Category Archives: travel

35+ Year Old’s Guide to Attending Music Festivals

Summer is officially the music festival season.  There are the big ones: Bonaroo, Lalapalooza, Outside Lands, etc.  And then there are the smaller, more local festivals (we have quite a few here in the LA area – Pasadena, Echo Park, Sunset Junction, Eagle Rock – and those are just the ones that I’ve been lucky enough to attend).

Believe it or not, three years ago I attended my very first music festival.  And while knowing how much I enjoy going to concerts, that might come as a shock to you, trust me when I say, if I had my way, I could have gone on happily never having been to a music festival.

My husband, on the other hand, loves music festivals of all shapes and sizes and has attended many. In fact, it’s not uncommon for him to attend a handful during any given year.

Which of course means, eventually I was going to have to attend one.  There was just no getting out of it.

Lucky for me, my first festival – Austin City Limits – was a great experience (you can read more about it here).  And since then, I’ve gone on to attend – and even enjoy – a few others.  In fact, this past spring, I headed out to Stagecoach.  Which I promptly decided that I would never do again…the heat, the dirt, the heat, the hike, the dirt, and yes, the triple-digit heat. It was WAY too much.

Next month, I’ll be heading back to Austin to for another round of Austin City Limits.  This time around, I expect the experience to be even better.  One: I’m interested in more of the bands that will be playing.  Two: I know how things work since I’ve done it before.  And three: I’ll be better prepared as I’ve since been to a few music festivals now.

Here’s my suggestion on what to bring if you’re attending a music festival…be it small or large.

  • A backpack – it makes the whole experience so much easier since you’ll have everything at your fingertips.
  • Comfortable shoes – this is the time to worry about being fashionable.  Comfort matters.  And take it from my personal experience (something I learned long, long ago), nothing ruins your day like blisters, bruises or painful feet.
  • Sunscreen – slather it on. Then slather it on a couple more times throughout the day.  You will sweat and you will douse yourself in water to cool off, so I suggest going with the “sport” versions.  And those sprays make for super simple application.
  • A hat – hipster, cowboy, baseball, garden, hiking…I don’t care what kind of hat.  Just wear something that will cover your eyes from the glaring sun.  The larger the brim, the better.
  • A refillable water bottle – most festivals won’t let you in with a full bottle or even a sealed bottle these days.  But they will let you bring in your empty or your refillable bottles.  And if they’re good at what they do and they care about their people, they’ll encourage you to bring in those bottles and have plenty of filling stations available (I’m looking at you Stagecoach – no idea why you didn’t tell people to bring bottles and why you didn’t have more filling stations…especially in that heat).
  • A towel – I’d actually go so far as to suggest TWO towels…one for sitting on (during Stagecoach it protected us from the itchy hay bales and during ACL it reserved our space for the final shows each night) and one for wiping down or dousing in water and wearing around your neck.  Trust me, things get hot out there.
  • Toilet paper or tissue – you will be using porta-potties.  Making sure you have your own paper on hand makes the experience a bit more tolerable.
  • Hand sanitizer – you’re going to be there for hours.  You’re going to be using porta-potties (see above). You’re going to be sitting on the ground or wiping off your sweat. You’re going to be eating.  You’ll be glad you brought a small tube with you.
  • Lip balm – though this might just be me. But it gets hot out there.  And sunscreen on the lips isn’t a look that works for me.  Then again, I’m a bit addicted, so I always make sure to have some handy.
  • A lightweight jacket or sweater – you’ll have been in the sun, sweating, dancing, baking for hours.  Once that sun goes down, things get quite cool.  Having a little something that you can put on helps.
  • A flashlight – most of these music festivals are in big parks.  And once the shows are over, and you’ve left the stage area, it’s dark. And the walk back to you car (or bike, or the bus line) is even darker.  Having even a small flashlight helps.
  • Phone charger – or back up power.  Most festivals have charging stations, some require that you have your own cord.  Others, have the hookups there for you.  Either way, it’s worth having handy.
  • Bandaids – you never know when you might get that blister or scrape.  Can’t hurt to have some on hand, right?

If you’re a female, I’d also suggest that you wear dresses or skirts.  Those porta-potties are much easier to use (and to balance) when you can hold your close up and away instead of having to pull things down and away.  Just a thought.

If you’re part of a group, you might also want to have something that sets you apart from the rest of the hundreds of thousands of people.  Think tall flags, things with lights, etc.  It really does make it easier to find your people…especially if drinking has been involved.

This list is by no means perfect.  But it should get you through in comfort…until you can create a supply list that works better for your needs.

If you see me at ACL – merrily reliving my youth along with Depeche and the Cure, feel free to say Hi.


The Jury Duty that Didn’t

After a fun-filled weekend celebrating my husband’s birthday, I was more than ready to take part in my civil obligation and sit for jury duty.  That was until I called in to register and see if I was scheduled to show up.

Turns out, out of all the repeated, highlighted and bolded information…phone numbers, juror ID numbers, circuit court numbers, websites, hours, scheduled date, address, etc.,…they felt the need to write out, only once, on the back side of the paper, that you have to register within 5 days of receipt of the summons.  No date, just the phrase “required to register using the telephone withing 5 days of receiving the summons.”  No urgency or date noted in the outlined, boxed, 4-step instructions, merely a mention in step 3 that you need to “register by phone”.

And now, apparently you can’t register the night before. So um…no jury duty for me this week.  This works for me.

I had planned for the week, so I have nothing at all on my schedule.  An entire week without any outside obligations.  Awesome.

Luckily, it was easy enough to reschedule.  So I looked over my calendar and made sure to pick a date far enough away that I could once again schedule around the entire week.  And the minute I received my confirmation of my new dates and hung up I realized that I chose the very week that we had planned our vacation weekend on.


So now we spend most of yesterday and today trying to see if there’s any way we can still swing our vacation (and the member party at our favorite vineyard) and still get back in time.

I call back into the system to see if I can reschedule again.  I figured I’d poke around until I reached a person and try to plead my case for a one week extension.  Luckily, I didn’t have to.  On a fluke I was able to reschedule my week without any problems (even though the recording assured me that this date would not change under any circumstances).

So now we get to go back to planning our vacation.  And you better believe, this vacation will be totally and completely appreciated.

Oh and in case you were wondering…I wouldn’t suggest trying to call in and reschedule your jury duty while you hungover on a weekend’s worth of migraine meds.  Just sayin’.

Wanderlust and Honest Tea…Sounds Like a Plan to Me

A little known secret about me…I love, love, love to enter contests and sweepstakes (which is probably why I enjoy arranging for the contests on ConstantChatter too).  I haven’t done it much here, but in my not so distant past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to create massive lists of various contests.  And lucky me, I’ve even won one or two – sadly, no cars or awesome vacations, but some fun things like a necklace and some bath and body products.

Well, I recently heard about the Wanderlust Festival. To be honest, I’ve never heard of the Wanderlust Festival before.  But, then again, I’ve only recently started trying yoga.  Basically, we’re talking about a lifestyle festival combining music, the world’s top yoga teachers, organics, and sustainability in the breathtaking Tahoe, CA.  Music artists and yoga instructors such as Shiva Rae, Seane Corn, Baron Baptiste, Moby, Thievery Corporation and many others will be featured.

Seems the folks behind Wanderlust are  teaming up with Honest Tea (some yummy bottled tea!!) and Whole Foods and giving away a pair of tickets, with full-access to the festival, three yoga classes and access to the stage INCLUDING a two night stay at Squaw Valley Lodge and a $500 American Express Gift Card.   And on top of all that, the winner will also receive a one year supply of Honest Tea & Honest Ade.

They’re also doing some first and second prize winners as well, but you’ll have to check out the official rules and whatnot for the details.  It’s pretty much a text-to-win kind of contest, so head on over to the nearest Whole Foods before 5/31 for the correct key word that you can find on their specially-marked displays.

Me, I’d be happy just to visit beautiful Lake Tahoe, work on my savasana and drink my iced tea!

Best of luck!

Disclosure Policy

A Weekend in the Santa Maria Wine Country

For my husbands birthday, I had planned to take him a way for a day of wine tasting in Santa Barbara. But work got in the way.

Then we were going to go a couple weeks later, but again, his work got in the way.  He then proposed that we go out that way for our anniversary weekend, but yet again…you guessed it, his work got in the way.


It was looking like our weekend away wine tasting was never going to happen.

Then he suggested that we head out for my birthday weekend and celebrate everything all rolled into one.  He wasn’t able to promise anything because again, he was afraid that work would interfere, but this time, we were actually able to make it happen.  Of course work again, had their hands in the way things played out, but it worked out for the better this time around.  And due to reasons I’m not yet allowed to discuss, we won’t have these sort of life interruptions in the future. Yay!

Not being parents, we didn’t realize that it was Mother’s Day weekend.  And not being marathon runners, we didn’t realize it was the weekend for the annual Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon.  Needless to say, anything in Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and Solvang were completely sold out.  So we headed up to Santa Maria instead.

Wine is wine, right? Well, that’s what we thought anyway.

We stayed at the newly remodeled Holiday Inn right there in town.  Nothing fancy, but quite comfortable (aside from the very odd, cheap chair that sank down to nothing when you sat in it).  And it had a kitchenette, so we were able to bring some wine back to the room and save money by not eating out for breakfast.  We didn’t try any of the amenities, but I will say that this is the first time in a long time that we had free internet access and that alone was quite nice.  I also loved how they went out of their way to ensure that we had a great experience: a welcome letter, a welcome voice mail message and a note to reconnect with my bill.  Great customer relations.

For the most part, we just relaxed, drove around and tasted wine.  We were a little disappointed in the wine tasting experience. Not only were the tasting and bottle prices much higher than in the Sonoma/Russian River valley, but they weren’t nearly as good.  In fact, in three days worth of leisurely tasting (meaning about 3-4 wineries a day), we only found two that we liked.

We really enjoyed a Voignier at Melville and picked up a bottle to bring back home.  Melville actually came highly recommended to us and we in turn, would easily recommend them to others.  Nice tasting room.  Relaxed staff that talks to you about the wines you’re drinking.  And a lovely picnic area out back (where we enjoyed some of Trader Joe’s finest lunching goods).

The other winery we loved (and I do mean LOVED) was Lafond Winery in the Santa Rita hills. I’m not really a fan of Pinto Noirs and well, let’s face it, this part of California is kinda known for their Pinots.  That said, they had a Pinot here I was in head over heels in love with.  As the lady pouring explained, the Santa Rita hills don’t get nearly as much rain as other wine growing areas so the grapes don’t get quite as plump.  This means that according to my uneducated palette, the wine doesn’t taste a “watered down.”

But really, we loved this place so much we wanted to take a bottle of everything to go.  We didn’t.  But only because we’re planning to join their wine club in a couple of months.  Until then, we’ll just live on memories and do what we can to track down their wares locally.

The only other thing we really did on our trip (aside from try to go to the movies – they weren’t playing anything we wanted to see), was eat out a couple of times.

In Los Olivos we hit up a couple of tasting rooms (again, nothing to write home about) and at the recommendation of some locals (and marathon participants) decided to eat dinner at the Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant. We were too late for more wine tasting at the bar (or happy hour, as they called it).  So we sat outside for dinner.  All I can say is 1) that bread and olive oil is AWESOME and 2) more people should cook with goat cheese.  Yum!

Then our last night there, we decided to try the famed Santa Maria BBQ. We did a little research and decided to follow the truckers and headed to Pappy’s to share a BBQ tri-tip plate.  Wow, I can see why the Santa Maria tri-tip is so beloved.  What makes it so special? Basically it’s tri-tip that’s covered in a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt and grilled over a fire using red oak from the California coast. Anyway you cut it, it’s good stuff.

Funny enough, I saw the other day that in the semi-prepared foods section of Costco that they sell a packaged Santa Maria tri-tip.  So I guess it’s more legendary than I even knew.

In the end, we may not have accomplished much this trip.  We never even got around to taking pictures of anything.  But it was exactly what this couple needed – especially for the workaholic husband going through some job transitioning.  I loved that for most of the trip we were in and out of cell range.  Better yet, I loved that he actually kept his work phone turned off the entire trip.  It was just the sort of laid back, low stress, relaxing sort of weekend away we needed.

The Vacation is Officially Over

It was a very laid back kind of vacation. We’d been to the Mendocino coast quite a few times before, but this was the first time we went in the winter.  The best part of the whole visit, since we’d been so many times, there wasn’t any sort obligation to do anything vacationy.  Very cool. And it made for a very relaxing time.

We needed something that was pet friendly since we drove up and brought the little guy with us.  We found a lovely cottage that not only had it’s own kitchen (nice) and allowed dogs…the Cottages at Little River Cove.

I must say, this place rocked!!  It was a compound of nine cottages (some one bedroom, some two bedroom) with a central courtyard.  It wasn’t right on the bluff, but on a clear day, we could see the waves crashing below.  With the beautiful large windows, you could see it all – well, on those days when you could actually see through the fog.

And since out cottage had a kitchen, we were able to have some meals (snacks) in and didn’t need to go out for everything.  Though I have to say, nothing beats enjoying some good wine and cheese fireside.

We also made sure to stop by our favorite restaurant in Healdsburg, Zin.  This place has never let us down.  Everything we’ve ordered has been awesome.  And of course, the wine is always good 😉

I think this was easily our best vacation ever (though last year’s trip to Ireland was quite awesome, just not quite as relaxing).

So now the vacation is officially over and it’s time to get back to work *sigh*

At least I have the memories.

Is It Possible to Vacation Without First Shopping?

Hello, my name is Kat and I’d like to make a little confession…

I can’t seem to take a vacation (no matter how short), without first having to shop and pamper myself a bit.

The worst part, I know this about myself and typically try to stop myself from doing this and wait until the last possible minute to shop (though I have avoided the pampering part).

We’re finally getting around to scheduling a little R&R at the northern California coast before the year ends and yes, you guessed it…I’ve been shopping.

I told myself I didn’t need to shop.  We went to Ireland last winter, so I have plenty of cold-weather wear, complete with waterproof shoes and a jacket. So for the most part, I’ve managed to avoid the shopping (much like I’ve avoided actually doing any Christmas shopping thus far).

Until this weekend, that is.

This weekend I picked up a lovely cashmere sweater on clearance at J.Jill and of course, I had to pay extra to speed up the shipping.  Then on Sunday, after a solid weekend of rain, I decided that I was going to make the leap and get a pair of real Uggs (I’ve been wearing my faux-uggs to pieces since the weather changed).

Little did I know that the Ugg clogs I fell in love with were last year’s style.  Basically, I spent most of the day searching every online and local store for these babies in black and in my size.


They’ll be perfect for the cold, wet weather I’m sure to encounter in Mendocino.  Plus, they’re not quite so casual and ugg-obvious as the typical Ugg boat so I’d be able to wear them with jeans and a nice top and not feel like a slob.

Well, it took a few hours and the advice of a good friend, but I finally ordered my new shoes through Neiman’s and just had them sent directly to the hotel (even speedy shipping couldn’t get them to me on time).  Thankfully, my expedited shipping was FREE!!

That said, I don’t think I have any desire to spend large chunks of my time searching for the “perfect” must-have item any time soon.  Let alone doing so while hoping and praying it arrives in a timely manner.  That level of obsession was just a tad too freaky for my tastes.

Do you do anything particular before heading out of town –  shopping, pampering, grooming, packing weeks in advance??

My Trip to Ireland Remembered

This time last year we were heading home from our 10-day trip to Ireland.











My apologies…in my rush to get something (let alone something relevant) up on time for my NaBloPoMo post, I wound up using a tool with a pretty crappy randomizer that apparently sucks in a HUGE way.  I’ll fix it tomorrow.

I just gave up and posted some pics manually.

Do You Read On Your iPhone?

Or any smart phone for that matter.

I’ve been noticing more and more people talk about downloading books on either the Kindle app or the Eucalyptus app and happily, enjoyably reading books while they’re traveling.  Or while they’re waiting in line at the doctors or post office or whatever.

When I travel, I like to bring books (and magazines).  I can’t imagine not bringing a book.  For one reason, my husband will always, without doubt (unless we can’t get a connection and that’s now nearly improbable) be on his computer doing something or other.

But…I can also see how freeing it could be to not carry a book (or magazine) when traveling.  I don’t travel enough to warrant a Kindle or other e-reader.  Plus, I actually enjoy borrowing books from both friends and the library (or even buying second hand) so I’m not sure it would be worth the expense.

So, that all being said…do you use an app to do any sort of reading on your iPhone/Droid/Pre/Smartphone?  Do you enjoy it?  Is it worth the storage space it will undoubtedly suck up? Or would it be better to just try an audio book?

I’m very interested in seeing what you might have to say on this topic.  Very interested indeed, so please share away.

ETA:  ooooh, you can “buy” trashy Kindle novels on Amazon for free.  Might be worth it just for that 😛