Tag Archives: travel

Road Trip Music!

15 Aug

As I have just finished most of my very long summer road trip (still have to drive back to Austin from New Orleans, but that’s nothing compared to the rest of it!), I figured I’d share some of my favorite driving jams. There’s really nothing like screaming out the words to a great song after you’ve been driving through West Texas hour…after hour…after hour.

Still on an Edward Sharpe high after the concert. Although pretty much any of their songs are perfect road trip songs, this one is my current favorite:

Because every road trip needs a bit of Dolly:

Graceland…the ultimate road trip album. It’s hard to pick just one track, but I think the title track is perfect:

A song from Kacey Musgraves, my obsession of the year. And it’s about RVing! What is more road trippy than that?!

And because I promise I don’t only listen to country, a bit of old school hip hop:
LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT

Now all the ladies in the place
If you got real hair, real fingernails
If you got a job, you going to school
And y’all need nobody to help you handle your business
Make some noise!!!!!!

And because my destination was Louisiana, how about some bouncy, ridiculous Dirty South music from True Blood? Yesssssss.

What are your favorite road trip songs? Anything that melds the world of hip hop and country together? That would be THE BEST!

Road Tripping…Again!

12 Aug

Texas Bingo
Time to head back to Texas! WHAT HOW DID THE SUMMER GO SO QUICKLY?!

I have no idea.

I’m actually driving all the way to New Orleans for an archivists conference. I mean, it totally makes senese to have an archivists conference in a massive party city. Archivists are crazy party animals! We just party differently than the rest of you…quietly and without meeting each other’s eyes (JK, archivists, JK).

So, it’s time once again to load up my phone with podcasts, stuff the back of the car with all my belongings and buy healthy snacks that I will undoubtedly ignore and eat gas station food instead.

To answer all the questions I’ve been asked about this over the past couple weeks:

Yes, I’m doing this alone. Really. No, I’m not worried. No, I won’t be lonely. It’s really not a big deal. Really.

Anyway, goodbye to cool, perfect weather, ridiculously golden evening light and beautiful mountains. Hello to non-stop heat and horribly dull, flat landscapes, but also hello to Texan accents, breakfast tacos and very pretty lakes. And, of course, hello to my insane school/work/not having much of a life schedule.

You guys ready for grad school year 2?! LET’S DO THIS!

Trixie Tuesday: I need a vacation

30 Jul

I have been feeling like I could use a bit of jet-setting recently. I love being in California, and I’ll be taking a crazy long road trip in a couple weeks, but still, I feel like I need to get away.

Cats & Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo

Cats & Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo by tokyofashion, on Flickr

Maybe a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms and the cherry blossoms cats is necessary…

28 New Things: Visit the LBJ Library! (And I went to the George H.W. Bush Library for extra credit!)

10 Jun
Photo from Wikipedia.

LBJ Library photo from Wikipedia.

 

I find presidential libraries to be fascinating. Since 1978, at the end of a presidency, the outgoing leader is required to give all of his papers relating to the presidency to the National Archives, so they’re available to scholars and politicians. Many presidents decide to establish a library (which is really more of a museum/archive) to hold these records and to also show off their presidency in the best light. Wikipedia gets into a lot more detail about these institutions, if you’re interested.

These are some of the most biased, yet interesting museums you could visit. Seriously.

I visited the George H.W. Bush museum in College Station, TX with a bunch of folks from my program, and we were given a backstage tour of the whole thing. It’s hard to explain just how big the archives are…and George HW Bush was just a one term president! The archival stacks go on forever — box after box of memos, interviews, journalism, personal items, etc etc etc. And it’s all available to the researcher!

A ridiculous painting of George H.W. with his cabinet. Look at how dignified they seem.

A ridiculous painting of George H.W. with his cabinet. Look at how dignified they seem…especially Colin Powell gazing into the distance.

I think it’s no secret that I’m not particularly a Bush sympathizer, although those feelings are mostly influenced by the George W., not George H.W. Still, the museum space of the library really did its job, as I was kind of feeling the Bush family, especially the very funny Barbara Bush, by the end of it. That’s saying something.

A bunch of archive students very intently listening to a presentation about Barbara Bush's scrapbooks. She made a TON of these.

A bunch of archive students very intently listening to a presentation about Barbara Bush’s scrapbooks. She made a TON of these.

I think the museum accomplished that by having George H.W. really seem like a family man. There were tons of personal photos and artifacts, including old campaign videos featuring all the Bushes having a grand old time together. It works. Also, the Bushes are still alive, so both Barbara and George have a good amount of say in what is displayed. The staff did say that they really enjoy working with the Bushes, as they’re pretty hands off, as long as the staff doesn’t embarrass them. Apparently that’s not the norm across the whole presidential library system, as some still living presidents are notoriously involved.

Did you want to see a photo of our 41st president bathing the baby version of our 43rd president? OF COURSE YOU DID.

Did you want to see a photo of our 41st president bathing the baby version of our 43rd president? OF COURSE YOU DID.

SIDENOTE: Supposedly I lived this past year in the same apartment that Jeb Bush, the other Bush boy/former governor of Florida, occupied when he went to UT. I’d like to think my apartment is haunted by partying Bushes.

I like to have friendly conversations with former presidents. We're tight.

I like to have friendly conversations with former presidents. We’re tight.

 

I live less than a mile from the LBJ Presidential Library…and yet it took me 9 months to actually get there. Isn’t that always the way? In my defense, it was under construction for quite a while and just re-opened this spring…and I’m lazy. So lazy.

As LBJ has been dead for quite a while, the library seems to have a slightly wider and MAYBE even a slightly more even view of his presidency. Well, maybe. Or maybe I just agree more with LBJ’s social policies, so I’d like to think it’s more unbiased. That’s probably it.

The LBJ Library puts the archives on full view, which is unusual. But if my archive had these gorgeous red boxes with gold seals, I’d do it too! Beautiful!

IMG_2411

Archives on display!

LBJ was president from 1963 (after JFK was assassinated) to 1969…so pretty much the whole run of Mad Men. The museum understands that visitors aren’t only interested in LBJ but also the whole time period, so there are lots of artifacts and displays related to the music, the advertising, and the overall culture of the 1960’s.

IMG_2409

Between Barbie and “The Buddy Holly Story,” being a kid in the 1960’s was pretty cool…

LBJ had a complicated presidency. The Vietnam War was raging (Hey hey LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?!), there were race riots all over the place as well as gains for civil rights, and the whole country was evolving dramatically.

Dog tags of Texas Vietnam veterans.

Dog tags of Texas Vietnam veterans.

I think this museum really shows how LBJ was a man at the middle of a maelstrom. He had a huge personality and was known for getting in people’s faces to get his way, but in the end his hands were really tied. 

IMG_2399

I love campaign pins.

And the highlight of the LBJ museum? The robot LBJ telling folksy stories, of course! WHY DOES THIS EXIST?

So silly.

So silly.

So, anyway, if you live near a Presidential Library, you should totally go. I have plans to hit up the Reagan and the Nixon while I’m in California this summer, and I’ll go to the brand new, VERY INTERESTING George W. Bush in Dallas and the Clinton in Little Rock next school year. Maybe I can collect them all?

Lost in LA – Oddities!

6 Jun

While other cities are weird (yes, Austin. Keep Austin Weird. We get it.), LA is pretty darn out there without even trying. Maybe it’s all these people smashed into one place. Maybe it’s the film industry. Maybe it’s just all the sunshine. LA gets pretty weird, pretty fast.

oddities

1. A Crazy Homegrown Monument/Art Piece:

Watts Towers

Untitled

You know how you look outside your window sometimes and think, “I really should build some crazy huge towers completely on my own out of cement and found objects?” Yeah. Neither have I, but I’m so glad that Simon Rodia did. Rodia was a construction worker without much art background who constructed this delicate but strong almost 100 feet towers over thirty years. He intricately decorated them with mosaics made out of ceramics and soda bottles…and then just walked away never to return. They went into a state of disrepair, and the city almost had it destroyed, but luckily a small group of people saw how amazing they were and saved the towers.

Fancy Entrance

It took me years of living in LA, before I finally made it to the Watts Towers, and I’m so glad I did. You really can’t understand just how spectacular and bizarre Rodia’s vision was until you see them in person.

2. If you’ve ever wanted to picnic in zoo exhibits:

Griffith Park Deserted Zoo

Griffith Park old zoo
The Old Zoo in Griffith Park is straight up one of my favorite things. If I knew you and liked you, I probably took you to this part of the park at least once. It’s just too cool!

The LA zoo was here for about fifty years before it was moved across the park. The zoo was plagued with problems – escaping animals, meat shortages during WWI, etc, so it’s probably a good thing that a new zoo was started from scratch. Also, it means that these ruins were left behind! A few picnic tables have been put in the large stone enclosures, but otherwise it’s mostly untouched. There’s nothing like spending a day pretending to be monkeys in cages, right?

Griffith Park - Old Zoo

3. If you feel like sitting in a room and staring for a while:

The Velaslavasay Panorama

Velaslavasay Panorama
I’m not exactly sure how to describe the Panorama. It’s weird. Really weird. Apparently, before movies, people would go to panoramas to be surrounded by unfamiliar settings. Tucked into an unassuming neighborhood street, The Velaslavasay Panorama continues this tradition. You walk into a building in a state of slight disrepair, go up a narrow staircase, and suddenly you’re surrounded by a painted arctic scene! Eerie sound effects accompany the  image…and it’s just weird. You can sit there as long as you want and just soak it in as the image slowly rotates around you.
Velaslavasay Panorama

The building is related to the Museum of Jurassic Technology (which would have totally been on this list if I hadn’t already mentioned it in the Museums post), and it hosts neighborhood events in their pleasant gardens. I mean, every neighborhood needs a Panorama, right?

4. If you feel like taking a very, very short trip:

 Angels Flight

Angels Flight

Do you really, really hate stairs? For fifty cents, you can just jump on Angel’s Flight and not have to use those calves at all! The funicular cars take you up about 100 feet of track to Angel’s Knoll, that park in 500 Days of Summer. You know…the one that’s all romantic in the movie, but can be slightly shady in real life? Anyway, although the track has been moved about a half block since Angel’s Flight opened, the cars are still the 1901 originals, and they’re pretty neat — all polished wood and orange paint. Sure, you don’t really need to use Angel’s Flight to get anywhere, but why wouldn’t you when they’re so flipping jaunty?

Angels Flight

5. If you want to meet a whole bunch of interesting folks:

The Venice Beach Boardwalk

venice beach boardwalk

And now to leave the weird places, and get with the weird folks…

The Venice Beach Boardwalk runs along Venice Beach, and it bursts with all sorts of vendors, buskers, rollerbladers who belong in the early 90’s, body builders, and tourists. You want your palm read on the beach? Head to Venice. Want to listen to one of the million drum circles? Venice. Want to see a bulldog riding a skateboard? Definitely Venice. It’s all a bit dirty, crazy and scattered, and so LA.

Plus you have the ocean right there! What more could you want? Oh, you might want to be able to find parking? Yeah. Good luck with that.

Venice  Beach Boardwalk

Made it!

3 Jun

Doing a full three day road trip by yourself is kind of intense. I’m happy to say I made it, though both my car and my nerves are a bit worse for wear.

Sword of Damocles | Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns, through the lens of someone who actually does have the right photography equipment! Amazing!

Here’s what I learned on my road trip:

  • Roadtripping by yourself is pretty awesome. You get to leave the hotel whenever you want! No waiting for lazy people! No being ordered out of bed by early risers! You get to listen to what you want on the radio THE ENTIRE TIME. Really, I thought I would be lonely, and there were a few times, but overall I kind of enjoyed the experience.
  • Carlsbad Caverns is AWESOME, MAGICAL and AMAZING, but also way out in the middle of the New Mexico/Texas border oil country. There is nothing around there. At all. So, you’re probably never going to just be in the neighborhood to stop by, but it’s well worth going out of your way. Seeing the most delicate stalactites hanging from the ceiling of a giant cavern wayyyy underground is really special.
  • Bring a sweater to the caverns. Who would of thunk that it’s a whole lot colder underground than it is above ground? EVERYONE BUT ME.
  • Oh, and unless you’re a professional photographer with a whole bunch of versatile lenses, you’re going to have no good pictures of the Caverns. It’s dark down there!
  • Download your music and podcasts before you hit the road. You certainly can’t rely on 3G coverage in the middle of the Texas desert.
  • McDonalds breakfast sausage biscuit is an amazing food that I wish I could eat every day and not gain a million pounds. McDonalds iced coffee is basically coffee flavored melted ice cream. Gross.
  • Fill your tank every time it hits half. You do not want to be the person stuck in the middle of New Mexico without gas. Really.
  • Do whatever you can to avoid driving through 112 degree heat. It might destroy your car a little bit.
  • If, after you’ve driven through the aforementioned 112 degree heat, you’re driving on the LA freeway and your front tire blows out…don’t panic. Be calm. This is what all your driving training of the past 11 years has been leading up to. Control the car and get the heck to the side. You guys. This was one of the scariest things that ever happened to me. Luckily, I was in LA, but not in the middle of downtown, and there weren’t any cars right around me…but jeez. It could’ve been bad.
  • Oh, make sure you’ve updated your AAA before you leave. If it happened to expire a week before your tire blows out, they will let you renew over the phone, but this is probably something you should’ve checked forever ago, right? Right.
  • Make sure you have dinner with awesome friends after your car almost kills you. It makes you feel better.
  • When you get home after an incredibly long four days, your car will be making weird growling, sad noises. Look up how much your car is worth. When it is $800…it’s probably time to figure out a new car situation.

So, yep. That’s where I am. The road trip was a success in that I saw some cool stuff and got where I needed to be, but it may have done in my good little 1997 Honda Civic. Alas. As is life.

Road Trip!

27 May
road trip to LA
I’m getting ready to head back to LA for the summer, and this whole adventure starts with a good, long three day trip across the Southwest. I’ve been on plenty of road trips with my family and shorter trips on my own, but this is the first multi-day trip I’ll do all on my lonesome. How to prepare?
  • Look the part! That outfit above represents exactly what I want to wear every day in a warm car. It’s a good thing I have too many gingham shirts of all colors. Now I can just swap them out as needed!
  • Scout the route! The trip from Central Texas to California is not known to be that exciting, so I did a bit of research. After realizing that staying completely on the most direct route means I’ll mostly just be going through mile after mile of desert, I realized that it  adds just a couple hours to my trip to hit Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. So, I swapped my route so I can include that. And I’m super stoked! I don’t know when I would go otherwise, and it’s the perfect way to break up the trip a bit.
  • Ready your tunes! For those 8-10 hour days, an epic playlist is necessary so you don’t lose your mind. Spotify is my friend. I swear, paying them $8 a month for unlimited streaming is one of the best things I did this year. I’ve already set up a California themed playlist, and I’ve found a few other road trip playlists others have made.
  • Audiobook/Podcast it up! Music is awesome, but sometimes you need a change of pace after tw or three hours. I just found out that Austin Public Library let’s you download audiobooks off their website for free! The selection isn’t ideal, but I did find A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which I’ve had on my to read list. And, of course, podcasts. You know I love them. I’ve been stockpiling over the past couple weeks so I’ll have a few episodes of all my favorites.
  • Healthy snacktime! I just bought a cute collapsible bag cooler from Target, that I plan on filling with all sorts of fruit and string cheese and whatnot. Otherwise? Oh, I’m all about the spicy cheetos they sell at gas stations. Unfortunately, my waistline is not.

What are your favorite ways to pass the time while road tripping? Any tips?