6 Things You Learn at Your First Local Blogger Bash + A GIVEAWAY!

Sure, I’m a travel blogger, sailor and writer, but I’m staying put for the moment as I plan my next adventure. So I was delighted at the chance to see what’s going on close to home, by heading down to Union Depot in St. Paul for the first annual Minnesota Blogger Bash sponsored by Lowertown Pop. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first local blog event. Here’s what I learned:

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  1. There are so many local makers I didn’t know about! From vodka made from sugar beets to designers offering versatile apparel for travelers, people in Minnesota are kicking ass with their entrepreneurial spirit.
  2. From fitness to parenthood to travel to fashion, the Twin Cities is a haven for bloggers looking to collaborate. I only wish I could have stuck around long enough to meet more of them.
  3. Getting there early pays! The first 50 bloggers in the door received a goodie bag to pack with free stuff from every maker, and of course I wanted to be one of them.
  4. Food! Crave Catering showed up with a table full of treats.
  5. Don’t be shy. Striking up conversations is how you get tips and collaborations. (Believe me, as an ambivert, I’m still working on this myself).
  6.  You can win prizes!!

Wait, actually you don’t have to go anywhere to win prizes. You can win them right here. I have 2 tickets (normally a $30 value) to give away to the inaugural Lowertown Pop, an even bigger, bolder version of the bash, happening April 15 at Union Depot. Here’s the details:

 “A Minnesota Maker market featuring local artisans and craftspeople including brewers, bakers, distillers, artists and musicians. The annual market will be held on Saturday, April 15th, 2017 in the Waiting Room at Union Depot and will benefit River’s Edge Academy, a non-profit organization challenging students to discover their greatness by learning through experience in a small, supportive community. Lowertown Pop is a crowdfunding market, meaning 50 percent of ticket sales will be donated to River’s Edge Academy and 50 percent will be given to one lucky Minnesota Maker.”

So what do you have to do win these tickets? Leave me a message in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (“I want those tickets,” Gimme the tickets,” etc. etc.) I’ll choose a winner at random Monday, April 10.

 

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8 things you learn sailing on General Patton’s yacht

This past Sunday, I was delighted to make my debut in my other hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writing about my journey from Marquette to Duluth aboard the When and If, the yacht belonging to General George S. Patton. Click here to see the PDF and get all the history on this amazing boat, the oldest and most authentic to visit Tall Ships Duluth.

1. Making friends is easier when your boat is famous. Everywhere we went, from, people wanted to ask about the boat, talk about old Blood ‘n’ Guts, find out where we’d been, and learn our stories.

2. It helps to have a professional photographer on board. I wish I could have Emma Louise Wyn-Jones with me all the time! Check out more of her amazing photos on her Facebook page.

3. Even in August, swimming in the middle of Lake Superior is colder than you could possibly imagine, even when you’re diving headfirst from the legendary Black Rocks in the Upper Peninsula capital of Marquette.

4. A boat is the only way to get around the wild, unspoiled, and gorgeous Apostle Islands (which, despite living mere hours away, I had never visited before this summer).

5. Being a crewmember (even a guest one) at a Tall Ships Festival is like being a gorilla in a zoo (and I mean that in the best possible way). Luckily, we had intern Ben Shaiman (Official Blogger of Tall Ships America) onboard to show us the way.

7. Lake Superior is not to be taken for granted. The Edmund Fitzgerald is just for starters of shipwrecks.

8. Pasties are delicious for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4 ways spending Thanksgiving in Rome taught me how to travel

It was November of 2005, and I was spending my fall semester of my junior year studying at in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when four fellow students and I decided to be daring and have a continental adventure before we went home for Christmas. Ryanair direct to Fiumicino, here we come!72772880_89029e1777_z

It seemed clever and brave. But the truth was, I had never before visited a non-English speaking country. I had never spent a holiday abroad. I was still terrified of speaking Italian, and I carried my own personalized phrasebook with me–printed on paper–at the very top was “No parliamo italiano.” In other words, for the love of god, please don’t talk to me. Please don’t make me humiliate myself. Above all, I was terrified of doing something wrong.

 

  1. How to make friends–no, family!–out of anyone. The truth was, I didn’t know any of my traveling companions that well. One was a softspoken boy from Alabama who liked tacos; another was an angelic Catholic girl from eastern Pennsylvania who just wanted a souvenir rosary from the Vatican “‘Bring me something holy, Angela!” my mom said. ‘Just bring me something holy!’” Another was a tall, dark-skinned girl from Indiana I’d never even met. “I never thought I’d be traveling to Rome at age 19,” she gushed. I was skeptical.

These weren’t exactly the cool, glamorous traveling companions I’d dreamed of. They were as naive as I was, if not moreso. But as it turned out, they were right for me. We helped each other read maps, puzzle out signages and agree to skip the overpriced tour of the Colosseum. We listened to our shoes tap on the polished floors of ancient churches, and had our pictures taken with some guys dressed up in cheesy gladiator costumes. I was the best at languages, so when a woman asked about the book I was reading on the train, I spoke for all of us. No parliamo italiano, I said with an abashed grin. My friends thanked me. And I didn’t die.

 

  1. How to travel cheaply. Of course, as tourists, none of us had planned to eat anyplace except a restaurant. Certainly our parents never did while traveling. Except this was Thanksgiving, so if we wanted anything close to a traditional American turkey day, we quickly realized we’d have no choice but to –gulp–shop locally. I’d never been so terrified. What if I didn’t understand what something was? Would I have to ask?. For someone clinging to her sweaty phrasebook like a deflating raft, and with crippling shyness around people I didn’t know, this was genuinely terrifying.

Tiptoeing into the store, we didn’t find a big frozen Butterball–none of us knew how to cook it anyway, but we did find some turkey breasts at the deli, and my friend said she thought the Italians eat potatoes. (Gnocchi, right? Right?) And pasta was just as starchy as pumpkin and sweet potatoes, so that was a good stand-in. Cranberry was out of the question, and we didn’t have the first clue about how to make stuffing. All in all, we only had maybe one or two of the Thanksgiving trappings. My stomach started to sink. Homesickness was creeping in. But I stuck my chin out.

 

  1. How to feel at home anywhere. We were all ready to leave the store, when I turned around and realized my companions weren’t with me. Then I heard sweet little Angela’s voice behind me at the deli counter. She spoke clearly, loudly enough for the entire store to hear. “Formaggio?” Silence, for two, three seconds. Then the guy laughed and handed her a huge hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and we skedaddled back to the hostel. Alive.

Back at our crowded hostel near Termini Station, we Americans took over the kitchen and whipped up our sad little turkey breasts–which, warmed up and coated with, what else, tomato sauce–didn’t look so sad anymore. We forgot the butter, so our potatoes weren’t exactly creamy, and the utensils seemed to date to Tiberius’ reign.  And of course we made pasta, because Italy! Angela and Cody, of course, insisted on holding hands and saying grace. The kitchen started to feel a little warmer; the city not so dark and foreign. These people–these strange, stupid American kids–started to look, well, nice.

 

  1. How to be thankful. We rejoined all 12 or so of the rest of our hostel companions–two backpacking Serbians, a group of English chavs, and that one Irish guy who shows up hammered at every hostel on Earth—-and instead of trying to dazzle each other by naming all the exotic locales to which we’d traveled, we played parlor games. And then we actually talked. To strangers. Who didn’t hate us, even though we’d appropriated the entire kitchen for the past three hours and probably didn’t clean it all that well. This seemed to be the biggest miracle at all.

Up till then, all I’d wanted was to get out of this alive. But that Thanksgiving, something changed. I was thankful. After all, not everybody gets to go to Rome at 19. Not everyone gets to travel at all. Not everyone has a family waiting for them across the ocean when they’re broke and weary and ready to go home for Christmas. Not everyone has that moment where they realize for the first time that this isn’t a fluke. That I didn’t have to be a terrified tourist. That I could be smart, That I could be brave, that I could be wise. That I could be a traveler.

 

5 reasons you should attend a DIY sailing meetup in Rio Dulce Guatemala

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1. Whether you’re already a pirate or just want to be one, you might just learn something! There are workshops on everything from knots to engines to navigation to what it’s like to be female captain (and maybe a writing workshop taught by yours truly?)

2. You don’t have to have a boat (although you can!) There are boats going from ports all over North America, and most of them are looking for crew (no experience necessary). And I have corresponded with most of them, and they are awesome people who are willing to share what they know about sailing, travel and living aboard their boats.

3. Rio Dulce, Guatemala, is one of the most beautiful and legendary boat cruising spots, not only in Central America, but the world. It’s complete with waterfalls, beaches, toucans, and monkeys swinging through the trees. The local Guatemalans welcome the meetup crew every year with open arms, so you’ll get to experience local hospitality as you hang out with the sailors.

4. It’s free! These are boatpunks, which doesn’t mean they live on boats and spend all their time listening to the Ramones and Elvis Costello–althought they might do that. It means they have a DIY aesthetic and a collective mindset. Which means everybody pays what they can pay, whether that be $$$ or good, honest work.

5. Fun. We’re sailors, so we party (duh). If all else fails, I’ll be there! And let’s face it, nobody is ever bored when I’m around. (Possibly delusion thinking alert.) In any case, I want to meet Princess of Pirates readers in person, and now’s as good a chance as any to do it!

Convinced? I thought you would be. Find out more on my blog post or from the Salt Assault site, which has lists of boats going, a workshop calendar, message boards where crew and boats can find each other, and more!

I need your votes!

Big news, guys! I’m a finalist in the Time Out New York “Win the Ultimate New York Life” blogging contest. I didn’t know a life was something you could win, but I stand corrected! I have a one in 15 chance of getting a rent-free six-month stay in NYC and a chance to blog for the magazine! You know what that means: Broadway shows, subway flashers, the Peking…

But YOU–yes YOU–need to vote #8 to win! Vote early, vote often, and spread the word! Tell your friends and send me to New York!

Calling all pirate punks: SALT ASSAULT, February 28 – March 9, 2016

I have long believed that a boat–preferably under the power of sail–is the single best way to travel and see the world. It’s not only because it’s fun, and sailors are the best people on the planet–even though they are–or that traveling by sea lets you see places and people that the rest of the world don’t even know exist.

It’s even more important than that. Given the increasing strain on our earth and its resources, it’s important that we rediscover low-impact ways of living and traveling. Plus, boats transcend national and international boundaries, creating global nations of sailors and forming communities of people united by a common interest of life at sea.

That’s why Salt Assault 2016, which takes place In Rio Dulce, Guatemala, is for “merfolk, boatpunks, nomads, DIY sailors, anarchists, and any landlubber who dreams of a salty life to come together for a week of skill-sharing, networking, celebrating, and helping each other actualize our dreams for a life by sail-power.feel the same way.”

With a description like that, how could I resist? I’m partnering with them to bring attention to this event. According to event organizer Jack Clayton of S/V Gnarwind:

“Salt Assault Fest is one part an excuse to gather to have fun on boats together, and two parts teaching others the things we have learned on our own the hard way.

The world of sailing can be tough to get into if you are completely new to the scene, and even more difficult to stay afloat in when you have a boat and don’t have an insane amount of money.

So this event aims to create an inclusive, progressive space for beginners to learn the basics and get some experience with like minded people, and help those of us with boats learn how to be more self-sufficient to make living on a boat a more practical and economical lifestyle choice. A huge part of all this is the networking aspect of the meet up which, in my opinion, is the most important part.”

My thoughts exactly. I’m also new to the sailing world and the amount of money I have is not anywhere CLOSE to insane, so anything that helps me connect to like-minded people is incredible!

Jack also says of the meetup:”The awesome people I met there changed my life forever. I am involved because i really believe in the boatpunk movement as a positive catalyst to enrich people’s lives and connect them with the ocean, and I hope that this meet up can keep us boatpunks and DIY sailors inspired, connected, and sailing.”

Check back in this space and at the official website for more news. Interested in learning more? There’s a list of boats attending, some of which are in need of crew! Meanwhile, as the weather turns colder here, I’ll be dreaming of warm Guatemalan seas…

Post-Pirate Day roundup o’ fun

Wish I made this.

September 19 has come and gone, but thanks to the Internet, the piratical fun doesn’t have to sail away into the horizon just yet!

Thar she blows!

Disney Parks are still celebrating not just Pirate Day, but Pirate Week.

Shiver me timbers! Oxford Dictionaries goes hunting for pirate phrase origins.

Check out Mental Floss for 17 Swashbuckling Pirate Day Facts, like how they picked September 19 (hint: it has something to do with the founders’ ex-wife).

This vintage Dave Barry column from 2002.

Christina Hendricks, honorary pirate princess.

And finally, I’m perhaps most excited to find about The Pirate Fairy, a DVD release upcoming from Disney about a pal of Tinkerbell, voiced by “Mad Men”‘s Christina Hendricks, who not only–you guessed it–runs away to sea, but hooks up with the young Captain James Hook.

Just a guess, but I think that’s Skull Island behind them.

Avast, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Here!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is upon us!

Some of us pirate princesses be settin’ sail for Krispy Kreme in our rip-roarinest pirate togs for thar free doughnut.

Others be headin’ to the galley and whippin’ up rum cocktails. Or rum cakes. Or the official Princess of Pirates rum pudding.

Need help on your pirate lingo? Time Magazine has the essential tips for soundin’ like a scallywag.

E! Online has thar favorite arrr-esting pirates from pop culture!

My pick for most glamorous pirate girl.

And finally, over yonder, Penguin Books has a list of the top classics of pirate literature, everything from “Peter Pan” to “Treasure Island” to “Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld.” Book to keep ye company durin’ those long, stormy nights on the sea!