Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland

It was a stressful day at work and when I got my days off, I definitely deserved a change of scenery. Thus, I have decided to do a road trip outside Ohio. I surfed the net and saw a natural wonder just a couple of hours drive, then, I drove all the way to that place. It is located in Maryland and since I really haven’t seen the state that well so, it was a plus. I got to my destination at 1145H in Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland.md01

Swallow Falls State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River which is in Oakland in Garrett County, Maryland. The state park has the highest free-falling waterfall. The park is known for its stand of old hemlock trees which are more than 300 years old and are the last stand of its kind in Maryland.md04md03

The park has a lot of events and activities that guests and visitors will surely love. Swallow Falls State Park is a great place to escape the busy city life.

One of the state park activities is hiking. The state park is famous for its tall hemlocks that dominate the silent woods. The 1 1/4 mile trail through S​wallow Falls guides hikers to witness some of the most breath-taking vista in Western Maryland. It is also a good location to hike under the shade of the old hemlock trees and pine trees.

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Hiking

Hikers won’t get lost due to presence of signs, maps and directions within the trail. The whole vicinity is not as massive as any other state parks. It is just enough for an hour or two walk in the park pace.

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Signage/ Directions

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Other activity is white water rafting. The Youghiogheny River flows along the park’s borders which passes through shaded rocky gorges and creating rippling rapids. With the Youghiogheny River and Muddy Creek which are white water rivers, the rivers contain severe natural hazards, such as waterfalls, violent rapids, swift currents, deep pools, underwater hydraulics, cold water, slippery rocks and rough terrain.

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Notice to Guests

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White water river

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White Water Rafting

Travelers can also do waterfalls sightseeing for the reason that it has 3 waterfalls, namely Upper and Lower Swallow Falls, Tolliver Falls and Muddy Creek Falls.

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Closer view of Upper Swallow Falls

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Upper Swallow Falls

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Lower Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls is the namesake of the state park. Youghiogheny River is the water source of this waterfall. There are two drops, each around 15 feet high. The upper drop is the more distinctive of the two.

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Tolliver Falls

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Closer View of Tolliver Falls

Tolliver Falls is just as interesting as its larger relatives. It is only a few feet tall and yet the location in the park is very scenic. It is on a side trail that is very accessible but have to wander around to find it.

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Muddy Creek Falls

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Closer view of Muddy Creek Falls

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On top of Muddy Creek Falls

Muddy Creek Falls is the highest crashing and free-falling waterfall at 53-foot tall which is a spectacular sight. The waterfall is even accessible by disabled individuals.  There is a boardwalk that leads to a good viewpoint of the falls.

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Boardwalk for Disabled

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Muddy Creek Falls viewpoint

In addition to that, tourists can do some sightseeing and find a really interesting spot or scenery within the state park. I got to see these breathtaking sights.md23md22

An individual can do some fishing too. The rapids maybe too forceful but the park is inhabited by rainbow trout. Fishing is perfect during the spring season and the rainbow trouts are stocked in the Muddy Creek and the river.

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Fishing in the Youghiogheny River

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Youghiogheny River

Then, there is camping. Swallow Falls State Park has campsites. In fact, it has 65 wooded campsites with a fire ring, picnic tables, and lantern post on a stabilised pad. Some sites have electric hook-ups and restrooms and shower facilities are nearby. They even have a program called OPERATION: CAMPOUT! where the state park can lend campers a gear free of charge that includes a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more. This program though applies to military individuals and military families new to camping or experienced campers stationed or recovering in this area.md19

There are more to do in Swallow Falls State Park. Indeed, this mountain state park contains some of the state’s most breathtaking scenery. Travelers and guests can have fun all day and is also the perfect place to rest and relax.

 

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Half A Day In Mississippi

Since I was already in the southern part of the United States, I might as well do some side trips to see other state. It brought me to look on the U.S state map and have decided to venture to the Magnolia state. I spent half a day in Mississippi since it was just near Tennessee.

I was searching for tourist destinations in MS but most of them were located far from the border state of Tennessee and I only have a half a day thus, I don’t want to spend it in the road and come back right after I got to the location. So, I came up with the idea to just visit the nearest tourist attractions. One tourist spot came up on the list was Tunica County River Park.

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Tunica River Park and Museum cr; tunicariverpark.com

Tunica County River Park is located in the town of Robinsonville, Tunica county in Mississippi. It is a perfect  for outings with family and kids and can also be a romantic destination for couples and lovers. It has the perfect view emphasizing the beauty  of the Mississippi River. Tunica River Park and Museum is rich with native wildlife and flora and the focal point of the park is the stunning architectural of the River Park Overlook that provides the breathtaking views of the America’s river. For more information, visit their site by clicking here.

After my visit in Tunica River Park, I was curious about these two cool-looking gate poles that looked like a castle. So I went through it and found out that it was a casino. It was the Fitzgeralds Tunica Casino and Hotel.

Fitz Tunica Casino and Hotel is just located few miles of Tunica River Park. If you have noticed when you get to Tunica, there are a lot of casinos and hotels and they aren’t just ordinary casinos, they are worldly known such as Hollywood, Gold Strike to name a few. Tunica might be named as the Vegas of Mississippi. It is like in the middle of nowhere and once you get there, it boomed with a surprise with ginormous casino buildings.

I was just seeing the vicinity out of curiosity and just went by passing. The building was indeed huge and looked like a castle but the location was just bland and dead. It was around 1000H. It might be a different story when you get inside the casino but it was never part of the itinerary to get inside a casino so, I left after I got satisfied with my curiosity. I, then, went to Southaven to do some shopping since they have this famous outlet. It was Tanger Outlet Mall.

Tanger Outlet Mall is located in Southaven. It is just outside of Memphis, TN. Tanger Outlets Southaven is the first outlet mall near the Memphis metro area. It is a nationally known outlet center brand.

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Tanger Outlets: Coach, Pandora, Guess, etc

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Tanger Outlets

That ended spending my half a day in Mississippi. It was spent most of the time in the mall but at least I got to see Mississippi even it was just in short period of time. If I get another opportunity to visit Mississippi, I would definitely give more time traveling down south since it has a lot to offer for a traveler like me.

Nature Perfect Arkansas

Arkansas is a southern U.S state bordering the Mississippi River. It’s known for its abundant parks and wilderness areas with terrain encompassing mountains, caves, rivers, and hot springs. Arkansas has been nicknamed as the Natural State and I didn’t doubt it. I visited the state and all I can say is indeed, it was a Nature Perfect Arkansas.

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Arkansas, the Natural State

Upon entering Arkansas from Memphis, TN route, all  I can see was wide vast fields and changed to valley, forests and some mountains. I was searching the net before I left for Arkansas and I saw this amazing view in the web that really caught my attention so I made sure to add it in my itinerary. The good thing about it was it was just few minutes away from the capital of the state. It was located in North Little Rock and it was called the Old Mill.

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The Old Mill

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Looks like a fairy tale land

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Just a lovely view

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The Garden

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Full bloom flowers

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Iron Grist Mill

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The Garden and the Stonebridge

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Stone Bridge

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Wild Duck

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The Old Mill is located at T.R Pugh Memorial Park. It was dedicated on August 6th, 1933 and is a replica of the abandoned water-powered grist mill that would have been used by the Arkansas pioneers in the 1800s. Although the Old Mill never operated as a mill, the iron grist mill on the first floor of the building is authentic and dates to 1828. It served the Cagle family of the Pope County for three generations. The developer who was Justin Matthews intended for the Old Mill to appear as the ruins of the bygone era supplanted by the modern methods. The Old Mill appeared in the opening credits of the 1939 movie, Gone With The Wind. The Old Mill was indeed like a fairy tale land. It was picture perfect with all the flowers in full bloom. The weather was also perfect when I got there. It was surely the highlight of my trip to Arkansas. But I was not then with my Arkansas trip yet.

The next destination was in the capital of the state, Little Rock. Little Rock was not as big of a city. By the name itself, it was pretty decent but it is a good thing. Little Rock was not as a hustling and bustling location. I got to see the Arkansas State Capitol.

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Arkansas State Capitol

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Arkansas State Capitol with the US and State flags

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The Capitol

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Street of Little Rock

Arkansas State Capitol is the main house of the government of the state. It is neoclassical architectural style with mixed classical revival. It has been added to the U.S National Register of Historic Places and as a scale replica of the US capitol. The capitol has frequently been used as a filming location. The exterior of the capitol is made of limestone which was quarried from Batesville, Arkansas. The front entrance doors are made of bronze. The state capitol is one of the nicest buildings within Little Rock.

After Arkansas State Capitol, I headed to a famous high school since it was mentioned in some of the sites to visit in Arkansas. I added it in my itinerary because I was already in Little Rock. I traveled and visited the Little Rock Central High School.

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Little Rock Central High School

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Front Entrance

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The Four Statues that represent Ambition, Personality, Opportunity, and Preparation

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Trees around the Little Rock Central High School

The Little Rock Central High School was built in 1927. It was known before as Little Rock Senior High School and was designed in the Gothic revival style. It was then hailed as the most expensive, most beautiful, and the largest high school in the nation. It has been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and named as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. I was there on a Sunday and spring break so, it wasn’t that busy and the whole school was like a deserted place which was perfect for picture taking.

I only toured around the capital of Arkansas and North Little Rock. I didn’t have time to go to the northwestern part of the state coz if I have ample time, I could have visited the hot springs up there. But my travel experience in the state was marvelous. I had fun sightseeing even there were just few locations. It was amazing and it still proved that the state is a Nature Perfect Arkansas.img_6140

Visiting Tennessee

I have a long time friend who has been wanting me to visit her in her new home location. I met her during our college days. It was a big coincidence that she also has the same birthdate as I do, we worked in the same company back in the Philippines and also in the Middle East, we also went to the same university, and even took our driving class together. We, basically, had the same fate. We came in the United States at the same month and now, we are calling each other as twins. She lives in Memphis and since I have a 6-day off from work, I have decided to finally meet her in our new home country and visiting Tennessee was also on my to-do list for the year.

I arrived in Memphis early morning by riding the Greyhound Bus Lines. My friend and I met in the bus station and took me for a ride within Memphis. We have visited some sights in Memphis and we have come up with a decision to spend a day in Nashville since the drive from Memphis to Nashville is about 3 hours.

On my first day in Tennessee, we visited the Memphis Pyramid.

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Memphis Pyramid

Memphis Pyramid or was known before as the Great American Pyramid and Pyramid Arena was originally built as an arena located in downtown Memphis. The structure plays the on Memphis’ namesake in Egypt and is the 10th tallest pyramid in the world. The Memphis Pyramid used to host sports and entertainment but was stopped and was converted to a megastore by Bass Pro Shops that has shopping, a hotel, restaurants, an archery range, and a bowling alley. But the most visited part of the pyramid is the outdoor observation deck at its apex. Unfortunately, we were too early that they were still closed.

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Memphis Pyramid is also a tracker boat center.

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Big Cypress Lodge

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Stag Display

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Welcome to Paradise

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Stores with a pond

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Stores with a pond

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Bear Display

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Wild Hogs on the loose

Second stop was a home of a famous singer, Elvis Presley. We went to Graceland.

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Welcome to Graceland

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Historic Landmark

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Elvis Presley’s Mansion

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Elvis’ Private Plane, Lisa Marie

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Street decor

Graceland is a mansion that was owned by Elvis Presley. It currently serves as a museum and the site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and a national landmark. Graceland has been the second most-visited house in the United States, second only to the White House. After we visited Graceland, we headed back home and called it a day.

Day 2 in Tennessee, my friend and I drove all the way from Memphis to Nashville. We left early at 5AM so we can cover a lot of nice places in downtown Nashville. We got to the capital of Tennessee at 8 in the morning and looked for a parking spot. We made sure to park near a tourist attraction and that was in Nashville Music City Center.

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Nashville Music City Center

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Nashville Music City Center is a convention complex located downtown. It was developed by Nashville Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. The music city center is ginormous, clean, spacious, and there are a lot of conference rooms. We got to the music center just to use the restroom, took a peek of what was going on and after that we left and headed to the next spot.

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Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

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Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the world’s largest museums and research centers dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the American music. It has also one of the most extensive musical collections in the world. We were only taking pictures outside the museum since my friend and I were not music fanatics at all. So we decided to skip seeing the gallery and ventured on our next destination which was just few blocks from the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Stix Sculpture

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Stix Sculpture is 70 feet tall and made up of 27 wooden poles. The poles are spaced in an irregular pattern throughout the surface area of the roundabout and the vertical degrees of the poles varies from 0-15 from the center axis. The poles were painted in stripes with different colors. Fifteen up-lights were embedded into the landscaping to light up the sculpture at night which results in a vibrant display of colors, light and shadow. This masterpiece was brought to reality by an artist named Christian Moeller. When we  got there, we weren’t amazed by the sculpture. It lack flavor but probably because it was in the morning were we can’t appreciate the lights and colors of the wooden poles. Hence, we walked forward and went to Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

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Frist Center for the Visual Arts

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Frist Center for the Visual Arts is an art museum. It is located right next to Union Station. The art museum has a wide gallery space, used to present visual arts from different artists. The Frist Center does not have a permanent collection, instead, the museum focuses on creating exhibitions from around the country and the world. We didn’t go inside the museum but went through the Union Station.

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Union Station Hotel Nashville

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Union Station Hotel Nashville was used to be a railroad terminal but now has been changed to a hotel. The look of the Union Station shows the architectural features and the details were just stunning. My friend and I walked on foot to our next tourist destination which was the Ryman Auditorium.

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Ryman Auditorium

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Ryman Auditorium or formerly known as Grand Ole Opry House and Union Gospel Tabernacle is owned and operated by Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. It hosts live performances and is the home of the Grand Ole Opry. The auditorium was included in the National Register of Historic Places and also designated as a National Historic Landmark as its role in country music popularity. There were a lot of tourists in the area so we just decided to go to our last but not the least destination, the Tennessee State Capitol.

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Tennessee State Capitol with Andrew Jackson statue

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Tennessee State Capitol

Tennessee State Capitol is the home of the state legislature and also the location of the governor’s office and is considered as a National Historic Landmark. The state capitol is one of Tennessee’s capital’s most prominent structure. In the state capitol, a monument of Andrew Jackson is at the left side of the capitol. Andrew Jackson was one of the country’s president.

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Andrew Jackson memorial statue

Our last stop was in Parthenon. It is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The Parthenon in Nashville serves as an art museum that stands as the centerpiece of Centennial Park and a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. This location has been a movie backdrop of some films such as the 1975 Nashville and 2010 Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. The Parthenon was a good tourist attraction but it lacks flavor. It was bland and was just a mere building but a perfect view for picture taking.

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Parthenon

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The remaining hours were spent walking around downtown Nashville and just enjoying the sights, the old buildings, and the scenes.

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Bridgestone Arena

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AT&T

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On my last day in Tennessee, we were back in Memphis. We just walked around Memphis and talked about how we were fascinated that we’ve come a long way just to achieve our dreams.

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Memphis Street Sign

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The Flag of the Nations and the Bell in downtown Memphis

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Mud Island River Park

We tried to go to the Mud Island River Park but they were closed for the season when we were there and re-opened on April 2nd week. Then, we headed to Harbor Town which was just on the other side of the river. We were killing time in Mississippi River Greenbelt.

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Mississippi River

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Mississippi River Greenbelt

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Apartments in Harbor Town

For my whole experience visiting Tennessee, it was superb. I got to see my dearest friend and spent traveling around the 2 most visited cities of the state, Memphis and Nashville. It was memorable and I just had a checkmark on my bucket list of sightseeing the Volunteer State.