OKC is OKAY with me, BUT…

All eyes will be on OKC this evening, well, the eyeballs belonging to NBA fans who are tuned into the 2012 season FINALS that tip off tonight. This is MUST SEE TV peeps!! πŸ™‚ Anyhoo, Oklahoma City isn’t exactly one of those top travel destinations that everyone flocks to..BUT I have actually been there twice and I like OKC. My first time visiting Oklahoma was when I was on ESPN’s Beg, Borrow and Deal, it was pretty much my “team’s” last stop before the other team beat us to the finish line – we were 2 teams racing across the country. The year was 2002, we had ended up by OU, and some friendly fraternity guys (who were ready to head home for the summer), helped us out and somehow we ended up at Mickey Mantle’s restaurant and then some nightclub! LOL

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Then, last year I went back to OKC for a work assignment with Chesapeake Energy, the same company who has the naming rights for Arena where the OKC Thunder play…and where the NBA Finals begin tonight versus my “hometown” Miami HEAT! So, all this to say that I like OKC, the city, the team and the company it’s teamed up with, Chesapeake. The segment I did for them was shot on the Chesapeake campus at their state of the art gym…very cool..and the entire company campus has a distinct university feel, on purpose by design. Click play below to see the segment I did at Chesapeake!

And — if you happen to be in OKC for the series, head to the Bricktown area for some eats, I ate at a spot called Crabtown..and yeah, I’ll definitely have to go back one of these days, just to eat crab there!! I also loved downtown’s Hilton Hotel Skirvin, where I stayed. It’s the cutest boutique feeling hotel, and did I mention their grilled cheese!?!? LOL

Now, as random as this post is…even though I kinda sorta really like OKC… I’m going on the record to say this series, these NBA FINALS belong to MIAMI!! Yes, the HEAT will bring it home to the 305!!! πŸ™‚ I’m wishing, hoping & praying to see the championship trophy in South Florida, with a HUGE parade and all the fanfare..BUT SERIOUSLY I FEEL it in my bones!!!! I have no doubt this will be a very competitive, exciting series… filled with drama, so as an NBA fan, thanks in advance. No offense Oklahoma, it’s just not your time, yet…

Bahamas Getaway

I enjoyed a quick weekend on some R&R this past weekend in the Bahamas at Atlantis, Paradise Island! I’ve been a few times before and every time I return it’s just as exciting and breathtaking to be there all over again!

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This time around we stayed at “The Reef” property. It’s one of the newer, luxury towers that they also sell as residences where the suites have kitchens and laundry! It’s totally perfect for families or if you really just want to lounge and get some peace and quiet…and the Aquaventure Water Park is just a hop, skip and jump away! πŸ™‚

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We had a gorgeous Ocean View from the balcony, over looking the Kascade pool area and the private Paradise Beach…

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It’s definitely a place everyone should visit at least one time in their life…fun times!! And — I will never forget my first visit to the resort in 2007, “on assignment”…Atlantis also boasts a HUGE assortment of exotic marine life from all over the world…one time, I had the opportunity to feed them..and, well a stingray tried to feed on me! LOL Watch the “flashback” below….hehe

Chi-city

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I had the pleasure of visiting the Windy City this past weekend. I made the trip with T, since it’s his hometown and my Mom came from the Bay to join us! It was hard to leave the warm Miami sunshine…but albeit much cooler, it wasn’t horrible weather in Chicago!

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And — since Chitown is just a great mecca for food – I think I went home with an extra 10 pounds – we did the food circuit, eating at Valois, Harold’s Fried Chicken, Table 52, Giordanos and Ed Debevic’s…you can see I donned a “busser” hat while chowing down on my burger, fries and shake! The funny thing about that spot is I guess their “schtick” is to give customers attitude and sharp-tongued wit, so they kinda toss the straws at you, act impatient and talk back with plenty of sarcasm. Haha!! What was even more amusing to me is that my Mom would try to make comeback lines and give it to ’em…LOL It was nice to see her having a good time!

Another touristy thing we did was climb (on an elevator) 103 floors up over the skyline to the Chicago Skydeck in the Sears Tower! That was fun…they say on a perfectly clear day you can see four states.

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They also have these glass encased ledge/look out thingees…where I guess you can feel like you’re suspended in air…so if you don’t like heights…don’t look down!

New York, New York

I took a semi-spontaneous trip to NYC last week….always nice to change the scenery for a few days and of course throw in a few business meetings in the Big Apple! The weather was lovely the first couple days I was up there, definitely not the typical March weather for New York…which was a good thing for me coming out of the Miami “heat.” So, below are a few images from my trip!!

Since my good friend Tamae is building up her styling portfolio, we ventured out to do a fun photo shoot in Central Park. She did my makeup and Lior did my “Veronica Lake” hair! πŸ˜‰

The next morning I had a meeting in Times Square and took a moment to grab some breakfast and sit down to take in the sights in the middle of it all… It’s nice and calm, very peaceful in the A.M…great way to begin the day.

And finally, I headed out of town on St. Patty’s Day, but not before getting caught up in the mix of the parade down 5th Ave! Honestly, I was just trying to get to brunch and feed my belly when I realized I was in the thick of the parade route!! However, it was pretty cool to experience it live…so much GREEN in the streets…

My TOP 10 for 2011

I’ve never done one of these “Top 10” lists before, but with the year winding down, I started thinking about all that I’ve done this year and decided to sum it all up! No doubt 2011 has been a VERY memorable one…filled with travel, cross-country moves, fun interviews and always surrounded by the love of family and friends. So, without further adieu…here goes:

#10 – Host of the FIRST EVER Sustanatopia Honors 2011

SUSTAINATOPIA HONORS 2011, presented byΒ PLUM TV is the world’s premier awards ceremony honoring those doing GOOD through impact investing, philanthropy, and sustainable business practice. Hundreds of global leaders in investment, social entrepreneurship and philanthropy will gather to celebrate those committed to doing GOOD and changing our world forever.

#9 – Back to my Pro Dance/Cheer Roots

I became a Regional Director/Consultant for Going Pro Entertainment. In my role with GPE, I coach women as they work toward their goals of auditioning and being selected as a Dancer and/or Cheerleader for a pro (sports) team! I coordinated and hosted 2 very successful all day dance conventions in Miami and the Bay Area, and I’m proud to say a handful of the women are now on pro and semi-pro teams living out their dreams…namely Rachel of the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush! Another exciting event was the inaugural NFL Pro Cheer Alumni Reunion in Las Vegas. Watch this video for the highlights!


#8 – My first CRUISE on Royal Caribbean’s ALLURE where I met Taylor Swift

It was a quick flight to Cozumel to meet up and board the ship for a very special “at sea” performance by Taylor Swift! Not to mention I got to experience cruising on one of the biggest and newest vessels out there…very memorable!

#7 – ZUMBA with NBA Superstar LeBron James

One of my Miami gal pal’s heads up marketing for Equinox Gym’s in South Florida and she said there was an event going on with a celebrity that would be featured on The Ellen Show during a Zumba class, so could I attend!?!? I was like sure, no problem…well lo and behold…the celeb was none other than the Miami HEAT’s LeBron James!

#6 – On The Flipside‘s 7 ALL NEW episodes in 2011

On The Flipside continued to take on a life of its own in 2011, bridging my passion for sports and my “career” as a host, reporter, broadcaster. It’s an online TV Show I produce, host and edit in my spare time and I’d say 7 episodesΒ  is an accomplishment…we’re finishing the year with a 34 total episodes since its launch in 2009 and a handful of extra “specials” too. This year I had the opportunity to feature sports celebs like Santonio Holmes, Marshawn Lynch, Dwight Howard, Stephen Curry and Dwyane Wade, just to name a few.

#5 – MY SEPTEMBER BIRTHDAY

I celebrated my birthday on both coasts this year, felt like I was on “tour.” Tariq made sure it was extra special, completely spoiling me…that paired with being able to see and share the occasion with so many of my friends made it so memorable! From Miami to LA and finally back home in the Bay, my 2011 birthday was a reminder of how blessed I am!!

#4 – VACATION ADVENTURES: Volcano Biking in Maui & Horseback Riding in Jamaica

One of my favorite things to do is travel, and while I’m usually not too much of an adventurous type, in 2011 I dared to be different. During my visit to Maui with my sister and Dad, we decided to embark on a downhill bike ride on the Haleakala Volcano! It was a 22-mile ride, that in the end I am so glad to say I did, but really there were times I was like what did I get myself into!?!? haha

Then on my Ocho Rios, Jamaica excursion, I had the unique opportunity to go horseback riding in the ocean…which was fun, but seeing the horses relieve themselves in the water while we were riding around in it…not so much! LOL

#3 – GOING, GOING, BACK, BACK to CALI, CALI

Well, what can I say, in 2011 I left Miami and the East Coast in May to return to my beloved Bay Area. I took a job as a TV Reporter at KRON and decided it was time to take that leap of faith! Needless to say, it didn’t last long…the gloom & doom, murder & mayhem nature of the news just wasn’t for me! I’ve been back living the (freelance) Miami life and 2012 is promising to deliver lots of new beginnings! I can’t hardly wait.

#2 – Virgin Atlantic’s RED HOT REPORTER in LONDON

In October of 2011 I had the opportunity and trip of a lifetime courtesy of Virgin Atlantic, after I was chosen as their Red Hot Reporter for the NFL International Series between the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium! Tariq was able to come long for the “ride” and together we were privy to VIP access for all the events, parties and fun festivities!! The entire journey from start to finish was a top notch, 5-star, first class experience that I will never forget…I’ve got my fingers crossed they’ll want more of my Red Hot Reporting next fall 2012 too!! πŸ˜‰

#1 – TARIQ

Hands down THE highlight of my 2011 was finally finding my best friend and partner for life! The story of how Tariq and I came to be is something you could read in the pages of a romance novel, but certainly a long time coming…our paths have definitely crossed more than a few times over the years, but in 2011, they finally were in sync and the rest is history, with the BEST yet to come! πŸ˜€

Flat Stanley

I just spent a week with Flat Stanley! My friend Eric in Phoenix sent him to me and asked if I knew who he was and if I’d be willing to participate…of course I obliged, and Stanley and I had a great time!! πŸ™‚ So who is this “Flat Stanley” character, for those of you who aren’t familiar??? Well, he has a website – http://www.flatstanley.com/

Basically he’s a character from a book and because he’s “flattened” he can be mailed, thus allowing for great adventures all over the globe as he gets passed from friend to friend. I did this for Mrs. Mac’s 1st grade class at Cottonwood Elementary in Hesperia, CA!

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I received Stanley in my Oakland mailbox right after Thanksgiving and of course he got to ride on Southwest with me cross-country to Florida! See how he got the window seat and was watching the luggage get loaded!?!? ha

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We had one layover and plane change in Las Vegas, so Stanley took that opportunity to sit in front of the slot machines! Unfortunately we didn’t hit the jackpot and proceeded to board for our Fort Lauderdale bound flight.

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The highlight of Stanley’s South Florida visit was a day out at an NFL game to see the Miami Dolphins host the Oakland Raiders! Here he is getting ready to enter Sun Life Stadium amidst all the pre-game festivities….

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We had great seats at the game, but sadly the Raiders lost…womp, womp, womp… πŸ™ However, it was fun and Stanley got to meet my road dawg Jeanette and she will now be hosting him for a week over at the Raiders facility…hopefully he brings them better luck for this Sunday!

OTF: Ep. 34 – Warriors, Bucs, Bears

The 34th installment on On The Flipside is online now! For this show, I hosted from my alma mater, San Jose State, since there was a charity reunion basketball game going for “We Believe vs. Dubs,” aka current and former members of the Golden State Warriors. This show also has extended versions and highlights from my Virgin Atlantic, #RedHotReporter, London trip…so more Bucs, Bears and England! Finally, it’s a visit with Seattle Seahawks Sea Gal Nicole for the Sideline Distraction feature!! http://ontheflipsidetv.com

#RedHotReporter – DAY 3 RECAP

Football Sunday arrived so quick, I was still reminding myself I was IN London! Since going to Wembley for the “main event” was the focus of the weekend, I couldn’t wait to get there…I’d heard so much about all the great sporting events that had been held there, as well as concerts and other events…it’s sort of a pseudo hobby of mine to visit different stadiums and arenas when I travel, so I can now add Wembley to the list!

Kickoff was set for 6pm, but the Virgin Atlantic crew headed out early to attend the NFL Tailgate festivities being held outside before they opened the doors…

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It was quite a sight to see THOUSANDS of fans out early in an array of NFL jerseys, representing virtually every one of the 32 teams… I sort of wondered how the British fans were selecting their team garb, was it the colors, the team’s city, the player?? I even saw some fans who sort of mixed and matched team apparel..hehe That’s a first! Nonetheless, great to see them all in the spirit and having fun taking part in an All-American tradition!!

Once inside, we made a beeline to the Virgin Atlantic Suite at “Pitch West,” where I was greeted/escorted by the gorgeous Virgin Atlantic Cabin Crew…

…into a stunning suite!! VERY “SWANKY!!”

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Next, I ventured down to the field level to hang out on the sidelines before the game while the teams warmed up. FYI – I used the “Queen’s Lift” to make my way down!! πŸ™‚

While down on the field for pregame, I ran into Tony Siragusa doing his thing for NFL on FOX… And — I bumped into my buddy Major Wright who is a Safety for the Bears.

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When it came time for the game’s opening ceremony, it was very comparable to what you’d see in any NFL Stadium on a Sunday. They had the pregame performance by the cheerleaders, the anthems, the pyro, etc…

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There’s just something about hearing the US National Anthem in another country…makes me proud to be an American! And, I think they did a little ‘extra’ for this game too, with a performance by the Goo Goo Dolls! πŸ˜‰

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T and I even got to visit with some of his friends from Chicago who made a spur of the moment decision to fly out for the game! Talk about loyal fans…

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Eventually, we ‘retired’ to the Virgin Suite to take in the beautiful view!!

We also got an unobstructed overhead look at the shirtless guy running laps on the field…LOL Sort of random, but even more amusing was how he easily ran up and down the field, stopping to “high 5” one of the Bucs and eluding a few security before they could tackle him! WOW!

The NFL International Series game experience in Wembley was nothing short of awesome…definitely something I will never forget!

Sadly, the next day was time to travel back across the pond -I did try to extend my trip, but flights were tight, so I’ll just have to go back another time! However…BONUS!! We experienced the Virgin Atlantic VIP treatment once again when we got to Heathrow to check in for the flight home.

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First was a separate VIP entrance for check in and security…

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Then a MEGA 12,000 square foot Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, where we could chill out prior to boarding!

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Talk about “swanky” this place was super plush with lounge seating, a restaurant, spa and salon as well as fully-stocked bar! See for yourself….

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Usually I’m not trying to have a LOOOONG time at the airport before my flight, but I could hang out in this clubhouse all day! Too bad I didn’t have more time, as I would’ve indulged in ALL the services!! haha

Thank you Virgin Atlantic for hosting us on this absolutely FABULOUS, one of a kind, trip of the year!! My experience as #RedHotReporter was nothing short of AMAZING and I can’t wait to do it again! πŸ™‚

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