Saturday, March 25, 2017

recollections of philly

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The first time I remember going to Philadelphia I was 17. It was spring break of my senior year of high school. While many of the other people in my class were piling into cars to head to the beach, I was on a road trip with my father and one of my friends to New York, DC, and Philadelphia. I guess I've always done things a little differently.

Philly sticks out most in my memories of that trip. I really fell in love, walking through Reading Terminal Market, debating which cheesesteak shop to go to, getting my history fix at Independence Hall while the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song was on repeat in my head. It's comical now to look back on, I was the uber tourist taking in all the contrasts. For a time I thought I'd go to school there, so I fantasized about getting an apartment in one of the older buildings once I graduated.

That was the only time I've been to that city when it hasn't been winter. Going in December has become somewhat of a tradition for my Mom and I. At the end of my second semester of grad school we went the week of Army-Navy game. We stayed in a little historic bed and breakfast and after coffee in the morning I'd walk around in the bitter cold. One day I made it all the way to Chinatown on foot. I'd wanted to get dim sum but ended up eating pho because it was so cold that nothing else would do. We found a really good German restaurant where we ate the best spaetzle and stayed up late hanging out at places on Market Street.

Then there was the time I spent an entire Sunday at the Franklin Institute when I was just expecting to go in to see a Genghis Khan exhibit. That trip wasn't as cold but it was more challenging, I saw some of the grittiness of the city. Not to be outdone though,  this past December it really showed off. From the amazing sunset while riding into the city, to one of the best meals I've had, then waking up early that last day there and walking around with the city seemingly to myself.

There are other places I've been just as often, but something about Philadelphia always feels familiar. I think we all have those places, unique to us, that offer a glimpse into our personalities.

What's that place for you?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

in the ivy league at princeton

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Mom and I were in Princeton, New Jersey back in December. It was one of those painfully cold days that was deceptively clear and sunny. I feel like every true winter day I had this season was when I was out of town. Chicago, Princeton, and Philadelphia were pretty much the only times the blanket scarves, heavy socks, and coats were necessary. Besides that one winter storm it has been so warm! That makes me a little sad.

Anyway, back to Princeton! Princeton itself is the loveliest of towns in New Jersey not far from Philly. It's claim to fame is the prestigious Princeton University that's the center of the town. We walked around campus with coffee to keep our hands from freezing. It's such a pretty campus to explore, even when it's hovering below freezing. The buildings and architecture make you think for a second that you're not in the states, but rather wandering around a university in England somewhere.

The oldest building on campus, and one of the most famous, is Nassau Hall. It housed the Congress of the Confederation briefly in 1783 and served as the capital of the nation during that time. Along with several other buildings, Nassau Hall is covered in ivy. This led mom to ask whether or not that's how the Ivy League got it's name. I pulled out my phone and asked google for the answer. As it turns out, no one is exactly sure how those group of schools came to be called that. Some speculate that it may have originally been referred to as the IV League because of the four schools (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth) that initially comprised it, and that it changed over time to Ivy.

Michelle Obama and Sonia Sotomayor both did their undergrad there. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Woodrow Wilson are a couple other notable alumni that once strolled the campus. We didn't do too much strolling and instead made a beeline for the art museum to defrost. I can't tell you how impressed we were. It's smaller but it's such an expansive collection. Lately I've been more into modern and contemporary art, but we spent more time in their medieval and ancient galleries because the pieces were amazing. They have several restored Byzantine and Roman mosaics.

Mom takes great pleasure in getting candid shots of me taking pictures!

After the museum we walked the few blocks back out to town and had lunch at Triumph Brewing on Nassau Street. The food and atmosphere are perfect. It's much larger inside than you'd expect. I had an open face turkey sandwich with a potato/stuffing cake and gravy. Mom had the prettiest salad!

I couldn't leave without seeing the cathedral, so after lunch we returned to campus walked off our food. The chapel was built in the 1920s in the Gothic style. Unfortunately we couldn't tour the inside as they were having a private event, which is a shame because it's supposed to have some stellar stained glass windows.

That's reason enough to have to go back!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

by the sea

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I've always tended to prefer the mountains over the beach. A major part of that is associating the mountains with family. I know I'm in the minority though. It wasn't until I got a little older that I began to appreciate the beach more. Sure, I always loved going as a child and swimming out in the waves for hours, but I didn't feel connected to it.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Port Royal, South Carolina

That started to change when I began going in the off-season, when the shore wasn't packed full of other bodies and umbrellas as far as the eye could see. Walking along the sand listening to the tumultuous winter waves crash on the shore with no other soul in sight, that's what made me start to get it. The vastness of the ocean pulling you into something greater than yourself, while feeling so small but so connected. The sound of the waves and the seagulls, it's the best kind of white noise as any app will attest. The sun beating down on your shoulders in the summer or taking the harshness of the wind away from our cheeks in the winter, elevating your mood. The sunrise on the East Coast with the water reflecting the pinks, or the glorious West Coast sunset vibrantly red to remind you how life is an art if you'll just see it that way.

Jupiter Beach, Florida

Vancouver, British Columbia

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Santa Monica, California

The ocean, it ask you to cast out your cares into the tide, all you have to do is listen.

Cape Lookout, North Carolina

Amelia Island, Florida 

Boston, Massachusetts

"For whatever we lose
 (like a you or a me), 
it's always our self 
we find in the sea." 
-E. E. Cummings 

Ocracoke, North Carolina

Tybee Island, Georgia

Vancouver, British Columbia 

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

What's your favorite memory by the sea?