Rock Garden in Somerset, New Jersey

In order to get out and away from the elephants, we decided to take a little day trip about an hour away and have a picnic. Adam found the Leonard J. Buck Garden online and thought it might be a nice getaway. The rain the past few weeks did manage to wipe out any existing flowers that there were, especially in Azalea Field. It wasn’t as nice as we expected, but I have a feeling that it was do to the rain mostly. We also planned to have a little picnic in the grass, but a picnic on the grass is not allowed at this facility, so we were limited to only the picnic table.

LBG1 LBG2

The marsh was really pretty. It reminded me of Acadia National Park at Aunt Betty’s Pond. The only downside was that there were so many gnats around that they were just landing all over your body.LBG3

LBG4 LBG5 LBG6 LBG7

Here’s our picnic. Watermelon, grapes, strawberries, and sandwiches. Afterwards we went to my favorite place ever. Frozen YOGURT! I’m addicted to any place that has frozen yogurt and you can put on your own toppings. If I could have JUST that for 3 meals a day….I would.LBG8

 

 

 

Advertisements

Making an Apartment Feel like Home?

Is that actually possible? It is something that we struggle with all of the time. We are the kind of people that if we don’t like the way something is, we want to fix it. Well, you kinda can’t just start tearing down walls and rearranging things. I mean…I suppose we could, but I’m pretty sure that the landlords and the management company wouldn’t appreciate it too much. I think we are the kind of couple that would prefer a fixer-upper to always have something to better and keep us busy. We like to have things “our way” with our own taste. There are so many things about this place that we would love to fix, but we cannot.

I was told that making a place feel like home is adding personal touches, pictures, decor, etc. We have done that to some extent. Though we are still working on adding more pictures and decor it always feels like in the back of our minds we keep remembering that “this is temporary”. We have some handmade shelves up and hung some pictures up, but I don’t think we have even begun to go below the surface of stuff we wanted and still want to get done.

The bedroom basically has not been touched since we moved. The same can be said for the guest room/dog room/office. There has been a lot of stuff going on in our apartment that has made us regret moving here. We love the facility as a whole. We love the pool, the fitness center (that we have never used yet), the dog walk area, the spacious apartments, and the layout of the apartment. We cannot, however handle the elephants upstairs. No matter what time of day they are always there. STOMPING. VERY. LOUDLY. There’s no such thing as walking lightly to them at all. All you can hear is the heavy footed neighbors. We always feel on edge and like we can never actually relax because there is always banging. They go to bed at 12-1am and wake up at around 7-8am. They stomp in their bedroom (our bedroom is under theirs) very early and it ends up waking us up several times in the morning.

After several complaints, (3 in one weekend) our landlords/management company FINALLY agreed to move us! We are being moved two apartments over on the second floor. When we first were looking at apartments we REFUSED to get a second floor apartment. Our dogs like to run laps at random times of the night before bed. It’s easier to just walk out the patio and take them to go to the bathroom (of course now they refuse to go to the bathroom near our apartment and have to be walked around the block). We could be as loud as WE wanted. There were a million other reasons we didn’t want a second floor. We didn’t realize that…we would be living below elephants.

The neighbors that are moving out are leaving in July. We are able to move out of those apartment and into the upstairs one on August 1-4. With this move we also have to sign a NEW lease. We would be getting the same “special” rate of about $100 off a month for rent, but we will be paying $5 extra a month to live upstairs. We will be here another year (a total of 16 months) and will have to be out by July 31st 2015.

We do still have some projects we want to start/finish:

Tufted headboard

Finish painting and upholstering the kitchen furniture

Sand and paint all of the living room tables (coffee and end table)

Build an island in the kitchen for the wall to create more storage

Sand and paint all of my bedroom furniture (nearly 40 years old and the white is looking pretty yellow at this point)

Hang up the LAST shelf in the living room above the television

Get more frames to hang up pictures/put them on shelves.

 

We are pretty excited about moving upstairs. We just hope our lap running dogs don’t annoy the downstairs neighbors!

Trexler Preserve Hiking with the Dogs

Last weekend, (or was it the weekend before) we went hiking with the dogs. There aren’t many good places to go hiking in our area. We were spoiled with the views from hiking in Maine that nothing seems comparable. We want mountains, views, and everything included with that. The feeling of accomplishment that you get when you finally peak the mountain and see the hard work you just did is something that we thoroughly enjoy. Here there aren’t many mountains or hikes with a good view. We found out about the Trexler Nature Preserve when we were doing the covered bridge tour, so we set out to do some hiking on the trails. We might go back eventually because they have some awesome biking trails and if you know anything about us, we love biking.

The first part of this hike was soo deceiving. At the beginning when we were going up the hills I was so excited thinking we were going to be on top of a mountain and it would be such pretty views. Clearly, not the case, but it was really pretty!

Caution: We love our dogs like they are kids, so they always manage to find a way into our pictures! 🙂

TR1TR2TR3TR4The beginning part, I’m not gonna lie, was fairly easy. It was literally like a walk in the park…until we walked further. Then I took those happy thoughts back…

TR5

We got to a clearing with trees where we were gonna turn back around, but I had a brilliant idea! Lets walk down to the river. The nice easy walk turned into a fairly steep descend. All I kept thinking was what goes down must come back up! I’m stubborn. While I knew we might be better off turning back around, I said I wanted to go down to the river, so that is what we were gonna do.The dogs of course didn’t mind and were strictly business. I thought they would be tired by now. It was a fairly hot day out and we had been walking for about 20 minutes at a steady pace, but they wanted to go further as well.

TR6TR7

Once we got to the bottom it was all worth it. The dogs got to cool off in the river. Harvey got to fall in some mud so that his whole back was caked in mud. And then we discovered…ticks. Brady had one on him and Harvey had two. They hadn’t begun sucking yet and were still super tiny. Once we got up to the car they got inspected again and there were no more on them.

TR8Going back up was definitely a challenge for us. The dogs, not so much. We have determined that either it is really hard OR we are out of shape. I guess we will have to go with the latter of the two. Anyway, eventually we made our way to the car. Whether someone walked the whole way and the other had to be picked up by the car does not matter at this point 😉

 

 

 

This time as years fly

Around this time every year we get very nostalgic thinking back to our days when we traveled and worked summer jobs freely. We love looking at old pictures to see how our lives have changed, how we have changed, and how where we lived has changed. We wanted to post some pictures from past years (2009-2013) for the month of June since it’ll be here tomorrow!

5 years ago we were living in the Grand Canyon in Arizona! We moved there on May 20th, 2009 and had lived there until the beginning of August.

In June we were usually hiking off trails around this time in the Canyon:

GC1 GC2

Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. I think the best part of this trip was that our air conditioner didn’t work, so we were driving in 120* temperatures in a desert. Our car at the time was a black oldsmobile with black leather seats. OUCH, but we also got to see the original Route 66.

PDPF1

 

In 2009 we also got to hike into the canyon. We took off 2 days and caught 4:30am shuttle to the top of the South Kaibab Trail. We hiked 7.3 miles down to the campground near the Colorado River and camped out the night. The following day we hiked out at 5am we hiked another 10 miles out of the Canyon up the Bright Angel Trailhead. We LOVED this trip and it was something we always reminisce on. We would love to go back and hike the Canyon again from the North Rim to the South Rim this time! There’s something about being in the canyon that gives you so much more respect for it.GC3 GC4

In 2010 we had just moved from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to Acadia National Park in Maine! We got there on May 16, 2010 and left during the middle of August. Our goal of the summer was to peak every mountain that there were trails to and we ended up succeeding before we left. During June of this year we hiked Dorr, Cadillac, Flying, Valley, St. Sauveur, Day, and South Bubble.

ANP1 ANP2

We also had family visit us from Michigan, Peigi and Jesse (pre-babies of course). We went to the Cadillac Mountain at sunrise, visited waterfall bridge, visited an antique car museum, and a few sites in the area. ANP3 ANP4

Then Adam & I went on a Puffin Watching Tour. We found a company that runs a boat that goes to Machias Seal Island. The island is a bird sanctuary where a bunch of different breeds of sea birds come to lay eggs, etc. The dock was about 72 miles away from where we were living in Seal Harbor. The boat left at 6am and was a 2-3 hour boat ride to the actual island.

MSI1 MSI2

 

After 2010 we had pretty uneventful things going on in June in comparison. In 2011 we got engaged in March and got a new car. In April we moved into the upstairs room (which was hugeee for us at the time and Adam graduated college:

2011-12011-2and in June we had our engagement pictures taken by our photographer. Due to copyright we cannot post them on our blog.

In 2012 we were planning the wedding, having bridal showers, and we visited the Lockridge Furnace in Alburtis

2011

In 2013 we had visitors from Michigan. Adam’s family came to visit us. We went to Dorney Park, NYC, and our engagement spot.

2013 2013-1

We also ended up having a Suite at the Iron Pigs Minor League game for Father’s Day in 2013. Gotta love free things!

IPG

Reminiscing about the past always makes me sad that our lives aren’t as eventful as they were. We were always going off on adventures when we lived in the Grand Canyon and Acadia and now things have slowed down for us. Oh well! Maybe in another lifetime 😉

Acadia NP Travel Tips from Former Seasonal Employees

A few people have come to us asking about travel tips for Acadia National Park. With many requests and many responses we decided to throw them up here!

Adam and I worked at an Acadia National Park concession business several years ago (currently, no longer operating in the park). We worked there from the middle of May to the middle of August. We lived, slept, worked, ate, and hiked there. I worked as a sales associate at the busiest retail store in the park, Jordan Pond Gift Shop. My husband worked in the employee dorms. Through those 3 months we have learned some very beneficial tourist/traveling advice which we have chosen to live by when visiting and offering travel advice.

 

Best Time to Visit

 

This is all dependent on what your needs are, time frame, weather, etc. The best time to visit weather wise is obviously later on in the summer, July & August. Weather is gorgeous, it’s warm enough to wear tank tops and shorts, and the fog/rain isn’t as much as the previous months (May & June). While I do love to go travel when it is warmer weather, I also like to travel when there are less crowds so we can do more than what we would be able to during peak months. So once again, this depends on what you really want.

 

Best Times to Visit to AVOID Crowds

 

Obviously, with warmer weather and school being out means more people visit during the last months of the summer, but with that comes price hikes on hotels and all things tourist related. The typical tourists who come year after year during July & August also tend to be a little ruder than those of other months.

May & June are slower (albeit colder, more temperamental) months to visit.

September & October (We left prior to this, but from what I was told from my manager at the time), are slower, like May & June. Any busyness they have is cruise lines coming in and taking stops about 15 minutes at a time and then they leave.

Here’s something we learned through looking at sales. Our shop, during peak months (July & August) would average 1,000 sales a day. ONE THOUSAND, granted some were bottles of water, but that means over 1,000 people frequented the store (think about it, on vacation do you walk around gift shops alone? No, you bring your family or friends in there with you). Through those sales, we noticed a trend. Weekends were slow and Tuesdays-Thursdays were much busier days. We came to the conclusion that on the weekend everyone was unpacking/packing, getting settled in, & hanging around Bar Harbor. This made the other days (Friday-Monday) slower days, which makes it obviously better days to come into the park (at least the Jordan Pond area) and avoid the crowds. So overall the best time to visit the park is Fridays-Mondays, May-June, Sept-October.

As far as Bar Harbor goes, July & August are absolutely crazy busy months. I can’t even emphasis. Good luck driving or finding parking in Bar Harbor though. 😉 Your best bet is to park your car and walk around the streets because on car you barely move. This will make it much easier since driving will take you 10 minutes to drive sometimes even one block.

Pedestrians might anger you because they just run in front of the car without caring. Jaywalking is very common in the peak of the season. Tourists are just in vacation mode and are somewhat oblivious to what is going on around them. This makes it terrible to drive through. Trust me find a parking spot even if it seems far away, PARK YOUR CAR, and walk.

 

Moose? Puffins? Whales?

 

While I was there I hadn’t seen a moose on the island. There might (leaning more towards a not really) be a few moose in the area, but chances of seeing them are very slim. You have to be super lucky in order to catch a glimpse of any possible moose. I was told that if you do see any they will be near Aunt Betty’s Pond. I went one day and saw none. If you want to see moose, venture to Baxter State Park. I was told there are plenty there.

In order to see the puffins you have to be there at the right time. Puffins are only at land to lay their eggs, nest, and once the puffin babies are big enough to fend for themselves they leave land. They nest and incubate the eggs in May and June-July. They fly back and forth from water to the nest to feed the babies (which is actually prime time to see them I’ve been told since they are constantly bringing back fish to their young).

You might be able to see Puffins from a Bar Harbor tour.

You can find out more about that here.  However, you are not guaranteed to see puffins here.

We chose to go to Machias Seal Island. This is an actual reserve where puffins come every year like clockwork to lay their eggs and raise their young. It’s a little expensive to actually go see them. I think it was like $100++ each person. We really wanted to do it, so to us it didn’t matter. The experience at this facility is great and probably the best you will get in the states.

You are brought in by boat onto the island. There are soooo many puffins and seabirds in the water around you just floating. You will see a bunch of puffins flying on and off the island. When you get there you get a little lecture about watching where you step because the birds lay their eggs anywhere and they are small making it difficult to see. You then get directed into “blinds” where you can stand there and watch the birds around you. Most get a few feet away and you get to observe them, take pictures, etc.

Here are some of our pictures of our excursion to Machias Seal Island to see the puffins:

No puffins yet? Just wait!

No puffins yet? Just wait!

 

They are everywhere

They are everywhere

MSI3 MSI4 MSI5

You’d see more where we went than Bar Harbor because most don’t go there. The company I went to shut down, but you can Google “Machias Seal Island Puffin Tours” because other boat tours do run to that island, but not from Bar Harbor. I’d call up a few and see if they have an opening. If they do, take Dramamine beforehand, because we got soooo sea sick during the 3-hour round trip boat ride, but I’ll admit that it was worth it.

Note: If you are looking for the money shot of the puffins with fish in their beaks, you will have to come in July once their eggs have hatched and they are feeding their young.

Whales are wonderful to see here. I have heard some tourists complain they did not see any whales on days they went, but when I went there were a few. The hotter months (July & August) are the best time for seeing whales since they head over here from Hawaii during the summer month and leave when it starts to get colder out. I have been told that if you do not see any whales they give you a voucher to return to next day to see some whales. Once again, I had no problem with seeing any. I found it to be worth the trip honestly. It was worth it.

 

Hiking

 

On our days off we chose to hike all of the mountains in the national park that had trails leading up to it. Some of those days we had the terrible luck of having endless amounts of fog. We hiked it, but could barely see 5 feet in front of us.

I’ll give you a quick roundup of what mountains to peak and not to peak based on THE VIEW, since everyone’s difficulty level is different.

 

Best Views

 

North Bubble:

NBubble

 

Pemetic Mtn.:Pemetic1 Pemetic2

Flying Mtn./Valley Pk.:

ValleyPk

Valley Peak

FlyingValley

Acadia Mtn.:AcadiaMt

Champlain Mtn.:ChamplainMt

Gorham Mtn.:GorhamMt GorhamMt2

Try at your own risk: Beehive
Beehive

 

Skip It (opinions based on hike to views or view in general):

The Triad & South Bubble (unless your goal is to see Bubble Rock, otherwise North Bubble has better views):

The Triad & South Bubble/Bubble Rock

The Triad & South Bubble/Bubble Rock

Bernard Mtn. & Mansell Mtn.:BernardMansell

Conner’s Nubble: ConnorsNubble

Kebo Mtn.:KeboMt

Norumbega Mtn.& Beech Mtn. (unless your goal is to go up to the fire tower): NorumbegaBeech

 

St. Sauveur Mtn. (no pictures)

 

Too Foggy/Dark to Tell When We Hiked It: Sargent Mtn. & Penobscot Mtn., Day Mtn., Cadillac Mtn. & Dorr Mtn., Bald Pk., Parkman Mtn., Gilmore, Cedar Swamp Mtn.,

 

This is not a mountain, but the Great Head Trail is a gorgeous hike. Even if you only do a little bit and turn back around because the first half, we believe has the best views. It has really nice views of the Beehive & Sand Beach. The Jordan Pond Loop is a 5 miles “hike”. You could do a little bit and turn back around. Looks are very deceiving. Do to the shape of the pond it looks like you are nearly done, but it’s much longer than you think. So I would do a little bit or even just walk down to see it.

GreatHead

Great Head Trail

 

Things to do in the park

 

Definitely go to the top of Cadillac Mountain for sunrise. It’s GORGEOUS! I’ve never seen a sunrise as pretty. Look online for sunrise hours to get there like 30 minutes in advance for the golden hour. It will be a little breezy so bring some blankets and hot chocolate and wait it out. It’s gorgeous. During some months Cadillac Mountain sees the first sunrise in the United States.

ANP4

Go to Cadillac Mountain in general. It’s the highest point in the park and there’s a good view of the ocean and the porcupine islands.

Hunter’s Beach is pretty nice, but not swimmable. It’s nice to get out for a quick hike and see it. There are huge slabs of granite and whenever I had gone there was no one there.

People like to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse when they visit. We did it. You cannot go inside, but you can go down to the bottom via wooden stairs and get really nice pictures of the sun, waves, and lighthouse.

Southwest Harbor is a VERY CUTE town. Not as busy as Bar Harbor or as popular, but it’s very quaint. It’s very enjoyable and gives you that small town vibe.

A nice drive also is along Somes Sound on Sargent Drive. My manager would always recommend this drive to because it has such gorgeous views.

People also tend to like the Wonderland Trail for some reason. I wasn’t that blown away or amazed, but it’s all personal preference.

WonderlandTrail

Wonderland Trail

If you like gardens the Asticou Azalea Garden was reallly nice earlier in the summer.

You can also get rock climbing lessons in Bar Harbor. We never did that, but wanted to.

They also do have rentals where you can canoe in Long Pond or Jordan Pond. We canoed in Jordan Pond with a bunch of summer employees and it was a bunch of fun. Especially seeing the beavers.

Seal Cove has a really awesome Auto Museum. I’m not a car enthusiast and I loved it.

The truth about Thunder Hole: It’s a really a gimmick. It never thunders big or loud like it does in pictures. People (myself included) went there frequently near storms, high tide, full moon…nothing big happened. That usually only happens in the fall with all of the storms off of the coast.

Jordan Pond House is a restaurant in the park that has 11am tea and popovers on the front lawn. It’s a great view and something that everyone looks forward to when they come. For the 11am popovers you use line up outside of it for it to open and its first come first serve but they have lots of seating. For lunch and dinner reservations are required. Coming from Pennsylvania we were never exposed to popovers, so if you are like us the waitress/waiter will be able to tell you how to work them. They are delicious and very addictive. This restaurant is more known for its popovers and tea rather than it’s dinner however.

I’m not a seafood lover (shocking), but we did end up loving Geddy’s in Bar Harbor. They had good pizza. I stuck to this restaurant because my employee dining room liked to serve the same food daily and I like variety.

We also used to eat at this cute restaurant called Dink’s Route 66 Taxi. Everything in there is 1950’s themed. Eating there kinda takes you back in time. There is so much to look at while you are in there.

 

Those should be enough tips to keep many tourists busy 😉

Delaware Water Gap

This past weekend we took a little trip to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area. We loaded up the car with the dogs and drove the 90 minutes to go. We wanted to see some waterfalls that we found and after the rain that hit us we figured now would be best. They would be in full flow. Unfortunately the dogs spent most of the day in the car because when we got there we found out that no dogs were allowed in the areas we went.

The first waterfalls we saw were Silver Thread Falls and Dingman Falls.

SilverThreadDingmanFalls

DingmanFallsAfter those waterfalls we went to the one we most wanted to see, Factory Falls. By this time it started to rain on us.

FactoryFalls1

FactoryFalls2

FactoryFalls3This is perhaps our favorite picture of the day though:

CloudsSunRainThe temperatures were a bit chilly that day and we were dressed for pretty warm weather when we (I) were actually pretty cold the entire time. Our favorite falls ended up being Factory Falls, the main waterfall that we wanted to see. We ended up cutting the trip short because of the rain, weather, and the fact that the dogs weren’t allowed anywhere.

Family Wall Gallery Finally Complete!

So, we finally got to completing our family gallery wall. The picture we had hanging up for awhile was this picture:

01

It was a lonesome wedding picture of ours hanging in the middle of our dining room wall. Then we decided that we wanted to add more pictures. We could have thrown up a bunch of pictures from our wedding (which we were debating about for awhile), but settled on the idea of having pictures of our ancestors. Whether it was wedding pictures of them or any pictures we could find of them.

Ashley came up with the layout in her head. When we first threw up the pictures we threw them up the opposite of what we wanted. We wanted our families to be on the side in which we were in the pictures, so we changed that as we went.

We started off by tracing and measuring the frames that we were going to use for the project onto paper and then taping them onto the wall. We did the same for the opposite wall, but flipped it.

1We got the sign above our wedding picture at Hobby Lobby with a coupon. The main frame of us we found on clearance back in 2012 right before our wedding at Michael’s. We were gonna use it for our seating chart on our wedding day, but we changed our minds. The black 5×7 frames were from Hobby Lobby on sale, always 50% off. The frames with the white boarders (the ones of our families and the dual frames) we bought at Michael’s buy one get one free! The black sign with the quote about families we got from Peigi last Christmas.

2

There’s a picture of both our parents on their wedding days, our families, and our grandparents, great grandparents, and potentially we will fill the default picture (it’s the one with a couple with their kid on their shoulders…totally came with the frame) with a picture of Ashley’s great great grandparents.

And the final result:

3

So relieved to have this done, now if only we can get to the wall in our living room that we plan to put pictures of where we traveled to on there.