It is a picturesque autumn day here in Hempstead, New York. The leaves are vivid shades of orange and red, gently being picked off branches one by one and blowing in the light breeze. The sun is shining and the air wraps around me with a light warmth, almost making me forget that temperatures will soon be unbearably chilly.
It’s fall, and college students like myself like to compare this time of the year to falling grade point averages and diminishing motivation to get things done. It is days like today I flash back to summer and wish I were on a beach without a care in the world.
I have been pondering the incredible adventures I had this summer and how fortunate I am to have gained so many precious memories. From cruising along the Danube to driving to Boston for just a day, the trips on which I embarked during the summer were only a foreshadowing of the adventures awaiting me.
The main attraction this semester was my fall concert series, as I call it. I was fortunate enough to attend four concerts during the semester, and of course, I wrote about them.
Until I unveil my experiences, however, here is a summer throwback to my trip to Lake Wallkill with one my best friends. This is something I watch to help me get through this time in which everything is “falling.”
I went to prison this Halloween, and it was thrilling. When I got the chance to visit Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary, a historical landmark in Philadelphia, with my best friend, I was super excited to be jumping out of my skin in fear. I didn’t quite do that, but my heart was definitely racing throughout the six attractions offered within the cellblocks.
Feelings right before entry
In my experience, the worst part of haunted walk-throughs is the heart-pounding terror that runs through my body before I actually get inside. Just the thought of what lies behind the walls is enough to make me tremble with fear. Before my friend and I entered we were struck with a choice: to wear a glow necklace to notify actors that we can be touched and “tortured” throughout the attraction or to not wear the necklace and take the safer route. Although we started off with the necklaces, we ripped them off less than a minute of entering the prison.
We braved through a series of six sections of the jail, each portion a different theme, such as an infirmary, a “breakout” of inmates on the loose and a creepy, decaying forest. My favorite part was the infirmary, because by that point, I was more excited than scared. My sarcastic side revealed itself when the actors told me they wanted to take my teeth, and I replied with, “I need those, but I could use a whitening.”
All smiles at the end
The final verdict? I think Terror Behind the Walls was really entertaining, and I would definitely recommend it to other thrill seekers. It had me screaming a stream of profanities, but I was not quivering with as much fear as I expected. I would love to visit Eastern State again, but for a regular prison tour at night. I would love to meet a ghost or two!
As I said in my last post, my visit to MA was not over with the concert. I was lucky enough that Mitch, one of my friends from Rome, was off of work Thursday and was willing to see me. So, he drove 40 minutes to Blue Hills Reservation in Quincy, MA to hike around with me a bit.
The trail at Blue Hills we followed was gorgeous, with big rocks lining the path and sunlight scattered on the ground through the canopy above us. On the way to the peak of the hill, we stopped at a stone tower, which was a lookout point that gave us a nice view of Boston and its surrounding greenery. We reached the peak of the hill for some relaxation and conversation before turning to head back down.
After Blue Hills, Mitch took me to Quincy Quarries Reservation, which is an old quarry that is now covered in graffiti. It is definitely one of the coolest things I have seen. It hasjk a great view of Boston, and it was an overall fun and unique place.
I parted ways with Mitch and left right from the reservation to go home. As I was leaving, I could not believe how fortunate I am to have so many great friends. From Danielle making be breakfast the day prior, to Sarah and her extremely welcoming family and Mitch meeting me to show me some MA nature, I had an amazing trip all because of the people I was with. I am still so thankful I decided to drive up to MA alone because I definitely made unexpected lifelong memories.
(Stay tuned for a video of my adventure with Mitch!)
I’m not one to make spontaneous plans. This is mostly because I prefer to have things planned out and my schedule is forever jam-packed. However, this is not a normal summer for me. So, when a spontaneous opportunity arose two weeks ago, I took it.
My sorority sister, Sarah, had an extra concert ticket for the When It’s Dark Out Tour at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. When I realized I was able to make my first and longest solo road trip to see her, I was ecstatic.
I left my house on Wednesday, the day of the show, at 5:30 in the morning. I did not sleep much that night, but I knew my excitement would keep me alert on the road. The first impression I had once I left the NJ/NY area was that there were so many trees lining the highway. Not that there aren’t any trees in NJ, but a recent widening on the Garden State took some trees away, and I still have not accepted it. The ride was pleasant and I was jamming out to the radio the whole three and a half hours it took me to reach my first stop: my best friend from school, Danielle.
I promised Danielle that I would make it to her house for about a year and a half, and I am glad I was able to keep my promise. She lives in a beautiful house in a former farming village in Connecticut. When I walked in, I was greeted by her, her loving dog and blueberry pancakes on the griddle. It was such a pleasant and unexpected visit with a great friend, and I am so thankful I was able to see her.
Another three hours in the car filled with top-40 music and charming sights, and I made it to Sarah’s gorgeous home in Massachusetts. She was actually not home when I arrived, but her mother was extremely welcoming and even gave me left over swordfish from the night before. Like Danielle, Sarah also had an affectionate dog.
Sarah arrived a bit later and although she was stressed from being at the Apple store with her brother, we ended up talking about a range of topics and catching up for well over an hour. We then began getting ready for the concert and I met her brother and his friends. Apparently, this was concert was his birthday present.
We arrived at the concert with a large amount of time to spare and found our way to our seats, which were actually really close to the stage. The first performer was Logic, an American rapper from Maryland. I am not usually one to listen to rap, but Logic was actually a very talented and sincere person. He explained how much our support meant to him, encouraged us to never give up on our dreams and even created some music with his computer right there on stage. He was so down to earth and I definitely became a fan.
The headliner, G-Eazy, took the stage shortly after, and unsurprisingly, he was a great performer. It was a blast dancing along with Sarah, who happens to be head-over-heels for G-Eazy. It was an exciting night with incredible people and I am so thankful I was able to join Sarah. The concert alone made the drive up worth it, although my plans did not end there (to be continued).
On the water in the morning and by afternoon, walking through a bustling fair on 8th Street, NYC. That was my Saturday. If that could be my life regularly, that would be one successful life.
A trip to NYC is not something I will write about often, as I attend school in Long Island and frequently visit, especially when I have an internship. Plus, I am not trying to write a blog about my adventures in NYC. If that were the case, this blog would be named “Sara in the City.” However, Saturday filled me with the epitome of satisfaction and I am eager to share it with you.
Saturday started off with a beautiful ski on the Toms River. This was my first run of the season. The water was cool and the air was warm. The whole group was there: my dad, my dad’s father, Pop Pop, and my dad’s best friend, Mario. We hit the water like we hadn’t stopped for almost a whole year. The entire time I was skiing I was singing and squealing like a kid who just opened the most epic present ever. I was pleased with the duration of my ski, and even more pleased with the fact that I kicked a ski off so effortlessly, risking hurting my already inflamed and bruised toe. Our ski trip was a short one, as Pop Pop and I had an exciting day planned for us: We were headed to see Les Miserables on Broadway with my grandma.
I was in such a light and cheerful mood after my ski that I decided to run a mile along the water before hopping in the shower and rushing to get ready for Pop Pop’s 9:25 am arrival at my house. There’s nothing like some action on the water and a brisk jog to start the day off right.
We decided to take the bus to New York, which takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes from the NJ Transit terminal in Toms River to Port Authority in the city. My grandparents chatted with me the whole way up, and I could tell they were beyond thrilled to be seeing this with me. This was a super special trip for all of us because they tried persuading me to see this show with them when I was a child, but what eight-year-old girl wants to view a show about a war in France? Not this one. It took me until I saw the premiere of the motion picture of Les Mis with my high school theater group to fall head over heels for this show. For those of you who do not know, Les Miserables is about the hunt for a man who broke parole, and his adopted daughter who falls in love with a university student fighting for revolution in France during the 1800s. A movie description from IMDb can be found here. Ever since I realized how moving this show was, it was my dream to see it with my grandparents. Although this was my third time seeing it on Broadway, this was just as special as my first time seeing it, and I knew this would be the last time I see it before it ends its run on Broadway.
Prior to the show, my grandparents were enthused to take me to Carmine’s, a famous family-style Italian restaurant. The incredible thing about this place is that one plate of food can serve multiple people. Although the restaurant says a plate of pasta can serve three to four people, each dish can definitely serve at least six. We met a nice family there; apparently the father had gotten out of jail not too long ago, and had been saving money to take trips with his two children. It was a very inspiring and unusual encounter. We ended up giving them our dessert because there was no way we would finish it.
We finished dining and headed over to the Imperial Theater to see the astounding musical. As assumed, it did not let me down and I think I can say the same for most of the theater, as all I heard were awe-struck sniffles around me at the end. We headed back to the bus station and headed home to end our fantastic day.
Why did I want to tell you about this? This was simply another appreciated visit to my favorite city to add to my list, but for others, NYC is a huge trip. The thing about Saturday that made me so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude is the fact that I was able to wake up to a sunny, bright day, hop into the water, get some exercise, and then two hours later be breathing in the hustle and bustle of New York City. I often struggle with myself about what exactly I will do when I am done with school and where I will live. I am in love with the fast-paced, colorful city life, but my heart is also anchored in the ocean. Saturday showed me what life could be if I work hard enough and ensure that I continue doing what makes me happy.
“Step with care and great tact, and remember life’s a great balancing act!”
That’s what Saturday was: a balancing act. I morphed the two things that fill me with passion into one day. To be able to do that brings me great joy and appreciation for what I have done and can do in life. Being aware of what is possible will hopefully help me achieve my goals and balance my passions as I journey through this beautiful life.
I leave for Costa Rica in less than a week. During my stay, I will be fishing for two days, so what better way to prepare for some staunch fishing than to go fishing? Wednesday’s trip was for bluefish, which was my first time hunting this fish.
We woke up at the crack of dawn to head out to the ocean by six in the morning. The best part about waking up this early was seeing the sun slowly creeping into the air, illuminating the pale sky with vivid oranges and yellows. We fished out of the Barnegat Inlet, which is right off New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park.
My dad was stoked to get my sister and I out on the water before we hit Central America and he promised a great day to get a base tan for the trip (Dad was really trying to get us to come). Between the the clear skies and calm waters, low temperature system and westerly breeze, it was bound to be a good day. However, it did not quite pan out to be a busy day on the water.
We chased the blues a few different ways. First, we used a type of fishing called “trolling.” This involves dragging lines behind the boat at a slow speed to get a fish to hop on the hook. While our 23 foot Chaparral motor boat was not in motion, we would cast our lines and reel them in at a moderate pace, while bopping our poles up and down. Attached to the lines were a type of rig called “bunker spoons” which bring the rig downward into the water and resemble a fish swimming. While trolling, we also used an umbrella rig which is made to look like a school of fish. For every one foot of depth, it is necessary to let out about ten feet of line. The deepest we fished was up to 40 feet.
Without much luck outside the inlet, we headed towards the inside of it, where we saw some birds preying on bait fish. We knew that since there was a lot of bait fish in the area, there must be some blues underneath. Our luck changed once we moved to the inside of the inlet, because my sister caught an impressive bluefish. It was no easy fish to land. Just to get the magnificent creature in the boat, I had to stable the pole as my sister reeled the line in. We definitely made Dad proud when we won that battle.
Being in the sea opens up a new appreciation for nature’s beauty within me. I am surrounded by an ocean so large and so deep, I can only skim the surface of the majestic mysteries it has to offer.
That fish was our only keeper of the day, but we did not mind one bit. Something I have really thought about lately is how important it is to have good company. Today I had the best company, I learned a few things and I spent the day soaking up the sun and breathing in the salty air. The best part of the day, however, was the reward we had for dinner-our own fresh fish.