Erin Virginia

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Monday, September 29, 2008

Portland, Maine

Chris, Johnny, Alicia and I drove to Portland, ME, through a sprinkling storm that transformed into a deluge by the next day. Lush New England is beginning its transformation to fall, and patches of leaves in the forests and thick stands of trees along the highway are burning stark, vibrant reds, yellows and autumn orange. To the chagrin of Johnny and Chris, Alicia and I spent too much time, in their opinion, poking through little shops. They ditched us to tour the Shipyard Brewing Company Brewery on the outskirts of town, where we ended up meeting them late afternoon. As you can see from the picture, the guys gave the brewery four strong thumbs down. The whole city smelled like sea-salt and smoke, even through the rain. Saturday night, we ate incredible pizza at a local restaurant: caramelized onions and figs. It might have been the best pizza I've ever eaten.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Boston & The Cape

Sean and Bonny flew into Boston early this past Saturday, toting a drugged Brigita in a carry-on bag. Chris, Greta and I picked them up at the airport and right away we set off for Cape Cod. Before we even checked into our hotel in Provincetown (at the tip of the Cape), we veered toward a beach along the National Seashore and spent the entire afternoon walking the shoreline and playing with the filthy dogs. We picked up scallops and a huge clam shell that drifted onto the sand. Perhaps the best surprise was watching a sea otter emerge, black and shiny, about 25 feet away from us. Our hotel room sat right along the shoreline with a clear view of the jetty, and we walked into town for an awesome dinner of clams, oysters and calamari. Bonny tried oysters for the first time this trip! Cape Cod is so picturesque with its clapboard exteriors and immaculate, flower-filled lawns. Our hotel sat back off the ocean just a bit, and Sunday morning, I got up early and huddled into a wooden chair outside our room, watching high tide shrink the beach. Greta sat with me in the gray rainy weather, whining at seagulls and other dogs traipsing the shore. Bonny and I both took pictures on the trip, and the shots below are from both our cameras.

Brigita relaxing in the sand
Chris helping a frantic Greta
Scallop out of its shell
Bonny trying her first raw oyster
On our way back to Boston on Sunday, we swung by Plymouth to see the 1620 rock and the replica Mayflower.
On Monday, we lounged around the house then drove to Castle Island in the afternoon. Chris' class started at 6:00, so to while away the time, Sean, Bonny and I ate lobster bisque downtown on the top floor of the Prudential Building looking out on one a great view of Boston and the Charles River to the West. We saw a movie after that and then walked a couple blocks to Chris' school to meet him just as his class let out.

Castle Island
The Top of the Prudential
Chris and I both went to work on Tuesday, so Sean and Bonny drove to Quincy to tour the John Adams and John Quincy Adams houses. That night we ate at Cuchi Cuchi, the 1920's tapas restaurant that Chris and I love so much. We shared tuna tartar cornets, oysters in champagne sauce, lobster in avacado and Russian bliny. Afterwards, we asked our server to pose with us for a picture, and she hopped around, posing and shaking her short, flouncy skirt - I guess she doesn't get asked to be in pictures very often.

For our last day together, we walked around the MinuteMan National Park and to the bridge where the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired (the spot of the monument). Before we left Concord, we stopped by Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women - we didn't take the tour, but Bonny and I spent enough time in the bookstore to make Chris drag us out.

Maybe the only down part of the whole trip was that Greta and Brigita didn't get along that well. It was mostly Greta being grumpy and inhospitable. We don't have any trips planned in the near future and don't know of anyone else planning to visit, so it will just be the three of us for now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New England Weekend

My parents, brother Jamie and his two girls flew into Boston last Saturday. The stormy skies, wind and rain blowing in from the South cleared into a bright, cloudless Sunday, perfect for the clambake at my aunt and uncle's house in New Hampshire. My mom hails from a family of ten kids (from Minnesota), and five were present for the festivities, as well as my cousin Becky and her two daughters. Mike and Pauline's house tucks into a strip of sparsely cleared trees, with a good-sized garden in the back. My mom, uncle Jerry, Chris and I walked through the rows of plants and swiped ripe raspberries from the bushes, something I miss since moving to the city. For the meal, we ate lobster, corn on the cob, clams, coleslaw, crab cakes, seafood chowder and later, down at the fire, s'mores.

Gathered around the Lobster Pots
Fearless Grace
Jean, Judy and Mom (sisters)
Mike and Pauline

Chris and I took the day off work on Monday, and we drove up the coast to the old seaport of Gloucester. We ate at a little fish and chips shack and spent a couple hours on the pristine Good Harbor Beach. Chris took the girls, who had never swam in the ocean, into the frigid water--you can see Malia hanging off Chris' back as they crash through a wave. Varsana combed the beaches for shells and posed with seaweed in her hair. Her prize find was an intact crab shell. While Chris and I stretched out on the sand, we noticed a seagull hopping close, and it began poking its beak into our beach bags. Before we could shoo it away, it stole my mom's cough drops, and Chris and I had to chase it down and throw a shoe at it to get the bag back.
Greta and Malia say their last goodbyes.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Destination: Lafayette

Our weekend roadtrip rolled along smoother than expected. Chris and I sped out of downtown Boston at about 2:45 Thursday afternoon and eeked into Lafayette, Indiana, at about 5:00 the next morning. It's been two years since we've done such a long road trip, but it was fun to talk and listen to music. The last two hours on the road felt the toughest, even after a couple energy drinks. We slept for a couple hours and for the rest of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we lounged around the house and outside, shooting targets with a pellet rifle, playing badminton and eating great food.

Chris saw a show on TV about "water witching" (also called divining) and decided to make his own rods out of old hangers. Water witching is a way to find water using a tree branch or certain types of metal to find magnetic displacement in the earth. Apparently, Chris' great-grandfather practiced this skill and would find wells for neighbors using a peach tree branch. I don't know how well it worked, but it was fun to try out. Anyway, the purpose of the trip was to deliver our old car to Katie, and Chris took her out for her first drive in the manual transmission Saturn. I stood on the driveway with Chris' parents and grandparents, all of us hoping for a good show of Katie stuttering and jolting the car, but she took off really smoothly.

On Sunday Sean and Bonny trekked to Lafayette from Indiana and spent the night with us at Chris' parents. We drove to Chicago early Monday morning as Sean had to work at 11:00. Bonny entertained by taking us to the Shedd Aquarium before our 6:00 flight from Midway. Sean and Bonny will be flying to Boston to see us in a couple weekends, so we're excited to see them again soon.