It was definitely a nice contrast between where we stayed and the hustle and bustle of the city. Beijing is one of those cities which is so rich in its history and culture. It’s absolutely beautiful during the winter season. Cold, yes! But, so magical.
In Beijing, we visited the Great Wall of China. Initially I wanted to explore a section of the wall I had never seen before, but we ended up getting swindled by a tour agency we came across right next to our hotel. They piled us onto a bus full of Chinese tourists heading to the Badaling entrance (one of the most popular entrances).
We also went to the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and tasted some local street food!
I loved going to Beijing in December. There weren’t as many tourists on the Great Wall as there would be during the summer months. And, it wasn’t scorching hot.
In Beijing, you must try the duck. We went to Quanjude Restaurant. It had a very tasty and filling roast duck. Delicious! We enjoyed our experience.
Street food is also a must! While very different than a high-end restaurant, you get to try new and different things. And, I honestly have never had any stomach issues when in China. Although, I am not allergic to any foods, so if you have allergies are or wary I would recommend staying away from street food.
We used taxis and the intricate subway system while traveling around Beijing. For our Great Wall day trip, we utilized a tour agency and boarded a large bus. We sort of regretted this decision, mostly because we would have liked the flexibility of going on our own.
Transportation within Beijing is very cheap. The cost of our living accommodations = the bulk of our expenses.
Preparation before Departure
Traveling in Beijing in December required us to pack some warm clothing. Temperatures are similar to the New England area in the States.
We were prepared and brought our winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots! It was such a lovely experience!
One thing we also did was exchange some money beforehand. This way we had some cash on hand.
Hope you enjoyed reading about our Beijing portion of our honeymoon!
2018 ROAD TRIP TO MAINE & CANADA
Days 14 – 16: Tuesday, 7/24 – Thursday, 7/26
We got an early start on the morning of July 24th and headed back towards the U.S. border.
On the way back, we made a pit stop at the Walmart in Sussex, NB to use the bathroom. And, we picked up a few toys for Kai for the ride back.
This border crossing was in a different location than when we had entered Canada. It was a more direct route back to our home.Unfortunately, this particular border crossing to come back into the States took forever! It seemed like we were waiting about half an hour. And, there were only five cars ahead of us. They were a lot more thorough with their search.
When it was our turn, one agent asked us to open the trailer to see if we snuck anyone inside (across the border). Then when Michael went to go and open the door, the guy asked me several questions (typical questions).
When the other agent opened our wardrobe closet, our Dyson vacuum fell on her :/ but everything was fine after that haha.
Initially, we planned to stay overnight at the Walmart that was right over the border. We did end up stopping there, but just for a bathroom break. We also played a little badminton in a field with Kai so he could run around a little…before we headed back on the road to another Walmart that was about 1.5 hours away.
Boondocking Tales: What a horrible night’s sleep
The first time we boondocked, it was perfect! We were at the Cabela’s in Scarborough, ME. It was a quiet and large parking lot. And we had gotten there around 9:30pm, so the store had closed and it was just a nice area for us to spend the night in our camper.
This time, we chose to stay at a Walmart, with an Applebee’s nearby. This particular one was located in Brewer, ME. It was near Bangor. Boy, was it busy there!
There were so many cars coming in and out of that Walmart. It was crazy!
We thought it would slow down at night, but since this particular Walmart stays open until 12am every day, it was super busy! And, they open at 6am too.
One thing that made me so nervous, was that in the middle of the night, Stanley kept barking. I knew there was something going on, so I peaked outside the trailer, and there were two police cars outside one of the Class A’s. I was obviously being very nosy, but I was concerned they were going to kick us out of there in the middle of the night. It was around 2:30am.
They knocked on the door of the Class A, said a few things, and then they were on their way.
From then on, I could not sleep until about 6am. There were cars constantly going in and out of the parking lot. And, I even spotted a few people using the parking lot as a “Park and Ride”.
Phew! While Stanley and I were up most of the night, Michael and Kai, well Kai especially, slept so peacefully. No worry in the world. Just happy and content to be with us all:)
The next morning, I woke up around 7am. Yes, so I only got a few hours of sleep in that evening. I decided to walk across the street to grab a coffee from Dunkin Donuts.
Yes, I was THAT desperate. Many of you know that I rarely, and I mean rarely, voluntarily go to Dunkin. I got a toasted croissant with my iced hazelnut coffee. It was edible, but not fresh. I was just so tired that I needed something other than a pop tart and the coffee that I had been drinking.
I got the boys donuts and then we were on our way to Cedar Haven Family Campground in Freeport, ME. It just so happened that rain was in the forecast the last few days of our vacation. It definitely helped that we had a nice home away from home!
Our Campground in Freeport, ME
We set up shop. Then, we decided to take a little walk to explore the campground. We decided to start at the office and work our way around.
Our stay was during the weekday, so when we asked about the pizza they serve, the younger girl said they make it in house! I was looking forward to trying it. There are signs everywhere advertising their pizza.
Unfortunately, the lady at the front desk did not seem too accommodating because she said they usually only served it on Thursdays and Fridays when they have more help. Honestly, I can understand that, but there were two staff members who were standing in the office doing nothing. They were all gathered and chatting away. It was just sad they didn’t really go out of the way for us.
Home-Cooked Dinner & Dessert
Therefore, Michael cooked that night, because I get hangry. After I was fully functional with sustenance, Kai helped me make brownies! So, we got to test out our oven. It worked great! It took me a little while to figure out how to get it to light and stay lit, but it worked like a charm.
We attempted to check out Maine’s Wildlife Park, but we got there at 4:36pm. They close their doors at 4:30pm but stay open until 6pm.Instead, we went to a cool playground at an elementary school along the way. Yes, since it was summer and school vacation, we figured this was a sure bet. Kai loved playing with everything here.
This was where it happened – Michael’s first ever BEE STING! Thank God we discovered he was not allergic to them.
I might have actually captured the moment in the second picture too!
Chinese Food in Freeport, ME
That evening we ended up getting my fix of Chinese food at Li’s Place in Freeport, ME. The whole trip, we did not have any Chinese. I did make some Chinese food myself, but that just wasn’t the same:) It definitely hit the spot. That little restaurant was good for Chinese food in Maine.
Take Two: they were open this time!
Throughout our time in Maine over the past few years, we had never ever spotted a moose. Moose is featured in souvenir shops and all the signs on the roads in Maine. I was telling Michael I really wanted to see a moose.
Thankfully, the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, ME was about 35 minutes away from where were staying. We got there in the morning after I made pancakes for breakfast. They are cash only. And, I got some quarters as change from the booth so we could buy some food to feed some animals.
That day was super humid and when the sun was out, it was pretty hot too! We saw so many animals. And, we even had a chance to see a baby moose! It was abandoned in the woods, so they took her in.
We all had a fun time exploring and seeing all the wildlife that day.
Our son napping in our 30′ Airstream Classic
Cairn terrier in our 30′ Airstream Classic
Campground Play Time
In the afternoon, we decided to check out the campground a little and explore! Kai wanted to go to the playground so we did. The campground has a large play area with a basketball court and a sit-on tractor for kids to play pretend. They also have a myriad of scooters, trikes, and ride-on equipment for everyone to play with. Kai enjoyed running around and playing with two other kids that afternoon.
LL Bean in Freeport, Maine
No visit to Freeport was complete without a trip to the LL Bean flagship store. This was our (Michael and me) second visit to this location. Our first visit was back in 2014 – to purchase a large tent for our road trip across all fifty states.
LL Bean Headquarters, Freeport, Maine
Posing with the big boot, LL Bean Headquarters, Freeport, Maine
That morning we told Kai we were taking him to LL Bean, and he got super excited. Why? He says, “I want to get jellybeans!” This little character.
I picked up a pair of lightweight hiking pants in petite:) We were famished after going through the store, so we ate at the restaurant across the street called Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern (owned by Linda Bean – LL Bean’s granddaughter).
The food was okay. I enjoyed the Kelpslaw and the lemon meringue pie was so big!!!
Afterwards, we visited The Mangy Moose to check out some souvenirs. That afternoon, we decided to pack up and head back home. It was raining that day, and it worked out perfectly that Kai napped on the way back to our campsite.
We were able to pack up our Airstream while Kai napped in the truck.
Even though we didn’t get home until after dinner, it was a nice relief to be home a day earlier because we had a lot of laundry, cleaning and organizing to do!
Sixteen full days out on the road. Fifteen nights. 1,186 miles covered. Two countries. With a toddler, a dog, a Ford F-150, and an Airstream.
It was just the right amount of time. We realized we could only do one hour of driving at a time with Kai in the car. There were definitely certain products we could not live without during our time camping. Read about our road trip lifesavers!
Michael and I are making it a tradition to attend a U.S. Open event annually. This year we decided to do something a bit different than two years prior by opting a day match starting at 11am at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday, August 28th. Typically we would purchase evening session tickets at Arthur Ashe Stadium, which allowed us entry around 6pm for the 7pm start-time for the two singles matches (one for men’s and the other for women’s).
We thought, hey we should change it up a bit now that we had the free time to spend a whole week day at the open. That day was actually very hot with the sun beating down on us while we were sitting and watching the matches throughout the day. We arrived to Corona Park in Flushing Meadows, Queens at 9am, and followed the other cars to the designated parking areas, guided by traffic officers and parking attendants. Parking ended up costing us $22 for the day, which we paid in cash. We received a small ticket to place on our dashboard and walked across a grassy area to catch the free shuttle to the entrance of the event.
We did not have to wait in line long at all, even though I did bring a bag with us (so we had to wait in the “with bags” line). As soon as we got into the area, we saw an American Express booth where reps were handing out radios as perks for every American Express cardholder to enjoy throughout our time at the Open. There were commentators throughout the duration of the two weeks that would highlight several matches and other news and fun tidbits about players and such. The park is so large the crowds are unable to watch two matches at once (not unless you move from one place to another), but those radios were helpful because we were able to follow along other matches throughout the park while we were watching other exciting ones.
Louis Armstrong Stadium is the smaller of the two main stadiums, so we really enjoyed how much closer we were to the court and the players. Grandstand is the smallest of the stadiums (which is actually in the same building as Armstrong), but grounds pass ticket holders are able to watch matches at the Grandstand (so there is typically a longer wait to get into the main matches -as there are no reserved seating).
U.S. Open 2014
Us at the Open
Model for updated park
On Thursday, 8/28 there were a few headlining players at the stadium we were in that included Ana Ivanoic, Madison Keys, John Isner and Milos Raonic. Unfortunately there were a few upsets with the ladies that day, but both Isner and Raonic pulled through their early-round matches.
Throughout the day, we walked around the park and saw various matches. We also visited some of the sponsors, and even sampled Chia seed pudding snacks (which, in our opinions, were really really nasty). Why, you ask? I mean I’ll try anything, and once I took the tiny spoonful of both the mango and strawberry flavored snacks I was really unsure about the consistency and texture of it. Michael immediately realized he needed something to eat so the taste didn’t linger too much in his mouth. We both ended up tossing our snacks and getting one small mango Italian ice. Boy, was that a nice feeling on our palates! (sooo cleansing).
We ended up sharing a burger and fries and some Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (very unhealthy), but it was one of those “events” so we had a cheat day.
For dinner, my parents prepared traditional Chinese food dishes for us when we got home around 8:30pm that evening. We ended up skipping out on the last few sets of Raonic’s match in order to beat the traffic. There was another event going on that evening at Shea Stadium as the Mets were playing a game at 7:10pm so we left around that time.
Every year the U.S. Open is different because we never know who we are going to see, as it’s always a guessing game due to the tournament-style of the event. We learned that in the years to come the park will be undergoing some major construction to expand and update the stadiums (Arthur Ashe is getting a face-lift: a roof !) We can’t wait to see what’s in store in the years to come.