Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Country by Country

United States--visited plenty of different places

Mexico--Thanksgiving cruise--forgot year; high school mission trip

Canada--day trip after Alaskan cruise.

Guatemala--mission trip March 2012

The Bahamas--Spring Break 2005

Belize--Thanksgiving cruise--forgot year

Italy--cruise Summer 2006

Spain--cruise Summer 2006

Croatia--cruise Summer 2006

Monaco--cruise Summer 2006

France--Cannes on cruise Summer 2006; Paris on Senior Trip March 2009

England--Senior Trip March 2009

Scotland--Senior Trip March 2009

Finland--cruise Summer 2010

Sweden--cruise Summer 2010

Estonia--cruise Summer 2010

Norway--cruise Summer 2010

Denmark--cruise Summer 2010

Russia--cruise Summer 2010

Germany-- cruise Summer 2010

Monday, April 21, 2014

State by State

I want to visit all 50 states in my lifetime, but I've already made a pretty good dent. Thought I would write down the circumstances of my visit to each state.

Texas--Lived here 1998-present; been to numerous locales around the state

Kansas--born here 1990 and lived here until 1991; frequent trips back to family's lake cabin; most recent visit December 2013 (Topeka + suburbs)

Missouri--lived here 1991-1998; frequent trips back to see family; most recent visit December 2013 (Kansas City + suburbs)

Iowa--went several times as a kid; most recent visit July 2012 (West Branch)

Oklahoma--driven through a variety of times on the Texas-to-Missouri trip; have family that lives here; Most recent visit December 2013 (Oklahoma City)

Colorado--went once as a kid (don't remember it); most recent visit was in high school for a choir tour (Denver)

Washington--went to Seattle March 2010.

California--went to Los Angeles in high school on family trip

New York--went to New York City in March 2001.

Pennsylvania--went to Philadelphia in high school on family trip.

Georgia--frequent trips to family's beach home on Jekyll Island; went to Atlanta on a choir tour in high school; most recent visit January 2012 (Jekyll Island)

Florida--one trip to Walt Disney World as a kid; most recent visit January 2012 (Orlando)

Illinois--one trip to Springfield as a kid; most recent visit August 2009 (Chicago)

New Mexico--one trip to Albuquerque as a kid

Washington, D.C.---one trip as a kid; most recent visit on high school choir tour.

Maryland--high school choir tour went to Baltimore.

North Carolina--trip to Outer Banks as a kid.

Wyoming--trip to Yellowstone as a kid.

South Dakota--trip to Mount Rushmore as a kid

Michigan--trip to the Upper Peninsula as a kid

Indiana--went to a United Methodist Student Foundation conference in Evanston in May 2010

Alaska--cruise in Summer 2005

Massachusetts--trip to Boston March 2014

Virginia--one trip to Mount Vernon/Monticello as a kid; most recent visit Summer 2013 (Williamsburg)

Tennessee--trip to Nashville on high school choir tour

Louisiana--one trip to Shreveport as a kid; most recent visit on a mission trip to New Orleans in high school

Arkansas--one trip to Little Rock as a kid; various family reunions; most recent visit in September 2013 (Eureka Springs)

Other:

I've been to these states but only briefly, thus I don't count them in my total.

Delaware--Got lost driving in Pennsylvania and ended up in Delaware for a few minutes.

New Jersey--Rode the subway to New Jersey from New York City and then came back.

Alabama--drove through while driving from Texas to Georgia as a kid.

Mississippi--drove through while driving from Texas to Georgia as a kid.

Kentucky--drove through while driving from Missouri to Georgia as a kid.

Nebraska--drove through while driving from Missouri to South Dakota as a kid.

Minnesota--had a layover in the Minneapolis airport flying from Texas to Alaska.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Boston Day 7

On our last full day in Boston, our nice weather came to an end. We awoke to 20 degrees and snowing. We ate, checked out of our hotel, drove the car back, and was dropped off at the subway by the nice and cute car rental manager. We rode back to the hotel we previously stayed at, checked in to a different room, and then immediately went straight back out to Quincy.

Quincy, I’m sad to say, was nearly a total bust. We got out there and first stopped for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (which I had never had before) because it was FREEZING. It stopped snowing though. We then walked to the Visitor Center, only to find out that it was impractical to visit the 2 birthplaces (John Adams’ and John Quincy Adams’). Additionally, the church where the 2 presidents + their wives are buried was closed. We could visit the house John and Abigail bought later in life though. We had known all 3 houses were closed for winter, but had hoped to walk around a bit outside them. It was too cold to walk all the way out to the birthplaces and there was no public transportation out there.

We ate lunch at Sher-a-Punjab, an Indian restaurant across the street from the Visitor Center. We then toured the Quincy Historical Society Museum, which was small, but interesting. There was a lot about the extended Quincy and Adams families, as well as the Hancock family. After that, we walked to Peacefield, the house John and Abigail bought later in life and took pictures. It was unpleasant though, due to the cold. I peered in the windows, but could not see anything. I’m glad I got to see one house though. We walked back to the Visitor Center. Mom and I stopped in the church graveyard to see the extended Adams and Quincy family graves (John Adams’ parents, siblings, etc.). The presidents + wives are buried in a crypt within the church though. We walked back to the Visitor Center and watched a movie.


(Peacefield)

We left about 3:30 and rode the subway back for the last time. We had a quiet night, eating in the hotel restaurant. Mom and I used the hotel hot tub, which we had been saying we would do all week. We flew back the next morning.

And so our trip to Boston ended with a whimper. I’m disappointed about Quincy, but I definitely plan to come back someday in the summer (or at least later in spring) to see all 3 houses and the graves in their glory. We were extremely lucky to have 6 days of good weather and only 1 of bad. I enjoyed Boston a lot, and am glad I got to go.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Boston Day 6

We got up and had breakfast at the hotel. In the winter, everything in Concord is either closed or it opens late, so we started our morning by driving around to take pictures—we took pictures of Emerson’s house (closed for the winter season), Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house (closed for renovations), and Louisa May Alcott’s house. It was expected to rain in the afternoon, so we wanted to get our pictures done early. We still had to read in the car for 30 minutes though.

(Emerson's house)

(Louisa May Alcott's house)

At 11, the Concord Museum opened. It is a small, but well-managed museum. Thoreau’s original desk is there as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s entire study. (I never could figure out why it’s not in his house.) There are period rooms and lots of interesting artifacts. Concord has had an impressive history from Indian times on.




We had lunch at the Trail’s End Cafe, which was delicious. We lingered a bit, but about 1:30, we headed for a tour of Louisa May Alcott’s house. It was a fairly typical home, but I enjoyed seeing her bedroom. The tour felt a bit rushed—I would have liked to linger, in Louisa’s room particularly. But I was pleased to see it and to learn a bit more about her and her family.

While we were touring the house, the rain started. We made a quick stop at the Concord Free Public Library, which was a gorgeous place. There were busts of all the Concord writers and each writer had their own section. Definitely a place I would frequent a lot if I lived in the area.

(Emerson statute at the library.)

We went back to the hotel and rested. We had leftovers for dinner, but then went out for dessert at Margarita’s, the Mexican restaurant next door to our hotel. I had HUGE sopapillas. 

Interesting fact of the day: we typically say Henry David Thoreau’s name Ther-row, but apparently the proper way to say it is just like the word thorough. The guide at the Louisa May Alcott house informed us of this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Day 5

We got up early, ate breakfast, and checked out of our hotel. We took the subway and then the local bus to Lexington. We had reserved a rental car for noon, but got there early enough to pick it up by 11 am. We drove to downtown Concord and ate at the Colonial Inn. I had the Alcott sandwich, which I chose mostly due to its name. It was delicious though. After lunch, we explored downtown Concord before heading to the North Bridge, which is where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired. It was a lot smaller than I imagined for some reason. The path to the bridge wasn’t clear so our shoes got muddy and wet. But I enjoyed seeing the bridge—the weather was beautiful and the river was so clear. You can also see the Old Manse House, which was owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather—Ralph created some of his earliest writings there. Ralph also let Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife live there for awhile as well.



Next, we drove to Walden Pond, which was the highlight of the trip. We had to walk a LONG way in snow, but the weather was beautiful. The pond was frozen and I walked on it for awhile. When we got up to the site of Thoreau’s cabin, there was only foundation markers. We sat on them and watched the lake for awhile. It was extremely peaceful, and I could definitely see the appeal of living out there. We walked back and looked at the replica of the cabin, which was surprisingly well-furnished. Thoreau used his space wisely! It was my favorite part of the trip by far.







Afterwards, we drove to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. My parents were worn out, so I walked up to Authors’ Ridge by myself and saw the graves of Emerson, Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, along with their families. It took me awhile to find the graves, and two gentlemen directed me. The path up was icy and one of the gents asked if I was sure I wanted to go up. I told him that “I’ve come all the way from Texas, so I’ve got to go up!” The walk wasn’t that bad—there were handles. The sun was setting and I sat on a bench opposite Louisa’s grave for awhile. It was quite lovely.



We went back to the hotel via the scenic route and rested for awhile. We had dinner at Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant in Lexington. It was terrible service though—don’t go there if you’re ever in Lexington.

The weather was amazing—sunny and crisp. We picked the right time to come in my opinion. The paths weren’t the best, but the solitude made up for it. Apparently in the summer it gets horribly crowded in Concord, which I would not enjoy. Sitting at Thoreau’s cabin or at Louisa’s grave alone for 10 minutes or so would not happen in the summer. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Day 4


We got up at 8, but it took us awhile to get down to breakfast. We didn’t leave the hotel until around 10. We took the subway out to Harvard. We went to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. They were both impeccably designed and managed. I got done early, and read my Kindle in the lobby. About 1:30, we walked to Harvard Square. We ate at Charlie’s Kitchen, a student hangout recommended by the museum front desk. Afterwards, we walked to the main library but couldn’t go in.  : ( We also looked at the Divinity School and Law School. (Yes, I totally quoted Legally Blonde, what kind of woman do you think I am?) We ended by going to the Harvard Semitic Museum. We walked back to the subway and got back to the hotel at 5:30. We rested, then went for dinner at Mario’s, a local Italian place recommended by the hotel about 8. We had dessert—mine was the most delicious cannoli!

(Harvard)


I liked Harvard, though it seemed like a typical college for all the hype said about it. Granted, I didn’t attend any classes or look at the dorm rooms or anything. Just looking at the student body though—if you took off their Harvard sweatshirts, they’d be average people. Walking around Harvard Square was interesting—Cambridge seems like a typical college town albeit richer. There’s an Urban Outfitters and a Lush in Harvard Square, along with a variety of other stores. But we ate at a restaurant in the square that was said to be a favorite student haunt and my entree only cost $6. The museums all clearly had money invested in them. There were professor offices throughout all three museums and it was interesting to peek in the windows.

I also like the red brick buildings of Harvard. I’ve always held that a college with red brick is the “standard,” despite going to two schools that have barely any red brick. I think I just like the romance of it, though the cold dissuades me from ever going to an Ivy League school.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Boston Day 3

We got up at 8 and ate breakfast. We were planning to go to the Adams house today, but had misread the hours. Luckily, we noticed it was closed on Sunday before we went all the way out to Quincy. It took us awhile to decide what to do instead, so we didn’t leave the hotel until 9:30. We took the hotel shuttle, the subway, and finally the shuttle bus to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on the campus of UMass-Boston.

UMass-Boston has a ton of construction going on, so obviously some of the economy is doing well. The Library is gorgeous with white brick and huge glass windows that overlook Boston Harbor. We ate lunch in the museum cafe, which also has a lovely view.




(View of Boston from outside the library.)


The exhibits were nice, telling about JFK’s life, times, and presidency. All the usual suspects were there: the first lady’s dresses, family photos, the family Bible, Oval Office replica, etc. When you’ve been to seven presidential libraries, you start taking a critical eye. It was a bit on the smaller side, due to his shorter presidency. Mom and I got done way before Dad so I read my Kindle and walked around the grounds a bit. My Dad finished about 3:30 and we went back via shuttle bus and subway. We got off at the New England Aquarium and walked to the Boston Tea Party marker. There was a museum about the event that was closed, so we just took pictures of the Harbor. We rode the rest of the way back and got picked up and taken back to the hotel.



(At Boston Harbor!)

Mom and I had leftovers so we ate those and then shared a salad at the hotel restaurant while Dad ate. We had a quiet evening, reading and whatnot.