Ann set the alarm for 3:30. Can you believe this? Getting up at 3:30 to go on vacation. We catch our flight on Southwest airlines at about 6:30. Quite an ordeal to get to Hartford, CT from Amarillo on SWA, We go to Dallas and then are informed that we must change planes and get on another plane to Austin. Change planes in Austin and fly to Houston, then to St. Louis. Change planes at St. Louis and then sit on the runway for 1 hour and 45 minutes because there is too much air traffic in and around Baltimore. When we get to Baltimore, we have missed our connecting flight to Hartford. We then book to get on a 7:00 flight to Hartford and find it won't even be arriving until 10:00. We were the only ones that knew that at the time and we hurriedly turned in our boarding passes and caught an 8:00 flight that was on time. We ended up getting to Hartford around 10:30. We used a coupon at Dollar to get a free upgrade to a full size car. We got a Dodge Intrepid Our luggage just barely fit in the trunk. We arrive at the Foxwoods casino shortly after midnight. Dad and I went to the casino and played some video games while the party poopers went to bed.
We got up and went over to the Casino part of Foxwoods around 10:00. We decided to eat at one of their restaurant there. Mom and Dad ate breakfast and Ann and I waited 15 minutes to be able to order off of the lunch menu. Ann got the largest plate of nachos I have ever seen. It was huge. After lunch we packed up and headed down to the Mystic Seaport. We went to the Mystic Aquarium and arrived just in time to see how they trained the seals. Then we saw a real cute Beluga Whale that sprayed me with water as I was taking it's picture. Ann's favorite friend there was a penguin that really put on a show for her. I liked the old seal that was sunning himself. We had planed to go to Newport to see the Mansions, but it was so late we decided to go on to Providence where we spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express.
This morning we drove around Providence and then over to Cape Cod. Ann really wanted to see Martha's Vineyard so we took the ferry over there. Saw our first lighthouse on the way over there. We found out that without a car there wasn't much to do there. After eating lunch there we boarded the ferry and headed back. We got to our motel the Blue Spruce around 5:00. We made sandwiches and had them for supper that night. After supper we took a short drive down to the beach. Ann and I tried to get in, but the water was freezing. I don't know how people can swim in that cold water. Our feet had frostbite from just dipping our toes in it.
After breakfast at Joyce's cafe we drove into Plymouth and saw Plymouth Rock. It is down about 6 feet and has a rail around it where visitor's can look down. It is inscribed with 1620 on it. Sign along the street tells about it. We then went to Plimouth Plantation. This is a replica of what the village of Plymouth would have looked like in 1620. They are dressed up in the old clothes and perform such chores as cutting firewood or weeding the garden. It was very interesting talking to the characters. They explained their religion and way of life. Dad didn't hear about the part that they didn't know anything that happened after 1627. One of the characters asked him where he was from and when Dad said Texas, he said he'd never heard of it and asked him what river it was close to. He called me over there and said "Brad, this guy has never heard of Texas". Ann explained it to him. We then went over to the Indian exhibit part of Pilmouth. There was a separate part that showed what an Indian encampment would look like. We saw their houses and how they built their canoes. Pilmouth Plantation was one of the highlights of our trip. Of course being a former history teacher, it might have interested me more than the others. We left there and went back to the hotel for sandwiches and Ann and Dad took short siestas. We then drove back into Plymouth and went to the Ocean Spray Cranberry Center. This was a neat place that gave you an idea of how cranberries are harvested and grown. They also gave us some coupons and best of all they gave away samples of their different juices. All you could drink and we were thirsty.
After breakfast at Joyce's cafe again it was off to Boston. We arrived there around 9:00. Took several directions to finally get downtown. On this trip we stopped and got directions no less than 50 times. I had downloaded maps in to my Handspring, but it crashed the first day. We parked downtown. I think Mom and Dad were awed by the large city. We parked close to the Old Statehouse and went next door to the Visitors' Center. If you go to Boston you must take this one hour walking tour that is led by a Park Ranger. We saw Faneuil Hall and a statue of Sam Adams. I seemed like Dad and Ann were always sitting and Mom and I were up listening. We traveled by foot over "The Big Dig", this is Bostons attempt to put the expressways underground. The Park Ranger said it would be finished in three more years. She also said some three billion dollars has mysteriously disappeared. We sure never found it. Then it was on to Paul Revere's house. After the tour we walked through one of the old cemeteries. Mom and I had done this in many of the places we stayed. We then took the subway over to the Prudential building to get on the Ducks. They are land and sea vehicles that tour Boston. They were booked till 4:00 and we knew it was supposed to rain. Rain it did. We left there and got totally soaked. The other time we were in Boston Ann and I were in a hurricane there and we got soaked then too. Dad had the great idea of catching a cab and he took us back to where we were parked. Then we headed for Lexington, a suburb of Boston. When we got to the Holiday Inn Express we were greeted by a family of geese. They were by our door and got to be a nuisance. We drove out to see where the Minuteman statue was. This was where the first shot of the American Revolution was fired. We ate at a Denny's next door.
We got on the road pretty early and got to Salem before anything was open. We had to wait until 10:00 before the tour started. On the tour we saw the Salem Witch Museum. We also saw the statue of the founder of Salem and several other things. Then we drove about an hour to Gloucester. This is where they have the famous statue of all the fishermen that have died at sea. This was featured in the movie "The Perfect Storm". That movie has really boosted tourism in Gloucester. We ate lunch at the Gloucester House that is overlooking the fishing fleet. They served the best fish I have ever eaten. It was grilled swordfish on rice. After lunch we drove on though parts of New Hampshire to Sacco, Maine where we stayed at the Hampton Inn. Here I called our good friends that live in Maine and made arrangements to meet them for supper. I then went down to the pool to sun and swim. Ann came down later and said that they had called back and wanted us to meet them an hour earlier to see the lighthouses. We are so glad that they did. The Portland Head lighthouse was just beautiful; one of the prettiest things we saw on the trip and without them, we would have missed it. We also saw several other lighthouses. The coast of Maine was very pretty. We got a Kodak moment as the ferry "Nova Scotia" was passing by another lighthouse and there was a WWI bunker in the picture as well. After our tour it was supper at DiMillo's on Longwarf. This was seafood at its finest. It is a floating restaurant and we got to see the Nova Scotia go by again. After a terrific meal ( I tried the fried lobster) we took another tour of Portland and then back to the Hampton Inn in Sacco.
Today was devoted to shopping the outlet malls in Conway, NH. We found several bargains. I got some clothes and Ann's big prize was silverware that matched what we already had. She said it usually cost about a hundred dollars, but was on closeout for $13.00. She was excited. Mom bought pants and a new purse. Hers got ruined in the rain in Boston. Mom also bought be an exact copy of the Portland Lighthouse in the Oneida store.Both lunch and supper was at Applebee's. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in N. Conway.
Today it was up and after breakfast head out to Vermont. We spotted this sign as we started to get into the mountains. They must really have a moose problem. We stopped along the side of the rode to look at the scenery, there was a beautiful brook running along it. We went past the Mt. Washington hotel, it was quite a large hotel. The first real stop was at the Cabot Creamery. They make cheese of all kinds there. We went though the Creamery and watched the workers making cheese. The best part of the tour was that you could eat all the cheese samples you wanted. After we stuffed on cheese and bought some of the cheese that they had on special, we continued to a place that specializes in selling Macintosh computers. I had bought from them before and they always invite you up to see them. We were so close that I took them up on their offer. It was neat and got me wishing I could get one of the new lcd monitors. While I was inside drooling, Ann set up lunch at their picnic table outside. After lunch it was time for desert. We went to the Ben and Jerry's plant. They talked to us about how they were founded and about all the different flavors that they have. After buying a pint of their low-fat ice cream Mom and Ann had their picture taken on the lid of a Ben and Jerry's carton, not to be outdone, Dad and I had ours taken. Our next stop was at a place where they made Apple Cider. The best part of it was all the cider you could drink. I drank my share and then some. Then it was a short drive to Stowe and up the ski road to the Inn at Turner Mill. This in my opinion was the only thing I would have done different this trip. We had the entire second floor, but it was not clean. We went into Stowe and ate supper at Gracies. This was a restaurant with a dog theme. After supper it was up the ski road to Smuggler's Notch. The road was very winding and the scenery was terrific.
We got up early and ate breakfast in Montpelier. We drove several miles out of our way to see one of the remaining Shaker Villages. It was very disappointing. We stopped in Manchester for an hour of shopping in the Mall of New Hampshire. After getting lost again we finally got to our motel at the Crown Plaza and were greeted this time by ducks. We saw a McDonald's that served up lobster sandwiches. That's my kinda McDonalds.
Happy 50th Birthday Ann. We got up pretty early so we could eat at McDonalds and then return our rental car. We ended up being there two hours early. It turned out that the flight was oversold. I saw that they were getting short of boarding passes so while Ann, Mom and Dad got on the plane, I stayed behind to see if they were going to be offering bumps. When I saw that they still had passengers needing boarding passes, I volunteered us. They gave us $200 each in travel vouchers. We had checked and saw that we could still barely make our connection to Amarillo from Austin by going through Orlando. We sure never expected to be in Florida on this trip. I gave a note to the flight crew asking them if they could acknowledge Ann's birthday. They went way beyond that. About 30 minutes into the flight they came on the intercom and asked Ann to ring her call button. When I did it for her they came and presented her with a cute planemade birthday cake. The "cake" was a roll of toilet paper with SWA swizzle sticks and SWA flight pens attached. Attached to the cake were two Twenty Five dollar gift certificates. They led the entire plane in singing Happy Birthday to her.What a great flight crew. While we were waiting to take off from Orlando to Austin the wind changed and they had to "turn the airport around". We had to wait about 40 minutes till all the planes came in and then wait our turn to take off. We missed our flight from Austin to Amarillo and had to catch a later one. We got in about 10:00. There was a message from our good friends on our recorder to look outside on the patio. There was a present that they had left for Ann. A neat wrought iron plant hanger with clown baloons attached. What a neat ending to a great trip.