Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shenandoah National Park

The third part of our journey was camping in the Shenandoah NP, which was lovely!

Sunday, August 4

We left Maryland around 10 to drive South. Once we got to the top of the park, Front Royal, we took the Skyline Drive to our campground. The park is really beautiful and I would recommend going if you are traveling through the area. It is 100 miles long and goes over the mountains, and there are around 75 pull offs and overlooks. We stayed at Big Meadows campground, which is in the middle section of the park. After getting the tent up and buying some firewood, we sat and read in the sunlight. The weather was so nice in the 60's and 70's. We then made dinner over the campfire-hot dogs, chips and then s'mores. Mmmm! The stars were gorgeous and we stayed up late around the fire. It was so cold in the 50's since we weren't used to it! Thankfully we had packed a lot of warm sleeping bags and bundled up.

Monday, August 5

We woke early from the sun rising in the East, and we were on that side of the mountains. We drove to the trail head of the Rose River Falls trail. It is four miles long and I read that it is moderate in difficulty and follows a lot of cascades. We saw a mommy and baby bear-I was in love! We also hiked up off this trail to see the Dark Hollow Falls. The trail was nice and the weather was good for hiking. I thought the falls were not as impressive as others I have seen, but they were nice. After this we napped, showered, and walked out in the big meadow that the campground is named for. There were deer all over the park that were not shy at all and actually would walk through our campsite. Another night of s'mores! This night it rained for several hours straight but we luckily did not get wet.

Tuesday, August 6

We waited until it was just a drizzle to get out of the tent around 7am. It took awhile to pack up, and we headed South again. We made it to my parents house around 4 and had a lovely night. We saw Tommy, Cyril and Jenny and also ate a delicious meal of mashed potatoes and meatballs. It was a fun vacation!

Monday, August 12, 2013

New Jersey, NYC, and Maryland

The second part of our trip was spent seeing Matt's extended family.

Tuesday, July 30

We woke up and had a nice brunch with Matt's Grandparents. Matt and I then drove about 30 minutes to Point Pleasant on the Jersey Shore. We walked along the boardwalk and then made our way to the small downtown area to go through some antique stores. I found a jade bracelet that I am pretty excited about. We then walked back to the boardwalk and got lunch and soft serve. The beach costs money to go on, so we decided not to. It seemed like it would be a fun and nice place to vacation if you lived near there and had kids. That night we went to a Jewish Deli and tried some new things.
Wednesday, July 31

This day we rode the bus to NYC and got there about 10:30. Since we had been there before and did a lot of the touristy things then, we just walked around. We spent time on 5th avenue and looked in some shops and then walked towards times square to eat at Shake Shack with my friend, Jenn. It was yummy! I could go for a milkshake just thinking about it now. We then walked to the Winter Garden theater to see Mamma Mia! We were in the 5th row and it felt so close! The music was wonderful and it was just a really fun show. I am glad we got to see it there. For dinner, we went to Armone on 9th avenue, an Italian restaurant we stumbled upon. The food was so good! Overall, it was a nice and relaxing day in the city.

Thursday, August 1

We drove to Maryland after brunch, and it took us a really long time to get there because of construction and rain. So, we were really happy to get there! Matt's Aunt Laura and Uncle Lonnie took us out to dinner where Matt got some raw oysters. Travel day-low key.

Friday, August 2

On Friday, we woke and went to the Chesapeake Bay to do some kayaking. We went back into a river inlet and paddled for about two hours. It was an arm workout! There were turtles everywhere that were so cute! The rest of the day I couldn't stop reading this new book series: Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I read them in less than a week and I cannot wait to read the 3rd one!
Saturday, August 3

After breakfast, Matt and I made our way to the small downtown area of North East. It is quaint and has a lot of little shops. I saw some things I wouldn't mind buying, but didn't. We got to relax and visit with Matt's cousins the rest of the day. It was so nice to get to know Laura and Lonnie more, and we appreciated their hospitality. It was a nice stop on our journey.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Washington, DC

It was nearing the end of summer, and Matt and I decided we wanted to go on a trip. After a lot of discussion, we decided on a trip to the North East. Originally we wanted to go to Maine, but decided that the time constraints were too tight. So, here is what we did on part one of our journey!

Saturday, July 27

We woke and left late for DC. The drive was not all too bad, except it took a lot longer than planned. Rain and traffic put the drive at close to nine hours. When we got to the hotel, we had a few set backs, but got everything settled. We stayed at the Lowes Madison Hotel in downtown. After looking up good places to eat, we walked several blocks to Chinatown to eat at a highly rated pizza place called matchbox. After dinner, we got a few drinks back at the hotel and hit the sack! 

Sunday, July 28

This was our biggest day of walking. After breakfast, we walked to the White House. The weather was overcast and in the 70s, so was very nice. Then we proceeded to walk through all of the monuments on the mall. We saw the Washington (closed because of the earthquake last year), World War II, Lincoln, Korean War, FDR, and Jefferson Memorial. I could not believe how large everything was! It was all very beautiful and moving to see.
The White House

Washington-covered in scaffolding

Lincoln Memorial

Korean War 

Part of the huge FDR memorial


Giant Bear Sloth

After this, we met up with my friend, Beth, for lunch. It was great to see her after so many years! Matt and I then walked back to the mall and and went through the Natural History Museum. It was so full of people, but they had some neat things there like dinosaur bones!! We were so tuckered from walking that we headed back to the hotel (I had huge blisters!! We think we walked about 10 miles that day) and ordered Chinese food in for dinner. Late at night, we tried to find an ice cream place, and eventually succeeded. 

Monday, July 29

After packing our bags and taking them down to the car, we had breakfast at the hotel. Soon after, we set out for the Library of Congress. It was a long walk from our hotel, probably about thirty minutes, but the weather was really nice in the low eighties. This was my favorite thing we did in DC, so I wish we had spent more time there. It is absolutely beautiful. The whole building is made of marble and has mosaics all along the ceilings. We could not actually go into the area with all of the books because there were researchers working in there at the time, but it looked amazing. I asked Matt if our library could look like it. There were also two really awesome exhibits we had time to walk through. One was about the civil war, the other about the Americas. Other notable sights: the Gutenberg Bible, Thomas Jefferson's actually library of 5000 books, and a whole series of old maps from the 1400and 1500s. 

Mosaics in the Lib of Congress

Matt and I then needed to head the US Capital building for our tour at noon. We were in a group of about forty and had headphones to hear what our guide was saying. At the beginning we watched a short video about congress, our government, and the building of the capital. I kept thinking about how it would be fun to bring the ninth grade students there to see all of the sights. The best part of the tour was seeing the rotunda, which was beautiful. The other big thing we saw were hundreds of statues, all of important people. 


The Rotunda in the Capital 
We then went and ate some lunch at a restaurant called Rosa Mexicano. They made the guacamole for us at our table, and it really tasted so delicious. We then hoofed it back to the hotel to get our car and head out. We left later than intended for New Jersey, but still made it in okay time. Two things here: traffic on the Washington-Baltimore freeway was really awful and toll roads are expensive! I really enjoyed DC and already have a list of things to do when I go back!