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12 Hours in Maine

It was a Friday Morning and my best friend and I were enjoying some coffee when his phone buzzed, “It’s my boss-I don’t need to go into work today.” We usually both don’t have 72 hours of consecutive free time so we know we had to do something, go somewhere on this long weekend. Our selection was Maine. A 12 hour drive North. You may be thinking that is a bad idea and not practical at all…and you are right!!

During this spontaneous trip we missed our Airbnb reservation because we got stuck in traffic so we ended up sleeping in the car AND my best friend lost his wallet somewhere in Maine. We ended up looking through a dumpster for it! This trip was A LOT of driving but it was beautiful and at the very least, a lesson in planning and ..in dumpster diving.

Sunrise in Maine -Fort Williams Park, Portland

Exploring Acadia–Sand Beach and Cadillac Mountain

Crystal ball used for photography, you can order one for $15 on Amazon–they are great for showing off landscapes!!
My best friend was yelling at me for sitting on the edge of the bluff #daredevil

Although not featured here-Acadia is full of trails and cool places to explore, for example the Thunderhole where the water passing through the rock sounds like a storm and the Beehive trail–which is a trek for advanced hikers.

Maine is such a beautiful place, we literally only spent a day there because of terrible planning but there’s so much to do! We ended our trip in Bar Harbor where we ate poutine and went shopping. It was a mini trip in Maine to remember!

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The Great Canadian Experience

Perhaps my most spontaneous adventure yet–a three day trip to Canada, planned in 1 hour. It was a Friday morning with I saw an email from Airbnb saying a waterfront condo in Toronto just dropped in price and that’s all it took. I booked it, packed and started the 7 hour drive North.

On the balcony of the condo in downtown at sunrise

Fun fact: This trip was SO spontaneous that the border patrol deemed it suspicious. I was stopped and questioned by one agent as three other agents THOROUGHLY checked my car. I wasn’t guilty of anything… other than bad planning.

Highlights

Graffiti Alley

Downtown Toronto

Niagara Falls

DOUBLE RAINBOW 😀

A Tribute to Pennsylvania

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania so I have a lot of love for this state. From the mountains to the lakes, I think this is a state that has so much beauty. Below you will see some of the highlights of living here.

Peace Rock, Hamburg PA

Sunflowers–Pennsylvania in the fall is home to many sunflower fields. This one here is planted by my Grandfather at our family farm. My grandmother’s favorite flower is the sunflower so he plants her this field of them every year. He even makes her a bouquet of them weekly while they are in season!

Lakes-Pennsylvania has so many different lakes! A few of my favorites include Blue Marsh, Leaser, and this one here which is Lake Onteleaunee!

Trails and Wildlife–one of my favorite things about PA is there are so many parks! I love to read and hangout at the Batram Trailhead in Hamburg, PA. In the spring you can see vivid sunset, in the summers the gardens are full of butterflies and in the fall the colorful trees reflect beautifully onto the dam!

Batram Trailhead at sunset in the spring
Summer
Fall

Hiking- PA is an amazing place to hike. Some of my favorite places include Bear Rocks, Pulpit Rock and Hawk Mountain which is pictured below during the spring and on a winter day!

Hawk Mountain at Sunrise in the Fall
Hawk Mountain at sunrise in winter
Me sitting at the top of Bear Rocks

Scenic Drives–Pennsylvania is a beautiful state to drive through. If you are in rural PA-the winding country roads are perfect to cruise along as you watch the sunset over the blue mountains.

Winter in PA
Summer in PA

Cities–if you like a faster pace of life then you must visit Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. These beautiful cities always have fun activities happening like street fairs, art shows, and bar crawls. They are also both very rich in history and home to many museums and a variety of restaurants.

Chinese Lantern Festival–Philly
Cherry Blossom Festival–Philly
Fountains in downtown Pittsburgh

The Sweetest Place on Earth: Hershey, PA

Hershey, Pennsylvania is such a fun place to explore and absolutely perfect for families. In Hershey you can experience Hershey World where you can learn about how your favorite candies are made, watch a 4D movie, and build you own candy bar. Anyone who has a sweet tooth would agree a visit to Hershey World is a real treat.

However, if candy isn’t your vice, then the sprawling amusement park may be more for you. There you can find everything from roller coasters to a huge waterpark. The park has events all year around too so the fun doesn’t end in summer! If you visit in October you can enjoy spooky rides at Hershey Park in the Dark and from November to December you can enjoy the extensive holiday light display!

If you are staying for a few days then be sure to check out Zoo America which features animals from North America or reconnect with nature at my favorite place, Hershey Gardens!

Please enjoy the photos below from my visit to the gardens this past summer

Hershey Gardens sits on 23 acres and includes an outdoor garden and indoor butterfly atrium. The butterflies will fly right up to you and sit on your shoulder. The garden was a gift to the community from Milton Hershey.

Therapy for the Military: The Impact of a Veteran’s Day Shoot

For the third year in Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania there was a shoot held for veterans. This event attracted over 100 service members from all across the country. Here is why my family hosts it and why so many vets come.

This tradition was started by my Uncle Adam who spent 8 years in the Marine Corps and is now a proud member of the National Guard. He loves serving his country and does his best to stay active in the military community.

One of the ways he does so is through his brand Goons Up, which shares an abundance of content relating to the military experience across multiple social media platforms.

His goal for the brand is to:

  • Get military members the recognition they deserve
  • Connect military members with the help they need while they’re serving and when they’re out (whatever that may be)
  • Help carry on their legacy

Over the years, Goons Up has grown into an online community of over 55,000; it is a space where veterans can relate to each other, communicate, and ultimately bond over their shared experiences. Members of the page are also invited to partake in a range of events, most popular being a Memorial Day hike and the Veteran’s Day Shoot, which is highlighted in this post

Adam welcoming a Marine who came from Miami for the Veteran’s Day shoot

The idea for a shoot was born out of the idea of shooting guns being a stress reliever. A lot of the attendees haven’t shot these type of guns since being on active duty so it is almost like reconnecting with an old friend. It is also about awareness- 20 veterans die each day from suicide and events like this help remind these ladies and gentleman that they are not alone. Connection is the goal — not only to get veterans back on the guns they once used but to bring people together— to share stories, catch up with old friends and make new ones. No politics, no drama, just veterans of all branches coming together in camaraderie.

One of the attendees was Rory Hamill who posted the following about the event:

“The value of yesterday cannot be stated enough. While on the surface the allure of shooting this amazing weaponry goes without saying, and is something that we as a community dearly miss once we leave service, the true purpose runs much deeper than that. For a brief moment, you feel that camaraderie, that love amongst brothers that you’ve been missing. You’re not worrying about all the negative aspects of life that all too often bring us down. Yesterday was about our our brotherhood. Our love for one another. For all those who never made it back.”

Rory, who lost leg in combat, serves as an inspiration for many as he shares his story about recovery and defying odds at conferences across the nation. It was exciting to have so many honorable service members, like Rory, be in attendance.

A myriad of vendors were also present, promoting their respective brands and causes through out the day. Two of these vendors are highlighted below:

Veterans Response-Providing Hope After Disaster.

The mission of Veterans Response is to deliver timely and appropriate emergency services to disaster-stricken communities when and where necessary. Below you can read about how they provided clean drinking water and rebuilt houses after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

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Survival… Have you ever have to clung on the inside of a house on roof rafters for over “9 HOURS” in rising flood waters with your family. Take a moment to think about that. This all happened while the wind was blowing so hard outside that it was tearing through concrete as if it were paper? Our new young friend Arlington has this incredible story of survival. He lost many friends that lived in his neighborhood that were washed away to sea never to be seen again. New normals have begun for Arlington, his family and the good people of Grand Bahama 🇧🇸. All of the Islands affected by Dorian have gone through drastic changes and displaced many. Rebuilding is next and the support and help to do so is needed. Those with means will have very little problems those without will struggle for a lifetime putting those pieces back together again. First we are trying to bring clean drinking water to as many as we can. This is a priority because salt water runs through the plumbing and bottled water is not the long term solution for the island nor the environment. We were able to fix and rebuild houses in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 and wouldn’t it be wonderful to do some of the same for some of our friends who have just gone through an incredible and terribly impactful event. Let me know. Please share this story. I was there I put the video together And my eyes still welled up after watching it. Help us help others. It takes a village and you are all a part of mine… no donation is too small. 501(3)c Thank you to all for the support and donations. #bahamasstrong🇧🇸 #veteransresponse #Cleanwater #green #ecofriendly #waterdogs #noplasticbottles #Marines #navy #airforce #Army #coastguard #police #firefighter #firstresponder #💦🐕

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Brother’s in Bees-Helping Vets Save the Bees.

These gentleman provide a reflective and rewarding experience for U.S. Veterans via beekeeping and spread awareness of the impact of honey bees on the world.

I spent the majority of the day among the vendors at the Goons Up stand, where I sold hats, hoodies, shirts, and decals with the designs Adam and his wife Kelly developed for the brand.

This day is very exciting and there are a lot of people who make this day possible, two of which are my grandparents who host this shoot at their farm.

My grandparents in front of the sunflower field at their farm

From preparing the targets the day before, welcoming the veterans, helping serve food, to allowing those who traveled for the event to spend the night in their home, these two do everything they can to provide a positive experience for these veterans.

We are all very proud of my Uncle for his service. I truly admire his drive and ability to bring veterans together. I am just happy I get to be apart of it, even if it is just in small ways. I am also just so incredibly grateful to be apart of a family that is supportive, caring, and altruistic; a family that inspires me everyday to be a better person.

Thank you to all the veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country. Happy Veteran’s Day!

Disclaimer: Please note the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the brands and individuals mentioned. Additionally, firearms are not toys and should be handled by only trained and licensed professionals. Although shooting guns has been shown to be therapeutic, please do so both legally and responsibly.

Sandy Hook National Park: An East Coast Destination

Sandy Hook National Park, in northern Jersey, is the perfect weekend escape.

It was 4am on a summer morning and I couldn’t sleep. Bored and restless, I drove to the shore. I carried my coffee and my blanket across the sandy beach and sat on a lifeguard tower as the sun rose.

Later in the morning, I made a friend– a seagull!

He slowly got closer

..And closer

And Closer!!! I was just peacefully sunbathing face down when this seagull made his move to lay on my lower back. The people laying aside me were amused as I stood up abruptly and yelled “What are you doing? What do you think you are doing?” at him. I was so thrown off I think I ended up yelling at the seagull like a crazy person for over a minute. However I think my reaction was reasonable, I mean I couldn’t let him stay on me. Could you imagine the seagull shaped tan lines?

Side note: This park isn’t just great because of the beaches and the very friendly seagulls, it is also home to many deer, a beautiful lighthouse, and a lot of history as the peninsula was used as a military base in 1812.

Deer within the park

Also, after your day of sunbathing and exploring the park I recommend driving to Asbury Park which has a boardwalk full of fun shops, restaurants, and best of all-Silverball Pinball Museum and Arcade where you can play a range of games and all the vintage pinball machines you could dream of !!

Cape Fear Botanical Garden Fayetteville, North Carolina

I stopped in Fayetteville along my drive down to my college-Coastal Carolina. It is a small city that was put on the map primarily due to the rapper J. Cole. While in Fayetville I walked around the town and visited the Cape Fear Botanical Garden which had various trails and gardens. It was beautiful and made me so glad I stopped!

Below is a picture of downtown Fayetteville, along this strip is various places to shop and dine. My personal favorite is Rude Awakening Coffee shop where they made me a delicious Tiramisu Latte!

My Southern Belle: A Dog Appreciation Post

Hello everyone! I’d like to introduce you to my Southern Belle, Belle! She is a border collie mix that my family adopted from a high kill shelter in Alabama 10 years ago!

Belle and I going on an adventure to the vet for her shots!

I was 10 when I saw Belle’s photo on Petfinder and begged my mom to get her. I mean look at that face. Those floppy ears! However, my mom was quite hesitant.

Petfinder photo of Belle in the shelter

It took a lot of begging but eventually I convinced her this was the pup for us! Below is a photo of the first day we met Belle…you can clearly see my mothers’ hesitation.

My mom holding Belle for the first time

It was Belle’s first day home and my parents had only one rule–no puppy’s on the furniture. My mom left, leaving my brother in charge..who promptly picked the puppy up and put her on the couch to sit with him. My mom came back later that day to the below. She wasn’t too angry..

Belle sleeping on the couch her first day home

Belle became apart of the family and for me personally, I think we really grew up together. Below you can see me holding her cap on as she was graduating from puppy school–where she learned how to sit, shake, and a bunch of other basic commands she didn’t remember. As the years passed, she would sit by me as I studied and prepared for my own graduation; the perfect study buddy!

Belle is not a dog that likes long car rides, hikes, or even walks longer than a mile away from her treats. She rather just hang out at home with a chew toy but that’s okay! She has been a perfect study buddy, cuddle buddy and friend. Hanging out with her is all face licks and cuddles. I am just so glad I was an annoying 10 year old and begged my mom for the puppy with the floppy ears from Alabama because that puppy became a great part of our family!

“We don’t deserve dogs, but we are so lucky to have them”

My Year in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

I lived in Myrtle Beach for a year as I was attending Coastal Carolina University. Below you will see some of the highlights of my year living there.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Coastal Carolina University–Throughout campus there are numerous fountains, flowerbeds, and best of all–there is a bridge that connects the campus where you can say hi to all the turtles that call the pond home on your way to class. I loved being on campus and watching the sunset as I walked back to my dorm.

Waccamaw River-Conway. I love hiking but unfortunately the closest mountains are across the state so the Waccamaw River trails were the closest substitute. Although these trails just circled through the woodlands and marshes, they were still fun to explore.

The beaches–clearly the best part of my stay was always going to the beach. It was always fun sitting in the sand and watching the sun rise over the Grand Strand.

Brookgreen Gardens–this sprawling garden is beautiful and so much to walk around. It was a relaxing day as I wandered through the sculpture garden and pet animals in the wildlife preserve

Charleston, South Carolina–I loved visiting Charleston, my friends and I went there for a day trip and I got to walk along the harbor, eat some amazing BBQ, and do some shopping downtown.

These are of course just the highlights of my year in South Carolina. I also enjoyed visiting Broadway at the Beach which has a lot of stores and cool restaurants, Broadway is the go to for nightlife. Other places I recommend is Huntington State Park where you can walk along the beach, possibly see alligators, and visit the historic Atalya Castle.

Highlights of living in South Carolina

  • No harsh winters–no shoveling!
  • Always something to do–shopping, trails, visit a state park
  • Once again–beautiful weather year-round (in comparison to the North’s harsh winters)
  • Great food–I had the best grits, biscuits, fried chicken, etc while living in SC
  • Kindness of the residents– manners are definitely instilled in the residents of SC.

Jellyfish: Brainless but Beautiful

Jellyfish are my favorite animals to photograph because of their bright colors and graceful movements. These little brainless creatures predate dinosaurs and are 95% water! Amazing.

Below are some of my favorite jellyfish photos I have captured in my travels:

Bonus Clownfish “Nemo” for your viewing pleasure

My top 3 aquariums:

  • Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, they have the only Beluga whale on the East Coast!!
  • The National Aquarium in Baltimore–huge
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knolls–they have Nimbus, the Albino Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Wondrous Waterfalls-Exploring the Pocono Mountains

The Pocono Mountains attract visitors from all over. It is a region that truly has something for everyone–from ski slopes, trails, to indoor waterparks, it is an escape into nature. My personal favorite spot is Bushkill Falls. Here, you can see a few different waterfalls all connected with steps– making it perfect for families and hikers of all ages and backgrounds.

Meet the Miniature Horses that Stole My Heart

Here we have Prince, he was so sweet and loved being pet!

Lancaster, Pennsylvania is primarily known for the abundance of Amish and Mennonite communities many of which make their living off of farming. When driving through the area you will see beautiful sprawling fields dotted with the occasional farmers market or roadside stands that sell fresh fruits, veggies, and baked goods. I love driving through Lancaster and one day stumbled upon The Lil Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm.

While visiting you will see a mixture of Alpacas, goats, horses, and of course–all the miniature horses one could ever want to see! You can even hand feed them.

Want to visit? Find out more here: https://lancasterpa.com/lil-country-store/

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