Thursday, July 10, 2008

New England - Day 2


What in the world?? I woke up at 7a.m. by a seemingly possessed doorbell. I look out, but don't see anyone. Maybe I dreamed it? Maybe it was the Shipyard's dock bells... I go back to bed, Ms. Nicely didn't seem to notice it from her room.

DINGDONGDINGDONGDINGDONGDINGDONG.... are you kidding me?! This time, there had to have been someone there. Right? Well, long story short, Ms. Nicely had told me about the neighbor kids, and how intrusive they can be. She wasn't kidding! But once they saw it wasn't anyone they really knew staying there, they left us alone the rest of the time. Seriously, I am on vacation, I don't want to be disturbed by kids if they aren't mine! Since we were up, we decided to get ready for the day.

Today was Exploring Northern New Hampshire While Slipping Into Maine Day. We didn't officially name it that, but we should have. I guess I should say, we didn't really have a plan per se. Kind of a "wherever the road takes us" sort of trip. We had plenty of maps to help us in that journey. We had a few things in mind we wanted to see and do during our trip, the rest was visited as it came along.

We were headed to The BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel. We stopped along the way to get some gas. I saw a funny sign (Only because of the name). I had to get a picture. I swirled out the number so they don't get any drunk calls after you try Shipyard beer.

I believe I was in complete photography nirvana. Land full of lush landscapes and nature, just waiting for me to capture them on film, er digital media. I really believe I could go back just as a photography trip for more than a week! And trust me, just after day 1 I was sure I was going to have to purchase another memory card or two for the camera! But through the miracle of cables, I checked out some shots on the TV and cleaned out the shots I didn't need or were not fond of. We made sure to do this each night.

I loved their signs there. Now maybe it's because we don't have moose, but I am sure the road signs are not a main attractions for just anyone. And I will say, on this trip we saw a bronco on the side of the road. I am guessing it had a run in with a moose. Seeing how the how front end looked like a boulder had been dropped on top of the front hood, and there was no sign of a boulder...

Along the way, Ms. Nicely was having a contact issue, not good when you are the driver and are supposed to be able to see. So we saw a little babbling brook of sorts, she pulled off so I could snap away and she could fix her contact. I had read some info (thanks Mop) about water movement pictures. So this was fresh on my mind to try out. I maybe could have done a tad better with a tripod and did later on (you will see what I mean). Then as I headed back to the vehicle, I saw a sign. The 12 year-old in me came out and took a picture of it (you may have to click on it to read it).

Back on the road we make it to BALSAMS. Beeeeeauuuuutifuuuuullll. Another place I could have spent the whole day shooting! I will let it's beauty charm you! They seemed to be having a natural springs issue in the parking lot. A little reminder, we don't control Mother Nature!

If you didn't read up on it, there is a small town called Dixville Notch that holds their election voting there. It's actually a really big deal! They are the first to vote in New Hampshire!! For some light reading (and shorter blogging) you can go here to find out more!

We left there and continued on the journey, this is where we ended up in Maine for a short time. We missed a road we were going to take, but we ended up with some really cool shots though. First we were at Umbagog State Park, took pictures by Umbagog Lake, and if you can say Umbagog ten times fast... you win. I don't know what you win, except the title of winner. Here is how beautiful it is! Please excuse the artist rendering of us, witness protection program you know! You would think their artist would be better than that...

We continued on in Maine, this time near Grafton Notch State Park. This is where we saw Moose Cave and Screw Auger Falls. Yes the latter was visited for it's name, incidentally I got some GREAT pics there!

You have to admit that Ms. Nicely made a great equipment girl!

As we are leaving Screw Auger Falls, we passed by a cute little pie shack! She had it set up as an honor system, pick out your goodies and put the money in the box on the tree. She had a lot to choose from, we settled on the apple pie. It had a cute little moose on top! And let me tell you, that was THE best apple pie I have had in a long, long time.

We head back into New Hampshire into the White Mountains Region.

On the way back to her family's house, we stopped where the family sugar shack is. After trodding through Poison Oak, oh yes we did, in flipflops, we finally found it. I didn't get very good pictures here like I had hoped, but the mosquito population must have been having a big family reunion that we disturbed and we were losing daylight. After looking around making sure local punks hadn't done too much to the place, we carried an old trunk back out to the road. Then immediately went up to the house and scrubbed our legs,feet, and shoes in the shower. Miraculously, we got it within that 30 minute window you supposedly have after contact, and we didn't break out! We did end up with a few mosquito bites to annoy us though.

I cooked up a quick supper, boneless pork chops, crash hot potatoes, and corn on the cob. Fabulous! And yes, that was our one meal of the day - see, the trend really had started. Aside of some cereal for breakfast and a couple helpings from the candy stash, that was all we had. Frankly, neither of us were even hungry until supper!

We sat down with some more beer, turned on the TV, and talked all evening long. Oh and you better believe we had some pie! What a perfect day. I had made it through without missing the kids and hubby too badly. It was just the break I needed.

Product rave:
More of a food rave
Crash Hot Potatoes
I love Pioneer Woman's blog, and when she added this recipe to the collection, I knew it was going to be a must have. They are perfect. They are not real heavy (as far as a potato is concerned) and they seem to go great with just about anything!
Give them a try!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New England - Day 1

So in the next few days, you get to hear all about the trip to New England I took with my best friend from high school. She needs a nickname... Tanner Nicely, Ms. Nicely will do for short. Her family owns a house just barely inside northern New Hampshire. She wanted to go there, stay, and travel around neighboring states and head into Canada as well. I was so excited and ready to go! It had been ages since she & I had gotten to do anything like this that didn't involve the rest of my family. Finally, our chance to hang out and chat without the many interruptions my two lovely children can bring.

So this brings us to the first day. Nothing extremely interesting this day, it was travel day. We were flying into Boston, renting a vehicle and driving north. Well, ashamedly, it had been 4 years since I had flown (I have kids remember), and I frankly couldn't remember what to do, what not to do. I had all my metal chains and swords in the bin to run through x-ray. I had my shoes off. We were only doing carry on so we could skip baggage claim in Boston. Admittedly, I was a little worried about my carry on contents, so I made Mr. Wizard and the kids wait on me to get through. See, I was traveling with my camera, the whole lot of it, the cables, the lenses, and my tripod (AKA club to a could-be grumpy security person). I wanted to take it after all, I did want to be in a few pics at least! And you never know if you might run into something beautiful along the way that would require a slow shutter speed that ISO can't make up for. I am boring you all already now, I can hear the snoring...

Security was tough! I had to dig in to my carry on to grab my license (oops forgot that part). The guy wasn't very friendly at ALL, but I made it through, tripod intact, and we headed for our gate. Now, I need to rewind a tad because I left out an important fact. I didn't eat that morning because as I had been looking at the airport stuff, I had seen on their list of restaurants - Kolache Factory. My heart skipped, my stomach growled, and frankly the drool was leaving stains. Anyone who hasn't experienced this deliciousness in an all-contained roll, well, who are you people?! Kidding, they aren't well known yet. So as we arrive (on the opposite end of the airport where we needed to be), I was disappointed because it seems for some reason, the airport needs to update their restaurant list. NO kolache, not even a crumb...

So after settling in at the gate, the coffee hit, I had to search for the restroom. While I was up, there was a vending woman with some great looking muffins, not kolaches, but I am starved and jittery at this point. So I get a blueberry muffin and a bottle of water. Though as the girl gave me the total, I had wondered if she heard that I was grabbing a water out of the cooler, and asked if that was included in the price. "Well, I hope a muffin doesn't cost $4!" And a good morning to you too witch. I didn't want to walk off with a water you didn't get paid for... Prices these days, no one can be too sure, especially in an airport! Seriously, if this was a red-eye flight out, I could understand the lack of friendly people... what gives?!

So as we wait, our plane pulls up, everyone rushes to the gate. Now, this phenomenon always gets me. This wasn't a Southwest flight, there are assigned seats. So what is the hurry? Also, there were maybe 30 seats on this particular flight (maybe more I didn't count)... do we really need to board by rows? I mean really... So as we sat down, and got our belongings all stowed under the seat, it was time to read all the magazines I had held onto for this trip.

Ever land in Boston? Well, let me fill you on a surprise. You actually begin your landing pattern - over the OCEAN. Now since Ms. Nicely had forewarned me, I was prepared and took it all in, it was actually very pretty. I was sitting on the side nearest the beach. Then I glanced out our neighbor's windows... and realized just how spectacular that really is. Ocean as far as the eye could see. I don't think we are in Kansas anymore! In fact, we were never in Kansas...

Want to know how small the plane was? In Boston, we left the plane using stairs and walking down onto the tarmac. I felt like I was in Pennsylvania again! The airport is huge but easy to get around. No baggage claim since we did carry on only. We head out to wait for the rental's shuttle. Not to bore you with all those details, we got our vehicle... LOL low milage, for NOW (check our trip odometer in the future post).

We loaded up and headed north. You could see some rain clouds in the distance after a bit into the trip. But no big plans today, so we should be fine. Our only plan was to stop along the way at Wal-mart to get the necessities we needed more than 3oz of, razors, sheets for Ms. Nicely's bed, soda, and car food. Not to mention the candy stash we gathered!! Man I should have taken a picture of that! LOL.

We were leaving Wally, it had been raining the whole time we were inside. Somehow, we missed it! We decided we need to eat, we had only had muffins after all. This started a pattern for the trip... we only ate like one meal a day. Kind of cost effective! We went across the street to Ruby Tuesdays and had an excellent meal. Grabbed some Dunkin' Donut coffee and continued north. May I pause here and reflect again... I love New England and their plethora of Dunkin' Donuts. They were seriously as thick as Starbucks are, here at home!

Here are a couple of pics along the way. And for some reason, I was NOT supposed to see where the "Man in the Mountain" used to be (he fell in case you didn't know). But I got a picture of the clouds all around that particular mountain. It was the same way headed back past it!

We get to the the neighboring town, and head in to get groceries. Our plan had been to cook at "home" for at least one meal a day, to keep our cost down. Got to the house, busted open a few beers, and relaxed and chatted on into the night. You want to know how to get a good night's sleep? Sleep where there is NO children! The beer maybe helped too...

Product rave:
Shipyard Brewing Company
Beer, it's what's for breakfast!
Not really, we wanted something somewhat local and this was mighty tasty. Just be ready to actually chew the stout as you drink!

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July Visitors!

Well, as we had already decided earlier in the year to go home for fireworks, we got a surprise! We found out that Mr. W's brother and his family would be home (from Texas) for a long weekend as well. So this introduces a few more into the cast of players! So we have my brother-in-law, who I will call Moon. Use your imagination, yep you have it figured out, I am almost certain. My sister-in-law, who for blog purposes will be Sister. Then my darling, beautiful niece of who we adore so much, which will be D(rama). Queen. Honestly, George could also have a role as D.King in this family. Never a dull (quiet)moment when those two are together!

So to start it all out, we meet up for a cookout at Sister's parents home. I won't go into naming her whole family to save time. They are an outstanding bunch and so accommodating to include us "inlaws" into their fun and games every time they are visiting. There is a pool... oh man this could spell disaster, I left the suits back at my parent's house. Everyone is there, the kids are getting reacquainted. Uncle Moon goes to see his niece and nephew, kissing on Miss I. and joking with George acting like his was going to throw him in the pool.

D.Queen and Miss I. found that American flags make great window washers, once dipped into the pool. What a fun game that turned out to be!

So everything is going well, food and conversation excellent, and it happened. D. Queen came running naked with swimsuit in hand... crap! I am still eating, maybe Mr. W is done. His plate almost bare, he laughs when I say "We forgot the suits, and D.Queen is ready to swim. Can you go to Wal-mart?". I won't lie and say his response was music to my ears, so I took off in a mood. After purchasing suits for all 3 (Mr. W included - hey someone needs to be in there with our kids) , swim diapers, and swim muscles too, I head back. I walk in to find a crying, upset George... who is sopping wet, head to toe. Apparently Uncle Moon, held true to his threat and George went for a swim. Unfortunately, he doesn't swim well without muscles...

So, George is all upset ONLY because he thought he was going to get in to trouble with me for getting wet, not because he had a near death drowning. Crazy kid, it would be Moon catching my wrath if I had been upset! Okay, okay I should say the guys were all right there and Sister's nephew who was in the pool grabbed him up, he was fine. Sister gathers up the clothes to toss in the dryer, Mr. W is getting Miss I. all suited up and blowing up muscles. George in his new trunks gets all excited and starts to run towards the deep end of the pool to jump in... and falls, scraping both of his knees on the concrete. This is where I could insert a D. King reference. An HOUR he cried and screamed. He finally agrees to get in with Sister's nephew to swim, but not exactly without tears or hesitation.

Time to get dried off and redressed, it is almost time for the parade! We get ready, drive to the other side of town, we have 2 very sleepy and whiny kids lagging behind us while walking to our spot. We find a clear spot and toss a blanket down. What can I say about it, it is a small town parade. Lots of politicians, bands, clubs, and spaces. You know, the spaces where you think "OH, that must have been the last float. Kids, grab your stuff so we can go... Wait, there's more coming around the corner sit back down." We did that like 3 or 4 times. Parade is now over, 2 really tired kids barely making it back to the van.

Now we head to Mr.W's friend's house for friend's mom's birthday. We hardly ever get to see them, and never have time when we are down to visit. We stayed WAY too long. The kids should have had a nap, if nothing else, and we didn't get supper. Next thing you know, time for the fireworks. Now the convenient thing about visiting them, they live across the road from the viewing area, so we have really good parking! We gather up our stuff, throw pants on the kids along with jackets, and hose them down with bug spray.

George was excited, he was finally old enough to "get" the fireworks. Miss I., not so good. She was tired, cranky, and to top it all off she now had bright loud things bursting above her. She covered her eyes and started screaming Go Home, Go Home, Go HOME! You were supposed to tap your red ruby heels together, my dear. I had Mr.W snuggle her head into his stomach and arm to help muffle the sound. I decided then we may as well stay for the rest of them since she had fallen asleep, eyes covered and a scowl on her face.

After the fireworks, we headed for the van. Miss I. stayed as she was, scowl even intact, and George drifted off just after we managed to get out of town. They both were sleeping so sound by the time we got back to my parent's house, neither of them budged as we got their pajamas on them. Such sweet angels when they sleep.