A Travellerspoint blog

The Splendor of Washington's National Mall

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The National Mall is the hub of activity in Washington, DC. Sure the paths are crowded with tourists, but it is amongst the marbled monuments that so many historical events have occured. The Mall is a bustle of activity during the day, but visit in the early morning and late night hours and you will likely find yourself drawn into a serene and peaceful world where crickets serenade and lit monuments dazzle. Between the Lincoln Memorial and Capitol building the Mall runs two miles long and encompasses dozens of museums, memorials, and historical landmarks.

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When I arrived in DC this past weekend I headed straight to the National Mall. I’m all about utilizing the light and weather to my photographic advantage and with rain heading in, I made a mad dash to capture the splendor of this open green space while I could. The following photos represent a collage taken at random points throughout the weekend and are in no particular order.

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I first said hello to Honest Abe sitting atop his marble throne at the Lincoln Memorial and stood where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

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I paid my respects to those who fought in the Korean, Vietnam, and World Wars at the respective memorials.

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I starred up at the dizzying heights of the Washington Monument.

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I caught a glimpse of Mr. Thomas Jefferson standing tall at the Jefferson Memorial.

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Finally, I made it to the Capitol building – the sight of thousands of significant historical changes in our Nation’s history and the platform for future change. While many may consider the White House to the mascot of Washington DC, I personally find the Capitol building to be the most impressive and iconic building in the United States.

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On my last night in DC I revisited the Mall to admire the sights by night. Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial I was truly moved by my fortune to live in such a safe and beautiful country. Our opportunities are limitless and our riches many.

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This was my second visit to DC and the type of place I could easily return to again and again (That coming from someone who vows never to make repeat visits to any destination!). As a teenager Washington DC was the first placed I really “travelled”, and my visit encouraged me to truly recognize the importance of our Nation’s history.

Returning to DC this past weekend would prove to be just as invigorating as my last. This was my first ever solo trip and a true awakening as I felt a surge of independence and empowerment. I can only imagine that these feelings must have been just a glimpse into the experience of our Founding Fathers as they separated from British rule and built the United States of America. The road was difficult and the path bumpy, but they were optimistic and driven. Today it is important to hold fast to these values as our country continues to evolve and improve. Just as our Founding Fathers proved, we can make change happen and we have a right to stand up for what we believe in. No matter your religion, culture, identity, or political stance - we all have a voice, let it be heard!

Posted by Jennylynn 14:20 Archived in USA Tagged photography Comments (1)

Sweet Rain

Learning to work with and not against the weather

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You may recall that Boston was lacking in the sunshine department when I visited. My shoes literally were soaked for four days – I liked to think that my hair dryer method of warming them up first helped matters, but Dan said it just made them smell funny. Either way – it poured in Boston, lightning struck, and thick clouds clung to the sides of the skyscrapers. It was fabulous. As I am one to never let anything get me down or thwart my travel itinerary (sightseeing during a protest in London – you bet! I crossed those yellow barricades like it was nobody’s business) I trucked through Boston as though the sun were shining down on me.
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A highlight for the trip was our self guided tour along the water front. The waves misted us, the sky was heavy with rainfall, and the puddles we began to navigate resembled lakes.

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Apparently on our last evening the Boston skies wanted to reward our travelling efforts with a light sprinkle, and the waterfall from above diminished. So we continued our Boston trek to Fenway Park. Now, I appreciate a good baseball game, yet I was about to discover that people in Boston take baseball very seriously. Baseball is a life or death matter in this town. You don't mess around with baseball fans or you might very well end up with a fist in your face. We didn't have tickets to the game, but the atmosphere surrounding the stadium was electric.

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To finish our tour de Boston we navigated the winding streets of Beacon Hill situated near the Charles River Esplanade. Beacon Hill was a lovely community with enough brick to pave a highway across America (sheer estimate of course). Judging by the expensive cars and fancy interiors we glimpsed through windows this had to be the home of Boston's well-to-do.

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But alas, the sky finally cleared and with perfect timing as we were headed for Cape Cod! Our journey to Boston was complete, but I vow to return and experience the city under better weather conditions. I often find that the cities I enjoy most are the ones in which I explore under a range of weather patterns. I know from much experience that a raining Seattle is a completely different city than a Seattle bathed in sun. So even though my travel plans may be thwarted by rain, I still let myself enjoy every minute of it.

Posted by Jennylynn 13:53 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

The Elite and Exclusive - Chatham, Cape Cod

Photo Friday!

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Our first stop in Cape Cod was in Chatham, the rich and stiff community of Southern Cape Cod. It wasn’t our favorite place on the Cape – I mean we’re not exactly part of the millionaire elite who frequent the rambling beach front estates. But it was quite charming, exuded colonial style, and definitely had some incredible beaches.

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We took some time to admire the town…but one look at a store front price tag sent us running for the water.

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Lighthouse Beach was divine – named rightly so after the lighthouse overlooking the sandy shores.

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We also wandered over to the Fish Pier. Now, let me get something straight. Dan and I are strict vegetarians – and that includes seafood. But for once in my year plus of being vegetarian I actually considered eating seafood. Cape Cod was the most difficult place to be vegetarian! Every restaurant served up plates full of fish, crustaceans, and all kinds of scary looking sea creatures. But – that being said- our arrival at the Fish Pier definitely snapped me out of my predicament. One look at all those bloody fish and well…I took back every awful thought I had about reverting on my vegetarianism just to eat some fish. Other than the unloading of the dead sea creatures – the Fish Pier was quite the delightful place. All the sea lions and birds swarmed the area hoping for a cast off fish and the setting was picturesque with the boats bobbing on the water. I try to always find the good in the bad.

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The weather was beginning to clear and Dan and I had high hopes of navigating the Cape northward in order to stick our feet in the sun warmed sand of Cape Cod National Seashore. As we left Chatham I couldn’t help but hope that on my next visit I will be one of those select few lounging by my sea side pool, munching on some delish vegetarian fare, while my bronzed pool boy fetches me a drink… Hey, a girl can dream!

Posted by Jennylynn 05:17 Archived in USA Tagged postcards Comments (0)

A Fleeting Visit to Wellfleet

Capturing the essence of Cape Cod

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A quiet stroll through a matchbox sized town really puts things into perspective. Here I was bustling across Cape Cod trying to capture the essence of every town I stumbled upon when it suddenly dawned on me that my franticness was doing nothing to promote a sense of place. The need to see and conquer can overpower travel and take away from the real purpose of discovery –something I try to avoid, but inevitably find myself falling victim to now and again. When this happens, I stop and remind myself that travel is not a completed checklist or a passport full of stamps. To truly travel you must give yourself time to pause and reflect.

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Immersion in a culture does not require large amounts of time or money. Simply take time to sit amongst the locals in a crowded café or stroll through park and watch as kids play and moms chat amongst one another. These are always the moments that stand out the most. Sure you can snap your photo in front of the Eifel Tower or Big Ben, but if you take a second and glance around, you might notice that you are not surrounded by locals, but by tourists such as yourself – and did you really fly half way around the world to rub elbows with the same people you left back home?
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Of all the places I visited in Cape Cod, Wellfleet stands out most prominently as this was one of the only places I actually stopped to breath and truly take in my surroundings. I couldn’t have picked a better place to slow down. Wellfleet speaks slowly, walks slowly, and drives slowly. This is a town where you can catch a movie, grocery shop, and attend church all within one block. With a population of just under 3,000 this quiet town is nestled on the Northern end of Cape Cod.

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Originally Wellfleet was not on our list of must-see Cape Cod towns, but a parade had closed down a major portion of the Cape, and well, we were hungry. Which is why we found ourselves at the Wellfleet Pizza Company on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but the allure of the town was enticing and eventually we had a hard time pulling ourselves away from such a charming community.

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Following our pesto pizza lunch we found ourselves drawn to a marsh. Yes, a marsh: a reedy, muddy landscape on the coast. Here we were in a town where 70 percent of the land belongs to the Cape Cod National Seashore and white sandy beaches and lighthouses abound, but rather than lay amongst the sand and surf we would have rather spent it exploring the swampy looking, muddy marsh sitting just on the town’s edge. This mucky lowland turned out to be quite the adventure as we navigated our way around a tiny island whose borders were shared with thousands upon thousands of bizarre looking crabs. Those crabs looked so creepy with one claw larger than the other as they did their best sideways crab walks across the mud. When sudden movements startled them they would move in unison making this eerie clicking noise as they did so. I’m no crustacean expert, so I couldn’t tell you anything about these peculiar little species we observed, but I do know that they provided a good hour worth of entertainment as we watched them traverse the muddy basin.

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We then made our way back to the tiny main street where we perused the shops and sat amongst the locals. The clock was ticking though, and I found myself becoming swept up in the need to finish our Cape Cod adventure. I had let all my traveling goals slide for several hours while I let myself get lost in a town that was unaffected by time and schedules. Wellfleet could have cared less where I had to be by a certain time or when I was leaving for that matter. Wellfleet seemed to thrive on the principle of relaxation. There was nowhere to go and no pressing plans. My moment in Wellfleet was fleeting, but even so, I loved it.

Posted by Jennylynn 07:29 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (2)

How to Get Lost at Harvard

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I felt like such a wannabe walking around Harvard’s campus. Here I was the dork with the camera watching hundreds of busy students strolling to class with law books and medical reference texts tucked under their arms while composing symphonies or solving mathematical complexities in their heads or something. Some were perfectly polished with polo shirts and sweaters wrapped around their shoulders, others donned chucks with greasy hair yet still managed to look smart. I was red eyed with frizzy hair from lack of sleep and too much rain carrying a guide book and a camera bag. I couldn’t have drawn more attention to myself unless I drew a big target on my forehead.

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Dan and I found MIT and Harvard’s campuses to be highly entertaining. The buildings were impressive, the grounds immaculate, and the chatter of students… well, actually just like any other college. I have to admit I was slightly shocked, I overheard students exchanging party stories, girls talking about shopping at places like H&M, and others giving advice on dating. I thought for sure I was going to catch a glimpse of the prestige splashed across the big screen in movies portraying Ivy League life. Sure, some looked the part, some even talked the part. But the majority, well they could have been…. Me? I began to ponder my potential. Yes, I excelled at academics. Yes, I am driven and focused. Yes, I strive for perfection. Did I sell myself short? When I applied to college I only thought to apply to the local University. One school! Do you know how many Colleges and Universities these kids applied to? How many years of research and planning they spent preparing to get into a first rate school? Not to mention the interviews with each school before they decided which prestigious place to call home. I have what it takes! I can master any subject you put in front of me, ok but maybe not engineering, or math, or economics, or politics, or business, or law, but boy did I pass all those humanities and sociology classes with flying colors!

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I looked to Dan, about ready to ask him where the admissions office was, only to snap out of my trance and realize I had no idea where we were. Lost in my musings I had completely neglected to pay attention to where we were. Yes, Dan and I were lost –At freakin’ Harvard of all places. YOU don’t ask for directions at Harvard! You know how lame that would look? I pulled out my phone ready to GPS ourselves back on track when it donned on me how entirely pathetic that would look – navigating my way around campus with my phone shouting commands such as “make the next legal U-turn.”

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This would take some clever footing. I decided to act like everything was under control. I would simply wander about, snap some photos, sit around for a bit, and wait for everything to make sense. Dan enjoyed watching me pretend like I knew what was going on. Usually I can rely on my internal compass, and could navigate around a foreign speaking country with my eyes closed, but on this particular day – well, it was just one of those days.

As luck would have it, I became hungry – what else is new? Following the smells of Ivy League cafeteria food (because you know Ivy League cafeteria food must be better than just regular college cafeteria food) I was on a mission. I figured once I found a common eating area I could satiate my hunger and then follow random students around until I found my way off the campus.

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And I was right! Once I discovered the posh cafeteria (what, you have to be a student to eat there!?) it was only a matter of minutes before my technique of following the masses worked! I was so happy to have found my way to the subway station and was just about ready to boast my navigational skills to the world, when Dan pointed to a little map in our Boston guide book titled “Harvard Square.”

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I could have whacked him over the head with that book. “You mean you knew all along, but you didn’t tell me!?!” Dan was beside himself. I wanted to throw random objects. In the end we both came to the conclusion that if I am unable to navigate Harvard’s campus sans map – my luck at actually getting into the school would be scant. I have resigned to stick to what I know best – eating and attempting to travel – no Ivy League diploma necessary.

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Posted by Jennylynn 20:33 Archived in USA Tagged educational Comments (0)

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