I live in Upstate New York. New Jersey is right there. And yet I had not been to its State Capitol building. Until February when a first time trip to Atlantic City for a Brandi Carlile concert included a return trip by way of Trenton. My family did drive through Trenton on our way to visit my dad’s family in Virginia Beach when I was a tween. I remember my dad pointing out the “Trenton Makes the World Takes” bridge, which I was familiar with from watching the film Stealing Home at way too young an age. Tangent: This movie was the reason I always thought when you added rum to coke that it would taste smooth, less carbonated and like cherry coke – a lie and I hate rum and coke. Also, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’s Aunt Zelda is topless in a scene. Image when years later I watched an episode of that wholesome goodness and then asked myself why that one lady looked familiar to me…
Back to this trip.
Since I started dating my partner three years ago, food has become a prime focus of our trips. I cannot complain about this direction/attention shift in destination research. Soon after we arrived in town and did a drive-by tour of the main strip, my partner “Yelp-ed” us an awesome place to eat. The Iron Room was tiny, swanky, and served delicious and unique tapas. Our favorite was the bacon. We also enjoyed their Udon Mac & Cheese, Deviled Eggs, Croquettes and Hangar steak. We were very sated for our concert.
The next day we went to see the boardwalk. We didn’t last long. It was February after all.
After warming up in the car, we headed for Trenton. It would be about lunchtime when we arrived. After almost being blown off my feet, capturing the Capitol building from a couple angles and being reminded a bit of Albany, NY by the historic buildings lining the road around the Capitol, we headed north to Rozmaryn Restaurant for some simple, fantastic Polish food.
We both ordered the Polish Plate comprised of potato pancakes, pierogies and kielbasa, and the White Borscht with kielbasa, hard-boiled egg and potatoes. Another nondescript and unassuming restaurant creating remarkable food and providing excellent service.
Check out these photos and those of other US Capitols from my quest to see them all.
…way back in 2013. I made this trip during my three-year void of blogging. I did upload the images getting set to post then but my heart wasn’t in it. But now that I’ve renewed my quest to see all the state capitol buildings, I am ready to share about this one and this trip.
I had gone to visit a good friend, guest blogger Nicole, who lives in the greater Philadelphia area,for a long weekend. The trip was much needed and, of course, it was great to reconnect with my friend. I had been to Philly a couple of times with my family, but I was looking forward to seeing it with my friend’s then boyfriend, now husband Jay, a Philly boy, born and breed.
The trip south had a few delays, one being that President Obama was having press conferences/meet ups along the interstate. I did catch a glimpse of him, or someone who looked like him, standing at the podium at a stop just off an exit ramp. Having seen that made the waiting more bearable.
But once I arrived, the trip quickly turned into a Philly Foodie trip much to my delight. It started with having a huge plate of fries covered in both “Old Bay and garlic” flavor and cheese whiz. The next day was Benjamin Franklin day. While touristing (that’s now a word) downtown, we stopped at The Franklin Fountain to cool off with some ice cream (I recommend the Lightening Rod sundae). Then we headed towards Independence Hall and made our way to Square Burger in Franklin Square. That night I was introduced to water ice. The morning of my departure I learned about scrapple and pork roll, both of which I tried. Pork roll, okay; scrapple, well I’ve tried it.
After breakfast I hit the road. My first detour was Ikea. My second was Harrisburg to see the Capitol. It was a massive complex. The day was sweltering and I really wanted to go in the fountain. This was another of the few state capitol buildings so far that have deserved a shot of the back side as well.
As the winter seems to be never ending here in the Northeast, I yearn to be in a warmer location. My mind decided to take a trip out West in an attempt to remember that the sun will shine, the snow will melt, and the temperatures will rise. The first thought that came to mind was what happened on our family vacation to Las Vegas and Arizona a few years ago as we were leaving Las Vegas and heading to Arizona via the Hoover Dam.
My dad was driving. I was in the front seat. My sister, mom, and brother-in-law were in the backseats of our conversion van. As we approached Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, the increase in traffic reflected the tourist interest in the area. We had plenty of time to debate whether or not we were going to get out and see the dam and/or take a tour. We came to a consensus of just driving across the dam. We were moving slow enough that it wouldn’t be a fly by.
As we drew closer, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to look down the height of the dam. The traffic was crawling. I thought I would have enough time to hop out, look down the dam, snap a photo, take in the moment, and hop back into the van.
I jumped out of the van, snapped my photos, briefly took in the moment, and turned to find the van further along the dam than I realized. The traffic had picked up speed. I felt a flash of panic. There wasn’t anywhere for them to pull over and let me get in. I’d have to jump in on the move – if I caught up with them.
I began to run along the Hoover Dam. With flip-flops on my feet and In-N-Out Burger filling my stomach, I didn’t think I would make it. I tried to quickly dodge around people, but they were not concerned with my situation and did not clear a direct path. They just stared at this girl running along the dam. Then I heard my sister yell out of the side door, which she had opened for me to hop in should I not make it up to the front seat, “Run, Lindsay, run!”
This increased my sense of panic. Again my sister yelled, “Run, Lindsay, run!” If I had a second gear to my running (in flip-flops), I shifted into it. They were about three-quarters of the way across the dam when I caught up to them and hopped into my seat in the front of the van. My feet were burning and I was out of breath.
Not 30 seconds later we were able to pull the van over (for free) at an overlook point on the Arizona side. We all got out of the car and as I began yelling at my sister for her “encouragement” on the dam, we both quickly started laughing at the ridiculousness of what had occurred. We didn’t stay long at the pull-off, but “the time I ran across the Hoover Dam” will be remembered in my family for a long time.
This might be hard for some of you to read but I’ve only seen the film The Shawshank Redemption once all the way through. I wasn’t planning on seeing it but as a film lover, I feel I must see those films deemed ‘great.’ But while I’ve only seen the movie once, I’ve ridden past the Mansfield Reformatory in Ohio countless times dating back to before the film was even made while on our way to the town where many of my extended family live.
The ride from my home in New York to Central Ohio felt like an eternity to me as kid but once we got on to Route 30 from Interstate 71 and the road dipped down into a valley, there on my right set back up on a slight incline from the road would be the Mansfield Reformatory looking castle-esque compared to the surrounding factories. Once I saw the Reformatory I knew we were almost to my Aunt’s.
As I got older I learned that parts of The Shawshank Redemptionwere filmed there. Right here in small town Ohio. Huh. Who knew? On a trip this past summer, my family and I were looking to do something we hadn’t done in our many years of visiting. I suggested touring the Reformatory. On the self-guided tour, I learned that not only were parts of Shawshank filmed on site but, among others, so were parts of Air Force One, and Tango and Cash. Also, a Lil’ Wayne video was filmed throughout the building and grounds.
The Reformatory dates back to 1896 and was closed in 1990. Directly behind the facility is the Richland Correctional Institution. Seeing the men in their yard little more than a stone’s throw away from the Reformatory added a sense of perspective to the tour. This wasn’t just a movie set.
The tour starts with the administration building, the Warden’s apartment, and the mention of spirits that have been known to haunt the facility. To layer on the creepy factor they have a room with no windows in which they have placed a chair in the center just to see if it moves. Fortunately, perhaps, this room is right before you enter the Catholic Chapel.
There are two cell blocks – East and West. The East is the world’s tallest free-standing steel cell block i.e. the cells are not attached to the walls of the building but are in the center and look out toward the walls. After you pass through the chapel and step into the East Cell Block your stomach drops as you realize you are standing on a narrow, old grated catwalk suspended six floors above the ground and the only way to go is forward across it.
Did I mention the place was creepy? Throughout the tour I kept waiting to catch something move in the corner of my eye. But while in the dark and dank solitary confinement area, I chose to walk quickly to ensure I wasn’t successful.
Peeling paint was everywhere: the walls, the floors, the cells, the bars. Upon leaving the tour we were reminded to wash our hands and to not touch the bottoms of our shoes for risk of the lead in the paint getting into our systems.
What was particularly cool about this trip was that the Mansfield Reformatory was something that we passed by a million times but never took the time to check out. What other places do I pass by all the time and never stop? Now I try and keep me eyes open to see what I’m missing right in my own backyard.
My name is Lindsay and I am an overthinker. For instance right now, and probably for days after this is posted, I’ll wonder, despite my Internet research whether it is overthink, over-think or over think, or if it changes depending upon the context. I’ll also be thinking about how all of you will read it and if you’ll agree with my choice or not. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of questions. There are plenty more ponderings where that came from but I’ll spare you. But this is something I know, my family knows, and my friends know about me. I encounter a situation and I analyze to my heart’s content. And usually that’s what I am with my overthinking – content.
Of course this contentment doesn’t encompass my reactions to the results of my overanalyzations. And that’s the part that others get to hear about so they think of my overthinking as a negative. I have a hard time accepting that viewpoint. I think it is a good trait to have, looking at a situation from all angles. And I’ll concede that sometimes there is mild paralysis when I just keep going back and forth about something trying to figure out which way I’m going to ultimately go. I think of them as minor blips, nothing to worry about.
After reading the AP interview with actor/author Andrew McCarthy in which McCarthy states:
“You go, you leave everything you know that you’ve safely constructed to keep yourself from having any anxiety and you go to a beach and you lay there and all you have is your mind. How can you not think that’s gonna be a stressful experience? I always think travel is not about escape at all, it’s about confronting yourself,”
I began thinking, and while I thought about the good that can come of this confrontation of thyself, I also thought about the not so good. The reason I say not so good instead of bad is because I like to follow the old G.I. Joe saying that knowing is half the battle. When I learn something new about myself, regardless of whether or not I like it, just knowing it is the first step in either changing or embracing it.
The first not so good thought that popped into my head was my trip to Austin, Texas a year ago August. On this trip I realized how my overthinking can be magnified or misplaced due to the lack of daily life distractions and how my overanalyzing can act as an outlet for deeper issues. Unfortunately, my time in Austin was affected by this internal battle royale.
The trip happened thanks to the traveling trifecta: I had the time, I had the money, and I had a free place to stay. I had always heard that Austin is the Madison (Wisconsin) of the South. I had just moved home from Madison and thought I’d check out its southern counterpart to judge for myself. The free room and board was courtesy of a friend’s brother. I love to plan trips so before heading south I made a list of what I wanted to see, where I wanted to go, and what events I wanted to check out. Plus, Austin is the Capitol so there would be a Capitol building (!) to check out.
The first couple of days went along as anticipated. We checked a lot off my list, I sweated like I never had before, and I experienced pure joy at the Capitol building. Then came the days for me to go it alone while my friend’s brother had to work. The wandering around and checking things out by myself didn’t bother me. I could take as long or as short a time as I wanted anywhere I wanted. What got my brain moving in high gear was the prospect of using the bus system.
While in the Netherlands I preferred to avoid the bus mostly due to the language barrier and other stressors that accompany getting to know a new public transport system. Then in London I loved the using the bus. I liked it more than the Tube. Of course the ease of use with the Oyster card was much greater than with the strippenkaart. Also, in London words don’t have to be spoken and if they were, only an accent stood in your way.
Despite gathering all the information I needed about the using the bus in Austin (how much it cost, where to pick up the bus, and what number buses service my stops), I still had a stomach full of nerves that first day I needed to catch a ride. I kept trying to shut my overthinking brain off by remembering how I loved the bus in London, trying to replace my bad feelings (based on nothing) with good feelings.
I got on the bus, paid my money, and did something wrong. I only wanted a one-way ticket but through my confusion and the bus drivers I bought a day pass. As I made my way to my seat I said to myself, “See. There. Your fear happened. And it wasn’t that bad. What were you so worried about?” Sure, using the bus is a common concern amongst some travelers. But my overthinking wouldn’t let the situation pass without a thorough dissection. One of my worst case scenarios happened, which I chastised myself for worrying about, and which wasn’t bad at all (i.e. there was no Dennis Hopper waiting to blow up the bus if we dropped below 50 mph). But then I began thinking some more and began a downward spiral that affected the rest of my trip.
I first began thinking about how I was disappointed that I had issues with the bus like I had in the Netherlands, which conjured up my issues from my time there (culture-shock, 9/11). I then started examining whether or not I had progressed in handling mishaps or things that don’t go according to plan (regardless of whether or not that plan is realistic). All of this led me to my real issue – perfectionism. I now couldn’t deny this being the root of all things bus.
My perfectionism was something I thought I had (successfully) dealt with through the use of many prescribed methods easily available via the Internet, self-help books, life coaches, and friends. I had adopted/attempted re-framing techniques, told myself not to live by ‘shoulds,’ and to remember that it’s okay to ask for help because I couldn’t possibly know everything about everything. Apparently, all those efforts were made in vain as all it took was one bus ride to show me the woman behind the curtain. And from that point on, all I wanted to do was go home.
But like G.I. Joe said – knowing was half the battle. I tried to figure out what to do or think differently that might help me deal my perfectionism. I lapsed into a contented state of detached overthinking. A year later and I’m still thinking about it. Routine and daily life hide the rawest bits. But thanks to the self confrontation while traveling in Austin, my perfectionism won’t stop me from riding the bus again.
In a recent Associated Press article actor-turned-writer Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Weekend at Bernie’s, and, my personal favorite, Mannequin) discusses his new travel memoir and his views on travel. In the last few lines of the interview McCarthy states:
You go, you leave everything you know that you’ve safely constructed to keep yourself from having any anxiety and you go to a beach and you lay there and all you have is your mind. How can you not think that’s gonna be a stressful experience? I always think travel is not about escape at all, it’s about confronting yourself.
I totally agree. He doesn’t get the opportunity to expand upon this but I understand McCarthy’s “stressful experience” to be of the ‘all you’re left with is yourself and who wants to be alone with their own thoughts?’ variety. This definition has a bad connotation. Goodness knows I’ve had plenty of those moments while traveling. And of course through serious, forced self-examination in the end those confrontations can be positive experiences. But what about the confrontations that are positive from the get-go?
What about the times when you find yourself somewhere that frees your mind up to really examine and look at an issue or question that you might have been too busy or bogged down by everyday details to devote the time to reaching a resolution or solution? I decided to join two of my friends on a last minute road trip from Madison, Wisconsin to Empire, Michigan. The three of us left in the late afternoon and didn’t arrive until the wee hours of the morning to the family house of another friend.
The issue weighing on my mind was what to do next with my life. Did I want to go to grad school? Did I want to travel? Did I want to stay in Wisconsin, go home to New York, or go somewhere else? Did I want to work? I didn’t have high hopes of being any closer to a solution by the end of the trip. But, we were gone for less than 48 hours and the time spent walking along Lake Michigan, climbing up and then running down the huge sand dunes, and feeling carefree for the first time in a long time turned out to be just what I needed.
When I returned to Madison and my regularly scheduled programming of daily life, two things had changed. I had an answer, a doubtless, resolute answer, and a plan started. I was going to move home to New York, and work for a year while applying to grad school in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Being in a new setting allowed me to truly feel removed from the pressures and stresses of my life. The simplicity of my surroundings aided my self-examination. I was able on this trip to focus on the one topic without having many distractions to hide behind. It is this experience that I often refer back to, and try to replicate, when I’m in need of making some big decisions.
Also, what about the confrontations that can come in the form of finding out you are stronger or braver than you thought you were? That’s the realization I could no longer deny as I sat on the ground one evening in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. As I state in my about page, “This Lady,” this was the trip where I allowed myself to recognize how all of my travels – solo, in groups, with family – were me fighting through all my personal doubts, issues, and BS to do what I wanted to do, go where I wanted to go. I said it best on that page:
As I was taking in my surroundings […] I began to think about my travels over the years and how this was the first trip I had taken on my own. How had I, that shy, dependent, and scared girl, gotten to where I was? I was dumbfounded. Thinking back I saw no giant leaps, no major personality changes, just a gradual building of sense of self and confidence to do what I needed to do for me that had brought me to that point.
Siena was more of a struggle than my decision-making in Empire. I was forced to look at myself through a different lens, one that didn’t belong to me, but one that I would make mine over the course of an evening. I had nowhere to be but where I was. Taking the moment to really look around me and not just see, but observe where I was and with whom I had interacted is what prompted the introspection.
As McCarthy stated, I was away from my daily safety net and left with nothing but my own mind, but these self confrontations I had in Michigan and Italy were positive. And though travel has an element of escape, it just isn’t always from what you think.
Since taking the request from my friend to post my collection of US Capitols I have renewed my desire to travel the United States and visit more buildings. I asked for a trip for my birthday (trips on birthday and Christmas lists fall among the usuals in my family: socks, iTunes gift card, a trip) to Maine and/or Rhode Island in order to complete New England. I turned a potential trip to visit my grandfather in Virginia into a three Capitol tour.
The only trip to come to fruition thus far, however, was an unplanned tagalong with my parents to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the annual Art Fair and the University of Michigan Alumni Art Show to which my mother submitted a piece. Lansing is just an hour away so naturally I requested the detour.
It was Sunday so the building was closed. The same went for much of downtown Lansing. The streets were empty which proved helpful in picture taking, but it didn’t lend much excitement to the square. One block off the square, however, life did seem to exist on a two block stretch of road. But that was it.
As for the Capitol building itself, I liked it. Again, I’m a sucker for a dome top. My poor parents – this was their second time to Lansing. My mother had taken a picture of the building for me on their first trip. But as I’ve stated, that doesn’t count towards my quest. In person the building didn’t look like her picture. Seeing it in its wider setting definitely made a difference and added an element of surprise for me.
I don’t know if I’ll get to any other Capitols this summer. New England may go incomplete for now. And I don’t know that the trip south is going to happen either. So I am very happy I tagged along with my parents and was able to make some progress on my collection of Capitol Travels.
Lost photo of Capitol found! I was looking through some photo albums over the weekend and came across the lost Capitol of St. Paul, Minnesota. A former roommate and I headed up to the Twin Cities for some Spring Break fun one year, fully aware of our non-traditional, opposite-of-the-warmth direction. When I was putting all the photos together the other week I thought it odd that I had not taken a photo of a Capitol while in its town. But then bam! There it was. And now it is here for you.
When you grow up with a Capitol building like the picture below, though interesting in architecture, it leaves you wanting more. It just never screamed, “I’m a State Capitol! Come look at me!”
It wasn’t until I saw the Wisconsin State Capitol on a college tour of the Midwest that my life was changed forever. This gorgeous building couldn’t deny its State Capitol-dom if it tried. This is what I always thought State Capitols should look like – dome-topped.
After witnessing the great difference in styles between my home state of New York’s Capitol and my newly adopted state of Wisconsin’s Capitol, I became curious to know just how different each State’s Capitol buildings are. I started snapping photos of Capitol buildings all across the country. Some people want to travel to America’s different ballparks; I want to see each Capitol building.
Under my Postcards “tab” I have added a page with my ‘Capitol Travels.’ There you can take a look at what buildings I have made it to and what ones I have yet to visit. I’ll keep you posted when I hit my next Capitol building.