Mount Vernon

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With all of the craziness occurring in politics currently, I’m reminded of our trip to Mount Vernon last February. It was both of our first times visiting, and we had a wonderful time.

When you first arrive, you enter the Ford Orientation Building and can take a picture with the Washingtons and their grandchildren. It’s a wonderful greeting to Mount Vernon and made us excited to start exploring.Mount Vernon 7

Once outside the building, we ventured along the pathways until we saw this beautiful sight across The Bowling Green. It was so exciting to see such a familiar building and know we would be stepping inside soon.

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We journeyed around the East side of the mansion, where we found the Blacksmith shop. They have live demonstrations from modern-day blacksmiths who shared and showed how the shop was used during the time President Washington lived there.

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We had a wonderful time exploring the grounds as well. George Washington is said to have taken great pride in the grounds and gardens of his home, and it shows. There was beautiful landscaping, paths and trails throughout the woods, and evidence of what I’m sure is a beautiful garden during the spring. We visited in late February, which I’m sure doesn’t show the landscaping at its peak, and we were still very impressed. Mount Vernon 9

One of my favorite parts of visiting Mount Vernon were the sweeping views of the Potomac River. The mansion was perfectly situated so that you could admire the natural beauty surrounding the property. Thankfully, the land situated across the Potomac has been preserved as parkland, so hopefully the views will survive for years to come. Mount Vernon 10

We spent the time before our scheduled tour simply enjoying the scenery and imagining what it must have been like to wake up with such beautiful views every morning. I would love to visit again on a sunny day or perhaps at sunset! I’m sure the views are stunning year-round.

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Soon it was time for our guided tour, so we headed back to the west side of the mansion. Each tour is led by a friendly, knowledgeable tour guide, and I thoroughly enjoyed our journey through the home. It was amazing to picture our former President Washington penning a letter at his desk, or imagine the former first lady greeting visitors in the foyer. The mansion was well-preserved and beautifully restored, so it was easy to think what it must have been like for visitors staying in the famous home.

Mount Vernon 5 I simply expected to spend some time walking around and enjoying the scenery, but I wasn’t anticipating the sense of patriotism and pride for our first President and country I felt at the end of our tour. Unfortunately, photographs were not allowed inside the mansion, but I can still remember so many of the beautiful details. You could really sense the pride George and Martha Washington felt in their home.

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We had a mini photoshoot outside the mansion, that I will allow you to enjoy below. 🙂 It’s just such a scenic area, it was impossible to resist! 😉

Mount Vernon 11 Mount Vernon 12 Mount Vernon 13 Mount Vernon 14 Mount Vernon 15 I snagged one of the clever George Washington for President buttons to wear around the property, too!
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Louis and I strolled over to the original vault and current tombs for the Washingtons for the last outdoor part of our visit. The original vault is pictured below, but Mr. Washington requested a larger tomb be built to house his remains along with those of his family after his death. The fact that he specifically requested to be buried at Mount Vernon should prove how much he loved his home. Mount Vernon 19

Once we walked past the tomb, we got caught in a bit of a rainstorm, so we hurried back to the museum to explore inside (where it was warm and dry!).Mount Vernon 20

We spent a couple of hours browsing the museum, and there was a lot to discover. It covered all of President Washington’s life, his time at Mount Vernon, and America’s history during his lifetime, as well as several personal artifacts of his and Martha’s. He was a pretty incredible and very interesting man.Mount Vernon 21

I happily wore my George Washington for President button the more I learned about him!Mount Vernon 22

Finally, our day came to a close, and we headed out. If you’re considering visiting Mount Vernon, I’d highly recommend it! It’s fun for all ages of people who love America. 🙂 There are also more interactive activities, areas of the grounds to explore, and facts to learn. I’m sure the outdoor activities are big during the warmer months, too! I’m thankful such a wonderful piece of American history has been preserved so well.
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What are your favorite patriotic spots on the East coast? I’d love to know for future trips!

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TraveLANG: New York City in February

Have you ever had a day so perfect that even before it was over, you knew you’d remember it forever? I had one of those days on February 20th. I had been in Maryland for the week because Louis was there on business. On a whim, we decided to spend Saturday in New York City. And it was SUCH a great decision. We lived on the east coast last summer (oops, I should probably blog about that…) and visited New York City almost every weekend, so we figured it would be fun to visit in the winter.

We woke up at 6:00 in the morning, got in our rented Nissan Versa and enjoyed the most gorgeous sunset on our drive. We arrived at the NJ Transit Secaucus train station a few hours later and caught the next train into the city.


The weather was perfect. It was just cool enough for our heavy jackets and just overcast enough to take great pictures. I warned Louis on the way to the city that I was going to be taking a LOT of pictures all day…trust me, I pared them down quite a bit for this post. 🙂 2

Our first stop was The New York Public Library to see the beautiful architecture.3

It was beautiful on the inside…almost like a museum in itself! We wandered the hallways, popped in all the unrestricted rooms, and tried not to annoy the many people studying inside. (Probably unsuccessfully.)45

I loved how grand and ornate everything was! We both agreed the library looked like how we imagine the American version of Hogwarts may look…or at least the American Ministry of Magic. (Yes, I know there is a whole new chunk of information about the wizarding world in North America that we’ll learn even more about soon…Praise the Lord!)67

As you can see, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which made the structure even more impressive and easy to admire.8

This was the “globe room”, which suddenly made me realize I desperately “need” a globe somewhere in our apartment.  9

I distinctly remember saying we needed to take pictures of the rows of books below, “So we’ll remember we were in a library!” …As if we’d forget? 10

With Kindles, iPads, and tablets, I feel like hardbound books are starting to become a thing of the past. However, so many rooms we walked through in the library seemed like they were frozen in time 30 years ago, which I kind of loved. I couldn’t pass up taking a picture of the sign on the microfilm reader below reading: “Please Be Careful Not To Bang Your Head Against The Overhang When Getting Up From This Microfilm Reader. Thank You.” Louis and I wondered how many times this happened before they decided a sign was a necessity. 🙂11

More things of the past? These payphones! (So archaic in fact that I just had to Google “public phones” to remember what they were called…) We stopped and made a few calls (psych.) before exploring more.12

Louis loved these lions made of Legos created to resemble Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions guarding the library.13

After we had our fill of the library, we wandered over to Rockefeller Center. Since we were last there in the summer, we were eager to see the ice rink for the first time! We’ll have to go back during the holidays sometime to see the famous Christmas tree! (Made famous by Home Alone 2 in my mind, of course.)14

After watching the ice skaters for awhile (and sadly seeing no one wipeout), we walked over to admire St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It really is quite beautiful. 15

Our journey continued over to The Plaza Hotel…again, famous for being in Home Alone 216

We admired the general splendor from the outside, and I lost track of how many times I said, “Guests of The New Celebrity Ding-Dang-Dong stay at the world-renowned Plaza Hotel, New York’s most exciting hotel experience!” Please tell me someone knows what I’m talking about. (I’ll give you a clue…HOME ALONE 2)17

Once inside, we tried to act like we were staying there, but I think our touristy outfits and my insistence that we take selfies in every mirror may have given us away.18

We climbed the marble staircase and found a beautiful ballroom that I’m 99% sure we weren’t supposed to go in to, but life is short, and I was happy to admire it.19

We decided to balance out the glamour of The Plaza Hotel with a DELISH lunch at Shake Shack. I stayed in line to order our food, while Louis awkwardly stalked eating people in an attempt to snag us a table. His stalking paid off, and we got to enjoy our burgers and fries at a table with a window view. Anyone who has tried to get a seat at the Shake Shack by Times Square at noon, knows what an achievement this was! 20

With our tummies full, we strolled over to Times Square. I just feel like you can see in the picture below how HAPPY we were. It was such a wonderful day so far and not even halfway over!21

We snapped between 2 and 200 selfies from every possible angle, because…why not?22

There was also a cool art exhibit (?) of these giant gold shards, so we snapped another picture together there.23

After I had my fill of Times Square pictures, we walked over to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. We couldn’t come into NYC and not see a Broadway show, so we snagged tickets for the matinee of Finding Neverland. 24

We joined the already forming line outside the theater, next to the van below, which Louis remarked looked, “like a unicorn…no! A uniCONE.” Is it any wonder I never get tired of hanging out with him? Hilarious. He insisted I take a picture, so we could remember it forever. 25

Even though we purchased tickets relatively last minute, we managed to get fabulous 5th row seats in the mezzanine, which were awesome considering how tiny the theater was. The show was amazing! We both loved it. It was funny, emotional, and heart-warming. Plus, we got the extra special treat of seeing Kelsey Grammar during a limited time engagement as Charles Frohman/Captain James Hook!!! Yes, Kelsey Grammar, as made famous by Home Alone 2….er…I mean, Frasier! He was so talented and hilarious! A true highlight of the show.26

The show ended around the time the sun started setting, so we decided to stroll through Central Park to enjoy the sunset on our way to our last stop in NYC.272829

There were people out walking their dogs, jogging, and relaxing. It was a totally different vibe than when we were there this summer. It felt more laid back, and I was happy there weren’t as many tourists crowding the walkways or people bothering us to buy their self-produced CD or take an overpriced carriage ride. 30

We walked over to Bethesda Fountain and Terrace (ALSO SEEN IN HOME ALONE 2, SORRY NOT SORRY) to snap a few more selfies. For people who aren’t as avid Home Alone 2 fans as we are, this spot was also seen in Gossip Girl, Elf, and Enchanted. 🙂 It’s a great, easy-to-access photo opp! 31

Once we’d had our fill of Central Park, we quickly walked to, possibly, our most important destination of the day…Ladurée. We became addicted to their vanilla macarons this summer, and we couldn’t wait to have more! I don’t care if this sounds snobby, but you haven’t had macarons until you’ve had Ladurée. Seriously, no other macaron I’ve ever eaten even compares. We spent an embarrassing amount of money there, and we had no regrets. We ate them immediately as a snack, for dessert later that night, and as breakfast the next morning. Worth. Every. Calorie.  32

We caught an Uber from Ladurée on the Upper East Side back to the train station to head back to Secaucus. Instead of driving straight back to Maryland though, we decided to make a pitstop in Princeton. We lived there last summer, so we wanted to head back to our old stomping grounds to enjoy some spots we used to visit all the time.33

First we went to Conte’s to enjoy some delicious pizza. This place is the epitome of a college town pizza spot. Drinks served by the pitcher, the only decor is beer and sports posters, and college games are on every television. Most importantly, they have great pizza! 34

We couldn’t eat, TOO much pizza though because we definitely had to go to The Bent Spoon. To give you an idea of how amazing this ice cream parlor is, there was a line out the door when we got there…at 10:00 PM…when it was 30 degrees outside…in the middle of winter! If that doesn’t prove how delicious their ice cream is, I don’t know what will.35

They make it fresh with local, organic, seasonal ingredients every day, and it is indescribably delicious. Louis stuck with his traditional double scoop of vanilla bean, and I got a bit more adventurous with strawberry mascarpone. YES. STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE. It was seriously the best flavor I’ve ever had there…and possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.36

Once we finished every last lick of our ice cream cones, we hopped back in our rental car, and drove back to Maryland. We finally climbed back in bed around 1:00 in the morning, bellies full of east coast treats, minds full of fun memories, and totally content.

Shout out to Louis, my sweetheart of an adventure buddy who is always coming up with amazing things for us to do together and always being up for anything. I can’t wait to see where life takes us next!

If you made it this far, thank you for letting me recap our day in painful detail. It was just such a perfect day, and I want to remember every little piece of it forever.

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