Coming Home

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I have been back home in Virginia for a week now. Last Sunday my parents came to pick me up and I had to leave Brendan and his family. After spending two weeks with a family and sharing with them the good times and the bad, you start to feel like you are a part of that family. Now, as nice as it is to come back home after a long adventure, it is hard to leave what has come to be your other home behind.  Brendan and I have had to say goodbye several times now and we had to spend last summer apart, so you would think that goodbyes are just an expected thing now. But the goodbyes have not gotten any easier; in fact, this was the hardest goodbye I have had to face.

I have come to realize that I am a restless person. I do not like being stuck at home for long periods of time. I would rather be out traveling and exploring new places. I have this wanderlust and I want to  travel as much as possible and see as much of the world as I can while I am young. So, coming home was really the last thing that I wanted to do. Do not get me wrong, I love my family and my pets and spending time with them, but my restless spirit wants to soar. My problem is that when I am home for the summer and have a lot of time on my hands, I tend to sit around and think and think and think. Sometimes I start to think too much and I end up complicating simple situations. I am not proud of that, but it is the truth.

So as I watched my surroundings shift and fade from relaxing seaside, to the great rush of the city to the old familiar mountains and open fields this past week, I became more melancholy. It did not seem right for the sun to be shining so bright and the country side to be so teeming with life. I felt like the weather should be overcast and rainy to match my mood. But as my parents and I drove back into the sleepy little town of Shipman, I was overpowered by the heavenly aroma of honeysuckle, mock orange and freshly cut fields. It was then that I knew I was coming back home to sunshine and happiness instead of dark bitter days. I could feel the sadness melting away and my heart becoming a bit lighter. Somehow I knew that this summer was going to be different than last year.

I am going to try to keep myself busy this summer. I have a long list of projects that I want to do such as home improvements, photo assignments, writing stories, trying new recipes, exercising and reading lots and lots of good books. And of course, I want to spend as much time as possible with my family. I sometimes believe the lie that I cannot have adventures or new stories to tell if I spend most of my time at home, but that is far from the truth. My siblings and I have always had wonderful imaginations and we can dream up all kinds of adventures right here in our yard in the country.

This summer will not be easy. I still miss Brendan everyday and wish that we could be together; but I know that God has plans for both of our lives while we are apart this summer. I miss the city and all of the excitement that traveling brings; but instead of longing to be somewhere else, I need to be thankful for the traveling I have done and the places I have gotten to see and be content with being at home.

We never know where God will be leading us next. I am learning to be content and enjoy where He has me placed today. I hope you are enjoying your summer wherever you may be!

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Pittsburgh Photos

Brendan and I made a second trip to the Golden Triangle, only this time we did not go downtown to take pictures. We decided that we would wander around the area of the University of Pittsburgh instead. I like this area of Pittsburgh; while it still has that wonderful atmosphere of the city, it is a bit more calm than the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Pittsburgh – A Different Side of the Golden Triangle

Ah Pittsburgh. It was so good to drive back into this beloved city once again. After leaving Ocean City, New Jersey, I came to spend a week in Pennsylvania with Brendan and his family at their house. I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh as much as I have in the past year. This was my fourth time traveling to the Golden Triangle and I could not have been more pleased.

Since I have photographed the city of Pittsburgh several times before, I wanted to try to capture a different side of it. I particularly wanted to focus on the street life and details of the city. So here is what I ended up with.

Also, I’d like to point out one of the highlights from my day. Brendan and I wandered over to the fountain near PPG Plaza to sit down for a moment and do some people watching. People watching is one of my favorite pass times simply because human beings are so fascinating. As we stood taking in our surroundings, we saw a little girl approaching the fountain. This little girl was the most adorable girl with blonde bouncy curls and bright eyes. And I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the little girl run, jump, dance and flit about through the fountain as her mother stood by keeping a watchful eye on her. This little girl, so care free and happy, shared some of her joy with the people around her as they looked on with smiles on their faces. If only I could be more like this little girl and learn to dance and be joyful about the simple things in life. I also admired the mom’s patience as she watched her daughter playing in the water. She never yelled or fussed at the little girl, she simply watched her play and enjoy herself until it was time for them to leave. I want to be a fun and patient mom like that when I have my own children in the future.

Wonderland Pier

When Brendan and I first found we would be vacationing in Ocean City with his family this summer, we were both excited and looking forward to riding the big ferris wheel at Wonderland Pier together. So on the last night that we were in Ocean City, Brendan and I went to Wonderland Pier to ride the ferris wheel and take some pictures of the rides at the park at night. Here are some of the pictures that I captured that night. Also, check out Brendan’s blog for some of his pictures taken at Wonderland Pier!

Exploring the Streets of Philadelphia

During my stay in Ocean City, New Jersey with Brendan and his family, we decided to make a trip to Philadelphia since it was only a little over an hour away. I had been to Philadelphia once before during the summer last year with Brendan and his family, but we were only there for a couple hours and I did not have time to leisurely wander the streets and explore the city. But during this trip I had the opportunity to wander the streets with Brendan and take some photos of this delightful city.

There was an event taking place in Philly that evening called Night Market Philadelphia. Here is a brief description of what the night market is according to visitphilly.com:

A popular series of outdoor street festivals, Night Market Philadelphia is a seasonal celebration of food, music and community held in the city’s vibrant neighborhoods.

Attracting thousands of visitors from around the region, the preeminent celebration of street food features dozens of the city’s best food trucks and restaurants along with live entertainment from local musicians, artists and more.

In 2013, Night Market hosted four wildly successful outings in Fairmount, West Oak Lane, South Street and Chinatown. This year will be just as phenomenal with Night Markets planned for Old City, West Oak Lane, Lancaster Avenue and Chinatown.

The Night Market was a beautiful array of local tastes and talents. I was feeling a bit picky with my food choices that night so I did not get much more than a taste of food from the market, but I was more than delighted to wander the streets with a cup of coffee in my hand and soak in the atmosphere. I love being an obscure observer in the crowded city streets. The streets were teeming with life; people of all different kinds strolled through the inner corners of the city while Amy Winehouse music swirled through the air and the aroma of freshly cooked local foods tickled my nose. To me, being surrounded by tall buildings was a refreshing change after living seaside for a few days. That may sound strange because I am sure most people find the sea more refreshing than the congested streets of the city, but being in the city makes me feel so alive. I do not know why, but it excites me to be surrounded by strangers in the city.

After leaving the Night Market, me Brendan and his family decided to drive over to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Brendan and I had never been to the museum before, so we ran up all of the stairs to the Art Museum like I am sure many first time visitors do. I grew up watching the ‘Rocky’ movies, so that was an exciting moment for me and it also gave me one more thing to scratch off my bucket list. Iconic stairs and Rocky statue aside, the parts of the Art Museum that I had never seen before were much more beautiful and impressive. I enjoyed walking around to the back side of the museum and seeing the scenery there. I would say that it was a very lovely evening spent in Philadelphia. I look forward to going back again someday.

What Goes Up Must Come Down – Sunrise and Sunset in Ocean City

Ah, the beauty of the sunrise and sunset. I had never seen the sun rise over the ocean before, so one morning I woke up early to watch the sun rise with Brendan and his family. Even though I was very tired, I was thankful that I woke up to see the astounding beauty that the sun brought on that glorious morning. I was able to see two sunrises and a few sunsets during my stay in Ocean City. Since it rained quite a bit while I was there, it was hard to tell whether I would be able to see a sunrise or a sunset. A veil of fog and cloud hid the sunrise and sunset a few times, so I am very grateful for these pictures that I was able to capture on the days where the sun decided to come out of hiding.

Downtown Ocean City

After a gloomy day on Wednesday May 14, the sun came out and the weather was a bit warmer on Thursday (May 15). Brendan and I hadn’t gotten the chance to go out and really photograph anything in Ocean City yet, so we decided that it would be a lovely day for taking a stroll and exploring the area.

Brendan and I took a lovely walk which started from the beach house we were staying at on 18th street. We walked all the way down the boardwalk past the shops and then strolled down Asbury Avenue until we made our way back to the house again. We made a couple stops along the way; we had lunch at Manco & Manco and then I stopped at the Starbucks on Asbury Avenue for an afternoon pick-me-up.

I’m going to come right out and say that I am not the biggest fan of the beach (or at least I wasn’t). Visiting the beach is nice, but water doesn’t appeal to me very much and swimming is definitely not one of my strong points. But I never really thought of all of the other things there are to do near the beach and in the local area. I love exploring new places and visiting local shops and eateries and there was plenty of places to explore in Ocean City. The shops along Asbury Avenue are charming and I particularly enjoyed the two bookshops I visited.

During my week long stay with Brendan and his family in Ocean City, we got to taste some of the wonderful foods from the local eateries. A few of the places we visited include Manco & Manco (as I mentioned above), Monkey Bread, Sunrise Cafe and Bongo Grille. While these places are small, I love the cozy atmosphere of them. There’s just something appealing about small local shops and restaurants and chances are if I have a good experience when I visit one of these places there’s a good chance that I will come again. It’s not always about the merchandise or how good the food is, atmosphere and scenery play a big roll in my opinion. One thing that was a huge plus for me was that Bongo Grille has a separate menu of Vegan friendly foods! As a vegetarian, I sometimes have a hard time finding restaurants that have vegetarian/vegan friendly options (which also makes it difficult for the people I am eating with), so I was all for trying Bongo Grille for dinner when I read all the tasty foods on their vegan menu.

Another thing I adore about Ocean City is that most of the shops and restaurants are within walking and/or biking distance. To me, the idea of being able to wake up in the morning and take a bike ride down the boardwalk for some exercise and then ride over to a local cafe to get a bite for breakfast is absolutely lovely! Oh, and walks on the beach at night…I can’t forget to mention those. These are just a few of the things that have me re-thinking my opinion of life by the ocean. I don’t know how to put it into words…it’s just so charming. A romantic summer dream. After spending a week in Ocean City I really wasn’t ready to leave.

Anyway, here are a few photos from me and Brendan’s photo walk. Enjoy soaking in some of the local character!