Connecticut

20150704_214545smJoe’s sister, Jen, and her boyfriend, David, live in an adorable blue house just outside of Downtown New Haven, CT.  It had been too long since we’d gotten to hang with Aunt Jen for any real amount of time, so we were all really excited about spending the better part of a week with her and David!

Oh how he LOVED the moped!
Oh how he LOVED the moped!

David was kind enough to actually measure the curb length out front of their house to make sure we would fit.  We did!  Barely!  And it was our first experience camping on a neighborhood street.  I actually liked it!  It was kind of exciting and extremely convenient for getting to spend as much time as possible with Aunt Jen and hang in their cool basement as much as possible.

Our urban camping spot.
Our urban camping spot.

Jen and David graciously let me catch up on the endless loads of laundry I had been avoiding for weeks before arriving.  That kept me busy for days and gave me an excuse to regularly check on the kids. The kids were so in love with the idea of a basement that I could hardly get them out of it!  They were usually having a tea party, watching Netflix shows, or reading in a nook under the stairs lit with twinkle lights.  Loralai tried to sleepover in that adorable little nook that was just her size several nights, but alas sleeping with a whole floor level between her and any adults, along with her inability to fall asleep in under 2 hours time EVER, made this an impossible task. I had to come get her every time.

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Aunt Jen gave her a Kindle, and there was a lot of this going on this week.
Aunt Jen gave her a Kindle, and there was a lot of this going on this week.

We were there over July 4th and so we got to enjoy Jen and David’s annual 4th of July party!  Their house is set it seems directly under where the fireworks are lit on  East Rock every year.  It was such a great location that the streets around their house were blocked off for the event!  I kept chatting with the police officer that was standing at the road block in front of our RV as I walked in and out all night.

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Party cat.

20150704_192659smThe kids played with sidewalk chalk and bikes in the driveway, watched movies in the basement, held sparklers, and watched fireworks while Joe and I had a great time meeting and talking with new people.  It was nice to be at a party; especially one as well planned and organized as one of David’s parties!  The second you thought of a need like “I need to throw this napkin away” there a trash can would appear, practically at your feet.  Thristy? Just go help yourself to the FULL BAR downstairs.  Where’s a bottle opener for this beer I want to drink?  Oh, right here, hanging from this string with a laminated sign attached that says: “Best Bottle Opener Ever!” on it.  If I lived my whole life trying to have my shit together as much as David, I would die a failure.  So I won’t.  But it’s a thing of wonder to be in his world for a week and a wee bit intimidating, especially with 3 loud, messy kids (if I don’t say so myself).  However, he was nothing but gracious and accommodating.  We hope it didn’t take too long to get the place back in order after we left!

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Luckily Jen is a teacher and OFF for the summer, so the kids and I got to spend lots and lots of time with her!

One day she took us on a tour of Yale (Where she graduated with her PHD).  Somehow it made me feel like a GREAT mother to have my kids walking on Yale grounds.

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Yale Library
Yale Library. I got the feeling that they may have a little bit of money.
Any my personal favorite, Hogwarts!  Okay just a dining hall, but close!
Any my personal favorite, Hogwarts! Okay just a dining hall, but close!

Another day we went to the museum in Hartford, CT.  It was 6 full floors of AWESOME!

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She’s been so into building dams lately!
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He was just unstoppable while we were there. Go! Go! Go!
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And Beanie made a friend.

20150707_152012sm We also took the kids to play at some parks, met the family that Jen used to nanny for, and hit up a teacher store on the way home where I spent 3 hours reading everything, getting totally overwhelmed, and leaving with only one workbook.  Arg!

20150705_161402smYet another day when Joe and David were able to tag along we hiked East Rock to the very tippy top with Darby barking at other dogs the entire way up.  One the way down she was too tired to give a crap anymore and that part went much better.

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The View

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20150705_140857smAnd there was lots more fun too; eating Thai food, pizza, and being shown around David’s sound prop room!

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They really seemed to like the drums; this worries me.

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It was a great time spent with family and made me realize again how this trip is turning out to be so much more about the people we see and meet than the places we visit.  And now, after spending this time together, maybe Loralai will stop thinking that every redheaded 20-something woman she sees is Aunt Jen.

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And just when we thought the week couldn’t get any better our friend from back home, Tim, calls me and says he’s staying at his mom’s house with his girls, who are some of Lou’s besties, just 25 mins away.  And so we went!

Oh glorious friends!!!
Oh glorious friends!!!

We had so much fun visiting with them and meeting his rad mom and her husband that we came back the next day and spent the night in their driveway!  This is one of my favorite things about RV’ing: Home is where you park it!

Our driveway spot!
Our driveway spot!  Not bad, eh?
We had clam dinners on the porch.
We had clam dinners on the porch.

 

And laughed and talked.
And laughed and talked.

And just before Tim’s flight back to Austin with the girls, we fit in a trip to the beach!

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Where the shellin' was GOOD!
Where the shellin’ was GOOD! As a matter of fact, I got so lost in finding shells that my brand new saddles were swept away by the incoming tide. Whoops! We all searched for them and gave up. Then, just as we were driving away, I saw them and ran into the water to retrieve them! And now they are my favorite, lucky sandals!
So many treasures discovered!
So many treasures discovered!
Darby had a blast playing with Sue's little dog!
Darby had a blast playing with Sue’s little dog!
And I'd say this little guy had fun too!
And I’d say this little guy had fun too!

One of these days I’ll get better at remembering to get photos of new friends before leaving!  I would have loved to have had one of Sue and Charlie!  They were such wonderful people with lots of adventurous stories of their own to tell.  Thank you for the wonderful time at your home on the salt marsh!

And with that it was time to pack up and head to our next destination, recommended by Tim: Ithaca, NY.  Our next adventure awaits.

Sleepy faces.
I’m a sucker for sleepy faces.
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Mt Washington New Hampshire

IMG_20150627_153559400From Maine we headed out to the Mt. Washington New Hampshire area on a recommendation from my friend Nikki.  Some places are like that; we just throw out there to friends, “Where should we go?” and then we go!  So it all started with a sad, stale knock-off bag of bbq chips and a whole lota rain.

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We had no expectations on what it would be like and were surprised by what a hiking mecca it was!  We LOVE hiking!  We just don’t get to do it very much with 3 littles.  Joe and I actually aspire to hike The AT (trail that goes continuously from Georgia to Maine) one day when the kids are old enough to leave for the 5 months it takes to do it!  Stay tuned for that blog!

Well the AT runs right over the Presidential Mountain Range and drops hikers less than a mile from the park we camped in!  There were hikers EVERYWHERE!  There were trails EVERYWHERE!  There were supposedly moose EVERYWHERE!  It was awesome!

Our Happy Campsite
Our Happy Campsite

IMG_20150623_194951803The place we were staying actually had a hikers’ loft above their office where a father daughter team were staying while they  hiked parts of the AT.  I stared aspiringly in their direction for a day and a half, before hearing the dad mention on a phone conversation in the community laundry room that he was from Round Rock, TX (practically Austin!) and worked up the courage to walk over to him one evening and offered him a beer.  Then his daughter came out and drank a beer with us too!  Those two beers turned into too many beers to count and hours of good conversation and me serving up dinner.  We talked about the trail and them almost freezing to death on Mt Washington (you’re not a serious hiker until you have an “we almost didn’t make it” story), a little about our travels, our pasts, and aspirations.  Some time around 1am we parted ways.  We wish you well Chelsea and Bill!  Hope to run into you in Austin sometime when we all return!  Happy Trails!

IMG_20150623_202619143A lot of our time, and I mean A LOT, was spent at the campground playground/bounce house/pool/rec room.  The grounds were run by a husband-wife team who had owned the place for 20 years and they were great!  They gave us the front spot, right across from the playground.  Upon arrival I wasn’t too sure it was the spot we wanted since it didn’t provide any shade–or much privacy–but it ended up being the best spot for us!  Have I mentioned how much we loved that playground?

 

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One day there were Amish children that came to play at the playground! You know I LOVE this stuff, right!?

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The owners lived in a house attached to the office and would light a camp fire every night and sit outside.  Friends would come and join them every night and campers were invited too.  One night, when Joe took the kids to bowl, I walked over and sat with them for awhile.  I just kept thinking how cool it was that they were surrounded by friends and potential new friends every night, around a campfire, talking.  The kids returned and sat with me awhile too before we all headed back to the RV for dinner.

This was the small town, 10 lane, track your own score, bowling alley Joe took the kids.  So cool!
This was the small town, 10 lane, track your own score, bowling alley Joe took the kids. So cool!

Along with all the campground fun, we took a few trips out and about too…

One day, despite my intense fear of doing it, I took the kids and planned to drive our dually, supercab, extended bed truck over narrow, winding, dirt, mountain roads with no guard rails to get to the top of Mt Washington.  But thankfully when I pulled up to the entrance booth a guy came out and said they did not allow dual-wheeled vehicles up the road.  I could have kissed him I was so relieved!  I almost really did kiss him when he handed me $5 off coupons for the tour van that takes you up the mountain instead, making the tour nearly as cheap as driving it myself.  See it pays to be so cheap that you attempt to do things that scare you to death because then people give you coupons!

Yep.  Most sever weather on the PLANET!
Yep. Most sever weather on the PLANET!

So we rode up the mountain my 3 children and I in the backseat with 2 other couples.  My kids were decent on the 30 minute drive up, but not great.  There was some crying and getting out of seat belts (Jonah), but we made it with minimal looks back from the couples.

When we got to the top the wind speed was 55mph and a clear day so you could see for miles!

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One LOVES it. And another is just tolerating it. Can you tell which is which?

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Must see what climbing rocks at high wind speed feels like!
Must see what climbing rocks at high wind speed feels like!

There were several buildings on the top of Mt Washington, including the original inn that travelers would stay in when they arrived by horse and buggy.

Girls pretending to have dinner at the inn that was completly staged with castiron dishes and everything!
Girls pretending to have dinner at the inn that was completly staged with castiron dishes and everything!

There was also a small museum that told about the mountain, it’s wildlife and conditions, and was a lot of fun!  It had a cafeteria on the top floor and post office.  Cause even when you are on top of the world’s craziest weather having mountain, you still need to get your mail!

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They’re taking turns driving a snowcat to the top of Mt Washington.
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Yes, can I get some stamps please….

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In addition to all this, there was a well stocked gift store, that is held to the ground with chains so it doesn’t blow away.  Man, so much going on on this mountain top!

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If you could keep your hair from blowing all over your face, the view was not bad.
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You could also take the old cog rail road to the top!
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End of the line…

It was a fun day and THE thing to do in the Mt Washington area!  And we didn’t fall off the mountain, so that’s good.  Check!

Being around all these AT hikers and tailheads, had us itching to do a hike!  So on Joe’s day off, we all headed to the ranger station to pick out a family hike and get the girls their White Forest National Forest Jr Ranger badges (whew, say that 5 times fast!).

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It was a great station with a kids exploring room! Should have checked it out earlier in the week!

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And with Jr Ranger patches in hand, we started on our hike!

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Water Play

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Our waterfall
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Don’t worry Mom! He’s far from the edge and on secure ground.
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Lady Bug Girl and her sister Loralai, the Great!
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Didn’t do a very good job of capturing how big the falls actually were. It was very grand!

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He woke up just in time to see the parking lot!

Snail Art

We also hit a sad little farmer’s market, but I found my snail-rv art there!  And we went to Walmart several time to get Joe a new computer to replace his that finally bit the dust.  And I cleaned the truck, and I mean REALLY cleaned the truck, with a high powered vacuum and everything!  So that should keep for a few months, don’t you think? We found even more playgrounds to play on too!

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Awesome park that was located in the center of the town we were staying.
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It even came with friends!

That’s how New Hampshire was for us.  Unplanned.  Casual. Come what may.  Lots of hanging at the campground, doing laundry, swimming, yoga.  Sprinkled with new friendships.  We all really, really loved this place an extra amount!

Can you find Darby in this photo?
Can you find Darby in this photo?
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