Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New England Trip

Back in October, we went to New England for Grant's brother's wedding.  But, in true Spear fashion, we couldn't just go up there for a wedding and come back.  We had to make a real vacation out of it!  Especially since I had never been to New England before.

We flew into Hartford, Connecticut on Monday, October 3, a week before the wedding.  We arrived at night, so all we did was rent a car and go to a hotel to sleep.  The next morning, we started our journey.  I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but once again, we had the chance to see alot of things from 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.  Believe it or not, the tiny little town of Essex, CT was in the book!  So we stopped there to see some of the things that the book pointed out.  The first place was The Griswold Inn, which is one of the oldest inns in the country.  I love hearing the creaking of the wood floors, that were a couple hundred years old, and thinking about the history of this place.  It was very charming.

There was also a restaurant at the Inn, which was just as charming.  Since it wasn't really a mealtime when we were there, we were able to just walk around and look at everything.

After the Inn, we walked around the main part of town and just took in New England.  This was our first stop, and I was already in love!

After leaving Essex, we headed toward Mystic, another place listed in 1,000 Places.  However, I had actually heard about Mystic before, thanks to Jen and Cheri.  After seeing their pictures from Mystic a couple of years ago, I said to myself that if I ever visited New England, I would definitely stop in Mystic.  About a month or so before this trip, Grant and I rented Mystic Pizza, because we figured you can't visit Mystic without seeing a movie named after it!  The movie was horrible, by the way.  Mystic itself, was once again, a charming, quintessential New England town.  I was starting to see a trend with falling in love with every place we visited!  And yes, we did eat at Mystic Pizza.  The pizza was better than the movie, thankfully.

Once we left Mystic, we started making our way towards Newport, Rhode Island, which was going to be where we stayed that night.  On the way there, I remembered that the movie, Dan in Real Life was filmed in Rhode Island, near the coast.  So I got the idea to look up the address to the house that most of the movie took place in (yes, I am a nerd like that).  Sure enough, I found it, and it was only about 5 minutes out of our way.  Grant and I both love that movie, and we loved that house, so there was not even a discussion about whether or not to do it - we both wanted to!  Aren't smart phones amazing?

But yeah, we got lost on the way to the house, so it ended up taking way longer than 5 minutes to go there, but it was still worth it.  The house is a rental property, and happened to be vacant, so we just pulled up in the driveway, and took a few pictures.  Although, Grant was more brave than I was.  I noticed the same car driving by a couple of times, and I started to get nervous, but Grant took his time looking through the windows.

The house was in Jamestown, RI, and Newport was just down the road.  But before we got to our hotel, we decided to - say it with me, now - visit yet another place from "The Book."  This time, it was the Cliff Walk, which is a, um, walk on the cliffs, right on the coast.  The view is beautiful, but you're also walking among beautiful mansions built by families like the Rockefeller's and the Vanderbilt's.  The weather wasn't the greatest, but we really enjoyed the walk.

After a long day of driving, it was finally time to head to our hotel.  We were awakened the next morning by Kendall crying.  I realized through my sleepiness that I've heard "that" cry before, and that it meant she was sick.  Like, puking sick.  Sure enough, right after she cried, she threw up.  This is not what we needed on our trip!  The episode was actually kind of scary.  At one point, she had gone totally limp, and we thought she might have passed out.  Being on vacation, we didn't really know what to do as far as going to a hospital.  So we called our insurance to see what our best option was.  That actually turned into a series of very long, very confusing phone calls.  While Grant was on the phone, I was giving Kendall water, and encouraging her to respond to us, even if she didn't feel like it.  Her color started coming back a little, which was a relief.  Our plan for the day was to drive to Boston, but we really weren't sure what to do.  There was a Walmart near our hotel, so we got packed up and went there so I could get some Children's Tylenol and Pedialyte.  I ended up getting a call from a nurse while I was in Walmart, and I asked her what we should do.  She said that as long as Kendall was drinking fluids and seemed to be getting better, not worse, she would advise us to not go to the hospital.  So, that's what we did.  I gave Kendall her first dose of Tylenol and her first drink of Pedialyte, and we headed off towards Boston.  She pretty much slept the whole way, and by the time we got there, she was feeling and acting much better, which made us feel better!

This picture was taken at our first stop in Boston, at Bunker Hill, and you can't even tell that just a few hours before she was laying limp in Grant's arms!

So, Bunker Hill...that's a pretty tall tower, right?  Yeah...there's almost 300 steps inside that monument.  I was 5 months pregnant, and we had two small children, yet we still decided to go to the top.  It was not easy!  But once we got up there, the views were incredible!

At the top, there was this grate in the floor that you could look through and see all the way to the bottom of the monument.  Cami liked to jump stand on it.  Mom and Dad didn't like that so much.

We went back down to the bottom, and were getting ready to leave, but I really wanted my picture in front of this house.  I just loved it, and I loved the neighborhood that the monument was in.  I hadn't been in Boston but for a couple hours, and already, I was falling in love!

It was getting pretty close to lunchtime, and we weren't able to check into our hotel yet, so we decided to know the drill by now.  Legal Sea Foods was listed in the book, so we went there.  We got a table with a great view, and the food was great.  The only thing that wasn't great was Kendall was not feeling so hot again.  And at one point, while the waitress was taking our order, I thought Kendall was about to throw up, which our waitress was thrilled about.  Thankfully, she didn't, but she just wanted to be held through the whole lunch.

After lunch, we finally decided it was time to check in to our hotel.  Now let me back up and say that as I was looking for hotel reservations, I came to the realization that Boston is not a cheap city.  Hotels there were expensive!  There were a couple of "cheaper" options that would have been great, but by the time I got around to making the reservations, they were booked up.  So we finally realized that we would just have to bite the bullet and pay more than we usually would.  That being said, I absolutely loved the hotel we stayed at, which was the Beacon Hill Hotel.  The location was great - Beacon Hill is a beautiful, historic Boston neighborhood.  It was close to Boston Common, which is where we had to park.  And breakfast at the Bistro attached to the hotel was included in the price.  And it wasn't just a normal hotel breakfast, it was an off-the-menu breakfast!  And you know how in most hotels, you wouldn't dream of taking anything from the mini bar in the room?  Well here, that was all included.  Fancy bottled water whenever we wanted it was just given to us.  Yes, it was pricey, but there were lots of nice little perks for staying there.  The room was tiny, but they gave us a roll away bed for Kendall, and Cami just slept on the floor.  Kendall loved her little bed!  This first picture was the view from our room.

Okay, enough about the hotel.  But seriously, if you're in Boston, I recommend it.

Our first night in Boston, we went to Mike's Pastry.  Honestly, at this point I can't keep track of what was in the stupid book, but we had at least heard good things about this place.  The only problem is, we walked to it from our hotel.  And it wasn't a close walk.  And it was cold.  But the pastries were worth it!  And Kendall, who was hardly able to eat all day, somehow managed to eat a chocolate covered pretzel.  Go figure!

Grant, by far, got the best thing, though.  It was the Florentine Cannoli, and it was soooooo goooooood!

The next day, we decided to do the Freedom Trail, which is a must-do when you go to Boston!  These are pictures from the sites we saw on the Trail...

That night for dinner, we drove to Essex - not Connecticut this time, though.  Essex, Massachusetts.  Yadda, yadda, yadda....1,000 Places...Woodman's.  They're known for their fried clams, but honestly, I wasn't impressed.  Grant really liked it, but for me, it was just okay.  Something we didn't know about Woodman's until we got there was that part of the movie Grownups was filmed there.  We found that out quickly, because they were playing the movie on several TVs throughout the restaurant.

The next day, we were finally heading back to Connecticut, where John and Sarah's wedding was going to be.  On our way, we stopped to see Walden Pond and Concord (Concord is where several authors had houses - Emerson, Alcott, Hawthorne, etc.).

Also in Concord is the famous battlefield wherein the Revolutionary War was started.  You would never know it by looking at it, though.  It was so beautiful!  This ended up being one of my favorite stops on our whole trip.

We made one more non-wedding stop on our way to the festivities...Litchfield Hills, CT.  Any guesses why we stopped there?  I think driving through this area was my favorite drive - all of New England (at least the parts we drove through) were beautiful, but there's a reason this area made it into "The Book."  It truly was breathtaking.  Amazingly, I don't have too many pictures of this area, but I did get one of Grant and the girls with some fall colors.

And now, if you're still reading, I'm sure you're glad to know that this ridiculously long post has come to an end. The next post will be all about the wedding!  Hopefully I can write about that before this baby comes!

Monday, January 16, 2012

California to Florida Move

Grant is gone this week for work.  Since it's so close to my due date, we decided it might be best if me and the girls stay with my parents in Pensacola while Grant's gone.  So, I'm hoping to crank out some blog posts, while the kids are entertained, in hopes of catching up before the baby comes!

So let's back up a bit to July.  We left California on Thursday, the 21, and made our way to The Boulders Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, AZ.  This was a place that we had read about in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and Grant had been wanting to stay there for a while.  Since it was July in Arizona, we were able to get a decent rate there, because that's the off -season.  (Let's face it, no one in their right minds wants to vacation in Arizona in July!)  As we were driving through Southern California and Southern Arizona, I was shocked at the temperatures!  We stopped at In-N-Out Burger in Palm Springs, and the temp was something like 115.  Crazy!  By the time we got to the resort, it was late afternoon, but the temperature was still around 110.  We were definitely not in San Pedro anymore!

When we got to the resort, we could already tell how great it was, and why it was in that book.  It was really beautiful, and it got it's name from these huge boulders that the resort was seemingly built in to.  We got checked in and went to our room.  The nice thing about this resort was that everything was included in the price - even valet parking, tips, and transportation via golf cart to anywhere on the resort grounds.  That was so nice because we're usually too cheap to pay for any of those things, so we definitely took advantage of it!

Once we got settled into our beautiful room, we made our way to the golf course, because we heard this particular hole had great views, and we wanted to see the sunset from a good vantage point.  While we were there taking pictures, there was another family that came to do the same thing, so we swapped taking pictures of each other.

The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast outside at one of the resorts restaurants.  Unfortunately for me, my morning sickness was in full swing, so I didn't really feel like eating anything.  And that's a big deal for me!  I love food, and the menu had all these fantastic options, but I went with yogurt and granola.  It was all I could even think about eating.

After breakfast, we went to the pool, and enjoyed being almost the only people there.  Since I'm not on my home computer, I don't have all my pictures from the trip, so this is the only picture I have of the pool.  But there were huge boulders built up all around the pool, and a nice little waterfall.  It was perfect.

After we got cleaned up from the pool, we got ready to head out.  Our next stop was our old stomping grounds, Albuquerque!  We stayed at Edie's house, and after only being there about five minutes, Edie asked me if I had a secret.  We hadn't really told anyone about the pregnancy yet, but I was definitely showing, so she figured it out pretty quickly.

We had a great time in Albuquerque.  It's always so much fun to visit there and see old friends.  While we were there, our good friends the Newnam's had a party, which really was a reunion of sorts.  We weren't the only former Querquians to be visiting that same weekend - there were two other families there!  So we had a great time seeing everyone at the Newnam's house.  It was fun to see how much bigger our group had gotten, with the addition of all the kids.

On Sunday, we went to church and worshipped with our former church family at Providence Presbyterian.  Then that afternoon, Edie had people over to her house for more fellowship!  We ordered Dion's Pizza, which is a must when you're in Albuquerque, and everyone had such a great time.

Haley's little girl, Kate, saw the dress that Kendall was wearing at church that morning, and happened to have one very similar, so before the party at Edie's she asked if she could wear hers.  Don't they look like sisters?

Monday morning, we packed up and started heading out for Oklahoma City.  It was hard to say goodbye to Edie and the kids - even Kendall and Cami had a hard time saying goodbye!

So off we went.  This leg of the trip ended up being the hardest for me.  I had to pull over at one point and throw up, and felt horrible the rest of the drive.  It also happened to be our longest drive.  Needless to say, when we got to OKC that night, I was happy.  I planned it so that we would be staying two nights there, so it was nice to not have to get up the next day and drive.

One of the main reasons for stopping in OKC was to visit with our friends, Ben and Carrie.  Grant and I went to junior high and high school with Carrie, so again, it was like a little reunion!  We met up with her and met her husband Ben in NYC back when I was pregnant with Kendall, but they had just recently moved to OKC, so I thought it would be a great chance to catch up with them.  And it was!

On Tuesday we met Carrie and her girls, Kenzie and Kali, and the OKC Zoo.  The heat was apparently following us on our trip, because once again, it was H-O-T!  I think while we were at the zoo that day, it got up to 110, which is unusually hot for Oklahoma.  Glad we could experience their unusual weather.  We still enjoyed ourselves though.  Oh, and the Zoo offered this great service, where they would keep your dog in a kennel for you for I think something like $7.  That was great, since there was no way we were going to leave Watley in the car with that kind of heat, and we couldn't leave him in the hotel room.  We also rented a wagon, which was perfect for the kids.

After the zoo, we went back to our hotel to take naps and showers.  Then we met up with Carrie and her family again at Cattlemen's Steakhouse.  Again, we saw this in 1,000 Places, but we had also seen it on TV.  So we really wanted to visit it.  One of the things Cattlemen's is known for is their Lamb Fries.  Any guesses as to what they are?

Carrie told us about a canal ride that goes through downtown OKC, so after dinner, we decided to go check that out.  It was a lot of fun!  And walking around the downtown was so nice.  Carrie's girls are so sweet, and just really loved Kendall and Cami.  They all had a great time together.

After the canal ride, we made a much needed stop to get some frozen yogurt.  I don't think anything ever tasted so good!  After that, we headed to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  By the time we got there, the museum was closed, so we just walked around the outside part of the memorial, and I thought it was really well done.

The next day we headed to Memphis, again to see some old friends.  This time it was David, Stephanie, and their 4 kids.  And once again, Grant and I had gone to school with David since 7th grade.  David and Stephanie used to live in the Pensacola area, so we've seen them quite a bit over the years, but they had just moved to the Memphis area, so we made sure to stop there on our trip.

Since we'd never spent any time in Memphis, we had to go to Graceland, which also happened to be in 1,000 Places.  Um, Graceland is overrated.  I mean, I guess if you're a huge Elvis fan, you'd really like it, but we're not, so it was just okay.  Here we are outside of it.

Another thing we had to do in Memphis, which was well worth it, was to eat some BBQ!  So after we left Graceland, we went to the downtown area.  One of the most striking things about Downtown Memphis, was the smell - but in a good way!  Even with our car windows up, we could smell BBQ, and it.smelled.good!  With all the great restaurants there, it was hard to pick which one to go to, but we had seen Rendezvous on a few different TV shows, so we thought that would be a good one.  It was a little difficult to find, because the entrance was in a back alley.  But we finally found it, and it did not disappoint.  I was glad I wasn't feeling sick on this day, because I thoroughly enjoyed the food!

We had heard about a hotel in Memphis where you could see ducks in the lobby.  It's The Peabody, and it happened to be across the street from Rendezvous (actually, down the alley, and across the street), so we stopped in to see the ducks.  The girls loved it!

Back at David and Stephanie's house, the kids got a treat by staying up late to watch a movie.  They had so much fun!

The next day was going to be our last travel day!  I was so ready to just get to Florida by this time.  On our way from Memphis to Pensacola, we stopped in Tupelo, Mississippi, to round out our Elvis experience.  We stopped at his childhood home.

After a few more hours of driving, and meeting up with our friends David, Joy, and their 3 kids for lunch in Birmingham, we finally made it to Florida!  I swear, that last hour of driving was the longest.  But it was so nice to be at my parents house and be done with driving.

That was also when we announced to everyone that I was pregnant, so it was fun to see everyone's reactions in person, instead of doing it over the phone or via Skype.

All in all, our move was great.  The girls did so well for having been in their car seats for so long.  They made friends along the way, and saw lots of fun things.  We were sad to leave California behind, but excited to start this new chapter being closer to family.