A Friend I Haven’t Seen For 11 Years

A friend I haven’t seen for 11 years has been living in Washington, Georgia for 5-6 years. We used to be co-workers in a bank way back 2006. We were cream of the crop and excelled in all that we do. We became friends, more like close friends and everything we did was history. We were Washington Mutual’s telephone banker. Washington Mutual was one of the best financial institutions back in the old days but was bought by J.P Morgan Chase Bank during the global crisis back in 2007. I quit my job before it was completely handed to JPMC and went to my chosen profession. I haven’t seen her after that until she left to Georgia with her husband and son. We just kept in touch through social networking sites such as Facebook.

I drove from South Carolina to Washington, Georgia which was about 2-3 hours from Aiken. I arrived in Washington, Georgia at about 1000H. When I got out of the car, we were just so happy to see each other again and nothing has changed. We were still like the immature telephone bankers even though it has been a decade. We talked and talked about the people we used to work with, reminisced the experiences we had, and even tried to call some of our other friends online. The first day was filled with excitement in getting to know what we have been doing in our lives. She and her family offered to be the host of my trip and I am so glad. They offered the guest room and I took a quick nap from the long drive while she was planning for the itinerary for the afternoon and the next day trip.

I was taking a nap when my phone beeped. I got a message asking if I am ready to go swimming. They have decided to go to Washington Swimming Pool since their son wants to dip in the pool. It was almost 95 degrees in Georgia that day so, it was a good idea to dive in.

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Washington Swimming Pool

But I am not used to going swimming under the heat of the sun and it was also at 1300H so, I just stayed under the patio umbrella. We only let their son enjoy the pool while we were just talking and looking at kids having fun. After an hour or two, we left coz her husband has to work. At 1730H, we have decided to go to the mall. The nearest mall is Augusta Mall which is almost an hour drive.

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Augusta Mall

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Inside Augusta Mall

We only did window shopping and bought some snack for her unico hijo. 2 hours later, they took me to Augusta Canal Historical Trail. The trail is near Marriott Hotel and is good location for exercising.

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Augusta Canal Historical Trail

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Marriott Hotel

Augusta Canal is a historic canal located in Georgia, is supplied by the Savannah River and passes through levels in suburban and urban Augusta before the water returns to the river at various locations. It was devised to harness the hydro power at the fall line of the Savannah river to drive mills, to provide transportation of goods, and supply water in the municipal. It is the only canal in the United States which still continues to be used for its original purposes of providing power, transport and municipal water.

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Augusta Canal Historical Trail

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Augusta Canal

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Augusta Canal Viewdeck

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Augusta Canal

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Otters in Augusta Canal

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Jessye Norman Amphitheatre in Augusta Canal

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View of Downtown Augusta Skyline from Augusta Canal Trail

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Augusta Canal Trail Fountain

We left the trail at 1730H and headed home and called it a day. I went to sleep early from getting exhausted driving. On my second day in Georgia, they decided to show me to one of the famous amusement parks in Georgia. We went to Stone Mountain Park which is near Atlanta.

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Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock with carvings that depict three Confederate figures during the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. The theme park is located at 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083. It has a lot of activities and hosts festivals and events. To know more, just click here.

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Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis

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Stone Park Theme Park has attractions for all ages such as dinosaur explore, dinotorium, 4D Ice Age, Stone Mountain Museum, Summit SkyRide, Scenic Railroad, and many more.

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Dinosaur Explore

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Ankylosaurus or the Fused Lizard

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Parasaurolophus or the Similar Crested Lizard

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Dilophosaurus, the fast moving carnivore

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T-Rex

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The most famous dinosaur

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Dinotorium

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On our way to ride the train

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Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf

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Riding the train for the Scenic Railroad

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Live Show from the Scenic Railroad

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Stores at Stone Mountain Park

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Directions at Stone Mountain Park

We spent almost the whole day in Stone Mountain Park but we still missed the main attractions which were the Summit SkyRide, to get on top of the Stone Mountain and also the fireworks. The weather that day was not in our favor that the park has to cancel any attractions that has something to do with the sky. But I still had fun though. Then, we left Stone Mountain Park and discussed on where to dine for supper. We have decided to go something Asian, Korean to be precise, so, we went to Iron Factory in Athens, Georgia.

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Iron Factory

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Miso Soup

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Fresh Pork Belly or Samgyupsal

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Then, we went to explore Athens after eating.

My Georgia trip to meet my friend whom I haven’t seen for 11 years has been one of the highlights for this year. It was memorable and I can’t wait to do it again. We were planning of going on a trip somewhere and I hope it’ll come true. The whole experience was amazing even though it was just a quick visit for 2 days. Not to worry coz we have many more days to come and to have fun, for now, it’s not goodbye but see you next time.

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The Rivera Family and the Lone Traveler

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Meeting Caroline in North Carolina

A friend I met in Toronto, Canada during my birthday trip last year just arrived in the Land of Stars and Stripes. Her name is Caroline and the way to say her name is Ca-ro-li-ne and not Ca-ro-line. She is from Brazil and it is her first time to set foot in the United States. Upon hearing her arrival, I decided to visit her since I got a 6-day off and planned road trip down Southeastern. It was a trip in meeting Caroline in North Carolina.

I got a side trip in Virginia specifically in Wytheville, Wythe county. After a quick visit in Virginia, I automatically headed to North Carolina. While I was driving, I got a little exhausted and I have decided to make a stopover in Winston-Salem for a change of scenery from just seeing mostly the roads and cars. When I got in Winston-Salem, it was decent with some skyscrapers. I took some random street pictures and I got to see the buildings. These were the photos I captured.

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Random Building

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Wells Fargo Building

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Winston Tower

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Winston-Salem Street

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Then, I searched the net and found this cool and flowery destination. It was a garden which is located still in Winston-Salem. It was Reynolda Gardens.

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Reynolda Gardens

Reynolda Gardens is botanical garden with 129 acres with 4 acres of formal gardens located off Reynolda Road which is adjacent to the Reynolda campus of Wake Forest University and the Reynolda House. The gardens are open daily with free admission. The gardens include woodlands, fields, wetlands, and a formal garden with greenhouse.

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Greenhouse Gardens

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The Greenhouse

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Inside the Greenhouse

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Venus Fly Trap

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Palm House and Growing Houses

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Reynolda Gardens was amazing. It has too many different kinds of flowers and plants which is a good place to spend the time from driving for about 2 to 3 hours from Virginia. But Winston-Salem was not my final destination. I went back to my car and have to drive to Chapel Hill. It was about an hour or so drive. I got to Chapel Hill at 1700H and met Caroline.

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Downtown Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is a city in Durham and Orange counties and the home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with UNC Health Care. Chapel Hill got its name from centuries ago. The location sits a top of a hill which was originally occupied by a small Anglican ‘chapel of ease’ known as New Hope Chapel thus, making it Chapel Hill.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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UNC at Chapel Hill Kenan Stadium

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Carolina Football Kenan Stadium

Chapel Hill is a pretty nice city. It was clean and multi diverse. By the looks of it when I was there, the city is pretty safe and marvelous with old architecture and buildings. It is also famous because of the presence of the biggest university in the state. Caroline got in Chapel Hill as a foreign student in University of North Carolina. She is currently studying and getting a degree in Mental Health. We’ve met in Toronto since we both stayed in the same hostel. We also have the same tour when we went to Niagara Falls. So, I was excited to meet here in the U.S. I treated her for dinner at Carolina Brewery.

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Carolina Brewery

Carolina Brewery is a beer brewery and restaurant/pub located in Chapel Hill. It has drawn international attention for its handcrafted beers, all brewed in-house. It was founded in 1995 and is the oldest brewery in Triangle area. The restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine and features a seasonal menu that changes 4 times in a year. We ordered Southwest chicken egg rolls which is chicken and pepperjack served with jalapeno ranch, and Chicken strips which is hard breaded chicken with honey mustard and ranch dips. Both were served as shareables. For the entrée, I chose fish and chips since I was craving for fish. It was beer battered cod served with garden slaw, house fried and tartar sauce.

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Carolina Brewery

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Southwest Chicken Egg Rolls and Chicken Strips

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Fish and Chips

The foods were well seasoned, sumptuous, and delicious. The server was really amazing. She was pretty, always wear a smile, warm and accommodating. She was also helpful since I was looking for a place to stay and gave an idea on where to search and what to wear. As a total verdict for my dining experience in Carolina Brewery, it was a 4/5. The ambience was good but the patio was a little congested and near to the street.

My whole trip in North Carolina was great. Meeting Caroline in North Carolina was the icing on the top. We haven’t seen each other for like 9 months and we never thought that we will meet again. All I can say is a road trip is always worth no matter how far it is as long as you know that in the destination, you got a friend to meet. Safe travels everyone! 😉

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The Lone Traveler and Caroline

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

IATA Code: CUN – Aeropuerto Internacional de Cancún

International Air Transport Association (IATALocation Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.Flag_of_Mexico.svg

Cancún is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and for it to be accessed by tourists, it has to have a great hub. Cancún International Airport or IATA Code: CUN serves the purpose of that. It is considered an international airport with flights from/ to other parts of Mexico and the world.

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IATA Code: MSP – Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATALocation Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.800px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

MSP or known as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is an international airport hub located in the state of Minnesota. I got a couple of hours of layover in the said airport and I was able to explore a little part of it.

I was in Terminal 1-Lindbergh. In MSP airport, there are two terminals, Lindbergh and Humphrey. These terminals are in separate roadways but are connected by Inter-terminal transportation via Light Rail Transit (LRT) service. The trains run between these terminals round the clock, 24/7. Travelers should know what airlines go to what terminal. As for Delta airlines heading to Cancún, it was in Terminal 1.

As I was wandering around the departure area, I could really say that the airport is a little spacious. It has 7 concourses and can be accessed either utilising the walkway or the tram. MSP serves a lot of flights both domestic and international.
If you are starving, there are really good restaurants within the airport. Big food/ coffee chains such as Burger King, Starbucks and some local cafés are everywhere. Souvenir stores, duty free and so much more are scattered in every concourses that travelers won’t miss them.
If only I have sufficient time during my layover, I could have tried some Minnesotan’s dishes. Well anyway, I took a photo of a famous dog in movies and cartoon sketches and that is Snoopy. It was eye-catching when I was just looking around the airport.I was just all over the airport just for me to see some of the places within terminal 1. Instead of riding the tram to get to my boarding gate which was in different concourse, I tried to walk it and took these photos.

MSP Travelator

I was heading to my boarding gate for my next flight and it took me about 30 mins to get there due to some stops and photo snatching I’ve been doing.

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Walkway in between concourses

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View outside the boarding gate

All I can say about Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is it is a great airport.  It maybe way up north of the country but the place and vibe is warm and accommodating. Travelers like me won’t starve and will always be comfortable whatever the season it may be. To check the airport thoroughly, you can visit their site by clicking here.

Back to Blogging

It has been quite a cold and lazy winter for me. I haven’t written or done anything at all and never in my life thought that I can be this non-productive. I felt like I hibernated for a couple of months. But anyway, I am back to blogging which is good. I finally dragged my chair, sat down and wrote a blog post for the year.

To start off, I eventually had some road trips while I was being lazy. I just didn’t have the motivation to write about it. I was all over the southeastern and northeastern part of the state of Ohio. I confessed that I am a traveler and you can’t keep a traveler in one area. Here are the road trips I had gone through during the winter season.

  1. Fort Laurens Museum and Park

I was hyped to do some history tracing so, I have decided to start by exploring some museum and park. Fort Laurens Museum and Park is located in Tuscarawas county near the town of Bolivar. It was an American revolutionary war fort. This fort was built by Gen. Lachlan McIntosh  in 1778 on the west bank of the Tuscarawas River as a staging point for an attack against the British garrison at Detroit. But due to the conditions at the fort were harsh during the winter, they have decided to remove most of the American forces to another fort. Fort Laurens was the only fort built in the state of Ohio during the Revolutionary War and the museum has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

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Wooden Cottage

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Stone Cottage

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Information scattered around the museum

The whole museum is equipped with information related to the past and history of the fort. Not only that, it is also a park with cottages where you can have picnics, a hiking and bike trail.

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Then I went to another park but this time it was in Massillon. I was in Jackson Community Park. The park has a Blue Star Memorial as a tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the country.

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Blue Star Memorial

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Gazebo

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The Lake

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On the way to the baseball court

The park is amazing. There are a lot of activities for people of all ages. The park has an excellent run and walk path, an accessible playground for the kids, restrooms and water fountains. It has spacious parking lots, gazebos to rest, sport courts such as baseball and soccer, a beautiful lake and a friendly neighborhood.

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I decided to try and go to a country club. I stopped by at Portage Country Club in Akron. Portage Country Club is rich in tradition and has been established in 1894. The club has a lot of facilities for members. Facilities and services such as golf, tennis, swimming and dining experiences even catering.

4. Silver Springs Parkimg_5833Next to my destination was at Silver Springs Park. Silver Springs Park is located in Stow. The City has been providing outdoor recreational activities to visitors.

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Picnic Shelter

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Park Lodge

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Soccer Field near Parking Lot

The park has a spacious lodge parking, a swimming area, picnic shelters and area, and playground. It also has a wide soccer field near the parking area.

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I was still in Stow when I got side tracked and drove to Hudson Springs Park. It is a large park with a huge lake for fishing, with walking path and pavilions.img_5840

Hudson Springs Park provides a wide range of activities. The huge lake is inhabited with bass and bluegill fishes. The meadows and woods have wildlife that include geese, ducks, deers, owls, hawks, herons and even foxes. It has 3 picnic pavilions, volleyball, a playground, and a hedge maze for kids.

6. Great Lakes Science Centerimg_5740

It is located at North Coast Harbor in downtown Cleveland. Great Lakes Science Center is a museum and an educational facility for people of all ages. The museum features many exhibits and supports STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

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View infront of the Science Center, the Cleveland skyline

The facility includes signature and traveling exhibits, meeting space, a cafe, and an IMAX Dome theatre. The Science Center is home to the NASA  Glenn Visitor Center, one of the 11 such visitor centers in the United States. The facility provides science tours to students and guests.

7. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museumimg_5761

Right beside the Great Lakes Science Center is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It is located in the shore of Lake Erie. It has been established to recognise and archive the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have major influence on rock and roll development.

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Different view of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

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Different view of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

It has different levels in the building. Most of the exhibits in every levels feature the roots of rock and roll and its major impact to cities around the world. After my visit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I headed back home since it was getting late and the drive from downtown Cleveland to my place is about 2 hours and a half.

To top it all off, now that I’m back to blogging. It’s time for me to travel the world again. Due to blogging, it has put my life in constant move. Making it a little less stressful is a way for me to survive my stay here alone and from this view taken at work in Marietta.img_5793