Cherry Blossoms and New Experiences – DC Destination #2!

While I was still in Washington DC, my friend Nina picked me up at a nearby local coffee shop. We made our way to a hidden parking lot to see some of the cherry blossoms around the Jefferson Memorial.

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Nina was one of the first friends I made when I moved to State College and it was so good to spend time with her and her husband Abram during my short visit with them. Years ago, when I found out that Nina was moving to DC I talked a lot about coming to visit during the Cherry Blossom Festival…and here we are about 4 years later!

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Even though the cherry blossoms weren’t quite in bloom yet it was a lot of fun to be by the Canal Basin and see all of the beauty that was about to unfold.

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We stopped at a few of the memorials along the way…

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial (he's missing the little dog that's right next to him in this pic)
Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial (he’s missing the little dog that’s right next to him in this pic)
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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial surrounded by cherry blossoms
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Part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

After seeing the cherry blossoms we made our way to Georgetown for a bit of window-shopping and dinner…

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In Georgetown at sunset
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At Italian restaurant with wood fired pizza

The next day we made our way to Old Town Alexandria where we had a large breakfast at a French Cafe – Nina showed me around the area before we all made our way to check out the National Cathedral…

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The National Cathedral
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Stained glass window lights

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…then to our next stop… The zoo!  We got to see a couple of big and small animals…

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Baby elephant getting a drink of water
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Big panda eating some bamboo
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A little meerkat watching everyone pass by

…we got tired pretty quickly and went back to Nina and Abram’s place for some rest and maybe a nap or two. And also to hang out with this sweet dog, Twiggy!

Twiggy
Twiggy

For dinner, we made a late night stop to Oegadgib, where I got to experience my first Korean BBQ!

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First Korean BBQ experience
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Nina cooking up all the meat

It was great, I really enjoyed this new experience!

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Trying the sweet rice drink at the end of the meal (pretty good!)

It was great to catch up with Nina and Abram and to hear how they’re doing and what they have been up to lately. Such a great time with them and their sweet dog, Twiggy. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to spend time with them.

Nina and Abram!
Nina and Abram!

Sights and Flavors of DC Destination #1

My final flight of this traveling adventure brought me to Washington DC where my friend, Megan picked me up from the airport to head toward Capital Hill for our time together.

As we got to catch up on life, she made delicious fish tacos for dinner…

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…and we made a visit to Ted’s Bulletin for dessert – milkshakes and a key-lime, cherry filled handmade pop tart.

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Ted’s Bulletin serves adult milkshakes and plays old movies
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They make hand made pop tarts (with sprinkles!)

The next day we got up for a morning run since this was Megan’s last day to run before the Cherry Blossom 10 mile Run on Sunday. I decided to join her since it’s not every day I get to run by the Capital Building and other National monuments. Since the last time I ran was in the fall, I took it a bit easy and would occasionally stop to admire the spring flowers along the way…

US Capital Bulding
US Capital Bulding
Spring blooms at the Botanic Gardens
Spring blooms at the Botanic Gardens
Megan running ahead of my by the capital
Megan running ahead of me by the capital…

I got to run some errands with my friend and hung out at a coffee shop while she did some work.

We hung out at Ebeneezer's coffee shop to get some work done
We hung out at Ebenezers coffee shop to get some work done

Later in the evening we went to Old Town Alexandria for dinner and to meet up with a friend of hers – I enjoyed seeing this historic & charming part of town and checking out the waterfront.

Old Town Alexandria at night - busy streets and tree-lined lights framing the streets
Old Town Alexandria at night – busy streets and tree-lined lights framing the streets

The next day we went to the Eastern Market for brunch at a cute French restaurant and along the way we found this beautiful tree with these mixed color flowers… maybe it’s a rose, no idea – but it’s beautiful!

Any idea what kind of tree/flower this is?
Any idea what kind of tree/flower this is?

It was great to catch up with my friend and former housemate over some tea before I had to go to my next stop. It was a sweet time to see her life on the hill and what she has been up to lately since my last visit around 2 years ago.

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Coffee with a view and Orchids in bloom

The next day in Atlanta the three of us visited one of Lane’s favorite coffee spots. The view and scenery was beautiful as we sat along the Chattahoochee River enjoying breakfast, coffee, and one another’s company.

Coffee, pastries, & a view...
Coffee, pastries, & a view…

Lane

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After breakfast we visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, which was currently showcasing an exhibit on Orchids. If you know me well, you’ll know that this is my most favorite flower…

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I was so excited to visit here and see all the bright colors and greenery coming to life. Spring was here and we were so thrilled that cartwheels in the grass were in order…

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Later on, Lane had to work, so Barb and I continued our adventure into Piedmont park to find a lunch spot and found a nice little Nook…

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…and we all made a stop for a bit of ice cream from a popular spot called Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream before heading back to Lane & Josh’s home…

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Jeni’s had fun flavors like Wild Lavender and Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet

It has been a whirlwind couple of days in Atlanta full of laughs, beautiful blooms, lovely friends, and delightful dishes. I am so grateful for this time to have been able to spend with these three and see Josh and Lane’s world in Atlanta for a few days. I loved it! Thank you, friends for a lovely time!

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I’ve jumped onto the final plane to my next destination with a smile in anticipation of more swirling happy-heart filled weeks ahead in the DC/Baltimore area. Onward!

Atlanta’s Southern Belle’s and Hospitality

My next travel stop took me to Atlanta, GA where I visited my friends Lane and Josh and another friend, Barb from State College joined me for my next Southern adventure.

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Thankfully, I had a direct flight from Portland which brought me right into the evening commute traffic so I took the MARTA (similar to the subway in NYC) to meet Josh near his office so we could make it to dinner with Lane and Barb.

I was up for the traveling adventure and was welcomed by one woman on the train who shared (or scolded?) with me how I should learn to pack lighter…I thought I packed pretty light for a month of travels and variable temps and climates, but apparently not. I just agreed with her and smiled.

On my way to Atlanta with all my travel-belongings
On my way to Atlanta with all my travel-belongings

Then as I was departing, I got stuck in the exit gates – where I barely made it through the doors but they closed on my arm…which was still connected to my suitcase. I was on one side of the doors and my suitcase was on the other. As I laughed at myself and probably made some sort of shrieking noise of surprise…a tall man with a handlebar mustache protruding beyond the width of his face and wearing a cowboy hat, came to my rescue. (Really!) He tried to pull it up over the exit gates (but if I would have packed lighter it wouldn’t have been so difficult) at this point I’m embarrassed as I’m now causing a scene…then a nice woman came over and passed her card though so it would open the gates – and just like that, the drama was over…I humbly collected myself and the rogue suitcase and thanked both of them through muffled laughter at myself also while trying not to stare at the mans impressive mustache. I wish I would have gotten a photo…

Before I knew it, I was sitting in a fun and fancy restaurant eating crab legs with my friends…laughing at stories and catching up on life. What a crazy whirlwind day, I went from sitting on a plane to train to sitting in a restaurant eating crab legs with good friends…so surreal.

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The next day Barb and I ventured out while Josh and Lane were at work and we visited the Coca-Cola museum…did you know Coke was started in Atlanta, Georgia? I didn’t know that until now…and learned all about the history and story of Coke and was impressed with the marketing and brand that it has created over time.

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Who really knows what the secret ingredient is…but they certainly have created a world-wide marketing brand and identity that people have emotional connections with. At the end of the tour you can sample flavors of soda (or pop depending on who you are) from all over the world – my favorites were from Africa, and my least favorite was from Europe called the Beverly…have you tried it?

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Before tasting the Beverly
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After tasting the Beverly (yikes!)

After the Coke tour we met Lane and a friend of hers for lunch at a place near her work that she has been wanting to try called the Swan Coach House. This was the perfect place to see some Southern Belle’s and get a taste of southern food.

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We had a classic southern style lunch and tried the recommended favorite…chicken salad, frozen fruit, and cheese sticks (crackers) along with a glass of ice cold sweet tea…I liked it and loved how different it was since it was quite the all-around southern experience!

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After lunch, Lane went back to work while Barb and I explored the historic grounds and gardens since it was located at the Atlanta History Center. Apparently some of the scenes for Catching Fire from the Hunger Games was recorded at the Swan House which was right next to where we had lunch.

The Swan House built in 1928 was used in filming Catching Fire: Hunger Games
The Swan House built in 1928 was used in filming Catching Fire: Hunger Games

It was such a beautiful day to be outside as we enjoyed touring the gardens and some historic sites of Atlanta…and of course laughed and played a bit along the way.

Exploring some of the gardens at the Swan House
Exploring some of the gardens at the Swan House
A friendly sheep we met at the Smith Family Farm located at the Atlanta History Center - the farm dated back to the Civil War times
A friendly sheep we met at the Smith Family Farm located at the Atlanta History Center – the farm dated back to the Civil War times

Later that night we settled in for dinner and a movie…and celebrated our dear friends birthday with a sweet treat!

Happy Birthday Lane!
Happy Birthday Lane!

Sleepover in Seattle: Day of Exploring

During our visit/”sleepover in Seattle” we rose with the early morning and made our way back down to the Public Market before the rest of the city was awake. This is one of my favorite things to do – rise early and get out before the rest of the world is up – get out, see the sun rise, and get things done.

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On this morning, we were able to see the city wake up as stores prepared to open and beat the crowds to the popular destination spots like Starkbucks on Pike St. We got to chat with the baristas and check out Starbucks’ first location all while no one else was around…

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We strolled over to the Public Market and watched as the market came alive as the vendors put out their produce, flowers, fish, and goods…and Pat made a beautiful flower purchase for Becca…

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And I picked out a fun apple for eating later… Next we made it over to Piroshki Piroshki, a Russian bakery where they pump out the amazing smells just as fast as they make the pastries.

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We were one of the first to taste some of these delicious baked goods that morning, all while sitting in their small bakery – which would be impossible later with the amount of people that come through there usually.

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Next stop, we made our way to a local cheese shop where they made some of their cheeses right there – I was excited to get some fresh cheese curds to go with the apple I picked up at the public market for later…

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After a little bit of rest and checking out of the hotel, we continued our explorations as we made our way toward the Space Needle after some lunch at a little market cafe where I completed my apple and cheese curd lunch with some other healthy treats…

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…and as I titled Pat as the most patient man on earth as we stopped at about every blooming flower and picturesque spot along the way…

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…and tried macaroons for the first time! Apparently they’re the next upcoming craze coming up just like the cupcake-craze…

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It ended up being a beautiful sunny day in Seattle and we jumped at the opportunity to see the stunning view from the space needle…

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The Chihuly glass museum was right next door so we opted to check it out as well…

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I think my level of excitement far exceeded the capacity of my body…being with 2 dear friends, colorful art, stunning glass sculptures, amazing views, and sunshine…I could have hugged many strangers in my excitement – but that’s not okay, so I didn’t.

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Before leaving the city we stopped at the largest REI store I have ever been to – it was incredibly overwhelming and really neat to see all the adventure and active gear anyone could possibly think of…they even had a restaurant there. Crazy and convenient.

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After a fun-filled amazing time in Seattle we traveled to Portland so I could fly out the next day to head off to my next destination.

As I write this post, tears are welling up in my eyes…my heart is so full and yet I am sad that I won’t see these friends for a long while. Lord only knows where our paths will take us all next and when we’ll see one another again… I am so grateful for this time to have spent with them and the new memories we have created together…so, until next time… I say farewell to the West coast with a joyful heart and grateful tears.

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Sleepover in Seattle

After spending a week in Oregon, Pat, Becca, and I ventured to Seattle for the weekend for my first visit to Washington.

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It was an action-packed and amazing time in the city…I learned a lot from them from some of their previous trips that makes me want to learn more about the history of Seattle.

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After a seemingly long trip heading North, what trip wouldn’t be complete without a few random pit-stops along the way for some laughs and sustenance?

Doing a little shopping...
Doing a little “shopping”…
Lunch at Beaches... where I was really excited about seeing water and having lunch along the Columbia River right after we crossed into Washington
Lunch at Beaches… where I was really excited about seeing water and having lunch along the Columbia River right after we crossed into Washington

When we finally made it into the city…we were greeted by Captain America and many other characters as we made our way to the hotel. Looks like we picked the same weekend as Comic-Con…where it’s normal to see a power ranger and a Jedi crossing the street together. Perfect.

Captain America crossing the street
Captain America crossing the street

We checked into this great little boutique hotel located about a block from the Public Market called the Moore Hotel. If you ever get a chance to travel to Seattle, I highly recommend it – you will get a unique experience and you can’t beat price for the location. Apparently it can’t be found on any of the he travel search sites (hence the reason why they still had rooms available when we found it).

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Which brings us our “sleepover in Seattle” theme for the weekend, we laughed through the quirks that our room had to offer with a “just the right size” room for 3 and the teeny-tiny sink right next to my bed…and the shared bathrooms down the hall…. (Apparently some rooms do have bathrooms, but we opted for the full experience), in addition to the variable temperatures of warm and hot. A great place for making great memories.

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After we checked into our quaint hotel, we braced for the rain in the rainy city of Seattle and immediately made the quick walk to the Public Market….

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…saw the disgusting wall of gum. Really, this is a “thing” to do and see while here?

Not amused...
Not amused…

Walked around and took in all the sights, sounds, and smells…

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We made our way down to the port/piers for some dinner…

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…and found a carousel, where we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a ride. Why not?! Big smiles and laughter for all…even for the bystanders…ha!

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We ate dinner along the pier – fresh fish and chips of course…

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…continuing our journey of exploring the city as the sun set and the night lights made an appearance…

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…to escape the rain we found a cute gelato place where we all laughed until tears were streaming down faces… This is my favorite laughter-moment that has been documented with these two…

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“Wait for it… wait for it…”
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Laughter ensued…
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Cr-aughter (crying + laughter) begins…

 

What was so funny you ask? If you know all 3 of us then you’ll know it doesn’t take much to have us rolling on the floor laughing with one another…this was just one of those times that will probably never be repeated…or just have Pat tell some ridiculous story and see what happens.

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Pat #wins…

I think I have fallen in love with a city…and would be game for going back anytime.

Flowers available for purchase at the Public Market
Flowers available for purchase at the Public Market

Day 2 in Seattle is up next… … Stay tuned…

Laughter & Random Adventures in Oregon

With the nature of it being spring break here for OSU and the rainy weather that has been forecast, we’ve been taking each day as it comes and making plans as we go. It has been nice and quite fun to see what each day holds as I have been trying to embrace each moment instead of wondering what is next…

It is spring here in Oregon and I have been really impressed with how green it is here. It’s beautiful!

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I’ve joined my friends for their routine workout for the past 2 mornings and I am regretting that decision… although, I have to admit that I know it is good for me and have been laughing at myself as I attempt climbing stairs today.

Our time together has included lots of meals, including waffles one morning that instigated A LOT of laughter. I won’t spoil the outcome of the story, but I do have to say that it is a memory that I will remember always and has increased my love of making breakfast together, especially waffles. Also, note the delicious healthy green smoothie that we also had for breakfast – I think it’s a staple in most homes here. 😉

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I am thankful for new memories… and for playing games with new & old friends. I am looking forward to trying my new strategies that I picked up while playing Dominion this week…

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I love random adventures with this gal…

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…and saw how it also runs in her family as her brother, Chris was also up for the random adventure challenge and picked out some really fun things for us to do one of the days including visiting a nearby city Salem, OR… (which is also the capital of Oregon – which does have a lumberjack on the top of it’s capital building, true story).

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We took a historic tour of this home that was originally built in the 1800’s and learned a lot of really neat historical facts about homes especially with the Queen Anne style of architecture…

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I loved the attention to detail as we toured through this big beautiful home…

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We tried some savory crepes at a local coffee & creperie…

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…and we found Rogue Farm not far from Salem, OR as we learned all about the process the farm goes through to grow hops, chestnuts, pumpkins, and roses to make their brews.

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A map of the Rogue Farm property and what is growing where

We sampled some of the Rogue beers they had on tap… my favorites were the pumpkin ale and also the “snickers” stout.

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…and learned that the summer is the best time to visit to see the hops grow in their full vertical state in their hop fields.

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Where the hop vines will grow – best time is May/June.

We met some new friends along the way…

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…and found a rainbow between the rains.

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I am so grateful for the laughter and new spaces & places to explore with these friends.

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