Saturday, March 06, 2010

cats out of the bag


A little cloud of guilt has been hanging over me. And when I say little, I mean little because it's sort of an inverted cloud. A cloud completely silver lined (coloured in with the stuff) and simply lined with a little guilty dark edging, if you will.

The source of this supposed guilt is that I have failed to properly tell all of you about my traveling plans. I've uttered murmurs over the past year and a half about my plans to explore the USA in my gap year and after months and months of saving the time has finally come to pack up and be off. Along with my friend Joanna (you may have seen her craftily smoking out of the window and preparing our meals in the Paris photos further down..) I'll be spending just under 7 weeks on the other side of the pond.

We're going to be using (which has raised eyebrows and vague concerned of chopped up bodies amongst many people when I've told them) as a way of meeting lots of interesting people in various cities who will kindly host us for free and with luck be game to interesting conversations. It's also a great way of penniless younguns like ourselves to experience more. The whole ethos of the site is really interesting and such a refreshing concept, a kind of back to basics community approach which (while of course having your head screwed on and applying common sense) champions actually having some faith in strangers.

I digress..this is what our itinery is like so far..

Arriving in New York on Monday and spending just under two weeks there.
Moving onto Philadelphia
Washington DC
Charleston, SC,
Savannah, GA
Down through Florida to Miami
and long trek back to the Deep South
Atlanta, GA
through Alabama
to Tennessee
and through Mississippi onto New Orleans
a move towards California (via god knows where. Texas somewhere..)
San Diego
Coachella Festival
and a final stay in San Fransisco before flying back to London.

It's ambitious for 7 weeks but hopefully doable and please, please do leave suggestions if you have any recommendations or must see places. Our general attitude favours meeting a variety of people and getting a real feel for places rather than just sticking to hotfooting it between various tourist spots. Think lots of exploring, photograph taking and culinary experiences punctuated with long journeys on the Greyhound and much time getting through the thick piles of American Literature we're taking with us (I'll be studying American Studies at Manchester University come September-I've just accepted my place! And Joanna is ridiculously smart and well read so it's a neccessity for us both.)

As far as the blog goes, I'll be visiting an internet cafe once a week anyway purely to keep up with my finances and shoot my Mum 'hey, I'm alive' emails and intend to chart my progress here while I do. I've also prepared some posts which will automatically post because I am super, super cool.

Packing for 7 weeks is so bloody tricky, I've settled on taking about three outfits as I'm dreaming of the prospect of cheapy thrift stores to make the most of. (On that note, if any of you have dirt cheap thrift store references, please spill, I promise I won't tell anyone..)

I shall leave this novella of a post here for now. I leave on Monday but will post tomorrow before the adventure begins. The prospect of being in limited touch with the internet is embarrassingly scary, I'm relying on all of you to keep my abreast with the goings on of the fashion world! Do feel free to fill my comments box with random references and new trends as they surface. 'ladies facial hair', random blog address, that kind of thing. Also depending on the price of using internet from my phone abroad I'll be tweeting along the way.

Phew, that's your update. Would be really lovely to meet some of you along the way if we're passing your hometown and you're legit and fancy a cuppa and a chat about anything from Chloe Sevigny to Sue Sylvester or Mad Men to Modern day Feminism?


Robyn S. said...

Hi lovely! (After the couch-surfing mentioned, I seriously considered starting with "hello clarissa"... i'm just sick). What an exciting trip you both have planned! I've been following your blog for years, and I think it'd be exciting to grab a cup of coffee with you on your way. I live right outside of D.C., and have for basically my whole life, so I'll try to think up some good non-touristy options, though a lot of D.C.'s "tourist" options are actually pretty fun and really cheap. Yay nation's capital!

Anyway, stop by my blog over here:, and shoot me an email if you and Joanna want to meet up one of the days. Either way, I hope you have a great trip!

tess said...

sounds amazing! I live in DC currently. You must:

*teaism- three locations throughout the city, a fabulous asian tea inspired cafe with delicious vegetarian friendly breakfasts, lunches, and dinners- go for the bento boxes!

*Tryst- a fabulously fun cafe in Adams Morgan, the best espresso ever. and wifi!

*Kramer Books- in Dupont circle, the food is overrated (although the pie is heaven), but a fabulous fiction section

*baked and wired- great little bakery with a funky attitude in georgetown

*thaiphoon-fabulous cheap thai in a fun setting in Dupont circle

obviously you cannot do everything but pick and choose

as for attractions:

*national gallery of art has a great selection and some fab modern art on display- FREE

*the national portrait gallery is fantastic, hidden gem of the smithsonians. FREE. plus near the funky fun chinatown area where you can find some awesome noodles for cheap or dimsum

*the FDR memorial is my favorite of the presidential memorials. located obscurely on the mall, but totally worth it


if you come on a weekend go to eastern market by the capitol a fun little flea market and on saturday mornings, the best pancakes ever for cheap

georgetown is your typical ritzy shop area, nice selection though

and I've had a friend who couch surfed, he loved it and never got stuck with creepers so you should be fine

erica lorraine scheidt said...

Do let me know when you'll be in SF...

royalquietdeluxe at gmail dot com

xo Erica

Blanca said...

How fun!
You're young! You should use this time to be adventurous and try life changing experiences like this. shouldn't be scary, so long as you use good judgment. I'm sure you'll meet plenty of great people along the way.

If you DO go to California via Texas (which you probably will have to) definitely swing through at least Austin and hopefully San Antonio (I-10 which takes you from Florida to California goes right through it). Austin is about an hour north of SA, and it's a prime spot for GREAT live music, vintage/thrift shopping, and since it's a university town, you're likely to find plenty of people to hang out with.
If you choose to come through SA as well, do consider hitting up some of the great art museums we have, as well as fairly undiscovered thrift stores, and AMAZING authentic Mexican food.
I live in SA, and am always up for coffee or a beer with ladies across the pond.
Best of luck with your endeavors and shoot me an e-mail if you wish to have a guide around good ol' San Antonio.

Alani Catleya said...

When you are in LA, go shopping at venice beach. Its homemade crafts and cheap sunglasses galore!

Lucy said...

I had a great time couch surfing around europe, people are pretty awesome if you give them a chance. And you always get to know the best of a city if you stay with people who live there.

Plus you have some great experiences like dumpster diving, midnight dance parties, deep and meaningfuls with perfectly nice drug dealers. Couch surfing is pretty damn rad. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Couch surfing is an awesome idea. I personally could never do it but a few people I was in school with are huge fans and have met tons of people through it.



Faith said...

you can go to The Black Cat which i think is on U street, though sometimes they have ticketed shows there they also have DJs there sometimes...if you check the site there should be concerts posted's a great place to go

Ben's Chili Bowl: it's pretty much historic and has great chili dogs and's usually crowded but it's definitely worth seeing/eating there

you should also go to Schawarma because they have really good schawarma and baklava and they're a new place

i've also heard about Jamba Juice being really amazing but there are only a few

if you can get in(sometimes it's super crowded) you should go to the spy museum as well, it's pretty nice

also you should travel out to the suburbs surrounding DC!! Bethesda has nice restaurants and an independent theater also if you head into kensington(these are both in maryland) you should go to Unique Thrift Store
you can get really nice vintage clothes or just really amazing clothes for cheap, usually 5-10 dollars because DC vintage shops, to me, are WAY too expensive

Unknown said...

I'm a fellow Brit in New York atm, loving Williamsburg and it's random vintage shops, yet I'm still discovering much of it myself. I love Soho and park Slope and am off to discover the Lower East tomorrow; let me know if you need any guidance or a friendly chat.

Mel said...

im going to coachella and live in the san francisco area we should carpool or something! im a little fuzzy on how the couch surfing thing works. do you already have places to stay?

Fashion Tidbits said...

sounds like sooooo much fun! have a safe trip!

Sarah said...


It's definitely do-able. I did a similar trip in about 8 weeks last summer and had an awesome time. We did less of the south (though long long bus journeys through) and hit chicago and boston.

You should go to Austin in Texas. And if you get the chance to make a massive detour, head up to Seattle.

I'm going to go think of some recommendations for places you actually are going to now...

lorax said...

Find a Buffalo Exchange in every city you go to. It's a great thrift store that is more picky as to the styles they sell. Most of the major cities you're visiting will have one.

Gem said...

Wow that sounds absolutely amazing!
If I was in America, I would gladly quote Sue Sylvester with you for a good few hours.

Ella Gregory said...

I'm so excited for you, I'm sure you'll have the best time ever.

Although I have a small concern - you seem to have packed more books than clothes...

I'll miss your posts, but cannot wait to hear about your travels when you return. xxxxx

P.S I want a Chad, Chuck and a Billy Bob, please. Maybe a Trent or Tad thrown in too...

Siru said...

sounds so exciting! I wish all the best for the adventure! Have amazing time!

juliet xxx

María said...

Sounds like heaven to me. Have tons of fun!!!

Kat said...

wow, stevie!! best of luck, sounds amazing, such an adventure you're about to embark on! i am insanely jealous but wish you a wonderful time.
please do try and blog though..i need my dose of DC!!!

Daisy said...

How very fantastic, I hope you havea wondrous time and I can not wait to follow your travels !!

Freya said...

I just wanted to wish you good luck on your adventures! I wish i was going to america for 7 weeks!
Hope you have a really good time and that you keep us all updated on your travels :)
Freya x

Alisha! said...

Via God knows where: Austin, TX. I lived there for 6 months and it is a GEM!!!

Stay at Rancho Relaxo (my previous couchsurfing hosts). Amazing CHEAP thrifting, eating, and drinking. There are
4 square blocks of bars & clubs - decent bands playing every night, you can get a mixed drink for $1 at the library on any weeknight, then head up to red river street to do some back yard river side drinking and dancing at sidebar, pop your head into every place along the way.
Go to "Chicken Shit Bingo" (as good as it sounds) at Ginny's bar.
See The Cathedral of Junk (Psychedelic junk sculpture).
And on a sunny day DEFINITELY go to Barton Springs for a dip in the giant natural pool.

ALSO In California, be sure to take Highway 1 or the 101 freeway NOT the 5, so that you'll drive up the coast on your way to SF. Stop in Ventura (Main Street) and Santa Cruz (Pacific Ave.) for food/thrift store pit stops on your way on to San Fransisco. You might even want to stop at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obipo for a potty break (it's a bubble gum pink mansion hotel with an adorable tea room and restrooms)

I hope this comment isn't too long... I'm a nutso travel bug. I'm also in NY now if you don't already have enough tips for there.

Good luck with your journey!

tastees said...

WOW! sounds amazing!
i havent been to america yet but would love to go there one day and a cross-country trip like yours sounds like the perfect way to do so.
i like your travelling-light attitude and that you re only taking 3 outfits. any tips on packing light? im trying to improve in that matter :)

tastees said...

WOW! sounds amazing!
i havent been to america yet but would love to go there one day and a cross-country trip like yours sounds like the perfect way to do so.
i like your travelling-light attitude and that you re only taking 3 outfits. any tips on packing light? im trying to improve in that matter :)

Alisha! said...

Via God knows where - that would be Austin, TX

Amazing, CHEAP Thrift stores, food, and nightlife. Look up "Chicken Shit Bingo" at Ginny's tavern, The Cathedral of Junk, The South Austin Museum of Popular Culture, and the gigantic natural pool Barton Springs. It's a heaven of a city.

In California, drive up to SF on the 1 or the 101 and NOT the 5 so you'll get all the coastal views. Stop at the Madonna Inn, San Luis Opispo for the amazing, hillarious, and adorable tea room and restrooms. Stop in Ventura and Santa Cruz for dreamy beach town thrifting/food pit stops.

Eep! Good luck!

All Women Stalker said...

How exciting! Cannot wait to see photos! :)

Kathryn Sutton said...

Oh wow, this sounds amazingly exciting - hope you have an absolutely fantastic time and look forward to reading about it as an when you can post! Also, well done you for preparing some posts to go out automatically, that is a ridiculous level of organisation!


Emma Lavelle said...

Very very jealous! Have an amazing time and I will be looking out for updates!


ps i have a friend who has been couch surfing around the world for about 5 years and he highly recommends it!

Victoria said...

Oooo go you! Our very own Sal Paradise!
I hope everything goes alright (particularly the couchsurfing business) and that you make the most of the 7 weeks.
Can't wait to read your updates along the way and good luck with (what looks like) a ton of american lit!

Camille said...

How very nice of you to have prepared posts in advance! As for suggestions, be sure to go to the old part of San Diego, the architecture is beautiful! Have a great trip!

Alex said...

I'm a British girl on exchange at UC San Diego, I'm also going to Coachella, sooo excited! As for places to visit in SD, definitely go to Pacific Beach, really nice vibe down there, great bars (though they are pretty strict on ID so if you're underage you might want to find a way around that, fake IDs etc.) and some cool shopping to be done as well. Make the most of all the amazing Mexcian food around San Diego - it's one of my favourite things about it! Also, La Jolla Shores which is just outside of San Diego itself is one of my favourite beaches.

Lauren said...

i live in charleston!!

things i would do: go to the saturday morning market - lots of local food, produce and art, shop king st. (our urban outfitters is beautiful), eat at virginia's on king, coast, and basil, get a cupcake at cupcake. take a stroll around the waterfront and look at all the goregous historic homes, take a carriage much - its sooo beautiful!

The Daily Cake said...

You have quite an exciting trip planned!! I'd love to spend 7 weeks traveling a country! I live about 20 minute drive from Annapolis, MD - please do contact me, I'd love to take you out to experience some delightful Maryland cuisine! There is SO MUCH to see and do!


Meagan said...

Come to Nashville, Tennessee and stay with my friends! They have a huge house, and they're the best hosts ever.

Tala said...

FUN! totally cool. im from la and have also been all around - nyc, dc, atl - so if you have any questions, email me !!

also - would love to meet up in la, can take you thifting and to meet some celebs :)

Andrew said...

Can't wait to meet you at Coachella!! I'll shoot you an email or a tweet when we're closer to the festival and we'll figure something out

Enjoy your trip, be safe, have fun!! Talk to you soon

Chris said...

Having hosted/surfed with over 100 people and kinda fallen into the 'CS addict' category I have to say its one of the best ways to travel, remember to respect your hosts wishes and where possible make sure they get the most out of the experience as well as yourself (its a 2 way experience) and it will be great! :-) Good luck and most of all just go with the flow and enjoy!

Carol Jeandel said...

what awesome traveling !! should i have a vigour as you you're toooo strong you may have a unforgettable experience in your pass let so wonderful and quite make me jealous ; )toooooo great

Alice said...

Do pack an empty duffle bag. It's amazing how much stuff you will accumulate while traveling and no one likes traveling with bags stuffed to the brim.

Also, as far as cool shops go, I highly recommend Tokio 7 (vintage) in the East Village, Cure (charity shop) near Union Square, and most people like Beacon's Closet (thrift) in Brooklyn.

Camille said...

Oh, and because I see you are bringing The Catcher In The Rye, you should have a look at this: .


jeanie said...

hello, dear!
if you come by the way of williamsburg, brooklyn, make sure to write up so we can meet! :)
have fun!!!!

Cafe Fashionista said...

Wow! That truly sounds like the trip of a lifetime! You may only have 7 weeks; but I definitely think you can accomplish each and every one of those things!! :)

Style Cramp said...

Couch surfing is awesome, have planned to stay on many a couch yet pulled out at the last minute. I've heard stories of great friendships formed.

Good luck!

Style Cramp has a penchant for Euro jollies.

Unknown said...

If you stop in Orange County on your way to or from LA and San Diego (it's in between them!) try to hit up Sprinkles Cupcakes in Newport Beach, they are amazing. I think there is one in LA too though. Also, if you want someone to get coffee with in OC, let me know!

I don't know LA as well, but the Griffith Observatory is amazing. It's a museum up in the Hollywood Hills mostly devoted to space and the like. It's a beautiful place to watch the sunset and, of course, walk down Hollywood Blvd and see the walk of fame!

In San Francisco you NEED to go to the Haight Ashbury district. Hippie central. It's amazing.

Have an amazing trip! I'm super jealous and you've inspired me to do something similar! I'm a little wary of that couch surfing site but I'm willing to do almost anything to find a cheap way to travel a TON! (:

Francesca Robertson said...

love all of that stuff. fab

F --> Texas gal bloggin fashion from NYC!

Ella said...

I just came across your blog and it's hard for me to express how happy I am. Your outfits and style and everything about you is so wonderful and inspirational! I live in Los Angeles and am super excited for Coachella... maybe I'll see you there! P.s speaking of "Dungarees" or what we call overalls, I recently rediscovered a pair in my closet and wore them out biking to a yard sale (bought some furs, jewelry and a belt) and what a coincidence to see a very similar idea on your blog!
Love from Los Angeles,

Ella said...

Oh! Also, I forgot to suggest places for you to go shopping. Where to start.. Well, thrift stores are INCREDIBLE here, not an exaggeration in any sense. Depending on where you're staying you must must must visit Goodwill there's one on Vine & Hollywood, on La Brea, in Los Feliz, etc. Those are the ones that I mostly go to. On Sundays Jet Rag on La Brea has a one dollar sale in their parking lot, and if you're willing to commit some time and energy it is very rewarding. Also on Sundays is the Fairfax Flea Market. I hope that's enough!

Liberty London Girl said...

How exciting! I did Coachella last year (lots of pics on LLG). You'll need a sunhat, mega sunblock & an empty water bottle (you can't take liquids in) as it gets up to 100F during the day.

Also I have recently done a post on my five favourite slightly quirky places to go in NYC.

I greyhounded around America for six weeks on my GAP year and had A RIOT. New Orleans & Truth & Consequences in New Mexico were particular highlights.

Bon voyage, LLGxx

Jenny said...

No real tips for the States (although Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates dug up some awesome places in that crappy child's tv show that I was too old to be watching but which was kind of awesome - 'only in america' maybe?) but if you need any advice on where's good in Manchester I'll be going into my second year of Drama next year. It's pretty rocking here. In a grimey, cold sort of way. But definitely a fun one x

Ella said...

So I posted two really heartfelt and thorough comments and am very sad to see that they didn't post..

Fashion Pirate said...

I did a 3 week road trip through California and i would defiently recommend doing a trip to Alcatraz in San Fran. Make sure you book in advance as they get so busy. We stayed in a cool boutigue place called The Pheonix in some dodgy part of town but we loved that.
Another thing i would recommend is doing a bus tour of San Fran. We did a few of these and the best one was the San Fran. Took us to all the great tourist spots and we had such a laugh, took some amazing pictures too.

If you get time then visit The National Yosemeti Park (Nr SanFran). Its the most beautiful place i have ever been to and well worth the journey. We stayed in these tents for the night at Curry Village.

Have an amazing time, so jealous!

Anonymous said...

I didn't read through the other comments, so maybe someone has already said this, but if in Texas go to Austin! It is perfect for a traveler- very easy to get around, and the best vintage shopping in Texas. (go to New Bohemia, Feathers, and all the little shops around the University of Texas for great vintage). Also, about an hour north of Austin (close to a smallish college town called Waco) is a place called Style Station- it really is worth going to, they have a wonderful vintage selection and adorably crazy owners who are just pure Texas.

Anonymous said...

Just some advice from someone who knows alabama- maybe don't spend too much time there, it's rather boring and a bit eerie at times (brace yourself for all the confederate flags). But Tennessee is great, especially Nashville. Karen Elson owns a cute thrift shop there called Venus and Mars, and there is so much natural beauty outside the city.

Anonymous said...

You must travel through Arizona and if you need to stay in Phoenix, my dressing room can totally serve as bedroom for you lovely ladies!! I DO NOT chop up bodies, I promise!! ;)

littlemolly said...

So jealous, I'd love to do what you are doing. I lived in New York for a while and it was amazing. COACHELLA BABY. xxx

Kimberly said...

when you are in san francisco- go to a restaurant called cha cha cha in the haight. i absolutely love it- and it was the first thing i thought that you should definitely do.
have fun! be safe!

Alya said...

Have fun! Take care and all that stuff. Explore to your hearts content, but be careful as well. And bring back loads of photos for us to ogle!

Also, don't miss out on the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California. It takes place every Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. It's huuuuge and literally has EVERYTHING.

A La Mode said...

I used couch surfing, it's great! No Fear! xox

Anonymous said...

Austin is definitely the best place to visit in Texas! It is beautiful

Sophie's Shades said...

sounds like fun :)

thamoon said...

see you at coachella!
i saw chloe last year at the festival.. we were both there to see our patron saint of lonliness; MORRISSEY!!!


Iñaki said...

This makes me well envious. I was planning on doing something of the sort this summer but the plain failed.


Jade said...

Its too bad, I would suggest going to the Pacific Northwest. I live up here and everytime I leave I miss it terribly. However, as a replacement, I suggest you spend a day or two driving through small towns in upstate NY or Vermont area.

have a wonderful trip!

A said...

I like your style, a no plan plan is quite possibly the best plan! Love that you're making Coachella and then SF your last will not be let down. Although, being a tried and true homegrown girl from Cali I must admit I'm a bit bias.

If you would like any tips on San Francisco, or San Diego, let the questions flow...

xx from SF,

Alex and Amy

Unknown said...

I'm from dc, and you and Joanna should go shopping at Current Boutique! I have the pleasure of working here...It's an amazing consignment shop located right over the bridge out of DC in Arlington Virginia (you guys can easily hop on the metro to get there). It's cheap one of a kind modern consignment clothing...

For vintage, I would visit Meeps in DC (located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood) and Annie Creamcheese in DC(located in Georgetown neighborhood)! You two will adore those shops :)
Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like to chit chat some more:

Carol said...

Hey love your blog! When you head down to San Diego make sure to go to Balboa's got the most beautiful gardens and museums though if your on a budget the museums are a bit pricey (but they might have special deals online). and stop off at Sea-Port-Village its right by the harbor...they have this cute cafe and book store called the Upstart Crow I think they have live music on the weekends. Have a great trip!

lauren said...


gwyneth paltrow summed up some places to go in nashville:

music & food


cheapy second-hand shops such as goodwill & southern thrift can be found on charlotte pike. any goodwills in nashville usually have some good things.

have a wonderful trip,