Dates of travel: January 14 - 18, 2016
Lodging: AirBNB near the Garden District and private condo in the French Quarter
Travel planning resources
This was my first trip to New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Scott has been there a couple of times for work but didn't get a great taste of the Crescent City since he ate almost every meal at Subway. Exploring the city together and with my sister, Emily and her fiancé, Jonathan was so much fun. I'd return to The Big Easy in a heartbeat.
We arrived in New Orleans in the early afternoon. We took a taxi to our AirBNB and checked in. We immediately started exploring the city.
Lunch at The Milk Bar
Walked on the Moonwalk along the Mississippi River
Beer at the Decatur Bar at Jax Brewery
Picked up dinner from The Fresh Market and ate in our apartment
Fluffer Nutter donut and nitro cold press coffee at District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew
Stopped at the Children's Resource Center library
Walked around Audubon Park and sat on a park bench to watch the birds
Walked around Tulane University and Loyola University
Lunch at Satsuma
Walked along the Mississippi River Trail near the Army Corps of Engineers to Avenger Park (The Fly)
Beers at The Avenue Pub
Dinner at Reginelli's (the only place that wasn't packed - note to self: always make dinner reservations!)
Emily and Jonathan arrived
Driving tour of New Orleans with Todd, a friend of Emily and Jonathan's
Drove past the new homes in the Lower Ninth Ward (I have mixed feelings about this)
Lunch at Mandina's (turtle soup, shrimp remoulade, and fried seafood platter: fish, shrimp, oysters and crab ball)
Who Dat Coffee
Drank a sazerac cocktail at The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel
Dinner at Green Goddess
Dessert at Sucré
Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde
Walked around City Park of New Orleans and went to the Botanical Garden, Train Garden and Sculpture Park
Rode a street car
Lunch at Shaya
Walked through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Cocktails at the Carousel Bar & Lounge in Hotel Montleone
Relaxed on our balcony at Todd's condo
Walked to St. Roch Market and ended up trying a piece of Manny Randazzo King Cake
Bought a Queens Metal necklace from Frenchman Art Market
Drinks at Molly's at the Market (frozen Irish coffee)
Dinner at Three Muses with Kate and Tim Fukawa-Connelly and Kate's parents
Breakfast at Croissant D'Or Patisserie
Janelle and Emily walked to the Riverwalk, ferried to Algiers and walked around French Market
Scott and Jonathan visited the The National WWII Museum
Muffaletta at Central Grocery
When we return to New Orleans
I knew there was absolutely no way that we'd see all that New Orleans has to offer. Since we visited in January and the sun felt so warm, we spent most of our time outside. When we return, I'd like to visit the many museums and cultural institutions in the city. I'd also like to eat more of the delicious food made famous in New Orleans. I'd also like to go on a few guided tours. We saw a bike tour and a few walking tours that seemed like fun. Because we had just a couple of full days in New Orleans, we stuck to the central part of the city. If we returned, I'd want to spend time near Lake Pontchartrain and take some day trips.
Dates of travel: October 7 - 11, 2015
Lodging: AirBNB - Charming Top Floor in East Lakeview
We arrived in Chicago and took the train from O'Hare to our AirBNB in the East Lakeview neighborhood. After settling into the apartment, we walked to get take-out for dinner:
Lito's Empanadas, 2566 N Clark St (at Wrightwood Ave.), Chicago, IL 60614
Coffee at Bow Truss Coffee Roasters, 2934 N Broadway St
Walked along Lake Michigan on the Lakeshore trail to downtown Chicago
Brunch at L'Appetito Italian Deli, 875 N Michigan Ave
Art Institute of Chicago (special exhibit Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye)
Millennium Park and Maggie Daly Park
Chicago Cultural Center for the Architecture Biennial, State of the Art of Architecture
Anniversary dinner at Girl and The Goat, 809 W Randolph
Intelligentsia Coffee, 3123 N Broadway St
Walked and took the train to Evanston, IL
Stopped by Gross Point Lighthouse and the beach
Walked around Northwestern University's campus
Warmed up at The Coffee Lab, 910 Noyes St, Evanston, IL
Walked to the Bahá'í House of Worship, 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL
Half Acre Beer Company, 4257 N Lincoln Ave
Dinner at Hopleaf Bar, 5148 N Clark St
Breakfast at Ann Sather, 3411 N Broadway St
Walked to Lincoln Park and stopped to enjoy:International Museum of Surgical Science (recap blog post)
Drinks and cheese plate at The J. Parker (recap blog post)
Walked to Goose Island Beer Company, 1800 W Fulton St
Dinner at The Chicago Diner, 3411 N Halsted St
Related: 40x40 List
Dates completed: Thursday, September 3 - Monday, September 7
My first vacations as a kid were trips to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. Since Scott had never been, it seemed fitting to add to the 40x40 list. A bonus is that by going with my parents, Duane and Connie, we were able to celebrate my mom's recent retirement.
Before the trip, I dug up the photos my dad took from our 1983 family vacation. I'm thankful he documented so much of my childhood on film to help me remember all of the fun we had as a family. Thirty-two years later, we revisited many of the same spots. Attractions we skipped this time around: Flinestones Bedrock City, Dinosaur Park, and Storybook Island.
Day 1: Wall Drug & Rapid City
Scott, my mom, dad, and I hit the road early Thursday morning. Our first stop was at a rest stop that has a cute little church on its grounds.
Our next stop was at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Rest Area in Chamberlain. On a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, this is a gorgeous stop on the drive west Interstate 90 through the Great Plains.
As another nod to my childhood, we decided to play License Plate Bingo. We scored 43/50 and didn't find NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, GA, and SC.
Our stop in Wall Drug for their legendary donuts, 5¢ coffee and free ice water also allowed me to recreate some childhood photos.
We arrived in Rapid City in time for lunch and chose Independent Ale House thanks to the DeRusha Eats review. He's right - the pizza is awesome. My mom and I had the daily special - tomatoes, mozzarella, figs and basil. Scott had the spicy chicken and dad had The Hasselhoff.
After lunch we walked around the cute downtown with stops at the Art Alley, City of Presidents sculptures, and Amarillo's Ice Cream.
One of the highlights of our trip was our arrival to Creekside Lodge in Custer State Park. As we got closer to the entrance we noticed our first wildlife sighting of the trip - a few bison near the sign for the lodge. As we got closer we realized it was more than just a small group - it was a huge herd! About 300 bison made their way through the area. We spent about an hour watching these giant creatures wander by. Scott got a little too close for my comfort.
Day 2: Custer & Jeep Tour
Friday morning we had a relaxing start to the day with coffee and breakfast on the deck. We made a trip to the closest town, Custer and also a quick hike around Legion Lake.
In the afternoon we went on a Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour which was better than I could have imagined. Our driver was extremely knowledgeable and gave us a better understanding of how bison are managed in Custer State Park. He was fielding questions from my dad and managed to get us so close to the buffalo that at one point one of our tour companions in the back of the Jeep exclaimed "Can we go see the prairie dogs now!?". In addition to bison and prairie dogs, we saw some pronghorn antelope which I learned on this tour are the fastest land animal in North America and can run up to 60 mph for long distances.
After our Jeep tour, Scott and I needed to stretch out our legs so we went for a hike. Scott of course wanted to hike up a hill without a trail to guide us. I'm always up for an adventure and just hoped I'd avoid breaking any bones. On this hike we saw a beautiful whitetail buck with a large set of antlers.
Day 3: Keystone, Hill City, Spearfish Canyon
Scott's cousin, Don and his wife Slavna live outside Deadwood, South Dakota and so we made plans to meet them at Crow Peak Brewery in Spearfish. Before that, we stopped in Keystone, Hill City, Pactola Lake, and hiked through Spearfish Canyon to Roughlock Falls. While in Hill City, we ran into my uncle Jim and aunt Debra who were also vacationing in the Black Hills.
Day 4: Sylvan Lake, Harney Peak, Crazy Horse, and Mount Rushmore
We picked the perfect day for our time at Sylvan Lake and to hike Harney Peak. While Scott and I hiked, my parents returned to Hill City and also met up with Jim and Debra again.
Before starting our summit to the highest point (7,242 ft) in South Dakota, Harney Peak, we walked along the beautiful shore of Sylvan Lake. If we were to return to the Black Hills, I'd love to stay at Sylvan Lake Lodge which was booked when we made our reservations months in advance.
We were not the only ones with Labor Day weekend hiking plans. Trail number 9 had a steady stream of hikers - human, canine and equine. I can't believe how many dogs and children were able to make the 3.5 mile hike to the peak. Of course it seemed like many of the younger kids were having melt-downs by the time they needed to walk those same 3.5 miles back. Next time, I'd like to try the northern approach which is a 5 mile trail starting at Willow Creek Horse Camp.
After our invigorating hike, we were ready for lunch. We found a picnic area at the Burlington Northern Trailhead on the Michelson Trail located at Tracy City Park in Hill City. That was the closest we ever got to the George S. Mickelson Trail and I hope to make that a part of our next Black Hills vacation. It was one of our more entertaining lunch stops thanks to some kids giving themselves a mud bath in the swampy creek.
Our afternoon was spent visiting the most famous attractions in South Dakota - Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. We started our time at Crazy Horse with a documentary that - while dated - provides a great overview of how the Crazy Horse Memorial came to be. The museum is expansive with many beautiful and interesting artifacts the majority of which have been donated. We chose to skip the Night Blast which only happens twice a year because we wanted to visit Mount Rushmore and also because driving to our Lodge after dark was a little scary. On my life-long walking wish list is the Crazy Horse Volksmarch which also only happens twice a year (this year was in early June and late September).
Our final stop for the day was Mount Rushmore Memorial. After our photo shoot in front of the faces, Scott and I hit the Presidential Trail while my mom and dad watched the film. We stopped off at the sculptor's studio but we were both too tired to actually learn anything about Gutzon Borglum. Hiking the half mile loop was fun with the special treat of gaining a new perspective of the faces as it leads you right under them. It's unfortunate that this trail involves so many stairs and is not accessible to many visitors. While I've heard many great things about the lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore, we opted to get back to our lodge before dark.
Day 5: Badlands
On our return to Sioux Falls, we drove the Badlands Loop State Scenic Highway and stopped a couple times - Pinnacle overlook, Fossil Exhibit Trail, and near the White River Visitor Center for our final picnic of the vacation.
Trip planning resources and inspiration
Dates of travel: May 21 - 26, 2015
Lodging: Emily & Jonathan's apartment in DC, AirBNB in Richmond, and Hyatt Place in DC
We arrived in DC in the afternoon and went to History and Hops featuring Old Bust Head at the Heurich House Museum in the Brewmaster's Castle.
After the tour and tasting, we picked up food to-go from Indigo and went back to Emily and Jonathan's apartment.
In the morning, we drove 2.5 hours south to Richmond, Virginia.
Lunch at The Black Sheep
Walked the Pipeline Trail on the James River
Explored Belle Isle
Walked on the Riverfront Canal Walk
Looked at the murals
Drank beer at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Dinner at Buz and Ned's Real BBQ
Looked at exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Coffee at Lamplighter Roasting Company
Breakfast at Joe's Inn
Walked along Monument Avenue
Walked around Maymont
Lunch on the deck at The Boathouse on Rocketts Landing and watched bald eagles and other raptors on the river
Toured the Virginia State Capitol
Happy hour at Secco Wine Bar
Richmond Flying Squirrels minor league baseball game
Take out from Sticky ToGoGo
Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History at the National Archives Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery
Lunch at the Garden Cafe in the National Gallery of Art
Watched part of the National Memorial Day Parade
Peacock Room REMIX at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Beers at Bluejacket Brewery
Walked around Yards Park
Dinner at &pizza
Returned to Minneapolis on a morning flight
After a lot of research, we decided to stay in three different places on the main island of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico travel resources
Day 5: Acadia National Park
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I started my day with coffee by the ocean and capturing the sunrise. I'm shocked that I had the beach to myself but took full advantage of the alone time by meditating and taking lots of photos. Later that morning, Scott and I had coconut french toast on the patio and enjoyed the bright, warm sun to get us energized for our road trip and hiking adventure.
We drove north on US Hwy 1 and stopped after 40 minutes so we could take a look at The Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory. We didn't go inside the observatory because we wanted to spend as much time as possible in Acadia.
We arrived at Acadia National Park and after paying for our pass, we headed to Jordan Pond House. Lisa Telander Lukis suggested the restaurant for our lunch and the view of The Bubbles. As soon as we were sat at our table, the wind picked up and so it wasn't as relaxing as I had imagined but it definitely was beautiful.
After hiking up the North Ridge Trail to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, we hiked down the South Ridge Trail. The hike took most of the afternoon and we barely made it to Thunder Hole before the sun started setting.
We went to the town of Bar Harbor so we could have dinner before driving back to Lincolnville. It was dark and we were tired and hungry so we just picked the first place that didn't have a wait - Bar Harbor Beerworks. I think I was too tired to really care about anything at that point on the trip. I rallied for ice cream at Mt. Desert Ice Cream though!
Day 6: Local brews
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The early bird gets the worm and boy do mornings like this one make me appreciate my ability to get up early (or inability to sleep). The sunrise was spectacular and once again I had the entire beach to myself.
Despite all of my advanced planning for the trip, I still managed to not pack enough underthings. So, we decided to do laundry in Camden and in between loads we checked out the Camden Public Library and Zoot Coffee. The Camden Public Library is incredible. It recently had a major renovation and it is stunning inside and out. If I lived anywhere near Camden, I'd go to the library just for the view of the harbor.
We drove about 45 minutes south Newcastle, ME so we could check out Oxbow Brewing Company. It was a beautiful drive and a charming part of Maine. I wish we would have spent more time driving around the area. Oxbow had great beers and an even better ambiance. There tagline of "loud beer from a quiet place" rings true.
We continued on to Boothbay and had lunch at Mine Oyster Restaurant and Raw Bar. We walked around Boothbay a little bit and then headed to Boothbay Craft Brewery. It turns out we could have had lunch there and I kind of wished we had judging by the smells wafting out of the kitchen.
When we arrived back in Camden, we decided to go to the top of Mount Battie at the Camden Hills State Park. Normally we would have wanted to walk the trails but we had limited time before the park closed.
Before heading back to the Inn at Ocean's Edge, we had dinner at Cappy's Chowder House which kind of seems like a requirement when you're in the area. We had lobster artichoke pizza and lobster tacos. No chowder.
Day 7: Portland light house, beer and art
Friday, September 5, 2014
We returned to Portland on Friday morning and went to the Portland Head Light, the one and only lighthouse we visited in the land of light houses.
After lunch at Elevation Burger, we went on a self-guided brewery/distillery tour. We started at Allagash Brewing Company on the edge of Portland in an industrial park. We split a flight so we could pace ourselves for the afternoon.
Across the street from Allagash are three more breweries, two of which were open for tastings. We went to Foundation Brewing Company followed by Bissell Brothers.
We took a short break from beer so we could try some distilled spirits at Maine Craft Distilling. The bartender poured small samples while giving us the low down about Blueshine, Ration, Fifty Stone, and Chesuncook.
Next door to Maine Craft Distilling is Rising Tide Brewing Company, co-owned by husband and wife team Nathan and Heather Sanborn.
We lucked out and it was First Friday Art Walk in downtown Portland. We walked along Congress Street and went into Maine College of Art (MECA). We watched several street performances - break dancing, Maine Marimba Ensemble, and a kilted juggler to name a few.
We wanted to check out Portland food trucks so we went to Flea Bites at the Portland Flea-for-All. After browsing through three levels of the Flea-For-All, we were spent and it was time to call it a night. By this point I was done traveling and ready for the comforts of home.
Day 8: Homeward bound
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Our flight wasn't until 1:30 PM but we had already filled up our rental car and we were both just ready to be home so we didn't do any sightseeing before heading to the airport. Before we left, we had breakfast in our room thanks to a stop at the Whole Foods the night before. I picked up some local blueberries and boy were they delicious.
We had a long layover in New York (LaGuardia) and their air conditioning was broken during heatwave so it was not pleasant. I was so ready to be home. During our flight from New York to Minneapolis, we saw a beautiful sunset.
We arrived home to find Stewie and he was so excited to see us. He was well cared for by our neighbors which helped us relax while we were away. It was a fantastic vacation and I'm thrilled we had the opportunity to spend a week in beautiful Maine. That said, it was great to be home and my heart still belongs to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Day 3: Portland and traveling up the coast
Monday, September 1, 2014 (Labor Day)
I woke up early and decided to take a photo walk by myself around the West End neighborhood. One of the magazines I read the previous day, Old Port had an article, "West End: What to do in a day" which inspired me to explore the neighborhood as much as possible before leaving the city for the coast. Deb, one of the innkeepers at West End Inn also provided me with a self-guided walking tour article, "Guide to the Western Promenade" from Portland Landmarks which provides a map with descriptions of the historic homes in the area.
Around 7 AM, I returned to the B&B for coffee and breakfast with Scott. I could get used to starting my days with a walk and quality time with him. We both started with the vegetable juice (I couldn't get over the beautiful color from the beets!) and Scott had the blueberry pancakes with bacon and I had the omelet ingredients made into a one-egg scramble with toast and bacon.
After breakfast, we continued walking around West End neighborhood and made sure to stop by the oldest home in the city, 387 Danforth Street built in 1799 for homeowner, William Vaughn.
To enjoy the beautiful day on foot before getting in the car to drive up the coast, we went on a coffee walk to Tandem Coffee Shop. We chose a walking route that would allow us to walk through historic Deering Oaks Park, designed in 1879. We didn't spend much time in the park but it was beautiful and it seems like it'd be a great place for walking and watching the ducks who have their own home on the pond.
I now know why their website says "If you find yourself in the neighborhood" - it is definitely out of not in an area where you'd be for anything else unless you're a local artist working in a studio (several stopped in for their coffee while we were at the counter). The shop is extremely cute and we had bonus blueberry pie because again, when in Maine!
We continued our walk to Congress Street and stopped at Longfellow Books. I ended up buying "Lucky Us" by Amy Bloom, one of my favorite authors. I also purchased "The Long Walk" by Stephen King because it just seemed like the right thing to do since he was born in Portland, ME and many of his books are set in Maine. I was tempted to buy a few Robert McCloskey books but I knew I'd regret it when it came time to pack (I never leave enough room in our suitcase for souvenirs!)
After our walk, we started our journey north with a planned lunch stop in South Freeport for a fish sandwich at Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, thanks to the suggestion made by Lisa Telander Lukis (not to be confused with her sister-in-law, Lisa "from the Bus" Lukis, my weekly walking partner and friend of 10+ years).
We thought about having lobster or crab but in the end went with Lisa's suggestion of a fresh fish sandwich and she wasn't lying when she said it is the best (craving right now).
Our next adventure is one of the few things that both Scott and I wish we had skipped. Neither one of us likes shopping or crowds so I'm not sure why we thought going to the L.L. Bean flagship store on Labor Day would be a good idea. At least Scott bought a wallet while we were there and we took a photo of the giant boot.
After our lightning fast stop at L.L. Bean, we continued our journey north on U.S. 1to the Inn at Ocean's Edge in Lincolnville, ME. I knew I wanted to stay here before I booked the airline tickets. I originally learned about the Inn from my friend, Peter's Facebook posts in 2013.
The Inn at Ocean's Edge is stunning and exudes calm and relaxation. After our tour of the Inn, we opted to sit on the plush recliners near the vanishing pool and drink a local beer, Peak Organic Summer Session Ale.
Camden is a charming and quaint coastal village 5 miles south of the Inn at Ocean's Edge. We arrived during the "Golden Hour"; the sun casting a beautiful spotlight on the harbor's many sailboats.
We ate dinner at Fresh which is tucked away in an area called Bay View Landing. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the crisp cool evening. I had the Moroccan spiced lentil burger with cured olives, tomato, tzatziki, and pea shoots,on a grilled pita. Scott had the flat iron steak with sweet potatoes.
Day 4: Foggy day on the coast
We returned to the Inn for a nap - the dreariness was getting to us. We decided to go north for dinner and drove 20 minutes to Belfast, Maine which is located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River estuary on Penobscot Bay. We walked along the river before deciding on dinner at Three Tides.
Scott and I both agree that we're glad we experienced a foggy day in Maine. It is a type of weather we never experience in Minnesota (not counting occasional foggy mornings or evenings). I found it especially beautiful in Belfast. I don't remember reading much about Belfast when I was researching coastal road trips from Lincolnville but it ended up being one of our favorite places on our vacation. We both loved Three Tides and independent of each other determined it to be our favorite restaurant on the vacation. The photos don't capture the ambiance created by the deck on the harbor, the lamp shades strung above the tables, and the fire glowing below. We had lobster mac and cheese and crab quesadillas with cheesecake for dessert.
After seeing photos of a friend's trip to Maine last year, it shot to the top of my vacation destination wish list. Scott and I hadn't been to any of the Northeastern states together and neither of us had ever been to Maine so we figured it would be a fun adventure.
We booked our tickets in April so I had more than four months to indulge in internet research and social media crowdsourcing! I started by contacting everyone I knew who had spent time in the state for their suggestions - thanks Kate, Pete, and Lisa(s)! I also followed a blog, Maine Today and Twitter accounts so that I could electronically "clip" anything of interest. I created a Pinterest board and a Foursquare list (which thanks to an app revamp was rendered useless on my smartphone). Thanks to all of this research, I made a detailed itinerary so we'd have a starting place every day (I hate sitting around asking each other "What should we do?"). I knew we could deviate from the plan and just do what we felt like doing in the moment which we did with regularity.
Day 1: Travel day
Our flight from Atlanta to Portland was delayed by 1.5 hours so we arrived later than expected. Thankfully the airport is tiny and picking up our rental car was speedy. It was also a breeze getting to West End Inn, our home away from home for the weekend. The innkeepers, Deb and Scott are extremely organized and helpful. They won my heart by having a refrigerator full of seltzer water, a bowl of York peppermint patties and a giant stack of local magazines at the door. They also prepared a map with restaurants circled including information about late night dining options since they knew we'd be arriving later.
We chose Pai Men Miyake because it is a sister restaurant to one of the restaurants my friend, Kate Fukawa-Connelly recommended and it was just a short walk away from the B&B. Upon arriving at Pai Men Miyake, I was already in love with Portland. We sat at a long picnic table across from a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and were able to tune in and out of conversations of the locals. The food was fantastic - brussel sprouts and edamame for appetizers and cooked salmon "sushi" (Scott made it a point to tell me that since the salmon was cooked it wasn't really sushi) and beef kimchi ramen.
Day 2: Portland
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Booking Room 2 at the West End Inn ended up being one of the best choices I made for our vacation. The bed and bedding were among the most comfortable I've ever experienced and the Inn had all of the comforts of home and Deb and Scott think of every detail to make it so.
We started the day with an amazing breakfast. With your stay, you get a light continental breakfast at 7:30 AM which consists of homemade organic granola, fresh baked muffins, juices and organic yogurt with hot beverage options of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
Between 8 and 9:30 AM Deb provides a menu of the day's breakfast options and Scott makes your breakfast to order. I chose the fruit cup and blueberry pancakes (when in Maine!) with chicken sausage. Scott had the vegetable juice and Belgian waffle with bacon. What a beautiful and delicious start to our day!
We started our day with a coffee walk to Bard Coffee so I could try their nitrogen-infused cold brew. I failed to request no ice and it was served in a plastic cup so I don't think I was able to fully experience the possible benefits of having cold press served from a tap.
We continued our walk to the Eastern Promenade stopping by Eastern Cemetery on the way. Eastern Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the city of Portland.
We walked along the Eastern Promenade until we reached the Back Cove Trail (well it wasn't that seamless since we struggled to follow the Google map directions from one trail to the other). I wanted to walk the Back Cove trail because it would allow us to check out Sundays on the Boulevard in which Baxter Boulevard is closed to car traffic every Sunday May through October and people can enjoy the open street. I thought that it was going to be an event similar to Minneapolis's Open Streets but it was much more laid back and free of programming/vendors. Most people opted to use the established bike/pedestrian trails along the boulevard so I'm not sure the concept is catching on (or at least it wasn't the day we were there). It was hot and there weren't many shaded areas along the trail so to avoid getting overheated, we exited the trail and hung out in Hannaford, a local grocery chain to cool off, rehydrate and eat trail mix. I also checked out the seafood department which is definitely different from our Midwestern seafood department (live lobsters and clams and mussels!).
After Novare Res, we walked around Commercial Street and made our way to Casco Bay Ferry Lines and decided to ferry over to Peaks Island. The only research I'd done is that it was listed as one of the trails on the Portland Trails website so I thought we'd show up and that a hiking trail would be immediately obvious. Nope. Oh well, we just walked along the streets and moved out of the way for the occasional automobile or golf cart.
In hindsight, I wish I had known more about what to do on the island. In the end, we walked around a bit of the southern coast of the island and explored some of the rocky beaches and looked at the cottages - both the quaint, cute little ones and the large mansions.
After walking around for about an hour, it started raining and we realized that if we didn't make a beeline for the ferry we'd have a two hour wait. Since it seemed like there was only one restaurant on the island (and it was packed!), we went back to Portland. I recognized a lot of people from our ferry to the island so I guess we weren't the only ones who made a quick trip.
We returned to the B&B to refresh before dinner. It was still raining so we chose a nearby restaurant, Bonobo Wood Fire Pizza. It was an excellent choice. The combination of it being a stormy night and the many twinkle lights on the exterior and interior of the restaurant made it feel magical. I remember just taking deep breaths and enjoying the here and now focusing on my dining companion, the warmth of the wood fired oven, the smell of the pizza, and the sparkly lights.
We split a house salad (romaine, arugula, spinach, endive with pickled cucumbers and lemony vinaigrette). Choosing a pizza was tough so we did 1/2 Caspian (roasted chicken, smoked tomatoes, garlic & basil) and 1/2 Morocco (spiced lamb sausage, feta and goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and scallions).
It was an excellent first day of vacation. A recap of days 3 & 4 will be posted soon!
Oh, the places we'll go!
Like many of my friends, Scott and I have the goal of visiting all 50 states. When we find places we love, we tend to revisit those places instead of discovering new places to love. Having this goal should help us from getting in a travel rut.
It was fun to retrace our steps and mark our map with places where we've had an overnight trip with numbered map tacks. I don't want the map to get too cluttered so each place only gets one tack even if we've been there several times. We also marked day trips (places where we've had at least one meal) with color tacks.
Here's where we've been to date:
We are going back to Denver this month. My sister is moving to a new place so this spring we're planning a trip to DC but since I want to visit other places we're planning to fly into another city on the east coast and taking a train to DC.