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Family Vacation 2016: Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts

Family Vacation 2016: Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts

Like our Myrtle Beach vacation, this would be another week long trip spanning from May 21st to May 29th. Our itineraries in hand, hotel reservations printed, and bags packed – we left our house at 10:30 am. We were expecting an (approximately) 8-hour drive (per Google – 471.7 mi via I-95). Given that we had a few stops to make, we were expecting a 10-hour long trip or so, with an expected arrival time of 8:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Boy, were we wrong. We ended up arriving at close to 10:00 pm that evening. But what a fun drive it was! We were to make our way to Bar Harbor, Maine on Acadia/Mt. Desert Island – our first time ever in Maine – for 2 evenings, followed by a 6 day stay in the Boston area (Saugus to be exact).

Saturday, May 21st – From The Bronx to Bar Harbor, Maine

We loaded up our Chevy Cruze, and off we were. We had home brewed coffee and tea in to-go cups, so we skipped our usual Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts pre-trip fillup. We made our way to Kittery, Maine via I-95N – our first stop: Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery Maine. We first heard about Bob’s Clam Hut on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so we figured, why not add it to our map. We ordered the clam basket, amongst other goodies – highly recommended.

We then took off to our first “sightseeing” spot – Portland Head Light, located at 1000 Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Portland Head Light 2016

Considering we were out of coffee and were near Portland – we made a pit stop at the Starbucks located at 594 Congress Street in Portland, Maine. Following that, we drove towards Brunswick – where we came across our waypoint to switch from I-95N to Route 1 – which offers a more scenic drive along the southern coastline of Maine.

Now, maybe clams and coffee aren’t best of friends in the tummy, or maybe it was just eating clams atop coffee, followed by more coffee, but we had to make a little detour by the time we made it to Newcastle, Maine. But after a quick refresher at Mike’s Place (557 US-1, Newcastle, Maine) we were off again.

Our drive along US-1 was spectacular. Postcard perfect vistas came in and out of view as we made our way through roads lined with old-timey houses.

Because we were rather late, we ended up calling Side Street Cafe – located at 49 Rodick Street in Bar Harbor, Maine – and ordering dinner to go. It was a neat little music venue/restaurant/bar.

We then proceeded to check in at the (very luxurious, and highly recommended) Bluenose Inn.

Frenchman Bay from the Bluenose Inn, Mizzentop View

They offer two buildings where you can stay in – Stenna Nordica and Mizzentop. Both offer views of Frenchman Bay and Mt. Desert Narrows, but the Stenna Nordica views are a little obstructed by the Mizzentop. We chose to stay at the Mizzentop when we made our reservation and being that this was before the “summer rush” of tourists to Bar Harbor, it was a very relaxing and quiet stay.

Frenchman Bay from the Bluenose Inn, Mizzentop View

Sunday, May 22nd – Acadia

Our itinerary for the day was fairly simple: sightseeing and driving around Mt. Desert Island. We were supposed to drive on the US-1 Schoodic National Scenic Byway. But, we didn’t. Dinner at either Fisherman’s Galley or Chase’s Restaurant, or The Looking Glass at the Bluenose Inn? Nope! Sunset at Schoodic Point like we planned? Nah.

Rather, we ended up driving into Acadia National Park, at stopping at Thunder Hole – which, when the waves crash in its interior makes a thundering sound (hence, the name). But when we went, it was low tide. Granted, the views were amazing in person.

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park
Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park

We then made our way all the way up to the peak of Mt. Cadillac. We had not planned for this and were taken aback by the vistas that were bestowed upon us from the tallest mountain (1,528 feet) on Mt. Desert Island.

Mt. Cadillac Summit
Sunset at Mt. Cadillac Summit

Considering it was almost sunset, and there was no way we were going to make it down, around, and over to Schoodic Point to catch the sunset, we stopped to watch the sunset at the next best spot (which turned out to be THE best spot): Blue Hill Overlook, just a few hundred feet down from the Mt. Cadillac summit.

Sunset at Blue Hill Overlook
Sunset at Blue Hill Overlook

We then proceeded to finish the drive around the ring road of Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park Ring Road

Following, we made our way to Fish House Grill in Bar Harbor – only to find it was closed at the time. Eventually, we googled around to find the Dog & Pony Tavern, on 4 Rodick Place in Bar Harbor. While we waited for our phone order to be ready, we parked in front of Testa’s (54 Main Street) and walked over to Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (66 Main Street) for some chocolate and ice cream goodies (don’t judge us).

Monday, May 23rd – Acadia to Boston

Well, more like Acadia to Saugus. We checked out of the Bluenose Inn (with promises to return again one day), and made our way back down route US-1, over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge (a beauty). We then stopped at Dots (2457 Atlantic Highway in Lincolnville Maine) for a quick to-go snack of sandwiches and other goodies.

Bar Harbor to Saugus

Following that, we proceeded down to Rockland Breakwater Light (Rockland, Maine) – a lighthouse set far out on an approximately 3/4 mile long breakwater.

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 2016
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 2016
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 2016

Following a few picture taking sessions and a nice walk along the precarious breakwater (mind the gap!), we drove over to Starbucks for our coffee fill (256 US-1, Falmouth Maine). We then had planned on having a Drunch (Dinner + Lunch, get it?) at The Little Depot Diner, but changed our minds mid drive and decided we’d just check-in to our hotel (Holiday Inn Saugus – Logan Airport) and order takeout.

Tuesday, May 24th – Saugus

Not much to report on this day. We had planned on taking our daughter to Legoland in Sommerville, followed by a visit to the Bunker Hill Monument, and a quick lunch at Boston Burger Company and JP Licks Ice Cream. Rather, we drove to Five Guys at 227 Andover Street in Peabody and drove back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the day there, relaxing.

Wednesday, May 25th – Boston

When in Rome…er, Boston – catch a Red Sox game at the Historic Fenway Park. Having secured some really nice seats directly behind first base, we watched a thrilling game between the Bosox and the Colorado Rockies. A fantastic game as we walked away happy after our Sox beat the Rockies 10 to 3.

David Ortiz, May 25th, 2016
Us at Fenway Park, May 2016

Thursday, May 26th – Boston

Another lazy day – having planned on going to Wahlburgers, Alma Nove, and World’s End – south of Boston, we did none of the above.

Rather, we went to the Starbucks at the Shops at Saugus (366 Broadway in Saugus), then proceeded to Charles Bank Playground (251 Causeway Street, Boston) to let our little munchkin run around a bit.

Charles Bank Playground

Finally – we proceeded to do what we had planned to do on May 24th: Boston Burger Company, and JP Licks Ice Cream in Davis Square (Somerville). We got the famed Mac-and-Cheese burger (which was good), along with a few other burgers (which were great). At JP Licks, we got the standard fare of vanilla, strawberry, and coffee flavored concoctions.

Friday, May 27th – Saugus

Plans: New England Aquarium, Lunch at Saus Boston, Boston Children’s Museum, Dinner at Yankee Lobster.

Reality: Lazy day in our hotel.

Saturday, May 28th – Hingham

The day we were looking forward to. Whale Watching! We drove over to Gloucester, Massachusetts for our scheduled whale watching excursion via Cape Ann Whale Watch (415 Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts). We had a fun time, but beware sea sickness – oh, and don’t sit in the back of the boat, fumes fumes fumes.

Cape Ann Whale Watch
Juan Sanchez

We then drove back to Saugus via Scenic Route 127 – which took us through a beautiful little town by the name of Manchester-by-the-sea.

Sunday, May 29th – Saugus to the Bronx

So, the funny thing about life – it’s completely unexpected. We checked out of our hotel at 11:00 am and were on the road by 11:24 am (having loaded our bags and stopped by a nearby Starbucks). By 11:38 am, we were sitting on the side of Broadway and Main Street, as we had been rear-ended by another motorist. On the bright side, our car was still driveable and it was the last day of our trip.

But before we headed home, we had a pitstop to make: Foxboro. We aren’t in the area very often, so whenever we are, we stop by 1 Patriots Place: Gillette Stadium, home of the (best team ever) New England Patriots. We stopped by the Patriots ProShop for a few goodies, followed by a 2 dozen outtake of cupcakes at Cupcake Charlies (ok, judge us).

Gillette Stadium Gate
1 Patriots Place

Following a little photoshoot for the munchkin, we made our way back home. Though, we did stop at a Starbucks in Connecticut (Groton Shoppers Mart – 985 Poquonnock Rd in Groton).

 

 

Some of my favorite YouTube Channels

Some of my favorite YouTube Channels

This post is a bit personal – I guess since I should probably start posting more interesting “about me” stuff. Not that I’m that interesting, but still – content is content, amirite? So, let’s dive into the deep end here – YouTube. I am not a YouTuber / YouTube Content Creator – no worries there (harhar), but I do watch a metric ton of YouTube videos. In this post, I will take you down some of my all time favorite YouTubers – some that I actively follow, and others that I just watch from time to time.

 

1. WALTERRIFIC

walterrificWalterrific has got to be my top favorite YouTuber. A “MotoVlogger” from I believe Kansas who has arguably one of the most disciplined riding styles I’ve come across amongst other MotoVloggers (looking at you Suburban Deliquent). I have watched pretty much all of his videos across both his MotoVlogging and gaming channels, save for the MotoMumbles that he does with other MVers.

Why do I like his content? It’s fun and random enough that it’s always entertaining. The structure of his posting is fantastic as well – typically uploading multiple videos per week. These are broken down into different “categories” of videos: Moto Mondays are posted on Mondays, Whatever Wednesdays are posted on Wednesdays, and Finally Fridays are posted on – you guessed it – Fridays. The rest of the week is filled with either the aforementioned Moto Mumbles, or different themed videos such as motorcycle reviews, and more recently Rubi Tuesdays – where we see Walter driving around in his McJeep, wearing his signature helmets.

Yep.

2. CaseyNeistat
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Casey Neistat. Probably one of the most “professional” vloggers on YouTube – he posts on an almost daily basis. Difference in his videos? The absolute professionalism and production quality of each video. It of course doesn’t hurt that he has a background in film production (correct me here?).

During each daily episode, we are treated into a glimpse of Casey’s often frantic life in NYC…or San Francisco…or Dubai, or wherever else he might. His array of cameras, as well as the ubiquitous drone and Boosted Board allow Casey to breathe some sort of magic into what would otherwise be a mundane video history of his life.

 

 

3. superspeedersRob

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Rob Ferretti – owner/founder/co-founder (I forgot, alright?) of Gotham Dream Cars, as well as creator of the infamous SuperSpeeders  series. His vlogs are more day to day in the car business and cars in general – ranging from car buying tips, rental experiences, racing stuff…cars. He keeps it fairly light – which helps a ton, not to mention the guy has a pretty likeable personality. Bonus points for having one of the most insane Corvettes on the east coast.

Back when I was starting my web career, I actually created the second iteration of the SuperSpeeders website – though, much to my current (and much wiser and mature) chagrin, my lazy teen self let a wonderful business relationship with the guy sour when I could not deliver a finished product. Nearly 8 years later, as a seasoned engineer – I look back at what could have been business-wise.

 

Honorable Mentions

I’ll keep this blog light with the top 3 YouTubers. Here are some others that I follow on an on-again-off-again basis:

  1. Suburban Delinquent – California based MotoVlogger who is possibly the polar opposite of Walterrific. Highly entertaining.
  2. bakerXderek – Cheah!! Another West coast MotoVlogger who is infinitely entertaining.
  3. Salomondrin  – I really don’t know what this guy does, but he owns a shit ton of amazing cars, and his Vlogs are fun and off the cuff. Not to mention, he’s quite funny.
  4. Unbox Therapy – Unboxing videos of often interesting products.
  5. All Def Digital – Though I don’t follow their “news” portions – the comedic videos are top notch.

 

finish photo
Photo by Sean MacEntee

 

So there you have it. My top 3, with 5 honorable mention of YouTube channels that I follow. Hope you guys enjoy! Let me know in the comments who you guys follow and why I should follow them as well!

New Look and Feel: Site Redesign

New Look and Feel: Site Redesign

My website has undergone a redesign! After approximately five years of the black-and-yellow grunge theme – I’ve opted for a full on revamp, technologically and visually. On the backend, the old CodeIgniter codebase was tossed in favor of Wordpress. On the frontend, the design I commissioned from my friend Dan Housch is gone, in favor of a generic WordPress theme – Nisarg.

hooray photo
Photo by mherzber

The new theme in this redesign is much lighter, incorporating a ton of white space and dynamic imagery. It is far easier on the eyes to read text, which is especially important as I would like to expand my blog posting and integrate my cooking activities. I mean, look at this Beef Provençale I made for New Years 2015-2016 – can you blame me?

 

I digress – the redesign is not purely visual and tech – but content will change as well, though, not drastically so. I’ll more than likely post a ton of programming related content – as well as food, random life blogs, thoughts, etc. Whatever floats my boat, hopefully floats yours too – hopefully we don’t end up stranded somewhere not-fun.

boat photo
Photo by Tim Green aka atoach

For the techies – I’ve chosen not to migrate this platform from Digitalocean to AWS. I’ve also opted to stay in the Ubuntu family – upgrading from 14.04 to (I think) 16.04/16.10 – whichever is the LTS as of this writing. Powering this platform is MariaDB (Toku!), using Nginx as a server, and PHP7 as the language of choice. Later on, I’ll likely install Varnish in front of Nginx, but for now W3 Total Cache does a more than excellent job at caching objects and page to disk.

Family Vacation 2015: Hershey (Hersheypark) & Reading, Pennsylvania

Family Vacation 2015: Hershey (Hersheypark) & Reading, Pennsylvania

So this was a mini vacation to Hersheypark over the course of a weekend – so this will be a rather short post. We took off from our house in the Bronx headed due west, towards Reading, Pennsylvania. Now, we tried to book an affordable hotel closer to Hersheypark, but that didn’t pan out. So, we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Reading, right next door to Reading Regional Airport.

Now, you would think that would be a downside – who on earth would want to stay in a hotel right next to an airport?! Well, me and my daughter love planes. I once attempted to attain my PPL but was eventually dissuaded by the exuberant costs of getting a PPL. Perhaps later on in life. But I digress – my daughter also loves planes (and fast cars, go figure – took after her daddy). As for noise – there was near no noise at all. The glass at this Holiday Inn Express had to be thick, because we could see the planes, but couldn’t hear them. Also helps that it was mostly small single engine prop planes, we saw no jets. That being said, we fell in love with how laid back and relaxing the town is. It also helped that there was a Starbucks within a short drive of the hotel.

Now, on our first day there (Friday) we just chilled in the hotel and explored the town. We always try to locate nearby points of interest: Starbucks (or other coffee shops), small grocery stores, and a pharmacy or two. Why? Bare necessities. We found a nice little strip mall on State Hill Road and Berkshire Boulevard (from the Holiday Inn Express, take the 183 southbound to the 12 southwest bound, to the 422 southwest bound and get off at the State Hill Road exit). This strip mall became our “go to” destination whenever we needed anything – a Starbucks, Taco Bell, Burger King, and a Rite Aid in one place? Sold! There was also a pretty decent Thai place – Thaiwat. We ordered from here once – and would order again whenever we’re back in Reading. As for the other days – we ordered pizza delivered to the hotel, but I completely forgot the name of the place we ordered from.

Hersheypark we did on Saturday, and boy was that fun. By now our daughter was old enough to fully enjoy most rides, and she had a ton of fun. We were absolutely tired by the end of the day. Highly recommended if you’re ever on the east coast!

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Now, on Sunday we were to head back home. BUT, we had a pit stop to make 🙂 Dutch Wonderland. Our daughter had a ton of fun a Hersheypark – but as with Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, there were some rides that she was either just big enough for (read: big enough to fit, not big enough to enjoy) or others that she wasn’t allowed to ride at all. Dutch Wonderland on the other hand was a much smoother experience, and much more catered to the under 3 crowd. We had a ton of fun here – particularly because our daughter had fun – finally. We stayed until around 4pm that day, and did most of the rides. Since we had a short drive home (about 3 hours all said and done), it was a good bookend to our small weekend vacation. Rating? Would do so again (and again).

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