TravelBlogue (Part 3)

New York, NY

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

Manhattan Temple

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

TravelBlogue (Part 2)

Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

National Gallery of Art

Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Capitol Building

Washington Monument

Korean Veterans War Memorial

Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Washington National Cathedral

Washington, D.C. Temple


TravelBlogue (Part 1)

Hello. My name’s Amber. It’s been a month since my last blog.

What?? No way! I can’t believe how much time has passed. The month of March has been a whirlwind ride. Let me give you an update.

I knew March would be “all about Summit” and I prepared myself for long hours. I wasn’t disappointed.


The first week of March was our last week of preparation for SUMMIT 2011 ( I stayed busy scheduling 40+ customer meetings for my boss and two of his team members.

The highlight of the week was Tuesday night when a few of my coworkers and I stole away a few minutes and watched the beginning of “American Idol” and ate food from Macaroni Grill. It was a good reminder that life would get back to normal soon. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend that followed and got ready for the big show.


On Tuesday afternoon there was no denying that Summit was ON. As the first meeting start time approached I started getting butterflies in my stomach. The good news is that everything went fine and the parties were fantastic. The highlights of the week were the Wednesday night Lenny Kravitz concert and the Thursday night karaoke party. I think it was the sixth or seventh time THIS IS YOUR BAND ( played for us and I love them every single time.


I usually take the week after Summit off and this year I had special plans to visit my friend Jane in Washington, D.C. Jane is in the first year of her physician assistant graduate program at George Washington University and it just so happened to be her Spring Break. Honestly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Here are the highlights from the week:


Jane picked me up from Dulles and after we dropped off my stuff and chatted with her roommates the two of us headed to RAY’S HELL BURGER in Arlington for dinner. Later that night we painted our nails and watched “Red.” It was a perfectly chill way to begin our vacation.


Jane made crepes in the morning and I got to meet more of her roommates. Everyone was very nice and the crepes were fantastic. We went to church that afternoon and then went on a walk and invited people over for games in the evening. After several lively rounds of Catch Phrase and Sedarahc (“backwards charades”) the competition got pretty heated. The evening ended with a limbo competition, an arm wrestling tournament, a handstand contest and a dance-off. Whew!


After fueling up on pizza and hot dogs at Costco we set out for the metro and got off at L’Enfant Plaza and walked into the first museum we spotted. Much to our surprise every museum was FREE. The day went something like this:


When we walked in we were blown away by all of the rockets, planes, space shuttles, lunar rovers and jets that were suspended from the ceiling and displayed on the floor. It was fantastic.


Jane and I walked through the gallery in chronological order and it was very interesting to see the evolution of art throughout the centuries. The oldest paintings there were heavy and religious and the more modern ones were soft and scenic.


We loved this museum! We were mostly fascinated by the dinosaur fossils and I found out that Jane loves elephants. I just kept staring at the skeleton of an ancient crocodilian ancestor that must have been 30 feet long. Eventually we wanted into the minerals and gems area and got a glimpse of the Hope Diamond. Pretty cool!


We only had about 45 minutes to check everything out before the museum closed. By this point we were pretty tired but we made it through almost ¾ of the museum. We really like the fashion exhibits and we got to see a pair of ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” (1938). The most random thing was running into a friend from my hometown. It was a wonderful surprise.

After the museum closed we went in search of food. Somehow we managed to walk a mile and a half to GOOD STUFF EATERY ( and it was well worth it. We ran into one of Jane’s friends on the way there and he told us to get the Obama burger. The burgers were really good and the shakes were even better. We made the trip back to the metro and headed home.

Jane built a fort in the living room using the conventional items (couches, curtains, blankets, broomsticks and a pinch of masking tape) and we watched “Jurassic Park” in honor of our dinosaur friends at the Natural History Museum. It was awesome!


Our number one priority on Tuesday was to go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. When we arrived we received tickets telling us to come back at 12:30 pm. It was about 10:30 am so we set out to see the monuments. We made it to the Washington Monument, the World War II Monument, the Korean Veterans War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We even made it to the White House before catching the subway back to the museum.


Neither Jane nor I knew exactly what to expect when we entered the museum. The hallways were full of displays and written descriptions of historical events. It would take hours to read everything that was written there. As we approached the section of the museum that detailed life in the concentration camps we saw display cases containing the personal effects of some of the prisoners. There were water canisters, suitcases, combs and tooth brushes, just to name a few. Further on in the exhibit we passed through a room that was full of leather shoes. I kept thinking of the people who once filled those shoes, used those toothbrushes, drank from those canisters and packed those suitcases. It made them more real than ever before. It felt like a small part of them had lived on forever.

When we left the museum we headed straight to the DMV and nearby mechanic to finish the process for getting Jane’s car registered in Virginia. To our surprise the strip mall included a dollar store where I bought my one and only souvenir and a place that sold pupusas (a Salvadorian food). We ordered a couple before heading back to the mechanic. They were mighty tasty.

Later that night we went to Institute and then watched “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (are you noticing a theme here?) We had forgotten how ridiculous the movie was but there was one part that made all four of us jump and scream at the same time. Maybe we were extra keyed-up due to an overdose of Cadbury Mini Eggs. Yum!


Jane had to study on Wednesday morning so I set out for ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY ( I had wanted to go ever since I’d seen “Saving Private Ryan” in ’98. After about an hour and a half I headed back to house and Jane and I left for Georgetown. Neither of us knew exactly how to get there but when we came out of the metro station one of the workers was nice enough to give us directions. We just had to walk about four blocks and then cross Key Bridge before we hit M Street which is the main shopping breezeway. We got a nice view of Georgetown University on the way to M Street. We browsed the shops on M Street but we were more interested in finding a restaurant. We decided on OLD GLORY BBQ ( and totally loved it. But we couldn’t stop there, oh no!

We went to GEORGETOWN CUPCAKE ( which is featured on TLC’s weekly show “DC Cupcakes.” We had to wait in line for about 15 minutes before we could go in and I was surprised by how small it was in person compared to how it looks on TV. I was even more surprised to see both owners (Katherine and Sophie) working behind the counter. Katherine was taking time to talk to the kids in the shop and it was pretty cute. I couldn’t help but try to snap a picture of them.

On Wednesday night we went to dinner at Jane’s friend’s house and I got to see two of Jane’s former roommates from P-town. It was a happy reunion. After dinner Jane and I drove to the LDS Temple. One the way there we passed the WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL ( The GPS unit in her car took us on quite the trip and on the way back we decided to ignore it until we got on a freeway. Jane told me the streets of DC were designed to prevent an enemy infantry attack and that totally made sense to me because the streets are crazy there! She was a real trooper and got us to and from the temple in one piece. I even caught a glimpse of the Iwo Jima Memorial. When we got home we pretty much collapsed and watched “Jurassic Park III” (inside the fort, of course).

THURSDAY 3/17 (St. Patrick’s Day)

On Thursday we bade farewell to Washington, D.C. and boarded the bus to New York City. We booked our tickets on MEGABUS ( and they were only $17 (each way)! The bus was a double-decker and we got a seat on the top level. The ride was 4 hours and 20 minutes long. When we arrived we promptly located an uptown subway entrance and checked into HI NEW YORK HOSTEL ( I had stayed there last July and liked it just fine. After we finished putting our stuff in our locker we headed back to the subway and rode to Times Square. We looked for a restaurant and happened upon another barbeque place ( It was hard to not compare it to the Georgetown restaurant and even though Jane was squished in the middle of four tables, we still enjoyed ourselves. The best part was the mint ice cream sandwich we shared.

After dinner we walked to the Minskoff Theater and saw THE LION KING ( During the opening number the audience cheered and clapped every time a new animal appeared on stage. The atmosphere was electric and contagious. It was a great show and afterward a few of the actors were wandering the lobby collecting donations for Broadway Cares. Jane and I also cared but we hoped that a portion of our $120 tickets would make its way into the Broadway Cares collection bucket.


We designated Friday as our final museum day. First we took a quick trip to the Lincoln Center to take a look at the Julliard School and the LDS Temple. Next we walked to Columbus Circle and took the subway to 81st Street.


At this point in the week we had paid a whopping $0 for museum admissions (gotta love D.C.) and it was a bit of an adjustment to pay a “suggested donation” of $16. However, we knew we would get to see more dinosaur fossils and so we forked it over. Unfortunately the subway/basement entrance we came in through was less than show-stopping. We had to walk for a long time before we saw jaw-dropping displays but when they finally appeared they were definitely worth it. The creepiest thing there was a huge spider crab and a little sign next to it saying the largest ones grow to 15 feet (from outstretched leg to outstretched leg). It still sends chills down my spine.


Admission to the MOMA is usually $20 for adults but it is free every Friday from 4-8 pm (thank you Target!) We timed our visit just right and happily picked up our free tickets at the guest counter. My favorite thing there was probably Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” although I really liked the Pollocks as well.


Once again we scored free admission (every Friday from 5:30-7:30 pm) which definitely made up for the fact that they have a mandatory coat check. (You are not allowed to carry around a jacket. You have to either wear it or take it downstairs to the free coat check. Weird, right?)

After the museum run we went in search of dinner. Once again we found an all-American restaurant and even though it had the feel of a tourist trap, we walked in. (We had spotted an Indian restaurant a few blocks earlier but I was way too tired to walk back there.)


The place was packed but at least we were mentally prepared for cramped seating. I really liked the food I ordered. Jane had her third barbeque sandwich in three days which basically made for a week chock full of burgers and BBQ. We couldn’t help but ogle the dessert cart and we ordered one slice of cheesecake even though the price wasn’t listed on the menu. I figured it couldn’t be more than $9. The cheesecake was a “perfect 10” but you’ll never believe how much the single slice cost: $12.50!!! Ah well, at least we saved all that money on museum admissions.


Jane took the subway back to the Megabus station early in the morning and I checked out of the hostel around 11 am and walked to the M60 bus stop. I had a 3 pm flight from La Guardia but Delta tried to pull a fast one and canceled my flight. Luckily I got to the airport early enough to catch a flight through Chicago which got me home two hours earlier than my original flight would have. Sweet!


Somehow I have landed safely and managed to crash smack-dab into spring. Actually, where I live “Spring Solstice” is really just a date and there’s no telling when sunny weather will head our way and stay. For now I’m perfectly content to walk out of work at 5:30 pm into nearly blinding sunlight. It’s the best!

March, it’s been fun. However it’s after midnight and I really have to run. Good night, sleep tight and don’t fall for the $12.50 cheesecake!