Travel USA Archives

October 14, 2008

College Road Trip, Take II


Last Spring, we did a college road trip down to Pennsylvania. Over this long weekend, we drove up to Vermont and upstate new York so Dan could visit a few more colleges.


Being that it was prime leaf peeping season, getting a hotel room in Burlington Vermont was a challenge. I think our overpriced not-quite-a-suite (shouldn't a "suite" have at least the pretense of a wall between the bed and the living room?) in the charmless Comfort Inn was the last bed in town. Poor Dan had to sleep on a nest of sofa cushions on the floor, as the hotel couldn't come up with a rollaway bed. And with two out of three of us having a terrible head cold, let's just say that Tylenol Cold PM saved the day. Or night, anyway.

Anyway, Burlington is a wonderful town, with a lively college vibe from the University perched on the hill overlooking Lake Champlain. There's even a fantastic Chinese restaurant, A Single Pebble.


From Burlington, we drove, and drove, and drove. Across the Adirondacks, then through old upstate NY towns that fell into depression when the manufacturing jobs went south in the 50's. As I was stoned on Tylenol Cold, all I remember was a blur of scenery and spilling Diet Fresca all down my shirt. But lookee, cows!


Saratoga Springs at least was certainly more vibrant than it was when my sister attended Skidmore; the town looks really lovely. Dan liked Syracuse University; although the city of Syracuse we all found grubby and dull. Not worth any photos.

January 25, 2009

California Dreaming

So, between FF miles and a $280 roundtrip fare, we're going out for some California warmth over February vacation. Road Trip!

We'll begin in San Francisco, and work our way down the coast to LA. I'm happy just to stare at the Pacific, enjoy not freezing my feet off, and eat some crab and halfway decent Mexican food. We've taken the boys to San Francisco before, but they've never been south. The last time Larry and I did the coast road was at least 20 years ago, so we're overdue. Not much SlowTravel, more an oldfashioned road trip. A basic itinerary at this point:

Saturday: Fly into SF Saturday night, Overnight near the airport.
Sunday: Meet J and C for lunch somewhere--Pescadaro or Santa Cruz; Point Lobos State Reserve; overnight in Carmel.
Monday: Carmel, Big Sur, drive to Cambria. Overnight Cambria
Tuesday: San Simeon, Elephant Seals park, Monarch butterfly reserve. Overnight Cambria.
Wednesday: Paso Robles in am; drive to Santa Monica after lunch. Overnight Santa Monica.
Thursday: LA: wishlist includes Universal studios, Getty Museum, Venice Beach, Tar Pits, Disney? Overnight Santa Monica.
Friday: LA. Overnight Santa Monica.
Saturday: home

April 12, 2009

Sunday in Salem


Larry and I hopped in the car this morning and drove north to Salem. My family has roots in Everett and Chelsea, old immigrant communities just north of Boston. Italian, Irish and Jewish back in the day; South American and Asian today.When I was a child, it was considered "making it" to move to the North Shore towns of Marblehead, Lynnfield, Danvers. I lived in Peabody until I was five, neighboring Salem. Salem is an old shipping town on the north shore which had its heyday in the late 18th and early 19th century. Nowadays most tourists go there for the tacky Salem Witch Museum and assorted witch tourist traps; sometimes ducking into the House of Seven Gables. The city had a long downturn after the shipping era and then again after the early mills and tanneries died out, but its grittiness is receding as people fix up the lovely old buildings and visitors come spend. Salem has a very fine historic area with wonderful Federal and early Victorian homes; a revitalised downtown area, a spiffed up waterfront, and the very interesting Peabody Essex Museum.

The EPM started as a collection of Salem maritime art and the Chinese and Japanese collectables brought back by ships captains. It's been around forever, and has gradually broadened its scope and collection. It has expanded its old building into a huge warren of connecting galleries carrying traditional fine artwork from Japan, Korea, China, and India, materials made for export tot he West, and now contemporary works and native American art. It's a fascinating place to spend a few hours, with well designed exhibits that aren't overwhelming.
Contemporary native American gallery

18th century ships masthead

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April 17, 2009

Weekend in New York


We're heading down to the city tomorrow morning. The focus is on visiting various parents, relatives and friends, but we're actually going to grab some time to have fun in the city, too. Tentative plans:

Drive down Saturday, hang around near my parent's apartment on the UES, probably walk up to Central Park for a bit. We'll leave the boys with my parents, and Larry and I will head downtown to our $89 a night hotel deal. It's a new Best Western way downtown. As long as the door locks and the sheets are clean I'm happy when it comes to hotels, especially when I'm paying under $200 a night in New York. Believe me, it beats putting 6 people and a puppy into my parent's one bedroom apartment. Dinner somewhere in Tribecca or the Village, still working on that. If I can't snag a res somewhere we'll just walk around the East Village and knock some of the preening trendies off the barstools in the cute little bars with $11 plates of two exquisite mouthfuls, and then go elsewhere for a slice and gelato.

Sunday, we'll meet up with some friends for a dumpling and noodle crawl in Flushing. Flushing in Queens (yes, make all the toilet jokes you want) is the large concentration of "real' Chinese restaurants in the NY area--very authentic, very fun to bumble into little dumpling houses where all the signs are in chinese, and hope the lady behind the counter takes pity on you. We use this map as our guide--

Sunday late afternoon, we'll head over to the Lincoln Center area to spend some Barnes and Nobles gift certificates, and go to the new Museum of Arts and Design, the reincarnation of the American Crafts Museum which used to be across from MOMA.
Sunday night, dinner with my MIL in the Lincoln Center area, as she'll be coming out of a concert.

Monday, we'll head up to the Bronx, for a visit to the Bronx Zoo. My kids still love it, and I'll admit I do as well. Arthur Avenue is a 15 minute walk away, a dense area of oldfashioned Italian groceries, markets and restaurants. We'll meet a friend there for lunch, and pick up some bread, cheese and pastries for dinner.
Monday night, dinner with my parents and sisters at the apartment.

Home Tuesday, hopefully in time for Evan's orthodontist appointment in the late afternoon.

July 22, 2009

Wellfleet Weekend


So, last weekend Larry and I ran away from home. I booked a cheap hotel in Wellfleet, two towns from the very end of Cape Cod. I have an unreasonable, decades-long affection for this part of the world, starting from a long-ago family vacation in a mouse-infested shack on a dune. I babysat there the summer I was 15, camped at the oddball campground in Truro during college, shared cottages in Eastham as a young adult. After the kids arrived, we spent a week or two each summer letting the kids chase hermit crabs in tide pools, reading while the kids were napping at the beach, catching fireflies, hiking trails at the Audubon, eating dinners at Mac's when we weren't throwing lobsters into a banged-up pot. We briefly considered buying the cottage next to a friend's place when the kids were small, but at the time the $140,000 seemed obscene. Last year 2-bedroom houses were selling for over $500,000; and even given the events of this year, I don't think things will go back to the early 90's.

The past few summer vacations have been usually in Europe, but we always try to get some time to sit at First Encounter beach to watch a sunset or two.


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August 3, 2009

Weekend in New York


We had another mini vacation this past weekend, this time to NYC. Thanks to my parents who were visiting my aunt, we had the use of their apartment.

Because the weather was so dreadful Friday night, we elected to leave early Saturday morning. We hit the road a bit after 6, and were in the apartment before 10. It was absolutely beautiful weather, a rarity this summer. We hopped on the subway and headed to the American Folk Art Museum near MOMA. We had never been there before, and while the permanent exhibit was interesting, its not something I'm going to be running back to see again. What we really did love was a special exhibit of the work of a contemporary quilter whose works are influenced by kaleidoscopes. Absolutely stunning. I couldn't take photos in the gallery, but you can get a peek here:

We then walked down to Chelsea. We rarely get the opportunity to just walk around Manhattan, so this was great fun. Chelsea's renovated warehouses, brownstones, galleries and restaurants were great for wandering around. We had a nice late lunch at Le Singe Vert (7th Ave at 19th) which felt very Parisian--rickety tables on the sidewalk, dogs underfoot, a French-accented owner kissing everyone, great moules frites.


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May 16, 2010

Plum Island

Larry and I headed north to Plum Island in Newburyport for a bit of hiking. Newburyport is a lovely old town just before the New Hampshire border with many fine old houses, a lively downtown, and access to some nice beaches, walking and kayaking.

We walked through the Parker River Refuge, a bird sanctuary that covers most of Plum Island. The trails are on boardwalks so the fragile ecosystem is minimally disturbed, and most of the beach is closed during the Piping Plover nesting periods of late Spring and early Summer. You follow the trails up dunes, around a salt marsh and then a freshwater one, and back through a beech forest. Judging by the enormous lenses and binoculars toted by the folks on the trails, this is a serious birder hangout. We said "ooh, pretty birds."




For Janet Z. *grin*



Summer is officially here. Lobster roll from Lobster Bob's.


August 13, 2010

Hittin' the Beach


We're heading to Cape Cod with the boys for a week of beach, kayaking, hiking, lobsters, and relaxation before the Fall madness begins.


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