Wednesday, February 18, 2015

High Heels and Snow Storms

Practical footwear isn't my jam. Despite my stubborn insistence on wearing heels at work (because I feel better in them), there are times where they are not the most pragmatic option. My challenge is twofold: 1) I don't really have flat shoes (and they're too cold in the winter) and 2) my warm winter boots are not business appropriate. I would rather stumble through the snow in heels than wear snow boots with my dress to a meeting. I would feel paranoid the whole time.

Last weekend I went on a two-night work trip to northern Michigan to attend the kickoff meetings for the 2015 round of our PlacePlans program (to help cities design innovative placemaking projects). Last year I got to spend lots of time in awesome cities like Marquette and Holland, and I am excited to get to spend some quality time in different communities.

Traveling this year is more challenging with the baby. On Sunday I was feeding him with tears in my eyes when thinking of leaving him for a few nights. My husband didn't get why I felt so sad, but for more two months Will and I have been together almost constantly. I've only been back to work for a few weeks. Now I'm supposed to leave the little guy for two nights? It was rough.

We headed north to Petoskey, Michigan where we spent the night. Our two northern Michigan projects are in Boyne City and Traverse City, but we stayed in Petoskey that first night. I love downtown Petoskey, so I was happy to be nearby. We had a fantastic dinner at Tap 30 downtown. I love their creative menu and cocktails. One can't go wrong with a good mac 'n cheese and a gaggle of delicious Moscow Mules.

The Mules weren't enough to keep me from running the next morning, and I hit the treadmill for an intense speed workout. I've been spending more time than ever on the treadmill this winter as a result of both the extreme cold and snow and my goal to kick the 5k's tail. It's just easier to do speed work on the treadmill, so my workouts have been concentrated indoors. 

On Monday morning we headed south to Boyne City. I'd never been there and was impressed by its charming downtown. Their project seeks to rework the waterfront into a more vibrant space. I started the day in Boyne City with a breakfast meeting at Cafe Sante. I could not get over this chic restaurant in a town of less than 4,000 people. The eggs benedict were ridiculously good. Everything about this place - the food, the atmosphere, the service - felt modern and trendy. The perfect way to start the day.

After an initial meeting we headed out for a walking tour of the site. It was 10 degrees out, and there was a lot of snow on the ground. I was wearing a skirt, blouse, tights and four-inch heels. I don't really wear flats, and in the winter I find flats harder than heels (snow gets in them, they aren't as warm...and I just hate wearing flats). So I stubbornly insisted on walking the project area in my heels (the only other option was getting running shoes out of the car...not going to happen.) This meant my chivalrous male coworkers occasionally had to help me climb over a snow pile, but I made it work. 

Me being practical.

We warmed up after the tour with a delicious lunch at Red Mesa. I marveled that a small town like Boyne City has trendier food than we have in downtown Lansing. We've got work to do. I also grabbed a cappuccino at a charming bookstore (another thing we don't have in downtown Lansing...but I'm not bitter) where I also picked up a few books for my son.

Following productive afternoon meetings we headed to Traverse City in advance of their project (redoing a park space on the west end of downtown). We stayed downtown and walked to Amical for dinner. I'd been there for brunch but not dinner, and dinner was a-mazing. We had wine and delicious food and shared a chocolate peanut butter dessert that was to die for. The culinary scene in Traverse City is legit (it even attracts renowned chef Mario Batali).  

I really wanted to get up an run in downtown Traverse City. I also REALLY wanted to get a solid night's sleep while my son was home with his dad. Sleep won over running, and I slept like I was in a coma for about 9 hours. It was glorious. I can run Traverse City on my next visit.

I had an early breakfast meeting with discuss future funding of the project, and in typical me fashion I wore a dress and heels (same 4-inch heels as the day before.) We walked to city hall for the Traverse City project meetings. It was about a quarter mile to city hall, and I didn't think that would be a big deal in heels. From city hall it was decided we would walk to check out the project site. I didn't really know how far it was, and I didn't know how hard it was snowing. We walked out into a snowstorm, and I walked a mile to check out the project site. I know it was impractical, and by the time we got there my feet were killing me.

Even on a sunny day a two-mile trek in high-heeled booties is a bit much. On a snowy day? It was rough. But I refused to complain because what extraordinarily stubborn person would give my company the satisfaction? Actually my feet weren't hurting so much as my face was from the cold. When I got home last night and finally took my shoes off it hurt to walk. I promised myself that today I'd wear flats and be kind to my feet. I'm not known for keeping promises.
My footwear today. Some people never learn.

It was great to get away for a few days and explore fantastic northern Michigan communities. I had great food, one good run (even though it was regrettably indoors) and learned a lot about good projects and communities. I've learned that sometimes wearing heels is impractical. I'm not ready to make changes, but just acknowledging it is a big step. I also learned that it's REALLY hard to be away from my little guy for a few days.

The face that greeted me when I got home.

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