Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Internet withdrawal

I'd like to say that I prefer going places with no internet connection. But I can confidently say that It's A Giant Pain In My Ass when I'm on the hook for making lodging reservations for our next week of travel. But I can happily say that we now have reservations in Montpelier VT, Oswego, NY, and Niagara Falls.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Emergency room

No, neither of the girls, thankfully. It's not even really an emergency, medically speaking. But the combination of health insurance policy rules and medical care available in Wolfeboro has me sitting in the Huggins Hospital ER on an overcast Sunday morning. Oh, the indignities of aging. Or possibly just of being me. Both of my ears have become so plugged by some combination of ear wax and lake water that I think I'm getting an infection in both ears and for sure I can't hear very well. Not being able to hear Alice's ridiculous whispers is horrible!

Thankfully the ER is almost empty. And the woman who checked me in happened to be looking for a financial planner, so we chatted a bit about how she should go about looking for one. I love being able to help people out like that, because it takes 5 minutes and no effort on my part and the other person can benefit so much because the financial planning profession (and personal finance in general) is so opaque to most people.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Enough to break your heart.

During this week on the lake, Grandma has been staying nearby with old family friends, the Goodwins, in Wolfeboro. Grandma returns home to Virginia today, so yesterday was the last day we saw her. We went in to Wolfeboro and, more than anything else, explored Jeff's amazing, beautiful home. Alice is in love. She got to sleep in Grandma's bedroom there, the fantastic "red" room. Then we had a mostly abortive trip to Jeff's beach to pick wild blueberries (Alice had refused to eat much for lunch and so was very fragile, and the leaves on the beach bottom set her off). We went to dinner at Morrisey's Front Porch, which culminated in a hot fudge sundae for Alice made with cotton candy icecream. (Parental commentary: Ugh.) When we dropped Grandma back at Jeff's house and were preparing to head out, leaving Grandma until our next cross-country rendez-vous, I let Grandma say goodbye to the girls in the car. When Grandma left the car she was quite verklempt, explaining that Alice had reassured her that "we'll always be together in our hearts." Alice's only explanation for where she'd gotten that beautiful but heartbreaking phrase was "from God."

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Alice has made huge strides in the last 24 hours with regard to swimming.

As of a few days ago she had learned to move around astonishingly well in her life jacket, kicking like a little motor boat, totally confident. Still, she would not willingly put her face in the water, which is a big deal for learning how to actually swim.

Yesterday, wearing goggles, she discovered the joys of leaping off of a platform into the water! Total immersion. She's now completely comfortable getting her entire head wet. In theory this will assist with learning how to swim without a life jacket, we think. Also, it's extremely cute. There are more photos in the Road Trip album (if you haven't got the link, drop me a note, I will cheerfully share it with you!) Here are a couple samples, though:

Sense of sniff.

There may or may not have been some farting last night. Alice got a whiff and started making a very whiney capital case out of it. She then aimed the fan in my direction. When she continued to make yuck faces I exclaimed that she couldn't possibly still smell anything. She retorted that "I have a very good sense of sniff."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Never again.

I ate lobsters every summer during my youth, while on vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee. Last night was the first time I ever cooked them myself. I don't care how sentient - or not - lobsters are. I will not be cooking or eating them again.

More journal:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We are living the New England summer stereotype.

We had doughnuts for breakfast (#2). Breakfast and lunch on the screened-in porch with a lake view. Went swimming and was warned enthusiastically and repeatedly about a "herd" of jellyfish (!!) so I'd better get up on the swim platform. Took a canoe ride with 2 little girls and Grandma along the coastline. Afternoon gin and tonic on the docks. Dinner cooked in a wood-fired stone oven next to the beach and served on a nearby picnic table (minus Mommy, who gladly took some time to herself up at the cabin as Beatrice was already asleep for the evening). Blueberry pie (from the Yum Yum Shop) and s'mores for dessert. Watching cousins run around after each other in some mad cap game under the canopy of pine tree branches. Showering the sap off the bottom of our feet, as we've been barefoot nearly all day.

It was all worth it.

I just did yoga in the early Sunday morning right on the edge of Lake Winnepesaukee. Pine trees and a cold clear lake and nights so cold I have to worry about my baby being warm enough in her crib and sap on the soles of my feet and screened-in porches for eating crullers with coffee on -- I am so happy it's practically tangible. We are staying at a place called Colonial Pines Resort, which I highly recommend. As long as it doesn't make it more difficult for me to come here.

One of the problems with this sort of travel is that we (parents) work from sun up to sun down. (A problem that goes away when we're stationary for a week, as we are now. Especially with other family members around!) One morning, while camping in Beaver Pond Campground, I woke up beside Molitor, who silently gestured up at the lovely moon, perfectly framed by the top of the tent. We shared a moment (almost literally) and then Beatrice woke up a feet away from our heads in the portacrib. Ah, we remember the days of camping as a childless couple.

Andrew's family (brother Andrew, not husband Andrew...see, it's confusing for everyone, no?) arrived yesterday, too, and most of all I was delighted to see how gleefully Ani and Alice played together. Alice was (and has been) so excited that she is talking a mile a minute...which makes Ani seem damn near mute. In fact, it might make Ani's entire family seem mute by comparison. Alice got down to the business of arranging playdates with Ani, arranging tours of each other's cabins, making sand pies ("they're made of sand though, so you don't EAT them" <emphatic hand and facial gestures>), and, of course, watching a bit of TV.

And now, back to this morning, where we are settling in for the looooong wait for Grandma to deliver doughnuts from the Yum Yum Shop. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

we are here!

We have arrived. At Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire. This is the view:

Despite the overcast sky, this is mind bogglingly beautiful.


Alice used the word "alas" when talking to me. I don't remember the context but it isn't important. I mentioned this amusing vocabulary choice to Molitor in front of Alice. Mere minutes later, Alice said, "I miss my friends. I wish I could have a play date with Mallory." We've been expecting her to be sad about abandoning her friends, so I was gearing up to comfort her when she looked at me and sighed, "Alas..." with a huge grin on her face. She had staged the conversation just to use the word again. Awesome!

more journal pages

These are pretty redundant with the more legible posts, but what the heck. Maybe it's a fun game, trying to puzzle out my handwriting!


Turns out our camping gear was still too damp to camp with, specifically, Alice's sleeping bag, which is the one item that most needs to be dry (Mommy and Daddy can make do). And according to Molitor's report from October Mountain State Park, as he was packing up our damp gear, the mosquitoes were out in force, so our enjoyment of the site, had we been able to stay there, would have dubious. (We are making avid use of calomine lotion and Benadryl cream as it is).

So, we decided to simply drive to the general area of the next campground (Pillsbury State Park in NH, about a 1.5 hour drive away from our destination today, Moultonborough, on Lake Winnepesaukee) and stay in whatever motel had space. Turns out this approach to finding lodging Does Not Work, at least at this time of year at least vaguely near the Lakes Region of NH. There was no vacancy (other than smoking rooms) in Concord, NH, and there was a festival going on so we couldn't even easily find parking to get out and explore by foot what looked to be a charming New England town. Molitor had found space in an EconoLodge in Manchester (another 15 miles away...and further away from Moultonborough...ugh), which is where we are now.

I was mighty disappointed that we had to go so far out of our way (it's not really that far, but it felt it) just to find a freakin' EconoLodge to stay in, but after my best night of sleep in a week (verging on 9 hours, interrupted only once by a thirsty 4 1/2 year old), I'm feeling very warmly towards EconoLodges. The building looks something like a converted mill, so our room is HUGE (and oddly proportioned), which was nice for Alice and Beatrice to play around in, making (or in Beatrice's case, slowly destroying) a fort made of all the blankets,pillows, and chairs and generally rolling around.

Today, we meet Grandma for lunch in Moultonborough and check into our cabin at 2 p.m. Finally! Yeah! Now we'll have 2 weeks on Lake Winnepesaukee to relax...and figure out how to better conduct our next stint of traveling.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Keepin' it classy in the Berkshires

Molitor is back at the campground packing everything up.  Everything was higgledy piggledy last night as we decamped to the motel. And things hadn't improved this morning by the time Molitor headed off. So it turns out he left us at the motel with, among other lacunae (like my wallet and clothing for Beatrice), no diapers. Beatrice had a poop so I had to take off her diaper. And now she's diaper-less (and pants-less). But that didn't stop us from going to the neighboring Dunkin Donuts, with one of the motel's washcloths tucked under her naked butt. 

Chillin in a Super 8 in the Berkshires (aka Lessons Learned So Far )

This post won't be as long as I want because I'm having to your it on my phone. Gesture typing is a damn near miracle, but it's still not great for long form prose. Normally I'd use the Chrome book but Alice is watching Dumbo on it with headphones while Beatrice sleeps in a possibly broken crib in the corner of our room at the Super 8 in Lee, MA, smack in the middle of the Berkshires. This is the first time I've had that precious combination of time and energy to write a blog post. That's life on the road with 2 small children!
A sudden rainstorm caught us unprepared at the beautiful campsite in October Mountain State Park last night, rendering the tent uninhabitable at least for small children so upon seeing the devastation I declared us motel bound. Thankfully Alice loves motels-especially those offering Fruit Loops For breakfast, as this one does, so... Pig... Shit... Happy... You get the picture. Meanwhile daddy is back at the campsite hopefully getting to enjoy this spectacular day as he packs up all of our camping gear, which we largely left behind last night in our desperate departure... also so it could dry out overnight. We quite regret not getting to enjoy the campground, which is breathtaking in a classic northern New England sort of way: we were actually camped right next to a rocky creek nestled in the woods.

So here are the lessons I've learned so far:

Alice is an amazing kid. She seems to be growing up at warp speed in just the 5 days we've been on the trip. She started taking showed instead of baths at grandma's house and has confined to love them at our campgrounds. She had her first bike wreck and then proceeded over the next few days to practice going up and down (smaller) hills until she proclaimed that she "thinks she's getting the hang of it." I can actually rely on her to help out doing small things and she is intensely interested in helping out with almost all aspects of camping. She always wants to go potty by herself and to walk back from the bathroom to the campsite alone. And most of all, when things got really stressful (that is, when we had to flee campsites for a hotel), it seemed that all she wanted to do was make her parents feel better. She was more than happy to camp or motel it, she didn't care.

NY state campgrounds -at least in Harriman State Park-have a stupid number of restrictions. No alcohol. No hanging anything from or tying anything around trees. No floatation devices or horseplay in the swimming area. Despite that (and the copious bug bites we 2 parents got), Beaver Pond Campground was perfection. At night we listened to what we think was a bullfrog croaking match. We saw deer, chipmunks, other cute varmints i couldn't identify, and a carrion bird, all close to our site.
I had a vague, unconscious notion ahead of time that this first week would go roughly and that we'd refine our processes and overall approach as we went. But that has come to the fore with a vengeance. Every day we discuss how to make things go more smoothly, from the minor (make due to have lots of food easily accessible from the front seat while driving, don't  unpack the clothing duffels from the minivan just take out the new outfits you'll need) to the medium (we need to set up our tent fully with rain fly immediately upon getting to a campsite, scout out possible motels to escape to before arriving at a campground) to the major (instead of driving a little each day and staying in a new place each night, let's drive more in one day without attempting to be tourists along the way and then stay for several nights in one place; no more than a few days' camping at a time).

Personal hygiene is a thing of luxury on this type of trip. I wouldn't be surprised if Molitor is perfectly content with simply getting a shower and brushing his teeth every day, but I miss brushing my hair and shaving and trimming my nails and the occasional application of tweezers. 

We have a reservation at Pillsbury State Park in New Hampshire tonight, a mere 1.5 hour drive from our ultimate destination of Moultonborough on Lake Winnipesaukee where we check into our Airbnb cabin tomorrow, I'm sure with much relief and happiness. Whether we actually camp at it, or stay at a motel again, depends on both the state of our camping gear after a night of drying and these parents' psychological stamina. It's an adventure! One thing is for sure, we will be the more resilient for it.

the story so far

The journal, while illegible, is much more complete! Meg will update in more detail later.

Six days in we've had several excellent nights of camping, and been forced to a motel two nights. Once by biting flies in Cape Henlopen, Delaware, and once by rain in October Mountain State Park. Nothing ruined, but bedding made damp before a cool night. The missed nights have been disappointing but we're learning how to do it better.

You need, I think, to be quite disciplined to both travel and camp with small children. Small problems can snowball pretty briskly and then you're looking for a hotel.

Alice had a minor bike crash and skinned her knew and elbow. She also learned to love peeing outside.

Beatrice loves everything about camping except the naps. She doesn't even mind the car rides much, although we wish she would nap in the car and she really does not want to.

We swam at Lake Welch in New York, and saw FDR's home in Hyde Park. We're one day out from New Hampshire.

Here's hoping we get another good night of camping! We're on track to camp in New Hampshire, just an hour or so from Lake Winnipesaukee.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Here are a few pages from our journal. I hope you can read my handwriting!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our new, temporary home

We are officially out of our Norfolk home. Yesterday was the last day we (rather, Molitor) went over to tidy up. We kept the old camping mantra in mind and left it in better condition than we found it. It was emotionally challenging to clean up all the detritus of our children's early lives and to leave behind the home where Alice has grown up and where we brought home a newborn Beatrice. Alice, thankfully, seems to be surviving the changes so far like a champ, not upset about what we've left behind but instead excited by all the new places and people we've already met just by living at Grandma's. Perhaps it's because we'd been prepping her for a few months, but also perhaps because she's resilient or trained by her significant travel so far.

Aside from the emotional discomfort, we are enjoying life at Grandma's: everybody has their own bedroom behind closed doors, central air, a little girl with a playset in an adjoining yard that Alice can play with at all hours of the day, unchaperoned by a parent.