Thursday, November 29, 2012

#1a - Washington, DC - Part 1

My birthday.

No, that isn't a typo. My first visit outside of Maryland came just a few hours after I was born. That's what happens when your parents are told throughout the entire pregnancy that their baby is healthy and has a strong heart beat and when she's born, she's blue. I try not to think about what it must have been like for my parents during that time. My mom was obviously stuck at the hospital where I was born and my dad was caught between his wife and his new baby girl that had a complex heart defect and was being transported by ambulance to a different hospital.

Obviously everything turned out fine since I'm here today writing this blog. I spent the next month living in DC at Children's National Medical Center and then had to go back for appointments every few months after that until I was four or five. I thought the hospital was the only thing DC had to offer. I had no grasp on everything it had and still has to offer me.

I'm grateful that this post is happening at this time. It gives me an opportunity to bring together two very important parts of my life and allows me to open the door to write about things besides my travels. While I realize that I set this up to be a travel blog, there won't always be a post for me to write about my travels and writing about my life with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) will fill those empty travel times. As I reflect on the name of my blog, 50some, it rings true with my CHD as well. The cardiologists predicted when I was a baby that I would live well into my fifties without needing any sort of additional medical intervention. I'm at a crossroads right now that is almost certainly going to end in a change of direction and a need for intervention.

Since this summer I've been making pretty frequent trips to the beautiful district. It moves me every single time I drive down there as I take Capitol Street and get to see the Capitol Building for a few brief moments. While driving into DC isn't my favorite thing to do, it's a necessity these days.

I don't want to overload the health information as it's a lot of medical terms and each new test my cardiologist has me do is revealing a new problem with my heart. The basics are that I was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries and had an arterial switch done at one week old. Up until this summer I was seeing a pediatric cardiologist and a scare with heart palpitations ushered in my transition to the Adult Congenital Heart Clinic at Children's National Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center. I now see a cardiologist who specializes in adults with CHD and he's been finding some not so up to snuff things going on with my heart. It isn't working like it should and right now he's trying to find out everything that isn't working correctly so that he can design a plan to make things work better than they are now. I will be having a procedure done sometime in the coming month that will gather some more information and possibly correct one of the issues that's been found.

So there's the story of my first visit to DC and a lot more about why I now go to DC on a fairly regular basis. I'm going to do another post about my first tourist visit. That was a lot more fun and not nearly as intense as my first visit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

100 Things I'm Thankful For

In light of some recent medical stuff going on for me, I'm very thankful that tomorrow is a day dedicated to being thankful. I'm being proactive this time around and not letting myself go through the roller coaster of emotions I've been on lately so that means creating a nice long list of just a fraction of the things for which I am grateful.

You may have noticed that I changed my biography for this blog as I'll be expanding it to include my health stuff since day by day that's becoming more an active part of my daily life. I'll still be including my travels. My next post will actually combine both as I talk about my first visit to this great nation's capital city. For now though, here's a list, in no particular order, of what I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

1. My faith in a God that I believe is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present
2. My mom, my dad, and my dad's wife
3. My brothers, sister-in-law, and almost sister-in-law
4. My two best friends and their husbands
5. Ice cream
6. My job and coworkers
7. My nephew (he's the cutest almost 10 month old on the planet)
8. My mom's dogs
9. My iPhone
10. My college diploma
11. My friends from college
12. The young adult small group at my church
13. My Sunday school kids
14. The color pink
15. Popcorn
16. Netflix
17. Pandora radio
18. Humidifiers
19. Cassie the Corolla
20. Rewards points on credit cards
21. Cream of wheat not tasting like oatmeal
22. Reese's peanut butter cups in any size or shape
23. Decaf coffee
24. The Wizard of Oz
25. On Demand on cable
26. All things pumpkin flavored
27. USA Today's daily crossword puzzle
28. My one boss' black lab that comes to work with him on a pretty regular basis
29. Facebook
30. Writing this blog
31. Reading Rants from Mommyland, The Bloggess, and Momastery
32. Emery boards
33. Chapstick
34. Tervis tumblers
35. Drinking straws
36. Old coworkers that turned into friends
37. The ability to walk/jog 3.2 miles on a consistent basis
38. Flannel sheets
39. Books, books, and more books
40. The used book store near me
41. My church
42. Short work weeks
43. My cardiologist and the ACHD clinic at Children's
44. Belts
45. American Eagle jeans
46. Sperry Top-siders
47. Google
48. My watch
49. Sunday afternoon naps
50. Washington Redskins, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Capitals, the US Men's National Soccer Team
51. The Flow game on my phone
52. My Disney pillow I've had since I was a baby
53. Envelope moistener with adhesive
54. The ability to hit golf balls at a driving range
55. Twitter
56. Paychecks
57. Letter openers
58. Sweat pants
59. My aunts, uncles, and cousins
60. TV shows on DVD
61. YouTube
62. Hoodies
63. Laughing
64. Living within walking distance of my dad's house
65. The Bible
66. Jillian Michaels' workouts
67. The time I had with my grandparents
68. The advances in medicine in my lifetime
69. The beach
70. Southwest airlines
71. Spontaneous dance parties
72. Breakfast sandwiches with hot sauce
73. Dunkin Donuts
74. Live music
75. Live theater
76. Musicals
77. My college experience
78. Waking up this morning
79. A roof over my head each night
80. Living in Maryland
81. Phones breaking within the warranty period
82. Health insurance
83. Family get togethers
84. Coupons
85. My allergies not attacking me this fall
86. Text messaging
87. EZ Pass
88. Having braces straighten out my teeth
89. Car insurance
90. Pictures
91. Christmas music and movies after Thanksgiving
92. Tissues
93. Purpose face moisturizer
94. Other people who are knowledgeable in things which I am not
95. Amazon wish lists
96. GPS
97. Caffeine free soda
98. Friendly and helpful customer service people
99. Board games
100. You for reading this blog :)

So there's my list. There's plenty that I left off of it. Actually there's probably more that I left off of it than actually wrote. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 5, 2012

#16 - Rhode Island

November 3, 2012

This trip had an early and unusual start. I knew my flights were going to be funny when I got the 'A' group for both of them. Shout out to Southwest for always creating an enjoyable flight. Anyways, there were only seven people who purchased tickets for my flight to Providence and only four of us showed up. It was the first and probably only time I'll be the first passenger to board the plane. After a delay due to some software glitches, we were off and I was sound asleep like a baby. We landed a little late, but that was fine with me.

The airport in Providence is the largest in which I've ever been. I walked the long walk over to get my rental. Enterprise hooked me up with a new (~2,000 miles) Chevy Sonic. Besides a few weird things like having trouble with my blind spots, it was a sweet ride. It was also dark gray. My rental in Connecticut was dark gray. I own a dark gray car. Coincidence much? I headed off to get breakfast and then went to the Roger Williams Zoo.

How cute is he? She? This was in the Australasian house. I saw some animals at the zoo that I had never seen before and some old favorites of mine. The zoo also was hosting a jack-o-lantern type exhibit and they had a bunch of pumpkins all over and even some hanging in the trees. I actually spent a good bit of time at the zoo because there were so many animals to see. As I was heading through one of the last groups of animals, a bird pooped on my backpack strap. Lucky me. The zoo also had two bald eagles. They were rescued and are unable to fly well so they don't have any sort of netting over them. I only got a picture of one of them as the second one seemed to be laying down. I've been telling myself that it was just sleeping. After the zoo, I headed back into the downtown area to park at the mall and walk around before a special event at Macy's in the largest mall I've ever been, Providence Place.

Oh hey, Clinton Kelly! He was there for his Makeover America tour. I watched him critique a few women then the fashion show started and I left to walk around more. I then came back just as he was walking out to do his book signing. He's really tall and very funny. His quote of the day was definitely, "The higher the boobs, the closer to God." Ladies, go get your professional bra fitting if you haven't in the past year. I saw some beautiful buildings while I was walking around and a random group of what I assume to be military reenactors marching down the street. Providence has a weird clash of the artsy students of Rhode Island School of Design and the ivy league students of Brown. It was very apparent in the city that both schools consider Providence their home. It also is a modernized city that still has historical routes. I loved seeing the different eras come together in the city.

Providence was a great way to end my little tour of parts of the northeast. I currently don't have any plans to travel to new states so I need to get back to the drawing board and figure out where to go next. I've had a few friends express interest in coming with me on trips so hopefully some of those can work out. In the meantime, I'll continue retracting my steps through the states I've visited. Don't forget to check out all of my pictures from this trip via the link on the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Planning for Providence

It looks like as long as my local airport gets its act together that I'll be heading to Providence. Sandy didn't do much damage in the city of Providence for which I'm grateful. Part of me didn't want to do this trip this week, but now that I've started making my schedule for the day, it's shaping up to look like a fun day reminiscent of Boston. Tonight as I planned, I learned the two cities are apparently only an hour apart.

I don't know yet what order I'll be visiting these places and I'm not sure I'll make it to all of them due to monetary restrictions on my part, but here's the list of where I'm looking to go:

-Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design
-Roger Williams Park Zoo
-Rhode Island State House (just a quick stop for pictures since it will be closed)
-Providence Athenaeum
-Benefit Street
-Macy's (Clinton Kelly will be there doing his makeover tour)

I'll have about eight hours in the city which is a good time frame since there's so much I want to do. I'd love to find a history museum to learn more about the state. I'm enjoying seeing the state houses of where I'm going and I know that I won't always be traveling to the city where they are so I think I'll be making sure I visit the state houses as often as it's feasible.

After trying to decipher the schedules for the trains, planes, helicopters, taxis, and whatever else you can think of, I'm leaning towards getting a rental again. It will depend on traveling within the city once I look at a map of Providence and a phone call to a taxi company up there that works with the airport.

It can get tedious planning these trips, but it makes it totally worth it when I get to see some really cool stuff and get some awesome pictures. Many thanks to the city of Providence for having a website listing all of the fun stuff to do and see in the city.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#1 - Maryland

My birthday.

I'm totally not putting that out here for total strangers to see, but let's just say it was in 1987. Maryland is the wonderful place that I was lucky to be born in, grow up in, go to college in, and currently live in. It has some drawbacks to it, but overall I can't imagine spending my life anywhere else. There's mountains in the west, the ocean in the east, and cities, suburbs, and farms in between. We theoretically get all four seasons although most years the seasons are out of order and/or at least one is abbreviated. You can drive from where I live in MD all the way down to the end of Florida on Route 95 and not pay one toll. Unfortunately, to even go through the city of Baltimore which is just north of me, you have to pay a toll and many thereafter to head north. Thank goodness for the invention of the EZPass.

Maryland is right next to the beautiful Washington, DC. There are so many things to do there, but more on that later when I talk about my first visit to it.

I am beyond blessed to live in this area. It's one of the most prosperous in the nation and while that can prove quite entertaining and frustrating, it has also allowed me to have many opportunities that I would have never had if I grew up somewhere else. I will go ahead and say that we are some of the worst drivers. I'm sorry if I've offended my fellow Marylanders, but seriously? We slam on the brakes in the pouring down rain, we basically come to a stop just to look at an accident scene, we fly up the right lane next to a merge just because the lane was open, and signals are optional. I will say though that most of us can properly use a traffic circle.

In keeping with the topic of ridiculous things we like to do in our state, I have to talk about when the cold weather hits here. This is especially relevant because of the crazy storm that they're predicting might take place this weekend into next week. The weathermen are usually incredibly wrong with their predictions of how much or lack there of snow we're going to get which has caused this paranoia in all of us. If we're told there's a 0.00000001% chance that ONE flake of snow is going to fall from the sky, we flock to the nearest place that sells food and stock up as if we have to feed the entire state for a year off of only the supplies in our house. There have only been a few horrendous snow storms that I can remember and even then, we only needed supplies for a few days before we were able to make it to the grocery store.

I'm sorry I don't really have any pictures for this visit, but my whole life involves this state so in reality that would be a lot of pictures to look through. It will take a lot for me to move from this area. I love visiting other places in this great nation, but Maryland will forever and always be my home. It's where my heart will always be and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

#15 - Connecticut

October 13, 2012

My trip to Connecticut was a short one. My plane landed at Bradley International Airport at 8:45 and I took off for home at 4:45. After doing some research about where I wanted to go, Hartford, I was glad that it was my short day. I just went to Boston three weeks prior and that city is very tourist friendly with great public transportation and so many free things to do and see. Hartford really wasn't like that. There wasn't a good option for me to get twenty minutes south of the airport down into the city so I decided to rent a car. It was the first time I was happy that I was twenty-five.

I took the free shuttle over to Budget and a nice man named Danny helped me out there. We got to talking about my goal to see all fifty states after he confirmed that I was only renting my car for one day. He asked me if I was writing a blog about my travels and then asked if I was going to include the territories after he started listing the states he had been to and included Puerto Rico. I told him I hadn't thought about either of those things and we started talking about what I was going to do that day. He suggested I make the trek down to New Haven to look at the shore line. I told him I'd think about it and went outside to find my 2012 Jeep Liberty which was nothing like the compact car I had requested. It was beautiful.

I still hadn't decided whether to go to New Haven so I decided to plug in my GPS and at least get to Hartford. I didn't know where I was going in the city so I naturally chose the closest Marshall's. Once I got there I made the decision to just go for it down to New Haven so I searched for points of interest on my GPS and chose Lighthouse Park. The picture above was taken at the park and was my first attempt at parking that beast. As you can see, I failed miserably. I have a hard enough time parking my little Corolla on a daily basis. Lighthouse park was beautiful.

I then headed back up to Hartford to go to the one place I planned on visiting, the Connecticut Historical Society Museum. The helpful woman behind the front desk suggested I write a book about my travels and one of the other guys working there said that my dream was crazy, but in a good way. He seemed genuine about that. I learned about the history of Connecticut as well as dogs and cats and stamps. The museum had a lot of interactive opportunities so I left my mark in as many places as possible. After the museum I decided to head into the city and go to Bushnell Park. The ING marathon was still going on so I went in circles trying to find a place to park. I ended up right near the finish line for the marathon and cheered for some people as they finished. I then walked up a really big hill to see the Connecticut State House. I'm sorry Maryland, but their state house is way cooler than ours.

Isn't it beautiful? After that I walked around the city. I was way underdressed for the restaurants and the one clothing store I found had me imagining the scene in "Pretty Woman" when Julia Roberts first goes into that one clothing boutique while she's dressed how Richard Gere met her. You all know which scene I'm talking about. The clothing in there probably cost more than my car. The other stores in the city were closed already which seemed odd to me, but maybe I was just in the wrong part of the city. I decided to just head back to the rental place. Danny was still working so I got to tell him I drove down to New Haven and he wished me luck in my travels. I took the shuttle back to the airport and flew back home to the great state of Maryland where I was greeted by my best friend who was nice enough to pick me up and drive me home. Shout out to my dad for taking me to the airport in the morning and dropping me off and picking me up when I went to Boston.

Next up is Providence, RI so if you have any suggestions on where to go, leave them in the comments for me.

The Challenge

It all started this summer while I was sitting in church one Sunday morning. The senior pastor at church was on a sabbatical for the summer so the other pastors in the church were taking turns speaking on the topic of dreams. My friend and the youth pastor at the church, Mandy, preached a sermon titled, "Where is the Dreamer in You?"

She told a story of her dream to write a novel so she decided to participate in National Novel Writing month. It's November if you're wanting to participate. She talked about how accomplished she felt even though it's a story that will never be published. She had written a novel. As I sat there and listened to her speak and watched the excitement she felt talking about what she did, something stirred within me. I was finally able to articulate my dream. It's a dream that I had been vaguely tossing around in my head for a while, but was never quite able to put a label on.

I want to travel to all fifty states.

Dreams have been a tough subject for me ever since college when I decided to let go of a dream I'd had since I was seven years old. Ever since I gave up pursuing being a teacher, I partly felt like a failure and partly felt a lot of pressure to find my purpose in life. Since then though I've learned that no person has one single great purpose in life besides my religious views to love God and love people.

So I set off on my quest. I listed out the states and crossed off the ones I've been to for something besides passing through. My total was a sad and pathetic thirteen. One of my bosses told me about a special Southwest was running so I looked at my calendar and booked three trips. This blog will be the stories of my travels. I'm not traveling to new places all the time so that will give me time to go back and retrace the steps that got me to where I'm at. Come along for the ride - planes, trains, and automobiles are all included.