Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Mystery Trip

When I was in travel school my instructor told me that I was too "ambitious" at times when planning trips. It's true. I want to see and do everything when I'm traveling. I sometimes plan trips that are logistically impossible. When my daughter graduated from college one year ago, she was planning on moving home for the summer and moving out in the fall ( which is what she did.) We would be packing up her dorm room and driving her and all her stuff the 12 hours to our house. So, I thought, what a great opportunity for a road trip. I kept planning different itineraries and calling her with the details. She finally said "It's all good mom - plan whatever you want" Which is code for "I'm trying to take exams and finish up college, just quit bugging me" And the Mystery Trip was born.

I planned a road trip itinerary and we told our 2 daughters what they should pack. We told them where the next days stop would be on the night before. And I only gave away the surprise one time!

Our first stop was New York City. We at hotdogs from a street vendor, spent an afternoon at the Natural History Museum and took a walk through Central Park. That evening our daughter went to see a Broadway show (her other present) while we went to dinner with friends.

Our next day was a drive to my mother-in-laws former house on Long Island and then a stop in the Hamptons ,which were never on my radar before. I think this was one of my favorite stops of the trip - beautiful beaches and adorable little towns.

A ferry ride from the North Fork of Long Island to New London, CT completed our second day.

Our third day found us in Newport, Rhode Island touring the "cottages" of the Vanderbilts , walking the Cliff Walk and wandering the quaint downtown.

And then on to Beantown - a boat tour of the harbor, which was also a favorite, some necessary ice cream ( salted caramel pretzel for me) and a game at Fenway that night.

And the last stop on the Mystery Trip was a trip to the Cape - my first. We drove the whole Cape  - visiting a lighthouse, a few little towns and ended the trip with a lunch in Provincetown.

You might ask which day I gave away the surprise about - Cape Cod, because I was so excited to go there and of course, because it was the last day. I almost made it.

I'm linking up once again for Friday Postcards at Go check out the photos of the dolphins at the Florida Keys resort, Hawks Cay

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where the Buffalo Roam

It wasn't on the itinerary but Custer State Park in South Dakota was definitely a worthwhile stop. We were driving through the Black Hills (which were beautiful) and headed to Mt Rushmore. There were 2 different routes we could take so when we stopped for gas Mr UR asked at a little visitors center which was the better choice. The woman working there said to go through Custer State Park. So we did.

It cost $15 per carload and the ranger gave us a map showing where wildlife could be found. Our first view was a herd of buffalo.

Next we saw an entire city of prairie dogs. They were so fun to watch  - popping in and out of the ground.

We saw pronghorn antelope

We even saw a coyote

And then we ran into these guys looking to be fed. But we didn't have anything for them to eat

The most amazing part of our time in Custer State Park was seeing this guy walking up the road

He was loudly snorting and slobbering and passed right next to our car almost touching it...

We ended our drive in a traffic jam waiting on the herd of buffalo to cross the road while this large buffalo stood in the middle of the road acting as a crossing guard while a storm approached

Even though we only spent a few hours in the park, we saw more wildlife here than we did in 2 full days in Yellowstone National Park. Some of the best money we spent on our trip!

Every year Custer State Park does a Buffalo Round-up in September, driving the herd of 1300 bison which are one of the largest publically owned herds in the world. You can find out about that here

Thursday, May 15, 2014


When the alarm went off at 3:30 am, I really didn't want to get out of bed. Not only was it the middle of the night, but I was also on vacation. But Mr. UR and I had planned to drive to the top of Haleakala, the dormant volacano that makes up75 percent of the island of Maui,  to watch the sunrise at the beginning of our trip to Maui while we were still on Mainland time.

We headed to the road to Haleakala in our rental car and started the climb. To my surprise there was a man running a concession stand with bagels and coffee on the way up. We stopped to chat with him - his family owns the land his stand was on- and grab some coffee ( By the way, a perfect job for a night owl - he worked until dawn and then headed home)

I'm not keen on heights so I'm glad that it was pitch black out on our climb. When we got close to the top there was a sign saying that the parking lot at the tippy top was full. Luckily there was a 2nd parking lot one level down.

I had put on several layers of clothing and boy was I glad I did. The temperature at the top was in the 30's and the wind was killer..

There was a viewing area with a plexiglass shield that we huddled behind - and we did alot of jumping up and down to keep warm.

But the sunrise was beautiful....and the views of the rest of the island were great. I think the middle of the night alarm was worth it.

I didn't expect the landscape to look so desert like. It looked what I picture the surface of the moon to look like.

We made a short stop at the Visitor Center and passed the Observatory.

And then it was off to a delicious breakfast at The Kula Lodge located at the bottom of the volcano! If you get an opportunity to see the sunrise at Haleakala, or just visit Haleakala, I would definitely go. And Kula Lodge is also a worth a stop - try the french toast.

I'm linking up with Go view some beautiful photos of the Ballard Farmers Market in Washington

Friday, May 9, 2014

Boston Public Gardens

Robert McCloskey's books have always been some of my favorites so when I had the chance to visit Boston Public Gardens and see the Make Way for Ducklings statues, I was excited. I spent a beautiful spring afternoon strolling the gardens, watching the Swan Boats go by and people watching. I haven't been to alot of city parks, but Boston's Public Gardens is one of the most beautiful I have ever been to.

I'm linking up with so head on over and check out Friday Postcards