Driving the Skyline: Shenandoah Valley

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Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are both really beautiful roads to drive down. Well, I’m not really sure how the experience is when you’re actually the one in the driver’s seat, but I can tell you that the view from the passenger side is great. I’d venture a guess and say that it’s probably a pretty great road to drive down too, and this I can actually say based on experience: when I was practicing for my road test, I drove down the Taconic State Parkway almost every weekend for a little over a month, and that was also one hella pretty parkway. I definitely preferred that road over most others. Anyways, case in point… sort of.

We ended up driving out as the sun was going down (road closed at 5:30 apparently, although I doubt we would’ve been in any trouble if we’d lingered a bit longer – there were still plenty of people left at the place where we were waiting for sunset). It looked like the sun was going to dip into the clouds and get blocked anyway, though, so not much protest here. Still, the moments before that were gold.

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I know a lot of nature photographers try to get rid of the human element in their photos, but for me, that human element sometimes really adds to the picture. For some reason, whenever I look at this photo, the silhouettes emphasize the serenity that I felt standing there looking out over the mountains as the sun sank slowly towards the horizon, giving it that extra emotional dimension that might have been absent otherwise.

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Omake: There was this rock that looked kind of like Pride Rock, and so naturally, we just had to reenact the opening scene from the Lion King. After all, IT’S THE CIIIIIRCLE OF LIIIIIFE…!

…yes I carry a penguin pillow pet around with me, thank you for asking. His name is Percy and he loves Christmas.

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Destination Miami: Sun, Sea, and Sweet Serendipity

I was thrilled to go to Miami. For all the times I’ve been to Florida (which, granted, I can count on one hand), I’ve never been to Miami. Florida has always meant DISNEY, and I was happy with that because, dude, I’m an animation buff and anyway it’s Disney – ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ and all that? But Miami… Man I was so excited to go because even though I’ve never really shown it much, I love the beach – beach culture, beach style, beach environment – it’s like something in me just longs to be by the ocean under the sun (or moon).

SO now I’m here, back after a long absence, to give you a rundown on my Miami experience and the memories and experiences that I took away from it. Well, to be totally upfront about it, I only really spent 3/4 of a day in Miami itself. It was just one stop on a road trip, but it was definitely on of the highlights. So without further ado, I present to you… Miami.

What better way to start a vacation than with an amazing sunrise? …Okay, yeah, I’m sure plenty of you are sitting there saying, “Uh, oh I dunno, maybe a good three hours more of sleep?” Well, to each their own. I can’t really say you’re wrong, but that doesn’t mean I can’t argue that. And look, I’m lazy af. I love sleep. I can beat most people in a contest of ‘who woke up the latest on Saturday’ (there are a couple people who’ve really given me a run for my money, however). Even so, I love the sunrise even more than I love sleep, even if it doesn’t feel that way when I first wake up at that ungodly hour. But the feeling of sitting there as the sky slowly lights up, waiting on the sun to rise and greet the world… it’s one of the most peaceful feelings in the world. And if that’s not true for you, then that’s fine. Like I said, to each their own. I guess that just means I’ve found my zen.

But the sunrise isn’t really what most people come to Miami to do, is it. It’s time to part- eh no. Ha. No. My parents were there. It so wasn’t happening. (But I’m pretty obsessed with LIV. One day. One day soon).img_0195

Ahem. What I meant to say is, it’s time to SWIM.

Is it crowded? Yes. Not gonna lie because I know how to pick my fights. Usually. But is it still great? Hell yeah. Maybe it’s just because I’m me, and I’m from Connecticut with its subpar beaches (at least when it comes to sand quality and temperature and all that jazz), but I thought Miami Beach was amazing. Soft fluffy sand? Check. Sunny tropical weather? Check. Warm clear water? Check, check, and check.

I really loved walking down Ocean Drive at night, too. First of all, it was super nice to be able to walk around in the night air with just shorts and a T-shirt on. And second, I am so happy I got to see those giant margarita glasses. Two words: So. Awesome. As for why I was walking down Ocean Drive, well looking for food, of course. Had to get a taste of Joe’s Stone Crab after all the hype about it, but then finished off the night with a sampler of Cuban cuisine. All in all, it was a pretty great day.

And then at the end of the night, far across the bay, I saw it: Gatsby’s green light. Or, well, a green light. So with that, I leave you with these parting words from Nick Carraway on the past, the future, our dreams, our downfalls, and the great and terrible things that make up the human condition:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And then one fine morning- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

– The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Full Disclosure: The above 6 photos were taken at Daytona Beach, not Miami.)

Sands of Silver — Silver Sands State Park

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This was a pretty unique beach, at least in my experiences. The elevation change along the whole stretch was incredibly shallow, so when the tide rises, the whole place starts flooding, making these really cool islands of sand just sitting out in the water. Meanwhile, low tide leaves some nice tide pools, home sweet home for the mini crabs and hermits. There was even a horseshoe crab! Or as I like to call it, a dinosaur of the sea (even though they predate dinosaurs; oh well :))

The geography of the beach also is what allows for this awesome little sand bar:

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…which only shows its face during low tide and disappears once more when the water rises. On the other side, you can reach Charles Island, which I keep wanting to call Turtle Island (flashback to my Ragnarok Online days, where Turtle Island was awesome and I actually had to fight my way through the Porings of Alberta to get onto the ship ^_^). This is the view of the island from the mainland shore:

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Happy last 4 days of summer!

Tides of Summer

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Long Island part 2. There were some really nice waves in the morning, and since it was so early there weren’t very many people there yet.

There’s really not much to say. Sure, I could go on and on about the ocean and the sand and the waves, but what I experience by the ocean can’t be put into words. It’s a combination of the feeling of the sand between my toes, of the water flowing past my legs, of the waves crashing up my body and the drops of salt water splashing my face. It’s the smell of the salt and sea in the wind with the soaring of seagulls overhead and the sight of the endless boundaries of the ocean. It’s feeling that, just for a moment, I can leave the world with all its burdens behind.

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.” ~ Sandy Gingras

Until next time!

Portal

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A guy asked us where we were going at the airport, and my friend had no idea how to pronounce the name of the city. She just ended up saying “Wheresis…wheresisat…where’s is at?”, which is actually kind of close to the actual pronunciation but ended up sounding like she was just asking where it was at.

The architecture in Morocco is so much different than Europe, but it’s beautiful and amazing in its own right. Personally, I love the desert and the culture that surrounds it, so these types of desert abodes hold a special place in my heart.

Ouarzazate, Morocco

Fireball of Maine

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Yeah, it’s another sunset lol. 3rd one out of the last 4 posts… Oh well.

Anyways, I was at Cadillac Mountain (btw I love that name. Partly (okay, mostly) because I love Cadillacs) but I ended up walking down the road about 1/2 a mile to a different spot. I thought I would be the only one there, but a bunch of other people showed up in the next 1/2-ish hour before the sun set. I hold to my belief that they were all copying my brilliant idea and that they’d all followed me from Cadillac Mtn 😛 (except that I found out there was a parking lot right at that spot and I didn’t actually have to walk all that way from Cadillac ‘_’. Turned out that a lot of other people had done the same thing as me though and there was this giant crowd of people walking back to Cadillac Mtn after sunset).

By the way, I just found out a few days ago that Cadillac Mountain is the first place the sun hits in the US o.0 Now I really wish I’d been there at sunrise.

Somewhere near Cadillac Mountain, Acadia NP, ME