Tag Archives: travel

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Austin long enough to get a solid handle on the city. I can’t recommend the “best of” anything. I can’t share any “must see” attractions. I didn’t stand in an absurdly long line for any of the “best BBQ in town”. I was in town for Austin Psych Fest and spent most of the days and evenings at Carson Creek Ranch. I did write this Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide for where to eat on Rainey Street but please do not mistake me for being an expert on Austin.

One thing I did take note of when driving through the city is that it reminded me of other favorite cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Asheville. Many buildings are decorated with elaborate murals. Storefronts are full of curiosities. Food trucks are everywhere. 

That is not an exaggeration. 

Austin gave me the impression of being Bohemian, artsy, local-centric, and embracing of the weird.

Maybe I am totally off-base and need to return and spend more time exploring the city and discovering its personality. What do you think?

I was able to capture some of Austin’s spirit on the streets. 

{click on any of the smaller gallery-style photographs to view in a slideshow}

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Are you an Austinite? What should I know about your city?

 

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

The Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist

It is almost August and while our days here in South-Central Pennsylvania haven’t been overly hot, the telltale signs of summer are still here. Baseball diamonds are packed on the weekends with eager players vying for the next home rum, social media feeds are full of smiling families posing by ocean waves, chins are perpetually tacky with melted ice cream, and wineberry picking has reached its full and ripe red peak. It is prime time to pile into the car, pick a direction, and just drive with the intention of getting lost. In honor of my favorite season, one that I wish was endless, I decided to put together my own Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist for when we’re on the road and I thought I’d share it with you.

Our family recently took a roadtrip from Pennsylvania to Jekyll Island, Georgia. Despite a long car ride (~12 hours) and hellish traffic from Richmond to Baltimore, the kids did well for sitting in one place for such a long stretch of time. At least in an airplane we can get up and walk around, stretch our legs, and have more freedom to wiggle around to get ants from our pants. The car is a more stationary situation, especially when snugly strapped into a carseat. What helped break up the ride? Besides snack-sized bags of goldfish crackers, a gallon-sized bag of Texas Trash, and VTech InnoTab (affiliate link), the Spotify playlists specifically geared to kids and roadtripping were beneficial. The kids enjoyed hearing fun new songs while passing scenery like this, straight from the Wizard of Oz. 

My Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist

Of course, I always encourage taking the time to visit state and national parks during your travels. 

My Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist
Fort Frederica National Park

Music is one of those ingredients in life that is more than just a bonus, it’s an essential. I need music on while I’m cooking. I must have music playing when I’m cleaning. I find it nearly impossible to drive a vehicle without cranking out some tunes. I think I have a fairly eclectic taste in music and enjoy everything ranging from classical (I started studying classical piano at the age of 4), psychedelic, classic rock, metal, and everything on the fringes and in between. I don’t listen to Top 40 and I have no idea what bubblegum pop is currently getting airtime on the radio. If you’re looking for Pharrell, Katy Perry, or Skrillex, you won’t find it here. 

This playlist features bands including the following: Pearls & Brass, Graveyard, 16 Horsepower, Dax Riggs, Judas Priest, The Band, Crosby Stills & Nash, Canned Heat, Wolf People, Dead Combo, Los Vigilantes, and more. I’ll continue adding songs to this playlist as I stumble across fitting songs on Spotify.

Don’t have Spotify yet? Why not? It’s free! 

 

The Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist
Photo courtesy of Spotify

Spotify is a streaming service that boasts over 20 million songs that are free to access and listen to anytime day or night, on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Every day they add another 20,000 songs so if there is something obscure you’re looking for, chances are they’ll get it eventually. Sure, there is some competition on the market but I don’t plan on even trying any other services because the quality of service I’ve had with Spotify has been outstanding. I choose to pay a nominal fee of just a penny under $10/month so my music isn’t interrupted by commercials and I can listen to my music even when I’m offline through their handy download function. It’s worth it. I dig it. If you don’t have Spotify, download it for free and give it a try. (Disclaimer: Spotify doesn’t have a clue who I am and this is not a sponsored post)

Anyway. My Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist samples are below. If you want to head right over to the playlist and , here you go: Ultimate Summer Roadtrip Playlist, but stay a little while and listen to some samples below!

And the entire playlist:

 

What songs would you put on your own ultimate summer roadtrip playlist?

(Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link as indicated above. I only recommend products I have personally sampled or use. I am not affiliated with VTech in any way but my kids enjoy their InnoTabs.)

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Jekyll Island is part of the Golden Isles, located in charming coastal Georgia and surrounded by salt marshes and warm ocean currents. The island is about 7 miles long by 1.5 wide and offers all the amenities necessary for a great vacation for families or couples. Jekyll Island is a state park and an entry fee is required to drive onto the island.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Entry point onto Jekyll Island

The entry cost for vehicles is $6 per day and it’s good for 24-hours of driving on-and-off the island. If you’re staying for an entire week and don’t plan on leaving the island at all, don’t bother buying the week-long pass, opt for the day pass and you’re set. If you want to explore the other Golden Isles then consider purchasing the week-long pass.

So what makes Jekyll Island a great travel destination for you?

The natural beauty. The wide, expansive beaches have hard-packed sand and tidal pools that beg to have bare feet splash in them.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
The wide beaches are beautiful

The water is comfortably warm and shallow, with gentle waves that allow even little travelers to feel confidence in the almighty sea. My 4-year old daughter, Lotus, paddled in and out of the water on her own while wearing an inner tube around her waist.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

At one point the somewhat murky water smacked her in the face and she shouted, “I hate this water!” but after a few minutes of stewing on the shoreline and angrily digging toes into the sand, she came back out and spent hours giggling and playing. 

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Driftwood Beach is located on the northern end of Jekyll Island and is a dramatic area, a graveyard of trees.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Finely grained and sun-bleached limbs with roots thrusting into salty air in an unapologetic rigor mortis litter the sand and reach longingly for the ebbing ocean and horizon beyond. Little crabs and cockroach-looking creatures scurry and scatter among the rocks and trees, and sea birds gather for the obvious feast.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Common scenery on Driftwood Beach

This seemed to be a popular local spot for photography sessions because there were at least a handful of fancy cameras capturing the magic hour while attempting to wrangle young clients into staged poses when they’d rather be running in the sand and surf. 

As always, all images posted here were captured on an iPhone 5c.

Wildlife? Jekyll Island’s got it.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Coastal whitetail deer

During our week stay, I saw wild dolphins just offshore, sand dollars galore, horseshoe crabs, an abundance of coastal whitetail deer, terrapins crossing the causeway, and our friends caught and released many sharks while fishing off a boat in the channel.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Horseshoe crab

Many sea turtle nests are located on Jekyll Island and the surrounding islands. Sea turtles seek high ground for their nests and they face so many obstacles in reaching adulthood that the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was founded to give them a fighting chance at survival.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Georgia Sea Turtle Center

They rehabilitate, educate, and help to preserve the environment. The Sea Turtle Center has educational programs for all ages, a museum to learn more about the life of these quiet creatures, an observation window into an operating room where doctors remove fishing hooks and stitch up other injuries, and a hospice area where turtles are given the chance to gain strength and heal in peace. 

Historical significance. The idea behind the Federal Reserve was discussed and mulled over on Jekyll Island by the big-wig bankers and major financial players of the day. It was once the private playground of the wealthy, with plantations and the Jekyll Island Club dominating what is now the historic district.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Jekyll Island Club

The Jekyll Island Club is still in operation and has a spa on-site and I’d love to spend a few nights there at some point in the future. You know, for research purposes … not because I’d enjoy the luxury and pampering or anything. The grounds are magnificent and ooze with deep Southern charm, thanks to the old and gnarled trees that positively drip with Spanish moss. 

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Jekyll Island embraced slavery at one point in her history. In fact, the last known ship to bring Africans to the United States for the dastardly purpose of slavery was The Wanderer, a pleasure-yacht-turned-vessel-of-horror. It landed in Jekyll Island in 1858. Today, visitors can learn more about this scar on our nation’s history by going to the Jekyll Island Museum for a full exhibit on The Wanderer and honor the lives of those brought over by visiting the memorial which is located in the southern part of the island at St. Andrews picnic area. 

Head to St. Simons Island and visit Fort Frederica. About 30 minutes away from Jekyll Island is Fort Frederica, located on St. Simons Island. This was once a British military outpost and was built in 1736 to defend against the Spanish. It held soldiers and their families, as well as merchants and those with trades like bakers, shoemakers, and blacksmiths. 

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

The grounds today are mostly cleared of buildings but much work has gone into preserving the history of the fort. Roads are mapped out with street signs, remains of foundations have plaques telling of who once lived there along with a display of artifacts that were found at each location. The ditch that contained the moat is still in evidence surrounding the entire fort and it’s easy to imagine palisades and fort walls surrounding it in the glorious yesteryear. It is built on Frederica River and was established by General Oglethorpe. It served its purpose for years before the Spanish threat waned with British victories and the fort declined and is now in the state you’ll find today.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Mature trees and Spanish moss

Fort Frederica is a quiet place with a hush hanging in the air. The citadel and barracks are still somewhat intact and the graveyard still contains the remnants of tombs. Spanish moss grows thickly and rustles quietly in the breeze, not wanting to disturb the rest of the footsteps of those who once walked these streets.

It only costs $3 for visitors who are 16+ to visit and is an excellent day trip from Jekyll Island. Definitely check out the museum for an educational video on the history of the island, additional artifacts found at Fort Frederica, and a few fun activities for children.

Stop at the Pier Village in St. Simons Island for a range of dining options before heading back to Jekyll Island.

Jekyll Island is an attainable destination for most any budget. You can stay where our nation’s wealthiest used to flock, at the Jekyll Island Club with rooms starting around $189/night. There are various chain hotels like Quality Inn and Suites and Holiday Inn Resort, as well as other luxurious accommodations like Villas by the Sea and the Beachview Club

House rentals are another option, which is how we stayed in Jekyll Island, thanks to an invitation from great friends! Here is a list of current offerings on Airbnb and VRBO.

Go camping! The Jekyll Island Campground offers primitive camping sites ($29/day) and full hook-up sites for RVs ($38/day for pull-through). It is located near Driftwood Beach and there is a general store located on the grounds for necessities you may have forgotten.

Jekyll Island offers quiet solitude with the option of luxury amenities, outdoor adventure, and historic interest. Charter a fishing boat. Go paddle boarding. Kayak along the coast. Bicycle along more than 20 miles of trails. Go to Summer Waves Waterpark. Hit some balls around the golf course. Relax. Breathe. Feel the stresses of life melt away.

These are the reasons why you should plan a trip to Jekyll Island this summer. I’ll be running a photo essay shortly with more of the natural beauty found on Jekyll Island.

Find out even more about Jekyll Island here.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. My only credit must be given to our wonderful friends who invited us to stay with them at their friends’ beach house. 

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin {Rainey Street Edition}

I will be the first person to tell you that this should not be taken as any sort of definitive guide of where to eat in Austin. I didn’t have nearly enough time to explore the city and eat all the food. That’s okay, it just means I’ll have to go back and eat drink explore some more.

Local Austinites, I’m sure, have about two dozen other places to eat and drink that they prefer over what is listed here. Are you from Austin? Travel there often? What else belongs on this non-definitive guide? I’ll add it to the growing list of where I need to go next time.

I was only in Austin for five meals, the other meals we had at Austin Psych Fest or at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse. This limited our exposure to the dining scene. The parameters for our search included but was not limited to: tacos, BBQ, craft beer, Texas craft beer, and Texas border cooking. 

Here is part one of a two-part series on where we ate food and drank beer and margaritas in Austin, Texas. I’ll call this the Rainey Street Edition.

Food, craft beer, and travel is a trifecta of happiness.

Rainey Street. Parking is a crooked and haphazard affair where sidewalks can’t be found, laughter is loud, and what appears to have once been a small community has evolved into a bustling enclave for bars and restaurants. 

Banger’s 

Banger’s is located on hip and chaotic Rainey Street in Austin.

 There is outside and inside seating at Banger’s, the former consisting of long family-style picnic tables piled into a large courtyard. Entry doors lead inside where porcine taxidermy overlooks additional family-style tables and a tap list of over 100 beers.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

Banger’s prides itself as having the largest selection of sausages in Austin and they offer meats like duck, antelope, venison, and more common varieties containing pork and chicken. 

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin
From left to right: Southern Anteleope & Venison Merguez, Dak Bulgogi

Of course I had to get the Southern Texas Antelope & Venison Merguez, because where else am I going to find Southern Texas Antelope in Pennsylvania? It was mildly spiced but not spicy and surprisingly moist inside a casing that popped with every bite. I’ll be honest, though, the Dak Bulgogi that my friend chose was amazing. From Banger’s menu, the Dak Bulgogi: 

Bulgogi Chicken Sausage topped with sriracha, kimchi, oyster sauce, cilantro, carrots, and jalapenos on a kolache bun with a side of soy caramel lime. Served with a house made kimchi salad and sun dried shrimp chips.

C’MON.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

With such a huge variety of craft beer, outstanding sausage and a poutine dish worth sharing with your friends, the laid-back atmosphere at Banger’s is definitely a place I’d go back to again and again.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin
Poutine

They also offer menu items like fried cheese curds, currywurst, boiled peanuts, a michelada bar, and beer milkshakes.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

If you want to get a tattoo of the cute Banger’s logo, a hybrid cowboy boot/beer mug, talk to your server. Apparently they have a deal with a local tattoo shop and it’s free. 

I should have gotten one. Talk about awesome conversation-starting souvenirs. Banger’s, we’re talking about this tattoo the next time I’m in town, okay?

They have live music, many events, and are dog-friendly.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

The legends of their founder, Olaf Gufstafson Banger (OG Banger), are colorful. See their website to read all about him.

Now I want a sausage.

Banger's WebsiteBanger's Facebooktwitter

 

Craft Pride

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

Craft Pride is also located on Rainey Street, close to Banger’s and wholly dedicated to all things Texan and craft. There is a small bottle and merch shop, inside seating that is decorated richly but simply, and outside seating areas.

The interior walls are black with an ornate pattern, the comfortably curved barstool-style seats at the pub tables are covered in black leather(ette) and heavily studded at the arms. On the ceiling is a large cut-out wooden plank relief of the Lone Star State, appropriately decorated with a single illuminated star.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

You will only find craft beer made in Texas at Craft Pride, with offerings from more than 20 breweries taking up 54 taps and 2 casks from breweries like Live Oak, Hops & Grain, and Saint Arnold. The staff is knowledgeable and happy to answer questions about the beer that is served there. If you don’t understand a style, just ask!

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin
Detroit-style Carnivore Pizza from Via 313

If you need something to nosh on while at Craft Pride, head out back to the courtyard and order one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had, an exotic Detroit-style pie. Via 313 is a food truck that is parked behind Craft Pride and sells pizza by pie, consisting of four corner slices. One pie was plenty of food for two people. 

But what is Detroit-style pizza?

For starters, it’s delicious. The crust is crunchy and full of cheesy grease-soaked flavor, the toppings are piled on the crust and the sauce gets spread on top. We chose the Carnivore pizza and it was truly memorable, what with its pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon. The menu also includes The 500 (with pepperoni, jalapeños and pineapple), the Continental (prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan), and the Omnivore (cremini mushrooms, sweet onions, green pepper, pepperoni, and hot Italian sausage). Order your pizza, sit back down with your beer and an order number placard, and have it delivered right to you.

Craft Pride has events like Flight Nights, release parties, and live music. When stepping out on Rainey Street, Craft Pride and Banger’s are great options for you.

Craft Pride: WebsiteBanger's Facebooktwitter

Via 313: WebsiteBanger's Facebooktwitter

I hope you enjoyed this first post in my Non-Definitive but Delicious Guide of Where to Eat in Austin, the Rainey Street edition! Check back next time for Guero’s Taco Bar and one or two more locations.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

The setting:

Carson Creek Ranch. Located 10 minutes from East Austin, TX, back a dusty rural road and close enough to the Austin-Bergstrom Airport that details can be clearly seen and nearly touched on the many overpassing planes. It’s early May so still cold and damp at home for those of us with Northeastern blood, but the temperature here has already pressed into the mid-90s and it is as dry as tinder.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

 The ranch itself is comprised of more than 40 acres but Austin Psych Fest is held on one 20-acre tract that is snuggled up against the lazy banks of the Colorado River.  

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

 There are three stages: a main stage facing the river but at a distance, a pavilion stage near the main stage that is under a large tent, and an amphitheater stage set right along the Colorado River. The slowly moving green water is thick with rebellious clusters of algae that have broken free from the masses along the bank and float merrily along. It appears inviting for a swim but there are signs advising against it because of poisonous snakes and probably liability.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

Large trees interrupt dusty land that is dotted with stubborn tufts of scrubby grass that refuse to succumb entirely to brown death. On the first day I noticed many people wearing bandanas around their nose and mouth and it didn’t take long to understand why. Whenever the  wind picked up, clouds of dust rose into the air, stinging my eyes, invading my nose, and settling like a powdery sludge in my lungs.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

I was happy to be wearing my boots and wide-brimmed hat to help protect my skin from the elements. On day two I began wearing a bandana and it made a noticeable difference in my ability to breathe.

The people.

I recently read a link-bait article (you know, “10 reasons why…”) about the types of assholes one meets at music festivals. I’m telling you right now that I did not see any of those article-blasted assholes at Austin Psych Fest and I didn’t see them at Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland, in 2011 either. Maybe they’re rampant at bubblegum-pop meathead music festivals like [redacted] but the type of crowd that attends a festival like this is there for one thing: the music. 

I saw a woman and her daughter hula hooping. I saw the same man all three days of the festival and he could have just left Spoutwood Farm Fairie Festival. There were a lot of mom jean shorts, floppy hats, band t-shirts, fringes, ankle boots, and other distinctly Bohemian styles. I saw a woman wearing a Steve Buscemi shirt which was completely amazing and there was plenty of leather. 

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

One woman was walking around with cut-off jean shorts and nothing but Texas Longhorn-shaped pasties – or stickers – adorning large breasts. Everything is bigger in Texas.

It’s a family-friendly event. There is camping. I saw quite a few young kids running about with their parents or guardians or squirming while having earplugs stuffed into their ears. Other than the pasty-lady, everyone was fully clothed. This is a perfect springtime festival to cut a child’s teeth.

The food and drink.

Beer is expensive at Austin Psych Fest. So is the liquor. Maybe that’s one reason why I didn’t notice any visibly intoxicated individuals at the festival.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

The only drunk dude I saw was outside the festival on the way back to HausBar Farm and Guesthouse (ideal lodging for anyone attending this event) when we stopped at a gas station and a black Cherokee pulled up crookedly beside us. He walked right over to our driver’s door with his tight black jeans and tighter grey-striped shirt of The mOObs and asked if we just came from the festival.

“Yeah, you guys have that, uh, have the look,” said a man with long straggly hair who looked like the genetic child of David Lee Roth and Iggy Pop. “Man, I totally wanted to go to see Quilt but I had a friend in need. You know how it is.” After some more conversation that was less intelligible, he walked off to get his late-night gas station goods. 

That’s the only intoxicated story I have but it’s a good one.

Tips for attending Austin Psych Fest: take a bandana, tissues for toilet paper, and a water bottle.

Dos Equis sponsored Austin Psych Fest so they were one of the only beers available. I opted for the $6 tallboy lager cans most of the time.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

Water was free at the on-ranch filling station, located at a fairly central point of the property. There were food trucks aplenty set up along the perimeter of the open field, featuring a range of foods from vegetarian to pizza to a truck selling food like fried goat brains and rat stew. 

More random ranch observations.

There were plenty of lavatories available in the form of porta-johns. Some were specifically designated as female-only but of course it didn’t take long for them to be defiled by the standing urinators at the festival. I never had to wait in line which was nice. There wasn’t any toilet paper by the end of the third festival day, which wasn’t as nice. 

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review

Circular mirrors were hanging by string in one of the trees. During the day it reflected the sun and once darkness settled onto the ranch they glittered like twinkling stars. Another tree had several swings attached to solid limbs, a quiet spot to relax and escape the Texas sun. Down the steep hill toward the banks of the river and in full view of the amphitheater stage were hammocks, their occupants gently swaying with eyes closed, arms crossed over their chests, taking in the experience by a sort of musical osmosis. 

Speaking of darkness, the golden hour in Texas is incredibly gorgeous.

There was an AT&T charging station with several types of adapters to dock one’s phone. I chatted with a woman who was visiting from France, her first time in the States. She was loving the festival. The chargers worked slowly but a little extra battery is better than nothing and I was thankful for the amenity.

At the beginning of the second day a police officer was spraying down the ground with a hose to help keep the dust under control. That was appreciated.

The Deluxe VIP area didn’t seem to be worth the extra money spent. There were never too long of lines to get alcohol in the general admission area and the viewing area wasn’t a whole lot better in VIP than in general admission either.

The music.

Of course the music was amazing. It’s why we went. To see bands like Graveyard, Kadavar, Tinariwen, Earthless, and about a dozen more notables was a dream. To see them perform in a venue like Carson Creek Ranch was Paradise. Everything about the environment all around the ranch made the fuzzy psychedelic jams and grooves slip inside my soul. I can close my eyes and still feel the relaxing vibe I experienced at Austin Psych Fest.

If you enjoy listening to even a handful of the bands in the lineup, make the pilgrimage to this festival. You will not regret it.

Austin Psych Fest 2014, a Trippy Hipstamatic Review
Graveyard

Here is a recap video put together by Austin Psych Fest for the 2013 festival. 

All photos were taken on my iPhone 5c using the Hipstamatic app.

Please click on any small photograph to see it full-sized. If you have specific questions about Austin Psych Fest that I didn’t cover, leave a comment and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.

 

Jester King Brewery, Where the Beer is Always Funky and Wild

Jester King Brewery, Where Every Beer is Funky and Wild

The day was bright and sunny with big puffy fair-weather clouds overhead that slid across a washed out Texas sky. This ranch land was the stuff of my dreams: patches of shading trees dotting a somewhat rolling landscape covered in an multicolored array of wildflowers. I’m sure I caught sight of zebras at one ranch we passed on the short drive out of Austin and into Texas Hill Country. It added to the magic I felt as soon as we exited the city and entered the wild.

Jester King Brewery, Where the Beer is Always Funky and Wild

We have been lucky enough to receive Jester King beer a few times in beer trades and having the opportunity to visit their brewery was a treat because their beer is not only finely crafted, it is uniquely their own. Their traditional farmhouse ales are brewed using wild yeasts captured and cultivated right on their 4-acre plot of ranch. While everything they create is done in the lambic-style, all is region-specific to Austin. Wild yeast in Austin is different than wild yeast in San Francisco and is different than wild yeast in Belgium. Yeast is everywhere, all around us, always hungry and searching for sugars to consume. In that respect, all yeasts are similar, but they differ from place to place in subtle ways. By using wild yeast, their own well water, and local grains, Jester King Brewery has created a product that is intrinsic to their own little corner of Texas Hill Country.

Every beer at Jester King is funky and wild.

Jester King Brewery was founded in 2010 by two brothers. The building in which they brew was once a machine shop and now houses a 30 bbl, or ~900 gallon, brewhouse. They are currently in the middle of an expansion and are excited about the future and their ability to create even more magic with the addition of a 30 bbl cool ship. A coolship looks like a giant shallow brownie pan and is used to hold the wort as it cools and becomes inoculated with the wild yeast in the air.

Jester King Brewery, Where the Beer is Always Funky and Wild
Coolship

The word coolship is an English version of koelschip, a Dutch word for this type of vessel. 

For their barrel-aged beers, Jester King uses a cool ship to cool the wort and become inoculated with wild yeast before racking it straight to a barrel after 24 hours. Some of their beers are fermented in stainless tanks but the same wild yeast that inoculates the cool ship wort is used to inoculate the beer in the stainless tanks. When they first started brewing, they set wort on the roof to attract and harvest wild yeasts. They sent that off to a laboratory where they were able to determine exactly what wild yeasts were present on the property and from there they were able to replicate and cultivate the native yeast composition. 

Jester King doesn’t use a brite tank to condition their ales like many other commercial breweries. A brite tank is the place where the process of refining and clarifying the product of yeast and other large particulates continues after primary fermentation. It is also used for carbonation, and storage before kegging or bottling. Some breweries serve beer on tap directly from the brite tank.

The process from start to finish on some beers at Jester King takes two to six months or more. Their goal is quality and one phrase I heard several times by our knowledgeable tour guide was that they use “sensory analysis” to determine when a beer is ready. They’re on the yeast and beer’s timetable, not their own.  

Bottles are conditioned at least one month. Barrels that once held mezcal and wine are used to age beer and some get blended or reintroduced to fruits for additional dryness as the yeasties receive another serving of sugar. Something I always wonder is how often infection occurs when using wild yeasts in previously-used barrels. Our tour guide addressed that question.

Jester King Brewery, Where the Beer is Always Funky and Wild

“Barreled beer is aged at least a year before we perform a sensory analysis on its progress. About 10% of barrels may be infected and in that case we dump the beer,” at this point there was an audible gasp from the tour group, “and leave the barrels exposed to the air to give them time to get rid of the bad bacteria.”

Barrels provide a happy environment for oxygen-scavenging bugs.

Barrel-aged beer is conditioned for a period of time ranging between three to five years. The brewers at Jester King are like mad scientists, mixing and blending these beers and tasting and mixing some more until the farmhouse potions are just right. I envy their job, don’t you?

Everything at Jester King is done by hand – the bottling, capping, labeling – it’s all a labor of love.

What can you expect when visiting Jester King Brewery?

Jester King is open and airy, with many picnic tables set along the slope behind the brewery and the adjacent building housing Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza shop. Guests can play cornhole, take part in a free brewery tour (author’s note: always take the brewery tour), order pizza and have it delivered to your picnic table, and sample the many beverages that are offered at Jester King. I enjoyed being able to purchase small quantities of each beer, allowing me to try more varieties than if I had a full pint of just one or two.

Not only can you purchase samples of ale Jester King ale, there is an impressively curated selection of other regional beer, mead, wine, kombucha, and even cold-brewed coffee. You’ll also find many rare beers from all around the world.

This is a dog-friendly environment, as we found most places in Austin, and there were at least half a dozen hounds hanging out with their owners. 

Buy a bottle or several while you’re at Jester King. Take one home for a beer-loving friend. There are also shirts available for purchase in both men’s and women’s sizes and styles. I got a shirt for La Vie en Rose, a farmhouse ale refermented with raspberries.

Visiting Jester King Brewery is a must when traveling to Austin, whether you’re into beer or not. It is located only about 15 minutes outside the city but feels like a completely different type of world. 

It’s the type of world I could definitely make home.

You can find Jester King brewery on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 

Austin's New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing

Austin’s New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing

HausBar Urban Farm and Guesthouse located in East Austin, TX, is sustainability at its finest, beauty at its simplest, and hospitality at its best. Dorsey Barger, owner of HausBar Farms along with her partner Susan, greeted us with a hug, a welcoming smile, and cans of Hops & Grains Alteration craft beer. She led us through the gate between the private guesthouse driveway and along the path to the charming front porch, warmly lit against the growing darkness. She opened the heavy, solid wood door and invited us into what was our new home for the next several days.

Being greeted with local craft beer – it was the first detail of too many to mention that made HausBar feel like home.

We entered into a bright and cheerful sort of great room with a small dining table, loveseat, kitchen, and living room. A walkway ran along the left wall past the kitchen and into the bedroom and a door led from the living room into the bathroom. The bathroom is also accessible from the bedroom which has a king-sized bed with an organic latex mattress and Pottery Barn bedding, and large sitting area with beautiful natural light during the daytime. There are flat-screen TVs mounted in the living room and in the bedroom but who needs TV when you’re in an urban paradise? I particularly enjoyed the surround sound installed throughout the house because we could easily hear music wherever we were.

“I have organic coffee in here,” Dorsey pointed to a glass jar of ground beans, “and extra in the freezer if you run out. In the refrigerator,” she opens the door to reveal a clean and surprisingly well-stocked supply of food, “there are greens, organic creamer, butter, a beautiful cheese spread, and some eggs gathered from the resident hens here on the farm.”

Heaven. I knew that this was going to be one of the best guesthouse experiences I ever had, if not the best.

Dorsey showed us sheets of paper describing the property, its amenities, and requests to do certain things like compost and recycle. You see, HausBar Farms is a sustainable environment and their goal is for its guests be a part of the special experience.

Austin's New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing
The ladies

The sofa in the living room pulls out to provide sleeping arrangements for up to two additional people and it is operated with a remote that inflates the internal air mattress. There are extra linens and towels in the bathroom closet, a hairdryer, a family-sized bottle of Jāsön lavender soap (my favorite scent!), and freshly cut flowers throughout the house. The kitchen is fully stocked with everything you need to make any meal: dishes, glassware, flatware, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and a dishwasher. There is a washer and dryer and all the provided detergents and soaps are organic, natural, and “clean”. One of my favorite features in the house is the shuttered window in the shower that overlooks the gardens. Windows in a shower are one of life’s simple pleasures, if you ask me.

HausBar Farms truly is a walk-in-ready home away from home.

Austin's New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing

Guests are given an open invitation to wander around the garden and animal areas at any time. There are roosters and hens wandering around and scratching into the ground in search of juicy bugs, chubby ducks happily waddling around and quacking excitedly with each other, and the farm greeter, Gustavo the goose. There are two donkeys who live here and even if you don’t see them immediately you’ll be likely to hear them braying when they see a familiar face. Further back on the property near the cistern, there are movable domed rabbit coops. Because rabbits are highly social animals, HausBar Farms keeps them in a common area together and the domed coop can be easily moved to provide fresh grass for hungry little mouths that are framed with quivering and ticklish whiskers.

Austin's New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing
Bunny snuggles are the best.

HausBar Farms’ clients are local farm-to-table restaurants. Every week a new shipment of chicks from Lancaster County, PA, arrives at the farm and they are raised to adulthood, free-range except for at night when they’re put into the coop to keep them safe from predators like coyote and opossums. The ducks are given free-range at all times because the geese have assigned themselves protective duty and prevent predators from attacking. The animals who live on HausBar Farms aren’t just numbered and tagged creatures destined for the dinner table. They aren’t crammed into small enclosures and left to wallow in their own filth. They aren’t pumped full of drugs to fatten them up and make them grow quickly. They’re cared for in a sustainable way. They have room to wander. They’re handled and appreciated and respected.

The gardens are full of flowers, cacti, herbs, and vegetables. All of the work done at the farm, including digging out the extensive garden beds, was done by hand. We spent at least an hour wandering through the beds trying to identify the plants we saw. The entire property is surrounded by fencing and the guesthouse is surrounded by a separate fence that leads into the animal enclosure and gardens. Behind the guesthouse is a dais with a picnic table and the hen house is just beyond the backyard fence. I can’t think of a more restful and peaceful place inside city limits than HausBar Farms. I felt renewed and refreshed, despite severe pecan tree allergies (who knew?!) and the ensuing state of Zyrtec-zombification.

HausBar Farms and Dorsey inspired me more than I can express in words. They’re continually working to become more self-sufficient and are currently installing a solar barn that will provide an estimated 90% of the electricity needed to run the farm and guesthouse. It will also offer the animals a shady place to rest during the hot summer months.

Booking your stay at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse couldn’t be easier, thanks to Airbnb. It was our first time using the service and we were chuffed with how easy and user-friendly it was. We booked the dates we wanted, Dorsey responded within hours, and we confirmed with payment through Airbnb. While Airbnb requires payment in full up-front when reserving lodging, the host does not receive the payment until 24 hours after your arrival. This acts as a sort of safeguard for renters, in case the lodging is not as advertised or for other causes of concern. Airbnb texts information and reminders to your phone along with sending emails, which is helpful and convenient.

Austin's New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing

The guesthouse has only had a handful of guests so far and, as such, there are currently only two reviews on their listing. Don’t let this affect your decision to stay there! It truly was an amazing and magical place and somewhere I’ll return again and again when traveling to Austin. Dorsey was attentive, caring, thoughtful, and communicated well with us on every step of our journey to and around Austin.

Austin's New Sustainable Lodging at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse, an Airbnb Listing
Me and the Mister on our final night at HausBar Farms

We left Austin with a new friendship and admiration. I thank Dorsey for our experience at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse and for the inspiration and education we received. We will be back!

If you’re interested in sustainable farming and living, give HausBar a follow (links below).

The Details

Airbnb listing – from $150/night

HausBar Farms website

HausBar Farms Facebook

HausBar Farms Twitter

{Author’s note: This trip was not sponsored. Airbnb has no clue who I am. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.}

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

If you read my last post, you know we barely made it to Texas. The most important fact of that whole post, one of the longest I’ve probably ever written on here, is that we did actually make it.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) was crowded, hectic, and the Terminal E bathrooms were disgusting. Other than that we didn’t have any issues coming or going. On departure, we were delayed twice but that wasn’t any issue since we had a direct flight with no connection to worry about. The Fly Bar in Terminal E serves a few craft beers so that’s good to take note if you’re flying with one of several airlines like Spirit, who we were with. I can’t vouch for their food and the beer was expensive but at least it was craft.

The rental car building at DFW is accessible by a 15-minute shuttle bus ride that, for us, was barely organized chaos. There was a gentleman with a cast on his leg and crutches cradled under his arms who nearly got crushed in the rear doors when the driver closed them while he was getting off the bus at his terminal. Can you imagine?

“Yeah, honey, I’m at the hospital,” doubly injured guy in smart khaki shorts says. “No, I wasn’t in an accident. Well, not really. I was getting out of the shuttle bus at the airport and the driver, he actually closed the door on me.”

“What do you mean, he closed the door on you?” (s)he asks with worry in his/her voice.

“Just that. He closed the door on me. Now my other leg is broken and I haven’t the foggiest how I’ll manage all my luggage with two broken legs!”

I imagine that saying things like “foggiest” is something that dapper young gents wearing smart khakis might say.

Or me. I say it all the time.

The intercom on the shuttle was commandeered by what I think was an authentic Australian. He sure sounded like the real deal and he was quite the jokester.

“So, guys and gals, how about a little knock-knock joke, yeah?”

Silence from the rest of the bus.

“Okay then, tough crowd today, eh? Some of you must have had rough flights then. How about another joke, then. So, there’s this guy and he walks into a bar. You know what he said?”

Silence.

“Ouch.”

A few quiet laughs before … silence.

“So, I’m here in Dallas for a wedding this weekend. Is anyone else going to a wedding this weekend?”

It turns out that Kevin (Australian airport shuttle bus tour guide) and Nancy (random woman standing right behind him in the standing-room only shuttle bus, are going to the same wedding.

The same exact wedding.

Serendipity.

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

We arrive at the rental car facility, which is a large building with a statue of steers greeting everyone as they walk through the front doors. I was impressed with the welcome. Thank you, DFW. It appealed to this East Coast girl’s idea of the Wild West. Checking in with Alamo was painless, we got our vehicle (a mid-size sedan), took our chances and didn’t take out any extra insurance, and drove into miles and miles and more miles of construction and traffic.

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Driving out of DFW at rush hour on a Thursday was no joke. Traffic was heavy, traffic patterns were all confubbled and the map function on my iPhone was no help because of all the road changes and construction. We saw at least two accidents and passed a few points of interest like a circus-like tent, a Miller plant, a strip club that apparently changed ownership at some point because both establishment names were visible on the sign, and two mega-churches within 1/4 mile of each other.

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Those churches? They mean business. I mean, they are a business. I don’t get how two churches that huge can exist so closely to each other. One was Baptist and the other sounded like it was non-denominational.

The billboards in Texas are quite different than those here in the Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania. Here you find mostly business ads on billboards, hospital ads, and beer ads. It seemed as if most of the billboards in Texas were for DWI lawyers, a few for suing sexual abusers, and drink ads for things like Bud Light Clamato.

It’s okay if you threw up in your mouth a little bit. I did too.

Also of interest was the Real Gun Show, which is bigger and better than the regular gun shows that we have around here, I bet. We saw a ton of churches right along the highway, like the Shephard’s Valley Cowboy Church. I really want to go there to see what it’s like. How does a cowboy worshipping God look compared to a real estate broker or engineer?

I need to know.

There are a ton of Texas Roadhouse, Hooters, Chili’s, Czech bakeries (what’s with all the Czech bakeries, Texas people?), and cars that squeeze into impossibly tight spaces on the highway.

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

Turn signals are apparently optional in Texas. Construction vehicles churn up large dust clouds because it has been so dry.

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

 

Once you’re past Fort Worth on I-35 South, the buildings clear out and all along either side of the road are tidy ranches with a few dilapidated ranches fit in between them. Strip clubs and porn shops are easy to find if you are so inclined and, what with their bricked in windows, are probably a prime spot to find yourself in the event of a zombie apocalypse. On a beautiful note, wildflowers abound and in between the highways there are carpets of red flowers interwoven with vibrant yellows and blues. The sky is big, so much bigger than I’m used to here in PA, and the colors look as if they marched right off of a Maxfield Parrish painting. There are gently rolling hills interrupting flat land with large rolled bales of hay or straw, some covered in white plastic, looking like a giant child tossed a bag full of marshmallows on his front lawn.

Welcome to Texas, and Observations

It takes about 3.5 hours to get from DFW to Austin if you stop along the way for a bite to eat. We stopped in Waco and chose a place called Rudy’s for dinner.

Rudy’s was amazing.

I’ll tell you all about Rudy’s in Waco, Texas, and also about Whataburger soon. You do know I love talking about food.

In all, Texas welcomed us warmly and I felt at home immediately. One thing I love about travel is observing and comparing sights, sounds, and smells with what I am used to at home in the Susquehanna Valley. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Well said, sir. Well said.

I think we all need to travel more, what say you?

I have several other posts in the pipeline for this Texas series, like Jester King Brewery, Austin Psych Fest, HausBar Farms & Guesthouse, restaurants, and a photo essay of Austin. What would you like to read about next?

 

Traveling to Texas, or a Comedy of Near-Errors

Traveling to Texas, or a Comedy of Errors

“Road closed. Well, that’s just [expletive] great.”

(Author’s note: there are several expletives removed from my actual journaling from our day of travel. Feel free to use your imagination. If you know a suitable expletive, I probably said it.)

Looking back, that first road closure sign was an omen of the day of travel ahead. This particular trip to the airport from York County to Philadelphia International Airport was riddled with hiccups, stress, and anxiety. More than once I forced myself to stop wringing my hands, slow my breathing, and relax.

At least, it was stressful for me. As much as I purport to go with the flow, I am actually pretty high-strung at times. Back in the good ol’ days filled with soul-soothing buzzes from certain herbal remedies, I could have cared less. I mean, whatever, man.

These days are more white-knuckled than the days of yore.

My husband stayed pretty even-tempered and optimistic which I’m sure helped me considerably, although at the time it was pretty [expletive] annoying. Misery does love company.

We had our route planned, cutting through the picturesque southern part of the counties and with the all-seeing and all-knowing GPS on our phones, it’s hard to get lost these days, even if you are actually trying to do so. What we weren’t thinking about was the 5 or so inches of rain that cleansed the land — for a short time, at least — in the 24 hours prior to our departure.

(By Jocelyn Augustino (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Road closed.

Road closed.

Road [expletive] closed.

We hit at least four of them and had to loop our way way South before finding a path back up to where we should have been too many minutes earlier. GPS is great and all but it sure didn’t help us account for where all the low-lying roads were still covered with water the color of a Yoo-hoo milk product.

You ever drink that stuff? I’m more of a Perrydell chocolate milk fan.

I’m one of those people who hates to be late for anything. Appointments, play dates, dinner parties, flights … being early means being on time. All of these closed roads meant that being “on time” might quickly evolve into being late.

“We’re not going to make it in time,” I said, as I twisted the pink tassle at the end of my necklace between worried fingers.

“We’ll be fine. Just relax and read the map, tell me what direction to go. You’re the navigator,” my husband said in a tone doing its very best to convey confidence.

Okay, good. I’m the navigator. I’m good at this. When we took road trips growing up, I’d often sit in the front seat and be the navigator because (no offense, Mom!) I can read maps better than she can. The lists that directions give on my iPhone? I rarely even use them because I prefer just using the map.

In a previous life I was actually a cartographer. True story, I think.

The Brandywine area in Pennsylvania sure is a looker but I hope next time it’s a leisurely trip in which I can appreciate her virtues.

Namely, wine.

We finally made it to the Expresspark lot outside the airport, which was so far off the beaten track I was sure we must have made a wrong turn. That would have been the navigator’s fault, of course. To my hugely perceptible relief, it was indeed there and we parked. We removed our bodies from the car and we collected our suitcase and backpack from the trunk and we closed and locked the doors with a bag of leftover bagels with cream cheese inside.

Protip: Don’t let bags of half-eaten bagels with cream cheese sit inside your closed car for any amount of time but especially not for a week. 

The affable older gentleman who was our shuttle van driver handed us an Expresspark business card, conveniently naming the area of the huge massive lot we were in as “extended lot runway side”. I looked at the clock. 10:50am.

“We should be okay since our flight isn’t until 12:15. Hopefully there isn’t a line at security,” I say, still fretting like it’s my job.

“We’ll be fine. Just relax.” My husband motioned with his hands to calm down, which had the opposite effect.

When the driver got out to help another woman into the shuttle, my heart did anything but slow down. She slowly stepped out of her car, fixed her hair in the car’s reflection, pursed her lips a bit like she just put on lipstick, and sauntered over to the passenger side of the shuttle van.

Yeah, she sauntered. I know I wasn’t reading anything into her walking style.

He warmly gave her the same welcome as he did for us, handing her a card and putting the van into gear and slowly moving forward.

Until he stopped, probably fifteen feet down the parking lot. You’ve got to be [expletive] kidding!

On the other side of the parking aisle, still driving around trying to find a parking spot, is another vehicle. Our thoughtful driver puts the van into park, opens the door and motions the driver of the lost-looking vehicle to park and yells out, “I’ll wait for ya!”

My husband, finally showing signs of stress-fraying around the edges says, “Sir, we really need to get to the airport as soon as possible. We have a flight that is leaving soon.”

“Sure, sure, of course.”

And we proceeded to wait for what felt like half of an eternity for the other passengers to get into the van.

Then we start moving, like actual driving, and made it nearly through the labyrinth of parked vehicles of every make and color imaginable, before he stops to let another couple of people in at the exit gate. I do get it, I do. It’s his job to shuttle people from this lot to the airport departure terminals all day long. More people piled into his van each time means fewer times he has to trek back and forth.

But still. Remember above where I told you I can be high-strung?

Checking our bag at Terminal A with Spirit Airlines was easy breezy. In fact, it was probably one of the best customer service experiences I’ve had when traveling by air – both coming and going. Well done, Spirit! I’ll fly with you again! We head up to security and get shuffled into the right-hand lane which has about 30 or so people in a barely moving line instead of getting put into the left-hand lane which had about 8 people in it. The airport worker didn’t ask to see our boarding pass, they just told us to get into the right lane. There were no signs indicating the difference between lines. After several minutes of moving about 10 feet or so, I went back to the worker (who was deep in conversation about some dinner party or something) and asked, “May we please move into this shorter line?”

I flashed my most winning smile.

Which didn’t work.

“You’re in the right lane,” she said with a shooing motion of her hand as she broke eye contact with me and got back into conversation with her friend.

Red-faced and agitated, I walked back to my spot in line. “I was just [expletive] dismissed by her. Just like that. No [expletive] we’re in the right lane. I want to be in the left lane.”

I pull out my phone and look at the time. 11:14am.

At this point, my heart is beating loudly inside my head.

We finally make it through to security and that process was time-consuming, too. It took sheer willpower to not look at the time obsessively. It doesn’t pay to look too nervous around TSA workers, you know?

I made it to the bins. Boots, Kindle, glasses & boarding pass in one. Bag on the rollers. I even managed a small smile at an agent as I stepped into the full body scanners, making sure to suck my gut in as much as I could and ignore all the articles I’ve read about what they actually see. Did you enjoy that shot of all my extra weight, you guys?

We made it to A14 with just enough time to have a quick bathroom break before boarding right away.

So. We made it. Huzzah! But too close for comfort for this woman. We wouldn’t have wanted to be much later. I glanced at the time as we stepped onto the plane and it was 11:56am. 17 minutes to spare before taking off.

“We are on the plane. I repeat, we made it.”

Thus ends the adventures of flooded roads en route to a flight to Dallas, Texas. Our trip did certainly improve and other than severe allergies, was outstanding and inspirational. From our stay at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse (more on them soon!) to the three-day Austin Psych Fest (more on that soon, too!), Austin was one of the most restive and exciting trips I’ve been on in awhile. I have so much to write about and share with you.

I promise I’ll include more photos in the other posts in my Texas series. I wasn’t even thinking about photos during all of this.

(Author’s second –and I promise the last– note: the featured image above? The one behind the post title? It’s not from this trip. There’s no corn growing right now. But it shows rain so it fits.)