December 3, 2014

My Anti-Bucket List: 2014 Edition

We're all familiar with the concept of new year's resolutions, the practice of identifying things you want to accomplish in the next 365 days. On a larger scale, you have the bucket list of everything you want to do before you "kick the bucket." It can be a great motivational tool, but it always leaves room for disappointment.

I've never been satisfied with that kind of goal setting, so a few years ago I came up with an alternative: The Anti-Bucket List. Instead of a giant list of things you haven't done yet, the Anti-Bucket List is a list of things you've already accomplished. I do one every year, but the time frame is entirely up to you. What things have you already accomplished in 2014? Ever? Create your own, and take a moment to be proud of what you've done so far.

More examples:

The original Anti-Bucket List.
Anti Bucket List 2013

If you want to create your own, try my current photo editing website obsession: www.canva.com.

November 21, 2014

Lost Stories: American Idol


In 2013 I made the trek to Los Angeles. If you read my post from that show, then you know that I camped out. What I failed to include was the fact that we had to park in a parking garage a number of blocks away from the venue. The scenario goes like this: four of us arrive in L.A. We drop two of us off at the venue with our stuff, and the other two park the car. I'm with three California residents, yet somehow I'm in the half that gets to help navigate and park in a dark city I know nothing about. We check parking prices and finally settle for the 2nd or 3rd closest garage because it only requires approximately one month's pay vs. an entire year's salary.

The next morning, we go in pairs to return our sleeping bags to the car and put on normal clothes. Since only two of us parked the car and know where it is, I have the pleasure of trying to escort my friend back to wherever in the world we left it, and again, the navigation is on me. Everything looks different in daylight, but I'm finally proud to recognize the hill and slope of the garage that I'm positive we parked in. I'm also really proud to remember that we parked on level P2 because those are the little details I always forget to notice. We end up at the elevator at the same time as a man with a really nice car, and he's kind enough to hold the door for us.

In case you need the visual, we're in yoga pants, hoodies with the hoods up (bed head!), sunglasses we can't take off because our hands are full, and arms overladen with sleeping bags and pillows. We look like some undiscovered SNL sketch characters, but we smile and step on the elevator with the professional looking guy and hope he's not judging us too harshly. He presses a button and I'm about to ask him to press P2 when I realize there IS no P2. I assume I imagined the P and it was just level 2, so we ride to the 2nd floor with him.

At the second floor, two trendy musician looking guys get on. Behind them we can see what looks like an upscale office lobby, and a doorman reaches in to swipe a card and make a floor selection for them. Definitely not the level we parked on. It seems a little strange, but aside from verifying we're not in the right place, I don't think much of it. The guys are friendly and manage to start a polite conversation that feels like genuine interest rather than probing what kind of lunatics in hoods and sunglasses were let into their office building. We talk a little about Hanson and admit we camped out to see them, and the guys say they admire that kind of dedication. We tell them they should check out the show that night, and they leave us with a smile at the next floor and tell us to have fun.

They step off and are replaced with a few guys in business suits that thankfully select the ground floor, but not before we get a glimpse into the room they just left and the big shiny "American Idol" sign within. My friend and I exchange a silent glance and continue trying and failing to let our sleeping bag bundles blend in with the polished steel of the elevator as we realize we're standing in American Idol Headquarters in our pajamas.

The whole thing is pretty anti-climactic. We make it back down to the ground floor, get out, and finally find the correct elevator around a corner, wondering what American Idol contestants we just accidentally street teamed to. In my defense, it turns out we did, in fact, park on P2.

September 27, 2014

Why I Follow a Band:
The Moment that Makes it all Worth it

If I only ever write one good thing, I want it to be the description of how it feels to be in my favorite place in the world. I’m already disappointed, because no matter what I tell you, it won’t be good enough. I’ve always loved words and the infinite things you can say with them just by arranging them differently or choosing the perfect synonym and putting it in exactly the right place. They’re my favorite tools to work with, but you can’t build an ocean with a hammer and nails. Trying to tell you what I feel when I see a Hanson show is like trying to describe the taste of a hot dog to someone who has never eaten one. I could choose all the right words and make you see it in your head. You might be hungry and decide you want to try it, but there’s nothing I could ever say to make you taste it.

Even with all of the right words, there’s the issue of where to start, what angle to take. I could give you some fluffy adjectives like “unifying” and “transcendent” and “happy” and make it sound like a big kumbaya campfire sing-a-long where everybody loves each other because of a shared passion. I could go the scholarly route with a thesis and a specific end goal and start using examples to support my claims; you know, plant big light-up arrows all over the page to lead you to the conclusion I want you to reach --> “Hanson shows are ________!” Doing any of those things would offer you a deceptively limited perspective of what it’s really like. It would never fit in any blank.

I'm going to drop the outlines and tactics and just tell you.

There’s something intoxicating about being front row center, and all you can see is the band a few feet in front of you. There are a thousand people behind you and there’s an elbow in your ribs, and somewhere in your personal bubble, someone is singing really loud and off-key. Thanks to the general admission lottery, the girl pressed against your back is the same one you yelled at an hour ago for trying to cut you in line, and you’ll spend the next two hours blocking her from stealing your spot for the second time that day. You’re hot; you’re sweaty; you slept in a car or on a sidewalk or in a cheap hotel bed with three other girls—IF you slept at all—and right about now you’re seriously questioning why you put yourself in this situation over and over again. Maybe this is it, your last trip. Maybe you’ll grow up before the next tour.

And then the lights dim, and there they are. You feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with the opening chords, and it’s so familiar that it’s almost a part of the song; any song. Every song. It’s not a religious experience. Your feet still hurt and you’ll never be able to dedicate your full attention to the masterpiece in front of you because if you let your guard down, you’ll find yourself three rows back with an intimate view of some girl’s head. People will spill beer on you or scream obscenities during the quiet parts. You’ll have to yell at some girl to stop resting her camera above your head unless she wants to see it fly across the stage when you jump.

But the band will also play your favorite song, and you’ll dance and clap and forget to notice the other things. You’ll jump on cue and you’ll laugh with your friends when someone forgets the lyrics. During the guitar solo, you’ll grin and clap, and you’ll get a quick smile back in your direction. You understand that all it says is “thank you for having a good time.” You feed off of the band’s energy, and they feed off of yours. It’s this crazy symbiotic relationship that has nothing to do with how hot somebody looks in a suit or how suggestive the lyrics might be. It’s about a type of love, but not lust; it's an attraction to music and to a feeling and a moment bigger than any one person.

An adrenaline-induced high powers you through the show, and when it’s over, you crash hard. It was fantastic, it’s over, and now all that’s left to do is get in the car and drive to the next one because every single show could be your last, and no matter how many times you do it, you never really know what’s going to happen next. Every show you go to has the potential to be the best performance of their career, and by that logic, so does every show you miss. You live for the possibilities.

Click HERE to check out the first post in this series, "8 Reasons Why I Follow Hanson."

August 26, 2014

10 Reasons You Should Follow TSA on Instagram

If you're a frequent traveler, odds are TSA is synonymous with "I have room for my shaving cream or my liquid foundation, but not both." You know the struggle of the 3-1-1 rule. You know not to pack large scissors in your carry-on or to bring the water bottle you brought from home through security, but overall, TSA rules are not that hard. If you're like me, you've probably seen the detailed prohibited items list at some point and laughed to yourself thinking "why would anyone try to pack an ax anyway?", and you've probably rolled your eyes at the guy ahead of you in line that didn't take off his shoes and tried to bring a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi in his carry-on bag. Amateur.

But for every Pepsi-carrying travel newbie, there's some guy that thought it was okay to pack that ax, or a bag full of fireworks, or some medieval torture device you didn't even know existed, and TSA has seen it all. Here are 10 reasons you should follow them on Instagram.

1. The bomb and drug dogs are super cute when you're not the one they're chasing.




2. Batarangs. Who actually knew these were called "batarangs?"




3. Man, I don't have room for my knife AND my gun. What should I do?





4.This not-so-smart phone.




5. Lipstick tazer.




6. Lipstick knife. Don't mix these up with your real lipstick.




7. I'm not even mad; I'm impressed.




8. Ruh-roh.




9. "I just needed a haircut, I swear!"




10. And my personal favorite, the crazy cat-lady weapon of choice: Cat Knuckles.




Thanks, TSA, for keeping me safe, keeping me entertained, and keeping me suspicious of the human race and everyday objects.

August 5, 2014

Seven Things I'd Like to See at a Future Hanson Day Event


Every year, Hanson adds something new to their Hanson Day event schedule. There has already been a block party, after party, listening party, beer festival, art gallery, bowling, movie screenings, dinners, lectures, group photos, acoustic shows, electric shows, and so much more. It’s hard to imagine what they might think of next, but they’re always asking for feedback and thinking up new things to try.  I’m full of opinions (wanted or unwanted, but hey! I have a blog), so sticking to the topic of fun ideas and not veering into logistical changes, here are some events I’d love to see at a future Hanson Day celebration.

1. A museum-style gallery.

This is the number one thing I want to see that hasn’t been done yet. I loved seeing the piano from the "Lost Without Each Other" video the first year we went inside 3CG for the I Heart Hanson store.  Hanson must have some pretty cool artifacts from the last two decades stored away, and I’d love to see any they’re willing to show.  Awards, music video props, Zac’s first drumkit, etc. We’re all collectors of something, and I think showing the collectors Hanson’s own collection would be total nerd fun. This could work in conjunction with the art gallery to add extra content or be completely separate.

2. Laser Tag.

I don’t participate in the bowling, but I would be all over a “sport” that doesn’t require used shoes and lets me run around and shoot people for fun.

3. New material during the movie screening.

Whether it’s a brand new documentary or a bonus 10-minute behind the scenes clip made exclusively for fan club members at the event, showing me something I’ve never seen before is the key to squeezing ten extra dollars out of me. Bonus tip: Gag reels are the way to my heart.

4. A photo gallery based around past tours and events.

Crowd shots. Walk shots. Action shots during shows.  Hi, we’re vain. We like to find ourselves in pictures and see pictures from shows we were at. You don’t have to sell them to us, but many of us would buy them too if given the opportunity.

5. More lectures behind the scenes of songs.

 Show us earlier versions of songs with different arrangements like Isaac’s “Underneath: Naked” lecture this year.  Tell us about lyrics that changed before the final version, like “tragic symphony,” which was ultimately a genius lyrical fluke, or the cat-killing joke that turned into “Misery.” It will never happen, but my inner English teacher would love a lyrical analysis lecture where we find out the meaning of songs.  Take a vague song or two, put the lyrics up on a screen, and line by line tell me what they mean and how they came to be. Lyrical Analysis 101, please! (Or give Taylor a lecture called “Behind the Veil of Vague.”)

6. A “Stories Will Be Told” lecture.

Dig into the Hanson vault of infinite recorded footage we’ll never see. Pull out 5-10 memorable moments that were captured on camera, and do a Buzzfeed-style countdown where you show them to us and tell us about them. On-stage pranks, great collaborations with guest performers, inspiring moments on walks, etc. I’ve seen some amazing things happen at Hanson shows; I’ve seen professional cameras around, and I’m sure there’s plenty more that I haven’t seen. Or turn it into a “Hanson Does Stupid Stuff on Video,” America’s Funniest Home Videos style compilation. (I realize this entire bullet is asking for a LOT of extra editing work and falls into the category of things that will never happen but are fun to think about).

7. A cheesy photo-op backdrop at the afterparty.

 If the afterparty is going to feel like prom, can we have a cheap cheesy backdrop where we can take pictures with our friends? I don't mean prom-style photos with Hanson or supplying us with a professional photographer to take the photos, but just some silly little designated space where fans can take group pictures with friends. The awkward prom pose opportunities are endless.

And I won’t say I want to see it, but I’m afraid the Zac equivalent of Taylor’s photo lecture would be projecting a video game onto a massive screen and having fans come up and play against him.

What events and lecture topics would you like to see happen at a future Hanson Day celebration?

July 13, 2014

Travel Tips: How to Use Priceline for Hotels



This post marks the beginning of a new series here on travelingfan.net that I’m calling “Travel Tips.” Each post will focus on one aspect of travel—how to save money on various travel needs, gear reviews, useful items to take, etc. Keep an eye out for future installments and feel free to offer topic suggestions (and start thinking about tips of your own for a future “Travel Tips from Other Traveling Fans” post).

A few months back, I wrote a blog called Spend Less; Travel More: Six Tips for Saving Money on the Road. Tip #4 was “Don’t pay full price for hotel rooms” and talked a little about how to use discount sites to save on hotels.  I’m a big fan of Priceline and have had people ask me how to use it effectively, so I think a more in-depth guide is a great way to begin this series. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using Priceline:


1. Simply searching for hotels by date and city will most likely NOT save you money.

This seems to be a common misconception for first-time Priceline users. I’m guilty of treating Priceline like a travel search engine, a place I can input my trip details and generate a list of results from all over the internet in one stop. This is essentially all you’re doing by using the search options offered on Priceline’s homepage. Yes, it’s quicker and easier than going to every hotel chain’s website individually, but the majority of the time if you see a room being offered for $89/night on Priceline, you can then go to the hotel’s own website and find the same room for $89/night.  Once in a while you'll find a real deal in Priceline's listings, but if you’re not saving any money, always book directly through the hotel or airline. If issues arise, it’s easier to deal with the company directly than having to go through a third-party site first. Original hotel sites often have more generous cancellation policies, too.

2. Read the fine print.

Priceline’s offers and policies will not always match those offered directly by the hotel, and they won’t always match other offers on Priceline, either. Some Priceline rooms are refundable, and some are not. Sometimes freebies on amenities like parking and wi-fi are offered, and sometimes they aren’t—even if you got them in the past at the same exact location through Priceline.  Details change, so just read it all before you pay and make sure you know what you’re buying.

3. Priceline deals work best when you have your own transportation.

Both Express Deals and Name Your Own Price require you to book a non-refundable hotel before learning the exact address. If you’re driving or flying in and renting a car, this won’t be an issue. If you’re planning to use public transportation you don’t want to find out that the hotel is actually located 10 minutes beyond the last subway stop, or wind up having to pay for a longer than expected taxi ride that cancels out any savings you got on the hotel room.

I once used Express Deals to book a hotel “Downtown” in a city where “Downtown” usually means everything is within walking distance. We got a great deal on a hotel about a 5 minute drive from downtown—but on a freeway. Thankfully we DID have a car, but our trip would have been a nightmare if we had to walk everywhere or call a taxi every time we left the room. The loophole here is if the only transportation you will need is to and from the airport, you can select an unnamed hotel with a guaranteed airport shuttle.

TL;DR: Don’t use Express Deals or Name Your Own Price unless you have a car, or choose a listing in Express Deals that guarantees an airport shuttle in the amenities.

4. Name Your Own Price.

This is the tool that made Priceline a household name (and taught today's generation of kids to recognize William Shatner). The bidding page can look a little intimidating at first, but it’s pretty straightforward once you understand how it works. After you’ve put in the dates of your stay and the city, you’ll be presented with a page with three steps.

Step 1: Choose where you want to stay.

Each city on Priceline is broken up into smaller regions like “airport” and “downtown.” The regions will be in a numbered list next to a corresponding map. You can click each area on the map for a close-up view of that region’s boundaries. If you select a specific region, your hotel is guaranteed to be somewhere within that area on the map.

Step 2: Choose the star level for your hotel.

You can choose between 1 and 4 stars as your MINIMUM star rating. Sometimes you’ll get bumped up to the next star rating automatically if one fits your price and selected region, but you’ll never be downgraded. (ex. I put in a bid for a 3-star hotel and was given a 3.5 star hotel, but you’ll never bid for a 3-star and get stuck with a 2-star.).

Step 3: Name Your Price.

You can name any price you want. To have some hope of being accepted, you’ll want to shop around and see what the advertised prices for hotels in that area look like. Priceline advertises NYOP deals as being “UP to 60% off,” so calculating 60% off of an average priced hotel in the area is a good place to begin.


Bidding Tips:

You can only bid the same set of details once per 24 hour period, so aim for what you want most first, then branch out to what you're willing to accept. Pick the highest hotel rating you think you can afford (I usually start with 3.5 or 4), pick one area you want most, and make a low bid. If your bid is rejected, you will be prompted to change at least one detail in the first two categories for the chance to bid again. This means if you want to make another bid without waiting 24 hours, you'll need to either 1) add in a second region in step 1, or 2) choose a lower star rating (this is why you start high). You'll probably also want to raise your bid by at least a few dollars to increase your odds. Repeat these steps until either your bid is accepted or you exhaust the details you're willing to accept, and then try again tomorrow.

Obviously the earlier you begin bidding, the more chances you'll have to work up to a bid that will be accepted. If you don't have days or weeks to bid, tag team the bidding with anyone splitting the room with you. Keep track of your bid details and if one person fails, the next person can bid on the same day and avoid using the same details you used that were rejected.

(Shoutout to the one time we managed to put in a successful bid literally five seconds before the 11 PM same-day deadline. Double shoutout to Hanson for canceling a show with no notice and putting us in that situation with no place to stay. We survived; there was a free breakfast bar with bacon; all is forgiven.)

5. Express Deals.

Express Deals are Priceline's version of Hotwire's Hot Rates. You still don’t get to see the name of the hotel, but you don’t have to bid and it's not so intimidating. You choose dates and a location, and Express Deals will offer you a list of hotels available on those dates and show you the star rating, guaranteed amenities, and price. You can further narrow results by selecting a certain region or amenity. (This is my go-to deal for when I'm flying in somewhere and won't have a car, but will need airport transportation. I choose the "airport" region and "airport shuttle" under amenities). The discounts aren't always as cheap as bidding, but it's much easier to use, and if you're like me and occasionally find yourself on the way to a destination with no place to stay that night, Express Deals on the Priceline App are a quick and easy Godsend.

If you want to become a real Priceline guru, you can also look into sites like betterbidding.com that offer data compiled from consumers into lists of likely results for bidding. Be aware that it's not 100% accurate and consider it an educated guess from bigger travel nerds than myself.

There are plenty of ways to mess up and get stuck with a room you don't want with any discount hotel service, but if you're a relatively flexible, easy-going traveler, there are some great deals to be had.






June 16, 2014

MUSIC MADE FOR HUMANS
(with songs reviewed by a fan)


Odds are if you’re reading this, you’re aware that Hanson has an official fan club. If not, congratulations, you’re one sentence in and you’ve already learned something new today. It’s $40/year ($50 international) and includes a “membership kit” (EP + fan club card), access to exclusive forums on hanson.net, and a slew of other potential perks provided they happen within your year of membership. For someone like me that frequents the forums to connect with other fans, travels to plenty of Members Only Events, and can't imagine not having on a ton of extra EP songs, the price is worth it year after year. Dear 16 year old me who would have mercilessly taunted someone in a Hanson fan club, get over yourself. The joke's on you in 10 years anyway.

This year's EP, MUSIC MADE FOR HUMANS (WITH ROBOTS TRAINED BY MONKEYS), made its debut in Tulsa last month for Hanson Day. Now that most fan club members have had a chance to receive it and give it a listen, here's my review.

1. ON THE ROAD

Take Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again," put it in a minor key, wipe some of the audible smiles out of it and you get this song. It's less a celebration of life on the road and more a cautionary tale. It warns "You'll pay the toll, if you have a pretentious soul," among other sage advice for anyone choosing music and the traveling lifestyle it demands. You can practically hear the desert and dust in the guitar.

It also has one of my favorite lyrics on the EP:
"And there is no destination but the journey you are on."

2. SHOW ME THE WAY

Take the last line "I may not be a dancer, but I just can't wait to try" and substitute "Michael Jackson" in place of "dancer." I won't be the first or last to make the comparison, and I think Taylor did a pretty decent job of bringing out some MJ vibes in this song.

3. WHAT'S YOUR NAME

It's neat getting to hear Isaac branch out and showcase his falsetto, something we don't hear often if ever. I want to love this song but the truth is, at no fault of Isaac's vocals, it's just not my favorite (today, anyway. Hi, I'm fickle). The picture it paints is a little too close to other Hanson songs for me. Something about the line "dressed so fine you could make me blind" was bothering me, and I finally realized it's because if you rewind back to another Isaac lead on another EP, you'll hear the lyric "You know that skirt's so short your eyes could bleed." It's an occasional skip song for me on the CD, but I did enjoy it more live.

4. PANIC IN THE STREETS

This is the earworm track, the one you can love or hate but you're going to be singing it regardless. Luckily, I happen to like it. My only complaint is I wish I had a better understanding of what this song is actually about. The past is catching up to somebody, but who and in what context? I do think it's interesting that the song is written in the perspective of the people that are carrying out the apparent justice being served. "We know your secrets." "We're gonna take what's left of your soul." "Tonight we ride." They're a united front against something and a force to be reckoned with if you're the guilty party. Pray it's not you.

5. WHITE COLLAR CRIME(S)*? 

"White Collar Crime" is my personal favorite from this year's EP. It's satirical and pokes fun at anyone with a get-rich-quick scheme way of thinking as Zac tackles the persona of that guy forever stuck on the verge of the next big thing. Props to Zac for being able to sing the line "I got my M&P and I.P.O. in R&D. Ain't no competition, I'm the whole entire industry" without getting tongue tied. They nailed this song live and it was a great way to end the set of new EP songs with a bang.

*The "S" gets an asterisk/question mark because the title is written as "White Collar Crime" on the back of the CD case and in iTunes, but "White Collar Crimes" in the lyric booklet.




May 30, 2014

Thirteen Quotes that "Get" Music & Travel

I’m a lover of words, music, and travel; it’s the trifecta that led to this blog in the first place. I’m also constantly on the lookout for that perfect sentence someone else has already constructed, whether it’s a great lyric, a quote from a book, or even just a really ingenious tweet (major props if you can actually find the perfect words in 140 characters or less).

A few years ago I hit the road for an entire month of tour and needed to pack a notebook to write down addresses and expenses. I wanted something cheap that could get ruined in a trunk or on a wet sidewalk without being a big deal, so I skipped the ornate, overpriced Barnes and Noble travel journals and went straight for a replaceable 88 ¢ composition notebook at Wal-Mart with the intent to make it my own. With a little internet research, construction paper, and glue, I had the perfect unique travel journal for under $5. It’s cheesy and lame and covered in handwritten quotes about travel and music that I absolutely love.

So if you love music and travel like I do, here are 13 quotes where someone else already nailed that perfect description:

  1. “Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness.”
    –Ray Bradbury

  2. “I have found that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” 
    Mark Twain

  3. “Little by little, one travels far.”
    –J.R.R. Tolkien

  4. “Do you think I’ve gone ‘round the bend?”
    “I’m afraid so. You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret—all the best people are.”
    Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland

  5. “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”
    –Benjamin Disraeli

  6. From The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien:

    The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began
    Now far ahead the road has gone,
    And I must follow, if I can.
    Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
    Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say.

  7. “I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts, like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart.  Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene…a necessity for me—like food or water.”
    –Ray Charles

  8. “It’s not down on any map; true places never are.”
    –Herman Melville

  9. “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here.”
    –Albus Dumbledore

  10. From “The Vagabond” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

    Give to me the life I love,
    Let the lave go by me,
    Give the jolly heaven above
    And the byway nigh me.
    Bed in the bush with stars to see,
    Bread I dip in the river—
    There’s the life of a man like me,
    There’s the life forever.

    Let the blow fall soon or late,
    Let what will be o’er me;
    Give the face of earth around
    And the road before me.
    Wealth I seek not, hope nor love
    Nor a friend to know me;
    All I seek, the heaven above
    And the road below me.

  11. From “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost:

    I shall be telling this with a sigh,
    Somewhere ages and ages hence
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

  12. “The first music you really fall in love with is more than just music. It’s something that clicks in you beyond the song; it’s a message or image that causes you to jump in and not let go.”
    –Taylor Hanson


    And lastly, the unsourced tweet. I have no idea where it originated, but I couldn't leave it behind:


  13. A fan isn’t someone who has been there since the beginning; it’s someone who will be there until the end. 

May 25, 2014

Hanson Day 2014

Hanson Day/Hop Jam 2014 was by far the busiest experience I’ve ever had in Tulsa. Over the course of the weekend, we were treated to:

I took approximately negative four pictures this trip. Here's one of
the Hop Jam area filling up hours before the show.
-Individual lectures by Isaac, Zac, and Taylor
-Group photos
-“State of the Band” talk by all three brothers
-Full-length fan club exclusive show
-Afterparty DJed by Taylor
-Free public show at the Hop Jam festival
-Beer tasting & food trucks
-I  Hanson pop-up store
-Are You Listening art gallery
-Underneath Acoustic Live movie screening
-Fan Club & Street Team dinners
-Bowling (I passed on this one because I’m cheap and I can’t bowl)
-Blue Dome Arts festival
-Mayfest (I passed on this one because there are neither two of me, nor more than 24 hours in a day)

The lectures provided a rare glimpse behind the normal Hanson curtain. Isaac showed us alternative arrangements to several songs from Underneath punctuated by a really goofy sense of humor and lots of chicken jokes (yes, chicken humor). Zac had the guts to use pre-selected audience suggestions to record a brand-new song right in front of us that he wrote in like an hour. (You try telling a room of 1,000+ girls to “Shhh!” while you’re recording!) And Taylor’s photography lesson wasn’t really a behind the scenes look at their music process, but it was neat to watch this really talented musician do something else he loves for once.

I found this great typewriter key necklace at the
Blue Dome Arts Festival. I also found that if your
name begins with an "H" and you're a Hanson fan,
people will assume you got it for the band.
As expected, the fan club show was my favorite part of the weekend. It’s always a little weird to stand front row and rock out to a song you’ve never heard before when you’re so used to knowing every little inflection of every word in every verse. My initial reaction to the new EP songs was that “White Collar Crime” should be played as often as possible, and maybe back to back with “You Can’t Stop Us” some time if Zac’s lungs and arms can handle it. My door is always open for “Down,” “Stories,” and “Sunny Day.” And perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for me was just how much I got into “Waiting for This,” which I’ve heard about a million times in a million places, but it just felt so familiar and fun and right in that moment. It belonged on that setlist. The afterparty felt a lot like a bad prom in a good way—complete with the awkward wallflowers and a crowd sitting idly in the bleachers, but with the added bonus (for some) of alcohol actually being allowed. It was an event about us and not the band.

I don't think anyone knew what to expect for Hanson's first attempt at hosting a beer and music festival, but based on the thousands of people that showed up and the fact that ALL of the craft beer from all vendors sold out, I'd say the first annual Hop Jam was a major success. The 21+ area was packed full the entire time it was open, just wall to wall people filling the street wearing cheesy beer glass lanyards (I'm looking at you, Isaac) and hoping to discover a great new taste. I'm sure many of them found it in MMMhops.

My weekend was packed with Hanson, friends I didn't get to see enough of, and some really good macaroni & cheese (Joe Momma's FTW!). I will never, ever (EVER) complain of having too little to do in Tulsa again. All jokes and fake whining aside, it was a great time and I’d do it all again. Let’s be honest—I will do it all again.

You can check out some other perspectives about the weekend by Miranda from The Good Groupie here and here, and one from Melanie Kristy here.

At the risk of sounding sappy, I’m incredibly proud to call myself a fan of a band that works so hard at what they do. I don’t mean to be a suck-up, Hanson-can-do-no-wrong kind of fan because let’s face it, something will always go wrong (and sometimes “Hanson Time” feels like it has its own daylight savings time to push even “soon” yet another hour behind). Despite any potential negativity, it comes down to this: my favorite band rocks. I love their willingness to try new things, and their risk to branch out from what’s safe, known, and expected to put together something bigger and better every time. They throw themselves into everything they try full-force with undeniable enthusiasm and passion, and it's a formula that hasn't failed them yet. They’re some of the most hard-working people I know, and I haven’t even touched the topic of music yet. Say what you will about them or about me for that matter, but I couldn’t have picked a better group of guys to support.

May 14, 2014

Keep Calm and (Only) Carry-On: a Backpack Review

The Jansport & me in Jamaica, 2013
My trusty blue backpack has been with me through a lot of space and time. Together we've seen four time zones, three countries, and perhaps the furthest distance by now—the 7th grade. It’s held everything from sleepover PJs and Shakespeare anthologies to a full week's worth of clothes crammed into spaces you would never expect it to fit. It has truly been larger on the inside and an excellent companion to have by my side. If you’re nerdy enough to get the Doctor Who references, then you also know that there comes a time to say goodbye to every great companion. With one strap tied together and the other slowly ripping out of the seam, the Jansport has reached its limit.

Knowing how long it lasted and how many places it went, I set out to find the perfect replacement, a bag to make Mary Poppins proud. I took to the internet and researched travel backpacks, then familiarized myself with prices and styles and compiled a list of qualities I wanted out of my new companion:
  • Carry-on compliant. The non-negotiable bullet. If it measured more than 22x14x9, I closed the tab.
  • Flexible/No wheels or internal frame. I wanted something pliable that could be shoved under a seat if necessary or squished a bit in a full trunk.
  • No dedicated laptop space with extra padding. This one made the hunt a lot harder. I don’t normally travel with a laptop and a lot of the backpacks out there have built-in padded laptop compartments that eat up valuable packing space.
  • Capacity of at least 34 Litres or 2100 cubic inches. i.e., no smaller than my old Jansport.
  • Two large compartments. Why do all the backpacks out now only have one large compartment? Oh yeah, because of the dedicated laptop space.
  • Cute. I know, now I’m just being picky, but if I’m going to spend a decent amount of money on something I intend to use for years, then I get to add “cute” to the list.

The Solution
A backpack where the only thing larger than the capacity is the name: the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior. It met all of the above requirements and had the added bonus of being on sale (so naturally I added a set of hideously charming gummy bear packing cubes). I found an extra coupon code plus free shipping, and the decision was made.

The Test
So exactly how much does it hold? I'm packing for its maiden voyage, and tomorrow we set out for a five-day trip to Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, the rain comes out of nowhere, and if you're lucky the sun will make a quick appearance too--and that's just on Thursday. I planned outfits for every day plus a few backups, laid it all out, and hoped it would all fit.



The Conclusion
The capacity is excellent, but you have to be careful not to fill it to beyond carry on capacity. I will never use the expanding option if I'm carrying it on a plane, but the luxury is there if you can afford the added space. In general I travel with a carry-on bag and an extra (empty or mostly empty) tote bag that will fit under a seat so I have room for any items I might acquire on the trip. Everything on the packing list fit inside the backpack, but I opted to put the denim jacket and extra purse in the tote instead to cut down on some of the bulk. Even with the extra purse, jacket, and my filled regular purse, there is still plenty of room for me to come home with more things I don't need in the tote.

For anyone considering this bag AND packing cubes, I would recommend the small or slim cubes. Though the large cube does fit inside this bag, it fills the largest space completely, which to me is the equivalent of packing without one. The medium fills most of the inside and the small fit nicely with room to spare in the outer pocket.


The jury is still out on durability and comfort since I haven't left yet, but I'll update when I get home next week with a recap of the pros and cons of taking it out for a spin (as well as a new dorky picture, I'm sure).

Update 5/23/14: 

With everything listed above, the packed bag weighed in around 20 lbs, so I'm not going to lie to you and say it was a pleasure to carry and felt like nothing on my back. It felt like, well, 20 lbs going for a piggy back ride (it was sort of reminiscent of my days working with toddlers, only it didn't demand Skittles or kick me in the spine). And on the way home after I had spent all weekend lifting and moving things? It felt more like 47 lbs on my back, but then again I really can't blame the fact that I'm out of shape on my luggage choice.

In the positive column, it DID help me catch a connecting flight I fully believe I would have missed if I was lugging a suitcase. I landed in Atlanta around 9:10 PM. My connecting flight departed at 9:47, which means boarding began right around the time my first flight landed. My connection turned out to be two terminals away, and then an escalator and EIGHTEEN gates down from where the skytrain dropped me off. No moving sidewalks, no shortcuts, just a small, tired girl with a big backpack and very limited time. I pulled my usual move of weaving quickly in and out of slower pedestrians and managed to land myself in the boarding line just as my zone was called, and I did it all without taking anyone out by dragging a suitcase behind me. I'm sure there are many more tests for it to pass before I fully embrace it as the permanent replacement, but it served me well this weekend and I stand by my backpack choice.

Do you have a great travel bag? Tell me about it in the comments!

April 21, 2014

Underneath: How I Became a Hanson Fan

Ten years ago yesterday, Hanson released their third studio album, Underneath. It was their first independent album, and their first risk at taking complete control of their music career. Ten years and three independent albums later, I think it's safe to say it was a smart decision. Underneath debuted at #1 on the Billboard Independent chart and had a handful of other bragging rights, but you're welcome to visit Wikipedia for a more thorough lesson (or better yet, watch their documentary Strong Enough to Break).

Believe it or not, I'm not writing this to tell you a list of accolades Underneath has achieved in the last decade or how the songs have stood the test of time. This is a more personal story. Most of my posts here are related to traveling and seeing recent Hanson shows. For once, I want to rewind--not to 2004 when Underneath was released--but to 2006, the first time I heard it.

Maybe I should start by coming out of the closet. Hi, I'm Holly! And I haven't been a Hanson fan since 1997 like a lot of the hardcore fans in this fan base. Sure, I heard "MMMBop" in 1997, and I loved it. I had Middle of Nowhere on cassette, and I listened to it every day for hours on end. And then one day, I just didn't anymore. In fact I pretty much forgot about Hanson until 2006. Curiosity struck and one day I found myself Googling Hanson, wondering what in the world had happened to those three long-haired brothers that sang "MMMBop" and defined the summer before 4th grade.

What I found was that they were still making music, and their most recent album was called Underneath. I ended up at Wikipedia, the very same page linked up there in the first paragraph. I planned to skim the track listing and search a few of the titles on Youtube to get an idea of their new sound. So at 18 I sat there in my little dorm room, rediscovering this band that means so much to me now, and this was the very first thing that I read:
Track Listing:
1. Strong Enough to Break Wind
I'm not even kidding; that's how I got reacquainted with Hanson. All I could think was "Have they really gone that far downhill and taken some strange, uncharacteristic Weird Al turn?" (no offense to Weird Al, who is a lyrical genius as far as I'm concerned--but not just anyone can pull that off!) I almost closed the page and left Hanson right there in that 4th grade vault, but after a moment of harsh judgment, I kept reading to see what other ludicrous titles might accompany such an absurd first track. When I reread the list and realized my mistake, I stopped and laughed so hard that I cried. My eyes had somehow merged together "Strong Enough to Break" and "Dancing in the Wind," and to this day I think it's the best reading mistake I've ever made.

After I finished crying over my own stupidity, I eventually made it over to Youtube and heard "Broken Angel" and "Crazy Beautiful" for the first time, and that was it for me. If you ask a Hanson fan about the moment they became a fan, you'll get a lot of stories about the first time someone heard "MMMBop," a few mentions of Oprah and MTV, and some laughs about mistaking them for girls the first time. Truthfully, I don't remember how I discovered Hanson in 1997, but if there was a "moment" for me, it's this one, made up of Youtube and accidental potty humor and an album called Underneath. What a love story.

April 1, 2014

How To Tell Your Loved One That You're Going to Australia


1. Sit by idly and steep in your own jealousy when Hanson plays an Australian tour in 2012. The fact that it's the year Hanson decided not to tour the U.S. at all makes it hurt worse that you weren't financially prepared for this.

2. Start secretly stockpiling money so you can go the next time they return. (Now try saying "start secretly stockpiling" three times fast. No relevance--just funny.)

3. To build up excitement and keep yourself motivated in your savings goal, look at pictures like this:

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.04. 
4. And these guys:
Photo credit: fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au
5. Open up a separate savings account because you're GOING to go to Australia. It's happening, and it doesn't matter that you don't know if Hanson is returning in six months or six years. If you wait until tour dates are announced, there won't be time to save and you'll have to start back at Step #1.

6. Do internal flips when you're at a Hanson show in Vancouver in October 2013 and they FINALLY allude to returning to Australia "soon." You've been saving for almost two years now, and the slow churn of "soon" should be just enough time to afford your dream vacation.

7. When they finally announce tour dates in March 2014, it's time to write a blog post coming clean about your plans. Post it somewhere and tag your friends/family/significant other in it, or send them an email with the link to make sure they see it.

8. Allow 3-5 minutes of hyperventilation/intense anger/lamenting groans of anguish/jealousy/etc. from your chosen loved one. You've had a few years to get used to the idea; let them have a few minutes for it to sink in. (Hi Mom, Dad! Still love you! Hope the feeling is mutual.)

9. If the symptoms from Step #8 do not subside, comfort your loved one with the information that you've been saving responsibly for the trip. Ensure them that it is both safe and affordable and that you'll be traveling with a group of trusted, equally crazy friends. Remind them that you did this in 2012 before you went to Jamaica, and things turned out fine (except for when the bus broke down on the way to the airport, but leave that part out).

10. If symptoms still do not subside, refer your loved one to THIS IMAGE.

____________________________________________________________________
Update April 3, 2014, The Reaction:

One reaction I received from this "announcement" was better than I ever anticipated. On April 1st, I got up early for work and emailed the link to my dad. At best, I hoped for a stressful five minutes of reading time followed by a big sigh of a relief and some form of "haha, you got me!" (and probably a "that is SO like you"). I thought it would be your average lame attempt that only fooled anybody for about two skeptical minutes before the big reveal. What happened instead was pure April Fools' gold.

I got off work hours later and called Dad. It became clear within a few seconds of the conversation that he had indeed read the article--but not in full.

"Please tell me it's a joke," he said. Not so different from the reaction I got to the Jamaica article which was NOT a joke.

I just told him, "If you don't know the answer to that question, then you didn't read it all."

He admitted that he skimmed it but stopped reading because he had "already seen enough."

I told him to go back and read it again all the way through this time, and that as an ex-English teacher, I was pretty disappointed in his reading comprehension. At that point he had already believed it for hours and seemed unsure whether or not the "real" joke was that I was making it out to be a joke but was, in fact, going to Australia. Poor dad.

So to be clear, I am NOT going to Australia (this time ;-)), but I AM pretty pleased with my trolling abilities.

____________________________________________________________________

Update May 4, 2014. The prank that won't die:

Hi, me again. You thought this post was done a month ago? Me too. So what has happened in the month since April Fools' day in regards to this Australia trip? Nothing, because--and apparently I can't say this enough-- I'M NOT GOING. At some point in the last few weeks, I did decide it's time to replace the backpack I've been using as a carry-on item for trips. I can understand how maybe a sudden interest in new luggage might reignite my parents' suspicions of a big trip looming on the horizon, but the truth here is my 15-year-old Jansport is finally dying on me. The timing may be ironic, but the strap chose now to start falling off, and that just won't do.

I started researching travel backpacks to find the perfect fit, and I posted on Facebook about the one I chose. Innocent nerd talk about luggage ensued. Nothing of importance happened, or so I thought.

Fast forward to today, when my mom "admitted" that she had seen a friend's comment on Facebook about our new matching backpacks for our trip to Australia. Cue utter confusion on my end because--I'll say it again--I'M NOT GOING TO AUSTRALIA, and as such, there is no secret comment about our secret trip that my mom accidentally saw. True, I do have a friend going to Australia with her husband (in a trip completely unrelated to Hanson), and she did comment on my Facebook post about needing a new backpack. But I couldn't understand how my mom made the jump between me knowing someone going to Australia and me going with her.

Until I reread the comments:


Now if you're me, you know that the "we" my friend is referring to is her and her husband. But if you're my mom, it looks a whole lot like your daughter really is going to Australia and her friend just outed her on Facebook not knowing that her mom would see it. I have to say, I'm pretty delighted by the ambiguity in those comments and how much it really DOES sound like we're picking out backpacks to go to Australia together when taken out of context. I don't think I could have planned it better if I thought of it myself.

At this rate, I don't think my parents will fully believe I'm not going until August has passed. Even then, I should probably go visit a friend for a week just to keep up appearances, and then next April Fools' Day I can post a blog called "How To Tell Your Loved One That You Never Went To Australia."

Best April Fools' prank ever.

March 3, 2014

Spend Less; Travel More:
6 Tips for Saving Money on the Road



One of the most common misconceptions about traveling is that to travel far and wide, one must be rich. While having an excess of disposable income will certainly make travel easier (and more comfortable), it’s simply not necessary. I can sum up my travel motto in one word: FRUGALITY. Here are some of the best tips I use to make traveling more affordable.

1.  Pack well.


Don’t just make a packing list, make a thorough packing checklist and double-check that you followed it before you leave. How does a packing list help you save money? If you do it right, it keeps you from making your first destination a grocery store to pick up a new toothbrush, hair brush, and socks because you forgot to bring them.

Forget everything you’ve ever been told about only packing what you need. Figure out what you might not need and pack it anyway. The important distinction here is need vs. want. You might not need a rain coat—then again, you might find yourself in Seattle, $50 poorer with a new raincoat and boots because you wanted the packing space for more t-shirts (sad yet true story). I’m not saying load your entire trunk with snow shoes and beach towels; I’m saying suck it up and stuff in the umbrella you might not need instead of the cute wedges you wanted to bring. Ask yourself "If I don't pack this, what are the odds I'll make an emergency run to the store during my trip to buy one?" If odds are high, take it with you!

If you’re flying, check your airline’s baggage restrictions and make sure you know what can’t go through airport security. Measure your carry-on bags and weigh your checked suitcase at home first (better yet, don’t bother to check a bag if it costs extra). If you pack something that gets confiscated, you’re not only going to have to buy it when you reach your destination, you’re going to have to replace it again when you get home. 

TL;DR recap: Don’t set yourself up to buy things you already own! Big waste of money.

2. Do your homework on flights and airports.


Check flight prices for nearby airports instead of just the one closest to your home. Depending on where you live, sometimes you can save hundreds of dollars by driving an hour or two to depart from a further airport. If you’re driving yourself to the airport and plan to leave your car for an extended period of time, don't forget to check parking rates. Long-term parking typically ranges from about $5-$10 per day. It may not matter much if you’re only gone for three days, but paying $5/day instead of $8/day can make a big difference if you’re gone for weeks.

You might think it's obvious, but don't accidentally park in short-term parking! One of the airports I frequent labels their parking lots "deck" and "surface" instead of "short-term" and "long-term," whereas another local airport uses their surface lot for short-term and garage for long-term. It's easier than you'd think to get it wrong, so make sure you read signs and prices.

Tip: Some airport hotels offer extended parking with the purchase of one night’s stay.

3. Find travel buddies to split costs.


If you’re driving, gas is infinitely cheaper the more people you have in the car. Same with hotel rooms, which leads us to…

4. Don’t pay full price for hotel rooms. 


There is always a cheaper hotel on Priceline or Hotwire if you’re willing to book without a hotel name. I know it sounds scary if you’ve never done it before—but so does the $60 Motel 6 you can see with your own eyes off of the highway. If you’re a risk-taker, the best deal is usually bidding with the Name Your Own Price function on Priceline.com. You choose the star rating and general area within a small radius, and you name a price you’re willing to pay. If your bid is accepted on the first try, you almost definitely bid too much. You only get one bid per day using the details you want, so plan accordingly. Start bidding well before your trip, and lowball that first bid. Go stupidly low—the worst thing that can happen is you have to try again tomorrow. I never increase my bid by more than $5 the next time I try, because that’s how you overpay. It’s a game you can lose if you don’t know what you’re doing, but I’ve stayed in a 3.5 star hotel for $50/night with this tool. Make that 3 nights at $50/night with 4 friends…guys, that’s $37.50 per person TOTAL for the whole trip. Full price feels like an insult after that.

If you want to save money but want the security of certain amenities like free parking or an airport shuttle, try Hotwire’s Hot Rates or Priceline’s ExpressDeals instead. The discounts aren’t as deep as bidding, but you get a handy little list of guaranteed amenities before you book.

For extra homework to improve your odds with Priceline’s Name Your Own Price, check out betterbidding.com.

5. Eat cheap.


You can still go out for a nice meal if that's something you enjoy, just cut the little corners where you can. I never eat out for breakfast while traveling. Find out if your hotel has a continental breakfast and take advantage of it. When it doesn’t, figure out a cheap breakfast food you can eat every day and buy it from a grocery store instead of hitting up McDonald’s every morning (for me, it’s Pop Tarts and Slimfast). Bring a water bottle and buy a jug of water to refill it with instead of buying a new bottle every time you stop at a gas station. I’m no good at math, but I’m pretty sure a gallon of water for 97 cents trumps the 20 oz. for $2.50 at the truck stop. Use coupons. Split large meals (oh hi, foot-long subs!). Order from the dollar menu. Repeat.

If you’re flying, try to plan your meals for before and after your flights if at all possible. (Have you ever eaten in an airport? One meal can practically fund 47 more plane tickets.)

6. Go easy on the souvenirs.


If you’re going somewhere special and already have an item in mind that you want, plan to buy it and have an idea of how much it will cost. It’s not the things you plan to buy that break the bank; it’s all the little things you didn’t factor in along the way. You don’t need the cute little keychain/picture frame/snow globe/etc. that you saw in the gift shop. Don’t start collecting post cards, magnets, shot glasses, or anything you can buy at a Love’s. If you want a free way to remember destinations, take fun, creative pictures instead!


Of course my real secret is this: saving money for travel doesn't end with trip expenses.  If you’re serious about saving, you remind yourself every day when you walk past Starbucks or see a pair of jeans you like. You don’t need to sacrifice everything for travel money, just make well thought-out purchases and cut out the impulse buys. If you see something you like today and still want it in a week, go back and buy it. If not, remember that $3 here and $20 there adds up to a plane ticket after a while.

What are some of your favorite tricks to save money while traveling? Share in the comments.



February 2, 2014

A Hanson Fan's Guide to Tulsa

If you're a big Hanson fan, chances are you're going to wind up in Tulsa, Oklahoma at least once in your life. For many of us, "Hanson Day" has become this strange annual fan pilgrimage, an event where you can reunite with friends who are usually separated by states and countries and entire oceans. Tulsa has since grown to become more than the home of our favorite band; it's a place for our eccentric family reunion (and it comes complete with that weird cousin you always avoid. You know it's true).

Really, this is not new information. Hanson has given us several guides to Tulsa in the last few years, and if you're a repeat offender, you've probably been to most of these places already. But just in case you've missed the guides and are looking forward to a future trip to Tulsa, here are a few places you might want to check out. Places with * are within walking distance of 3CG/most downtown hotels:

Restaurants


Chicken & Waffles at Caz's
  • Mexicali's*:Yummy Mexican cuisine, conveniently located about half a block from 3CG. 
  • El Guapo's*: More Yummy Mexican cuisine, and you can eat on the roof for a good view of downtown! I recommend the trio of Tacos El Guapo.  
  • Caz's Chowhouse*: Southern fried goodness. I linked this one directly to the menu because that's all you need to convince you to check it out. Also about half a block from 3CG.
  • Joe Momma's*: The perfect late-night pizza stop. One of the few places open late in downtown Tulsa.
  • Blue Rose Cafe: I haven't actually eaten at this one to attest for the food, but it has a prime location right on the Arkansas River. Maybe I'll finally try it this year. (I hear there's an autographed drum head from Hanson hanging on the wall somewhere, too.)
  • Fast Food: I always forget how exciting it can be to come across a chain restaurant you don't have at home while traveling. Here are a few fast food stops you might not have back home that you can drive to once you've figured out downtown Tulsa has no food at midnight: Taco Bueno, Whataburger, Sonic, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Steak 'n Shake.

Shopping


  • Dwelling Spaces*: Before there were annual MOEs & thought-out PDF guides to Tulsa from Hanson, there was Dwelling Spaces. We all knew it, and we all owned their I Heart Tulsa shirts. Inside you'll also find Joebot's Coffee Bar. If you're nice, they might even make you a coffee with a Hanson symbol on top. 
  • Ida Red: Like Dwelling Spaces, a clearly Tulsan boutique. You can find more cute souvenirs and t-shirts here along with a ton of unique soda flavors and foreign candies.
  • Utica Square: If you want to do real shopping and not just hunt for souvenirs, hit up Utica Square. It's sort of an upscale outdoor mall.
  • Glacier Confections*: You know those fun flavored chocolates you see on Hanson.net every Valentine's Day? Those are coming from Glacier Confections. If you care about chocolate at all, do it, and try something exciting. 
  • I Heart Hanson Pop-up Store*: Okay, so you don't need me to tell you to go to this. What you do need me to tell you if it's your first time is to 1) expect to wait in line, and 2) expect to spend money. If you show up at the store at 5 and have dinner planned for 6, you may wind up having to choose between tacos and t-shirts. 
Inside the first I Heart Hanson Pop-up Store.

Spoils from Dwelling Spaces, Ida Red, & Hanson. I wasn't kidding about expecting to spend money!

Sight Seeing


  • The Center of the Universe*: It's located at the top of a pedestrian overpass downtown. Go stand in the middle and figure it out. For all its "unique" appeal, I will say there is a place just like this in Charleston, SC with no plaque or official name to draw any visitors. My friends and I found it by climbing on stuff; go figure. 
  • TBS Video location: You can visit the shooting location for the "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'" video at the intersection of N. Greenwood and E. Archer St. If you walk about a block past the intersection and under the overpass, you'll see the mural used in another scene in the video. 
  • Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza: You can see a little bit of Route 66 History at the old 11th Street
    Bridge. Who knew one of the founders of Route 66 was from Tulsa? "Championed by Tulsa, Oklahoma businessman Cyrus Avery when the first talks about a national highway system began, U.S. 66 was first signed into law in 1927 as one of the original U.S. Highways" (wikipedia). And that's the most history you'll EVER hear out of me.
  • The Golden Driller: Because who doesn't want to stop and take a picture with a 76-foot school-bus-yellow oil drilling man? 
  • Guthrie Green*: This one is pretty new to Tulsa. It's a public park that holds all kinds of events from farmer's markets to food trucks to one mile barefoot walks, if you attended Hanson Day in 2013. 
  • The Philbrook Museum: The gardens here are gorgeous. If you're into art and photography and can catch this place on a sunny day, go take some pictures. Tip: It's free on the 2nd Saturday of every month! There's a list of other discounts and free admission guidelines on the website.
The Philbrook
And I don't care what the 10 day, 5 day, or 24 hour forecast says...pack a jacket!

Got any questions or suggestions of your own? Leave a comment.