USA State Quarters

The Vertulis’ Home
Sayre, Pennsylvania
Week 5, Day 36 August 1 Monday

I made a vow to collect all the 50 State Quarters if I ever go to the US. FYI: Each quarter’s reverse commemorated one of the 50 states with a design emblematic of its unique history, traditions and symbols.

My first state quarters were loose coins from the Vertuli family, from Tops grocery shop and convenience shops across the US East Coast.

I remember how I would excitedly and patiently check out the coin changer at a game arcade in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and at the car wash center in Sayre.

I know that in the US, this fascination of collecting the 50 state quarters is common among elderly folks in the US and some people would pick on me for this.

I appreciate all the new friends that I gained in supporting me with this endeavor.

If you look more closely, I only get to secure the Northern Mariana Islands among the US territories.

And I did try to collect all the US license plates while we were doing our cross-state road trip. I did find all 49 states. Understandably, Hawaii did not make it.

Visiting the National Mall in DC

The National Mall, DC
Week 2, Day 15 July 11 Monday

We were schedule to fly to Boston, Massachusetts around 7pm that day. As it was our last day in DC, it was very essential to visit the National Mall.

The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C. It contains numerous US landmarks and museums. Entry to the museums is free.

Our main priority was to visit the National Air and Space Museum, however we got there around 9am, and the museum does not open until 9:30am. So, we decided to go check out where Mr. President holds office first, then go to the Lincoln Memorial, walk around the mall and just visit the Air and Space Museum on our way back.

And off we started…

The area of the mall is around 1.9 mi (3.0 km) x 1.2 mi (1.8 km)*. And the weather at that time was 100 F or about 38 C. It was scorching hot but we did not mind the heat. It is DC, after all, and who knows when are we going to come back again.

That is the Washington Monument behind me. It is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington. It is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest monument, standing at 555 ft, 5 1/8 inches or 169.294 m*.

There were lots of stops on our way to the White House because there were too many interesting and pretty sights distracting our journey.

So, this is the gate to the White House. As we may need proper documents and appropriate reasons in order to get in, we just contended ourselves by the gates, together with other tourists who were mostly European and Chinese.

This is the facade of the Lincoln Memorial, which was built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln is the “man”.

This was taken from the US National World War II Memorial which is dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. It consist of 56 pillars and there I found ours.

A Koala from the Hall of Mammals at the National Museum of Natural History

By the time when we went back to the National Air and Space Museum, there was a long queue at the entrance but we waited patiently to see the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world.

And that was the end of our DC adventure.

Mr. Big and Me

The Forge Publick House
Week 4, July 24 Day 30 Sunday

We went to The Forge Publick House at Fort Collins for some drinks on Kaitlin’s birthday. And that was how I met Mr. Big. He was very sweet to oblige us with a souvenir picture.

I really did not notice those sharp teeth when I had this picture taken. I could have not posed alongside with him had I seen them earlier.

A Long and Winding Road

Road to Bethesda, Maryland
Week 2, Day 15 July 9 Saturday

On our second day in District of Columbia, Michael’s friend from State College, whom we shall call Mr. M, picked us up to bring us to Bethesda, Maryland. The plan was to meet up with the rest of their State College friends to go bowling somewhere in the afternoon. Most of their friends from college have found work in DC and are also staying in the Bethesda area.

Now, the road to Bethesda was not all that sweet. While Mr. M was driving on the freeway, the car’s right rear end tire gave way. We had to pull over so Mr. M could change the tire and we could continue our journey much safely.

Be a Cow and Eat a Chicken

Somewhere in Virginia
Week 2, July 8 Day 13 Friday

District of Colombia or commonly referred to as Washington, DC is the capital of the United States. It is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the northeast. So when Michael and I went to visit his State College friends, who now work in DC, we had to go to Virginia for Dave (who was gracious enough to let us stay in a house that he shares with 3 other guys) and to Maryland for the rest of the gang.

Michael’s friend, Michael Austin, picked us up from West Chester,Philadelphia and drove* us to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (of which we stayed for 2 nights and will blog about it on another day) and to Washington, DC. *Time specifics to follow on another blog.

Dave picked us up at Target Mall, somewhere in Virgina (pardon my lack of specifics of the geographic location as things just happened too fast). And when we got to their place at Seven Oaks, he told us to suit up for the Chick-fil-A free meal.

Background: Chick-fil-A is a fast food chain in the US that specializes in chicken entrées. And on this special day, anyone can get a free meal in any Chick-fil-A branch if you can dress up like the Chick-fil-A mascot.

Dave managed to print us out some Chick-fil-A cut-outs and it was then to each to his own imagination on how to make the costume. We somehow just all ended up following his suggestion though, that is to get a white T-shirt and cover it up with black patches here and there, stick a tail and a pair of hoofs somewhere and voila!

*If you notice the bruise on my right leg, that was courtesy of Connor’s very excited dog. Connor is a friend from Sayre, PA. I will discuss more details on the cast of characters of my US of A adventures but of course, I will leave their real identities a mystery, well maybe except for some.

Or the other way around, black cow with white spots.

And off we went to Chick-fil-A, pretty confident with what we have accomplished and excited to get our free meals. But when we got there, everyone else seemed to be more resourceful.

This picture is actually taken from Chick-fil-A’s website but pretty much this is close to reality.

Well, we still got our free chicken meal. In fact, Dave got a second serving just for principle.

Welcome to Seven Oaks, Virginia!

Leaving Chicago, Illinois

Interstate Highways along Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska
Week 4 Day 28 July 22 Friday

We left the Millian’s suburban gold coast abode around 7 am to start off our journey to Fort Collins, Colorado. That would be the farthest west that we could get.

At 8:17 am, along Western Illinois area, this was the sky situation…

I admit that I got pretty scared, considering that there seemed to be no other way but just to bravely pass through it. We were in an interstate highway and if we pull over; (a) we would get to Fort Collins on a later time and (b) we would be stuck in the middle of this mad weather of which we want to evade in the first place. As much as we want to huff and puff and blow the mad weather away, we simply cannot do so off we went, braving it through, that is.

There was a truck in front of us that was somehow spewing out unidentified materials from its back and it was quite a challenge to overtake the truck since the road view ahead was blurry due to heavy rainfall. This went on for a good 20 minutes or so and then…

Clear and blue sky as if nothing happened.

And around 9pm, the sun finally set but we were just starting our adventure in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
Week 5, Day 30 July 24 Sunday

Yup, it was very rocky indeed.

This is the view from our 1st stop on our way to the top where I have to do my obligatory bathroom call.

The following were taken from the Alpine Visitor Center stop.

I made it! Yay!

Concrete Jungle That is NYC

New York City, NY
Week 1, Day 1 June 25 Saturday

How do I start my Great American Adventure?

Breakfast of course, at the Gramercy Cafe.

Then off to Union Square Station to try out the NYC subway. However it was great to know that it was Market Day, the smell of home-baked bread and freshly picked fruits, flowers and vegetables was very enticing.

Time Square, NYC

China Daily along Broadway, NYC

It’s like we never left Shanghai or maybe because China is everywhere.

Grand Central Station, NYC

Yummy Oysters at the Grand Central Station,NYC

Cynthia of DCHS Class 95

Somewhere in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Week 3, Day 21 July 15 Friday

I forgot to mention that there were other places that I’ve been to other than the list that I’ve enumerated in my previous blog. On our second week, when Michael finally got his driver’s license and we eventually had our car (courtesy of Mrs. Sarah V), Michael brought me to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to meet my classmate of 12 years* from Davao Central High School, Batch 1995.

*I went to a bilingual school in Davao City, Philippines where we were in a blocked class from kindergarten years until senior year in high school. It was Section B class for all 12 years and it was usually a class of 46 students or less.

Cynthia’s 4 year old daughter is a very sweet girl. It was charming how apologetic she was for being not able to pick flowers for us from her mom’s backyard. She is a very smart girl who was very excited to show us her craft works.

Highway Specifics
It was a 4 hour drive from Sayre, Pennsylvania. There were a lot of very small town roads that we drove through on our way to where Cynthia lives.

High-Spirited Moments
Yummy Filipino dishes that Cynthia prepared for lunch. We had Pork Ribs Sinigang, Lumpiang Shanghai, Kinilaw na Tuna, Home-made Brownies and Cantaloupe Ice Cream for dessert. We also got some goodie treats from Cynthia’s work: some Hershey Chocolate pull over shirts.

Cynthia’s kitchen cupboard was stocked up with a lot of Filipino food ingredients so she won’t feel homesick.

Her freezer can feed the entire Section B class if we were to have a Batch Reunion, not to mention Cynthia’s admirable cooking skills.

It’s very heartwarming to see someone you haven’t seen for a long time. I am looking forward to any class reunion that we could probably have in the future.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Note: I’m going to write some of my adventures in a backward order. Just bear with it for now. This US trip has been very enriching for me and although I initially planned on having a progressive travel blog, it was pretty challenging since my travel partner and I have been all over the place in quite a short period at a time. So, I was savouring my moment in the places that we’ve been while socializing and meeting new friends at the same time. We flew from Shanghai, China in 24 June, Saturday at about 8pm, arrived in Newark, New Jersey on the same day at around 9pm or so. It was a 16hours or so, ordeal on top of the 2hours delay from Shanghai. To date, I would try to recall the places that we’ve to so far:

Week 1: New York City, NY
Sayre, Pennsylvania
Corning, NY

Week 2: West Chester, Philadelphia
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Seven Oaks, Virginia
(I forgot the name of the city) Maryland
Washington, DC

Week 3: Boston, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusets
Bimhangtom, New York
Sayre, Pennsylvania
Chicago, Illinois

Week 4: Fort Collins, Colorado
Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
Boulder, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Frisco, Colorado

I will eventually post how I spent my time in each place in time before I get back to Shanghai.

For now, I will share a few pictures from my time at the Denver National Museum of Nature and Science. I went there with Kaitlin and Michael last Wednesday, 27 July.

We left around 7:30am since Kaitlin had to do some volunteer work at the museum. Kaitlin is a really cool and smart girl. She’s one of the many good friends that Michael have in the US. She studied Biological Anthropology in Colorado State University and did an internship with the team of expert scientists behind the digging of the Mammoth fossil relics in Snowmass, Colorado.

While Kaitlin had to work on the Mammoth fossils, Michael and I got to explore the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Click this link for more details:

We signed up for the IMAX 2D movie: Journey to Space in the morning. While waiting for our movie schedule, we checked out the Space Odyssey exhibit area. It was the most fascinating exhibit that I have seen so far. You should check out their link:

I have become very fond of watching IMAX movies that right after watching Journey, we moved on into watching Mysteries of the Great Lakes. It was a story about the near-extinction of the Sturgeons. I was deeply touched by the dedication of the team that went out of their way to make sure that Sturgeons continue to breed healthily.

After meeting up with Kaitlin for lunch, Michael and I went to the exhibit about Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship (Here is the link:

The exhibit showcased a lot of the discovered bits and pieces of the pirates’ weapons, clothing, gear, and other possessions that have been plucked from the wreck of the Whydah Gally off Cape Cod. I found it interestingly funny to be walking alongside excited pre-school kids who happened to be having their summer group tour in the museum. It made me reminisce about my pre-school days, minus the museum tours (because we didn’t have any).

Afterwards, we went to the Prehistoric Journey area, where there were a lot of ginormous Dinosaur fossil castings. I find this battle between the Allosaurus and the Stegosaurus completely captivating:

I tried to compare my bite with theirs but I think it’s pretty obvious that I am no match.

They did stand tall among the rest of their species.

Yikes! For more details about Prehistoric Journey, check their link ( exhibit).

We ended our tour by going to the Expedition Health exhibit area where we had to be given a Peak Pass so we can better enjoy our expedition to find out more about our health.

Now, it’s 3:58 AM here and as much as I want to blog more about the rest of my trip, I need to be healthy to do so.

Until the next US State people. Have a nice day ahead!