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Up the East Coast

July 5, 2013, 1 Comment

I love to travel!! If I could, I would travel the world!!! (I know I will…eventually!)

So this summer I was able to do an awesome vacation trip which had multiple purposes. 1- my graduation, 2- spend time with family and friends and 3- Niagara Falls.

We decided to drive up the East Coast, starting in Clearwater, Florida all the way up to Niagara Falls. You can do this road trip in less than a week, but we took our time to check out a lot of different things on the way, a LOT of fun. Here’s a break down of our almost two weeks, pictures and suggestions on what you MUST check out if you guys ever decide to do this kind of trip, or if you’re ever in the areas we were.

Savannah, GA

So, our first Stop was Savannah, GA. It was about a 5 hour drive from Clearwater, and we pretty much drove straight – no stopping- that means I did the driving that day!! The reason to stop at Savannah was for my Master’s degree graduation (you can read a bit about it here) We didn’t really do much sight seeing in Savannah as our focus was graduation, and we had some car problems that NEEDED to get fix in order to continue the long journey ahead of us. What I can say about Savannah, is that I really liked the old, colonial-style architecture downtown it feels very southern. I would’ve loved to look around more…maybe next time!

Richmond, VA

After graduation on Saturday we headed towards Richmond, Virginia -an old hometown of mine (I spend my high school and early college years here- lots of good memories). The idea was to visit old friends which is always awesome!! My dad did stop at a couple of the Civil War Reenactment parks around the Petersburg and Fort Lee area. Check this out:

Drewry's Field turtle This is Drewry’s Bluff, located in northeastern Chesterfield County, Virginia in the United States. It was the site of Confederate Fort Darling during the American Civil War. It was named for a local landowner, Confederate Captain Augustus H. Drewry. The photo was taken by my dad William Cortes (please do not use without consent). He also made a friend while he was there…

movie-tavernWe also had a chill day in Richmond with old friends and went to this really cool theater. It had a concept I had never seen before. It’s called Movie Tavern and they’re sort of like a restaurant/pub where you get to see a movie! So you can order all sorts of food (and to my surprise they were pretty good) and take in to the theater to eat while you watch a movie. Because of that, the setup within the theater is a lot different than what I’ve seen before. When you first walk it sort of feels like a big conference room with long tables and office chairs that roll!!! How awesome is that?! Yeah, we were like kids twirling in our chairs! jajajaja It was a lot of fun. If you’ve never been to one, check out their site there might be some around your area. Take enough $$$, the food can be a little pricey, but nothing too bad.

Washington D.C.

After Richmond we headed about 2 hours north to Washington D.C. It’s unbelievable that I lived in Virginia so many years and never really took the time to go and see all the museums and memorials. There’s a LOT to do and see in Washington D.C. I wish we had more time but we did a LOT within the time we were there. We got to see almost all the Memorials (Lincoln, Vietnam War, Korean War, WWI & WWII, Washington, etc.). We also got to see the Arlington Cemetery – is was very touching, specially going to the tomb of the unknown soldier. I was very impress with the respect and honor the Army guards show, and if anyone is talking, or being disrespectful they’ll call your attention.

Washington Memorial & Lincoln Memorial World War II Memorial Korean War, Vietnam War Memorial & Woman's Honor Memorial

World War II Memorial Atlantic Side Lincoln Memorial Arlington Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Now, Washington D.C. has a lot of museums, a lot!! Me and my dad are the type to read everything in the museums, so we end up staying hours long just reading and looking at all the little details in the exhibitions. One of the museums I was most looking forward to see was the Holocaust Museum. It’s a bit hard to find words to express just how impressive this museum is. It’s impossible for you to leave the museum without being moved to tears, and I’ll admit a bit of anger and unbelief that such a thing truly did happen. The museum is big, and has a lot of information and exhibitions that will leave you speechless. There’s one area where they have many shoes and the feeling in the air, the smell, everything just makes you feel like if you were there. It’s very hard to believe that such a thing could happen. Definitely go!! It’s a must do. We need to learn from the past and not let such things happen again!!

The National Mall is one with so many museums!! Unfortunately we weren’t able to go to every single one. We did go to the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. WOW. There’s so much to do and read at both museums. A lot of interactive exhibitions. There simply wasn’t enough time. I really loved both of them. I specially liked the space exhibitions at the Air and Space Museum and the Wrights Brothers exhibition. A lot of history and information. Very cool! I felt like a kid looking at all the airplanes and space stuff in simple awe. Truly a remarkable site. You will learn a lot.

Air and Space Museum & Natural History Museum Air and Space Museum White House

Of course we can’t go to Washington D.C. and not see the U.S. Capitol and the White House. BEWARE: You can’t really drive up next to the white house, a lot of the streets are closed around it, and of course there’s a lot of security, but you can walk to it.

Our last day in Washington D.C. we went to one of the newest museum that is all about news and media, The Newseum. As many of you know I’m a graphic designer as well as a web designer, so I work with the media, which made this museum all the more appealing to me. I loved the setup and how they help you do a self guided tour, very neat. There’s a Berlin Wall exhibition with actual sections of the Berlin Wall, and it had a lot of information that I personally didn’t know. They had a temporary exhibition on the Kennedy’s and the FBI’s most wanted and all in how the media was used to influence or help catch some bad guys and elect the president. Very interesting stuff. I really liked all the news articles and the role of the media in important events such as the wars, presidential campaigns, and so much more. They have a lot of information, and pretty much all their exhibitions are interactive. Another that really moved me was the 9/11 exhibition. It’s something that’s still so fresh in my memory that I couldn’t stop myself from crying and just sit there in unbelief watching and reliving the footage of what happen on that day. On a side note about this museum, their food is really good! A bit on the pricey side, but very yummy and high quality which is a plus, specially if you’re going to be there the whole day! So that was it for Washington D.C. I really wish we had more time to see all the other museums, but I ca’t complain, I had a blast.

Sight & Sound: NoahLancaster, PA

So after a few days filled with lots of information and walking, it was time for something more relax. We headed to Lancaster, PA – Amish Country. Talk about relax!! The smell of country and cows! jajajaja Now, the only reason for this stop was Sight & Sound. A lot of you may not be familiar with them, it’s a theater. Each year they have a play/show where they bring to life different stories of the Bible. I had the opportunity to see Daniel in the Lion’s Den back in the early 2000 and I loved it. I was very much looking forward to seing another of their shows. Now I believe they are the best plays of Stories of the Bible that I’ve seen in my life! And I’m talking comparable to a Broadway show. FYI- yes I’ve seen a couple of broadway shows (Wicked & Lion King) and Sight & Sound is at that level with amazing music, costumes, stage design, acting and so much. It’s so worth the trip! This year they’re playing Noah which tells the story of Noah and the great flood. I loved it. I decided to purchase the DVD of all the plays they have available, and I feel the need to return every year just to watch each play. If you’re ever in the area, definitely go!! Heck, even if you’re not in the area, make a detour and stop at Lancaster, PA and watch one of the shows. Plan ahead of time so you can get the best possible seats- it’s all the same price, but the earlier you get your ticket the better seat you’ll have. They also honor military discount, so take advantage of that!! 🙂

Niagara Falls, NY (and Canada)

What can I say about Niagara Falls? It’s simply breathtaking!! Now while on our way to Niagara Falls, the weather wasn’t really cooperating with us, it was foggy and very rainy. We first went to the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. There’s a “park” area where you can see the falls. It’s was so foggy!! But thankfully it lifted a couple of moments and I got to see the falls in all their glory and splendor. I tell you, it’s impossible for you to see these marvelous natural wonders and not believe there’s a God. Breathtaking. Now, I have to give props to the Canadians… as night started to fall the Canadian side started putting spot lights on the falls which would vary the colors from time to time, so we decided to go to the Canadian side. It’s pretty cool!! They had live music, and did a firework show, and the Falls looked AWESOME!!! If you ever go to Niagara Falls you MUST go to the Canadian side!! You won’t regret it. I truly loved it. Here are some shots:

Niagara Falls Day time Niagara Falls Night Time- Canadian side

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Here’s a short video clip of Niagara Falls (see it on vimeo)

Atlanta, GA

So, it was time to head back home to Clearwater, but not before making a stop on the way in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta is the home of Coca-cola and the Atlanta Aquarium (the bigest in the world- according to them). We went to the World of Coca-cola. Now I must tell you, although it’s been over a year since I stopped drinking coke (which I use to drink like it was water!!)- as a designer, I LOVE Coca-cola’s advertising campaigns. I think they have some of the most creative people working in their team and I simply love all the memorabilia and ads about Coca-cola. That means that The World of Coca-cola was like a little walk in heaven for me. It’s so awesome! They have so many collectible items showcased and a lot of history as well as old advertising. I really enjoyed reading about the company’s history and evolution. I really felt like a kid at a candy store! So much to look at, read and experience. I loved their “taste bar.”  They had every type of soda and mix from many different countries- yes, I tried them all! Some were really good, some were really nasty, and others were surprisingly tasteful. It was a lot of fun. Don’t think twice about checking it out, specially if you’re a Coca-cola fan. Pepsi fans please stay away!! jejeje

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  Last stop on our Road Trip: The Georgia Aquarium. Now last year I got to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and it’s a really nice aquarium- one of the tops in the US, and of course I’ve been to Sea World and Busch Garden, so another aquarium…how much better or different can it be? The answer, it can! Now mind you, this is already the last day of our trip, we are exhausted, ready to go home. In fact, me and my mom had even thought of skipping it and convincing my dad to just go home…I’m so glad we didn’t!! The aquarium is beautiful!! I love how it’s organized in different sections and all the variety of sea life it has as well as the information on each to educate about the species and so forth. When you first walk in you’re surrounded by large tanks of fish with a very welcoming lighting which leads you to the main “hall.” From there you can choose which exhibition to go to. All of them are amazing! I specially loved the really big tank which houses the Whale Sharks and Manta Rays as well as many other large fish. I’ll confess I was totally like a small child discovering something for the first time. It was so breathtaking and awe inspiring…I kept telling my mom “look at this, look at that, wow.” jajajaja It really was awesome!!! But wait there’s more….really! So, not only do they have all the awesome exhibitions, they also have a dolphin show! And I’m talking a Dolphin Show comparable to a show in Sea World!! It had some really cool special effects, good music, and a sweet story line. Plus, who doesn’t love anything with Dolphins??! The Georgia Aquarium is definitely another stop you must make at least once in your lifetime, specially if you have kids (or feel like a kid! 😉 )

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So that pretty much sums up this year’s Road Trip adventure! It was a lot of fun. But the best part was getting to go to all this places with my parents. They’re a blast!

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1 Comment

  • Reply William Cortes July 6, 2013 at 4:19 am

    Thanks for sharing this tremendous experience, we are so glad to have been part of this. Who knows what the next adventure will be!

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