on Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We spent the day driving across upstate New York with Niagara Falls as our destination!
We have a few Taylor Swift fans and she did not let us down as we belted out Welcome To New York over and over!
I had a few apples in my snack bag to be sure to enjoy the State Fruit on the go.
Our first stop was the capital building in Albany.
I am beginning to wonder if our elected representatives ever work? It was shockingly quiet for the capital of New York! We were also surprised at the architecture of the building. We have come to expect the typical dome with a gold top. This looked like something found in Europe. It was absolutely beautiful.
I had read about the Million Dollar Staircase. It took 14 years to complete and cost more than one million dollars back in 1883!
We could get lost in the staircase as it has multiple entries and directions.
There are 77 faces of prominent American figures and numerous other unknown faces. Apparently the sculptors were allowed to carve the faces family and friends in the remaining spaces once the 77 faces were completed. They are all carved out of stone walls and over 500 artist were employed.
It was very impressive. We had worked up an appetite climbing around all those stairs so we headed to get some New York style pizza. The people watching was as good as the food. The way people speak and gesture in New York is dramatically different than in Arizona. The food and people watching kept the kids silent! :)
Time to hit the road!
on Friday, July 24, 2015
We got so carried away in Maine that Vermont got squeezed out. The plan was to end our day at a maple syrup sugar house. There is a cute little farm outside of Brattlebro that offers tours of their sugar house and dairy farm. Unfortunately they were closed by the time we arrived.
After the sugar house we were going to head to the town fromagerie and see Vermont cheese being made. But they were closed too. What? Katie trying to pack too much into one day!? Although, I wouldn't trade our extended lobster dining and relaxing time by the lighthouse to see Vermont's two major industries; maple syrup and dairy production.
We had to settle for stopping by the local market and finding some Vermont made cheese and maple syrup. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the nation and makes 42% of our supply. The girls did get to taste some Vermont maple syrup on their waffles and we brought home lots of maple syrup goodies as souvenirs.
We learned some interesting trivia about Vermont. Montpelier is the only capital in the U.S. that does not have a McDonald's. Vermont had quite a beef with McDonald's when they found out they do not use real maple syrup when they claim to with their Maple Oatmeal. In Vermont they must now offer real Vermont Maple Sugar.
Along with their maple syrup pride, Vermont is proud of their dairy heritage. At one time there were more cows than people. Today there is 1 cow for every 3.8 people in Vermont.
Ben and Jerry's ice cream is produced in Vermont and they give the waste to the farmers to feed their pigs. We tried to find Ben and Jerry's along our drive but could only find Nestle's Ice Cream! Seems their gas stations should support their local producers. :)
On our way out of town the next morning we stopped by the Bennington Battle Monument. It commemorates the only Revolutionary War battle fought on Vermont soil. Vermont has a holiday on August 16th to honor the day the untrained Yankees beat one of England's best trained and equipped armies. The victory had the downstream effect of preventing the Redcoats from cutting off New England from the other colonies and depleting the British forces to the point that they would later that year they would surrender in New York. That defeat was the tipping point for the American Revolution victory.
You can take an elevator to the top of the 306 foot monument to see the three states that joined together to build the monument; Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
General John Stark is believed to have rallied his troops by saying, "There they are boys! We beat them today or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight!" This visit concluded our education about the Colonial history and the Revolutionary War. It was time to rally my troops for a long 7 hour day in the car.
on Thursday, July 23, 2015
If I could replan our New England tour I would have dedicated a day to Maine. I wish we had a day to spend driving up the coastline. Maine was my favorite state.
Just across the border is Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. I knew we had to eat a whole lobster while visiting Maine and had read rave reviews about this special place.
It sits along Chauncey Creek that feeds into the bay. They serve up lobsters and you bring the rest! They allow you to bring in any food and beverages to compliment your meal. Max had some state beers to work through, I had a bottle of wine that needed finishing, and we had a plenty of drinks for the kids. What a lovely idea to offer a picnic style restaurant.
Hank worked on yet another hot dog while the girls tried the crab cakes. Inside the lobster house you could pick your lobster. The waiter thought the 2 and half pounders would be a good size for us to share with the kids.
Neither of us had ever had whole boiled lobster. This was one of my top 3 favorite dining experiences ever.
Sitting along the the picturesque creek in the warm sunshine cracking into fresh lobster was a sensory delight. There is something very satisfying about cracking the shell and pulling out tender, sweet meat.
Karlie was also a big fan of the lobster fest!
Ninety percent of the nation's lobster supply is caught off the coast of Maine.
Moxie is the State Soft Drink. The term moxie comes from the soft drink that was developed in 1876. It was originally marketed as a nerve medicine but has transformed into a bitter soda. You need a lot of moxie to like it! We happen to have a teenager with a little Moxie in her. :)
The Whoopie Pie is the official State Treat. One thing I love about New England is all the vegan shops. We were able to stop at a Co-Op and find a vegan Whoopie Pie for Hank to enjoy since he didn't get a chance to enjoy the State Dessert of Blueberry Pie.
Our next stop was to see one of Maine's most famous lighthouses. We listened to Tim McGraw's Portland Maine tune as we drove up the beautiful coastline. It is such a beautiful landscape.
The Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick was built in 1879. It is one of the most photographed lighthouse in America and the image of it was sent in the NASA Voyager II in 1977.
We loved playing on the rocks, looking in the tide pools, feeling the spray of the ocean, and resting on the rocks. I was in a lobster coma.
We didn't want to leave. There are some places you just have to come back to and Maine is one of them. The crisp and contrasting beauty is unlike anywhere I have been.
Until next time Maine.
on Wednesday, July 22, 2015
One thing we have learned during our States Trips is that we are not big city folks. We start to feel a little claustrophobic. Maybe growing up in the west with so much space and open skyline has contributed to this. We were all excited to get to New Hampshire's beach.
New Hampshire has only 18 miles of coastline yet Hampton Beach is one of the best and most famous in New England. Every June they have a sand sculpting contest that brings artist from around the globe to compete. We happened to be visiting during the week they were sculpting.
We thought we had built some pretty cool sand castles in Destin, but watching these professionals was amazing. We picked up a few tips for next time. :)
Weather might have played a role, but we definitely liked Hampton Beach the best. We have become such lizards living in the desert that we had to laugh at ourselves on the beach. The water was FREEZING! I am sure people were perplexed as they saw us bundled up in our sweatshirts while they were playing in the water and sunbathing. The kids couldn't even keep their feet in the water.
It was great to walk along the soft sand and smell the salty air.
We are beach people for sure. :)
Later in the day after a jaunt through Maine we visited Concord, the capital of New Hampshire.
This was the second capital that appeared deserted. We had the entire grounds to ourselves. Concord has a small town feel with a cute, quiet main street.
They might need some help with their spelling. Phenix Hall made us giggle and miss home a bit.
Unlike Massachusetts that had endless state foods, New Hampshire only has the pumpkin as its state fruit and the potato as its state vegetable. The first potato in the U.S. was planted in New Hampshire in 1719. We learned New Hampshire was also the first of the 13 colonies to declare it's independence from England.
Stonyfield yogurt is made in Stonyfield, New Hampshire so we had to eat some while we were there.
Max found 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale that is brewed in New Hampshire. It refers to New Hampshire's shortest 18 miles of coast. On their site, they say it is rumored that Blackbeard's treasure is buried along the coast of New Hampshire. We didn't come across his treasure but the day spent in New Hampshire and Maine will be treasured in my heart for years to come.
on Tuesday, July 21, 2015
If we were tired from our busy day through Rhode Island, Cape Cod and Cambridge, our second day in Massachusetts was going to make that look easy. We had 12 hours of Boston sight seeing ahead of us!
We were up bright and early to take our Duck Tour through Boston. My sister Mel lived in Boston while she attended law school and told us to be sure to take the Duck Tour. It did not disappoint.
The ride is on Duck trucks that can navigate land and water. They were developed in World War II by GMC to deliver supplies and troops over land and water.
The captain of our duck toured us around the city pointing out the important landmarks and then ended the tour with a splash into the Charles River.
Each of the kids got a chance to drive the DUCK boat!
After we had a glimpse of the city we headed off for the Freedom Trail.
The trail travels through 16 important historical landmarks from the colonial days over a 2.5 mile path that is marked with brick.
We started at Boston Common and wound our way to Faneuil Hall.
I had a print out with the history of each of the points. It was a very educational day. Max and I were both surprised to learn things that we had remember differently from our American History classes. Time has a way of changing your perception of events. We remembered the Boston Massacre much differently from what it was. We were also very surprised to learn how early in our political system propaganda by powerful men directed important events.
Walking through our history was great, but I think one of the favorite parts for everyone was stopping for clam chowder at Quincy Market.
It was so good Hank needed a second cup!
On our way to Fenway park we wanted to stop and see some of the churches we saw on the Duck tour a little closer. Our first stop was the Old South Church, which was built in 1669. While Max and I have been lucky enough to see some amazing architecture in Europe, this was the kid's first experience seeing such grand and beautiful buildings. They just don't make them this way anymore.
Then we went to the Trinity Church and were able to tour the inside. The beauty of the stainless glass windows and murals was breath taking. The majestic beauty of the church made you feel like you were entering somewhere very special and spiritual. We all enjoyed a moment of prayer as a family.
Our soundtrack for Boston was Boston Strong, so we wanted to stop by the site of the Boston Bombings. It was moving to look at the images of the rubble lined street and be standing in the very location that it had taken place.
After a long day of walking around Boston and learning much about our country's beginnings, it was time for enjoying America's greatest pastime at Fenway Park. Max is a big baseball fan and we had so much fun taking the crew to Wriggly, we wanted to be sure to experience one of the most famous ballparks in America.
We got to the park early and the pitchers were warming up in the bullpen. At the end they handed out a few balls and cutie pie Kaitlin was lucky enough to be handed one! It was the highlight of the game. I think Max was more excited than she was! :) Karlie learned how to keep score of the game and we all indulged in the best of ballpark food. We had a home run of a day and the Red Socks broke a 7 game losing streak. Maybe we were good luck!
One thing we did not enjoy was riding the subway. Crowded, smelly with more than a handful of rude people. We had quite the time trying to get all 6 of us on and off. At one point I thought we left one of the kids on the subway. We were all relieved to get back to our hotel and crashed to sleep.
As we left Boston early the next morning, we wanted to finish up our Freedom Trail. We stopped by the USS Constitution but it was closed for restoration. We walked down the dock trying to get a glimpse of it and found this pretty ship, but have no idea what it is.
Next we drove to Bunker Hill Monument which marks the first time the ill prepared and untrained Colonist held their own against the British Army. It is believed the Colonel William Prescott ordered "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" because they were so low on gunpowder and supplies.
While the battle at the time was considered a defeat, the toll it took on the British army encouraged the common Colonist that they could stand up against a well trained and supplied army.
The geographic distance to cover is much smaller back East but there is so much history and so much too see. On these trips it is always hard to decide where to dedicate our time, but I feel like we did a pretty good job covering Boston.
We were all ready to get out of the city and find the freedom of the open road with New Hampshire just an hour away!