Washington DC – The President’s Palace

Since I’m sitting here waiting for my flight to SFO at Dallas Love Field Airport, I might as well kill some time and tell you about my short trip to the District of Columbia. 

On Wednesday evening, my daughter and I took a red-eye to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Not sure if I mentioned it in a previous blog entry, but did I ever tell you about my fear of flying? I know it sounds super ridiculous due to the fact that I just flew to New York City a couple months ago, let alone to Virginia two days ago. It is getting easier, but I just hate dealing with turbulence. The flight here to Dallas was brutal even though I sat in the 4th row closest to First Class. One of these days, I’m going to find a professional hypnotist to help me get over this fear.

Moving forward, we picked up the car rental at Alamo Car Rental, then I drove directly to The White House. I couldn’t sleep during the entire flight so can you imagine how physically and emotionally drained I was.

We arrived at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building Parking Garage. Let me tell you, that building is creepy looking. Before entering the garage, the security guards searched my car. After being cleared, I drove down about 3 levels until I finally found a parking spot in a dark location. 😐 It didn’t feel safe, but it’s a Federal Building and the security probably saw me scratch my head on the security cameras.

Our check-in time at the White House was at 7:00 am. We arrived at 8:30 am only to find ourselves in a long line wrapped around the street corner. At that moment, I was desperate so I stepped out of line and walked towards the front. I asked the Secret Service Agent if it was still okay for us to go on the tour even though we were late. He greeted us with a smile, opened the gate, and lead us straight to the first security check-in. Phew! 

After three security checks and being sniffed by a dog, I found myself surrounded by decades of history – I couldn’t believe that I was inside the White House.

Sometimes I question myself, like, did I really deserve this?

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the East Wing was this portrait of President John F. Kennedy and his children. 💙

TIP #1: The tour is FREE, however, BOOK IN ADVANCE! To book a tour at the White House, it requires advance planning. You will have to contact your local member of Congress no less than 21 days prior to your visit (click here to find your local representative) I booked my tour 6 months in advance and didn’t get accepted until a week prior to my visit!

TIP #2: DO NOT bring a purse, a tote, or a backpack. They will not let you in. All I carried were my car keys and wallet.

TIP #3: Follow the rules. There is no ifs, buts, substitutions, or maybes. I mean, come on! You’re at the White House. This specific house has top notch security!

Photo: The Blue Room is the center of the State Floor of the White House. This room has been the traditional place for president’s to receive guests. 

Photo: Located on the ground floor, the Vermeil Room serves as a display room or for formal occasions. The painting shown in this picture is of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Aaron Shikler 1970. 


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The Artist Forest Beach “Albany Bulb”

As I prepare for my trip to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for other places to check out locally. After doing some research, I found a park not too far from me called, “Albany Bulb” which is located in the Albany Waterfront next to the Golden Gate Fields race track. The Bulb was known to be a landfill for construction materials until 1987, when it went through a series of legal issues. The park later became a homeless encampment, a place for teenagers to wild out, and a perfect place for dog owners to let their pets run about. So I bet you’re wondering why a woman like me with no dogs would be interested in seeing this piece of land, let alone an old construction dump! 

Even though I consider myself a newbie when it comes to travel and photography, I always tend to find beauty in almost everything, including landfills. 😂 Albany Bulb just isn’t a place for hikers and dog walkers, this oasis is surrounded by sculptures and graffiti art painted on concrete slabs. It’s an art lovers haven. The further you hike, the more you see. 

I took my son with me to check this out. I made a huge mistake by pulling up directions from my Yelp App (travelers beware! Do not use Yelp to navigate. It gave me the wrong directions.) I ended up parking my car at Point Isabel, which is a huge dog park next to the water. There were dogs everywhere! 

TIP: Point Isabel is a Dog Park. đŸ¶ And parking is very limited, especially on a weekend. On a happier note, they have restrooms 😂

Anyway, my son and I took the San Francisco Bay Trail from Point Isabel which is a mile away from Albany Bulb. The trail’s path ran parallel between Interstate 80 and the water. The walk wasn’t pleasant since the freeway is literally next to the trail. We arrived about 45 minutes later. And yes, it took us 45 minutes to walk a mile and a half. Mind you, my son is 6 and gets easily distracted.

Another TIP: If you’re with little ones, unless you own a bicycle with multiple seats, do NOT park at Point Isabel if you don’t want to walk a mile and a half!

We walked towards the sandy area where we came across more dogs running about. From that area, you can either hang out on the beach (watch out for poop) or catch a distant glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. There wasn’t much to see. After that, we took another trail towards the south end of the Bulb where we came across a castle made out of scavenged rebar, plaster, and concrete. 

“Mad Mark’s Castle” was completed in 2000 however, it deteriorated through the years. This is a before and after pic of the castle.

The before pic was taken by a photographer named Peter Merts. The second photo was captured from my camera. 

My son and I hung out at the castle for the most part. The castle offers a panoramic view of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. We didn’t get to explore the rest of the Bulb since we had a long walk back to Point Isabel, however, I do plan on returning so I can check out the sculptures and the rest of the art work. 

Here is a video from our short visit to the Bulb. 
Discover the Bay | Albany Bulb

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Mission District: Street Art, Food, and Historical Landmarks

This photo was taken from one of the alleyways off 24th Street. Throughout the Mission, you will find murals and graffiti art painted on walls and fences.  

I grew up down the street near Dolores Park. My family rented an an apartment off 16th and Dolores. In the early 1970’s to early 80’s, my family paid roughly around $300 a month for rent. But since the tech boom in the 90’s and recent years, young professionals moved into the neighborhood initiating gentrification, raising rent and housing prices. I was browsing on YouTube and found this video describing gentrification in the Mission District. The neighborhood has changed a lot since I moved out of San Francisco. Check it out!

 

PLACES TO VISIT

  1. Mission San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores Church), the oldest standing building in San Francisco, located on 16th and Dolores
  2. Dolores Park (located near the Mission Dolores Church) I will cover more about Dolores Park another day
  3. Precita Eyes Muralists
  4. Alley Cat Books, 24th Street and Treat
  5. Dianda’s Italian Pastry (My personal recommendation), 2883 Mission Street
  6. Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley for the street art enthusiasts
  7. “I hate food.” said no one ever! Dozens of taquerias are located throughout the neighborhood. If you’re craving tacos, the Mission District is the epicenter of authentic Mexican Food. It is also know to have a high concentration of Guatemalan, Salvadorean, and Nicaraguan restaurants. If you want to try a really good burrito, I highly recommend Papalote SF off 24th and Mission – don’t leave the restaurant without taking home a jar of their Roasted Tomato Salsa!

đŸš©CrysTIP:

  • Public Transportation is highly recommended to avoid spending countless minutes looking for a parking spot. If you plan to travel by BART, you can either get off at the 16th Street Bart Station or 24th Street Bart Station. By bus, you can take the 14 MISSION.

 

 

Aloha!

Well, here I am typing up my first blog post after being on a blogging hiatus lol. You can blame my super hectic schedule. But since I’m on a quick lunch break, I’ll try to squeeze in as much as I can about my background and why I decided to start this new journey.

My name is Crystal but people call me “Crys” for short. I’m a Filipina-american San Francisco Bay Area native. Yup! Born and raised in California. I decided to create this blog to talk more about the images I post on social media and share some history behind each photograph. To be honest, I’m not a professional photographer with a super expensive camera. I’m just a regular gal who just loves to take pictures of everything I find beautiful. Furthermore, I will also be sharing some travel tips for solo travelers, families traveling with kids, especially single parents traveling with kids, and people traveling on a tight budget, like myself. I’m a single mom and always believed that the world was bigger than just the Bay Area.

Everyone can travel – even if it’s just domestically or local and that’s why I’m here. But first, I would like to cover some local spots in the Bay Area for the local traveler. In the future, I’ll also be sharing some upcoming events that may interest you and recommend great local food vendors.

In the meantime, please follow my Instagram Page: CrysVentures

Thanks for reading!