Posts tagged ‘roadtrip’

March 16, 2015

Austin Adventures T-Minus 48 HOURS

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I’m going back to Austin! Before my road trip in October I had hardly traveled anywhere out of California in my adult life. Except for mini road trips to Arizona and Nevada. My trip to New York last summer was the first time I bought a plane ticket as an adult. Not my first time on a plane, but the first time I looked at a flight schedule to figure out pricing and what worked best for me. Anyways, Bowerbird is playing SXSW and it’s one of those experiences I want to share with him. A craziness I could experience firsthand and not just through road stories. So with a little encouragement and the help of a credit card, I booked my flight to Austin. Bonus, I have friends in Austin, friends flying out to Austin, and Under the Radar throws their own party (former intern). SIDENOTE: I suddenly I have the urge to watch LOSER.

I fly out on Wednesday, just as the music portion of SXSW kicks off. When Bowerbird and I went to Austin on our road trip we felt like we didn’t have enough time to explore. The city seemed to be overflowing with good food, adorable window shopping, and of course great music venues. It will be nice to get ROUND TWO in. I’ve been using the one music venue we went to, Cheer Up Charlies, as a point of reference in figuring out the distance of my hotel to where Bowerbird will be playing and the rest of the SXSW madness. p.s. Bowerbird’s band Flaamingos will be playing a showcase at Hotel Vegas presented by Levitation.

Flaamingos SXSW

AUSTIN HIGHLIGHTS FROM OCTOBER 2014:

Cheer Up Charlies – is an eclectic space, a colorful music venue with a back patio that seems to be carved out of a rock. We totally ended up with an epic Cracker Jack box prize when we went there, as Ted the Block, a side project of musician Winston Goertz-Giffen happened to be playing. Ted the Block is totally weird in a hypnotizing way. He and his girlfriend were also road-tripping, and we made instant friends with this set of creatives. We later met up with them in Marfa, total coincidence so more on that later.

cheerup charlies

FLASHBACK – a vintage clothing store. It’s inside a purple house, and we wandered in while waiting to meet up for lunch with a friend nearby. Being from LA and in a new town, we tended to be extremely early to places.  The clothing and merchandise weaved throughout the rooms of the house. Flashback had really amazing finds I had to fall in-love with and walk away from, like dresses fit for June Carter Cash. I wanted them all.

Flashback Vintage Clothing

MICKLETHWAIT BBQ – One of the well-known and highly recommended BBQ establishments in Austin. It’s a trailer with a smoker next to it! We weren’t very aggressive when it came to the BBQ game in Austin, so we really lucked out in getting some BBQ at Micklethwait. We had gone around 5:00pm for an early dinner, and were met with a sign that read SOLD OUT till 7:30pm.  Later we found out the only reason they had any meat for dinner was because they were hosting a movie night.  We camped out in their parking lot for a few hours patiently waiting.  But the wait was totally worth it! Especially for Bowerbird as he can’t eat anything with refined or added sugar. While on the trip Bowerbird had to miss out on Memphis BBQ, and we avoided most Southern BBQ places because 99% of them use sugar in their rubs or sauces. But Micklethwait rub was all spice and flavor!

Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ

This time around, I really want to get a picture with the Hi, How Are You alien aka the Daniel Johnston mural. We drove by it in October, but forgot to go back for a photo-op. This time I’m sure there will be a line of tourist trying to snap their picture with the iconic wall. I used to intern at a gallery that at one point represented Daniel Johnston, and there were tons of photocopies of Daniel Johnston drawings in boxes, random boxes. I wish I would have nabbed some – I’m sure no one would have noticed. It was a strange place. Guess I can keep the karma points. Plus, I should just buy a t-shirt and help support Daniel.

I’ll be vlogging, instagraming, blogging (maybe) – we all know how blogging and traveling works for me, and tweeting. So hope you enjoy exploring Austin with me.

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January 25, 2015

KY : The Bourbon Trail – MAKER’S MARK

bourbon trail makers mark

I’m playing Ryan Adams to get me in a Kentucky mindset, and I have to share the somber cloud that hovers over my heart. It was recently announced Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are getting a divorce. They were my favorite celebrity couple, even more than Brad and Angelina, and I just thought they could make it work. Now with 5 years of marriage being thrown into the celebrity wind, I have to take a moment for over-dramatic mournful silence.

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Now back to the bourbon trail. While driving down the bourbon trail we saw large square buildings with windows, scattered across rolling hills. If a corporate building and a country barn had a baby, it would be these boxes.  They reminded me of something out of a horror movie, where all the zombie are kept or is storage for twisted experiments. Now the sky was cloudy and gray that day, and since I’m fairly morbid my imagination got a little carried away. In actuality, they are rack houses, where the bourbon goes to age and rest. So I guess technically it is storing an experiment – in awesome flavor!

bourbon resting house

We made the last Maker’s Mark tour and were the first to purchase our tickets. Letting us have that magical alone time the early bird gets to savor. The waiting house is a real Disney style attraction, with talking picture reciting the history of Maker’s Mark and a replica kitchen showing how Margie Samuels, the wife of T. Williams Samuels came up with the signature Maker’s Mark bottle. Margie was a marketing master and designed the Maker Mark’s bottle inspired by the unique shapes of cognac bottles. She wanted Maker’s to be distinctively different from the other bourbons on the market. It was also her idea to have the distillery painted black, as she was tired of it always looking dirty.  See there is a naturally occurring fungus that grows around distilleries called, Baudoinia Compniacensis, and it turns trees and objects black. Margie was annoyed with fighting the fungus so she painted the buildings black with red trim, and her branded esthetics has lasted through the decades.  Oh yeah, the distillery you tour is the same one that produced the first bottle of Makers in the 1950’s, how cool is that!!!

Makers Mark Kitchen

Makers Mark Distillery

Of course, there have been upgrades, like the beautiful copper distillers. But the room which ferments the sour mash was totally vintage. We got to poke our finger into the brew, which looked like captain crunch and tasted like sweet watery white bread. We also got to take home our own Maker’s Mark label, made on the same printing press from their early days. These kinds of true to tradition touches gave the distillery real charm. Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of Maker’s Mark. I enjoy rye bourbons, and I found out they don’t use any rye in their recipe. Just corn sour mash and red winter wheat. So the tasting was a little underwhelming to me, but still very enjoyable.

Makers Mark Distillers

makers mark sour mash

We found out there is an ambassador program you can join, where they mark a barrel of bourbon with your name on it, and in 7 years you can purchase ‘your’ bourbon. I was so excited about this program, I told Bowerbird that I would need to plan my ovaries around the ambassador program, because I wouldn’t want to be pregnant when our bourbon was ready. I also said this out loud, and one of the other gentlemen on the tour remarked it was the best statement he’s ever heard.  What can I say, I love bourbon.

The coolest thing, about bringing home a bottle of Maker’s Mark from the distillery, is that you can dip it in the hot wax yourself. This was our epic road trip across the country, so we had to experience a dipped bottle. I was nice and let Bowerbird be the dipper, and the second it was cooled and handed to us I tried to carve the date into the wax, but it was too solid. Unfortunately, there was too many liabilities when it came to carving the wax when it was still hot. I hid a few of my road trip postcards in the gift shop too, and was tweeted on the road a week later from a fella who found it in a feminist book. Getting tweets while on the road was so cool. I still wonder about the postcards floating out there.

dipping makers mark in red wax

It was a bummer we were unable to go to any additional distilleries. Bowerbird was really looking forward to Four Roses, but we both agreed Maker’s Mark was worth it. We had been told it was a must see distillery, and for not even liking Maker’s that much, I absolutely loved my experience there. The bourbon trail hands out these passports you can get stamped at all the distilleries, new life goal is to get it filled. Bulleit distillery, you’re next on my list.

cute couple at maker's mark

October 27, 2014

I Love the United States : Kris Nations Interview

krisnation_interview

Aside from blogging my own stories; I really love to interview small business, designers, people pursuing and sharing their passion. For my birthday 2 years ago Bowerbird gave me “The United States” necklace by Kris Nations, it was supposed to help keep me focused on my dream. And look now, I’ve made/making that dream a reality. The chain on the necklace broke about a year ago, and a month before the trip I sent it back to Kris Nations to be fixed. They were great about the repair, and even answered the list of question I sent along with the request. I’ve worn my United States necklace every day with out fail, I’m not a huge selfie person, but if you see a glint of gold on my neck on Instagram that’s the necklace.

Interview with Kim of Kris Nations

Kris Nations is run and created by two sisters, Kim and Kris. With my own sister, my strengths are her weaknesses and vice-versa. Do you find that in your own partnership? Is Kim stronger at one aspect of the business, and Kris stronger at another?

KIM: Kris started the business on the side while we were both living and working in SF. Kris was the real risk-taker, giving up her “real job” first. I’m more conservative so our personalities balance each other out in a lot of aspects of our business.

What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made? Was it for yourself, or did you give it to someone else?

KIM: Kris is the jewelry maker. She used to make jewelry for herself and then make some for friends once they saw what she was wearing.

I found my Kris Nation piece at Letters From LA located in Eagle Rock, CA. Did Kris Nation start as an etsy or online store first, and then grow to retailers? Or was it a simultaneous effort?

KIM: We had our website first and then grew the wholesale side of the business. My background is in web design so I designed and programmed our first website.

Running your own business has ups and down, plus there is more emotional investment. For other small business owners, what advice can you give for pushing through the self doubt?

KIM: As long as you remain passionate about your work, the highs outweigh the lows. But the lows can be low. It’s usually about money, and lack of it! Just hang in there, work smarter, stay focused on your long-term goals.

Your jewelry is well made, stylish, adorable! It’s no surprise it’s received great press. Does Kris Nation work with a PR group or has it all been in house hustle and flow?

KIM: We have a PR firm based out of SF. We also work closely with the firm. When we have ideas, we share and ask them to follow up on our ideas. You need to work closely with a PR firm, the more effort you can put in, the better. It’s hard when you are always putting out fires, but it’s important.

My dream is to have an epic road trip across the country. It’s why I was given the United States necklace as a gift. Do you have a great sisterly road trip or vacation memory you can share with us?

KIM: OMG! Yes! Kris and I used to travel from San Francisco to Las Vegas for our very first few trade shows. I’m not sure why we didn’t fly? Probably because we had a quite elaborate booth setup that needed to be hauled there. On one trip, we ran out of gas (duh?!) and spent a few hours waiting for AAA to save us. It was dark and we passed the time guessing flavors of Jelly Belly’s. I’m remarkably horrible at guessing flavors. We have fond memories of visiting our Aunt and Uncle about half way to Vegas. They are the sweetest couple ever. Our uncle passed away over a year ago and we have very fond memories of our visits and their encouragement during this very early stage of our business.

KrisNaions_selfie

Our country is really beautiful, and filled with good hearts and talented people. Thankfully I had the opportunity to experience a sliver of the it this month. If it wasn’t for my lack of clothing options and unpredictable sleeping accommodations, I might stay on the road forever. Make meeting new people and visiting new places a regular routine.

I’ll be going home with a confident direction, new ideas, an outline of a plan, and a need to write a lot of emails. People like the woman of Kris Nations inspire me to commit to myself, take a gamble on myself. I hope these interviews encourage others to trust in themselves to be able to achieve anything they desire.

October 15, 2014

TN: Back to Memphis…

road trip Memphis

Memphis is the hometown to one of my favorite bands of all time, Lucero. They were the first band I ever saw by myself, and if my heart had a soundtrack it would be comprised of Lucero songs. I made it a mission of mine to visit 1372 Overton Park, not only the title of an album but an actual address in Memphis. Lucero’s musical roots in Memphis, it’s where the band lived and wrote music for years. A loft on top of a Thrift Store, taking a picture with the door to 1372 was my little piece of Lucero memorabilia. I asked the Sun Records tour guide what was near 1372 Overton Park, as I was a huge Lucero fan, and she lit up with the familiarity of talking about a wonderful mutual friend.  A few of the members had played on her own record. She recommended a few bars, but told us the place to go that night to potentially run into Lucero members was Buccaneer. A friend of Lucero and fellow musician, Dave Cuosar was playing at 11pm. I was completely committed to seeing this local act, and till then we filled our time with local Memphis finds.

We chose to experience the delicious ribs at Central BBQ. Their hot BBQ sauce still teases my phantom senses. The meat fell off the bone, but wasn’t too dry, only around the blackened edges that gave it an extra smoky flavor. Next we went to Beale Street. The tourist trap of Memphis. Its neon signs draw the out-of-towners like a moth to the flame. But once on it, aside from the jazz and blue grass music that fills the air outside stuffy bars, it is a dead street. We left just as soon as we arrived, walking up and down it once, and then hoping back in the car.

Beal Street Memphis

On ward we went to one of the other bars our Sun Tour guide suggested, we came across Overton Square. A colorful street lined with restaurants and bars, the buildings were really interesting. A mixture between the old and new, most of them had to either been built or renovated within the last ten years. Maintaining the structures charm and a certain amount of character most modern establishments’ lack. We pulled over to explore, stopping inside Boscos, a Tennessee brewing company. Enjoying a flight, we overheard two college students discussing their Knoxville campus. Sharing that the campus was socially segregated, and how some of their friends don’t know how to talk to black people. I was stunned, my ear glued to the conversation. I can’t fathom the idea of not knowing how to talk to someone because of their skin color. Language barrier yes, but a different ethnic background… it was my first real taste of the stereo-typical south everyone warns you about. This same person then went on to discuss how they didn’t care for Jewish people. Let’s just all agree, that as a society we should look at people as an individual and not respond to someone based on a skewed idea of a group of people.

memphis overton square

After the flight we headed to First Avenue which was one of the first venues Lucero played at. It was a pretty mellow night, and we took a seat at the bar. Watching the baseball game on the TV, those sitting at the counter bonded over a singer on the screen wearing a bizarre parade float styled hat upon her head.  Soaking in the vibe, when I told the bartender we were there as I was informed Lucero got their start there, he handed me an old guitar pick. “This could be from them, or perhaps another band, one thing for certain it’s old.” He went on to say how members of Lucero still come in, and the bassist was across the street at a different bar the night before.

Then on to the Buck, a dive bar located inside a yellow house. It was filled with cigarette smoke and illuminated with red lights. Set up on an area that was clearly designated for bands, but hardly a stage, was one guitar and a stack of amps. Arriving ten minutes till the show, we ordered drinks, took a seat and watched Dave come out of the shadows and take his seat next to the guitar. That night we got one of the best shows I’ve seen in 2014.  Dave Cousar is an artist with the guitar. He plays in a way that I’ve never heard before, making the guitar cry and wine, vibrate beneath his fingertips. An abstract painting of folk and rock, he is what Bob Dylan should be. I made up a story in my head that Dave and Dylan were at the same festival or audition, and by some random accident Dave couldn’t go on, letting Dylan take the stage and the slot for that sound. I think Dave is a little younger than Dylan, but man did his voice just weave through notes rising and falling. Mid-set he paused, and aside from my enjoyment of the music I was getting really sleepy. We told Dave how much we loved his set and he humbly thanked us, even gave me his own I just saw the guys in Lucero story.

dave cousar memphis

That night I didn’t see any of the members of Lucero, but I met them through Memphis. I began to gain a better sense of the band through friends, acquaintances, the musicians they play with for fun. Driving up and down the same streets they do, and talking with the same friendly faces they know to be familiar. If I wasn’t going to see Lucero live in Memphis, that night was the best I could have asked for. I look forward to name dropping Dave to Ben at The Echo in November.

October 5, 2014

DENVER: Guardian  Angel Molly Brown

molly brown house

A day and a half behind, I write this sitting on the floor of a home built in the 1800’s for a doctor in Kansas City MO. It was one of the couchsurfing situations I set up, and nice that I had one lined up since we arrived really late to the city. In Denver, we didn’t know where we were going to sleep but knew we had to get creative.

On October 3, we went from Durango to Denver, with a few hiccups in the morning.  Our rental said the tire pressure was off, and Dan needed to get more sustenance than the one oatmeal packet he ate.  That led us to trying to find a market that carried natural peanut butter and bread with no sugar. The slow giddy up in our drive, had us racing to Denver to make the Molly Brown house museum’s last tour at 3:30pm. The GPS said our arrival was 3:45pm and I was rehearsing my pitch to get us in mid-tour. I love Molly Brown, she was an intelligent strong Irish women. A feminist spit fire and a women before her time. I’d like to think I have a little Molly Brown in me.

Once we got into Denver, we took a wrong turn and it caused my anxiety to really shoot up. I really wanted to see the Molly Brown House! We got to the house by 3:40, parked the car, and ran to the ticket booth/souvenir shop, and I mean ran. The girl in the tickets heard my desperate plea, and said depending on where they were in the tour she could bring us in but if they were on the second floor we might be out of luck.

The ticket booth girl, fiddled with a lock on the door. It was stuck and the suspension was killing me, are we going to get to see Molly Browns house. Praying to the lord the door would open, it finally budged and we were taken into the dining room where the tour group was getting the last of the info before moving upstairs.

The museum house was everything I could imagine, Victorian, ornate, well designed, I swooned. The tour guide inside, Cat, was really kind to us and said since we came late she’d go through the first few rooms with us and then finish the history outside. We soaked it up, and after enjoying hearing all the additional Molly Brown tid-bits the other tour participants didn’t get to hear, I pushed my luck with Cat.

Having already given so much of her time to us, I felt selfish for asking if she might have a place or know anyone open to hosting two travelers for a night.  She informed us she had cats, and since I’m allergic, I informed her I had pills and a nasel spray to handle that. We exchanged numbers and in a few hours after cleaning she called us, and we had an amazing night in Denver.

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