Tag Archives: road trip

Weekend Hodgepodge: New Year’s Edition!

Happy New Year! I am writing this while wrapped up in blankets, desperately hoping that I feel better by Tuesday when I have to go back to work. What started out as a stuffy nose last week has developed into a full on chest cold complete with chills and a mysterious rash on my wrists. Perhaps the doctor will be in order tomorrow, if they are open on “New Years Observed” …

Regardless, I am so happy that I was able to fend off whatever this is until today, which allowed me to have a blast in Hershey with Kevin this weekend!

The weekend started out with an unexpected meal out, since we lost power Friday evening. Not a clue why it went out, but Kevin jumped at the opportunity to try The Mint Gastropub, which I had been to before, but he had not.

Apple "Pie"

This picture doesn't do it justice, but we shared this Apple "Pie" appetizer that was sooo good. It consisted of an herbed shortcrust topped with thin sliced apples, sharp cheddar and bacon lardons. I MUST learn to recreate this! Our entrees were good too- I had "Hodgepodge" with veggies on polenta, and Kevin had truffled mac & cheese. Including drinks, it was cheaper than the Brew Works and (I think) even tastier.

Driving

Saturday morning, we hit the road for the hour-and-a-half drive to Hershey, with Jumbars sandwiches in hand. This is my hardcore driving face, apparently.

Clouds Hershey

Arriving in Hershey, the clouds looked a bit threatening, but it didn't rain. We stopped and got some white pizza at Phillip Arthur's Fine Food & Ice Cream (owned by the Fenicci's people), then checked into our hotel before heading to the park.

Hershey Park

Hershey Park was open at a steeply discounted rate for "Christmas in Candyland," plus we had downloaded a ton of coupons from the Hershey Advent Calendar for extra savings. Did you know Hershey park was originally a park for Hershey factory employees?

Kevin Candy House

After an afternoon riding the kissing tower, the skyview and the Reeses Xtreme Cup Challenge, we headed over to Hershey's Chocolate World for a snack and tour. We also saw this huge Victorian house, built completely out of Hershey confections.

The Forebay

One of the great coupons on the Hershey Advent calendar was for a free entree at The Forebay, so we checked it out! The food was great, and the wine list was impressive. Kevin thoroughly enjoyed a rosemary braised lamb shank with chorizo & bleu cheese corn pudding, and I had crab cakes with maple sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts.

Big Kiss

After dinner, we wandered downtown to the big New Year's Eve gathering. According to the emcee, 6000 people attended. This 300lb Hershey Kiss was waiting to be raised (instead of dropped) at midnight.

Kissmobile

The "Kissmobile" was stationed at one end of the festivities, distributing free samples.

We the Kings

Live music was the centerpiece of the Hershey NYE celebration. We missed the local opener, and there's not much to say about Nickelodeon's Ariana Grande, who was the national opener. She whined on stage. Enough said. BUT, We the Kings, the main show, was great! They are musically talented, and we liked their style, although their lyrics could use a little depth. They had great energy and even got us dancing (we aren't really dancers, but it helped us stay warm!). The Hershey characters came onstage at the very end.

Kiss Raise

The giant Hershey Kiss was raised from 11:59-12.

Fireworks

At midnight, a big fireworks display started. It was a great show, and we could see the people setting them off, which was neat.

 

Mini Ammo Can Geocache

Sunday, we found a couple of geocaches in the Hershey area before heading back home for me to collapse with this awful cold. It was a great New Year's Eve, and I'd have to say that Hershey knows how to do it right!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 9

The 9th and last day on the road was a pretty straight shot of driving, but we had a chance to sit down for a yummy breakfast and find a geocache before we left Sturbridge.

The small diner next to our motel, Annie’s Country Kitchen, received rave reviews online, so we decided to investigate before check out time. I had a bit of déjà vu there that leads me to wonder if I had eaten there on a family road trip with a stop in Sturbridge in the past. The food was delicious, and the place was packed! When we left, the line was well out the door. I ordered a short stack of blackberry crisp pancakes (with crumb topping cooked in!) and a side of homefries, and Kevin had a corned beef hash omelette.

Blackberry Crisp Pancakes

Blackberry Crisp Pancakes—Even with a short stack, I brought one of this mega-cakes home!

Kevin's Omelette

Kevin's Omelette

On the way to the highway, we stopped to find a geocache at an unexpected monument/sculpture/park within eyesight of the interstate. It was an easy find, but we stuck around for a moment to take a closer look at the sculpture on the side of the road. It was an odd location for such a memorial. I looked the names up online, and could only find that the individuals were athletes who may have been run over by a truck.

Sculpture

Sculpture

We then hit the road to make good time back to Pennsylvania.

MA to PA

MA to PA

Our only detour on the route back was in New Jersey, just so we could be sure we found a geocache in every state. We got off the highway and found a pulloff near a trailhead. Walking down the trail into the thick woods, we were already stuck in the mud by the time we realized how wet the area was! So, since our shoes were already completely submerged, we carried on down the path. We found the geocache near this cool old car.

Cache Car

Cache Car

Finally, we returned home, fairly exhausted but quite content. Our animals were happy to have us back, and I think my in-laws were quite relieved to be done trying to give our enormous rabbit medicine twice a day. The trip was a success, involving adventures of epic proportion each day. Maine is certainly a state of great natural beauty, in an era when many states seem to have lost some of that valuable trait.


Adventuring: Maine, Day 8

Saturday, our 8th day in Maine, was our last in the state. We woke to see drizzle and fog, grateful we had gotten our bike ride and lunch at Jordan pond in on the gorgeous day before. However, we still had sights we wanted to see. Both growing up as Scouts, we were prepared with raincoats so that the weather didn’t have to ruin our plans. After another great breakfast across the street, we packed up our belongings and said goodbye to the cute motel that had served us so well.

Ready to Check Out

Ready to Check Out

Kevin was hoping to see Bar Island in the daylight, so we trekked into town to see if we could beat the tide and walk across the sandbar again. Unfortunately, we saw that the water had just come back in.

Bar Island Sandbar

Just a small peninsula represented what was the sandbar we had walked across to Bar Island. Pretty cool to see it under water too!

We had seen a gorgeous wine rack made of bark-intact local wood at one of the small shops downtown, so we walked to buy it, getting distracted on the way by the opportunity to collect more sea glass near the harbor.

Big Claw

This big claw was on the beach with the sandglass!

Wine rack stowed in the car, we headed back into Acadia. We had explored several interior sites the day before, but hadn’t spent much time gazing at the awe-inspiring rocky coastline. So, we decided to drive a bit of the Park Loop Road, stopping several places along the way.

The first place we stopped was at an overlook across a cove towards a massive home. It was the most archetypal view of the Maine coast I had seen since we were in the state, and it was quite breathtaking.

Overlook

The fog was clearing enough to see the massive home across the cove.

Continuing on, we stopped at the renowned Thunder Hole. We weren’t there at the time the tide makes the thunderous sounds off the canyon walls, and while the scenery was beautiful, this area seemed to be the most tourist-ridden of all. The tour buses full of people and man-made walkways and guard rails took something away from the majesty of the coast. Still, as we said numerous times throughout our trip, “We’re here. Let’s do it.”

View from Thunder Hole

View from Thunder Hole

Just down the road from Thunder Hole was an equally scenic but much less populated location called Otter Cove. We spent some time watching the waves break on the rocks here, enjoying the relative solitude and abundant insect and waterfowl activity.

Otter Cove

Otter Cove

Kevin looking out towards the ocean.

Kevin looking out towards the ocean.

Waves Crashing

Waves Crashing

Leaving Otter Cove, we headed out of the main park area, dropping our 7 day auto entrance pass off at the motel for others who might have been able to use it. We drove a bit down Mt. Desert Island to where Kevin had plotted some geocaches on our GPS. After about 20 minutes of following a winding road past humongous homes, realizing we were several hours later in leaving than we had planned, we were about to give up on finding parking for the last cache of the day when I noticed a small pull-off. We spotted a trailhead nearby and meandered a quarter mile into the woods, across a stream, towards the designated coordinates.

Hunter's Beach Trail

A cute bridge along the trail.

We saw a break in the trees ahead, and walked onto one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. This lesser known part of Acadia, a separate piece of land, was so much more scenic than many of the tourist destinations!

Hunter's Beach

Hunter's Beach

Our GPS guided us along an upper cliffside trail offering panoramic views to a rocky outcrop up the hill. We walked to the coordinates and began to look for the geocache when I spotted a large spherical item in a bush. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for me to realize it was NOT the geocache, but an active hornet’s nest. I quickly ran away, although Kevin doesn’t get easily dissuaded and stayed behind, finding the cache.

We walked back down to the beach, finding it an appropriate place to sit for a while to absorb the contents of our trip and say farewell to the Maine before heading towards home. Kevin was enchanted by the sound created when the rocks were dragged back into the ocean by the waves.

Finally, we hit the road around 4pm, with a 6 hour drive to Sturbridge, MA ahead of us. We chowed on some vacation leftovers for lunch/dinner in the car and made one pitstop, at the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport, before checking in to crash for the night.

LL Bean

LL Bean

 


Adventuring: Maine, Day 7

Our 7th day began waaaaayyyy earlier than we normally wake up. We got a 5:15am wakeup call and hauled ourselves out of bed to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain by sunrise. With the drizzle the day before, we were concerned about fog blocking our view, but it was clear outside the hotel! For ten months out of the year, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the US to see the sunrise, so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity. We were both pretty cranky at that hour of the morning, driving up windy roads into pockets of fog, but the view from the top took away any hint of irritability immediately. We were not alone on the summit, but we were two of the first 20 or so people to see the sunrise that day in our country.

The sunrise was fascinating, with the clouds blowing quickly just above our heads. The scene changed every second as the clouds, light and wind evolved. I took sooo many pictures—Too many to post them all, but I also put the camera away for a time to just enjoy the scene. I wanted to put in a gallery of thumbnails here so it wouldn’t be so much to scroll through, but something is wonky with how that turns out, so bear with the scrolling—It’s worth it!

Pre-Dawn

Pre-Dawn

First Glimpse

Our first glimpse through the clouds that had blown in.

Looks Like a Volcano!

Looks Like a Volcano!

Rising Above the Clouds

Rising Above the Clouds

Rising Above the Clouds

Mist

Rising Above the Clouds

So Pretty!

Dawn

Dawn

Mountain Top Grass Illuminating

Mountain Top Grass

Feeling properly inspired, we headed back down the mountain to enjoy our included breakfast at the Atlantic Oceanside Resort. It looked like the weather, forecasted to be rainy, was turning out beautifully, so we took the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy our meal, including the chef’s renowned pecan granola.

Lots more to read! Click here for the full post!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 6

On our 6th day out of town, we left Camden and headed even farther up the coast to Bar Harbor and Acadia.

Camden to Acadia

Camden to Acadia

A gentleman my parents crossed paths with gave them a few geocache names to pass along to us so we could find them along our route this day. We found one at Fort Point Light, just north of Camden. It was a neat park and a trickier find than we thought it would be to find, but eventually we got it! After we found the cache on a small beach, we spent some time wandering the grounds to see the lighthouse, old fog bell, ruins of Fort Pownall and the foundation of a hotel that burned down on the property.

Fort Point Light

Ruins of a fort at Fort Point Light

Lot’s more to read! Click here!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 5

Boynton McKay

Boynton McKay

Our second day in Camden, 5th on the road, was a foodie’s dream! We woke in the morning to walk into town (finding a geocache along the way) for breakfast at Boynton McKay Food Company.

I first heard about this restaurant in a Food Network Magazine feature about the best breakfast in each state. Boynton McKay was the choice for Maine. Housed in what served as the main pharmacy/apothecary in Camden for decades, relics from the former business line the walls of the tiny eatery.

Boynton McKay Interior

Boynton McKay—It's always coffee time in Camden, ME!

Lots more to read! Click here!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 4

 

On the fourth day of our road trip, we dropped my nephew off at preschool and said goodbye to the dogs and my sister & her husband.

Skippy

Skippy taking a rest on Kevin's knee

Penny

Penny, who I think is half cat, basks in the sun

We headed off to Camden, where my parents spend 9 weeks each year, an hour and a half north-east.

 

Our Route from Falmouth to Camden

Our Route from Falmouth to Camden

 

Click here to read more!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 3

Monday, our third day on the road, was our last day in the Portland area. My sister and her husband had to work (which happily reminded me that I was enjoying my first ever paid vacation), so we were on our own to explore the area. After a drive through the countryside towards Sanford, we headed back to Portland city to do some shopping and have lunch.

My sister had kindly written us a list of restaurants she recommended, but of course, we forgot it in the car! We spent quite some time wandering aimlessly, trying to find an affordable restaurant open on Monday for lunch. Finally, we found Pat’s Pizza and decided to give it a try. The sports bar atmosphere was comfortable and the menu was loaded with an enormous selection of interesting combinations. I ordered an individual pizza (by individual, they mean 3 meals worth!!!) and my husband ordered a calzone. The food was delicious!

Portabello Pizza

Portabello Pizza with tomatoes, provolone, basil, red onions & portabello mushrooms

Click here to see more!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 2

The second day of our road trip got off to an early start as we unexpectedly woke up in time to see the sunrise from my sister’s house. She is fortunate enough to live right on Casco Bay and have great views of both the sunrise and the sunset! We hauled ourselves outside just in time to see the mellow colors reflect off the bay through the fog that had followed us up the coast.

egret

An egret stands stoically in Casco Bay.

While my sister and her family went for a run, I was antsy to go for a bike ride in the morning. My cycling skills are remedial at best, but my in-laws bought me a great red mountain bike for Christmas so I couldn’t wait to try riding it in another state! We took a morning jaunt through my sister’s neighborhood, out on the Casco Bay Bridge and onto the Mackworth Island causeway just down the bay. Click here to read more!


Adventuring: Maine, Day 1

As you probably noticed, posts were a little sparse around here for the last week. (If not for the wonders of technology and auto-posting, there would have been none at all!) The reason behind my absence from the cyber world was that we were on an epic road trip up the east coast to explore three areas in Maine! Instead of buying gifts for our wedding anniversaries, we like to save the money to do something awesome together. So, for our second anniversary (which is actually tomorrow), we packed up the car and headed out of the Valley! Our trip was seriously non-stop filled with activity and adventure, and I took a gazillion pictures, so I’ll be posting about each day separately.

For starters, we set out on the road on 9.24 to make the long drive to Falmouth, ME, near Portland.

Map of our route to Maine

We took turns making the 8 hour drive from the Lehigh Valley to Falmouth.

Falmouth was our first destination because one of my sisters lives there with her husband and son. We hadn’t yet visited them in Maine, so when they invited us to spend a couple of nights at their home on Casco Bay, we gladly accepted!

To make our travel more interesting, we plotted out a route of geocaches along the way. So, when we stopped to stretch our legs, we could focus on something fun instead of just walking in circles. Our first find was at the Connecticut visitor’s center in Danbury, where we stopped to eat the Jumbars sandwiches we brought along. We also found another just off of I84 on the side of the road.

The third cache was located near Walden Pond in Massachusetts (where Thoreau spent time writing). I saw the sign for the pond, got excited, and exited the highway without knowing where we were going. Well, it turned out the pond was quite a distance from the exit, but we looked at our GPS and found a geocache nearby at this beautiful nature area.

Massachussetts Nature Area

We never would have seen this beautiful park if not for the geocache!

After about a 3/4 mile walk through beautiful meadows, we found the cache hidden in a wooded area. It was a great place to stretch our legs and get a view of a different region’s landscape.

Walking the Path

We were grateful for a beautiful spot to stretch our legs.

After a quick tick check (there were large signs warning about Lyme disease infected ticks in the area), we jumped back in the car to finish our drive. Just a short distance into Maine, we began seeing fog rising off rivers and inlets and a vivid sunset behind us.

Sunset

Sun fading behind us.

The fog grew thicker as we moved up the coast, but broke just before we arrived in Falmouth. After a quick moment to settle in at my sister’s, we were off to Portland with her family to chow down on 5 Guys and see the nightlife of the town.

True exploration began on Sunday … Day 2 coming soon!!!


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