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How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Mo's Journal
September 4th, 2008
08:53 am

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation
My daughters and I got back Monday from a one-week New England road trip. We had a lovely time. Details behind the cut.

Monday morning we drove to Mystic, Connecticut. No, not for the pizza (I've never seen the movie). There's a "living history" museum there called "Mystic Seaport" - a reconstruction of a nineteenth century whaling village, complete with interpreters who act out various aspects of life in such a setting. We've been there before, but not for many years. This kind of thing makes for a great History Geek Family Vacation. The interpreters love it when you ask lots of questions, particularly when kids do. It makes for a very interactive and fun learning trip.

We stayed at a nearby Marriott where I got a great deal from priceline. We got there in the early afternoon on Monday and decided to just enjoy the hotel facilities for the rest of that day. I had a hot stone massage (heaven!) and the girls had elaborate manicures that include massaging the hands and arms and paraffin. We hung out in the hotel pool and jacuzzi. We ate in the very nice hotel restaurant. We relaxed and started to feel like we were on vacation. The hotel had a nice pool and we swam morning and evening every day we were there.

On Tuesday Zara and I headed over to the Seaport bright and early and Kendra elected to sleep in.
They have a new thing at the Seaport this year called "Hands On History" where you can take classes in various 19th Century activities. Zara took the blacksmithing class, which was just wonderful. She used hammers and bellows and anvil and heated up metal to well over 1000 degrees farenheit and ended up with a beautiful decorative iron hook. It was quite amazing to see her create it, under the direction of the blacksmith, of course.

After Zara's class, we picked Kendra up at the hotel and spent the rest of the day at the seaport, looking at exhibits and going to lectures and demonstrations. I found the pharmacy and medical office particularly interesting - the interpreter was a retired physician with a particular interest in the history of medicine. The girls rented a sail boat and sailed around the harbor there for an hour. The seaport also has a very cute little planetarium and they do a live show about navigation using the stars. There's something great about a live planetarium show. Not as polished as the canned shows, but really using the equipment as it was designed, to be able to show the sky with different conditions and from different times and places ad hoc.

We had dinner in a seafood restaurant adjacent to the seaport. Zara and I had lobsters. It's my favorite food but I only have it once or twice a year and very much enjoy it when I do. We went back to the hotel for a swim and went to bed.

The next morning we were back at the seaport and this time both girls did Hands on History workshops: candle making and printing. One of the fun things about these workshops is you get something to take home at the end.
The girls took candle-making (and ended up with beautiful candles) and printing (and had cute note cards to take home, announcing them each as the newest printer's "devil" or apprentice).



Kendra also did a toy boat making activity. I particularly enjoyed a lecture and singalong on sea chanteys. We realized we wanted one more day at the seaport (we'd originally planned on spending Thursday either at the beach or the aquarium or both) so I went over to the membership office and converted our two day tickets to a family membership. Wednesday evening the girls both had hot stone massages, which they loved, too.

On Thursday both girls did the blacksmithing workshop. Kendra felt left out, having missed it the first time round and Zara wanted to do it again.
We went to the sea chantey presentation again (different singer, different songs) and Zara did the toy boat thing. We went on a little boat ride from one end of the museum to the other and also took the horse drawn carriage trip around the whole site. And we really enjoyed exploring the ships, especially the Charles W. Morgan, the last extent wooden whaling ship in the world. We also bought some souvenirs at the gift shop. Oh and the girls got capsized by a whale :-).




We moved on to Newport, RI Thursday night. We would gladly have stayed another night in Mystic and done the aquarium the next day, but I'd already paid for the RI hotel with priceline, so we went. The hotel had an outdoor pool, which was too chilly for me in the morning and for Kendra at all times, but Zara swam night and morning and I swam in the evening. On Friday we toured two of the Newport mansions: the Breakers and Chateau-sur-mer. A far cry from the lives of the folks in the whaling village. The kids were very impressed by the opulence. Well, me too, but I reminded them that the people who lived there got their wealth by stepping all over people like us.

Friday evening we headed to Northampton, MA where my kids' Uncle Ruth and her family live. We met vickifelder and her daughter there. Ruth is a wonderfully hospitable host and a great friend. I had seen her a couple of weeks before in Fire Island, so we'd caught up a bit, but it was nice to have a whole long weekend together. We hung out in their hot tub and the kids played on their trampoline. We shopped and poked around in downtown Northampton, which has a great Cool College Town vibe. We went to the Yankee Candle Flagship Store-cum-almost-theme-park, which is a zoo, but fun. The four adults had a grown up dinner on Saturday night while the kids had pizza and movies at home. We went to a county fair on Sunday and Vicki and I went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art while the kids had some more trampoline time and Ruth and Ellen had some home time. Unfortunately, Vicki's daughter sprained her ankle on the trampoline while we were there, and she and Vicki spent most of Sunday evening in the local ER while the rest of us had a barbecue. But we did save some barbecue for them, kind souls that we are :-).



Thanks for reading and picture viewing to any who got this far. It was my first "real" vacation (i.e. going away and taking off a whole week from work) since France in February of 2007. So I was kind of overdue. I'm glad we did it.

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From:fantasyenabler
Date:September 4th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
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Holy holiday! (Sorry, I'm feeling silly this morning.) It sounds like you found something really interesting there in Mystic. Blacksmithing...hmmm...

Now, I'm wondering if I'd ever get The Husband out of there if I were to take him. :)
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From:mofic
Date:September 4th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
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Hey, I barely got the daughters out of there! We definitely could have stayed longer. I hope to go back within the year, since I've got a membership for that long.
From:fantasyenabler
Date:September 4th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
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Awesome! You guys should definitely go again. I know you've got me sold on looking at it as a possible weekend trip now.

(Hmmm...The Husband has leave to burn and I have Fridays off...Hmmm...)
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From:davidfcooper
Date:September 4th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
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We've been to all three (Mystic, Newport, and Northampton); sounds like a fun vacation. I'm a little surprised that Kendra chose to join you. When I was her age I was done with traveling with my parents.
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From:ceeinjax
Date:September 4th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)

Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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LOL. I thought the same thing David did. *IF* we can get Trevor to go anywhere with us, he makes it clear that he's only doing it as a huge favor to us! ;-)
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From:mofic
Date:September 4th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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Well, I'm very happy she went. She certainly seemed to have a great time. Doran still seems interested in family vacations, too, although this one didn't work out in terms of timing.

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From:davidfcooper
Date:September 4th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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I just looked at your profile; interesting coincidence that you're in Jacksonville. I have a brother there who feels very isolated in what he perceives to be a red state environment. He's not on LJ but he is on Facebook. If you're also on FB say hi to him.
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From:ceeinjax
Date:September 5th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)

Re: Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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I am on FB, and I will do that! It is lonely down here for us liberals, but there are a few of us around! The loud and boisterous idiots just tend to drown us out. ;-)
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From:davidfcooper
Date:September 5th, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)

Re: Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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Thanks, Cecilia. Daniel's middle child Joshua is the same age as Trevor; in addition to politics you can also trade notes on parenting, music, and making sense of the world and our place in it from a rational scientific perspective.
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From:ceeinjax
Date:September 5th, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)

Re: Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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LOL! Sounds good. I like rational. ;-)
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From:davidfcooper
Date:September 5th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Hey, that's what *I* was gonna say!

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Daniel's world view is rational even though his personality is more emotional than logical.
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From:mofic
Date:September 4th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
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As I said to ceeinjax I'm glad she did come. I sometimes offer for the kids to have friends along on vacations, which I think extends the age at which family vacation is still fun. We've had lovely vacations with the kids' friends, including the shul retreat last June. But it's sometimes cost-prohibitive and it would have been this time.
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From:ceeinjax
Date:September 5th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
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Ya know, Dale, I've been thinking about this more. I really think the reasons Trevor didn't want to go on "vacation" with us this summer are:

1) We just went to visit Dave's family as usual. Been there, done that... and they aren't exactly either my or T's favorite people since Dave stupidly told us some of the garbage they have said behind our backs. Hell, as you know, *I* didn't really want to go either!
2) T & Dave don't get along at all so spending time with Dave in the car up there and back probably sounded like hours of torture to Trevor.

The more I think about it, the more I believe Trevor would love to take a trip with me if we could go somewhere without Dave... which isn't going to happen for the time being... for reasons I'm sure you can figure out. :-/

I hope to be able to put this theory to the test in the near future... perhaps next summer. Fingers crossed.
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From:libgirl
Date:September 4th, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Looks like you had a fabulous time!! :D

Such fun and I'm glad that you got a chance to get away. :D
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From:mofic
Date:September 5th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad, too!
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From:cherrypin_up
Date:September 4th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for talking about home {sniff}. We will be there if it takes another year. The kids and I haven't been to Mystic since before Angel. I actually went to Northamptom last on the day I found out I was pregnant with her.

I'm glad you all enjoyed it up there. Maybe we'll be home by he next time you go. I know I keep saying that. :-D
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From:mofic
Date:September 4th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
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You belong in New England. You will return.
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