Saturday, October 29, 2011

We are Back Indiana!!!

Well we made it... and everyone survived!! It was quite the adventure with the car packed to the gills with all our gear, 3 dogs, a Maggie, a Muti and a Mommy!

Oddly the one thing we didn't check before leaving on Friday (10/28/2011) was the weather.  So we headed out around 5pm and decided to stop at Cabana Joe's our favorite spot in CT to get Chai!!  Well since it was getting close to dinner time we opted to grab a pizza at the pizza place next door... where Seana discovered that there was a HUGE snow storm coming our way and was supposed to dump 10-15 inches right on our route and chosen spot to stop for the night!  YIKES!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Halloween_nor'easter

So we opted to change our route from I70 to I80 which is farther north since the storm was moving northeast... And we set out with no dog friendly hotel picked out!!  We had to race to beat this snowstorm!  The hours passed as did the miles on the highway, as the night passes we started checking weather bug for the snow report for upcoming towns.  Lucky for us the amount of snow expected went down the further we went... from 10" to 8" to 5" to 3"... it was decided that we would push for Clarion, PA which only expected 1" by morning..once we were half an hour out, I started pulling hotels in the area with google maps calling each one to see if they allowed pets... 3 hotels down... no pets, finally I came across the Comfort Inn.  The google maps blurb said they allowed pets, I called... wouldn't you know it the number they provided was a fax number... we decided this was it.  There weren't any other hotels in the area and we had to chance it.  So we pulled up, I went in with Maggie asleep in tow.  The clock read 230 AM, we were all tired.... they allowed pets!  They only had 2 smoking rooms left... Blast.  We took one.  The smell was not good, I tried to pretend the stale smoke that permeated the room and the entire 2nd floor of this hotel was a fireplace... with little avail.  Seana got the dogs in.  We all slept as best we could.  Got up early to not even an inch of snow but it was snowing, didn't bother to shower, grabbed the free breakfast and headed for the nearest starbucks.

Wouldn't you know it we found the only Starbucks that doesn't open until 10 AM.  Luck for us, it was 9:50 so we went and filled up Johnny.  Got our starbucks and got back on the road; snow became rain, rain became sunshine after 2 hours on the road!  The alternate route was a smart move!

The remainder of our trip was uneventful.  Indiana greeted us flatter and more sparse than we remembered with fall foliage coming to an end.

As we pulled up to our house, it felt like coming home.  Oh how we missed you with your 9ft ceilings,  kitchen counters,  big mounted tv, and furniture!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Essex Train & Steamboat!

Our last Connecticut outing was riding the Steam Train & Steam Boat out of Essex, CT!  We had hoped to catch Connecticut at it's peak color with our last weekend.  Unfortunately, it seemed a week to early... So we didn't get to see much color change.  I just don't think it is our year for fall foliage greatness!

Here we are bundled up for photo ops!  Isn't Maggie cute with you UCONN hat!  I am not looking the best in this shot!
 The battle to take off the hat begins!
 Perhaps a conductor hat is more in order!! As you can see stuffed animals were a required distraction to get a photo of Maggie the Conductor!
 A steam train!
 Maggie hard at work on the railroad!
 Always working!  Maggie is typing away on the blackberry while taking in the sights!
 Time to ride the boat on the Connecticut River! On our boat ride we enjoyed hot dogs and hot chocolate took in some pretty sights and got to see 2 bald eagles (or the same eagle twice) one sitting on top of a tree and one soaring over the river!!
 The Gillette Castle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillette_Castle_State_Park was built in 1914 by William Gillette an american actor known most for his role as Sherlock Holmes.
 A very beautiful and style in use Oprah House!
This was a fun little day trip! And a welcome break from the packing that has taken up my time as we prepare to leave back to Indiana.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Greenwich Apple Festival

Our friend Laura invited us to accompany them to the apple festival yesterday!  It was a cute little festival with crafts and activities for the kiddos and food including some very yummy home made apple crisp a la mode!!

Maggie practiced her walking skills while Laura and Jeremy's sons Gabe and Evan enjoyed the many craft and activities that 20 bucks worth of tickets could allow! Maggie discovered a play area that she could do that included a slide and was determined to play on it for a good chunk of time!  Gabe and Evan decorated a shirt for Maggie which is super cute with a butterfly and her name!




All in all it was a great day, Seana got a little time with one of her good friends and Maggie got to ride her first pony!!  Hope you like this trailer-esque video I made of it!

 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Play Group!

I started taking Maggie to a new playgroup preschool.  It has become our Wed/Thurs activity.  It is about an hour and half and it includes play time, music and learning time, snack time, more play time and then goodbye song time...  Maggie seems to really like it.. and we are both making friends! YAY us!

Here is Maggie with Madeline
 Maggie, Madeline and Miles having a snack!
 Maggie and her "twin" Evan, who we have only seen at the play group once but while they were playing together I was asked if they were my twins!!  I think it is the pacifier expression!

 Maggie's friend Amber!!
 Maggie Crawling thru the "covered bridge"
 Miles right behind Maggie making his way through as well!
 Maggie in her play yard!  She loves that thing... doesn't she look like a big girl??!! oye.

9/11 Memorial & Wall Street

The timing of our stay in Connecticut has allowed us to go and see the 9/11 Memorial a month after it opened to the public.  I think they did a great job in creating a moving memorial for all the lives lost from terrorist attacks both in 2001 and 1993.  The waterfalls are impressive in size and the detail of the rim with each name etched in was breathtaking.  It left us both feeling somber and grateful for what we have in our lives.  Here are some pictures.

South Tower Waterfall
 Freedom Tower in the making.
 Me and the Memorial
 Maggie and the Memorial
 Seana and Maggie and the Memorial
 Maggie and Seana in a reflection in the plaza of the memorial
 Us as a family at the Memorial
 When we left we decided to eat and then head back to the subway to head home, we weren't in a touristy mood after being at ground zero.

After lunch our walk back to the subway took us past Zuccotti Park which is where the Wall St Occupiers have made a home.  Another event that seems to be becoming more significant with every day they continue to protest. Here is a protester... I am not sure what he is protesting I don't know who Robby Steele is... but I like his boots!
 We also passed by Trinity Church! A beautiful piece of architecture from the past surrounded by sky skrapers!

 As we walked we saw that Wall Street was no longer barricaded by Police, granted it still has barricades up everywhere but there are paths set up you can walk through... Wall Street was a must see for me given my degree is in Finance and I once had ambitions to be in that industry.

NYSE
 George Washington
 Seana and sleeping Maggie!
 NYSE
 Trinity Church as seen from Wall St... Pretty!

 The Merrill Lynch Bull..
 The ass of a bull being patrolled and looked after by NY Police.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall!!!!!!

We have always heard that fall in the North East is breathtaking... so we have been really excited about getting to see it in all its splendor.  I came across a very useful website in one of my magazines which turned into a great tool for all you leaf peepers out there!


So starting in mid September I started checking the leaf reports that show color coded maps for color changes.  Our thought was to go up to Vermont for a weekend and drive around.  Simple enough right!

Well fast forward to October, the maps are indicating high color for the upcoming weekend and I used google maps to map out our drive recommended by the weather channel and I get a bunch of warnings about closed roads... As you may recall Hurricane Irene hit Vermont pretty hard with flooding and they are still recovering.  I figure that I will just have to call the state hotline regarding the highways I have picked to make sure we can avoid the closures.  I look up hotels... and in all of Vermont there is not a single hotel room available on Hotels.com (we only wanted one night Saturday night)....This makes me concerned about how well this trip will play out... so I tell Seana and she does some research... She also couldn't find anything but she offers up a new plan... How about Sunday Night... She will take a day off of work and we go on Sunday instead of Saturday... and whalah! Hotels galore available!!  I came across this Hotel that looked FABULOUS called the Centennial in Concord, NH I booked it thinking that it s only an hour and a half away from where we want to go in Vermont... I then add it in my google maps road trip.. and freaked out, I read that it was almost 8 hrs to Concord.... which I was surprised to see... so I quickly cancelled our reservation and booked something in Vermont that was only 3 hrs away... I email Seana at work and inform her of the change... She calls me and is like what are you talking about??? Concord is only 4 hours away not 8!  So I looked go over my steps in my head and realize the total drive time I was originally looking at was the TOTAL trip not just the segment between Trumbull and Concord.  Grumble.  I really liked the look of the Centennial but now I am stuck with the place in Vermont I know this because I went to rebook it and nothing was available.  F$%k.   This is me frustrated. This is me done.  I tell Seana I don't want to talk I need to sulk.  Which Seana of course agrees to... she gets off the phone with me and does what she does best... she fixes it.  She calls me back and had somehow managed to book a room at the Centennial!  (This is how I know I am spoiled!!!)  She also took charge and picked out a drive in New Hampshire instead of Vermont so we don't have to worry about road closures!  So away we went toward White Mountain National Forest!

We decided to drive up and check into our hotel and then continue our drive up to White Mountain National Forest.  As we drove north we could see the transition slowly we saw more and more color!  

The hotel is fantastic, beautiful!! If you ever want to stay in Concord stay at the Centennial!!!  http://thecentennialhotel2-px.trvlclick.com/photogallery/index.cfm 

Anyway the drive!! What a great drive AND when we saw this sign... I knew we had picked the right drive!  That's right New Hampshire has a town named Thornton! Gotta love the east coast!
 Here we are in White Mountain National Forest!  I was surprised to still see a lot of green, most of it evergreens but there are still some trees who just haven't turned yet.
 Seana had mentioned that this forest is the home of the Old Man in the mountain... so to me that was a rock formation whoop dee do... ironically the freeway we were on drove us right to the old man observation point... Can you see the old man??  Neither could we!  That is because in 2003 it collapsed.  Seana was disappointed... and curious... It turns out this Old Man is a BIG deal to New Hampshire... it's silhouette is on the quarter and the road signs it is a symbol for this state.  In fact, there was talk of rebuilding it!  Turns out it is not just talk... they are building a memorial if you will it is going to be made up of 5 slabs of granite strategically lined up so that if you view it from a certain angle the 5 pieces become the silhouette of the Old Man.  So much for my whoop dee do.
 After viewing the location where the Old Man was, we headed back towards our hotel, I had read about this highway the Kancamagus (a real mouthful, often referred to as the Kanc for this reason)that is a must for leaf peepers and decided to just check it out.  We didn't want to do the entire drive because that would take 5 hours and we didn't have that kind of time left in the day.  Turns out just heading down the "Kanc" was a time investment because turning around to head back to the freeway meant getting in a LONG line of cars that had just completed the drive from the other way.  At some point we had to commit to turning around and getting into the traffic the further I drove in the other direction the longer our wait was going to be... so finally I found a place to turn off... I of course had a different motive... I wanted to find a spot to stop and take in the views and get a couple pictures!  And we found this spot!  There wasn't a ton of color but there were spots of color worth capturing!  Enjoy!

Seana and Maggie getting a close look!


 The hunt for the vibrant RED... found it!
 Johnny 5 looks right at home on this road!
 Maggie and I strike a pose and do some walking!



 Seana and Maggie having some fun!  I love these shots because the lighting from the flash makes these look like they are standing in front of a green screen... But these are the real deal!!


 Doing some walking and getting in some smile time with Muti!


 All that in just one day!  It did take us a while to get back to the freeway... with our hopes getting dashed to buy some ice cream but re-finding the joy when we see a road side stand with New Hampshire Maple Syrup at a great price... Umm Score!!!

The other must see for us in New Hampshire is covered bridges! So our return trip to Connecticut including a few stops to see some covered bridges!!

The first we saw was the Rowell bridge built in 1853. Here is a website that details the history of this bridge.  http://www.nh.gov/nhdhr/bridges/p19.html 


 Next up the Henniker...  Some bridges are no longer used for driving or never were built for car use... this is one of those, used for foot traffic only.... well while finding a place to park to get close to it we saw the Michelle Bachmann bus!  Not a candidate we would support given that she is a huge supporter of keeping marriage between a man and woman only.... and thinking back I wish we could have jumped out and kissed in front of it!!!

 Any way.... Here is the Henniker built in 1972!  http://www.nh.gov/nhdhr/bridges/p105.html

 Our last stop is the Carlton! Built in 1789 and reconstructed in 1996!  http://www.southwestnh.com/outdoors/bridges.html






We also saw the Slate Bridge listed on the Carlton website (link above).  We really enjoyed this trip!! And would recommend taking up leaf peeping as a fall hobby!