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 ūüćĀ ūüéÉūüĆĹ

My favorite season ūüß°

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

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Halloween in July

2018 ROAD TRIP TO MAINE & CANADA

Days 2 – 4
Thursday, 7/12 – Sunday, 7/15

After our action-packed first day and our first time boondocking at the Cabela’s in Maine, we drove up north to Medway, where we had booked three nights at Katahdin Shadows Campground.

The last ten minutes of the ride, Kai was not having it:( hence the crying toddler pictured above.

What made it worse was that Michael had to check into the campground and get all of our paperwork. So Kai wanted to see Daddy. Poor kid.

I did turn on an episode of Dino Dana on our Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet and that helped a lot! Kai loves watching Dino Dana. That and Curious George are two shows that definitely keep him entertained.

Initially, we had planned this route because Michael and his guy friends were planning on hiking Mt. Katahdin on Saturday. His friends were supposed to drive up on Friday, camp that night and get an early start on the hike on Saturday, camp that night and leave Sunday.

I had found a family-friendly campground. They were having a Halloween-themed weekend, so I could bond with Kai and Stanley while Michael was away.

The week before our trip, his friends all backed out from hiking.

Guess that meant more family time! As you can imagine, Michael was overjoyed to spend HALLOWEEN weekend with us in JULY!

Katahdin Shadows Campground

Staff was very friendly!

Prior to our stay, we were fortunate enough to get a call back from the campground a few days before we arrived. We were on a waitlist for a 50 amp, pull-thru site with a sewer hookup. We ended up getting it. That was such wonderful news.

I did read a review about the check in area being fairly steep for a big rig to pull into. We had no problems. But it was nice to have a idea beforehand.

The sites were all fairly close together at this campground. The playground is such a wonderful area and since it was Halloween weekend, the campground was fully booked. That meant a lot of kids!

I would definitely recommend this campground to families with young kids with an RV. It gets loud, but it adds to the community and excitement of it all.

It surely isn’t for the older couple look for a nice relaxing and quite environment or the young couple looking for nature hiking and biking; unless you are simply going to Baxter State Park for the day.

One thing to note about Baxter State Park is that it is not dog-friendly.

The staff and people here were super friendly! There are a lot of seasonal campers here and what’s great is there are also cabin rentals and just regular tent sites. Those are more private and tucked away. So, if you are someone who doesn’t have an RV and enjoy tent camping, this campground offers a very different environment, away from the noise.

Getting settled

That first evening, we decided to get some essentials: food. We asked the staff and they informed us of a local market at the gas station right down the road from the campground. It was called the Big Apple Store. They had the essentials. So, we were very happy.

We decided to take the bikes with us! Before we had Kai, we had Stanley, our cairn terrier. When we got bicycles for us, we also invested in one of these InStep bicycle trailers so that our little pup, Stanley could ride with us:)

Now that we have Kai, he can ride in it while my husband pulls him. It’s so perfect when we have sort of a long distance to go but would rather take our bikes to get there a bit faster.

In this case, we needed to purchase a gallon of milk, drinkable water and some other groceries! And we just didn’t feel like driving because that’s all we had been doing for two whole days.

The bike trailer is able to seat two kids, so it was just enough space to fit Kai and all the groceries we purchased:)

Local summer festival

On Friday, we found out there was a little festival in town, not far from the campground. It was the East Millinocket Summerfest 2018.

It was definitely a small town festival, but it was nice to participate in a local community event.  There was live music, and Kai had fun at the bounce houses!

Stanley gets to rest in the Airstream while we go out:)

That weekend was fun. On Friday evening, we did a hayride with Kai around the campground. He loved being pulled by a large tractor. He loved playing with the kids at the playground!

Then on Saturday morning we brought Kai to an exercise trail about a half an hour south of the campground. It was in Lincoln, ME. We chose that particular trail due to its close proximity to Walmart. We had pre-ordered these truck mirror attachments, because Michael informed me that each state has different laws about having towing mirrors while we towed our trailer. Kai had fun on the trail.

We then went to a park with a playground and a beach at Mattanawcook Lake. Kai wanted to play with the older girls who were swinging, so we brought our lunch there and had a picnic.

That afternoon, we took Kai trick-or-treating on the campground after his nap. Michael and I took turns taking Kai and giving out candy.

On Sunday morning, we just ate pop-tarts, packed up, and were off to our next stop.

Interested in reading more about our first RV experience? Here are our posts for our first ever family RVing experience with our very first travel trailer and our first day of travel.

A Rookie’s Ride

2018 ROAD TRIP TO MAINE & CANADA

Day 1: Wednesday, July 11th

This was our very first real road trip with our brand-spanking new 2018 30′ Classic Airstream.

That morning we picked up a few last minute items from Walmart, ate lunch, and packed up the truck + RV for our 2.5 hour drive to Cabela’s in Scarborough, Maine. We had planned to boondock our first night out.

Camping Resource

RV Parky is just a great website resource to use to search for places to park your RV. We love using the app on our smartphones too. That’s how we discovered free overnight parking at Cabela’s! I did call the store beforehand, just to confirm before we got there. The store associate told me that the store doesn’t manage the parking but there are a lot of trailers and trucks that park there overnight and don’t get bothered. So, basically, they don’t want to be liable for anything = totally understandable!

After we got Kai and Stanley loaded into the truck, Kai was already NOT feeling it. He must have either been over-tired. The days leading up to the trip were fairly routine. Michael had lots of work to wrap up the week before and during the trip. So, I spent a great deal of time with Kai and Stanley. We got to bond a lot!

Michael was home on Friday morning, and Kai just wanted to spend all of his time bonding with daddy. It was hard for Michael to ‘get stuff done’. It just felt like it took forever to “get going”.

It had already been a long day.

To top it off, I get pre-departure jitters/anxiety. So the night before, I couldn’t get to bed. I think I stayed up until 2:30am.

Connection Problems

Yes, we were experienced at RVing, but this was a whole new beast!

Something was bound to GO WRONG. We just didn’t expect it to be so soon. The problem started before we even left.

After Michael hooked up the Airstream, we were trying to get our lights to connect so we could drive safely. The connection to our rearview camera was not working. And, we had preordered trailer cameras to be picked up while we were in Maine. So, we didn’t have those either.

We made a call to Pete’s RV in Plainville, MA. I explained to them that our lights weren’t hooking up properly and that we had just purchased the Airstream from Pete’s RV in Vermont. They said we could bring it on by. THANK GOD! They did inform us that their service department technicians leave at 4pm. At this point it was just after 2pm. So we got there around 2:45pm.

The wire was damaged. Most likely from the way it was sitting up against the sway bars/hitch. So, the connection wires were cut.

Thankfully, on our drive there, Kai fell asleep. Much needed nap indeed! We didn’t anticipate them taking a long time to fix because they just needed to replace the wire and hookup. They said they would only charge us for the wire and no labor, which was super nice!

It was 4pm, and Kai woke up. We still had about fifteen minutes before they packed up.

Unfortunately, the fixed wire didn’t resolve our connection issue. One of the other technicians came out and discovered our Ford F-150 had a blown fuse! We called the closest Ford dealership in Foxboro, MA. They didn’t carry it. The only place in the state of MA that had one in stock was located in Quincy, MA.

Michael ended up just taking another fuse from a different part of the truck and replacing that, temporarily. So we didn’t have power in our center console. It was definitely more important we fix the trailer rearview lights. They also control the running lights for the trailer. So we wouldn’t be able to drive safely at night without them on.

Phew, it was already 5pm. Now we were hungry again!  And, we had only made it to Foxboro, MA, from our home in Rhode Island!

Michael wanted to stop along the highway, but I just suggested we head to Olive Garden at Patriots Place, which was literally down the road. When I get over hungry, I get hANGRY.

Dinner hit the spot.

We left Foxboro, MA around 6:30pm, which was perfect because there was less traffic vs. during rush hour. Michael just kept on driving. We can cruise at 60mph comfortably while towing. We made a stop along the way so Kai could use the restroom. And, we have to find a parking lot large enough to accommodate the truck and travel trailer duo.

Arrival time: 9pm. Yay, we made it. And, it was time for bed. No shower for us that night. We had planned on it. Just had enough freshwater to brush our teeth, wash some hands, faces, and use the bathroom.

To be continued…

Interested in reading more about our first RV experience? Here are our posts for our first ever family RVing experience with our very first travel trailer, a 2018 Springdale Mini 1750RD by Keystone.

The Final Stretch: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia

So we were back from our cruise and it was a straight shot up the coast to Savannah, GA. We had a 7 hour drive from Miami and we were only staying one night in Georgia. As we got into Georgia we had stopped to fuel up and noticed a gas station that had some magnets. As soon as we crossed the state border, we immediately noticed the drastic change in weather. It was several degrees cooler in GA compared to Florida, so we had to change our clothing to adjust to the quick change when we stopped. We picked up the Georgia magnet that we needed and low and behold there was a Tennessee magnet, Tennessee was the only state where we wee unable to find a magnet while we were there. After getting our magnet we were back on the road and not stopping until Savannah.

We arrived in Savannah around 4pm. We checked into the Mulberry Inn. It was a decent little hotel with clean rooms but a breakfast, which we found out later, that was lacking a bit. We dropped off our luggage into the room and knew that we had a few things to do tonight so we could head to the Carolinas the next day. Next on our list was to to find a cache. Luckily right near the hotel was a cache that ended up being fairly easy to find. We placed our frisbee and were on our way to dinner.

The hotel that we were staying in was on the north side of Savannah. Christina wanted to head into the downtown area to get some dinner. She actually found a Paula Dean restaurant that we thought would be somewhere good to try. We got into the downtown area and there was something big going on. There must have been a festival or something that day. Many of the streets were blocked off, there were police all over the place, and all of the parking lots were already full. After looking for somewhere to park for 45 minutes I decided to call it quits. There was a restaurant right next to the hotel that we were staying at that I had originally wanted to go to so we ended up heading back there. After another half hour drive back towards the hotel we arrived at the Sweet Tea Grille restaurant. The food there was pretty good and I think our favorite was the loaded chip appetizer. After dinner we decided to call it a night as we had to get up early and head north.

We woke up and packed up our luggage and car and headed to breakfast. We like to try and find hotels where they offer free breakfast but this one was just a bit of a disappointment. Everything seemed a little old and like it had been out for a while. We quickly ate a little bit of breakfast and decided to head out of there as our final destination for today was all the way up in Richmond, VA.

We started to head to Virginia and knew we needed to make a few stops along the way. We needed to visit North and South Carolina. North Carolina was pretty easy. We stopped at South of the Border. We were easily able to find a cache right there and or course they had a magnet. Luckily since this is on the border of North and South Carolina they also had a North Carolina magnet so we were able to pick up both of them. We also to decided to grab some lunch while we were there and make our way to North Carolina.

North Carolina was a little more difficult because we needed to find a cache and we didn’t have a specific location to go to. We pulled off the highway¬†and I found a cache that seemed to be pretty close by. It was actually at a dentist office and it was about 2:30pm(two thirty) I thought it was pretty fitting.(Lets see who gets the joke). We searched of the cache for a while and finally just before we were about to leave I prevailed and found it attached to a tree in the woods. Victory! Only one state left.

We continued our drive to Virginia, our last state in the continental U.S. We arrived fairly late in Fredricksburg, VA and decided to get dinner and call it an early night. We headed to an Italian restaurant right next to the hotel, Vita Felice. The food was pretty good and we were really happy with our meals. The restaurant was showing some signs of age but we were able to over look that when our entrees came. We headed back to the hotel after dinner and rested up for our final drive.

We woke up early had breakfast at our hotel and had a couple of errands to run. First and most importantly was to find a Virginia country ham for Christina’s dad. We headed to the Made in Virginia Store that was near by. We knew they carried Edward’s hams and that is exactly what we were looking for. Edward’s are know for their salty country hams and are always raked amongst the top tasting in the country. We found a ham that fit what we were looking for and also grabbed our VA magnet. We only had one more thing to do. We searched nearby for a cache and found one just around the corner. It was a pretty easy find so we placed our frisbee and headed to New York.

After 7 more hours of driving we arrived in New York, completing our trip around the continental U.S.(plus Alaska). All that we have left is Hawaii and boy are we excited to go there.

T-minus 5 days until our wedding. Now we must switch from fun mode back to get things done mode.

Florida: Fish, Sun, and Fun

IMG_2538 (640x427)We drove through Alabama and were on our way to Florida. Our first destination was Panama City in the Florida panhandle. We were staying at the Beachside Resort. The hotel was ok. It wasn’t the nicest but it worked. The big draw was the view. The hotel is right on the Gulf and just out the doors of the hotel were beautiful white beaches and crystal clear water. The first night we got there it was very windy and a little cool out so we headed down the road where there was a shopping center, Christina’s favorite. She wanted to get a few ore things for the wedding and there was an Olive Garden near by, also Christina’s favorite, that we headed to for dinner. The shopping center was ¬†Panama Pier Park;¬†it was actually huge with all sorts of stores. It was on outdoor shopping area similar to what you find at most outlet stores.

The next morning we decided to head out to the beach. It was a little warmer and not as windy as the previous day. Christina relaxed on a large wooden beach chair that she had me lug from the top of the beach all the way down to the water. I had my fishing pole in had and was ready to finally get some fishing time in. I waded out into the water about waist deep and I could still see the bottom perfectly clear. I ended up catching on flounder in the hour and a half we were out on the beach. Although it was nothing big it fulfilled my urge to fish. Later that night we headed to find some souvenirs, as well as our Florida magnet, and to get some froyo and call it night.

The next day we were off to Cocoa Beach where we got a pretty good deal to visit a time share seminar. For $199 we got a 3 night stay in a Holiday Inn Express and after the time share seminar we would get $199 back in cash and a free stay for a night in another Holiday Inn. We knew what we were in for with the time share seminar and we made sure we were ready. It was a little late when we got to Cocoa Beach, It was a 7.5 hour drive from Panama City, so we decided to get dinner and call it a night. We headed to Papa Vito’s. Boy were we happy we did. Check out Christina’s review of the restaurant here!

The next day was our time share seminar. In the morning we headed out for a run and went back to the hotel to get ready. We didn’t have time to get lunch so we headed to a little shop right near the hotel, The Local Experience. We noticed a sign for smoothies so we decided to try them and they were great. The owner and employee working were also both great and very helpful. The time share company that this seminar was with was Holiday Inn Club Vacations. We were told this presentation was going to last 2 hours. They were exactly right. At two hours on the dot we were out of there. They did try to get us to buy a time share but their¬†pricing didn’t seem very good. Although, we wouldn’t have gotten a time share anyway. Who wants to always vacation in the same place (yes, I know if you pay extra fees you can go to different locations). They claim these are “investments”, but they do not seem to grow in value.

After leaving the presentation we headed back to the Local Experience shop. We saw a pamphlet for a fishing charter and wanted to check it out. When we went back to the store they helped us call a few places to find somewhere to fish. We ended up going with Cast Away Florida who heads out on the Banana River and only cost us $65 per person for 4 hours of fishing.

We also decided to head to dinner at on of the restaurants that one of the locals recommended from the shop we were in, Baja’s Tavern and Eats. We headed to dinner and upon being seated Christina was already skeptical. There was a cat walking about in the out door seating area. We ordered our food and although nothing was bad nothing was really good either. The service that we had also wasn’t quite on par with what we expect from most restaurants, especially in this price range. You can also check out Christina’s review on this restaurant at her Yelp link here. After diner we decided to find a waterproof camera to bring to out fishing the next day and to bring with us on our Caribbean cruise. We checked Wal-mart, Sears, and Radioshack, before finally landing at Target just before closing and finding the camera we were looking for.

The next day we had to be at the boat dock for 8am. It was about a 10 minute drive from the hotel we were staying in. When we arrived to the dock we noticed the boat that we would be fishing from. We were on a decent sized, 24ft, pontoon boat with a captain and guide and we were the only ones on the boat. We caught a decent amount of fish, between the 2 of us we probably caught 30-40 fish. We caught a few pinfish, speckled trout, puffer fish, and grunts. In addition, I caught a very rare oyster, and Christina ended up hooking the biggest catch of the day: me! Yes, she hooked my ankle on accident, so I was the biggest catch. I was excited to finally get some real fishing in. After fishing we decided to go back to Papa Vito’s since it was so good, plus we had some coupons for lunch.

On November 6th we headed to Miami and checked in to our hotel in the afternoon. There was a Chinese restaurant that Christina wanted to stop by for dinner so we decided to head over there, called Wei’s Chinese Restaurant. We had hot pot for dinner, which is basically a pot of boiling broth at our table that you use to cook raw food that is given to you. Dinner was great and we were really happy that we decided to go over there.

Down in Miami we really feel like we are already down in the Caribbean islands. Everyone here is fluent in Spanish. Either they are native speakers or they have acquired it along the way. It seems mandatory down here if you are working in any retail or hospitality work. Also, Christina and I were very surprised to see the overwhelming amount of tolls we have to pay on the Florida turnpikes. We figured it’s going to cost us about $50 in tolls as we travel through Florida. I think we have spent over $30 so far.

The next day we needed to get a few final things for our wedding. Somehow Christina keeps finding a few more things we need to get. We headed to Miami International Mall and were able to find everything that we were looking for. Also, everyone seems to be on island time, especially in the mall. We also noticed a cache nearby. We were able to drive to a library just near the mall and find our cache pretty easily. After our cache we headed back to the hotel so we could get ready for our cruise and finalize some wedding tasks.

As of tomorrow afternoon our cell phones will be off for a week, and we will be on our way to the Caribbean. Woohoo! Can’t wait.

 

Alabama

We made the decision to drive through Alabama the day of Saturday, November 1st, after leaving New Orleans. It was just going to be a quick stop. We were stopping through just to get a magnet, find our cache, and grab some lunch.

When we got into Spanish Fort, Alabama we stopped for some gasoline and headed to a Walgreens to look for a magnet. We found a magnet that said “Spanish Fort, AL” but not one that only said ” Alabama” So we decided to keep searching. In the Walgreens parking lot we noticed there was a cache. It was a quick find. We placed our frisbee and were off.

Christina had a couple of items that she had to return to Kohl’s so we headed one that was nearby in the town center. We were pretty hungry since we hadn’t eaten breakfast so lunch was the next thing on our list. We found a Five Guys Burgers and Fries, our favorite, so we had to stop there for lunch. After eating lunch we resumed our search for a magnet. we checked a couple of shops in the plaza we were in with no luck. One person recommended we go up the highway an exit and there was a “Tiger Pride” store that should have some.

We drove up to the next exit and found the store. To our dismay there were not any magnets there that we could use, unless we wanted one that was about a foot long. There was also another small gift store near by that we checked, and again we came out empty handed. The owner did recommend checking  Barnes and Noble, Bass Pro Shops, and the Welcome Center. Barnes and Noble was just next door so we searched there and again, nadda.

We decided to go check Bass Pro Shop and the Welcome Center. The only problem was they were back at the last exit we just came from. So we headed back to the previous exit and headed to Bass Pro Shops. Im sure you can see where this is about to go. There were no Alabama magnets there. I did need to get some fishing line, which came in handy the next day, so the trip to Bass Pro was not a complete loss.

We rushed over to the Welcome Center. They must have magnets there we thought. We arrived at 3:15 sharp, only to find they closed at 3pm. What kind of Welcome Center closes at 3?

We made the decision that this was becoming very much a pain and headed back to Walgreens, where this all started and to get the original magnet that we found.

NEW RULE: When we find a magnet with a state name on it, we buy it. No searching around.

That was our trip to Alabama. Now, on our way to Panama City Beach.

New Orleans: The Beignet Battle

Michael and I were very much looking forward to visiting New Orleans, Louisiana and since the beginning of the trip I had been bugging him to visit this city! I had heard lots of fun and exciting things about this city, and I was ready to take it on with my side-kick hand-in-hand.

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We booked two nights, 10/30 & 10/31 at Hotel New Orleans Downtown, which was undergoing a $29 million renovation to become Le Meridien. The architects and construction was very much limited to one section so we did not feel bothered at all by this. This hotel was so nicely decorated and had that nice, refreshing hotel scent as soon as you walked into the lobby. Since this hotel only offered valet parking for about $45/night, we opted to park at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino, right across the street for $30/night. This saved us $30 for parking in total for the two nights. We did not want to gamble, but if we signed up for a Total Rewards Card and gambled for 30 minutes, we would have received one free night of parking. We’re not big on gambling anyways, so it was not worth the risk to us.

View from hotel room

One of the main reasons we selected this hotel was the fact that it was right in the French Quarter, but it wasn’t too close to the main “party” area in city. It was just close enough to walk to and from, so we were happy with the location.

The first afternoon we checked in, we decided to walk down the Riverwalk all the way down the Mississippi River to Jackson Square to do a cache and also grab some famous beignets at Cafe du Monde. Along our stroll we saw so many painters, musicians, artists, performers, and homeless people wandering the streets. New Orleans has a very European atmosphere to it, and the buildings have such lovely balconies and architecture. Because it was the day before Halloween, it seemed as though everyone was gearing up for the occasion. It was neat to explore Jackson Square and stumble upon Pirates Alley where we did our cache. We were also instantly able to find a magnet with an over abundance of gift shops in this area, all along Decatur Street. We also got a chance to walk along Bourbon Street to be in the thick of things.

We stayed around the area until the Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade, which started at 6:30pm, securing a standing spot along the street across from the H&M. Crowds gathered in the area so we knew this was going to be a fun one. There were so many different people, groups, dancers, musicians, performers, speakers, trucks, tractors, and floats that went by. Some were throwing out freebies and we got some samples of some New Orleans Chewy Pralines from Aunt Sally’s, some ground coffee from PJ’s, a few different beads, plastic cups, a magnifying glass, assorted candies, and snacks.

For dinner, I was anticipating, craving and hoping there would be some spicy, cajun, and creole crawfish. Unfortunately, we soon realized they were not in season. They are, however, available in the wintertime, through February. I did manage to find some places with some crawfish in a few dishes. We decided to check out Huck Finn’s Cafe on Decatur Street for some southern grub. I ordered the Taste of New Orleans (Crawfish Etouffee, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice) and Michael got the Shrimp BBQ Po-Boy. Our entrees were both delicious and very flavorful!

It was Halloween the next morning, and we kicked off the day with a trip¬†to the fitness center, which was on the fourth floor of the hotel. We had to walk passed the outdoor pool to get to the area. It was a nice gym filled with all sorts of weight and cardio equipment, so we took advantage of everything there, and we sure are still feeling the pain of our workout now. It was about 1pm when we got ready to go out for some brunch, and we actually decided on some sushi because we hadn’t had it since Michael’s parents took us out before we left. It was so yummy and definitely hit the spot.

We made our way to the French Market, which is home to many vendors. There were a decent amount of people shopping around and there was so much going on. I made Michael get me a “faux” diamond ring, since mine was getting rhodium-dipped in preparation for the wedding, and we figured since we were in the French Market, we might as well go with the with the theme:)¬†I also had their version of a snow cone, which was some of the best shaved ice ever!

Because NOLA is known for its beignets, we knew that we could not just limit our tasting to the really popular one in town. So…we made our way to two more cafes famed for these scrumptious donuts. Our first stop was New Orleans Famous Beignets and Coffee, where there were barely any people=no crowds whatsoever! ¬†We were a bit hesitant, but we were going for it! As soon as the order came out we knew we were in for a treat. These beignets were a lot thinner than the ones we had at Cafe du Monde. They were piping hot, and oh sooo flaky! These really reminded both of us of a pastry sheet. There was just enough powdered sugar on these mamas, and they were so delicious that we were really happy to get to try these. The coffee on the other hand was blah. Price: $3 for 3 beignets

Next on the list was Cafe Beignet. I mean it has Beignet in its name! We were surprised to see this place had the widest assortment of food and beverages compared to the other two, which was so not reflective and indicative in its name. Michael placed the order at the counter, and we had a seat. These beignets were the most expensive at just over $4 for 3. They also definitely seemed to take the longest to prepare. When they came out, the gentleman had three other plates of food for other guests, and he had them stacked right on top of our order…so it left some imprints on the¬†powdered sugar. These resembled the ones we tried at the first place, because they were much thicker than the ones at New Orleans Famous. Michael and I agreed that these were actually way better than the first place as well!

So who took the lead in this challenge? Well, I know Michael was really a big fan of New Orleans Famous Beignets and Coffee, as was I. But, I was really torn on whether or not I enjoyed the larger ones at Cafe Beignet. Because there is so much hype with Cafe du Monde’s beignets, we were both really surprised these were the most difficult to eat and chew. These were really dense, and more consolidated/doughy compared to the other two. The thinner ones at Famous were really flavorful but overly oily. Yes, we really enjoyed the Famous ones, but I would vote Cafe Beignet as a close second.

After the beignets, we decided to head back to the hotel to freshen up for the parade and dinner. That evening, we were really not impressed with the parade. It was much shorter and the participants of this parade did not seem too enthusiastic about it, even though everyone was dressed up.

One huge revelation occurred when we were eating dinner on Halloween evening at New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. was that mayonnaise typically does not need to be refrigerated!!! WHAAAT?? My first thought was “EW!” I saw the squeezable mayo bottle (pictured below) with a strong focus on “NO REFRIGERATION NEEDED”. I was aware that if the bottle was newly opened, it does not need to get refrigerated, but once the seal gets opened, I assumed it was necessary. I guess not. Well that was news to me. Apparently Michael had known this all along, but failed to mention that to me. I wanted to confirm this notion, and sure enough…it’s true! Even after knowing this, I will still most likely keep it in the fridge…it just creeps me out for some reason.

Overall, The Big Easy really had a lot to offer, and the best part of it all were its beignets: I mean how can you go wrong with fried dough sprinkled generously with powdered sugar?

Oklahoma City

We are happy to report that we found a city, Oklahoma City, with it’s downtown area¬†actually in the state of Oklahoma! After some research we noticed the hip area in town was the downtown Bricktown area, that’s where went after checking into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Oklahoma City Southeast I-35. It seemed like a newer construction hotel, so we were really happy that.

It only took us 5 minutes to drive to KD’s Southern Cuisine, which was right next to Toby Keith’s: I Love this Bar and Grill. ¬†We read some Yelp reviews about both restaurants, and decided to go with the southern comfort food. For some reason we had no knowledge this restaurant is actually owned by the basketball player, Kevin Durant! It was decorated with sports memorabilia, and the restaurant itself had such a high-end metropolitan feel to it. One small detail was the menus that lit up when you opened them. Lighting was dark to set the mood, so lit menus were a uniquely modern yet practical way to read the text.

Food was served quickly, as we started with the skillet cornbread and ending with the banana cream pie in a petite mason jar. For our main courses, we did something never done in the Ho-Falcon Relationship: order the same meal! Yes, we went through with it, as it was bound to happen. Honey chicken it was! Of course, I had to give him my pitch before we both went for it: I wanted to split the Jambalaya and the chicken, but he was not feeling it there we have it. The meal was so delicious! We had to be a bit different, as I got the green beans and mashed potatoes and he got the mac & cheese instead of the green beans as his sides.

After dinner, we packed up my leftovers and headed to the car to place them in Tupperware containers in the large cooler we keep in the bed of the truck. Surprisingly there is a cache located right in the parking lot about 300 ft from where we had parked. With a Mini Frisbee and pen in hand we were ready to dodge any muggers and get to our goal. This was a relatively easy one!

Waterways served as an artistic divider between streets of shops and restaurants. We followed the water, which led alongside the back outdoor patio of KD’s and were happy to snap a few photos along the way. One of the first things we noticed was the relatively large building which just so happens to be Sonic’s headquarters! As you may or may not know, Michael is obsessed with Sonic, ever since his Florida days where it was right around the corner to driving to either Peabody or Connecticut to get his munch on. Nowadays we regularly come across them!

Around the other side of the building there is an actual Sonic dine-in restaurant. This was odd, we thought. The only Sonics we had ever seen had “America’s Favorite Drive-In”. There were no cars parked in this setting. Rather people filled the indoor and outdoor seating that was provided. Oh and they have $0.99 corn dogs on Halloween! (No, they did not endorse us to say that). We just think it’s a good deal.

Along our casual stroll, we noticed a couple of ducks that were on a date, and we captured their romantic stroll.

 

There were smaller shops and restaurants, and we stopped in a few gift shops. On the way back to our truck, we passed the baseball field, which featured notables such as Mickey Mantle. We noticed a few photographers capturing smaller details of the pathway, and we wanted to share some of the pictures along our stroll:

Before our departure from the downtown area we had to make a stop at Bass Pro Shops! Michael perused through fishing equipment while I looked at the Christmas display items towards the front of the shop. He ended up purchasing his very first foldable fishing net for his future fishing finds.

This concludes our brief, yet satisfying stay in Oklahoma City, OK. We are off to the big state of Texas!!!

Kansas

Topeka is the capital of Kansas. This is quite surprising considering we stayed right in the heart of the capital, and it was not too busy. Our balcony had a semi-unobstructed view facing the capitol building, and the city seemed to have a small-town culture to it. We stayed here for two nights.

Because most of the major commercial shops, malls, and companies are only an hour away in Kansas City, MO from Topeka, Kansas, most residents in this city were more secluded. ¬†It was nice to get away from a lot of people and the crowds. We checked into our hotel, the Senate Suites¬†on Tuesday, October 21st. ¬†Michael was a bit hesitant at first to park in the lot which had “Senate Suites Parking” signs around it, but eventually we parked and walked across the street toward the “Registration” sign, which led us to the front door. A gentleman greeted and checked us into our hotel, located on the third floor. There was an elevator conveniently located near the entrance, and we were given a traditional¬†key (none of those plastic cards for this place) for the two nights.

The room was really nice! As mentioned before, we had a nice balcony. In addition, we had a kitchenette with a mini dining room area, a living room with a sofa, a large flat-screen TV, a bedroom with a large king-size bed another TV, and a bathroom which had two entrances (one connecting to the bedroom and the other the hallway leading to the living room). After looking at a map of the hotel, we noticed our suite was on the smaller side. Wow, we thought. We got a great deal for this place. That was the main reason we decided to stay here for two nights, and we were living in a nice little apartment-like hotel, score!

Michael and I decided to stay in that evening and order some Chinese food from China Express. I really need to explain this process because I was really embarrassed. I ended up picking up the food because Michael was tired. I’m sure you can see where this is going. This place was literally down the alley and/or around the block from where we were staying. I drove down the block, but apparently missed the turn and almost ran through a red light, but I finally arrived! I went inside to pick up our order, but I forgot my wallet in the car, so I had to go back. Before I left, Michael wanted a soda, so I noticed a soda fountain machine, so I asked for two cups. Then I gave the gentleman my form of payment. After swiping and signing the credit card, I noticed he had bottled sodas behind the counter! This was AFTER I filled up the sodas and dumped out the ice the man had given to me. I felt so bad, but he knew exactly what I wanted to do. He was generous enough to let me return the two fountain sodas and exchange them for the two bottled sodas without charging me. At that point, I realized we did not have any utensils so I asked for some chopsticks. Napkins were not easily available so I just did not bother with that. Peace in the hotel room at last with our Chinese food….what a feat! Michael really made me work for that meal.

The next day we slept in and went shopping at the West Ridge Mall. There is an AT&T there, and Michael has been so excited to get a new iPhone. So we decided to head there. Driving through Topeka, we were quickly brought back to feeling as if we were in either Seekonk, MA, North Attleborough, MA, or even Warwick, RI. This capital city really had that suburban feel to it. Leaving the mall empty-handed, without one dime spent we came across a Kohl’s which was a few blocks away. This is our go-to place. We always find something we like there!

I wanted to go shopping for our upcoming cruise. Oh, yes, by the way we ended up booking another cruise: this is our getaway before our wedding. More on that when we reach Florida…Kohls-logo

Our mission was to get some bathing suits. What we actually got were: two pairs of jeans, a wallet, and a belt for Michael and a pair of high heels and some wedding paraphernalia for me. We totally side-tracked!

We desperately needed to work out, and we explored Lake Shawnee Park after quickly changing at the hotel. This park is so beautiful! It has a 7-mile loop trail around the lake. After jogging one mile, we felt really nice. Along the way we completed our cache, sprinted a few times, and then jogged back to the truck. This totaled roughly 3.1 miles. We definitely would not have been able to do the whole loop before dark. We had a nice workout!

We woke up the next morning at 8am to have breakfast, pack and get ready for our 5-hour drive to the next state: Oklahoma!

Iowa

Cheer us on: we have hit 35 states, and have only 15 more states to go!

Des Moines was the main city we visited in Iowa. From Omaha, we made the 2 hour drive through the western part of Iowa, which was covered with corn fields, some cow farms, and many windmills throughout open fields alongside main highways.

On Monday, October 20th. We checked into our hotel, Holiday Inn Express Des Moines at Drake University at 2:30pm on Monday, October 20th, which is west of the city center. Tennis courts across the street caught our eye, as we planned a time for us to get a much-needed fun workout before leaving.

Our first stop was to visit the Capitol Building, which houses the Iowa Senate, Iowa House of Representatives, the Office of the Governor, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. We were really intrigued to visit this building mainly due to it being the number one attraction on TripAdvisor in Des Moines. It was around 3:30pm when we arrived there. We parked in Visitor Parking right in front of the building. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and the sun was shining brightly on the gorgeous 23-carat Golden Dome roof. We also noticed a small scenic park with a few lone joggers. Our first goal was to find a nearby cache, and we walked down the paved pathway into the park. After searching for about a half hour, we unfortunately we came up empty-handed.

It was already almost 4:15pm so we decided to head up to the building before it closed. We went through one of the public entrances on the side of the building. Upon entering, we walked through a metal detector and a security guard greeted us. They stopped their tours for the day, but we we were able to explore the building on our own, so we got a map from the info desk towards the front and made our way up to the second floor.

Our first stop was the library, which was really neat to see. There were some nice spiral staircases along the walls leading up the room with high ceilings. There were all really cool historical pieces in glass cases. We were able to then head to one of the open rooms, which is where the House of Representatives gather. Everything in the building was beautifully decorated with paintings, beautiful architecture and wonderful lighting throughout.

We saw a couple of exhibits that screamed Iowa, such as one of their ships, bell,¬†donated gifts from countries, the governor’s memorabilia, and more! The structure itself was quite European in style, as dramatic artwork¬†hung from the walls and painted ceilings brightened up the structure.

After exploring the interior of the building, we made our way towards the back of the building where there was a cache. We were in luck as I spotted the cache immediately!

Michael suggested we check out the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. We parked our car along the road which surrounded the park, and it was a coin-operated machine, which was very reasonably priced. It was $0.25 for 34 minutes, not too shabby! We just took a nice stroll and took some pictures of the sculptures while the sun was shining very brightly. There was a couple sitting on top of a hill who was having a photo shoot with two photographers working hard to capture some special moments, while we casually saw kids, parents, and loners sitting and relaxing in the natural beauty of this park.

Dinner was next on the agenda. As we drove back to our hotel we noticed the Drake Diner, which was right next to our hotel. Being it was a Monday, we were happy to see many cars parked at this particular restaurant. This really means that it is a hot spot. Indeed, the decor and ambiance did create that 50’s style diner. Tootsie Roll Pops were also right at the front, so I selected a few different flavors for after-dinner. The food was very good so we knew the dessert would be great too!

The next morning we had planned to wake up at 6am to get some tennis time in before our drive through Missouri. However we were still adjusting to the two-hour time difference from Pacific Time to Central Time so we ended up sleeping in until about 8am. We did manage to make it to breakfastūüėĄ before our drive that day.

Our next states are Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas by the weekend! It’s a busy week for us, but we are really looking forward to visiting Michael’s sister Kayleigh and her boyfriend Anthony in Texas.

Also a quick side note: Game 2 of the World Series is on (Giants vs. Royals)….everyone is going crazy about the Royals around where we are now and it’s really had an impact on us actually watching some baseball at night. Woo!!!