Travel

Falling for Fallingwater

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IMG_1891This latest travel post comes to you from the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania! Filled with state parks featuring rafting, hiking, and camping, Western Pennsylvania is the perfect spot for outdoor adventures! And if camping isn’t really your thing, there are tons of small towns scattered throughout the highlands for those who enjoy the classic B&B or relaxing the day away in a charming cafe. No matter what your itinerary is though, I highly recommend making Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater a stop on your trip!

First things first, lets point out the most interesting if not the most identifying feature of Fallingwater: It is a house built over a waterfall. A WATERFALL! The house is truly part of the landscape. Located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, this extraordinary house was designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1936 and 1939. The house was designed for the Kaufmann family, owners of the Kaufmann Department Store in Pittsburgh.

IMG_1892Before visitng Fallingwater, I knew very little about the house, the architect who designed it, nor the family that occupied it. Why was the house built, let alone built over the waterfall? Well, I found out that the Kaufmann’s usually vacationed in the area and that their son had an interest in Wright’s ideas right around the time the family was looking to build a vacation home. Like the Kaufmann’s, Frank Lloyd Wright loved nature so they asked him to design their new home. Wright designed the house using a series of cantilevers so that the house could rest on top of a waterfall. While the Kaufmann’s initially thought that their house would have a view of the waterfall from downstream, Wright instead designed the house so that it would be one with the waterfall and vice versa.

Fallingwater was occupied by the Kaufmann family until 1963 when Edgar Kaufmann Jr. entrusted it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Today, the house is enjoyed by many visitors each day and still remains as breathtaking as it was when it was first constructed. As I toured the house, it was amazing to be able to hear the constant rhythm of the water getting ready to crash over the edge of the rocks. Can you imagine what it was like to hear that 24/7? The house still maintains its original furniture and artwork, so it gave me the chance to really envision what it would have been like to live there. Be sure to check out Fallingwater during your next trip out East!

Have you ever visited Fallingwater? Have you visited any of Frank Lloyd Wright’s other works?

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“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir

Photos by Megan Coffroth

References: http://www.fallingwater.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater

2014 Year in Review

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Since my blog has been on WordPress for over a year, I thought it would be fun to share my most viewed posts as a way to wrap up 2014. Actually, all of my top blog posts are from when I was living in Spain in 2013. WordPress even said, “Consider writing about those topics again” since they were popular posts. Oh, if only I could write about Spain right now! Oh well, someday. Anyway, I always love reading about old adventures, and I hope you do to! So here you have it, my top blog posts of ALL TIME (the past year and a half!):

IMG_13871. Things We Can Still Learn from Dr. Seuss – This one is my most popular post by far, and actually has nothing to do with travel.

2. My Spain Top 5 – I wrote this before I went to Spain and detailed my top 5 must-see attractions! I can also now say that I’ve seen everything on my top 5 list. Time for a new one!

3. Packing for 3 months?! Help! – As I prepared to go to Spain, I was trying to figure out the most efficient way to pack. I was surprised because there really weren’t many suggestions out there. Luckily, I found a fellow blogger’s site to help me out.

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4. Castilla-La Mancha Highlights – I wrote this post once I figured out where I would be living. It is similar in style to My Spain Top 5 post, but more specific to the Castilla-La Mancha region. The only things I didn’t see there were Belmonte and the famous windmills. Another trip then! 

5. My Visit to Alarcón – This post really doesn’t have much text, and I think it was initially popular because it was one of my first posts from Spain. However, it has some staying power and remains my fifth most-viewed post. Maybe it’s because of the awesome pictures of this medieval town. Be sure to check it out!


“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” Martin Buber

Photos by Megan Coffroth

An Omaha Adventure

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Hello WordPress readers! It’s been quite a while since I last wrote. I know, I know, I’m starting quite the trend of sporadic blog posts. My excuse is school – it’s kept me quite busy these past few months. I have so much I want (and plan) to tell about my first semester of dental school, but that’s a post for another day. In an attempt to keep my blog focused on the travels of a dental student, I will share some highlights from my latest venture, Omaha, Nebraska!

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I had a lot of fun exploring Omaha’s Old Market area this past fall. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Market is a popular weekend destination for locals and tourists alike. The Old Market consists of several streets lined with restaurants, shops and bars. I had the opportunity to dine at two sushi restaurants in the Old Market this past fall (boy, were they delicious!), but what I really enjoyed about the Old Market was the Omaha Farmers Market held on Saturday mornings.  The Omaha Farmers Market is from 8 am to 12:30 pm on Saturday mornings and runs May through October. The market features over 100 different vendors, giving market-goers the chance to find anything from farm fresh produce, to clothing, to baklava, to pottery to enchiladas! The possibilities are endless! I had the opportunity to visit the Omaha Farmers Market twice this past fall, and though I didn’t get many pictures of the here are a few photos to set the scene found in the Old Market.

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Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari

In October, I had the chance to visit a wildlife safari on the outskirts of Omaha. Located in Ashland, Nebraska, the Lee G. Simmons Conservation and Wildlife Safari is a drive-through safari featuring elk, deer, wolves, bears, and bison. This park is so cool! You can drive through the park in your car and still see all the animals! The pictures of the elk below were taken while I rode in the car. The elk past right in front of our vehicle! The park also has a hiking trail at the halfway point so that you can get out of your car, stretch your legs, walk around, and view the wolves and bears in their enclosures. I really enjoyed this park because it was different than the typical zoo experience. I highly recommend making the drive out past western Omaha to see this unique attraction!

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Well, there you have it! A glimpse into my Omaha adventures thus far. Any suggestions for future outings? Let me know!

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Photos by Megan Coffroth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omaha,_Nebraska#Old_Market

http://omahafarmersmarket.com/old-market/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_G._Simmons_Conservation_Park_and_Wildlife_Safari

http://coolmompicks.com/blog/2014/07/19/pursing-dreams-inspiration-noel-shiveley/

Ready for Spring!

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Winter is rapidly becoming my least favorite season. After the holidays, snow begins to lose it’s wonder, and let’s face it, I’ve never been a fan of the cold. I never fully understood the term “cabin fever” until this past year. Snowstorm after snowstorm combined with a lack of Vitamin D has adversely affected my mood. Some days I’m almost certain that I’m actually cold blooded due to my state of lethargy during the winter months… but then I quickly snap back to reality and remember that’s impossible. Or so says science.

Yes, it’s definitely been a long winter for us here in the Midwest. However as of late we’ve been enjoying some 60 degree weather, and I could not be more thankful. Until I can realize my dreams of moving South, I’ll have to take what I can get. As my excitement for spring increases, so does my longing to spend more time outside. I’m excited to smell the rain, see the flowers bloom, and hear the birds chirp (FYI – a former professor of mine taught me how to distinguish between different bird species based on their chirps. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked to try it out this spring!).

So in honor of spring and the great outdoors, I want to share with you one of my favorite places to be outside: The Laurel Highlands. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, the Laurel Highlands are located about an hour south from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I usually visit once a year, and have a great time! Here are some pictures from this past summer at Laurel Hill State Park.

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They look kind of like misclos don’t they?

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Photo credit to my sister

Ah! I just can’t wait for spring! What about you? Where are your favorite places to be outside?

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Photos by Megan Coffroth

Sunset on the Prairie

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I often identify with the saying, “I’ve left my heart in so many places.” The more I travel, the more I realized this to be true. I especially feel this sense of nostalgia every time I visit Manhattan, KS. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting friends and driving around my old college town this past weekend. I also took some time to visit one of my favorite Manhattan spots: the Konza Prairie.

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There’s just something about it, isn’t there? Something that fills me with peace about how far I’ve come, but also reminds me of the continuing journey ahead. Press on.

“It’s from which you get your strength. The red earth of Tara.” – Gone with the Wind

Photos by Megan Coffroth

Cuenca

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My time in Spain as a CIEE Language and Culture Teaching Assistant was spent in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, particularly the province of Cuenca. I lived in a small town about one hour from the capital of the province, which is, coincidentally, also named Cuenca. Many of my students often talked about taking weekend trips to Cuenca for shopping, family visits, etc., so I knew it was somewhere I would enjoy. One Sunday during October, my host family took me to visit this charming city. I was so lucky to be able to go on a beautiful fall day. The colors of the leaves on the trees were really quite stunning.

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We began our morning on the outskirts of the historic part of the city. In case your unfamiliar with the setup of cities in Spain, most of them have a central historic area with the newer, urbanized area surrounding it. I know, I know, it makes perfect sense for a city to be organized this way. However, I would consider the U.S. equivalent (downtown) to be very different from a historic city center. In other words if you love history, be sure to go to the city centers.

We parked the car along the bottom of a gorge. The oldest part of the city is surrounded by several gorges formed by the Júcar and Huécar rivers. After a healthy 15 minute walk, we ascended into the historic center. It was a very calm Sunday morning, and not many people were out in the streets, but we could hear some noise coming from the Plaza Mayor. FYI, someone, somewhere was playing an acoustic guitar while we were walking (I love Spain).

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Our first stop in the city center was the cathedral. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace and Saint Julian is in the center of the city, thus making it difficult to miss. Constructed from 1182 to 1270, the cathedral is the first Gothic style Cathedral in Spain. Certain features reminded me of Notre Dame in Paris. We decided to take a tour inside the cathedral. The mid-morning positioning of the sun allowed for some remarkable stained glass reflections. We also heard the haunting melodies of the monks singing somewhere in the cathedral. It was beautiful.

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Our next stop was the Museum of Abstract Arts. The museum is housed in the Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses). These buildings are what many people think of when they think of Cuenca. The houses were built in the 15th century right on the edge of the gorge. The houses now contain the museum, allowing tourists to not only enjoy the arts, but also the picturesque view across the gorge.

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Brigitte Bardot, 1959 – By Antonio Saura – My favorite painting in the museum!

After enjoying the Casas Colgadas from the inside, we made our way to the Puente de San Pablo (Bridge of Saint Paul). This bridge was constructed from 1533 to 1589 over the gorge. The purpose of the bridge was to connect the city of Cuenca with the St. Paul Convent. The bridge allows a marvelous view of the Casas Colgadas.

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After spending some time on the Puente de San Pablo, we headed back to the car. I was able to snap some pretty cool pictures along the way. There are lots of other things to do in Cuenca – these are just some of the highlights I want to share. So, if you ever find yourself in Castilla-La Mancha, make sure you visit Cuenca!

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Have you ever been to Cuenca? If not, would you like to go? Which locations top your list? Also, if you’re interested in more of what Castilla-La Mancha has to offer, check out my post Castilla-La Mancha highlights.

“I am a passionate traveler, and from the time I was a child, travel formed me as much as my formal education.” – David Rockefeller

Photos by Megan Coffroth

A Sevillian Carriage Ride

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This week I’ve been feeling particularly homesick…for Spain. I think it’s time for another post about one of my Spanish adventures. This post is about Sevilla (Seville), particularly the Maria Luisa Park. I visit Sevilla for the day with my host family. We drove from Granada to Sevilla in the morning and spent the afternoon in Sevilla. We then drove to Cordoba that evening. It was a whirlwind of a trip with so many new things to see!

Upon arrival in Sevilla, we walked around for a while before finding a horse drawn carriage tour. We spent the large majority of the tour in Maria Luisa Park. Stretching along the Guadalquivir River,  the Maria Luisa Park is a large public park in the heart of Sevilla. At one point the park was used for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, and contains several buildings constructed specifically for the exposition. Enjoy the greenery and Plaza de España in Maria Luisa Park!

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Sevilla is definitely on my list of places to visit when I return to Spain. As I mentioned, my host family and I only spent the afternoon there. However, there are so many museums and historic monuments that one could easily spend several days in this beautiful Andalusian city. Have you ever been to Sevilla? Do you have any suggestions for things to see? Let me know!

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Photos by Megan Coffroth