Tour Guiding Tales- New England Fall Foliage

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

It is that time of year that many people are making their way to New England to see the fall colors of the trees. New England includes the states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Working as a tour guide I was lucky enough to be assigned on a training tour with a group of fellow tour guides to learn about this area.

I didn’t actually see the fall colors since I trained on the tour prior to the leaves changing colors, but growing up in the Midwest I had seen many fall colors over the years. Of the many cities we visited Boston is the only one that I knew my way around- so there was a lot for me to learn and I took many, many notes. I am going to recap some of the highlights of my tour.

Beacon Hill (Boston)

Beacon Hill (Boston)

Luckily the tour started in Boston so I was on familiar ground. Having good friends who live in greater Boston I headed out a few days early to visit them. We visited Quincy Market, a few of the many old graveyards around town, the Old State House, the Boston Common, Beacon Hill, the Public Garden and Cambridge just to name a few places! There really is so much to do and see in Boston.

Vermont

Vermont

When my tour began we spent a day with a city guide showing us around before continuing on to Stratton, Vermont. Driving to Vermont there were many white tall steeple churches, charming small towns, and a stop at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in the town of Shelburne. No stop to Vermont is complete without visiting the famous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury. Yummy! There really is a quite a bit to see in the state that is the same size as the country of Switzerland. I enjoyed seeing the Trapp Family Lodge as well which is a mountain resort that was inspired by the von Trapp family made famous in the movie “The Sound of Music”.

The Brick General Store

The Brick General Store

From Vermont we continued on to New Hampshire which was known for the Old Man of the Mountain, a rock formation that resembled an old man. I use the past tense for that monument because sometime after I visited here the rock formation fell partially from the mountain. I personally enjoyed a stop at the “The Brick Store” which is America’s oldest general store- there were lots of goodies and my eyes did not know where to focus since there were things everywhere to look at. We also took a ride on the Hobo Railroad around the town of Lincoln.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

I really enjoyed our last destination on the trip- Maine. This state is amazing and after visiting I learned why they call it Vacationland. Being a big fan of the water I enjoyed seeing the boats on the Portland Harbor and the Portland Head Light Lighthouse. The buoys for the lobster traps had amazing colors and the lobster was soo yummy.

Our trip ended back in Massachusetts, but not with a visit to the L.L. Bean clothing store’s Flagship store in Freeport (Maine). All I can say it is good to have money saved for this stop- so many options of what to buy here and with the cool breezes and New England feel it is hard not to buy a fleece or two.

Touring New England in the fall is a win, win situation. There is so much to do and see and the colors are amazing – everywhere.

A few more photos

Swan Boats- the Public Garden

Swan Boats- the Public Garden

Boston, Massachusetts

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory

Trapp Family Lodge

Trapp Family Lodge

Vermont

(day 294)

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Watching the Sunset

Yesterday was a busy day…………

volleyball time

We were at the beach.

volleyball time 2

We were at the pool and ended up playing a little football and volleyball (again). We are slowly becoming a volleyball family- which is great – although I will continue to play tennis too.

restaurant time

We stopped at a restaurant for some pasta to go.

sunset

As we approached the beach on our way home I noticed that the sun was setting. It looked like it would be 5 minutes until it was down so I asked the kids if they wanted to stop to watch. They said yes – so we just pulled on the side of the road to watch it quickly disappear.

beach-car-kids

The kids decided to sit on the car.

view towards the mountains

one last sunset photo

We could not stay to watch all the beautiful colors that follow once the sun goes to sleep, but what we saw was beautiful. I looked at my watch and took a mental note of the time. I would love to return tonight for a repeat, this time with Max and the kids.

(day 293)

Halloween is coming!!

family.2011

The other day the winds came and the temperatures started to drop. I looked at the calendar and saw that October is only a few days away. Matteo picked up a Halloween catalog that had costumes for the family and would not put it down. He looked at it on the way to school and back- constantly asking me to look at this costume or that one. I was amazed at the fact that he was soo obsessed with the costumes.

The kids are actually afraid of the costume stores in person. All of the spooky things at the front of the store scare them. Last year I had them both crying at the entrance and had to carry them one by one to the children’s section of the store. Amazing!! As we prepare to decorate the house for holiday later today I thought it would be fun to share photos of the first seven years of our Halloween costumes since I was lucky enough to become a mother. I too, like my kids, look forward to Halloween night, spending it with friends doing dinner and trick-or-treating in the same place since Malina was 2 years old.

malina.2006

Malina’s first Halloween at 2 months old (2006)

the kids and I.2009

Matteo’s first Halloween at 9 months old (2009)

the kids.2012

We had a blast last Halloween and are excited for this year too!! (2012)

(day 292)

Life without a babysitter

new boots

I can’t believe that I am addressing this topic for a second time in such a short period. Last night was Thursday evening and there was one thing missing at our place- a babysitter. Our latest sitter gave notice at the beginning of the school year that she would no longer be able to look after Malina and Matteo due to commitments at her internship. Great! I have been lucky enough to employ a babysitter to come and help out once a week ever since I have had two kids. I have noticed that things don’t get done around the house otherwise- and this is especially true since I started commuting to work.

Being so busy lately it took me a few weeks to find time to place an advertisement for a babysitter at the local college. Then it was time for the screening. I ended up liking 3 of the 4 candidates that we met. The 4th applicant could not figure out how to deal with the kids’ fighting with each other during the interview so it was an immediate clue that she would not work out.

To make a long story short the new sitter starts next week. After she becomes comfortable with our routine I will finally have some “me” time to do whatever I want; after all if I don’t make “me” time it will not happen. I will admit that my “me” time will not be spent doing super special things, but they will be things that I want to do and that’s all that matters. I am already thinking about starting to swim laps on a regular basis again and hanging out at the coffee shop with a tea and the laptop. Just one more week until we fall back into a familiar routine – I can’t wait.

(day 291)

Camping with the Redwoods

our tent

I have always enjoyed camping, but I must admit something… in most of my camping experiences I have been with people who are experienced campers. This was not the case when my friend Lisa and I decided to do a camping trip in Northern California staying at Albee Creek in Humboldt Redwoods State Park (228 miles north of San Francisco). We had a reservation for our space, a tent, some snacks, and plenty of clothes. I seriously did not know that you need more to camp. Additionally I did not know how to make a fire- but that was my last thought or worry.

We stopped for gas as we drove further away from “civilization”. That’s when we saw overpriced firewood and thought to buy some. We made our way to Avenue of the Giants- and our campsite- which was 5 miles off of this road. Driving, driving, driving we eventually made our way there. Then we set up the tent. Somehow the fire was made.

There was one thing missing. FOOD. Oops! Luckily our campsite was next to a nice family who had lots of food and invited us to eat with them. The next day we hiked around the area and enjoyed the creek. Not being able to ask to eat dinner again with our neighbors (they left after our first night) we made the 28 mile drive to Fortuna for Taco Bell. We picked up some food at the grocery as well.

Chandelier Tree

I love the Redwoods. They are gigantic. They are beautiful. We did some major driving on this trip as well. There is so much to explore including the silly roadside attractions with many themes all related to the Redwoods which surrounded us. My favorite attraction was the giant sequoia drive-thru tree- yes, the tree was so large that you could drive your car through it.

the lost coast

By far my favorite moment of our camping adventure was driving on California’s Lost Coast. We started in the woods and after many twists and turns ultimately came out to the naked Pacific Coast so different then the same Pacific Coast that I live minutes from. What I saw was surfers, cows and fog. Yes, there were quite a few cows just across the street from us as we drove along the coast. It was amazingly peaceful here. After being next to the coast our drive took us inland and we visited the quaint town of Ferndale which is known for its’ Victorian style homes.

On our trip we also visited: Sonoma (for wine tasting), Mendocino, Arcata, Trinidad and Eureka. I love this part of California – you are really a part of nature- the trees are nothing less than amazing. But brace yourself- you will see many hitchhikers, catch whiffs of people smoking marijuana, see a ton of logging trucks moving massive logs, and see quite a few hippies. I’m just saying….

I was fortunate to later become a tour guide and have the opportunity to see this part of the California Coast many more times, but it was never quite the same as roughing it and being one with nature camping on the land of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Here are a few more photos from our trip

Albee Creek

Our campground- Albee Creek

Chandelier Tree 2

Drive-Thru Tree

Carson Mansion

The Carson Mansion is located in Eureka

Miniature Victorian Home

Ferndale, California

Trinidad Lighthouse

Trinidad, California

Mendocino Coast

The Mendocino Coast

(day 290)

Eating in an Italian Restaurant

I love to go out for a good meal. One day we went out in Santa Monica to eat Italian food- surprise, surprise! We do eat other kinds of foods, but it’s Italian at least 50% of the time. That’s a good thing since everyone in my family enjoys Italian food (and Max is of Italian decent too). Max does most of the food ordering when we go out, even when I pick my own entrée he orders it with the waiter. It is somewhat old fashioned, but nice.

antipasto misto

This particular photo is of an antipasto misto. It looked so good that I had to take a photo! By the way it tasted delicious too! You can see Max in the background about to drizzle it with olive oil- after all no meal is complete without a little olive oil to season it.

While we ate an antipasto misto accompanied by a few pizzas (Italian not American style) the kids had pasta with bolognese sauce and pizza. It was another yummy meal at Trastevere on the ever so popular 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

(day 288)