The Maine Attraction

Ever since I took that trip with my mom to Punta Cana, I’ve been asking her to travel with me again.  Though I already have a great relationship with my parents, I especially value our time together as we all get older. To my surprise, she finally said yes! (Maybe because this was a domestic trip, for once? Haha.)

We flew into Portland on Thursday evening. She had never seen whales in real life and wanted to see them, so we opted for a cruise that next day. Of course, we had to get our first fresh lobster roll beforehand!

 

We got lucky and saw three fin whale, and a couple harbor seals! And, of course, the famous Portland Head Lighthouse.

 

Walking around Portland/Old Port: Portland Observatory, Eastern Promenade, East End Beach, Fish Point, Fort Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Bug Point, etc.

Our favorite spots to eat included: DiMillo’s on the water, Becky’s Diner, Portland Lobster Company, The Holy Donut, Gilbert’s Chowder House, and so many more.

The next day, we rented a car and drove to Acadia National Park.

Such a beautiful day! Highlights included: Eagle Lake, Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, among others.

We took a ferry to one of the many islands surrounding Portland the next day. We opted for Peaks Island and enjoyed blueberry soda while soaking up some rays. We didn’t know that wild blueberries grow naturally here- 44,000 acres, to be exact.

 

Coastal Maine is surely a sight for sore eyes, and there’s no other person I’d rather soak in that beauty with then my incredible mother. I know we’ll both cherish this time together in years to come.

 

Until next time,

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COLORado

Hi friends!

Another adventure for ya. The moment I spotted round trip tickets to Denver for $150, I was sold. Combine that with reuniting with a college friend, gorgeous mountain hikes, and an incredible concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater and the opportunity for a weekend getaway to Colorado was a no-brainer.

First up, my friend Lindsay and I went hiking in Roosevelt National Forest.

Lake Isabelle was quite a sight for sore eyes.

Here are some awesome spots around the city: delicious dinner at Tacos Tequila Whiskey, the Botanical Gardens, Capitol Building, Union Station, Linger (mortuary turned into a restaurant) and the sun setting near Highland/Lodo district.

On Saturday night, The Avett Brothers put on one hell of a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. We did the bus to show route, let loose, and had a night we’ll never forget. Good jams, good friends, good times.

As per usual, my short getaway was all kinds of perfect, though it wasn’t even scratching the surface of this amazing city and state.

To sum it all up, I absolutely loved it and I’m moving here.

 

                                                                                   Stay wild,

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Weekend Warriors

Last weekend I took a trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, with some friends for a little getaway. The weather finally broke and it was a beautiful day for hiking and being out on the water, which is just what we did.

After a couple miles of hiking in the morning, we cooled off by the lake.

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It was my first time here, and I loved every minute of it. Just a short two hours from Pittsburgh, there truly is something for everyone, whether you’re looking for adventure or just to relax in nature. We also did the Mountain Coaster, which was thrilling!

As the sun rose higher in the sky, we opted to go paddle boarding. I’d never been before and have terrible balance, so I was interested to see how I’d do. It was a blast, and honestly easier than I expected. We also jumped off the dock and went swimming.

On the way back to Pennsylvania, we stopped at Mountain State Brewery for some firewood flatbread pizzas and craft beer. With all these state parks right at our fingertips, there’s no excuse to not get out and enjoy them, especially if you don’t have the luxury of vacation days. I’ll definitely be back!

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Cincy

In the past, I have written a couple posts about the Sigma Tau Delta International English Convention. Read my first post here, and about the 2016 conference in Minneapolis and the 2017 conference in Louisville.

I just returned from the 2018 convention in Cincinnati. It was a whirlwind of a weekend! On the way there, I started off with a stop at one of my new favorites in Columbus: Winans. Chocolate and wine, you can’t go wrong…

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Once in Cincinnati, I spent most of the first day exploring. It was a cloudy day, but still beautiful nonetheless. Below are some of my favorite sights in the Queen City:

*Roebling Suspension Bridge, Smale Riverfront Park*

*Great American Ball Park, Findlay Market*

*Hathaway’s Diner- I could eat all my meals in this charming, old-school place.*

 

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10/10 recommend!

I gave my presentation on Saturday afternoon and connected instantly to the brilliant writers: DeAndra, Eric, and Korbin.

*Rhinegheist Brewery*

Speaking of murals, Cincy has plenty!

*At the Red & Black Conventions Award Gala with my two guys, where my poetry collection was awarded a prize.*

And the next night, I got to reunite with my best friend from high school, who was visiting town.

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Already can’t wait to see what next year’s convention has in store.

See you in 2019, St. Louis!

 

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La La Louisville

Some of you may recall my trip to Minneapolis last year for the Sigma Tau Delta Convention.

I was lucky enough to be accepted to present again this year at the 2017 Convention, held in Louisville, KY.

Although it was a short trip to the south, we covered a lot of ground. (If you haven’t realized by now, I like to do that.)

Without further ado, here’s less than 72 hours in Louisville!

We arrived on a Thursday, checked into our hotel and immediately headed out to find a place for dinner. Right near our hotel was 4th Street Live, an entertainment district with a lot of restaurant chains. It wasn’t overly crowded when we arrived, but then again, it was still early. There was the famous guitar outside the Hard Rock, the impressive Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, and neon lights outside every lounge/club.

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The next morning, I presented my poetry collection, “Leaving Season” at the Marriott.  I met another presenter from Pittsburgh and we gushed about some of our wonderful teachers and poets in the Pittsburgh poetry community.

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Reading from my poetry session.

After my session, I traded my heels for some comfortable shoes and we set out to explore what we could in the short time we had. We stopped into the Louisville Visitor Center for a map and some helpful hints. I tried on fancy Derby hats while JJ pretended to not know me. We were given some recommendations for restaurants and things to do, and decided to not waste any more time. We headed straight to the river, where we saw the Belle of Louisville (think the Gateway Clipper of Pittsburgh) and walked along the waterfront.

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Belle of Louisville.

Although it was cloudy, we pressed on. Since we only had the day, we decided not to go to the Louisville Slugger Museum (although we walked by the field) and also skipped the Muhammad Ali Center. By the time we reached the Waterfront Park, the sun peaked through. We stopped at a playground to sit & swing for a short break. We’d done a lot of walking!

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Feet in the clouds.

We decided to rent a bike to adventure across the Big Four Bridge to Indiana. It might have saved us some time, but trust me- it wasn’t that much easier. We both pedaled our hearts out to reach the top of the ramp to the bridge. Once we got to the top, we finally caught our breath. From there, it was a breeze pedaling across the bridge, not to mention an incredible amount of fun.

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Ominous clouds over the ramp & our sweet ride.

Having beat the rain, we found our way around a couple neighborhoods, like the East Market District. We ducked into an adorable coffee shop, Please and Thank You. I mean, if you put a sign like this out front, I don’t see how I’d be able to stay away!

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Not to mention that we discovered the bathroom had this framed inside:

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Pittsburgh & Louisville!

There were tons of cool shops, not to mention the street art everywhere!

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We saw Thomas Edison’s house, where he invented the light bulb, walked past the KFC Yum! Center, and ate at an awesome place called “Troll Pub Under the Bridge Pub,” which was exactly what it sounds like. So sure, we didn’t have fried chicken or go to the Derby, we both had colds and it could’ve been better weather, but we had a BLAST. We loved our time in Louisville!

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Crossing off our bucket list one trip at a time.

And that’s a wrap!

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From left: JJ & I at the convention, beautiful blossoms by the river, 4th Street Live, and trying on Derby hats!

 

OH. And one more thing- I was awarded two prizes for my collection! We were unable to be at the convention awards Saturday night since we drove back to Pittsburgh early for Andrew McMahon & The Wilderness, but I found out that I got first place (for the second year in a row!) & an honorable mention. I didn’t find out the good news until days later when it was announced on the website. I was beyond excited!
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So for those of you who have already been, what did we miss in Louisville? Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

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72 Hours in the Queen City

It seems that I have a thing for visiting cities and making the most of them even if it’s less than 72 hours, and Charlotte was no different.

I love North Carolina, but this was my first time in the Queen City. I was finally visiting and reuniting with my best friend Stephanie who moved there last year.

Here’s how it went down:

I arrived Friday night, planned to go to a food truck festival with live music, but it was chilly (AKA, about 50ish degrees) so we opted for drinks at Fahrenheit with spectacular city rooftop views and followed those with a mouthwatering-ly fresh dinner at Sea Level instead.

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Delish!

Surrounded by bright city lights, we left the restaurant and walked around town. I was in awe of the skyscrapers. We were in the midst of the most beautiful hotels, museums, theaters, and modern banks. (After all, it is the second largest banking center in the U.S..) Although I didn’t have time to check these out, Charlotte is also home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Mint Museum, among others.

Saturday morning, Steph and I set out to hike Crowders Mountain, a state park in Gaston County (roughly 30-40 minutes outside the city).  The two peaks, Crowders Mountain and The Pinnacle, offered a bit of a challenging hike, but we were rewarded with this view upon reaching the top.

Hawks soared peacefully through the sky, the sunshine warmed our already flushed faces, and the gentle breeze cooled the sweat on our skin. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Capturing it was impossible, so we put our phones away and focused on appreciating life in that moment.

Later that evening, we headed to the Spectrum Center for a Hornets game! Although I’ll always be a Knicks fan, I was pumped for my first Hornets game and to check out the Spectrum Center. We got a Cam Newton bobble-head the moment we walked through the door. The Hornets were playing the Washington Wizards and although it was an edge-of-your-seat game, the Hornets took home the win that night with a final score of 98-93!

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Girls Night Out!

The next morning, we walked around the gorgeous neighborhood of Cotswold. One of the things I instantly liked about Charlotte was that the city was spread out among all these smaller neighborhoods, and each neighborhood had its own unique charm. We then headed to brunch at ToastCafe. I can’t remember loving brunch any more than I did in that moment, sipping hot coffee in that wooden booth. I opted for the Raspberry Walnut flapjacks, and knew I made the right decision as soon as I sank my teeth into the warm dish. An interesting concept about the cafe is that “every server is your server,” so we didn’t see the same waiter/waitress twice! Everyone took care of us.

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The one instance where I regret not photographing my food.

All too soon, it was time for me to return to Pittsburgh. Although we crossed off some items on Steph’s restaurant bucket list and climbed a mountain, I realized in those short three days that Charlotte really has so much to offer (no matter who you are or what you’re into) and I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface! That just means another trip is in order…

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(Looking at you, Steph!)

Have you been to Charlotte? What was your favorite place? I’d love to hear!

Until next time,

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