I moved to Denver three months ago with my boyfriend, drove across the country, had no jobs lined up — so it’s been a ride, to say the least. My job is less than desirable and Scott works for a sign shop like he did back in Virginia, so he doesn’t mind it. I have to wake up at 5 a.m., five days a week. I can at least walk there which is the coolest part about it. We’ve been struggling a little bit for money, but not too bad. I guess that’s the story of moving anywhere when you’re in your twenties. If I said it was easy, I would be lying. I thought I would land some amazing writing or advertising job. I feel like I’m not talkative enough, I don’t have nice clothes, cool hair, or a lot of tattoos. But I/we have done a lot of cool stuff already — I am only hoping it just keeps getting easier and more exciting.

We live in a really prime location, right by City Park. We’re also a few blocks from Capitol Hill, Colfax, RiNo, and Downtown: can’t get much better than that. The rest of the city is great, too.

Capitol Hill

We’ve spent a lot of time in Capitol Hill, specifically 17th Street. Many great restaurants and cafes in an eight-block or so stretch. Some of the places I really like are Watercourse Foods which is a completely Vegetarian restaurant that makes veggies taste wonderful. Scott got a Tofu bacon breakfast sandwich and surprisingly loved it.

Weathervane Café is straight out of the ’70s and I frickin’ love it. It has an all-wood interior and vintage decorations with a soundtrack that includes the Beach Boys and the Byrds. There’s a cozy upstairs area to hang out sip your coffee and feel like you’re at home. And Marzyck Fine Foods is a perfect market with all your fave ‘fine foods’. For me, that includes Kettle Chips, dark chocolate, cured salmon and their amazing quinoa black bean salad.


Colfax is the longest street in America and the main thoroughfare through Denver from East to West. Parts of it are kind of grimy, but parts of it are also really nice. Even the grimy parts really aren’t that bad compared to most cities and it’s still enjoyable to hang out in those areas. It seems to feel more cleaned up by the day.


Voodoo Doughnuts, the most popular donut shop in Denver is settled on Colfax and Humboldt and is also next door to a skate shop, 303 Boards that Scott loves.

A few blocks from there is a great music venue, The Fillmore, where we saw the Descendents, one of the most iconic and best punk bands ever. The place has like 15 bars…I’ve never seen so many bars in a music venue, let alone anywhere before. On one of the walls, there are photos of artists that have played there in the past like David Bowie, No Doubt, and lots of big names. I also got the setlist from the show, pictured on the right, because the sound guy liked my NOFX shirt 🙂

South Broadway

One of the coolest areas in the city is South Broadway which is known as ‘the Green Mile,’ because it has so many dispensaries — but it’s so much more than that. There are tons of thrift stores and antique shops. My favorite thrift store is The Arc. On Saturdays, everything is 50% off, which means you can get nice Banana Republics jeans for like $4… Ummm, yes!

Then there’s Antique Row. I forget the specific names of the shops we went into, but they’re all right next to each other, so it’s worth exploring all of them. One of the shops had actual old bars from out of state. The oldest one was from South Dakota circa the 1860s and it sold for $190,000. Another place had tons of old relics and 60’s era furniture.

When you get closer to Denver’s downtown on Broadway, it becomes hipper with cafes and vintage stores like Boss Vintage and Rosehouse Botanicals. One of the coolest places is the Mutiny Information Café which is a used bookstore/café that hosts shows a few times a month and also has arcade machines, records and comics.

Right around the corner from the Mutiny, is Nooch Vegan Market which has all of your Vegan food and snack needs. Even if you aren’t vegan, it’s still worth checking out for their selection of food and clean home goods and make-up. My favorite store is Decade which has super cute homeware, gifts, and even baby clothes, for example — a David Bowie onesie.


Probably my favorite area in the city, so far, is RiNo. It’s a mecca of art and coolness —there’s street art on every wall. They recently had an annual event called Crush Walls where artists from all over the world come and make their mark. It also holds a huge annual bike festival called Velorama which has big musical performers and a vintage market.

The area is a haven for new tech start-ups and independent businesses. There’s a big marketplace called Denver Central Market which has a coffee shop, ice cream, a butcher, a bar, artisan chocolate and cheeses and more. It’s big and open with lots of seating and big windows so lots of light comes in. There’s seating out front too for the warmer weather.

There are a million breweries and bars, too. Since I’m not much of a beer drinker anymore, I went to an urban winery called Infinite Monkey Theorem. They’ve got wine on tap, a huge patio outside, and they even do yoga on the patio during the summer. Another fun spot is Finn’s Manor which is a bar that has a few food trucks parked in their courtyard to get food from. It has a nice reggae vibe, too.

And for coffee, of course, Crema Coffeehouse — it’s extremely hip with great coffee drinks and food. It’s always packed, but it’s still a comfortable place to sit for a while.



Downtown is home to all the skyscrapers obviously, and the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field who made it to the playoffs for the first time in eight years (but, they lost). It’s hard to find parking so if I go down there, I walk or bike.

A must-go if you are downtown is Union Station, the train station which has a variety of restaurants and cafes inside. There’s a farmer’s market from June to the end of October with lots of local farmers and specialty food makers.

We had lunch at Mercantile Dining & Provision inside Union Station — a very pretty, fancy-looking spot. I got a Tuna Niçoise salad and a cappuccino. It’s a little pricey, but it’s a nice spot.


A cool area to walk around is Larimer Square, a nice strip of beautiful brick buildings with upscale stores and restaurants. Also, the 16th Street Mall is a touristy walkway that guides you through downtown.


I haven’t seen much of this area, but what I have seen I like. I recently went to a friend’s show at Zio’s Alley Bar, which is sort of a Grateful Dead, jam band bar. It’s very chill. There’s a pizza place connected to it, which is really convenient. It was at night time so we couldn’t see much, but it had a neighborhood feel with cute lit-up restaurants and tiny independent shops.


Last weekend, I went to LoHi which is the Low Highlands. The super awesome coffee shop, Black Eye which has a great vibe, very bright with lots of art, and a garage window that opens up to the street. It’s on a neighborhood street with a few bars nearby, right near the Navajo Art District — just a small street with a few art galleries. The area has slightly steep hills with good views of the city.


The hills remind me of San Francisco which I love. Lots of new modern houses mixed in with some old ones, making for a cool vibe.



I’m very fortunate to live a few blocks from City Park which is a huge beautiful park with lots of trees, and green, green grass. There are tons of geese that hang out by the lake, a tennis court, and a pavilion for events. People go there and run, and have picnics. I love jogging through here and stopping to lie in the grass. It also includes the City Park Golf Course and the Denver Zoo.

Another awesome park is Cheesman Park which is smaller than City Park, but it’s gorgeous. It’s a huge open green space. Young people go and drink and play kickball, stuff like that. If you sit at the top of the park, there’s a Roman column space with fountains and a perfect view of the mountains. Apparently a long time ago, it used to be a cemetery and the bodies were dug up for some reason, it was on Mysteries at the Museum, so supposedly it’s haunted? But it’s really not creepy it’s a beautiful place to hang out.




Scott (my boyfriend) and I, have been living in Richmond, Virginia most of our lives, so we decided to make a change. Two years back when we were on a cross-country tour with his band, we kept a log as to which cities we could see ourselves living in. For me, San Francisco and New York, are the best, but they’re very expensive.

A few months ago, we even went to Toronto, Canada, to try and find jobs and live there. We like it there a lot, but it was too long of a process to be able to move to Canada, so we decided on Denver, Colorado.

The first time I went to Colorado, I was seven years old with my family. We went fly fishing, stayed in a cabin, ski-lifted to the top of a mountain, and saw Parent Trap when it came out in theaters. It was a family reunion, with all of my mom’s side of the family. My Grandma grew up here, and my Grandpa went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. My Mom and her siblings also lived here for a few years when they were kids. Then we went again in 2013 for another family reunion and we hiked, biked, sailed and rock climbed.

Scott’s first time to Colorado was when we were on his band’s big cross country tour. I hadn’t actually been in the city of Denver until then. We liked how pretty it was, (lots of dispensaries, not that I care, but it’s cool), good food, cool music scene and close to the mountains.

Our lease in Richmond ended on July 1st, and we decided to leave Friday morning, June 30th, to try to get to Denver to meet our landlord at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

So on Thursday the 29th, we got up early, got the Penske truck, filled it up all day, then went to Lakeside Tavern to say bye to friends and family. The place had cheesy karaoke, cheap drinks and Korean food. I cried a few times saying bye to my family.


We got to our place for our last night in Richmond around midnight. We were sleeping on a futon in the living room because our bed was packed up. It was pretty uncomfortable and we couldn’t sleep (it could have been a little anxiousness, about moving, too).  We got up at 3:30 a.m., having roughly had three hours of sleep. We vacuumed the house, got the remaining stuff out, and headed out on the road.

Scott was driving the Penske with his car being towed behind it. I was following behind in my Honda. We planned on making it to St. Louis to sleep for the night.

In the two photos above, we’re around the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville area. It was very early and very beautiful.

West Virginia

Our first stop was three hours out in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, pictured above. There’s Scott’s Penske to the right. My calf was already hurting because I had my foot on the gas pedal the whole time. Scott convinced me to use cruise control which I had always been sketched out to use, but it turned out to make the rest of the ride much easier. Next stop, Charleston, WV about two hours away for lunch.


I found a little cafe to navigate to, and we found some metered parking nearby. Scott spotted this little symbol of West Virginia parked right by us: the classic sticker of the boy peeing on a word, in this case: OBAMA. Wouldn’t expect any less in West Virginia.

We walked a block away to the cafe. I got a veggie burger, and he got a grilled cheese that came with pesto on it. It was pretty good. A tiny little place with people coming in on their lunch break. It doesn’t seem like a horrible town from what I saw, but it is in the middle of nowhere, and probably not too much to do.


The next state west was/is Kentucky, which I love. We had been three times before and stayed in Lexington where our band friends, Ink & Lead live. It’s a very pretty, cute southern city — same goes for Louisville.

We stopped outside of Lexington for gas and found this wall of Ale 8 (pictured on the right in yellow boxes) which is a Kentucky soda which I have never seen anywhere else, but the guys in the band always have it at their houses.

I was definitely tired after lunch in West Virginia, but I felt better once we were rolling through the beautiful horse farms in Kentucky. The light blue sky and patches of cloud over the rolling green were so gorgeous.


Surprisingly, Kentucky has lots of caves and high rigid, rocky hillsides like the one above. This is not too far outside of Louisville where we were headed to stop for dinner. We had been once for a show at Mag Bar, while we were on Scott’s band, Insubordination’s tour in 2015. We didn’t see much, just the street where the bar was. So this time I navigated us to a cute cafe in uptown I think it was, to see a little more of the city.

As soon as we pulled into town, I saw tattooed, backpack-clad hipsters biking by. North End Cafe was situated on a somewhat neighborhood street. Parking was easy, too. The photo on the left is the front of the building. It was really hot, so we sat inside. The menu wasn’t too expensive, but we were still on a budget, so we split some cheap stuff.

We got the Fried Goat Cheese Ravioli appetizer and a side salad. The side salad was more like a full-size salad with lots of assorted fresh greens sprinkled with some nice parmesan cheese and delicious balsamic dressing. The ravioli was served with marinara sauce. It was the perfect amount of food to get us through the rest of our drive.

The decor in there was nice, too. Brick walls, wooden tables, mod artwork on the walls, and chill alternative music. They even played my favorite band, XTC’s song ‘Peter Pumpkinhead.’

The neighborhood streets were so cute. There were really cute old, southern houses with flower bushes out front. It’s a lot like Lexington, Kentucky from what I saw. To the right is another bar/restaurant, Alberta Stoll, which used to be a Fire Station. I saw a bunch of these cafe/bars with open-air windows that open up to the street, which I love.



Louisville is right on the border of Indiana, so as soon we crossed the Ohio River, we were in Indiana. It was very pretty with lush green farmland and a beautiful sky. All I could think about was Mike Pence and Stranger Things, lol.


About 20 to 30 minutes into the drive, the sky got very grey, and the clouds looked scarier and scarier as we approached them. If you’ve seen Stranger Things, it sort of looked like the Demogorgon from Dungeons and Dragons that comes to life in the show.

Then it started pouring down so hard, like definitely the worst rainstorm I’ve ever driven in. It was sort of terrifying to be on the highway, I couldn’t see anything at all. Because Indiana is so flat, apparently the rain just rolls through super thick and has nowhere to go, it just comes down. I had my blinkers on and was going 25 or 30mph. It lasted for about 10 minutes.


And, then the sun came back out like it never happened! We drove through Indiana for two hours until we hit Illinois. We pretty much stopped in the first town in the state to get gas. The bathroom in the gas station (pictured above on the right) had a sign that said “Sprinkles are For Cupcakes, not Toilets,” which is true, but kind of gross at the same time — it probably helps though.

After leaving the rest stop, I was so tired from driving a million hours. We reserved a room at the Motel 6 in Mount Vernon, Illinois about an hour away.


We made it in one piece, but we were beat. Luckily, the motel was within walking distance of a bunch of places. We walked to the Kroger which was right next to us. We got some microwaveable dinners and a lil’ dessert. I got a vegan, gluten-free Amy’s lasagna thing that wasn’t bad and a Larabar. Scott got a little Digornio pizza and a cookie.

Here’s Scotty walking through the parking lot back to the motel with a cool looking sunset and a vacant billboard.

We ate, showered, and crashed around 9 p.m., so we could wake up at five and get on the road.

I woke up and was dead tired. I drove to the Kroger to try and get gas because the night before I hit 100 points on my Kroger card which would normally get me 10 cents off per gallon, but it wouldn’t work because it was July 1st, and they only work through the month… Oh well. Went to the gas station across the street, got back and packed our stuff, then headed out.


I ate a banana and took a B12 which held me over for a while. Illinois was cool looking, just flat farmland like Indiana. We drove a little over an hour and ran into St. Louis, Missouri, which is right on the border of Illinois. We had been there before on that big tour I talked about before, but it was definitely cool seeing the St. Louis Arch aka ‘the Gateway to the West,’ which I didn’t really get a picture of because I didn’t want to swerve off the bridge.


Here are some St. Louis buildings, pictured above. The architecture there is beautiful with an old elegance to them. There are many abandoned buildings, too. It’s kind of like Detroit: half beauty, half abandon. When Scott’s band played there, the area we were in was really nice and fancy, but a few blocks away were poverty and ghetto.

We stopped for a few at a rest stop past St. Louis before driving all the way across Missouri to have lunch outside of Kansas City in Lawrence, Kansas.

Here are some scenes of God’s country, aka ‘the middle of Missouri.’ It pretty much looked like this all the way to Kansas City. We stopped at a rest stop that was in the middle of a field which was pretty. These ladies from a church nearby had a stand with pamphlets about God, and ‘FREE COFFEE.’ We went over and talked to them a bit. We just talked to them about our trip, that we were moving to Colorado — just travel, ‘Merica talk, and got some free coffee. It was cool because they didn’t throw their church lingo in our faces, they just said we could take some pamphlets if we wanted.


Finally, after the nothingness that is most of Missouri, we hit Kansas City, which is on the border of Kansas. It’s funny that St. Louis is all the way on the east side of the state on the border of Illinois, and then Kansas City is all the way on the west side. We had been to Kansas City before on the tour, and it was super cool. It has lots of cool neighborhoods, pretty scenery, and good food.

During the whole trip, I had been driving behind Scott (you can see the yellow Penske with his car towing behind, above), so we wouldn’t lose each other. But when we went through Kansas City, I ended up taking a wrong turn. We were planning on having lunch in Lawrence, Kansas which is 45 mins west, so I just navigated and met him there.



It was really cool driving through Kansas City again, and then hanging out in Lawrence for a bit, because we had been there two years before (on the big tour I’ve mentioned), and we really liked it. It’s home to the University of Kansas, so there’s a really cool downtown area with lots of shopping and restaurants.

Above is one of the street corners off the main drag of Massachusetts Street. It was a Saturday, so there were tons of people out and about, having brunch and such. Scott had a hard time finding parking because he had the big moving truck and his car behind. It was really hot, and we were tired, so we just got a quick lunch.

When we were there last time, I went to a place called Taco Zone, which was right next to where Scott’s band played at 8th Street Taproom. It was super good, so I figured we should just go there. I got a burrito but without the tortilla. The owner said they don’t usually do burrito bowls, I guess no one had ever really requested it before. It had Green Chile Chicken, pinto beans, Pico de Gallo, and guacamole. It also comes with a side of pickled carrots, onions, and Jalapenos, which was super good. When the owner brought it over to me, he said I inspired him to possibly put the bowl on the menu, so that’s cool. Scott loved his tacos, too.

By the way, the cost of living in Lawrence is super low, if you’re looking to move to an affordable city.

Once we left Lawrence, we knew we were going to be driving through nothing for hours. We did drive through Topeka, the capital of Kansas, which doesn’t have much to see. It was gorgeous though. It’s so flat, you can see for miles and miles. There were little patches of cattle everywhere by the roadside, some bathing in ponds. It was kind of dreamy. It’s super cool to drive through, but living around there, eh, not so much. We did see a few Jesus and ‘Abortion is Murder’ signs.

All of a sudden, while gliding down this sunny Kansas highway, it sounded and felt like my tire had popped…oh f***. I called Scott and we pulled over at the next exit. I drove super slow and parked behind him. He checked it out for me. It wasn’t my tire, it was part of the casing that goes over the undercarriage that was dragging on the ground. Yeah that kind of sucked, but it would have been much worse if it had been my tire!

There’s me to the right, pretending I’m going to run away through the Kansas prairie.


After that fiasco, we stopped at a gas station. I went to the bathroom, and this lady complimented my Janis Joplin shirt and said: “That’s my favorite female artist,” and went on to say that she would sing “Me and Bobby McGee” to her son in the car every day because her radio didn’t work. I thought that was super cool.

As we got closer to Colorado, it felt like the sunset was chasing us down, because it’s the area where the time changes, so behind us it was setting, going further west, it wasn’t set yet. You can kind of see the variation in the clouds in the picture above. The clouds to the left are slightly darker, and lighter to the right.

For dinner, we had gas station food. This place before the Colorado border had a hot bar with fried chicken, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, etc. I got potato wedges and green beans.


We were supposed to meet our landlord at our new place when we got to Denver, but we were running pretty late. At first, he said he could meet us even if it was late, but then said he couldn’t because he had his kid. So we had to get a motel which was all good. Scott called and reserved a room at the Budget Host Longhorn Motel about 45 minutes west of Denver in Byers, Colorado.

Upon entering Colorado, we stopped at a little travel center, pictured above to the left. They had all kinds of souvenirs like these snake and bear salt and pepper holders. There were lots of Colorado memorabilia: shirts, postcards, and rocks and gems.

The sunset was pretty darn beautiful, too.


The horizon was crazy looking. We were basically watching the night swallow the sky. A sheet of grey, covering the sunlit pink and orange.

Once it got completely dark, it was a little scary. The road sort of blended in with the grass. There were no city lights around, just bright truck lights behind me. I was super tired and couldn’t wait to get to the motel.

Finally, we got to this little Colorado town. When we pulled in, we turned left instead of right to the motel. We ended up getting a little taste of the area, driving by a little neighborhood, a post office, and a liquor store. I had seen the motel sign right when we got off to the right, but Scott accidentally made the wrong turn.

So we got there, got the keys at the front desk, and the man working was this nice Asian guy that showed Scott where to park the truck and came in our room to show us our amenities. We were in a building on the backside of the area. In the front, there was a ton of dudes just hanging out outside, so I’m glad we were in the back so we didn’t have to face any kind of trouble.

Above to the left, is the bathroom area — kind of a bad picture, but it was very ’70s looking. The room was extremely clean. We watched a little CNN, then hit the sack to wake up early and get to our new place by 7 a.m.

We were both kind of struggling with breathing, adjusting to the new altitude. I woke up in the middle of the night, with my heart beating a mile a minute. I don’t think I was getting enough oxygen (could’ve been a little anxiety, too).

Above to the right, is the moving truck in the morning before heading to Denver.


Here we were at the final stretch — Sunday at 6 a.m. on July 2nd. It was a gorgeous morning, too. I was full of anticipation — still tired, but excited. Our landlord was even buying us Starbucks as a little welcome gift. I just didn’t know what to expect about our place and the neighborhood. I had only ever been to Denver for a day, two years prior, so I was still very new to it. It was all plains until we closed in on the Denver area, we then could see mountains in the distance.

Finally, we took the exit into the city. Right by our neighborhood is City Park, and lots of people were playing golf early in the morning, and the park was lined with beautiful homes and a perfect view of the Rockies. We turned into the neighborhood, and I was stoked. Once we parked on our street, it was a lovely feeling. It is so cute — we got a killer spot (we live in the basement of a nice house).

Our landlord pulled up, gave us our Starbucks drinks, and showed us the ins and outs of our place, super nice guy. He covered literally everything and told us about the neighborhood and cool things to do in the city.


Of course, we still had to unpack everything, but first, we wanted to check out the coffee shop around the corner. A few blocks from us is Whittier Cafe which we walked to. We got some breakfast burritos and sat on the patio. It was a really great feeling to finally be there and to have a nice place in a cool neighborhood. We were still exhausted, but we made it through.

Cheers to adventure!



Just across the water from Buffalo, New York, is the Canadian border. From there, it takes about two hours to get to one of the coolest cities in the world: Toronto.

This absolute gem of a cultural paradise is right above the U.S., and the average American knows absolutely nothing about it…except maybe that Drake is from there.

My boyfriend and I recently went there and stayed at an Airbnb for four nights. We had been there once for one night during one of his band’s tours and found that the people were nice, everyone was active, everyone had dogs, and there were lots of cool restaurants, cafes, and music venues. So we went again to get more of a feel for it…and to see if it’s a place we would want to live.

Basically, the art scene, music, food, architecture, and culture in Toronto are off the chain, and there’s good transportation. It gets pretty cold in the winter though, which is the biggest downfall. We went at the end of March, so the weather was moderate. The summer is lovely though — you couldn’t ask for better weather.

First of all, Airbnb is the shizz, it’s the new motel or cheap hotel. It was our first time using it, and it was so amazing. We were right in the coolest part of town: between Queen West and Ossington Avenue, and our host even left us food and all kinds of goodies (Netflix, too).

As for exploring the city, the best way to see the city is to walk, and walk, and walk. But also to check out local websites that list the best neighborhoods and that map everything out. For Toronto, the best site for that is BlogTO, I can’t stress that enough.

We didn’t get to see every neighborhood, but here’s a good taste of this wondrous city:



The two blocks of Ossington Avenue between Dundas and Queen is probably the best strip in the city. You could spend all night just bar hopping on that one block. It’s jam-packed with restaurants, cafes, and cute shops. The street is narrow, so there isn’t a lot of traffic going down it, which makes it chill and safe, and it’s surrounded by quaint residential streets. It was the first street we explored when we got there on a Saturday night.

After dinner and drinks, we were still hungry, and Bobbie Sue’s was just what we needed — it’s a late-night heated shack that serves up delicious mac and cheese. Situated on a residential street right off of Ossington and open until midnight, they’ve got pulled pork mac & cheese, carbonara mac, curry, and even vegan and gluten-free options. We went with the classic five-cheese mac.

We visited the Canna Clinic, nestled right by a bar and a clothing store. Scott showed his I.D, said he had back pain, and got two joints and a THC pill — easy as pie.


In the morning, we stumbled out of our downstairs lagoon of an Airbnb of which the host lived upstairs, walked through the back courtyard and through the narrow alley, and walked a couple hundred feet away to Ossington. We went inside a killer interior accessory store called VdeV.

I literally wanted everything in there: Little terrariums, cool light up signs you can change the lettering on (our host had one that said welcome with our names on it), cool lamps and pillows — it is a delight for the senses.

Next: coffee.


Right across the street is Crafted by Te Aro.

It’s a tiny place but has a good amount of seating in the front and back. They have all types of coffee drinks. I got my new fav drink, a cappuccino with almond milk, and a vegan chocolate banana muffin. Sitting by the window looking out at the street was lovely. It was Sunday morning so lots of people were in there talking about their careers or what they did last night. Scott and I used the wi-fi to map out our route of exploration for the day because our phones couldn’t get service without it since we were out of the country.


Crywolf Clothing has the most enticing, colorful storefront, that you can’t not go in. They have quirky clothes and accessories like skull keychains and nice little notebooks with cute aliens on them. If you need an item with an adorable animated creature on it, this is your place.


Other spots we tried on Ossington: Hawker Bar and Bang Bang Ice Cream. The bar serves Singaporean food, but we just had a drink. It was a quaint, cool place with red walls and tree stump bar chairs. The sign out front, pictured above, is what initially hooked me though: ‘PROVE THAT YOU LOVE ME AND BUY THE NEXT ROUND.’ Truer words have never been spoken.

Bang Bang is known for its amazing ice cream sandwiches. You go in and pick out the type of cookie you want, and the ice cream flavor, and make your own killer combination. Mine was a Ginger Cookie with Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream. Other interesting flavors are Olive Oil and Campfire Marshmallow.



My idol, Anthony Bourdain did an episode of ‘The Layover’ in Toronto and referred to Queen West many times during the show. This was another street super close to our place. We headed west from our place on Brookfield in search of the perfect dive bar.

We passed lots of wall murals, several art galleries and clothing stores, but it was past 7 p.m., so they were closed. Though I gawked at the window displays — Toronto knows a thing or two about how to please the eye.


I know what you’re thinking, it’s the Rapper Drake’s Hotel, but it’s not. The Drake Hotel opened in 2004, whereas Drake didn’t become famous until 2007. But, it is a very reputable establishment. It has an awesome bar and restaurant, and is known as ‘the place to see and be seen in Toronto.’ Across the street from it is the Drake General Store which has clothing, homeware, and other goodies.

We walked under an underpass, and it suddenly got seedier — I then knew we would find an interesting bar.


After walking by unassuming take-out joints of various cuisine that are probably way better tasting than their façade looks, we landed next to a duo of dive bars. There was Pretty Ugly Bar and Motel Bar right next to each other — which were we going to choose? Pretty Ugly is a little fancier with signature cocktails, and we’re not too fancy, so we chose Motel. It was very dark in there with records on the wall, and…drumroll…Pacman machine. Nothin’ like a little Bourbon, Pacman, and some Bob Dylan playing in a dark dive bar. I would love to try Pretty Ugly next time we’re in town though.



We spent a lot of time on Dundas West. It’s one of those streets in a city that makes you go, ‘Wow, this place is something else.’ The road is wide and gives you a full view of the city. Corner bars and floral shops give way to hidden tree-friendly streets full of early 20th-century brick Art Deco homes that have a style you won’t see in any other city.

Walking up Ossington from Queen, you’ll run into Dundas West, which is also named the Little Portugal neighborhood for its large number of Portuguese residents. There are still many Portuguese owned businesses, as well as Brazilian. It’s turned into one of the coolest areas with unique bars, restaurants, and vintage shops.

After our Motel Bar, Pacman fun in Queen West, we walked through old neighborhoods. The only glow on the streets came from the light in the living rooms lighting up the colorful stained glass above their windows. We passed an old rec center, and one or two couples making their way into the unknown of the night as we were. Dundas was our dinner destination.

We walked a few blocks on Dundas, observing every bar and restaurant, just checking the ambiance in each place. There were so many to choose from. Yet at the same time, the traffic was barely existent, though the nightlife was alive.


We finally chose Imanishi Japanese Kitchen, a really beautiful, bright space with lots of young people like us drinking beer, eating rice and miso soup. It was a small menu, with the special that night being Scallop Nigiri. We had Plum Wine to drink which was very sweet, could barely taste the alcohol. For dinner, Scott got the Dote Miso which is miso braised pork belly with a boiled egg. I got the Japanese vegetable curry rice. Scott’s dish was really good. I later ordered a bourbon and ginger, which was the best I’ve ever had, really. They used Bulleit Rye and some good ginger ale.


The next night, we did dinner on Dundas again because it just seemed like the right thing to do. A place called Rhum Corner caught my eye. Scott loves Rum so I figured we should check it out. It was a Cuban restaurant with a small but appetizing menu. I kind of like it when the menu is small so you don’t have to think too much. We just split two appetizers, Macaroni Au Gratin and Bananes Frites which were fried plantain balls that came with a good sauce and some vinegary coleslaw. Oh yeah — and rum.



The first time we came to Toronto, Kensington Market was the area that got us ‘saying Toronto is sick.’ We were walking down College Street to find something to eat when we ran into this little enclave to the right on Augusta Avenue. It’s about two to three blocks of super hip shops, cafes, vegan bakeries, bars, all kinds of stuff.


It’s a haven for all of the college students to be lively, have fun and be artsy. The University of Toronto is right around the corner, pictured above.


In the summer, the patio game is super strong in the city, especially Kensington Market. Café Pamenar has coffee and a full bar, whatever you’re in the mood for, and a beautiful courtyard. The doors open up from the inside to the courtyard which has vines going up the walls, making for a lovely space. We had some lattes and split a brownie inside on the edge of the courtyard.

Walking down the street, it’s a visual feast of colors and street art, all kinds of cool people, and organized wackiness. It was the spot I knew I had to come back to the next time I was in Toronto.

The first night we were there on our recent trip, we walked about two and a half miles, and I was in heels. We ended up near Kensington Market, so it was really exciting to be there again.

It was a Saturday night, so things were happening. We heard good music coming from a place called Super Market, looked at the menu on the outside of the window, and decided to go for it. There was a band playing in a closed-off back room, we sat in the restaurant/bar area. The seating was sort of lounge-y yet nice, high top bar tables, low lighting, a big bar, and the kitchen right in sight next to the bar.

There were young college girls having drinks, and couples on double dates, it was the place to be. I got fish tacos, and Scott got Poutine. Whether you want dinner, drinks, or see a good band play — this is your place.


Like Little Portugal, Little Italy doesn’t resemble Italy but rather has a big Italian population with many Italian owned businesses. It’s situated mainly on College Street West.


During our first trip, his band played at Sneaky Dee’s — a tex-mex restaurant/venue. It’s known as the ‘quintessential punk dive bar.’ After all, his band made close to $400 for a small show (they treat their bands well). The upstairs is the stage, and the downstairs is a full-scale restaurant with a little outdoor seating on the sidewalk. It has hosted popular Canadian natives like Arcade Fire and Feist. Punk + nachos + tequila = amazing.


During this trip, we had lunch right across the street from Sneaky’s at Nirvana. The décor is very bohemian with mandala paintings, gold and maroon walls, oriental lamps, and Buddhist faces on the wall. There’s a full brunch menu served until 4 p.m. There are tons of healthy and creative options, American/Canadian/ & Asian. Scott got a breakfast quesadilla, and I got the scrambled eggs and potato hash.

Then we just made up our way back to our area walking down College, checking out shops along the way.

Loon Records is a tiny vinyl store specializing in older stuff like Otis Redding and Bowie. The décor makes the place, with a big mirror in the back and rainbow lights around it. It makes you feel like you’re at home.


Soundscapes is a tad bit bigger…okay, three times bigger. There’s a bigger selection, with a lot of new Indie bands, and even listening stations. By the door, there’s a list of shows in the city for the next two months, mostly of well-known bands. They’ve also got a good selection of music DVDs and books.

Sellers & Newell is a fairly small used-bookstore, full of cheap and enthralling books. It makes you feel like you’re in an old movie when someone goes in a bookstore and is in awe with the old and fascinating novels.

Gift shops are always the best place to find last-minute gifts, and the perfect birthday card — Red Pegasus is one of those perfect gift shops. Chock full of fancy water bottles, donut pillows, funky jewelry, books, artsy glassware, and thank you cards like ‘Happy Birthday – You’re A Doll,’ with a drawing of Dolly Parton on it.


Going further, it turns more into a residential area with markets, grocery stores, and lovely neighborhood streets.


Our first morning in Toronto, we made the trek to the CN Tower. It wasn’t too far, but it was pretty windy, therefore very cold. At first, we walked down to the water — Lake Ontario. It didn’t start raining until we got down there, of course. After that, it got super cold. We walked a few minutes to the CN Tower, on the way, stopping for gloves at a convenient store to shield from the wind.

We came upon this shrouding building with clouds engulfing the top of it. We went to the ticket booth to check prices, and the lady said there was no visibility at the top, so we didn’t do it. Honestly, I was relieved because I’m super afraid of heights. I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building, and that was not enjoyable, the CN is over 100 meters taller. It is really a beautiful sight, and Toronto wouldn’t be the same without it.


The next day was sunnier, so here’s a cool picture of it in the distance. You can see the tower at any point in the city, so you can never forget that you’re in Toronto.


The next biggest destination downtown is St. Lawrence Market — this huge marketplace opened in 1803 as a public market, selling goods and meats from farmers and purveyors in and around the area. Today, it is named one of the best food markets in the world. You walk in, and there are a plethora of sausages, further its 100 different types of fish and cheeses, it’s a maze of foodie goodness. There are two floors. The lower level has several food stands, gourmet chocolate and dried fruits, bread and pastries — it’s an epic place. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday.


Queen Street East runs through the Downtown area. It has several shops, businesses, and restaurants, but it’s way more grungy and dirty than the other end of Queen. It’s worth a stroll for the underground vintage arena, Black Market. It’s seriously a huge space that kind of resembles the lower level of a warehouse. They have tons and tons of band shirts for under $10. Also, vintage coats, jeans, dresses, and $1 beanies and gloves. Oh, and cool jewelry, too. There was a whole row of $10 chockers of all colors and designs. It took everything in me not to get one.


Of course, it’s also where all of the big time Ad agencies, high-end clothing stores, and more cool graffiti murals are.


Other areas to visit in the city are Koreatown, Chinatown, Annex, the Beaches, Danforth (Greek town), Junction, Leslieville, and Yorktown. All of the neighborhoods sort of run into each other and blend together. It’s a city you didn’t know you needed to visit, but you definitely should.


During the five and a half month ‘Quit Your Life Tour 2015,’ we went on the year before, the guys (Insubordination) were supposed to play in Charleston, South Carolina on the weekend of November 4th. Unfortunately, the band’s manager, and our great friend, Fisher Essenfeld passed away unexpectedly. Therefore, we missed the show in Charleston to attend his funeral in North Carolina.

The venue they were supposed to play at, the Mill is a great place that they had played at two times in the past, so the guys wanted to make it up to them, and play this year on the same weekend, so we made a fun trip out of it. We had never been downtown, so we were excited to check it out.


Scott and I left Friday afternoon and were on the road by 430 p.m. The drive from our place in Richmond to Charleston was an estimated six hours. Going south on I-95 is a whole different story than going north on 95 — absolutely zero traffic. If we had gone north at this time towards the metropolises of D.C. and New York, it would add on like four hours to the trip. So yeah, the drive was great. There were trees down all along the sides of the roads in South Carolina caused by Hurricane Matthew a few weeks prior. They were hit pretty bad with 100mph winds.

The show was not until Saturday night, so our plan was to get a hotel Friday night, then go downtown and explore the city during the day, Saturday. Halfway through the drive, we stopped to get some fast food in North Carolina, in a town just north of Fayetteville. We had never tried Zaxby’s before, so we figured we’d give it a try. It’s kind of like a Chick-Fil-A, chicken fast-food spot. I got a salad with blackened chicken and blue cheese crumbles and some other stuff. Scott got a chicken finger sandwich with fries. It was not very good. Extremely salty. We both barely finished half of our meals.

We made the mistake of not calling and reserving a hotel earlier in the week, so we called on the way down. We called like thirty places and they were all booked up. Charleston is one of the most popular cities right now so I knew it was going to be jam-packed.

So we decided to get a hotel an hour north of the city because that was really our only choice. After we crossed the bridge over Lake Marion, we landed in Santee, South Carolina. There were signs for about six different hotels, so we got off there and went to the Quality Inn. The room was $86 for a one-bedroom.

We were pretty exhausted, but Scott was hungry so we walked around the area, went in some gas stations and he didn’t want anything there so it was unsuccessful. Above is a Waffle House, which was right by our hotel. I liked the way it looked — it was one of those really old school ones.

After getting snacks, we went back and crashed — it was the nicest bed I have ever slept in. We woke up around 8 a.m. and went and got our free breakfast. I was expecting it to be continental, but it was sit down and we had three choices: eggs with hash browns, toast, and bacon; french toast and bacon; and I forget the last one, might have been an omelet or pancakes. So that made the $86 room a little more worth it.

After we filled our stomachs, we headed towards Charleston. It was a perfect day, between 71 and 73 degrees with a great breeze and sunshine. So it was an hour or hour and a half to Charleston, and there was zero traffic.

We pulled in and it looked very old and Southern, with old run-down houses like the one above on the left, and an old school looking Church’s Chicken. The further we were in the city, the nicer it got. There were old oak trees everywhere, beautiful houses, and people walking about.

We parked down by the waterfront because we figured it would be the easiest. It is all free parking by the water, so that’s your best bet if you ever go there. Above are the houses along Battery Park by the waterfront. It was absolutely gorgeous and colorful with elegant mansions lined by palm trees.


We parked right here by White Point Garden. It is big and full of these big trees, which makes it great for shade on a hot day, and picnics.


We turned the corner and went along East Battery Street, which turns into Bay Street. We walked along this walkway, overlooking the gorgeous blue water.


While we were walking along the walkway by the water, to the left were more big mansions and palm trees. We also saw these horse and carriage tours in which the guide highlights the history of Charleston.


When we approached the end of the walkway, we noticed how high the sea level was. If you look at the end of that wall, the water is fast approaching the top of it. The city is very prone to extreme damage and horrendous flooding from hurricanes.

We walked more down Bay Street, where the infamous Rainbow Row is located. It is just a cluster of colorful mansions side by side. It is the biggest cluster of Georgian row houses in the U.S.


I had been kind of sick with a fever and sore throat for the past few days, and it was pretty windy, but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing everything I could. We walked down a pier by the water that overlooked a marshy park. We could see a great distance every which way we looked. It was super windy by the water, I kept covering my chest up with my sweater so the cold wind wouldn’t make me sicker.

Then we walked through Waterfront Park. It is lined with old oak trees, some with Spanish moss hanging down from them, right by the water. Lots of people were out and about on this lovely Saturday. There was even a big group of girls, as seen on the right, doing an outdoor yoga class.


We ventured further up Bay Street where there are lots of nice restaurants and hotels, beautiful buildings, and palm trees. We were searching for Charleston City Market and King Street.

We took a left on Market Street and ran into the City Market. It is a four or five blocks long, covered marketplace that has been around since 1804.


There were many ladies making Sweetgrass Baskets out in front of each market station. Sweetgrass is a strong grass along the coast. These women spend hours weaving these baskets. Scott wanted to buy one for his Mom for Christmas, but they were very expensive. It’s a very Charleston thing.


In the market, there were all kinds of stuff like local spices, soaps and lotions, home decor, and out of the ordinary art. This table had these small metal figurines of stick figures doing different things. Some are working out, or jumping off a diving board, a therapist and a patient, and playing baseball. Very cool little figurines.

There are a lot of shops across from City Market, so we went to a few of them. This place above had a ton of beautiful glass, marble, colorful plates, ornaments, and decorations. There were also interesting things like a block of granite made into a wine dispenser.


I’m a big hot sauce fan, so we, of course, went in the hot sauce store. It had all kinds of hot barbecue sauces, wing sauces, and just plain hot sauce. Flavors range from peach or artichoke and crab, the mildest you can get, to deathly hot. It is a huge space, lined with sauces all throughout. You can try each one, chips are set up at tasting stations all over. A big map on the wall had pins all over it of people that had come there from all over the world, people from Africa, Asia, India, everywhere that had visited.


King Street is ‘the street’ in Charleston. It is a shopping mecca with all of your big wig stores like Louis Vuitton and Anthropologie. We thought it would be funny to go into Louis Vuitton just to gawk at the prices. Even an LV scarf costs $500. The purses didn’t even have a price tag because I’m sure they were all at least $1,000. There were mothers in there buying these insane purses for their daughters.

We turned off the street to get away from the overpriced stores. The picture on the left is a little cafe in a tiny house which I thought was cute. To the right is an interesting looking church. I love the architecture in Charleston.

We ended up on the College of Charleston campus. It is right in the heart of the city. The walkways are lined with old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging and lots of green space surrounding. The college buildings are settled in these old beautiful houses. Not a shabby college campus, very gorgeous.

Then we hit up the Charleston Farmer’s Market, which is a huge thing everyday Saturday in Marion Square. There are tons and tons of vendors selling all kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits, like these mushrooms and apples above. There are also food stands, there was a Korean food stand and a fresh juice cart. There was music playing, people sitting in the park, and even break-dance performers set-up. It was very lively and fun.

We went further up King Street in the area of Harleston Village. We went to Blue Bicycle Books, a used/local book store. It was a huge space with a big front room, the hallway is full of books, and about four rooms full of books with tables to sit, and one room is full of children’s books with toys and a tent.


Since Scott is a music man, we went into this big pawn shop/music store, George’s Loan & Music Co. There were tons of guitars, amps, old cameras, diamond rings, and lots of valuable stuff.

We then went to a cool gallery called PULP. The guy working there was at a counter on his laptop, too cool to say hello to anyone. There was a wall of photo books of boobs and vaginas, pretty much just porn books. And also some tables of more of these types of books.

The back area was an exhibition of paintings and sketches done by the famous author Kurt Vonnegut. PULP has different exhibitions about every month or so.


Here is a nice photo of King Street right by PULP. I like the convertible, the palm trees and buildings together. There were fewer people on that part of King Street than by all of the upscale stores.


We were getting pretty tired from walking all day. We got up early, and Scott had to play a show that night, so we definitely needed a ‘pick me up.’ Being the experienced road Yelper that I am, I had already planned on going to this coffee shop, Kudu — it is a coffee/craft beer cafe. The inside is nice, it’s a wooden interior with big windows. Cool music was playing, everyone working was pretty hip. It also had food and snacks.

We sat on the patio outside which was lovely with a fountain in the middle, lots of trees surrounding, and many tables and chairs to hang out. We just sat in the sunshine and enjoyed our lattes. A group of people not pictured in this photo sat at a table in front of us, and they kind of struck a nerve with me. It was two girls and a guy. The two girls were wearing all high-end clothes, with brand name accessories and purses. The guy was your typical rich bro. The whole time they were FaceTimeing some guy really loudly and he was talking about being in New York and L.A. and blah blah blah. I just felt like these people were so privileged and for some reason, they just didn’t seem like good people. Seeing them and the moms buying their daughters thousand dollar purses on King Street, sort of gave me some anger (I’ll explain later).


Like I said earlier, Hurricane Matthew ripped through South Carolina pretty badly, and here’s a little more evidence above.


We just wandered aimlessly for a while through nice neighborhood streets. Scott had to go to the bathroom, so we stopped at a restaurant. I sat at a table on the sidewalk and waited for him. Two girls and a guy came and sat next to me with a pitcher of mimosas. They were very loud, and again wearing nice clothes. They seemed like every other white privileged person I had seen that day. They just seem so blind and ignorant to me, that they just think about themselves, they are handed everything they have and don’t think about it.


We walked to Colonial Lake, so we could sit in the grass and relax after walking for miles. It is a little man-made lake, surrounded by four streets of big houses and palm trees. There was a little bit of grass for us to lie on. Scott pointed out that it was fake grass.


Here is a cute house in the area 🙂


We walked back down to the waterfront to get back to the car. We walked by some more extravagant houses (downtown Charleston is basically nice homes). This one was very different and modern than all the others.


Here’s another waterfront shot. Not bad, not bad.

We got back to the car and decided to drive a little outside of downtown to find a place to chill. We were pretty tired and hungry. We parked by a big green space/baseball field. There weren’t many food options around, so we walked over a mile to a place called the Tattooed Moose. It was starting to get chillier, and I was so tired and hungry. On top of that, I had been pretty sick for the past few days, so I was dragging a little bit. But we made it.

The place was interesting. It was a wooden country looking bar, but it was kind of hipster with Mariah Carey and other R&B songs blasting. The employees were taking shots, dancing, and acting a fool — it was a little ridiculous. The menu had interesting items like duck fat fries and pickled green tomatoes. We got grilled cheeses and soup. It was really good.

The whole time I was just watching the employees screwing around.


We walked back and I felt a lot better after eating. Here’s a picture of some trash on the side of the road.


Some kind of cactus thing in a neighborhood on the walk back.


We got to the car and headed towards North Charleston where the venue he was going to play that night is. So driving out of downtown, to North Charleston is a big eye-opener. After seeing Travel & Leisure articles for months about how Charleston is the best city/best small city in the country, I had been excited to see it. Well, the further you get out of the city, it just turned into miles of ghetto. The houses were run down, and it was just the picture of poverty. So after looking at the grandiose homes of rich white people downtown, and then these below the poverty line homes on the outskirts, I beg to differ that it’s the greatest city in the country. Travel & Leisure caters to rich white people, so yeah it is the greatest to them.

And North Charleston has huge factories right by the water, and extremely close to the neighborhoods and businesses. The smell in the area is so thick and horrible — it can’t be good to breathe that in all the time.


The venue is called the Mill after the nearby factories. It is a super cool place though. The area is called Park Circle, a small knit area of bars and restaurants with lots of outdoor areas to hang out. It is very punk rock, has cool artwork, music, cheap drinks, and food. Everyone was really nice, too.

Here is some of the creepy artwork throughout. The Nosferatu painting on the right has been there since the first time we went in 2013. Scott is a Nosferatu fan, so he called the artist and asked how much it was going for, and he said $500, so that was a no-go. No wonder the painting is still there after three years.


We hung out outback before the show, and Bryan and Christian played a little gambling game with three dollars and three dice just for a little fun with this local guy. The guy had seen them play there before and was wearing an Insubordination shirt. He was very punk with a leather jacket that had spikes on it. There were a few other guys there dressed the same. I find it interesting that there is such a huge punk scene in Charleston, which is a rich white people mecca. It’s like an out lash to the culture, saying that they don’t stand for what the city is. Maybe all of them wouldn’t say that, but one of them even told me that’s what it is.

Shows at the Mill are always awesome. There is always a good turnout and people rocking out. It is never a letdown and they always get paid well. It was a very fun show, as always.

In light of the recent election, I am reminded of the big divide in America. I saw it in Charleston, the downtown is rich and white, the outskirts poor and black, the suburbs are white middle-class punks.

My message is: don’t believe everything you hear or see on TV or the internet. Travel & Leisure said Charleston is the best city in the country…they don’t talk about the poor or the punks that don’t believe in the white privilege of the downtown area or the heavy pollution they have to breathe in every day. Travel & Leisure did not take into account the city as a whole, just the very small rich, elite part.

I love the punk community because they stand up against the status quo and things they don’t believe in.


I’ve been coming to Ocean City, Maryland since I was around seven years old and to this day, it’s still my favorite beach. My Dad grew up in Northern Virginia, so he and my grandparents and his siblings would go every summer growing up. Where I grew up, Richmond, Virginia, most people go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Growing up, my parents were photographers, and landed a summer gig in Ocean City, taking pictures for the Sea Rocket, which is a speed boat ride that comes around from the bay to the ocean along the beach. They would take photos of the people getting on the boat. We stayed in a house on 3rd Street right near the bay. It was kind of rickety, with the balcony halfway caving in. Part of the city is very lively with lots of partiers, and the other part is nice families.

Ocean City consists of 147 blocks and is about nine miles long. Going from 1st Street to 147th, it progressively gets less trashy, and nicer and family-friendly.

Past 147th street, is Fenwick Island, Delaware. My grandparents have a summer home in Fenwick, right on the border of Ocean City. When you stand on the sidewalk and put one foot on the road and one on the sidewalk, you are in both Maryland and Delaware at the same time. They have had the place there since 2000, so I’ve been going there every summer since I was 9 years old. Well, there’s been one or two summers that I haven’t gone, and it’s always a bummer.

Scott went with me for his first time, back in 2013, and he really liked it. We went again in 2014, then again in 2015 while we were on the five-month tour. And we went again this past August for the weekend. He was always a Myrtle Beach guy, but he thinks he may be an OC/Fenwick guy now.

There are two ways to get to Ocean City from Richmond. The first is going through Virginia Beach and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel which is 17 miles long. It spits you out on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and up to Maryland. The second way is through Northern Virginia, then crossing into Maryland, going across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis, then it turns into Delaware.

We normally take the Virginia Beach route, which we did this past time. Above to the left is around New Kent or Williamsburg, Virginia. There was a little bit of traffic down I-64. It’s only two lanes, so there tends to be traffic during certain times of the day. To the right is the end of the Bay Bridge and the beginning of the Eastern Shore. This inlet is untouched, people aren’t allowed on it but it’s beautiful to look at.

A mile or two down the road is a gas station/restaurant called Sting-Ray’s that we always go to. It has a good Southern restaurant where you order at the counter and there are tables. It has a big area with candy, wine, and all kinds of stuff.

To the right, is the Eastern Shore, the part of Virginia that’s connected to the bottom of Maryland and Delaware’s shore. Well, it’s definitely a sight and a pretty drive, but living there would not be pretty. There are little towns with run-down houses and very few businesses. Not much opportunity there. The main source of jobs is the two chicken factories: Tysons and Perdue.


Here is one of the old houses along the highway on the Eastern Shore. It’s a lot of big open fields, abandoned houses, and farm stands selling Virginia Ham, fireworks, and discounted cigarettes. There are also a good amount of food/convenience stores run by Mexicans because many of them live on the Eastern Shore working in the factories.

The drive from Richmond to Ocean City is right around four hours. It takes two hours to get to the bay bridge, then another two on the Eastern Shore.

I always get really excited when we’re coming up on the city because I love it there so much. When you pull in, you cross the bridge over the bay and you can see the whole stretch of the beach in the distance with all of the big hotels, and people riding jet skis on the bay — it’s magical.

There are two bridges that cross into the city: one at 1st street, and the other at like 67th I believe? So we go across on the 67th street bridge because we have to drive up to Fenwick Island, right past 147th. Pulling in, it was around 6 p.m., and people were walking back from the beach, dressed up to go to dinner, it was very lively. There is so much to do there — so many hotels, bars, mini-golf, restaurants — it’s jam-packed with stuff to do.

First things first, it was a Friday night, and we were leaving Sunday afternoon, so we had to cram a lot of stuff into a short time period. We went to my grandparent’s beach house (it’s a nice trailer). It has a big lighthouse from the 1800s in it. Anyways, every time I get there, it is complete nostalgia, it holds so many good memories. I’m always happy when I’m there. It’s a block from the beach and a block from the bay. We went in, turned the AC on, dropped off our stuff, then drove to Harpoon Hanna’s.

Harpoon Hanna’s is one of our go-to spots. It’s right on the bay with an awesome Tiki-bar. We knew it was going to be packed, but we still had to do it. The place was so packed, but we managed to find an outdoor table. We got some drinks and really overpriced crab cakes. But they were good, and when in Rome. Some guy was singing some Jimmy Buffet and Dave Matthews covers out on the deck, and it was sundown, and the bay looked beautiful. We had a good time.

We were planning on walking down the beach afterward, but we got back to the place and crashed hard because we had driven forever, then ate and drank a bunch. So we got up early and walked out on the beach around 7:30 or 8am. There is us looking happy above.

There was hardly anybody out there, just some guys fishing. The beach is so pretty in the morning with the blue sky tinted with early sunshine, the calm water, and few people around.

So what was breakfast going to be? None other than the infamous Fractured Prune Donuts. You may think you know donuts, but you don’t until you try these. They are hot and fried with different glazes — so amazing. My favorite flavor is blueberry. Other flavors include orange, mocha, oreo, cinnamon, banana, french toast, lemon, and tons of specialty ones. I have been getting them since I was a kid.

We sat out on the screened porch and devoured most of them. It’s really good to dip in your coffee. To the right, is Scott eating the chocolate off the side of the box.

After donuts, we chilled for a little bit, then went and spent a few hours out on the beach. It was a pretty hot day, yet windy. We spent hours just chillin’ on our beach chairs and waddling in the ocean. At one point, we walked down the beach and then walked back in the ocean against the current which was really fun. It gets so packed there. The beach is a sea of colored umbrellas.

For lunch, I walked a few blocks away to Devito’s for subs, and Scott held down the fort. This is another place I’ve been having since I was a kid. Again, you may think you know subs…not until Devito’s. They started in D.C. in 1934 and was there until 1977. In 1981, the owners’ son, opened up shop in Ocean City. There is a sub called the Godfather…this thing. They make their bread in-house and it is perfection. The Godfather consists of roast beef, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, tomatoes, and thousand island dressing. It. is. so. freaking. good.

So we ate our subs out on the beach, got back in the water one more time, and walked back to the place. I went on a little bike ride around the surrounding neighborhoods, then just chilled for a bit. Here we are maxing and chillaxing above.

Here’s a view from the porch. You can see a little more than that though. It’s glorious I assure you. And me on the right looking happy as a clam.

After chilling for a bit, we took a long bike ride to Northside Park. It’s a huge recreational park on the bay, right off of 127th street. There are always baseball games, lacrosse, football, and softball games going on. There are playgrounds, bike trails, and an awesome fishing pier.

Going there at sunset is the perfect time of day to go. We parked our bikes by the pier and walked all the way down it. People were crabbing, which I’ve done many times there with my family — it’s really fun. Here are some selfies of ourselves.


We got down to the end of the pier and sat looking at the sunset. In the background are the homes overlooking the bay. The sun was so bright with orange and pink tints lighting the sky. There was even a family speaking French right by us — I bet they were from Quebec.

We rode our bikes back home through the neighborhoods by the bay. I love biking, especially at the beach. Next on the agenda: Mini-Golf. There are three mini-golfs right by our place, but we always go to Down Under. It has an Australian, Outback theme. This time there was even a wildlife center that brought a baby kangaroo for people to pet for a small donation toward their organization. We didn’t pet it but gazed at it.

The place was packed, but mini-golf is always a good time no matter what. I beat Scott by one point! Hey, I’m not good at much, but I’m not bad at mini-golf.

After my minor victory, it was time for dinner. We tried to go across the street to Grab & Go Taco because we had never been before, but they had just closed like two minutes before at 9 p.m. So we walked to one of our go-to spots, Oceanside Pizzeria. You go in and order at the counter and you can either take it to go or sit in. They’ve got pizza, subs, sandwiches, and french fries. What more could you need?! Scott got a pizza sub, and I got a tuna sandwich.

On the way back, we passed Candy Kitchen and decided to stop in. There’s gotta be at least 20 in Ocean City. They have every candy imaginable, chocolate-covered EVERYTHING and even an ice cream bar. Scott got some ice cream.

We headed back, watched some T.V., and crashed.

In the morning, we got up early and went to the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street. Right across from my grandparent’s place is the Fenwick Island Boardwalk. It has a water park, go-karts, mini-golf, and a Dunkin’ Donuts. We never hang out there, except to get Dunkin’ Donuts, because Scott loves it 🙂

After some lattes and donuts, I went on a bike ride, then we went out on the beach for an hour. We were going to stay until 4 p.m., but we figured the earlier we left, the better. We stopped at a Royal Farms gas station to get gas and some water and snacks.

Royal Farms is like a Wawa or Sheetz, and its specialty is Fried Chicken. They are all over the Eastern Shore, and only in VA, MD, DE, and PA.

The whole ride back was pretty miserable because I was really sunburned. It doesn’t matter how much sunscreen I put on, my skin is so fair and I can never escape the burn of the sun.

If you’ve never been to Ocean City/Fenwick Island, you should go! The activities are endless — it’s beautiful, laid back, and there’s awesome food.


What if I told you, you can experience France without going to France? Right above us in Canada, is the French province, Quebec. One of the most popular cities in Quebec is Montreal. It is only two hours north of Burlington, Vermont. Settled on the St. Lawrence River and founded by French settlers in the 17th century. The whole province of Quebec speaks French, all of the road signs are French, it is pretty much another France.

Every year in May, there is a huge punk festival called Pouzza in Montreal. It lasts from Friday to Sunday. There are tons of shows hosted at venues around the city and there is one big outdoor park stage. Many popular and big-name bands participate as well as lesser-known bands from all over the place.

So here is the low-down of our weekend in Montreal from May 20th-22nd, 2016:

Insubordination was scheduled to play Friday the 20th, the first night of Pouzza. The night before, they played a show in Rutland, Vermont with a friend, Nick Grandchamp who is in a few bands there. It was an awesome basement show. They figured they might as well do a Vermont show since it is close to Canada.

Christian, the drummer of Insubordination and New Hampshire native, goes to Pouzza every year, this time bringing lots of friends along. His college pals, Nate and Emily came, and high school friends, Ben and Harley. Bryan, the bass player, brought his girlfriend Jess, so lots of people! Christian booked the room which is actually a college dorm, for all of us stay in.

The drive from Vermont to Montreal was 3 1/2 hours. We left around 9am. There were 3 cars full of us following each other. It was a sunny day and the scenery was out of this world. Vermont is so pretty. Mountains in the distance, bright green farmland with cute farmhouses and barns, trees, and cute New England towns. Every square inch of the state is adorable. The drive was mostly up, Interstate 89. The last major city/the capital of Vermont was Burlington.


Crossing into Quebec, Canada was relaxing. Many border entrances to Canada and Mexico are near bigger cities, which promotes more traffic. This entrance was not near much, just pretty fields and forests. The line to get in was short, but we did have to park the car and have the border patrol run our passports, to see if any of us had any criminal background. They do that to many people, depending on the time of day, how many people and how much stuff you have in your vehicle.

We all sat in the office for about 20-30 minutes, then we were set free to enter Quebec!


It was all vast open spaces of farmland from when we crossed, all the way to Montreal. It was very pretty. It is weird how every area looks different depending on the climate. We saw little blackbirds perched all up and down the road, that had a tiny red and yellow stripe on their sides called red-winged Blackbirds, which I had never seen before.


Before getting to Montreal, we wanted to find a place to exchange our money, so we wouldn’t have to do it at a sketchy exchange place downtown. We passed a cute general store, Magasin General on the Pike River that advertised money exchange, so we stopped there. Adorable little place! I forget how much I exchanged. It was probably $200. Currently, 1 U.S. dollar = 1.32 Canadian dollars. It changes almost daily.

The store had a big selection of wine. I got a bottle so I could drink it at our hotel room, and not have to spend a million dollars at the bars. The two other girls on the trip, Jess and Emily jumped on the wine train too. We all walked out of the store on this Quebec country roadside with bottles of wine in hand, ready to take on Montreal.

Once we crossed the border, it was less than an hour and a half drive. Like I said, it was all farms and suburban neighborhoods.

Pictured above, we were crossing over the St. Lawrence River, into Montreal.

First, we parked in the parking garage of the dorms we were staying at and went and checked in. The dorms belong to the University of Montreal, but during this time, students were moving out for the summer, so they rent the dorms out to Pouzza festival go-ers. We got in line and got our Pouzza wrist bands, as well as the keys to the room.

The guys, (Insubordination) had to get to the venue, Foufones Electriques for soundcheck at 3:30 pm, so we quickly carried all of their band equipment two blocks away. The parking garage costs money every time you come and go, so that’s why we carried it all. Above is the street it is on, Saint Catherine Street or Rue Sainte-Catherine.

The festival was kicking off that night, and they were one of the first bands to play that weekend at 5 pm. There are probably 20 to 30 different venues playing shows all weekend. So they went on first at Foufones, and there were about 20 people in the room, including all of us (Ben, Nate, Emily, Jess, Harley) that aren’t in the band. Emily is a professional photographer, so she took a bunch of awesome photos. It was pretty darn cool.

It was cool that they went on first because we had the whole rest of the weekend to explore, and see other shows.

Here are some photos of the venue. To the left, is the mural out front. The place has a huge patio out front by the street sidewalk, and it backs up to the back of the building as you see on the right. The bar inside opens up to the outside with no doors. I’m sure during the cold winter, it closes up somehow. The second floor has the stage, then there is the third floor so that if the second floor gets too crowded, you can watch from the third floor.

We had a drink or two at Foufones, on the left, then headed to the outdoor stage to watch Big D and the Kids Table, a ska-punk band from Boston. I had never heard of them until then, but they all knew them, being from New England. Ben, Christian, and Harley are from New Hampshire, Nate and Emily from Massachusetts, and Scott, Bryan, Jess, and I are from Virginia.

To the right is Ben, Christian, and Scott during the Big D performance. The festival was sponsored by Sailor Jerry’s Rum, so the outdoor stage had tents set up that sold Sailor Jerry Rum cocktails.


Here is a more up-close photo of the outdoor stage during the Big D show. It was a sea of punk rockers, mostly wearing black. People were smoking joints, drinking rum and cokes, I even saw people doing cocaine. It’s sort of a no-rules kind of city.

You have to have a wrist band to get in, but you could easily hang on the fence and hang out and listen.

Quebec’s most famous dish, Poutine, which is french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds, was being served up at the festival, with tents around the outside stage. On the left, Jess is trying it out (for the first time, I think). You can tell she didn’t want me to take the picture.

To the right is the gang, from left is Ben, Bryan, Emily, and Harley.


We stayed out until 2 am going to shows, then came back and crashed at our ‘college dorm.’ Above, is the building we stayed at. Like every other building in Montreal, the architecture is different and wacky in some way, yet beautiful. As you can see, the windows are tinted greenish-blue and all slanted at a weird angle.

The room had a kitchen, a tiny living room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. It was pretty cheap too, from what I remember.

It was a Saturday, and we had the day to do whatever. Scott and I showered, got ready, and geared up to explore. We had been to Montreal once the year before, so we were going to check out the areas we had not seen. So we walked from our place to Old Montreal or Vieux-Montreal, the old port area by the river.

On the way, we ran into Montreal’s Chinatown district, so we ventured a few blocks through it. We had not had breakfast yet, so we stopped in a Chinese pastry shop, that had all kinds of strange Asian pastries like Japanese tea cream-filled cakes, and stuff wrapped in seaweed. Scott got a ‘sausage and cheese’ pastry, which was actually hot dog, not sausage. It was just as cool as any Chinatown, with souvenir shops and lots of food options.

We still needed coffee, and I needed a bite to eat. We stopped in what looked to be, a dime a dozen cafe. A dime, a dozen cafe in Montreal is better than almost any coffee shop in America. I got a cappuccino which was literally made with love. The man that made it, took his time and was very nice. I got a nice, flaky croissant because it is the French thing to do. Scott didn’t know what Biscotti was, he thought it was half brownie/ half cookie. I told him it is supposed to be dipped in hot coffee then it gets soggy. He got an Iced Latte, so he couldn’t dip it. He ate the hard Biscotti, almost chipping a tooth.


With pastries and coffee in our systems, we continued our journey. We started running into super old, Gothic buildings, so we knew we were in Old Montreal. The buildings date back to the mid-17th century.

We ran into the main tourist mecca, Place Jacques Cartier, a big square where people hang out, with shops and restaurants on either side. There was a Peruvian flute band playing. Scott laughed about it because there is an episode on South Park, making fun of Peruvian flute bands.

There were a few touristy stands in the square selling souvenirs and ice cream. Scott got a sno-cone, and we kept walking.

We walked down the old streets and popped in a souvenir shop. I bought some Canada and Montreal stickers for my sisters and I. Then some clothing stores, one had a ton of furs and rugs made from wolves and bears.

I just loved these old gray buildings and cobblestone streets.

So here is the wonderment that is the Old Port. Any activity you can think of, you’ll find it there. There is a huge pirate ship amusement park for kids called the Voiles en Voiles. It’s one, big adventure course. Aside from that, there’s a big zip line that goes across the pond in the park there, as well as paddle boats which cost about $25 for an hour or so.

After seeing the price of renting a paddleboat, we decided to just sit in the grass by the water. I did have a picture of bikers going across that bridge, but then I thought this goose, and the guy juggling was cooler. We sat there looking out at the river, watching the paddle boaters, bikers, and other park goers. There were some families with their cute French babies playing with each other. It was lovely and relaxing.

After hanging out in Old Montreal, we made our way back and stopped a few times along the way. The first stop was, Jardins Gamelin. It’s a park in the downtown area, off of Saint Catherine Street. It has a concert stage, cafe, and a greenhouse full of herbs of vegetables. There are also big floating colorful, wiry art installations hanging above the park. There are chairs set up in the grass throughout. Jazz music was playing, it was quite nice.

Then we stumbled into an awesome outdoor bookstore, right by the University of Montreal library. Scott bought a book of illustrations by German artist Heinrich Kley, The Drawings of Heinrich KleyKley was a surrealist artist from the early 1900s, who had a very bizarre style. There are a lot of drawings of animals such as elephants and alligators, portraying humans.

There were used books, old Vogue magazines, and surrealist paintings for sale. It had a huge selection of every topic you can think. The signs on the right say $4 for a book or three books for $10, which is a good deal!

Every which block you turn down in Montreal is bound to have a thought-provoking mural, like the two pictured above. The one on the left is a little girl reaching for the moon. On the right, this mural of a real looking park is an apartment building right by a big green space, so it blends right in. And the heart on the tree just makes you happy.

We made it back to the apartment and rested for a minute, before going to some shows. We went back out to the outdoor stage and watched Ray Bottlerocket from the popular punk band, Teenage Bottlerocket. He did an acoustic set of some of the band’s songs.


Then we watched another band we like, Less Than Jake. They had some radio hits in the early 2000s like ‘She’s Gonna Break Soon.’ Scott likes them a lot, so he was really stoked. There were a ton of people in the crowd, and they put on a great show. There was kind of a light show going on, beach balls being thrown around, and people singing the songs.


After the show, we went back to Foufones to meet up with everyone else. They were all upstairs watching some metal show. We sat in the bar for a while, waiting for them. Above is some of the strange artwork on the walls. Ya know French and weird go hand in hand, but I love their culture!

Once we met up with them, we went back to the hotel room to eat some snacks and drink some beers. To the left, Christian is drinking a forty out of Lays Barbecue chips bag. On the right, is the floor covered in skittles. We kind of trashed the place!

A lot of us were tired, but we toughed it out and went to another show at like 1 am.


We went to this tiny little bar and watched a well-known punk band, The Copyrights. The room was packed to the brim with people. We were squished in there, some of us regretted going because it was sweaty and uncomfortable.

After a good night’s sleep, it was Sunday, our last day in the city. We were going to explore the other end of the city. But before doing so, Scott wanted Poutine for breakfast because we hadn’t had it all weekend. Here he is chowing down.

We were heading for the Mile End neighborhood. Apparently, it’s the hippest neighborhood in Canada.

We walked up Boul St-Laurent from our place. There were tons of cool shops, like this candy store called Freak Lunchbox with E.T. in the window, and fake horse heads on top of the candy.

Then we went into an unassuming looking market, which had every type of wine, chocolate, and cheese you can think of. We roamed down many side streets, like the one on the right.

Here’s some more pretty/odd-ball graffiti. This little corner store had lots of old antiques out front like type-writers, trunks, chairs, and record players.

We popped into a cafe, which happened to be… a cat cafe! Cat Cafe Montreal or Chat L’Heureux. Man, French is such a pretty language! We didn’t realize until we saw cats just laying on the couch, and one just walking around. It was a cafe/lunch spot. So cool! We did not stay because it was packed, but it was cool to experience.

Since the cat cafe was packed, we looked for another cafe and found Cafe Neve. This place was frickin’ adorable too. I loved the modern aesthetic and the lighting, and look at my pretty latte! This was on Rue Rachel in the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood. There are four other locations throughout the city, but this is the original one, which opened in 2009.

img_0616Unfortunately, we didn’t even make it up to Mile End. We were like two blocks away from it before we turned around and went back to the dorm. Scott was super tired, probably from eating a pile of fries covered in gravy and cheese curds first thing in the morning. I was bummed, I mean I could have kept walking alone, but our phones didn’t work because we were out of the country, and between all of us, we had two room keys, so I said oh well, next time. I mean we did still see a ton of cool stuff though. Lots of cute cafes and shops, and of course the street art and architecture. I think we’re going to Pouzza next year, so I will go to Mile End then!

Above is just some interesting graffiti art on a side street. I like all of the colors on a white building with a skull and some villainous women’s faces.

The lavender-purple house on the right, that’s like my dream home. And the peach-pink doors, and that balcony!!!! Holy smokes, you can’t get much cuter than that. Each house looks different in some way, and there are always a few trees on each street. It’s just the best.

This was just on our way back. I pulled Scott down one street, then down another, turning a corner every block, because every street has something to offer. Some more sweet graffiti art for ya.

More unique homes. Some bright red row houses on the left, and a French stone, Parisian home covered in vines, which is actually my cover photo on Facebook.


We got back to the dorm and took a long nap. I woke up and walked to a pizza place down the block, that we had gone to the night before. It was run by some ladies from India. It wasn’t just pizza, there were Indian dishes on the menu as well.

I got two veggie slices and some pepperoni for Scott. We went to a show or two and then crashed earlier than the previous two nights because check out was at 7 am.

Above, is some of the aftermaths of the damage done in the dorm over the weekend. There was a whole other pile.

Leaving the city, we passed a big Bollywood movie sign, and just before going on the bridge out of Montreal was graffiti that said ‘LOVE ME,’ which I thought was cute.


We stopped at a suburban gas station for gas and waters. The neighborhood looks pretty American, huh? Lots of the houses in Quebec are made with stone, which isn’t pictured but I did see a lot of them throughout.

Before crossing back into the U.S., we stopped at the Magasin General where we had stopped when we first came into Quebec. We exchanged our Canadian money, back for U.S. dollars. I got a buttery croissant too 🙂 Then we drove past the vast farmland, that looked really pretty in the early morning.

Scott and I had ridden with Christian and Ben so we had to pick up our car at their place in New Hampshire. Then we drove all the way back to Virginia. Left Montreal at 7 am, got home at midnight. We had hit lots of rush hour traffic.

If you can’t get to Europe, just drive or fly to Montreal, or anywhere in Canada!


We were in Nogales, Mexico the night before and had slept at a Motel 6 in Nogales, Arizona. Left from there in the afternoon and drove a little over 2 hours to Douglas, Arizona which is on the border of Agua Prieta, Mexico.

The drive was beautiful and not too hot because we had the mountain air. There were little bushy trees on the side of the road. It was different looking, I liked it.

We went through small towns with saloons and a few cute shops.

This town seemed to be right next to some kind of mines, so some kind of mining community. It was settled right in the mountains. Pretty buildings, looked very nice.


Finally got to Douglas, Arizona (my last name is Douglas :)). We went down the main street there and all the buildings looked very 1950’s. It was small but it had all of your needs like shopping, fast food, Walmart, etc.

One of Christian’s friends, Gilberto that we had been to Mexico with before, lives in Douglas with his parents. We went over there and took naps. When it got later, we drove 2 minutes to the border. There was a rather long line getting into Mexico.

When we got in, we went to Gilberto’s uncle’s restaurant. We all sat on the patio, us, the band Psycho and Gilberto. He told us to get whatever we wanted, and his family covered it for us, which was extremely nice. Scott and I got carne asada quesadillas. We got condiment trays full of onions, cucumbers, pico de gallo and hot salsa.

The food was so darn good. I wish could eat in Mexico every day, it is so simple, cheap and delicious. We were very satisfied. Chris got a hamburger which was baffling. I got a horchata too, an sweet condensed rice milk drink that is really good.

We headed to the spot where the show was going to be in an auto garage dirt lot. On the way there, we saw a huge bowling alley with a big see-through glass side. Gilberto said it was run by the cartel.

We went to a little convenience store for the guys to get beer. Everyone drinks Tecate there and that’s it. Walking there, a bunch of guys were standing by a car, Gilberto said there was a lot of crack dealers around there.

In the store, they had eggs just sitting out, which was odd. Then of course the off brands like Bimbo that you don’t really see in the U.S.

The show was very fun. There were tons of Mexican girls with their hair dyed red and guys wore lots of black. They are very into punk rock and metal there. A local band played first then Insubordination. They killed it. Everyone was running around in circles. It was one of the most fun and unique shows of the tour. Kids came up to me at the merch table asking for stickers and pins. They were very into it.

Two other bands played, Psycho and our friend Berenice’s band. All the while there were Tecate cans littered all over the lot.

Chris and Bryan were ready to go party with Berenice and Gilberto but the rest of us wanted to get a motel. Gilberto took us to a nice motel nearby. That was the only night out of 5 nights in Mexico that we slept there. It had two beds, a bathroom, AC and a TV. It was clean and comfortable. American Horror Story was on TV which was cool. In the morning, we took showers and headed out by 11 a.m.

Gilberto and Psycho were going to Guaymas, Mexico that day which was 6 hours south from there. Gilberto’s car was screwing up so Chris and Bryan pushed it to get started so they could get on the road.

We left and said goodbye to Mexico because that was the last show scheduled there on the tour.

Above is the wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Trump wants to make taller. As we were leaving, guys were trying to sell us candy and teddy bears and every other thing, just trying to make a dollar.

Mexico is definitely an experience: the food, the culture, the people, it was just different and a lot of fun and it’s just on the other side of us!


We left Tucson after an almost 3-day stint. I really liked it there besides the heat. The girl we stayed with, Berenice who is in one of the bands they played with was going to Mexico with us. It was nighttime and we followed her there. She had picked up a band earlier from the airport in Phoenix and they were coming along too. She was taking us to a motel right on the border, to come and stay the night after the show.

We were going to Nogales that night for the show. And the town on the U.S. side is called Nogales, Arizona. We drove to the border and the patrol guy said we needed to pay for lugging all of the equipment across. Berenice called a friend, he walked across the border and talked to the patrol, and then we were let in. Since we were American, the guy thought he could get some easy money off of us.

There weren’t a lot of people out and about, so it was easy to find parking and we were able to see the car from the venue. We checked out the venue for a second, then went to grab a bite to eat. A local guy in one of the bands took us to a good taco place around the corner.

Chris and Bryan got some hot dogs. Hot dogs are a huge thing in the state of Sonora in Mexico. They aren’t just average hot dogs either, they are wrapped in bacon with cream cheese or whatever toppings you want.

Our tacos were dirt cheap, delicious in an open storefront with tables and plastic chairs. We got a condiment tray of pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa and onions.

The venue, Roots Bar had a lot of odd art. This kind of wacky, drugged-out, ‘in your face’ art seems to be prevalent in Mexico – at least in the border towns we had been to.

Insubordination played but the crowd was not amazing. Probably the worst turn out of all the Mexico shows, but definitely not the worst of the whole tour.

Psycho, the band Berenice had picked up from the airport was from Boston. They are some old guys, ‘grind-core’ they call it, who have been a band since the ’80s and have toured all over the world. Berenice plays in a few different bands, a few in the U.S. and this one in Mexico which is pretty legit. She’s also a nurse…who knew there could be a hardcore rock chick nurse?


Above is one of the outdoor taco stands on the sidewalk. Nogales was cool, but it definitely has a creepy element to it–you have got to be careful and attentive there.


We drove from outside of Phoenix to Tuscon, Arizona, which was a little less than 2 hours.  This was by far the hottest drive of the tour. We went through the bare desert. It was probably 102 degrees. It was around 4 p.m. so it was the hottest part of the day with the sun beating directly on us. I was in the passenger seat where the sun was hitting the hardest. I put my sweatshirt on my legs so the sun didn’t hit them and I used Scott’s sweatshirt to cover the window. I felt like I was going to pass out hardcore.

Granted, it was a cool looking drive, but it would have been much more enjoyable if it had been 30 degrees cooler.

I was so excited when we pulled into town so I could seek some air conditioning. It looked pretty cool and rustic. There were train tracks and wall art on old buildings.

Then we got to 4th Avenue where the show was going to be that night. There were art shops, cafes, record stores and music venues.

We walked a few blocks down the street to check it out. There were a lot of college kids out and about. There was a co-op grocery store called Food Conspiracy C0-Op.

We stopped into Cafe Passe to hang out for a while before the show. A guy was playing on a piano and we got coffees and bagels. There’s a back patio area and we hung out the inside. There are tons of awesome colorful paintings on the walls and nice lighting coming in. It was very relaxing. Behind the seating area inside of the cafe is a record store called Wooden Tooth Records.

The venue that night was called Sky Bar. It’s a regular cafe during the day. There are big garage windows that are open when it’s hot which is most of the time. At night it’s a bar/ music venue. The place is astronomy-themed. When they played there was a screen of earth from a satellite and space and the moon.

There was a good amount of people. I really liked the venue, cool atmosphere, sound and crowd. Two other bands played after them. That night we stayed at Berenice’s house, she played in one of the bands. Christian had played with her the year before with another band.

She let us hang out and relax at her place and stay in the air conditioning. She had two dogs that were cute and fun. We went out in the afternoon for lunch. Again it was a million degrees. We drove to another cool part of town, Congress Street. We ended up going to Shot In The Dark Cafe. The place is open 24 hours a day which is very cool. They have breakfast all day and all kinds of sandwiches and coffees. There’s even a smoking section and strange artwork on the walls.

That night was show #2 in Tucson. This time it was a house show. There were tons of young punks. About 4 bands played that night. It was pretty cramped in there with no AC. When Insub played everyone just went off. They were moshing and just running in circles. It was one of the best shows of the tour I’d say.

By the time the whole shebang was over and I went outside I felt really sick. The combination of it being 95 degrees and all of the people in there making it hotter, I got really dehydrated. I needed water stat.

We stayed at Berenice’s house again that night. All of the guys stayed up and partied until 5 a.m. I crashed as soon as we got back. The two photos above are the street she lives on. A block down the street from her house is Anita Street Market. When I woke up in the morning I went down there to check it out. I got a blueberry empanada. They have like 30 flavors of empanadas. I got some horchata too which is sweet rice milk I believe.

When the guys woke up we went back down there. Scott got a quesadilla and Christian got a steak burrito. I bought two packs of corn tortillas that they make in house. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in her place in the AC before we had to drive to Mexico for their show that night.

Tucson is a really cool artsy town and I would definitely go there again…hopefully in a cooler time of year


We spent the day in Tempe, swimming in a pool and taking naps. The drive to Scottsdale is only 15 minutes, so we didn’t leave until around 6 or 7 p.m. Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale are all right next to each other.

The show that night was at Pho Cao. It’s a nice Asian restaurant with a stage for shows. After a hot day, I got a Thai Iced Tea with boba and a summer roll.

Three other bands played, Insubordination played second. There wasn’t a ton of people there but all of the bands loved them. One of Christian’s friends from the area came out to the show. The lights in there were cool, blue and green.

After the show, there was a donut place next door that stayed open all night so we went through the drive-thru. The west coast has a lot of independently run donut places that also have various other types of food.

We stayed at Christian’s friend’s apartment in Tempe. Scott put a note on the van because we were in the apartment parking lot, with his phone number and that we were staying at a friend’s so that we wouldn’t get towed. Someone wrote back on the note and said: ‘Keep rockin’ on guys!’. We left that afternoon to drive to Tucson. We didn’t see any of Scottsdale but when it’s that hot it’s hard to want to go out and explore.