Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Travel Snapshot- Cafe Du Monde New Orleans

This Tuesday travel snapshot takes me once again to the fluffy fried sugary deliciousness of beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.  I know it's touristy, but you cannot visit New Orleans without trying one of these.  While your at it have a chicory coffee too

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Parents Guide To YALLfest

If you are not familiar with YALLfest you are probably asking yourself
What is YALLfest?
YALLfest 2014 and Blue Bicycle Books

YALLfest is one of-if not the largest young adult book events in the country.  It takes place in Charleston South Carolina every November.  It is put on by a fabulous little bookstore on King Street called Blue Bicycle Books.  Last year, there were approximately 60 authors that took part.  There are book signings, panel discussions and other fun events crammed into a two day event.  YALLfest is THE place to be if you are a book nerd or generally consider yourself a fan of the YA genre. Last year there were literally thousands of book nerds that attended. It is honestly something to see!

I just happen to have a 16 year old book nerd living under my roof. My daughter read about 130 books last year alone so I think she qualifies for the queen of book nerds if there is such a title. She LOVES books and I guess when other girls her age obsess over clothes and boys, she spends all her money on books.  This is not a bad thing. In fact, being a reader myself, I love the fact that my child spends all her free time reading. There are worse things she can be doing.

So, getting back to YALLfest. Coming from Wisconsin we decided to fly to Charleston because of time restraints.  The only problem with that was we were carrying about 50 hardcover books with us to be signed by various authors.  Yes you heard me FIFTY books!  Because of weight restrictions we divided those books up into 2 of our large size suitcases.  Thank goodness we were not gone for a week since we had little room left for clothes. By the way, did you ever try lifting a suitcase containing 30 hardcover books? I said a little prayer of thanks to the people who came up with the wheels on the bottom of the suitcase! I think the shuttle driver at the airport threw his back out lifting those suitcases.

This brings me to my first piece of guidance for the YALLfest parent.....you are there for 3 reasons
1) To transport books back and forth that have been signed or need to be signed to your hotel/vehicle/vacation rental. Some people do not do this. They just wheel their large suitcases with them all day from event to event. This is not such a bad idea since your suitcase can make an excellent place to sit when you back needs a rest from all that standing in line.
2)  Be a body to stand in line for your child as they go from book signing to book signing. While they are standing in line at one signing, you are instructed to stand in line at another signing or to get wristbands for a big named author signing or panel discussion.
3) To bring food to your child as they stand in line.  There will be no time for an actual meal during the day. You either have to have a food runner (said parent) or go without food all day. Side note:  Charleston has the most excellent food! Especially little hole-in-the-wall bakeries!!!!
Believe me this 2 day event is not for the faint of heart. It is brutal, exhausting, and worth every minute of it!
My daughter Megan and her friend Grace waiting in line for a book signing

If as a parent you think you will have time to fit in a little sightseeing or shopping, you might have some time. We arrived in Charleston late Thursday night and I had most of the day on Friday, and although there are events going on Friday, I was free to explore on my own.  I could not be in such a beautiful city such as Charleston and not see things.  Saturday morning I went to the farmers market and made some purchases, but by around 10:00 I joined the ranks of parents as official line standees.
Even I got to meet my favorite YA author Rainbow Rowell

The last piece of advice I have is to either stay at a hotel downtown, or find an awesome vacation rental if you are traveling from out of town. You can do this through VRBO.com or airbnb.  We found a cute little 1 bedroom villa through VRBO right off of King Street. It was perfect!  It was an easy walk from all the events which basically all take place on or around King Street. I walked back and forth during the day all weekend exchanging books, dropping off purchases and just to use the restroom and have a 5 minute rest.
YALLfest has become so popular that they added another event for the west coast appropriately titled YALLwest for this year.
The best part...sharing fun times with your daughter
This years YALLfest takes place in Charleston November 13th and 14th. Follow YALLfest on Facebook for all the latest info plus see pictures from last years event.  I hope to see you there!  One last piece of advice, have fun, after all you are sharing something fun to do with your book nerd! Oh and make sure and wear comfy shoes!!!!

Meeting some of Megan's favorite authors

Saturday, March 21, 2015

New Orleans And Mardi Gras

IMG_0119Everyone must experience Mardi Gras at least once in their lives!  We spent two days in New Orleans the Thursday and Friday before Fat Tuesday.  Hubby and I were to set sail from there on the Saturday before and since we had never been to New Orleans, thought it would be fun to spend a couple of days checking out all the Mardi Gras festivities beforehand.
The first must do was chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde.  Then Thursday night we found a spot on St. Charles Street to catch our first parades.  It was a cold night and the parades ran late, but we caught lots of throws and had fun.  We ended up standing by a couple who were from outside New Orleans  and were more than happy to give us lots of history on the parades.
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We spent all day Friday exploring the French Quarter and observing all the craziness of Bourbon Street.

 IMG_0129 IMG_0124 I must say carrying all those beads around our neck was hard work. Of course I had a couple hurricanes to get me in the spirit.IMG_0065
IMG_0195We spent the afternoon roaming up and down Bourbon Street. Taking in the impromptu parades, catching beads and other sorted paraphernalia. Hubby proudly caught a decorated bra which is now displayed in his man-cave.  Yes, there was some bare chested women and even some less than fully clothed men and I really would  say Bourbon Street is not for young children, but honestly we had a blast and decided we would love to come back some day! I cannot forget to mention the food!  New Orleans has some of the best eating in the country. We had a couple of great meals. I had a fabulous Po Boy on Bourbon Street.
It was a great start to a fabulous vacation and even though there are still reminders of Hurricane Katrina around the city the spirit of New Orleans is alive and thriving in the people of this city.  I am looking forward to returning someday!