#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

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Tough Choices: Saying ‘Until Tomorrow’ to International Travel

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one travel, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted
wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

                          -Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken”

Having the ability to travel should never be taken for granted, but yet, I feel like sometimes it is. Take me for example. Whenever I daydream about traveling, I picture myself in a foreign country where I can’t speak the language, getting somewhat lost in the city center. I loved my experience traveling to Spain and Ireland, so I always want to relive those moments over and over again. Over the winter break, I dedicated my time to apply for summer internships across the US and various countries. All of the internship locations sounded appealing, but the international positions always connected to exotic imagery in my head. I wanted the internship location and position to bring me adventure, so when I got two offers from two different areas of the world, both jammed pack with adventure, I was stuck. Upstate New York and Bulgaria were fighting head to head in my mind in a travel sense, but I needed to be an adult and make a thoughtful decision. I knew Bulgaria would be an intense adventure that I could only imagine, but costly. I also knew that my excitement for the work I would be doing in New York state and a half-country road trip to get there brought the adventure I needed as well. Through my moment of indecisiveness and a little help from my best friends, I needed to make a decision.

Once I had made my decision, I thought declining Bulgaria would be easy. Just another box to check off my to-do list, but when I finished typing my email, I kept re-reading and double checking my words. I wanted this declining email to be perfect and wanted to somehow express how sorry I was that I couldn’t partake in an adventure to a country I’ve never visited. When I finally hit send, I felt a pinch in my stomach. It was almost like my inner wanderlust was inside of me, kicking and screaming in anger that I denied it of its thirst. I literally could feel myself trying to reassure it. Letting it know that my time in New York would include travel and new adventures.

I know I don’t have to be overseas to feed my cravings to travel. Taking a road trip to get to know my country sounds almost more nerve-racking than any new country I have ever visited. But that same nerve-racking energy that is bouncing in my mind is also the same energy that makes me more excited and happy with my decision.

Decisions don’t always come with the outcome you desired. Knowing this, and the path I chose, I can only wait for another decision to be made, another path to walk on…

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