Our second stop along our journey as newlyweds brought us to the bustling city of Xi’an. The weather was cold, but not as cold as it was Beijing.
Our itinerary prior to visiting:
Prior to this trip, I had never been there before. So, I did not know what to expect. We ended up staying at the Hilton Xian, which came with a breakfast buffet. Overall, it was a nice stay.
Cost for one night: $148.70.
The main reason I had wanted to visit Xi’an was to see the Terracotta Warriors, which was outside of the main city. We ended up finding a shuttle to see the attraction. Here are some of the things we saw along the way.
After purchasing our tickets from the office, we soon realized we would be seeing a lot of statues that afternoon. Indeed we did. It was as if we were seeing warriors and horses over and over again. Although it was interesting to see the different exhibits, we couldn’t help but ponder if this type of visit was our cup of tea. We’re not huge history buffs or anything. And just seeing a few made me realize that it was more than enough.
The Journey Back
We had to find a way back to the hotel that evening, so we just listened to the ladies calling us back to the city. We took a shuttle and ended up staying in that evening because we were too tired to explore. Our hotel overlooked the city wall, so we felt as though we didn’t need to actually visit it.
Could not think of a more wonderful way to relax than to soak in the hotel’s wonderful tub!
More to come on our honeymoon in China! Next stop: Luoyang.
The beginning of December brings back lots of wonderful memories for our family.
My husband and I got married on November 29, 2014.
After our winter-themed wedding, we were off to China! Prior to this trip, I had traveled to China over ten times over my life, either with family, for pleasure, for study and for work.
This was Michael’s first trip there, and it was a very exciting time for the both of us. It was such a wonderful way to kick-start this chapter of our lives. It’s been four years since we both traveled across the world.
But, it’s December again and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.
I planned everything, from start to finish. We didn’t plan on using any tour services. Although, we ended up booking one to the Great Wall when we got to Beijing.
Chinese Visa for U.S. Citizens
One of the things we needed to do before our trip to China was to obtain Chinese visas for our U.S. Passports. The laws have changed over the years, but when in doubt, refer to the following resources:
We ended up filling out the form online (via the Chinese Embassy’s website), and then bringing our documents to the embassy in New York, NY. We lined up and dropped off our forms. Then, we get to pick it up in the afternoon with our receipt. That’s what we did.
If you don’t have the time or energy, you can pay an agency to obtain your visa for you, or you can use a mail-in service.
This portion of the trip was definitely an adventure, from navigating and eating our way through the country. One area Michael didn’t want to compromise were our living accommodations. We selected 4 star+ hotels vs. lesser known hotels. It was a wonderful decision with money well spent.
Michael loved it all. It was a different perspective, and it was such a wonderful bonding experience for us both!
After the trip, I made a Shutterfly album which I have shared below! Enjoy:)
Yes, we are Rhode Island residents. And yes, we don’t explore locally enough. However, once or twice a year, when our Cairn terrier needs to get groomed, we take the opportunity to spend some family time in the Newport, RI area.
Our Dog Groomer
Since our dog has a wire coat and my husband is very particular about how he gets groomed. And not a lot of places in the area offer hand-stripping dogs with a wire coat. We found one place and it’s located in Portsmouth, RI, called Perry’s Plush Pooch. They specialize in grooming show dogs. And while it is a hefty price to pay for our dog, it’s supposedly the proper way to groom a Cairn terrier.
Here’s some pictures of our shaggy Cairn…
and his post-groom look…
Castle Hill Lighthouse
Since our groomer requires he be brought to him by 8am in the morning and he be picked up around 3pm, we have typically gone for a day trip to Newport.
The first year we did this Kai was just getting comfortable with walking on uneven surfaces. So we just ended up taking him to a local playground and to Castle Hill Lighthouse. When we went it was a cool and beautiful day in early April, so we got some nice pictures by the lighthouse and walking on the empty beach. And, it wasn’t super crowded/full of tourists that time of year.
After the lighthouse excursion, we decided to do some shopping on Thames. Kai had his snacks in his stroller along with his milk, while walked around.
During his nap, we decided to go to a nice sit-down seafood restaurant, Mooring Restaurant. It worked out perfectly, and just as we were getting ready for dessert, our little one sat right up from his stroller looking SO ADORABLE with his cute/messy hair.
What a wonderful way to end our Newport, RI day trip before we picked up our dog.
Boston Children’s Museum Day Trip
Friday, August 10, 2018
Sometimes going on day trips and taking advantage of where your home base is, is the best way to explore.
So my husband took a guys fishing trip to Key West, Florida for about five days. Oh I’m really hoping he will write a short post about his trip…or maybe I’ll do an interview! Anyways, while he was away, I had planned a few activities to keep my toddler and me busy.
My friend Paolina and her one-year old Isabella met up with us.
We both had planned to pack our own lunches. This always takes a little time. My go-to: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches:) well I made one PB&J with the crusts cut off and cut into triangles for Kai. I also made one ham and cheese with mayo sans crust for him. I made myself a buffalo chicken sandwich with mustard, and I brought some baby carrots dipped in hummus with pine nuts (so tasty)! One thing Kai loves is his milk.
I always pack a change of clothes and underwear for Kai. And, extra shoes too! Since he was going to do a lot of walking, I made sure to put on socks and sneakers for him. I did notice there were some rooms with water, so I packed sandals for him too!
We met at the Boston Children’s Museum, and we both drove into Boston. I live in Rhode Island, so Boston is about an hour north of me. Paolina lives north of Boston, so we met in a good location.
I left my house around 10am to try and avoid the rush hour traffic into the city. It worked out pretty well!
Parking garage options are listed on their webpage. We opted for the one located at: 280 Congress Street, Boston, MA.
The rate: $20 for the day with a validated parking ticket from the museum.
Kai and I got to the parking garage around 11:20am. Paolina had just parked, so she waited for me in the elevator area while I got all of his stuff together.
Thankfully we brought our stroller with us. It was quite useful when commuting from the parking garage to the museum itself.
Once we were there it having the stroller was a little bit of a hassle, but the museum had ample stroller parking space alongside or outside of the exhibits.
This was both of our first times here at the museum.
Because I have a family plus membership to the Providence Children’s Museum I was able to get a 50% discount for up to six guests in total at the Boston Children’s Museum. You should check your local museum to see if they participate.
Our first stop after purchasing tickets was to find a lunch area where we could eat our packed lunches. We ended up having to around to the cafe (Au Bon Pain) which was to the right of the ticketing area. Food for purchase was available, but since we brought our own lunches, we just ate that. The cafeteria is a really cute space with ample high chairs if your child needs one.
We started from the top and worked our way downstairs.
There is a large construction play area, filled with trucks, tracks, and large working equipment for children to play on! There are costumes for the little ones to play dress up, and there were areas for them to climb on; bridges to walk across. It was as if you were in a large city environment in a construction zone.
We didn’t get a chance to see the Japanese House because they were doing guided tours every 15 minutes or so, and the timing just didn’t work out when we were there.
One thing we enjoyed was the large dinosaur they had on display. You were able to use the controls and push the buttons for the huge mechanical dino to move its head and arms. It also roars loudly.
The play space for kids 0-3 was a nice and contained area for the younger ones to explore and play! There were little areas for kids to play pretend and use their imagination. There is also a little playground area for the little ones to climb up and slide down. There is a scarf station that uses a vacuum.
I believe the water area is on this floor too!
To your left, after you purchase tickets, you will notice a large jungle gym. It is the same type of jungle gym/maze that the Providence Children’s Museum has outdoors.
There are a lot of sensory activities for kids to partake in. Kai especially enjoyed playing with the golf balls and rolling them down the ramps.
The bubble room was very entertaining as well. There is an interactive exercise area where kids are able to use a pulley system and pedal on stationary bike to race. It’s all about ‘energy’, and it was fun.
Right before we left, we decided to catch one of the kids shows at KidStage: Three Little Pigs. The performers were so entertaining. They asked for seven volunteers: three little pigs, three houses, and one big bad wolf.
Everyone did an amazing job.
Will we come back? It’s definitely likely, since you can really spend a lot of time here. My only concern would be how germ-infested it is during the winter months when outdoor playgrounds are of no use since it’s freezing in New England…but that’s everywhere I guess.
This museum will wear you AND your child out. Paolina and I thought it was necessary to get a caffeinated beverage from the Starbucks across the street when we left.
If you parked in an affiliated parking garage, don’t forget to get your ticket validated by the museum!
Our family recently took a road trip from Rhode Island, USA to Maine, USA and to New Brunswick, Canada in our 2018 Airstream Classic 30′ Travel Trailer. Our tow vehicle (Ford F-150).
This was our very first long road trip (over two weeks), with our 2 year old toddler and 3 year old dog. It took a lot of patience, planning, and negotiation.
In the end it was very rewarding and extremely educational for our family. We learned a lot about our Airstream, our family, our limits, and how we truly appreciate some of the things we had with us during our journey.
Let me start off by saying that this list is not EVERYTHING we packed. It’s just most, if not all, of the items we found to be extremely useful along our road trip.
This is not a go-to packing list but a resource for inspiration if you’re planning on taking a long drive with your toddler, or with your dog.
Our Fire HD8 tablet for Kai helped a lot; and we especially love the case we purchased for it. This was our third case, and it’s by far my favorite! We even have it in bright blue, so it really stands out! It was such a breeze to put onto the Fire Tablet too.
Kai especially loves the puzzle games and just watching movies/tv shows. We do only resort to the tablet when we are driving long distances, or when we go out to eat. We used it when we went out to lunch in Freeport.
Other clutch item for our travels? The OXO 2-in-1 travel potty🙂 You can stand it up so he can sit independently sit on it or use it on a regular toilet seat so toddler doesn’t feel like he’s falling in.
It was perfect for Kai, since he prefers to take his time to poop. We mostly use it as the stand-up option. And, the OXO bags are great because they have an absorption pad so it helps with excessive pee. I have also used a regular plastic shopping bag (make sure there are no holes in it). I add some paper towels for absorption. We also find the splash guard on this potty to be such a nice feature (since he is a boy, and he still pees sitting down). He hasn’t really gotten the whole aiming thing down yet 😉
While the above sippy cups by Munchkin have mixed reviews, we have been using them for Kai since he started drinking cows milk at 12 months old.
Kai was an early walker. At 10 months old he took his first step, and by 11 months he was close to running! Before he was mobile, we used the Baby Bjorn carrier (black). Prior to this trip, we simply used the stroller for long walks. But, we had planned to do some long hikes, so we decided to invest in some sort of carrier. Initially we were torn on getting a hiking carrier, but it was going to be over $200 and we were just concerned we weren’t going to get too much use out of it. I ended up finding this teal BabySteps carrier (weight max capacity 44lbs) on Amazon.com that we purchased. It worked perfectly for us and it was a fraction of the cost of a hiking carrier.
Also, this collapsible mixing bowl is very convenient when you have a large salad to serve , popcorn for a movie, or brownies to bake and need a large bowl. This one is a little pricey, but it’s a lot sturdier than the food storage containers.
Water shoes were so helpful when we went to Fundy National Park and we were exploring the rocky ocean floor during low tide. Those rocks are very hard and wearing protective footwear was important for me. I bought myself these sock-like water shoes and purchased my husband a pair of Speedos.
For Our Dog
Collapsible dog food and water bowls came in very handy while on the road. When we stopped so that Kai could use the potty, we also took Stanley out to pee. When Kai stretched his legs and ran around, so did Stanley. Then he got thirsty. So, we pulled out our bowl for him and always gave him our drinking water. We just didn’t trust the water at the rest stops or at the campgrounds (for drinking, at least).
No, we didn’t need these “EXTRA LARGE” ones for our 20 lb Cairn Terrier, but you get the idea 🙂
Another important item to have on hand when camping at sites is a sturdy and reliable tie out. We used this every time we had to set up our site and when we were outside eating, so Stanley could hang out with us.
Thanks for reading all this post, everyone. Happy travels, happy camping, and live riveted!
When my family and I took a vacation to Fundy National Park, I was obsessed with the cocktail sauce Fundy Take-Out served with its fried seafood platter.
I did some research and finally found out what it was called: Olde Style, distributed by Lynch Foods. So tasty! It was like cocktail sauce that I’m accustomed to, but with a punch. How did I find out?
I messaged Fundy takeout and asked what sauce they serve with the fried seafood platter! I finally found the brand of cocktail sauce!!! When I tried googling, I typed in old tyme and old bay kept piping up, but it was called “olde style”. Fundy told me it was oldestye, but that didn’t pop up, so I deduced it was olde style! Yippy:)
Unfortunately the company Lynch Foods only distributes it to companies, and I don’t see them selling them in stores to consumers 🙁 at least not internationally.
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!
How did we find out about this beach? Well, we noticed some cars parked on the side of the road on our way back from our day trip to Hopewell Rocks. It seems like this was one of the beaches that locals like to go to.
One of the things that attracted me to this particular beach was the soft sand.
The beaches we had been to in the area were all very rocky. This beach was very muddy, but perfect for Kai to dig in and find different creatures!
And it wasn’t crowded when we went. It also might have been due to the fact that it was cloudy when we went in the afternoon.
Waterside Beach was a wonderful place for our two-year old son to play! We had an amazing time there and were happy to have brought our chairs instead of sitting on a blanket.
2018 ROAD TRIP TO MAINE & CANADA
Day 9: Thursday, July 19th
Our family went on an unforgettable journey with our Airstream from our home state of Rhode Island to New Brunswick, Canada. This post is a small portion of our family vacation, and it is about our dinner out in Alma, New Brunswick and our campfire at our campground.
Dinner in Alma + Camp Fire
After our eventful day at Herring Cove Beach, we decided to do dinner in town (Alma, NB)! We went to Tipsy Tails = best seafood stew! It was pricey, but mostly tasty. We enjoyed the corn, the stew, and the lobster mac and cheese. The lobster poutine, however, was very bland and not worth it.
This was Kai’s very first campfire! Unfortunately, I did not snap any photos that evening to capture the moment.
After dinner in alma, we joined an older couple who had started a campfire. They were on a 3-week road trip to a wedding in Price Edward Island. They had purchased an older camper, and were really enjoying themselves. The husband brought his ukulele and was playing and singing around the campfire.
I love meeting, chatting with people, and hearing stories when traveling!
We brought marshmallows to share, along with our retractable campfire sticks. The telescoping sticks have definitely come in handy, but I do have to warn that the ends are very sharp. When we first purchased our camper at CampingWorld, our salesperson included those in our “gift bag”.
It was nice to chat with some people around a campfire and listen to some good music. Very intimate and kumbaya.
After about 20 minutes, Kai saw some kids riding bikes and chased them down. So much for our time around the fire 🙂
What a wonderful end to a great day! It’s safe to say we all slept like babies that night.