About 3 years ago I suggested to my daughter that we go on a road trip the summer before she started high school. I said we could go anywhere in the US she wanted to go. In hindsight I’m lucky she said Graceland because it could have been somewhere so far I would have had to ask her to pick something else. But, luckily she picked Graceland which is far, but not crazy far from Miami. And three years later she has never wavered from wanting the road trip to Graceland.
This year she starts high school. Holy shit. And even though I was nervous and hesitant, I grit my teeth and decided to push through and head out. A decision I only finalized two days before we left when I finally decided on a route and reserved some hotel rooms.
You can see the pics in the links below. I’ve divided them into smaller, easier categories. And you can read a short version of the experience under the cut below the links.
Read all about the trip :
not sure Pee-Wee prepared me for this.
I just got back from PAX South in San Antonio, TX. Now, as a minority, I always try to be conscious of where I’m traveling. And, sorry for the offense, but Texas has a bit of notoriety. It’s obvious anywhere I travel in the US that I’m part of some minority. I figured I’d be more likely to be labeled “Mexican” in a state bordering Mexico. And since I was going to be inside the Alamo, I was maybe hypersensitive when I arrived. So perhaps take this post with a grain of salt.
After five days in San Antonio I can with surety say, I’m happier in Miami. It was very confusing for me over there. I have never, not even in Bloomington Indiana, felt so hyperaware of being Hispanic. It’s not like I was getting stared at or anything as I walked around town. I really can’t explain the feeling of “other” I had. Statistics showed that even though the majority of residents there are Hispanic, Spanish speakers are in the minority. That means when a cashier tried to explain to her manager in Spanish that I had made a mistake instead of her, she might have actually been shocked when I joined the conversation in Spanish as well.
But the pinnacle of “oh my god did I miss a confederate flag at the entrance” moment was my first day at PAX South. I was at the game pitch panel when someone suggested a game that revolved around Texas seceding from the Union, eliminating Mexican influences from Texas, and patrolling the great big wall that would separate them from Mexico. Was he trying to be funny? Perhaps. But being surrounded by a crowd who jumped up, started clapping and shouting “USA, USA, USA!” made me want to slowly crawl out the door. Especially since it was my first day in town. Not sure how you can chant USA over and over again in cheer of seceding.
But honestly, for the most part, everywhere we went people were very polite. And most of the time, it seemed sincere. My cousin lived in Houston so I’m willing to give Texas the benefit of the doubt. It’s not like Florida doesn’t turn into a red state every once in awhile. The guy with the game pitch called Austin a “hippie town” with disdain and my co-worker said Austin was pretty cool. So maybe I’d have better luck there.
So, since I always try to gauge “would I live here” when I have to travel for work (yes, PAX South was work), I don’t think I’d make it in San Antonio.
Here is the first time I talk about visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios But Universal Studios is actually two different theme parks in a brilliant and very obvious way to make money. And so then they went and built a second Harry Potter (this one is Diagon Alley while the original is now known as Hogsmeade) area so both parks would have some Harry Potter space and if you want the full experience, by god are you going to have to pay for it.
Unless you are me, and have a hook-up to get in for free at least this one time. Otherwise I don’t know when I ever would have visited. Universal Studios can be more expensive than Disney, but if you are over the age of 12 then the price difference is worth it because they got the good stuff over here and as much as I love Space Mountain, that Hogwarts ride still beats it in my book. But I already talked about how much I love what is now called the Hogsmeade side, so I’ll spend this post talking about Diagon Alley.
I did absolutely zero research on this before going. I didn’t know anything about it except that it existed and that there was a working train. I’m going to tell you, I am so glad I didn’t know shit. Because I walked in there and I wish I had a picture of my face because I’m positive I looked like Harry Potter walking into Diagon Alley with Hagrid in Book 1. So here’s my recommendation. Don’t read the rest of this post and when you visit go to the Universal Studios side first, the Diagon Alley side. Then take the train from there (the train entrance is next to the entrance to Diagon Alley) to Islands of Adventure and ride the Hogwarts ride. If you do nothing else do those things.
I solemnly swear I am up to no good
Since I was in Portland for work, not play, there were a very limited number of places I could go due to time. I was only there five days. So here’s a list that you could collectively go through in a short amount of time.
Places: Lloyd Center, McMenamin’s, OMSI, Namaste, Floating World Comics, Old Town Pizza, Powell’s Book Store, Voodoo Doughnuts, Huber’s Cafe, Home Plate Sliders
Keep Oregon Weird
I just got back from Portland, Oregon. Here’s the first blog on the subject.
By the last day of my five days in Portland, as I stood next to the rail stop on Skidmore, I realized something. Portland is exactly the kind of city I wanted to live in when I was a teenager.
I say I’m from the Nirvana generation. My friends and I grew up dreaming of being in Seattle and being old enough to have seen all our favorite bands back when they were getting started on the scene.
But Miami’s culture is different than what we imagined Seattle would be like. I’ve heard people say Miami has no culture, but the truth is, Miami has one culture – Latin America (which yes, is lots of different peoples). It meant that our favorite bands sometimes didn’t bother to come south far enough to Miami. They wouldn’t have had the numbers here that they’d get in other places and so they stopped in Jacksonville and then went west or north.
We hated living here.
I was only in Portland five days, so maybe I took away the wrong impression of the town. I was walking around in flannel surrounded by youth who looked either grunge, hippy, or like nerdy hipsters. The streets were dirty and wet. It was kind of cold. The bookstore had so many books I would never find here I almost had to buy a second suitcase. I was in a comic book store full of zines from local artists and writers. The public transportation system was amazing. I went to a haunted pizzeria. Walking around downtown Portland I realized this was my teenage dream.
However, I’m grown now. Miami still frustrates me like crazy, but I don’t think Portland is the place for me either. I love their slogan, Keep Portland Weird, and everyone was oddly polite (to someone from Miami). I love the idea that I could go hunt Bigfoot in the area. I’m sure Portland is great, I had a great time there, but I don’t really think I fit in. As for fourteen year old me, she’s still waiting to see Seattle.
Up next, Portland II -Keep Portland Weird