Monday morning we packed up our belongings and left Bar Harbor early to try and avoid some of the holiday traffic home.
Porscha and I went for a ride with my parents and came across The Scotty Dog. The hot dog stand with car service was adorable and unexpected. The staff welcome you with a smile, are friendly, quick with orders, and make sure everyone is happy with their food.
We've now dined twice at The Scotty Dog and can't complain about anything. We've tried everything from a plain hot dog to a Reuben dog, to sweet potato fries. My personal favorite hot dog is the BLT dog. The BLT dog is a jumbo hot dog wrapped in bacon, topped with lettuce tomato and mayo and served in a french bread roll. It is savory, soft, and has a bit of bite to it. A perfect bite!
Whether dining in your car, sitting at their tables, or taking food to go you can't go wrong with the casual and tasty hot dogs.
Sunday morning we were ready to try somewhere new for breakfast. We decided to try Project Social. Our party of 6 were the first table of the morning and were given a high top. We all ordered coffee which was fine for me but others found it to be a bit too strong (slightly bitter). For entrees we ordered the Basic Breakfast, 3 Pork Belly Benedicts, 2 Brussels Sprouts Hash, a Classic Crepe, and an Apple Crepe.
My pork belly benedict was delicious. The pork was tender, the eggs runny, and the bread thick and crusty. The basic breakfast with blueberry sausage was also enjoyed.
Unfortunately, a few dishes weren't what we hoped they would be. When we hear hash we think of crisp, browned, and melded. The brussels sprouts hash offered boiled brussels sprouts, large chunks of potatoes, and topped with an egg. The dish wasn't visually appealing, nor satisfying. The apple crepe was also not to our liking. The filling states roasted apples however they tasted as if they were poached in wine. The flavor combination was tart and unappealing.
Our breakfast was split 50/50 and so I would try the restaurant again but I would probably return to try out their dinner menu.
While we were at lunch Fred was resting at the house. We picked him up and decided to drive around Acadia National Park again. We ended up driving through the whole park stopping for pictures all along the way. The scenery was beautiful and we were nice and relaxed.
Monday morning we all woke up early and finished packing. Before leaving the house we stripped the beds, piled up the towels, wiped down the kitchen, and took out the trash. On our way out of town we stopped for breakfast to go. Thrive Juice Bar & Kitchen offers juices, smoothies, bowls, as well as snacks. I opted for the Quinoa Beach Bum Bowl (minus banana and adding in strawberry). The fruit was fresh and flavorful however I don't think they rinse their Quinoa before cooking as it had a bitter taste.
Greg chose the PB&J Smoothie which he enjoyed. I did have an impulse buy at the register. I ended up adding 2 vegan peanut butter cookies to my order. Back in the car we ventured south with all the other cars. We did hit traffic home but the 4 hour drive ended up being only 5 hours. Not too shabby!
Another successful family getaway in Bar Harbor! Looking forward to next year!!
We were going to Columbus OH with Fred and my parents for a cousins wedding. Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of time to visit because we had already planned out our days off for other trips.
On Saturday morning we woke up and were at my parents house by 5 a.m. We loaded our stuff into their SUV and settled Fred for the road trip. I am definitely an over-packer and here's where I get it from. For 3 days away we brought 1 small suitcase, my purse, and a tote bag for Fred's stuff. My parents brought a suitcase, hanging bag, hanging clothes, a carry on, a tote bag, a cooler, and a bag full of snacks.
With the car loaded we left their house. We hit our first snag right away. My dad's tire was very low so we circled back to a gas station and filled it up properly. Back on the road we headed out west. We made plenty of stops along the way for gas, food, and walks for Fred and finally arrived in Columbus around 7 p.m.
We pulled up to the Valet of the Hilton Columbus Downtown. The staff helped us with all of our luggage and the car itself. At the check in desk the friendly staff provided us with our key cards, door hanger saying there was a dog in the room, and helped us bring our luggage up.
We reserved a 1 bedroom suite for us and my parents. There was a small entryway with a bathroom off to the left. The living room offered a flat screen tv, wet bar, pull out sofa, and chairs. The bedroom offered a king size bed, sofa, desk, and bathroom.
My parents decided to stay in with Fred and order room service. Greg and I decided to go a block up and get dinner at Bareburger. We checked in without a reservation and had about a 5-10 minute wait. We ordered cocktails and a couple of glasses of water. Greg ordered the Matador (a southwest type burger with pico, guacamole and more) and I customized a burger on a gluten/dairy free bun and dairy free cheese. The service started out great, our meals came out in a reasonable time, and another server asked if we would like refills on our drinks. After we finished our meal it did take a pretty long time for our waiter to come over and ask if we were done and then bring us our check. I understand that the restaurant was very full but it doesn't take long to bring a check and turn over a table for those waiting.
The next morning we woke up and my parents decided to go down to the restaurant for breakfast while we ordered in with Fred. Greg and I ordered the pineapple upside down pancakes and the Nutella stuff french toast. Greg's french toast was delicious but my pancakes ended up having a strange taste. I wonder if the pineapples weren't ripe and therefore left an aftertaste. After breakfast we realized we forgot to pack toothpaste. Greg went down to the front desk where the staff had packages of toothpaste for just such an occasion.
The 4 of us got ready for the wedding and that's when we also realized we forgot shampoo, conditioner, and face wash. We were lucky yet again that the hotel provides toiletries. Our next small disaster was that my mother realized she left the wedding card at home. Greg, myself and Fred walked 15 minutes down the street to CVS and then had a short wait for them to open. There were a couple of really fun pieces of art, architecture and history along the way. Back at the hotel we finished getting ready and made our way to the wedding venue.
The wedding was wonderful! It was a great mix of touching sentiments, laughter, good food, drinks, and family time. We had to leave the wedding a little early because Fred had been left alone and it was time to make him dinner. At the hotel Greg went to our room to take Fred for a walk and I headed to the bar area to order a burger for him. Once again the staff were so helpful and very friendly. I purchased a medium rare burger for Fred and received it quickly.
Greg, myself and my dad went upstairs to the concierge lounge for cocktail hour. We enjoyed a couple of drinks, coconut lobster rolls, and vegetable spring rolls. The food was delicious and the drinks were reasonable. The woman who was working in the lounge was so cheerful and helpful it was a pleasure speaking with her. Later in the evening we came back for some waters and chocolate chip cookies.
With everyone tired and our early departure time we decided to stay in and order room service. Our burgers, sandwiches, and nicoise salad were cooked well, seasoned perfectly, and delivered in a quick time. The Hilton Columbus Downtown is one of the best Hilton's we have stayed at (we're Diamond members who usually book with only Hilton). The staff, rooms, food, and location are well worth the visit!
In the morning we left Columbus and started heading home. The drive home was again filled with laughter, small hiccups, and me dropping my phone into the toilet. Yup! I did that! I suppose there is a first for everything. A phone case thrown out, soap, antibacterial wipes, and a phone standing upright helped bring my phone back from the dead.
We made it back to my parents house where we unloaded the car, loaded our stuff into our car, and went home to get ready for work the next morning.
We made plans to celebrate my sister's birthday at The Cliff House Maine and so we decided to turn it into a long weekend getaway. Instead of staying at The Cliff House we chose Portland Maine. Portland is only 1.5 hours north of Boston on interstate 95, or if you want a leisurely ride take old Route 1 North. The city offers a variety of hotels, quirky stores, amazing restaurants, a lighthouse, a harbor, and so much more.
When getting ready for a trip I used to pack at least 2 weeks before we would be leaving. I would lay out all the things I wanted to bring (from clothes to toiletries) and then add or subtract as the days went on. For some reason I can not pack early anymore! I actually keep packing later and later. On Saturday morning we woke up, packed, took out the trash, and hopped in the car to head north!
Our first stop along the way was in Kittery, Maine. I absolutely love gummy strawberries so we made a quick stop at Yummies Candies and Nuts. For the kid in you or for actually kids, you will find an enormous variety of candy along with some products from Maine. Further up the road we stopped in for some bread for later in the weekend at When Pigs Fly Bakery. I am now obsessed with their Pineapple Jalapeno Bread. The bread is savory, a hint of heat from the jalapenos, and then just a touch of sweet from the pineapples. A perfect bite!
Nearby is Cape Neddick, home to Nubble Lighthouse. The lighthouse is beautiful and we've seen it a ton of times, but whenever we're in the area we always stop for a quick walk and pictures.
We arrived in Portland and pulled up to the valet at Hilton Garden Inn Portland Down Town Waterfront. I have never seen this hotel so busy! Cars were constantly coming and going, people were checking in and out, and the elevators were always busy. I will say the valet staff were working very hard so that customers didn't have a long wait.
We checked into our room and were given vouchers for breakfast (thanks to being Hilton Diamond Members). Our room offered a view of the harbor, a king bed, pull-out couch, desk/chair, microwave, small fridge, and an average size bathroom. The room was clean when we entered and felt pretty well maintained. After the staff cleaned the room the next day we did notice that the floors weren't vacuumed and some items were left behind.
We didn't try the breakfast during our stay but my parents did and it could have been better. The eggs made to order were very good (especially the omelets) but the potatoes were under-cooked.
The staff are friendly, the rooms are clean, bar, room service (after 5 pm), and the location is great. We recommend this hotel for your Portland getaway.
Sunday morning we woke up to at least 3 inches of snow. Last time I checked the weather report it showed just a dusting for Portland (we also had a very slow ride to Portland from The Cliff House Maine the night before). Instead of having breakfast at the hotel we put on our winter gear and headed to The Holy Donut. The Holy Donut makes delicious natural Maine Mashed Potato Donuts!! Inside you will find a variety of flavors, gluten free donuts, and vegan donuts. On this visit I tried the vegan lemon and triple berry donuts. Both donuts were very satisfying but the lemon was the clear winner. The combination of tartness with the sweet glaze was addicting. Greg opted for the dark chocolate sea salt and the maple bacon donuts. I can't recommend a visit to The Holy Donut enough!
On the walk back to our hotel we stopped at Starbucks so I could get my usual Matcha Lemonade. After breakfast we hopped in the car with my parents and tried to get to Portland Head Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the park was still closed and covered in snow. We then had to turn around because just up the road was a 3 car accident and the road was closed.
We decided to drive back to Portland and head to Vervacious. Vervacious is usually a wonderful spice store, unfortunately, it didn't live up to past visits. I was only able to find 1 spice blend in the store. The woman working informed us they were actually out of a lot and hadn't had the spice blends in stock since the holidays.
We quickly popped into Bam Bam Bakery before heading out of Portland again. Bam Bam Bakery offers a lot of gluten and vegan baked goods. We purchased some gluten free rolls for a friend and I opted for a cinnamon and sugar "pop tart."
My mother was really hoping to visit Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and so we decided to enjoy the 20 minute ride to Freeport Maine. We are so glad we did! Freeport is an adorable town and we all agree we definitely want to return for a stay. We popped into LL Bean, Fiore, and my dad enjoyed a crepe for a nearby restaurant.
Back in Portland we were ready for lunch and called in an order to The Thirsty Pig. The four of us ordered a plain hot dog with mustard, the reuben dog, Matt's bbq banh mi, the Lithuanian Kielbasa sandwich, baked beans, and potato salad. All of our sandwiches were good and filling. My sandwich was the Matt's bbq banh mi and it had a wonderful combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, and freshness thanks to the cilantro. I didn't try the baked beans but heard they were good. The potato salad was good but only if you like dill so keep that in mind.
At the hotel we spent the afternoon relaxing with a bottle of wine and good conversations. For dinner we decided on The Honey Paw. The Honey Paw does not skimp on portions and so we actually ended up over-ordering. We ordered the fried wings to start (as well an a 2nd order for Greg's meal). The wings were crispy, salty, and unique with the addition of coconut. One order would have been plenty for us! The scallion pancakes were crispy and savory but a little too salty for me. The other entrees were wonton noodle soup, ramen, and half chicken. The wonton soup was delicious and slightly hot. The noodles were chewy and the wontons were nicely filled. The ramen was delicous and filled with vegetables. The half chicken was outstanding. The chicken was hot, crispy, and full of flavor. I didn't try the accompanying corn bread but more than half of it was definitely gone!
Monday morning we got up and were still full from last nights dinner so we opted for just beverages from Starbucks. While I went inside Greg had a nice chat with a gentleman who was in the area for work but lost his job. Without realizing what the other was doing I bought the man a hot drink and hot sandwich and Greg gave him some money towards a phone card he needed in order to look for work. Instead of just passing by a person looking for help take a second and help them out. Trust me it's a wonderful feeling to make someone else happy.
After saying goodbye to my parents and checking out of the hotel we decided to give a drive to Portland Head Lighthouse/Fort Williams Park another try. I'm so glad we did Fort Williams Park has walking trails, ruins, and fabulous ocean views. Portland Head Light house is stunning and provides wonderful pictures. We can't wait to return when the weather is warmer!
We continued on south and decided to stop back into When Pigs Fly Bakery for a loaf of bread for home. I was thrilled to see my delicious Pineapple Jalapeno Bread again. I also picked up their German Sourdough for breakfasts.
Back at home we unpacked the car, started laundry, got groceries at Whole Foods, and settled in to watch Wonder. It was the perfect end to a great long weekend!
Very early this morning we crawled out of bed and poured into the car for the start of our very long ride home. Today would take us from Utah through Colorado and into Omaha NE. It wasn't my best day at all. During the morning ride I ended up having an anxiety attack. The worst part of having anxiety is you never truly know when these situations will occur (at least not for me). Sometimes its brought on by something happening right then and there, sometimes its built up over time, and sometimes it happens for no real reason. Luckily with the help of a rest area sink I could splash myself with water, walk around a bit and try to calm down. After that I ended up falling asleep and I was out cold. I woke up when we were entering the Denver area. Sadly we didn't have any time but it would have been nice to stop and see family who live in the area.
Our next longer stop was in Kearney NE. Quite a few years ago we were driving from Boston to Colorado and we happened upon an amazing donuts shop! Delight Donuts is still there today but we found out that they close at noon. Needless to say my parents were disappointed they couldn't try the amazing donuts a 2nd time. We did go next door for some shopping at the Stagecoach. Here we found t-shirts, wooden gift sets, and several other goodies.
Pulling into Omaha NE we were in search of our hotel for the night. We had a reservation for the Home2Suites by Hilton Omaha West. We booked 2 rooms one being pet friendly. Wewere given 311 and 313 which were king bed studio's. The hotel was very clean, the rooms were of good size, and the rooms offered the usually amenites. The hotel is in a convenient area. There are lots of restaurants and shopping nearby.
For dinner we decided to order from the nearby Cheeseburger in Paradise. The restaurant staff was friendly, efficient, and very accommodating to my allergies. The food was fresh, hot, and flavorful.
The next morning we got up really early for our drive to Ohio. We had pre-booked a hotel in Ohio for the night before finally making it to Boston. We all had an amazing, exhausting, unique, challenging 2 week vacation but we also recognized we were ready to be home and out of the car. Why not just drive straight home?! I hopped on my phone, cancelled our hotel reservation, and settled in for the long drive. It was really nice to be home so early. We slept in a bit, go unpacked, and went to get groceries for the week. We enjoyed Sunday night in before back to reality on Monday morning.
It's now February 2017 and I've been reliving these memories as I write our story. I truly wish to go back and do this same itinerary. There is just something about the Southwest and those incredible rock formations that call to me. I usually find peace in the oceans (especially in the British Virgin Islands) but hiking in these serene settings is truly relaxing.