10 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit the DC Area

Despite having only moved to the area back in September 2016, I’ve visited the DC area since I was fifteen, when my sister first moved to the region for college. This selection of photos are some of my favorite things, and part of what making living in such a different culture easier. Maybe they’ll inspire you to visit me and the area!

If you visit the D.C. Area, you might see:

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Flower beds dotted through city blocks

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A plethora of free museums, as well as dozens of pay to enter, to learn all about history and other subjects

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Gorgeous water fountains

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Foggy, misty mornings on Autumn country roads

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Festive holiday lights in old town districts

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Gorgeous water fountains

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Theatrical performances of all types and flavors

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A wonderful and FREE zoo!!

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Amazing food of all shapes and sizes, including homemade crepes

Review of New World Magischola:LARP

This weekend I attended New World Magischola, a larp set in the same universe as College of Wizardry (Czocha). Just as with CoW, it’s a Nordic Style Larp. For more info on larps and nordic larp in particular, check out my post about College of Wizardry

Also here’s NWM’s official page, their next event will be Yule.

After being bitten with the larp bug, I’d heard from several attendees of CoW11 that NWM would be running this summer. I looked it up, but found myself not wanting to pay the higher price, easily a hundred more than CoW, perhaps even a bit higher. So I applied for a scholarship, and waited. I knew that if I didn’t get one, I wouldn’t go.

But as luck would have it, I did earn a scholarship, and so I started making plans.

Once again, I was unable to convince my fiancee she might have a good time, so while she flew off to visit family in Idaho, I’d be attending myself.

This year, NWM was held at the College of William and Mary (unlike last summer when it was held at the University of Richmond. An adventure itself, so I’ve heard). As I live up in Southern Maryland, all I had to do was drive, a novel idea compared to flying across an ocean and taking a several hour bus ride.

Thursday morning, in torrential rain, I started my drive down. In a rental car no less, as I’m having trouble getting the new tags for my car. After panicking over having enough for the tolls, I set off. It actually ended up taking more like three hours, with traffic and getting lost, but finally I arrived at William and Mary, a little bit after check in had started.

We were staying at an older dorm, and…okay, let me get this right of the way. It’s not a castle, it’s not Czocha, and I knew it never was going to be. But even so, William and Mary have a lot of amazing buildings etc. This was not one of them. The mattresses were cracked and broken, the bathrooms had no plugs in them.

I knew the food was going to be plain old college food, something I almost never ate myself, as I only had one quarter I had a meal plan, not being a freshman when I attended an actual school. But even knowing that, the food was not great. The staff was incredibly lazy, half the food stations that should have been open weren’t. It’s a good thing food to us was just a neccesity.

Now follows a bunch of things I struggled with, didn’t like, etc. Let me say before I go into any of that: I don’t regret attending. Had I known certain things, I might have chosen not to, or to do things differently. But despite problems, I don’t regret this larp. Being Tallis Brayboy allowed me to experience things I haven’t gotten to before.

Problem One: I didn’t realize that over half the people doing this second semester larp would choose to play their same character, who had all been at a previous run together. Especially the staff, I was literally the only new one. Which meant all the other faculty had connections and history that while I could invent, didn’t exist. I also had this problem with my students. Students who might have come to me for problems as a teacher, went to all the other teachers they already knew.

Problem Two: This was the final run. That means everyone was exhausted. The NPCS and crew did an amazing job, really!  But I could tell everyone was burnt out, overworked, ready to be done. It’s no fault of anyone, but if I came to NWM, which does so many runs right in a row, I’d choose to go to one of the earlier ones.

Problem Three: The plots. There was too much happening. A lot got lost, a lot got convoluted, and with so many player originated plots, the big plots done by the NPCS weren’t really necessary.

The good things:

  • The players. Even if sometimes I wished more of them had chosen to include me, the creativity and spontaneity of everyone always amazes me.
  • Getting to be a teacher. I loved getting to actually be a teacher, and have people listen to me, “learn”from me, and let me bullshit things like they were fact. Thank you all who improvised with the lessons and exams, and hopefully let me guide you
  • The little things. Exchanging worried glances with my fellow faculty about Snodgrass. Giving side eye about Virginia Isle and hoping someone would notice. Crying by myself for real in the faculty lounge when I got a letter about how to bring my mother back from the dead.
  • The people who DID interact with me. Just the fact that people came to my ritual and my ghost lesson at ALL means the world to me. I loved the small necromantic ritual we had, it felt very intimate. And all the other little moments when people spoke to me, called me professor, etc.

 

Ultimately, would I go again??

I…don’t know. Perhaps. If I knew a ton of people weren’t going to all know each other, I’d be way more likely to. If the venue was different and a bit nicer, I’d be much more inclined. I’d love to attend a softer run, where everyone agrees before hand its honestly just school and building relationships, no big plots, rituals or anything.

I ended up leaving early because I couldn’t handle the stress of dealing with parties, feeling left out, people being drunk. If I’d gotten to party in character I might have been more inclined. But that’s something I struggle with all the time, not just with NWM.

This review has been a mixed thing, and I hope that reflects my feelings. I had very low moments, I had very high moments.

Most importantly, Tallis Brayboy did teach me things about myself. Tallis is inside me, just like Diana was. Tallis allows me to be authoritative, in control, smart, a little bit snide, and loyal to my family.

Tallis, you are more than the island your family keeps afloat and more than your past. 

New World Magischola- Packing

Some of you may recall that I went to a little thing called College of Wizardry back in March. I played a character named Diana Torres, a young, green, baby werewolf in house Molin. I fell in love with LARP and have since received a scholarship to attend New World Magischola, down in Williamsburg, VA.

It’s only a week before I drive south, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about my character, and my packing.

Originally I was planning on playing a student, but this particular run was quite short professors, so I bolstered myself, and decided to offer to be one. Much of my character is staying the same, but she’s a couple years older.

I’ll be playing Tallis Brayboy, Professor of Cursebreaking, house monitor for Croatan (her former house when she was a student). Tallis has visions, which are often jarring and upsetting for her, along with an ulterior plan/motivation that drives her and consumes her. I’m teaching three classes, plus a special and an exam. Wish me luck O.o

I’m still gathering things together, but here’s the basics that I have so far:

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A blue and cream lace dress

A constellation dress

 

My wand and suitcase

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My boots

I also have several necklaces, a couple hats, and a mask.  In a week almost down to the hour, I will be at William and Mary, checking in and creating my classroom!

See you soon, Tallis.

Escape Room Live- Alexandria

During my time in Berlin preceding College of Wizardry, I got to explore some of Berlin, and one of my favorite experiences was being introduced to Escape Rooms.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with escape rooms, here’s what they are:

A mind game. It’s all about intellect. You’re “locked” in a room, with a clock counting down. You have to use clues, objects, and other people to help you solve the puzzle, and beat the clock to escape the room. It’s fashion for each room to have a theme, and I’ve read of everything from mobster, to titanic, to zombie.

My first one was at Claustrophobia Berlin, in a pirate themed room. I’d never met the two girls I was doing it with before, but we were all going to CoW together, and we did an awesome job! And I was hooked.

So when thinking about what to do for my 25th birthday (which was on Tuesday, June 20th!) I thought how much fun another escape room would be, especially since my parents and my fiancee Sierra hadn’t done one before.

We ended up going with Escape Room Live- Alexandria, which is right in the historic district of Alexandria.

As I am a huge lover of Sherlock Holmes (let’s be clear here, the original stories and the RDJ version plus others, not the tv show) we went with ‘Moriarty’s Madness’

As Sherlock, you have broken into Professor James Moriarty’s office… and he isn’t happy. What does he have planned and can you stop it from happening?

The clock is ticking…   Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.”

The biggest difference for me from the escape room in Berlin was that this did not feel like you were in a different world. The room itself was lovely, but you didn’t feel locked in, you could see out onto the main street of Alexandria, and there were big glass windows above Moriarty’s office that while you couldn’t see anything out of because they were so high, you did know you weren’t really in an office.

But the clues were interesting and fun, with a variety of things. There were seven of us, one exchange student, me and my fiancee, my parents, my sister, and my brother in law. At first I felt pretty darn useless, but it eventually got to a point where it was all hands on deck. I figured out several things on my own and felt quite proud of it. And when it was time, I got to be the one to stop the bombs.

We ended with twelve minutes to spare, which I thought was pretty good, but apparently with seven people it was relatively sub par. Oh well, I was still proud.

Of course, no Escape Room would be complete without the posing in costume

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Escape Room Live has three other rooms in Alexandria: The Wizard’s Apothecary, Sherlock Holmes: A Matter of Time, and Poe-Ranormal Activity. 

They also have two other locations, in Georgetown and Glover Park.

Escape Room Live is  a lot of fun, well put together, and what it might lack in realism, it makes up in puzzles and mind benders.

Book your room at Escape Room Live!

 

 

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit the Pacific Northwest

I miss the Pacific Northwest everyday. I’ve made a new life for myself out on the East Coast, and I like to think it’s whole, and special. But the West coast was my home for 13 total years. I hope these photos inspire you to visit, and see what I love about it.

 

If you visit the PNW, you might see:

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Rocky, jagged beaches that you can see from hilltops

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Driftwood covered beaches on sunshine filled days

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A herd of caribou casually grazing in a state park

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Rushing rivers that go over old, old lava tubes

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Dormant volcanoes that leave their mark on the land and the people

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Serene rivers that become a place for two people to get engaged

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Mountain hikes that let you see over into another country (literally)

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Sandy beaches for walking on

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Gorgeously manicured gardens

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Cultural events honoring our dead

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Snow covered mountains in July

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Snow tubing!

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Surprise walks in the snow on a Sunday morning

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Seals begging for food next to a fish and chips place

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Very fashionable and delicious high tea

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Suspension bridges over rivers that make your heart race

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Views like this as you travel through a pass

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Rainy and misty days

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Fresh, ripe strawberry picking

 

 

Sun and Lava

Sometimes we have memories from places we visited as a child, and they’re really wonderful memories. So wonderful, that when we go back to these places, they can leave us wondering what’s different this time, why isn’t the place as beautiful as how we remember?

And then there’s days like this past Sunday, visiting Gifford Pinchot National Forest, where the reality completely outshines what I remembered from visiting when I was little.

Continue reading “Sun and Lava”

Birthday Excursion to Vancouver B.C.

The last couple of years for my birthday, I’ve gone down to Portland. And the year before that I just stayed in Olympia. This year I felt the need for something a bit different, and after some research, decided to travel north to Vancouver B.C. I hadn’t been there since I was a little kid, and Sierra had never been. So we bought our train tickets, arranged a stay through Couchsurfing, and counted the days until we left.

Continue reading “Birthday Excursion to Vancouver B.C.”

I wholly recommend going and spending a day in Astoria, Oregon.

This little town on both the Columbia and close to the coast was a place I used to visit pretty often as a little kid, when we lived in Battle Ground. I’ve only been back a couple of times as an adult, however, and both trips have been wonderful little excursions.

Continue reading “One Rainy Day in Astoria”

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