Saturday, October 19, 2013

Talgo - the new train on the block

Mt. Jefferson
I can’t ask for a better weather to venture around Union Station this morning. In fact there is no rain in sight for the next week. I am talking about the Northwest here and I am also talking about the later part of October. That’s a treat if you ask me.

I was too anxious to see this new train; I went last weekend without checking the date. The show was only open for two hours from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, so I came just before it was open and way too crowded.

It’s good to see the new train will be in service soon, the only sad part if this is European technology. The US only make freight trains.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013
Welcome to the autumn season 2013. I almost always go to the same spots year after year, but yet, the colors are strikingly different from one year to the next. I usually do not venture too far from home. This morning I took a drive seeking the first colors of the fall season. Can you guess the number one enemy to the fall colors in the Northwest area? If you say the rain, then you can give yourself 100 points. So, before the rain came this morning, I managed to take a few images, this would be the first of the series, I hope to take more pictures next week. Oh, by the way when I went to the New England states, I read, “ Autumn is the second spring when the leaves turn colors”. It is so true. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Lobster Roll
Well, I do hope that you enjoy our two-week vacation. Thank you for taking along with us exploring the entire New England states plus one province in Canada. It was certainly a trip that would be hard to forget. I think overall we drove about 1,500 miles, which was not bad considering the many places that we visited. Thank you to many of our friends who give us suggestions what to bring and what to see during our trip. We now know how to travel light and yet still have more than what we need.

In this “Snapshots” section, most of the images I did not see with my regular camera and was taken with our mini iPad. It has a decent quality. Pokie had the control of such device. Enjoy!

Here’s the whole trip:

Newport, Rhode Island

The Elms
Newport, Rhode Island was the last stop of our two weeks fun filled and tired trip, I have to say that we saw a lot of places in that duration, we could not cover everything, there are many places that I wanted to see but just did not have time such as Kennebunk Port, Maine, Gloucester, Massachusetts and many other places.

Newport, Rhode Island is famous for its mansion row, I did ask for just one mansion to see and I was told to go to explore The Elms. This particular mansion was to become a parking lot if the Society did not come and rescue it in 1961 when the last of the Berwind died.

In its heyday, this mansion was the most modern in all of Newport; electricity was present in the early1900s, and telephone was used throughout the mansion as intercom. Modern plumbing was present as well.

The Berwind family made the money in the coal industry, at the time the mansion was built for slightly over $1.0 million or about $36.0 million in today’s dollar. Oh, I forgot to mention, there are two entrances in the mansion, the front was for the distinguish guests and the side entrance was used for service and the maids.

John F. Kennedy Museum, Hyannis

Young JFK
Upon returning from Martha’s Vineyard, we went straight to John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis Port. Pokie is fascinated with the Kennedy story and wants to explore more. The museum entrance ticket is $8.00 and I think it is over rated since most of the information you can find them in the Internet.

Martha's Vineyard

Edgartown, MA
Our idea of vacation is still not lounging in a five-star hotel sipping “Mai Tai” or “Pina Colada”, our style is get up and go and see as many places as we can. With that, we woke up at 5:00 A.M, get ready for the hotel breakfast at six and drive to Woods Hole to take the 8:15 A.M. ship to Martha’s Vineyard.

The drive from Hyannis to Woods Hole was not bad considering it is not a freeway but a regular street; this is not even a highway. The traffic was getting busier and we saw school buses to get ready since this was a school day.

We got to Woods Hole with 45 minutes to spare, ticket was $8.00 one way, not bad considering Martha’s Vineyard is the play ground for the rich.

Once we reached Vineyard Haven, I asked around and we were told to take the bus to Edgartown with a municipal bus. But, most of the businesses were close for the seasons. We only spent three hours and we were back at the dock for the noon ferry back.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Provincetown, Cape Cod

Race Point Beach
We are done with big cities. Today, (Tuesday September 17th) we drove more than 100 miles to Provincetown, the very tip of Cape Cod. We went to Race Point Beach, the last beach and the most eastward we could go.

We found Pilgrim Tower, which rises 252 feet or about 25 floors; I have to say that I was proud of myself having climbed all the way to the top and able to take a few photographs. The wind was furious and constant. It was indeed a cold day.

We had lunch at Lobster Pot, but the lobster roll was not a good match for Pokie, it has too much mayonnaise, from the entire trip this was the worst according to Pokie. The town was full of people despite the season was over for the summer.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Skyline
I am halfway now in term of looking at the images. Welcome to Boston, a city full of history. This city was founded in 1630, almost four centuries ago. We stayed in Braintree, a suburb of Boston to the south. Do not drive your car into downtown, traffic is a mess plus you can buy many dinners with the parking fees. Instead we took the “T” line (subway) from Quincy Adams to Park Avenue downtown; the hotel shuttle took us to the station.

Our walking tour starts at the visitor center and we followed the RED line, this is the Freedom Trail. It was almost lunchtime so we went straight to the Quincy Market, which in my opinion is like a food court in a mall, and the foods are not that great. It is kind of over-rated. We went to Little Italy to get some pastries that everyone was carrying at that time. It is just Okay, nothing special.

The second day, the weather turned for the worst in the morning, wind and light rain. This condition was not ideal especially when we took the first Boston Harbor Cruise. It was plain cold. We were smarter when it comes to lunch now; we went to an 1826 Union Oyster House, an established restaurant. Pokie had a cup of New England clam chowder and a plate of Fried Oyster and I was able to order Mac and Cheese.  If I could eat in the seafood restaurant, then it is good. Hey, I am not the only one who ordered Mac and Cheese; the next person to me ordered the same thing because she was allergic to shellfish.
We also visited the site of Boston Marathon bombing, not much left and no sign, we need to ask around for the exact location, we just want to see where it was since Pokie recognized the area from the news back in April. It was quite a walk. By three o’clock we were tired and ready to get back to the hotel. Overall impression, Boston is a big city, we only explored a small part of it where the tourists flocked like migrating birds. We still want to go back to see JFK Library next time around.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

To Portland, Maine

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge

After a gastronomic adventure of lobster, we continued south via Highway 1 to Freeport, home of L.L. Bean that opens 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. No kidding! We passed this beautiful bridge complete with its observatory but we did not take the tour. It is the tallest of its kind in the world.

Taking highway 1 turned out to be a slow going, plus I did not charge my camera battery last night. Stopping at Freeport, Maine was a bonus. Pokie had her first lobster roll at Linda Bean, which turned out to be the best of its kind. Enjoy the short trip!

A small note, we got lost a few times trying to listen to our GPS and looking at the map. Mo more of this highway in the future endeavor.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain
Yesterday was September 11th and we spend the whole day traveling some 230 miles from Quebec City, Canada to Bangor, Maine, not all the roads are freeway, plus the there were too many questions at the US border, the agent even asked for the car rental agreement. Basically, it takes longer to come back to your own country than to go to Canada.

Today, we drove just an hour from Bangor to Acadia National Park, I was not too impressed with the scenic drive until we went up to the Cadillac Mountain, the view is impressive, and the town of Bar Harbor is visible. The threat of rain remains high but that was just a threat. No rain came down on our visit.

Pokie found the lobster pound; it was her highlight for the day. This was her second lobster in the trip. “Number 4, your lobster is ready”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quebec City Tour

I remember

The next day we decided to take a bus tour, we were glad we decided this alternative rather than driving back to the Vieux Quebec. It is a mess and the drivers there are some of the worst, we witnessed two drivers not wanting to yield, although it has become one lane. Just plain crazy! The rain was still prominent that morning, plus all the tour bus had to yield to the bicycle race, resulting to some areas that we had to miss. One of the places that we wanted to see is “La Citadelle de Quebec”, the rain just would not let up for us to go there.

The city tour was done in the morning and continue the suburbs of Quebec after we had lunch, a new bus took us to the Montmorency falls, “Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre” and ‘Ile de d’Orleans” or Orleans Island, plus some of the TOULIST TLAP, but overall were good destinations.

Pokie was a bit disappointed that the gift shop at the Sainte Anne church was closed at that time. The weather was much better in the afternoon. Guess what, when we left Quebec the next day, it was bright and sunny! What a trip to this part of the country, I felt that I went to Europe without crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

PS: The tour guide told us that there are only two seasons in Quebec, construction and winter. I thought that was very funny.

Vieux Quebec

The artists quarter

We continued north-bound and proceed to cross the Canadian border, spending only a few minutes at the border crossing with a hardly any questions; coming back to the U.S. is completely different story. Pokie wanted to press on and continue to Quebec City, but I said “No”. She was too excited to see and feel the city, we ended up staying overnight in Drummondville, some 90 miles shy of “Ville de Quebec”. We stayed in Comfort Inn, this is the worst motel from our entire trip, it was still under construction and the smell of the new carpet drove me nuts.

The next morning, we drove east to Quebec, using our GPS set close to the “Vieux Quebec”, but too many streets were closed due to the bike race the next day. We ended up going through the “Old Quebec” and were caught in the traffic for awhile. Finally we were able to find a parking structure away from the city wall and parked our car there. The weather turned ugly. It was raining and miserable but it makes good photographs.