Harry Potter & The Girl Who Never Got Her Letter

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This is it! The reason we’re in London. Nearly two years ago I bought tickets to Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, the final story in the Harry Potter saga. Tickets to the play were selling like hot cakes and I thought, why not? I’ve wasted money on much dumber ideas than this. The tickets were non-refundable, non-transferable, and basically un-sellable due to Rowling’s decision to require the original purchaser’s ID at the will-call window. She knows her fans are loyal and didn’t want them paying exorbitant prices for tickets that had been bought up by third-party sellers looking to make a profit. If I couldn’t make it, I would be out a couple hundred bucks (and very disappointed). But here I am!

I suppose the life lesson is this: Just buy the tickets — to Thailand, Burning Man, or whatever you’re into. You can figure the details out later. And if it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. You can always make more money, but living out your dreams is priceless. Plus, having tickets in hand, a date set, and money already invested creates a great motivation to save money for your trip!

But before we get to the play, we’re doing something else that is only available here in Harry Potter’s birthplace — The Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour! Continue reading “Harry Potter & The Girl Who Never Got Her Letter”

Across the Pond: London, England

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We’re finally here! The first trip across the Atlantic for both of us.

I have wanted to visit England ever since I was little. To me, England has always been a magical and mysterious place that I could only visit through my favorite books — and not just Harry Potter. In fact, many of my favorite authors, from childhood on, have been British and either wrote books set here or inspired by what they saw around them.

As a kid I devoured all of Roald Dahl’s children’s books (Matilda was my favorite). In college I took classes devoted to British literature and wrote my thesis on a little known period of British history. I won’t bore you with the full-synopsis but it involved that one time the Brits tried (sort of) legalizing prostitution as a way to curb the spread of syphilis. Fascinating stuff.

During law school I finally discovered Tolkien. One year for Christmas, Brandon bought me a beautifully bound copy of The Lord of the Rings, complete with additional appendices for reference. Pure magic. And of course, I’ve now reread and rewatched the Harry Potter series more times than I care to admit.

There is just something about this country that I seem to find intriguing. Maybe it’s the dry humor. (I did watch a lot of British comedies on PBS as a kid). Maybe it’s the idyllic countryside and the cobble stone roads. Maybe I just really like creamed tea and lemon curd. Or maybe I’m a huge nerd and want to find out what really happened to my Hogwarts acceptance letter.

For those of you that aren’t Harry Potter fans (muggles . . . ), please forgive the jokes and bear with me. The impetus for this trip may have been seeing the Harry Potter play in person, but that is just a small fraction of the things we have planned. In fact, I’m only planning to write one Harry Potter focused post. I solemnly swear. But if you’re also a fan and itching to hear all about the play — stay tuned! — that post is coming up right after this one.

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Continue reading “Across the Pond: London, England”

Land-Warming BBQ!

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I’ve learned many things from my parents over the years, one of which is how to throw a great party. It’s really pretty simple. All you need is a good spot, good friends, good food, and a little booze. Ever since we purchased our property in Bastrop people have been asking us, “When’s the party?!” Apparently we’ve developed a bit of a reputation.

Once we started looking at the calendar we realized that we had a limited number of weekends available. My mom had asked that we not double book with one of her gigs (both her reggae band and Hawaiian girl group have booked a number of gigs this spring). If you’re local, go check them out back-to-back on May 27th! Hear both Sister Jane and the Nani Wahinis at the Good Luck Grill in Manor, TX from 6:00 to 8:45 pm! 

Our upcoming trip to the UK was another big (but delightfully exciting) scheduling conflict. The only day we really had left happened to be our one-year wedding anniversary. Perfect! Continue reading “Land-Warming BBQ!”

A Perfectly Texas Easter BBQ

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This is not a typical Alpha1 blog post. We don’t have any major life updates and we didn’t go on some crazy adventure. Rather, we did something quite ordinary. We had Brandon’s family over for an Easter BBQ at the family ranch where we’ve been staying. And because this is Texas, that means shooting guns, riding 4-wheelers, and feeding the cows. Of course, we didn’t nix all tradition. There was also a raucous confetti egg fight and a brown sugar and bourbon glazed ham (which we smoked on the bbq pit because, well, Texas).  Continue reading “A Perfectly Texas Easter BBQ”

Round Top Antiques Fair

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Since we’re stuck in Texas for a while, we thought it might be fun to go exploring in our own backyard. I find that when we travel we think about places differently than we do during our “everyday” lives. On the road we are always exploring, looking for that day’s big adventure. We go hiking in the parks, visit funky little museums, check out old buildings just for fun. Sometimes all it takes is finding the perfect little coffeehouse somewhere unexpected, i.e., Hoodsport Coffee Co. near Lake Cushman, Washington! We LOVED that place.

But when we stay in one place (even without the grind of a 9 to 5) we tend to lose that sense of adventure. We eat at the same restaurants, visit the same shops, drive by interesting buildings and never stop. Most towns have a local museum, but honestly, how many of us ever actually go inside? (That school field trip back in 5th grade doesn’t count.) Because we love our life on the road, we are making a conscious effort not to lose our sense of adventure while also staying put. And this week made it really easy. Because guess what ya’ll?

It’s Antique Week in Roundtop!   Continue reading “Round Top Antiques Fair”

Update: Buying land and a change of plans

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Those of you keeping track have undoubtably realized we are back in Texas. We left the Bahamas right after Christmas and it’s now the middle of March. So, you ask, what on earth have we been doing? Why aren’t we back on the road sharing our adventures with you, dear reader?

We always planned to spend the month of January at home in Texas. We would visit with our friends and family. Spend time with our dog. But most importantly, we would shop for a plot of land where we could eventually build our home. Once we’d found the land we could get back on the road and drive east towards Florida. My mother doubted that we could find and purchase land in only a months time. She and my dad had spent a full year looking for the right place when they built their house 30 years ago. Well, she was wrong, but I think we just got lucky.

While we were still in the Bahamas, Brandon came across a listing for 35 acres just outside of Bastrop. As soon as we returned he drove by to have a look. He was sold. I was skeptical. We hired a realtor so that we could go have a proper look at the place. From outside the gate all we could really see was a hay field and a nice grove of mature oak trees. We knew that there was a dry weather creek running through the property, which is absolutely magical, but also a bit concerning. A portion of the property is a known flood zone.

It was the very first property we looked at and, honestly, we could have just stopped right then. I find that the biggest decisions in life are not actually that difficult. Who to marry, which house to buy, whether to quit your job and live in a big blue bus. If you trust your gut instincts you don’t really have to think much to make the right decision. You just know. Continue reading “Update: Buying land and a change of plans”

Christmas at the Abaco Inn

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Since buying the Irie Joe my parents have been spending more and more of their time here in the Bahamas. We joke with them that they might as well just move here but they say Texas is still home. Over their many trips they’ve learned that staying one extra day after packing up the boat really takes the sting out of leaving.

Their absolute favorite place to stay over is the Abaco Inn on Elbow Cay, just a few minutes down the road from Hopetown. When the boat isn’t being used it lives in Hopetown Harbour, which made transferring our bags to the Inn a cinch.

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During the Christmas holiday the Abaco Inn has a four-day booking minimum, turning what would usually be a quick stopover into a vacation in and of itself. Staying here was so relaxing, even more so than being on the boat. It’s a small boutique hotel made up of 20 or so small cabanas that surround the pool, restaurant and bar. What makes this place unique is its location on a very narrow section of the island. It is so narrow that the Inn is literally the only thing that fits between the ocean and White Sound. From the porch you can see both the breaking waves of the Atlantic and the calm shallow water of the sound.  Continue reading “Christmas at the Abaco Inn”

Back in the Abacos: Man-o-War & Matt Lowe’s Cay Redux

We left Harbor Island in the same fashion that left Little Harbour, right before sunset so that we could sail through the night, arriving at our destination around sunrise. On the return journey, however, we had significantly more wind. Our sail from Little Harbour to Harbour Island had been a calm, slow motor-sail. We never made more than 5 or six knots. On the way back we averaged 10 knots under sail alone and reached occasional top speeds of around 15 knots. The strong wind also made our exit through the cut a bit exciting. We were never in any danger but we all got a little wet when a wave splashed over the bow of the boat before any of us had remembered to lower the front windows.

It was peaceful to just sail for hours without the sound of the engines but we were actually going much faster than we had planned. My dad had calculated our leave time based on an average speed of 6 knots. So, of course, we arrived hours before sunrise and had to kill a bit of time before going through the cut at Little Harbour. Oh well, my dad and I had finished our 4 hour watch by then, which meant it was the perfect time for a nap.

Mom and Brandon took over and were kind enough to let me sleep a little extra. We were pulling up to the dock at Man-O-War Marina when I awoke. Still a little groggy, I decided to go for a walk around Man-O-War to try to perk up. (Four on/Four off is not really my optimum sleep schedule.) I didn’t spend nearly enough time exploring the town when we were here last and I’m so glad I took the time on the second go around. This place is picture perfect!  Continue reading “Back in the Abacos: Man-o-War & Matt Lowe’s Cay Redux”

Top 10 Reasons to Love Briland (Harbour Island)

The locals referer to Harbour Island as simply Briland, a condensed version of the two words. Seriously, say Harbour Island really fast and you’ll hear it. Briland is only 50 nautical miles away from the Abacos, but has a completely different vibe. The Abacos are home to seasonal cruising sailors, retirees, and middle-class Americans on vacation. Briland, on the other hand, is the Bahamian playground of the ridiculously wealthy. The difference is obvious as soon as you pull into the harbour and notice a distinct lack of sailboats and the sheer size of the mega-yachts all around you. But Briland somehow still manages to feel unpretentious and welcoming to all. Honestly, it was one of our favorite stops of this entire trip. We probably mingled with some Silicon Valley tycoon or some famous actor and had no idea because it really didn’t matter. Everyone was drinking the same rum punch and eating the same conch fritters. We just happened to arrive in a much smaller boat.

Because a chronological approach just doesn’t work in Briland, here are our top 10 reasons to love Briland (in no particular order). Continue reading “Top 10 Reasons to Love Briland (Harbour Island)”