Category Archives: Travels

Chicago….something something windy….

Is that really the title of this post?  Yes.  Yes it is.  I put that down, assuming something more cleaver would come to me by the time I was done.  And yet, here we are….

TRISH:

We were now really ‘booking it’ to head west again.  Chicago was the last stop we had specific plans for, as the guys were headed for their last baseball game there: Toronto Blue Jays @ Chicago Cubs.  Dale, as a Jays fan, had been looking forward to this game!  (Not to mention, he had a number of players from both teams on his fantasy baseball team).  You probably belong to one of two crowds – those who know what fantasy sports are, and those who are lucky.  Kidding, kidding.  Sort of. Continue reading Chicago….something something windy….

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Birthdays and Bridges and……oh shoot, “Waterpark” doesn’t start with a “B”

 

I was sad to have to leave the Hershey/Lancaster area.  We had just enough time there to realize we were missing out on a lot. (In fact, we did look into trying to extend our time there – but we couldn’t cancel our next night’s bookings over near Pittsburgh, so we continued on.)

Continue reading Birthdays and Bridges and……oh shoot, “Waterpark” doesn’t start with a “B”

Farmlands and Chocolate

I stated on my Instagram one day that when it comes to scenery I have “a type”. I love rolling hills, farmland, old buildings (preferably abandoned and falling over a bit), lots of trees and rocky cliffs are also quite nice. I was in my glory in the maritime provinces with so much character everywhere. Then we hit the states and the winding roads really took their turn making me fall in love with them. And then we hit Pennsylvania.

Have I mentioned already the road trip I took with my friend, Lisa, before I was married? We took a month and drove all around the outskirts of the mainland states, I believe they call them the lower 48 and then across Canada. Different spots from that trip have always stuck out to me and Pennsylvania was a huge favourite in my memory bank. Coming back is something I’ve wanted to do for years and it did not disappoint. Except that it was too short a visit.

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It was at this point in our trip that we reached a few days with no previously made reservations. We were so accustomed to knowing exactly where we were going that it felt a little strange when visiting around the fire in NJ and realizing we had no idea where we were going next. It was our chance to go with the flow and see what we wanted to do.

We wanted something somewhat halfway between Freehold, NJ and Pittsburgh, PA where we had our next baseball game stop. I knew I wanted to see the Lancaster area and Trish found Hershey, PA on the map. “Hershey… Do you think? Is it possible that’s the Hershey with the chocolate??” Well, IS it!! The search was on for a spot to stay close to that area. Not quite half way, but totally fine.

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Waiting for the girls to check in at the campground office.

The choice for campground was Pinch Pond just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Technically it’s 3 miles or so off the highway however really you just loop over the turnpike 2 times to end up right beside it. It’s a very well kept campground and when booking the lady offered us “buddy sites”. Clever! I really don’t know why more campgrounds don’t have that option.

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One site was a pull-thru and the other a back-in.

We were able to set up with our campers facing each other and it was awesome! We set up our picnic tables in one long table down the middle and our awning lights together made for a nicely lit area for us to enjoy. Perfect for another pancake breakfast too.

The campground pros:

  • nice laundry facility
  • buddy sites option
  • reasonably priced full hook-ups
  • pool for the kids
  • excellent base camp for the numerous things to do in that area of Pennsylvania
  • different sizes of firewood bundles to purchase

Cons:

  • close to a busy highway meant for traffic noise though not enough to deter us from going back someday
  • internet option was supposed to allow 2 hrs free for guests, but it kept telling me I already used it so no internet unless you pay
  • playgrounds could use some type of ground covering to prevent it from being just mud
  • there is a shooting range close by so every once in awhile you do get a lot of gun shots

Because we had nice short drive from NJ we arrived with time for the kids to get in the pool for a bit while I did some laundry and nursed a bit of a headache. We sure do appreciate short drive days after all the long drive days we’ve had. Especially the ones we assumed would be short and ended up way longer.

We only had one full day in eastern PA and somehow we filled it full and still had a bit of a lazy morning. Trish researched all the chocolate related activities we could possibly do in Hershey and really, we just wanted to check out the free tour at Chocolate World. And get a free chocolate at the end. I was not at all expecting what we saw driving into the city of Hershey!!

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Hershey kisses for street lights! And the amusement park was WAY bigger than I thought. Somehow all buildings were related to chocolate. They even have a building for the Chocolate Workers Union. Somehow the idea of unions and something so happy as chocolate didn’t compute in my brain. I prefer not to think about it.

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We found our way inside a very busy Chocolate World. It’s amazing how we can make so many souvenirs of something like a chocolate bar. Really. When you think about it…. kinda crazy! Of course we bought some!

As we searched through the crowds for the free tour we came for we pass into a doorway and the staff standing there says, “Have a good ride!” What?! Ride? Trish and I immediately look at each other. We missed the part of the description that said it was a ride and Trish LOVES (nope!) rides so I’m sure her heart skipped a beat or two. There were no deadly falls or tight twists and twirls so no worries. Just some singing cows, a “freaky” pig (according to my youngest) and talking chocolates. The pig might’ve been freaky, but she wanted to go again. More than likely for the free chocolate at the end. An IG sewing friend that lives in PA pointed out that the chocolates actually taste creamier there than the ones you buy in the store. I agree totally!

From there we could’ve just gone back to the campground, but I really wanted to go to the Lancaster area. And I was determined not to waste the drive on the very “un”scenic toll roads. We switched the GPS to avoid all toll roads and main highways and headed out.

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So much corn!
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Silos everywhere!
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And, of course, red brick building in every shape and size.
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This particular style of barn was seen a lot. I feel like there’s a story behind them.

 

Of course, we’re not disappointed at all with what we see. Even our route through Lancaster was beautiful. I noticed everyone here gets a covered porch. Even when the front door is 2’ from the road you get a covered porch! I love it.

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When people want to see the Amish countryside the touristy place to go is Intercourse. And can I just say what everyone has thought? Who decided that was a good name for a town? I’d google it, but I’m afraid of what will show up. The comments that were made/texted between the Yanke and Herrera adults were all what we call “saved for the secret blog”.

Secret blog, you ask? You would need a special password and a healthy sense of humour. And we’d actually have to write one. But if we did it would mostly star Erick! HAHA!! And when he reads this he’s going to shake his head at me as if he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Seriously though. Our secret blog content is pretty freaking hilarious and those who know us know I’m telling the truth.

Anyway, back to Intercourse.

We found our way down the back roads and saw lots of farms and the tell tale signs of the buggies and Amish lifestyle. Seeing the men doing the fieldwork with the horses somehow felt so right. Not that I’m about to sell our car though. At one point I was all excited and pointed out a buggy to the girls only to get close and see it was just a bunch of tourists. And then you have to ask yourself how much the Amish love being watched and made into a tourist attraction. There’s probably some mixed feelings on that.

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Because of our longer drive out we arrived in Intercourse a bit late. I feel I need to reword that. We arrived at our destination when stores were already starting to close. I just missed a fabric store, but we did manage to walk around the Kettle Kitchen Village and it was a flashback to my last visit here when the exact same thing happened (arriving too late to enjoy seeing much). So, two trips to this area and I still haven’t seen more than 2 stores! Still, I was able to find some souvenirs of the delicious sort and the girls milked a cow!

While we were enjoying our little jaunt out to the southeast corner of the state, the Yanke’s were out enjoying their own fun with a game of mini golf. It was an unintentional stop, but those really are the best kind.

The next day our drive was even shorter than our last and getting further from the east coast we were more confident that traffic wasn’t going to surprise us and slow us down. We took our time and advantage of a 2:00 check-out time (another pro for the campground) and went to visit a pond with the kids while the guys hitched up the wagons. Or trailers.

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We hopped in the cars and headed west. Through the Appalachians we went and I think we all marvelled at how must faster it is to go through mountains as opposed to around and over them as we did in Ontario a few weeks earlier!

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I think it’s so cool how the vines coat the trees.

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And just around the corner we arrived at our next stop. But that’s a different post.

Turkey Swamp (I saw neither Turkeys, nor a Swamp….)

We were all pretty excited that our drive from Wakeda campground to our next stop (about half way between New York City and Philadelphia) was only going to be about 5.5 hours.  All things considered, that was a “short” day for us!  ‘Present me’ laughs at ‘past me’ now.  We were on the road for about 10 hours that day.  It wasn’t long after we left our New Hampshire campground that we started getting into a lot of traffic and towns/cities. Continue reading Turkey Swamp (I saw neither Turkeys, nor a Swamp….)

Is Hampton Falls “THE Hamptons??”

As I’m writing we have just left what was the longest stay of our trip. We’ve been staying at Wakeda Campground in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire and enjoying full hook-ups. And though those are both wonderful treats, I wasn’t sure what I thought when we pulled in. Gone were the beautiful, private, treed spots of the maritime provinces and here we could see everyone else all around us. Yankes were right beside us so that made it easier for keeping track of kids, but I do prefer feeling nestled in the campsites.

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The drive down through Maine was probably not the best impression that the state could give us. There was a misconception within our group that the roads would improve once we crossed the border. Not so. And a little incident with a gross guy trying to get cheeky in a parking lot of a store that I felt I could be mugged in…. not a great image of Maine. I’m sure we missed the good there so I won’t write it off. This day was simply for driving through.

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We did expect this to be a longish drive, but not too bad. And this became our introduction to east side American traffic. Not horrible, but like I said, an introduction. Locals told me later that it’s a known fact that driving through Portsmouth/Portland is simply not done on Fridays or Saturdays. They have “weekend traffic” and we got stuck in it.

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Reasons for choosing Wakeda Campground:

  • reasonable driving distance from New Bruswick
  • close for the guys to get to Boston for baseball game
  • mini golf for the kids
  • reasonable driving distance to next campground

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I’ve found that at each new campground I have a day or two till I feel comfortable letting the kids roam free. I have a touch of helicopter mom when in areas I’m not familiar with. This spot was a bit bad for that because it’s a fairly large campground and the kids park was not close by. Our first day there two of the kids decided to try and race everyone home around a different loop. That ended in Dale and Erick searching the campground in the rain trying to find them. They were way off. I didn’t freak out, but they didn’t earn any permission to go to the park on their own either.

Each playground we find has something a bit different that the kids love and here it was the merry-go-round that the dads were more than happy to spin around at breakneck speeds (kids flew off) and where I couldn’t even look at it spinning without getting queazy.

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For some reason I woke up a bit early the first morning there and somehow quite alert even. So I decided to go for a run. I couldn’t see if Trish was awake so I set off alone to check out the neighbourhood outside the campground. What I thought was a quick 3 – 3 1/2 mile run was a much longer loop than I expected. 9 miles later I finally arrived back at the campsite. I was pretty glad I had my google maps along because I’d probably still be out there if I hadn’t. Definitely feeling the results of a more relaxed vacation exercise routine I was not deterred from enjoying this east coast vibe that I remembered from years ago and was so excited to find again.

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The houses in this area are amazing! All so huge and with this area having so much history you could sense it. Of course, there’s a lot of new builds too and they are equally impressive. We met one family that said their house was built in the 1700’s. I love that. Adding to the gorgeous houses was the dense forest all around and the small winding roads.

All of a sudden, at one point, I came across a covered bridge and just through it was a farm. Without realizing it I was now running around free range chickens and checking out goats and cute pigs. I don’t know if it’s all good to take pictures of strangers houses, but I did. Usually in some manner that I hope looked like I was just checking my phone reception.

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As cute as this little stinker is (not yet squished) I was more than glad to see him feet up!

The kids found a few new pets while at Wakeda. A frog named Froggy and a little snake. The snake didn’t quite get the same treatment as Froggy. A little harder to grasp maybe. Froggy was given the royal treatment as the kids all created different homes for him and treated him as a superhero. Thankfully they eventually placed him back in the grass where they found him. Froggy was probably ecstatic at seeing that tree line.

The guys had their first baseball game while here. The took a car towards Boston and left it in a Wal-mart where they met their uber who took them in to the stadium. Now, I could give more details about that, but really, they should be writing their own blog post for that, right? I did enjoy seeing the pictures of the areas they walked around. Again, so much history in this area and so evident in the buildings.

They’ve decided this uber idea was a great success so plans are to continue the Wal-mart stop uber usage. It’s awfully entertaining to hear them talk about the uber driver who has amazed them with his friendliness, but they can’t agree on what his name was. I can’t wait to see how many more names they completely mess up. This portion of the trip, which I call “Phase 2 – United States”, was built around the guys addiction, I mean, great love of baseball and I’m glad they’re having fun in the adventure even from the drive to the stadium and back.

While the guys were away for the day, Trish and I decided to do camp irons for supper with the kids. The fire was built and roaring in very little time, I’m happy to report. Thank goodness there’s no video of my trying to swing that ax. That thing’s way too heavy while the other one was like trying to swing a butter knife at the log. Neither one super effective, but I made it work.

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Perfect pie iron fire.

We pulled out the camp irons, the pizza filling, the pie filling and the s’mores necessities and got to making supper. No food group charts here. Or EVER when camping! No matter how hard I try.

Not everyone is familiar with camp irons. Some people also call them pie irons. I grew up eating these so there’s something very nostalgic about having them with my kids. There are many ways to enjoy them, but here’s an idea of what we’ve done and how to make them.

I’ll warn you that not all pie irons are made equal. These were made in southern Manitoba and are super sturdy in comparison to some kinds I’ve seen in stores. Unfortunately the family stopped making them so I can’t provide you with a link, but I would suggest looking for the good cast iron kind. Not the flimsy metal ones. You’ll be glad you got the right ones.

First thing is to warm the irons in the fire. The fire has to have had time to calm down a bit first or it’ll be too hot and things will burn. Don’t rush the process! You want some nice burning embers.

Next is to coat both insides with some butter. Lay a piece of bread on either side and spoon some filling of your choice on one side.

Then comes the tricky part. As quick as you can (so the bread doesn’t fall out) swing the iron closed and pinch together to seal the bread around the edges and break off the crusts. And if you followed that you’re probably wondering how to pinch that shut when it was just pulled out of the flames. I’ve seen people step on it and they clearly have shoes that don’t melt easily or don’t care about the shoes. Or I whack it on ground a couple times and the crusts fall off.

Be prepared for the odd one burnt. Usually the first one.

The kids also enjoyed the s’mores version, which was new for us. One came up with the idea and the others jumped in without hesitation. It was a hit. We didn’t use graham crackers though. I usually buy chocolate wafers and mint chocolate for mine so that’s what we had.

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I settled for the regular s’mores version. “MY’ s’mores version, that is. Campfire hands and all!

Our last day in New Hampshire, Trish and I headed to a little store called Pintuck and Purl. We found it online when searching for places that carry Art Gallery Fabrics. Fabric is a bit of an addiction much like baseball is for the guys. And if it’s Art Gallery, well, there’s no words. We put in on our list of things to do and headed out.

Pintuck and Purl carries and small selection of some great fabrics on one side of the store and a yarn selection on the other. They also have classes at the store as well, but we weren’t able to take part in any of that sort of fun. We enjoyed checking out some other fabric lines that we’ve never seen in person and generally enjoyed looking and dreaming about what we could make. Trish had a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to do so she walked out with an entire roll of fabric. That’s a first! I can’t wait to see when she finishes those projects. Mine buy was more just ideas. I’d been eyeing Cotton + Steel fabric for awhile now.

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The campground offers a pancake breakfast on Sundays, but we opted for our own version. 

Of course the mini golf at Wakeda was used a few times as well.

 

And that was pretty much our New Hampshire stay in a nutshell. Such a beautiful state. The people at the campground were all very friendly and I could see why it was a loved destination for locals and those coming from a bit further.

Oh, did I answer my own question? Where ARE “The Hamptons”? I googled it. It’s NY. Nevermind. We just found ritzy New Hampshire Hampton Falls. Haven’t been to the NY version, but I’m willing to bet I’d prefer these.

The Island currently known as Prince (Edward Island).

As we began to approach the east coast a few weeks ago, my kids started asking “Is this the place where we go over the huge bridge?”  Or, as we crossed any number of “large-ish” bridges:  “Was that the big bridge?”  I had been telling them, before we ever left home, about the big Confederation Bridge that stretched across from the main land (New Brunswick) into P.E.I. and they were imagining the things of fairy tales (I’m pretty sure). Continue reading The Island currently known as Prince (Edward Island).

Charlottetown

Ahhhh, Prince Edward Island. I was going to move here once upon a time. I worked for a potato grading company and they were waiting to get a contract with the PEI potato companies. My bosses were well aware of my desire to head out and take a supervisor position when they got the contract. But then I met Erick and switched to a job that was closer to home and so goes life. I believe they did eventually get the contract. Oh well. Someone else got the job. I got the guy.

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The guys have had their five baseball games booked for months already and for us girls we had one day pinned down as our day out. A spa day in Charlottetown. (We’ll add a few more days as we go along.) After 2 weeks of sitting in the car I was very ready for a massage! The guys suggested that we go out for supper too so we happily headed out for the day.

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I was kinda curious how we were going to do with navigating. Not because we can’t, but these roads are quite different and the views incredibly distracting. Erick and I took about 4 wrong turns getting to the campground. Some due to lack of signage or expecting bigger roads. (Google maps took us onto some dirt roads.) Others due to me being busy taking pictures and not watching the GPS. Can you blame me though? What is with this province being so beautiful?

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I feel like PEI is a a mix of the maritime fishing life and the prairies farming lifestyle. Erick and I decided that as much as we loved Newfoundland, PEI would probably be an easier place to adapt to. It is the small town feel I know and love.

There’s something I really notice that is different from the prairies. I can’t quite put my finger on it except to say there’s an appearance of preserving the past and preserving the landscape. Instead of pulling up all the trees to give more field space they stay and define the beautiful patchwork of the many shades of green and yellow with canola, corn, potatoes and more.

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Then there’s the abandoned barns and houses. At home they’d be bulldozed. Here they stay and I just know they all have stories to tell. They look like dollhouses. Most of the houses on the island do. So many houses I assumed were abandoned but then I noticed the lawn is mowed and cars are parked. They are simply older homes that someone still calls home. It exists everywhere, but these here in PEI felt different. I wish I could’ve gotten some pictures of them. They were usually hidden in trees along the road.

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This one was a bit past being lived in.

It reminded me of the house I spend my first 10 years of life in. We were the last to live in that house. After we moved it sat empty for years and eventually was torn down. That house had so many stories and it was so sad to see it disappear.

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That room on the second floor was mine. I remember sitting on the window ledge with my feet hanging outside just enjoying the air.

Anyway, as mentioned in previous posts, we’ve had trouble finding good WiFi signal so we took our laptops with us to the city and planned on a coffee somewhere to work on some blog posts. Though we did find some phenomenal internet speed, we misjudged how long it would take us. Totally good though. We had some amazing treats at Casa Mia Cafe before heading to the spa. Much better than the Starbucks we were going to head for. The “Bloggers Paradise” as Dale called it.

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We booked at the Grand Senses spa.

Charlottetown has a bit of a similar feel that St John’s did in Newfoundland, but with a smaller hometown touch. The historical downtown is so pretty and pedestrians rule around here.

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Pedestrians only street

The restaurants are all so good and it was hard to decide where to eat. In the end it was Merchant Man for some super tasty curry and crispy lentil tacos. (We shared, of course.)

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Beaver Tails were the dessert of choice. Yum! I felt so Canadian.

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And then a bit more walking.

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Our drive back to Cavendish was too dark to be distracted by the fields and houses so this time it was just the windy road and all the kids already in bed when we got home. A wonderful day.

The Little One Goes East…. Further East

The second portion of our trip in Newfoundland we took the little Twinnebago and headed east to the other coast. This particular adventure was built around our choice for the whale tour which was in Bay Bulls, Nfld just a short distance from St. John’s. Continue reading The Little One Goes East…. Further East

Icebergs, and Vikings, and Whales….Oh My!

When I went to do laundry the other day, I walked in on Sherri waiting for her load to finish in the dryer.  She was in the middle of a conversation with a lady who was from a different part of the province, but who had been ‘touring’ the western portion of Newfoundland with her family.  They had actually just come from the northern peninsula (which is where our family was headed next).  She talked about a dinner they had gone to called “The Great Viking Feast”.  It included a buffet of local foods, and a “show”.  Intrigued, we called ahead and made reservations for the next night. Continue reading Icebergs, and Vikings, and Whales….Oh My!

Meeting Newfoundland

As we are putting together this post, time is passing away on us. It’s tricky trying to find WiFi that is strong enough to handle uploading our pictures and I’m telling you, we can not share about this trip without a lot of pictures. It’s been so hard to choose just a few because this country of ours is just too beautiful. Continue reading Meeting Newfoundland