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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Talking, Hiking, Talking, Ice Cream, Talking...

Well, you get the picture.

While Caroline was here, we did a lot of talking...which is what kindred spirits do when they go for almost a year without seeing each other.

After visiting Tennessee and having a relaxing Sunday at church, we hit the road again on Monday for some adventures.

Destination: DuPont State Forest and Cowpens
Total Miles: approx. 150 miles
Total Cost: $4.50 (not including gas...because I didn't fill up on Monday)

Yes. You read that correctly. The grand total cost was four dollars and fifty cents. What could I possibly have purchased? Glad you asked! Read on.

Our first destination for Monday was DuPont State Forest in North Carolina. We decided to head out just after lunch. I have been to see the waterfalls a couple different times, but I have yet to tire of the beauty of the falls and hiking the trails.

Having been before, I figured I would be able to find it without a GPS...

Thankfully, I had also wanted to show Caroline a fun roadside pottery shop that I had been missed turn will take you to places you did not intend to go but allow for some fun adventures.

Which reminds me a saying that was framed on a wall at the hospital where I used to work: A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.

So, after our stop at the pottery place, we got back on the right path and arrived safely at our destination.

The afternoon was one of those perfect afternoons to hike...not to hot, plenty of cloud coverage, but enough sunshine to make it a lovely day. And the falls were as majestic as ever!

After hiking a couple miles, we headed off to another favorite destination of mine: Cowpens National Battlefield. I've taken the LPs here several times and love the history.

We also made sure to stop at Strawberry Hill and get some delicious homemade ice cream. If you have never had their homemade strawberry ice cream, it is a must stop when you plan your visit to the battlefield! I am not a huge fan of strawberry ice cream, but this is the real deal and delectable (and this is where I spent my $4.50)!

The ride back included a lot of talking and discussions on a plethora of topics (including some medical issues that have been seen recently in our line of work).

All in all, it was a fun day that included one of my favorite activities...more favorite than having an adventure and eating ice cream...

Spending time with my dear friend.

Tuesday was her last day in Greenville, so we made some stops around downtown Greenville (which is one of the top places for, well, a lot of stuff. Check it out here!), and we also had lunch at one of our favorites: India Palace.

While it would be nice if time could slow down so that we could enjoy more moments, there is always the anticipation of looking towards whatever is to come next. And in light of that knowledge, Caroline's visit came to an end. Until our next adventure!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Misty Mountains

Destination: Tennessee
Total Cost: roughly $100
Total Miles: roughly 450
Dates: June 13-14

Time to play a little catch-up on the blog (which will hopefully cover some of these fantastic trips I've been on over the last couple months!).

Today, we will start with one of my favorite people coming for a visit!

After I took boards (the first time), I had a couple days to regroup and prepare for Caroline's arrival from Colorado/Wyoming. For the first time since she graduated, she was coming to visit me!

We planned to head over the Smokeys to Gatlinburg for a day before heading to my grandparents' house near Knoxville. Caroline arrived on a Thursday evening just before Rivertree Singers' rehearsal, which she graciously attended with me.

Following a good night's sleep, we headed to Gatlinburg for a fun day of shopping and sightseeing. Our first stop was recommended by my grandma: Ober Gatlinburg.

While it was an overcast day, we could still see through the mist as we rode the aerial tramway. The views were impressive, and Caroline and I had a great time listening to the tram's operator give his oration.

Once at the top, we explored the area, did some shopping, ate lunch, and tried to get caught up from a year's worth of missed conversations.

Back down in Gatlinburg, we set about doing some window shopping...which included checking out some comfortable moccasins and a sports' store that had a very small corner containing both Duke and Clemson paraphernalia (in the same corner...what are the odds?!).

That evening, we stayed at my grandparents' near Knoxville. It was the first time Caroline had met my grandparents and my aunt and uncle, but other than Caroline's beating all of us at Phase 10, the visit went very well. On the whole, it was a very relaxing end to the day.

The next day found us headed back to the mountains in search of bears, caves, and one of my favorite spots this side of the Mississippi: Cades Cove.

If you have never been to Cades Cove, you must check it out! My family has been visiting the Cove since I was probably around 10 years old, and the beauty and wonder of it has yet to lose its charm. here to learn more about it.
Nestled among the Appalachians, Cades Cove has a large scenic loop drive that allows you to take a leisurely drive around the Cove. There are old churches, houses, and barns that can be explored, bears and deer that may wander across your path, and hiking trails available for the adventurous. Check out the National Park Service website

After spotting some deer and bears, walking through some of the houses and churches, and a picnic lunch, we headed a few miles down the road to explore some caverns. Another place I remember visiting once during a family vacation was the Tuckaleechee Caverns. I took the LPs there a while back, and since we were in the general area, I decided that Caroline and I would visit the caverns.

They did not disappoint.

The caverns are much more hands-on than others (so I am told), and the tour guides always share something new that I don't remember hearing before.
When we finished the tour, we purchased some delicious fudge for the journey home. It was a fun trip, and I love the spontaneity that traveling with Caroline always affords.

And don't worry! We took another trip into the mountains before she left, so I'll be sure to blog about that in the next couple days.

Until then!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


With a capital P.

No...I have not been sitting around for the last two months, idling the time. And I have not been studiously studying this whole time either.

(Though...there has been A LOT of studying going on...).

I took the ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner boards towards the beginning of June and thought that would be the end of studying. But God had other plans, and I was two questions shy of passing.

Which meant more studying.

And I have been studying like a fiend. But I've also been traveling and taking some time to enjoy the summer (which has been relatively mild for South Carolina).

So after loads more studying, some quick trips to Virginia, New York City, Knoxville, Gatlinburg, Cowpens, Townsend, and Charleston, and some more studying, I took the AANP Family Nurse Practitioner boards in Knoxville on July 19. And passed! And by a good margin, too!

All that studying (and traveling...and studying while traveling) paid off...though, I suspect that the Lord had a greater hand in all of it and allowed for the circumstances.

So...what did I do to celebrate? Work at basketball camp for a week, then travel to New England for 5 days. True road trip style!

But, this brings me back to my title: procrastination.

Because of my constant guilt of doing anything productive when I was not studying, I put off blogging about all those trips. And, once I passed boards, I put off blogging because of how much there was to blog. And I didn't want to tot my computer around during camp.

(hanging head in shame)

But! Last night (at 2 am when my insomnia and lack of full-recovery from nightshift was in full swing), I determined to be productive and stop procrastinating. Seriously! I am unemployed (and loving it!) and have been so many places this summer with some awesome people...

And who knows how long that unemployment is going to be. Or where the next road trip will find me!

Time to get blogging!