Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Etsy Roundup: For the Birds

I spent far too much time on sites like Etsy and Pinterest exploring all the awesome things people make and do.  It really blows my mind how talented some people are!  I've actually spent almost all day on the computer today exploring, and I wanted to share just a small peak of the awesome I came across.

I love birds.  This is probably common knowledge, since I had some living on my front door.  My living room is even decorated in birds!  Here's some of the cool bird themed things I've added to my "I almost can't live without" list:


From left to right: 1) Bird Bag by LBArtwork 2) Vinyl Bird Decal by Vinylfruit 3) Bird Necklace by The Dandellon Jewelry 4) Bird Journaling Cards by MeShoppa 5) Bird Mask by Tom Banwell 6) "Creative Birds" Art Print by The Fox and the Teacup 7) Yarn Bowl by DarriellesClayArt

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Road Trippin: St Louis

Once enjoying the sunshine of Oklahoma City, we hit the road for our last stop before home, St Louis, MO.  The weather was perfect for our drive, and we made the 8 hour trip in no time.  After grabbing a quick dinner, we crashed for the night, ready to enjoy the city the next day. 



First stop of course was the Gateway Arch.  Our hotel was right across the street from it, and we had a great view from there.  I bought tram tickets in advance so that we could avoid the line and get to the top without too much of a wait.  



The Tram was very interesting.  It's basically a lot like a barrel with little seats, and I don't recommend it if you're claustrophobic!  It's not a bad ride, only taking about 4 minutes to climb the 630 ft to the top, but I've very glad there were only two of us in the little pod!     


Unfortunately, we left the nice weather in Oklahoma.  Right after riding the tram back down from the top of the Arch, the downpour started with no signs of letting up.  We purchased some ponchos along with our souvenirs and made a mad dash back to our hotel which was (thankfully) very very close to the park.  We dried off, changed our soggy clothes, and munched on snacks while hoping the rain would let up.


Once it got down to a drizzle, we headed into the city to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis.  The mosaics on the inside are made from thousands of cut tile, and it is really amazing to see.  It's also free to visit, but be sure to check the mass schedule as to not interrupt services.


Once we left the Cathedral, I was really excited to find that the rain had stopped!  I had really wanted to go to the zoo, and even though it was cloudy and would very likely start raining again, we gave it a shot.


The St Louis Zoo is great because it's free to visit!  You just have to pay the $15 to park, which is great.  And, because of the rain, it was cool out and not incredibly crowded.  That was bad at the same time, because some of the animals weren't out for us to see, but it was still a great visit.

And now, we're on the road for home, this little adventure over.  I can't wait for the next one!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Road Trippin: Oklahoma City

Heading from New Orleans to Oklahoma was quite the trip, so we stopped to rest for the night in Dallas.  The trip to Dallas in itself was insane thanks to lots of road work and a very bad accident.  Most of the interstate in southern Louisiana is built up on a bridge because of all the water and swampland, and a truck flipped somewhere ahead of us on the road.  Since you're on a several mile long bridge, there wasn't really anywhere to go, so people were getting out of their cars and chatting with each other for the hour or so we were stranded there.  I know of at least two cars who ran out of gas, and another that got bumped by a semi.  It was really bad.


But finally, after forever, we made it to Oklahoma City.  And probably the most amazing Sleep Inn ever.  We actually stayed two nights in Oklahoma so that we could see everything.  There was actually a lot of neat things that we didn't get to do, but we hit a few major ones that I was really excited for.


The first thing of course is Rt 66.  Oklahoma contains the longest stretch of the mother road, and they have a whole museum dedicated to it.  The Rt 66 Museum was actually about an hour and a half outside of Oklahoma City, but it was well worth the trip to visit.  It had a bunch of interesting information about America's Highway, and had an original stretch of the road nearby.


Then there was the very random Museum of Osteology. It contained several skeletons of many many different kinds of animals, including a humpback whale.  


The museum is small, but it's also relatively inexpensive, about $6 to get in.  It was very interesting and it would be a great place for kids since anything not protected by glass is allowed to be touched.


To end our day, we visited the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, which was remarkable.  We spent several hours in the museum, and could have easily spent more.  I was only 6 years old when this bombing occurred, and I knew very little about it until I came here.  The museum is very worth visiting, but be sure to come back at dusk to visit the memorial as well.


There are 168 chairs dedicated to the 168 people who died in the bombing of the Murrah building on April 19, 1995.  The smaller chairs represent the 19 children who died in the attack, most of them in the daycare located on the second floor.  The chairs stand in the place the building once stood, with the only remaining wall surrounding them.  In front of the chairs, where 5th Street ran before the bombing, is a reflecting pool, and on either side of it are the "Bookends of Time."  One says 9:01, the other says 9:03.  The bombing occurred at 9:02.


This was a very beautiful memorial.  The people involved in designing it truly did an amazing job, and I think everyone should visit here and learn the impact of violence.  It was very moving, and something I will never forget.


Even though Oklahoma was one of my favorite states, the time came to leave, so we packed up the car to hit our last destination before heading home.  Stay tuned!

Road Trippin: New Orleans

After having fun with the gators and lower gas prices ($3.10 in some places!) in Alabama, we headed off for the 3 hour trek to New Orleans, LA.


I have always wanted to visit New Orleans, and my visit was very exciting!  I found this awesome little hotel on TripAdvisor that's right off Bourbon St in the French Quarter.  It was very reasonably priced for a place in the heart of everything and I was really impressed by the photos online.  


The Hotel Le Marais is a super cute boutique hotel with fun modern decor.  I really loved the mix of old and new with this place.  The outside was typical French Quarter and kind of plain.  You'd miss it if you weren't looking for it.  But inside is a complete contrast that was really well done.


Our room would basically be decorated similarly as my dream New York apartment.  I love the windows and the shutters, and there was black tile in the bathroom shower that I loved too.  


Upon check in you receive a complementary drink from the bar, which is in this area.  It's a quiet area to chat while enjoying your drinks (Mmm Green Apple Martini) comfortably from these awesome armchairs.  Again, this could be my apartment.


You could also enjoy your drinks in this area outside.  The patio furniture is awesome...I love those little round chairs with the umbrellas.  And there's a pool.  It's very small, but still enough to enjoy after a long day of wandering New Orleans.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to enjoy the outside for too long.  The rain kept following us, but luckily held off until we were already on our way back to the hotel for the night.


So I still got to see Bourbon Street and all it's interesting things.


And shop a few cute little shops for goodies.  This window is from a store called Razzle Dazzle that I thought was a lot of fun.  There were so many colorful and eye catching things all over the store that I could have looked around forever.


Sadly though, I didn't have forever, and had to hit the road the next morning for another adventure on America's Highway...


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alabama: Alligator Alley

The next stop after Savannah was the several hour drive to New Orleans, LA.  Since we weren't willing to drive it straight through while falling asleep at the wheel, we made a pit stop in Foley Alabama.  It was a good plan too, because the drive that day was very very stormy and the weather seemed to have no plan on lightening up.  There is an Outlet Mall in Foley, which is why I originally picked it, but we didn't get time to really enjoy it.  We were exhausted by the time we got there...the interstate we took was one very long 390-some mile stretch of boring boring flatland...then with the time zone change and the storms, it just wasn't happening.

The weather was amazing for the trip out, though, and we decided to stop at a place I had found online during my original planning process: Alligator Alley.


I had found it online somewhere (maybe Trip Advisor?  I find lots of things there...) and thought it would be an at least interesting way of wasting the few hours we needed to waste in Alabama.  Check in time for New Orleans wasn't until 3 so I wanted to find something besides the Outlet Mall to do before we had to hit the road.


I definitely didn't expect to love it!  It was definitely worth the stop and the very very VERY reasonable $10 entrance fee. 


Alligator Alley houses several hundred gators that have been removed from areas where they were considered a nuisance.  The farm was built to give them a natural environment while educating people about them.


Like I said, the entrance fee is only $10, but I highly recommend spending the extra $4 on the cup of food.  Why?  Because it's fun to feed alligators, of course.


And speaking of feeding, they do 3 feeding shows a day that are very interesting.  They feed the gators wild pigs that hunters send to them for that purpose.  Apparently, southern Alabama has a wild pig problem, and hunters do a good service by keeping their numbers down, kind of like Deer here in West Virginia.  That thought kind of blew my mind...replacing deer with wild pigs...but yeah.  Back to Gators.


 I got to hold one. ^_^  This is a two year old baby gator and one of the workers carries him around for people to hold all day.  There's no extra charge to do it, and since he does it all day there's really no line.  He actually walked up to us and asked if we wanted to hold him.  Um, yes please!

Captain Crunch is a Big Gator
I was extremely happy with my trip here.  The park isn't huge but it's definitely worth visiting if your in the area, especially if you have children.  All the kids there loved it and it was lots of fun!


After that short rest, we're off to Louisiana!  To be continued!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Savannah: The Bed and Breakfast Inn

When I started planning this trip, I really wanted to find some unique hotels to stay at.  Since we would be up and moving very quickly from place to place, we could afford to stay in a few hotels that were really interesting since we would only be there for a night or two.

For Savannah, I really wanted to stay at a bed and breakfast.  It's something I've never done before but have always wanted to do, and I felt like Savannah would be the perfect place to find a good one.  After reading some reviews on TripAdvisor, I settled on The Bed and Breakfast Inn on Gordon St.


The inn is made up of several row houses built around the year 1850.  It's located in the Historic District on Gordon St right on Chatham Square and around the corner from Forsyth Park.  The area is great and it's easy to walk to everything in a short amount of time, which was really important to me since we were only going to be there for a day.



There were several really great options for Bed and Breakfasts in Savannah, but I chose this one for a few reasons besides the location and the good reviews.  
First, the size.  It's a large BnB with a staff of several people.  Having never stayed in one before, I wanted to make a slower transition and stay in a place that felt like a really small hotel, especially since I didn't quite know what to expect.
Second, the price.  When I originally planned this trip, there was a "Manager's Special" option that was only $129 per night.  That's almost the same as a chain hotel in the city!  The catch, though, is that you can't choose your room, and if you stay more than one night you could be moved around.  This would have been perfect for me, because I'd love to see all the rooms, but with my mom, I decided to settle on picking a room.  The price was still excellent, and I'm very pleased with the decision...  


Mainly because this was our room.  The is the Oglethorpe Room, located on the bottom level of one of the houses.  Which was awesome because we didn't have to lug anything up several flights of very skinny 19th century stairs.  The room was amazing and very very comfortable.


This is the dining room which was right above our room. It was around 8pm when we got there and we were just in time to find fresh chocolate chip cookies and milk on the bar.  They also had a basket full of menus from various restaurants throughout the city and a sign up sheet so they could make reservations for the Trolley to pick people up at the hotel.  Breakfast was super yummy (Blueberry Pancakes!) and there were even tables set up outside.


They had an amazing courtyard that connected all of their buildings together.  They were beautiful!  Some of the rooms even had their own entrance to the gardens, which would have been amazing,

Sunshine Taking a Snooze
They also have cats!  There are four friendly felines running around the courtyard, which is probably paradise for a cat.  Plenty of rails to climb on, things to chase, and people to meet.  I know I certainly enjoyed their company!

I highly recommend them if you're ever visiting Savannah.  I was pleasantly surprised by everything there and can't wait to visit again!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Road Trippin' - Part 1

I LOVE to travel.  It's a hobby of mine I don't get to enjoy very often for various reasons.  Most likely, the same things that keep other people from traveling...obligations with work, lack of money, obligations outside of work...those fun things.  

When 2012 started, several of my friends were making life changing decisions.  Several graduated from college, a few got engaged, a handful had kids...it was crazy how fast life seemed to be catching up with us.  My own graduation has always seemed so far away I just assumed the world was frozen, but that is definitely not the case.

So, I made a vow to myself to travel as much as possible this year, with as many people as possible.  I realize that as time goes by I'll have fewer friends able to up an tag along on a trip, and once I graduate and start looking at serious jobs I might not be able to either.  Thus bringing me to:

The Road Trip...Part 1

West Virginia is so Pretty, huh?
Yesterday my mother and I packed up the car and hit the road for a few days.


The plan had originally been a month long road trip to California, but I compromised with a southern road trip with my mom after those plans fell through.  It's really nice to be able to go places we've never been, though, even if it's not California.

It's Alright...but I'm still California Dreaming
 The first haul was a rough one.  We hit the road early Sunday morning to drive the 9.5 hour trip to Georgia. We made amazing time actually, even after napping at a rest area...


I've never been to Georgia.  I've been through it, but I've never stuck around to actually see it and enjoy it.  I had a teacher tell me once that I would fall in love with Savannah and that I should just move there immediately after High School.  After hearing that, of course I wanted to visit.  It's been close to the top of my list ever since.



So of course, it's going to be our first stop...to be continued!