Travel Plans

Right now, the next travel posts will be a trip to Cozumel, Mexico in December. With me, you can never be too sure that another one won’t pop up before that, but we’ll see. That will actually be a vacation and not a trip. It will be a lot of sitting around, swimming, and playing on the beach. It will be great fun!


Friday, June 19, 2009

It was our last day of driving. We first started out with some breakfast which was included. There were waffles, yogurt, pastries, cereal, and fruit. We all ate and then Derek and Abby waited until 9:00 to go swimming. While they swam, Dad filled up the van with gas and I got our things packed up. We left at about 10:00am and made it to the Ohio/Indiana border when we stopped at Burger King for lunch. Everything went very smoothly until we got to within about 10 minutes of passing over I55. There was construction and I don’t know what all, and traffic was backed up and pretty much at a stop for MILES! We got on the right shoulder and drove to the next exit, which Derek found on the map would lead to Rt. 6. We got on Rt.6 and didn’t drive very far when we hit more stand still traffic. It didn’t clear up until after we passed the I55 ramps. We finally started moving and got back on I80 at Morris. It was around 5:00 when we pulled into our driveway. It had been a wonderful trip, but we were all glad to be done driving. Mom and Dad stayed the night and headed home the next morning. Abby and Cade both cried when they left. Cade said, “Um-uh, um-uh, um-uhhhh!” Abby cried for about 10 minutes until I finally got her distracted with some painting. They got spoiled getting to see them every day and really miss all the time together.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We left the Crowne Plaza early and headed west. It was a long day of driving and except for stopping for lunch and a rest stop, we just drove like heck. Streetsboro, Ohio was our last night’s stop at the Wingate by Wyndham. It was a nice hotel and we got it pretty cheap. Derek, Dad, Abby, and Cade went swimming and then we walked next door to Ruby Tuesday. I have never been to a Ruby Tuesday before and it was so good. The salad bar was amazing. This time Abby decided on a cookie for dessert and the cookie delivery guy hadn’t delivered the cookies. So, she ended up with a chocolate sundae. Go figure. Cade refused to go to sleep that night and Abby zonked out early. I went to Mom and Dad’s room to play some cards while Derek tried to get Cade to sleep and stayed with the kids in our room.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I knew it was going to be difficult to top our previous touring day, but today was the day we had tickets to go to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We drove to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, which was only about 20 minutes from our hotel. We did not have to wait in any lines, made it through airport type security with ease (except that I lost my little swiss army knife keychain- I loved that thing!) and boarded the ferry. After about 15 minutes of taking pictures and walking around on deck, we headed out toward Ellis Island. I found it to be interesting, but the kids were not very interested and they were making it difficult to take any time to really look around. So, I mostly kept moving and just looked at pictures and items on display instead of reading all the signs. Oh, who am I kidding? That is pretty much what I do anyway. Well, we missed the 10:00 ferry by about 10 minutes, so we found a nice shady spot with a bench and the kids ran around in the grass. The next ferry pulled out at 10:40 and we were on our way to the Statue of Liberty. In retrospect, we probably should have skipped Ellis Island and gone on the way back (although I’m not sure how that would work with the ferries) because by the time we got to the Statue, it was pretty busy. Ferries also leave from Battery Park in NYC, so there were quite a few people there. We had advance tickets that allowed us entry in the statue, although we would have only been able to go to the top of the base. We found the line and I knew instantly that I didn’t care that much. I said I would take the kids and eat and walk around if everyone else wanted to wait in line and go up. Mom and Dad both opted to come with me, but Derek wanted to wait it out. The rest of us went to the restaurant, ordered cheeseburgers and some pizza for Abby and ate at a nice little spot outside. We took our time and enjoyed the nice breeze. After lunch, Mom and I picked out some souvenirs in the gift shop and then we walked around the Statue. It was amazing. We made the circle, took some pictures and ended up back where we had left Derek in line. There were some dancers putting on some performances so we watched for a little bit and then Derek made his way back to where we were. Then we made one more circle around, took some more pictures, and ended up at the ferry dock. After a short wait, we boarded and were on our way back to New Jersey. We took the scenic route back to the hotel (on accident), but we made it. Dad walked to McDonald’s and brought back supper. Derek and Abby swam, kids fell asleep, and we enjoyed some more cards. It was another amazing day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wow! What an awesome, busy day in New York City. I thought going in that I would like the city, but I figured once I saw I’d feel like I would never need to see it again…wrong. It is amazing and I already want to go back (when the kids are a little older). We took the train from the North Elizabeth Station and got out at New York’s Penn Station by mid morning. We took the subway up to Times Square and made our way to street level. The lights were amazing even during the day and that is one reason I want to go back. I want to see it all at night. We walked around and looked like tourists, which obviously we were, with our necks craned up to see everything. It was a slightly overcast, but very bright. It was hard to open our eyes for pictures.

We walked around Times Square and went into the Hershey Candy store and then we walked a few blocks to the Rockefeller Center. We went to the Top of the Rock. The elevator on the way up was pretty cool. The ceiling was glass and it showed little movie clips of the Rockefeller Center and we could see the lights from the elevator shaft as we flew to the top. We got out and looked around. There was an amazing view of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the whole city. When we came out, we saw a McDonald’s sign a few blocks away. So, we walked down there and had some lunch. We then made our way to a subway station and came out about a block from Central Park.

There were horse carriages all lined up along the street. We went to the first one and told him we wanted a ride. He could only take 3 adults and the kids. Dad gladly sat out and kept the strollers for us. Mom, Derek, Abby, Cade and I piled in, took some pictures and we were on our way. It was such a relaxing, fun time. We rode past the sights of the lower, east side of Central Park, including a park, the carousel, and the zoo. It was so relaxing, in fact, that Cade fell asleep less than 5 minutes into the ride. Our horse Billy, and the driver led us through the park and we made a circle back to where we started. We found Dad relaxing on a bench in the shade and we got Cade transferred to a stroller. Then we made the same route walking. Instead of playing at the park, Abby decided to climb on the large rocks with Derek. Cade started waking up just in time for the carousel ride. He and Abby were so cute waiting for the ride together. She was hugging him and telling him what they were doing. It was a very fast carousel and difficult to get a picture of them on it, even with the new camera. We finished the walk around the park and looked for FAO Schwarz toy store. In Abby’s defense, she has an amazing sense of smell, which I used to have up until last October, so she held her nose for most of the ride because of the smelly horse. Notice Cade awake and then Cade sleeping.
FAO Schwarz was pretty amazing. It was fun just to look at the different toys and to see the giant Legos guys, like Batman and Chewbacca. Abby took a long time to choose a toy that she wanted. Most of the things she went for (fancy dolls) cost almost $100. I told her to keep looking. She almost got a stuffed Spot dog, from the books, but she lost interest in it before we were even ready to check out. Derek, Abby, and Cade played on the “Big” big piano. In the movie, Big, Tom Hanks plays on the same piano. In the end, Abby chose a little pink blanket baby and Cade got a little boy stuffed doll dressed in an elephant costume. They were both happy. So was I because we got both for less than $25.
After a long, wonderful day in NYC, we got back on the subway, then on the train and made it back to the North Elizabeth station. We ordered Perkins again for supper and Abby, Derek and Cade swam. We played more cards after the kids were sleeping and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

One of the drawbacks to the Crowne Plaza was that it did not include breakfast. So, we scrounged up something to eat and then were on our way to the Elizabeth train station. About a half hour later, we were at New York’s Penn Station. We decided to take the subway out to Flushing Meadows, where the tennis US Open takes place. We got on the subway’s red line and thought we were heading to Times Square, where we would need to switch to the purple line when we asked and figured out we were heading south, instead of north. Oh, well. Change plans. We kept heading south and decided to see Ground Zero. As we walked, I tried to imagine what it must have been like nearly 8 years ago when the planes hit. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around it. A few blocks walk and we were to the hole in the city. It was strange to see such a large empty area with all the tall buildings all around it. They are starting to build new and we could view from platforms the construction work on the site. We walked all around the area and then headed back toward the subway. This time we got on the subway going the right direction and ended up at the Times Square station where to switched. On our way out to Flushing Meadows, we were entertained for a few minutes by a Mexican mariachi band. They were moving from car to car at each stop and playing for tips. Abby put a dollar in one of their hats. It was cute to see her foot tapping and Cade dancing while they played.
We got off at our stop by the New York Mets new stadium and walked on a boardwalk over to Corona Park. There was a hot dog stand and it smelled like lunch to me. So, we stopped and ate at a picnic table. Cade fell asleep instead. After lunch, we walked through the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and around the grounds of the tennis US Open. After that, we walked through the park to the Unisphere. If you’ve ever seen the US Open on tv, you would recognize it as the giant stainless steel globe that was built for the 1964 World Fair. It was pretty impressive. The kids played at a little playground, we got Cade a hot dog, and then it was time to get back on the subway and then the train back to Elizabeth station.
We ordered Perkin’s for supper and Dad walked to pick it up in the pouring rain. Yes, it rained about 15 minutes after we got back to the hotel. Luckily Perkins was only at the end of the block. We ate in the room and then Derek and the kids went swimming again. I took Cade up to the room and Mom and I shared a piece of fudgy wudgy chocolate cake from the cafe. Another night of cards after the kids fell asleep.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We woke up to a rainy morning, but a wonderful breakfast. After breakfast Derek and Abby went swimming one last time in the warm salt water pool. I tried to gather all of our stuff and got ready to pack the car. We headed out the front door, regretting that of all the great things this hotel had to offer that an overhang in the front was not one of them. We pulled the van in as close as possible and packed up the car in the pouring rain. It reminded me how lucky we were the day before when walking all through the city of Boston that we had the most beautiful weather. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. No rain. A slight breeze. Perfect. Not so today. At least we didn’t have anything outdoors planned. We headed the car south and east and drove into Connecticut. Before the trip I was looking for things to do between Boston and NYC to help break up the drive. I didn’t come up with much and actually found some comments about how boring the drive was. It was pretty and somewhat scenic, but I didn’t come up with too much to do. I found a carousel museum in Bristol, CT and figured it would be about our best bet. It wasn’t too much out of the way and according to a site I found, there was a carousel in the park next door where the kids could have a ride for just $1. Well, we got off the interstate and drove through the little run down town and drove past the carousel museum looking for some lunch.
We found a McDonald’s and I was so happy to see it. Well, it was an old McDonald’s and not the best one I’ve ever been in, but hey…it is McDonald’s. Cade’s cheeseburger was wrapped in a cheeseburger wrapper, but didn’t have any cheese on it. Okay. Well, Abby ate a good lunch and was ready for some dessert. She decided on a hot fudge sundae. Oma (my mom) wanted one too. Dad went up to get Mom’s and I followed behind to get Abby’s. I almost lost my lunch. There was a man in there that smelled so bad that I gagged. Seriously no shower for weeks, maybe months and my guess is, no toilet paper either. To make matters worse, the ice cream machine was broken. Although, at that point, if it was for me I wouldn’t have been able to eat it anyway! Well, Abby wanted to eat ice cream. She cried. Oma was crying on the inside. So, we left. I promised Abby ice cream another time and found some little cookies in the car. Good enough.
We drove back to The New England Carousel Museum (NECM). It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Well, maybe it is what I expected, but not what I hoped for. Anyway, my first disappointment was that the park with the carousel was actually 25 minutes away. There went that idea. It was a good thing I didn’t tell Abby she was going to get to ride it. We looked around and one of the workers gave us a personal tour. I prefer to explore on my own, but that didn’t seem to be an option. The tour guide said she had a little carousel Abby and Cade could ride. We went to a back room and it was worse than a little ride outside of KMart. Abby wasn’t too sure and after she turned it on and it was louder than an 18 wheeler, Cade was sure…that he didn’t want to be anywhere near it. We moved on and went upstairs to see fire station museum. That was actually more interesting than the carousels. I will say that I learned 2 interesting bits of information. Now, this is according to the NECM worker, but I think she knew what she was talking about. First, carousels were meant for men. In the beginning all the men would ride and women and children had to watch. Strange. And second, the first ferris wheel was meant to be a carousel and he put it together differently so that they could stack together and take up less room. That one doesn’t sound quite right to me, but that is supposedly true. You can look it up if you want to be sure 🙂 Well, we were there about an hour or so and it was time to go.
We headed south again and drove past ESPN on our way out of town. I had no idea that Bristol was where ESPN started. As we got closer to NYC, I got a little nervous about the traffic. The signs and directions we had were okay and Dad helped me navigate. Miraculously we did not get lost and made it past NYC and to Elizabeth, New Jersey right by Newark Airport. We did miss the turn to the hotel, but drove right past it on the interstate. The roads around the hotel were not easy to navigate. We drove a little further, got turned around and somehow found the hotel. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Newark Airport. I was a little worried about this one. It was a great price at about $75 plus tax and usually that means not the best place. We walked into the lobby and I was pleasantly surprised. It was beautiful. We checked in and made our way up to our adjoining rooms on the top 11th floor. Wow. We lucked out. The hotel had a cafe, gift shop, indoor swimming pool (which turned out to be VERY cold), a fitness center (which we never used), and a computer lounge with free internet access. A lot of crew members from Continental Airlines stay there and other than that it was mostly business men. There weren’t many kids or tourists around. We ordered some supper from the cafe and ate in the room. After supper, Derek and the kids went swimming while Mom and I watched. It was cold, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. I had the best piece of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake from the cafe.After the kids went to sleep for the night, we played cards in Mom and Dad’s room. Adjoining rooms are the best 🙂

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The breakfast at the Element Hotel was amazing. Seriously. They had strawberry banana smoothies, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and wraps, cereal, croissants, danishes, yogurt, fresh and dried fruit, juice, and milk. We filled up and got ready for a long day of walking. We took off for the subway (MTA) station and got there by about 9:00. We took the subway into downtown Boston and got off right by Boston Common. After checking at a visitor center, we found the red line that would lead us all through the city’s past historic sites. We walked past quite a few sites and stopped at others. The Granary Burying Ground was one of our first stops. We saw the graves of Paul Revere, Mother Goose, Samuel Adams, members of Benjamin Frankin’s family, and John Hancock. We also saw the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, and Faneuil Hall. Outside Faneuil Hall, Abby saw a little boy with a balloon sword. She told me later that she wanted a little poker thing. Luckily I had seen the sword and wondered if Abby would ask about it. So we went back around to the front and got a pink sword for Abby, a blue one for Cade, and a yellow one for Derek. Really…that is what the man said. So, we hauled 3 balloon swords around Boston. We continued on to the Old North Church where the lanterns were hung. We sat in the pew boxes and then Abby and I went outside while the man finished his talk about the history of the church. That is when I knew I would never go on a Segway tour. We saw 2 women and a male tour guide riding them down a steep street right in front of the church. When one of the women got to the bottom of the hill and tried to turn, she turned too sharply and lost control of the Segway. She held onto the handle bars as the Segway spun around, bounced off the curb, and parts went flying. It was kind of wild. She regathered the pieces (reflectors, batteries, and other little plastic parts) and they were back on their way. The speech finished and we were on our way, through a local market (craziness) and then past Paul Revere’s house. We continued across the Charles River and looked for a place to eat lunch. It was about 1:00 and we hadn’t eaten yet. We found a little place by the USS Constitution. I had fish and chips and it was good. After we all ate out on the patio, we went on a boat called the USS Cassin Young. Abby said that she was the pirate on the ship. Then we marched up a hill to Bunker Hill. Derek climbed up in the steep monument while Mom, Dad, the kids, and I had a snack in the shade. After some map searching, asking for help, and asking for help again, we figured out how to get back to a convenient subway stop. We took a city bus back to Boston Common and got back on the same subway that we came in on. We got back to the hotel and ate leftovers for supper. Abby and Derek went swimming and then we played some Wii in the lobby. Boston is an amazing city and we had such a great day!
The slideshow has the pics from Boston. I haven’t figured out how to put the slideshow in the post and there were so many pictures that I thought that would be easier.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy birthday Dave!
The included breakfast was okay. We had danish, fruit, cereal, muffins, and juice. After breakfast we got our things packed up and headed out at about 9:40. The National Basketball Hall of Fame opened at 10 and it was only a short drive away. I had visited there with my family when I was in 2nd grade, but it is in a different building now and it was very nice. We got there shortly after 10 and began touring. The third floor, where we started, was a little boring for the kids and Mom and I had to keep moving. The second floor had a little more for them to see, like uniforms and some places to play around (like pop-a-shot). Abby was very impressed with the old uniform that looked like a onesie. The first floor was a full court basketball court with other baskets lined up along the side. One of them was a peach basket with no backboard and then wooden backboard, and so on as they improved over the years. The kids had fun running around, shooting, and throwing the balls. After the Hall of Fame, we stopped in the gift shop for some souvenirs and then got some Subway and took it outside and ate on a bench. We then headed north to the Yankee Candle Store. Although I am not very interested in candles, we decided to go because of a brochure we had picked up. We got there about an hour later and the store was pretty neat. We walked through the Black Forest and got “snowed” on. Then we went to Santa’s workshop and saw Santa. We also saw where they make candles and lots and lots of Christmas decorations and candy. After the Yankee Candle Store, we drove east toward Boston. We stopped for directions once and then found our hotel…our VERY nice hotel in Lexington, MA, just outside of Boston. The Element by Wyndham was wonderful. We had a kitchen in our room, a very large bathroom with glass shower, big screen tv that could turn to see it anywhere in the room, a couch, desk with free internet, and 2 beds. The hotel itself had an indoor warm salt water pool, Wii in the lobby, and it was just a comfortable feel. Derek, Dad, and the kids went swimming while Mom and I cooked supper. I had brought some food along since we knew we had the kitchen. We had pasta, green beans, pears, mandarin oranges, and jello later on. After the kids went to sleep, Derek did some work on the computer and I went over to Mom and Dad’s to play some cards.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We woke up, ate our included breakfast (waffles, muffins, cereal, fruit, juice, and milk), and took off for another long day of driving. We pulled out shortly after 8:00 and were on our way through part of PA, and into NY. McDonald’s at a travel center made for a much better lunch than the day before. Then we continued through NY and into MA. We pulled into the Days Inn West Springfield before 4pm. We checked the outdoor pool, but it was still very COLD. Instead, we roamed around the inside of the hotel to let the kids stretch and annoyed the front desk clerk. We decided to order Dominos for supper and had them deliver. It was nice to not have to get back in the car again. The best thing about this hotel was that we had adjoining rooms. After the kids fell asleep, we went into Mom and Dad’s room and played cards. I can’t remember who won each night, but I am sure that Mom and I came out ahead over the entire trip. If the guys think differently, they will have to have their own blog to claim otherwise 🙂