Friday, June 15, 2018

Montreal, Quebec - Canada

I'm playing catchup with a few posts so if you're confused about a few of the dates that's why! This was the last post that I needed to catchup on.

What a busy summer 2017 has been! Three days after moving to NJ Jon and I went on a mini three day trip to Montreal. We're finding it a little harder to go away for longer periods of time now that we have two kids. Maybe once the baby isn't a baby anymore...

We desperately needed a weekend away, but also wanted to continue our tradition of getting out of the country at least once a year. Enter the idea of Montreal, which is only a five hour drive from our new home.

After stopping in Albany for a few hours to see our friends, we finished our drive to Montreal and arrived in the early evening. That night we simply went out to dinner near our hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening. Seriously, all we wanted to do was relax and not be bothered!

We were staying fairly close to Mount Royal so the next morning we put on our running gear and headed up the large hill. It is much steeper and higher than it looks! After climbing a long and winding path we made it to the summit where we had gorgeous panoramic views of the city and beyond!

There are so many little trails all throughout this park and many places where one can just bring a picnic blanket and relax. We followed some trails around bends and through the park. There was much signage on these smaller trails, but we figured we could make it back no matter where we ended up. On our walk we came across a large steel cross. After more research we found out that a wooden cross was erected in 1643 to thank God for sparing the colony from a flood. In 1924 the current steel one was built.

That night we went into the old city of Montreal. It was a wonderful place to walk around on the cobblestone streets while viewing the historic architecture. There are many little boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

After some strolling we grabbed a drink at a cute wine bar restaurant. We ended up staying for dinner since we were having a good time. Yummy food and wine makes us very happy! Speaking of food... we tried all kinds of poutine throughout our trip, which is a dish that originates from the area and consists of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. There are so many variations of poutine in Montreal that we felt the need to try a lot of them! I'll be honest, I wasn't too impressed with poutine. I didn't dislike it, but I definitely wasn't over the moon about it. Jon on the other hand...

The next day we asked the front desk about suggestions on where to go in the area. They suggested going to the Jean Talon Farmer's Market and then walk around an art district that I'm drawing a blank on the name of. We took the metro to the Jean-Talon stop and headed over. This market had everything! Fresh produce, fish, meat, cheese, cheese curds, plants, flowers, juices, crepes, and on and on. We tried some squeaky cheese curds at one stand and bought zucchini flowers at another. We were so happy to be able to buy zucchini flowers... they don't sell them regularly in the U.S. and we love frying them in some dough. We stopped to eat some crepes and drink fresh orange juice to fill our bellies before moving on.

We took the metro to what was supposed to be an art district, but we either weren't in the right place or we have a different definition of art district from the person at reception. It was a very nice residential area, but not much more. We walked around for a while trying to figure out which way we were supposed to go, but after about 45 minutes we called it quits and decided to relax at the hotel, which is what we had really wanted to do anyway.

We basically spent the rest of our time relaxing and resting since we knew we'd be coming back to our two youngins and a house full of boxes and suitcases. Overall, we had a nice time in Montreal!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Los Angeles

I started this post last September and never finished it! So this last post from our ten day west coast road trip from last year will be very short because I don't remember everything, which is why I'm still blogging about our trips so that I'm able to remember everything!

The last part of our trip had us driving to L.A. where we spent four days hanging out with my brother Dan and his family. We got in fairly early and spent the day relaxing and letting the girls play.

Meeting my newest niece!

Dan meeting his newest niece!
The next day the six of us hiked up the Observatory Trail to Griffith Observatory. The girls started strong, but as it got hotter and the incline picked up they quickly asked to be carried.

We had various opportunities to look out onto gorgeous views of downtown Los Angeles and beyond. We made it to Griffith Observatory and hung around inside for a bit. Before heading back down we snacked on some ice cream and rested. We made it down much faster than we came up!

Oops, sorry M!

We made a few of the days hang out and playground days. We've been to LA many many times before so we had no need do much other than hang out with family. I'd say after our travels we all earned it!

Watching the Tour de France

The night before we left we went to LACMA, the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art. We strolled around outside before setting up a picnic blanket to enjoy some snacks and light dinner.

The whole crew

All in all this was a fantastic way to end our ten day trip visiting some of the nation's most beautiful areas. We made memories that will last us a lifetime, and while M won't remember any of it, J still talks about the big hike that she did with the harness and how big the Grand Canyon is. I can't wait until we have more adventures as a family! 

Safety first! 

I actually got to watch a movie from start to finish!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas

We drove from Cameron Trading Post through the east entrance of the Grand Canyon. We were happily driving along when all of a sudden there was a break in the trees that briefly showed us something we had never seen before. Thousands of feet below us were deep canyons of red and brown tones that were just stunning. We had planned on stopping at Devils Tower, which is one of the first viewpoints on the road, but decided we'd see it later since both kids were taking a nap and it was better if we didn't wake them up until we got to the hotel. We drove about 30 minutes more to our hotel which was only a few minutes outside of the gate to the park. We spent the afternoon at the pool and made it an early night.

The next morning everyone was up early since we gained another hour so we packed up and got to the park around 6am. I can't even describe the sheer vastness of the Grand Canyon. Pictures don't do it justice and it is beyond anything I have ever seen. We started off at the more popular viewpoint, Mather Point, which is supposed to be a good spot for first time viewers. It's over 7,000 feet in elevation and has just an amazing view. And we were there early enough to see the very early morning sun beam off the ridges. We then walked the Rim Trail for a little bit. It was nice and cool in the morning and we were able to push M in the stroller while she napped. Next, we hopped on the shuttle and took it to Yaki Point where we had the place to ourselves and could look at the canyon from another vantage point. We took the shuttle back to the main visitor center and decided that it was time to leave the park. At this point it was only 9:30, but we were quickly losing the attention of J and figured she (and us) could use a couple hours of zone out time with a movie and the pool.

View from Mather Point

Walking along the Rim Trail

Eating a snack at Yaki Point 

Later on in the day we decided to go back out and drive back to Desert View Watchtower - I won't go into any details, but it ended up not being the best decision! Albeit a quick visit, we did see some nice scenery and get some nice shots...

We checked out the next morning and started our drive towards Las Vegas, stopping at the Hoover Dam on the way. We didn't stay too long at all since it was around 112 degrees! M was basically stuck to my body and J wanted no part in walking around. And honestly, neither did we after a while!

Jon and I have each been to Vegas many times, but not with each other. While Vegas has a lot to offer kids and families, it's really not my ideal place to take them since I'd much rather be doing more adult things there! But, it was a great spot to rest our heads for a night so we didn't end up doing too much driving in one day. Planet Hollywood was right next door so we walked around there for a little bit, watched a water show, and grabbed some dinner to go since the girls were beat and ready to go to sleep pretty early. Jon and I longingly looked out of our hotel room window, and we wondered if anyone else on the strip was turning out their lights at 8pm and going to sleep for the night. At least we didn't lose any money - I'd call that a win!

Our tamest visit to Vegas yet!

Watching the thunder and lightning show
Taken at 5am when we were waking up