Take A Hike Buddy

To be honest with you it is quite the miracle that I am home safe and sound writing this. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Because of the constant energy New York has it can get quite tiring and sometimes you need to escape, so Will and I did just that. Before leaving New Zealand I would quite regularly go for hikes in the Waitakere Ranges which was amazing. When we caught the Metro-North train upstate I was expecting hikes of the same beginner-intermediate intensity. Well let me tell you, this shit almost killed me. It was a day filled with wrong turns, mishaps, stunning views and by the end of it extremely sore legs.

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I had wanted to get out in to nature for a while so did some googling and found this link. We decided on Bear Mountain State Park as we had seen photos that looked incredible. The Metro-North train only stops at hiking stops such as Bear Mountain on the weekend and only one door of the train opens for you to exit. We missed our stop. Manitou was the stop we were meant to get off at and then walk across Bear Mountain Bridge but the conductor was a real shithead and didn’t explain that you had to be on the small area between train carts that specifically says “NO STANDING”. Go figure as to why we thought that’s not where we should be waiting. Any who there was an absolutely lovely lady passenger on the train who told us that a couple stops away was another hiking trail and she explained exactly where we needed to go. It wasn’t our trail of choice but what the hell.

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Everyone in New York must have been needing to get out into the wilderness because so many people got off at the next hiking stop. We followed the ladies directions which lead us to a desk with two rangers at the beginning of trail helping people. His first words- “This is an extremely challenging trail which involves rock climbing where you need to have your arms and legs free”. Nope. Not happening. My response? “Is there an easier option”? There was! Hallelujah! He showed us on a map where we needed to go, how long it would take and where the best views were. When we asked if we could take a copy of the map he said “Sure, for $2″. Obviously we weren’t THAT far out of New York City.

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Even though we still managed to get extremely lost, it would have been a lot worse had we not purchased that map. The first part of the hike I found incredibly difficult, it was mostly up hill and we climbed 1000 ft. We were also idiots and only took a 500ml bottle of water each which we almost finished just on the train ride. It was tough. As Will kept pointing out, you can last two days without water and we are complaining and dreaming about our next beverage after 20 minutes. Fair call. Our lunch spot was incredible. Sprawling views of the Hudson River and other state parks. I packed tuna for our lunch but stupidly left the can opener at home! So Will being the Survivor fanatic he is put his hours of watching to use and bashed the can open on a rock. My hero.

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After lunch was when things started to go wrong. The ranger had told us to start on the Yellow Trail till we get to the White Trail. Follow the White Trail for 10 minutes until you get to the Blue Trail. From there continue on to the Red Trail. It took us hours to find the White Trail. Each point where a new colour would appear was very confusing and the map did not give us a good indication of where to go. We eventually got to the White Trail and then to the Blue but we took a wrong turn. After what must have been 3 hours of hiking we thought we were coming to and end but instead ended up at a kids summer camp. We exited the park on to a huge green field with a climbing wall and soccer goals. Surely this couldn’t be the finishing point. It wasn’t. But it had water fountains! So after our run in with severe dehydration (not really), we ran to the fountains and guzzled that cold water like never before.

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We managed to find some people who gave us directions how to get back to the train station. This involved walking through the entire camp which was incredible! It was just like the summer camps you see in the movies. It turned out to be one of my favourite things I have seen while I have been here. At the end of the camp we ended up back on the trail…for another 2+ hours!! That’s not even the best bit though. Once we finished the trail we still had a 30 minute walk to get to the train. I slept real good on the way back to the city, reeeeal good. It was a great day though, filled with adventure which included me sliding down a hill on my ass. That happened when we took ANOTHER wrong turn and had to trudge through thorn bushes. Ahh nature. You can’t beat it.

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What other hikes should I get lost on in NY State? Please let me know!

Until next time friends..

xx

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The 7 Cons Of Having Ryan Gosling’s Babies

Just wrote this for BuzzFeed! If ya feel like sharing it around so I can try and get featured on their front page that’d be pretty darn good of ya! Go to the BuzzFeed link and share from there. Thanks friends :)

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Fourth of July

Well it is certainly getting hot here in NYC! Today we had a scorcher of 32 degrees. Urgh, it was disgusting. This pasty lady is not meant for sweltering heat. We celebrated Independence Day here in ‘Murica and it was fabulous. My favourite holiday I’ve celebrated here so far. Most New Yorkers leave the city for the long weekend so we made the most of the quiet streets and no lines for restaurants. Ironically my day was spent surrounded by Kiwis rather than Americans. But what a great bunch of Kiwis they are. photo1 The festivities began at The Essex in Lower East Side for a boozy bunch. It was delicious, food always puts me in a good mood. Lots of laughs and mimosas later we were on the move but the rain stopped us in our tracks and ruined the fun outdoor activities we had planned. Never fear though, off to Brooklyn it was for Cranium and shelter! Our kiwi clan spent the afternoon drinking beer, playing games and eating pizza, so we got a little bit of American tradition in! photo1 We finally got the weather on our side and the clouds began to clear. Each year New York has an incredible fireworks display for the fourth of July. Usually in the Hudson River but this year they were in the East River which is between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Lucky for us we have a rooftop that gets sprawling views of the city, so once the sun came out we hiked up 6 flights of stairs to finish the night off on the roof.

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It was a splendid day, with splendid people in a splendid city. I bet the word splendid sounds funny to you now.

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Oh and in case you missed it – I got published on HelloGiggles.com. Click below to check out my piece “The Pros and Cons of Having Bangs”. HelloGiggles Until next time, friends.. X

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The Fan and the Band

I’ve always been obsessed with music. From a young age I’ve always followed certain bands and artists and had a strong knowledge of music. By strong I mean, I know a lot of weird and useless facts about a variety of music. All of which will never come in handy. I can credit this music obsession to my parents and older brother Lawrence, who all had good taste and shared it with me. This love of music came in to full swing at the age of 15 when I discovered Fall Out Boy. Before Fall Out Boy I only listened to music that was easily accessible to me by radio or TV so this meant the likes of Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child and The Black Eyed Peas. So ya know, all that cheesy pop stuff. Fall Out Boy introduced me to a whole new side of music, a dedication to music. Not only did I fall in love with Patrick, Joe, Andy and Pete, I fell in love with all these other bands that I discovered through them. I would scour local record stores for CDs by new bands I had discovered, spending every last cent of my limited money. I loved the feeling of coming home putting my new purchase on repeat while reading the sleeve cover to cover. Then late at night I would relentlessly search the internet on MySpace and Last FM to find new music. This was back when it was dial up too so that’s what I mean by a dedication to music. But the fact that I had to wait overnight for an album or a song to download didn’t bother me. I was so excited to get up in the morning and listen to it.

Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Say Anything, Panic! At The Disco, Coheed and Cambria, The Academy Is and The Used were all such a huge part of my teenage life and my teenage relationships. Some of my fondest memories are driving in my car with my best friends screaming the lyrics to our favourite songs. These bands shaped who I am today and my love of music. So when it was announced that Fall Out Boy and Paramore would be touring North America together this summer as part of Monumentour it was a no brainer – I had to go. Never mind the fact that it was in Long Island and I had to hire a car to get there. The 15 year old that lives quietly but still very apparent in me got an extra special treat when she saw you could purchase meet and greet packages with your concert ticket. Again, it was a no brainer – I owed it to the girl who used to listen to Fall Out Boy daily, and chat on Fall Out Boy chat rooms (embarrassingly so) daily. The ticket was purchased and off I went. Alone may I point out, I went to this show alone. There’s that dedication to music again.

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I wasn’t really nervous because in the email it explained it would just be a quick thing where you walk round once and get something signed then you walk around again and get a photo. Willem dropped me off at Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach which is the most incredible outdoor venue I have ever seen. Absolutely incredible.

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I picked up my tickets and meet and greet pass then I hopped in line. Straight away I noticed I was in a strange minority. The minority being my age. The first people I spoke to were Mums who I got on really well with btw. Probably because I felt I could relate more with them than the other alternative – 14 year old girls. My first question to my new 14 year old BFF that I made waiting in line was – How do you even know Fall Out Boy?! I mean it was 2006 when they were really huge and the world went nuts over Pete Wentz. I filled her in on the whole Pete Wentz era when she was confused why we weren’t allowed to give the band hugs. But anyways she said she got introduced to them through another band that she listens to. I loved hearing her say that because it gave me a smidgen of hope in young people and their music choices these days. I totally thought they were all listening to One Direction, Austin Mahone and whatever other tweens are putting out music at the moment. However, this was my only moment of respect for the 14 year old population at this concert.

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Waiting in line for the meet and greet these girls were playing it cool like it was any other day, but when they came out from getting something signed they were completely different. Some were in tears, others were skipping and jumping with joy. I just couldn’t stop thinking what a weird fucking thing this whole ordeal is. I have paid MONEY to meet these PEOPLE. That is all they are – PEOPLE. Fame is the most bizarre thing in the world. Some how because these people are in front us constantly that makes them better than everyone else and they deserve special treatment. It blows my mind. Don’t get wrong the guys were absolutely lovely and so patient and understanding with the hysteria happening around them. I think the reactions of everyone else made me really calm coz I was thinking “Wow these girls are going to be freaking these poor guys out”. But then again, they will be used to it. My new 14 year old BFF went in before me and broke out in hysterical laughter. This blew my mind even more. Why do we get reactions like this over famous people who are no different to us other than the fact they are way rich and well known. If I had the chance to meet Fall Out Boy when I was younger and my love for them was in it’s prime, sure, I definitely would have had the same reaction of hysterical laughter. However, now that my mind functions properly and I can see that this is the strangest thing I have ever done, it’s completely different. I just kind of walked on through, smiled at the guys, asked them how they were and then I was on my way. They must have thought I was sedated compared to the other company in the room. But that wasn’t even the weirdest part of the whole experience, that came at the show itself. After the meet and greet I lined up to get into The Pit which is right at the front of the stage. Quick side note: I have decided I am too old and completely over getting General Admission tickets to live shows. This show made it clear to me. I got my space about 4 rows back from the front surrounded by 14 – 16 year olds causing a whole lot of ruckus. I finally found some kindred souls when I overheard two girls talking about all the 12 year olds pushing them. We became instant friends. After opening band New Politics finished their set, Paramore came on stage. They put on an amazing live show. Personally I prefer them as a three piece and feel they just keep getting better. They had multiple confetti bombs go off and giant balloons bounce on the heads of the crowd. My favourite part of their show was then they got a crowd member on stage to sing part of Misery Business with them. This girl did great. But what impressed me more was how much love Paramore show to their fans. They looked like they had so much fun up on stage with the fan and constantly thanked the crowd showing gratitude. It was second time seeing them live and they are just a great band to see live.

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Now when Fall Out Boy came on, that’s when things got weird. Seeing the girls around me and listening to them talk made me feel so strange. For one, most of them cried when the band came on stage. I kept turning around during certain songs and just saw a sea of mascara stained faces.

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The relationship fans have with bands is an odd one. I don’t know why we put them up on a pedestal or why we see them with such authority. I mean, I think music is incredibly important and understand a strong love of songs and lyrics. But the way bands are treated and seen is phenomenal. Perhaps it’s the mystery behind them, the lives they lead that we want to and can only dream of. Fans can probably tell you more about a member of their favourite band than one of their own family members. Which is crazy, sad and true. The show was closure for me. I met a new generation of fans who hopefully find a love of music through their love of Fall Out Boy but lose the obsession with the members of Fall Out Boy. I said goodbye to that 15 year old fan girl with teased hair that was once lived inside of me and left her at the show with no ride home.

The 15 year old with teased hair that I speak of

The 15 year old with teased hair that I speak of

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It’s Not all Fun and Games

This post may be a bit of a downer but I thought it was necessary. Since deciding to move overseas and especially since moving, I have had a lot of the same responses from people. Usually along the lines of “How did you manage to do that?”, “Oh my god you are living the life” or “I am so jealous/envious of your life”. That last one is something I have never wanted to make people feel. Mainly because, in New Zealand especially, everyone has equal opportunity. So going overseas is within reach and what I have done is not out of the ordinary. Also because, while I have had an amazing time so far, it most definitely has not been all fun and games. Hence the title of this post.

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Moving from New Zealand to New York City has given me some of the highest highs and lowest lows to date. I have met amazing people, seen and done incredible things all while finding out so much about myself. But on the other side I have never been this broke in my life, I get major anxiety and am underpaid and under appreciated. I am not living a life of luxury by any means. Most of what I post about I have done for free because I don’t have the money to spend. I can’t afford a fancy brunch on a Williamsburg Rooftop so instead I go to The Met where you pay by donation (meaning you can pay 1c) and go to their rooftop garden with just as spectacular views without the overpriced Eggs Benedict. While working ladies lunch, I sit at my desk eating tuna and beans. My washing sits for weeks because I can’t scrape enough quarters together for the machine. But still, I’m living in New York so it’s okay. Well at least that’s what I tell myself.

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This city tests my character daily. Wherever in the city I go, New York shows me the extremes of life. A well-dressed, young man leaving his Manhattan townhouse to get into his Mercedes, heading for his summer house. Compare this to what you find when you walk 5 meters and turn the corner. An older man, his clothes filthy and torn, leaving his small, hardly sheltered nook under some scaffolding with his shopping cart full of cans and plastic bottles looking to get whatever money he can to feed himself. It tests my character not because I am scared by the homeless people but because it makes me feel helpless and hopeless. I am confronted with this constantly which forces me to acknowledge that these people and this issue exists it shows me that we as a human race are not doing our part. I know that I could do more. It is easy to ignore if it doesn’t effect us directly. This is the main part that makes me feel hopeless. What I have also seen with these polar opposite ways of life is that those who are less fortunate are the most grateful and understanding. Then there are the people who are more fortunate that seem to live this life of entitlement. If they could remove themselves for one second and just hear the problems they are complaining about as they sip on their Venti Soy Triple Shot Espresso, or whatever trendy bullshit people drink these days, surely they would see how insignificant their problems and their ego are. Well you would hope.

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My time here has been an emotional roller coaster but of course people don’t like to show their vulnerability and weaknesses. With the rise of social media it is there for people to show their highlight reel rather than their behind the scenes. I’m pretty sure that’s a Taylor Swift quote so thanks Tay Sweeze. But this is what I have done. I stand by the fact that Facebook should not be used as a diary but next time you see someone living overseas or doing something else that you may be envious of remember the above Tee Swizzle quote. There is so much more to a person than what they show online. With every photo album shared of great times, there are just as many tough times that aren’t seen. I respect and admire people who use social media rarely or not at all. I would love to be one of you, but my mother would kill without this portal into my life – Hi Mum.

This all may come across a little hypocritical and you make think what the hell is she talking about. Don’t get me wrong, this year has been an amazing opportunity and experience which I wouldn’t trade in. It has made me a stronger person and more aware. I guess moral of the story is don’t glamorize people’s lives through the internet, realize that there is more to a person than their profile and don’t ever feel envious about people doing things that you can easily achieve too.

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Memorial Day Weekend

Wow so a month has been past since I last wrote on here. Eeek i’m sorry. Haven’t really felt the ‘inspiration’ to update with what I’ve been up to. But here is a quick recap of the long weekend we just had here in America.

May 26th was Memorial Day which is a day for remembering Men and Women who have died while serving in the armed forces. It is also considered the unofficial start of summer. So as the majority of New Yorkers headed to their house in The Hampton’s, Will and I stayed in the city. During summer my work has ‘summer fridays’ where the office closes at 3pm. The first of these was on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend to give us an extra long weekend. I spent my few extra hours roaming East Village and Lower East Side and catching up on personal projects at Cafe Pick Me Up on Avenue A. This is one of my favourite cafes in the city, such an awesome location just across the road from Tompkins Square Park. On my way home I got caught in the rain – again. I really need to learn to have my umbrella on me at all times this time of year! But luckily got home before the major thunder and lightening storm set in!

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The forecast for the weekend was a bit iffy and was threatening rain each day. We decided to make the most of the little bits of sunshine New York was tempting us with on Saturday and take our bikes out for a ride. First stop – basketball shots in Brooklyn. All the Basketball courts you see around New York in the movies aren’t an exaggeration. They are everywhere and easily accessible. The one we were at was filled with kids who stole our ball and Will had to beg for it back.

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Pushing our limits with the rain even further we rode to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was a bit more crowded than expected with 4 wedding parties getting photos in front of the bridge. The photos would look great – yes. But being around all those strangers and foot traffic on your wedding day just sounds like unnecessary stress to me! Unfortunately on the way home our luck was out. We got caught in torrential rain and it was not slowing down anytime soon. I was drenched by the time we got home. Sickness soon set in, putting a damper on the rest of the weekend and me missing 2 days of work.

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Sunday the weather completely cleared up and it was a beautifully sticky 25 degrees. We ventured up to Queens to check out Sculpture Park. It’s like an outdoor art exhibit where they make obscure sculptures and put them on display in a park overlooking the water.

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After stocking up on Cold and Flu tablets we headed to a rooftop party just around the corner from us with a couple of kiwi friends. It was a fun night with an INCREDIBLE view. We have a small rooftop at our apartment but it is nothing like this. I’ve got a feeling summer is going to be filled with nights like these.

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We’ve been here almost 7 months now (wow that’s flown by), so that means 7 months being away from the beach and spectacular sea views. I needed a dose of the sand, the sea and the sun so off to Rockaway we went. Rockaway beach is an hour and a half subway trip from New York City. Not as accessible as the beaches back home but not bad when you are living in the depths of a concrete jungle.

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The subway was packed. So many city folk headed out to show off their bikini bods and take a dip in The Atlantic. Which was ice freaking cold btw. Because New Yorkers don’t have the luxury of a back yard or beaches everywhere they really make the most of city parks and any beach you can get to via subway. On a weekend day in summer any park in the city will be covered in people. As the beach isn’t the easiest to get to, people tend to use parks as their place to get a tan. They head down in their swimsuits, find a spot, lather in sunscreen and bake.

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The shore line of Rockaway Beach was something that really interested me. At any beach in New Zealand the shore line will be dotted with million dollar mansions because of the view. At Rockaway, it was project housing. That’s just something you wouldn’t see back home.

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While we were still in New Zealand, Will and I watched a short documentary video by The Selby about a small beachside taco shop called Rockaway Taco. The guy who created this tiny food shop was so interesting and we always said we would go check the place out when we in New York. I am so glad we did. We were in line for probably close to an hour but it was well worth it. See the video i’m talking about below.

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Easter Weekend

Hello all you lovely people.

I may sound a wee bit chirpier today as i have just had 3 days away from the craziness of New York City. As amazing as this city is sometimes you just need to get the hell out for a couple of days to appreciate it again. Luckily there is a lot more to New York State than New York City and it’s not too far away! The original plan was to go to Niagara Falls but because of the terrible weather the East Coast had this Winter parts of it are still closed off so it’s not the best time to visit. I started researching and found some really beautiful places Upstate to visit.

We hired a car through Budget using discount codes from USAA which is a military website. I heard that anyone can sign up and use the codes so that’s what I did! If you are Under 25 and renting a car over here you get charged all kinds of absurd fees. The discount codes were meant to get rid of these. It worked out to be $244 for 3 days which is extremely cheap. Of course though, this was too good to be true. When we got to the pick up destination in Jersey City they said we couldn’t use the code because we didn’t use the USAA services such as insurance or banking. Urrrrrgh. This was extremely stressful seeing as I had already booked accommodation so couldn’t really cancel the car rental. He ended up giving us the car for the same price as a one off probably because we seemed so foreign. So that was amazing!

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First stop – Scranton, PA! Mine and Will’s favourite TV Show is the US version of The Office. We knew that we had to visit the town that is is based in at some stage while we are over. Everyone we told that we were going there told us not to. They said it was miserable and there is nothing to see. But we didn’t listen. I’m not going to lie, it was a little disappointing. Probably because we went a year after the show finished. We thought they’d be taking advantage of The Office and have it everywhere – but there was nothing. We went to some of the places that were mentioned in the show like The Steamtown Mall, Poor Richards and Alfredo’s Pizza Café. Other than that there wasn’t an Office themed thing in site. We took what we could get though and got photos of anything that had the slightest resemblance of The Office.

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After the above mentioned researching, i found Letchworth State Park which i knew i had to see. Described as “the Grand Canyon of the East”, Letchworth State Park is 5 hours from the city. It has over 60 miles of hiking tracks and some of the most beautiful waterfalls i have ever laid eyes on. When i told the New Yorkers that I work with where I was going none of them had heard of it. I thought this was strange for somewhere that had been compared to the Grand Canyon. But no worries, this is what i like to do. Find hidden and unknown treasures. Driving into the State Park, we got a good taste of what we were in for as 3 deer crossed the road right in front of us – it was incredible. It takes 30 minutes to drive from one side of the park to the other, but it took us longer as we had to keep stopping to take it the views.

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When I googled “hotels near Letchworth State Park” the place that kept coming up was Glen Iris Inn. It had good reviews and was reasonably priced so decided to book there. On their website it said that it was in the park and overlooked the waterfalls. When i saw this I thought it would be an exaggeration and that it would be in a town somewhere ages away from the park. But their description was spot on. In the heart of the park, Glen Iris Inn sits right by the Middle Falls which are the biggest falls in the park. It was the most gorgeous Bed and Breakfast with a restaurant and veranda. Before checking in we did The Gorge Trail at the park which went alongside all of the falls. Starting at Inspiration Point and continuing up to the top of the Upper Falls. When we got up close and personal with the Middle Falls and saw them from a certain angle there was a rainbow at the bottom. It was beautiful. I cried. Everyone has to go see this park. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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On Sunday it was time to head back to the city (wahh). We took our time and stopped in little towns along the way. It was so interesting getting to see these tiny American towns where they have a Sheriff and every house has an American flag proudly hanging. My favourite town we stopped in was Watkins Glen. I had seen photos of a State Park at Watkins Glen that looked stunning so wanted to check those out. Of course when we got there though the trail was closed due to snow. I thought they might have been exaggerating but i jumped the fence and my god was there some ice. Thick, thick ice. So we gave that a miss and headed to the township where we were pleasantly surprised with a harbor view. We went to the local bar that was sitting right on the water and had a drink in the sun. It would have been rude not to. The people in this town were absolutely lovely. So helpful and gave us places to go and see because the trail was closed. It reminded me of home because it was such a little summer town that i can imagine going on holiday to and camping by the water.

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Seeing the small towns and meeting the rural Americans really was a highlight for me. So many people say you shouldn’t judge America by New York City and I totally get that now. I love New York, but there really is so much more to America. This small trip made me really want to see as much of America as I can. If only it wasn’t so god damn expensive (see below).

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