Monday, December 15, 2014

And May the Road Rise Up to Meet You!

The journey of...137K?!

How fast time passes! I have merely turned around and found myself facing the end of the year with its busyness. In the last 4 months, I have moved twice, started a new job, and put a few more thousand miles on Mr. Darcy. I now find myself settled into a comfortable apartment and sitting back to reflect on this one night of the entire month which I have free.


It has been a whole five years to the day since I first purchased my awesome Honda Fit, so-named Mr. Darcy because that happens to be one of my favorite literary characters.

It's been a crazy five years, in retrospect. And in that time, I have put over 137,000 miles on my vehicle...and spent several hundreds (if not thousands) of hours traversing here and there and a bit of everywhere in between.

I have also managed to put over 60 (yes, sixty) bumper stickers on his windows, making him the most tastefully sticker'd vehicle that ever roamed the highways and byways (and, if I may be so bold to say, one of the most photographed vehicles in the Upstate of South Carolina...not a week goes by that I don't catch some other driver or passenger or pedestrian stopping to snap a picture of my photogenic little vehicle).

Truly, I am very thankful for the Lord's provision in a reliable vehicle that is also fun to drive and a willing partner in my adventures (though, it is fortunate that he cannot tell of ALL the places we have been together as that might raise some alarm).

So, here's to an amazing five years with the coolest vehicle in town...and to another five should the Lord allow!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why Blog...

A couple weeks ago, one of my sisters approached me about participating in a blog hop. To which I said: What is a blog hop!?!?!?

I was afraid she was going to want to swap blogs, or have me as a guest blogger, or some such thing (which was fearsome in that we are very different and our blogs are on completely different topics!). worries. A Blog Hop is where someone writes about a topic (in this case: Why Do I Blog) and then promotes the blogs of a few friends.

So...why DO I blog?

Blogging is something I love doing! I have the opportunity to write about a topic that I am passionate about: traveling!

Since I can remember, I have kept journals about life. Some of them are definitely more interesting than others...some of them are pretty simplistic...and some of them are almost unreadable because of the poor progression of thought while I was writing (which you may or may not think has carried over into my blog!). Journaling has almost been cathartic for me over the years (especially in college when I went through some difficult growing). After graduating from college and starting my nursing job (read here to learn about what I did for almost five years), I found that I could budget for traveling. And so I did!

I have traveled since college to: California (a three-week, all-over-the-state, music team trip), Haiti (x2), Seattle, NYC (x3), Boston (x2), Concord (NH and MA), Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Denver, Colorado (x3), Charleston, Virginia (all over), DC (x3), Philadelphia (x2 or 3)...and that's NOT an exhaustive list by any means.

And during my travels, I found that there was so much to write about and that in writing, I could share that with my family and some friends. And I wanted to have a place to go back to read about my adventures.

I am definitely not one of those people (like my sister) who thinks about what I am going to write, plan out the words, write a post then proof it and make corrections! Generally speaking, I write whatever comes out about the trip, maybe check for obvious errors, and then post. Which is probably not the most effective way to blog, but it works for me...and since it's my blog...

Around the same time, I purchased a new car, a Honda Fit named Mr. Darcy. He and I have now gone over 130,000 miles together...and I am so thankful for the Lord's provision of a dependable car! He is one of my favorite companions on roadtrips and is always a willing participant in photo opps.

I freely admit to not having hundreds of thousands of readers. In fact, I'm certain that none of my posts have been read by 100 people. But that's not the point of the blog!

Me and the LPs...who are fast becoming
not so little people (but who are still my
faithful companions!)
I blog not just to share my adventures. I blog so that I can look back at where I have been (literally and figuratively) and compare that with where I am now. If I have come even a few steps closer to the God that I serve, then every trip is worth it.

Some blogs that I read and follow:

-Interested in updating some furniture? Love the concept of giving a fresh look to old pieces? Look no further than this blog by my dear friend and sister in Christ, Charis. People often get us confused and think we are sisters, but on those days when I need advice on life and an older sister to listen to my troubles, I go to Charis and share over cups of hot tea. Charis doesn't blog constantly, but I love her touch of whimsy.

Life Content: Diary of a Future CRNA
-This is a blog by a very good friend of mine from nursing school. Joel is in the process of becoming a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) and blogs about his journey...starting from the idea of what to do and where to go for grad school all the way to what he is learning in school. He's an excellent writer and expresses his thoughts well. If you know someone who is interested in going back to grad school, this blog gives a real life example of what that entails.

Charity Greene, Wellness Advocate (doTerra essential oils)
-The Blog Hop list wouldn't be complete without a shout out to my sister, Charity, and her blog. While I do not hold with some of the science behind essential oils, I have seen them work. If you're interested in learning more about oils and how they could help you, check out Char's blog and her thoughtful posts.

Other blogs that I support and read can be found at the bottom of my blog along with links to their most recent posts. Read and enjoy! And look for more posts soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Taking New York City by Storm (Part Two)

So, I will freely admit to there being a rather large gap of time between Part One and Part Two of these two posts. And I apologize! It wasn't planned...and there is a very good explanation. I moved a couple weeks ago and am housesitting for the next three months. Unfortunately, there is NO internet at the house. And after calling every major (and some minor) providers in the area, I have resigned myself to limited internet. And I am much more thankful now for my unlimited data plan on my phone!

But...enough of that!

Part Two!

Let me see...where were we?

Statue of Liberty!

The next morning, we grabbed some breakfast at the hotel on our way down to the harbor.

And may I interject here that going early in the morning (8:30ish) is one of the best times I could recommend?! No lines. No waiting. We marched up to the ticket counter, bought our tickets, headed through security, and then boarded a ferry. That. Fast.

While there were decent amounts of tourists milling about, it was still a pleasant stroll around the island. I love all the history surrounding Lady Liberty and what she represents. Truly phenomenal.

After listening to the better portion of our audio tours, we browsed the gift shop before crossing over to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is another place that fascinates me and as long as I live, I shall not be able to shake the feeling of awe I feel as I walk through the buildings of that now deserted island. Treading in the steps of thousands of can almost imagine the swarming mass of people who were daily shuffled through the rooms.
We were able to go up to the third floor (which I have not done before) and watch a National Park Service video about Ellis Island. Unfortunately, several of the displays have been taken down because of hurricane damage from Hurricane Sandy. But overall, it's a great experience, and if you have any relatives that immigrated to America from Europe early in the 1900s, you should definitely go for a visit!

After some time, we realized we were very hungry and, it being early afternoon by now, that breakfast was a distant memory. With no specific plan in place, we headed back to the subway.

Which was a whole other adventure! Long story metro card decided not to read correctly--after Chenille was already through the gates. There was a strange man lurking about, and while we weren't sure exactly what to do, I decided to find a new card...which required me walking quite a distance and leaving poor Chenille to watch the gates for my return. It took a few minutes (and fighting the afternoon crowd coming up from the metro), but eventually, I made it back to Chenille.

It was decided that now would be a fun time to visit the Plaza and perhaps partake of some Afternoon Tea. A short ride later, we arrived a couple blocks away from our destination...just in time for a light shower.

Wet and very hungry, we arrived at the Plaza Hotel in all its grandiose splendour in time to take Afternoon Tea. Our waiter agreed to let us split the sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres but also each have our own pot of tea (mainly because we could not agree on a tea to split). It was delicious! I drank the entire pot, and we polished off the food. The live music was entertaining, and we spent a good two-ish hours conversing over tea.

After tea, we did the next most classic NYC thing...shopped Fifth Avenue! More window-shopping than anything else...though we did both purchase some shirts at Banana Republic.

By the time we were finished at BR on 5th Ave, it was time to head back to the hotel to change for our Broadway experience. We had, by a unanimous vote, determined to go to the new production of Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella performed in the Broadway Theatre on Broadway.

It was amazing! Loved the music. Loved the play. Loved the whole experience (except for the girl one seat down from me throwing up at intermission...but even that turned out for good, and we were able to get different seats that provided a better and more comfortable view).

After the lengthy production, we headed to Times' Square and the closest Starbucks. The police officer in front of us in line was very chatty, but after we purchased our drinks, we headed to the middle of the Square.

By the time we were back at the hotel and ready for bed, it was close to midnight...and fearing the tolling of the bell and changing back into normalcy, we hit the beds and were out like lamps (our heads full of singing princes and fairy godmothers).

Ok...probably just mine since I can't speak for Chenille! But still, it was a blast of a trip!

The next morning found us wearily packing our belongings, catching the metro and train back to JFK, and boarding the plane for our flight home.

No happy seat-mates on this flight! As we landed in Charlotte, a little tiff broke out between two women sitting across the aisle (which continued partway through the terminal once we had landed!). Very interesting...and who even knows what it was about.

All in all, a fantastic (and short) trip!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Taking New York City by Storm (Part One)

Destination: New York City
Total Miles: a bunch (sorry...don't know exactly. we flew)
Total Cost: you do not want to know (suffice to say, it was worth it...but if you don't want to spend a lot of money on a trip, do not expect to see tips to save money in this post)

Still playing catch up from the summer's travels...but this is one of my favorites.

Back in March when I went to the Dominican Republic, one of my roommates and I were discussing our love for traveling. She has been to places I dream about going...but she had never been to New York City! Which, I've been to three times. We talked about some day, after graduation and boards, possibly going to NYC.

Fast-forward to the middle of June.

We had graduated, studied our brains out, and taken boards. While we had studied, we would occasionally park ourselves in the travel section of Barnes and Noble and would discuss our future trip to NYC.

Little did I suspect that the day after boards, she would look up flights, I would subsequently look up hotel rooms, we would have everything booked within 24 hours, and within a week and a half from taking boards, we would be in NYC.

The trip started the day after Caroline flew out (read up on Caroline's visits here and here). Chenille and I drove up to Charlotte, parked Mr. Darcy, and were in the air by early afternoon.

The flight was just as interesting as all my flights...and I made a new friend (of course!). Random fact, but I love flying for the sheer fact that I like meeting people and one never knows who one will sit next to on the plane. We had the pleasure of sitting with an unaccompanied minor who talked our ears off. I helped her with her math work, she watched part of a movie on my iPod (having kid movies on that iPod is a lifesaver!), and we talked about American Girl dolls. She thought we were 14 year olds and was "shocked" to find that we were twice that (and, apparently, her mother's age...which made me feel peachy).

After making sure she got to her family after we disembarked, Chenille and I took a taxi into the city. A rather expensive venture. Since Chenille had never had the pleasure of riding a taxi in NYC, I thought it would fun to ride one at the beginning. On the way back, we just rode the subway (which was MUCH cheaper).

Our first stop was the hotel, and after checking in and putting our stuff in the room, we headed to Times Square for some shopping and supper.

I doubt that I will ever get over the massive quantity of people located at any given moment in Times Square.

While we were waiting for a table, we did some people watching...nurse practitioner style. Diagnosing was never so fun!

After a delicious dinner, we voted to visit a place I dream about: L. A. Burdick. I love hot chocolate. Drink it year around. People think I love Starbucks because of their coffee...but what they don't know is that I am really addicted to the hot chocolate. Well, L. A. Burdick makes Starbucks' hot chocolate look like cheap, watered-down hot chocolate. However, we opted to walk...over 20 the Flat Iron District. And by the time we got there, even this hot chocolate fanatic did not want a hot beverage. Fortunately, they have created a masterpiece for such an occasion: the Iced Hot Chocolate. One word: ambrosia.

But, consuming that many calories required extensive exercise. So, we walked back to our hotel...and stopped for some classic tourism in the form of the Empire State Building. (Which I have not been to the top of since my high school senior trip in 2004). The view was stunning, and we had a blast walk around and around the top getting pictures of the New York City skyline at night.

Upon returning to our room sometime after 11 p.m., we determined to get up early, catch some free breakfast at the hotel, and head to another classic must-see: the Statue of Liberty.