Monday, July 14, 2008

Our Northeastern Vacation, Part 2

When last we left our intrepid travelers, they were headed for St. John, NB in the rain. Also the fog. It's an old city and has managed to burn down twice (I think) but some of the older stuff still around is very pretty.

After our dubious accommodations in Calais, it was nothing short of a relief to find a Country Inn and Suites. Comfy beds for everyone, separate rooms for sleeping, cleanliness, actual lighting. Not to mention free movie rental, which was a great way to soothe everyone's jangled nerves for each of the two evenings we were there.

Our day in St. John was spent at the big tourist trap downtown. We checked out the New Brunswick museum. It had some interesting displays and I learned a lot about the region. Elise's great joy was the big gallery devoted to stuff for kids to do. She was in need of some free-range playing after so much time spent (uncomplaining, I should add) in the car.

After the museum, we did a little souvenir shopping, and I found my favorite stuff of the trip. Necklaces with beads made of clay from the Bay of Fundy-cool! It was a little sad to see this gigantic market center and mall that seemed to be entirely supported by cruise ship traffic. Had the weather been even a little better we'd have happily skipped all of that entirely in favor of the great outdoors. As it was, well, we got to be tourists.

The next day, we traveled hard and made it to Portland, Maine. The weather was fantastic down there, and we really liked Portland. It's a city with a working waterfront, which means it isn't entirely dressed up to cater to tourists. Between the fishing boats, tug boats, ferries and oil tankers, this was an amazing place to just be. I've been a landlubber my whole life, but this place excited me and made me wish I could be on the ocean more. I think I'd like to learn to sail.

At any rate, Portland was great also because it has local "stuff" to see and do and eat. As we settle in to life in CA, it's easy to forget that the rest of the world is not blighted with chain stores and restaurants. For dinner, we headed to a place called Silly's. I loved Silly's. Elise liked the way they served her hot dog. This place is an actual incarnation of the restaurant I always used to imagine called the Surreal Meal. The decor was fantastic, the food was dynamite. I highly recommend eating at Silly's. Afterward, we headed for a park on the Eastern Promenade and Elise got to run and play until the rain started coming down a bit too hard.

After a night at the "Quality" Inn and Suites, (kinda scary, really, and no confidence here that the new management will turn things around much anytime soon,) we headed out on a short sailing cruise on Casco Bay. This wasn't exactly Elise's cup of tea and Andy was pretty green by the end, but I had a good time and the views were lovely. I could really get to like spending time on sailboats.

Unfortunately, after a tasty lunch right by the water we had to head out. The drive to Boston was long-ish and we were pretty well worn out by the time we hit our hotel. Luckily, we'd made a stop at Christina's in Sommerville to fortify ourselves for the home stretch. Fantastically good ice cream. Then, it was room service at the fancy hotel, and early bedtime for the girls. Andy finally got a few well-deserved minutes to himself down in the hotel bar, and we all woke up refreshed and ready to get home.

We took the long way to the airport, but not by choice. Having a GPS unit was a great confidence builder, until we were in cities. Then, it was just not fast enough with its calculations. This was especially true in Boston, so we had fantastic amounts of trouble navigating one particular interchange. Twice. My feeling is that the GPS was more of a distraction than a help, but really it would be nice if the people of Boston would work on their signage.

Turning in the rental car was easy, getting on the plane was easy, playing with Elise and just generally enjoying her company for the nearly 6 hours to LA was easy. Things got a little squirrely waiting for our flight to San Jose, but all in all we made it home pretty well.

It was a fantastic vacation. There was so much of it that I know I'm forgetting details and I wish I'd been able to write things down earlier. We had a great time. This sort of 10 day extravaganza is probably not in our budget to do again any time soon, but now that we know how much fun it is to travel with a big kid I think we'll be more motivated to explore things right here in California.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip. Do you have photos to share?

SWE said...

It was. :) I do have photos, but have been too lazy/distracted to get them put on my computer and organized enough to put online. We'll get 'em up soon, though!