Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Boston & Maine 2014

September 18, 2014

Thrown right in the middle of our move, Mandy’s wedding and buying our first home was our trip to Boston and Maine! The timing was a little crazy because we ended up closing on our house the same day that we flew back but it was so nice to have some time to relax during this very busy time in our life!

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We ate a TON of lobster this trip and it was glorious. We also had the most amazing lobster roll at Woodman’s in Essex, definitely the best I’ve ever had.

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This was the first year that we were up at camp without any other family and though it was kind of nice to have some time to ourselves we definitely missed having everyone else around! Mark’s best friend, Daniel, and his girlfriend, Joslin, joined us for part of the trip too.

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Janie graciously let us borrow her new fire pit a few nights so we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows at the water’s edge, watched the sun set and listened to the loons.

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My go to ice cream this year was the black raspberry/cake batter swirl on a sugar cone…my mouth is watering just looking at this picture, YUM!

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This trip will always be remembered as the year we had four boats. Thanks to a little miscommunication with the marina, a mechanical issue and some bad luck we had three loaner boats before we finally got ours on the second to last day. The silver lining is that we got to have a boat with a tower for a couple days and it made water sports much easier. This year also marked a special accomplishment for me, I finally got up on the wakeboard! Once I got up the first time I instantly knew what I had been doing wrong the past three years, haha.

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We also spent a day in Boston and caught a Red Sox game at Fenway. They’re not doing so hot this year but thankfully we got to see a win!

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Awesome, awesome trip. Can’t wait until next year!

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Maine 2013

October 17, 2013

Here’s a few pictures from our 4th of July trip to Boston and Maine this summer {crazy late, I know}. This being my third visit to camp, so many of my photos are looking identical to previous years but I just can’t get enough of that view.

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We ate lobster three times and it. was. glorious…I try to never have lobster anywhere else besides Maine, I just know I would be disappointed with anything less than the best.

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Brandy Pond was gorgeous as always, smooth as glass in the early morning. Our first few days were threatened with rain but we made the best of it and ended up having quite a few sunny days.

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We ended up buying a boat this year; it was such a good deal that Mark and Pat couldn’t pass it up. Now we’ll be able to have a boat no matter when we go up for a visit.

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This year was memorable in that it was Lilly’s first time at camp. She swam near the dock, slept on the boat and had her first taste of Dairy Bar.

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Logan rode on the infamous disk for the first time {with the help of Uncle Chris, of course}. Immediately afterwards he asked if he could do it again next year, not wanting to ride again on the current trip, haha.

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Lilly and I had some fun snapping pictures with my iPhone, she couldn’t stop staring at herself on the screen!

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Beautiful sunset from the marina dock while waiting for the fireworks to begin. We all watched from the comfort of the boat but stayed tied to the dock in case the kids needed to leave.

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Both Marks went out for quite a few early morning ski and wakeboard runs, it’s hard not to when the water is so perfect. Of course, I played spotter since I am officially terrible at all things water sports :(

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Lilly in her pretty red, white and blue dress watching Grandpa, Uncle and Logan move rocks in the water.

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And one of my favorite sights of all, my handsome hub behind the wheel of the boat on a perfect day on Brandy Pond :)

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Una Vez Mas

June 18, 2013

When we honeymooned at an all-inclusive resort in Cabo three years ago we loved it and knew that we wanted to come back, but we also knew that there was one thing that could make our next trip even better…friends! It’s hard to believe that we’ve only known our new California friends for a year and we’re already vacationing together but it was totally meant to be, we had such an amazing time.

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We stayed at the La Bonito Pacifica resort and it did not disappoint one bit. Our room was lovely, the beach was gorgeous, the service was excellent and the food was beyond delicious.

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The Krouts and the Stearns…our new favorite vacation buddies!

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Just as before on our previous trip to Cabo, the beaches were stunning but the waves were harsh and the wind was strong enough to sandblast your legs; not exactly ideal for laying out. Our resort had two great pools though and we all spend plenty of time lounging around them reading, napping and working on our tans.

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Mark had fun trying to outrun the waves while I kept my distance and picked up shells instead. A few mornings we went for a walk on the beach and as we walked we could see crabs all over the place, scurrying away into their holes for safety.

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One day we all shared a cab to downtown and the marina where we did a little souvenir shopping {I bought a huge bottle of Mexican vanilla for only $9!}. From there we chartered a boat taxi for just the six of us – beers included – to Los Arcos; the water was the most perfect aqua color and the day couldn’t have been any more beautiful.

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Mark and I  bought this cute little wooden crab because it reminded us of the crabs we saw on the beach and on the rock walls at the marina. He matches the small, wooden pelican that we bought on our previous trip.

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We never wanted that week to end…great time spent with great friends, relaxation to the max. We’re already dreaming up our next Rand/Krout/Stearns vacation…Hawaii???

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New England 2012

August 1, 2012

Vacationing in the northeast is always such a treat; we get to spend time with family, relax on the lake, celebrate the 4th of July and eat ice cream every single day :) This year my parents joined us as well for a few days, it was great to be able to share our fun traditions with them.

Our first full day was all about farm tours. We visited Cider Hill Farm again just as we had done two years ago except this time we got a personal tour of the entire 100+ acres thanks to Grandpa Rand’s connection with the farm’s owner. Here we all are at the top of a hill near the apple orchard overlooking the rest of the farm.

Their farm store {once again} did not disappoint; they had tons of fresh produce, other local food items and wares as well as their delicious apple cider donuts.

Our first ice cream stop of the trip was at Hodgie’s and it was just as yummy as I had remembered. I had warned my parents ahead of time about the amount of ice cream we’d be consuming on this vacation but I still don’t think they really knew what they were in for!

Classic Mark.

The second day we stopped at Marty’s Donut Land in Ipswich which just so happened to be established in the same year that my dad was born. The coincidence merited buying a t-shirt for my dad and a few donuts for the road.

One of my favorite things about the northeast in the summer is the amount of flowers in everyone’s yard. Our theory is that they spend so much time indoors during the long winter that they are super excited to get out and do yard work once spring rolls around.

We visited Crane Beach and walked along the sands for a while. It was pretty cool to dip our toes in the Atlantic knowing that we were just near the Pacific a day earlier.

The next morning we drove up to Naples, Maine to celebrate the 4th and meet up with Mark’s parents at camp.

We watched the parade coming down the main street in Naples from the second story deck at Rick’s and did a little shopping at the boutiques around town.

My dad brought a washers set up from Texas so we could play a few games in the side yard. I think this will become a go-to fun thing to do around camp in the future.

Mandy and I got our Pinterest on with these white chocolate dipped strawberries. They were incredibly easy to make and I’ve already used this idea a second time for an Olympic ceremony watching party that we went to last week.

With the threat of thunderstorms and rain on the night of the 4th we opted out of watching the fireworks from the boat and instead enjoyed dinner all together at the Freedom Cafe. The rain cleared just in time for the fireworks display to begin and we had great seats on a patio overlooking the lake. Of course, we couldn’t pass up some Dairy Bar and their red, white and blue sprinkles!

The next day we all went to Bob’s Lobster Pound for a lobster lunch complete with corn on the cob and sweet potato fries.

My mom had never tried lobster before and my dad hadn’t had it in quite a while so it was a fun treat. I myself have only eaten lobster a few times, trying to limit myself to only having it in Maine or in really nice restaurants. A whole, red lobster always looks so pretty and perfect, it’s almost a shame to crack into it, haha.

After taking my parents to the airport the next day we headed back up to camp with Logan in tow. That afternoon Pat, Mandy and I made a trip to Freeport, the home of L.L. Bean, for some outlet shopping; we just so happened to be there during the celebration of L.L. Bean’s 100th anniversary and the entire town was having a huge party with tons of street vendors and live concerts. It was a fun place to be!

Our remaining few days in Maine were spent on the water. It’s kind of hard not to when the weather and scenery are as beautiful as this.

We had fun playing with the leftover sparklers on the dock at sunset.

One full day was spent cruising on the boat along the Songo River, through the lock and on to Frye Island on Sebago Lake for lunch. On our way back the boat decided to quit on us so we had to be towed back through the lock and the river; it was quite an experience but we made the best of it!

Mandy and I both tried our hand at fishing on Brandy Pond this year and though we both ended up catching one fish each, they were a bit too small to keep.

On our last day in Naples Mark and his dad played a round of golf while Pat and I did some shopping in Bridgeton. We met up with them for lunch afterwards before heading back to the Boston area that afternoon.

I can’t really explain why I’m so in love with this place…it must be the perfect combination of family, nature, sunshine, water and ice cream :) I can’t wait to go back next year!

LONDON

July 31, 2011

Our summer vacation this year took us to London, the city of fish ‘n chips, mind the gap and British accents; at least that was my perception of it before the trip and I have to admit it hasn’t changed much now after. We stayed with Mark’s dad who works in the city and has a flat in Hampstead for a grand total of 9 days, seeing just about every touristy landmark among many other things.

By far our favorite event was attending Wimbledon; in fact, the dates of our trip were planned around being there during the tournament. It was quite the experience and we have a now funny but then very frustrating story to go along with it…

Our first attempt at getting into Wimbledon didn’t exactly go as planned. We woke up late, took the tube to the wrong Wimbledon station, walked a mile in the wrong direction {thanks to a false Google maps pin}, asked for directions, took 3 buses across town, walked another mile and finally made it to the entrance around 10:30am. Since it was the day of the men’s singles quarterfinals and William and Kate would be present to watch Andy Murray’s match the place was absolutely packed. After talking to some very nice attendants we were told that we could queue for a few hours to see if any tickets would be available for resell after 5pm or we could come back tomorrow. Defeated, we took the correct bus back to the correct station with plans to do it all over again the next day.

Day two went much more smoothly; we made it to Wimbledon and were in the Queue by 7:30am. Queue is just a fancy British term for line, though I do think it makes standing in one for hours sound a little more interesting. We received our queue cards which gave us our number in line in case anyone got out of order; we were numbers #1599 and #1600. This guaranteed us at least grounds tickets because each day there are only 500 tickets available for the show courts and 6,000 tickets available for the grounds.

After queuing for about an hour, attendants came through the line with wristbands for the show courts and we were able to reserve two tickets for court one! It was somewhat of a miracle because it means approximately 1,100 people must have turned down the pricier tickets and opted just to get into the grounds.

Slowly, we shuffled through the Queue and eventually made it through the gates at around 10:00am. We grabbed a bite to eat and bought some souvenirs at the pro shop before the grounds opened 30 minutes later. A couple of the picnic tables on Henman Hill/Murray Mound were open so we took a break there before the matches were to begin. The atmosphere and energy of the whole place was so exciting; we couldn’t believe we were actually at Wimbledon!

On court 14 we caught a glimpse of Sabine Lisicki warming up with her doubles partner before her match on center court. Being that close to a pro tennis player in action and watching her technique and movement was pretty amazing.

Our main match on court one was between Tsvetana Pironkova and Petra Kvitova {the eventual Wimbledon champion}. We settled into our seats about 5 rows back behind the players’ chairs and just before the match was to begin the rain started to fall…3.5 hours later the rain cover came off and the match began. It was tough to stick it out that long not knowing if or when the rain would stop but I’m glad we did because it ended up being a great match. Seeing all of the ball boys and line judges in action was pretty entertaining too.

After the craziness of those two days at Wimbledon, we decided to take it easy the next day and we spent our time touring around Hampstead.

I loved how old everything was there, just check out those worn stone steps. Can you imagine how long that took to wear down? Simply amazing.

Of course, we had to visit all of the major sights including Big Ben, the London Eye, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.

The immense amount of detail in every single structure was awe inspiring.

We spent a good couple of hours in the British Museum where we saw the Rosetta Stone, a great ancient Egyptian exhibit and, my favorite, a collection of Greek sculptures and sections of the Parthenon’s frieze.

We waited in another queue to get in and explore Westminster Abbey and it was 100% worth it. Once inside, I couldn’t stop looking up and staring at the beautiful ceiling and rose windows. We had fun trying to take pictures without the attendants noticing but my forehead ruined the best shot.

We also visited the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London where we waited in yet another long queue to see the royal jewels.

One of the best parts about being in London was the pub atmosphere. You see, pubs in the UK are nothing like bars here in the states, they are all locally run, family friendly establishments nestled into the neighborhoods. They are open during the day and close early, usually around 10-11:00pm. To give you a better idea, here’s what was written on a sign outside of the Holly Bush:

“The Holly Bush requests that you please treat our local residents property with respect. Please don’t sit or stand in their doorways. Please leave quietly. Please don’t leave litter on our pavements. Thank you.”


We had our fair share of delicious pub food including fish ‘n chips as well as something I’d never had before, the scotch egg. It’s basically a hard boiled egg covered in spiced, ground lamb, coated with bread crumbs and fried. I’m going to try making some of my own using this recipe.

Our favorite UK beers: Fuller’s London Pride, Carlsberg and 1664.

Our most visited pub was the Duke of Hamilton. Since it was only a short 5 minute walk from the flat, we often stopped by for a pint on our way home each night.

After 9 full days away we were ready to head home, but not without bringing a little bit of London back with us. Just a couple blocks from the flat was a huge open green space full of trails called the Heath; we took a walk or jog through there almost every day. Towards the end of the trip I broke off a couple of fern branches to bring home to press and dry. I placed each branch in an old phone book for the trek back to Austin and once home I stacked a few heavy books on top to press them flat. A couple frames from Target and a little craft paper for the background was all I needed to create these great reminders of our trip. They are now hanging on the wall above our sofa along with some of the framed pictures from our Maine trip last year.

I love having these decorative mementos from all the places that we’ve been together and I’m excited to keep adding to it!

Across the Pond

June 25, 2011

Today we embark on our journey from Austin to London for the Rand Family Vacation, 2011 edition. On our potential* agenda:

– WIMBLEDON {woo hoo!}

– Henley Royal Regatta

– Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, more architecture, etc., etc.

– British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern

– Trafalgar Square

– Apple Store: Regent Street

* This is only a partial itinerary; in fact, we haven’t exactly planned much out…but hopefully we’ll get around to everything on this list!

Weekend Getaway

February 3, 2011

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season now well behind us, January tends to be a rather blah month, am I right? Just as you feel yourself getting used to being absent from work and spending more time with family, suddenly you’re back to reality, searching for something worthwhile to focus on to get you through the work week. This humdrum feeling is what inspired us to break out of our routine and take a weekend trip to Las Vegas! Mark had been visiting his sales territories in New Mexico and Nevada all last week; it was a no brainer for me to just meet him there since his flight was already covered through work.

Flying by myself for the first time, I arrived in Vegas around noon on Friday after a short layover in Denver. Mark met me at the airport and we headed straight to the closest In-n-Out for lunch. Then we checked in at the Monte Carlo, dropped our luggage and started exploring the strip. Mark has been to Vegas several times, both for business and pleasure, but this was my first visit; I found it quite fascinating that all of this craziness could exist in the middle of a desert.

For dinner that night we ate at Tao inside the Venetian and walked through endless pathways of stores and shops. On Saturday we made our first trip to the MGM to see the lions but were too early so we continued on to the M&M & Coca Cola “museums” which were not much more than souvenier shops.

That evening we took a cab ride up to Fremont street to check out the lights, do some cheap gambling and eat fried oreos {yes, they are as delicious as they sound}. One could compare the Fremont street area to east 6th street in Austin, everything is cheaper but also dirtier and full of crazy people. We had a lot of fun though and I was absolutely in love with the classic casino signs.

On Sunday we made our way to the MGM again and watched the lions snoozing on top of the glass walkway. We did some more walking around the city center area, popping in and out of shops and just enjoying each other’s company. Overall it was a great weekend filled with sight-seeing, eating out, sleeping in and basically doing whatever we felt like. Sometimes it’s nice to do things like this on a whim. :)

And no, I didn’t win any money on slots…I don’t think anyone ever does, haha.

New England 2010

July 18, 2010

We’ve been back home in Austin from our trip to the northeast for about a week now and I still can’t stop thinking about how great of a time it was. We got to visit a lot with Mark’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that we don’t usually get to see very often {some of which I had never met} and also experience as much of Boston and Maine that we could squeeze into just one week!

July 3rd

Our flight from Austin got into Boston pretty late the night morning before but we were up and at ’em by 8 o’clock, ready to start the day. We began our morning with a wonderful breakfast prepared by Jan which included some potatoes from my dad’s farm that he had shipped to Grandpa and Jan just the day before!

Then Grandpa gave us the grand tour of their house, yard and his shop. I was pretty impressed with his basement shop, everything little thing had a place {including the caulk stored in the joists above} and he is really creative with his limited storage.

Jan is quite the gardener, she has planted everything in their yard and surrounding their house; I just love how she turned this old wooden chair into a planter.

The four of us went for a nice, long morning walk through Bradley Palmer State Park. The weather was great, the trail was shaded and the air just seemed really fresh. There were tons of fallen trees and spiky stumps near the river that the beavers had gnawed and left behind. I was hoping we would see one but no such luck.

For lunch we met up with Mark’s other grandparents, Nana Jude and Leonard, and Aunt Polly at Supreme Roast Beef in Danvers. The place is run by a Greek family and the lady taking our order had a hilarious, thick accent. Mark has been hyping this place up ever since we were dating and I thought it was pretty good…maybe I just don’t know what good roast beef is.

After lunch, we started our two hour drive up to Maine. We were the first to arrive at camp so Mark walked me around and gave me the tour. Shortly after Mark and Pat arrived and we made a quick run to Tony’s Foodland for some groceries.

Then came our first visit to the Dairy Bar. Notice I said first…as in, of many, many more to come. You see, people in the northeast love their ice cream; apparently Massachusetts has more ice cream places per-capita than any other state. Who knew? We got a tip from Mark’s Aunt that the Dairy Bar had introduced a new flavor just for the summer: soft-serve black raspberry and cake batter swirl…and yes, it was as good as it sounds.

We walked around downtown Naples for a little while and found a putt-putt golf place; somehow we ended up getting to play for free.

July 4th

First thing in the morning, we drove to Naples to pick up the boat that we were renting for the week. Once we got back to camp we went on our first boat ride around Brandy Pond and Mark did a little wakeboarding.

After lunch, we headed back to Naples and staked out a spot on the second deck of Rick’s, overlooking the main street where the July 4th parade would be.

After the parade, we went for a nice swim in the lake and I took a nap in the hammock {hammock naps are the best}. Then dinner was at Bob’s where I had my first whole lobster. It definitely tasted good but it’s a lot of work to get all the meat out!

Once again, we boated back over to Naples to grab some Dairy Bar before the big fireworks show. When we arrived there was a huge line and we soon found out that the entire town had lost power, rendering the Dairy Bar’s soft-serve machine out of order and allowing their hard-serve to begin to melt.

After grabbing our ice cream we headed back to the boat and picked a good spot to anchor before the show started. The sunset was so beautiful and the horizon was covered with little lights from all of the parked boats along the lake.

The fireworks are shot off from a barge that is anchored in the middle of the lake and we were able to get a great spot just about 100 yards away. It was by far the best fireworks show I’d ever seen, especially the finale.

We ended the night with a slow cruise back to camp and a few rounds of card games.

July 5th

Mark and I woke up around 6:30am to find the lake looking incredibly pristine. I couldn’t believe how calm the water was.

Mark and his dad were quick to take advantage of the glassy water; it made for a great morning of water sports. I tried my hand at water skiing and it didn’t go so well; I made it up once for about 3 seconds…oh well, I’m willing to admit it’s just not my thing; I’ll stick to sunning in the boat.

For lunch we had guacamole, grilled hot dogs and s’mores followed by another, relaxing swim in the lake.

Following an afternoon of hanging out at camp we took a long boat ride all the way up Long Lake to Harrison.

We spotted 5 loons on the ride back including a pair that had a baby. They are such beautiful birds; much bigger than a duck and very striking black and white feathers.

Of course we had to have some Dairy Bar on our way back and we ended the night again with some card games.

July 6th

Mark and I once again woke up early and this time decided to take a quiet canoe ride along the shore. With the water so still we could easily see to the bottom, spotting a few fish and lots of big rocks.

Pat and I left the guys behind at camp while we went out and did a little shopping in the nearby small towns. We had lunch at a little gourmet deli where I had the most delicious panini made with shrimp and artichoke hearts.

Back at camp, we went out on the boat so Mark could use the infamous disk. Mark’s grandpa made the disk himself at least 20 years ago; it’s a large, flat circle of wood about 4 feet in diameter that the family has been towing behind a boat for years. You can sit on it, stand on it and the guys have even mastered the 360 while riding it.

I think the best thing about camp is all the history it encompasses. The cabin was built by Mark’s great-grandfather and has been a family summer vacation destination since Mark can remember. Hanging on the wall of the screened porch are two water skis that Grandpa made.

One of my favorite things in the cabin is this great old poster map; it illustrates the connection between Long Lake, Brandy Pond and Sebago Lake, showing all of the main buildings and sights surrounding them.

Our last night at camp was a relaxed one, we had sandwiches for dinner followed by our last trip to the Dairy Bar. Then we rode the boat around Brandy Pond on a sunset cruise where we spotted quite a few loons again.

July 7th

After another early morning ski and wakeboard run, we said goodbye to camp and snapped a picture of us in front of the porch. This unfortunately is when the Canon camera decided to die unexpectedly. At first we just thought the battery needed to charge, but after talking with tech support we were advised to ship it back to Canon for repairs…I believe the words “hmm, that light isn’t even designed to blink,” were involved. So the remainder of the photos were taken with Mark’s iPhone.

We drove from camp to Harpswell, Maine to spend the day with Nana Jude and Leonard and their friends who were renting a house right on the Atlantic coast. They had a dock that led down to the water and Mark and I went for a long kayak ride around the bay. The water was a crisp 73 degrees; Mark and his dad got in but I just got my feet wet.

For dinner we drove half a mile down the road to Allen’s Seafood where we bought lobsters that had just been unloaded from the boat literally hours before we arrived. Their boathouse was decorated with old lobster trap buoys and guarded by a friendly old Pug named Wrinkle. There were 3 or 4 other dogs roaming around too, one of which was the largest lab I had ever seen in my life and all of which happily accepted an ear rub from us.

We ate our lobsters outside on a picnic table overlooking the ocean while the sun was setting. The lobster was so buttery and sweet all on it’s own; absolutely delicious. That was probably my favorite meal of the entire vacation.

After dinner we drove back to Ipswich where we would stay for the rest of the trip.

July 8th

We spent the morning catching up on sleep and doing a little laundry. Then we met up with Grandpa and Jan at the Clam Box for lunch. This is another one of those “it’s a tradition” places that we just had to eat at while we were up there. Basically we ate a platter full of fried stuff and it all tasted very similar.

Then we visited Cider Hill Farm, a very nicely kept place run by one of Grandpa’s former students and her husband.

The view was amazing, you could see their rows of fruit trees and produce for what seemed like miles. Scattered throughout the whole farm are multiple wind turbines and groupings of solar panels; we found out that by the end of this year they will be producing over 80% of their own energy. Overall just a really cool place.

Of course we couldn’t skip out on our daily helping of ice cream so we stopped by a place called Hodgie’s, where a quarter kiddie is more than enough and a large is basically asking for a gallon of ice cream. I’m going to go ahead and say that theirs was the best ice cream I have ever had, sorry Blue Bell.

Back at Grandpa and Jan’s house I just had to have my picture taken with a snow blower because you know those things don’t even exist in Texas

For dinner we picked up some Thai food and headed over to the Waybright’s house. We spent some great time catching up {for me, getting to know} Aunt Debbie, Uncle Eric and Shelby.

July 9th

Today was our big trip to Boston. First we drove about 30 minutes to Salem where we walked around town for about an hour while we waited for the ferry over to Boston. We didn’t have time to visit the witch museum but it was still a good time walking around and ogling all of the pretty houses.

At 11am we rode the ferry around the coast to Boston’s Long Warf where we began our 8 hour tour of the city.

First, we walked to Faneuil Hall and had lunch at Quincy Market which is basically a huge, long building with small restaurants on both sides of the long hallway that runs through it.

One thing I love about big cities is seeing the old, historical buildings completely surrounded by all the new, taller skyscrapers.

We continued our walk down Beacon Street to Boston Common which is to Boston like Central Park is to NYC. Just down the street we stopped in at the bar where Cheers was filmed to have a beer and take a break from walking in the heat.

Walking down Boylston Street we came across Boston’s Apple store and of course we had to stop there.

We then made our way to Copley Square where there was a big farmer’s market going on; we perused the stands and then walked across the street to the Boston Public Library. All I can say is wow…that building is so beautiful, I absolutely loved the coffered ceilings and the ornate mosaic tile work.

We made it all the way to Fenway Park before beginning the long walk back to the warf.

During our walk back we stumbled upon Boston’s Victory Gardens. These gardens were started back during WWI and WWII to reduce pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war efforts. Basically it is a large plot of land divided into smaller, more manageable gardens which anyone can rent and grow their own food in.

We grabbed a bite to eat then hopped back on the ferry headed for Salem and then drove back to Ipswich…what a long day.

July 10th

On our last full day we had breakfast with Grandpa and Jan at the Village Pancake House

Afterward, Mark and I drove to Rowley and did a little antique shopping which we both enjoyed. We ate lunch at Supreme Roast Beef again and then following an afternoon of packing and relaxing we met up with all of the family for a big group dinner. It was so great to spend our last night with the entire family enjoying ourselves, definitely the perfect ending to a perfect trip.

St. Louis & the Gateway Arch

March 3, 2010

Over Thanksgiving last year Mark and I flew up to St. Louis to spend the holiday with his step-mom’s family. Every year they have this big family tradition of competing in their own rendition of the Amazing Race where the entire family is divided up into teams of 4 or 5 and they participate in various events with a point system determining a winner. Apparently this year was toned down big time from previous years due to some reckless driving {more like the real Amazing Race} but it was still a lot of fun. One of the events included bowling…left-handed; it was pretty hilarious and our team won that event only because we were the first to figure out that traditional bowling methods simply didn’t cut it for the non-dominant hand. We devised a system of standing at the top of the lane, swinging the ball like a pendulum a few times and then releasing; the results were far more accurate than the many gutter balls our competitors were scoring. All in all it was a fun time with new family.

The highlight of the trip, for me, was going to see the famous Arch. I vaguely remember cramming in a few facts about the structure before an architecture history test but there wasn’t much that stuck so it was great to walk around the museum and learn all about it. We watched the documentary video “Monument to the Dream” in which the entire construction played out; it just blows my mind how amazing architecture is, I can’t even describe it. One thing I remember from the video is that during construction, to ensure the constructed legs would meet up correctly at the top, the margin of error for failure was 1/64th of an inch!

Funny story…as we are walking up to the Arch we spot some little rectangular specs in the structure up at the top and Mark inquired as to what they could be. “They’re windows,” I said, “I’m pretty sure you can ride to the top and look out.” Again, keep in mind that my memory of the structural facts of this monument were pretty vague so I wasn’t 100% sure of myself. Throughout the morning both Mark and his dad kept making little comments about how they did’t believe visitors are allowed up in the Arch, all the while chipping away at the little confidence I had in my memory. Finally they revealed that they had bought tickets to ride the tram up, to which I said “See! I knew you could!” To which they both just laughed and I finally got that they had been messing with me the whole time…ugh, thanks guys.

So we stand in line for what felt like an eternity, waiting for our turn to take the ride up. The tram consisted of 8 little egg-shaped compartments, each seating 5 people; they looked like something out of an old Star Wars episode. As we ascended, each pod individually retained the appropriate level by periodically rotating every 5 degrees or so, keeping the correct orientation while we went along the curved tracks inside the Arch. Once we made it to the top we could look out the observation windows; the Mississippi River on the east side and the city of St. Louis to the west. Since the whole Arch is formed from an equilateral triangle, the sides with the windows were angled downward and if you leaned over far enough you can see the Arch’s shadow directly beneath itself on the ground {it was around noon}. Kinda scary looking straight down from 630 feet up!

On our way back down, Mark and I shared a pod with a nice man and his two young daughters who lived in St. Louis. We started chatting and both got on the subject of where to eat for lunch. He suggested a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place that the locals swear by so we took his suggestion and had ourselves some Joanie’s pizza afterwards. The weather was nice enough for us to sit outside in their patio area, it made for a great experience…the pizza and the atmosphere.

It was a great trip, we both can’t wait to go back!

Cabo…Here We Come!

April 14, 2009

cabo

We finally decided where we’re going on our honeymoon…Cabo San Lucas, Mexcio! I absolutely cannot wait, five days of lounging on the beach with my husband, words can’t even begin to describe how amazing that will be.

Mark just booked our flights this morning so it’s official!