  • Random live music: Whether it is the electric violinist in the Union Square subway station, the Metropolitan Opera at Battery City Park, the New York Philharmonic in Central Park, the bucket drummers at the 59th st station, the mariachi duo on the actual subway, or the Greek music that always seems to be playing in my neighborhood…you don’t need to stand in line at TKTS to see a great musical, just walk down the street and you’ll find some for free!  Your obvious joy for life is endearing.
  • Sweet tea at McDonald’s: The ad says: “A $1 ticket to sweet tea land” I say: “A $1 ticket to NC!”  You will realize that Sweet Tea is just full of empty calories and causes bloating.  
  • Dogs: Teeny tiny dogs, small dogs, medium dogs, big dogs, and huge white fluffy dogs!! Dogs are everywhere!! New York dogs are the cutest, most well-behaved dogs in the country. Just sit by a dog park in Madison Square Park or Union Square and see for yourself…just beware of doggy doody 🙂  Quailford!!!
  • Bugaboo strollers: Ergonomically correct and very city chic, if you are having a baby in New York, you must get this stroller!  Upon returning to Raleigh, you will work for a children’s furnishings website for two years and learn that Bugaboo is sooo 2009 and Quinny is the apple of every mom’s eye.
  • Parks: My three favorite parks are The High Line, Union Square and Madison Square Park. There is always always always something going on in Union Square (Japanese contortionists, evangelical Christian preachers, free hugs, trombonists, break dancing toddlers) and it houses my favorite thing of all: Union Square Farmer’s Market!!  You now follow Humans of New York on Facebook and experience pangs of nostalgia.
  • Shake Shack: It is located in Madison Square Park and it is worth the wait. I once waited in line here by myself (I do most things alone anyway) for an hour. The best burgers and the best atmosphere!  Ok, yes, Shake Shack is tons of fun!  But you will land approximately 5 blocks from the most delicious burger joint in Raleigh – MoJoe’s!  Your love for ranch dressing will be rekindled and you will find yourself neglecting your @Ranchmerica twitter handle.
  • Duane Reade and other drug stores: Since there is no Target, we relish in our local drug store that has everything you need! Except for all the stuff you waste your money on regularly at Target. So that is where New Yorkers $ave!  You now work within 5 minutes driving distance of a Target Greatlands.  And no, it is not 15 minutes walking distance.  I wouldn’t dare walk from Pier One to Target.
  • Bagels: Another way New Yorkers save is bagels!!! They are the best!! My favorite bagel places are Ess-a-Bagel, Bagel Cafe and Hot Bagel. How will I live without New York bagels?  There truly is nothing better in this world than Ess-a-Bagel.
  • Flower shops: When you are in New York, you have to take pleasure in the little things. In fact, most of my favorite things about the city are the little pleasures it has to offer. One of my favorites is walking down the street along a flower shop and just taking a big whiff of the lovely flowers!  When you decide to actually utilize your personal twitter handle, your tagline will be “I always have fresh flowers in my kitchen”.
  • Restaurants: I don’t even know where to begin with the food in this city. It is just the best. NC has Bojangle’s and BBQ and don’t get me wrong, nothing compares to those staples, but this city has it all! My top three are Penelope, Les Halles and Cafeteria. I also very much enjoyed Blue Water Grill, Max Brenner, Haru and Mesa.  Penelope will always have a place in your heart!  But now that you are a Raleigh Elitist, you know we’ve got the goods, too.
  • Chinatown: The cheapest eats! Prosperity Dumpling has a menu where everything is $1…10 dumplings for $1!!  Remember that food truck rodeo I was telling you about?  Your friend bought 10 dumplings for $10.
  • Bars: Brother Jimmy’s is definitely up there on my list because that is where us North Carolinians feel most at home! The Swamp Water is so much fun! I also found they had the best happy hour: $2 GOOD margs! Frying Pan, McSorley’s, and Chelsea Brewery were also a hoot!  There is a bit of jet lag when it comes to going out in New York compared to going out in Raleigh.  Even though we are in the same time zone, since the bars close at 4am in NYC, it’s like a 2 hour time difference.  Curious.
  • Diners: Julie and I once had a fabulous celebration with pina coladas at Moonstruck (a diner in her neighborhood). I enjoy getting the portobello foccacia at Tastee Corner (a diner in my neighborhood) because it is huge and comes with fries and soup. Very Tastee!!  Looking back at your Tastee Corner experiences, these were sad little times.  My memory is you sitting on the couch with a ray of afternoon light gleaming through the window while People’s Court attempts to make its way through the static.  A Greek couple argues in the distance.  A half-eaten portobello foccacia on the coffee table.  You, popping melatonin.
  • Museums: The Met is the best! It is just the best. I love it.  This statement is short and sweet and I will keep it that way!
  • Brunch: This I am definitely taking with me when I go home to Raleigh. New Yorkers may be go go go go Monday through Friday, but come the weekend, they are the most relaxed Americans! Sleep til noon, stroll over to brunch at two and enjoy afternoon shopping or in the park. Arte Pasta had the best deal with $5 unlimited mimosas and a fantastic eggs benedict! Penelope is also an all-time favorite.  Good luck getting a table in Raleigh.  And if you go before noon, forget the mimosas.  Potluck brunches are totally 2013!
  • My favorite neighborhoods: Murray Hill/Gramercy/Flatiron, SoHo, West Village, Upper West Side.  You will soon have favorite Raleigh neighborhoods, too!  Very specific neighborhoods, indeed…
  • Bloomingdale’s: We have a love/love relationship. I love all the brands and designers that this department store has to offer and it loves my money. Marc Jacobs, French Connection, DVF, Alice + Olivia, Michael Stars, Michael Kors, Tibi, Chanel, La Perla, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Rebecca Taylor, designer denim, designer shoes, designer handbags, designer housewares, designer furniture…oh the list never ends. The staff is friendly and helpful and wants you to spend! But they also want you to look fabulous 🙂  Oh how I envy your naivete!  I’m still hangin’ on to the remnants of my fashionable self.  They say that people dress like the last good year of their life.  I guess mine would be 2009 because that is when all my clothes are from!   

The Bad:

Finally.  I was starting to think that my cynicism was something I picked up recently.

  • Waiting for the subway: This activity seems to last forever, especially if you do not have a book! But there is nothing worse than waiting for the subway, except for the rest of this list.  Newsflash: I-40 East on a Friday at 5pm.  The worst.
  • A crowded subway: Especially in the summer, there is nothing worse than a crowded subway of people who who do not know how to use deodorant. It also sucks when people do not know how to hold on to the hand rails and fall on you on their way to the ground.  Newsflash: I-40 East on a Friday at 5pm.  The worst.
  • A slow subway: “Ladies and gentlemen we are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us” Have you guys ever seen the episode of Seinfeld where they are all on the subway? And Elaine is stuck on the subway? Yeah so I totally feel for her rage.  Newsflash: I-40 East on a Friday at 5pm.  The worst.
  • Herald Square: It is the worst square of them all. Way too crowded and packed with dumb tourists. Notice how I said “dumb tourists” not just “tourists”. A lot of tourists are totally tolerable, but when they are dumb and in Herald Square…it is excruciating.  I can’t argue with you here.  I’ve not been back to Herald Square.
  • Naked lady in Loft: I don’t really know what else to say about this because that is what happened to me one day. Not in the dressing room, in the entrance vestibule. That is not an appropriate place to be naked!  Ah, only in New York!
  • Solicitors: “Can I ask you a question about your hair?” WTF?!?! No you may not! I have a tip for anyone going to NYC: do not make eye contact with those who are holding clipboards. They will do their best to make eye contact with you and smile to make you think that you know them…but you don’t. They just want to waste your time and make you feel bad for not donating to their cause.  You will still have serious qualms with the whole concept of solicitation.  If you ignore a solicitor, they think you are a jerk, or you find out that they were in fact not a solicitor and actually your long lost best friend from 7th grade.  If you give in to the solicitor, it is inevitable that you will waste 14 minutes of your life.
  • Times Square: Unless you get a seat, it is an anxiety attack waiting to happen.  I’ll stick to visiting Times Square via the television.  Good Morning America, anyone?
  • Rain: There is nothing worse (besides ice) than getting caught in the rain in New York. Except if you are waiting to cross the street and a car speeds through the puddle in front of you and showers you with dirty street water.  Ouch.

The Ugly:

A lot of you could come and visit me or live in NYC or lived in NYC and were able to share items on the above list with me. However, the things on this list were only enjoyed the most when shared with someone. Without friends, no matter where you are in the world, it just is not as much fun.

March 29, 2012

Living in NYC for a handful of months was something I would have never traded for any life experience!  You live and you learn.  I would have regretted not having checked this off my list.  And one thing’s for certain, New York will always hold a very special place in my heart and it will always be one of my favorite cities to visit!  But there is no place like home.  Especially when you live in the awesomest city in the world.