Category Archives: Travel

Pancakes, Wind Turbines, Audiokinetics, & Barbeque

Yesterday, we spent the day playing tourist in Cambridge and Boston, which is ironic, since we used to live and work there, and were somewhat mocking of the tourists. Turnabout is fair play and all that, I’m sure we were mocked at some point. I’m okay with that.

I can’t speak for Mark, but when I used to mock tourists, is was the gentle mocking reserved for family, because yes, they might be taking photos of the T signs (it’s a subway! who cares?), but they thought my home city was cool enough to vacation in! Right?

We drove into the city and parked the car near my former “office” and took the T across the river into Cambridge. We had breakfast in Kendall Square, Mark’s old neighborhood, at this kitchy, yummy place called The Friendly Toast, and then walked to the Museum of Science.

Felix has been there before, on trips with the Boss kids, but never as the star of the show. It was hilarious! He raced around, checking out solar powered cars, newborn chicks, a large scale model of a firefly. His favorite things? The George Rhodes audiokinetic sculpture, wonderfully titled Archimedian Excogitation, the running track at the Science In the Park exhibit (of which he put himself in charge for a good long while), and the Catching the Wind exhibit.

Along with trains, emergency vehicles, construction machines, and race cars, this kid capital-L Loves wind turbines. If he were old enough, he’d totally be campaigning for Cape Wind. He sat in front a computer terminal, clicking through turbine specs and photographs for about fifteen minutes, each time crying joyfully, “Mama! Look! Anoder turBINE!”

So far as I can tell, the fascination was born when we noticed a giant turbine on the hill east of route 146 in Worcester. We discovered it was erected by Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School as part of their Green Initiative. Cool, huh? Subsequently, the new SuperWalMart down the hill, adjacent to 146 on the west side, built a mini-windfarm of Skystream Turbines atop the lights in the parking lot. I’m not a huge fan of WalMart overall, but this move is certainly a good one. Now, he notices them everywhere. He observes whether they’re spinning, and if so how fast. We’ve talked about how the turbines use wind energy to make electricity, which he understands as the driving force behind the television and the stuff Mama tells him not to waste when he gets caught flicking light switches. It’s a start.

We ended the day with a trip along the Harbor Walk, and another ride on the T, before collecting the car and heading back out to the ‘burbs, with a stop for take-out barbeque at Blue Ribbon.

It was an excellent family day.

Rhode Island DayCation

View Rhode Island DayCation in a larger map

Today we headed south on one of our rambling daytrips. Destination the first: Roger Williams Park & Zoo for some animals and a ride on the carousel.

The visit to the Zoo was moderately successful. Felix enjoyed himself, but I think he would have equally enjoyed himself running around the park. He did like the harbor seals and the giraffes. After a short break for a snack, he mostly just ran through the rest of the exhibits. Mark and I were fond of the Red Panda, but we didn’t get very long to stop and observe it.

From Providence, we jumped on Route 4 going south towards Point Judith in Naragansett. Mark remembered a clam shack type place he’d enjoyed when he was younger, so we decided to try to find it. We lucked out, and it was right on the main drag down by the lighthouse. We had a picnic on the lawn, and Felix got to stretch his legs a little after the slow ride down there. We took a little joyride down to the lighthouse, and through the vacation rental neighborhood where his aunt had often rented a place when he and his younger brothers were little.

We took the scenic tour north along the shore through Naragansett and North Kingstown before hopping on Route 4 again. Mark and I both had a craving for ice cream, and Felix never says no to a frozen treat, so we jumped off the highway again in East Providence, to grab some Ben & Jerry’s. Felix stretched his legs again on hipster friendly Thayer Street before we got down to the business of getting home.

The Happiest Place On Earth

About a month ago now, La Famille MoMP was at Disney World for a six day family trip with Gramma, Grampa, Uncle Jamie, Aunty Dy, Rylee & Ayden. We stayed at the Disney Vacation CLub Villas at the Beach and Yacht Club Resort. It was pretty nice… especially the sand bottomed pool – complete with faux beach!

Our first morning out, we had breakfast with Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace. Pooh and Tigger were a big hit!
Felix liked the teacups, and he liked them fast and twirly! Mark took him on a half dozen times. I took a few rides off to take pictures:


During the Pangani Forest Trail, the little monkey stole my glasses and put them on all by himself!

Our last night there, we went to the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at (Mark’s favorite) the Polynesian Resort. Felix was a fan of leiis.

Vacationland!

La Famille MoMP spent the recent long weekend in the woods of Maine. We went up to stay with Mark’s aunt and uncle, who live in Peru, Maine. Mark was hanging some cabinets for them, so I had nothing to do but enjoy myself and lookout for Felix. It was great. I did neither cooking nor cleaning (except for tidying up after the monkey and doing a few dishes), and it was blissful. I also spent an afternoon with an old, dear friend and her husband, son, and cat (who leads a double life as a feline assassin and spy), in nearby Turner, Maine. Our sons are about eight weeks apart, so they’re approaching the point where they’ll be able to play together. For now, we at least got them playing in the same room!

Motor City and Points North

MoMP actually left New England a few weeks ago. Gasp! I left civilization the internets behind when I headed to Flint, MI, by way of Detroit, to attend the wedding of a beloved cousin to his college sweetheart. It was a wild weekend of travel, family, and the usual wedding related high jinks. It was also the first time I’ve been away from Felix for a whole weekend.

The plan was to meet my Mom and Uncle Ron at my parents’ house at 6:15AM on Friday, and carpool down to TF Green Airport in Providence together for our 9AM flight to Detroit. Then, the ice storm hit.

When my alarm went off at 5:15, it was raining hard and gusting, but I wasn’t overly concerned. All the weather reports had indicated that Providence was only getting rain. I figured I’d check the flight status after I brushed my teeth and washed my face. When Mom called to tell me that they had no power, no trees left in the yard, and no way out of the neighborhood due to the storm, I was floored. Turns out, poor Ron had tree limbs through his roof, across his driveway, and no power to boot. He had to cancel his trip to deal with everything. Mom was optimistic that she could get out later in the day, and hopefully fly standby on a later flight, so I struck out solo towards Providence, intending to fly – literally – by the seat of my pants. Theoretically, half my family would be within 2 hours of me when I landed, if my Mom couldn’t make it out.

It was a wild and wet ride down 146 to Providence, and 295 south was a windfield, but I made it to long term parking with plenty of time before the flight. I got myself some Starbucks, and settled in at the gate with my knitting.

We boarded on time, and then we sat… and sat… and sat… for more than an hour and a half, waiting on a mechanical problem. Our flight crew was fantastic under the circumstances, providing water and trivia questions – with prizes! Did you know that Oregon and Florida are only one time zone apart, despite the fact that one touches the Atlantic and one touches the Pacific? (The panhandle is Central and the eastern moutains of Oregon are Mountain.) Did you know that there are only four states which have capital cities whose names begin with the same letter as the states themselves? (Indianapolis, IN, Honolulu, HI, Dover, DE, and Oklahoma City, OK) The upside of being grounded was that I was able to keep in touch with Mom via cell and know that she was confirmed on the next flight out behind me.

I landed in Detroit, and hour and a half later than scheduled. I waited two hours for my mom to catch up, enjoying some terminal takeout and finishing my book circle selection for the month. She landed, we collected our rental car, a Chevy HHR – fuel efficient but UGLY! – and headed north towards Flint.

We checked into the hotel and met up with the assorted family members already gathered. I had time to hug the groom before he headed out to the rehearsal, and then we were off and running. We set up the function room for the rehearsal dinner, ate, and broke it down again before showering and falling, exhausted, into bed.

The next morning, over continental breakfast in the lobby, we decided to accompany my aunt to the salon in hopes of getting mani/pedis. Yay! I heart I’m Not Really A Waitress. After that, we did some errands at the local superstore.

Has anyone in New England ever heard of Meijer? It was like a Super Walmart bred with a Target. Cheap, high quality, and great groceries! I don’t like the cheapy feel of the Walmarts around here, and I don’t trust the produce at the Super Walmart. In the words of my mother, it looks like someone stomped on it most of the time. This place had nicer produce than the Whole Paycheck I try not to shop too much at. Why are there none of these in New England?

Anyway, after our superstore adventure, I went over to my aunt’s room to do her makeup, since I’d brought all my fancy pots and brushes along. My aunt is this tiny, gorgeous thing, with sherry colored eyes and great facial bones, so she’s super fun to make up. Then it was off to do my own face before we departed for the wedding.

The ceremony was held at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, and it was one of the coolest locations for a wedding I’ve ever been to. They brought in twinkle lights wrapped in tulle, and small bare limbed trees that had been whitewashed. They used the meteor shower graphics to mark the I do‘s, and used spotlights and dome lights in the darkened planetarium for drama. They picked really interesting, non-weddingy music for most of the ceremony, and the effect was great!

The next day we were up earlyish to breakfast with everyone before we packed up for Detroit again. We had some time to kill between check out and out flight home, so Mom and I went shopping and had some lunch at the Somerset Collection in Detroit. Our flight home was completely uneventful, but by the time I got in my car in Providence, I was ready to be home with my boys again.

Back to Dutchess County

For the last five or six years, Mom and I have been going to the Vermont Hand Crafters’ Association Show in Burlington, Vermont. Last year, we ended up skipping it due to the fact that I had a three week old Felix in tow. This year, we decided to check out a new venue.

Having thoroughly enjoyed our genealogical research trip to greater Poughkeepsie in August, Felix, Mom and I decided to return to Dutchess County and go to Crafts at Rhinebeck last month. Once again, we packed up the stroller, backpack, portacrib, and enough luggage to sink a ship and headed out!

Having scouted out the area just a few weeks ago, we were well prepared for our trip, and arrived at the Fairgrounds in time to have a tailgate picnic before heading in. This fair is a family oriented one, and so there were animals to pet and observe, hayrides, and lots of kids. Felix was super well behaved, and loved the hayride, even if he did sit on the floor of the wagon and watch the ground pass by below him.

He also enjoyed watching the kangaroo at the animal exhibit. Not only did she have a joey in her packet, which several people actually saw, but she, like Felix, is afficianado of bouncing!

After the fair, we drove north along the Hudson, to a tiny village called Tivoli. We had a yummy dinner at Santa Fe before heading out for our hotel in Kingston, maps.google directions in hand. More than an hour later, we arrived at our destination. It should have taken us 15 minutes, but Google was very wrong. Luckily, we called the hotel and the night clerk knew the area well enough to get us back on track.

We had a solid night’s sleep, a good breakfast, a swim in the hotel’s pool, and were back on the road. Our big stop for the day was Old Chatham Shepherding Company. We saw four day old lambs, bought some cheese and had a picnic. Then, home again, home again.

All told, it was fun, but Vermont has a better craft fair. We’ll probably go back to Vermont next year, and maybe leave Felix home with Dada….

Cemeteries of Dutchess County

In 1993, my Great Grandmother Wiggers passed away. She lived her whole life in the vicinity of Poughkeepsie, NY, most of that as the wife and widow of a toy shop owner. Her whole life until she got too frail to care for herself, and my mother arranged for her to come live with us. In retrospect, leaving Dutchess County probably broke her heart – she only survived central Massachusetts for a year or so before passing on, but at sixteen I didn’t fully grasp the sheer hugeness of packing in and leaving your home of ninety-some years. Sure, she lived in more houses in those years than anyone can actually remember, but they were all within about a half hour’s drive of one another.

She was interred next to her husband, on a hillside in a small cemetery in Clinton Corner, NY. I remember being there for the burial, and seeing long lost family members I barely knew. What else to do when a burial turns into a family reunion? Take lots of pictures. Pictures of family groups, pictures of headstones with family names on them; there’s nothing like a roll of film shot in cemetery to earn a teen odd looks at the CVS 1-Hour counter…

Anyway, my mom and I are trying to compile and edit as much of our family tree as we can, including tracking down information that has been handed down through other branches of her parents’ families. We’ve been investigating the internets all summer, but last month I had some vacation time, so we packed Felix in the car and headed back to Dutchess County to scope out cemeteries that might contain names and dates of family. We had some lists and some letters from cemetery offices and some tips from relatives, and that was all my mom needed to make a plan!

We struck out Monday morning, headed for Poughkeepsie, via my Grammie’s houses in Clinton Corner and Poughkeepsie, and along the way we found two cemeteries with good potential for information. The easiest way to gather it? Digital camera, of course!

Grammie’s little house in Clinton Corner is much as it was, with a fresh coat of paint. The house my grandmother grew up in is still there, and for sale! My great grandfather’s eponymous toy store, however, has been torn down in favor of a soulless office building on the main drag.

After a picnic and a pleasant walk through the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, we headed north towards Hyde Park to stay for the night. With Felix along, we went for an early, casual dinner at the CIA’s Apple Pie Bakery/Cafe. After that, back to the hotel for a bath and some sleep!

The next day’s highlights included a drive through FDR’s Presidential Library and the Vanderbilt House up the road from our hotel before we headed for the next cemetery. This one was in Rhinebeck, and we knew less about who we might find, so we took lots of shots, and we’ll sort through the info the next time we’ve got time on our hands (when is that?). We looked for Sheep’s Clothing, the Morehouse Merino store, only to learn that it was closed – boo. Guess I should have checked it out on Ravelry first. We got lunch at an orchard/deli/ice cream stand on a county highway somewhere off the Taconic Parkway and took ourselves back home.

We gathered a ton on information, and I’m sure a fair amount of it will have to be sifted out before we get to the good stuff, so my mom is headed to her cousin’s house in PA in a few weeks to go through the family papers. Perhaps by year’s end we’ll have filled in some of the blanks…

Felix Goes (Back) to Hampton

Beach mohawks are going to be very in next summer. Felix introduced the style to the New Hampshire seacoast late last month.

Note that Buddha belly. My boy doesn’t miss many meals!

Here he is admiring low tide from the safety of Memere’s lap.
But ultimately, the ocean is still too much for him…

Vacation in a Day

La Famille MoMP headed off to the New Hampshire Seacoast yesterday on a spur of the moments suggestion from Mark. We stopped for an hour for lunch at the Purple Onion in Newburyport, MA, before heading up Route 1-A towards Hampton. We skimmed past Salisbury Beach on our way out of the state, and from there, it’s just a hop-skip to Hampton. We circled a few times, loking for parking, before finding a spot at the north end of the strip.

We decided to take him down to the beach first, and give him a little baptism in the Atlantic. He was enjoying the hell out of watching the beach volley ball games, and the bright umbrellas and towels in the breeze. We plopped him down on the sand, which I tested first for foot-searing heat. Oh! the sacrifices of parenthood. Felix liked the sand beneath his feet, so, we ambitiously headed closer to the high tide line, looking forward to the Kodak moment of Boy meets Ocean.

So much for that!

He did, however enjoy meeting his father’s dinner at The Blue Claw in Portsmouth.
Technically, we did cross over into Maine in order to stop for new boots for Mark at the Kittery Trading Post, so three states in one day – not too shabby for a summer vacation, right?

It was just enough to hold us all over until we can take a proper vacation together.

964 Places Left to See Before I Die

Mr. Boss got this book for Father’s Day this past year, and I page through it sometimes when I’m bored. I’ve just now gotten through the US and Canada, and it turns out that I’ve got more than a few of these ticked off. Who knew?

1. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
2. California’s Wine Country, CA
3. Mystic Seaport, CT
4. Key West, FL
5. Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
6. Savannah’s Historic District, GA
7. Maui, HI
8. Oahu, HI
9. Lake Coeur d’Alene, ID
10. The Freedom Trail, Boston and Charleston, MA
11. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
12. Legal Sea Foods (really!), Boston, MA
13. Cape Cod National Seashore, Cape Cod, MA
14. Martha’s Vinyard, MA
15. Mount Washington, NH
16. The Adirondacks, NY
17. The Catskills, NY
18. The Finger Lakes, NY
19. The Hudson Valley, NY
20. New York City, NY
21. Museum Mile, New York, NY
22. Saratoga Springs, NY
23. Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
24. Cliff Walk, Newport, RI
25. Manchester Village, VT
26. Stowe Mountain Resort, VT
27. Monticello, VA
28. Pikes Place Market, Seattle, WA
29. The National Mall and Monuments, DC
30. The Smithsonian, DC
31. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
32. London, England
33. Pompeii, Italy
34. Rome, Italy, (six out of the top ten)
35. Florence, Italy (six out of the top ten)
36. Venice, Italy (five out of the top ten)