Birthday trip to Philly

Last year I decided to spend my birthday in Philadelphia. I wanted to see the sights as well as checking out a Broken Bells concert. I had never been to Philly but had heard so many great things about it. It was a lot of fun and there was so much to see!

As usual, we got in late Friday night. We spent the night at an airbnb. In the morning our first stop was Reading Terminal Market. I had great food there and I had an incredible smoothie. We also got some candy. I could have spent hours in here! There was so much to see and eat!

After a late breakfast we did our obligatory stop at the Liberty Bell & Independence Hall. I honestly thought it would be boring but it was actually pretty fascinating. I learned a lot and it was a beautiful place to walk around.

US Mint was fairly close by so we took a walk over but sadly it was closed. I think it would be pretty cool to see money get made. Hopefully I can go in the future.

Among our obligatory stops in Philly was none other than Rocky’s Road. I saw the Rocky movies when I was very young and don’t remember much of it but it was still cool to see where a world famous movie scene took place and what a beautiful view!

Elfreth’s Ally is one of the oldest roads in the United States. It dates back to 1702 and “As of 2012, there are 32 houses on the street, which were built between 1728 and 1836.” (according to wikipedia).

Elfreth’s Alley is a short walk but worth going to. Though it is only a 5 minute walk, I think we stayed close to 30 minutes just walking back and forth. It was just so stunning.

Once we got our fill of the oldest road, we headed to Edgar Allen Poe Historical Site. They say Poe lived in this house for a while and it inspired some of his most famous works. It was definitely a neat spot to check out.

We also went to Mutter Museum which was a trip! I have no pictures from here because we weren’t allowed to take them (lame!) but trust me when I tell you that it was worth the trip! “America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter Museum displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a nineteenth-century “cabinet museum” setting.” You will see crazy things here that you may have never even thought of. We spent hours here. It was so fascinating.

Our final stop in Philly was none other than the Magic Gardens. This is a truly magical place and my favorite out of everywhere we went! I just couldn’t believe my eyes. There was so much beauty! I was amazed! Totally recommend!

Something I loved about Philly was all of the murals and street art! Every piece was unique in it’s own way. I was fascinated by each art work and spent a considerable amount of time in front of each. Pictures don’t do it justice. Art was everywhere and it was all breathtaking! The murals make this city beautiful and unique.

I loved Philly and can’t wait to go again! We saw a lot in two days but I know there is so much more to discover!

Virginia Weekend

I went to Virginia last summer to work toward my goal of seeing all 50 states. We went for 2 days. I had always heard amazing things about Virginia Beach so I was excited. Well I lived in Florida for some time so I should have known it wasn’t going to float my boat. I was not too impressed with Virginia. There were parts of it that I liked but overall, it wasn’t one of my favorite states I have visited and I don’t see myself going back anytime soon. I thought it was going to have an amazing boardwalk. It did not. I thought the food would be amazing. It was not. I also didn’t like how dirty the beach was! It was pretty gross. It also didn’t help that it was a cloudy, windy day and the people next to us were feeding all of the birds when we went to the beach.

Our day on the beach:

The only thing that saved our Saturday on Virginia Beach was that I saw advertisements for Cirque Du Soleil everywhere. We decided to buy tickets last minute. We had an amazing time!

On Sunday, we checked out of our Airbnb and drove to Richmond, VA. This was a cute town with lots of sights to see and lots of history. I really enjoyed my time here.

After we hung out in Richmond, VA we decided to drive the Virginia Skyline. It took longer than expected but totally worth it. We had a lot of fun! Beautiful sights and a relaxing 109 mile drive. And the best part was that we saw a bear!

I definitely recommend Richmond and the Skyline if you are heading to Virginia. I would skip Virginia Beach if I ever come back to visit.

The Ultimate Packing List for Backpackers

Backpacking is a very different beast than vacationing, which means that packing can be a a huge ordeal!

Each time I backpack, I pack a little different but I have put together a comprehensive list to go off of each time. These are just my suggestions. Take with you as much or as little of these as you would like. It all depends on the length of the trip, the weather, and the destination. I have only backpacked for up to 10 days.

This is long and maybe a little intimidating, but I’m trying to be as comprehensive as possible and pass on everything I know from experience. Use this as a reference.

Before you leave for your adventure:
  • Check state department travel advisories http://travel.state.gov/
  • Make sure your passport is valid (some countries won’t let you board the plane if your passport expires in 6 months)
  • Check CDC health advisories. You may need some vaccinations.
  • Enroll in STEP https://step.state.gov
  • Advise credit cards of your travel plans
  • Print tickets, maps, itinerary
  • Back up your phone in case it gets lost/stolen
Backpack:
  • Carry on is limited to 22″ x 14″ x 9″
  • A frame backpack with hip straps will help you carry the weight comfortably. I prefer a volume of 40-60 liters. This may be different based on your body size and type. Try before you buy. Get one that fits and is lightweight. I totes recommend checking Eastern Mountain SportsREI, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

I bought mine at EMS and I LOVE it.

Clothes:
    • Clothing takes up a lot of space. The strategy to pack everything into a carry on is to pack only a few items and hand wash your clothes at the hotel/hostel or just be dirty. I try to pack 3 pants and 4 shirts for my 10 day trips.
    • For materials, avoid cotton if you can. It won’t dry in time, you’ll pack it wet, and it’ll smell disgusting when you take it back out. Synthetics dry very quickly so you can wash them frequently. They can however retain odors. Linen works. Spandex clothes like yoga pants dry quickly but are easy for mosquitoes to bite through. Wool is great because it’s naturally odor resistant. You can get very lightweight wool suitable for tropical humidity and heat from Icebreaker or SmartWool. But wool clothing can be expensive so I like to buy wool socks off of Ebay  and Amazon (unused!). Some companies sell defected items for cheap. These are usually just spelling errors, etc. The product is still usable, durable, and effective. They are still pricey but much cheaper. I especially like wool because for a 10 day trip I can pack 4 pairs of socks and be set. You can re-wear them once or twice. Also, if you are doing a lot of hiking or walking around cities (which I recommend because it is beautiful and cheaper), wool socks will save you from blisters.
    • In regions with mosquitoes/malaria, it’s highly recommended you treat your clothes with permethrin. This is pretty cheap and easy to do. It’s safe for humans and very effective.
  • Pack:
    • Shoes – Don’t skimp here because you’ll be wearing these all the time, and carrying everything on your back. I recommend trail runners or hiking shoes. I love my Keens. I got them at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Like backpacks, try before you buy.
    • 2-3 pairs of socks
    • 2-3 sets underclothes
    • 2-3 shorts/pants – Hiking pants are good. Some zip off, which looks dorky but minimizes your packing volume.
    • 3-4 shirts
    • Sunglasses
    • Lightweight rain shell or poncho. I love This One from Columbia because it folds up tiny and is warm. It doubles as a pillow when you need to sleep on the floor.
    • Swimsuit
    • Watch
    • Sun hat
    • Flip flops
    • Cotton bandanna
    • PJs
    • Towels- towels take up a ton of space! When trying to pack minimally but also trying to pack everything  you can into a backpack, towels are a hassle. I like to use Packtowl’s because they fold up super tiny and take up almost no space. Now, these are not super soft and may even be annoying but I find them to be worth it to save space for my souvenirs!
    • Wallet – make sure you have your ID, credit cards, and enough cash
    • Water purifier- Some countries in Central and South America don’t have the cleanest water so you might want to clean it before you drink it.I like using Aquamira.
    • Passport
    • Tickets
    • Map
    • Schedule
    • Phone
    • Phone charger
    • Keys
    • Lightweight flashlight/headlamp. Some countries I have visited experience blackouts. A flashlight has come in handy quite a few times.
    • Water container/Camelback/daypack for walking around cities or hiking.
    • Ear plugs for the airport, planes, and loud hostel neighbors.
    • Snacks/gum (recommend 1 granola bar per day of travel. Sometimes you just don’t know when you are going to have your next meal or for the cases you are experiementing with local foods and it doesn’t go your way.
    • Earbuds
    • Camera
    • Kindle/books
    • Nail file (not metal)
    • Note pad, pencil- keep the memories alive by jounaling!
    • Sleeping pad/yoga mat (optional for sleeping in the airport)
    • Toiletries: read below
Toiletries:
  • The TSA limits liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes to as many 3.4oz containers as you can fit in a 1 quart ziplock. They’ll make you throw it out if it’s not in your ziplock.
  • In addition to toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc:
    • Bug spray (20-30% Deet)
    • Sun screen
    • Medications and Rx (bring in original containers)
    • Bodywash/shampoo (can be used for laundry, or you can pack detergent separately)
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Toilet paper (You would think everywhere you are going will have toilet paper. You would be wrong)
        • First aid kit

      Like I said, this is just suggested. Take it or leave it, but no matter what you choose to pack or no to pack ALWAYS pack a positive attitude and some flexibility!!

That time I was harassed, cat called, stalked, “complimented”

Being a female, at almost any age, it is extremely common to be cat called and harassed by men. Though I have been harassed by men on the street more times than I can count, these are the memories that really stick out in my mind. I began writing them down and I will continue to write them down as it happens to me in the future. Many people say that cat calls are a compliment. I began getting cat called when I was thirteen. I was a child. Grown men on the street should not be “complimenting” a child. Even if many people do believe cat calls are compliments, some of the things that have happened to me are terrifying. I have been chased and groped on the street. Here are some of the times I have been “complimented”.

  • When I was 13 years old, I was hanging out at a friends house. We decided to go to my house. It was around 8pm and getting dark. My house was a ten block walk. We were walking and a group of about eight older teenagers/young adults were walking towards us. We couldn’t understand what they were saying but we knew they were talking about us. We both became uncomfortable and without vocalizing any sort of plan, we both turned around to walk in the opposite direction. That’s when we heard people running. We turned around and saw the group of boys were running toward us. We both started running. We passed our school so we ran into the court yard and through an opening in the fence. We ran the entire way to my house. They chased us for 3 blocks.
  • I used to walk to school everyday, to middle school and high school. When I was approximately 13 years old, a group of construction workers whistled at me and my friend. This happened everyday until we decided to take a different way to school.
  • I went to the park to play card games with three of my friends after school. A car pulled up to us and parked. The three men inside were yelling that we were hot and sexy, stuff like that. My friends and I were about 15 years old.
  • One day when I was walking home from school, a man yelled from across the street, “Hey! Smile, it will get better!” I was really confused because I wasn’t sad or depressed or anything. I was just walking home. I thought he was being nice and wasn’t particularly offended but this bothered me for days and I didn’t know why. I was 15 yrs old.
  • One day after school my friend and I took a nap at her house. We woke up around 6pm. We were starving. We decided to go to Burger King. We were both in sweat pants and oversized t-shirts. On our 5 block walk to Burger King, numerous men whistled at us and blew kisses at us. We were disgusted.
  • When I was 17 years old I was taking the bus to my best friend’s apartment. I sat next to the window. This man in his late 50’s sat next to me and started talking to me. He said he was a customer of mine at the Pharmacy where I was a cashier. He kept telling me I was cute and kept asking for my number. I repeatedly said no but he wouldn’t stop pressuring me to give him my number. I was trying to be polite. I didn’t want to be rude to a stranger that recognized me from where I worked. Also, I did not want to cause a commotion on the public city bus. After numerous times of giving my excuse that I don’t give out my number to strangers he said OK then you take my number then. I put his number in my phone just to get him to leave me alone then he kept telling me to text him so he would have my number. I still had over ten minutes on the bus and felt trapped, up against the window with him blocking the isle. I gave in and texted him. He texted me the second I got off the bus but I can’t remember what the text said. I remember being annoyed. I started getting calls and creepy text messages from him in the middle of the night. I would wake up around 3am from my phone buzzing from creepy messages from him saying he was thinking about me and wanted to see me. I told him to stop texting and calling me but he didn’t. I called my phone company to block his number.
  • My friend and I were at a bus stop waiting for the bus to come. We kept hearing a kissing sound and whistling. We couldn’t tell where it was coming from. We looked up and saw an older man leaning over the railing of the subway station. He was whistling and blowing kisses at us. We hid out of his sight behind the bus stop.
  • When I was 18 years old, I was walking to my boyfriend’s house at 8am. A fat, shirtless man about 50 years old, maybe older asked me for the time. I told him the time, then he grabbed his crotch, started rubbing it and said, “Do you want to come inside and have some fun?”
  • When I was 18, I worked as a waitress over summer vacation. One night I was waiting at the bus stop at midnight for a bus to get home from work. A man asked me for the time. I told him. He stayed standing next to me. I moved over a few feet to get some personal space but he moved next to me again. I pretended to walk over to read the schedule on the pole a few feet away. When I saw him walking toward me I decided to walk an avenue ahead to wait at the next bus stop. I heard him following me. When I turned around I saw him walking toward me. I walked faster, then he walked faster. I became very afraid and instinctively started running. The man ran after me. Without even thinking about it, I ran into the street into oncoming traffic. I crossed and turned the corner and hid in bushes. The man ran after me but he didn’t see me. From the bushes I could see him looking around. He walked out of my view. I waited a while to come out. I ended up walking home because I was too scared to go to the bus stop.
  • I was on phone one day walking to a bus stop. I was going home from my friend’s house. An older man, around 60 years old kept trying to talk to me. He was saying I was beautiful and asked me to sit next to him. I told him to leave me alone and that I was on the phone. He told me I was being rude and told me to hang up the phone. He wouldn’t stop harassing me. I had to walk away and wait at a different bus stop. I was about 19 years old.
  • I was sitting on the subway, waiting for my stop when I felt someone watching me. I looked around and saw a man staring at me. He was staring at me very intently. He didn’t take his eyes off of me. It was making me very uncomfortable and I felt intimidated.
  • When I was 21, I was at a bar with my friends. A guy came up behind me, grabbed me and pulled me toward him. I turned around, told him to let me go and shoved him off of me. He said, “I didn’t want to dance with you anyway, bitch.”
  • At the same bar, my friends and I were dancing. My friend that was facing two of us grabbed us by the arms and pulled us forward. We didn’t know, but their was a guy humping the air right behind us. It was directed at the two of us.
  • After class, I was standing at the bus stop talking on the phone, waiting to get back to my dorm. A bunch of teenagers walked past me, about six of them. One slapped my butt as he walked by. The rest of them were laughing hysterically. I cursed them out. They started throwing things at me like water bottles and food. I was 21 years old. I went to the campus police and they told me to wait at a different bus stop next time.
  • When I was 21, I was walking less than a block home from a party with my friend that was a male. My friend, Steve walked into my building first. I was a few feet behind him. I walked into my building and three guys followed me in. They did not live in my building. When they saw Steve they turned around and ran out.
  • I was dancing at a club with my guy friend. While we were dancing, a guy grabbed my arm and told me to dance with him. My guy friend yelled at him and said we were dancing together, to leave us alone. The guy said, “I don’t care.”
  • I was at a bar with my friends. My girlfriend was in the bathroom. I was sitting at the bar waiting for her. A guy grabbed my arm and pulled me toward him. I tried to pull my arm away but he held it tightly and twisted it a little. I began punching and shoving him with my other arm. The guy was laughing. He didn’t let go until my guy friend saw this from afar and got in between us.
  • My friend and I were dancing together one night at a club. A guy came over and began dancing in between us. We backed up from him and tried to walk off together. The guy stayed in between us and wouldn’t let us near each other. We were pushing him and yelling at him but he just laughed. He tried to keep us apart and kept trying to dance on us. My friend ducked under his arm and we ran to the other end of the club.
  • One night when I was 26 my friends and I were leaving a bar. We were talking about our friend that left earlier because she was so drunk. As we were passing two men that were standing up against a building, I said, “She was so drunk she left her favorite water bottle there.” One of the men followed me and proceeded to mock me. In a whiny exaggerated voice he yelled, “Oh my goddddd, not her water bottle! She forgot her water bottle?”
  • When I was 27 years old, my girlfriends and I went out to a club to dance. We were dancing in a circle. A guy walked up to my friend and stuck his face up against my friend’s butt. My other friend pushed him away. We got him kicked out by a bouncer but within 15 minutes he was back in the club.
  • That same night, my friends and I were dancing together when a group of guys came over to us. Each of them put their arms around one of us. The guy that had his arm around my shoulder was holding on tight. I tried to wiggle free. He asked me if I wanted to dance. I said no. He kept saying, “come on, just dance with me. Why not?” I said that I didn’t want to and that I had a boyfriend. The guy accused me of lying. He kept asking me questions about my boyfriend like his name and where he lived. He asked why I was out without my boyfriend. I kept trying to push the guy away and telling him that I didn’t want to dance with him but he wouldn’t stop or let go of me. My two friends were having the same issue. I was finally successful in pushing him off of me. After a while of telling them to leave us alone, they finally walked away to another group of girls.
  • When I was crossing the street with some friends, a guy held out his arm as if to grab me. He said, “Hey, hey, hey honey. Hold up. Where you going?” Without thinking, I replied, “Away from you.”
  • Walking to the bus stop, a guy I was walking towards was looking at me. As I walked past him he said “Excuse me?” and tried to grab my arm. I twisted my body and swung my arm backwards out of his reach and kept walking.
  • I had to run to the mall to pick something up and my boyfriend had to go to the grocery store. After my errand I was waiting for him at our meeting spot. While I was standing there, two guys kept looking at me. One of them said, “Hey, waiting for your ride?” I replied “Yes.” The two guys kept looking at me. I was trying not to look their way but I could feel them watching me. A few minutes later the same guy asked, “Are you waiting for your boyfriend?” I didn’t answer. I pretended not to hear him. They walked a little closer which made me nervous. They kept staring at me and finally walked away after a few minutes.
  • When I was crossing the street a guy yelled, “Heyyyy baby!” at me from his car.
  • One day when I was walking to work, I was walking toward three men sitting on a stoop. One of them was staring me up and down. His eyes were completely locked on me. He did not look away. I felt uncomfortable passing them. One of the guys said, “Dude stop staring so hard.” The one that was staring at me looked me in the eye and said, “But I just cant help myself.”
  • When I was 28 years old, I walked out of my apartment to meet my friend at her car. Her car was parked on the corner of my block. On the opposite corner of my friend’s parked car, three construction workers yelled, “Wooooooooooooooo” at me from across the street.
  • When I was 27 I was at a club with my friends. My friends and I were walking to a different section. A man I was walking past grabbed my arm and said, “Hey, where are you going? I began screaming at him. I cursed him out and shoved him and told him not to touch me. His friends started yelling at me to calm down. I kept yelling that he grabbed me. They told me to relax. I yelled, “I will not fucking relax. Tell your friend not to fucking grab people.” My friends and I walked to a different section of the club. The group of guys followed us. We walked to a different section of the club. They group of guys followed us again. They wouldn’t leave us alone so we left the club.
  • I was walking down an aisle at CVS. An older man leaned into me, pushing his body up against me and whispered in my ear as I walked by him, “Gorgeousss.” It was very creepy and gave me the chills.
  • October, 2015: I was on my way to a job interview. I was outside of the agency when I got whistled at by three different men and a man in a car honked at me. These four incidents were all within ten minutes.
  • When I was walking home from work, three tweens were yelling to me from across the street. I had my head phones in. I ignored them but they just yelled louder. I took my head phones out, turned to them and yelled, “What?” That’s when the boys pulled their pants down to moon me. I crossed the street and began yelling at them and told them to get their parents. They told me their parents weren’t home and they apologized numerous times.
  • May, 2015: I was at a music festival with my boyfriend. We parted ways for a little while to get dinner. We wanted different things. I was walking to our meeting spot when a guy yelled, “Excuse me!” I ignored him. He continued, “Hello!…Hello!” I continued to ignore him. He yelled, “OK, well fuck you then!”
    • It wasn’t even five minutes later. I was sitting alone, waiting for my boyfriend. I was looking around, taking in all of the music and fun outfits. A guy walking past me says, “Don’t tell me you aren’t having fun.” I responded, “I am.” He insists, “Come on! Have fun!” I said again, “I am.”
  • June 1, 2015: I was walking home from work. I was less than one block from my apt. When an older man looks me up and down and says, “mmmm, hellooo!”
  • July 26th, 2015: When I was walking home from work, two men driving by were hanging out of the car window. They were yelling something but I couldn’t hear because I had my headphones in. The one in the back seat continued to laugh and hang out the window looking back at me as the car passed me.

An Adorable Town- Hawley, PA

My boyfriend and I spent our anniversary in Hawley, PA. You may be thinking, “Why the hell would you spend your anniversary in Pennsylvania of all places?” Well, let me tell you! I heard from friends that it is a really nice, cute, relaxing area to explore. They were right. We had a really nice time!

We stayed at The Settlers Inn. What an adorable B&B! The room was beautiful, it had a jacuzzi in the bathroom, and we were welcomed by a cheese platter with crackers and wine!

The garden was lovely to spend the evening in. It had a nice little pond with frogs. We arrived Friday afternoon. We spent a lot of time in the garden, soaking in the beautiful day and scenery.

We then went and had a late lunch/early dinner at Cocoon Coffee House. The food was delish!

After our delicious meal, we walked around the quaint town. After touring the cute little town, we had dinner at The Boathouse. Oh, Em, Gee was this place good! Everything we ate was amazing! Highly recommend. We already had a full day so we headed back to the B&B for some jacuzzi time!

We knew that breakfast was provided at The Settlers Inn but we had no idea it was a feast! The amount of food we had for breakfast was shocking as well as a very welcome surprise! It made our stay even more pleasant! After breakfast we took a walk on a walking trail at Riverside Park. The brochure said that it was a good place to see birds. They weren’t kidding! We saw tons of birds! It was beautiful!

After all the relaxation it was time for adventure! We rented jet skis through Rubber Duckie Boat Rentals.

What a perfect weekend! Relaxation, good food, nature, and adventure. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!