Wandering where the WiFi is weak

This past summer, I traveled to the West Coast and I took a drive up Mt. Rainer. I’ve visited this park nearly 10 years ago on a weekend excursion but the bad weather conditions prevented me from reaching the top. During my second attempt, I was careful to plan the trip around a time that would be decent enough for the climb up.

Visiting the mountains in the State of Washington is a must do and a trip worth while exploring. While I wanted to go live to share the experience, I opt to snap photos of the breathtaking views instead!

R.I.P Aretha Franklin

As a young child growing up in the inner city, listening to R&B music was a staple in my household. My mother kept a collections of records in a crate, alphabetized I might add, stretching from the front door to the end of the hallway. While my siblings and I were not permitted to play with mothers prized possessions, we were however given the chance to listen as she played her favorite musical classics. It was something about this music that when played would cause the whole block to stop and rejoice. My mother wanted everybody to embrace in the soulful sounds of Marvin Gaye, The O’Jays, Patti Labelle and a plethora of others. There were many ballads I learned to sing as I listen sonically but later on I began to appreciate the lyrics. Of all the artists I was exposed to me through my mother’s weekly jam sessions, I gravitated to the lovely voice and soulful spike of Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin was an international diva who took me on a journey with her music without me having to leave my living room. I can remember reading about her in magazines, posters and on the back of album covers. Like many great individuals, she fought the good fight and lived her life to the fullest. She left a legacy of great hits to to be treasured for decades and beyond. While her music filled our hearts, her lyrics fed our soul, Rest In Paradise Queen Aretha.

From Day One to One Day

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I can remember the first day I was exposed me to the world of traveling abroad. My sixth grade teacher shared her summer vacation experiences traveling through Asia.  She brought in Polaroid (hand-held photos for you New Schoolers) pictures of her family in Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong, which at the time seemed so weird to me and other classmates to learn of a black people traveling to a place so far away. During her presentation, she spoke of how she enjoyed the journey, learned to speak Mandarin, dine with the locals and even dressed in the traditional wear during her visit.  It would be years later that I would learn of another teacher that would experience going abroad, many classmates nor family never wanted embark on the challenge.  When asked by my international colleagues why many Americans never traveled, especially African-Americans, you’re bomb rushed with a plethora of reasons such as some not having the resources, poor decision-making early in life, illness, lack of knowledge and exposure can account for large amounts of individuals not experiencing a life time treasure.  While I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity the leave the United States, I often think of my community as I am now collecting my souvenirs and garments to share once I return back to my neighborhood one day.

I was 35  when I entered the globetrotting community and Asia was the first place I visited, who would have known!  I’ve grown so much as an educator and even discover outside of the beautiful monuments, art work and food tours, I grown to enjoy people-watching.  I admire large families who expose their children to the world of travel at such a young age.  Although they may be too young to realize it, later in life many go on to develop into global citizens, speak many languages either verbal both non-verbal which also prepare them for rewarding professional careers.   Being a realist, I know the thought of hopping on a plane and traveling across the globe for many young pupils in poverty-stricken communities are mere dreams but I strive to do my part by sharing and promoting the joy of travel with my old colleagues, students’ nieces and nephews.  I dedicated much of my summer vacation traveling through the states, taking them on trips outside of the community and when time permits, weekend road trips will soon become a staple.  I’m impressed with their language when they speak about our staycation in passing, I am certain they will develop the desire travel much sooner than later.

I met an avid traveler during one of my frequent  airport layovers that spoke about the best birthday present she had received was a passport application  along with a money order of the amount needed to complete the registration.  It’s a great idea I plan to adopt for my family members in the near future.   It’s as if history is repeating itself but with the help of technology and a more globalized society, dreamers are now becoming believers! If I could find that teacher, I would like to thank her for opening my eyes to a world outside of Chicago, Illinois, Midwest and the United States.  A place that once seemed so large to me as young student, has now become so small.  Yes, as clichéd as it sounds the sky’s the limit and it’s through the clouds you will begin to discovered that true learning comes from just observing the world, even if it through the experiences of others First!

Urban Eatery: Batter & Berries

One of my favorite pastime when traveling is the opportunity to dine-out at some of the popular hot spots in that City.  Yesterday a friend and I decided to have brunch at the popular Batter & Berries restaurant. Occasionally, I will visit local eateries provided if I felt it was safe to do so and in many cities across the globe there are a few.   This restaurant received so many rave reviews that I had to give it a try. It’s located right in heart of Lincoln Park and just short two miles from Old Town. We were seated rather quickly, although I read from many blogs that the wait could easily stretch past an hour. The dining area is small, but I’ve experience dining a restaurants that seated less than twenty.  I ordered the Shrimp & Scampi Omelet (an odd combination but one nonetheless) and my friend a BLT.  Our waiter was extremely nice and the service was good.  We were seated next to a large party having a B & B fest, consist of those famous French Toasts that I would most defiantly try on my next visit there.

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While I didn’t care much for the loud music so early in the morning, the vibe around the restaurant was real. Everyone there seem like frequent visitors, I was probably the only newbie taking on the experience for the first time.  I’m guilty of taking food pics because I’ve and seen some strange and yet delicious dishes in my travels.  This day, I dove in before taking a photo, just to see what the hype was all about. While my friend complained about his sandwich, I on the other hand  sampled my omelet which was good.  We both agreed that on our next visit we will start off with the fan favorite, The French Toast Flight!

From the Ghetto to the Gold Coast

“16 Shots! 16 Shots ! 16 Shots!”  Finally a protest that will not be ignored!! I’ve been glued to my PC since viewing the horrific killing of Laquan McDonald. A young African-American shot to death 16 times which was captured on a police dash camera.  The video, albeit being shown a year later, has shaken up the city at large and  upset the masses.  When the advertisements began posting to my Facebook timeline about a “Blackout” on “Black Friday” needless to say, I got excited.  I’ve watched  the protests in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York.  I’ve read  the stories, I harbor sympathy for the victims and families all effected by the current situations happening in urban communities across the United States.  Usually when we decide to protest, we stayed within our confines allowing our voices to only be heard within the corner blocks in the neighborhood.  This time, we decided to ventured outside and took the fight Downtown,  on the Gold Coast and the Magnificent Mile, where this protest wouldn’t surely be forgotten.  Enough is enough as cliche as that may sound!  Shot a kid sixteen times?  No I didn’t know him,  but I have researched his background and he defiantly didn’t deserved to die that way.  The videos, interviews, pictures and conversations about the unfortunate event are priceless!  Hopefully one lost soul would become enlightened by these recent catastrophes will get help educated.  To those who are educated and may have forgotten about hard times were tough for us coming up, especially during the crack era must now WAKE UP!!  What happened to Laquan, can happen to anybody.

The Jolly Green Giant

Today I decided to visit a site referred to as the “landscape under the glass”, The Garfield Park Conservatory. I considered this place to be a hidden treasure on Chicag0’s west side. It consists of 8 sectors, the Palm House, Fern Room, Sugar From the Sun Room, Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden, the Desert House, Aroid House, Show House and Outdoor Gardens. With a mission to explore, examine, experiment and explain our relationship with plants, the Conservatory serve as a botanical paradise to the lives of Botanist.

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There is no place like it on earth!!