A Travellerspoint blog

Connecticut

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Jeremy and I have spent our last two days in Connecticut. But first, we need to show you our airbnb from the Berkshires. In our last post, we told you that we were staying with a family in their master suite. Here is a picture of the house. Our room was on the second floor in the front of the house.

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The family built the house a little more than 30 years ago, but they used reclaimed wood and other used/antique materials. I thought the inside of the house looked and felt much older. It was a great place to stay!

Now for Connecticut. We did not go to the highest point in CT, as there was a pretty lengthy hike to get to the summit. We are kinda hiked out. My opinion of hiking is that all you see is what is on the ground right in front of you (because you are trying not to trip and fall over something). So, I don't really like to spend a lot of vacation time doing what I could be doing in the woods at home. The exception to the rule is if you are hiking to see something really cool at the end (like the waterfall we were supposed to see at the end of our long hike the other day, but it ended up being unimpressive). Anyway, the whole idea of hiking to a summit was not all that interesting, since we have already done that in three other states on this trip.

A lot of what we have done in CT is going to sound silly to anyone who has not seen the Gilmore Girls. With the revival coming up, I am pretty interested in finding out all sorts of stuff about the show and what it is based on. The producer was in CT when she was inspired to write the show many years ago. She was staying in an Inn right outside a town called Washington Depot. The first Gilmore Girls Fan Festival is taking place this weekend in Washington Depot, but I did not snag a ticket. I did a lot of research on which towns may have helped inspire and develop the fictional town of Stars Hollow. I found that there are a few towns that have some similarities to Stars Hollow, so we stopped and paid those towns a visit. I took a few pictures of buildings that reminded me of the town, but it takes awhile to upload them to the blog, so I opted not to. If you are a huge fan of GG, ask me about it when I get home and I will share pictures and stories of what we saw.

On our way to one of the towns, we found one (assumingly final) more covered bridge. It was pretty and inside, the structure of it is pretty intense. Check it out!

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In one of the towns, Jeremy found a new friend he wants to introduce to you..

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After a day full of checking out quaint New England towns that may or may not have inspired various aspects of the Gilmore Girls, we made plans to meet up with one of my Chi Omega sorority sisters, Kristina! It was great to catch up with an old friend!

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Our airbnb for the night was in New Haven, CT, home of Yale. There is some more Gilmore-ness about to happen. I wanted to see Yale because we had also visited Harvard on this trip, and of course, also because Rory from the show went to Yale. So that is what took us to New Haven on the trip. We originally booked an airbnb in a different part of town, however, that host had to cancel our reservation a few weeks prior to the trip because her apartment building must no longer allow airbnb or something. The alternative place that we found to stay was in the historic Taft building. It used to be an upscale hotel where famous people and presidents would stay, as it was close to a railroad. They converted it into an Apartment building a few years ago. Gilmore fans...you might remember that Rory lived with her boyfriend Logan in an apartment for a period of time at Yale. He was living (fictionally, of course) in the Taft Apartment building! I was reading about it, and they built the set based off of an actual apartment in the building! How cool is that?! We stayed in a room that was nothing at all like Logan's place, but that is okay. I still think it is cool that we were able to stay in a building with such historical (and GG) significance. Take a peek to read about the cool history of this building: http://www.taftapartments.com/history/. And here are the pictures. We were on the 8th floor, and our view out our window was of Yale's old campus as well as New Haven's green. The green was the original center of town. The picture that looks like a sunset was actually this morning's sunrise.

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A bit of chaos ensued this morning. I noticed that my sunglasses were not in their case! If you know me well, you probably know that I wear my sunglasses often, regardless of the season, and sometimes regardless of whether the sun is even out. It is the curse of being a blue eyed person. I am addicted to wearing my sunglasses as much as I am addicted to applying chap stick. And if that reference doesn't help you realize how bad this tragedy really is...I need my sunglasses and chap stick like a smoker needs a cigarette. Yup. And it was real damn sunny today. Good thing I have a hat.

Carry on. We took a student-led tour of Yale this morning, and learned a good bit about the school. It seems interesting. It is similar to Harvard in a lot of ways, but not so much at the same time. Glad I went to Marietta instead of either one of these tough Ivy league schools! Here are a few pictures we took on the tour. The brick building on the left in the first picture is the oldest building on campus, and it is a residence hall.

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These are a couple of pictures from inside the library built specially for rare books and manuscripts. I forgot to take a picture on the outside, but it is built using Vermont marble that is exactly 1.25 inches thick. That way, the sunlight cannot get in and ruin the books, but a little bit of light can actually slip in so you don't feel like you are inside a cave. You can see it in one of the pictures taken on the inside.

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After the tour of Yale ended, we headed out of town on a quest for lobster rolls since we were close to the ocean. We found this little shack and feasted on some delicious lobster rolls!

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Next on the list of places to see was a place called Gillette mansion. It was built for William Gillette, who starred as the original Sherlock Holmes in the old black and white shows. His mansion and the surrounding grounds were handed over to the state of CT upon his death because he had no heirs. The state turned it into a state park. During some parts of the year, visitors can walk through the inside of the weird little mansion, but it has already closed for the season due to budget issues. So, we could only see the outside, which was interesting enough. Such odd archetecture! It is all built out of stone.large_EF58F8C0FE09981A2A580253869A7FB9.jpglarge_EF5D8778BB317617643B37F43CC08442.jpglarge_90_EF6373C6A39568F5BA6858D672C777D9.jpglarge_EF7AB2ABA371340ACC9BD543ADFC1257.jpglarge_90_EF83A9E7B1D445F9C1F66C64888D0C67.jpglarge_EFA7EF0A015C6C86EDEAD78C42099108.jpg

That last picture was of a train station in the yard. We read that he had two trains, a steam engine, and an electric engine that would come through his property to bring guests. Crazy!

Next, we made it to our place to stay for the night. This is the only night of our trip that we will be staying in a traditional Bed and Breakfast instead of an airbnb. We are staying at Henrietta House in rural Connecticut with the host named Mary. The house sign says circa 1722, so this place has seen a lot of years! It is pretty neat in our room, which is all we have seen of it so far until we have breakfast downstairs in the morning. We reserved a room on the other side of the house with a shared bath, but a family requested both of those rooms, so we ended up with the Henrietta suite with the private bath for the price of the other room! We have been getting lucky with the staying in the best rooms by accident phenomenon! Our room is on the end with the porch.

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For supper, we went to a CT brewery called Willimantic Brewing Company, and it is inside an old U.S. Post Office. Our meals were good, and the place was pretty cool! On the way to the brewery, TJ Maxx came to the rescue, and I bought a new pair of sunglasses! Whew! I know you all were worried about my precious blue eyes!

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That is the end for today. Tomorrow, we head into Rhode Island. Thanks for reading!

Ashley & Jeremy

Posted by Acw415 18:27 Archived in USA Comments (1)

The Berkshires


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Sunday night, we stayed in North Adams, MA, which is close to the highest point in Massachusetts. We knew we wanted to go up the mountain the next morning, so we just picked an airbnb close by. We chose to stay in a historic style of building called a Flatiron. They are built in sort of a triangular shape. Our place was in the front of the building on the second floor. Due to space restrictions, the layout of the inside of the apartment was odd. We had the place to ourselves. On the first picture, our kitchen and bathroom took up the space from the purple fire escape door to the front of the building. In the second picture, our sleeping room & living room combo took up the space of the first five windows.

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After breakfast, we drove to the top of Mount Greylock. This time, cars could drive all the way to the top. The road was really well maintained, and it was a relatively easy drive. Beautiful trees, too. When we got close to the top, however, the fog was so thick that we couldn't see anything. Then, we couldn't even walk to the actual summit due to construction. Oh well. Close enough!

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Then we headed to a bike rental shop to pick up bikes to ride a scenic rail trail bike path through the Berkshire mountain range. It was 11 miles one-way. There was a huge lake that ran along side a good portion of the trail. Here are a few pictures of that.

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We had lunch at a farm market on our way to try candlepin bowling. The pins are tall and narrow, and you play with a smaller ball that does not have holes for your fingers. You get to roll three times per turn instead of two. The place reminded me a lot of Pastime bowling alley on 2nd Street in Marietta. If you've ever been there, just picture that! It was in a historic downtown, upstairs, and nothing was automated. We were the only people in there since it was the middle of the afternoon! It was definitely more difficult than 10-pin bowling, but we had fun! The scores were pretty pitiful, but Jeremy did score over 100 on one game, and I managed to knock all of the pins down in one roll, which I was convinced could not happen.

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We headed to our next airbnb which is out in the country on a small farm with a few sheeps and a goat. We are staying with a family. The hosts are staying in another house on the property, and we are staying in the main house with one of their daughters. We are in the master bedroom, and it is a really nice place! It has been a good experience to talk with the hosts, which is something we haven't had happen much up to this point. They gave us local restaurant recommendations, as well as suggested things to do. Last night, one of their suggestions was to go to a historic Inn in town and listen to the live singer they have every night. So we went there for dinner and listened to the music for awhile.

This morning we went to breakfast at a place they recommended, and it was really good! They roasted their own coffee, and Jeremy was loving the fancy coffee making method (Chemex) that they used to make his coffee. We walked around a little bit afterwards, and found an old mill building with these guys hanging around...

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After breakfast, we went down to the river that borders their property and went kayaking on their 2-person kayak. It was a nice, tranquil place to spend the morning. We could not go very far in either direction due to a dam on one side and a downed tree on the other, but we were out for an hour or so.

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We did not do much else today. We weren't in the mood to hike, and that is basically all there is to do in the Berkshires. We found these pretty trees...

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And an old fancy wooden chess set in the Inn we went to last night. He taught me to play chess, and I won!

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Posted by Acw415 17:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Last Day in Vermont

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Hey everyone! Today was our last day in Vermont, and we enjoyed our time here. Vermont is almost like another country. They have their own ways of doing things, and it's nice. Today, I decided that if you don't like 2016 and wanted to go back in time, Vermont is a good place for you to do just that. I think everyone is either a farmer or works in a market, country store, restaurant, etc. They don't have big box stores, because they want their small businesses to thrive (and I think that they do!). Before coming here, I read somewhere that Vermonters are makers of things, and it is true. I think they could live without the rest of us. Think about it...they have farms that produce just about anything and everything (sans oranges and such). They have more cows than people, so they make lots of beef and dairy things (cheese and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream). They make anything possible out of maple (I had a cranberry maple lemonade and Jeremy had maple beef jerky). They make Teddy bears! Very important. They have marble quarries. I'm sure there are more, but I'm tired and ran out of things. Anyway, the place is pretty cool! Another reason why it feels like it is back in time is that there are a ton of tiny villages with barely a street of businesses. For any of you who are local to us...we decided that these towns are probably sized between Fleming and Lowell. Seriously...a town as big as Lowell is a big town. Burlington, their largest city on Lake Champlain, is likely the size of Marietta. No kidding. More businesses and a larger downtown, but totally walkable. It was all just so interesting. While driving through a tiny town, I noticed a school building that could not have had more than two classrooms in it. No kidding. We didn't notice it until it was pointed out to us, but they don't have any billboard signs anywhere. They state evidently doesn't allow them. Another thing we found interesting is that their founding fathers must have have been terribly unoriginal when they were naming the towns. Let's pick the town name of Woodstock. There will be a town named Woodstock. Then there will be completely separate towns in the surrounding area with names like Woodstock Town, East Woodstock, South Woodstock, Woodstock Center, Middle Woodstock. There might be miles and miles of farm land or mountain range in between these towns, so do not assume that they are the outskirts of the original town! It was confusing! Oh! And we have been surprised by how many people around us have been speaking other languages. In this country, it seems rare to hear other languages being spoken around us, but we encountered many, many groups of people speaking something else. They could also be visiting, but it would be interesting if Vermonters are just that much better at learning and using other languages.

Anyway, carrying on with what we did over the last two days:

On Saturday morning, we headed to Burlington. As I mentioned, this is the state's biggest city, and it is all the way on the west of the state, bordering Lake Champlain. We had breakfast at a diner that was in a windmill (not authentic like the restaurant in a windmill where we ate in when we were in Holland). We both had eggs benedict, which is a breakfast food we have both fallen in love with on this trip! We aren't sure if they are on the menu back home, but they are popular up here! Then, of course, we had to go fetch a coffee for Jeremy! This time, I also got a hot chocolate as it was a chilly morning! We then went to a farm in nearby Shelburne to sample cheeses. Sadly, we can't bring cheese home, but it is fun to sample them! Then, we went to a place I have been excited about since the early planning of this trip...Vermont Teddy Bear Factory! Basically, a Vermonter determined that his kid's teddy bears were made overseas, so he devised a plan to create teddy bears here in the states. They have a 360 degree range of motion in the legs, arms, and head. Pretty cool, but unfortunately, they are stuffed so full that they aren't terribly cuddly. The tour of the place was interesting. They still do most of the process by hand.

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We headed back to Burlington and walked around their shopping area which is a pedestrian only street that stretches probably 5 or 6 blocks. Then, we briefly walked through their farmer's market which happened to be set up on Saturdays. That is where I found the cranberry maple lemonade, which was surprisingly tasty, although a little weird at first. We had booked a tour that started at 1:00, so we found our way to the meeting point, which happened to be right next to the lake. It was very windy and chilly down there! Here are some pictures of the lake.

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The tour was called Burlington Edible History tour. The tour guide walked us around town, telling us history of the city. The edible part involved five stops at various restaurants where something related to the city's settlers was served. For example, the French Canadians had a large population in Burlington's early years, and a great influence on the city, so we ate a traditional French Canadian dish. I didn't take any pictures on the tour.

Afterwards, we checked out a few breweries in town, and I got some more Ben & Jerry's ice cream. As we headed back toward the lake, the sun was setting, and we caught these awesome pictures of the sun setting over the mountains across Lake Champlain. Enjoy!

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Today, Sunday, was our last day in Vermont, so we packed up all of our things that began laying all around the little red barn house thing we were staying in. It was nice to be able to stay in one place for five nights! I wanted to go get another hot cider from the cider house down the road, and we had missed a covered bridge in that area, so we set out to do those. Here is the covered bridge, which is called Emily's bridge by some, as there is legend that a girl named Emily died on the bridge.

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And here is a rainbow that appeared while we were at the cider house. There was a faint double rainbow, but I'm not sure if the camera captured that.

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We tried to get breakfast from the unkempt stoner fella, but when we got there after 9 when he was supposed to be open, there was a sign saying he'd be back at 9:30. We didn't want to spend the time waiting, so we headed south. There were several other covered bridges that we could see on our way out of the state, so we did that. We were also able to go to lunch at a restaurant that we had wanted to go to on the way in, but it was closed. So, we drove around the countryside for awhile, and found a ton of covered bridges!

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After lunch, we headed to the original general store in Vermont. I assumed that it would be in a larger town, but it was in just as tiny of a village as other villages we had found. It was a pretty neat place, with a restaurant, and a few gift shoppy type things, and a legitimate cellar down a spiral staircase where they had their wine and beer for sale.

As we headed closer to Massachusetts, we stopped by the country's first marble quarry. We didn't have a clue what to expect, but it was a weird place to be. Just a place with marble chunks cut out. Nothing spectacular, but we saw it nonetheless. And now you can, too!

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The last thing we did was go on a hike to see a waterfall. This was supposedly a 2.3 mile hike, one way. It was really rocky, and not like the rocks we hiked on to go across the top of Mount Mansfield. There were pretty big rocks in the trail. It made for a pretty intense hike, and one that I would rather not repeat. It went on and on, and as we went up and up, I looked across, down, and up, and noticed that we had hiked up a mountainside! No idea how high up we ended up going, but it was more than we had bargained for! We couldn't find the falls and had no idea how far we had gone, so we decided to give ourselves about 7 more minutes before we turned around. A couple of minutes later, we started to hear them, and about 4 or 5 minutes after we decided we were ready to give up, we found them. Sadly, the falls were not worth the hike. I think they might have been nice during a year when there was not a drought. But it was fairly pitiful. It did go all the way down a mountain, but we were way too close to it to see very much of it, as we hiked in from the side. Luckily, we got out of the woods and off the mountain before sunset.

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Then we drove to our next airbnb in North Adams, Massachusetts, which is in the Northern part of the Berkshires (mountains of Western Mass.). We will stay one night here.

That's all for this edition of the blog...thanks for reading!

Posted by Acw415 18:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Happenings of Vermont


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This post will cover three days. It is lengthy, just so you know.

On Wednesday, we ventured away from our Airbnb. The first stop was at a breakfast place. We got breakfast sandwiches made right before our eyes by a guy who rolled out of bed wearing sweats he shouldn't have left home wearing, and he definitely omitted combing his hair prior to leaving for work. He most likely got stoned first, as well. None of that mattered though, because we had delicious sandwiches, and fresh squeezed OJ. He had no place to eat, so we took it to the car. Seems a lot of restaurants up here do that, which seems a bit strange.

Next, we drove up the road to an apple cider place. We had some awesome hot and cold cider, and saw them pressing cider and watched a machine "poop" out delicious hot apple cider donuts!

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Then, we headed to the town of Stowe, which is a huge tourist attraction because it is a beautiful, bustling town at the foot of the mountains, and there are ski resorts just outside town. I took some pictures in town, but didn't like how they turned out, so just imagine the perfect New England town in the fall! : ). I must have taken these next couple of nice leaf shots on the way to our next place. Enjoy:

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Found this cute wind-up bug along our way!

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We headed out of town to a brewery owned by the von Trapp family of the Sound of Music fame. They must feel very at home in the mountains of Vermont, as I invisioned this place in the mountains of Austria as we were there. No real great shots to be had, but here are some pretty trees I found on the property!

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After exploring Stowe and the surrounding area, we headed back to our home base of Waterbury to see what it had in store. It is a very beer-centered town, so there were plenty of pubs with craft beer that Jeremy checked out. That is all I can remember that happened on Wednesday!

Thursday, we started the day out early in the smallest capitol city in the United States; Montpelier. We were told before coming that it had two streets. They were right! This place is quaint, and has the best architecture! We enjoyed walking around, but we got there so early that nothing had opened yet. Took lots of pictures for you to enjoy:

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While waiting for a beer taproom to open, we headed to a sugar shack to check out the maple syrup craze. We went to a farm a couple miles out of Montpelier, and got to poke around in the woods where their sugar maples are. In the pictures, you can see all the lines they have running through the trees. They gather the maple sap in the early spring. The longer they wait to "harvest" the sap, the darker and thicker the maple syrup becomes. Early, light colored maple syrup is good for pancakes, etc., and the dark stuff is good for baking.

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Close by, we found ourselves another covered bridge out in the middle of nowhere! It was pretty simple, but still beautiful.

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Snapped this picture of Montpelier on our way back into town:

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By the time we finished at the taproom, rain was forecasted, so that obviously put a damper on what we could do for the afternoon. I had picked out a couple things a ways away, so we hit the road. In a nearby town called Warren, there was a covered bridge and a waterfall that I wanted to see. It was raining pretty hard when we found the covered bridge, so we couldn't get a good shot.

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The falls were close by. A short hike into the woods, and we found the water, but couldn't see the waterfall itself. They are also having drought conditions here in the New England States, and the water level was pretty low. We could see a path of rocks to get across, and so we went. Remember, it was raining. I went first. I stepped across the rocks that were above the water, but I slipped and fell in! Luckily, I was wearing waterproof hiking pants, a raincoat, waterproof shoes, and wool socks (that theoretically should have dried out with my body heat but they were too wet to ever get completely dry). I also had the camera and my phone safely zipped up in my coat, so they didn't get wet at all! I walked away from the "scene of the crime" with a stubbed pointer finger and a scrape on my upper leg. Didn't even break the skin! I am so proud.

Here is the scene of the crime. I fell in the spot between the two rocks where the white water is:

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Being a bit trigger shy after my encounter with rocks and water, Jeremy went hiking around a bit further to see if he could get any other pictures. He found the waterfall...

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Check out how clear the water is! You can see red leaves laying on the rocks.

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Did I mention this place is a swimming hole in the summer? We can't visualize it since the water level is so low right now. Anyway, while Jeremy was wandering around taking pictures, he captured these cool stacks of rocks! He said there were a bunch of them.

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Then, because he wanted to be cool like me, he also slipped on rocks and fell in and got wet. So there we were. Two wet peeps. What better thing to do than drive through the mountains for a couple of hours to get to the next thing?! I had found out that there was a vintage bicycle exhibit happening at a museum while looking for things on the internet for us to do. I left it a surprise until we got there. Mostly because he hates museums. But also because I knew he would like to see the old bikes. I think he enjoyed himself! Here, enjoy some bikes for yourself:

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Before leaving that town, we found something to eat (again, at a place with nowhere to sit). The lady said we could go around the other side of the building at the tea place to sit and eat if we ordered a tea. So, that we did. Jeremy had quite the tea experience. He was served a tiny tea with a tiny tea cup. Apparently, the tea could be brewed 15 or more times through the same leaves. We didn't want to have that long of a tea experience, so they gave it to him to go. Plus, it stunk in there! : P

You can't really tell how tiny everything was in this picture, but just know that it was.

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The town had a beautiful typical New England church that I had to share with you all, and then that is the end of Thursday's adventures.

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Today (Friday), we started out the day by going to the local Inn for breakfast. It was pretty delicious! Ben & Jerry's ice cream is right outside of Waterbury, so we went there for what I like to call Breakfast Dessert.

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Then, we headed towards the highest point in Vermont, which is Mount Mansfield. To get to the highest point in the state, we drove to a ski resort, and went 4.5 miles up a toll road. The road was narrow and a mix of dirt and gravel. It is actually a green (easy) ski trail at the resort. When we reached the end of the road, we were at the beginning of a 1.4 mile hike across the top of the mountain. We started at a peak, but we had to hike across to the taller peak. Unfortunately, we didnt get a picture from afar that would help to describe it, but if you'd like to look for it on Google, be my guest. The terrain was rocky. Definitely could not have done it yeserday while it was rainy...we know how coordinated Jeremy and I are on wet rocks! It was a very cold day here. It was probably in the 30 degree range during our trek across the top of the mountain range. However, we dressed for it and actually got too hot at times. Don't worry, no frostbite here! It was also really clear and the sun was beating down, so that helped. We've been giving you awesome pictures of fall foliage from the ground looking up at the mountains. Now, have the view of the fall foliage from the top of the mountain looking down!

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It was definitely as cool as it looks!

We got a beautiful view of the church in Stowe after we finished hiking, so please enjoy yet another church picture:

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The rest of our day was spent in what is called the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Jeremy's highlight brewery of the trip, Hill Farmstead, is up there. We also met up with another one of his ratebeer friends who lives close by. He took us to a pizza place in the middle of nowhere. When we got there, it was in a shabby building and you could never imagine eating there, but they made some really great pizza, and had my favorite beer from Belgium there! Oh, and it smelled like cow manure outside. On our way back to Waterbury, we caught this awesome picture of the moon coming up. They are calling it a hunter's moon because it keeps the night sky light enough you can still see. I think we'll have it up here through Sunday. Maybe you will have it at home, too?

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Sorry for the super long post with all of those pictures, but we hope you got to enjoy it! We appreciate you traveling along with us!

-Ashley & Jeremy

Posted by Acw415 17:14 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Portsmouth, NH and heading to Vermont

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Hey everyone!

We started yesterday (Monday) off in Dover, NH where our airbnb was located. Cool fact we figured out about where we were staying...it was out on a peninsula. We learned that Dover was the 7th settlement in the United States. In reading a little about the settlement, we learned that the settlers actually settled that peninsula, so we were staying in a pretty historically significant place, which is pretty cool! This airbnb was pretty unique because it was basically in a shed in someone's back yard! They renovated it to have a bedroom and bathroom, and a tiny cove for a mini fridge. It was a tight squeeze in there, but it was really nice. Annnd they had good tissues and TP! Here is a picture of the shed:

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After going to a coffee shop where we wrote the last blog post, we headed to a living history museum called Strawbery Banke, which is also the name of what is now Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The settlement of Strawbery Banke was established in 1623. This museum is located in the exact spot that was settled along the river. The citizens of Strawbery Banke decided to change the name of their settlement to Portsmouth in 1653. There had been a significant inlet of water called Puddle Dock, and the community sprung up houses and shops and businesses around that dock. Strawbery Banke (the museum) worked to restore several homes and buildings in that community back to a particular era when someone significant lived there. They put the proper things inside the houses such as what their clothing would have looked like, or what pattern of wall paper would have been in style at the time. Furniture used in some of the homes may have actually belonged to the family that the house was teaching us about. One house was split into two, and one side showed how a family lived in the house in the 1700s, and the other side showed how a different family lived in the exact same house in 1950. This all may be hard to picture, but it was really pretty neat. I took a lot of pictures of the outsides of the houses, but not the insides (would be way too many pictures!)

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This is the governer's mansion

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The picture above is the outside of the tavern. Doesn't really look like a tavern! It is currently in the process of being restored outside, as you can see.

The picture below has a museum type set up in the downstairs (two separate houses, but they share a wall), but the upstairs of each house is actually a private home. Wouldn't it be weird to live in a museum?

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The following are pictures of a store during WWII. We learned about food rationing that occurred across the country as a part of the war effort.

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These are the last two pictures at the museum:

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After finishing at the museum, which took hours to go through (you probably could have spent days there if you actually read everything!), we went to see a light house. It was off in the distance, and my camera has awesome zoom! The house was off to the left of the light house. Not sure what it was, but it was also in the middle of the water.

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Then we went to see a submarine called the U.S.S. Albacore. Again, we were too cheap to actually pay for a tour of the interior, but we walked around it for free! It's pretty darn big!

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After that, we walked around Portsmouth, trying to find a walking path along the water. It proved to be a difficult task, but we did snap these pictures of town and the water. What you see on the other side of the water is Maine. One of two Naval ship yards on the east coast is over there that can be seen in a couple of pictures.

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We went to two breweries, and met up with a fellow ratebeer website user for dinner. Then, we headed back to the airbnb somewhat early to get some shut eye for the long day of driving to Vermont!

Lots of pictures from our drive...the colors aren't quite as vibrant here as they were in the mountains of New Hampshire. Perhaps that will change during our 5 night stay in VT!

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Check out this awesome covered bridge (the first of four we found today!)

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I took a picture using several different filters, and I personally think it is beautiful in all of them.

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By the way, all four bridges we found today were still in use! We drove across three of them. It is pretty cool!

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The next few pictures are of Quechee Gorge. We walked to the bottom of it, which is where most of the pictures are taken. If you look in a couple of the pictures taken down below, you can see the bridge in the distance, which is the bridge we were standing on when we took the first picture. Pretty cool place!

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Covered bridge #2 for the day:

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  1. 3:

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More driving. We set the GPS to take us on the shortest distance for awhile rather than the shortest time, so we ended up on some interesting gravel and dirt roads. Not sure how the GPS even knew about some of the roads it put us on. At one point, we were on a road that was only passable by 4-wheeler, I'm pretty sure. Pretty drive, though!

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Covered bridge #4:

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And last but not least, our airbnb for the next 5 nights. It is about 2 miles outside of Waterbury, VT. It is a ski lodge with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen, and laundry (so we can wash clothes for the rest of the trip!). We will be taking various day trips from here for the next few days.

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There were a ton of pictures on this one. I hope you were able to make it all the way to the end! Thanks for reading.

-Ashley and Jeremy

Posted by Acw415 18:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Scenic New Hampshire

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We started Saturday by leaving Boston and heading north in the direction of our hostel for that night. On the way, we stopped by Lowell, Massachusetts because I wanted to see it since I grew up in Lowell, Ohio. No other reason for visiting, in particular. When we got there, we wanted to park and walk around, but we were too cheap to pay for parking, and there was no free parking to be found, so all of these picures were taken while driving around. It is a pretty cool downtown, with lots of history. In case you didn't know or you forgot, Lowell, MA is known for it's textile mills and the Lowell Working Girls. I'm not going to give you any history on that because it has been a long while since I have read about them. There were several huge mills, and we caught pictures of a couple. Another thing I found cool is that there were several canals (probably to help with transportation in and out of the mills), and Lowell, OH also has a canal! Exciting stuff, I know! : )

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After finishing Lowell, we got on I 93 north, and ended up in tons of traffic congestion. When we reached Conway, NH, we turned onto the scenic Kancamagus highway, which is about a 35 mile stretch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that has lots of things to pull off to see and do, but no gas stations or places to eat (or towns). Luckily, there were disgusting restrooms along the way in case you found yourself in need of that! Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures we took of foliage on the mountain road.

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As you can see, the colors were so vibrant up here! Hopefully you get to see some similar colors at home this year.

As it was nearing sunset, we got to the end of the Kancamagus in Lincoln, NH. There was a festival that was causing more traffic congestion. We wanted to go to a sight called Flume Gorge, but when we got to it, it was closed. Before we lost the rest of daylight, we went up the road a little further to see a thing called the Basin. From what I remember reading on the sign, thousands of years of rushing water washed out the stone (maybe it was granite? In a way that made these rounded formations. It was a pretty cool thing to see, but it might be hard to see through just pictures. You'll just have to come see it yourself someday!

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After that, we went to a restaurant where we had a two plus hour awful experience, and we hurried to our hostel, where we luckily had a private room and bath. The hostel room was very nice with couches in a seating area with a wood fired stove (thankfully we didnt have to load it to get heat...it may have just been there for looks). The only complaint we had was that the bathroom light didn't turn on. However, it had gotten so late on us that we quickly took showers using the flashlight on our phones and went to bed without asking for a new lightbulb. We had to get to bed so that we could wake up at 4:45 am to start the next day's adventure, which was riding a steam engine up the highest mountain in New England!

We had an 8:00 AM reservation, and we had to go to breakfast at the earliest place that opened, which was a diner opened at 5:30. We were surprised they even had that in this tiny mountain town. After breakfast, we had a one hour drive to the base of the mountain where the train took off. It was a pretty cool experience. We were in a train car that was pushed up the mountain by a steam engine. They had to put coal in the fire every 20 seconds all the way up the 3-mile, one-hour ascent up the mountain! To make the steam, they also needed tons of water, and had to stop at a water tower to get more water on the way up. The process was fascinating! Our camera battery died in the train, so we didn't get many pictures. Good thing about that was there really was not much to see because it was super cloudy. Anyway, enjoy the few pictures we were able to get.

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When we got to the top of the mountain, we used Jeremy's phone to take these few picures. The reason you can't see much is that it is so foggy, and has nothing to do with the quality of the iphone camera. It was about 25 degrees at the top of the mountain when wind chill was factored in. We were told it was a calm day as far as wind goes. The highest wind ever recorded by man on the entire earth was recorded at the top of this mountain...231 miles per hour!

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Here are a couple shots taken on the way back down. We were able to go up the mountain at about 2.8 miles per hour. We were able to go back down at about 5 miles per hour. This time, the engine was in front of us instead of behind (it did not turn around at the top). Our car was not connected to the engine in case there would be an issue. The "brakeman" was keeping our speed in check on the descent, and she could drive us down the hill in the event that we lost the engine. Pretty cool! At one point, we passed three other biodiesel trains going up the mountain while we were going back down. But for the most part, there was only one set of tracks.

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And one last picture we took was at Smuttynose Brewery outside their bathroom. Enjoy!

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Time to head off on today's adventures!

-Ashley & Jeremy

Posted by Acw415 06:25 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Foliage Teaser

We have tons of pretty pictures to show you all from our last two days spent in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, however, the wifi connection at this Airbnb seems to be lacking, so I'm only uploading two "teaser" panoramic pictures to tide you over until I can get more uploaded. It's so pretty up here right now!

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-Ashley and Jeremy

Posted by Acw415 18:54 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Cranberries, Marietta has a Sister City, and Cambridge

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As some of you know, Jeremy and I are not staying in hotels on this trip. We are staying in Airbnbs and one hostel. An Airbnb can be anything from a room in someone's home, to a treehouse, to a whole house all to yourself. They are often cheaper than hotel rooms, but not always, because you might be paying for a unique experience! The idea is to get to live like a local wherever you go. The first place we booked is a room and a private bath in someone's apartment. The neighborhood is nice, but we're certainly learning what it's like to deal with parking and street cleaning and house construction. Yesterday morning, we could have been towed if we had gone to our car 10 minutes later. The street cleaning guy was ready to go, and the tow truck was parked right behind us, ready to hook up when the clock struck 8:00! This morning, we went to our car to look to see if we left camera supplies inside (luckily we needed them and went looking for them), and got yelled at because we had parked in a construction zone in front of a guy's torn up driveway. Oops. Good thing he waited long enough for us to come out and move it before having it towed! Needless to say, I can stand to live without street parking drama.

This is the house we are staying in. I believe there are 4 apartments in the building. Our room is the double windows all the way at the top.

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If you think Airbnb might be a good fit for your next overnight stay, road trip, or adventure, book through our link...both you and us will get $30 towards our stays! Here is the link: http://www.airbnb.com/c/ashleyw787. We also noticed that there are gift cards for Airbnb out there. That would make a perfect gift for these two crazy travellers...hint, hint! ; )

Anyway, back to our adventures after that little plug there! Yesterday, we got up and drove about an hour south of Boston to a cranberry farm. Being a berry farm kid, I was curious about cranberries. They are only grown on the East coast and Wisconsin. Since I was interested, Jeremy and all of you will also get to learn about how they are grown and harvested! Here is the name of the place we went, in case you ever find yourself near Cape Cod...

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The tour started out by the farmer himself giving us a little background about cranberries. They were here when the settlers came. The Indians had used them for food and dyes. He showed us pictures of how the farm hands would have harvested them by hand long ago. Now, of course, they have machines, but the dry picking machine looks very similar to the hand picking device (which I did not get a picture of). Here is what a field of cranberries look like. They are raised in a field with sloped edges so that they can flood the fields and the water won't get out.

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Now here is the machine they now use to dry pick the berries:

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The farmer was working on picking some, so the machine was sitting in the field for us to see:

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They also "wet pick" them, if they want to get a field harvested quickly. Here is the machine that does that, followed by a picture I took of a picture of them running the machine:

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If the berries are dry picked, it keeps them looking good and they can be sold at the market and to bakeries. If the berries are picked wet, they are sent off to be made into juice, Craisins, and jelly. This is because they can get bruised during the process of flooding, and once they are wet, they will never be dried out again, so they can't be sold as dry berries. They can be stored in a cool, dry place from October until about March of the following year. That is a pretty good shelf life! The farmer's wife took us to a flooded bog to put on waders and walk around in it. Here are some pictures I took:

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She also took some pictures of us:

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Yup, we know you're jealous of how cool we are!

After the cranberry bog tour, we got back in the car and headed to the middle of Massachusetts, to the town of Rutland, to be exact. If you have passed through Marietta since 2012, you have likely seen signs saying that Rutland, MA is the sister city of Marietta, OH. Before our trip, I had to find out what that sistership meant. I learned that Rutland is the town where Rufus Putnam lived prior to coming to Marietta to settle the land with the Ohio company. I wanted to see the town for myself, and figured while we were close by, we should go! By "close" by, I mean two hours, but whatever. Here is the Town of Rutland's proclamation to make Marietta their sister city: http://www.townofrutland.org/Pages/RutlandMA_News/Proclamation%20of%20Sister%20City:%20%20Marietta.

Here's what we found when we got to town:

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The white building is their community center, where town meeting are held (I'm picturing Gilmore Girls style!). The Dunkin Donuts is in one of the most majestic buildings we've seen up here for a Dunkin Donuts, so I had to get a picture!

While in town, I started wondering if they had preserved the house where Putnam lived. We walked to the Historical Society, but they were closed that day. So, we resorted to Google, and learned that a couple had purchased the property and was running a Bed and Breakfast out of it. How cool is that!? We headed to the address, and creeped around a little for some pictures. Sadly, the place was locked and it didn't seem as though anyone was around, so we didn't get to see inside. You'll be impressed at this place, if you compare it to what he built when he got to Marietta (found here: http://www.campusmartiusmuseum.org/exhibits.html.

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Another article with lots of info about the connection: http://landmark.our-hometown.com/news/2012-07-12/Rutland_News/RUTLAND_Rufus_Putnam_connects_towns_with_shared_hi.html.

I thought all of that was pretty cool!

Afterwards, we headed to a couple of breweries north of Boston. I was having fun taking pictures of Jeremy in his element:

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This morning, we headed out to take a tour of Harvard...mostly because our Duck tour tickets gave us a free tour, so why not!? I took a few pictures of buildings on campus, but will share the best ones with you, and the ones I actually remember what they were.

This is a dorm building, and the significant person who lived here was Bill Gates, before he dropped out.

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This is of a real live strike that was happening today. The food service workers are on strike (the first strike in Harvard history, I think the tour guide said), because they want paid with health benefits all year round rather than just for the seven months school is in session. They were walking around making all kinds of racket (literally, they were banging on drums while walking through the streets of campus!). I thought it was interesting!

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Aaaaand this is the building where Mark Zuckerburg lived while he developed The Facebook...

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The Harvard tour was good overall, and it was given by a current student, so we got a lot of information from a student's perspective. We went to lunch at a small place called Mr. Bartley's burgers near campus. For the second time on our trip, we were sat at a table with strangers while we dined. Must be a thing up here.

After that, we took a long walk to a couple more beer stops, and we made the beer be photogenic again.

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We walked back into the city, which required a walk over the Charles River, where we had boated around in the Duck a couple of days ago. This evening, there were a bunch of sail boats hanging out on the river, and it was beautiful! Enjoy!

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A friend had recommended that we walk through Beacon Hill, as that is where the rich folks live, so naturally, there's going to be some cool houses to gander upon. Here are a couple of pictures we took in that neck of the woods.

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And last but not least, a cool sunset shot of a pretty awesome looking bridge that connects Boston and Cambridge. We crossed it twice last night, and I believe it has 6 lanes of traffic going both ways (total of 12 lanes).

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That is all for tonight! We hope you enjoyed all the history!

Posted by Acw415 18:34 Archived in USA Comments (2)

We're in New England!

First day in Boston

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We're glad to have all of you along for the ride for our trip. We took off yesterday after work and had a 7:50pm flight out of Columbus. Here's our plane!

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We landed and went to the rental car place to pick up the car we had reserved. I signed up to be a part of the preferred customer club so we could skip the counter. We got our car, a Nissan Sentra, and headed out of he parking garage. The attendant checked to be sure that we had a full tank of gas, we asked him for an EZ Pass for the toll roads, he handed us our receipt, and he sent us on our way. No sooner than we pulled away, I checked the receipt and noticed a $566 charge for damage waiver that we didn't want or need, as we purchased a different, cheaper, rental car insurance. The damage waiver was supposed to be optional at the counter, but we were not asked about whether or not we wanted it. I called the number, but of course, everything was closed because it was about 11pm by this time. So far, we weren't having the best start. We arrived at our airbnb and settled in for the night.

This morning, I wanted to attend a "Luke's Diner" event that was happening at a coffee shop about 4 miles from our place. For more info about what that is, check out this link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2016/10/03/gilmore-girls-lukes-diner-netflix/91500206/. The GPS said it would take about 20 minutes to get there. Unfortunately, it was about 8am when we started out, and we must have hit about 10 school zones and terrible rush hour traffic. When we got to the coffee shop an HOUR later, the line out the door had to have at least 500 people in it. I sadly opted not to partake in the line, as I don't even drink coffee, and we had to be at our Boston Duck Tour at 10:30 for our reservation. By this point, I was upset about the $566 issue as well as wasting the morning. There was also a possibility that we may not make it to the Duck Tour starting point on time using public transit, and it was non refundable. On the car ride back, I called the car rental company to demand a refund. They told me we had to appear at the counter where we picked up the car in order to alter our contract. By this time, I was fuming! We had to go back to the airport car rental place!?

We made it to the Duck Tour in time, thankfully, and our day started turning around. Meet our Duck! It is an amphibious Army vehicle that can drive on the road, and go into the water like a boat. During the tour, they drove us around the city and told us about history and buildings we were passing by, and then we splashed into the Charles River for awhile. Enjoy some views from our tour!

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State capital building

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Fanieul Hall

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Old State House

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Reflective building showing our Duck and the cool church behind us.

After our Duck Tour, we took off on foot to explore the city. We stopped at a coffee shop, and got there just in time, as the line got super long. I also noticed a ton of people carrying their musical instruments in carrying cases. We also saw several of those starting yesterday with the plane flight. This must be a very musical bunch of peeps!

We thought it was time to find lunch, so we headed to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where there were several food stalls, and some gift shops to browse. We got some Boston brick oven pizza, and went to sit in the common area of the marketplace. Part way through our pizza, we started hearing brass instruments. A Junior High or High School band started playing flash mob style, right there in the marketplace! It was a pretty cool thing to experience!

We noticed we were close to the public transit stop that could get us back to the airport so we could sort out the damage waiver madness. When we got there, the representative was very helpful, and he confirmed that the damage waiver was optional and that we should have been asked if we wanted it. He took it off and made us a couple of very happy and relieved people! Whew!

We got back into the city and headed to a food truck we saw on the Food Network prior to our trip called the Cookie Monstah. Jeremy got a salted caramel cookie and I got chocolate chunk. I have to admit that his was better.

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It turns out that we were close to Chinatown, and of course, Jeremy had a coffee shop picked out there! We saw this awesomely painted car outside the coffee shop!

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We headed back to little Italy after we were finished checking out Chinatown. On our way there, Jere,y decided to play a street piano...

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Then, as we were heading towards Boston Harbor, I noticed that the sunset was really cool so I headed closer to the water to take pictures. I heard some guy yelling to get out of the way, but he was behind me and It didn't really register that he was yelling at me. I looked to my left and noticed something was going on with a really long armed camera and a crowd of people. There was a blond woman that the camera was facing, and I thought maybe I had jumped into the background of their photo session. As we walked closer, we noticed there was a giant cue card that VANNA WHITE was reading from!!!! As soon as we got close enough to hear her voice, we heard "That's a wrap!" and Vanna went into the mob of people and put on her coat. I already had my camera out on the sunset filter, and tried snapping a picture, but it was super blurry. Then, I found Pat Sajak! Again, I tried taking a picture, but failed pretty hard. I snapped another one of the two of them walking away, but still terrible. Then they got away. : (. Anyway, enjoy these blurry pictures of the Wheel of Fortune stars as well as the beautiful harbor sunset that may land me in the background of a Wheel of Fortune intro for whenever they have their Boston week!

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After that excitement, we walked around the North End, also known as Little Italy. We saw the Old North Church and Paul Revere's house. There were lots of nice restaurants and old buildings with beautiful architecture and we enjoyed our walk very much.

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To wrap up the day, we took a long walk to No Name restaurant, which is on the Fishing Pier. At this restaurant, they sit you with other guests, so we ended up dining with strangers, which was interesting! We walked A LOT. I beat my own previous record on Fitbit, which was previously 30,000 steps in a day earned last year in Amsterdam. Today, I crushed that record with 36,000 steps! That's close to 15 miles of walking.

That's all for today...I need to get to bed for tomorrow's adventures. No time for proof reading. Jeremy has already passed out! Night!

Posted by Acw415 19:54 Archived in USA Tagged boston Comments (2)

Test

Testing 1, 2. Testing 1, 2.

overcast 79 °F

If you got to this point, Hooray! Yours isn't broken. You're ready for the action!

Posted by Acw415 15:53 Archived in USA Comments (6)

Trial Trip and Post

Local Covered Bridge Chasing

sunny 75 °F

Hey blog readers!

The countdown to our next adventure is on! In October, we'll be checking out everything (we wish) that the New England states have to offer. We have three weeks planned out that start and end in Boston. We hope you enjoy traveling along with us! We'll be visiting Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Don't worry, we didn't forget or ignore Maine! We plan to visit that state on its own since it's so big and has so much to explore!

I need to remind myself how this blog works to get ready for next month, so I decided to post about what we did today and include pictures. I also wanted to write a post to remind all of you that our blog is password protected while we're traveling. We changed our password to be inspired by the upcoming trip, where we hope to consume lots of awesome chowdah! Just before we leave, the password "chowdah" will be set up, and it will be required to view. Don't forget it! : )

Now for today's adventures...

This morning, Jeremy was reading a local travel magazine published by the Washington County Convention and Visitor's Bureau (yes, sometimes it's a good idea to pretend you're a visitor in your own neck of the woods!). In the magazine, there was a picture of a local covered bridge called the Hune Covered Bridge. It's not far from us out Route 26, so we decided to go check it out, in the spirit of getting ready to see awesome covered bridges in New England (Vermont, primarily). The drive out Route 26 is beautiful, and it was a great day to drive with the windows down and take in the scenery on the winding country road. When we arrived at the covered bridge, it was as awesome as we thought it would be! It's beautifully cared for, and it is still in operation!

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After driving through the bridge, we found a small camp ground on the other side. We got out and walked around to see what we could find. We were able to walk down into the riverbed of the Little Muskingum River, which is basically dry right now in the area of the bridge. This picture is taken with me standing in the middle of the riverbed.

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We found a map of the area. We were in the Wayne National Forest, by the way. The map showed another covered bridge a few miles north, so we took note of that. We continued driving, looking for the trail head of the hiking trail that lead to the other bridge. We found the trail head, but nowhere to park, and we were on a very narrow gravel road. We continued driving, looking for a place to park, but got far from the trail head and starting driving up a pretty steep hill. Instead of hiking, we just continued driving the gravel road. At a few points, we had to pick a way to turn, and we had no idea where we were at this point, but we hoped we would eventually be lead to civilization again! At some points, we were at what seemed to be a high point in the county/surrounding area, and we could see a long way through the trees! We made it back to Route 26 miraculously! Then we decided to go ahead and drive to the other covered bridge we had found on the map. It's called the Rinard Covered Bridge. We found it without any trouble!

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This bridge was no longer in operation, so you can only walk across. It had actually been rebuilt several times during its life. Most recently in 2006 after a flood in 2004 took it and strung it along the river. At the other side of the bridge, we found this sign, which we enjoyed!

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After we were done checking out that covered bridge, we headed back home. We stopped at the Hidden Hills Orchard and picked up some Honeycrisp apples (mmmmm!). There was no cell service until we got back into Marietta's limits. At that point, I Googled Washington County covered bridges (because Jeremy said there were 9), and found out that we missed two bridges. : (

There was another one past the Rinard Covered Bridge called Knowlton Covered Bridge (actually outside of Washington County), and there's one closer to Marietta called the Hills-Hildreth covered bridge. We were sad to have missed them, but perhaps another day. Hopefully you'll also be inspired to make this trip this fall...with all the trees in the Wayne National Forest, it would make for an awesome family drive!

Get ready to hear from us again soon! Chowdah...(lowercase!)

Posted by Acw415 14:37 Archived in USA Comments (1)

The Final Post

It's about time we finished our blog!

The last and final day of our trip back in May was spent in the city of Dublin, Ireland. We found a parking garage to park our Audi in, and we found a coffee shop (as you know, this was a staple on the trip!). Here is Ashley's hot chocolate.

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We walked to St. Stephen's Green, which is a park near a nice street of shopping. Here, we found this Irish Potato Famine memorial:

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While walking around after the park and on our way to Trinity College, we found lots of street performers, including these guys:

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Here are a few pictures we took on the campus of Trinity College.

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This is a panorama showing how long the line was to look at the Book of Kells. It cost to do it, and we didn't feel the need to stand in this ridiculous line!
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For lunch, we walked around the Temple Bar area, where the city's famous bars and eateries live. Jeremy really wanted to try Bangers and Mash, and Ashley wanted a tuna melt. It took FOREVER to find a restaurant that had both, but we managed to! The night before, a gay pride celebration had happened in the Temple Bar area because the Irish had just voted in favor of gay marriage the day before, and we saw the remnants of all the celebrating! In case you wanted to see the Bangers and Mash, here is is!

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After lunch, we headed in the direction of Whelan's bar, which is the bar on P.S. I Love You where Gerry's band is playing. Ashley wanted to go, but was disappointed when she couldn't place where any of the scenes occurred. Jeremy noticed a couple of other girls who were there, presumably for the same reason, and then felt obligated to order a Guinness. Neither girl could drink it. For the record, Jeremy didn't drink any either.

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Somewhere along the way, we walked by St. Stephen's Cathedral. Ashley wanted to go in because having been to Italy taught her that Cathedrals are beautiful on the inside! Too bad they were charging to get in, and again we opted to save our funds. Here is what it looked like from the outside!

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We returned our rental car and took the shuttle back to our hotel and we were in for the night. We had to get up early the next morning for our flight home. It took an awfully long time to get through Customs, so if you're ever flying back into the U.S. from Dublin, expect a super long wait.

When we got home, we had to check out all of our loot! If you recall, we had a bunch of this shipped home with our biking clothes. We did carry a couple bottles home with us in our backpacks (which we checked). We have since opened a few of these to share with friends. The Cantillon bottles will be opened on special occasions!

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Ashley realized when she came across a tiny treasure that she had fulfilled a childhood dream she didn't remember she had. In Fourth Grade, Lifetouch, which was the school photography company, gave everyone a "Stickys Passport" and sticky versions of their school picture so they could share them with their classmates.

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Upon opening the cover, this is what she found! Sometimes dreams really do come true! Just ignore the 4th grade spelling error...

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We had the best time, and we can't wait to go back to Europe! The plan is to go every couple of years, so let's hope we can stay on track! When we got back, lots of people asked us where our favorite place was. We both liked the Netherlands (Holland) about the best, probably because we had Dutch tour guides and the bike tour really submerged us into the culture of the country. We truly felt like locals. If you are good at biking and like craft beer (or even if you are willing to try it), we highly recommend checking out Beercycling, the company we booked our tour with. The tour guides, Henk and Betty, were awesome, and the experience is truly unique! Visit http://beercycling.com to check out the variety of tours. Ours was the Dutch Tulips tour. Here are a couple pics from the airplane of the tulip fields we were promised to ride by during our tour:

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Ireland was beautiful, and we are so happy that we got to be there. However, we wish we would have devoted more time to it because we tried to cover so much ground and it takes a deceivingly long time to drive from place to place. Our advice about Ireland would be if you want to drive around the outside like we did, you probably need more than 10 days! And you can skip the Ring of Kerry. But, if you only have a few days to devote, the Ring of Kerry is probably where you should go since it has so many of the charming features of the rest of the country all in one place. If choosing between the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, go for the Dingle Peninsula, hands down, and drive the road tour busses can't take! In Northern Ireland, the best thing we saw (and possibly Ashley's favorite landmark of the whole trip) was the Giant's Causeway.

Each country has it's high points. Belgium's was Cantillon! We keep saying that we will always go back no matter where our future European journeys take us! We hope you enjoyed reading our blog, and if you ever travel Europe, remember the lessons we learned! Thanks!

Posted by Acw415 14:07 Comments (0)

We're home!

sunny 83 °F

Just wanted to send a quick note to let everyone know we arrived back at the Parkersburg Airport safely!

And it's hot here. Yuck.

Posted by Acw415 15:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Waterford & Wicklow

Our day in the Wicklow Mountains (where P.S. I Love You was filmed)

sunny 65 °F

Two days ago (we got behind...oops), we started the day off by taking a tour at the Waterford Crystal Factory. The process is quite intense. There are four "Masters" (blower, cutter, drawer, and we can't remember the fourth one). Each master has to go through 8 years of specialized training, and at the end, he is tested. If he doesn't pass perfectly at his craft when he is tested, he has wasted 8 years! Here are several pictures of the tour and finished products! Ashley really wanted the Cinderella piece, but Jeremy wouldn't let her spend 40,000 Euros... (the harp was 30,000 Euros, in case you were wondering!)

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After the tour, we drove to the Wicklow Mountains. At the foot of the mountains, we stopped in Hollywood, Ireland to have a bite to eat! It's a bit smaller and more farm-like than Hollywood, California! The pub where we had lunch was the old stagecoach house! We headed up the mountains and saw some awesome scenery! Check it out...

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There is a place in the mountains called Sally Gap. If any of you have seen P.S. I Love You, this is the place where Holly and Gerry met on the road. Ashley wanted to go see it, but it must have been filmed in a different season, because everything in the Sally Gap area was brown and dead! : (

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Then, we started to follow signs to a waterfall. Here are pictures we took there:

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That night, we stayed in Enniskerry, which is the town where Gerry is from in the movie (this was on accident!) It is a very tiny, cute town, population 1,811. There was literally one tiny street with businesses. They were having a festival to celebrate a town anniversary the night we were there, and it was the smallest festival known to man.

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That's all for what happened that day! We will post a bit about our day in Dublin yesterday when we get a chance. We are sitting in the Dublin airport, almost ready to board. We should be back in the states (Washington, DC), around 3:30pm.

Posted by Acw415 04:01 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Kinsale, Cork, and Kilkenny

sunny 65 °F

Over the last two days, we have visited several cities and drove the Ring of Kerry.

Yesterday, we woke up and started driving the Ring of Kerry, fully expecting to be wowed and have to stop several times to take pictures. Toward the beginning of the ring, we stopped to see the Gap of Dunloe, but when we got there, we found out that it was either going to be a 6 mile round trip walk or a half-day tour (there would be too many horse buggies, bikers, and walkers to drive there at that time of day), so we opted to do neither of those things and continue on, expecting to go back later in the evening when we could drive the car there. We never went. Oops. The beginning of the Ring of Kerry was uneventful. As we kept driving on, we noticed that everything that should be wowing us just wasn't, most likely because we had seen it all already throughout the rest of the country. We determined that the Ring of Kerry is basically a compacted version of everything you see throughout the rest of Ireland if you only have a short time period in the country. So, if you ever come to Ireland, remember that! We found the Dingle Peninsula to be far more impressive. Ashley actually took a nap during part of the Ring of Kerry....

Aaaanyway...Jeremy found a brand new brewery in Killarney and went to sample a few of their beers. Then, we set out to find an early supper around 4pm. The evening before while we were in Killarney, we noticed that several restaurants had a rack of Kerry lamb on the menu, and Jeremy really wanted that, because we read that Kerry lamb was better than most lamb since those lambs eat herbs on the hillside all day long. Well, all of the resturants we had checked out weren't opening until 5pm or later for dinner, with inflated prices. It seemed that all of the restaurants in the town were either open or lunch or they were open for supper, and there was nothing open in between. We happened into a pub where the frustrated (yet hilarous) young Irish barkeep told us that we should just look for bar food because they serve food all day and they don't inflate the prices. We found a bar across the street where Jeremy was able to order his rack of Kerry lamb (although it was actually on the menu of the restaurant above the bar...but the waiter got it for him anyway). The lamb was everything it was cracked up to be, and during dinner, we discussed that we needed to tell Ashley's parents that they should start raising sheep, both for us to eat, and also to mow all of those yards (thats's a hint for you, Sandy!)

Yummy gelato was aquired for dessert, where we had a nice discussion with the owner, and suggested that he create a rhubarb flavor (we have seen tons of things made out of rhubarb over here), and he said he is always looking for suggestions, so he might try that. Would be nice to know if he ever tries it, but we will never know...

We found live music (not traditional Irish music) to listen to, and we sat next to a nice couple from Colorado. The guy singing was very good, and the conversation was nice, too. We eventually moved on to try to find traditional Irish music, but the pub we went to was too crowded, so we left. We never did find a good place, so we went back to the B&B and went to bed.

Our B&B for our two nights in Killarney was a riding stable, and the front yard was full of horses, sheep, a goat with 4 horns, chickens, an ostrich, and bunnies. The owners didn't really do anything to keep the animals separate from the B&B. It was a nice view out the windows, and luckily, we didn't have any crazy encounters except the 4-horned goat was laying on the edge of the driveway one night! Another note about the B&B -- on our first morning there, while we were eating breakfast, we watched three (legitimate) backpackers leaving for the day...no car or anything, and we were a few miles out in the country! We can't imagine that they would get very far here on foot!

Today, we drove to Kinsale, which was renowned to be the gourmet capital of Ireland. It is a coastal town, so we figured they would have good seafood. Well, we found the opposite problem that we found the night before, where not many places were open for lunch (which was what we were trying to eat), but they were open for supper. We finally found a place that had tons of good seafood. We had crab claws, a cup of seafood chowder (each), and we shared a seafood casserole thing with mashed taters. It was all really good! Kinsale was a nice little town, overall.

Next, we drove to Cork. The gelato guy recommeded that we go check out the English Market there. It was a really large city. We struggled to find a place to park, and after circling the English Market and its surrounding streets, we finally found a place to park. The market was really interesting; it was like the deli sections of the grocery store exploded. Raw types of every kind of meat, and that included fish in their full forms. We even saw some types of sea life's heads with the teeth still in them and everything. Yuck! Before leaving Cork, we did a bit of shopping outside the Market. It was a happening area! We had heard earlier in the trip that clothes are really expensive here (like 100 euros for a pair of Levi's). We found out that it was true. We saw a pair of Levi's for 116 euros. Insane!

We headed to our B&B, which is in Thomastown, about 15 minutes south of Kilkenney, and a half hour north of Waterford. We drove to Kilkenney for supper and music tonight. We saw Kilkenney Castle (pictured). Tomorrow, we will go to Waterford.

The pictures are just from this afternoon. Other pictures are on a different memory card out in the car. Don't worry, we barely took any in the Ring of Kerry anyway, so you aren't missing much. The scenery changed now that we are in the south. Less rocks. And the clouds and blue sky are just amazing! Oh, and it was warm enough to wear short sleeves and ditch the jacket! : ) Enjoy!

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Posted by Acw415 14:55 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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