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It had been two years since I last took a vacation. Two years since I boarded a plane. Two years since I left Illinois, the Chicagoland area, at all. I hardly believed it myself when I went to write that in an Instagram caption three weeks ago, but, it's true: I didn't take a vacation, travel anywhere, leave Chicago, in 2017. The last place I traveled to was New Orleans, Louisiana, and that was for a conference in 2016. I just haven't felt like traveling. Going. Leaving. Moving. And then, this Fourth of July, 21 months after my last vacation, I went to...

I used to watch the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on TV every Fourth of July. For some people, Independence Day meant fireworks, barbecues, parades. But, for me, it meant sitting in front of ESPN and watching a row of gurgitators consume as many hot dogs as was humanly possible in 12 minutes.   [caption id="attachment_75834" align="alignnone" width="1400"] George Shea announces the 2018 Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.[/caption]   In 2007, I watched the Super Bowl of competitive eating from my couch, at home, when Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot...

Every Fourth of July the best eaters in the world congregate at Coney Island and go head to head in the world's greatest hot dog eating contest. Half of those eaters are women. You might not know that from the media coverage of the contest. After all, the men's eating contest gets broadcast on ESPN while the women's is only ever available online. The women's contest is lucky to get a thirty second spot on the televised broadcast. And Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie, ranked the number one and two eaters in the world, dominate the press, become trending topics on Facebook,...

Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie took their prime spots at the center of the table and, from the moment the clock started ticking down, they were both fully focused on the win. For the first few HDBs they were neck and neck but, by two minutes in, Joey Chestnut had eaten to a steady lead. As the minutes ticked down and more hot dogs were eaten it was no longer a question of who would win, it was a question of whether the record would or would not be broken....

I spent Fourth of July weekend in New York. Obviously. It was my eighth visit since my first time in 1999 and my seventh Fourth of July spent in the city since 2007. Whew. I was there, mainly, for the annual hot dog eating contest but, with an extended weekend, I also got a little chance to wander the city. I suppose the more times I end up in New York the less time I spend in Manhattan and the less time I feel the need to do actual things there. This time, I hung out in Park Slope with Amber, who...

On July 4, 2007, at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs to Takeru Kobayashi's 63. It was a historic feat: no one had ever out-eaten 6-time champion Kobayashi in hot dogs and some speculated that no one ever would. That day, Joey Chestnut did the impossible. He out-ate the man who couldn't be out-eaten. He brought the victory back to America. I watched this all go down that morning on the TV set in my parents' living room, wishing I was there, in person, to witness that historic event. Most people may think of fireworks...

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 take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I was planning to go solo, but, when my friend Kristin told me that she'd never done it before either, we decided to meet up one afternoon for the trek across the East River. We met on the Brooklyn side of the bridge (you can start and end on either side) and made our way to Manhattan, stopping to take photos of the scenery, the skyline, the river, the other walkers, and, of course, the bridge itself along the way. It...