Friday, August 12, 2016

Final Post: New England, 2016

This will be my final post from our New England, 2016 trip. I started emotional, and I'm ending emotional ... I'm sorry, I'm pre-menopausal. We have one more (official) trip remaining of Driving the Dream. Next summer we plan to take a cruise through Alaska, which will be state #50. I can hardly believe this dream, which feels like it started so many years ago, will be coming to an end in 2017.

We are sitting in the Detroit airport, waiting for our flight back to Minneapolis. 

I think they coordinated hair and shirt colors today.

Yep, a selfie smile from both of them (although Anna´s is a bit sarcastic)

I think she is actually reading this ...

In their Happy Place
Although I didn't track stats like usual (and I´m going to apologize one more time for those I received messages from), here are a few:
  • States: Six (6)
  • Fights: 0
  • Injuries: 0
  • Views on this blog: 12,609 since last trip
  • Knitting Projects: None. Bottomline: I didn't knit.

I can´t thank all of you enough for following me. I'm not sure how this blog has received nearly 31,000 views, but someone must be reading it, and I am grateful. 

I am also grateful for my traveling team. I started this dream to share my love of travel with my girls, and they have given me more than I could ever give them. They keep me young. They keep me alive. So get out there and explore this great nation of ours my friends, and live by the words of Ben & Jerry ... "If it's not fun, why do it?"

~ Rae Ann (

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day Eleven: Acadia, Bangor & Our Friend Ruby

We checked out of The Farmhouse at 10:00. I knew I would, and forgot to take photos. Ugh. But click here for the VRBO link. It was awesome.

We drove to Acadia, bought our pins, and hopped on the Island Explorer. I love the idea of a free bus that you hop on and off throughout the park. Why doesn't Yellowstone do that? I know, money ...

Sand Beach, Acadia

Thunder Hole, Acadia
We rode the majority of the loop, but got off at Sand Beach and hiked to Thunder Hole. It was beautiful. We stopped at Jordan Pond next for their famous popovers. Let me say, yummy. 

Popover, Jordan Pond
After Acadia, we drove to Bangor about an hour north where we will fly out tomorrow. We checked into our hotel and ate at Ruby Tuesdays. Ruby is a familiar friend, and it was nice to spend our last night with some familiarity. 

We do this pose at the end of most trips, but it was just weird. And awkward. And we will not be doing it again ... but we laughed a lot trying to make it feel right. 

One last thing ... Annelies bought this ring when we were in Salem. It has something to do with Satan, or Witches, or ... oh I have no idea. But she has wore it every day. At some point in every day she has asked Paradis and I "Who turned my ring upside down?"  At first we just ignored her, but she seriously thinks someone is taking her ring off and turning it upside down. During the middle of the day, while she is awake. Paradis and I are going to pee our pants the next time she asks. She is so superstitious, and we are not. 

The mysterious moving ring ...
Tomorrow we fly out at 6:00am, so it will be an early morning. We picked up Dunkin' Donuts in advance. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Day Ten: A Birthday, the Beach, Ice Cream & a Nap

Today I turned 49, while sleeping in state #49. And it was a good sleep, as I slept in until 9:49! Next week is going to be a huge awakening when I have to return to work.

I'm not a big birthday person, and I just ask that my girls acknowledge the day. Paradis always does so much more. (Annelies slept the day away. Paradis and I have determined her vacation limit is one week.) We went into Southwest Harbor and had breakfast at the local bread store. I wish I could have bought every loaf of bread inside, and ate it. 

Birthday Breakfast
Afterwards, we packed a lunch and drove to Bar Harbor's Frenchman's Bay. On the way we stopped for some photos. It is really beautiful here. It reminds me of northern Minnesota, with a much bigger lake.  

My goal was to collect enough sea glass for my collection jars. It was sprinkling a bit and the temperature had fallen. But Paradis hunkered down and searched. 

Sea Glass Searching
My Happy Place
The beach is my happy place. Did I mention that yet? 

Forty-nine feels great!
We ate our lunch, and stopped for ice cream in Bar Harbor. I'm normally not an ice cream person, but something has happened on this trip to change that, and I'm going to have to starve the next two months in order to fit back into my wardrobe when I return!! 

We returned to The Farmhouse, and the girls gave me a card. Made from two index cards, and duct tape I had to close my hairspray in my luggage. Paradis said, "We didn't dare use more than two cards, and went as light as we could on the tape." It was sweet. (I love index cards)

Birthday Card
I took a nap. I think it was almost two hours. It felt great. 

I packed a bit (as we leave here tomorrow), did some laundry (because I like to return with clean clothes), and watched a movie. Probably my first movie in about a year. No lie. 

It was a great day. Relaxing. I did things I enjoyed. The girls were with me, and also nice to me. Forty-nine feels great!

p.s. I'll get pictures of The Farmhouse tomorrow when we leave, so it is empty. But here is one of the tree swing ...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day Nine: Breakfast, Kayaking, & Southwest Harbor

We had to be in Bar Harbor at 9:00, and you should already know that is early for us. And we like breakfast. Simply by luck we stopped in the Coffee Cup Diner in Bar Harbor and struck it big time! Excellent breakfast in under 20 minutes! If you are in Bar Harbor, don't miss it.

Coffee Cup Diner, Bar Harbor
Next we arrived at Acadia Park Kayak Tours. Tip: The parking rules are not enforced in Bar Harbor. We parked in a three-hour spot for nearly 8 hours without a ticket. I was starting to panic that I wouldn't be able to have my camera or phone while kayaking, so I was trying to get the girls to grab a few shots in the parking lot ... they were less than thrilled. 

She looks like she has energy, doesn't she? Don't be fooled.
I really need to get this dual-glasses thing figured out ...
We drove just a couple minutes down the road to Frenchman's Bay. After a brief overview of kayaking that included things like "consider the law of physics before leaning over the edge to explore the ocean bottom with your paddling partner", and "nine times out of ten if you tip, your body will just fall right out of the hole" we were ready. Since we were a party of three and would be kayaking in tandems, one of us needed to find a partner. Oh how I wished the rule wasn't "anyone under 16 must paddle with an adult in their party", because I knew that meant I would get "my-biggest-form-of-exercise-is-changing-an-episode-on-Netflix-Annelies". Paradis ended up with a cute boy from North Carolina. 

Above we are mid-way through the kayaking experience, taking a break on one of the Porcupine Islands. Annelies opted to be in the back and steer when we started. Let's just say she wasn't talking to me while we took our break because we both figured out she can't do two things at once. Therefore she never paddled. 

After a 20 minute break we set back to where we started. This is the best photo I could get of Paradis because her and "Mr. Cute Boy Who Also Helped Paddle" kicked our butts. Well, everyone kicked our butts. I steered on the way back, and quickly realized it wasn't Annelies' inability to do two things at once that slowed us down, it was merely the fact she doesn't like any form of excercise. 

Paradis and Mr. Cute Boy
Here is Annelies. To try and gain some rhythm, we counted out 400 strokes in unison on the way back. This photo was apparently taken when she was doing one of them. In an effort to motivate her I sang "America the Beautiful" as I told her to visualize we were Columbus seeing land for the first time. She didn't find that amusing. 

One of her 400 strokes on the trip
Overall the trip was a lot of fun, and I suspect I'll be milking that story for years to come with her children. The scenery was spectacular, and I have to say the family we met from New Jersey said this was the hardest kayaking they had ever done in their lives.

Regardless, I grabbed a beer with lunch immediately following. 

Post Kayaking Beer
After filling our stomachs, we walked through the shops in Bar Harbor which included another ice cream stop. We drove back to Southwest Harbor (takes about 20 minutes), I dropped off the girls because they were done for the day, and I drove into town. 

I drove to the harbor to check out the boats, and walked through the shops. Southwest Harbor is called "The Quiet Side of Acadia" and I would agree. It is beautiful, but much smaller and quieter than Bar Harbor. Nice to know if you like things quiet.

Southwest Harbor
Southwest Harbor
It was another fantastic day. Tomorrow is August 10th. It is a big day in my life, but I'll let you guess what that is (and of course I'll remind you tomorrow if you forget to text me).

p.s. Dang ... I forgot to get photos of our farmhouse. I'll do that tomorrow. Hopefully. I am on vacation after all. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Day Eight: Yarn, Red's Eats, & Southwest Harbor

We slept in. Again. We love to sleep. No apologizing.

We left Portland and drove along Rt 1 toward Southwest Harbor. Our first stop was at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, where I spent way too much money on yarn to weave placemats. Paradis forced me. ;)

Halcyon Yarn
We peaked at the Bath Iron Works where they build ships. We couldn't go in but saw some being built, and it was cool. 

Our next stop was in Wiscassets, for Red's Eats. The Lundborgs told me they had the best lobster rolls in the world, and the hour long wait in line tells me that is true. Or they just have excellent marketing. A young man came by every 15 minutes or so and brought us umbrellas for shade, water and popsicles!! Anna started like this ...

At the beginning ...

And ended like this after Paradis and I forced her to smile ...

After popsicles ...

After being in line for one hour, one tends to order WAY too much food!! Another brilliant marketing technique. 

Red's Eats Lobster Roll

Paradis said the lobster roll was good. I took one bite; I won't be taking another (I'm sorry, the whole seafood thing creeps me out). 

Those three stops took us five hours!!!! So we decided to just plow through to Southwest Harbor since we still had 2 1/2 hours to go. My friend Siri took us on what seemed like back roads, but what turned out to be a gorgeous drive. 

I admit I was getting a little crabby after being on the road all day (this driving thing and me don't get along), and I may have mentioned to Paradis, who was riding shotgun, that she wasn't entertaining me enough. So she stomped her way to the back, and Anna came up front and entertained me with some Snapchat fun. 

Snapchat fun

We arrived at our Little Farmhouse in Southwest Harbor, that I rented via VRBO, and simply unpacked and hunkered down to our respective personal devices. Our Farmhouse is so cute. I'll post some photos tomorrow. 

Day Seven: Dunkin' Donuts, Peaks Island, and a Night Out

The weather here seems almost perfect. The sun is out, but not too hot, and the humidity is tolerable. Annelies opted for a day in the hotel because "being on an island freaks her out" (don't ask me how she survived Hawaii), so Paradis and I packed up our beach bags and drove to Casco Bay Lines to catch a ferry to Peaks Island.

On our way to the port, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts. I have seen a couple of what we now term "double D's" in Minnesota, but I have never been to one. There is a Dunkin' Donuts every 100 feet in New England (they are based in Massachusetts near Boston). It is crazy. We now wish we would have counted the number we saw along our journey, but that would have been impossible.

Our virgin voyage to Double-D's
We arrived at the port ten minutes before departure, just in time to grab tickets and hop in line. It is a bit busy in Portland. We just made the cut off to get on the boat. They only leave every hour, and I shed a tear for the family that was right behind the cut off line.

Peaks Island
We asked a local where we could find a nice patch of sand to sink our butts into, and walked a nice leisurely pace to Sandy's Beach. It was a secluded beach that I determined was inhabited by mainly locals, while ease-dropping on a couple conversations. Yes, I ease-drop.

Paradis and I plugged in our headsets, laid back, and simply enjoyed the sun. Note: I just downloaded a new podcast, Dear Sugar. It is hosted by Cheryl Strayed (Into the Wild) and Steve Almond. It is funny, and simple, and they swear. Yes, I swear.

The beach is my happy place. Every day I make financial decisions in my life to ensure that I can travel in my 'later years'. I will live on a beach someday. I'm confident of that. If I don't make it, my funeral directions (and yes, I have them all written out in a Google doc), state to spread my ashes on a beach. So I will definitely be on a beach in my later years.

My beach view
We had lunch at The Peaks Island House Restaurant. Paradis had her first lobster roll. I took a bite. Seafood freaks me out (in the brain), so I can't say I will be opting to pay $25 for a bunch of butter-soaked-lobster slapped on a hot dog bun, but I'm glad I gave it a try. And Paradis may be doing it again.

I opted for ice tea instead of a G&T
After lunch we did some shopping on the island, and took the ferry back to the main land. It was a great little day trip. I took a nap, jumped in the shower, and drove to Falmouth just a few minutes from Portland. Linda and Bill Lundborg live in Falmouth, and I knew them when we lived in Linden Hills (Minneapolis). They own a beautiful home, and it was fun to catch up. If you ever need any graphic design or copy writing please check them out, as they are super talented:

Great night with Bill & Linda Lundborg
Getting away for the night, while the girls swam in the hotel pool and walked to get dinner, was a great diversion. I enjoyed the adult conversation and a couple glasses of wine with Bill and Linda. And as I was drifting off to sleep I heard Paradis say, "It was a fun night Anna."

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Day Six: Diane's Bath, the Beach & Olympics

After waking at 3:00am, during which I wrote my last post, I slept in. In fact housekeeping was knocking on our door at check-out. We drove to Diane's Baths, located in Conway. Annelies slept in the car while Paradis and I enjoyed a beautiful hike through a thick forest that reminded me of northern Minnesota. The weather couldn't have been more perfect.

Diane's Baths was a mellow (short) waterfall that was filled with people soaking in the shallow parts. I didn't get any photos because it was ... crowded. But it was beautiful.

Diane's Baths, Conway

Then we got back on the road and passed into state #49, Maine.

State #49, Maine
We stopped at a local farm, picked up veggies for a snack along the way, and continued to the shore (Portland). We drove to the beach for a quick walk, picked up some dinner, and went back to our hotel to watch the Olympics.

It was a simple day. I planned this trip to end on the shore so we could simply kick back and relax. I have a feeling we are going to be doing a little of that over the next week that remains.

Day Five: New Hampshire, Vermont, Ben & Jerry's and Being Grateful

Today started with a sad good-bye to our friend Mary. We laughed about the air mattress fail that left the girls sleeping on the floor in the middle of the night, drank some tea, packed up our suitcases, and said our good-byes.
Mattress Fail 2016
And then we hit the road. All. Day. Long. Since I'm not tracking statistics I can't say how many miles, but a quick Google Map calculation tells me about 350. Due to the mountainous terrain, and small female bladders, I have to say it equated to a full day of riding in the car, with a large ice cream stop in the middle.

We drove into state #47, New Hampshire, around early afternoon.

State #47, New Hampshire
We walked a bit down crazy interstate 89, and caught the Massachusetts sign we had missed earlier ... state #46.

State #46, Massachusetts
Although the day consisted of lots of driving, and I fully admit I complained about the damn rule that doesn't allow my 17 year old to drive a rental car, the day was lovely. Annelies rode shot-gun, and the whole day we spent singing, discussing our favorite songs, talking about life, telling stories about our pasts, sharing our dreams, talking about our futures, and simply enjoying one another. "Life" doesn't give me the opportunity to do that much, and as I write this post I can't help feeling grateful for the long drive.

As we made our way up north, we crossed into state #48, Vermont. The state sign along the highway didn't allow for a safe stop (ah, are any of these stops really safe?) so we made our way to the Welcome Center.

State #48, Vermont
The drive through Vermont was just stunning. The weather was perfect, and we all enjoyed the views of the mountains. Late afternoon we arrived in Stowe, VT for a little ice cream. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory Tour. Did you know that all employees get three (3) pints of FREE ice cream every day? They would have to wheel my fat body into work every day ...

My motto ... "If it's not fun, why do it?"
Ben & Jerry's yummy goodness
After eating (way too much) ice cream, we made our way east and crossed back into New Hampshire. The sun was just perfect, and the views were beautiful as we drove through White Mountains National Park. This area is filled with resorts used both during summer, and for skiing in the winter.

Mount Washington Hotel

We ended in Conway, NH around 9:00pm. It was late. I had drove all day (ate too much ice cream) and wanted to simply crawl into bed and scroll through the numbing pleasantness of Facebook (don't judge, please). But my travel team insisted on walking next door to Applebee's for a late dinner. After I ate my meal which consisted of more alcohol than substance, enjoyed our very pleasant waitress that knew I was a bit tired, and raced my girls back to our hotel parking lot, I was thankful they suggested we go out. I was asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

I'm pretty sure I won the race through the parking lot.
However, it is now 3:17am and I am sitting on the floor outside the bathroom, wrapped in a towel writing this post. Sometimes sleep doesn't come easily in the middle of the night, but I'm thankful today will end in Portland, Maine where I can take a nap on the beach.