The Great Smoky Mountains National Park


So the next stop of our trip was the Smokys and we could not ask for better weather. It was PERFECT I tell you... the three days there were mostly overcast with the sun peaking out from time to time. Kyle and I also stayed at our very first hotel together (since we've been staying at Airbnb on every travel) and it was... weird. haha! It was also the cause of my worst experience on this whole trip combined. After hiking from 10am until 8pm on the second day, Kyle was dragging me into the hotel's pool which was HUGE and had this crazy big slide and jacuzzi and all this fancy stuff and I swear that was the reason why I woke up the next morning with my eyes tearing. My contact got irritated and I couldn't even open my eye. I didn't bring glasses or a new pair of contacts so... it was the worst. I immediately called my parents to overnight ship my contacts to the next destination we'd be at, which was Asheville. That whole day, I couldn't hike, I could eat because I felt nauseas, and I had the worst headache. Although it was slowly getting better, I still could not see out of one eye and that was making me SOOOOO dizzy. So much so that I decided to buy an eyepatch. Yep, I walked around the Smokys with an eyepatch, and since this was on the last day, I also walked around Asheville the same way. Boy did I get the craziest looks. I went two and a half days either one eye blind, or with an eyepatch on. #adventure .. right?

Anyways, on a positive note, the highlight of the entire stay had to be sunset on Cingman's Dome, which was 6,644' up there. We decided to climb up about an hour before the sun came down, and underestimated how high and how cold it would get. The temperature dropped about fifteen degrees and it was such a steep walk up that although we had plenty of time to get back to our cars to grab a sweater, we decided against it because I don't think my calves would have made it back up a second time. So, it was FREEZING. I was sitting up there in my tank top and shorts and poor Kyle was shivering the entire time. He went up and down the walkway a few times just to warm up and even stayed at the bottom of the dome until it came closer to the sunset. As I was setting up my camera next to all the photographers, the man right next to me happen to be a professional photographer working on the most visited national park in the whole United States... The Great Smokys! He was doing this piece for a British company and also shot pictures for National Geographic in the past. He shot with all Nikon cameras and was lugging around this backpack that was about 25 pounds filled with three tripods, 7 or so lenses, and two camera bodies. When he saw what kind of camera I was shooting with, he let me shoot a few of my shots with his lenses and I just about screamed. How lucky did I get?! Also, he explained to everyone up there (who was complaining about the cold) that this was his third and final opportunity to climb up Clingman's Dome for a sunset. He said that the past two days were too overcast, the sun didn't even make it out, and that today was perfect. So again... how lucky did we get to be able to witness that beautiful sunset and exchange words with this man?! Pretty darn lucky. After the sun came down, we lingered for about 15 more minutes, while everyone went running down, and caught some beautiful colors. And although it was about 45 degrees at this point, I felt a little spark of warmth when I thought about how much this climb was worth it and how lucky I am to be on this trip with Kyle. 


Firefly Music Festival


So Kyle and I went to the Firefly Music Festival this year at Dover, DE! We went two years ago for only a single day, but last year they stopped selling single day passes, so we missed out. When the lineup came out this year, we knew we just had to go for it and buy the 4 day pass... and THANK GOODNESS WE DID! I seriously had one of the best weekends of my life at firefly. It was just filled with good company, positive vibes, and GREAT music. We got to Travis Barker's drum solo session an hour early and was honestly like 15 feet from him... unreal. And of course, Kyle just about peed his pants when he saw Blink 182 play. Last time we saw them live was about 6 years ago and we'll see them again in Atlantic City this summer. Mumford and Sons & Florence and the Machine were AMAZING.... gosh they had me in tears.

Firefly was less than week after the tragedy at Orlando and the death of Christina Grimmie, and at first I felt so guilty having such a blast at a time where the world was filled with so much darkness, but after almost every band paid tribute to Orlando and the LGBTQ community, I realized why I was really there. Music is SO powerful - it unites, speaks to, and moves people. There were times when bands dedicated a song and a moment of silence to the tragedies that are going on in this world, and I cried. I cried on more than one occasion actually and I closed my eyes and thanked God for music. At a time when I was filled with so much anger, frustration, sadness, and heartbreak, music brought me a moment of happiness. I hope that at this time of darkness, people see the light. I hope that people remain aware of what's going on in this world, open up to differences, be supportive and helpful to those who mourn, and speak up when needed. Although it may be hard, try to remain fearless in this fearful world we live in. 


Boston, Massachusetts


Welp, here it goes... the last video of my summer trip last year. When Kyle and I began our excursion, we started off at Boston, spent three days there, rented a car, and drove to Maine for the rest of our trip. We got a round trip bus from NYC to Boston for like $36 so how can you beat that?! On our first day there, we went to the Sam Adams Brewery, watched a baseball game at Fenway Park, ate lots of hot dogs, and traveled an hour out to get the best ice cream on our list. I actually had ice cream 6/9 days on this trip so...hehe. Anyway, Kyle and I jam packed all of our days and literally woke up so early each day to fit all the activities and find time to hit up food in between. We visited college campuses, wore ponchos out in the pouring rain, rode on trollies, traveled through subways, rented bikes for a day, and walked. A WHOLE LOT. We also ate more food on this trip than I'm willing to admit. I'll be posting an itinerary of our trip with all the food spots we hit up in case anyone wanted the recommendations. There are so many things to do in Boston, and even if we were up and out from 8-11 every day, we still feel like there is so much we didn't get to see. But with $36 round trip tickets, I'm sure we'll find ourselves back there one of these days for a weekend trip. Here are a few more pictures and the video I put together (where Kyle spills the beans on the secret to getting into MIT) ;) 


Portland, Maine


So I guess I'm going backwards with my posts because Portland was the second stop of my summer vacation trip with Kyle. This town is beautiful. It's small, artsy, and filled with good coffee and good food! In fact two of my favorite meals of all time were from Portland (post about ALL my food from this trip will be posted later). Anyway we talked to a lot of locals who seem to have the same love for Portland, but unfortunately (& fortunately) the tourist scene in taking over the town. We stayed at an AirBnB of a woman whose apartment was right by the water. She was being kicked out because she just couldn't afford paying for rent after living in Portland for over 20 years. Because of the increase in tourist, there's a drive for summer homes, nicer looking apartments, and of course only people who can afford to pay for them. Many of the locals were now being pushed on the outskirts of the city because of how quickly Portland was booming and transforming. A few shop owners we talked to had mixed feelings about the whole thing because it was awesome to see their town grow in the music, arts, and food scene, but sad to see it come from a small town where almost everyone knew each other to, at times, an overpopulated place filled with tourists.

We loved it here and everyone was SUPER nice! We visited the Portland Lighthouse (which is the lighthouse showcased for Red Lobster) and it was absolutely beautiful. Kyle and I try to visit all the lighthouses we can and this was the most breathtaking one. Unfortunately, we went on a gloomy day but I can just imagine how much more beautiful it would be on a bright, sunny day. We also visited Allagash Brewing Company and Mt. Battle in Camden, Maine... not Camden, New Jersey! ;) 

And of course, here's a quick video of our time here :)