Tag Archives: Travel

Adventures with Rachel, Pt. 1

I’ve titled this post as such because I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll have more adventures with my friend, Rachel, to share with you in the future. Rachel and I met at Taylor University when we were are major undergrads. We both just happen to be teaching in Prague at the same time, so we’ve rekindled our old friendship. I had almost forgotten how much fun I have with Rachel. Here we are!


Anyway, last Sunday, she took me to a restaurant up by the Strahov Monastery, which houses one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Below is a picture of the monastery, but click the link highlighted above to go to the website and do a virtual tour. It’s a beautiful place.


Below is the restaurant/beer garden we ate at, and it was great. It’s called Velka Klasterni. The food was delicious, the beer was perfect, and we had great conversation.


And you cannot beat the view of the city from up here:


To the left of the image is Prague Castle, which Rachel and I walked to and wandered around. Below is a close up of part of the castle compound. We did a lot of wandering and exploring. We ended our day with the amazing gelato at Creme de la Creme (future post – stay tuned) as we sat overlooking the river.


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Camera: Harpers Ferry

This past summer, my family did a tour of historic Virginia. That may sound incredibly boring, but we are history people. Also, my brother got to choose the vacation, and that’s what he chose. Touring battlefields. In the high heat of July. With no lunch breaks. Just healthy snacks. Yep.

In all seriousness, it was a great vacation. Dad planned everything perfectly for a tour that began in Harpers Ferry, continued through major Revolutionary and Civil War sites, and ended in Lexington. Harpers Ferry is a beautiful town, its historic preservation adding to its charm. I’ll warn you: parking is extremely limited, but the walk around town, into the shops and museums, and a meal at a riverfront restaurant is so worth it. This is also the town where abolitionist John Brown had his famous raid, which historians agree sparked the secession movement and civil war.

Located at the point where the Potomac River merges with the Shenandoah, Harpers Ferry has seen its share of extreme floods. The old Hardware shop near the river has a post (to the left of the pipe) marking all of Harpers Ferry’s worst floods:



This monument marks the site of John Brown’s original “fort”. Harpers Ferry is settled on the hill beyond.



Harpers Ferry’s bridges were destroyed in the Civil War. Their ruins remain:


See the old ad etched onto the face of the mountain above the bridge?



Where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet:



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Five Years Later…

So, in October (yes, I’m a bit behind on some things), my college class had our 5th year reunion. Instead of going to that, my roommate and two of the gals we lived with for four years rented a flat in Sandusky, Ohio, for a long weekend. Why Sandusky? It’s relatively in the middle of all the places we currently live. The loft apartment we rented was in this amazing old paper factory, right on Lake Erie.


Guys, this is the loft itself. Absolutely amazing.


Our view from our third floor balcony was of Cedar Point. We were there before Halloween, before the park closes for the winter months, so every night, everything was lit up and it looked so whimsical across the water.


Because we are born Midwestern girls and all enjoy the charm of small-town festivals, we chose to visit The Apple Festival in nearby Oak Harbor. There was a freakishly long, charming parade, freshly pressed cider, apples, apple dumplings, and all things apple-y. There was a flee market and an arts and crafts barn. The food alley had everything from homemade ice cream being churned in old wooden buckets to a jerk chicken truck (!) to kettle corn being hand-stirred in giant black cauldrons. Completely charming!


Sandusky has a Merry-Go-Round Museum, so being that we are odd and randomly spontaneous, we ended up there. Yes, we went on a ride.


We also went to Toft Dairy, because even though it was chilly, we are ice cream people, and Toft has tons of it. I highly recommend “Howly Toledo”. Plus, this is the oldest dairy in Ohio, and why not?


The two nights in which we did not cook together, we went to this incredible restaurant, which you can look for in my next post. Lastly, some shots of interesting places that distracted me; where some see ruin and dilapidation, I see history, stories, mystery, and beauty.


Anywhere can be vacation; it’s all about making it an adventure.



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Camera: Siloam Springs

My sister and brother-in-law now live in the charming town of Siloam Springs in Arkansas. They work at John Brown University in this lovely little community. For me, a new place equals tons of photography opportunities, and you’ll be seeing some of the results in the weeks to come.

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John Brown University

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My little sister, Maria, and I. I miss her so greatly, and this was a perfect, much-needed week.

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

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In Review

2011 was quite a busy years. Babies were born!!! Interestingly, all the babies born into my life this year were boys.


I played with friends.


Enjoyed our last family vacation as five in St. Joe, Michigan.



Spent some quality time in The District with my college roomie & bestie:



A couple of my favorite, dearest friends finally got married, and Kaye & Chad’s wedding was gorgeous:


Enjoyed my hometown, rediscovering our amazing zoo, having my artwork hung (and sold!) at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and becoming a devoted patron of such fabulous places as Firefly, Yum-Mees Bakery, the Acme Bar & Grill, Club Soda and Cocktails:



Displayed & SOLD at FWMoA:




Oh yeah, and my little sister got married, giving me another brother!!!  Here are Andrew & Maria, and my little brother, Zach, and I:


Lastly, I spent a few days in Manhattan, enjoying the Christmas sights and sounds of New York City with my aunts.  Here’s a teaser, but more on all that, later:

The year ahead is bringing a job promotion, a few exciting weddings, and some special graduations. I’m going into the new year with the hope that it is far better than this past one. Blessings to you all, and thanks for your continued faithfulness in following my sporadic posts! 🙂


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Camera: Airborne

I took a tiny, puddle-jumping deathtrap plane to Detroit, then a slightly larger, more stable-feeling plane to DC over Labor Day weekend to spend some quality time with my college roommate/bestie.  The flight out offered some spectacular views from the airplane window, which kept me from thinking about all the ways I could die in an airplane:

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Before you judge me, know this:

I had this plan that I was going to blog much more regularly.  As with so many other things in my life, the unexpected came up and life got so busy and all of a sudden, too much time has passed for my liking.  The biggest factor has been wedding fever; the disease has taken over the household and isn’t going anywhere.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’m loving it and enjoying all of the fine detail planning.  My favorite part, though, has been the time spent with my little sister, whom I still cannot believe is getting married.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I thought I’d put myself out there and expose more facets of my personality to you all.  Don’t judge too harshly. 🙂

I love cereal.  All kinds of cereal.  Not Raisin Bran, though; raisins and bran should never be in cereal.  I could eat cereal all the time.  And cake.  Oh my word, cake……

You all need to read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  I wasn’t even that far into it before I decided it was one of my favorite books.

I think about my college roomie at least five times a day.  She’s my bestie and I miss her all the time.

The cancellation of the whimsically delightful Pushing Daisies is still a sore spot with me, and I never tire of watching episodes on DVD.

Drivers who go flying around me only to turn in front of me drive me crazy.  So do impatiently angry drivers.  Are you in that big of a hurry?  Leave your house sooner!!!

Currently dominating my iPod:  The Civil Wars, Adele, the Angels & Demons soundtrack, The King’s Speech soundtrack, Sherlock Holmes soundtrack, Mumford & Sons, Ingrid Michaelson, and Coldplay (pretty much always on the dominant list).

I love going out and getting a cocktail.  I’m consistently a martini or red wine girl, but I have no interest in getting trashed.  I much prefer to nurse a drink over a great conversation with friends.  If you’re looking for a hard partyer, I am not your lady.

Speaking of which, I don’t have expensive taste.  I enjoy a great cup of coffee, a sunny day, running around in the rain, a good book, beautiful music, experiencing other cultures, art, films and history.  I don’t need expensive jewelry, fellas:  just give me some fresh flowers once in a while.

On that note:  I really want to be in a great relationship, and with my sister’s impending wedding, the little wish is becoming a nagging itch.  Although, if I had a choice, I think I might like to have a really small, simple wedding and a spectacular honeymoon.

I love local coffee houses and pubs/diners.  My favorite coffeehouse, Firefly, is an eclectic place with fabulous coffee and yummy food.  Local artists can sell their wares there, and you’ll find artists, theater folk, musicians, business people, and opinionated old men all relaxing for long periods of time.  As far as restaurants go, I’d much rather check out a little hole-in-the-wall place with amazing food and a great atmosphere than go to a well-known chain.

My biggest indulgence is a spa pedicure every great once-in-a-while.  My feet feel amazing afterward, and I love having painted toenails.  I can’t paint my fingernails because I’m way to rough on my hands; a manicure is just a waste of time & money for me.

The Liberty Mutual commercials in which people pay it forward by doing little things for strangers get me every time.

I adore babies.  I’m fascinated by their wonder at the world around them and they’re so cute and cuddly.

The Orthodox cross is tattooed on my right foot.  It represents both faith and family.

I’m easily over-stimulated.  I become anxious in big crowds or if I am in a place where I don’t have an easy exit.  I don’t get along with heights at all, though I love flying.  I’m very sensitive to textures as well, from food to clothing to wrinkles in my socks or bedding.  I’m quirky. 🙂

I love the beach.  Love it.  And, after living in Italy for a while, I am extremely anxious to experience the rest of Europe.

I don’t care what anyone says, I love Disney World.

If I had a million dollars, I’d pay off my school loans, help my brother & sister with theirs, and travel a lot more.

Whew, I’m exhausted.  That’s it for this post.  Oh, yeah, I can also be really flighty, as I get bored and distracted somewhat easily.



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Hotels With No Uncertainty

My brother is a guy with a variety of talents: he gets great grades (alliteration!) in school, he can play almost any sport well, he is musically gifted, and he’s generally a great person, earning him the male citizen of the year award from his peers and teachers at his high school.  He’s been in the All-State Honors Choir for the past three years, and this past weekend was his final performance.  It also happened to be my cousin Melissa’s first year in the Honors Choir, and none of us were surprised to see that they managed to stand next to one another…

Yes, it’s blurry: sue me.  I didn’t take it.  The choir sounded absolutely incredible this year, the spirit-filled, Scottish Loch Lomond being my favorite.  Zach really loved this year’s conductor, and he was adorable:

However, with all the fun the relatives had over the weekend, I was most struck by our hotel, apparently designed for stupid people:

And, yes, the bar of soap says “cleanse”.  There is no doubt for what everything is to be used. Holiday Inn Express:  May you never be confused in a hotel again.

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Maria’s Adventure in Paraguay (II)

Lighthouse headquarters in Upland received a call from the sponsors of Maria’s mission team, and Team Paraguay has finally arrived at their final destination of Arroyo Bandera!  The Iguazú Falls were beyond their imaginations, and I cannot wait to see my sister’s pictures.  They spent a day at the Puerto Barra Aché community, a village which has already interacted with TU, to orient the students on Aché culture.  In addition to learning so many things about these beautiful people, Maria & her friends played soccer with the kids and swam in the river.  Yes, Maria swam in a river in Paraguay.  Pretty cool.

The team has finally reached Arroyo Bandera after having to push their vans part of the way due to muddy roads, which sounds like a good time.  Today they are meeting the people of the Arroyo Bandera  Aché community and setting up for their construction work and ministry.  I cannot imagine what my sister is feeling and experiencing.

If you are one who prays, please pray for the continued safety and health of the team, that the Aché and Americans will be able to effectively communicate through language barriers, and that the hearts of both groups of people will be changed.

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Maria’s Adventure in Paraguay

Before moving into their “full-time” mission work, Team Paraguay is visiting one of the world’s natural wonders:  Iguazu Falls.  Larger than Niagara Falls, Iguazu is a massive semi-circle of 275 cascading falls!  This will be their one respite during their trip; a stunning reminder that in the big scheme of life, each one of us is incredibly small.  As a photographer and lover of nature (waterfalls being a particular favorite), I am quite jealous of my little sister and her team, but this is the experience of a lifetime, and I am happy she will get to experience this before beginning her work.

Just how gorgeous is this place?  See for yourself:

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