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It was in bar in Sevilla, Spain, many years ago now, when a fellow backpacker asked me what I liked most about traveling. I paused for a moment before saying, "When you're home and wake up the first thing you think is, 'what do I have to do today?' But when traveling you think, 'what do I want to do today?'" I've been home "for good" from traveling for over 8 months now and my life has become a list of have tos. I have to clean before guests come over. I have to do dishes before the entire place starts...

I didn't know Amber until I showed up on her doorstep three years ago to crash on her air mattress in Brooklyn for a few nights. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I was moving in again (this time upgraded to a pull out couch). In the three years in between, I've read every last word of her blog. Seriously, it's one of very few blogs I read cover to cover. She's always up to something interesting. Her photography is amazing. And she's incredibly honest, even when it's something difficult to write about. And I like that...

It was my sixth time in New York but the first time I stepped back and thought, time and time again, "I could live here." I could live in New York. I really think it had to do with the advent of the smartphone, allowing me to be anywhere in the city and figure out anywhere I wanted to go. Or maybe that I didn't walk through Times Square once. Or maybe that everyone I saw was up to something awesome: kite clubs, sideshow performing, backyard s'mores, launching a new company in a day. It's the kind of place where I think...

The one touristy thing I had on my New York to-do list was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. When Kristin said she'd never done it before either we decided to meet up one afternoon for the trek across the East River. It was a shorter walk than I'd imagined. I somehow had it in my head that the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was miles and miles, an afternoon, an excursion. Instead, the expedition seemed to be over fairly quickly, but that's OK, it was a lovely walk, a thing to be done....

Every time Molly Schuyler does something, I can count on at least five people sending me a link to it. Which probably says something about both my reputation and hers. There was that time she ate 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes. And that time she ate a 72-oz steak in just under 5 minutes. And then ate another one. The woman is a phenomenon. A few days before my hot dog eating contest I went to Coney Island to watch her eat 5.5 pounds of brains to win Glutton Force 5 and the NYC Zombie Crawl's Brain Bash at the Beach brain eating...

I was a celebrity. Being approached on the street for photos. Getting asked for an autograph at a bar. Receiving random high fives from the crowd. Being told by a mass of self-proclaimed groupies that they were rooting for me. For me. A self-proclaimed groupie myself. I told that group of guys that they picked the wrong girl to cheer for. I told them I came in dead last, far behind all the other totals. I told them I only had qualified by default. But no one cared. "But you did it," they'd say. They'd all say, when I'd sheepishly tell anyone who asked...

Where I stood to watch 3 years ago. Where I will eat on Friday. Three years ago today I boarded a one-way flight to New York to attend the July Fourth Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest and begin my 'round the world trip. At the time I thought, "There's no way I would ever want to travel for more than a year," and I'm pretty sure everyone else thought, "She's not going to make it three months." But things chance. People change. Yesterday I again boarded a one-way flight to New York. This time to compete in the July Fourth Nathan's...

I've been so busy working a temp job the past two weeks that all I want to do when I get home is curl up with Food Network. So I haven't had much time to write. And I'm certainly not traveling at the moment. But, since I'm traveling to New York this summer, it's on my mind. I went to New York City for the first time in 1999, the summer between graduating high school and starting college. I wrote this years ago, 2005 maybe, before I had a blog, for a travel writing class I took in grad school. At...

I'm pretty sure I first heard about Dyer's Burgers while reading Hamburger America (a roadtripper's bible of road food stops) some years ago. The restaurant on Memphis's Beale Street is known for it's deep fried hamburgers. But the patties aren't just cooked in any old grease: they're cooked in really old grease. Each burger is fried up in the same grease they've been using for 100 years, since the restaurant first opened in 1912....

I flew home from London in early December and promised myself that I would spend the next month doing nothing but catching up on work and spending as close to nothing as possible (the whole laptop thing put me behind in both money and productivity). That all went out the window though when I saw a tweet from Major League Eating announcing that the first qualifier for next year's July Fourth hot dog eating contest would be held in Mississippi a week after I arrived back to Chicago. And, well, I really wanted to go....