My View of the United States


From June 22 until July 1, I took a Cross-Country trip from Chicago to California, and from California back to Chicago. I’ve blogged about photos, highlights, and experiences, which you can view on the Traveling Beyond category. This post, however, is a culmination of everything the trip meant to me. It was my first time leaving the East Coast, and boy, has my life changed because of it…

The first part of our trip was a plane ride from Bradley to Chicago. I hadn’t been on a plane in 11 years, but I  really enjoyed it (despite having a fear of heights and the window seat). I was just amazed by the clouds- being over them, in them, and through them. And then, being completely over every cloud, to see nothing but a clear, blue sky, was fascinating. When we weren’t engulfed in clouds, I could see massive rivers (not to mention the massive Lake Michigan), miles and miles of forest and fields, and then coming into Chicago, miles and miles of city. The landscapes changed so quickly, and they differed so much from the type of life I’m used to. The plane rides I took on my trip were something completely different, especially when we took a night one, and saw nothing but endless city lights. It’s a totally different perspective. Throughout the trip, I kept thinking, “Wow. This is my country.” 

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I do have to say, though, that the best part of the trip was the Grand Canyon. In transit to the canyon, though, I was very intrigued by the wildfire happening just outside our window- the smoke from it alone was fascinating (though that’s all we could see of it).

Grand Canyon, sweet canyon. You don’t see anything like this, anywhere. We stayed on the rim, but the scale of the cannon was massive- and to think that it goes on for 277 miles? Wow. The only words that came to my mind were, It’s so beautiful. 

I speak about tear jerkers on this blog a lot- songs, books, but the Grand Canyon is one too. Just the way the colors and layers of rock blend together, and the fact that Nature created all of this… it’s like a blessing from above.

Pictures could never do it justice- you have to see, in person, the endless canyon that fades off into the horizon, the Colorado River that looks massive even from a mile up, and the infinite gorges and hues that make the Grand Canyon, well, the Grand Canyon. Continue reading “My View of the United States”

Welcome To The New 12 and Beyond!

Good morning! Welcome to the new home of 12 and Beyond:!

Of course, that’s only the beginning: I’m sure you’ve noticed, but 12 and Beyond looks completely different too. With a new design, new graphics, and so much more, I’m not sure where to begin.

So let’s start with the biggest change: the theme. Believe me, I enjoyed writing with Hemingway Rewritten, but it eventually ran its course. I wanted something a bit more professional, streamlined, and simpler. And so, I came across Lovecraft, the theme you see now, and put my own 12 and Beyond spin on it with new colors, fonts, and layouts.

Continue reading “Welcome To The New 12 and Beyond!”

Project: 12 and Beyond Announcement

I’ve got big news. 12 and Beyond is about to go under a major overhaul starting this Saturday, and I have all the details of what the update will include below. I’m really excited!

Before I get to that, though, I’ll be releasing specifics as far as the update process in a later post this week, just know this: 12 and Beyond will TEMPORARILY become private around 9:30 am EST this Saturday, so don’t be alarmed. You won’t be able to access 12 and Beyond at all. No worries though- 12 and Beyond will reopen the following Saturday (around 9:30 am as well) and the updates would be complete.

At this point, I am unsure whether I will be able to purchase a domain at the time. So, next Saturday, visit the same domain you’re used to ( and either:

a) You’ll be redirected to 12 and Beyond’s new domain (if I purchase the domain), which would be

or b) The domain will be the same as before the update, and you’ll still arrive at the same website.

This way, no matter what happens as far as the domain, you’ll still get to the right place.

I have so many things that are coming in this update, but here’s an overview:


Goodbye, Hemingway Rewritten.


So long, #83cccc.


You’ll see.


For everything- and I mean everything. The new ones are of either of my own creation, or they contain un-copyrighted images (I’ve verified this) instead of the probably copyrighted ones found on the internet which you see now. There’ll be new graphics for posts, pages, and the sidebar. Which leads me to…


A new post calendar, new reorganization, and more.


Not only graphics- I’ll be updating the content of my pages too.


I have 2 more posts arriving soon after the update regarding my trip.


More details after the update.


Which I’ll share after the update.

I’m really excited- there are major changes in store for 12 and Beyond.

Like I said, the official update times and procedure for the update will be released at some point this week. I can’t wait for you to see the new 12 and Beyond!

Thanks for your support!



In Tune: I’m Forrest… Forrest Gump

InTuneAs you could probably tell from my Kiss the Rain ‘In Tune’ edition, I love piano melodies, and this week’s In Tune feature is also one.

While on my Cross Country trip, I listened to a lot of pop music. But, as with everything, some things started to wear out, and especially on the train for long periods of time, sometimes, you just need some calming, relaxing music to refocus you on the trip and the landscapes just outside the window. If you want to read more about and see pictures from my cross country trip, I’ve grouped many posts into the ‘Traveling Beyond’ category.

Though I didn’t exactly listen to this particular song while on the train, I quickly downloaded it from Apple Music when I got home, having recently started watching the movie. Please click “Continue Reading” to read more about this week’s In Tune feature.

Continue reading “In Tune: I’m Forrest… Forrest Gump”

Chicago Photo Gallery

To finish up the cross country trip I took in June, we stayed in Chicago for a few nights. It was a fascinating experience, and I took many photos, especially of Chicago’s architecture. I’ve put together a photo gallery for the Chicago portion of our trip below. Enjoy! (Also: if you want to read about our time in Chicago, visit here.


Thank you so much for reading my stories of my cross country trip. This is it for photo galleries and highlights! I have two more posts to share, but they’ll be releasing in the coming days, as I transition into a normal post schedule.


Photo Gallery: Plane & Train Part 2

The photos that you see below correspond to the highlights found on this post. While taking these pictures, I was either on our return train (California Zephyr) or our return flight (American Airlines- flight #3 of trip). Enjoy!


Cross Country Trip Highlights: June 28 – July 1

The iconic entrance to Navy Pier with the Centennial Wheel in the background.

Good evening! I thought I’d share the last 4 days of highlights from the Cross Country trip I recently returned from. These highlights mostly encompass time on the train, the plane, and in Chicago, and I’ve grouped them by day. Enjoy!

June 28

On June 28, we continued with our return to Chicago on the California Zephyr train. For today, we passed through Colorado, seeing places like Grand Junction, Fraser, Boulder, and Denver. While we mostly saw similar agriculture to that of the first part of our trip, one particular piece of scenery was very different: the Great Plains. Endless trees and grasslands that faded into the horizon created a stunning view (pictures to come very soon). Denver was also a highlight, being able to see the capital of Colorado. In comparison to some other states, parts of Colorado were very flat (Tornado Alley!), while there were often mountain ranges in the background.

June 29

On June 29, we finished our journey on the train. We didn’t see much, but we did pass over the Mississippi River. From the width of the river to the currents below us, I can definitely see why it’s called the ‘Mighty Mississippi’.

Later that night, we arrived in Chicago. We checked into our hotel, and we ate at Gino’s East. I suppose I could call this my first taste at authentic Chicago Deep Dish pizza. The graffiti on the walls and chairs added a very unique atmosphere to the restaurant, too.

June 30

Today was our big day in Chicago- we bought online passes and planned for a day of being good ol’ tourists. We did get to see Chicago from the John Hancock Building, and we took a bus tour around the city, but what I enjoyed most was the architecture tour. First off, just by traveling by river, you get a completely different perspective on the city.

But to learn about the history of the designers and of their buildings, and how they contribute to the history of Chicago, it was fascinating. After seeing some particular buildings, I was amazed by the intricate works of art that these buildings are, and the amount of design and technique needed to design and build one. Personally, my favorite style of buildings were the glass-faced ones (all-glass), and especially ones that had tints to them, like three blue skyscrapers built around the same time (recently) that were curved, built in a y-shape, and one that was rectangular but very interesting (pictures to come).

One other highlight of the day was going to Navy Pier. Yes, it’s one of the most iconic parts of Chicago, one that every tourist needs to go to. We didn’t spend much time there at all, though. We rode once around the Ferris wheel and left, walking all the way the the Bears stadium. If there was any benefit, though, it was that the Ferris wheel provided spectacular views of the Chicago skyline.

July 1

Return day! In the morning, we boarded an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Connecticut. Like the other flights I’d taken this week, I was still amazed at the clouds, the ground, and the horizon. It’s beautiful from up there.

Tomorrow, I’ll try and post the two corresponding photo galleries. And, either tomorrow or Monday, I’ll be releasing a very special post that lives true to the tagline of 12 and Beyond: My View of the World. Look out for all three of these posts!

Thank you for reading! Have a great night!


Los Angeles & San Francisco Photo Gallery

Hi there! I have another large photo gallery for you. Want to find out what all of these pictures are about? Read the highlights post that goes along with these pictures here.



More highlights and pictures to come tomorrow. Thanks for reading!


Cross Country Trip Highlights: June 25 – 27


Hi there! Before I share another photo gallery later today, I wanted to share my stories of our stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and aboard the train. I’ve grouped them by date, so please enjoy.

June 25

After passing through towns like San Bernardino and Fullerton, our train (Southwest Chief) arrived in Los Angeles Union Station. There isn’t much to tell up until we arrived at the Dodgers stadium. I’m sure, in different circumstances, I would have enjoyed the game a lot more, had we not had seats out in the open in 100 degree weather (in California, no matter). Even as we moved into the shade, I managed to get pretty burned by the end of the day. We didn’t get to spend much time in L.A., but we were still able to spot different aspects of well-known L.A., like the hills that everyone recognizes in Hollywood films. We didn’t get to see the Hollywood sign, though. That night, we boarded a 9:00 PST flight from LA into Emeryville, where we just stayed in a hotel for the night.

June 26

This day was particularly exciting. We took a taxi out to San Francisco, where we met up with our tour group near San Francisco bay. I was absolutely fascinated by the city. We started out by visiting something most tourists don’t get to see: The Palace of Fine Arts. The giant dome and series of pillars were originally built for the Chicago World’s Fair, and are one of the few remnants of it (though they had to remake the pillars with new material, remember: everything for the World’s Fair was designed to be temporary). You’ll get to see some pictures of it later today, but the dome tells a story: the statues of women crying represent the Great Chicago Fire, etc. It adds to the city’s very unique style of architecture.

After the Palace of Fine Arts, we went on to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which was spectacular. To be able to appreciate everything that went into building the bridge, and see it right before your eyes… wow. It was quite something to see the beams, cables, bolts, stretch out into the horizon (at certain viewpoints). Plus, later in the day, we had a crystal clear sky, which only added to the beauty of the bridge.

Seeing the Redwoods of Muir Woods was something I had most looked forward to when planning our trip to California. The Redwoods really are as massive as people say (photo tip: take a panoramic going up), and in most you can’t even see the tops. Their trunks were humongous, some almost 5-7 feet across. To think that these trees have stood for (some) over a thousand years, I couldn’t believe it. Also, the Redwoods give off their own scent, which was oddly comforting. Like so many things, you can’t describe it. One other note- when feeling a fallen tree, parts of it felt like very smooth plastic. I think it must have to do with the age of the trees, but I was so mystified and beyond impressed with what nature blessed San Francisco with.

As the final part of our day, we took the boat over to Alcatraz. It makes you think, “This is where these criminals lived. This is how they lived. Wow.” You could just imagine exactly how seeing San Francisco across the bay evoked wishes for freedom. The audio tour was so comprehensive too- the details of life and escape were fascinating.

Apart from seeing the wealthiest neighborhood (and admiring the architecture throughout- oh, and seeing the Mrs. Doubtfire house AND Johnny Ive’s house [if you know me, I’m a HUGE Apple fan] were yet another highlight) in San Francisco and walking down the Crooked Street, the last thing we did in San Francisco was enjoy an ice cream sundae at the old Ghirardelli Factory. If you end up going, I recommend you get the “Ocean Beach”, but there’s nothing wrong with getting their World Famous Hot Fudge sundae either. 🍨

Final Note: Kudos to our tour guide, Rolando.

June 27

On June 27, we boarded the train again, but this time, we’d be starting a new route: the California Zephyr. We’d be going East this time, and traveling farther North than the Southwest Chief. This time, instead of traveling Coach, we had a sleeper car! I can’t tell you how much of a relief that was. I was actually able to sleep, and that was the best.

Like other parts of the trip, we saw a lot of farm and grasslands, and lots of cattle of course. But a few other aspects also stood out. First, WE SAW SNOW. I was so shocked, but near Norden, CA, both in the mountains and on the ground, there was actual snow. I can see why skiing is so popular.

Other than that, we were amazed by the force of the rapids from the river the train was following (pictures to come). All in all, I loved seeing San Francisco.

Like I’ve said, I’ll release the photo gallery for these highlights later today, so be sure to check it out. Thank you so much for reading!