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!


  1. I'm amazed that there were quite a few places I'd not heard of or not visited. What a great trip you had!

  2. I love that you are catching up on all these posts! Great pictures!

  3. I loved New England. We only had an extended weekend in the Boston area, and we made it down to Newport, RI, though it was over New Years so it was freezing for most of the sightseeing but still worth it! I loved it there and would love to see more of it. Great post!