To Travel Is To Explore

Image result for to travel is to explore quote

This past weekend, my sister and brother-in-law moved to Kentucky. While I am missing them tremendously, I’m also excited for this new adventure for many reasons. You see, with them living in another state, I get to travel more often and see more places – one of my favorite things to do!

Growing up, I remember watching Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown and her shows, Great Hotels and Passport to Europe. For each episode, I kept thinking “Samantha has the best job in the world and I would love to have it.” As I watched the shows, I quickly realized I had a passion for traveling.

The reason why I travel is simple-to see the world and gain experiences. There is so much learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. My travel philosophy is to travel as much as possible, while learning about the history of an area and the people who live there. It also includes being adventurous and making memories. This philosophy plays into my five step travel list.

For every trip I take, I must:

  1. Take tons of pictures. I always come home with about 1,000+ photos.
  2. Meet and talk with the locals. You’ll get the best information about where to eat, what to do, and learn more about the area from a person who lives there.
  3. Research the location’s history and plan out my must-sees. However, I am careful to not plan too much and allow time for adventures.
  4. Get lost—on purpose. Take a back road, walk down a different street, just get out and explore.
  5. Go back to that same destination. It might not be the next year, or the year after that, but sometime in my life, I will make the time to go back.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you must travel. It doesn’t have to be a three week excursion. It can be a day trip to a nearby city or even a stay-cation in your own town. Just travel!

Trust me-adventure is out there. You just have to make up your mind and go!

xoxo,

Megan

The Veterans History Project

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Every year on Veterans Day, people think about different ways to honor veterans. Some options are tributes and parades, but one of my favorites is listening to a veteran’s military story. You can take it a step further and record their experience for themselves, their family, and future generations to keep. You could put their story in a frame or scrapbook to preserve it. But with permission from the veteran, why not share their experience with others, including the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress?

The Veterans History Project (VHP) is part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and was created in 2000 by the United States Congress after legislation supported by representatives of the House and senators was passed. The legislation was then signed into law on October 27th, 2000, by President Bill Clinton. The purpose of the project is to collect and preserve military experiences while allowing future generations a chance to see into the realities of military life. VHP consists of firsthand stories in audio- and video-recorded interviews, memoirs, original photographs, letters, diaries, maps, and other historical documents. These stories are from veterans who served in World War I up to the present and are no longer serving. All branches of the military are welcome. Civilians who have also served the United States during wartime in a professional career are invited to participate. All of the stories in the project are contributed with the help of volunteers and organizations. VHP is perfect for families and friends to complete together. Boy and Girl Scout troops, as well as youth organizations are encouraged to participate.

One of the main purposes of the Veterans History Project is to provide history for the general public. People can access an online database on their website for research. The collection can be used for genealogy projects, documentaries, academic papers, and personal interests. Within the database, you can find biographical information on a veteran, as well as some digitalized collections. The biographical information contains the veteran’s name, the state of birth, and service history. Also, the Library of Congress includes some collections in their exhibits and presentations.

Want to participate and add your favorite veteran to VHP? First, start with reading the VHP Field Kit on the website. Within this kit, you will find an introduction to the project and information on how to participate. Also, a 15-minute long companion video to the field kit is available. Both of these packets help to prepare you for submitting veterans’ information and the guidelines to follow. Lastly, the field kit includes forms that must be submitted with the veteran’s materials. Once you and the veteran have gathered the information, send it to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. There is no deadline for sending in information, since VHP is a continuing project. In addition to the collections, the project can be supported through donations from education and outreach efforts. Allow for four to six months for the record to be processed online.

Some tips to remember when submitting are: the “30-20-10 rule,” which states that 30 minutes is the minimum length for recorded interviews; 20 pages is the minimum for diaries, journals, and memoirs; and 10 is the minimum number of original photographs, maps, and letters, and is the minimum page limit for military documents. Materials sent in must be the originals and unedited recordings. Information can also be submitted electronically through DVDs and CDs and sent to the Library of Congress via ground shipping through UPS or FedEx. Lastly, Spanish and English field kits are available.

The Veterans History Project is a great way to remember your special veteran. This collection preserves his or her military experience on a national level, and people throughout the world can read about their heroic sacrifices to the United States during wartime. Through the help of this project, more veterans’ military experiences are being preserved and kept for future generations to learn about. Just one of the many ways we can say “thank-you” to those who served our country.

For more information, visit the Veterans History Project at www.loc.gov/vets. 

xoxo,

Megan

Article originally published in Forsyth Family Magazine. 

Recipe for Kindness on the Eve of Election Day

Tomorrow is Election Day. It is the day we all have been waiting for since last year. No matter who you support and who you hope to win, there is one thing we can agree on: the hopes of making America kinder. So, on the eve of this Election Day, let’s use this recipe to create kindness for the next four years.

Ingredients:

  • An open and caring heart

Directions:

Fold two hands together and express a dash of sorrow.
Marinate it overnight
and work on it tomorrow.

Chop one grudge in tiny pieces add several cups of love,
dredge with a large  sized smile
mix with the ingredients above.

Dissolve the hate within you, by doing a good deed.
Cut in and help your friend
if he should be in need.

Stir in laughter, love and kindness from the heart it has to come,
toss with genuine forgiveness
and give your neighbor some.

The amount of people served will depend on you,
it can serve the whole wide world,
if you really want it to.

-Author Unknown

xoxo,

Megan

From the Mountains to the Coast of NC

  
My love for North Carolina goes deep. We have the mountains on the West and the coast on the East, with abundance in between. What more could anyone want? Nicknamed the Tar Heel State, NC’s history dates back to the original 13 colonies. It became a state in November 1789 and today, 227 years later, North Carolina is still thriving and has something for everyone.

The Mountains

NC is surrounded by numerous mountains, including the Appalachian and Smokey Mountain ranges. This area can be divided up into three different parts: the Foothills, the High Country, and the Smokey Mountains and Cherokee. Within the Foothills, the city of Asheville is a favorite among many. Visitors can tour the famous Biltmore House and Estates. End the day in the city’s lively downtown with eclectic food and shopping. Looking at the Foothills, other hot spots travelers love are the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest.

The High Country includes the towns Boone and Blowing Rock. Go back in time to the Wild West at Tweetsie Railroad or take a walk on the mile high bridge at Grandfather Mountain. During the winter, Beech and Appalachian Mountains are popular among skiers and fans of winter sports.

As for the Smokey Mountains, Cherokee Indians often referred to them as “the land of the blue mist.” Some areas of interest here are the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and Bryson City.

The Piedmont

Heading inward, the next part of the state is the Piedmont region, home to Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, and the Triangle.

Located near the border between North and South Carolina, Charlotte lives up to its advertising motto “Charlotte’s Got A Lot.” Visitors can enjoy the thrill rides at the theme park, Carowinds , discover news things at The Discovery Place, or fill their need for speed at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and Charlotte Motor Speedway. In addition, Concord Mills and the American Girl store are ideal places to shop in the city.

Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point create the Piedmont Triad. Animal lovers will dig the Greensboro Science Center and the North Carolina Zoo in nearby Asheboro. In Winston-Salem, see where the Moravian town of Salem started by touring Old Salem, the historical replica of the town. The neighboring city of High Point is known as the furniture capital of the world, full of shops and museums. While there, be sure to take a picture with the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers. Not too far away from the area is the Yadkin Valley, where many wineries are located.

The Triangle consists of our state’s capital Raleigh, as well as, the main cities of Durham and Cary. Visitors can explore Raleigh’s Museum of Art and Museum of History, while sports fan can catch a game of the Carolina Hurricanes or the Durham Bulls in their stadiums.

The Coast

Over 300 miles of beaches, tons of lighthouses, and a chance to see wild horses on the beach make up the perfect place to relax on the coast. In addition, history lovers can visit Revolutionary and Civil War sites. Two favorite spots for travelers: the Outer Banks and Wilmington.

The Outer Banks and Currituck offer new adventures. See where the Wright brothers first took flight and learn about their journey at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse, finding the wild horses in Corolla, or catching a show at the Lost Colony outdoor theater in Manteo are foolproof ways to spend the day.

Lastly, Wilmington, nicknamed Hollywood East, attracts people near and far. Fans can tour various filming locations of movies and TV shows, including Iron Man 3 and One Tree Hill. Aside from the film scene, Wilmington’s Historic District shouldn’t be missed, along with the NC Aquarium and Fort Fisher. A unique experience for all ages is stepping aboard the USS North Carolina Battleship, where you learn about the battleship’s history and more.

Whether you are new to the area or lived here your whole life, the Tar Heel state offers plenty of adventures, fun times, and great memories.

xoxo,

Megan

Article first published in Forsyth Family magazine: http://www.forsythfamilymagazine.com/from-the-mountains-to-the-coast-a-look-at-north-carolinas-favorite-spots/

My Travel To-Do List

We all have bucket lists. Lists of things we want to do before our last day on Earth. But, I don’t like calling them “bucket lists.” Sounds as if you are counting down the days. So, instead, lets call them “to-do lists.” My to-do lists consist of making memories, spending time with loved ones, and traveling. Here is my travel to-do list.

  • Visit all 7 continents
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Go on a Route 66 road-trip
  • Visit and hike Machu Picchu
  • Hike Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Camp under the Northern Lights
  • Visit Brazil during Carnival.
  • Dive through the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
  • Walk across the Trift Bridge in the Swiss Alps
  • Swim in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
  • Kayak through Caddo Lake in Texas
  • Go on a hot-air balloon ride in Turkey
  • Go fly-fishing in Montana’s Glacier National Park
  • See the floating lanterns in Thailand
  • Watch the Changing of the Guards in London
  • See the Fairy Pools in Scotland
  • Tickle whales in Mexico
  • Walk the Great Wall of China
  • Helicopter over a volcano in Hawaii
  • Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Dreaming a little big, aren’t I? That’s the fun of it- dream and LIVE big!

What is on your travel to-do list?

xoxo,

Megan

My Favorite Things

295711_10150295069964548_4502222_n(Me with The Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball mascot in 2012) 

Recently, I came to the realization that I just jumped right into blogging and didn’t really “introduce” myself. Well, to fix that problem, I decided to give you a pick into my life.

So, these are a few of my favorite things…

1: My favorite place in the world is anywhere on the coast.

2: I love baseball, especially the Atlanta Braves! How many days until Opening Day? (About 32, in case you’re wondering 🙂 )

3: Every summer, I watch two mini-series: North and South and whatever seems interesting to me at that time.

4: Horses, dogs, and pigs are my favorite animals.

5: Traveling, traveling, traveling! I can’t get enough of it! (You’ll see why in a future post)

6: Sweet tea is my downfall. I could drink it every day and with every meal.

7: I read a Nicholas Sparks’ book every summer, along with a classic, such as The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird. (Apparently, summers are “busy relaxation” times for me.)

8: Pearls and monograms go with anything!

9: My goal in life is to visit all 50 states. (Route 66 roadtrip, anyone?)

10: My all-time favorite quote is: “She believed she could, so she did.” -Anonymous

xoxo,

Megan

Winter Thoughts from a Beach Bum

“Ok, got my hat, gloves, scarf…” This has been my mental to-do list every morning for the past few days as I head out to the door and into the cold. Yes, I do end up looking somewhat like Randy from A Christmas Story, but, hey, I’m a Southern girl who doesn’t do cold weather.

Like most of the United States, the South was hugely hit by the winter storm. Green grass is currently covered in snow and ice, and won’t be going away anytime soon. The high temperature for today is 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, you read that right–16. Also, more winter weather is expected for tomorrow and Saturday. If I think we have it bad down here, I keep reassuring myself, saying at least it’s not Boston (bless their hearts).

Dealing with the winter weather can be stressful, and tiring, especially since I’m a beach bum. Trust me, I could live at the beach! To help ease this stress, I handle the frigid temperatures with these five tricks:

1. Wear tights or leggings underneath pants, to replace long johns–this helps me stay warmer!

2. Fix hat hair by spraying dry shampoo into my hair, after removing my hat.

3. Park my car facing east–this allows for the rising sun to melt the ice and snow off my car before I have to leave in the morning.

4. Make snow cream with fresh snow–all you need is snow, milk, sugar, and vanilla (I do turn into a 5 year old when the snow starts falling, but after a day or so, I’m done).

5. Dream of summer and picture myself sitting on a beach somewhere.

Stay warm!

xoxo,

Megan

To Those Who Serve, Thank You

I have always had a soft spot for military members and veterans. I guess this comes from being the granddaughter of a World War II veteran and a daughter of an Army soldier, or it just might from my deep love for this country and those who serve. However, there is one thing we can agree on-that everyone who serves in the military deserves to be thanked for their bravery and sacrifice.

Earlier on Facebook, I saw a video about Joe Bell, a 95-year old World War II veteran who stood outside his house to cheer on runners during a local charity race, but quickly got a surprise when the runners began cheering him on instead.

The San Jose Mercury News reports Bell, dressed in his  full Army uniform, was spotted on the sidelines by runners. Many, then, began diverting off course to honor him by shaking his hand. One runner even panted “Thank you for your service.”

I encourage you to take the time today and everyday to thank a veteran for their service, because without their service and bravery, the United States could be a very different place. Also, take the time to listen to their stories about their experiences and time(s) serving in the military. Trust me, you will never forget them.

For ideas on how to thank those who are serving or have served, visit: http://www.militaryavenue.com/Content.aspx?Name=ways_to_thank_veteran

xoxo,

Megan

Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_25271319/wwii-vet-becomes-viral-video-star-san-jose-tribute