Post from September, 2007

Hanson concert

Monday, 17. September 2007 18:41

Colleen and I went to the Hanson concert in Baltimore on Saturday. It was so much fun. Beforehand, we went for a mile walk with them around the streets of Baltimore. On Sunday, Ryan and I drove down to DC to walk with them again. This tour is in support of fighting poverty and AIDS in Africa. Going on a walk is supposed to bring attention to that cause. It’s also a really easy way to meet and talk to them! I took loads of pictures and had such a blast.  Here are a few of the pictures: My camera was too zoomed for the me and Zac picture :(

 

Me and Ike

 Tay explaining the cause on a megaphone

 

Ike gave his shoes to a homeless man

We had an amazing spot at the concert

Category:Personal Stuff | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

Midwest II

Monday, 3. September 2007 20:01

Well, we are back from our second adventure into the Midwest USA.  We travelled about 2,050 miles by car over the course of five days, visiting 8 large states, 3 of them being new for Megan and me.  That’s our trip in a nutshell.  So go ahead and take a look at the pictures, and you don’t need to read anything else.  But, if you really are interested in what we did, keep reading!

Our trip started early in the morning on Thursday.  By waking up at 3:30am, we were able to make it to the airport with about a half hour to spare.  Of course, that meant that our checked bags were marked as “late” but we didn’t really care.  Our plan was to spend the entire day in St. Louis, so if they didn’t make the flight, we could always pick them up later.
The flight went well.  There was a little bit of weather along the way, and the only thing we could see out our window were clouds.

Upon arriving, we picked up our rental car from Alamo – which was more trouble than it was worth.  They just directed us to a parking lot and told us to pick a car.  Although there were some signs that designated economy, compact, and mid-size cars, none of the actual cars were in their correct spaces, so we had to go through each one to find a good match.  We ended up with a Saturn Aura, which was pretty nice – at least compared to our usual rentals.
Our first stop in St. Louis was the Anheiseur-Busch brewery.  Since it was around 9:00am on a weekday, we were two of four people on the tour, which made taking pictures and movies a bit awkward.  But, we still got free booze afterward, and that’s always nice.  I think this was the only free thing that we did on the entire trip!

After that, we had to check out the Gateway Arch.  They have a tram on the inside that takes you to the top – the tram is actually kind of scary.  There are multiple egg-like compartments that seat about 5 adults uncomfortably close to one another.  The top had some good views, but that was it.  Nothing else to do up there except come back down.  Now, when we got the tickets for the arch, we also got tickets to take a riverboat “cruise” down the Mississippi River.  How exciting was that?  Let’s just say that Megan and I fell asleep halfway through it.  Literally.

After that was finished, we spent the next hour or so looking for a good spot from across the river where we could get our picture taken in front of the arch.  However, there is nothing on the Illinois side that gets you even close to that kind of opportunity, which is really a shame.  The reflection of the city off the river would be pretty neat, I would imagine.  We did find a place that was next to a factory, which was as close as we could get, but it still wasn’t much.  From there, we drove a few hours south to our hotel in Nashville.  We got there just after a Titan’s pre-season game, so there was a bit of traffic, but it could have been worse.
The following day, we got up pretty early and made our way to Opryland and the Gaylord hotel.  My parents stayed here a couple years ago and highly recommended it, and I can see why.  Without paying over $200 for a room, we were able to experience a hotel that has atriums packed with waterfalls, gardens, rivers, and even islands.  The ceiling of the hotel was covered in glass, which made us realize that it probably cost a pretty penny to keep that place cool and prevent it from turning into a greenhouse.  Anyway, we couldn’t find anything else fun to do in Nashville, so we started driving a few hours to the west to Memphis to see the king.

We got to Graceland a little after noon and paid about $50 to visit the former home of Elvis.  The tour of his mansion was pretty awesome, especially because you knew that all of the furniture in the home was original.  There were of those made-up offices and bedrooms that you see in historical homes of people like George Washington.  And the mansion was barely a mansion on the inside.  I felt like I was walking into someone’s house that loved the styles of the 1970’s.  We also got tickets to see other museums, like the Elvis costume museum and auto museum.  We got them as part of a package, so we only paid a couple bucks for these things, and thank goodness because the $8-10 normal charge is outrageous for what amounts to just a small room of clothes and cars.

By this point, it was already getting late, so we checked into our hotel, which was within walking distance to Graceland (too bad we already paid for parking at the museum).  Then we went out to Beale Street to get our party on.  The party animals we are, we stayed out until almost 10 or 11 before heading back to the hotel.

On Saturday, we got up early once again and took a brief stop in Mississippi for no other reason than to say that we’ve been there.  I think this is sort of cheating, but whatever works.  From there, it was off to Little Rock to see Bill Clinton’s library and museum.  This was the fourth presidential library we’ve visited, next to Kennedy, Ford, and Lincoln.  The museum was interesting and you could spend a lot of time there if you wanted, but as a whole, there wasn’t a whole lot there.  The museum takes you year by year in his presidency, and you can even check out his daily schedule for every single day that he was in the White House.  Probably the thing that made it most interesting was the fact that we have started to see artefacts from history that we have lived through.  Very surreal.  I also realized that Billy did a lot more during his presidency than I ever realized.

After that, we went over to Central High School where just about 50 years ago to the date, 9 students were turned away from classes due to their race.  It was pretty interesting to be right there.  The school itself is huge and still in operation today.

After that was said and done, we headed north because we wanted to check out the Ozarks.  About two hours into our drive, we saw a sign for Hot Springs National Park, a place that the two of us have heard of but knew little about.  Unfortunately, the area was to our south – out of the way, and back the way we came.  So we had to make a call – continue to the Ozarks, which is pretty much just rolling hills like western Maryland, or head back the way we came to Hot Springs.  It was getting late, so we quickly made the call to do the latter.  Was it worth it?  Eh.  I wouldn’t recommend the place because it’s more of a tourist town than anything else.  But, there are fountains around town that pull water directly from the underground hot springs, so the temperature of the water is almost scalding.  It was unique, anyway.  After that, though, we had an extra long drive to Oklahoma City.  It was the equivalent of driving from Baltimore to Ocean City and back without stopping.  We got to the hotel after midnight and slept in a little later than expected.

After church on Sunday, we went to the site of the Oklahoma City bombing.  Again, this was another memorial to an event in history that took place during our lifetimes.  I don’t remember too much about the bombing, as I was only in 7th grade.  I don’t remember the place I was when I heard about it or anything like that.  I just remember a building on the news that was half blown apart.  I have a better recollection of O.J. Simpson’s police chase.
The memorial was quite touching, and our outdoor interpretative speaker was exceptional.  Unfortunately, the museum didn’t open until 1pm, so we had to scrounge around looking for something to do for three hours.  We did find some botanical gardens to walk around in for free, and by the time that was over with, we were able to head back to the site.  The museum is very overwhelming, as it is comparable to that of other similar memorial museums – the Holocaust museum in DC comes to mind.  There were articles of clothing from both survivors and victims and a room full of photos and keepsakes from every person that perished.  Well, on that happy note, our next stop was Tulsa.

In Tulsa, we drove by the house that the singing group Hanson grew up in.  Megan said that some people are crazy enough to go right up to the front door, but we ‘admired’ from a distance.  We got dinner and spent some time looking for souvenirs, but there were none to be found, and since it was late, we had to get moving.  Our next stop was Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.  This marked a particularly stupid stop from our last Midwest trip, but as it was only an hour away, we decided to give it another try.  The result?  Well, grass is grass is grass, I guess.  Go figure.  By this point, it was dark, a billion stars were out, and we were on our way to Springfield, MO for the night.

On Monday, our final day, we drove from Springfield to Branson.  Branson is nothing more than a complete and utter tourist town, but it was still impressive.  It must be the place to go for Midwestern vacations because the place was packed.  Even still, since we were there early, we were able to walk through a couple museums.  One claimed to be the world’s largest Titanic exhibit, and I tell you, that is no lie.  The place really is impressive.  I thought the place would be marketed towards kids since the museum is in the shape of the ill-fated boat, but the museum houses tons of artifacts that have been recovered from the ship.  We also saw the “Bodies” museum, which has exhibits across the nation.  It consists of actual bodies of people that donated themselves to science.  You can get an up-close look at muscles and bones and virtually every organ – most of which are not even behind glass or rope.  Very cool.  Of course, just those two museums alone blew a $100 hole in our pocket.  Ouch!  Although, I’m sure we had spent two or three times that in gas alone by this point.

After Branson, it was time to go home.  We got to St. Louis with plenty of time to spare, especially since our flight was delayed by a half hour.  We got to Baltimore in the 10:00 hour and were back home before midnight.  All in all, the trip was tiring, but very enjoyable.  Whew!  That’s it for this entry!  I’ll try to add in some pictures later on.  Take care!

Category:Travel | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan