May 3, 2015
What an amazing day! Waking up in North Carolina to Parker's 6th birthday was lovely, and he was very excited although his understanding of what would happen was a little cloudy. He was asking about cake, and presents, and having us sing to him. We explained we'd be getting a cupcake later on, and that presents would come on a different day. But today, we were going to the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo!
This was a great idea that Sara had, because it was the only day we could get together, and she knew that the rodeo was happening on that day. It was absolutely perfect, because I have never eaten anything from a food truck before! It features heavily on my bucket list, and has been something I was dying to do. In New Hampshire there just aren't that many food trucks, and they almost certainly are not where I ever am. So I'm way behind the times! The rest of the country has been consumed with the food truck trend, but of course things are slow to come to New England. And how hard could it be?? REALLY? You don't even need a building! Lame.
What a journey to get there! Kelly picked us up at the house, and then we drove to Sara's house, and from there we drove again to Raleigh where we parked nearby in the Marriott underground parking garage. By the time we finally got there (around 2:00), the kids were starving in a bad way. I felt bad because it had been a legitimately long time since breakfast, and they were fading fast.
We meandered through the masses of people trying to look at the food trucks to decide what lengthy line to get in, and they sprawled along a half-mile stretch of road. As we passed truck after truck, the kids were getting frantic, and Drew was in tears and he goes, "Can we start ordering food now????" So we found the Master Bacon truck which they liked the sound of, and we got in line, and split up with the rest of the group who all mostly went back to the start of the line. And we waited and waited and waited as they fought over the one and only pair of sunglasses we had. Finally we were up and I ordered 3 different things because I knew we'd never be able to wait in another line at another truck. This would have to be our only order! Luckily the food was great and HUGE.
Early in the morning we were awake and ready to go! Ready to hit the airport and get on our way to North Carolina! Wow, Parker and Drew look completely homeless in these pictures:
We had a 2 hour flight to Charlotte, which was an eternity to Parker and he kept incessantly asking if we were there yet and it was SOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOOOONG. They played iPad as much as they could, and I played Bejeweled on my phone. After we landed we had a decent layover which enabled us to have time for a nice lunch. I had carnitas tacos from Tequileria in the atrium, and it was quite good! We got Burger King for the boys (with chicken fries, of course) and they were kept happy with that. Afterwards, we caught our short 21 minute flight to Greensboro!
We arrived on a beautiful & warm afternoon, and took in all the pretty sights, most notably that they have leaves on the trees!! It was such a sight for sore eyes. We haven't seen leaves since last October. Just beautiful.
We found the perfect USA map at Beth Schmidt park to illustrate our journey:
We had a good time at the playground and let the boys blow off some steam, and then we went to Cookout for our first meal and had a huge blowout $42 Cookout supper! I was dying for a Cookout style burger with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard. Drew had chicken tenders which he said were "delicious" which is saying a lot for him. Must have been those big ranch cups!
Parker of course had been talking about the milkshakes pretty much ever since we landed, and he let us know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that he wanted a milkshake. He chose peanut butter for his flavor today. I had banana pudding.
The day wrapped up with a fancy bath in a fancy tub. They love this, and apparently still not too old to bathe together.
On Monday, Dave took the day off, and so he took the kids hiking at Mt. Uncanoonuc here in Goffstown. It's a great hike for the kids, closeby, and generally they enjoy it. Dave takes them to the convenience store on the way and lets them pick out a special snack that they get to eat at the top, and that's pretty much all the motivation they need. Will hike a mountain for Doritos and Cheetos!
While they were gone for a couple of hours, I worked on my mulch outside in the yard, and planting flowers and stuff. Spring is here! So nice to be outside and watching things coming back to life after the horrible, horrible winter.
The kids were already tired from their hike, but after supper and their video game time (which is from 5:30-7:00 each evening and is the most cherished time of day for them), Dave took them swimming at the YMCA. They enjoy going later at night because there's not many people there, and in fact, Parker ran into his friend Noah, so they spent an extra long time there that night playing, and they didn't get home until the pool closed at 9:30!! Which is really late for them. They are normally in bed by 8:30. So they came home completely wound up and excited and it was hard to get them mellowed out for bed. They were fried the next day from staying up so late.
I had a trip planned to Boston's North End with some friends, but things kind of fell through and I refused to let the opportunity pass, since I had already had plans to go. So Dave offered for him and the kids to come with me and make it a family trip, which I thought was great because it's generally more fun to have company, and I always love any chance for Parker and Drew to travel and experience new places.
So we headed out, and drove 1 hour down to Wellington Station so that we could catch the T into the city. On the drive down I made 12:00 reservations for The Union Oyster House for lunch, via Open Table, in case there was a line. I knew Dave would have an aneurysm if he had to wait for any length of time, so I thought a reservation would keep the peace. The kids were very excited about the train! It took us a few minutes to figure out the machines that sold the tickets, the "Charlie Tickets." We must have looked like country come to town, the way we could not figure out what we were supposed to do, or even how to stick the ticket into the turnstile and pass through. Hilarious.
It was only a few stops down the Orange Line before we arrived at Haymarket station. As soon as we emerged, we ran smack into the Faneuil Farmer's Market which was huge and took up the whole block. We found our way over to Faneuil Hall and had a look around since we had an hour to kill before our lunch reservation. I loved the old building, so full of history. The upstairs was open so we we went up to the Great Hall which had a grand feeling of historic significance.
Then we watched a street performer for a while and then headed over to our lunch reservation at the Union Oyster House, which is known for being the oldest restaurant in America, functioning continuously as a restaurant since 1826 (but built well before that). We were seated on the 2nd floor, and it was very dark and small inside, with high-backed dark wooden booths, very tight seating as you would imagine people were smaller 200 years ago. They gave the kids these wonderful coloring books which I would have loved to take with us but we didn't have any way of carrying anything.
The food was good, starting out with a slice of cornbread for everyone. Parker was half dead with hunger, so it was a good pick-me-up. Dave and I had the fish & chips which we liked (very poor lighting for photos!), and the kids had chicken fingers and a hot dog. I loved the ambiance of the restaurant and I would have liked to look around more. Perhaps I will go back some day!
After our lunch, we headed down the street further into the North End which is what I really wanted to explore. It's actually such a small area that is easily covered on foot, winding through old cobblestone streets with pretty much wall to wall Italian restaurants. Pizza, pasta, bread, and bakeries beyond your wildest dreams. Although Mike's Pastry is the overwhelming winner of the fame & popularity contest, I had read great things about Modern Pastry (just a few doors down on the other side of the street) so that's where I went. I still waited in line about 20 minutes but it wasn't bad at all, and in fact I needed that much time to decide what I wanted to get! I ended up with a Lobster Tail, which was SO HUGE and only $5.00. Also I got a cannoli which has never been my favorite but I thought maybe I just had never had a good one, and this would convert me. I'm not a big fan of crunchy pastries, so I think it's a texture thing that gets me. I love soft cake and icing, etc. :) I got it filled with vanilla custard, but I'm thinking I should have gotten the traditional ricotta filling (since they fill each one upon order, you get to choose what kind of filling you want). Additionally I got a slice of carrot cake and a Boston Cream Pie cupcake for Dave and the kids who were busting to leave by this time. They were tired of walking around....... I knew my time in Boston would be limited by these chuckleheads, so I'm glad I got as much time out of them as I did. I know it's a lot of walking for little legs, and probably (to them) nothing at all interesting to do or see.
One way the kids kept themselves entertained was by taking pictures..... we had given them our very old little Canon point & shoot camera to play with, and they took turns documenting everything as they saw it. It was pretty cool to download the card and see what they had been looking at and thinking about. For Parker, it was pretty much motorcycles! Lots of silly faces, and blurry shots made up their day's work. We tried to explain to them that you can't take a picture while you're walking, or by shooting your arms forward as you press the shutter, but it never sank in. I think with practice they'll learn to appreciate an in-focus photo. :) Like their momma, I had to repeatedly remind them to
1. look up while you're walking and not run into people
2. don't take photos while you're walking down stairs.
Yesterday on the way back from North Conway, we headed over to Lincoln to see the annual Ice Castles that they build each winter. It's amazing! I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it's a beautiful fantasy world of ice creations that you can walk through and slide through (and when I say you, I mean they. As in the kids. My fat ass won't fit through there). There are tunnels, caverns, and gigantic towers all made of icicles. At night they light up with different colors which I'm sure is amazing. It was 14 degrees while we were there, with a wind chill of -7. It was awful, but somehow we managed to stay almost a full hour, with frozen fingers. Ironically they had the Frozen soundtrack playing in the background.....
So basically we started out the morning swimming and doing waterslides in the indoor waterpark, and then finished up the day sliding on ice slides in frozen temperatures. What a day!
This year we did exactly what we did last year for Feb vacation, which was to head up to North Conway and stay at the Red Jacket Mountainview Resort so we could play in the indoor waterpark, Kahuna Laguna. Another great time! Even though we were gone just one day, it felt like a whole week. We drove up Monday morning, had lunch at Delaney's Hole in the Wall again, which we really liked last year.
Full from lunch, we checked into our hotel and got settled in our room. Which we loved. I splurged and got us a loft room which was cool because there were four beds, and the kids' beds were upstairs in a private loft with their own tv. They thought it was so cool to have a little room of their own, although they spent all the time looking down at us. I'm sure it was weird to be a little separated.
Off to the waterpark! In the middle of the worst, snowiest, coldest winter anybody can remember, it is so nice to see water in liquid form, and bask in the hot and humid indoors where they keep it 80 degrees. The boys love the waterslides (there are 4 of them) and the wave pool, where the tidal wave comes through every 20 minutes or so.
Later that night we went out in the freezing cold to eat supper at Moat Mountain Smokehouse which was very very popular and pretty good. I had a fantastic beer sampler which had 7 different beers in not so tiny glasses. It was a great deal at $8.75!
Parker and Drew were very very tired at this point and could barely function. So we gave them our iphones to play with until the food came, and that kept everything peaceful.
I had a big rack of St. Louis style ribs with mashed potatoes and slaw. Yum!
That night we all crashed and were in the bed literally at 7:53pm. Dave and I had a hard time sleeping with all the families crashing down the hallway until all hours, being SO loud, and not making any effort whatsoever to keep quiet. Really?? How can people be so rude, and let their kids go apeshit in the hotel hallways late at night? Drew was up at 3:56am and didn't really fall back asleep and I kind of never did either, just sort of dozing in and out of sleep. Still, as always, we are glad for whatever sleep any of us get in a hotel with the kids so we just press on.
We had breakfast in our room, because I made carrot-banana muffins and brought them along. I found some free coffee in the hotel lobby which helped immensely. Wish I had known about this last year! Then, back to the water park again from 8:30-10:00! More waterslides, hot tub, and wave pool.
Finally it was time to check out, so we packed our stuff and headed back out into the cold. We had some time to kill before the lunch spot opened, so we went to White Mountain Cupcakery and got a few cupcakes. I had never been to this little bakery even though we've been to North Conway several times. They were actually on Cupcake Wars a couple of years ago and won! So they're a little famous. Oddly enough I did not take any pics of our cupcakes which is very weird for me. (I had the Almond Joy, it was very good)
Lunch was at the Muddy Moose, right across from the Red Jacket Resort (not to be confused with the Red Parka Steakhouse up the road in Glen, which we have been to several times). The kids were again beyond tired and Parker especially was in full on evil mode, so he got a big talking-to about behavior and stuff. Once he was fed and watered, he perked up a little but was never completely right. A little pineapple juice (his choice) spiked his blood sugar and his attitude.
With full bellies, we were off to our final stop which was the Ice Castles over in Lincoln. Read about that next!
Back in May, Parker and I went to NC to visit my parents and it was his first real trip anywhere. He was so amazing! In fact, months later, the only thing he mentions that he didn't like about the whole thing was the fact that we had to wake him up sooooo early that morning to go to the airport (4:30am). He's still bitter about that. :) But he really did love it. He loved the planes, the airport, my parents' house, their cats, etc. He's just a kid that loves doing things and going places and seeing new things. Just like me!
Here he is having some vanilla bean ice cream at Maxie B's.
One of the funniest things about his experience was that he was kind of confused about how we brought some of his own things with us, and yet Grandma and Granddad had things at their house too, which he couldn't understand. For example, he thought I had brought the pillows and blankets on his bed with us. And when he ate Eggo waffles for breakfast just like at home , he thought I brought those with us too.
I'm happy that one thing he loved so much was COOKOUT!! His first shake was the banana pudding, and I barely got any of it. Everytime we passed a Cookout in the next few days he would point it out and say something about getting a milkshake.