Category Archives: USA

Rock Climbing in Nelson Rocks, WV

A few years ago, my dad and I went rock climbing at this beautiful place in West Virginia.

It was called Nelson Rocks and it’s nestled in the West Virginia countryside, amongst beautiful mountains and green pastures and flowing creeks…. DSC00054

there were trails aplenty to hike….

leaves and blossoms to note….


and a large rockwall to climb.
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From Nelson Rock’s website: “Our Via Ferrata tethers allow for at least one connection at all times. Climbers are connected to steel cables while using the steel rungs and/or rock face to traverse, ascend, or descend the route.”DSC00080 DSC00082 DSC00089 DSC00086

There was a bridge connecting the two rock walls…DSC00095 DSC00096

At the end, we were given the option of doing an additional 100 ft climb (we had already done 200ft) to scale the Head Wall…


I made it to the top!

It was a beautiful trip.

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Honestly, one of the best adventure trips I’ve ever done in my life.DSC00135Here’s to another year full of exploring and adventures.


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Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, AZ

Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, AZ

view from the Phoenician Hotel

From the Phoenician hotel, Scottsdale, AZ

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4 wonderful days in Scottsdale, AZ

Pardon my long absences, friends. It seems that school caught up with me (again). Last week I had the chance to go to Scottsdale, AZ and let me tell you, it was a glorious 4 days. Here in the DC/Baltimore area it was starting to be a little chilly, rainy–everything you would expect a Mid Atlantic spring to be like. When I stepped off the plane I was struck by how dry the heat was. In fact, the pilot on our flight over told us how the weather in Phoenix/Scottsdale had cooled down to 92. From a temperature of 96 at midday.

Well. As my last post might have implied, I spent a lot of time by the pool. We stayed at the Phoenician Hotel, a luxurious resort nestled at the foot of the Camelback Mountain.


Let me tell you, this hotel was the works. I don’t usually write about my lodging so much, but this hotel deserved a mention. You like golf? There’s a huge (beautiful) golf course.  Tennis/gym/hiking up the mountain, quality bars and restaurants? Yup. It’s a 5-diamond resort, what else would you expect? 24 hour pool? You got it. You want poolside service? Of course, here’s your pina colada.


The view from the hotel was pretty spectacular too. My phone camera didn’t quite do it justice…


So many pools! Seven in total, I think. There was a hot tub and water slide too.
20130430_160837One night we were up in one of the suites for pre-dinner champagne. I caught this not-quite-sunset shot.


So who wants to jetset to Arizona now?

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Portland, OR – The International Rose Test Garden

“Of all flowers, methinks a rose is best.”

– William Shakespeare

Portland is home to the International Rose Test Garden, founded in 1917. It is the oldest, continuously operated, public rose test garden in the United States.

But Portland’s rose-y roots go back even further than 1917…way back to 1888 when one Georgiana Burton Pittock invited her friends/neighbors to display their roses in a tent set up in her garden. This inaugurated the annual rose show for the Portland Rose Society.

Years later, Jesse A. Currey, a former Rose Society president, convinced the city government to inaugurate a rose test garden in 1917. Back then, Portland had 20 miles of rose-bordered streets and was thus dubbed “City of Roses.” Having a rose test garden was an idea chance to enhance Portland’s image as the City of Roses.

At the onset, hybridists sent roses from around the world to Portland’s garden for testing and to keep the new hybrids safe from being destroyed by the bombing in Europe.

If you think about it, it’s really kind of amazing what Portland was able to do in 1917. The world was well into the first world war and there was no definite sign of peace to come.

I loved this place. There were roses of every color. Bright purples and lavenders.

Pale yellows that could almost pass for white.

Yellows that actually became whites as they bloomed.

Deep, sunny yellows.

Dark pinks bordering on orange blended with yellow.

The locals had seen it many times before. These people were just out enjoying the cool summer night, some with picnic baskets.

Wouldn’t that be a lovely place to spend an evening?

Do you think that a rose by any other name would still be a rose?

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Sights along the drive

In today’s world, there are so many modes of transportation. Planes allow people to cross oceans and continents in mere hours. Boats let people sail around the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes. Trains can transport people as well as goods in quick times. With all of these ways of getting around, why do people like me still do the old-fashioned road trip?

Because there are some things that can only be appreciated by driving. Because there’s something about feeling the wind in your hair while your windows are rolled down.

Take for instance, the Blue Star Memorial Highway in California. These highways are designated memorials that pay tribute to the American armed forces.

If we had flown across the country, we would have missed seeing this green lake, so green that the surrounding trees seemed brown and dark by comparison.

The green of the pine trees seems faded against the backdrop of a green lake.

Had we not driven, we would have missed this lone peak covered in snow.

Sometimes, the point of travel is not in the destination or the end point. It’s about the journey. The getting from one place to another. The sights, the smells, the process.

Above all, it’s about living in the moment. Appreciating the beauty of the world.

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The California State Capitol (and Governor’s Mansion)

After we left Lake Tahoe, we decided to pay Sacramento a visit. It was only a short drive from Tahoe to California’s capital, so we were in luck and arrived in time to go inside the fabulous California State Capitol. Look at it carefully. Doesn’t it remind you of the US Capitol in Washington, DC? It should, as the architecture of the California Capitol was based off that of the US Capitol!

Under the rotunda is a statue of Queen Isabella and Columbus commemorating her decision to finance a voyage to the US…which was then known simply as, “the New World.”

This building houses the state legislature as well as the offices of the governor. Below is a picture of the Senate Chambers.

There were bears all over the Capitol. It’s fitting that Berkeley’s 29 varsity athletic teams are referred to as California’s Golden Bears. I was amused by the bear below, standing in front of the Governor’s offices. I wouldn’t want to mess with this bear.

Lady Eureka was tiled on the floors near the office of the Secretary of State.

After we finished our tour, we went outside and found this oddly dressed man. I wonder what he was doing/why he was in this costume. He wouldn’t tell me, but instead he let me take a photo with him instead. I guess that’s all right, then.

We drove a few minutes around Sacramento and found the governor’s mansion! Isn’t it nice? I would love to live in an old, historic building like this.

The Governor’s Mansion was closed by the time we got there, so we headed back to the Capitol grounds. Behind the capitol is a nice park with gigantic trees, rose gardens, and war memorials. To put the trees into perspective, I’m trying my hardest to hug the tree you see below…. to no avail.

The place was full of these huge trees. I loved it!

There were also many war memorials, to showcase California’s contributions to the armed forces. I really liked these statues. I felt like they did a good job in their portrayal the struggles our soldiers underwent.

The emotions, too, were spot on.

The rose garden was a nice touch to the park.

It finally became dark and that was our cue to leave.

That’s California, folks! Coming up we head further north.

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Lake Tahoe

I hope you all are doing well during the holiday season! I’m finally at home for a brief 2-week respite from the hectic life of a graduate student and am taking advantage of some of my downtime to continue my story of the USA.

Let’s see, the last thing I told you about was Yosemite National Park. After we left the park, we headed to Lake Tahoe, the California/Nevada vacation spot that is popular not only in the summer, but also in the winter. Why is it so famed year round? Well, even in the middle of July it is possible to see the snow covered peaks- perfect for skiing.

But if you look down onto the largest alpine lake in North America, you see just how sparkling blue it really is in the middle of summer. Perfect for boat rides, water skiing, and hikes along Tahoe’s 71 mile shore.  Below is a picture of Emerald Bay.

I thought Lake Tahoe was so picturesque. Its max length is 22 miles, its max width is 12 miles, and it straddles the border between Nevada and Calfornia.

I stuck my feet in the lake to test the temperatures, and brrr! It was cold. Tahoe is located at a surface elevation of 6225 feet, meaning you still get frosty waters and can see snow at even higher elevations.

I found these birds hanging out as we lunched in Tahoe City, CA.

What a lovely lake.

I’ll be coming back one day for a longer stay.

Happy Holidays, wherever you are in the world!

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