Tag Archives: United States of America

California and Highway 1

DSC_2432In the middle of August, Josh and I flew to California for a friend’s wedding and made a little bit of a vacation out of our trip after the wedding festivities.

The wedding was just outside of the San Francisco area, near Mount Diablo. On a free morning before the wedding, Josh and I drove up Mount Diablo and enjoyed the scenic views from the summit. It seemed like a popular mountain to bike on, and I was very impressed with all of those in-shape bicyclists. It looked like a really hard ride.

DSC_2439There were some enormous pine cones on some of the pine trees, you can see the size beside Josh’s hand.

DSC_2517After our friends were married, we spent a few days and drove down to Monterey on Highway 1. The weather was really foggy and rainy for most of the drive, unfortunately, but there was sun at the beginning and end of our trip.

We stopped at some sort of bunker, but we never figured out what it was. The views were very nice from there, though.

DSC_2513DSC_2530bwThe next time we stopped it was at a lighthouse on Pigeon Point. We didn’t see any pigeons, but we did see some seals on the rocks below the lighthouse.

And on we drove to Monterey. The sun was shining and beautiful in the bay, and the sun seekers were out in droves. We walked out onto the pier and had lunch at a seafood restaurant. Then we walked around for a little while before heading back to the car and to our hotel.

At our hotel, the parking lot was jammed full of fancy collectable cars. It was quite the car show, just trying to find a space. There was a car auction going on and the hotel stayed very busy while we were there.

DSC_2549The next day we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a very nice aquarium. We enjoyed the different shows that they had for feedings. One that was especially fun to watch involved a whole school of sardines. They were very fast, swirling around and around until all the food was gone, then they returned to their hiding hole to avoid predators.

I hope you browse all of my pictures below. Enjoy!

Valley Forge

Continued from Philadelphia Part 1, and Philadelphia Part 2

IMG_1751When the golf tournament started, we moved out of Philadelphia and into a smaller town right beside Valley Forge National Historical Park. Of course Donna and I had to go visit it, and it is a very nice area. We drove through the park, stopping at the different monuments. We also toured through the house were George Washington stayed after the soldiers had built their cabins for the winter.

One of the highlights of the park was the Washington Memorial Chapel. It is a very beautiful church, and I found it very interesting with all the American symbols and soldier carvings.

IMG_1790We spent more time exploring and shopping around this area of Pennsylvania, and it is very beautiful. I love the winding roads and the gorgeous houses that all look like they are in the woods. We found an awesome tea shop in Wayne, PA called A Taste of Britain. Definitely go there if you have the opportunity. Delicious scones and very reasonably priced high tea service.

Continued from Philadelphia Part 1, and Philadelphia Part 2

Philadelphia in June – Part 2

See the first Philadelphia post here.

DSC_2217My apologies for taking forever to post the rest of our Philadelphia trip. I get so behind sometimes with my photos. On our next day in Philadelphia we visited Independence Hall and Congress Hall, the buildings where the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, and where the first House of Representatives and Senate met.

We also stopped in at another small museum right around the corner: The American Philosophical Society, who had a very beautiful exhibit going on called Through the Looking Lens, with the landscape and microscopic drawings of Cornelius Varley.

DSC_2231In the afternoon we rode around Philadelphia on the Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours bus. We saw a lot of the various historical buildings and streets, as well as museums and other iconic Philadelphia landmarks.

We got off at the Eastern State Penitentiary and toured the prison. It was very interesting, as it was the first of a penitentiary style that spread: where prisoners were kept in solitary confinement and silence in order to garner repentance for their crimes. In the end, it was a failed system, but it was interesting to learn about. After that stage, the prison was built bigger and bigger, and housed many criminals – including Al Capone and a dog who was arrested (who does that?).

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See the first Philadelphia post here.

June in Philadelphia

DSC_2058In June, Josh and I went to Philadelphia, PA for a few days sightseeing before he worked at the PGA tournament. We toured around the city for a few days with Josh’s mom and dad. Obviously, there are a lot of historical sights to see in Philly. We walked around the downtown historical area, ate a pancake breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market at an Amish restaurant. We visited the grave of Benjamin Franklin, and the US Mint and saw where coins and special commemorative medals are made.

That first afternoon we visited Longwood Gardens and it was very enjoyable. I love visiting gardens and one of the highlights of these gardens were the dancing fountains. We stopped by several of the fountain shows, and thoroughly enjoyed the conservatory. After that, we headed back to Philadelphia for dinner and a rest.

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Skagway, Alaska and a Trip Up the White Pass Railroad

Our last stop in Alaska on our cruise was Skagway. It’s a tiny little blip of a town with just a couple of streets and more of the same style of tourist shops. The real feature of this town is the start of the White Pass Railroad, an incredible feat of engineering that built a way into the Yukon gold territory so that the multitude of gold diggers wouldn’t have to cross the mountain passes on foot or with their poor ragged horses and mules that died by the thousand on the way over the passes.

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The railroad passes a lot of gorgeous scenery, goes through tunnels in the mountains, and over many bridges. It goes all the way from Skagway to Whitehorse. Josh and I rode on it up to Fraser, BC. Then we took a bus back down the mountains back to Skagway.

DSC_2039Our next stop was to learn about the Iditarod race from a man who has raced in the Iditarod several times. He told us about training the sled dogs and about the work they do in the race. The dogs are taken great care of, getting massages and sleeping bags at all their stops. Then we got to meet some of the dogs and some puppies. Puppy kisses are definitely worth the whole day.

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After that we walked through Skagway and headed back to the ship. Definitely check out the railway if you are ever in Skagway. Make sure to sit on the left hand side of the train on the way up the mountains, or on the right if you are coming down – the other side doesn’t have nearly as good a view.

See all Alaska Posts

Tracy Arm Fjord and Juneau, Alaska

Josh and I woke up early in the morning and walked out onto our balcony to an amazing sight. We had entered Tracy Arm Fjord, and it was breathtaking. We ordered breakfast in our room and sat on our balcony enjoying the scenery. Our captain navigated up the fjord quite a long way, past iceburgs. It was exciting and breathtaking. I click photo after photo and tried to spot wildlife. I managed to see some pregnant harbor seals, but I never spotted a bear, to my great disappointment. We were bundled up against the cold in the early morning, but it soon became warmer. We stayed in Tracy Arm all morning, floating up to Sawyer Glacier, then back down and out on our way to Juneau.

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We had a shore excursion planned for Juneau: Our group visited the Mendenhall Glacier, which we hiked out to and back again, then we went whale watching. The Mendenhall Glacier has a huge waterfall to the right of it, and the cold spray was quite refreshing after our hike. Although the hike was not long, I am glad we chose this shore excursion and not a more vigorous one, as hiking while pregnant took more out of me than I expected it would. This hike was just the right length.

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Our whale watch was good, we saw multiple whales, bald eagles, and some playful seals. The humpback whales in Alaska are not as active above the surface as they are in Hawaii, since in Alaska they are busy eating all the time, and in Hawaii they are mating or teaching their newborn baby the skills they need. We did get quite a few whale photos though, and one boat we saw got a very close encounter, the whale surfaced in front of them and then dove under the boat and popped up again on the other side.

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Harbor Seal
A pair of bald eagles.
A pair of bald eagles are sitting in the tree

 

Whale tail
Whale tail

It was another spectacular day in Alaska, and the weather couldn’t be better. I just stare off the boat into the beautiful scenery and am amazed at how gorgeous it all is. I didn’t know that there was anything this raw and wild left in America. My only comparison I can make is that it is similar to New Zealand wilderness. I’m sure northern Canada is also very similar to this, but going on a cruise to Alaska makes the wilderness accessible to those of us who want to see it, but not necessarily hike into the woods and set up camp where the bears could eat us.

See my other Alaska cruise posts