Our Rambling Side Trips

Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Our summer vacations are far from relaxing, but our adventures create amazing memories.  We spend months planning our trips and making itineraries to make sure we make the most of our time. This year, we ventured to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  We received our Nova Scotia travel guide in the mail, and the title, "Dreamers and Doers" immediately resonated with us.  Dreams never venture further than our own minds until we become doers.  Prince Edward Island has been a dream destination since we were young and re-enacting "Anne of Green Gables," whereas Nova Scotia just recently made our travel list. This trip was filled with dreaming and doing - from taking a motorcycle tour of the picturesque Peggy's Cove to walking the PEI shores.  

Nova Scotia awed us with her sweeping beauty and charmed us with her culture. We visited quaint towns around Halifax, including Lunenburg and Mahone Bay.  In Glen Margaret, we met local artist and author Ivan Fraser, who gave us a tour of his childhood home and spun a captivating tale of Peggy's Cove that was blend of fact and fiction.  Our time on the east coast of Nova Scotia was filled with history, maritime culture, and charming coastal towns. The landscape became stunningly dramatic as we traveled the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.  We began our Cape Breton experience at the Celtic Music Interpretive Center, learning a little about Celtic music, fiddle-playing, and step-dancing, which are huge parts of the local culture.  The coast of Cape Breton etched itself in our minds.  We took a few hikes that rewarded us with awe-inspiring views. White Point was our absolute favorite, a quiet retreat surrounded by a rocky coast, where our closest neighbors were seagulls and fishermen on lobster boats. The island is dotted with rural communities, and it is refreshing to completely disconnect from the suburbs, traffic, and chain stores.

Prince Edward Island lived up to its nickname "The Gentle Island," and was all that I ever dreamed it to be, from the Red Sand Shores to the Prince Edward Island National Historic Park.  We visited L.M. Montgomery's Green Gables and walked Lover's Lane and the Haunted Wood.  The visit is a must for Anne fans, but I'm sure we have all developed our own visions of Prince Edward Island after reading or watching "Anne of Green Gables."  My sister and I drove around the island searching for the one perfect spot that matched the PEI of our imaginations.  When Anne is naming the Lake of Shining Waters, she tells Matthew "I shall call it--let me see--the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill..." We felt that "thrill" when we found our PEI paradise in the photo at the top of this post.  We were in French River, driving down one of the island's many unpaved roads, when we came upon a scene that captured everything beautiful about the island: lupine, red dirt, and verdant, rolling fields.  Prince Edward Island gives visitors a chance to unwind and take a few back roads.  You really can "...feed [your] soul where the blacktop ends."  PEI's beauty is unassuming and undeniable, both her landscape and the locals welcome travelers.  As put our feet in the red sand, gazed over lush fields, and let the breeze waft over us, we gave Prince Edward a piece of our hearts. Which means that one day we will revisit her alluring shores.

Nova Scotia

We reached Nova Scotia after 2 days of driving!

Peggy's Cove
The Three Churches, Mahone Bay
Blue Rocks
Blue Rocks
Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sunset in Lunenburg
White Point, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
White Point, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Looking Towards Cheticamp

A Rocky Beach in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Middle Head

Prince Edward Island

Green Gables House, The Home that Inspired L.M. Montgomery 
L.M. Montgomery's Lover's Lane
A Room in Green Gables
Dalvay-by-the Sea.  The exterior was used in the "Anne" movies.  

Red Sand Shores

French River

Greenwich Dunes 
Floating Boardwalk at Greenwich Dunes

Quintessentially PEI: Farmland and Sea

Beautiful Lupine
*  *  *

Summertime in the Shaker Village
This year we embarked on a road trip for our summer vacation, stopping in Lexington and Harrodsburg, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Abingdon, Virginia.  One of the highlights of our trip was our day spent at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg.  I read about the village in Southern Living several years ago and have wanted to visit it since then.  The area was more picturesque and tranquil than I even imagined, with rolling green hills and pastures stretching to the horizon. The Shaker buildings, most original to the 1850s settlement, were stunning as well.  I have always thought of the Shaker style as simple and unembellished.  While it is simple and functional, it is also refined, stately, and graceful.

The Shakers were socially progressive, believing in equality among all people regardless of gender or race. They were also quite wealthy and self-reliant, even harvesting silk worms to create silk fibers for garments. The Shakers relied on new converts to grow their population, but the majority of potential converts did not make it past their trial period.  It is easy to see why outsiders would have been drawn to the community, but the lifestyle restrictions were quite inflexible.  To experience a taste of the Shaker lifestyle, you can stay in some of the original buildings, and we hope to stay there on a future trip.   This year, we opted to spend a night at the Maple Hill Manor in Springfield, Kentucky.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill - Very aptly named!


Harrodsburg, Kentucky and The Old Kentucky Fudge Company

The Old Kentucky Fudge Company and Good Eats Eatery are located in an old pharmacy.
The built-ins are original and still have the nameplates on the drawers for the herbs and
medicines that would have been store in them, 

 Maple Hill Manor, Circa 1851



This summer, we finally lived out our dream of traveling to the "Wild West."  Our itinerary was full of things to see in Yellowstone National Park; Cody, Wyoming; and Grand Teton National Park. After months of exciting trip research, we boarded a plane for the first time and set out to discover the west. Coming from the east, we knew that we would be amazed by the majestic landscape, but our expectations were far exceeded.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and one that we will never forget. The diversity of the landscape,  purity of the rivers, other-worldliness of Yellowstone's thermal features, and rugged mountains, are truly breathtaking.

I will never forget the drive to the town of West Yellowstone, with my rear view mirror framing the picturesque snow-capped Teton range and miles of potato fields on both sides of the road. I have never enjoyed looking in the rear view mirror as I did during those few hours.  When we finally arrived in West Yellowstone, the small town was a welcome sight.  It is the quintessential western tourist town, with locally owned hotels, a couple of small grocery stores, lots of tourist shops, slanted street parking, and stoplights that turn into blinking caution lights after 9:00 pm. 

We were filled with anticipation the next morning as we drove through the western entrance gate and into one of the nation's most famous parks.  I could hardly believe that we were actually in Yellowstone after months of planning and dreaming.  One of the downfalls to being a very thorough trip planner, is that you can build up your expectations to such a high level, reality falls short. At first, we were a little skeptical that Yellowstone would live up to our dreams. We saw lodgepole pines for a few miles, but then a glimmer of brilliant blue caught our eyes.  The Madison River was tranquilly flowing, creating a gentle melody as it tumbled over pebbles.  I have never seen a river on the east coast that is as pure, crisp, and clear as the Madison   Our breath was taken away for the first of many times on our trip.  A bit further down the road, we witnessed a huge herd of bison taking a drink in the river.  That was the first of many bison sightings, and we happily checked wildlife sighting number 1 of off our list.

The awe inspiring moments continued through the first day.  It was like time magically slows in the park. When I reflect on how much we experienced on just our first day it the park, it amazes me. The diversity cannot be described in words; it must be seen first hand

Our first view of snow-capped mountains.  Watching the landscape change from the flat Midwest to the rugged terrain of the west was the best part of flying.  Fortunately the weather was perfect!

 We drove through Idaho on our way to Yellowstone from Jackson Hole, WY.  There were potato fields for miles, and a few small towns scattered along the way.  One of them was Victor, home of the Victor Emporium with "famous" huckleberry milkshakes. 

Victor is a one traffic signal town.  Surprisingly, we did get in a traffic jam for 20 minutes, waiting for new asphalt to dry. 

The landmark of Driggs, Idaho is the Spud Drive-In Theater. 

 After a long day of travelling, we finally arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana.  It is a touristy western town, tacky in some ways, but charming too. 

Bison herd at the Madison River

One of the bison "guards."

The Yellowstone River

The bacteria mats at the fountain paint pots.

Our first geyser sighting.  We couldn't capture the smell of sulfur (rotten eggs).
The white area in the foreground  is sulfur.  Just a few feet away, wildflowers and grass were growing. 

The Excelsior Geyser Crater near the Grand Prismatic Spring. 

Stunning - The Grand Prismatic Spring

Old Faithful

West Thumb on Yellowstone Lake.  The sulfur covered ground and
 blue springs were a  beautiful contrast to the lake. 

Black Pool at West Thumb.  This was my favorite pool;
you could actually see into the crater.

LeHardy Rapids.  Each July, trout brave the power of these rapids to
 swim upstream.  That would be an amazing sight!

A bison at the Mud Volcano.
The pure and sparkling Madison River

What a way to end the day - Sunset over Yellowstone. 


A few weeks ago we visited Philadelphia and some of the surrounding areas.  We had plenty of opportunities to fill our appetite for books and history.

The Schwenckfelder Library in Pennsburg, PA is not housed in an old building, but it is full of history, with Pennsylvania Dutch and German artifacts.  The library focuses on genealogy, and has shelves of old books, most of which are written in German. We were in a book lover's paradise.

Doylestown is a quaint town, and home to the Mercer Museum.  We were in awe of the concrete castle loaded with old artifacts from floor to ceiling, literally.  At times we felt like were were on the set of Jane Eyre, or some other period drama as we roamed the hallways and staircases. The Mercer Museum has a bit of everything, from old bottles to gallows. Henry Mercer amassed his collection so that future generations could appreciate and discover the past.  The museum is truly one-of-a-kind, as is his house, Fonthill.  Fonthill is another concrete castle laden with artifacts, mostly antique tiles and his own Mercer tiles. 

We also visited Philadelphia and its historical sites - Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Christ's Church, and Elfreth's Alley (the oldest residential street in the U.S.).  Philadelphia is a modern city with gems of history tucked among its streets. For a bird's eye view of the city, take a ride to the top of City Hall. The perspective is truly breathtaking... especially for those of us who are afraid of heights!

Schwenckfelder Library
Old Books at the Schwenckfelder Library
Old Books at the Schwenckfelder Library

Wedding Dresses at the Schwenckfelder
The Mercer Museum

Old Stagecoach at the Mercer Museum

The Mercer Museum

Recreated General Store at the Mercer Museum

Independence Hall

The Liberty Bell

Elfreth's Alley

A View to City Hall

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Pennsylvania Hospital, founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin
This is the nation's first hospital and it is still in operation.

Christ's Church, where George Washington, Ben Franklin,
and John Adams attended

Christ's Church


The Hudson River Valley
Franklin D. Roosevelt's Home

FDR's Presidential Library

Hyde Park Library, Designed by FDR

FDR's Presidential Desk

Locust Grove, Home of Samuel Morris

Lyndhurst, Home of Jay Gould

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Washington Irving's Grave in Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Staatsburg Library

Sunnyside, Home of Washington Irving



Sunnyside.  TheVine Was Given to Irving by Sir Walter Scott

Vanderbilt Mansion

Vassar College Library

The New York Public Library

Visiting this iconic library in New York City was one of the highlights of our trip to NYC last Christmas.  The interior and exterior are amazing!  See the Quebec City entry below for photos of The Morrin Centre, one of our other favorite libraries.

Corolla, North Carolina
A visit to the beach in the fall is everything it should be - relaxing, tranquil, and scenic.  Here are a few pictures from our recent weekend trip to the charming town of Corolla.

Bonjour Quebec City!

For our summer vacation this year, we decided to journey to the historic Canadian city of Quebec.  The charm, character, architecture, and culture of Quebec City surpassed all of the expectations that we developed during our months of planning.  The province's French heritage and culture are especially predominant in Quebec City, so we enjoyed the opportunity to experience a taste of Europe without the travel expense of an actual European vacation.  A travel note: Plan for changing weather.  Rain clouds can quickly overtake a sunny sky, bringing chilly temperatures with them.

One of the most memorable attractions in Quebec City (especially for bookworms) is the Morrin Centre.  This building once housed a prison, followed by a college, and currently the only English library in Quebec City.  The informative tour combines a visit to the library with a brief time in the dark and claustrophobic prison cells, which seem to be straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.  It is appropriate that Dickens actually spoke in the library.  Currently, the library is home to a collection of old novels, in addition to current titles, and is furnished with the tables and chairs that have been used since the 1800's.  If you ever visit Quebec City, the Morrin Centre is must-see!

Quartier Petite Champlain
Artists' Alley: Filled with One-of-a-Kind Treasures

The Morrin Centre Library
Original Furnishings in the Morrin Centre
The Pastoral Beauty of Ile d' Orleans
Changing of the Guards at the Citadelle
Joan of Arc Garden: A Peaceful Respite in the City
Character and Whimsy: The Essence of Quebec City
The Stately & Sprawling Chateau Frontenac

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