Stay at Home Survival Bundle

Vacation Ideas for after Coronavirus is Over

The Day after Coronavirus Travel Bucket List 

As an introvert I am actually loving the stay at home restrictions. I have worked on my blog, starting stretching every morning, slept in, binged all of Star Trek Picard and all of Star Trek Discovery and we started working on a patio in the backyard. But with the Coronavirus or Covid-19 in full swing no one is going anywhere exciting. I love to travel and go to new places, so I have a few vacation ideas for after Coronavirus is over.

All of my vacation ideas for after Coronavirus is over bucket list locations are located in the United States except the last one. I love to travel internationally and in the last two years we have been to Canada, Peru, France, Barcelona, Ireland, Scotland and England.  There are so many wonderful places to travel to internationally and domestically. I love the national parks in America and I love road trips and weird roadside attractions. So here is my current list of locations I would love to go to in the near future after the Coronavirus pandemic is over.

1. Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg is definitely a tourist town. It is located at the bottom of the Great Smoky Mountain. I recommend driving from North Carolina into Tennessee crossing the state line at the top of the mountain. The drive through the park is very nice and a beautiful way to get to Gatlinburg.

We have been here before and I definitely want to go back. 

Gatlinburg is full of shops and moonshine. We had a blast walking up and down the main street getting free moonshine samples. We were able to get a hotel just 2 street over from the main street which was great for all those moonshine samples that added up. If you are really feeling buzzed from the moonshine samples then head to Dick’s to get something to eat and to get picked on by your waiter. Normally I would have hated a place like this but due to the moonshine it was actually fun. 

I would love to go back here and stay in a cabin nearby. Along with the tourist area, shopping, and moonshine, there are also areas to go hiking. 

2. Pigeon Forge and Dollywood

 

When we went to Gatlinburg a few years ago, we didn’t have time to do anything in Pigeon Forge which is the next town over and just a short drive away. We only drove through on our way out. I would love to go to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. 

Again this is a popular tourist area but it still interests me. There are many activities for family and shows. I am interested in seeing the Hatfield and McCoy show and any other dinner and a show that looks interesting even if it is touristy or corny. 

Why Dollywood? I love theme parks/amusement parks. I love the rides and I love the shows. 

I was hoping that we could go to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood in May around Memorial day but that doesn’t seem like it will be happening. When we are able to do this trip it will definitely be a road trip from Pennsylvania. My husband enjoys driving and I enjoy the ride. I will normally bring 3-4 books to read for a trip like this, a notebook and sometimes a knitting project. 

 

3. Disney Hollywood Studios

 

Disney is closed. No one knows when it will reopen. But when it does I would like to go to Hollywood Studios. I was there once back when it was MGM Studios.

We are a family of two adults. We don’t have any kids and we don’t plan on having any kids. We are not that millennial couple that goes to Disney without kids every year that lady threw a fit about online. Instead we are one Millennial and one Gen Xer who love going on roller coasters and having fun. We do this on a budget because Disney is expensive, overpriced in my opinion.  That is why we only ever went once when I was a kid. As an adult I decided I wanted to make it back and go to all the parks. The only ones left to visit are Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. 

We don’t eat at any of the fancy restaurants, we don’t buy any expensive Disney brand products that we would never use again, we share meals and window shop. Something I have learned as a classy broke girl is that you can cut corners and still have a great time. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars in one week to have a good Disney or any other vacation. 

In typical classy broke girl fashion I am sure we will drive, stay at a cheap hotel overnight and then stay with friends once we get there. We will share our meals and snacks at the park and we won’t buy anything unnecessary to bring home. We will have a great time!

 

4. Outer Banks, NC

Outer Banks, North Carolina is one of my favorite places. I think it is my favorite beach spot. We always go in the off-season in September. The weather is still warm, the crowds are gone, the prices are cheaper and there is always the chance a hurricane will force you to evacuate. 

Outer Banks was always one of those places that I heard of other families going to for vacation. It was not something my family growing up did. Finally in my mid 20’s I got to go and I fell in love. 

This year we are planning on going for two weeks in September. I really hope that this happens and our trip doesn’t get cancelled due to the virus. 

The things I enjoy about going to Outer banks: The big house, everyone eating dinner together, sleeping in, sleeping on the beach, beach volleyball, playing in the waves, no crowds on the beach, no busy boardwalk, walking from the house to the beach each day, checking out the local shops, hanging out in the hot tub at the house, hanging out at the pool at the house and just having a good relaxing time. There are also lighthouses, wild horses, 4 wheel driving on the beach and sand dunes. 

Our last time at the Outer Banks, NC

 

 

5. A cruise anywhere

The current future of cruising is unknown with the pandemic in full swing. I really hope that cruising is still a possibility in the future and not overly expensive. We are all about finding great cheap deals when we cruise or do any other vacation. 

My husband and I love to cruise. We went on a double cruise for our honeymoon. Cruising is also one of those things that everyone else seemed to do but was not a reality for me for most of my life. Now I have been on enough I think I have lost count. 

We love to cruise because of the value, the destinations, the ship, the food and we find it fun and relaxing. We love sea days tanning and reading a book on the sun deck. 

We have cruised to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Alaska. We would love to cruise in the Mediterranean or do a world cruise. 

Icy Strait, Alaska 2019

Travel after the Pandemic

What will travel be like after the pandemic is over. We will have to wait and see. Hopefully all the locations above that I want to go to after the pandemic is over will still be a possibility including cruising. For now I am enjoying walks in my local area, sitting in the backyard with the my cats and binge watching TV shows and movies. Some day we will return to work, return to the grind and return to planning trips but today I am enjoying the slow pace that the stay at home restrictions have put on daily life and I am enjoying just relaxing.

What are your vacation ideas for after Coronavirus is over?

3 Things to Know for the First Time traveler

First Time Traveler Tips From Kristin

So you’re going on a trip? Are you leaving the country for the first time? Driving, Cruising, Flying?

Whatever vehicle of transportation you’ll be using for your first big trip it is an exciting one!

My very first experience traveling internationally was in 2008. I was 17 years old and getting ready to go on a cruise to Bermuda.

Things I didn’t have…  

  1. A Passport.
  2. Luggage
  3. A Clue

I was 17 years old at this point in time. I was traveling with my sister (Anita) yes, The Classy Broke girl herself.

Tip Number ONE

Get your PASSPORT!!

Regardless of where your home country may be, your passport is your ticket out.

Myself and my sister went to the post office to have our picture taken. We arrived at our appointment with our forms filled out and in hand to immediately mail.

Below, is a link to the 5 step process to obtain your passport. (If you are a US citizen.)

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/how-to-apply.html

  • Give yourself plenty of time before your trip to get your passport processed.
  • It can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months depending on the current state of processing.
  • YES! The cliche of terrible passport photos are a thing for a reason.  Don’t stress too hard if the photo isn’t your absolute best angle. On the same note however, It does stay with you for 10 years. I had my passport renewal photo retaken many times…. Chances are you won’t love it, but, if you can find one that you don’t utterly detest, you’re doing pretty good.

TIP NUMBER TWO

Luggage!

So, As I was saying my first big trip was on a cruise. I did not own any luggage besides a backpack.  Anita and I went to a discount store and purchased the largest hot pink duffel bag, that to this day I’ve ever seen.

For our next trip which was a three week trip to Europe when I was 20 we went to Kohl’s and bought complete luggage sets that were buy one get one free.  Some pieces of those sets we still have 10 years later. They were definitely not the most expensive or the best quality but they did the job and then some. 

For that Europe trip we were on a group tour so it wasn’t that difficult to have a lot of luggage. At the time it seemed like we needed a ton of luggage for those three weeks. I believe that we each brought the large suitcase and a medium sized duffel type bag. We did laundry in the sink of our hotel in Rome and hung the clothes in the room. 

Now though we have both transitioned to using smaller luggage or just carry on size luggage. When you go from a large suitcase that you has to be checked to just carry on luggage it can be scary. Will I have enough clothes and how will I fit everything in? But from experience traveling with just a carry on is so much better than a large suitcase. 

Check out Anita’s post about traveling around Europe with a budget friendly travel back pack here  http://www.theclassybrokegirls.com/ebag-weekender-backpack-review/ 

And this post about why a carry on only bag is better than a large suitcase

TIP NUMBER THREE

Get a Clue!

How do you go about getting a clue about travel. By reading blogs like this one. 

Here are more from The Classy Broke Girl to help you get some travel inspiration. 

http://www.theclassybrokegirls.com/ocean-city-md-vs-assateague-state-park/

http://www.theclassybrokegirls.com/harpers-ferry-and-maryland-trail-heights-trail/

http://www.theclassybrokegirls.com/mystic-connecticut-in-36-hours/

Look for travel resources on Pinterest and everyone’s favorite Google.

Here are The Classy Broke Girls’s travel boards on Pinterest to get you started.

https://www.pinterest.com/theclassybrokegirlgetsmarried/best-travel-locations/

https://www.pinterest.com/theclassybrokegirlgetsmarried/great-travel-products/

https://www.pinterest.com/theclassybrokegirlgetsmarried/best-places-to-travel-to-in-the-usa/

Find travel guru’s to follow on Instagram . I am not a guru but here is my travel page on Instagram @kris10travel to give you some travel wanderlust

The more you read about travel the less scary it will be. But you can read, read and read but eventually you will need to take the leap and go for it. 

So get your passport, some luggage (smaller is actually better) and get a clue by continuing to do research and you will be ready to travel in no time. 

Budget Friendly Travel Back Pack

 

     Europe with a Budget Friendly Travel Back Pack

I searched high and low for a travel back pack that meet various requirement for me. One it had to meet 3 different airlines carry on sizing requirements. Two it had to fit almost 3 weeks of clothes ( I did a little bit of laundry but really didn’t need to). Three it had to be inexpensive. Some bags I saw were hundred of dollars. So what was this budget friendly travel back pack that I found?

The EBag Weekender Back Pack. It made it through 17 days, 11 Airbnb locations, 6 flights, 5 countries, 3 major cities taking public transportation with the bag, 2 rental cars and 1 cross country train ride.  

Th back pack was my carry on bag for this multi-country trip. It performed very well and I would recommend. I will be using again and again and wish that I had known about this bag sooner.

Pros

Good Quality

Lots of pockets

expandable zipper

water bottle holder

laptop slot

compression straps

22x19x9 means it fits all carry on requirements  for the overhead bin

Adjustable straps

Side strap included

Can hold a lot of stuff

Easy to go up and down stairs and escalators

9 Colors to choose from

Comes in a Junior size- 19 inches high

Cons

Can get quite heavy- mine weighed in at almost 22 pounds

Might not stay sitting up depending on how much you stuff into it

Difficult to maneuver with on a crowed train

My personal Review

The weekender bag was able to fit a ton of clothes. I packed 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of yoga pants, sneakers, Croc flats, 1 bra, socks, underwear, reusable menstrual pads, 7 long sleeve shirts, hair brush, toiletries bag, deodorant, plug converter, 11 inch laptop, soap in a plastic container and 2 vitamin bottles and 1 small backpack packed inside the large backpack. I feel that it was able to hold just as much as a regular carry on bag with wheels.

Awesome Features

The front pocket is very deep. This made it so that I was able to put my soap and my deodorant all the way down to the bottle of the bag. The front pocket were very convenient for getting the toiletry bag out when going through security. I  also found the back laptop section to be a wonderful addition for storing my laptop. That section sits against your back when the bag is on giving you peace of mind about no one being able to access it. It is quite deep but there is a pocket that helps to make it so your laptop does not slide all the way down.

There are 2 straps on the inside to help compress down your clothes. On the outside of the bag there are 4 more compression straps, 2 on each side that really help to compress the bag.In addition, the expander zipper proved to be a very useful feature. I would open the expander zipper to get all my stuff inside the bag and then use the outer compression straps to compress the bag. The compression straps made it so the bag did not look so large.

Sizing

I did not have any issues with the size of the bag. We flew 3 different airlines, United, Easy Jet and Ryanair. United allows one carry on and one personal item. It was on these flights that I used a small backpack as the personal item.  On the Easy Jet flights, which we had 3 of, I had to fit everything in only 1 carry on bag. I was able to do this each time and did not have any problems with the size of the bag.

I used the sizer to double check and it fit with a little pushing. This is one of the reason I wanted a soft sided bag with no wheels or handle.  When we took the Ryanair flight, we paid to check the carry on bags. Ryanair has much smaller carry on allowances and it was easier to check the bag instead of trying to find one that fit their allowance.

Was it hard to carry around?

The E Bag Weekender was great for going up and down all the stairs we encountered. I did not have to lift my bag up to go up the stairs. If I was standing in a line for a long time I would put the bag on the floor. On the bus and the public trains I would need to take the bag off and put it on my lap or on the floor if there was room.

There was one instance in London between landing and getting the train to Paris that I walked quite far around London for some sightseeing with the backpack. This was the only time that I wished that my bag had wheels. Lather though, I  was glad my bag was on my back when we left very early in the morning for the airport and my husband’s rolling bag was very loud.

Price

“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through the links below”

Motherlode Weekender

$149.99 https://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/mother-lode-tls-weekender-convertible/143101?productid=10362789

Look out for promotions and sales on the website. As of writing this they are offering a discount code that brings the bag down to $89.99.

Junior Weekender

$139.99 https://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/tls-mother-lode-weekender-convertible-junior/241465?productid=10395044

Concluding Thoughts

I really like this bag and would recommend it and I am glad I used this bag on our cross county Europe trip. Originally I thought that I would have to spend a lot to get a travel back pack that would work. But with a little research I found what I think is a great budget friendly travel back pack. 

An even Cheaper Option?

There is one other option that is even more budget friendly. This bag seems like good quality and fits a ton of stuff. It does not open up like a suit case rather it is a backpacking camping/ hiking backpack but seems to have good back and shoulder support that would make carrying it for a long time easier than the E Bag. I do not believe this bag would fit carry on sizing ( I could be wrong) and I have not tested it out it like I did with the E Bag. I am currently using this backpack as my 3 day Emergency Go Bag.

Why you might want to consider it…. It is only about $30. Wait What! A great bag for only about $30. Yes!

I didn’t think this bag would be great quality based on the price when other bags like this sell for way more. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised in how nice it was. Please remember I have not heavily tested it yet but it is currently packed full and it seems to be really good and perfect for what I am currently using it for. I think it would be a really good hiking back pack also.

The link for that bag is below if you want to check it out. For about $30 you don’t have much to lose.

https://www.privacypolicyonline.com/live.php?token=qngz5YmYoeQMm5LJGTT6EjC3AD4pFGlI

 

Ocean City MD vs Assateague State Park

Ocean City Maryland

With the weather still humid in late August we headed down to Ocean city Maryland for a midweek get away.

There are a few things I liked about Ocean City Maryland as compared to the New Jersey Beaches we normally go to. Although New Jersey beaches are closer to where we live in Pennsylvania, they all charge per person to get on the beach and in my personal experience I have found the beaches to be a bit on the dirty side. I loved Rohobeth beach in Delaware for it’s cute town, interesting shops and no fee to get on the beach. For Rohobeth there is paid street parking or there is parking in a lot about 10 minutes away that has a bus that came to drop you off at the beach. It was very convenient. At all the Jersey beaches I have been to there is either street parking, some being free but most being paid or a paid parking lot.

Ocean City, Maryland does not charge to get on the beach but there is a charge for parking if you are not staying in a hotel with free parking. We debated on staying farther away in a cheaper hotel and driving into the beach or staying within walking distance of the beach but paying more. We were happy with our decision to stay about 3 blocks from the beach at the Ocean Lodge. It has a small parking lot for their guests and we saved by not having to pay for parking. There is paid parking near the beach entrances for $3.00 an hour. This means a full day at the beach  would cost about $20 in parking. There are plenty of hotel options for all budgets. Our room was tiny but the bed was comfortable and had air conditioning. It was really nice to be be able to go back to the hotel, shower and change and then go back to the boardwalk for dinner.

The boardwalk has many food options, an arcade and ride area and various shops. The one thing I did notice was that most of the shops were a lot alike, selling the same stuff. In this respect I did miss Rohobeth  or Cape May and their more unique shops but it was still enjoyable to walk up and down the boardwalk at night.

Assateague State Park

Captain Jack Sparrow made an appearance on the boardwalk
The boardwalk at Ocean City has a variety of performers at night.

After two days and nights at Ocean City Maryland we headed over to Assateague State Park for our last day before drving home. From 8th Ave where our hotel was located to Assateague was only 15 mins. We stopped at the visitor center to learn about the islands of Assateague and Chincoteague. They have a nice video that explains a lot about the island and the horses.

There are two options for Assateague Island. The State park which is were we went or the Assateague Island National Seashore. The state park has a parking lot right at the beach entrance, with showers and changing stalls and a tiny food grill. It cost us $6.00 per person to go to the Assateague State park but we felt it was well worth it for the wild horsed on the beach.

We did not use the bathrooms or shower facilities so I don’t know how they were and the grill was understaffed at the end of the season so we just ate on the ride home.What made Assategue State Park so enjoyable were the wild horses that we saw. Within minutes of arriving 3 horses came running on to the beach. They choose to hang out not far from where we set our chairs up. Then when we went in the water the horses also decided that they wanted to cool off in the ocean also. The one State worker doing a survey told us later that it was actually rare to see the horses in the ocean, but when it is very hot they will go in to cool off. The 3 horses hung out in the ocean for about an hour before joining a few more horses that came along and then running off. Not long after that a huge band of horses, we counted 18, came strolling down the beach. They didn’t stay as long the first 3 horses did but it was very interesting to see that many wild horses on the beach doing their thing.

I really enjoyed all of our days at the beach whether they were at Ocean City Maryland or Asseteague. Both have different things that one may like or dislike.

Ocean City, Maryland pros: Lots of hotels, boardwalk, various food options, liquor stores, rides and games, bike rentals, trolley ride, can go on beach after dark and sun umbrella rentals.

Ocean City, Mayland cons: paid street parking if not staying in a hotel that has parking, many of the shops were the same and geared towards teens and high prices.

Asseteague State Park Pros: no boardwalk, looks more like Outer Banks, Wild horses, Visitor Center, showers and bathroom, Grill, parking lot, less crowed, and beach camping.

Assetegaue State Park Cons: Only one food option, have to be aware of horses and stay a bus length away, can’t have open food, no liquor and only one small gift shop.

Depending on what your looking for in your beach day or days will determine which option you would find more enjoyable. There is also the option of the Assategue Island National Seashore which is a $10-$20 fee per vehicle. And a permit can be acquired to drive on the beach with 4 wheel drive for a a fee. In the National Seashore side there are also walking trails.

 

Harpers Ferry and Maryland Trail Heights Trail

At the end of June which happened to be one of the hottest weekend this summer we traveled to West Virginia to Harpers Ferry.

What is Harpers Ferry?

Harpers Ferry is a small town in West Virginia that is also a national park. Only the lower town is part of the National Park system and the rest of the town is considered an historic district. As shown in the picture taken form Maryland heights outlook in Maryland, Harpers Ferry is in between the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers.

This is also where three state met; Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It is a national park and best known because of it’s importance in the civil war. In 1859 John Brown raided the armory in the town.

The Appalachian trail also runs through the town of Harpers Ferry. The Appalachian trail conservatory is located here and it is considered the “middle” of the trail between Georgia and Maine. This is only the psychological midpoint, the physical midpoint in farther north in Pennsylvania.

 

Highlights of Harpers Ferry

 

Thomas Jefferson October 25, 1783 visits while passing through to Philadelphia. He views the Potomac from a rock that is now named the Jefferson Rock. He is quoted to have said  “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”  

A side note is that the rock is unstable and dangerous to stand on and the National Park Service has a sign posted not to climb or stand on the rock and per the national park service website it is prohibited.

https://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/historyculture/jefferson-rock.htm

Rules / Regulations

Please note the following regarding your safety and the protection of Jefferson Rock as a cultural resource:

  • Jefferson Rock is unstable.
  • Walking on, climbing, ascending, descending, or traversing Jefferson Rock or its supporting base rock is prohibited.

 

To my dismay, one couple blatantly violated this rule, being disrespectful tourist. The first picture on the left shows the sign saying that climbing on and standing on the rock is not allowed and is dangerous. The picture next to it shows the couple who disregarded this sign and the rules. I was a distance away when taking this picture but you can see the man on the top taking a picture and the woman also right up there also.

 

This is how Jefferson Rock is supposed to be experienced. From below and by following the rules to not climb on the rock which has had to be reinforced over the years.

 

George Washington– He proposed that Harpers Ferry be the sight for a new US armory and arsenal. in 1796 land was purchased and construction began in 1799.

John Brown Raid– October 16 1859, abolitionist led a group in a raid on the arsenal. Brown intended on capturing the weapons to start a slave uprising throughout the south. The residents in nearby Charles town were alerted to the situation and forced Brown and his men into an engine house adjacent to the armory. He was tried for treason in Charles town but his raid caught the attention of others.

Civil War-  Harpers Ferry located on the railroad at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, had both Union and Confederate troops that frequented it. It changed hands 8 times in 4 years, between 1861 to 1865. For those interested in Civil War battles and history they will find this place very interesting The Battle of Harpers Ferry and Battle of Antietam both occurred close by. On the Maryland Heights trail there is an information board about when the confederate army marched on the mountain to surround the town. You can walk the trail yourself, which leads to a great overlook of the town and rivers below.

 

What to do in Harpers Ferry

Hike the Maryland Heights trail:
This trail starts from Harpers Ferry Street across from the town. There is a little bit of parking on the side of the road but this was full before 9 am on the Saturday we were there. There is also a little parking in the lower town  near the train station but on busy days you will want to park at the Visitor Center and take the shuttle down to the lower town. It cost $1o to park and the shuttles run until 6:30 in the summer. From The shuttle drop off just walk straight through town over to the walking bridge that runs along the rail road tracks over the river. Then walk to the left down the C&O Canal Towpath until you come to another much tinier bridge to get up to the street where the small pull off parking is near the trail head.
The trail has two options. Both start at the street, the shorter option being about 4.5 miles to the outlook  and back according to the NPS and 6.5 miles to take the longer trail after the outlook to the Stone Fort. It is steep at some points, has a decent amount of shade and takes about 2-3 hours to do round trip.
On a nice day, we were there when it was in the high 90’s  and humid and there was still a lot of people, you will not be alone on the trail. After ascending upwards for about 2 miles you will finally come to some switch backs that lead down hill to the outlook. Once at the outlook it is time to climb down some step rocks and find a place to enjoy the view in between the people.

My Favorite things in the Lower Town

The shops:

My favorite was the old time candy store- Cool Confectionaries
We bought the 1700’s candy package with 10 candies that were made in the 1700’s.

There are also a bunch of cute shops like

Tenfold Fair Trade Collection

The Village Shop at Harpers Ferry

The Vintage Lady

There is also a section of the old town that has an old Dry Goods shops, an old men’s clothing store and old houses with information about who used to live there and about how the town was laid out. To get to Jefferson’s rock you have to climb up some steep and a bit slippery steps past an old church and then continue past the church to the rock. From there you can keep going to another old house and even on to the Appalachian Trail Conservatory.

 

River & Trail White Water Tubing:

Whitewater Rafting, Tubing, Ziplining Tours & More

There are a few different companies that do River tubing, kayaking and other activities. We did a 4-5 hour guided whitewater tubing trip on the Antietam Creek which included the transportation to the creek and back and lunch through River and Trail. They also do regular white water rafting, tubing on the Potomac and Shenandoah, kayaking, zip lining and riverside camping.

We choose the whitewater tubing and really enjoyed it. We were met by one of the guides at the parking lot and everyone loaded into the buses to be transported to the river. Once at the river we received our life vest and picked up our tubes. There were 3 guides in canoes who not only guided us along the river but carried the food and set up the picnic lunch. I enjoyed this tubing experience. The rapids were considered class 1 so they were not too much for the tubes. The Antietam Creek is windy so there are points where you can’t see what is coming around the next turn, so having the guides let us know when we needed to stay to the left or to the right really helped. It was important to pay attention while floating on you tube to not hit some of the rocks and trees in the creeks. We had an enjoyable experience and would recommend to go tubing one of the rivers or creeks on a hot day like we did.

 

Bloomery Distillery

 

 

The Bloomery Distillery in Charlestown, WV is not far from Harpers Ferry. It was interesting because the Distillery is located down a long gravel driveway. At the end of the drive way is a restored yellow barn where they hold the free tastings, have the bar and local music on Friday and Saturday nights. There is an outside bar section where the music is  and an area that looked like they use it for campfires.

When we arrived on Friday night it was not too crowed. We enjoyed our tasting with 4 other people and learned a lot about the distillery. We ended buying the Ginger, Saffron Rose and the Black Walnut flavors. They each came with drink recipes cards for each flavor and some flavors can be bought in a few select states.

 

Other things to do that we didn’t do

 

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

20 miles of National Park trails

Harpers Ferry Adventure Center- zip lining, biking, tubing, rafting, kayaking, camping along river, areal climbing
John Brown Wax Museum
Harpers Ferry Adventure Park- Tree forest challenge course
Toy Train Museum

Summary

There are quite a few things to do in and near Harpers Ferry, WV. For those interested int he Civil War or History in general they will find Harpers Ferry National Park and the John Brown Wax Museum interesting. For those who like to shop and eat, there are some cute shops in the Lower town of Harpers Ferry. There is also a lot of outdoor activities to do such as kayaking, tubing, rafting, hiking, zip lining, tree course and camping. Really there is something for everyone in the family to make it an enjoyable trip.

 

 

Mystic Connecticut in 36 Hours

Mystic Connecticut in 36 hours

It was only a four hour drive from Pennsylvania to Connecticut according to my phone so we made the decision on a Monday night, I did a quick google search of what to do in Connecticut and we settled on Mystic Connecticut. We left Tuesday afternoon about 4 pm and arrived in Groton, CT about 9:30 pm. We hit traffic because I had the brilliant idea to use the Tom Tom GPS and not Google Maps on my phone which meant it lead us right through New York City in the middle of rush hour traffic.  While we were driving I looked up hotels on our favorite website to book hotels www.hotwire.com

Where to Stay

After some debating on if we should risk taking the cheapest hotel option at $25 a night and some apprehension on my side, it was decided to take the chance. This was a last minute, spontaneous trip after all and we are not fancy people. Coworkers constantly ask me how we go on so many trips and vacations. The answer; we never spend a lot on where we stay whether it be a hotel or a campground or at a friends house. We would rather save on where we sleep since we normally spend most of the day out exploring anyway and aren’t really at the hotel very long. The least we have ever spend besides free by staying with friends was $10 on a campground in Oklahoma.

Hotwire gave us a hotel called the Gold Inn and Suites in Groton, CT about 15 minutes from Mystic Connecticut. When we arrived it didn’t look terrible from the outside. Was it the Hilton down the street, not even close but it was doable. There was a fridge, microwave and a large bathroom, old but clean. My husband was very pleased with the $25 hotel room.

A Very Full Day in Mystic Connecticut

In the morning I did a quick search of good places to go for breakfast and choose a cute little place called Carson’s store.

Carson’s Store

43 Main St, Groton, CT 06340

7:30 am-2 pm

Carson’s Store was an adorable little breakfast and lunch spot. They also serve ice cream and have some merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts and wooden signs. It looks like you have stepped into the 50’s with it’s black and white checkered floors. I ordered the balsamic spinach egg white omelette with home fries. It was overflowing with spinach and very delicious. My husband ordered what he always orders, 3 eggs over easy with white bread.  We had a nice breakfast and then made our way over to the Mystic Seaport Museum.

Mystic Seaport Museum

Mayflower II being worked on in the Shipyard
Viking Ship visiting form Norway
Salted Fish drying out in the sun

Charles Morgan Ship
1800’s Marine time town

The Mystic Seaport Museum was very interesting. I do recommend buying your ticket online the day before for $26 per person. You will save $3 over the ticket price at the door. The seaport includes an active shipyard where they rebuild/ fix up old ships. Right now through 2019 they are working on the Mayflower II which is replica of the Mayflower. Mayflower II was built in the 1940’s. There are videos with more information about the Mayflower II and how they strive to use the old techniques of wooden ship building. We learned how they restore old ships and also how the old ships were originally made.

There was a 25 minute boat ride on the Liberty for $4 each that we decided would be fun to take. We were the only ones on the boat. The driver told us more information on some of the ships docked at the Seaport, also about the sailing program that the Seaport runs for students ages 10-15 years old. We also learned about the Charles Morgan and the Joseph Conrad Ships. The Joseph Conrad is used to bunk the sailing students. After our boat tour, we continued walking and went aboard both these ships. The Morgan allows you to go underneath and see the Captains quarters along with all the sleeping bunks. It was interesting to find out how low the deck was, I am only 5’4 and had to duck down most of the time we were down there.

There are also exhibits on how they made rope, the whaling industry and about Vikings.  The village area was one of my favorite parts. There was a blacksmith, a copper, a chemist in the pharmacy, an old general store, an old printing press and newspaper along with houses from the 1800’s. The employees and volunteers that work in these areas provide a lot of great information about how things were done in the past.

Old Mystic Village

We spend about 5 hours at the Seaport Museum before heading 4 minutes down the street to the Olde Mystic Village Shops. There are quite a few shops, a movie theater and a few eating places. We enjoyed the chocolate covered orange peels form Munson’s Chocolate.

Food

At this point I was ready for some real food though. Being in Mystic, CT we had to try the iconic Mystic Pizza located in downtown Mystic. After some research I found out that there are now two locations. The original located in Mystic and a second location called Mystic Pizza II located in Stonington that was opened after the movie Mystic Pizza was a hit. It was the original that inspired the movie but was not used to film because it was too small. They built an exact replica to film in not far from the real location.

Mystic Pizza

The current Mystic Pizza has been remodeled from the 80’s and has expanded into the adjoining space. There was no wait when we went at about 6 pm on a Wednesday night. We were seated upstairs right next to the window with a nice view of the sign. We ordered calamari and the House Special. The House Special had pepperoni, sausage and peppers on it. What I found interesting was that the toppings were underneath the cheese instead of on top of the cheese. The pizza was good. It was hard to taste the “special sauce” on this pizza, maybe if we had gotten a regular cheese pizza but it was good. I don’t know if the toppings underneath the cheese is a New England thing or a Mystic Pizza thing. We got a box for the remainder of the pizza we couldn’t finish to heat up in the microwave in our $25 hotel room. Again my husband was happy with that choice.

Down Town Mystic

Downtown Mystic has street parking or some paid parking just around the corner. We used one of the paid parking lots. After dinner we walked in and out of the shops in town. It is a very cute seaside town. From Mystic Pizza you can see the drawbridge that goes up every hour at about 40 minutes after the hour in the summer. Right near the drawbridge is an ice cream place called Drawbridge Ice Cream. It was not very warm at this point in the evening but we stopped to get some ice cream anyway before walking across the bridge to check out the other side of town.

Drawbridge Ice Cream

The drawbridge

Esker Beach

There was not much time to check out Connecticut beaches so we just headed to a small one on the way back to the hotel. Esker Beach is a very tiny beach with no lifeguard. The tide was low when he arrived and the sun was setting. We only hung out there for a little bit. If we had another day or two I would have liked to go to some of the other beaches close by.

 

One Last Stop

On Thursday morning it was time to head back home. But first we choose one last place to eat. We went back to Olde Mystic Village shops to a place called Blue Squid. They serve breakfast, lunch and are a bakery. Again I was happy with my breakfast, this time getting a breakfast sandwich and my husband ordering his usual breakfast where ever we go.

Blue Squid

Summary

The things we did not do while in Mystic were going to the Mystic Aquarium, taking any of the longer boat tours, or going to any of the other beaches near by. Overall our 36 hours in Mystic, CT and the close surrounding area was very enjoyable. I really liked the small seaside town of Mystic and enjoyed the scenery. If you are trying to think of where to go in New England I would definitely recommend checking out Mystic.

 

Cheap and classy camping with the hubby

Camping As a Couple

We have been married for five months. He thought it was six and I came home to my favorite flowers, a card and a gift for camping…… A go girl.  If your wondering what a go girl is, it is a funnel type thing to allow us girls to pee standing up.

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Our two night camping trip cost about $100 if you don’t include the mine tour and steam train ride and dinner we did on the way home. We stayed at locust lane state park in Pennsylvania about an hour from where we live. He already had a ten, a little two person dome tent. We were hoping to use my parents old ten person tent but when we opened it up there were no poles so that plan didn’t work out. A few weeks before our camping trip we put the tent up in the yard and blew up a air mattress. The Queen size air mattress fit with a little room to spare on the sides to put our clothes bags and toiletries.

 

Cost

Camp ground site- $25 a night with electric hook up

Food and supplies-we spent about $100 but we bought too much food for two  people for two days so our food cost was about $50. We also picked up a few mini flashlights for $1 each, fire starter, citronella candles, sunblock and bug spray. 

The husband also got a new bike at Walmart but that doesn’t really go into the camping cost. His old bike he had for 30 hard, yes 30 years, its older than me, broke about a month ago so it was time for a replacement. The bike was $79.

Fire wood- $0

Our friend has a ton of wood in his back yard and cut some up for it and we picked it up the day we left. We figured it was about $50 of wood. We did get him a gift at the yeungling factory gift shop in Pottsville PA, the tour is free and includes two beer samples.

Ice- $4 at the camp store in the park

We cooked over the fire, I made burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, asparagus, eggs, bacon and pancakes and of course smores. We played board games, talked, rode our bikes around, hiked and went to the beach area, her slept and I read a book.

We had a great time and didn’t spend a ton.

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