Electric Forest 2015

I wish there was a way to put into words the life-changing experience that is Electric Forest.

The person who walked into the forest isn’t the same person who walks out. And not only because they haven’t had a proper shower in 5 days.

Electric Forest is a 4-day music festival in Rothbury, Michigan. It takes place in Sherwood forest, an expanse of tall trees and fields that host various artists, vendors and musicians on stages to perform over the 4-day period.

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The experience showed me the value of traveling in big groups, making new (and incredibly amazing) friends and the importance of positivity and good vibes in every day life.  I wish that everyone could have a music festival experience, as I think it really helps foster a connection with people, even strangers that one only sees for a few seconds.

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After being to two very different music festivals in a short period of time, I’ve definitely had my fill of car camping for awhile, but I really loved both experiences.  I was blown away by the music, the friendship and the overall experience at Electric Forest. It was also a much more enjoyable music festival experience because of the climate of Michigan vs. Tennessee. It was much cooler weather and the ability to sleep past 7a.m. without being roasted alive in a tent provided much needed relief when we would be boppin’ around until 4 in the morning.

My favorite show at the festival would probably have to be Odesza. Their lights and set were something I had been looking forward to,and they did not fail to disappoint. A new artist that I hadn’t heard of before that I really enjoyed were Charles Bradley, who donned a sexy velvet suit and belted out songs in a manner that really blew me away. Kaskade was incredibly fun to dance to and Lindsey Stirling didn’t fail to impress on her violin, although the tent she was in eliminated a lot of mobility in being able to see the stage.

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Our totem

Stay tuned for a Music Festival Survival Tips post, coming soon!

Watch my Electric Forest video experience:

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival in Manchester, Tennessee, that has been ongoing every year since 2002. It is a huge event that brings people from not only all over the United States, but all over the world together for four days of positive vibes, amazing music, great food and art exhibitions as well as a plethora of other vendors of interest for anyone under the sun. Considering I had never been to any sort of multi-day festival before Bonnaroo, it’s safe to say it was quite the adventurous undertaking for a first experience, and surviving it helped me to cross off #40 on my bucket list.

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My two friends and I started our journey on the 12-hour drive to Nashville the Wednesday before the festival started. We stayed in a hotel for the night in Nashville before the festival started at Aloft West End which I would highly recommend as an affordable and centrally located hotel in the middle of the city for anyone visiting Nashville. They also have a 12pm check out time, which is just awesome when you want to sleep in after a night of partying. We also saw Tove Lo in the lobby with her gang of tall Swedish band members, so that was pretty legit.

We went to Edley’s Barbecue for dinner, which was also amazing and inexpensive, right in the middle of midtown Nashville. Even though we were in the city for less than 24 hours, I fell in love with Nashville rather quickly, mostly because if I lived there, I could drown my body in pulled pork every day of the week. There is so much going on, especially with regards to live music, every single night in Nashville.

After the short tour of Nashville, (which included a glimpse at the complex that Taylor Swift calls home, don’t worry I didn’t take a crap on her lawn) we were off to Manchester to start off the Bonnaroo experience on the Farm. I was most excited for Moon Taxi, Mumford and Sons, Tove Lo, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Trampled by Turtles. The amount of shows was overwhelming, but we managed to see a majority of all of the artists that we wanted to.

Because we opted for a later check-in time, we were put in a “campsite” that was much farther away from “Centeroo” than others, but we also only had to wait about 20 minutes to be processed for entry while others reported to wait for more than 5 hours. A little extra walking everyday was worth it in my opinion, as it helped me feel better about the daily slice of pizza that I stuffed in my face and the case of beer that was downed on the daily. Being on the outer edge of camp also made it easier to get out when the festival was over.

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The festival was HUGE. More people than I could ever imagine were roaming about, drinking, eating and overall just having a great time There are multiple tents and stages set up all around Centeroo, with hundreds of food truck options to choose from as well as crafters and artists selling their pieces. My personal favorite items was the Greek food from the international foods tent, spicy pie pizza and the Nomadic State of Mind rope sandals. The list goes on and on but there’s really no explaining the quantity of options available to the Bonnaroo goer.

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It was very hot the entire long weekend that we were there, making drinking water to stay hydrated absolutely essential. I brought SPF 70 sunscreen and a huge floppy hat and still got extremely tan after four long days of exposure.  We made a makeshift awning to get extra shade back at the car to prevent getting burned while hanging around waiting for shows to start. Thankfully Bonnaroo has various shade tents set up around the main event area and some of the stages are shaded, but I would still recommend bringing serious sun protection.

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There is a mushroom fountain in the middle of Centeroo that many people run around in during the day to rinse off some of the dirt and grime from the day and to just in general cool down after baking under the sun. We went in it every day and it was a lifesaver during the hotter parts of the day. We also would fill up our 1 gallon water jugs and use them to take minimalist showers to get somewhat normal every day, which worked better than I expected. One group of guys had a watering can that they used for a shower, a brilliant idea.

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The music was really incredible, and a few artists that I hadn’t heard of before the festival that I really fell in love with after seeing their live sets include (links are to their soundcloud pages) Temples, Sylvan Esso, Brandi Carlile (Ok I had heard OF her, but never listened to her music before) Caribou, Jamie XX and Alabama Shakes. Alabama Shakes was probably one of my favorite performances, along with Trampled by Turtles (MINNESOTA PRIDE!!!).
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I would definitely recommend the Bonnaroo experience to music enthusiasts, but it is definitely not for everyone, especially those who cannot function off of little sleep and who are prone to heat exhaustion. It was so much fun for me and my friends, definitely the experience of a lifetime.

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The highlights video I made for Bonnaroo 2015: Please subscribe to my channel! Enjoy

Bucket List #29 – Northern California: The Lake Shasta Experience.

Memorial Day weekend, 2015, found me on a dirt (clay?) mountain in the middle of Lake Shasta in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. Tradition since the 1960’s, Memorial Day on Lake Shasta consists of legendary house-boat parties at which groups of students from California colleges rent houseboats and spend the weekend damaging their livers and burning their skin. It’s a fun time, filled with lots of drinking, loud music and DJ-hosted parties, swimming, cruising on a beautiful lake enjoying the scenery of the forest.

Instead of a houseboat, however, I found myself in a makeshift canoe-kayak contraption, paddling 3 miles to a campsite. And there was a slow leak in the bottom of the canoe. And it had to carry 6 of us.

Trips like these remind me of how lucky I am to live in a world where leaders have taken the steps to make sure that vast spans of land are preserved. It is important to be reminded of their beauty and to continue to preserve them, providing the funding and care needed to be kept authentic and well-maintained.

It makes me want to visit more park reserves, forests and national parks this summer, so I included a list in this post of some on the top of my list, not only to inspire myself but all of my readers (see bottom of post).

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In addition to the weekend in Shasta Lake, I also spent some quality time exploring Humboldt county with my friend Molly. She goes to school there and was an awesome tour guide. We saw the majority of Arcata and Eureka, went tide-pooling down by the ocean and drove through a significant portion of the Redwoods and northern California.

Things We Did

1. Arcata Theater Lounge. Super hippie crowd, crazy absurd Japanese film. Beyond any level of hipster I’ve ever encountered, but they have great beers on tap, and who doesn’t want a beer when sitting through a shitty movie.

2. Visited the Humboldt State Marine Lab. Geeked out over Marine Biology stuff as usual.

3. Visited Trinidad State Beach

4. Ate at Cafe Brio and drank at Redwood Curtain Brewery

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Check out my weekly video summarizing the highlights of Northern California:

National Parks List – Maybe could become it’s own bucket list?

1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona – I NEED TO GO THERE.

2. Arches National Park – Utah. It looks cool.

3. Zion National Park – Utah. Angels Landing is here and that’s a big one on my list.

4. Voyageurs National Park – Minnesota. Basically only because this one is in Minnesota.

5. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon.

6. Hawaii Volcanoes – Big Island, Hawaii

7. Biscayne, Florida. Looks like amazing scuba diving

8. Everglades, Florida. Because I want to be bitten by an alligator.

9. Death Valley, California

10. Denali, Alaska.

A Trip to the Oldest City – Saint Augustine, Florida

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Saint Augustine, Florida.  The oldest city in the United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez after defeating the native Seminoles and stealing their land, the city once served as a seaport as well as the foothold on colonization of the land mass that we now call the United States. Today it is a quaint tourist town boasting a wide variety of shops, historical attractions and scenic walks that seem like something from a movie set.

While it is a much less popular Florida destination than Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Daytona Beach, Saint Augustine hosts history, culture, shopping and a beautiful beach, all perfect for the Florida traveler who wants a change of scenery and access to corny war re-enactments. Located less than an hour south of Jacksonville, getting there from the Jacksonville airport is easiest by rental car, and for lodging there is a plethora of small hotels and charming bed and breakfasts scattered within the small city.

The old town is shaped by the intracoastal waterway, with beautiful boats filling up the marina. The Castillo de San Marcos, a historic Spanish fort sits on the waterfront and is available to tour, providing a glimpse into the history of the founding of the city as well as ceremonies of shooting off cannons and re-enactments.

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A nice thing about the town is that it really can be experienced in one day, as long as you’re okay with walking a lot. The old city is very pedestrian friendly and is a beautiful place to walk in. Saint Augustine is a great place to stop in for a day if other spots in Florida are taking precedent on a vacation.

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Restaurant Recommendations:

For an awesome happy hour, check out A1A Aleworks. They feature brews from their own brewery as well as many other local and imported beers. They have amazing appetizers on their happy hour menu, the blue crab and artichoke dip being a favorite amongst me and my friends who went two day in a row.

Catch 27 is an amazing local place that is small and serves up a great menu of different seafood items. I would definitely eat there again, and it is very reasonably priced

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The Oldest Schoolhouse in the US

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Other recommendations:
Kilwins: Get chocolate here. They have an amazing selection of fudge, truffles, caramel apples and other sweets

Stogies: A cool local bar that offers a free house cigar with any house pour. Yes, I did try to smoke a cigar and I quit after about three puffs. YEEUCKKK.

Bath Junkie: A haven for people who love customized beauty products and rad smells. Pick your product, scent and color and have it all whipped together in an awesome combination. Kind of expensive but their shea butter lotion makes your skin smooth as a baby’s ass.

Also check out TripAdvisor for more recommendations. I have never stayed in a hotel in St. Augustine, but there are a ton of cute ones to choose from.

Things I would skip:

Alligator Farm – unless you’re really into gators, this place is just a zoo for reptiles that stinks and is expensive.

Potter’s Wax Museum – Not worth the money. It’s cool for about five minutes and then it’s over and who really needs to see a wax figurine of the whole cast of Seinfeld?

Why Not? – Las Vegas 2015

School had just restarted for the semester, and any logical person would take the first weekend of classes as a time to relax and mentally prepare to study for another long three-and-a-half months.

For myself, a different story was about to unfold.

Viva Las Vegas – the theme for the weekend being, “Why Not?” Sometimes in life, you get lucky and are invited to third-wheel a weekend in Vegas with your friend and her boyfriend of seven years, and so we were off, flying out of cold Minneapolis on Thursday night to touchdown in the city of sin for a whirlwind weekend.

IMG_4185We stayed at Tropicana, an older hotel right on the strip. One thing that did not cease to amazing me was how gigantic every single hotel was, and how expansive the casino area of each hotel was; they seemed to stretch on for miles.

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It was a short trip and for two broke college girls, the experience was far from an extravagant, spendy Vegas vacation; but rather a nitty gritty, cheap run-through of what the city had to offer.

Vegas: The Good.

First of all, 3 words

In-N-Out. I had not had these delicious burgers for a long period of three years since the last time I had been in California. They are so amazing and I really wish that the chain existed in the Midwest. Animal style for life!

IMG_4309Walking the strip from our hotel on the MGM Grand end of the madness all the way down to the fountains at the Bellagio was a very enjoyable way to pass the afternoon. Vegas in January is warm in the sunshine but cool in the shade; packing a light sweater was mandatory to survive these moment-to-moment temperature fluctuations.

IMG_4203IMG_4224IMG_4214One of my favorite things that we did was just to walk in all of the different casinos; New York New York had a lot of great restaurants and shopping and that was only one of the many that we had time to pass through. The Cosmopolitan definitely took the cake for the most beautiful decor on the inside; the whole interior seemed to glimmer with crystals from the ceiling and walls.

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Hakkasan Night Club

Located in MGM Grand, Hakkasan Night Club is a massive multi-story nightclub that hosts giant parties and EDM DJs almost every night of the week. I was lucky to be there the same night as a show hosted by DJ Rev Run of RUN DMC and another night of EDM madness with Steve Aoki. We got on a list of a promoter to get in for free, and despite this method of gaining entry to a club seeming like it must have a “catch” or be a scam, it is a perfectly legitimate way to get into a club. THE BAD: Be aware of anyone trying to sell entry or drink wristbands on the street for a club, as these are almost always a scam, even if the “rep” has legit wristbands with all of the clubs logos. Vegas is a con artists playground, don’t give out your money to anyone on the street promising a good night; only paying the bartenders can guarantee that.

IMG_4208Overall, our short weekend in Vegas was a fun-filled introduction to Sin City. There truly is no limit to things that one can blow their money on, and in two and a half days we barely scratched the surface at what Vegas has to offer. One thing that I would not recommend to anyone would be to waste time at the slot machines; walking past rows of people sitting ajar on the stool next to the neon machine was one of the saddest sights I have ever seen. I would rather light a $20 bill on fire than play it in the penny slots for an afternoon, if only for a badass instagram picture.

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Summer in NYC: A Weekend in Brooklyn

IMG_1233Despite it being probably the biggest of cliches, I LOVE New York City. Prior to last summer, I had only ever visited during the cooler months, once in March for spring break and twice over thanksgiving (read about that trip here). I am one of the lucky ones and I have a good friend, Betsy, who lives in New York full time as an artist for Penguin books. A weekend getaway in July in Brooklyn? Hell yes!

One of the best things to do while in New York is just walking around, and being there in the summer makes it way easier to do that. Not having to worry about being cold or snow is a plus, and Central Park in the sunshine makes for a beautiful afternoon.


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My weekend getaway didn’t include much heavy sight-seeing, but we did manage to accomplish a few of my classic favorites over the course of two days. Bergen Bagels is always a must stop for a delicious, hot and fresh bagel with cream cheese and a coffee. We stopped here everyday to fuel up for a long day of walking throughout the city.

Water Taxi

Another fun free thing to do is walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. I love the structural design of the bridge and it isn’t a particularly grueling walk. This past summer, instead of walking we decided to take a water taxi, considering that isn’t the all-seasons option and I wanted to take advantage of all the things I could only do in the summer. We walked to DUMBO- (an acronym for “Down-Under-the-Manhattan-Bridge-Overpass neighborhood) and took a water taxi to take it into the heart of the city instead of being in the underground or walking. It was a really pleasant ride across the river, and near the port is the Brooklyn promenade and park, a beautiful place to sit and relax.

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IMG_1257Brooklyn Farmacy

A lesser known gem in Brooklyn, the farmacy is an old-school soda fountain, serving egg creams, milkshakes, ice cream sodas and other comfort foods. Awesome, retro place to stop in for food, it’s like traveling back in time!

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IMG_1291Although I still have yet to visit the new Freedom Tower, it was astonishing to see it being built right before my eyes. We walked by the tower and the 9/11 memorial, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Overall, I didn’t do too many other touristy things during my summer visit, as I had already done them in the past and summer means an excess of tourists swamping every attraction in the city. Here are some more pictures from spending time in Brooklyn with a bunch of artsy kids!

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