Career/Professional, Friendship, Kansas

A Week in the Midwest

This past week I made a trip back to the Midwest for a week full of learning and professional development, catching up with friends, fun and work. Other than the fact that there wasn’t much relaxing, I’d say that it was a pretty well-rounded (and very full!) trip.

AFA Alliance Forum

If you know me at all personally, chances are you’ve heard me talk at some point about Agriculture Future of America (AFA). This collegiate organization was a game-changer for my college experience, and continues to have a huge impact on my life today. Every year during the annual Leaders Conference for students, there is along a forum for the AFA Alliance, the organization’s alumni branch (but you don’t have to be an alum to join!) of which I am a lifetime member. I was so excited to be allotted the time from work to attend this year’s forum. Simply put, these are my “people” and I always leave my time with them feeling refreshed and with new ideas and tools to implement in my work-life and environment. This year’s forum focused on “Trust.” Trust between the agriculture and food industry and its consumers, trust in systems and working through what we don’t understand, trust between colleagues in the work place and more. We heard from speakers on time management, negotiating (on many levels), cultural intelligence and asking better questions. We also spent time chatting with each other about the high’s and low’s of what we are facing as professionals in the agriculture and food industry, which fostered opportunities to learn from each other.

If you are a professional in the agriculture and food industry and are looking for a opportunity for professional development I would highly recommend joining the Alliance and I would love to answer any of your questions!

I ALSO am very excited to share that my peers selected me to be a part of the Alliance Planning Committee, so in 2018 I will be serving as its Vice Chair and in 2019 I will be its Chair. So basically… be prepared to hear a bit more about all this in the time to come 🙂

Kansas City is one of my FAVORITE cities!



Boulevard Wheat is my FAVORITE beer so I was pretty excited that I finally had the chance to visit its brewery in KC. On the last evening of the forum, we had a joint reception there with the AFA Track 4 students (so primarily senior getting ready to graduate in December or next May.)


On Sunday morning, Michael, Ted and I joined Track 4 again for a panel discussion on “Pursuing Lifelong Leadership”…so basically chatting about our experiences navigating our post-grad lives and “adulting”, the importance of staying involved in things that fuel your interests and develop you personally and professionally and anything they wanted to ask about. And they really did have some great questions! I really enjoy these kinds of things because for me, having mentors that get me and a network of people whom I can go to with complicated questions or even chat with about the seemingly little things with has been something I certainly don’t take for granted. I hope that even if it was just for an hour, that something I said resonated with and encouraged someone else.

He wasn’t at the forum, but I was able to squeeze in a quick brunch with my friend Zech who is now living in KC. Zech is one of my sister’s good friends from high school, so it was great to catch up with someone from good old Eastern Oregon and hear about the really awesome stuff he is up to now. I love when we all grow up and my sister’s friends become my friends too, and vice versa.

Wichita

After I was finished with the Alliance Forum, I picked up my rental car and drove the quick 3 hours to Wichita, where Megan, my best friend and college roommate lives. Since I was in KC for the the forum Thursday through Sunday and then had a work event there scheduled for the following Thursday, it didn’t really make sense for me to fly back to DC again in between. I took one of the days off from work so we could get some quality time in together and then spent the other full day working out of her home office. Keeping up with friends when you live so far away from each other and have separate full lives going on is really hard, but so worth it when you have some great ones 🙂

Thank you Megan and Aaron for letting me crash for a couple of days!

Sonic is scarce on the East Coast, or at least in my area, so I went straight for the Route 44.

Megan’s pups Ned (german shepard) and Luna (corgi mix) were never far from the new excited person in their home…

Trade Talk

After a few quick days in Wichita, I drove back up to Kansas City for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) annual Trade Talk event. This event is a part of a larger conference, but essentially it is a day where organizations and companies across the agriculture and food industry set up booths featuring their spokesperson(s) and broadcasters from across the U.S. cycle through and record interviews all day long. That gives them a bank of content they can use sooner if the topics are timely or they can save it for the next few months when they need to fill in their programs. It also allows us as an organization to focus on a few topics and talking points that are at the forefront for us right now. It was a long, but fruitful day.

I decided the booth needed a bit more flair this year so I made two of these arrangements while I was in Wichita. I was pretty happy with how they turned out 🙂

So I’m back in DC now for a few weeks… until I travel back to Kansas (Manhattan this time!) for another work trip at the beginning of December. Lucky me!

Cheers!

Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 2: The Cabin

Earlier this month, I traveled to Oregon for a much needed vacation and visit home.

As I shared in my Part 1 recap last week, my best friend Megan (from Kansas) tagged along so I could FINALLY share my home with her.

My previous post shared about the time we spent in my hometown of Hermiston, and today I’m sharing all about taking her up to my family’s cabin “The Diggins” (my happy place) near Sumpter, OR.

We did a lot of relaxing, went on walks, played with my pup Jack, took the kayaks out on Philips Lake and Megan kept up with her daily yoga pose challenge. We explored nearby Sumpter, where Megan learned all about gold mining, and had dinner at the historical Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City. We also hung out with my grandparents, who were also up for the weekend.

And of course, we took a LOT of pictures.











Megan, I am so happy that I finally got to share my home and my happy place with you. And if you weren’t considered part of the family before, you definitely are now.

And to The Diggins, thanks for always being exactly what I need.

Cheers!

Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 1: Hermiston

Last week I traveled home to Eastern Oregon for a long-awaited vacation and this time around I had a tag along join me.

If you’ve read my blog before (or know me in real life), chances are you know or have at least heard about my best friend Megan. We met on the first day I arrived at the scholarship house at K-State, quickly became inseparable, and went on to live together for 4.5 years. Friendships as an adult when you live across the country from each other can be rough, but we’ve managed pretty darn well.

Since we met I have always wanted to share Eastern Oregon with her, so about a year ago I basically told her that she was expected to come with me the following summer.

The first part of our week was spent up at my family’s cabin, but we took a ton of pictures up there on both our phones and my DSLR that still need a bit of sorting, so we are going to jump around on this  Part 1 post 🙂

Reunited! Megan’s hair has always been pretty short, but I just cut my hair shorter than its been since I was a kid, so this picture kind of looks strange to me.

Our first night in Hermiston, my sister took us out to a new-ish local winery nearby. Echo Ridge Winery has been around a few years, but this was the first chance that I have had to try it! I will always love small towns, but I also love seeing how Eastern Oregon is growing in fun ways that highlight what it has to offer, while maintaining its small town culture. We did a tasting, and after agreeing that the Syrah was our favorite, we bought a bottle to take up to the cabin with us the next day.




We packed a lot into the week, especially since Megan was leaving a few days earlier than I was. I showed her the high school and the flower shop, since those are basically the main places where I grew up. Of course we grabbed food at my favorite taco truck for lunch and we drove out to the house I grew up in (my parents moved a little less than a year ago.) We also spent an evening with my childhood best friend Richole, (and saw her beautiful new house!) I love that my favorite people from different stages of my life know each other. Richole’s little boy Wesley (who is a regular “guest” on my So There’s That posts), is officially in the toddler stage and is just as shy and cute, as his mama was when she were little. I can’t believe that I didn’t take any pictures that night!


Didn’t take any pictures with the grandparents throughout the week, but this Snapchat that my sister sent me definitely made me smile.


On Megan’s last day I took her to the Umatilla County Fair and the Farm City Pro Rodeo. These are two of the things that she has heard me chat about endlessly over the years so it was fun to share that with her. We had a blast with my sister to round out the end of her visit.

Megan and I are definitely “soul sisters” in every way, and a large part of that is that she has also become friends with my family. My family is VERY close, so they have always made the effort to get to know and invest in the other important people in my life. Believe me when I say that I know that combination is really special.





Visiting home during the country fair and rodeo has its ups and downs. It’s great because I get to see a lot of people in one location. But there are drawbacks when your family is still involved in many ways behind the scenes. I love that we were able to round out each of the nights during the second half of the trip by going to the rodeo together.


But the star of the trip was definitely Miss Sawyer June (sorry Megan). She was just 3 weeks old when I arrived and I really could have spent the majority of my time snuggling with her. As I mentioned in a post soon after she was born, it’s been 23 years since there was a baby in this part of my family, so basically she’s the shiny new toy that no one can get enough of.


Even her Uncle Tom and Uncle Jay slowed down for some Sawyer time.

So that’s Part 1! I will be back soon with Part 2 and an overload of pictures from the cabin!

Cheers!

Friendship, Washington D.C.

BFF Plus Nathan DC Adventure

It’s almost August. It’s almost August. It’s almost August.

That’s been my mantra for more than two months now, and IT IS FINALLY AUGUST.
Life has been pretty darn busy since the beginning of May, and for the most part I thrive stress and being busy, but if I’m being honest, I could not wait for August to get here.

But as I always say, even if it takes me longer than it should, its important to me catch up on the blog and use it as my journal.

In mid-June Megan and Kyla, my college roommates and best friends came to visit me in DC, oh and Kyla’s husband Nathan too. Oh and don’t feel too bad for Nathan… he’s been dealing with the three of us girls together for years.

We’ve been planning for this trip almost since I made the move to the east coast and I was so excited to share my new home with three of my favorite people.

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They were supposed to come in late on a Thursday night, but had a few delays so by the time they arrived and we made it to bed it was well after 1 am.

I opted not to carry around my nice camera. I have visited most of the places on our schedule before so I decided just using my phone this time around would work fine.

Friday: Mt Vernon, National Smithsonian of American History, hopped around in Chinatown for drinks and dinner
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Saturday: Renwick Gallery, White House and Eisenhower Executive Building, National Mall and all of the monuments, dinner at Café Berlin

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I’ve had multiple people rave to me about the Renwick Gallery and this was one of the few things that I insisted we visit because I hadn’t had a chance yet. I’m so glad we did, it was SO COOL!

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Cafe Berlin is probably my favorite restaurant in DC!

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Sunday: National Cathedral, food truck brunch event, Arlington Cemetery

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Monday: U.S. Capitol tour, lunch at Union Station, U.S. Botanical Gardens, National Smithsonian of Natural History, National Art Gallery, Senate Gallery at the Capitol, dinner at Tupelo Honey.

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Tuesday: Holocaust Memorial Museum, lunch at Laughing Man Tavern.

Tuesday was a partial day as they were headed out on an early evening flight. Except they didn’t quite make home because of weather and a missed connection, so they spent an extra 24 in St. Louis and made the most of it by visiting the zoo.

I definitely had major #FOMO (fear of missing out).

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Funny side story: While we were on the Metro this really big family gets on and this little girl that’s maybe 4 years old is being drug on by an older sibling as she’s yelling “this is not our train” over and over. The Mom looks at the map on the wall and says “I am pretty sure that we are going the right direction,” but after I offer to help, I had to tell her that they were going in the opposite direction from where they needed to be and then offered step by step directions to get to the particular museum they were interested it.

We realized after the family got off, that the little girl, had indeed been right about the train.

Trust me, it was more chaotic and hysterical than I could possibly describe via writing.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and I am so happy that they were able to visit me.

Check back later this week for more updates from my summer!

Cheers.

Agriculture, Friendship, Kansas

Quality of Wheat, Quality of Life.

Life man. It sure throws you some twists and turns. After an insanely busy couple of weeks, some of it expected and some it not… my goal is to get caught up on the blog with a few posts this week, because not only do I enjoy sharing my adventures with you (Hi Mom and Grammy!), but this also is my way of journaling. Right before I left on my trip I posted this graphic on social media. As usual, my life over the past few weeks was right on target.

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So first up, my trip to Kansas, May 20 to 27…

“Quality” is a general characteristic that I think most people would agree is hard to define. We determine quality based on what we value, or more simply on what our needs are, and those variables are obviously going to vary from person to person. With quality usually comes discussions on consistency, efficiency and impact. And then there is the question of the value of quality versus quantity.

My trip to Kansas was all about quality.

I traveled out to Kansas to join one of my colleagues in leading the Overseas Varietal Analysis (OVA) Hard Red Winter (HRW) Wheat Quality Summit. My organization invited overseas wheat customers from five countries (Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Israel and Nigeria), who have participated in our OVA programming to travel to Kansas to discuss HRW quality directly with wheat breeders, public researchers, grain handlers and farmers. These customers represented some of the largest milling and baking companies in their respective markets. We were also joined by three of our USW overseas technical staff who were accompanying the customers on the trip.

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The HRW Quality Summit group at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.
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Two of my fellow USW colleagues from Nigeria and Korea.

In the United States, there are six distinct classes of wheat grown, each one providing different baking qualities important for different products. So while you might use the same all-purpose flour for everything you cook at home, the products we enjoy from the store or bakery are going to vary in the class of wheat that was used to make it based on characteristics such as texture, protein content, moisture, color and weight. Without going into a huge lesson, the challenge is that quality targets are not the only thing to focus on. The breeders develop different varieties for each wheat class that also focus on yield, disease and drought resistance, and more, and that process takes many years. In grain handling, there are also processes in transportation that impact the overall quality and export process. And then the farmers have the task of choosing the variety that are best for their farm and growing practices.

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K-State Research and Extension wheat field day in Hays, KS.

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K-State Research and Extension wheat field day in Hays, KS.
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K-State Research and Extension wheat field day in Hays, KS.
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K-State Research and Extension wheat field day in Hays, KS.

Like I said, quality is important. If you want to read more about the Summit and my work click the link below for an article I wrote. (Psst..it’s the second story down.)

Overseas Customers Discuss Need for Stability and Consistency in HRW Wheat Quality

So as I thought about the importance of quality and how we each define it in a different way, I thought about the rest of my trip and my life in general.

It’s so easy to focus on the negative and as hard as we try we often spend too much of our valuable time focused on things that don’t matter in the long run. I don’t know if I am just plain lucky, but the amount of QUALITY people in my life, in every place that I have lived, is humbling. These people love and accept me, and make me always want to be a better person. My “me” time while in Kansas for work was pretty short, but it never takes long for me to be reminded why I will forever be so thankful for my QUALITY time living there.

It’s hard sometimes living in a new city, with a new job and having to make new friends. I want that instant gratification of the QUALITY of life that I have built before, and in my impatience, forget that like breeding and growing QUALITY wheat, some things in life take time,  and trial and error.

During my vacation part of the trip I was able to FINALLY meet my best friend Leah’s new little one, Robin Michele. That look you see on my face below is pure joy! I had to wait two months before I got to hold her, and all the pictures and text messages in the world were just not enough for me.

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Instagram Caption: Finally got to meet and cuddle with baby Robin Michele. She is such a sweetheart, I wasn’t very good at sharing.
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Kyla and Baby Robin

I also got to spend some QUALITY time with friends and enjoying the place that I called home for six years. My old co-worker Jodi invited me and our friend Jancey out to her home for dinner. Her little girl #outlawainsley was born while Jodi and I worked together, and I had a wonderful evening flying a kite, “hopping through the onions,” eating “puppies” (puppy chow) and throwing rocks down a dirt road. My friends Kyla and Nathan came up for the weekend to visit which included walking through and seeing all of the new construction on K-State’s campus and a reminiscing night out in Aggieville. The real champ of week though, was my friend Brandi, who let me crash on her futon for a few nights until I could check into my hotel for work. We watched way too many episodes of Grey’s (she finally got me addicted), drank a decent amount of wine and were obnoxious as can be watching The Bachelorette premiere together.

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Instagram caption: “I wouldn’t give a nickel to have it paved in gold. Everything I love is at the end of a dirt road.”
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Flying a kite with Ainsley and Jancey.
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Kyla and I stopped by Smurthwaite, the women’s leadership/scholarship house where we first became friends.
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Instagram caption: I couldn’t imagine going through life without friends who just get it… Who get me, who laugh at the same things, who appreciate a good glass of #wine and obsess over the same ridiculous things
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Besties back in the Ville.

At this point I would end my blog post complaining about the awful time I had trying to get out of Kansas and back home to DC in time to meet my Mom who was flying in to visit and help me move. Out of all of the crazy travel stories, it might be the best one.

But my trip to Kansas also gave me a good reminder lesson on perspective. That week Kansas saw three days of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and one of the farmers that I met at the Hays Field Day, went home that evening and lost everything on his farm and home just a few hours later. Twice I drove along I-70 near Chapman where one of the tornadoes crossed and saw just a little of the damage it had caused. It angers me when news reports say the “thankfully” a tornado “only hit a rural area,” and seem to forget that those areas are people’s whole livelihood. I only lived there just short of 6 years, but I consider Kansas home just as much as I do Oregon. I love that state so, so much and the people there even more. I’ve complained my fair share, but I would welcome all of my “troubles” over and over again if it meant those people still had their homes to sleep comfortably in.

Quality people, it’s important, worth recognizing and worth being patient for, in all walks of life.

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Thanks to Pat for snapping this picture of me!
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Instagram caption: #Kansas, blue jeans, Romeos and #wheat… These are a few of my favorite things.

Cheers, friends!

I’ll be back tomorrow with another post!

 

 

Friendship

NYC Girls Weekend – Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of my recap of the girls weekend trip Megan and I took to NYC. If you missed them, here are the links for my previous two posts:

“NYC Girls Weekend – A Snapchat Story,”
“NYC Girls Weekend – Part 1”

GRAND CENTRAL STATION

We continued our Saturday afternoon visiting Grand Central Station, where we got a coffee and rested our feet for a while.

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9/11 MEMORIAL and MUSEUM

I really wasn’t sure what to expect but the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was so well done. I would definitely recommend putting it one your must-see list when visiting NYC. Be sure to give yourself at least 2 hours or so.

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One World Trade Center

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ROCKEFELLER PLAZA and TOP OF THE ROCK

Rockefeller Plaza is now officially on my bucket list to visit during Christmas time! While we were waiting to go to the Top of the Rock we watched the ice skating, including this funny old man who was cracking us up with his dancing.

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A and M Rockefeller - EDITED

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Going to the Top of the Rock is SO WORTH the spendy ticket. We both were told that we should go to the Rock instead of the Empire State building, and though we didn’t do both to compare, we definitely recommend the Rock!

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TIMES SQUARE…AGAIN

After the Rockefeller Center, it was already past 11pm and we hadn’t had a chance to get dinner so we were starving! Somewhat unintentionally we wandered back over to Times Square and ended up eating at Dos Caminos, a Mexican restaurant that looked out onto the square. I don’t know if it was just because we were so hungry, but the food was so good!!

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A and M night Times Square (1) - EDITED

I’m really glad we went back at night time because the red stairs were open!

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ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL

Sunday morning we headed to St. Patrick’s so Megan could go to Mass. Even if you are like me and not Catholic, I would suggest going, everything was so pretty and the organ was amazing!

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LAST FEW STOPS ON SUNDAY

The rest of the morning was pretty relaxed. We got breakfast at Magnolia Bakery which is around the corner from the Rockefeller Plaza and apparently pretty famous.

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I nerded out a little when we stumbled upon the Sunday Today Show going on.

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And of course we had to be super tourists and visit the LOVE sign.

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Before heading out we quickly stopped by Central Park again. It was sunny and beautiful out, but it was SO COLD!

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The weekend went by way too quickly, and our feet have been sore for days, but I am so happy that we were able to make this girls weekend work.

Excited for when she, Kyla and Nathan visit DC in June!

Cheers!

Friendship

NYC Girls Weekend – Part 1

This past weekend my best friend and college roommate Megan and I met up for a girls weekend in NYC. Yesterday I posted: “NYC Girls Weekend – A Snapchat Story,” sharing some of the random and funny Snapchats from our adventures.

Today I am sharing Part 1 of 2 of our trip, including pictures from our phones and my nice camera.

FRIDAY NIGHT

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When we first got in on Friday, we kept things pretty laid back, focusing on catching up and a good meal. We headed over to West Village for dinner at an AMAZING Italian restaurant, Aria Wine Bar, and then explored a couple of local spots for drinks, including this jalapeno tequila above. #partyofficiallystarted

This was also the only time that we got lost on the Subway trying to get back to our hotel in Queens. I am going to say this one final time… the New York Subway is SO MUCH MORE COMPLICATED than the DC Metro. I was actually missing the Metro by the end of the weekend, and that’s a bit concerning.

CHELSEA MARKET

We began bright an early and headed out to Chelsea Market. It wasn’t quite what we expected, but still really cool! A lot of the shops didn’t open until mid-morning, but that also meant that it wasn’t crowded at all.

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What Lifts You - Megan - EDITED

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Such a cool fish market!

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Found these lights on Pinterest, when we were searching for things to do and cool pictures to take.

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Megan has been learning about food photography for her job, and so the market was a great place to teach her the few things I know and let her practice using a wider lens.

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#WhatLiftsYou by a local artist

CENTRAL PARK

Next, we had to switch up the schedule a bit because it was raining. So on the way to the MET we cut across central park.

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I really wish I could embed videos straight from my phone (without putting them on YouTube) because this man we found playing under a bridge in the rain, played beautifully. He didn’t object to my taking his picture so we made sure that we supported his artistry.

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The MET

Living in DC I never tire of visiting the art museums because you can never get through them in one trip, so there is always something new to see. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art we had two exhibits in mind: Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh. Unfortunately after we searched for a long time (because apparently its too much for them to provide detailed maps) we figured out that the Warhols are not on exhibit.

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One of our favorite Doctor Who episodes features a story line with Vincent Van Gogh, so obviously its been on my bucket list to see some of his paintings.

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So cranky.

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This painting, “America Today 1930-31” by Thomas Hart Barton, wrapped around the entire room and was so detailed!

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TIMES SQUARE

Next we headed down to Midtown to fine some lunch in Times Square.

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I haven’t shared many food pictures because the lighting almost always sucked (because trust me, we took pictures of everything), but we were starving by then so these potato skins we got at “The Playwrite” were SO GOOD!

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Amanda and Megan in Times Square - EDITED

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We like to think that they were highly amused by us.

BRYANT PARK & NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

Next up was a short walk over to Bryant Park and the New York Public Library.

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That’s all for today.
I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 and more pictures!

Cheers!