Week 6 Blog Post
This past week was the most eventful one yet! As it was Independence Day weekend, some of the interns and I (Erika, Miranda, Paola, Leonardo, and myself) felt it fitting to take a trip to Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation!
Our trip began on Friday. We rented a car and drove to Philly, taking our only stop at Great Falls Park in Virginia. It was such a beautiful place that I didn’t know about before planning the trip. It was a phenomenal way to begin our weekend trip. We hiked for what felt like miles over cliffs covered in jagged rocks to capture as many great photos as we could.
After our stop at the falls, we proceeded to travel through hours of traffic until we made it to our motel right outside Philadelphia. By then it was midnight and we hadn’t had dinner. Luckily, we were on the same block as two 24/7 diners! We chose Philly Diner over the chain establishment as we wanted an authentic experience we couldn’t have anywhere else. They had a robust menu, but the choice of what to eat was easy to make. Breakfast for dinner, there is no other way to go.
The next morning, we had an early start to the day and grabbed a quick breakfast at the local chain of corner store/gas station combo, Wawa. I had heard great things and was not disappointed. For a very competitive price, I was delivered an amazing, memorable meal to start my day: French toast and bacon. I didn’t have the patience for a pristine shot, but while chewing, I found the self-control to take a picture.
Our first attraction on our Philadelphia trip was the Liberty Bell. To be honest, it was a tad underwhelming, but there were other destinations we had planned. Paola had a comprehensive list of must-see places she acquired from a friend, so our adventure was bound to impress. We ended up in what I could only describe as a hammock park. A truly bewildering sight, but a damn-good place to rest mid-trip. We stopped there for a few minutes and rested in the hammocks, until it began to rain. We took shelter at the Independence Seaport Museum until it died down.
We then took a trip to Elfreth’s Alley, a quaint, historic alley that resembles old European architecture. Afterwards we rented bikes at one of the many rental stations in Philly, we rode towards the center of town to visit the popular Love Park. To our dismay, the park was under construction and closed off to the public. We then proceeded to bike back to the car, pedaling sadly and heart-broken.
After reuniting with the car, we drove Miranda to one of her family members’ house to drop her off. She wanted to visit the family that she had in Philly for the day and we parted ways. But our next stop on our trip was to the world-famous Geno’s Steaks. Although the line was long, the wait was short because they practically only had one thing on the menu; wiz (cheesesteak). That, paired with their cheese fries made for a truly memorable lunch in downtown Philadelphia.
After lunch, we made our way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made especially famous by the Rocky movies. Erika and I made the infamous Rocky run up the steps that
was capped off by both of us raising our arms over our heads in victory. And from the top of the steps in front of the museum, I was able to capture a shot of the Philadelphia skyline.
As we made our way down the steps and discussed what may be next on our adventure, a storm abruptly interrupted us. The wind was so strong and so sudden that foldable tables and chairs were sent flying across the street. The downpour was so heavy, and we were so unprepared that we had to sprint back to the car, which was only a block away, but that didn’t prevent us from getting absolutely soaked. Never before had I been so profoundly rained-on. Although it completely halted our plans for that afternoon, it was very exhilarating and memorable.
For dinner that evening we truly went all-out. I cannot even begin to explain how decadent our meal was. I can only really capture its glory in an image. That’s all I can say. We then went down the road to a local place, Richman’s Ice Cream, which was desert heaven. They had anything involving ice cream. I, being too full from dinner simply went with some soft serve.
We began the next day by hitting the road. Our next destination was Baltimore, but before that, we needed to get some breakfast. We went with something quick and cheap, McDonald’s. Erika had been craving pancakes for the entirety of the trip. Why she didn’t get any at the
diner or Wawa the days before eluded me, but I ended up sharing my hotcakes with her.
We arrived at the National Aquarium in Baltimore soon after. We spent a few hours there and I was blown away at the array of specimens they had. And although I took many pictures of the many aquatic animals, I was especially interested in the jellyfish. They are so tranquil and majestic in a way that can’t be captured in a picture, but I sure did try. The view from the skybridge in the aquarium was also wonderful.
Because we were in Baltimore, Paola wanted to visit her dream school, Johns Hopkins University. We spent about an hour walking through the main campus and looking up the history and the size of the university. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Afterwards, we ate a late lunch at Grano Pasta Bar, which apparently Guy Fiery had visited at one point. I, being a fan of Flavortown, needed to try their meatballs along with their pesto sauce. It was delicious and filling in a way that only pasta can be.
The pasta bar was our last stop on our trip. We got back to DC that afternoon and played cards for the remainder of the night. It was an amazing and unforgettable weekend with friends. But that was only the beginning of this week!
Monday was more of a half day considering that some of the systems were down at NSF as the IT department was in the middle of a move. That in addition to the fact that the majority of NSF staff, including my mentors, were not in attendance made for a short work day.
Tuesday started off with delicious breakfast at &pizza with Daniel. The Maverick, which is essentially an all-meat pizza topped off with pesto, is always my pizza of choice, and it never disappoints.
In the evening, I attended a party with the rest of the QEM interns hosted at Dr. Toldson’s beautiful house. He had an amazing spread of food and the greatest view of DC you can get. It made the holiday even better because we could view all the fireworks along the horizon in the entire DC area. The view was also made better with Justin right next to me.
Wednesday was my first full work day at NSF and was just like any other. I tried to complete a component to my project because I knew that on Thursday I would have my midterm evaluation.
Speaking of the evaluation, it went very well. It was much shorter than I had expected and I only needed to talk about my project briefly. I guess I’ll have to reserve a long presentation for the end of the internship.
That evening, I had the pleasure of witnessing a culinary disaster. A chicken pot pie collapse and explosion. Justin had slaved over his premade, frozen pot pie and waited half an hour for it to bake in the oven, bathing in its delectable aroma. In his excitement, while pulling out the impeccable finished product from the oven, this happened.
This past week was downright amazing, and this upcoming weekend we will be taking a trip to New York, which will be another great way to start the blog.
Sergio A. Melendez