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

Fall flavors and crafts in downtown Media

Pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and autumn flowers decorated the corners, windows and store entrances of downtown Media. It was time for the 35th Annual Food and Craft Festival, an event filled with flavors and creativity of the season.

Mini Scarecrow Flowers

One delicious bite into a pumpkin-flavored pizzelle was enough persuasion to buy a pack to take home. Carol’s Pizzelles also had other flavors available that I hadn’t seen elsewhere, including chocolate chip and coconut.

CP Pumpkin Pizzelle

Many vendors lining State Street included those of restaurants and stores within the designated event area. Tempting pasta was cooking at the Spasso Italian Grill tent, set up just beyond their al fresco dining patio. As a local from only several towns away, it was hard to believe I hadn’t tried Spasso’s food until then. I ordered one Spiedini di Mozzarella, an amazing mozzarella stick served on a plate of sauce and big enough satisfy while awaiting a main dish.

Spasso Grill

Spasso Mozz Ch

Still early in the festival hours and more food to taste, I didn’t have any pasta at the time. I’d save that for next time in town; everything certainly looked worth the wait for another stop in town.

Spasso Pasta MB

One store called Earth and State also had tent-covered tabled set up along the street, featuring creative Halloween artwork. A young guy was just finishing his chalk writing of the store name on the street. Several interesting pieces on display included Jack-O-Lanterns with ghoulish zipper mouths. A spider with a green beaded body was posed to crawl over the corner of a wooden crate. Its legs, also dotted with green beads, were bent, yet still spanned wider than adult hands. Large blue gem eyes leered at passersby.

Earth And State

If any festival-goers wanted to find a relaxing spot, 320 Market Cafe made a great choice. Just inside, bread on display added to the image of a warm home setting. A string of small golden lights glowed near a small pumpkin and gourd set up on the counter. Good music played on around patrons’ muted conversation. If just going in for a small snack, try the Pico de Gallo and Corn Tortillas.

320 Market Tortillas

Joining the street crowd once more, I stopped to try a spin-the-wheel game and won a ticket for a show at the Media Theatre. I had never been there for any of the stage productions; what a nice surprise!

Another food vendor was Margaret Kuo’s, where egg rolls and sweet and sour chicken were among the crowd favorites. With a purchase of the egg rolls for now, I’d have to come back to town another time to try a full dish on their menu. That’s what I love about these events – getting a quick taste of food offered by local restaurants, inspiring plans for dining out somewhere I haven’t been to for an entire meal.

MKuos Food

Usually, my family goes to a different location of Trader Joe’s at a shopping center near a mall we frequent. However, there is one in Media as well and while in town, it was a go-to place for food items that didn’t need to quickly be taken home. After all, the day of downtown festivities wasn’t over yet. With so many things coming out in pumpkin flavor this time of year, I spotted a display of cereal boxes – Pumpkin O’s! Yes, I had to try them. There were many other items to buy in celebration of the season, including sizable pumpkins and a variety of gourds for a nice fall feast.

TJ Fall Harvest

One last bite to eat before heading home was a generous plate of sugar-covered funnel cake. Not like that pictured below; with its tempting layer of toppings, I just had to snap a photo. Another one next to it had chocolate and cream for extra flavor.

Funnel Cake Topping 1

Coming away from this festival, I found that I’d really like to take in more of downtown Media again sometime. I’ve never wandered around its streets much in the past. Now, knowing more of the dining and shopping scene, I’d love to gather there with friends from time to time. Outside of the Seven Stones Cafe, a nice courtyard area welcomes visitors with benches and a fountain centerpiece.

Seven Stones Cafe Sign

Posted in Crafts, Dining, Food, Foodie, Halloween, Holidays, Media, Pennsylvania, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A flavor-filled day at the Chester County Restaurant Festival

CCRF Banner

The celebration of delicious local flavors arrived on a beautiful afternoon, drawing a crowd ready to dig in. Food lovers attending the 36th Annual Chester County Restaurant Festival could find restaurant and truck vendors with menus to satisfy anyone’s taste. A popular event, both Market and Gay Streets in West Chester, Pa. were filled with great eats and artistic work for sale. Live bands added to the entertaining atmosphere at several points.

After finding a good parking space in a downtown lot, paying $5 for the day, it was just a short walk to the festivities. First stop for a bit to eat was a food truck called GiGi & Big ‘R’ Caribbean Soul Food. I tried a sample of their jerk chicken, which was spicy, a little more than I usually go for, yet not too much to handle.  It was a very good quick-bite start to the day.

GiGi Big R

Continuing down Market Street, I browsed some framed artwork with themes including nature and pop culture. Even when I don’t buy crafts, I love simply admiring the creative talent it takes to make them. A grilled cheese vendor, Bees Knees, was set up nearby and just imagining the taste of melted (almost any cheese) had me hooked! A sandwich called the “Come Up” sounded particularly appetizing and with avocado in the mix of this cheddar delight, it was amazing! Bees Knees also offered beverages and several other grilled cheese works, along with gluten free and vegan choices. Each sandwich on the menu was priced at $8.

BK Come Up GC

Several more arts and crafts vendors were in sight, one of which displayed necklaces sparkling in the sunlight. It was difficult to decide among an ornate heart-shaped pendant and many other designs. I looked around further, moving on to the next vendor while deciding on any purchases.

Funnel Cakes. That’s what a large yellow banner with uppercase red letters advertised at the Snack Shack. My favorite carnival (or boardwalk) food, I couldn’t resist a plate of this crunchy treat. Sometimes, I’ve seen funnel cakes come out a bit skimpy; at this vendor, they were of sharing proportion!

Snk Shk Funnel Cake

At some food festivals I’ve been to, it seemed that most people were eating as they walked. In this case, several tables were available at various points along the buzzing streets. Sitting down definitely made it easier to take turns breaking off a chunk of sugary funnel cake.

Just beyond the immediate group of tables, a row of business awnings were decorated with pretty strings of light. This is what I love, I thought to myself; a delightful ambiance to admire in a town!

Festive Lights Inst

An Italian restaurant called Mercato was among those with lights strung above the sidewalk and they were also one of the food vendors. It was too soon to eat again, so I took a photo of their meatball sliders as a reminder to try them later in the day.

Mercato MB Sliders

For now, it was time to walk off the food eaten so far. As this two-sided sign showed, there were many more tempting dishes to try!

Restaurant Sign 1

Restaurant Sign 2

It seemed even more crowded while walking along Gay Street, where I spotted the tent for a familiar vendor: The Meat House. At the moment, I skipped it since my family knows where their store is and we’re all in the area often. Located not too far from my neighborhood, delicious food can easily be brought home. When we have a family get-together, we can stock up on their items.

Taking a short break from the street scene, I got a booth inside Ryan’s Pub and tried a tropical-flavored beverage. A waitress said they weren’t serving the full menu, due to the food festival. But I’d love to go back there again and stay a bit longer. I loved this Irish phrase over the doorway, welcoming patrons.

Ryans Pub Door

After more strolling up and down the street, I felt my appetite growing. This time, Iron Hill Brewery was the restaurant of choice and their pumpkin ale was back! Last year, we made a stop in here and I sampled a drink called “Ichabod imperial pumpkin ale.” Not much on drinking a full glass, I had another sample this time, along with a filling cheddar cheeseburger.

IHB Cheddar Ch Burger

That would be it for the day. I wasn’t going to be able to try those meatball sliders after all! Of course, I could always come back to West Chester and dine at Mercato. Another option, Gadaleto’s, a seafood market. They had a tent set up for the festival and were offering lobster rolls. If only my stomach weren’t full at this point!

Gadaletos Lobster Roll

Before leaving, a stop at Carlino’s Specialty Market was a must for some great take-home food. If I lived in West Chester, I’d shop here all the time; they have a great selection and several tables at which to sit and eat. Outside, more tables were available for those who wanted to take in the nice weather as well. On this stop, purchases included a few slices of meat and cheese lasagna, a mini pumpkin pie and two packs of pizzelles (one chocolate, one vanilla).

Throughout the restaurant festival, I also took photos of stunning architecture I hadn’t seen before in West Chester. I’ll share those on a separate blog post. The fun foodie event was a two-for-one experience, giving me the chance to explore more of the town than in the past. It also inspired me to revisit this charming town and check out more dining establishments and entertainment. If you’re in the Chester County area when next year’s restaurant festival is held, it is definitely worth checking out!

 

Posted in Crafts, Dining, Food, Foodie, Pennsylvania, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment