NYC!

Aug. 14th, 2016 08:20 pm
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
We're back from Summer Vacation #3 (#1 was a week in Maryland in July, #2 was a couple of nights in a cabin in Maine last weekend). The drive home from New York always leaves me feeling so much more drained than the drive there. But Drew pointed out that we also walked 6 miles this morning before leaving the city, so there's that.

We drove down Friday morning, it was a surprisingly smooth ride, not as much traffic as there normally would be in the morning, and we triple-protected against West's motion sickness- half a chewable Dramamine, those sea sickness wrist bands, and lollipops made for morning sick pregnant ladies. It worked! And the Dramamine did not dope him up too much, so we were ready to hit the ground running on arrival. We parked at the Met and started our visit there. We walked in via the Greek/Roman statues wing, so West immediately saw statue butts and thought that was the height of hilarity. Got some comically overpriced lunch at the museum cafeteria. Saw the armor exhibit, the medieval exhibit, the Egypt exhibit, more ancient stuff, and European paintings. All while playing Pokemon Go, because the entire museum was covered in lures the whole time and there Pokemon everywhere. Talked to someone from Miami who was happy to see how into the game everyone is up here. After the museum we went to our hotel, which was in a great location, was pretty comfy, and had a super sketchy scary elevator. So I took the stairs a lot. Anyway, after freshening up, we walked down to the area where we knew we were having dinner, stopping in stores along the way because it was a thousand degrees and like 200% humidity, it was seriously epically uncomfortable the entire weekend. We went to The Strand, Forbidden Planet, Dylan's Candy Bar, and a Lego store (NYC business establishments got a lot of our money this weekend). Once we got down to The Village we stopped in a bar for a quick beer before dinner, then headed into Jekyll & Hyde for dinner. I had a groupon for dinner, which is the only way that place is remotely affordable, and even with that I ended up feeling like it was waaaay too expensive for what it was. We thought it would delight West, but he was kind of terrified the whole time. He did laugh at some things, and I think the rose colored glasses of time will make it a fun memory.. eventually. The food was beyond meh. Luckily we were right across the street from Big Gay Ice Cream, so we got delicious ice cream after dinner, and actually walked all the way back to our hotel from there. It was a lot of walking and West was a trooper for it all. It's not a Meger vacation until we have walked a punishing number of miles every day!

Saturday we got breakfast at a super New York corner diner that was super tasty. Then we walked up to the Nintendo store to drop some cash on Pokemon products. We played Pokemon Go the whole way, then went up to Central Park for more Pokemon action. We walked back to our hotel and got lunch at a bar with soccer on tv and a good beer selection, then I made a quick shopping detour to the row of awesome Korean beauty product stores (our hotel was in Koreatown). West and I attempted to nap at the hotel for a bit, completely unsuccessfully. We'd intended to do a ghost walk in the evening, but by the time I went to buy tickets that day they were all sold out, which was a bummer. So, change of plans, we took a bus way down to Bowery and Banyard, and then walked around Chinatown and Little Italy. Got some gelato because it was a thousand degrees and we lived off ice cream all weekend. And the gelato was delicious. We walked all the way to Avenue B to an HP Lovecraft themed bar that turned out to be underwhelming in its devotion to the theme. After that we found a bar specializing in hot dogs, so West could have a hot dog for dinner. A mouse totally ran across the floor in the place, but what can you expect from a restaurant below street level in New York.... We went back up to the area around our hotel (by cab this time, we aren't total gluttons for punishment, that would have been a crazy walk), Drew and I got some dinner, and that was the end of the day.

This morning we walked through Times Square to get to Ellen's Stardust Diner for breakfast. Ok, it's a total tourist trap, and in keeping with our food theme of the weekend, it was super expensive for meh food, but the waitstaff sing while you eat (I thought it would be like all the waitstaff singing to tables individually, but it's one person at a time singing with a microphone, so it's not as chaotic as it sounds). West was totally delighted with it, so it was worth the price tag and mediocre food, and looking like total tourists. We walked up to Central Park again, did more Pokemon Go-ing, then walked back to our hotel to check out. And that's that!
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
We just had a vacation, and it's been way too long since I've posted here. Our vacation was just going down the Maryland to visit the in-laws, but still, I haven't been at work for a week, so that feels pretty good to me.

Our trip started off with West throwing up all over me just as we landed at BWI last Friday. So that was fun. We were sitting close to the front of the plane, so everyone else on the plane got to walk by us as I tried to clean us up with a handful of paper towels and all of the wet wipes I carry in my purse (note to self: replenish purse wet wipe supply stat). All while calmly telling West it's no big deal, lots of people do it, that's why those little bags are there. Those little bags are great if you get some warning that your companion is going to blow chunks before said chunks are blown. So then we walked through the airport while my shorts were soaked through with vomit, and lurked in a corner at baggage claim until we could get clean clothes out of our suitcase. What a start!

We saw fireworks on the 4th at a minor league baseball game that 1) took foreeeeeevvverrrr for them to play, and 2) got rain-delayed halfway through when the heavens opened up on us. But by the time fireworks were on the rain had stopped, and we had great seats in which to view them.

On Tuesday we went into Baltimore for the children's museum, a stop at the Maryland Historic Society to see their mastodon skeleton, and finished the day with a trip to a remaindered book warehouse that was awesome. Children's illustrated abridged versions of Shakespeare, Greek myths, and the Canterbury Tales- yes, please!

Wednesday we went into DC so I could book a half day of work at my DC office (and get four blissful hours of peace and quiet and not having to hear "uh, mommy?" five bazillion times). West and the fam went to the natural history museum, saw a few dinosaur fossils and watched tarantuala feeding time.

Today we flew back home. I set off the explosives detector with whatever explosive substance I had on my palms. Oh boy! I got the extra special go-into-a-tiny-room TSA pat down. That was... thorough. The lady doing it did say "nice shirt" about my Veronica Mars t-shirt. I was a little rattled by how non-communicative everyone involved in the process was, as I was led around by a guy who only spoke in grunts, and it was confusing what they wanted me to do pre-pat-down. But I ended up kinda feeling bad for the TSA lady who has to feel up strangers all day, because that must feel kind of lousy for her, too. ANYway. The flight was a little bumpy but otherwise uneventful, and West kept his breakfast in his stomach.

And tomorrow we have a final day of vacation!
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
We had a surprisingly AMAZING time in New York this weekend!

After the cut! )
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
Day Five, Friday, Inverness-Loch Ness-Fort William-Loch Lomond-Balmaha

Our biggest driving day, and the first day of the trip when it super rained for a lot of the day.

We started off bright and early and just made it onto the first Loch Ness cruise of the day. It was an hour boat ride, the wind was brisk (ok, it was freezing), the sky was gray, but it was awesome.

After the cruise we headed on to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition. It came highly recommended by our tour books, and we obviously needed to do something Nessie related, but I can't say that I echo the recommendation. It was kind of interesting, but it was basically just a bunch of videos in different rooms.

Next, we went down the road to Urquhart Castle. Here's another part of the castle. It was a nice tumbledown castle. Drew says some of the Highlander movie was filmed there. We managed to explore the entire castle and get inside the visitor's center for lunch just as the rain started, and it was pouring by the time we left.

The rest of the day was rain, rain, and more rain. Luckily, this was the day we'd planned to be just driving for hours after the castle, so we got in the car and I white-knuckled it down the A82. The views were still amazing even in the rain, and hey, I didn't crash the car or run it off the tiny windy roads! Victory! We stopped in Fort William (unremarkable except for Outlander nuts like me) for a quick break- mostly, I had to pee and I needed to stop driving for a few minutes. T went in search of a stamp, and Drew and I went off in search of a bathroom, and ended up ducking into the free West Highland Museum strictly for their bathroom. Classy! Also, I got a Tunnock's tea cake somewhere in Fort William, and it was a taste sensation. I might be obsessed. So we got back in the car for more driving. We drove through Glen Coe, stopped to step onto Rannoch Moor (very desolate, rainy, and barren), and drove the length of Loch Lomond (very pretty but too scary for me to appreciate because OMG the road). Our hotel for the night was on the other side of Loch Lomond, in Balmaha, The Oak Tree Inn. Look at how cute and picturesque it looks! Reality was a little different. I do think that in the summer, on nice days/nights, it's probably really beautiful and nice. On a rainy, cold night it left a bit to be desired. This was, sadly, the most uncomfortable night of our trip because the rooms are tiny and there's no sound insulation so we heard everything going on in all the rooms around us, and it sounded like they were all having parties. The inn is a big draw for hikers who are setting out or coming back from the West Highland Way, and I think if that's your thing it's perfect for you, but since that was not our thing, it was just kind of meh. We got dinner at the inn, and Drew & I did a bit of reading in the bar, but the bar was crowded and hot, so we grabbed some drinks from the store that's part of the inn and retired early to our room.

Day Six, Saturday, Balmaha-Glasgow

I had planned for the night at Balmaha because I wanted one more night in the highlands, but knowing what I know now, I do wish we had just pushed on to Glasgow and had two nights in Glasgow. However, our Glasgow hotel was weird and I think I would have been disappointed to spend two nights there. In retrospect, Drew maintains that he loved the hotel because it was like a British sitcom. The hotel appeared to be managed by a very nice lady who was super helpful in the morning, but she kind of disappeared in the evening. Her son, the lead singer of this band was bartending that night and we did have an awesome conversation about music. He got so excited and gave me a huge list of Scottish bands to check out, and I was able to give him a few bands he'd never heard of. That was actually a highlight of the trip and was super awesome. Talking about Scottish music with a guy in a band! OMG.

Backing up, we got into Glasgow in the morning, panicked about the lack of parking by the hotel, Drew and T got the very nice hotel lady to help clear out a spot for me to park in the tiny hotel "parking lot." We were close to the Necropolis (giant Victorian cemetery on a hill) so we hiked up there and explored that in the rain. The rain cleared out and we got some stunning(?) views of industrial Glasgow. We checked out the Glasgow Cathedral, then started our march to explore the city. It rained off and on pretty much the entire day. Like, it would downpour for ten minutes, then clear and be sunny, and repeat. We walked around the city center until lunchtime, got lunch, then Drew set out for his soccer game. T and I kept walking around, as I had a couple of record stores I wanted to check out. We found them and checked them out (Mono records, owned by a guy in the Pastels, and Love Music). I talked to a record store guy about the new Twilight Sad single. Yay! We continued on and eventually took a break at the Willow Tea Room. We kept on walking until we needed another break, and stopped at the Kelvingrove Museum for a bit. Then we pushed on to our meeting place with Drew, The Sparkle Horse. This was one of the placed I was really looking forward to, and it lived up to my hopes! It's owned by a guy who was in the band Bis. Upon internet research after the fact, I am 99% sure that guy served me our first beers. OMG! Drew joined us, we stayed for dinner, then got a cab back to our hotel because we were super on the other side of the city. I'd love to go back to Glasgow and stay in the West End area, it was very much the Cambridgey/Somervilley college area of the city. Had our music chat evening at the hotel bar, and that was the end of the day.

Day Seven, Sunday, Glasgow-Maryland

That's it. We drove to the airport without mishap, had our flights without any problems, and got back to Baltimore to a very excited and happy West. I wish we could have had a few more days on our trip, but I think in reality we pushed it as far as we could be gone from him, and I really missed the little dude by the time Sunday rolled around. So that's our trip! We flew back to Boston on Monday because it would have been too much to try to fit another flight into the day. So glad we did that! Hopefully someday we can go back to Scotland and do a slow travel vacation where we stay in one place and really relax and possibly get outdoors and hike a lot.
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
I think I fixed all the broken picture links in my previous entries. At least, I hope I fixed them.

Day Four, Thursday, Fintry-Doune-Pitlochry-Newtonmore-Inverness

This was the point in the trip when we lost all track of time and were like "what day is it? It can't be Thursday!" This day was my favorite day of the whole trip.

Our goal for the day was to make it up to Inverness, where our B&B for the night was, but with stops along the way. First stop was Doune Castle. This castle is where a lot of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed (look familiar?), some shots of Winterfell on Game of Thrones were filmed here, and most importantly, it is Castle Leoch on Outlander. Here's the courtyard inside the castle walls.

We had some minor road snafus on our way out from the castle but eventually found our way to the highway and started north into the highlands. We stopped in a super cute little town called Pitlochry for lunch. I will probably add a picture when I get my film back from being developed, though it's possible I just didn't take any pictures. It was a cute town, lunch was tasty sandwiches consumed on a bench next to a babbling brook.

We carried on up to Newtonmore, to the Highland Folk Museum, aka Jennie's Happy Place. The day was gorgeous and sunny, and the museum is an amazing place with old timey buildings all over the place that are decorated as old timey businesses and stuff, and there are people in costume dropping knowledge bombs about history. We had a nice chat with the lady pretending to be a 1930s school teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, then hiked up to the area of the museum (the grounds are huge) where Outlander filmed the episode Rent. It looked just like the show! You can go inside all of the historic stuff and touch things and poke around! here's an inside of a 1700s croft. Also, there were ponies and sheep. Seriously, I can't overstress how much I loved this place. It was incredible. And it was free! OMG. I would have paid 20 pounds to go in (I did give a donation in the donation box, I'm not a monster). I'm guessing they are going to see a huge uptick in visitors because of Outlander.

We had still more driving to do to get to the Inverness area. I had planned one more stop to see Culloden, but it had been a long day and we were nearing the time for the Culloden visitor's center to close anyway, so we decided to just continue on into Inverness, find our B&B, and chill for the evening. Our B&B was so fabulous! Inverness is mostly B&Bs, and I had a hard time finding one that had two rooms open on this night, so I went through a long list to arrive at this one, but I'm so glad we ended up where we did. The owner was so nice, the rooms were cozy, and the breakfast was the best breakfast we had on the whole trip. Drew and I walked around looking fruitlessly for a store that would see him a Scotland soccer jersey. Then we all went out for Indian food. The food was good, though it was sweeter and more coconutty than the Indian food we get here. We learned that night there is a vast cultural divide between American diners and UK restaurants. Apparently it's considered rude for waiters to bring the check to the table without it being specifically asked for. Meanwhile, we think it's rude to bother waiters by asking for the check. So we sat at our empty table long after they cleared the plates away, wondering if we were ever going to get out of the restaurant. The restaurant owner came over for a chat, and we were just like seriously, how do we get out of here. Drew and I ended the night going to read books in bars- we tried one very gritty local pub and felt super out of place (or at least, I did, because I was the only woman in the pub, it was weird). We landed at the hotel bar next door to our B&B and it was comfy and pleasant. Oh, and here's the view from our B&B. It looked cool at night, too.
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
Day Three, Wednesday, Edinburgh-Stirling-Fintry

We bid farewell to Edinburgh with only a modicum of directions/road induced panic. Our first stop of the day was Linlithgow Palace. Like many crumbling castles in Scotland, Linlithgow has some Mary Queen of Scots and various-kings-Jameses claims to fame. It's basically an empty shell of a palace, but there were lots of nooks and crannies to explore. It also happens to be an Outlander filming location, which was my main motivation for wanting to visit. It had a cool fountain. There weren't many visitors that morning, just us and a school field trip where half of the children were dressed in historical garb and giving reports about history to their classmates. As you do. I like this picture because it feels so empty, but you can imagine the old timey days when it would have been a... thing. The view from the top of a tower (possibly the tower where Queen Margaret or some other fancy lady went to cry, at least, according to the guidebook). When we returned to our car in the parking lot some rando dude was taking pictures around our car, causing me to leap into a panic. I ran to him yelling "what did I do wrong? I thought I parked right!". He replied that he was just taking pictures of the wall our car was parked in front of- an answer of which I'm still dubious because it was an unremarkable modern wall and there was plenty of it that was not directly in front of cars. But whatevs.

Next we trundled on to Stirling. We had originally planned on visiting the Wallace Monument first, but parking and my inability to understand a map dictated that we do Stirling Castle first. Before that we walked down a huge hill to a cute little pub for lunch. Then we walked back up the huge hill to the castle that was atop still more hill. The theme of Scotland, by the way, is HILLS AND STAIRS. Everywhere. Stirling Castle was awesome, it was the most done-up castle we visited, with sweet unicorn tapestries and weird face ceiling decorations. There were even a few costumed people pretending to be historical folk. Look at this proper castle realness. Magnificient view, too.

Onward we rolled to the Wallace Monument. The photos of smiling people on that website are a lie. The monument is perched atop a very high hill that you must ascend to get to the monument. The monument itself consists of 246 stairs with a couple of landings where people grimace at each other in communal self-pity for paying 10 pounds to walk up 246 stairs. That's a lot of stairs. The stairs are all turnpike stairs, very narrow, and there is only one set so people are going up and down the same tiny twisty staircase. Here's a nice picture of the Scottish flag at the base of the monument. The view from the top of the monument was spectacular, but I was too winded and nervous about the two-way stair traffic to really enjoy it. Also, I guess I only took pictures up there with my clicky disposable camera, which is currently being developed somewhere where film still gets developed.

After all that, we headed to our hotel destination for the night, Culcreuch Castle. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the evening was just gorgeous. Check out this amazing castle grounds scenery. We had dinner in the dungeon bar. It was tasty. I had my first and only whiskey of the trip. It was disgusting. Also, our badass room had original, hand-painted wallpaper that was imported from China in 1723. OMG! History! It was really cool. We stayed in a real, actual castle! At breakfast the next morning, one of the castle staff told us that Outlander had filmed on the castle grounds! The actors and actresses used the castle rooms for costume changes! OMG!
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
Day One, Monday, Glasgow-Edinburgh

We finally got ourselves sorted, picked up our rental car, and drove off from Glasgow onto the M8 to Edinburgh. By the way, I did all the driving over there, and I rocked it! Nary a scratch on the vehicle. And I kind of suck at driving and really suck at parking / de-parking. No scratches, but our psyches were worn and scratched by my complete ineptness at parking (I often need people to get out of the car and motion me into a space as if they are directing a large plane down a runway).

Our hotel in Edinburgh turned out to be in a charming old-looking building, but our room was super comfy, and it was a very pleasant place. Our first order of business after dropping our stuff off was to seek out some dinner. We wandered about, and after being shut down by a place that seemingly had delicious burgers but did not serve food on Mondays, we found ourselves at Nandos. This is hilarious to me because after coming home I discovered the Nandos is blowing up the internet. How timely of us! It was an unremarkable dinner, and marked the first (but not the last!) time we would be confused about protocol in a Scottish restaurant.

After dinner, we walked down to Princes Street so we could get cheap clothes at Primark to get us through until our luggage could join us. Then, we headed over to attempt to go to The Real Mary King's Close, but they were sold out for the evening. As luck would have it, we were across the street from where all the ghost tours leave, so we wandered there and were just in time to get in on a tour of some underground old timey, totes haunted, vaults. It was pretty creepy, and the tour was entertaining. We ended the tour right down the street from a Brew Dog brewery bar, so we capped the night off with a beer and then headed back to the hotel.

Day Two, Tuesday, Edinburgh

Luckily we had planned for two nights in Edinburgh, so even though were disappointed to have lost half a day of our trip, we still had plenty of time to get in our major must-sees.

We spent the morning at Edinburgh Castle. Pretty sweet, huh? Behold, my inability to properly frame a picture! The castle was awesome, there was so much to explore, and their displays were informative and interesting. Also, one of the areas of the castle is where the Black Dinner was held in like the 1400s or something, and that is what the GoT Red Wedding was based on. Here's a sweet view looking out from the castle.

After the castle it was time to wend our way down the Royal Mile, and we bought tickets for a later tour of The Real Mary King's Close. It's a hugely popular attraction, and for good reason, that was really entertaining and was an hour well spent. Before doing that tour, though, we had some time for lunch (coronation chicken sandwich!). We were right next to St. Giles Cathedral, so here's a picture of it. We did a lot of walking around, so by the time our Mary King's Close tour was done we were ready to call it a day on touristing and settle in for some drinkin'. We went back to the burger bar we'd been denied the day before, had some tasty beers, had some tasty burgers, and then moved along to a couple of different bars. Woo-hoo, vacation!

SCOTLAND!

May. 4th, 2015 12:45 pm
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
Vacation in one week! I am sorting out logistics like a boss!

Car service to get us to/from Logan: Check

Pet sitter sorted: Check

Crazy notebook full of driving directions, points of interest opening times, reservation numbers: Work in progress. Notebook supplements my crazy Google spreadsheet, since heaven forfend we don't have internet access to figure out exactly when Doune Castle is open, damnit.

Monty Python & the Holy Grail rewatched to have relevant castle in mind for full appreciation upon visit: Check

All manner of assorted first aid and toiletry items ready to be packed: Check

Just watch, all this planning and I'll forget something completely essential like my passport, but I will have extra travel containers of Advil, Pepto, two things of glasses cleaner in case one isn't enough, and more hair products than is reasonable despite the fact that the inevitable Scottish rain will turn my hair into a frizzball in two seconds.
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
We had a mini vacation this weekend! Friday we took off to the northern climes of the White Mountains. Left around 10 am, stopped in Woodstock NH for lunch at a brewpub that turned out to be really awesome. It's a brewpup attached to an inn, in a cute little town at the foot of the mountains, Woodstock Inn, and I would love to go back for a night sans-child, that would be fun. So then we moseyed up to Jefferson, checked into our motel room, and then went off for Super Fun Times.

We took West to Santa's Village, a magical wonderland of whimsy and joy. Ok, I am laying it on thick, but I went there a handful of times as a kid and really loved it (though, to be totally honest, Storyland was always my favorite, and Santa's Village was my brother's favorite... so we went to Santa's Village more often). Went into the park for a couple of hours at the end of the day so we could do a few rides and get a return pass for the next day free. We returned to the motel, which was just a two minute walk down the road, hopped into the car, and drove for miles in search of decent food. The closest we could come to decent food was Pizza Hut, which tells you the dire state of culinary opportunities in that area. Got back to the motel and let West run wild in the playground for a bit, then the motel had a scheduled camp fire with smore's. West was running on fumes at that point, it was past his bed time, and he barely kept it together for whimsical marshmallow roasting and eating.

The next day we took one look at the motel's free breakfast and made a break for a local diner instead. After breakfast we drove north for a while in a vain attempt to get West to nap a bit because he was already cracked out from not sleeping enough during the night. Drove into Vermont, saw plenty of creepy broken down barns, and then it was time for Santa's Village Round Two, with [livejournal.com profile] incandes_flower's family. We had a great time, and the kids had so much fun together. Of course, wrangling two 3 year olds is not exactly a picnic, and there were plenty of tears and pointless struggles and West refusing to do things he would enjoy if he would just try, but overall, I think he's going to have very fond memories of the trip. It is a lot of thankless and difficult work for parents to manage a day like that. I actually have some serious gratitude that my parents took us to so many amusement parks and little vacations when we were kids, because now I know it was probably mostly annoying and exhausting and exasperating to deal with my brother and me probably running around being cranky/tired/ungrateful/fighty. At least with just West we don't have to listen to two children fighting all the time.

This morning we all went back to the Water Wheel for breakfast, then hit the road. This afternoon I went grocery shopping and realized that was a BIG MISTAKE because apparently Market Basket employees are protesting the shenanigans going on among the family that owns the stores, so their food trucks made no deliveries this weekend to their stores. The produce and meat shelves were literally barren. It was a kind of scary reminder of just how much we depend on a potentially precarious food supply chain. So groceries took like two and a half hours today because I had started my shopping at Market Basket in Danvers and had to go to Beverly to actually get all the perishables goods I needed. Sigh. Now I should really go to sleep, but I have a new Maggie Stiefvater book and if I start reading I will probably stay up way too late.
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
First child-free vacation, completed! We so needed some time for ourselves, and nothing says vacation like walking most of the length of Manhattan in a day.

We took the Bolt bus down on Thursday, met up A-Dot for dinner at a really nice bar, and went to see a cheap UCB improv show that was done by some of the Daily Show staff writers. We stayed at the Library Hotel that night. The hotel had a rooftop bar, and the night was pretty nice, if a little brisk, so of course we had a drink up on the roof. The hotel is stupid expensive, and it was pretty luxurious. They upgraded our room for no charge when we got there, and we happened to be put into the Law books room. We had a great view of Madison Ave, but with the view came the price of it being loud really early in the morning.

Friday we went to the Frick Collection to look at some art. It was surprisingly worth it. The building is gorgeous, and it's a reasonably small collection to look at, so you don't get art fatigue. Maybe I'm weird getting tired of looking at priceless works of art, but there's only so much I can handle. So that was totally worth it. We wandered around some after that, got lunch, then moved along to check into our next hotel, the Kitano. OMG, I want to live there. Everything about this hotel was so comfy, the beds and pillows were amazing, the toilet seats were heated (!), it was super nice. After a disco nap we walked down to the Village to our favorite place in the city, Vol de Nuit. Moving along, we grabbed some pizza and then made our way to Burp Castle, which is now my new favorite place in the city. The bartender regularly shushed everyone, and amazingly, people obeyed! It was awesome. Great beer, a place where you can actually hear each other speak... if only more bars could be like that.

Saturday we saw a bit on the news about a festival in Tribeca (there was a film festival and a family festival), and we also knew there was a street fair on part of 8th Ave., so we walked down to Tribeca via 8th. A few hours and some sore feet later, we popped onto the subway to head back up to midtown. Grabbed some lunch, then we figured we could walk up to the Met slowly and stop at some bars on the way. It turns out that at a certain point on 5th Ave bars kind of disappear, or they become only too-fancy-for-us hotel bars, so we ended up walking all the way up to the Met with no breaks. Seriously, so much walking. We had a ghost hunting tour of the Met scheduled for 5:00, so we hung around until that started. The tour was The Ghost Doctors of NY, us, and another couple on vacation. The other couple talked about how their house in LA is totally haunted and showed us a video of their pots falling off the wall hooks in their kitchen by what could only be supernatural means. So we all walked around the Met pointing EMF meters and thermometers and geiger counters at things to look for ghosts. Say what you will, but there was one area of old portraits where the EMF meters went totally bananas and the temperature was fluctuating wildly, and we were pretty sure we were onto something. Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and a nice way to see a museum we've already been to a few times in a completely different way. The looks we were getting from people were pretty priceless, too. Some people definitely thought we were crazy, but some people looked like they wished they could get in on the hunt, too. After all that, we headed back to our general hotel vicinity for dinner and drinks. We ended up wandering into a practically deserted bar called The Archive. We ended up chatting with the bartender and stayed out way later than we intended (and I drank more than I should have, a lesson I swear I never learn in New York). That turned out to be lots of fun.

This morning we caught the 9 am Bolt bus back to Boston. The bus, ugh. It's cheap and all, but now the cheap buses have to load/unload way out in the middle of nowhere, and there was no organization about lines or which bus was going to Boston and which was going to Baltimore, so it was just total chaos for like half an hour. I wish the train was cheaper to be a more viable option. Anyway, that's it, that's our little trip to NYC. West had a great time at Camp Grammie & Grampy, and he turned up the cutes all evening.
wildflowersoul: (Little Mermaid)
Vacation! We got back yesterday from a fantastic friends-group vacation in NH. It was as exhausting as I thought it would be, but West had such a great time, it was totally worth it.

For his birthday, we brought up a cake from our local bakery that we had special ordered to look like Captain Hook's birthday cake in one of West's books, and we had an Elmo pinata that was a big hit.

Monday morning we took a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad. Monday afternoon we spent a few hours at Storyland. One of the reasons I wanted to have a kid was to take them to Storyland. Seriously, I have been talking about Storyland since before we got pregnant. Going to Storyland is one of my most cherished childhood memories. So we went, and West really loved it. We rode a ton of rides, he got to shoot water from pirate cannons (his "gun shooters" that he was way too excited about), I got to ride the log flume and relive the childhood terror of the Los Bravos Mine and pass on that terror to West West. Storyland gives you a free return pass if you enter after 3, so we got a return pass and went back the next day, to break up the trip into manageable chunks. West's face of excitement on the teacups and some of the twirly rides was so priceless. So we made some childhood memories for him.

Wednesday we went to Echo Lake in the morning, which was absolutely gorgeous and relaxing and fun. I love a nice shady lake with a sandy beach. That afternoon we headed to Diana's Baths, a waterfall area in the White Mountains National Forest. It was a nice gentle not-quite-a-mile hike through some pretty woods. Pretty, but we only spent like a minute looking at the waterfalls, because what else are we going to do with a three year old there, and then headed back to the hotel.

Yesterday before heading back home we detoured through the White Mountains to get to a UFO abduction site on the other side of the mountains. The drive was stunning, just beautiful trees and mountains all around for about an hour. After seeing the UFO site (which, incidentally, is right at the Indian Head Resort, which I nominate as a contender for a nice place to stay for a future Santas Village trip, because it looks like a nicer resort than the Red Jacket we stayed at this time). After that we stopped at Clark's Trading Post for some more whimsy before a long drive. Their bear show is pretty cool, I had read a good article about how well they take care of their bears, so it was not sketchy in terms of animal welfare, they really love their bears. We thought we'd have a nice gentle train ride on their little train and it would be fun times and smiles for West. Unfortunately, their marketing provides little detail about the "wolf man" portion of the train ride. They have this guy dressed like a homeless old timey prospector carrying a (fake?) rifle yelling jibberish at the train for most of the train ride. He follows alongside on foot, and for part of it drives an old jalopy with a (fake?) machine gun mounted on it. He's mic-ed, so his yelling comes through the train loudspeakers. There are some loud bangs from the guy's "land mines." There are some nice set pieces of a fake mine and fake crazy homestead for the wolf man, I don't see why they couldn't have just had animatronics for their little fake mining setup for the train to go through, that would be cute. Poor West was traumatized for life, he was so scared he was just curled up on Drew's lap with his hands over his ears. It would have been kind of cute/fun for older kids, I think, but I was so uncomfortable with the pretend schizophrenic yelling, it just squicked me out so much that this was supposed to entertaining. Looking up reviews online, I guess I'm in the minority because people seem to love this wolf man schtick. Anyway, it was an interesting stop on the road but we are allll set with that tourist attraction for the future. Drove through the NH lakes district on the way to drop West off in Maine, those lakes look amazingly beautiful, I totally would love to do a lake vacation up there sometime.

So that was our vacation. Yay!
wildflowersoul: (strawberry shortcake)
I have the travel bug so bad right now. I want to go to Europe. I want to lie on a beach with a coconut filled with a Mai Tai. I want to cruise from Istanbul to Budapest (I mean, seriously, look at this trip!). I want to hike around Scotland. I want to see Paris and drive around the French countryside and loll by the Mediterranean. I've been browsing house sitting websites and Groupon getaways and Amex points travel.... maybe next year we can figure out a big trip. We're getting away to the White Mountains this summer and I'm super excited for that. I think next year the timing will be just right to pack West off for a week at a grandparent's and maybe our Amex points will multiply sufficiently by then to be useful.
wildflowersoul: (Default)
So this past weekend we had a big Maine weekend and had a blast. Friday we went up to Monmouth to drop West at my dad's house for his first grandparent overnight (which went amazingly well, kid slept until 7 am Saturday morning, that's later than I slept Saturday morning!!). Drew and I went to Portland, checked into our B&B, and walked through the Old Port. It is just such a cute, cool little city. There are multiple bookstores and actual record stores! Plural!

We stopped at The Old Port Sea Grill so Drew could get an oyster fix. I had a Pimm's Cup to kick off the night. We then moved along to The Wine Bar, which was super cute and just what I want from a wine bar. Unpretentious, generous pours, the bartender even gave me a taste of another bubbly because I was having some Domain Chandon. I could have stayed there all night, dangerously since wine really goes to my head, but we had other bars to crawl. Next it was on to The Thirsty Pig. They have a fantastic back patio, and they make tasty sausages. You can't go wrong. Finally, we headed to our ultimate goal, Novare Res, our favorite Portland bar. We snagged seats on the patio and settled in for an amazing evening of Belgian beers. Ok, I enjoyed the evening a little too much and spent most of the night in drink regret when I was trying to sleep later, but it was worth it.

Saturday we walked around a giant art festival in Portland for a while, then slowly made our way back north. Collected West to head to our friends' pig roast on the other side of Monmouth, and had a great evening hanging out with folks, eating delicious bbq foods, and getting bit by many angry mosquitos.

Finally, made it back to Salem in record time Sunday morning and had a regular old Sunday doing chores, hanging with West, the usual.

A fine, fine weekend.
wildflowersoul: (Default)
It feels so nice to be home!
wildflowersoul: (Default)
Why are librarians so gung ho on second life?? I don't know anyone who actually uses it.

Just made $50 from Westlaw, so now I can afford to have dinner tonight! Yays. I'm actually spoiled for choice in microbreweries in the general convention center vicinity, which is good. If it were more bearable outside I'd be keen on wandering and exploring, but I can't deal with the outside for longer than 10 minutes. So now I'll visit a few more exhibition booths to enter to win monies and prizes, and then I will wander in search of cupcakes and beers.

Sorry for being Bloggy McPostalot, but I am lonsely here all by myself (and my hotel doesn't free wifi, so I have to get all my interneting out of my system at the convention center)
wildflowersoul: (Default)
OMG. DC feels like a hot wet wool blanket.It is seriously gross, I think I will take our winters if it means being able to function in the summer without sweating gallons. Which is too bad, as I have always entertained the idea that someday we might move to DC, given that all my dream jobs are here, unattainable as they may be (White House librarian, Congressional research office researcher, librarian for a congressional committee...).

Last night I grabbed dinner (sangria and pizza!) with my sister in law, and then we walked around the city-- I finally saw the White House up close!

Today I have a packed schedule, including a "lunch meeting" with my catalog vendor, who is not actually providing lunch because they suck that bad. Now time to learn about web 2.0!
wildflowersoul: (Grennie)
I am in DC! It is ungodly hot and humid, and my first librarian conference program was pretty boring. But the next promises to be more interesting, and I have been doing research on cupcakeries in DC, so I have to decide if I want to wander lost into Georgetown or Dupont Circle.

Had an excellent time socializing with folks this weekend, though while it's technically Sunday and still the weekend, I feel more like I'm at work. And hey, I think I will be getting paid overtime for being here today.
wildflowersoul: (Grennie)
Happy new year everyone! It's been a while since I've updated, let's see... we did Christmas in Maryland, which involved a super awesome ghost tour of Annapolis. Ghost tours are the best! Saw Joel McHale on New Years Eve, then made it to a very fun party afterwards. The rest of this weekend so far has been extremely lazy, which is a good thing. I'm pushing through my first edit of my crap NaNo story, and incubating an idea for a new story which will hopefully not suck as bad. Drew got me a thingy that will plug into the computer and convert my old tapes and minidiscs to digital, so that will be a project that will take me a while to get through. Grendel is acting very weird, she wasn't eating for a good portion of the day yesterday, but is nibbling a bit today, though not with her usual gusto. She is being a sullen bunny.

2008 was... weird. But it did involve the best vacation ever, and successes in my hobbies, so hey, that's something. Here's to 2009!
wildflowersoul: (Bunny!)
So much indie rock in one weekend! Saw Dressy Bessy last night at TT's, it was a great show. The Built to Spill Don't Look Back show in NYC was also awesome.

Our New York trip: fun and exhausting.

Thursday we arrived in the city, dropped our bags off at our weird "b&b" (bed, no breakfast, surly owner), and headed over for our long, long wait for The Daily Show. They overbook their reserved tickets, so you're not guaranteed to get in even if you have tickets. We got there wicked early, waited in line for a looooooong time, but it was worth it because we did get in. The actual taping of the show is so fast, it really is just about the time it takes to watch the show without commercials. Jon Stewart is awesome and comes out before the show to take some audience questions. The show was conveniently about five blocks away from the venue for Built to Spill, so we left the taping and went over to the concert. I had been hoping to get there after the Meat Puppets finished their set, but we were early and had to sit through them. Dinosaur Jr. rocked out, and then Built to Spill played Perfect From Now On, and they were amazing, and it was all I hoped for. It's my favorite BtS album. After that we met up with the rest of our traveling group in Times Square, went to a really crappy bar, and headed back to Brooklyn to sleep.

Friday Drew & I went to the Central Park Zoo, it was raining so the giant bunnies were not outside and I felt a little cheated. Yes, the highlight of every zoo experience for me is seeing bunnies, even though I have three perfectly good bunnies at home to see all the time. But the polar bears were adorable. We then hit the Met, which I've been to a couple of times, so I hit my museum tolerance pretty quickly. Since it was raining, I think half the population of the city was hanging out inside the Met, making it kind of claustrophobic. We fled the museum to meet up with friends and commence to drinkin'. Continued drinkin' at Vol de Nuit. Got a tasty late dinner at a place called Acme, and by the time we got to Brooklyn our store of energy was spent. Why does it take so friggin' long to get anywhere in New York?

Saturday we had brunch in Carroll Gardens, waited forever for an F train to take us into Manhattan, scored The Best Cupcakes I Have Ever Had, Ever at Sugar Sweet Sunshine, and went to The Strand for some book action. By the time all this was done, it was pretty much time to catch our bus home. Ok, seriously, those cupcakes? They were divine. They were better than Lyndell's. I would take the 4 hour bus back down to New York just to get those cupcakes and then come right back. Nom nom nom.

So that's that. It was a ton of fun, but involved way too much public transportation. If it hadn't been raining I would have walked much more and probably wouldn't have burnt out so much on getting around town.
wildflowersoul: (Love is all you need)
What a day. Tomorrow: off to New York at the break of dawn. Daily Show taping, Built to Spill concert, drinking, seeing friends, more drinking, gawking at big buildings, and food. So excited!!!!!

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