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Trip 2016 Travels 2016 Travels   All of my trips in 2016. 1. Washington DC - July (Waypoint 1-9) 2. New York... Walter Ch (US)
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2016 Travels

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All of my trips in 2016.

1. Washington DC - July (Waypoint 1-9)
2. New York - July (Waypoint 10-14)
3. California / Arizona (Waypoint 15-36)
4. Central Pennsylvania - November (Waypoint 37, 39)
5. New Jersey - November (Waypoint 38)
6. New York - December (Waypoint 40-41)

Means of Transport
Bus / Truck
  • 05Jun 2016

    1 Crossing Through the Place 06/05/2016 USA —

    Washington Crossing, USA

    Description

    I decided to take a day trip to Washington Crossing Historic Park. I have been there a few times before, including some of those times on Christmas Day, for the reenactment. More about that in an earlier entry in this blog, the 3rd one titled "Washington Crossing on Christmas Day". This visit, I wanted to see more of the park, and get to see the sites on it, which are closed on Christmas Day.

    This was the place where George Washington would lead the Continential Army across the Delaware River, to launch a sneak attack against the Hessian troops in Trenton. This led to the Battle of Trenton on Christmas Night in 1776. The Hessians referred to the German soldiers, who were allies with the British during the American War of Independence. Or more commonly known as the Revolutionary War. The Hessians were caught completely off guard, and got defeated by the Continential Army. And gave the Americans more confidence, as this was their first victory in the war.

    Arriving at the park, I would go inside the visitor center, which has been renovated recently. I would join a guided tour, led by a tour guide named David, and accompanied by a colonial soldier. We were taken to different spots in the Lower part of the park, including the Durham Boat House and the McConkey's Ferry Inn, plus got background on the crossing and the park itself.

    The Durham Boat House is where the boats are stored, which are used for the reenactment on Christmas Day. And the McConkey's Ferry Inn is a former tavern and inn, where George Washington may have stayed before the crossing. Dating back to the 18th century, there has been additions made to the place over the years.

    After touring the McConkey's Ferry Inn, I went back to the visitor center, to see the short film. Then toured the Exhibits Gallery, which was a small museum in the visitor center. Then back out, to see the row of flags, including 13 state flags. I am sure someone could figure out the meaning behind that. ;) Then walked around the Lower part, as this place was originally known as Taylorsville. There were some old buildings that still stood, but they were not open to the public.

    After walking through the area, I was not sure what to do next. But then decided to visit the Upper part of the park, which I have never visited before. And had to drive to get there, which was quite a distance. I did get confused along the way, but was able to get to the Upper part, starting with Bowman's Hill Tower.

    A tall stone tower, built in 1931 to commemorate the American Revolution, I went up the steps to the top, for view of the surrounding area, of Bucks County. The views were okay, but nothing really special. Then went back downstairs, and continued on, to the Thompson-Neely House. Only way to get there, was by car.

    I arrived there, and took the house tour of the place. I was the only person on the guided tour, led by Katherine. The Thompson-Neely House were originally a duplex. There was one original part, that dated back to 1702. And more parts got added throughout the 18th century, and served as a hospital during the war. Some notable patients that got treated and stayed there, included William Washington (cousin of George) and James Monroe (who would later become President). The house was once owned by Robert Thompson, and later on by his son-in-law, William Neely. Hence the name.

    After touring the house, I went to see the Soldiers' Graves, which is a site of a mass grave from the American Revolution. Then went to drive around the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. By then, I was hungry and worn out. So I went through it quickly, and headed back towards home.

    It was a good way to spend a day, and luckily, I was able to see the place before it started to rain really hard. And finally got to see the Upper half.

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  • 04Jul 2016

    2 Spending the 4th with the Amish and President 07/04/2016 USA —

    Lancaster, USA

    Description

    It was the 4th of July (also known as Independence Day in the US, or America's Birthday), and my job ended a few days ago. I was not looking for another one, as I wanted to do some traveling. And on this day, I decided to take a trip to Lancaster.

    I have been there numerous times before, and decided to visit one of the Amish attractions. I left in the morning, and drove out to Lancaster. The sky looked gray, and while I like cloud cover, I was worried about rain. I had a little trouble finding the place, until I remember reading somewhere, that it was next to a Target. So I went there, and found the Amish Farm and House.

    So who is the Amish? In short, they are a Christian religious group that pretty much lives mostly separate from the rest of society, and don't rely on electricity going through their homes. But not necessarily cut themselves off completely from the outside world, as they do shop at department stores, and will occasionally get rides in motor vehicles. But they do keep the outside world at arms length.

    Also known as Pennsylvania Dutch in this state, which is actually a mis-pronunciation of the term "Deutsch", as they actually speak an early dialect of German. They trace back to the 16th century in Switzerland, within the Mennonite group, but would later split from them. Lancaster County has the 2nd largest Amish population in the country, only Holmes County in Ohio is larger.

    Obviously, there is a lot more to who the Amish are, but you would be better off looking it up on Wikipedia and other sites for more information.

    I went inside the building, and decided to just tour this place. I would walk around on the grounds, seeing various buildings on an Amish farm, including a blacksmith shop and an one-room schoolhouse. As the name indicated, it is also a farm, which meant, there were farm animals at this place. I would stop halfway, so I can join the guided tour of the house. Then resume seeing the farm grounds, until I was done.

    After I finished seeing this place, I would leave, but could not believe that a shopping center was basically covering up this place. I was told by the staff there, that this place was in danger of being knocked down, when the developer of the land, wanted to put the Target and other stores there.

    Leaving the place, I headed to President James Buchanan's Wheatland. I had this quest to visit the US Presidents sites, whether it's homes or memorials, or whatever. Though, finding a definitive list is just impossible, as some would list places that are not open to the public. Anyway, I was able to find this place, as I did visit this place before. But never got to tour the home.

    So who is James Buchanan? He was the 15th President of the US, from 1857 to 1861. And sometimes referred to, as the guy who came before Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan would be the only President from Pennsylvania, and the only one who would never marry. His niece, Harriet Lane, would serve as his First Lady. And the first one to ever be called "First Lady".

    Now considered one of the worst Presidents of all-time, as he basically just made things a lot worse in the country, which would lead to the Civil War between North and South, over the issue of slavery and other things. From what I have read and heard, he certainly did not seem interested in being President, as it was not so much what he did, but he did not do. And when he left office, he was really relieved, as if a huge burden was lifted off his shoulders. The Presidency was clearly not what it cracked up to be.

    I would start with touring of his mansion. I did have a hard time keeping up with the tour guide, as I always wanted to take photos of the room, without any people in it. After touring the mansion, I would pay extra to see the Exhibit Gallery, which contained artfiacts from the Lancaster County area.

    After seeing Wheatland, I decided to head to Hershey.

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  • 04Jul 2016

    3 Having a Rainy, Sweet Time! 07/04/2016 USA —

    Hershey, USA

    Description

    As I left Lancaster and headed to Hershey, it started to rain a bit. I was hoping it would hold off long enough, until I got home. It would take me about an hour to get there, and the first time in a long time.

    I have been to Hershey a bunch of times, mainly to visit Hersheypark amusement park, and the nearby Chocolate World. At one point, it was an annual tradition to go there a few times per summer, during the late 90's and early 2000's. It ended when it started to get really too costly. And I have not been there since around 2010 (I think)!

    But before arriving into Hershey, I would stop by a Pizza Hut to get some dinner. I originally wanted to eat at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, that I used to go to during some of my annual visits. But it seemed like it was long gone! So it was to one of the few dine-in Pizza Huts that are left in this country. After eating a small supreme pizza, I headed to the Hershey attractions.

    Hershey is a town that was built on... you guessed it... chocolate! It was founded by Milton Hershey, who would come up with the chocolate bar that would bear his name. I also knew it for its hockey team, the Hershey Bears, who were once the AHL affiliate of the Flyers. And where Wilt Chamberlain would score 100 points in a single NBA game in 1962, for the Philadelphia Warriors, in Hersheypark Arena for a neutral game.

    As I arrived into Hershey, I decided to visit some of the attractions that I have overlooked or skipped in previous visits. Starting with the Hershey Story, The Museum on Chocolate Avenue.

    I did have some trouble finding it, as I did notice the street lights shaped like Hershey kisses. And it started to rain a little harder. I did find the museum, and luckily, parking was free. Once I parked the car, I went to the museum. Then looked around the place, as I hope it would stop raining when I was done. Then ended the museum visit, with the temporary exhibition, Chocolate Workers Wanted. This told the types of work that was done in the Hershey plant, to make the candy. Some of them included making the chocolate, and the shapes, as well as the wrapping and other different processes.

    After seeing the museum, I would head to ZooAmerica - North American Wildlife Park, which was part of Hersheypark. Unfortunately, it started to rain harder, and wondered if I should visit the zoo, as I will be outside most of the times. Well, I decided to go, since I made it this far, and not sure the next time I would visit.

    Well, I started to question that decision, as it really started to rain a little bit harder, with no signs of stopping anything soon. I would go through the gift shop, then start my walk around the zoo. A very small zoo, I was able to see most of it in less than an hour. Also, I did rush through some of the outdoor parts, as it started to pour. I tried to see and photograph as much as I can, but had to give up as I did not want to get soaked. So I ended up cutting my visit a little short.

    I headed back to the gift shop, and tried to dry up for a little bit. Then back out, to the car. I went to Hershey's Chocolate World. I have been here before many times, and still find enjoyment, mainly for the fresh chocolate that is on sale. There are also attractions in this place, but only one that was free.

    I would shop for some chocolate candy bars, and oh boy, the price of each individual bar has definitely gone up. Over $1 now, which is unbelievable. Probably a good thing, so I won't go overboard with buying so many. Well, I bought 4 king-sized bars, which seem have gotten smaller over the years. Then left the place, as it got late.

    Unfortunately, it has not stopped raining, and at times, there would be downpours. Walking to the car was one thing, but having to drive through the storm was a whole other story. It was not fun at all, and being nighttime, just made it a lot harder.

    I would drive slow on the highway, as I tend to be a defensive driver. There were trucks that would end up passing me in the left lane, but I did get nervous when trying to drive fast in the rain.

    I did make it back home safely. Despite the rain, this day has been an enjoyable one, getting to see a little bit more of Pennsylvania again. I am sure I will make more trips to that part of the state and more, as there are still more to do. And no doubt, they will be written about in this blog.

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  • 14Jul 2016

    4 Returning to DC 07/14/2016 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    It has been a long time since I have been to Washington DC, more commonly known as either Nation's Capital, or simply DC. I have been there a bunch of times, but not since 2008. Back when I first used a digital camera, joined TB, and the start of the baseball quest, though I did not get to visit Nationals Park. Instead, I made a day trip to Baltimore to visit Camden Yards.

    It has been some time since I traveled anywhere, as I had to work as much as possible, since my job would eventually end a week ago. In other words, I was out of work, and would be for some time. So for the time being, I would do some traveling.

    Getting up really early, I packed up to the last minute. Then took the train to 30th Street station, where I would have to wait about 90 minutes, to get on a Megabus, which would take me to Washington DC. The ride went well for the most part, and it did arrive very close to on-time, at Union Station. Unlike the Philly stop, the one in DC was inside a parking garage, which at least, protected from the elements and the sun. But still, very hot!

    I went into Union Station, and to the Metro, where I would learn about the SmarTrip, which is the updated card system that replaced the old white card. And it was a tap instead of inserting the card at one spot, and coming out at the other side. I would ride the Metro to the current location of the Washington Convention Center. Then walk to the Duo Housing DC hostel, through the intense heat.

    I went inside, and checked in. Then to the room downstairs, where I got settled. Looked around for a bit, and had to put on some sunscreen on myself. Then headed out, walking to a Subway restaurant first, to get some lunch. After that, I stopped by a T-Mobile store, to try to solve this problem with my cell phone, as images were not showing up. But I was told that they could not do anything, since my phone was very old, and instead, recommended me to buy a more updated one. I just left, and headed towards the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site.

    I went in there, to pick up a free, timed ticket. So I had about an hour to kill, and went to the nearby National Portrait Gallery. I did get to visit this place before in 2008, but did not get to spend enough time in it. I would focus only on 1 section, which is America's Presidents. Lately, I did have this interest in visiting the Presidents sites, and hope to visit them all. Hence, the interest in this part of the gallery.

    I would only have time to see the portraits, from George Washington (1st President) to Abraham Lincoln (16th). In the photos, I would post the order that they became President, and their years as President. Ending at Lincoln, this was a fitting end. That was because my timed entry coming up, to Ford's Theatre. So I left, and headed back there. Then entered the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site, which consists of 4 parts.

    The first 2 parts was one side of the street, consisting of the museum and Ford's Theatre itself. That was where the assassination of Abraham Lincoln took place, on April 14, 1865. Then he was taken to the Peterson House across the street, which is what I would visit afterwards, the 3rd part. This was where Lincoln was taken to, after being shot. And later died. And the last part was Center for Education and Leadership, which is a museum on the aftermath of Lincoln's assassination. It all ended with a tower of books, all of which, are books about Abe Lincoln.

    After seeing all 4 parts, I had to make sure that I got the NPS stamps. And undecided what to do next, as there were multiple museums open late. I decided to go to the National Museum of Natural History. Getting there was not fun, as I passed by some government buildings. I entered the museum from the back side, and had about 90 minutes to see this place.

    Of course, I would not be able to see the entire museum, so I had to be selective on what to see, and what to cut out. I remember taking day trips to DC when I was really young, and would spend entire days in this museum. And even back then, I could not see it within the entire day. Probably would take me a week to see it all. It has been a long time since I have seen this place, and could see that it has changed a lot. The only part that looked familiar, was the Rotunda with the giant elephant statue.

    I would go through the Hall of Mammals, reminding me of wanting to visit the zoo. And seeing the Hope Diamond, a bunch of skeletons of animals, Egyptian burial artifacts and the Korea Gallery. I would seem through some others, which also looked interesting as well.

    I would end the visit by touring through 2 of the photo galleries, which are temporary exhibitions. Both of them are about wildlife, but to a different theme. One of them was called "Into Africa", which has photos taken by Frans Lanting, on African wildlife. The other was "Nature's Best Photography Presents: Best of the Best", consisting of nature photos from the last 20 years for the Windland Smith Rice International Awards program. This was organized into different categories, from all over the world. They were just really amazing to look, and wished I had more time for it.

    Time ran out, as the museum closed, and I had to leave. I decided to walk back instead of taking the Metro, and would make a quick stop at the Grand Hyatt. I did have memories of this hotel, and wished I could stay here again! But just not willing to spend all that money for one night.

    I went to the same Subway from earlier, for my dinner. Then went back to the hostel, where I took a very much-needed shower. Then relaxed and used the computer. Glad to see some places still have regular computers.

    I would go to bed early, I did feel stuffy in the room. I told the hostel staff, who just tell me that there is only 1 AC that cools the entire building. And I would get to meet some of the roommates, who came from all over the world. Interesting to talk to them, as we are trying to go to sleep. Not sure how long it went, but I did had to get some sleep, as I would get up early the next morning.

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  • 15Jul 2016

    5 A Hot and Monumental Day 07/15/2016 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    I would get an early start, getting up before any of the other roommates. And decided to walk to the Washington Monument instead of taking the Metro, thinking it would be a short distance away. As soon as I went outside, I started to sweat immediately.

    Turned out it was farther away than I thought. I was told by the front desk at the hostel, it was 20 minutes away. It turned out to be 35 minutes, even if I ran sometimes. I would arrive there, as I planned to meet May (cotton_foam) there. But I did not find her there. When calling her, it turned out that she was at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. But she would wait for me there, as I would start making my way there.

    Leaving the Washington Monument, which I would skip again, passing by the John Paul Jones Memorial, to the Floral Library. I continued on, walking around the Tidal Basin. I remember doing this walk back in 1997 on a Sunday morning, but forgotten how long it took. As it turned out, it felt like forever. I would arrive at the Jefferson Memorial, where I would meet up with May. We went inside, as I did take a look around the place. This was a memorial to the 3rd President.

    This was our 2nd time meeting, with the first time in 2012 in Los Angeles. That time was very short, and did not get to hang out long enough. We sat inside the Jefferson Memorial for a bit. And she was very nice enough to give me some breakfast food, as I have not eaten anything yet. I ate some, and save others later, some for dinner. Then we left, and started to walk around Tidal Basin, visiting some of the monuments along the way. They would include the following...

    George Mason Memorial
    Frank Delano Roosevelt Memorial
    Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
    Korean War Veterans Memorial
    Lincoln Memorial
    Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    National World War II Memorial

    Along the way, we would take a little break, to hang out and rest up for a bit. It was just unbelievably hot and humid. Not sure how I keep putting up with it. Then resumed seeing more. After seeing parts of the National World War II Memorial, I would have to leave, hoping to get to make it to the tour for the US Capitol. So we had to part ways, but we would meet up again the next day. Still, I was glad to do this walk, though tough to enjoy in this intense humidity.

    I walked by the Washington Monument, and considered walking all the way to the US Capitol building. But my feet hurt so much, that I hopped on the DC Circulator. This was a separate bus line, taking people to tourist sites along way, and only $1. Whether that was a mistake or not, hard to say. On the one hand, it would go around Tidal Basin before getting stuck in traffic at the National Mall. But on the other hand, a good way to relax my sore feet and cool off for a bit. Still, when getting off at the stop nearest to the Capitol, it was still a long way off. With short time left, I gave up, and would try to book another time later on. Then got on another DC Circulator, deciding to go to the National Museum of American History.

    I have been to this museum before, and enjoyed it very much before. But it has been a while, so I decided to visit it again. Also, I decided to get lunch at the downstairs cafe, which I remember going to in past visits. Well, going there was probably not a good idea, as I knew it was obviously overpriced. But still, a good place to relax, and do some people-watching. And planning what to see in this museum.

    I would definitely see "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" and the "First Ladies of America". When touring the First Ladies part, I could not help but think how scary it will be, who will be next First Lady. I mean, how did we get from Martha Washington to either Bill Clinton or Melania Trump? I would also see a couple more exhibitions, "Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000" and "America on the Move".

    I had to cut my visit short, so I can go back to the hostel, mainly to shower and rest up for the upcoming baseball game. Since I decided to go to only 1 game per stadium visit, I wanted to make sure I get this right. I would take a short nap. After waking up, I headed back out, and rode the Metro, going to Nationals Park.

    I would come to a beer garden along the way, from the Metro station to the ballpark. Then walked to the other side of it, to see the little open-air museum in front of the home plate entrance. After seeing that, I entered the stadium, and saw the Baseball Americana. Then went to ask where the Ring of Honor was, but none of the ushers I asked, knew where or even what it was. But I would eventually find it on my own.

    I was feeling hot and sore, and annoyed that I had to go up the ramps instead of regular steps or elevator. But rather than waste time looking for those, I just went up the ramp, being able to see the Navy Yard area and the Anacostia River. Then reached the top level, and to my seat.

    I was finally at Nationals Park, which I missed the last time I was in DC. The Nationals (or Nats) used to be the Montreal Expos, before relocating after the 2004 season. And would play in RFK Stadium until 2008, when they move into Nationals Park. The Nats are currently battling it out in the NL East, with the Mets and Marlins. Since moving to DC, they have only had 2 playoff appearances, both ending in disappointment by getting eliminated in the 1st round. The Nats would have a Presidents Race, which is a mascot race between the different Presidents, in the 4th inning.

    The Washington Nationals took on the Pittsburgh Pirates, to start the 2nd half of the regular season. I did notice quite a few Pirates fans at the game. Stephen Strasburg started for the Nats. He started out 12-0 this season, which is really impressive. And in this game, lived up to the record, as he did not allow a hit until the 5th inning. That was when each team traded a run. Then the Nats blew it wide open in the 7th, scoring 4 runs, including a 2-run home run. And the Nationals defeated the Pirates, 5-1. A good start to their second half of the season.

    After the game, the lights were quickly turned off. It was if they were telling everyone to "get out now!" So I would head on my way out, and exited the stadium. Then to the Metro station, where I would see how crowded it was. In fact, entries to the platform was closed off for a little while, until it was cleared. Never really seen anything like this before.

    Strangely enough, the wait was not too long. And I would get on the Metro, that was not filled to capacity. So I was able to sit down. I rode back, and to the hostel. After showering, I would make another reservation for a tour at the US Capitol. Glad to see that there were open times.

    Back in the dorm room, the door was closed, which made the room more stuffy, as it would block out some of the AC. But I managed to sleep, as I finally visited Nationals Park.

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  • 16Jul 2016

    6 Seeing Capitol Hill 07/16/2016 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    Getting up and ready, I did get to eat the pancake breakfast, and it was really good. I ended up eating a bunch of them. I had to put on the sunscreen, as I was dreading to go outside into the hot weather. So I would be taking my time.

    Heading out, I rode the Metro to the Capitol Hill area, as I headed for the United States Capitol building. I had reserved a tour, and this time, I would not miss it. I would have to go through security, just like at an airport. Then entered the US Capitol Visitor Center, and felt instant relief from the air-conditioner.

    I headed to the ticket desk, to pick up the tour ticket, which was 30 minutes away. Then looked around the visitor center, as there were a bunch of statues. In fact, the visitor center itself, could be a separate attraction in itself.

    The United States Capitol, also called the Capitol Building, is the seat of the US Congress, which is the legislative branch of the government. This branch consists of 2 houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. In a nutshell, this is where bills get proposed, and when passed, become laws of the US. Obviously, there is a lot more to it, and you can read more about it on Wikipedia and other sites.

    When the time for the tour came, I had to get in line. Then entered the theater, to see the intro film about the Capitol. Then the tour of the building itself. I have done this tour back in 2008, but ended up losing most of my photos that I took of the Capitol. So I wanted to take it again, and take more photos. But much to my disappointment, there was restoration work being done. There is a lot of scaffolding, which obscured the art work on the walls. As for the tour itself, it was still very much worth it.

    After the tour, I would stop by the gift shop, then would see more statues in the visitor center. Then went inside Exhibition Hall, which is a small museum. Definitely worth visiting, while waiting for your next Capitol tour. And if needing to do something indoors, as in my case, to escape the oppressive heat.

    After seeing Exhibition Hall, I would go to the cafe to get some lunch. I knew that I would be overpaying for food, but I had no desire to go back outside. Besides, it would be a waste of time as well. And I needed to rest my sore feet. So I sat around for over an hour, probably a lot more, as I tried to plan out the rest of the day, before meeting up with TBers later on.

    Getting back on my (sore) feet, I would see some more statues. Then left, and went through the tunnel, which took me to the Library of Congress. So glad that there is one! Once there, I started to look around, following the tour from a brochure that I picked up. Looked around the architecture of the place, and seeing the Main Reading Room. I remember it from the movie, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”.

    I did see one of a bunch of temporary exhibitions in this place, called "Exploring the Early Americas". This had artifacts and displays on the history of the Americas, like that of the Mayas and Aztecs. Starting with the time before the arrival of Europeans, and ending with the impact after their arrival into the New World. Very interesting to see. After seeing this part, I walked around the Great Hall, I would go outside.

    I headed to the Folger Shakespeare Library. I had only 30 minutes to see this place, but since it was free, why not? The guard suggested the 2 things to see, before the extensive temporary exhibition. After going through the place quickly, as I would end up skipping the exhibition, I thought that I would come back at another time.

    Opened in 1932, the Folger Shakespeare Library was established by Henry Clay Folger. But he did not live see it open, as he died in 1930. He had collected a bunch of Shakespeare’s works over his lifetime, as this library was all about the playwright.

    I left, and rode the Metro, heading back to the National Portrait Gallery. As it was opened late, I figure to kill some time there, before meeting up with TBers. I would finish up seeing the portraits of the rest of the US Presidents, from Andrew Johnson to George W. Bush. I guess that means this part only has that of former Presidents, hence why I did not see a portrait of Barack Obama. After finishing this part, I considered seeing more, but decided against it. So I headed out.

    Going outside, I saw that it was raining hard. So back inside, and sat in the atrium area. I remember being there in 2008, as this was the last part of that trip. After that, I would not come back to DC until now. I waited for a bit, hoping it would stop raining. But it did not, and I did not want to be late. So I headed back out, to a short walk to the Metro station. Then rode it, leaving DC, and into Virginia.

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  • 16Jul 2016

    7 Meeting With TBers 07/16/2016 USA —

    Arlington, USA

    Description

    Riding the Metro as it took me across the Potamac River, I had arrived into Arlington, Virginia. Then looked at a map, and thought I knew the way, as I was looking for the hotel that May was staying at. But I ended up getting confused. Plus it started to rain, so I ran into a Hilton hotel.

    When asking the front desk about where the Marriott, they had no idea. I got annoyed, and headed back out. It was still raining, as I took cover for a bit. I continued on, until I came to the Courtyard Marriott. Not sure how I found it, but good thing that I did. I went inside, and would see May (cotton_foam), and meet Bill (Zagnut66). Then we all headed out, to get some dinner.

    We came to Ben's Chili Bowl, which is a popular eatery in the DC area. So much so, that it has attracted a lot of famous people. An it was definitely a nice place to hang out. May was nice enough to treat me to the meal, which I enjoyed very much. I had a chili hot dog, with potato chips, which was really good. The place itself, was really something. After eating, we headed back to the Courtyard Marriott, where May was staying.

    Once there, we just hung out in the cafe there. After some time, it started to get late, so we parted ways. Bill and I headed to the Metro. One of them came by the time we got there, and I would abruptly leave, to catch that Metro train. But turned out to be the wrong one, but luckily, I realized this after one stop. Then went in the opposite direction one, going back to DC.

    Once back in DC, and took a much-needed shower. Then to the room, to sleep.

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  • 17Jul 2016

    8 Panda-monium at the Zoo 07/17/2016

     

    Description

    Getting up early enough, main for the pancake breakfast, and try to get an early start for the zoo. I would take a towel that the hostel provides, as I gotten ready for another very hot day. As usual, I would leave later than planned, as there always seem to be something that I forget.

    I rode the Metro, then walked to the entrance of the National Zoological Park. More commonly known as the National Zoo, which I have visited back in 2005, with my sister. Mainly to see the pandas, as it was one of the few zoos in the US, to have them. But this one would be the only one that was free.

    As I entered the zoo, I would see a sculpture of a marlin, made of junk that washed up onto a beach. And would see a bunch more of these sculptures throughout the zoo, as they were part of the "Washed Ashore" exhibit. Seeing them, it is hard to believe of some of the things that get washed onto beaches, like batteries and bottle caps. And other things that I have forgotten. A good way of recycling, and cleaning up the beaches in the process.

    I made a stop at the Visitor Center, to get a zoo map. It would cost $5, which would go towards conservation. I certainly hope so, as I did pay for a map. I do like to collect zoo maps, as souvenirs.

    I would see a few animals, before getting to main attraction of this zoo, the giant pandas. And already, there was a little crowd. But I did get to see the pandas in 2 different enclosures, with one of them having a baby. I would go around part of the Asia Trail, seeing a few other animals, before entering the building, the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. This was where I would get a closer look at pandas at their indoor enclosures. Needless to say, it was just amazing to see these rare animals.

    After a while, it was time to move on. I would walk on one side of the zoo, going down the Elephant Trails, to see the Asian elephants. Then continued onto the American Trail, which has North American animals, like seals and bald eagles. Then went inside the Amazonia building, which was a little aquarium of different fish and frogs of the Amazon River. It was one of the few times where I felt relief from the humidity.

    But I went back out, to the Kids' Farm, which has farm animals. Then reached one end of the zoo. Then I would start heading back to the other side. I would stop by a place to get some lunch. And the perfect time to relax my sore feet, as I did put my feet on a chair.

    After lunch, I went to the Great Cats area, but would only see the lions. And came to a lemur island, but saw none. As the day went on, this seemed to be the common theme, as I would see some empty enclosures. But I can understand them trying to hide from the summer heat. A part of me wanted to do exactly that myself.

    I would come to the Think Tank building, which has some primates, and a display of different brains of different animals. And next door, was the Reptile Discovery Center, which has reptiles, along with some amphibians. I would see a variety of snakes, frogs, lizards, turtles and more. I would get annoyed along the way, when seeing people tapping on the glass. As if that would get the animal's attention. Plus I would get to see a docent hold a snake.

    Afterwards, it was to the Great Ape House, which has a family of western lowland gorillas, as well as orangutans. Then to the Small Mammal House, which has a bunch of small animals. That included golden lion tamarin, meerkats, Fennec fox, and more. This part was really extensive, and a photo gallery of the small animals.

    I would reach towards the end to the side of the zoo where I entered, getting to the Cheetah Conservation Center. But did not see any cheetahs, but did see zebras, dama gazelles, and others. This was a separate loop, which I went around it. Then backtracked, to the Asia Trail, as there was still more to see there.

    I would come to the Bird House, which is an aviary. A collection of birds, both indoors and outdoors, arranged by region and/or habitat. One of the birds included a Baltimore oriole. Yes, it is an actual bird, and not just a logo of a certain baseball team. First, I went inside to look around. Then went around the building outside.

    Leaving the Bird House, I finished up the Asia Trail. And finished with this zoo, as closing time approached.

    Walked to a Metro stop, as I headed back to the hostel. I was not tired, but my feet was so sore. Plus the camera battery ran out. Once at the hostel, I would eat some dinner, take a shower, and re-charge some of my devices. Then back out, to the monuments, as the sun was setting.

    I would take the Metro to get there, then walk to the National World War II Memorial. After looking around, I walked all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Both of these places were lit up. And surprisingly, kind of crowded, as there were a lot of people. I sat and just people-watched for a bit. Then had to walk all the way back to the National Mall.

    I came to the Smithsonian Metro stop, and it was closed. Not something I wanted to see, due to my sore feet and being late in a deserted area. So I walked a couple blocks to the next Metro stop, which was open. Then rode the Metro, taking me back to the hostel.

    Taking another shower, and tried to pack up for a bit. Then just relaxed and getting some much-needed sleep.

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  • 18Jul 2016

    9 Seeing Some Originals, and Returning 07/18/2016 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    This was my last day in DC, as I started the morning with the pancake breakfast. Then back to the room, where I had to pack up and put on sunscreen. I was not sure what to do, as I had a bunch of attractions in mind.

    After packing up, I would leave my backpack there. Then headed back out into the hot weather. I got on the Metro, still not sure what to do. Then came upon the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter stop. That was when I decided to get off, to visit the National Archives.

    I passed by the equestrian statue of Winfield Scott Hancock, and saw the National Archives building. And it was nice to look at, with its Greek Revival architecture. I would have to enter to the side of the steps, and go through security. Then was able to enter inside, much to my relief from this heat.

    The main reason to see this place was to see original copies of the important documents that helped establish the United States of America. They would include the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and the Bill or Rights. Located in the Rotunda of the place, there were already crowds, making it difficult to see the items. Even worse, was that there was no line to see it, making it very chaotic. I would have to cut in front of people, to read the descriptions and see the displays. And could not take any photographs. But still, it was really something that was actually touched by the Founding Fathers themselves.

    After seeing this part, I would go through a few other exhibitions. One of them would be one of the few remaining original copies of the Magna Carta, from 1291, in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery. This also shows how women and blacks achieved equality, with the passing of Amendments and laws. Plus in another gallery, a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. But being short of time, I would have to skim through the ones that I visited. More about this place in the review here.

    Leaving the National Archives, I was not sure what to do with the little remaining time left. I walked to the National Mall, and then to the National World War II Memorial, to snap some more daytime photos. Then walked all the way back to the Metro stop at the museum area of the National Mall.

    I stopped by the ranger station there, to get some more stamps for my NPS passport. But they did not have any that I wanted. So I had to go to the gift shop, in front of the Washington Monument. Going inside, it was small and cramped. And someone was ahead of me, as he was stamping his book as well.

    When I got my chance, I started stamping away. This saved me the trouble of going to all the individual sites to get their respective stamps. Once I was done, it was back to the Metro. And to the hostel, to pick up my backpack.

    Then back to the Metro, as I took it to go to Union Station. I was cutting it close, as I did make it to the Megabus area. There was already a long line. And I would sit right by one of the sign posts. Then I would hear the announcement, that the bus was running late. And the guy who did the announcement and did the check-in, had no idea of why. Plus learned that I had to check-in by 15 minutes before departure, or else lose my seat.

    At least we were not in the sunlight, though still hot inside a parking garage. The bus would come, and I got on. Then the bus left Washington DC, and taking me back to Philly. I did sleep during most of the time. Once back in Philly, I would take the train to take me back home. The trip was over.

    It would take 8 years to finally return to the Nation's Capital, as I would get to visit the baseball stadium, zoo and meet with TBers. I would have another trip coming up, shortly after this one.

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  • 25Jul 2016

    10 Arriving to a Rainout 07/25/2016 USA —

    Queens, New York, USA

    Description

    This was the start of a multi-day trip to New York. I have only done this a couple times, since I almost always take day trips. But this time, I wanted to go to a night game and see more of New York, as there is a lot more to see. Leaving Philly, I would take a MegaBus to New York. Once I arrive, I take the subway to Queens, where I would go check in at the Q4 Hotel, which is really a hostel.

    Getting to my room, I unpack, and do head to a market to buy some things, hoping it will last me through this short stay. Then back to the hostel, where I went to the kitchen, to eat my lunch. It consisted of ramen noodles and some slices of bread. Eating really cheap here!

    I went back to the room, to rest for a bit. I had the room all to myself, for the time being. I would hear and see that it was raining hard outside. I did wonder about the upcoming Mets game, that I was planning to go to. I did call the Mets box office, to see if the game was still on. They tell me that it was still on, but at the same time, the person admitted that they only know when everyone else does.

    A short time later, it did look like it stopped raining. So I headed out, stopping by a store to get some drinks. Then to the subway stop, where I boarded the 7 train, which was crowded with baseball fans. I was heading to Citi Field.

    Arriving into Flushing, as I got off the train, and out of the station, I could see that it was raining very hard. I worried about a postponed game, as the storm system traveled from Long Island City to Flushing. At first, I tried to wait it out, but that turned out to be pointless. So I just walked through the pouring rain, to the entrance of Citi Field. After going through a bag inspection, I was able to enter the ballpark, into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

    I had to dry myself, then looked around the Rotunda, which was a memorial to the very man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, back in 1947. His number would eventually be retired throughout MLB, which was 42. More about all this place in the ballpark review, later on in this blog.

    I would go to the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. I had to make sure that I came early enough to see this place. Surprisingly, there was no line to enter, and not really crowded either. Going through the place, it reminded me of the names of the Mets players, mostly from the '86 team. Names like Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and Lenny Dykstra took me back to my younger years, when I first became a sports fan. Especially Dykstra, who would later get traded to the Phillies, and have some great years with them, with 1993 being the best.

    And I would get to talk with one of the guys, who worked in the museum. Even mentioned that I mainly knew Keith Hernandez for "nice game, pretty boy", from an episode of "Seinfeld". To him, it was not surprising, coming from a non-Mets fan.

    After seeing the museum, I would go up to my seat in the upper deck. It looked like that it stopped raining. A good sign! Or so I thought, as got to my seat. But that turned out to be the wrong one, as I would wipe that seat dry for nothing. Correct row and seat number, incorrect section. So I moved to the next section, where I had to wipe the seat dry again. Not fun, as I had to use paper towels from the bathroom. When dry, I finally sat down.

    I would eat my chocolate sandwiches (consisting of bread and Nutella), while looking around. There was still tarp on the field. The scoreboard kept showing old footage. I waited until that dreaded announcement was made. The game was postponed due to rain, and rescheduled the next day as a traditional doubleheader.

    I went downstairs, to fan relations booth. There was already a long line, as many wondered what to do next, myself included. Turned out, I would have to exchange my ticket outside of the stadium, at the box office. So I exited, and got in the very long line at the box office. One of many long lines.

    I would wait for a long time. Then I heard an announcement, but could not hear it clearly. But I think it said that there were no exchanges happening at this time. Waited a little while longer, then just decided to come back the next morning.

    I would get on the subway, deciding to go all the way to Manhattan. I got to talk to a guy during the ride, who worked at Citi Field. I got off, and went to see Times Square.

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  • 25Jul 2016

    11 Times Square at Night 07/25/2016 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Times Square, where I have been to before, multiple times. The last time was in 2013, which was during the day time. I decided to visit again, this time at night, when the place really shines! Literally!

    I would take a walk along Broadway, as it seemed like some parts have become pedestrian. Hard to tell, as it was very crowded, to a point at some spots, where it spilled onto the streets. I would see all kinds of advertisements, which were everywhere. Either on a wall, or on screens. Passing by a bunch of stores and restaurants, along with some other type of attractions. More likely, those attractions are overpriced and probably not worth doing, as they are clearly tourist traps. In fact, Times Square is basically the very definition of a tourist trap.

    Times Square dates all the way back to the early 20th century, and probably even before that. The annual ball drop on every New Year’s Eve has been happening here since 1907. And has gone through major changes throughout the decades. From the 1960’s to 1980’s, it was the porn district, with its XXX theaters and shops. But by the 1990’s, efforts were made to clean up the place, and making it a family-friendly place, that does make it very much worth visiting.

    Then came upon the Disney Store, which I could not pass up. Not sure why, since it was just a merchandise store, and nothing more. And I was not going to buy anything. This one consists of 2 floors, and I would look at both of them. After that, I went back out, to see more of Times Square.

    After passing by some statues and a set of bleachers, I made a brief stop in the Hershey store. When entering, I would get a small Twizzlers, which was good. Can't remember the last time I ate them, as they are not really my favorite candy.

    Coming back out, I went back towards the subway stop, seeing more of the bright lights along the way. Once at the subway platform, I rode it, to Grand Central Terminal. I would go to the main concourse area, to look around for a bit. But realized that it was getting late, and I started to feel tired. So I decided to come back here the next day. So back to the subway, and to the hostel.

    When coming back to my room, I was still the only person in there. Maybe I will have the room all to myself? Turns out that was not the case, as another guy came in. This guy came from the UK, and was an interesting guy to talk to. He has been going to Olympic games for some time, probably going back to the 80's. Very impressive, as the Olympics are very hard to get to. And I think that he said that he would head to South America a short time after. And yes, that would include the 2016 Games in Rio.

    I made sure that the AC was on, as I went to sleep. And the subway noise did not bother me at all.

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  • 26Jul 2016

    12 Going Back and Forth 07/26/2016 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    I saw that we were the only 2 guys in the room. I had to got ready and pack up, as I would have to change rooms. I would eat ramen noodles and bread as my breakfast. After all that, I put my backpack in storage. Then headed out, as I had to take care one order of business. And this would be a long one, as I had to exchange tickets for Mets game.

    Took the long ride on the 7 train to Citi Field, but when I arrived, I did not have my ticket. So I had to go back to the hostel, to get it. But once back there, I could not find it, looking everywhere. Even worse, the computers there, were not responding well, with this security certificate problem. And I had trouble e-mailing the ticket to the hostel address on my smartphone. I started to lose it, with the front desk, even though it was not their fault. But then, there was a tablet, which I used to access the ticket site, and was finally able to forward that e-mail. And able to print the ticket. Success! I would also apologize to the front desk for my behavior. Then back out, to Citi Field again.

    Once there again, I was able to finally exchange the ticket, for one for both games of the doubleheader. But I planned to go to only one of them. Then back on the subway, as I headed to Manhattan. I would get off at Grand Central Terminal, also known as the Grand Central Station or GCT, and often used interchangeably. I walked to the main concourse area, and looked around.

    Grand Central Terminal is one of the commuter rail stations in New York that dates back to the early 20th century. Also called Grand Central Station or GCT for short, this station was built, meant to wow visitors whose first impressions of New York was grandness of this place. I looked around, seeing the Greek Revival architecture of this place.

    Afterwards, I exited out of one way, onto 43rd St, looking for the row of columns. But that was not it, I went back inside, through the concourse area, and out the other way. I came out to the 42nd St side, under a bridge. At first, I was not sure if I came out on the right side, not seeing that row of columns. Then noticed someone taking photos, pointing above the bridge. When I went to that spot and looked up, I would see the columns. Plus some statues.

    After seeing GCT, I would walk down 42nd Street, then hopped on a bus when one came by. I rode it to the end, then walked to the United Nations Headquarters (or UN for short). Formed in 1945 after World War II, mainly to prevent another world war.

    Passed by a row of flags, as I had to head for the visitor check-in office first. Then went through security, and had to get a sticker, after showing ID. This would allow me to enter the UN grounds. I had to go through security again, then looked at all the gifts from other countries.

    I would book a tour inside the General Assembly building, and thought it was a long-shot to get on one at the last minute. But I was able to get onto one, which was a short time away. So I took the time to look at more of the gifts, first the ones outside on the Visitors Plaza, like the United Nations Slavery Memorial, which is a memorial to honor the victims of slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Then went back inside, to see the ones inside the building itself. Plus the rotating exhibitions in relation to the UN. One of them was "Sustainable Development Goals", which were different goals to help improve lives better around the world.

    The time for the tour came, and we were taken around the United Nations Headquarters. Our guide was a Chinese lady, who did show us around the place as much as she could. Some rooms I was able to see, and others were closed off. And there were more gifts to see along the way, along with other artwork set to a certain theme, like human rights. And bypass some parts, some of which, I remember seeing before when I first toured this place back in 2001. Like the clothing remains from Japanese teens after the Hiroshima bombing. The tour would end at the General Assembly room, which is the only one where all member nations have equal representation. I thought it did move too fast, as if it was on some time limit, and overpriced. But worth a look if time permits.

    After the tour, I would see more of the exhibitions inside the lobby of the General Assembly building, including one of the refugees. And not just the Syrian refugees, but also other ones that don't get reported on the news. At least, I have not heard or seen it on CNN or the other news networks. Have to say, the photo gallery was really telling, and heartbreaking to see. Especially seeing the conditions that kids have to sleep in. After seeing the exhibitions on the lobby, I would leave the UN.
    Leaving the UN, I would head back to 42nd Street, passing through some residential area. And then took the subway to Lower Manhattan. I was going to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which has free admission after 4pm on Wednesdays.

    Once I got there, I would see a long line, which turned out to be a separate line for free tickets. Turns out, there are only a limited amount of free tickets, which will be given out, starting at 4pm. Seeing how long the line was, and after asking some questions to the people working there, I decided that I would save this place for the next day. I wanted to make it to the baseball game in time for the 2nd game, and did not want to rush or cut my visit short. Leaving Manhattan, I would take the subway back to Queens.

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  • 26Jul 2016

    13 Ballgame Happening 07/26/2016 USA —

    Queens, New York, USA

    Description

    Arriving back in Queens, I stopped by the hostel, to put my backpack in the room for the night. I did get to talk to some of the people there, who were from other parts of the US. Then back out, making a stop at a Subway restaurant, to buy a sandwich. This would save me money from buying food inside the stadium. And then, rode the long subway journey to Citi Field.

    Along the way, I kept checking what inning the first game of the doubleheader was in. And I would find my original copy of the game ticket in my back pocket, so all that back and forth for nothing, earlier that morning. A huge waste of time!

    Once I arrived at the ballpark, I would check out some of the things outside of it. Starting with the Home Run Apple, from Shea Stadium. Then to the parking lot, where there were plaques, which marked the spots of the bases and pitcher's mound at Shea Stadium. Once I did all that, I entered into Citi Field, to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which pays tribute to the first black to break the color barrier. Took another look around the area, before heading to my seat.

    I got to my seat, as Game 1 was in the 9th inning, with the Cardinals winning, 3-2. The Mets got a man on base, but nothing, as the Cards won the game. Then waited until the next game. I would eat my Subway sandwich as my dinner.

    I would have to sit in the same row as some noisy boys, and a couple who brought their newborn baby to the game. It did get a tad annoying with the boys, but did not bother me as much as I thought. Eventually, they would leave early. I would see the retired numbers, and it seemed like I did not hear any airplane noise. The opposite of Shea Stadium, where it was loud and clear. Plus the mascot race of cars, which looked weird.

    The same 2 teams, the Mets and Cardinals, played each other in Game 2. And turned out to be another low scoring game, with Bartolo Colon starting for the Mets. I did not know that he was still playing. He would give up a solo home run in the 2nd inning, as the Cards took a 1-0 lead. Then in the next 3 innings, the Mets would score 1 run in each of them. And that would be it with all the scoring, as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 3-1, thus splitting the doubleheader. Both teams needed wins to keep up in their respective divisions.

    I headed out, and saw the series of tiles called the Citi Field Fanwalk. Each of those tiles marked moments in Mets history, like the Black Cat game in 1969. A common myth that the black cats are bad luck, as they were good luck to the Mets, as they would end up winning the World Series that year.

    Overall, a nice and cheaper alternative to that of the other New York team, even if it does not have as much of the history of that other team.

    Headed to the subway, and rode it back to the hostel. Once there, it was to the 8-bed dorm room, where I had some major issues with it. I would write about all of them in the review. I took a much-needed shower, and did raise the issues to the front desk, to no avail. I did hang for a bit in the kitchen and common area, where there were people who were drawing and coloring Pokemon. Someone asked me if I wanted to join, but I declined. I would go back to the room.

    I did try to sleep as much as I can, as the room can get hot, with the AC off. I did turn it off and on, being the considerate person that I am, I did not want to make the guy sick, who had to sleep right below the AC.

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  • 27Jul 2016

    14 9/11 and Facing Uncertainty 07/27/2016 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    It was my last day of this trip, and time to get ready and pack up. And I did go to the kitchen, to eat some breakfast, and charge my devices there. I would stay in this hostel until around the time of checkout. When finishing packing up, I checked out, and decided to carry my backpack, to save time and money.

    During checkout, I overheard a guy, wanting to change beds, as he did not want to be under the AC. But the hostel was completely booked. I would e-mail the hostel about all this, done sometime after I returned home.

    I would ride the subway, going to Lower Manhattan, as I decided to go to the 9/11 sites. I start at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. This time, I would have to pay. I entered, and would check my backpack at the coat check-in, which was helpful to me. Then take a look around the place.

    September 11th (or 9/11 for short) in a nutshell - the day when 4 flights that were hijacked by terrorists, and 2 of them were were used to crash into each of the World Trade Center (which consisted of North Tower and South Tower, also known as the Twin Towers), causing their collapse. The 3rd was used to crash into the Pentagon, outside of Washington DC. And the 4th crashed in western Pennsylvania, where passengers fought back, and prevented it from going to its intended target.

    I remembered where I was, and did have some connection with the city, as my sister used to live there. She was home with me at the time, and was suppose to go back that day. But that did not happen, as the city was closed off. I did not know until my mom called and told me all about. I turned on the TV to see it all happen.

    And I have visited the World Trade Center a few times, and went to the top once. Back in 1999, the elevator went very fast, which was unusual back then. And came close to going to the top again, around Labor Day in 2001. But it was hazy, and I was short on time, so that trip to the top did not happen. And it turned out, never happen. I did get to visit a short time after the attacks, as I can remember seeing the dust and debris, as well as so many of the missing posters that hung throughout the city. It was truly something.

    I would walk around the museum, seeing some of the items along the way. Starting with Foundation Hall, which had items from the original WTC. And the survivors' stairs, which would be key to save lives as people ran out of the burning building. And then, to the main exhibition area, which told the story of that day. It was very crowded, and I had a hard time at times, moving around. The only part where photography was not allowed. It also gets into the 1993 bombing.

    After seeing that part, I would rest for a bit, before heading outside. Then walk around the area, in the memorial part, with its 2 fountain pools that are currently in the spots each of the Twin Towers once stood. There are names on each of bronze boards, that are around the pools.

    After that, I would visit the 9/11 Tribute Center, which once served as the main museum, before the National September 11 Museum opened. Operated by the survivors and family members affected by 9/11. This place definitely humanizes the event a lot more, and does show that it is not just something that happened in the news or history books. The items on display, definitely show this, which includes a boarding pass that was recovered at one of the crash sites. And a photo gallery of the people who lost their lives that day. An interesting place, though overpriced and short.

    After seeing that, I walked to the nearby Zuccotti Park, and saw the statue called Double Check. I was not sure what to do next, and considered getting something to eat. I had limited time left. I walked down one street, until I came to Trinity Church. I decided to check it out, as it was nearby. I entered through one side of the graveyard, seeing gravestones along the way. Then went inside the church, to look around.

    The current church is actually the third church building. The first one was built in 1698, and got destroyed by the Great New York Fire of 1776. Then came the second one, in 1790. But that one had some structure issues, and got demolished in 1839. Then came the current one, which opened in 1846.

    After seeing the church, I walked down Wall Street, and came upon the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall National Monument. Then went inside Federal Hall, where the very first inauguration of a US President took place. After seeing how much there was to see, I decided to skip this one, and save it for another time. Besides, I don't have my NPS passport book with me, as this was a NPS site. So I headed back out, and back on the subway.

    I would go to midtown, around Penn Station. And got a hot dog from a cart, as my cheap lunch. Then went inside a Baskin Robbins, to get some ice cream, which I enjoyed very much. Very cool and relaxing. But it could not last long, as I had to go back out into the humidity.

    I walked to the Megabus stop, and saw the line was already long. Even worse, it was in direct sunlight. I tried to cover with a towel, over my head and beck. And a long wait, as I got there early enough. When the bus came, I was relieved, and boarded the bus.

    I sat in the back, and thought it was a good spot. But the sun shined on that side, making it tough to sleep and just endure. And with my backpack on me, it was not comfortable at all. The bus left New York City, and headed back to Philly.

    Once back in Philly, I would get off earlier than planned, as traffic was stalled due to protesters from the DNC. Luckily, it was somewhere that I was familiar with. I had a lot of time to kill, but hardly anything was open. So I went to the train station, and headed towards home. I would wait there longer, until my mom came to give me a ride back home. This trip was over.

    I faced an uncertain future, as I have no job to go back to. No trips planned for the time being, and not planning to find another job until I moved. But I still hoped to visit more stadiums.

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  • 04Sep 2016

    15 Last Minute Planning and Indecisiveness 09/04/2016 USA —

    Houston, USA

    Description

    This trip was planned at the last minute, as I could not make up my mind. And when picking the places, then I was indecisive on what and where to see. The tough part was not so much what to see, but what not to see on this trip. Basically, the decision of what to cut out of this trip, as I tend to treat each trip was my first and/or only visit to that place.

    Ultimately, I decided to visit the West Coast again, which I have been multiple times. I would be going to California and Arizona. Not only to see baseball stadiums and zoos, but also to catch the final showings of "Paint the Night" parade at Disneyland. In fact, that would be the deciding factor to choose this trip over any other option. More on this later on!

    Starting this day, with packing up and trying to figure and finalize some details. Then when my mom came home, she gave me ride to the train station. Then I would take the train to the airport. Once there, I ate the little lunch that I brought along. After eating, I went through security, and to the gate. I charged my devices while waiting, until it was time to board. I got on the plane, and ended up sitting in the wrong row, much to the annoyance of a flight attendant.

    I was on a United flight, which took off from Philly, and headed to Houston. Arriving on time, I would have more than enough time to connect. I hoped to get on an earlier flight, wanting to get to Los Angeles sooner. Getting off, I went to the gate of that particular flight. But as it turned out, a bunch of other people had the same idea, as there were a bunch of people ahead of me on standby. So I decided against this, and stick to my original flight.

    With some time to kill, I would see a small exhibition on George H.W. Bush, who was the 41st President, and from the Houston area. That would be the first Bush, or Bush Sr. Then a little butterfly art display nearby. Then went to a Popeye's, where I ate lunch. I just love eating their spicy chicken and cajun rice. Then to the gate.

    The time came to board, and I got on. But when sitting, there was a delay, sue to the rain storm. It was pouring at times. So we all waited inside the airplane, until the rain stopped. I think 1 hour had passed, and thinking it was not so bad, as I did arrange for a shuttle in LA.

    But then, the plane had to make an unscheduled stop at Phoenix, due to running low on fuel. So this would further delay my arrival my arrival into LA. But at the same time, I could not really blame them. Safety first, after all! After the refueling was done, the plane took off, and I was finally heading to California.

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  • 04Sep 2016

    16 Finally Arrived in California 09/04/2016 USA —

    Fullerton, USA

    Description

    The plane finally arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (or LAX for short), and I could not wait to get off. When getting off, I made a fast walk to the curb, trying to figure out the shuttle situation. I arranged and paid for one, but arrived a lot later than planned. I sent texts and tried to call the shuttle company, Shuttle 2 LAX, but it was past office hours.

    I started to worry, until I came across a lady, who helped arrange shuttle rides. So I arranged one with her. I had to wait a while, but glad to see that I have a ride. When the shuttle van came, I got inside it, and finally headed to Fullerton, located in Orange County. I would get a ride to the HI - Los Angeles - Fullerton Hostel.

    The ride itself, would take a long time, and I felt carsick after looking at my phone for some time. It was getting late, and I started to feel worse. After dropping a few people off, there was confusion where the hostel was. I called the hostel for directions. And even willing to get off at some nearby spot and walk to it, but the driver would not allow it. I guess the driver would get in trouble if he did. After talking to hostel staff, we were able to find the driveway to the hostel, where I got off. And glad to get off, so I can finally breathe.

    Walked up the hill, to the hostel. And checked-in, and paid for my stay. And to my room, where there were some people already sleeping. So I would be one of those people making noise, as I unpacked. I took a much-needed shower, and recharged my devices. Then went to bed. I would take a look around the hostel, the next morning.

    After taking so long, I was finally here, back in California. And this time, I will be going to Disneyland.

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  • 05Sep 2016

    17 Finally Going to Disneyland! 09/05/2016 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Getting up, I have gotten ready, and went to the kitchen, where I would have a pancake breakfast. I would have to make them myself, and had some trouble doing that. But there was a guy who worked at the hostel, helped me out. I had to learn how much powder and water needed to make pancake batter.

    After breakfast, I would take some bread to save for later. And pay for another night, deciding on 3 nights. When all was done, I headed out, and walked to the supermarket. I went in, and bought some drinks. Then got on one of the local bus, which ran every hour, and took me to Disneyland.

    Arrived there, and one more hurdle to overcome, which was actually getting the park ticket. While I did buy ahead of time, I had to print the voucher to get the ticket on site. But I printed the receipt instead, and worried that I would have to go all the way back to the hostel, to do the whole thing. Waited nervously at the ticket line, but much to my relief, it ended up not mattering. I did get the 2-day ticket. Then finally entered Disneyland!

    I have been to Disney World in Florida, 8 times. But this was my first time ever, at Disneyland. Or as Anna would say, the first time in forever, as I did have same excitement as she did, after getting past the turnstile. With the Bare Necessities, which consists of a park map and Times Guide, I was all set to enjoy the very park that Walt Disney himself, has been to, and has his personal touches.

    Disneyland opened in 1955, and the very first Disney park in the world. All this time, I kept thinking that this park was an exact replica of the Magic Kingdom in Florida. As I would quickly find out, that would not be true, as soon as I got through Main Street USA. For starters, it is Sleeping Beauty Castle at this one. Nearby is the Matterhorn, which is a rollercoaster, that is similar to Expedition Everest. The only place where I would go on rollercoasters, as I am not really a fan of them.

    After the ride, I started going around Fantasyland and other parts of the park, I did feel a lot more compact, as everything seemed to be closer to each other. But that does not mean that I would get to see everything, being that this was Labor Day. And the final day of the Paint the Night Parade, which was my main reason for this entire trip happening in the first place. All of that meant bigger crowds and longer lines. Also, I arrived late morning, taking away even more time.

    I would go on some of the other rides that are unique to this park, like Indiana Jones Adventure and Pinocchio's Daring Journey. And I was disappointed when some rides broke down, and could not go on them, like Splash Mountain. Even the power was down in the entire Fantasyland. And some that are going through refurbishment (or renovation), like Haunted Mansion, as it was putting up Halloween decorations.

    Also, even with the rides that are at both parks, I notice that some of them have queues that are outside, even in the sun at some parts. Not to mention, the sequence within the rides would differ between the different parks around the world. Also, there are often random character meet-and-greets, meaning that Disney characters would walk around the parks, and stop at some spots to meet people. Instead of the scheduled ones at only one location. I would get to see Aurora, Fairy Godmother and Gaston.

    Speaking of Aurora, I would do the walkthrough in Sleeping Beauty Castle. This was basically going through the story of the film of the same name. It was really nice to see, but too dark, making it hard to take good photos. But I did like seeing the art.

    I would sit across from It's a Small World, to reserve a spot, to see Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Since that parade started at Main Street, I would see it later than the stated time.

    This afternoon parade begins with the float that has Mickey Mouse and friends, followed by a bunch of floats that has characters from the different Disney films. Each float is set to a certain theme or specific film.

    After seeing the parade, I would turn my attention to Tomorrowland. But it felt more like Star Wars Land, as it seemed like everything was about Star Wars. Having recently watched all the films recently, including "The Force Awakens" in theaters, I have a better understanding and appreciation of the franchise that happened "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away". Even really got into for some time, as I did read some of the books. Anyway, names like HyperSpace Mountain, and a museum-like attraction like Star Wars Launch Bay. Makes sense in a way, since Disney did buy Lucasfilm, and that a new Star Wars Land was being built. The only non-Star Wars ride that I went on, was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, which is a lot of fun.

    Along the way, I did worry when seeing my camera battery losing a bar, as I still wanted to take photos of the Paint the Night Parade. And my phone was running low on power as well. So I would go to the bathroom, and charge my camera for a little while. But I did not want to waste too much time, so I cut out after 20 minutes.

    I would visit 2 more attractions, which were Tarzan's Treehouse and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Attractions that different than the ones in Florida. After going to those 2, I headed towards It's a Small World, and tried to reserve a spot for Paint the Night, almost an hour ahead of time. But not surprisingly, it was already taken. In fact, I remember seeing one family sitting on a spot in the morning. Really? And one area was closed off, and would not open until 30 minutes. But it seemed to have opened earlier, or that people just ignored the barrier. I would get a spot, but behind 2 people. Not bad views, but it does make it tough to take photos. Still, I was finally going to see Paint the Night.

    So why is Paint the Night Parade a big deal to me? Well, after seeing it a bunch of times on YouTube, and learning that its regular run would end after Labor Day, I could not pass up the chance. So yes, this parade was the tipping point to take this trip. So what do I think of this parade? Well, it was definitely worth flying across the country to see it in person. And yes, a lot better than seeing it on YouTube.

    This showing was the 2nd-from-last overall. I would go on only 1 more ride, which was Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which is a submarine ride. Then went to find a spot, to see the final showing of Paint the Night Parade. And it was a better spot, as there was less obstructions in my way. I would stay for about an hour, until the final parade started.

    After the parade ended, there were crowds of people following the last float. And even singing along to the theme songs. Even I got caught up in the moment, joining in the crowds. It was really something to see and experience, and never thought it would get this festive at a Disney park. Here is a video of it... Following the last Paint the Night show. I would skip ahead to the 10:45 mark. Or check another one here, to get a feel of it.

    It was getting late, and I had to leave the park. So I exited, and stopped by a store for a bit. Then to the bus stop, where I waited for some time. I worried a bit, about being stranded, as it was past midnight. But a bus did come, and took me back to Fullerton. Once there, I went back to the hostel. I took a shower, and then to sleep.

    Despite some problems along the way, this ended up being a very enjoyable day! As they would ask during Paint the Night, when can we do this again?

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  • 06Sep 2016

    18 Relying on Public Transportation in Orange County 09/06/2016 USA —

    Fullerton, USA

    Description

    I would sleep in late, after coming back very late the night before. So no hurry to get out, and decided to save the 2nd day of Disneyland for later on, in the trip.

    I would eat the pancake breakfast, and think that I got the hang of making pancakes. And I would borrow the laptop, as I still prefer using a regular keyboard. And did get to talk to the guy at the front desk.

    After getting ready and figuring out some things, I would leave the hostel, as I was going to the John Wayne Airport to pick up a rental car. Walked to the Ralphs, the name of the local supermarket chain. Bought some things, and then took the bus to Fullerton Station.

    Once there, where I hoped to transfer to the next Metrolink train. But the next one would not come for a few hours, which was too long. So I would have to rely on buses, to get to the John Wayne Airport. I did get to see a freight train pass by, which I always like seeing.

    I went to the cafe, needing to break a $20 bill. But that took a little too long, and missed the bus that I need to take. I did try to chase it down, but gave up and just waited for the next one. So I went back to the cafe, and just waited there. When that 2nd bus came, I got on it, and rode it.

    I got off, and had to transfer to a 3rd bus, which finally took me to the airport. I think the entire journey took about 3 hours, as this seems to be typical of relying on public transportation in Orange County. And possibly southern California, for that matter.

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  • 06Sep 2016

    19 Last Minute Visit to Zoo 09/06/2016 USA —

    Santa Ana, USA

    Description

    Arriving at the airport, I would have to take a shuttle van to the Thrifty rental location. Then would pick up the car there, and would get talked into getting extra insurance coverage that I did not really want. Mainly to cover myself since I am going to a different state, since the laws may be different. And just as bad, that I would NOT have any XM satellite radio, as this place rarely has cars that has one. So this will make the long drives, a lot more longer.

    I would get a mid-size car, I think, which was a Mazda. And getting used to the idea of turning on the engine by hitting a button instead of using a key. I drove out of the location, and would go to the nearest Burger King, to get a quick lunch.

    After doing some thinking, I decided to go back to the car rental agency. I had to try, at least to remove this nagging doubt. Luckily, I was not far from it, and would go back. I went inside, and was able to get the insurance plan, which reduced costs. That saved me some serious money, which the difference would be credited back. Then headed back out, and onto the freeway. And have to deal with traffic, which is not surprising, being in southern California.

    Being that it was late in the day, I figure that my only options would be limited to the Orange County area. And decided that I would go to the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. I did not have much trouble finding it. I arrived there, and then entered the first zoo of this trip.

    Starting with the replica of a South American outpost, which was more of an interactive exhibit. I would then come to the Colors of the Amazon Aviary, which has birds from South America. I was able to spot a few, but not many. Then would walk around the back end of the zoo, seeing some camels and macaws.

    Then walked down Monkey Row, or Primate Row, which goes down one side of the zoo to the back side. This was a series of displays, with a variety of primates, in some old-looking cages. Because of this, this zoo would sometimes be known as the Monkey Zoo.

    After seeing Monkey Row, I would see the rest of the zoo, seeing some open spaces and more birds. Some of them would include greater rhea and a giant anteater. And to the last part, the Crean Family Farm, which consists of farm animals and more. I walked around the area, then back towards the entrance area. A small zoo, it took me about 1.5 hours to see it. And it was hardly crowded at all, and at times, it seemed like I was the only one in the zoo.

    After seeing the zoo, I looked into other options. But considering the travel time and the heavy traffic, I would have no time. And save myself some headaches. So I headed back to the hostel. I would get lost along the way, but would eventually find my way around.

    Once at the hostel, I rested for a bit. Then went back out, and stopped by a Ralph's supermarket, to get some drinks. And a nearby Subway, to get a sandwich, as this would be my dinner. But I would eat that later.

    Back on the freeway, as I was heading into Los Angeles, to the Griffith Observatory.

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  • 06Sep 2016

    20 Seeing Into Space and the City 09/06/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    From Fullerton, I would have to get on the freeway, to get to LA. But would get lost, when taking the wrong lane, leading me onto the wrong freeway. And had to get off, in an industrial area that looked deserted. I quickly got back on the freeway, and drove to the Hollywood area. Then drive to Griffith Park.

    I tried to go in one way, but it was closed off. So I had to go in another way, and hit traffic. The main parking lot was full, so I had to go on a street, and park on it. Then had to walk along that street, which has no sidewalk, and not well-lit at all. At times, I had to use my cell phone as a flashlight, to let others know of my presence.

    Then I walked up the hill, to the Griffith Observatory. It was quite a walk, and I did worry about running out of time. And very windy and chilly. But I made it to the top, and sat at one of the picnic tables, to eat my dinner. It was kind of nice, to eat and see the lights in the city. I would see some beams of lights, which I assume, are some type of search lights in the Hollywood area.

    After looking around the grounds, which are really dark and hard to photograph, I went to stand in line for the telescope in the dome. I should not be surprised that the line was long. There was a guide, who told what time the door to the telescope, would be closed. And how it can be pointed at a different target in space each day. This day, it was pointed at Saturn.

    Well, I was able to get inside, and see the huge telescope pointing into the night sky. And did get to see the planet Saturn, and one of its moons. Possibly Titan, its largest moon. Just wow, as I got to see the 6th planet from the sun, and its famous rings. I wish that I could have looked longer, but had to move on, to keep the line moving.

    I would go on the terrace, and see the city of LA at night, with its bright lights. Seeing this, just reminded me of the countless times I would see this in movies, thus making me think of LA as the land of the movies. So this was really something for me. Though, it would be a huge challenge to take photographs of it, trying different modes on my camera.

    Afterwards, I went downstairs, and see some smaller (and more modern) telescopes on the lawn. And went inside, to look at some of the displays in the museum. I would only get to see a few of them, including the pendulum, which is a giant, swinging ball on a string, that shows that our planet Earth is really rotating. And giving us our days and nights.

    I would leave, since the observatory was closing up. But I decided to come back later on in the trip, as there is still more that I wanted to see. And wanted to see in the daytime as well.

    I walked back downhill, then along the street, to the car. Then drove out of Griffith Park, and headed back to Fullerton, in Orange County. Quite a long drive, not really realizing how vast the area it really was.

    Once back in Fullerton, I started to pack up a little bit, as I would be leaving California the next day. Then to sleep!

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  • 07Sep 2016

    21 The Start of the Long Drive 09/07/2016 USA —

    Moreno Valley, USA

    Description

    It was time to leave Orange County, as I would finish up packing. And eat a quick breakfast. Then borrowed the laptop, which I used to reserve a night in Phoenix. So yes, I would drive all the way to Phoenix within the day.

    I did take my time a bit, as I had to make sure of some things before leaving. Once that was taken care of, I checked out and left the hostel. I went to follow directions on my phone, looking for the freeway. Not surprisingly, I got lost. I would stop by a 7-Eleven, to get some bottled water. Not only to stay hydrated, but in case the car overheats, as I will be driving through the desert. It can reach up to 100 F (or 38 C).

    I would find my way to the freeway, on CA-57. Then to CA-60. I left the urban area, and drive past some mountains, as I would see a different side of California. I did look for some strip malls along the way, and stopped by one, in the town of Moreno Valley. As I parked the car, I did notice the M on the mountain, and had to look up where exactly I was.

    I went to the Wendy's, for a quick lunch. Then take a brief nap in the car, as I did feel tired. And felt like I should rest up as much as I can. After waking up, I resumed driving, getting back on CA-60. I continued on it, until it merged with I-10, which I would take the rest of the way to Arizona.

    I did make a brief stop at a rest area. Not only to use the bathroom, but to see how far along that I am, and let the car rest for a bit. Mainly to prevent overheating. I would also have the air-conditioner off at times, as just a precaution. Maybe I am being too much cautious.

    Getting back on the freeway, I would see more mountains, and windmills in this desert terrain. Continued on, to the town of Palm Desert.

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  • 07Sep 2016

    22 A Desert Zoo and More 09/07/2016 USA —

    Palm Desert, USA

    Description

    Arriving into the town of Palm Desert, I passed by strip malls and some gated residential communities. I did have some trouble finding my way, as I was heading to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

    Once I did find it, I would buy a Summer Membership, which has the benefits of an Annual Membership, but much cheaper. More about this and the zoo, along with more zoo photos in the zoo blog.

    Entering the zoo, I would see a lot of cacti, and start at the Indian Ethnobotanical Garden, which was a little museum that I did not expect at this place, on the Cahuilla tribe. I skimmed through it quickly, as I really came to see the animals. Made a stop at the animal hospital, looking at the different rooms. Then back out to see more of the zoo.

    As I would have to remember the name of this place, in addition to the animals, there are also a lot of plants on display. Mainly those that can survive in the desert. I started on one side, which has more plants. Then went through the Oasis Aviary, which was a replica of an oasis, and had some North American birds. Then saw more plants, from different deserts in the Southwest part of the US, and Mexico as well. Then to Eagle Canyon, where there were more North American animals. Including another aviary.

    When coming along the other side, I would see the Bighorn Mountain, which was part of the Santa Rosa Mountains. And see the bighorn sheep, which seem to have the whole mountain to itself. Then came to the Africa part of the zoo, which has mainly African animals. First along the mountain, then to the Village WaTuTu (yes, it is actually spelled that way on some literature). A replica of an African village, which was shaded, and had more African animals.

    I came to the petting zoo. I would talk with one of the keepers there briefly, and we even got to see the giraffes and ostriches in the distance. I remembered the keeper saying that the ostriches are too unsightly to see, which I found to be a little amusing.

    After walking around the village area, I continued on, and get a closer look at the giraffes. They seem to have a huge wide open area to themselves. Enough space to roam around, on a series of hills. So it can be hard to see them at times.

    Towards the end of the visit, I would see G Scale Model Train Exhibit, which was really impressive to see. Too bad that the model trains were not running, as I guess, it has been shut off for the day. After seeing this, I would start heading out of the zoo.

    There was hardly any people there, and at times, it seemed like I was the only person there. Well, I can understand that, being in the middle of the day on a very hot day, with some parts having no shade at all. In fact, the zoo would close early for that reason. And not surprisingly, most of the animals would retreat from the sub by this time. So I did not have much time to see it all. And turns out, I would miss one animal building, which I did not know about, until I already exited out.

    After exiting out of the zoo, I would get back on the road, and stop by a Sam's Club. I filled up on gas, and picked up a cheap lunch inside. Good thing that I brought along my Sam's Club card. After all that, I was back on the road, as I resumed driving on I-10.

    I was heading to the next place, the Joshua Tree National Park, which was farther away than I thought.

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  • 07Sep 2016

    23 Driving Through 2 Deserts 09/07/2016 USA —

    USA

    Description

    Exiting off I-10, I drove to the Joshua Tree National Park. Then entered it.

    I made a stop at the Cottonwood Visitor Center. Mainly to pick up a map, and get directions and recommendation of a route from the ranger there. I was also given the newspaper on the park, which was a seasonal one.

    Also, I had to get the regular National Park Services (or NPS) stamp and the centennial stamp in my NPS passport book beforehand, as the visitor centers were going to close in a short time. Might as well get that out of the way. The NPS stamps are normally called cancellations, but I call them stamps, since that is what I actually do. After all that, I was back out, and looked around for a bit. Then started driving and exploring the park.

    I would make stops along the way, and read some of the description boards, but not all of them. Some areas seem to have names, but I am not exactly sure. But I will name them that way in the photos.

    Joshua Tree National Park consists of landscapes of 2 different deserts, thus can be divided into 2 parts. Coming from the South Entrance, I would go through the Colorado Desert first. Then came to a point where it switches to the other part, the Mojave Desert. There is no real boundary line, but the differences are gradually noticeable mainly by landscape and the type of plant life. And elevations as well, which would result in the differences in temperature.

    As I drove through the Mojave Desert part, I would see a lot of rock formations, which were really impressive to see. Even got out, and did a little rock climbing, around Skull Rock. Let's just say, rock climbing is definitely not my thing, as I find getting down a lot more scary than going up. And supposedly, this is the easy part, as I did see some kids and old people climb rather easily.

    I came to an intersection, which I took to go to Keys View. Passing by a bunch of joshua trees, I reached the end of the road, to Keys View. Getting out of the car, I walked up for nice views of the Coachella Valley and the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Supposedly, there is a lot more things to see, but the thick haze made that impossible. Still, very much worth making the detour.

    When getting back to the car, there were a swarm of bees around it. Not sure why the bees are attracted to the car, but that made it very difficult for me to get in the car. This was just unbelievable and scary to see, as I never saw anything like this. But I had to get inside, and just sucked it up, and entered into the back seat. Then to the driver seat, and drove out of Keys View. There were a couple bees that got in, as the buzzing sound did make me jump. I had to let them out, but luckily, out of that area.

    I stopped to see the joshua trees. Supposedly named that by Mormons, because they looked like the upstretched arms of Joshua to the sky in prayer, in the Bible. There were a bunch at this part of the park, along with some more rock formations to see. No doubt, this part of the park was a lot more nicer to see.

    I reached towards the end, and considered backtracking to exit out of the South Entrance. But thought that would take too long, so I decided to go out the West Entrance. As I exited the park, the booth was closed. So it turned out, that I ended up visiting Joshua Tree National Park for free.

    But I had a very long drive ahead, as I was heading for Arizona.

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  • 07Sep 2016

    24 Long Drive to Phoenix 09/07/2016 USA —

    Phoenix, USA

    Description

    Exiting out of Joshua Tree National Park, I was heading for Phoenix, Arizona. I came upon CA-62, passing through a few towns. One of them being the town of Twentynine Palms, where I would fill up on gas. And good thing, because I would have a long drive with no services for 100 miles (or 161 kilometers). Strangely, I was curious about this town, but could not stay long, as it started to get late.

    I would drive through a stretch of road in complete darkness. No lights at all, other than the headlights on my car, which I had to put on high beams. So I could not see a thing at all. And being in the middle of nowhere, I did have worries of breaking down. It felt like forever, as I had no idea how much longer to go, until I got to CA-177 (which would take me to I-10). Once I got to CA-177, I was partially relieved, until I got to I-10.

    Once on I-10, which was a lot more busier. And a different problem, as there were so many trucks on it. Dodging them was not fun at all, as I still had a long way to get to Arizona. Once I crossed into Arizona, there was still more driving to do, to Phoenix.

    Needless to say, I arrived in Phoenix very late, at the Motel 6. Then checked in, and unpacked only a little. I went to sleep right away, needing to get as much sleep as possible.

    This Motel 6, however, was different, as it seemed to be a bit rundown. Being in a sketchy area certainly did not help. Still, just glad that I was able to survive this very long drive.

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  • 08Sep 2016

    25 Quick Visit to Zoo 09/08/2016 USA —

    Phoenix, USA

    Description

    Waking up, as I did not really hurry to get ready. I did try to get as much sleep as possible, after that long drive. I did have to pack up, and check out of this place. I went to the nearby gas station to get fill up the car. I planned to go to Tucson later, to meet up with a TBer.

    But first thing first, which was to visit the Phoenix Zoo. After getting something to eat, I drove to Papago Park, which is a park that looks like it is worth checking out. But with limited time, I had to skip it, as I came to see the zoo. After parking the car, I used my Summer Membership to get a discount. Thus, the Summer Membership has paid itself off.

    Entering the zoo, I came to see the 2 types of vultures, right by the gift shop. Then tried to figure out which way to go, as it was still early in the morning. I would then go to Tropics Trail, where there the animals from tropical regions. Some of them would include the Asian elephants and Komodo dragons. But would stray from Tropics Trail, to the Harmony Farm, which has farm animals. Next to that area was the Children's Trail, which has a bunch of birds, amphibians and reptiles.

    I backtracked all the way, and came back to Tropics Trail, to see the rest of the area. I walked around the pond area, seeing more tropical animals along the way. Including the common squirrel monkeys in Monkey Village. After walking around the pond, and completing this part of the zoo, I took a little break in the cafe. I considered getting ice cream, but none of the options were to my liking.

    I resumed walking around the zoo, going to the Africa Trail. Starting with the conservation area, it looks like a more wide open area, with mostly big enclosures. And some really small ones for certain animals, like the rhinos.

    As I continued to walk around in this area, I took another detour, which was Desert Lives. This was a long, curvy trail that towards a sandstone mountain. In some ways, reminds me of the Living Desert Zoo. And there were the Arabian oryx and desert bighorn sheep, which seem to free to roam in such a huge area, giving the illusion of being in a more natural setting. With the Arabian oryx, the Phoenix Zoo played a huge role in saving them from extinction.

    I came back to Africa Trail, backtracking a little to see the lions and a few others. Then completing this loop, ending around the savanna area, shared by a bunch of animals, including giraffes and ostriches. But I did not see the giraffes this time around, and had to move on.

    Then to the last part, which was the Arizona Trail, consisting of more local animals from the state. Mainly a bunch of rattlesnakes, and other native animals. After seeing this part, I came back to see the savanna again, where I did see the giraffes this time. And I was done, as I did go through this zoo relatively fast. More about the zoo itself, and more zoo photos, in the zoo blog.

    I took a short break, getting some ice cream with a minty swirl. Very good, especially in this hot weather. Then I exited the zoo. I was leaving Phoenix, and got on I-10.

    I saw a sign for Popeye, and considered eating lunch there. But had a hard time finding it, after getting off the highway. I gave up, stopped to get a drink and back on I-10. I was heading to Tucson.

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  • 08Sep 2016

    26 Spending Night at TBer's Place 09/08/2016 USA —

    Tucson, USA

    Description

    As I got close to the Tucson area, I was undecided which place to spend the night in. I did get lost along the way, until I came upon one of the motels that I considered. Then would give Harriet (Africancrab) a call, and she invited me to stay at her place. I was not sure at first, as I tend to be very hesitant to stay at people's homes. But then decided to take up on her invite.

    I would follow the directions that she gave me, but would stop along a street, across from a gas station. Then called her, and met her at that spot, where I would follow her to her place. Then arrived at her place.

    Going inside, this will be the first time that I went to a TBer's home. And the first time that I spent the night at one as well. It was really something. And getting treated to her tomato soup, which is actually really good. And I don't normally like tomato soup. And talked about a bunch of things, like Eleven Heaven.

    I got settled, as I unpacked, and took a much needed shower. After all that, I would get to meet the rest of her family, consisting of her daughter and son, and later, her husband Mark. They brought some food from KFC, which would be my dinner. Then watched the NFL Kickoff game, which is the first game that starts off the NFL season, which was a Super Bowl rematch between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Mark, being a Chiefs fan, was not happy with the result.

    It was an awesome experience, to spend a night in such a nice place, with nice people. I had a blast, and very relaxing as well, as I got to know everyone better. Well, at least the adults! :)

    Glad that I chose this option over staying at a hotel. And get to meet another TBer.

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  • 09Sep 2016

    27 Another Zoo, Before Heading Back 09/09/2016 USA —

    Tucson, USA

    Description

    I slept relatively well. When getting up, I had to pack up my things and get ready. Then went downstairs, and just missed Mark, who already left for work. I would hang out for a bit, with Harriet. And get treated to some breakfast. Plus she was nice enough to give me bottled water and some food, for the road. We talked about possibly meeting up again, with the upcoming meetup in Spain on New Year's Eve. Not likely that I will go to that one though.

    I left, and headed to the Reid Park Zoo. I chose to go to this one, as this was one of the zoos that gave discounts to those with memberships from certain zoos. In my case, it was the Summer Membership. Paid admission, and entered the zoo.

    Starting along the left side, on the Asia side, with the Malayan tiger. A very small area, as I proceeded to the Africa area, which has animals, like tortoises, white rhinos and giraffes. Then I noticed spots on my photos, so I had to backtrack to the entrance, to start over, with the photographs. That is, after wiping the lens clean.

    When picking up where I left off, I came to the Expedition Tanzania, which has a herd of African elephants. Continuing on, I see the rest of the Africa part, which included an aviary and the Family Conservation Learning Center. Then came to the last part, which was the South America part. Like a canopy rainforest, which I walked completely through. There was an aviary there, and I thought it was closed, as the door would not open. Turned out, the door was stuck, and I had to push harder to open. And I did, to walk through this aviary as well. After all that, I was done! More about this zoo, along with zoo photos, in the zoo blog.

    I left, and headed to the next place on my list, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM). It turned out to be quite a distance, as I would take some backroads, and through the Tucson Mountains. I did make some stopovers, to look at them. But could not linger long, as I had to get to the ASDM. A lot farther than I thought, as it felt like forever.

    But I did get there, and walked to the entrance, as I had to re-apply sunscreen. But once at the ticket window, I asked how much time needed to see this place, and debated whether to go in. It is actually a zoo rather than a museum, despite the name. After hearing the estimate answer, I decided not to visit, as I felt like this place should not be rushed. And shortchanging myself in the process. So back to the car, and left.

    I stopped by a strip mall, that I may have visited back in 2004. I don't know for sure, but it was where I met up with some friend. I have lost contact with her since then, but hope she is doing well.

    Moving on, I stopped by a McDonald's, to get some lunch. After eating, I was back on the road, as I would take I-10 to get back to Phoenix. Along the way, I would stop by another McDonald's, as I started to feel a little sleepy. So I went inside, and got another soda. And rested for a bit.

    After a little while, I got back on I-10, and continued on. I did stop by a Sam's Club, to fill up on gas. There was a sign to a NPS site, but it would be too much of a detour, so I declined to visit it. Back onto I-10, as I wanted to have enough time to check in hostel, and to the baseball game, in Phoenix.

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  • 09Sep 2016

    28 Heard and Chase About Museum and Baseball 09/09/2016 USA —

    Phoenix, USA

    Description

    Arriving into the Phoenix area, I would run into traffic. Looking at directions, I followed them, getting off I-10, to the hostel, named HI Phoenix - The Metcalf House.

    Once there, I would see a little black cat by the door. Hoped it had a home, and wondered if it was a resident cat. When trying to get inside, I could not. So I had to call, and got the code to get inside. But I had to wait more than an hour, before reception opened again. That was very disappointing. So I looked at possible things to do, until then.

    I came upon the Heard Museum, and called the place. They were going to close in 1 hour, but they told me that I would be allowed in for free. So I got out, and drove to the museum. Not hard to get to, though I did have to deal with traffic.

    I arrived at the Heard Museum, and went inside to look around. This was a museum about Native American cultures. I would find myself touring through some parts faster than I wanted to, as I tried to squeeze in as much as I could within that 1 hour. I would tour some of the exhibitions, rushing at times. Having displays of different pottery and artwork, with very good exhibitions including the main one, “Native People in the Southwest”.

    When closing time came, I did have some trouble finding my way out. Once I did, I looked around the outside area for a bit, before leaving the museum area. While I did feel rushed, I could not complain, since I got in for free.

    Afterwards, I headed back to the hostel, with time being tight. Then to the reception desk, where I waited for a bit, as the staff was getting organized. Too long, or just me being impatient! I finally checked in, and dropped my things in the room. And asked about laundry as well. Looked okay so far.

    I got directions from the girl at the front desk, who was really nice and helpful, even at my impatience. Then walked to Chase Field, as I noticed streets being named after US Presidents. Once there, I came upon the APS Solar Pavilion. Then entered into Chase Field. The roof was closed, so major relief with the air-conditioner on.

    I walked to the outfield area, to see the swimming pools. Then started to head to my seat. I did try to look for the TGI Friday's, which was how I saw this ballpark in 2004 (but not for a game). But could not find it. So I went to the upper level. I got to my seat, and looked around for a bit.

    Chase Field has been home of the Arizona Diamondbacks since their start in 1998. And one of the few ballparks to have a retractable roof. It is part of the sports complex, that also includes the arena of the Phoenix Suns. And has a swimming pool in the outfield seats.

    Turned out that this is Coyotes Day, as there was some partnership between the Arizona Diamondbacks (baseball) and Arizona Coyotes (hockey). So a little ice hockey theme at the game. A coyote howl can be heard whenever the Diamondbacks scored, and the mascot race was a bunch of them holding hockey sticks.

    I remember when the Diamondbacks (D-backs for short) won their only World Series in 2001. That had to be one of the biggest nail-biters, as it went a full 7 games, down to the final inning.

    As the game started, I was disappointed to see that the roof would open. While nice to see the roof open, I would have preferred it to be closed for the game.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks took on the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were still in playoff contention, while the D-backs were pretty much out of it. Starting in the 2nd inning, with the Giants taking a 1-0. But the D-backs responded with 4 runs in the next 2 innings, which included a home run that was allowed due to replay. The Giants came back to take a 1-run lead, before the D-backs tied. And this would repeat a few more times, and would go extra innings.

    The game was taking a very long time. I was hoping it would end soon, as it started to get really late, and I had an early morning flight next morning. The game went 12 innings, as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks, 7-6. It took 5 hours, 23 minutes! Unfortunately, I would have to leave soon after, and skip the postgame fireworks. It probably was not a good idea to go to a baseball game, on the night before the early morning flight.

    As it turns out, I could see the postgame fireworks, as I was walking away. When it ended, I walked back to the hostel. Then started to pack up a little, and took a much needed shower. By then, it was approaching 1 AM, meaning that I would not get much sleep. And I had to skip doing laundry, which I really needed to do.

    After doing a few things, I went to sleep, trying to get as much as possible.

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  • 10Sep 2016

    29 Leaving Arizona 09/10/2016 USA —

    Phoenix, USA

    Description

    As much as I wanted to sleep more, I had to get up, around sunrise. I had to get ready, and finish up packing. Luckily, I had my boarding passes already printed.

    After checking out of the hostel, I drove to the nearest gas station, to fill up the car. Then drive to Sky Harbor Airport, first to return the car at the Car Rental Center. Too bad that one of the local radio stations just started an 80's weekend, as I did not have any satellite radio during the entire road trip. Anyway, I had to get on a shuttle, to get to the airport.

    Once there, I had to go through security. I would get in the wrong line at first, but then got in the correct one. Once I got through, I walked to the gate. By then, the flight had just starting boarding. I would get on, and have a window seat.

    The plane took off, leaving Phoenix. Wished that I could have spent more time in Phoenix (as well as the state of Arizona. But it was time to head back to Los Angeles. A very short flight, but it would feel like forever. And that was mainly after the plane landed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

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  • 10Sep 2016

    30 Pissing Away to Hollywood 09/10/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    As the plane landed at LAX, I would need to use the toilet so badly, and was having harder time to hold it in. Making it worse, was that there was traffic on the runway, so that meant being stuck on plane, with our seat belts fastened. I would press the call button, to tell the flight attendant that I needed to go so badly. Not surprisingly, she said no. So I tried to wait it out. But after the pilot announced that he was not sure when it will park at the gate, I just thought "screw this", and went to the toilet. Talk about major relief, as that made the wait more easier. I did not care what the consequence would be, like getting taken away once at the gate.

    The plane did arrive at the gate, and I proceeded to the curb, for the FlyAway bus. I waited for a while for the next one. When it came, I rode it to Union Station. Then took the Metro, to the Hollywood/Highland stop. Then walked along Hollywood Boulevard, to the Hollywood & Highland Hotel & Hotel. And soon enough, I was worried about this hostel.

    I would have to wait a while to check in, as there was only 1 person on staff. So I waited in the TV lounge, until my turn came. Then I checked in, and to my room. I needed to do laundry, but this place did not have any laundry machines. So I took the clothes that needed to be washed, and went to a laundromat, a few blocks away.

    Once there, I washed and dried my clothes there. I was not happy that this was pissing away valuable vacation time, but could not put it off any longer. Walked around area for a bit, and got some ice cream. Then waited at the laundromat, until it was all done. I returned to the hostel, to drop my things off there, and organize them.

    Afterwards, I was back out, heading to the Metro station. I would see some characters along the way, like Spider-Man, Jack Sparrow and Elsa. You never know who you will see when in Hollywood. I got to the station, and waited until the next subway came. Then rode it, as I was heading for Koreatown.

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  • 10Sep 2016

    31 A Hearty Meal in K-Town 09/10/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Koreatown, a place that I have visited briefly in my previous trips to LA. But I figure, spend a little more time in it. As I arrived there by subway, I came out, and walked and rode the bus one way. But it turned out to be the wrong way. So I got on the bus that went the opposite direction, taking me towards the Koreatown Plaza.

    Koreatown (or K-Town) is the largest Korean community outside of Korea. I have seen Korean communities in other cities, but not as big as this one. And this was where my parents used to live, the first place they moved to when arriving in the US, coming from Korea.

    I went inside K-Town Plaza, and this looked like a Korean version of a shopping mall. And did feel like the ones in Asia. I went to the International Food Court, which I saw about in a YouTube video. So I decided to check it out.

    The food options looked like different Asian fare, mainly run by Koreans. I just went to a place called Tonkatsu House, and got a rice omelet (also known as omurice). I have not eaten this for a long time, as I used to enjoy eating this whenever I went to Korean restaurants back in the day. I placed my order, and later got my food.

    Sitting at the table, there were some side dishes. The most unusual side was macaronu and cheese, which I never expect to see here. So American, as this seems to be a fusion of cultures in a way. There was also cole slaw. I was really hungry, but even I could not finish it all, as there was so much. But it was very enjoyable.

    After eating, I did look some more, and made a stop at the supermarket there. Then back out, and deciding to walk to the Metro station, as the bus would take too long to arrive. I would get there, passing by the Wiltern Theatre. Then hopped on the subway, and go to Union Station.

    Once there, I had to buy a round-trip ticket to Anaheim from Amtrak. Then went to the platform, and got on the Amtrak train. This would be the first time that I ever rode an Amtrak train, as I find them very overpriced. They do seem to have a few extra amenities, like an outlet for each seat row, to charge or use your electronic devices. The train took off, leaving LA, and heading to Anaheim.

    It would make a stop at Fullerton, making me think that, maybe I should have stayed here instead, since it is a lot closer to the places that I planned to visit. I guess that I wanted to stay at the very hostel that I enjoyed from 2012.

    But I had to move on, as the train arrived into Anaheim.

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  • 10Sep 2016

    32 Angels in the Outfield 09/10/2016 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Anaheim, as I knew only knew about it, mainly from its 2 sports teams, as well as the home of Disneyland. But more for its sports teams, otherwise I would have not known about it at all. This visit would be for the baseball team.

    From the train station, I made a fast walk to the ballpark, as game time was getting really close. And I wanted to make sure that I caught the home team taking the field, which has become a tradition for me to see and photograph, since Colorado in 2009. I arrived at the back gate, and had to go through security. But then, the national anthem happened, and everything was stopped to stand for it. When it ended, I was able to get through it, and enter into Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

    Home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (that is bit of a mouthful to say), as the team have gone through some name changes over the years. I knew them as the California Angels, then Anaheim and its current name. In my mind, I still think of them as the Anaheim Angels, as they are not even located close to LA. Or sometimes refer to them as the Halos.

    I would wait first at the bottom level, then went up to the next level, to make sure that I catch the Angels taking the field. Luckily, I was able to catch that. So the tradition stays alive, though that was cutting it close. Then I went up to the top level, to my seat. And looked around for a bit. Both inside and outside of the stadium.

    Angel Stadium has gone through a bunch of name changes over the years, just like the team itself. Opened in 1966, after the Angels shared Dodger Stadium with another team for a few seasons. It is currently the 4th oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. And once was the home of the Rams in football, from 1980 to 1994.

    I did change seats, halfway through the game, when noticing a row of empty seats. I sat along the 3rd base side, but moved to the home plate area. And catch a colorful sky, as the sun was setting.

    The Angels took on the Texas Rangers, as I did notice some Rangers fans at the game. The Rangers were leading the AL West, while the Angels (or Halos) were pretty much out of the playoff picture. This would be another game with a lot of scoring. And very quickly, as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. The Angels scored 1 run in the 3rd, and both scored in the 4th, as the Rangers led 4-2. That score would remain until the 7th inning, when the Angels got 3 to take a 5-4. But that lead did not last long, as the Rangers scored 4 unanswered runs for the rest of the game. And the Rangers would beat the Angels, 8-5.

    After the game, I would see the postgame fireworks, which is always nice to see. Then walked around, seeing some murals along the way. A little history on the Angels and the past players, including ones that have made it to the Angels Hall of Fame. Including one for Jim Fregosi, who I remember from managing the Phillies to the World Series in 1993. I remember when the Angels would win all those division titles in the 2000's, but not get very far in the playoffs. They did win 1 World Series in 2002, but strangely enough, as a Wild Card team.

    Looked up on my phone, if any other things to see. But unfortunately, the stadium was about to close, and I had to leave. How disappointing, reminding me of Nationals Park, with this thing of pushing people out so quickly. I wanted to look around some more. A reminder to always come to the ballpark very early, for this very reason.

    Still, I ended up liking this stadium, as I found this experience better than that of Dodger Stadium. The only problem is the location, and the transportation to get there if trying to get there without a car. If I had to choose between the 2 stadiums in the LA area, I would choose Angel Stadium.

    So I would exit the ballpark, and did walk around it for a bit. I did see a statue, but not sure who, as I could not get a good look from the outside. Then I went to the train platform, having to wait a while until the next Amtrak train came. When it did, I got on it, and rode back to LA.

    Once arrived there, I went to the Metro, and just missed the subway, as I saw it leave. So more waiting, for the next one. When I did get on it, I rode it back to Hollywood. Then went back to the hostel.

    Arriving back at the room really late, I would have more issues with this hostel. Cramped room, with an AC that is not really working. With people leaving their things on the floor, it was hard to navigate around them. For now, time to get some sleep.

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  • 11Sep 2016

    33 Going to Zoo and Observatory 09/11/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Getting up in the morning, I would end up going to a LA Fitness across the street, as I did not feel like waiting for my turn to use the bathroom. The hostel did not have any bathrooms down the hall. Good thing that I brought my LA Fitness membership card. And good thing, as the LA Fitness does look a lot more nicer.

    After washing up there, I went back to the hostel, to pack up and eat breakfast. Then checked out, as I could not wait to get out of there. I walked to the USA Hostels Hollywood, the same one that I stayed back in 2012. I went in, to check in. Then left my backpack there in storage, as I would head back out. I walked to the Metro, which seems so far from the hostel.

    I rode the subway to the Civic Center / Grand Park stop, which was downtown. Then waited for the bus, to take me to the zoo. It would be a long wait, as buses come every hour. When it did come, I rode it, taking me to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Used my Summer Membership to get the discount, then entered the zoo.

    Rather than give a detailed walkthrough, I will just try to give a general summary of my visit...

    There were some side attractions and displays, but I had to skip them, to see the animals. I would see some animals along the way, until I got to, what I thought, was the main loop. I walked through an aviary, then saw the Asian elephants.

    Also, there were statues of elephants, which were part of the Elephant Parade at the Los Angeles Zoo exhibition. These represented the Asian countries that has elephants. There were some on one side of the elephant yard, and the rest on the other side of the yard.

    I did walk through the Rainforest of the Americas, which has animals from that region. The highlight was seeing the giant river otters going down a water slide, which was funny to see. Seemed like they were having fun.

    Seeing this zoo, would prove to be tricky, with all those roundhouses of enclosures. Not sure of the exact term, but I saw what others referred to them as, on another site. There were a bunch of them, and they do make it hard to photograph them.

    I would generally walk in a counter-clockwise direction, trying to see as much as I can. Though, the layout of the zoo is very tricky to follow, with the way it is set up. It is really huge, with a lot of twists and turns, that makes it hard to keep track of what you have seen so far. And I do try to see everything within one visit, if I can.

    It was very hot, but luckily, majority of the zoo is under the shade, making it more bearable. Though, I was annoyed that there was no place to sit inside, to eat and relax. I tried looking for such a place, but no luck. Instead, just tables with umbrellas, which don't help me at all.

    And I am sure that I have seen some animals for the first time ever, but never know for sure, as I am no animal expert. The only one for sure, was something called a markhor. Not to mention, a bunch of reptiles and amphibians in the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, Reptiles).

    Towards the end, I started to feel tired. I am sure that I missed some parts, but just ran out of time and energy. So what did I really think of this zoo? More about that, along with more zoo photos, in the zoo blog.

    I left the zoo, and took the bus back to downtown. Then the subway back to Hollywood, and to the hostel. I went to the room, and rested for a bit. And meet some of the roommates from other countries.

    Shortly after, I went back out, to go to the Griffith Observatory. Took the Metro to Vermont / Sunset stop, then the DASH Observatory Shuttle to the observatory. I hoped to get there while there was still daylight.

    But by the time I reached the observatory, the sun had already started to set. So I did not really get any good photos in the daytime, and not get a chance to look through the solar telescope. I looked around the front lawn, and looked through the telescope there. This one was pointed at the planetary nebula.

    I went to the terrace, and looked out to the city at night. I did not bother with the Zeiss Telescope, since I have already seen that, and the line was really long. This telescope was pointed at Saturn.

    Then went inside, to look around the museum part, as there was still more to see. There are displays to see, and I did have fun, weighing myself on other planets. And that included Pluto, as this place still considers it a planet. A lot to see, and I did really like this place.

    After seeing the museum, I did consider getting something at the cafe. But it was too overpriced, and nothing appealed to me. So I just went to the bus stop, and left the observatory, around 9:30pm. That was 30 minutes before closing. I overheard someone say that at closing time, the bus would normally be full and crazy.

    I rode to the Metro station, which then, I rode it, to get back to Hollywood. I would get dinner at a Popeye's, and eat the meal at the hostel kitchen. After eating, I would go back to the room for a little bit.

    A short time after, I went back out, as I thought about visiting one of those pricey museums, which are opened until midnight. I went to one of them, the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, up to the entrance. But decided not to visit. I did not have enough time, to full enjoy this place. So I went back to the hostel. It was getting late, and I went to sleep.

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  • 12Sep 2016

    34 Making the Best of a Setback 09/12/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Getting up, I went down to the kitchen, to eat the pancake breakfast. Never easy for me to do, but still enjoyable. Then back to the room, to get ready and pack up. I did get to meet some of the roommates. Then to the front desk, to check out and put my backpack in storage. This was my last day on the West Coast.

    I used the computer, looking into renting a car, but it was too pricey to me. So I just bought Amtrak tickets instead, to Anaheim, as my plan was to go to Disney California Adventure. I walked to the Metro station, which always seem so far away. Once there, I had to wait for the next one. The times on Google Maps is not accurate at all. When the subway came, I rode it to Union Station.

    I was cutting it very close, as I kept looking at my watch. By the time I arrived at Union Station, I ran to the platform. But I was too late, as I missed the train. Not surprising, when being honest about it. So I had to wait for the next one, which was not for another 2 hours.

    So I had to make best of the time that I have to kill. I picked up some info, and looked into walking around downtown. But just stuck to the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a place that I visited back in 2012. I did not want to stray too far from Union Station, and find myself hurrying like crazy.

    I would see the plaza again, and go down Olvera Street. Mainly as I learned more from this visit, that Olvera Street is a small part of the Historical Monument (which covers a much wider area). This is a historical site and open-air museum. Dating back from 1781, when the first settlement took place on Olvera Street. It would eventually grow into the city of Los Angeles.

    After walking down Olvera Street, I would visit a chapel in the church across the street. And saw some buildings that I remember seeing before. And walked around one block, and saw that there are other museums on the grounds. But they were closed on Mondays. Besides, I would not have time for them anyway. And I did walk around the Old Plaza for a bit. I am sure there is more to see, but I had to get back to Union Station.

    I walked to the platform, and boarded the Amtrak train early. I did not want to miss the train again, as I already lost some valuable time. The train left Union Station, as I was finally headed to Anaheim.

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  • 12Sep 2016

    35 Disney California Adventure 09/12/2016 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Anaheim, I walked through its nice-looking train station. Turns out, this was that same building that I saw from Angel Stadium the other night. I should have known about this, which would have made some things easier for me. Oh boy, just another way to make me feel worse.

    I went to one of the bus stops, and took the bus to Disneyland. I got to meet an elderly couple during the ride, who were going to the same place. Turns out, they are Kings fan, and how I mentioned how the Flyers helped the Kings win those 2 Stanley Cups. And they sort of agreed. Also, I looked around, to see if there were nearby shopping centers, for free parking. There may be one, but I don't know for sure.

    Arrived at Disneyland, as I had to go through security. And hear one of the guards ask the guy in front of me, about a poison apple, which I thought, was funny. A Disney joke! And hearing the Disney music in the background, after I went through security, did make me feel better. Then I would go into Disney California Adventure.

    Opened in 2001, this is the 2nd theme park of the Disneyland Resort. As space is really tight in the Anaheim area, Disney does not have the luxury to expand here, as they would in Florida. As this is my first time going to this park, not sure what to expect.

    As I entered, it did remind me somewhat of Hollywood Studios in Florida. And would catch the very end of some street show, with Mickey Mouse. Then he and the performers got on a trolley, and rode away. I would go one way, and get a Fastpass for the Tower of Terror ride. Fastpass is a specialized ticket, that allows you to come back between the times on the ticket, and go into a line, that has first priority. Only a few would have them. My ticket would have me come back in over 4 hours (I think). So I did some of the nearby attractions.

    After going on a couple rides, I would go see the stage show, Frozen - Live at the Hyperion. It is the staged version of the 2013 film I did not have a good view of the stage, as I was far up and back. But good enough, and lucky that I got in, as it does fill up.

    After the stage show, I rode the Tower of Terror. Then went through "a bug's land", which is full of kiddie rides. I did go on one of them earlier, but did not bother with anymore there. So far, I have been underwhelmed with California Adventure so far. That was until I got to Cars Land. Then I was blown away!

    This area was an exact replica of Radiator Springs, the town from the "Cars" films. A great attention to detail, looking like one of the towns along Route 66, and just like in the movie. Have to say, this did give me the urge to want to go on another road trip.

    I did get on some of the rides, including the Radiator Springs Racers. It got in the single rider line, which was faster for me. Plus there is DJ's Dance 'n' Drive, which was a nice little diversion. And worth a look.

    After seeing Cars Land, I quickly reserved a spot, to see the Pixar Play Parade. It was still early, but just in case, I better stay at my spot. The parade would start, and I got to see the whole show. This is a series of floats featuring Pixar characters. I really enjoyed this parade.

    After the parade, I walked around Paradise Pier, going on a few more rides. This is the area with the Mickey Mouse ferris wheel. But unfortunately, time was running out. So I started towards the exit. And decided to make a stop at the Disney Animation building. Oh boy, I wished that I had more time, as the lobby area was really lively.

    I would come for a meet-and-greet with Anna and Elsa, from "Frozen". First time, meeting characters that do talk. And I will admit, I was kind of nervous, being a 40-year old male. But it was all fun, and I'm glad that I did it. Afterwards, I would have to leave the park.

    I caught the bus back to the train station, as I came really early. Better safe than sorry, I guess. Then the train came, which I rode back to LA. And the Metro to Hollywood, where I would make a mistake that would defeat the purpose of leaving California Adventure early. Very big mistake!

    I went to the LA Fitness, to take a much-needed shower. But that cost time, and the long walk to the hostel. I had to go there, to get my backpack. Then walk to the Metro station, as I hoped the connection times would work out this time. I let out a prayer, needing a miracle badly, as I was sweating again!

    And that prayer would be answered, as I saw 2 taxi cabs waiting there. I got into one of them. As much as I hated taking taxis, it was the only way. The driver would actually be a white guy, who is a native of LA. And he did share some interesting stories, mainly of how LA was like, in terms of transportation. And how it has changed over the years. He would take regular streets, to get to the airport, and not get on the freeway at all. Unusual, being in LA.

    He got to LAX early enough. I had to pay $50, but that was the price for my mistake. I went inside, went through security, and to the gate. Luckily, I did already print out my boarding passes in the morning.

    One of the terminals was under construction. I got to the gate, where I would board a flight that took off after midnight. Much to my surprise, it was completely full. I got on the plane, and did try to sleep. It took off, leaving Los Angeles, as I was heading back home.

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  • 13Sep 2016

    36 Returning Home to Uncertainty 09/13/2016

     

    Description

    Tried to sleep as much as I could on the plane, but hardly got any, even though I had the window seat. Arriving into Houston, I was like a zombie when coming out of the plane, and going to the next gate. I had more than enough time to connect, as it was within the same terminal.

    I had enough time to connect, as it was past sunrise in Houston. Waited until boarding time. Considered getting something to eat, but I did not feel like that I had enough time. Boarding time came, and I got on the United flight. It took off, taking me back to Philadelphia.

    I would leave the airport, and stopped by former workplace at Temple University. I had to leave my job by end of June, and have not worked since. Then took the train back home. My trip to the West Coast was over.

    This has been some trip, with a lot of last minute planning. But I got to visit some zoos and stadiums, plus spend a night in the home of a TBer. But now, I face an uncertain future, as I have no idea what will happen next. Especially when it comes to travel.

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  • 14Oct 2016

    37 Possible Start of Another Quest 10/14/2016 USA —

    Harrisburg, USA

    Description

    With nothing to do, I decided to take a day trip to Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania. I have been meaning to start a quest to visit all the state capitol buildings. But felt like I could not start it, unless I started with the one in my home state first.

    Leaving my home, I drove out, making a stop near Hershey. Then drove into Harrisburg. This must have been my 4th time to this city, as I have visited before. But not since 1999, and those other times have been for conferences, or field trip. And to be honest, I never thought much of this city, thinking it had nothing to offer. Well, I decided to give this city another chance.

    As I arrived into Harrisburg, I drove around, hoping to find free parking. But decided to just park very close to the building, and just pay for the meter. Then walked up the steps, to the entrance, and entered.

    I asked about the gift shop, as I hoped to get the passport book for the capitol buildings. Turned out, the gift shop closed early. And that this gift shop had stopped selling it. Either way, I would be disappointed, as I hoped to buy it in person, instead of mailing for it, and pay that extra chipping charge.

    I started touring the capitol building, looking at the architecture of the place. And visited both chambers of the state government. I had a little booklet, that gave the self-guided tour of the place.

    After seeing the original part of the capitol, I would go to the other side, where there was more to see. The East Wing, with its glass dome. It looked more like a lobby of an office building or shopping mall. This was where the gift shop was. Also, there was the Welcome Center.

    Exiting out of the building, I would look at the exterior. The fountain in front of it, had pink water flowing out of it, which was interesting to see. This was done for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    I would walk to see Solders' Grove, a park with its 2 pillars, honors the men and women from Pennsylvania, who served in the military. Then backtracked, going back inside the capitol building, and out to the west side.

    I would run into other visitors, and would ask them to take a photo for me. But one of them would stumble, and drop my camera. I worried for him more, as it did look like he may have twisted something. But he was fine, and took my photo. Then I walked around the capitol complex, looking at the other buildings.

    I would walk along State Street, all the way to the Susquehanna River. Seeing the bridges, one of them was a pedestrian bridge that leads to an island. On that island, is FNB Field, the home of the Harrisburg Senators baseball team, the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. I think that would be enough reason to return to Harrisburg in the future. Not sure if that was the stadium that I actually saw.

    Going back on State Street, I would look at all the church buildings, and read about them on the description boards. Then to my car. I would leave Harrisburg, and make a quick stop in Hershey, to buy some fresh chocolate. Then head back home.

    I will admit, I did not give this place enough credit. Still, I won't go as far as to say, that it's underrated. For any visitor to PA, there are other places that I would place higher than Harrisburg. And will this be the start of another quest? Just have to wait and see.

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  • 24Oct 2016

    38 Setbacks of This Side Trip 10/24/2016 USA —

    Trenton, USA

    Description

    I decided to make a visit to Trenton, the capital of the state of New Jersey. I never really got to see the city itself, as I always passed through it, when taking the train to New York. But with my quest to see all the state capitol buildings, I decided to make this side trip to Trenton.

    Originally, I was going to visit a zoo and the Jersey Shore. But changed my mind, and stick to somewhere much closer, as I started later in the day. Leaving the Philly area, I arrived into Trenton, as the highways can be twisting and confusing. After exiting, I would park right at the William Trent House Museum. As you can probably tell by the name, who this city was named after. But I had no time to see it.

    I walked around the downtown area, passing by some police activity. It seems very deserted, as I was looking for the New Jersey State House. After going back and forth, I was able to find it. But I was too late, as this place can be seen only on a guided tour. And the last one had already passed, so no visit this time. So that was one setback.

    So I would walk back, passing by some ruins along the way. This was the site of the Front Street Paper Mill, which operated from 1827 to 1876. There were walls and some type of drain or waterway that went under the mill. As you can probably tell by the name, it manufactured paper, as Trenton was a major center for this type of industry.

    After seeing the ruins, I came to the Old Barracks Museum. I would pay for the guided tour, which was the only way to see this place. And I would be the only one on the tour. I was shown the different rooms along the way, though I probably won't remember which one is which.

    After the tour, I learned that there is a museum part, on the Battle of Trenton. But closing time was approaching, so no time to see it. So another setback. But one of the staffs gave me a voucher, allowing me to return at no extra charge to see the museum part. I will take them on their offer one of these days.

    After the tour, I started walking back to the car, passing by the Patriots Theater. And then drove back home.

    Well, I can't really say that this was a disappointing visit, as I did get a late start to visit this city. But it is not far by car, relatively speaking. So I should be able to return to this city in the near future.

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  • 08Nov 2016

    39 Time to Check This Out 11/08/2016 USA —

    Columbia, USA

    Description

    Arriving into the town of Columbia, I headed to the National Watch and Clock Museum. I have been to this place a few times before, but not for over a decade. So I decided to make another visit. This town looked like an old one, with a main street and a residential area.

    I went inside the museum, paid admission, and looked around. As the name would indicate, this museum is full of old clocks and watches. But it is more than just a display of the different types of clocks. More about this place itself, along with a lot more photos of the different types, in the review here.

    I will mention about some of the temporary exhibitions, where photography was not allowed at all. But I did not always obeyed this rule, as there was no one else around.

    There was one that was about timekeeping in relation to religion, and how they did it. And another having some old watches in relation to pop culture and even Presidential elections.

    As it turned out, I was the only visitor to come to this place during the entire day. It may be due to being the off-season, or that it is Election Day. Whatever the case, it was kind of scary being the only person in the museum, with a bunch of old clocks. And hearing the ticking, which at some parts, is the only sound that I would hear. It was really something.

    After seeing the museum, I would look around the gift shop for a bit. Then left, as the place was about to close. Then I went to a nearby Burger King to eat dinner. And watch the TV screen there, watching the election count unfold.

    As I left, I did talk to a guy, and we were in agreement that this election had no good candidates. But I did not ask who he voted for, knowing how it could erupt into an ugly argument. Afterwards, I started my way towards Hershey, as I wanted to get some really fresh chocolate.

    But after driving for 10 minutes, I decided to turn around, as it was a long drive from the town of Columbia. I did not want to get back home too late, so I went back home instead. I made it back, not too late.

    Despite the election, it had been a good day overall, getting to see a few more sites in my home state. And reminds me that there are interesting places to visit near where I live.

    I would find out the results of this election much later, as it seemed to take forever. I will leave it at that.

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  • 06Dec 2016

    40 Presidents, Christmas and More 12/06/2016 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    I decided to take a day trip to New York, as I planned to visit some sites in relation to US Presidents. Plus see Christmas in the Big Apple.

    It started with me hurrying to get from one place to another, barely making it. First, it was catching the train into the city. Then a Megabus, taking me to New York. I was lucky to make it to both, otherwise it would have been a long wait for the next one.

    I arrived into New York, and had a list of places that I hoped to visit this day. Being close to the dropoff site of Megabus, I headed to the closest one, which was within walking distance. I did try to coordinate the times to try to visit all of the listed sites. But I had to concede that I won't see them all. So no need to rush, and stressing me out.

    The first place was the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. Wow, a long name. As the name indicated, it was the birth home of the 26th President. I got there, and went inside. I looked around the museum part for a bit, until it was time for the guided tour. Then was shown around the home, and learned that Roosevelt was also nicknamed "TD", in addition to TR and Teddy. It was made a lot more interesting, because of the guide giving the tour. Very knowledgeable and really seemed to be engaged into it, not only about the family that lived there, but also the history of the house itself. After the house tour, I went to see the rest of the museum, which has a collection of photos, that give a quick overview on the life of Theodore Roosevelt.

    After seeing the TR Birthplace, and getting the National Park Service stamp, I would head to the subway. Then head north (or go uptown) in Manhattan, all the way to Harlem. Stopped by a supermarket to get a drink, and considered getting something to eat, but I did not. I walked to the next place, going through Hamilton Heights, to the Hamilton Grange National Memorial.

    This was the home of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father. Served under George Washington, first during the American Revolution, and later as the very first Secretary of the Treasury under Washington. He built this home, but only lived in it for 2 years, due to being killed by Aaron Burr in a duel. And the home has been moved a couple times. Yes, it was actually lifted and moved to a different spot. I know about the musical based on Hamilton, but I did not see it.

    I went inside, first seeing the museum part. Then watched a film. And did the guided tour around the home. The house would have an interesting history of its own, having to be moved twice. Yes, actually moving the entire building from one spot to another. The first time was around 1895, and the second time was in 2008, to its current location in St. Nicholas Park. And re-opened in 2011 after renovations, it can be seen only on a guided tour.

    I did meet one of the rangers, who commutes all the way from Philly. That cannot be fun at all, to go such a long way each day. I did get the stamp, and headed out. Stopped by to see St. Luke's Episcopal Church, where the Grange used to be. That was really shown, with the statue of Hamilton still being there.

    I considered walking all the way to next place, but turned around and hopped on the subway, to save some time. I arrived at the Columbia University / Barnard College. Then walked all the way, to see Tom's Restaurant, whose exterior was always shown on the TV show, "Seinfeld". The inside is completely different. I have been there a few times, but did not go inside this time.

    I turned around, and walked through the college campus. Then came upon The Riverside Church, which I remember visiting briefly back in the 90's. But since I had to wait until the next place on my list had to open, I decided to kill some time by seeing this church. It opened in 1930, and financed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. And it is currently an interdenominational church, as it welcomes Christians from different denominations or sects.

    After seeing the church, I went to that next place, which was the General Grant National Memorial. Also known as Grant's Tomb, it is the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia. As it was not open yet, I went to the visitor center, which was across the street. And down some steps.

    At the visitor center, I would look at the museum area, until the tomb opened up again. I went back to the tomb, and looked around. Then back to the visitor center, to see the rest of the museum and watch a film.

    Ulysses S. Grant was a Civil War general who helped the Union win the war, and became an American hero. He would later become the 18th President, serving 2 terms from 1869 to 1877. His Presidency was a mixed bag, but he was immensely popular during his day. So popular, that a huge mausoleum was built in his honor, for his burial site.

    After all that, I did get to talk to the ranger there, mainly about the Presidents, and how it compares to today. After a while, I would leave, and to the subway. I rode it to Columbus Circle, which is at the southern boundary of Central Park. I entered into Central Park, where there was the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. A Christmas market, I did not linger long, as I was short on time, and wanted to see as much of the Christmas sights as possible.

    I considered a short visit to the ice rink in Central Park, but it was out of the way. So I went to 5th Avenue, and started to walk down on it, seeing some nice Christmas light displays along the way. Then came to Bergdorf Goodman, a clothing department store. I have read about their window displays at Christmas time. And each year has a different theme to it. This year, the theme was "Destination Extraordinary", about different exotic locations. So green, and nice to look at.

    Afterwards, I would see Trump Tower, belonging to the next US President. Then to Rockefeller Center area, where I saw some type of Christmas light show happening on the building of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store. Set in the tune of Christmas music. Really nice to see.

    I continued into Rockefeller Center, seeing some other Christmas displays, until I got to the famous Christmas tree. It is really nice to see. Plus the ice rink, which is there every winter. And unbelievably crowded, as it was tough to get around. But I managed, and thought it was all worth it, as these Christmas sights were nice to see.

    Unfortunately, I had to cut this part short, as I had a scheduled bus to catch. I considered walking all the way, until I saw a subway stop. I decided to come to my senses, and just pay a little extra money, to get to the Megabus stop on time. And riding the subway, I remembered that there is a subway stop much closer to the Megabus pickup site. I arrived there early enough, and waited in line. It was cold, but more tolerable for me than my time at the stop during the summer.

    The bus came, and I got on. Nearly full, as it left New York, and took me back to Philly. I got off at the earlier stops, as I could not take it anymore in the bus. But had to walk a bit to get indoors, as it was so cold outside. And getting late. I got to a train station, and rode it back home.

    This was a nice day trip to the Big Apple. While I did not get to do as much as I wanted to, but it worked out for the better. As it turned out, there are more things to see around Christmas time, so maybe a return trip soon? We shall see.

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  • 29Dec 2016

    41 Return to a Rainy, Christmas Time 12/29/2016 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    I decided to take another day trip to New York, as there are more Christmas sites that I did not get to see, a few weeks ago. Seeing the weather forecast ahead of time, I came close to cancelling the trip, as I did not want to deal with rain. But I already bought a bus ticket coming back, and changing the ticket would cost more, so I decided to go anyway.

    Going to New York, I would take the train getting there. I would transfer through Trenton, to ride NJ Transit into New York. When buying the ticket, I can see how much the fare has increased by a lot. No longer the cheaper alternative to taking the bus. But I find this experience better than any of the bus companies.

    Arriving into Penn Station, the first thing was getting something to eat. So I went to a Pizza Hut to get a pizza. Then rode the subway to Lower Manhattan, to visit a few of the historical sites there. Getting out, I would have to walk through the rain. Not fun to do, as I came to Wall Street.

    Looked around, seeing the Christmas tree there. And went inside the Federal Hall National Memorial. This was the place where the very first inauguration took place in 1789, when George Washington became the very 1st President of the US. I did visit it back in the summer briefly, but did not have enough time then. This time, I took the time to look around, going to all the different rooms.

    The building has a history of its own. It started out as a City Hall building in the early 18th century. Then becoming Federal Hall, when New York was the capital of the nation. Then back to City Hall, after the capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, until 1812, when it was demolished. In its place, was a Custom House and Treasury building until 1920, when it would later become a museum.

    I would drop my camera, and that caused me to lose all of my photos. So I would have to re-visit everything again, to take all the photos. And would switch between my camera and cell phone, as the lens cover on my camera has broken off. Luckily, this place was small, as I was able to go through everything relatively quickly. After all this, I would go back into the rain.

    Getting wet in the process, I would stop by a shop briefly. Then to St. Paul's Chapel, which was located close to the World Trade Center area. Back in the summer, it was closed due to renovations. But opened now, so I went inside, to look around. It was a good place to dry out for a bit. I did have to wait for a bit, until I could see the 9/11 Chapel of Remembrance.

    Opened in 1766, this was the church that George Washington attended services, after became the 1st President of the US. And more recently, after the September 11 attacks in 2001, this was where relief workers would come to get some ministry, and even rest on the pews. Even though the Twin Towers collapsed, the church suffered no damage at all, which is a miracle.

    Going back out, looking at the One World Trade Center, going up into the clouds. Walked around the area for a bit, before heading to the next place. Along the way, I saw some moments in New York history, on the sidewalk. Only really noticed the sports one. Then I passed by City Hall, until coming to the African Burial Ground National Monument.

    This place looked like it was inside a building, which looked like an office building. I had to go through security, and looked around the visitor center. This place also has an outdoor memorial, but it was closed off during the winter months. So I would only view it from the distance, in the dark. Disappointing, and I will have to come back at another time. And will review it sometime after that.

    By then, it was starting to get dark, so time to focus on the Christmas part. I rode the subway to 59th Street, and walked to Bloomingdale's, to look at the Christmas display windows. The theme was "Lights Up A Young Mind", which seemed to be a series of bright lights and neon. Really nice to see.

    Unfortunately, I would have more camera problems, as my camera somehow had full memory. Even though I had already cleared it before this trip. But I will have to check on this when I get back home. Until then, I will just have to use my cell phone. And tried to minimize the use, to have enough power to take photos.

    Moving on, as I walked to the Bergdorf Goodman. There was a women's store and a men's store, across the street from each other. There were window displays on the men's store, but these were kind of bland. Not nearly as good as the women's. After seeing this, I walked down 5th Avenue.

    I would run into huge crowds, with part of the sidewalk being closed off, due to security at Trump Tower. So I had to go back and forth, through the crowds. I came to Rockefeller Center, and to Saks Fifth Avenue.

    Seeing the light show again, and came to the window displays, which I did not get to see at Saks Fifth Avenue. The theme of this one, was "Land of 1000 Delights", a candy-themed one. Most were just advertisements for their clothing. But there was one set of display windows, called "The Sweet Nutcracker", telling the story about the Nutcracker, with candy involved. There was a separate line to see them, but I find it better to stand just outside of the line, mainly to take photos of the display windows. And some of the displays would move, making it more tricky to photograph. So you may see a few duplicates in this entry.

    After all this, I walked to Rockefeller Center, to see the Christmas tree. And a block away, a couple of Christmas sculptures. Then walked to Bryant Park, where there was a holiday market, called Winter Village. There was also an ice-skating rink and a Christmas tree. I did not stay long, as I was running out of time. Moving on, I got to Herald Square, to the Macy's department store.

    I would see the window displays, the theme being "Believe". Very similar to the one in Philly, but these seemed to be a lot more. They were bigger, with more things in each display. So not exactly the same exact thing. Really nice to see. After seeing these windows, I went inside the Macy's. There were rotating snow globes, also part of the "Believe" theme. Really good attention to detail, from what I can see.

    I could not stay long, and had to get to the Megabus pickup spot with enough time. So I left, and walked to the Megabus pickup spot. Luckily, both were on the same street, 34th Street. I walked all the way, and would make a brief stop at a park, where there were some Christmas lights on trees. I tried to take photos with my phone, but somehow, my phone kept resetting. After a few times, I just gave up. My devices are breaking down, probably due to use and age. I may have to get a new phone and camera.

    Arrived at the pickup spot, and got on the bus. It would leave New York, and take me back to Philly. Being on the bus, I would feel a little motion sickness, reminding me how the train was better. I would arrive back early enough, so I was able to connect to a train, taking me back home.

    Even though it was a late and wet start, I am still glad to have gone. And get to see more things. I am sure that I will make a return visit sometime in 2017.

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