Fall Fun

Hey folks!

Been super busy with life at home.

Just wanted to show some love with these pictures from our recent visit to Edaville Theme Park in Carver, MA that remind us it’s autumn in New England 🍁 🎃🌽

My favorite season 🧡

Edaville theme park in the fall Jack-o-lantern decoration at edaville Pumpkins at Edaville

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Aged: 3 years

Michael and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary on 11/29. A lot has changed since we started this chapter together: we moved out of my in-laws, bought a house, got Stanley (our Cairn terrier), had a baby Kai, and recently became an uncle/aunt duo (unfortunately, we have yet to meet our beautiful niece—but we can’t wait to this weekend).

For our anniversary, we decided to take the leap to leave our 19-month old Kai and take a short trip up to Essex, VT. Michael was looking forward to going back to the Cabot Visitor Center and Ben & Jerry’s Factory. I was looking forward to taking some scenic pictures during the fall/winter. And, we both wanted to spend some quality time together, with Stanley. We have been very fortunate to have Grammy and Papa watch Kai, since they’re having their annual holiday “aunt” party this weekend:)

It was a very pleasant holiday with Stanley. He was such a good dog!

Wed night – Surf and Turf cooking academy class at the Essex Resort & Spa. It was just us, so it was very personalized, and we were able to be very creative with ingredients! Chef Dante was super nice and taught us a lot!

Thursday – had breakfast at the Tavern in our resort; went to Lake Champlain Factory in Burlington for a mini tour and had the BEST mocha ever; explored Waterfront Park with Stanley, made a pit stop at Church Street Marketplace; went back to the resort and changed, then headed to our 1.5 hour drop-in tennis class at The Edge in Essex (it was a very large sports facility with tennis courts – there are member and non-member tennis classes); went back to the hotel and got changed; went to a tasting at Citizen Cider in Burlington (amazing ciders and wonderful ambiance – had the Stan Up garlic dip and it was SO good); grabbed dinner at ¡Duino! (Duende) which we stumbled across when searching for nightlife in Burlington -it’s connected to Radio Bean which is a coffee house. I got the cheeseburger and Michael got the chicken and waffles (both were soooooo good!).

Friday – tour day! — ate breakfast at Butler’s Pantry in Stowe (not very good – definitely does not live up to all of the 5-star reviews on yelp- I got the biscuit with sausage gravy and Michael got the pantry breakfast with maple sausage and biscuit); toured Cabot Cheese Factory and sampled numerous cheeses (they are discontinuing tours starting in Jan 2018- so Dec is the last month to go behind the scenes); toured and shopped at Bragg Farm Maple Sugarhouse in East Montpelier (hard to believe they make everything and pack everything on site, the maple soft serve ice cream was very good, the workers were so nice and welcoming = we bought a lot); went to Cold Hollow Cider Mill – quoting Michael here – “their cider may be cold, but the workers are colder” i agree in a sense – it was like night and day going from Bragg to Cold = they didn’t get a lot of our business = i would skip this stop altogether…however, when we went to Boyden Valley Winery Tasting, the worker was so nice and we went in for a quick tasting – we bought a few things; Ben & Jerry’s was the final stop – just had some ice cream and skipped the tour since we had gone twice before. We had dinner at the Junction at the Essex – I definitely say they are bold, daring and try to be creative with their menu items, but when it came to execution, they didn’t fare as well…so it was nothing to rave about — and the serving staff seemed all to pompous for my palette.

Saturday – breakfast at JP’s Restaurant (i got the Irish Eggs Benedict and Michael got the biscuits and gravy- it was typical cheap diner food–most, if not all of the dishes were under $10 ); took Stanley to the Essex Dog Park; played tennis at Edge (we signed up for a class late Friday night, so the tennis pro didn’t end up showing up, so we just ended up renting a court and playing together); attended the Vermont International Festival where we ended up getting a few unique pieces from Kenya and Ghana, visited Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington (just took a free tour, which was interesting); went back to Church Street Marketplace for some dinner and additional holiday shopping (mainly we had to get matching PJ’s and found this place called Little Blue House by Hatley which had what we were looking for); and finally went for a short stroll at a park in Essex:)

We left Vermont on Sunday, feeling very “ful”filled rom our culinary tour:)

Until next trip!

Leg 2 Endings and Leg 3 Beginnings

Leg 2 Endings

These past few weeks have been more relaxing than the first leg because we had completed a lot of the legwork of planning out the campsite and hotel reservations prior to the 2-week trip.  One downfall of planning beforehand was that we did feel quite restricted and confined to what we had already planned. So we were unable to change our plans if we enjoyed one city over another.

Because we also took a different vehicle this time around, we realized that there were other considerations. One positive change was the fact that we knew for sure that we definitely over-packed during the first leg (if the Honda Ridgeline was completely packed FULL and we were able to fit everything we needed into the MINI convertible). We were proud of the fact that we were more organized in a way.

One negative (for Michael) was he really felt claustrophobic in the MINI. I felt completely “at home” and did not even need my back pillow the entire trip. I really do enjoy driving my car long distances in excess of 3 hours, because it really suits me nicely. The bigger truck makes my lower back ache a lot more when I drive a hour or so. We returned my car to my parents’ and then packed Michael’s truck on Friday, August 29th. It took us about 4.5 hours or so to get to Swansea because it was the Friday before Labor Day weekend and traffic was difficult.

Upon arrival to Swansea, MA we were really able to spend some quality time with Michael’s parents as they took us out to dinner at Ichigo Ichie in East Providence, RI. It was really nice to catch up with them before we departed once again for the next leg of the trip.

On Saturday and Sunday we met up with our friends to get some wedding tasks completed because the next time we would be back in the New England area would be one week before our big day:)

Leg 3 Beginnings

Our main goal for the third leg of the trip is to make a lot more progress to visit each of the 50 states in time for our wedding. The portion of the trip starts in MA and ends with Alaska/Seattle, WA. This could potentially include doing some intensive driving straight through states we had already been to during the first and second legs of our journey. We just need to take a day to mentally prepare ourselves for what is to come. We also just ended up booking our cruise to Alaska, so we could better prepare and plan out our route across the country.

Vermont

Our main stop in Vermont was Stowe because we had been to Killington for snowboarding lessons  (during the winter)in the past. We figured we would get some reset and explore the town this time around. So, we booked two nights at the Stowehoff Inn & Resort. The inn itself is located about 10-15 minutes away from Main Street, and it is tucked away  nestled in a beautifully lush valley where the Green Mountains were clearly visible from our hotel room. It was country-style inn and the king-sized bed had a canopy over the bed, which was also high up from the ground I had to hop on and off it. It was so comfortable nonetheless.

We have been noticing more and more Europeans and Canadians who travel in the New England region more and more! We have been hearing German, French, and Italian in various locations across our travels. In Maine we even had a couple from the U.K. approach us to inquire what Cherrystones were because they were unfamiliar with them. To tell you the truth, I had no idea what they were so I was happy that Michael quickly responded to them directly (they’re clams, if you didn’t know either).

Before we checked into our hotel the first day, we decided to walk around Main Street and check out the Visitor’s Center for ideas about what we were going to do these next few days in Vermont. We came across some neat brochures about tours to taste Cabot Cheese and, of course, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. After the Visitor’s Center, we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner. It was about 3pm when we were seated at The Whip, the restaurant in the Green Mountain Inn. We were the only ones seated indoors, so we really felt like the restaurant belonged to us! It seemed to be a more upscale restaurant and more popular for dinner reservations, but we surely wanted a sit-down place to eat as we had passed a few mini cafe and sandwich shops. The lunch menu at The Whip had some good options. Michael got the half sandwich and soup: Green Mountain Club and the black bean and bacon soup while I selected the pecan-crusted salmon with roasted vegetables, and mashed potatoes. I forgot to take pictures because we were so exhausted at that point. Oh and we also got some cool frozen drinks: Frozen Banana Mudslide and I got the Mango Mojito. Both drinks were deliciously refreshing, and when we got to our meals, they were excellent! For dessert Michael really wanted to try the restaurant’s signature dish: Sac de Bon Bon for Two, which was chocolate mousse stuffed in a chocolate-shaped bag. It was placed over a pool of refreshing strawberry chocolate sauce with whipped cream!

The next day Michael wanted to head to Cabot for a cheese tour and tasting after we did laundry at the laundromat behind the Stowe Post Office. After that, we drove about an hour to the Cabot Visitors Center. Tickets were $2 per person for the tour which included a short video about the history of the company and its transition and growth throughout the years.  Then, we had an opportunity to see cheese-making at its finest as we were in the factory where we saw them make the cheese from the milk that was gathered from its farmers.

Our favorite cheese was the Adirondack Blend of cheese we sampled, so we ended up getting a block of that for the road. We discovered that cheese does not ever go bad. The way to preserve it is to wrap it in plastic wrap and not to put them in ziplock plastic bags because mold could form from the air in the bag. I was happy to learn that we could store cheese practically forever!

After our Cabot Experience, we headed to Ben & Jerry’s which was about 20 minutes away. We had gone there for a tour the last time we visited Vermont, but Michael really loves his ice cream. So he really wanted to make it a point we hit this place before leaving the state. We ended up waiting an hour before there was an available tour. That place was jam-packed with people of all ages! I mean who doesn’t like ice cream? Michael couldn’t wait until the tour to get a taste of ice cream, so we decided to wait in the long line for the scoop shop to get our very own ice cream. There were some SNL favorite flavors and we both got a few of those to try them.

It was 5:30pm, and by that time a group of people gathered in front of the beginning of the tour area. Our first stop was the MOOvie theatre where we watched a video about the history of the company and its growth/origins. It was updated a bit from the last time we had gone there. So that was nice to see…

When we got to the flavor room, we had the chance to sample strawberry cheesecake! It was really good.

After Ben & Jerry’s we headed back to the downtown area, where I wanted to check out Art on Park, which occurs every Thursday from June to August on Park Street in Stowe where local artists, craftsmen, and vendors set up tents with their offerings for sale. It was neat to see all of the locals, and their talents in creating really cool products. I ended up finding an elegant headband that I think I’m planning on wearing on my wedding day (depending on what the hairstylist recommends, of course). It matches pretty well with my dress, and I figured I would never come across it again in our travels, so why not? We started off at the bottom of Park Street and walked up to Main, where there was a cool BBQ stand. They were barbecuing from an old Volkswagen Bug it was a CarBQ!

We decided to get Chinese takeout because I was craving for some semi-comfort food, so we brought it back to our hotel. The next morning, we checked of our hotel. Our next stop is CT for two nights to visit our friends, Luke and Amy. On our way to CT, we stopped at the Green Mountain Coffee Visitors Center in Waterbury, VT. I love coffee so I really wanted to hit this place up! To our wonderful surprise we discovered a neat and convenient french coffee press we could use to brew coffee for our trip! I was so happy because we had been without freshly brewed coffee for a month now. We would have to rely on hotels or local coffee shops to feed my caffeine addiction. My problem is that I’m quite allergic to many things in this world, and I need my allergy medicine. BUT, when I take that, I get very drowsy, so I also depend on my coffee to keep me awake! 🙂 It’s a vicious cycle, but this portable french press surely should solve my problem.

After CT, we are heading to northern NJ for some camping, and then we are are off to New York to watch the U.S. Open in Flushing…can’t wait!

Sss…spiders & snake

Yesterday seemed like one of the longest days ever. Why you might ask?

Well…it started off with us taking down our tent at the Campton Campground in New Hampshire. We were very much looking forward to our two nights in Stowe, VT that evening since we would be at a hotel. So we woke up at 7:30am and started packing up our stuff in the car. During that time, we must have killed between 50-100 daddy long leg spiders that had been taking shelter in our tent for the 3 nights we had been there. I had two buggers crawling on me! And I must have screamed so loudly, so Michael ended up doing most of the heavy lifting=putting the tent away while I supervised and kept a lookout for more critters.

After a long battle with these spiders, a bee was attacking Michael before we got into our car. We decided to make a pit-stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to get some breakfast and coffee before our 2 hour drive to Stowe. After we got our meals, I hopped into the drivers seat and was ready to drive. I went to put a straw in my Thermos cup and lifted the cup up. I SCREAMED and bolted out of the car because I was really scared to find a snake coiled up in my cup-holder. It took a while before Michael realized it was a snake. He didn’t know why I was freaking out, and I really truly thought he had planted a rubber snake in my holder because he was not flinching at all!

Michael stayed calm and decided we needed to get this guy out of our car before continuing on in our journey. He poked the spider with a straw and tried to lure him into my blender bottle, but I ended up stopping him before he could because I wanted to get a picture of it. That snake was so quick to sliver away into the dashboard before Michael could get a hold of it. We both looked at each other, and he was very mad at me for a short period of time. There we were, standing in the parking lot of the Dunkin’ Donuts. I was so scared to go into my car, and bystanders were confused as to why our doors were wide open and we were standing there. We explained that a snake got into the car and it got lost in the dashboard.

We tried numerous things: turning up the A/C and opening up the vents in the car, banging on the dashboard, opening up the hatch of the car to see if it got into the engine portion, and checking the floor constantly. We stayed there for about a half hour before we decided to just start driving to VT with the snake in the car. Michael took the initiative to drive because he knew that if I was behind the wheel and the snake came crawling out, I would surely get us into a major accident. I agreed with him.

Throughout this time, we were researching ways to get a snake out of a car dashboard online. We ended up leaving all the vents open, and just turning the heat and A/C off and opening our windows. The drive felt like an eternity, as I was extremely uneasy with there being a snake in the car.

Randomly after about a half hour or forty minutes into the drive, the snake pokes his head out of the top air vent in the car. It was looking straight at us! So, Michael pulls over on the side of the highway, and I get out. He proceeds to get his knife from the car and opens up the plastic vent cover because the snake pulled its head back underneath before we could get to it.

We ended up driving to a Walgreens and then Michael took the vent cover off, and we found him inside. I wanted to overcome my fear by attempting to get the snake out using my chopstick skills. Unfortunately, the snake was way to fast for me, and we lost it underneath the dashboard again! Michael was very mad again because he just wanted to slice it in half with his knife, but now we needed to wait for it to come out again.

After Michael drove for about 15 minutes, the snake poked its head out once again! This time, we were ready. Michael pulls over to the side of the highway, and I bolt of the car. He sits in the passenger side seat and takes his knife out. He ends up chopping off the snake’s head, and then used the chopsticks to grab the body, since it was wedged in the vent system, and throws it out onto the grassy area. It was still moving a lot after its head got cut off. I was just so happy and relieved the snake was out of the car. At the same time, we did feel guilty that we had to kill it. We did some further research as to what kind of snake it was. And, here is the link to the Northern Red-Bellied Snake, which is found throughout the state of New Hampshire. Thank goodness they are not endangered or anything!

At that time, I was so mentally exhausted…and we for sure decided to invest in a bottle of wine for the evening and just relax. Wednesday, August 20th was a day to be remembered and seemed like that really didn’t happen, but it did! The events of this day are worthy for its own blog post.

New Hampshire

After exploring family-friendly Maine, we were off to New Hampshire where we are camping at Campton Campground, part of the White Mountain National Forest.  When we arrived to our campsite we noticed that these sites were quite larger and more spread apart than we were accustomed to experiencing. This allowed for more privacy and less noise from the kids screaming and playing around. The  hot showers at this site were $2.50 (in quarters) for 5-6 minutes. So we knew we needed to get some change from the campsite host or another location.

The first evening we took a left and drove down a bit to find Waterville Valley, along a nice creek, which was about 15 minutes away. It has a Town Square which had its own grocery store, hotel, realty businesses, and various attractions, such as a small pond with boat rentals, tennis courts, an ice rink, ski/snowboarding school, and more! It is such a cute little area with hiking and biking trails leading from the center with its own information booth and post office on site.

We decided to get some Kashi bars for our upcoming hike and then take advantage of the public internet. Also, Michael and I got some ice cream at Pig Pens. He got “Muddy Sneakers” and I got a scoop of “Malt Crunch” and a scoop of “Brownie Batter” = yum! Then we were off to bed where we ended up watching “The Amazing Spiderman 2” on Michael’s laptop.

The next morning we slept in. Our first stop was along the creek because Michael wanted to fly fish a bit in the morning.  We also explored a few different hiking trails along the road to see which one we wanted to do the next day. Then, we headed into Town Square to explore the area. We came across the Mad River hiking trail, and then got some lunch. After that we walked around and headed back to the campsite for a nice run along the road. We had turkey sandwiches for dinner and then watched “Need for Speed” on Michael’s laptop.

We woke up at 8:30am the following morning and ate yogurt and fruit for breakfast and headed to The Sandwich Mountain Trail to Noon Peak, which had a beautiful overlook. It was a very steep hike up to the peak, and we were very happy to get to the overlook to have some lunch and take some pictures. At Noon Peak we could spot Mt. Washington to the Southwest. We realized that our compasses were contradicting each other because one was saying it was West and the other East. We ran into a couple at the top of the peak who also found their compass to agree with mine, but we soon realized there must have been something at the top of the peak because Michael’s compass was on his phone. We had full service at the peak and the phone’s compass also used GPS so we knew his was the most accurate one.

After the hike we wanted to put our mini Frisbee in the cache located at the parking lot of the beginning of the trail, but we were unable to locate the container. By the way, there was no cell phone service whatsoever at the base of the trail or at our campsite, so we drove back to Waterville Valley, where there is full service and free wi-fi! 🙂

We located another cache overlooking the clay courts and placed our frisbee there. New Hampshire has been checked off our list. From the cache, we took a travel bug and are planning on bringing it over to China in December because its mission was to hit all seven continents before returning back to the state of Florida. The cache has been all over the east coast and took a mini loop over to the northern coast but has not left the continent yet. So, we figured it would be pretty cool to bring it along with us in our journey.

Tomorrow we are headed to Stowe Vermont, which is about a two and a half hour drive from Campton, NH. Stowe is the only place we reserved a hotel for two nights during the 2nd leg of the trip, so we are looking forward to getting to sleep on a real bed and also being able to do some strength training at the fitness center. I feel like my muscles, especially my arms, are not getting enough at all, so I’m looking forward to working out again.

Mainely Maine

Michael and I kicked off our trip to Maine on Tuesday, August 12th after getting some much-needed rest at home. Our first stop was Portland, and we stayed at the Fireside Inn & Suites. Down the road from the hotel, there was a mall, the Maine Mall, where we decided to explore the evening we arrived. We ended up getting some hiking pants for Michael at Eddie Bauer and went on a search for mine. Because I am rather short, I needed to get a pair of petite or “short” pants. We must have checked three or four places, but had no luck. So we drove a bit further to a Cabela’s, which is rather similar to a Bass Pro Shops. It was very large, and I finally found a pair I was happy with.

Famous Dave’s Feast for Two

After finding the water resistant pants, we were famished so we stopped at a Famous Dave’s for some good ole BBQ. We got the Feast for Two and selected the BBQ Pulled Pork vs. Beef Brisket and were delighted with all of the food! We ended up saving half of the feast for later meals while camping in Southwest Harbor.

The next day we drove about 3 hours to get to our campsite, Smuggler’s Den in Southwest Harbor, ME. On our way there we headed to an L.L. Bean Outlet, and it was my first time going to one. It was HUGE! It had sections with all sorts of useful items for our camping portions of the trip. And, we decided to invest in a larger 4-person tent so Michael could stand up in it! It was called the King Pine Dome 4. It was perfect because it had an outdoor screened-in portion so we could put our chairs there in case it rained outside. It was just high enough for Michael to stand and not feel confined. He also decided to get a hatchet to chop firewood. So we were very happy with our purchases.

The first night we got there it rained into the next morning. That evening we wanted to explore the Southwest Harbor area to see if we could find food. We came across the Quietside Cafe and thought it looked really cute. We ended up getting the seafood pizza which had lobster, crab meat, and shrimp sauteed in garlic. It was so yummy! And we topped it off with some blueberry pie with blueberry ice cream.

I noticed there was a bus that came through the campground area and inquired within the campground office to see how it worked. I discovered it was a free bus that went all over the area, including downtown Bar Harbor and through Acadia National Park. So I convinced Michael to take it with me downtown. It took a half an hour to get down there. And, the bus was actually very crowded so we had to stand the entire time.

As we got up there, the sun peaked through the clouds, and it was beginning to look like a beautiful day! We were very fortunate that it cleared up…just in time too! We ended up heading to the small shops and got our moose magnet. We also placed our Frisbee in a cache which was along the rock wall facing Bar Harbor Isle. It took us a while to locate the cache because it was so well-hidden behind the rocks, but we finally got it! After we got back from Bar Harbor, we decided to check out Echo Lake because there was a trail leading from our campsite directly to the lake. We went for a light trail jog, and it was about 2.5 miles round-trip. It was so nice to see the serene lake, and then take some pictures.

The next day we decided to hike up to Cadillac Mountain. We did the South Ridge Trail, which was 7.2 miles round-trip. It was a different landscape because we were not used to hiking with mostly roots and rock underneath us. But it was actually really neat to go through the woods and then come to an open area on top of the mountain. It was a beautiful day with clear skies. We got to relax a bit and eat our packed lunches: two hard-boiled eggs, some sunflower seeds and two pink lady apples. Yum! We just laid on the mountain for about a half hour and headed back down. We were exhausted after that hike so we slept pretty well afterwards.

The last day we were there, we decided to head back into the downtown area. We got to sleep in a bit so we were well-rested to explore the town again. We wanted to see the sand bar when it was low-tide so we got there just in time. It was so cool to see and there were so many people just wandering on the other island. When we got there it was already too late to get to the other island, but we ended up walking across the bar a bit and took some pictures. Before we knew it the tide already started coming in, so Michael piggy-backed me across the the water because he had his waterproof hiking shoes on and I had on my sneakers. We then discovered the Shore Path, which is similar to the cliff walk in Newport, RI, only without the cement boundaries.

After we got back, we decided to head to Beal’s Lobster Pier where we had our lobster dinner with a baked potato and a corn and crab chowder! It was pretty fresh because we got to select our own lobsters to get steamed…yummy! That was a nice way to end our trip to Maine. The next morning, Sunday, August 17th we packed our belongings into the MINI, and were were off to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for three nights.