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1212 Bickler Rd.
Austin, TX 78704
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2143549754

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Summer Van Jams

Emily Forsythe

We've logged a lot of hours on the road - A LOT. From living in our beloved Volkswagen bus for 5 months, traversing the continent to coming home to Austin and creating a photobooth business out of the same bus, we like living out of our car. Surviving the van life directly depends on having awesome jams to pass the time (when you're on the road) or to keep the party pumping (when photographing an event).

Here are two playlists we're rolling with this summer:

The Vannagram Roadtrip Jams Playlist:

The Vannagram Party-starter Jams:

^^ Jared backseat jamming at one our SXSW photobooth gigs ^^ 

^^ Jared backseat jamming at one our SXSW photobooth gigs ^^ 

Like these beats? Be sure to follow Vannagramatx on Spotify for more photobooth #vanjams this summer! 

Love, Emily and Jared

Best Wedding Venues in Austin

Emily Forsythe

Finding the perfect venue for your wedding is exciting, but it isn’t exactly easy. Austin has so many wedding venues to choose from - urban, Hill Country, rustic, outdoorsy, classic, modern, elaborate, or simple… the sky’s the limit in our vibrant and versatile city! Luckily, thanks to our adventures with Anna the Vanna, we’ve experienced many of the best wedding venues Austin has to offer.

To kick off your Austin wedding venue search, check out our suggestions below. We believe that this amazing city has something for every kind of couple and every kind of celebration!

Green Pastures/Mattie's

greenpasturesaustin.com

  • 811 West Live Oak, Austin, TX 
  • Austin/Classic
  • Capacity: 101-150

A beloved South Austin icon, Green Pastures is the epitome of Southern hospitality and class. With recently renovated grounds and a stylish new restaurant, this is the perfect old-meets-new wedding venue. Keep an eye out for the peacocks - yes, really!

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HummingBird House  

hummingbirdhouseaustin.com/galleries

  • 12805 Arroyo Doble Dr.  Manchaca, TX 
  • Austin
  • Capacity: 224

With eye-popping tropical gardens, elegant tented areas, and even a bright blue swimming pool, this venue was created by the owner of a local gardening center, which explains the exquisite grounds. Hummingbird House is a lovely setting for a sunny outdoor Austin wedding. It’s oh-so-conveniently located in the middle of South Austin, just a short drive from downtown. 

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The Vista on Seward Hill

thevistaonsewardhill.com

  • 6414 W. Bee Cave Road, Austin, TX 
  • Hill Country
  • Capacity: Contact for details

Shaded by beautiful live oaks, the peaceful Vista on Seward Hill is a short drive from downtown Austin but feels worlds away. Guests will bask in the garden party atmosphere complete with twinkle lights and fire pits - a versatile indoor space is available as well.

The Addison Grove

theaddisongrove.com

  • 11903 Fitzhugh Rd.  Austin, TX 
  • Hill Country
  • Capacity: 100-300

The charming rustic barn style of The Addison Grove is perfect for couples who want relaxed Hill Country weekend vibes and gorgeous greenery. Enjoy outdoor pastures with views of the rolling hills and Texas wildflowers (lawn chairs and corn hole, too!) and an indoor space with dramatic chandeliers set against wooden high beams.

Star Hill Ranch

starhillranch.com

  • 15.000 Hamilton Pool Rd.  Austin, TX 
  • Hill Country/Rustic
  • Capacity: 100-500

Why settle on a venue when you can get married in a whole (miniature) town? Star Hill Ranch was lovingly recreate as a 1900s style Texas Hill Country town, complete with historic buildings and the Pontotoc Chapel. This truly one-of-a-kind setting is such a special way to honor Texas history and heritage while building new memories together with family and friends.

Barr Mansion

barrmansion.com

  • 10463 Sprinkle Rd, Austin, TX 
  • Austin/Classic
  • Capacity: 300

Built in 1898, Barr Mansion is a beautiful Victorian-style home featuring lush gardens and grounds. Keep this one in mind if you like to keep your festivities green - Barr Mansion is committed to environmental sustainability and it’s the first certified organic special events facility in the whole country.

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The Greenhouse at Driftwood

thegreenhousedriftwood.com

  • 850 Darden Hill Rd, Driftwood, TX 78619
  • Hill Country 
  • Capacity: 50-300

Nature lovers, take note. The Greenhouse at Driftwood is a botanical oasis nestled in the Hill Country. With a focus on conservation and sustainability, as well as a gorgeous collection of native plants and trees, The Greenhouse is a celebration of the Texas outdoors and provides spectacular backdrops for your photos and festivities.

Prospect House

prospecthousetx.com

  • 12745 Silver Creek Rd.,  Dripping Springs, TX  78620
  • Hill Country/ Modern
  • Capacity: 250

Situated in 20 acres of private Hill Country land in Dripping Springs, Prospect House offers a strikingly modern, indoor/outdoor background for your celebration. Designed by an award-winning Texas architect, this gallery-esque space truly is a work of art. Make the space your own, or let the stark modern design speak for itself.

Justine’s Secret House

justinessecrethouse.com

  • 1303 East 7th St.
  • Downtown/Urban
  • Capacity: 20-50

Ssshhhh… this intimate and exclusive house is tucked right into the heart of the city, but when you’re here, you’re worlds away. Step into Justine’s Secret House and transport yourself back in time to a dazzling late-night dinner party full of sophisticated surprise. As the name suggests, Secret House work in conjunction with beloved Austin restaurant Justine’s, so avant garde French food will definitely be on the menu.

Fair Market

fairmarketaustin.com/weddings/

  • 1100 East 5th Street
  • Downtown/Warehouse
  • Capacity: 200-300

This open and airy industrial space is a blank canvas that can be transformed into anything your heart desires. Fair Market is conveniently located in Austin’s buzzy Eastside, close to downtown amenities and all the city has to offer. Couples and their guests will love the convenience and cool factor of this venue.

South Congress Hotel

southcongresshotel.com/weddings

  • 1603 South Congress Ave.
  • South Austin
  • Capacity: 450

Celebrate in style at the new South Congress Hotel, situated smack in the middle of Austin’s ever-popular South Congress neighborhood. Between chic ballrooms and modern outdoor space, there’s something for every city-chic couple to fall in love with. Hint: their restaurants are absolutely delicious as well.

Ma Maison

www.themamaison.com

  • 2550 Bell Springs Road, Dripping Springs, TX 
  • Outdoor/Views
  • Capacity: 600

The perfect blend of elegant French design and classic Texan hospitality, this Dripping Springs wedding venue is a gem in the heart of the Hill Country. With outdoor ceremony space, indoor reception space, and an oh-so-memorable trellis for breathtaking photos, Ma Maison is truly the best of all worlds.

In the end, we believe the most important thing about choosing an Austin wedding venue is finding the place that feels authentic to who you are as a couple, and genuinely reflects your style. There may be an abundance of spaces to explore, but trust us - when you find the right one, you’ll just know.

Have more Austin wedding venue suggestions? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!

Best Wedding Photographers in Austin

Emily Forsythe

Austin weddings are never anything short of stunning. Our city and surrounding Hill Country offer incredible views and unique vibes you’ll want to capture to look back on for the rest of your lives together, so finding the perfect Austin wedding photographer to document every part of your big day is a must.

Selecting your photographer is no small decision, and while the Austin area is lucky to have plenty of talented individuals and studios to choose from, the search can be a bit overwhelming. Obviously, our beloved mobile photobooth, Anna the Vanna is our favorite gal when it comes to wedding photographers in Austin, but we have a few more friends we highly recommend. We suggest starting with our list below - all Austin-based wedding photographers we’ve worked with and/or admire.

Geoff Duncan

In addition to being a talented and unique wedding photographer, Geoff is an avid world traveler and commercial photographer who has worked with some of the country’s top brands. He sees awesomeness in all his surroundings and finds everything from big dramatic scenes to tiny details interesting and worth documenting.

Sophie Epton Photography

Sophie focuses on life’s most meaningful moments and is passionate about capturing all the love and emotion of a wedding day. She creates long-lasting bonds and friendships with her clients and is truly invested in building relationships as well as photographing the stunning imagery of Austin.

Lauren Reynolds Photography

Lauren is an adventurous world traveler with her BFA in photography from UT Austin (a true artist at heart, she can draw and paint, too!). She got married in the beautiful Hill Country herself, so she has a special passion for capturing the majesty of Texas weddings. Side note: Lauren shot our surprise engagement and our small frontyard ceremony before our Mexico nuptials. 

Lauren Reynolds Photography_Maria and Eric
Lauren Reynolds Photography_Emily and Jared
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Jessica Scott Photography

Embracing sunshine and natural light, Jessica documents outdoor moments with a sense of magic and joy. She has an eye for capturing genuine, authentic moments and finds inspiration through nature, travel, and music.

Adam Kealing

Each wedding Adam photographs is a pure passion project, as he treats every occasion as an opportunity to surprise and delight his couples with spontaneous compositions and dramatic views that transform small moments into a work of art to last a lifetime.

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Caroline Studios

Known for her ability to capture special moments with creative lighting and sweeping scenic views, Caroline is a go-to for dramatic, colorful wedding photography that makes every single detail feel important and singular. She treats every wedding as a new story to be told.

Jake Holt Photography

Bold, big, and bright are the three words we’d use to describe the photography of Jake and Kasey Holt. Their work is modern, vibrant, and packed with color. Perfect for the couple looking to make a splash with iconic Austin wedding photography.

Angela Lally Photography

A lifelong photography lover, Angela focuses on the importance and fun of documenting life’s big occasions. She’s equally comfortable shooting wedding parties, children, and seniors, and captures all sizes and types of weddings with love and natural warmth.

Feather & Twine

Kelsey and Talon are a husband and wife team who believe in connection and not just being a 'camera for hire'. They get to know each and every one of their clients, creating genuine friendships, ultimately cultivating a fun and relxed enviroment for your big day.  When these two adventure-seeking newlweds are not behind the lens, they enjoy traveling to gain renewed creativity and instant inspiration. 

Koby Brown Photography

From the time he was 10 years old, Koby Brown had a camera in his hand. He focuses on intentionally capturing highly cultivated events that are beautifully composed and filled with light. He works alongside his wife, Elizabeth, specializing in destination weddings, wedding and fashion editorials and creating fine art images. Koby is known for breathing life into his photographic narratives, drawing out the emotions and telling each client's story in a refined yet organic way.

Mint Photography

A collaboration between two photographers (Kelly is the lead Austin photographer and Allie is the lead San Antonio photographer), Mint Photography showcases the raw emotion of the moment, the beauty of natural light, and the chemistry between the lucky couples they capture.

SMS Photography

Stacy loves Austin, loves dogs, and loves to be silly and have fun while documenting all the laughter and tears of your big day. She boasts an impressive background in fashion and commercial photography, and her wedding photography reflects her high-concept, polished, and inventive style. 

Your wedding photos are the one aspect of your celebration that will last a lifetime, long after the cake has been devoured and the champagne has been popped. Finding an Austin wedding photographer who fits your needs and personal style will ensure that your beautiful memories are preserved for years to come.

Looking for even more Austin wedding photographer ideas and inspiration? We also love these local wedding photographers:

Do you have a favorite Austin wedding photographer we didn’t mention here? Share with us in the comments.

Anna looks so pretty all dressed up in her wedding flower crown!

Anna looks so pretty all dressed up in her wedding flower crown!

The Best Austin Rehearsal Dinner Venues

Emily Forsythe

Choosing to have your rehearsal dinner in Austin, Texas naturally sets the tone for an incredible evening with family and friends. This sparkling city offers a guaranteed good time (and good food). Venues that have outdoor patios with the Texas night sky in view, intimate underground rooms, beautifully layered dishes from award-winning chefs and never ending lists of decadent wine. No matter what your aesthetic, the venue to suit you and your family's vibes is here. Whether you're focused on a decadent meal, beautiful space, award-winning wine, or all of the above, Austin has plenty of private dining options perfect for a memorable rehearsal dinner. Here are some of our favorites. 

Eberly

  • 615 S. Lamar St.
  • Contemporary American
  • Private Dining Capacity: 20-250

Contemporary American cuisine beneath a glass ceiling, dining here gives the feeling of being true royalty. With the option to private dine on rooftop as well, (Austin skyline in full view) you won’t want to miss the sunset. Eberly sets the mood for a magical evening under the stars, even if it’s raining. Rumor has is that Taylor Swift was the first to rent out the speakeasy behind the famous bar, but don't fact-check us on it. 

La Condesa- Flour House

  • 400 W 2nd St A
  • Mexican
  • Private Dining Capacity: 20

Previously part of a brewery and now listed on the Texas Historical Commission, La Condesa’s Mexican cuisine has another home at its underground private dining room, Flour House. The rough walls show a slice of Austin history as you enjoy dinner in a cozy and secluded dining room. The space also includes a game room to entertain between drinks. If your group is on the smaller side, the Flour House can host up to 20 guests and is a great choice for a comfortable and tasty experience.

Olive & June

  • 3411 Glenview Ave
  • Italian
  • Private Dining Capacity: Up to 100

Tucked away in a lovely and quiet part of town, Olive & June is known for its wonderful handmade pastas, great Italian wine list, and beautiful, three-story balcony. Incorporating local ingredients into authentic Italian cuisine, Olive & June is best known for their eclectic menu and tranquil patio. Their third floor event space, shaded by their enormous courtyard oak tree, can seat up to 100 rehearsal dinner guests.

Irene's

  • 506 West Ave.
  • American
  • Private Dining Capacity: 15-125
365thingsaustin.com

365thingsaustin.com

If you haven’t already seen the classic ivy covered neon entrance welcoming patrons into Irene’s all over your social media, you’ll see the appeal once you visit this polished but laid back Austin hangout. The menu has a wide variety of American food and cocktails, beers, and other libations to choose from. Set under large oaks and near the bank of Waller Creek, not one, not two, but three different patios wrap around the restaurant and can accommodate a wide variety of group sizes. You’ll be sure to find something that suits your needs and entertains your guests. 

Lonesome Dove

  • 419 Colorado St.
  • Urban western
  • Private Dining Capacity: up to 200

Nestled right into the heart of West Sixth, Lonesome Dove takes inspiration from Western aesthetic mixed with an urban setting. Their private dining experience can host up to 200 guests and puts emphasis on customization, with the ability to choose between three different dining rooms that match the atmosphere you want, and letting you select your ideal menu choices. The venue is also always willing to accommodate any dietary restrictions if needed. And you know you’ll be in good hands with celebrity chef Tim Love and a venue that has hosted Fortune 500 company events to charity galas and more.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

  • 303 Red River St.
  • American
  • Private Dining Capacity: Contact for details

Moonshine is an all-time Austin favorite for a reason, giving off prohibition era vibes, with whiskey, bourbon and cocktails to match. Their lovely private patio is located right in the middle of downtown, and features a crowd-pleasing menu of southern favorites - make sure to try the green chile mac & cheese.

FREEDMEN'S

  • 2404 San Gabriel St
  • Texas BBQ
  • Private Dining Capacity: 40-150
freedmensbar.com

freedmensbar.com

Tucked away near the UT Campus, Freedmen's  is one of our very favorite places for authentic Texas BBQ. Their BBQ always falls apart (in TX, this is a good thing), their cocktails are creative (check out their huge bourbon selection), and the vibe is perfectly Austin. For a laid-back rehearsal dinner, the Freedmen's beergarden backyard is a beautiful setting with dressed-up picnic tables under patio lights. 

MAX'S Wine Dive 

  • 207 San Jacinto Blvd
  • American, "Gourmet comfort food"
  • Private Dining Capacity: 35-350

Wine lovers, rejoice. MAX'S offers a modern, customizable underground cellar space (which actually used to be an old warehouse) that can seat anywhere from 35-350 people. The owners, a couple, were inspired by their desire to have the enjoyment of fried chicken and champagne in the same place. MAX’S wine dive wanted to create and offer their guests “gourmet comfort food”, and they have done so quite successfully. The underground experience is complete with fantastic wine options and a menu with a wide array of options to complement your sips. Perfect for the urban couple who knows their way around a grape. 

Fonda San Miguel

  • 2330 W. North Loop Blvd.
  • Interior Mexican
  • Private Dining Capacity: Up to 80

Treat your rehearsal dinner guests with some of Austin's finest Mexican food - no, not Tex-Mex, but authentic interior Mexican. Not only is Fonda San Miguel's food excellent, but its interior design is absolutely exquisite, with a colorful, hacienda-style private room for up to 80 guests. You and your guests will feel like you’ve gone on a mini vacay... or an early honeymoon.

Steiner Ranch Steakhouse 

  • 5424 Steiner Ranch Blvd
  • Steakhouse
  • Private Dining Capacity: 50-120

For stunning vistas and always-incredible steaks, take your guests out to Lake Travis to experience Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. While it is quite a hike from downtown Austin, it is worth the drive for one of the best dinners you can get in the city. With three floors of private event space to choose from, each with indoor and outdoor eating areas, rehearsal dinners of any size can get a taste of our famous Texas beef while taking in the expansive lake views. For a taste of Texas, book your dinner at Steiner Ranch. 

Parkside

  • 301 E 6th St.
  • American
  • Private Dining Capacity: 40-200

Don't be fooled by Parkside's location in the heart of "dirty sixth." It is the diamond in the rough. Coining farm-to-table in Austin, Parkside set the standard for sustainable dining. With a seasonal menu and a famous raw bar and vast selection of oysters, this joint is thriving with delicious local seafood. Head to their second floor event space for indoor/outdoor seating and impressive city views from the rooftop. Have a giant rehearsal dinner party? The entire restaurant is available for buyouts, too.

Clay Pit

  • 1601 Guadalupe St
  • Indian
  • Private Dining Capacity: Contact for details

Contemporary Indian cuisine in an elegant and sophisticated setting, complete with stone walls and a wine bar. For the couple who likes to be outside the norm, Clay Pit's spicy, savory menu might be just the thing you're looking for. With multiple private dining room options, including a cellar and a wine room, you can pick the size and atmosphere that works best for your party and count on Clay Pit to delight the senses with naan, curries, fine wines, and more.

Jacoby's

  • 3235 East Cesar Chavez St.
  • American
  • Private Dining Capacity: 20-250

An Eastside favorite, this restaurant doubles as a charming gift shop mercantile during the day and is the perfect combination of Texas southern comfort and the East Austin art scene. Run and owned by a value-driven family focused offering a ranch-to-table dining experience and located right on the Colorado river, this rustic experience will have you never wanting to leave with your loved ones.

Justine's Secret House

  • 1303 East 7th St.
  • French
  • Private Dining Capacity: 20-50
justines1937.com

justines1937.com

When you think of Justine’s, you think of the east 5th St. former bungalow with a specialty for steaks, cocktails, and French cuisine. But did you know this lively locale has it’s own secret venue the can be rented out for private events? The mystery gets heightened when all the website has to offer is a password protected page and flashes of what happens inside. A backyard string-lit patio is tucked behind high shrubs hidden away from the street in this truly exclusive and intimate experience for your guests. With three-course meals, piano filling the atmosphere of its dining rooms and hallways, and full hosted bar, look no further to find a perfect hideaway in the heart of the city. 

No two weddings are exactly alike, and no two rehearsal dinners are, either. This collection of our favorite private dining spaces is sure to have just the right fit for your big night before the big day.

Let us know if we missed any of your local favorites in the comments.

Our story

Emily Forsythe

OUR STORY.

In the spring of 2015, we took a huge leap of faith and decided to quit our jobs, buy an old VW bus, leave the life we had built in Austin and go explore! At the time, we were newlyweds who had just taken a three-week honeymoon to Thailand. Rough life, I know. Upon our return, we both felt the itch to extend our adventure and in the coming months, we devised a plan to not just think about the dream, but actually live it! 

After countless conversations of potential destinations and several disagreements on the length of our trip, we finally came to a compromise to travel for three months and divide our trip into two parts: half of our trip would be spent exploring Chile and Argentina and the other half would be dedicated to adventuring through the Western U.S. The one element of our sabbatical that we did agree to keep consistent was our mode of transport: a camper van.  We would fly down to Chile and rent a well-equipped camper van and then for the trip in the States, we planned to purchase a well-equipped van to continue our trip through the West. 

Deciding on the van for South America was relatively easy because there were only a handful of companies to choose from and we were trying to keep costs to a minimum. The challenge became selecting the perfect vehicle for our Western road trip before we left for the first leg of our trip. We both scoured the internet, ad after ad, van after van, and finally after giving careful thought to the age of the vehicle, dependability, and of course the aesthetics and nostalgia of the car, we decided on what we thought to be the perfect van for our road trip: a Volkswagen bus! 

After going round and round on which VW bus to purchase, we finally decided on a 1979 T-2 Volkswagen Baywindow Bus that a young couple from Abilene was selling on Craigslist. Driving the 3+ hours to Abilene was not too much of a hurdle, but we were hoping the 'van of our dreams' was in good shape, which meant that it had to run well and have minimal rust. The other item that was very important to me in particular was that I hoped to get a good vibe from the sellers -- I wanted to know the vehicle was loved and had a good story behind it.

To our surprise, we were able to pretty much check all of the items off our wishlist! It was just our luck that the couple was moving so they were willing to negotiate the price for a quick sell, there was minimal rust and the best part was that the couple selling the vehicle shared the same adventurous mindset as us: to explore and see as much of the world as often as possible! The couple had purchased the bus before their wedding and then traveled around in it for their honeymoon, so they were happy that we were going to carry on the adventure they had created in the van. After spending a few hours with them and exchanging contact information, we vowed to take the best of care of their prized possession and promised to put many more miles on her tires! 

The ride home from Abilene was quite a long one, and we quickly realized that this old VW bus only had one speed: slow. We were going to have to get used to riding in the right-hand lane. With one big item crossed off our list before we took off, we were feeling great, but there were so many other items of business to tend to before we went off the grid. There were loose ends to tie up at work, we had to arrange for friends and family to take care of our pets and mail, research to do, flights to book, camping and hiking gear to purchase, the list went on and on...

With only a couple months to plan, we put together a loose agenda with the intention to start in Chile's gorgeously untouched southern Patagonia and the ultimate goal being to drive the entire length of the skinny coastal country, something Jared had always dreamed of doing. Side note: we chose Chile because Jared studied abroad there in high school and lived with a host family that he is still very close with to this day. I had only seen a small part of the country back in 2011 and knew there was so much more to explore, so this sounded like a great plan to me. My only request was to visit Buenos Aires at the very end of our trip to relax and take in a bit more of the Argentine culture. Traveling through Chile would also be a great way to visit Jared's host family and break up the road trip with a friendly visit, an occasional warm shower and a comfy bed. The rest of the time would be solely devoted to exploring the country in our newfound home on wheels! 

After spending seven weeks in South America and meeting tons of inspiring people (many who were wanderlusting just like us (a la Crepe Attack + Our Open Road), we flew back to the States to begin yet another adventure in our newly purchased bus. We both decided our plan for the second half of our trip was to discover all of the beauty the Western U.S. has to offer, attempting to hit as many states and National Parks as possible along the way (exploring 16 out of the 59 National Parks in the U.S. to be exact!) while also visiting with friends and family (and hopefully snagging a good sleep and shower!) along the way. 

Many can see the pattern forming here, we were in this VW bus A LOT, so naturally that lead to many conversations about dreams, aspirations and goals we wanted to achieve once we returned from our enlightened journey. One of the items that kept popping up in conversation was the 'afterlife' of the VW van once our trip was complete. An idea that I just couldn't get out of my head -- mainly because I have planned countless large-scale events for almost 10 years -- was turning the bus into a photo booth to rent out for corporate events, parties and weddings. This is how the idea of Vannagram & Co. was first conceived...and the rest is history!

After four and a half months of living the #vanlife, traveling to some of the most amazingly varied landscapes and meeting countless fellow wanderlusters, we decided it was time to 'hang up our hats', get back to reality and the life we had abandoned in Austin. And that is where we have landed with our trusty old bus. But don't fret, our adventure does not end here, my friends, we still have a story to tell and it is in the form of photos! Book Vannagram & Co. and continue to write our story of adventure and fun!

To read more about our adventure, visit our travel blog

#VANLIFE

Emily Forsythe

When we returned from our travels, the question we always got was how could you guys live in a van?! What was it like? How did you cook? What did you cook?! Where did you sleep?! Was it comfortable?! Where did you go to the restroom?! This video explains quite a bit of those questions and gives a glimpse into what #vanlife is all about! Check it out!

In 2011, Foster Huntington created the #vanlife Instagram hashtag, and unexpectedly spawned hundreds of thousands of posts and a family of eager followers. It became a community of like-minded individuals who delight in the kind of adventure you can only get by traveling through the wilderness in a clunky, decades-old vehicle.

 

TORRES DEL PAINE: PART III

Emily Forsythe

we woke up around 7:30am to start our long, 10+ hour journey up the valle francés and up to the even higher británico. both of us had a decent sleep so once we ate a full breakfast we were ready to go explore!

during breakfast i had sat next to a W trek guide who had a full glass of maté, an argentinian version of incredibly strong herbal green tea that is sipped slowly out of a hand-carved gourd and typically through a metal straw. it is tradition to share it with others so he was just passing along the caffeine i guess! i took a few sips, could feel the good energy running through me and was geared up to hike!!

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Top of Frances TDP.jpg

those few sips of maté proved to be detrimental for jared because i was so hyped up that on the beginning of our hike i gave him the full chronological order of all the pets my brother and i had since i was born!! :) just as i was through a few cats and dogs, we came across our friends, ashli and jessica, who we had met a couple nights before. they were finishing up the end of their trek and were hoping to make it back to paine grande to catch the 12:30pm catamaran back and then would be heading to their hostel in puerto natales where they had left their big packs. 

we told them that they were welcome to get our yahtzee out and play a few games to pass the time if they wanted. they said they would take a look and leave us a note if they played. we said our goodbyes and well wishes and were back on our way down the trail and i was back to my animal stories, much to jared’s disappointment i am sure. :)

once the maté wore off, we were starting to slow a bit and had caught up to some folks from denver whom we had met at our refugio the night before. they were both geologists and were heading to a conference in santiago but took a little detour trip to torres del paine before they had to go back to work. we ended up hiking alongside each other most of the rest of the way up.

our first little break was just across a rickety bridge and over to a small camp site called italiano that was set back into the woods. this was a site that only had tents available and boy was I glad that we were sleeping in an enclosed building versus a tent!! it was so incredibly freezing and this was in the middle of the day so I couldn’t even imagine it at night when it was dark and the wind picked up!! was very thankful for our little bunk house!!

it was pretty much straight uphill to mirador francés (i.e. also our lunch spot), we trudged over streams and boulders, through forests and waterfalls and then we caught the fantastic site that we were hoping for!! it felt like we were up above everything and everyone! you could see all of the wonderful turquoise-colored lakes and snow-capped mountains in the distance; it looked like a painting bob ross had painted himself with all of the beautiful fall colors and ‘happy little trees’!! ;) we were 'happy little trees’ with this view alone and didn’t know if it really could get any better, but there was more ahead of us!

i have to admit, the last leg up was a bit of a struggle for me…i was running out of steam, lacking the energy that i had at the beginning of our hike. it also felt like we were never going to reach our destination. we wove through what felt like an endless forest and when i thought we were finally through the treeline, there would be yet another forest ahead of us. we finally got into what seemed like a pass past the forest and it was all huge rocks, straight up. one hiker who had passed us was sitting atop a huge rock looking out and we realized our final destination was within reach!!

when we made it to the top, we were completely encircled by mountains and then could see for miles through the valley and really how incredibly far we had hiked! while up at the top, we ended up running into the aussie gal we had chatted with a couple days before. she was on the last couple legs of the W trek and would be crashing at paine grande (our same refugio!) that evening.

Stream + Mountains.jpg
Jared Hiking to Refugio.jpg

the descent was fast and furious, we tried to keep the morale up knowing that we would have some vino tinto and a hot cooked meal waiting for us when we arrived. it was quite a muddy trek on the way back because all of the ice that we had seen earlier that morning had melted throughout the day.

finally we made it back to paine grande along with our aussie comrade, shavaughn. she checked in for the night and we realized that she was also in our bunk room! we all threw off our gear and darted to our respective hot showers, then off to dinner we all went!

shavaughn explained to us earlier on the hike that she had planned to camp in a tent the entire trek, but quickly realized after the first night of freezing temps that the refugio was well worth the splurge. to save a bit of money, she continued to cook her food instead of eating at the refugio dining hall and ate mostly noodles or warmed something up out of a can. since we had hot meals we had bought from the refugio and we were one for the last few for dinner in the cafeteria, we tried to sneak her a hot meal so she didn’t have to ‘grin and bear it’, so to speak through her cup-o-noodles! :)


on the menu that evening was the argentinian equivalent to chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes (which actually wasn’t bad…the only miss was there was no cream gravy, but the soup they served stood in as a decent substitute!). our portions were so large that jared and i put our untouched leftovers together, told our newfound aussie friend to put out her camping stove and asked her to come and eat with us. we also were able to sneak her dessert!! ;)

after we had a nice filling meal, we headed up to the bar area for a pisco sour to celebrate our hikes for the day and exchange trekking stories with shavaughn and then we were all off to bed!

we slept in until about 8 or so and grabbed a bit of breakfast and then just took our time to take our last hot shower that we would see for a while. we gathered and packed up all of our stuff and waited in the paine grande lobby with quite a few others to catch the 12:30pm ferry back to pick up our trusty little camper van, ché!

we met back up with our scottish friends, neil and lana who took the boat back with us and told them that we would give them a ride back to the base of the torres that they were planning to hike up that day. we exchanged info with them, bid them farewell and we both were on our way! i still am mad at myself for not snapping a photo with them. it was such a treat to meet up with them!! hopefully we will run into them soon or maybe we just will have to go visit them in aberdeen! :)

TORRES DEL PAINE: PART II

Emily Forsythe

luckily i awoke the next morning an hour after our alarm was supposed to go off or else we would’ve been really late!! we quickly got dressed and drove the hour or so into the national park to the catamaran port. there we would leave our beloved van (ché!), pack a bag for a couple nights (clean clothes!!), gather a few food items for sandwiches and games to play and hop on the boat to the refugio.

in talking with the american guys the night before who had done this leg of the hike, we decided to just do a small hike, get a hot shower and just chill when we got to the refugio that day instead of hike to glacier grey. we figured we would be able to see plenty of other glaciers up close in the next few days when we headed to el calafate and el cheltán. plus part of the trail was closed and we knew we had a long hike up to valle francés and británico ahead of us the following day. basically we were letting these 30 year old bodies rest!! :)

we reached refugio paine grande (hoping they had a reservation for us!!) and you would’ve thought we were in a 5 star hotel!! we had a bunk room with real mattresses (not the bed cushions we had been sleeping on in the van) and best of all hot showers!!

the day at paine grande was non eventful, just took a two hour easy hike, perfected my rock skipping skills at the lake, took the longest and hottest showers possible and got in a few games of yahtzee before dinner (where i, again dominated jared!).

while playing our game, a lovely scottish fellow named neil came in to chat with us. we learned that he and his wife, lana were traveling in south america for a bit. they had unfortunately just lost their jobs as contractors in the oil business on the very same day. he said they were a bit down for a while, but instead decided maybe this was an opportunity for them to travel together and see a part of the world that they had never seen. he explained this hardship had certainly opened both of their eyes and that they both would rather be exploring the world rather than behind a computer, so they had decided when they went back and got jobs they would make a pact to take a trip every so many months! we thoroughly enjoyed talking with neil and told him we would see him (and hopefully meet lana!) at dinner or after.

we decided to skip the bar upstairs even though it was tempting because we had a long hiking day ahead of us the following day. once we were done with dinner, we went to our bunk room and were pleased to find neil and lana were our bunk mates!! :) we chatted with them for a bit and then we’re off to bed, while those young rascals (i say this because while they are a bit younger than our own parents, they are certainly young at heart!) headed outside to gaze upon all of the amazing starlit skies! 

the next day would be a hike up to valle francés!

TORRES DEL PAINE: PART I

Emily Forsythe

we awoke early the next morning to head to torres del paine and our plan was to leave laguna sofia and then cook breakfast at the base of the mountain before we made the hike up.

the drive towards the park was about an hour and a half away and was incredible because we were able to see the contrast of the cotton candy colored sunrise against the jagged, snow-filled peaks. we eventually reached the entrance to the park and the views became all the more vivid with each turn.

after a few conversations with park rangers we had a loose plan of how many days we were planning to spend in the park. we definitely had our hearts set on climbing up to los torres the first day (i.e. these are the peaks that the national park is most known for). the other 2 days were a bit up in the air, but we figured we would get the best direction from talking to fellow hikers along the way on what sites are supposed to not be missed!!

we parked our beloved van, ché in the parking lot of a gorgeous hotel that is typically only open in the summer months (oct.-jan.). we got out of the van to whip up some eggs atop of the potatoes i had made with dinner the night before and a bit of coffee to fuel up for our 8+ hour hike. then we put our gear on to head up the mountain. we had a bit later start than we had originally planned, but it was okay by us because we felt confident in our agility. :) i am not really sure what made us so confident because neither one of us had really been working out regularly before our trip. jared had only run a few times before we left and i was only doing hot yoga a few times a week.

the jaunt to los torres was a bit of hike, definitely more than we bargained for but it was more than worth it!! we were about 45 minutes from the top when we came across some newlyweds from DC. the wife was struggling a bit with the altitude and had low blood sugar so she was taking a break. a doctor who came up after the couple had given her a dulce (i.e. candy) to jumpstart her blood sugar and help her reach the top. we stayed while she felt a bit better, chatted them up and found out that they were on their honeymoon. once the sugar started kicking in, we all started our final climb to the top!

it certainly seemed like it was a neverending mound of rocks and boulders to hike over, but we finally reached a turn, then a small hill and had a full view of the torres and it was fantastic!! after taking an obnoxious amount of photos, climbing up and down the boulders to get different views and snagging just one more photo, we decided to make our way down.

at the very end, we started to chat with a nice aussie, who had been traveling for 9 months or so and was hiking the ‘W trek’ by herself. side note: the W trek is a popular 55km hike where trekkers hike up to three significant sites and hike down to camp or stay at refugios along the way, naturallty forming the shape of a ‘W’. (see trekking map below) 

since we were in our car, we had decided to do more of an “I” and a “U”: up to the torres and back down, sleep in our car at the base, drive over to the catamaran, take it across lago pehoé and over to a refugio or hostel and stay the night (bonus: with a hot shower!!). then we would hike up to francés or britanicó peak in one day, spend another night and hike up to glacier grey the second day before we caught the catamaran back.

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it certainly seemed like it was a neverending mound of rocks and boulders to hike over, but we finally reached a turn, then a small hill and had a full view of the torres and it was fantastic!! after taking an obnoxious amount of photos, climbing up and down the boulders to get different views and snagging just one more photo, we decided to make our way down.

at the very end, we started to chat with a nice aussie, who had been traveling for 9 months or so and was hiking the ‘W trek’ by herself. side note: the W trek is a popular 55km hike where trekkers hike up to three significant sites and hike down to camp or stay at refugios along the way, naturallty forming the shape of a ‘W’. (see trekking map below) 

since we were in our car, we had decided to do more of an “I” and a “U”: up to the torres and back down, sleep in our car at the base, drive over to the catamaran, take it across lago pehoé and over to a refugio or hostel and stay the night (bonus: with a hot shower!!). then we would hike up to francés or britanicó peak in one day, spend another night and hike up to glacier grey the second day before we caught the catamaran back.

we hobbled over to the refugio at the base that was open to check and see if we were able to snag a reservation at the refugio we wanted to stay in on the other side of the park. while in the lobby and café, we ended up running into the two 'hungover frat boys’ that had been on our flight from santiago and started chatting with them and ashli and jessica, two others from the states.

over a bottle of wine or two, we shared our experiences thus far. the guys, matt and wilson were far from fratty, just two friends who were a great traveling pair with a comedic sense of brotherhood between one other. the girls had grown up together; one lived in denver, the other in NYC and they also shared a love of traveling and the outdoors.

after conversations with the group, jared and i were very curious as to what went down on the guys last night out in santiago that left them so hungover on the plane. we finally pulled the infamous story out of them (and it was a good one!), but have been sworn to secrecy to not reveal their wild night out; we cannot break our circle of trust! ;)

we all turned in a bit early that night because we all had long days ahead of us. jared and i scrapped our plans to whip up a delicious stir fry meal with our leftover pork and decided to just eat it cold out of the tupperware with some bread. (no glamping here! ha.) and we headed to bed. 





PUERTO NATALES TO LAGUNA SOFIA

Emily Forsythe

we woke up around 9am on the side of the highway pretty much frozen and had not gotten a lot of sleep that night. my toes were so cold (even with socks on!) and jared was chilled too. we both realized that this was probably one of the worst sleeps we had had in some time. the night before we had planned on cooking up a great breakfast, but because we were so cold we opted to skip breakfast and continue on our journey to puerto natales. 

we drove into town about 12:30pm and looked around for the information center where we could ask questions about torres del paine and other attractions around in the area. the information was super helpful and led us to decide to camp out at a lake just beyond puerto natales called laguna sofia. it would be on our way to the torres so we figured that would be a phenomenal plan. 

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we bummed around puerto natales a bit; went to the grocery store, enjoyed a nice lunch by the coastline, made friends with a few cute stray dogs (who i tried to take with us!) and then we stopped off at a quaint cafe that had an amazing view of the mountains which we were about to embark on the following day.

the cafe was warm and cozy and we enjoyed a nice mochachino and then afterwards got a bit aggressive and went straight for their ‘happy hour special’: a sour pepino (cucumber pisco sour), which was not a bad decision. on our way out of the café we saw a rad old 80’s volkswagen westfalia camper van (photgraphed below) that we checked out and reminded us of our little prized VW possession we have back home! 

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as we were about to hop in the van, a guy came up and was asking us a few questions about our camper van. he was wanting to start his own local van rental company here in chile. he introduced himself as rodolfo and said he owned a hostel in púcon (i.e. The city that the volcano erupted in a few months ago) and that we should stop in when we arrive, say hi and have a nice, hot shower, which of course made me very happy! we chatted for a bit with rodolfo, handed him a vagabond diaries tote and then headed out to laguna sofia before it got dark. 

the drive into the lake area was absolutely stunning and we certainly caught the sunlight just right as it was beginning to set just over the mountains. we pulled into a flat area (behind a big rock to avoid any crazy wind like we had experienced back in punta arenas) and set up camp for the night. we went on a short hike to mainly gather some firewood for the night and discovered another car load of people hanging out at the lake. 

when we got back to our campsite, we knew we had a long day ahead of us the next day so we decided to lay out all of our gear and pack our day hike backpacks. that way we could just pick up and go once we landed at the torres del paine national park. second in our list was cooking dinner, which ended up being pretty tasty despite the challenging conditions. we decided that we probably would’ve made the same exact meal and it would’ve tasted about the same at home. we were starting to feel pretty confident with our camp cooking skills! we also made a true campfire and cooked the tail end of our food on it because it got so windy that the camping stove was not working very well. the warmth from the campfire (and probably the bottle of wine we drank!) got us nice and toasty for bed this time so we didn’t get too chilly that evening like the night before! 

 after a much better nights sleep, we were ready to go explore this amazing site: on to torres del paine!!




PUNTA ARENAS TO PUERTO NATALES

Emily Forsythe

so we decided to chance it and take the ferry from porvenir to punta arenas without tickets to get on the ferry (if you guessed this route, you get 2 pts!). we were told on a sunday it could be difficult to get tickets because people are traveling for the weekend to and from punta arenas so it definitely was a gamble. but we decided why not?!? we’re not on a time table, let’s go for it!!

along our drive to porvenir we saw tons of llamas, sheep herds, huge beautiful stretches of pastures and coastal views!! along the coastline, we came to a tour van that had broken down on the side of the road with many of the foreigners that we had seen at the penguin sanctuary, so in true vagabond form (and for good karma because we feel that we might be in this exact same position at some point on our trip) we pulled over to help them out.

this was quite a large tour van and they had a flat tire. the driver came over to jared’s window, spoke to him in spanish and asked if we had a jack. luckily we had one, but our jack was pretty small because we are basically in a van with bicycle wheels (i.e. regular car wheels, not larger van or off-roading wheels). the two older chilean gentlemen who were driving the van attempted to use the jack that we had with a bit of jared’s help, but much to the foreign tourists disappointment, they we’re completely unsuccessful. we stayed to help for about 20 minutes all the while keeping in the back of our mind that we had to get to porvenir by 7pm to catch the ferry back to punta arenas and we had to make it in enough time to purchase a ticket and hope that there was still a spot for us on the boat!

while we were waiting, we met a couple of friendly, but frustrated foreigners who were on the tour van and we chatted with them a bit. one had been traveling for about 10 months and the other had been traveling for about 4 or 5. it definitely made me rethink the 3 month timeline that i had set on this trip for jared and i because originally he had wanted to travel for one year and i had quickly whittled it down to 6 months and then finally 3 months. :) one of the guys was telling us about his recent experience in india; he had bought a motorbike and driven along the himalayas for about three months. we figured he must have many great stories from that trip and met many interesting people along the way!

finally a local friend of the driver pulled up and had a much larger jack for the two men to properly remove the bum tire. so feeling like the tourists were in good shape, we hopped in our van with our borrowed jack and were off to try to catch the ferry and purchase our ticket.

it was like a race, we were trying to get to the finish, hopefully make the boat and have a spot on the boat. we eventually arrived at porvenir, filled up with gas and while at the gas station ran into a few aussies who had this kick ass old yellow 80’s-style nissan camper van that we had seen in punta arenas. they stopped to ask us about the king penguins and where they were located, but in turn we also exchanged stories about our trips. she and her partner had been traveling for about 6 months and when we asked her how long they were planning to travel, her answer was: ‘well the more money we save along the way, the longer we will travel. maybe 6 months, maybe a year? we’ll see!’. and then i thought, maybe i really need to reconsider this 3 months cut off?!?

once at the port, we got in the car line for the ferry and i ran out to get our tickets while jared inched up to make it on the boat. as soon as the tickets were placed in my hand, i ran out to him and (with a bit of a struggle and two attempts of our van dying driving up the ramp to the ferry) we finally made it to the ferry ride!! luckily they had a cafeteria area where we got a bite to eat and played some 'bones’ (i.e. dominoes). where i dominated, thanks to my grandmother who had taught me how to play at a very young age (thanks mam!). :)

along the ride we ran across the two foreigners, michele and amitay, who were on the tour van with the flat tire. we chatted with them for a bit to hear all about their crazy travels and they gave us a bit of advice for the next leg of our trip to torres del paine. amitay said that he might be hitchhiking the same roads that we would be driving in the next week or so, so we agreed that we would pick him up if we saw him with his thumb out! :)

that night we arrived in punta arenas, made quick a run to the grocery store for the next couple of days and then made the trek on to puerta natales. we decided to stop at 11:15pm so that jared didn’t get too sleepy and so that we could eat dinner at a decent hour (ha!). once we found a nice campemiento, we pulled off, cooked a good dinner and dined al fresco on the side of the highway. i tried to catch a car whizzing by in the photo below to get the full effect but i was not swift enough! :) the next leg of our journey we would be heading to puerto natales, another port town outside of the national park of torres del paines. 

OUR FIRST DAYS IN SANTIAGO, PUNTA ARENAS + ON THE ROAD...

Emily Forsythe

our flight to santiago was uneventful, which i guess i good; we had just enough time to watch a movie, eat dinner and sleep and when we woke up we were in santiago! when we arrived in santiago, we had a whirlwind 24 hrs to hang out with jared’s host family. we were there just long enough to see all of the new additions to the family (i.e. lots and lots of little ones!), have an al fresco lunch and enjoy a barbecue at andrès’ apartment with the family.

saturday morning was an early one with a 6am flight to punta arenas via puerto montt. we weren’t able to land in puerto montt due to the fog so we had to land at a much smaller airport that was about 30 minutes north of puerto montt, which meant one thing: a delay. jared and i tried to make the most of it though and we got lunch and a cerveza! we were cracking up at these two frat boys on our flight who had clearly partied hard in santiago the night before and we were thankful that wasn’t us!

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after an hour or so, we were able to board our flight and were well on our way to puerto montt where we stopped and dropped off a few passengers and then picked a few more up. jared and i were sitting in separate seats on the plane and he happened to sit next to a group of comedians, one being a semi- celebrity chilean actor/signer/comedian named hans miguelito. he and his crew were performing at the hotel and casino calleddreams in puntas arenas. maybe their sense of humor rubbed off on jared?!? ha, one can only hope! :)

in typical chilean fashion we were only 4 hours behind schedule and finally landed in punta arenas. there was a bit of a minor scare that my bag didn’t make it, but it was retrieved after jared looked behind the baggage claim belt and it had just fallen off (most likely due to weight!). whew, we made it!

we hopped on a bus to town with a few other fellow americans to pick up our home for the next 6 weeks. atwo-person camper van that pretty much has everything we need: a fold-down bed for 2, power steering, internal table + lounge, gas cooker, cutlery, plates cups + bowls, pots + pans, camp stools + fold-able table, silverware and an ice chest. also, the great folks at wicked campers hooked us up with a few extras like a auxiliary converter to listen to our spotify playlists. very essential for this long drive!!

in order to avoid the ‘hangry’ (i.e. when one becomes so hungry that it makes them angry), we had a quick bite in town at this little pizzeria and then on to grocery shopping for the next day.

instead of camping in our van in town that night, we opted to drive about 2.5 hours and take a ferry across the straight of magellan toward puerto delgado. it was about midnight when we finally decided to pull over for the night and get some sleep. the first night was a bit challenging putting the bed together in such a small space, but we figure we will eventually get the hang of it. we got out our mummy sleeping bags and blow up camp pillows and hit the hay!

the next day we woke up and didn’t realize what time it was; i would wake up and see that Jared was still asleep and go back to sleep and then he would do the same to me. when we finally woke up for good, we realized we had slept until NOON!! that was definitely not in the plan so we hurried to get dressed for the day and got on the road to our destination for the day: onaissin, a small town in patagonia to see the king penguins. this is a rare sight because you can only see king penguins (or pengüinos rey, as they say) in antarctica. onaissin is a small area where a colony of about 200 of the world’s king penguins reside.

on the way to onaissin, we ended up making a wrong turn, but it ended up being a good thing because we were getting close to running out of gas and had seen no gas stations in any of the towns. we found a small one, filled up and were on our way to see the pengüinos rey!! they were incredible!! and we even saw a fantastical fox along the way (pictured below). 

our next ‘fork in the road’ (literally) was to decide whether to drive to the town of porvenir and take a 2 hour ferry back to punta arenas OR drive back the way we had driven which was about 2 hours away. we did not have a ticket for the ferry ride so we would be chancing it to take the ferry on a sunday when lots of visitors were traveling back to punta arenas. stay tuned for part 2 of this post and which path we decided to take…

SXSW: THE SOUNDTRACK TO OUR ROAD TRIP!

Emily Forsythe

we are still in recovery mode from the debauchery that is SXSW. for the few who have never experienced SXSW, it is basically 10 days of constant activity in austin consisting of a 4-day interactive trade show, a 6-night music festival featuring more than 2,100 bands from around the world and a 9-day film festival with more than 400 screenings. our city is also inundated with over 130,000 visitors from more than 87 countries. of the 130,000, we were lucky enough to be visited by two of our dear friends. as you can imagine, many austin residents plan to high tail it out of town or rent out their places for obscene amounts of money, but since we live so close to downtown, we get a kick out of being so close to the action and always weather the storm!

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jared and i have been attending this music festival since the beginning stages of our relationship, so it always makes me feel a bit nostalgic around this time of year; the weather is typically nice, the bands are always good, we travel by bike everywhere and best of all, most everything is FREE! :) makes for a great combination of our favorite things! the spring fever is also in the air for austinites because even though most of the SXSW activities are going on during a regular work week, many offices are ghost towns or people are sneaking out for long lunches just to catch their favorite band play and many employers are tolerant of the SXslacker attitude. on the other hand, there is also quite a bit of networking that goes on during this week.

since jared and i have navigated SXSW for a few years, we have come to notice that in order to really see the bands that you want to see close up, you must start going to shows as early as the monday before the music portion begins. during the day jared and i were able to get in to the spotify house and caught a ‘knock-out’ performance by run the jewels where the leading frontman was taken down by audience member. we were also fortunate to get invited to the GSD&M party, which is always a fun one to kick off our SXSW week! they always have great food trucks, free drinks and live music. this year we were able to see houndmouth and local musician gary clark jr., who i fell in love with! i also somehow managed to get my SXSW sweat on with NY-based spin powerhouse, soulcycle and none other than ryan hemsworth was on the 1′s and 2′s.

on tuesday, i was determined to hear the band that i was dying to see: BØRNS. the lead singer/songwriter, garrett borns is from the great state of michigan, but is now taking up residence in a treehouse (yes, a treehouse!) in the eastern hills of LA. the music group became fairly well known back in the fall when they released their single 10,000 emerald pools and their recent release of their EP, candy has gained popularity too. if you haven’t heard them, you should check them out! 

that night we got the VIP treatment at the DELL lounge at converse’s fader fort, thank to some good friends and were able to see passion pit and enjoy an abundance of drinks and good food! jared turned in early, but my friend, lauren and i were still ready for more! so we dropped by the four seasons to see her husband and rub elbows at the texas film awards after party and then we hopped over to the yahoo lounge at brazos hall to catch an up close and personal show by milky chance, another band that i was hoping to catch during the weeklong festival.

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wednesday was probably the peak of our SXSW experience because it was everything we love about this festival: the serendipitous moments where you see old friends and meet new ones and if you are lucky you run into friends that are well connected and get you in to everything your little heart desires. 

jared and i attended a mid-morning film premiere called ‘the jones family will make a way’ that debuted at the historic paramount theatre downtown. (side note to our dallas friends: this documentary is also showing this weekend at the dallas international film festival). we were invited by our friend, who was a producer on the film and his wife, who is a local photographer. it was an inspirational documentary about a multi-generational gospel band from bay city, tx who after decades of attempts to ‘make it big’ have finally achieved their dream of traveling the world and bringing their energy and sound of decades past to the masses. while at the film, i ran into an old friend who i had not seen in over 6 months and decided to bounce around with her in the glorious spring weather we were having that day! 

we had a successful day of getting into flood magazine’s floodfest at cedar street courtyard to sip on tasty craft cocktails from isla and jam out to the sounds of skinny lister and geographer. then we hopped over tofrank for a juicy dog (always a SXSW tradition!) and washed it down with a delicious brew, then on to hearryan bingham at spotify. to end our night, we jumped over to the youtube party at coppertank and caught future islands and the war on drugs. we ended the night on such a high note by midnight that we just figured it couldn’t get any better so we turned in for the night.

after being on such a music high, thursday ended up being a bit of a bust. then the rains came and it poured, but it certainly didn’t scare any of the music lovers away! house of vans at mohawk was packed on friday for alvvaysBØRNS (another round!), lido and odesza. we were all soaked by the downpour and were freezing cold but still managed to enjoy the show! saturday was the end of our romp and we saw lots of indie shows at empire garage & control room and then ended the night by stopping by perez hilton’s annual showcase at austin music hall where we saw the ting tings and tove lo

some bands old and new that we discovered over the weekend are: big datathe knocksryn weaverbomba estereo (kick-ass, high energy colombian band who was en fuego!), july talk (hands down the wildest and most provocative performance i have ever seen on stage), songhoy blues (four-piece west african rock-n-roll blues jam band who rocks it out…they also happened to have a documentary that premiered at SXSW calledthey will have to kill us first: malian music in exile), the vaccinescathedralssan fermin (and it could just be bc they have a song named ‘Emily’…), mansionairrobert delongkate tempestking tuff,BRONCHO (hailed from our alma mater city of Norman, OK), years & years and too many more to name!

needless to say, SXSW was a good preview of the mix we will be playing on our south american road trip! stay tuned for a personalized playlist!!

IT'S TIME FOR AN ADVENTURE!

Emily Forsythe

well, its about time. it’s about time we went on an adventure, a real adventure. although isn’t it always time to go on an adventure now that i am married to jared shrode?!? we are seeking an adventure that is not about fancy schmancy hotels and the luxuries of life. we want one where we have to cook our own ‘camp cuisine’, sleep in our car, meet interesting people along the way and really see the country that we are exploring. we want an adventure where we will truly be flying by the seat of our pants. don’t get me wrong, we aren’t going into this blind, as i will be traveling with a seasoned chileno (i.e. jared); we have definite points of interest that we want to see along the way, but we are going with no firm plan, as a true road trip should be. we are just packing a few small bags (which is difficult for me) and an open mind. 

albeit we are taking a big risk by leaving our jobs, our home, our families, friends and our favorite furry friends to take this journey, but we figure what is life without taking some sort of risk, right?!? we are about to embark on the ultimate road trip, trekking it for three months via camper van. in chile we will travel for six weeks in a small two-person camper van from the southern tip of chile to the northern part of the country with a few detours through argentina and possibly bolivia along the way. upon our return to the u.s., we will be taking road trip pt. 2 and traveling out west to california from austin, tx.

if you find any of the above interesting or intriguing, follow along on our journey with us!! also, we would love to hear from you; feel free to comment or email us with any suggestions along the way!!