MCM Class of 2018

Last year, I happened to be in DC during the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. It was a crisp autumn day and, though I enjoyed giving out high fives, I got a twinge of regret knowing that I was cheering instead of participating.

The Marine Corps Marathon is the fourth largest marathon in the country, and as such, offers a lottery registration. I haven’t had the best luck with race entry drawings (as evidenced by my 0-4 streak with the NYC Marathon), so I was very excited that there was another option this year: 11,000 spots were reserved for the quickest to register back in March.

For this training cycle, I decided to follow a 14-week program outlined in Robin Arzon’s Shut Up And Run. Though I felt more prepared this time around, I also felt a little burned out by week 10. Then, with all my nervous energy and excitement, I went out way too fast on race day. By the time I reached mile 21, I hit a wall and it was very difficult to push through to the finish. As an admittedly competitive individual, it was frustrating to not come close to my goal time. But, not every race can be a personal record (PR), and I know that I am a stronger person for it.


In many other ways, this race was a dream. The weather was ideal: it was sunny and a comfortable 55 degrees. The streets were lined with spectators holding entertaining signs (like the crew passing out Fireball with a “Whiskey for Winners” poster). Most importantly, the course was both emotional and inspiring. I was very moved during the wear blue Mile, which is a tribute to our nation’s fallen soldiers. American flags and Faces of the Fallen posters lined the course during this stretch. I also loved reaching “the Gauntlet” (17.5 mile mark) because the next part of the course took runners on a tour of all the Smithsonian buildings on the Mall. Overall, the race really showcased many of the monuments, memorials, and notable places in our nation’s capital.


DC is truly one of my favorite cities, and I know I’ve shared in other posts some of my favorite places and experiences within the city limits. My Marine Corps Marathon weekend flew by, and I didn’t even get to all the items on my to-do list. Nevertheless, here are some of the things I checked out:

  1. the Renwick Gallery

The Renwick is part of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, and it is walking distance from the White House. The current exhibition, “No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man,” is on display until January 2019. It showcases vibrant installations from the annual cultural and artistic movement that is Burning Man.


  1. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers at the NMAH

The National Museum of American History created an innovative (and slightly controversial) Kickstarter campaign in 2006, which fully funded an intense research and conservation effort beginning in April 2017. The slippers returned to view in mid-October 2018, and remain an American icon.

  1. Hank’s Oyster Bar in Old Town, Alexandria

Old Town, Alexandria is a charming historic district with cobblestone sidewalks and brick townhouses. Hank’s Oyster Bar is listed in many DC travel books as a highly rated restaurant, and I agree with all the rave reviews. The crab cakes were excellent, and the service was quick. They also have some interestingly pleasant touches like complimentary Goldfish crackers before the meal arrives (instead of bread), and dark chocolate for dessert.

  1. Ice Cream Jubilee

I know I have written about Ice Cream Jubilee before, so consider this another profession of my love for their eclectic flavors. The seasonal Sweet Potato Molasses Candy was sublime, and I paired it with the perennial favorite, Cookies & Cookie Dough.

Vancouver Vibes

SeaWheeze 2018

SeaWheeze is lululemon’s annual half marathon, or, as they refer to it, “yoga run party,” in Vancouver, British Columbia. The race draws 10,000 runners to Vancouver for an entire weekend of festivities, including a showcase store and a sunset festival.


Though I heard rumors about runners camping out in line for the showcase store in previous years, this year, we were able to register for an “in-line time” when we could start waiting on Friday. The showcase store was located inside the Vancouver Convention Center in an enormous room, where the special edition product was organized by size. They had funky patterns, bright colors, and 360 degree reflective pieces.


The weather forecast all weekend predicted rain, and I was a bit apprehensive when I woke up Saturday morning to a downpour. I don’t mind running shorter distances in the rain, but I usually swap my long runs to days with nicer weather. I knew beforehand that I wanted to stop and take some pictures and hug my personal cheer squad at the 18 km mark. So, I checked my nerves, and just committed to enjoying every minute and soaking it all in (literally soaking, given the rain).


The race surpassed all of my high expectations. I was emotional when I first began running after listening to the Canadian national anthem at the starting line; this was my first international race, and hopefully not my last. There were many cheer stations around the course with groups from local run clubs, F45 Training, November Project, and the Vancouver Police Department. There was even a 20th birthday party outside of the lululemon Head Office. One of my favorite stations was the Ride Cycle Club; they lined up on their stationary bikes, cheering on the runners while riding.

The course was absolutely beautiful, even in the rain. Much of the course follows the Stanley Park Seawall, with salty air and views of the Pacific Ocean. I finished in less than two hours, and I received a beautifully vibrant medal, and overnight oats and banana bread for the post-race brunch.


Saturday night was the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival, held in Stanley Park. They had yoga, local vendors, food and drink tents, a Ferris wheel, a festival store, and musical performances by Diplo and Felix Cartal. I especially enjoyed the special edition beer, a collaboration by Poshmark Brewing with lululemon, called “Could You Be More Pacific?”



 Other Vancouver Highlights

1. Rain or Shine Ice Cream

I love visiting homemade ice cream shops when I travel, and two of the best places I have been to date are also on the West Coast. Rain or Shine offered some eclectic flavors like Blackberry Cassis, Cracked Mint, and London Fog. My favorite was the Malted Milk Chocolate, which incorporated dark chocolate-coated honeycomb and malted barley. Rain or Shine is definitely up there with Molly Moon’s in Seattle and Salt & Straw in Portland.

2. Gastown Steam Clock

There are very few functioning steam clocks in the world, and this was the first designed by Raymond Saunders in 1977. A trail of steam pours out the top, and the clock chimes every 15 minutes. It is an interesting contrast to the trendy Gastown neighborhood where it is located, just across the way from a Starbucks.


3. Granville Island Public Market

This indoor market boasted fresh produce, handcrafted wood products and souvenirs, and prepared food. While walking through, we were able to sample fresh bread, pickles, and maple syrup. I was really torn on what to order for lunch, since there were so many tempting options. I ended up with deliciously spicy pad thai from Sen Pad Thai, which I would highly recommend.


4. Cambie Climbing Tree

There is no exact address for the climbing tree online because locals are worried about the inevitable litter and vandalism that comes with an influx of visitors, so I won’t share the exact location either. Part of the adventure was checking through a row of trees for the signature “easy-to-climb” thick branches close to the ground. I probably didn’t get more than two stories up before I decided to just hang out. I don’t have time for another broken bone this year. While we were sitting in the tree, someone came along and climbed to the top to scope it all out, and he shared his panoramic pictures with us.


5. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions. It encompasses a 450’ suspension bridge, a series of wooden paths winding through the evergreens, and a walkway around a granite cliff. The bridge was both terrifying and exhilarating; it swayed as we traversed across with a hundred or so other tourists in bright rain jackets.


6. Jam Café

Early in our trip, we drove past Jam and saw a line of people down the block waiting for this brunch spot. We decided to make it the last big meal we had on Sunday. We ended up waiting somewhere between 1.5-2 hours for a table, but it was absolutely worth it. We all ordered some variation of Eggs Benedict, but I’ll always remember their homemade jam with sourdough toast.



Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, which has a fast point-to-point course, is the largest 10-mile race in the country. I was lucky enough to be chosen in this year’s lottery entry, and I would wholeheartedly recommend adding it onto any running bucket lists (though I may be the only one keeping road race and marathon bucket lists).


What makes the race unique? Runners start in North Philly and run along the same street for the entire race, passing through many diverse neighborhoods en route to the finish in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It also feels like the whole city of Philadelphia comes out to spectate and cheer on the runners. There were many live bands, DJ booths, and plenty of great signs. My favorite: “Run Like You’re Late for the Hogwarts Express!”

Found these Philly-themed nail wraps on Instagram from @sarahmariedesignstudio

Other things to check out in Philly:

1. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

This art gallery has an outdoor space filled with labyrinthine mosaic pathways. The mosaics are comprised of everything from rusted bicycle tires and chipped pottery to secret messages painted on tiles. The result is whimsical, and it’s an excellent spot for some Instagram-worthy pictures. Of note: the Magic Gardens is closed on Tuesdays, so plan ahead.

2. Rocky Steps + Statue

The steps up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, also known as the “Rocky Steps,” are the same ones shown in Rocky’s intense training montage. It’s definitely worth recreating the scene and running up the steps because the view from the top is stunning. The statue is located at the base of the steps, off to the right.

3. Reading Terminal Market

This public market in Center City Philadelphia has been open since the late 1800s, making it one of the country’s oldest food halls. The vendors offer a vast array of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheeses, as well as prepared food. Beiler’s Doughnuts is a must-visit; the doughnuts are so fresh, they are filled and frosted right in front of the customers. Beck’s Cajun Café also deserves some acknowledgment for their outrageous fried mac and cheese balls.

I went with the Vanilla Fruity Pebbles doughnut and the cereal on top was still perfectly crispy.

4. Liberty Bell

Philadelphia is a city steeped in history and home to many National Historic Landmarks. I was able to fill up a full page in my NPS passport with cancellation stamps in a matter of minutes. I did spend more than a few minutes in the Liberty Bell Center, though. The line for the security checkpoint moved very slowly, but it was well worth the wait to see an iconic symbol of American independence and freedom.

Geocaching Highlights

Geocaching has been a large part of my life since I first discovered it in 2012. I spent one long summer day exploring the parks around my house, and I was hooked. Even though my interest dwindled in college, I found my way back into it. Geocaching has helped me explore secluded beaches, discover overlooked bits of history, and traverse remote hiking trails. With over 800 finds to date, it is hard to narrow down the best geocaches, but I wanted to highlight some of my favorites.

1. Bridges & Arches of Central Park: GC17MX1

This multi-cache guides explorers on an extensive adventure through the 800 acres of land in Central Park. It involves visiting 32 stages in the park to count bricks and read serial numbers on lampposts in order to collect information for a final puzzle. Once variables A through FF are plugged in to a colossal equation, the coordinates to a hidden treasure (a commemorative coin) are revealed. This multi-cache could easily take days to complete, but my mom and I spent eight hours on foot doggedly pursuing the final stage. It is one of the best experiences I have had, and we still talk about it five years later.

2. Raiders of the Lost Cache: GC2HN2H

With over 700 favorite points and a “Geocache of the Week” feature in the Geocaching Official Blog, this notable cache was on my bucket list for quite some time. The cache is about a mile from the ranger’s station at Governor Dick Park, and it’s concealed within a large rock outcrop. The difficulty with this cache is finding a way in, and a way out of, the cave where it is hidden. Oh, and battling the rubber snakes, skulls, and spider webs.

3. At the Pier: GCMKWT

Along with its restaurants, shops, and street performers, Pier 39 in San Francisco is well known for its resident sea lions. They haul out on the floating docks, often territorially vying for space. There is actually a live webcam focused on the sea lions and, in order to get credit for the find, geocachers have to capture a screenshot of the feed while they are in view.

My screenshot from the Sea Lion webcam!

4. Geocaching Headquarters (Groundspeak HQ): GCK25B

Geocaching HQ is a visitor center located within the company’s office in Seattle. Guests can find an enormous chest filled with trackable items to discover and trade, a photo booth, and exclusive Geocaching HQ merchandise. More than 18,000 geocachers have visited the headquarters! Also of note is the nearby HQ GeoTour, a series of nine creative geocaches in the surrounding Fremont neighborhood.

samdelle and vdelle602 @ Geocaching HQ


L: Enter the correct phone number and a drawer will pop open with the logbook; R: The “Chairy” Tree with a pulley to bring down the chair/cache.

5. Wheriwantago Seeking Nahn-Sea’s Heart: GC3QWMR

“Wherigo” cache types are different in that they require players to follow a certain path, arrive at predetermined stops along the path, and answers questions about the surrounding area in order to keep heading toward the next stop. This Wherigo cache was my first, and it is still my favorite. It is located within Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL. The Wherigo trail covers seemingly every acre of the park, and follows a fairytale storyline about a prince trying to prove himself and win the heart of his princess.


Walt Disney World Marathon

Though I had been really active before college, the four years I spent logging miles on Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard at sunset cinched my love of running. Bayshore is rumored to be the longest continuous stretch of sidewalk in the country, and it will always be my favorite place to run.

Nothing beats a sunset run on Bayshore

I have wanted to run a marathon for quite some time, but I never actively pursued it. I’ve entered the lottery for the New York City Marathon a few times, but I just become increasingly discouraged and disheartened each time I am not chosen. Last year, however, I decided to register for the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon.

The Walt Disney World Marathon turned out to be a great choice for a first marathon because there was so much course entertainment. There were high school marching bands playing fight songs, many upbeat DJs, and lots of pit stops with Disney characters and props.


I stayed on Disney property at the All Star Sports resort, so they had transportation to the starting line at 3:30 am. The only thing I truly wasn’t anticipating was how cold it would be. I’ve lived in Florida and I know that January can be quite chilly, but it was only about 40 degrees that morning. It warmed up slightly throughout the race, but I wish I had gloves with me.

The race started in the Epcot parking lot, and then we headed over to Magic Kingdom. The sun was just coming up, and Main Street, USA was lined with spectators cheering and holding signs. The course went right through the castle, which was absolutely magical. Next, we headed to Animal Kingdom, the Wide World of Sports, Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, and, finally, Epcot. Running through Epcot’s World Showcase at mile 25 was an absolute highlight. All of the cast members stood outside and waved flags representing their respective countries. It was the closest I’ve come to feeling like an Olympic athlete.

My knees were a little sore, but I was surprised at how much energy I still had after. After a quick stop at the resort to shower and ice my knees, I headed back to Epcot to eat and drink my way through the countries.

I still have my heart set on the NYC marathon, and I know it’ll happen for me someday. In the meantime, I’ll just keep adding other marathons onto my bucket list.

The District: Part 2

This is a continuation of my last post, devoted to some of the places/experiences I love most in DC.

1. Newseum

This museum has a ticket price of $24.95 for adults, but it’s certainly worth the admission. There are many intriguing exhibits revolving around the central themes of communication, free expression, and the press. Interestingly, the Newseum houses the largest display of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. There’s also an outdoor terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, which has an excellent view of the Capitol.

2.  Smithsonian Institution Museums

What could possibly be better than premier museums with no admission fees? The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, which features eleven museums located on the National Mall, and six others in the Washington metropolitan area. I feel so lucky to have spent so much time in the National Museum of Natural History exploring the collections on behind-the-scenes tours, and it will always have a very special place in my heart. I also really love the National Museum of American History and the National Postal Museum. But really, the Smithsonian has unparalleled treasures on display: Apolo Ono’s speed skates, portraits of America’s presidents, the Hope Diamond, and the Spirit of St. Louis, which was flown by Charles Lindberg across the Atlantic Ocean.

Now that I’m not visiting the museums on a regular basis, I like to listen to Sidedoor, the Smithsonian’s podcast. Listeners can vicariously explore content from the collections and delve into the new exhibits.


National Zoo

The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution, so it also has free admission. I have mixed feelings about animals in captivity, but I frequent zoos with AZA accreditation because I think they help foster a love and respect for animals, especially in the younger guests. The National Zoo is one of only four zoos in the US to house giant pandas. The zoo’s website has a Giant Panda Cam, too!

Elephants will always be my favorite…

3. Jazz in the Garden

Every Friday evening in the summer, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden hosts a free jazz concert. It’s definitely a fun way to end the workweek, and it was a quick walk from the NMNH. They sell refreshments, and they have arguably the best sangria in the world.

4. Taylor Gourmet

I’m a big fan of fast casual dining, and I love this local chain restaurant. Taylor Gourmet has both a selection of unchanging classic menu options and special seasonal offerings. They are definitely known for their hoagies, and my go-to over the summer was the chicken salad hoagie.

Don’t have a photo of a hoagie (probably because I devoured it too quickly), but this is the summer carrot salad

5. Dacha Beer Garden

I think this outdoor beer garden is open all year, but it’s probably better in the warmer weather. It has wooden picnic tables, misting fans to beat the heat, and it allows dogs. They have an extensive beer menu, and I was thrilled to find out that they serve Schöfferhofer Grapefruit, which was a beer I fell in love with at Epcot.

6. Cava

Another fast casual (is anyone sensing a theme?) restaurant I love is Cava, which boasts healthy Mediterranean food. I appreciate the totally customizable menu. The first step is picking a base, like a salad or a grain bowl. Then, there are various spreads and toppings to add: roasted red pepper hummus, harissa, tzatziki, pita crisps, crumbled feta, felafel, cabbage slaw, etc.

The District

I spent last summer in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History as the Media & Outreach Leader in the museum’s Academic Resource Center (ARC). I worked as part of a team that facilitated experiences for the summer research interns such as behind-the-scenes tours of the collections, orientations, social events, and lunch discussions. As the Media & Outreach Leader, my primary responsibilities were coordinating the “Intern of the Day” spotlight series and photographing events to create engaging material for social media. Overall, my position allowed me to blend my interests in science, photography, and writing, and it was truly inspiring to be immersed in an environment filled with equally passionate individuals.

Though I did spend a fair amount of time in the NMNH, I was able to explore a lot of the city. Here are some of my summer highlights:

1. Theodore Roosevelt Island

This island is a fitting memorial to our nation’s 26th president, who was undeniably a conservationist and an outdoorsman. I went with two friends on a Saturday morning for a National Park Service ranger-led hike, and we were able to spend several miles traversing the trails, identifying plants, and learning facts about TR. While accessible by car, it’s also an easy 10-15 minute walk from the Rosslyn metro station.


2.  Twilight Monument Tour: Boating in DC

If there’s a better way to scope out some of DC’s iconic monuments, I don’t know it. I booked this kayaking tour through Boating in DC and spent the golden hour paddling the Potomac. We saw the Watergate, the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument, just to name a few things.

Link here:


3. Congressional Cemetery

Interestingly, being a member of Congress is not a prerequisite for burial in this historic (and active) cemetery. It has a lengthy list of famous interments, including J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa. Also of note: the cemetery has a private dog-walking program called the K9 Corps. Memberships begin at $235 and support the cemetery’s ongoing work.


4. United States Botanic Garden

I love a good botanical garden like I love a good science museum. This one is located near the Capitol building, and it’s free and open 365 days/year. There are rooms dedicated to Mediterranean plants, orchids, cacti and succulents, and rain forest fauna.

5. National Building Museum

This museum isn’t part of the Smithsonian Institution, so it does have small entrance fee, but it is well worth it. The architecture museum is appropriately housed in a gorgeous building, and features a number of intriguing exhibits. I really enjoyed the ongoing House & Home exhibit, which showcases a number of consumer artifacts from past centuries.

6. District Taco

It would probably be embarrassing to figure out just how many times I went to District Taco, but I guess that speaks to how much I love it. District Taco is a chain with many locations in and around Washington, DC, and it is fast casual dining. Besides having delicious food, they also have an awesome salsa bar.

7. Ice Cream Jubilee

This shop is definitely up there with spots like Molly Moon’s in Seattle and Salt & Straw in Oregon. Ice Cream Jubilee has been voted best ice cream in DC for the past three years. They have fantastic, unique flavors like Honey Lemon Lavender, Thai Iced Tea, and Passion Fruit Guava sorbet. It’s also located right by the beautiful Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront.

Basil Goat Cheese on the bottom and Honey Lemon Lavender on top!


I fell in love with Dale Chihuly’s artwork in Seattle, when I escaped the rain for several hours and explored Chihuly Garden and Glass. The vibrant glasswork was gorgeous, and my photos couldn’t even do it justice. When I read about the new Chihuly exhibition at the NYBG, I knew I had to visit it before leaving New York.

The juxtaposition of the brilliantly colored whimsical glass shapes and the greenery in the gardens was amazing, particularly in the works Sapphire Star and Macchias. I caught the show in the beginning of May, so I was also treated to NYBG’s blooming azaleas. CHIHULY is on display until the end of October, and I would imagine it will look great in every season.

While in the New York City area, I also decided to try two of the dessert places that are now all the rage on social media: Taiyaki NYC and DÖ. Taiyaki NYC is a Japanese ice cream shop known for unusual soft-serve in fish-shaped waffle cones. They have premade menu choices, but they also offer customers the chance to customize with a selection of ice cream, filling, drizzle, and toppings. Though a little pricy at $7 a creation, I enjoyed the flavors so much, I would definitely go back.


I was less impressed with DÖ, but that is probably because I’m not a true cookie dough fan. The shop is very innovative, as it serves safe-to-eat uncooked dough in a variety of flavors. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, I encountered a 30-minute line, but it was a polite crowd and the employees passed out menus so customers could contemplate the choices before reaching the inside of the store.


I started my trip to Texas in Austin, which was quirky and fun. I explored record stores, longhorn-inspired street art, old-fashioned candy stores, and an outdoor graffiti gallery. Even though I flew in and out of Austin, I spent most of my time in San Antonio.

HOPE Outdoor Gallery

Unbeknownst to me when I made my travel plans, my trip to San Antonio overlapped with the annual citywide party, Fiesta. There were colorful flag decorations, mariachi bands on the Riverwalk, and, best of all, the Battle of Flowers Parade. All of the multicolored floats shimmered in the bright sunlight and the women on the floats lifted up their long dresses to show off cowboy boots.

The Riverwalk was a lively waterfront district one story below the city’s street level. Restaurants lined the river, and river cruises whisked guests along the water. My favorite spot in the Riverwalk was Casa Rio, the original restaurant, open since 1946. I had absolutely delicious tacos and a prickly pear margarita. Given that I ate tacos for just about every meal in San Antonio, I can definitively say Casa Rio’s tacos were the best.

Prickly Pear Margarita

Toilet Seat Museum

When I began planning the geocaches I wanted to look for in Texas, I read about Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Museum, arguably the strangest roadside attraction near San Antonio. Barney Smith is a 96-year-old retired master plumber and artist who crafts themed toilet seats. He has over 1300 seats, all numbered, ranging from a series of license plate seats to seats inspired by the Boy Scouts, sea shells, pop culture, and the Olympics. He even has a series to commemorate his birthdays and a series devoted to his late wife in honor of their anniversaries.


Barney is quite a character and he has a very sharp mind; he knows exactly where all the toilet seats are located in his museum (aka garage). He asks visitors to sign the toilet seats that apply to them. I signed the New York seat as well as the Geocaching seat. He even popped in a VCR tape to show me footage from his time as a guest on various talk shows. All in all, the visit to the Toilet Seat Museum was one of my favorite traveling experiences.


The House, Boozy Ice Cream and Brews

I saw this innovative shop on online, included in a list of best ice cream places in the US. They offer alcohol-infused flavors, as well as “kid-friendly” regular ice cream that they can pair with shots of alcohol. The flavors change regularly, but when I visited they had selections like Bourbon Vanilla, Thin Mint, and French Toast. I went with Salted Caramel with a half shot of Jim Beam Honey, and it was outstanding. The only downside is that they don’t offer samples, so when I ordered I just had to take a leap of faith.


The idea for traveling to the USVI originated with an online promotion from their tourism board. 2017 marks the centennial anniversary of “Transfer Day,” when Denmark sold the islands to the United States. Consequently, the tourism board is offering a $300 voucher, to be used toward ecotours, attractions, shopping, or taxis, to guests who stay three or more nights in the USVI during the centennial.

Stand-up paddle boarding at Magens Bay, which is regularly ranked as one of the world’s best beaches

I was able to use my voucher toward a night kayaking excursion at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef. The kayaks had glass bottoms and LED lights so I could see right into the water beneath me and watch the tarpon swim past. The guides followed the group on stand-up paddleboards and shared a bit of USVI history and culture with us, as well as pointed out the species we were seeing. I didn’t have my expectations set too high, but I was amazed when we saw sea urchin, stingrays, flying fish, and even sea turtles.

Sunset at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef

While wandering around Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas looking for breakfast, I stumbled upon Pasta Go Go. It was tucked away down an alley in the Royal Dane Mall, but it turned out to be a great find. It had a very European feel, a nice outdoor patio, quick service, and reasonable prices. I had a breakfast sandwich with sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, and pesto on grilled ciabatta that was so delicious, I had the same thing the following morning too.

Breakfast sandwich from Pasta Go Go

Even though I stayed on St. Thomas, I took the ferry one day over to St. John, which was relatively inexpensive at around $20 round trip. 75% of St. John is designated parkland for the Virgin Islands National Park, so I was able to stamp my NPS passport at the visitor’s center, and then hike the Lind Point and Caneel Hill Spur Trail. I ended up at Trunk Bay after hailing an open-air taxi on the side of the road, but the famous underwater snorkel trail there was closed because of a strong current advisory. I was disappointed, but now I have a reason to return to St. John.

Self-professed National Parks fanatic

Before taking the ferry back to St. Thomas, I had dinner at The Longboard, an airy restaurant with lots of surfing-inspired décor. The food was fantastic; I had a sushi wrap that was both aesthetically pleasing and delectable. I also really enjoyed the fact that their bathroom was wallpapered in surfing magazines.