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

Travel memories sparked, goals renewed via Facebook and old blogs

A particular experience that is waiting to be checked off of my travel bucket list was among recent “On This Day” Facebook posts. It was an article about options for staying at a lighthouse. Since the original date I’d shared it, new people had been added to my friend list. So, I thought, why not re-share this?

Maritime Windchime

Maybe recent connections would also enjoy reading about which beacons are available as unique accommodations. Besides, doing so made for quick access once more to an item hidden way back in my timeline. If a friend or I wanted to make reservations at a lighthouse, the information would be easy to find. That’s why I like the “On This Day” feature; it serves a purpose as a helpful reference, making content worthy of sharing again. Also, a travel goal is brought back to the forefront of my mind. Seeing that “stay at a lighthouse” article again was like a reminder sounding off: “Here’s one of your travel goals. Get to it; it’ll be amazing!”

I’m planning to re-share some old blog posts from another platform as well. Long before I used WordPress, a favorite place to share thoughts was on Yahoo! 360 and when that section was to be discontinued, I saved copies of all that I posted there. I also wrote on the Myspace blog section, but started to back up those posts as well, upon deciding to cancel my account. Although what I wrote about on both Yahoo! 360 and Myspace varied in topics, there were a number of travel-themed posts. Among those were a variety of road trip ideas; who doesn’t love a good road trip?

While on the subject of such adventures, I’m looking forward to further exploration of Delaware, including a number of scenic state parks; it’s a perfect idea, now that spring is here! To top off park visits, why not enjoy dining at a restaurant with a relaxing maritime view as well? A list of these were included in an article, entitled, “18 Incredible Waterfront Restaurants in Delaware That Everyone Should Visit,” via a Web site called Only In Your State.

Anyway, since I only have the hard copies of my old posts, I want to re-share them as new content here every so often. Depending on the destination, there may be more I’d like to add to the originals. I’m also hoping that they will help with my upcoming thesis, which will be a collection of short travel stories to complete my MFA in creative nonfiction.

So, here’s to renewing travel plans!

Posted in Adventures, Coastal, Delaware, Dining, Food, Foodie, Lighthouses, Maritime, Nature, Scenic, State Parks, Travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One trip a no-go, while other travel plans move forward

Earlier in the semester, I learned about two academic opportunities, both of which would lead to more first-time travel experiences. A trip to Los Angeles was for the purpose of attending this year’s AWP event, an Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference. The other possible journey, a 10-day global studies program in England, also piqued my interest. When I first wrote about these a couple of posts back, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to take on both and if not, which place would I visit? I loved the idea of going to L.A. and during leisure time, touring movie sites and spotting the names of favorite classic and present-day celebrities on the Walk of Fame. England would bring chances of visiting literary and film locations, as well as excursions to its neighboring countries.

Plane Overhead

The writer’s conference is coming up soon, yet I won’t be going out to the City of Angels for this year’s AWP. Attending one of these events was a goal I’d hoped to accomplish prior to my graduation, but I still have another chance within my region. As for L.A., I can set that aside for whenever I’m ready for a vacation along the west coast. Until then, I guess I’ll be dreaming of California!

What about England? Well, I paid my deposit a few days ago, setting in motion a first-time visit to the home of favorites in British literature. I’ll make it a point to stop at Shakespeare and Jane Austen sites along the way. In terms of on-screen adaptations of the latter, I’d love to see the places featured in “Pride and Prejudice” as well. The group I’ll be traveling with will be staying in Oxford, not too far from Highclere Castle of “Downton Abbey” fame; can’t miss that! Of course, there is a lot more on my must-see England list, since I’ve been wanting to go there for quite a long time.

Our leisure time abroad consists of two days and a handout for the trip inspired several ideas for sightseeing. We can visit Scotland, Wales and / or head on over to mainland Europe for a tour of Paris. I sure would love to make this trip abroad a 4-country experience! I’ll have to coordinate with some others as our departure date gets closer. But first I have to book my flights soon and then comes focusing on details of what places to explore.

Scottish Flag

Welsh Flag Bruxelles Bar

I also have to purchase a new DSLR camera, which I’ve been planning to do anyway after repeat shutter problems. Just before my trip to Ireland, I almost decided to leave my camera at home and at the last minute was in favor of bringing it along. It was a good thing, too. Taking photos often with my phone, the battery drained quickly and opportunities to recharge weren’t always long enough to reach 100%. Depending on sales, maybe I could get a wi-fi ready model this time. Whatever one I get, I just know that I’d certainly need a backup means of capturing images of my travels. That goes for local day trips as well, after months of only using my phone for photography.

Now that I’m in the early stages of going to England, I’ll be updating more between now and then, as I did fore Ireland. I did so partly due to having a journaling assignment for that global studies trip.

If you’ve been to England, what were your favorite places? If not, what sites are on your must-see list?

Posted in Air Travel, British Isles, California, Education, England, English Literature, Film Locations, France, Global Studies, Jane Austen, Literary, Los Angeles, Oxford, Paris, Photography, Scotland, Shakespeare, Study Abroad, Travel, UK, Wales, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A grand future ahead for the S.S. United States

IMG 2056 SSUS

After waiting for announcement regarding the S.S. United States, I was excited to hear even better news than expected. What I’d heard prior to that was the possibility of the ship being moved from its current dock near Penn’s Landing to New York, according to this philly.com article. My hopes were that renovations would lead to a museum and hotel combination with multiple dining options; maybe serve as an event space? Our flagship could be the east coast and American version of the Queen Mary, an impressive attractive in a California dock.

With Feb. 4 came news of plans to make the ship seaworthy again with the help of Crystal Cruises, via the S.S. United States Conservancy. Such a reveal had me instantly excited to one day witness that very scene of the S.S. United States leaving port for a voyage! Given the worldwide attention this cause has gained, I believe that we’ll see it happen. The ship is a beloved, amazing piece of maritime history and ever since I first learned about it, I kept my hopes up. Even when I felt uncertain about the outcome, I couldn’t imagine things not working out for the best. So many have come together to follow what lay ahead for the S.S. United States.

Getting to see up close the ship in its current state during onboard photo tours, I could only hope that a scrapyard wasn’t in its future. I had no idea what the choices were, not knowing the specs and not having that expertise. But I figured, it’s a good sign that at least it was safe enough to allow a small group of people to board.  The photo tour, by the way, was limited to conservancy members. Even though a lot of work is ahead, it’ll be well worth all of the conservancy’s efforts to see the S.S. United States completely restored and back in action.

IMG 2821 SSUS

IMG 3029 SSUS

Until then, I am grateful for all that has been done preservation-wise to date, as it would be terrible to lose a classic ship with such a grand past. What a spectacular a sight it would be to watch as the S.S. United States embarks on a new journey! Maybe I’ll get to board for a cruise. If I were among its passengers, I’d feel honored sailing the seas and experiencing the ship’s long-awaited rebirth.

Check out the following to learn more:

  • The Big Ship: The Story of the S.S. United States, by Frank O. Braynard
  • “SS United States: Lady in Waiting” (2008)

Keep up-to-date on this historic ship through the S.S. United States Conservancy. Here’s to its sea-faring future!

Posted in Historic, History, Maritime, News, Philadelphia, Ships, Transportation, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel hopes and goals for 2016

Hope everyone is having a great start to the new year! As I watched from home the coverage of festivities in Times Square, one TV personality exclaimed about the iconic New York spot, “This is the place to be!” I always feel that way when tuning in and awaiting the ball to drop, wishing I were in town, too. Maybe one of these years, with a hotel room from which to take in the celebration, I’ll finally check this off of my travel list.

A few recent excursions to NYC were to see Broadway shows; for lack of time, no extensive sightseeing. So, along with my goal to ring in the new year in Times Square, I’m hoping to return to the Big Apple and check out a city loop bus tour. A stop at Serendipity 3 for their famous frozen hot chocolate, as well as a stroll through Central Park are also on the agenda to enjoy more of this exciting place.

IMG_8994-II

In the meantime, a couple of possible firsts are coming up soon, both in U.S. and international travel. Each destination has held my interest for as long as I can remember and I’m hoping to go on both trips. Kicking these goals into gear, I plan to attend a meeting later this week for more information about going abroad.

Early in 2015, I wrote a blog post about a study abroad program flier I noticed on campus. It was for creative writing in England. If I go to this history-filled country, it won’t be until later in the summer for 10 days. The academic focus will be similar to that of my time in Ireland, learning about business on a global level. It may be a while before anything is definite, also depending on financial aid or even scholarships. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed; it’ll be an amazing experience to visit England, see its countryside, literary and film sites, castles and more!

If I do find myself in England, I wouldn’t be able to resist exploring the neighboring country of Wales. Remember the story of a meteorologist whose report covered weather for a Welsh town with a rather long name? He pronounced it so effortlessly. Anyway, while I was on a bus tour from Dublin to Galway, I noticed several decals of European cities. One of them was for that same Welsh town, the name encircling a red dragon symbol of the country. Aside from knowing the town’s name for its unique length, I wonder what other interesting history I could learn firsthand from visiting.

Travel Decals Inst

For a bit of Welsh travel inspiration, read this Photo Journey blog post I wrote about the enchanting sites I’d love to see there.

State-side, the travel first for me is sunny California. In part, I want to attend an event to be held in Los Angeles, which could help my academic and career path. I didn’t go to the same event when other cities hosted it in past years. But as a big fan of movies, I’ve been holding out for the chance to visit the City of Angels and during leisure time, explore the world of Hollywood. At the top of my L.A. must-see list is Griffith Observatory, featured in several cinematic works among those I love to watch.

Last November, I had a chance to spend a weekend in Connecticut, yet needed to cancel a month or so ahead of the trip. Well, “postpone” is a better term. After all, I’ve never been to CT and would love to see more of the New England region sometime, especially during the fall season!

So, these are just a few places and each one sure will make for wonderful travel experiences in their own way.

Where do you hope to go in the new year, whether it’s a first-time or return visit? No matter the destination, safe and happy travels to you!

Posted in California, England, International, Los Angeles, New England, New York, New York City, Study Abroad, Travel, UK, USA, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating the art of photography throughout November

As someone who enjoys writing, I know about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a challenge to finish literary work. That’s a goal I’d love to reach someday, including nonfiction novels with a travel theme, as well as other genres. I’ve also thought about working on books of photography as a way to help get my visual work out there. Another fun means to do so is NaPhoPoMo, a creative event that runs through November. It was actually half over when I first learned about National Photo Posting Month. However, I tried to snap some images as my schedule allowed during the remaining days. After all, photography is an art form I love!

Out of the photos I took for the visual challenge, my favorites include those I took while visiting Valley Forge National Historical Park. I hadn’t noticed this three-sided (one side is a fence) structure during previous excursions to the revolutionary war era site. This time, however, the vibrant yellow leaves of autumn that surrounded it caught my attention. I was on the trolley tour, heading back to the visitor center and decided to go back to this particular spot separately. It’s was near the Washington Memorial Chapel, which wasn’t one of the scheduled stops on the tour. By the way, if you’ve never been to the chapel, definitely check it out!

VF Autumn Three Side 2

VF Autumn Three Side 12

The little wooden structure is not far off the road and just on the edge of a parking lot. However, in some of my photos, it looks as though it’s isolated deep in a wooded area. Just imagine wandering in a forest and stumbling upon an old, lone shed or other such building. It sure would be mysterious! With so many old houses I’ve taken photos of over the years, it also falls right into my favorite subjects to capture in images.

What is your favorite subject to take pictures of in your travels? If you took the NaPhoPoMo challenge, what drew your attention the most for great photo composition?

Check out my new Flickr album, NaPhoPoMo, for more photos from this past month. I’m looking forward to next year’s challenge.

Posted in Flickr, Foliage, Historic, NaPhoPoMo, National Parks, National Photo Posting Month, Nature, Pennsylvania, Photography, Tours, Travel, Valley Forge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment