midsummer night’s catch-up

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We haven’t made a post in so long, we have contemplated putting the B Bus on hiatus — the blog, that is, not the actual B Bus, which is still rolling on, taking us to camp, to the beach, to softball games and street fairs.  Summer is in full swing. The girls have graduated from 5th grade, said goodbye to our neighborhood elementary school, and embraced the middle school reading list along with their new cell phones.

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While at overnight camp at beautiful Ferry Beach in southern Maine, they made these stunning fairy houses. Perfect for teeny tiny magical woodland beings on a midsummer eve.

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And I’ve been puttering around in the garden a lot. Last summer’s epic road trip was so incredible. But in some ways it’s a relief to be staying close to home this year. I can never truly keep up with the weeds, but at least this year I have a fighting chance.

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We did lose some plants to the bitter winter, but it truly astounds me every single year when we see what has survived to push forth into the sun and heat and steamy green of summer.

– PHB

 

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dreaming of summer: let’s go for a RIDE

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above: Hershey Park / Hershey, PA

2013 Summer Roadtrip Recap: Picturing Thrills and Chills

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Months have gone by and summer seems both a distant memory and a longed-for mirage on the other side of this bitterly cold winter. We thought it’d be fun to do some more roadtrip recaps, to capture more of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, and other images from Summer 2013. 

Before and during our big road trip the girls and I enjoyed rides that are faster, louder, steeper, twistier, and a heck of a lot more thrilling than driving around in the B Bus!

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Last summer we spent more time than we usually do at amusement parks. I took lots of pictures while they went on LOTS of rides! These are some of our favorite old-time carnival-inspired amusement park photos, from Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, and a few other tourist spots.IMG_0988

Our favorite ride at Canobie Lake Park: Da Vinci’s Dream. Always best at sunset.IMG_0987 IMG_0991

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Old-timey Over the Rainbow.IMG_4663

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PHB, GHB, & LHB all contributed to this post

misty morning in maggie valley

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Summer Roadtrip Recap: Maggie Valley, NC

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Now that we’re home, we want to recap some of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, in both words and images, and not necessarily in chronological order.

Maggie Valley is in the heart of the Smokies about an hour west of Asheville, and close to the Oconaluftee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It also boasts the added attraction of Tom’s Stand, a magical mountaintop home on Bear Stump Gap where we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful visit with dear friends I hadn’t seen in literally decades.

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The girls were meeting Jane for the first time, and we got to sleep in her incredible art-filled log house, surrounded by flowers, horses, cattle, hummingbirds, friendly Jay Jay the Jack Russell guard dog and — perhaps in the middle of the night — a roving bear or two.

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The road to the house was shrouded in mist when we headed up off the highway in Maggie Valley near the pancake house, past the family’s Cataloochee Ranch. mail.google

The curving dirt road simply disappeared into the clouds in front of our eyes.

The Odyssey doesn’t have 4WD and this driver was modestly freaked out by the fog-shrouded drop-off at the edge of the steep road. So the B Bus had to spend the night at the ranch.  And Jane picked us up in her intrepid Subaru for our overnight in the clouds. When we pulled up at the big hand-hewn log house with its elven guest cottage across the lawn, LHB’s reaction was priceless: “She lives in a fairy house!”

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And so it proved.  The cottage kept appearing and disappearing into and out of the mist like something from Brigadoon.

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In spite of the rain that obscured the views, our visit was a joyful highlight of the trip, an evening of wonderful conversation and catching up with Jane, who was one of Emmy’s dearest friends back in NYC days, and son Ames, last seen by me sometime before either of us learned to read. The girls marveled at Jane’s multi-textured rooms brimming with art, photographs, ceramics, and curious objects. LHB took many photographs, including some of these.

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When we awoke the next morning steady rain had set in, and we still couldn’t see over to the driveway.

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IMG_0626We said goodbye to the hummingbirds and headed down to see the ranch and meet some of the other residents, including cows, horses, turkeys, and the staff and dudes (guests) at the ranch.

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LHB hopped in and out of the car to take these great livestock and landscape photos.

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We left a quahog from the Cape for Jane’s garden pond — a little piece of New England for her beautiful haven in the Smokies.

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It was tempting to stay longer and we could have spent at least a week exploring these beautiful mountains, but we had to pull ourselves away from Cataloochee, bound for Chattanooga!

– PHB

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parked in the driveway

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3,601 miles since our Massachusetts to the Mississippi adventure began, the B Bus is home again tonight. We can’t believe we were only away two weeks — the weeds out in front of the house, along with leggy sunflowers and out-of-control hostas, are giving everything a very Jurassic Park look (this an especially apt comment by friend and neighbor ATC). But in spite of epic amounts of weeding (and laundry) to be done, we are happy to be home. It was an unforgettable road trip loaded with wonderful experiences, places, people, and creatures.  But we’re all a little travel-weary, and glad to have a week to settle in at home before school starts.

I learned a lot from being on the road with GHB and LHB. They are genuine road warriors now, accomplished at navigating everything from Google maps to strange towns, new situations and unfamiliar food choices. It was a great way to mark our milestone birthdays together. We hope to post some more of our stories and pictures in the coming days, but for now we’re enjoying the chance to stop and rest!

– PHB

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Cumberland, MD

valley forge

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A final national park stop before we arrived back in the northeast yesterday. At Valley Forge the girls were eager to find the monument to Baron Friedrich Von Steuben – they are fans of the baron from Ms. Power’s cool summer fun course on the American Revolution. We left a B bus quahog there in tribute to the troops and the winter of 1777.
Now we are homeward bound – will sleep in our own beds tonight!

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Photographing the baron overlooking the Grand Parade grounds.

sleep in a wigwam: signs along the road

Some of my favorite tourist signs and spots as seen through the windshield of the B bus this week and last.

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Cave City, KY

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Cherokee, NC

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Bryson City, NC

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Cave City, KY

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Lebanon, PA

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rest area on the Music Highway outside Nashville

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Muscle Shoals, AL

the caves of kentucky

posted by GHB

This is a photo PHB took of us 250 feet underground in amazing Mammoth Cave. We walked almost two miles underground but there are over 400 miles of this cave!

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I want to write more about Mammoth Caves because it was so cool. Right now we are posting from PHB’s phone while waiting for another cave tour of a different part.

from the top of the ferris wheel

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posted by GHB

Hershey Park sure does look exciting from way up high! Me and PHB went on a ride to look above Hershey park, the ferris wheel!!! This is a picture i took from almost the top of the ride. Sadly PHB’s fear of heights got the better of her and she mostly stared at the bottom of the car. LHB sat this one out viewing from the bottom. I thought it was awesome to see the park from above. Later in the ride all the lights turned on. Sadly the lights on the ferris wheel seemed to be broken and were pretty disappointing.

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PHB snapped this picture of a ride called the Flying Falcons, while we were riding.  The base turns around, the cars spin, all the groups of cars spin, and you go up and down the post. Just like the Comet, this is one of the rides that I had to coax LHB to go on. PHB calls me the Thrill Seeker.

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The third ride we went on was the Comet, a roller coaster that went on many steep hills. Like a lot of rides LHB had to be persuaded to get on. But after, she ended up liking 95% of them. The line was long but it was worth it — the coaster goes up then down a steep hill then loops around, goes up another BIG hill but not as steep as the first one, then it goes on a series of smaller hills that are really bumpy. It looped around, one more big hill, then takes you back. PHB luckily snapped this picture of us as we were going up one of the larger hills. We are in the 3rd row from the bottom!

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This is a picture of a ride called the Lightning Racers, from the top of the ferris wheel.  I went on this roller coaster 3 times, including once after dark, with the lights on! LHB went on it twice with me, both times during the day.  The cool thing about this ride is that there are two cars and two side by side tracks, like twins, ha ha! It’s basically a race between the two cars – one is red and one is green. The red one turns you on your side a lot and the green one has a lot more hills. In my opinion, the green one is programmed to win the race every time.

skeeballHershey Park was so awesome.  I’m glad I got to go there! On our way out of the park we picked up some skeeball prizes. LHB and I got small stuffed giraffes, and PHB got a stuffed Hershey Kiss!  After that we took the shuttle bus back to the Hershey Lodge and collapsed.

– GHB

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the legend of the B Bus

posted by LHB

On august eleventh 2013 the B Bus took a stop for Brunch on the first day of our road trip on our way to Hershey PA. That stop happened to be in a very historical and superstitious town – do you have an idea of what town it may have been? Well that stop was in the town of Sleepy Hollow right next to Tarrytown, on the Hudson River in New York. I bet you did not guess that huh?? Once we got there we ate brunch at a restaraunt called the Horseman. It’s slogan picture is the headless horseman carrying a dinner platter as shown below.

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After we ate lunch we drove up the road and walked around the Old Dutch Church Graveyard, the one in the story and where Washington Irving was buried. In fact there was a whole Irving plot and it was ginormous!! It was fenced in  though, and Washington Irving was at the center of the plot, so we could not get very close. After we found our way out of the cemetery, we walked over to the spot where the Headless Horseman’s bridge used to be. It did not get torn down but it got lost to time. The replacement they built sounds like horse hooves when driven on!!!

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After that we got back in the car and drove out of Sleepy Hollow, but this story shall be known forever as the legend of the B Bus.

posted by  LHB      ^_^

what happened to roadtripping?

IMG_4833We started blogging almost a year ago, mainly to chronicle our road trips.  Like many blogs, of course, the B Bus has evolved to incorporate other subjects and images that inspire or intrigue us.  And we haven’t always stopped by the side of the road long enough to post about all of the places we’ve been this summer — in fact, there have been a couple of mini road trips.

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I drove up to Saco, Maine and back twice to take the girls to camp and pick them up. Not a lot of sightseeing, but we are fans of the moose at the Kennebunk rest stop.

IMG_0135We also snuck in a lightning round “daycation” on the Cape, in place of our usual week or so in Brewster at the home of good friends M & J.

IMG_0141Midweek traffic was not an issue, and we had enough time in one day for walking the flats, catching hermit crabs, ice cream at the Brewster General Store, rope swing, cranberry bog, grilled burgers, and sunset over Cape Cod Bay.  It really did feel like a mini-vacation.

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We’ve also had short journeys to towns all over Middlesex and Essex Counties, courtesy of GHB’s softball team, the Arlington Avengers.

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And we kicked off the 10th Birthday weekend last Friday with a trip to Fenway! Big fun to see a game with good friends, and soak up the scene on Yawkey Way on a perfect summer night. The Green Monster was looming and the Sox lost but it was OK.

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So the B Bus has been getting around.  Plus, we’ve been diligently going to work and/or attending Creative Arts, the fabulous theater camp at Tufts  (as the case may be).  But we’ve also spent a lot of time planning for the main event – the 2013 Big August Birthday Roadtrip.  Some of us are turning 10 this month, and some of us are celebrating a different decade…. Ahem. ‘Nuff said.  We leave tomorrow! I am supposed to be packing right now! We will be keeping you posted. And we’re thrilled to be back to blogging a roadtrip.

– PHB