Park City, UT Vacation – Summer 2018

Hey friends!  So, this post has been a long time coming, but not near as long as some other vacation posts.  Ahem…ahem…my 2017 East Coast Road Trip post.  SMH.

This last summer, I was invited to visit my friends – the Ackermans – at their home in Deer Valley.  A chance to get out of Houston in August?  SIGN. ME. UP.  Maureen, Jeff, Jadyn, & Hudson spend their summers in Deer Valley, & then visit a few other times a year.  Lucky them, right!  Our plan was for me to fly up to SLC, spend a week vacationing, & then drive back to Houston with Maureen while Jeff was in Europe for work.

Day One

I arrived around lunchtime in Salt Lake City, UT, Maureen picked me up & we headed up the mountain to her home in Deer Valley.  We dropped off my stuff, grabbed Jeff, & headed back down to Park City (proper) to pick up Jadyn from Drama Camp.  Park City was setting up for the annual Kimball Arts Festival, so we walked around & grabbed a snack & a beer.

Day Two

Maureen, Jadyn, & I headed to Mona, UT to the Young Living Lavender Farm!  This was the one thing I asked Maureen to do.  At this point I was about 3 months in to my YL journey, so I was super excited to go here.  The drive was stunning through Midway, UT.

Funnily enough, when we made it to the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona, UT Maureen said she’d seen this place several times and always wanted to stop.  We are so simpatico that we both wanted to go to the same place & didn’t know it!

We got to take a tour of the distillery to see how the oils are made; Young Living is known for their Seed to Seal practice.  I didn’t take any pictures of this part, I was too busy learning.  However, after the distillery tour were we able to go on a self guided tour of the grounds.  They hold a few events here throughout the year, so it was more than what I thought a lavender farm would be…

Sunflowers will be a theme throughout this trip.

I wish I had taken a picture of the YL gift shop.  For you oily lovers out there, it is all the praise hands & fist bump emojis.  This farm convinced Maureen to sign up for her Premium Starter Kit!  Now she’s almost as obsessed as me!

We got back to Deer Valley mid afternoon.  Full disclosure, we were pretty shaken up when we got home.  En route back to Deer Valley we witnessed a really scary car accident.  We did call 911, but we quickly learned that lots of people had called it in.  Just thinking about it now still gives me the heebie jeebies.

We rested for a bit & then headed to Deer Valley Ampitheater to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy!  If you like big band music or jazz, they are a must!  This was such a blast!

Day Three

The next day was the last day of the Kimball Arts Festival, so we headed back into town.  You know we had to do & see all the things.  We all bought a couple pieces.

Another day, another sunflower…

Later that afternoon, we met up with one of Maureen’s long time friend, also named Casey, & her family.  It’s a good name.  They took us out on the Jordanelle Reservoir for some tubing.  I happily waved the flag when someone fell off the tube.

Day Four

We took a day to relax.  Jeff taught me how to make Matzo Ball Soup!  He makes the. best. soup.  I tried to make this when I got home & it was terrible.  Sad face.

This was our view while cooking. view

If only I could have this view all the time!

Day Five

While Jadyn was at Drama Camp, Maureen & I want on a chill 3.8 mile hike up the mountain.  No biggie.  Y’all, I can’t emphasize enough how beautiful this place is.

Our view from the top was spectacular.  The photos are a bit hazy because of the wildfires around SLC & the smoke blowing in from the California wildfires.

We rewarded ourselves by taking the chairlift back down the mountain, and with a beer, herb & Parmesan fries, & street corn guacamole at Royal Street Cafe.  Don’t mind if I do. hike 19

Day Six

The next day was another low key day.  We spent our time toodling around town while Jadyn was at Camp.  We stopped by the Farmer’s Market & a few other shops.

Can you guess my favorite flower?

Hudson enjoyed a day sunbathing. hudson

That evening we hung out with Maureen’s amazing neighbors, Rida & Sterling!

Day Seven

The next morning Maureen & I dropped Jadyn off at camp & headed to Ulinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest for a beautiful hike.  We were on a mission – To. See. A. Moose.  Y’all know that I am OBSESSED with moose.  Saying I love them is an understatement.

What do I spy in the distance…moose

I’m getting closer…moose 7

The park ranger informed us that this was Martha, the grandma moose of the Moose Family that lives in the park.  Y’all, Martha was a boss.  She swam across the lake & walked along the path with all the people, Northern Exposure style.

This was the best day EVER!

And, it only got better!  That night we headed back to Deer Valley Ampitheater to see Phil Phillips & Gavin DeGraw.  I was totally unfamiliar with Phil, but he did a great cover of Wicked Game.  Gavin DeGraw was awesome!  Jeff is a huge fan of Gavin’s, so he got there early to reserve us the best spot on the hillside!  After the concert, I took Jadyn up to the stage & she got a picture with Gavin DeGraw.  She’s 12, so I thought it was time she learned how to “meet the band.”  I basically shoved her through space, where light shown through, to get closer to the front.  He sang all his classics, my personal favorites are Follow Through and In Love With a Girl.

Day Eight

We spent the majority of Friday morning packing up the house.  Around lunch time we headed to Jadyn’s play, what she had been working towards all week!  There were several scenes from several plays, with kiddos of all ages.  Jadyn’s showcase, Peter Pan, was obviously the best – she is such a great singer.  One group of kids made Hamlet hilarious.  How Hamlet is funny I don’t know, but we were dying. Jadyn got an award for her hard work for the week!  Way to go Jadyn!

Day Nine

We packed up the car and Maureen, Jadyn, Hudson, & I drove back to Texas.  Meanwhile, Jeff jetted off to The Netherlands.

It did get a little scary between Salt Lake City and Moab; there was a lot of smoke and warnings about the wildfires.  For long stretches, we were the only car going South…it made us nervous.  But, we made it to Moab. wilson arch

We stopped for lunch & did a little shopping.  Hudson especially liked the shopping.

After driving through beautiful Moab, rain, & really ugly parts of Colorado & New Mexico, we made it to Albuquerque, NM where we spent the night in a converted hospital.  Not to worry, if our room was haunted we slept through it.

The next day, we had a quick breakfast, loaded up the car, & headed off to Texas.  It was a long drive of not much to look at.

We determined that if we kept following the railroad tracks, we’d never get lost.  Once in Texas, it pretty much rained on us the whole way home.  We were so wishing that rain would make it’s way West to help out the wildfires.  We pulled into my driveway at midnight.  You forget how big Texas is, until you have to drive across it.  Needless to say, I went into work around 10a, instead of my usual 7a.

I can’t wait to get back to Park City!  My next goal is to go during a different season – I hear that the Fall foliage is stunning.  Maureen – maybe we go for your birthday this year???  Thanks so much for a fantastic trip!

Have any of you been to Park City?

Until next time…  traveling

Kiss Hug,

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East Coast Road Trip – October 2017

Okay y’all, I am so fired!  My intention was always to post my East Coast Road Trip!  I mean it was on my Bucket List after all.  I’ve always wanted to see New England in the Fall…I blame Gilmore Girls.  Fall in TX

So, when I started getting Facebook “Memories” from this trip, I realized I never did an actual blog post!  I’m the worst.  So fired!  But, as they say, better late than never!  Right?  RIGHT?

This trip was with my friends Brigitte & Jessica, and we met up with our friend Norma – we all used to work together.  You’ll see how this all works out as you read down.  After many, many phone calls & emails to plan this trip, Brigitte & I flew to Fayetteville, NC to meet up with Jessica.  From there, our adventure began.  Keep in mind, until New Hampshire, we spent >24 hours in each city.

Here is a picture of our planned itinerary. Planned Calendar

Someone (me) over planned, so this is what we actually ended up doing.  Actual Calendar

Once we landed in Fayetteville, we basically hit the ground running.  We took off for Washington DC.  Map 1We really tried to stay at inns instead of big box chain hotels, & the Tabard Inn fit the bill perfectly.  It was old & historical, there was no elevator, our room had antique furniture, the floors creaked…it was so quaint.  Hotel Tabard Inn

Our view from the room.

After we hauled our luggage up to the 4th floor, we had a light dinner & a bottle of wine at the Inn’s restaurant.  They also had a wedding reception in progress while we were there.

The next morning we got up early & went to the Smithsonian museum.  Y’all, this was easily my favorite museum from our trip.  EASILY.   We each chose at least 1 museum/educational venture on this trip that we really wanted to see.  The Smithsonian was my pick & it did not disappoint!

Full disclosure, I’m much more of a history & art buff than science, so the Smithsonian was right up my alley.  There was so much to see & I didn’t take a ton of pictures here…I was learning.

My take away from DC, was that I’d like to go back (maybe in the spring), & go on a National monuments tour.   Also, the traffic round-a-bouts are nuts.

We left Washington DC mid-afternoon & headed north to New York City!  Map 2

IMG_0243

Here we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Upper East Side.  It was the most affordable option & had parking, which was a must for us being on a road trip & all.  It was clean, it was nice, & we felt safe.Courtyard Marriott

See the red building in picture?  We had a super inexpensive, but tasty, sushi dinner there.  It was just a neighborhood sushi joint.  Not going to lie, having never been to NYC, I was super underwhelmed.  I thought it was really dirty.  That being said, there were lots of cute dogs, as Brigitte pointed out.  HA!

The next morning we got up, packed the car, & headed to the National Science & History Museum (Brigitte’s pick).  This place was massive.  It was also a school holiday, so LOTS of kids.

After awhile, I was kinda like “you’ve seen one dinosaur, you’ve seen them all.”  Then, I happened upon this view.

Those trees are Central Park!  This museum took us all day, & I know we didn’t see all of it, but we needed to get on the road to Mystic, CT.

I need to go back to NYC, that should be a trip on it’s own, not a stop over.  Note to self for your future road trip!

During our drive to Connecticut, it was the first time we thought it looked like Fall.  Map 3It became a running joke that every time we saw Fall colored leaves, we’d say something along the lines of “Oh look, there’s Fall.”  Over and over.  IMG_0276

One of my favorite movies is Mystic Pizza, so I asked Brigitte & Jessica if we could eat there.  I had heard that the pizza wasn’t great, but I personally thought it was really good.  What does a Texan know about good pizza though?

We stayed at the Inn at Mystic.  The Inn at Mystic

The next morning we got up early & headed to the Mystic Aquarium (Jessica’s pick).  The beluga whales were a big hit!

Mystic was quintessential New England.  I could have stayed in Mystic the rest of the time.  Definitely going back & exploring the town some more.

But, we had places to be in Boston, so off we went…to our Air BnB.  Map 4Y’all, this place was a fun house.  It was an old walk-up on the edge of Chinatown.  Obviously our apartment was on the top floor, because we never do things easy.  Every surface was slanted one way or another.  I slept on a futon & kept rolling off because the floors were so wonky.  Boston lodging is very, very expensive, but I recommend paying for an actual hotel.

We quickly dropped our bags & headed to Cheers!  Oddly enough, no one knew our names.  Sad day.  However, we did meet up with Samantha & Amanda, my now step-sisters.  I feel too old to say that.

They gave us a great walking tour of Boston from Cheers to the North End (aka Little Italy).   On our walk, we came upon the New England Holocaust Memorial, which you can walk through.  To say it was stunning is an understatement.  The noise of the city fell away.  Holocaust Memorial

IMG_0295

These six columns represent the six million Jews killed in concentration camps & the six main camps (there were more than 6); you walk along a path that looks like grates over embers, which periodically release steam to mimic the gas chambers.  Each victim’s tattooed number is etched in the glass.  Just writing about this is making me tear up.  This little spot in the middle of Boston was more meaningful & educational to me than anything I saw in a museum on this whole trip.  You can learn more about it here: NEHM

Once in Little Italy, we waited, along with everyone else, to eat at cute Italian restaurant that held maybe 40 people.  Samantha’s boyfriend Jay met up with us…he was the token guy.  While we waited Samantha took us to Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli, my first!  I got almond…I’m not a huge fan of anything with a cream filling, but this was amazing!

After Boston, we headed to Kennebunkport, Maine & made a pit stop in Salem, Massachusetts on the way.  Map 5We didn’t really have any agenda in Salem.  We were going to take a tour of the Witch Trials museum, but there was a long wait.  We accidentally (maybe fortuitously) saw that there was a psychic convention going on, I use that term VERY loosely.  By convention, I mean that there were three psychics in the weird arts & crafts mall.  One for each of us!  During this time Jessica lost her iPhone, funnily enough the psychic couldn’t tell us where it was.  Hmmm.

We asked a local for a good place to eat lunch, after searching for an hour or so for the phone.  We were ready for a cocktail.  I mostly remember that B & I shared really good nachos, & Jessica had a really good Fall mimosa…

You could probably skip Salem.  It was fun…until it wasn’t.

Next up, we got back on the road to Kennebunkport, Maine.  Map 6Y’all, I literally looked into how I could move here before we even got checked in at our Inn.  We all agreed that KBP was our FAVORITE stop.  We stayed at the cutest inn, The Lodge on the Cove, & it was amazing!!!  I’d like to move in permanently.

We arrived around dinner time, & we were hangry so we headed to the Clam Shack, which was closed.  We ended up eating a mediocre dinner at a place behind the Clam Shack that was less than memorable.  Sorry!  We also found one store in town that was still open, & we stocked up on Christmas ornaments!

The next morning, we had breakfast at the inn before heading into town for some shopping.  We were barely starting to feel some Fall weather here.  This town was sooooo cute!  Everyone told us to eat lunch at Alison’s, so we promptly put ourselves on the list.  Y’all, one word…LAHBSTER.  Each of us orders a dish with lobster, plus lobster poutine as an appetizer.  I’m pretty sure we ate everything, licked our fingers & the plates clean.  Run, don’t walk, to Alison’s.  You will not be sorry.

Somehow, we managed to squeeze in ice cream too from Rococo Ice Cream.  IMG_0312

After eating our way through Kennebunkport, we opted to take the scenic route to Lincoln, New Hampshire to Norma’s House!  To know me is to know that I love a scenic route.  Map 7

We stopped along the way to take pictures of pretty rocks, or shale as Brigitte, the geologist, informed us.  This was somewhere in the White Mountains.

We continued on to Norma’s house in Lincoln, a perfectly quaint New Hampshire town.

Since, it’s been over a year I can’t remember exactly what order we did things, so here’s a list:

  1. We ate our weight in pancakes at Poll’y Pancake Parlor Polly's Pankcake Parlor
  2. We hiked up a mountain.
  3. We shopped in town.
  4. We hiked near a river.
  5. We went Moose Calling.  We were looking for this: IMG_0332 (1)Norma’s friends had seen these beauties the evening we got into town.  We went looking too, but instead we learned that Brigitte doesn’t know the difference between a deer, a donkey & a llama, nor a goat & a cat.  Jessica is also the best at animal calls.  We laughed so hard in Norma’s car, I think we all left a little pee behind.  Hahaha!
  6. We did a quick little hike from Norma’s house…2 miles later…  Guess who didn’t bring tennis shoes or hiking boots?  I’m raising my hand.
  7. I collected a lot of leaves.
  8. Jessica cooked us an authentic Italian dinner.
  9. We learned that pork rinds with lime juice is pretty good. IMG_0333
  10. We found a covered bridge!

Before leaving New Hampshire, we had a few discussions about going back to some of our favorite places, instead of going back to DC.  We nixed all of that, & on the recommendation of one of Norma’s friends, we drove to Tom’s River, NJ.  He said it was one of the most beautiful places he’d been – that was a direct quote.  Now, I’m not sure I fully agree with that, but we did stalk Bon Jovi & saw some really fancy houses.

Less than 24 hours later, we were back on the road to Jessica’s house in North Carolina.  We picked up her dog Waffles from the kennel, order Thai food, & gave ourselves facials.  It was exactly the way a long trip should end.

Lessons learned from our trip:

  1. Maybe just start in Connecticut.
  2. You can pay tolls with pennies.
  3. Don’t attempt to move heavy furniture by yourself.

Next time I go to the East Coast, I will be making my way around Connecticut for a Gilmore Girls experience…I’ll probably be on that trip alone.

Once again, I apologize that this is soooooooooooo late.  If you have great places I should see the next time I go to the East Coast, please share!

Kiss Hug,

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