In the fall of 2014, my sisters and I are headed to New England for five days of family fun. Special thanks to the readers of this blog, who helped us select our destination. Planning is in progress.

Maine- Acadia National Park

Back to the sisters’ New England adventure in Maine.

We may have only seen a small part of Acadia National Park the day we visited, but what we saw was beautiful. The leaves have just started changing into the glorious fall colors.  I hope to return when I have at least a few days to spend exploring this amazing place.

Acadia National Park
Otter Cliff portrait

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My favorite place was Jordon PondThere is a wonderful trail that goes around the pond, weaving in and out of the forest. Every step brought a new discovery.

Exploring Jordon Pond
Exploring Jordon Pond

Jordon Pond

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View of Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain.

We had dinner at The Whale’s Tooth in Lincolnville. Disappointing.

Whale's Tooth Pub

When we arrived back at our apartment, Skip and Judi met us and invited us up to their place just in time to view the foxes and raccoons out their back window. I could have sat there all night. They are such wonderful hosts.

Final Thoughts for the Day:

Acadia National Park:  I loved the park. As a photographer, I usually try to be places early in the day or later in the afternoon. It just wasn’t possible during this trip. Which means, I need to go back. I’d love to plan sunrise at Cadillac Mountain. There were also so many places we missed that I want to visit. Still, it was incredible. Sisters’ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Whale’s Tooth Pub: We were looking forward to dinner after a busy day so we stopped at the Whale’s Tooth Pub in Lincolnville. It was a disappointment. The service was terrible and the food wasn’t much better. My fried clams had too much breading and little flavor. Even a hot fudge sundae wouldn’t have changed my mind. After speaking with the manager, she comped the whole meal. At least we didn’t have to pay for our disappointing meal. Sisters’ Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Day Two- Sisters on the Loose in Maine

After arriving at our apartment very late night before last, we all slept in. Sleeping in was more about not waking to an alarm than actually sleeping late, since we were all up by 7am Maine time, which is 5am in Denver. So, when Judi stopped by with the still hot-from-the-oven blueberry muffins, we were ready. Yum! What a perfect way to start the day.

Then we were off to start our day in Camden, a beautiful sea side town just a couple miles away.

Jim Rogers, from Oklahoma helped us park and then told us where to get the best photos of the harbor. He and his wife have visited Maine 8-9 times. He especially loves Camden. Michael was just walking by with his early morning cup of coffee and agreed to take the photo for us. Thanks Jim and Michael!

Jim Rogers and the girls.

Camden Maine Harbor
Camden Harbor

Camden, Maine Harbor

Then we heard a splash, and there was little Stella in the water. I never would have guessed a dachshund would be willing to jump off a wall into the water for a ball. I wish I would have captured that shot.

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Straightening the flag
Straightening the flag

We had lunch at Cappy’s. We have mixed reviews of the food. Wendy loved her haddock chowder and I had an excellent reuben sandwich. Mary and Victoria were a little disappointed with the clam chowder and club sandwich. Our server Mark was fabulous and we had no complaints on the view.

The view from Cappy's.
The view from Cappy’s.

Then we couldn’t resist the LL Bean Flagship store in Freeport.

Mary and I next to the boot.
Mary and I next to the LL Bean boot.

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After seeing the area, I wouldn’t really call it the LL Bean store, instead an LL Bean village. The best part? They will ship our purchases at no cost and they can do it right at checkout. Thank goodness. I can’t afford all those overweight luggage charges.

So what happens on a sisters’ trip in between eating, shopping and visiting the sights? Maybe just a little bit of fun.

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What happens in Maine stays in Maine, except when you have a blog.

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We ate dinner at the Taste of Maine and with one minor exception that was fixed right away, it was fabulous. The best parts were the quirky atmosphere and our waiter, Tommy. Tommy had a great sense of humor and the food was really good, especially my hot fudge sundae!!

Mary and Tommy
Mary and Tommy

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It was a late night once again, but we wouldn’t have skipped anything.

I discovered sea glass jewelry.

Only Wendy held back and didn’t buy from LL Bean.

We had delicious food all day, starting with Judi’s homemade blueberry muffins.

Final Thoughts for the Day:

Camden This is a beautiful town with fabulous small shops and a lovely waterfront. We only saw a small portion of the area, but we really enjoyed our time here. I would definitely visit again.  Sisters’ Rating- 5 out of 5 stars

Cappy’s Chowder House– The food reviews were a little mixed, but my reuben sandwich was wonderful. Wendy also loved her haddock chowder. The clam chowder was a little watery and the turkey on Mary’s club sandwich was a bit dry. The atmosphere and views are wonderful. I’d suggest a visit if you’re in town. Sisters’ Rating- 4 0ut of 5 stars

LL Bean Flagship Store Freeport was a bit of a drive from where we were staying, but it was well worth the trip. I can’t usually find my size in the local stores, but found the perfect fitting pants in a very short time. The stores are fantastic. I think the ability to ship things home at no cost could be dangerous. It’s easy to forget exactly how much you’ve bought, so be very careful. This is another place I highly recommend. Sisters’ Rating- 5 out of 5 stars

Taste of Maine– We loved the unusual atmosphere of the Taste of Maine. There were wonderful characters throughout, including some fantastic Halloween decorations. The view was nice and our food was good. The only exception was the clam chowder. I returned it because it was way too salty for me and a little too watery. But Tommy replaced it with my hot fudge sundae and I was a happy girl. We would definitely go back, especially if Tommy is working! Sisters’ Rating- 5 out of 5 stars

 

Waking Up in Maine

We interrupt the Namibia and South Africa programming to share sister related news: This morning we woke to the beauty of Maine.

Breakfast with Travis and the girls.
Breakfast with Travis and the girls in Denver.

Last spring, readers selected the New England area of the country for this year’s sisters’ trip. And…here we are. It is beautiful!

Cast of Characters:

Mary is the oldest sister currently residing in Flagstaff, Arizona. She can be bossy, but like most younger sisters, we’ve learned to ignore her. Mary’s steaming hot most of the time, but we attribute that to aging somewhat gracefully. (I think it’s a genetic hotness, because Wendy and I seem to be suffering from the same malady.)

Jennifer is the middle sister. (That’s me!) I like being in charge, so my sisters usually pretend that I am and then do what they want to anyway. They occasionally need to rescue me from approaching cars when I am singularly focused on getting that million dollar shot.

Wendy is the baby, and was always Mom’s favorite. (Don’t tell her, but she is our favorite, too.) She is frustrated by our total lack of organization, sometimes calling daily, or even multiple times a day until we’ve made our travel arrangements. This usually starts six months in advance of each trip. Her laughter stops the crowds and gives us the giggles as we walk away pretending not to know her.

Wendy working on the travel journal.
Wendy working on the travel journal.

Victoria has joined us as our adopted sister on this trip. She hasn’t traveled much, so she has entrusted us with this adventure. (I’m not sure Wendy warned her about us, so she may never travel again.) Victoria was the assigned navigator and kept arguing with Siri who was providing the directions. By the end of the night, she even started talking like Siri…kind of scary really.

Accommodations:

We are staying with Skip and Judi Moore at their over the garage apartment in Northport, Maine.  We found this home base on Homeaway.com.

SCORE!!

It’s a hidden gem in a forest just outside of Camden, Maine. Best of all, the four of us are staying here for four nights for just a little over $100 per night. That’s about $25 each for a beautiful place that includes a full kitchen and the amazing knowledge and blueberry muffins provided by our distinguished hosts.

It’s a perfect backdrop for our sisters’ get-together. Plenty of room to relax and catch up. Check it out:

Day 1 Script 

We flew in to Boston yesterday afternoon and after renting our car, pulled out onto the road. We stopped in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for dinner. It’s always funny trying to figure out how to pronounce the names of new places. Is it Ports Mouth, like you eat with your mouth? No. Our waiter, Jeff, let us know it’s actually pronounced like Port Smith.

When we first arrived in Portsmouth, we headed to the waterfront and meandered around looking for a restaurant. After about twenty minutes of exploring, I finally asked a couple local guys who suggested Jumping Jays. It’s always a good sign if people leaving a restaurant are talking about the amazing food. They were right. While the menu options are somewhat limited, the food was fabulous!

Jumping Jays in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Jumping Jays in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Then it was back on the road for a few more hours. Unfortunately, we were driving through some really quaint small towns after dark. We plan to revisit them during daylight hours. The drive was long and it was so nice to pull into the long driveway and to see all the lights on at our vacation rental. Skip and Judi met us as we pulled in and helped us carry our luggage up the stairs.

A Few Highlights:

We flew on Southwest Airlines and had a flight attendant with a wonderful sense of humor. As she was making final announcements after arrival in Boston, she wished “the sisters a wonderful trip”. Wow! We are famous!!

It was Ryan’s birthday. He was assisting people with getting on the bus to the rental car area. We sang happy birthday to him on the curbside. Other people in the crowd joined in. The smile on his face was huge.

After a good night’s sleep, we are off on today’s adventure. Wish us luck!!

Sisters’ Trip Update – Planning our Trip to New England

Camden, Maine
Planning for our trip to New England is moving along at a fast pace. 
Once you helped us select the amazing destination two weeks ago, Wendy and I began our research. Our excitement level is high and we’ve discovered that there is simply too much to see in such a short time. It’s been difficult to narrow our choices. I anticipate this is the first of many trips to the area. All of you have great taste!!

The budget for our five day trip is $500 each, not including airfare. I’ve run the numbers for either three or four travelers since we may have one additional family friend (adopted sister) traveling with us. The travel dates have been modified to better fit our collective schedules, so we will be traveling in late September, a perfect time for the area.

Airfare:

We are flying from Denver to Boston on Southwest Airlines at $314 each roundtrip, including the early check-in fee.

Car Rental:

The rental car (full size) from Advantage is $275, including taxes.

Lodging:

After spending an hour or two on HomeAway, we were delighted to find a mother-in-law style apartment near Camden, Maine. It sleeps four people and is a real bargain at $425 for four nights. The ratings are exceptional and the owners are very friendly. We debated staying in two different places during our travel, but after reviewing the options, decided to find one location more central to all the places we are planning to visit. We’ve never used Homeaway before or stayed in a home style rental, so this will be a new experience.

Attractions:

So far, it looks like we will be seeing parts of Acadia National Park, the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the coastline between Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time for the Ben and Jerry’s tour in Vermont, so I’ll just be buying a pint or three of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and eating along the way.

Preparing our own breakfast and packing lunches and other snacks will help us stay within budget. However, dinner will be out on the town at fabulous restaurants. We plan to take advantage of all the amazing seafood options. I’m not sure how we are going to decide where to eat. Any suggestions?

At this point, it looks like we’re on track and have a little extra money to spare for park entrance fees and unexpected costs.  It has really helped to split the expenses between more than two people. Here is our budget so far.

DRAFT BUDGET

  Three Travelers Four Travelers
Airfare $942 $1,256
Budget $1,500 $2,000
Rental Car $275 $275
Lodging $425 $425
Gas $150 $150
Meals Out $300 $400
Meals In $150 $200
Balance $200 $550

It’s amazing that we can visit so many states in five days. I love planning a trip, don’t you?

Sisters’ Trip Update – New England It Is

New England  Lighthouse
The results are in!

Thank you for all of your input and votes. My sisters and I are headed to the New England area for our sisters’ trip. Now we just need to decide on our itinerary and what areas we will be traveling.

The initial plan is to fly into Boston or Bangor, rent a car and then drive through a number of states. Each one of us is going to pick two places we want to see and then we’ll set up the schedule. From lighthouses, to specific towns, covered bridges and a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour, we’ve already received some great suggestions from those who recommended New England.

Being landlocked in Colorado, the a visit to the Atlantic Ocean is a definite. The rest will develop as we select our must sees. We are still intending to try to keep to our budget of $500 each, not including airfare. I’m finding that renting a car at one airport and dropping it off at another adds to the expense, so we’ll see what discounts are available.

Travel Budget Plan

  1. Do our research on places to stay and book in advance
  2. Select B&B’s, motels or hotels that serve breakfast and are not in the costly city centers
  3. Buy a cheap cooler when we arrive and fill it with snacks so we can limit our eating out
  4. Select and budget in the key places we want to see and then fill in with low cost or free places to visit
  5. Rent a small car that gets better gas mileage, but is still comfortable enough for three people and luggage
  6. Utilize discounts that may be available to us: senior discounts, AAA, online booking

If there is anyone who can spot a discount, it’s Wendy. I know she is already on the hunt. Do you have any tips that you use to stay on a travel budget?

In Other Travel News:

I’m headed to White Sands National Monument  in New Mexico this weekend with a small group of my photographer friends. When they say “white sands” they mean it. What a beautiful place. I can’t wait to share the pictures.

With my trip to Namibia less than two months away, I visited the Global Travel Clinic and recieved one shot in each arm yesterday afternoon. One to prevent Typhoid and the other Hepatitis A. Ouch! I have a couple prescriptions to fill, including anti-malaria pills, Cipro and motion sickness prevention patches. Planning continues…

Sisters’ Trip Update – Submit Your Vote

Travel Destination copyHere’s your chance to vote on the destination for our sisters’ trip!

First, all the suggestions were submitted.

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure
Get Your Travel Agent Hat On – Sisters’ Vacation Update

Then, we narrowed the choices to three destinations.

Sisters’ Trip Update – The Destination Finalists

And now, we’re eagerly awaiting your vote.

[yop_poll id=”2″]

The poll is only open for one week, so vote early.

Sisters’ Travel Update – The Destination Finalists

Many of you suggested destinations for our sisters’ trip scheduled later this year. We received an incredible list of proposed destinations. Curious as to the results? My sister, Wendy and I, have recorded our very first video in order to provide an update.

Listen closely to discover the three destinations we have chosen as finalists.

So what’s next? Your vote!

Later this week I’ll be adding a poll so everyone can vote on one of our top three final destinations and everyone who participates will help decide where we’ll be traveling. Once the selection is complete, we’ll start the process of planning and report back on the journey every step of the way. Remember, all of you are making the final decision. We will not be voting.

Thank you for playing. We’re looking forward to our trip.

Related Posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure
Get Your Travel Agent Hat On -Sisters’ Vacation Update

Travel Trippin’

travel to Namibia
I’m infected. It began in 2000, when my neighbors pulled out a brochure on the World’s Fair in Hanover, Germany and invited me to go along. I applied for my first passport and packed my bags. It didn’t take long to be bitten by the travel bug and…you know what happens when that occurs. The only way to keep it under control is to feed it. So each year, I’m planning a big trip and several small ones.

The BIG Trip:

The Fed Ex package packed full of all the final details came earlier this week. I completed the remaining forms, made the final payment and mailed everything back to the Africa Adventure Company. My trip to Namibia is PAID IN FULL.

Why Namibia? I knew I wanted to go back to the African continent. I traveled to the southern part of South Africa and the area around the Okavanga Delta in Botswana ten years ago. It was incredible and someday I’ll visit again. But this trip, I want to see other parts of Africa. Namibia offers such diverse environments and a chance to see white rhinos, desert adapted elephants and other fascinating wildlife.

Here’s the sample itinerary:

Great Namibian Journey Group Safari

I’ll be taking about my planning process as the trip gets closer. Check back for updates.

The SISTERS Trip:

Planning for the trip with my sister, Wendy, is ongoing with all of your great suggestions. We are so excited. We have decided to move the trip to September so we miss some of the crowds.

Here are the original options:

  • Find an event we want to attend, like a concert, and make a trip out of it.
  • Several locations in North Carolina, including the outer banks and South Port
  • Hawaii
  • Puerta Vallarta
  • Tahiti or other Caribbean Cruise
  • Alaska Cruise
  • New England road trip, possibly including Maine
  • Guatemala

We’re adding a few new destinations from your comments last week.

  • One of my favorite nieces suggested the area around Eureka Springs, Arkansas
  • Kirstin from KidsAreATrip: Flagstaff or the Sedona area of Arizona or Puerto Rico
  • Carol Cassara: A road trip in southern Florida down through the Keys

I’ve begun preliminary reviews of some of the locations. It may be difficult to stay within our $1,000 budget (not including airfare), but we’re going to give it a shot. Next week, we’ll narrow down our choices a little and then put the numbers and options together.

So that’s how my travel plans are lining up. What’s on your vacation agenda?

Previous posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure

Get Your Travel Agent Hat on- Sister’s Vacation Update 

Get Your Travel Agent Hat On – Sisters’ Vacation Update

vacation

I’m not sure what kind of hats all of you were wearing, but many budding travel agents responded to last week’s request for help planning our sisters’ vacation trip. Thanks! Let me back up and give you a quick overview.

My sister Wendy and I, and possibly our older sister Mary, have decided we need something to look forward to after all this frigid weather. Here’s a link to the post, Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure, so you can get a little more background.

The parameters:

  • Budget of $500 each
  • Five day trip
  • Someplace off the beaten path (Wendy)
  • No strict agenda (Wendy and Jennifer)
  • Someplace that is or has an unexpected surprise (Wendy)
  • Things to do besides sit on a beach (Jennifer)
  • Wonderful places and people to photograph (Jennifer)
  • Costs for airfare and souvenirs are in addition to the stated budget

The current fabulous results:

  • Kate from Another Clean Slate: Schedule the trip around a fun event. Kate is headed to West Palm Beach to see Jimmy Buffett. He’s on tour in a number of locations this year.
  • My friend Shelly Dennis, a fellow stock photographer: South Port, North Carolina, with all it’s history, an aquarium and beaches.
  • Michelle from Getting Literal: Hawaii. Is there anything else to say about the draw of this location?
  • Kristi from Finding Ninee: Puerto Vallarta or another location in Mexico or the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
  • Mike from Past My Curfew: Cruise to Tahiti. (If we end up doing this, Mike, you are welcome to join us.)
  • Diane from On the Border: She and her husband have scheduled an Alaskan cruise for $550.
  • Clark from the Wakefield Doctrine: My friend from New England recommends a road trip through that beautiful area of the country.
  • Dana from Kiss My List: Small towns in Southern Maine, including Wells.
  • Chris from The Mom Cafe:  Caribbean cruise.
  • Aussa from AussaLorens.com: Guatemala.

Wow! Wendy and I are excited about all the possibilities, especially since we’ve never been to any of those places. Over the couple of months, we’ll be researching all of these destinations and any new ones that get added. In April, we’ll narrow it down to three and all of you will select where we’ll be headed, possibly sometime this summer. Can we do it on our budget? I’m not sure, but we’re going to give it a good try.

Thanks to all of you who have already made suggestions and those of you who offered encouragement. But we aren’t done yet. We still have several weeks to add more possibilities to the mix before we narrow it down for your vote. 

Any other suggestions?

Help Two Sisters Looking For Adventure

Freezing Cold

The telephone rang early yesterday morning.

Me: “Hmrrr….mrmmrh….mellow?”
Wendy:  “I c-c-c-can’t handle this any…more!”
Me: “Hmmmm?” 
Wendy: “It’s 11 degrees below zero….”

Her teeth were chattering so loudly, I had to move the phone away from my ear.

It has been a very cold winter in Denver just like most areas of the country. We’re 11 degrees below zero while Sochi, Russia, home of the Winter Olympics, is in the 40’s.

After I finally woke up enough to have a semi-intelligent discussion with my sister, we decided we needed to take a trip someplace fun in the next four or five months….some place we can look forward to during this freezing weather. But…where?

There are so many incredible places to go that we don’t even know exist. How do we make the most of our travel budget and still experience a great adventure? We decided to ask the experts…all of you. Can you help us?

Here are the parameters:

  • Budget of $1,000 or $500 each
  • Five day trip
  • Someplace off the beaten path (Wendy)
  • No strict agenda (Wendy and Jennifer)
  • Someplace that is or has an unexpected surprise (Wendy)
  • Things to do besides sit on the beach (Jennifer)
  • Wonderful places and people to photograph (Jennifer)

Airfare and souvenir shopping will be considered extra, so those costs will be in addition to our $1,000 budget. Other than that, everything will be included: meals, rental car (if needed), lodging, tolls, etc.

Not only will we be selecting a place out of those you suggest, we’ll be blogging about our trip, including budget updates and photographs, so you can follow us every step of the way. We plan to travel in late June or early July. Please comment and leave any links you think will be helpful for us to see. Each week, we’ll summarize the suggestions and let you know how things are going.

In April, we’ll narrow the list down to the final three. Then, everyone can vote later in the month and we’ll travel to the destination chosen by all of you. We’ll even send a postcard to everyone who suggested a viable destination and a souvenir to the person who recommended the location we visit. (excludes spammers)

Wendy and I know of a few places, but all of you know thousands. We are eagerly looking forward to your ideas. Please help us expand our search for the perfect sister’s trip destination by sharing this post with friends who may have great recommendations, too.