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Travel Journal: My Vermont Weekend

Hello, everyone!

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So for the past three years, my college girlfriends and I have enjoyed an annual "moms weekend away" somewhere in New England. In 2009 we traveled to Newport, RI ... and last year we met up on Cape Elizabeth, ME. Our destination this year was southern Vermont, one of my most favorite places on earth!

 Needless to say, this is a crazy-long post filled with lots and lots of pictures. So if vacation photos are not your thing, please feel free to skip this post and return when I've moved onto my next topic. ;)

So we left last Friday morning and arrived at the Castle Hill Resort & Spa in Proctorsville, Vermont around 3 p.m. The day was just glorious - perfectly sunny and warm.

*Arriving at Castle Hill*

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Isn't this building (aka The Castle) beautiful? This was once the home of Governor Allan M. Fletcher (1912-1915). It was the first Vermont residence to have electricity which I thought was quite interesting.

Our first order of business, stretching our legs and ...

*Exploring the Grounds*

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My dear friends, and travel companions, Lynne and Dionne. Lynne is the one who researched and organized the whole weekend, finding us this wonderful spot. She also drove us - up to, around, and home from Vermont again. D. handled navigation and any money matters - figuring expenses and divvying up checks, etc.

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D. and I by the spa sign ... we never indulged in any spa services, but we left feeling refreshed all the same!

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(It was beautiful though! And oh my goodness, it smelled fantastic!)

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(Pretty natural things, inside and out.)

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And next we met up with the rest of our crew and settled into our suite ...

*Our Little Home Away from Home*

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More dear friends of mine: Kathy, Allison and Mo. :)

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The suite was quite spacious - and light-filled as you can see.

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(Yes, those are my magazines on that bed. Lol, I brought about a dozen!)

After cocktails on the deck, admiring the view and catching up, we headed out for ...

*Our "Fancy Dinner" at The Castle*

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Such a beautiful setting ...

I was pretending (just a little) that I was visiting Downton Abbey. ;)

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Dinner was amazing! And after a late night of talking ... and talking ... we finally got to bed sometime around midnight. (Way past my bedtime as most of you know!)

Now unfortunately I just could not program myself to sleep in - no matter how hard I tried - so I was up around 6:30 Saturday morning. But fortunately, I was able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise as I sat on the deck, with my coffee and camera close at hand.

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After coffee and some "pumpkin streusel coffee cake," we piled into the minivan and were off for some ...

*Saturday Adventures*

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With Mt. Okemo looming in the distance, we headed south to Weston and our first stop:

*The Vermont Country Store*

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Where they truly have everything!

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 Homespun tablecloths ...

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... moose hats ...

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... long-forgotten soaps and shampoo ...

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... funny paper masks ...

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... storage supplies ...

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... maple syrup (of course!) ...

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... handcrafted mugs of all kinds ...

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... interesting history ...

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... household items for every imaginable need ...

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... lots of sweet stuff ...

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... and coffee!

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Bags in tow, we took a moment to "re-group" after shopping.

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To be honest, I could have stayed there all day, but it was time for a little refreshment, so we took a drive out to the ...

*Long Trail Brewery*

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(Had to snap the trestle bridge picture for Earlybird!)

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It was another gorgeous day, so we enjoyed our lunch out on the deck ...

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I'm not much of a beer drinker myself, but when in Rome and all ... and actually, this pale ale was quite nice!

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After lunch and a brewery tour, we all bought souvenir t-shirts and sampler packs for our hubbies, who had so generously stayed home to hold down the forts while we were off having fun. 

Next stop:

*Our Requisite Cultural/Historical Experience*

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But since I have sooo many pictures from the wonderful Calvin Coolidge Museum, I will put them all in a separate photo album, otherwise this post will just get ridiculously long. (Not that it's not already!) I'll get that album together later this week.

By evening we had returned to the suite and stayed in for dinner and a movie. It was the perfect quiet evening after a very busy day. Sunday morning we lingered at the suite as long as we could and then headed off to breakfast at ...

*The Hatchery*

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(The apple cinnamon pancakes were fabulous!)

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Do these gals look refreshed or what? I just love these ladies so much!

This is a small sampling of our whole group - several women could not make it this year. We've all been friends since our freshman year in college ... and I won't tell you how long ago that was, lol - but suffice it to say, it's been a while! We're all moms now, and busy with our families and careers, etc. but when we come together like this, it just seems like the years and distance all melts away. I feel blessed to have these ladies in my life and so grateful we're able to do this ...

And speaking of feeling blessed and grateful, it goes without saying - but I'm going to say it anyway - I am SO thankful that Bill encourages me to do this. He is such a trooper about it - taking on all the responsibilities at home for two and a half days. It's a whole lot of work but he makes sure it all goes smoothly and that I don't worry or feel guilty about it. The boys are good about it too - though each time I called home, Earlybird would say, "I miss you Mama and I want you to come home."

Ok, so after breakfast we headed for home ... but there was one more stop to make ... the other Vermont Country Store! (It just so happened to be right on our way ...)

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(And who can resist just a wee bit more Vermont shopping?)

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(I tried on a few of these hats and was very tempted to make a purchase.)

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And then finally, roundabouts 4 p.m., I was truly back home! I brought back some yummy goodies for the family, a pair of new fleece slippers for myself, as well as a lovely new mug ...

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(Every time I use it I'll remember this wonderful weekend away.)

 So it's back to reality now, and I'm trying hard to catch up. But we're already making plans for and looking forwards to next year ...

Our 2013 destination: the great state of Connecticut! 


Well, thanks so much for stopping by, and taking the time to read. I know it was a lot to sift through, but as designated "weekend photographer" I wanted to make sure to catch every moment. Our memories are only so reliable these days!

Have a great Tuesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

National Lighthouse Day!

I had no idea that yesterday was National Lighthouse Day (or that it existed at all), but in its honor I'd like to show you all a picture of Earlybird's bedroom door ...

Lighthouse door

My mum painted it before he was born. :)

And here are lighthouse curtains made by Bill's mom ...

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And even a lighthouse lamp!

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(In case you couldn't tell, Earlybird's bedroom is done in a lighthouse theme!)

Also, here's a link to my Portland trip last September - my friends and I visited several lighthouses that weekend, so naturally there are tons of pictues! And here's a link to the "Open Lighthouse Day" website - lots of great links to explore there! (Fyi: Maine's annual "Open Lighthouse Day" is Saturday, September 15th this year.)

Finally, how about a few "lighthouse book" recommendations?

The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge

North American Lighthouses Coloring Book

Lighthouses for Kids: History, Science and Lore

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

The Lighthouse Cat


Have you ever visited a lighthouse before? They're such an interesting part of our maritime history!

Well, my friends ... have yourselves a wonderful Wednesday, and I'll see you again sometime soon!

Travel Journal: My Weekend in Maine

Dear readers, I must warn you ... this is a ginormous post! Even for me, this is a very lengthy post - so I must apologize if vacation photos are not your thing! I attempted to set up a photo album for my "travelogue" but it was taking me too much time to organize - and my free moments were precious and few this week. So instead, you've got the whole shebang here in one ridiculously long post! I do hope you enjoy the pictures, and I can't tell you how much fun this weekend was - though, I'll certainly try! ;)

So my dear friend, and college roommate, Kathy, set this whole adventure up - a "moms"  getaway weekend for our group of college girlfriends. We hoped to have as many ladies join us as possible, but in the end, there were just five of us. As I mentioned, we all went to college together (and roomed in the same house) and have happily stayed in touch all these years! Twenty at last count!

Now, a couple of years ago - the year most of us turned 40 - we went to Newport, RI for a long weekend. This time we set our sights (and navigation systems) on Cape Elizabeth, Maine ... 


The Inn by the Sea is located just about 15 minutes outside Portland. It was very easy to find, and I am very grateful to my friend Lynne for driving me there and back (not to mention chauffering our group around Portland), and I deeply appreciate all the research and legwork Kathy did in finding this inn and booking our cottage! 

So, we arrived at the Inn around noon on Friday ~ and we were just overwhelmed by its loveliness - not to mention quite impressed by its eco-friendliness.

Here is the central lobby in the main building. To the left are the check-in desks (not shown) and the restaurant entrance ("The Sea Glass") just beyond. To the right is a handsome little lounge - all dark, shiny wood and a large crackling hearth.


Tired from driving and ready to chat, we opted to have lunch on the deck - and here I am, soaking in that glorious Maine sunshine!


I could not pass up a lobster roll - this was Maine after all, and nothing says Maine quite like lobster!



After lunch our lodging was ready, so we ambled over to the "Beach Cottage." As the mother of boys I had to laugh at the sight that welcomed us on our way up the stairs ...


Our cottage had two levels ... here's a glimpse of the upstairs loft where I slept:


And here's the view from our deck!


I must tell you, this was the perfect weekend for our visit. Not only was the weather amazing - mid 60s, crisp and bright - but Saturday just happened to be "Open Lighthouse Day" across Maine. The ONE day a year when lighthouses are open to the public!

The Inn's gardens were beautiful and seasonally-inspired ...



And a short walk through the September woods ...


... brought us to a secluded beach.


One thing I love about New England beaches - the craggy coastline.


Beautiful to look at, but not always comfortable for bare feet!


The colors in the water are striking ...


... and the wildlife is plentiful (and oftentimes, pushy). These gulls however, were quite well behaved.


After a long afternoon walk, we made our way back "home."


(Lynne took this photo. It was a very silly moment.)

The woods were just brimming with late summer bounty ...


Michaelmas daisies, rose hips, goldenrod and cattails ...


Oh, and spider webs! They were everywhere!


In the evening (this is Friday), we headed out to scope out the local lighthouse locations. This here is Two Lights State Park.


Here's a group shot of our "gang," from left to right: Dionne, Nancy, Lynne, me and Kathy.


 I have to point out - our colors very nicely tie in with the park habitat!


Sunset was closing in so we got ready to head out  ...


Interesting sculptures at The Lobster Shack, located at the end of Two Lights Road.


We did a quick drive-by the Portland Head Light, but the park was closing.


We picked up pizza for supper and enjoyed a movie before bed (a "chick flick" Bill would call it). We needed our rest for a busy day ahead!

And not surprisingly I was first up ... here is my sunrise moment on the deck:




Watching the light come across the marsh was amazing!


After a delicous breakfast (Lynne brought a wonderful egg casserole) and "Good Morning" calls home, we headed out bright and early to see ourselves some lighthouses!

First up - Portland Head - only we were denied immediate access, and instead assigned a time to come back. So we made our way to "Bug Light" instead.


Which was tiny but oh-so lovely!


Gorgeous Grecian architecture!


All the lightghouses had precarious staircases - the only way to gain access to the towers.


But so worth it!


Another group shot ... don't we look well rested?


Next up - Spring Point Ledge Light:


At each lighthouse we were welcomed by some really wonderful people - very knowledgeable in Maine maritime history - full of stories and that true Yankee spirit.

We were also met at each lighthouse with something like this:


But again, the steep and somewhat scary climb was totally worth it!


Such a view!

Of course, nature nut that I am, I couldn't help but notice this tiny black creature nimbly nativagting the rocks:


(According to the lighthouse representative this is a mink!)

During our visit, we each got to try on the lighthouse keeper's hat:


And learned about the workings of the lighthouse system in general, and Spring Point Ledge in particular:




(Needless to say, all kinds of "unit study" bells were going off in my head!)

 Finally, it was on to Portland Head!


One of the most iconic Maine sights:


Another climb, not as narrow, but quite a bit higher ...



And again ... that view!








This plaque reads:

"Henry Wadsworth Longfellow often walked from Portland to visit this lighthouse. The Keepers were his friends, and it is believed he sat here for inspiration for his poem, The Lighthouse."

(More information can be found here.)

Our next stop was downtown Portland - a place I'd never visited, but had heard lots of wonderful things about!




We were all stah-vin so we found a neat little pub for lunch ...


My Saturday lunch: a turkey/smoked cheddar sandwich, and a cup of clam chowdah ...


So, so yummy. 

Some fun window shopping ensued ...


The prettiest pottery/candle/soap shop I've ever been in:




A shop entirely devoted to cupcakes!


And another, all about hot sauce!


(I bought Bill a bottle of "Thai Monkey." One step hotter than he's used to - a kajillion steps hotter than I can handle!)




The one place I parted with some of my pin money - Stonewall Kitchen:



I bought some Halloween treats for the boys and some autumnal delights like Maple Pumpkin butter and gingebread latte mix. 

I kept myself in check and soon we headed for the parking garage - passing a very neat building on our way ...


Once home, we changed up and headed to the beach for some "book" time.

First, Nancy and I took a moment to pose in the gazebo ...


Thanks to Kathy for the picture!

My girls, enjoying our Saturday together:


My view ... I sent this picture home to Bill and the boys via my iPhone. I called these two "Mabel and Madge."


On our way back to the cottage ... where a lovely wedding had just taken place.


Our Saturday night involved eating by the hearth, a nice bottle of wine, and some s'mores by the fire pit. Fun and relaxing!

Sunday morning sunrise ... a bit more subdued at first sight:


But then the sun broke through ...


We had brunch at the Sea Glass and having had my fill of coffee back at the cottage, I opted for a mug of "seasonally flavored steamed milk."


I chose "caramel" ... 


It was a little bit of bliss.

I also had Maine blueberry pancakes - and they were spectacular - though as I told Bill, not quite as good as Daddy's Flying Flapjacks. :)

After brunch we packed up and headed home. Home to our hubbies, our homes and our kids. Feeling rested, rejuvenated and just relishing the relationships we've kept current these many years. It's so easy to get carried away with our repsonsibilities these days - we're all so busy and our kids are so busy and it's so easy to forge on and forget. I am as guilty of this as anyone. My life is absorbing - I love my children and my husband and my home, and I love this path we've carved ... but I also love my friends, these dear women who've known me since I was a girl. I am truly blessed to be friends with these ladies - they have shaped me in so many ways and I treasure their support, their friendship and love. 

All that said, it felt so good to get home. :)

And here is my favorite souvenir ...


Something I'll use all through the fall, winter and early spring - sipping tea and coffee and cocoa ... and remembering this very special weekend.

Next year is already in the works ... our 2012 destination?


Thanks SO much for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed a peek at our "Maine Moms Getaway." If you've never been to Maine I hope I piqued your interest - it truly is a "vacationland" for all seasons. There are many memories to be made here ...

I cherish the ones I brought home with me!


(See you all again sometime soon!)


Well, Earlybird did great!

Thank you all, for your prayers for EB! He had his doctor's appointment this morning and it went really well ...

Just look at his proud smile!


No shots and no bloodwork - thank goodness for that!

Now, for some reason he really wanted us to take a picture of Peep (one of his favorite television shows right now). Not sure why, but it was his day and his call, lol:


What would we ever do without PBS? We're watching Wild Kratts right now - another favorite around here.

OK, scratch that - I'm watching Wild Kratts right now. Everyone else is watching a "Disney Vacation Planner Video" with Daddy in the living room. 

So, have I dropped enough hints, lol? We are indeed going to Disney this year! This is our first time to Disney (with the kids) and our first family vacation in forever

Check out the new section I set up in my planner:




And since I took my first red squirrel pictures with my new camera today, I couldn't resist ...



Isn't he so cute? But I wonder what happened to the poor little guy's tail?

Well, there's the Tuesday roundup ... I hope your week's off to a good start! By the way, tomorrow is National Banana Bread Day ... and happily I happen to have a bunch of nearly overripe bananas in  the fruit dish. Now whatever could that mean? ;)

Have a good night, my friends ... see you again very soon!

Happy Trails ...


After years of indecision (and much research and debate), we finally took the plunge and bought an RV!

Our main motivation was finding a way to travel comfortably with Earlybird - his special needs make family travel a real challenge. Flying would not be an option, and road trips are difficult in the tight confines of our minivan. Hopefully, this roomy, fun mode of transportation will fit the bill!

So, we're not sure where we're going first - but we'll probably start with some easy day trips, just to get our bearings. I myself am in the mood to see some fall foliage ... :)

Stay tuned for future "tales from the trails!"

My Weekend in Newport

So, I'm back from my "mums weekend away" and I'm happy to report it was a wonderful time for us all. The weather was fabulous and I took a lot of pictures - but fortunately for you all I am only sharing a portion. ;) You have to remember as much as I write this blog for my readers (or I should say, conversing with my readers), I also use it as a personal/family journal. Someday I'll be glad to remember all the sights and scenes of my trip. Goodness knows when I might do this again.

First a quick bit of backstory. My college roommate Kathy organized this weekend away for the girls - all mums now - who lived together throughout our four years of college. Only six of us could make the trip but it was such an awesome time. We had so much fun catching up, relaxing and kicking back.

And now on to the pictures ...


This is, obviously, a drive by shooting - but I remembered on our way out of town that I never photographed our hotel. I promise the pictures get better after this.


Our room is one of those windows in the second row from the top. We looked out over the harbor and had sliders that opened onto the rooftop. 

Our view:


My view from where we ate dinner Friday night:


And my delicious dinner:


"Georges Banks Scallops"


The next morning, bright and early we headed out to the world famous Newport Cliff Walk.

Special thanks go to my friend Mo who strolled along with me and patiently put up with my shutterbug impulses. :)

Most of these are self-explanatory, but I've added notes here and there ...



I'm not sure which buildings were privately owned and which were part of Salve Regina - but they were all overwhelmingly beautiful. I felt as though I stepped into an Austen novel ...




I know you're not surprised I came home with an awful lot of nature photos. There were interesting bits of flora and fauna all along the walk.


Rosa Rugosa - commonly known as Beach Rose.
This is a seed center (totally made-up term); the vibrant pink petals are more visible and recognizable of course.



Bittersweet nightshade - just like the vine that grows near my back fence. 


Pretty little purple wildflower - not sure what it is.


I'm going to call this a morning glory because that's what it looks like, but I'm not 100% sure. Morning glories are annuals so it doesn't make sense these vines would endure year after year. I guess maybe they do though - to quote Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way."


A tiny little spider web - so beautiful!


I have no idea what this is, but in the glistening June sun it was certainly lovely.


Pretty daisies bloomed all over the cliffside.





Cool little shelled creature, clinging to the side of the cliff shown above. That was some jaunt if he came up with the tide!



I recognized the seagulls but the big black seabirds were a mystery to me until my friend D. told me they were in fact cormorants.

I couldn't decide which ocean shots I liked best, so you're getting them all!






After the cliff walk we had lunch - during which I saved my friends from a marauding swarm of bees. Ok, story. So we're sitting there enjoying a delicious lunch by the sea when I notice an extremely large swarm of bees hovering over the fence just behind where we were sitting. At first we tried the whole "don't move they'll ignore us" tactic for all of 5 seconds and then we ran - literally ran - to the other side of the restaurant (assuring our waitress we were not skipping out on our bill). A waiter turned the hose on the swarm and it flew out over the boats docked nearby. I wonder if it was a disturbed hive or perhaps a colony relocating? Either way it was one of the more memorable - not to mention humorous - moments of the weekend.

We next enjoyed a one-hour boat cruise of Newport Harbor.


We took the 3:00 tour aboard the Amazing Grace. Our tour guide was funny and full of interesting Newport maritime history and trivia. 


This boat, a lobster boat called the Freedom, is the sister ship to the vessel featured in an upcoming show on the Discovery Channel, Lobster Wars - if I understood the tour guide correctly.



Above you see Fort Adams where years ago Bill and I attended the Newport Folk Festival.



After the boat cruise we stopped for ice cream and then retired to the hotel to freshen up and look over college photo albums. Dinner at a local pub was followed by a showing of Twilight back at the hotel. Chatting and giggling ensued until roundabouts 2 a.m. Good thing we had no kids to wake us up the next morning!


I had to show you our friend, a seagull who seemed insistent on gaining access to our room. Seriously, he stalked us.

Sunday morning we woke to rain and found breakfast at a lovely local restaurant. After we finished the omelets, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice we headed for home and the families that missed us. 

I was pleased to get a shot of St. Mary's before we left town - the first Catholic parish in Rhode Island and the church in which JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier were wed.


And then we were on our way home!

Thanks SO much for taking the time to read through my post and take a peek at my pictures. It really was a gift, this weekend away. I thank my family for making it possible and my friend Kathy for making it happen. To all my King House girls - whether you were with us in Newport or with us in spirit - I love you all. Thanks for more than 20 years (!) of friendship and love.