My Travels: East Coast Adventure

My aunt and I enjoy going on vacation together so over a year ago when we were talking about where we wanted to go next, the east coast was mentioned and we talked about what we wanted to see. New York had been at the top of my list for a while and I thought it would be neat to see some of Massachusetts too. Not long after, we booked our hotels in Cape Cod and New York! Time flew by and we spent 8 wonderful days exploring the east coast.

Portland to Boston is almost six hours and while the flight was nice,  the getting from the airport to our dinner destination was a stressful experience. East coast driving is definitely more aggressive and cars were trying to make their way into our lane from all directions, most weren’t that friendly when it came to merging and at times you couldn’t even tell where your lane was! It was crazy and we were grateful when we finally made it out of the city.

I watch the Wahlburgers on A & E and trying their burgers was on my to do list so we made our way to Hingham to have dinner. I had the Our Burger, with lettuce, tomatoes, house made pickles, government cheese & Paul’s wahl sauce and some tots. Both were delicious! It is very cool inside, with the ceiling having the names of movies and TV shows that Donnie and Mark had been in. It was very fun to see the places that are featured on a show that I enjoy!

From there it was a three hour drive to our hotel,  the Cove at Yarmouth. I had found this place through my Mom’s time share and it was pretty decent. It has two pools, a restaurant, laundry area and the rooms came with a keurig, microwave and mini fridge. It was in a good spot, in between the towns of Yarmouth and Hyannis, and easy to find.

We spent the next day exploring Cape Cod. There is a main highway that goes all the way up the cape and it is surrounded by trees. Being fall, they were all different colors and the drive was beautiful. Unfortunately you can’t see anything off the exits so you basically have to pick a town and start exploring. We chose Provincetown, at the very top of the cape, as the place to start. We spent the morning walking the town and checking out all of the fun shops. It is a cute place right on the water and has a cool Pilgrim monument that you can go to the top of,  which we chose not to do, but you can see the whole thing from town.

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Provincetown

We made our way to the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center and Race Point. The visitors center has some really pretty views and you can see the Pilgrim monument from the observation deck! We did hit the beach at Race Point, but not for too long as we had more places to go. There were so many spots to stop and see the ocean or just walk around. I was in awe of how beautiful everything was.

While trying to find a place for lunch, we found that it was common for most  places to be shut down for the season. Someone told us later that most places close right after Columbus Day since it isn’t too busy during the fall/winter months. We made our way through Chatham to see the lighthouse there and ended up at the Skipper Chowder House in south Yarmouth where I had my first lobster roll. I am not a seafood person, but vacation is a time for trying new things! It was pretty tasty and I also had a cup of delicious New England clam chowder to go with it.

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Lobster Roll & chowder

 

We headed back to Boston the next day to explore a little bit of the city and take a whale watching cruise, which had been on my bucket list for a long time. I had been reading ‘Patriots’ by AJ Langguth, which is about the American Revolution and I was eager to see all of the places in Boston that had come up in the book. We started out near the harbor and followed the Freedom Trail from the Old State House (the site of the Boston Massacre) to Faneuil Hall (where the patriots would meet in secret), past the Old North Church, to the Paul Revere statue and his house. I loved seeing all of these historical sites and I could have easily spent the day seeing more of them. I hope to go back to Boston one day and finish the trail!

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Faneuil Hall and the statue of Samuel Adams

Along the way, we ended up in Little Italy and came across a gelato/cannoli shop that we had to stop in and try both! The place was filled with older men speaking Italian and we sat for a few minutes to listen to them. It was pretty neat!

We made our way back to the waterfront to the New England Aquarium, the place I had gone to online to get our tickets, and took a boat out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The website promises to see whales on every trip and they delivered! It was a nice, clear day and there were plenty of them out feeding. One even came up next to the boat for a few minutes and put on a show! It was a very cool experience.

 

For our last day on the cape, we took a ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard. We decided not to bring the car and ended up taking the bus around the island, which there were stops  in each town and buses showed up frequently. It was convenient and cheaper than taking the car on the ferry, but we didn’t have time to see everything and couldn’t stop to see sights (like the Jaws bridge!). We stopped in Vineyard Haven and Oaks Bluff to look around and had lunch in Edgartown. There weren’t many shops open, so we ended up just walking around and it was a cool place to see.

We left Cape Cod after four amazing days and headed to Newport, Rhode Island. We spent the day checking out the famous mansions that reside on the coast. The tour packages included either five houses or two. Since we had to be in Providence by the afternoon, we chose to do two and toured The Breakers and Rosecliff. The Breakers, built by the Vanderbilt family,  has an Italian Renaissance style and had some amazing art pieces all over the house. Rosecliff is not as big, but is still impressive and my favorite room was the ballroom. Both houses were stunning and had amazing views of the ocean. It was an audio tour and it was fun to learn about the history of the homes.

The rest of the day was spent walking around Newport and driving to Providence to take the train to New York. It was a quick three hour trip and I was glad to be done with driving. The train ride was smooth and the views were amazing, with most of the route being along the coast. The best part of the ride was getting into New York and seeing the lights of the city! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It had been a long day of traveling, but seeing those lights got me excited and I couldn’t believe I was in New York!

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Sunset from the train

We spent four amazing days in the city. I was a little nervous, mainly due to how big it is, but after the first day we easily got to know the area we were staying in and managed to figure out the subway. We stayed at Hotel St James, is an older hotel and had small rooms, but came at a decent price. One thing we hadn’t counted on was how there was no air conditioning in our room! They had taken all of the units out in anticipation of the fall weather, but it ended up being warmer and more humid than we were prepared for. The staff were very helpful though and found us the last fan! Overall it was an okay place to stay and you couldn’t beat the location! It was only a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Times Square, so we spent the majority of our time in that area.

30 Rock is a really cool building with a lot of shops and places to eat inside, there were subway stations close by and there was a nice spot outside by some fountains to just sit and people watch. The NBC store inside was really cool and had a lot of merchandise from some of my favorite shows. I definitely spent a little too much money in there! We spent a lot of time in Times Square and it was such a fun area to be in.  There were SO MANY people! New York is definitely not a place for someone who has crowd anxiety, but it is a fun place to people watch! For me the coolest part of the crowds was hearing all of the different languages being spoken!

We had bought a City Pass before the trip, which gave us tickets to a bunch of major attractions for a decent price. We used our pass to go to the Top of the Rock and take a Circle Line Cruise on our first day out. Both offered amazing views of the city with being able to see all of Central Park and Manhattan from the Top of the Rock. The Circle Line Cruise allowed us to see the major buildings from the river and we learned a few things, like which dock the survivors of the Titanic landed at and where the US Airways flight landed on the river.

The rest of the day we spent time in Central Park, had lunch at Shake Shack  and went to the Museum of Natural History. It was kind of a bummer though because we only got to see one exhibit and an IMAX movie because of an event happening later in the evening that caused most of the museum to be closed off.

Our second day started at  the Today show! Matt Lauer and co. don’t come outside until 8am, but it is a good idea to be there at least by 6 so you can check in and get a good spot near the cameras. I don’t think we made it on TV, but it was fun to watch them film part of the show.

We spent the rest of the morning at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which is a very emotional experience. The museum is heartbreaking and insightful. There are a few exhibits inside that include damaged fire trucks, the last steel of the twin towers, plus pictures, documents, videos and audio that you probably can’t see or hear anywhere else. Both the memorial and museum are respectable tributes to the victims and should be seen while in New York.

We finished the day with a nice walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, ate some New York cheesecake and went to the top of the Empire State Building. It was foggy out that night so we couldn’t see anything from the very top, but the inside of the building is still neat and we had a little bit of a clear view from one of the lower floors.

Our last day was very rainy! We had breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner (where there are singing waiters!) and by the time we made it to the Plaza Hotel and walked a little more of Central Park, it started to pour! We ended up going to a movie and finishing our shopping in Times Square. When the rain finally stopped we finished the day with taking the subway to Grand Central Station and having dinner with a friend. Despite the rain, it was a great last day of the trip.

Overall, this had been one of the best trips I have taken. All the places we had gone were beautiful and there were so many things to do and see. Cape Cod and Boston were amazing and if I go for another trip, I would stay in Cape Cod again and just drive around Massachusetts. There is a lot of history all over the state and there is definitely more to see along the Freedom Trail.

 

I loved New York so much and had the most amazing time there! My favorite part  was the Top of the Rock and walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Both had the best views of the city. Everything I ate was amazing; the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery, the pumpkin cheesecake at Junior’s and the Shake Shack burger, fries and beer were my favorite! My only regrets in New York were not seeing a Broadway play and not taking the NBC Studio Tour. By the time we decided to do the tour, they were all sold out and the next one wasn’t until a few days after we were gone.  Next time, I will do both, plus go to Brooklyn, look in all the fancy shops on Madison Ave, find the Friends building and eat more! I can’t wait!

 

Nerd/Travel Bucket List Update

It has been a while, a LONG while, since my last post and I have to say that I miss writing. My free lance didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but I have been wanting to get back to doing it for myself for a while now. First up, re-visiting my Nerd Bucket List  and my Travel Bucket List. A few years ago I wrote these lists with the determination of trying to accomplish as many things as I could, but had some setbacks with my health right after I wrote both. For the past few years I have tried to get back to accomplishing things on both of these lists and I think it is time to get back to writing about them!

So one of the nerd bucket list items that I have managed to do since writing the list was #6, travel to Oahu and see some of the Lost filming sites. It wasn’t quite the tour I had wanted to take, but it was still satisfying. My aunt and I took the movie tour of the Kualoa Ranch, not just where Lost was filmed but also movies such as Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Godzilla and You, Me and Dupree. Kualoa Ranch is one of the most amazing  places I have been. It sits right off the ocean and the views of the mountains are amazing. On the tour you get to take a bus through the valley and stop at some of the movie locations. There is also a World War II bunker that now houses the submarine from Lost and various pictures/posters from the movies/TV shows that have been filmed in the area. The highlight of the tour was seeing Hurley’s golf course and the pond where the submarine scenes were filmed on Lost. It was such a great trip and it definitely made me love Hawaii even more than I already did!

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Kualoa Ranch pond

#5 on my nerd bucket list, meet more celebrities, is the other list item that I have also kept up on. I have been to San Diego Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con a few times in the past five years and have managed to meet some more people from my favorite movies and TV shows. Some highlights have been meeting Karl Urban, Stephen Amell and some of my favorite S.H.I.E.L.D agents, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge and Ming Na Wen. In June, my best friends and I are traveled to Philadelphia to Wizard World Comic Con to see some of the cast of The Avengers.  I still can’t even believe that my best friend and I got to stand next to Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans!  When we were talking about going, I felt like it was a crazy decision to go all that way to talk to them for probably ten seconds, but then I thought that life is short and this is what we want to do. So we canceled everything we had booked in Seattle for ECCC and booked everything in Philadelphia in a matter of days! It turned out to be an amazing trip! We spent a day and a half exploring the city, then another day at the con. Yes, it was only about 30 seconds standing with the Chris'(which I was too nervous to even look at them!), but I had the best time with my best friends in an amazing city.

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City Hall, one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia.

For my travel bucket list, since 2012 I have been to Oahu, took a road trip to Vancouver BC, been on two more California/SDCC trips, had a 30th birthday celebration in Vegas, explored parts of Colorado with my other best friend, went on an adventure to Lake Havasu, AZ with my mom complete with side trips to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam and this year I made it to the northeast, not only to Philadelphia, but split a week between Cape Cod and New York. I am hoping that in the near future will be a trip to D.C. and I never stop dreaming about New Zealand and Europe! Hopefully when my finances get a little better, that dream will become a reality.

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Staying at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, has been a highlight of my travels.

So that is what I have been doing since my last post and I am okay with it. Life does not always go the way you expect it to, but I believe that it is better to make the most out of it. I am definitely grateful to be able to do the things I enjoy most and spend time with the people that I care about. Traveling has been what makes me happy so here is to more exploring the world and to more writing about it!

My Travels: Vancouver B.C.

Sam enjoying some Top Pot

I am back after a hiatus and hope to keep up my blogging. I thought a good way to start would be a recap of my Vancouver B.C. trip this past Memorial Day. My BF loves, no, LOVES poutine and suggested a weekend up north. We left on Saturday at 4am so we could get a good start at exploring the city since we only had three days to do it. The drive up there was nice and I had to make a stop at my favorite doughnut shop, Top Pot, on the way. They are around the Seattle area, but I always go to the downtown one on 5th ave. The doughnuts are always fresh and the raspberry chocolate is my favorite. Their coffee is pretty good too.

Beluga!

After our pit stop, we continued on and made it to the border around 9 am. We spent about 45 minutes waiting in line and by 10:30 made it to Vancouver. A 6 1/2 hour drive is not that bad. Our first touristy stop was at the Vancouver Aquarium. One of the main reasons I wanted to come here was to see the beluga whales and they did not disappoint. They are amazing creatures and it was fun to watch them. Also at the aquarium were sea otters, dolphins, penguins, tanks and tanks of different fish and there was an Amazon/jungle exhibit with alligators, plenty of snakes and piranhas.

One of the many views from Stanley Park

Overall, the aquarium was fun and there were many interesting things to see. We spent the rest of the day driving around Stanley Park, which was gorgeous. It also was a perfect sunny day and it made the park even more beautiful. There were a lot of people out enjoying the day: biking, taking wedding photos, sitting in the sun, picnicking and even rollerblading. I don’t think I have seen anybody rollerblade in years, but it seemed to be pretty popular.

We made our way back to Richmond, BC to our hotel, the River Rock Casino Resort. This place was only twenty minutes from Vancouver and easy to find. We had a nice one bedroom suite and it included a view of the water. The hotel had a buffet, a nice sized casino and a pool/hot tub area. It was really nice and I would definitely stay here again.

River Rock Casino Resort

Sunday was poutine adventure day. We had breakfast at the buffet and then made our way to downtown Vancouver. Our first poutine place was the Fritz European Fry House. The owner was nice and we had a laugh thanks to Sam who thought poutine with pop was something other than poutine with a (soda) pop. He got the original poutine with the gravy and cheese curds and I had a hot dog. Both were delicious. I thought their poutine was even better than the stuff from the food carts in Portland.

Poutine at Fritz European Fry House

We walked around Vancouver for a while, bought souvenirs and I made a stop for a nutella/coconut crepe. While in a t-shirt shop, the cashier told us about another poutine place we had to try. He got the notion Sam was into poutine from the shirt that he had bought…. with the poutine design. We made our way to La Belle Patate, our second poutine stop. Sam chose the poutine with ham this time, but there was so much of it he couldn’t finish. I tried this one too, but liked Fritz poutine better.

Poutine #2

After downtown we visited Granville Island, the market district of Vancouver. It reminded me of Pike Place market in Seattle, with all the meat, vegetable, dessert and goods stands. We bought almonds, the “world’s best syrup” (which trust me, it is), sausage and pepperoni and sat down to enjoy some gelato. We had dinner at a restaurant on the island and enjoyed some local drinks. We went back to the casino and gambled for a while where i proceeded to be up seventy dollars and then lost it all. It was still fun though.

Salmon on a stick and crab cocktail from the marketplace

Our last day was spent driving and having lunch in Seattle. We had a delicious chowder filled meal at Ivar’s, walked around the marketplace and I had to make one last visit to Top Pot. Overall, I had an amazing weekend and would go back to Vancouver. The drive wasn’t bad, the food was good, the resort was comfortable and the city was easy to get around.

Final Comic-Con thoughts

My last thoughts on Comic-Con with my favorite/least favorite moments and some more pictures of the favorite/cool things I saw. Would I do it again? Most definitely! I think this was a learning year and I know now what to do/what not to do.

Favorites:

Meeting Nathan Fillion: I had a bummer of a day on Friday when I couldn’t get into True Blood autographs or the panel. It made my day seeing him and getting his autograph. He was one of the people who was on my list of “celebrities I would want to meet.”

Castle panel: Another Nathan Fillion choice! He was very entertaining and they gave out a cool Castle water bottle. They teased a little from season three and they made him and Stana Katic read out of “Heat Wave”. Probably was my favorite panel.

Thursday, Hall H: I really loved listening to everybody talk; alot of the celebrities on the panels had some interesting things to say. It was worth sitting there all day and the three hour line wait. Expendables was highly enjoyable with all the stories going around about filming; seeing Tron footage was cool too. Loved listening to JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon talk about their projects and their thoughts on movies, tv and each other.

EW/CBS Fandemonium party: This was the highlight of my evening festivities I participated in. Entertainment Weekly sure knows how to treat their fans. On top of free snacks and drinks they added the CBS celebrities to the mix and an awesome swag bag. I got to meet my favorite columnists and loved chatting with them about television. Also met some cool girls that I hung out with for the night (which added on to the fact that most people I met were really nice and liked to chat).

Vampire Diaries autographs: This surely was an accomplishment! I didn’t want to give up on this and even though the mob was atrocious, I ended up getting what I wanted. All you have to do is wait it out! Loved talking to Ian Somerhalder.

Least favorite things:

LINES: Some of these are terrible! There is a line for everything including going down the escalator and crossing the street. I always felt like there was a line to get into a line.

The WB booth: I loathed this booth the whole weekend. If I go back next year, I am going to skip autographs and go to the panels. I don’t know if it is worth it being squished for almost an hour. I know that both WB and the security tried their best but they really need to move this booth somewhere you can have an organized line. They need to designate a better time and place.

Not getting back into Hall H on Saturday: I had already been into the hall in the morning, but because of the stabbing incident I missed out on the biggest event later in the evening which was the assembling of the Avengers. Also missed out on Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. I think I have learned my lesson on leaving my Hall H seat when you know something big is going down later in the day.

Missing out on True Blood: The one thing that I was looking forward to the most and I didn’t get to see any of it. If I go back next year I will definitely need to prioritize better.

Here are some of my favorite things that I saw like props and costumes with the mix of celebrity sightings. 

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My Travels: Comic-Con Adventures

Airport welcome

I decided to write about everything after the week was over because I didn’t have time to do it! There are a couple of things that I learned at my first Comic-Con. One, if you have a seat in Hall H and something awesome is coming up, then don’t leave. Two, no matter how perfect your schedule is and how many things there are that you would want to see, it can’t happen. There is a lot of decision making when it comes to Comic-Con; for me it involved TV vs. movies or panels vs. autographs. This is going to be a long one, so bear with me!

Finally aquired the bag I wanted!

Wednesday, preview night: For Wednesday it was basically our walk around the exhibit hall night. We got into San Diego in the afternoon and Addie and Anna were kind enough to let us store our bags in their room until our room was ready. We headed over to the convention center to check in and discovered a handy trolley system not far from our hotel that would drop us off in front of the convention center. We walked around the hall for the evening and checked out all of the vendors while being handed tons of swag. I had so much stuff by the end of the night I was already thinking about where I would store it on the way home. Including the ridiculous sized bags that we got, I ended up with four of them by the end of the weekend. It took me two hours to find the Vampire Diaries one I wanted and finally some guy traded me his bag. I got to try Pinkberry frozen yogurt for the first time and it was so good I went back again two nights later! We also had our needed In and Out burger for dinner. Overall it was a fun night.

Thursday: Big movie day. Dan, Mindy and I got to the Hall H line about seven and it was good that we got up early. Hall H is where all of the movie panels happen and there are ridiculous lines outside to get in. We waited almost three hours and actually scored decent seats and in between panels scored even better seats. On the agenda was some pretty good stuff. Megamind was first with the attendance of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and a life-size cardboard Brad Pitt. Will Ferrell and Tina Fey were pretty funny together and I loved it when Tina stroked the cardboard Brad while it was on her lap. She said it was “something I always wanted to do.”

Jeff Bridges in attendence

Tron was after and I really liked the panel. They showed eight minutes of footage and the new trailer in 3D. I am pretty excited for this movie and it looked amazing. Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde and Michael Sheen were all in attendance. Jeff Bridges gave us a lecture on recycling plastic water bottles, thought that was interesting. Battle: Los Angeles and Salt were next with Aaron Eckhart/Michelle Rodriguez for Battle and Angelina Jolie/Liev Schreiber for Salt.  Battle: Los Angeles reminded me of District 9 and it looked pretty cool. I don’t love Angelina, but it was interesting to hear her talk about all the stunt work she did for the movie. It was impressive.

Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban and Mary Louise Parker showed up for Red. After seeing a better trailer, I am more interested in seeing the movie. All of the cast were entertaining during the panel. Bruce Willis seems like a leader and a chill guy. Karl Urban is awesome and he even yelled out “are you out of your Vulcan minds.” I can’t wait for another Star Trek. Love him! It is cool to see Helen Mirren in a bad-ass role when she normally plays, well, the queen of England! It should be an entertaining movie. After Red was the awesome JJ Abrams/Joss Whedon panel moderated by my favorite Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff “Doc” Jensen. It was cool to see them talk about movies, their work and how much they like and respect each other’s work. It was cool hearing about Lost from JJ Abrams and how much he loved the finale.

Expendables men

The Expendables was the last movie panel that I attended for the day. The moderator’s first thought about the movie was “it is an old school kick ass movie”. Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Steve Austin and Sylvester Stallone were all there with Bruce Willis stopping by for a quick cameo. It was definitely a man’s panel! It was pretty entertaining though and they showed some cool fight scene footage. When Sylvester Stallone walked in everybody started chanting “Rocky”. It was pretty awesome. He also talked about how there was always a hospital trip for someone during shooting the film and that Steve Austin broke his neck in a fight scene! These guys are hard core. I had to leave the panel early and missed out on more footage but only because I was going to an Entertainment Weekly/CBS party.

Celebrities in attendence at the EW party

I was one of the lucky two hundred fans to get in thanks to EW writer Michael Ausiello and seeing his post on Twitter. I have to give props to EW and I like them even more now because they know how to treat their fans. They did free drinks and free food along with appearances from actors of Criminal Minds, NCIS, the Big Bang Theory and Hawaii Five-O. It was so cool seeing Daniel Dae Kim (Jin from Lost) in person. I didn’t get to get a picture with him but did snag one with Jerry O’Connell and he gave me a high five. I also met Jeff Jensen, Lost fanatic/writer for EW and Michael Ausiello. I told Doc Jensen how much I loved his writing and his passion for Lost. I also told him how much my sister Beth liked him too and he told me to say hi to her! She enjoyed that. Both of them signed my EW issue I brought with me and Michael Ausiello was fun to talk to. They gave out an awesome swag bag too complete with a Survivor buff. Overall the day was awesome and I was really happy that we made into Hall H for all of the cool panels.

Awesome True Blood outfits

Friday: This was True Blood day so Mindy and I dressed up in our gear. Our goal was to try to get autographs and/or get into the panel. This was the one thing I was looking forward to. I scouted out the WB booth for a while, but there was too much chaos. Nothing was organized and WB/Comic con security could not control the crowd. Too many women were hovering for the line.

Nathan Fillion!

Alas we were not successful so we decided to try to go to the panel. We got in line for the ballroom, but as I was checking Twitter I saw a tweet from Nathan Fillion that he was in the exhibit hall signing autographs. This was decision #1 so Mindy, Dan and I decided on Nathan Fillion. The line for the ballroom was heavy and we probably wouldn’t have gotten in so we left and booked it to the California Browncoats booth where he was. We bought the Serenity comic they were selling for charity and even though he had to be somewhere, Nathan Fillion still went along the line to sign autographs. We snapped a quick picture of him and he left. This was one of my favorite moments of the week!

Flynn’s Arcade

We went to the Tron arcade after and on our way we ran into Thomas Jane who snapped a pic with me. At the arcade they had this really cool setup of old school video games, including Tron. They gave out Flynn’s Arcade tokens and had a cool Tron bar area in the back complete with techno music and the trailer showing every couple minutes. Afterwards the three of us split up and I went to a Tweethouse get together on the USS Midway. William Shatner and other Star Trek actors were on hand and other celebrities including Tyrese Gibson and Mark Valley were hanging around. It was nice to get out for a while and the Midway was pretty cool.

Ryan Reynolds

Saturday: Started off in Hall H again and attended the Harry Potter/Green Lantern/Sucker Punch panel. The Green Lantern looks pretty cool and Ryan Reynolds is pretty easy on the eyes! There was the cutest little boy asking him about how it felt to recite the Green Lantern oath and he recited it for him then gave him an autographed Green Lantern comic. A lot of the celebrities I saw were nice and cool like that. They even gave a lucky audience member Green Lantern ring off of Ryan’s finger! Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) showed up to talk about Deathly Hallows and there was some awesome footage shown. I am very stoked about this movie after seeing more clips of the first part. Looks like they are going to include a lot of important stuff for the fans, was very happy about that. They gave some cool swag out at the panel along with a Comic-Con exclusive Green Lantern comic and a cool HP shirt.

Vampire Diaries cast signing autographs

I left after HP and went to the WB booth to see if I could score Vampire Diaries autographs. I encountered the same madness from the day before and debated staying. I didn’t want to give up so I endured being squished for forty-five minutes! It paid off though and they selected me to go in line! It was truly an awesome moments. I got to talk to Ian Somerhalder and he even gave me a fist bump! And yes ladies, he really is that sexy and smoldering in person! Most of the cast was in attendance and I got a cool signed poster. Couldn’t get pictures with them, but I took some of the jumbo tron. I decided to skip the TV panels to get back in line for Marvel.

I finally got to the front doors of the hall only to not be let in because of some crazy nerd stabbing another nerd with a pen near the eye over a seat! The whole hall was madness, along with cops and an ambulance and they wouldn’t let anybody else in. I was bummed out because Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig were there for Cowboys and Indians then the whole Avengers cast showed up during the Thor/Captain America panel. Dan and Mindy did get some cool footage and I was glad that they got to see the panel. We finished our night with some dinner and drinks and went back to pack. Cool side note: Mindy and Dan ran into Ryan Reynolds and Dan got to shake his hand!

Castle cast

Sunday: Last day at the con and it was pretty enjoyable. I went to the Castle panel and got to see Nathan Fillion again. They talked about season three and showed some clips of the new Richard Castle book along with a teaser of season three. Nathan Fillion is such a cool dude! When people went up to ask questions he signed stuff to give to them. He even signed a package of Oreos and his wristband from a party the night before! He was hilarious too. There was the cutest little boy in a Malcolm Reynolds outfit and Nathan was kind enough to shake his hand. I was glad to get into the panel; it is one of my favorite shows and definitely a highlight of the con. We walked the exhibit hall for the rest of the day and then made it to the airport.

One of the many cool costumes

Overall it was an awesome trip. Everybody was really friendly and besides the freaky pen fight, nothing else that was crazy happened. There were so many cool costumes too and I loved that everybody got into it as much as they did. It was fun being a nerd and talking to people about TV and movies. Everybody had their exciting moments with Addie meeting her favorite comic people and Dan and Mindy got their comics signed that they brought. I got to meet some cool people along the way and the celebrity sightings were awesome! You have to keep your eyes open every second because they are everywhere (I kept seeing Dennis Miller everywhere and I also saw Adam Corolla).  I might have only gotten to see a few things I wanted, but it is impossible to see everything on your list.  I think a trip for next year will be in order with a few days tacked on for San Diego. We didn’t have time to explore the city and I definitely want to next time. Until next year!

My Travels: Florida

So I decided I wanted to write about my travel adventures so that one day when I am older and can’t remember anything I can read them. Well, if Word Press still exists! It is like my own “Notebook.”  

Florida

I started off my many travels for the year with a week in Florida. I had never been so it was a whole new adventure for me. There are so many things to do in this state and it was hard to choose which activities were most important. For two months I spent researching which beaches were the most fun, spent time on disney.com and researched any other parks or tours that would be cool to do. It was overwhelming! I of course wrote a few activities down that looked the best and consulted with my travel buddies. 

Day 1: Our flight landed in Orlando a little after four pm on our first day, so it didn’t really leave time to do much. We were hungry so we dropped everything off at our hotel and made our way to Downtown Disney. This is a neat area right near the rest of the parks with tons of shopping and lots of places to eat. We chose Planet Hollywood for dinner and the food was pretty good, but inside is very loud and the waitress was rude. The rest of the evening we walked around the area and of course had to check out the largest Disney store on Earth – the World of Disney. This store has, no joke, twelve rooms devoted to any Disney merchandise you can think of. It was crazy and I think we didn’t even go into every room. Overall, Downtown Disney was pretty fun. The area was pretty big and couldn’t be accomplished in an hour or two. We didn’t get to see everything, but managed to get to the important stuff. 

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

Day 2: Animal Kingdom was our first stop at Walt Disney World. This place was pretty amazing, but made for kids and animal lovers. The Tree of Life though is something that can not be missed. There are animals carved into this massive tree and pictures do not do it justice. We went on the safari that they have and it was like being at a zoo, but the animals get to roam free while an employee drives you around in a jeep. It was neat seeing the white rhinos, especially the baby one. The girls braved the Everest Expedition roller coaster and we took a walk through the jungle trek where there were tigers and silver backed gorillas to see. We stopped in Dino-Land for an “Indiana Jones” type ride with dinosaurs and stopped to meet some characters in Camp Mickey/Minnie. Overall we finished the park in five to six hours. It wasn’t very busy and took no time at all to get through the lines. 

Bambi and Thumper made out of flowers for the festival

We finished the day off by exploring Epcot’s Future World. We mostly rode the rides and walked around the shops. We did encounter a surprise rain storm and it was definitely a different rain from Oregon. Epcot was having an International Flower and Garden festival for the month of May. This was a highlight around the park since there were characters and scenes from Disney movies made into flowers. It was definitely worth walking around to see the different displays. We had a short time in the evening so we only were able to check out the front of the park. 

Hogwarts castle at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Day 3: We decided to head over to Universal Studios for day three. We chose Islands of Adventure over the regular park due to the extreme roller coasters that there were to ride on. I of course chickened out, upside down is not my thing. I did enjoy the Jurassic Park Jungle Adventure and the Adventures of Spiderman. There was also a cool raft ride that left us soaking wet by the end. The park was very fun and had a lot of things to choose from. Definitely would want to get there early in the morning, because there is lots to see and the park closes at seven on some days. The only disappointment I found was that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was not open yet, but you could still see Hogwarts castle and the village of Hogsmeade poking out of the fences to block it. It was a big tease being able to see it and not go in!  This alone would be a reason to go back to the park. We did walk around the Universal City Walk after we were done. This area was for shopping and eating. It just didn’t seem to have lots of stores like the California city walk does. They might have been in another area though. Overall it was a very fun day, I wish we had a little more time though to explore. 

Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom

Day 4: This day was spent at the Magic Kingdom. A whole day from open to close is required here if you want to see the whole thing and go on all of the rides. It is very close to Disneyland, except that the layout is a little different and some of the rides were missing (Mr. Toad, the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones). Even though it was missing some key rides, it was still my favorite place. There is something about Disneyland/Magic Kingdom that makes you be in a good mood no matter what. Even though your feet feel like they are going to fall off and you are dead tired after walking all day long or you are constantly running into people or being hit by strollers, you still have enough energy to finish the park or take another ride on something. Here I went on almost every ride and my favorite has always been Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Like Disneyland, there are also the fast passes to get in line later and these were pretty helpful. Overall the day was amazing and we got to do everything that we wanted to. 

Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Day 5: Spent another day between parks starting at Disney Hollywood Studios. This park was pretty fun, felt like a Disney Universal Studios. We started with the Tower of Terror because I wanted to get it over with! For me it was scary and I had to apologize to Amy because I literally squeezed her hand off! Some kids ruined the drop for us so we knew when it was going to be, but when it happened my whole body was literally flying off the seat! Thank gosh for seat belts! The park also had another favorite of mine, Star Tours and a cool Indiana Jones Stunt show. We went on a new Toy Story ride and a studio backlot tour. I was disappointed by the lack of good places to eat. I wanted a milkshake and could not find one anywhere. We found a 50’s diner to eat at and they had milkshakes, but it was not what it sounded like. We were expecting hamburgers and it was dinners like meatloaf and tuna noodle casserole. So it was more of a 50’s home type diner and not the theme we thought it would be (juke boxes, sock hop type of place).  We finished the rides we wanted to go on and decided to try to finish Epcot. 

Just one of the many from around the world!

We moved on to the World Showcase part of Epcot, where they have different areas representing different countries. There were twelve in all. Three of us decided to “drink around the world” and share a beer from each different country. Epcot is definitely a place that you need two days at. One day for the front of the park and one day for the back. We were pressed for time so we couldn’t really go inside the shops or anything. We also had a goal to finish every beer by closing time! This was probably my favorite evening of the trip. It was a lot of fun and we had some good beers. My favorite was the Italian. We also happened upon a Davy Jones concert and listened to him sing “Daydream Believer.”  We also met some cool Disney employees along the way. By the time we were through all of the countries we were exhausted! I would definitely go back though and explore each country. 

Cocoa Beach pier

Day 6: Our last day was spent at Cocoa Beach, Florida’s space coast because it is close to Cape Canaveral. We were supposed to go on an Eco-tour boat ride of the Banana River, but it got cancelled at the last-minute. My cousin and I were determined to see a manatee though so we found a manatee sanctuary park. There were some in the water,  but we were only able to see their backs and fins. We made a stop at the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop and then made out way to the Cocoa Beach Pier. We spent a good couple of hours on the beach and playing in the water. The Atlantic Ocean is definitely different from the Pacific. It is warmer and you can walk out pretty far with it only being a little above your waist. The water is pretty salty and the waves are rough. There was a time where I got hit and my boogie board went flying in the air! The weather was perfect and it was a great day. We finished the day with dinner on the pier then went back to our hotels to pack. It was nice to have a relaxing last day on our vacation. 

Overall Florida was pretty fun. Disney World was a little overwhelming, but very pretty amazing. If you want to see all of it, a good five or six days would be needed in order to take it all in. I already would like to go back since there were things I didn’t get to do. A visit to Gatorland, Harry Potter World and the Kennedy Space Center are on my list. Probably would do only Epcot and Magic Kingdom again at Disney, possibly a water park. Maybe a drive down south to explore. It was definitely one of my best vacations I have had so far. Next stop: San Diego for Comic Con in July.

My Travel Dreams

So I am the type of person who when I get a little bit of extra money I go on a trip. For me life is about doing the things you want to do and not sweat the small stuff. It is also too short just to sit around and do nothing. And let’s face it, sometimes you need a break! So far in my life I have been to thirteen states ( Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska and South Dakota), Victoria, BC, and Mazatlan, Mexico.  

I like to go somewhere new every year. I broke that rule last year and went to Anaheim again and Las Vegas again. This year though I have  finally abided by my rule and made plans to visit two places I have never been to: Orlando and San Diego. I am very excited for these two vacations. I am spending seven days in Orlando and plan on visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and probably will spend a day at the beach. I have never been to the east coast and look forward to seeing how different it is from the west coast. I wish we had a couple of more days though. I definitely would love to see the Kennedy Space Center and go to Miami. San Diego will be five days devoted to Comic Con and maybe a trip to the zoo or Sea World. Comic Con has been on my bucket list and I was glad to find some people who share the same desire to go.

Even though I am excited for these trips, I would like to go bigger. I am hoping that 2011 will be the year I will get to visit one of my top five places to visit. They are:

 #1. New Zealand: Yes I am a huge nerd and would love to walk the road to Mordor. Besides the Lord of the Rings obsession, this country is gorgeous. I heard from a New Zealander that January or February is the time to go because it is their summer and everyone is at the beach partying.

#2. Egypt: The Ancient Near East was one of my favorite classes in college and I would love to explore Cairo and the Valley of the Kings.

#3. Washington DC: I am a huge history buff and would love to explore this city. I have seen a travelling exhibit of the Smithsonian and just that little taste was not enough. Would definitely want to spend at least a week here.

#4. Western Europe: My favorite subject in history is World War II and I would love to do a backpack trip through Europe. I really want to see Normandy, Paris, Berlin, the concentration camps, London, Anne Frank’s house, etc. My whole trip would be devoted to historic sites and visiting castles.

#5: New York: Another thing on my bucket list, spend New Years Eve in New York at least once.

This year, my goal is to save up enough money to go to one of these places next year. I have not decided on a place yet, so, where should I go?