Wanderlust Wednesday: Washington, D.C. (Part 3)

We started off at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  I felt that it is one of the many places to visit while in D.C.  The Holocaust was just an unspeakable and horrible period in the World’s history, yet it is also something that should be reflected and learned about so it is not repeated.

You may think that you know all there is about the Holocaust, but I learned some new things while at the museum – either that or I learned about it, forgot about it then re-learned it again.   For example, other than incarcerating Jews, the Germans also sent Jehovah’s Witnesses, political prisoners (aka anyone who spoke up against Hitler and the Nazis), scientists and homosexuals.  At one point, the amount of countries that were controlled by the Nazis were so far and vast, those trying to escape them, really had no where to go.  Then, once the war was over, because there was so much destruction, especially in the Allied countries, those that were able to return, couldn’t.

They did have stories that I did remember and/or read about.  They had a section on Anne Frank, about her life, when she was captured and when she died.  They also had a section on Auschwitz, how the prisoners were transported by freight cars in extreme conditions.  Then how they were divided up, first by gender, then whether they will continue at the camp undergoing hard labor, or if they will go to the gas chamber.

They also had a room that had written excerpts as well as recordings of those who had survived the Holocaust.  They described how they were brought to the camps, how their life was while living in the barracks, or how it was when they were rescued at the end of the war.  After seeing how everyone was taken, imprisoned and/or put to death, you can’t help but to feel awe for those who had lived through such horror, anger for those who had imprisoned them, and sadness for those who did not survive.

Now, I wish I could have taken more photos around the museum.  However, I also felt that this was such a somber and heavy topic, that I did not want to be snapping photos at every turn.   You can’t help but to feel affected in some way after that.

Next was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.   Just like the name suggests, this museum chronicles how man got into the air and space by craft.

We saw the plane flown by the Wright Brothers!

The museum gave a nod to women pilots in America, too!

Some military planes and drones…

As well as space craft and satellites…

We even got on one of the simulator rides!

From there we headed towards the White House.  We were only able to take a picture from outside the gates.

Shortly after we returned home, they announced that they were no longer allowing people in that area anymore (good thing we went, then!)

Finally, our last stop was at the State Capitol.  We were able to get a tour after contacting our state representative, Tammy Duckworth.

For a big building, we weren’t allowed into a lot of it.  Even though there were some rooms there for the representatives, they really spend most of their time across the street in either the Rayburn House Office Building or in the Hart Senate Office Building.

By the time we were done with our tour, we were plenty tired!  We would be leaving early the next morning.   I did feel like we covered a lot of ground and we would love to come back!

How about you?  Have you been here as well?  What did you think?  Feel free to share in the comments below!

Until next time,

–Maeven

References:

https://www.ushmm.org/

https://airandspace.si.edu/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/

https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/

Wanderlust Wednesday: Washington, D.C. (Part 2)

We tackled a lot in the few days that we were here, which is why this segment is broken down into parts.

The first monument we come across is the Washington Monument.  Usually it would be open for the public to climb up to the top, but it was closed when we had gotten there.  It was still beautiful to see.

We were hoping to see the cherry blossoms, but they had bloomed early and only a few trees still had their flowers.  We were lucky to come across one and it was beautiful!



Our first stop was the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  Built for one of America’s Founding Fathers, who also drafted one of the most important documents in our county’s history – The Declaration of Independence.

At first, it looks clean, and simple, but when you walk inside, there is a statue of Thomas Jefferson in bronze.

Along the walls, there are excerpts from various works that he wrote.

From there, we continued our walk towards the Lincoln Memorial.  On the way, we came across the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

Freedom of Speech/ Freedom of Worship/ Freedom From Want/ Freedom From Fear

The architechs behind the memorial wanted it to be accessible to those with disabilities (FDR was in a wheelchair). This relief has braille for those who are sight-impaired.

There are four different sections, each signifying his four terms as President of the United States.  He is the only President to have four terms, when the previous Presidents followed George Washington’s precedent by only having two terms, and before the enactment of the 22nd Amendment that limited the President to two terms in office.

Since I have family members who have served in the military and in at least two wars, I had to also visit a few of the war memorials (it was only right).

The World War II Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Three Servicemen
The Memorial Wall

We also had a chance to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Proof of Life!

Last but not least (for today), the Lincoln Memorial.  Its one thing to see this on TV, but its another to be standing within it’s walls.

When looking out onto the reflection pool, I couldn’t help but to think of Jenny in that scene from Forrest Gump where she runs across the water to hug him.

Overall, this was a very long walk! We were not kidding around when I said that we were seeing alot!

Next time, we talk about some of the museums we went to, The State Capital and, of course, The White House!

 

References:

https://www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/frde/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

https://www.wwiimemorial.com/

http://www.koreanwarvetsmemorial.org/the-memorial/

http://thewall-usa.com/information.asp

https://www.nps.gov/mlkm/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm
 

 

 

Photowalk: Venice Beach at Night

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In my previous post, I shared a video montage of Venice Beach in the daytime. One of my favorite beaches, Venice Beach is home to a diversity of people and culture. The walls are filled with color, the people all beautiful in their own ways, the streets crowded with the hustle and bustle of vendors, tourists, and residents alike. Music is usually heard in the background, from the stalls that line the boardwalk or from street performers trying to get you attention.

But Venice Beach at night? It is a whole different world when the sun goes down.

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The streets that are usually filled by people are empty, with a few stragglers here and there. Shops and restaurants are closed, lacking in color and life. The boardwalk is illuminated only be street lamps that keep people from hiding in entire darkness. Occasionally, a cop car would drive past, keeping peace and quiet at bay for everyone.

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The exact night I went to Venice Beach with my friend MB, California had legalized weed. So you bet yourself supporters are low-key celebrating themselves that night. At one point, I had walked past a group of teenage kids with a cardboard sign that read “We need Weed.”

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If you’ve frequented Venice Beach as much as I had, being in that same place at night time is an eerily interesting concept. You know what you should expect, yet your senses are warning you that there is something lacking: the life, the vibe, the soul that keeps Venice Beach alive.

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MB and I walked up and down the street that separated the buildings from the beach. We found interesting alley ways and took a gander to see what we’d find. We walked past one restroom building and overheard a few men about to start a fight, one side provoking the other. When the cop rolled past, every one was forced to keep their cool. But other than that, everyone just minded their own business. A couple of late night musicians still played music into the night, a handful of couples walking hand in hand maybe trying to walk off the dinner and drinks they just had.

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While I am not going to suggest one explores Venice Beach at night by themselves, I do encourage seeing it at night, bring a few friends, make an adventure out of it. Even though you know it’s the same Venice Beach, the stark contract between night and day is very much noticeable.

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Happy Summer everyone!

 

xo,
Jaja, the forever tourist (IG: @theforevertourist, #theforevertourist)

Good morning from Newport Beach! [VIDEO at end of post]

There are a handful of things I cherish and hold so close to my heart. One of those things is my constant need for alone time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends (that includes my cat Max). I love going out and doing things with the people I hold dear. But I get so caught up in my head and my thoughts that I have this constant need to have some alone time.

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The best place for me to get that solitude is by going to the beach.. right before sunrise. I love both sunset and sunrise but they give me different kinds of peace of mind and calm.. if that even makes sense. My go-to sanctuary is Newport Beach. It’s a small strip of beach in the Balboa peninsula, and the area has a small community surrounding it, which makes it perfect because it doesn’t get as crowded as the more touristy destinations like Santa Monica, Venice, etc.

I love that beach so much, even though it’s quite a drive from home. But in the morning? It’s so quiet and homey. As soon as I get there, I go buy my donut and coffee at Seaside Donuts, a tradition I’ve set for myself. And then I go sit at “my bench” and set up my camera, my book, and then I get comfortable while I wait for the sun to rise.

There are times when it’s too cloudy that you won’t see the actual sun go up. But just being in that place, in that time, warms my heart.

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As I walk around the pier and then down to the shoe, you see people greeting each other – most likely neighbors who do the same routine every morning. Most weekends, you’ll find a long line coming out from Dory Fishing Fleet Market. People flock there even before dawn breaks to catch the freshest seafood for that weekend. You also get your community of surfers, starting their days by catching some waves.

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I stay for maybe 3 or 4 hours, depending on how fast it gets crowded or warm. You might think, “Well that’s quite some time to kill huh.” I only go there when I have no plans for the day. I’m not a big fan of rushing, that’s why I always plan my day accordingly.

On this particular day, I noticed a group of people doing some huge and beautiful sand art. The artists are called Low Tide Aliens (IG: @lowtidealiens), and it look like a fun activity they were having. They had kids and other family members and friends helping them out. Check out their Instagram account to have their beautiful sand art take your breath away!

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I’ve visited Newport Beach more times than I can remember, from every “season” California can offer. I love the sense of community in that place, I love the peace and quiet it brings. I love that it doesn’t get too crowded, and I especially love that it’s open so early in the morning. It doesn’t matter if I wanna go there and catch up with a friend, or I want to de-stress my mind and my soul. This piece of the world will always be my mind’s sanctuary.

I wanna share one this video I made in Newport Beach back in December of 2015. I remember I had an 11hr work day the night before ( I think I came home 2am) and I was restless and tired from all the emotional and mental stress from my old job. I knew I just had to go to the beach that morning. I shot a time lapse video of the sunrise, and while I was sitting there, Ed Sheeran’s Lego House popped into my mind. So as soon as I got home, I stitched together the videos I shot while listening to the song. Here it is, guys. It’s not much, but the visuals pretty much reflected how I was feeling that day.

 

 

 

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Washington D.C. (Part 1)

Though I have lived here all my life and traveled to a number of places, I still haven’t been to D.C. (what?!!)  So my family and I decided to remedy that and take a road trip to America’s Capital this past April.  It would be for an extended weekend (four to five days), and I knew that I wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface on visiting everything DC had to offer.  However, we will make an effort to make a dent!

Pro Tip:  The White House, the Capital Building, the Pentagon, and the Supreme Court offer tours by staff or volunteers.  Some of them are arranged through your local Congress Representative or through the website.  When I looked into getting tours four months before our trip, there were none available (already booked?).  We did manage to get a tour of the Capital Building weeks before our trip after placing our names on standby with Tammy Duckworth’s office.  That being said, if you know for certain that you will be wanting to tour any of these places, look into them ASAP!

The Family on Our Fantastic Journey

We decided to drive there, which is about 12 hours one way.  Our first day, we drove halfway and stopped in Toledo, OH.  BTW, I really like the rest stops on the Ohio Turnpike over Indiana and Pennsylvania (at least on the route we took).

The next day, we completed the journey.  We did this because we had an AirBnB reservation – our FIRST AirBnB reservation ever – and we had to get the key from them OR the lockbox.  I didn’t want to chance having to get the key from them at a late hour.

Usually I am able to get a decent price on hotel rooms, but in the DC area, the hotel rooms were running at least $200/night.  I decided to try AirBnB for our trip.  For five days, for a 1BR apartment with parking, with taxes and cleaning charges, it was $550.

Anyway, we arrived in the area through Virginia.  We were still early for check-in, so we decided to stop at Arlington Cemetery first.   Some of the oldest resting places there date back to before the Civil War.

 

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View of the Washington Memorial from Arlington
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United States Air Force Memorial

 

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The Grave of Robert Peary, who was a US Navy Officer that made several expeditions to the North Pole.

 

View of the Pentagon from Arlington Cemetary

 

McClellan Gate – for Major General George B. McClellan

We then headed to our AirBnB to rest for the night.  We were in an area called Columbia Heights.  I noticed a couple of Greek (ie Fraternity/Sorority) houses on our drive up 11th Street.  I then found out we were near Howard University.  I did a quick Wiki search on them and found out this:  Howard University originally opened shortly after the Civil War, originally to be a theological seminary for African-American Clergymen.  Now, it offers a diverse array of undergraduate programs and graduate programs (ie Business,  Education, Law, Medicine, Nursing, etc).  Also, they had produced Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, Truman Scholars, Pickering Fellows and a Marshall Scholar.  In 2015 it ranked in the top 75 in the Bloomberg Businessweek college rankings.  It also produces the most black doctorate recipients of any university.

In other words, there are a lot of smart people at Howard University!  Kudos!

We have only been in the area for a few hours and I’m already learning a lot!

For dinner, we ate at a nearby restaurant called “The Coupe” and it was recommended to us by our AirBnB hosts.

 

Grilled Hangar Steak

 

 

Mac and Cheese
Cuban Sandwich with House Made Chips

 

Getting back to our AirBnB, our apartment was spotless (thanks to the professional cleaning service they hire) and the hosts were very thorough and accessible.  If you are ever in the D.C. area, and don’t mind a short commute, look up Host Alper under “Cozy 1BD apt steps away from metro with parking.”

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Peary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_University

http://www.thecoupedc.com/

https://www.airbnb.com

 

 

 

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Morro Bay, CA

“Morro Bay is a great place to spend an extended weekend to relax and unwind…”

With the holidays here, we are either being visited by family or visiting family ourselves.  For this Thanksgiving, we went to visit family in California – mostly to help with house maintenance, but we did find time for some fun.

My husband had told me of when he used to drive from Monterey, CA to Morro Bay for clam chowder.  He described it as the best clam chowder that he has ever had.  I had been to Boston (albeit a long time ago as a teenager), but from what I had remembered, the clam chowder there was pretty good as well (the best, in my book).  Challenge accepted! We took a day trip from Fresno to Morro Bay to check out this infamous clam chowder.

 On our search for clam chowder…

When we arrived, it was pouring rain.  I was a little sad because I wanted to take a walk onto the pier and take pictures of the bay.  Since we would be sitting down for our meal, I was hoping that, by the time we finish, the rain may let up.  We decided to eat at Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant.  My husband had the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and fish and chips.  I ordered some raw oysters, clam chowder and a side salad.

With the first bite of the chowder, you can taste the freshness of the clams – and there was a good number of them in the soup, too!  I mean, I’ve had other clam chowders that were more like cream of potato with maybe a hint of clam juice (i.e. NOT clam chowder).  With this chowder, you can tell its CLAM.CHOWDER.  I even had a bay leaf in my soup portion (now I know ONE of the ingredients – haha!)  For the bread bowl, it was kept warm and moist from the chowder itself and was delicious as well as functional!   


The fish (in the fish & chips) as well as the oysters were fresh (no fishy smell or aftertaste).  Even my Mother-In-Law, who is not a “fish person” liked the fish & chips.  How amazing is that?!


By the way, yes, driving all that way for chowder was really worth it, too!

There are a number of dockside restaurants that one can choose from.  We just happened to go to Tognazzini’s by chance.  From what I saw on Yelp for that area, a lot of the dockside restaurants had really good reviews as well.

When we had finished our meal, the rain had become nothing more than a light sprinkle and eventually stopped.  After purchasing some salt-water taffy (next door to the restaurant), we took a walk out onto the pier.

Of course, there was Morro Rock, which gave the town and bay it’s name.  The rock, itself is a volcanic plug and is connected by a causeway to the shore, making it a tied island.  It is also protected, so climbing the rock and disturbing the wildlife is prohibited.

Speaking of wildlife, they seem to think that this is a popular hangout as well.

I also learned that this is a good area for hiking, paddle-boarding, boating and wine-tasting (to name a few of the activities available here).  This would definitely be a great place to spend an extended weekend to relax and unwind.

Have you been here also? Share your experiences below in the comments section!
Want to learn more?  Click on the links below and maybe plan your next stay there!

http://www.morrobay.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morro_Bay,_California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morro_Rock

http://www.morrobaydockside.com/

–Maeven

Wanderlust Wednesday: California Missions Series: #18 Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

Today Wanderlust Wednesday introduces the beginning of the California Mission series.

 

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| Photo |

Usually, when we come across the word wanderlust, some of us think of these amazing, exotic, breath-taking places that are worthy to be in a bucket list. There’s France, Japan, the Bahamas, Hawaii, what have you. One (or should I say 21) of the places that I wanderlust for is the California Missions.

The California missions are 21 outposts, or settlements, that the Spaniards had built along the West Coast, mainly to spread Christianity to the indigenous people in the region. Aside from religion, they taught the locals to grow their own food, raise animals and become more civilized.

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| My friend A |

2012 was when I first heard of the missions. It was really intrigued. Elementary students here are required to do a diorama project and a presentation on a mission of their choice. I looked up the history and the background of these missions, and from then on, I have tried to visit one whenever I can.

I know that this is not specifically Los Angeles, but I thought that I would share my touristy trips to the missions that I go to. Let’s just call this, the California Missions series of Wanderlust Wednesday. If you also happen to be a history buff, and enjoy exploring historical places like the missions, I hope that my posts encourage you into visiting the missions as well.

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Bronze rendition of the Fourth Station of the Cross

For the first in the series, I will share with my trip to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, located almost 90 miles south of Los Angeles. Located in 4050 Mission Ave., San Luis Rey, CA., this mission is the 18th mission built by the Spaniards, and 20th mission geographically from the north.

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First and oldest pepper tree in California, planted in 1830.

The mission was founded in June 13, 1798 by Father Fermin de Lasuen. It was named for King Louis IX of France and was nicknamed the “King of the Missions”, being the largest mission at 35 acres. The California Pepper Tree (originally Peruvian Pepper Tree, first of its kind planted in the state) was planted in the mission, and a very iconic sight to see.4

The mission is fully functional to this day, and provides services through community programs. One of their facilities include a Retreat Center with day and overnight programs. Even the historic church is still used for early Sunday mass, weddings, and funerals.

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Peyri Court: The court is an inner garden dedicated to Padre Antonio Peyri who guided the development of the Mission from founding through secularization.
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Inner sacred garden, where the public is not allowed to venture into.

If you’re a history fan a road trip fan, I think that the missions will definitely pique your interest. Since I live in the West Coast, I’m taking my time visiting them. But if you’re in town for a week, or intentionally want to make a missions road trip vacation, I think that that’s a great way to see the state of California, close to the coast at least.

Thank you for reading my first mission post of the series! Let me know what you think, and go and check out the rest of the California Missions.

-Jaja

For more information about the history of the California Missions and this particular one, click the links below:
California Missions
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Visit Oceanside
Mission Tour