Friday, August 26, 2016

What a wild, wild month. We arrived in Virginia, unpacked our San Diego lives, and then packed right back up for our big trip up to New York and New England. The adventure was awesome and worth every ounce of - work. ;) Funny how that goes, right? That vacations can be so much work? I think it makes them all the more rewarding, though. You put a lot in, you get a lot out. So was the case with this epic trip of ours up the East Coast. We will never forget adventure!

So this post is long (but it could be longer!); I intentionally kept my big camera at bay certain parts of the trip so that I could be totally present. Like during our first three days in NYC. This was our first trip to New York City, and I wanted to be able to breathe it all in, no equipment attached. But on Saturday in NYC, I took the camera for a spin to capture just a smidgen of what our five (amazing!) days were like in the Big City. The rest of the photos cover bits of Rhode, Island, the Boston Area, Maine, and Philadelphia. 

But let's begin with Saturday, August 16, in NYC...

We packed the day full of sights, just our every other NYC day (I *attempted* to re-cap them on Instagram. Truly, that's an impossible task for a day in NYC). Except this was the HOTTEST day not only of the whole trip, but I swear, of my whole life. We just stood there dripping, dripping (!!) in sweat. Even in the shade and while inhaling ice cream. It was mildly embarrassing and totally gross, but whatever. Water under the bridge ;) and we still had such a blast. We did Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane's Carousel, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, the JP Morgan Library and Museum (hallelujah, we cooled off in there), Grand Central Station, Chelsea Market, and the Highline...
 In front of the ice cream factory! Cutest little joint.
 We trained over to Manhattan and made our way to The Morgan - the library owned by JP Morgan + a fabulous art museum. This was BJ's brilliant idea - we so needed a place to cool off, and the girls were asleep, so we got to soak in the gem.
 Then we set out to meet Ryan's little sister and her husband at Grand Central...
 I spy with my little eye...(Ryan! Can you spot him??) ;)
 Then we trained down to Chelsea to go Chelsea Market for dinner. I could've had dinner at five different places that night, but we went for the #1 rated place, Los Tacos No. 1 (aptly named)! I do have to say, though, there's a join in La Jolla that just beats this place, so when you come see us in San Diego next year (and on through forever!), we'll take you there. These babies were a good, close second, though...
So Emily, Ryan's only sister, served an LDS mission in Manhattan a couple years ago, and coming back with her expertise behind us all was awesome.
Claire Bear and her love, Uncle Cam. Cam and Emily were tremendous with the girls - so so kind and patient with their incessant love. We love Emily and Cam!!
 Then we hit The Highline! If I lived in New York, I'd make it a point to get to the High Line pretty regularly. It's surprisingly tranquil in that bustling city, and yet you're still in the mix of all the beautiful buildings. This spot is a gem!
So Ryan's family - the Awerkamps - are ice cream lovers. Sadly, I am not (gimme all the cookies!), but I still *barely* get alone with them, so it works. ;) But, yes, they love ice cream, so ice cream was a big part of our New York trip. This spot - Ample Hills Creamery - has a #3 rating for being the best in the city, so even though it was 9:00, we stopped for a lil treat (I got the pie).
Since we wanted to see the Manhattan Temple, we attended church there on Sunday - beautiful spot. A Sunday to worship and just spiritually be hasn't been so welcomed in a long while (I am so grateful for the Sabbath Day)! Then on Monday morning, my Ry Guy went to SoHo extra early to get the internationally acclaimed Cronut while I packed up our part of the Brooklyn Brownstone we stayed in for the week, and after saying goodbye to Cam and Emily, we grabbed a cheap, greasy, good NYC pizza, and took off for the rest of our grand adventure. Seriously, we HEART NYC. Till next time!!
 What I want to remember about NEW YORK!
- How much we loved it! We can't wait to go back.
- The walking. Walking everywhere was wonderful.
- The food. We did a different type of food every night for dinner: Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mexican,  American. We ate so so so much food. :)
- Attending church in the same building as the Manhattan Temple. Such a unique setup! 
- The girls loved the train. We stayed in Brooklyn and trained to Manhattan daily, and luckily, they loved the train. 
- Seriously, though, we can't wait to go back!

We left New York on Monday afternoon, we stopped in Connecticut to visit a dear friend, and then spent that evening in Newport, Rhode Island. WOW. Newport! We didn't have enough time there. At least not enough day time. So next time we'll hit that spot in the late afternoon -- the famous Cliff Walk again and we'll tour a mansion next time, too. 
This FACE. Oh I love Claire!!
HUGE shoutout to Ryan's older brother, BJ, for trekking on with us after NYC and being the best uncle in the world. He is truly one of the most patient men I've ever met in my life. We love BJ!!
What I want to remember about NEWPORT!
- The stark contrast between the bustling, buzzing city and the tranquility of the country. I get why all the rich New Yorkers of the Gilded Age built their "getaway cottages" there. Nature is a cleannnnnsing thing. 
- It is simply beautiful!

The next day we drove to Boston! We did one half-day in Boston that first day, and we hit up the Public Garden immediately to ride a swan boat, and find Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings. My sweet friend, Lizzie, lent us her book, "Make Way for Ducklings" when we visited her in CT, we read the story about 10 times during the drive, and truly, we wouldn't have enjoyed Boston half as much without connecting with the city through that book before being there. I guess it's having kids -- something as simple as seeing your storybook come to LIFE in your children's eyes is magic and some kind of wonderful. 

However, first the girls (mostly Claire) took a little dip in the pool/fountain thing in the middle of the park. Luckily Ryan had run back to our parked car to look for Claire's missing shoe, so he grabbed her a change of clothes before we hit the Public Garden. I found myself wanting to be so annoyed at Claire for totally disregarding me when I pretty much begged her to not get soaked, but then "Let them be little" almost reprimanded me mentally, and I let her be. Oh so little. :)
 The Mallards on their new, little island! :)
 The girls unloaded my backpack and partied on the swan boat, no big deal. ;)
 Then we searched the Public Gardens for the actual ducks... ;)
 We skipped up to Maine for one day in-between our Boston days and oh my. We were smitten beyond words. If you ever visit New England, you've got to make a stop in Ogunquit, Maine. Eat a big lobster roll, a whoopee pie, and sail on the Atlantic Ocean. We strolled down Main Street, grabbed a few treats, and made our way to lunch in Perkins Cove before embarking on our sailing adventure...
Lunch at the Lobster Shack!  
 Claire was all over that boat before we took off. She has few fears, that one!
 The coast as we sailed away...
 The sails! And this is where I put away my camera. :) The water was choppier than anyone expected, so while it was so awesome to sail on the Atlantic, I was nervous. This was my first time sailing - not Ry's, which is why it was his idea - and despite the rough waters, it won't be my last!
 Our captain! I had to steal a shot of that pedestrian bridge opening up for our boat to sail on through. (and can you spy with your little eye - Ryan in this pic? :))

What I want to remember about MAINE!
- How stunned we were by how impressive it is. The place is simply beautiful. The homes, colors, overflowing flower pots + baskets...it's just stunning.
- That food! We liked the clam chowder more than the lobster roll, have to admit it, but we'd eat more lobster rolls and take buckets full of that chowder (come on, it's Maine)!
- Sailing. Sailing was pretty unreal. :)
We gave Concord and Lexington a half-day -- and I have to admit -- truly, because Orchard House is in Concord. The history in Lexington and Concord is unbelievable, I know, and so important to America's story, but, I was there for Little Women! I grew up on Little Women - the 1994 film with Susan Sarandon as Marmee and, of course, the novel. I remember reading the novel in the fourth grade and thinking life was pretty complete. I knew the whole story, from front to back, and I couldn't wait for the day when I, too, would be Marmee to my own little girls. I cried - totally cried! - when we drove through Concord and pulled up to the house, realizing that in so many ways, my dreams have come true. I am so grateful to be a mom. So grateful. So often I don't feel cut out for the job, but I'd take a life of playing and growing up with my daughters over anything.
And if being there alone wasn't enough, my own little Meg (Olivia) brought me this itty bouquet and melted me further. "For you, Mom. I love you." I love Olivia!!
We spent that late afternoon - evening back in Boston, mostly in The Children's Library of the acclaimed, Boston Public Library in the heart of that stunning downtown. This was Ry's good idea (he had all the good ideas on this trip!) - knowing that the girls love art, and that doing something apart of our normal routine at home, like going to the library, he planned to make it to the Children's Library in time for the Art Hour, and then we read away till dinnertime. And that was it for Boston!
 Olivia said this was a map of the world - "the whole world, Mom" :)
What I want to remember about BOSTON!
- It was our hardest city to tour, simply because it was big enough to see a lot yet we knew no one there and navigated our stay there entirely off of naiveté. 
- It was beautiful. The city seemed squishier - like the buildings were closer together, sandwiching old, one-lane streets - but man was it beautiful. 
- How well the girls did on our two walking tours. They are such good, good girls! I'm so obsessed.

Our primary Philly stop was the open house of the new LDS Philadelphia Temple. We frequented the San Diego Temple all summer long, and Miss Olivia would say over and over, "Oh I just want to go inside!!!" I tried to fill her cup with photos of its interior, and they satisfied a tad, but it was promising that we would actually go inside a temple together in Philadelphia that consoled her. As expected, the morning inside was everything we hoped for - Olivia was thrilled. Claire was so confused as to why she couldn't run everywhere, but you know, 2-year-old probs. :)
 Right after the open house, we walked back to our neck of the woods (such a pretty area!) to have lunch at the Reading Terminal Market...
 I turned and found her like this. :)
 And (sadly!!!) I almost turned green while eating this. :/ I was getting the girls candy in a candy shop while Ryan went to get us a Philly Cheesesteak, but he was told to get the sandwich below - roast beef, provolone cheese, cactus, and broccoli (even writing that out makes me want to lose it) - because it was a healthier version of the Cheesesteak + the most popular sandwich in America??? Oh my gosh I do NOT know who he talked to, but we both were like, wow.
 Again, I snapped these pics before we ate the sandwich. Hence the smiles haha. :)
 Luckily we washed America's best sandwich down with some donuts that, actually, probably are the best donuts in the country. We're not even donut people, but the recommendation to go here was spot on. Wish I could give you one of the s'more donuts right now...
 We dashed back to the hotel to pack up before check-out time. The girls played, and I snapped a few pics...
 Claire + her camwa. "Mom cheese!" She's talking so well
I remember doing this exact thing with my little brother after staying in a fancy Park City hotel with my family - squeezing in-between the luggage on the trolley and believing we were on the wildest ride in the wilderness (I re-living childhood through my babies' lives)!
And with those two crazies packed up, that's a wrap. 

What I want to remember about PHILLY!
- How awesome it was to stay in that hotel right downtown. We were able to take on the city immediately after leaving our hotel - walked right out the doors to where we needed to be. Say yes to not having a commute! 
- We loved that it was/is a mix of Boston and New York City. It had the historical magic of Boston with the large city feel of New York. 
- That temple. I felt a peace inside - even more so, a joy - and I don't want to forget that for the first time ever, and probably for a long time, our little family was in the temple together.

We made it home in what seemed like 4 hours instead of 6, and happy are we to be back. More of our friends are back in Charlottesville than when we first came home to Virginia so we are happy. 

Now on to fun stuff here! 


  1. Looks like a magical trip!! The only bad thing about it is that sandwich from Philly!! I did high school in Philly, and let me tell you - those Philly cheesesteaks are the best sandwiches ever. But I've never even heard of the one Ryan got. haha. Glad those donuts at the end were able to wash it down. Next time you go to Philly, I'll tell you where to head!

    1. Oh I'll be reaching out, girl. We've GOT to redeem Philadelphia!! ;) XOX

  2. Love this Jeni! What a great trip. Thanks for sharing!

    1. The thanks is allll mine that you stopped by. I love Joanna Freeman!!

  3. Pretty sure we ate at the donut place in Philly (at Dix's insistence, because I was like "we can get a donut anywhere") and I still dream of it... The best donut in the entire world. This trip looks so fun! The Northeast was somewhere just a little too far for us to drive from Columbus, but it's high on my list of places to go. I'll be consulting you before we do though :)


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