Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Harry Potter Festival-Chestnut Hill, PA

Carefully moving my tulle tail out of the way, I plopped down on the train seat. I jumped on my phone. I wanted to see everyone's pictures. I wanted to read about how much fun the people that I encountered during the day had. I starred at my phone perplexed. All I saw were complaints, lots and lots of complaints. I just had a spectacular day. Others did not. So essentially this post is about why I had a good time at the Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. 

- I Researched and Kept up to Date 

From the moment I decided to go to the Harry Potter Festival, I kept up to date on the goings on. The website, the Facebook page, everything discussed how limited, and how terrible the parking would be. The festival highly recommended taking the train. Being someone who follows instructions, I listened. 

Taking the train was easy, and a lot of fun. The train station was a buzz with festival attendees. 

Professor Mcgonagall was helping some students figure out the festival map. 

On the train there was a newbie who used a sorting hat app to determine what house she would be in. When her results came back,

her friend yelled out,

    "My friend is a Hufflepuff!" Then all of the Hufflepuffs on the train began chanting,

"One of us, one of us," Lost Boys style. I was having the best time ever, and I hadn't even left the train. 

When we arrived at the station, it was even more fun. 

I didn't end up waiting for the train that was dubbed, "The Hogwarts Express," I took the train before that one, so that I could get to the festival early. The extra time allowed me to have a line-free treat. My chocolate-peanut butter truffle snitch from Bredenbeck's was really yummy. 

I also arrived in plenty of time for Dumbledore's opening address.

 The other thing that I kept on top of during my research, was how the crowd would be. I noticed that the Huffington Post, as well as several other major websites, did articles on the upcoming Harry Potter Festival. I knew this would attract people to the festival beyond just the locals. Every so often I would look at the event's Facebook site. I saw that a lot of people from New York planned to come. People from Indiana, North Carolina, and other places around the country showed an interest in coming. I concluded that the crowd was going to be bananas-bonkers. I figured that I could either decide not to go, or I could embrace the mayhem. I chose the latter, mentally prepared, and dived in. 

Yes, it was crowded. Maybe because I travel a lot and/or attend a lot of concerts, but it wasn't the worst crowd I've experienced. I worked with it, not against it. 

Now I will admit that I was solo. I had no stroller, children, or anyone to keep up with. I have a great eye for people free pockets, so I was able to bob and weave freely. 

There were places to get a bit of respite if you took a little time to find them. Knockturn Alley was quiet, and had some nice places to sit.

-I have Great Deductive Reasoning and am Flexible

I saw the line for beer.

I also saw the line for the bathrooms. 

I figured that having a beer = having to use the bathroom, which = spending a good part of my day waiting in lines. Therefore I chose to wait in the much shorter hot chocolate line. It was a bit nippy, so hot chocolate was a nice treat, and the cup was smaller than the beer, so there was a good possibility I wouldn't have to wait in the bathroom line. I skipped the Butterbeer. I think I'm good for about one Butterbeer per year, and I already had one recently at the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book release party I went to. 

I spent my time partaking in the abundance of activities. My favorite activity was doing a slow motion, dementor fight video. The line was very short, I think because people would walk by and mutter about how it probably cost too much money, but if they inquired, or stopped for a minute to observe like I did, they would have found out that it was sponsored by Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, and was completely free.

It was fortunate that I ended up with two other girls behind me who were solo, so we took turns taking pictures of one another. It was nice chatting with them in line. I love bonding with fandom people. Fighting the dementor was super fun. 

I'm supposed to get the video in my e-mail, but so far I haven't received it. It's cool, it was fun even if the video never appears. I could have stayed and watched people fight the dementor all day. The facial expressions people made were highly entertaining. 

I also chose to watch some of the shows because they didn't have a line. Because people have short attention spans, they tended to wander away after only a few minutes and it was easy to get up relatively close.

The Secret Circus Philly show was very cool.

If they had a place close by in South Jersey, I might need to take up a new hobby. 

I also enjoyed the owl show. 

There were crafts. They were the Horcrux Stations. They had lines, but by 2:30 pm, the lines had dissipated, and you could walk right up to them. I can never pass up a free bookmark. 

The multiple photo op spots had short lines, and seemed like a lot of fun. 

I intended to see a Quidditch match, but I was having so much fun, I lost track of the time, and by the time I realized what time it was, the matches were pretty much over. Just something I'll need to do next year. 

- I'm Just Here for the Cosplay

I love any excuse to make an outfit and dress up. I had so much fun working on my Fawkes outfit. After seeing that it was going to be cold and rainy, I made a few adjustments, and added layers, but it didn't effect the overall outcome. I highly recommend that everyone invest in a set of good quality base layers. 

I spent my day in cosplay heaven. 

People yelled to me, or they yelled to Fawkes. I waved. One girl yelled,

"What the Fawkes!" Which was my favorite comment of the day. More than one person told me I was beautiful, which made me consider dressing up like a Phoenix everyday. 

People asked to take pictures of me, or asked to take pictures with me.

It completely made my day. 

I in turn, asked other cosplayers if I could take pictures with them. Especially the other Fawkes.

I also geeked out over many of the endless, and awesome, cosplays. 

 I saw so much creativity and imagination. I was overjoyed. Aren't fandom people the best? 

-I am an Uber Harry Potter Geek 

I loved how all out the town shops and residents went all out to to get into the Harry Potter spirit. 

Since I am an uber Harry Potter geek, the highlight of my day was getting a picture with the official Harry Potter and Dumbledore of the Harry Potter Festival. I didn't even need to say anything, and Harry Potter was like,

"Dumbledore, it's Fawkes." Again, completely in my glory. Thanks to the girl whose name started with a C (I'm so sorry I completely blanked on your name). She was behind me at the dementor video station, and took my dementor pictures. Then, unexpectedly, she turned up behind me just in time to snap this shot. She was like a photography guardian angel. 

I made sure to get to the stage early, so I could have a good spot for the closing ceremony. I had a great time chatting with a Moaning Myrtle and her friend, as well as some other super cool fans.

There was a kid dance party happening on the stage. This mini-Draco was hilarious. He really played the part, pointing to his eyes, then back at the audience a few times. We were all cracking up. 

Dumbledore's closing remarks were fantastic. 

He tallied up the house points, being sure to give Gryffindor some amusing (and of course completely bogus) "bonus" points. He then lost track of the math. The audience was trying to tally it up for him, but also kept getting the amount wrong, so Dumbledore remarked,

"It's okay, we all know Hogwarts doesn't teach math." Everyone laughed. Dumbledore was pretty outstanding

The festival concluded and I left on a fandom high. 

The sunset on the train ride home was spectacular. 

I thought on what a wonderful day I had, on how many wonderful, interesting, creative people I met, and how happy I was to be alive in a world where Harry Potter exists.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We Eat A Lot of Ice Cream-Colorado Edition

There were a lot of ice cream places to choose from in Colorado and not a lot of time. I wish we could have tried them all, but we did manage to fit in three in four days, so a worthy attempt.

Em's Ice Cream

Em's Ice Cream is a small batch, organic, ice cream cart. They have one regular location and a few on the move carts in the Denver area. We found a cart at the Red Rocks Amphitheater where they were dishing up scoops during the Steely Dan concert. 

I got a scoop of Coffee, and Shannon got a scoop of the Burnt Brown Sugar.

I tend to be partial to ice cream with a beach view, but I have to admit that this ice cream view was pretty spectacular. 

Em's ice cream was amazingly smooth and creamy. Both flavors were vibrant. It was my #1 as far as ice cream taste goes. It was also Shannon's #1, but also a tie with a flavor from another ice cream place...more on that later. 

Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato

Glacier is located in Boulder, Colorado. 

I chose to go here based on a recommendation from the travel podcast and fellow ice cream enthusiast, Extra Pack of Peanuts

They had a TON of flavors. They just went on, and on, and on, and many of them sounded so yummy. 

Making final decisions took quite some time. I ended up going with the Jamaican Coconut and the Funky Donkey, because, peanut butter. Shannon got the Key Lime Pie and Cinnamon. 

The ice cream at Glacier was also very creamy. It was my second favorite and Shannon's third. 

Little Man Ice Cream

We both agree that Little Man Ice Cream in Denver is the coolest ice cream place we've been to thus far. 

It's a popular place, so you have to be willing to wait in line. It's worth the wait. 

Even though there was a mass of fellow ice cream eaters, there was plenty of seating. 

It's not just a place to grab a scoop. It's a place to enjoy. You can relax, hang out, and have a long chat with friends. 

There was a slide for the kids,

and live music. 

Oh, and of course, there's ice cream. 

They had really fun flavors. I got the Honey Almond and the Fluffernutter. 

Shannon got the Creme Frache and the Strawberry Peppercorn Balsamic. 

He still talks about the Strawberry Peppercorn Balsamic. It was fantastic. 

My ice cream was good, but it ended up being the 3rd on my list. I think that this is probably because after trying the Strawberry Peppercorn Balsamic, I had flavor envy. My flavors just didn't pop as much. 

I fell in love with this ice cream place. If you go to Denver, I highly recommend visiting Little Man Ice Cream. 

It may be a bit unfair to rank this time around because all of the ice cream was very good. Well done Colorado, you've got a great ice cream scene going on. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Denver Botanic Gardens

We love visiting gardens, so the Denver Botanic Gardens was a must-do during our Colorado trip. 

I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking for this post. 

Going in early June guaranteed colorful flower viewing.


There were sculptures to gaze at. 

We stumbled upon some wildlife.

The Children's Garden is on top of the parking garage, across the street from the larger garden. We jaunted over for a quick look. 

Back at the larger garden, at the cafe, we discovered that certain drinks were refillable. We thought that this was quite generous of the gardens. I don't think we would see that anywhere at home. 

Most of the day was spent wandering relaxing paths. 

Speaking of relaxing, the best part about Denver Botanic Gardens is its manageable size. It's not small, but it is also not massive and endless. We were able to see everything  in one day, and we didn't feel rushed. There was plenty of time to sit on benches, admire the scenery, and watch the world go by, slowly.