Thursday, May 16, 2013

Welcome Jenn, From Life Behind The Uniform

**Jenn and I have been partner in crime for about 5 years, in that time she has been a dear friend, sister & former roommate to both Mike and I. Her nickname around here is Sunshine, because she always seems to be in a wonderful cheerful mood and it's seriously contagious. She moved away about a year ago and bought her first home with her husband Gabriel in Colorado. Read about her journey as a military spouse on her blog Life Behind The Uniform.
While we miss her immensely, I love reading her blog and I love hearing where she's eaten lately. As a military wife she has been able to travel all around the US enjoying some of the best foods in the Country. One thing I've figured out about Jenn over the years is that whenever she says something like "Oh my gosh I just ate at the most amazing place," she is not kidding! So, Take out a pen and paper or bookmark this page for reference! You WILL want to check some of these places out after tonight, I promise!**

Hello friends!
I am so excited to be a guest blogger for one of my very best friends, Eva! Initially, I thought I would just blog about food in the different places I've traveled to, and I will, but first, I wanted to give a little background and insight into living a military life.

A tearful goodbye, one of many we will share throughout the years. Funny how the "goodbye" photos
 look so much like the "hello" ones. 
Here's a little bit about me: I am a military wife currently stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My husband and I are originally from the Central Coast of California, and have been together since our years in high school. We got married two years ago with the beautiful Pacific Ocean as our backdrop... holy moly, I miss the ocean! Over three years ago now, my husband decided to serve his country and join the Army. It's been quite an incredible experience thus far, and I know Uncle Sam has many more wonderful things in store for us. Don't get me wrong, the military is great, but can be completely frustrating. My husband is married to the military, and I am his wife, but we are so blessed with the opportunities we've been able to experience together. We meet friends that we would never have known, we see places that we never would have gotten to see, and we have a head-start in life that many people our age will not get. But most of all, we are starting off our life together with complete love and appreciation for our time with one another.

Ever since hubbs joined the Army, I travel a lot. Admittedly, because my husband has been on down time, meaning his required amount of time back in the states before he can redeploy, most of our traveling is going back home to visit family; however, prior to my husband deploying, I was quite the frequent flyer who depended entirely on Skype and countdowns. I counted down the days until I would get to fly out to South Carolina to watch him graduate BCT (basic combat training) at Fort Jackson. From there, I counted down the days until he graduated AIT (advanced individual training) in San Antonio, Texas for his job as a combat medic. Countdowns kept me sane and helped me to realize that "see ya laters" were just that. Every time we had to say goodbye to one another, we would be sad, of course, but he would leave and we could count down to our next hello.

Then come the deployments. This life isn't for everyone; not everyone is expected to wish an entire year of their life would just speed by. It's crazy to think that. Right? Sometimes, in those moments, I wished my life had a fast-forward button; just skip the boring junk and get to the juicy part! No such luck though. Those are the true moments when I realized HOW FREAKING SLOW A YEAR GOES BY. Then come the reunions, and each first glance I see him after weeks or months of no communication... nothing compares. It sounds silly saying "each first glance," but every military spouse knows exactly what I mean. It's like seeing them for the first time and falling in love all over again. And when it's finally your moment, and you can finally hug them, kiss them, hold them, and touch them. That's what we wait for. To know that they're real, they're standing there, and they're safe. With you. That's why I wait, and there is truly no greater feeling.

Thanks to hubbs being sent various places, I've had the opportunity to go places I never could have pictured, and the food has been a main drawing point in wanting to go back and visit again (aside from nostalgia, of course)! When I went back to South Carolina, I tried my first Waffle House.

Now, laugh all you want, but the experience has stuck with me. The mannerisms and true "southern charm" of the kitchen and waitstaff have been completely unmatched. I haven't experienced anything like it since! Most of our time was spent on post, so we ate at the PX (Post Exchange) where mostly fast food like Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. is served. I wish we could have gone out and experienced more of the culture and cuisine of Columbia, but we had less than 48 hours to fit it all in! We will definitely go back someday to see Myrtle Beach and eat at Luigi's Trattoria.

In Texas, we spent most of the time at the River Walk in San Antonio. Because hubb's training post, Fort Sam Houston, was about a ten minute drive from downtown, we found that exploring downtown was the most fun. The River Walk, for those who may not have ever heard of it, is a beautiful stretch of the city where the river runs parallel to many stores, restaurants, and hotels. It's a wonderful spot to explore and the food we had at Barriba Cantina was a definite favorite.

Being from California, I love Mexican food, and this place didn't disappoint. After we were done with our food, we walked up a few flights of stairs, crossed the street, and got to see the historic part of town.

We got to see the Alamo, HemisFair Park, the Emily Morgan Hotel, and so many other historical landmarks. We spent some time briefly in Austin where I had my first experience with Cheesecake Factory. Is it terrible that I just started drooling? I'll just admit right now that their Red Velvet Cheesecake is probably the greatest dessert I've ever had. Granted, I do love cheesecake and I'm addicted to all things red velvet, so I may have been a bit biased. Because we were being tourists in San Antonio, we didn't get time to fully experience the local favorites, so we already have an upcoming trip planned to experience another aspect of the city. That's the great thing about having a ton of friends in the military, when they PCS (permanent change of station), meaning when they are relocated to another post, we have more places to travel to and friends to greet us when we get there!

From Texas, hubbs was stationed at Fort Carson. I would make trips out as often as possible since he was allowed to have freedoms he couldn't have while in BCT and AIT. My first time out here was for Thanksgiving 2010. Hubbs picked me up from Denver International Airport around 21:00 and had to find a place that was open for a Thanksgiving feast. The only place we could find? A Denny's near my hotel, but we made the best of it and had some pumpkin pie with our pancakes. Since we've bought a house here, we decided to take in the full experience of the city of Colorado Springs. My favorite places so far are:
Arharn Thai, a delicious and authentic Thai restaurant. The cuisine here is so yummy, and you can't beat the price! Their Thai Tea and Pad See Yew are completely addicting.

Nosh, an upscale and artistic dining adventure that emphasizes social connections and innovative food options. Located in downtown Colorado Springs, Nosh is the perfect place for a night out on the town.
Melting Pot, an ingenious fondue restaurant that provides all of their customers a fantastic time. The food here is 100% ridiculous, and the total experience is classy, innovative, and fun. Plus, who doesn't love fondue??

The Broadmoor, a classic and ritzy hotel that is famous for its great golf, food, and hotel accommodations. For experience, I can tell you that their restaurant, Summit, is top-notch. Although expensive, the food, drinks, and all around atmosphere are without equal. If I could afford to eat here every day, I just might.

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
While my hubbs was in Afghanistan, he tried all the Afghan cuisine one would ever hope to have in their lifetime. He's told me stories and shown me photos of freshly killed goats (a main meat source there) hanging in doorways, covered in bugs, waiting for people to buy it for dinner. To maintain relations, he would eat with the Afghani citizens where a normal meal was a goat skewer. Most of the time, the chunks of goat meat were over-cooked, over-salted, and were separated on the skewer with large chunks of goat fat. To water it down, he was given Chai tea. Just to show how terrible the food was, my hubbs hates Chai, but he would gulp it down if given the chance there.
I'll write about his ventures another time, but to contrast what he ate while on deployment was necessary for my next location....

As a post-deployment reward to ourselves, we saved up money for a spectacular second honeymoon in Maui, Hawaii. My favorite food in the islands is the fresh, juicy, ridiculously delicious pineapple. In fact, I want one right now... Unfortunately, where I am, it's snowing IN MAY and there isn't an ocean in sight. Boo. Anyway, Hubbs absolutely loves seafood, having grown up with an uncle who owns three remarkable seafood restaurants called Dockside, Dockside Too, and the newly opened Dockside 3, in Morro Bay, California, he is always partial to trying seafood in other places. In Lahaina, where we stayed for our ten days on the island, we frequented various local food joints. I wish we lived closer because I crave those places all the time! Our favorite place, by far, was the Hula Grill, a beach-front restaurant where the sandy floor meets the sea. We were able to take off our flip flops, dig our toes in the sand, hear live music, and smell the ocean all while enjoying fresh Mai Tais, local beers, Macadamia Nut slaw, butterfly coconut shrimp, and Mahi Mahi sandwiches.

Are YOU drooling yet?? Another great place was Ohana Tacos. Being a small, hole-in-the-wall spot was an advantage for this place. With a small menu, the owner and his family are able to run this place very efficiently and food comes out quickly. I tried my first Alambres, a dish with carne asada, chorizo, onions, bell pepper, and cheese with the usual sides of rice and beans. Talk about a life changer. While in Maui, we attended the Sheraton Kaanapali Sunset Luau at Black Rock and feasted on the normal Luau favorites: Kalua Pork, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Grilled Steak, Sauteed Mahi Mahi with Macadamia Nuts & Capers, Steamed Sweet Potatoes, and delicious coffee with our desserts. Of course we both tried Poi and hated it. I try it every time I go to a luau hoping that somehow it will get better... it never does. Finally, we went on a dinner cruise aboard the Quicksilver where we enjoyed an open bar, prime rib, macadamia nut crusted Mahi Mahi, endless fresh fruit, and chocolate cake. Ah, the island life.

Since we're still young, I know there are so many other places for us to see and explore. On my list of places I've never been but hope to go are Australia, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Dominican Republic, Germany, France, New York, Florida, Costa Rica, England, and Egypt. If you would like to contribute to our vacation fund, I'll repay you in photos and great stories (Kidding... mostly)! Until next time, friends!




  1. Love this!! You have a way with words Jenn, and I look forward to a reunion story of my own. Come to Texas any time for awesome food!!!

  2. Thank you so much for your comment Cindi, I have always thought the same thing about Jenn's writing skills. All her posts about her marriage and the hardships that come with being a military spouse make me weepy!

    Thanks for reading!!