New Hampshire to NYC

From Maine we headed south to New Hampshire.  We arrived in Dover just in time to have a late supper and a fabulous visit with a special family we knew from church during our high school years.  The Vollnogles welcomed us into their home and even their daughter (Caroline) and her family and also their daughter-in-law (Danielle) were able to come over as well.  We had a great evening catching up with their lives….we haven’t seen them in almost 20 years!  Our kids really enjoyed meeting all of them too….especially Ben who got to play with two of their grandchildren and Abby who loved holding their newest grandbaby.  We left there feeling so thankful that we had been able to see them; they are such a kind family and were a big encouragement to us.


Lance and I with Terry and Sandy Vollnogle–a very sweet couple

The next day, June 8th, we drove to a different campground that’s not too far from Plymouth, Massachusetts.  It was a sprawling place with a huge playground and baseball field right near our campsite.


Lance and the kids played baseball with some other kids in the campground on the field behind our site

On Thursday we went into Plymouth to see the sights.  We started with a stop at Plymouth Rock.  It was fun to see, but we didn’t need to spend much time there so then we walked over to the Mayflower II.  It’s a replica of the Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims from England to America.  We went on the ship and saw where the Pilgrims would have lived for those 6 weeks at sea…not much room for about 100 people.  There were people who were acting the part of pilgrims so it was fun to talk with them and ask questions about their voyage.


Sam and Elise by Plymouth Rock


Here we are in front of the Mayflower II


Elise and Rose checking out the living quarters the Pilgrims had while they crossed the ocean

On Friday we went to Plimouth Plantation (no, I’m not spelling that wrong, it’s how they spelled it back then so that’s what the plantation is called today) which was a lot of fun.  Our favorite part was the small village that was built to be as much like Plimouth in the 1600’s as they can get.  Even the layout of the buildings was according to what they have found in journals and other documents from that time.  The small houses were furnished with what they believed the pilgrims would have been able to take with them from England.  Ben had a lot of fun chasing chickens and feeding hay to the cows.  Just like at the Mayflower II there were people dressed as settlers all throughout the village who stayed in character the whole time.  Sam and Elise had fun learning a card game from two such men while we visited one of the houses.  We all had a great day learning about the Pilgrim’s lives….and also left there extra thankful that our beds aren’t made of straw, we have a refrigerator to keep food fresh and I don’t have to milk a cow for milk every morning!


Plimouth Plantation


Some of the cute gardens behind the houses


Elise in one of the small houses in the village


Ben was intrigued by this outdoor oven….he thought it was a little room and he had fun opening and closing the door


Rosemary was a little wary of this cow’s horns


One of the houses had this big Bible in the desk


Sam and Elise learning how to play cards….Pilgrim style


The beautiful view of the village and the ocean beyond

Saturday, June 11th, was one of my favorite days!  We went whale watching in a boat our of Plymouth harbor.  After about an hour out on the water we saw a Humpback whale feeding on the schools of fish near the surface of the ocean.  It was so amazing to watch this huge graceful animal come up out of the water and then slide back down with the huge tail disappearing at the end.  Ben loved keeping an eye out for him and Rose kept yelling out “shish!”  for fish.  The boat we were on had a binder with pictures of all of the named whales they have seen, so after they got a good look at the tail markings they could tell us that this whale’s name is “Shuffleboard”.  We stayed in that area for around 15 minutes and just watched him come and go…sometimes quite close to the boat.  Then the captain took us farther out to look for more whales.  The next kind we spotted were Minke whales and we saw 5-6 of those.  They look similar to dolphins, but are a bit bigger.  We also got to see a Finback whale, which are not as commonly found.  The Finback was the largest of all the whales we got to watch, but they don’t come up out of the water as much as Humpbacks so it was a little bit harder to tell.  After almost 4 hours on the water we got back to the harbor.  We really enjoyed our whale watching experience!


The kids are ready for their whale watching adventure!


The back of the Humpback Whale


and the huge tail!!


Ben and Rose looking for more “shish”!!

The evening before this we had watched the movie, Monumental, with Kirk Cameron.  We found it very interesting, especially when he is researching the founding fathers (Washington, Franklin, Adams and so on) and their faith.  It was awesome to me to see just how much they valued the Bible and based their decisions on God’s Word.  Did you know that the first Bibles printed in the United States were actually funded by Congress and were printed to be given to the schools?  Anyway….in the movie he talks about the recipe for success with forming a new country and having it thrive the way America has. It is based on God’s Word and training up your children to know and love God and from that springs morality, civil law and liberty.  The monument is in Plymouth so we went to see that after our whale watching trip.  It was a very impressive monument and if you are ever in the area I would encourage you to check it out.


Lance and I by the monument dedicated to the Pilgrims who came for civil and religious liberty


On Sunday we went into Boston for the day.  We started with Boston Commons and seeing the state capital building there.  Then we had tickets for a Duck Boat ride so we boarded that and enjoyed our tour of the city that way.  We were able to see lots of historic buildings that are on the Freedom Trail and also learn about the city’s growth over the years.  The most fun part, though, was when we went right down into the Charles River.  When we were out in the water and away from any obstacles then the captain let kids drive the boat.  Joe, Sam, Elise and Ben all gave it a try and were having a good time…..Rose, on the other hand, started screaming and crying as soon as we put her down in the seat.  She did a little better when I sat with her, but still didn’t love it.  After the duck boat ride we did some more walking and saw the graveyard where many important people are buried, like Paul Revere, John Hancock and Samuel Adams.  After that it was time for some frozen yogurt and then we drove to Rhode Island.  We saw the capital building in Providence and camped for the night, but didn’t stop to see any other of the sights there.


The kids and I ready for the duck boat ride….all except Rose who was fast asleep on my shoulder.  



In the Charles River now!


Sam, Elise, Ben and Rose all got a turn to drive


A plaque for Paul Revere


The kids in front of Samuel Adam’s grave


The cemetery, the tall monument in the middle is where Benjamin Franklin’s parents are buried.


On Monday we went to Mystic, Connecticut and visited the Mystic Seaport.  What a fun day exploring the buildings and learning about what life in a whaling and fishing village would have been like 200 years ago.  Abby and Elise had a good time with the navigational scavenger hunt which took them to many of the different buildings.  We all enjoyed our horse-drawn wagon ride through the village and it was a good time to take a break from walking for a little while.  Ben and Rose loved the little children’s museum there and didn’t want to leave when they were closing up for the day.  All in all, we had a great time there and wished we had been able to get there even earlier in the day so we could have seen that much more.  We stayed in Connecticut that night and then headed for New York City the next morning.


Joe in the Mystic Seaport village


Rose and Joe


Ben and Rose playing with the wooden boats at the water table in the activity barn


Elise using a pulley system to pull herself up off the floor


Sam got to sit up by the driver on our wagon ride


Joe, Lance and Rose in front of the only original surviving whaling vessel.


Captain Rosemary at the helm


The bunk area for the crew….Rose is in one bed and you can just see Ben’s leg in the one next to her


Ben checking things out below deck


Ben on the ship’s deck


Ben and Rose loved playing in the children’s museum, especially cooking up soup and lobster in the little kitchen


All of the kids on one of the playground boats they have there

We had a hard time deciding what to do about lodging in NYC.  There aren’t exactly a lot of campgrounds in the city….and even if there were; can you imagine trying to pull the camper through traffic there????  No thank you!!!  We ended up using almost all of our hotel points and staying at a Marriott Courtyard hotel right downtown for three nights.  We were so glad we did, even though having all 8 of us sleep in one small room was tough sometimes, it was worth it to be so close to everything.

Tuesday evening, after we settled into the hotel, we went for a walk through Times Square and had some dinner.  Then it was lights out….we knew we would have a busy day on Wednesday.


This is in Times Square after we ate supper….everyone was a little more cheerful with a full tummy!

The next morning we got going quickly (well, quickly for OUR family!!).  We had bought hop on/ hop off bus passes for all of us so we caught a bus and took that to the 9/11 Memorial.  We walked around the fountains and headed to the Tribute Center.  I thought I had bought tickets to the 9/11 Museum, but it was for this Tribute Center instead and it ended up being really neat.  We started by checking out the displays inside and reading about that day and then we went on a walking tour of the memorial.  We had two tour guides, one had been living and working in the city when it happened and one who lost a loved one and watched some of it happen.  It was very interesting, but also sad to hear their stories.


The 9/11 Memorial


Around each of the sides are the names of those who died.  When it is one of the victim’s  birthday the museum puts a white rose on the name.


Abby and Rosemary near the memorial

After that we walked to Battery Park and took the boat to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty.  Abby, Sam and Elise all did the Junior Ranger program there and we walked around the statue and enjoyed a great view of the city.  When we got back downtown we went to a great pizza place near Times Square and then headed back to the hotel.


The beautiful view from the boat on our way to Liberty Island


Our family in front of the Statue of Liberty.


Elise was very proud of her newest Junior Ranger badge!


On different trips to NYC Lance and I have gotten our girls’ names painted by artists set up on the sidewalks.  This time we were on the lookout to get the same done for Rosemary.  We had fun watching this man skillfully turn little animals into the letters of her name.

Thursday morning Lance and I were able to attend the show, The View.  We were given the opportunity by a good friend back home who is good friends with Paula Faris who is on The View.  It was fun to see how a show like that happens and a little bit of the behind the scenes.  Lance and I have pretty conservative viewpoints (and if you’ve ever watched the show you know that most of the ladies on there are more liberal minded) so sometimes we probably stuck out like a sore thumb when we weren’t clapping our approval of comments made, but we had a good time and were super glad we were able to go.


Lance and I ready for some “hot topics”!!

While we were gone Joe and Abby were babysitting the other kids in the hotel room.  When we got back to them we all left together for the Empire State building.  We went to the observation deck and had fun checking out the city from a bird’s eye view.  Unfortunately, Sam wasn’t feeling very well and Ben and Rose really needed naps so Lance took those three back to the hotel after that.


Joe on top of the Empire State building


Just keeping it real… this part of the trip Ben and Rose are getting pretty sick of museums, crowded cities and confined areas…..not the most toddler friendly part of our trip!

Joe, Abby, Elise and I walked towards Central Park, but stopped on the way at Sprinkles Cupcakes for a little treat.  Their red velvet cupcakes are delicious!!  When we got to Central Park we went for a carriage ride through the park.  We had been walking a lot so we enjoyed seeing the park while resting our feet a little. The carriage ride brought us by fountains, over bridges and past numerous statues, including the Balto statue which was a favorite since our kids like that movie.


Yummmmm, mine was the red velvet cupcake and Joe’s was the carrot cake cupcake


Abby and Elise during our carriage ride


Here’s the four of us in the pretty carriage


After the ride the driver gave Elise a carrot to feed to JoJo the horse

That evening Lance and I had a fabulous date out on the town.  We started with going to see Les Miserables.  I had heard of it, but was not familiar with the story line so it was new to me.  It was incredible; we both really loved the show.  After that we went out for a nice dinner at Carmine’s.  We had a delicious Italian dinner there and then walked around Times Square a little while before heading back to the hotel.


I loved a night out at the theater with my hubby!

The next morning Lance helped check something off Elise’s bucket list…..he took Joe, Abby and Elise for a ride on the subway.  She was so excited about that and said it was one of her favorite things about NYC.  They went to Brooklyn, changed trains and then came back to the hotel.  Not such a treat, I’m sure, for most in Manhattan, but it sure made Elise smile!

When they got back from the subway we checked out of the hotel.  It was time to say goodbye to New York City and head back to camper life.  We enjoyed out few days in The Big Apple, but it felt good to get back “home” too.

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