A concert of nostalgia, great entertainment and peace

As another travel experience to blog about, I’m going to start posting my thoughts on both music festivals and major concerts. I haven’t written about too many of these events in my blogging pursuits. But in some cases, getting to these events may take going a bit far from home and would be part of visiting a destination…sometimes, one that is new to me.

I’m not far at all from the sporting / concert arena scene of Philadelphia, though. My most recent drive up to that area was to see the Total Package Tour, headlined by my generation’s boy band New Kids on the Block, with guests Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul at Wells Fargo Center. I hadn’t seen the Philly a cappella group or choreographer / dancer / singer / “American Idol” judge before. But years back, I saw NKOTB at Valley Forge Music Fair with opening acts including Tommy Page (R.I.P.) and Tiffany. Finding out they had a new tour with a local concert date, I had to see them again for the nostalgia of it. It brought back memories of that craze among so many teen girls, include my friends and I. Not to mention all of the fan merchandise…I had tons of it. Two girls in my neighborhood had crushes on Jonathan Knight, another liked Joe McIntyre and Donnie Wahlberg was the favorite of another girl. A few others outside of my immediate circle of friends had Danny Wood pins on their jackets. My favorite was Jordan Knight…his eyes, smile and voice made me melt!

While meeting up recently with a high school friend for lunch, the familiar beat of “You’ve Got It (The Right Stuff)” could be heard in the restaurant. I didn’t know this particular friend when NKOTB first became popular, so it got us talking about which guy we liked the most (she was a Joe McIntyre fan) and if we’d seen them in those early days.

Moments from before the show made me think about how these events bring strangers together. We could all relate to that fandom of performers we’re going to see and even to fond memories recalled by enjoying the same songs. A few people in line near me were excited about particular favorite songs and one woman danced while singing out, “Still sounds good,” a new NKOTB song. When I heard the first two lines of that song via iTunes, I was hooked, loving the mix of nostalgic references throughout the lyrics.

A Wahlburger’s truck was in the parking lot near the side of the venue where I waited and in the distance, enthusiastic screams could be heard. Everyone around me looked toward the lot in hopes to see of the night’s performers.

Doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and once inside, I decided to purchase concert souvenirs – a black shirt with the song title “One More Night” in red lettering, an NKOTB tour book and keychain. As I waited in line, I spotted an elderly woman wearing a shirt that read, “I love Donnie,” a red heart shape in place of the word “love.” A younger fan had on a shirt with the phrase, “If lost please return to…,” but I didn’t catch which name revealed her favorite.

Boyz II Men kicked off the show with the energetic “Motownphilly,” followed by more classics to which the crowd song along. They also performed a great rendition of The Guess Who’s classic rock song, “American Woman.” At some point during their segment of the concert, one of the Boyz shared the news of being honored in Philly with a city street renamed for them. Boyz II Men Blvd was now a part of their hometown and it had just happened earlier that same day. I actually didn’t know about it until that moment in the show, so it was one of the unexpected cool moments from catching this tour.

Paula Abdul began her set list with “The Way That You Love Me,” one I hadn’t heard in a long time. She performed many of her dance hit tunes, leaving “Straight Up” until near the end of her show. But before that number, she talked about back when trying out to be a cheerleader, as well as early inspirations which drew her to dancing. My favorites of the songs she performed included “Straight Up,” because back in high school, I totally experienced that sense of, boy, just tell me how you feel? Another one she sang that I’ve always loved was the song “Rush Rush,” partly for the video’s “Rebel Without A Cause” theme. That, as well as the way I felt about that same crush when this romantic ballad first began to play on the radio and TV.

NKOTB made a dramatic entrance, coming up out of the stage on a platform section and into layers of fog effects. It was unbelievable, the big moment, getting to see my favorite boy band again after all these years! They kicked off their show with a new song, “One More Night,” Jordan stepping out from the group as the fog slowly dissipated.

Whenever they sang songs from their “Hangin’ Tough” album, it took me back to those early days of the New Kids craze. Not only that, but memories of seeing them in concert came to mind. I remember standing along a fence with so many other fans, waiting to catch a glimpse of Jordan, Donnie, Joe, Jonathan and Danny as they emerged from a tour bus. Screams erupted all around as they came into view and then it was time to head into the concert hall.

But it wasn’t only the favorite tunes from those days I was excited to see performed this time. As songs from “Thankful” became available to buy, I bought them on iTunes and played each one over and over. I love reminiscent vibe of “Still Sounds Good” because anyone could relate to it, thinking back to whatever pop culture moments they grew up with and enjoyed. “One More Night” and “Heartbeat,” romantic in their own way, could make any fan swoon upon hearing lyrics song by their favorite New Kid member. “Hard (Not Luvin’ U)” brought Jordan out front and center stage, driving the audience wild as he performed a sexy dance.

Other songs on the set list included “Dirty Dancing,” from another album over the years, catchy with its references to the movie of the same name. “Remix (I Like The)” is full of cool beats to gets fans dancing. “Step By Step,” going way back again with this one, was my favorite hit from the same-titled album. Another swoon-inducing performance, also from their early years, was “I’ll Be Loving You Forever,” Jordan singing lead and hitting all those high notes.

A couple of sweet moments happened during NKOTB’s time on stage. Donnie brought a young girl up on stage. They were too far for me to get a good photo, so I captured the image via a large screen. Part of the girl’s face was partially whited out in my photo from the lighting, but okay enough to show her excitement to be onstage. Then he brought another young girl up to join him moments later. I couldn’t quite make out the words on her shirt. Donnie read to the crowd, “My first concert.” They had been my first concert, too. One lucky woman was serenaded with “Happy Birthday!”

Showing his humorous side, Donnie made a few jokes when an image of their first album cover showed on a large stage screen and another time when getting ready to sing a song called, “Dirty Dawg.” As they performed it, scenes from the video played and I hadn’t seen it before. So, after the concert, I looked it up on YouTube – loved the way Jordan sang it, his expressions, as well as his street style from that time. He reminded me of my high school crush, who had a smoldering expression, along with the similar way he dressed. Not just in that video, but in general as well.

Donnie brought Boyz II Men back up onstage with their sound of Philly, through an encore of “Motownphilly.” He also recognized their Boyz II Men Blvd honor, holding up the sign while he and fellow NKOTB members shared the stage. It was such a great moment of celebrating my nearest major city, along with its art and entertainment brought to the world.

Near the end of the concert, NKOTB performed Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” which sounded awesome back-to-back with “Games.” With the crowd pumped, Donnie and fellow New Kids led everyone to get their peace signs up as an inspiring and powerful message. It was one of coming to the show, having no fear in doing so and made me think of how so much has changed in the world since last seeing NKOTB. Back then, we didn’t have to worry about and couldn’t even imagine tragedies such as the terror attack at Ariana Grande’s show in Manchester, England…or anywhere else we go for fun and entertainment. Peace signs filled the audience in the spirit of fighting fear.

Overall, it was amazing to see my favorite boy band again and with a wide range of spectacular effects. Along with their earlier hits, I’ve got new favorites among their latest album, others over the years…from which they had a great mix for the audience to enjoy. They didn’t have Jordan Knight’s solo songs on the set list, but I love the work he’s done on his own, as well as collaborations with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. My favorite Nick & Knight song is “Drive My Car.” I loved also getting to see live performances by artists who took me back to my high school years with their songs. Next time, I hope one or more of my friends can join me and maybe we’ll be down in the pit area by the stage. It was one night full of nostalgia, much like NKOTB’s new song “Still Sounds Good.” Below are more favorite photos of moments I captured during the show.

With the Total Package Tour over now, I already can’t wait to catch NKOTB when a concert date brings them my town again!

Posted in Concerts, Entertainment, Music, Nostalgia, Philadelphia, Pop Culture, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mystery of Amelia Earhart

Amelia-Earhart-Plane

Amelia-Earhart-Facts

This famous mystery has always held my interest. Amelia Earhart was definitely a pioneer in aviation and the bravery she had for her flight goals inspired me. Not to be a pilot myself. That was never a path for me, career-wise or as a hobby. It was all about travel and seeing the world, going on adventures all over the globe. For the longest time, I hadn’t taken to the air to visit distance places. Despite some fear of flying, I always wanted to experience what’s out there in other cultures. I wanted to be brave and go see many countries. Because of my interest in travel, I always felt like it was a key element that would allow me to live life to the fullest. That’s part of why pioneering adventurers always capture my attention. They’re brave in doing what they have to do in pursuing something amazing. In Earhart’s case, it’s also the factor of her disappearance as a story that had the world wondering for so long about her fate.

Now, with the recent news of a photo possible showing Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan, I had watch the History Channel program to follow up. I was particularly impressed by the means of analyzing faces and bodies by features, shape and size to identify the two believed to be the famous aviators. In determining who the figures could be, the man showing how to analyze photos used different ways to do so based on various elements – their poses, what was visible, etc. Such a close match for both Earhart and Noonan fascinated me. I’m not a photography expert in terms of examining images for signs of authenticity or being doctored. But to me, it had to be the real deal. One thing’s for sure. the dock scene photo stirred the imagination, bringing a decades-long mystery back into the spotlight of breaking news. What could we find out about other puzzling stories in history?

It all makes me wish I were a world adventurer, one like Josh Gates of the Travel Channel, seeking out more details to stories that have stirred our minds. I love the amazing places he goes to on his show, “Expedition Unknown,” as well as how in awe he is of being where legends of the past have walked. Maybe one of these days, I’ll do the same as a traveler curious about destinations that make visitors ponder the past.

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Checking out hotrods at Delaware Park Casino

The roar of engines revved as cool wheels entered the rear parking lot at Delaware Park Casino, joining many hotrods already on display. As each car cruised slowly by, onlookers turned heads to watch impressive vehicles with powerful, thundering sounds.

“Those were the good ole’ days,” I overheard one man in his 50s or 60s say to a man of about the same age. A sunny afternoon early in June, it made for a perfect moment for someone to reminisce about days gone by in hotrods…or wish they were around in those times.

So many stunning cars, I didn’t know where to start in wandering among them and taking photos. Custom Camaros, Corvettes and Mustangs came into view first – they always lure me in for a closer look.

I bought a metal sign showing the various generations of Chevy Camaro, my all-time favorite hotrod. The guy who had the signs set up for sale asked me if I had a Camaro or liked them. I told him I have a 2000, but they’ve always been my favorite and that my dad used to have a blue ’69 from his younger days and later, a red ‘67. The vendor said Chevy did really well with the Camaro over the years.

My dad’s red ’67, hard top, black stripe around the front end…he had that Camaro during my junior and senior years of high school and I couldn’t wait to get my license. I was hoping to be behind the wheel by sometime during the summer before senior year. Then, that September, drive to school in it, engine rumbling, even going slowly up the winding campus driveway.

Here are just a few photos I took of this muscle car at Delaware Park.

Red-Camaro-Blue-Flames-1

Dark-Blue-Classic-Camaro-1

Dark-Blue-Classic-Camaro-Dice-1-2

Light-Blue-Classic-Camaro-1

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A more recent and close second favorite lately is the Dodge Challenger and at this car show, many of the newest models were represented. In fact, this was the first time I’d seen so many of them at one car show. I’ve been seeing more and more of them whenever I’m out somewhere. I especially love the new models; they are awesome!

Black-Challenger-Front-End

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Classic-Orange-Challenger

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Retro songs played, from hits by The Beach Boys to musical numbers featured in “Grease” (“You’re The One That I Want” and “Grease Lightning”). Such great music! Not only that, but I feel as though I’m in my element at these car shows. You can see why, what with so many favorite cool wheels.

Red-Orange-Corvettes

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Classic-Chevy-BA

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Classic-Black-Mercury-BA-1-2

Classic-Black-Streetrod

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Classic-BA-Blue-Flames

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This makes the second time I’ve been to a car show at Delaware Park, the event in particular called Beers and Gears. Anyone attending could also grab a bite to eat from food trucks lined up in the lot area running along the casino’s main driveway. I’m already looking forward to next year’s car show because you never know what you’ll see.

Posted in Car Shows, Cars, Delaware | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local music festivals heading into summer 2017

My local area has come alive with warm-weather entertainment, inspiring me to catch a few shows on the days and nights heading into summer. Last year, two of my high school friends and I went to Rose Tree Park for a free concert. With such great music, I couldn’t wait to see who’d be on this year’s schedule of performers. But along with the shows held there, the warmer months always pique my interest in fun activities and events that my friends and I could try to meet up for sometime.

Wayne Music Festival

Wayne-Music-Fest-1

A crowd of people milled about, others kicked back in outdoor seating, while music played just up the street as I arrived. The festival stretched between the nearest train station and Lancaster Avenue, along North Wayne Avenue. At that intersection, a police blockade was set up and just beyond, a band entertained from under the shade of a tent. So, even passersby in their cars could catch a glimpse of the festivities as they rode through downtown Wayne.

One band on a larger stage was going through member introductions and then the lead singer talked about songs on the set list. He said into his mic, “Freebird,” to which people in the crowd called out, “Freebird!” A beer garden was set up under a large tent within sight of the stage, allowing festival attendees to sit, relax, try a brew and listen to live tunes.

The smell of steaks, hotdogs and more festival food filled the air as they sizzled on vendor grills, releasing an occasional puff of smoke. A few restaurants also lined the street with tents just outside of their dining establishment.

Two that I’ve been to before and love include Christopher’s A Neighborhood Place and The Great American Pub. Outside of the pub, located on one corner, trees were decorated with strings of light, adding to the fun-filled atmosphere. Christopher’s is just down N. Wayne Avenue from the pub, walking toward Lancaster Avenue. I still have to try Matador next time I’m in the area.

Several vendors at the festival had their craftwork on display and one depicted images of Philadelphia icons in art. Necklaces with colorful gemstones were lined up in cases at another table. Between the shopping vendors and Wayne stores, this festival is definitely an event at which someone can make a day out of while enjoying great music. Main Point Books is one of the downtown stores, located along N. Wayne Avenue.

I’m not from within the city of Philadelphia. But for those who are or new to the area, Wayne is accessible by train and ready to enjoy when you stop at the Septa Wayne Station. This year’s festival was held for one day – Saturday, June 10. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the 2018 event as the second weekend of the month gets closer.

State Street Blues in Media

Media-PA-Sign

I found out a little late about this festival, held in downtown Media, Pa. and decided to check it out next year. Besides, I still had plans to attend the Wayne Music Festival. With many shops and dining options, the downtown area of Media is always a great place to visit. It’s another popular spot for festivals, including those for food and crafts. For more on that, check out my blog post on the 35th Annual Food and Craft Festival from fall 2015. So, having heard various blues songs over the years, but not actually attending an event focusing on it, I’m looking forward to going to the State Street Blues next time. It’ll be the chance to take in some new entertainment throughout town at participating venues.

Rose Tree Park Summer Concert Series

RTP-Outdoor-Stage

This annual event features a variety of music genres by bands who perform on an outdoor stage. In recent years, I’ve been to see The Fabulous Greaseband, Irish band Blackthorn and The British Invasion Years band. Along with classics by rockers from across the pond, British Invasion also covered classic American hits. The concert series just recently started up for this year and I’m hoping to check out many more shows in the current line-up.

I enjoy going to Rose Tree not only for the concerts, which are free, but also for other events held there. Some of these include a Wounded Warriors Walk and car shows. With a huge American flag waving overhead, it’s a great place for all-American activities.

USA-Flag-RTP-2

Since I mentioned car shows, I went to one early in June, set up in the back lot at Delaware Park Casino. I’ll be sharing some favorite photos from that event next.

Posted in Dining, Entertainment, Festivals, Food, Foodie, Media, Pennsylvania, Travel, Wayne | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slow year of travel in 2016, plans for 2017 and beyond

This past year hasn’t been too exciting in terms of travel, after it turned out that I couldn’t make it to Sicily. What happened was that the money for the England trip, for whatever reason, couldn’t be applied to Sicily and made covering the cost more difficult. I still have a plane ticket to use until May 9, 2017. I’d have to go somewhere and come back by that date. It’s just a matter of getting any remaining travel expenses figured out. There’s also the idea of trying to find a travel partner among anyone I know. With my lack of travel abroad experience, I’m not sure if I’m ready for going solo. Although, I’m considering it because of the first-time adventure it would bring on.

I probably won’t use that ticket to explore Sicily on my own, due to extra costs in comparison to England. When it was still possible to go, I found out that I’d have to fly to Italy. I loved that because it allowed for an extra country on the way and I’ve always wanted to go there as well. But how would I cover airfare for the flights between Italy and Sicily, not to mention the overall tuition? A deadline of mid-November was approaching faster than the money could be saved and financial aid at my college wouldn’t be able to help with funding until spring. If I could visit
more places, I’d be a full-time travel blogger; at least, I’d hope to make that my dream career.

Despite having to let go of this Mediterranean adventure, I looked at it this way: it doesn’t mean that it’ll never happen. If ever I get another chance, I have the itinerary, so I’m not at a loss for what to do once there. One item on the schedule even included an excursion up onto the active volcano, Mt. Etna, a thrill-seeking experience I never pictured myself having the opportunity to do! Also in the plans, diving into the foodie side of culture with a cooking class. That’s definitely on my must-do list for European travel.

My family also encountered a health emergency when my dad went into the hospital in late October. Not knowing what was going to happen, it would’ve been best to back out of Sicily if I was all set to go. He had congestive heart failure and was kept for 12 days, but is doing much better now. Arrangements were made for a nurse and a physical therapist to see him at home once he was hospital. Medicine, better diet and exercise have become part of his new daily routine to prevent another scare.

Like any year at this time, winter weather always tends to hinder any significant travel plans. So, I’m just keeping it local in the next few months for that reason as well. If some mild temperatures
hold up during a certain January weekend, I’d like to attend a photo shoot at a dam in Maryland, to capture images of bald eagles. These majestic birds are among many subjects that I’d love to take photos of in nature. Besides, I can always make a stop or two there after we’re well into spring if it gets too wintry. So, that’s one possible trip within my surrounding region, even if I
end up waiting for warmer days.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy new year, as well as with any travels in 2017!

Posted in Adventures, Air Travel, England, International, Italy, Maryland, Nature, Photography, Sicily, Solo Travel, Travel, Weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel plans change, new adventure awaits

An opportunity to visit England this summer changed unexpectedly, yet I’m hoping that it’ll only lead to another chance soon. I have until early May 2017 to use my airline ticket, so I figured, why not make it up by going to England by then? While over there, I’d love to add several other destinations to my plans – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a return to Ireland – before coming back home.

galway celt knotwork

This might even end up being first-time solo travel experience, since I’m not sure if anyone will be able to join me. It’s hard for me to believe I could possibly be taking that on, considering I’m not an experienced globe trekker. However, so many bloggers writing about their solo adventures have inspired my wanderlust with the places they’ve been to and I would dream about following in their steps. Solo or not, a number of sites to see and places to eat are saved in Foursquare lists for each country in the British Isles. Too many to name in these enchanting destinations!

I also recently found out about a winter trip to Sicily, offered by my grad school. Unlike Italy, this small country isn’t one that I know much about in terms of sightseeing. A link sent out about the opportunity included photos of amazing ancient sites to check out. So, whether or not I use my airline ticket for Sicily, instead of going to the British Isles, I’ve decided to add it to my list of must-see countries. Maybe I’ll make it an Italy / Sicily / Greece combo trip in that case. It won’t be long until I know for sure about going to Italy’s island neighbor, but if not, I’ll be working on my U.K. travel plans.

Posted in Air Travel, British Isles, England, Foursquare, Greece, International, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sicily, Solo Travel, Travel, UK, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cool, unique rides rev up thoughts of summer

Car shows are always among my favorite events as spring warms up and we head toward summertime. A part of decades past, they inspire fans to reminisce about driving in the days of hotrods. For me, they’re about appreciating the cool cars we just don’t see everyday. At two events this month, a few cars in particular stood out to me. Here are some of my favorites (the first three were taken at Rose Tree Park in Media, Pa., the rest were taken at Delaware Park Casino’s Beers and Gears):

I don’t often see this model of an old Dodge, a Coronet. What caught my attention was how it reminded me of the menacing “Christine” movie car, although it wasn’t the same brand that set out chasing the onscreen teens.

Christine Car LAL 1

While checking out a McLaren, everyone was amazed at its lack of visible handles on doors that looked like they opened DeLorean-style. Maybe they were hidden under the top edge jutting out over the doors’ middle section. Well, either way, it sure was impressive!

McLaren 5

McLaren 7

The Chevy Camaro is my all-time favorite sports car and a custom-made model like I’d never seen before was a stunning set of wheels.

Super Camaro 1

Next, these two VW vans reminded me of when a neighbor owned one and I rode in it with them on trips to a local state park. It was more similar to the yellow one, minus the roof rack. They’re a symbol of fun times during my childhood.

Yellow VW Van 2

Red VW Van 1

I love these classic hotrods with eye-catching flames painted on the hood and along the sides! Although I see these at many car shows, this one came with its own unique element. The framed set of photos leaning up against its front end shared what must have been an amazing road trip in a head-turning cool ride.

Roadtrip Flame Car 1

This pick-up truck was unusual to me simply because of the name on it: Corvair. Until then, I’d only seen it featured on sporty little cars.

Corvair Truck 2

A real antique, this model by Stanley, as in the steamer company. I’ve seen old Fords (not usually blue) at various car shows and they always fascinate me because of how far back they were made. Not only that, but it’s the difference between them and cars of today. The same goes for this car, of course, carrying a familiar name and the history that goes with it.

Stanley Car 1

What seemed like an old cop car, now maybe used as a rat rod, drew my curiosity to get a closer look. The worn appearance made me imagine an intriguing past. Stepping up to it, I noticed variety of items on the dashboard and couldn’t help but wonder about them as well.

Trinket Rad Rod 1

Trinket Rad Rod 2

Lastly, an old Chevy pick-up, worn but showing a striking blue color was a reminder of an uncle’s classic truck. When I was younger, my parents and I sometimes happened to spot him out on the road and I always thought it was neat to see among newer cars.

Old Blue Ch Truck 1

Until next time, I’m looking forward to more car shows in the coming months.

Posted in Antique Cars, Car Shows, Cars, Classic Cars, Delaware, Pennsylvania | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment