Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 6:47 PM | 3 comments

Sea Kayaking!

Today, Kyle and I drove to the North Shore again for a sea kayaking tour of Ipswich Bay. To our amazement, we were the only two people on the tour. The weather was overcast and perfect. Our guide, Marina, is in Ipswich for the summer, but calls Newfoundland, Canada her home. Kyle was also born in Newfoundland, so that created a connection right away.
We pulled into a little cove by this lighthouse for a break.
Kyle took this photo!

After our tour was over, we went to lunch at Causeway (recommended by our guide), near Gloucester. It is a Bring Your Own Liquor establishment, but wisely someone set up a liquor store next door. Kyle bought an IPA beer, and then we got in the long line for the restaurant. We waited about 30 minutes outside before we were seated, but (compared to the line at the Clam Box of a previous weekend), this place was worth the wait. You wouldn't believe the portions. I had seafood marinara with squids, scallops, shrimp and mussels. It could have fed four people. The place doesn't look that nice from the outside, and it has a beat up diner feel inside, but he food was great. We will definitely have to go back.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 5:33 PM | No comments

In our back yard

Kyle and I spent most of Saturday, the 21st, at home, but we did venture just outside the base for a quick walk:

We are so happy to have such beauty and history so close to us.

We have also had a lot of squirrel activity in our back yard and Kyle caught this moment on his phone:


Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:24 PM | No comments

North Shore

On Saturday, August 14th, we spent the day driving along the coast of the North Shore (i.e., just north of Boston), taking in the beaches and towns along the way.

View Larger Map

Our scenic drive started in Manchester by the Sea, but our first stop was in Gloucester. This town is portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm. We walked to the harbor, through some neighborhoods, down the adorable main street with the local toy and gardening stores, and finally ended up in a little seafood restaurant for lunch. Julie had her first East Coast Lobster, and Kyle tried a lobster roll. We even splurged and had a wonderful blueberry marscapone cake for dessert.

We drove around the coast a little more and witnessed a few weddings taking place by the sea. In fact, as we drove by one, the groom was stating that his bride was his best friend. It was so sweet. The next town was Rockport. Wow, was this place busy. We did stop and located a packed local beach near the downtown, but this crowd was just too much for us so back in the car we went. However, Rockport is supposed to be an artist colony, so we will attempt to go back when summer is over and the crowds have disappeared. Continuing down the road led us to Good Harbor Beach, which was packed with locals enjoying one of the remaining summer weekends. We elected to drive on and ended up going to Halibut Point State Park. We hiked around the park, taking in the quarry in the middle of the park and the boulder-filled coastline.
We originally had thought that we would go swimming during the day at a beach somewhere along our trip, but all of the beaches required resident permits to park and enjoy the beach. However, we did cross one little beach that had only one family on it, so we opted to park in their private lot for a few minutes to enjoy the soft sand. Julie was able to put her feet into the cold Atlantic, and Kyle skipped some stones.
We also had a surprise in the middle of the road, some turkeys were slowing down traffic.
Next on our journey were Essex and Ipswich. According to our travel book, both towns seemed to be known for their fried clams. When we drove through Essex, the lines at both clam shacks were crazy long. So we decided to continue on. When we arrived in Ipswich, we approached another clam shack, also with a long line, but we decided to stop and see what the fuss was about. We waited in line for a long time, made our order for some native clams, waited some more and finally tasted what everyone was there for. Julie enjoyed the clams, but Kyle wasn’t too impressed. Neither of us felt they were worth the long wait, but we had to give it a try. After all, it is the local custom.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:16 PM | No comments

Mount Monadnock

The day after we walked all over Boston, we drove to Monadnock State Park in New Hampshire, about an hour north of us. Our plan was to summit Mount Monadnock, which is supposed to have 360-degree views from the treeless top. On our way we stopped at a farm with a roadside restaurant to fill up our tanks before embarking on our hike. After eating, it was a quick drive to the park where the ranger recommended we take the white dot trail to the top. Following his guidance, we started hiking around 1pm. One thing we noticed right away is that there were a lot more people hiking than you normally see in NM or CO. Sure there are tons of people out and about in CO, but when you go hiking in CO, you only run into people here and there. On this trail, people were everywhere. There was never a moment alone. The hike itself was challenging, but not as hard as CO hiking thanks to the lower elevation. The main challenge was the large rocks that we continually had to climb up.

It was a beautiful area and well worth the trek up the mountain. When you do finally get to the top, at 3,165 ft, you do have a great view. We spent a few minutes relaxing at the top with about 100 other hikers, and then got in line to hike back down the mountain.

All in all, it took us a few hours to go up and back down again. To finish off our day, we drove to a little quaint town in New Hampshire called Keene. Sadly most of the shops were closed, but we enjoyed a little treat in a local candy shop before we found a brewery/restaurant for dinner. That night we were exhausted. A weekend of walking all over Boston and then an afternoon of hiking destroyed us. In fact, we were still beat the following weekend, so we elected to do more driving than walking.

Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 12:19 PM | No comments

A Day in Boston

Back on the 7th, we ventured into Boston. It was our first subway ride into town, and even with a required bus trip due to subway repairs, we made it safely to the Boston Commons. We strolled through the park noticing how many people were out and about enjoying the summer day. After our stroll, we headed over to the visitors center for the Freedom Trail, which is located in the Commons. From there we started to walk the trail with our audio tour, which we downloaded to our new phones. We spent the day wandering the streets of Boston along the trail. We had seen part of the trail during a walking tour we took when we came out for Kyle’s interview, but it was a good to hear some of the history again.

Here is a map of the trail that is online via www.thefreedomtrail.org/maps/pdfs/boston-nps-map.pdf

We wandered along the trail to Paul Revere’s in the North End. This area of Boston is well known for its Italian cuisine, so we stopped there for lunch at Giovanni’s. The inside is tiny and cramped, but that prompted us to chat with the friendly couple next to us. Their table was about 4 inches from our table. They were from New Hampshire, but they had some useful information about the Boston area.

Paul Revere Statue & Old North Church
 After leaving our new acquaintances, we continued down the trail to the USS Constitution. After one look at the line of people waiting to get on the ship, we decided to do that tour another day. However, we did go into the free museum and spent about an hour there. We actually learned quite a bit. For example, we learned about the Barbary Wars. While this was probably taught in history class, we didn’t recall that the US fought a war around 1800 on the Barbary Coast (Northern Africa: Algeria, Tripoli, what is now modern-day Libya). Apparently, the rulers there made a living by using corsairs (i.e., state-sponsored pirates) to exact tribute from merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding area. Long story short: Jefferson decided that enough was enough. He ordered the development of a strong navy, and, combined with a clever overland offensive from Egypt, the US put an end to these tributes. We’ve had a strong navy ever since. Good thing too, considering the following War of 1812.

We learned some other interesting tidbits as well, like lime juice was once used as invisible ink which appears when the paper is heated (I, Julie, will have to try that one out sometime.). The museum was great and we highly recommend it. They had a fabulous kid area too where you could dress up like a shipmate, sleep in hammocks and haul a fake goat aboard your imaginary ship. From the museum we went up to bunker hill and finished the trail.

After some ice cream and a brief walk along the harbor, we headed back towards the Commons, passing a neighborhood festival along the way. When we got to the Commons, we found a performance of Othello in progress: a free performance in front of a large audience. It was a very impressive set up. You could hear the actors perfectly from where we were (about 100 yards away from the stage).

Sadly we had come into the middle of the play so we decided to go eat instead. After meandering between a few places, we settled on 75 Chestnut, which is a hidden treasure just a few small blocks off the Commons. We knew about it because it was highlighted in a recent NY Times article. It was busy, but wow the food was good. Kyle had a seafood stew that was incredible. We will definitely be heading back. After dinner we hopped back on the subway for home.
Blogged by Julie & Kyle


Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 11:42 AM | 1 comment

By Request

I had a request to post some photos of the font and back of our new home, so here they are:
The base provides free mulch so I added that to the front and planted a few flowers.
Added the mulch here too and I am trying to grow the grass, which was pretty much dead.

We became the hit of the neighborhood when we put up our bird feeder.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:57 AM | 2 comments

Small World

As mentioned earlier, Kyle and I live on base and we are in a townhome. To be precise, we live in a duplex and therefore have only one connected townhome to ours. The family in that home consists of a cute couple, Ernie and Laura, with their 7-month-old, Benjamin, and their four-footed companion, Bear, at over 160lbs:

I was chatting with Laura one morning about Alamogordo, NM as they used to be stationed there not too long ago. I mentioned that my sister-in-law worked at the test track. Laura asked me who my sister-in-law was and low and behold Deneen, my sister-in-law, sang at Laura's wedding. Deneen's best friend was Laura's mentor at the track… We move cross-country and live right next to people who are connected to our family. I could be wrong, but I think they are going to be great neighbors.

Side note: We have introduced Frik & Frak to Bear, with tons supervision and a fence in between. Frik & Frak raised their hair and moved towards the fence showing no fear. Bear jumped around in a playful fashion and our cats decided he wasn’t that interesting and went back to looking at the trees.


Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 3:07 PM | 5 comments

Wiens New England Bed and Breakfast open for business!

The B&B is already booked for October, but we hope that family and friends will come by throughout the year. The basement pub is still under construction, but perhaps it will be ready in time for October Fest.


Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:55 AM | 2 comments

Moving On

Kyle and I have left Lubbock and moved on to the next stage of our lives: life on the east coast – Massachusetts, to be exact. We made some friends in Lubbock, but it was just not the place for us. A little over a year ago, Kyle interviewed with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Hanscom AFB to study space weather. The job seemed interesting, even though Kyle had little to no experience in space weather. Plus, the job would entail living in the Boston area for a year before relocating to Albuquerque. Why not? After a long delay and a lot of paperwork, Kyle was offered the job. Following a day of intense (and frankly, sloppy) packing by the moving company, our mover arrived on July 15th to take away the bulk of our possessions. We tossed the cats in the car, and our adventure began.

However, it seemed as if Lubbock didn’t want to let us go. We were sitting in our car half way out of the garage when our landlord accidentally started to close the garage door on us. Luckily I had the car started already and was able to get it in gear and out of the garage before the door came crashing down on our car. I think the garage door missed the car by just an inch or two. Traffic and construction were the next hurdles we had to overcome, but eventually we made it out of Lubbock. Following a celebratory kiss, we honored a Neel family tradition of singing On the Road Again by Willie Nelson to begin our trip.

That night we arrived in Elk City, OK where we tried out our first KOA. We rented a kabin, which is a single room with a double bed. Nothing fancy, but we enjoyed the lake nearby during an evening walk. We had hoped to have a fancy celebratory dinner, but there were not many choices in Elk City, so we settled for a tiny shrimp tray and some cheap champagne. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but it was still a celebration. The next night we drove to Little Rock, AR and “camped” at another KOA. The site was very pretty and full of the creaking calls of cicadas. While in Little Rock, we had dinner at this great catfish place called Cock of the Walk. The restaurant was nestled among trees, next to a pond, and was well off the beaten path. Not sure if they farmed their own catfish right there in the pond, but the food was great regardless. Our next day brought us to Monterey, TN, which is a cute and laidback little town just east of Nashville. We enjoyed some great BBQ at a tiny shack called Uncle Hoss, and I had my first official taste of sweet tea. After a good night’s sleep in a real bed, we continued on through Tennessee and into Virginia. Beautiful country, and so many trees! We couldn’t help ourselves from taking a slight detour to sample a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through that part of the country. We drove only about 30 miles of it within Virginia, and we’d like to go back and drive the rest. It was truly scenic and peaceful. We highly recommend checking out Blue Ridge if you get a chance. It kind of reminded us of the winding roads along the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Anyway, after that detour, we arrived at bit late to our next destination: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Staunton, VA. This B&B was the cutest place. It was modeled in the style of an English country cottage, completed with thatched roof and immaculate garden. We were the only people there that night, and our room was adorable. It had it’s own private deck that Frik and Frak fully enjoyed. 

 After a nice home-cooked breakfast prepared by the ex-Brit innkeeper, we voyaged on, passing through the corners of W, Virginia and Pennsylvania before entering New Jersey. To the wealth of trees was now added a wealth of traffic, but it wasn’t too bad. We found our way to Ridgewood, NJ where we stayed with my stepsister Leah and her family. It was a nice night of pizza, Apples to Apples and some catching up. Sadly, we could only stay one night in NJ as we had to arrive at Hanscom Air Force Base (AFB) on the 20th. It was a quick and busy drive from NJ through New York and Connecticut and into Massachusetts. We arrived at the base in the mid-afternoon, and after a little bit of a hold up at the base gate, we checked into some temporary housing and breathed a sigh of relief. Voyage complete. Kyle started work the next day.

Next step: find a more permanent place to live. After a lot of online review and a few in-person visits, we decided to live on base and moved into our townhome on the 25th. We hadn’t originally planned to live on the base, but it turned out to be a pretty sweet deal. The townhome is nice; Kyle can walk to work in 5 minutes, which frees up the car for me and saves him the frustration of commuting (which he hates); we like our neighbors so far; and it’s a very safe neighborhood. Of course, we didn’t have any furniture yet, but the base loans out sleeping pads and kitchen items. Our furniture arrived on the 29th, and we already have most of it unpacked. Hopefully by this next week we will be completely done unpacking so that we can spend our future weekends exploring New England.

If you have ever lived or traveled in New England and have recommendations of things to do and see, please send them our way.