one part travel, one part home, one part DIY, one place to create

Archive for March, 2011

Day 5 – Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 – COPENHAGEN

We awoke to a winter wonderland. Just the right amount of snow to make for beautiful pictures and beautiful places. View from our window:

It was another morning started by bacon, eggs, and pancakes. And real maple syrup. Today Dave would be playing poker all day, so it was Nia and I’s solo adventure in the city. Thanks to her googling the night before, we had somewhat of a plan. Thanks to the airport, the hotel, and my Day to Day Guide to Copenhagen, I had at least 4 maps. [NONE of which were good, or detailed enough, except for the one withthe 3-D drawings and store names. I’m pretty sure there were at least 5 H&M’s in this city. Whenever we weren’t sure where we were, we would get our bearings back based on H&M.] We strolled through the streets, ended up in the middle of a university area, and took lots of pictures. This time Nia was more allowing with my picture taking because she also was picture taking with that big-a camera. At one point she had gates shut in front of her because apparently the alley we were taking a picture of was the entrance to someone’s home. This city is so colorful and full of bicycles. Even in the winter time, the Danes love those bicycles.

We found the Royal Gardens while in search for Rosenborg Slot. It was beautiful covered in snow. This made for LOTS of self timer photo ops with Nia’s big-a camera. Of which featured many jumping shots. With trees aligning the walkway like so, how could you not stop for nearly an hour of photo taking? When our fingers were nearing frostbite we realized it was probably time to head inside of Rosenborg Slot (the Queen’s castle) and take advantage of our Copenhagen Card freebies. Somehow the birds were NOT nearing frostbite and wanted to go for a swim in the only non-frozen part of the mote around the castle. 

There is so much more history in Europe. All of the architecture is hundreds of years older than that in the US and probably took decades more to build compared to the standard building in the US. The detail is amazing! In order to take pictures inside most of the places, you had to pay an extra fee. So we opted to keep the cameras in their cases and just take in all of the detail. We also made up stories for any of the castles/museums/sights that didn’t have English info. I’m pretty sure some of our stories were way better than whatever was actually true.

After a morning/afternoon of walking in the snow the only thing that could possibly come next is ahotdog. The day before all I talked about was the snow and hotdogs but Dave wouldn’t let us stop forhotdogs. So on our day without Dave, what else could be do but eat hotdogs? And Peter said we had to have a hotdog on the street. It was delicious! Peter also recommended a Canal Tour. Unfortunately the canal was frozen. No canal tour for us. Our next stop for the day’s adventures was Christiansborg Slot. We checked out the Royal Reception Rooms. They also had stables at Christiansborg, which – surprise! – made me happy. The convo with the ticket ladies went a little something like this – me: “are the stables open” ladies: “yes, they are open to the public” “are there horses?” “yes” “real ones??” “no, we just put cardboard cut outs” – cue the sarcasm I talked about here. We didn’t end up having enough time that day to check out the stables, thats a shame. The good thing about visiting Copenhagen in February is that we were the only tourists there. Most of the sights we went to, we were the only people there. So the Royal Reception Rooms at Christiansborg Slot were a fun adventure being the only ones there. But this was yet another place you had ot pay extra to take pictures, so we left the cameras in their cases. After Christiansborg we wanted to make it over to Ny Havn before heading back to our temporary home. This was the day I was in charge of the 4+ maps and navigating. And throw in stops for door pictures, this equaled quite a bit of getting lost. We didn’t make it to Ny Havn until the sun was nearly setting, which meant we were going to have to find our way back to the Radisson in the dark (once again). I’d say it was worth it, look at this place.

This was the second time during the trip we wondered if Dave was even worried about us. It was dark and we weren’t home yet. We took the 5A bus back and got there just in time for more “free sandwiches”, soccer, guitar hero, and telling Dave about everything we did for the day. Nia did some more googling and planning for our next day’s agenda. I was no longer allowed to hold the 4+ maps because I lost all directional sense. I think I’m gonna need to work on this before I can make an appearance on Amazing Race.


Day 4 – Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 – COPENHAGEN

Our first full day in the city. Its way more awesome in the daylight than it was in the darkness the previous night as we wondered the city toting 100lbs of luggage. The Radisson Blu may have had tiny beds, but they did not make any compromises when it came to breakfast. Maple syrup, REAL maple syrup, I think Nia was in heaven. After filling ourselves with bacon, eggs, and pancakes we bundled up in our boots, jackets, scarfs and toboggans in preparation for the day ahead of us. On the agenda: go to a grocery store, buy a Copenhagen Card, and familiarize ourselves with the city. Dave had the day off from the poker tournament and joined us for the explorations.

First stop, grocery store. We filled our basket with bread, cheese, sandwich meat, and Applesin, AKA our lunches for the week. This was part of our low budget plan – fill up on continental breakfast, grocery store sandwiches for lunch, and dinners were up in the air. We made our way back to the Radisson to drop off our groceries and this is when we discovered our mini-fridge did not actually refrigerate. This is also when Dave had the best idea he had all week. Fill a plastic bag with our perishables and hang it out the window. Yes, it was that cold that the air outside was able to refrigerate our kind of questionable meat and cheese purchases the entire week.

Now it was back out into the cold for number 2 on our agenda. I think this is when I started getting in trouble by Nia and Dave for taking too many pictures of doors and bicycles. What can I say? I have a strange obsession with doors! They even tried to hide from me in a phone booth as I stopped to take pictures of Tivola (a cute little amusement park in the middle of the city) and pouted because it didn’t open until April. It also was snowing at this point and I was in awe of the snow and the beauty of the city! 300 door pictures later we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, which conveniently happened just as the snow turned into a blizzard. So we spent some time in the Visitor’s Center making mental notes of all the recommended to-do’s. Nia and I purchased a Copenhagen Card, which I had researched prior to the trip and thought it was a must. The Copenhagen Card gave free entrance to over 65 musuems, attractions and sights during a 72 hr period. Oh and also free transportation on buses and metros throughout the greater Copenhagen area – this ended up being a life saver many times throughout the  next 72hrs – when we were cold and lost, we’d just hop on a bus.

A few things I’ve learned about the Danes:

  1. The Danes are trusting people. We learned this when we saw bikes parked everywhere without locks, baby strollers left outside of restaurants and stores, no one checking to see if you actually purchased a metro ticket, jackets and umbrellas left at the entrances to many museums/castles, and to begin the 72hrs for your Copenhagen Card, you simply sign your name and write the date and time on it.
  2. The Danes are also extremely nice, funny, and sarcastic people. The only time we encountered someone who didn’t fulfill these qualities is when Nia accidentally walked in front of a man as we exited a bus. He proceeded to track us down at the bus stop while cussing at her in Danish all up in her face.
  3. The Danes are also all pretty good looking. At one time I read a poll which said that Denmark is the happiest country in the world. This being because they all have low expectations – so they are always pleasantly surprised! After visiting Denmark, I’d have to say they are the happiest country in the world because they are all hilarious and pretty hot. Who wouldn’t be happy if they were surrounded by funny, good looking people all the time?!

And back to our day – with our Copenhagen Cards purchased, we continued to explore the city in the blizzard. We didn’t make it far outside before we decided it was a must that we stopped for coffee. And free wifi. We ordered our varm kakao, took a seat, and all hit the “Turn on Wifi” buttons on our phones. Despite not having cell service, we all took advantage of any wifi available to keep in touch.

The afternoon was about as much as we could handle of the blizzard, so we headed back to the Radisson, feeling much more confident about our directional senses in the city. [Ok, maybe I didn’t exactly. I was in charge for one day, and after being lost nearly the whole day, my privileges were revoked.] Once back at our temporary home (read: the Radisson Blu), Dave introduced us to the Player’s Lounge. Since we were his guests for the European Poker Tour, we could also hang out in the room that the designated for all the Poker Stars. They had guitar hero, foosball, giant projector playing sports, every guys dream. We helped ourselves to all of this entertainment and began to meet some of the other poker players. This is when Nia and I realized that everyone was wondering what our story was. Dave has two ladies as his guests. A girlfriend and her friend, perhaps? Apparently he got lots of questions throughout the week. We wanted him to tell everyone we were his Sister Wives. But being we were nearly the only Americans there we didn’t think all the foreigners would think it was as funny as we did.

The sign outside the lounge advertised “Free sandwiches and beer @ 6pm”, for the Copenhagen soccer game. Boy are these people into their soccer! We stuck around to see what this was all about. Well, it sure was a heck of a sandwich. They served a delicious buffet meal, which to our surprise, was going to happen every night. SCORE, more free delicious food; this fits quite nicely in our low budget plan. We enjoyed ourselves in the Player’s Lounge for the rest of the evening – guitar hero, food, drinks, soccer, new friends. It was a good evening and a good ending to our first full day in the city. Oh, and we still had to plan out our next day’s adventures. We picked a few places as our destinations. I was too tired to plan much, so Nia googled away to make us a better plan.

“blog about it”

Yesterday was a windy day; I felt like it was Boston and the Red Roof Inn all over again. [check out my “Day 1 – ROAD TRIP” post for details on that]. I came home to a nice surprise and I texted my mom and my brother for help.  Like any brother would do, Brian gave some great advice.

Thanks for the tip, I’m doing just that! Oh, and I fixed the house too. At least temporarily. [Think Brian’s comment was funny? Check out his blog here for more witty BP action] Here goes my first post about home fix-it solutions and DIY. As I’m sure most of you know I’m a very stubborn person. I don’t like it when someone tells me I can’t do something. Sometimes this means I go to extreme measures. For example, don’t have an extension ladder to reach the vinyl blown off of the wood on the gables? No problem, just grab the rickety wooden ladder I do have and use it to climb up the side of the chimney and up onto the roof, as shown here.

This is where I need to throw in a disclaimer. Do not try this at home without proper adult supervision, or maybe don’t try it at all, just call someone with a big ladder and have them fix it. But as a side note, this trip to the roof at least gives me the opportunity to clean out the leaves and debris you can see stuck at the corner of the gutters. And I have been wanting to examine the roof and see what shape its in; according to the previous owners, a new roof was put on around 2005 and boy was she a beaut.

I’m now standing on the roof at the back of the house. I crawl my way over to the side of the house, with hammer and nails in hand. The metal/vinyl piece was still connected and hanging by a few lonely nails on one edge; it was quite beaten from blowing in the wind all day. I manage to reshape it and then it was time to go to town with the hammer and nails. While laying on the roof and arms extended I proceeded to nail that bad boy back onto the wood so that it snuggley fit right under the edge of the shingles. And then I added a few extra nails just for good measure. So I climbed back down the fireplace “staircase” and old ladder to admire my work. Since I’m OCD, I made myself climb back up there to fix a couple places where the piece didn’t quite cover the underneath pieces (using very technical terms here). I climb back down a second time and am pleased with the outcome. It may not have been pretty, but it was good enough to be a temporary fix. You can see in the picture below the finish product.

So there you have it. My first blog post that just screams DIY. [Do-It-Yourself, for those of you who may not be up on the HGTV lingo] My methods may be unusual at times (and probably not recommended by a professional), but when I’m presented with a problem I like to go to all measures to fix it myself. Let’s just hope I never end up on this website though… There I Fixed It

Oh and PS – I did call mom afterwards just to let her know I didn’t fall off the roof or anything.

Day 3 – Monday, February 21st, 2011 – AIRPORTS

Day 3 began on the airplane with a six hour time change. We landed around 7am in Reykjavik, Iceland and prepped for our 7 hour layover. We spent the first 3 or 4 of the 7 hours asleep on some 50 ft long couches in the airport voted best in Europe. Or something like that, they had a few too many signs around letting you know it was the best airport ever. Maybe if they had free wifi, THEN it’d be the best airport in Europe. That was frustrating.

My first impression of Iceland: the people are incredibly nice. You know how in the airports in America you aren’t really supposed to sleep and it freaks the security people out? Well of course I’m paranoid the whole time we are napping that we will get in trouble and about halfway through our sleep we are awoken by a security man. So my first thought is he will tell us to stop sleeping. Nope. He asks what time our flight leaves because there was a flight leaving soon and he was concerned and wanted to make sure it wasn’t ours. Now is that nice or what?! After we had a cup of coffee and croissant and browsed the Icelandic gift shops it was time to board our next flight to Copenhagen. But my heart did do a little jump for joy knowing we were coming back to this place to spend a few days at the end of the trip.

I mean look at that place! Heaven! Beautiful view from the plane as we took off! A few hours later we landed in Copenhagen. I referenced my handy Day to Day Guide to Copenhagen book for info about our hotel and how to get there from the airport. Since Europe doesn’t like to give free wifi in the airports, we had no way of getting in touch with Dave since he had already been in Copenhagen for a couple days. The book said the Radisson Blu was near the Amagar Bro metro stop. So with confidence, I told Nia we needed to buy two metro tickets to Amagar Bro. But first, we’ve got to get our luggage, which conveniently doesn’t show up on the conveyer belt. Every travelers fear. We made a friend who’s luggage also wasn’t there and him and I went to the help desk to report them missing. A breathed a huge sigh of relief when the help desk lady says all of our luggage is already there, it arrived on an earlier flight than we did. I’m glad to know my luggage didn’t have to sit through the same 7 hour layover that I did.

We walked what felt like a mile through the airport to the metro station. I swipe my Visa to purchase two metro tickets from the machine and it demanded a pin #. The thing about credit cards in America is that we don’t have pin #’s. I tried my debit card pin #, my zip code, and after the machine printed out 4 cancellation receipts because I had no pin we realized we needed a new plan. An airport security man told us we would need to exchange cash since the machine wouldn’t take our card without a pin. Nia and I walk back through the mile long airport corridor to the exchange place to get some kroners. Back to the machine where we realize only coins are accepted. I make Nia ask some strangers for change and we were out of luck. I went on a mission back down the corridor to find an actual person to buy tickets from. We were in luck, 2 metro tickets in hand, we were ready for the Radisson Blu. A few stops later and we find ourselves taking the elevator up to street level of the cold and dark city. No Radisson Blu in sight. We bust out a map as two girls walk by and we asked if they knew where the hotel was. What a relief to hear “Oh, thats a far walk, you should take the taxi. Just go down that street and veer left and go straight and you’ll see it.” I’m amazed at how well they speak English, yet discouraged to know we’ve got quite a journey ahead of us.

At this point we haven’t eaten anything since the croissants in the morning, have been wearing the same clothes for two days, are tired, and wondering “Is Dave even worried about us???” Since we’re too stubborn to take a taxi our only other option is to walk what felt like 3 miles toting all of our luggage down the sidewalk of this city we’ve never been to, in another country, at night time. The Radisson Blu sure looked like Cinderella’s Castle as we finally made it to the front door. We check-in, go to the room and find a note from Dave saying he will be done playing Poker at 9. Our clocks said 8:45. When he came through that door we had never been so happy to see him before! And it was good to know he was actually worried about us. So what does any person do after traveling for days, exhausted, and hungry? Go to McDonalds. We ordered quite a few things from the coinoffer menur and were pleased to end our evening with double cheeseburgers and fries.

Day 2 – Sunday, February 20th, 2011 – BOSTON

I promised Nia free breakfast at the hotel, but I was wrong. One of a million things I ended up being wrong about on this trip. At least they had coffee. And at least I had breakfast bars, and LOTS of them. So we put another type of coffee in our coffee cups, chatted with the hotel receptionists about the wind that blew scaffolding everywhere, they ohh-ed and ahh-ed over our accents, we grabbed a few Boston and Freedom Trail brochures, and headed back up to the 2nd floor to grab our luggage.  We took advantage of the deals on and scored a hotel room and free 10 days parking at the hotel while we were away.

[You may be wondering, WHY did we drive to Boston? Since Nia and I are both experts at saving money we calculated that driving would be able half the cost of flying since we waited too long to purchase ticket. Anddd who doesn’t love a ROAD TRIP?!]

Our game plan for the day: explore the Freedom Trail, meet up with Caleb and tour Harvard. We checked out of the hotel, loaded up the car, and typed in the address for the Boston Common Parking Garage. But it wouldn’t be a good trip without a pit stop to Target at the start of the day. Nia failed to pack thermal underwear, and after experiencing the wind and cold the night before she quickly decided she needed more layers for Europe. We went to Target and debated over knee high vs. thigh high socks for approximately 20 minutes.

Broadway sure looked different in the daylight than it did the night before, and I’m still not convinced the GPS didn’t drive us incircles to get todowntown. But I do know one thing, I love Boston. And Nia felt like we werein an episode ofBoston Public. We parked in the Boston Common Parking Garage underground, made our way up the stairs, were nearly blown away by the wind, and thought “ok, this cold isn’t too bad, once you get used to it.” This is right about when we tightened up our scarfs, pulled on our gloves, buttoned the top buttons of our jackets and put our hoodies up. And from then on, Nia could neither see nor hear anything I did because of that hoodie.

We walked around in a few circles in Boston Common, facebooked some mobile uploads, eyed some folks ice skating, pulled out our giant “hey I’m a tourist” map snagged from the Red Roof Inn, and spotted the start of the Freedom Trail. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you a thing about the Freedom Trail or what’s on it besides a statue of Paul Revere on his horse. We were too focused on following the double red brick line to actually pay attention to any of the historical places. I did get pictures of an old cemetery, Nia standing in opposition to the donkeys, the Old City Hall, some random buildings that are probably really important, a bridge, and the monument in Charlestown. Don’t worry, I took a lot more than just 6 pictures, trust me. After following about half of the Freedom Trail (its 2 miles total throughout downtown Boston), we got a call from Caleb and decided to meet up at Mike’s Pastries. As we continued down the Freedom Trail we kept our heads up at this point, on the look out for the deliciousness that is Mike’s Pastries. We saw at least a dozen people toting fancy boxes from Mike’s and knew we were about to experience something great. A BIG taste, if you will.

And then I felt like I was in an episode of Seinfield, you know the one where Elaine is in the bakery packed out with people trying to get one of those black and white cookies. The place was packed but we managed to grab a table. After Caleb wandered around lost for a little bit he showed up as well, apparently he couldn’t remember where this place was, even though it was his suggestion! Our order: Boston Creme Puff, Chocolate Croissant, Apple Fritter, 2 cups of coffee. Caleb: “Are yall really going to eat all that?!” Yes, yes we are. The waitress loved us (probably just loved our accents) and even let Nia go back into the kitchen to use the private bathroom. She says she was almost stuck in there because the door was blocked by a giant rack of pastries on her way out.

After Nia’s VIP visit to the pastry kitchen we continued along the Freedom Trail with Caleb joining us. We breezed past all the important historical things trying to make it to the monument and the Shipyard. We crossed a big bridge and this is where we found the USS Constitution and decided we had enough time to explore it. They had some serious security screening to get into the visitor’s center and then onto the boat. You’d think we were back at the airport or something! We climbed the wrong stairs onto the boat (we were in a hurry and wasn’t sure where the right stairs were) and proceeded to go straight down into the inside levels of the boat through some velcro doors. Nia made it down and then a sailor quickly came to tell us we were not allowed down there but Nia could stay because she was already down there. So there she was, inside the USS Constitution and sailor man velcro-ed her in. Then Caleb and I were led to the front of the boat where another sailor was beginning a long spiel and intro to the tour. My phone rings, its Nia, “Where are yall?? I’m down here by myself” “We can’t get down there, he’s starting a tour and the velcro doors are shut” “What am I supposed to do?” “I don’t know” – click – next thing we know, they kicked her out and she was back on deck reunited with us, just in time for the tour to make its way back to the inside of the boat. So before we knew it, we were stuck on this guided tour that we didn’t have time for nor want to be a part of. We followed it down one more level into the boat where I tried to get Nia to cross the rope lines to test out the hammocks but the sailor didn’t let that one happen either. After everyone slowly made it down to the bottom level of the boat we realized this was our only chance to get out. We flew back up the few flights of ladders to the deck and shut the velcro door. Nia and I look around and Caleb is nowhere to be found. What are we supposed to do in the situation? Nothing other than take a Jack and Rose signature Titanic pose picture on the hull of the boat. Oh wait, there are sailors allaround and they yell at us before Nia even gets one foot onto the ledge. Thankfully Caleb appeared from within the velcro, I’m still not sure what happened, and we high-tailed our way off of that boat.

Thanks to the unwanted tour we were now short on time, we walked through Charlestown and ended at the Bunker Hill monument, still surrounded by some snow. We took more pictures in celebration of completing the Freedom Trail and booked it to the nearest T stop toride over to Harvard. Caleb is working on his PhD in some crazy statistics fieldat Harvard and gave us a tour of his movie-star college. In the courtyard Nia and I both said, “I feel just like in themovies! All these smart people walking around dressed nicely.” Caleb made up lots of interesting and not quite true facts about the school during our brief tour, but we did learn that people like to pee on the foot of the statue of John Harvard. Since it had been a long, cold day of walking so far we decided to check out Caleb’s huge dorm room (actually is about the size of a closet) to rest our feet andget warm. Caleb introduced us to a few of his friends, which I think he only did so they could hear Nia talk. They were pretty fascinated! We all grabbed some coffee at this hopping college kid hotspot and then it was time for goodbyes as we boarded the T again back to Boston Common. Thankfully Nia didn’t leave her cell phone on the metro like she did that time in DC. We then drove another thousand miles down Broadway back to the Red Roof Inn and pulled up just in time for Rob and Steven Fisher to arrive as our airport taxi! It was fun seeing Rob and Steven since we hadn’t seen them since graduation a few years ago and we are very thankful they were willing to drive us to the airport!

Here we are at the airport. We realize our adventure has barely even began even though we had already been traveling all weekend. But boy were we thankful to be rid of our giant checked luggage bags (which somehow weren’t overweight). And now its off to get strip searched. Not really, but Nia nearly did. I always make it through security in a breeze but Nia on the other hand, barely makes it through. This time through she forgot to take her laptop out of its bag. They stopped the xray belt with our stuff inside and call for special forces to come check it out. She begins to slightly freak out as a man approaches her and asks, “ma’am, is this your bag? do you have a laptop in here? may I remove it?” After they decide we weren’t trying to bring a bomb on the airplace, they let us through. We hadn’t eaten since those pastries early in the afternoon, and remember we had no breakfast, only breakfast bars. Our flight left at 8:35pm and we had some time to kill. Thats when I spotted Sbarro! I’d been craving it since we tried to eat at the one in the mall near Red Roof Inn. We had some supper, Nia skyped with Austin, I made some phone calls, we boarded the plane, and began to learn so many fun facts about Iceland thanks to IcelandAir’s ads on the tv screens prior to taking off. Did you know that the prime minister’s number is listed in the phone book? Now if that doesn’t make you want to live there, I don’t know what will! Our flight was about 5 hours from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland and was just enough time to watch a movie and catch a few zzz’s.

Day 1 – Saturday, February 19th, 2011 – ROAD TRIP

The day was finally here! I got in the car at about 4:30am to head to Nia’s house, my mind racing the whole 1 hour drive there trying to figure out what I forgot, because surely I forgot something.  Or maybe it was just the few 3 hours of sleep I got during the night that made me feel anxious.  Or the fact that I was leaving Nala and Reina for a week and a half.  Or maybe that we (read: ME) were about to drive 14 hours up to Boston.

I pulled up to Nia’s house a little after 5:30am, still pitch black outside.  We loaded up my car with all of our luggage, Nia’s mom loaded us up with coffee, and Nia said her goodbyes to her fiancé.  And then I almost wrecked us while still on Old Mill Farm Road – those curves just come so unexpectedly in the dark!  No worries, I’m an expert driver and just wanted to test out how fast we could take those curves in preparation for the long drive ahead.  And I needed to make sure Nia had her Dramamine.

Nia tried to get some sleep while I drove, but between Kacie calling and me waking her up to tell her something, she didn’t get much rest. I think her favorite time was when I woke her up to tell her to look at the giant flock of birds flying over us and wondering how they were flying in these heavy winds. Every state we drove through had traffic alert signs warning of high winds. Once we arrived in Boston, we realized just how much wind they really meant. I drove for nearly 6 hours until we stopped for gas and Subway. [side story – as some of you may know, Nia and I won a $250 Subway gift card at the state fair this past fall after competing in “Subway’s Great Fair-a-thon Challenge” scavenger hunt] And then Nia drove for a few hours while I napped and after a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts in ski town USA it was back to me driving.  We hit our first toll booth after driving over the Hudson River and past the Poconos (who hasn’t heard of the Poconos??) and into New York, and I shelled out a big $1 bill.

The second toll booth. I can’t remember which state it was in, as Nia called it – BFE. I’ve never done one of these things before, and neither has Nia correction: Nia HAS been through toll booths, it was just on a totally different highway. We slow down as all the other cars are but realize there is no person in the little both, so I keep on going through without stopping because no one else did. Fast forward about 20 miles when we get off the highway to get some gas. Now there’s the little man in the toll booth! I roll down my window and wait for him to say how much. He doesn’t say anything. I ask, “How much?” He says, “Where is your ticket?” “What ticket?” “The ticket! (holds up a stack of tickets) The ticket!” “I don’t have a ticket.” “How did you get on the highway?” “I don’t know, we’ve been driving on this road for a really long time.” “Fine, its $2 without a ticket.” I mean I thought we weren’t going to be let off the highway! Apparently the sketchy toll booth from miles before was where you got a ticket. No signs. No warnings. You’re just apparently supposed to know, stop, press a button, get a ticket. But no one else did it! …oops, turns out I drove through the fast pass lane, they didn’t need tickets.

We stop to get gas after exiting the toll road. Screw getting back onto that road, we will re-route. Don’t worry, we were on Broadway. All roads lead to Broadway. Even if the GPS tells you to turn onto a another street, you’ll eventually make it back onto Broadway. I’m still not convinced that dern GPS didn’t drive us in circles around the state of Massachusetts.

I wanted to a take a picture of every state we drove through, but that didn’t happen. North Carolina. Virginia. West Virginia. Maryland. Pennsylvania. New York. Connecticut. Massachusetts. 8 states in one day – and a whole lotta miles on the Honda. We took 81 and 84 most of the way, which hugged the mountains and passed through a lot of cute little towns. We paid a total of $4.50 in tolls on the way there. We made it almost all the way there in two tanks of gas – thankfully this was right before gas prices sky rocketed (weren’t too happy to see that a week and a half later upon our return…) and thankfully we filled the tank up completely before leaving town so we would come back to the states to a nice full tank.

Now if you’ve never driven in Boston then I need to give you a few warnings.

  1. There are no lines on the road and speed limit signs are rare. People just drive where they want to, however fast they want to. So you better hope you’re not in the way.  And if snow is covering half of the far right line, then you better believe those cars will just make their way on over halfway into the left lane, whether there’s cars there or not.
  2. If you don’t know where you are, just look to the left or to the right and there will be not one, but two, Dunkin Donuts to comfort you.
  3. Plan to only go to places on one side of the road. Because if you want to get to the other side of the road, you’ll have to drive approximately 5 miles to turn around and drive back down the other side.
  4. When in doubt, just take Broadway.

Red Roof Inn, we can see you in the distance, right next to Giggles Comedy Club.  We made it. Our home for the night!  Oh, hey, police cars and the news crew filling up the parking lot – man I sure picked a winner of a hotel.  Half the parking lot is covered in snow and the other half is covered in scaffolding and construction debris.  In the chaos, I ran over a giant plastic cigarette butt holder, which took about 15 minutes to dislodge from underneath my car.  With 100 mph winds the whole time, did I mention that yet?  Yeah, as if the cold wasn’t enough, there was some serious wind during our stay in Boston.  And this wind conveniently blew scaffolding all over the Red Roof Inn parking lot and toppled onto cars. Greattttt, and I’m supposed to be leaving my car here for 10 days? Very comforting!  So after a trip to Fuddruckers for dinner (I wanted Sbarro but then we realized it was in the mall, and we were definitely not going in the mall for dinner), we checked into the hotel and made ourselves at home.  Nia talked with Caleb to make our game plan for the next day while, surprisingly, I fell asleep.

Hello world!

Well I decided to start a blog; obviously you already figured that out since you’re here reading. So, welcome! to STUDIO{1859} ! You might be asking yourself, what exactly is this blog? In the words of Mrs. Jennifer Patnode – “only pregnant people have blogs”. Well no, I’m certainly not pregnant. I just finally decided to make a space to share all of my travel stories, home renovation projects, and crafty ideas. Also, one of my goals for 2011 has been to open a store on Etsy, which I’m in the process of doing now. And I thought, I may as well start a blog in parallel with that.

I guess my main reason why I haven’t already created an Etsy store or blog is because I couldn’t think of a cool name. A cool name is apparently a requirement for blogging. The creative juices have been flowing the past few months and I find myself stopping in the middle of things to make a note of something I want to make or do.  And it seems that I have a lot more to say about things than I used to think I did.  I find this true because I interrupted Dave and Nia a few too many times during our trip to Europe and awoke Nia too often during the drive to Boston while she tried to nap to say things like “look at those birds, how are they flying in this much wind!”

What does the name mean? This is me trying to be creative with words (which is where I’m least creative in life) – it may not seem original, but to me it is. Why studio? The studio is where one creates. I like to create, “to craft.” Over the years I’ve tried my hand at crocheting, sewing, cross-stitch, photography, beads + jewelry making, hand-making gifts, painting, scrapbooking, homemade magnets and picture frames, to name a few. Sometimes I failed and sometimes I was pretty good and some I decided I should probably never try again. But how will I use this blog to create? I want to create memories for myself of trips I’ve been on and plan to go on, create inspiration for other do-it-yourself-ers, and create a lot of laughs with stories of things that didn’t go quite as planned.

1859 is a special number to me.  1859 is where I create. 1859 is where I learned to install light fixtures and put together at least 6 pieces of IKEA furniture solo. 1859 is where I’ve started more home improvement projects than I’ve finished. 1859 is the place I seeded my front yard in the spring and watched it fail over the hot summer because I was too stubborn to wait until fall, the proper seeding season. 1859 is the number written on the front of my house. 1859 is where I can’t wait to open the door at the end of every travel adventure. 1859 is my home.