Adventure Blog

Erie Adventures – Part One

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Adventuring is my favorite pastime. Exploring new places and places I’ve been before is always fun. You get to be in a new environment than the one you’re used to seeing day in and day out. Now, I’ve been to Erie several times in my life. But, ever since Chris and I started dating and made it a yearly thing to visit even just for a day, we’ve tried to do something new each time. But we mostly stick to our general plans each year. T

his year, we planned a weekend trip with our friends, Evan and Kelly, in August, so we wanted to explore Downtown Erie since that is where our hotel is located. We made the plan to drive there after our time in Presque Isle and find out where our hotel is and just explore a bit.

We began the day with a quick breakfast close to home at Perkins. I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad meal there. Not too expensive either. Then, we made the trek up to Erie. Fun fact: I checked the weather beforehand and the radar had rain in all of Pennsylvania except Erie… which was great news for us. We didn’t actually hit any of it and it was an easy drive. Well… for him at least. I’ve never done any highway driving since I got my license last year. So we decided since from Pittsburgh to Erie is a completely straight shot up I-79, I could do some highway driving….
It was terrifying. I thought it would be way easier but I was on the white knuckle express. Going 70 wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but I did it.

Once Chris took over and we got there (much quicker with him driving, might I add), we booked it to the beach and just relaxed for a bit. He also enjoys being knocked over by waves so I joined him until I got water in my eyes and then I went to dry off… lol. After about 2 hours of sun(burn), we went to a pizza place that has become a favorite of ours, located just outside of Presque Isle, Stevo’s Pizza.

After we got our stomachs filled, we went to find our hotel. As you know, we are coffee shop fanatics. Chris found one online called Ember + Forge and we decided to park and make the trek through the city to find it. It was so good I got an iced chai while we sat inside and I got another to go. Now, the city was chaos. We later found out that the following day, they had their Roar on the Shore Bike Weekend. So, so many streets were blocked off for set up, which drove us nuts since the GPS didn’t account for that… ugh. But we made it.

Next, we went to see the Bicentennial Tower, which is apparently a famous landmark in Erie. It was crazy beautiful. It was only $8 to get us both in and up to the top. We could see all of Downtown Erie and the length of Presque Isle, which was just wild. The wind was insane though.

After such a breathtaking experience, we went back to Presque Isle and got a little walk in before heading to Tim Horton’s, the annual trip since there are none back home, and made the long journey home. Overall, as usual, it was a great day and we got very lucky with the weather. I’m so excited for our weekend in a couple of weeks! Stay tuned for that post and photos as well!

I included my photos from the trip below!
If you’d like to see more of my work, visit my Flickr page!

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Harrison Hills Park

Hey all! Hope you had a great 4th of July and enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend! I certainly did.

I spent Sunday exploring a new park! Chris and my friends, Evan and Kelly, had gone to this park before, called Harrison Hills Park located in Natrona Heights. The back story, is they were there just hiking and exploring and got to one of the steep cliffs and Evan was looking over the edge and sitting, and his phone fell. It fell down on to another ledge and he went to get it. Now, it’s a steep cliff… very steep. If I were Kelly, I would have killed him for risking his life like that. He did manage to get it and it was unharmed and he came back with just some scratches and bruises. Kelly has been telling us we need to see this to understand how terrifying that situation was. We finally got a nice day and made the journey out there.

It was quite the hike. A good 2.5 miles(ish) up hill, over roots, through water, and steep down hill. I was tired, sweating, and my calves hurt so bad. But it was great exercise and a nice way to spend the day a little aways from home.

After our hike, we went to a local Italian place called Philippi’s and it was actually so, so good. That pizza was amazing.

So yeah, that’s pretty much our little adventure at Harrison Hills Park. We did a good bit of hiking and Chris played PokemonGo and it was a great time.

I featured some photos below and the rest are on my Flickr!

 

Hallowed Grounds

Back at it again with the coffee shop adventures! This one was an impromptu trip. Chris had heard about this cafe, called Hallowed Grounds Coffee Roasterie, from a friend at work and our previous plans got rained out, so we needed to come up with a Plan B. He told me about this shop located in New Brighton, which is about 20ish minutes from Cranberry. It turns out, my college friend and roommate, Allie, works there when she’s home. We ran into her there… small world, haha.

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing a new shop and exploring a new town. This one was different than most others we go to because they sell their own coffee grounds with all different kinds of flavors. They also have different types of tea bags as well. You can also make your own “butter”, such as honey butter and almond butter.

It was a smaller shop with not many seating areas, but rather than being a cafe, it was more of a shop that you could sit at rather than would. So if you’re an in and out kind of person, you’d enjoy this. But I will say that it is nice to have the option to sit and relax and if it’s busy, you would likely not be able to get a seat. We sat, but it wasn’t busy by that point in the day. Because of that, I give their environment a 6/10.

For their menu choices, they have so many. I’ve never seen so many different iced chai flavors, omg. I want to go back to try them all! I ended up choosing their pumpkin iced chai and it was delish. The flavor hit me, initially, but after a few sips, I got used to it. Very, very happy with all the different choices customers have the option to pick from.
Pumpkin Iced Chai: 8/10

Chris was very excited about his because he loves Oreos and pretty much anything cookies ‘n cream flavored. He got the cookies ‘n cream iced latte and was in Oreo heaven.
Cookies ‘n Cream Iced Latte: 8/10

Overall, it was a nice little adventure away from home, a bit. Exploring coffee shops in places we have never been before is a crazy cool experience. If you like coffee or tea, I suggest doing it wherever you go rather than just going to the closest Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Who knows, you may find the best coffee or tea you’ve ever had!

Below, I featured a couple photos from our visit to Hallowed Grounds. I have the rest on my Flickr album, alongside my other coffee shop adventure photos.

 

Vertical 48 at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls

Here we are yet again, guys! I am now introducing to you a brand new band! How exciting. Well.. they aren’t new to the scene, per say, but they’re new to my adventure blog followers. Or photography followers in general. Anyways…

So I came across this band last December when I shot VictoriaDrive for the first time. Chris (my boyfriend) and I came to the show whenever they were on stage and instantly took a liking to their sound. The songs they played were catchy and I was tapping my foot on the barstool. We then saw them again at the St. Patrick’s Day show at Mr. Roboto, with.. none other than VictoriaDrive, lol. They are good friends and play together a lot to the point it’s become an inside joke. But, like before, my liking to their music was re-ignited and I found myself enjoying their set from afar. It wasn’t till after that show that drummer, Chris Ferreè, inquired about having me shoot one of their upcoming shows. Of course, I jumped at the chance, for one, I loved their music, and two, getting another gig.

Finally, we have show day. They were opening up for a band called Future Generations, whom I’d never heard of before. We came inside and met Chris, along with his bandmates, Vinny (guitar) and Mario (vocals/keyboard/everything else) and just chatted. They are super nice guys, let me just say. Then watching them on stage, and really watching this time rather than passively watching, was wild. Despite having a small crowd, their energy and passion for their music never waivered. Vinny plays some killer guitar, that which I know Chris (my boyfriend.. I have to specify now) was very impressed and practically hypnotized by. Chris (drummer) is crazy good on the drums and never ceases to impress crowds with his deep rap included in two of the songs they performed. And Mario, well.. he plays practically everything and he gets so into it. I caught him dancing to the beat whenever he wasn’t singing and that is something I like to see. You have to have a passion for what you do, or you may as well not be doing it… especially with music.

Vertical 48 is a local Pittsburgh pop/rock band. If catchy tunes are what suits your fancy, go check them out. You won’t regret it… or maybe you will… mostly because their songs are so damn catchy. In fact, I currently have “Real World” in my head as I write this… lol.

Anyway…below are some shots from their set on Saturday and the rest are uploaded on my Flickr album. Go check ’em out if you have a second. Forreal. And as for any bands wanting to inquire about a shoot, click on my contact tab!

 

Plain White T’s at Jergel’s

“Hey there, Delilah, what’s it like in New York City? I’m a thousand miles away but girl, tonight you look so pretty, yes you do…”
If you didn’t sing along while reading that, you live under a rock. “Hey There Delilah” is one of the classics in current pop music. No matter what type of music you like or listen to, you know that song. The Plain White T’s brought their classic pop tunes and most recent songs, all the way to Jergel’s, located in Warrendale (the outskirts of Pittsburgh), to up the hype for their upcoming album, “Parallel Universe”.

On their Pittsburgh stop, they had locals, Hear Tonight, open up for them. If you’re reading this and are a frequent visitor to my adventure blog, you know that they’re one of my favorites. I preach constantly about how upbeat and fun their music is. Their sound makes me think of the best parts of summer and that feeling you get driving by the beach and watching the waves crash. It’s amazing that they capture it so well in their music. Friday night was no different. They were a great first act to help get the crowd pumped and ready for the rest of the night.

On their tour, the Plain White T’s brought along Chicago natives, Fairview. They were discovered, and soon signed by member, Tom Higgenson, giving them their kickstart into the music business. They were very talented. Each member played with love and passion, which was great. They had a lot of slower ballads and love songs, and clearly some good writing went into them. The two leads, Lizzy and Matt, had beautiful voices and their chemistry put that much more meaning into their lyrics.

Next up, we had the privilege of getting to see Ocean Park Standoff from Santa Monica, California. They were everything you could ask for when it came to pumping up the crowd for the headliner. Ugh… I loved them. They were great. Chris and I found ourselves surprised when they began to play “Good News”, as it has been a popular radio hit, and it plays on the speakers at my part time job. We found out it indeed is their song and not just a cover and we were partially star struck… lol. Their lead singer, Ethan, had absolutely crazy energy. It was definitely contagious because I noticed more and more people find their way to the dance floor for the rest of their set, and probably to get their spot for Plain White T’s.

And of course, we had the Plain White T’s. A classic pop/rock band, popular with millennials, most of all. They are the band most of us heard in the early 2000’s when we were in our earlier years of schooling. I, myself, didn’t discover them till I really got into music, in the early 2010’s, but that’s beside the point. I have to say that I was very impressed with their live performance. They had the perfect mix of new songs, PWT classics, and some sneak peeks to songs being released on their “Parallel Universe” album on August 24th. I found myself enjoying a lot more than just the classics and even found some new favorites. One of those was “Your Body” which sticks a little bit to their roots, but also includes some more current musical elements. The crowd was very diverse; you had those older folks who came for the music to feel young again, those who came to accompany their under 21 kids; you had the millennials, who came to see a band they’ve enjoyed listening to since middle school; and you even had little kids who may just be starting an obsession with music and likely may be the product of their parents. But, age aside, when they played their classics, such as “1, 2, 3, 4”, “Hey There Delilah”, and “Our Time Now”, we were all singing along in practically one voice. And that’s why I love music so much.

The Plain White T’s new album “Parallel Universe” comes out August 24th, and they mentioned they will be back on tour after that release. So if you missed out on this show or are now intrigued to see the next one, keep your eyes peeled for some more announcements on their band social medias.

Below, I have featured a few of my favorites from this shoot. The rest can be found in my Flickr album.

My review will also be up in Pittsburgh Music Magazine! – coming soon

 

Off Road Minivan Tour – June 2018

First show of the summer! Been a little while since I’ve been able to shoot a show and it was great to be back. This was a really fun show too. I was there to shoot two bands this time instead of one.

Sunday’s show was at The Smiling Moose, a venue I’ve come to familiarize myself with recently. The tour that came to town included the two headliners who came from Boston, MA: bloom. and Off Road Minivan. They got two local bands to open up the show for them: Vertigo and Atlantic Wasteland.

Atlantic Wasteland took the stage first and they were fantastic as always. The building was warm to begin with and they were dripping sweat by the end of their set. The crowd started to fill in a lot more by their set and seemed to enjoy themselves. What I love about them is they always have so much energy, on and off stage. Ausinette (lead singer) is fun to watch on and off stage because she is just wild. Her and Sam (lead vocals and guitar) can always be found in the audience whenever they’re not playing. They really aappreciate music and it’s so cool to see. I’ve shot them before, so their name may sound familiar. They’re a very good mix of pop/punk, with some songs of theirs sitting more on the punk side. They’re always a fun band to shoot.

Vertigo was next. By now, I’m sure you are very familiar with their band if you follow my blog and photography pages. I shoot them all the time. They had the biggest crowd of the night, actually and that was an awesome sight to see. The crowd seemed to enjoy every second of it. Even the parts where the back track played “Andromeda” about 3 times, when they were transitioning to the next song. They also had previous drummer, Tyler Knatz, come back to play a couple of songs with them. He has since joined bloom. while at school in Boston. So it was a nice little reunion show. I even got some shots of their group hug 🙂 As usual, they were great. They always have so much passion. Especially Jesse (lead singer). He puts his all into each show and it’s really fun to watch. I’ve missed their shows since the last one I’d done was the MAX show I helped plan at my college.

Next up we had bloom. Originally, they were started by Matt and Torre, the two leads, in Boston. They hadn’t had a bassist who could travel, so they got in contact with Brenden, of Vertigo, and he travelled with them on this short tour with Off Road Minivan this past week. As I mentioned before, Tyler Knatz also joined the band after graduating Berklee. Brenden talked highly about the band to me before this show so I knew I had to stay to check them out. They were pretty great. One of the craziest things was the fact that Tyler played the Glockenspiel, an instrument I would have never know the name of if Sam (Atlantic Wasteland) hadn’t told me, haha. They had 6 band members on the stage and if you know the Moose at all, you know that’s a small stage. I don’t know how they managed it but they did. Overall, they were a great mix of Indie/Rock/Punk and put on a great show. I definitely understood all of Brenden’s hype. I tagged their Facebook above!

Off Road Minivan was last on stage. I will be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was the name of a band or the tour until they got on stage. I assumed it was a band, but I wasn’t sure. I think what I liked most about their set was hearing what each of the songs were about. Lead singer, Ryan, introduced each song with a little anecdote informing us what inspired the song’s creation. I love hearing back stories because songs have different meanings for each person who listens. It’s nice to hear what truly inspired the song, rather than just wondering. They consider themselves rock and I can back that. They’re like a good mix of rock and punk. I’m not a big fan of heavier punk music, but I was able to enjoy their set so it wasn’t that heavy. So if you’re a fan of rock or punk music, you should go check them out.

As always, some of my favorite shots are featured below. The rest can be found on my Flickr page.

I’ve enjoyed my travels… I really have. But I’ve also really missed my shows. I’m so used to shooting them so often anymore that it was weird to not have one for over a month. Stay tuned for some more adventures coming up!

New Orleans: The Big Easy 2018

Hey all! Welcome to another one of my adventures! This summer has been filled with adventures and it’s only June! This journey you’ll be reading about is my family’s trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.

My family and I love crawfish. NOLA is known for their seafood and specifically… crawfish! We planned our trip so we could be there during the crawfish season, which ends around the end of June. My parents went themselves, right before Hurricane Katrina, and I was a lot younger. We went as a family, in 2014, my sister and I’s first time in the Big Easy.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am not a fan of alcohol. I enjoy some drinks but I’m very picky. I don’t know what it is, I just don’t enjoy alcohol to the extent most everyone else does. I don’t enjoy the feeling. I’ve also only been 21 almost a year and never had alcohol before that but that’s beside the point. New Orleans is also infamous for Bourbon Street, which is like the South Side in just about every city in the U.S. People come year round to try their hurricanes (alcoholic slushie) and enjoy lots of live music and bar hopping all along that street. Late night is not when you want to go because that’s when most everyone is drunk, even though they drink at all hours of the day, and it’s just not a safe place to be. We avoided it as much as possible.

Our trip consisted of a ton of shopping (duh!), a swamp tour, a ghost tour, the Insect Museum, and a culinary tour, for the most part. The swamp tour (featured below) was super cool (aside from the bees) because we went on a boat down the bayou and learned a little bit of history as well as saw some alligators! Our guide had a small one on the boat and allowed us to hold him, after properly demonstrating, and it was so wild. There was a little piggie and some kittens in the gift shop of the place we went for the tour, also. The shopping we did all over, but the French Quarter mostly since that’s where we were staying.

The ghost tour (not featured) was really awesome because we had a hilarious tour guide. He took us on a walking tour around the French Quarter and showed us some infamous sights as well as told us some of the craziest ghost stories and experiences he amongst others have had over the years, along with some of the city’s history. I think that was my favorite because the weather was perfect, we walked a good bit, and got to hear ghost stories. If you go there and want a ghost tour, get DJ. He’s great and he’s hilarious. He makes the history a lot less boring.

The culinary tour was exactly like the food tour I had in Rome. We all met up at the first restaurant and walked from place to place trying different cajun, creole, and New Orleans staples as well as its history. We had food such as crawfish beignets, gumbo, hot sauce (not me), and beef brisket. We even went to a bar restaurant called Tujague’s whose bar is older than the United States. Crazy.

I definitely went out of my comfort zone with trying new and different foods and being in an area basically known for drunk people, but overall, I enjoyed the trip. The hotel beds were comfy af too which was nice when we got too tired of walking. I suggest if you go to New Orleans, have a hurricane (I may not be a fan but that doesn’t mean you won’t be), go to the Royal Street Oyster House and have the crawfish ravioli, and of course Cafe du Monde. If you’re a tea person, they don’t have tea, just stick with water. The beignets are reason enough to make a trek down there. The Riverwalk is also beautiful too. It overlooks the Mississippi River. It’s hard to pull yourself away from a view like that.

I enjoyed another chance for a photo op, haha. Check out some of my favorite photos from the trip below! The rest can be found on my Flickr page!

Stay tuned for more adventures! I have a good bit of live shows coming up so keep an eye on my adventure blog for those as well ;D