Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

The Beautiful Town of Duxbury MA

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I’m still blogging about my wonderful trip back east with my sweet Mom. The first day driving down to Cape Cod we found a quaint town called Duxbury in Massachusetts. If you’re in the area (note the map below) this is a must see town. I recommend visiting the Harbor area and a bakery called French Memories. The food was fabulous and one of our favorite places to eat! Here’s the harbor….

And photos from the French Memories bakery!

Hugs from Photogirl and Mom!!!! XOXOXOXO

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We’re off to Martha’s Vineyard!

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Located off the coast of Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to visit. Noted as a New England summer colony, it encompasses quaint harbor towns, five lighthouses, sandy beaches and farmland.

I first visited the island with my sister and her daughter who was 6 months old at the time. To give you a perspective of how long ago that was, she just turned 21. This time I went with my Mom as part of our mother / daughter east coast adventure. So how do you get there? Either by ferry or air…we opted for the ferry ride. Let’s take a look at our adventure together!

If you plan a trip you’ll want to make sure you get ferry reservations. The above photo is from our car. When you drive on you’re packed in like sardines. I have no idea how the guys do it. Once you park, you make your way up a flight of stairs and there is an area where you can sit. It was cold and windy when we went so we sat inside. Otherwise, you can get a chair and enjoy the sun sea! Link to make reservations: https://www.steamshipauthority.com/

Above is my sweet Mom passing the time on the ferry. If I had been a really good daughter I would have packed food and drink. The Steamship Authority leaves from Woods Hole and arrives in either Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs. It takes about 45 minutes, the ride is really fast. You can take your car and I highly recommend you do. There are so many places to go and you’re limited if you don’t have wheels. When the wheels of our car made contact with the island we headed to Edgartown, which was once a whaling port with historic houses, restaurants, shops and even an classic snack shack. Here’s a map from Wikipedia so you can see the main towns on the island.

Edgartown also has one of my favorite places to stay, which my sister and I found years ago, called the Harbor View Hotel.

When you arrive you’ll first see a large wrap around porch where you can sip wine and look out over a beautiful walkway which will take you to the Edgartown lighthouse. Before I show you some photos of the light house let me share some historic photos that will take you back over 100 years.

As you can see, the hotel has kept it’s charm. Below you can see the historic hotel just before sunset. If you walk around the back you’ll find a lovely pool area along with beautiful walking paths to additional rooms.

The rooms are lovely and with a recent remodel the bathrooms are the best! Some with views of the ocean, others with views of the pool area and gardens. Below is a view from our bathroom if you can believe that! I checked outside and had my Mom stand in the bathroom clothed of course and I couldn’t see in. Feel free to close the blinds, I just wanted you to know I did the “test”.

Room service is available if you want to relax in your room and enjoy the view!

Let’s take a look at the island. Again, I recommend to bring a car as it gives you a lot more flexibility to see the sights. A few spots you should visit include the following. Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury. That’s Mom sitting on the owner’s lap. The store is fabulous with incredible finds.

Morning Glory Farm on the outskirts of Edgartown is fabulous!

There are so many cool places to see on the island. The Grey Barn and Farm was wonderful!

The Behind the Bookstore was such a beautiful restaurant where you can sit under the trees, hidden away from the world!

The Atlantic had THE BEST MUSSELS!!!!

Mom with her absolute favorite…a root beer float! Even better when you can eat it by the water.

Let’s go back to the hotel and take a walk to the Edgartown lighthouse. There are multiple paths that take you down. They all converge onto one path that takes you by the water.

I’d like to thank Elizabeth Rothwell, Chris Bird and the amazing team at the Harbor View hotel for the lovely stay. The service is amazing and you’ll feel like you never want to leave. And all the wonderful people on the island. Everyone was so nice. On behalf of my Mom and me we want you to know how much we appreciated everything! Photogirl and Mom 🙂 XO

Want more on Martha’s Vineyard? Don’t stop now, click on the links below!

Getting to Martha’s Vineyard: https://photogirltravels.com/2014/05/19/7243/

Sunrise walk on the Vineyard:  https://photogirltravels.com/2014/05/22/sunrise-walk-on-the-vineyard/

Menemsha Fish Market Lobster Lunch:  https://photogirltravels.com/2014/05/20/menemsha-fish-market-lobster-lunch/

Breakfast among the flowers:  https://photogirltravels.com/2014/05/20/breakfast-at-among-the-flowers/

Feeling the love expresso love coffee:  https://photogirltravels.com/2014/05/21/feelingthelove-espresso-love-coffee/

Nashaquita Pond:  https://photogirltravels.com/2014/05/19/nashaquita-pond-on-marthas-vineyard/

All photos © Copyright 2019 Shelley D Spray.  All rights reserved.

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East Coast Adventure w Mom Riding Shotgun! Ready…set…

How long has it been since you’ve taken a road trip? Hit the back roads, your “out of office” prominently noted on your emails and your phone on silent. Just you, the sun at your back and a bag of Cheetos by your side. And if you’re really luck you have your Mom riding shot gun, buckled in and ready for an adventure.

About two weeks ago the start of our mother/daughter east coast adventure began! This kicks off a series of blogs that will share our adventures.  The good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll share where we went, stayed and ate, along with some the history about the places we visited.

But first, I’d like to introduce you to my Mom!  This beautiful woman is full of adventure.  She’s a great traveler because she always seems to see the best in any situation.  You can travel without reservations, which we’ve done many times, and she never gets worried and half the time is the reason we find an amazing place to stay.

OVERVIEW OF OUR TRIP

If you have a week and want to travel down the coast of Massachusetts, visit the Cape, Vineyard and Connecticut then this is the trip for you. The blue triangles note where we stayed. The dots are additional points of interest. I’ll be posting blogs on each location so circle back or follow my blog to be one of the first to see them.

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HOTELS AND LOCATIONS

Hull, MA: Nantasket Beach Resort, 45 Hull Shore Dr, Hull, MA 02045, 781.925.4500

Hull is a bit of a “spring break” town and we didn’t really enjoy the town after dark. There were a lot of motorcycles, loud music and the one restaurant that we would have eaten in which seemed really nice (Jake’s Seafood Restaurant) was packed.  The hotel was nice and if you need a place to stay in this town I would recommend it. The people were nice and the rooms were clean with nice views of the ocean. For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!) 

Chatham, MA: Chatham Bars Inn297 Shore Rd, Chatham, MA 02633, 800.527.4884

I had never stayed here and we both loved this hotel and it’s location.  Exquisitely decorated it was a delight. The food was incredible, the rooms lovely and the service was great.  It’s walking distance from downtown but removed from the shops and restaurants that are crowded with tourists. You can stroll along the beach at sunset with a chilled glass of wine. For more about this part of my trip click here: https://photogirltravels.com/2019/06/10/chathams-bar-inn-on-the-cape/

Martha’s Vineyard: Harbor View Inn, 8016, 131 N Water St, Edgartown, MA 02539, 508.939.3150  I have stayed in this beautiful hotel many times and it’s always been one of my favorites.  Located in the upscale part of the vineyard in the quaint town of Edgartown, you’ll find this hotel out by the lighthouse. The large wrap around pouch is a charming place to eat appetizers, sip a local beer and play cards. The service is amazing and they take care of you. For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!) 

Stonington, CT: The Inn at Stonington: 60 Water St, Stonington, CT 06378, 860.535.2000 This was one of the nights when we didn’t have reservations. I had read about this hotel and had made a note of it on my map.  After we toured the Breakers Hotel in Newport Rhode Island, we called The Inn and Stonington and amazingly enough they had a room!  It was beautiful, the town was lovely and we absolutely felt blessed to find this charming inn. We were greeted and felt like we were home and among good friends. They serve wine and cheese in the evenings and you can sit on the deck and watch the boats in the harbor. For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!) 

Old Saybrook, CT: Saybrook Point Inn & Spa: 2 Bridge St, Old Saybrook, CT 06475, 860.395.2000 Truly this was one of the best hotels we’ve ever stayed in. The service was impeccable and John, the bellman, was a treat!  The room was luxurious with a view of the harbor.  You don’t need to go anywhere when you stay here. You can see the harbor, eat at the restaurant and just enjoy the property.  This is a jewel and a beautiful place to stay! For more about this part of my trip click here: https://photogirltravels.com/2019/06/18/escape-to-one-of-the-oldest-towns-in-connecticut-and-stay-at-the-exquisite-saybrook-point-inn-marina-spa/

Other blogs included in this trip include:

Plymouth, MA: South of Boston, Plymouth is the site of the first Pilgrim settlement, founded in 1620. Plymouth Rock, a boulder in Pilgrim Memorial State Park, marks the place where settlers are thought to have landed on shore. The Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, is usually anchored at the park. For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!)

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Duxbury, MA: Duxbury is a historic seaside town in Plymouth County. The highlight of this beautiful town is the French Memories bakery which we loved.  459 Washington St, Duxbury, MA 02331.  For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!)

The Breakers, Mansion in Newport Rhode Island: The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, United States. The building became a National Historic Landmark in 1994 and is a gorgeous home to tour! For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!)

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Concord, MA: Hotel: Concord’s Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Square, Concord, MA 01742 (978) 369-9200 Built in 1716, this beautiful historic inn played a key role that lead to the birth a new nation.  It’s also listed by the Historic Inns of America as one of the top 25 most haunted historic hotels!  The town of Concord is located northwest of Boston, Massachusetts, and is known for the American Revolutionary War sites in Minute Man National Historical Park. A key battle took place at the North Bridge and is commemorated by Daniel Chester French’s Minute Man statue. In the 1800s, Transcendentalist poet Ralph Waldo Emerson drafted his essay “Nature” at the Old Manse. He and writer Henry David Thoreau also frequented Walden Pond. For more about this part of my trip click here: (blog in process, please check back!)

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SHELLEY’s TRAVEL TIPS

Before I share our adventures I wanted to talk a little bit about planning a trip.  It truly is an art and there are some tips that I can share to help make it easier.

TIP 1: TRIP TRACKER

First, I create a simple spreadsheet to help keep things organized.  Below is an example of what you can track. Also, note that I have multiple pages which highlight my notes. I also track confirmation numbers, cancellation policies, and notes. This is a quick glance document that helps you organize your trip. Any other suggestions are appreciated- please drop them in the comments section!

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TIP 2: GUIDE BOOK

You may also want to create a Guide Book that has everything you need to know about your trip. I do this in a PowerPoint file and adjust the size of the slide so it’s 8.5 x 11.  Below is a screen shot of my guide book.   I just take screen shots of my reservations, sights I want to see, places I want to eat, cancellations, airline information, etc. and then print this before I leave.  This can be emailed to your friends and family so they know where you are.

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Stay tuned for the upcoming blogs!  Either check back or please follow to be the first to read them! Photogirl and Mom!!!!

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Summer on the Cape at The Elegant Chatham Bars Inn

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When you think of summers on the Cape what comes to mind? Cool breezes, tennis whites, docksiders and fine sandy beaches? So true, but the the Olde New England charm is amplified if you take a hard turn off Edgartown’s Main Street, dotted with shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants and tourists…and head into the quite, tree-lined neighborhoods. As you stroll away from the crazy streets packed with tourists, you’ll find lawns sweeping up toward historical mansions that will take your breath away.

You’ll also find a historical inn known as the Chatham Bars Inn or, CBI as the locals call it. Build in 1914, the CBI offered wealthy travelers from Boston and New York a luxurious setting.  Coming in by horseback or Buick B25s, they could escape the heat and find solace on the cool beaches that surrounded the resort. CBI history

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Today, you’ll find the charm of the inn, interlaced with the historical beauty  from the turn of the century, providing a relaxing break from the stresses of the world.  Away from the hustle and bustle of Main Street, where tourists crowd in and out of shops, the resort allows their guests to relax in peace while still being able to walk to town. As you enter the hotel you’re surrounded by subtle elegance.  A fire burns day and night bringing a warming touch to the large gathering room. 

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The reception area holds accents from the past and you’ll find the actual welcome desk used in the early 1900’s (at least I think it’s the original one).  Imagine the families arriving, hot and tired from the long ride from Boston…and there you stand in the same spot over 100 years later.

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IMG_5404The rooms are lovely and if you can get one with a balcony you’ll be delighted with comfortable chairs to take in the sweeping view. 

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As you leave the main hotel you’ll find exterior buildings along with an ocean-front restaurant. We ate at a table located by the beach and had a really delicious lunch.  Dinner in the tavern was equally good and the mussels were one of the best meals we had on the entire trip. 

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Continuing your walk along the winding paths, you’ll find the pool area and chairs nestled along the beach. It was a little overcast and cold when we were there, but the weather added to the relaxing ambiance of the hotel. Our visit was in late May so the spring flowers were in bloom and the air smelled of lilacs.

After a night of playing cards (Mom beat me almost every time!) we woke to fresh brewed coffee and a brisk morning walk. Below you’ll see Mom noting how high the snow must get by the markers found on the fire hydrants! Breakfast was amazing and included in the price of our room.  As you walk through the french doors you’re met with the smell of fresh baked pastries, dishes overflowing with fresh fruit, meats, cheeses, along with hot selections. 

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After breakfast we were off to catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyards. Imagining what the inn looked like in the 1900’s I came across this image and found there was a dock you could stroll along to get out to the sandy beaches. Now, there is an elegant pathway that takes you along flower lined beds. Chatham Bars Inn – we truly loved our stay! Thank you!

Then….
And now!

To view the blog on Martha’s Vineyard please check back!

All historical photos were found on and are property of the Chatham Bars Inn website.

All other photos are copyright 2019 Shelley D Spray. Images can not be used, all rights reserved.

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End of the Day

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It’s 7:40pm and the end of the day here in beautiful Los Gatos CA. I’ve been making homemade pizza and tonight had a hot steaming piece with some fresh arugula and an avocado out on my swing watching my birds. What a nice end to the day…💗💗💗💗💗.

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Capay Almond Festival

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Last Sunday I decided to scout out the area that will host the Capay Valley Almond Festival on February 24, 2019.  The blossoms are everywhere here in Los Gatos, CA where I live so I figured they would be weighing the branches down up north.  We’ve had tons of rain this season. It’s probably normal for this time of year but it always catches me off guard, making me long for the sun.  Sunday looked to be sunny so I planned an early departure.

52327029_10157029441381489_3154828421519900672_nMy first tip for any trip is start out early! I can never understand why people leave late when they’re off on an adventure. And by late, I mean 10:00 or past. Why not get there as early as possible so you have time to relax, explore and to top it off, miss the traffic?

I pushed off around 6:30 am as soon as the rain stopped with coffee in hand. The sun was creeping up over the mountains and the air was clean after a night of rain.  With the rest of the world asleep – I can attest to this since no one was on the highway – I worked my way north over to highway 680 and then up to 505 north.  Before I take you through the trip I’d recommend, let me tell you a little bit about the festival.

The Capay Valley Almond Festival began in 1915 and is the only five town event in Northern California.  I image that first year and the excitement of driving along the back roads in a brand-new Detroiter motor car (photo below) with the wind blowing through ones hair, smelling the fresh air while white blossoms would be falling around you like spring snow.

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Well, 104 years later the festival is upon us again. This “traveling” festival takes you through five Capay Valley towns including Esparto, Capay, Brooks, Guinda and Rumsy. Here is a map that I got from the Esparto Regional Chamber of Commerce.  I used it as a reference when I did my scouting trip and can offer some thoughts if you have the opportunity to go. I marked a few places in red and to make it easy, I’ve provided addresses so you can easily drop them into your GPS. Let me note that because I went a week early there were very few blossoms.  So I can’t WOW you with a bunch.  But trust me, if you go when they are blooming you’ll be amazed.  Here are some examples with some photo credits. (Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Foods, GreaterCapayValley.org)

Back to the map:

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  1. Historic Oakdale Ranch: 17785 Country Road 86A, Esparto, CA (Bring breakfast and coffee to enjoy by the lake)
  2. Country Road (CR) 22: Directions below
  3. Road Trip Bar & Grill: 24989 CA-16, Capay, CA 95607
  4. Seka Hills Olive Mill: 19326 Rd 78, Brooks, CA 95606 (Olive oil /wine taste and have lunch outside)
  5. Western Yolo Grange: 16787 Forest Ave, Guinda, CA 95637
  6. Early dinner in Yountville: Head south via highway 128

1. Historic Oakdale Ranch: 17785 Country Road 86A, Esparto, CA 

This was a little hard to find and there was actually no one there when I went.  However, they may have folks at the site the day of the festival.  It was very pretty and remote with a small lake, palm trees and a dock.  Bring coffee and breakfast with you and sit by the waterside as a start to your tour.

 

Best way to get there so you take the scenic drive: When you’re on 505 look for 29A and exit left. Make your first right (89) and head north to Country Road 23, then right on Country Road 86A. The ranch will be on your right. The sign is a little hard to find so keep your eyes peeled.

2. Country Road 22

I tried to find the Freeheart Farms and Event Center and never did.  What I did find was Country Road 22 and it was beautiful.  Lined with almond trees, fields dotted with grazing horses and even a family of peacocks it’s a must see road. From the Historic Oakdale Ranch head south on Country Road 86A and make a right on Country Road 23. Pass Country road 85B and the next road is Country Road 22. When you get to the end of CR 22 drive along CR 87, 14 and 85 as noted in the map above to see more almond blooms.

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3. Road Trip Bar and Grill

This is a well-known restaurant / bar with a lovely outdoor dining area.  It also has a tribute to Veterans which was nice to see.   I would recommend to order their special of the day.  When I was there it was a French dip and the couple next to me got it and it looked amazing.

4. Seka Hills Olive Mill

I absolutely fell in love with this place. Make sure  you enjoy the trees which line the drive up to the store and tasting room.  They have a beautiful outdoor seating area located under olive trees.  You can olive oil / wine taste which was great fun.  You can also have a glass of wine and order food to eat outside.  I’d recommend to have lunch here.

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5. Western Yolo Grange

I actually never saw this place but read about it in a blog from last year. It sounds like they have a number of festival events so you might want to check it out. All along the drive you’ll see almond blossoms so take your time and enjoy.

6. Back home along high 128 over to Yountville/Napa for an early dinner at Ottimo

Once you’re explored the festival consider taking an alternative route home and head over to the Yountville/Napa area and have an early dinner at Ottimo where they have the absolute best pizza!  The route I recommend is highway 128 west to 29 south.  You’ll pass lake Berryessa and drive through the countryside that will make you feel like you’re on a movie set.

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Early Dinner at Ottimo: 6525 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

Ottimo is located in the quaint town of Yountville among shops, restaurants and tasting rooms.  It’s absolutely charming and the pizza is some of the best I’ve ever had.  Michael Chiarello is the founder and a well known chef.  Ottimo means “optimal” and it certainly is.

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You can either stay the night up in Napa or head home. If you start early this is an easy day trip. Please let me know if you go in the comments section!  XO Photogirl.

Here’s a map showing where Capay is in relation to Yountville

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