Thursday, September 24, 2015

Papa Pope is here. Pope Francis in USA.

The thought of seeing a Pope just seemed like an experience someone else would share. I never really imagined that I would get to see a Pope but like I always say, there is so much too see in DC. I heard the Pope was coming in to town so it was top priority for me to get tickets to the mass. A few weeks before his arrival, I received an email from school saying there were standing tickets available for students who wanted to attend the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here in DC. I immediately made inquiries. I mean, who wouldnt want free tickets to see the Pope? This was one experience I just couldn't miss. So I picked up my ticket about two weeks later and began counting down to the day.

The day had finally come, I got to the Metro that morning and it was just so peaceful. A lot of people I guess decided to work from home leaving the trains easily accessible. I jumped on the red line to Brookland CUA, met a few nice people on the train who were heading to the White House to get a glimpse of the Pope. The excitement to see the Pope put smiles on faces everywhere I turned that day. I literally met this lovely lady and her friends on the train, who smiles on the train right? We did :). 

In the pic: Ms Cecilia Ladybug & friends. 

Once I got there, I walked down to the Catholic University Campus and got in line at the green gate. 

The excitement got everyone buzzing, I got interviewed by the EWTN network, it was a great start to my day. A friend of mine met up with me at the entrance and we proceeded past the gates. 

                     In pic: Gigi and I

Everything was well organized. All guests were handed plastic bags with more details for the mass. There were snack stands on the campus grounds selling goodies at affordable rates. 

There were portable toilets available and portable stands to wash our hands, it was this cool contraction I had never seen. Forgive me if I sound silly for mentioning this, it was just so cool to me. 

There were ATM stands positioned in different corners and luckily the campus had picnic tables with charging portals on them. Everything was well prepared, there was even a stand to refill drinking water for visitors. While waiting around before the mass, my friend and I walked the grounds of the venue. 

We practiced our interview skills on the ABC2 networks staff that were covering the event. That was a real thrill. Then we went over to chat with the nuns having lunch under the tree. 

We went over to our section to get seated on the grass. The atmosphere was so electric. The music was heavenly, the wonderful choir got people dancing and having a great time. 

The only thing left was for the Pope to arrive. Everyone waited for him to show up on the altar but as humble as ever, he showed up to greet us all outside before heading to give the Mass. It was a spectacular moment, people were so emotional, so excited! I really can't explain how good it felt. 

When I was asked earlier by the EWTN network of why I attended this mass, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the Popes message of peace and I tell you, that is exactly what I felt. For that moment he arrived, there was joy, there was peace and there was unity. I met people from all walks of life who were all there united for a positive message. It felt great to be a part of that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Clark's Elioak Farm, Elicott City, Maryland

Who knew there were dinosaurs and dragons in Maryland? At Clark's Elioak Farm down in Howard County, there is a thin line between fantasy and reality for the kids.  I thought it would be exciting to take my daughter to a petting farm but getting there I got more than I expected. At the farm, there were lots of creative structures imitating houses and characters from old story books. I remember growing up with a kid Encyclopedia that had many tales and nursery rhymes I forgot about over the years but the farm gave me a reminder. The first thing you see walking in to the farm is this huge colorful house, for those of you who know the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, you are in for a treat. The structure was one of the many exhibits for the tales and rhymes from way back then. 

Tip: Costs $6 to get in the Farm but parking is free. Also, they have arrangements at the farm for birthday parties.

Tip: Snacks and drinks are sold by the entrance of the farm & you can get freshly packaged meat too, no chemicals here. The farm has portable restrooms.

We went on a tractor ride as soon as we got in, for each passenger it costs $2. We jumped in to the passenger's seat which was a line up of cows, perfect for a visit to the farm.

When we were done with that we went over to feed the goats, it costs 25 cents, a way of raising money for their feed. 

This farm was its own amusement park with it's creative rides. Some people chose to ride on the big old tractor or go country style and get on a horse. My daughter wanted to ride the pony but the horse was on duty that hour. 

Tip: Every ride cost $2 per person. Rides were free for grandparents & their grand kids on the day I went, so you can check out the link on the end of this blog for details of upcoming events and perhaps discounts.

There was huge space all around for the kids to run around and a rest area with toys for them to play with. There were slides in different corners and for the little pirates, they had a pirate ship. 

They also had an enchanted forest with some dinosaurs hiding out but that was another entrance with another fee of $5 per person. We didn't go in there but we got a view of one dinosaur.

Tip: When you google Elicott City, one of the things that pop up is "Haunted Town". So I thought, what better spot to do pumpkin picking in preparation for Halloween than at this fun Farm. For more details, click the link below.

Tip: Open till November 8, 2015. Tuesday- Sunday from 10am -5pm. Last entry at 4pm. Open Mondays in October.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Gardens in Washington, DC.

I love gardens and I really don’t know much about plants but the colors, the scents and scenery are always a relaxing state for my leisure time. I went over to the Madison Building in DC then I saw the sign for the famous Botanical gardens and couldn’t resist. 

Bartholdi Park outside the Botanical Garden

With the busy and corporate nature of this city, the beauty of it I think is the preservation of nature. So I walked down from the library near Capitol South Metro, took about ten minutes. It was so hot that day but once I walked in to the conservatory it was refreshingly cool. 

Tip: This is another free museum in the DC area that is kid friendly. It has a kids garden and a rest area also.

There are different sections within the garden, all having their different themes. There is the Desert, Medicinal Plants, Mediterranean, the Tropics which I loved and plenty others. There are also inner gallery rooms as well. 

You also get good knowledge of the plants and their backgrounds within each room, as I always say, the best way to teach is practically, the kids would love this.

Other beautiful gardens in DC I have come across

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

I particularly enjoy music so on another occasion I attended the last day of Jazz in the garden at the National Sculpture Garden. Here you get to enjoy live jazz from different bands. It usually comes up every Friday evening. If you want to enjoy this too, you can next summer. It starts off again in May. I remember walking in to that garden and feeling like the whole population of DC was hiding in this corner. It was good fun, lots of dancing, drinking and mingling with friends and family. 

National Sculpture Garden

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