walking in memphis: FLiP M Magazine April 2017

This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine April 2017.  FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine, though this month’s article was shown in FLiP M, the men’s side. You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!

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Walking in Memphis

By: Aeri Rose

Let me start off by saying, I had no intention of singing karaoke that night. I blame Beale Street. It just pulls the music right out of you, whether you’re ready for it or not. But for one reason or another (or three, all of which may or may not have involved generous pours of gin and a splash of lime) I suddenly found myself belting “Put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane…” at the top of my lungs in front of a bar full of karaoke fans with a table full of cheering friends somewhere in the back.

Shortly there after, we too found ourselves making our way down Beale Street, thankfully NOT in the pouring rain (hats off to you Mr. Marc Cohen). Beale Street is a must see for any music lover or booze drinker. It’s a lively bar district in downtown Memphis, Tennessee where the bars are packed with live musicians nightly, ready to lure in passerby’s with the sweet sound of blues and rock ’n roll. Though any night will find you at least a handful of live performances, Thursday through Saturday nights are most raucous.

The next morning, wash away the last remnants of the night before with a cup of strong coffee or some hair of the dog from Tamp and Tap, home to artisan coffee and local craft beers. Once properly fortified, get ready for a day of sight seeing at some of Memphis’s most famous historic landmarks.

No, I’m not talking about old battlefields and snore-fest museums. I’m talking about Graceland and Sun Studio the Birthplace of Rock ’N Roll!

Graceland is the home of Elvis Presley. And if you don’t know who that is, put down this magazine, crawl out from under that rock you’ve been living under, and go listen to Hound Dog, Burning Love, and All Shook Up, to start. Now that you’ve been introduced to the King of Rock and Roll, you can start to appreciate just what kind of impact Memphis had on American music in the ’50’s. They changed the way we thought music could sound; packing so much soul, heartache, and longing into every song they recorded. They developed new sounds, playing guitars in front of hollow boxes just to get crunchy moans and deep vibrations out of the instruments; paving the way for modern rock, amplifiers, and electric guitars.

After paying your respects to the King, head on down to Sun Studio and the birthplace of Rock and Roll. Here, Elvis first recorded ‘Thats Alright Mama,’ and other rock and R&B greats like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and B.B. King recorded some of their most famous works.  Take the tour through Sun Studios and stand in the actual recording studio where the magic happened. Can you feel the rhythm and soul, and the lingering remnants of the musical revolution in the walls around you?

Allow yourself plenty of time to be suitably awed by the musical history and enthralling memorabilia at these two fantastic historic landmarks. When you’re ready, head on down to one of my favorite BBQ joints for a good old Memphis BBQ dinner.  Memphis BBQ is special because of its pit smoking slow cooking style of preparing the meat (usually pork).

For something traditional, my favorite BBQ joint is the Germantown Commissary, home to hickory-smoked barbecue, perfectly brewed sweet-tea, and to die for sides of beans, slaw, and potato salad. The sandwich, on a fluffy white roll, is delicious, and the rack of ribs is heavenly.

For something a little different I like Corky’s, where I can order a heaping helping of sweet and smoky barbecue on top of a perfectly cooked baked potato, complete with sour cream and cheddar cheese on top.  Its decadent. Its delicious. It’s worth every minute the nap you’ll surely need to take afterwards.

After that nap, put on your blue suede shoes, and get ready for another night out on the town. After all, the best way to honor the musical legends that called Memphis home is with a glass in your hand and a lass on your arm, dancing the night away to some of their favorite songs.

Get those toes tapping boys!

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306545_10100339996775636_297841040_nHave you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as a writer and entrepreneur.  To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.

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4 must do’s of train hopping on the trans-siberian railway; FLiP Magazine W feb 2017

This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine February 2017.  FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine.  You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!

 

Four Must-Do’s of Train Hopping on the Trans-Siberian Railway

How can I pack the wonder and excitement of the Trans-Siberian Railway into a one page article? I can’t. It’s impossible. The colors! The smells! The sounds! The Russian culture! The other travelers! Every moment is memorable. You’re just going to have to go do it yourself. But before you do, I can  at least offer these four “must-do’s” for your trip.

“But wait!” you say. “What exactly is the Trans-Siberian Railway?”

It is an incredibly long train route (the longest in the world in fact) that extends from Moscow in the west to Vladivstok in the east. It spans 6,152 miles and takes seven days straight to complete.  It crosses much of Russia’s Taiga and Western Siberia.  A similar route, the Trans-Mongolian Railway extends from Moscow in the west to Beijing in the East, passing through Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, on the way.

For those adventurous travelers on the hunt for slow travel experiences, this should be high on your bucket list.

On our particular journey, we began in St. Petersburg and ended in Ulaanbaatar.  We stopped in Moscow and Irkutsk along the way. We spent roughly two weeks on our journey, and the longest leg of our train ride was the three days between Moscow and Irkutsk.  Which leads me to my first tip.

Tip 1: Build city stops and side trips into your itinerary.

Jumping on the train in Moscow and not stopping until you reach the eastern coast is ambitious, but you may get more enjoyment out of your journey if you break it into smaller legs with breaks to sight-see along the way.  In Moscow we spent three days exploring and it still wasn’t enough. There is so much history and modern day culture to take in!

In Irkutsk we took a side trip to nearby Listvyanka, a small village on the shores of Lake Baikal. Here we took time to hike parts of the Great Baikal Trail, dine on local fish, and take in the breathtaking beauty of the crystal clear lake. After three days of sitting on a train making small talk with our cabin mates and wandering between our bunks and the meal car, having a few days of fresh air was a pleasant change of scenery.

Speaking of cabin mates, my second tip is to treat yourself to a second class ticket.

Tip 2: Buy 2nd/Kupe Classe

I know, I know. You’re an intrepid backpacker, not afraid to travel rough. You want to stretch each travel dollar and make the most of your experiences.  I’m right there with you. But I am forever grateful that I let myself be convinced to splurge on a second class ticket. In second class up to four people share a cabin with four relatively comfortable beds and a door that closes and locks.

In Plackscarta/Platzcart (Third Class) they pack up to 54 beds in a train car with little to no privacy, security, or comfort.

Anyway.

Tip 3: Bring Tea, Buy Piroshki/Pirozhki

Each train car has a hot water station at one end and a bathroom at the other. You can drink the water from the hot water station. Travel with tea and sugar cubes to liven up your beverages without resorting to the exorbitantly high costs of the meal car drinks. It is also helpful to pack snacks to eat and share.

At most stops the train will pull into the station and stay for 10 minutes to an hour or more. This can be a nice chance to hop off and stretch your legs. Just be sure to check with the conductor before wandering too far from your car! On the platforms there are often old Russian Grandmas selling freshly baked and still hot and steaming piroshki, vegetables, potatoes, and even some fish. Buy the piroshki. Often filled with potato, cabbage, meat, cheese, onion, or carrot, each is more delicious than the next. Try them all!

Tip 4: Pack a notebook and pens

As you get farther east there are fewer concessions to English speakers. There are fewer signs translated and fewer strangers who might just happen to know some English. Don’t think you can just rely on your trusty cellphone either. You are in Siberia after all!

Packing a notebook and pen can be a help when trying to communicate. Additionally, you may want to journal some of your experiences, and sometimes breaking open the laptop and furiously typing away just isn’t prudent.

As always, pack light and enjoy yourself. Life is an adventure!

For more stories about my Russian railway adventures, be sure to check out my Russian Adventure Posts!

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306545_10100339996775636_297841040_nHave you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as a writer and entrepreneur.  To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.

the art of the postcard; FLiP W Magazine October 2015

This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine October 2015.  FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine.  You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!

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“The Art of the Postcard” 

“Hey Ma! Greetings from the top of the Empire State Building.  Can I see my house from here? Give everyone my love and tell John to stay out of my room! Love, Katie”

“Hi Dad! We walked ALL OVER Barcelona today. Man am I tired.  Time for some wine and tapas. Gina says hi too. See you soon,  Rob”

“OMG Sarah you will not believe how hot all the guys are in Italy.  Its a total dream. I met this guy at the disco last night, Angelo, and we stayed out dancing ‘till like 5:00 am. The sky was getting light, seriously.  Wish you were here!! xoxo Roxie”

No matter who you want to write to, on your next trip write some postcards! They are a fun and inexpensive way to let your loved ones know you were thinking about them on while on your adventures.  And in today’s modern age of tweets, posts, and pokes; its nice to find something more exciting than bills and penny-savers in the mailbox on occasion.

What kind of post card should you send? Whatever strikes your fancy! There are cards of places you’ve been, sights you’ve seen, and more.  Some are big, some are small, some are matte or glossy, but all offer the sender a chance to share a small slice of their excitement and discovery with friends back home.

Or, consider exploring one of the many new postcard aps available on your smartphone. Snapshot Postcard (www.snapshotpostcard.com) for iPhone is one of my favorites, and Touchnote (www.touchnote.com) for android and laptops is a good one too. With these aps you can be the author and photographer! Just up load your favorite moments from your trip, jot down your messages, and with a couple quick clicks away it is whisked to be printed and sent wherever you wish.

But wait! What should you write?

The typical postcard has roughly 4 square inches of message space, at most, so keep your notes short and sweet. And remember, these things don’t have envelopes so keep your messages kid friendly and non-incriminating! Write a poem or song, a haiku, or even a riddle to keep your readers guessing until you get home.  Fancy yourself as an artist? Draw a picture!

Sometimes when in the midst of a busy trip it can be hard to remember to stop and appreciate each new moment.  But the act of selecting a card, and sitting down at a cafe or on a park bench to write out a few of your favorite memories can help you to pause, catch your breath, and remember what it is about travel that you love most to begin with.

So on your next trip I challenge you to send a post card.  Do it for you. I hope you love it. I hope your reader loves it. And I hope it helps you connect to a deeper appreciation of the places you visit.

Happy travels and happy writing!

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306545_10100339996775636_297841040_nHave you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as an artist and entrepreneur.  To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.

pittsburgh: the pearl of pennsylvania

Like an oyster with a grain of sand, Pittsburgh is fast emerging as The Pearl of Pennsylvania. Long considered the tough and gritty anchor of the state’s western edge, a youthful artistic movement is rapidly re-gentrifying this unique metropolis. Last week I had the opportunity to check out Pittsburgh for myself, and I have to say, the rumors are true.  I found a rapidly growing artisan community that was as optimistic as it was unpretentious. Locals were friendly and genuine, the art was vibrant, and the food delicious. Our aimless wanderings quickly turned into an international gastro-tour of Lawrenceville and The Strip, two little gems that really deserve some fanfare.

Lawrenceville is an area northeast of downtown that is blossoming into a trendy and fresh neighborhood grown from industrial roots.  Along its main drag sprout coffeeshops, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and more. Near by, accessible by foot, bike, or car, The Strip District is a historic area now home to nightclubs, bars, and oodles of specialty shops and import grocers.

While we couldn’t hit every store on our tour (our wallets and waistlines just wouldn’t allow it) I am sure you will find just as many gems on your adventure as we did on ours.  But if you’re looking for some recommendations, follow along as I recount our recent gastro-tour.

We started out in Lawrenceville at Gryphon’s Tea, 4127 Butler St., with orders of Cold Earl Grey with agave nectar, and Matcha- a powdered green tea drink.  Both were brewed fresh while we waited, and the barista was friendly and filled with recommendations of sights and eats in Lawrenceville.

After a leisurely stroll up Butler St., into a few art galleries, and down to the waters edge, past design studios and consulting firms, we wandered past La Gourmandine Bakery and Pastry Shop, 4605 Butler St., and were betrayed by our noses.  It would take someone with a stronger will than I to walk past that shop and not be lured in with the scents of fresh french bread, buttery croissants, and delicate pastries.  The smell was exactly as a French Bakery should be.  It brought back memories of living in Lyon, rushing past bakeries just taking out their fresh baked goods as I caught the bus to class in the morning, and then picking up fresh baguettes in the afternoons on my way home.  The treats were as delicious as they smelled, with flaky layers that melted in your mouth and left you completely satisfied.

Wandering back down the other side of Butler Street, we took the barista up on her recommendation to eat at Smoke BBQ Taqueria, 4115 Butler St.  Smoke is an unassuming restaurant next to a refurbished movie theater that specializes in bar-be-qua and tacos.  It was while deciding what to order here that we committed to our day of foodie exploration.  So rather than order full meals we each ordered a taco snack. I had a taco with black beans, roasted corn, poblano relish, fried potatoes, and topped with ribs pork. It was an astounding blend of flavors and textures and every bite was a delight.

From there we hopped back in our car and drove the few blocks down to The Strip. I’d like to take a moment here to applaud the geniuses at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. Their new parking meters are brilliant in their simplicity. Rather than print out tags that one must leave on their vehicle’s front dash, at these meters you simply key in your license plate and you’re done.  Why is this so brilliant? Because it is possible to refill your meter from ANYWHERE in the city. Simply visit one of these parking pay stations, key in your license plate number and viola your meter has been refreshed.

Anyway, back to food.  Our first stop in The Strip was a visit into one of the many Asian Markets along Penn Ave. There we found all our standard favorite spices, deserts, and drinks.  I left with bags of mochi, Tom Kha soup mix, wasabi snacks, and dried seaweed.

Back outside, not two doors down, we found a Polish Deli, S&D Polish Deli, 2204 Penn Ave. Here we ordered a selection of Polish Cheeses, some spinach and cheese pierogis, and a stuffed cabbage.  The cheese was sharp, the pierogis fresh, and the stuffed cabbage just the way babula makes it.

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Pierogis and stuffed cabbage from S&D Polish Deli

Surely they must be getting full, you might think. Maybe a bit. From here we transitioned to some grocery shopping and exploring more of the specialty shops along Penn Ave.

There are Italian Markets, Middle Eastern spice shops, Mediterranean grocers, fresh butchers, outdoor produce markets, and more. The cultural cacophony is deafening, and inspiring.  “If we lived here we could make this and that and more!” we found ourselves saying over and over again.  “I can’t believe they have this!” I exclaimed more than once over rare cuts of meat, exotic vegetables, and hard to find spices.

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An outdoor produce market on Penn Ave in The Strip 

After stocking up on some Italian cheeses from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., and some fresh biscotti from The Enrico Biscotti Co. we were ready for a break.  Rather than head home, we wandered into The Beerhive for a seat and a drink.  After a couple of refreshing pints of Octoberfest we were ready for round two of our gastro-tour.

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So many specialty shops all in a row!

We ended the day with Vietnamese sandwiches from Pho Van Vietnamese Noodles & Grill.  A Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwich, as I soon learned, is a mouthwatering combination of tender pork, chili sauce, onion, cilantro, and cucumber on top of a french baguette.  Pho Van does Bahn Mi right.

With that, we concluded our delightful gastro-tour of Lawrenceville and The Strip District. Everything was delicious, reasonably priced, and worth every calorie.  By the end of the day we were ready to collapse into a satiated food coma back at our hotel, and we did just that.

Pittsburgh, you hidden pearl, never again will I think of you as a city of steel mills and silly football players.  You are now forever in my heart as one of the most delicious, artistic, friendly and inviting cities in the Northeast.

Until next time, Buon Appetito and Salute!!

Aeri

lense love: why setting up a photo shoot may put your beauty in perspective; FLiP W Magazine March 2015

This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine March 2015.  FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine.  You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!

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Lens Love: Why setting up a Photoshoot May Put Your Beauty in Perspective 
By: Aeri Rose
I still don’t know why I did it really. One minute I was enjoying Pomegranate Martinis and Spicy Tuna Rolls at a happy hour, and the next thing I knew I was planning a boudoir photoshoot with my friend, Alyssa, for the next morning.  Alyssa is a professional photographer, and her brand Faded Infinity specializes in private photoshoots, particularly boudoir scenes.
A boudoir shoot, as I soon learned, is one that depicts the model in a sensual or sexual way. She is typically in lingerie or nude- implied or otherwise- but the thing that most distinguishes a boudoir shoot is the tone of elegance rather than eroticism. They are quite commonly seen in Victoria Secret ads or used as gift for that special someone.
Alyssa loves working with her clients on boudoir scenes because she feels the shoot really gives them a chance to own their beauty and to be confident in their sexuality. That’s what she’s into, making women feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin. But that’s the hardest part. How do you get someone who doesn’t really know how to feel about their body in front of the camera?
Luckily, I got the sudden urge to be daring (maybe those martinis had something to do with that). I have never done any type of modeling before, and the thought of showing all that skin was really intimidating. But I’m always up for something new. I trusted Alyssa. And, I’ll be honest, I was kind of excited at the thought of trying out all my sexy-time faces in front of the camera. What did I look like as a seductress? Did I have some bonafide smoldering eyes or was I still more of a duckface?
Man did I have a blast! During the shoot I didn’t really care whether my far off gaze looked introspective or addlebrained. I had a great time rolling around on a spare mattress dragged out into the garden – all made up with pillows and a fluffy comforter. I felt like a fairy queen napping under the orange trees on that warm Arizona morning. Alyssa did my makeup and helped me pick out a few outfits that I felt good in and that she thought would really represent me in the photos. I started out the shoot with a nightie, a flannel shirt that I always wear and, of course, my furry uggs. By the end I was wearing nothing but my panties and a faux fur blanket.  I got into it. I got comfortable. The layers came off while I explored this confident sexy side of myself. It was easy once we started having fun and laughing. Occasionally she would show me a shot she was really excited she got. Seeing myself on the little screen of her camera and how excited she was just inflated my enthusiasm and gave me even more energy to roll around with.
Alyssa did a great job. I really think some of the pictures turned out amazing. I was so excited but nervous to see them, even after the previews. But they turned out beautiful. Hey, I’ll admit it: I love these pictures of myself! Just like she promised. I  learned to love my body and embrace my unique beauty. For the first time, in perhaps my whole life, I really truly knew that I was beautiful.  And now, looking at the photos afterwards, I regain that happy confidence and it fills me with more love for my body. My own look. Me.
Working with Alyssa and Faded Infinity on a private photo shoot really helped me see what I truly look like without my own insecurities clouding my vision.
So really, get out there and find your confidence. I recommend it.  Go find a photographer you can trust, or that makes you comfortable, and take an afternoon to have a fun sexy time photo shoot.  Don’t just do it so you have some readily available sexting photos. Do it for yourself.
Do it so that the next time those freshly washed jeans feel too tight and try to steal your confidence, you can remember you are a smoking hot mamma without any clothes on and no pair of PANTS is going to make you feel otherwise.

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Photographer credit:
Alyssa W. Johnson

rainbow rampage

I know it’s hard to think about halter-tops and sun dresses in the middle of winter, with many of us still under bombardment by the epic Polar Vortex that has been plaguing the much of the northern United States this winter.

But I promise spring will soon be upon us!

So cast off your mukluks, crawl out of your igloos and dance in the light of the sun.  Prove to Winter and tricky Jack Frost that you can’t be defeated by a few grey skies and a bit of ice!

Feeling warmer? Good now take a peek at our freshly released Rainbow Rampage Catalog, and order your happy summer-wear today!

Rainbow Rampage Catalog Cover

good buddy

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”

 ~Henry David Thoreau

And nothing makes the world seem so cozy as to be visited by friends from afar.

I’m sure Thoreau just forgot to add that last bit.

This fall I have enjoyed the new sensation of having friends visiting me. How delicious it has been!

First, a friend from Pennsic War decided to work at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and we have had the delightful opportunity of spending out weekends together.  How wonderful it is to discover a new kindred spirit!  Whether sharing ciders and laughs, or cheesecake and knitting projects, or weekends have been a hoot!

Then, a friend who has been working in China had work that brought him to Pittsburgh, PA.  And compared to China a five hour road trip didn’t seem too far to travel for a good friend.  So a visit to Pittsburgh was made! And I have to admit I was impressed with that ol’ city.  I expected smoke stacks and coal mounds, and even sought them out for a photo shoot with the new Rainbow Rampage collection, but it was a tough search down by the river’s edge to find the grit and grime.  Downtown Pittsburgh was clean and trendy and full of art and life.  The tourist center even has a sweet little book detailing all the outdoor art installations throughout the city.  If I only had had time to explore more of them!

I did find the time to stay an extra day and attend the Mumford and Sons concert at the First Niagara Pavilion.  Which was so awesome! They were great.  And the adventure that took us from the Lawn to the third row was awesome too!

Mumford and Sons August 29, 2013
Mumford and Sons August 29, 2013

Then Sandra, my Swiss friend with whom I have shared many a travel adventure, came to Boston with her new beau; and I just had to head north again for a visit. It was one of my first road trips with Shelly, my big white van, and I was excited to test out the comfort-ability of the bed in the back.  It was great!

On the way up I stopped off in Delaware for a few hours to visit with a friend from my Drexel days, and we caught up with each other over glasses of white wine and dainty cheese plates.  Oh Wilmington how I underestimated you!

That night I stopped to sleep at a rest stop in Connecticut.

Lets pause for a moment and talk about rest stops, and deciding which ones to stop at.  Not all rest stops are created equal. As a solo traveler it is important to trust your gut and look for clues.  I was let in on this little tip at a Denny’s when I shared a midnight meal and a counter with a group of truckers on the I-10 West of Dallas.  Straight from the lips of professionals, I took their advice to heart.  I like to remember the three S’s:

1. Shakes

2. Semi’s 

3. Shadows 

Shakes, as in restaurants like 24-hour diners and fast food chains, create traffic and energy at a rest stop.  It may seem bright and noisy, but it is much better to stop over at a place busy with people and frequented by patrol cars.

Semi’s, as in tractor trailers, are usually a good sign that a rest stop is well used and on the beaten path.  If the stop is split between car parking and trucker parking…park with the trucks.  I like to tuck Shelly in between two monstrous truckers and find myself gently lulled to sleep by the deep growling idle of a monstrous diesel engine.

Shadows aren’t necessarily your friend. But the light sources that create them are.  If you are just plum exhausted and can’t bear the thought of traveling a single mile more in search of a bright glowing island of coffee and gasoline than pull into that dodgy looking blue sign rest stop off the highway. If you must park, at least park under the light.  Though it was the consensus of my trucker angels that if you have to choose between pulling over under the light on an exit ramp and pulling into a dark and shadowy abandoned rest stop, choose the exit ramp!

In all of my cross country adventures I have to say that Pilot and Love’s are pretty great truck stops. They have 24 hour restaurants and mini-marts, gas pumps, lots of lights, lots of trucks, and lots of parking.  You can always see them from the highway well before their exit because they have monstrous electric signs with the current gas prices printed in green and red which is a great beacon of hope when groggy highway fatigued eyes are searching for answers. And in the morning when you wake up in the front seat with your legs over the steering wheel and your feet stuck in the dash the cashier won’t look at you funny when you brush your teeth in their bathroom and pour yourself a 24 oz cup of steaming hot, incredibly bland, amazingly rejeuvinating coffee before hitting the road again.  Ah the life of a modern gypsy.

But I digress. Boston.  And then Houston, with another old friend and another new adventure.  Perhaps those stories should be saved for another day.  Each deserves its very own post I think, complete with catchy title and a photo that hints at stories yet to be told.

Over and Out,
Aeri

the plague!

It’s the Plague!! And it has come to the Maryland Renaissance Festival! It can strike at any moment. You might not even know you’ve been hit, and then later when you are home and stripping off your hot dusty garb, you’ll realize…you’ve BEEN PLAGUED!

The only way to get rid of the plague is to PASS IT ON!

 

What am I talking about? With help from my friends, over fifty clothes pins with “the plague” written on them have been secretly unleashed in Revel Grove.  Keep the game going!  When you find you’ve been pinned, try to secretly pin it on someone new.  How sneaky can you be? Your life may depend on it!

Spark(ly) Notes: Aeri Rose in 2013

My goodness it has been a while since my last post! Almost four months, two states, and two shows since my last post in fact.  Being the lead fairy of a costume boutique is hard work!

But so much has happened! I will try to catch you up.  First, the Spark(ly) Notes:

– Adopted by Ace

– Drove to Arizona and opened the Arizona Renaissance Festival

– Was accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival

– Sold Alice

– Drove to Texas and opened Scarborough Faire

-Schmooze with Travel Chanel Team

– Road trip to New Orleans

– Bought a Van

– Was accepted to vend at the Virginia Renaissance Festival

– Survived exploding fertilizer plants and rouge Tornados

I think that’s all. That’s enough right? I’m sure some of those sparkly notes have you saying “excuse me what?!”  and I promise they are all as silly and exciting as they sound.

So to begin, at the beginning, which is often a good place to start.  Except when the end seems like a good place to start. So long as working backwards is an alright thing for you to do. But I digress.

In January I arrived in Santa Barbara and spent two weeks with Teri Evans, owner of Unicorn Clothing, in her workshop. While there I learned that Ace needed a home. Ace was a six month old Siberian Husky that was adopted by Teri’s neighbors as a puppy.  Only after adopting him did they learn that their landlord did not allow dogs.  Not the  best order of things to be sure.  So poor Ace was faced with a tough decision: the pound, or me,  He chose me! And so two weeks later, into the Jeep he climbed, and away to Arizona we did go.

Ace is the beast up front. Lucy, my Dad's little lady, is in the back.
Ace is the beast up front. Lucy, my Dad’s little lady, is in the back.

In Arizona we had the exciting task of opening a new booth for Unicorn Clothing.  And I got the exciting information that Reincarnation Outfitters had been accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, in Texas in April and May.  And I sold Alice, my Jeep Cherokee, to my good friends Alex and Stephanie.  With not a few tears I said good bye to my loyal road companion and went from “Has It Together Hippie” to “Irresponsible Road Rennie”.  On the road, with a large dog and a business’s supply of inventory and no way of transporting it.  Yikes!

Operation: [Learn how to] Ask For Help was in full effect.  And I have to say it was a good lesson for me.  After spending the full run of Arizona steadily sewing skirts, making tutus, and preparing for the show; it was finally time to hit the road to Texas as the grateful passengers to Repo and Shadow.  Ace was an AMAZING road dog, incredibly patient and calm for the 20 hour road trip ahead of us.  Repo and Shadow were entertaining travel company and Repo’s van did a decent job of getting us to our destination.  It willingly humored our midnight departure and my through the night shift as driver.  It patiently weathered the hail and freezing rain that met us over the Texas border.  And it finally gave up with a cough when we cracked a radiator hose.  Luckily Shadow and some gaffing tape came to the rescue.

Pulling onto site the next morning, I was instantly faced with the next adventure: Set Up Camp.  Yes, I would be CAMPING at the show this year. I hadn’t had to CAMP at a festival since 2009 and I was feeling very uncertain of my memory and skills regarding such an activity.  Could I still put up a decent shade/weather tarp? What about platforms. What about lights? God I didn’t even have a KNIFE with me. How unprepared could I be?

But again, thanks to the success of Operation: Ask For Help and the local Wallyworld I soon had a cozy camp established.  And I have to say, after countless storms, and tornado threats (keep reading!) I am pretty damn proud of my Tarpentry skills.  Not a single unwanted drop has entered my tent.  Well, maybe five unwanted drops found coming through a hole in the tarp; a hole quickly defeated by a sliding a trash bag in between the tarp and the tent’s rain fly.

"Abstract Roofentry"
“Abstract Roofentry”

Cold nights forced me to warily grant Ace tent privileges, an honor he me with surprisingly good behavior.  What a cuddle butt he is.   But I knew the cool days and cold nights would not last.  Soon the Texas heat would descend: 90 degree days with 90% humidity and no where to hide from it.  But luckily I had a plan.

Ale, my adventurous step-mom, was going to be meeting me in New Orleans after the second weekend of the show to deliver the inventory I had stored in Maryland.  She took Ace home with  her to spend time as a house dog, complete with a yard to run in and air condition to hide in.  New Orleans was New Orleans.  Repo, loyal road dog himself, came with me for the adventure and a chance to see The Big Easy for himself.  New Orleans is great. Every time I go I tell myself, “Self. You need to live here one day. You really do.”

This time was no different. We three wandered the city by night, exploring streets with music pouring out of dodgy bars and lit by real gas lights on the corners.  In the morning we ate beignets and drank chicory root coffee and hit the road home by the afternoon.  I got to introduce another road connoisseur to some of my favorite roads in the country: the beauty of I-10 as it spans the swamps outside of the city.

First Faire Booth!
First Faire Booth!

Back in Texas things seemed to settle down. Sort of.  Each weekend was a whirlwind of tutus, and hula hoops.  Each week was filled with tutu production, dance parties and concerts, and other standard Scarborough Fare.  Pun intended. The highlight of the season was again the Naughty Clown Party. The Naughty Clown is an annual show hosted by the resident clowns.  It began as a chance for the clowns to get out some of the naughty jokes they just can’t use on the kiddies during the weekend.  It has since grown into the most stunning display of talent on the circuit.  Performers and those who don’t perform professional but sure as hell could if they wanted to put on acts of such beauty and skill that it makes you cry out of joy and love and respect for our amazing community.  Those of us in the audience are just as enthusiastic, dressing to the nines- or the sixty-nines as the case may be- in our best naughty clown attire.  This year I wore a rainbow.  That’s what it felt like anyway, an accurate description do you think?

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Dudes in Drag: Another Naughty Clown Tradition!
Dress like you love yourself!
Dress like you love yourself!

One weekend the Travel Channel was on site filming for a new show about fan culture. The renaissance festivals, with their playtrons, comicon fans, and authentic hobbits, was a wealth of footage I am sure.  And of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk to someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL!   I couldn’t leave my booth to find them, sadly, so I planned- and pounced! I sent a flower with a message something along the lines of this: “No festival experience is complete without feeling the excited delight of being told you’ve been sent a flower. But there is no blushing admirer at the other end of this bloom. Only an enterprising fairy who hopes you’ll stop by her booth to hear some tales of travel and adventure, glitter and angels.” I sent it with the flower girl with instructions to give the flower and the not to “the most important looking crew guy”, and it worked! The next morning someone came by and we  chatted and I told him about this here blog and gave him my card and I hope hope HOPE that someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL is reading this blog! What do you think? Would you watch a show about a backpacking fairy? Wouldya?

Whew!

Somewhere in all that merriment I managed to find my new road vehicle.  A 1994 Chevrolet Sportvan…the kind of van that the Mystery Machine was drawn to resemble.  I am going to paint the sh*t out of that van! No white space will be left unadorned.  The Era of the Van has begun.  I LOVE IT! Lets just hope she is as loyal as Alice was.  Her first big test is coming up in less than two weeks when we make another mad dash north.  I’ll have four days to tear down in Texas, drive north, and set up in Virginia.  Wahoo!! Coffee please!

The new Van. Name still Needed!
The new Van. Name still Needed!

And there you have it.  An update on the life of Aeri the Traveling Fairy.  I promise I’ll try to keep on top of it this spring!

Much Love! I’ll be back soon!

Aeri