I am heading on a road trip around New Zealand next month (read more about it here), so I’ll need a few extra items in my backpack. Luckily, Christmas is coming, and my parents have been asking me what I would like, so I figured I would turn it into a blog post!
Phew! The craziest 12 weeks of 2017 (granted, the only 12 weeks of 2017) are behind me, and a few weeks of working, relaxing, and exploring Austin are ahead. The calm before the storm, if you will. (fingers crossed that Andrew and I don’t encounter any storms when we are in Asia. I jinxed it, didn’t I?) The craziness has ended after a big roadtrip to Charleston, South Carolina, for a southern bohemian barn wedding!
When Devon, my friend from high school, asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, it was over the phone, and I thought I had misheard (still said, “yes,” obviously,) because we hadn’t been in touch for a while. Devon holds a very special place in my heart as a friend that I’ve known since I was 10. We don’t talk much (blame can be placed equally on both of us) but I was so relieved and ecstatic to arrive in Charleston and run into the same old Dev. Just, you know, with a diploma, a full-time job, a (now) husband, baby, and dog named Ernie. She’s the type of friend that you agree to drive 1,200 miles to even if you’re not exactly sure what they asked you to do for their wedding. (The bridesmaid thing was eventually cleared up and I emoted a second round of squeals of excitement.)
So my boyfriend and I packed up my yoga mat, some road trip snacks, and more Lush products than I will ever plan on bringing backpacking. (I decided to do my own hair.) A road trip sounded mighty fine to me after staying in the same city for three months straight.
First things first: No one will be able to top this wedding.
If you’ve been on Pinterest, imagine a more beautiful wedding than you’ve ever pinned. I write with Stefon’s voice in my head: “this wedding had everything.” Chalkboards. Flowers in mason jars. String lights everywhere. A photobooth with a Polaroid camera. They had an old-fashioned car that we took photos with. Beers in wheelbarrows. Meat that had been smoked for 14 hours. (I didn’t partake, but my mouth did water.)
God, I still can’t get over how picture-perfect this wedding was. It was in a barn next to a marsh that held an alligator (and six-eight babies, allegedly) but no babies or dogs were eaten on the big day.
(I’m writing this soon after the wedding, so the photographer’s pictures are not up yet. I’ll update this post later when they’re ready! There’s a very cute one where Devon and I recreate a picture from our junior prom, so get ready.)
What I’ve always loved about Devon is that while she is extremely smart, professional, and has her head on her shoulders, she still dances to the beat of her own drum (or strings of her own cello, which she played in high school.) I must admit, I worried that I wouldn’t know a wedding tradition that would be followed during the rehearsal dinner/ceremony, or that not doing my hair would leave me underdressed. Devon hasn’t changed, because to hell with (some) tradition.
I’ll leave it at this. Seeing a friend that I grew up with walk her own damn self down the aisle, in her grandmother’s wedding dress, wearing a flower crown in her hair was one of the most empowering and fantastic sights I’ve ever witnessed.
The ceremony was beautiful. The vows were beautiful. The bride and groom were bursting with love.
The mac n’ cheese was dope. The band was insane. The dancing was almost too much to handle.
This wedding was certainly one to beat, with a perfect mix of tradition, elegance, and downright fun. I would drive from Austin to Charleston and back again in a heartbeat for a few more Yuenglings and a swig of bourbon from one of the groomsmen.
Speaking of the drive…
I drove for over 40 hours with my boyfriend and still think he’s pretty darn cute!
When I found out I was going to be a bridesmaid, I jokingly told my mom I had six months to find a +1 that would drive me to South Carolina. When you ask, you shall receive, I guess. I wouldn’t have agreed to date someone who didn’t like road trips, sleeping in cars, and stopping for the night or two in a tent, but I luckily in December I started dating the most patient, ~chill,~ fun guy in this part of Texas. Jeremy and I left Austin on a Tuesday night to check in at an AirBNB on a Thursday morning. We left Charleston on a Sunday morning and got home Monday night. We each camped for one night each way, first in South Carolina, and then in Mississippi.
The road trip consisted of lots of Radiolab podcasts, discussions about politics, stargazing, and eventually, leftover mac n’ cheese in take-home containers. On the way home, I randomly suggested stopping in Dallas for tacos before the last leg of the trip, and without any thought, Jeremy agreed. I don’t have much experience in relationships (despite, having been in, erm, some, I would like to think I have absolutely no experience in relationships) but I know that someone who doesn’t mind sitting with you in a coffee shop for a few hours while you send in some work (I have the pleasure of working remotely) or driving a bit out of the way to get tacos is a catch.
I don’t know why I attempted to joke that the road trip would be in anyway a test of our relationship, because it was a great experience, there and back. (Ok, I got mad when he turned a little bit and sent the dirt of our succulents flying throughout the passenger seat, but we survived, didn’t we?)
It’s nice to reminisce. I promise.
This post is getting to be way longer than I expected, even though it can’t fully encompass the fun I had during the road trip. I’ll leave you with this.
I may just have a bad memory, but I tend to block out my high school years. I feel like a completely different person sang at Carnegie Hall, drove a Subaru Outback, or played the oboe. I talk to my friends from high school occasionally, if not rarely. I feel detached, as I often allow myself to be. Revisiting such a close friendship was not only fun and silly, but reminded me of how lucky I am to have gone to the high school I went to, with the upbringing I had. I was given amazing opportunities by growing up in Doylestown. I left happy memories, and beautiful people, back in the town where I grew up. My friendship with Devon is one of many that shaped me to be who I am. I can only begin to acknowledge the privilege I hold from going to a fantastic school and being surrounded by wonderful people at an early age.
Don’t be afraid to find the people you’ve lost touch with; you may be surprised to find that despite the years and milestones that have come between your friendships, you can pick right back up.
I have more posts coming up, including my first online yoga flow! I thank you for reading, and hope to see you here in the future! Namaste.
Less than six weeks! And I still have no return ticket, but I’m looking at a three-month stay in Europe.
This week, however, I got a lot done. I graduated from Temple University, and I moved out of my apartment.
Everything I know is in boxes, in my parents’ garage or the basement-alcove-room of my parents’ house. It only makes sense to get started on packing, both backpacking-through-Europe packing and moving-down-to-Austin packing. Since Austin is so far away and the things I’m bringing to Europe are things I’ll be using in the next six weeks, the most I could think to do is create a quick, rough packing list. I’m only bringing a backpack, a fanny pack, and a drawstring bag, and I’ll need room for souvenirs. (Mainly Lush souvenirs from the Oxford Street store. Oh.My.Gosh.)
Check out my list and let me know if I’m missing anything, or can do without anything!! Also, let me know if you’d like to see a post of the Lush items I’m bringing to Europe (ok, ok…I’ll probably post one regardless.)
No summer is complete without a trip to a music festival; this absolutely rings true for a summer overseas. Europe is home to some of the biggest music festivals out there (Glastonbury, Tomorrowland), and I want to attend all of them, but this blog is called Beat, Broke, and Backpacking for a reason. Attending any one of these festivals will be amazing…it’s just a matter of which one(s) I choose.
Sziget – August 10-17 – Budapest, Hungary
Maybe I’m late to hop on the Robbie Williams train (or am I, Americans?) After seeing his name on the top of many Europeans lineups this summer, I became a combination of confused and curious. I found his performance at Knebworth on YouTube, and within three minutes of watching, I feverishly went back to Google to find out which festivals I could catch him at. Sziget is one of these festivals, on the Island of Freedom (you sold me there), and Robbie Williams shares the bill with Florence + the Machine, Tyler the Creator, and Gramatik. Check, check, check and check off my bucket list.
Longitude – July 17-19 – Dublin, Ireland
If I could travel back in time to last spring, I would reassure myself that yes, I would have the chance to see this skinny man-bunned Irish Hozier guy I saw on YouTube in concert. He’s everywhere, for good and obvious reasons. Included in ‘everywhere’ is Longitude Festival in Marlay Park, which isn’t too far from the center of Dublin. (This makes the idea of finding accommodations a lot less stressful.) James Blake was added to this lineup recently, and there are more artists to be announced. At this rate, the lineup will cover most of my Spotify listening history, so it’s definitely on my radar.
NOS Alive – July 9-11 – Lisbon, Portugal
It’s very hard to turn down an opportunity to see Muse, Stromae, or James Blake, especially now, as James Blake’s album may be released very soon. I’ve already talked to a few people in Lisbon who say that a ton of Couchsurfers head to this festival every year (the festival used to be Optimus Alive) in a big group, and there are also groups of festivalgoers who travel to the beach throughout the week for surfing lessons. Surfing and music in one day sounds pretty solid to me.
T in the Park – July 10-12 – Pertshire, Scotland
I’ve watched many T in the Park sets from my bedroom via YouTube (thank you Arctic Monkeys), so this was one of the first festivals I researched when I started planning this trip. It’s moving this year to Strathallan Castle, and if a trip involves a castle, I’m most likely down (yes, I know, I’ll see a few in Europe). This year’s lineup is solid, with at least one London artist on my bucket list for each day of the festival.
North Sea Jazz Festival – July 10-12 – Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands
I feel the need to satisfy Grade School Megan and check seeing Lady Gaga (with Tony Bennett, no less) and Paolo Nutini off my list. I’m also all for expanding my horizons and listening to more jazz. Maybe I’ll go to the Manchester Jazz Festival too. Let’s make it a summer of jazz festivals, shall we?
Somersault Festival – July 23-27 – Castle Hill, North Devon
The music lineup for Somersault is great (Bombay Bicycle Club, Angus & Julia Stone, and up-and-coming adorable South African folk artist Jeremy Loops get me pretty hype) but I’m just as intrigued by all the other cool things to do: yoga and circus workshops, feasts, and falconry? Falconry sounds fun. I can feel the good vibes coming from this festival five months in advance.
Open’er Festival – July 1-4 – Gdansk, Poland
I had no interest in checking out Poland, mainly because the only thing I know about Poland is the excellence of pierogies, but then I saw that D’Angelo, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, and Chet Faker would all be at the Open’er Festival. Then I saw how beautiful the nearby city of Gdansk looks. Then I remembered that pierogies are REALLY good, and that I might as well add a city I know nothing about to my list.
I discovered Open’er this week, and I’m sure I’m missing out on a ton of festivals that will be going on during my trip. Feel free to share your knowledge, your opinions, and anything else in the comments below!
“You’re going to what?”
I envision my trip to include bouncing around from couch to couch to hostel to hostel, but when I need to breathe, I’m hoping I can WWOOF. I spent a few weeks last summer “WWOOFing” in Pennsylavia, New Mexico and Texas (which you’ll read more about in later posts) and I’m itching to make WWOOF a part of my Europe adventure. There are tons of countries to choose from, so before I ask advice on where to WWOOF, I’ll answer the question….
What is WWOOF?
WWOOF’s website sums it up pretty nicely: “WWOOF is an exchange – In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.”
You buy a subscription for a year in the country/countries you want to WWOOF in. You make a profile, and you are then able to access the country’s list of hosts. The hosts will tell you where they live, what kind of help they need, your accommodations, and any other preferences they have. You email the farms you would like to WWOOF at, and if/when they respond you can set up dates to farm, etc. Last year I had the pleasure of WWOOFing at Pennypack Farm and Education Center in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Sunflower River and Purple Sage Ranch in New Mexico, and Cassiopeia Farm in Austin, Texas. I wouldn’t trade that summer for anything.
1. The Work
Most WWOOF farms ask for 20-30 hours a week; in many cases, I worked from 6-12 every day before it got too hot and had the rest of the afternoon/evening to explore the surrounding area/city. Jobs vary, but mine included tending to gardens, preserving food (and learning how to make an amazing strawberry jam), building a chicken coop, a gate, and digging a swale. I got to use my hands, get down in the dirt, and learn new skills. Most communications jobs don’t need someone who can handle an excavator, but if they do, I got the job.
2. The People
The list of people I met through WWOOFing is too long to list: hosts, fellow WWOOFers, friends of the farm…but they all deserve a shoutout. WWOOFing is a team effort, and while I saw many similarities in how WWOOFers saw the world and their place in caring for it, I also learned a lot. My hosts were more than willing to tell you about cool places around town, introduce you to friends, and tell you their stories. Fellow WWOOFers and I went on hikes and went to concerts. I know I can reach out to many of these people in the future and I now have new friends in the Southwest.
3. The Expense
Free housing? Free food (some of which you grow yourself)? What more do I need to say?
4. The Earth
I slept in a tent in the middle of a lightning storm, spent weeks with soil under my fingernails, and hiked around the ruins from the Anasazi and Navajo tribes. WWOOFing is all about learning, and through WWOOF you learn a lot about caring for the Earth, and more important, how important taking on this responsibility is. I’ve never met anyone so excited about tomatoes, or anyone so compassionate for their chickens. Every day on the farm, every seedling sprouting into a vegetable, is a miracle. It was nice to be given that reminder.
5. The Choices
You can WWOOF in most countries, not only around Europe but also around the world. There are over 1800 in the United States alone. You can WWOOF at some farms for a few nights to a few months. You can bring your pets to some farms if you want, you can bring your kids to some farms if you want (my dad’s planning to WWOOF next fall…I might just have to come with). You can choose to farm a bus ride away from the city, or secluded in the country. So. Many. Options.
I have a subscription to WWOOF Ireland right now, and I’m debating WWOOFing in Greece, France, or Hungary. Give me your picks in the comments, and if you’re interested in WWOOF at all, feel free to ask me questions!