Tag Archives: US Trip

Mesmerizing Sunrise at Monument Valley

Wow!  It’s been a very busy month that I wasn’t able to blog for weeks!  My apologies, as I took more responsibilities at work…

Anyhoo, I’m starting my 2017 in WordPress with a sunrise post.


Isn’t it lovely?  I took the above at the Monument Valley, and it’s become my favorite because the colors remind me of a lot of things.

Indigo reminds me of introspection and meditation.  I’m an introvert, and I always require an alone time to ponder on things or recharge.

The hues of red caution me to keep my temper in check.  It speaks to me too of passion and love.

Black reminds me of what’s uncertain in everyday life.  Of my pride and faults and weaknesses.

My hopes and optimism are best conveyed by the color yellow.  It speaks to me of joy.

And of course, the rising sun reminds me to always be grateful for each day that grants me the chance to live, learn, laugh, and love.


Ithaca: Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls State Park is named after the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep valley side toward Cayuga Lake.  Unfortunately, I visited the park after it rained so the falls’ water wasn’t foamy white, but murky brown.

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Still, it’s a beautiful sight and the park is worth a visit when in Ithaca.  It’s especially popular among families as it has hiking trails, picnic areas and playing fields on the upper park and a campground, pools, and playing fields at the lower park.

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Our (or rather, my) discovery of the falls itself has a funny backstory.  You see, after our class in Cornell, my friend and I decided to go on a walk to the falls because a staff at the Country Inn & Suites mentioned that it’s nearby.  It wasn’t.

This is me making light of our (mis)adventure.  By then, we had been walking aimlessly for about 20 minutes.

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We were deliberating whether to turn back when we saw a sign that said the park is just round the corner, so we decided to continue on…

Aaand, finally, we reached the park.

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The above signage though, is misleading in a way because the falls wasn’t on this part of the park, but on the other side as I would find out the following day.

Still, my friend and I made the most of our visit by taking photos of the park itself.

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It was already late that we couldn’t see any staff to assist us.  We even thought this was Buttermilk Falls.

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We didn’t linger as it was already early evening and we didn’t want to risk getting lost, especially in a foreign country and at the woods where anything can happen.

The following day, my friend had a class and since I was free, I decided to come back to the park.  I told my friend I’d find the falls so our trip wasn’t for naught.

This is the signage across the state park signage that we saw the day before.  If only we headed here, we would have seen the falls.

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My views as I followed the sound of the rushing water.

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I wasn’t disappointed.  Who would, with views like this.

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I bet this place looks lovelier come fall, with colorful trees framing this beautiful landscape.

More photos of the bridge, which is easily one of the park’s best features.

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Right after the bridge is the falls itself and this is my first view of it.

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Beautiful, despite the murky color.

I walked around and just loved the views and the sound of the rushing water was especially soothing.

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Afterwards, I decided to go on a hike and see more of the park.  Here are some of my views:

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I found some interesting flora too and Google helped me identify the Common Yarrow (topmost, center) and the Orange Day Lily (middle, right).

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There were interesting plants too with”fruits.”

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Google identified the first photo on the left, topmost portion as Berry Forest.  I wasn’t familiar with the others so I’ll leave them unidentified.

When I headed back to the falls I saw earlier, I decided to use the trail by the falls, which afforded me better views like these.

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Aren’t the rock formations lovely?  Here’s a closer shot.

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I wasn’t wrong in choosing this particular trail because I got to see another falls (I found out while working on this post that there are 9 falls in this park).

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The main photo from this post was taken on the same spot.

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And these are my views as I neared the park’s entrance.

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After crossing the bridge from the last photo from above, I reached the same area where my friend I went to the day before and this signage was what held us back from exploring the park.

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Seriously, we thought there were bears roaming the park so we were very cautious, though I later found out that a bear was seen here only once, thus the name.

Here’s my view as I took Bear Trail.

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Farther was this view, but I did not dare venture beyond this point.

After my hike or rather, leisurely walk, this is me, muddy shoes and all.

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As usual, I’ll end this post with one of my favorite photos from this set.  I loved this photo because it’s like a vision from a faraway time.

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Buttermilk Falls is located in 112 E. Buttermilk Falls Road, Ithaca, New York.  Contact them via +607 273-5761 or visit the park’s official website.

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Chicago: Adler Planetarium

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Adler Planetarium was founded in 1930 and is America’s first planetarium. Its mission is to inspire exploration and understanding of the universe.

It was a very foggy morning when I visited Adler. Just look at that skyline!

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It was sooo cold my teeth were chattering because I did not expect Chicago to be so chilly in summer and so I had just a thin cotton jacket with me. What more, just when I was about to take photos, I realized I left my memory card in my laptop when I uploaded photos the night before.  Ugh!

And so I went back to my hotel, which was a blessing in disguise because I got to bring a thicker jacket, which came in handy as I lingered outdoors to take photos of Adler’s exterior.


The sculpture (lower right photo) is called Man Enters the Cosmos by Henry Moore. It is made of bronze and is a functional bowstring equatorial sundial created in 1980 measuring approximately 13 feet.

After exchanging my CityPass for tickets, I started exploring Adler Planetarium.


Clark Family Welcome Gallery

This exhibition features one-of-a-kind architecture with colorful lighting.


My favorite part? Its being an interactive exhibit, which allows visitors to explore space in different ways. Here’s a collage of me taking photos of and moving planets around.


It’s all possible because of infrared sensors. Cool, huh.

Shoot for the Moon
This exhibit shares the story of America’s first journey into space in the 1960s as told by Jim Lovell, a former NASA astronaut most famous for being the commander of the Apollo 13 Mission.


I was struck by his quote about the earth being a grand oasis in the vastness of space, and the part of me who, when traveling, finds joy in visiting a city’s tallest structure and looking down on the cityscape below, wished that someday, I will also get to see the world from space.

The exhibit also traces the history of the Gemini program and the hugely successful Apollo missions, which saw America reach its goal of landing man on the Moon.


But Shoot for the Moon’s coolest feature would have been the Moon Wall, which lets visitors explore the surface of the moon using the latest images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) currently orbiting the moon.


Our Solar System
An exhibit featuring planets, moons, asteroids, meteorites, and more.


Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass

Features some of the world’s most important telescopes that helped mankind discover great things about our universe.


Astronomy in Culture

This exhibit is about how ancient and medieval cultures used and studied astronomy.


Isn’t it amazing to gaze at paraphernalia from ancient times? I even found a pillar sundial from 1580!

Historic Atwood Sphere
This experience is of seeing the night sky over Chicago as it appeared in 1913. The Atwood Sphere is Chicago’s first planetarium and when I was there last year, it was celebrating its 100th year.


This is definitely worth queueing up for (I waited for about 30 minutes), but I do not recommend this to claustrophobic people because you have to go inside the sphere for a guided tour.

By the way, the sphere is seventeen feet in diameter and has 692 holes drilled through its metal surface. These holes allow light to enter and show the positions of the brightest stars in the night sky (the black and white photo was my view when I experienced this).

Live Discussions
Aside from exhibits, there were also actual discussions from the experts.


There were touchscreen monitors too that let guests explore the universe at their own pace.  Amazing!

More Adler Planetarium Experiences
Aside from trying out the Atwood Sphere, I also watched 3D Sun in Johnson Theater. Sadly, no photo-taking was allowed. I also took a photo of me in one of the exhibits featuring infrared lighting.


By the way, Adler Planetarium is a good vantage point when viewing Lake Michigan with the beautiful Chicago skyline as its backdrop. Just look at this panoramic shot I took before I left Adler.

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Isn’t it amazing? Not only did this panoramic shot capture Chicago’s skyline. Shedd Aquarium is also visible (far left), and so is Navy Pier (far right).

For more information about Adler Planetarium, visit www.adlerplanetarium.org.

Chicago: Willis Tower and SkyDeck Chicago Experience

view from Chicago SkyDeck
When I visited Willis Tower (formerly Sears) in 2013 and as of this writing, it is the 2nd tallest building in the USA and the 8th tallest freestanding structure in the world.  It was in my to-do list when I visited the windy city because I read in a travel guide that when in its view deck, one can see three states of the USA.

This is the entrance where I was dropped off.  Before heading to Jackson Boulevard, I took an ant’s point of view of the building.

I had a Chicago CityPass voucher so my visit to SkyDeck Chicago was most convenient.  I skipped the long lines and was immediately accommodated on the Fast Pass Lane.

Before reaching the view deck, we watched a show about the history of this iconic building, and the information that stuck to me was this:   At the time of its completion in 1973, it was the tallest building in the world, and held this rank for nearly 25 years.

When we were finally at the view deck, I was amazed at the views I was having.

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Just look at how this amazing city developed their spaces:  tall buildings coexist with their parks and public spaces and gardens and with Michigan Lake.

Here’s a collage of my views of John Hancock Center (I also visited this iconic building and will blog about it in a future post) and Chicago Sun Times and the roadway below.

Here are more panoramic shots of my view at the deck.

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It’s summer when I was there so the views were clear and stunning.  I’m not really familiar with what I was seeing, but I overheard an American guy tell his children that the 4 states that can be seen are Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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My most memorable experience in the tower is stepping over the ledge, which was unveiled in 2009.  These all-glass boxes allow visitors to look through the floor on the street 1,353 feet, 412 meters and 103 floors below.  Whew!

This is a must-do when here.  Just be prepared to wait because not everyone is up to the challenge.  It was amusing to see people hold on to their family members as they wailed, “No, nooo, I can’t do this!  I’m scared!”  But there were daredevils too who, once on the ledge, would jump to their heart’s content and were unmindful of the dagger looks from the scared ones.

I exited on another side of the building and was lucky to chance on (okay, I admit it, I got lost, ha ha!) the part of the building with a huge Willis Tower signage.

What more, as I tried to find my way, I found this cool art installation of denims with flowers.  And there’s a smaller Willis Tower signage too!

Willis Tower is located in 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, United States.  Visit http://theskydeck.com/ for more information.

Chicago: Navy Pier

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Just like my Batanes thread, this is another late post that I got inspired to making only when I watched an episode of Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior, which was set in Chicago.

I did this trip in June last year as mentioned in this teaser post.  It was work-related thus, my visit to Navy Pier was for the welcome dinner for the participants of the event that I attended.

According to Wikipedia, Navy Pier is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction.  Its attractions include sightseeing tours, the Chicago Children’s Museum, an IMAX theater, and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.   It also has a convention hall, which was located at the far end of the pier and was our welcome dinner venue.

We passed by some of the pier’s attraction on the way to the convention pier.

Here’s a panoramic shot of Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline at dusk as viewed from the pier.

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I love the pastel colors of the sky and the stillness of the lake, which were evident in the above and below photos.

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Pardon the photo quality as this was a zoomed-in shot using just my mobile phone, though I’d like to think its composition made it looked like a painting.

More random shots of our view on our way to and while in the convention center.

The sun was already calling it a day when we were enjoying dinner.  And what a dramatic exit it was!  I had to leave my table when I saw the sky become a beautiful canvas of blue and white and yellow.

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Before my very eyes, the brilliant sky changed its color to stunning hues of pink and orange.

Initially, I had difficulty getting good photos because people were crowding around the railing but I got lucky to have taken a shot of a solitary man enjoying the beautiful view before him.

And as I watched, the sky again metamorphosed into deep hues of periwinkle (I’m guessing the color here based on my Crayola kit, te he) and orange and red.


Come night time, the view was quite as interesting.

For someone who grew up in the province with no tall buildings and definitely no skyscraper, it was beautiful to see all the bright lights against the stark darkness of the night.

Our welcome dinner’s highlight was the fireworks display.  It was so beautiful and worth staying up late for.
On our way home, our gracious host, a Filipina who had been in Chicago for over a decade, urged us to go inside the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, which opened in 2000 as a permanent exhibition dedicated solely to the art of stained glass windows, of course.

We only passed by here as it was already closing time when we arrived, but the above views were enough to make me appreciate the intricacy with which the artists worked on each individual piece.

Lastly, I’ll end this post with what is perhaps the Navy Pier’s most popular attraction:  The Ferris Wheel.

This 150-foot Ferris Wheel opened in 1995 and operates year-round.

For more information about Navy Pier, visit www.navypier.com.