Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New England Foliage Tour

My bucket list has always included a trip to New England to tour and drive through when the fall foliage was at its peak.  This year, we were able to see fall foliage just as it was starting to turn into vibrant oranges, yellows and reds.

The REAL purpose of the trip to the northeast wasn't just to see the fall foliage.  It was to see our friends that had recently returned to the States after a 4 year stint in Europe (Denmark and Germany).  While in Europe, my friend Tara was always a source for humor when the craziness of living abroad get the best of you.  She was also the source of the famous April Fool's Day joke where she convinced all of her fellow expats that were longing for Target, that Target was indeed, opening a store in Horsens, Denmark.  I fell for it.  Hook. Line. Sinker.  Sigh.  But, despite making me feel so gullible, she remained a great friend.

I must admit, I lobbied heavily for her to move to the Northeast...it gives me an excuse to see another part of the great United States...and of course, Tara and her family :-)

A few pictures from our tour.

Montpelier, Vermont

Covered bridge in Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont pedestrian bridge

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

While hubs was stuck in a convention hall at a conference, I headed west to Old Salem, near Winston-Salem.  I was envisioning something similar to Heritage Hill in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which btw is where my sister was married.

I was surprised to find Old Salem's historic buildings smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood and a liberal arts women's college (Old Salem Academy and College).

A few pictures from Old Salem...

Raleigh, North Carolina

In September, we traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina for a week.  Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the capitol building is situated similar to Madison, Wisconsin's capitol with a major street leading right up to the building.  In Madison, State Street, a pedestrian street, with some limited access vehicle traffic is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and has an overall college-town vibe.  In Raleigh, Fayette Street leads up to the capitol building.  It's not technically a pedestrian street; however it does close periodically for events.  The sidewalks are large and encourage pedestrian traffic flow.

While in Raleigh, I stumbled upon some lovely places.

Stitch - Who can pass up a purse made by a designer with your same first name?  Not me!  Stitch is the storefront for a local graphic designer, Holly Aiken, who makes some gorgeous purses.  I spent a small fortune, but walked away with two purses, 2 tablet covers, and 2 smart phone covers.  Thank goodness she has a website to feed my new addiction.  My new purses are the Coupe Paspartou in Avocado/Olive and the Coupe Poppy in Tomato/Gunmetal.

Dos Taquitos el Centro - Just down the street from Stitch is a small Mexican restaurant.  In a word, YUM!  Holly (from Stitch) wrote down a list of restaurants that she recommended and this was at the top of the list, so we decided to give it a try.  El Centro takes a classic dish and puts a little modern spin on it.  I had the three enchiladas plate. One enchilada was chicken with a spicy green salsa that has a nice sweetness to it.  One was beef with a smoky chipotle sauce and the last one was black bean with a white creamy cheese sauce.  Yum!  Oh, and for the record, the margaritas were quite tasty.

The Pit - If you read the guidebooks and tourist pamphlets, they all recommend the Pit for North Carolina BBQ.  Perhaps we are a bit spoiled or our palettes are now refined, but this was good, but not great.  The rib meat fell off the bone...which is a clear sign that it's been steamed too long.  The meat was tender and had great flavor, but it was more steamed than smoked.  However, given the size of the restaurant and the packed tables / reservation demand, I understand that it would be next to impossible to keep up with the orders for meat right from the BBQ pit.

 The capitol building

 A nearby church

 Fayette street leading from the Capitol to a performance hall

Sand sculpture near the capitol

Thursday, October 18, 2012

North Carolina Coastal Cities

Last month, we spent a week in North Carolina.  The bulk of the time was spent in Raleigh, where hubs attended a conference.  I toured some of the surrounding towns and we managed to take a quick trip to the coast.

Our first stop was Wilmington and Carolina Beach.  Wilmington seemed to be a very industrial city and reminded me of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The downtown area appears to be starting a 'comeback;' however, there is still room to grow.  After a quick walk on the boardwalk next to the Cape Fear River, we drove to Carolina Beach.   What a lovely area!  The sandy beach is great for walking...unlike Cancun beaches where each step results in sinking about 8 inches!  A few pictures from Carolina Beach...


We also made our way to OBX, the Outer Banks.  North Carolina has some wonderful beaches. I think I managed to find no fewer than 5 homes that I wanted to buy.  Homes on stilts with beautiful sand dunes and soft sand beaches are absolutely lovely.  Here are a few pictures from Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras National Park...

Sunset near Kitty Hawk

 Sunset near Kitty Hawk

 Nags Head beach

Sunrise in Kitty Hawk

 Sunrise from our hotel balcony in Kitty Hawk

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weekend getaway to Door County

One of my favorite places in Wisconsin is Door County.  Perhaps I am a bit spoiled as it is a mere hour away from where I grew up, so I was fortunate to spend a considerable amount of time there.

The downfall with being so familiar and comfortable with a particular location is my tendency to forget my camera, slow down, and capture my surroundings.  The pictures below are from the town of Ephraim.  Perhaps next summer I'll remember my camera :-)

My favorite store is Wood Orchard Market; a cute roadside barn that carries everything from dried cherries to various jams, jellies, dressings to homemade cherry crisp and fabulous fudge.  This year we were there for the amazing Sweetango apples.  These hybrid apples are sweet, crisp, and given the price per pound you would think they were dusted in gold!

A few of my other favorites...

In Fish Creek
Cooper's Corner for lunch
Fat Louie's olive oil and balsamic
White Gull Inn for amazing stuffed french toast and their Candlelight Dinners (the White Gull House Salad is wonderful!)
Shopping at Beach People and On Deck clothing store
Wild Tomato grilled pizza

In Egg Harbor
Shipwrecked Micro Brewery for lunch and a beer (also a stop on the haunted pub trolley)

Surprise Weekend in Galena, Illinois

As always...I'm a tad tardy in posting....but I'm going to do my best to get back on track and catch up with travel posts.

I've already gone on record stating that my husband is a pretty good travel-planner.  It might have something to do with the fact that he knows what he wants to do and just whips out the plastic; whereas I go through this painstaking process of finding the best 'deal.'  In any event, hubs planned a wonderful trip to Galena, Illinois.

Here is his itinerary.  I won't comment.

In the event that you cannot read his lovely handwriting.  His itinerary includes the Galena Farmer's Market, an Alpine slide, the Irish Cottage hotel, wine tasting at Galena Cellars, possible dinner at Durty Gurts and a balloon ride.  Not too shabby.

While living in Europe, we found an alpine slide on our travels in Switzerland.  It was a.maz.ing!  We each hopped on a sled and made our way down the hillside surrounded by big brown Swiss cows, complete with huge bells hanging from their neck.  Our second encounter with the alpine slide was at the Great Wall of China.  Sooo much fun!  Chuck found an alpine slide at Chestnut Mountain just outside of Galena.

We made our way to Galena Cellars on the north side of Galena.  After a wine tour and tasting, we bought some wine and sat on the covered porch for a few hours.  It just so happened that the bike race route went past the winery, so we also cheered on the participants.

A few pictures from our trip.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Balloon Ride in Galena, Illinois

We were up at the crack of dawn, literally.  We were up at 4am, at the balloon launch site by 4:50am, and up in the air by 5:10am.  Our pilot/captain was Andy from Buy a balloon ride.  He and his staff were very friendly and professional...and kept us safe, which is always a good thing!

The basket can hold 14 people, plus Andy; however our group was 4 on one side and 6 on the other.  It would be quite crowded at 14 people, so hopefully your group is 10-12 people so everyone has a little extra room.

The early morning flight is nice, but I think I want to try an evening/dusk flight as photographic conditions and lighting are usually a bit better.  It was hot and humid, so several of my pictures have a bit of a 'haze.'

Watching the balloon inflate 

 Celebratory champagne toast after landing (and the basket)

 The balloon's shadow

The morning sun peaking through the clouds

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Typical Tourists in Memphis

We were the typical tourists in Memphis...
  • Civil Rights Museum
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Rode the trolleys / streetcars
  • Beale Street
  • BBQ - we chose A&R, YUM!
  • Ducks at the Peabody Hotel

 The view from our room was of Mud Island.

 Sunset from the room

The botanical gardens

 If you fake like you're going to toss in food, the carp come swimming up quickly!

Civil Rights Museum

The ducks making their way from the 'penthouse' down the elevator and on the red carpet before landing in the central fountain