Sculpture in New Jersey

Since being back in Central Pennsylvania, I’m very happy to say that I’ve been able to seek out some pretty awesome locations and points of interest around three hours away in various directions.  I definitely recognize that in my youth, I did not research what was close by to investigate.

A few weeks ago I was able to explore “Grounds for Sculpture” in Hamilton, New Jersey, only about two hours and 15 minutes away from home.

The compound is expansive with over 42 acres, 300 sculptures plus indoor exhibits that rotate.  I hope you enjoy some of my favorites shown below.  If you are anywhere in the surrounding area, this place is definitely worth a day trip!

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Virginia is for Lovers…of caves.

This post is a bit overdue…but a busy life can be a rewarding life…and I’m happy to have a few things to share very shortly.

Who knew that just three hours south of my hometown, people from around the world flock to an area in Northern Virginia to go spelunking.

On the surface, the ground is lush, the trees are mature, the area is filled with adorable small towns – the kinds that have lots of antique stores and ice cream shops.  Below the surface, however, is where most of the action is.

On the way down to Virginia, I was sure to be on the lookout for interesting things to see.  The goal was to travel to Luray and see the caverns.  I was stunned to find out that Luray was a hot spot for international travelers…who knew?

I also didn’t realize that there are handfuls of caverns in that area of Virginia.  The scenic byway (Skyline Drive) is also not to be missed.  It does cost $20, but the ticket is good for a week or so, which came in useful.  On a beautiful, sunny day, it was awesome to wind around the curvy road, pulling off to take some photos, seeing other tourists from all over the world.

Not far from the scenic byway is Skyline Caverns.  It was a nice, unexpected excursion.  Originally, the first day of the weekend was going to just be a travel day to get to the hotel in New Market.  We were going to see Luray the next day and drive home the day after that.  However, with so much to do at our fingertips, I was pretty excited that we were able to do so much more than expected.

Skyline caverns was a great way to get a taste of what was to come.  The tour group was a decent size and our guide was friendly, knowledgeable and entertaining.

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The next day we made our way over to Luray Caverns.  We happened to be there over Memorial Day weekend, but no matter when you go, I’d suggest getting there super early to get a good place in line.  There were no assigned reservation times, so I wanted to get there early while waiting in line would be more comfortable, and get onto one of the first tours.  (The line wraps around the building and down the sidewalk, so waiting in the mid-day sun would have been uncomfortable.)

Our tactic worked! We were on the second tour and we were able to have our awesome cavern tour (which includes a hymn on the famous cavern organ) in no time.  After the tour, we had a snack, looked around the gift shop and then decided to head on to another adventure.

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We passed a little town square filled with tents, like for a craft show just a few miles away.  I guess many things were happening for the holiday weekend, so we strolled around talking to all the artisans.  I picked up some homemade body scrub before making my way over to the pulled pork BBQ stand.

With a full belly and plenty of time to spare, we decided to check out Endless caverns as well.  There really were many to choose from, but Endless was on the way back to our hotel, so that was an easy choice for us.

The tour was a bit smaller and it was nice to have more time to take pics and look around.  The compound itself was also nice, perched on a hill, surrounded by nature, near a campground.  Everything in this area seemed to be family and pet-friendly.

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Travel Quotes, Chapter 4

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Travel changes you.  It changes your perception, your thought patterns, your patience, your dreams.  It makes you consider things you never would have thought to consider before.  I’ve traveled more than the average US citizen, obviously far less than some…but if I never travel again, the very fiber of my being has been impacted and forever changed for the better because of those experiences, in large part due to traveling solo.

“Being solitary is being alone well:  being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than the absence of others.” – Alice Koller

By getting out of your comfort zone just once in your life can change everything in your world magical ways….

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Travel Quotes, Chapter 3

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” -Anais Nin

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” -Anna Quindlen

 

Don’t be afraid of doing something uncharacteristic.  If life is dull, take a step down a different path.  I’m not saying quit your job, become a hippy and live in a tent the rest of your life.  Quite frankly, that job is necessary for most people to travel in the first place.  All I’m saying is try to live more fully.  Forego buying that cute pair of shoes or the newest cell phone that just came out five minutes ago and put a few dollars every paycheck into a travel fund.  Once you have enough to play with, look into a few destinations, read travel guides and blogs, and when you’re ready, buy a ticket.  The ticket could be to a new city, state, country or continent.  Your happiness will grow and your life will expand just for giving it a try, regardless of the number of miles you travel.

🙂

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Travel Quotes, Chapter 2

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.”  -Chuck Thompson

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”  -Aldous Huxley

 

Have you ever noticed that the most negative and worrisome information tends to come from negative and worrisome individuals who tend to watch too much TV and don’t travel enough, or at all?

I believe human nature is mostly good at heart.  I believe that like attracts like, and I believe things happen for a reason.  I also believe that everyone should take responsibility for their actions, research an area before you travel and ultimately go where you feel you should go and spread your wonderful human nature as far as you can.  I guarantee you’ll be rewarded many, many more times that not…so don’t put too much energy in the naysayers.  Will your experience be perfect?  No…trips are usually perfectly imperfect.  But in the end, you’ll have a life-changing experience, and most likely prove a large number of people wrong, while everyone else is jealous of your courage and sense of adventure, while being upset at themselves for being overcome with fear and negativity.

Go into the unknown and show the unworldly people how amazing the world is!

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Travel Quotes, Chapter 1

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

-Lao-tzu

“Travel makes one modest.  You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

-Gustave Flaubert

 

Many people around the world, educated people full of knowledge and awareness, come to understand how small their own personal world is, once they take that step forward and experience a different place.  We are all guilty of keeping our minds and bodies in a comfortable box of sorts…which I believe is human nature.  But, taking one step into some place new will humble you to your core…or, at least it should.

After that…how your world will change. 🙂

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Being an Armchair Traveler….

It has been a full year since being back in the states.  Besides the usual occurrences of spending time with loved ones, looking for/securing a job and then finally earning some money, I’ve been pretty stationary.  But…I’m surprisingly ok with that…for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be content staying in one place forever and ever, with no hope of traveling to different lands, foreign or domestic, ever again.  But, traveling can be hectic, time-consuming and even exhausting, even during the most positive, amazing travel experiences.  Therefore, some down time to rest and recover from my two years away has been much needed…as well as some time to rebuild my travel fund!

So even though I’ve been in this stationary period, I’ve gotten to talk travel in a surprising number of places.  Every job interview I’ve had since getting home (there have been many) has touched upon my work experience as an expat.  (Not many applicants have two out of three jobs on their resume being a position in a foreign country.)  Also, as my nieces learn about different countries in school, they know they have an Aunt who is willing and able to share personal accounts of time spent in said locations.  No doubt this will help with their classes, but I also hope it coaxes and nourishes a desire to physically explore their world one day.

Since Netflix is now part of my life once again (we’re reunited, and it feels so good!), I’ve also spent some time looking at documentaries and programs featuring remote areas of the world or unique locations.

I’ve also caught up on my favorite travel blogger’s posts, read some travel-related books and memoirs, and listened to some lectures discussing why we travel and how our personalities lead us to make the choices we do.  Interesting stuff!

Needless to say, I’ve had a great year of soaking up some travel-related activities and keeping in touch with my globe-trotting friends.  This year has also given me the chance to curl up with a delicious cup of tea on a cold night and dream of sweet tropical adventures yet to be savored.  Day by day, I can feel the strengthening of my travel funds and my batteries charging to full capacity.  This period of time has been fruitful and satisfying in its own way, and dare I say, much needed.  Sometimes a slow period is required in order to forget about travel frustrations, luggage weight restriction debacles, sheer exhaustion from traveling a full 24 hours to get home, working tirelessly to organize travel logistics, and challenging oneself with language barriers.  After the little pop-up stressors are gone, it’s easier to focus on the amazing experiences and memories that will be forever carried forward, which all help to propel you toward the next life challenge.

I can only wonder what these charged travel batteries will stir up as 2017 continues to unfold.

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