Kindred Spirits in Prince Edward Island

We visited Prince Edward Island (PEI) during our 2 week road trip of New England and Canada. We rented a car in Boston, explored Maine, and then spend some fun days along the Bay of Fundy before arriving in PEI.

We arrived in PEI after a long day exploring Fundy National Park. We were all hungry and tired so as soon as we crossed the Confederation Bridge and arrived in the town of Borden-Carleton we pulled off to eat. We had been excited to try Cows Ice Cream because we had heard so much about it so we just ended up eating Subway because they were in the same building. We arrived in our accommodations in Summerside in the later evening and pretty much went right to bed.

What We Did

Explore Summerside

Summerside is a cute town! We drove to town center and headed into the visitor center which was right on the harbor. There was a harbor walk and a lot of shops, but it was pretty early and it was dead while we were there. We had seen online that there was a newly founded historic walk that went through town starting at the Lefurgey House. It was strange that the visitor center didn’t actually have the walking tour brochure, but once we made our way to the Lefurgy House we were able to get a brochure and some good information. The house belonged to John E. Lefurgey who was a leading Summerside shipbuilder, produce dealer and politician. It was sold by one of his sons, but then repurchased by his granddaughter Wanda Wyatt who helped turn it into a sort of cultural center. The tour brochure let us to several historic buildings and monuments in the town. It was a nice way to spend an hour and a half in the morning before Kiddo’s morning nap.

Charlottetown

We started our day in Charlottetown, the capital and largest city of PEI, at the Founder’s Court Visitor Center where we got some information on walking routes to see the best parts of the city.

We explored Charlottetown using a combination of a Heritage Walk and a scavenger hunt for Eckhart the Mouse. Sprinkled throughout town, there are 9 statues of Eckhart the mouse who is, apparently, a beloved storybook character. They are in historic or culturally significant places and the tour gives you a little info at each one. We enjoyed searching for the little statues and could see that Kiddo would have loved this way to see the city if he was a bit older. There was also another kid-friendly scavenger hunt type tour of the city where you find different animal statues that starts at the Visitor Center.

Our tour included Founders Hall which is where the delegates of the Charlottetown Conference arrived in Charlottetown in 1864. The conference was pretty important in the history of Canada because it would eventually lead to the Confederation of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the Province of Canada (which contained what became Ontario and Quebec) into the Federation of Canada. We visited the Province House where many meetings of the delegates took place. We also visited St. Dunstan’s Basilica which is one of the largest buildings of its kind in Eastern Canada.

We did a brief break in the middle of the day for Kiddo to play in the park. He’s getting really good at climbing!

We ended the day walking along the waterfront where we stopped at another Cows to pick up ice cream and raspberry cordial!

Anne of Green Gables House

This was the reason we came to PEI! Della had been a fan of Anne of Green Gables as a child, both the books and the CBC TV movie. We’re a little embarrassed because we initially kind of misunderstood what the Green Gables House was. Della had thought it was the location where they did some of the filming for the movie and she was very pumped to see it. (Again, she has wanted to visit PEI since she was a kid specifically because of that film!) However, that it not really what the Green Gables house on PEI is at all.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, lived on PEI near the town of Cavendish. Her parents died/left when she was young, so she grew up with her grandparents. Her grandparents’ cousins lived in a house with green gables that inspired her to write the Anne of Green Gables series. There were other things there that inspired the locations in Anne’s adventures like the the Haunted Woods Trail and Lover’s Lane. There is also a real lake that becomes “The Lake of Shining Waters” in the stories. So, we figured this out – a little sheepishly – and then thoroughly enjoyed our time. The whole area is now a national historic site. When we entered there was a very short but enjoyable museum about Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life.

Then we toured the inside of “Green Gables.” They have set it up as if it were from the book so there is a room dedicated to Anne and then one for Matthew and one for Marilla.

After exploring there, and taking a picture with Anne herself, we headed off to walk the Haunted Woods Trail. We didn’t find it very scary, and Kiddo walked almost the whole thing himself. This, of course, made it go quite slowly.

We then eventually got him to calm down and take a bit of a nap in his stroller while we did the Lovers Lane trail and then watched another short video about the life of the author.

Near the Green Gables House, they have set up a representation of the fictional town of Avonlea (from the books) which was mostly a tourist trap.  We intended to visit later in the day, but ended up running out of time.

Cavendish Beach

After thoroughly exploring the Green Gables House, we decided to head to the coast near Cavendish which inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write many poems. We entered PEI National Park along the northern shore. We stopped briefly at an overlook where we could see the gorgeous red sand cliffs.

We had been planning on visiting Cavendish Beach and we saw that we could walk there from the overlook. It said it was a short walk and we knew it would be beautiful, so we set off. Upon reflection, we really wish we had better prepared for this. We didn’t bring the stroller OR the carrier, so we ended up just carrying Kiddo. It was too far for that to be comfortable. The walk was lovely- taking us through the dunes, near the coast, and across the Lake of Shining Waters.

We hadn’t expected Cavendish Beach to be so crowded! In our head, we thought, why would anyone swim? The water is so cold! However, we were sorely mistaken. We made our way down to the beach and sat for a little bit. Kiddo really enjoyed digging in the sand… and getting it ALL OVER himself- like into every nook and cranny. We also let him put his toes in the water. However, we weren’t really prepared to swim so we had to cut the trip short. We wanted to change him completely before the semi long drive back to Summerside and it was getting late. Eric ran back to get the car while Della tried to give Kiddo a shower and get him changed without getting too wet herself.

Scenic Drives

Throughout our 2 days in PEI, we ended up doing most of the Central Coastal Drive.  We did the southern Red Sands Shore on our way back from Charlottetown to Summerside and did some of the Green Gables Shore on our day exploring Cavendish. There are lots of scenic drives throughout the island because the entire place is gorgeous!

Where We Ate

Our best meal by far was near Cavendish. We went out to North Rustico for a late lunch at Blue Mussel.  We shared a seafood chowder poutine, Della got a lobster roll, and Eric got a bubbly seafood bake. The setting was lovely and the restaurant quite pleasant!

Traveling with Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

In one of our prior posts, we shared our strategy for eating out so much with a toddler. That strategy worked pretty well for *most* of the trip. However, at the halfway point, in PEI, he had started getting sick of it. There were one or two difficult meals where he was pretty antsy and grumpy. So, in PEI we made the choice to order in to our hotel a couple of times. This meant that Kiddo could run around the room and play with his books and toys while we ate.

Swimming with a toddler is a much more difficult proposition that we were anticipating. He doesn’t really understand the concept of “just putting your toes in.” If you’re swimming in the ocean with a toddler, ideally, you do not have to get there in the car and you have multiple people to help with the showering/cleaning up afterwards. The idea of putting a wet toddler in a car seat you need to use again soon with sand caking the inside of his diaper is very unappealing.

Kiddo was at a stage where he really wanted to do a lot of walking himself. However, that makes the hikes go very very slowly. We struggled to keep him moving forward and not stopping to check out every single rock and leaf. That was until we figured out that he was super excited about trying to run with help. He couldn’t really run by himself yet, but we we both held his hands and said “run run run” he would move forward at the quickest pace he could!

We have never visited so many playgrounds than we did on this trip. There were often times when Kiddo just needed a chance to run around and enjoy himself. We downloaded a playground app called Playground Buddy which seems to be a crowdsourced app to give information about playgrounds near you. It worked OK, but it needs more people! Join and give info about your playgrounds. (If you happen to know another app that you use for this purpose, please share!) We also just ended up googling to find the nearest places. Kiddo was much happier even if we just took a break to play for 15-20 min. We even found one near our hotel in Summerside so he could play before our long drive to Halifax.

 

Fun Days Exploring the Bay of Fundy

We explored the Bay of Fundy along the Canadian province of New Brunswick as part of our 2 week trip to New England and Canada. We rented a car in Boston and then traveled through parts of Maine.

The overland border crossing from Maine into New Brunswick was quite easy. We had no wait and were asked only very general questions about where we were going and coming from.

What We Did

Our first stop in Canada was St. Andrews by-the-Sea. We had rented a room at the Salty Towers on Airbnb. It was a large old house that felt a lot like a hostel (not a “party” hostel though, more for older travelers). Our room had a private bathroom and they had a pack n play for us!

As we were driving into town, we saw a lot of people wearing red and a lot of Canadian flags out, so we thought that it was either a very patriotic town or something special was going on. As it turns out, just by coincidence we had arrived on Canada Day! We walked the main drag in downtown and it was just alive with people strolling up and down in their patriotic gear. The energy was great! However, it was a bit hard to find a place to eat with a table available and a high chair. We eventually settled on Water St Diner. We shared a poutine for an appetizer – fun to be back in Canada! After finishing dinner (and exploring briefly a Canadian Dollar Store), we paused in the main square to listen to some music. They had several kids come up to Floss to the music which Della thought was hilarious.

Once we were back in our room, we got ready for bed, but then a fireworks display started. We had an excellent view from our bedroom window so watched for awhile. Unfortunately, it did mean that Kiddo had a little bit of trouble getting to sleep and stayed up quite late!

Trying to fall asleep post fireworks

From St. Andrew’s we took the 2.5 hour drive to Fundy National Park. The drive into the park was scenic, but before doing anything in the park itself, we continued on just past the park into Alma to eat lunch. We were a little disappointed with our lunch choice. The Octopus Garden had a very long wait for our food to arrive. We actually ended up having to take Kiddo outside for awhile because it took so long and he was getting antsy. It also, unfortunately, cut into our time for exploring the park.

After lunch we did a quick stop at the Visitor Center and decided that we only had time to do part of a hike. We ended up doing the first half of the Matthews Head hike which took us through dense forest out to a viewpoint over the bay. We took a few minutes to sit in the classic red Adirondack chairs to contemplate life. Then we headed back. Kiddo rode in a baby carrier for the way out and then did a bit of walking himself on the way back. Unfortunately, we only scratched the surface of Fundy National Park on a day that was a bit cloudy.

After spending a few days exploring Prince Edward Island and Halifax, we returned to the Bay of Fundy. The Bay is know for its extremely high tides, so we were excited to check out Hopewell Rocks. We rushed in, driving the approximately 3 hours from Halifax, hoping to arrive before high tide. Our timing was actually quite good. At lowest tide, you can apparently walk about 250 yards out on the sea floor. We arrived with about an hour left of access to the ocean floor. The Hopewell Rocks themselves are distinctive rock formations. We walked down to explore around them by foot. As the time passed, we enjoyed watching the water come closer and closer, until, eventually it got so high, we had to exit the sea floor and head up several flights of stairs to re-access the trail on the cliffs above.

Back at the main visitor area, there was a playground. We let Kiddo play for awhile and we all ate a picnic lunch before we headed off for our afternoon drive to Saint John.

We arrived to a heavy covering of fog. Right after we got checked in to our hotel, the skies opened up and it began to pour. We had been hoping to walk into downtown for dinner, but chose to drive to avoid getting soaked. It was a frustrating drive- while only a mile away, we made multiple wrong turns! And, due to the way the roads went and some construction, for every wrong turn, we had to essentially come all the way back to the hotel and try again! We were all getting quite frustrated and hangry!

Dinner was at St. John Ale House which we enjoyed OK, though it was a little slow for a frustrated family with a toddler. Della got a blueberry ale which was quite delicious and Eric enjoyed a taster tray of local ales. The food was tasty.

Even though it was almost dark at this point, we had checked the tide charts, and we had only one potential chance to see the famous Reversing Falls. Because the tides are so high, the river flowing into the bay actually reverses direction at high tide. We thought we arrived within 30 minutes of high tide, but the river still seemed to be flowing into the bay. We were too tired to stick around. We later read that the reversing might only happen at the very highest tide for a few minutes. We were bummed to miss it.

still appears to be flowing downstream…

The following day was lovely and sunny! We walked back into downtown for some sightseeing. We walked along the Harbour Passage trail into town from our hotel. It was a lovely walk along the Bay full of joggers and bikers. We particularly enjoyed walking next to the fragrant rose bushes planted all along the way. We decided to take a self-guided historic tour we found online here. We took the Prince William Walk which helped us explore the merchant heritage of Saint John. Some of the highlights were a Market Square, the old city hall, and several old banks. All the buildings were beautiful and we generally enjoyed the ambiance. We ended up at the “Three Sisters” light fixture where we took a jelfie before heading back up Germain St. Kiddo enjoyed doing a little bit of walking on his own. It was fun learning a bit of the history- apparently Saint John was essentially built by loyalists to Britain who escaped from the USA after the American Revolution.

We enjoyed our time along the Bay of Fundy – especially exploring St. Andrews and Saint John!

Traveling With Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

We had been planning on bringing a pack n play with us on this trip. We have a nice one that is quite light and packs into a bag that can carried on our backs – As far as pack n plays go- it’s a great one for travel. However, the more we thought about it, the more we knew we just didn’t want to carry it. It is another piece of luggage that would take up space on our backs getting to and from the airport, and in the our possibly compact car. Della had joined several Traveling Family facebook groups before the trip and she heard about a baby tent! We purchased a Kilofly Pop Up Portable Baby Travel Bed. There are many of these out there, but we chose this one because it came with a pad. Originally, we thought we would put this on the floor and it would contain Kiddo a little bit. As we went on, we ultimately decided that the pad wasn’t padded enough so throughout the trip we put the tent on cushions, a mattress on the floor, and a folded blanket. In several hotel rooms, we had 2 beds so we put it on the other bed. He rolls a lot in his sleep and could crawl out of the tent if he tried, so we often barricaded it on the bed with other luggage. This made us nervous a few nights, but ultimately, it worked really well! AND, it folds up so small, you can just pop it in your suitcase!

We bought and used a LOT of milk on this trip. Kiddo was at a stage where he was done with nursing/formula but still counting on milk for a lot of his calories. Because we were often driving all day, the milk would be in our hot car. We brought a folding cooler with us on the trip and were so glad that we at least had a way to try to keep the milk cold! We did purchase a small ice pack at one point, which would have been nice to have the whole time.

Marvelous Maine (Mane-O, Mane-O!)

We visited Maine as part of our 2 week New England and Canada road trip. 

We were able to see several friends in Maine and explored mostly the coastal region of this state that we had never visited!

The title of this post hearkens back to a children’s board book, Good Night, Maine. One of our good friends gave this to Kiddo as a gift when we visited her in Northport and it quickly became an absolute favorite. We had to read it over and over again. He would let us know loudly that he wanted to read it by yelling “Mane-O Mane-O!”

What We Did

Our first stop in Maine was in Kennebunk. We used this time to catch up with a friend who experienced the Nepal Earthquake with us. We didn’t really get much of a chance to see Kennebunk except for a quick drive through. It looked like a beautiful town!

Portland

We spend one night in Portland. Our evening involved exploring downtown and struggling to find a place to eat that had no wait and seemed baby friendly! The town was quite cute. The following morning we explored Fort Allen Park on the Eastern Promenade. It was a lovely day and we all enjoyed the walk with a beautiful view of the bay. 

Bangor

We spent an afternoon in Bangor. We were mostly looking for a place that was halfway between Portland and St. Andrew’s (NB, Canada). But, Eric had read about how Stephen King lives in Bangor and how several of his books use it as an inspiration for location. We drove by the house and then ate a quick lunch in downtown which was also quite cute. We walked around briefly and then drove to another attraction we had heard about – the Paul Bunyan Statue. We wish that we had found another park to enjoy because Kiddo wasn’t really ready to be back in the car after our sojourn in Bangor, but we had to move on!

Machias and Wild Blueberry Land

After spending several days in Canada, we returned to the USA. We stopped for lunch in Machias where we enjoyed a Haddock Rueben and a Clam Chowder at Helen’s. In our attempt to find interesting things to do halfway between Saint John (NB, Canada) and Northport (our final destination for the day) Eric had explored the Altas Obscura and read about Wild Blueberry Land. We stopped at this unique locale for a short while so Kiddo could explore and stretch his legs. It did look like it had seen better days, but it is still a place to find wonderful blueberry everything. We purchased some preserves and a delicious slice of pie. We also watched the workers briefly doing some painting on the miniature golf course which was currently closed.

Northport

We spent 3 lovely nights with a friend in the town of Northport. Her family owns a cottage right on the water. We spent one relaxing day on her front porch taking in the scenery and then playing in ocean while the tide came in. It was also a nice place to stay that wasn’t too far away from our next day trip…

Acadia National Park

Our first stop in Acadia was the visitor center to pay our park fees and get our bearings. From there we decided to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain. It was a pretty short drive. Upon reaching the top, we took a short walk around just taking in the views. Before heading out, we had a small picnic lunch on the rocks.

We headed back to the visitor center to drop off the car because we had decided to take the park shuttles for the rest of our adventure. There are several different shuttles that take different routes throughout the park and you can get all that info at the visitor center as well as view signage at the different stops. We headed first to Sandy Beach. We didn’t actually go to the beach, but instead walked along the Ocean Path to Thunder Hole. The walk was quite nice visually, but it was hot and right along the road so it wasn’t as pleasant as we had initially hoped. If we hadn’t been carrying Kiddo, we might have explored more along the rocky shore.

Unfortunately, Thunder Hole was very crowded and was not doing its thing. We understand that often the waves crash loudly over the rocks and explode up quite high so it is both visually and aurally interesting. However, at the point we were there it was really quite tame.

We caught a shuttle onward to Otter Point. This was one of our favorite spots of the day. It was quiet and pleasant with lovely views. Unfortunately, we were starting to feel a time crunch. Our host had a dog that she had left at home which was 1.5 hours away and we knew we needed to get back.

We made only one more stop at Jordan Pond where we only had a brief time to walk down to the pond and a few minutes around the trail.

Acadia was, as many national parks are, crowded so it didn’t really feel like we were getting out in nature. However, there were several less popular spots that we wish we could have spent more time exploring!

Traveling with Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

Our plan of driving morning and late afternoon really worked quite well. Kiddo was able to explore during the afternoon and slept during the car rides. This strategy lead us to some lesser visited and more unique places. We did decide that for the most part, stopping for just a lunch was not enough give Kiddo the time he needed to stretch his legs.

Our hook-on highchair was really useful for staying with friends who don’t have kids themselves!

While we were glad we saw as much as we did on the two week trip, it was really nice to spend an off day in the same place without a ton of sightseeing involved!

We had brought several books for Kiddo along with us on the two week trip, but we acquired a few more from different friends along the way and it was definitely a good thing to gain more options as the time went on. This kept it fresh and new for Kiddo.

Eating with Kiddo at restaurants can be challenging sometimes – especially when he just spent multiple hours in a car and is much more anxious to be stretching his legs. We built a pretty good “keep kiddo entertained” strategy for eating as our trip went on. We always carried crunch snacks with us like Cheerios or other baby foods. As soon as we sit down in a restaurant, those come out. It normally keeps him entertained through ordering. As we are waiting for food to arrive, we often would take out a toy or two in addition to the crunchy foods. He currently is really into anything with wheels. If we were lucky, that would take us until food arrives, then he would be busy eating more and trying all the food we had ordered. As he got sick of that, we would pull out his bottle of milk. In order to give us the time needed to finish our meal and pay our check, our last strategy was to give him a baby squeeze pouch which he really enjoys. This got us through *most* meals with no problem!

Flexibility was key. While we did try to make sure that our journey gave Kiddo an opportunity for 2 naps, we never really timed anything. Occasionally, he had to be ready to go down for first nap as early as 9 and other times we ended up pushing it back to 11 or so. So, the fact that we did this trip when he still took 2 naps but probably only truly needed 1 was really helpful.

 

 

 

Spring Break Trip to Tennessee: Nashville

As we mentioned in prior posts, we’ve had a recent addition to the family and we’ve learned a lot about how to travel with a baby! We are attempting to visit US states that we haven’t yet been to. So, for spring break we decided to do a bit of a Tennessee/Kentucky road trip. We were joined on this trip by Della’s parents Peggy and Wayne. We started out in Memphis and then drove to Mammoth Cave in KY and then headed back into Tennessee to check out Nashville!

While in Nashville, we stayed in an AirBnB in the West End. It was a private suite in someone’s home. We got their entire second floor and it was lovely to have three bedrooms, a sitting room, and a bathroom all to ourselves. They even had some toddler friendly toys!

What We Did

Bicentennial Park – It was a little cold, so we didn’t spend too long here though we thought it was quite lovely. We checked out some views of the capital and read some of the information spread throughout the park.

Country Music Hall of Fame – This was very crowded! We ended up standing in line for a little while. At the time we visited, there was a special exhibit about Emmylou Harris. We then spent quite awhile exploring the main exhibit which follows country music from its roots to the present day. We enjoyed another special exhibit on the outlaw country scene from Austin in the 70s. We thought the museum was fairly well organized but a little hard to follow. Audio guides might have helped but they were out, unfortunately. We had to take turns keeping Kiddo entertained as he wasn’t content to sit in his stroller. None of us are huge country music fans, but we found it interesting all the same. 

Downtown Highlights – We spent the evening wandering the streets of downtown. We walked Broadway, Second Ave, and the riverfront. There were so many different bars that had live music going and we enjoyed walking by and listening in. Many had open windows to the street. This is another time where we might have enjoyed our time a little bit differently if we hadn’t been traveling with Kiddo. 

The Hermitage – Last year, we visited the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AK. We hadn’t ever been to a presidential library and we thought it was really interesting. We decided we wanted to visit more throughout our travels! We have since visited LBJ in Austin and Bush in Dallas. So, we decided to stop by The Hermitage on our way to the airport.

The Hermitage is Andrew Jackson’s residence and functions as a museum and historic site. It has a lot of information about the life of Andrew Jackson and you can walk through the historic farm and home. There was an audio guide to bring you through the site which was quite good. In addition to the self-guided audio tour, they also do an in-person tour of the mansion. Unfortunately, there was a long line of people waiting for this part. We did want to see it though, so we waited in line.

Unfortunately, this is where the day got a little bit messy. Kiddo had not napped on the drive to the Hermitage as we had hoped so he was a little antsy and grumpy. Della was a little frustrated that she missed out on a pretty good introductory film and most of the museum area. Kiddo did enjoy trying to walk through the grounds, but wasn’t too interested in stopping to listen to the audio guide! It was also a chilly day, so the long wait outside the mansion was a little trying on all of us.  The worst part was when it was our turn, he melted down once he put in the carrier so Della stayed outside while the rest toured inside. Eric took over and got him to sleep with a lot of help from Peggy so that Della could still rush through the mansion. Due to our time constraint of getting to the airport on time for our flight, we only had time to go quickly through the gardens -and unfortunately missed most of the rest of the fields. We enjoyed the visit and would recommend it – though doing it with a baby who has missed nap time is not ideal. 

Where We Ate

Farmers Market House – this was an extensive food hall with all kinds of food! We each got something from a different stall: Eric got fried catfish, Della a burrito, Wayne Jamaican, and Peggy gyros. We all enjoyed our food. Kiddo enjoyed eating off all of our plates.

Edley’s – We had intended to go to the classic Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for dinner but it turned out it was closed on Sunday night – which is the night we were there of course. We still wanted to try hot chicken, so after a little research we ended up at Edley’s. The line was a bit long to order and several of the sides we wanted were already gone, but we did enjoy the food we did get. Della got Hot Chicken and while it was probably not the classic experience, it was still a good one. 

Vegetarian Indian Restaurant at the Woodlands – One evening, we met an old friend of Wayne and Peggy and he took us here. We were a little tired of BBQ at that point so this was a welcome change. We shared some appetizers, dosas, and curries. All of us enjoyed the meal, even Kiddo who was mostly content to hang out and chow down!

Traveling with Kiddo (lessons learned)

Kiddo was about 13 months old and about a week away from walking! It was hard to schedule days around appropriate nap times and we had only brought a small cheap umbrella stroller with us. He did not nap easily in it. We learned we had to buy a bulkier but reclining stroller which would have made things easier!

Bringing our hook-on high chair was great for several meals, both out at restaurants and in the Airbnb!

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break Trip to Tennessee: Jaunt to Kentucky via Nashville

As we mentioned in prior posts, we’ve had a recent addition to the family and we’ve learned a lot about how to travel with a baby! We are attempting to visit US states that we haven’t yet been to. So, for spring break we decided to do a bit of a Tennessee/Kentucky road trip. We were joined on this trip by Della’s parents Peggy and Wayne. We started out in Memphis and then drove to Mammoth Cave in KY with a short stop in Nashville on the way!

We drove 3 hours from Memphis to Nashville in the morning. Luckily, Kiddo napped most of the way. We had planned to stop at Belle Meade for a break, but unfortunately all the tickets were sold out when we got there. We went with our backup plan of visiting the Parthenon. It was really fun to see this full scale replica of the one in Athens. The replica was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. It also includes a re-creation of the 42-foot Athena statue inside. Peggy took Kiddo to a playground across the way while the rest of us went inside. We really enjoyed the information about the Centennial Exposition, a special exhibit of interesting modern mosaics, the Athena statue, and Elgin marbles inside.

We continued on through bad traffic to our hotel in Cave City, KY stopping to eat at the White Squirrel Brewery in Bowling Green. Everything was decent, but not fantastic.

The following day we awoke early and headed to the main event: Mammoth Cave National Park! We had signed up in advance to participate in the Historic Tour. The tour group was quite large (over 100 people!) The historic tour goes through the areas of the cave that were first discovered and explored. There were not too many spectacular formations on this part of the tour because it is not actively exposed to water. We ultimately wished for more historic content by the guide on our tour so were slightly disappointed. Kiddo rode with Eric in the carrier. He ultimately seemed less than impressed! The most fun aspect was that there were a few parts where you really had to squeeze through narrow areas! Eric made it even with Kiddo on his front!

Following the tour, we rushed through some exhibits in the visitor center. We wished we could have spent more time because there was a lot of good content. However, you’re probably noticing a pattern, Kiddo was not really feeling it.

We ate a quick lunch in the parking lot before getting back on the road to head back toward Nashville.

We were in Kentucky though – so we really thought we needed to try some bourbon! We stopped in Franklin to visit the Dueling Grounds distillery. It was a pleasant place with both inside and outside seating areas. We were able to request a tasting and tour when we got there and a very nice and knowledgeable worker took us through a tasting of their offerings: “the clear” which is not aged virtually at all, a 2 year bourbon, the Apple Pie which is clear mixed with spices, and then three fruit liqueurs.  We liked the all but particularly enjoyed the bourbon and the Apple Pie. The worker also gave us a tour of the distilling process in back which was very educational. Kiddo was being pretty antsy and fussy again so we had to take turns holding him and missing parts of the tour. 

We finally got back on the road to Nashville.

Traveling with Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

Kiddo was 13 months and about a week away from walking when we visited Mammoth Cave. We are big fans of baby carriers and they allow you to do a lot of things that a stroller wouldn’t including visiting Mammoth Cave.

Kiddos at this age are pretty squirmy… Thank goodness we had some extra adults to help out when we had to step out of touring situations.

Kiddo’s favorite activity at this age is almost always playgrounds!

 

Spring Break Trip to Tennessee: Memphis

As we mentioned in prior posts, we’ve had a recent addition to the family and we’ve learned a lot about how to travel with a baby! We are attempting to visit US states that we haven’t yet been to. So, for spring break we decided to do a bit of a Tennessee/Kentucky road trip, starting in Memphis. We were joined on this trip by Della’s parents Peggy and Wayne.

Packing for a trip with a baby is more arduous than just packing for ourselves and we often end up having a lot more stuff! With this trip, because we weren’t meeting anyone we knew there, we brought a light umbrella stroller, an infant carseat, a hook-on highchair, and a pack n play. It was a short trip, so were able to pack all of our clothes in one large checked bag. It definitely helped having Peggy and Wayne there for carrying all the stuff though.

We followed all our tips for flying and the flight went smoothly! Kiddo slept for only about an hour, but enjoyed looking out the window for the rest of the time. We rented a car (it was cheaper at a location outside the airport so Eric and Wayne took a Lyft over to get it while Della, Peggy, and Kiddo played on the stairs in the airport). We were, it turns out, very lucky to get upgraded to a minivan for free. This ended up making us much more comfortable on all of our drives throughout the trip!

For accommodations, since there were four of us we thought it would be best to book a place through Airbnb. We were able to find a nice two-bedroom house about 10 minutes away from downtown. Having our own kitchen, dining area, and bedrooms separate from the living space were all helpful for making the stay with Kiddo easier.

What We Did

March of the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel – There is a fountain in the lobby of this hotel which features live ducks swimming around. This tradition began in the 1930s and continues to this day.  The story goes that, in 1940, a bellman who was a former circus animal trainer named Edward Pembroke taught them to march into the pool and out each day! The ducks live in the penthouse of the hotel and visitors can watch them make the march to and from the elevator at 11 am and 5 pm each day. It was incredibly crowded so we only go small glimpses of the the ducks, but it was still kind of fun! Kiddo is currently duck obsessed, so we think he liked it!

Explore Beale Street – We spent one evening soaking up the sights and sounds of this historic avenue. This is one time where having Kiddo join us did cramp our style a little. We didn’t eat at the restaurants because of the longer wait and didn’t really go inside any other music venues. But the general feel, murals, and statues were still fun.

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel – We felt lucky that Wayne agreed to stay back at the Airbnb with Kiddo so the rest of us could really enjoy this museum. We found the museum, located at the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., very engrossing with moving exhibits and information about the Civil Rights movement.  The exhibitions were in good chronological order so for those of us who weren’t alive during the time period, it gave us a lot of good context and made us feel the emotions of the time. We found the whole experience quite powerful. 

Rock N Soul Museum – This museum takes you through the musical history of Memphis. It was done via guided audio tour which was pretty cool because there were many snippets of music to listen to. It was really neat to read a bit of history and then be able to listen to songs by the artists described. There was a tremendous amount of information and music and Kiddo was unfortunately getting pretty fussy so we didn’t get to do as much there as we would have liked. This was when we really wished we had made a better stroller choice (see tip 9.)

Pedestrian Bridge Over the Mississippi River – This bridge is apparently the longest pedestrian bridge in the country at almost a mile long! We didn’t go the whole way though. We took a very pleasant walk out to the approximate middle where there is a line to show that you’re crossing into Arkansas. This was a fun place to straddle the border of two states! Kiddo was just learning to walk with support and enjoyed his time on the bridge. It offers some good views of Memphis as well.

Dinner in Mississippi – We mentioned before that we are trying to capture US states that we haven’t been to. At the pedestrian bridge, we realized that we were only about a 15 minute drive from the border of Mississippi. Given we’d never been and weren’t entirely sure when we might be back, we decided to cross the border for dinner! We found a little place pretty close to the state line called Crawfish Haven where we shared jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, gumbo, and shrimp and grits. Then we headed back to Memphis after the sun went down!

Where We Ate

Rendezvous BBQ – This is a Memphis tradition. It is the birthplace of an entire style of BBQ: Memphis-style dry rubbed ribs. However, we ultimately weren’t too impressed. It was quite crowded and we had to wait for a table. This might not have been too bad because there’s a bar area upstairs with tables where you can drink while you wait, though Kiddo wasn’t really having it. We also found the food only OK. We actually found the brisket to be the most interesting!

Central BBQ – We actually picked up some BBQ to go from here and ate it back at our AirBnB. We enjoyed everything we got here!

Traveling with Kiddo (lessons learned)

Kiddo was about 13 months old and about a week away from walking! His biggest challenge at the beginning of this trip was sleep. For some reason, he went crazy the first several times we put him in the pack n play. If we were doing it again, we probably would have had him sleep in the pack n play several times in the days/nights leading up to the trip so he was more familiar with it.

Bringing our hook-on high chair was great for several meals, both out at restaurants and in the Airbnb!

 

 

Ten Tips for Traveling With a Baby

We took our kiddo on his first flight about 3 months after he was born. We continued to travel several times throughout his first year. It was intimidating to figure out how to get back to traveling with a young baby, but here are some ideas that helped us get back on the road.

  1. When you’re deciding on where to travel – pick a place where you will visit family or friends. Extra hands for baby watching are always appreciated! In our experience, family and friends were more than happy to give us a few minutes break now and then to snuggle with our new addition. We were able to even do some traveling type things (go to a wedding baby-less, go on a couple hour segway tour, waterski in a lake, etc.) We have definitely come to a conclusion that the ideal adult-to-baby ratio is at least 3-to-1. 😉
  2. When you’re traveling by plane – less stuff means less stress! We were surprised on our first trips that, if you ask, you can find people at your destination that have many of the baby items you need. For example, on our first trip, which was to TX where Eric’s family lives, they were able to provide a carseat (already installed when they picked us up from the airport), a pack n play for sleeping, and a stroller for any walking we needed to do while there. We were lucky because Eric’s sister has a child and so many of these things were easy to find.  *Of course, we made sure that the carseat was not expired. We were able to do something similar on our second trip to Wisconsin where we also have family. Again, all of the essentials were provided for us! We were surprised because the youngest children out there were considerably older than our Kiddo, but they still had many of the items and were happy to let us borrow them. We took another trip to TX in the fall – no family support this time, but we’re of an age that many of our friends either have children or know others who have children. On this trip, we had to bring our own carseat and stroller, but our friends were able to get their hands on a pack n play for us to borrow.
    (Random note – we have now also been the random people who have a pack n play in our town for borrowing when friends’ friends come in to town!)
    Regardless, if you’re going somewhere where you know people, it never hurts to ask! (Many hotels and some airbnbs also can provide a crib/pack n play.)
    On that note, if you don’t need a stroller at your destination- don’t feel like you need it just for the airport! Carry baby in a carrier – it’s much less bulky and is attached to your body – one less thing to worry about!
  3. If you can’t go to a destination to visit friends or family, bring some with you! We started to explore new places when Kiddo was about 7 months old. We weren’t yet ready to face a long flight with a baby. (We realized too late that the easiest time to travel is when they are smallest and are in the eat, sleep, poop phase. By the time they are awake more and almost crawling, it felt like shorter travel times were better!) So, we decided to start hitting US destinations that we have never been. We each have a goal of visiting all the US states at some point, but neither of us are there yet. First on the list: Arkansas! Della had never visited and Eric had some wonderful childhood memories from there, so off we went. Hot Springs, AR is only a 4 hour drive from where Eric’s mom lives, so she drove up to join us (bringing a pack n play and carseat!!) This meant we had an extra pair of hands and less stuff to travel with. Again, baby carrier to the rescue – we didn’t even need a stroller.
    On another trip, we visited Tennessee, Kentucky, (and sort of Mississippi). This time, we brought Della’s parents along with us. We had to bring all the items, but because we had two extra adults flying with us, it wasn’t too bad!

    Grandma support while waiting for rental car!

  4. Schedule direct flights around nap times if possible. As your baby grows and *maybe* starts falling into a schedule, do your best to make sure they sleep on the plane. This is less stressful for everyone. We have literally chosen our destinations based on where we can fly direct (that’s affordable).
  5. Feed baby on take off and landing. Apparently the sucking motion helps with natural ear popping and can help keep baby calmer and in less pain while the plane goes up and down. We live by this rule, though luckily our Kiddo has not seemed to have trouble with the pressure changes. Della found breast feeding challenging and therefore breastfeeding in the confines of an airline seat almost impossible, so we always used a bottle (but many other women find breastfeeding on the plane easy). We start the bottle shortly after the plane starts taxiing. Kiddo normally falls asleep shortly afterwards. Luckily, for many of our trips, Kiddo slept all the way through and we didn’t actually have to feed on the way down. Note: You can take breastmilk, regular milk, formula, and even small amounts of water through security, but plan for them to pull it off and do an extra testing. It takes a bit longer, so make sure you get to airport early! In order to make it go most smoothly, pull out all food or liquid items that you have for baby and put them all together in one bin. In some cases, TSA officers have told us that they need to remove the lids from the milk and other times not. But, they always have do a separate test of all liquid items. This has always gone smoothly for us though it often does take extra time!
  6. Bring some toys! For the plane ride itself, if Kiddo does wake up, we have some favorite toys and books along for distraction. We also now carry a variety of snacks for Kiddo to feed himself if necessary (like Cheerios!) Also, if your destination doesn’t have any, you’ll be grateful for the small breaks they’ll provide you. We always pack in packing cubes and have started to take one medium sized cube full of his favorites when we travel.
  7. Bring a hook-on high chair! If you know you will only be eating at regular restaurants on your trip or that the family member or friend that you’re visiting has a highchair already, you can ignore this one. However, we’ve found that it is invaluable in airbnbs, hotels, at some fast casual restaurants, for picnic lunches, or if we’re visiting friends that don’t have highchairs (or need their own for their own kid!) We have 2 hook-on high chairs, one is called an Inglesina Table Chair. This works great for many restaurants, picnic tables, or counter tops. However, we prefer a very old one that we have (it was Della’s when she was a baby) that hooks on much more easily and also folds up much better. It looks more like this. However, we can’t find any new ones like it! It works much better for tables in peoples’ homes. (If a table has any kind of lip underneath, our other chair simply doesn’t work.)
  8. Use an old device for a white noise sound machine! Our Kiddo uses a sound machine at home to sleep. It is generally just a good cue for letting him know it’s time for sleep, but we don’t want to lug it with us! So, we’ve started to use Della’s old tablet which we occasionally bring for reading purposes anyway. It is so easy to download white noise apps and then play them all night. You could also use your phone – but we tend to want those even after baby is asleep!
  9. Invest in a travel stroller that has a reclining seat. This is something we have learned over time. Initially, when traveling to visit family, it was easy to set aside nap times or when baby was really small, he could sleep anywhere (like in a carrier). When we did our first real sightseeing trip when he was a bit older and had more FOMO it became more of a challenge. First, it became hard and annoying to plan our days around napping – impossible really. That first trip we had a very small umbrella stroller. Kiddo would not nap in it really at all. It was very small and light and therefore easy to travel with, but it ultimately was not the best option. For later trips, we got a bigger umbrella stroller. It doesn’t compact nearly as much, but it reclines and is more comfortable for Kiddo so he can easily fall asleep in it. This was a game changer for sightseeing trips because he can nap on the go!
  10. Find the shortest travel time! You’ll notice that we have talked mostly about flying trips in this post. We found out early on that flying was easier for us than road-tripping even though our kiddo was pretty good in the car and tended to sleep well. The problem was when he woke up! Even if he slept for 3 hours, he was pretty grouchy when he got up and wanted out of the car. Driving anywhere typically takes longer! Of course, flying takes time too, but there is generally a little bit more flexibility. We would find areas in the airport with fewer people and let him crawl around while waiting for planes. He would typically sleep for a few hours on the plane and even if he woke up he wasn’t constrained as much and was able to interact with both of us for entertainment. Also – of course, when they are under two they can fly for free on your lap! We will likely change our mode of travel when he gets a bit older to be much more road trip oriented.

So, there you have it! Some ideas about how to get back to traveling with your new addition! Our travel style has definitely changed and we’re still getting used to that, but it definitely feels good to be back on the road!