2012: Year in Review

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This past year has been one of transition for me. For some time, I had been tossing around the idea of starting a travel blog solely focused on the United States, but I was never sure I could make that leap. I had been running my daily photoblog of Philadelphia and, after much thought, I decided my two year anniversary was the right time to begin focusing on my new project. While it was a hard decision to move on from something that I had enjoyed so much, I was very excited when Say Hello To America was finally born in September.

I had a great year of travel all across America, here’s a look at the destinations I had the chance to visit:

Washington, DC

My year of travel began in late March with my annual pilgrimage down to America’s capital for the blooming of the cherry blossoms. My journey to Washington, DC has become a spring ritual in which preparations usually begin in February, as I compulsively check the five stages of bud development leading up to the short window known as Peak Bloom. It was an overcast day, but the cherry blossoms only looked more brilliant in a wash of pink against the gray sky.

Along the Tidal Basin

Lincoln Memorial


Easter morning I started the return drive to the destinations where my solo travels began in 2010, Charleston and Savannah. The Holy City was a quick one-night pitstop where I had my first hostel experience, explored Waterfront Park, took an early morning walk through The Battery, and snapped photos of the many churches. It was a very brief, but good visit to Charleston!

Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park


Savannah was the first place I every visited when I began traveling by myself a few years ago, and it’s held a special place in my heart every since. I had the privilege of finally meeting my longtime Twitter friend, Kris, who made the drive up from Florida to help me explore the city for a few days. We had a great time checking out beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery, walking through the many squares, getting a history lesson at Fort Pulaski, going on a ghost tour one night, and even seeing a double sunset during a dolphin tour on the Savannah River. We had a blast getting to know each other better and plan to travel together in the future. It’s safe to say she now loves Savannah as much as I do.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Forsyth Park

Sunset on the Savannah River


A ballpark is what initially drew me to make a trip across Pennsylvania, but I quickly realized there’s so much more to Pittsburgh. I did take in a Pirates game at PNC Park, but also visited the Andy Warhol Museum, wandered through the many Nationality Rooms inside the Cathedral of Learning, and saw one of the best city skyline views in the United States.

Pittsburgh Skyline from the Duquesne Incline

Cathedral of Learning


Late August found my sister and I heading to Florida for a long overdue visit with our grandmother, who we had not seen in many years. I was particularly inspired by her tales of travel with my grandfather, and she ended up insisting that I take her travel journals of trips they had taken from 1973-2003. From there, I met up with the same friend who had met me in Savannah and she took me on a fun trip to see Bok Tower Gardens and the little Greek city of Tarpon Springs. My first time in Florida had me galavanting all over the place…from Orlando, to Christmas, to Winter Park, to Sebastian, to Kissimmee, to Lake Wales, to Tarpon Springs, and back to Orlando.

Chalet Suzanne, Lake Wales

Swampy the Alligator


A ten day trip to the Pacific Northwest in October began with a stop in a city I had been wanting to visit for a very long time. There was a lot to cram into two days, but highlights were Pike Place Market, Olympic Sculpture Park, the Fremont Troll, Gas Works Park, and getting to meet @SeattleMaven, the voice behind @VisitSeattle.

Seattle Skyline

Olympic Sculpture Park

Oregon Coast

From Seattle, I took five days to drive a majority of the Oregon Coast…starting in Astoria and working my way down to Coos Bay. The weather was sunny and beautiful, except for one day of rain, and I lost track of how many people told me how lucky I was as this wasn’t typical for October. I stayed in a different coastal town each night and became a clam chowder aficionado along the way. I got to see the Goonies house, Haystack Rock, seven different lighthouses, a shipwreck, dozens of sea lions, and even had the chance to capture the same photo my grandfather had taken 31 years earlier. The Oregon Coast was absolutely stunning to behold and I would do the drive again in a heartbeat!

View from the Astoria Column

Peter Iredale Shipwreck

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Devil's Punchbowl


After driving the coast, I worked my way up to Portland…the last leg of my Pacific Northwest journey. I took in some tremendous views of the city from Washington Park & the Esplanade, devoured a doughnut covered in Fruit Loops from Voodoo Doughnut, got lost in Powell’s City of Books, enjoyed the beauty at the International Rose Test Garden, and found the iconic “Keep Portland Weird” mural. Despite having all these great experiences, my biggest Portland highlight was meeting up with my friend, Jen. I “met” her through a mutual Twitter friend here in Philadelphia, and it was only natural that we had to hang out when I knew that I’d be making my way to Portland.

View from Washington Park


Sometimes the best places are close to home, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to my home city of Philadelphia. Although I live in the suburbs, I make my way down to Philly dozens of times a year and never tire of the beauty and history of this amazing city.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Zoo

Cira Center

2012 found me in new places and familiar locations, and meeting new friends along the way. It was a great year of exploring a country that I have come to love so much, and I can’t wait to see where 2013 is going to bring me!