Where I Went: North Cascades National Park

So uh, Washington is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been? What the heck? What do they think they’re doing to me?

This trip happened like most do: I have three days to kill I look up flights and just picked one out that fit my budget and seemed ~ cool ~. I’m starting to get into the territory of repeating places, which I used to say I’d never do (lol) but I know what I like and clearly you can’t really experience a place fully in 3 days so back I went to Seattle.

I also did a smol lil trip to Seattle earlier this year but if you recall there was a snowstorm and everything was closed and it was only one day, so a reasonably priced flight seemed like a good chance to a) see Seattle again and b) go somewhere I’ve always wanted, NORTH CASCADES.

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My original plan for this trip was to camp three nights at a campground, do two day hikes, and mozy around the scenic viewpoints the rest of the time. The nice thing about doing your own thing, though, is that if you decide you don’t want to sit in the rain for a third night, you don’t have to! So I went back to the city a little early.

The minute I got back to camp after hiking on the second day, it started to thunderstorm, like BAD, I saw bolts of lighting, it was very loud, it was raining so hard it kind of hurt. I was SURE my fire was going to go out, but I threw every piece of wood I had left on it and it didn’t! So I backed up the jeep to the fire, took cover in the trunk, and ran back and forth in the rain to shift the foil packets of veggies I was desperately trying to cook. Not to brag but I am extremely impressed with myself, like expert camper over here please take me with you if you need assistance.

* I * personally love thunderstorms so I was in my goddamn element, I could not have been more relaxed that night.

triscuits and juice, a normal spread for camping right?

Now here’s the good part: Maple Pass

I definitely said “holy shit” out loud to myself somewhere between five and eight hundred times over the course of the ~4 hours it took me to hike this. It’s just absolutely gorgeous during every single step. Obviously, this is a pretty popular hike so I’ll tell you the thing that everybody tells you, which is go early. I started hiking a little before 8 on a weekend and barely saw anybody for the first half, but by the time I was nearing the end it was getting super crowded. A sunrise hike up here though? Probably unreal.

I think most people actually hike this counter-clockwise, but I went clockwise. There’s no wrong way to do this by any means, but all those pictures above were from within the first like 1/4 of the hike. HOW!? The colors! It looks fake! Help!

^hiked that =)

DO YOU GET THE PICTURE NOW? I’m also required by law to post pictures from all the touristy pull-over overlooks and stuff, so naturally here is another photo of Diablo Lake, a place I’m sure you’ve seen a hundred pictures of already before. But! It’s really! That! Blue!

I’ll link all the places I stayed/hiked at the end. For now, I leave you with two pictures of a random dirt road I drove down in the rain <3

HERE ARE THINGS I DID:

Maple Pass Loop: 7.1 miles, doable for most hikers / kids / dogs. It took me about 4 hours and I stopped A LOT.

Marble Creek Campground: I loved staying here. Right along a very pretty river (book early and you can snag a river spot!) and there’s a little beach anyone in the campsite can hang out on. Honestly - great campground for hanging out at even if you’re not doing any hiking. Not too many spots, and a good amount of privacy. About an hour to Maple Pass, but only about 30 min or so to Marblemount. Also only a few miles from a gas station / diner / restaurant where there are camp supplies and food and CELL SERVICE.

A Film Dump or: Presence At Home

I really like shooting film (go analog baby!!!) though admittedly don’t reallllly know what I’m doing. That, and the fact that I had been struggling with a barely functioning 35 year old camera made it so for a long time I really didn’t do it much.

But! Reader, that is about to change! Big time! ! I finally pulled the trigger on something smaller and automatic (two, actually but the first one didn’t work. Thanks for nothin ebay scammer!). I feel like I can throw it in my bag wherever I go and so, here is my plan: document the one place I always completely ignore — home. So here’s my first roll, a bunch of shitty throw aways from time around Boston (mostly) and still, I love them. Life here is messy and filled with trash and still lovely and fun and that’s what I feel when I look at them.

Where I Went: Moab (Arches, Canyonlands)

I dream about giving up the city a lot. Trading in my entire life here for one that’s wholly about the outdoors. As I’m sure we all have. But I never wanted any of the in between crap. I need to be in the city or extremely not. When it comes down to it I know I’ll never leave and the one thing I wish you’d see more people say on this big old place the ~ internet ~ is that you don’t have to live in a van! You don’t need to be wholly nomadic or give up your job or any of that. You can do a little of both! And that is what I try to live by.

Then I go to Moab and I throw that entire sentiment out the window because there are so many dirt roads out here I want NEED to drive down, and I imagine how easy it would be to mountain bike after work, or climb on the weekend or camp in a new campsite every night and it is just not possible to do any of that in Boston.

When it comes down to it I know I’ll never leave but I sure will try to go back to Utah as many time as I possibly can before I die.

This time around was my first time in Arches and Canyonlands and hoooooooboy it was Good.

Day 1: Arches

The first full day there, we decided to do all the typical Arches drive-bys. There were two main things we wanted to ACTUALLY do (meaning, like, requiring a small amount of hiking), which was hiking the Fiery Furnace and heading to Delicate Arch for sunset.

You need a permit to hike Fiery Furnace, and because a good rule of thumb for national parks is that everything will always be completely booked, the soonest we could get one for was a couple days later. That ended up working out, because another good rule of thumb for national parks is that everything will take twice as long as you think it will so we would have been really rushing to squeeze it in anyway.

That left double arch, devil’s garden trail, north and south window arches, park avenue trail during the day. Peep some pics above and also below.

I said there were really only two things we were concerned about doing in Arches, and one of those was sunset at Delicate Arch. WORTH IT. The way the sun hits that already ridiculous looking piece of rock, and illuminates the mountains in the background, dang everyone you gotta go see for yourself.

I’m sure it’s the most popular arch in the park so I can only imagine what the crowd of people is like during the day. We hiked up there about an hour before it got dark, brought some drinks to chill with (cue reminder to pack it in and pack it out people!!), and it was so….nice. There were still a good amount of people there but something about being up there for sunset seemed to make everyone actually respectful. It went unsaid that if you wanted a picture in front of the arch you take turns, all 20 photographers helped each other out with angles, and everyone sat back and stayed out of frame as the sun was setting.

More of that in parks, please.

Day 2: Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands

The next day we headed to the Island In The Sky section of Canyonlands, and hit up Dead Horse Point State Park on the way. Canyonlands is so so much bigger than Arches, and so few people go. We were here on a beautiful weekend day and it almost seemed deserted compared to Arches, which is how I’m sure we’d all prefer it.

To be completely honest, there were points at which I thought Canyonlands was more impressive than the Grand Canyon. It’s like a canyon within a canyon within a canyon and it’s so big I still can’t completely wrap my head around it and so I will refrain from even trying to describe it to you.

The one thing I will say about Canyonlands is that there are a ton of back country roads. We really didn’t make use of them (rental car, no lift, etc etc) but I would absolutely love to come back here for a true 4x4 camping experience preferably with bikes. But I’ll save it for another trip.

Day 3: Fiery Furnace

I am so happy we decided to return to arches to do this hike. Fav thing we did on this trip. Fiery Furnace is about a 2 mile loop hike through a maze of small slot canyons, boulders, arches, all kinds of rocks. As I mentioned before, you need a permit, and you’re required to sit through a quick video + overview with a ranger. They make it known that it truly is a maze, and you will probably get lost, but exploring off the trial is encouraged.

This hike was so. fun. It’s technically only two miles but we spent four hours in there. There are trail markers, but they are quite hidden and we definitely got truly lost a couple times (not lost that I was trying to ration my clif bar or anything, though). There’s a ton of slots to climb through, stuff that actually took a few tries to climb over, hidden arches — the perfect amount of technicality for someone who is not technical at all when it comes to climbing or hiking. It was the best adult jungle gym I’ve ever been in.

And with that, I will leave you with the tune that first even made me want to go to this amazing red-rocked dusty southwest pocket of the U.S.

Where I Went: Four Days All Over The PNW

One day I will get on a plane to somewhere and when I get off I will stay put until it’s time to go home. This was not that trip. I don’t think I’d even recommend doing this trip like I did if you’re coming from the East Coast but I am notorious for trying to squeeze as much as I possibly can into long weekends so here we are.

Booking a flight to Seattle turned into “let’s go to Olympic too” turned into “we might as well go to Portland” and so that is what we did during the worst snow the PNW has seen for a decade.

We got to Seattle around 11am and immediately headed to Pike Place because we were right there and I felt we had to. I looked at the first Starbucks, it was dumb, and I did not see Future President Of The United States Of America Howie Schultz.

Hey here’s a Sarah travel philosophy:

Do the touristy stuff and look like a tourist too. Who gives a shit! You are one, after all. You’ll be disappointed by some of it, but most of the time places are touristy for a reason. Pike Place was cute, a very enthusiastic employee at the soap place in the market gave me a bunch of free stuff when she found out we were from Boston and I had an exceptionally good hot toddy. And nothing was even crowded because of the snow! I had no complaints.

Big ole s/o to my good pal Andy who moved out to Seattle a few years ago for playing tour guide for us all afternoon. We very much just followed his lead and it WORKED, especially when we escaped the snow to go to Bathtub Gin & Co, a speakeasy where we got an entire room with a fireplace to ourselves.

Day Two! Olympic National Park!

Me:
Everybody in Seattle: There’s too much snow to drive to Forks
Me: I have all wheel drive a lead foot and a wild sense of adventure lfg

I was definitely operating with a little too much of that “I’m from a snowy place” arrogance because there are two snow plows in all of Seattle and it sure seemed like there were zero people to operate them because that city does NOT know how to clean up snow. Regardless, we headed out to the the Olympic Peninsula and by the time we got to the beach the weather could not have cooperated more.

We hit up Ruby Beach which based on internet sleuthing only actually seemed slightly nicer than the other popular destination - Rialto Beach (which, surprise! Rialto was inaccessible due to a road being out anyway!)

Hey here’s another Sarah travel philosophy:

It’s not a road trip unless you have to turn around and/or are scared while driving at least once. There’s a fair amount of road closures in Olypmic right now, I * think * because of storms, trees down and the whole the park isn’t maintained during a government shutdown thing, so turn around we did, a few times.

But if you’re wondering if I had another travel philosophy I am here to tell you I sure as heck do and that is to just pull over and walk around if your original plan doesn’t pan out. Or even if it does. Just always pull over.

We spent the last two days in Portland. If you were wondering my opinion on US cities, or even if you weren’t I’m going to tell you anyway because this is my blog, they’re all bad except for Portland and also Austin but Portland has more nature. We spent most of our time around Mississippi, a nice relief from the busier/bougier Pearl District. I hate pizza twice, drank a thousand drinks and took pictures of exactly nothing.

And, if you remember, you should be doing the toursity stuff, which is why naturally we were obligated to go to Multnomah Falls on the rainest PNW-iest day we were there.

Lastly, here’s everywhere I went worth recommending!

Seattle:

Bathtub Gin & Co. - A speakeasy that actually felt like one
Rachel’s Ginger Beer - This ginger beer was GOOD. You can get it with or without the booze.
Cyclops - A bar that was actually my speed despite being downtown - p chill, p cheap, just slightly divey.
Skillet Diner - A nice diner.

Portland:

Oven & Shaker - Pizza which I didn’t eat, but the meatballs I had were A+ and I take my meatballs seriously.
Pink Rabbit - Cocktail bar. GUYS. If you’re not a fan of The National (America’s Best Band) you’ll have no idea this entire bar is a reference to their discography but if you are a fan of The National you will be geeking out about it. Between the three of us I think we got every drink on their menu. They were all delicious.
Either/Or - Coffee! Head to the SE location and give a s/o to Patrick who I finally got to meet IRL while there. He’ll be the one controlling the cool music.
Pine State Biscuits - I feel like I don’t have to tell you guys about this.
Salt and Straw - I feel like I don’t have to tell you guys about this either but if you’ve never had this ice cream you need to.
Blue Star Donuts - I….feel like I don’t have to tell you guys about this.
Psychic - This is a cool bar where my good friend and travel partner walked up to the bar and was able to order a bowl of fruit loops, a side of toast, an orange juice and a shot of vodka at 11:00 pm.
Mississippi Studios - Music venue, also bar. I wish I could have seen a show here but the bar half was cool to just hand out in regardless.
Stormbreaker Brewing - The thing that got me in to this place is they had outdoor firepits under tents so even though it was pouring rain it still sorta felt like I was camping.

That’s it! Until next time friends, I cannot promise that I’ll have any updates until I venture to somewhere else. But I am now/always taking suggestions.

Where I Went: A Week In Ireland

A week in Ireland is both enough time to see a bunch of places, and not enough time at all. The good news is Ireland is pretty small (compared to the US anyway) but I still struggled a bit with deciding exactly what to include in our stay and what to skip, so I’ll give y’all a quick itinerary in case you’re in the same boat. Ultimately, we decided to pass up Northern Ireland and ended up going to Dublin, Cork and Galway. Belfast and Giant’s Causeway will have to be next time.

Day 1: Dublin

We had a red eye flight and landed at 7:30am so I was s t r u g g l i n g this whole day due to my inability to sleep on airplanes. So we went straight to it — breakfast, Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse, check in to our Airbnb, back out for dinner.

Trinity College / Book of Kells / Long Room
Gotta be honest, I could have skipped the Book of Kells part but it was included in the cost of the ticket. The Long Room, on the other hand, is SO COOL. In terms of libraries it’s probably the prettiest one I’ve seen. A worth it touristy thing.

Guinness Storehouse
Another toursity thing I was first meh about but I ended up enjoying despite the fact that I was so tired by this time the beer was making me hallucinate. A short self-guided tour where you learn about how the beer is made, and at the end they teach you how to pour, and then get a pint for yourself! It is true what the people say, Guinness tastes different in Ireland (in a good way). I drank it all week and now I can resume never drinking it again at home where it’s bad.

Transportation Tip!
We figured out the bus system and I am really proud of us! You can buy a leap card at any Spar convenience store and add however much money you want to it, then use it on the bus or the train! Hooray! Less walking!

Day 2: Dublin and Howth

Howth is a cute lil seaside town just outside Dublin so we spent the daytime exploring there. It’s about 30 or 40 minute train ride from city center. Do the cliff walk, eat fish and chips, drink some beer.

That night we headed back to Dublin for all the bars. All y’all party people beware, bars close kind of early in Ireland? We’re talkin like 12:30 which is fine by me, an old, but it’s no New York. That doesn’t stop people from getting p wasted though. If anything people just start drinking earlier which is more my cup o’ jo anyhow.

I’ll link all the food and bar suggestions at the end of the post, btw.

Day 3: Cork

We picked up our rental car this morning and headed off to Cork, about 2 hours away. We only stayed here for one night and I took zero pictures which is typical of me because it was home to one of my favorite bars we went to and also a very good restaurant. Cork is really small, and one day here was enough to get a little taste of it imo.

Day 4: Killarney National Park & The Burren

We left Cork and basically spent the entire day taking our time driving over to the farmhouse we booked for one night. Killarney was nice, but driving through the Burren is also an activity in itself. This is where the roads get realllll narrow (like, you might need to backup to find a place to pull over if somebody comes the opposite way narrow). Which is exactly my kinda shit because I always say it’s not vacation unless you get kinda scared while driving at least once.

Day 5: Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands and Galway

Y’all, I want to go back to Ireland and do only this day, over and over again for a week straight. Cliffs of Moher are a given, but I am so glad we ended up seeing them by boat rather that from the top. We took a ferry that brings you to the Aran Islands, drops you off to explore for a while, then drives you under the cliffs. Guys, the island we went to, Inis Orr, was COOL AS HECK. There were old graveyards, super old castle tower things, a shipwreck (!!!) and exactly one pub. It was great.

If you want to do this boat tour, you can pretty much just go to the Doolin pier and there’s bunch of companies that do the same thing you can purchase a ticket from there.

Day 7: Galway

Galway is about an hour from the Cliffs of Moher. You could easily do the cliffs as a daytrip from Galway also, we chose to see the cliffs before heading to Galway for the night. The next day (day 7) we spent the whole day in Galway. This was my favorite city we went to, and it felt the most Irish in that it most matched the stereotypical picture of an Irish city in my mind. It’s REALLY small, you can probably walk the whole thing in 15 minutes, but there’s a million pubs/shops/restaurants. Maybe it’s just because we were here on a Saturday, but I also found it absolutely wild. Guys, people were knocking them back and going NUTS but in like, a fun non-threatening, I just want to chant a soccer cheer in the middle of this pub kind of way.

Day 8: Back to Dublin

We spent one last night in Dublin before a really early flight home.

Transportation tip #2
We picked up and dropped off our rental car at the airport, but didn’t have it while we were in Dublin. None of us had driven on the opposite side before, and we ended up having no trouble (just repeat “tight left,” “wide right” every single time you make a turn, you’ll be ok.) I think I would have been nervous had I needed to drive through Dublin, though. There’s just a lot of one ways and traffic and it just seemed like a lot.

Lastly, Where to Eat and Drink

Dublin
Brother Hubbard - Very good breakfast/brunch/coffee/pastries
The Fumbally - This place was so good we went twice. Small breakfast menu but their eggs were so amazing. Honestly this place looked like you plucked it straight out of Williamsburg except it was less busy and I liked it better because it was Dublin and not New York.
The Brazen Head - Apparently Dublin’s oldest bar? They had a nice beer garden, and a good selection of traditional Irish food which I thought was actually very good.
The Long Hall - And Irish pub-y kind of Irish pub
The Bar With No Name - Basically just a big living room with couches and tables. I loved this place. It felt like being at a chill house party where you don’t know anybody so then you just sit on the couch with the four people you came with for a few hours.
Murphy’s Ice Cream - Ice cream is the only dessert that matters and this place has very innovative flavors which is an important ranking factor in my ice cream approval. My suggestion is the brown bread. There is also a Murphy’s in Galway and also maybe a few other places?

Howth
Abbey Tavern - Real good for a midday pint in a dark, stone-walled pub.

Cork
Mutton Lane - One of my favorite bars we went to. You will definitely miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s in a very small alley with christmas lights, which is always a plus for me.
Gallagher’s Gastro Pub - Fancier versions of Irish dishes plus we got a very good and reasonably priced cheese board.

Ballyvaughn
Funny enough, we only ended up in this town because the only pub in the town we were staying in ended up being closed for the season, but the restaurant and pub we went to here were both amazing.
Monks - So good! A lot of seafood but you’re on the ocean so this is the place to get it.
O’Lochlainns Bar - A whiskey bar where I learned I like Green Spot whiskey, which is then what I ended up drinking for the remainder of the trip.

Galway
Tig Coili - A real good pub. It was packed both nights but everyone was fun, there’s traditional irish music, a good time.
O Connell’s Bar - This place was wild. Upon walking in it looks small, but there is a HUGE beer garden out back, a bunch of bars within. And, oh no, I just realized this bar is the one that’s “home to Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl” which …. ruins it and makes sense all at once.
Coffeewerk + Press - The only coffee shop from this trip worth recommending. Extremely cute, good coffee, and lots of little gifts and locally made things for sale.
Ard Bia at Nimmos - If you eat anything in Galway go here. We had brunch which was amazing, but their dinner looks to die for also.

Where I Went: Ithaca, NY

I've spent more weekends than not in New York this summer, but it was my first time in Ithaca. I jumped off a waterfall and drank kava tea and ate four bagels in three days and, most importantly, drank in a river. 

Photos: Newport Folk Festival 2018

This was my eigth Newport Folk Festival, over the span of a decade now. I stood on our blanket on Friday night, watching David Crosby join Jason Isbell on stage for a rendition of "Ohio" that will never be heard anywhere else, and thought about how familiar it all felt. The surprises are all expected by now, whether it be David Crosby, Mumford and Sons covering Radiohead (that was something I never thought I'd see), Mavis Staples showing up everywhere. But it feels like home. I've stood on that blanket, in between the sun setting on the Newport Bridge and the Fort Stage a million times now and I'll stand on it a million more. It's a familiarity that I think all 10,000 other people there feel too. 

So here's some highlights -- evidence of a family that grows a little every year, one that's blissfully happy for at least three days a summer.

Where I Went: Austin City Guide

I have now been to Austin, Texas two separate times, so I would consider myself an expert who is fully equipped to write a comprehensive and absolute guide to the city.

Kiddingggg. This will be neither comprehensive nor absolute, but I do really like tacos and I can tell you about the places I went & liked. The problem is there's just a lot of places in Austin and most of them are pretty good. I had about five million suggestions from a thousand people which was a lot to navigate, but the ones who broke it down into more than a list of names were the ones that helped. And so! That is what I will do here.

Let's begin by talking about food, which mostly, were tacos.  

Eat This:

Torchy's Tacos (pictured left)
What is it?: Tacos. Obviously.
Right but like, what kind?: They have a pretty big menu. I had the Alabama Shake and the Independent, then we went back a second time and I got the Alabama Shake because you better believe I'm getting catfish when I'm in a southern state. Also thought the guac was A+.
Where is it?: There's a bunch but the South Congress location was good because you can walk to shops and other stuff from there.
Why has every person told me to go there? Because it's good and cheap. Think the Shake Shack of tacos. A local chain that's consistent and delicious. 

Licha's Cantina (pictured right)
Sounds Mexican: It is! It's what I imagine authentic Mexican food is like, though as a person who hasn't had food in Mexico in 15 years don't quote me on that.
Where is it?:  East 6th. Good place to go if you want to check out some divier bars before or after. (More on that later).
What should I get?: I don't want to tell you what to get, but I do want to tell you bring your lactaid pills and order up the queso. It's a slab of cheese melted in a cast iron pan with chorizo or mushrooms and it is the most delicious queso I've ever had? Also, get a marg. 
Sounds good but what's the vibe?: I love this place so much. It's a cute house with a couple rooms, definitely gets crowded, has a very cool outdoor seating area. 

Paperboy (pictured above)
Is this just a trailer?: Yes and it has amazing breakfast.
Is this only breakfast?: Yes and it is perfect
Where can I find it: Always in the same spot on East 11th street
How's their benedict?: They don't have any and it's FINE. A relatively small menu and everything is amazing. Get the Texas hash, or the sausage & egg (above) which is really more of a large burger than a breakfast sandwich. 

Mattie's (pictured above. not pictured: peacocks)
What do you mean peacocks?: There are literally peacocks that live at this restaurant. They just chill in the yard. It's weird and amazing.
I don't understand the vibe of this place?: It used to be an old farmhouse. It kind of reminds me of a plantation. It's a huge house with many rooms, some are just bars, some have tables, there's a patio area. Really it's just very cool and worth going just for the looks alone.
But how's the food?: IT'S REALLY GOOD I HAD FRIED CHICKEN BENEDICT. This has now made the list of my top 3 eggs bennies I've ever had. The bloody mary was also perfect. 
Where is it?: South Congress in a sort of residential area. You'll think you're on the wrong street but you'e not.

Juan In A Million (not pictured)
What is this place?: A breakfast place where you can get ten pounds of food for three dollars
What kind of food is it?: Tacos. Migas. Eggs. A whole mess of all those things on one plate. Come hungry, come hangry, come hungover.
Could you explain this vibe to me?: Yes. It's kind of divey, for a restaurant. There's nothing special about the way it looks. There's probably a wait. Put you're name in, it'll go fast.
Where's this place at tho?: E. Cesar Chavez St, East Austin

Okay, Now Drink This:

Austin, Texas is a city entirely built out of tacos, beer gardens and edison bulbs. There are A LOT of bars and I'm convinced exactly zero of them could exist anywhere else. If it were up to me the dirtier and cheaper the bar the better, but some classy joints make my list too for you uptown girls.

Whisler's (pictured above)
What's the deal with this place?: It's decently nice on the inside, has an even larger outdoor area, and has really good drinks. AND it has a mezcal bar on the second floor. A great place to chill with a drink or five outside. 
What's the price point here: Pretty normal. Happy hour 4-7 on weekdays and 2-5 weekends!
Cool, where's this place at?: East 6th!
What should I get?: That frozen thing above was my second favorite thing I drank, and lets be honest, three of them kindaaa fuqed me up (in a good way). I'd leave the beer here and get a cocktail!
I'm here for happy hour and kind of hungry: One of the many bars with food trucks! I didn't get any food, but I've heard from multiple sources the truck that's parked there is a notable one in the city. 

Hotel San Jose (left)
A hotel? Not my scene: Yes it is, trust me. It's an extremely instagrammable patio by their pool that feels like some kind of California desert oasis (in Texas).
When should I go?: Happy hour. A really nice mid-afternoon stopover.
What do I order?: The rose was pretty good but definitely get their activated charcoal popsicle shandy. Yes you read that right, that's this thing to the left. Refreshing as fuck.
Where is this?: South Congress 

Cheer Up Charlie's (pictured right)
Isn't this a venue?: Yes, and we caught a pretty cool band while there too. But it's a good place to go and just drink if you're not in it for the music.
So what's the vibe: There's a lot of lights but like not in a tacky way, in a cool way. There's a pretty big beer garden, food truck too! It's vegan. It's queer friendly. There's kombucha on tap. It's all v Austin.
Happy hour?: Yeah of course, they ain't crazy. I would go at night though.
What should I get?: They make specialty cocktails with fresh made juice so you should most definitely get one of those if only for the fact that you can't get it anywhere else.
Sign me up and cheer me up! Where is it?: Red River Street. Close to 6th.  

Stay Gold (pictured left)
What's the deal?: I think this was my favorite bar I went to. East side slightly divey place, but in a clean way. Real cool outdoor area, inside there's live music with an old-school lounge kind of feel.
What should I order?: They have cocktails but I stuck to the classics this night -- PBR and Lone Star. It just felt like a beer kind of place. 
Please tell me there's food here too: There is! Food truck out back baby. Heard through the grapevine the wait was very long but it was worth it once they got the goods.
Where?: E Cesar Chavez St

White Horse (pictured right)
Let me guess, it's a dive bar: YES and it's a little grimey, they have free popcorn and their happy hour well drinks were $2.50, so I was sold.
So the draw is that it's dirty?: That's not all! There's live music inside, there's whiskey on tap (!), and on Friday nights they have free two-step lessons!! Personally I think this place is paradise. 
I'm gonna two-step my way on over. Where am I going?: Cornal St, East Austin

Easy Tiger (not pictured)
Let me guess: Nope! This one is not a dive bar. It's a really cool german-style beer garden that sits right next to a creek that runs through the city. 
Nice just beer here?: Standard bar as far as I can tell but a good amount of stuff on tap. 
Tell me about the food truck: There isn't one at this place, but you should order a homemade pretzel and beer cheese. The perfect snack.
Love drunk snacks. Where is it?: Right at the beginning of 6th street. 

You can't drink all day. So do this!

McKinney Falls State Park (above)
But everyone tells me to go to Barton Springs?: Sure, but McKinney Falls felt more like true nature to me.
What do I do there though?: Swim! It's good for jumping off the falls, or just wading in the river if cliff jumping isn't your thing. You can also hike, or just run around in a field of all these cute purple flowers.
Nature? How far is that from the city?: Only like fifteen minutes! Super close.  

Cathedral of Junk (pictured above)
Tha wha?: It's a three story structurally sound sculpture of junk in a guy named Vince's backyard.
I don't get it.: Don't think about it too hard. Vince is an artist who has been working on this installation since 1989 and kindly lets visitors come check it out. It is IMPRESSIVE. There are stairs leading up to three stories, you can climb all over it and under it. It's every color of the rainbow. It's truly something.
Okay art is chill, anything else I should know?: It's in suburbia, you'll have to drive about 15 minutes. You'll also want to call the day ahead for an appointment, but it's really more of a just check to make sure Vince will be there kind of thing. It's free but they do ask for  $5 donation. Extremely worth it imo. Oh and there are dogs there that you can pet.

Hope Outdoor Gallery (pictured above)
Woah this looks cool: It is! So cool. I read somewhere a while ago that it started as the foundations of a condo complex that was never finished. So the nonprofit HOPE bought it and opened it as a public art space. 
Am I allowed to be here?: Sure are. It's open during the day, and as far as I know, you're allowed to bring spray paint and paint whatever you want yourself. (If that isn't actually allowed...everyone does it anyway). What's cool about that is it's always changing. So you'll see everything from someone's instagram handle to a really impressive eight foot mural.
Rad! Anything else I should know?: Do a little googling before you go here because as I am writing this I think there are plans to relocate this whole place to a bigger piece of land. And I heard something about the original being demolished. 

That's it! Those are my highlights. Go forth and drink a Lone Star.

P.S. Honorable Mention, Coffee:

I will leave you with a quick list of coffee shops I didn't bother taking pictures of because I was too busy caffeinating.

Flat Track Coffee
What: Coffee shop/roastery/bike repair shop/serves breakfast tacos and waffle stickss
Where: East Austin

Figure 8
What: Really cute place with good coffee. Gets kind of crowded, because it seems like the kind of place people come to stick around
Where: East Austin

Fleet
What: Extremely trendy, that's all.
Where: East Side

Jo's Coffee
What: This is the one with the "i love you so much wall." You've seen it. They have breakfast tacos.
Where: There's a few locations but the one you probably want is South Congress. That's the cool wall, plus all the tables are outside on a cute patio thing.

Where I Went: Utah

If you're from New England like me and haven't been out west, or southwest, I don't know how to convey to you how big it is, how much earth exists outside our cities. New York seems small and Boston seems even smaller, comparatively. But I'll try: It took four hours to drive from the airport to our little cabin in Utah and we did not need to consult a map on the way back because we only had to make three turns. The population of our temporary home was 100 and something. On our last night, we exhausted every restaurant option within a reasonable proximity to Bryce Canyon, all were closed (s/o to good ole' Subway for being the exception). There is never even one object obstructing your view of the sky. There's so. Much. Sky.

How do I convey how big it is? Valley of Fire State Park is only an hour and fifteen minutes from Las Vegas and you can still easily get shots of the road without vehicles in them. There's trails, sure, but an eighth of a mile in we abandoned them to scramble up boulders on the side. I don't have any idea how far we could have gone. Until death.

It's big. Route 12 through Grand Staircase Escalante is 124 miles. We drove all of it, but those 124 miles were just 10% of what we put on the rental car in those four days. The BLM road we drove down was 4.5 miles long, but another one went all the way to Arizona. The Dixie National Forest is 2 million acres. I grew up in a house that sat on just two. At it's highest point it's over 11,000 feet. I couldn't breathe.

It's high. It's high and I am not used to elevation. Boston's elevation is 141 feet. We descended 1500 on our hike in Bryce Canyon, my heart felt it on the ascent. 

I took a thousand photos in Bryce. I tried, over and over again, to capture how big it was. I knew it was impossible. And it is. After we hiked in Bryce, we drove to every scenic vista there was. At Bryce Point I stopped trying. I snapped a few, but it is impossible to convey how big it is. So I'll stop there. It's nice, when you think about it, to have a view to your mind only. Sometimes places are worthy of seeing but it's only a disservice to attempt to convey why. I guess that's Utah.

The Places I Went:
Valley Of Fire State Park
-Mouse's Tank Road
-Mouse's Tank Trail

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
-Scenic Route 12
-Willis Creek Narrows
-Lower Calf Creek Falls

Dixie National Forest
-Red Canyon - Birdseye Trail

Bryce Canyon National Park
-Figure 8 Loop: Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trail
-Bryce Point
-Under The Rim Trail
-Rainbow Point
-Natural Bridge

Photos: Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy

To me, the music of Phoebe Bridgers sounds like every person you've ever loved. It's every time you know it shouldn't have worked out, but nothing has, and so what now? Her lyrics are simple, they can be taken at face value yet somehow hold an impossible weight. On "Scott Street" she recounts a meeting with someone from the past, singing, "Anyway, don't be stranger" and it pins you under heaviness of every person you've ever reconnected with as if would change anything.

She performed songs from her album, "Stranger In The Alps," at Great Scott in Allston on Saturday -- a venue she easily could have sold out three times over. The packed room wasn't left without surprises, though; Conor Oberst, who collaborated with Bridgers on "Stranger" was there, in the flesh, to perform their song "Would You Rather." To close out the show, Bridgers and bandmates were joined by Oberst and the members of Soccer Mommy (who opened the show) for a light-hearted rendition of Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy."