Tag Archives: vacation

The Big Easy for little $

Planning for the recent girls’ getaway began months ago.  The topic had been bandied about like a pair of traveling pants, each of the four of us adding her own particular curve to the project.  The criteria was simple: not too far, not too expensive, the simpler the transportation the better.

When I came across a terrific airfare deal (Newark to NOLA $260 r/t) while I was browsing Southwest’s site, on day 3 of my annual two-week vacation with the boys, I immediately sent out a group text.  In no time flat, tickets had been purchased, a time-share had been inquired about and personal calendars had been cleared.  We were a go.

We had 4 months to squirrel away put aside spending money and make some plans.  We investigated what to see, where to go, where to eat, how to get around.  We had a very loose collection of ideas for the trip and reservations for one “big night out” restaurant.  Here’s how we did things…

We parked a single vehicle in Newark at the Parking Spot 2.  Customer service and the price (5 days, $54) were both more than satisfactory.  When we arrived in New Orleans, we took a cab, with a trunk surprisingly large for the vehicle’s size, which came out to about $15 each.
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Breakfast our first morning was beignets and cafe au lait, take-out, from Cafe du Monde.  Barely $20 for four, no table-service tip necessary.  Lunch was a bargain at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, a casual spot where guests order and pay at the bar and a runner delivers your food.  I went with a small Caesar salad with a cup of the chicken and sausage gumbo on the side.  I think it was about $12 with another couple of bucks for a tip.
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On our way back to our accommodations, we popped into a local grocery market and made some purchases, both practical and impulsive.  There was some cheese, a bit of pâté, crackers, fruit, cereal, milk, yogurt and 1/2 and 1/2.  You know, basics.  Breakfast could now be at home.

We did a lot of walking, opting for a cab only a couple of times due to rain or distance.  There’s also a streetcar system which runs 24 hours a day and offers a $3 all day pass.

Using recommendations from friends, along with Yelp, we found our way to a couple of inexpensive spots within walking distance.  Killer Po Boys, located in the back of the bar at Erin Rose’s, lived up to its name and I thoroughly enjoyed my $12 Gulf shrimp Po Boy.   An excellent bloody Mary on the side added only $3.50 to my tab.  Money well spent for sure!

There was a taco truck I had hoped to catch up to but, alas, it wasn’t to be. We did find a terrific nearby taqueria, Felipe’s, where for $40 (including a generous tip), we bought a mess of tacos and soup to go.  Pairing our meal with drinks at “home” made this dinner a tremendous and tasty deal.
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Don’t get the impression that we’re nickel and dimers, because we’re not. Sunday night we indulged in a fantastic meal at Restaurant R’evolution on Bienville.  We had originally considered the $75 per person prix fixe menu, but elected to go a la carte instead so we could sample more items on the enticing menu.  We selected a salumi sampler for 4 (only $6 more than the salumi plate for 2), crab beignets and a beet salad to start.  We were only able to eat about half of the salumi, but it packed up nicely for snacking on later during our stay.  We shared 3 main courses (ricotta gnocchi, beef short ribs, shrimp and cheese grits) and were comfortably satiated even after the heavenly creme brûlée bread pudding and treasure chest of one- bite sweets that followed.  Our 3.5 hour experience, with a cocktail, a $70 bottle of wine and 25%+ tip came to $100 a person.
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We were naturally craving something a little less indulgent for lunch the following day and found a yummy salad and soup in a nearby food court.  Our meals were fresh, creative and a bargain.  I had yellow split pea soup along with a salad with some Asian notes like ginger and soy for barely $10.

Cheap airfare, a friend’s generous offer of their one bedroom timeshare and thoughtful expenditures for transportation, food and beverages made our get away a treat without breaking the bank.  NOLA – I’ll be back.

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Filed under Eating, friends, ideas, Recommendations, road trips, travel

The evolution of the girlfriend getaway

DSC_0036It started with a couple of stolen hours.  We’d pick a date that worked for all of us, crossing our fingers for no last-minute work emergencies, sick children or childcare cop outs.  Our rendezvous destination was generally somewhere in the middle – north for them, south for me.

On the given day, as I put miles between myself and the responsibilities and demands of home, I recall becoming aware of my breath. It was almost as if I had been holding my breath, neither inhaling or exhaling with any depth, for what seemed like days.  Those couple of hours shared with my girlfriends reset my heart, my lungs and my mind.

As our lives have progressed, our opportunities to get together have also grown.  A quick shared meal evolved into an occasional overnight in NYC, complete with dinner and drinks. On one occasion, as I packed to leave Albany for 2 nights in the city, I realized that I was borderline sick and in desperate need of a nap.  I also knew that my chances of actually getting a nap (and being taken care of) were better in the city with the girls than at home with the guys.  I went.

We’ve explored new neighborhoods as we allowed Hotwire and Priceline to determine where we stayed, economizing on accommodations to allow for some shopping as we attempted to bring some of our peace of mind home.  We’ve got restaurants and cocktail bars which we consider to be “ours” and have had some wonderful trips making memories to last a lifetime.

We’ve just returned from our most ambitious girls’ trip ever – 5 nights in New Orleans.  I can’t tell you how many times I said “Can you believe how fortunate we are that we are able to do this?” during the trip.  The fact that we have come to a place where we have the resources and time to pull off a get away like this impresses me to no end.  I don’t know when we got to be such grown up women, but I like it.  A lot.

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Filed under aging, drinking, Eating, Events, friends, NYC, Observations, relationships, travel, vacation

Moms@Work – August posts

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

Let’s forgive me for not getting to this until what is essentially the second week of September, ok?  Seeing that the school year is beginning so late, I’ve kind of been pretending that this past weekend was Labor Day.  But, without further ado…

For the third year in a row, I completed the Warrior Dash down at Windham Mountain.  Kind of pleased with this year’s results: 62nd of 779 in my age group, 1463 of 7300.

I became obsessed with Orange is the New Black.  Have you watched it yet?  When does season two start??

My Quinnie became sick while we were on vacation and I reflected on how stressful sick children, far from our pediatrician, can be.

I had a meltdown about needing bangs – STAT!

The movie theater became the perfect babysitter so I could take a run.

Finding the “perfect” Cape Cod house can be a real test of patience and acceptance.

And there are a few things you don’t want to find in your temporary beach home.

There was a little bit of panic as the days of August started growing shorter.

And a lot of discussion about twerking and expressing oneself.

Finally, my piece from the Sept/Oct issue of Women@Work talked about how not to Fear the Fall.

What have you been up to??

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, Events, Exercise, family, favorites, Martha's Vineyard, Moms@Work, Observations, running, sick, Summer, travel, vacation

What I missed

IMG_2475After being back and settled in the DelSo for a week, I thought I’d share what I missed this summer while away. Some of the items on the list, I may take for granted when I’m home, while others are always appreciated. The list is not in any order, although alphabetical would naturally be my first impulse. I’m a librarian, remember?

  • My pillows. I wish I could bring them along on the vacation, but there just isn’t enough room in the car – and there are only two.
  • My coffee bean grinder. What do you mean not everyone grinds their beans freshly each morning?
  • My griddle pan. Traditionally, I bring my waffle iron along on the trip, but next year I may need to find some space for my go-to pancake/grilled cheese making surface. Making either of these items individually makes no sense when you can make three at a time.
  • Our sweet old lab, Cassidy Bono Lilly, especially when I read stories like this gem from Paul Grondahl.
  • Him. Because I like having him around.

What do you find yourself missing the most when away from home?

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Filed under Albany, breakfast, Cape Cod, Cooking, DelSo, family, favorites, friends, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, travel, vacation

Meteor shower of love

Going down the dune would be more fun if going up the dune wasn't eventually necessary.

Going down the dune would be more fun if going up the dune wasn’t eventually necessary.

Last week, I had the brilliant idea to get a beach bonfire permit so we could take in the Perseids Meteor showers, beachside. Like last year, we were shut out of our first choice beach, Newcomb Hollow and “settled” for White Crest. If you’re unfamiliar with these Wellfleet ocean beaches, trust me, they’re all beautiful. The only true disadvantage to White Crest is the remarkably steep dune one must navigate from the parking lot down to the beach. And, of course, the return climb up the dune.

The weather was fairly cooperative, but there was a bit of fall in the air. Jeans and sweatshirts were necessary, as were marshmallows, lots of marshmallows. I have to say that watching my brother build and maintain fires in the wood-burning stove of our childhood home, really has paid off. I can build a fire, Jack London. Naturally, we were a bit half-assed about things – I had some paper, some cardboard, a little kindling and a $10 bundle of soft wood and a lighter, but no bucket to fill with water to extinguish the fire. Never mind. We figured it out.

While we didn’t go all out with s’mores fixings this year, I have to say the boys have really mastered the art of toasting marshmallows to a perfectly gorgeous shade of brown. They really were the best toasted marshmallows I ever recall eating, at least that’s my excuse for eating as many of them as I did.

The fires of other sky watchers.

The fires of other sky watchers.

Good friends, delicious marshmallows and a blazing fire ocean side made for a pretty special evening. But the best part of the entire night was when Quinn and I were sharing a chair, in a practically reclined position, staring quietly at the sky. He nestled into me, and I wrapped my arms around him. Our eyes searched the heavens for trails of light and we made a vow to never forget this night.

It’s impossible to predict where in the sky the meteors will ultimately appear, but the light shining in my son’s eyes as he promised to always remember that moment, provided all the illumination for which this mom could ever wish.  Magical memories.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, family, Summer, vacation

A bridge, a baby and some boys

There’s almost nothing like the ocean to punctuate time, especially when you’re temporarily living on an island which is inaccessible during high tide. The necessity of planning is as explicit and unavoidable as the tide chart adhered to the fridge with a magnet.

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When the tide is out there’s the shallowest of tidal pools under the bridge, barely enough water to carve the silty bottom of the marsh into rivulets. When that tide rolls in, though? That’s a different story. The salt water flows in and submerges the almost garishly green marsh grasses. The bridge becomes a launching pad for the neighborhood adrenalin seekers, some complete with choreographed group dances and cheeky chants. There’s a remarkable difference between the two extreme states of the tide, yet it is predictable and easily planned for – just refer to the chart. It’s there in black and white.

This year, for the first time in a long time, we’re vacationing with a baby, and for the first time ever – it’s a girl. She was present (in utero) last year, but nothing really prepared me for sharing a house with a baby again, especially a busy baby on the verge of walking. Like childbirth, you just forget what was demanded by those days, it was simply survival when you were in the thick of it. The minute details (each of which seemed ever so critical at the time) of taking care of a child have disappeared faster than a sandbar in a rising tide.

Despite promises made, be it to yourself, your child(ren), or the well-intentioned older person offering advice, just like you’ve heard your entire life those early days of parenting/babyhood go far faster than could ever be imagined. There was no punctuation to mark the end of that chapter of parenting. It’s gone, and unlike the tide it won’t be back.

This year my middle son chose to only stay in Massachusetts for one of the two weeks of our vacation. He wanted to be home, hanging with his friends and practicing lacrosse. I felt that I needed to respect his preference and, for me, it was an exercise in letting him go. I was okay with the decision, but I’m less able to accept the fact that 2012 may have been the last year that my boys and I would be together for a two-week vacation at the beach. How could that even be possible without some sort of acknowledgement? Where’s the chart to refer to for important things like that?

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Filed under aging, beauty, Boys, Cape Cod, family, moms, musings, Observations, Summer, vacation

Vision

What once was lost, is found.

What once was lost is found.

The most remarkable thing happened this week – an occurrence which could be considered as a divine lesson about yielding control and letting the miraculous happen. I mean, if you’re inclined to think that way. Decide for yourself.

My youngest son, who has extremely poor eyesight, placed (with great care, I’m sure) his glasses on a sandbar when he decided to swim instead of merely wade. Naturally, the tide was coming in with increasing enthusiasm and force and his glasses quickly disappeared, never to be seen again.

A woman observing our directed stares as we carefully searched the beach, told me not to completely lose heart. She said that her family had sacrificed a pair of goggles to the current only to have them returned the very next day at low tide. Come back tomorrow, she said. Don’t give up.

As we left the beach and walked past the few boulders which act as a boundary to the parking area, we saw a pair of glasses carefully placed on one of the large rocks. Apparently a pair of glasses had been found and were waiting to be reclaimed. Of course, Quinn tried them on and declared them to be perfect, a miraculous “fact” I quickly rejected as I asked my son to put the glasses back for the rightful owner.

Low tide was after dark so we returned the following morning for a thorough search of the area. Despite our best efforts, we turned up nothing beyond an addition or two to our shell collection. No glasses. Arrangements were made to have a back up pair of glasses delivered. We moved on.

In the late afternoon I received the following text from my friend, Aloysius: “Have q’s glasses.” Huh? Really?! It seems that after a full afternoon of kayaking, my friend and my oldest son had come ashore at the beach where Quinn’s glasses had gone to sea. As Aloysius picked up his dropped towel, he noticed a pair of glasses on a lower rail of the nearby fence. Liam quickly identified them as his brother’s and the tale of the glasses’ disappearance immediately became the story of their reappearance. How utterly amazing!

What’s the take away? For Quinn, I hope, it is a lesson about being more careful with his possessions, especially items necessary for his essential senses to properly operate. The lesson I’m focusing on is to accept loss while understanding that the possibility for being reunited remains. How about you? Any lessons about loss and recovery to share?

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Filed under Aloysius, Boys, Cape Cod, family, friends, Observations, Summer, vacation