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Checking off my ATX bucket list!

The Austin skyline at sunset.

As of September 1, I’ve been living in Austin for two years. I came to this city with the intention of furthering my career, and really taking it as an opportunity to start fresh, leave the past behind me, and just LIVE my life.

So, I made a bucket list specifically for Austin, and I’m proud to say I’ve tackled at least half of it (if not more). Many of the items on my list got checked off this past weekend, when my best friend came to visit! We had so much fun, I wanted to share some of the things we did.

See the bats on Congress Bridge


Each fall, the biggest bat colony IN THE WORLD assembles itself under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. These are Mexican free-tailed bats, and they stick around until it gets chilly and then fly off to Mexico. Everyday, they sleep in the crevices of the bridge, and fly out at dusk to find dinner. And crowds come out in hoards to see them.

So, my friend and I took a “bat cruise”, where we got way too close (pretty sure we got pissed on) to said bats, but were in complete awe when the 1.5 million of the little guys came flying out from underneath the bridge. The sound of them squeaking will possibly ALWAYS be a memory.

Hike Mount Bonnell


Okay, so this wasn’t on my bucket list, but it’s one of the most well-known hikes in the city, particularly because of its stellar views all the way around. It’s a fairly easy hike and you can see the downtown skyline, the tower and stadium at the University of Texas, and there’s a great shot of the Colorado River. Absolutely gorgeous!

Paddle board on Lady Bird Lake


This wasn’t on my list either, although I did list “Have an adventure on Lake Travis”, which I did in August when I went on a pontoon boat across the lake! However, I have never been paddle boarding! I’ve been kayaking once, on the Colorado River, so my friend and I decided to grab some paddle boards, and we were able to paddle behind one of the stages at ACL and hear some live music before paddling back to the dock. It was fantastic!

Tour Jester King Brewery


The Jester King Brewery is basically out in the middle of nowhere, but I’m ALL about these sorts of adventures, especially in Texas. So, my friend and I drove southwest, and ended up on the working ranch where the brewery lives, right next to Stanley’s Pizza, which is a glorified barn, complete with a fire oven. This place made all of my Texas dreams come true: beer and wine served in mason jars, a pasture, live chickens, fresh beer, and chandeliers hanging from beams in the barn. And that pizza was delicious!

Hit up Rainey Street


I’ve already been to 6th street several times, but Rainey Street is supposedly more of the local’s place to get rowdy. We checked out Icenhauer’s, where we both got some fancy cocktails (her’s had grilled pineapple in it), and then we went to the Parlor Room, which seemed a little more college-esque. But still, a very good time.

Go to ACL


Also not on my bucket list, but a recent wish of mine has been to go to ACL, because why not? I live 15 minutes away! So, we got 1-day passes and completely lived our best festival lives and saw Tank and the Bangas, Run the Jewels, Vance Joy, The Killers, and about three minutes of Gorillaz. We both fell in love with the Silent Disco, drank our fair share of beer, and enjoyed a local favorite: Torchy’s Tacos. The frozen sangria was also tasty.

See Graffiti Park


This was a perfect stop on the way to the airport – closing off a three-day weekend of Texas fun. The Graffiti Park at Castle Hills has art on art on art. People are tagging it every day, and there were already messages of hope sprayed on the walls for Vegas and Houston. Plus there were plenty of owls, skulls, and pop culture references. A must see!

When I visited Indiana in June, many of the things I was told we could do, we didn’t end up doing, and that bothered me. I meet lots of people who are happy living where they were born and raised, and that’s great – but these are often the people that let life pass them by. I’m a firm believer in being a tourist where you live; making the most of each situation; and just going for it!

Other things I’ve crossed off my list include: get a pedicure at Caesar’s salon, eat at the Hula Hut, and one upcoming thing will be eating sushi at Uchiko!

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Packing: music fest essentials.

The sandy shores of Hangout Beach!

The sandy shores of Hangout Beach!

I’m heading to Gulf Shores today, in hopes of reliving one of the best weekends of my life at the Hangout Music Festival! Three days of sand, sun, cocktails, and of course, MUSIC! This year’s headliners are Sam Smith, Zac Brown Band, Beck, Foo Fighters, Skrillex and Diplo, along with many other great bands. I’m amped!

But the thing about a weekend like this is, you’ve really got to get the essentials down. And since I went last year, I knew exactly what kind of supplies I needed to add to my bag. They are:

  • Poncho: This year, it’s supposed to rain (let’s hope it doesn’t), but this poncho is small, so it won’t take up any room in my backpack.
  • Insect repelling band: I’m allergic to mosquitos, so I’m always packing bug spray. This bracelet will keep the ‘skitos away while I’m dancing in the sand.
  • Wisps: You never know when you need a dose of fresh breath (they DO have a wedding chapel at Hangout Fest)!
  • Ziplock bags: I packed these mainly for my cell phone just in case it rains, but you never know what else you could use it for.
  • USB Charger: This is a super small charger that will give your phone one-hour of talk-time if you get into a bind. Hangout Fest is cool enough to provide charging stations, but you never know!
  • Kleenex: For sneezing, napkin use, or porta-potty needs if necessary.
  • Glow bracelets: Umm, I need this for all of the night shows!
  • All-purpose wipes: For basically everything.
  • Feminine wipes: I thought these would be good for the porta-potties, but also just for in general freshening up after sitting in sand and wearing a bathing suit for 12 hours.
  • Hand sanitizer: after bathroom and before meals.
  • SPF lip balm: burned lips are the worst!
  • Band-aids: just in case.
  • Q-tips: not really sure, but they’re small and easy to pack.
  • Deodorant: Being outdoors in the sun all day, and into the night, might lead to a stinky situation.
  • Hair ties: Sweatin’ on my blowout.
  • Gum: Again, hot guys.
  • Toilet paper: Porta-potties (I’m telling you that’s the worst part of this whole thing).
  • Glitter: I need glitter to sprinkle all over myself, because I can, and I want to shimmer all weekend.
My Koncert Kit!

My Koncert Kit!

Love my list of essentials? I’m actually selling my “Koncert Kit” (because I can spell Koncert with a “K” and I can like it) in my Etsy shop! It comes with everything I’ve listed above, plus it comes in a cute cosmetic bag to store it all in.

Use it for music festivals, fairs, outdoor events, parties, gifts, camping weekends, etc. The kits are customizable, so just let me know what you need and I’ll be happy to pack it for you.

After these crazy weeks of work, I’m so, so excited to spend a weekend of fun and relaxation in the sand with my great friend, Marcy! We are hitting the road (it’s about a 4-hour drive to Gulf Shores) this afternoon, as the first day of the fest is tomorrow. Tonight, we’ll be loading up our coolers in preparation for tomorrow, and we’re definitely hitting up some sushi and karaoke tonight.

Follow my entire weekend on Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter @OrangeJulius7 — see you there!