Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 2015

Well, once again another month has blown by! We're wrapping up October 2015 so let's get started!


October was a month of weekend trips for me - three out of five to be exact. I flew to Boston to visit my daughter and we went up to New Hampshire's White Mountains, which I wrote about on the blog here. I also flew on Allegiant Airlines to visit my in-laws in Florida. And spent a fun weekend in Elkin, North Carolina with friends in a log cabin visiting wineries and Stone Mountain State Park. Lots of fun - but now I am enjoying some down time at home.


Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of my favorite food for the month. My daughter and I ate at The Common Man restaurant in Concord, New Hampshire and I really enjoyed my meal. They have a cheese, crackers and dip bar to start instead of a salad bar. Then each meal comes with steamed veggies and to finish you get white chocolate squares. And the restaurant looks like an old New England style house. Since I don't have any photos of that meal, here is a fill-in of Mr. UR's pulled pork tacos from The Blind Tiger in Charleston, South Carolina. It'll just have to do!


I read alot of magazines and blog posts this month but only finished two real books - In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume and Country Chronicle by Gladys Taber. I loved Judy Blume's book and I highly recommend it. It took her years to write it and it's based on a true story that she experienced as a teenager in the 1950's. Gladys Taber was primarily a nature writer who wrote non-fiction stories about her farm in New England and her house on Cape Cod. She has a very calm and simple style which I have always liked.

So there you have it - October! Hope you had a great month and are ready for November!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Road to Hana

"Well, there's the Hana Ranch restaurant and the hospital cafeteria. Um...that's about it." Our condo in Hana on the island of Maui wasn't ready yet so I asked the front desk employee where we could grab some lunch until we checked in. And this was her answer. So you know that Hana is a small town. Really small. It has the highest percentage of native Hawaiians living here than any other town in the Hawaiian islands.And reaching it is the stuff legends are made of.

The Hana Highway is a 52 mile road that encompasses Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 in the northern portion of the island of Maui. It has 46 one lane bridges and approximately 620 curves - though I didn't count. It's a badge of honor for tourists who come to the islands to say "I survived the Road to Hana" and you can even buy the t-shirt. Most people drive it making a few stops and then turn around and go back the same day. But we didn't. Come along as we drive the Road to Hana.

We drove the Hana Highway on New Years Day. Good decision. It was the only time I've driven it but from what I hear it can get quite congested - especially with all those one lane bridges. We were practically the only car on the road all day until we got to Hana. It was leisurely, and beautiful, and we had lots of time to pull off and stop to see what we wanted to see. Including the famous rainbow eucalyptus trees of Maui.

If you consider the road starting at Paia Town, the first stop is at Ho'okipa Lookout, at Mile Marker  9,  which is famous for being one of the best surfing spots in Maui. Some of the best waves are in the winter and you can sit on the beach watching surfers here.

Our first stop was at Mile Marker 12 at Kaumahina State Park. It's a beautiful wayside park with awesome views of the Hana Coast. Also, it helpfully offers bathrooms.

We next stopped at the Wailua Valley State Wayside. The people here grow taro, bananas and yams  and you can look down at all the farming fields. Great views. And a great place to have a picnic though there is not room for many cars here.

At Miler Marker 32 is a black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park. There is a loop trail to take you down to some sea caves and you are allowed to camp here with a permit that must be obtained in advance.

One of the highlights of the Road to Hana is Kipahulu in Haleakala National Park. This portion of the park includes Oheo Gulch, or the Seven Sacred Pools You must pay a National Park fee to enter. The day we were there was very rough surf so there was no swimming allowed. We walked down to the ocean for the gorgeous, windswept views. Don't miss this spot - at Mile Marker 42 - if you drive the Hana Highway.

I would be remiss if I didn't let you know about the snack stands all along the road. Since we were there on New Years Day there weren't many open - I think I only saw one. But there are stands selling fresh fruit, banana bread, smoothies and shave ice. Bring your appetite and support the locals plus quench your thirst and hunger. And beware - there are no restaurants or gas stations!

We made it to Hana Town and went to the Hana Kai Condominiums where we had booked our condo for the night. If you decide to spend the night in Hana, book your lodging as soon as you know you are staying as lodging is extremely limited. While we were waiting on our condo to be ready, we chose the Hana Ranch restaurant for lunch on their outside patio.

The greenery of Hana and the cross dedicated to Paul Fagan, the man who established cattle ranching in Hana and started the only hotel here, which is now Travaasa Hana.

After eating, we decided to try to find Charles Lindbergh's grave. The first man to fly across the Atlantic had so much fame and notoreity in his life that he retired to Hana to live in solitude. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he lived out his final days here and is buried at Palapala Ho'omao Church. You can go visit his grave but it isn't easy to find. Located at Miler Marker 41, look for the stables to turn in to see it.

Our condo at Hana Kai was a studio with a full kitchen. There was a balcony with a slight view of the ocean - and a black sand beach right behind the condo complex. It was perfect for what we needed and I'm really glad that we chose to stay the night. We cooked dinner in - and enjoyed our balcony for the evening.

Our drive back the next day was uneventful but still as beautiful. I'm really glad that we survived the Road to Hana. I'm not sure I feel the need to do it again - but if the opportunity arose, I just might. Besides, I didn't buy the t-shirt and I maybe I need to buy one!

There is a Road to Hana CD that you can purchase to give you all the highlights along with maps you can download or purchase. We were fortunate that our friends gave us the CD to use. It was interesting and helpful giving you info about each mile marker. I highly recommend having some sort of guide for the road.

I'm linking up with Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes & Beyond, Friday Postcards at Walking On Travels, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute  and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

5 Things To Do in New Hampshire's White Mountains

I recently spent a perfect fall day in New Hampshire's White Mountains. The White Mountains are a mountain range covering the northern quarter of the state of New Hampshire. Known for their alpine hut system for hikers, we didn't take advantage of them as we only had one day. But we did find five really fun activities to do in one day!

1. Cannon Mountain Tramway

Cannon Mountain is a ski resort located inside Franconia Notch State Park. The first aerial tramway operated at this resort in 1938 - in fact, you can see one of the original trams at the adjacent New England ski museum along with Bodie Miller's gold medals. When not in use for ski season, the tram can transport up to 80 people to the top of Cannon Mountain in 8 minutes for incredible views. Once at the top, there is a snack bar/cafeteria with an outdoor deck to enjoy and an observation deck, which we climbed. (Sadly, we just missed a proposal at the top!) I loved this ski resort and riding the tram. It's not glitzy but just rustic New England ski resort that looks as if it hasn't been updated in years. The kind of resort where you can bring your own lunch and buy an economical season pass because you love skiing. And those views - well, they were pretty incredible!

2. The Flume Gorge

Before visiting here, I wasn't even sure what a flume was. Basically, this is a waterfall descending through an 800 foot gorge. So .....a flume gorge. Also located within Franconia Notch State park, you start your visit at the Visitors Center. After purchasing your ticket you have a choice of two ways of getting to the gorge - just visiting the gorge (and being dropped off by a shuttle bus) or doing the entire 2 mile loop starting and ending at the visitors center. Either way includes walking and lots of stairs - not stroller or wheelchair friendly. When the flume gorge was first discovered there was an egg shaped rock between the two walls of the gorge but it was washed away in a storm in 1883.

3.Stay at Indian Head Resort and visit the Betty & Barney Hill Incident Site

Indian Head Resort is located in Lincoln, New Hampshire and is a resort with a view of the Indian Head mountain. Located on Shadow lake, the resort has a hotel, cottages and house rentals. There are two restaurants, a gift shop, canoeing on the lake, ice skating in winter and an outdoor pool and hot tub. When we were there, there was a large coach dropping off guests and several people biking through the parking lot. This resort is definitely old school - the roadside cottages are reminiscent of motor lodges from the 30's, 40's and 50's when Americans were road tripping on Route 66. In front of the resort is the historical marker for the Betty & Barney Hill Incident Site.  Betty and Barney Hill were an American couple who were allegedly abducted by aliens at this site in 1961. It was the first widely publicized UFO incident and it became a best-selling book and movie. Currently, there is another movie in the works. Who knew?! I didn't!

4. Drive the Kancamagus Highway

One of the most famous and iconic leaf peeping highways in New England, the Kancamagus Highway is only 34.5 miles in length. There are no gas stations, no stores, no restaurants and no other retail establishments on the Kanc, as it is known, but there are plenty located in the towns of Lincoln and Conway at either end. There are pull-offs and restrooms along the way. Expect crowds and traffic, especially on the weekends. It is a beautiful drive - and we drove it about a week before fall foliage peak.

5. Eat at The Common Man

The Common Man is a restaurant chain in New Hampshire. Started in 1971, there are now six Common Mans along with several other variations of the chain. We ate at the one in Concord, New Hampshire which looks like an old New England style house. There was an hour wait so we opted to sit in the bar area. One of the unique things about Common Man is that they have a cheese, dip and crackers bar instead of a salad bar. Another thing they do is serve sauteed veggies with every meal. And last but not least, they serve white chocolate squares after every meal.  Just a little something different, and refreshing. (We had the lobster mac n cheese) Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos as it was dark the whole time we were there. Visit their website here

So there you have it! Five things to do in New Hampshire's White Mountains. And I know there are millions more but that's what my daughter and I accomplished in one day. Just think if you had more time?!

I'm linking up: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Friday Postcards at Walking On Travels, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner. Go check them out!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Grand Lake, Colorado

I love being by the water. And if you can add some mountains to the water then I am a pretty happy camper. On our way to Rocky Mountain National Park, in search of some golden aspen trees, we stopped at Grand Lake, Colorado. And I'm so glad we did!

Grand Lake is the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. We had been through it before on our way to the park. But the key word is through. This time we had brought a picnic lunch and had time to stop. The weather was picture postcard perfect - 70's and sunny with a slight little chill in the air. We searched for a city park and found one of the best ever little parks - with incredible views.

Point Park is managed by the town of Grand Lake and owned by the US Forest Service. You drive through a residential area to get there, and it has covered picnic areas, a boardwalk to view the lake and fishing is allowed. There must be many weddings held here - can you see why? - because there was a notice for the following weekend of at least 4 weddings on Saturday and Sunday.

The view from the boardwalk where the weddings are held!

Mr. UR says that water is cold!

After our quiet and picturesque picnic lunch, we went in search of Grand Lake Lodge. Our son and his girlfriend had stopped by the lodge and recommended we stop to see it too. 

Quoting their website: "Grand Lake Lodge is a classic Colorado Summer Mountain Lodge offering a variety of rustic cabins located in the pines behind the main lodge...Surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park, and perched on a hillside above Grand Lake Village, Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir. It's a view you will never forget from our front porch swings!" I couldn't have said it better myself!

I highly suggest a stop here, if not for a stay at least for a meal! View their website here

As for those golden aspens? Well, I found them - right outside the entrance to the lodge!

To read about our day in Rocky Mountain National Park, head here

I'm linking up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner and Friday Postcards at Walking On Travel.