About Me

La Región Central

A recounting of my experiences with the central region of Nicaragua.

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Welcome back to Nicaragua, my lovely readers!

This post is the second installment in my recounting of the Nicaraguan countryside and lifestyle. It will look at the central departments of Nicaragua, located between the two coasts and below the Segovias. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out for help with translations or clarifications, as this post will continue in Spanish.

Happy reading! 🙂

Ubicada entre la Costa Pacífica y la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua, la Región Central sirve como un puente para las otras regiones y también como una prevista de la belleza de Nicaragua para los turistas. Sirve como un puente porque hay que crucer por Boaco y Chontales para ir al Caribe o por Matagalpa para ir al norte. Eso no es malo, sin embargo, porque la vista en todos los departamentos de la Región Central es hermosa. ¡Vamos a ver qué es lo que hay en cada departamento!

La primera vez que yo sabía sin duda que había visto la belleza de Nicaragua fue cuando yo pasé por Boaco por primera vez. Como la mayoría de la Región Central, Boaco tiene una vista increíble de los pastos (a veces con vacas, cabras, y caballos, pero a veces con solamente árboles y árboles) afrente de las montañas y los cerros oscurros. Hay bastante ríos corriendo por este departamento también, y el paisaje me recordó a Washington en los Estados Unidos. Los turistas pueden disfrutar caminos por los cerros silvestres, ríos y cascadas más o menos limpios, y cambios extremos de elevación por partes diferentes del departamento. El aire es fresco allá pero también seco, y ese clima separa el viento del Pacífico y la humedad del Caribe. Este ambiente continua al sur, también, y nos trae a nuestro segundo departamento, Chontales.

En Chontales, la vista cambia de montañas a cerros suaves, cubiertos con césped. La presencia de ganado es más fuerte allí que en casi cualquier otro lugar en el país, y la mayoría de las comunidades en el departamento son muy rurales y pequeñas. Yo pasé por primera vez el 23 de septiembre, el día antes de mi vigésimo tercer cumple y el mismo día que yo pasé por Boaco por primera vez. Este departamento tiene quizá la más variedad de todos en Nicaragua (si no Boaco), con cerros grandes al norte, planos secos al centro, y el inicio del pantano al sur. Y aunque hay muchos lugares rurales en Chontales, la capital, que se llama Juigalpa, es una ciudad con muchos recursos bonitos. Hay supermercados, tiendas con todo desde ropa a computadoras y equipaje de deportes, y varios restaurantes y hoteles para disfrutar. Yo recomiendo especificamente Coffee Break, un café que tiene bebidas ricas y comida deliciosa, aunque la comida puede ser un poquito cara. He pasado por Boaco y Chontales varios veces desde mi mudanza al RACCS, pero siempre me fascinan las vistas en estes dos departamentos, y me gustaría vivir en un lugar parecido un día también.

Por otro lado, Río San Juan es un departamento completamente diferente de todos los otros en Nicaragua. Queda al sureste de Nicaragua, con el Lago Cocibolca (Nicaragua) al oeste y el Caribe al este. Río San Juan es uno de los dos lugares en que puede crucer la frontera entre Nicaragua y Costa Rica, pero todavía no tiene mucha gente ni mucha turismo. Mucha del departamento es silvestre y es un tipo de pantano seco, en que hay bastante humedad, árboles, y agua sin ser inundado. No solamente hay conexiones fáciles al Lago Cocibolca, pero hay una parte pequeña que conecta con el Océano Atlántico (que se llama San Juan del Norte o Greytown), y, como sugiera el nombre del departamento, el Río San Juan corre por todo el departamento desde San Carlos al oeste a Greytown al este. Y hablando de San Carlos, esa es otra capital departamental de Nicaragua. Tiene un malecón lleno de restaurantes y bares, y la mayoría de las cosas turísticas están cerca de este malecón. La ciudad estira bastante, y la parte más nueva (con la secundaria pública y el aeropuerto) queda 20 o 30 minutos por pie del malecón. Hay bastante barrios de la ciudad, por supuesto, pero el más nuevo tiene varios hosteles y un Palí (una cadena de supermercados en Nicaragua), y se llama El Proyecto. No es tan grande como las otras capitales en Nicaragua, pero hay que probar el filete de pescado (que está viendo en todos los restaurantes), los postres de la panadería costarricense, y un batido de San Juan Green. Además, puedan disfrutar una visita al parque, si tienen hijos, porque el Parque Central es bien colorado y tiene un castillo. Para terminar su visita en Río San Juan, yo recomiendo que mire el ocaso por lo menos una vez, por la mezcla de agua y cielo más impresionante de Nicaragua (que puede ver al inicio de este blog). Tal vez tendría que esperar varios días para verlo sin nubes, pero vale la pena sin duda. Todavía no he visto los lugares más turísticos en Río San Juan, pero el Archipiélago de Solentiname, El Castillo, y la Reserva Biológica Indio Maíz son bien viajados por la naturaleza, la historia, y la tranquilidad que tienen. Pero cuidado por las culebras, los caimanes, y los otros reptiles en esta zona si va a visitar. Todas las plantas y tierra son bien antiguas, ¿y quién sabe qué es lo que hay adentro del bosque? ¡Es silvestre! J

El último departamento en la Región Central es Matagalpa, y está al norte de la región, contiguo con las Segovias. Mi razón por ponerlo al fin de está historia es sencilla—fue el último que yo lo visité. Matagalpa fue mi undecimo departamento en Nicaragua, y yo pasé por primera vez el 9 de diciembre. No he pasado mucho tiempo en el departamento, para ser honesto, pero lo que vi fue casi parecido a Boaco, con montañas y ríos por atrás. En vez de pastos, sin embargo, este departamento tiene muchas fincas de café y frijoles, y si pasa durante la estación de cosecha, puede ver el café en gran cantidades secando en el sol. La parte oeste del departamento es muy seca, y no tiene el cambio de temperatura que ocurre más norte, pero el departamento estira desde Managua al Caribe, y yo creo es más tropical (con cascadas, bosques, y cerros) al este. Si yo exploro la Región Central más durante mi servicio, yo quiero ver más de Matagalpa y Río San Juan.

Aunque esta historia falta mucha de la belleza y cultura de la Región Central de Nicaragua, espero que ustedes les hayan gustado mis descripciones. Continuen a seguir mi blog para descubrir todo el resto que hay en la región, porque yo voy a continuar a escribir sobre mis viajes durante mi servicio. Hasta la próxima vez, ¡feliz lectura y viajes seguros!

La Costa Pacífica

A recounting of my experiences with the westernmost region of Nicaragua.

 Welcome to my new world, everyone!

I know it’s been a while without a post, but the craziness of Peace Corps training, adjusting, and settling in has finally subsided, and I have the time to present some of my initial adventures in and the beauty of Nicaragua.  I will have more posts as I’m here for the next almost two years, but this will hopefully provide an enjoyable and honest glimpse of this rarely-ventured country.  As always, don’t hesitate to reach out for help with translations or clarifications, as this post will continue in Spanish.

Happy reading! 🙂

Mi aventura en Nicaragua empecé el 9 de agosto.  Como grupo de Nica70 (mi cohorte de Cuerpo de Paz), llegamos a Managua a las 1:00 de la tarde, más o menos.  Mi primera impresión de Managua (y todavía mi impresión) fue que la ciudad era calientísimo y realmente desagradable. Managua es la ciudad más grande y la capital de Nicaragua, y, como cualquier otra ciudad grande en el mundo, hay bastante restaurantes, edificios, y gente. La mayoría de la gente en Managua tiene bastante más recursos que la gente en el resto del país (incluyendo no solamente agua corriente, limpio, y caliente; sino también frutas y verduras frescas, oportunidades para trabajo y educación, y aceso a recursos para la salud y la vida). Es un poco triste que algunas personas tienen wifi y carros, mientras otras no tienen electricidad, ni agua, ni aún una pista para agarrar un bus un su pueblo, pero siempre hemos sido seres humanos de una manera u otra. Además, hoy en día todavía hay robos por pistola en áreas públicos en Managua, y la única razón lógica para ir allá es el negocio que hay.  Personalmente, yo solamente voy a Managua para hacer entrenamiento, para cosas médicas, y para ir a otros lugares (porque la mayoría de los buses públicos pasa por Managua).  Hay mucho más para comprar en Managua que en otros lugares (como tipos de comida, equipaje para deportes, y cosas para la casa), y la ciudad es uno de los únicos lugares en Nicaragua que tiene duchas calientes, pero yo sugiero que los visitantes solamente pasen por Managua y visiten otras partes del país. Todo es carísimo en Managua (como el sushi, que probé por primera vez allá y que es sobrevalorado), y mientras la ciudad obviamente no es el departamento entero de Managua, el resto del departamento es muy seco y sin muchas plantas. Si tiene que quedarse en Managua por una noche, yo recomiendo el hotel Best Western Las Mercedes. No es el mejor hotel en la ciudad ni el más barato, pero es bien bonito y tiene comida buenísima incluido (y es lo mejor en que yo me he quedado). Me gustó Ticuantepe, una ciudad que tiene todos los colores del arco iris en sus calles, pero todavía no valió la pena el viaje. Por eso, ahorita nos enfocamos en vez en el resto de la Costa Pacífica del país, dónde yo estuve por un poquito menos de tres meses.

En la Costa Pacífica, la comida consiste más que todo en la sopa y la masa (un tipo de pan de maíz), y muchos platos están hecho de una u otra, o una combinación de las dos. Como toda Centroamérica, arroz y frijoles (y plátanos) son bastante comúnes acá (solamente mire la foto abajo por un ejemplo). La sopa siempre tiene algun tipo de carne con huesos (normalmente rez), y puede tener zanahoria, apio, ayote, chayote, tomate, cebolla, papas, quiquisque, yuca, y/o masa, depende en las preferencias de la gente. Mi favorita fue arroz aguado, pero los nicas no lo consideran ser una sopa. Refrescos naturales son comúnes en toda Centroamérica también, y algunos populares en la Costa Pacífica de Nicaragua son pitaya, chicha de maíz, avena, y pinolillo. Me gusta la comida y refrescos de allá, pero, como toda la comida en Nicaragua, falta verduras y es demasiada frita en mi opinión. Sin embargo, visitantes pueden ir a los supermercados y mercados para comprar comidas frecas, y la dieta depende totalmente en cada persona. Si sólo tiene la oportunidad de probar una comida nicaragüense, hay que probar el nacatamal. Y especificamente en Masaya, hay que aprovechar la cajeta de coco también, que puede encontrar en las calles de Masatepe.

Casado

Regresando a mi experiencia con Nica70, tuvimos 13 semanas de entrenamiento en comunidades cerca de Managua para aprender sobre la cultura, la lengua, el trabajo, y la vida en Nicaragua.  Para mi grupo de TEFL, eso incluyó sesiones técnicas sobre la enseñanza en la secundaria y práctica por coenseñar con profesores nicaragüenses.  Por mi nivel de comunicarse en español al inicio, yo estuve en La Concepción, Masaya, con tres otros aspirantes.  Llegué al departamento de Masaya el 12 de agosto, y aunque yo estaba emocionado por mudarme, tomó tiempo para ver la belleza del departamento, para ser honesto.

Masaya es el departamento más pequeño de Nicaragua, y queda una hora por bus al sureste de Managua.  Yo digo por bus porque en Nicaragua, ir por bus es la manera más común de viajar, porque es la más barata (si sabe el español y no se engañan los cobradores). Es la más lenta, sin embargo, y otras maneras incluye microbuses (basicamente un van en que puede poner 40 personas), taxis, mototaxis (basicamente una tricicleta con una caja para sentarse), y carros personales. Por eso, nosotros voluntarios usamos buses por casi todo, porque no recibimos tanto dinero como cuestan los taxis. Los buses aquí son diferentes que los en otros países, sin embargo, y no siempre tienen un horario fijado ni van directamente a sus destinos. Como resultado, hay que vivir sin prisa y con calma aquí.

En el medio de este caos de transporte, mi hogar fue La Concepción, un pueblo que cosecha más frutas que todos los otros municipios en Masaya. Todo el departamento es conocido por cosechar piña y pitaya en cantidades grandes, y los cerros con fincas enormes son hermosos para visitar.  Como todo Nicaragua, había una falta de recusos básicos en Masaya, como agua corriente e infrastructura. Había tres horas (o más) cada día sin agua, y después de una tormenta tropical en octubre, ¡algunas personas estaban sin agua por más que un mes! Había menos problemas con transporte en Masaya que en departamentos muy lejos de Managua, pero todavía había muchas calles de tierra y en mal estado. Basura estuve en todas las calles de Masaya, y es cierto en todo Nicaragua también, porque no existe un buen sistema de reciclar aquí. Las calles en todo Nicaragua no solamente están llenas de basura, sino también de ruido y de perros silvestres—hay que tener cuidado para evitarlos y no asustarlos si no querría ser mordido, por supuesto.  Y si eso no fuera suficiente, la población joven crearía su propia dificultad—un tercio de las mujeres nicaragüenses pare un bebé en su adolescencia. En contra de estes problemas, muchas familias en muchas partes del país tienen wifi en sus casas, y los deseos parecen más importante que las necesidades y seguridades acá. Muchas personas en La Concepción trabajan en otras comunidades, y la comunidad sirve como un crucero de negocios más que un centro residencial. No hay muchos lugares públicos que son seguros para la gente, y, por mejor o por peor, la gente es la mejor parte del municipio. Sin embargo, Masaya incluye más que sólo La Concha.

En el departamento hay muchos artesanos también, y una persona puede comprar tazas, chimas, hamacas, y varias otras cosas en San Juan del Oriente. Muchos productos están hecho de madera o de barro, y una taza grande de barro con diseños bien tuani sólo cuesta entre 70 y 200 córdobas ($2-7), depende en el vendedor o la vendedora. Otros lugares bien viajados en el departamento son el mercado de Masaya, en que una persona puede comprar casi cualquier cosa que quiera, y la Laguna de Apoyo (abajo), que me pareció un lago en el Mediaoeste de los Estados Unidos (limpio, con piedras para la playa, y rodeado por árboles). El departamento no fue algo increíble para mí, pero yo tuve muchos buenos momentos allá, incluyendo mi 23ero. cumple con mi familia anfitriona, mi viaje a El Ventarrón y a El Nisperal, y mi viaje semanal al entrenamiento. El viaje a El Ventarrón tuvo una vista increíble del Volcán Masaya, y el viaje al entrenamiento tuvo una vista hermosa de los valles y fincas de Masaya. Yo tengo muchos recuerdos buenos de mis primeras meses en Nicaragua, y yo no puedo decir gracias tantas veces a la gente que lo hizo posible.

LagunaDeApoyo

Hablando de los recuerdos, el próximo (y el tercer) departamento que visité fue Carazo, al oeste de Masaya. Yo no pasé mucho tiempo en Carazo (yo sólo fuí a San Marcos, Diriamba, y Jinotepe), pero yo fuí por primera vez el 15 de agosto. Por eso, yo no tengo muchos sentimientos de Carazo, pero lo que vi me pareció similar a las ciudades de Costa Rica, con calles limpios y aceras hecho de baldosas. No fue nada especial para mí, porque yo sólo vi las ciudades y no la naturaleza. Este departamento fue el hogar de mis amigos en el sector de medioambiente durante el entrenamiento, pues tal vez iríamos a regresar en el futuro.

Al este de Carazo y Masaya queda Granada, el cuarto departamento que visité en Nicaragua. Granada es uno de los lugares más turísticos en Nicaragua, y no me gustó la ciudad por eso. Sólo tiene restaurantes y bares por muchos lados, y me sentí xenófobo por la gran cantidad de extranjeros allá. Me gustó el tour de las isletas (en que una persona puede ver los monos muy bien), pero no fuí a ningún otro lugar bonito en la ciudad. Sin embargo, yo fuí al departamento por primera vez al Volcán Mombacho el 17 de septiembre (de que la vista arriba de este blog vino). Subí de pie con mi hermano anfitrión por no gastar dinero en el bus ($20 por cada extranjero), ¡y descubrimos tan difícil es! El camino tiene un cambio de altura de 1.300 metros y una distancia de cinco kilometros, pues caminamos por cinco horas para subir y bajar el volcán. Hay un sendero arriba que me gustaría hacer en el futuro, pero no lo hicimos por estar cansados. Mombacho tuvo una vista del Lago Cocibolca (Nicaragua) y todas las isletas de Granada, y fue mi parte favorita del departamento. Todavía es el único volcán que he subido en mi vida, y yo estoy contento de no hacer otro. ¡Qué duro fue!

Moviendo al norte por un segundo, el departamento al norte de Managua es León. León es conocido más que todo por su catedral y su ciudad capital, y con razón. Yo fuí a este departamento, mi octavo, el 14 de octubre, y me gustó la ciudad más que cualquier otro lugar en el Pacífico. La ciudad es una de las más grandes en Nicaragua, pero no se siente que es. Hay un gran parque central contiguo con la catedral, y varios lugares alrededor de la ciudad (incluyendo este parque) tienen estatuas de leones, bancas, y arte para disfrutar. Por la noche, la catedral está ilumbrada por luces de varios colores, y el ambiente del parque es hermoso (pero claro que sí es peligroso ir a muchos lugares por la noche en una ciudad de este tamaño). Hay varios restaurantes en la parte central, y vale la pena explorar las tiendas pequeñas cuando las vea—yo encontré y compré libros (un tesoro que es casi imposible encontrar en Nicaragua) en una tienda de ropa. Los clubes son muy activos por la noche, pero no fuí y realmente no sé cómo son. Hay varios mercados en León también, con comida, ropa, joyería, arte, zapatos, y un montón de cosas que no puedo recordar. Hay un centro de comercios también, y el centro tiene un cine si quiera ver una película. Yo no tuve tiempo para hacer mucho de eso, porque yo sólo pasé una noche en León, pero compré en un mercado dos camisetas que todavía me gustan mucho y que sólo me costaron 230 córdobas juntas ($7-8). Una cosa para notar ahorita sobre mercados y tiendas en Nicaragua es que tiene que regatear o negociar para los precios más favorables. Se me olvidó hacerlo cuando compré las camisetas, pero los precios normalmente son más caros que tiene que pagar al inicio. Combinaciones de cosas diferentes y de cantidades más grandes de la misma cosa siempre ayudan el poder del comprador, y yo recomiendo pedir precios más baratos antes de comprar frutas, verduras, ropa, zapatos, o cualquier otra cosa que quiera. Nota que este proceso no aplica en los supermercados, sin embargo, y normalmente no aplica en una pulpería tampoco, porque los precios son fijados al inicio. Es un arte que necesita practicar para hacer con mucho éxito, pero eso es basicamente todo el consejo que puedo ofrecerles sobre las compras aquí. Y porque yo sólo vi una parte de León en mi noche allá, es todo lo que puedo decir del departamento también.

El último y decimo departamento que yo vi durante mis tres meses de entrenamiento fue Rivas, ubicado a la frontera con Costa Rica, al suroeste de Nicaragua. Este departamento es más conocido por sus playas y por Ometepe, la isla al centro del Lago Nicaragua. San Juan del Sur es uno de los lugares más turísticos en Nicaragua, y por eso, yo no lo conozco. Rivas es un departamento bien poblado, y la capital tiene varias universidades (más que todo técnicas). Caña de azúcar es una cosecha grande allá, y puede ver las fincas de caña si viene a la capital desde Granada o el noreste. Como Río San Juan, Rivas tiene muchas conexiónes al agua y tiene ocasos muy hermosos por eso. Un puerto importante en Rivas es San Jorge, y yo fuí allá con mi familia anfitriona el 4 de noviembre. San Jorge es el puerto que ofrece un ferry a Moyogalpa, la ciudad al oeste de la Isla de Ometepe. Sólo estábamos planeando a ir a San Jorge ese día que fuimos, pero con la isla tan cerca, yo tuve que ir, pues fuimos. El ferry costó 50 cords por cada persona cuando fuimos, y duró una hora y cuarto.  El viaje fue carísimo por los taxis, y sólo pasamos una hora en la isla por el horario de la familia, pero vale la pena ver la isla si está en Nicaragua. Es uno de los únicos lugares en el mundo (si no el único) en que hay dos volcanes en una isla en un lago (uno de que puede ver en la foto abajo), y la vista de estos volcanes es muy lindo de San Jorge y de la isla. Nosotros fuimos a una playa pequeña que se llama Charco Verde, y el agua fue riquísimo y limpio allá. Hay termas al centro de la isla y varios lugares para ver los volcanes, los animales, y la naturaleza de la isla. Muchas personas les gusta subir Volcán Maderas, pero hay cosas para cualquier gusto que tiene. Sin embargo, una recomendación mía es que evite el hielo por todas maneras (y no solamente en Rivas, sino en todo el país). Puede ser que solamente fue el caso mío (o no fue por el respado), pero yo compré un respado (un postre que consiste en hielo con un jarabe dulce) en San Jorge, y yo estuve tal vez lo más enfermo que he estado en toda mi vida después. Así terminó mi aventura en Rivas, pero me gustaría regresar a Ometepe y explorar más si yo tengo el tiempo y el dinero.

VolcanoConception

Y así es mi primer blog sobre la belleza de Nicaragua. Estoy feliz que yo puedo compartir un poquito de la cultura y geografía de este país con ustedes, y espero que todos ustedes les hayan gustado mis primeras experiencias en Nicaragua. Nunca puedo ver y compartir todo lo que hay en ningún estado, departamento, o país, pues espero también que este blog haya dado a Nicaragua la justicia que deserva. ¡Vuelvan pronto para más departamentos y la próxima historia de mis aventuras aquí!

Peace Corps Poem #1

Click the link the find the “Despacito” parody I made about my PC training experience!

Hey there, lovely readers!

I know it’s been quite a while since my last post, but I assure you that I’ll have a great update for you next month, full of cultural impressions and travel suggestions based on my first three months in Nicaragua.  Sit tight; I promise you’ll love it when I have enough material to write it.  For now, I’ll give you the first and only poem I’ve written so far during service, and though you surely won’t understand all the references, I hope you enjoy the creativity nonetheless (or love it all if you’re from PC Nicaragua!).  The poem is based on the same rhythm as Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.”  I don’t think any more needs to be said.

Nica’sGringos

 As always, thanks for reading, and safe travels!  Write you again in November! 🙂

p.s. This is a fair disclaimer that the term “gringos” in my poem only refers to foreigners in general, since I know we have mixed races in our group.

Flying Through Florida

A short review of the three-day span I spent in Miami, Florida, for my Peace Corps staging event.

Hey there, lovely readers!

I hope you’re doing well as we move into the second week of September!  I know it’s been a while since I made a post, but this is my first one as a Peace Corps trainee in Nicaragua.  I plan to post about my experiences here before too long, but I figured I’d start with a slightly delayed blog about Florida, the state of our pre-departure staging in August.

Florida became my 43rd U.S. state on August 7th, though I really didn’t see much of it in my three days there.  The flight in allowed me a lovely view of the sea city of the South, Miami.  I was amazed at how the city was split in parts by the bays and shores of the Atlantic Ocean, like a cerulean iris split by the metropolitan pupil of Miami’s suburbs.  The flight went without any problems or complaints, and I was able to catch Logan on the way there, thanks to Delta’s complimentary services (note that I’m not sponsoring/sponsored by Delta at all; I simply appreciate their flight services).  When I landed in Miami, I found the public transit very easy to navigate, and I took the metrorail to my hotel very efficiently.  We spent most of the next 24 hours in the hotel for training and sleeping, but at the end of the second night, we had time to explore Miami and Miami Beach (shoutout to Peace Corps for the funded excursion!).  We ate at a couple restaurants while we were there, and I enjoyed both the Mexican and marine cuisines I found.  On the second night, I opted to check out Miami Beach with a group of my fellow trainees, and after some meandering and Uber rides, we swam in the ocean for a bit before heading out to dinner.  I don’t like beaches or oceans usually, but I enjoyed myself and even went for a short jog on the beach.  Miami Beach is certainly clean to tour though, and the hotels/resorts there are incredibly nice and fancy.  We grabbed supper in a pizza place, and we basically ended the night by heading back to the hotel and heading out the next morning.  It probably wasn’t a very great perspective of Florida as a whole, but it wasn’t my least favorite state by any means.

Stay tuned for reflections on my training sometime in the next couple months!  I’m about one month in now, so my first post will include some first impressions of culture, geography, and infection here in Nicaragua.  Until then, happy reading and safe travels! 🙂

Carry Me

Click the link for a short poem about the power of travel and wanderlust.

I’m back with another new poem!  I wrote it in the same adapted Forlorn Suicide style as My Short Guide to Prevent Suicide, but with far fewer stanzas.  This is probably my last one before I depart for the Peace Corps, and it’s just a short piece about wanderlust as an escape from life.  I just finished it tonight, so I hope you enjoy it! Happy reading, and take care! See you soon from Central America! 🙂

CarryMe

Minnesota

Bits and pieces about the northernmost reaches of the American Midwest.

Hey there, lovely readers!

Today I have the final update from my older travels—this piece will bring us up to date on where all I’ve been, so everything from this point on will be “live,” so to speak, and (hopefully) include more pretty pictures!  Surprisingly, with as much as I’ve been to Minnesota my whole life, I’ve never really retained any photographic evidence of how beautiful the state is, so please do Google the places and landmarks as you read about them.  Without further ado, here’s my state #2!

Like Iowa, I will describe Minnesota by traveling across the state to the different places I’ve been.  Minnesota is a larger state than most though, so I actually haven’t seen a decent portion of it.  Most of the really picturesque locations are close to the Canadian border, so please do conduct further research if you want to see the raw parts of Minnesota.

The culture of Minnesota is very similar to that of Iowa, My Home.  Most people have some sort of Scandinavian or German heritage, though Minnesota does have a fair share of Native American areas as well.  Both the Chippewa and Sioux tribes have history in Minnesota, and both cultures can be seen in certain areas.  Minnesotans are also quite reserved, like Iowans, but they are outgoing and fast-paced as well.  Anyone from around here will tell you that the difference between an Iowan and a Minnesotan is about as drastic as that of someone from a different country—you don’t want to confuse the two or group them together.  However, cultural pastimes and holidays are almost identical in the two states, and the only difference in weather is that Minnesota tends to get more snow in the winter, sometimes measurable in feet, rather than inches!  Minnesota also has much greater cultural diversity than does Iowa (with many immigrants from countries in eastern Africa and Central America), and it has an especially mixed metro area near the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul).  It is becoming so popular and diverse, in fact, that it is often referred to as the next Seattle or similar city.

Minnesota is called the land of ten-thousand lakes, and it becomes pretty apparent why as you drive across the state.  Like Iowa and most of the Midwest, Minnesota used to be completely underwater.  While millennia have passed since this was the case, the evidence of such geography still lingers in the rich biomes of marshland and forest throughout the state.  Let’s look at where all I’ve been, starting in the west and moving east.

I-90 is the main interstate that runs east-west in southern Minnesota.  From the South Dakota border to the intersection with I-35, there really isn’t anything worth stopping for, so I’ll save you the time of discussing it.  Near the North Dakota border, though, I-94 leads from Fargo, ND, to the Twin Cities, in east-central Minnesota.  Moorhead, MN, and Fargo, ND, are connecting cities, and they have a very similar feel.  I-94 leading up to the two can be a bit of a boring drive, to be honest, but it does offer a good look at all the lakes and relative barrenness as you start to enter northern Minnesota.  The scenery is pretty similar until you reach the cities, so I’ll again save you tedious details.  Slightly west of the cities and still to the north lies Onamia and the area near Mille Lacs Lake.  Like my trips to South Dakota, Oregon, and Michigan, this was the spot for my college cross country team’s season opener one year.  Onamia was where we traveled in 2016, my senior year, and it was a neat location to stay.  The bugs were absolutely horrid in late August, since there’s so much water nearby, but the lakes are almost unending and, therefore, rather entertaining for fishers and boaters/kayakers alike.  Onamia is about the north-south point where Minnesota’s red-chip forests start, so anyone who enjoys hiking and camping near rivers in the woods should head north of there.

Moving back to the south, Mankato is the only other noteworthy town I’ve been to west of I-35.  It is a college town, and it has plenty to see, do, and eat, as a result.  It definitely doesn’t feel crowded or pompous, as cities sometimes can, however, because Minnesota simply isn’t populated enough to sustain a city with that feel.  Mankato leads southeast to the gravel backroads and small farm towns associated with southern Minnesota and northeast to Waterville and the Sakatah trail/lake system.  Albert Lea is the first real “hub” for anyone coming up from Iowa, but it’s certainly nothing to travel to see.  Basic restaurants, lakefront views, and movie theaters are all you’ll find until you reach Owatonna and Medford, and, even then, strip malls and discount stores are the only real attractions.  I-35 will take you north to sprawling Minneapolis, and beyond that, to Saint Paul and northeastern Minnesota.

Minneapolis is the nightlife of Minnesota.  It’s where all the major malls (such as the Mall of America), bars, clubs, restaurants, sports fields, and high-rise condos are in the state.  It attracts all ages of people, but it is becoming increasingly attractive to people in their twenties and thirties, if they can afford it.  As far as cities go, though, Minneapolis is cheaper than Seattle, Chicago, or New York, so it fits the budget of those desiring a metro area.  I personally enjoy Minneapolis, and I wouldn’t mind living there at some point in the future.  It offers a good location for driving to northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, or even Canada, yet it’s still far enough away from any other major cities to be dirty and crime-ridden.  Saint Paul serves as the business side of the Twin Cities, for the most part, and it houses more of the office buildings, residential stretches, and skyscrapers, with less of the entertainment venues.

Returning once more to southern Minnesota, I-90 travels east to Austin, Rochester, and into Wisconsin, near La Crosse.  Austin is where my mother is from, so we often visited when I was a child.  The town is pretty typical of bigger Minnesota towns, with restaurants and parks to visit all over.  I would consider it a cleaner and larger version of Albert Lea, and I wouldn’t recommend driving specifically to Austin for a vacation, but perhaps stopping by along the way if you’re in the area.  Rochester is even larger and boasts some pretty quality medical school training/preparation, but I would again only stop there for the mall or for friends/family you might have nearby.  Winona is slightly smaller but borders Wisconsin to the east, and it was the very place I crossed into Wisconsin when I was younger.  Bluffs and the Mississippi River are a couple of the attractions to Winona, and the University in the city is recognized for its teaching degrees.

Switching back to northeastern Minnesota, I saved the best I’ve seen for last.  I traveled up to Lutsen with a student organization in high school, and I really enjoyed the route we took.  Once I-35 moves north of the Twin Cities, it heads east toward Duluth.  Duluth is a pretty neat college town, and it separates the more populated part of Minnesota from the more raw and natural part.  I recommend it as a place to stop for lunch or a quick look at Lake Superior if you’re heading farther north.

Lutsen is part of Superior National Forest, and I would consider Superior to be one of the more enjoyable National Forests (along with those in the Appalachians and the Pacific Northwest).  The campground at which we stayed had redwood-chip trails everywhere that led to incredible rocky lookouts over the lakes and rivers nearby.  The forests in northern Minnesota are generally pine forests, but there’s usually a good mix of oak, maple, and other assorted trees in there as well.  I strongly recommend northern Minnesota over almost anywhere else in the U.S. if you’re looking to camp for more than a single night.

We slid down the alpine slide in Lutsen (like the Olympic bobsled, but with only one person and no snow), and then we headed a ways west on our return journey, to look at the iron ranges that used to be heavily mined.  We toured an old mine shaft in either Hibbing or Mountain Iron (I honestly don’t remember which), and then we came back home.  I definitely found Superior National Forest to be my favorite part of Minnesota, both during that trip and in all my ventures to the state during my lifetime.  The two must-see spots are definitely that forest and Minneapolis.

I hope that this blog post inspires you to check out Minnesota, and I hope that you enjoyed reading about what all I’ve seen in the state.  Let me know if there’s somewhere else in MN I need to go; I’ll probably be making it farther north when I venture into Canada in the future.  Until next time, happy reading and safe travels! 🙂

Oregon

A recounting of my week in the lower PNW.

Hey there, lovely readers!

Today, let’s take a trip back in time, to August 2015.  Like my journey to Michigan & Wisconsin, my time in Oregon was part of my college cross country experience.  To start my junior year, we spent a week in western Oregon and trained along the beach, and I’d like to recount it as best I can for you.  Sorry for the absence of pictures; I’m always trying to get better at taking more while traveling!

First off, let me start by saying that I think Oregon is overrated.  I might be a bit cynical and unappreciative of its natural beauty, I suppose, but I would strongly recommend Washington as an alternate destination for someone looking to experience the American Pacific Northwest.  With that said, I hope you still enjoy what I have to say about Oregon and perhaps even make the trek yourself, if for no better reason than for the thrill of travel and adventure.  Without further ado, here’s what I remember:

Our journey began with a sickeningly early morning (like 3:30 a.m., if my memory serves correctly).  We drove from our college campus in eastern Iowa to the Des Moines airport, and we left for our layover in Denver, Colorado.  At this point, I had never been to CO before, so it became state #19 for me.  I have been back to the airport twice since that flight, once on the return journey from Oregon and once when I flew to Seattle a couple years later.  Most people would argue that an airport doesn’t count as having been to or seen a state, but I would argue that I’ve spent more time in the Denver airport than I’ve spent in some states I’ve driven through.  Regardless, we made it to the Portland airport after a few hours of layover and subsequent flying, and Oregon became my 20th state.

Portland had a strangely suburban feel for me, rather than the super-populated feel I normally get from large cities.  It almost felt less populated and less-developed than other cities I had been to, but it still had the sort of charm that only a metro area can have.  We quickly left it behind after we grabbed sandwiches at Subway, however, and we headed southwest, toward our campground in Florence, OR.

As we flirted with the Siuslaw River and accompanying forests between Portland and Florence, we were given a pretty good taste of typical Oregon.  We passed countless pine trees, both those left to nature and those used for logging, and we saw our first glimpses of the renowned river scenes of the Pacific Northwest.  Mists cleared and gathered as we came deeper into the forest, and before we knew it, we left the riverside entirely to dive fully into the mossy forest.  Our campground was decently deep in a dense part of the Siuslaw Forest, so when we arrived at around 9:30 p.m., it was pretty dark already.  We weren’t about to let that stop us, as adventurous as we were, and the whole team went for a short run before an abbreviated supper and slumber.

Like several of my other earlier travels, I don’t think I can very well keep the days of the trip straight after the first night.  I know that we spent time at the Dunes National Recreation Area the next day, but my dislike of beach scenes (I know, I’m like the only person ever…) and my recent injury to my hamstring beforehand prevented me from enjoying it very much.  Not to mention that the tide came in and pretty much ruined anything nice we had on the beach…  Anyway, the team returned once or twice later in the week, but the cripples who weren’t at 100% stayed at the campgrounds at that time.  We had a lake and trails to explore, but the water was a bit too cold to really enjoy.  And I like them slightly more than I used to, but I wasn’t very keen on the mossy trails of the Pacific Northwest at the time.

Another one of the days included a trip to nearby Eugene, home of The University of Oregon.  Eugene is pretty much the headquarters for runners in the U.S.A., so it was a treat to see the campus and run around the town for a bit.  I think Eugene was probably my favorite part of the trip, and it’s the one spot I would call a must-see for anyone going to Oregon.  The campus at the University was massive and covered in beautiful flowers (like rosebushes, right in the middle of sidewalks on campus!), and the whole run around the town was really rather enchanting.

We visited the Heceta Head Lighthouse for our annual “date night,” and I enjoyed seeing the nearby cliffs and beaches as our bus climbed toward it.  We mainly just took some pictures there, but we also had the pleasure(?) of hearing a bagpiper play for a while.  I thought the lookout was cool overall, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a sight to see near Florence for an evening.

The rest of the trip is a blur in my memory, save for the final day(s).  We drove up to McMinnville, near Portland, and ran our customary camp race for the week.  We raced Linfield College, and though the course was a bit mushy and the competition slim (no pun intended), most of us really enjoyed the experience.  The top ten finishers even received some pretty cool purple shirts, and I’m still mad that someone later sole mine out of my car in a parking garage…  Anyway, we took our happy, soggy selves to Portland and lodged in a hotel overnight before flying back to Iowa the next morning.  The trip ended rather uneventfully, and though Oregon isn’t one of my favorite states by any means, I enjoyed the experience we shared as a team and had a fond time with my stay in Oregon.

I hope this post enlightened and/or inspired you to investigate your own travels in the Pacific Northwest.  If there’s anywhere else up there I need to see, let me know!  Until next time, happy reading and safe travels! 🙂

New Mexpectations

An account of my trip to New Mexico and how it surpassed my expectations.

Hey there, lovely readers!

Since I’ve finished and uploaded my new poems I wanted to spend some time on, I can again bring you some tales of my adventures in the U.S.A.! This post will hopefully allow you to better understand New Mexico and its surprises, as well as some other states along the way.  I hope you enjoy!

My trip began from home, like most others, but this was the first time I drove somewhere to meet someone who didn’t live there.  My friend Adam (yep, the same one from my travels out west) drove down from Salt Lake City to meet me in southeastern New Mexico.  The drive was about 13 hours for him and 21 hours for me (including stops for food and fuel), so we both spread the drive out over two days to reach our rendezvous point.  My drive followed I-35 south from Iowa to Kansas City, MO.  This was my first time driving through Kansas City, and I didn’t find it as fun as large cities farther east.  I ate at a Five Guys, which you might remember I fancy from The Road to Washington, D.C., and then I crossed into Kansas and began my journey west.

Kansas was my 39th state, and I love that new states can still surprise me and go against my expectations.  I thought Kansas would be a flat, boring prairie, and while it mostly is, the stretch from Kansas City to Emporia was full of lush, green vegetation and beautiful scenery.  I hadn’t expected to like or recommend Kansas to anyone at all, but I think it’s worth the visit, just to see the change from the greenery of the Midwest to the harsh dryness of the Southwest.  It was a pretty boring second half of the day as I drove across the browner part of Kansas, but I did enjoy seeing oil derricks along the way.  I didn’t know they were used in Kansas, and it was my first time seeing them in real life.  I’ve also heard that Kansas’s sunflower fields are mesmerizing at certain times of the year, but I didn’t see any of them on my visit, unfortunately.  I stopped for the night at the Moon Mist Hotel in Meade, KS, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for lodging in the area.  It was around $50 for the night (about half of what a single room normally costs at a hotel in the U.S.), and it was kept clean and well-stocked.  Although the owners could have been a tad more welcoming, I would definitely stop here again if I didn’t have friends or family nearby.

After a longer first day (about 12 hours on the road), I took the second day to enjoy the drive a little more and prepare myself for an awesome time in New Mexico.  I crossed quickly through the rest of Kansas and the panhandle of Oklahoma (state #40) as I made my way southwest.  Oklahoma was pretty much what I expected:  a flat grassland without much to see.  Perhaps it would have been more exciting if I hadn’t been to solely the panhandle, but I still think it’s a state worth skipping.  Texas upped the ante (and the speed limit) from Oklahoma, with a relatively short drive there as well.  Texas has the scariest roads I’ve ever driven (aside from Jocassee Gorges in South Carolina), with 75-mph limits on two-lane roads with loose gravel…  I appreciated their efficiency, but it was a wild ride for the few hours I was there.  I stopped for lunch in Dalhart, TX, and I enjoyed the Mexican food I ordered (especially the guacamole!).  I jumped back on the highway after lunch, as I was about two hours behind Adam, and promptly saw more cows in five minutes than I ever had in my whole life (perhaps combined?)!  Dalhart is in cattle country, U.S.A., and, well, everything’s bigger in Texas, or so they say…

The end of day two brought me into and through New Mexico (state # 41), though the drive actually kind of passed quickly in my mind.  Northern New Mexico is mostly dry and desolate, the typical picture of the American desert, which I dislike.  Spanish radio stations are available once you get to Texas and further southwest/east, though, so I enjoyed being able to feel culturally separated from what I’m used to.  As I mentioned earlier, I love when new states can still surpass (or completely unhinge) my expectations, and that’s exactly what New Mexico did.  I didn’t expect to like it, to be honest, but I thought it would be fun to visit Adam and knock out the states I had left in the Southwest at the same time.  I found that there was more than just desert in New Mexico, however, and I was enchanted (sorry, I couldn’t resist using the term from their license plates…) by the plateaus, monsoon rains, rolling hills, and evergreens scattered about.  Our rendezvous point was Aguirre Spring campground, between Alamogordo and Las Cruces, so I even got a peak at White Sands (our destination for the next day) on my way to meet Adam.  I tried to stop at Three Rivers Petroglyphs, but the monsoon rains hit just as I was about to explore, and I opted to keep driving, rather than be drenched and stuck somewhere in the desert.

I made one of my foolish decisions of the trip (maybe the most foolish?) in foregoing the gas station in Alamogordo, as I thought my car would reach 350-400 miles before needing fuel.  I usually refill right around 300 miles, but the fuel gauge is broken anyway, and I’ve only had the fuel light come on once, the first day I drove my car and ran out of fuel, so I wasn’t sure how far I could push it without running out.  I drove past Alamogordo at around 280 miles on the current tank of fuel, and I figured that if I did run low on fuel, there would be a station between Alamogordo and Las Cruces (about a 50-mile gap).  I didn’t know that our campsite was ten miles off the highway, unfortunately, so my low-fuel light turned on just as I pulled up to our campsite.  We had planned that I would pick up Adam and we would go to Las Cruces for firewood and fuel, but the circumstances made us take his car instead, to avoid running out of fuel on the highway.  All was fine, and I bought a gas can in Las Cruces (with which we were able to get my car full enough to make it elsewhere for fuel the next day), but the whole snafu cost me an extra $15 and some wasted time (not to mention we almost weren’t let back in to our campsite, since we didn’t make it back until just after 8:00!).  We made a small campfire and narrowly avoiding a lovely sounding rattlesnake while collecting wood, and then we finally relaxed for a short while before calling it a night.

We arose a bit earlier the third morning (around 7:30 a.m.) and headed out for our adventures of the day.  We started at White Sands National Monument, Adam’s favorite place in New Mexico.  The area reminded me of what I imagine the deserts in the Middle East look like, and I conceded that it was a pretty cool place to visit, even if it is just in the desert.  The featured photo for this post is from White Sands, to give you an idea of what it looks like.

From White Sands, we headed east, with a goal of visiting Carlsbad Caverns in the same day.  I accidentally took us farther north than we planned, but it actually allowed us to drive through some unexpected pine forests and Native American villages (check out Mescalero!), which I thought was the coolest part of my entire trip.  We eventually made it back on track, but we had to forego a formal lunch for the chance to make it in time.  We toured Carlsbad Caverns and narrowly avoided being hammered by more monsoon rains, and it was a pretty cool visit.  I don’t think I would hype the place up quite as much as do most people (don’t go out of your way to see it), but I do think it’s worth it to see some caves if you never have before.  The experience is almost surreal, especially if you consider that people lived in similar places at certain times in human history.  It was fun for me to visit because of my fascination with fantasy fiction (such as Dungeons & Dragons), so the caverns were almost mythical, in a way.  Anyway, before I nerd you all out, here’s a couple shots from deep inside the caverns.  Hard to imagine people discovering this without the lights we have today!

Carlsbad2

Carlsbad

After we visited the caverns, we headed back into Carlsbad, NM, for supper.  We wanted some quality Mexican food, so we ironically ended up at a food-truck restaurant, where we both ordered stuffed taquitos.  The vender is called La Patrona and is pretty good for the price, so check it out if you’re ever in Carlsbad.  Our decision for food also tied in with our decision for camping location, because we had discussed climbing the highest point in Texas the next morning.  Once we researched the peak a bit more, however, we decided it would be best to camp northeast of Carlsbad, so that I could start my eastbound leg of my journey the next morning.  We went for a short run in the desert and camped just off some ATV trails, and in the morning, we bid our fond farewells and headed our separate ways.  Adam went south to conquer Guadalupe Peak (as he has a goal of climbing the highest point in each state), while I hopped on the highway and headed into Texas.

Day four took me all the way across Texas, and while much of the state was pretty flat and bland, the day was not uneventful for me.  It was in the late morning, while driving toward Abilene, that I heard the news of Chester Bennington’s suicide.  I couldn’t really even fathom it at first, and the haunting thoughts of it ate slowly at my attention span the rest of the day.  I won’t convolute this post with my thoughts on the subject, but please do read My Short Guide to Prevent Suicide if you want to see how I responded.

I found eastern Texas to be pleasantly surprising, much like eastern Kansas.  The Dallas-Fort Worth area was a fun metro to drive through, and the closer I came to Louisiana, the greener the scenery became.  I didn’t know (but should have guessed) that Texas became more like the South as it stretches east, so I recommend the area between D-FW and Shreveport, LA, if you’re going to make the trip.  I-20 took me east into Louisiana, my 42nd and most current new U.S. state.

I admittedly didn’t see much of Louisiana, as I stopped for the night in Shreveport and stayed in a pretty small radius, but I liked what I saw and would consider the visit worthwhile.  Louisiana has a swampy feel that is pretty much instantaneous once you enter the state, and I don’t know of anywhere else in the U.S. that has the same feel (except maybe Florida?  I’ve never been there yet.).  I tried to find some authentic Cajun food, as Louisiana is the only place with French and Creole influence in the U.S., but I was disappointed to find that the place I chose was basically just fried fish.  I wasn’t adventurous enough on this journey to try the frog legs, but I think I would go for it if I returned to this part of the south.  I stayed in the Carleton Inn & Suites by Carlson, located right night to Shreveport’s airport.  The staff was extremely accommodating (shoutout to Mehul for the random discount!), and I was able to stay in a king-size single (not because I requested it; I just asked for the cheapest room) for only $80.  The room and the hotel were both very well furnished and clean, and I found the place to be a steal, even though $80 isn’t usually in my road-tripping budget for lodging.  Sometimes you have to settle for what you can find in the U.S., unless you want to drive four hours farther along your journey.  I strongly recommend this hotel to anyone staying in Shreveport, even though the elevator smells a bit swampy…

Day five was the final day of my journey, and it took me all the way from Shreveport, LA, to my home in northern Iowa.  The worst stretch was definitely the first hour in Arkansas, as there isn’t a road faster than 55 mph until after Texarkana.  Arkansas was surprisingly very green and hilly though, and I would consider it a pretty cool place to visit if it weren’t for the speed-limit hindrances.  If Texas is unreasonably fast for its infrastructure (I think it is), then Arkansas is equally unreasonably slow.  The highway took me north, through Fort Smith and Fayetteville, all the way to Kansas City.  From there, the return journey was just like the departure, and other than the watery mess of my air conditioning going out on my car, the trip home was pretty smooth sailing.

I hope you enjoyed my latest adventures, and I can’t wait to fill you in once I make it to Nicaragua! I’m only a week away from my journey with the Peace Corps, and I know it’ll be a tale worth sharing with you all.  Until then, happy reading! 🙂

‘Cause and Affect

Click the link to read a poem about helping those with depression.

This was the first of my two poems in response to Chester Bennington’s suicide (the other being My Short Guide to Prevent Suicide).  I finished this one on July 26th, while I finished the other tonight.  Written in quartets, its aim is to metaphorically instruct how to help someone struggling with depression.  I hope you find it helpful and intriguing.

Happy reading, and see you again soon! 🙂

‘Cause&Affect

My Short Guide to Prevent Suicide

Click the link to read my newest poem, an ode to Chester Bennington and combating suicide.

 

 

Hey, everyone!

I hope July has been a fulfilling month for you!  I’ve had some great ups with my travels, but I also had a rather down moment in light of Chester Bennington’s suicide.  In case you don’t know, Chester was the lead singer of Linkin Park, a popular rock band in the U.S. since the late 1990s.  I listened to their music all through my adolescence, and they were one of the first bands I liked.  I never listened closely to their lyrics or paid close enough attention, unfortunately, so I never understood until this month that the reason they resonated with me was their dark content.  I regrettably was one of the many fans who stopped listening to Linkin Park after their first couple albums, because they became too “soft.”  What I failed to recognize as a younger, less sensitive person is that the songs also became much more meaningful and honest as they decreased in audial intensity (less screams and guitar riffs, etc.).  The songs that can bring me to tears most quickly now are those from the final couple albums, and it is really tragic to me that Chester felt so trapped and pained.

Anyway, you can certainly research Chester’s biography on the internet to find out more about his difficulties in life, but I’ll digress to why you’re really here.  With tragedy comes beauty in the form of art, and after being inspired by Chester’s suicide, I wrote my first poetry since April.  I hope this piece helps you help one another, as we all need every ounce of peer support we can get.  This is every possible bit of advice I would give to someone trying to help me, so I also hope that it’s universal.  The piece is written in an adapted form of Forlorn Suicide (a style I found online and then made my own), wherein rhyme scheme and syllables are both controlled.  I’d be happy to share it if anyone wants the format.

If you find that you have other suggestions for how to help people that I didn’t include, PLEASE comment them below, so that we can spread healing to everyone who sees this.  Be kind to one another, and see you again soon! 🙂

EndTheCycle

p.s. Here’s my short-list of Linkin Park songs (purely alphabetical order) to which you should listen, to better understand.  I drew the most inspiration from these songs, and bracketed lines in the poem represent direct quotes from lyrics.

Easier to Run

Final Masquerade

Heavy

I’ll Be Gone

In the End

Leave Out All the Rest

New Divide

Nobody Can Save Me

Numb

One More Light

Runaway

Shadow of the Day

Somewhere I Belong

Sorry For Now

Valentine’s Day

Waiting for the End

What I’ve Done