Tag Archives: Travel

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I had originally chosen the Seven Lions Middlelands set as my current jam, but sadly YouTube had to take it down due to copyright infringements… So! Here’s the set I loved the most next from Middlelands (which I’ve already listened to again twice since then).

Currently jammin’ to: Illenium at Middlelands 2017 set

Illenium is an amazing artist whom I highly recommend anyone to check out. :)

Life as Karen knows

I had a different post in the makes, but I scrapped it for this one because I wanted to change the focus. It’s been awhile since I last updated about my life (almost two months), aside from my last post focused solely on the death of my friend, so I figure its best to mention how life’s been treating me before rambling on about other things. More than likely this will be a really long post considering I have two months of stuff to write about.

Originally, I planned to head back to Arlington/Dallas mid-May and be at home for a couple months before I found a place in Dallas to live closer to school. I had already informed my work place of my last day, but due to multiple other coworkers also leaving, I was asked if I would be willing to stay longer. As I didn’t have exact reasons to be in Dallas (aside from some weekend events and trips that I had planned) and I was going to try to get a job over the summer anyways, it seemed easier to just keep the job I already had so long as enough hours were provided to make it worthwhile (and that my friend, whom I am staying with, is okay with me staying around longer). In the end, that’s exactly what they provided to me (the hours) and thus my stay in Austin (slash my friend’s place) has now extended to the end of July.

While it hasn’t been too difficult, and I greatly enjoy the extra time spent in Austin, it definitely did mess with some of the plans I initially planned to be at. Now I’m back in this every other weekend in Dallas schedule again. Some of it was just for traveling from Dallas (DFW airport) rather than actually doing things there, but some was also being in Dallas.

I’ll probably miss some things in recent events that have been happening, but I’ll try my best to be true to my blog idea aka personal tracking of my life events (for everyone else to see as well). Last time, these were the things I said I was looking forward to: Middlelands, Atlanta visit, climbing more, volleyball, trying Franklins BBQ, visiting Hamilton Pool, and seeing lots of friends. I haven’t actually been able to climb more yet (did buy shoes though), or play volleyball much, or visit Hamilton Pool, but I have seen friends, gone to Atlanta, attended Middlelands, and tried Franklins BBQ finally. I also went to Portland, checked out a remote part of Greenbelt, night time kayaked to live latino music, and had a scattering of birthday parties, small concerts, and events (like Mother’s day). So again, warning that this post will probably be pretty long, but cool if you’re bored and wanna read all about my life. Or just scroll for pictures. :)

Fun with friends in Austin

A big surprise came in the form of meeting up with an old friend from Emory that I hadn’t seen (or even talked to) in five or six years who was down in Austin for a wedding. Consequently, I got to try out some places I’d never been in Austin, like Veracruz tacos, Radio coffee and bar, JuiceLand,  swimming in Greenbelt off some random path, and the Botanical Gardens. Who knew I’d see more of Austin from someone coming to visit from Austin?

Swimming in Greenbelt was definitely the highlight. A short hike entering from some random neighborhood and we found ourselves at a lovely pool of water/stream. Wejumped off the cliff into the cool water which wasn’t too cold despite this still being late April (and the weather was maybe high 70s?). We had brought some Veracruz tacos with us to eat there and had Radio coffee while waiting for the food beforehand.

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the crew going swimming to Greenbelt!

Afterwards we ate at Tan My which had pretty good bun bo hue (well, I just tried some didn’t actually order anything), and I consequently found out one of the newfound friends was dating my current roommate’s old co-worker (that I had met before long ago). Once again somewhat proving how small the world sometimes feels.

We went to Graffiti Castle (or the Hope Outdoor Gallery as it is officially called now) as well as the Botanical Gardens afterwards. I’d always wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens (mostly to Pokemon hunt XD) but it was still… an experience I guess. Whenever i think of botanical gardens, I think flowers. I’m not sure if maybe it was still too early or what, but I feel like I had to try really hard to find some flowers (literal flowers ;)). In the end, at least I can say that I’ve gone. We did some hiking to the 360 bridge as well, but only to the overlook.

It was a fun time, filled with outdoor activities and food, which is exactly what I like. Plus I got to catch up with an old friend and meet new ones.

Lots of birthdays, some going away parties, one Mother’s Day, and many other scattering of events (Corona Electric beach party, ARMNHRM at Kingdom, etc) occurred in various fashion. I’d go into all of them more but I’m not trying to dictate my whole entire life up here (well, I kind of am, but not to that extreme).

One other Austin highlight recently was that I finally got to kayak! It was actually an evening/night time kayak event with live Latino music serenading us as well. The weather couldn’t have been any nicer, honestly. I had an amazing time on Lady Bird Lake and enjoyed some wine, beer, and finger foods (grapes & mangoes). There were also some people who got onto the band’s platform and salsa danced. It really made me want to get better at salsa dancing. Maybe someday I’ll find a partner to do that more with ;) maybe.

The Road to Middlelands

Let me start by saying these events aren’t exactly in chronological order, so while the swimming in Greenbelt happened in late April, the kayaking happened this past Friday night, and Middlelands occurred in eary May, to give you an idea. So apologies ahead of time if this somehow gets confusing in terms of timelines. Anyways.

I know it’s kind of bad to do, but I totally have no problem with talking about how amazing Middlelands was to people who didn’t go. It’s been probably the best music festivals I’ve ever attended. The music, the people, everything was near perfect and most times better than I expected. My one regret was getting drunk enough to forget to go to Big Gigantic on the first night. Who knew taking big gulps of vodka early on would keep me drunk the whole night? In the end, I missed one of the more unique artists that I really wanted to see, but regardless of missing Big Gigantic, all the shows I did catch easily make Middlelands one of the best festivals ever attended. This is not just an opinion I hold, but honestly many attendees felt this way as apparent through many blogs, posts, groups, people, etc that I’ve read and talked to after the festival. Some felt that way having gone to many festivals in the past, and some felt that way from it being their first festival. Honestly, if you didn’t know what PLUR really was before, you could’ve definitely learned about it at Middlelands. It was really that kind of feel.

Middlelands 2017 music festival

some of the Middlelands peeps I was hangin’ with that weekend :)

And the music, I could relive that whole weekend again with just that music. So many amazing artists, and some that surprised me in expectations. My favorite set, as I said earlier in this post, was Seven Lions with Illenium coming in close second. But other sets, like Bassnectar, Alice in Wonderland, and Louis the Child were also incredible. I also learned about a few new (to me) artists like Quix and Ephwurd, both of whom were amazing live as well.

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my favorite stage at Middlelands! where Illenium and Seven Lions killed it

I honestly probably could have made a whole post about Middlelands alone, but I’ll refrain. I’ll just post pictures and relive in them and the uploaded sets from then. I will say that I’m really sad it won’t be at the Texas Renaissance Festival anymore due to some locals complaining about the noise. I very much hope it will stay in Texas, but I know where ever it ends up being held, it will still be amazing. This year’s is basically legendary (in my book), and if it stays in Texas I’ll probably be back again. Sherwood, I’m looking at you!

Atlanta, aka Dallas and Houston mixed together

Back in undergrad, I made some life long friends during my time in Resident Life as an RA. We decided that five years after we graduated, we would all meet up for a reunion in a city we’d never been to (at the time, it was decidedly Seattle), and each of us would bring X, Y, and Z. I think mine was bringing a husband or something, and my other friend was like a pet bird, and another was a foreign wife, or something weird and crazy. In the end, we didn’t go to a new city but back to Atlanta (though I, as previously mentioned, have now been to Seattle anyways), our old stomping grounds, and none of us brought any of the decided things (which we all forgot anyways), but we did have our reunion. Additionally, it was one of my friend’s birthdays that weekend, so we reminisced, did an escape room, watched some stand-up comedy, and checked out old and new Atlanta places.

escape room atlanta

we almost finished. Last puzzle :(

I’m so grateful for my friends, both the ones I gained at Emory and the ones before and after. It’s always tough to stay in touch when everyone lives everywhere else (Atlanta, Chicago, Japan/Boulder, etc), but I’m glad that we’ve still made attempts to stay in contact and connected to each other. I’ll be seeing them again later this year for the first one of us to get married, but we planned to once again meet in 5 years at the latest. I hope we’re able to keep our promise again. :)

The hike to Portland (or really, in)

Another city I’d never been to and another activity I’d never really done has once again been accomplished: I took a 13+ mile hike in Portland, Oregon last weekend. I was actually somewhat worried about my physical capabilities for the hike, but surprisingly handled it well. I guess I’m in better shape that I think? Or more like I can stay active for a lot longer than I give myself credit for. Either way, it was a wonderful experience. Portland is very lush and beautiful. Such amazing views and nature feels. Naturally, we also toured around some food places and caught really by chance events, like their Starlight Parade and a random Trump/”freedom of speech” white supremacy rally and consequent anti-rally/protest. It was one of the most spontaneous (aka a nice way to say unplanned, but not necessarily unpleasant) trips I’ve recently taken, but still had some great times.

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the lovely Portland hiking group being fancy :)

I’ve never been a part of a rally or a protest (at least not physically), so it was pretty interesting to see. There was an enormous crowd for the protest while the rally itself seemed much smaller. I think that’s actually pretty reflective of America as a whole, but that’s another can to be opened a different time.

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some signs at the rally (but from the protesters)

The Starlight parade (which is part of their International Rose Festival, but has nothing to really do with roses?) was pretty cool too. We only caught parts of it because we had reservations at this whiskey library bar, but we did see a slew of DeLoreans parade through decked out with lights. As you can imagine, the parade is held at night time and features lots of floats with pretty lights. There was also quite a few high school marching bands, to my surprise.

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there was a bit in the parade that was just DeLoreans :)

To sum up what we did in Portland, we hiked, ate lots of food (mostly decent but to be completely honest Seattle was better, sorry), drank a variety of alcohol (we went to a bar which provided tasting shots 4 for $5, one of which you could choose a wasabi vodka), and part took in some local recreational fun. We actually ended up checking out their Japanese garden and Rose garden, both of which were cool. Seeing all those beautiful roses was actually pretty cool. If I were to go back to Portland, I’d definitely want to just go for hiking and camping. There are so many trails you can go on and so many beautiful views to be seen. Plus, the weather was really nice (when we were there).

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a Great Pyrenees meet up at the market!

Check out the actual hike pictures here. For some reason, WordPress won’t properly show the pictures from Instagram on my post. And I’m too lazy to figure it out.

If you didn’t already know, Portland is for some reason famous for its strip clubs. We didn’t go to any, but had a very interesting lyft driver who kept talking about the perverse side of Portland and its strip clubs, particularly one that was vegan. So I guess Portland is lots of hiking and strip clubs. I think I’ll just stick to the hiking parts though.

Another interesting part (coming from Texas) of Portland is the people. We went to a Thai restaurant, and all the workers (cooks, dishwashers, etc) were white while the owner/some servers were Asian. It was weird and that’s how it was everywhere. It came to us not exactly as a surprise, but just so different from where we come from. It was also weird how extreme the sides of Portland people are. There are some really nice, open-minded people there, and then there are some really white supremacy extremists too. Definitely unexpected. Anyways.

Given how much I had to go through, I tried to condense and not ramble too much about everything. Usually I like to post personal thoughts and what not, but the length of this post is already pretty high up there so I’ll refrain this time. Maybe I’ll make a post later for just thoughts. Maybe. I’m surprised I didn’t talk much about the recent amazing food I’ve been having (which definitely still happened in Portland and elsewhere, just didn’t write about it.) Well, maybe I’ll just post on IG or something. ‘Til another time! :)

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Snowboarding and food, that’s what I did

Oh man, there are a lot of songs I’ve been jammin’ to recently. So many new (to me) tunes that I’ve been introduced to by others and so many old ones I still love… In the end, I have to spotlight this one song that I keep finding myself searching for to play – All My Friends featuring Tinashe and Chance the Rapper by Snakehips

Good music, food, company = amazing times

It’s been an exploratory year already for sure. I’ve been pushing boundaries I’d set for myself in ways I didn’t think I would, and yet my personal belief in no regrets continues. It’s definitely been a whirlwind, and one I haven’t fully stopped long enough to completely consider in all its complications, but regardless, it’s been a blast.

I didn’t mean for it to happen, but this post is basically only about my trip to Whistler/Vancouver/Seattle. Definitely worth some reading if you’re planning a trip up (especially to Seattle), but otherwise just primarily jotting my life down like a diary here.

As (probably) mentioned before, I went on another snowboarding trip with about the same people as before (but less of them) to Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb mountain. What’s new about this? For one, I’d never been to Vancouver and I’d never really explored Canada, and of course I’d never snowboarded in Whistler BC, which is ranked as the #2 place to snowboard in the world. Was I incredibly excited? Heck yes. I also got to knock off my list visiting Seattle in the same trip, which was just a super awesome extra plus. My close college group of friends and I had talked about visiting Seattle as our 5-year reunion (which is this year) but decided the less financially burdensome option was to just visit our old stomping grounds: Atlanta, GA. So Seattle was still a city I’d never been to but wanted to go.

What can/should I say about the trip? Despite some pre-trip drama, it was amazing. The food was some of the best I’ve ever had. At times, I was at a loss to describe how wonderful it was. And of course, I once again improved in my efforts to become a better snowboarder. I truly wish I were going on another boarding trip this year, because at the end of our third day on the mountain, I was feeling awesome and having a blast. To be somewhat fair, I also partook in some recreational happiness whilst on the mountain this time. (In fact, this whole trip was pretty much like that.) Though it definitely wasn’t just because of that, I can’t discredit the potential influence it may have held in my relaxed and more confident abilities down the mountain.

I think mostly my improvements came from trying out a few different boards from my own. My friends and I kind of swapped around boards the last day (and partly the second to last day) just to see how each other’s felt and consider adjustments to our own. I had a surprisingly easy time carving/kicking with a relatively pliable and scratched up board. Because of how easy it was to switch heel-toe on it, I ended up improving my confidence in doing so which transferred to my/other boards as well. Totally worth the switching to see those differences transfer over.

We were fortunate with the weather (though perhaps a few days before we arrived would have been even better). Rain came the day after we finished on the mountain, so we were able to get some powder in, albeit melting by the end of it and somewhat clumpy because of some previous rainfall. Still, some of the runs had some of the smoothest, fullest powder I’d ridden on in years. I have to say, the first day was the best weather, but the most crowded sadly. The second day was supposedly a national holiday for Canada and so everyone kept telling us it would be super crowded, but compared to the day before (which was a Sunday/weekend) it was a lot less. And yet, our third day (Tuesday, non-holiday) it was even emptier than the day before. We were told there were times you wouldn’t see more than five people on the mountain since Whistler tends to be an international hot spot with varying travel peaks, and I could totally see how that could be true on our last day.

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Whistler Blackcomb mountaintop (this is Whistler mountain respectively)

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the fallen snowboard… there was so much snow it went past our knees walking

As for the food, we started off with some Cambodian food in Seattle when we landed. While definitely not the best of the trip, it set us off on a decent route in terms of exploring around. We also hit up a ton of bubble tea shops (with our ever challenge of who has to go to the bathroom first) before heading up to Canada. To clarify, we flew into Seattle, had some food/tea and loaded up on fun things (because apparently liquor costs more in Canada?), then drove up, spent three days on the mountains, one half-day after in Vancouver, and about 2-ish days in Seattle. In between on one of the mountain days, we headed into the city (Vancouver) and ate ramen – Kintaro Ramen. Again, not the best of the trip (and not the best ramen I’ve had either), but satisfying after a day of snowboarding. Plus it was cool to see a bit of the Asian community in Vancouver.

Speaking of Asians in Vancouver, it’s super real y’all. I seriously felt like I was visiting an Asian country (a first world one anyways) half the time because of how many Asians there were. I mean, I know people have told me a lot of Asians live there (from all over, not just Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc), but wahsai! Anyways.

On our actual exploratory day in Vancouver (which it rained, killing part of our ability to explore), we went to a recommended Japanese sushi restaurant – Miku. And this is where we first start the explosions of foodgasms. Their pressed sushi (aka oshi sushi) was incredible. Most of us got an assortment to try them all out (and we swapped pieces if we were missing out), and it was amazing. In addition to the awesome sushi, we had beautiful desserts that were just as tasty. One of the people on the trip is sadly allergic to fish, so while he couldn’t enjoy in the sushi, he definitely loved the desserts.

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oshi sushi from Miku <3 it was amazingly delicious

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one of the two beautiful desserts from Miku that were as tasty in design and to the palette

From there, we also tried Japadog – Japanese styled street hot dogs. While I can’t say it was as amazing as Miku’s oshi sushi, it was definitely cool to try it out. It’s always awesome to discover food with other people who like to eat. I’ve never been one to call myself a foodie (despite some other people’s claims), but if it gets me with more food-minded people then I’m down. Yay food!

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three (of the four) Japadogs we got along with the shaken fries and their poutine fries as well

We dined in Seattle that night and boy was it amazing. We were able to make reservations to an amazing (and highly recommended) Malaysian restaurant called Kedai Makan. Once again, our food exploration was perfect. We each got a different dish (and also decided to partake in some very interesting herbal shots due to their rather fun names) and kept swapping them around. Every dish was delicious, and in the end we had a ton of fun and left incredibly satisfied. Oh, and the place serves free milk tea while you wait/dine! Strangely(?), pretty much all the Asian restaurants we went to in Seattle provided us with some sort of complimentary beverage beyond water (the Cambodian place provided free Jasmine green tea, Kedai Makan provided free milk tea). I don’t know if they’re saying something about Seattle’s water, or just their way of servicing customers. Either way, we greatly enjoyed it. Our overall experience at Kedai Makan was probably one of the best food (not including the drinks) ones on the trip, with the food coming in close second for me. The shots (named Strength and Stamina, Longevity, Healing, and the Mother aka combo of all of the above) were definitely not as enjoyable to take (we semi Russian roulette took them), but made for fun times.

Malaysian food, sharing is caring, food, foodie, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington

our four AMAZING Malaysian dishes (the pork bone soup came with the side of rice)

Afterwards, we found ourselves randomly at an arcade room with a very… well, let’s just say the bartender/worker did not want to be there or be bothered. We had tried to get into a speakeasy called Knee High Stocking Co. initially, but while standing outside it’s unassuming door, a worker came out and told us they were no longer accepting more patrons for the night. Thus, we chanced upon the game room. Having ordered some drinks, we all played The Simpsons until whatever change we had on us was used before going to a place called Pie Bar and ordering more drinks. The server there was incredibly friendly and provided us with lots of information to Seattle’s night life. We learned quickly (from her and from our own perusing) that Seattle doesn’t really get up and hopping until at the earliest Thursday (it was a Wednesday night) and really lives it up Friday-Saturday. Understanding that we were unlikely to find any cool night life that night, we ended our night.

Our next day started at Sweet Iron Waffles: a humble start to a very long day of eating. The only place I absolutely insisted upon visiting (to eat) while in Seattle was Pike’s Place for their clam chowder. So, of course, we headed there relatively early to check out the market. We went to Mee Sum Pastry for some hom bow as things were still getting set up and opened. We also “checked out” the original Starbucks… While this doesn’t really hold much to me (as I’m not a Starbucks lover), I can appreciate its “awesomeness” to an extent. And that extent is to go look at it when there’s no line, take a picture (ish) so I can tell my sister (who does love Starbucks), and be able to say I did go there. For about an hour, we just explored the market and took pictures until Pike Place Chowder opened up. It definitely lived up to the hype. While I would have preferred a bit more kick to my chowder, I definitely still enjoyed it. Definitely would’ve been okay with going back that day for it (though we didn’t). Afterwards, we happened upon Rachel’s Ginger Beer, where we grabbed some drinks before heading to MoPOP (Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture).

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do you spy the JUMBO lobster tail on the left side? and ALL the crab? My eyes were in heaven. If only I could take some home

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the original clam chowder from Pike Place Chowder. #1 in the US years running

Maybe it was just me, but I really enjoyed visiting MoPOP. I probably could spend a whole day or more there, especially listening to all that music. It definitely hit some of the inner nerd in me with its fantasy/horror/Star Trek (well, kinda on that) side, and of course its music section was really cool. We also had a lot of fun with their games section. Some games in there were quite interesting. Definitely a cool place to visit.

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the initial display for the horror museum section of MoPOP

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one of the music artworks at MoPOP near the music section

After MoPOP, we went back to Pike Place and decided to get some Chinese wraps at Country Dough. It didn’t quite live up to expectations and unfortunately the place itself was near some renovations that was definitely bothering one of the workers, but regardless we kept on. We checked out the famous gum wall… Why this was an amazing thing some people decided to create is still beyond me, but once again the best I can say is that at least I’ve been there. We tried this place called Alibi Room (I think?) which sadly I ordered a crab dip (to share) and ended up not being able to stomach it due to their use of onions in it. Sigh. They did have a decent spicy mac and cheese if I recall though. I’ll be honest, I don’t fully recall if we went to Pike Brewing Company after that or Elliott’s Oyster House, but in any case we went to those. The oysters were mostly only okay with the last one that we ordered being the best (aka happy hour was ehh, not really worth it). I believe it was from Hunt Island? Or something Island in Alaska. That oyster was good, the rest (from happy hour)… were okay. Paired with a super light white wine, it went alright.

Another moment of honesty: I definitely did not get something at each place we went to nor drink at each place mentioned. While most of my party did, my tolerance definitely is not up to par (which I am totally okay with) and I tried to conserve my appetite at least a little bit. In the end, it probably was for the best as we ate so much overall.

The epitome of foodgasm on this past trip had to have been from Radiator Whiskey and their incredible fried pork shank. We originally went there for their smoked half pig head and then spotted their turkey drum confit, but ultimately decided upon this loss-of-words pork shank. I will totally hype it up for anyone because I think it was that amazing for us all. Granted, okay, we had all been drinking, but still. Ultimately, that was definitely what I thought was the best food on this trip. I am still at a loss of words as to how to describe how amazing it was. Anyways, our night was completed with finally going to that speakeasy (which was much too quiet for our group), multiple attempts at bars and clubs including some karaoke at Rock Box, and definitely meeting randoms in the gaybourhood (though the people we ended up talking to at the end of the night weren’t gay).

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this picture doesn’t do it justice. the “I don’t even know” pork shank

The next day, we packed up, went back to Uncle Ike’s (we visited before we went to Canada on day one), and ate at Mike’s Noodle House as our final meal in Seattle. I must say, Seattle’s eats are quite tasty. If you’re ever able to, I’d recommend Moxey mints. And I’ve now learned that CBD is legally sold in all 50 states, though most effectively used when slightly combined.

I didn’t mean for it to be a total stroll down my whole trip, but alas I am a rambler and really bad at not including as much detail as I can. Because leaving out certain details definitely changes the way things are interpreted, so even with my full on summaries, they’re definitely still missing bits and written in a way to be a little less obvious to certain things, I think. Or maybe I am just kidding myself haha.

Beyond that trip, we came back to Dallas for the weekend. The weekend itself was just a slight extension from the trip, with a lot more sleeping though. While some unexpected things/moments occurred, as I mentioned from the beginning, I’m left with a fun and amazing experience with no regrets.

Considering how long this post already is, I think I’ll have to end it as is and write my other thoughts/things another time. This post is already quite full. But here’s some future considerations I’ve got lined up: I’m thinking about making some music-focused and possibly some food-focused posts. Like I mentioned before (and in my about me), I love music and food. I love finding new music and finding new food places. This extends to all types of music and all types of food (drinks included). I’ve been told before to do this, and while I’m much too inconsistent of a blogger to be of great value, with my current schedule I figured I could at least attempt it, even if just for my own sake of saying I tried. It’s still a considerations I am pondering, but just something I thought I’d suggest.

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