#TBT: Road Trip!

I am starting a new trend on my blog post: #TBT (Throwback Thursday in case you didn’t know) I will post past travel adventures that I have had and relive them while I’m stuck in grad school mode.

Before I took a hiatus from blogging, I accepted a position to work in Upstate New York over the summer. I was excited to explore the East Coast my way, and as a semi-adult. This was my first road trip experience where I was doing the navigating, which made me nervous but excited at the same time. My mom was my travel buddy, and together we mapped out the cities we wanted to see: St. Louis, DC, Philadelphia, and Rochester New York.

First Stop: KC to St. Louis
A quick 4hr drive, but we wanted to kick the trip off by saying goodbye to “Gateway to the West”. Fun fact: there are no bathrooms outside of the Arch park.. You either have to enter in to the Arch museum area or walk back toward downtown. The day we stopped, there was a line for the Arch that looked like it was never going to move and there was construction on the main street to get to downtown so we had to take a detour route that added another 10 minutes to our hurried pace of finding a bathroom. Thankfully we found one in a hotel and could go back and enjoy the beautiful view of the arch.

Meet me in St. Louis

Meet me in St. Louis

Second Stop: DC!
After a full day of driving and my fear driven attempts to drive through the West Virginia mountains at 1am (with no cell service!) we finally arrived to DC! Watching my mom get on her first subway train was the highlight of this trip. I was so thankful that I could share this experience with her, which is what I’ve always wanted to do – explore the world with my parents.

To say we conquered DC in a day is a complete overstatement. We didn’t get to explore all of the museums and take the touristy photo in front of the White House (we did see walk to see it though!), but we did get to explore the history that mattered most to my mom and I. We first got to see the home of Frederick Douglas, and learn more about his fight to end slavery for so many people in the south. From his house, there is an amazing view of the city, which is fitting to what Douglas wanted for our future.

Later that day, we stood on the steps of Lincoln Memorial and all I can remember is chills running down my body. To think that on those steps, people witnessed one of the greatest speeches in history, and here I was eating a taco on it. I hope Martin Luther King was proud of that delicious taco, because I sure was.

Another memorable moment was being able to get a behind the scenes tour by my step brother as he showed us what he does within the military and walked the grounds of the Arlington National Cemetery. We got to experience the changing of the guards for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as visit the burial site of John F. Kennedy and his family. At his site they have a thing where if you throw a type of coin on their grave, it is supposed to resemble how close you ever where to the President. A quarter represented the people who witnessed his assassination. It was crazy to see how many quarters there were.

In front of the Lincoln Monument

In front of the Lincoln Monument

Third Stop: Philly! (all about the food)
Being obsessed with food, my number one mission in Philadelphia was a Philly Cheesesteak. My mom and I had a strategy: Divide and conquer. My mom went to Pat’s and I went to Geno’s. To be honest, my vote would have to go to Pat’s just because I appreciate spice more, but both of them were delicious.

My second mission in Philly: to lick the Liberty Bell (HIMYM anyone?) Of course I didn’t get to lick it, but I was close! I loved visiting the old historic parts of Philadelphia and began to understand why it was called the “City of Brotherly Love” although I would argue there was sisterly love too. Fresh Prince of Bel Air song played in my head the entire time we were there.

Deliciousness. Enough said.

Deliciousness. Enough said.

Well. Almost

Well. Almost

Final Stop: Rochester NY & Niagara Falls
When we woke up ready to start our day in Rochester, we were welcomed with a Memorial Day parade that gave us a good feel of the people of Rochester. We also got to explore another home of Frederick Douglas on the way to my surprise stop.

I wanted to surprise my mom as a Mother’s Day gift to take a trip to Niagara Falls. I knew it was only an hour and a half away, and that she would appreciate it more than anything. I don’t think I’ve seen my mom smile as much as she did when we got to climb down to the rocks of one of the falls. We couldn’t stop laughing as we touched the cold rocks and watched our ponchos become soaked in falls water (the flip flops they gave you are amazing too!)

My first road trip experience was everything I could have hoped for, and being able to experience it with my mom made it even better.

Literally in the falls.. amazing

Literally in the falls.. amazing

Happy #TBT everyone!

V

A Bibliophile’s Review On: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

**Note: The following thoughts and reflections are my own and do not have to be a view for everyone to agree with.. Just sharing my thoughts!

Wow. That was my first impression of this book. I kept telling myself that the stories couldn’t be real. Shaking my head at any chance I got to make myself believe that everything in the book was fiction… And then I read the Author’s note and how not only the stories are true, but the names as well.

I couldn’t believe it, but at the same time, I knew experiences like this happened in India, its just hard to picture at times.

I am so thankful that this book found me. A friend in my program loaned it to me upon return from her travels in India, visiting the slum areas and seeing the images the book portrays herself. I wanted to go on this trip with her but due to finances, I was not able to, so I was hoping this book would be able to paint a picture on what I missed.

All I can say is wow. I really enjoyed the book (even though it took me forever to read – but I blame myself and grad school for that)

I waited to reflect on the author’s point of view until the very end. I wanted to hear her side of the story before I made any comments. I do often times wonder what her experiences were like there as a white female telling the story of the Annawadi people. She mentions briefly that it was difficult in the beginning, but with all of the details mentioned she included in this book, I can’t imagine their community to want their full truths out there in the open without a little confidentiality. I mean, there were stories of theft, prostitution, fraud, bribery, etc. and full names were accurate throughout the book.. I can see it as being great to finally bring truth to how the Annawadi, and possibly other villages surrounding Mumbai, live, but I also have been thinking about privilege a lot and what that entails for a journalist like Katherine.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and recommend anyone who is interested of the details behind what a slum village is like and may not have the means of going there at this time, to read it.

Be sure to check out Katherine’s website for more information on the book!

VA

“I’m Bringing Blogging Back.. Yeah!”

In the inspiring words of JT, I am bringing blogging back.

Truly I did miss it. I always felt regret when I didn’t take the time to get on the computer and just write what I was feeling. I enjoy writing. I journal regularly, why am I not capable of holding down a blog?

Personally, I felt that if I wasn’t traveling or doing something exciting (you don’t want to hear about my grad life of readings and writing theoretical papers on student development?) there was no reason for me to write.. wrong! I need to keep telling myself that, at least.

So, to spice things up, I have added two new pages to my blog:
Bibliophile and A Moveable Feast where I will talk about my two favorite things: reading and eating. (on that note, a great book suggestion if you love travel stories is A Moveable Feast by Don George and other amazing travel writers)

Here’s to a new year and an updated blog!