Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trip Stats

States Visited: 17 (WI, IL, IN, OH, WV, PA, DE, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, ME, VT, Ontario, MI)
Countries Visited: 2 (USA and Canada)
Total Roundtrip Mileage: 3891
Days: 11
Hours Driving: 48
Longest stretch of driving: 13 hours on Day #11
Farthest spot from home: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
Favorite Joint Spot: Provincetown, MA
Marianne's Favorite Spot: Acadia Nat'l Park
Danielle's Favorite Spot: Newport, RI
Least Favorite Visit: Atlantic City, NJ
Most Surprising Locale: Stowe, VT (Super cute and awesome people)
Best Food: Girasole's with Jeff in Pittsburgh
Best Seafood (according to Marianne): Lobster Roll on Martha's Vineyard
Best Dessert: Blueberry pie in Bar Harbor, ME
Best Urban Experience: NYC
Best Hotel: Salem/Danvers, MA
Most Unique Hotel: Moffett House Inn, Provincetown, MA
Best Drive: Highway 2 through NH and VT
Favorite University Visit: Brown
Best Scenery: Acadia National Park
Best Attraction: 1. Broadway show 2. Top of the Rock 3. Maid of the Mist
Best Tour: Martha's Vineyard Sightseeing Tour
Longest Commute: NYC
Most Lines of Traffic: Newark, NJ (13 lanes of traffic going 1-way, I kid you not.)
Most Expensive Parking: Boston, MA ($28 for 2 hours)
Best "Street": Canal St, NYC
Most Unexpectedly Pleasant: NYC
Friendliest People: Everywhere!!!
Best Candy: Our unique creations from Make your own chocolate bar in Hershey, PA
Best Sporadic Stop: Lucy the Elephant
Favorite Signage: Moos Crossing, Brake for Moose, Hundreds and Hundreds of Collisions Each Year!
Coolest Sighting from the Road: Whale on the drive between Newport, RI and Wood's Hole, MA
Sweetest Capitol City: Montpelier, VT
Best Cup o' Joe: Blue State Coffee Company
Best Beverage: Homemade Apple Cider from Local VT Apples

Special Thanks to:
Jeff, Josh and Tony!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Black Bean Brownies

So you know me, always up for trying new things. Well, in anticipation of a high school friend visiting tonight, I decided what better than to greet her with good-for-you brownies. My mom told me about these awhile ago and I finally found a recipe I thought I could pull off. It's from the "No Meat Athlete." I'm a big fan even though I have a long way to go on the athlete part.

I digress. Anyway, I used his black bean brownie recipe. I was tired last night so I attempted a few short cuts... BAD IDEA. I tried to use a small potato masher versus the puree function on the blender. I know, I know, huge mistake, disastrous mistake. But in my defense I was ready to hit the hay and the idea of cleaning yet another small kitchen appliance did not sound appealing.

So a long and sad story short, they were not very good. They were very lumpy and bumpy. Jared would not even attempt to go near them... not even close. I'll need to try it again when I have the energy to dig out our blender.

On a brighter note, I did stumble across this black bean and sweet potato recipe that I will be trying very soon! Here's picture of the goodness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Goodbye, Phil (the female)!

We've had our beloved Phil for right at 2 years. He has grown from a quarter sized baby turtle into a big healthy turtle. We loved him, but I knew he wasn't leading the life he could be. Our 20 gallon tank just wasn't enough room for him to explore and swim but whenever I got him out to play outside (while I watered plants) or to explore the basement (while I did laundry), he got really stressed out and started hissing at us. Not a happy camper.

Anyway, after weeks and weeks or deliberation, I agreed to let my husband attempt to re-home him. I was very clear that that may mean interviewing people, scheduling a time where they come to meet Phil and so on. In the end we had over 20 inquiries within 24 hours. I only liked 2 as potential new families for Phil. We decided to meet one and go from there.

It was a great fit! He was well versed in turtles and in taking care of them. He has several turtles of his own at home. He has an outdoor enclosure as well as an indoor area as well. He also has several smaller tanks for any that become ill or pregnant. He even informed us that Phil is actually female, so he is now a she and is now called Philomena.

We've come to the conclusion that Philomena is moving up in the world. She is going to have several other pals to hang around with a large outdoor and indoor area to run and swim around. The new owners have also agreed to keep me updated occasionally on how she's doing. I do miss her, she was so fun to watch and interact with but I think she's going to be so much happier now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Well, I made it home. What a wonderful, exhilarating experience. I'm still sorting out all of the sights in my mind.

I can say that nothing is quite as beautiful as this...

And that nothing is quite as sweet as this... (nor the 11 hours of sleep that followed!)

I'm so very excited to be home sweet home!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


This Day #11 has been a total blur for me. From leaving Canada at 6 am, driving through the Canadian countryside, emerging in Michigan, Dropping M off with her cousins in Michigan to driving the last 8 hours alone which included an hour of time spent moving only 10 miles.

Our drive into M's cousin's house!

A complete blur. Lots of driving, lots of states, changing time zones, lots of traffic and lots of 20 on XM20. Oh, the Morning Mash-up, how I will miss you.

But, I will say that I was never more excited than I was when I pulled into my driveway.

Friday, September 24, 2010


We left Stowe, VT, early and headed straight to Niagara Falls. It was an 8.5 hour drive primarily through Vermont and Upstate New York. All in all it was an uneventful drive with each of us taking turns driving and sleeping. Gorgeous drive, though! Driving into Niagara Falls, Canada, we had our first glimpse of the Falls.


We left early so that we could have ample time through customs/immigration and so that we would make it in time for a Maid of the Mist boat ride. It's one of those things that you just HAVE to do while you're there.

Anyway,  it was a great way to experience the falls. We got soaked, M especially. I tried to hide when we got really close to the falls. I kept "risking it" by bringing out my camera in the really misty areas but that's where I captured this beautiful rainbow! 

After the Maid of the Mist ride, we walked around their touristy area and ate a late lunch/early dinner. We also did some shopping... gasp, I know. You're so surprised we did some shopping. 

After we'd seen enough of the area we hoofed it back to the car and headed to the hotel. Since we were tired we put on our pj's and watched Letters from Juliet on the laptop. Fantastic, by the way. Well worth the wait. 

Once we were adequately rested, we decided it was time to go see the falls light up in different colors and grab some dessert. I tried to get some good shots of the lit-up falls, but my camera was tired and grumpy and not at all willing to cooperate so it will just have to remain in my memory along with all of the other beautiful things I saw but couldn't capture on film. 

Niagara Falls was beautiful and something I enjoyed seeing. I think I still prefer Gullfoss in Iceland because you can actually climb up right near it (they have a little less safety/security regulations, I guess), and some Swedish gentleman agreed with me in the middle of the boat tour. 

Oh, Canada!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We left Maine and headed into New Hampshire. This drive of Day #9 was by far the most beautiful drive (consistently) of the whole trip. We got up early and headed out at the advice of my dear friend, Stacy, who loved Vermont when she lived out east. I was glad we did. We drove hours upon hours through the fall foliage of the green and white mountains. Our excitement grew with the number of moose crossing signs. 

I kept wishing that I had the guys from American Pickers (love that show!) with me because they definitely need to scout out Highway 2 through VT and NH. From the looks of it, they could find some impressive stuff. I wanted to stop but seeing as how 1. I had spent too much money already, 2. we were kind of on a timeline and 3. we had no room in the car left; we didn't. I just looked on and dreamed of what I could find inside. Had my MIL come along, I think we would've stopped. I think together we would've talked ourselves into it and just strapped our treasures to the roof of the car. I keep envisioning the Chevy Chase movie when they tie Grandma to the roof and I keep laughing out loud! 

Moving on...

Our first official stop was at Mt Washington in Sargents, NH. Apparently the tallest peak on the east coast, nestled in the green mountains of NH. We were true leaf-peepers here and enjoyed the area thoroughly. We stopped and ate in an open grassy area and just enjoyed nature. We also did some souvenir shopping and we found this locally produced hand cream in lavender (for me) and lilac (for M). Despite the $8 price tag per TINY bottle, I had to bring some home. LOVE IT! 

From there we headed into Vermont and Montpelier (pronounced, as I learned that day, MOUNT peel YOUR -- not MONT-peel-E-A, as I pronounced it prior to arrival). Montpelier was the sweetest little capitol city ever. Absolutely adorable.

We strolled about the downtown and ate at a little restaurant called the Skinny Pancake that served all natural and organic, primarily local, crepes. Yum! Our lunch was delicious. 

We shopped around in a few art galleries and took some cute pictures of this cute town. I just can't get over how cute and quaint that capitol city was.

For dessert, we made our way the 20 minutes to Ben and Jerry's! Quick tour but cute facility and we got mint chocolate chip ice cream during the tour. Afterward I also enjoyed some chunky monkey and maple ice cream. The Vermont maple was incredible. I will say that I got my ice cream fill and after some photo ops we decided to hit the road.

We then went to the Von Trapp Family Estate in Stowe, VT. First things first, am I the ONLY person in the continental US who did not know that Fraulein Maria was real????? It was like finding out that the Tooth Fairy is actually real. I was kind of speechless for awhile, thinking, "how did I miss that history lesson?" 

Anyway, their estate was gorgeous and right in the middle of the mountains. They also provided me with the garden I would like to have one day in the distant future. I figure I'll start small and develop it from there. While I was busy paparazzi-ing the place, I noticed that the chefs were out there digging out some herbs and veggies for the dinner that night. Perfect!!  We saw lots of deer and wild turkeys on the drive in through our gravel road entrance (we apparently followed Lou when we should've followed the road signs). 

After that we went into the town of Stowe and to our cute lodge for the evening. It sat right on the edge of a small creek right in the middle of the mountains. Super cute. Marianne had to do laundry so I decided to take myself on a date into downtown Stowe. It was a great night. I met a lot of really nice people this night (including two mountain-men Matthew McConaughey look-a-likes for M but she wasn't with me) and walked around the town. There were cute stores and restaurants and an elementary school? I accidentally stumbled upon a school where karate must've been letting out. Kind of felt like a creeper so I kept it moving. Had a good time out and about but headed back a little while later to get a jump start on sleeping.

Sadly, this was as close to a real moose as I got. For $15,000, you can bring him home. Yowza!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Portsmouth, NH, was our first stop of the morning where we went to Prescott Park and walked along the pier and the gardens. Afterward we walked along the town and had a delicious breakfast at a small local cafe called Colby's -- my tofu scramble was delicious!

From Portsmouth, we headed up the coast to Acadia but along the way we saw some stunning views near Portland and Benton (I know, right!! How cool.). The fall color has really popped out here in Maine and the drive in was just gorgeous.

We spent most of the day in Acadia National Park on Mt Desert Island. We did the 27 mile loop and took some excursions on some of the better sights. We stopped like every 5 minutes for 10 minutes of picture-taking. This is a beautiful park where the ocean meets the mountains. It's like nothing I've ever seen before. The beautiful cliffs overlooking the crystal clear waters.

After Acadia, we headed into Bar Harbor. We walked around enjoying the atmosphere, did some shopping and ate a great (but steep) dinner at Testa's. M finally had her lobster. I had a difficult time watching her eat it, but she seemed to enjoy it. We both topped off the evening with homemade blueberry pie with Maine blueberries.

We're finally back in the hotel and ready for an early start tomorrow.

Bowl of Envy

I found this beautiful bowl at Williams-Sonoma but not the $50 price tag. So I did some bargaining and I found this great bowl on Amazon for more than half the price.

Love it. Love it. Love it. Happy (belated) birthday to me. Thanks, N&E!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today we covered the Cape Cod National Seashore, Boston, Cambridge, Harvard and Salem. We experienced a lot in a really short time.

This morning started with a walk along the pier (above) and town in Provincetown. Once we headed out of town, we went to the National Seashore where we walked along the picturesque beaches and M looked for shells while I played with any dog I could find -- a 10 month old golden named Carter to be specific who happened to "follow" us to every beach we managed to go to. The views were just what my heart had been waiting for. The tall prairie grass, the blue skies, sandy beaches, and cute wooden fences. Now this is pure pleasure!

After we left the Seashore, we meandered down the Cape stopping for pictures and just taking in the area. We arrived in Boston around lunchtime so we parked, shopped, ate and toured the Fanheil Hall area. What a fun section of town? M ate some Clam Chowdah and some Bahston Cream Pie. Love the accents... How You Doin'? We even got our picture with a giant Kraft macaroni... Nick, isn't this great? Go, Kraft! The kid thought we were so gorgeous -- oh, well, maybe just funny looking -- that he took our picture, too. Maybe we'll end up on the cover of a Kraft macaroni box. HAHAH! I couldn't believe how much of Boston was so close together... but, boy, was parking steep!

After Boston we went to Cambridge to tour Harvard. What a site? Simply gorgeous and the atmosphere was less stuffy than I thought it would be. I guess I thought it would be more serious, but it was actually a really nice visit. Everyone we met was friendly and it was easy to navigate around campus. We also got a nice glimpse into Cambridge as we came in and out of campus since "Lou" was having some problems.

Once we got checked into our hotel, our last stop was in the historic district of Salem where the Salem Witch Trials were held. What a night? We started by meeting my supervisor's best friend, Tony, at a local Thai restaurant. He's vegan, too! It was fabulous. I, for once, got to share a meal!!!! Oh, the simple things. Anyway, we started with boiled endamame (my favorite) followed by pad thai (no egg) and ginger sesame tofu. YUM! Both dishes were great. The tofu was tossed with bell peppers and water chestnuts.

After dinner, Tony headed home and we headed to our Night/Ghost Tour of Salem. SCARY! I don't like scary to begin with so why I thought I'd like a ghost tour was beyond me, but it kind of seemed like the thing to do around here. The tour was about an hour and a half through the 10 most haunted spots in Salem. Again, SCARY! Not just spooky, but SCARY. Did I mention it was scary.  See any ghosts below?

A lot of fun facts but I sincerely hope that I sleep tonight since we have a long drive tomorrow. I think I should be ok.. I hope!

Another fun and busy day!