Posted in Travel - USA

Chasing Sakura Trees

Sakura Trees or Cherry Blossom Trees seems to be a difficult travel experience to schedule as the trees peak bloom dates vary every year. The first time I tried to schedule a vacation to view the sakura trees in Japan was in 2017. Usually, the first week of April is a safe date to schedule your vacation to view these trees. However, when my sisters and I visited Osaka for the first time, it wasn’t even peak bloom yet. There might be one or two trees in the entire location that we were in that’s in full bloom and a lot of people are in that one tree trying to get a good photograph.

This year, my sister want to experience the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and when she was fixing our schedule, the National Park Service was predicting peak bloom during the Easter weekend. Unfortunately, due to weather changes, the peak bloom was a week earlier. We still pushed through with our vacation as she said it peak bloom usually last two weeks before the flowers changed to leaves.

On April 3, 2021, we had an early start and parked less than a mile from Lincoln Memorial. The majority of the cherry blossom trees in Washington DC is located at the Tidal Basin area. When we drived into DC, we were excited as the trees are still full of cherry blossom flowers. From the parking lot we booked on SpotHero, we tried the scooters which litter the streets. We didn’t taken into account the wide area of no parking zone for scooters in famous locations of DC. In the end, we had to walk from one place to the other just to reach our destinations.

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Posted in Food, Travel - USA

Cross Country Coffee Tasting

From January 24 to February 2, 2020, my husband and I went on a west coast to east coast cross country road trip. Besides some sightseeing and food trip, we also stopped for some coffee. My husband is a dark roast coffee drinker who prefers his coffee black. On the other hand, I’m more a tea drinker and mocha lover.

On this trip, we started from San Francisco -> Death Valley National Park -> Las Vegas -> Grand Canyon National Park -> Flagstaff -> Albuquerque -> Amarillo -> Oklahoma City -> Memphis -> Nashville -> Knoxville -> High Point. We didn’t stop for coffee in all of the places we went through but only those which were highly recommended.

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Posted in Travel, Travel - USA

Winter Beach Escapade in the Carolinas

My sister recently started a temporary associate dentist job in Supply, NC. The agency she was hired with provided free lodging which turned out to be a Best Western Plus in Shallotte, NC. She was asking us to visit her so that we can bring some stuff she missed and bring her some homemade curry tuna buns. Since my husband has one day of PTO from the previous year that he needs to use and it’s MLK long weekend, we decided to visit her and explore the beaches nearby.

We’re off to our 3 day beach escapade in the Carolinas. Why would we torture ourselves going to the beach in winter? Well, free lodging is great but more importantly less people. Our first beach stop on our first day was Holden Beach, NC. There weren’t that many people but it was chilly and a bit windy. We decided not to take a dip but just stroll along the beachfront. The waters were dark and the sand was fine but dirty white. It was peaceful and relaxing if it’s not chilly.

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Posted in Travel - USA

3 Days in Charleston, SC

My brother decided to spend Christmas with us despite the COVID crisis. He bought the ticket back in October and doesn’t want to spend Christmas alone. This was also his first East Coast visit so we wanted to make it special. We suggested to visit Charleston, South Carolina to enjoy the Southern hospitality. Since my sister is also here and haven’t visited the place, everyone agreed.

So off we go on a road trip on this sunny Monday morning. We packed some sandwiches and snacks to eat for this 5 hour drive. We stopped for gas at Fort Mill, SC and another stop at the tourist information center in downtown Charleston. We had lunch at Hyman’s Seafood which was yummy as I remembered it then went for a walk at the Charleston City Market where my husband bought a bag of coffee. We went further and had some photos taken at the Pineapple Fountain. From there, we walked further and she had her photos taken at the Rainbow Row. From Rainbow Row, we walked around the French Quarter and ended up buying some cookies at Byrd’s Famous Cookies. We then walked back to where we parked the car and drove to the hotel to check-in.

For dinner, we decided to try some southern fried chicken at Leon’s. The food was ok but it was a bit pricey. We feel that it wasn’t worth the money we paid for. After Leon’s, we decided to have ice cream at Jeni’s. I like the scoop I got but my brother’s scoop tasted like the eraser on top of the pencil. After the dessert flop, we headed back to the hotel to rest.

On Day 2 in Charleston, we had breakfast to go from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits along King’s St. My brother enjoyed the biscuits and would like to eat some more. My husband ordered the patty cake and it was delicious. We ordered half dozen mixed biscuits and it was a hit and miss. After breakfast, we headed to Boone Plantation, where we recreated my husband’s proposal. Now, my sister’s the one directing. We also enjoyed the truck tour around the plantation. We also took turn becoming my sister’s instagram photographers. After Boone, we had a quick Vietnamese lunch which was unremarkable. We headed back to downtown Charleston to have some ice cream at Republic Ice Cream. The ice cream here are more traditional in flavors. We then went back to the hotel to have a quick rest then headed to Bowen Island Restaurant for dinner. If you’re in Charleston, I would suggest coming to Bowen Island Restaurant to shuck your own oysters. It was the tastiest oysters I’ve ever had and the 2 dozens oysters we ordered is more than enough for the four of us.

On Day 3 in Charleston, we had breakfast at Glazed Doughnuts. The doughnuts were quite big and filling. It was good but not as great as the ones in Portland. After our doughnut breakfast, we visited Fort Sumter National Historic Park to had some photos taken. It was quite windy and cold. Afterwards, we walked at the Boardwalk south of Broad St. As we worked up an appetite, we decided to have barbecue at Poogan’s Smokehouse before our long drive back home.

That’s it in Charleston! Must eat would be Bowen’s Island Restaurant. Must see places would be Rainbow Row, French Quarter, Pineapple Fountain, Historic City Market, Boone Plantation, Fort Sumter National Park.

See you in our future travels!

Posted in Travel - USA

Winter Escapade to Chicago

On February 11 and 12, my husband and I went for a quick winter escapade to Chicago.  We were able to score $97 roundtrip direct ticket each with United Airlines from our home airport, Greensboro.  Since we have friends we could stay with for this trip, we decided to go even though it’s in the middle of the work week.

At Greensboro airport, we were off to a great start when the check-in staff was gracious enough to upgrade us to first class when she noticed that we were seated separately in coach (I wonder if my United Silver status help?).  When we arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport, our friend’s husband picked us up and brought us to their home.  After we offload our luggage and bundled up more, he drove us to the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery (our third!) where we spent the whole day trying out different coffee, alcohol and pastries.  

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