A Glorious Sunday Drive

threedonia.com What you looking at, lazy?

threedonia.com
What you looking at, you lazy bum?

You have to understand that not only does my husband (Mr. B), have a very demanding job but he also has the work ethic of an Ox.  Me?  I like to work hard but my pace is more like that of a three-legged donkey.

So weekends for Mr. B are not about lounging around with me drinking Sangria and doing jigsaw puzzles.  For him, daylight hours are to be used to their fullest.  One must get things done from sunrise to when the sun don’t shine no more.

 Imagine my joy when last Sunday, he decided to be a slacker and take me on a mystery drive during daylight hours, people!

He told me to dress sporty (because he knows me too well) and to prepare for an active day.  After changing my outfit 17 times, putting my sneakers on and applying bright red lipstick, I was ready for the day.

Take a look at the images of this glorious day:

Shelburne Falls, MA         brickhousechick.com

The only bridge of its kind in the world.  It was built in 1908 as a trolley bridge across the Deerfield River between the towns of Shelburne and Buckland.  When the trolley line stopped in 1928, the 400-foot concrete path was left abandoned. In 1929, Antoinette and Walter Burnham with the help of the Shelburne Falls Woman’s Club, transformed it into a bridge of flowers.  There are more than 500 varieties of annuals and perennials planted on this bridge.

It was truly breath-taking

IMG_1118IMG_1120 IMG_1123 IMG_1127 - Version 2 IMG_1128 IMG_1129 IMG_1130 IMG_1132 IMG_1133 IMG_1137 IMG_1140 IMG_1141 IMG_1143 IMG_1155 IMG_1157 IMG_1160 IMG_1163IMG_1169 IMG_1176 IMG_1223 IMG_1224

brickhousechick.com

We then ate brunch at a quaint outdoor café, where I spotted a bald eagle flying over us.  When you are married to a birder and you spot a good bird before he does – YAHOO!

Sorry, it was pretty high up there.

Right around the corner from the bridge, we headed down to see the historic glacial pot holes.  Originally a cascading waterfall, it is now one of the 10 dams built on the Deerfield River (one of the most heavily used rivers in the country) as part of the hydroelectric development in 1910.

 brickhousechick.com

brickhousechick.com

Here is a brief description on how the potholes were formed:

“When the last glaciers melted, the Connecticut River Valley was flooded, creating a huge lake – Lake Hitchcock. As the lake drained, it swelled the flow of the Deerfield River. The river, carrying in its rushing waters a large load of stones, sand and mud, began to erode the hard metamorphic rock over which it flowed.”

“Potholes formed when stones trapped in cracks in the riverbed were twirled and vibrated in the fast-moving current, drilling their way into the river bottom. If you look carefully, you can see some of the rounded stones that carved out these potholes.” (courtesy of Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce)

brickhousechick.com

IMG_1209

IMG_1206

IMG_1192IMG_1191 IMG_1202 IMG_1205

brickhousechick.com

Until several years ago the public was allowed to walk the potholes and swim by the river but because of hazardous conditions and injuries,  access in now restricted.

Our last stop (well, I waited in the car because of my fear of train tracks, it’s a long story) was the Hoosac Tunnel.

Hoosac Tunnel U.S. National Register of Historic Places

Hoosac Tunnel
U.S. National Register of Historic Places

It is an active railway tunnel that runs through the Hoosac Mountain.  At 4.75 miles long, it remains the longest active transportation tunnel east of the Rocky Mountains. The tunnel project was completed in order to connect Boston to upstate New York.

Sadly, there were 193 lives lost during construction.  It was nicknamed “The Bloody Pit.”

An old Postcard from 1909 advertising a Hoosac Tunnel excursion. HoosacTunnel.net

An old Postcard from 1909 advertising a Hoosac Tunnel excursion. HoosacTunnel.net

Mr. B was brave enough (it’s an active track, mind you) to walk to the entrance of it and take a peek.   Fortunately, he did not go inside.  Between the fear of an oncoming train and  tales of ghosts heard screaming inside, he felt it was imperative that he make his peeking, a quick one.

Read about Ghosts of the Bloody Pit here.

Our wonderful day ended with a family dinner out with our kids, once we got home.

A Glorious Sunday Drive Indeed

Big Sur, Gourmet Fluff, Broken Toes, Quacking &Squeezed Nipples

20131021_180336

Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Salmon

(Final post of three of my California trip. See post #1 here and #2 here)

When my mother and her husband go out to eat, which is often, they like to dine at the finest restaurants.  And why not?  They worked hard all their lives and are now enjoying their mid 70’s.  This trip, was no exception.  They set out to treat us to the best restaurants in Monterey and Carmel.

No, Friendly’s & Applebees are not on their list!  Needless to say,  I have gained another 15 pounds making a total of 25 pounds since I turned 50!  Or so my clothes say…

Going Gluten-Free went right down the drain and into the Pacific Ocean.

From Caviar

Ok, so it wasn't very filling, but beautiful.

Ok, so it wasn’t very filling, but beautiful.

To Killer Oysters20131018_135933_resized

To Warm Chocolate Cake with Pumpkin Ice Cream & Gourmet Fluff20131018_145809_resized

Ahhh…heavenly!

To top it all, they never allow us to pay.  One day my husband had to sneak away from the table and secretly pay the bill. SCORE!

Let’s talk El Sur Grande, shall we? You hear magnificent things about Big Sur, but seeing it first hand is surreal.  90 miles of coastline and breathtaking views.  It looks fake after a while and you cannot believe it is that picturesque.photo-592 photo-5851294300_10201069239188055_1342308749_o

Another day, my husband, older brother and I decided to drive (2 hours from Monterey) to San Francisco for the day.  We left early in the morning so we could see as much as we could before dark.

We were deterred by a little incident.

After coming out of the shower and going to my room, I walked straight into a leg of a chair.  Just like that.  We are talking, major STUB.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, Rheumatoid Arthritis has had it in for my feet from day one.  I have had several surgeries to correct the deformities and a couple of other broken toes.  Meaning, I am not a foot model.

After some choice words, I had to take the freshly broken little toe and bend it back to its original place.  Jesus. Mary & Joseph…it hurt!

photo 5-1

Well, you can’t expect every picture to be breathtaking!

Being the stubborn brickhouse that I am, I ignored the black & blue rapidly forming on my foot and got ready for San Francisco. The pain was so excruciating that my toe actually felt numb.

I have my broken toe to thank for our next adventure.  I have difficulty walking distances when I don’t have any broken toes, never mind touring Fisherman’s Wharf by foot with my little very broken piggy toe, thus:

QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!

You got it!  I forced my husband and brother to board a Duck Boat with me to tour from land as well as from the  water.  What a perfect way to see the city.

The free duck whistles they gave us were not enough to placate my husband and brother with Captain Crunch (as he identified himself) behind the wheel.  20131020_112814I on the other hand, joined my fellow tourists in the quacking action, ensuring that tourists walking the streets would look our way and basically laugh in our faces.20131020_114920As if that was not bad enough, when Captain Crunch asked for volunteers to drive the boat on the water, guess who raised her hand?

Sporting my mom's duck yellow jacket - how appropie

Sporting my mom’s duck yellow jacket – how fitting

I worked up quite the appetite from all that quacking so we decided to visit the Little Italy section of San Francisco for some good pizza.  Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, it was!  And it lived up to its reputation with its many choices of crusts and toppings.20131020_150333

But the reviews did not warn us about...Nipple Squeezing that apparently goes on at Tony’s.

Thankfully or regretfully (I cannot decide which one), it was not my nipples that got squeezed.  They were the nipples belonging to my older brother-that got the action.

It turns out that the couple sitting at the bar while my brother was ordering drinks was mighty friendly.  The 30-something locals who had been married for ten years, stroke up a conversation with my brother right away.

After much chit-chat,  the woman reached out and squeezed my brother’s nipples.  She claimed that they were simply too irresistible (who does that?).  After feeling violated (for a second), my brother decided to take revenge and squeeze her nipples.  At which point her husband laughed.

Being faced with the decision to return to our table and continue to dine with us or stay around to see what ensued next at the bar, he chose to “swing” his way back to us and tell us of this blatant attack.

My husband got very quiet…perhaps coming down with a bad case of envy that it had not been him at the bar.  But most likely, he was quiet because he was thinking of how beautiful his own wife is and how lucky he is to have me her?

We ended our visit to San Francisco viewing The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and having a night-cap at a bar by the water.

I did manage to escape from Alcatraz

I did manage to escape from Alcatraz

The flight back home was much shorter than the way there since we only had two connections instead of 20.  Once again, we got to sit right behind first class where only a short curtain with a gap in the middle separated us.

Our view of first class

Our view of First Class

The First Class menu we did not partake in

The First Class menu we did not partake in

*A big shout out to Bitter Ben

http://bensbitterblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/if-you-missed-bitterness-this-week-your-aim-was-a-little-off/

 who bitterly helped this Twitter Virgin with her new Twitter account and is my first (and only) twitter follower!  Please join Bitter Ben and follow me

and make sure to also follow him 

so he doesn’t get bitter with me!

But hey…at least our tickets were free

google.com

google.com

After 50 years of flying, we finally managed to accumulate enough miles to fly for free.  My husband and I decided on California since my mother recently moved there with her husband.  We even had left-over miles to cover our car rental minus ($60)we were short.

How cool is that?  Pretty cool except that free tickets often mean flying all over the country before reaching your destination.  Our itinerary was to fly from Boston to Miami (really?) to LAX to Monterey.  But hey…at least our tickets were free.

We got up at 3:45 that morning, drove 1.5 hours east to the bus terminal ($44 round trip bus fare & $60 weekly parking fee) and rode the bus for 45 minutes to the airport.  But hey…at least our tickets were free.

The airline we were flying is not one of the ones that lets you check in the first bag for free. Nope. ($50 for two bags).

While planning our trip, since –But hey…at least our tickets were free, I decided to splurge a bit and get a one day pass to all the Admiral Clubs ($99) at the 200 airports we would be stopping at.  After all, what would we do during all those lay over hours?

Let me tell you, I am never waiting at a regular gate again!  They had huge comfy chairs, complimentary drinks of the alcohol variety, immaculate bathrooms with FREE feminine products and mouthwash. Hello?  Except that the food was not free and we had a ($40) lunch.  But hey…at least our tickets were free.

When I travel, I always ask for wheelchair services (it‘s one of the  perks of having RA) because it is exhausting to walk through airports.  They wheel me to ticket counters, Admiral Clubs, gates and I get to board first.  My hubby is always right there carrying all the heavy carry-ons…wishing he could sit on my lap.  This time due to the many connections, he dished out about ($25) in tips to all my friendly wheelchair pushers.  But hey…at least our tickets were free.

Our seats were the first ones behind first class.  Lot’s of leg room to stretch my joints but within viewing, hearing and smelling distance to the royal treatment of the one percent in this country, chewing their filet mignons and sipping their champagne.  Never mind that I was freezing but no blankets were available to us commoners.  But hey…at least our tickets were free.

After landing at our final destination at 1:00 am our time, we picked up our rental car but not before dishing out an additional ($70) in special insurance which covers the cost of loss revenue to the rental company in the event that we crash the car and they can’t rent it while being repaired. Really?

In conclusion, we hadn’t even arrived at my mom’s house and we had already spent ($400).

But hey…at least our tickets were free.

Stay tuned for more adventures including me getting “picked up” while at The Mission Ranch.

Why you should NEVER vacation with my husband

dep_10017540-Closed-Sign

The information below has not been altered or recreated and is in fact representative of real life situations experienced by my husband, while vacationing:

We are sorry, this historical monument is CLOSED during renovations.  

Due to a Hurricane 10 years ago, the Rain Forest is  CLOSED.

This natural popular attraction consisting of 220 rare limestone underground caves carved out hundreds of years ago by Taino Indians, which takes 2 hours of curvy roads to get to, is CLOSED for no apparent reason – even though our sign says that we are open 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm.

Due to the high rate of crime, you cannot walk around, explore, rent a car or visit any sites around this beautiful vacation destination.

This pristine and natural undeveloped beach is temporarily CLOSED while being torn apart by bulldozers and excavators hired by Hyatt.

Our breathtaking and naturally preserved open space is not open to the public because a huge mall is being built on the premises.

Due to the monsoon predicted on this Mexican Island – that  you are visiting for the first time – we advise that you not rent a mo-ped or…drink the water.

We regret to inform you that our famous coral reefs will not be visible to our tourists because of the ocean pollution consisting of oil slicks, pesticides, garbage, sewage and soil that has settled in the reefs and blocked the sunlight, not only making it impossible to see, but actually killing the corals.  Had you visited this natural wonder earlier in your life, you may have been able to enjoy it.

 And his luck continues:

Even though you have been waiting for 50 years to visit our beautiful State and attractions( California), and are finally getting time off from your very busy work schedule with your sexy recently turned 50-year old wife to visit us, and not to mention the fact that you love historic attractions and earth’s natural wonders AND will be here in a few weeks…

We definitely regret to inform you that due to the inadequacies and idiosyncrasies of our government and the fact that it will most likely NOT be resolved by the time you arrive,

ALL NATIONAL PARKS that you have been chomping at the bits to visit, WILL BE CLOSED. 

The Swim to My 50s – Eat, Pray, Love, Slurp & Lounge Your Way Through Puerto Rico

I was born in this Enchanted Island back in the early 60’s…

180627_1681672516578_7005705_n 168683_1681671716558_1709876_n

When I was nine years old, my parents decided to move my three siblings and I from Puerto Rico to a small town in the northeast to live.  Why, you ask?  Believe me, we asked and protested!  It had to do with a wonderful job opportunity for my father.

 It was quite the challenge (to say the least) since we did not know English very well.  But we soon adjusted, learned the language and have stayed in the States ever since.  All except for my mother, who moved back to PR.

Do you know how lucky I am to first, have such a wonderful mother, but also to have her live in this beautiful, spicy, warm and hospitable island?

I try to get there at least once a year, but it does not always work out that way.  However, when I do, watch-out island!  I EAT, pray (really, I do), love, drink, and enjoy every single minute of it.

If you have not been to PR, what are you waiting for?  No passport needed and a quick flight from most major cities!  There truly is something to do for everyone!

images-7 images-8 images-9 images-10 (None of these people are me) 

I am not going to pretend to be one of those tourist sites showing you the major attractions in Puerto Rico.  You can go to, http://www.visit-puerto-rico.com, for that.  

I will be showing you MY experiences in Puerto Rico and let me warn you, they have mostly to do with food!  {LOVE}

Although I stay at my mom’s place in Condado (a wonderful part of the island in San Juan filled with restaurants, hotels and beaches), my favorite place to lounge at is,  The Caribe Hilton.

 

Caribe Hilton Pool

Caribe Hilton Pool

DSCN5600  It’s so tough…being me.

My 'crib' at Caribe Hilton

My pimped-up ‘crib’ at Caribe Hilton

 

Photo on 2013-02-21 at 14.39

Need I say more? Need I say more?

AY! The dragon iguana!

AY! The Dragon Iguana (harmless)

The Hilton has a safe private beach, hammocks, a swim-up bar, drinks delivered to you at your request and, yes, iguanas – but don’t worry, they don’t show up very often.  It is heavenly to lounge around there.  Trust me.  {LOVE}

Now, for some of the most scrumptious food.  It is amazing what one can make with Plantain (looks like a green banana but bigger) .  Check it out:

188209_1706936988174_3311300_n

Before – Picture. Mofongo! Mashed plantain stuffed with seafood! Total food-gasm!

After Picture.

After – Picture
Yup, I finished the whole thing!

TOSTONES! Fried Plantain

TOSTONES! Fried plantain with a little salt and garlic

DSCN4585

Pinon! It’s like a lasagna except with delicious seasoned ground beef, green beans and plantain instead of pasta. We will kill for this!

180695_1689416150164_2140086_n

Churrasco with chimichurri sauce, rice and beans, avocado and sweet plantain!

Rice and beans are a must! 183896_1702795364636_8325964_n

Bistec with onions, rice and beans

Steak with onions, rice and beans

How about a grilled cuban sandwich (we borrowed it from that island near by) on a sweet roll sprinkled with confectioners sugar?  Mallorcas! Deliciosas! {LOVE}

Now, for the sweets and desserts:

184990_1699786649420_4416877_n

Puerto Rican Coffee-Mousse

Piragua de Frambuesa -Raspberry Snow Cone

Piragua de Frambuesa Raspberry Snow Cone

Flan!

Flan! Melts in your mouth.

Guava with cheese

Guava Paste with cheese

These… are just a few of the many wonderful indulgences to enjoy.

Moving right along to the beverages I love to slurp:

Piña Coladas

DSCN5580

Sssssllllluuuurrrrpppp!

 

DSCN5579

DSCN5578 You can learn some history while there…

Other slurpable drinks:

 

DSCN3623

Rum Explosion, with Bacardi Rum made on the island!

You go can visit the Bacardi Rum Factory while there!

Sangria!

Sangria!

Fruity and refreshing!

 

DSCN5619

The best Margarita in town (Super Strong) @ Auroritas

*Have a designated driver when visiting Auroritas.

I know what you are thinking — besides, how fast can you get to PR, why doesn’t she weigh 300 lbs. and will she make it to her 50th birthday?–  You have seen pictures of me eating, loving {everything about PR}, drinking and lounging, but what about praying?   

The truth is, I have no pictures of myself praying.  Only, because praying is a very private affair.  As long as the Big Guy upstairs knows I am praying, that’s all that matters. Right? Oh wait, is He also watching me doing the other stuff?

I hope you enjoyed my little tour and that you plan a trip to Puerto Rico in the very near future!  

Adios & Buen Provecho!