Maine….. Or check off states 48&49, which just leaves Alaska.
October 12, 2013
So do you have to tag blog posts with a #latergram or #whythehelldidittakesolong or #delayedpost type hashtag? Because I seem to not get stuff written in real time, and then never get it written because I feel guilty or weird or something for not posting promptly. Anyway….
Over Labor Day, my niece was married in Maine. The trip to celebrate this marriage was the real reason for our trip to Boston. I grew up in a family which traveled often (in the road trip style that was the norm back then). Between lots of childhood trips, business trips and the love of travel my parents instilled in me, I had been to 47 of the 50 US states. Alaska, New Hampshire and Maine remained (haha that made me laugh) to be conquered. The drive from Boston ticked off NH into the been there done that check off the list column, while Maine made me want to return. Even if the drive from Boston seemed never ending, who knew Maine was such a long state.
The wedding was in the small town of Winter Harbor, a coastal village in the Arcadia National Forest area. The coastline here is stunning due to the rocky nature. We knew we wanted to explore by bikes, so one of the first things we did was ask the Innkeeper for recommendations. She suggested Seascape Kayaks in nearby Birch Harbor. It was a good thing we stopped by on Saturday morning, as they are closed on Sunday. The owner graciously offered to size us to bikes and helmets, and leave them in a rack for us to grab on Sunday.
After securing the bikes we used the rest of the morning before the wedding to explore the island, and take in the beauty of the shore. I was taken with the rock seams between the sparkly speckled granite and the black rock.
The wedding was beautiful, the bride gorgeous. Kiddo’s sister and her Mom were in from Maryland. As was Hubby’s brother, the father of the bride. It was great to all be together to celebrate. From the gift bags in our room to the thoughtful touches like dancing shoes, bug spray and a pre-planned hashtag it was evident much thought and planning had been put ino e event. They even sat us for dinner with another cycling couple!
Sunday began with a wedding brunch, and then our chance to bike tour. Seascape Kayaking is perfectly situated along the 12 mile loop around the Schoodic Peninsula. Nearly half the route is in the one way Park Service road which has several options to stop, picnic, use the potties and take in the views. We even saw a porcupine along the ride. A first for me outside a zoo. Kiddo loved exploring and climbing the rocks along the shore.
After returning the bikes, we drove over to Bar Harbor to look around and grab a bite to eat. Naturally I searched out a brewery for this.Atlantic Brewing and Mainely Meats was our stop. Recommend both for a visit!
We stayed at a charming bed and breakfast in Prospect Harbor. Gracious hosts. Great food (even accommodated my gluten free requests). A wonderful option if you’re in the area. I can’t wait to go back!
Sightseeing on two wheels
August 23, 2011
Recently spent a week vacationing in northern California. San Francisco was home base, but we added a night in Yountville (Napa) and Monterey. As with last year’s trip to wine country, I’d researched possible self-lead bike tour routes and bike rental options. We knew we wanted to bike across the Golden Gate bridge and down to Sausalito. Further south, I was intrigued by the idea of biking past the famous golf courses and ocean views of the 17 mile drive between Monterey and Carmel.
Our first adventure was the Golden Gate trip. San Francisco has several options for renting bikes, especially in the touristy Fishermen’s Wharf area. My on-line research lead me to Bike-n-Roll, as I preferred their wide fleet of Trek bikes. I knew I’d want to rent one of their “performance road” bikes (Trek FX7.3 disc) vs. a “comfort hybrid” bike (Trek 7300). My mistake was not reserving the bikes on-line; partially due to their on-line system not working from iPad, iPhone or Android mobile devices, something I’d suggest they fix. I decided our best bet to get the performance bike would be to go to the main tour center location at Columbus and Mason. After filling out the paperwork and discussing possible routes, we were asked to wait 15 minutes for a couple of the FX’s to be brought over from another store. When that didn’t happen, the store manager offered to upgrade us to Madone 2.1 road bikes or switch us to their “performance” mountain bike, Trek4500. Anticipating (wisely) the crowds on the Golden Gate bridge we went for the upright geometry of the mountain bikes.
The bridge was crowded, particularly at each end, very middle less so, as I suspect many folks walk part way and turn back. Extreme care is needed riding across. Lots of folks walking 4-5 people wide, taking pictures – nose buried in viewfinder, being typical tourists with no care or even awareness of others. Yes, I realize I’m also a tourist, but do try and respect other tourists. Still the views were stunning. This is something everyone should do. Once. Once and done.
Off the bridge there’s a fun descent down to Sausalito. Sausalito is a charming town, full of cafes, houseboats and gorgeous water views,and tons of clueless tourists. We were tired of weaving (or walking our bikes) through crowds, and decided to ride on through.
At Tiburon, views across the bay to the city were stunning. And the Blue Moons (and food) at Sam’s were a perfect reward for a good ride.
Wow, wow, wow. When planning this trip, I’d originally thrown out the idea of a night in Monterey to possibly explore wineries south of San Francisco. But then I realized folks biked the famous 17 Mile Drive past the infamous golf courses of Peeble Beach, Spanish Bay, and Spyglass, and the winery visits went away. For this trip, I decided to rent from Bay Bikes, utilizing their on-line reservation system to reserve a couple of Specialized Sirrius flat bar road bikes.
Bay Bikes is located on Cannery Row the main tourist area of Monterey. They stock many Surrey style bikes and comfort type hybrids, along with some traditional road bikes, mountain bikes and flat bar road bikes. Their fleet seemed a bit older than I would have liked. Nonetheless, they are a great option for renting bikes in Monterey. The employees are quite helpful in determining routes and helping with directions. In fact when I said we were planning on riding into Carmel for lunch, they questioned how often we rode, and suggested that most folks turned around about 10 miles into the ride. Once they were confident we rode (and even seemed impressed that I bike commuted), they offered suggestions for riding around and sites in Carmel.
Taking A Bite Out Of The Big Apple
May 28, 2011
In addition to a lot of walking around New York, we did a bunch of eating and drinking. This was a work related trip (hubby’s work, not mine). Good food, good company and good drink was guaranteed.
Being the Top Chef fan girl I am, I couldn’t go to New York without visiting Tom Colicchio’s restaurant CraftBar. Naturally, we had walked there. Taking a path up Fifth Avenue with a walk through the Union Square Greenmarket. The Andy Memorial brought a smile to my face.
After eating our fill of these delectable sweets, we needed to walk a bit to work up an appetite for our next stop. A tour through Little Italy and on the Chinatown, with a stop along Canal Street to haggle on “real” Rolex, Coach, Louis Vitton, Chanel did the trick.
One of the more unique experiences happened on our first night as we walked to the restuarant the group was met by the trip sponsor’s, and asked to sign the “Cask of Dreams”, which was then rolled down the street to Public, our restaurant of the evening.
This was Derby weekend, so we had to find a place to watch the race and drink a mint julep – Brinkle’s worked out well for that. And, of course, I worked in a Blue Moon or two (including on Broadway at Million DOllar Quartet).
On our last morning in NYC, we walked back to the East Village for sandwiches at Katz’s Deli. Made famous in the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene of ‘When Harry Met Sally’, this Ny Deli is known for their pastrami sandwiches and salami. Loved it.
New York City State of Mind
May 27, 2011
Hubby and I spent a recent weekend in New York City. Despite all my traveling, I have only been in Manhattan one other time. While only 8 or 9 years ago, that trip seems like a lifetime ago – I was such a different person, out of shape, not likely to venture out and explore on my own. On that trip, I was in the city for a meeting, and went from hotel room, to meeting room, to bus with a large group to take us to restaurants or a show. I hadn’t yet discovered how even in a large city like New York or Chicago, biking or walking to explore a city brings it all down to scale. Makes the city more human, more accessible.
And so on this trip we did all the touristy things, but for the most part we walked. A lot. My pedometer said I walked nearly 6 miles on Thursday, over 11 miles on Friday, another 9 on Saturday, and 7 on Sunday. The Trump SoHo hotel was our home base, putting us in a pedestrian friendly spot. On Friday morning, we ventured out with the group on Liberty/Ellis Island tour.
Rather than sticking with the group and riding the bus back to the hotel, we cut out of Ellis Island on an earlier ferry, walking through Battery Park to catch a subway uptown. A subway ride complete with entertainment.
San Antonio Botanic Garden
April 17, 2011
I’m a huge fan of garden touring, be it private gardens, urban gardens or official Botanic gardens. I work this into my travels whenever and wherever possible. On my late March trip to San Antonio, I spent the afternoon at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. When I left Milwaukee we still had snow on the ground, so spending a few hours wandering around plants with flowers and trees with leaves was a much needed tonic for my soul.
The Botanical Garden is laid out on 38 acres with the most formal areas closest to the entrance. You enter through a carriage house, which includes an interesting looking restaurant and a nice gift shop. Restrooms are in the carriage house and in locations around the gardens.
Looking at the garden map, I decided on a clockwise circle around the garden, allowing me to explore all areas. Immediately on entering I was wowed by a stand of poppies in full bloom. I am a huge fan of poppies, but have never been successful in establishing them or growing them from seed in the masses I saw here.
Just past the formal garden was an area called the Watersaver Lane. An exhibit of 6 small “houses” each landscaped in a theme with notes about water and fertilizer required to maintain these. I loved the concept, but wish the wording on the waste of water and chemical need of a typical American lawn was spelled out even stronger.
Continuing around the path were more wild, natural areas planted in natives designed to mimic the East Texas piney woods and the South Texas hill country. Once past this area was the Childrens Vegetable Garden. This was one impressive teaching garden.
Next up was the fountain area and the Japanese Garden. I smiled at the rubber duckies in the fountain, but was told by an employee there were only there for spring break. In fact, she was removing them while I was there.