Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bar Harbor Maine, Acadia National Park, St Andrews Canada

We were fortunate to do a lot of traveling in 2017.  This trip came in as my second favorite with Italy as my first.  We made this trip as a tri-cation with REV3 having a triathlon in St Andrews Canada.  For any triathlete friends, DO THIS RACE!  It is a perfect excuse to see a beautiful part of the world and for those that are urbanites, a perfect reason to slow down and enjoy a more laid back vacation.  We flew into Bangor and rented our car.  Our plan was:  St Andrews then Bar Harbor.  After we landed we needed to grab some food and found the Friar's Bakehouse thanks to Yelp.  It was run by actual Friars with simple/inexpensive meals.  They had a small brewery and their bakehouse to support them and it was awesome food. The bakehouse was kindof stuck in the 1980's and there were articles everywhere explaining the history of the bakehouse. We sat with others and ate with some locals.  Loved finding this place that was not something I would have naturally picked.  A fun experience for all of us.


Crossed the border only for Josh to be annoyed he didn't get his passport stamped!  We rolled into the Algonquin resort just to have our room ready.  The resort was beautiful and probably the prettiest we have stayed at with that kind of feel.  The grounds were palatial and gave a resort with dogs to greet you at the door!  We played golf the first day we were there and ate dinner with tri friends before the glow run.  Rev3 has always been a family friendly event production and it fun to share in the weekend events with Josh.  They had a kids race as well but Josh passed as they originally slated the oldest kids to swim a half of mile and he felt that was too long!  


Saturday, before race day, we went out and explored the town.  You can walk to the downtown area which is adorable and quaint.  We opted to do a whale watching tour on a "pirate-like" ship which didn't disappoint.  It was freezing once you got out on sea and happy they provided jackets.  We were able to see a few whales and also saw the lighthouse they used in the original Pete's Dragon.  Loved that movie when I was kid and cool to see it in person.  The thing is in the middle of no where!

Raceday was so easy with transition right outside the front door and the finish line viewable from our window.  I opted for the sprint with a borrowed bike from my friend's 11 year old daughter: Flurry!  For a sprint, it was perfect and definitely better than the cost of shipping mine.  Per usual, didn't know much about the course going into the race and found two major surprises.  1. The bike was hilly and 2.  There was a half mile upward climb from the swim exist back to the transition!.... BLAH!  Scott got me in all my glory chugging back up the hill! The run looped around the point of the peninsula.  Finished my race and took some time with the fam before heading out with the final finisher.  I volunteered to do that (one of my favorite things as a team member) and did the last 8 miles with the last racers on the course.  We are simply there to provide encouragement and someone to talk (or not talk) to.  The racers I was with at this race were talkers and it was so much fun to get to know both of them.  The ultimate final finisher and I shared a teary hug after she crossed which meant a lot to me as I knew I was probably going to relinquish my spot on the team the following year.

How graceful... 
See that speck on the water.. that is a swim buoy.  Taken the night before race day. 



 After the race, we said goodbye to St Andrews and made our way back to the states to Bar Harbor Maine.  We have heard great things about "Bah Haabah" and Acadia National Park so wanted to check it out.  We stayed in an adorable family run in with beautiful views of the Harbor.  Scott was able to golf at the oldest course in Maine while Josh and I ventured out for a run.  From our hotel, we saw this island people walking towards and wanted to check it out.  It ended up being a 5 mile round trip that proved to be pretty entertaining because the tides overtook the gravel path during certain times of the day.  They had all of these signs warning people it was a $300 water taxi if they got stuck on the island.  We managed by slipping off our shoes and wading through the freezing water.


The rest of the days were spent in Acadia.  It was beautiful there.  We were able to stand on the tallest Eastern point of the US, hike some nice trails, canoe and see some untouched eastern seaboard. While I will never get Scott to move more north, I love Maine and its vibe.  I also love their accents.  It was a wonderful family trip and looking forward to Yosemite in 2018 on the other side of the country.








Saturday, February 10, 2018

Summertime

We always enjoy Chicago in the summer....the long days, nicer temps and making the most of Josh being out of school.  This past summer all of us enjoyed our favorite past times.  We had plenty of family outings on the golf course especially with some local courses allowing josh to play free at twilight.  All we had to cover was his hotdog!
I did plenty of racing, running and triathlons and had  few medal presentations as well.  The one pictured below was for the Cove School and loved having Josh there to be part of the day.  Great to see kids earn their medals by completing the 5k!
Josh played on his first travel basketball team.  Hoops Avenue.  It was a fun team to play on and raised the level of competition.  The commitment was more than we were used to but also allowed him to grow immensely as a player.  It was amazing to see how much talent there is just within the Chicagoland area especially within the inner cities.  So many kids can play ball!  

And of course, more broadway.  Finally saw Aladdin with the family.  It was an amazing production and Disney knocked that one out of the park.  I was amazed at how elaborate the production was.  Disney doesn't skimp on anything!



Early Summer 2017

 We stayed put for May and June after our fun and big trips earlier in the year.  Josh finished up 6th grade and started a free summer camp.  It was through the school and while he didn't love it, he had friends there and survived and we saved close to $2000 in camp costs!  While we are not doing the program again, I am so happy or schools offer something like this especially for those working parents that would struggle to afford camps.


Scott's brother and his family came into town for a tournament for Caely.  It was fun for Josh to spend time with Patch.  Got to take him to the Field Museum and some Chicago style pizza.  We enjoyed this visit.

Scott would remind you I saw John Mayer twice in 2017 and he tagged along.  April was the first show at the United Center which included good seats and good tunes (acoustic, trio and band sets).  I also was able to see Rent for the third time.  Tia and I snagged single seats for the event.  Love Broadway and happy I took advantage and attend more often than I used to.
Other events included running my 9th 26.2+ race and being a running buddy for Girls on the Run.  It was a good early summer as we prepared summer!


Monday, September 04, 2017

Practice Round for the Masters

A tradition unlike any other.
Always have wanted to see the Masters in person.  Grew up watching playing and watching golf and then married a golfer who watches golf ALL.THE.TIME.  Everytime we go to cut our cable bill and he blames me, we find out it is the Golf Channel that is killing our bill.  (i.e. in order to get the golf channel, you need to pay for the XX package and now we have the golf channel and 300 more channels we don't watch)
Anyways, been entering the lottery for many years and of course, right after I book Italy, we found out I got tickets.  #FirstWorldProblems at its finest. After some discussion, we decided we couldn't pass up the opportunity and made it happen.  We arrived back from Italy on Saturday and flew to Augusta (via Atlanta) Sunday.  Atlanta was a fun 36 hours.  Hit up the Jimmy Carter and Coke Museum and saw Scott's brother in law who was in town for work.

Headed to Augusta the next day.  There were crazy storms the day before and after our scheduled day.  They ended up cutting both days early due to storms so felt very fortunate we were able to have a beautiful day. Home base for the day was the Magnolia Club which was awesome.  Made the parking and shuttling so easy and they had amazing food.

We walked all the holes and got to see all the players we wanted.  Funny thing is I was upset I might not see Sergio but got to see him putting out the 18th green.  Got to see him on the front ropes.  Guessing there were a few more people watching him Sunday!!






Flew home early Wednesday and was back at work by 9am.  The two back to back trips were exhausting and amazing... and we may have "some" masters swag to remember the trip by.


Sunday, September 03, 2017

Italy-Rome

Final Stop.... Rome!  We spent 4 nights here and was blown away at the history of the city.  Ruins everywhere!  Buildings on top of buildings.  Definitely a reminder that our existence is but a mere speck in time.  We stayed right by the Colosseo in a beautiful traditional Roman apartment.  There was a small annex for josh to have his own space, a 24 hr market across the street, and views of the Colosseo out the window.  Another bonus was a washer so we could clean up some clothes!


Once we got settled, we made did a loop on the hop-on-hop-off bus.  We got a lay of the land and were able to check off some sites.  We saw the Spanish Steps (meh), Trevi Fountain (meh) and some other notable places.  I believe some landmarks you have to see even if they aren't showstoppers and doing it hop-on hop-off style is the way to go for quick viewing.




Next morning, we did a 10 person tour of the Colosseum which was very interesting.  While that was not my favorite tour of Rome, it definitely was the site I was most excited to visit.  Fascinating learning about the history and theatrics that went into the Flavian Amphitheater especially the water shows. The tour also included a walk through the Roman Forum which was mind boggling to wrap your head around the layers of city within the metropolis.  


panorama gone bad





Enjoyed a 5 mile run around the town.... 



Here Josh enjoying some fish and stuffing his face with sides...

Our day trip to Ostia Antica was a highlight.  We hired a private tour guide to meet us at our subway stop and take us out to Ostia.  Once the major port city, it is a living outdoor museum now that is preserved much better than Pompeii.  While we wanted to go to Pompeii, timing didn't permit so this short morning trip with our guide was a great alternative for us.  We were able to go at our own pace and she explained so much about the ancient city.  Definitely consider if you just can't make Pompeii work.  The guide said she prefers Ostia over Pompeii due to the preservation and size of the city.


After the tour, we took the bus a bit more west to put our toes in the tyrrhenian sea and then rode bikes in the Borghese Gardens.  Josh enjoyed the active parts of the trip and kept it fun for all of us. 


Final full day, we went to the Vatican.  While I am not Catholic, am totally intrigued in the history of the Catholic church and couldnt' wait to see the Sistine Chapel (spoiler, it is as tiny as people say). After booking a group tour in haste, I switched the tickets for an early entry small group Sistine Pristine tour. There were only 12 people in our group and we were able to visit the Sistine Chapel with less than 75 people in it.  Once the gates open, we basically powerwalked through many hallways while our guide gave us some quick references here and there with the focus getting to the Sistine Chapel.  The effort was worth it as we would sit on the benches and take it in.  After we finished in the Chapel, we visited the map rooms, galleries and some other highlights.  Our guide said it could take 3 full days just to 'casually' admire all of the work at the Vatican.  CRAZY!!!


After the Vatican, my parents hit up another tour and we spent a few hours in Borghese Gardens again.... This time renting Segways.  Josh was interested when we went the day before and they were cheap (compared to Chicago) and did only 30-60 minute rentals so we went for it.  They had no real rules for age and when we asked what the requirements were they looked at josh and said, "11-12?"  Josh and Scott loved them.  I was the slowest and was convinced I was going to get thrown off when we were going up the hills... not shown, the helmets I was adamant about all of us wearing.  


Trip went fast and it was time to go home Saturday.   We had a few hour layover in Frankfurt and decided to leave the airport.  A country doesn't count unless you step outside the airport, right?  So, we went to a small little village (Kelsterbach) near the airport.  It was quaint and along the Main river.  Walked around for a bit and then made our way back to the airport.


We also made sure we had time for some German food back at the airport... hot dogs, pickles, gummi bears and coke... it was like they made the Lufthansa lounge for me!   We told Josh international travel can only go downhill from here.
It really was an amazing trip.  We had a wonderful time full of lifelong memories with Josh and my parents.  I am already excited that we less than 6 mths from our next 4 country adventure!