The Middle Sister

The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Monday, 26 September 2016

American Road Trip IV - Williams... But mainly The Grand Canyon

I already know I’m going to fail at accurately describing to you the Grand Canyon because the view defies description. I find language falls short of explaining truly awesome sights at the best of times* and having only English at my disposal means there is just no way to sum it up effectively.  I may as well make up words and say it was fluxastic, or wowgasum inducing and you’d be as informed as if I used anything that’s in the actual dictionary.  The Grand Canyon seems to have made itself so that you can’t tell all of its wonders and while I’m cringing a little at the clichĂ© it’s true you do have to see it to believe it.

This was the part of our road trip that started with a town called Williams nicknamed the gateway to the Grand Canyon**. Three nights here may seem like a lot to most people as its basically two streets of Route 66 food venues, motorbikes and other road trippers.  However it’s safe to say this place hasn’t been spoilt by success the way Sedona has.  


But I digress…Drink, drunks, golf buggy taxis and a new cowboy hat later we had explored the town in its entirety which is why this post is pretty much solely about the inexplicable.  A brilliant topic for an essay if I do say so myself!

One thing I would advise when going to GC is make sure you pick the right side.  Those films when a lone hiker gets to the edge just as the sunrises and are the only one around like they’re in some post apocalyptic park? I believe that to be the North side.  The south side is a no less beautiful, but more established tourist attraction. It has a hotel, ice cream stands, a cafĂ© and the tamest squirrels and chipmunks in AZ***. 


We were only there for a few hours and if I ever get the chance to do it again I’d definitely pay for an overnight stay or hike down to the bottom. The thing I found most peculiar about the Grand Canyon was how not scared I was of being on the edge.  As someone who has had trouble looking down from a high car park before, the sheer enormatude**** seemed to have a soothing effect on me.  I even sat out on the side casually calm, it felt a little like home. 

I reckon those that don’t believe in a higher power might just question this when faced with the Grand C, and those of us that do can just say fan-bloody-tastic God type, You had a good day there.  Hanging out with my family on the edge of the Canyon, watching two storms join up was everything.  I immediately knew this was to be a lasting and favourite memory, of the holiday and my life.

Have you ever been? 

...Next time High Luxury at Tuscon.

*Handy when you’re a writer!
**answers on a postcard as to why.
***Probably, I didn’t ask all of them.
**** New word I just made up. 


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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Stylist Live... all over again

Today I'm having a small break from USA trip updates (don't worry there are more to come).  Am taking off my travel blogger cap and donning my health/beauty/style blogger cap to chat to you about Stylist Live which takes place next month.  Stylist has long been one of my favourite magazines and is the only one I read regularly on line.  To say I've read more issues than I've had lunches might lead you to believe I was the type to sneakily have a look during work time before I went freelance.  Something I'll neither confirm or deny cos its that's just not smart. 

Point being, Stylist got and kept my attention with it's witty articles that both entertain and inform.  Their firmly feminist but not in your face point of view, fashion coverage and quirky stories are in my opinion, one of the best ways you can spend an hour or so online.  The event launched last year and included an audience with my favourite girl crush, writer Caitlin Moran so obviously I couldn't not go (how are we to become friends if we never accidentally-on-purpose meet?)
The formula of the event is one you'll probably recognise. Stands overflowing with wonders, beauty tutorials and trials, fashion shows and eating stations fill Islington's Business Design Centre.  My review last year goes into more detail about the highs and lows of the day and this year I'm a little surprised but stupidly pleased that Stylist contacted lil' ol' me offering tickets in exchange for a review.
Rather guttingly* I had already purchased tickets for @girlrunnglate, my sister and myself (see a real fan here, no sponsored posts for me!) Still I reckon this means I'm one step closer to working with them in some sort of official capacity.  Whenever you're ready Stylist, I'm here for ya!

If you're anywhere close to London between 13th-16th October and have an interest in stuff, you'd do a whole heck worse than getting yourself over to Stylist Live.

Images supplied by Stylist.  

* what? its a word! 
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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

American Trip III - Flagstaff

Flagstaff was our next stop and it's here I met 'those' Americans complete with Trump style phobia of anything not USA born.  Whilst at a bar called The Museum Club we encountered several beyond inebriated locals (it was around 4pm so fair enough I say!) One of which asked me where I was from and when I told him he advised 'we're building a wall to keep you lot out'. I've been advised he was joking by my family who weren't there, didn't hear the inflection in his voice, didn't see his body language and didn't feel as uncomfortable as I felt... So I'm sure they know what happened way more than the person who was addressed right*? 

Either way we hung around and the atmosphere lightened considerably as the day time drunks left/were ejected and the night time not-yet-drunk-drunks arrived.  Its strange when a bar gets more friendly the later you're there but that's America for you.  A live Country music band kept us dancing throughout the night whilst the single Jack Daniels we ordered lasted a lot longer than they do in the UK.... Because they measure their drinks for about this long**...

The next morning after a hangover fixing breakfast we ventured into the town.  From The Museum Club, which was next to our motel, if you turn left its all long roads and outlet malls, kinda dull right? But if you turn right and keep going you reach the heart of Flagstaff.  This is a town that doesn't reveal its wonders to everyone, like the shy girl at prom she conceals much and you have to be in the right place at the right time to really see her.  We were lucky enough to be 'right place right time' people.  

We parked up behind a church (parking is mostly free in USA) and happened upon a farmers market.  Similar to those we have here but as you'd expect from our friends across the pond on a grander scale.  The food was foodier, the flowers flowerier, the sun sunnier***.


After we were done with the market we wandered the streets and found Flagstaff to be a mural loving place with a number of stunning images and pictures painted on walls and buildings.  It very much reminded me of my trip to Philadelphia.





Its also here that I ticked off another proper USA sighting.  Mustangs, pick ups and cars I can't even name (but are just too beautiful) are everywhere you look.  I embarrassed myself a good deal by taking images of them whilst bewildered workers looked on at their battered vehicle. Tourists eh?


We also met people with a beauty and depth not usually noted in the news or on TV. One man, who's name I didn't get (he didn't speak) let me take his picture.  Had he spoken I feel sure he'd have one heck of a story to tell.
 
I could have easily spent more time at Flagstaff but it was time to move on and the next town was where a REAL bucket list item was ticked off,  Some views are too awesome (in the true sense of the word) to describe with words, but I'll be giving it a go anyway. Next Time Williams - The gateway to...

* WRONG!

** Slight Exageration
*** Am I not the most awesome at descriptive wording?
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Sunday, 4 September 2016

American Road Trip II - Sedona

So after the initial few days away we ventured further afield to the beautiful town of Sedona... yes in the 103 degree heat. Driving towards the town has that natural, vast beauty which means if you concentrated too much on the view you could end up recreating your own Thelma and Louise moment.


It made visiting this part of America a real joy and I started to see what it was my dad had been so enamoured by. I was really looking forward to seeing the quaint little two street town and the few stalls and shops selling trinkets and hand made genuine native Indian jewellery.

Unfortunately the need for tourism and people yapping to all and sundry about the stunning scenery seems to have taken what was once a true piece of natural Americana and turned it into tatsville.  The two street town has stretched out for several blocks and the traffic is hideous.  We parked up and wandered around, clearly those of the group that had been here before were a little disappointed that the natural charm had been replaced with the need for cash.  That said it is still souvenir worthy, especially the Christmas shop if only for the killer air con!

The mountains views are definitely worth a trip if you're nearby and further up the road view points and smaller stalls are available.  You just have to be strong with those trying to sell/force their wares onto you. 


This was just a stop over for us and I'm glad to say the next town had hidden treasures that only some of us discovered...

Next time Flagstaff.




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Sunday, 28 August 2016

American Road Trip - Post 1 of some!

My holiday this year was an odd one. Dad having visited Arizona approximately 137 times* decided he wanted us to see what it was that enthralled him with this state... So he paid for me, the husband, my two sisters, their partners and their respective offspring to come with him to the places he likes to go.  This turned into the road trip to end all others, and by that I mean it was so odd no other road trip will compare. 

Usually people go to the US of A to hit up some of the national parks, visit wine country and possibly a coastline or two. But not this family.  Arriving at Phoenix, which we landed at around 9pm, I was glad to hear the day had cooled off a little as locals advised us it had been 'really quite warm' during the day. As we headed out of the terminal we were greeted by a chilly 109 (that's 42 to us Europeans) degrees. Yep, basically we'd arrived here...


After checking in at a motel I got to tick off a bucket list action. I executed the wildly exciting 'filling my ice bucket from an ice machine' like a real American!  


What followed was the crappiest night sleep of the holiday as the need for air con fought with the need for some shut eye. No one tells you air con units sound like jet planes taking off in your room.  But no matter! The joys of jet lag meant we were all milling around from 4am anyway.


Moving on to the first real town of the holiday. Prescott is a gorgeous little place I highly recommend you visit if your family is as mental as mine.  Dealing with kids and oldies meant it was only the husband and I that stayed out after dinner and we were greeted by true small town Americana.  Stumbling upon a fundraiser of some kind we checked the place for 'Trump for President' signs and not seeing any paid our entrance fee, receiving a free gin or craft beer for our troubles. A word to the wise American shots are about 137 times* the strength of ours, down them at your peril.  

A few minutes of what looked like a scene straight out of a Sandra Bullock chick flick and the heavens opened pouring sweet blessed rain onto the steaming pavement below us. Cooling the temperature to an acceptable 76 (24) and making the walk back to the jet engine air on all the nicer.  

Next time. Sedona!


*slight exaggeration

Gifs from Gify

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