On the road…

IMG_2420

Watching the sunset at Lake Hamilton at Lookout Point in Hot Springs Arkansas (June 23 2017)

A thunderstorm ensued the minute we reached our accommodation site at Econo Lodge Lookout Point in Hot Springs Arkansas in the evening of Friday June 23. It lasted for over an hour. After the heavy downpour ceased, Sandra and I decided to walk out to Lake Hamilton which was a mere 5 minute walk from our motel room. A spectacular sunset overlooking the lake greeted our eyes when we got there. What a breathtaking sight to behold! The works of the hands of my creator. 🙂

I took some time to engage in reflection as I walked the piers on the lake and admired the view. A sense of peace came over me and brought rest to my soul. I felt extremely grateful for the opportunity to go on this two-week road trip from Washington, D.C. to Texas. It was an impromptu road trip. Our arrival in Hot Springs Arkansas marked the midway point of our travels.

Our travels from 19th June to 2nd July…

Monday 19 June – We left Washington, D.C. and drove over 10 hours all the way to Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia where we stayed for 2 nights. As it was raining heavily most of the time in Atlanta, we did not get to see very much except for the Coca-Cola museum and the underground mall. I enjoyed looking around the Coca-Cola museum and learning the about the history of how Coca-Cola was invented. The underground mall turned out to be dead as many shops had closed down and there were only a few that were open. I learned that it used to be a place full of activity a couple of years ago but now things had changed.

Wednesday June 21 – Our next stop was Nashville in Tennessee. We stayed in a beautiful home that we booked through airbnb that was situated in Pegram, approximately a 30-min drive from downtown Nashville. I absolutely loved Pegram because it was in the countryside. Driving through the roads lined with trees made the drive relaxing and gratifying. We had a scrumptious dinner at the Loveless cafe. The biscuits were so delectable that I ate two!

Thursday June 22 – The day was spent exploring the Grand Ole Opry, the famous country music stage concert venue, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In the evening, we walked along Broadway street and went into a pub to listen to some country music performances. The street was bustling with people.

Friday June 23 – In the morning, we hiked the hidden lake trail near our accommodation site in Pegram before making the 6-hour long drive to Hot Springs Arkansas.

Saturday June 24 – We got lost in the many trails while hiking at Hot Springs National Park. So a hike that was supposed to be 1.5 hours long turned out to be much longer than expected. Still, it was a good workout! 🙂

We headed to the Quapaw bathhouse after lunch and immersed ourselves in the Hot Springs’ thermal waters.  It was so so good!

After the Quapaw Baths, we drove to Lake Ouachita and sat quietly by the lake admiring the view for some time before driving back to the motel. Hot Springs was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I just loved indulging in nature.

Monday June 26 – We hit the road to Dallas city in Texas on Sunday June 25 and had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. We spent the next day exploring the Sixth Floor Museum which narrated the life and assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was pleasantly surprised when the receptionist asked if we wanted to use the ASL audio guide. I didn’t realize they had it. To my surprise, the person doing the introduction was my classmate, Wink! 🙂 The team of interpreters that worked on the ASL guide did a really good job at providing accessibility to the information in the museum.

In the evening, we went to the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. My very first experience being served a four-course dinner whilst watching a jousting match!

Wednesday June 28 – On June 26, we headed to Houston. We didn’t do much exploring in Houston except for hiking at the Buffalo Bayou Park. At this point, we realized we had done a lot during the trip so far and just wanted to get some rest in between.

Thursday June 29 – We drove to Austin and walked around the city to explore it.

Later in the evening, we ended up going for a swim at Barton Springs pool. The water looked very inviting because of the heat. When we got in, the water was icy cold but it still felt good.

Friday June 30 – We had a late lunch at Crepe Crazy, a deaf-owned restaurant. In the evening, we went to Mount Bonnell, a prominent point alongside the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado river.  Our original intention was to hike the hundred steps to the top but we failed to find it. Instead, we ended up having it easy as the spot we had driven to and parked our car had already led us up to the very top. As we walked further down, we discovered the staircase we had intended to take.

Saturday July 1 – On our way to San Antonio, we stopped by New Braunfels and went tubing on the Comal river. I saw people picnicking on the river, eating sandwiches and drinking from soda cans. It was quite an experience for me because I have never seen anything quite like this before. Whenever I felt the heat getting too much for me, I would take a dip in the river to cool down. I learned that tubing on the river is how the Texans keep cool in the unbearable heat!

After dinner, we did the San Antonio Riverwalk. It was a beautiful walk and the river banks were lined with restaurants. It was full of life and activity.

July 2 marked the end of our two-week road trip which had been nothing short of incredible. I flew back to Washington D.C that day.

Throughout the trip, I enjoyed all the long drives on the road except for the portion of the journey from Nashville to Hot Springs where it rained so heavily on the freeway that I was not able to see the cars in front of and behind me. I slowed down slightly and maintained the same pace as I had no idea if I was going to crash into the vehicle in front of me or if someone would ram into me from the back. I could not stop by the side as I was in the middle lane. It wasn’t a nice feeling. The vehicles on the road had to put on their hazard lights so we could see each other. Thankfully, this only lasted for a brief period.

During our travels, I experienced many things I never had before. We also got to hike very often which is one of my favorite things to do. The highlights of the trip for me were tubing on the Comal River and hiking at Hot Springs National Park. Austin also turned out to be my favorite Texas city of all the four Texas cities we visited. It has a very different vibe compared to Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.  I learned that the Austinites are very much into outdoor and fitness activities such as hiking and swimming. It is also a Deaf friendly city with many Deaf owned businesses. One Deaf person from San Antonio mentioned to me that Austin is called “Gallaudet Number Two.”

So thankful to be able to get away from Washington, D.C. for a time after graduation and explore more of the United States. I love that every state has it’s own distinct culture.

I had so much fun that now I am itching to do more road trips in the future.

Fingers crossed for more opportunities! 😉

Class of 2017…Graduation Week…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s only now that I have fully recovered from the hype of graduation week. I can’t believe it’s taken me a whole week!

The days leading up to graduation flew by swiftly. What an incredibly busy period but so much fun too! 🙂 Certainly a most memorable time in my life! I definitely enjoyed this a hundred times more than I did my undergraduate commencement in Brisbane in July 2008.

I was surprised and most honored to receive the Graduate Writing Research Award towards the end of the Graduate Awards and Hooding Ceremony on May 11. It was for the research project I did in Singapore last summer.

IMG_1159

There were many thoughts and emotions to process during this period. I have so much to say yet am at a loss as to how to express everything in writing, in a single blog post.

So, I have set up three different slideshows and will let the photos do the talking instead. 🙂

Wednesday May 10, 2017 – International student graduation party

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thursday May 11, 2017 – Graduate Awards and Hooding Ceremony

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday May 12, 2017 – Gallaudet University’s 147th Commencement Ceremony

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Very End…

thumb_IMG_0615_1024

And so I submitted my last and final assignment for the semester via e-mail to my professor at 5:36pm.

Deadlines. Late nights. Burning the midnight oil. Sacrificed weekends. Time crunch.

Today marks the end of all this. For now.

Two Master’s degree certificates waiting to be placed in my hands at the Commencement next week.

Is it true? I’ve finally made it to the finish?!

It feels hardly tangible.

But YES, I did it!

Hooray!! 🙂

Feeling…

As free as a bird.

Euphoric.

Sad, a little.

Bittersweet, to be exact.

Women’s March on Washington 2017

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today marks a historic moment in America’s history!

People flew from all over the USA to attend the march in Washington to protest against the Trump presidency. There was an estimated turn out of 500,000 REGISTERED voters which is double the expected number. I can’t imagine what the total would be, if it was possible to add those who showed up but did not register. Can’t believe there are protests happening all over the world too!

I felt so inspired watching the different speakers on the big screen and seeing all the different signs that the demonstrators held up. What a positively emotionally charged atmosphere it was – such great energy! And how amazing to see the whole country unite to fight for women’s rights and equality for all!

So grateful for the certified Deaf interpreters on stage who made the event more accessible for Deaf attendees.

The experience was nothing short of incredible.

A day I will certainly live to remember.

So glad to be a part of it all! 🙂

2017…???

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So thankful for the opportunity to drive around Florida from 21st to 30th December last year with two friends. What a wonderful time relaxing and switching off from the busyness of life in D.C.!So thankful for the opportunity to drive around Florida from 21st to 30th December last year with two friends. What a wonderful time relaxing and switching off from the busyness of life in D.C.!

Christmas eve and Christmas day were the highlights of my trip. On Christmas eve, I got to catch up with two American friends whom I got to know in Australia – had such a great time chatting away with the Fullers for slightly over 3 hours! I learned recently from their e-mail that they had to pack up their life in Australian and return to the USA suddenly. It came as a real surprise to find that were in Florida at the same time as I was! On Christmas day, my travel mates and I hiked at Everglades National Park in the morning, spent the later part of the afternoon at Miami beach and walked over to the American diner for a dinner feast. 🙂

img_2039

Purchased this year planner at Chelsea Market in New York City on 21st November 2016

 

What will 2017 bring?

Graduation in May.

Apart from that, so many unknowns.

But….

How very exciting! 🙂

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)