Where Learning Goes Underground

I was in Maryland when I got lost and drove aimlessly, little did I notice that I was already in Pennsylvania after my GPS from my car announced and welcomed me to the state from Maryland. Then, I saw the signage on the side of the road and it read Laurel Caverns. I was drawn to it and at that time, I have decided to come and see what’s in it for me. It was almost an hour and a half drive from Oakland, Maryland. I arrived at Laurel Caverns at 1430H. Parking is free and I went inside the visitor center and took one of the brochures and I got a little excited since I really didn’t know what to expect. I found out that Laurel Caverns is Pennsylvania’s largest cave. I went to find the staff and asked what they offer and told me about a tour in the cave. I automatically said, ‘sign me in for the tour where learning goes underground.’pa02

Laurel Caverns as I mentioned is Pennsylvania’s largest cave located in route 40 east of Uniontown. For travelers to get to Laurel Caverns, just put this address in GPS: 101 Skyline Drive, Farmington, PA 15437 that will get to the intersection of Skyline Drive and Route 40. It has Norman E. Cale Visitor’s Center which serves as a souvenir shop, tour meeting point, snack area, restrooms and changing rooms for caving gear.pa01

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Laurel Caverns Postcards

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Souvenir Shop

Laurel Caverns offers 4 tours, namely the traditional one hour tour, upper caving tours, lower caving tours and half-day and all-day educational tour. I chose the traditional one hour tour. Admission fee costs USD12 for adult. For more information about the cavern, visit this site at www.laurelcaverns.com.

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Cave Bats Entrance

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Hall of the Mountain King

I took the one hour tour for the reason that I don’t have the whole day to explore the cave and I’m not a certified cave explorer. Anyway, the traditional one hour tour is the most popular since it is suitable for all ages. It has a guide and tour starts every 20 minutes with the last tour of the day enters the cave at 1630H. This tour is not advisable though for schools and large groups wanting a private guide. That’s the reason they have the half-day and all-day educational programs which include rappelling classes, cave study excursions, BSA and GSA speleology, geology and forestry patches, badges and pins. But visitors need to call in ahead because this tour is only available every Saturday and other days by special arrangements.

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Tour with the guide

The traditional tour lasts about 55 minutes seeing Laurel Caverns as a natural cave which follows the natural slope of the mountain. The tour may be strenuous for some. The cave temperature is 52 degrees Fahrenheit year round so, a sweater or jacket should be worn. Non-slippery shoes are also important and never wear high heels to a cave. These are the photos I captured when I was down in the cave, spelunking.pa07pa08pa09pa10pa11pa12pa13pa14pa15pa16pa17pa19pa20The whole cave experience was amazing. I used to visit caves back in the Philippines and the Middle East but Laurel Caverns has been made accessible and more of a touristy vibe with the colorful lights. With the aid of the guide, cave explorers like me were able to navigate the different routes in the cave and were able to get important information and history as we go along with the tour. Indeed, Laurel Caverns is where learning goes underground.

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.

 

Not So Windy After All

Chicago has been named as the Windy City in the state of Illinois. It might be due to its location which is up north and near Lake Michigan. Aside from being a windy city, this city has served an important part of my life. I came in the United States a year ago and Chicago was my port of entry. It was memorable and this city will always give me happiness in my life. It is considered the door to fulfilling my every dream.

After a year, I have decided to come and see what is within the city since the first time I sat foot in Chicago, I only stayed in the airport at O’Hare International Airport. I traveled from Caldwell, Ohio to Alliance, Ohio since the latter is the only nearest access to the train station. Alliance has an AmTrak station that serves Capitol Limited route. Capitol Limited route runs from Chicago, IL to Washington, D.C passing thru stops in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was my second time to ride AmTrak and I chose it because it was convenient and comfortable than riding a bus. The trip also took about almost 8 hours as compared to interstate buses that’ll take 12 hours or more. Anyway, I have arrived in Union Station in Chicago at 0800H. The ride was smooth and I got few hours of sleep. I went out the station to see the streets of Chicago. I was expecting it will be amazing since I’ve been to New York City three times so, I envisioned it to be like the Big Apple. I was not mistaken. Skyscrapers were visible with matching bumper to bumper traffic. But I was still astounded because it’s not everyday I got to see a busy street of the U.S since I live in a small town in a southeastern part of Ohio. I did decided to snap a lot of street pictures.20160826_16562220160826_104402
One of the many reasons why I wanted to visit the city again is also to meet a friend whom I’ve known online for over a year. I haven’t met him in person so, we have come up with an idea to finally meet since I got Chicago listed as one of the cities to travel. I met him and his family the next day and I was so glad to finally see them eye to eye. They were hospitable, accommodating and lovely people. They also offered to show me around the city. Since my friend is still taking up his Masters course in Roosevelt University, he invited me to tour around the university campus first and meet some of his cool and awesome music lover friends. I got the opportunity to introduce myself and know some of them.

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Roosevelt University

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View outside Roosevelt University

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A Serbian friend/ student playing the piano

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Roosevelt University students/friends and family: (L to R) Allison, Justine, me, Artem’s family Mark, and Tanya and Artem

After the university tour, we headed out to the street. While walking within the busy street of Chicago, never had I known that the city is also famous for its architectures, theaters, music and more. Thus, giving me ideas to explore more locations within the city.  The first stop was the ever famous Cloud Gate or widely known as The Bean.

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Cloud Gate

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Cloud Gate or The Bean

Cloud Gate or The Bean is a public sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor which has been the centerpiece of AT&T  Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of downtown Chicago, Illinois. It has been nicknamed The Bean because of its shape. It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, it is highly polished with no visible seams. Cloud Gate has gained popularity both domestically and internationally and is one of the most photographed attractions in Chicago.

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Cloud Gate and the reflections

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At the underside is the “omphalos” (Greek for “navel”), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections

Few walks from the Cloud Gate is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or the Pritzker Music Pavilion.

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Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Great Lawn

This music pavilion is a bandshell in Millennium Park. It was named after Jay Pritzker whose family is known for owning the Hyatt Hotels. It is the centerpiece of the Millennium Park and is the nation’s only remaining free outdoor classical music series.

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The Stage

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People rehearsing and preparing the music pavilion for an evening show

We, then, headed to the Crown Fountain which is just beside the Cloud Gate.

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Crown Fountain

It is interactive work of public art and video sculpture also featured in Millennium Park. The fountain is composed of black granite reflecting pool placed in a pair of black glass towers. Both towers has LED to display digital videos and spouting through a nozzle on each tower’s front face.

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The other brick tower

We visited most of the tourist attractions in Millennium Park and we have decided to grab a bite before heading to our next destination. My friend suggested to try Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

When we got our tummy filled, we headed back to the streets and visited more tourist spots. Next on the list was the Buckingham Fountain but before we can even get there, we passed thru interesting and attention seeking sculptures such as:

Daphne

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Daphne by Dessa Kirk

Daphne is a sculpture by Dessa Kirk and is found in Congress Triangle Park. It is a Greek mythology figure who was transformed into a plant or tree so the she wouldn’t be captured.

Equestrian Indians The Bowman and The Spearman

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The Bowman by Ivan Mestrovic

If you happen to be wandering in the Congress Plaza, you will see this powerful male figure on horseback providing an idealised portrayal of Indian Americans and we got to see this on our way to the Buckingham Fountain. The artist Ivan Mestrovic who was a Croatian sculptor had built the equestrian Indians to commemorate the tribes that once roamed the Illinois prairies.

Artists and Automobiles

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Enormous Red Lily by Dessa Kirk

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Hedgerow by Lucy Slivinski

In 2006, AllState Insurance Company sponsored the Artists and Automobiles exhibit and provided old car parts that the sculptors used to create the artworks. Only three  works of sculptor artists remained in Grant Park. The enormous red lilies by Dessa Kirk which are made of doors, hoods, trunks and roofs from several Cadillacs. Lucy Slivinski’s Hedgerow is a garden feature composed of entwined mufflers, tailpipes, and headlights.

Flamingo

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Flamingo by Alexander Calder

This work of art is not located near the Buckingham Fountain but I’ll just add it up here since I was roaming the Federal Plaza alone just to see this sculpture. It is the Flamingo created by Alexander Calder. It is composed of steel and is vermilion in color. Calder gave the stabile its color as ‘calder red’ to offset it from the black and steel surroundings of nearby office buildings.

We got to see a lot of  artworks on our way to the fountain and after about 30 mins, we got to Buckingham Fountain.

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Buckingham Fountain

It is a Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park. It is one of the largest fountains in the world and was built in a rococo wedding cake style. Buckingham Fountain also has water and light shows and has visited frequently by tourists and locals alike.

Just a street away is the Chicago Lakefront Trail.20160826_20095020160826_202240img_4873-1

The trail is considered a foreshoreway for walking and cycling along the coast of Lake Michigan. The trail connects various beaches and recreational amenities located along the lakefront and also serves as a route for bicycle commuters. There are also attractions along the path such as the Museum of Science and Industry, Monroe Harbor, Belmont Harbor, Soldier Field, John Shedd Aquarium and more.

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John Shedd Aquarium

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Chicago Lakefront Trail view from the Shedd Aquarium

After seeing the aquarium, my newly met friends and I have decided to separate trails since I have other friends to meet. My batch-mate who works in Chicago has decided Navy Pier as our rendezvous point. It was a decent walk/ exercise from the lakefront trail all the way to Navy Pier. The walk took about almost an hour but it was worth it since I haven’t seen this school friend for almost 10 years after we graduated from our university. We dined in at Margaritaville Restaurant in Navy Pier, reminiscing about our school years and we have also decided to ride the Centennial Wheel which I paid US$15 just to see the Chicago skyline at night.

We spent almost 3 hours just having fun and it was almost 2200H that we called it a night. Since my friend lives near the Navy Pier, she showed me where she was staying and got the clear view of Chicago skyline. It was perfect. She lives in an apartment where I dream of living in the future and I have thought of looking for a possibility of moving there once I’m done serving my contract in Ohio.

The next few days, I had my self-guided tours thru the help of Booking.com travel guides. I have decided to do some shopping in famous Fashion street in Chicago and also tried the Chicago Riverwalk.20160826_09365420160826_09382520160826_10011620160826_10222920160826_10230820160826_10485620160826_105714My whole Chicago trip was a blast. It may be named as a Windy City but it was not windy after all. Chicago welcomed me warmly and I got to meet a lot of really nice people.

Check my YouTube channel and my vlog about Chicago’s Not So Windy After All.

The District

Washington, D.C is the capital of the United States of America. It is famous and most visited city in the country and probably in the world, too. It is located in the East Coast and is commonly referred to as Washington, D.C or ‘The District’. Per wiki, ‘The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any U.S. state.’ The District is made up of land donated by the states of Maryland and Virginia and is the centre of all three branches of federal government of the United States, the President, Congress and Supreme Court.

One day, I’ve dreamed of visiting the District and never had I realise that it will come true. I have decided to go to the District to have my passport renewed. After I did what I needed to do, I was free to explore DC. I just wandered around and got to see a lot of very beautiful places.20151008_133827

The Treasury Department

The Treasury Department

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Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Executive Office Building

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World War I Memorial

World War I Memorial

Victory Statue in World War I Memorial

Victory Statue in World War I Memorial

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White House

White House

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Washington Monument

Washington Monument

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Enid A. Haupt Garden

Enid A. Haupt Garden

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National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art

The Capitol

The Capitol

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

Washington Monument with the Capitol

Washington Monument with the Capitol

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Jefferson Memorial in Tidal Basin

Jefferson Memorial in Tidal Basin

Ronald Reagan Building and International World Trade Centre

Ronald Reagan Building and International World Trade Centre

Farragut Square

Farragut Square

Dupont Circle Station

Dupont Circle Station

There are still more places to see in Washington, DC but since I got only 2 days so, I stick on following the tourist attraction path. There might be a big possibility of me going back to The District next year and if that happens, then, I’ll be exploring the capital.

To sum it up, my trip was really short. I never had the chance to really look up on all the details, history, and I just did take my camera and took some shots without knowing the story behind those buildings, memorial halls, and streets. Yet still, I love spending my time in The District.

Out-of-State Travel

Traveling interstate for me is difficult for many reasons:
1st, I just got into driving recently and I’m not that confident to drive to other state;
2nd, Routes and unfamiliar roads make me more nervous;
and lastly, Different type of drivers gather in one road and I’m one of the reckless category.

So, I ended up getting into a bus for my trip from Cambridge, OH to Washington DC. I’ve searched thru the net on what buses have routes going to the capital of the country. I found the Greyhound Line, Inc and purchased a round trip ticket. The ticket costs about $166 but if I have purchased it more earlier, it would have cost lesser. Check their site, here. Continue reading

On Its 5th This 2015

If you have been following my blog, well, I have started blogging last 2010 in a small district in Tagbilaran City. It commenced on the 17th of October and I never thought that I’ll get this far. It began when I was reading other blogs and I have decided to make my own blogsite. Setting up the objective and purpose of the blog was hard but since my point of interest is into traveling, thus, I have featured my travels here and there. I have titled it, THE LONE TRAVELER. I do travel alone. It’s difficult but it’s fun.

Through this blog, I was able to see other parts of the world. I got to experience other cultures firsthand. I was able to help other people by giving information by the use of this blog. I got also a ticket to be featured in a local show in the Philippines but it didn’t happen anyway since I was abroad exploring.

At the beginning, I only had like a hundred of followers and readers on my first year, then, it went up and received a lot of traffics these past years. I’ve got followers who even inspire me to write more and they’ve been counting and looking for my next post. I am so grateful for everyone who visited my site.

On its 5th anniversary this 2015, I have decided to go the capital of the country where I’m at before winter comes. It would be my first out-of-state travel alone, thus, I’ve been researching on what to do. I’ve been asking also a lot of people and I’ve visited places to get idea for my trip to be a success.  I did spend most of my time planning and so far, the web has been of great help providing me all major key points and even minute details.

I did find out these very helpful information and I am also giving it out for everyone who wants to travel in the United States:

Greyhound Line, Inc – check their site and you will find their location and what states they are providing transportation service.

Greyhound Line, Inc contact details

Greyhound Line, Inc contact details

Barons Bus Lines – is also a bus company but serves most of the cities, towns and counties within the state of Ohio and some neighboring states such as Maryland, West  Virginia and Pennsylvania. They work hand in hand with Greyhound Line, Inc.

Both of these bus line companies you can purchase your ticket online. Once you have your ticket printed, you can head to the bus station stated on their website. Mine is in Cambridge and I got to see this.

Cambridge County Courthouse

Cambridge County Courthouse

Booking.com – I’ve been using this site for quite some time from my trip when I was still in the Middle East to my Southeast Asian tour. It has been very useful for me to find the most affordable hotel to stay.

Maps.ME – is an offline GPS tool which I have installed in my phone way back long time ago. It has been my partner when traveling to unfamiliar locations and with its help, I never had the time to get lost. It is detailed and updates are constantly generated.

With all the help I got from these sites and application, my 5th anniversary trip won’t be so terrifying and my anxiety level will not be that high since I have a clue of what I am doing. So for my fellow travelers, it is best to be always ready and to have a knowledge and idea before embarking on your new journey. I know it is an adventure to get lost and walked on a roadless track but if you have limited time, then, getting lost is not an option. Just be safe always.

P.S. I’ll be posting my journey in a few days time.