Author Archives: Amber

About Amber

My name's Amber. I'm a Mass. Comm. Major and english minor at VCU. I enjoy music, photography, sports and traveling.


Nickname: The Evergreen State

Motto: Alki (Chinook Wawa: “Eventually” or “By and by”)

Capital Olympia
Largest city Seattle

I was born in Washington state and moved when I was too young to remember any of it. I consider myself quite the “west coast kinda girl” and cannot wait to return there. I would like to see the state I was born in and experience it for myself and not have to rely on stories from my parents about it.

I am obsessed with the show Grey’s Anatomy, and in the intro. to every episode the Seattle Space Needle. The Space Needle to me just screams Washington. The Space Needle is open 365 days a year and contains a restuarant at the top. The restaurant moves 360 degrees allowing you a complete view of the city as you eat. The Seattle Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and stands at 605 feet tall.

Seattle is also home of the original Starbucks which opened in 1971. I worked at Starbucks for over 3 years and to visit the original store would be an interesting trip.

Facts about Washington:

  • The state of Washington is the only state to be named after a United States president.
  • Seattle is home to the first revolving restaurant, 1961.
  • Washington state produces more apples than any other state in the union.
  • Washington state has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states combined.
  • Washington state’s capitol building was the last state capitol building to be built with a rotunda.
  • Everett is the site of the world’s largest building, Boeing’s final assembly plant
  • Medina is the home of the United States wealthiest man, Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
  • Microsoft Corporation is located in Redmond, Wash.
  • Before it became a state, the territory was called Columbia (named after the Columbia River). When it was granted statehood, the name was changed to Washington, supposedly so people wouldn’t confuse it with The District of Columbia.
  • Washington is the birthplace of both Jimi Hendrix (Seattle) and Bing Crosby (Tacoma).
  • The oldest operating gas station in the United States is in Zillah.
  • Washington’s state insect is the Green Darner Dragonfly.
  • The world’s first soft-serve ice cream machine was located in an Olympia Dairy Queen.
  • Starbucks, the biggest coffee chain in the world was founded in Seattle.
  • Spokane was the smallest city in size to host a World’s Fair. – 1974
  • Residents are called “Washingtonians” (emphasis on the third syllable, pronounced as tone).
  • The first European record of a landing on the Washington coast was by Spanish Captain Don Bruno de Heceta in 1775, on board the Santiago, part of a two-ship flotilla with the Sonora.
  • The Lewis and Clark expedition entered the state on October 10, 1805.
  • The first settlement in Washington was New Market (now known as Tumwater) in 1846.
  • In 1853, Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory.
  • Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.
  • Early prominent industries in the state included agriculture, lumber, shipping, fishing, salmon canning and mining.
  • In 1980, the northeast face of Mount St. Helens exploded outward, destroying a large part of the top of the volcano.
  • As of 2004, Washington’s population included 631,500 foreign-born (10.3% of the state population), and an estimated 100,000 illegal aliens (1.6% of state population).
  • The six largest reported ancestries in Washington are: German (18.7%), English (12%), Irish (11.4%), Norwegian (6.2%), Mexican (5.6%) and Filipino (3.7%).
  • Washington is home to many innovative Internet companies, including,,, and Marchex.
  • There are 140 public airfields in Washington, including 16 state airports.
  • Three ships of the United States Navy, including two battleships, have been named USS Washington in honor of the state.
  • Popular games Pictionary, Pickle-ball, and Cranium were all invented in Washington.



Niagara Falls, NY

This past weekend my family road tripped to Niagara Falls; something my mom has been wanting to see. We have made a list of attractions that are somewhat close that we’d all love to travel to before my dad retires from the Marine Corps and we move. We left Friday morning and drove about 9 hours to Niagara Falls Air Force Reserve Base, where we stayed. The drive was long and full of farmland but it was nice to road trip with my family again, it’s something we don’t do so often now that I live in Richmond.

The falls were breathtaking and there are so many angles and places to look at them from. My camera died halfway through the day because I was using it so often. The park was full of tourists but it didn’t detract from the beauty of the falls.

The Visitor’s Center was our first stop. The Visitor’s Center offered maps and information about what attractions were open. We missed several due to the cold weather but April is the month when most of the attractions open for the season.  We bought wristbands that allowed us on a trolley that took us to all the attractions around Niagara Falls State Park for only $2. Though all the sights are within walking distance, it was nice to sit down and have the conductor share some information about the falls and its surrounding park.

The Cave of the Winds is one of the attractions we saw. An elevator takes you 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge and extremely close to the falls. When you buy your tickets you are given ponchos which I didn’t think we’d need as much as we did. Once you get off the elevator you are amazed at the views around you. We were able to see the falls from the base and actually get sprayed by the falls as they hit the rocks.

Niagara Falls Observation Tower offered the best view of the American Falls and Ontario, Canada which lies just on the other side of the water.

  • Niagara Falls is America’s oldest state park, established in 1885
  • Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect of Niagara Falls State Park, also designed Central Park in New York City
  • 3,160 tons of water flows over the falls every second
  • The Falls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada
  • The Niagara River is actually a strait, connecting two large bodies of water, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
  • Over 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls extended seven miles down river at what is now Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. Over the years, the brink has eroded sometimes as much as six feet per year, to its present site
  • At one time, before Goat Island became part of Niagara Falls State Park, there were suggestions on what the island could be used for. Mr. Vanderbilt planned to use the island as a pleasure ground for people riding his trains to the falls. P.T. Barnum wanted to turn Goat Island into circus grounds

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Paris, France- ‘The City of Light’

Paris is the capital and largest city in France. Paris has a population of approximately 2.2 million people. Famous for the Eiffel Tower, Paris averages over 25 million tourists a year and July and August are the peak of tourist season. The top Paris attractions are Disneyland Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coeur, the Louvre Museum , Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Centre Pompidou and the Cite des Sciences.

Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements numbered 1 to 20.The first arrondissement contains the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. The other arrondissements spiral from there in a clockwise direction.The first arrondissement contains the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. The other arrondissements spiral from there in a clockwise direction.

The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, by Gustave Eiffel  as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. The Eiffel Tower stand at 1,063 ft.  tall. “Only intended to last 20 years, it was saved by the scientific experiments that Eiffel encouraged, and in particular by the first radio transmissions, followed by telecommunications. For example, the radio signals from the Pantheon Tower in 1898; it served as a military radio post in 1903; it transmitted the first public radio programme in 1925, and then broadcast television up to TNT more recently. Since the 1980s, the monument has regularly been renovated, restored and adapted for an ever-growing public.”

My first grade teacher moved to Paris after I had her class. I remember keeping in contact with her and asking her to send me a postcard with the Eiffel Tower on it; it’s now one of my favorite possessions.

Disneyland Paris opened on April 12, 1992, as the Euro Disney Resort. The park contains two theme parks, a golf course, an entertainment complex and six Disney resort hotels. Disneyland Paris covers an area of 4,940 acres.

The Musée du Louvre or the Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest museums. As the most visited art museum in the world it’s also a historic monument. Louvre was first opened to the public as a museum on November 8, 1793, during the French Revolution. The Louvre hosts the  “Mona Lisa” from Leonard de Vinci, among other world-famous paintings and artwork from all era’s and areas of the world.

Notre Dame Cathedral  is the official seat of the Archbishop of Paris and has been a Roman Catholic Cathedral since the Middle Ages. Maurice de Sully, the Paris Bishop, started its construction in 1163. He deemed the church that already stood in the location unworthy of the prestige of his position. Construction continued for years, with many bishops and architects making their mark on the seemingly never-ending building process. The fact that so many people had a part in building Notre Dame is what accounts for its unique and varied design. Notre Dame is 130 meters long, 48 meters wide, 35 meters high. Notre Dame witnessed many historic events, including the coronation of Napoleon (1804) and the mass for Paris liberation (1944). Major components that make Notre Dame unique include one of the world’s largest organs and its immense church bells. Of the five large bells, the one in the South Tower is the most prominent; he bourdon bell Emmanuel weighs over 13 tons.


Down Under: Australia

     Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, and Sydney. The glorious landscape and popular cities are popular places for tourists to visit. Rich in culture from the original Aboriginal land to British settlements, Australia is a place I’ve always wanted to visit.

     Urulu in Australia’s Northern Territory is most popularly known as Ayers Rock. The large sandstone rock formation is the heart of Australia. Uluru is sacred to the Aṉangu, the Aboriginal people of the area and is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Urulu is 1,142 ft. high and has a circumference of 5.8 mi. Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour depending on the time of the day and year. The rock usually glows red at dawn and sunset.

  • Ayers Rock is located in the middle of Australia, in fact very close to the actual geographical centre
  • Research suggests that Aborigines have lived in the area for at least 10,000 years
  • About one in ten visitors climb Ayers Rock
  • 400,000 to half a million people a year visit Ayers Rock

The Great Barrier Reef covers 133,000 sq mi., making it the world’s largest coral reef system and visable from outer space. As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef homes thousands of different animal species and over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays . There are numerous tours you can take to see the reef including  swimming, snorkeling, diving and sailing.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef offers a range of diving experiences for both the beginner and the experienced diving expert. You can also experience the reef from the air by taking a helicopter flight or skydiving. From the air you can see the magnitude of the reefs.

  • The Great Barrier Reef has over 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres
  •  Tourism to the reef generates approximately AU$ 4-5 billion per year
  •  Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed
  •  215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) visit the reef or nest or roost on the islands
  •  More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef
  •  There are at least 330 species of ascidians on the reef system

Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia. Made popular by the 2000 Summer Olympics and Finding Nemo, Sydney has beautiful beaches and the Sydney Harbour National Park. Sydney hosts most of Australia’s largest social and cultural events. You can even hike the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which opened in 1932 and is still the largest steel arch bridge in the world. The Sydney region was first discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770 during his first voyage into the Pacific region. Sydney’s weather patterns follow southern hemisphere rules which would make it the perfect place to escape a cold Virginia winter.

  • From beaches to bushland, unparalleled natural beauty to world-famous architecture in a beautiful harbour city, Sydney offers a vibrant lifestyle
  • Sydney’s culture, lifestyle and food bring together elements from all corners of the world
  • International art, music, film and cultural festivals fill Sydney’s streets all year round
  • There are 40 species of kangaroos  and wallabies in Australia


The UK: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and The Beatles

The United Kingdom has always been interesting to me because of the big names that came from there. The Spice Girls and later The Beatles were my favorite bands growing up. From the accents to the clothing, England was a place I’ve always wanted to experience.

Big Ben thought to be the is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower but is actually the name of the bell inside the tower.  BIg Ben weighs over 13 tons.

Located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, the clock tower was completed April 10, 1858. The  Saint Stephen’s tower is 16 stories high and stands 316 feet tall. The tower is not open to overseas visitors but UK residents can obtain tour passes through parliament. There is no lift in the tower so to reach the top you must climb 334 stairs.

The tower leans slightly north-west by a little more than 8 inches due to construction. At the base of each clock is the inscription “DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM,” which means “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.”

The clock is known for being incredibly accurate and even continued chiming after a WWII bombing.

Buckingham Palace has served as the home for all British monarchs since 1837. The palace contains  775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. First lived in by Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace covers over 77,000 square metres. Buckingham Palace is an office for the Head of State, as well as a home for The Queen. Changing the Guard takes place on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30am, a major tourist attraction. A  flag is hoisted each time the Queen is in the Palace.

        Liverpool is metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England. Liverpool was founded as a borough in 1207. My obsession with The Beatles is the reason Liverpool is on my must-see list. Liverpool is about 3 hours away from London.

        The childhood homes of the members of The Beatles are popular tourist attractions in Liverpool along with The Cavern Club. As the World Capital of Pop and the birthplace of the most popular pop band to date. From tours to museums and concerts to bars, the presence of The Beatles is felt amongst all who visit Liverpool.

        Over 50 years after The Beatles first performed on its stage, the Cavern Club is still one of Liverpool’s top music venues and offers a wide variety of live music daily. There are several types of tours you can take offered by the Cavern Club so you can experience the history and culture of The Beatles. The Beatles played the Cavern Club over 300 times, helping it become the most famous live music venue in the world.

        The homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon have been restored by the National Trust to allow visitors to see where The Beatles got there start.

        The Beatles Story is a unique visitor attraction that offers insight into the full history of The Beatles. The museum has two sites and even includes a Beatles themed Starbucks.

Washington, DC (Part 2)

        The Smithsonian Museums  make up the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Most of the museums are free and are open everyday excluding Christmas. Eleven of the museums are located on the National Mall. Over 137 million objects, works of art and specimens are in the museums and range from ancient history to modern art.  The museums include: Smithsonian Institution Building (the castle), Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Smithsonian American History Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the National Zoo.

        The Smithsonian Institution was established with funds from James Smithson (1765-1829), a British scientist. Smithson left his estate to the United States to found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson never stepped foot in America.


My favorite of the Smithsonian’s is the The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This museum displays artifacts from ever era of our country. I think the most moving of every display is “The Star-Spangled Banner,”  the flag that inspired the national anthem. The most fun of the exhibits is the Popular Entertainment section of the museum. This section includes famous athlete’s memorabilia, pop icons clothing, popular movie props and so much more. One of the most popular items in this museum are Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

War Memorials:


        The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC was dedicated in 1995. The memorial pays tribute to the troops that fought the Korean War (June 1950- July 1953). The memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle and the walls are made of black granite. The walls have images representing the land, sea and air troops who supported those who fought in the war are sandblasted into it. There are 19 stainless steel statues that represent a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the armed forces (fourteen of the figures are from the U.S. Army, three are from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy Corpsman, and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer). They are dressed in full combat gear, stand over 7 feet tall and weigh about 1,000 lbs. each. Between the statues is strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the  terrain of Korea.

        The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of my favorite memorials in DC. The memorial is made up of three parts: Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

        The Vietnam Women’s Memorial consists of a statue of two women in uniform tending to the wounds of a male soldier while a third woman kneels nearby. The women are named appropriately; the woman looking up is named Hope, the woman praying is named Faith, and the woman tending to a wounded soldier is named Charity. This statue represents the important role women played in the Vietnam conflict.

        The Three Soldiers statue is a  life-size bronze statue of three young servicemen. The leading statue represents a Marine and the other two represent Army soldiers. The men were made to represent 3 different ethnic groups;  Caucasian (the lead man), African-American (man on right), and Hispanic (man on left). The statue was dedicated on Veterans Day, 1984.

        The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a black granite wall inscribed with the names of 58,209 American’s killed or missing in the Vietnam conflict, but as of May 2011, there are 58,272 names. The wall is  246 feet 9 inches long. There are often people making pencil rubbings of names off the wall. Directories are located on  podiums to help visitors  locate specific names.

Capital of it All: Washington, DC (Part I)


Flower: American Beauty Rose

 Bird: Wood Thrush

Tree: Scarlet Oak

Motto: “Justitia Omnibus,” which is Latin for “Justice for All.”
Song: “Washington,” written by Jimmie Dodd, a former Mouseketeer, in 1951.

 Seal: DC’s official seal has a picture of a woman, who represents Justice, hanging a wreath on a statue of George Washington.


  • The District of Columbia was named after the explorer Christopher Columbus
  • DC is a very international city, home to more than 170 embassies and international cultural centers
  • Woodrow Wilson is the only president to live in Washington, DC after his terms in office
  • Washington, DC covers 68 square miles
  • The city was founded in 1791

Washington, DC is one of my favorite places to explore; there is so much history and many sights to see in such a small area. As a teenager growing up in NOVA, DC was in my backyard and always gave us a place to go. I like the fact that every time I go to DC there’s different events, people, and exhibits to see. From the hectic business men walking to work to the interesting tourist from numerous places, there’s somewhere for everyone to visit in our nation’s capital.

Growing up so close to DC, it was a popular spot for field trips and to take relatives when they visit. The historic and symbolic importance of the city is something I find interesting and I never pass up a trip to DC.

The White House was built starting during Washington’s presidency although he never lived there (1792- 1800). Washington signed an Act of Congress in December of 1790 declaring that the federal government would reside in a district “not exceeding ten miles square…on the river Potomac.” DC then became the capital instead of Philidelphia, where business had previously taken place. John Adams, the second president, is the first to have lived in the White House. In 1814, the White House was destroyed partially by a fire set by the British during the War of 1812. Again, in 1929 the White House suffered a fire. Starting during Jefferson’s presidency, the house was opened for tours. There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels to the White House that houses the First Family. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the White House recieves over 6,000 visitors a day.

The United States Capitol is located on Capitol Hill and serves as the meeting place of the United States Congress. A symbol of the legislative branch of the U.S., it is one of the most visited federal buildings. Construction of the Capitol started in 1793 and Congress first met in the Capitol Building on November 17, 1800. The building just added the  U.S. Capitol Visitor Center underground to provide tourists with more information.

Lincoln Memorial is a memorial built to honor our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.  The temple that houses Lincoln’s statue is 99 feet tall and made of marble. The statue of Lincoln is 19 feet tall. There are 87 steps that lead to the memorial from the reflecting pool, representing Lincoln’s famous words of “four score and seven years ago.” In the memorial are stone engravings of Lincoln’s second inaugural address and the Gettysburg Address. Above his statue is the inscription: IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.