Thursday, July 30, 2015

Trip Report: Canoeing the Huron River (Ann Arbor, MI)

    

    Last Saturday, I went canoeing for the first time ever. My destination of choice? Ann Arbor’s own Huron River!

    Being from an entirely landlocked and desert state whose only notable body of water starts with “Great Salt”, I don’t have much prior experience with water sports. One time, a friend and I tried to sail a 20-foot boat in a Utah reservoir for an entire afternoon (operative term: tried). Now, I was expected to literally pull my own weight as part of the highly-choreographed test of relationship skills some call “canoeing”.


    The morning of the big day, I met up with my group at the University of Michigan’s Outdoor Adventures building at the University of Michigan to grab our boats, load up the truck, and set off on our journey! To any UM students and Ann Arbor locals reading this: you would be remiss renting gear anywhere else. OA is the best deal in town, bar none.

    With our gear loaded, we drove to the 90 mile mark of the Huron River to Lake Erie. From there, we launched our boats and set off for a day on the water! One of the first things I noticed was how calm and flat the water looked. There was still some current, but it was nothing like the mountain streams I was used to. This wasn’t whitecaps and rocks – the Huron River, especially this early, was tranquil. There were lily pads lining the banks, a slight breeze over the water, and tons of waterfowl out enjoying the summer day.


    To compensate for my lack of sea legs, I started out in the front of the boat. After hours of friendly pointers turned passive aggression (“Alexa, maybe a little less enthusiasm”), I finally started to get the stroke down! The “advice” ended, our boat moved instead of lunged, and suddenly, I was part of a team.


    Eventually, our trip guide gained enough confidence in my abilities that he let me try and steer the canoe. From my outsider’s naiveté, I didn’t think sitting in the back and controlling the boat would be that hard. Oh boy. I have been wrong before. After some close calls with bushes and the aforementioned waterfowl, a few listless circles, and some wobbly minutes paddling everywhere but forward, I got the hang of it and was able to keep us in a (kinda) straight line.


    We made surprisingly good time and had lunch at the end of our route next to the river. Since we had some time before we had to return to Ann Arbor, we decided to practice a T-Rescue with the canoes. Future paddlers, take note:

    When you capsize a canoe, it fills with water and accordingly becomes, well, really heavy. A capsized canoe is nearly impossible to flip back over, especially if you don’t have footing. A T-Rescue, as its name implies, is a rescue maneuver wherein two boats form a “T” shape. The upright canoe pulls the stranded boat onto its gunnel at a 90 degree angle to form a T, elevating the formerly sunk canoe enough to drain it. Once drained, you can flip it over and slide the newly-functioning canoe back into the water.

    Cool, right? 

    After the T-Rescue, we disembarked, toweled off, and loaded up the boats for the return trip back to Ann Arbor. Even for all the hours I spent paddling in circles, I was hooked: canoeing was a really fun Michigan experience, and I can’t wait to go again!

~Alexa W. -Women's Technical Apparel

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Planning a trip? Want to get more insider tips and travel recommendations from Bivouac's expert staff? Read about our adventures to Canyonlands National Park (UT)Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (MI), and Chicago (IL), or click here to go back to the Bivouac Blog!

Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bivouac Survives Art Fair 2015



We've wrestled bears, climbed mountains, and survived weeks alone in the wilderness.

But Art Fair? That's a whole other ballgame.

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Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gallery: Men's Curated Looks for Spring/Summer 2015


Were you following our Men's Curated Looks series this Spring/Summer? Don't worry - we'll be back with more handpicked outfits come this Fall. In the mean time, we've created a gallery of all 12 looks to tide you over until we return in September. Enjoy!

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Missed a Curated Looks post or want the inside scoop on the clothes featured? Check out Parts OneTwoThree, and Four to see more photos!

Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Women's Fashion: Your 5 Head-to-Toe Summer Wedding Essentials


I’ll admit it - I get a little carried away at weddings. The gooey romantic in me comes out, and all I want to do is go running down the aisle, hug the bride and groom standing under the chuppa (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a Jewish wedding tradition), and profess my love for the both of them combined. Told you I get a little carried away.

This weekend, to my utter dismay, I was not apart of the bride and groom’s love affair as they vowed eternal love to one another with friends and family surrounding them. I was, however, still able to have a good time - what's not to love about unlimited mini weenies at the reception?

It’s important to look your best at a wedding. Whether you’re the bride, the flower girl, or an average audience member like me, the air is filled with love, and you never know what’s bound to happen when the bride throws her bouquet. Whether you're catching the flowers or giving a toast, you'll want to make sure your style is fit to be wed. Thanks to my 5 wedding essentials, I ate all the cake frosting I could manage (the endless problems of a gluten-free girl) and still felt my absolute best in elegant style.





My dress was inspired by this David Lerner bodycon called the Plunging Neckline dress.
The dress is tight, yet clings in all the right places. Its longer length gives it an air of maturity and professionalism, while the touch of lace at the front evokes just enough sensuality to stay wedding-appropriate but still be interesting. The look is perfect for a black-tie optional affair. 


2. The Necklace: Satya Gold Necklace




Think about all the jewelry you own. Now, try to pick out just one - remember, it's her day to shine, not yours. Borderline impossible, right? With the deep neckline of the David Lerner dress, I chose a necklace that stood out, but didn’t take away from the lace below it. A flat gold bar necklace, like the kind spotlighted above, shines bright and matches the deep navy of the dress almost too well .


3. The Nails: Francis Saint Arnaud (in-stores only)




When I was younger, my mother allowed my friend and me to paint our own nails. It was a big deal: we sat on the floor of my unfinished basement, the ground covered in newspaper below us to prevent spills, and remained locked in utter concentration as we made our nails into masterpieces. 

I will never forget showing my mother my achievements an hour later, her voice gently reminding me that only the nail should be painted, little Alissa, not the entire finger. Scarred from this past occurrence, I usually stay away from painting my own nails. However, before any trip to the nail salon, I filed my nails with a crystal file from Francis Saint Arnaud.


4. The Face: Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel, Micro-Blur Skin Perfector (in-stores only)




For a summer’s-day glow, I used an assortment of Kiehl's products before applying my makeup. I started with the Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, which cleansed my skin of dirt and makeup residue. I then treated my dry spots with the Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, a line specifically formulated for results across all skin types. The lightness of the oil-free gel moisturizes without leaving making you feel as oily as most heavy-duty moisturizers will do. I finished off the treament with the Micro-Blur Skin Perfector, a Women’s Fashion employee favorite. The Micro-Blur blends the skin to the shrink the pores and give the skin a smoother look.


With these 5 key essentials, I danced the Hora with wild abandon while the bride and groom were lifted up in chairs (if you haven’t attended a Jewish wedding, I highly recommend it), all in perfect style. Follow my picks and enjoy your next big summer wedding!



~Alissa R. -Women’s Fashion

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Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Looking for more fashion tips and style advice? Check out Fashion intern Allyson's bold tips on how to restyle your LBD, then check out more fashion content on the Bivouac Blog.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2015: Day 1!



Check out our Art Fair Day 1 video!2 more days of craziness!
Posted by State Street Area Association on Friday, July 17, 2015


Check out this awesome video recap of the first day of the 2015 Ann Arbor Art Fair, produced by Bivouac's own Alex R. (Men's Fashion)!

There are still two days left to come see all the State Street fair has to offer. The only question is: what are you waiting for?

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Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trip Report: 24 Hours in NYC? Here's How to Do It All (part II)


This is Part II of a special two-part Trip Report about how to get the most out of a single overnight trip to New York City. Not a fan of starting in the middle? Click here to check out Part I!

    In early July, I visited the city that never sleeps for a 24-hour sprint through the greatest sights and destinations the city has to offer. I don’t get to visit New York often, and so cherish every second of my uncommon visits. Since I now live half a continent away in Ann Arbor, these visits have become even less frequent. So, when I heard I’d be getting a solid day’s worth of time in the Big Apple during my visit home for the July 4th holiday, I went into planning mode. If I was going to make up for a year’s worth of lost time in the world’s greatest city and only one day to do it, I would need to prepare. Now, I’m going to pass on my planning to you.

Want a rough guide for your own trip or even just a visual companion? 
Click here to check out the custom, shareable Google Maps shopping guide.

    I did the research – you get the results. The following shopping/city guide is decidedly menswear focused, but a lot of the stores are unisex or have women’s-only counterparts literally on the same block. You shouldn’t feel pressured to visit every place listed in the order explicitly listed. Except for a Ground Support Coffee break somewhere in the middle. That part is mandatory.

    Here’s the rest of how to make the most of New York City (well, downtown and midtown Manhattan) in just one day.

17:00 (6:30am) City that never sleeps is right. Even after yesterday's madness, I had half an agenda just as long for today. Considering stores don't open until 9am at the earliest, you might be wondering why I'm up. There was one specific reason a few blocks away. I got coffee and a bagel in the hotel lobby, read the morning paper (when in Rome, right?), and set out for Central Park.


17:30 (7:00am) Central Park is the massive green rectangle in the corner of the map above. Just how massive? Central Park is 843 acres of preserved, maintained, and well-loved green space in the middle of midtown Manhattan. Originally opened in 1857 as a natural space in which New York's exponentially-growing population could escape the noise and pollution of city life. Fast forward 160 years, and the park is still serving its duty to the citizens of New York City.

    I got out early to beat the crowds and spent most of the morning, well, wandering. Central Park is immersive in the truest sense of the word. You don't truly realize how big Central Park is until you hear the only thing most New  Yorkers never have: silence. In the middle of the Sheep Meadow, surrounded by long grass and perched by a rock with a good book in hand, I didn't hear sirens. There were no bus tours, and at 8:00am on a summer Wednesday, no one else really even around. I smiled and read in relative silence while 8 million people moved around me. No visit to NYC is complete to me without a visit here. Central Park is an oasis in the middle of a megacity; and for that, it is superb.


19:30 (9:00am) I left Central Park and headed straight for the F Train at the 57th Street subway station. Take the F Train downtown to 23rd Street, exit the station, and walk down 5th Avenue. Swing a left at the Flatiron Building and enter Eataly. Eataly is an Italian-focused grocer and prepared food mecca specializing in food made obsession. The staff are all knowledgeable, passionate cuisiniers whose only goal is to make sure you enjoy the food you're either going to eat or taking home to eat. This includes recipe suggestions, seasonal highlights, and in the case of espresso, near categorical knowledge of a bean's source and flavor. Try the espresso from Cafe Lavazza and if you saved room for second breakfast, the Nutella Bar is a must.


    That's right - the Nutella Bar. An entire section of the store serving exclusively Nutella-based products and drinks, both hot and iced. It's gold, Jerry! Gold!


20:30 (10:00am) Exit Eataly, rejoin 5th Ave and walk a few blocks downtown to the intersection of 5th and 20th Street. Directly ahead of you, and ironically opposing Nike Running Flatiron, is New Balance New York. As you likely know, New Balance has undergone a sort of renaissance over the past few years. Gone is the stark white "dad shoe" stereotype - New Balance is the new cool. Their flagship NB Classics lifestyle line features bright retro running shoes in ultra high-quality material, including "Made in USA" models of their 574 and 996 shoes that are manufactured in Massachusetts and New York. I'm an unabashed fan of the brand (and the look, especially with selvedge denim jeans), so I took a considerable detour just to visit their NYC Flagship and have a look around. Because of my time constraint, I was there ready to break down the door when they opened at 10am. Resultantly, I had the store to myself. Enjoy the gorgeous pictures and try not to drool - it'll mess up the suede.






21:00 (10:30am) Because I was the only one there at opening, I had an awesome team of salespeople more than willing to indulge all my dumb questions ("What do all the numbers really mean?") and I was actually done pretty quickly. Exit New Balance, walk up 5th to the Flatiron Building, and take a slight left onto Broadway. If you're like me, have new-found time to spare, and enjoy the occasional leg stretch, take the 15-minute walk up Broadway to 34th Street (Herald Square). Or, if you have a MetroPass burning a hole in your wallet, take the N/R train from 23rd Street to 34th Street Station. Whichever way you take, you'll end up in the scenic Herald Square outside the world-famous flagship Macy's Building. Ignore the call of the star, walk another block up through a pedestrian mall, and enter the Urban Outfitters New York flagship.


    You know Urban Outfitters. If you're a UM student, you've probably frequented the State St. location any time you needed "going-out clothes". If you're the parent of a UM student, you've probably sat on one of their couches while your kids tried on "going-out clothes" (parents: don't ask your kids to provide examples of "going-out clothes". It's not a fun talk for either party.) UO's Herald Square store is a whole other experience altogether: thousands of square feet of clothing, home goods, records, books, and it all comes packaged with its own cafe. But you're not going to Urban Outfitters for their cranberry turkey sandwiches - you're there for their younger, playful, counterculture-made-accessible clothing from brands like Stussy, 10.Deep, Gourmet, Tom's, and Unbranded. I made the 10-block pilgrimage for that last one: I wanted to try on a pair of Unbranded denim.

    Unbranded made waves in the denim industry by offering raw, rope-dyed indigo selvedge denim at a fraction of the "industry standard" $180+ price. A pair of Unbranded jeans is made in the same factory as a pair of APC's (you'll remember them from Part I), but costs a meager $88 in comparison. Unbranded, as the name suggests, doesn't really sell an image. They rely on word-of-mouth to spread their value gospel, and reduce costs by essentially having no advertising arm, instead letting the jeans speak for themselves. Novel concept, huh?


   I tried on a pair of UB255 black jeans. The fabric had heft but still moved on your body, and the lack of industrial wash produced this gorgeous texture and sheen that you just can't find on your standard $30 blue jean from the mall. That same mental dialogue that kept me in the APC store for so long was only drawn out by the affordable price point. If NYC food prices didn't necessitate saving my last cash just to get a decent sandwich, I'd be typing this Trip Report in a pair.

22:00 (11:30am) Exit Urban Outfitters, and continue your walk up Broadway to Times Square. Don't stop walking. Elmo doesn't want to be friends, and neither does the other Elmo. Take a right onto 48th Street and walk toward 6th Ave.

22:15 (11:45am) Bask in the glow of Rockefeller Center. That's an order, Lemon. There's always some kind of grand public showing happening around 30 Rockefeller Center - when I visited, the usual array of international flags surrounding the plaza had been replaced by Old Glory to celebrate the 4th of July. There was also a tropical garden installation, complete with non-native palm trees, in the pedestrian mall on the side facing 5th Avenue. Rockefeller Center is never short on production value.



    If you're hungry, there are plenty of good (and fast) sandwich places around. They all serve about the same product, but I'll give a special shoutout to Cosi on 48th Street for their delicious flatbreads. Zero hour was rapidly approaching, and they got food out, well, really quickly. Moving on!

22:30 (12:00pm) Join 5th Avenue at Rockefeller Center and head towards uptown. 5th Avenue represents shopping as entertainment on a global scale: throngs wait outside "exclusive" stores, brands maintain flagships the length of a city block, and even on the morning right before a holiday, the streets were choked with people.

    Walk 3 blocks up and enter Uniqlo. Uniqlo is a Japanese fast-fashion retailer with perhaps the best product in the world at the quote "cheap" price point. You've undoubtedly seen their characteristic "red box" logo on everything from shopping bags to the polos of one of the world's tennis great, Novak Djokovic. Uniqlo isn't yet as popular in the US as H&M or Zara, but that just means more product - and a much less hectic shopping experience - for you.




    The selection at the 5th Avenue store is unparalleled, everything is reasonably priced, and their Japanese heritage means that their shirts actually fit my naturally slight body type. Suffice to say, I own many. There's also a Starbucks inside in case you need to feel as "New York" as possible.

23:00 (12:30pm) Exit Uniqlo, continue uptown on 5th Ave, check your watch, and walk a little bit faster. It was almost time to go, but I had one last stop planned as a triumphant capstone to this trip, and I was about right on time. Walk for around 5 minutes, cross 5th Ave at the 58th Street Intersection, and enter Bergdorf Goodman. 


(image credit: BusinessOfFashion.com)

    Full disclaimer: I am not Bergdorf's potential customer. The storied luxury department store was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf, and has since been a permanent edition to the short list of New York's elite. Gucci suiting, Maison Martin Margiela sneakers, Visvim jackets, and Rick Owens haute couture line the walls of their three-story, marble and hardwood men's store. I walked around in a daze, tried on what I dared, and saw the kinds of things a poor college kid alt-tab's in their browser - in real life. Bergdorf was everything I had hoped it would be and more. As I left, a thickly-built man in a black suit cleared the way for an older gentleman with a gold Patek Philippe watch to go from the elevator straight to a waiting leather chair by the Tom Ford tuxedos. Stay in school, kids.

Dries van Noten bomber jacket, APC jeans, and T by Alexander Wang shirt.
Filed under "reasons to all-night for that A- in Accounting"

23:50 (1:20pm) Exit Bergdorf Goodman, speed-walk your way back to the garage, and watch the second hand tick down like a bomb tech at work. Congratulations - you just checked off 12 of the world's greatest stores, visited 3 distinctive NYC eateries, and still found time to drink 2 cups of head-turning coffee. There's only 1 thing left to do.

24:00 (1:30pm) Geddouta here. 

~Alex R. -Men's Fashion

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This was Part II of a special two-part Trip Report. Start from the beginning and read Part I here!

Planning a trip? Want to get more insider tips and travel recommendations from Bivouac's expert staff? Read about our adventures to Canyonlands National Park (UT)Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (MI), and Chicago (IL), or click here to go back to the Bivouac Blog!

Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Importance of Brunch

    As the stereotypical "overworked, underpaid college student", my Sundays are usually working or studying. I rarely get the opportunity to luxuriate in the blissful combination meal known for its mid-morning lounging and delicious platters. This past Sunday, thanks to a visit from my amazing family, I had the rare opportunity to brunch.

    Brunch is indeed a verb. "To brunch" is to spend hours at the table, sampling hearty breakfast foods with the ones you love - at least that's my definition! The proper brunch starts late in the morning (so everyone can sleep in) and includes a little bit of everything: some sweet, some savory, and best of all, dessert. 

    My family and I brunched at Sava’sone of Ann Arbor’s best-known brunch destinations. Because I spent the past two months starting each morning with Honey Nut Cheerios, I took this opportunity to eat as much as I possibly could.


    The first course came in a form of Sava’s Breakfast Platter. I enjoyed this amazing plate of a sweet potato hash brown, chicken sausage, a fried egg, and toast. To say I inhaled this plate is an understatement: I ate quickly and took no prisoners. Just look at it! It's that good. My favorite item on the platter was definitely the hash brown. I am obsessed with sweet potatoes of all types, but something about a fried sweet potato topped with brown sugar and a mystery-white-sauce agreed very well with my taste buds.

    Even though I finished my food quickly, I embraced the finer points of brunching by lingering over conversation on a beautiful Sunday morning. My family and I caught up, laughed, and savored every bite of Sava's amazing cuisine! After we all cleaned our plates, a waiter appeared with dessert menus as if on queue. I literally could not contain my excitement. I am the ultimate dessert lover, especially after brunch! There is nothing better than a combination of breakfast food and rich dessert. 

    Sava’s has an incredible dessert menu, full of unique choices to suit every kind of sweet tooth from decadent fruit to rich chocolate and everything in between. After debating between getting all of the desserts—this idea was shot down by my father—I opted for a classic: the Birthday Cake. 


    WOW. Did I make the right decision or what? A combination of white cake and sweet buttercream frosting made this treat the best thing that I have ever put into my mouth. Each bite was a perfect combination of cake and frosting! The black coffee (it is brunch) accompanying it added the perfect touch of bitter. The table fell silent as my family all dug into their respective desserts. A chorus of mmmmm's and wow's replaced our normal chatter, but that's the magic of brunch: sharing an amazing experience with the people at your table.

    So, here's to brunch! Extra sleep, breakfast foods, conversation, and dessert? Brunch is avery important meal, and one that should be celebrated - maybe even with birthday cake. Happy eating, Ann Arbor! 

~Carly N. -Women's Fashion

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Hungry for more? Read about Carly's newest style obsession, her dress picks for that big dinner out, and other stylish content on the Bivouac Blog!

Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.