Hamilton Lottery Winner

The Hamilton Lottery is real! Adam and I have been playing the Hamilton Lottery almost daily for the past three months, and on the morning of Sunday, July 1st, we won two tickets for Broadway on Monday, July 2nd.  Everything happened so fast, and it still feels so surreal.  With approximately 30 hours before the show, I texted my boss, asked family in Pennsylvania if we could crash at their house, packed our bags, and headed north.  We walked around New York City for a couple hours before heading to the Richard Rodgers Theatre at 6:30PM, for our 7PM show.  We stood in line for a couple minutes with other lottery winners, and were handed our tickets at the box office.  I felt the adrenaline running through my body, wondering where we were going to be seated as we followed a lady to our seats.  And, it turns out our tickets were right in the middle of the first row!  Hamilton was amazing, and seeing the musical live was a million times better than the soundtrack.  For $20 ($10/ticket), we could not have asked for a better experience, and are beyond thankful for the opportunity.

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Alaska

Last month, my parents took my sister and I on a trip to Alaska!  We flew into Anchorage, stopped at Kenai, Homer, Seward, Girdwood, Whittier, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, and the North Pole, and then flew out of Fairbanks.  The drive from Anchorage to Whittier, along Turnagain Arm, was absolutely stunning.  Turnagain Arm definitely has some of the most scenic views in the world!

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In Homer, we saw one of the boats from the Deadliest Catch, the F/V Time Bandit.  Homer is a very small city, located on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.  We stayed at the Land’s End Resort, and ate at Fat Olives.  My mom, dad, and sister had local beers at the Salty Dawg Saloon.

We hiked the Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward.

IMG_0191In Girdwood, we went to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which you can drive or walk through.  However, most of the animals in the conservation center, you can see out in the wild by driving around Alaska.  In Girdwood, we also hiked Byron Glacier Trail, which is part of the Chugach National Forest.  On the hike, we saw brown bears in the mountains!

My favorite hike by far (and also a part of Chugach National Forest) was Portage Pass Trail, in Whittier.  I will admit, the 800 feet elevation climb was a bit rough, but it was so worth it for the view.  In Whittier, we also did a Glacier Cruise with Phillips Cruises & Tours.

Our day spent in Anchorage was more than I could ever imagine.  We went on a Helicopter and Dogsled Tour on Troublesome Glacier with Anchorage Helicopter Tours.  The scenic view was spectacular, and the huskies were so cute. It was my first helicopter flight, and the most excitement I have had in the sky since flying in a C-130 from Hawaii to Japan. For dinner, we enjoyed Moose’s Tooth Pizza.  To top the day off, we saw moose and bears on the side of the road, just driving back to our hotel!

Denali National Park was beautiful!  We hiked the McKinley Station Trail, the Savage River Loop Trail, and the Horseshoe Lake Trail.  We also took the Toklat Transit Shuttle Bus to mile marker 53 (the furthest we were allowed to go this time of year) in Denali National Park and saw brown bears, doll sheep, caribou, and birds.

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Before heading back to reality, we stayed the night at Chena Hot Springs Resort (definitely a tourist trap, and I would not recommend it), stopped at a Trans-Alaska Pipeline System viewpoint, and visited the North Pole.  The North Pole was such a cute town, complete with Santa Claus’ House and his reindeer.

All in all, Alaska is so beautiful, and I cannot wait to go back.  I even Googled real estate while I was there (just to keep my options open for a future summer home when I am rich)!

 

McConnells Mill State Park

UntitledThis weekend, Adam and I spent some time in Pittsburgh, and finally made it to McConnells Mill State Park.  McConnells Mill State Park runs along Slippery Rock Creek.  Visitors can enjoy hiking, rock-climbing, whitewater boating, fishing, and hunting.  The trails are filled with beautiful scenery – creeks, boulders, waterfalls, greenery, and wildlife.  Before going to McConnells Mill State Park, it may be wise to do some research and plan a hiking route; most of the trails do not go in a loop, and we were stuck going back the same way we came.  Next time, I hope to explore some of the more historical aspects of the state park, but McConnells Mill was a great adventure.

Fort McHenry National Park

Baltimore, only an hour away, has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time.  It was a nice surprise showing up to Fort McHenry National Park during National Park Week and receiving free admission (one adult ticket is normally $14)!  Fort McHenry was built in 1798, and used during the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I, and World War II.  When the British attempted to bombard Fort McHenry, an American Flag was flown, and its visibility ultimately inspired Francis Scott Key to write Defence of Fort M’Henry, now known as the Star Spangled Banner.  In 1925, Fort McHenry officially became a national park, and the flag that was flown over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 can be found at the National Museum of American History.IMG_0016 IMG_0045While I am clearly a national park fanatic, tourists in Baltimore can enjoy the National AquariumMaryland Zoo, numerous museums, and a bite to eat at Fells Point (we chose to eat at Riptide By The Bay).  Besides Fort McHenry, our day in Baltimore consisted of Edgar Allen Poe’s Grave, the George Peabody Library, the Baltimore Basilica, and the Lexington Market.  Since Baltimore was only an hour away, I am sure we will be back, so I need some recommendations — what are your favorite places to visit in or near Baltimore?

Atlanta, Georgia

A few weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to visit one of my best friends, Emily, and her husband, Roman, in Atlanta.  Emily and Roman recently bought a gorgeous house in Atlanta, Georgia, and I felt like a princess staying in their guest bedroom suite.  It was definitely a much-needed girls weekend, complete with late night chats, face masks, binge watching A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 2, and many shopping trips to Starbucks, Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom, Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls.

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Between shopping, eating, and being bums, we walked around the city.  Centennial Olympic Park is easily my favorite place in Atlanta!  The park was originally built for the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, and contains the Fountain of Rings (designed for children to splash in), sculptures, and an amphitheater.  The flags in Centennial Olympic Park represent countries who hosted the Summer Olympics preceding the 1996 games.  Also popular destinations amongst Atlanta tourists are the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.

Roman and Emily, thank you for having me!  I hope to see you both soon.

International Spy Museum

I have stated this before, but I love being a tourist in my own city!  This weekend, my boyfriend, Adam, and I decided to explore the International Spy Museum.  He purchased tickets on Groupon a few months ago (more than fifty percent off), and they were set to expire soon.

According to the Secret History of History section of the International Spy Museum, “Espionage is called the second oldest profession. Intrigue, trickery, and guile have always been powerful weapons. Spies have shaped the destiny of nations since the beginning of time—some inspired by patriotism, some driven by fear, others fired by greed or a combination of motives.”

While the museum was not my favorite (James Bond, a fictional character, who I could not care less about, makes up a significant portion of the museum), I did enjoy the historical exhibitions (World War II, Vietnam War, Cold War, etc) displaying the role spies had throughout world events and the artifacts they used.  One of my favorite signs to read pertained to the Cold War, and the U.S. and Soviet Union bugging each other’s embassies as they were being built (hiding eavesdropping devices).  After seeing Sun Tzu’s display in the museum, and reading quotes from The Art of War, the book is now on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list.

There is nowhere you cannot put spies to good use.

A military operation involves deception.  Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent.  Though effective, appear to be ineffective.

No one is given rewards as rich as those given to spies, and no matter is more secret than espionage.

-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Williamsburg, Virginia

2018 started off well; we took a weekend trip to Williamsburg, Virginia!  With the outside temperature ranging from -8 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and roads and sidewalks covered with ice and snow, the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg was practically empty.  To me this meant touring the sites most interesting to us (Capitol, Courthouse, Governor’s Palace, Governor’s Palace Kitchen, Gunsmith Shop, Magazine, Charlton’s Coffeehouse, and Weaver), taking a few photographs, and then visiting a couple of vineyards on the Colonial Wine Trail (New Kent Winery is now my favorite vineyard; every single one of their wines on the tasting list was high enjoyable).  Since we ate at Sal’s by Victor twice, in under 72 hours, I should probably mention that their pizza is delicious.