For the first time ever we both left the Airstream behind and traveled by plane to visit family back east for a week. After tons of research I decided the safest, most affordable, and convenient place to leave our home was one of the long term parking lots at the Airport. The Eco Park at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston offers oversize vehicle parking and charges for the number of regular size spaces you take up. We fit in two, which means it should be $12 per day (we’ll find out how if that’s true when we return tonight). Our flight was direct from Houston to Newark, NJ, and although I prefer traveling by Airstream, it was nice to cover 1300 miles in only 3 hours. Once in Newark we collected our rental car for the week, and after laughing about the small size compared to our truck, we were off.
Our first destination was south to Delaware for a weekend with Tim’s sister Alicia, brother-in-law, Shawn, and their kids Aaron and Ella. The little one, Ella, is only a year and half, which means we’ve not yet met her in person. And Aaron, who’s almost 5, hasn’t seen us in over two years. Ella was understandably a bit shy at first, but Aaron jumped right in and had his Uncle Timmy on the floor playing legos and race cars in no time.
Tim’s mom also came down for the weekend, and the seven of us got into the spirit of the season by carving pumpkins. Aaron requested that Tim make a scary monster pumpkin. If you judge the scariness of a monster based on its number of teeth, than this pumpkin is the scariest of them all.
While the adults carved, the kids painted some pumpkin masterpieces. These kids are excellent painters.
When it got dark we lined our creations up on the steps and admired the display.
We continued the Halloween theme with a parade…a Halloween Parade of course. I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently it’s a very popular event around here. The kids dressed up for the occasion in their costumes that super mom Alicia made for them. Ella was Olaf and Aaron was Kristoff. Don’t feel bad if you have no idea who these characters are. We didn’t at first either. When Alicia first sent us photos of the kids in their costumes and Tim told me that Ella was Olaf, I said, “who?” “Olaf” he replied. And again I said “who?” Then I googled it. Turns out they are characters from the popular kids movie Frozen. Ahh, no wonder we didn’t know.
The parade was quite large with numerous high school marching bands, daycare centers, and of course, politicians, all dressed up. Some of the costumes were very creative. The apple tree people in the top right photo were part of a group dressed as the characters from the Wizard of Oz. Those were real apple tree branches with real apples on them!
The kids were a little too young to compete with the older, bigger kids all scurrying around for candy, but they seemed to enjoy simply watching. Aaron even got the best seat in the house on top of his tall uncle’s shoulders.
Too soon Monday rolled around and we said goodbye as everyone headed off to work and school. We would have loved to spend more time with them, but are consoled by the fact that we’ll be back next summer for a longer visit.
From Delaware we drove north to Connecticut and spent a few days with Tim’s dad and step-mom, Al and Michele.
The weather in New England at the end of October can be hit or miss, but we lucked out with a few nice sunny, warm days that we made the most of with a trip to the historic Mystic Seaport.
Tim had been before on school trips as a kid, but it was my first time. I love these kinds of outdoor museums where you find a mix of working boats, historic buildings, real life demonstrations, and informative exhibits. We spent several hours wandering around the buildings and touring the boats, but still didn’t see it all. Maybe we’ll go back next summer when we visit again.
Next we made our way over to Tim’s mom’s house for the rest of the week. Even though everyone said we missed the peak foliage display by about a week, we thought it looked pretty nice. With the exception of all the friends and family who we left behind, I don’t miss much about living in the north east – except the fall. Nothing compares to the brilliant colors, crisp air and excitement that goes along with a change in the season.
The nice weather continued for a few more days allowing us to get out and enjoy all those pretty colors. Connecticut is not exactly Colorado when it comes to hiking trails, but we still managed to find a few nice hikes in the woods. We even discovered a trail with a little elevation, and made it all the way to the top of the 373′ high summit :)
More of Tim’s family came down from New Hampshire and Boston to see us. We took another walk on a another scenic trail.
After all that walking, some nourishment was in order. Lucky for us, we were not far from the very best pizza in the country. When I first met Tim he introduced me to New Haven pizza. With its signature chewy thin crust, just the right amount of sauce, and fresh toppings all cooked to crispy perfection in a piping hot oven, you really can’t find a better pizza anywhere. Believe me, we tried all around the country. Frank Pepe’s is the most famous pizza in New Haven. It’s the one that shows up on all of the top 10 pizza lists, but the locals know that it’s just as good at a number of other local pizza joints, including the one we went to – Modern Apizza – and you don’t have to wait in line. When you see it called “apizza” (pronounced ah beets) that’s when you know you’ve found true New Haven, Neapolitan style pizza.
The fall frenzy continued the next day with a visit to the nearby corn maze. I hadn’t been to a corn maze in years, and the one at Lyman Orchards is good one. Despite Tim’s best efforts to lead us in circles around the maze, I managed to override his poor navigation skills and we made it out before dark.
Halloween was pretty low key for us. No costumes, no tricks, and only a few treats. We did track down a few more pumpkins for carving though. This time we made happy pumpkins with swirly eyes and gigantic grins.
The weather took a turn for the worse on Saturday with cold rain and grey skies. So off the the museum we went.
The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is a really cool museum in downtown New Haven. Not only is the exterior of the museum impressive with its french gothic style, but the collections inside will blow you away.
The most notable collection is the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, where a giant Apatosaurus skeleton lives alongside numerous other fossils and models. The museum offers much more than just a glimpse into the prehistoric world of dinos though. I didn’t take very many pictures, but we toured through exhibits featuring human evolution, native American cultures, the birds of Connecticut, fascinating dioramas, all sorts of minerals, and even an Egyptian mummy. The perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.
All in all it was a wonderful week full of fun, family, and foliage. Today we say our final good byes, drive back to Newark, and then fly back to Houston where the Airstream will (hopefully) be waiting for us just as we left it.