08-19-2012 I MET MY DONOR, ROBERT!

What an awesome week I had!  On August 8th and 9th, Wade and I were in Houston at MD Anderson for my appointments.  My appointment with Dr. Hosing went very well!  We enjoyed dinners with friends and family, visited the 11th floor where I was hospitalized for my transplant, ran into Alison Gulbis, my PharmD, and had a visit and hug with Dr. Garcia-Manero!  It was all so very good!  I will blog about all of this next week and post some photos.  I got some great photos I will share!

We then flew to Philadelphia to meet Robert and his family.  Our flight was delayed due to weather, but we finally arrived at the hotel (The Inn at Penn – which is next to the Penn campus – a great place to stay).  The Gawlas family was waiting for us there.  It was an unbelievable experience to meet Robert and his family!  He was there with his parents, Bob and Cathy, brother David, and sister Katie.  I had waited a long time for this!  Yes, I was teary…happy tears to finally meet the young man who had saved my life!  It was an indescribable experience!  There are no words to describe it!  We went to dinner at Fogo de Chao and it was delicious.

                                                                                                                  Left to right:  David, Robert, Katie, Cathy, Bob, me and Wade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ROBERT!

The next day, Robert gave us a tour of the University of Pennsylvania campus which is a beautiful campus.  The University is the 4th oldest in the United States, founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin.  We ended up in the football stadium where Robert plays football.  This will be his senior year.  Wade and I hope to go to one of his games:)  Like when Penn plays Harvard since his brother David plays football for Harvard!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The Love Sign UPenn campus

That afternoon we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the US Mint.

                                                                                                                                     The Liberty Bell, Robert and Katie with Independence Hall in the background.

After a little rest, we loaded up and went to eat Philadelphia Cheese Steak sandwiches on our way to a Phillies game.  Geno’s and Pat’s are across the street from one another and in big competition to have the Number One Philly Cheese Steak so we got sandwiches from both places and tried them both.  You gotta order them with “Cheese Whiz wit” or “Cheese Whiz without” (grilled onions).  They were delicious, well worth the wait!  You definitely have to get Cheese Whiz.  It just melts into the steak!  Notice the lines and the traffic in the pictures!  We voted and half of us liked Geno’s best, the other half, Pat’s.  It was a toss up!

                                                                                                                         This is a mural on a brick building next to Geno’s.  Pretty cool!

Visiting all of the major league baseball parks is on my bucket list, and Robert (not knowing this) suggested we all go to the Phillies/Cardinals game Saturday night.  I was thrilled!  It’s a great ballpark.  I especially liked the Liberty Bell that lights up anytime the Phillies hit a home run.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to watch the bell do its special thing that night…no home runs!  Robert’s girlfriend, Teresa, joined us for the cheese steaks and game.  It was lots of fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                Bob, David, and Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Robert and Teresa

After the game it was time to say goodbye which was very difficult.  There were lots of tears from me and lots of hugs.  I was not wanting the weekend to be over!   It truly was an amazing weekend spent with the most unselfish, giving person and his wonderful family, the one who gave me my life back.  Thank you Robert!  And thank you Cathy and Bob!

A few final thoughts:  Roberta, from Be the Match, the bone marrow registry, told me that Robert and I would be a lot alike since we have the exact same DNA.  Over this weekend visit it became apparent!  To be so different and at the same time share the very same DNA is mind blowing.  One thing is for sure…the Gawlas family felt like family from the very beginning when we met.  It was never awkward or uncomfortable.  It was more like discovering a missing link in my life!  And there is definitely a special connection there!  I hope they will always be a part of my life!  I will be forever thankful for Robert!  I love you Robert!  You are AWESOME!

Please get into the bone marrow registry at BeTheMatch.com so that you can possibly save a life just like Robert did!

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06-27-2012 Austin is street food heaven!

Wade and I got to spend a few days in Austin last week, and we always love the Austin scene!  Particularly the food!  The street trucks and trailers have increased dramatically since our last visit to Austin.  Needless to say we ate some great street food!  All of these shown are in the South Congress or the “SoCo” area.

Crepes Mille…(and Lockhart BBQ next door)

Ms P’s Electric Cock…

The famous Mighty Cones…delicious fried chicken breasts, slaw, and a chipotle dressing inside a tortilla that is placed in a paper snow cone type wrapper.

Hey Cupcake! … have your cupcake injected with whipped cream!

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AND OUR TWO FAVES THIS TRIP…

Gourdough Big. Fat. Donuts.

                                                                                                      Wade had the Flying Pig, his donut was covered with bacon and maple syrup.  I had the Sara’s Joy, a donut with coconut cream, chocolate icing, and shredded coconut.  These donuts are huge and hugely wonderful!  They are fried when you order.

This is Torchy’s Tacos

I don’t think I have ever had a better taco, and their salsa and queso are to die for!  There is a reason this place is ranked #9 out of 1561 restaurants in Austin on Trip Advisor!  Wade had their most popular taco, The Green Chili Pork, slow roasted pork carnitas simmered in green chilies, topped with queso fresco, cilantro, onions, and a wedge of lime on a corn tortilla with tomatillo sauce.  I had The Crossroads, smoked beef brisket with grilled onions, jalapeno, cilantro, jack cheese, and avocado served on a corn tortilla with tomatillo sauce.  On a second visit (!) I had The Baja Shrimp with grilled shrimp, cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos and onions, queso fresco, mango, cilantro and lime on a flour tortilla with chipotle sauce.  We also tried the street corn, fresh roasted off-the-cob corn topped with ancho aiolo, queso fresco, cilantro, and dusted with New Mexico red chili powder.  It is amazing!  Besides the trailer, they have an eat in restaurant nearby.  Look for this little devil..Damn Good Tacos!

A fun place to get a great cocktail is at Lambert’s at 401 W. 2nd St.  The 2nd street area has some cool shops and restaurants.  Lambert’s has a great happy hour at 5:00, serving delicious bar food half price along with $2 off their drinks.  I ordered a Sangria Blanco which is Vino Verde, peach brandy, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, lemon, orange, and lime slices.  It was dangerously delicious!  Demetrius is the most awesome bartender!  Make sure to go when he is there.  Lambert’s serves what I would call fancy barbeque, and has live music.

Sangria Blanco

And of course, how can you go to SoCo in Austin and not drop into Allens Boots?!  There are more Old Gringo boots here than you have ever seen in your life!  Rows and rows.  And some pretty cool clothes too!

We left Austin and flew to Dallas.  That will be a post forthcoming!  Meanwhile, smile a lot!

Holly