Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire

August 11 - 17, 2014

The grand kids have gone home.  Brian and I are rambling around the east coast on our own schedule, which means no schedule and no itinerary.  This is how we love to travel whether on land or the water.  Spend as much time as we want in an area and then pick our next destination.  We love to drive around small towns and neighborhoods to see how people live in different parts of the country.    

First stop -- Long Island, NY.  We recognized the names of many of the towns and weren't disappointed in their quaint charm.  
Colorful farmer's markets in most
of the towns -- it was a Thursday. 

They aren't pretty, but they have lots of personality
and delicious food!

One thing that does alter our route is the list of Seafood Shacks in Coastal Living magazine.  Each year they publish a list of the best shacks in the coastal states.  We try to eat in as many of them as possible. 

Newport, Rhode Island -- cute downtown and the fabulous mansions.
The Breakers

Laurelawn - A widow's cabin

Even the fences are over the top

Did I mention--signs we've never seen before?

Entering Cape Cod, Massachusetts:  one cute little town after another, sweeping beaches, winding tree lined roads and every bay had hundreds of boats moored. 

I was expecting something much more impressive.

Arriving in Plymouth, we found Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II (an exact replica of the original).

This large monument built around 'the rock' keeps
graffiti artists away and makes sure the tourists
find it.  
The original Mayflower was chartered
by the Pilgrims for the trip.  It took 66
days to cross, but they lived on board
for most of 9 months.  The ship left
England in September 1620 and
arrived in America November 9, 1620.  

The 25 - 30 crew members lived above 
deck.  Some with private 
The 102 Pilgrims were not allowed on the
main deck. They lived in one large room
with little light or fresh air and a few animals.

This is the kitchen!  A live fire to cook
food for about 127 people.  Who's hungry
 for hot dogs and samores?  Wow, this
is roughing it!  

In April 1621 the Mayflower left for
 England.  None of the colonists
 returned home.

The commuter train was a quick 25 minute 
trip into downtown Boston.

We arrived at South Station in the heart of Boston.

This beautiful boulevard of green space led us
 to Quincy Market. 

A last minute decision led us to Boston.  We had vacationed here about 18 years ago and loved the fact that it was a walking city.  Most of the historical sights are within a small radius and it is well organized for tourists to do a self guided tour following the Freedom Trail.  Of course, we had a bit more stamina 18 years ago! 
Quincy Market, a great place for a casual meal.
Vendors line the interior with all 
varieties of
food.  We had breakfast.  It is referred to as "The
Cradle of Liberty"

The brick stripes in the sidewalk clearly mark the
Freedom Trail.

The Old State House built in 1713
was the seat of Colonial government.
The Declaration of Independence was
first read here.
The Old South Meeting House was built
in 1729 as a Puritan meeting house.
Benjamin Franklin was baptized here and,
it is where Samuel Adams signaled the

   start of the Boston Tea Party.  

This statue of Benjamin Franklin
was the first portrait statue erected
in America.  It is on the site of the
first public school -- 1635.
Boston Commons is the oldest public park in the
country.  It was set aside in 1634 as a military
 training field and grazing pasture.  
The home of Paul Revere from 1770 - 1800.  Built in
1680 it is the oldest home in Boston.

The Italian District....a street of delicious
restaurants and the pungent 
smell of garlic.

The Old North Church is the oldest
standing church in Boston.  Built in 1723.
On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere hung two
lanterns in the steeple signaling the
Redcoats would attack by sea.

A statue of Paul Revere riding towards
a church bell he created. 

Downtown Portland --
Only a man would name a restaurant
Fat Belly's!

Kiara, Larry and Cooper introduced us to their fun
city.  Kiara will officially be Larry's daughter soon.

Wow, I am really getting a history and geography lesson on this trip!  I hate to admit how much I have forgotten since high school.  Again, I was reminded how small some of these states are. New Hampshire is a very narrow piece of land at the coast.  It took less than an hour to drive from one neighboring state to the other.  That's Massachusetts to Maine in case anyone else is as confused as I am. 

We met Larry, a college friend of Jennifer's  in beautiful Portland, New Hampshire.  When we arrived on Sunday morning around 10:30, most of the parking lots were already filled.  The town is loaded with cute stores and restaurants.  Definitely one of those destinations for a Sunday drive.....apparently I'm not the first one to think of that! 

Leaving Portland we crossed a bridge and saw the sign welcoming us to Maine.  It didn't actually say 'Jackie and Brian Smillie, Welcome to Maine'.  It was a more general message.  We still felt the love!     

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good-bye New York....Hello Mystic Seaport!

August 7 - 11, 2014

After our big adventure on the Today Show, we wandered around NYC.  Jennifer and I laughed about being recognized, which wasn't happening.  We selected a restaurant, walked in and the receptionist went crazy because she recognized us!  She was so nice, organizing the tables so both of the kids could have royal seats and wine glasses.  Mid-afternoon we checked out of the hotel.  Jennifer left for the airport and we took off with the kids.  Next stop Mystic Seaport, Connecticut.  

Replica rowing boat used to
harpoon whales.

Mystic Seaport is a recreated 19th century boat building and whaling village. We toured historic sailing ships and buildings that depicted life 100 years ago.  The film about harpooning a whale with a row boat was such a favorite we watched it twice.  That was one wild ride!  A hand thrown harpoon hits the whale.  The whale takes off at full speed dragging the small boat behind it before circling around the boat throwing all of the men in the water and dying.  Then the real work begins as the whalers have to drag the dead whale back to the ship, which is miles away! 

We'd like to have a cannon like this
installed on Gotta Smile.  I think it would
send a message -- don't mess with us!

We are all exhausted.
Slow down and relax at the beach!
Time to go home -- school starts in two days.
Ian flew to LaGuardia to pick them up.

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New York, NY

August 3 - 7, 2014
Love those buses!

We left Detroit on Sunday the 3rd of August and drove to New Jersey.  Our daughter and her two children flew into LaGuardia at noon on Monday and met us at the hotel ready to begin sightseeing.  Thank God for the double decker sightseeing buses!  Two day passes for everyone helped get us around along with cabs, the subway and miles of walking!  We were totally exhausted every day, but  I think we saw everything on the kids' must see list plus a big surprise!

Christopher is reading a series of books
about Greek mythology.  We stumbled
onto this display of Greek gods.  He loved
explaining who they were.
Any building in NYC that is over 5 stories tall;
must have a water tower on it's roof.

The Flat Iron building -- one of my favorites.

Lunch at the famous hot dog restaurant, Bark.

The flagship Lego store

Equal time at the American Girl store
On top of the Empire State Building

Looking at the Chrysler Building from
the top of the Empire State Building.

The Statue of Liberty from the Stanton Island Ferry

A few minutes to relax on the ferry.

Ground Zero

Catching the subway in Grand Central Station

We ran up the stairs to Grant's Tomb
at 4:55.  It closed at 5.  This was a must
see for Christopher.  Luckily we made it!
For a full year I have been talking about going to the Today Show, when we visit NYC. I had a plan that included signs and pirate masks.  Thursday mornings the show does a makeover segment and they choose two women from the audience to participate.  I wanted to be one of those women!  We got up at 5:30 and were walking to Rockefeller Center by 6:15.  There was already a large crowd when we arrived.  I assembled our group with the kids holding signs.  "My Grandma and Grandpa live on a boat.  I think they are pirates!" "My Grandma needs a makeover. Please remove her mustache!"  Brian and I put on our pirate masks.  Obviously, I have no pride and will do anything to make the cut.  As the show representatives were looking around the audience, I began wildly waving my arms, pointing to our masks and the signs.  When they came over, they said "this one needs to be on -- no one has ever done this before!"  We made the cut!  We would all be on TV!  For the next three hours I was treated like a celebrity:  wardrobe, hair and makeup.  Because I knew I would be self-conscious walking out of the stage, I decided to ham it up: strutting out and waving both arms like I just won an election.  When I got out there, I saw the family all wearing masks.  Standing next to Hoda and Kathy Lee I waited for their reaction to my new look when the masks were removed.  Brian's response was fabulous!  Then it was time for me to look in the mirror and see what they had done.  I exclaimed, "I look like my high school photo".  They worked a miracle -- they made a silk purse from a sow's ear.  I looked 20 years younger.  Unfortunately, my worker bees did not agree to live with me for the rest of my life so I could look that good every day.  It was a great experience for all of us.  One we will never forget -- mostly because I replay the segment every day.  The crew that put me together were exceptionally nice and supportive.  I'm so glad that I didn't chicken out at the last minute (I thought about it).  This is my year to 'face my fears'!  The class reunion was the first fear and this was the second.  I may have to continue with this theme for the rest of my days.  It's working out really well!                   


Producer with my handlers
Hair and makeup

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!
Time for the reveal..... If you would like to watch the segment, here's the clip.