Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thoughts on London

As I look back over the 9 days we spent in London, I find myself thinking about the things I would do the next time we travel there.

This must be a positive, meaning I had an enjoyable enough experience that I'd like to go back someday.

It's definitely must be a different experience with kids, since we were limited by how much they could do in one day. When they needed to stop, we stopped. Most of the planning was around them. There were many walks in my "24 Walks In London" book that there was just no way I could do with them. If we ever were to go back, I would certainly want to either 1) go with just Bret or 2) hire Grandma! Of course, it will be many years before we would even begin planning something of this magnitude again in terms of a vacation, so the kids will be much older at that point as well.

Now that isn't saying I didn't have a good time, like I said I'm just thinking of some of the things I would have liked to do vs. what we did. The touristy things were fine. The Harry Potter film locales became old quicker for me than for Bret, but he's the Potter fan along with Allison so I was just along for the ride. I did get to see some beautiful English countryside, villages, and cathedrals however.

Didn't get my burger, chips, and beer in a pub for 5 pounds though. That's a definite must-do next time around!

When not trying to maneuver in the Underground, I enjoyed the people. They were always very nice when we asked for directions, or where we were at. In the hustle and bustle of the Underground though, it was typical city-rudeness.

It's also a much more environmentally-conscious environment too. You do not really grasp how UN-environmentally conscious the US is, until you've experienced how they run things in Europe. Rather sad when you think about it. The US should be much further in this than we are (I know in many instances I'm preaching to the choir in this statement).

The food is probably what I liked least about England. We found a hit in Nando's, and the first time I had fish and chips it was good. The second time after a couple of bites I was pretty greased out. Most of the other food I tried was quite bland, and you needed to add salt and pepper to everything just to make it semi-edible. The kids did ok, as they are not fans of really flavorful food anyway. They enjoyed chips with vinegar.

Coming home, we found security is much more normal at their airport than in the US. First off, you didn't have to remove your shoes. Secondly, their xray machines can see THROUGH laptop bags, so they didn't have to be taken out. Just an all-around better experience to not be hounded by the TSA and pseudo-security.

Yes, I would most definitely like to do more traveling abroad. If my experience was this good overall WITH my young girls, it can only get better as they get older!

I am hoping Bret will write his thoughts soon, as I'm sure he has his own perspectives from the week he would want to share- including driving in London!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back In The US!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are safe and sound back in the US. Flight was 6 and a half hours, and pretty uneventful. A little too bumpy for my taste (sorry about your arm dear!). Still totally spoiled by the free hot dinner and treatment on British Air. Today we are just recovering and doing laundry, but I'll probably write some post-thoughts soon as I take some time to process the past 9 days mentally.

We're here in the Boston area until Tuesday, then we start our trek home with our flight back to Kansas. I assume by no phone call from Bret's mum that our van hasn't been whisked away by a tornado! ;-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Journey West-ward begins

We finished off our London trip with first visiting Buckingham Palace (just the outside). The Queen happened to be in according to the flag flying, but we weren't able to arrange a tea with her. ;-) After that we headed over to the Tower of London to gawk at all the royal jewels. It was another very touristy feeling place. Actually, the feeling I got was how I feel at a Ren Fair. It's hard to distinguish between all the years of history and a Ren Fair when you've got actors all over the place in Medieval garb. I wish I could *feel* more impressed with it all, but maybe I'm just tired and finished with playing American tourist in London. I'm not overly impressed with displays of grandeur either I think. "Look at our huge things! Look at our expensive jewels!" Bleh, yeah, I must be on overkill, LOL, I don't know. Bret will have to blog and give his thoughts on all of it. I've become such a cynic in my old age! ;-)

Today begins the trek homeward. We fly back to Boston tonight, getting in quite late. I have a feeling we all might sleep a lot of the day tomorrow. I will be writing my post-thoughts on being a visitor in another country eventually, but for now I must go help the husband finish packing- IF this silly Viddler video* ever finishes uploading! At least we are in no rush to get to the airport, flight doesn't leave until 7:30 this evening! (London time, that is!)

*(Video is a bit of the walk we took to the train station for our trips into London. Just a 5 or 6 minute walk, and then the train took us right to Victoria Station where we could catch the Tube anywhere we wanted to go. If the video isn't up yet, it's still encoding- check back later!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A DayAt Oxford

What a great day. I think it was a fairly easy drive up to Oxford (you’d have to ask Bret to be sure about that one), then to get around the city itself you need to park and ride, so that made it world’s easier. The whole city is beautiful, and the University is sort of embedded throughout. You could definitely tell you were near and on a University campus, that seems to have the same feel no matter where you are, but the buildings and the churches- well by now we know everywhere you go in England you are going to be immersed in history. Even the McDonald’s was a quaint house converted- LOL! The cutest McD’s I’ve ever seen!

The main reason for driving up to Oxford was to get a couple more Harry Potter film locations in. Stop number one was New College, where there were more cloisters to see, but we weren’t able to get in until Thursday (can you believe we’ll be back in the states by then?), but they have beautiful gardens to walk through. The girls were in a much better mood today, and were holding hands and walking ahead of us on the path, trying to stay far ahead. We ended up letting them go around one more time by themselves while Bret and I waited. So many beautiful flowers and colors all around. After that we wandered to the Bodleian Library, where the entry room was used as the infirmary in HP #1, and it was also used in HP #4 in the scene where they are being taught to dance before the ball.

From there we found a great indoor market to grab some lunch, although we had a hard time finding something Samantha would eat. It’s hard enough at home finding food for a picky eater- in England you can double it! Eventually we found a place that would make a simple grilled cheese sandwich (though we did have to explain), and I finally got to try a potato jacket. Which was really not all that great (sorry Katie!). I keep forgetting that if you order “chicken salad”, you’re going to get simply chicken, lettuce, tomato, and no dressing at all. It was very bland, and I was very disappointed! It’s a neat idea for a food, but I know I could make them MUCH better. ;-)

After lunch we headed over the Christ Church, another stunning site. This has the staircase in HP#1 where the student’s are met by Mrs. McGonagall, and also the great hall where they ate. On another historical note, walking through the church also had many Alice In Wonderland references and points of interest. Which I thought were much more interesting, as there are references in the stained glass, and many ideas for the story came from little things on the grounds.

At this point our tour leaders were becoming grumpy, so it was time to head back to the bus and drive back to London. We had fish and chips again for dinner. It was good the first time, but didn’t have the same impact this time. I think tomorrow I’m going to try and lay off the grease. Bleh. Chips doused in vinegar however, are becoming my new favorite food!

Tomorrow is our last day to go into London and we’re going to try and get an earlier start than we’ve been getting. We’re going to the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Leadenhall Market (yet another site used in HP). Then Wednesday morning will be packing it all up, getting the car back, and then tomorrow evening we fly back to Boston! The days really flew by, but I’m finding that we could have been finished at 5 days and been equally as happy. I’m starting to get that itch to begin our journey home, and back to normalcy.

(PS- I hope you will all excuse the typos throughout these posts- remember I'm writing them very late at night and I'm tired! Then rushing to post in the morning before we head out- no time for spell check!!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Getting In The London Groove...

All right, so I realize it’s been three days (at the time of writing this it’s about 8:45pm on Sunday), but it’s been so very busy here! I think the flight home will be the first time in a LONG time that I actually sleep on a plane! We’ve been running all over southern England since last I wrote. Allow me to recap:

Day 3 (Thurs.): We traveled more into the center of London this day, starting off in Trafalgar Square and just taking it all in. We had tickets for the Millennium Wheel that afternoon, so while waiting we let the kids play in the playground at the base of it. The wheel is quite a huge structure when you’re standing at the base! The girls and Bret loved the ride, which is about 30 minutes, but I was more ambivalent about it. It was nice to see the entire city from that high, for sure, but I honestly was done after about 10 minutes. So we got our many photo ops, and paid way more than the ride was worth.

After that we took advantage of one of our many walks in the London book Katie bought us, and went over the Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben and the Parliament building. It’s absolutely magnificent- and the detail around the clock is just amazing. From there we went up Whitehall Street (gee, where did NY get their street names from?), which is one of the most populated streets in London, since it’s smack dab in the middle of the financial district. It also is where the Ministry of Defense and Downing Street are (Downing Street naturally is gated off). It’s a nice walk filled with history and beautiful buildings and it took us right back up to Trafalgar Square. We weren’t quite ready for dinner yet at this point, so we then decided to take the Tube up to King’s Cross Station, so Allison (and Bret) could get one of her many Harry Potter fixes. A very kind patrolman helped us find the tourist spot for a photo (which I all ready put on the flickr site). For me, seeing Alli’s face beaming was more than worth it all. From there we went back to St. Martin’s in the Field’s to have dinner in the Crypt, and then we headed back to the B&B. A long and very packed day.

Day 4 (Friday): This was one of our two out-of-London travel days. It started out by heading down to Stonehenge. Not too bad of a drive, ONCE we got out of London and on the highway. This driving around in a rental car was probably not completely necessary, but it did give us the freedom to travel as far as we did. I have to commend my husband on braving the traffic, driving on the left, and learning the art of the roundabout. He is now the roundabout KING. Again, without the GPS (which we have since named Cleo), none of this would even be possible.

Stonehenge was really quite neat, but WAY touristy. I didn’t like that part of it, it was difficult to get a decent shot of the formations because of all the people standing around trying to take the exact same photos. There was a group of protestors there, and their beef was the exact same thing. They do their best to keep it roped off, but still close enough to get good views.

After that, we headed up towards the Village of Lacock, which was quite an interesting drive. First, we drove right into rain. Next, English roads are narrow. Very, very narrow. At one point a two-way unpaved road was not able to have two cars side by side, and a couple of times at an intersection Bret had to back up to let cars by. It was so neat though as we went through the villages and towns along the way. It’s like going back in time, only there are cars along the street. I was snapping pictures all along the way so Bret could actually see what we drove through, as he was watching the road the whole time.

Lacock Village is the home of Lacock Abbey, which was founded in 1232 as a nunnery. In 1539 it was transformed into a family home, but the medieval cloisters were preserved. The cloisters are what we were looking for, as they are used as the hallways of good ol’ Hogwarts. The courtyard around the cloisters was also used in the movie. When we went back that night and looked at the DVD’s to compare, it was so very obvious (much to Alli’s delight). I would have loved to see the whole village, but we needed to leave to get to our final destination of the day, Gloucaster Cathedral, which was another hour and a half drive away.

The Cathedral was stunning, there are no words to describe it properly, or photos that can truly capture the magnificence. The building began in 1039 as an Abbey, but it was a place of worship since about 700 AD. King Edward II is buried there. We arrived about 15 minutes before they closed, and they had JUST shut down the cloisters as we arrived. So we tried to track down someone who would take pity on us and perhaps let us have a peek. We did, and we had about 10 minutes all by ourselves, wandering more of the Hogwarts halls. There was also a door used as an entryway to Griffyndor Tower, and one used as the entrance to the bathroom where Moaning Myrtle roams. Again, priceless happy looks on my daughter’s face. Never mind thousands of years of history, Harry Potter scenes were filmed here!

If you're curious, here's a Google Map of our drive around Southern England.

Day 5 (Saturday): Breakfast was served a little later today, so Bret slept in and the girls and I went and ate. The longer we stay at Melrose House, the more I like it. They are taking very good care of us here. I saw another family with children, which made me feel a little more comfortable. Around noon we left for the city, but for some reason the kids were all ready a bit grumbly.

We started out at the London Field’s Inn area, searching out Cyrius Black’s home (yet again, the Harry Potter tour). After that it was off to the British Museum, and an attempt to do another of the book tours I had. I say attempt because we had a bit of a downturn with the kids, and eventually we just gave up. We saw a little of Egypt (and the Rosetta Stone), but we barely made it out of pre-civilization before we just had to give up. Though we managed to see the chess set that was used in the first Harry Potter movie. Not the giant version at the end, but the smaller version you see them playing. It perked up Allison a bit, but we were pretty done for the most part. They really aren’t used to all this walking, and being stuffed into a train like a sardine, etc. etc.

Day 6 (Sunday): I’ve made it to today? Wow, that’s a lot of stuff we’ve crammed into this trip so far! I wish I could have blogged each day, but I’ve been so tired at the end of the day, and no time to do it in the morning. So I’m really sorry that this is such a huge chunk of reading for you all.

Today we had another late breaky, and finally got to interact with the other guests a bit! We met a really nice couple from Hong Kong, and had an interesting conversation about cities growing upward vs. outward. I also met another woman who is another Seeker like myself, complete with 9/11 conspiracy theories, world domination through pharmaceutical companies, and UFO’s (although I’m not big on the UFO thing myself). There wasn’t any good time to record with her, but I do have the info for her cause, so I can set something up in the future (yay skype!).

Today was my day sightseeing first- and we went to the most popular Beatles spot in London- Abbey Road. I was just like Allison with her Potter locations! And oh yes, me and the kids (then Bret and the kids) walked it while the other took pictures. After that it was off to 221 Baker Street, and the Sherlock Holmes shop. 221 doesn’t actually exist, but it’s close enough. A really neat little shop, and there is a museum as well though we didn’t do the tour. I’m a recent Holmes convert after playing a role in the Dream Realm audio drama series, which on the DRE website gives great information on the Holmes stories with each episode. Next door to the Holmes shop is a Beatles’ memorabilia shop. (Are you jealous, Dad and Alan? I hope so! ;-) )

From there we spent the rest of the afternoon at the London Zoo, after walking through Regent’s Park to get there. Central Park would be the comparison, I think. HUGE park in the middle of a major city. Though I think Regent’s is larger, I’d have to check that. We (of course) made our stop in the reptile exhibit for the Potter fans. Samantha LOVED the giraffes, because you could get right up and close to them. We’ve never been that close to a giraffe before.

After a small souvenir rift, we started the trek home, and had Nando’s chicken for dinner. A recommendation from Allison’s teacher, and it was a good one! GREAT chicken! Finally things are winding down today, as we prepare for our second out-of-London trip tomorrow. To Oxford. Why? Two words.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

London Day 2

I will miss this weather when we leave. In AZ we don’t see the steady rain. You know, the stuff that just hangs there and there is at least some sort of drizzle coming down ALL day long. I love that.

That’s what today was, so we ventured out (armed with our day passes rather than Oyster cards) and began our first day closer to center city at the Museum of Natural History. Seems everyone had the same idea on this rainy day, it was quite packed. I think the schools must still be in session as well, because there were a bazillion field trips happening. Honestly? I enjoyed the architecture of the building itself more than the museum. For the most part it mirrored New York’s. A few differences, but really, if you’ve seen one T-Rex, you’ve seen them all…although the space and astronomy portion was pretty neat. We also got a little time with Mr. Darwin as well. ;-)

The girls are having fun spending their souvenir money, a Bday gift from Grandma Tari, and they are making the conversions to dollars in their heads (So is Bret, but for different reasons, hehe). After almost two hours at the museum however, signs of not being quite with it were showing in the girls. Allison’s fun meter dropped considerably. Sam accidentally dropped her tray of lunch on the floor as we were sitting at the table in the food court of the museum, and a meltdown ensued. They felt a little better after getting some food in them, so we made an attempt to head to the science museum.

I say attempt because as soon as we got there, Allison realized she left her souvenir on the floor at the entrance of the Natural History museum as we were putting our jackets back on. So she and Bret walked back to see if it was still there (it wasn’t) while Sam and I waited. By this time even I was ready to go back to the hotel, which we did. Bret was a little frustrated, but really what could we do? Force them to keep moving and walking when they were clearly still out of whack? That wouldn’t make it an enjoyable experience at all, for anyone.

We rested for a lot of the afternoon, then headed out for dinner. So far we’ve not been overly impressed by the food, and rather than trying to find something “ethnic” (if you will), we kissed the floor of the TGIFriday’s and had dinner there. Then when we returned it was showers and bed for the girls. Allison has been so tired she crashed before any of us. Sam I think is so tired she just can’t stop moving or she’ll go into a coma. Luckily now she has settled down (it’s about 12:30am here as I’m writing this, to post in the morning).

The B&B we’re staying at is rather weird too. I think, at least. See, this morning we had breakfast at our own table in the sunroom, while everyone else was inside at the table. The owner said it was to make sure we could all sit together and the kids wouldn’t be separated from us. And that was fine, it was nice out there, even though I was hoping to talk with the other guests. When we returned to our room, there was a note saying we were set up through the weekend to eat at the kitchen right outside our room, which is completely detached from the main house on the other side of the garden. The owner said it was going to be very busy this weekend, and again wanted to make sure we all had places together to eat. Then Monday we could come to the main house to eat.

Ok, so my mind starts spinning. Is she worried about us and the kids, or is she worried about the other guests? I don’t think my kids were obnoxious at breakfast this morning, actually they were pretty quiet, so I doubt there were any complaints. Anyway, I’m probably thinking too much into it, but I found it odd. Sort of like “keep the Americans separate!” Most of the guests were at least from England, based on their accents when we all said good morning, and I would LOVE to talk with them.

I think tomorrow everyone will feel better and more normal, so we might get more in. We bought our tickets on the Eye in advance, and that is at 2. The rain is passing, and I’m told it will be around 70 and sunny at times, so a great day to do that. Finally we’ll see some of the landmarks we’ve only seen on TV! We’re also going to find a Nando’s chicken (Allison’s teacher recommended it so she’s dying to try it), and St. Martin’s in the Crypt for dinner.

And I’m sure many, many rest points throughout the day. :-D

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Anarchy In The UK!

My goodness, I don’t even know what day it is. I can’t even post this until the morning because there is no internet access in our room, only in the main house. It’s been the longest two days! Monday around 5 we left to take the rental car back, and then check in for the International portion of our adventure. Since we needed the car back before 7, we ended up being checked in for the flight with nearly two hours of waiting in the terminal. The flight left a little late, but we actually ended up arriving on time, so no worries there. The girls were taken back by how big the airplane was- it had a middle section of seats! They also enjoyed their own video monitor, the kids pack British Airlines gives out (which includes an electronic game!), and being served dinner and breakfast. All for no extra charges (take that American Airlines!).

I ended up not taking advantage of the drugs supplied to me for sleeping, and was up the entire flight. Not that Bret and the girls slept any better. At least the flight wasn’t full so everyone could move and stretch out a bit more. All in all it was an uneventful flight.

THEN. We ended up spending an hour longer in the airport than we thought we would simply because we were at the wrong terminal to pick up Allison’s Oyster Card (the transportation card). She and Bret took a bus to another terminal to do that while Sam and I stuck around the one we came into with the luggage. I resisted the urge for a Starbucks, knowing we were going to take a nap when we got to the B&B, and we just sat there and people-watched. Even in the airport the atmosphere seemed different.

So once we got the Oyster card mishap taken care of, it was off to the rental car place. Bret was paying close attention to how the shuttle driver was moving through traffic, since we would soon be driving in it himself. And I must say, he handled London traffic amazingly. Once we got a little more in the city it was more stressful (as with any city really), and without the GPS we would have been roaming around in circles forever. Only a few missed turns and we made it to the B&B, after witch all four of us crashed for a few hours.

We all felt a little better after that, and then we ventured out to see what this bus system is all about. Lesson number 1- the Oyster card isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What took us two hours by bus (granted we did make a few mistakes and needed to backtrack a couple of times), we could have done in one trip by rail, which isn’t covered on the Oyster card. We could get a day pass for that instead. The plus side is the girls rode in a double-decker bus for the first time, and we saw a whole lot of the southern suburbs of London. Everyone was very helpful when we asked questions about where we were going (and Bret asked quite a lot- the man is fearless!), but we decided that unless we absolutely had to, the bus system isn’t the way to get to the Underground.

Allison is especially excited to be here, I think it’s because of Harry Potter. She is just taking it all in like a sponge, and it’s really fun to watch. I’m so happy we have the opportunity to expose the girls to other cultures and countries. They area couple of very well- traveled ladies!

So now it’s time to try and sleep. Tomorrow was supposed to be Stonehenge, but weather said it will be raining pretty much all over England tomorrow, so we are going to hit some of the museums instead and make it an indoor day. I didn’t take very many pictures today either, so perhaps I will get some uploaded here in the next day or two.


Monday, July 07, 2008

You know you're from the desert when...

You pack for a trip to London and you have more shorts than long pants with you! Two trips to the store to buy a few more pairs of long pants for the children!

It's going to be so wonderful weather-wise! Jumping ahead another 5 hours should be quite an interesting experience though. We plan on relaxing at the B&B tomorrow morning (we land in London around 8:45am- that's London time!), so I will jump online to make a quick post and assure our family that we have arrived!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fabulous East-Coast 4th

Well hello there peoples! Bret was giving me a guilt-trip about not doing a post for a few days, so I figured before I dove into sorting MORE photos, I'd write.

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July weekend! We ended up having a really great time. Katie and her Brett had a bbq on the 4th, and we ate much, met some of their friends, AND my friend Scott came over as well! Scott (for those of you who do not know yet) and I met about a year ago through another friend of mine, CJ. He calls himself "the Podcast Guest", and is always appearing on shows throughout the podosphere, including my own! He's on the left in the photo.

Unfortunately, that evening both myself and my nephew Elliot were not feeling so great, so we didn't go out to see any fireworks. We did however get a private show from neighbors a few houses down! Apparently you can buy fireworks in New Hampshire, but they are illegal in MA. You know, sort of like buying them in Mexico and smuggling to AZ. Doesn't seem to stop some. ;-)

The podcaster meetings didn't end there. Last night we had dinner with Scott again, along with other podcast friends Steve, Maureen, and their sweet baby Rebecca. Steve and Maureen do a show called the Wicked Good Podcast, and Steve also does a fantasy football podcast called Extra Points. It was great to see them again and actually have a conversation! When I first met them it was the Podcast Expo last fall, and with all the noise and things happening you're lucky if you have more than a 2 minute conversation with ANYONE. So this was good. I'm also very happy that Bret came along to meet my podcaster friends!! He's not into all this social media stuff, so it's always great when I can share a little part of my interests with him and the people I meet along the way. :-)

Today is getting things together as we head into our next chapter of the Cutler Summer Adventure- London! We leave tomorrow night, so today is laundry and packing. Not that we have to pack much, that's one thing that has been nice with all the moving around- the packing is done! I've been thinking a lot about simplifying lately as we have been living with one week's worth of clothes and with pretty much nothing else. It's rather freeing, and well, simple! It's giving me the urge to look around the house when we get back and re-assess what's really necessary...

I'm not sure if there will be another blog post before we head out of the country, but keep checking the flickr site for photos! I'm also not sure what the wifi sitch will be in the B&B we're staying in in London is either, so online communications might be sparse for the next week or so. I'm finding however that the longer I'm away, the less I mind...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Easy-living on the East Coast...

Bret here again. On Monday we took the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan then took the subway to the see the progress on the World Trade Center. Several buildings going up around the main site. They’ve even built up to the ground floor where towers one and two were located. I’m sure Danielle would like to share her thoughts on this particular visit, so I won’t go into more details at this time.

Following seeing the WTC, we journeyed into Greenwich Village to visit Anita, John-dad’s Aunt. She’s 90 years old and has lived in the same apartment for the past 50 years. We walked (albeit very slowly) the two long blocks to one of her favorite local restaurants, CafĂ© Loup. A great little French place where everybody knew her and she got the chance to introduce the last of her family to them. Apparently this is the place she always takes family when they come to town. It was quite obvious our host, Jim, is deeply taken with her. He seemed like a fantastic guy, and I’m glad she has so many people looking after her in this city.

We had a terrific visit, but all things must end. We returned to her apartment for a short visit before taking the subway, ferry and bus back to Greg-dad’s place to pick up the car. Nearly two hours later, we were on the road back to Massachusetts --- it’s now near the end of people’s work day and we got stuck in the crowds. Hard to believe people actually do this on a daily basis! It’s nice though, because we got a chance to see dad and Melodee once more on the way out of town. Amazingly, we made the drive through Brooklyn, Queens and the rest of the city with little to no traffic, so we made great time. Until… Who would have thought the last mile between Connecticut and Mass would be what takes the longest?

Returned to Mass late and tired so we decided going to Maine for L.L. Bean and lobster would not be the best thing on Tues. Pushed that to Wed and spent Tues putzing around the house. No major events there, so I’ll skip to Wed.

One of Brett’s favorite things to do is take visitors to get fresh lobster from a lobster shack in Freeport, ME. Danielle is a lobster fiend, so was completely on board. I had not yet experienced it, so admit I wanted to go as well. Maine is a 2-3 hour drive from their place, so we had to get up early in order to make a full day of things. I felt like I must be part of a Twilight Zone episode or something, as I of all people was the first one up and moving at ~6:20am. We got our clan ready for the planned 7:30 departure, but didn’t leave until 8:15 while waiting on Katie’s boys. Have D or I ever mentioned how glad we are that we’re past the toddler/young child stages of this parenting thing? I forgot how much packing/chasing/corralling is involved with any outing. Anyways… we had a pretty nice drive up to Freeport with no major issues. For those who’ve never been, Freeport is a nice little town that L.L. Bean appears to have thrown up all over. As you enter town one sign points left for the town entrance with another pointing you towards the L.L. Bean Employment office and distribution center. Downtown is filled with Bean store after Bean store interspersed with other outlet stores, restaurants and a few one-of-a-kind stores. Our group of nine would head off to our own points of interest, meet back to enjoy a packed lunch then disperse once again to get their shopping needs completed. I’m not what one would call a big shopper, so the ice cream booth and British Shop were what interested me the most.

The weather was nice, so we took a trip to the beach. The girls knew this was not a swimming beach, but they were excited to collect shells and rocks. The tide was on it’s way out, so we had fun tromping through the muck that is loosely referred to as the beach.

A little fun, but now it was time for Lobster!!

Alli really wanted one of her own and liked the taste but wouldn’t touch the thing to get any of the meat. “It’s staring at me,” she said.

D on the other hand…

That woman is sure in her element so far this trip. I’ve got to go help Tari-mom as she prepares to move into her newly renovated condo, so will end this here. Hope all is going well with everyone!