Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: August 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Summer Vacation Soon to Be Realized

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My Summer Fall Vacation 

An Unlikely Paradise 

This summer I am taking the vacation of a lifetime, something I've wanted to do for a long time, something that just fell into place when I wasn't really trying.

Regular passenger car filled with travelers on the Empire Builder enroute from Chicago to East Glacier Park, Montana, and Seattle, Washington, June 1974

Leyla's Trip Across The Country on Amtrak

If you know anything about me, you know I like to travel. I write a travel blog (in addition to this blog and others) and I have been ALL OVER the world. But there is one thing I have not done much of, I haven't traveled the United States. That will soon change.

One of my dreams has been to travel across the United States, but I always thought I would drive across the country. But I hate to drive. So back in June, after I got booted from the trip I was supposed to take, and as I watched everyone else take their summer trips to Italy, Michigan, Vail and every other place under the sun, it dawned on me. THIS would be the summer vacation of my life!

I started browsing the internet (that's a lie, I constantly browse the internet - there is no start or stop) and I found the Trails and Rails program on Amtrak. I thought, "Hmmm, National Parks could be fun." But I'm not terribly outdoorsy.  Or even a little outdoorsy.

I purchased an 8 ride Amtrak ticket (any 8 stops on any line in 15 days) and upgraded with a few Roommettes. I start on the Empire Builder and transfer to the Coast Starlight spending two nights in each destination.

Empire Builder Route

Coast Starlight Amtrak

My first stop on the Empire Builder is in Essex, the Northwest corner of Montana, just beside Glacier National Park. I spend three days in Essex where I'll stay at Issac Walton Inn in a caboose car (a BIG thanks to @SennettReport for the recommendation), take a Jammer Ride, go white water rafting! Guess what, I've never really gone white water rafting before (unless you count Green Bay, Wisconsin).

Isaac Walton Inn 

Historic Red Bus "Jammer" Tours 
Red Bus at Waterton Lakes National Park

You know that's going to be ME waving the flag! 
photo courtesy of Glacier Rafting Co.
After three days in Glacier Park (god, I can barely contain my excitement), I get back onto the Amtrak and head to Portland, Oregon for my second stop. I wasn't able to secure a Roomette for this leg of my trip, they were sold out, therefore, I'll be sitting in coach. I'm a little worried to sitting in coach from 7:45 p.m. to 10:10 a.m., but looking forward to the experience. 
I don't have much to say YET about Portland because I haven't had a chance to plan anything. I am interested in their food & wine scene as I know it is great. I need to figure out which neighborhood is best but I am considering staying on this 41' boat in the pier that I found on Airbnb
If you have any good pointers on what to do in Portland, please leave a comment. 
From Portland I hop back on the Amtrak and head down to San Francisco for stop number three. I haven't quite planned San Francisco either buy my friend John lives there and he's a photographer, I plan to take some walking photo tours with him, get some drinks, maybe see a band (not a black metal band - his choice in music doesn't quite suit me). I don't even have any clue where I am staying so pointers are welcomed! 
My next, and final, stop will be in Santa Barbara. I am truly excited about Santa Barbara because I found an incredible trailer park where I rented an Airstream - Santa Barbara Auto Camp. I rented the Anacapa, which is one of the smaller trailers, it has two bikes (I'll only need one, because duh, I'm traveling alone again) that I can ride to the beach. 

The problem with the Airstream Camper Park is that they only have availability for ONE night, so I have to move to a secondary location on night two. I'm looking at a few options, but maybe ONE luxury spot may be a good options. And since I know very little about Santa Barbara, I'm going to create a Pin. Pack. Go Pinterest Board to see if Four Seasons Santa Barbara would be willing to help plan my trip!

More details to come leading up to the trip: 
  • What will I pack? I need help!  Suggestions? Tweet me @leyla_a or leave a comment 
  • What "Gear" do I need? 
  • What should I do in Portland, San Fran and Santa Barbara? 
  • What am I missing? 

(Disclosure: Four Seasons is a client and Pin. Pack. Go is one of our projects). 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fashion Post: Best and the Worst from #Lollapalooza

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Fashion Post: Best and Worst Fashion from Lollapalooza 

The better looks I saw at Lollapalooza (worst to follow) 

1) This may not be the "best" dressed couple at Lollapalooza, in fact, some may argue that they're not dressed well at all (the lad is wearing an anarchist Bart Simpson shirt), but I thought they were really adorable.

Lollapalooza 2013

2) These girls (who were well into their 30s (if not their 40s), should probably teach the chubby teens a thing or two about wearing short shorts. The brunette is wearing a pair of tight burgundy shorts with cowboy boots AND she has really toned legs!

Lollapalooza 2013

3) As long as we're on the subject of aging rock chicks, how about this girl? American Apparel tank top, lace, tie-dye cami, Prada glasses and Citizens of Humanity cropped jeans. Oh wait, that's @leyla_a (me)! 

Lollapalooza 2013
I slipped my own pic into a "fashion" post (whatever, it's my blog)

4) The retro-hippie couple who wore every cliche look they could get their hands on. I'm not clear how the neon arm sleeves complete the look, but I did think they had a cute look.

Lollapalooza 2013

5) This girl was adorable in her face paint and her native american looking top, coupled with her mint colored, studded fanny pack and her hot pink shorts. I'm not 100% certain, but I think she was going for the "Indian Princess meets 80s Suburban Mom" look with this outfit. But her smile shines bright enough to make up for any fashion faux pas. It's a shame that the douche bag behind her photo bombed the pic.

Lollapalooza 2013

Now the assault of the denim diaper - the WORST look at Lollapalooza! 

6) This girl has a thin waste, and these denim shorts still look offensive. There's nothing attractive about the middle of your butt cheek hanging out of your shorts. I can't imagine these tight jean shorts breathe well, and on a hot day, it can't end well for her. Yikes!

Lollapalooza 2013

7) I genuinely have NO CLUE what is happening here, the whole look is an assault to human dignity. Black vinyl shorts (I think), some sort of white and black crop top and terrible white high tops. Ewww. 

Lollapalooza 2013

8) This girl needs to sew the legs of these jeans back on because this look is simply NOT working for her. Someone should've stopped this girl before she walked out of the house, maybe she has no friends (or at least not ones who like her). 

9) Once again, we have an image of a young girl who is thin enough to pull of the look, if the look was worth pulling off. Note the center butt cheek drooping out from her short shorts, the color of the fabric is simply awful, and she's neither tan, nor firm.

10) Neon was big at Lollapalooza this year, this guy decided to take it to an extreme with BRIGHT neon board shorts and a hot pink bandana. I wish I had gotten a closer shot so I had more amo to make jokes. 

Lollapalooza 2013

11) I feel slightly guilty mocking this couple because I don't think they're trying to be fashionable (it only makes sense to mock fashion when someone is making an effort, otherwise it is just mean). The girlfriend in this bland duo is sporting the short short (a.k.a. denim diaper) when she totally should be wearing a long flowing skirt to cover those legs. 

12) This girl is passed out, but even when she was conscious her look was completely wrong. Maybe she was drunk when she thought it was a good idea to wear all black against her pale pink skin. And that crop top, just ewww.

13) And last but not least, there was this guy. Lucky number 13! 
Lollapalooza 2013

Other Lollapalooza Posts: 

Want to know more about the other games my friends and I played at Lollapalooza - go to the Denim Diaper Challenge 

You can also read about my Day 1 at Lollapalooza (not sure I'll end up posting about Days 2 and 3 - I'm tired and it's now a week old. Maybe, if you ask - comments work! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Dancers at Lollapalooza

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So You Think You Can Dance? 

Well, you maybe think you're the best dancers at Lollapalooza, but you can't dance, and I have proof! 

Dancers at Lollapalooza 2013

Dance Challenge at Lollapalooza 2013 
My friends and I had several challenges to complete over the course of the three day festival:

  1. Find the drunkest person before 3PM each day 
  2. The Denim Diaper challenge (photos to come) 
  3. Video footage explaining why "Men Shouldn't Dance" 

The winner of the challenge was my friend Adam (who took the competition quite seriously) and sent me text messages each night (after he was able to get his phone to work) of his entries. Below is a compilation of Adam's work followed by the WINNER of the "Why Men Shouldn't Dance" challenge. 

A Dance Compilation 

The Winner of "Men Shouldn't Dance" competition 

More of my Lollapalooza posts are here: 
and more to come! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lollapalooza 2013 - Day 1 at #Lolla

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Lollapalooza Day 1: "My Favorites" 

Bands I planned to see on day 1 at #Lolla

**UPDATED** with pics from NIN (courtesy of Adam) - scroll all the way down

Lollapalooza Day 1 - what really happened

As much as I would love to be a carefree music festival goer, someone has to pay the bills! Therefore, every daytime act on Friday was an impossibility because I had to work. Luckily, I work across the street from Grant Park, so I simply had to go outside and walk through Millennium Park to get to Lollapalooza. 

I was hoping to leave the office in time to catch Band of Horses (at 4:15), but that was just a foolish dream - being able to leave work early on a Friday, that's less likely than a double rainbow. I had strong hopes for Thievery Corporation (and so desperately wanted to see that show), but that too turned out to be a hope and not an actuality. Thanks work! Hey, it's OK, without work I couldn't afford the price of admission. 

I was finally able to make it to New Order, after meeting my friend Efsun who was coming down from the 'burbs. Navigating the festival grounds is always a bit tricky for me as I am terrible with maps and directions overall. Plus, I never trust +efsun korman, she could get lost in a corner. Later, we found my friends Adam and Michelle - which is always easy. I some how end up 15 feet from +Adam Georges no matter where I go.

Not the most flattering photo of Efsun, but you needed a picture

I was a New Order fan growing up, I've seen them live in the past, so I was looking forward to seeing them. But, I wasn't expecting much, because when it comes to bands that play music that is very genre-specific, and especially when that genre saw its heyday 20+ years ago, I can't imagine that they're going to blow anyone away - we just live in a different time and place. My expectations of New Order were medium to low, and they absolutely met those expectations. I thought the show was good, not great. However, there was one exception, the cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart was horrid, almost like an insult. That is a song that shouldn't be messed with because it holds so much value to so many people from that era, they just shouldn't have played it.  

Next up NIN
We headed straight for whatever stage Nine Inch Nails was to perform on. Usually for the bands I really like, I like to be up front so I can see. In fact, I've been known to get crushed against the gates before, but that's just part of the experience. (I'm embellishing just a touch so you can understand how important it is for me to see).

We dilly dallied too much on our way to the stage - someone had to eat, someone had to pee, I needed another Bud Lime-a-Rita (highest alcohol content available of all the beverages in the park, FYI), we ran into some people we knew, etcetera, etcetera. By the time we FINALLY got to the stage, there was no chance I was getting anywhere near Trent Reznor. 

We inched our way to the middle of the crowd, and there I stood in a sea of men taller than me with one big bald head in my direct field of vision. 

THIS was all I saw of Nine Inch Nails 

After a while I decided being in a sea of men was was too much to take, so Efsun and I parted ways with Adam and Michelle and headed to the back of the crowd. It was far more pleasant to watch from the back. 

Takeaways from NIN show:
1) Trent Reznor is still awesome, and his arms are super buff from what little I could see
2) The stage show / lighting was great from what little I could see 
3) Which brings me to my last takeaway -- why on god's earth did they not have the screens turned on so we could see? Idiots! 

If you saw NIN at Lollapalooza this year, i would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments. And please tweet me your pics @leyla_a .

Stay tuned for my Lolla wrap report for Day 2 and Day 3 -- better late than never. While you're waiting, go look at my pics on Flickr and on Instagram.