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U Is For USS Yorktown

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/cD5cvQ

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is the USS Yorktown!

When I was in the Cub Scouts, my troop took a trip out to Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina in order to tour the USS Yorktown, a retired Navy aircraft carrier. As part of the tour, our troop leader also managed to set it up so that we could spend the night on the ship as well. To this day, it is still the coolest place I have ever laid my head for the night.

A few things that I remember about the trip/tour:

  • Aircraft carriers are HUGE. I mean everyone knows they are big, but take how big you think they are and multiply it by three. The deck of the ship gets a lot of attention, but the inside of the ship felt like a shopping mall as well.
  • The bunks were interesting. If you need a ton of space in order to sleep, you'd never make it in the Navy. I just remember there being lots of welded metal walls and narrow doorways. It felt small back then so I can't even imagine what it would feel like now.
  • The amount of history in the ship was pretty amazing. It was set up as a living museum, so we had a chance to watch videos while we were on board. We kept having to pinch ourselves that the actual boat we were on had been in battle during World War II and the Vietnam War.

If you ever get to Charleston, I suggest stopping by Patriot Point for a tour. And if you can sneak your way into a Boy Scout group, I think they still arrange overnight experiences.

T Is For Toronto, Ontario

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/oBoiiP

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Toronto, Ontario!

Who travels to colder places when Spring Break comes around? Yeah I know not many people do, but that's exactly what I did when I was a junior in college.

At the time I was in a long distance relationship with a girl that lived in Toronto. Instead of packing up and heading to Florida like everyone else, I took my chances with our neighbors to the north in Canada.

I had visited Toronto with my family when I was a lot younger, but I didn't really remember anything about it. This trip gave me a chance to experience it as a young adult, and it was my first time out of the country on my own as well. I'll never forget how nervous I was going through customs even though I didn't have anything to worry about.

It ended up being a real cool trip though. I got a chance to go to the top of the CN Tower. I also went to a Toronto Raptors basketball game. It was definitely cold, but I dealt with it and still had a good time.

The people were all extremely nice to me while I was there. I've lived around plenty of polite people in my life, but Canadians take the cake. They also had clean subways...strange I know, but it was pretty amazing to me.

If I had to make a ranking of my top five cities that I've ever visited, Toronto would definitely make the list.

S Is For Saratoga Springs, New York

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/7gZ8hs

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Saratoga Springs, New York!

I moved up to New York in 2006, after spending a couple of years in Charleston, South Carolina. Normally when you say that, people automatically think you're talking about living in New York City. However, the place I call home right now is about 3 hours from there in Saratoga Springs.

Besides just being an all around cool town, our claim to fame is probably having a famous horse racing track. Every summer, people flock to Saratoga to watch the ponies run. We even have a million dollar race called the Travers Stakes that takes place here towards the end of track season.

A few years ago, our Chamber of Commerce decided to make a video showcasing the town. They made a lip dub to a medley of Train songs. I know you're wondering why Train. From what I've heard, their drummer actually grew up around here.

The video does have a slight cheesy factor to it, but it amounts to a nice tour of what the downtown area looks like. Plus it shows that we have 1000 people who aren't scared to have fun on video.


R Is For Raleigh, North Carolina

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/pAriiq

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Raleigh, North Carolina!

I'm going to keep this one short. I spent a lot of time in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area after I graduated from college. Honestly if I had to move back down South, it would be at the top of my list.

The place had great people, good food, and an insane amount of job opportunities for people just getting started. And from the looks of things, it's still one of the better places to live in the US.

Q Is For Quantico, Virginia

By : Kieron Walker
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFBI_Academy.jpg

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Quantico, Virginia!

I had been dreading this day for a while because I had no Q destination planned. I ended up going to a site that listed the world's airport codes. As I went though each city, Quantico eventually jumped out at me.

When I was growing up, I went through that stage of wanting to be an FBI agent. In fact, the father of one of my best friends worked for the FBI. There was something about the behind the scenes work, the unmarked cars, the black jackets with "FBI" written on the back. How much cooler could it get?

In any case, Quantico is the home of the FBI Academy. I was kind of surprised to see that there were only 500 or so residents in the actual town of Quantico. I'm kind of surprised they let people live there at all. I can only imagine the kind of security scrutiny those people are under.

Despite the town being so small, there's quite a bit of activity going on there. Besides the FBI, it is also home to parts of the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. With a roll call like that, it's no surprise that many of today's crime based tv shows have filmed there.

I'm not sure if they'll even let me stop to visit one day, but if they do it would be cool to check it out.

P Is For Portland, Oregon

By : Kieron Walker
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMtTaborPortlandHood.jpg

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Portland, Oregon!

Have you ever wanted to live somewhere even though you've never visited the place before?

That's exactly how I felt about Portland, Oregon for the majority of my 20s. To this day, I still can't tell you exactly why I loved the place so much. Maybe it was the location in the Pacific Northwest. Possibly because the people had such a reputation for being cool and laid back. I still don't really know.

Just for the fun on it, I went to Sperling's Best Places and found that Portland has been highly ranked for all sorts of different things...from best cities for foodies to best places for senior citizens to one of the most secure large cities in the USA. It's no wonder that the area is going through a huge population boom.

In closing, I just wanted to include a funny sketch from the show Portlandia. I don't think any of these were the reasons I wanted to move to Portland, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.


See you guys on Monday for Q day of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I still have no clue what I'm going to write about.

O Is For Orlando, Florida

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/pipiGB

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Orlando, Florida!

The first thing I think of when people say Orlando is Disney World. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does that, right?

I've been lucky enough to enjoy Disney World as a child and as a parent, and I'm still hoping to go back to see some of the things I missed.

My First Trip to Disney

My first trip to see Mickey Mouse was when I had just started elementary school. My dad drove me, my sister, and my cousin down to Orlando by himself and hung out with us around the park. It didn't seem like quite a feat back then, but I'm not sure I could manage multiple kids on my own. I don't remember a ton from the first trip except for the fact that I listened to Whodini nonstop during the drive.

My First Trip to Disney on My Own

The second time I went to Disney World was with a school field trip during the 5th grade. Back then I was a crossing guard and they held the trip for all of the guards in the school district. It was a pretty cool feeling because it the first time I had ever really gone out of town without my family. I wonder if they would still just let a bunch of 5th graders roam around the park on their own?

I can remember doing a lot more on that trip, but I still didn't get a chance to ride Space Mountain. Funny enough, the best memory I have of that trip is that we kept passing this group of high school girls wearing Forenza jackets. We must have passed them about 15 times that day, and they left us breathless every time.

One Last Hurrah for Middle School

My last time going to Disney World as a child was for my 8th grade class field trip. The trip was a reward for us making it through middle school without causing any major trouble. The bad part was that not everyone could afford to go, but I was lucky enough that all of my friends were there.

I think it rained the whole weekend we were there, but we had so much fun. We walked around wearing our bright yellow Disney ponchos, and just had the time of our lives. It was a fitting end to middle school for us because the majority of us ended up at different school the next year.

Back to Disney as a Parent

About four years ago, I finally made the trip back to Disney...this time as a parent. I won't lie, it was the best time I ever had being in Orlando. Just being able to see my daughter's eyes light up the minute we walked in the park made it worth the long drive from New York.

We literally stayed at Disney the whole day, and she enjoyed every minute of it...except for when she saw the witch from Snow White. The minute we got her seated in the car to go back to the hotel, she fell asleep. I guess she used every possible bit of energy that day, and it was awesome.

Orlando will always be a magical place for me because of Disney, but there are so many other things to do there as well. Maybe now we can try out Universal Studios or something??

N Is For Nashville, Tennessee

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/4P5amB

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Nashville, Tennessee!

From 1995 until 2000, Nashville was my home away from home. I went to college there at Vanderbilt University, and many of my greatest memories are from my time spent there. Strangely enough though, I haven't been back since I graduated in June 2000. I guess in my head it just wouldn't be the same without my friends still living there.

Before I started attending college, I remember thinking that Nashville was only about country music, boots, and cowboy hats. I couldn't have been more wrong though. Sure country music has a HUGE presence there, but it's not as over the top as you might think. I found that the majority of the people wearing "cowboy" gear were actually tourists from other states.

During my senior year of college, I lived off campus in an apartment not far from Music Row. When I had down time, I used to take walks past all of the record company offices on the next block. It was really insane to think that some of the biggest music stars in the world got their start right there where I was living.

I found the people of Nashville to be very nice once you got to know them. My university had a reputation of being stand-offish when it came to mingling with people from the community, but I made it a point to get involved in community projects that could break me through that bubble.

Just writing this post has me thinking of what it would be like to go back. Maybe I should look into it the next time Homecoming comes around.

M Is For Montreal, Quebec

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/dM3ob7

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Montreal, Quebec!

I haven't really had a chance to visit many countries outside of the United States. As a matter of fact, I've only been to two...Canada and Jamaica.

Montreal is one of the Canadian cities that I had a chance to explore when I was a kid. My mother and grandmother took me and my sister across the border for a trip back in the early 1980s. Funny enough, I happen to live a few hours from there now, but I haven't had the chance to go back as an adult.

Most of my early visit is pretty vague. I can clearly remember having a little tiny flag of Quebec, and not having a clue why so many of the people around there spoke French. It wasn't until a lot later that the language part made sense to me.

Another thing that I've come to learn about Montreal is that there is quite a nightlife out there. Many of my coworkers that grew up around here have told me that they used to cross the border on weekends because the drinking age was younger than here in the States.

Before we pack it in for the day, let's enjoy a few quick facts about Montreal:

  1. Montreal is one of the top five largest French-speaking cities in the world.
  2. Montreal is the home base for the entertainment show Cirque du Soleil.
  3. The building code in Montreal states that no buildings can be taller than Mt. Royal (764 feet).

L Is For Las Vegas, Nevada

By : Kieron Walker
https://flic.kr/p/f1WhhX

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Las Vegas, Nevada!

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I've never been to Las Vegas. Here I am nearing 40 years old and I haven't had the chance to experience Sin City at its finest.

It seems like the first things people think of when Vegas comes to mind are gambling and live shows. Well I'm definitely not much of a gambler, so that part wouldn't do much for me. It hurts my feelings to lose $20 at the local racino here in Saratoga, so I couldn't imagine losing more than that.

Who knows though? Maybe I could get lucky and end up like those guys on the World Series of Poker! To think they play poker for a living...and get to be on ESPN. What a life!

The live shows are pretty exciting though. It might make me a little weird, but the thought of seeing Wayne Newton live is pretty cool to me. Ok, well maybe Wayne Newton doesn't do regular shows in Vegas anymore, but it looks like Wayne Brady will be there in a couple of days! I'd still be willing to do that!

So I guess all I need to do is get together my own Wolfpack like in The Hangover. My two best friends are happily married and have kids, so maybe I'll have to draft a new entourage before I go. If anyone else out there wants to check it out, let me know!

K Is For Kingston, Jamaica

By : Kieron Walker
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKingston%2C_Jamaica.jpg

This month, I'll be taking part in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Each day during the month of April (except Sundays), I'll be submitting a post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. My theme for the month is "Oh the Places You'll Go!". Basically a look at some of the places I have been, along with a handful of places I would still like to visit. With that being said, today's destination is Kingston, Jamaica!

Let's get one thing straight from the start...Kingston is not like Montego Bay, Negril, or Ocho Rios. If you're looking for the resort experience when you go to Jamaica, this is not the place for you. However if you want to experience the urban side of Jamaica, you may want to spend a few days here.

My mother's side of the family lived in Kingston, and some of them are still there. She spent the first 13 years of her life there until she moved to Brooklyn to join my grandmother and my two aunts. I guess that's part of the reason that I enjoy going back. It's pretty amazing to see what it was like for her growing up.

The city isn't the most beautiful in the world. It's not always the safest in the world. But it still feels like home to me.

Blogging H Through J on a Day Off

By : Kieron Walker
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

I had a feeling it was going to happen, and sure enough life caught up to me once again during the A-Z. Unlike my prior two challenges however, I am going to keep on pushing ahead. So today should be a day off, but I'm going to just post a picture for the places I missed.

Next week will be better, I promise!

H Is For Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Hiroshima, Japan)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AA-bomb_dome.jpg


I Is For Independence Hall (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIndependence_Hall.jpg


J Is For Jefferson Memorial (Washington, DC)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJefferson_Memorial_as_seen_from_across_the_Tidal_Basin_in_Washington_DC.jpg


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