2011 Summer Road Trip - Day 37 & 38

Saturday, July 2, 2011
We didn't do too much on the first day of July.  David had to work, and I needed to get us all packed for our big trip to Maine and beyond.  The kids behaved relatively well for being cooped up in a hotel room all day, so that was a plus!

We were up bright and early to head to Dover, New Hampshire, which would be our stopping point for the night.  The New York City skyline was impressive as we were leaving town!

We also had to cross the George Washington Bridge to get out of the city.  What an impressive sight!  We were on the upper level, and there were eight lanes of traffic!  There is also a lower level that has six lanes of traffic.  The GW Bridge is also a suspension bridge, which makes it doubly cool!  Although traffic can be horrible on the bridge, we got lucky.  It was a Saturday morning, and even though it was a holiday weekend, the traffic on the bridge was relatively light.

Once we got across the bridge, our luck ran out...  The traffic snarled up and we ended up sitting for almost an hour.  I think we made it about six miles during that hour of travel.  Talk about a downer!  I don't know why we didn't listen to Dwight, David's co-worker, who suggested we take CT-15 North.  I think the traffic would have HAD to be better than it was in Interstate 95 North!

By the time we got out of the traffic jam, we were all relieved to see the Connecticut state line!  We still had about an hour to drive, but it was good to be out of New York and off to see something new!  

We saw the coolest orange church.  Yes...  It was really orange!  I wish I was a good enough photographer to make the true color of that church pop out of this picture.  It was so bizarre!

It didn't take us long to start seeing signs for Chip's Family Restaurant, which is apparently "famous" in Connecticut.  Dwight recommended we eat there, so that's where we headed!  We weren't disappointed!  The food was delicious!  It was so good to visit with friends, but we had to get back on the road pretty soon.

We stopped at a couple of rest areas along the way to search out some geocaches and stretch our legs.  At one particularly smelly rest area we saw the sign below.  Ugh!  They rest stop didn't offer bathrooms, so apparently some desperate travelers had been using the side of the building.  From the smell of the place, it was apparent that the sign wasn't doing much good.

It wasn't long and we were crossing the New Hampshire border.  This was the first time any of us had set foot on New Hampshire soil!  Something that tickled us was the sign for the State Liquor Store that popped up right after we crossed the border.  We'd never seen a liquor store operated by the state.  There was one on each side of the interstate.  When looking this up on Google, I found the website for the liquor store on the New Hampshire official government website.  Weird!

We went to our hotel, The Homewood Suites in Dover.  After settling in, we went out to explore a bit more.    

We crossed over the bridge, and we were in another state!

David had seen a restaurant on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called the Maine Diner, which was located in Wells, Maine.  It wasn't far from the hotel, so we had to go check it out!  We loved the food!  It was everything that Guy Fieri said it would be!  Delicious!  The Lobster Pie was AMAZING.  That's the only word that fits that divine creation!

After supper, it was definitely time to get some rest.  The kids were grumpy, and so were the adults.  A little bedtime was certainly in order!

2011 Summer Road Trip - Day 36

Thursday, June 30, 2011
We had a super long, super busy day today.  The kids and I got up and headed to Central Park once again.  Our first stop was the Central Park Zoo.  One of the first things we saw upon entering the zoo were these really cool eagle sculptures.  Both of the girls thought they needed their pictures taken with them.  After admiring the entryway we spent a leisurely two hours just exploring the zoo.  We saw snow leopards and sea lions, but our favorite exhibit was the polar bear exhibit.  That bear was a swimming fiend!  He just went back and forth, back and forth for at least thirty minutes!

The girls liked sitting under the eagle's wings.

She looks like such a lady!

Reese's favorite animal!

That polar bear swam forever!

The gate at the Children's Zoo was amazing!

My little baby turtles!

The lily pad walkway was fun!

Now my turtles are all grown up...

My pretty girl.

A crazy looking rabbit sculpture.

My sweet girls.

It's time to leave!

After visiting the zoo we walked through the park for a while and happened upon a puppeteer.  His name was Ronny Wasserstrom, and he had a Humpty Dumpty marionette the the kids loved!  He was really good at involving the kids in his show, and they were literally laughing out loud at some of his antics.

Put your foot in!

"Watch this, Jack!"

Mama's sweet man...

The kids loved the scarecrow, too.

I love seeing them smile like that...

After loads of fun in the park we met David for supper at Ellen's Stardust Diner.  What a hoot!  The reason we went to this particular restaurant was because a 12-year-old girl on the subway suggested it to us with a glowing review.  She said that she was excited because she was getting to go for her birthday later in the week.  Since she was so excited, we thought our girls might enjoy the place, too.

Katie and Reese were totally enthralled the minute we stepped inside.  We were seated immediately after we arrived.  They placed us in the upstairs section near the stairs.  The funny thing was that after we were seated the first person we saw was that same girl from the subway!  Katie went over to say 'HI' as soon as we saw her with her family.  What are the odds that we would be there on the same day at the same time?  Crazy!  We ordered our drinks and meals right away and then enjoyed the show while we waited.  One of the waiters even came up and sang to Katie.  He actually sat down in the seat with her!  She was thrilled!

Katie's special song...
We got our meals and fed Jack some of our food.  Since Jack is especially hard on dishes, we usually just put his food on the table in front of him.  One of the waiters (not ours) noticed that he was eating off the table and told us it made him "uncomfortable to see that baby eating like that" and brought us a glass plate for Jack.  It took about five minutes, but Jack crashed the plate on the tile floor and shattered it into a million pieces.  Haha!  We knew that might happen, and I did try to catch the plate, but oh well!  I guess the young waiter might have learned a little bit about babies!

I didn't get our waiter's name, but he was attentive and nice, so we were happy!  David ordered a Cobb salad, I had the meatloaf, Katie had cheeseburger sliders and Reese had mozerella triangles.  The food was OK.  Not great, not bad, just OK.  I did feel it was a little overpriced, but I guess you're paying for the show, too.  The wait staff sang tons of songs that we knew, and quite a few that we didn't.  Katie requested the song "Popular" from Wicked: The Musical, but unfortunately we finished our meal and had to leave before they got to her song.

Reese watching the show and waiting for her food.
Katie LOVED the singing.
My family outside the Stardust Diner.
Fun times!
 After dinner we headed out to Times Square to look around for a little while.  If you remember, last year we went to Times Square and missed a ride on the Toys R Us ferris wheel by just a few minutes.  I promised Reese at that time that if we ever came back we would ride that ferris wheel.  We made it to Toys R Us and did just that!  The kids were excited, and I actually got a picture of myself taken while I rode!  That's an unusual occurrence!  We also visited the Disney Store and played in there for a little while.

My family at Times Square
Katie in the Disney Store.
Jack and Mommy on the Toy Story ferris wheel car.
Katie riding the ferris wheel.
Reese on the ferris wheel.

David was pretty much done after visiting Toys R Us.  He'd worked all day that day, and had to get up early the next day, so we headed home.  It was a LONG day, but we had fun!  Gotta get some sleep so we can head off toward Maine tomorrow!

2011 Summer Road Trip - Day 35

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The girls and I decided some shopping was in order today.  We went to Jersey Gardens Mall to check things out.  This place is ghetto fabulous!  I think I was the only modestly dressed mom there!  Haha!  In spite of the crowd, we found some awesome deals!  Our main mission was to find Katie a dress for the 4th of July.  We went to Gymboree, Justice, Old Navy, Gap and Tommy Hilfiger.  Katie found the perfect dress at Tommy Hilfiger.   I loved it, and she did, too.

This couch and caption was in one of the stores we visited.

Silly faces!

Reese found a train... Like usual!

2011 Summer Road Trip - Day 34

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The kids and I decided to go into the city today and check out Central Park.  It took us a while to get up and around, but we did catch the train and head over to explore.  Our train dropped us at the American Museum of Natural History, so we decided to go in and explore.

There were so many cool things to see!

Reese loved the dinosaurs.

She loved the animals, too.

The time capsule outside the museum was interesting.

After seeing everything we could see in the museum we set out to discover Central Park.  Reese and Katie climbed on the rocks, sailed the sailboats, and walked the trails.

My little explorer!

"Take my picture on this rock!"  Again...

We went to visit the Bethesda Fountain and checked out the ponds and lakes.  Everything was just beautiful!  The girls each picked out a sculpture that they liked and had their picture taken with it.

One of the ponds in Central Park.

Reese liked the dove in this sculpture.

Katie liked the butterflies.

The girls picked the bumble bees for Jack.

The Bethesda Fountain was beautiful!
 Reese walked through this arch and I managed to catch a picture.  I thought is was so cool that I went back to the hotel and looked up the arch on Google.  This is what I found.

Trefoil Arch

Located at 73rd Street, the Trefoil Arch is noted for its unique style and design.
This 16-foot arch was constructed in 1862 to provide a pathway from Conservatory Water to the Lake. Unlike the majority of bridges and arches in Central Park that were made from sandstone, the Trefoil Arch was built using brownstone. The arch's east and west sides each feature a different type of design. While the arch’s eastern side is gothic in style with a trefoil archway, its western side has a rounded arch. In addition, the eastern side has cast-iron railings and intricate quatrefoils on either side of the arch, while the western side simply features buttresses decorated in a floral pattern.
Reese walking under the Trefoil Arch.
We went to the Conservatory Water to check out the sailboats and see the pond.  This is what we found out about the area:

The original plan for Central Park called for a formal flower garden and a large glass house, or conservatory, for tropical plants. An ornamental pond was constructed as a reflecting pool for the conservatory, but when the plan for a structure was abandoned, the water body became the popular model boat pond, inspired by those in Parisian parks. 
From April through October, children and boat enthusiasts come to navigate radio and wind-powered vessels across the shimmering waters. It’s such a popular destination that writer E.B. White set the whimsical boat scene in his children’s classic, Stuart Little, here. It was recreated in the 1999 film of the same name.

We didn't rent any sailboats, but we did send a few back out onto the water and watch them sail around.
Reese set that boat back sailing!

They were waiting for it to get close enough to grab.

Katie got it back out there!

We went to one of the playgrounds in Central Park, too.  The girls loved the spiderweb, and Jack thought the swings were great!  We only played about an hour, but they talked about our time at the playground the rest of the night!

Queen of the mountain!

Little Man LOVED the swings!

My little mountain climber.

We met David at the Apple Store and played there for a bit, then we headed back to our hotel in Harrison, New Jersey.  Jack was so tired by the time we got on the subway.  He made our ride back to the hotel totally miserable!

Jack was SO done by the end of the day!