Travel Geek: Crystal City Underground

Recently, I found a Groupon deal for a new-ish underground experience in Missouri. The Crystal City Underground is a short trip away from us in Southern Illinois.

From their website:
CCU, a former sand mine, is located in Crystal City, Missouri and fronts Plattin Creek, within a mile of it’s intersection with the Mississippi River. It is 6,000,000 million square feet of enclosed underground climate-controlled space.

200 acres underground including a lake, Sand Volleyball, Disc Golf, Giant sports Screens for your favorite Sports Events, free walking tours, come cool off! Laser Tag on Friday & Saturday nights. Acoustic music on Friday nights and Bands on Saturday nights.

M and I gathered some friends and spent the evening wandering through the underground facility which also includes a barge ride through the caverns.   They also have a disc golf course, volleyball courts, and a bar with acoustic music on the weekends.

Of course, before we ventured out to Crystal City, we had to first stop at one of our favorite sushi places in St. Louis, Blue Ocean Sushi.  mmmmmm. I wish we were closer. Yummy food and drinks in abundance for a reasonable cost.

Here’s a few photos from our evening adventure and a short video of the barge ride.


Crystal City







oh, hello

The Adventures of Scout and Buster

About a month ago we became new kitten-moms. After Miss passed away in August, we decided that we wouldn’t adopt any pets until after grad school. That changed when we saw the photos of these tiny little kittens who were rescued by one of Melissa’s classmates.

It was the best decision we could have made. We are in love with these new kittens and it’s hard to concentrate on anything when these two are around. This even means getting ready for your finals this week (ahem).

I took out my camera this morning because I was photographing some of my Blue Dawg Deli artifacts and the kittens were coercing me to come take their picture.  How could I resist?

Buster lounging
Buster lounging
More Paws!
oh, hello
Oh, Hello! (Scout and Buster take a brief pause from Pew Pew Pew each other)
Downtown Container Park

Notes From Las Vegas: A Break From Reality

I’m in Las Vegas until the end of March to help my parents while my dad recovers from  major surgery. It’s been an intense experience, but I am glad that I am here. I have been reflecting a lot about my life and how I want to live it going forward. That is another blog post for another day, but for now, check out another awesome-sauce find in the downtown area. You can find out more about Downtown Container Park on their website:

Downtown Container Park

inside Downtown Container Park
inside Downtown Container Park
Welcome to the Life Cube Project

Notes from Las Vegas: The Life Cube Project

It’s been quite a tornado for the past few months. I can’t believe that I haven’t written a blog post for three months. I guess I have been a wee busy:

  • 1st semester as a teaching assistant with my own lab
  • My own school work
  • my art work… filming… scheming… designing…
  • oh and. . . a little side diversion to Las Vegas since the end of Feb.

My father became sick about two weeks ago and my parents live out here by themselves. It’s a tough situation out here for them, so my youngest brother and I came out to help my mom out while my dad was in the hospital.   My other brother will be coming at a later date to help maneuver them into a good place.  I won’t go into my dad’s surgery just yet, or their other stuff, because frankly, that is their stuff. I will say however that the systems in place for disabled/not-so-elder people is extremely frustrating. I am trying to make heads and tails about the systems here in Nevada, and I hate to say it, but I feel like Illinois with all of their issues seem to be more straight-forward.   However, that is a WHOLE other conversation that may happen here in the future (once my mind has decompressed from this trip).

What I will say is that I stumbled on something that has been my saving grace this week.  It’s a community art project called “The LifeCube Project“.

from their website:

1) Encouraging people to write down what they want to accomplish in their lives; and
2) Connecting art with community, involving as many people as possible!

My first visit was on Saturday night with my one of my closest friends, Kelly. We have been friends since our 20′s and she has always been one of the most supportive people in my life that a girl can ever ask for.  She  flew out from LA to be with my mom and I during my dad’s intense surgery on Saturday.  To say I was grateful is an understatement. My wife couldn’t be here because of the crazy cost to fly here from STL (crazy spring breakers) so to have Kel here with us during the wait was above and beyond one of the best things a friend has ever done for me. :) After the intensity of the day, I needed to decompress and I was so excited to visit the project for the first time with one of my besties.

We drove up to the parking lot, walked towards the cube and it was surrounded by artists adding their own artwork to each side of the cube.  Paints and chalk are provided and visitors are encouraged to add their own flare to the piece.  It was such a freeing moment after a day filled with so much stress.

I returned the next evening with my cousin who came to visit my dad. Again, it was a magical experience, and again artists were continuing to share their vision with the community.

again, from the website:

The Cube will be covered with murals and a tapestry of paintings by local students and artists, write boards for
interactive messaging, slots for dropping in written goals and wishes, and photographs of historic Las Vegas. It will
be filled with music on the weekends, and lit up at night like a rock concert. And after a month on site, we’ll burn it all
in a fiery ceremony on March 21st, 2014.

I plan on visiting every day and will continue to edit this post until the 21st with photos and maybe video from my visits every day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


CrowdfundingGeek: LGBT20

In the upcoming weeks, I am going to be sharing stories from different artists who are using crowdfunding to share amazing stories. First up is Nic Adenau.

Nic Adenau
Photo by Olivia Ashton

GTYD: Tell us, who is Nic Adenau? :)

NIC: I’m a commercial and fine artist. I also consider myself an activist and advocate for human rights.

GTYD:   What is LGBT20 and what prompted you to tell these stories?

NIC:  If funded successful, starting this January,  I will embark across the west coast to capture & share the stories of LGBT teens affected by peer bullying. I will be documenting 20 youth through the mediums of photography and verbal interviews. The end products will be a website,,  to share all of their stories and an art-book. 100% of proceeds will be donated towards combating the issue of LGBT Youth Bullying.   The issue of LGBT youth bullying is a huge issue that has yet to be told through these young people’s voices. Everything I found on the subject was through the scope of journalism or promotional material. So, I wanted to see that changed.

GTYD:  Why did you choose to use Kickstarter to raise the funds?

NIC:  I like the pressure for both others and myself to get the project funded. It’s all or nothing. That is the type of pressure I work well under so it just made sense to use Kickstarter over other platforms.

GTYD:  What is the biggest lesson that you have learned during your crowdfunding campaign?

NIC: I’ve learned that the hard hustle of social media works but a well crafted plan will work even better. Whatever you do, be smart about spreading your campaign!

Learn more about the LGBT20 campaign below and head over to Kickstarter to help support this project!


a journal of nerdtastic porportions