Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New England Vacation Day Six

When we decided to vacation in New England I told my husband that I wanted to eat lobster at least three times in the week we would be there. Now it's day six of our vacation and I have only had one lobster roll which was just okay, not as good as it should have been. So today we are driving to the coast in search of lobster.

We are staying at Mountain Edge Resort and Spa at Mount Sunapee in Newbury, NH. That's pretty much on the other side of the state from the coast, but we're from Texas, so it didn't seem very far at all. It took less than two hours, which is closer than from our house to San Antonio.

We drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and drove around the city's waterfront. There were several very nice places to eat, but they were also a little more expensive than we wanted so we kept looking.

I'm going to take a break from the story right here to tell you that the only frustration we experienced on our vacation was coffee. Every place we went in both New Hampshire and Vermont had Green Mountain Coffee. I like Green Mountain Coffee. I use their K-Cups in my Keurig brewer at home. The complaint we have was that it was almost never hot. It was brewed and kept in pump-top thermoses on the coffee bar. It wasn't fresh and it wasn't hot.

While driving through Portsmouth, we happened upon a Starbucks. It didn't take us but a nanosecond to decide to stop for coffee. While there, we asked the baristas about where we might find a reasonably priced lobster meal. They recommended a couple of places nearby on the waterfront. Neither place was what we were looking for so we decided to drive up the coast. Before we knew what had happened, we were crossing into Maine.

Maine has a beautiful visitor information center located at Kittery, ME. We stopped there to see what was nearby and the very helpful volunteer suggested several places we should visit and several restaurants where we could get lobster.

After driving around checking out a few places, we decided on Lobster Cove who had two one pound lobsters for $19.99. As you can see, we were very happy to have our lobster dinner. It was delicious and fun. The waitress offered to take our picture but said no photos were allowed until we had our bibs on.

We asked her what we should see and do while we were there for the day. She directed us to the lighthouse which we could see in the distance and to Ogunquit, Perkins Cove, and a walk called the Marginal Way. I must say, this area of Maine is spectacularly beautiful. It is home to the old grand hotels and million dollar homes.

We did not walk The Marginal Way because it was getting late in the afternoon and the temperature was beginning to drop. We walked around the shops at Perkins Cove while sipping hot apple cider. I found the cutest sweaters to take home to Our Little Princesses. Here they are trying them on for the first time.

On the way back to the resort, we saw some beautiful autumnal decorations, huge pumpkins, and a gorgeous sunset over the mountains.

We only saw a tiny corner of Maine, but it was really beautiful. I think we're going to plan a trip to Maine in the next few years. I've got to say, I could really love at least three of the seasons in New England. Winter is a whole different story.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New England Vacation Day Five

We are home from our vacation. For some reason on day five of our stay in New Hampshire, my laptop lost the ability to connect to the internet. There seemed to be some conflict with my laptop and the resort's wireless router. We could get online with Grandad's computer, with our smart phones, and with my Kindle Fire, but not with my laptop. Unfortunately, the photos were all on my laptop and I couldn't get them from here to there. That said, now that we're home and all my connectivity problems are behind me, I'm going to continue with our vacation story.

On Day Five, we visited the Enfield Shaker Museum in Enfield, New Hampshire. I have heard of the Shakers for many years and we were already familiar with Shaker-style furniture. But, only a few minutes after arriving, we realized that we really knew nothing at all about the Shakers and their lives.

The Museum is located in the Great Stone Dwelling, which is the largest Shaker dwelling house ever constructed. We started with a short film about the Shakers and were then taken on a guided tour by a museum staff member who was very knowledgeable and clearly loved to tell the story of the Shakers.

The Shakers were a communal group who practiced equality of the sexes and races, celibacy, pacifism and communal ownership of property. They are widely believed to be the most successful communal group ever.

I was interested to learn that they did not believe in God as the Trinity. They believed that since God created man and woman in his image, God was two-parts, man and woman. They did not recognize Jesus as part of the Trinity, but they recognized him as God's human son. They believed that Ann Lee, who founded the Shakers, was God's human daughter.

They were called Shakers because they believed that they could "shake off sin" by spinning and dancing in their worship. Men and women lived separately but equally. Woman were full partners in both preaching and worship. There was no marriage and no children were born. The sect grew through recruiting new members and through taking in orphans and raising them in the Shaker way. When families joined the Shakers, the children lived apart from their parents and only saw them on Sundays. When the children became adults, they chose whether to become Shakers or go back into the world. After the Civil War, the Shakers took in orphans in hopes of increasing their numbers.

The work that the Shakers did became their offering to God, so they believed that it had to be perfect to the best of their ability. The tools that they used to make brooms are on display. The women gardened, cleaned, cooked, and sewed. The men made brooms, built furniture, worked as carpenters, and farmed, among other things. It's also interesting to note that the Shakers pioneered the modern seed business.

We spent several hours walking among the buildings in the land that the Shakers called the "Chosen Vale." The Shakers once farmed 3,000 acres of land in this beautiful valley. They educated their children in model schools, and worshiped in "The Shaker Way." Sadly, there are only four Shakers remaining today and the sect will likely vanish from the earth when they die.

The Shakers moved away from Enfield in the 1923 because their numbers had declined to the point that they could no longer sustain the community. It sat idle for four years before it was purchased by the La Salette Order of the Catholic Church. The La Salette Missionaries used the property for a seminary and, with the help of a generous benefactress, constructed a beautiful chapel right next to the Great Dwelling House. I must say, the austerity of style that the Shakers built creates an interesting juxtaposition next to the ornate architecture of the Catholic church.

Unfortunately, the number of seminarians also began to decline and the seminary closed its doors in 1974. The church has been de-consecrated and you can go in, wander around, and take pictures. Today, the church is occasionally used for weddings. It still contains a beautiful pipe organ and the stained-glass windows are exquisite.

We went back to the gift shop in the Great Stone Dwelling where I bought one of the few souvenirs of the trip, I treated myself to a beautiful Shaker-style pin cushion, made by a local artisan.

We asked the ladies who staffed the museum to recommend a nearby place for lunch, They sent us across Lake Mascoma into Enfield to Mickey's Roadside Cafe where we enjoyed really good lunch. I had seafood chowder and Grandad had clam chowder with half a tuna sandwich. After lunch we drove through the town which was decorated with scarecrows everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. There were scarecrows in front of the churches, the police station, on porches, in front of businesses, and even on both ends of the bridge.

While at Mickey's we asked the waitress if there was anything else we should see in the area. She suggested a visit to Quechee Gorge, which is known as Vermont's Little Grand Canyon. So, we made that our next destination.

The best view of the gorge is obtained by walking across a bridge on Highway 4. The bridge is 164 feet above the  Ottauquechee River. As you stand on the bridge, you can feel the vibration of the bridge as cars pass. Let me just say that I walked across the bridge to take pictures, Grandad did not. He suffers from acrophobia which means, he really struggles with high places. He was, however, game for a hike along the trail that leads back to the dam. It's less than a mile round trip and was a pretty easy trail.

After the hike, we stopped at Quechee Gorge Village. The Village is basically a shopping center featuring all sorts of souvenirs, antiques, wine, toys, pewter, candy, and cheese. There is also a toy and train museum. For Grandad, cheese was the main attraction. They had samples, lots and lots of samples. We both had a few samples, then I left, went to the ladies' room, shopped a little and came back. Grandad was still sampling cheese when I got back. I've been teasing him that after we left they probably put up a photo of him with a notice that he's not allowed to come back. The man ate a lot of free cheese.

By this time, it was getting late so we headed back to our condo. Tomorrow, we're driving to the coast. I need to eat some lobster while we're in New England.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New England Vacation Day Four

Today we went to Vermont. On the advice of a couple of other guests of the resort, we went in search of The Vermont Country Store. It was fun, we bought candy and maple syrup and a few other things. Then we went in search of an apple orchard, specifically an apple orchard with apple cider donuts.  In the process of searching, we found the most delightful and beautiful little towns. We visited Chester, Rockingham, Westchester, and Bellows Falls in Vermont and we visited Walpole, New Hampshire. They were all along the banks of the Connecticut River and were so beautiful and picturesque. Many of were founded in the Revolutionary War era. The sun was bright and I got sunspots in many of my photos, but it's too beautiful not to show you.

We finally had to stop at a gas station and ask for directions to an orchard. (Did I mention that there are NO billboards in Vermont or New Hampshire.) The young lady we asked was very helpful and directed us straight to a beautiful orchard. Apple picking season is over, but they had a few apples for sale, along with pumpkins and gourds. We stopped at Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, VT. The people there were friendly and directed us to a place where we could get apple cider donuts. We followed her directions to Allen Brothers Farms and Orchards Bakery. They did indeed have fresh apple cider donuts, which I give two thumbs up. They also had all kinds of fresh baked bread and a deli with sandwiches, soups, and salads. We ate lunch there and brought the leftovers back to the condo for dinner.

The vista from Alyson's Orchard was nothing short of spectacular. We also stopped in Putney, VT at a place called Basketville. It's inside of a large barn and has all kinds of things for the home. I bought a Christmas ornament, Grandad bought a cap, and we indulged in a wine tasting which from Putney Mountain Winery which is conveniently located inside Basketville. We bought a bottle of Rhubarb Blush and a bottle of Vermont Cassis. I'm not sure how we're going to get them home on an airplane, but we'll figure something out.

Yesterday I told you that I was falling in love with New Hampshire a little at a time. Today can tell you that I'm head-over-heals for Vermont. I can't wait to see what we find the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New England Vacation Days Two and Three

Every day, a little bit at a time, I'm falling in love with New Hampshire. Before this trip, I've only known New Hampshire for its first in the national presidential primary and its prominent roll every four years in the national election of our president.

Before planning this trip, I knew very little of the natural beauty and friendly people I would encounter here. I also didn't know that, like Texas, they have no state income tax, and, unlike Texas, the have no state sales tax. Awesome!

Yesterday we took the Fall Foliage Special on the Winnipesaukee Railroad. It was a four hour scenic trip from Meredith to Plymouth which included lunch at The Common Man Inn. The train passed Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona and followed along and over the Pemigewasset River from Ashland to Plymouth. On the return trip we stopped at Ashland Station. The station has been restored by local volunteers who were there to greet us in period costume. Ashland is on Squam Lake, better known to movie goers as "On Golden Pond."

The buffet included squash soup, turkey and sage dressing with cranberry sauce, meat lasagna, garlic mashed potatoes, and acorn squash with assorted cookies and brownies for dessert. It was very good. I especially enjoyed the turkey and dressing.

Besides the beautiful foliage, the best part was meeting new people. We met a mother and daughter from Massachusetts, and four very delightful gentlemen from Providence, Rhode Island. They were our dining partners at the restaurant. Two of the men from Rhode Island are retired teachers who now run a theater in Providence. We had the best time discussing Broadway and upcoming shows. I told them not to be surprised if we show up at their theater in a couple of years.

Today we drove across the state to Franconia Notch State Park where we hiked The Flume Gorge. To describe Flume Gorge as breathtaking is an understatement of epic proportions. It's spectacularly beautiful.

Here's what the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation says about Flume Gorge:
The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. A trip into the Flume begins and ends at the Flume Visitor's Center. Guests can choose to walk through just the Gorge or do a two mile loop. The walk includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allows you to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here. 

Framed by a spectacular vista of Mount Liberty and Mount Flume, the Visitor Center houses the Flume ticket office, information center, cafeteria, gift shop, and the state park system's historic Concord Coach. A 20-minute movie showcasing beautiful Franconia Notch State Park is available for viewing.

The Flume was discovered in 1808 by 93-year-old  “Aunt” Jess Guernsey when she accidently came upon it while fishing. She had trouble convincing her family of the marvelous discovery, but eventually persuaded others to come and see for themselves. At that time, a huge egg-shaped boulder hung suspended between the walls. The rock was 10 feet (3m) high and 12 feet (3.6m) long. A heavy rainstorm in June of 1883 started a landslide that swept the boulder from its place. It has never been found. The same storm deepened the gorge and formed Avalanche Falls.
I'm not going to lie to you, climbing up and down this gorge was challenging for both Grandad and Grams. When you factor in the medical problems that we've both overcome in the past six years, it's nothing short of amazing that we were able to do it. It was a lot of effort and I think we're going to hurt a little tomorrow, but it was so worthwhile. I've never seen anything like it before. It has now been added to the list of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Today was the last day of the 2012 season for Flume Gorge. We got in just under the wire. But, if you can get to New Hampshire next year, I highly recommend a trip to Flume Gorge. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for children ages 5 to 12, and children under 5 are free.

On our itinerary for tomorrow is a trip to Vermont. We're going to visit The Vermont Country Store, look for an apple orchard, and seek out and, hopefully, eat some apple cider donuts.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New England Vacation Days Zero and One

I flew from San Antonio to Boston yesterday to join my husband, who has been hear since Monday. That means I drove from Corpus Christi to San Antonio on Wednesday and spent the night with Katy, Travis, and Our Little Princesses. I got to go with Katy to pick the girls up at school/day care, one of my favorite things to do.  As soon as they saw us coming, they both came running and threw their arms around my knees.

At home, we sat on the floor of the play room and played with all their toys. Then, while I de-boned a chicken for the Arroz con Pollo Katy was making, they played nearby. Truthfully, they played under the table. I could hear them giggling and laughing. It was quite entertaining for me and they thought it was hilarious.

Our Little Princesses under the table laughing.
Katy took me to the airport at 6:15 yesterday morning for my 8 a.m. flight. It was truly above and beyond the call of duty. She dropped me off, went home, got the girls dressed and fed, then dropped them off at school, and got herself to a sales meeting around 8 o'clock.

I walked for what seemed like miles from one gate to another at Chicago's Midway Airport. I grabbed a quick lunch there and made it to my connecting flight on time. I flew Southwest Airlines because we are Rapid Rewards members so my trip was free. One of the things I really like about Southwest is that they are still small and personal in a lot of ways. We were boarded and ready to leave Chicago, but there were five passengers who were late from connecting flights. They actually held the flight about twenty minutes to give them time to make their connections. On other occasions, I have been one of the passengers for whom flights have been delayed. It's a wonderful thing that they help make connections that way. We still arrived within ten minutes of our scheduled arrival time in Boston.

We stayed last night at the Hilton Woburn/Boston. It is where Grandad stays when he travels to Boston on business because it's near the company's training center. Since it's out in the suburbs, it's usually a very nice and quiet hotel. However, last night there was a large group of high school kids from Connecticut staying there. By large, I mean three busloads. Unfortunately, they were largely unsupervised. The adults who were traveling with them had obviously already retired to their rooms. The kids were running up and down the hallways, screaming and laughing, and generally being kids.

The noise level dropped sometime around 11 p.m. and we went to sleep. Then at 12:30 a.m. we were awakened by the fire alarm and screaming teenagers. I opened the door, looked out into the hallway, and went back into the room. A few minutes later we were told to evacuate the building. Temperatures in the 40s, drizzle falling, and all of us in the parking lot in the middle of the night in our pajamas. We were on the fourth floor, so we had to walk down four flights of stairs. Not too bad for either of us, but a very difficult task for a couple of elderly people who could only walk with assistance, who were on the same floor. The fire department came, inspected the building, and let us all go back inside. Surprisingly I was back asleep within just a few minutes.

This morning, we found a note of apology from the hotel explaining that it had not been an actual emergency. Apparently, some of the unsupervised kids pulled the fire alarm.

We woke up this morning to a rainy day. After breakfast, we made our favorite morning stop for coffee at Starbucks.

After that, we drove northwest from Boston into New Hampshire. The fall foliage is beautiful. Since it was raining, we didn't stop anywhere. All of these photos were taken from our moving car.

I do have one question, what is with the New Hampshire State Liquor Stores. We don't have those in Texas, but I do think it's very convenient that you can by your booze and your lottery tickets at the same place right at the state line.

Since we didn't stop along the way, we got to our resort way before check-in time so we drove on into Newport to look for a grocery store and a place to eat lunch. We chose Village Pizza which has a menu including pizza, calzones, burgers, grinders, pasta, and salads. I had a small hamburger and Grandad had a Cheeseburger Grinder. My hamburger came with french fries. The burger had a homemade patty and was topped with mozzarella cheese and fresh lettuce, and tomatoes. The french fries were awesome; perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Grandad said his grinder was very good too. Village Pizza is located at 7 South Main Street, Newport, NH. Somehow I failed to take a picture of Village Pizza, but the view from their front window was lovely.

View from Village Pizza
After we picked up a few groceries, we went to the resort to see if we could check in a little early. They were very welcoming and let us into our condo right away. The resort is beautiful and small. The rooms are spotlessly clean and beautifully appointed. Since it was raining, we watched television for a while. Then we spent a little time in the pool and hot tub this afternoon. I will take some photos sometimes in the next few days.

We came back to the room and I made "deconstructed chicken pot pie" for dinner. It was deconstructed because there is no oven in the condo. I cooked the filling on the stove top. Then I sliced the pie crust into small pieces and browned them in a skillet. It was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Tomorrow, we have tickets to ride the Fall Foliage Special from Meredith to Plymouth. It's a four-hour round trip train ride with lunch at the Common Man Inn in Plymouth. 

We've already met some nice people here at the resort. A couple from Long Island, New York gave us some recommendations for places to visit in Vermont. Two ladies from Boston also gave us some suggestions for things we should see and do in the area. 

This is one of the vacations I've wanted to take for many years. It's one of the items I'll be checking off my imaginary bucket list. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some good pictures of the foliage tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm hoping for a peaceful night's sleep tonight. 

What trip is on your real or imaginary bucket list?

This post has been linked to the GRAND Social Linky.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Restaurant Review - Fajitaville Grille

Grandad and I dine out regularly, usually 2-3 times a week. We go out every Friday night and frequently on Thursday or Saturday. Our Friday night dinner group, which includes my mother-in-law and our next-door neighbors, tries to "mix it up" by going someplace different on a regular basis. We eat at chain restaurants as well as local places. We are not picky eaters, we like good food and a quiet atmosphere. And, we're almost always willing to give a new restaurant a second chance. If we try a place and don't really love it at first, we'll wait a few months and then go try it again, especially if it's a new restaurant. Corpus Christi is well known for mobbing a new place for the first few weeks, making it difficult to get a table. Then business slows down and it gets easier.

This past Friday night, we went to a fairly new restaurant located on North Beach. Fajitaville is a three-story restaurant that sits right on the beach. In fact, the first floor Bamboo Beach Bar is an open-air bar where you can have your cocktail while you enjoy the ocean breeze and the rhythm of the nearby waves. You can also opt to enjoy your dinner there with a variety of choices including appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, and sandwiches.

We opted for the second-floor grill which offers an extensive menu including all kinds of fajitas, seafood, steaks, and Mexican food. Three of us ordered beef fajitas and one ordered chicken fajitas. They were served in a sizzling skillet with sauteed mushrooms, green and red bell peppers, and onions with sides of pico de gallo, shredded cheese, Spanish rice, refried beans, and your choice of flour or corn tortillas. The portions were extremely generous. Each skillet would easily have served two people. The fajitas were well-trimmed and perfectly cooked. We brought home enough to have dinner again last night and there is still enough for one more taco tonight.

My mother-in-law had the fried shrimp, which was the special that night. It came with seven large fried shrimp and a side salad. I didn't notice what other side came with it, but she also took a to-go box home. She said the shrimp was good.

We ordered one dessert which was split among the five of us. The Caribbean Bananas were really, really good. Warm bananas simmered in orange and brandy sauce served with vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!

The second and third floors are easily accessible by elevator. In fact, the hostess greets you as you walk up to the restaurant, joins you in the elevator, and escorts you right to your table. It was a nice touch.

Our waiter was helpful and friendly. The only complaint I have was that several of us tried to order pork medallions, then pork fajitas. Neither item was available. The waiter explained that they were in the process of changing their menu this weekend. I hope the new menus arrive before we go back. There is little that irritates me more than ordering something off the menu that is not available.

Perhaps the best thing about Fajitaville is the view of Corpus Christi Bay. It's nothing short of gorgeous. Sadly, they have chosen to install large televisions in every dining room and the bar. I could see three large flat-screens from where I was seated. When you have a gorgeous view of the ocean, do you really need the distraction of television screens? Keep your televisions in the bar, but leave them out of the dining room.

The addition of multiple televisions seems to be a trend in all the restaurants around Corpus Christi and it's a trend that I really hate. If I want to watch television while I eat dinner, I'll order my meal to go and pull up my own tv tray at home. When I'm dining out with friends I want to enjoy the conversation and the ambiance of the restaurant.

The food was definitely good enough to warrant a return visit. Next time my kids are home, we'll take them. I know they will enjoy the open-air bar right on the beach.

You can visit Fajitaville Grille at 221 South Hotel Place, Corpus Christi, Texas. They are currently undergoing some renovations. We found the parking lot somewhat tricky to navigate. The three-story building is brightly colored and stands out so it's easy to see, but you have to go around a hotel to find the parking lot. They could use some additional signage on the corner.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this restaurant review. We paid for our dinner. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sun Protection Can Be Fun

My mother had skin cancer. She had multiple bouts of malignant melanoma and had many different kinds of treatments over the years that were all very unpleasant. She was not a sun worshiper. Most of the damage to her skin was the result of working the fields as a girl and the usual sun exposure that everyone gets from driving a car.

I have a very fair complexion; in fact, I often describe it as "fish-belly white." I sunburn easily and always try to protect my skin. To complicate matters, I am also sensitive to many sunscreen products. I wear a makeup with an SPF15 protection factor. In addition, when I'm outside for very long, I wear long sleeves and a hat. My favorite hat is a big floppy straw hat.

A few weeks ago, when we went to the Texas Antique Festival, I wore my favorite hat. It was about a 90 minute drive in each direction. Our Little Princess E snagged my hat and had some fun on the way home.

I just love it when kids find ways to entertain themselves.

I'm still struggling to get over this cold. I'm going back to the doctor tomorrow and ask for a shot and a prednisone pack. We leave for New Hampshire on Wednesday. I'm determined to get well before I get on that plane.


Monday, October 8, 2012

School and Vacation Plans

I've been trying to fight off a cold for almost three weeks now. At the same time I've been working, getting ready for a garage sale, and finalizing plans for our vacation.

We had our garage sale on Saturday. It was only moderately successful. We made $75 which will be added to our spending money for our trip.

As Saturday went on, I felt worse and worse. I could not stop coughing. By 3 o'clock I was coughing nonstop and my head was pounding. I made my first ever trip to the minor emergency clinic. I was expecting it to be an awful experience with hours of waiting, but it wasn't bad at all. In fact, I was there less than an hour and I really liked the physician's assistant that I saw. He started me on an antibiotic and gave me a combination cough suppressant and decongestant. I'm already feeling better, but I still wake up coughing every four hours or so. Hopefully, I'll be completely well before time to leave for vacation next Wednesday.

Several weeks ago, we spent the weekend at our Aggie Engineers' house. Katy, Travis and our Princesses came too. On Saturday, while the men played golf in the annual Valenta family tournament, the girls went to the Texas Antique Weekend in Round Top.

As usual, it was hot. The first tent we went to had a lot of vintage furniture and some of the biggest mirrors I have ever seen. Princess E was quite taken with herself in the mirrors.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we ran across a little, gray concrete donkey that Katy wanted for her front porch. Princess J was taken with it immediately. She thought it was a puppy and climbed on it while repeating, "Puppy, puppy, puppy," over and over again.

As I said, it was really hot. So on the way home, we treated the girls to their first stop at Dairy Queen for Blizzards. Needless to say, it was a big hit.

When we got back to the house, the whole family jumped into the new swimming pool. It was so much fun to have the whole family enjoying it together. It is beautiful and just perfect for kids. When you first step into it, there is a deck about two feet wide that is shallow enough for them to stand on. We all really enjoyed it. It led to one of those moments in life when I just looked around, soaked it all in, and thought about how good our life is. We have much to be thankful for.

I'm teaching kindergarten this week. I had a great group of kids today. They were very well behaved and enthusiastic. But there was one little girl who never stopped talking for one single minute all day long. She was exhausting. But I really enjoyed the rest of them.

I wore a pair of my close-toed shoes today for the first time since last Spring. By the end of the day, my feet were killing me. I've been wearing flip-flops or sandals every day since March. We'll be vacationing in New Hampshire next week where the temperature was 37 degrees this morning. I think I'll need warm shoes. I'm afraid that even my tennis shoes are going to present a challenge.

We've booked a train ride through the White Mountains and are planning some driving tours around New England.I'm also hoping to hike The Flume. We're excited about seeing covered bridges and brilliantly colored fall leaves. I'll be blogging along the way. I'm really hoping for some good photographs.