Bonjour Montrรฉal!

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This year has been a pretty busy time for me with travel, especially work travel. Luckily I had the chance to attend a gaming conference in Montreal last week, during their FIRST BLIZZARD OF THE YEAR! Wooo! Even though I’m from Texas, most people don’t realize that I was actually born IN A BLIZZARD in Germany (or at the time, West-Germany as the Berlin wall was still intact) and I also spent about 4.5 years growing up in Ohio. I have had my fair share of experience with cold weather and snow, and I love it. My body temperature naturally runs hot, so hot temps are pretty miserable for me. (HOW DID I EVER LIVE IN TEXAS?! I have no idea…I am a furnace that profusely sweats. But moving on to more attractive things…like Montreal!)

I actually made it to town a night early to meet up with my good ole concert buddy, Jordan, who lives close to the border in Vermont. We hung out in the trendy Mile-End neighborhood (which also happens to be one of the coolest places to live in the world, who knew?!) and caught up, ate delish food, and karaoked at a really cool LGBT dive bar! #karaokequeen

IMG_9043.jpgIf this isn’t a poster for a guaranteed good time, I don’t know what is!

I started the week off by brainstorming with coworkers in a quaint and super cozy cafe with the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. #getinmybelly

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While I did have meetings, client dinners, and events to attend, I was able to have a good amount of solo time to walk around the city and explore on my own. Old Port of Montreal stole my heart – it might be the most charming city in North America! AND THE FREEEEENCH! I oddly took French in high school (yes I know everyone else took Spanish but I was the different, alternative, quirky girl – OKAY?!!) and conveniently forgot everything (I DO remember how to ask to get to the bathrooms though, and that’s a very important ask!).

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Late night poutine at La Banquise was everything. We opted for the traditional poutine PLUS bacon. It was heaven. THE END.

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LOOK AT THIS CRAZY SNOW! It happened within 12 hours and what was once an easy walk around the corner to the conference center became snow ridden.

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Inside the conference center was amazingly beautiful and WARM.

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Snow selfie

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The last night in Montreal I actually had time to get dinner alone and explore a bit before the big end of conference party, and I was SO happy for some solo adventures!

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This restaurant was where Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities back in 1842. They also happened to have bomb dot com spaghetti, which is one of my favorite foods, and just what I needed to combat this cold weather. SO cozy!

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I mean LOOK AT THIS PIC! It does a great job of capturing the cozy winter wonderland that I found myself in.

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I randomly stumbled into this underground speakeasy called The Coldroom while I was in Old Montreal. I found it on Yelp and saw it had 5 STARS, so I thought, why not? It took me a minute to realize that this was no regular bar but indeed an underground speakeasy that required me to ring the doorbell of the CORRECT door and wait for someone to let me in. I waited 5 minutes in the snow in an alley wondering if this was a good idea. Long story short, it was THE BEST idea I had all week. After descending down a few flights of stairs underground (and yes, again wondering if this was a good idea, me being led down a dark stairwell underground as a female alone in a “foreign country” but trusted my gut that it would be worth it) – I finally stepped into one of the most magical bars I’ve ever seen. Total privacy. Everyone was local and spoke French. Unique cocktails – it was perfect! I opted for a beet cocktail conveniently called “Beauty and the Beets” ๐Ÿ™‚ which sounds weird but was insanely good. Before leaving, the bartender told me to check out the Christmas pop up bar in the hotel across the street, which you can’t find anything about online. Soooo, I had to ya know?

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This is the view from the top of the Hotel William Grey at the Miracle Bar Christmas pop-up. It was fully decked out in Christmas decor and everyone who worked there wore ugly sweaters. From this table you can see the Ferris wheel in the port. It was a lovely surprise and I’m happy it worked out that I could visit.

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After my solo jaunt, I headed to our close out event with clients. It was held in a co-op work space, so not really like a bar or event venue. It was a crazy time, and a group of us headed out to karaoke after in a tiny bar back over in the Mile-End. I think I sang like 10 songs but who is counting… โค #foreverkaroake

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All in all my first time to Montreal was a complete success! I wish I had more time to explore, but I need to come back with John. Apparently they have a really cool biodome and also they have IglooFest in the winter, which is basically a crazy EDM festival in the snow (GOOGLE IMAGE IT – IT’S NUTS). But I really want to come back in the summer when we can do more things outdoors, like hike or kayak or ride bikes.

Sweet Montreal, a slice of Europe in North America.

Au Revoir~

Emily

GUALALAAAAA LOVE

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Last month John and I had a little getaway up north to Gualala, just right off the coast. It very much felt like the vibe from the AMC series of Bates Motel, if that means anything to you (not gonna lie, if it’s creepy I’ve probably seen it). We found a badass Airbnb on a private property in the redwood forest WITH A PRIVATE HOT TUB!!!!!

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It was so nice to get off the grid for a little bit. Working in tech and living in SF can make one lost in touch with nature and the outside world of not being on your phone all the time, which is why we always make an effort to get outside and hike and remove ourselves from technology. We were blessed with great weather that allowed us to kayak for a few hours, and it was a ton of fun just the two of us, the river, kayak, and sunshine.

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Northern California is just SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL, I tell you what (any King of the Hill fans here?). While mid-kayak we stumbled into this campsite off the river that was in off-season. It felt strange walking around this abandoned campsite, exploring the space alone. Although this particular campsite was super awesome and beautiful, I would totally go camping there in the future.

IMG_8014.jpgHello 1983? Can you bring back 80’s camping movie vibes into current modern day media? K, thanks~

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The water was pretty low since it was in fall season. John had to drag us through a couple low points barefoot which was funny to experience. But if you happen to make a trip to Gualala, I highly suggest kayaking or camping as it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

IMG_7987.jpgHOT TUB TIME MACHINE HAPPY HOUR FOR THE WIN!

Relaxing in the woods was just what we needed. It could have been a scary movie at any point, as most start usually with a cabin in the woods or a hike gone wrong. But luckily we didn’t fall victim to any weirdos out there lurkin’. (#murderino #stayoutoftheforest)

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One night we ate out at St. Orres, this enchanting old timey parlor house that serves delicious fancy cocktails. We definitely knew we were in a small town as we were asked frequent questions about who we were, where we were from, what were we doing in Gualala, WHAT WERE OUR RISING SIGNS?!, etc. It was a completely different vibe from the city, that’s for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

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We took one last hike from the back of our Airbnb to this glorious viewpoint before heading out on our next adventure up the road at Hearn Gulch Cove.

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We found the enchanting pathway that lead from the top of the cliff down into the cove, and felt like we were the only people on earth!

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IMG_8083.jpgGoonies vibes, anyone? #ourtimedownhere

After saying goodbye to Gualala we drove down the beautiful PCH and ended up at Fort Ross, an old Russian fort from the mid-1800’s, because #history.

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What a much needed refreshing weekend with my boo in a gorgeous and relaxing environment! Happy to share our experiences with you. โค

 

 

Tune Talk: Disco Delight

How has it been that I’ve had this blog for over a year and haven’t posted yet about tunes? I as a DJ have failed you! I LOVED making mix tapes for my friends and boyfriends when I was in middle and high school. Waiting for the exact moment to press play at the start of the song on the radio was exhilarating.ย  It took anywhere from 3-6 hours of listening to the radio to create one tape. Ahhh sweet satisfaction.

After Napster boomed and iTunes came about, it was easy (AND legal…AHEM) to download songs, create playlists, and burn CDs. I did this religiously. Making personalized CDs was my jam and if you got one you were hella important to me. โค I always wanted to work on soundtracking for films, but that’s a job usually reserved forย ย  THEE director, and one doesn’t really get a job working on soundtracks unless you are a musician and composer and compile your own score. It’s no wonder that I became a DJ so that I could explore songs and share them with people for their own enjoyment.

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ENTER DISCO. Ahhhh the glamorous life of Disco. I love it all. The glitz. The lights. The vibe. How it’s ALL INCLUSIVE – any sexual orientation, race, or gender can enjoy it (though it was mocked largely by white cis-gendered males who loved rock n roll and felt threatened by their own homophobia, but THAT will be for a later post). I never knew how much I needed or loved disco, until I came to San Francisco. THERE ARE SO MANY JAMZ I don’t even know where to begin. But if you follow me on Spotify, you can explore my Disco Delight playlist below.

Get lost in disco, envision yourself on the dancefloor with the lights, the people, the energy of the tunes! Ahhhh. Speaking of disco parties, Go Bang! is San Francisco’s BEST disco party, and tomorrow is the 9th anniversary! My bud and Bedazzler better half, Sergio, taught me how to mix and I’ve DJed Go Bang many times in the past. What a wonderful celebration that this party has been around just shy of a decade. WOW! That’s impressive. He throws it with legendary disco DJ, Steve Fabus, who has been behind the decks since the 70’s in Chicago, NYC, and SF, and their good friend Prince Wolf. The people who attend this party are amazing, the music literally RULES, and it feels like a time capsule – transporting you back in time to another dimension where love is love is love and everyone is equal on the dance floor.

Can I just also say that disco fashion is AMAZING and always plays an influence with my wardrobe – velvet, glitter, gold, SEQUINS! Need I say more?!

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More talk of tunes will be had in the future, xo.

 

Austintacious

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Austin is hands down my favorite part of Texas. I cherish the time in my life when I went to UT and lived in Austin, I never thought I would leave. I felt very connected to the city because of the unique culture and being the LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL of the country! Being part of the music scene shaped my individuality and made me more confident in myself and how I expressed myself to the outside world. Austin truly is a special place, and while I don’t always get to visit when I am back in Texas as my family resides in Katy/Houston, the times where I get to experience ATX brings me right back to my happy place. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We decided to surprise my parents for Thanksgiving this year because they have been through so much with Hurricane Harvey (you can read more about it on my sister’s blog as she documents the process of them rebuilding their home). But before we made our way to Katy, we wanted a night of debauchery all to ourselves in my old stomping ground!

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We stayed off of Town Lake, close to Rainey Street where all the old Victorian homes are converted into bars. It wasn’t John’s first time to Austin, but he loved it more than the previous visit due to the fact that we had moderate temperatures rather than triple digit heat. We had a lovely stroll around Town Lake, made our way to Congress for some delish BBQ, and bar hopped from Dirty 6th over to the East side.

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Dirty 6th is where I used to go out back in my early college days. They call it Dirty 6th because it’s like a smaller version of Bourbon street and can get pretty wild on the weekends full of underage drinkers with fake IDs who can’t handle alcohol, variousย  bachelorette and bachelor parties from all over, blended in with college students and tourists. It’s a mix of people with cheap drinks and shots with not a lot of rules (i.e. it’s not uncommon to see people casually vomiting and having sex in parking lots. TRUE STORY I SAW THIS ONCE). FUN TIMES! hahahahaha. This is why you have to hangout when it’s not crowded, i.e. during the middle of a Tuesday before a holiday when all of the students are gone.

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Me, chillin’ on the rooftop of one of my favorite spots when I was 21, Maggie Mae’s.

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This might be the cutest dive bar sign I’ve ever seen!

I love vintage inspired neon signs SO MUCH. Since I’ve moved away Austin has definitely stepped up their neon sign game, it’s almost as strong as Portland – which is the King of neon signs. This bar was kinda weird but had a cute sign so I’ll give them that ๐Ÿ™‚

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We always walk pretty much everywhere when we are on vacation. We enjoy exploring neighborhoods, stopping for a drink or two along the way, and exploring things you might miss out on if you just took a car. People also don’t walk in Texas so we def got a lot of looks – but I NEED TO HIT MY STEPS, dammit!

Shangri-La is my favorite bar and I HAVE to go every time I’m in the city. I love the hodgepodge of furniture, beautiful light fixtures, and quirky patio and vibe (I swear I would live on the East side if I was still there). I will never get over how cheap it is to drink in Austin compared to SF – let’s just say happy hour in Austin is around $3-4 a drink while in SF it can be $5-7 ($7 for HH WTF?!). Also – NEVER FORGET to photodocument your memories when a photo booth pops up.

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Later on in the night we met up with my niece (who is pre-med at St. Edward’s) and had a BOMB DOT COM Mexican feast at El Borrego. I normally frequent Polvo’s when I’m in town, but the wait was just insane and I honestly think the food at ELB was better (while the ambiance at Polvo’s is nicer, so depending on what you are going for it’s a toss up).

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After dinner we made our way to Rainey street for some delicious local beers and donuts, before calling it a night. We opted for breakfast tacos from Juan in a Million in the morning prior to our journey to Houston, which was so effing delish OMGEEE. I always talk up breakfast tacos so much to John, and as a California dude he has never understood the hype, always preferring burritos. This time he ate his words (literally) and agreed that breakfast tacos are where it’s at, and we need them STAT in SF (howww do we not already?!).

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You’re Juan in a millionnnnnnnn! (I always hear that song from Miss Congeniality when I see this sign).

Austin, it was a blast like always! I will always love you, my first love โค but there was a Thanksgiving feast waiting for us in Houston so we had to say goodbye. Don’t hate us, k??

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Hallowkeen + Other Fall Updates

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My oh my don’t I love a good Halloween and fall season! I guess they don’t call me the Queen of Halloween with my peers for nothing…

This year John and I decided to be Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole, the fun alter egos of Andy and April on Parks & Rec. It’s a pretty easy costume that takes minimal effort but is still unique, cute, and comfortable (and if I do say so myself, being comfortable is alllll the rage as you age ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  ). I admit that it’s more fulfilling for me to put in hard work on a costume for many weeks (like the Bjork swan dress I made a few years ago) rather than opting for something simple and easy, but it’s impossible to have energy like that year in and year out. Only Heidi Klum can wear the TRUE Hallowkween crown

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This cute vintage veil pillbox hat was only $20 on Amazon! Now I have something to wear to the weddings of my mere frenemies for the future to come!

Even Beatrix dressed up! This year she opted for Meowry Catoinette and meowed all night “let them eat cake!” just like you would expect.

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Look at that beauty! โค

Fall is also my favorite time for weddings. Fall foliage makes for great scenery and a fun impromptu photo shoot. Just check us out at John’s step-brother’s recent fall wedding down in Soledad…

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How sweet is this crushed blue velvet bell sleeve dress? I bought it from Elsie’s closet last year. It’s an original Red Velvet original creation by way of A Beautiful Mess (RIP Red Velvet).

John is becoming quite the Instagram boyfriend if I don’t say so myself. He only learns from the best I guess!

While we only have a little bit of fall time left before winter “officially” comes, let’s remember to enjoy these beautiful moments before they slip away and I have fall fomo for another 9 months…

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Corny for Halloween

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Halloween is my favorite time of year. Yes I know how basic that sounds and how boring that probably makes me seem. But I’ve been riding the #cornyforhalloween train ever since I can remember, long before Starbucks became a huge nationwide chain and brought pumpkin spice lattes into pop culture.

I blame it on the fact that my primary childhood memories were from when we lived in Ohio. Between the ages of 7-11 I grew up in a small town called Enon (or None spelled backwards ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and it felt very much like Stranger Things. There were actually four seasons, as kids we rode our bikes everywhere, I knew everyone in my elementary school, the town had forests on all sides, and there was a large cornfield behind our neighborhood. Even our house was built in the 70’s and had retro decor vibes. But my favorite thing about living there was the fall. The leaves changed and we experienced beautiful foliage, our neighborhood had THEE BEST seasonal decorations, trick or treating felt like a flashback in time, and on top of all of that, Enon hosted their annual Apple-Butter Festival and I always dressed up. You could churn your own butter and also tour the historic old pioneer homes. I mean, a history nerd living in a historic small town with a big deal (but small time) fall festival with costumes?! AHHHhhh! My inner theatre geek loved every minute of it. THAT is when I know my love for fall and Halloween fully blossomed.

IMG_7587.jpgAren’t I cute? Here I am snuggling my cat Cotton after a long day of churning butter at the good ole’ apple butter festival! <cry laughing> (god I’m such a nerd)

This year, I decided to REALLY do it up in terms of Halloween celebrations. I’ve lived in the Bay for 10 years and surprisingly had never been to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin festival. It is the biggest thing that Half Moon Bay does all year round, pumpkin farmers from all up and down the West Coast submit their largest gourds for the chance to win the largest pumpkin award. And on top of that, there are HUNDREDS upon hundreds of art booths, food vendors, pumpkin EVERYTHING (from smoothies to pie to pumpkin chili and pumpkin mac and cheese), music and alcohol. John and I LOVED every second of it! It was worth the longer than normal drive due to high traffic for the isolated event.

22448596_10110552425541500_7178073160364207156_nJust look at those carvings!

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If you live close to the Bay and love the fall as much as I do, you MUST attend the pumpkin festival next year. I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to head there myself!

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Moving on, last Friday night we grabbed some close friends and went to the Mayhem Mansion in beautiful Pac Heights neighborhood, before checking out the new Bladerunner (OMG ahhh so much so say there but not for this post)! Mayhem Mansion is the Halloween event thrown at the historic Haas-Lilienthal house, the city’s only intact Queen-Anne Victorian home that operates as a museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than some cute Victorian-Halloween decorated rooms, and boy were we pleasantly surprised! I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some pretty legit actors and we were pretty spooked/startled.

IMG_7498Our friend we met in the SPOOKeasy bar, under Mayhem Mansion.

Halloween season isn’t complete until you carve a pumpkin. I mean, even if I’m the busiest person in the world and I decide to do my version of a lazy costume, I will ALWAYS have time to carve pumpkins and roast the seeds. I just can’t live in a world where this doesn’t happen. I will be 100 years old designing my pumpkin in my head, and telling my caretaker orders for how I want it to look (MUAHAHAHA).

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We have a lot more Halloween things coming this weekend, but for now, I’m just gonna keep enjoying what precious seasonal moments that I have left. I LOVE HALLOWEEN AND I AM NOT ASHAMED! Stay tuned for more Halloween updates and costume reveals (and view previous costumes here).

xo

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A Charleston Good Time

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What up people?! A couple weeks ago I met all three of my sisters and my mom in Charleston to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. Charleston has always been on my list of places in the US to explore, so I was pretty pleased we decided on this southern destination spot. The ladies all traveled together from Texas while I met them across country on a red eye flight. It had been over a decade since the FOUR of us Coalson girls took a trip together, and we had never done so with our Mom. WHAT WAS GONNA HAPPEN?!

The first thing we did once I got there on Thursday was embark on a beautiful historic carriage ride through downtown Charleston, the Holy City. I had never seen so many places of worship! The old buildings were delightful but it was hot AF! I’m a delicate SF coastal flower now and am not accustomed to extreme heat or humidity anymore. Our horse was very lovely though and it was a cute time together.

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Check me out, chillin on our lunch porch at Cru Cafe. God I love Southern porches…

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We then decided to take a happy hour booze cruise for sunset views of the harbor. I loved this bridge, I even bought a small painting of it later on. BTW – some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen were on this cruise…

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This is my sis Bryana, also known as the author behind the blog OurSommLife. She is married to a Sommelier and writes about their travel adventures, wine, being a mom, and most recently keeping track of my parents house through the damage from Hurricane Harvey (I’ll write more on that later).ย  Isn’t she cute?!

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This is a blurry pic of all of us on the boat, and it makes me laugh so hard. Bryana is on the left, then Krista, my mom, me, and my oldest sister Karen. Don’t we look fun?!

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I’m glad we did the cruise because I never would have seen Fort Sumter or gotten this glorious shot! It is the birthplace of the Civil War, and anyone who knows me knows that I was a Civil War buff at the ripe age of 13. (My Grandmother gave me Civil War trading cards and my dad used to take me to meet ups at Barnes & Noble…granted I was the only child or young person under the age of 40, but it was a fun thing I shared with my dad. We saw a lot of Civil War era movies together. Let’s just say history was always my favorite subject growing up, and I used to fantasize about being a history teacher at one point in my life). #funfacts

22141029_10110483626270790_9001886964477828570_n.jpgThe Charleston harbor has some spectacular sunsets! This is one of my favorite pics.

On Friday morning we proceeded to check out Boone Hall Plantation just on the outskirts of the city. We all grew up watching the 80’s adaption of North and South (staring THEE super hot Patrick Swayze!!!) and this was his home in the show. Of course we just HAD to check it out! (I might have also played the opening credits theme song on our way in…) ALSO – The Notebook was filmed here.

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Afterwards we made our way over to Isle of the Palms beach to take a gander at the Atlantic ocean. We originally wanted to make a day out of Myrtle Beach because the movie SHAG was a staple in our home growing up. (A coming of age 80’s movie, that takes place in the 60’s, with a shag dancing contest at the end?! SIGN ME UP.) However, Hurricane Jose just missed the coastline prior to our visit and there were horrible mosquitoes everywhere, so we decided to axe the beach day. We opted for a short peek-a-boo visit instead.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Friday night we pursued our own ghost adventures at the haunted jailhouse downtown! We opted to download a few different “ghost hunting apps” to help us determine if our own Airbnb was haunted and also tried it out in the jail. Honest review, I think the apps are fun-n-games and didn’t really pay too much attention to the words they displayed (most of it was for entertainment but a handful of the words did freak me and Bry out…). But the apps “light up” around spiritual activity and the whole time we were in the jail my app was glowing up constantly (as opposed to other places). I also got a weird spooky picture which super creeped me out…

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I love the old southern architecture! While I don’t forsee me living in the south again, I do love a good old southern home. They are just so beautiful to me.

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The infamous Rainbow Row!!

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Here I am outside of the Old Slave Mart. The exhibit was really well written and in my opinion was the best source of HONEST information on around the slave trade in the area. Slavery is not pretty but it happened and we should all acknowledge it FULLY (and not brush it under the rug) so that we can get an accurate grasp of how it has affected our country and citizens even today.

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Alas, our last night out we all surprised my mom for a fancy dinner for her 70th at the lovely Charleston Grill! We even packed her one of her favorite nice outfits as we surprised her. It was fun to dress up together and enjoy a night out on the town. Plus, look at the photo we took in front of this amazing staircase!!

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As our time ended together, we sported the Charleston rainbow row t-shirts mom got us to the airport, ate a quick breakfast, and huddled in for one last group pic before I went my separate way back to foggy San Francisco. Awww we are so cute.

Honest thoughts here:

  • Charleston has been hyped up a lot in recent years as a top travel destination in the US. I, being the big history buff that I am, have always wanted to visit and was very excited to explore more of the Lowcountry.
  • While it was very historic and the food was delicious, there wasn’t really a “vibe” or a social scene that I thought it would have. I assumed there would be a famous street with a lot tourist foot traffic, shopping boutiques, and interesting bars (similar to 6th street in Austin or any street in the French Quarter) but was a little disappointed that this wasn’t the case. It could have also been the time of year that we chose to visit, as it was nearly October, and perhaps summer time it is more bumpin’? It was basically dead when we were there and the night we went out after ghost hunting felt like 28 days later.
  • I barely saw ANY POC, which I found strange…
  • All in all, it was a beautiful place and I’m happy we visited! But I don’t think I would go out of my way to head back unless it was for a reason. Long story short, it wasn’t my favorite city. But it was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.
  • I’m glad my mother had a great birthday

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Now I will point you to Bryana’s blog post so you can see what she thought of our experience!

XO

Em