All posts filed under “Travel

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THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING COUSINS

A couple of years ago, the Cousins’ Group Chat turned into an annual trip. Last year, New Orleans (read about it here). This year, we decided to trot across the California wilderness also known as Los Earthquakeles (Los Angeles), almost wine country then San Francisco (why is it so hilly). Please note, there was a list of suggested cities, that I suggested San Francisco as well as the drive so any issues we encountered may have been my fault but I prefer to blame my cousins because I lack accountability, responsibility, and maturity. 

Cause it’s expensive AF to fly from Jackson, MS, I drove to my motherland (New Orleans) then flew to Los Earthquakeles. Several hours later, I arrived. We had lunch in Beverly Hills, then I had a minor heart attack as we drove through the Hills to my cousins’ new-ass, fly-ass pad, I died, came back to life, then took a nap. When I woke up, I put my toes and ankles in their new-ass, fly-ass pool but moved to the hot tub because I am more pleasant when broiled with light butter and cajun seasoning. Our other cousin later joined us but I was too tired to acknowledge her presence because I was tired and am a middle-aged woman. Note: I am not a middle-aged woman. 

Day two featured a moment in history that I will never forget. A mutha f***ing earthquake! Mom, sorry for cursing but it was a mutha f***ing earthquake, there is no other way to describe it. I added curse word pasties, hope that helps. Anyway, we woke up later than expected, I was hungry, then everything around me started vibrating. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. My spirit left my body and floated to the top of the bathroom while my physical body held on to the sink. I returned to my body in time to catch my cousin walking down the hallway and asked her “did you see that?” She turned to me, looked me in my eyes, and said “huh?” This is such a profound response that I have to type it again:

“HUH?”

After, I was fed and had mimosas (but not enough to forget that just 24 hours into this trip, I died twice). We learned the Solvang leg of our trip was canceled due to the earthquake and because all of Southern California fell into the Pacific Ocean (also this did not happen). We spent the day hanging in West Hollywood and Los Angeles, returned to the new-ass, fly-ass pad for a 2-week nap, got back in the hot tub for a broil then to bed.

The next morning we packed the Prius and I was judged for getting a Starbucks breakfast over my cousin’s concoction. We hit the road for the six-hour drive to San Francisco where I experienced anxiety as we drove through mountains, hills, and canyons. I kept thinking a giant boulder would roll over the Prius as a result of another earthquake or aftershocks. Obviously, that didn’t happen because I have published this post.

About 45 minutes from San Francisco, my cousin asked a very important question. What were the plans once we arrived? Yes, we had planned this trip for several months and were reaching the city limits without any plans. YOLO! Our Airbnb was down the street from Dolores Park which we walked through then to the Castro District and Haight-Ashbury. During the very long walks that were supposed to be a few blocks away but were miles, I learned that I had lower body weakness. The hills and steps should be illegal yet here we are. We took a Lyft back to the apartment for obvious reasons.

A cool building in San Francisco

We got an early start on day two. We had breakfast at Pier 39, I looked towards Alcatraz and silently whispered “free JT,” we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf then back to the car to drive up to Coit Tower, then to the Golden Gate Bridge where we posed like this:

Cousin and I doing millennials poses?

The bridge and the San Francisco Bay is the third most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen (after myself and Baby Gumbeaux). After, we crossed the Bay to go to Oakland, CA for “soul food.” Please note my tone via the quotation marks. 

“Soul Food” in Oakland, CA

My cousin recommended Lena’s Soul Food Cafe. I got fried chicken, turnip greens (which I have tasted maybe twice before this visit), and mac and cheese. The portions were very large (even larger than what I’ve ever received in Mississippi). Naturally, when eating at a place like this you have to get a flavored soda. I got grape (and hated myself for it). The chicken was OK. I won’t comment on the rest of the food because I know gangs are a thing in California and I am not trying to get smoked behind “soul food.” What I will say is that it was a very black experience. In addition to the grape soda, the Color Purple was playing on the TV while Afrobeats blasted through the speakers. I think each visit should come with a certification in African American studies or something. After, we roamed a somewhat vacant and almost gentrified downtown Oakland. I asked to be dropped off to take a nap and recover from the AFRICAN AFRICAN American experience but never did. Note: African African is not a typo but the best way I can describe it.

Cool-Ass Building in Downtown Oakland

On our final day, we had breakfast and per my cousin’s request, attended church (aka vacation church which is attending church while you are supposed to be sipping mimosas on vacation). The East Bay Church of Religious Science was a new experience for me but I had been learning about similar beliefs via my cousin Rev. Karen Frost and Spirit Uncensored. The only expectations I had was that the service would be as quick as my cousin said it would be. I was surprised by the diversity and not because diversity doesn’t exist but because the church was clearly Afrocentric and unapologetic about discussing police brutality and immigration. They kept saying none of us are free until all of us are free. It was fascinating, the people were nice (a little too touchy), but I was glad for the experience; particularly, because several people called me beautiful.

East Bay Church of Religious Science

We left before the service ended and experienced traffic nearly the whole way back to Los Earthquakeles. I ate, slept for a few hours then caught a flight back to my motherland entirely too early. My Dad picked me up from the airport, we had lunch in Treme then I put the pedal to the metal back to Jackson, MS where I am still recovering. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and follow me @pinkgumbeaux on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Allen Toussaint Mural in New Orleans

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THE STORY OF MY FIRST & LAST CANOE TRIP

Dirty little canoe, dirty little life jackets, dirty little paddles and my badass backpack.

I remember premarital counseling like it was yesterday. I was told to be Husband’s playmate so despite being scared of heights, I traveled into mountains and caves on our honeymoon. Despite not being able to swim, we went canoeing last weekend.

Previously, I was a bit bummed about missing the French Quarter and Ponchatoula Strawberry Festivals but was fairly over it. But guess who wasn’t? Husband. The entire week he secretly plotted on how to make the upcoming weekend awesome; although, I planned to attend a local event. Friday, he informed me that we were going canoeing and proceeded to shop for our picnic. My first thought? Is he trying to kill me? Surely he knows I don’t have the best life insurance, it’s best if he keeps me alive. So, I decided to be adventurous; although, I sort of kind of don’t like being outside, have skin allergies that are most active in the Spring and Summer, CAN’T SWIM, hate bugs, reptiles and whatever else lurks in the wild, and CAN’T SWIM!

We drove about 30 minutes outside of Jackson to D’Lo Park. Once we arrived, we had to complete a form stating we wouldn’t damage their already damaged equipment and to provide an emergency contact. Do you know who my emergency contact is? The guy who was taking me canoeing! Upon departure, we were given jinky directions regarding our canoe route. After 3 or so hours, we would see a big bridge that we shouldn’t go under or turn but try to park; although, it was washed out. Then, we should call the Park People to pick us up. We were confused because there are bridges along the route but whatever. We drove a few feet and met up with our dirty little canoe which contained 2 dirty little life jackets and 2 dirty little paddles. For 30 bucks, what was I expecting? Once in the canoe, Park Guy gave us a push and off we went!

Shortly after I killed the spider who tried to kill me.

Immediately after entering the river I exclaimed “I don’t like this.” We were closer to the water than I expected, there was more water than I expected, the boat was rockier than I expected and did I mention the canoe was dirty? Shortly after, I made eye contact with a spider. Why is a spider in our canoe already? Did he just get here or hopped in when he saw us so he could rob and shank us? After I MURDERED him (spider), I noticed we were the only people on the river. Not only were we the only people on the river but we are also black which increased our chances of being murdered (like the spider) and our bodies never being found. It was the perfect plot for a horror movie.

Canoeing is more difficult than I imagined. There were lots of bends (turns), fallen trees and rocks we had to dodge. Of course, Husband didn’t want me to help paddle. According to him, I didn’t know what I was doing which was interesting because he didn’t know what he was doing either.

Guess who’s having a blast in the dirty little canoe?

I was an anxious mess the entire time; although, I didn’t vocalize it much. I just hoped we would get down the river in half the time we were told (3 hours). Probably a mile or so into our trip, Husband turned the boat around. You guys, literally a mile down the river and maybe 30 minutes into our trip. He knew I hated it. Me: “But isn’t going against the current going to be hard?” Husband: “Canoes are made for this.” I think it took us the same amount of time to go back as it did to go down stream. As we approached the dock, I got into a paddle scuffle with a dragonfly. He kept trying to land next to me and I was like “no, I don’t know you and I don’t like bugs.” Husband: “Stop before you flip out of the boat!”

As we pulled up, there were 2 Bite-sized demons (kids) throwing rocks at our canoe. Had I not been scared to rock and fall out of the canoe, I would’ve thrown them back and wouldn’t have missed. Shortly after, we were pulled out of the water. Land! We had a picnic on the side of the river when Husband revealed the snakes and other wildlife he saw. If you can remember, I just got in a fight with a dragonfly so imagine how I would’ve reacted if I saw a snake. Overall, I’m glad I went. How else would I know I’m never going again?

Our view while eating lunch.

Read and share my previous post: Faux Product Review 45: Rock Hard Hardener & Basecoat

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JACKSON INDIE MUSIC WEEK-ISH  

JIMW

Source: JIMW

Last week, I attempted Jackson Music Indie Week:

Jackson Indie Music Week is a celebration of Central Mississippi’s independent music scene. It is a week-long series of concerts, showcases, panels, and parties, spotlighting creatives from the genres of Rock, Hip Hop, EDM, Blues, and Independent Film & Video. Jackson Indie Music Week aims to honor what has come to be known as the “Birthplace of America’s Music” in none other than the entertainment capital of Mississippi.

Prior to JIMW (I’m not sure if this acronym is a thing but I’m making it a thing), I planned to attend every single event *insert look of determination here* but after looking at the schedule I concluded “this ain’t gone happen.” It’s nearly impossible to attend every single event so I narrowed it down to 8 events then 7 *insert full-time job and my dissertation chair giving me the side eye because… dissertation* resulting in me attending a whopping 4 events!

*slow clap*

Anyway, the first event I attended was Women in Music Panel: Advice and Best Practices for Aspiring Indie Artists.

Panel

Panel Guests: Tawanna Shaunté, Teneia, and Sherry Cothren. Moderated by Amanda Furdge.

While I’m no musician, singer or songwriter, I am music adjacent. Dad is a musician and producer (@smallworldstudiono) and I wanted to gain some insight in the event I join the family business but got more than expected.

On longevity: The panel’s careers ranged from 10 to 30 years, all of the women love what they do (obviously) and said that music was worth the sacrifice but wasn’t really a sacrifice.

“I hope you are doing something that makes you happy.” -Amanda Furdge

On balance: Hone your craft, learn and adapt, know what your vision is, you don’t need to have a lot of resources but be resourceful and surround yourself with people who can help you grow.

“Invest in yourself, celebrate every accomplishment. No one will validate you like you validate you.” -Tawanna Shaunté

On advantages and disadvantages: Doing what you love; in contrast, sometimes you will have to say no and can’t bring everyone along. You work from home, call the shots but it can be hard to balance. You are a business, not just an artist.

On branding: Outsource and collaborate but know every aspect of the business so no one screws you over. Mississippi is unique when it comes to branding and socializing but social media has made it possible to connect with people; however, face-to-face interaction is just as important.

In sum, everyone seems to be working on new music so be sure to follow them on social media for updates.

“If you bring all the ingredients and a stove, I’m finna cook.” -Amanda Furdge on creating your own lane

Dayyyyyys later, I attended the EDM Party at the Russell C. Planetarium.

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There was music in both the lobby and theater by DJ Tree, 360 Degrees, DJ Uri, DJ Repercussion, Taboo, DJ Tam, Daphya Selecta, Rob Roy and  Monoxide, a live painting and light photography by T.J. Ledger. The environment was a little more chill than I expected. I practiced dance moves just to stand or sit around? So, I did what any logical person would do. I stood and sat around but still had fun. Next was Shorts: Film Showcase

shorts

Featuring films by Jordan Henry, Ashley Norwood, Isabella Kinder, Thomas Haffey, Charles Jett and more.

Did you know we had filmmakers? I suppose that information is hard to come by if you don’t run in that circle but we got an opportunity to see films we usually don’t have access to. Last but not least was the Wrap Party.

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Official Wrap Party at And Gallery. Featuring: The Stonewalls & Special Guest DJ

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We arrived on time (because Husband and I are old), engaged in introverted activities (such as talking to mostly each other), and viewed new work by Adrienne Domnick. Side note: Could someone buy me that Janelle Monae painting and or T-shirt? 

Overall, I think it’s an awesome event and look forward to attending more activities next year. In contrast, I had a hard time getting friends to attend because most of the events were during the work week. I know what you’re thinking, you can’t please them all but if this event operated like the Jazz Fest (with concerts over a series of weekends), it may draw more locals and tourists. Also, I wonder if any college students knew about it. Although Jackson is basically a college town, there is often a disconnect (and I am speaking as someone who moved here for college). Then again, I’m not sure if their attendance could be accommodated (we are talking tens of thousands of students). Last but not least, the Planetarium needs a lot of work which has nothing to do with this event but I need someone to renovate it (and no, the City of Jackson can’t afford to). While we are waiting for Jackson to recruit a movie theater, that could be the movie theater. Any who, who attended JIMW? Did I paint such a compelling picture that you can barely wait until next year? I know, you’re welcome!

Read (watch) and share my previous post: What’s in My Box? Hues Inaugural Box

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100 THINGS TO DO IN JACKSON, MS BEFORE YOU DIE

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

I know what you’re thinking. “What is Jackson, Mississippi,” “I thought Jackson was in Florida” and “I didn’t know Jackson, Mississippi had 100 things to do.”

I arrived in Jackson at the age of 17, 13 years ago. My biggest gripe: Nothing to do; especially, in comparison to my life in New Orleans. Note: I had to add “in comparison to New Orleans” because I could feel the grunts of hardcore Jacksonians who say there is plenty to do. And we have proof, thanks to Natalie West. Book description:

It s not hard to see why Jackson is called The City with Soul. Its depth and diversity permeate its art, music, history, food, fashion and even the passion of its sports fans. 100 Things To Do in Jackson, MS Before You Die is a tour guide everyone can use to experience the heart and soul of Mississippi’s capital city. A blend of geek, urban, indie and alternative cultures influences shopping, events, galleries, concerts and nightlife throughout Jackson. Natural parks and abundant green space ensure the beauty of nature is never far away, even in the heart of the city. Native American, Civil War and Civil Rights history sites tell the story of its roots. Established arts districts like Fondren and Midtown along with up-and-coming neighborhoods in Downtown and west Jackson showcase the talent of the city’s future. And the food. So much incredible food. 100 Things To Do in Jackson, MS Before You Die is divided into five categories: Food & Drink, Music & Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, Culture & History, Shopping & Fashion. Each section includes insider info and tips to help visitors and residents make the most of everything Jackson has to offer.

So what are these 100 things? The book is divided into categories (food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history, and shopping and fashion) includes photos, tips and facts as well as an itinerary. This book is great for not only tourists, residents and semi-residents (such as myself) but those who may be reluctant to visit Jackson *stares at Mom* And, word on the street (aka the author told me so), there may be a contest for the people who do the most “things” in a year. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Buy the book here, stay abreast of events here, and read and share my previous post: Thank You and Goodnight: Top Posts of 2016

You’re welcome.

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GUMBOGATE 


Husband told me I couldn’t blog about the events of Christmas weekend. After much consideration, prayer and meditation, I’ve decided to blog about the events of Christmas weekend.

Because we spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans with my (our) family, we spent Christmas in Houston with his (our) family. We left Friday morning, passed through Louisiana to drop off my brother and pick up a can of Ice Box Cookies from my grandmother. These are my favorite cookies. I love them so much that I ate cookies out of all the other cans to preserve the amount of cookies in my can. Husband snitched on me. He said I was too quiet which meant that I was up to something. I don’t feel bad about it.

Saturday morning we ate at The Breakfast Klub, went to The Galleria and met up with Husband’s childhood friend (Read: Double No). Childhood Friend had been texting Husband about his Gumbo all day. You know, the Bible warns us of false prophets. Being from New Orleans, I don’t like eating Gumbo outside of Louisiana. I don’t care what you say, where you got the recipe from and how many people like it. People are rarely equipped to tackle such a dish. What’s worse, I am a picky eater so I rarely allow people to pressure me into eating something. But, I was vulnerable. After all, I had been sick for the past week and wasn’t in my right mind.

As soon as we walked into the kitchen, Childhood Friend and Childhood Friend’s Dad started bragging. Talking about they were about to show someone from New Orleans how it’s done. As we approached the cauldron (the pot witches use for their potions), Childhood Friend starts talking about how he didn’t need to add any filé in it and how the shrimp were stuck to the bottom of the pot. How Sway?! Nonetheless, I got a bowl and threw a crab on top. I took my first bite and had to drink water immediately after because I didn’t want to throw it up on these nice people’s table on Christmas Eve. I can best describe it as swamp water with rice. I told him it was OK for his first time; although, he burnt the roux, should’ve used filé and andouille sausage opposed to wiener. He had whole bell peppers and onions. My dude, couldn’t you have chopped this? What’s worse, it had been sitting out all day! You guys, Gumbo has to be refrigerated an hour or so after it’s cooked. So, naturally I thought I was going to spend all night in the bathroom or DIE. I started to call my mom to get my affairs in order because I just wasn’t sure I was going to make it. However, God let me live so I could tell my story.

I woke up late Sunday morning. I’m not a kid, what’s the rush? There was a brief moment of gift giving then it was time  for me to cook my mac and cheese. I was done 40 mins later then started getting ready for the day. We would be traveling to Angleton, TX for our Christmas meal. Once out of the shower, I asked Husband where his mom was and what time we were leaving. We we’re supposed to leave at 1 but then 1 hour passed, 2, 3…then 4! Finally, Diana Ross (mother-in-law) emerged and we left Houston shortly after 5PM and did not eat until about 6:30PM! Another near death experience. I did not even know my body could go that long without food. Whew, the great endurance I’ve displayed during this trip. Interestingly, I did not load my plate with food; although, I was super hungry. Husband’s family allows people who can’t cook to contribute to the meal. As I was adding food on my plate, I tried to mouth to Husband “who made this?” He could not read my lips so I didn’t take any risks. I got the basics: MY Mac and Cheese, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, Dinner Roll and burnt ham (I was told it was left in the oven too long but it was aight). Later that night, we attempted and failed at seeing Fences.

Monday, we woke up late, said our good byes and ended our trip at Pappadeux’s (which is how everyone should end a trip to Houston). We briefly stopped at my grandparents house in Louisiana where I was gifted a Coverd Stockpot, gift cards, REAL gumbo, and a slice of sweet potato pie from my other grandmother #Blessed

So, how was your Christmas? Did you do anything I suggested in the Guide to Bore-Free Christmas Vacation list? Read and share my previous post: New Year’s Resolution: Slay in Fabletics