Favorite Bay Area Hikes, Part 1

El Corte de Madera Creek

Living in California for 12 years changed me in many ways. I became more outspoken, confident, eccentric and open minded than I ever was before. The climate also allowed me to become somewhat of an outdoor person. I got into hiking and camping and spending adequate time in nature, things I didn’t do much of before because Texas was always so DAMN hot. (and let’s be real, I’m prone to being an indoor cat…)

I’m writing a post of my favorite Bay Area hikes, recapping the most gorgeous spots with the best trail memories. I’ll do this in two parts, with this post focusing on my top 3 favorite hikes in the Bay. Let’s do it!

  1. El Corte de Madera Creek – Open Space Preserve (Redwood City)

I’ve written about this trail before after the first time John and I experienced it. After all the trails all over the area, from South to North Bay and even East Bay – this trail is hands down my favorite spot. I think we’ve hiked it about 5-6 times over the years and I always want to return. GIVE ME THOSE TREES!

I love it because it’s a damn good hike and it feels like you’re immersed in a badass forest. It can also be anything you want it to be. Want to go easy? Take the shortcut and avoid the steep section. Want it to be hard? Do the whole thing! It has the beautiful redwoods, moss, a creek, an easy to follow trail that isn’t very crowded. It is shaded but also sunny in parts. There is a separate section with a huge Boulder and also a nice view up top with a picnic table. I always felt at peace here.

View from the top

Everytime we hiked we always stopped at the Mountain House for a beer before heading home as it’s only 2 miles away. (This restaurant also has a bizarre old-timey mirrored ad of Czar Nicholas II. John didn’t believe me and we immediately went home and watched a documentary about murder of the Romanovs)

All I can say is….this is the perfect moderate trail! DO IT.

2. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park – Vista Trail (Sonoma)

This trail is absolutely gorgeous in the winter time! Went once in January and another in May, and preferred the dreary winter vibes more. It’s so mossy and green and is perfect on an overcast day – thought the sunny summer vibes are also nice! I just like overcast dreary weather more than the average Bay Area person.

One side of the trail is full of waterfalls not far from the road, twisting and turning into different secret spaces within the rocks. The other side of the road and trail opens up a bit more with rolling hills.

This trail has a nice contrast in a pretty rad spot in Sonoma. You have to drive through a vineyard and a neighborhood to get there but once you round the corner into the State Park it feels pretty remote, especially since it’s in the middle of wine country! Go wine taste afterwards or stop and eat something amazing.

3. Sweeney Ridge Trail (Pacifica)

Ok this one is a weird one. The first time we did it I thought it was so hard. To be fair, it was the first hike I had done in like a year, and it starts off EXTREMELY steep. The kind of steep that just keeps going and going, and you think you’re at the top and then you’re not and then you get grumpy. Well once you get past that part it’s pretty awesome!

The first time we went the old Nike Missile Site was still there with tons of graffiti and we were lucky to get some good pics. We even saw some chick dancing for her music video on Youtube so it felt pretty eventful.

The second time we went however, the missile site was removed and no more graffiti <sad face> and John was pretty bummed. BUT- it wasn’t NEARLY as hard because by the time we hit this trail again (1 year later) we completed many hikes while we trained for our BC hikes, and actually hiked BC, so this felt much easier.

Here you can see panoramic views of the Bay (hence the steep up and up) and feel like you’re on top of the world.

If you’re in the area, hope you are able to get out and enjoy one of these fun hikes. Next time we’re in the Bay we are definitely hitting up El Corte de Madera again 🙂

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Halloween 2020 from your bizarre neighbors next door

Childless Yuppie Scum: AKA Your Neighbors

2020 is scary enough so we wanted to lighten the Halloween holiday mood by digging deep into our obscure 80s movie favorites: The Childless Yuppie Scum that live next-door to the Griswold’s in Christmas Vacation!

These silver sauna jumpsuits were the #1 thing that pulled this costume off. I found them by searching Amazon and there were many options, just put in “Todd and Margo” and “silver jumpsuit” and you’ll see a variety. It was also chill to sit around in these badboys and be “dressed up” without actually doing anything major.

The biggest time constraint was fixing my hair! I curled it with a tiny rod and teased it out big and put up to mock Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (Sidenote I just love JLD. Elaine will always be one of my top favorite characters of all time).

Why is the carpet wet, Todd?!
I don’t KNOW, Margo!

Because of Covid we hung back at our good pals place to watch movies and order pizza. It was a very mellow and safe Halloween.

Hope you all had as much fun as you possibly could have during a pandemic on the weekend before a major election!

love, your childless yuppie scum neighbors

Hallow-Qween Costumes

If you know anything about me, you know how much I LOVE Halloween and how much I enjoy unique costumes. Some years I have much more time on my hands and can sew up an elaborate eccentric costume that wows people, other years even my “lazy costumes” I try to make as original as I can. The point is, I love Halloween and even with minimal effort you can have a BALL of a time! It’s been a few years since I recapped our Hallow-Queen efforts, so let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Paint me like one of your French girls… [Titanic, anyone?]

I’ve posted about our previous costumes on my Ghosts of Halloweens past write-up, chock full of ridiculous concepts like the Double Rainbow (hey it was 2010) or our Best Little Whorehouse in Texas couple costume (this was John’s intro to my ridiculous costume ambitions and our first together). And here is our 2016 couple costume of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, one of my personal favorites because we went to a dance party on a boat and I walked around yelling things all night long like “I was a big fat SLUT?” and “ANDREW!” (if you love the original Overboard as much as me then this makes sense. And no, I will NOT watch the remake).

In 2017, John and I decided to be Janet Snakehole and Burt Macklin from Parks and Rec because we were lazy and just finished watching all of the seasons together. Though I will admit it’s not my most original costume – it was a lot of fun quipping off random one liners from the show to strangers in bars who got it.

2018 felt like a big ambitious year for us. We went as the fish/lady couple from The Shape of Water and turned many heads. We were even featured on the Fox Searchlight Instagram and Facebook channels! It all happened as a joke one drunken night, where John suggested it would be funny because it won the Oscar that year for best movie, and who in their right mind would do it? I then made it a reality by finding this insanely funny and ridiculous mask based off the character, found a teal onesie that he agreed to wear, and then crafted fish fins and FISH ABS out of felt that I later bedazzled. It was amazing. I just wore a plain red dress from the movie poster and also did a costume change into her denim/green apron getup so I didn’t make much sense without my fishman <3.

2019 also was a bomb dot com costume because we love John Malkovich SO MUCH we decided to go as Being John Malkovich. John was Craig (John Cusack’s character) and I was Lotte (Cameron Diaz) with my comforting chimpanzee Elijah. This one was so fun because I ordered a wig and ratted out the hair with a super tiny curling wand and brushed it out to try to make it look more like her frizzy hair. I think we did good with what we had!

This one was so much fun! We just loved making print outs of John Malkovich’s face for those sticks. What a hoot and show stopper at the party. John even made his own version of the marionette doll and we filmed “Craig’s Dance of Dispair” – L.M.A.O.

Halloween 2020 is now upon us. A weird year and not as festive as years past. We definitely have a chill costume planned, but it’s a great reference for those of you who love 80’s comedies. Check back in and see what we do, follow me on IG @djemils.

Have a safe, fun, and Happy Hallo-Qween!

Don’t pop my hot air Balloon Fiesta! #twistedsisterblowshotair New Mexico October 2018

I am the youngest and have 3 older sisters, and if you’ve read previous posts you’ve seen a few sister trips (Nashville, Charleston, British Columbia) and know that sister travel time is important to me.

My closest sister in age, Bryana, and I have traveled together the most in my life; we even have a pseudo name for ourselves when we get together formed from an inside karaoke joke. #TwistedSister came about because that’s what we call ourselves when we sing “More Than Words” by Extreme, which is the most mellow and bizarre karaoke duet ever. Obviously this means that for the most part, we try to sing this song karaoke whenever we go on trips together, which I’m sure is rather exciting and annoying for all other karaoke patrons.

In October of 2018 we decided to meet in the middle (as I lived in California at the time) and experience the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We quickly made plans to participate, hot air balloon ride and all, just a few weeks out. To clarify, Albuquerque is one of the most popular destinations for hot air ballooning due to the location and winds, so there are several companies that regularly offer rides. There is also a once a year Balloon Fiesta, complete with hundreds of balloons, food, drinks, and games to experience while watching them take flight. It’s extremely expensive to book a ride in one of these balloons, so we opted for a regular ride outside of the festival for our balloon experience, and got tickets for the main event as a viewer which is exactly what I would do again if I had the chance.

When I told my friends about this idea, the most common immediate reaction was “are you sure you WANT to ride in a hot air balloon? That sounds scary” and I said it was “NBD, and duh.” (But for those of you that don’t know me, I have anxiety around anything that could potentially cause me harm or more specifically, DEATH, but I also oddly like doing things outside of my comfort zone even if I have major anxiety about it. I TOTALLY wasn’t googling hot air ballooning accidents or anything prior to takeoff…)

Thank goodness we opted for the early flight, because we eventually took off over an hour late and the flight scheduled after us ended up being cancelled. Though waking up at 5am that morning after arriving before midnight was not fun, it was so worth it for the experience of being up, up and away! And for those of you interested, my sis Bryana doesn’t really have a fear of heights nor is she as anxious as me and has even been on a hot air balloon before, and once we got in the balloon, I was the one that wasn’t bothered at all and she was nervous. It’s like we switched places! Of all the things I’ve done and felt anxious about WHILE doing it, riding a hot air balloon would be at the very bottom of the list. It was bizarre.

The view from our balloon! All the other balloons are from the fiesta.

We asked our balloon guy the strangest story that he had experienced while up in the air. Our basket was shared with about 12 other folks (you can select the size you want at booking, if you want something more intimate it’s more expensive) and he explained that in another ride with a similar basket, a man proposed to his girlfriend and everyone clapped. 5 minutes later, another man proposed to his girlfriend and everyone thought it was fake but then also eventually clapped. He said the 2nd GF was pissed. I mean – can you imagine? Why didn’t he abort the mission and do it another way? (I really wish this happened on our ride though to be fair).

Looking up

After we soared in air for several hours we went downtown for an early Mexican lunch and shopping in the square. There was not ONE place that served alcohol which made it a bummer when we wanted to cheers to the completion of our first hot air balloon ride. I found that whole thing super strange, but chalked it up to perhaps maybe downtown Albuquerque doesn’t get many tourists looking for happy hour or to celebrate. There were mostly older folks and churches though so I dunno <shrug>.

We also ended up getting our Big Dipper / Little Dipper matching sister tattoos RANDOMLY. We picked a tattoo place in the heart of a hipster neighborhood, walked in, and took the plunge. It felt a little weird just going into a random spot that we had no real information on, but we’ve both gotten tattoos before in similar circumstances so it wasn’t that out of the norm for us. And they turned out great!

We then napped, had dinner, and of course – karaoked. We also witnessed one of THEE strangest singing experiences of our karaoke careers.

Picture it: a young teenage girl seductively wearing a short black dress, red corset, super high red stripper shoes and lots of dramatic makeup sang “Phantom of the Opera” – in classical opera style – alongside….her MOM, who opted to wear oversized mom jeans and a sweater vest with sneakers who sang the part of the Phantom. The mom looked like the SNL parody of “Mom Jeans” with Tina Fey. This memory is forever burned in my brain.

The next morning we again woke up SUPER early to make our way to see the morning launches at the Balloon Fiesta. While it was incredibly hard getting up early, yet AGAIN (can you tell I’m not an early morning person??) it was so worth it to see the little balloons light up in dusk. It was breathtaking to see them all go up at once!

We then drove up to Sante Fe for frito pie and an afternoon of art at Meow Wolf and the Nedra Matteucci Galleries. We didn’t have a ton of time so crammed into Meow Wolf for about 3 hours, though I’ve heard people staying all day long and even coming back multiple days to figure out the puzzle.

The whole point is to solve a very layered and crazy family mystery that deals a lot in the metaphysical world. There are clues everywhere and the tiniest details can lead you down a rabbit hole. You can try to piece everything together and figure out what happened, or you can also go through it and take in the unique design and experience knowing you won’t be able to solve it. It is very crowded and you can spend HOURS combing through one exhibit.

Visually stunning! Around every nook and cranny were impeccable details and unique forms of art.
Anyone want a seance?

It’s a unique art immersion experience that we’re so thrilled to have seen and participated in, however it’s incredibly overwhelming and overstimulating, so afterwards the low energy of the art gallery was much welcomed.

The next part of our trip was my favorite, as we spent the next two nights at Ojo Caliente Spa outside of Taos in a pueblo hut. It was amazing to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by healing natural spring waters and spa, breathing in the palo santo and relaxing. I would do this again in a heartbeat, it was incredible! (Though I think they recently experienced a fire and it’s temporarily closed).

The waters felt so good, it wasn’t very crowded, and we got massages at the spa! We also totally didn’t watch Young Guns before going to bed…totally didn’t…

The last day of our trip was spent driving around Taos, exploring the historic pueblo, and getting the best green chile mexican food of the trip.

This gorge was amazing!

I’m so thankful I’m able to do trips like this with my family, it’s nice to be able to make memories one-on-one since my family is so large. Bryana has visited me the most of anyone, we have a special sister bond ❤

I can’t wait to be able to travel again and explore something new! But for now, I’m thankful for the memories. New Mexico was a blast! I got to ride in a hot air balloon, got a tattoo, dove into an immersive art experience, relaxed in healing mineral waters, got a massage, saw a pueblo and ate delish food all in THREE DAYS. Just wow.

Vancouver Vibes in 48 Hours

Piggy backing off my recent post reminiscing our hiking adventures in British Columbia, I wanted to review our collective 48 hours in Vancouver – so here it goes!

We arrived in the evening and made our way to the old fashioned Victorian Hotel in the Gastown district. Before booking our hotel I researched the neighborhoods a bit and wanted something that felt unique to the area with walking distance to fun restaurants and bars. Plus I love historical areas so the Gastown district was perfect because we found an eccentric spot close by for dinner and drinks at The Diamond! We stopped at another cute bar on our way back to the hotel and took in the nightlife and I remember feeling like I could spend a good chunk of time in the area.

Burrata, basil, and heirloom tomato salad at The Diamond.
The Victorian Hotel

The next day we hit up the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge park just outside the city. We didn’t rent a car because we were only in town for a very short period of time so we opted to use the free bus transit service the park offers from select parts of town. Finding the location for transit was super easy and was about a 15 minute ride (the ticket also included a free ride back to the city after the park, so it was a great perk!).

The suspension bridges of Capilano.

We had a great time exploring the area up in the air! It was such a unique and fun experience in the massive redwoods of Canada. Tip, if you’re interested in exploring I would go as early as possible in the morning because this park gets super crowded and it’s hard to have an intimate experience. We didn’t like how packed it got towards the end of our visit, but it was so pretty we didn’t care.

Once we made our way back to town we wanted to explore more of the Gastown district as well as downtown, so we walked around and got a few beers and bites along the way.

The famous clock of Gastown!

This is the point of our trip where we met up with my sister Krista and drove off to Whistler for our hiking adventures for a few days, but we all planned additional time in Vancouver on our way back.

After our amazing time out in the mountains of Whistler, we made our way back to the buzzing city life of Vancouver to our hotel downtown. We felt so sore and tired that we wanted to treat ourselves to a super nice spot to rest for our last night and it did NOT disappoint. I mean look at this view!

View from our hotel room at the Hyatt Regency, in downtown Vancouver.

We treated ourselves to the best pasta dinner and wine, but I didn’t get any photos of this experience nor do I remember where we went (just the dinner conversation will have to live on in my memory ❤ ). Krista left super early the next morning, so John and I spent the rest of the next day hopping around different breweries and boutiques in Gastown since the weather was pretty rainy and there are many good options close to us.

We LOVED Postmark Brewery – from the design of the logo and coasters to the interior design of the building, to the food menu and of course the beer. This was our favorite brewery hands down. You MUST check them out if you are in the area (plus their IG page is gorgeous and I still follow them 2 years later).

Hamburger with a side of the BEST tomato soup I’ve ever had at Postmark Brewery.
John is a Saison man.

We walked throughout more of the Gastown area which was so charming and fun. Not to mention we found some fun souvenirs and enjoyed walking the cobble sidewalks and taking in the vibe of the city.

We found the cutest place on the corner with delish brews and mac & cheese with views of the area called Peckinpah. I remember they played vintage disco music from San Francisco on the record player and knew this place was legit. Definitely stop there if that’s your thing!

Please note, we all wore plaid the entire trip. It was uniform – when in Canada, wear plaid. PLAID FOR LIFE!

Loved our experience in Vancouver and can’t wait to go back!

Bobby Hill forever.

Wish we had more time to explore the city and surrounding areas, but I just know we will go back because this corner of the world is so damn beautiful and fun! I still sport this plaid Canadian jacket I got 2 years ago. From the moment we arrived I felt like I belonged in Vancouver and enjoyed every minute of our trip – the city, the hiking, the beauty of the wilderness. I love the PNW so much and this was just an extension of that.

Mad love and respect for Canada…until next time!

British Columbia Hiking Adventures – September 2018

I would never call myself an “outdoorsy person” until a few years ago. And even then, it’s not natural for me, but more like I’ve grown into not being “an indoors-only person.” Sort of like an indoor-outdoor cat. While living in California and being with John for many years, I became more comfortable with hiking, camping, and wilderness adventures that would have definitely intimated me 15 years ago. But adventure has always called me, especially when it’s outside of my comfort zone! So when my sister Krista asked us if we wanted to join her on an REI guided hiking trip in British Columbia, we didn’t hesitate.

It was 3 days of hiking ranging anywhere from 7 to 10 miles per day, upward of 3,000 elevation gain in a single hike. Labeled as moderate it was no joke, and to train John and I did more advantageous hikes (2-3 a month, from 5-8 miles each) for 10-12 weeks prior to leaving. This meant I had to acclimate quickly, get boots that were easy to break in (hello Danner boots which I LOVE), and build my endurance. While I have always been a workout fiend completing multiple half marathons and ongoing weekly circuit training sessions, serious hiking is a totally different skill set, and despite that I was in shape – I felt very unprepared for what I was about to get into! I will post the hikes we did for training with a whole separate piece on my favorite hikes in California, but just know many miles went into preparing for this experience throughout summer of 2018.

The REI portion of the trip was 4 days / 3 nights at the Whistler Lodge with about 12 other guests plus 2 guides. It was nice being able to hike throughout the day and stay in a comfortable room and hot tub after (as opposed to backpacking) but I’m pretty sure anything you do in this area would be considered amazing due to the sheer beauty of everything. John and I met my sister in Vancouver and rode up to Whistler together, and we sandwiched some Vancouver fun on both ends of the hiking portion (which I’ll cover in a different post).

We hiked in our group of other like-minded individuals from all over, though John and I tended to stick with Krista the majority of the time in the back, as it was challenging for all of us at different times. Plus I enjoy taking my time and hiking slower than others (maybe because I’m short with short legs? I don’t feel the need to rush and walk fast and lead the way, I’d rather be the tail end so that when or if danger appears I am likely more safe 😉 ha!).

Day One was spent hiking all of the Joffre Lakes trail, from the first to the second lake, and the hardest portion of getting to the third lake with the glacier at the very top. This was one of the most BEAUTIFUL places I’ve ever seen in my life. It is the picturesque vision you imagine being enthralled in when you think of hiking in Canada.

On our way up we made a stop at the second lake and John had an incredible nature experience – check out this bird that landed on his hand as if he was a character in a Disney movie!

Going up was steep but I did it without using any poles. Once we were up at the top lake we were able to view the glacier and enjoy a nice picnic. However it started to rain and coming down was super challenging without poles so one of the guides lent me theirs and I was able to make it down the large slippery boulders. This was the scariest moment for me as I felt very anxious being the last one in the group, moving slowly to ensure that I didn’t fall in the pouring rain – but in the end I made it out only 15 minutes behind everyone else and was able to take my time, so I call that a win.

Day Two we made our way up Skywalk Trail on Rainbow Mountain in a beautiful old growth forest. It felt as if we were hiking in Lord of the Rings or some fantasy flick and was one of the coolest settings I’ve ever been in!

I used the poles for the entire journey on this day because this hike was super steep (upwards of 3,100 elevation gain), and because we were slow pokes we broke the bigger group of 12 into two, with the fast walkers leading and our group casually took our time. This was nice to not feel rushed and enjoy the amazing scenery, but also because this was a very long hike and if you had any goal to make it to the top you had to book it (even that group didn’t get all the way up after hiking 9 hours).

Krista also experienced a freak accident! Somehow a yellow jacket nest ended up on the ground and after many people walked over it, they buzzed out piping mad and stung her 4 times on her legs! It was so crazy and she ended up getting steroid shots from her legs ballooning up. We laughed about it later but in the moment was so bizarre.

This was John’s favorite hike and a special moment for us to share together!

After hiking we went out to dinner with our group and got to know everyone a little bit more; there as a newlywed couple from Ohio, an older couple from Houston, someone who came alone from Maryland who also went on an REI adventure in Iceland, a newly divorced older woman from South Carolina – so many unique folks!

We had one more excursion on Whistler + Blackcomb Mountain (where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held) to close out our REI adventure.

The weather turned extremely cold unexpectedly and the area had the first snowfall of the season over Labor Day Weekend! This changed our plans because none of us were prepared for hiking in the snow, and we had to do a less intense trail on the middle of the mountain (as opposed to the top). While riding the ski lift up to the top before we changed direction, I completely freaked out and felt so ill-prepared for the snow, (all while Krista laughed at me 😉 ) so I felt great about changing plans. Though John did try to go as far as he could into the unknown abyss…

It was nice closing out the intense few days of hiking with something a bit easier and relaxing, as that is my kind of hiking! But I know we definitely want to go back and explore. I think British Columbia Canada is one of (if not THEE) most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

The next area in Canada we want to hike is in Banff National Park, and hopefully after the nightmare of Covid we can make that happen! I had an incredible time with REI on this guided trip and would totally book something similar again. Having a guide allowed us to experience places we never would have found on our own and we felt safe and relaxed not having to worry about how we would get from point A to point B. And we loved our group too!

I’m also glad I got to experience something life-changing with not only my amazing partner John, but with my sister Krista as well. We loved our trip and frequently bring up those memories. ❤

Krista didn’t miss traveling together in that crazy white van though…that will not be missed LOL.

Feel free to ask me any questions about this REI trip or specific trails mentioned!

I miss blogging

Life is crazy. It takes us on paths that we never thought we would travel. The last two and half years have been such an insane rollercoaster for me, I barely had time to hear myself think – let alone time to blog.

But now I’m in a much different space, and I’ve missed it. And since 2020 has basically gone bust, now is the perfect time to reconnect and recount all of the good memories I’ve experienced over the last few years that I didn’t get around to writing about here.

So over the next few weeks and months I’ll recap those exciting adventures with you. Things might get deep or more substantial than I’ve conveyed in the past, but I am different. I am stronger and wiser and more open to being myself online. And I want to look back at these moments and remember how they made me feel. So let’s get going!

I hope you enjoy learning more about my adventures and myself ❤

In the wake of a global pandemic, I’m turning around my career

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COVID19 has the world turned upside down. We are sheltering in place, numerous businesses are closed, and people are dying by the thousands. With 30 million Americans out of work (myself included) the current economic depression we are entering has made matters dismal. Finding work in this current state is more fiercely competitive than ever. So much uncertainty is in the air that we don’t even know what to do with ourselves. How do you stand out in the hoards of other applicants, applying to all of the same jobs as you?

The Digital Marketing Nanodegree from Udacity will teach you valuable marketing lessons in this ever changing fast paced industry, permitting you to shine like the star you are to future employers. The flexible online program will grow your marketing skills through straightforward content and access to mentors, allowing you to develop into a marketing pro. The program is also perfect if you are still currently employed or are home with your children because of the flexible go-at-your-own pace. This is an easy to follow course taught by industry leaders that will provide you an authentic certificate upon completion. Want to own your own business someday? What better way than investing in yourself now? Being a digital marketing expert will provide you with the skills to successfully market and promote your business, grow your customer base, and increase awareness of your brand. 

That’s why I’ve decided to take this time to brush up on my skills and become certified. I’m not allowing the uncertainty of the global pandemic bring me down; I’m taking my career into my own hands and embarking on an educational journey that will not only make me a better marketer, but will help keep me sane in this time of unemployment. Want to join me? Follow me on Instagram as I document my experience as a Udacity DMND student!

Nashvillagers

 

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This past March was my dad’s 70th birthday, and my sisters and I celebrated by taking him to Nashville (similar to the Charleston trip we made with our mom back in October). My father has gotten pretty deep into genealogy research and discovering distant relatives, so he was stoked on heading to Nashville as his ancestors hailed from Tennessee. #TheOnlyTenISee 😉

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We started off at the Ryman Auditorium, the ORIGINAL Grand Ole Opry, with a show from the Gatlin Brothers! It was really neat to sit in the original auditorium pews where many others enjoyed their favorite country and western singers from so long ago. We even did a backstage tour and hungout in Johnny Cash’s old room. My dad was so excited!

30222221_10111451093503700_4163321834030639112_nBEYOND cool.

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The main thing my dad wanted to do was genealogy research, so we headed to the Tennessee state archives for a deep dive into the history of Blount County, on a search for Cindarella Davis. We made memories that I’ll cherish forever ❤ …and if you’ve never been to a state archive, I highly suggest!

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One thing we weren’t expecting was the absurdly cold weather in April (it snowed one day!) so we opted for a tour of the Belle Meade Plantation to take advantage of being indoors. We learned that they bred horses, including the famous Bonnie Scotland, descendant of the majority of Derby winning horses! (What a crazy horse family tree that would be… 😉 ) Also the Derby used to be in Tennessee and only moved to Kentucky because of a law that outlawed horse betting in TN in the early 1900s. Oh and they made terrible wine and decent spirits, but the wine pourer HATED us…. HA ha ha.

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I LOVED our AirBnb house in East Nashville! It’s the sort of Bungalow meets Victorian style home of my dreams and I can’t wait to buy something similar someday. Our neighborhood was ADORABLE and we were even in walking distance (3 blocks) to the gayest, diviest bar around Nashville and had a phenomenal karaoke night out at Lipstick Lounge.

30222160_10111456613581420_4782410963631319442_nSisters on a porch swing.

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It was so nice to have some quality time with dad as we stuffed ourselves with artisan donuts, southern fried chicken, BEER, and all the fixins! Eating out at The Flipside (must order the bloody mary) and The Mockingbird (cough cough GET THE COCKTAIL IN A BAG – you won’t regret it) were the most memorable and delish!

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Drinking in honkytonks were a BLAST and made me really question whether or not Austin was really the live music capital of the world….I really felt like I saw so many talented singers and groups all over town, on every floor of every available bar. Bachelorette and bachelor parties EVERYWHERE though, heads up.

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It was cold but these boots kept me fashionable AND warm 🙂

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I had a great time, TN! I hope to come back someday in the WARM WEATHER and swim in some water holes, hike, and also head towards Memphis to Dollywood…. SOME DAY.

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City By The Bay

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It’s well known that San Francisco is gorgeous AF. We really are spoiled here, between the rolling mountains, wine country, ocean and bay, amazing Victorian architecture and more, it’s no wonder SF is one of the most sought out places to live in the world and why I thank my lucky stars that I have rent control.

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But if you aren’t a local there are many other unique and interesting things that make SF eclectic….like:

  • Hanging out “in the park” is what everyone does – there are parks EVERYWHERE, and it’s a perfectly logical thing to get together at one of them (Golden Gate, Alamo Square, Dolores, Crissy Field – many more!) and picnic ALL DAY, day drink, play games, or even smoke on the weekends.
  • There are more costumed events here than in any other city! Bay to breakers, the binge drinking event built around wearing costumes and walking a running race route, is the biggest costumed event in the Bay all year.  Of course there is also Halloween, but there are many themed bar crawls and events that require costumes at all times of the year (Victorian ball, anyone?!), no one bats an eyelash when seeing many people dressed up (or even nude, as we are the biggest nude town in America as well).
  • It’s perfectly acceptable for vendors to walk around parks, selling edibles and their baked good treats like brownies and truffles, for consumption in public.
  • Apparently, as I learned on a documentary show on Vice called Slutever (omg great name BTW) that there are weed oriented sex products and parties on the reg in the Bay. I’ve lived here 10 years and never knew that, but now I do and am not surprised one bit!

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I love this goober’s smile ❤ R E S P E C T

Whether or not you want to partake in any of those things, the Bay is a CHILL place to be, where you can be a mermaid any day of the week and no one would think that is strange. I love this big weirdo of a town! ❤